Sunday free-for-all – June 8, 2014

Olive on standIt’s our second Sunday free-for-all.

Since we limited Friday’s open thread to work-related discussions, this comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. Have at it.

{ 875 comments… read them below }

  1. NW Cat Lady*

    Just wanted to comment again on how adorable your kitties are!

    And I finally got my first foster of the year! Little orange boy who is very friendly, and very, VERY loud.

      1. NW Cat Lady*

        Oh, no, this guy screams his head off when he’s left alone. Luckily, all my cats are talkers, so it really doesn’t bother me.

  2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    We settle on our new house in five days!

    We are first homeowners so this is very exciting/terrifying — any tips, anything we may not have thought of?

    1. Lola*

      Congratulations!
      I have 2 tips:
      1.Try to pace yourself on buying furniture & new house stuff. It’s so tempting to go crazy and try to do everything at once.
      2.If you can possibly afford to pay a little extra off your mortgage every month – do it! It’s amazing what a difference it can make over the life of the loan.
      Good luck, enjoy your new home!

      1. Jessa*

        But make sure you specify that it’s to go to principle. Otherwise they’ll just post it against interest and do you no good.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Have a little savings put by for repairs – on the house, in the house – having a been a homeowner since my early 20’s, in my experience, – something and it may be big or it may be small and tiny – is always breaking/in need of repair.

          1. Liz in a Library*

            This a million times over.

            Even if your inspection checked out perfectly, something is always going to break. Most of the time, you’re going to have *something* break every year. Usually it will be smaller things, but some times it will be big ones, so this is really smart advice.

            Within the first five years of owning our home, we had to replace the roof, replace all the plumbing leading to the sewer line, deal with a burst pipe that lead to completely gutting three badly water damaged rooms. It was a giant mess, and you don’t want to have to put those kinds of repairs on credit because you weren’t planning on them (like we did, and we are still digging out).

            Congrats on the new house! Despite all the above, home ownership can be awesome. It’s so nice to know that the place you are taking care of is yours and you can do whatever you’d like with it.

            1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

              Congrats! Agree with this suggestion — every homeowner needs an emergency repair fund. You might be facing something smaller scale such as needing a new water heater immediately because the old one just dumped water over the floor (couple of hundred bucks) to something much larger (new roof = major money). You might want to research and set targets for the more vulnerable parts of your house that you know are aging or will need replacement at some point.

              Also — all those recommended practices (different according to climate and location) like clean out your gutters, bleed your water heater, fix small leaks immediately? Do them! It lessens the chances of major unexpected repairs later. We were always told that the most damaging element to the fabric of a house is uncontrolled water (no matter how small the leak or damp patch may seem at first), so whatever you do, address water damage immediately.

              1. Carrie in Scotland*

                As someone who has spent over £2000 (about $3360) – and that is just my share (there are 6 flats in the building) on roof repairs/water damage I can +1000 this.

    2. Kay*

      Congrats! We’ve been in our house almost a year. You want to make sure you know what rooms everything is going to before you actually move it. This may sound like common sense, but if you’re moving into a bigger place with more rooms, stuff that used to go in your bedroom now may be “home office” stuff or something. It also helps to set aside time in your schedule to unpack over the next several weeks. It is a long term project to get settled in.

      Also, since you’re owning instead of renting, start making yourself a list of “renovations”. Even if you’re buying a brand new home there are things that you’re going to want to make your own. You’ll want to paint bedrooms and other rooms, possibly build some shelves, maybe there’s a weirdly placed light switch that you want to move. Don’t think that you’re going to do EVERYTHING on your list in the first couple months you live there. This is a long term list. We made a list of 1st year stuff we wanted to do when we moved in and we haven’t even done half of it, but I know when we have time and money the things I want to accomplish.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks for the tip about knowing where things will go. We’re buying house that has 50% more room than we have now, and about six times the land, and I’ve realized I don’t have nearly enough furniture to fill all the rooms. My friend recently had an estate sale and I was able to buy a ton of quality furniture for a fraction of what it would cost to buy new. Now I won’t have a naked house!

      1. CompuGeek*

        I love NZ. I spent some time in the hot springs in Rotorua and understand the bath house is no longer there. I also caved in Waitomo Caves back when safety was for wimps. Ahh the memories.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you’re planning on anything like painting, new carpet, new flooring, etc., do it before you move in if your budget and time table allows it. That stuff is much easier when you’re not living there yet.

        1. Serin*

          And, unlike a contractor my company did business for, if you need to have the upstairs floors sanded, schedule that to happen after the staircase is installed.

    4. Gene*

      Have a plan for any landscaping. And pay attention to the final size of any plants.

      Since you are in earthquake country, learn how to turn off your utilities and keep an appropriate tool at or near the shutoff.

    5. samaD*

      definitely an account for house expenses, as others have said!
      even if you know there are things you want to change, live with it all for a while and see how everything works for you.
      be as excited as you want to be, because your own home is a very cool thing!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Start a file or a note book. Probably both- a note book to go into the file.
      Collect up all your house hold info in the file- the furnace, AC, etc.
      Keep a note book of your repairs and add-ons. Yes, you will forget what year you replaced the kitchen plumbing or what year you put a new roof on the shed. The file and note book system gets to be a good place to keep stuff that you wonder where to keep it.

      Have a separate file that you keep in a fire safe. I have a copy of my deed, mortgage papers, insurance papers, location of my septic tank, the wiring diagram for the garage- these sorts of things that if I lose them it is a huge hassle.

      Expenses only go up. I found it very helpful to make it a habit to just routinely look for ways to reduce expenses. That way if money gets tight for a short spell, I am used to watching my pennies and it is not a hardship for me. With homes- sky’s the limit- you can sink bigggg bucks into a home- decide what is important to you and what isn’t.

      Most of all, enjoy. Congrats.

  3. LAMM*

    How do you handle family members who think because you don’t work in an office, you don’t have a “real job”?

    I’m part of the store management at a retail store. I do a hell of a lot more than fold clothes and play dress-up. But, because I’m not sitting at a desk all day, my family doesn’t see my job as a real job. They’re constantly asking me when I’m going to go back to school and get a job that relates to my degree. Which is all well and dandy and something that is 100% on my to-do list but… (1) even taking 1 class at my university is close to $2k and I’m about a dozen classes shy of my degree, (2) I actually really enjoy what I do and see a career path within retail that I think I’ll enjoy, and (3) I’m pretty damn good at my job.

    Now, I understand that I’m still young (mid-twenties) so I might decide at some point that retail might not be for me. But I’m enjoying it, I’m good at it, and I have a game plan for both finishing school and making a career out of this. Plus the money really isn’t that bad once you hit management and find the right company to work for.

    How can I explain this to my family? I understand where they’re coming from, but I’m sick of justifying my career choices to them. It’s not like they’re supporting me – I’ve been on my own for the past 6 years. I’m actually on not-quite-talking terms with them because I’m sick of hearing about it.

    1. Ali*

      I deal with this too kind of. I work from home right now and get a lot of comments along the lines of “It must be nice!” “You’re so lucky; I wish I could do that!” and “You shouldn’t complain; you have it good.” I always try to tell them the downsides of the job, like selfish coworkers who never want to cover for me then come rushing to me when they need coverage, or an unorganized boss (which can happen in any work environment), and that kind of has helped some of them see it’s not that great. But the comments continue.

      Since you’re on the opposite end of my spectrum, though, I would try explaining how far this career can take you if you’re good and enjoy it. You can show that you have a plan and are capable of making your own decisions. When my mom was wondering why I needed more skills besides writing and editing to get a communications job, I had to be really firm in explaining why those things just weren’t enough these days. She dropped the subject after that.

      I don’t know how helpful I was but I hope it works out!

      1. LAMM*

        That is helpful. Thank you! The degree I’m working towards is a BBA with a major in Marketing, so it’s not like a retail job is completely out of line with that (I just don’t know what I actually would to do with that degree).

        I’ve tried explaining the skills I’m developing in my current and past positions (analyzing sales results of types of items (jeans vs. t-shirts vs. dresses, etc.) and how to improve them, being in charge of visual merchandising for a $1 million+ store, etc.) and it made my mom drop the subject… for the rest of that conversation. The next time I talked to her though, she was right back at it.

        I will have to try this on the extended family next time I see them. Hopefully it will help with the criticism.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Consider not explaining yourself to them. You’re happy with your career and the path you’re on right now. You don’t owe them an explanation nor do you need to convince them how wrong they are about what you should be doing. Make copious use of the phrase “I’m fine with what I am doing and my career is not open to discussion.”

          It really is OK to take the topic off the table. You don’t owe anyone, even family (especially family) a defense of YOUR choices. Period.

          1. nep*

            Spot on. Why trouble yourself with finding ‘explanations’ or ‘justifications’ ? Really think about why you feel a need to justify yourself. What would change in your life if a family member were to have an ‘aha’ moment and truly get what you’re doing? Who cares? Thrive, live, love your life. Seeking to justify your choices to anyone is not a good use of your time and energy.

          2. Artemesia*

            It is called JADE — Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain — stop jading. Grownups don’t have to justify their lives repeatedly to their parents. Yes Mom has a right to express a concern about your boyfriend, job, buying decisions whatever ONCE.

            ONCE she has been heard then she needs to shut up. And a forceful statement by you ONCE that you are not discussing it further and are satisfied with your choice should then be followed by absolutely refusing to go there. for mild cases, change the subject; for difficult cases, end the conversation on the phone or leave if you are there. Make it clear that you will not be nibbled to death by ducks.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Love this.

              Depending on the relationship, I would be seriously tempted to say “Mom/dad, I have already answered this question several times. I will not be answering it any more. If you are interested in my work day stories, I will share that with you. It’s is me and a huge part of my life.
              But these long range questions are off the table, starting now.”

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I made a post further down on the larger subject but I’ll chime in here that merchandising is highly transferable skill. We’re an online B to B product sales company and I consider retail history applicants strongly for marketing positions because merchandising an online store and merchandising a retail store are “the same”. Making a choice about what you surface online and what you put in the display window, it’s the same.

          The criticism you are getting is way off base. They just don’t know what they are talking about. This is solid business experience.

        3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          If you have a job with growth potential that you really enjoy, and you’re not sure what you’d do with that degree, please consider NOT getting it for awhile! If you’re working 50-60 hour weeks (like most retail managers I know), killing yourself to get your degree a credit at a time could just be really bad.

          Retail, food, and other service industries are well known (at least in my experience) for developing people who are interested in corporate careers. It’s SUPER common for them to do things like pay for you to go to college, especially if you’re a rockstar and obviously on your way to the top. If you’re happy, just tell your parents that this IS your career, and if they’re holding their breath for a ‘fancier’ job title they should probably just exhale.

          Relatedly, do your district managers/corporate liaison/whoever know that you’re interested in moving up? If they don’t, make sure they do! Because it’s so rare to find talented people interested in moving up, they definitely want to know.

    2. Stephanie*

      My cousin is a district manager at a large retailer (I may have the title wrong–he oversees a few stores in his area). I’ve heard firsthand how much work it is. He said an office job wasn’t for him and really likes his work.

      If you feel like discussing it, you could explain what you actually do and how it’s way more than folding clothes and the skills you’re acquiring. If you don’t, I’d follow Ruffingit’s suggestion.

    3. Fruitfly*

      I think it is good that you are working in a job that is important for your future business degree. If you do not have enough job experience, you might have to do retail again even after you graduate from college. I don’t think you can get an office job without much work experience. A retail job can lead to an office job someday, if the skills you gain are relevant for the transfer.

      It is always good to have some money saved before you enroll in classes or enter into loans to enter college.

      One course cost almost $2K!!! That is almost like Grad School!

    4. Von Bomb*

      Ugh my mum can be like this about some things and I find the only way forward is to simply shut down the conversation. Ruffingit has a good wording, just saying it’s not open to discussion and move on. I also let her know I’m done with the topic for the future by saying things like “I’m really quite sick of having this discussion over and over again whether you realise you’re doing it or not”.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      And when are you going to have children and then proceed onto having a real life?

      Families are annoying like that.

      Liking what you do, enjoying your job, being energized to go to work is a gift. There are a million reasons for the right person to prefer working retail over an office environment.

      The latest CEO of UPS started out driving a truck there. I suppose his family is waiting for him to quit his silly package delivery gig and get a real job?

      While I would be tempted to tell your family to bite me, a better approach would probably be to say, “Hey, I love what I do. I’m happy. Can we please not talk about this subject any more because it makes me not want to talk to you at all?” And then cut off further approaches on the subject with firm boundaries.

      1. K.FL*

        Tidbit: UPS promotes from within; every CEO worked for UPS for decades. Eskew was the only CEO who started as a manager IIRC.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Yeah, actually I knew this. It’s an important point to highlight. Some companies are truly committed to bringing up people who start on the front lines. For all the crap McDonald’s gets, they are another one.

          1. K.FL*

            Yeah, when I see the comments from people regarding failed internal moves, I’m slightly baffled. Sure, outside candidate has 5 years of X and internal only has 3 but has exposure to the company (systems, culture, commitment, etc). And, you typically pay a premium for an outside candidate.

    6. Kay*

      Ugh, that’s so annoying. I’ve seen both sides of this issue. I think a lot of people see retail as a “dead end” job that won’t get you benefits, retirement plan, etc. That’s definitely true for the cashier-type people at big stores, but if you’re growing into management and whatnot, that should count for something.

      I have an uncle who is in his mid-40s who has always worked retail. And he is STILL supported by my grandparents because he doesn’t make enough to support himself that way. That’s not a great life plan, but I think as long as you’re supporting yourself and you’re comfortable with your lifestyle then they need to get over it.

      It may be time to have a heart-to-heart with your mom and talk about the over-arching problem instead of indulging her in the conversation. Something like: “Mom, I’ve noticed that you regularly bring up my job and think that what I’m doing isn’t a career. I really feel that it is as I work into management and feel I’ve been gaining useful skills. I love you, but I would appreciate it if you would respect my life choices in this area.”

    7. danr*

      You’re making real money… you have a real job. They’re just jealous because you’re not sitting at a desk all day.

    8. C Average*

      Remember that meme from about a year ago? “What my mom thinks I do, what my friends think I do, what my boss thinks I do, what I actually do,” with funny pictures to go with each? I think part of the reason that meme caught on the way it did is because it’s SO TRUE.

      During my dad’s long Forest Service career, when people asked me what he did at work, I shrugged and said, “Digs holes and draws maps and stuff.”

      During my mom’s equally long career as a freelance writer, when people asked me what she did, I said, “She mostly just stays home, but sometimes she writes articles for magazines.”

      I imagine my stepkids, if asked, would say I write about technology on the Internet and their dad builds microchips. (I’m an html copywriter and he’s an electrical engineer working for a microchip manufacturer?)

      I think for the most part very few people have a decent understanding of the nuances of other people’s jobs. That’s what makes these comment sections so fascinating to me: I love getting a glimpse into what people with different jobs actually DO all day.

    9. LAMM*

      Thanks for all the advice guys!

      I have 2 family events coming up in the next month (one of which is a high school grad party so I’m sure the questions and comments will be coming at full blast!) and with your help I think I’ll be able to leave a little more sane than I otherwise would have.

  4. Mimmy*

    Here’s a fun topic I’ve been dying to do on one of these threads:

    What celebrities have you met? Feel free to add any funny stories about the encounter. I’ll start!

    – Kelly Clarkson
    – Ben Vereen (stage performer)
    – Alison Krauss (bluegrass singer)
    – Tiphany Adams from Push Girls (Sundance Channel)

    1. Gene*

      Richard Dawson on the funicular at Magic Mountain, he was massively drunk.

      Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki on Main Street USA in Disneyland a week after they got married.

      Carol Burnett in the hall at MetroMedia/KTTV LA.

      Drew Carey an airport (can’t remember which one).

      Art Linkletter at the Phoenix airport, what an a7.

    2. en pointe*

      Dan Savage at the Sydney Opera House last year.

      Vicky from Geordie Shore in a lift. I stole a sideways glance at her until I said “Hey, from Geordie Shore, right? I like your hair.” And she was like “Aw nah, my hair is rank at the moment. I like your skirt.” And I was like “thanks”. And then we both got off the lift. Ha, I have a feeling my Facebook friends appreciated that story more than you guys might :)

      1. nate*

        I met Louis from One Direction….waaaaay more thrilling for the 15 year-old I was with.

    3. Anon*

      At a play, I sat beside a man who lived in the same place as James Franco, looked like James Franco, and made small talk but wouldn’t talk about himself at all.

      I figured it out later.

    4. LAMM*

      I’ve never met anyone famous… but my mom used to play Bingo with Eminem’s ex-wife if that counts (my mom is only in her 40s).

      1. en pointe*

        One of my coworkers accidentally turned down tea at Cate Blanchett’s house. She was organising carpooling, over email, with the mother of another boy from her son’s school chess team, named Cate Upton. She politely declined an offer to stay for a cup of tea after dropping the kid off because she’d been pretty busy. Didn’t realise until she got there that Upton is Cate Blanchett’s married name.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          I’ve met the band called BRMC (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) a rock band out of California. I waited like 2 hours in really bad snow and chatted to them and got a hug from their drummer who is called Leah. Good times!

    5. Lizabeth*

      I’ve seen while walking on the streets of NYC:
      George Stephanopoulos (very short but very cute)
      Henry Winkler (another short guy, stood next to him waiting at a crosswalk)
      Donald Trump (his hair has a life of its own)
      Kevin Kline (who gave me a wink and a grin when I recognized him)

    6. Kay*

      -Bo Burnham – Hilarious musical comedian. I’ve been to 3 of his shows and stayed after to meet him at 2 of them.
      -Jon Lajoie – From “The League”. Saw him for my birthday one year. Incredibly nice guy!
      -Ralphie May – Very sweet to everyone!

      I tend to stay after comedy performances. Usually comedians are happy to meet you, take pictures, sign ticket stubs or cds of performances.

      Almost met Sandra Bullock once. A girl I knew in college used to be a nanny in Hollywood and was going to get us into a party but it fell through. Oh well!

    7. nep*

      -Sophie Hunger — stunning, beautiful musician
      -Members of Tinariwen
      -Vieux Farka Toure
      -Baaba Maal
      -do politicians count? Former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank (and a few other members of Congress)
      -Brian Lamb
      -Attended a meeting / Q&A with Angelina Jolie in Sierra Leone
      -Michael Franks
      -Patrick Duffy
      -Christopher Reeve

    8. Aussie Teacher*

      When I was younger I did some modelling, and got to meet a few famous people – I went to the Home and Away wrap party at Justin Melvey’s house on Bondi Beach, got to sing with Human Nature at a meet ‘n’ greet when I was filming a modelling reality TV show, and had a cosy dinner with Sean William Scott (American Pie, Dude Where’s My Car) and just 2 other people. That was fun!

    9. IT Business Analyst*

      Went to high school with Billy Ray Cyrus. He had no idea I was alive.

      But my best and favorite is in the mid 70s, I got to see Secretariat,1973 triple crown winner, on the farm he went to when he retired from racing and was put out to stud. Awesome horse.

    10. Tomato Frog*

      I sat on Isabella Rossellini’s lap. Sadly, I don’t actually recall the experience.

    11. nyxalinth*

      I met Porl Thompson (former and now current guitarist for The Cure) at an art exhibit. Very lovely person.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I met and spoke for a few minutes with Woody Harrelson when he drove through my very small town with a group of his friends. He was stoned at the time.

    12. Felicia*

      Josh Ramsay, the lead singer of Mariana’s Trench. I was interviewing him for a school paper and he was a total asshole. Most memorably when asked what he’d want to do if he couldn’t be in a band his answer was “rape college students.” and he was at a college. I think he was joking but not funny.

      I’ve also met Anna Silk, the star of Lost Girl, and she was so nice and complimented my shirt :) Also so pretty!

      I’ve met Zachary Quinto while Heroes was big, and there was a pregnant woman right in front of me in line and she told him she wanted to name his baby Sylar. He told her “Please don’t do that, it’s a bad idea.”

      1. Felicia*

        I also went to high school with someone from Degrassi (Shane Kippel I think was his name) and saw him a few times a week – but i never spoke to him and most people of my age who went to a public high school in Toronto can probably say the same.

        My grandma went to high school with William Shatner, and she said he was a nerd

            1. Felicia*

              Haha I had no idea who he was, my friend had to tell me! I never watched Degrassi . But now you guys all know where I went to high school :) The drama room at my school had a sort of common area in the middle, and then it split off into two separate rooms, so his drama class (he was in a different grade) was at the same time as my drama class, just in the room next door, so I’d see him in the common room.

        1. en pointe*

          I had the biggest crush on Shane Kippel in my tweens, and am now jealous of you. Oh, Degrassi.

          1. Felicia*

            Haha I never actually talked to him, but I’d see him once a day because his drama class was right next to mine at the same time. We all took off our shoes in the same area, so there’s that! The drama teacher of that class was my drama teacher the next year and she’d talk about what a slacker he was :) I never actually watched Degrassi though – I don’t think many people at my school did at the time. I don’t know if this is accurate but although it’s a Canadian show it’s always seemed more popular among Americans.

            There’s a particular public high school in Toronto that’s known for its special arts program, so a LOT of the actors on Degrassi went there. I had some friends from middle school who were zoned for the regular program at that school, so I sort encountered Jake Epstein from Degrassi at one of their parties once (he asked me to pass him some Pepsi, lol very exciting) . I have no idea who he played, but I guess that’s famous too!

    13. Prickly Pear*

      This is a secondhand story, but it cracks me up. My parents know 95% of the city we live in, according to me. They used to have dinners where everyone just showed up and threw down. (I’m pretty sure my sister and I were the reason this ended.) One of the kids that used to attend grew up to be Mike Epps, which amused me to no end. Even more amusing was when he came back to town for some event, ran into my parents, and my dad failed to recognize him, both personally and as a celeb. Mike Epps chased my dad down to say hello!
      (my dad is the coolest. when he told us this story later, he said ‘do you remember Mrs X? Her grandson is in town’ and later we put the pieces together.)

    14. salad fingers*

      This is fun!

      Does Barack Obama count as a celebrity? I met him at a campaign fundraiser back when he was running for Illinois senate put on my by bffs dad. I think I was 13, don’t remember having a very substantial conversation with him beyond something about my favorite subject in school. I also remember his then very tiny daughters, and that he had one of them cozily on his hip at all times. Very cute.

      Other than that:
      Common
      Ke$ha
      Lil Romeo
      Nick Carter a couple of months ago
      Mix Master Mike
      Lauren Carter
      Monica Horan (had to look her up, a character on everybody loves raymond i guess. does that count?)
      A feel like a lot of other ones that don’t immediately come to mind.

      This is all through my job, so I have lots of fun, confidential stories about how celebrities treat people behind the scenes ;-)

      1. C Average*

        I think Barack Obama absolutely counts as a celebrity! I would be speechless if I met him. I’m such a fangirl I have a Barack Obama action figure on my desk.

        1. Mimmy*

          Agreed!! I have a friend who’s met him 2 maybe 3 times! And I think he even recognized her!

      2. cuppa*

        I have also met Barack Obama, back when he was campaigning for Illinois senate. We waited for breakfast together, and he told me his eggs were taking a while. :)

    15. Mimmy*

      Forgot to mention that I shook hands with former VP Dick Cheney at a pep rally for a local politician while visiting my husband’s family.

      Also, I have to share my Kelly Clarkson story (it was late when I started this thread). It’s funny and embarrassing at the same time: I’d won a Meet & Greet through her fan club in 2005. (I’m still, to this day, a huge fan). So, my friend and I are in line, I’m trying to psych myself up. She pushes me ahead of her. So I’m all set…it’s my turn…..and my brain pretty much shuts down right there. Yup, 31 years old, and I’m as speechless as a starstruck teenager! She had to approach me and give me a hug to try to engage me, which was of little help. It wasn’t her fault…she was sick and wasn’t allowed to talk much, and I was essentially having an out-of-body experience. You can even tell in the picture I took with her that I wasn’t all the way there. When I was done, I lost it…sobbing right into the arms of the venue worker that was watching. lol. Again, 31 years old -.- but it was just such an emotional experience for me that I finally met someone I idolized. My friend’s picture was funny too–her grin was ear-to-ear.

      The worst part is that it sent me into an evil spell of depression that didn’t let up for over a month :( But that was probably my fault–I’d had a lot on my plate already as I was in grad school at the time and wrapping up that semester.

    16. Ask a Manager* Post author

      – Dave Matthews, when he wasn’t quite so famous
      – most of the band 311
      – Chrissy Hynde
      – Alicia Silverstone
      – Dick Gregory
      – G. Gordon Liddy
      – a bunch of politicians, (Barbara Boxer, Barney Frank, Duncan Hunter, Bob Barr, etc.)

      And I once got publicly chastised by Al Gore for disrupting his speech (which was my job at the time) during his presidential election campaign.

      Oh, and I once dated someone whose band’s music video I later saw being made fun of by Beavis and Butthead, which I think is the coolest item on this list.

      1. Andrea*

        I was walking in back of John Slattery of Mad Men on Friday near Wa Sq Park. Distinctive voice. Late for a movie, so I had to squeeze past him and hoof it. I thought he would be taller.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        You don’t have to answer. But how did Liddy seem to you?

        I read his biography years and years ago. He was,um, different.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          He had proposed what would have been the largest animal testing program in U.S. history through the EPA (testing industrial chemicals, including those for which the risks were already well-known, like turpentine and rat poison). Pretty much every animal protection group in the country was protesting it, as were companies like Colgate-Palmolive and Procter & Gamble. I was working for an animal protection organization fond of colorful demonstrations in public. A coworker and I snuck into a speech he was giving, jumped on our chairs mid-speech, unfurled a banner, etc.

          I was 26 and didn’t mind making a spectacle of myself at the time.

          1. C Average*

            Now I’m picturing that as an “additional skills” item on a resume: “willing to make a spectacle of myself for the sake of a good cause.”

    17. Persephone Mulberry*

      I chatted with Jesse Ventura (and got his autograph, which I still have in a box somewhere) at a Christmas party shortly after he was elected governor of Minnesota. At the time I was a political science major (ah, freshman naivete) so it was a Pretty Big Deal for me.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I have so many questions for you, only a handful of which are appropriate for this forum. :) I heart Workaholics, and was super bummed when I ALMOST got to meet them at a work event, but they bailed the day of.

