Sunday free-for-all – August 10, 2014

goatIt’s the Sunday free-for-all.

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.

{ 857 comments… read them below }

  1. Anonymous*

    I’m trying to move from GA to NY, young enough to adventure;

    What am I in shock for besides the rent?
    Is NY as expensive as people make it to be?
    What places should I avoid living?
    What else?

    1. JessA*

      You also have to watch out for transportation costs and taxes. (You have to pay both city and state)

    2. Newsie*

      New Yorker for 8 years now (goodness me).

      Yes, New York is as expensive as people make it out to be. I’ll go home across the river to the burbs and go out for drinks and say things like, “Wow, this $5 beer is so cheap!” (It’s not, dear Anonymous.) Rent is stupidly expensive, so is just living. JessA is also right – taxes from here til next Sunday.

      Places you should avoid living – I honestly feel like the world is your oyster. If you’re concerned about crime, which is what I’m reading into your comment, it’s a much safer city now than it was even 10 years ago. What I would do is look at the outer boroughs first – it’s so, so much cheaper, depending on where your job is and where you live, and then look at the crime statistics in the area: . Keep in mind that they’re fudged a little towards the safer side, but they’re in general true. Also, search the neighborhood you’re looking for in See what sort of stories you see. Based on what my buds have done, good starter neighborhoods are Bushwick and Sunnyside. I took the other route of living in a million Craigslist sublets and stayed in Manhattan with questionable roommates.

      What else? Be prepared to not like it here. Which… is an obvious thing to say, I think? But I have found that some people just don’t like it at all. New Yorkers are friendly, but busy – it can feel really lonely sometimes and you don’t know exactly how to deal with it. To me, this is a city of extreme emotions – some days you just love New York, and some days you just hate everything about.


      1. NY-OP*

        Thanks for the insight, in fact Sunnyside have been mentioned quite a few. Queens in general. When I visited the city I fell in love with it, maybe it’s just visiting it will be different when you’re living there. Which website do people use to find accommodation? It seems like most apartments I’ve seen so far use an agent, is that normal?

        1. Bea W*

          I like visiting, but I couldn’t live there. I’m a city person, but it’s too much city for me. If you find you don’t like it, you can always move out. Now is the time to try it, when you’re young and not tied down to a particular location. It’s expensive but for someone young who is probably interested in a vibrant night life and being able to meet people and have different experiences, it’s awesome for that. I had a blast going there in my 20s. The subway runs 24/7. Bars and clubs are open ridiculous hours. There’s always someplace to go and something to do and so much variety. (Now I’m getting all nostalgic!)

          ( can’t speak for NYC on the agent thing, but its normal in Boston, even local owners will use agents. It’s just easier than taking on the whole showing and screening process yourself. People aren’t landlords for a living usually. They have day jobs, and many of them don’t live on site. Some owners pay the agent fee though, so it doesn’t necessarily cost extra. Ask upfront what the fee is. Owners renting direct will advertise on Craigslist and probably some other sites. If you know anyone up there, ask for leads on places.

          The benefit of an agent to the renter is that they’ll have many properties available and can show you others similar to the one you’re calling about. It was actually an agent that saved my butt last minute when my original place fell through 4 days before I had to be out of my old place, and rather than just breaking the bad news, he’d spoken with another landlord with a similar place at the same price who was willing to accept my application. I wasn’t thrilled with it at first, but once I moved in, I loved it and it was actually a better location. Stayed there 15 years!

        2. Newsie*

          I managed to find places without a broker, because again, I’m cheap. Craigslist, or search for places with “no broker fee.” Also, this is a more on the ground thing, but find a building in a neighborhood you like, and just call the management number on the side of the building. It’s usually posted, and they can tell you if they have any vacancies or not.

      2. NY-OP*

        Thanks for, I enjoyed reading and will probably be watching out for new articles. You can learn a lot from this blog. Have anyone heard if kijiji, i think it’s part of ebay?

        1. GH*

          I’ve had good experiences using kijiji to find Apartments (and other things) in Vancouver. Can’t speak to the NYC part.

        2. Felicia*

          I have! That’s where I found my dog. And lots of people I know here (Toronto) found apartments there. You basically have to approach it like you would craigslist.

    3. HarryV*

      Love visiting but would never live there. Can’t stand the filth and stench especially the subway. I can’t imagine taking my kids regularly on the subway where you regularly see rats running around the rails. The trash.. oh gosh. Then there are lots of weird people. I mean there are weird people everywhere but in places where everything is so centralized, you are bound to run into them.

      1. Bea W*

        The subway can be pretty gross and stinky. That’s why they employ rats and weird people to serve as a distraction.

        1. Newsie*

          I like to think of it reminding us all of our common humanity. And reminding us not to get in the empty subway car. :)

          1. Anonymous*

            Yeah – keep this in mind. If the subway is packed other than one car, it’s empty for a reason 99% of the time. :P

            (Lifelong Brooklynite.)

    4. NY-OP*

      Another note, I think Atlanta apartments have gotten expensive since 2010 that I would think there is no much difference between the two.

      1. Kinrowan*

        Just to insert a bit of positivity :)

        You don’t need a car, you can take a subway most places and walk, walk, walk. That saves in insurance and car maintenance and aggravation.

        You can go to some of the best museums in the world, and you can plan it to do it for free. If you pay attention and are early, you can get cheap tickets to see world-renowned artists. Sure, they won’t be front row orchestra but it’s still worth it.

        You get to mingle with people from all over world, eat a different ethnic cuisine every night if you so like, get to order delivery at pretty much any time.

        The first year can be hard until you figure all this out, but it’s really a fun city.

        1. Steve G*

          Right, but if you want to mingle with certain types of people you need to live in Manhattan in a nice building and dress the part. You can’t fake it til you make it in NY. It is just way to expensive. People are judgmental here about where you live, etc.

          1. Newsie*

            I would disagree… maybe I’m just in different circles, but people don’t seem to care so much where you live. It’s more the difficulty (or more “difficulty”) in getting out to different areas that I see reflected in discussions.

            1. Steve G*

              I guess I am referring more to the social climbing types that want to move to NY to rub elbows with the super rich or the high-power executives or celebrities….

            2. Zillah*

              Yeah, I’m with you. I grew up here and have been here all my life, other than undergrad, and the days of “I won’t go to Brooklyn” are long gone.

      2. AKB*

        Atlanta apartments have increased in price, but you’ll still be in for some sticker shock – especially for how far a dollar will take you. I moved from Atlanta to DC in 2012.

        DC isn’t as expensive as NYC but it’s a lot closer to that ballpark than Atlanta. I think that you’ll find that apartments in NYC are older so they’re significantly smaller and don’t have as many amenities as those in Atlanta.

        1. NY-OP*

          What’s equivalent to Buckhead where I pay $1100 for 1020 sq ft 1B1B apartment, laundrymachine provided in the unit?

          1. Elysian*

            Holy crap, I don’t think there is an equivalent to that in my city. 1020 sq ft would be like… a 2 or 3 bedroom… and it would probably be over $3000 a month. Without a washer/dryer and utilities would be extra on that. New York is more expensive than my city, so I can’t imagine its any better.

            In my city (which is less expensive than NY) I pay $2300 a month for a 800 sq ft 1 bedroom 1 bath in an older building with no WD. My 1 bedroom is considered “very large” and very inexpensive by the standards of most of my friends. So I really don’t at all know how to compare to what you have now.

          2. La munieca*

            OP, I would spend some serious quality time on craigslist to better understand the apartment options in NYC.

            To provide one data point, we live in waaay uptown Manhattan in a safe but decidedly un-cool neighborhood that is an hour from downtown on the express train. We pay 1700/month for a 700 square foot 1Br1Bath in a building that is 100 years old with shared laundry in the basement. No outdoor space or other shared amenities, but we do have two elevators in the building and are near a beautiful park. Our windows look into a space that is surrounded by walls (read: other people’s windows) but we get some natural light since we’re on the 4th floor. To get this apartment, we had to provide the previous year’s tax returns, bank statements of our checking and savings account balances, proof of income (3 most recent paystubs) showing we annually made 40x the monthly rent, a credit check, references from previous landlords, and valid ID (SS, drivers license, passports) and two months’ deposit since I had less than a year in my job. We lucked out and found this on craigslist but worked with a few agents (brokers) in our search. They charge, on average, 1-2 months’ rent for their services. I suspect you’d be moving into a group housing situation on someone else’s lease at first, which will help you to avoid some of this, but I’d recommend building up your bank accounts before moving.

            All of this said, I grew up in the midwest and my relatives have a perception of NYC as being a place where no one gets ahead and everyone is struggling to pay the rent. People make NYC work – and even save some money – but it requires having fewer “creature comforts” than my friends in other urban areas in similar jobs. If we lived in Atlanta, we would probably live in an apt. that was newer, with a level floor, a dishwasher, a gym and parking and in-unit washer/dryer. It’s just a completely different calibration. Space and privacy are very limited in NYC in exchange for opportunities that you can’t find elsewhere.

          3. TL*

            I don’t know about NYC, but in Cambridge/Boston, 1b1ba start at $1400, generally without perks and much smaller square footage. For 1000 sq feet, you’d probably be looking at $3000/mo. And NYC is more expensive from what I hear.

          4. Zillah*

            I’ve almost never seen a laundry machine in an apartment unless the people living there owned the building. Some buildings will have washing machines in the basement for common usage by all tenants, but that’s likely going to be the best you can do.

            You might find a studio apartment for that price in a less popular (but not necessarily less safe!) neighborhood in one of the outer boroughs. Likely it’d still be more, though, and it would be much smaller.

            Personally, one of the big things for me has been reconciling myself to a small space. I share a tiny apartment with my boyfriend. It’s a little hard, but for the deal we got, it’s worth it.

          5. Bea W*

            Boston area – easily $2000 for that much square footage, although you won’t find something that big with laundry in unit unless it is a luxury building. So you’re looking at more like $3-4K (Like the buildings that just went up next to where I work). In general in unit laundry is found only in the fancy new “luxury living” places. $1100 will get you a studio or teeny 1 br, no frills, and probably no utilities included in the cost of rent. You’re likely to need a laundromat.

    5. Elysian*

      I’ve never lived in NY specifically, but I live in another big city. My biggest shock – grocery shopping is a pain in the butt, especially if you don’t have a car, but also if you do. Just generally getting food from the store to me is such a trial sometimes.

      1. Tomato Frog*

        I just said this in the comment below, but this is actually something New York is easier for than other cities, I think.

        1. Elysian*

          Maybe, like I said I’ve never lived in NY. But I’ve visited some friends and they didn’t have a traditional grocery store anywhere near them. There were corner stores that had a few things, which was good, but nowhere you could easily do shopping to cook for a week. Also, the logistics of carrying home enough food to cook for a week can be rough – in our city we shop with a rolling bag, but even that is a pain as soon as it starts to rain a little. For me anyway, that’s been the biggest transition from suburb-to-city; you either have to adapt to carrying a lot of things around, or go to the grocery store multiple times a week (UGH!).

          1. Zillah*

            I think it really depends on where you are. There are several decent-sized grocery stores within 6 blocks of my apartment in Brooklyn. It’s not true of every neighborhood, of course.

            IMO, though, stopping at the store a few times a week isn’t really so much of a pain. If you’re taking public transportation, which many people do, it’s often not much out of your way to just stop on the way home.

      2. danr*

        NYC now has Fresh Direct, a grocery delivery service. Friends of mine used them regularly and had no complaints.

        1. Steve G*

          When I had a roommate, she used to use this. Once they left the food with a neighbor. It had frozen goods and since it comes in big boxes they didn’t know what it was, so everything defrosted. Besides the fact they you need to trust your neighbors to give the stuff to you! Of course they refunded the shipment

        2. La munieca*

          I’ve had good experiences with Fresh Direct, too, but their prices are 30-60% more than Trader Joe’s, the cheapest food option in NYC. Trader Joe’s has the same prices across the country, so they’re untouchable compared to other NYC supermarkets but everyone knows it, so the crowds can be crazy. At our nearest location (30 minutes away via train), we’ve stood in line on the sidewalk more than one Saturday, waiting for the Hawaiian-shirt-wearing “bouncer” to let us in.

          1. Zillah*

            Haha, yesssss. This is especially true of the Trader Joe’s in Manhattan and on Court Street in Brooklyn, IME. It’s a bit of a trek, but we’ve started driving out to the one in Middle Village in the evening on a weeknight, which is reasonably quiet. For NYC.

            1. Lore*

              The one on 23 St is usually better than the one in Union Square. Except no wine store. But I’ve also stood on line for the one on Court Street. (Having said that, the lines always move really quickly.)

              1. Zillah*

                The layout of the 23rd St one is also better, IMO. But yeah, the lines always move really quickly – there are a lot of cashiers, especially when it’s super busy.

                (Oh, Trader Joe’s. I love you so much.)

      3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        DC has a few grocery delivery options, which is wonderful. I use Peapod and love it.

      4. attornaut*

        fresh direct!! Now that I live in a city where everyone has a car, I legitimately miss grocery delivery.

    6. Tomato Frog*

      Many of the people I know who think it’s particularly hard to live in New York are people who are used to having cars. It’s tough to get around by car in New York, and it’s tough to transition to a carless existence. But as someone who has never had a car, I’ve never had an easier time getting around, anywhere. There’s the public transportation, of course, but also everything I need — grocery stores, laundromats, household goods — is just a block away.

      The biggest shock for me was the population density, and how I can’t be anywhere without other people being there. I’ve lived in big cities, but I still found the number of people a little daunting.

      I think it’s very clean but I lived here in the 1980s (then left for years) so your mileage may vary.

      It is definitely very safe. As far as neighborhoods, I second the recommendations for Sunnyside & also would recommend Woodside.

    7. Katie NYC*

      New Yorker here.

      New York’s a great place to live, but visits can suck if you get stuck in the likes of Times Square and Chinatown.

      I like being here for the atmosphere, and easy access to arts and culture. If you want, it’s easy to get out of town. I spent yesterday mountain biking to historical homes along the Hudson River :) Life if what your make of it. It doesn’t feel like my day to day life is different than anyone else’s, on the average weeknight, I get home, make dinner, do housework. I’m spending Sunday morning on laundry. But I see younger folks who just moved here utilizing the bar and club scene a lot more than I do.

      That said, it all takes some figuring out, nothing’s laid out to you, and it does feel like an absolutely shock moving here.

      In terms of housing, yes, it’s ridiculously priced, and living spaces are smaller than what most Americans are used to. A lot of early career people live with roommates. I had roommates until I could afford to live alone. When I moved here, I moved in with a roommate. I wasn’t on the lease, and I would just pay her my share of the monthly rent. Eventually, I found my own apartment through a coworker. It was my lease, I had roommates for a few years who paid part of the rent. When I the last one moved out, I looked at my budget, and figured I could live alone. I always used Craigslist to find housing. Not sure if thing’s have changed in the last 10 years. As for they NYC- ATL price difference – yup, it’s still there. One of my coworkers just moved to the city from Atlanta, and the price difference is significant.

      That said, if you don’t need a car, that makes up for a lot of the price difference. I’ve thought of moving…. but everytime I do the numbers the car erases any savings from a lower cost of living. I think that calculation would work out differently if I had a family, but for a single person, it’s a wash.

      1. Steve G*

        Studio apartments in the outerboroughs don’t go for less than $1300/14000 anymore….so the OP need to be making at least $65K if they want to live alone.

        1. Zillah*

          I think there’s an extra 0 in your “1400.” ;)

          You can find a studio for less, but it’s hard, and it means being really far out of the way (in general). I’d say that $1300-$1500 is a fair estimate for a studio, depending on the neighborhood (of course). That said, the OP definitely does not need to be making $65K if they want to live alone. That’s a really high number. If you budget well, don’t live extravagantly, and choose your neighborhood strategically, you can probably afford to live on your own and save a little for much less than that.

          Whether that’s something the OP can/wants to do is obviously up to them, because it absolutely is difficult… but if that’s a priority, it can be done

          1. Steve G*

            $65K may look great, but when you factor in that you only get 3 paychecks 2 months a year, the rest of the year that is only coming to about $3500/month for all expenses after taxes (more if you don’t have a 401K)…..

            1. Zillah*

              I’m sure you didn’t mean it, but this comes off as incredibly condescending.

              I’ve lived in Brooklyn for my entire life, and I moved out of my parent’s home a few years ago. I’ve covered my expenses on my own since then, through a combination of low-paying work and student loans while I was in grad school. You’re right – $65K does look great, compared to what I’ve been using to support myself.

    8. Steve G*

      1) Costs – don’t move there unless you are making at least in the $60Ks. You won’t be able to afford Manhattan unless you are $80K + and that won’t even be in a nice building.
      2) Groceries – it is mentioned below…they can be ridiculous. I sometimes split up shopping. Certain things get marked up ridiculously in some places so if you want good prices and to do shopping all in one place, you need to go to the “hood.”
      3) Living middle class – it’s easy in many many places. In NY? You need to be super rich to avoid dealing with crazy, nasty, horrible, ghetto people. You will also be shocked by how you just can’t insulate yourself from the gross or annoying parts of the world. Even luxury buildings sit next to factories, on top of highways or loud roads, and have trash piled up outside on garbage die, and can have people begging for more outside. Even if you are rich you will need to ride the subway with people who spit out sunflower seeds on the ground or push you to get into the subway then block the door. I missed growing up in the country where you can insulate yourself from trashiness and choose who to come into contact with!
      4) Neighborhoods – Unless your income is $80K+ don’t even try for Manhattan. Greenpoint is nice but you will need to make at least $70K. The west side of Bushwick is also getting nice. I also think Forest Hills is a really good bargain and you can live well there for “only” $60K/$65K per year. Of course, it’s a half hour subway ride from Manhattan that is crowded during the week, but it is nice…..

      1. w.*

        Steve, your comments about this are seemingly increasingly judgmental to me. WTF?

        NY-OP: I lived in a studio in Manhattan for $900/mo. It wasn’t the best building but it was right by the A and getting around was a breeze. Now I’m in a 1-br for $1200/mo. Try looking in Inwood if you want to still be in Manhattan but need to pay a lower rent. Beautiful neighborhood, too.

        1. Steve G*

          Where is the judgmental? Don’t know how to respond to that.

          Your rents are really low, you have to admit they are not the norm here. I have never met someone who’s apartment was only $1200 but for my sister who lived in Bay Ridge maybe 5 years ago (which was hundreds below market rate for their apartment), and they got the apartment through friends of family who didn’t need the $$$ but wanted quiet, known, reliable tenants. I would never want to mislead someone thinking of moving here telling them it’s all great and they will live fine on a modest salary.

          1. w.*

            I was referring mostly to the line about how you need to be super rich in NY to avoid “crazy, nasty, horrible, ghetto people.” There are rude individuals no matter where you live or how much money you make, but I really don’t know how you could say that, above, and not realize it sounds pretty gross?

            And maybe if you’re married to the idea of living in the Village or something, you’ll obviously never find those rents there, but in Washington Heights and Inwood, that seems to be the majority. I had plenty of apartments to visit and choose from while I was looking, and my timeframe for moving both times was “ASAP.”

            1. Steve G*

              w – we have had many discussions on this blog about holier-than-though types that pile on people who word things the “wrong” way and we decided we are not going to be a blog that does that.

              By gross people I mean like the people that go through my garbage (so I take my paper recycling to my parents) or don’t curb their dogs, or like the lady I saw on the subway who was hanging out of her shirt and threw a water bottle at a kid she didn’t know yelling “Stop f*** starting at me,” etc. In other places you can live on a large property, put a gate at the end of the driveway, drive in your SUV only to the fancy stores and restaurants and insulate yourself from stuff like this. Not in NY!

              And OP – my point is simply that you can be shocked at where big $$$ affords you to live here. Many people that know me and my job are scandalized to find out I live on the L train in Bushwick (Jefferson stop). Some of this discussion is moot because you mentioned your earning potential. You will always hear stories about someone who has a great apartment dirt cheap or how someone making peanuts affords to live here, but it can be very hard once you add in phone, internet, gas, electricity, metrocard + the occasional going out + savings + any debt you have.

              And as per AAM comment guidelines this is my last comment on the topic!

              1. Steve G*

                And so I don’t get comments on this, by “going through my garbage” I don’t mean a professional garbage collector, but the random people that just take it upon themselves to open up your trash and go through it, I guess looking for nice stuff. It happens all the time and I hate it, especially when I throw out credit card offers, etc.

                1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  You really should be shredding anything like that. Statements, CC offers…heck, I shred pretty much anything with our name and street address on it! (We have a PO box that we use for all correspondence, but we still occasionally get stuff at home.)

                  But then, when I am going to trash or pass on a hard disk drive, I do 10 passes with a disk wiping program. :)

              2. w.*

                People disagreeing with you does not a pile-on make. It’s not the wording specifically I take issue with but the sentiments expressed therein and I gotta say, it’s pretty darn dismissive and condescending to assume that nitpicking your word choice (I am not) or being holier-than-thou (again, I am not) is the only reason I could POSSIBLY be commenting. In another thread you were talking about “insulating yourself from trashiness” (btw, I’m quoting you because it’s what I’m talking about directly, and the sentiment I’m referring to, not because I’m objecting to the words themselves). You’re right, some people go through others’ trash. Sometimes it’s because they’re homeless and they’re looking for recyclables to get that nickel back, sometimes it’s because they actually HAVE TO — superintendents in NY are now being fined per piece of recycling that’s in a trash bag and vice versa, so they are pretty much obligated to check up on their tenants’ trash to save themselves the consequences. I guess what I’m trying to point out is that OP-NY’s coming here for advice on moving to the city and you’re coming across as condescending re: their income, neighborhoods, and economic classes which… is kinda offensive to those of us who might live in the neighborhoods you’re referring to, or who might be making peanuts, comparatively, but still wouldn’t call themselves trashy or ghetto, whatever that actually means. (Spoiler: I’m one of those people!) Congrats on removing yourself from the conversation, I guess? If AAM thinks I’m out of line I’ll defer to her judgment, obviously, but this is an OT post, so we’re not derailing from LWs’ posts…?

            1. Audiophile*

              I take it, you moved? Did you like the area – I just started working in Manhattan, but I’m living upstate-ish. My commute is loooong – Metro North to GCT to Times Square to 1 train. I’d definitely like to cut it down some in the next six months. I’m sure I can’t swing Manhattan but even moving slightly closer, would be ideal.

      2. NY-OP*

        Thank you people here give good advice.

        I’m making $60-$65K in Atl I figured I can make around $80-$90K in NY. But the reality is always different.

        1. Yeah*

          You’ll be fine. I live comfortably in Queens on $50,000, and I have a beautiful, spacious one bedroom and lovely neighbors.

        2. Steve G*

          That should be good. I make $75K and that’s good if you live in an outerborough and save for retirement and have a car and want some extra $ to have a life with beyond just making rent.

          I know people say you can live on a lot less but if you are the type who wants to go out drinking on the weekend and likes dining out and wants to go away on vacation once or twice a year and wants to save for retirement, it can be very expensive here. a lot of people scrape by here paycheck to paycheck (running out of $ before payday, only putting 3% to retirement, etc.) but you can only live like that for so long….

          1. Zillah*

            That’s true, and important to point out – but then perhaps you should say, “You need $X to be able to go out drinking, dine out, go away on vacation, and save.” People do not need $75K to live in the city. You may need it to live your lifestyle, but not everyone has the same priorities or shares that lifestyle.