    18. Stephanie*

      Politicians count? I met Rick Perry (current Texas governor) in high school. He is really tall, kind of orange, and has very well-coiffed hair in person (it does not move).

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh, continuing the governor trend. I ran into Jan Brewer (current Arizona governor) in a bathroom. I was touching up my makeup and this woman was talking to me while she was peeing. Her voice sounded really familiar and I realized who it was once she left the stall. She is a little frightening-looking in person.

        I also saw Brad Pitt in Georgetown once.

      2. Felicia*

        If politicians count, I’ve met Jack Layton 2 months before he died. I’ve also met Rob Ford …though Rob Ford was probably to drunk to remember.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          Jack Layton would’ve been cool to meet, he seemed so nice and down to earth.

          Are you sure Ford was drunk and not stoned? ;)

          1. Felicia*

            I think he was drunk at that time, but since he does crack in his “drunken stupors” then maybe both? He was definitely slurring his words and stumbling a bit.

            Jack Layton was really nice – when he goes to an event he really mingles in the crowd, and asks people how they’re doing and really seems like a nice person who actually cares and wants to experience the event like everyone else. I was super nerdy and told him I really liked him and was going to vote for him (it was before the 2011 election, and I did). He said thank you and that he appreciates it :) I’ve also met Olivia Chow last year at Toronto Pride, and she was very nice. I was wearing a shirt with a pickle on it that said “Eat me I’m kosher” and she said it was a nice shirt. I think I’ll be voting for her in October.

    19. Elizabeth*

      I met Joshua Jackson and Patrick Stewart after a show they were in in London.
      I met Pope Benedict when I worked for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Joshua Jackson AND Patrick Stewart? I. am. so. jealous.

        (Yes, I would be more excited about meeting Patrick Stewart than the Pope.)

    20. samaD*

      Adrian Paul (Highlander) walked by & grinned when my Mum & I were at a bus stop discussing swordfighting :)

      1. Chinook*

        Adrian Paul smiled while you were discussing sword fighting? How cool. Too bad he didn’t give his opinion, though.

    21. EA*

      Gary Sinise (actor)
      Warwick Davis (actor)
      Peter Mayhew (actor)
      Gordie Howe (NHL hockey player)
      Eric Nystrom (NHL hockey player)
      Brendan Morrison (NHL hockey player)
      Kelly Monaco (Dancing with the Stars and Soap Opera actress)
      Julie Berman (Soap Opera actress)
      The 2006 lineup of Rockapella (Scott, Kevin, John, George, Jeff)
      Mike Love (Beach Boy)
      Mark McGrath (Sugar Ray)

    22. Lamington*

      The whole band of Third Eye Blind. A little punk band The Starting Line and a few Olympians: Lolo Jones, Julie Chu and Kikkan Randall. Also I have seen 2 Mexican actors/ singers shopping in the Texas Outlets.

    23. Lillie Lane*

      Tim Gunn, Harry Connick, Jr. and Dick Winters (Band of Brothers). I was most starstruck for the last one (RIP Maj. Winters)!

    24. louise*

      I went to 6th grade through all off high school with one of the female leads on PBS’s Electric Company. It was a tiny school where we all knew each other and the default was to consider someone a friend unless you actively disliked each other, so I can say we were friends. :) Also, I met a ton of Christian music artists in a past life as a radio show host.

    25. Alyssa*

      My mom went to high school with Walt Willey (All My Children–he played Jackson Montgomery, Erika Kane’s love interest) and his family went to my church so when he came to visit we would see him regularly. His best friend is Kim Johnson of Monty Python fame and he is a member of my home church and went to high school with my mom.

      Ray Lahood

      Other than that:
      Brian Urlacher through a summer job
      Alex Brown (former Chicago Bear)

      I also went to Iowa State and was an athletic training major so I met numerous future NFL, NBA, WNBA, and other athletes…a few were:
      Seneca Wallace (NFL)
      Cael Sanderson (Wrestler and Olympic Gold Medalist)
      Bobby Douglas (Coached Cael and the Olympic team)

    26. The Other Dawn*

      All the members of Def Leppard (my all-time favorite band). A few years ago I went to see them play in Atlantic City. We hung around after the concert where the buses were parked and they came out to greet us and sign autographs. When I posed for a picture with my favorite member, Phil Collen, I asked if he needed me to crouch down so he could reach me…I’m 5’11” and he’s about five inches shorter than me. I basically told the guy he’s a shrimp and I felt like a total moron! He just acted like I hadn’t said anything wrong and said, “No, no. It’s fine.” And he got his arm up around my shoulders. He was such a nice guy. And I loved hearing his accent. :)

      1. C Average*

        Lucky! Def Leppard is one of my favorite guilty pleasures. I remember watching a documentary about them back in the late ’80s and they looked like really fun guys.

        1. Liane*

          Good band! Fun fact, the teams at Arkansas School for the Deaf are the Leopards. I don’t know if they named themselves for the band, though.

        2. The Other Dawn*

          They’re all very nice and very accomodating. Now that I’m older and can afford it, I typically do the VIP tickets and end up in the front row. :) I also went to see them in Vegas last year for the Viva Hysteria residency. I did VIP, which included a meet-and-greet, pre-show reception, gift bag, photo with the band (!), and a private acoustic performance. SO WORTH IT!!

        1. anon-2*

          Brad Delp. RIP. He was a great guy, he lived in the next town over from us. I used to see him at the supermarket or hardware store, but always respected his privacy so I never met him.

          He had a Beatles tribute band – Beatlejuice – and often the group did gigs in our area , fund-raisers with low fees. Brad loved those shows — probably much more than “Boston” tours. The people of our area miss him greatly and his death was tragic.

          I didn’t know him personally, but we knew Brad Delp as a man and a vibrant, contributing community member, and people in our area would resent your calling him “lame”.

          1. Mariealena Bélanger*

            I agree, lame isn’t a word anyone with any decency would use to describe Brad. If I were in a band, I’d wear our t shirt proudly.

      2. Mimmy*

        Suuuuuuper jealous!!! I had a crush on Rick Allen, the drummer. Believe it or not, seeing his success as a one-armed drummer is partly what inspired my interest in disability issues.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, Rick is an inspiration. Such as nice guy, too. I bid on a meet-and-greet with him one year. It included a tour of the backstage area and we got to see his drum kit. Very interesting to be on the stage, rather than in the audience.

    27. Loquaciousaych*

      I’m from the same hometown as Alison Krauss, and her former instructor was my orchestra teacher for years. very *technically*, I played with her- but in one of those huge “every student in the universe as a backup to the stars* sorts of things.

      1. Loquaciousaych*

        I totally forgot about politicians. I used to work at the front desk of a newspaper; and politicians would come in all the time to get endorsements from the editorial board. I have chatted with all of the now-in-prison governors of my state, as well as the current President because of this role.

    28. C Average*

      Roger Federer
      LeBron James
      Joan Benoit Samuelson
      Kara Goucher
      Shalane Flanagan
      Kathrine Switzer

      (Yeah, they’re all sports celebrities. I’ve never met any non-sports celebrities!)

    29. Liane*

      I am a member of The Rebel Legion, one the best known Star Wars costuming organizations. We do the hero costumes :)
      So me and my family have met several people associated with SW, mainly actors.
      1-David “Darth Vader” Prowse, a wonderful sweet gentleman. I got to tell him about the standing ovation he got in a smallish Florida theater for tossing the Emperor–and saw the flash of delight in his eye, before we got to talking about his grandkids and my kids.
      2-Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew, whose height is exceeded by his friendliness and fun conversations.
      3-Amy Allen, Jedi Aayla, and Michonne Bourriague, Bounty Hunter. Lovely ladies.
      4-Richard LaParmentier, Adm. Motti, the Death Star officer choked by Vader. A master of harmless flirting who was fine if someone didn’t recognize him right off. At one science fiction convention, he started a conversation with my husband because Hubby was in Jedi robes; only after they’d been talking awhile did Hubby notice a nearby poster and realize who he was chatting with! Later that day, this guy comes up to me and another SW costumer & puts an arm around each of us. I knew I was missing *something* because Hubby didn’t react at all. Afterwards, he tells me, “that was Adm. Motti.” I got to talk to him more later and he was charming.
      4-Mike Quinn, puppeteer for Lando’s copilot in Return of the Jedi and other aliens. Also did the Woody’s Roundup episode sequences in Toy Story 2. He made a sofa come alive in an impromptu live demo of his art!
      5-Warwick Davis: Ewok Wicket, Hogwarts Prof. Flitwick, Willow.
      6-Timothy Zahn, arguably the most beloved/respected Star Wars novelist ever, and a great SF writer in general. Nice guy with a nice family, too.
      7-Game developer Jay Little, who designed the current version of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. I had the pleasure of nominating him for a Rebel Legion Honorary Membership & leading the presentation earlier this year. I wore my X Wing pilot costume, & disrupted his Q&A by barging in yelling “Make way! Alliance business!” It was planned, the panel was a sham devised by his friends to keep the honor a surpise.

    30. Kirsten*

      If politicians count, then I’ve met at least a couple dozen, from both ends of the spectrum, being a native Iowan (caucus season, y’all!) and having been involved in politics in college. Chris Dodd was by far the smoothest- asked him a question and he had both hands on my arms and leaned in for the answer, which felt odd, even in a crowded room.

      Outside of politics, I nearly met Ben Folds when he came to our national music therapy conference, but I was standing right next to him and would have been the next person he talked to when they called us to our seats for the business meeting.

      As a symphony musician as well, I’ve played with musicians and conductors such as Joshua Bell, Edgar Meyer, Leon Fleisher, and Helmuth Rilling. Edgar was fun- at one point he stopped rehearsal in order to clip a hangnail.

    31. Mallory*

      Mary Steenbergen when she came to my college to receive an honoary degree (she went there for 1 semester before dropping out to go to NYC).

      My grandparents grew up with Johnny Cash. My grandpa and some of my grandma’s brothers were friends with him; my grandma didn’t like him and it seemed to really irritate her that he got famous.

    32. Elizabeth West*

      Gah, I was cleaning all day and got in late. No one is going to see this.
      Actors:
      –Ernie Hudson
      –Michael Berryman (met him at one horror con; when I went to another one months later, he remembered me :D)
      –Pat Hingle (deceased)
      –Sir Ben Kingsley (I have a funny story about this one)
      –Ronny Cox (he came into the restaurant I worked at in CA and we said hi to each other)
      –John Hoyt (deceased)

      Writers:
      –Clive Barker (stood in line at a Fangoria con for 20 minutes to give him a compliment. I don’t do that for just anyone.)
      –John Skipp and Craig Spector
      –David Schow
      –Brian Keene (he has one of my manuscripts right now)
      –John Horner Jacobs
      –Cullen Bunn
      All of these are horror writers. It’s easy to meet them at cons. Brian just won the Grand Master award from World Horror Convention, joining the likes of Stephen King in awesomeness. :)

      Musicians:
      –Colin Hey from Men at Work (briefly, after a concert)
      –Louis Bellson (jazz drummer, deceased)

      Sports/ Misc:
      –Gracie Gold (figure skater; we used to skate together because she and her sister started here)
      –I waved a sign at Dubya’s limo

      Here’s hoping I’ll be able to add to the list after knocking around London and Cardiff. In the words of Lovey Howell, “One never knows whom one might meet.” ;D

      1. Liane*

        Just wanted you to know someone saw this, and liked it. :)
        Maybe we should do a Writers We’ve Met topic for next Sunday?

    33. TL*

      All of mine are through the bookstore I worked with:

      Jeffrey Eugenides (possibly the calmest, most thoughtful person I have ever met. Very cool. Read his books.)
      Lemony Snicket (he has a very dirty sense of humor!)
      Jeff Lindsay (wrote Dexter)
      Laura Numeroff (wrote If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Very quirky.)
      John Stossel (wrote a book on libertarianism but also had a thing on ABC called “Give Me a Break.” He seemed tired but nice.)
      Heather Donahue (starred in the Blair Witch Project)
      Christopher Paolini (wrote Eragon)
      And a big name in knitting, who I cannot remember anymore.

    34. anon-2*

      Lots.

      As a teenager, I was a dressing room steward at an auditorium that featured some famous rock acts. There would be two of us, we’d be intro’d to the band by the facility manager – “these two guys are outside your door – anything you need, you ask ’em”..

      So, I met a lot of those people but with little interaction.

      The late announcer Curt Gowdy – because my father had business dealings with him. He called the house one day looking for Dad, I answered, and he said “oh your Dad told me all about you!” then he told me who he was. Later met him a few times.

      I did a brief turn as a stringer (a writer who is not an employee but covers events for other news sources for a small fee and the experience) when I was a youngster – so I was in a couple of NBA locker rooms, also a major tennis tournament. And in recent years, a lot of baseball players.

      1. anon-2*

        I might also add – living in this corner of the country – the part of Massachusetts that juts up into New Hampshire — every four years there are a number of people who want to be President and the campaign starts here.

        And I started attending NH primary campaign events back in the 1960s. So LOTS of politicians.

    35. Meredith*

      I ran into Clay Matthews (linebacker for the Green Bay Packers) in an elevator. I was in San Diego for a conference, and the Packers were playing the Chargers for their first pre-season game. The whole team was staying at my conference hotel. I was a newly minted Packers fan at the time, and it was so exciting. I got to call my boyfriend, who is a lifelong Packers fan, and brag about it.

      I also had to tell him to get off the elevator, because the floor he was trying to get to was not accessible from the one we were on.

    36. Cath in Canada*

      – I did a charity bike ride a few years ago where the only downhill section of the course was into a ridiculously strong head wind. On the second lap there were a few of us really struggling on that section when we were passed by Trevor Linden (local hockey god) and Axel Merckx (former Tour de France rider) like we were standing still. They pulled over to wait for us and let us draft behind them. I could barely keep up, but it was a hell of an incentive!
      – I saw Linden again on the street in Whistler one New Year’s Eve. I was very sophisticated – I said “OOOOOH IT’S TREVOR LINDEN!” really loudly, and he gave me a look of mild annoyance
      – I saw one of the Sedin twins (identical twin local hockey demigods) in the supermarket once, and did not learn my lesson (“OOOOOH IT’S HENRIK OR MAYBE DANIEL”)
      – Owen Wilson looked down my cleavage at a movie wrap party once (my husband’s a carpenter in the movie industry, but it’s really rare for the actors to go to the same parties. The only other big star I’ve seen in person is Ben Stiller, at the same party, but he’s not tall enough to look down my cleavage)
      – I met Peter Beardsley, legendary England and Newcastle United footballer, when I was a kid. He was my favourite player (still is, actually) and I was completely star-struck. The best part was, we ran into him again a few weeks later and he remembered my name!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Oh and I went to high school with Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy, who was also in The Full Monty and various other things). He was in his last year when I was in my first, but I remember him in the school play!

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        I’ve heard Linden’s an ass. A friend of mine was in a parking lot one time and he comes screaming into the lot, and it’s a very tight space, so not a good idea, esp with all the older people who’d shop there. Then when he went into the liquor store and people there were oohing and ahhing over him, he was quite rude to them.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Eh, I’ve heard the same from people who bump into him randomly, but my friend knows his wife and says he’s really lovely and down to earth when you meet him in that context.

          1. Vancouver Reader*

            Guess he gets tired of being idolized by strangers off the streets. I think it’s funny how sports players in this city get more people going ga ga over them than say a famous musician or movie star.

    37. JC*

      I went to college with Anne Hathaway and read a scene with her when we were auditioning for an on-campus play. This was in the early 2000s, so she wasn’t as famous as she is now, but she had already been on a TV show and The Princess Diaries had come out. I remember thinking that it was horribly unfair that a professional actress was allowed to audition.

      I live in Washington DC so now most of my celebrity sightings are politicians. I saw Cory Booker jogging recently, and Newt Gingrich and his wife work in the building across the street from where I work and occasionally buy their lunches at the deli in my building.

      1. Jackie*

        Also SUPER late (and unlikely to be seen)but I couldn’t resist sharing that I met Chuck Norris on a plane back in the early ’90s. I was a teenager at the time. He was sitting in first class when I boarded the flight and I saw him immediately. Before I could control my mouth, I said- “Oh! Hey there, Chuck Norris!” He was very nice about it and told me to have a good flight. This was before all of the craziness about Chuck Norris was a thing but even then I just KNEW the plane couldn’t crash with Chuck Norris on board- it was a smooth flight. And I like to credit any and all good luck I’ve had since to my brief but important brush with the all powerful Mr. Norris.

  5. Gene*

    Great uncle again.

    Brother’s daughter had her first, a 7 pound, 7 ounce, 20 inch girl. And her Navy sailor husband was even home!

  6. Harryv*

    How much is a work from home full time worth to you? I currently have a full time telecommute job. I have to admit it is very nice but thinking of a new challenge which will most likely be a “regular” office job. How much of an increase should I look for?

    1. NW Cat Lady*

      You’re really the only one who can answer that.

      Keep in mind, though, your negotiations should be based on your market value. Employers aren’t likely to be swayed by, “I should make X amount more than you’re paying me based on the fact that I now have to commute.”

      One possible exception would be if the new job is with the same employer. They may be willing to pitch in a little more if you’re a rock star and they really want you on the new team.

    2. Jamie*

      The work from home thing only has as much value as the person doing it assigns it.

      Me? You’d have to pay me more to work from home full time. I’d have to restructure my entire work flow/thought processes to make that work if I didn’t have the option of an office.

      Some people absolutely love it and you’d have to pay them more to go back to the office.

      It also depends a lot on what you do. If an employer offers the ft work from home option there may be no increase and perhaps less pay if you want to work in house, because now you’re overhead is more.

      1. C Average*

        +lots.

        I like the bustle and energy of the workplace. I’ve worked from home here and there when we were changing cubes or I had a cold I didn’t want to share. I can be productive from home, but it’s harder. I can’t imagine doing it all the time.

        1. HarryV*

          I have to admit. Sometimes I do miss have the company of co-workers around where you can small talk. But then there are times when you are extremely busy and people come into your cubicle with the same old story that AAM often brings up in her Q&A lol.

    3. The IT Manager*

      Also note that a full time teleworkers means the office doesn’t have to provide desk, workspace, utilities to support your office – depending on the agreement phone and internet access, office supplies, parking space, etc. So you working from the office might cost more for them in that regard.

      1. HarryV*

        Precisely. The company ended up selling the facility to a management company and leased back 1 floor out of the 3 stories by eliminating almost 2/3 of the staff’s office space.

  7. Ali*

    So I’ve been spending the weekend with more immediate family (parents, siblings) and tomorrow, the extended family is joining us for brunch as a combination celebration for my birthday/grandfather’s birthday/Father’s Day. My extended family (aunt and uncle, cousin and his gf, grandparents) are good people and I don’t mind being with my grandmother one-on-one, but family gatherings make me so tense. Everyone loves to take pictures, and being in a posed family shot is mandatory. When someone wants a picture, you don’t have a choice not to be in it. Even as an adult, I was lectured and embarrassed for trying to decline at Thanksgiving. My family can get loud, thanks to all the alcohol present, and I’m more introverted, so I’ve admitted to hiding in a room more than once at a gathering.

    And, like I alluded to last week when talking about my weight and health, the extended relatives can be judgmental. I’ve been asked why I don’t wear more jewelry and makeup, been told I can’t get a new job until I can drive (which won’t change the dismal job prospects around here) and have “Aunt Jane” and my gram who want to decorate my first apartment when I move out of my parents’ (which I want to in the next six months to a year).

    I missed a family gathering earlier this year and was so happy. But even though tomorrow is an early birthday celebration for me, I find that I’m just cringing at having to see them and deal with their obnoxiousness. The worst part is in my family, there’s a lot of pressure to attend these things and even though there’s no young kids in our family anymore, it’s like God help you if you don’t show up…

    1. LAMM*

      Can you claim to have an early day on Monday (early meeting, working the morning shift, whatever) and leave earlier than the others? My family is similar (loud, lots of drinking, plenty of pics, while I’m more introverted) and I always claim an early shift the next day so I can get out early… that combined with showing up a little later than most (with whatever excuse I think they’ll buy…) I can get away with 4-5 hours of face time. Which is more than enough for me and usually leaves me exhausted.

    2. Cinnabar*

      As a fellow introvert, I’m sympathy-cringing so hard with you!

      I don’t have any firsthand advice because I’m too scared of confrontation and usually hide out in back rooms too, waiting for it all to end, but I know Captain Awkward (www.captainawkward.com) usually has AWESOME advice about dealing with people and life in general, and is great about practical advice for asserting boundaries and such in situations like this.

      One of things I think might apply here is having a script ready – short, simple, not confrontational but with no room for negotiation – and repeating it over and over if people won’t stop haranguing you, and walking away from the conversation.

      Person: *says something hurtful about you*
      You: “Wow, that’s really hurtful.” *silence*
      Person: *babbles on awkwardly trying to save face and/or blame you*
      You: “Okay. I’m going to go get some punch/to the bathroom/talk to [Other Person]. Excuse me.” *leave*

      Person: “You should really wear make-up/more jewelry/lose weight/conform to MY standards because I said so waaahh wahh wahh.”
      You: “I’ll consider it.” *change subject* “So, how about that new book/new baby/local sports team, huh?”

      Person: *trying to force you to join the festivities when you don’t want to and won’t let up*
      You: *smile politely* “No thank you, I’m happy right here.” *repeat forever until they realize they’re not going to get a different reaction from you and go away*

      Remember, it’s THEM who should bare any resulting awkwardness of silence or the realization that they’re being rude. They might try to put that on you but remind yourself it’s not yours to take. You deserve to do things that are fun for YOU, not endure something that makes you feel awful. Yes, even if it’s family.

      I can’t think of a specific post at the moment that would directly address what you need but check out her “introvert” and “family” tags. They might have something that’s useful. The community is extremely warm and friendly and supportive (and full of introverts who feel our pain!) too.

      Good luck! I’m rooting for you! :)

    3. Anony*

      I don’t have much I can add except…are you me? I totally empathize and have very similar issues with my extended family. Wishing you a happy birthday despite the gathering!

    4. OhNo*

      Have you tried turning the icky appearance comments back on them? I recently had to start doing this with some of my family after I cut my hair (I basically shaved 80% of my head – it’s great!).

      If you feel like being nice, you can just say, “Oh, I don’t think X looks very good on me. But your face shape/body type/etc. would look really great with X!” This works pretty great with clothing/jewelry/makeup comments, because then you can turn it back on the questioner and get them talking about where they bought their supplies, or their favorite brands, or what have you. Most people will get really into talking about their own favorites, and they will quickly forget about putting you down. Just be prepared for offers to lend you some supplies and/or take you shopping.

      If you feel like being mean, you can respond to comments on your looks by saying, “Oh, I don’t like the way X looks. [insert unflattering comment about thinness/makeup/jewelry].” This will tend to move the conversation towards mean girl territory, so is best used right before making an escape if you choose to use it at all.

      I’m afraid I have no suggestions for the job/apartment questions. I’m pretty comfortable with all my family, so my response to those type of questions is usually, “Oh, you think XYZ? Luckily, I don’t give a s#!t what you think.” Works great for me, although if you’re pretty introverted I suspect you wouldn’t be quite as comfortable using it.

      1. Tasha*

        May I please cast my vote, as an awkward quiet person who is naturally (and unattractively) thin with facial scars that I choose to deemphasize with makeup, in favor of not taking the mean-girl approach? There are people in the background, some who would NEVER remark on another’s appearance, listening to those comments. Some of them are good people.

    5. Vancouver Reader*

      Can you tell them your birthday wish be that they not be judgemental for this one day? Or have your immediate family tell them. It’s your birthday (happy birthday!) and they can try and be nice to you for this special occasion.

  8. en pointe*

    I’d love to hear if anyone has any advice on training yourself to speak slower! I speak very fast and have been getting occasional comments on that from friends, teachers, bosses, etc. for a long time. Lately, I’ve been working on slowing down but not too successfully, unfortunately.

    The main reason I haven’t slowed down previously, and am not having much luck now, is that I am completely unaware when I’m doing it. To me, it feels like I’m speaking completely normally, but to everyone else I’m going a million miles an hour. I do a lot of speaking and debating, and am better (still faster than I should be, but it kind of works more in debating to speak quickly and passionately) in those situations by putting a LOT of mental energy, before and during, into speaking at what seems to me to be a really slow pace, but actually isn’t. In everyday situations though, I mainly forget.

    Any tips on reminding myself every time I speak to slow down, or on actually achieving that? Anyone had to learn something similar, or change something else about the way they speak?

    1. kas*

      I have the same problem! I don’t realize it unless someone calls me out on it but it’s usually just my family telling me to slow down. It’s not even like it’s exciting news that I’m rushing to get out.

      I’m able to slow down during presentations because the fact that I speak too fast is at the back of my head but I wish I always remembered during normal conversations.

      1. en pointe*

        Yes, mine is also not about being excited or emotional. It’s just all the time and I can’t slow down unless I really really concentrate. Maybe I need some kind of reminder every time I open my mouth. No idea what that would be though.

        To those commiserating, do you guys also read very fast? We had a speed reading trainer in the office last year who explained to me how reading slowly/quickly is supposed to correlate to speaking slowly/quickly. I read 2100 words per minute, but the guy didn’t have any tips on how to slow down unfortunately, just speed up, so I don’t know how helpful that insight really is.

        1. samaD*

          I read really fast but talk fairly slowly, especially while I’m thinking.

          I used to talk faster, though never ‘fast’, but sort of randomly developed a stammer….I wouldn’t recommend that as a method, but it does slow you down :)

        2. Jen RO*

          I do read fast, but I never read *everything*. I tend to skip words and just get the gist of the sentence.

        3. Cath in Canada*

          Yeah, I both read and talk really fast. I managed to slow my speech down a bit for a while by moving from England to Scotland and then to Canada three years later, and realising that when people aren’t used to your accent you do need to slow down quite a lot, but that advice is a) not exactly practical and b) not a permanent solution – now that I’ve stopped moving around and I have a weird half-Yorkshire-half-Canadian accent, I’m back up to speed again!