      3. Zillah*

        Wow. Yeah, as a twenty-something who grew up here and has a lot of friends here, that is not even remotely my experience, and personally, I think that being able to pretend that there’s not poverty in your country by “insulating yourself from trashiness” is a bit overrated.

        (Also, I think you’re using “nice” as a synonym for “gentrified and super expensive.” Greenpoint and Bushwick were not always like they are now, and IMO, Greenpoint was a lot nicer 10 years ago.)

        1. Steve G*

          Well, I did like Greenpoint when it was 100% Polish, being part Czech (not the same but the closest you can get in NY is Polish). It’ sad when you see a hardcore Polish business close and then inevitably another hipster coffee shop or bar goes into it.

          1. Zillah*

            Well, it hasn’t been 100% Polish for a long time. :) But yeah, neighborhood stores have closed a lot in the last few years because the rent has just gotten too high. I have friends in that area, and it’s really sad.

        2. Onymouse*

          People have different comfort levels. Commenters often bring up the fact that we should listen to our gut when in an uncomfortable situation. OP’s lifestyle comfort level is not a put down on anyone else’s.

          1. Zillah*

            But I don’t think that the OP has clarified what their lifestyle is at all – Steve G is just assuming that the OP’s lifestyle is similar to his.

            If by OP you mean Steve G – I don’t think that the comparison really works. We tell commenters to trust their guts when something in them is saying, “This is a dangerous situation” or “This boss seems off” or “There’s something weird about this job offer.” Steve G isn’t talking about feeling threatened – he’s talking about having to deal with sharing space with people of a different social class/culture than he is. I don’t think that what he’s saying is a put down on my lifestyle – I think that what he says comes across as very classist and elitist, which is a schism of NYC that I have always really disliked.

            1. Ezri*

              It squarely depends on your expectations, which are not positive or negative in and of themselves. My parents / sisters back in my hometown have a very high minimum standard of living – they are used to having multiple vehicles, a large hours in a nice neighborhood, and long yearly vacations. There’s nothing wrong with that lifestyle, but they would not consider my (much lower) income and standard of living to be acceptable.

              I, on the other hand, am able to live quite happily supporting two people on $55K a year. We manage a nice townhouse, car payments, student loan payments, and an actual savings account, with enough left over to go out to eat occasionally. Coming out of college, this feels like we’re living large. :D It’s entirely a matter of perspective.

              @Steve G – I think the comments that are rubbing people wrong are doing so because they appear to be making an assumption about the ‘minimum’ required to live comfortably. Other commenters are providing successful NY perspectives that don’t require a $75 income, in the interest of giving OP a sense of all options. Some people are quite happy living in neighborhoods where the foliage appears to be eating nearby houses (like mine), or taking the bus to market instead of an SUV. We shouldn’t make the assumption that one baseline fits all. :)

    9. anon-2*

      You mean you haven’t checked these things out yet?

      Weather – cost of living – taxes – and, of course wages — everything’s higher.

  2. Evan (in the USA)*

    First comment?

    I’m posting from the wifi in a yurt in a mountain campsite. It’s nice how the Internet is usable everywhere… But disturbing, too. Anyhow, the weekend’s been fun, I went tubing for the first time, and the minor crisis at work can wait till Monday.

  3. Ali*

    I am staying in NYC until next Sunday! I come to my sister’s and take care of her cats while she goes on her own vacation. It’s nice for me because I get a good amount of solo/introvert time, but I can also meet up with friends and a couple of coworkers while I’m here. I am trying to save money to move here eventually, but have a pretty long way to go before I’ll be ready to leave my boring hometown. Sigh…

    My only complaints are that so far, the cats were playing and knocked over a shelf that I had to put together. Then furniture and space in my sister’s apartment are kind of at a premium (cramped quarters and all), so I’ve gotten stiff and pulled some muscles trying to get comfortable. I’ve done that at home too but it’s hard to be cozy here when there’s stuff every square inch of an already small apartment. That’s NYC life for you I guess…

  4. Kay*

    So, last Thursday was my last day at my day job, and I’m trying to figure out how to budget my new-found time. There are several house projects I’d like to accomplish, but I usually lack motivation when at home. I really want to do some serious organization and home improvement projects, and there are probably some places that could use a deep cleaning that I had no time for when I was working two jobs.

    Any suggestions on staying on track and not being lazy just because you’re at “home” instead of “work”?

    1. Alter_ego*

      Have you heard of un-f*** your habitat? There’s an iPhone app and a website. I haven’t used it for big home improvement projects, but for cleaning and stuff, it’s great, both for motivation and ideas.

      1. Kay*

        I haven’t heard of that, but I just checked it out and I think it’ll be helpful in motivation. Thanks for the suggestion, I’m definitely going to try it in the next couple weeks. My mom always did “10 mins a room” where you set a timer and do as much as you can in 10 minutes. If I do that twice in 2 rooms, that’s a 20 min cleaning, then I just have to work on doing ONLY a 10 minute break before I get back at it. I am definitely a typical marathon cleaner and I think it drives my husband nuts.

    2. A Teacher*

      I like to clean walls when I get a chance to deep clean. Mr. Clean has a really good smelling cleaner that can be mixed with water. Its amazing how dusty the walls get.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        I love washing walls. I like to do it every spring and fall when I do my seasonal deep cleanings, but oh my, it’s so lovely to see how nice and clean the walls get when they’re not covered in dust and cat hair and pawprints and smudges and whatever other detritus ends up there.

    3. LAMM*

      I always try to have one thing on my “have to do” list each day I’m off and a separate list for “would like to get done this (week/month/whatever). That way I feel a sense of accomplishment when I get the one thing done and if I’m on a roll and want to keep going I can. But if not, then I can go back to being lazy and not feel bad.

      For example: my next day off I have to do laundry. If I get on a roll, I’ll clean out the closet and get rid of anything I don’t wear any more. If not, then it’s cool. The closet clean out just needs to be done by the end of summer.

      It helps me because I’m more likely to be productive if I don’t feel guilty about being lazy.

      1. Kay*

        Yeah, I’ve actually got a lot of big projects (like cleaning out closets, organizing my library – which has become the storage room of everything we don’t know what to do with… finish painting the bathroom and I think if I break them into smaller tasks, I’ll be able to tackle them a bit more efficiently. I think I’ll sit down today and make a list and try to give myself reasonable deadlines to get through all this stuff.

    4. Anonymous*

      I’ve used “HabitRPG” for trying to get myself into the groove of cleaning. It worked well for the first month, though I really need to do it longer than a month before breaking it for a holiday.

      I’m trying to clean myself. Tonight I’m hosting the weekly game night , and we have a new member that’s allergic to cats… Not so good when I have a cat and haven’t had a working vacuum in years. He’s been warned about my house and I’m hoping he gets here early enough that we can see if me hosting is a viable option, or if we’ll need to hastily relocate.

      A friend of mine is helping me clean, and I really need it. I’ve got the “broken stair” with being overwhelmed piled on top…

      1. LPBB*

        I’ve been using HabitRPG too. Unfortunately my motivation has really slid and my character spends more time in the Inn then she does doing stuff. But it can be a really fun way to start building some habits!

      2. Anonymous*

        Yeah, there’s no way that’s going to work out if he’s really allergic. I can tell there is a cat in a house almost immediately when I walk in, I can feel it in my respiratory system.

        1. Windchime*

          I have a sister who is insanely allergic to my fluffy, constantly-shedding cat. During allergy season when everything is in bloom, she absolutely cannot visit my house. When her allergies are quiet, she can sometimes visit for an hour or two if I:

          –Do a complete, thorough vacuuming of the downstairs area where we will be visiting. This includes the hardwood floors in the kitchen and powder room.
          –do a damp mop of the hardwood
          –Cover the (upholstered) chair she will be sitting in with a large, clean bed sheet. This has to be done right as she arrives, otherwise the cat thinks it makes a lovely place for him to sit.
          –Keeping kitty several feet away from sister.

          Even then, it’s iffy. Sometimes she can be fine for several hours; other times, she starts to get sniffy and itchy immediately.

        2. Anonymous*

          Luckily, things turned out well! Borrowed the vacuum, vacuumed up the living room (including all fabric furniture) maybe an hour before he arrived. And he didn’t even seem to be sniffling when it was time to leave!

          It also helped that my cat seemed to know something was up, between the cleaning yesterday and today, and was hidden under my bed pretty much the whole afternoon/evening. She doesn’t like strangers (which is pretty much everybody but me).

    5. Colette*

      When I was last unemployed, I made a list of things I wanted to accomplish, and set a rule that I had to do at least 15 minutes on one of them every day.

    6. Artemesia*

      I am recently retired and have the same issue of structure. What I do is consciously fill my weeks with many social activities. So we don’t drift — we are going to the concert in the park, out to dinner with friends, taking the grandkid to the zoo etc. And I have a couple of personal projects that I put a few minutes a day into. Cleaning? We moved to a small place that doesn’t require that much time to clean compared to our previous giant house. I love that I can spend a couple of intense hours and have the place looking good.

      1. Kay*

        Yeah, I’m trying to do some bigger projects. We moved into our house a little over a year ago and there are places that never really got set up how I want them. I need to build/buy some shelves for different things, organize the closets, things like that, but it’s really easy to sit down and go through a box of junk you threw in a closet and start looking in detail at every item, find a book you haven’t read in 10 years and start reading it, give up because you don’t have proper storage, but you don’t want to get rid of these things… I definitely have too much stuff and part of the process will be some whittling down although probably not enough.

    7. saro*

      I have an issue working from home and balancing my time between work, my hobbies and home projejcts. The ‘todoist’ app completely revamped my life. I’ve also fallen off the GTD wagon but this is helping me back on. I use the ‘todoist’ app and make sure I give myself deadlines. I have no stock or relation to todoist other than a user btw :)

      1. A Teacher*

        LOL, I got a chuckle out of it. The satellite company loves when I call…the last 3 of 4 foster dogs have felt the need to chew apart my dish remote. The last time I called tech support and she pulled up my account her question was “do you need a new remote?” 3 remotes in 2 months…what we do for our pets (or foster pets).

        1. Bea W*

          Rabbits love the rubber buttons. It’s a losing battle. I try to put my remotes away in a drawer but I don’t always remember. The tablet I bought this year works as a remote. So now I don’t have to worry about buttons!

            1. Bea W*

              You don’t even see them actually do it! The buttons just vanish, and but for the tell-tale teeth marks, you’d never know what happened.

    1. Jen RO*

      So cats really can do that! I was always worried about it, then worried that I was worrying *too* much…

      1. Gene*

        This was a combination of a very athletic cat who was excited that a new to the neighborhood cat was sitting on the front walk and a nylon screen that is at least 24 years old – that’s when I bought the house.

        I didn’t see it, but my wife did. She says the cat came from the other room at a dead run, launched off the carpet to the back of the couch and through the screen. Since she’s an inside cat, it surprised her as much as us and she was just sitting there when my wife grabbed her. We haven’t seen the new neighborhood cat since. :-)

    2. James M*

      One time, one of my parents’ cats jumped up on a window screen hard enough to knock it clean out of its track. The screen landed in the yard with the cat still stuck to the middle of it. He must have been very surprised, because he didn’t leave the screen in the time it took my folks to investigate the ruckus.

    3. Seal*

      My mother’s normally laid-back cat tried to attack a stray cat through a sliding screen door and wound up taking out the entire door. Needless to say, the stray cat never showed up again.

  5. Audiophile*

    To-do list apps: I know it’s been asked before in the Sunday thread. With new job, I definitely need one.
    I’m currently using Wunderlist, but notifications aren’t working, which means I have to keep opening. Any other recommendations?
    I’ve occasionally used my phone’s stock calendar, as sort of a to list. Only requirement really, is it has to run on Android.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      I use Evernote sometimes but usually I find myself just going back to paper and pen along with calendar reminders in outlook.

      1. Bea W*

        Me too. There is something so satisfying about a physically crossing things off your to-do list. I have tried using the pen on my tablet, but it’s not the same.

        1. Mimmy*

          This, so much this!! I actually have a small white board, and I often write my to-do’s there; crossing out or erasing is definitely satisfying!

      2. Audiophile*

        I tried Evernote at one point, I couldn’t get it to save stuff, not sure what it’s problem was. At the time, I didn’t really have much that needed saving.

        Now, I’m getting a little tired of having a dozen post-it notes hanging around on my desk. I’ve been pinning them up on my bulletin board, but I really want something I can sync with my phone and if someone can make something that I can also throw in my phone’s calendar, I’ll be there new best friend.

      1. Eva*

        Another vote for Nirvana which I first heard about in another AAM thread a while back. I’ve been using it ever since and it’s amazing how useful it has been in helping me get stuff done! I can warmly recommend that app as well as the book on which it’s based, Getting Things Done by David Allen.

    2. Missy*

      I’ve tried a variety of to-do list options, but the thing I always go back to is keeping a draft email in my gmail. I have three of them now, for different projects, and they always catch my eye when I go in to check mail. Otherwise, with a standalone app, I tend to just forget the list is there.

      1. Schmitt*

        Todoist is the best option for syncing that we’ve found, but I don’t know how it is with tasks – we use it for our grocery list. It has lots of options and holy marie does it send notifications when someone else does something so I bet you can set it up with other types of notifications too.

        It also has a plugin for Chrome so you can access from your desktop.

        1. Glor*

          Todoist is pretty good for me, and I’ve done daily, weekly, and monthly tasks — and they’re pretty diverse on notifications as well.

        2. Evilduck*

          I also like Todoist. I just recently started using it, but it’s awesome how you can set up recurring tasks and (for me, anyway) the keyboard shortcuts for adding tasks is really easy to learn.

    3. Laura*

      For specific-day things, I use written lists in my day planner. But for general lists, I use AnyList – I love it in part because individual lists can be shared between different users, so my husband and I can share the grocery list, the “household needs fixing list” and the like.

      1. Audiophile*

        I’ve given more money to Day Runner for 12 month calendars, that I wrote 1 or 2 things in, than I care to think about.

        If I had more going on, I might give it a try again, but my office uses Outlook – so any meetings are in there.
        This is really just to remind myself of things – scheduling time to research, scheduling posts, etc.

    4. Meghan*

      I switch between Todoist and good ol’ pen and paper. If you like doing it by hand but still want some structure, check out Bullet Journal! Cool concept.

    5. saro*

      I just mentioned todoist above. I use todoist for my ‘actual’ to-dos, google calendar for events, and Evernote for my running lists (shopping lists; movies to watch; books to read). I use a samsung galaxy note.

    6. Perpetua*

      It doesn’t have notifications (I think), but for those who, like me, love the “clean piece of paper” way of making lists, I wholeheartedly recommend

      It’s basically one big list that you can zoom into, but it has proven surprisingly useful to me (it has simple but powerful functions, like tagging, and you can adapt them to your needs).

    7. Onymouse*

      I recently started using Google Keep on my android phone. Syncs with a website (, and it’s so simple for text or voice notes. It’s great for stuff like “pick up dry cleaning” because you can set either a time or location based reminder, so it’ll ping you when you’re near the dry cleaner’s.

      1. Snork Maiden*

        Also you can upload pictures to it. I have an Android phone and a Google account and I find this the simplest option. I tried Evernote for a bit. I’m a huge paper and pen person but I’m surprised at how much I turn to Keep now.

    8. Susie*

      I’ve found the Bullet Journal ( works much better than any app. I get too distracted to follow an app or stop using devices for periods and it all ends up out of control. Carrying around a small notebook is easy. I use the dotted Moleskin notebooks since then I’m free to put lines where I want or not at all but still keep things neat.

      1. Audiophile*

        I have two Moleskines – both ruled, one pocket and one large, in the teal color they offer from their website. I’ve been trying to make the pocket one, work only. That site has some good tips – thanks for the link.

  6. kas*

    I don’t know if this has been brought up as I haven’t been able to keep up with all the comments lately but my phone does not seem to like the new AAM. 98% of the time it either shuts down my internet or I get a white screen. Sometimes I’ll get lucky, like now, but I usually have to wait until I get home to catch up. This has never happened to me before and it only happens on this site.

    Anyone else have this problem?

      1. kas*

        It was okay for a few days I believe but I really started noticing it last Sunday when I was trying to read the open thread comments. Posts with hundreds of comments always shut down my internet and I get a white screen until I’m able to close the AAM tab. My internet also shut down right after I posted the comment above.

      2. the gold digger*

        Yep. I have had this issue, too. I have tested other websites, but it seems only AAM gives me the message that the internet has shut down. (I have an android.) It happened on Friday at work, so it has been recently.

    1. Jen RO*

      Is this only happening in one particular browser? Opera used to do weird stuff like that on my old phone (on other sites), but the stock browser worked fine.

      1. kas*

        Hmm, good question … I’m not too sure. The browser I’m using is the only one I have on my phone. Maybe I’ll download a different browser and see what happens.

    2. bullyfree*

      Since the debut of the new site, AAM crashes frequently when I attempt to view it from my Samsung Tablets. I am on a laptop right now and it doesn’t ever crash when using this laptop.

    3. Elkay*

      Just had to switch to the tablet because the site kept crashing on my Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 which is an old crappy phone so that may explain it.

      1. kas*

        Strange, my phone is a Samsung Galaxy S3 and you and bullyfree also have issues on your Samsung devices …

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I always read AAM on my laptop or desktop, but after seeing this thread I thought I should give it a try on my phone (Samsung Galaxy S5). The site looked fine; I was able to read it easily, although when I flicked through these comments really quickly in order to skip down to this thread, I did get a white screen for a second or two before the text was displayed.

          However, when I tried to comment, I tapped Submit, and it just brought me back to the AAM home page. Unless my comment is being moderated (there were no URLs in it), it didn’t submit properly via my phone.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Okay, we’re making a change on the mobile version. Would you clear your cache (can you do that on a phone browser) and let me know if it keeps happening after … 15 minutes from now?

      1. kas*

        Cleared my cache, restarted my phone and tested a few of the posts. Internet shut down/closed when I went on Friday’s open thread.

      2. Oh anon*

        I’m still crashing when viewing comments via mobile version, even after cache was cleared via browsers’ options and a separate cache clearing app. Posting this from laptop.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      One more suggestion:

      It might be that the javascript is making the browser choke (ads getting loaded, collapsing comments, etc.) for some people and no amount of optimizing on our end will solve it, so if javascript is disabled that might keep those devices from choking.

      If you want to “go back” to the old site, disabling javascript would do it. You wouldn’t have collapsing comments, but all page loads should be much better.

      So, if you have an older phone/tablet that isn’t working, you could turn off javascript in your browser, OR if you’d like to keep your settings for general browsing, you could download another browser (Firefox, Dolphin, Chrome) and disable javascript in that secondary browser.

      Here are some guides regarding disabling javascript: (this one talks about enabling it, but it’s just the reverse to disable it)

  7. Ann*

    I would like some advice about a situation I’m in that’s sort of related to work, but it’s more personal, so I’m putting it here…

    My good friend “Kim”’s husband, “Jay,” lost his job about a year ago. Understandably, she’s spent a lot of time over this last year talking about his job search, including the fact that he hasn’t even gotten a single interview.

    Earlier this week, I ran into Jay at the grocery store and got to chatting with him. Suddenly, he mentioned something that had happened to him at work that day! (Note that he said this with no prompting/mention of work from me.) I was surprised that Kim hadn’t told me about his new job, so I asked him how long he’d been there. He said almost nine months!

    I find this whole thing very disconcerting, and I’m not sure how to address it the next time Kim brings up Jay’s “unemployment.” I have no desire to make a big, “J’accuse!” type of confrontation. But the next time she brings up the topic…do I just play along? Do I preemptively say, “Hey, Jay told me about his new job! Sounds great!” without mentioning that I know it’s been nine months? I just don’t understand why she would set up this odd situation.

    1. CrazyCatLady*

      If it were me, I would be direct about it. I’d just say something like “hey, I ran into Jay and he told me about his new job. Was there a reason you didn’t want to tell me about it?” Really awkward situation though. Is it a job she might be ashamed of or embarrassed by or something? I don’t get it.

    2. Sandy*

      Is it possible that he took on a temporary-type job (stocking shelves, fast food, etc.) in order to pay the bills, but she/he/both didn’t really have that in mind as a new job? They would prefer something more in line with his career aspirations?

      1. Buu*

        Yeah sounds like that to me, I have a friend whose husband is doing a cinema job that’s supposed to be temp until he finds a managerial position. Little worried that he seems to think he can just stay where he is and work his way back up, so he probably just considers it his job and she doesn’t ( because it doesn’t cover rent and she’s been laid off over the Summer). Might be a similar situation

    3. Al Lo*

      That’s weird. Is it a job that’s not in his field — he’s working fast food, for instance, and hasn’t gotten a single interview for what he really wants to be doing? I can see not wanting to tell people about that kind of job — I’ve had periods where I’ve been very reticent to share that kind of information when I’m feeling ashamed that what I’m doing is “less than” what I think I should be doing; whether that’s was doing before, what I want to be doing, what I’m trained/educated in, etc.

      1. Ann*

        To respond to this and other suggestions that it might be an issue with the job: I don’t think so. His new company is a very big name in his field (as least as big as his previous company, if not bigger), so I can’t imagine that he’d be embarrassed to be working there. I guess it’s possible that he’s taken a step down, position-wise (because he didn’t tell me the exact nature of his new position), but he seemed happy to tell me about the new job, so that seems unlikely.

        1. Chloe*

          That is all kinds of weird. I’d just mention it next time you see her: hey I saw Jay the other day, great news about the job!

          Then stop, see what she says. Would be very interested in her response!

    4. JessA*

      Is it possible that the job could be part-time, or freelance, or a contract job? I could understand if he was in some sort of temporary job, but still looking for something more permanent.

      1. Ann*

        Maybe. But he did mention something about one of his direct reports, so it seems like he’s some kind of manager. (I think he was a manager at his old job too, but I can’t say for sure.) Are there part-time or contract managers? It still seems weird that Kim wouldn’t mention it and would say that he hadn’t gotten a single interview.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Call Kim and tell her how happy you are to hear that Jay has a job. And then think about the depth of your “friendship” with Kim if all she kept talking about Jay’s job search. What the heck is that all about??

    5. Dan*

      Is there a possibility that Jay is trying to leave Kim and is hiding money? Granted if he knows you and Kim are friends, he’s be dumb to spill the beans, but if Kim knows you and Jay talk, hiding it is weird too.

      As an aside, there are men who get laid off and never tell their wives. They put on a suit every day and leave at 830 and go to the library or something.

      I’m wondering if the opposite could be occurring here.

      1. Jen RO*

        That’s what I thought too! But if he was hiding it from his wife… why would he tell her good friend?

      2. Artemesia*

        This is what occurred to me as well. There are men who pretend to still be employed when they lose their jobs and their wives don’t know; so maybe there are men who get jobs and also hide that from their wives. Because of this possible concern, I would without apparent guile say ‘I ran into Jay, great news about the job — I’m so glad he found something.’ I certainly wouldn’t ask her ‘why didn’t you want to tell me’ or whatever.

      3. Ann*

        Yikes, I hope that’s not the case! Of course, I don’t know the inner workings of their marriage, but it seems like Kim would know if Jay got a new job just based on their money situation. (They’re a single-income couple.) If they were able to keep up with bills and entertainment and stuff, surely she’d be wondering where the money is coming from?