      2. Liane*

        Maybe I should have started a separate thread, but here goes.
        I have the opposite problem, on recordings at least. When my voice is played back it sounds, to me anyway, as if I pause between each word. I cannot stand to listen to such recordings! It may be just my perception; a friend I trust for honest feedback says my speech is just “deliberate.” I do know it isn’t apparent or unpleasant when I’m speaking/reading live. Many at my church have told me they enjoy when I do Bible or other readings in services.
        However, once in while, I get invited because of my costume appearances and other hobbies, to be on podcasts or maybe even answer a few questions for a local TV reporter. But because I think I sound odd in recordings, it makes me uncomfortable. I otherwise like these rare opportunities.
        Any suggestions for getting over this (likely) misperception of mine?

        1. JayDee*

          My thought would be that you think you sound strange in recordings because you already know what you are going to say, so you anticipate it and it therefore sounds slower because you are already thinking the words before you hear yourself say them.

          Clearly this hasn’t been an issue that has causes others to avoid asking you to participate in podcasts or interviews, so it probably isn’t something that needs to be changed. And honestly, I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t cringe at the sound of their own voice on a recording.

          1. en pointe*

            Yeah, this is what I was going to say. If others are inviting you to speak at things it might be just a perception issue of your own. And I completely agree with the everybody hating their own voice on recording. I always think I sound way younger than I actually am.

    2. Stephanie*

      Just commiserating–I struggle with it, too. Taking theater and public speaking classes helped a bit. My main trick has been to over-enunciate.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I was going to say this as well.

        I recently had to record a voiceover for a training video at work. The first few takes I read the script in my normal conversational tone, and listening to it play back made me cringe (so thankful I was doing this alone in the privacy of my office!). I then focused on really enunciating every word clearly, which naturally slows you down. It felt very awkward the first few tries but the playback sounded perfectly natural.

        It took my SEVERAL more takes to get the voiceover done because I kept slipping back into my typical speech pattern, but yes – the over enunciation makes a HUGE difference.

        1. en pointe*

          Hmm I’m going to try playing around with the voice recorder on my phone and see how over-enunciating changes things. That’s something that would probably be easier to ingrain as a habit in regular conversation. Thank you both for the tip.

    3. Jen RO*

      No actual advice, but I’m the same. I found that, over the years, I started to slow down because I kept seeing confused looks on co-workers’ faces, and I didn’t want to be that wierd girl that no one can understand. I also realized that I tend to talk faster when I get angry or excited, so I talk to myself and tell myself to slow the f down.

    4. Iain Clarke*

      I still have the same problem, but living and working in a country with a different language has slowed me down. When I go back to the UK, I can almost feel myself release the brakes and speed up.

      1. en pointe*

        Ha, maybe I should move to a foreign country too. That’s the answer. It’s fun to think about :)

      2. Jen RO*

        I do speak slower in English! Though, as I got better and better at it, I’ve sped up…

    5. OhNo*

      Have you tried changing your wording? That worked really well for me. Especially if there are phrases and/or sentences that you say a lot, changing the wording when you speak will make you slow down, just because you have to think about it. They will probably sound a little weird to you and everyone else for a while, but they become normal pretty quick. Even just changing one or two sentences will slow down your conversation a little, which can help.

      I usually combine this with paying close attention to the face/body language of the person I’m talking to. The second they start to glaze over or look confused, I usually pause and say “You look confused. Where did I lose you?” This gives them the chance to repeat what they heard (and you can double-check to make sure they understood), and will let you start over speaking more slowly.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know; I have the same problem. I also got teased last night because I was talking with my hands. Sometimes people think they’re being clever, but that was just embarrassing. I tried to make a joke about “Okay, I won’t talk anymore then,” but it just fell flat.

  9. Anonagron*

    This is one of those questions that you could never mutter out loud but secretly wonder about. And since this is a free for all, I’m gonna go for it.

    For context, I’m a pretty woman, mid-twenties. I’ve been told I was beautiful since good ol’ puberty so that is my frame of reference when navigating the world.

    I have read psychology articles about attractive people seeming to be considered more “likeable” to others than unattractive people. How do you see attractive people having an advantage in life? Maybe a disadvantage at times? Are you cognizant of ever being a part of giving this advantage/disadvantage to them?

    What do people who consider themselves “so-so” or even unattractive looking think of beautiful people when they walk into a room? When they are co-workers? Bosses? For me, I’m sad to admit there is often a mental comparison.

    Maybe something stupid to ask, but I have taken sociology and psychology classes that piqued my interest in the topic, and I’m genuinely curious.

    1. nate*

      Honestly, REALLY good looking people I immediately think of as 1. dumb OR 2. snakes in suits. I can’t say I have ever judged anyone as ugly until they ACT ugly, then that clouds everything.

      1. nate*

        To be fair, I have misjudged many beautiful people who turned out to be good people too.

    2. Jen RO*

      I get intimidated by beautiful or very well put together people (especially women). I don’t feel they are better or worse at their jobs than me, but I start feeling awkward because my makeup is minimal, I’m wearing sneakers instead of heels, that blouse looks much better on her because she has better boobs… and so on. I usually manage to get over it and hold a normal conversation, at least! (Trying to wear more makeup or better clothes doesn’t work – I feel even more awkward because I’m sure everyone can tell I can’t walk in heels and I feel uncomfortable as hell in a fancy skirt.)

      1. Anonagron*

        This is interesting. I don’t consider myself very well put together, persay, but I can look nice when I need to. I would never have thought I could intimidate another woman.

        This may sound really silly, but if you are interested in trying more makeup looks I really suggest YouTubeing it! There are so many good make up artists on there that give great tips no matter how much or how little you want to wear.

        1. Jen RO*

          I have, but hooded downturned eyes make everything twice as hard… I know it’s possible, since I’ve found makeup ‘gurus’ who manage, but I’m not there yet. Also, I hate the feel of foundation, and foundation is half the look!

      2. Shell*

        I basically second all of this.

        I mean, I can dress up a little if I want–I look pretty decent in boots, dress pants, and a blazer for example. But I can’t coordinate my wardrobe to save my life, and don’t get me started on makeup. (I don’t particularly LIKE dressing up or makeup either, which is why I haven’t made too much effort into learning about them.) I can look put-together with the aforementioned items if I need to, but I’ll never win any fashion awards, and it blows my mind how I’d see people walking around at the mall with this top or those boots and they go great together for this pulled-together-but-not-super-formal look. Me, I’m either in jeans/sneakers/tees or button-ups/blazers/dress pants. I don’t have much in between.

    3. Anonymous*

      I think most judgment’s subconscious or unintentional.

      I’m average, I guess, so that’s where the rest of this comment will come from. Sometimes more attractive people *are* treated better.

      But sometimes other people are downright nasty to them for no reason! I’ve seen it happen to more attractive women in particular.

    4. Anonagron*

      Oh, and I should add I’m particularly curious about thoughts on friendships with beautiful people, particularly among women, b/c I think that shiz is complicated.

      But I do also wonder if guys are as aware of the attractiveness level of their friends and/or if they care about it.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, they are. I have a couple of “beautiful” friends (as you’d describe it). Some of this was related to my own self-esteem issues, but appearance-related compliments could feel a bit patronizing. Or sometimes dating advice from these friends could be kind of clueless and obvious and unaware of their “beautiful” advantage (“Just put yourself out there! Have you tried OkCupid?”)

        I do think very attractive people have an advantage if it’s a situation where looks or polish are really important. But on the flip side, there is the assumption that they can be dumber (which could be troublesome in an environment where smarts are valued).

        I’d say I’m average-looking. It took me a long time to realize I was overcompensating personality-wise because my personal appearance insecurities.

        1. en pointe*

          I think it’s also interesting how insecurity spans the whole spectrum of attractiveness. I’ve known attractive people who were insecure and unattractive people who were confident in themselves. One of my good friends now is both absolutely drop dead gorgeous and probably the most insecure person I’ve ever met.

    5. Dontwanttosay*

      Tbh I actually approach the really beautiful or attractive people as having a lesser intellect. In my experience you would have to prove to me that you’re just as intelligent as me, and if you are, then yay let’s get along. If you’re not I will always count your physical nature against you.
      Maybe that’s a reflection of me, or it seems snobby but I don’t find attractive people intimidating, I find super smart people intimidating.
      Oh and for reference I would rate myself about a 7, and I’m a 30yo female.

    6. James M*

      As a guy, the appearance of other guys is certainly something I notice. But I apportion very little brain power to it; it’s just not important enough.

      For the beautiful people, I think a significant “advantage” is simply their self-confidence working its magic.

      1. en pointe*

        This. Often attractiveness correlates with high self-confidence, which is, in turn, appealing to other people. I think that’s a big part of it.

    7. Sandrine (France)*

      I consider myself pretty… except I’m fat :P . So it doesn’t count LOL.

      I see “pretty” people as eye candy for the most part, when I don’t interact with them at all. When I do it switches depending on how the person is.

      The thing is, in the end, I consider someone really ugly or pretty depending on their behavior… so I’m not the best judge for that.

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Remarkably physically attractive people who are also solidly *good* people get a special kind of admiration from me. Probably the same as wealthy people who are also *good* people.

      In my brain, people who are significantly advantaged and don’t rest on just that advantage but develop into fine human beings get a special nod. ’cause, the significant advantage is also a significant disadvantage to well rounded development. Paradox.

      A physically attractive person who exhibits ugly behavior is 2x as ugly to me as a mere mortal. I realize this isn’t fair and I do try to recalibrate without taking appearance into account but, that’s what occurs naturally at least.

      1. Ali*

        I have been through this and definitely feel more intimidated. During the hockey season, I go to games pretty regularly and have my season ticket behind one of my good friends and her mom. Sometimes, this family sits next to them and all the women are always perfectly done up: great outfits, no hair out of place, full face of makeup and just generally beautiful. One night I thought I’d ditch my usual jersey, hoodie and jeans uniform (this was in January) and try to dress like them for a game. I didn’t go all out or anything, but I hated it and felt uncomfortable, even just in jeans, boots and a nice sweater. I’d always worn team apparel to games, and when I decided to go without it even for one night, I felt almost naked. Haha. The next game I went to, I was back to my usual get-up.

        The only bummer is that it did hurt me in my once-desired field of sports media. Even wearing jerseys at games when I wasn’t working media (I never even saw a press pass) was frowned upon and the PR director didn’t want to take me seriously even though I did want to make the transition and he liked my work. Also, it seemed I never had the “look” to work for a sports team anyway, even in a media/PR role. Pretty much all the women who have team jobs are skinny, fashionable, etc….definitely things I’m not. I could never even be pretty enough to be an Ice Girl for my favorite team, and the team I cheer for had their girls in not-as-skimpy uniforms as some other teams.

        These days, I’m just a sports fan. The market was competitive anyway, but some of the looks standards for women just made me feel down.

      2. class factotum*

        One of the women who works at my Y, Karen, is drop-dead gorgeous. She is tall and slim and shapely and has a beautiful face. I overheard her talking about her dissertation one day – in biochemistry. So she is gorgeous and smart.

        I don’t know if she does this on purpose, but she is so gracious and nice and friendly to everyone – makes a point of knowing peoples’ names and using them, that it makes her beauty and intelligence not so intimidating.

        I do think it can be harder for beautiful women to interact with other women. I, at least, am really intimidated by beautiful women because they make me feel so ick in comparison (which is about me, not about them). My default assumption (not fair, I know) is that the beautiful woman knows she is gorgeous and is looking down on the rest of us. So Karen’s efforts mitigate all of that.

        I am very ordinary looking and a little bit chubby, but I did have a brief experience with the conditions I associate with beautiful women. I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Chile and came back to the US over land. I had so many men hit on me – not because of my looks, but because they were pretty sure that American women (I am quite obviously American of Nordic ancestry) are easy.

        I quickly tired of their attentions and learned to tell them to go away, in no uncertain terms.

        So although I would like to be pretty, I would not want the crap that goes with it.

    9. Cristina in England*

      I am a little confused about whether people in this sub-thread are talking about natural beauty or “polish”. I think I have natural beauty but I am letting my hair go grey, I don’t wear makeup or nail polish, and I wear comfortable shoes (though I do also wear dresses). I don’t remember ever feeling like anyone was treating me as though I was dumb… is this reaction in response to the *attention* that the “beautiful” person pays to their appearance, rather than their actual facial structure or other biological markers of beauty?

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        This is interesting because I feel kind of the opposite about myself. I’m feel I’m fairly average but I “polish up” really well. And while I rarely bother with makeup for work or family events anymore, I’m way more likely to make the effort to “polish up” when I’m in unfamiliar territory – i.e. to a social event with strangers, job interview, etc. My own thought has been that people are more likely to assume that beauty equals confidence – but you just made me realize is that what I really think is that it’s polish that equals confidence.

        1. Mints*

          I identify with some of this too. I feel like when I look more polished, especially on the trendy and feminine end of the spectrum, people are friendlier to me. And I don’t think it’s confirmation bias, because sometimes I think I’ll look great, but I’m dressed more punk or gender-neutral, and people don’t react quite the same. And sometimes my perspective is off, like my hair miraculously looks amazing (or the inverse), and people are nicer, and then when I get home, I realize I’m having a polished day.

      2. Jen RO*

        For me it’s definitely about the polish. Naturally beautiful women with ‘regular’ makeup and clothes don’t intimidate me. I think I just feel bad that I’m not as skilled as them at ‘turning’ into someone beautiful? (I am not naturally beautiful, but I think I’m quite pretty and I could be much better with good makeup and clothes. Except I’d feel like a completely different person, hence uncomfortable, hence less beautiful and confident.)

    10. Jamie*

      Maybe I’m weird, but I notice when people are particularly attractive – but it doesn’t impress me nor do I assign negative qualities. I generally think – oh, pretty hair, or cute smile…physically I notice specific attributes rather than the whole – if that makes sense?

      But that’s only initially. My perception of someone’s looks becomes irrelevant as soon as I can judge them on something else, like skill, or competence, or intellect. I know that sounds crappy – but if I think you’re stupid or incompetent your looks still don’t work for you or against you – I’m evaluating people on attributes that are more important to me.

      Because really, if I don’t want to sleep with you I really couldn’t care less how attractive you are except as a passing mention. Pretty face, cute shoes…same to me.

      Oddly enough for someone with an internal dialogue that’s not always kind, I do tend to notice something nice about everyone pretty much when it comes to looks. Until/if they make a snarky comment about someone else’s looks. I think that’s so rude and then all I can see is their flaws – and I’ve never met someone no matter how pretty who doesn’t have some. I may think you have lovely eyes, but a comment about the looks of someone you feel superior to and all I’ll see are your big pores or how your eyebrow arches make you look confused like when you move a dog’s bowl.

      1. samaD*

        +1

        it’s not that you can’t _see_ them, but that it’s just….irrelevant. If it’s work then their work is important, if it’s a friend then they’re right just as they are, and if it’s romance then it’s who they are inside.

    11. Lora*

      It depends on *how* they are beautiful, if that makes any sense–are they naturally very lovely and roll out of bed looking like a million bucks, or do they obviously spend a lot of time/money on it? And how do they behave–do they come across as authentic, genuine, caring people or do they act like they are (deity’s) gift to (gender)? How do they react to people who are not attracted to them no matter how conventionally good-looking they are?

      The people who dress up every day, always have shirts tucked in, not a hair out of place, ladies who are always made-up–they give me the creeps. They come across to me as insincere and even shallow. Like, this is how they want to spend their time on this earth, in front of a mirror, tweezing eyebrows? Not that they don’t have any right to do that, bless their hearts, but I feel like I can instantly tell that we have very different values in life and won’t be able to relate to each other as a result. And while I can sooooort of understand older folks getting plastic surgery to deal with the less attractive aspects of aging, or correcting something that is downright startling, I am disappointed when decent-looking younger people get it just to go from a B-cup to a D-cup sort of thing. I feel the same way about folks who are heavily invested in name brand clothing, really.

      For the record, my tastes in romantic partners run to “quirky”, so the folks who are on magazine covers are generally NOT attractive in my eyes. I prefer brains and wit. But then again, I’m a middle-aged queer woman who considers herself pretty only in the right light, with plenty of sleep, when nobody is taking a picture.

    12. Prickly Pear*

      I usually notice if someone has nice eyes/hair or if they have what I call a sweetheart face- friendly appearance- more than the overall ‘wow, they’re gorgeous’ thing. I don’t know if this has to do with my poor facial recognition skills, so I try not to make snap judgements. I do have the unattractive behavior=ugly person thing, and I remember people that I don’t like much better than people I do, which just means I’m a vengeful person.

    13. Sabrina*

      I honestly think that sometimes attractive people are at a disadvantage. Sure, they might be more likable, but if you don’t have that on your side it’s easier to pick out the genuine people from the fakes.

      1. en pointe*

        With regard to the workplace, there’s been some studies done that showed attractive women were rated higher than less attractive ones, but only up to a point. Women who were REALLY attractive tended to also be rated lower.

        Also, attractive women are supposed to have an easier time entering women-dominated fields, while less attractive women are supposed to have an easier time entering male-dominated fields. While apparently, attractive men have it easier entering any field. Don’t know how comprehensive those studies were though.

    14. reneeflower*

      I’m a female, slightly above average looks in my early 30s. I’m very thin and I dress very stylishly (pencil skirts and heels), style my hair and wear makeup for work and church.

      I’m quiet by nature and I used to never initiate small talk with people, which led to people thinking I was stuck up. In my career as I moved up the ladder, I realized that perception would hold me back, so I started trying harder to smile when I passed people in the halls instead of just averting my eyes and initiating conversation when is run into coworkers in other departments in the break room. Same thing at church. Even though I don’t consider myself to be intimidating, I think sometimes people are because of how I put myself together. I just try to remember to think about how I’m being perceived by people.

      At work, I’ve never noticed I’ve had to try especially hard to prove I’m intelligent. That could be because I’m not beautiful, just slightly attractive, and I always look and carry myself very professionally. Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ever thought someone who was attractive was less intelligent than someone who wasn’t attractive. When I think back to interviews I’ve done, looks-wise only, I’ve focused more on how people put themselves together than level of attractiveness (is their appearance neat, clothes clean, shirt ironed, etc).

    15. Not So NewReader*

      I think I am average- but I have been told I am pretty or I clean up okay. hahaha. Whatever, I am grateful for what I do have- i.e. no major disfigured features.

      I read a lot of the articles that say the beautiful people get ahead in life and the not-so-beautiful people lag behind. I don’t believe it. I think life is what you make it. I do know that my own bias is to warm up to people of average looks quicker than good looking people. Once I figured out I was doing that, I started trying to be more even with people in general.

      Remember the commercial for hair coloring? “Don’t hate me because I am beautiful.” I guess there is/was a general prejudice against the good looking people in our society or else marketing experts would not have tapped it.

      My aunt used to say “pretty is as pretty does”. That was a little obscure for me initially. But I have seen average looking people suddenly become very beautiful because of their words or actions. I have also seen very beautiful people drill down to average or lower because of their words or actions.

    16. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I feel horrible about it, but I know that I’m one of those people that favors the more attractive over the less. At least I can actively combat it!

      I think it’s because I tend to have a ton of respect for people who have skills, talents and attributes that I don’t. Normally, this is just me admiring extroverts for their ability to talk to people. And I certainly don’t think I’m unattractive, but there is definitely a level of attractive-and-put-together that I admire because I know it’s really hard… It takes a lot of time, and as envious as i am of those people, I just haven’t ever had the wherewithal to take those steps myself. So I guess I like them because they’re not as lazy as me?

      The VERY worst part is that I’m sure that works in the converse…. Like, I see someone who looks roughly like me, and I’m like “you know, if you just spent a half hour on hair and makeup you’d look a lot better.” Even though I obviously don’t do that myself. So I have to check myself a lot.

      I use to be really bad about that with weight, too, but I’ve managed to ingrain in my mind that there are a million reasons why someone might be overweight, and many of them are totally out of people’s control, and all of them are actually 100% OK because it’s none of my damn business. So I presume that I can get there with attractive people, too. :)

    17. C Average*

      Interesting topic!

      I work closely with a woman who is absolutely stunning and is also very, very good at her job. I’ve been a bit of a mentor to her and take a lot of vicarious pride in her success. I don’t think she gets by solely on her looks, but I think her looks have probably opened some doors for her.

      My sister is also quite beautiful and has the kind of look that actually prompts comments from strangers. She has a very distinctive hair style that wouldn’t work for most people, and she has a great sense of style.

      My best friend growing up was effortlessly pretty.

      In short, I’ve spent a fair amount of time around pretty people whom I like, so I’m sure that’s shaped my outlook to a certain extent, probably canceling out any inclination I might have to look unfavorably upon pretty people or to doubt their capabilities.

      Me? I’m a classic mousy brunette, which I actually kind of enjoy. Mousy brunettes are blank canvases. Most days, I put on my plain but serviceable clothes and my nerdy glasses and I blend into the landscape. But once in a while, like the overlooked girl next door in a teen movie, I straighten my hair and put on something glamorous and put on a little makeup and BAM, I am hot! It’s like possessing a secret weapon.

    18. Elizabeth West*

      I tend to go by how people act, because I’ve known nice-looking people who were also really nice and not-so-attractive ones who were total jerks. And totally the other way around. Whether you’re attractive or not, if you’re an asshole, I want nothing to do with you.

      I’m one of those people who, when you dress me up, looks really good for about a half hour and then slowly starts to fall apart. Right now I am NOT happy with the way I look because I still need to lose a few pounds and my clothes are crap. So yeah, if you come in looking awesome, I feel HUGE and FAT and UGLY. Even though I know I’m not.

      Funny, when (I thought) someone loved me, I felt like the most beautiful woman on earth.

      1. HarryV*

        On a more serious note. Attractive people get my attention at the first instance we meet. Perhaps I might even be flattered. After that initial reaction, I treat you no different than anyone else.

    19. Anon for This*

      Interesting! I wish I had been around for this discussion.

      After an awkward phase from when I was about 10-12, I ended up turning out on the more beautiful end of the spectrum (I feel like an ass for saying that, but it is what it is. And I am no supermodel, so there’s that too.). But I was an extremely good student before anyone ever talked about my looks, and so in my brain, I was always a smart person first.

      As an adult, I feel less intelligent and less confident about skills compared to my peers who’ve gone on to become doctors and engineers and tech entrepreneurs. Having said that, I have always had managers who loved me, and colleagues who have loved working with me.

      But I will say, I get comments about my looks from co-workers a lot too (not in a creepy sexual harassment way), and it always made me wonder if my own case was one where doors opened for me because of my looks.

      Just recently, I was asking my manager about networking opportunities for me, and she spoke to one of our colleagues that is deeply involved. And that woman said, “Why does Anon for This have to network? She’s so beautiful! If I looked like her, I’d never have to network!”

      Um, what? Listen, I get that there are advantages to being attractive, as has been discussed already. But looks aren’t forever. Brains, skills, and personality are. I’ve heard networking events in my area are meat markets, and that’s precisely why I’ve avoided them. The comment from my colleague discourages me from trying, if that is the attitude I’m going to get.

      For me, I think I notice stunningly attractive people and those that are polished. In my line of work, you HAVE to be put-together to move up. You don’t have to be beautiful, but you have to have polish.

      I do have some biases about attractive people and intelligence — but mostly with men. If I see a very traditionally attractive guy, I’ll think he’s a frat boy or jock and that he’s dumb. (Even though my bf was both of those things and doesn’t live up to the stereotype at all.) I’ve known enough Ivy League women who could also be models to not question their intelligence, but I do feel like you can tell the difference between the smart and ditzy ones pretty quickly.

      For both attractive men and women, I do wonder if they’ll actually be nice to me; I tend to think they’ll be mean because they don’t have to try to be nice to get by in life.

      Great topic.

  10. Jill-be-Nimble*

    Just started the final episode of the new season of Orange is the New Black. Mixed feelings so far–I miss some of the humor and relationships of the last season. Without spoilers (or, if you must, clear warnings ahead of time), anyone have first impressions?

    1. IDoNotWearOrange*

      I was very conflicted about this season of OITNB, as well. The mildest of spoilers below.

      Here are my thoughts. I binge watched the season back to back and I do feel like it was not as funny as last season. I am also a big believer in justice and have a serious aversion to abuse of power, so I was reaallly struggling to enjoy some of the episodes. Quite a few plot holes, but the exploration of other characters was refreshing to see, even if the back stories became a bit predictable. Major complaint- not enough Pennsatucky! Also- Larry- WTF?

      Loved Morello’s story, even if she’s bat shit crazy. I think we saw she’s a kind person at heart even though she needs psychiatric help. I love Alex’s character even though I don’t want to. I should probably look into more of Laura Prepon’s work b/c I do enjoy her performances.

      Now that I’m writing my feelings about the season, I realize there is a lot more I didn’t like than liked! Yikes. That acting, though- it was always on point.

      But the last five minutes of the last episode were very. freakin. satisfying. :D More Alper/Piplex (unfortunately both of those names suck) in season 3!

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

        If you’re looking into Laura Prepon’s work, DO NOT WATCH KARLA. Seriously. Even the actors involved tell people not to watch it. It is so f***ed up and I seriously regretted it.

      2. Jill-be-Nimble*

        OMG. Morello’s story. I’m so in love with her. She replaced Crazy Eyes as the sympathetic WTF person for me this time around. I’m still in the middle of the last episode, but am currently very afraid for Suzanne. I want more of her backstory, too, but think they’re parsing it out over a few seasons! Agreed with missing Pensatucky, and I was sad that she wasn’t at the same level as last season.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yeah, Morello came across as pretty sympathetic (even if she is bat shit crazy). Rosa came across as a total bad ass.

    2. Stephanie*

      Oooh, I was hoping someone would post this. :)

      I’ve got four or five episodes left. I’m enjoying it, but the plot holes seem bigger this season and some things seem predictable. For example, as soon as I saw Fruit Ninja on the chemo teenager’s iPhone, I could guess where it was going. I just kind of accepted that Red or Red’s son has an intimate knowledge of the sewer system.

      There is definitely not enough Pennsatucky or Sophia.

      I do like that some of the favorites are getting fleshed out. The actress (Danielle Brooks, I believe) who plays Taystee was really good in her backstory episode.

      At the very least, this season is giving me hairstyles to aspire to.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      I’ve got 4 episodes left, but so far I think it’s been amazing. I love getting more backstories on the characters. It actually reminds me of Lost the way the do the backstories now and I’m liking it a lot.

      I like how it’s moved away from a Piper-centric story to one about all the women, but there’s been way too much Larry for my taste. I don’t care if he’s screwing Polly, get me back in prison.