        1. Artemesia*

          Not if the money is being squirreled away in his own private account. Not likely — but not impossible.

          1. Ann*

            Right, but if he is squirreling the money away, where does she think the money’s coming from to pay for bills, groceries, nightlife, etc.? I guess she could just think they’re burning through their savings, but she’s always handled their household accounts. (Maybe I should have mentioned that in my last comment.) How long could you hide income from the person who’s responsible for handling the income?

            1. Dan*

              Credit cards debt. My ex was clueless, I could do whatever I want with credit card spending, lie my ass off about it, and she’d never be the wiser.

          2. Dan*

            I worked with guys who would have their paystubs sent to the office because they were diverting funds to other accounts.

    6. Newsie*

      Is it possible he’s lying about having a job to save face? Perhaps he doesn’t know Kim has told you about his job woes.

        1. Ann*

          You mean, was Jay aware that I knew that he was unemployed? Definitely. We talked about it right after he got laid off.

      1. Windchime*

        That’s what I was thinking. He really is still unemployed, but fibbed to you about the thing that supposedly happened at work.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I have done this, taken a part time job or a temp position while still looking for another job. It gets tiring to explain this over and over. And some people get really confused, fast. So, my habit was to go to the punchline and skip the rest, as in “Yep, am still looking for a job.”

      I would just say to my friend, “So I am confused here, Jay indicated he had a job that he has been at for 9 months.” Then stop talking.

      Some people get sick of looking and sick of talking about it. So they cut to the point of just saying that they are still interested in finding a new job. After all you have to keep your network engaged and helping you.

    8. MJ*

      Maybe Jay doesn’t know his wife has told all her friends about his unemployment, and he is trying to preserve his privacy by pretending to others he is employed. I would go with telling Kim that you ran into Jay and he mentioned a new job, and then just listen and try not to judge. People do peculiar things when life is stressful!

      1. Ann*

        Yeah, I think I’m going to do this. Before the subject even comes up the next time I see her, I’ll just tell her that I heard the good news from Jay. Maybe she’ll want to explain.

    9. AnonyMostly*

      I’m thinking it’s a job she’s ashamed of too. A coworker’s husband was laid off from a big name company. Anyway, for a few years, she would talk about his unemployment yet she would also criticize other people who were unemployed but didn’t take a job working at the fast food place or anywhere. Anyway, 2 years ago she just up and mentioned he took a job stocking shelves.

    10. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I think that either person could be lying, although who knows why. I would stay out of it until the next time Kim mentions Jay’s job search. Then I would say, “So, I’m confused. I know Jay’s looking for work, but when I ran into him recently, he said something about a job he’s had for the past nine months. Is it a temporary thing?”

  8. EduStudent*

    I’ve noticed lately that, when I get a great deal at the grocery store with a sale or a coupon (or both!), I feel completely thrilled. I feel happy, but much less strongly, with shoes or clothes on sale – I think because I fundamentally need to buy food, but not clothes. Anyway, most of my friends don’t really relate to this, so I thought I’d post here (as random of a choice of topic as it is) and see if any of you do.
    And, if you do, any particular tricks, or success stories? :)

    1. LAMM*

      I feel the same way! I love looking at the “you saved $xx.xx” part of the receipts.

      I’m lazy about it though. The 2 main grocery stores near me have apps where you can download coupons and then either enter your phone number or scan your rewards card and it’ll automatically apply the coupons.

      One store near me will run an extra 5% off groceries (combinable with coupons) once a month or so which is pretty awesome.

      1. Dan*

        I don’t like the “saved $x”. Its a stupid marketing gimic. I keep looking further down the receipt and see how much I spent. That’s the number my bank cares about because I actually have to pay it.

        1. LAMM*

          Oh I know. The smart part of my brain knows this… I keep track of when I’m spending as I add items to my basket and always go in with a budget.

          It still makes me happy though.

        2. SherryD*

          Ooh, I know! When the cashier says, “You saved $5.40 today,” I always want to sass back with, “No, I *spent* $31.” But of course the cashier is just doing their job as directed, so I just give a smile and a thank-you.

        3. OfficePrincess*

          See I think of it as “I spent $60 but I got $90 worth of groceries”. And since it was all stuff I would buy anyway even if I didn’t have a coupon or it wasn’t on sale, I still consider that saving.

          1. Meg Murry*

            But did you really? There are a couple big chains near us that seem to have their sticker prices permanently high, so that they can say how much you saved with their coupons and membership card. In the end, their “you paid $60 for $90” worth of stuff often would be $65-$70 at the other store that don’t use these gimmicks. CVS vs our locally owned drugstore is probably the biggest offender of this in our town, the grocery stores are somewhat like this but not quite as extreme

            1. Meg Murry*

              And I’ll add – I’d rather pay the extra $ at the local store to not have to spend an hour digging through coupons & finding all my membership cards (or signing up for them in the first place). Just offer a fair price for all you items to everyone, every day and I’m happy.

              1. Dan*

                Same here. I do do the loyalty card thing, but not couponing. Wegmans near me has fair prices with few gimmicks. It’s an awesome store, so I go.

                I detest Harris Teeter, but shop there because it’s within a mile of me (Wegmans is 6 miles) and open 24 hours. But I feel dirty every time I walk in there; I know they’re raping me pricewise, and that “you saved $X” just really makes me feel really dirty.

                So yeah, I know I’m paying for convenience. Just don’t try to tell me I’m saving money, because I know I’m not.

                1. Loose Seal*

                  I suppose we don’t get into debates on Sundays but I’d like to point out that being overcharged for groceries is not the same thing AT ALL as being raped.

            2. EduStudent*

              This may be true for store sale prices and membership cards, depending on the store; however, it’s almost certainly not true for manufacturers’ coupons or other discounts that the store does not control. If I present $3 of manufacturer’s coupons, I did save $3 regardless of how much the items originally were, because they are not issued by the store. Similarly, I have an app on my phone called SavingStar that issues rebates on certain items purchased (almost operating like a delayed coupon a few weeks later) across a good variety of stores.

            3. Dan*

              Yes, Harris Teeter does that. They’ve had some sort of pita chips on sale for like two years straight. The sale price is “buy one get one free” and it’s listed at $4.50. When I go to Wegmans, I get the same thing for $2/bag, no sale price.

              1. Anx*

                I don’t mind it so much because I know what’s going on, and despite the high sticker prices I always pay the lowest prices for the best food at HT (for the items I tend to purchase there).

                I go to another store for items that they rarely list on sale. It works for me.

                Couponing doesn’t because almost everything that has a coupon in a non-essential item or has a store brand that’s cheaper anyway. Or you have to buy in bulk which probably works for larger families or people not living paycheck to paycheck.

        4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Eh, it’s more a cookie than a gimic. It gives the majority of people something to feel good about it.

          We use it for big ticket business to business purchase in the day job also , and it works. Say we are making a deal and give somebody free shipping. We don’t put 0.00 or free in the shipping, we put $1281.00 (whatever the shipping cost) and then back out the free shipping with a -1281.00.

          You can go to your boss and say “hey, I scored free shipping on that order” or you can go to your boss and say “Hey, look at this paper where I saved us $1281.00. Aren’t I the bomb.”

          (And yes, I did model our practices after the little grocery tape thrill. It really does work. Most everybody loves a coupon or a discount, even when its not their own money they are spending.)

        5. Artemesia*

          I feel totally manipulated by this nonsense. I am so glad my grocery store dropped the ‘member card’ manipulation. Just sell us the food; don’t make us jump through hoops to save a few pennies. The whole coupon thing is a way to make people with lots of time on their hands to jump these hoops feel productive. It makes me feel like a 50s housewife — an era where a woman’s ‘job’ was to save pennies on household management.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      Truly laughing out loud.

      Yep, grocery shopping is a mini-game for me. I don’t coupon, but back before the days I had the internet to amuse me, I also used to coupon for a hobby.

      What I like is the patterns. There’s absolutely no reason for me to ever pay full price for anything (save a select number of must haves) now that I’ve internalized the sales patterns of the grocery store I go to every week. (The part where I do marketing for a day job means it’s second nature for me to internalize the overall pattern of what the marketers in the store chain are doing.)

      Example: turkey meatballs go on sale for $1.00 off a pound 1 to 2 times per month. Turkey meatballs are a staple for us and there’s a bunch of different ways we use them. They have a 3 week refrigerator span and freeze well. If I walk past the turkey meatballs and they are on sale, I put 5 in my cart. If we run out of turkey meatballs but they aren’t on sale that week, I pass them by. (It’s not so bad to miss a staple for a week or two because it can make the family appreciate it more when the turkey meatballs show back up again.)

      There’s no reason to every pay full price for any Purdue chicken product. My store rotates 40% off Purdue on all of their fresh and prepared products, category by category, nearly constantly, and if there’s nothing Purdue on sale, Tyson is on sale.

      I don’t preplan and my grocery store trips only take me an hour. The price of meat has gone up so much the last year or two that when ground beef hits my ceiling of $2.99 a pound I get disproportionately excited while grabbing a couple packs.

      Lame, but fun, and unlike most fun things, saves money instead of costs ( as long as you use what you buy effectively).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        A chain by me has an 8 week sales rotation. So if you see paper goods that you need you buy 8 weeks worth and you are set until the next sale.

        What happened to me was that I shopped at this chain for years, and I noticed I was eating the same things all the time. Yeah, because they have the same loss leaders every 8 weeks. The rest of their stuff was a little spendy, as much as a dollar more for some items than other stores. It took a while for me to figure it out but now I only pick up the loss leaders in the store and then I get out. I do my regular shopping elsewhere and my grocery bill went down-down.
        The sales are too good to be true, though. A big package of well-known brand towels for 5 bucks. Certain cuts of meat for ridiculously low prices. It’s almost a form of self-discipline to only buy the items on sale and not do the rest of my shopping while I am there.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          That’s a really good point. Acme Markets, in our area, was like that and I shopped them for years before I figured that out.

          The chain I shop now, Shop Rite, has overall good prices but not many imaginative offerings. If we’re bored I have to get a little creative. Rao’s sauce is 8 bucks a bottle ($8 for spaghetti sauce!) but it’s amazing. Combine that with my always-bought-on-sale turkey meatballs and some crusty bakery buns and that’s a dinner we enjoy.

          I get fresh tomato salsa (never on sale ;/) and bags of fresh spinach (always one of the brands on sale) every week and there’s bunches of ways to twist stuff with those ingredients.

          But, yeah, sometimes we’re bored.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            To show how truly lame I am, the fresh tomato salsa that is never on sale, was on sale this week!

            I saved $1.00 and got way more than $1.00 enjoyment out of it. :p

            (unfortunately not an item that one can stock up on)

      2. SherryD*

        Yep! I used to work at a grocery store, and I’d always laugh to myself when I saw people stocking up on certain items at regular price… Don’t they know we put those on special as a loss leader practically every other week? Oh well!

    3. Rebecca*

      I’m organizing my coupons right now. I will freely admit to absconding with coupon booklets from the neighborhood newspaper recycling station when I drop off my bin of newspapers. I only have 3 grocery options here: Weis, Save A Lot, and Walmart, unless I drive 45 + minutes one way to another county. With gas prices the way they are, I make due here 99% of the time. I use SavingStar and load e-coupons to my Weis card too. I can typically cut my bill in half or more.

      There seems to be a rotation for sales, so I buy enough to last until the next sale. I love Arnold’s Sandwich Thins, but they’re expensive, but Weis runs a BOGO sale about every 4-6 weeks. Combined with coupons, I can get 2 packs for around $3.19, so that’s 16 sandwich thins. This week, Turkey Hill Ice Cream is 2/$5 – must buy 2 – and I printed two $1.00 off one coupons from a website, so that’s 2/$3 for me.

      I watch the sales, match up my coupons, and go from there. Save A Lot is my go to for produce, as their prices are a lot cheaper than Weis, but they don’t double coupons. Walmart is my last resort.

    4. Rebecca*

      I’d like to add something – if you stick with the loss leaders, and use coupons to get them even cheaper, AND STICK TO YOUR LIST, you’ll do pretty good. It’s when we stray around, and say, oh, I want that, and that thing over there, and ooooo that looks good too, that we end up spending more money.

      I also watch for marked down meat and either cook it or freeze it immediately. That can add up to some serious savings, especially if it’s already a sale item.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Yeah, for me, I bent too much toward processed foods when I worked on couponing. It’s just not the right choice for me. So I start with the overall style of how I want us to eat and then shop the sales within that. For me that means disciplining myself not to get distracted by Rice A Roni for .10 but always buying just the brown rice instead.

        (meaning, my problem isn’t getting distracted by adding extras but the opposite, getting distracted by buying things that I don’t really want us to have, just because i can get them cheaply)

        1. Artemesia*

          Too true. We eat almost no processed food and most coupons seem to be for ‘products’ and not basic staples, produce, meats etc. When I had kids at home I shopped at the store that had the cheapest prices on milk and bread that we went through tons of. Now I shop at the store with the cheapest price on OJ and go to the farmers market in summer for most of our produce, Trader Joe for wine and cheese and a handful of things they sell well or cheaply like pita chips and large medjool dates, and the French bakery near us for not cheap but really good bread.

        2. Stephanie*

          Same. I clipped coupons for a while and started noticing they were all for products that were essentially different iterations of corn.

          Biggest thing I found to save money were bulk bins and learning when each type of produce was in season.

        3. Rebecca*

          The coupons I use most, and give me the most bang for my buck, are for almond milk, yogurt, cheese, frozen veggies, pet items, salad dressings, croutons, that type of thing. Plus, I’ve gotten spaghetti sauce for shamefully low prices. Toiletries and paper products are another big money saver category for me.

          I am trying to get away from processed foods, and you are right – most of the coupons are for processed foods. But many aren’t, and they save me money and allow me to buy more fresh and non processed items.

        4. Dan*

          I’ll throw in my +1. My “deal seeking” hobby is collecting frequent flyer miles for world travel. In this open thread, I’ve discussed a few places I’ve been.

          I don’t really have the energy (although I have the time) to add couponing to it. I have friends with wives who coupon, and I’ve talked to them about what I’m missing out on. For me, I’m actually not missing out on much!

          I have an apartment, so buying paper products in bulk requires a lot of storage space that I don’t have. I also don’t go through them often enough to really make savings show up on my annual radar. (A year ago March, I bought a bunch of toilet at a good discount. I still have it.) With paper towels, say I go through a roll every two weeks — that’s 26 rolls a year. At a $1/roll, even if I got it free, all I would do is save $26/yr. That’s nothing here in DC.

          Food wise, I shop from the perimeter of the grocery store and cook a lot from scratch. People Who Know Things tell me that those things are rarely discounted with coupons. I also buy a lot of store branded stuff.

          Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever bought rice-a-roni or hamburger helper. I do have a #20 bag of Basmati rice I bought from the Indian market for $20 or so. That lasts me forever.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t feel particularly happy, just gratified that I saved a few bucks. I’ll take the loyalty tracking to be able to buy better items at Dillon’s (Kroger) rather than cheapy cheap on my food all the time, because the card enables me to do that. I do always look at discount stores for stuff I need first. It’s in my mind that I’d probably do that even if I suddenly hit the jackpot–I’d be the millionaire in Walmart jeans checking the flea market for purses.

    6. Felicia*

      I feel like that when I go to a store that does price matching, which here is one of the most common ways to save money , which is awesome because you can take advantage of sales at like 5 stores while only going to one. I also watch Extreme Couponing and feel a little jealous because most of that isnt possible in Canada (apparently its not all possible in the places these peopel are either, sometimes they just do it for the show.) But then on Extreme Couponing they don’t put any value on their time, so if you spend 30 hours a week on couponing like many of them claim, if you put a value on your time it’s not as much saving. And then they have ginormous stock piles of things they either don’t need, or don’t need to keep buying more of every week, and yet they do. That i don’t get and I love that show.

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve noticed that a lot of the people on the Extreme Couponing show are buying tons of processed foods. And they all buy cases of that weird, brightly-colored flavored water stuff. So yeah, maybe they saved 90% of the cost but now they have a garage full of flavored water, razors and Oreo cookies.

        1. Felicia*

          They all buy that! They also buy so much actual candy. Sometimes they save 110% of the cost which is insane. Even if it was stuff they needed, they don’t need that much of it. I remember one lady but 100s of packs of diapers and she didn’t have a baby (she hoped she’d have one soon). , and a lady who probably had enough pads to last through menopause, but still bought more.

          The only one I thought was cool was the one who got fairly decent (though not great) food and lots of toiletries and donated it all to a homeless shelter.

          1. Mints*

            I’m confused by that too! Are they saving for apocalypse?

            I could understand it if they weren’t working temporarily (like a stay at home mom for a year) and they bought canned foods to last a couple years, but like, that stuff actually will expire eventually. What’s the plan?

            Or if it’s for the homeless shelter, that’s a great donation

    7. Mints*

      Totally opposite for me! There are entirely too many products for me to track, and couponing seems overwhelming.
      There are a few things I keep track of to only buy on sale, but most things I’ll buy at sticker price.

      However, cheap clothes are really exciting. I have set points for most clothes, and when I can get cute things on sale, I’m thrilled. This shirt was only $7!

      Annnnd now I want to go shopping

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        Same here. I shop clearance. I don’t use coupons that often. Although there is one store here that regularly mail out $10 coupons and they allow you to use up to 3 discounts. I got my daughter a cute insulated Nike for less than $5. There is also a warehouse here that stocks merchandise, once a month wed-sun, from a lot of the dept/mall stores. I find myself shopping off season and scoring some good deals. I got a AE coat, right before the cold weather hit, for $14 –it usually retail in the store for $99. I got my summer dresses back in Dec the for 5.99. They will be stocked this Wed, I can’t wait.

    8. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I’m the same way, but my thing is bargaining at yard sales. I feel great when I can strike a deal that makes everyone happy.

    9. Jazzy Red*

      I totally relate to that!! I was laid off for 5 months, then I retired, so I have much less money than I did before. When I can find food at a bargain, I feel like celebrating. I use coupons for my twice a month meal “out” as well.

      My advice on this is to forget brand loyalty (most people already have anyway). I always try the store brands to see if they’re OK, but I won’t eat food that doesn’t taste good either. Nothing beats real Cheetos.

  9. CrazyCatLady*

    I’ve been daydreaming about exotic vacations a lot lately. What’s the best vacation you all have been on? What made it awesome?

    1. FD*

      I tend to like to go on annual retreats–vacations where I go alone and if I go out and see the sights, great, but if I don’t, that’s fine too. I’ve gone to Duluth, MN a couple of times and loved it. I go in the fall; the color is *gorgeous*. It’s not too crowded, and you can get reasonable hotels right on the lake if you go in October. There’s a lovely dinner cruise on the lake that’s a lot of fun to, and some museums and other things to see and do.

    2. LAMM*

      I meet up with my family in San Francisco a couple of years ago when they were on a West Coast road trip. It was cool because I got to see them (first time in a couple of years) and spend time with them, but my brother and I were able to breakaway from the parents and see the things that interested us (we are only a year a part so we are pretty close). The Museum of Modern Art was pretty cool. There was also a comic book museum that was… odd. But neat.

      I also really enjoyed going to NYC a few years ago. My step-dad went on a business trip and I tagged along (all it cost was my plane ticket and then the daily expenses). Getting to explore Manhattan by myself was pretty cool, but I just kinda wandered around. Didn’t get to see some of the cool stuff.

      1. Dan*

        Huh. I went to Amsterdam, Prague, Madrid, Barcelona, and Istanbul back in October. Tamhat was awesome too!

        TBH, I have yet to be somewhere outside the USA that wasn’t awesome. I haven’t been to any if the countries on your trip, but they are on my “someday” list.

    3. Dan*

      I went hiking in the rain forest in Borneo. It was awesome because I got to see several wild primates and all kinds of other wildlife.

        1. Dan*

          Yeah, it was was worth the 4 flights and 22 hours of flying time to get over there.

          On my wall, I have two 20″ x 24″ collage prints of the 25 or so animals that I took pictures of.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Favorite: Vietnam. Beautiful, amazing food, fascinating architecture, and Hanoi is incredibly peaceful to stroll around.

      Most interesting: Myanmar. Totally unlike anywhere I’ve ever been. Scary, oppressive government. Really kind, friendly people who want to hear about the rest of the world.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I was in Myanmar this year and it’s definitely more touristy now than it was a few years ago. It’s still not as touristy as Thailand or the other SE Asia countries, but the people were definitely used to westerners. The only influence I saw from the government is the random entrance fees they make foreigners pay. Other than that, great countries, friendly people, and amazing sites (in Bagan in particular).

        On the SE Asia theme, I would say Laos was amazing, especially the town of Luang Prabang.

        If you’re looking for more of a beach theme, then Philippines all the way, particularly the island of Palawan. It’s basically Boracay, but less expensive and less touristy.

        I also LOVED Vietnam and Hanoi as Alison mentioned.

      2. Anon*

        Vietnam is a place I’d go back to in a heart beat! Though i didn’t find Hanoi peaceful – I remember taking my life into my own hands each time I crossed the road, which I started getting great pleasure put of – stepping straight out into oncoming traffic and keep going at a calm pace so all the motorbikes can stream around you – it was a daily thrill! And the food was out of this world too!

    5. Jen RO*

      I haven’t been anywhere really exotic, but…
      * Spain is beautiful and I love that I get to speak Spanish (I took classes a while back and I’m fairly fluent, but I never get an opportunity to speak it!). I haven’t seen many non-touristy places, though.
      * Provence (France) really is gorgeous! I thought it was just hype, but wow. Rent a car and drive around!
      * Cappadocia (Turkey) is just another world. This is probably the most exotic on my list because it’s more remote and it’s harder to get around without a guide of some sort. My boyfriend has some Turkish friends and they came along, it was great! The fairy chimneys (which the region is famous for) are cool, but my favorites were the houses carved into the rocks. (I see that fairy chimneys exist in many places in the US, so maybe they’re not as exotic to the majority of commenters!)

      1. Helka*

        As long as you do speak Spanish, the more obscure parts of Spain can be fantastic. While I was traveling with family back in high school, we got a guided tour of the restoration work being done in Albarracin, and spent some time exploring the area. The town itself is gorgeous — 10th century walled town perched on a mountain, and the surrounding area is great for hiking and visiting prehistoric cave/cliff paintings. It’s a heck of a workout — stairs everywhere, I don’t think there’s any part of the town that’s level and flat — but well worth it.

    6. Alice*

      My boyfriend and I went on a hut-to-hut (basically hostels) hiking tour in Jotenheimen National Park in Norway. It was amazing. There was one day around 6 days in where as we were walking alone through a valley, when we happened upon a herd of Reindeer. It was incredible. The sun and the creek, and the mountains, and the Ramazotti! Absolutely lovely. – A beautiful day in Jotenheimen

    7. Audrey*

      I’m from Australia and I love going to the USA (going to be there in three weeks, yay!) But my most exotic trip was to Antarctica. It was a cruise that started in Valparaiso and ended in Buenos Aires, but we had about four days in the Antarctic and longer than that south of 60 degrees. So many whales, penguins, icebergs, glaciers, mountains, just the most amazing place on earth.

        1. Audrey*

          In the US I love the national parks in the west – the Grand Canyon, and Bryce and Zion Canyons in Utah. Yosemite is literally awesome. One time we drove from Seattle to San Francisco and fell in love with Crater Lake in Oregon. (It was a great drive too – the sequoias are magnificent).

          I love cities – San Francisco, NYC, Seattle. And in Washington DC, the Smithsonian. And the Mall.

          And there are so many places I haven’t been to yet!

    8. Dang*

      I just got back from a cruise to Bermuda. Not what you’d call off the beaten path but it sure was beautiful there!

    9. Nurse-To-Be*

      I did a ten-week overland camping trip through East and Southern Africa a number of years back…without a doubt the greatest trip I’ve ever been on. It’s everything you think it will be, and so much more. Apart from the spectacular scenery and amazing wildlife, the people I met there are some of the friendliest, most hospitable people I’ve ever run across. You don’t go to Africa without being changed in some small way. I loved that trip so much that a few years after that, I was lucky enough to become an overland tour leader leading the ten-week overland trips in Africa, and spent a few years doing that!! If you’ve ever thought about going…go.

      1. Jean*

        Great to read about this and imagine the scenery. Many years ago (after apartheid had ended) I visited small towns and rural areas of the Eastern Cape province in South Africa. The landscape was beautiful: vivid green fields and a clear blue sky. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back so I’m glad for this past experience.

    10. Diet Coke Addict*

      Not exotic, but–touring the Eastern provinces of Canada. Dozens of tiny, rural, gorgeous towns in Nova Scotia, then onto Halifax and its awesome nightlife, toured Cape Breton to go whale-watching and see some of the most gorgeous scenery you’ve ever spotted and stay with too-friendly-to-be-true innkeepers, PEI for the most bucolic and restful and adorable views and endless lobster, New Brunswick for more lobster and deep woods and more strange people than you can shake a stick at.

      Best vacation ever.

      1. saro*

        I SO want to go to Nova Scotia. Probably because of all the Anne of Avonlea books I read as a child.

        1. manomanon*

          PEI used to have (and I imagine still does) a Green Gables museum complete with walking paths like Lovers Lane from the book. It was a little cheesy but really fun!

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            They do! PEI is Anne of Green Gables land, not Nova Scotia, and they do have a TREMENDOUS amount of stuff. Some of it is fairly neat–it is a bit cool to see the AoGG house and some of Montgomery’s other homes that places in her books were based on–but some of it is very touristy, and not everybody is up for the “Anne of Green Gables musical extravaganza attended by devotees wearing hats with red braids attached followed by bottled cordial at the Anne of Green Gables tourist store” and all that.

            But PEI in generally is just lovely in the summer and the beaches are awesome.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          It’s a bit cheating since I was living in NB at the time, but it was really a treat to be able to do all the touristy stuff that I never really got the chance to do otherwise!

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Hmm, that’s tough. I haven’t been on many vacations, even if you count family ones. Anyplace near the ocean is a big thing for me, since I’m landlocked (and hate it). I’ll let you know when I get back from the UK, because I have a feeling that will be the one.

    12. Artemesia*

      I once did some work in Singapore and took a side trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia for several days to tour the Angkor complex. It was about 12 years ago before the recent surge in hotels and tourists — they were building about 10 hotels between the airport and the town when I was there but I stayed in an old French colonial hotel in the center of town. I had a private guide for 3 days — it was just awesome.

      I have also done a week twice on St. John — renting a condo and a jeep and going to a different small beach each day and spending the day sitting in my beach chair with my cooler under a palm tree, eating and drinking, reading, and every so often snorkeling off the beach. It is a fabulous place for snorkeling easily from shore — gorgeous reefs and wonderful fish and turtles. Pretty much paradise and doesn’t have that touristy feel — about half the island is National Park (where you can stay in tent cabins if you like — I prefer the condo.)

    13. Katie NYC*

      Cambodia – spent time in a quiet lodge in rain forest, loved Ankor Wat, could live like a queen for little money.
      Samana Peninsula in the DR – best beaches I’ve ever been to, good food, nice people, all the amenities I needed, but not too touristy. 3 hour flight. I decided not to bother with exotic beaches in the likes of souteast asia after that trip.
      Mexico – 5 trips so far and I’ll keep on going back. Can’t beat it for the beaches, food, archaeological sites, old colonial cities and efficient public transportation. If you want a luxury hotel, they’ve got that. If you want to backpack around, you can do that too.

    14. lai*

      I’m at the airport right now heading to south Korea and Japan, so I’ll let you know about all the amazing things when i get back in 2 weeks! Although reading the other replies is already making me think about the next place i want to go!

        1. Phyllis*

          I spent a month in Japan back in the late seventies. It was: beautiful, congested, and amazing. We were there in the spring when the cherry trees were in bloom. Gorgeous!! Went to Kyoto; that was awesome. The people were extremely friendly and helpful. We got a lot of attention because we are all blondes (my mother sister and I) and my brother-in-law is extremely tall (6’6″). We never lost him in a crowd. The only things I didn’t like was (in the large cities) there were SO MANY people; I felt like I was going to be swallowed up. The other thing was the toilets.

          What I DID like was the beauty of the countryside, the people, and the food. In spite of the toilets I would go back in a heartbeat!! One thing we got tickled about; we were forever being approached by students asking permission to practice their English. However, our Southern accents would throw them a bit. All-over a wonderful experience.

          1. Anonsie*

            Hah, I love Japanese toilets. I didn’t want to like the pit toilets, but I have come around and I now believe them to be vastly superior. It’s also great to bypass the line of Westerners in any given bathroom waiting for the one handicap stall and go into a pit stall.

            When the kids with the English homework are having a hard time (and they always seem to be) I answer in Japanese, tell them what that is in English and explain it if they don’t seem to catch on right away. They always seem relieved, and I hope it’s maybe more helpful than if I just used English anyway… Slash, they always seem really embarrassed and I feel for them!

    15. Stephanie*

      I’m reading a book about Brazil and want to go there someday. Southeast Asia and South Africa also sound awesome.

    16. Windchime*

      Maui. I’ve been twice and am planning to go again in January. There is just something about that place that immediately feels relaxing and laid back. I’m always planning (in my head, not in reality) how I can chuck my entire life and spend the rest of it working from home from my lanai.

      It’s just very quiet. There isn’t a lot of glittery, noisy activity. I mostly like to sit and watch the petals blowing across the lawn, or sit on the beach and watch the water. Last time, I waded around in the water and collected bits of coral and interesting rocks that washed up. It just felt so slow and peaceful and really helped me to mentally clear my mind.

    17. The Cosmic Avenger*

      A bit late on this, but the best would probably be our Tanzanian safari. I took over 1400 pictures, mostly of wildlife, and our daughter REALLY loved it. Tanzania has a good combination of stability and preservation, with a wonderful park system. Seeing a black rhino, lion cubs, and baby elephants is something I’ll never forget. French Polynesia is also amazing, especially if you can get away from Papeete and out to the really remote islands like the Marquesas, or even just Rangiroa and Bora-Bora. The history, the art, and the marine life could each be the focus of a whole vacation.

    18. Nicoya*

      Nicaragua is beautiful! I have family there, but apparently it’s becoming a sort of trendy for hard core travelers. (Hardcore because there a bunch of more popular places to visit in the Caribbean/Latin America)
      Nicaragua has gorgeous nature, there’s jungle, lakes, volcanoes. The volcanoes are actually really fascinating because there are a few that aren’t mountains, but are flat areas with magma. There’s even one in a valley, with a lake on top. (Masaya). So you can tell people you went swimming on a volcano and nobody will believe you.
      There are also quite a few historic sites, from colonial times, with amazing churches a few centuries old.

      It’s also really safe, compared to some parts of Latin America there’s basically no drug dangers.

      Tourists also say Nicaraguans are incredibly nice, welcoming, and humble. Which I totally agree with, but am unsure if it sound braggy to say about myself, ha

      I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants a more off the beaten track, but still safe and fun trip to Latin America / Caribbean

    19. Cath in Canada*

      Cuba! Amazing culture, beautiful cities, beaches, and countryside, and OMG the music… every bar, cafe, and highway rest stop has its own band. I missed it so much when I came back – I went to my favourite Vancouver sandwich shop and thought “where’s the band?” Puerto Rico was an easier holiday, with better food, but without that musical element.

      I also really loved last year’s vacation – I went to a conference in Berlin, then took the train to Prague, flew to Kiev to visit my brother-in-law and his family, then back to Prague where my own family flew over from the UK to join us, then Rothenburg ob den Tauber (ridiculously picturesque town that looks like it was built purely to sell postcards), then back to Berlin at the end.

      And I guess I should also list my trip to Canada when I was 20, which I enjoyed so much that I moved here at my earliest opportunity.

    20. Mephyle*

      1) I just visited Austria for the first time and it was a lot more interesting than I expected. Can’t wait to go back.

      2) A couple years ago circumstances came together to send me on a road trip along the middle section of Interstate 80 across the so-called flyover states (NE>OK>IA>IL). It was the best thing ever. There was so much to see and do. We had to pass up half a dozen interesting sites and sights for every one that we did have time to stop and see. How I would love to have the chance to do it again, but take a month instead of 5 days.

      3) I had always looked down on all-inclusives. But a couple of months ago, I had the chance to go to Club Med (the original all-inclusive) in Ixtapa, and it was great! It quite changed my thinking on the concept, and on Club Med in particular.

  10. Stephanie*

    Has anyone used Warby Parker or a similar online glasses retailer? I was trying to delay getting new glasses (due to no vision insurance at the moment), but my prescription’s changed enough that I’m starting to get headaches and minor eyelid spasms from eye strain. I’ve got a pretty strong prescription (around -8.00D with astigmatism), so glasses tend to cost a small fortune most places.

    I’ve gotten my last couple of pairs at Costco, but the greater selection online is tempting.

    Thoughts? Does the lack in-person assistance make a difference?

    1. Trixie*

      I’ve used Zenni optical twice now, and overall very happy both times. First was three pairs for me totaling at $75, and recently two complicated bifocal pairs for my mom at $120 total. We looked at costco but the glasses were way to expensive before we even added in frames. Strongly recommend including them in your comparison shopping.

      1. Beth Anne*

        I 2nd Zenni! I have been using them for at least 5 years (probably longer) and have never had an issue. The only issue I’ve ever had was sometimes they take 2-4 weeks to get them which can be a pain. And if you have fancy stuff like bifocals like my mom some lenses won’t work.

        If you need your glasses faster you can use they have overnight shipping and faster processing for a little more but still cheaper than the stores.

      2. MaggiePi*

        My husband and I have both used zenni for 2 or 3 pairs so far and been happy with them. These glasses cost 10% of my last “real” pair and have much better anti glare!

      3. Naomi*

        I love Zenni! I just got a pair of prescription sunglasses from them for 1/10 the price I’d pay in a store.

    2. Trixie*

      Assuming you already have current prescription, you’ll need your pd measurement which they’ll have on file. I also tried get similar size lenses/frames so the fit would be similar to what she has now.

    3. Al Lo*

      I used Clearly Contacts (Canadian company), and my prescription was about as bad as yours, although no astigmatism. It was a great experience. The glasses, even with all my upgrades, were enough cheaper than anywhere else that I got 2 pairs, which was awesome. Both pairs actually had to be returned (one because they sent the wrong color; the other because I ordered something that looked dumb on me), and the return and re-send process was totally painless.

      I know that can vary company-by-company, but I think most online glasses retailers have to have that sort of flexibility in order to gain any sort of customer base, simply because glasses are one of those things that just needs to be seen in person before you know 100% whether it’ll work.

      I had no problem with the lack of finding glasses in a store. Clearly Contacts has (and I’m sure many others do, too) a feature where you can upload a picture of your face and “try” different glasses on that. It’s not 100% accurate, but it at least gives a sense of scale. With Clearly Contacts, I could also sort by size, so if I liked my previous frames, I could measure them and find glasses in a similar size profile.

      I got LASIK a couple of years ago, so I haven’t needed glasses since — but not long ago I ordered my first-ever pair of completely cosmetic frames with no prescription from Clearly Contacts, and it cost me about $15 for shipping and tracking, since I had a coupon code for free glasses, and with no upgrades, it was so easy!

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I haven’t actually used this site (also had laser eye surgery a year ago), but a couple friends have used Clearly Contacts and have had pleasant experiences.

    4. Katie*

      I’m wearing my Warby Parker’s right now! I found the whole experience to be very easy; their customer service was really great and is something they are known for. I think if you were unhappy, they’d definitely help rectify that. Oh, and do the at-home frame try on-that’s the fun part!

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I have 4 pairs of glasses and one pair of prescription sunglasses from WP and have had a great experience every time. Try on a few pairs by mail to see what you like.

        That said, I have pretty simple corrections in both eyes and I have no idea how they do with corrections for astigmatism. I bet if you called them they’d be able to figure out if they could meet your needs.

    5. Loose Seal*

      I have a really strong prescription, bifocals, with astigmatism in one eye. I’ve found that many of the online retailers don’t provide lenses for my eyes or, if they do, they are no cheaper than brick-and-mortar stores locally. I suppose you could buy the frames and then take them to a local store to get lenses fitted but I’m always worried that certain frames won’t accommodate my lenses.

      My last pair of lenses was $700 (!) and I didn’t even get the absolutely thinnest ones or any upgrades like Transitions.

      1. Stephanie*

        I only need single-vision lenses, but I noticed that as well. To get lenses that don’t like Milton’s (from Office Space), it was sort of pricey (edge polish, high-index, etc).

        1. Loose Seal*

          I am always so jealous when people say they got their glasses for a trivial amount. And since it was so cheap, they have lots of pairs and trade them out like accessories. I have this one pair. I cannot imagine getting another one in case I feel like wearing something different. I have no idea what I’d do if these broke since I can’t get same-day lenses made. I guess I’d stay home, squinting, since I certainly can’t drive without them.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Have you looked at Zenni? I know they have bifocal options, and I have astigmatism and have never had a problem. Love them!

            1. Loose Seal*

              Yeah, they do have options for really bad vision but they come out to cost just as much as Lenscrafters. And if that’s the case, I’d rather go into the store.

          2. Stephanie*

            I have no idea what I’d do if these broke since I can’t get same-day lenses made. I guess I’d stay home, squinting, since I certainly can’t drive without them.

            I was heading to a job interview last year and my glasses snapped in half when I went to swap them for sunglasses. I had this super awkward call to the manager like “Um, my glasses broke and I can’t see without them or even drive over to the interview. Can we reschedule?” They were able to reschedule and I went home and got my backup pair. Of course, the interview went horribly and I ended up not getting the job.

            1. Ezri*

              One of the nose-pads on my specs popped off as I was walking to class my freshman year of college. It vanished into the grass and was never seen again, despite fifteen minutes of frantic searching. I had to take the bus to the Sears in the mall while holding my glasses straight on my face with one hand. Glasses emergences are the worst. :P

    6. Meghan*

      Is that the one where you can get several options mailed to you? If so, it’s great! My friend used it and brought all his options to the bar one night, and we all picked out his new glasses. :) That’s the route I’m going to go for my next pair, it’s so nice to try them on in your own time and in your own environment.

    7. summercamper*

      I used Coastal and their “First Pair Free” promotion to get a new pair of glasses for $15. I like my glasses and have worn them for a year now – it’s a good deal.

      The glasses I’d had before were from a really high-end place (SEE) and included some specific measurements on the inside of the frame – something about the distance across the bridge and the total distance across the “face” of the glasses. Coastal lets you use these measurements to search for frames that have similar measurements. I think doing that (I was really happy with my previous frames and the way they fit) contributed to my positive experience. Try doing the same with your online shopping – I think it will help.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Yay for the first pair free at Coastal! I don’t shop there generally, cause Zenni is cheaper, but you can’t beat that first pair.

    8. BB*

      Get contact lenses. Cheaper than frame and lenses. You can wear those until you are ready to buy glasses again.

      1. Stephanie*

        I’ve thought about contact lenses, but I’m pretty absent-minded and worry I’ll fall asleep with them in. But my allergies have gotten better and there are times contact lenses would be nice (like at the gym). I used to fall asleep with my glasses on ALL THE TIME, but have gotten better about that. How’d you get over the hump of getting used to having things on your eye all the time?

        1. BB*

          The only time I’ve worn contacts was when I played sports in high school (which was a long time ago) and if I know I’ll be participating in something where my glasses would get in the way which has been once several years ago.

          You do not feel anything on your eyes, though. It’s not like wearing glasses where you see it in your field of vision. If you are worried you’ll forget to take them out before going to bed just stick a post-it sign on your bathroom mirror so when you go to brush your teeth, you’ll remember. Or you can also set a new alarm on your cell phone to go off before bed and name it: take out contact lenses. :) On the other hand, if you leave the contact lens solution bottle and lens case on the bathroom counter, you’ll probably remember what to do then, too.

          You’ll get used to it to the point where you won’t need a post-it note to remind you take it out.

          1. Sloop*

            I have daily contacts. My prescription isn’t *that* bad and only bought a 6 month supply. I don’t wear them every day (I don’t drive every day and have glasses at my desk for days I need to see at work and don’t wear the contacts) and between a pair of glasses at both my desk and in my car from Zenni, and my 6 months of contacts, it ran me $225 for the year.

            1. CH*

              Yes, that’s the other thing. There are many options as far as contact lenses goes. Soft lenses, hard lenses, dailies, extended wear, disposable ones.

    9. Glasses*

      My wife has warby’s and my next pair will be a well. She loves them and had a great experience

    10. De Minimis*

      I need to try something like that….think there is a strong optometry lobby or something in my state, so there aren’t really good low-cost options in stores [we don’t have Costco here and apparently Sam’s Club locations here either can’t or won’t provide eyewear.]

  11. Ash (the other one!)*

    Sort of work related but more about fashion–

    How do people (a) carry heels to work when commuting and (b) carry their lunch? My new job requires a bit of a step up fashion wise, so need the heels but still have a bit of a walk to the metro. I hate to carry a huge bag just for shoes…

    And new workplace doesn’t have as many gluten free places as my previous one so I will need to pack a lunch. Again, I like to be fashionable and don’t really want to carry an ugly lunch bag or even multiple bags…

    So yea, silly questions but interested to hear from the hive…

    1. Hermione*

      Are you able to leave a pair of heels or two under your desk/in the bottom drawer? That’s what I do, and then just wear my usual ballet flats or boots on the train and switch shoes once I got to my desk.

      As to lunch boxes, I have no idea!! I don’t have that long of a commute, and tend to carry a large purse, so I just toss the 1-2 rubbermaid tupperware containers in my bag. I keep metal cutlery at my desk + just wash them in the office kitchen instead of lugging them back and forth, and most of the time there’s some picksies at my desk – cereal or trailmix or similar stored in that same drawer, so I’m not lugging much around. I did a preliminary search + most lunchboxes are very visibly lunchboxes, from what I can tell. :(

      1. Elysian*

        Yup, this is what I do. Heels live in my desk drawer, and I change my shoes when I get to work.

    2. Jen RO*

      Around this part of the world, women usually save those cardboard-ish shopping bags from clothing stores and carry their lunch in them.

    3. Celeste*

      I leave nice shoes in a drawer but then I don’t have a varied wardrobe and lots of shoes for work. If I had to commute on the metro I think I’d just put everything into a backpack for a one-stop answer though lunch would all be in a separate holder to contain it better.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      Basically agreeing with everyone else. I left several pairs of shoes at work in my drawer (I’m a bit of a shoeholic so that’s at least 5 pairs at a time for me). I have a fairly large purse that can easily fit my lunch so that’s what I do.

    5. Sarahnova*

      I have a laptop bag/backpack which I use to carry my heels or work shoes during my commute, and my gym gear or snacks when needed.

    6. Anonymous*

      Can you leave a couple of pairs of basic heels at work and change when you get there? Carrying shoes is a PITA so if you can avoid it I would. I’d get an insulated lunch box and carry it straight in my bag before I’d carry an additional lunch bag, but I’m a minimalist in terms of carrying stuff around with me, so YMMV. I like to be fashionable, but at some point I accepted that I would prefer a simple solution to impeccable presentation so I just got a reasonably nice bag big enough to carry my lunch and called it a success.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        A while back someone mentioned some sophisticated lunch bags that were available on Amazon. I can’t remember what they were called and would be grateful if someone could provide a link.

    7. MaryFade*

      My favorite lunch bag is from a company called Built. There are lots of them on Amazon. They are made of neoprene so can be easily washed if something leaks.

    8. KAZ2Y5*

      I can’t help with the shoes since I get to wear tennis shoes every day :-) but I can help with the lunch bags. I buy lunch bags like some ladies buy purses, so I have quite a few. I have one from the Built brand that has been mentioned but also quite a few from ebags dot com (I’m trying to be sneaky and not get caught in the filter!). If you go to the website, look for the ebags brand of lunch bags. I have the Lunch Cooler, the Bistro Lunch Tote (which could double as a purse depending on how much stuff you want to put in it) and the Crew Cooler II (which I use sometimes when I am working the night shift and need to take 2 meals plus snacks and drinks).
      And I will probably watch this part of the thread to see if there is any other lunch bag I need. It is an illness….

    9. Persephone Mulberry* has some excellent posts and discussions on how to navigate a walking commute.

    10. Laura*

      I have a fairly long commute for my area (not as bad as by public transportation, which would make it two hours one way – yikes), so I use an insulated lunch bag. You can get them for about $10-30 and *now is the time* because of back to school sales and possible savings.

      Many of them are designed to be sophisticated or nice-looking; it’s not all cute and cartoon characters. And as soon as I’m in my office, the bag is out of sight anyway….

    11. salad fingers*

      I bike commute so though I’d prefer a stylish, large shoulder bag, I use a backpack sort of out of necessity (cute leather one if the weather is nice, ugly jansport if there’s any chance of rain on the way home). Like most seem to be saying, I wear sandals/boots in depending on the weather and have shoes in the office. This seems to be the norm where I work, but it might be worth bringing your shoes with you to change into before entering the office for a week or so to check out how other people in your office tend to operate if you’re uncomfortable.

    12. Rayner*

      Shoes at work, and just rotate them every so often – say, every one to three weeks. Provided they’re pretty standard and not statement pieces, nobody’ll will notice you’re wearing the same three pairs over and over. Consider also investing in some fancier flat shoes if you think you can get away with it or boots for in the winter because come the million white flakes, most people will just switch or stick with one pair of shoes in the office and on the commute.

      I like actual tupperware which stacks, so you can have three different courses or one level for snacks and two for lunch. You can buy smaller click boxes which have much less chance of leakage. Try amazon for them, and you can just store them in the fridge.

    13. local gov't worker*

      What else do you need to carry? I have a Lo and Sons OMG bag that is supposed to be able to carry shoes (my work computer is too large, and I don’t have a long walking commute, so I haven’t tested that part). I have used it when I have had two-day conferences.

    14. anon in tejas*

      I keep about 4 sets of heels at my office. Most are super neutrals and I change from flats (if necessary) daily. I also carry a big tote, in which I bring lunch and other stuff I need (this week it’s my lap top and some book that I am studying). I also tend to bring a lot of snacky food on one day of the week and eat that for lunch/snacks throughout the week. So this week in the fridge I have salad greens, some whole salad veggies, salad dressing, hummus, pita, and a few frozen dinners.

    15. Anonsie*

      For the lunch thing, that’s what always gets me. What you need to do is get lunch containers that are slim one way or another & watertight so they fit in your tote bag no problem. I have two types: Multiple narrow and deep ones (glass from Lock & Lock brand, which have really good seals on them) that stack on top of one another in my bag and one wide flat one that can be turned on its side in the bag for things that don’t fit in the narrower ones, like sandwiches.