      I really like that they’re expanding the focus to other characters, but some of the backstories have seemed really random, because they’re not characters we’ve come to really care about (Black Cindy, Rosa – although I really liked the Rosa story).

      I also love the new characters of V and Brook Soso, because they mix things up.

      BUT I feel like they’re doing this expanded focus at the expense of characters I want to see a lot more of – Pennsatucky, Sophia, Yoga Jones, Janae (LOVE her), and are we ever going to see Miss Claudette again? Those are amazing characters and we need to see them again.

      I’m also kind of over some of the guard drama. Daya and Bennett’s relationship has never made a lick of sense to me – they know pretty much nothing about each other. And this secret is CLEARLY going to come out. But…meh. They’ve never really done it for me.

      Also, I don’t know what it is about Poussey but I love her so much. She’s so captivating to watch, and I think I have a bit of a girl crush on her.

        1. Stephanie*

          Red has introduced me to a couple of delicious-sounding Russian pastries. I will have to seek these out. Previously, I believed Russian food to consist of meat with boiled root vegetables served with lots of vodka.

    4. Mimmy*

      We only watched the first episode and, sadly, I agree with you. When Piper saw Alex, I was like “Finally! A familiar face!” I was so excited about the new season until my husband said he’d heard it wasn’t as good as the first one.

    5. Felicia*

      I have 4 episodes left, and I’m also glad that it’s moved away from a Piper centric story, because i always hated Piper. She always came off as non-sympathetic, with a superiority complex and acting as a perpetual victim.

      I LOVED Morello’s story…I sort of expected something like that, but I never expected it to be THAT much, so I was surprised. I also still have a lot of sympathy for Crazy Eyes because of the backstory, and major sympathy for Poussey, I think she’s my new favourite.

      But there were a lot I just didn’t care about. I don’t care about Piper/Larry or Piper/Alex or Daya/Bennet, even a little. I also couldn’t bring myself to care about Cindy in her episode. And Rosa is a bad ass, but I couldn’t get invested.

      1. Mimmy*

        As I mentioned, I’ve only seen the first episode, but I’m glad to see that some of the regulars from last season will be back. Glad to see there is backstory on some of the others. Can’t wait to see Crazy Eyes!

        Alex is a real b*tch, but there is something captivating about her look. I can’t put my finger on it.

        For those who didn’t like that it was Piper-centric last season–remember that this is based on the real Piper’s book.

        Not sure Miss Claudette will be back–that was the older prisoner, right? I vaguely remember reading that something happened to the actress who plays her, so she may not have been able to film any episodes.

  11. West Coaster*

    After working on sate level policy for a number of years, I’ll be moving from LA to DC this summer for graduate school. Any advice about how to not be the obnoxious Californian? Any rookie mistakes I should avoid?

    For context, I currently work in what I consider a trifecta of casualness- so cal, civil rights non profit. I’m obviously going to have to step up my professional wardrobe, but any and all other advice is certainly appreciated.

    1. Stephanie*

      Don’t complain about how much better the Mexican food is in SoCal. It probably won’t be as good as it was in SoCal (the cheaper stuff, at least), but it can be obnoxious to hear that (I say this as someone who made the same annoying complaint after I moved from Arizona to DC).

      Same goes for In-N-Out.

      Don’t complain when it drops below 40.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      DC in general is much more formal in work settings, to be ready for that.

      Be ready for humidity that will make you want to curl up and die – August here is just god awful.

      Do you know where you’re thinking about living?

      1. Artemesia*

        I grew up in Seattle and went to DC at age 16 for a week in August. I thought I would die. I was in pretty good shape and a very skinny energetic kid — I remember flopping on the lawn near the Washington Monument gasping in the thick wet hot air. People always talked about how awful Seattle weather is; this was my first taste of the fact that few places have nicer weather than Seattle. Certainly pretty much the entire south is a hellhole most of the summer.

        1. FiveNine*

          People forget that Washington, D.C. basically was built on swampland. That, combined with the heat at the height of summer, can make for some oppressive, heavy air. (D.C. is arguably sort of the geographical start of the South — and maybe culturally to a degree too, you can find diners that serve grits, etc. as a manner of course because that’s what people eat, not as a novelty. Heck, the capital of the confederacy was Richmond, Virginia, which is about 100 miles away.)

        2. Stephanie*

          I moved to DC after being in Houston for four years and found Houston’s humidity way worse (if I was outside). Despite the humidity being lower, what did make it unpleasant was that I walked way more in DC and that the housing stock was older (in my price range, at least) and central air was not universal. I lived in what was essentially the attic of a 19th-century rowhouse and had an underpowered window unit. Only way I was able to sleep at night was with a giant fan and in my underwear. I actively avoided being home during the day in July (work covered that on weekdays, luckily).

        3. Windchime*

          I visited DC last summer in the second week of July. I thought I was going to die. It was so hot and humid. I loved my time there and got to see a lot of really neat things, but the humidity made walking around almost unbearable. I was so happy to get back to mild Seattle.

      2. West Coaster*

        I’ve been looking at River Place in Rosslyn- any thoughts? While not super exciting, it seems convenient to school, metro and well suited to a student’s budget.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Be prepared for the fact that Rosslyn shuts down at night; it’s a pretty office-y environment, so at night there’s not a ton going on. You may or may not care about that though. And if you do, well, it’s right down the street from areas that do have a lot going on at night, like Clarendon.

          But if you lived there, Chop’t would deliver salads to you, which is my dream.

          1. Stephanie*

            I was coming here to say that. Rosslyn gets pretty dead and creepy post-work hours, but its location is very good (save for getting some parts of DC uptown).

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I know several people who live at River Place and they like it just fine. You’re close to lots of things – and if you bike you’re right on a good trail system. But yeah it’s pretty dead at night.

          If you’re looking at being close in with some good restaurants and decent nightlife, without being right in the city, you might also look at Shirlington or the Orange Line corridor (Courthouse, Clarendon, Ballston, Virginia Square). I’m a Northern Virigina girl myself – I like it :)

        3. Lo*

          I lived there!!! It’s a good, safe area, mostly families in the buildings, nice pool, good gym that they just redid. The location is prime in my opinion–quiet at night at Alison said but then you can wander across the gorgeous Key bridge to Georgetown or along the path that runs next to Arlington Cemetary and across the bridge to the Lincoln memorial and the mall. Plus you’re a 3-5 min walk to the metro. The worst part IMO is that you aren’t near any good grocery stores but you can easily access good stores via the metro.

    3. saro*

      I learned this from friends’ moves from CA to DC and my own move from the deep South to DC:

      – DC casual is still more formal than California casual. This may not apply to clothes in grad school but keep this in mind for internships and jobs. I was surprised (moving from GA to DC) by the formality of some non-profits. I think people become more formal when you have to regularly meet with the USG.

      – I was caught in several rain showers in the summer before I learned to carry an umbrella with me at all times.

      – It’s humid. I didn’t have a problem adapting to it because I came from the South but people seem to have a really hard time adapting to it if they come from other climates. Clothes made from natural fibers or natural fiber blends are helpful.

      – If you find that you don’t ‘click’ with the people you’re meeting in DC, consider meet-ups. To be candid, I found the younger public-policy (i.e. Capital Hill) folks to be absolutely insufferable.

      – Consider buying a Lonely Planet guide to DC and using it to explore new areas. I did this when I first moved to DC for law school and it was quite fun. I went to one or two new places before the semester became too hectic and I really enjoyed it.

      – There are so many free events in DC! Museums, events held by non-profits, Embassies, religious organizations and etc – take advantage of it. I really missed that when I moved away.

    4. periwinkle*

      I just moved to Seattle this January after several decades in the DC area (with a 4-year interlude in Silicon Valley), and given the choice between a dreary Seattle winter and a typical DC summer, bring on the gray drizzle…

      As noted, business casual in DC is more business than casual. Don’t show a lot of skin, not even in the yucky summer weather. It all depends on your specific work environment, but if you’re going to be interning, do NOT be that intern who comes to work in strappy sandals and a skimpy sundress. Not only will you look completely unprofessional, you’ll freeze in the heavily air-conditioned buildings. Dresses are very useful, though; two neutral sleeveless A-line or shift dresses plus three or four lightweight cardigans/shrugs/jackets will get you through a week of work or a professional conference.

      Enough of the clothes. Driving in DC can be annoying. You’ve got lots of transient residents, self-important type-A drivers, cars with diplomat plates and thus diplomatic immunity, frequent motorcades, tour buses, and a variety of rallies & marches – all on top of the regular annoyances of city driving. Metro is not a perfect solution, but it’s still a good option if you’re at GW, Howard, or George Mason. If you’re at American, Georgetown, or UMD, there are shuttles to campus from the closest stations.

      Give up on Mexican food and instead go for other Latin American cuisines. Peruvian rotisserie chicken is a big thing in DC. Yum. The best Asian food is in the ‘burbs. DC’s official Chinatown isn’t really Chinese anymore; go to Rockville MD for that. Vietnamese food is everywhere but is centered around the Eden Center mall in Falls Church VA. Annandale VA and (to a much lesser extent) Wheaton MD are the main spots for Korean food. There’s a good food truck scene in downtown DC with some activity in the suburbs.

      If you’re coming from LA, DC’s interstates won’t faze you. The Beltway and I-95 are beyond awful, but you’re used to worse.

      Check out the American Film Institute’s theater in downtown Silver Spring. Of all the things I’ll miss about DC, the AFI Silver is right near the top. I’ll also miss the Smithsonian museums, which are wonderful and *free*. The Freer is my favorite (East Asian art plus a collection of Whistler). And the famed National Zoo with its pandas? It’s part of the Smithsonian, so admission is free. Baby Bao Bao!

      And don’t worry. DC is used to a steady influx of people from elsewhere. As long as you stand to the right on Metro escalators, you’ll be fine.

        1. FiveNine*

          If it’s grad school you’re moving for, students are students everywhere. :) And depending on where you go from there, you might or might not have more formal business attire than you do now — there are plenty of policy and/or nonprofit and/or civil rights organizations where the dress is pretty casual, where khakis are for dressier days. But generally, if you’re going to be on Capitol Hill or in the vicinity then it gets dressier and more conservative. (And it depends on the field too — there are the white shoe law firms with the Superlawyers who argue the big cases before the Supreme Court and there’s the K Street lobbyists paid massive bucks and dressed to the nines.) I happen to love state policy, and the federal intersection with it, and if you continue in that line there are some tremendous groups to work for downtown.

          My one tip: Most people outside of D.C. have no idea that a lot of the people on Capitol Hill are young, in their 20s or early 30s. You have to be here to get those jobs. But the trade reporters that work in the press galleries, for example, are often very young (not always); the staffers for various congressional committees also are often very young, etc. It’s all open to you. Don’t think it’s not.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      I’m doing the opposite–moving from DC to the Bay Area in about six weeks! I’ll wave at you right around Nebraska. :)

      One thing that’s so weird about DC is that especially amongst white collar people, very few people are from here. Most people are transplants (whether new or long-standing) just like you. You become a true DC resident once you figure out metro norms, which is actually the one element of common culture, plus maybe brunch. Walk on the left of the escalator, step aside to let people out of the car, step outside the car to let people off if it’s packed, and don’t become so immersed in your phone that you block others’ way. People take the metro super seriously. But the city itself is a real tossed salad. You’ll hear lots of different regional accents, and there is an interesting mix of southern and northeast culture.

      The one thing that still surprises me (and I’ve lived here 4 different times throughout my career) is how cultureless and white bread many parts of the city can be. You mention below moving to Rosslyn possibly–I live a little ways out in Arlington. I really like it out here, but my neighborhood has an Apple Store, a Crate and Barrel, a Barnes and Noble, a Container Store, and about 65 Starbucks…but not a lot in the way of locally owned restaurants and stores. There are some for sure! But a lot of the city feels so generic to me. I really love living here and would recommend Rosslyn too (have lived there twice, including as a student), especially if you’re not opposed to having to travel to go out, but if you’re used to and really enjoy locally owned cultural cornerstones in your community, Arlington is not really the place for that. (And it’s also not really a thing people like to complain about either. We love our Starbucks.)

      I hope you love DC. I am really going to miss it. Free museums are amazing, the public transit is generally pretty good, and the city itself is quite clean and well-maintained. Enjoy it!

      1. West Coaster*

        Thanks for the insight, and hope you enjoy the bay! Its so lovely up there. Do you have any leads on good cross country movers? I might ask on next weeks thread too.

        1. Jillociraptor*

          Yes! We just got 4 quotes this past week. Two colleagues of mine used FlatRate to move from the East Coast to the Bay Area, and had pretty good experiences. They didn’t do an in home estimate which kind of makes me nervous, but they were pretty middle of the pack price-wise. I have also heard good things about Door to Door (they do pod storage & moving) but we didn’t work with them at all.

          I got quotes from all three Allied, North American Van Lines, and Mayflower. North American was the most reasonable, followed by Mayflower, then Allied. My personal rep for North American was super, super helpful so we went with them, but all three had pretty comparable prices and services.

          One thing you’ll definitely want to ask about for this area is whether they charge extra if they have to transfer your belongings to a shuttle. It’s not common but that can add up especially if your mover pays by the hour or half hour, rather than by weight.

          Good luck! It’s such a pain to have to trust your stuff to a sort of faceless company, but it’s way more of a pain to try to transport it yourself!

    6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I want to add to all the rest of the great advice here… If you don’t like it right away, it’s OK. I really didn’t like DC when I first got here, it took me a minute to settle in. But now I super love it. If you’re conservative, check out First Friday happy hours, usually at Union Pub or Bar 201. It tends to be a younger, more libertarian crowd. If you’re liberal, the New Organizing Institute puts on free happy hours that are crazy awesome.

      1. West Coaster*

        Thanks. I had similar feelings when I moved to LA- wasn’t much of a fan at first, but love love love it now. (and very sad to leave!)

  12. kas*

    I have a serious case of “YOLO” and it’s driving my bank account crazy. I have some things I’d like to pay off/save up for but everytime a friend wants to go on vacay or a concert is announced, whatever I have saved goes to that. I’m in my early twenties and want to enjoy life but I need to be more responsible with money.

    I’ve already cancelled a trip a friend and I were planning, created a list of financial goals and put together a monthly budget. I think I’ll be successful this time now that I’ve written it all out! Anyone else have this problem or cured their case of YOLO?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Eh, I’m 53. YOLO while you can!

      Just don’t go into debt for it.

    2. Schmitt*

      YOLO, but wouldn’t it be great to L in a house or condo with a manageable mortgage in your thirties?

      …or…

      YOLO, but wouldn’t it be awesome to have a kick-ass retirement fund and travel the world in your 60s and 70s?

      …or…

      YOLO… once a month, with a budgetary limit ;)

    3. Sophia*

      Can I just say that I hate the term YOLO because in my eyes you don’t live just once, you live everyday and have to deal with consequences. You die (mostly) just once

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I like Schmitt’s version of YOLO, where it’s a reason to give yourself as good a life as possible later as well as now.

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      It doesn’t sound as if you’re in debt, so it’s really about how to save?

      I’d recommend creating another account (not a savings account tied to your checking, because you’d constantly see the balance and know you can transfer that money to checking at a moment’s notice), and then having your workplace or bank deposit to that account every month a pre-specified amount. That account has no debit card attached to it, so you can’t easily pull cash out of it. It’s just there accumulating money.

      If you don’t see the money, you likely won’t spend it.

      Actually, one thing to consider is setting up a specific retirement account (like a Roth IRA), and deposit into that. There are rules about when and how much you can withdraw before you retire.

      Not sure if you were looking for actual advice or just commiseration, but maybe that might help if it’s the former and not just the latter.

      1. Graciosa*

        Very good advice.

        Savings should be automatic (both retirement and general savings) and go some place that’s not easy to get to. Anything in your checking account is fair game for whatever you want to spend it on – this is where you put the money you can enjoy without reservation, so do just that with it.

        If you’re having problems adjusting to creating savings, start making sure half of every raise goes into savings of some kind. It doesn’t seem like much early on, but it makes an amazing difference over time – especially if you’re in your twenties and have plenty of time for your savings to grow.

      2. kas*

        I’ve been thinking of something similar – investing in my works stock. They’ll take the money right out of my pay so it’s not like I’ll miss it/feel like I’m losing money. A few people I work with invest in the stock and say they make a great profit.

        Thanks for the advice!

    5. Artemesia*

      YOLO is a good philosophy but first make sure you are automatically stowing money away for retirement before you touch any of your paycheck. We traveled to internationally every year for the last 30 of our working lives; we made it a priority. I remember how my mother always dreamed of doing this and then my dad was disabled at retirement and all she got was 15 more years of being a caregiver. So we had automatic deductions into my 401K — and then did those things we might not again have the chance to do.

      Worth it. But we are now retired and have enough money to continue to live as we like. YOLO but sometimes a big chunk of that is old and no longer earning and being comfortable then is important too. One thing we didn’t fully think about was how expensive entertainment is when you do to plays, shows, out to dinner etc often during those retirement years.

      So YOLO but you may live long — so make sure you live long and prosper by building the wealth for your retirement day by day during your youth.

      1. kas*

        I’ve definitely been thinking about saving for retirement. I’m trying to take it seriously as I used to feel like it was too far away and I’d rather spend that money on other things.

        I’d like to enjoy my entire life and not just my younger years so I should start planning for my future as well. I love to travel so that will be a huge motivator, thanks!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Why not give yourself a YOLO fund? Put small amounts of money in it and that is your fun money. Your friend wants to go kayaking your answer is “let me check my account”. The YOLO fund decides if you are going this time or not.

      It’s not black and white- it’s gray. We need to have fun and have experiences as we go through life. And we need to meet our financial responsibilities, too. That is reality. Why not plan a fun account in the same way you plan your rent/mortgage payment or your utility payment?

      I bet you will get very serious, very fast about that YOLO account! It’s pretty normal to want to do cool stuff. Weave it into your budgeting.

      1. kas*

        You’re right. It feels nice to have money readily available to do things instead of waiting for the next paycheque. Going to look into setting up a separate account and redo my budget.

      2. Artemesia*

        I had a job where I was able to do some extra consulting for pay; it wasn’t a huge amount — maybe 8 K on average a year, but sometimes up to 20K. I put that money in a separate account for travel. Sure all money is the same, but it always helped me to have different cages for different purposes. So the IRA and 401K accounts of course, but also an account from which we paid bills, a savings account and my travel account.

    7. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Don’t create a dichotomy between “having fun with friends” and “saving money.” Make an effort to arrange cheap/free activities with your friends so you don’t feel like you have to choose between being responsible financially and being social. Picnics/hikes, free concerts (probably not the big names, but most cities have some kind of free music in the summer), chilling on the beach/by the lake/whatever your area has, potluck dinners, inviting some friends over to watch the game or a movie, board game night… It’ll be easier to resist the $90 concert tickets when you already have plans for a make-your-own-pizza party that night.

      1. kas*

        That’s exactly what I’ve been doing, it’s either/or for me. I can put away x amount or put that towards a weekend getaway – the fun activity always wins. When I do set aside funds, another activity will come up and I’ll use that and then I’m back at square one. One of my group of friends are all about the free/inexpensive activities while the other group is always looking to spend money. I’m going to use some of your ideas, thank you!

  13. Shell*

    My hip has FINALLY stopped hurting. I owe that to that keyboard tray finally being installed at my work desk, thereby lowering my keyboard position (and my seat) nearly four inches in height. I can touch the ground! Holy crap, I had no idea keeping my feet on the ground was so important.

    I need a massage, stat.

    1. James M*

      I can relate. Mere days into my current desk job, I had to bring in a foot rest and my own keyboard. I want to bring a recliner and a pillow, but that might give my boss the wrong idea.

      1. Jamie*

        I’m waiting for the day I’m powerful enough to bring in an air mattress and duvet for under my desk. That will be the ultimate sign of success.

        1. Luxe in Canada*

          I actually did that when I worked at the office of a family member as a teen. Tiny staff, all family, so during downtime I’d nap on a camping mattress under my desk. I’d much rather have just gone home if I could, but I had to wait for a ride home. Like many things, it seems better on paper than in reality.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      I find having a footrest a real help as well. I like to sit up higher because i really want to see people as they approach, but not being able to touch the ground is tough. The footrest is great, and also helps me not to cross my legs, which is another no no ergonomic wise.

      1. Chinook*

        I am another one who needs a foot rest when working at a desk, and I am 5’6″ (just long in body). When I am in a conference room, I often come out with back pain because I can’t put my feet on the ground without the table hitting, etc just below the chest.

  14. Luxe in Canada*

    I get stressed out when people hug me, especially when they just go in for it without asking. Any suggestions on avoiding it? My current strategy of throwing up elbows and yelling out, “I’m not a hugger!” is less than polite.

    I would be willing to grit my teeth and endure if people would just ask first. I wouldn’t be happy about it, but I’ve got enough social graces not to make a big deal so long as I have the option of declining. Give me a heads up and at least pretend it’s optional. But most people don’t get permission, they just grab. At a previous job, the big important staff were huggers so I would dread them coming to town… Can’t exactly elbow the ribcage of someone three jumps up the hierarchy just to avoid it, but it also happened at my current job as well as with social acquaintances.

    Giant hamster ball? Cannister of knockout gas? Vest covered in spikes? Flying squirrel trained to fly at the face of anyone leaning in with arms spread out? Airbags sewn along my collarbones? Embroidered patch on all clothing, with clever rhymes?

    1. Anon*

      Would it be appropriate to greet most of these people with a handshake? Sometimes people stop after they get any kind of contact at all.

      Warning: Sometimes they take your hand and pull you into a hug…

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Yeah, I don’t think the pre-emptive handshake is foolproof, but if you do it at just the right time (and not too late), it may work.

    2. Jamie*

      People rarely do this to me twice, because I have an instant and totally involuntary ‘wtf are you doing?!’ look on my face as I back up out of range

      It’s not as dramatic as it sounds, I hope, because it’s completely beyond my control. If it’s someone I care enough about to do damage control I’ll laugh and say it’s not you it’s me, I’m weird like that everyone.

      I don’t inspire a lot of spontaneous hugging as I don’t exude the warmth and welcoming posture of most of my fellow INTJs – ha – but my look of horror, tensing, and backing up used to really hurt my Gramma’s feelings. I still feel bad about that.

      It’s funny because my older sister is so immune to me and is a big hugger so she’ll just grab me and laugh and say yeah, yeah, make your faces and gimme a hug, it’s good for you. She’s the only one who gets away with that because she’s totally adorable.

      1. C Average*

        Wow, I could’ve written this.

        Yeah, if you’re willing to be OK with certain aggressively friendly people regarding you as a bit prickly, body language can very clearly convey that you’re not a hugger.

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        I used to work with a woman who screamed if you touched her. Not the best response but highly effective.

    3. Lora*

      The worst is when they do the Christo Redentor thing so you really cannot merely offer to shake hands.

      I try to keep my hands full with something. Fortunately, where I work we can’t even shake hands (clean room / laboratory), so a wave/smile are generally accepted. Nobody hugs you if you have a very full coffee cup or a stack of paperwork in your hands.

      I also put my hands on their shoulders and do the air-kiss thing sometimes. Oh, you wanted me to press my swimsuit areas against your Hugo Boss? SORRY I MISUNDERSTOOD.

      1. Stephanie*

        The worst is when they do the Christo Redentor thing so you really cannot merely offer to shake hands.

        LOL. That move is the worst. I’m not a hugger, either, unless I haven’t seen you in a while (or am about to not see you for a while).

        My friend is cheek kisser. Making it worse is that he’s a smoker. I just have to go to my happy place for a few seconds.

        1. fposte*

          I would pay good money to see somebody tickle a Christo Redentor type under the armpits.

          1. Luxe in Canada*

            I would definitely like to see that too. Maybe I’ll add that to my anti-hug arsenal.

        2. en pointe*

          Ah, most of my friends are going through the cheek kissing thing at the moment. They weren’t doing it six months ago, so maybe it will pass. Doesn’t bother me too much but I can definitely see why it bothers so many other people.

  15. Ruffingit*

    SUNDAY BEST AND WORST!

    What was the best part of your (last) week?
    What was the worst part?

    1. Anon*

      Best: Going to a show last night.
      Worst: THE LINE AT KRISPY KREME WAS TOO LONG FOR ME TO GET MY FREE DONUT YESTERDAY. :”””””””(

    2. kas*

      Best: the weather in Toronto has been beautiful! I’ve been taking the long, scenic route home all week just to enjoy it.

      Worst: thankfully nothing stands out, pretty good week I think

    3. en pointe*

      Best: Dragged my boyfriend to a hip hop class, which turned out to be booty shaking, music video girls-esque hip hop day. He was a sport though and gave it a good crack, and oh. my. god. my boyfriend is practically Beyonce. I was so impressed.

      Worst: Traffic accident practically shut down half my city on Thursday morning. It’s a city heavily reliant on public transport, so all the buses got diverted to suburban wharves and stations, which also all filled up, and it was a crazy sight to see this huge army of people walking over the Harbour Bridge into the city.

      1. C Average*

        Love the description of your boyfriend being “practically Beyonce.” I love watching my buttoned-up engineer husband play Dance Central on the Xbox with the kids. Men who can and will dance = awesome.

    4. Stephanie*

      Best: Found a new favorite coffee shop.
      Worst: Got pretty dehydrated one night this week (weather’s been above average). Didn’t drink enough water, went to the gym and nearly passed out (I started seeing stars, getting cold, and everything). I was able to drive myself home, but felt nauseous the entire way and had a bad headache. It took tons of Powerade (man that stuff is foul) for me to feel better.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        We actually had someone at work hospitalized for that the other week. For four days!

        She wasn’t hydrated enough going into a brand new spin class. The spin class was intense and, one thing and another, her legs swelled up like balloons and she was in the hospital for four days.

        I knew this shit was serious but I didn’t know it was *that* serious. Hydrate!

      2. C Average*

        Oy! Be careful. Hey, did you get the email I sent you to follow up on our discussion last week? If you’re busy and didn’t have a chance to respond, totally cool. I just wanted to make sure I got your email address right. Would love to chat about Intel, Portland, fun things to do in Phoenix, etc.