  12. Trixie*

    I’ve developed quite the celebrity crush on Donal Logue. Love so much about his work and interests, but mostly the fact that he’s part owner of trucking company in the PNW and maintains a commercial driver’s license for truck driving. Something so down to earth about that.

    Pretty sure we’d hit it off if we ever met. Maybe next time I’m in L.A. :P

    1. Tomato Frog*

      I know nothing about him personally (except what you just told me) but I approve. I liked Grounded for Life and I loved Terriers.

      You should have some comments prepared in case you meet, so you don’t get tongue tied.

    2. Lisa*

      He seems charming in person too – I went to the Emmy-award “for your consideration” screening for Vikings and he was definitely the star of that panel. Lots of personality, and like a lot of actors even more attractive in person!

  13. Dan*

    Does anybody have any experience with Delayed Phase Sleep Disorder? I saw it mentioned here a week or two.

    Is it a sham diagnosis or legit? I probably have it, and am curious if it’s worth getting a formal diagnosis.

    As a “for instance,” I was drowsy all day, took a 30 minute nap at 9pm with the lights and music on, and will probably go to sleep around 2 am or 3 am. If I would have just “went to bed” at 9 when I was tired, I would have gotten three hours of sleep and woke up at midnight. Forget going back to sleep before 6am.

    1. kas*

      I think I have the same problem. I usually take my nap around 10/10:30 and wake up between 12 and 2. Minus the nap I end up getting 4 – 6 hours of sleep. If I go to bed at 10 when I start to get tired, I wake up way too early and can’t go back to sleep. It’s frustrating.

    2. AMD*

      Have you tried melatonin? 1-3mg an hour before your ideal bedtime, can increase that up to 10mg if needed (I would bump it by a milligram every two weeks.) I have heard of people who need to take it several hours before their intended sleeping time, though, so you’d need to experiment.

      1. MJ*

        You should not take melatonin without fully researching it. There can be side effects and interactions with other medications you are taking. It can mask other symptoms so that the actual cause of your problem may not be addressed. It is a synthetic hormone, and adjustments to one hormone in your body can affect the levels of other hormones in your body. Medline Plus has a fairly concise, easy to read write-up on it.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’ve taken it on occasion. No major side effects, but it gives me some weird dreams (perhaps that is a side effect).

      2. Dan*

        Yes, I take it every night. But it only works when I start feeling drowsy. Many nights when I’m drowsy, I’ll just lay there and not actually go to sleep; melatonin works wonders. I’ll be out in 30 minutes.

        But if I try to go to bed at say 10 when I’m wide awake, I can triple my dosage and it won’t do a darn thing.

    3. Bea W*

      It’s legit. Circadian rhythms, which affect when we sleep and wake, can be whacky. If it’s really a something that is interfering with your life, it’s worth getting help to normalize your sleep patterns.

      Left to my own devices my body naturally returns to a delayed clock, and it will happen very quickly – over the weekend if I’m not careful. Taking time off work gets hairy. I’ll end up on a roughly a 3 AM – 11 AM sleep schedule. I can’t go to bed much before 11 or midnight. When I do, I keep waking up and don’t sleep well. If I went to bed at 9, forget it! I’d be up at midnight same as you. So I stopped going to bed early. It’s been much better for me to get a full 6 hours of sleep (midnight to 6 AM) vs. 8 hours of iffy fragmented sleep where I don’t feel rested. I do have to conciously start winding down around 11 PM though, otherwise, I could easily be up until about 2 AM without noticing how late (or early) it has gotten.

      This also means I am not a morning person, and I need a ridiculous amount of lead time in the AM (2 hours) to make it out the door in time for work. I just do not function well. It doesn’t matter if I’ve gotten to sleep early, morning is not my time of day.

      1. Dan*

        I’m lucky; my professional life has generally flexible schedules. I seriously get to work around 11 and nobody cares. At my last job, I was in at 1030 :)

        But I always worry what will happen if I ever have to get a job that requires a permanent schedule change. While I’ve had the occasional 8 am meeting, I can suck it up for a one time thing.

        I did have a job right after college where I had to be to work at 5am. I did it for six months, never adjusted, and never got more than 6 hours of sleep (I need closer to 8). I was always drowsy and lethargic after work and couldn’t get anything done. After six months of that, I threw in the towel.

    4. Loose Seal*

      Yes, it’s in the DSM5 and has an ICD code (for medical diagnoses) as well.

      It’s under Circadian Rhythm Sleep-Wake Disorders. There are a lot of sub-types, one of which is Delayed Sleep Phase Type, described as “a pattern of delayed sleep onset and awakening times, with an inability to fall asleep and awaken at a desired or conventionally acceptable earlier time.” [Note that I’m not diagnosing you. I’m just quoting a book that’s right in front of me.]

      If it’s affecting your work and you need to ask for an accommodation (like for a siesta break), I’d get it diagnosed. You could probably start by going to your primary physician for referral to a sleep lab.

    5. Anx*

      I am not so sure about the ‘legitamacy’ of the diagnosis. I tend to lean toward it not being a real disease of the body and brain so much as being an inability to conform to socially constructed sleep patterns. It’s more of a disability to me than a disease.

      I am undiagnosed, although my therapist believes there’s a strong possiblity of having it. I never outgrew being a night owl. When unemployed, I slip into patterns that cause depression. I get depressed when I sleep during the day and stay up all night.

      I am the same way with naps. I get so tired at 10pm, but it’s not ever ‘go to sleep tired.’ It’s just a sleepiness that I have to power through (and get a terrible ‘second wind’ after) or wake up in the middle of the night. That in itself isn’t DSPD. Do you find yourself drowsy during the day no matter how much sleep you get?

    6. Just Visiting*

      One thing to remember is that human beings did not evolve to have eight hours of unbroken sleep. (There are multiple sources confirming this, Google “bimodal sleep.”) Up until the Industrial Revolution, it was normal to sleep twice, more normal than sleeping all in a chunk. Splitting it up can lead to much more restful sleep. What I often do is take a one hour nap when I get home, then go to bed around 1:00 AM (waking up at 6:30 or 7:00).

      I mean, if you really want to sleep long I’m sure there are doctors who will take your money. But what you’re describing doesn’t sound like a “disorder” to me. It sounds like your body is telling you to sleep twice.

      1. Anx*

        I am familiar with the concept of bimodal sleep, but I think a lot of employment situations make it nearly impossible to carry out for many individuals.

        Why do you think some people are able to conform to a single 6-8 hour sleep cycle during the night while others suffer throughout their lives trying to adapt?

    7. sleepynomore*

      Yes, a real thing, and can be treated with light therapy. I recommend getting seen at a sleep clinic.

  14. Maggie*

    Our daughter got married yesterday! Beautiful wedding & super fun reception. Now life can calm down again.

  15. Risa*

    I keep heels under my desk at work, and wear sneakers or ballet flats for my commute. I change them when I get in the office – no need to carry anything to and from. I do carry an extra insulated lunch bag when I bring my lunch in.

  16. Trixie*

    I’m filming a group exercise class tomorrow and in preparation, did a practice filming today. I can see why this is so helpful for interviews or skyping. TOtally different perspective than how you see yourself. Trying to remember all the mental notes on my performance but all i can think is I may need a different top so I’m not flashing the camcorder.

    Wish me luck!

    1. Fish Microwaver*

      Good luck. It’s true what you say about being filmed. Gives you a totally new and maybe shocking perspective.

  17. CoffeeLover*

    I have a comment relating to the format of the open threads (the one on Friday and Sunday). While I like having the “work only” Friday thread, I would actually prefer for the Sunday thread to be a free for all (work and non-work related). I wanted to see if anyone else felt this way…

    1. CanadianDot*

      People are still replying to the Friday thread on Sunday, so you probably could still post work-related stuff over there on Sundays.

      I know this because I checked the “Notify me of follow-up comments” box on last week’s Friday thread, and got a million and one emails for several days.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I much prefer keeping them separate. I would love for more people to get in the habit of checking back on the open thread(s) beyond the post date!

        1. Dan*

          I honestly don’t. When they get to 1000+ posts, it’s just too much to refer back to. And that’s for threads I’ve commented in — forget about someone adding a new topic after about 1pm on Friday.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you say more about why you’d prefer that? My sense has been that people are pretty happy with this split, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts.

      1. Dan*

        You run a workplace advice blog. It’s really great to have a work-only discussion given the popularity of those posts. For those of us who want to weigh in and not get distracted, the limitation makes a lot of sense.

        The thing is, after 1pm on Friday, it gets pretty jammed with posts and hard to sort through. I know that if comment #900 is asking for advice, I’ll never read that far.

        I get the idea of having a “free for all” thread, but I think you get a little strict on what counts as work related and therefore booted. Someone a couple of weeks ago was asking about grad school advice and the thread got closed. Is grad school about *school* (and therefore not work) or is it about work since you theoretically go to get a job?

      2. CoffeeLover*

        My feelings are similar to what Dan pointed out. Given that this is primarily a work related blog, I feel like work related questions should be welcomed at all times. Once the Sunday thread begins, the Friday thread generally rests forgotten. If I have a pressing work question (which I find actually happens to me more on Sunday than on Friday since I’m heading back to work the next day), I feel I can’t really ask because I’m unlikely to get responses on the Friday thread and I’m not allowed to ask on Sunday.

        The reason I like the Friday thread is because I previously found work related questions would get lost in the chaos of non-work related ones. It felt like people would be less likely to get good responses on their work questions if there were a lot of non-work conversations (although I do like those on the Sunday thread). I feel like if I’m ok “competing” with non-work related posts, then I should be able to ask my work question on Sunday.

        Honestly though, I’m not sure if this is the best solution for me. Maybe it’s a matter of having more open threads (work and non-work) or switching the work thread to Sunday (not sure how others would feel about that though).

      3. CanadianDot*

        Had you thought of maybe starting a forum? Not necessarily somewhere that you go to answer questions, but then people could have work and non-work related discussions any day, but it would probably be a lot easier to navigate.

        1. Fucshia*

          I think a forum would be great too. Main post could be stickied for the day, and then unrelated discussions wouldn’t interfere. The only downside would probably moderating the site.

          1. De Minimis*

            I think a forum would probably be blocked at my workplace—this current format seems to be okay I guess due to whatever particular attributes it uses [which is odd because most site’s commenting platforms are blocked here in that they never load, Disqus is a good example.]

            Forums are a ton of work and headache.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Forums can be a real pain to deal with, both technically and moderation-wise — they suck up a lot of time and resources. I actually like the current set-up and think the current division of open threads is working pretty well (but also am interested in hearing input when people have it).

      4. Not So NewReader*

        This brings back my thought of an “ER”, for emergencies.

        I think that there will always be someone who JUST had something come up and they absolutely need to talk it over. (Not being snarky, this is how life/work is.)

        Compounding matters is the fact that the better you are at doing something then the MORE people will come with their questions and concerns. It’s a left-handed compliment.

        My thought is, Alison, would you allow people to post on the Sunday forum that they put a new question on the Friday forum and they are hoping someone would answer?

        Yikes. Does that make sense?

        I am suggesting is a post on the Sunday forum like this:

        “I know today is Sunday but I just put a work question on Friday’s forum. If anyone has a minute to check it out and reply, I would really appreciate it.”

        Would you allow for people to do that?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think that will probably add more clutter to the posts than I’d prefer, unfortunately. Ultimately, I think it comes down to the fact that the site can’t be absolutely everything to everyone 24/7. There are always going to be trade-offs.

    3. Liz in a Library*

      I strongly prefer them separate, myself, so that I can choose whether I want to read work advice or general chat without missing out on anything or having to follow both threads.

      I assumed (but could very easily be wrong) that the reason for the initial split was so that the people who didn’t want non-work chat could still see all work-related conversation.

        1. De Minimis*

          I think it just got too unwieldy, and separating work from “everything else” just seemed like the best way to do it.

          As we’ve been doing it, I’ve changed my tune a bit, I have managed to participate in and enjoy the Sunday thread, and as you can see it’s still getting a lot of action on Monday.

    4. BRR*

      I prefer them to be separate. In addition to the practical aspect of comment size management I like having the topics separated. I don’t know if I’d particularly want to read more work questions on sunday after I did on friday. If it was the first time it wouldn’t be a problem but twice in a week is a bit much for me. There are two problems people seem to have with separate threads:

      1)Things getting lost on friday/ being posted too late so people don’t get answers. But having a sunday free for all doesn’t solve that issue as it could just as easily get lost on sunday. The sunday thread was really a bonus anyways and was created just to divert comments from friday. It served as a way to help those posting on friday can get more attention than they would otherwise. It has reduced friday’s by hundreds of comments.

      2)Borderline questions. I don’t have any thoughts on how to handle them. It’s tricky. Someone smarter than me probably will come up with a good solution and I support that 100%.

      1. StudentA*

        I agree with BRR. I think the alternative would be impossible. Keep them separate. If folks have a work-related question, it makes sense to post it on the Friday thread. I’ve done that and still gotten responses.

    5. So Very Anonymous*

      I like them being separate because I’m less interested in the nonwork questions and can decide whether or not I want to look at the Sunday open thread.

      One thing, though — I’ve had a couple of times where I would have liked to post something on the Friday work-related thread and didn’t feel comfortable doing so because I was at work. I don’t generally access sites from my phone (I can, I just really hate reading/writing on my phone because the screen is so small). By the end of the day there are so many comments on the Friday thread that it seems like a waste of time to post, since I doubt that anyone will bother to read that far down. A weekend open thread for work questions would be nice, and might help keep the Friday work thread more manageable?

      1. BRR*

        If you have a question can you pretype it out perhaps in your email and just copy and paste it to the site?

  18. Sharm*

    Any seamstresses out there? Looking for some thoughts on alternations.

    Now, I will say at the outset I know you are generally told to buy a larger size of clothing if you want to get it altered, because it’s easier to take something in than let it out. Recently, I bought a dress for work in two sizes because I wasn’t sure how I’d fit in the brand. In the smaller size, the top half fits perfectly, but the bottom half is too snug. It’s not uncomfortable, but it’s tighter around my hips than I’d like and I think if the slit were a bit higher, it’d feel freer. But here’s the thing. The larger size looks REALLY weird on top. I feel like there’s a lot more work to be done there, from a tailor’s point of view, than just giving me an extra bit of give in the fabric for the skirt and increasing the slit. The bust is off, the neckline juts out; it just seems harder to fix than a straight releasing of stitches in the lower half.

    I guess I’m wondering — does altering a slightly smaller size ever work? I plan on taking in both dresses to the tailor later this week, but hey, it’s the weekend and I wanted to solicit some opinions. :-)

    1. CanadianDot*

      It really depends on whether or not there’s extra fabric in the seams. A lot of clothes nowadays are just serged, and that leaves pretty much no room in the seams to let out bits that are tight. Clothes that are meant to be altered will sometimes have extra room in the seams so that they can be let out as well as in. If there isn’t any extra room in the seams, you could certainly add/alter a slit, but you can’t add fabric where there is none without actually putting in more fabric, which you would see. If there is the extra fabric then yeah, this is likely an easier fix (though it still involves taking out the seam and redoing it and reshaping it, and hopefully it’s a fabric that is forgiving of having been sewn through already).

        1. Jazzy Red*

          My mom used to alter hand-me-downs for us all the time when I was a kid. She was good at it, too, except the hems in our dresses were about 5″.

          I remember a really good cotton blouse, black with colored dots all over it, that started with my oldest sister, was passed down to the next sister, and finally came to me. It must have been more than 10 years old by that time, and it still looked as good as new. The elbows were worn, though, so Mother made it into a short sleeve blouse, and I wore it for several more years. Now every time I see a black blouse with colored dots, I want to buy it, but I know it wouldn’t be as good.

      1. Sharm*

        Yeah, I figured as much. It looks like there’s a little give, and that’s all I need, but I bet the seamstress will think it isn’t enough, which is fair. Fingers crossed!

    2. Elisabeth*

      Do you care about having both dresses and don’t mind not returning one? See if a seamstress/tailor can take the top of the smaller one and the bottom of the larger one and combine them. On the odd chance that your tailor can’t do it, look for someone that does theatrical costuming or wedding alterations.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Along a similar line, you could take both dresses to a seamstress and tell her you would like to get your money back on one and have her fix the other. Then ask her which one would be the best to fix. In other words, let the person who is going to do the work make the decision for you.
        I have found this works well for me around the house, too. For example, I have two or three shower heads. (Who knows why.) But I need my shower head replaced. I line up what I have and let the plumber decide the best choice. (Givens: I have no personal preference and all the replacement shower heads work equally well.) The plumber decides, it works and all is well.

        1. Loose Seal*

          That’s exactly what I do. I leave all the store tags on the garment and if the tailor doesn’t think they can alter it properly, I just return it.

          1. fposte*

            Same as me. Plus that avoids the terrible “going to be altered” limbo where a dress sits in a bag and you never wear it because it’s not altered.

        2. CanadianDot*

          Um, just the shower head? Because usually that’s a pretty darn easy fix – Just unscrew the old one, use some of that teflon tape stuff, and screw the new one on. Do you have a different kind of hook-up?

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ha! That was just a silly example.It came to mind because I have been thinking of getting a plumber in here and thinking of all the projects I need help with.
            I saw this double shower head on Groupon that I liked….sigh. Anyway, yeah, a silly example. There are actually several problems there that are beyond me and/or beyond my willingness to go through the learning curve.
            But thanks for taking a minute for that!

            1. CanadianDot*

              I can definitely understand that if you’re getting a plumber in anyway, you might as well have them do that, but I wouldn’t want you spending money on a plumber if that’s all you needed done!

              There are so many plumbing things that actually aren’t that bad to do yourself. We’ve replaced our toilet and faucets ourselves, and they were really pretty easy, albeit a bit tedious. We have some pipe work that needs doing, though, and that we definitely don’t want to do ourselves.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                This is where I am at.

                I have a toilet that won’t stop running. I have replaced most of the guts. I am one trick pony and that is my trick. I have crappy water so the mineral deposits build up on metals and weird stuff happens.

                The tub is a story and a half. The plug to make the water go up to the shower head works if you romp on it with pliers and a screwdriver. (Something you really want to do every day while getting ready for work.)
                Additionally, I think I can shut off the water to my bathroom just ONE more time and then the water shut off will be done/gone. I am saving that one last use for an emergency.

                We haven’t even covered the low water pressure and the failing Culligan system.

                My house is 180 years old. We have to be patient with our elders ;).

                I have been buying parts cheap and people have been giving me replacement parts and I have been piling things up for the day when the plumber comes. I am sure he will be here most of the day and the bill will go into 4 digits. On the good side, this guy is amazing. He comes once, fixes things and the things stay fixed. What a relief.

                Hopefully, the free/cheap parts I have collected will be of some use in lowering that bill.

                Thanks for your kind and supportive words! I appreciate.

      2. Sharm*

        I do want to return one, sadly. I’m going to leave it to the seamstress to see what she thinks is best. I was just wondering if anyone has had success letting out ready-to-wear clothes that are smaller rather than bigger. I bet she’ll want to go with the bigger one, but I think it’s going to cost me more in the end. We shall see!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I sew, but I am by no means an accomplished seamstress. If I had to guess, I would say the answer is probably no. But there are some really talented people out there that can do miracles. If she chooses the larger dress, see if she can make the top fit like the smaller dress fits. That might not be too hard.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      On a related note, any tips for finding a reliable seamstress/tailor? I have a couple pairs of trousers and one pair of skinny jeans that I need hemmed and a dress that needs to be altered, and I have no idea where to begin. I know there’s a storefront at the mall and pretty much every dry cleaner I know of also does alterations, but how do you know if they do good work?

      1. Stephanie*

        I bummed off a friend who was a theater costume designer before she did defense contract consulting. :) I usually gave her baked goods in exchange for alterations.

        I’d check Yelp or just ask around. If you have a friend who’s especially well put together, she probably knows of a tailor. Some higher end stores also offer complimentary or low-cost tailoring.

      2. Sharm*

        Others have good responses here! I put out a Facebook post so I could see what my friends suggested, and then also checked Yelp. Luckily, the person I’m going to was recommended by both my friends and people on Yelp, so she’s got to be good. :-)

        Another option might be asking local stores/boutiques if they have recommendations. Places like Nordstrom do their own altering, but maybe the smaller shops would be more in the know?

  19. James M*

    Feel free to regard this as complete fluff, but a couple of this week’s posts got me thinking about lock picking.

    1. (A) Do you know how to pick an ordinary key lock? (B) have you ever successfully picked a lock? (C) Do you ever let others know you can pick a lock?

    2. If you learned that someone you work with can pick a lock, would it change your perception of that person? In what way?

    1. Rowan*

      1) I know the theory but I’ve never actually done it.

      2) I would secretly hope that they were an international art thief! Seriously, I’d be most likely to think they’d learnt it from the internet and spent some time practicing rather than assume it came from a life of crime. I’d not be overly bothered.

      1. Bea W*

        I’ve known people who can pick locks. It did not change my perception of them. I just thought it was a cool bit of information, and never thought about it again. There are actually people who pick locks for sport and competitive lock picking events.

    2. AMD*

      1. No but I have seriously been considering learning.

      2. I would just think it was really cool! I would probably also ask where and how they learned it. I might be tempted to call them when locked out of my apartment.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      My late husband was very good at picking locks. He never used this skill to do harm. He only used it to help people, as in someone who is locked out of their car or office. He was also very good at breaking into safes. Again, I never saw him use this skill in a harmful way.

      Personally, I am pretty good at kicking open locked doors. Doors with cheap locks seem to yield to vibration and pop open. Not something that comes up in conversation frequently for me, though. I had a bunny that learned this and she could open a door that was just latched shut.

      There are some things in life that you just don’t babble on about with people who don’t really know you. It is easy for people to misconstrue or misapply that information. I did not want people having misconceptions about my husband, so I did not talk about his abilities with everyone. But if someone was having problems, then I would speak up. “I will ask my husband and see if he can come help you with your door lock.”
      If my husband got around other techie people he would talk about it because techie people like that type of conversation.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have opened many a door with a credit card or table knife — always for good of course — but someone pulled that on a rental apartment I had in London one time so it is important not to have doors easily opened with a credit card — deadbolts are basic security. I tried to learn to pick locks with an on line video but eventually had to buy a key for the file cabinet that someone had locked without having the key.

    4. Rebecca*

      I wish I knew. About a month or so ago, I went on a car cruise in, stuck my wallet and cell phone in a small cross body purse, got home, and the house was locked up tight with my keys inside. I had to get a ladder, climb up onto the porch roof and go in through a window that wasn’t locked on the second floor. The look on my cat’s face was priceless as he saw me walk across the roof to the window he was peering out of. I’m glad I’ve lost weight because stuffing myself through the window and dropping to the floor below wasn’t pleasant.

    5. fposte*

      Have you read Richard Feynmann on picking locks? He got quite the reputation around Los Alamos, and a good chunk of it was good old-fashioned social engineering. It’s pretty funny.

      1. Girasol*

        This! I loved the part in “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynmann” where he picked locks all over the Manhatttan project just for fun and to show that the security over the nuclear secrets wasn’t all that great.

        1. fposte*

          I loved when he finally found the guy who was supposed to be *seriously* good at lock-picking and it turned out he was coasting on bluff as much as Feynmann.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      We used to do it in college, in the dorms. The doors had these locks that were ridiculously easy to card open with your stiff plastic ID. We would card into someone’s room and play pranks on them, like moving all their furniture into the bathroom, turning their posters upside down, etc. I never actually learned to pick an actual lock, however.

    7. Stephanie*

      1. No.

      2. I had a landlord who could. I trusted him, so I thought it was sort of nifty. He was a lot more handy than I originally believed.

    8. salad fingers*

      1. (A) I know how to pick a super flimsy lock and have had to do it before when locked out. I think it’s a key lock but I’m not entirely sure; (B) Yes, several times — party trick; (C) See (B).

      2. Probably — if they were super sketchy seeming generally and approached the matter in a super sketchy way and had done things which indicated questionable integrity I might be a little uncomfortable. But more likely, if they were anywhere from average to above average in the apparent integrity department I would guess that they learned this when they were young or like to know how shit works or want to know how to protect themselves from lock pickers?

      I just had a situation sort of like this come up at work! Someone’s bike was stolen in front of our building’s security cameras. During our group conversation about this, I said something like, “man, I feel bad for this guy — he is really bad at stealing bikes. He should have stolen this bike by doing x, y and z things. Now he’s probably going to get arrested for stealing an old $30 mountain bike.” And the response was like :o :o :o.

    9. Naomi*

      I can’t pick a real lock, though I think it would be fun to learn. When I worked at a bookstore though we had those lockable kids’ diaries, and they would always wind up locked with the key inside. I got pretty good at picking those with paper clips.

  20. Anonymous*

    How much better is an electric toothbrush than a manual one? Is it worth shelling out the extra money? Brand recommendations?

    1. nep*

      I can only say that my mouth feels like I just left the dental hygienist when I use the electric toothbrush. Just brushing with it feels great too. For me, worth the extra $.

    2. Jen RO*

      Highly recommended! I love mine, and it was cheap ($30). No idea what brands exist in the US – here the most common is Oral B.

      1. Bea W*

        I have an Oral B (which now goes by Braun or Braun Oral B) that cost about the same. They are really common in the US also. I love it. I like the one with the small brush heads, because I have a small crowded mouth, and the small round brush head is perfect for getting into the tough places. There are some fancy electric toothbrushes out there, but you really don’t need to spend a lot of money to get a good brush. I carry a regular brush when I travel, and I always feel like the electric does a better job at getting things clean, and because it feels good I brush a little longer, and am more thorough, and that makes a difference in an of itself.

          1. Jen RO*

            TIL: The brush heads have names. I only knew them as “the basic one” and “the one with the rubber bits” (Precision Clean and Floss Action, respectively.)

      2. Persephone Mulberry*

        The other major brand in the US is Sonicare, and that’s what DH and I have. I prefer the back-and-forth motion of the Sonicare to the rotating motion of the Oral B.

    3. MJ*

      On my last trip to the dentist, the hygienist told me she has quite trying to get people to floss regularly because most people hate it. Instead she pushes for people to use an electric toothbrush because it does a better job than regular, especially at the gum line. Also, it has that vibration thing it does at the two-minute mark, so people brush a full two minutes.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        My hygenist recommends electric toothbrushes too. I don’t like it because it is a battery hog and then when I go back to buy more heads, I can’t find them. >:(

        I’m NOT taking it with me on holiday!

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Wow, my Sonicare lasts almost 2 weeks on a charge, as long as I keep it on its charging base when I’m done. The replacement heads are a little pricey, the best I can do on Amazon is usually about $10 each, but I used to have at least one issue per visit before, and now my checkups are much better. I think my receding gums are even getting a little better!

      2. StudentA*

        LOL! For some reason I think it’s hilarious that a hygienist quit telling people to floss. What’s next? Doctors will stop telling patients to lose weight because we’re hopeless :) Well, at least I am :)

    4. Jean*

      Minority opinion: I disliked the feeling of having that gadget humming away inside my mouth. Brushing and flossing are a nuisance, but–for me–less unpleasant as a sensory experience.

      1. Windchime*

        The buzzing and vibrating of electric toothbrushes is way too intense for me. I’m fine with the polishing thing that the dental hygienist does, but for some reason I just don’t care for the intense buzzing of the electric toothbrushes.

    5. Monodon monoceros*

      I had a Sonicare that I loved, then fried when I moved to Europe. I definitely noticed the difference when I used a regular toothbrush for a few months until I bought a electric Philips here. My teeth just feel so much better, and my gums actually are better, too. I have a tendency to brush too hard, which is bad for the gums, but my electric one stops if you use too much pressure, so it stops me from damaging my gums. The other good thing is the timer, which makes me brush longer. Mine works for 2 minutes then shuts off. I’m pretty sure I never brushed for 2 mins with my regular brush (which may be part of why my teeth didn’t feel as good? I don’t know, but whatever works).

    6. Stephanie*

      Yup, I have a Sonicare. It was pricey (about $100 IIRC), but it really helped with gum inflammation. It alps forces me to brush for the full two minutes.

    7. Laura*

      I love it and my dentist commented on the difference in my dental hygiene the visit after I switched, without having known that I switched. It’s easy, it’s vaguely fun, it’s effective. I got Philips Sonicare which is one of the top brands.

      But my only strong advice is type, not brand. There are two types – the ones where you can replace the brush piece, and the ones where you have to replace the whole thing when the brush piece goes. The latter are cheaper at first, but over time, the former are going to be more cost effective.

      You might want to get one of the single-use types first to see if you like it, though. They can be had for as little as $6-8, and if you don’t like the feel of it or the noise, then the better model is probably not worth buying. :)

    8. CoffeeLover*

      I would not recommend it. I use a regular toothbrush and I always get complimented by my dentist on how healthy/clean my teeth are (no build up or anything). I used to have an electric tooth brush, but switched back to the regular one because I feel like it’s gimmicky. I feel like if you have proper brushing techniques and do so regularly then you’re fine with a regular brush that doesn’t cost a fortune (in toothbrush standards). I also rarely floss so I wouldn’t say I’m an A student when it comes to dental health, but I’ve never had issues. Others have said their dentist saw an improvement in their dental health so maybe my case is unusual. I would say, if you don’t have any dental health issues now with a regular toothbrush, it’s not worth getting the electric one.

    9. Waiting Patiently*

      So my periodontal dental hygienist who I love, she saved me from a $500 oral surgery, recommend that I get an electric toothbrush and continue flossing. She and my dentist doesn’t quite see eye to eye on my case. He wants to do surgery but my gums have improved so much just from her cleanings. She does the deepest cleanings ever. I went from pockets went from 6s and 7s to like 3s and 4s. Anyway, I hate flossing it takes a good 5 minutes (or at least it feels that way) –that I don’t have in the morning. I was in Target the other day and they had one for $14 but then I didn’t know if that would be as effective as a $99 one.

    10. Anonymous*

      Go to COSTO buy the 4 pack for $11.99 comes with batteries. If you dump each after 3 months that’s a year’s worth.

  21. Sad anon for this*

    I suppose this is more a personal problem than a work one but it’s getting me down so I’d like any input to try to move on. My SO lost his job (laid off) thireteen years ago. At the time our daughter was months old, so we agreed he would be the stay at home parent until she went to school. This he did and I worked as many jobs as I needed to support our family, while taking on advanced study to improve my prospects. When daughter started school, I suggested SO do some study to improve his prospects and get back into the workforce. Just recently he has taken on a little casual work, one or two days a week that gives him a bit of spending money but I’m still carrying the load of maintaining a five person household.
    He has not been the best SAH parent. He does the bare minimum in terms of laundry and housework. I share the cooking, pay all the bills, maintain the car, arrange the family holidays, buy the clothes and shoes, conduct all dealings with the children’s schools, buy all the groceries and do the household laundry (bed linen, towels etc). He often accuses me of being lazy when in reality I am exhausted from carrying more than my share of the load. He is not reasonable when I try to discuss the matter. He shouts and sulks when he doesn’t get his way, especially about sex. (Sorry TMI)

    Now his father can no longer live alone, so I have to help find supported accommodation for him. Do y’all have any suggestions how I can get SO to pull his weight or leave and let me get on with my life. Being with him is like having another difficult and demanding child.

    1. Rowan*

      That sounds so hard, but I don’t think you can get him to leave, I think you have to leave him. If you’re doing all the work of the household, at least you won’t be supporting dead weight any more. Don’t help him find the accommodation – let him do it. He’ll only learn that you won’t carry him if you stop carrying him.

    2. Schmitt*

      Of course you are exhausted. You don’t mention if you’ve tried couples’ counseling. *IF* there is any way you could see this working out, please go. Even if you’re sure you’re going to end it, I wonder if a couple sessions focusing on communication might be helpful, because the need to communicate isn’t going to go away after a divorce.

      Why exactly do you have to help finding supported accomodation? “I’m sorry, I have enough on my plate right now, and you have several days in the week you can devote to researching this. If you need help making a decision, I can look at your options with you after you’ve done that.”

      I hope you don’t end up having to pay this guy alimony.

      1. Sad anon for this*

        Rowan and Schmitt, thank you for your responses. He wont come to counselling because he sees it as an attack on him. I might try it for myself because I need to sort out my options. I wouldn’t be leaving him until our youngest is 18. Do I tell him I’m considering it?

        I haave some experience with sourcing supported accommodation and SO and his father have both fallen in a heap on this and there isn’t anyone else. It’s funny, I thought I was done once my parents died.

        1. Schmitt*

          I think it depends on you. If I’m reading right, that’s five more years. Can you stick this out for five more years as it is now? Or is that something that is not healthy – for you? for your kids? Is this the role model you want them to have for their future relationships?

          Sure, if you divorce him and have custody you’ll still be doing all the stuff you do now, but without the fighting, yelling, and sulking on a daily basis. The other option is a come-to-jesus talk with him where you make it totally clear that you /cannot/ go on as it is – but the problem with that is, if he isn’t willing to change, then what? I agree with Wakeen’s Teapots that you should have a preliminary talk with a lawyer – before it gets to this talk. You need to know what your options are.

          Go to counselling. It’s amazing to have someone on your side who’s paid to listen to you and can’t say ‘sick of hearing about this, let’s talk about me for a change’ ;)

        2. fposte*

          Oh, Sad, please reconsider that “until the kids are 18” thing. I have a friend who basically made the same decision (her FIL is actually living with them), and it hasn’t done the kids any good to have all that anger and damage among them. Please don’t give yourself an arbitrary date for improving your life if that’s a change that needs to happen.

          1. Tomato Frog*

            YES. “I must maintain this toxic environment for the kids.”

            When my parents finally separated it was like a light went on in my life that had never been there before.

              1. Anx*

                Also, it breaks my heart knowing that my mom delayed her decision for a while for us kids. I don’t think it was so misguided, as it probably helped to wait until we were teens (it wasn’t an amicable divorce). But having to live all of my teen years like that would have been awful.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Seconding this, as the child of parents who chose that route (well, they tried to, although they ultimately threw in the towel earlier than planned). It’s better for kids to live in a peaceful, happy environment than an unhappy, angry one.

          3. Rayner*

            I agree with this.

            My family tried this to the point where one parent was sleeping on the sofa and neither parent would talk to each other. As children, it messes you up way way more than if they’d just have called it quits. Living in an angry house or one where the parents don’t communicate and don’t fully love each other means that’s what you see as your relationship model which is a bad idea.

            A divorce that is conducted peacefully and honestly brings far far more closure and comfort to your kids than a house that’s full of resentment and frustration. Divorcing when the children are eighteen is also not a quick and painless solution – although there’s less money involved (child support etc) it’s still brutal for the children who often can’t be close by (college, work), and it can feel like the children have kept the marriage together and now that they’re gone, their parents don’t care anymore.

            It also means that you get the freedom you want – now. Not in ten years, not far down the line. Now. You can start framing your life the way you want to and your children get to be a part of that without having a second parent who’s a ball and chain behind you.

            Just some things to consider.

            Divorce or separation definitely isn’t the be all and end all. If you work hard at it, you can definitely make it work and still maintain normalcy and control over what happens and what the kids see.

            1. Sad anon for this*

              The funny thing is, I don’t really view divorce as failure. I think we can hook up with partners for as long as it works for all parties and then bail when the situation is irretrievable. I don’t want to force the kids into taking sides while they are kids. When they are adults they are free to make their own choices and live with them.

              1. Rayner*

                As it sounds, bearing in mind that I don’t know your life beyond what you’ve described here, you’ve basically hit a point where it’s make or break and all the indicators are for break. The situation is already irretrievable to the point where your partner won’t come with you to counselling to improve the relationship because he sees it as an attack on himself (even though it’s for the both of you) and he’s not interested in doing much else for said relationship.

                You sound like you’re carrying the burden and he’s not interested in helping.

                Saying that the kids will be forced to take sides is a bit…. that happens when the divorce is rough, full of angry parents who don’t want to let go, and who use their children as pawns. If you conduct it amicably or at least without actively fighting, children won’t be forced to take sides.

                And as other people have pointed out – a divorce between parents hurts at any age. Doing it when your relationship with their father isn’t completely and irrevocably broken down is actually beneficial. Kids can tell when they’re being used as the “we’ll stay together until X event”. It can make them resentful or confused about what happened, or even feel like they’re to blame – “if only I’d worked harder or been better at school, they’d still be together!”

          4. Ruffingit*

            Please don’t give yourself an arbitrary date for improving your life if that’s a change that needs to happen.

            YES. THIS. SO VERY MUCH THIS!!

          5. A Bug!*

            Interestingly, my parents split when I was fairly young and my cousin’s parents made the decision to stick it out until the kids were grown.

            Because they had the nicest house family gatherings often took place at my aunt and uncle’s, and I can tell you that there was a lot of very weird tension in that house at all times and I didn’t like going there. Because I was a kid I had no idea why, but when they announced their separation within a month or two of the youngest cousin moving out for college, it suddenly made more sense.

            My parents, on the other hand, separated less-than-amicably but put my brother and me first. My brother and I got to see first-hand what a healthy co-parenting relationship looked like. We understood – both from their words and their actions – that Mommy and Daddy didn’t love each other anymore, and never doubted for a second that they both still loved us very much. The more I observe about other parents who split, the more I appreciate the effort and sacrifices my own parents made for the sake of my brother and myself. Although I was fairly young when they split I still have some memories of the time they were together, and things were definitely better afterward.

            There are courses and workshops and books available to help teach you how to co-parent with an ex in a way that is healthy for you and your kids. I strongly urge you to look into that but be critical because a lot of people and organizations put themselves out as experts while offering bunk.

            1. Sad anon for this*

              I have a very amicable relationship with my ex who is the father of my eldest child. Mind you, he was unreasonable for a number of years too.

          6. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Seconding this. I had parents who should have divorced but never did… Divorce is a bit painful and crazy for a couple years. Living in a completely dysfunctional household does damage that can never be undone.

        3. Ruffingit*

          Going to be brutally honest here – there is no point in staying in this marriage until your youngest is 18. Get out now. As a former divorce lawyer, I saw many people who made those same plans “Well, I’ll just wait until the youngest is out of the house…” Most often, the reasoning behind that was thinking the children needed both parents at home while they were growing up or because the one who wanted to leave didn’t want to actually commit to leaving so they had the built-in excuse of staying for the kids.

          The kids do not appreciate it when you stay “for them.” That’s a huge burden to place on your children even if they don’t know you’re doing it. When they are older and ask you why you didn’t leave earlier (and they will do this), saying “I wanted you to have both parents at home” will not make them feel good. They inevitably will say “Mom, we knew things were bad and we wondered why on earth you didn’t leave sooner. You could have saved yourself years of aggravation.”

          Not every child will have that reaction of course, but I’ve seen it enough to conclude that children are not the oblivious people you think they are. They know what is going on in the household isn’t good even if they can’t put their finger on exactly why.

          Also, and not to get too personal, but it needs to be said – presumably, staying means continuing to have sex with your husband. Why would you want to do that? It doesn’t sound like you even love this man anymore. And, even if you had a sexless marriage until the children leave, again why would you want to do that? You deserve better.

          Get out now. Enjoy your life. There is more to be had than the little you’ve allowed yourself with this man.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ruffinit’s got some real life advice there, Sad.

            My friends waited until the kids grew up and moved out. Finally, Mom moved out. The kids said, “What took you so long?”

            The kids already knew most of what was wrong there, without Mom saying anything.

          2. Dan*

            My parents have a dysfunctional relationship. They don’t fight, but I don’t think they communicate very much either. They’re still married and cohabitate.

            I describe my mother as an absentee mother emotionally. I mean, she was home every day and put dinner on the table. But did she care about my needs? Hell no. So having a parent there who didn’t care what her kids needed? Certainly didn’t do me any favors.

        4. A teacher*

          I’m throwing this in as the teacher of lots of kids who have the “stay together for the sake of the kids argument.” My students got into an interesting discussion 2 years ago about family dynamics and it turned into talk about when parents lie to kids. The overwhelming consensus was that parents that lie to themselves or stay in it for the kids are doing no one a favor. So many students said and still will say that they hate seeing mom and dad tense and unhappy. You can’t and aren’t hiding the marital problems from the kids and in so many cases the kids would prefer you happy than stressed out with a spouse that doesn’t help. Most kids get it way more than we realize.

        5. Tara*

          I’m 17, and my parents divorced about four years ago. I was definitely more relieved than anything. Just make sure to avoid badmouthing your husband to your children, regardless of your decision. Both of my parents do this about the other, and it leaves me in an awkward position of wanting to defend them (even if I agree) but being worried about angering whoever’s doing the talking.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I was in that position myself and what I finally did was tell both of them “I will not have you talk about my mother/father that way in front of me. Whatever relationship you have with them is separate from mine and you are talking about my other parent. Do not speak badly about them in front of me.”

            It actually did help and they stopped for the most part, although I do have to issue reminders once in awhile, but that is very rare these days.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      I’m sorry for your troubles.

      My husband is the SAH in our house and has been for the last 17 years. Raising our children was complicated by the oldest one being in the Autism spectrum with an SAH needed, and any return to work was complicated by my husband’s heart attack and physical limitations from that relatively early on in the SAH years.

      It goes pretty well. He’s a shitty housekeeper but no shittier than I would be if were trying to SAH. I try to remember to pitch in when I feel him getting frustrated by too much drudge work, but I’ve never felt the need to gap fill because it ain’t easy supporting everybody either, and I work a crap ton of hours. He’s an *amazing* father, and was a terrific advocate for the oldest during his school years, including being invited by the superintendent of school district to sit on the selection committee for the new head of all special ed in the district.

      Things have gone pretty well because it truly is a partnership and not a competition. Neither one of us is completely happy and I think both of us feel that we individually do 60% vs the other’s 40%. We’d need a Freaky Friday to really get the other guy’s POV but, partnership partnership partnership, we do okay. We’re happy and the family is happy.

      So, partnership. Not hearing that in your tale at all.

      I am so sorry for your troubles. I think that there’s no matter of solving up your issues vs finding a trick to bandaid things here and there if you both can’t recraft the relationship into a partnership. Counseling is of course an excellent suggestion and I hope you guys can do that. You can also go one on one with the husband and say, can we please tear all this crap down and rebuild a partnership, will you work with me on that, and see if he responds.

      If you are afraid things might really blow, please get advice from a lawyer sooner rather than later. You will be responsible for spousal support in the event of a divorce. I was ever mindful of this as we made our family choices. A lawyer can tell you about your state and what to expect so you can plan just in case.


      1. fposte*

        Definitely see a lawyer–spousal support can be pretty limited in many states to a short duration, and Sad can request that her husband be imputed a wage, which would reduce spousal support, since he’s clearly capable of working.

        1. Dan*

          I don’t know about the “clearly” aspect here. In my state, spousal support isn’t for the invalid, but to help maintain a standard of living. The classic case is man is married to stay at home spouse, leaves after 20 years, leaves spouse high and dry. She shouldn’t be relegated to a life of poverty after giving up so much for him.

          While the gender roles are reversed here, I think the spirit is the same. But “see a lawyer” is correct advice, because in my state, 13 years would pretty much get you some spousal support as a stay at home parent.

          BTW, when I talked to my lawyer about imputing income, he said you have to hire an expert for that.

          1. fposte*

            Probably varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but as far as I know a straight imputation of minimum wage doesn’t require an expert, and it’s clear from the fact that Mr. Sad does sometimes work that he can work.

            If one member of the partnership has stayed home because that’s what they’ve agreed, that’s one thing; if it’s because s/he doesn’t feel like working regardless of the burden on the spouse, that’s another. And in general support is moving strongly toward the rehabilitative(some states even cap it), but the longer the marriage the longer the support is likelier to be. Another reason not to wait for years, and certainly another reason to ask a local lawyer about all this.

      2. Sad anon for this*

        You’re right Wakeen’s, there is no partnership. Your suggestions are excellent.

    4. Lora*

      Shouts and sulks when he doesn’t get his way? Goodness. I am so sorry you have to deal with this.

      I would suggest at least trying couples counseling. Because it is really really really REALLY messy to divorce someone where there is this much financial disparity, who is so reliant on you and does not seem to realize it. Ask me how I know…

      He will in all likelihood not get anything even vaguely resembling alimony; unless you have over $1mil in assets, it’s generally not financially worth it to do anything other than no-fault, and frankly women with children to support and no job at all don’t even get alimony. Judges are generally not sympathetic to that sort of thing–their usual ruling is along the lines of “suck it up, buttercup.”

      Children make it tough. There may be restrictions written into your decree such as, you may not move outside of the school district to ensure the child’s continuity of education. Even if there are not such restrictions, moving out of state can trigger the new state’s rules about divorce to come into play if he wants to challenge the ruling, and then you have to deal with it all over again. It is possible to make separation agreements freestanding, but expensive and only if your husband agrees to them.

      Another thing: do you have family or close friends available who can deal with emergencies? One of the hardest things my single mom friends deal with is who will pick the child up from school when she is sick, who will be the backup care when there’s some other emergency or major change to deal with (e.g. death in the family, car trouble, moving to a new house). True, husband is contributing little enough, but you’d be amazed at how difficult it is for Auntie Lora to pick up her nephew from school when mom is in the hospital after a car wreck.

      Sounds like you’ve got a lot to think about. Good luck!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        The state of residence and the other party’s willingness to lawyer up can make what happens next a crapshoot. Our state favors 50/50 custody with kids and the party who makes more can have to pay child support to the other parent depending on (bunch of factors, circumstances & wild card draws). I have a girlfriend who doesn’t have to pay child support but has to pay literally everything else (school, clothes, health ins) in a 50/50 custody split while she can only have her son 15 days a month. She doesn’t make a ton of money but the disparity was enough that that was the judge’s decision after tens of thousands in legal bills.

        Having seen some friend’s circumstances, I think that anyone in a rocky, economically unequal relationship (either end of it) should see a lawyer sooner rather than later to hear about how things usually go in that state and what if any protections he or she should have in place.

            1. fposte*

              To be clear, I’m passing on received wisdom here rather than stating an unequivocal truth. But the person filing gets to ask for exactly what they want and sets the starting note (and of course also has the possibility of a default finding in his/her favor if the other party fails to respond). That seems especially true when there might also be a custody decision involved.

            2. Lora*

              1. You get to decide under which code you will be filing. Varies state to state, but getting to pick whether it will be at-fault, no-fault but have not come to a property division agreement, no-fault with a property agreement can put you at advantage depending on circumstances.