        1. Stephanie*

          I didn’t, but I’ll double-check my spam folder. Just in case you want to resend, here’s my email again: stephanie.m.jennings AT gmail.com

    5. NW Cat Lady*

      Best: got my foster kitten!!!!
      Worst: working overtime tonight means less time playing with the kitten! (I agreed to work the OT long before I knew I would have a kitten in the house)

    6. bullyfree*

      BEST: Hearing how happy and safe my friend feels at her new job. She was in a bad situation with a newly hired manager who was bullying her, at old job. At this new job, she is learning new things, enjoying it and the day flies by. I’m so happy for her.
      WORST: The college shooting just two miles from where I live. It was so senseless. So incredibly sad and my heart goes out to all of SPU. (Next door neighbors are all students there) My PTSD was triggered by it so I had a tough time sleeping Thursday night but slept eleven hours last night. That’s why I’m now wide awake at 2:30am.

      1. Windchime*

        My close friend’s daughter is a student at SPU but was out of town this week (thank goodness). Such a terrible thing.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Best – leaving work, some good conversations had with various people, being told to keep in touch and that we will do lunch in the future, finishing my exam, the beautiful weather for most of the week, wearing pretty dresses and my leaving gifts from work.

        Worst – can’t say for sure how my exam went, the hangover yesterday wasn’t great, the fact that I can’t sleep well at the moment, my hot water went and I had to borrow money from my dad to get it fixed as all my pay seems to have disappeared already.

    7. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Best: my elder rescue Bichon, who I am nuts about, is feeling well after having a bout with ill in the middle of the week. He has issues and I’m always fearful that “this” thing will be the thing that leads to an end. So! He’s running around pretending to chase the stuffed squirrels and it’s the best.

      Worst: had to let two people go this week at work. Always the worst. Need to snuggle a dog.

    8. Tasha*

      Best: Went to the ballet on Monday, after months of not being able to go anywhere because of work/school. It was fantastic!
      Worst: Got locked out of my apartment building’s basement, where all my clothes and textbooks are stored at the moment, and had to chase down the one tenant with a certain key.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Best: Our dog (who is our baby) and I gave my husband a ticket to the Hugh Laurie concert for an early Father’s Day gift. He had a great time and has raved about it!

        Worst: Wanted to lose more weight by now, but just wasn’t disciplined enough. Getting back on the wagon though.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Hugh Laurie! My brother is a big fan of his music (I’m a smaller fan) he & his girlfriend went to see him in Edinburgh last year and loved it.

    9. Jessica the Librarian*

      Best: We adopted two kittens on Thursday! They are quite possibly the cutest things I’ve ever seen. They came from a less than ideal situation, and according to their foster mom, one of them lost an eye after a run in with a terrible person shooting a BB gun (just typing that makes me want to punch someone). My husband and I are looking forward to giving them a happy life as lazy, spoiled house cats :)

      Worst: I sprained my ankle and have been stuck in the house most of this beautiful weekend. This would be a LOT worse if I didn’t have adorable kittens to occupy my time. So really, aside from my ankle hurting, it’s been a pretty great week!

    10. Jamie*

      Best: I highlighted my hair (subtle but not invisible) and I’m really happy with it, which for me to be happy with a new hair look is a once or twice in a lifetime deal for me.

      Oh, a twofer, I found a new facial mousiturizer that I love way more than my old one. My old one was almost $20 for 1.7 oz and the new one is $5 and some change for 10 oz. Better skin and a bargain – you can’t beat that.

      Worst – people at work feeling the need to comment on my hair. Work friends, sure, but just coworkers? Why do they think I would be even remotely interested in what they think of my hair?

      And the person at work I’m now convinced is being stupid and difficult at meI believe they are trying to kill me with the weapon of incompetence and asshattery.

      1. Trixie*

        Jamie, can you share your new moisturizer? (I had a similar discovery with Equate’s cleanser vs Cetaphil.)

        1. Jamie*

          Absolutely – I switched from L’Oreal collagen to St Ives Collagen Elastin Mousturizer. I read the reviews and tried to find it for a couple of weeks, but our stores don’t sell it locally so I broke down and ordered it from Walgreens.

          Now that I know I like it next time I’ll buy a 3 pack on amazon for less.

          And I fell for the sales trick of wanting free shipping so I kept shopping at walgreens online until I hit the $25 limit. But I got some barrettes and other stuff and forgot I ordered it so in the week it was a fun surprise – like a present from me I forgot was coming.

    11. Liz in a Library*

      Best: Got several home projects taken care of this week that have been bugging me for a long while. It’s really nice to be able to open my bedroom door without the knob nearly falling off. And yes, they all were that easy to fix…I’ve just been lazy.

      Worst: I had a great day with my nephew on Thursday. He was getting over some little bug, so he was calmer than normal (he’s 1.5). When it was time to give me a goodbye hug, he sneezed directly onto my face. Guess who woke up with a terrible head cold and sore throat yesterday? The kid is not the worst, but this sure is.

    12. Prickly Pear*

      Best: I got to hang out with an awesome group of people, talking and laughing as a gorgeous sunset faded into a lovely night. It doesn’t get much better than being outside on a summer night.

      Worst: How every day I worked seemed to drag beyond belief. I really hope I find something soon. Right now my enthusiasm for doing a great job is carrying me through, but I’m afraid that Apathy Lane awaits.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        Worst: Arguing with my boss over whether we deserve minimum wage.

        Best: Finding and applying to a phenomenally-perfect job (for me), three minutes from my house, perfectly suited to my degree and interests, and a significant raise, that preferentially hires military spouses like myself. I’ll be on tenterhooks until the job closes!

    13. saro*

      Best: The news that my good friend is coming to my area next week!
      Worst: Sleep training the baby. I’d write more about it but it would be very melodramatic.

      1. C Average*

        Can I just say I love this phrasing? The next time someone asks me about something that would be tedious for me to describe or them to hear, I’m going to say, “I’d tell you about that, but it would be very melodramatic.”

    14. Mimmy*

      Best: Laundry room was finally completed on Monday!! The new cabinets look really nice and provide much-needed storage space.

      Worst: Said cabinets are above the washer & dryer, which can’t be pushed back against the wall due to piping & wiring. I am short, so I can barely reach the lowest shelves!

    15. Trixie*

      Best: My Subaru CEL is off for three days and counting, great conversation with Costco staff member about seasonal employment, did not get a $$$ ticket for expired tags after making an appearance in court, saved gas money by walking/biking this week on 1-2 mile outings, and free donut.

      Worst: Mad Men withdrawal, and no decent movie at the budget until next week.

    16. Kay*

      Best: Super awesome trip to DC. We’ve seen monuments, museums, had amazing food. It’s really been so wonderful.

      Worst: developing blisters on my feet from all the walking in new-ish shoes that I thought were broken in. Didn’t let it stop me though!

    17. Persephone Mulberry*

      Best: I banged out the Powerpoint for one of my summer classes in one night, leaving me with almost two weeks to practice the presentation itself. I’m typically a “frantically building slides the night before” type of student.

      Worst: No free donut for me, either.

    18. C Average*

      BEST: Things seem to be thawing with my boss, who’s been weirdly standoffish lately, and I completed a couple of big projects.

      WORST: I really have nothing. Seriously. Nothing. It’s summer already and I wish my arms were a little more toned? Yeah, sorry, that’s all I’ve got.

    19. Windchime*

      Best: I got a new car! It’s very complicated and has a screen with all kinds of options and menus. Currently I am stuck on a 70’s channel for the XM radio.

      Worst: My achilles is still giving me trouble, and my surgery was 7 months ago. Depressing.

    20. Liane*

      Best 1: going to Decoration Day at the little church where my in-laws, and a lot of others from my husband’s family are buried. Nice service with lots of singing, and very, very good food and fellowship. Our daughter provided monkey bread with chocolate chips, her specialty.
      Best 2: Finally was a good girl & spent quality time, repeatedly, this week with stationary bike at apt. gym. Read assorted SF & fantasy while, hopefully, pedalling away evidence of my chocolate addiction.

      Worst: as per usual, work, especially the Very Extra Special Snowflake customer on Saturday. *Bless Her Heart* to the 100 Zillionth Power.

    21. Elizabeth West*

      Best: I won two prizes at Doctor Who group–a TARDIS soap dispenser and that Dalek/TARDIS ice cube tray.

      Worst: It will NOT stop raining. Which isn’t so bad, because we need it, but gah.

    22. Jen RO*

      Best: My work friend got pregnant and is over the moon, so I’m happy for her! And also a bit worried since she’s in the first trimester and this is when most things go bad.

      Worst: Tension headache for two days. Horrible! It’s mostly gone now but I’ll probably go for a swim to make sure it doesn’t come back.

    23. OriginalEmma*

      Best: Went on a bike/walk 18-mile round trip sojourn out to camping! First time taking my backpacking pack out. It was beautiful and strenuous and I would love to do it again.

      Worst: Tonight, a few hours after getting home from that jaunt, someone stole my smelly, just-walked-18-miles-in-them, sweat-soaked hiking shoes from my front door (I live in an apartment with a common, open walkway – the like which cheap motels have). I’m legitimately pissed.

  16. en pointe*

    Another thing I’d really appreciate any advice on: We’ve had a few discussions on this blog recently about weight loss, watching what you eat, etc., but I’m wondering if anyone has any advice on the opposite, i.e not thinking about weight/calories so much?

    If I’m honest, I’m fairly obsessed with my weight. I think about it and what I eat all the time, which isn’t particularly unusual. Half my friends, and almost all the other dancers I know, are the same, and I don’t have an eating disorder or anything, but it’s still something that I know isn’t very healthy, and that I want to work on changing. My current weight is at the very bottom end of the healthy range for my height, so I don’t need to be counting calories or losing weight, but I’m also really scared of gaining any. I get really anxious if I eat something I know I shouldn’t, or if I eat anything too late at night.

    So, I’ve been trying lately to not count calories and to just try and make healthy choices without always tying it to weight, but it’s not easy and I feel like I have a sort of anxiety about it all. So yeah, I’d love to hear if anyone have any advice on thinking LESS about what you eat, or on tying food in your mind more to nutrition and health, and less to weight or appearance?

    1. Kinrowan*

      What helps me the most in thinking about what to eat without getting so hung up on the scale is to think about what nutrition I am putting in my body and whether that will help me accomplish my goals (for me, a race, marathon, a triathlon). That helps me make nutritious choices, not just eat the thing that has the least amount of calories, but perhaps is not so healthy.

    2. Schmitt*

      1) Give away your scale. Seriously. What do you need it for?

      2) Even without a scale, I get weird about my weight / appearance sometimes. Without fail, after a while I realize it was a side-effect of stress, something else going on in my life, so that I proxy-worry about my weight instead of my job or my marriage.

      1. en pointe*

        The idea of throwing away the scale is actually legitimately scary to me. I feel like I have to know my exact weight all the time so I can control it but I want to be able to control it without obsessing over it. I think I need to limit myself to checking once per fortnight or something.

        1. fposte*

          Weighing yourself doesn’t control anything. It just tells you a momentary number. Not weighing yourself doesn’t mean your body’s likelier to expand or contract, and unless you’ve got all-elastic waistbands, your clothes will tell you clearly if you’re expanding or shrinking. What would happen if you thought of your body as something you are rather than something you had to control? What do you think it would do if you didn’t have it under control?

          I know what you’re talking about isn’t uncommon in dance body culture, but it’s not the healthiest of models. I’m glad you’re considering new ways of approaching food things.

          1. en pointe*

            Well, my body IS something that I have to control. That’s essentially what dance is; learning to control your body, and I do get angry at myself if I don’t get everything right. But it’s not just dancers; some of my friends are the same way with food, and they’ve never done a pirouette in their lives. To your second question, I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have it under control; that is a really scary thought to me. I’m hoping that by making it less of a thought-consuming thing, I can reduce some of the anxiety that I have around it.

            I understand what you’re saying about how weighing doesn’t control anything in and of itself, but it does give me knowledge so that I can do things to control my weight if I need to, or reassure that I haven’t, in fact, gained and can calm down. I don’t want to stop weighing myself, but I do want to stop agonizing over calories and thinking about it 24/7 because I know that it’s not healthy. That’s why I thought some sort of schedule might help.

            1. fposte*

              Sure, as an athlete, you want to control what your body does; that’s not the same thing as being in control over what it is. I mean, if you’ve been having trouble keeping your weight down for dance that’s one thing, but you’re talking about a fear of losing control in a way that doesn’t seem to be related to an immediate need.

              Given that you’re talking about reframing your food approach anyway, I think what I’m doing here is mostly superfluous contemplation. But I think calories and intake and weight are, in some circles, the equivalent of the busyness competitions in others; they’re not based on real logic or need, but they’ve become a kind of cultural assertion that’s standard part of identity for those in them. And I always think it’s worth pushing back a little on those.

              1. en pointe*

                But it is the same thing because in order to do the things that I do, my body needs to be a certain way. I need to control what it is in order to control what it can do.

                I don’t have an immediate need to lose weight. The immediate need is to not gain weight, which I can only be sure I’m not doing by monitoring it, and being ready to respond if I need to.

                1. nep*

                  What do you eat? (ie mostly clean? any processed foods, etc?) Has any combination of foods in particular caused you to put on weight in the past? I reckon you’re quite in tune with your body and know well what it needs to be at optimal weight and performance level for what you do. In which case, what do you think the anxiety stems from exactly?

                2. en pointe*

                  Yeah, mostly clean, lower sugar fruits, lots of lentils and veggies, very little meat. Most processed foods I avoid as much as possible and hate eating when I have to. I don’t know about the anxiety, I’ve just gotten really obsessive about it in the last few years. That’s what I want to work on.

    3. Cristina in England*

      I am really into this. What I do is to focus on what I should be eating instead of what I shouldn’t and also when I am planning what to eat or make, I focus on what will taste good or be fun to eat. Focusing on health and pleasure has been a big help for me. Also, it really drives me crazy when people moralize about food. For instance dessert isn’t right or wrong, it just is. Once I reprogrammed my brain away from that I was shocked at how ubiquitous these messages were.

      1. Ali*

        Oh I hate the food moralizing! I went to a Twitter chat about healthier eating a few weeks ago, and while there were good tips, some of the people were seriously obnoxious with their preaching about “Cut out ALL sugar,” “I always drink water at home” or “Never buy a food with more than five ingredients.” I’m trying to eat everything in moderation and don’t ever want to deprive myself anything if I feel a craving for it. I don’t follow all those fancy rules, and while I’ve been struggling with weight for a while, I’ve still kept off about 18 pounds.

        I hate weighing myself though, especially since the Wii Fit is my scale and usually even needing one week off of exercise or having one fun and food-filled weekend with my family puts all the weight back on and leaves it there. Then the Wii is all judgmental and snooty about it. I wish I could throw the thing out the window!

        1. Cristina in England*

          Oh my goodness yes that Wii fit is SO judgmental! I absolutely hate that thing for that reason. I think that food moralizing is related to any other type of self-righteous moralizing (about TV-watching habits, how responsible one is as a parent, etc etc) that is just designed to make one person feel superior to another.

          1. en pointe*

            Oooh, I really hope I’m not a food moraliser. I’ll admit I follow some of the stupid rules like not eating after a certain time at night and drinking water unless it’s a night out, but it’s absolutely about making choices for myself not passing judgement on the food choices of anybody else. I usually don’t proactively talk about it at all but if someone offers me something I don’t want to eat, I might mention it. Annoying?

          2. Elkay*

            I frequently flip the bird at the trainer on the Wii Fit who tells me I was very unsteady on my feet and some nonsense about a beautiful posture.

            1. C Average*

              I have an Xbox Kinect fitness game that makes me crazy and makes me want to NOT work out. I have dinosaur arms–they’re legitimately short for my height–and whenever the trainer in the game tells me to do a pushup and I do one, the sensor doesn’t recognize it. After several attempts on my part to do a pushup the sensor will approve, the trainer says in what seems to me this very condescending way, “You seem to be having some trouble with this one. We’ll come back to this one later.” And I stand there raging at the TV: “I know how to do a pushup, you stupid animated meathead!” (I’ve actually done pushups in front of various family and co-workers and they all agree I have proper form..) I’ve pretty much abandoned the game because it makes me so mad.

              1. Jen RO*

                Ahaha I have Your Shape too, and the sensor is stupid sometimes. But sometimes it also thinks I did something well when I actually didn’t!

        2. Vancouver Reader*

          I have a total love/hate relationship with the Wii Fit. Maybe we just have to hear it say its thing in a nicer, more encouraging voice.

    4. AB Normal*

      Perhaps knowing it doesn’t work to fixate on calories will help?

      Here’s my story: when I moved to the U.S. from a South America country where we at much less processed food, I rapidly started to gain weight. I became obsessed with counting calories, and at some point, was practically eating only salad and grilled chicken, without much results.

      Then, I went on vacation to my country, and told myself: “during this trip, I will not think about weight or diet. When I’m back to the U.S. I’ll deal with it, but now I’m going to enjoy my mother’s lasagna and eat everything I want!”.

      The result? I had lost 5 pounds when I came back! Even eating fried food and pizza, the additional exercise and the fact that we also eat a lot of fresh food (rice, beans, steak, tons of vegetables, salad) all the time, and zero super processed foods like cookies, hamburgers, nuggets, etc., made the difference.

      From then on, I stopped dieting, or counting calories. What I do is to plan on having plenty of fresh product at home to snack on (carrots + hummus, cucumbers + yogurt dip, etc.). I think that when we eat a lot of fresh food, we get less hungry too. During that trip, I went for the 3rd piece of lasagna when I wanted it, but by being a lot of vegetables I don’t think I really ingested as many calories even if I was allowing me too.

    5. Beebs*

      It’s about creating a healthy environment and good health habits, that way they are reflexes instead of a major thought process. Fill your fridge with fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, non processed foods and just enjoy. Try to keep the treats and junk food out of the house. Once the habits are there it becomes easier to make healthy choices without thinking so much about it. But you really need to enjoy life and moderation is key. Also, I agree with above commenters about getting rid of the scale, it doesn’t really give you much useful information and it just takes up space.

      Just as a personal anecdote, as a health and fitness professional, I just ate a cupcake for breakfast (leftover from my best friends birthday last night). Not healthy, not good fuel for the workout class I am about to teach, but I wanted it so I ate it. The rest of the day will be back to my usual whole food eating, but treats are just necessary sometimes!

      1. en pointe*

        I like this about making the environment really healthy and making it more reflexive, rather than something I have to think out and stress about. Thanks!

    6. Artemesia*

      The only thing that works for me is to literally remake the kitchen larder. Fill the refrigerator with crudite ready to eat and fruit and veggies and a low call yogurt dip and some hummus. Get rid of everything easy to eat and high cal in the cupboard e.g. candy, cookies, bread if that is on your list etc. Make it so you can walk to the refrigerator and have anything you want without thinking about it and that there are tons of choices so you aren’t tempted to make a run for cookies or donuts.

      1. en pointe*

        I like this and it’s similar to what Cristina in England said about making it about what I should eat, not what I shouldn’t. I think if I can remove some of the thought process and just take whatever I want and have it be nutritious and low calorie, I might not obsess as much.

        My only barrier to that is I live with my mum, as I’m still in school, and she’s kind of a mess, in several ways (said in the most loving daughter way possible). I do the shopping though, so I’m leaning towards just only buying healthy foods and filling the house with them. Can only be good for her physically and emotionally, as well.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I gave up with calorie counting when I found it did not do anything for me.
      It’s not the calories, it’s the ingredients.
      If you find that you are obsessing on this, that in itself could be indicative of a nutritional deficiency. A tired mind will lock into something and not let go. The mind tires out when the body is running low on nutrition.

      Instead of making all about being “in your head”, start looking at what you are taking in for vitamins and minerals. Particularly minerals- low minerals will tire a brain very quickly.

    8. Persephone Mulberry*

      Have you thought about working with a therapist? The kind of anxiety you’re describing about eating the wrong thing, at the thought of throwing away your scale, etc. is probably not going to be resolved by telling yourself “don’t count calories” and “everything in moderation.” You need to adjust your relationship with food – from your other comments I believe you get that already – but I think you’ll see more pronounced changes, faster, with professional guidance and support.

      1. en pointe*

        Yeah, I’ve had that advice before from friends, as I do have an unhealthy relationship with food. I’m well aware of that. I’m pretty motivated to keep away from the therapy route at the moment, as my mum does enough for the both of us and it’s very financially draining. Might be something down the track though if I don’t have enough success changing on my own. Thanks.

        1. nep*

          You’ve got it in you to ease up on all this and find some peace in your relationship with food. It would be a shame to set it up in your mind that you might get better only with someone on the outside. Not to say anything against therapy, which is the right thing and helpful for many people. Just that it’s not great to underestimate the power one has to overcome things.
          Sometimes just fighting thoughts all the time gives them more power. Let the feelings come and go — that’s what feelings do. They are not what we are.
          I can relate about obsessing over food, calories, weight-gain. I’ve found that over the years the more I’m doing things for other beings, helping people or even animals, the less it all troubles me — to the point of dissolving. And gratitude. If you’re healthy and able to move the way you want to, it helps to focus on the positives — you’ve got your health and food to fuel you. (Think a car. Food is, after all, our fuel.)

    9. toothless*

      You say you don’t have an eating disorder, but you’re “really scared” of gaining weight, “really anxious” when you eat something outside the rules you’ve set for yourself, the thought of not having your eating under control is “really scary,” you’re “agonizing” over calories and thinking about them “24/7,” and the idea of throwing out your scale is “actually legitimately scary.” (your words.)

      I would call that an eating disorder.

      1. en pointe*

        Um, no. You’re missing the part where I said I starve myself because I don’t. But hey, feel free to keep slapping labels on strangers on the internet. All in good fun.

        1. en pointe*

          Toothless, reading this with a fresh eye, I’m sorry for the hostility. I disagree with your comment, but if I could re-do mine, I’d drop the attitude.

        1. en pointe*

          As much as I appreciate the armchair diagnosis, what I’m talking about is pretty common, at least among people I know. Way moreso than anxiety disorders.

      2. C Average*

        This thread reminds me of an article I read about a condition called orthorexia. It’s basically a fixation on healthy eating that becomes unhealthy in its obsessiveness.

        I go through periods when I’m trying to get down to race weight–a weight that’s clinically a couple pounds underweight, but at which I know I run faster–where I scrutinize everything I eat. The description of this condition really rang true to me.

        I’m not sure I have any advice. I put on about ten pounds after a surgery three years ago and haven’t been able to take it off since, and I haven’t really tried that hard because I don’t race anymore and I’m in the low end of my recommended weight range still. I’ve learned to enjoy food too much, and I figured out pretty early on that the extra ten pounds wasn’t going to balloon to some crazy number; it’s held steady for three years now.

    10. TL*

      I have some fairly strict dietary rules that I follow (allergic to wheat, corn, and nuts, also maybe soy, though I’m having some success reintroducing that into my diet) as well as some digestion issues (can’t have too much dairy and I did very well on the FODMAPS diet so I try to incorporate that into my diet.) And for budgetary reasons, I try to only eat out for lunch once a week.

      So when it comes to food, if it’s not against my rules and I want to eat it, I do. And it works really well for me. I am forced into a disgustingly healthy diet (I can’t eat hardly any processed food and what I can eat tends to be healthier alternatives), but within that diet I don’t obsess over what I’m eating; I just eat it.

      So maybe try a set of rules, like you only eat dessert once a week but you can have whatever dessert you want when you do eat. You can only buy two items from the middle of the grocery store, but they can be any two items. I don’t obsess over every meal or every bite, but I keep pretty strict control over my diet by following a set of general rules. If that makes sense.

  17. Stephanie*

    Anyone have advice on how to reduce telemarketing calls? Our phone number’s been registered with DoNotCall.gov (since 2008, apparently), but it’s not seeming very effective.

    I’m guessing because of the large retiree population nearby, we get a lot of calls (usually about reverse mortgages, time shares, questionable annuities, Medicare Part D, or ways to reduce our HVAC costs). The phone rings from 8 am to 8 pm, multiple times an hour (including weekends). The telemarketers use a robo dial so that either a city or random person’s name pops up (so I can’t block the numbers easily). I’ve succeeded at telling a couple of organizations to stop calling, but for the most part, it’s like Whack-A-Mole with these guys: I tell one reverse mortgage company to stop calling and three different ones call the next day.

    Also, our phone announces the caller ID. Except it struggles with a lot of cities. “Minneapolis”, “Tucson”, and “Baton Rouge” are particularly tough for it.

    Suggestions? (I tried suggesting we just get rid of the land line with no luck.)

    1. Rebecca*

      If you figure this out, please tell me. I have noticed that 99% of the calls I get are scammers, so the DNC list won’t help. Every day when I get home from work, there are missed calls, and according to 800notes, I’ve missed free cruises, opportunities to lower my electricity rate or credit card rates, missed donating to the State Police (who don’t call for donations) or the Childhood [insert name if disease here] Foundation, extended auto warranties for vehicles I don’t own, and that my Windows computer has a virus.

      If I’m home in the evening, and an odd phone# comes up on caller ID, I hit talk, lay the phone face down, and go about what I was doing. Eventually I’ll hear the fast busy, and I hang the phone up. I figure if they’re breaking the law and trying to steal from me, I’ll steal time from them.

      1. Stephanie*

        Ha, I answered one that was purporting to fix my windshield. And if I used their windshield repair service, I could get a free all-inclusive vacation in Cancun. I said I had just had my windshield repaired yesterday (true, actually) and the scammer’s like “Oh man! You just missed out on a vacation worth close to $900. And you could have taken a friend or family member! Well, next time your windshield is cracked, be sure to call us.”

    2. fposte*

      I’m agreeing with Rebecca that it’s likely to be scammers and not real telemarketing, but wow, that sounds like a hideous volume of calls. Might be worth documenting for a short period and contacting your state’s attorney general, noting the fact that you live in an area with a highly vulnerable population that seems to be being targeted.

      Have you verified your registration at the DNC site, just in case you fell off it somehow?

      1. Stephanie*

        Verified it the other night. And yeah, I think you and Rebecca might be right that these are all scammers. My cell phone is all on the DNC list and I almost never get telemarketing calls.

        And yes, the fake numbers! One called “Clothes Charity” keeps calling.

      2. Rebecca*

        I don’t get any spam calls on my cell phone (it’s a Tracfone), only on the landline phone. And most of them come up as [city], [state abbreviation]. Most are from PA where I live, but if you call them back, you get a number not in service message, so they’re spoofed. That’s why I never report them, it’s a waste of my time, and I’d be doing this 4-5 times a day.