              2. Your lawyer will tell you to do some things that you will initially be like, “oh wow, that is harsh…don’t know if I want to go there.” GO THERE. Stuff like locking down accounts, credit cards, etc. They will help you get your financial ducks in a row so that when your spouse is served with papers, they won’t immediately go on a shopping spree or whatever. You may think “my spouse isn’t that big a jerk, s/he would never” but it’s really best to trust someone who has seen 1,000 divorces up close and personal.

              3. You can choose your lawyer at your leisure, and find one you really really like and click with and can afford. This is important. If you’re the one who gets served and has to scramble for a lawyer, you might have to take whomever you can get–who may not be the best or your first choice. Different lawyers have different focuses: some are more about the custody battles, some are more about property/money, some are more LGBT-friendly, there’s a wide range.

              4. You can secure important documents that your spouse might otherwise try to hide, steal, etc. Such as bank account information. Also things like the credit card statements that show your spouse’s spending habits. Sometimes there is money missing from joint accounts you only find out about when a forensic accountant reviews your bank statements.

        1. Tara*

          Yeah, my mom makes more than my dad so we’re in an awkward situation where she technically should be paying him some child support (we’re 50/50). But in practice, she ends up having us closer to 70% of the time since my dad has a lot of mental health issues so they’ve decided to just let it go.

    5. Colette*

      What would happen if you stopped doing all of the non-critical stuff (laundry, groceries, etc.)

      Have you sat down and talked about who does what, or are you responsible for everything by default?

      What do you get out of this relationship?

      I definitely agree that things are out of sync here, and counselling is a good approach.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Gap filling, at home or at work, is a sure fire way of to never solve the larger problem of another person not doing the job that they are supposed to be doing/you think they should be doing.

        Refusing to gap fill at home, however, has the real possibility of creating a stand off. If you have been gap filling and decide to stop , I think you need to know in advance how far you are willing to go in your actions and be committed to the course.

        If it is important to the OP that the linens be washed weekly and the husband doesn’t care if the linens are washed twice a year, the “winner” of that standoff isn’t hard to predict.

        The husband and I had a non-toxic mini standoff over cooking. He did the grocery shopping and cooking for years which was pretty nice, right, me getting to come home to dinner every night. Excellent cook, great meals. Well I think that he told me with words that he was getting completely burnt out on cooking and either wasn’t listening or just sort of dismissed what he said. The meals got worse. And then worse . And then just terrible, like rice was crunchy and everything was the same color on the plate meal after meal. I am so in my own head that it took me about 9 months to go, wait a minute, why am I eating this crap? That’s when I suggested that I take the shopping and cooking back over and he said, well, sure, if you want to. :p

        I think using the non-gap filling strategy at home works only if you’re prepared to leave the decision in the partner’s hands as to how long XYZ will go on without being solved up.

        1. Rebecca*

          My worthless husband has been laying around the house since the first week of July. He doesn’t cook, although he is able to. I walk in the door after working all day, no food, nothing thawed out, zilch. I make something for myself, even if it’s a peanut butter sandwich and some fruit, and go for a walk. I’m not participating in this any longer. Hunger eventually motivates him to feed himself.

          1. Anon for this one...*

            My ex was the same way. And refused to eat leftovers. And eventually stopped doing the dishes, so I’d work all day, cook, and clean up everything,

            And that was the least of our problems!

        2. Dan*

          I want to eat well (and manage the budget) so I accepted that grocery shopping and cooking where going to land heavily on my shoulders.

          I hate cleaning and don’t mind a mess. I made it clear to my spouse that if she wanted a clean place all the time, she’d have to be the one to do it. And that she did. But she also had the nerve to complain about it too — and for the majority of our marriage, she never worked.

          Other people would say to me, “she has a husband that works and pays the bills, grocery shops and cooks, has no kids, and complains about doing the cleaning? That’s what I call heaven!”

        3. Ezri*

          Saying ‘I just won’t do this anymore’ absolutely does not work with my SAH DH. His idea of a clean house is having the laundry and dishes done, so if I took that tack the place would slowly but surely sink into squalor – and I’d be the only one who went crazy. >_<

          I finally had to point out that marriage is a partnership (stealing this work from Wakeen's because it is so true), and he was putting in <1 hour of housework per day compared to my 8-9 hours of jobwork. That made sense to him where the concept of 'we vacuum once a week because it makes the floor look nice' didn't, probably because it shifted the situation in his head from 'you aren't cleaning the house to my specifications' to 'you aren't contributing equally to this marriage and it's making me saaaaaad'.

          1. Ezri*

            Also let me be clear, I don’t make him do 8 hours of housework every day! I said that compared to my being in the office all day, putting in 1-2 hours of chores won’t kill him. :)

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Another friend tried this, too, she stopped doing various household tasks. He never picked up her slack. Never. She ended up with way more mess than one can imagine.

        1. Artemesia*

          This is why she really needs to decide how she wants to live her life. I would not live with this if I had any option — and being employed she does have options.

          It may not be pretty especially since she has enabled his sloth, but she is not tied to this drone. Before refusing to fill the gap, she needs to decide if she is willing to walk away. And she needs to have sat down with a lawyer who can map out a strategy to lessen the financial impact on her. When down to final requests for counseling or refusing to pick up the slack, she should know exactly what she will do if he fails to cooperate and exactly where she will go.

          The longer she waits the MORE leverage he will have financially to take her retirement account, demand alimony etc. The sooner she leave, the lower his claims and the sooner part time alimony will be over. She needs an aggressive lawyer who specializes in sticky divorces.

          1. Dan*

            In my state (Virginia) spousal support is not a linear function of length of marriage. There’s some generally accepted thresholds (like under 5 years, little to no alimony, and after 20, alimony for life). So at 13, you’re in the middle and likely to pay something.

            But get out soon! If this really drags on longer, the OP could be looking at lifetime spousal support here.

            IOW, start planning NOW so you can make decisions before it’s too late.

        2. Dan*

          If my ex would try that, we’d have a mess on our hands too. Hell, we separated and I have that predicted mess on my hands :) She was a clean freak, so this place was spotless until we separated. I will say, however, that getting rid of her was worth a little more mess.

    6. BRR*

      Is it possible to have your children take on some of the responsibility? It doesn’t sound like the money he’s bringing in is going to any of the household expenses, I would start asking him to contribute. If he wants spending money he needs to work more.

    7. Rebecca*

      You can’t. My husband is the same way. He’s constantly sitting at home for one reason or another because he won’t take care of his health. His A1C level is too high for him to work AGAIN (he’s a truck driver). This has been going on for years, and I’ve had it. I do everything, from lawn care to paying the bills to providing insurance, everything. He pays a contract cell phone bill late every month, and thinks he’s an adult.

      I’m preparing to leave. I would rather be alone than have this toddler man hanging around my leg for the rest of my life.

      1. Dan*

        I got out in 3.5 years and consider myself lucky. I see so many stories of people who have been in sh!tty relationships for 10+ years, and always wonder how they were able to put up with it for so long.

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, mine was 16 years and I have to say that I cannot imagine a circumstance under which I’d ever consider getting married again. I have my own house, a good job, I make all my own decisions regarding my life–why would I give that up? Yes, I have to take out my own garbage now, but it is worth not having to feel the resentment over watching it pile up and stink because it was his one household job and he wasn’t in the mood to take it out.

        2. Anonsie*

          I’ve seen this happen so many times, it’s my greatest fear about getting married. My only big criteria in a partner, really, is that they genuinely respect me as they respect themselves, and it is outstanding how difficult that is to find in a person.

    8. Dan*


      I filed my divorce papers this week. I thought about posting that right below the getting married thread above, but thought better of it. (I always appreciate a little snark.) There’s no children so things are a bit easier.

      I had a spouse who was like a child. We never planned to have kids, and I remember at one point thinking, “I’m glad we don’t have them because *you* are my kid.”

      But really, the stuff that should make you think seriously about cutting your losses and running is the lack of communication or the lack of concern when you are trying to talk about how things are going. Throw in the manipulative sulking and shouting, and forget it. If he’s not willing to hear you out, he’s not willing to hear you out. Counseling isn’t going to change that unless he’s willing to change.

      Although, I will say that “parenting” isn’t about laundry and housework, but about raising children. I’ve got to do the former and I have no kids. Tending to kids is friggin exhausting and I don’t want to do that.

      I went to some support groups for families of people with mental health issues. I remember feeling that when the afflicted person is a child, the parents are lucky. They’ve got each other to lean on for support. But when your spouse is the afflicted one, who do *you* have for support? Friends and family, sure, but it’s really not enough.

      At some point, you have to be willing to realize that other people are the creators of their own mess, and you don’t have to continue cleaning it up if you don’t want to.

      I’m not sure what advice I can give you on *how* to leave other than see a lawyer. Virginia (where I live) likes it when couples can work things out outside of the courtroom. Be prepared to pay your spouse to go away. You may not like it, but it may very well be the lesser of two evils. If I’m going to pay the lawyer $X + potential alimony, then I’d rather just pay $X straight to my spouse and skip the circus.

    9. Anonsie*

      I’m so sorry you’re in this position.

      Others have already said most of what I would, and I agree that change needs to happen now and not later. I was to add to that point that your daughter is learning what is fair in a relationship and how to care for other people from watching her parents. Even if you tell her to expect better, if she hasn’t actually seen better, she has no frame of reference for how to measure pros and cons and what is reasonable to give or get.

  22. Schmitt*

    Does anyone have experience with ergonomics consultants, or advice in general? My mouse-side shoulder is killing me after just two days back at work and I need to figure out what the heck is triggering it / what I can do about it; it’s absolutely fine working with a laptop on my lap at home.

    1. Bea W*

      We actually have an ergonomics guy at work who will come to your desk and do an evaluation and make recommendations not just for your work station, but also showing you quick stretching exercises that can be done at your desk and different equipment and explaining how to change your posture or your movements to mimimize the risk of injury. It’s actually really helpful. It’s amazing how just moving something to another place or adjusting your chair or your desk helps. You might need a different type, size or differently shaped mouse. Some are more comfortable than others. I can’t use a standard mouse for any length of time without it aggravating my carpal tunnel issues. I also get pain down the arm from old neck injuries, so the less I have to move my arm the better.

      1. fposte*

        Also, monitor height can be relevant here–neck position can irritate the nerves going to the arm. Definitely have somebody have a look.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not an expert. However, I started having problems with my mouse side arm/shoulder/wrist. It sounds like if your elbows are low and close to your ribs your pain goes down.

      I got one of these:

      I have had mine for almost ten years, now. Money well spent. The thing just lasts and lasts. I have a computer desk with a pull out drawer (tray?) for the keyboard. I keep my mouse there because it allows me to keep my elbow down close to my ribs. This also reduces pain.

      After some years, I came up with a new type of mouse pain and the chiropractor got rid of that. But definitely start with a new mouse and see where that puts you.

      At work, I have a wireless mouse. I don’t have a pull out drawer to put it on, so I am still reaching up. But, I am finding that even just being wireless is very helpful- I don’t get a lot of pain from that, either. (Probably because I can keep changing where I keep the mouse. With no wire I can move it around and change the angle of my arm.)

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      It sounds to me like your desktop (or whatever surface your mouse rests on) is too high. Try raising your chair a couple inches – or if you can’t do that (chair already at highest setting or whatever), look into an under-desk mouse rest (link in next comment to avoid moderation).

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I did the ergonomic thing at work. We have a little program / quiz thing you have to take, and it helped me adjust my chair so my back feels better. And I got a trackball mouse–I tried the one with the ball on top, but it didn’t have a scroll wheel and I kept angling my hand and it was uncomfortable. I went back to them and they got me a mouse with a scroll wheel (yay, that’s a big help when I’m editing) and the ball on the thumb side. It really helps. If your company has such a thing, I’d take advantage of it.

      My shoulder is messed up on that side too (impingement syndrome), and I try not to sit too far away from the desktop. Reaching too far aggravates it.

      1. Schmitt*

        We’re a small company, and while my boss has said that I should just let him know what I need, /I/ don’t know what I need! *g* It would suck if I ordered something expensive and it doesn’t help.

        1. Laura*

          My company brought in an outside ergonomics expert to check out several people who needed it in my office! Not sure what that costs, but maybe something to look into. (And I got a sit/stand desk as a side effect, despite not being one of the evaluated people. Turns out, I can really use it and it helps a lot, because when sitting I can bring it lower than the desk height, which I’ve always known was too high for me.)

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’ve heard that if you have mouse-side pain, you should consider using your other hand to use your mouse. I wouldn’t have thought of it, but people say it’s surprisingly easy to train yourself to use your non-dominant hand for mousing.

    6. Jeanne TW*

      I hired my chiropractor to come evaluate my work set-up at ex-job. I then re-used her written recommendations to adjust my work station at new-job.

  23. Kinrowan*

    Does anyone here work with an athletic coach to train for an event (marathon, triathlon, that sort of thing)? How much contact do you have with them? Do they just tell you what to do or do you talk about how you feel? Do you usually report on your food consumption too? What happens if you don’t do the workout (life happens)? How is it different from a personal trainer? I am a bit at a cross-roads with my athletic aspirations but unsure how this whole coaching thing really works for an serious but very amateur beginner and the more I read about different coaches, the more confused I get :)

    1. Jubilance*

      I sort of did this, when I did a half-marathon with Team In Training, which is affiliated with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I liked that I had access to 3 coaches, and my own 1-on-1 mentor to support me as well. They came up with training schedules and also facilitated our twice a week group runs. I was very much an amateur and this gave me the structure I needed in order to accomplish an endurance event. Working with a group like Team In Training does require a fundraising commitment, but I found that to be the easier part.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I haven’t worked with such a coach, but if you have athletic career aspirations there are tons of options! There are yoga certifications, pole certifications, that sort of thing. I also have a couple friends who are BeachBody coaches, and while it seems a bit pyramid-schemy to me, they just bought a freaking nice house on that income alone, so it’s a good career for some.

      If you’re really into being a coach for a specific type of event, I recommend doing it for free for one client (that you’ve never met before) and just see how it goes. You an gauge how much contact you really need to have with the person for you both to feel like it’s a worthwhile partnership.

    3. Newsie*

      My friend does this. She emails him constantly, reports on food and training and stuff. He tells her both what to do and how she feels, her mental blocks, etc. etc. She’s very honest with him and he’s a spitfire. If she doesn’t do the workout, he asks why, and she tells him, and they discuss how to approach it in a different way. It’s different from a personal trainer in that my PT works with me on unspecified goals and doesn’t have experience in running. This guy is a running coach – he runs these things and his fitness goal setting is solely focused on running.

      Source: we had a discussion about it and I looked over her shoulder at her request a few times.

    4. anon in tejas*

      I also trained for an Olympic tri with Team in Training, and I had a similar experience to Jubilance. I had 2 coaches. We had 2 (long) group sessions each week, and we were emailed out training schedules the week. I was in the best shape of my life. Seriously. It was great experience, and I would do it again (I am looking to Summer 2015). If I could do one on one training– good god, that would be fun and awesome and expensive.

      Also, there are some paid for running groups as well. They support a long run/week and shorter runs during the week generally training for a race.

      It may be worth looking into.

  24. Nancypie*

    I’m going to be in London soon, with one day free (alone). What do people recommend I do?

    1. Schmitt*

      The in-the-dark night ride on the London Eye was worth it – we got the combo day & night ticket. Sunset’s around 8:30 pm right now; they close at 9:30 pm but stay open late the next two Fridays.

      If you’re into it, the London Transport Museum is cool and fairly small, we spent about 3 hours there, going slowly. It’s right next to the Covent Garden Market, also worth a walk through – and we had the most amazing pulled pork sandwiches at the outdoor food stands.

    2. Jam Wheel*

      Well….. it depends.

      I live here and there is just about anything you could want to do based on your interests, budget, comfort level, etc. Best place to start is probably Time Out so you can see what exhibits/shows are on and where they are located. Then there are the big tourist options – like Westminster, the Royal stuff, London Eye, etc. My aunt and uncle are currently visiting and were commenting yesterday about how expensive most of the big touristy stuff is to do – usually between £15-£20 a ticket.

      The Londonist site also is a good option to find whats going on in town as well as good free/cheap things to do and recommended places to eat/drink.

      Whatever you do, I would suggest you keep it somewhat limited – maybe pick one key thing you want to see/do, allow for some shopping time (if you are into that) or pick a second thing you would like to do and call it good. While it is easy to move around the city (get a 1 day Travelcard for use on all the Tubes and busses) it takes time and can get exhausting if you aren’t used to it. Save some money by picking up some form of breakfast or takeaway lunch at Marks and Spencers. Lots of public space in the city to eat outside!

    3. Anonymous*

      Depends! What sort of things do you like to see/do?

      Personally, I’d head for one of the museums (the British Museum or the Science Museum are my favourites). But you could take a look at what exhibitions are currently running to find something that appeals.

      If you’ve never been to London before and/or want to see ALL THE THINGS, the bus tours are pretty good (I took my mum on one earlier this summer), and you can get a “free” Thames boat tour with the ticket for that too. They’re certainly not cheap but they can be an efficient way to see the sights, and you can use them as transport from place to place too. Tickets last for 24 hours from issue. There are different companies and routes, but they generally all cover the same stuff. I went with the Original tour and the red route.

      I’d also head to the TKTS booth in Leicester Square early in the day and see what I could get a cheap theatre ticket for that night. It’s really worth it, and I always do so when I’m in London for a couple of days.

      I also highly recommend the traders market at Spitalfields Market (Sundays are best, but I was there midweek recently and it was still pretty good. Lots of interesting, quirky, cool things and mostly not too expensive. I always go there before I get the train home.

      1. Nancypie*

        I was thinking of going to the Tower of London, and then maybe doing a bus tour. I don’t feel particularly strong about the second part. .. I like history and to look at pretty things. I have excellent shopping where I live so wouldn’t spend a lot of time, if any, doing that.

        Thanks for all advice.

        1. Claire (anonymous poster above)*

          The Tower is definitely worth a visit, we went a few weeks ago. There’s the field of poppies installation there now too, commemorating WWI. If you do the bus tour you can get a discount on your entry fee to the Tower and get fast pass tickets so you can bypass the queue at the Tower itself. That’s what we did.

          You might also like to take a boat down to Greenwich, if it’s history you wasn’t. I’ve stayed there a few tines and it’s lovely, and you can get the boat from the pier right by the Tower.

          Hope you have a great time, whatever you end up doing!

        2. Elkay*

          We spent a whole day at The Tower of London and that was a quiet day with no queues.

          It’s worth mentioning that a lot (I’d say the majority) of museums are free. Personally the National Portrait Gallery is my favourite.

          Other than that just wandering around cities can be fun, the South Bank is nice or Covent Garden/Regent Street/Oxford Street.

        1. Claire (anonymous poster above)*

          I love Spitalfields! There are good place to eat around there too, and it’s pretty easy to get to by bus or Tube.

          You’re very welcome :)

          1. Claire (anonymous poster above)*

            Urgh, this having to hit Submit twice to post comments and never being sure if I’m double posting is really annoying.

  25. rory is gonna win*

    How do you break up with a friend? I’ve been close friends with this particular person for almost a decade but several things have happened in the last couple of years that have caused me to question their friendship. For one, they gave picked/started fights with me and other friends. They also get upset if we didn’t share their opinion on things.

    I’ve also noticed how entitled and envious they have become as well. I don’t feel like I can share good news with them without fear that they will say something rude.

    1. Colette*

      1. Let the friendship trail off – stop contacting them or returning calls quickly (or at all).

      2. When they pick fights, call them on it and/or walk away.

      3. Tell them you no longer want to be friends.

      I’ve done all three, depending on the circumstances. If you want to remain friendly, drawing back and being less available can work. If you want to have them in their life as long as they stop picking fights/doing X, call them on that behaviour.

      And if you’ve reached a point where having them in your life in any capacity is toxic to you, tell them that you no longer want them in your life.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I have had a friend pick a fight, after I just drove a good distance to get to see them.

        I just very calmly said “I guess today is not a good day for us to visit. That’s okay, we can get together on a different day.” And I LEFT.

        I later found out that this friend had lost respect for me because of my choices in a certain part of my life. I was surprised that she did not ask me why I made those choices and jumped to the conclusion that I was not a good person. (Without considering the back story, yeah, my choices did not seem like the best choices on a superficial level. So I understood her questioning the choices. I did not understand her acting as judge, jury and execution, however.)
        Then I realized that she consider the relationship over. I was the one pushing the envelop.
        So I let the relationship fade out.

        I felt really bad about that. But I had to go back to “friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime”. We don’t get to chose why people are in our lives and why they leave our lives.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I still care, above all else, I still care. That is why it hurt. If I did not care, it wouldn’t have hurt so.

            I saw her do this to other friends, so I kind of had it in the back of my mind that I could be next.

      2. Mimmy*

        I had to do #3 about 10 years ago. I’d tried several times over the years to let the friendship fade naturally, but the person would once again contact me. Telling this person that I didn’t want her in my life anymore is SO not how I am, so that was hard. But sometimes, it’s what you have to do.

      3. Steve G*

        I agree with points 1 and 2. 3 is a little dramatic. It makes for good reality TV but I think that telling someone that you don’t want to be friends with them can be really hurtful and perhaps more hurtful that the things this person is doing.

  26. Anonymous for This*

    This week has been rough. My boyfriend collapsed suddenly and had to go the ER; he ended up spending the better part of the week in the hospital. They didn’t know what was wrong, but all of the initial possibilities were dire. He’s going to be ok, fortunately, but for the first couple days, there was talk of organ damage. It was frightening.

    I did my best to keep everyone informed, and I told everyone he wanted company, because he did, and… no one really came. His entire visitor count (besides me) is: a single family member for half an hour one day, and a single coworker for half an hour another day. None of our friends. We have a couple of friends who legitimately couldn’t for various reasons, and they’ve been great, but the rest just kind of faded from existence. A few, including someone he’s known for a decade and always considered a good friend, didn’t even text. Or acknowledge it in any way. To make it worse, I spent the first couple days saying things like, ‘Oh, I’m sure you’ll have a ton of visitors tomorrow,’ and ‘I wonder if we can put flowers on the video player.’ (He never got any flowers. Cards were limited to two from work after he got out.)

    He feels terrible about it. We tried coming up with excuses – maybe they didn’t realize how serious it was (I feel like any stay in the hospital should at least warrant a text, but whatever), or maybe they just didn’t know how to handle a serious situation when we’re all so young. But he hopped on Facebook to see if maybe someone had messaged there and found a status by someone else in the hospital tagging all the people who visited – including some who didn’t even text him.

    I really don’t understand. Best I can think, it’s one of two things: apathy or some sort of passive aggressiveness. We’re both very introverted, but we see them frequently. None of them have been in the hospital in years, so it can’t be some kind of tit for tat thing.

    He, of course, is sad and bitter and angry about it all, and I have no idea how to make any of that better.

    So yeah, overall just a terrible week.

    1. A Teacher*

      I’m sorry. Some people just suck in a crisis, that’s what I’ve come to learn through personal experience and through observing it for others.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      When my husband was in his final illness we really learned who our friends are. It is an odd thing to watch. The people you think should show up, don’t show. And ones that you don’t think will show up are the very people who check in with you regularly.