    3. Kay*

      You can report telemarketing calls on the do not call website. I believe the places that continue to call can be fined.

      Also, my favorite line for anyone stubborn enough to keep calling me after I’ve asked them to stop: “The next time I receive a call from this number, I will be reporting it to the police as harrassment”. (Haven’t had to follow through on that one yet…)

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I worked on a campaign that got scam calls all the time, and the way they taught me to handle it was to 1) tell live people to put you on their do not call list, and 2) if it’s a recording, wait until the end of the recording…. AlmosT always they will EVENTUALLY say something like “or press 9 to be removed from our list” and then press 9. In the office, the common practice was to put the call on speaker and. Go about your work, it often takes several minutes to get to that point.

      I’ve had the same cell phone number since freshman year of college (2004), have never been particularly judicious with handing it out, and I almost never get spam calls. The worst is that the DNC and DSCC and DCCC all have my number, and I gave to one of them at some point, so they have me pegged as a person to call every quarter or so. :/

      Oh! Fun fact: if you want a company to put you on their do not call list, you must say exactly that, usually. It won’t work to say “don’t call me again,” or “put me on your No call list.” My sister worked as a telemarketer for a couple years and her tales are FASCINATING.

      1. Stephanie*

        So a national organization kept calling us daily (multiple times some days). My dad is a former member, but let his membership lapse (don’t want to mention the specific organization to avoid a debate-it’s controversial org).

        I finally caved and answered and asked that our number be put on their DNC list. The caller cited our home fax number, so perhaps that’s how some of these callers are getting our number?

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          I only remember a couple, so I will talk to her and compile a really good list for next Sunday.

          She also had some great stories working for a Chinese restaurant in high school. Kathy manages to have all the weirdest jobs… She can even claim she killed a Nazi (though her involvement is debatable).

    5. Golden Yeti*

      It seems like I read an article once that said that DNC only works within your country? So if you’re on national DNC in the States, calls might be routed in from Canada, or vice versa.

      I only have a cell phone, but at least for Android, I know there are call blocking apps. That’s what I use. If I don’t recognize the area code and I don’t have it saved and there’s no voicemail after, it goes on the “Automatically Hang Up On Them” list.

    6. AcademicAnon*

      If your state has it’s own do not call list, register for that. The federal do no call list and my state have an online form to report them, so every single time you get a phone call report them. Every time. If you’re registered and they still call you, they are in violation, and you don’t have to (at least for my state’s list) tell them not to call you back. The previous number I had, I keep getting debt collectors calling, so it go to the point I wouldn’t even answer the phone, I would just report them. After getting reported, by the 2nd or 3rd time the number got taken off their lists. However this doesn’t work for scammers, and it might actually make things worse if there are a lot in you area, because it can verify that is a legit number to use for someone. I actually got letter from my state do not call agency stating they couldn’t actually get any useful info for the scam calls, and couldn’t pursue it further.

  18. Sandrine (France)*

    Hi, I just wanted to pen a small-ish love letter to the US. I got back from a nice week in Nex Jersey on June 5th.

    Dear United States of America:

    I love you.

    You have Moutain Dew. You have Vanilla Peanut Butter Ice Cream. You have Peanut Butter M&M’s.

    You have Torrid, Fashion to Figure and Hot Topic, in which I was able to shamelessly empty my wallet (I now am the proud owner of a Doctor Who dress that fits. NO JOKE) . I have new fitting bras… that I can’t find here in Paris in that size. Size 24 fattie now has THREE MORE FRIGGIN DRESSES! HA! Go summer… here comes the sexy, ohhh yeah.

    It’s good that I wasn’t able to get into the Hershey’s store in Times Square… cause I fell in love with Reese’s Peanut Butter cups all over again. And also, you have that el cheapo 1,19 USD strawberry V05 Shampoo I love… booh to only having 2 of each in stock when I got to the store.

    Dear US, as much as I never want to work there (this blog proves it to me everyday), I can guarantee you that should I ever win the lottery, I WILL find a house there and live a few months of the year. In New Jersey, preferably, with a driver, as well.

    Much love from almost-converted-to-American Sandrine,

    <3

    1. Mimmy*

      You were in my state!! Glad you enjoyed your stay :)

      Also, I vowed to a friend that I will visit the Hershey Store because I loveeee Peanut Butter Cups, and they have a HUGE one!

        1. Rebecca*

          I love Turkey Hill “skinny minty” – green mint flavored ice cream with cookies in it that taste like Girl Scout Thin Mints! I don’t buy it often as I can’t stay out of it!

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        While we were dying in the M&M’s store, our friend went to Hershey’s and one of them showed me his big Reese cup.

        I have several small ish packets in my fridge. Had leftover money when I stopped at Philadelphia airport on my way back sooooooooo…

      1. Mimmy*

        Hey now!! ;) Just kidding….I am SO itching for the day we can move (life-long NJ resident).

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Sandrine, there is a huge M & M store just across the way in London as well :) I say “just across the way” but it depends where you are in France, I guess.

          1. Sandrine (France)*

            Paris.

            I actually went there once.

            Me : Hello sir, do you have Peanut Butter M&M’s ?
            Employee : No Ma’am, I’m afraid they only sell it in the US.
            Employee and I : *sadface*

            1. Felicia*

              We actually have peanut butter M&Ms at various stores in Toronto, if you want to come visit:) We also have some amazing chocolate bars that Americans don’t have. Like Coffee Crisp!

              1. Lynne in AB*

                And we have Kit Kats! That are much tastier than American Kit Kats! *was just in the States a couple weeks ago and innocently picked up a Kit Kat…great disappointment and sadness ensued*

                (I am jealous of some of their ice cream flavours though, and shopping in general, so I guess it evens out. :) )

                1. Felicia*

                  Japan does have the best Kit Kats in the world so they’ve got us all beat there :)

            2. Ruffingit*

              They sell Peanut M&Ms in Germany. I bought huge bags of them while I was there a couple of years ago. :)

              1. Jen RO*

                Aren’t we taking about two different things? Peanut M&Ms are common here and have an actual peanut in the middle. I thought peanut butter ones would have peanut butter inside, the gooey stuff?

                1. Felicia*

                  Yes, peanut butter M&Ms have peanut butter inside, totally different than peanut M&Ms.

                  Even better than M&Ms is Canadian (or British) Smarties. They’re like M&Ms but superior. Canadian and British Smarties are slightly different from each other, but Americans don’t have them at all.

                  What Americans know as Smarties is a totally different thing. In Canada those are called Rockets, and don’t involve chocolate

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Hooray!
      Glad you had fun!

      I am sorely, sorely tempted to hop on the Eurostar one day on my trip to London and have lunch in Paris, just for the hell of it. Oh sooooo very tempted.

      1. Jen RO*

        If you decide to, make the bookings in advance, it might get pricey. I went on a (very expensive) half-day trip from Paris to London on the Eurostar and I haven’t regretted it! Also, Paris is beautiful.

    3. OriginalEmma*

      And New Jersey is happy you had a lovely time too. Thanks for the positive rep for my beloved state!

    4. Unmitigated Gal*

      Sounds great, and thanks for the shout out to my home and current state – beautiful NJ (seriously, it is beautiful)!

  19. TooShyForAName*

    I am sorely out of practice…any first date advice? We’re in our mid-40s.

    1. SandraDee*

      Just be yourself. We all have a few road miles on us. I went in with the attitude of what you see is me. I have a couple extra pounds,a kid in college and dogs. If you have an issue with any of those, then you aren’t the guy for me. Luckily, I found one that accepts me for who I am, and all of my quirks, and I accept all of his.

    2. Jamie*

      Just make sure you’re evaluating whether or not they are a good fit for you, and not just wondering what they think of you.

      Dating is a lot like job searching. :)

      I’m sure others will give you good advice about the important aspects, so I’ll cover the shallow:

      Don’t eat anything messy. No honey wings, ribs, or giant delicious burgers you can’t bite without almost unhinging your jaw.

      Cute but comfy shoes. You won’t be able to evaluate him properly if you’re focused on painful feet.

      You can tell a LOT about a man by how he drives. Just saying.

      And ask him this: “So if you dropped something heavy on your toe and you woke up with it black and blue how long would you talk about that and expect me to listen as you recount the injury and the exact color of the bruising on an endless loop?” That may sound oddly specific, but if I had asked that of my husband I wouldn’t be sitting here ten years later trying to appear compassionate after hours of this.

      Or just drop something on his foot as a test and see how big a baby he is about it. If he spends less then 7 hours rambling about it, he’s a keeper.

      1. the gold digger*

        Also, “Do you plan to try to quit your really good engineering job to focus on politics? Will you ever want to run for public office? Will you want to talk about politics ALL THE TIME? Tell me now so I can be warned.”

        1. Jamie*

          You made me think…what if we instituted a kind of QC policy on this kind of thing?

          At my work there are procedures that must be followed. If one would like to make a change my door is always open and if the change makes sense and will improve things, and it still gives the same results, we can revise things. But until approval and official reauthorization of the revision the current protocol must be followed.

          No changes without approval. That would just save so much time and so many ‘discussions.’

          (In case it didn’t go without saying, we’d be the one with approval authority.)

          1. the gold digger*

            Amen.

            I have pointed out to my husband many times that there was nothing in our wedding vows about running for office and that I think a change of this magnitude might be grounds for annulment.

        1. Jamie*

          My dh needed to know what was so funny and I showed him.

          Asked where the video was of the wife who accidentally cuts her pinky on the grater and screams from the kitchen that ‘I cut myself – I can see the BONE!!’ and when the hero of the story runs to the kitchen hurdling over the lump of 80lb dog in the hall to find that there was no actual bone exposed.

          Although in the wife’s defense a white flap of skin looks a lot like bone. Reasonable mistake.

          He went to the store with his bruised toe and brought me home the wrong lip gloss and I’m not even complaining. See, I’m very nurturing.

          (And no, I didn’t send him out for lipgloss – he wanted chips for the guac and forgot them yesterday – that was just a ‘so as long as you’re going here’s a list of all the other weird stuff I need.’)

          1. the gold digger*

            Or there is the wife who does cut off the top of her finger and calmly asks her husband for a band-aid and he wastes time complaining about how things are so disorganized under the sink in the bathroom and he CAN’T FIND THE BANDAIDS and WHICH SIZE. Meanwhile, the wife passes out.

            The main story: http://class-factotum.blogspot.com/2013/03/marriage-501-lecture43-732-i-married_6.html

            The preamble: http://class-factotum.blogspot.com/2013/03/marriage-501-lecture43-732-i-married.html

            PS How could he get the wrong lip gloss? It is not hard to buy lip gloss.

            1. Jamie*

              Omg – you are so brave – the hell?? And so they don’t sew it back on what happens to it? Does it heal over? I see it on food shows all the time but I’ve never known anyone bad ass enough to lose their fingertip cooking.

              And mine would have asked about the blood on the fennel too. I love the way you write.

              Lipgloss: I know. I even give him the color number and text a pic of the package – but he gets a pass due to his massive injury.

              I mock but it does look painful – but he needs to stop making me look at his foot because it’s just gross.

              1. the gold digger*

                Jamie, it has healed over. Took a long time. Even now, almost 18 months later, it is very sensitive. Technically, it is not my fingertip – it is the north to east corner of my finger, looking at it from the nail side. A tiny bit of nail got cut off, too. I would never pass a hand lineup, so I guess a life of crime is out.

                1. Fifi*

                  Ok, I just have to reply to this (yay! first comment!) because the exact. Same. Thing. happened to me. I was simultaneously laughing and cringing in sympathy when reading your blog post.
                  Only I managed to do it without melatonin or jetlag but with the sheer power of my clumsiness (speaking of fingertips, I once stapled them together). The scar gets less sensitive with time tough. Three years later, I don’t notice any difference in sensitivity anmore.

                2. The gold digger*

                  Fifi, so I have only another 18 months before I can knock the healed-over section into something and not go, “Ouch!” in complete surprise because I always FORGET that I have almost raw flesh on my finger?

                  I can last that long.

      2. TooShyForAName*

        Thanks! These made me laugh and also, even though I am a bit anxious (and excited!), I am so glad not to be 20 anymore.

        1. The gold digger*

          Have fun! We got a little off track, but Jamie’s advice is spot on: worry about if your date is a good fit for you. Don’t worry about impressing your date – we are too mature to spend all that energy! Just be you and either your date will like you or not and if not, you move on.

          I speak as if I actually practiced this stuff. I didn’t get married until I was 44 and then it was to a used husband. Before my husband, I committed just about every dating sin one could commit (including telling one guy, “I will change to be what you want me to be”).

          For what it’s worth, I have also sent chocolate to hiring managers.

          Now I am a better person both in dating (which I don’t do so much now that I am married) and in job hunting. :)

      3. Vancouver Reader*

        Dammit, where were you with all your great questions when I was looking for a suitable partner?

  20. Schmitt*

    I am having a breast reduction in July.

    Question part 1: Any tips / feedback from people who’ve been there? How long am I going to need after surgery before I feel up to mild exercise like walking or biking?

    Question part 2: I’m in Germany, so time off sick is federally mandated and I’ll probably be out for 3-4 weeks. I am going to go *out of my mind* with boredom. What are your favorite blogs? Favorite PC games? Other time-wasters?

      1. Schmitt*

        Thank you! That was a helpful link.

        My comment was stuck in moderation for many hours for using the B-word so I think I may re-post this next week so it doesn’t get stuck mid-list!

          1. CanadianWriter*

            Captain Awkward is the only reason that I can occasionally speak to humans.

            1. Felicia*

              I just went to the Toronto Captain Awkward meet up on Saturday , and I had so much fun! Other people who have trouble speaking with humans actually make good company when we’re all together

    1. name*

      The thing they usually tell you not to do is anything where you have to reach your arms over and up. You might be tired, but you should be able to walk fairly soon (even if perhaps not as long as you are able to). Biking and running are more jarring and will probably take longer to get back into. I was also told to put everything I would need table level so I would not have to reach into cupboards etc. Also, you might have drains for a few days/a week so you don’t want those things swinging either by doing some vigorous exercise.

    2. KarenT*

      I was able to walk almost immediately after (they actually recommend walking after surgery as part of the recovery). I think I could have exercised sooner than I did. I was just so tired all the time afterwards.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Disclaimer: This is not first hand knowledge.

      My aunt had a double mastectomy. Let’s say it was radical and leave it at that.

      She didn’t even go out of her house for the first few weeks.
      Raising her arms up was tough. So every day she did wall-walking.
      She sat/stood next to a wall and made her fingers “walk up” the wall.
      I think it helped her a lot. She did not beat herself up doing this. She just did it for a few minutes every day. It was more important to her to try than it was to actually do well with the exercise.

      The first couple of times she drove was challenging- especially since she decided to go get groceries. She had to think about how much she could carry into her home, how heavy each bag was, etc. Her solution there was to go to the store more often- every couple days.

      Put things you need down to waist level (or up to waist level). Get the laundry caught up, bring in the heavy non-perishable groceries. Make arrangements about your mail if need be. Draft some volunteers to check in on you- if you live alone. Look at your phones- can you reach a phone with little to no effort?

      Stock up on quiet activities- books etc. But plan on sleeping.

      I think my aunt felt that button down shirts were easier to deal with.

      It did not seem like it took her a long time to get into the swing of life again. But I am sure it felt long to her. As stuff started coming back to her, she never regressed. So once she got behind the wheel, she just kept going out for short periods of time. Same with groceries, going the first time required a lot of planning but the subsequent trips were much easier.

      I know this sounds pretty dire, probably you will have a different experience. But you can have things set-up and if you don’t need them, bonus for you.

      1. Schmitt*

        Thank you for the long comment. My mom had a one-side masectomy and was riding a week and a half later, so here’s hoping for the good healing genes (though riding is out for me for several months due to the up-and-down).

        It’s been hard finding shirts that open in the front but I finally found & ordered some from Amazon yesterday so here’s hoping.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that was really interesting! On the other hand, the comments are…”interesting.”

  21. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Orphan Black.

    I just marathoned it, right up to date except last night’s ep.

    What fun! Tatiana Maslany has the roles of a lifetime, doesn’t she. I’d like to pick a nit but I can’t think of anything I don’t like about the show. I appreciate the humor mixed in with the Intrigue! and Drama!

    Complete blast seeing Matt Frewer. I think he’s s-s-s-s-s-s-s-swell. (I assume that joke is l-l-l-l-l-l-lost on generations after mine?)

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Meant to say SPOILER FREE please. The part where it is a series about multiple identical women isn’t a spoiler. I don’t think that the reason they are identical is a spoiler either, but I left that out of my post on the side of caution.

    2. EAA*

      Been watching since it first aired. Didn’t catch last night’s except for the last couple of minutes. Will be very interesting to see whole thing. You will be surprised.
      Yes, I always enjoy Max. Liked him on Eureka.
      Tatiana Maslany and writers do a great job. There never is any question that they are all very different people.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ha!

        Just watched the ep. Great fun.

        They always bring the surprise but compare and contrast with GoT where the surprise is always a thud. Nothattheresanythingwrongwiththat, but surprise as a smile in a thriller is fun.

    3. CollegeAdmin*

      I love that show! One of the things that I really appreciate is that characters aren’t forgotten – you think the storyline of someone from season 1 is done and then poof! they come out of the woodwork. It’s really a well-executed series.

      I do feel like I have to be in a particular mindset to watch it, though. I need to devote all my attention to the episode, so I can’t use it as a distraction or while procrastinating.

  22. Anonymous*

    I got a collection bill for nearly $10,000 in the mail on Friday from our local hospital. My husband was admitted to the hospital last October with a full leg length blood clot. His Doctor said it was life threatening. He was admitted, insurance verified, etc.

    Well, 2 days into the hospital stay, Anthem said his hospital visit wasn’t medically necessary, and they won’t pay. They demanded he have a CT scan while there to see if the clot extended into his abdominal cavity, it didn’t, so they won’t pay. He was discharged immediately and sent home with more blood thinners, compression stockings, and told what symptoms to keep an eye out for. He is OK now, thankfully.

    I carry the health insurance through my work. I pay $5,000 in premiums, and the company picks up the other $10,000 in premiums. Hospital stays are supposed to be covered.

    Fast forward to today. I now have a bill sitting here on my computer desk that equals 20 weeks take home pay. I have been sick about this since Friday night. They helpfully give the credit card option. There is no way I will put this on credit cards! That’s the most stupid thing I could do.

    This is the same company who denied care to Jeffrey Rusch in California. If you want an eye opener, google that name and read what happened.

    We don’t make a lot of money, live in a small house, drive 10 year old cars, and get by week to week. I sacrifice a good chunk of my biweekly paychecks just to have health insurance. What are people supposed to do? If your doctor tells you “this is life threatening, I’m admitting you to the hospital this minute”, do you say “Nope, no can do – gotta go home and hope I can get the insurance company on the phone within the next few days to see if their beancounters say it’s OK”? What good is insurance, if you pay the premiums, and then the company decides not to pay and saddles you with a huge bill?

    This is so frustrating. Thanks for listening.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Oh god this is awful.

      Okay, first of all, I can promise you straight out, you aren’t going to pay a $10,000 hospital bill. Flat out isn’t going to happen. The worst case scenario, which also isn’t going to happen, is that the hospital would make a “what can you pay” arrangement with you where you would pay off a fraction of that bill (think 1/5) in installments.

      Talk to HR at work, start there. It’s a plan through work and they should help you navigate getting insurance to pay the claim.

      1. Anonymous*

        Yes, this is awful – especially since I’ve already gone the HR route, they tried to work with our liaison between Empire Blue Cross (which now I find out is owned by Anthem) and the company, my husband’s doctor wrote letters, and the person in the billing department at the hospital promised me she wouldn’t send this to collections (this was 2 months ago) and that she would call me.

        I keep telling people – as a regular, non medically trained person, how can you avoid this? No one has an answer.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Have you filed a formal appeal/grievance with Empire? Have you contacted the state?

          A lot has changed in the 30 years since I worked insurance (I was in medical claims for five years an eon ago), but anything that came from the state insurance commissioner was fast tracked to resolution with a bent to make the state letter go away.

          If you google your state and insurance commissioner, you’ll find a link to contact them with a formal complaint.

          Nightmare! Sorry.

          re collections, send the collections people in writing that this bill is still in dispute and call the hospital billing dept and ask them to please pull this back from collections.

    2. posted*

      Always argue this kind of thing. Use a formal appeals process if necessary, contact your state’s attorney general, keep calling back, whatever. I’ve been startlingly successful with this. If it fails you, talk to the hospital directly to see if you can cut a deal.

      And check come tax time to see if it’s worth taking whatever you pay as a deduction.

      I’m glad after all that your husband’s okay.

      1. Anonymous*

        I read somewhere that the bill I have is for full price, i.e. what they expect the insurance company to pay, not the actual cost.

        The entire bill was around $13,500, the insurance company paid $3,555 (I have to look at the details, but probably the cost of the scan they demanded), and the final bill is just shy of $10K.

        Or, I could write to Anthem’s CEO. His compensation package is just shy of $17 million per year. This is coffee money to him.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          If you absolutely have to, you can negotiate that down to $2000 or so but don’t don’t work with the collection agency. Work with the hospital billing dept.

        2. Artemesia*

          as you have discovered US medical care is designed to provide multi million dollar paydays to middlemen not provide care. virtually every other western country would have treated this without billing you at all because they have health care systems and the actual cost would be far lower as well.

          it is no surprise that most bankruptcies come from medical bills and two third of those people had insurance.

          this is outrageous. when a doctor says it is life threatening, insurance companies should not be trying to steal your money after the fact.

          push push push and so sorry you have to.

    3. MK*

      If you feel like you need help from an expert who is experienced in navigating health insurance issues, you should contact a patient advocate near you. My friend is the executive director of a nonprofit that deal with health insurers on behalf of patients for free or at a low cost (Health Care Rights Initiative- http://www.hcri.org). But her organization is located in NY, so it may be worthwhile to call her office for contacts.

    4. EAA*

      I’m practically speechless. My husband was hospitalized twice for clots that went to his lungs. If we could have caught the clots before they broke free from the leg would have been great. Having insurance carriers think they know better then doctors is frustrating.
      Follow Wakeen’s advice.

    5. Jubilance*

      Appeal appeal appeal with your insurance company. It’s an open secret that most insurance companies deny lots of things that should be covered, because they know most people won’t actually appeal it. Take it as far as you can. If you still can’t get it paid, call the hospital and negotiate. I had an unexpected medical bill recently, and after one call to the accounting dept, I had a payment plan and had negotiated the total down a bit.

      Best of luck!

      1. Sabrina*

        I agree, try to appeal. See if your company has advocates, either through an EAP or maybe if you have an insurance administrator. They might be able to help work with the insurance company.

      2. fposte*

        Yes, I think that the insurance company coverage is closer to sticker price on a new car than they like to admit.

        1. Loquaciousaych*

          The hospital ombudsman is very likely someone you should talk to, as well.

      3. Serin*

        As you’re working on the insurance company, call the hospital’s billing department each time you get a bill, and explain to them what’s going on.

        I never had an issue this huge, but it took almost two years to resolve a coordination-of-benefits problem with my pregnancy. The people at the healthcare professional’s billing office were extremely sympathetic, and even gave me a few tips.

    6. AcademicAnon*

      If you employer has an EAP or something similar you could try that too. My employer actually has a contract with another company to basically be a medical negotiator for items like that. If you husband went to the hospital in am ambulance, it might be covered, so check in to that too. Like people up thread said, appeal to the insurance company and work with the hospital admissions about the bill.

    7. Sascha*

      I am so sorry this has happened to you. I wish you luck in working with the hospital or whoever to get it down.

      This is one of my nightmares. Both my husband and I have health insurance, and pretty good insurance at that, but I’m still scared. I’m so scared of this I’ve delayed some health matters simply because I think we’ll get screwed over by this. Especially after a coworker of mine just told me about her $4k bill for getting a urinalysis done that was ordered by her doctor – the insurance company considered it “experimental.” It was to make sure her meds are metabolizing correctly. How is that experimental??? And we’re on the same insurance plan, so now I”m even more scared than I was.

  23. Sophia*

    37 weeks pregnant today and am exhausted. Have so much work to do (writing to get done for my dissertation, in addition to continue prepping for her [eg wash all her clothes etc]) but am so exhausted all the time! Although this am I couldn’t go back to sleep I normally sleep in, eat breakfast, take another nap before trying to work (often unsuccessfully) before either the gym or just watching tv…:(

    1. Aussie Teacher*

      Remember that 37 weeks = a fully cooked baby – that bun could come out of the oven at any time now! A wise friend once told me that at the end of her pregnancy, she would stop and assess herself a couple of times during the day and ask herself, “Do I feel ready to go through labour right now?” (Rested and well fed etc) And if the answer was no, she would go and have another nap!

      I know there is always SO much to do in the lead up to a baby being born (and mine were all induced early, so I had to really race!) but you need rest too :)

      1. Sophia*

        Thanks! It’s what my husband tries to tell me but sometimes I feel like he makes excuses for me :)

        1. Graciosa*

          You do not need any excuses when you are pregnant! Especially at 37 weeks – your body is working very hard supporting an entire additional LIFE.

          Give yourself a break.

          If you can’t do that, give the baby one. She is still very dependant upon your well-being. You owe it to her to give her a good home.

  24. Katie the Fed*

    OK, I could use some advice on something that’s been bugging me for a while.

    I have a good friend from work who I love dearly – but she and her husband don’t own a car. It’s not for financial reasons – they’re both fine financially, but neither one of them really likes driving and they don’t want to get a car. This would be fine, except that she always asks other people to drive her (and her child) if we want to do anything that’s not at her house. I have a community pool and have invited her to come use it, but then she asks me if I can pick her up, which adds about a 20-minute roundtrip to either end of our hanging out.

    I don’t feel like she’s using me, because I’m always welcome to come hang out by her if I don’t feel like being the driver, but it’s annoying. I don’t want to have to be a taxi service if I want to hang out.

    Any thoughts on how to address this?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Unless you live right in a city, choosing not to drive is an outlier lifestyle choice.

      Believe it or not, I don’t drive. Bunch of reasons. I get around via the husband, occasionally friends (but sparingly and always of their invite and insistence), or, new Uber Black! OMG, I can roll up when I use Uber Black! I’m like a movie star!

      So her choice are her choices. If she doesn’t find ways to not inconvenience friends, she’s going to be isolated.

      Is it possible for you to ask if she thinks she get a ride to your house elsewise? That’s probably a hard thing to ask but the other choice is to stop inviting her entirely.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I think that’s the hard part, is that I have to bring it up, and I’m a chickenshit :(

        She won’t be mad, but it’ll be uncomfortable. She occasionally uses ZipCar – she’s ok with driving, her husband won’t for some reason.

        I think it’s partly that it’s been going on for 4 years – I would have thought she’d address it by now. Oy.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Lookit, not driving is a serious $$$ savings. We have one car and one driver and one insurance payment for a household of four. (My adult sons also don’t drive by choice, having apparently inherited their mother’s stellar spatial abilities). If people who don’t drive are financially stable, they can afford to not depend on friends for rides. It’s not like back when we were all 20.

          I say that to help you manage any guilt about how you feel, not to actually solve your problem. :p

          I kinda think you’re going to have to have the conversation if she isn’t going to realize this on her own.

        2. Ruffingit*

          Treat this the way you would treat an employee who has an issue and address it the same way. The employee is causing you a problem by asking you to take care of things they should be taking care of themselves. How would you address this as a manager? And yes, I get that friendships are different from work relationships, I’m just saying that you can use the same skills you’d use on an employee.

          If she’s a good friend, I think you need to be upfront. “Susan, I understand that you don’t want to drive, however picking you up isn’t an option for me as often as you would like it to be. What would you like to do about that?” Put the onus on her to come up with a plan. Maybe she says you just don’t hang out as much. OK, that works. Maybe she gets mad. She’ll get over it. Either way, this is something that is bothering you and I think you need to address it.

      2. Ali*

        I don’t drive either. Mostly because (I’ve been told anyway; I don’t exactly believe it) I have a form of Asperger’s, so I struggle with things like coordination, space issues, etc. all of which are essential to driving. I did try to take my driver’s test last year, but failed on my first attempt at parallel parking (required to pass in my state). Sad as this may sound, I’ve since been too embarrassed to go try again. I even let my learner’s permit lapse.

        I agree with Wakeen’s last paragraph. Sometimes with friends I will get a ride one way to meet them and they will bring me home, or vice versa. Also, can you insist on an arrangement for gas money? Even if I can’t pay a driver immediately, I always find a way to pay them back within a few days to a week if that’s what they want.

        I don’t know how much I helped seeing as I’m kind of similar to your friend. My problem is more fear, shame, etc. than it is just not wanting to do. I want to drive so bad, but I feel humiliated that I’m this late in life without driving, and I kind of think…what’s the point now?

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Pish posh to humiliated.

          Some people don’t drive. When you make choices outside of society’s expectations, don’t give an inch to voices external or internal re those expectations. Conforming is way over rated.

          Be creative about transportation choices and be an excellent passenger whenever you have that opportunity. Offer sincere but not over the top thanks, buy a round of drinks, be thoughtful. Thoughtful and gracious passengers are usually of no bother to a driver and a pleasure to have as company.

        2. SandraDee*

          It’s ever too late. My grandmother got hers when she was 60, because she wanted to see her grandkids more frequently.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Yeah, I’m threatening to go back to driving now that there is GPS. I gave it up because I was so hopelessly lost all of the time I started having panic attacks just sitting behind the wheel to start the car.

            I’d need a real reason, though, since my life now is fine. Grandkids to see would do it!

            Just not at night. I’m nightblind also. ;/

        3. EAA*

          I had a friend from high school who was married before she got her license. I visited and took her to a local parking lot to practice.
          Don’t be embarrassed. Parallel parking is the worst. Are you in PA? Parallel is the first part of the test. You don’t pass that, you don’t do the rest of the test. Many of my children’s friends flunked this including my middle child. While I understand why it’s required it’s so easy to avoid having to do. Though if my grandmother went into town and had to parallel she would just come home.

          1. Ali*

            I am in PA! Don’t want to say what part, but that’s exactly how my test was. I had an event to go to the night of my test, and I was so excited, trying to visualize myself passing and driving myself to the event all confident. Yeah, my test went everything BUT that way and I cried a lot when I failed, especially since mostly everyone I know passed first try and told me it was easy and I had nothing to worry about. I can do everything else well, even regular parking, but ugh…parallel killed me.

            I think it’s just embarrassing because I’m the age I am (28 to be 29) and have never had a license, never bought a car, etc. and the majority of my peers have done these things.

            1. EAA*

              All I can suggest is to practice. Is there some place that has a parallel parking area set up? The local high school where I live has a set up. They offer driver’s ed at the school. We used that and also would go to the licensing place on Sundays and practice there. In fact this might be best as you will very familiar with it when you finally take the test again. Have the person you take with you stand outside and let you know if you’re too far off. Then either start over or adjust. Just keep doing this till your comfortable.

              1. Ali*

                The DMV near me actually started chaining off the practice space after hours so it can’t be used. :( Go figure! I wonder if someone screwed around one too many times.

                1. Stephanie*

                  My dad did a parallel parking hack with two paint buckets to help me prep. He had me drive to the local DMV (with him, of course) and we measured the specs of the test box and created a hack at home.

                  I go to take the road test and all the slots were full. At the time, Texas exempted you from the road test if you had so many hours of drivers ed. I did home drivers ed with my dad. He saw the lack of spots and was like “Eff this. I wanted you to pass the actual road test, but I don’t feel like coming back tomorrow. I’ll just sign off on the road exemption form.”

          2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            Yes, this made me laugh. I live in a older part of a city and the curbs aren’t necessarily straight or parallel to the house fronts, the sidewalk, the other side of the street or anything else– I see legal drivers fail parallel parking on a regular basis! I have to do it every day and I can only nail it about 60% of the time. No shame in giving up and parking on the next block for me!

            1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

              Want to be clear -EAA’s comment about her grandmother going back home made me laugh, not your feelings about failing the test. The other thing besides practice that might help is borrowing a smaller car (and practicing) and maybe even taking the test in that car. It’s a lot easier to parallel park in a compact car than a SUV or a car with a long hood and tail.

        4. Jamie*

          Oh, plenty of people don’t drive, there’s nothing embarrassing about it! That makes me sad that you feel bad about this.

          And there isn’t anything wrong with flunking your first driving test due to not being able to parallel park. I’ve heard some of the most awesome people in the world also flunked the first time out…even some who have been driving for decades and still can’t parallel park. Ahem. :)

          1. Ruffingit*

            That would be me. I cannot parallel park and I don’t care about it because it’s never been something I’ve really needed to do in more than 20 years of driving.

            1. Jamie*

              It literally never came up for me until I got my current job in the city. We have parking at work, but people know I’ll only go pick up lunch if it’s not a place with on street parking.

              Some teasing about that in the beginning, but I’m sorry I am a suburban girl – I come from the land of garages, driveways, and parking lots, and have never shoveled out park of a street so I could park and have zero interest in the Chicago game of dibs – which has something to do with parking.

          2. Ali*

            Awww thank you! I just feel bad because I’m in a medium sized city, so I’m not like in the country or anything, but our public transit stops after 6:00 or so. It also limits where I can apply for jobs (in an area where job prospects suck to begin with) and my social life. My friends are always “too busy” to do anything (with the exception of one very sweet one who continues to invite me places anyway), and I just feel like that if I got my license, people would invite me out more, my friends would want to spend time with me, etc. Yet knowing that I could fail again has kind of scared me, and my judgmental extended family asking me when it’s going to happen is not helping, go figure.

            1. Jamie*

              One of my sons has on the autism spectrum and is very high functioning and he has some extended family who are like that, too. He’s had his permit, if he wants to take the test he will – if he’s not comfortable or ready that’s the last thing anyone should push.

              Do what’s best for you and try to ignore the less than helpful help – although way easier said than done – I know.

            2. ThursdaysGeek*

              Lots and lots of people fail the drivers test the first time, and many the second time. Yeah, you could fail again, but you could succeed.

              I was in my 20s when I got my license, once I had someone with patience (and an automatic transmission car) to practice with me. My mum was older and the driver’s examiner had failed her so many times he said she should never drive. So she went to a different town and took the test there. She’s a great driver.

              Forget what others are saying and find someone who is willing to practice with you as much as you want, encourage you until you feel ready to take the test again. If parallel parking is your nemesis, you’re just like a whole bunch of us who do drive. I’d take you driving — do you live in eastern WA?

        5. Prickly Pear*

          I did not get my driver’s license until I was 27. There were lots of reasons behind my hesitation, but basically in the end, I was forced to learn, because my main driver was my sister and she was pregnant/too big to be behind the wheel comfortably. I managed to beat my mom’s record, who didn’t drive until my sister and I were school-aged (I remember riding with her during her driving lessons!). So no worries about timing- trust me, once you’re ready, you’ll rock the test.
          As for parallel parking, the BMV employee that administered my test basically gave me a technique that my weird brain could understand- it was all based on the car in front of you and what do to do when. Simple, and until I got comfortable enough to trust my steering, it was what worked. My friends still comment of how well I parallel park.

        6. en pointe*

          I failed my test on the first try too. Got it on the second but I still can’t drive until I save enough money to buy a car (almost there!) I don’t think you should be embarrassed or ask what the point is now – loads of people don’t start driving straight away, and you’re not that far into life really. I know you said you have some challenges with it, but you also said you can do everything well except parallel park, and there are some pretty shitty parallel parkers on the roads that I’ve seen. Just because you didn’t drive for the last ten years doesn’t mean you can’t drive for the next ten. If driving is something you want to pursue, then go for it!

        7. kas*

          Parallel parking is the worst! The only reason I passed my test was because I paid a driving instructor go through the test route with me and he made me parallel park over and over again until I got the hang of it. However, my two driving tests (G2 and G in Canada) are the only times I’ve parallel parked. I refuse to and will go out of my way to find a spot I can just drive up to without fixing myself between cars. If I’m pulling up behind a car, I leave enough space so that I can easily pull out since other drivers don’t care how close they park to you.

          If possible, try getting a driving instructor to help you out.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            This is what I ended up doing. And I passed.

            If you can find someone to hire to teach you- these people are amazing. As someone said above- you line up beside the car that will be in front of you. You start to back up. At a certain point,I forget when, you start to turn the wheel.
            Modern times have power mirrors. I use my power mirrors. I tip the passenger side mirror down, down, down until I can see the curb in the mirror.
            In the future cars will change and parallel parking will be a breeze, I think. Just get through the test and it will get better.
            The parallel parking thing made me nuts, though. It has been 35 years. I think I have parallel parked ten times in 35 years.

        8. Not So NewReader*

          I have two good friends who were in their late 20s before they go their licenses.
          A dear family member did not get hers until she was 69. Talk about nervous. I don’t think she ever did calm down. But she had to get her license because her husband had been severely and permanently injured in an accident. ugh. That must have been awful for her.

          If you want to drive, pay a professional to help you. And don’t just focus on parallel parking. Get all the advice you can get.

        9. Colette*

          When I was in high school, one of my classmates hit two cars the first time she took the test.

          She hit one the second time.

          Failing to parallel park is nothing to be embarrassed about.

    2. Hope*

      Have you tried just saying no? No, sorry, I can’t do that but would love to see you here if you can make it. Or telling her how you feel? If she’s a good friend, you should be able to be honest, right?

      What DO you say when she asks? Do you give her the impression it’s fine to ask? Do you always agree to do it?

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, I always agree, so I’ve probably given the impression that it’s fine.

        I don’t really have a valid complaint against it, to be honest. Gas money doesn’t bother me – I’m not hurting financially. If anything it’s the extra layer of time and planning, but that seems petty.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Tsk, tsk to “valid”. You know better than that. You don’t have to justify how you feel about it on a scale of validity. She’s perfectly abled, financial stable, and you just don’t feel like driving her around every time you want to be together.

          I solemnly declare your feelings valid.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Ha, ok. I think that’s where I’m struggling, like I don’t have a good enough reason to be annoyed. I just am. I don’t feel like cleaning out the junk in my back seat so we can put in the child seat and cart her and the kid around. I like them, but I feel like the onus is on me to make this happen.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Can you just say, “Do you think you could get a Zipcar this time? I’d love to see you but it would make it easier on my end.”

              1. JC*

                Yes, please try what Alison suggested! I am that friend who doesn’t own a car, but not for financial reasons. As I assume your friend does (because I see you live in NoVA), I live in DC and can take public transit to nearly anywhere I want to go, other than other people’s homes in the suburbs. If you suggested I found another way of getting to you other than you driving me, I would get the hint and wouldn’t be angry with you at all—if anything, I’d be embarrassed that I had been taking advantage of your kindness without thinking about it.

                That said, though, I haven’t driven in such a long time that I have become terrified of driving. If there was a social situation where my options were to rent a Zipcar or to not go, depending on the situation, I might pick not going. Not for financial reasons, but for driving terror reasons. I think understanding a non-driver’s fear of driving is really difficult for regular drivers to wrap their heads around, and it’s just something to keep in mind as a possible cause if your friend decides to bail altogether on driving out to where you are sometimes.

                1. JC*

                  But PS: reading this reminded me that my husband and I really need to drive out to Reston (VA burbs) to see an old friend who lives there. My husband will drive the zipcar :).

            2. TL*

              It’s just annoying. It’s really annoying. I dislike having friends who don’t drive because I’ve found the majority of them quickly assume my driving/car is available at their convenience if we’re doing something together (nope), or doing something with them that’s not hanging out at their place (where I’m doing all of the transportation work) depends on…me doing all of the transportation work. It gets old fast.

              I have had friends who don’t drive who are really great about it and who I really appreciate but the ones who aren’t like that get irksome real fast. The “bad” ones start weighing the hour they’d have to spend on public transit vs the 20 minutes it would take me to drive and think I should drive because it’s easier for them – and I’m like, um? My car, my driver’s license, my insurance – this is all for my convenience, not yours. All the money you save is generally at the cost of time and travel convenience and that’s a choice you make.

          2. Ruffingit*

            OH AMEN!! “I just don’t want to” is in and of itself perfectly valid. I am seconding the solemn declaration of the validity of your feelings. Your certificate will be in the mail and should arrive within 6-8 weeks.

        2. Jamie*

          I totally get what Katie is saying. Yes, technically and ideally she doesn’t need a reason to say no, valid or otherwise, but it’s a socially awkward thing to tell someone you’re annoyed they are inconveniencing you.

          Because I’d be just like Katie in this, I’d be annoyed but I’d be unable to say to someone’s face that I kinda resent having to do it.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            A few times, I have had people tell me, “That is a lot of extra work on me, and I am just not up to it [right now, today, this week,whatever].
            I said thank you for telling me the reason. Testing this reason, I have said it to other people. (Only when it was true, of course!) And they were FINE with it.
            People are awesome, if we give them a chance.

            It is true with anything, not just giving rides, you can’t lean on people too much. You’ll burn them out. You can rotate around, figure out your own solution, or decline to go.
            With me, my recurring problem is putting my car in the shop. I found a place that has cheap rentals if you are having work done there. Perfect. I no longer have to bum rides and I am no longer stuck at home when the car is in for repair.

        3. Gilby*

          What do you feel is a valid excuse? If you didn’t have the gas money would you’d be using that one? Because it sounds like you want one.

          I assume she never offers gas money or even lunch out on her? And what do you get ??

          OK I am not saying you should GET something as such. That is not my point. But you are doing all the work and she is getting a….. free ride. And I mean that in all ways it sounds.

          She does nothing get in the car. It is NOT petty to be irritated at having to do all the work. Repeat… It is NOT petty to have to do all the work.

          YOUR time is valuable . You are NOT working to make money to haul someone else around. Just because you can afford it doesn’t make the issue any less valid.

          Start slowly saying no. Here and there at least say.. can’t come get ya…. how do you want to work this? Let her figure it out. If they have no car payments, gas expenses, insurance to pay for she can afford a yellow cab.

          She needs to absorb the expense and time for her decisions not you.

    3. Artemesia*

      I would just start saying ‘oh that won’t be possible; can you bike over or get another ride’; say it often and don’t explain. People who save thousands a year by mooching on everyone else don’t deserve much consideration. It isn’t as if she were disabled and her friends her only lifeline.

      You don’t have to have ‘the conversation’ if you just start being unavailable to be her taxi service. And start with occasions she wants to come over to your place. It is one thing to hitch a ride when you are both going someplace; it is outrageous for her to expect you to come fetch her to take her to your home.

      She needs to learn to bike, or take a taxi. Taking a taxi is a LOT cheaper than owning, insuring, repairing, gassing up a car.

      And when you haul her somewhere else, pull into a gas station and ask if she wouldn’t mind gassing you up. If she does mind, stop offering those rides as well.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I live in a small city, about 2 hours north of any good cities and I don’t drive (I’m 28). My parents didn’t learn/pass their tests until about the age I am now. My brother took his test twice and failed both times. While it would be great to see the countryside etc without having to rely on public transport, I don’t see me learning to drive any time soon. Plus I couldn’t afford the car anyway.

      2. Colette*

        I agree that saying no is fine – you don’t have to justify why- but you may still have to have a big picture conversation if she doesn’t get the hint.

        I had a similar situation with a former friend. I got tired of spending my time and money to save her time or money, so I started saying no, and she kept asking.

        Eventually, I had to directly say I wasn’t going to give her rides. (She was very insulted and ended our friendship to prioritize her more supportive friends. It worked out for the best, IMO.)

    4. kas*

      I have the exact same problem and was going to post the same thing! My friend is a single mother and doesn’t have her license so it’s always up to the rest of the group to pick her up. The others, however, have either made it clear they won’t or she just doesn’t ask them. I’m always the one stuck picking her and her daughter up and I no longer live near her so I have to go out of my way. It’s really annoying but I know she can’t afford any other options and I end up feeling bad. If I don’t’ pick her up, chances are she can’t go.

      The problem is though, she’s always making plans! Some of these plans are close by, others are weekend getaways and after she finds out who’s going, she then works out who will be driving without asking anyone first. Last year she planned a day trip a few hours away and I found out I was the driver as everyone else said no. I didn’t bother going because I refused to drive. If you don’t drive, that’s fine but don’t make plans all the time if you have no way of getting there. Every now and then is fine but she’s constantly messaging me about her latest “girls day/night out” idea.

    5. Chris A*

      Is there an actual taxi service that you can recommend to her? Even though I do have a car, I sometimes use the local taxi service when it is more convenient. Yes, it does cost money, but in many cases it is well worth it!

  25. I'mmmm moving out (eventually)*

    I’m 33 and still live with my parents. Granted, much of this is financially related (I make $10 an hour). The local newspaper did a bit of an expose stating that apartments are very expensive in our city and in order to afford them people need to make at least $16 an hour (and the average pay in the area is something like $12). I have looked, but if I’m only supposed to spend 30% of my take home pay I have about $350 to spend a month. But I fear that even if I get a better paying job I won’t want to move out. I don’t have many friends (for reasons I don’t understand–just seems that people like me enough at work, but never enough to do something with me outside of it–and yes, I’ve tried asking them. (“Oh, I have blah blah that weekend” comes up a lot). So I fear once I move out I’ll be sitting alone at home all the time. Not sure what I’m looking for–advice? Motivation? Been there stories? I’ll take what you got! (Meanwhile, I am looking at jobs in a close by city that’s not close enough to commute from so I’d have no option but to leave (and the jobs are better paying too.) And I think once I actually move out I’d be fine, but getting there is the hard part. My parents are older than most my age (71 & 73) and part of me feels guilty about leaving…so many feelings! Gah!)

    1. Ali*

      You sound pretty much like me. I’m going to be 29 next week and have yet to move out. It kind of sucks because I used to be friends with a girl who graduated college a year ago and went into a physical therapy program, so she already has a nice apartment with a balcony and everything because she’s making good money. I also went to see coworkers this past week and all of them live on their own in NYC or the nearby area. One of them is even getting a new apartment in Manhattan (albeit with a roommate). I feel so inferior to them even when they admit it’s not easy and are looking into moving because of their high rents.

      I’m going to be opening a bank account soon to put away money for moving expenses. My mom advised me to do this and said it’s money you shouldn’t touch…it should be separate from the account you use to pay whatever bills you have. Can you try something like that? Obviously whatever savings you need won’t come overnight, but it’ll help you know that you have a plan to get out.

      I don’t have many friends either and have the same situation as you: I have friends who are great to me. We even exchange Christmas/birthday presents, so I assume they must not dislike me since why would you get a present for someone you really don’t like? Anyway, things are always great in their company/FB chats/etc., then when I try to initiate plans, it’s always oh I’m busy for the next two months or something. Then I see them doing things with other people. I don’t want to tell them who to hang out with, of course, but it is disappointing!

      Also, two years ago, a girl from college who I considered one of my best friends basically ditched me when she became friends with another girl I introduced her. They were very fast to join at the hip and now consider each other family and do tons of things together. I guess three was a crowd, because I got left behind with no explanation. Funny that before I introduced Former Friends, I was the one who was considered part of the other girl’s family. It made me mad.

      1. Ruffingit*

        It sucks what your friend did to you, but consider this – if you were considered part of her family and she dumped you for the girl who is now “family,” then this is a pattern of sorts for her and it’s likely new girl will be dumped too. I had a similar issue many years ago when I became friends with someone who had this sort of pattern. We were joined at the hip for two years and then she dumped me off for a mutual friend of ours who she was then joined at the hip with. It was just what she did and clearly, I was better off not having that sort of fickle friendship.

        I get being mad, but just look at this in the overall context of the situation. Your friend appears to be a person who doesn’t actually know how to maintain relationships. She goes from hey we just met to we’re family pretty quickly apparently. It’s like people who ask someone to marry them on the first date. Not a good thing.

        Try to meet some other people using meetup.com

        That site allows you to meet people with the same interests so you can more easily form friendships since it’s not something you have to plan to do. Go to one of the meetups and everyone there is already engaged in the same thing – skiing, bowling, reading, whatever. Makes it easier to make friends.

        1. Prickly Pear*

          +1
          I had a friend once that was so simpatico with me. There was another girl that she was friends with that basically told her “You like your friends to give 100 percent to you, but in return, you only manage like 60 at the most.” I thought that was super harsh, but I was sitting in privilege and didn’t think about the friends I’d seen her drop over the years. That is, until it was my turn to join the discards. Some people just don’t know how to not run hot and cold.

        2. Ali*

          Thanks. They’ve been friends for about two years now and they’re still really joined tightly. Not sure if they will be BFFs forever or anything, but yeah she hopped over to this other girl and got close with her in zero time at all.

          I keep trying Meetup but haven’t lucked out with a group yet. One day!

      2. I'mmmm moving out (eventually)*

        I had something very similar happen to me! But in high school. In middle school I became friends with 3 people individually over a couple year period until we were all hanging out together for years. I got dropped slowly in high school. I think I found out “they weren’t that into me” when other people were talking about a party they were all at that I wasn’t told about. They always still talked to me–but I was finding out they had all these secret get togethers they were going to great pains to make sure I didn’t find out about. They still get together to this day (thanks Facebook!) and it really shouldn’t bother me but it does. (Not that I think about it all the time, but just when the photos pop up I feel a little sad, namely because I have no idea what happened. The most I ever got to an answer was one of my former friends saying she “could be a total asshole in high school.” Well, OK. That’s one down, but the other 2?)

      3. Not So NewReader*

        My mind gets weary, thinking of all the people who have come and gone from my life. I had to find a way to frame it so that I could just let it go and be a happy person.

        This is old, probably trite, but it has helped me: There are three types of friends. Friends for a reason, friends for a season and friends for a lifetime.

        Reason: Chemistry class is so brutal that if I don’t have someone to share the day-to-day with, I will not get through the class. Then I stumble on someone who feels the same way.

        Season: This covers school friends, work friends, church friends, and so on. People that you just see related to some other aspect of your life. When you move on, so do they. The difference between reason and season is the season friends tend to be more involved in your life.

        Lifetime friends: They are rare. If it happens lucky you. But it will take your whole life to figure out they are lifetime friends. So you can never be sure on this one.

    2. Artemesia*

      I am an oldie with not spectacular social skills and have managed within a year of moving to a new city where I knew no one except my daughter (whose life I don’t want to smother) to have assembled a fun social circle. In this next two week period, I will be having a grill out for 3 couples, will be going to two museums for day out and lunch with two different friends, will be going to dinner to celebrate another friend’s birthday and we had dinner at another friends last weekend and a lunch with one of the women during the week.

      I accomplished this by being intentional. I joined meet ups that did things like neighborhood walks and also some book groups. And then when we joined the walks, my husband and I would try to spot couples who looked promising and strike up a conversation. If we enjoyed their company I would get contact information and follow up with an invitation to meet up for dinner somewhere. When I would meet a new person at someone else’s dinner or party, I would get contact information and follow up. When I saw someone at a book group who seemed like a potential friend, I would follow up.

      Most people chat and are enjoyable but don’t take that step of getting contact information and following up. In doing this I have now assembled a group of 6 couples that we frequently socialize with and a broader group of acquaintances. We had a cocktail party recently with 35 guests, most of them met since we moved here.

      The key point is to know what you want and be the person who follows up. I have had one or two who didn’t show interest, but most of the time it has worked and I think a couple of these people are becoming genuine friends.

      So even an introvert like me can if intentional make new friends. As a young vibrant person, I am sure you will be able to do so as well.

    3. Prickly Pear*

      This is me. I could move out if I wanted to go for one of the low-income apartment complexes we have, but I’m single with no kids, so I’d have a smaller space than what I have now, with much less money (it’d be one of those ‘rent or bills?’ situations monthly) and the insecurity of said complexes- in my city, they’re invariably hotbeds of crime. Plus, both of my parents are retired on disability and they can’t drive anymore, so they depend on my sister and I for trips around. I’m at the point where I’d welcome the privacy and quiet, but unless I find a magical job that pays twice what I make now, that’s not probably going to happen.

    4. SherryD*

      Consider renting a room instead of renting an apartment of your own. It’s cheaper to have roommates, and potentially more social (but don’t expect your roomie to be your BFF! some people are happy to have a roommate they hardly see). Call some people advertising for a roommate on Kijiji, check them out, and see if it will be compatible.

      Start saving $350 per month right now, even while you’re living with your parents. When you move out you won’t have it, so get used to living without it.

      Whatever you do, do NOT take it personally that your coworkers don’t want to hang out on the weekend. I made that mistake at my first professional job, and it made me miserable. I was sure my coworkers hated me! In fact, they just didn’t want to hang out on weekends, and I created issues by becoming overly moody. The lesson to me was, work is just work, and if you become buddies, great, but if not, you can still be an awesome, cheerful colleague, and find social fulfillment outside of office hours.

      To have an interesting life, you have to try interesting things. Not everything will come up aces all the time. Some things will suck. Even when you’re in a bad place (unemployed, underemployed, no friends, health issues), always be doing something that puts you closer to your goal, whether that’s saving money, taking classes, volunteering, networking, doing something good for yourself health-wise or something else. There are lots of opportunities that will come along, and you want to be ready.

      More than anything, ask yourself, “What advice would I give to a friend having this same problem?” You might find that advice is kinder and more helpful.

  26. TheOriginalVagabond*

    Does it bother anyone else when you’re with another person (just the two of you) and that other person gets a phone call and just starts talking for a long timr while you awkwardly sit there not knowing what to do, where to look, etc? The other day, I was at lunch with a coworker and he answered his cell phone and had a menial (non urgent) conversation for like 20 minutes. I eventually got up and left. Was I right to do that? I found his behavior extremely rude!

    1. Tomato Frog*

      That’s pretty much objectively rude, unless you guys often sit together at lunch but do your own things. I would give a smile and a wave when I got up to go, so it didn’t look like I was storming off, but you were definitely within your social rights reacting as you did.

      1. Ali*

        Yeah my mom does this. She’s had phone calls with my siblings (non-urgent) when we’re out at dinner together and it’s so awkward for me to just sit there and stare around! Along the same vein, sometimes I’ll be trying to talk to her at home and she’s so focused on writing a Facebook post or looking at her news feed that she won’t even respond.

        Then she complains I spend too much time on my phone and on Facebook…go figure!

        1. Prickly Pear*

          This is my sister. She complains that I don’t want to hang out. Well, if your idea of hanging out is watching you talk on the phone, preferably while driving (and she’s *not* a multitasker, as the passenger side mirror can attest) or frantically texting, then no, I don’t want to hang out. The last family brunch we went to, I instituted a phone stack just to get the cursed thing out of her hand.

    2. Mimmy*

      I had that happen to me once while interning at a rehab facility–I was meeting with a patient, and he got a phone call and didn’t even acknowledge that he had someone with him. I had no idea what to do so I just sat there like a dodo.

      1. Mallory*

        I did the “sitting there like a dodo” thing in a similar situation a long time ago and I still wish I had just gotten up and left. I’d highly recommend getting up and leaving to anyone else in that situation, and I’ll do it myself if I ever again have the unfortunate opportunity.

        I went with my then-boyfriend to one of his work-friend’s house, and at some point the guys left to go to the liquor store, leaving me to visit with the friend’s wife. She took a call from one of her friends, who must have asked her if it was a good time to talk, because she responded, “No, nobody’s here; I can talk,” and proceeded to have a conversation with her friend while I just sat there feeling stung and not knowing what to do. In retrospect, I’d go get in the car and go home, and leave it to the then-boyfriend to get his own self home (those friends of his never did stop treating me like that, and he never got why he should care — good riddance, but that’s a whole other story).

        1. Mallory*

          I noticed as I attended more things with the boyfriend’s friends that all the friends’ wives were apparently the popular mean girls in high-school, and they had never quit acting that way even though, by that time, they were all in their mid-twenties to early-thirties. I had only ever had friends who were nice to me, so I didn’t know what to do with that kind of “frenemy” behavior.

    3. Ruffingit*

      Yes, that bothers me a lot and I find it incredibly rude. I see nothing wrong with leaving after 5 minutes. That is long enough for the person taking the call to get off the phone. Anything over that and clearly they are too busy talking on the phone to pay attention to you.

    4. Prickly Pear*

      I’m surrounded by people that can’t leave their phones. When that happens, I will walk away if I can. It super bothers me when we’re in a car together and I can’t get away. I need a way to say “You rude (expletive), get off your phone!” without torpedoing the relationships in question (relatives, friends).
      Also, PSA- if you’re in line at the store and you happen to get a phone call, the polite thing is not to throw up a ‘one moment’ sign to the cashier and start jabbering. You’d think it would be the young people, but it’s usually the soccer moms who apparently were raised by wolves.

    5. kas*

      YES! My friend does this every time we go out to eat and it’s extremely annoying. The thing is, she knows it’s rude and always apologizes without me even saying anything but these conversations are non-urgent and make me feel awkward. When I’m out with her, my phone is away and out of sight but hers is always placed right on top of the table and as soon as she sees it light up, it’s in her hand and she’s responding.

      I don’t think you were wrong and I wish I could do the same. I have a hard time letting people know when certain things bother me, I’d rather act like I don’t care even when I do. It’s not that I’m afraid to speak up (no problem doing that) but I don’t like sharing my feelings. I’m weird.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      “Oh, I am so sorry, excuse me. I appear to be interrupting your phone call. I will leave now so you can talk privately.”

      Then do it. Leave.

    7. Tasha*

      It’s happened occasionally, but doesn’t really bother me because my social circle stretches across a lot of time zones and incorporates many different schedules. Maybe that’s the only call they’ll get from that person for the next month–and it feels better to imagine that’s the case even when it probably isn’t.

      If it’s a social visit or a peer, I just take out my own phone. If someone senior is present, I’ll wait a few minutes and then take out some papers or email so that it looks like I’m being efficient.

  27. Wonderlander*

    Just stopping by this Sunday morning to say, that after 8 months of unemployment, Hubby has a SECOND interview this upcoming Tuesday! I know in my head it means nothing other than he’s past the first round, but it’s hard not to get excited. If you feel so inclined, please put some good karma out there for us! :D

    1. Trixie*

      Great news! If anything he’ll absolutely be motivated now that he’s had some interest. Keep us updated!

  28. Tomato Frog*

    We have a new intern at work. I am in a field where people tend to be rather reserved, and I’ve felt rather isolated each time I’ve started a new gig. But even though I am as shy and reserved as the next person at my job, I decided to be the change I want to see in the world and go and offer the new intern help and make sure she feels like she can interrupt me when she has questions.

    Well, it really paid off for me, because I just adore this woman. I meet a fair number of people who I learn to really like, but it’s been a long time since I met someone whose company I enjoy so much, right off the bat. We just click. I am completely chuffed.

    When’s the last time you made a new friend? Alternatively, what’s you’re favorite platonic meet cute (i.e. a “how we met” story, but for a friend)?

    1. Prickly Pear*

      Honestly, I’ve made lots of my good friends through work. My work BFF and I got teased yesterday about our impending wedding, and I died laughing because we both joke that it’s a good thing he’s getting married to someone else (way soon!) because our marriage would be lots of fun, but we’d be perpetually broke because of all our common nerd interests and we wouldn’t have someone to tell us not to buy, say, the whole fun of action figures on EBAY.
      My for-real BFF, my heart sib, I’ve known since I was 12 and she was 13. Our parents were friends, and we interacted, but we were decidedly not friends, because she was cool and I was me. It wasn’t until over a decade later that her and I even talked for more than five minutes, and I don’t know how it happened, but I adore her and we both laugh at how long it took for us to realize that we’re super alike. We even have the same middle name!

    2. kas*

      That was nice of you, I’m sure she really appreciates it/you.

      Last time I made new friends was a few months ago when I started a new job. Three of us started at the same time and we pretty much hit it off instantly and are always together during breaks or lunches. I don’t really have any cute stories, I met all of my closest friends in high school or at work.

    3. C Average*

      I was always a very outgoing kid who liked to make newcomers feel welcome. So when a new girl arrived in our class in fourth grade, I passed a note to her (with one of those safety pin friendship pins attached) asking if she’d like to join another friend and me at recess. She said yes, so the three of us played together. I learned that the new girl lived just three blocks from me. We were on different bus routes, but we were practically neighbors. So we made plans to get together.

      I arrived at her house and she said, “Oh, this is my twin sister. She’s going to play with us, too.”

      The twin sister and I were total, instant kindred spirits. We are both 40 now and we are still best friends. We don’t talk often, and we live on opposite coasts and rarely get together, but when we do it’s as though we’re both nine years old again. (And yeah, I stayed friends with the twin I met first, but she was always kind of the third wheel. Awkward.)

    4. Cass in Canada*

      I met my brother (best friend who is now family) when I was living in residence during my first year of university. We happened to have the exact same schedule for classes, but finally met when I spotted him, introduced myself, and became study buddies. I remember the first day we met, we were walking back to our floor and he wanted to go to bed at 9pm on a Friday night and I wouldn’t let him. Instead, I dragged him somewhat willingly to hang out with some other friends of mine. He said he would stay for 20 minutes or so, ended up staying for much longer! We became fast friends and have been close ever since, mainly because I thought it was weird to go go bed so early on a weekend!

    5. Sascha*

      I met my best friend when we were in college. I had first became friends with a mutual friend of ours, and the mutual friend thought we would hit it off. There was a coffee shop where all the students hung out, and I remember showing up there and seeing her, and thought, she looks so cool! I wonder who that is! I could never have a friend as cool looking as her! And she thought the exact same thing as me. Mutual Friend showed up and introduced us, and we were both surprised and thrilled, because neither of us had the courage on our own to talk to the other. We’ve been best friends/sisters for 13 years now.

  29. Ruffingit*

    Anyone else here suck at spatial issues? I have a hard time judging distances and also directions. If someone says “Is that west of Citytown?” I have no idea. I’m just not great with directions, distances, or spatial issues.

    1. Jamie*

      I am president of the lack of spatial awareness club. I have zero sense of direction and everything to me is either 20 feet or 1500. Don’t ask me why.

      I am incapable of packing a suitcase properly and God help us all if I bag my own groceries at self checkout.

      I think I’m actually missing this part of my brain.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I think I’m missing that part of my brain too. My ex-husband could pack a car with luggage like it was Jenga. Everything fit into place and I looked at it and thought “No way could I make that happen.” It’s just not the way my brain works.

        1. Jamie*

          When I tell people I’m bad at directions they usually laugh and say they get lost sometimes, too.

          Then the first time they have to talk me in from some bizarre location where I ended up having no idea how it dawns on them…”oh…so you’re baaaad at directions.”

          My mother could do that car packing deal – she could get the whole house including furniture in the trunk of a Buick. It’s an art – she also always knew where she was.

          I’ve accepted a long time ago that if a time machine plunked me back in a pre-technology era I have zero skills. None. My hunter/gatherer tribe would have used me as bait.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I knew I liked you Jamie! We are the same person when it comes to directions. The exact same thing happens to me. I end up God knows where every single time no matter how clear the directions are. I too would be easily picked off in the pre-tech era.

            1. Jamie*

              Well start our own tribe, let them hunt and gather and you will work up legal policies and I’ll take a stick and scratch excel sheets in the dirt.

              We’ll be visionary outcasts.

              Then when predators come by we’ll point them to the well fed and vastly more delicious hunter/gatherers. Then after the predators eat them well go in and take their food stores.

              We’ll be the worlds first corporate raiders.

              1. Windchime*

                I can be your predator screener. I have super-sonic hearing and a keen sense of premonition–I can usually tell ahead of time when I will see a spider. That’s really about my only useful caveman-era skill.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I do seriously think it is missing a part of the brain. That is (literally) how I describe it to people who can’t fathom how a person otherwise highly functional is at a loss for anything spatial.

    2. Sabrina*

      Directions I can do, but I have no idea how far away something is in terms of feet. I think this is because in Chicagoland everything is in terms of how long it will take you to get there.

      1. salad fingers*

        Have to disagree when it comes to the city of Chicago. I love being on a grid — for the most part, big streets are a half a mile apart (Chicago Ave to Division, Division to North, North to Armitage, etc) so it’s really easy to judge distance and reach most places with two bus routes.

        1. Jamie*

          Yeah, I keep hearing about this grid thing here, but I’m convinced it’s apocryphal.

          I think someone just changes the street signs every other day to mess with me.

          I’ll ask my dh how far something is form work and he’ll say “well that’s easy you’re 35 hundred south and that’s 65 hundred west so it’s blah blah blah blah…” Like that means something? It’s not even English.

          GPS with audio changed my life because twice I’ve gotten somewhere new without having to call for help, which never happened before. But if there is a detour I’m done. And those people who see traffic and u-bang it to take another route? Not me. I can’t wing it like that.

          Chicagoans may find this funny. I was trying to get to Orland from Evergreen Park – and realized I was lost when I ended up in Lawndale.

          When were little our parents tell us we can be anything when we grow up. No I couldn’t. Dispatcher. Cartographer. Driver.

          It actually factors in never wanting to look for another job because I know where mine is. Unless I was hired down the block that means new navigation. Nothing is worth that.

          1. salad fingers*

            Hehe, this *whole comment* makes me chuckle. My boyfriend is just like you, and I am one of those change directions mid trip bc traffic, bc potholes, bc why not people. Our bike rides together have taken a lot of adjusting.

            I see you won’t be won over re: the grid system, but proof(and reference materials ;)) at the link below!

            http://www.domu.com/pdf/grid_system.pdf

          2. Gene*

            My favorite grid system city is Salt Lake City. Addressees are basically Cartesian coordinates.

            Worst cities for finding your way around? Any Japanese city. No Street names, addresses are 3 numbers; District, Block, House. And the house are numbered in the order they were built, not where they are in the block; #2 can be on a completely different street than #1, with #3 on an even different street.

            1. salad fingers*

              I’d also like to add Atlanta to that list. Why so many Peachtree streets, Peachtree avenues, Peachtree ways, courts, blvds, north, south, inner, outter, upper, etc etc etc? Why would you do that, urban planners???

    3. Mimmy*

      Yup, me too!! I suck with directions big time unless I am really familiar with the area, though I have friends who are worse then me. But don’t ask me to give directions because you won’t get anywhere. I remember when I was a receptionist at an eye doctor’s office, I panicked because I could. not. tell people how to get to the office to save my life!

      Jamie, *high-five* I’m right with you on everything you said! Can I be your Vice President? ;)

      1. en pointe*

        This is me also. Absolutely no sense of direction. For my first ever job interview, I got on a bus two and a half hours early and didn’t even get within cooee of the place. For future interviews, every bit of navigation was mapped out well in advance and I now follow the dot on my smartphone.

    4. Prickly Pear*

      I don’t know if it’s a spatial issue, but I cannot give directions to save my life. I’ve always lived where I live, and I can get most places from just knowing the address, but it’s kind of instinctive knowledge and nothing that I can write down or tell. It’s like, I don’t know the names of streets but I know that if you take this road, you’ll pass x amount of stores, a bakery, etc.
      I can interpret directions, and I can say north, south and not get totally mixed up. My brain is weird!

      1. Jamie*

        When I’m working late and the drivers call and get annoyed with me because I have to connect them with shipping because “can’t you just tell me how to get there?”

        No. No I really can’t and you do not want me to try.

        1. Prickly Pear*

          The hilarious part is that I work on a staff where fully 3/4 of us aren’t from our city. People will come and ask for directions and people will say “Get Prickly Pear, she knows where everything is!” and sure, I know, but good luck getting me to spit it out without help from our good friend Google.

          1. en pointe*

            I don’t understand people who ask me for directions while holding a smartphone. All you have to do is follow the dot, and that thing gives a million times better directions than I ever will.

      2. fposte*

        Heh. I actually have really good orientation and mental-mapping skills but give horrible directions. I give them like the academic I am–I footnote everything.

        1. Prickly Pear*

          I have to not give directions the way I really want to- “Turn left at the old Discovery Zone (it’s been 10 different businesses since), then keep going until you see an old Pizza Hut that’s now a Mexican restaurant. Make a left there, and when you get to a street that has a torn down gas station and the abandoned Burger Chef…”
          It drives people crazy, I know.

          1. Windchime*

            This is how we always gave directions in the town where I lived. “You go on Pioneer until it turns into Division by where Dr. N used to live. Then you turn right on that little street just before the Methodist church, across from where the middle school used to be.” Totally useless directions for anyone who has lived in my home town for less than 30 years.

      3. Mallory*

        Yes! All my navigating knowledge is stored as nonverbal visual cues that I can not access verbally. I can know exactly how to get somewhere, but that doesn’t mean I can tell someone else how to get there. My spatial/verbal skills are not connected that way. I get places by remembering, as I go along, how to get there.

    5. samaD*

      North is whatever direction I’m currently facing and I measure distance in time (as in ‘how far away is X place? about 20 minutes’) :/

      I am pretty good with packing though….

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      I’m okay with following directions but terrible at navigating (“turn left – or is it right? hang on, i need to rotate the map the direction we’re going”). Thank goodness for GPS.

      I also have terrible personal spatial awareness, as in I’m constantly bumping into door frames and tripping when I try to step over things.

      But I can tell you without a ruler if a graphic needs to be nudged to the left 1/16″ of an inch.

    7. Stephanie*

      Funny thing, I’m the exact opposite. I’m really good with cardinal directions but if you start giving me directions in left/right, I get confused.

    8. Gene*

      This is something that has always confused me. It may have something to do with growing up in a rural, wooded area, but I always know where north is and which direction my destination lies. I do have trouble giving directions because I assume everyone else is the same way.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Growing up in the country (and now living in the suburbs), I tend to orient myself relative to “downtown”, so when I’m IN the city, I’m completely lost.

      2. en pointe*

        When I was younger, I lived on a cattle station with lots of stockman and their families. When I was really little, there was a very old Aboriginal man, who they used to say could track across thousands of miles of Australian Outback. Your comment about growing up rural and knowing where north is made me think of that. Haven’t thought about that man in years.

      3. fposte*

        There’s a scholar I know who has a theory that the less walking a generation does, the more trouble it has with spatial awareness–that we map by important points in our lives, and that skipping the connection through the landscape means we can’t really put the map elements together properply.

        1. Judy*

          Returning from vacation last week, my mom called my cell and asked where we were. I commented that I didn’t know, because the GPS is taking care of everything I couldn’t tell her if we were past Lexington yet. I had to get out a map from the glove compartment to tell her.

          GPS is great for letting you know exactly where you are. But not so good about knowing generally where you are.

          We always had a second set of maps in the back seat for the kids, and knew about the numbers on the side of the highway to figure out where exactly we are. My kids just look at the little box on the bottom of the GPS to know how long it will take to get where we are going.

          1. C Average*

            This comment made me think of something my dad used to do on road trips. When I asked when we would get somewhere, he’d give me a number. By an agreement we’d made (I don’t remember that particular discussion), I’d count to that number silently in my head. His predictions were eerily accurate. “3567 to Chicago,” he’d say, and I’d start counting. I can’t believe he used such a tactic and actually made it work! My stepkids would laugh in my face if I told them to count silently while we drove.

        2. C Average*

          I think my spatial intelligence behind the wheel is actually hampered by all the walking I do! I didn’t own a car until I was 28, although I learned to drive at 16 and drove my parents’ car in high school. I spent about a decade getting around on foot and by bike, and I’m really good at that. But put me in a car, where I have to think about exits and merges and lane changes and one-ways, and the world gets very confusing. I still only drive when there’s no alternative.

    9. kas*

      I’m horrible with directions and distances. Kilometres I’m okay with, don’t ask me how many km but I know from driving on the highway that 2.5 km really isn’t that far.

      My dad can tell you south of this and north of that and direct you from anywhere. I used to call him ALL the time and tell him I’m lost and where I was and he’d automatically know where I needed to go to get back to civilization/main roads. He then bought me a GPS so I could stop bugging him – didn’t realize how often I got lost! I have no idea why I didn’t use my phone either, just always called my dad first.

      I hate when my GPS says “south on ______” or someone’s trying to tell you where something is and they say “just north of _____” … just say left or right!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I think that packing things into a car is different from driving directions.

      You can see the whole car. You can’t see an entire driving route from standing in one place.

      This is funny now. My father was packing our vehicle for a trip. I said “How do you know everything will fit and how to make it fit?”
      Annoyingly, he said “You decide you are going to figure out how to do that.”
      So that answer ticked me off. I thought I will try this and see. I bet it doesn’t work. Whoops. It worked. Once I decided to figure out how to pack things in, the rest flowed. The secret is there is no ONE particular way. If you can close the door then you probably did it right.

      Now, too bad he did not say that about driving directions. I spent an hour looking for my friend’s house. She lives eight minutes away from me. I drove around and around. I got so frustrated with myself.

      Telling me to go NW or S or E is absolutely useless. I have no reference points. I don’t have GPS. So the day before I google street view for where I want to go. I like to see the intersections where I have to make a turn. This has been a wonderful, wonderful thing for me.

      My husband used to say learn one major N to S road and one major E to W road in relationship to your home. If you get lost, totally lost, work your way to one of those two roads. Once you find one of these roads, you know you can get yourself home.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        As long as you don’t reach that main reference road and go, “crap, do I need to go east or west to get back to civilization?”

        And then guess wrong. And it takes you 30 minutes of driving the wrong way to figure it out.

        Not that I have EVER done this…

    11. C Average*

      Hopeless. Absolutely completely and utterly hopeless. My particular brand of spatial ineptitude involves having to think for a moment about which is right and which is left (the “L for left” hand trick literally changed my life) and having, I’m convinced, no functional connection between my body and my brain. I have NO hand-eye coordination and truly terrible depth perception. Activities involving balls, imitating the actions of someone else (e.g., aerobics-type classes), controlling stuff on a screen with a joystick or controller, etc., are all completely traumatic for me.

      I am the safest but most chicken-sh!t driver on the planet. I’ll take the most circuitous route possible to avoid tight merges and sketchy lane changes, which terrify me. Three right turns to avoid a left-hand one because I can’t gauge the gaps accurately enough to just make the turn? Yep, that’s me.

    12. Vancouver Reader*

      I blame my lack of directions on my dad. He thinks a city that takes 4 hours to drive to is 8 hours away and vice versa. The only way I know which way is north is that the mountains here are in the north. My husband used to get annoyed with me because I can’t read a map to save my life whereas he’d glance at it while driving and pinpoint exactly where we are.

  30. Lady Thor*

    Hi all, I’m a sort of regular commenter but deleted my username for extra anonymity, since I’m posting an actual picture (I also blurred out my face). But since someone asked for this, you might guess anyway.

    Anyway, here’s my Thor costume from a con a few weeks ago. First ever costume and I’m really happy with how it turned out! It was a lot (A LOT) of work but also lots of fun

    http://tinypic.com/r/123o9wm/8

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Thank you! I had asked about it so I’m glad you remembered and posted a picture. You totally rock!

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      Oh, and if memory serves correct (which it doesn’t always when you combine flakiness with a dash of senility), I should’ve totally guessed who you’d be dressed as based on your gravatar right?

    3. Sascha*

      Nice! I’m so gratified to know other AAM readers are cosplayers. :) I dressed up as one of my favorite video game characters yesterday for Project A-kon here in Dallas.

    1. Liz in a Library*

      My town, though our capital city, is a fairly small capital city. At least, it isn’t a major city. The last several years, it has grown in many ways, and it has been so cool watching it grow up!

      We have a great arts scene for being the size we are, and it’s always expanding. There are several great local theatre troupes, local alternative dance and circus troupes, really cool local visual artists and galleries… This is my home town, and I remember a time when our then sole local art museum fit in a handful of rooms, so this is really exciting to see.

      We also have an awesome library system. Regularly ranked one of the best for our size. :)

    2. Jamie*

      My stuff is here.

      Seriously though – quiet tree lined streets with kids riding bikes, beautiful parks and walking trails, well funded library…pretty houses. Mine is nothing special, but a lot of people have some nice digs. We’ve been here forever but sometimes driving home I’m still struck by this little piece of Americana.

      Unless I’m on the Main Street by the mall and then I want gates at the town boarders to stop letting all this traffic in when I have places to be. Then my husband reminds me of what our property taxes would be if not for the mall and I shut up.

    3. Graciosa*

      No snow.

      No dirty piles of it on the corners for months on end, obstructing your view of oncoming traffic. No brushing snow off the car in the cold every time you have to leave your car outside during a snowfall. No worries about not seeing the black ice and having to brake while you’re driving. No trudging around a mall wearing a coat that seems to weigh five hundred pounds while you shop.

      I can’t believe I used to think all of that was inescapable.

    4. fposte*

      Ten-minute commute coexisting with four different places to buy really great cheese. Not to mention affordable housing.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        The old part of the city – which is happily, where I am about to work! Some of it is part of a university campus, but there are some other parts nearby such as a small botanical garden, a cathedral (I rang a bell!) and a lovely park/garden and a walk around the river. Beautiful on days like today, when the sun is out and I can just chill out and read my book.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Probably inspired by the first reply, my county’s library system is awesome. I haven’t purchased many books since getting here and I still have three shelves of unread books because I can get practically anything I want to read from my library system. I also gets tons of audiobooks and DVDs from the library. I search for what I want in the online catalog and have it delivered to my local branch about a mile away from my house.

      I will miss it when I leave because I don’t expect new town to have such a convenient system.

      I also like the three pro sports teams in the area; that’s my kind of entertainment.

    6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I love that, related to a long thread up above, I don’t have to have a car (and thus can put off learning to drive… Hopefully forever?!)

      I live in DC. Had to go to Annapolis for a wedding last night and had two different options of friends that were driving up to carpool with, and I could have bussed if I didn’t. And Google Maps actually has the various different transit systems in the area connected, so I can just plug in an address in a totally different city and it will pop up the crazy, circuitous route I have to take there via bus and subway.

    7. C Average*

      We rarely have truly unpleasant weather, if you don’t mind rain. It gets damp here, but it’s almost never seriously cold. It’s often really nice weather for running, riding a bike, hiking, or just being out and about and active. I walk, run, or cycle to work pretty much every day (it’s three miles each way) and I’m rarely either too hot or too cold.

    8. Mints*

      I love the balance between car friendly and walking friendly and mass transit. I can walk to a bus, train, grocery store, bars, parks. The freeway is really close for driving, and there’s parking in my neighborhood.
      More broadly, I’m close to huge cities, the beach, the mountains, everything.

      I feel like EVERYTHING is within reaching distance

    9. Tasha*

      It’s very mass-transit friendly and walkable, and there are lots of historic sites and museums I can visit (when I have time). The weather’s to my taste, although I hear it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.