      My recommendation is don’t assume. Don’t tell yourselves or each other that this one or that one should come visit. It’s less of a let down if you have no assumptions. And it’s more of a joy when someone does come.

      I think a problem with FB is that everyone assumes someone else is helping. In a crisis I think it is better to switch to emails or phone calls. That seems to be the only way people know you are talking directly to them, rather than the group as a whole.

      Sadly, the people that were the most help to me and my husband were mostly people that we know casually. He had two good buddies that hung close with us. But family? ugh. My family is not even in this state so that let them off the hook. But they called so I felt good about that.

      Overall, what you saw is, sadly, normal. Kind of gives you a new awareness of what other people are experiencing, eh? I did with me. I learned it does not take much to do something meaningful- just call up and say “hey thinkin’ of you and what’s going on today?”

      I am glad he is doing better and I am sorry you guys went through this.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, the Facebook thing is a great point. If you just posted on Facebook rather than contacting people individually, that’s really likely to be a factor here. In general, if you need people to respond as individuals, contacting them as individuals is the best way to make that happen.

        1. Laura*

          Yes! Among other things, some of them may not have even _seen_ the Facebook posts, given the way FB curates things for you. And given the number of friends some of us have there – I read a fraction of what my friends post, whatever’s floated to the top, when I connect.

          But even if you emailed/FB messaged them directly, yes, some people would flake completely, unfortunately. :(

    3. fposte*

      I think people 1) are afraid of visiting hospital patients and 2) think they’ll have more time to get it together than they do. They were going to come on Sunday, for sure–or so they told themselves–and now he’s out before they hauled themselves over there. I don’t think it’s specific to your boyfriend.

      I’m curious about the mention of a half-hour, though–it sounds like you might think it should have been longer, and I would never stay longer than a half an hour (and probably wouldn’t go much past twenty minutes). I think that’s pretty standard unless you’re nuclear family.

      1. the gold digger*

        Oh absolutely. Short visits. People in the hospital are sick and need to rest.

        When my dad was dying, a couple who had heard he was in the hospital came to his room to visit. I don’t think they even knew my dad, but they were from the same town and knew his family. My grandmother – my dad’s mom – was in the room with my dad with what turned out to be her last time with him alive.

        I watched this couple talk and got more and more frustrated, because they were taking precious minutes of my dad’s remaining life. I didn’t want to be rude to them, but I wanted them to leave. So I finally walked over to them, put my hand on the man’s elbow, started walking to the door, and said, “It was so gracious of you to come. Thank you so much.”

        I know this story is opposite of yours – we had unwanted visitors – but I think it goes to the point that most people really don’t know what to do when someone they know is sick and in the hospital. I agree, though, that a phone call to ask, “Is there anything I could do?” is the least one should expect from a good friend.

    4. Graciosa*

      I think social practices have changed in this area over time. I am not saying that they should, just that they have. People don’t seem to visit in person in the hospital nearly as much.

      I’m not sure why – perhaps a combination of changes in standards for hospitalization and changes in the way we socialize. You’re sent home much earlier so the better part of your convalescence is at home – if you’re in the hospital, you may be presumed to be too sick for visitors. Flowers may be restricted in a hospital setting, or perceived as “wasted” with the expectation that no one in a state to appreciate flowers will be in the hospital long enough to enjoy them more than a few hours.

      Texts or messages on Facebook may be viewed as alternatives to an actual visit. You noted a lot of people following his status (posted by someone else) on Facebook. This type of communication means that people 1)
      do care enough to check, and 2) have other sources of information as to his status, and so may not feel that they need to visit in order to find out how he’s doing.

      Part of this may also be the result of imputing personal preferences on to other people. I am not sure I would want other people (beyond very immediate family) visiting me when I’m sick enough to be hospitalized and probably look and feel awful. I also think the idea that I’m sitting in my hospital bed merrily texting away a little bizarre (because, you know – really sick). If I assume others feel the same way, I would be trying not to disturb the person who is hospitalized by inflicting visitors on them – so give your friends a small break on this one as bad assumptions may be a bit more forgivable.

      A Teacher is also correct that some people just aren’t good at this. There is a bit of an art to making a good visit to someone in the hospital – the right length, the right tone, the right timing – and it’s not something most non-clergy get a lot of practice at.

      My advice to you is to not let this ruin otherwise good relationships. There may be some where a comment is appropriate, but please remember that you’ve been under significant stress and are probably going to be reacting a little more strongly to some things.

      I would also advise – if this ever comes up again – not to make assumptions that lead to disappointment. Talking about all the flowers and visitors you expected may have raised expectations. Also, a generic request for “company” may not have been interpreted as a real request on the same level as “John, he’s been asking about you and Mary and would really love to see you – would it be possible for you to swing by on your way home from work?” In the latter case, you get an answer – in the former, everyone assumes someone else is going.

      All that said, I do want to tell you how sorry I am for what the two of you went through this week. In addition to the medical situation and fear and everything else, you clearly felt abandoned and I am especially sorry for that. I didn’t discuss possible reasons for the behavior because you don’t have a right to feel hurt – you absolutely do – but because I think the grief, anger, and bitterness you mentioned are not good for your boyfriend’s recovery and I was hoping to lessen them.

      Best wishes –

      1. Steve G*

        sorry for multiple responses to this but I just had another thought that might help – I also think TV skews our perception of how people should behave in these situations.

        In every sitcom or TV drama, when someone is sick everyone drops what they are doing and runs to the hospital and sits in the nice, comfortable waiting rooms all day and night waiting for progress. I think that sets people up for disappointment. The few hospitals I’ve been at didn’t have many nice sitting or lounging areas at all. Or they were near the nurse’s station which bothered the nurse. Or they kicked you out at a certain time…

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I would never visit anyone other than close family in the hospital under these circumstances; I would assume I’d be in the way while they were trying to resolve an immediate health crisis. I would visit in other circumstances (like a long stay), which might explain why your friend had a different experience.

      1. Windchime*

        Same here. My soon-to-be daughter-in-law had an emergency surgery a few months ago. I waited with my son (her fiancé) until she was out of surgery and then I left. I assume (perhaps erroneously) that most people are like me and don’t really want a bunch of people visiting or hanging around while I’m sick enough to be in the hospital.

        I can’t imagine the awkwardness of having casual acquaintances like coworkers coming to visit me ( braless and unshowered!) in the hospital.

    6. fposte*

      Oh, and a lot of people wouldn’t realize you could actually have access to your phone in the hospital. The “no phones” rule was in place for a long time.

      1. Steve G*

        I would assume the person voluntarily didn’t bring the phone in due to the prevalence of hospital theft.

    7. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I’m sorry all this is happening, and hope he’s ok!

      The fact is that different people value different kinds of support, and everyone demonstrates their care in different ways (even in different ways for different people). I haven’t had a friend in the hospital, but it frankly wouldn’t occur to me to visit someone in the hospital unless it was an immediate family member (husband, parents, in-laws, siblings) or they were there for an extended period (over a week). That’s because if I were in the hospital, those are the only people I’d want to see.

      It can be tough when people don’t give us what we need. But it’s important to remember that it doesn’t mean that they don’t care about him (or that they are awful friends).

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        This is very true. I was hospitalized for several days early this year (trauma care, pretty gnarly) and other than close family (spouse, sibling) I had one visitor (a friend in the medical profession) and one call from a coworker. Other friends did contact my spouse, but while I was in the ICU I was really in no shape for visitors, calls or texts. And I was only in a regular room for one day before being released. I had no desire for visitors; I really just needed to sleep.

        My situation was obviously very different from the one presented here, and I’m sorry they felt abandoned by their friends at such a difficult time. But I truly don’t think that was the friends’ intent.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Hospitals can be intimidating to some people. So can serious health issues, because they force people to acknowledge their own mortality. It’s easier for them to just avoid it. Maybe this is the case for a few of these people.

      I’m glad your bf is doing better and sorry you guys had to go through this.

    9. Steve G*

      Sorry for this….at the same time I think you are focusing waaaaaayyyyyyy too much on visitors and not on the medical problems. The only one who seems like a jerk is the one who was his friend for 10 years and didn’t respond to his texts. That is jerky!

      When I was 21 I was in the hospital for a week with food ecoli. This overlapped with my aunt’s rare appearance in NY, so we had a big family party at my parents’ – on average an hour drive from where most of my relatives are, and it would have been 20 extra minutes to the hospital I was at, and no relatives came at all. I was slightly bothered that people didn’t ask to come more than that they didn’t come because I was too sick to deal with people anyway if they did.

      You need to take into account the fact that many people hate hospitals and are (perhaps unrationaly) afraid they are going to get sick there, and also that with all of the poking and prodding and the way you need to sneak sleep in between constant blood pressure checks, it can be a burden to have people coming in anyway.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is a good point–many people think, “Oh I’m in the hospital and I want people to visit me!” But these days, most hospitalizations don’t happen unless someone is pretty ill (not like it used to be when they’d pop you in for an ingrown toenail). So it’s easy to think that but then when they show up, to be like, “Oh I’m so glad you came; well, that took all my energy, so you can leave now!”

        That said, friends and family can at least text / call, even if they can’t show up.

    10. Dan*

      Any time I read a “am I right to be bothered by this” kind of question, what it really comes across to me as is “Should I be willing to throw the relationship away over this?”

      While that may seem extreme, the advice that is almost universally given is either “yes” or centers around making excuses for the other people (er, helping you see their point of view.) If you are bothered, and you say something to them, and they don’t really empathize, then what? Are you going to stew and hold the grudge, or move on from the relationship?

      Most of the time, your choices are to suck it up because you want to maintain the friendship, or cut bait because you’re tired of it and you don’t. If you want to maintain the friendship and suck it up, then you’re really asking for coping strategies.

    11. Ada Lovelace*

      A friend I consider to be a sister was recently hospitalized for a week after a suicide attempt. She called my sister (her best friend) to come over and take her kids. My sister was calling the police and her family as she ran over there. It was scary, especially since I’ve been in the psych ward too often in the last few years because of my mom. But she was there every chance she could while we dealt with it and there was no way in hell that I wouldn’t do the same for her. But family wise? Her’s sucks and her in-laws suck. Besides her mother, husband and myself and sisters, none of them could make the effort to go see her. Yet her sister had the audacity to post on Facebook how she’s such a loving aunt, watching the kids for the hour or so my sister was visiting. She didn’t even call or text or mention her sister.

      My fiend told me that it really did mean a lot to her that my family was worried sick over her and that I didn’t have to waste of one Bf’s vacation days to see her. Family is what you make of it. Sometimes you see how people really are when you most need them.

    12. Befuddled Squirrel*

      I had the same kind of experience when I was in the hospital. I was hospitalized for a week with heat stroke and pneumonia. For most of that time, the pneumonia was getting worse and they were having trouble treating it. The only people who came to visit me were my boyfriend, who I lived with, and a friend who happened to be staying at our house.

      Honestly, I’m kind of scarred from that experience. It made me think that if I died, hardly anyone would care. Although I know a lot of people are just afraid of hospitals and uncomfortable with intense situations.

    13. LMW*

      This is a little late, but it honestly wouldn’t occur to me to visit someone in the hospital unless they were a close relative or I was specifically asked to come. I always assume (apparently mistakenly) that people like their privacy and don’t really want a lot of people popping in and getting in the way. I always leave a message (either voicemail, email or Facebook) saying “Let me know if you need anything” and I mean that 100% sincerely. If you want me to take the kids or take a shift sitting at the hospital or whatever, I’ll totally be there as long as you tell me that’s what you need. If you don’t…well then I’m just going to assume you are concentrating on getting better and I’m going to stay out of your hair until you reach out to me.
      I guess I really need to reevaluate this approach.

    14. Anonsie*

      Another possibility, though it might not feel any better, is that some of these folks assumed that they would be invading and were trying to be respectful of your stress and privacy. I’ve heard a few people say before they wished they had more visitors when they were in the hospital, but what I mostly hear are people angry that acquaintances spent too much time visiting because it was a personal matter and they felt those people did not belong in it. I have always been afraid to visit people who are ill because I don’t know if I am just contributing to their exhaustion.

      That said, I would be upset if I were him as well, and many of the other commenters are right that you learn who your real friends are when something like this happens. Partially because some really don’t care, and partially because you see who filters themselves into the “not that close, maybe invading privacy” group above.

  27. Ali*

    Does anyone else have any dental anxiety or borderline fear of going to the dentist? I didn’t go for some years and am going next week for a free consultation…I skipped appointments due to not having insurance and now I’m wishing I had researched better when I was without insurance so I could’ve paid for cleanings out of pocket, gotten low-cost care or anything else. I have to admit I’m not happy the dentist is so necessary because I fear pretty much every aspect of it. I threw up after a cleaning when I was little (don’t really know the reason why because it was so long ago, but the toothpaste had something to do with it I think), had one dentist that was OK but wasn’t very caring towards anxious patients and have dealt with my parents dismissing my fears and been like “You’re too worried” or “It’s only the dentist.” I have a tough gag reflex too so gagged during a cleaning and had cavities filled back when I was a teenager.

    Now that I’m going again, all I can think about is my teeth, how bad I’ve possibly screwed them up over all these years and the bad news I’m going to get. Not to mention how bad a lot of dental insurance is and thinking about how much this will all cost me out of pocket. I’m trying to better take care of myself, but wonder if it’s really even worth it.

    I’m kind of jealous of my best friend, who needed a freaking root canal fixed and a filling break (but not at the same time) and she can go to her dentist like it’s nothing. You’d swear she was going for afternoon tea or a walk in the park because she was so chill about it. Meanwhile, it takes me a ton of courage and shedding tears to even get an appointment. :/ But I figured better to go now while my teeth aren’t rotting out of my head to get some stuff done.

    Anyone have advice?

    1. BRR*

      If your dentist doesn’t really seem to care that you’re not a fan of having work done on your teeth, find a new dentist. If everything turns out ok or not that bad during your consultation do not use that as an excuse to skip appointments in the future.

      1. Rebecca*

        Seconded. I really hate going to the dentist, even for cleanings, but my dentist is super nice and promises if I have to get a filling, it won’t hurt. I asked for general anesthesia, and he laughed, and said not to worry. My fear stems from getting fillings as a child when I wasn’t numb, and the old dentist scolded me and said I complained too much.

      2. Ali*

        Oh I know now. Now that I have insurance, I plan on going for as long as I have that coverage (even if it doesn’t cover everything). And if I ever again find myself without it, I’ll plan on saving up the money or looking for low-cost alternatives.

        1. Stephanie*

          Dental school’s a low-cost alternative, although that might not be the best place if you have dental anxiety…

    2. Loose Seal*

      Yes, I have pretty severe PTSD that is triggered by the dentist. What worked for me was a combination of therapy (for the PTSD) and a dentist who was willing to work with me. I found the dentist through my medical doctor who, when I explained my problem, recommended his 3-year-old’s dentist and called her himself to make sure she’d be able to accommodate me. Then, I took a boatload of valium to get me in the door and the dentist put me on the nitrous oxide as soon as I arrived so I wouldn’t have to be in the waiting room, worrying.

      I still cry the entire time they are working on me (not from pain — they make certain I’m not in pain — but from the stress of the situation) and I’ve thrown up a couple of times. But I’ve managed to have my dental issues — including an implant — fixed that I had been putting off my entire adult life. I’m probably never going to be able to make myself go for routine cleanings but I can at least get the serious stuff done now.

      1. littlemoose*

        Loose Seal, feel free to ignore this if you would rather not say, but are you in the St. Louis area by chance? If so I might ask for a dentist recommendation.

        1. Loose Seal*

          About four hours from St. Louis, which is probably too far for you to go. But if I had to get another dentist without the benefit of a recommendation, I’d call around and explain my issue and see what they would proactively offer me for my comfort. (There was a time where I couldn’t even call the dentist without shaking and crying — which is why I asked my doctor — so if you can’t call, see if you can enlist a sympathetic friend to help you.)

          And this might sound ageist, but my dentist told me that dental schools are really putting a lot of focus on dental anxiety nowadays, so it might be worth looking for a dentist that’s only 10-15 years out of school, especially if you only have it in you to call only a few people.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      You might want to consider a holistic or natural dental practice.

      They do have calming techniques that they use such as homeopathic remedies. I had extensive work done on my mouth. I am not one to worry about dentists but this had me rattled. I ended up freezing cold and shaking even though it was a warm day. The hygienist took the took the time to bundle me up in blankets before the doctor started working.

      The doctor checked with me as he went along. “How are you doing now?” I think at one point we took a mini-break because my neck ached from staying in one position too long.
      I had to go four times to get through the work. Each visit I was definitely calmer than the previous visit. By the fourth visit, I was no longer embarrassed by my own fears.

      If you go this route, you might be able to get a preliminary appointment where you meet the doctor and hammer out a game plan to meet your needs. By that, I mean a game plan to help you deal with the stress. Then you would have another appointment for him to clean and assess what your teeth need. He should send you home with reading material so you can be more informed about his techniques and how he approaches oral care.

      1. Ali*

        That’s kind of what I’m doing. The dentist I’m going to set up an initial, free appointment with not even a cleaning so I could meet her staff (it’s not a big staff) and talk about my teeth, what to do about treatment, etc. I’m still scared but knowing that it’s free the first time means there’s no pressure for me to commit if I don’t feel comfortable there and that they at least seem to have some understanding of anxious patients. That said, I don’t want to fully judge how it will go until I’m there, so I’m trying not to worry about it much since the appointment is still like nine days off.

        1. Lore*

          My dentist offered me a low dose Valium prescription for before appointments. I never took it but knowing it was an option helped manage the anxiety. I also will only go first thing in the morning unless emergency circumstances require otherwise. My anxiety builds up over the day.

          Definitely listen to music or audiobooks on headphones. Something to focus on other than dentistry.

          Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for anesthetic before a cleaning especially if you haven’t had one in a long time. Sometimes they don’t like to numb more than half your mouth but even the topical gel they use before the shot can help take the edge off.

          1. Windchime*

            This is what my hygienist uses. She squirts the gel on and then rinses. It makes the cleaning so much easier.

            I used to cry before, during, and after all dentist appointments. I no longer do this because honestly, dental care is so much better than it used to be. I would definitely find a dentist who understands dental anxiety. I agree with the above poster who mentioned finding a dentist who has only been out of school for 10-15 years, because they know the new techniques and medications. It makes a big difference.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I went at least five years without going to the dentist – possibly longer, I stopped keeping track. I was a wreck about going back for that first cleaning, and honestly, if it had gone badly I probably have skipped out for another five years. Fortunately, the tech was totally nonjudgemental. You can do it, and a good dentist who wants your business isn’t going to give you grief about your past (non)behavior.

      That said, if you’re really really anxious about it, your primary care doctor can write you a prescription for a low dose of Xanax to take ahead of your appointment. Also, bring a friend with you – NOT someone who will be all “I don’t get what the big deal is” but one who will hold your hand and tell you how awesome you are for facing your fears. :)

      1. De Minimis*

        Same thing here, skipped going to the dentist for almost 5 years. I don’t go frequently, since I don’t like the experience, and have never really had a lot of trouble from not going frequently. I did have a cavity last time that was on the border of causing a more serious problem, so I’ll probably try and go a little more often, but I still don’t really want to go more than once a year.

        Both my wife and I tend to avoid dentists, we’ve never really had one give us any grief about going so long between visits.

        I also don’t like the eye doctor….actually I hate that most of all.

        1. Stephanie*

          I also don’t like the eye doctor….actually I hate that most of all.

          I seriously dread the glaucoma test. I don’t know why. It’s a harmless puff. But I find it uncomfortable.

          I also feel like I’m just guessing when they do the “1? or 2?” thing. I didn’t realize until a couple of years ago, you could just say “I can’t tell the difference.”

          1. fposte*

            They don’t have to do it with a puff of air, so if you really hate it you could find an eye doctor who measures the other way (it’s with a thingy that I don’t know the name of).

          2. Persephone Mulberry*

            I dislike the puff, but I tolerate it. OTOH, I keep refusing to let them do dilation.

            1. Stephanie*

              My last optometrist did a retinal photo instead of dilation. You’re kind of blinded for a few minutes afterwards, but it wears off way quicker than dilation.

              1. De Minimis*

                Mine does that, but it’s an extra charge.

                What I don’t like is the whole “follow the light” thing where they are yanking my eyelid open the whole time.

                1. HMV*

                  I find this conversation about the eye doctor fascinating! As the wife of a 2nd year optometry student, I have had my eyes checked more time that I can count over the past year. I have also come to learn why they do what they do and what each of the tests are checking for. I’ve always been the type of patient that wants to give the “right” answer so it’s encouraging to know that most of the time they don’t care what answer you give as long as it’s honest.

                2. De Minimis*

                  Unfortunately, I’m in several high risk categories due to history with diabetes [although currently I am healthy enough to where I’m not even on medication or anything] so I will always have to undergo a lot of extra testing.

                  One time they said I had a piece of cholesterol floating around in my eye! Yuck!

    5. CollegeAdmin*

      There are some dentists that do general appointments under anesthesia to help nervous patients – you’re asleep during the appointment so you don’t freak out. (Note: I have not done this, so I can’t provide a personal anecdote. I generally do okay with the dentist, especially since I like my new one.)

      Another option: I have an uncle whose doctor gives him a Valium prescription before he goes to the dentist because otherwise he’s so anxious he cancels the appointment. You could see if your doc would be willing to do the same.

    6. Meghan*

      I’ve had dental anxiety since I was a little kid, but I’ve managed to go every 6 months.

      Make sure you find a good dentist who is accustomed to having nervous patients. Tell your hygienist up-front about what you need. For me: tell me exactly what you’re doing and why and how long it will take, tell me when it might hurt. Set up some sort of hand signal you can do that means they need to stop, or stick the little thing in your mouth that sucks spit, or give you some water, whatever. I’ve had the same dentist for ~15 years, and it makes a huge difference since they know what freaks me out (that damn fluoride rinse…).

      I usually wear my earbuds and listen to my favorite music, it helps to tune out the weird noise. You can take Xanax also, if that helps you.

      And just remember: it will eventually be all over. :) And then you can go get ice cream!

      Bonus: if you go regularly, you’ll be less likely to need the scary stuff done! Good luck! :)

      1. De Minimis*

        I am definitely going to try to go at least yearly, now that I know where I stand. My dentist told me this most recent cavity was almost to the point of needing a root canal had I waited much longer.

        I have anxiety about anything involving anesthetic, even just a local. I’m afraid it won’t work right and I’ll feel pain. It has never happened, but I’m always worried that it won’t be enough.

    7. littlemoose*

      I totally have the dental anxiety too. I haven’t been in about six years because I get so anxious and uncomfortable, even though I know I have a problematic tooth right now. When I got my job, I opted for dental insurance because I thought I would be more motivated to go if I was already paying for it. Hahaha nope! I am planning to either ask my primary care doc for Valium to get through an appointment, or sedation dentistry. I know it seems wimpy of me but otherwise I am just not going to go at all.

      And my dental anxiety doesn’t stem from any particular bad experience – something about it just gets to me. I have to change the channel if I see dental work being done on TV.

      1. Dan*

        I didn’t go for ten years, and after that, all I had was one cavity.

        I haven’t been in 18 months or so, but should go again soon.

    8. Stephanie*

      Hate to be the voice of dissent, but I’d go sooner rather than later. I’m pretty cavity-prone. I didn’t go for a year and a half (didn’t opt for dental insurance COBRA) and had seven cavities (which I’m in the process of getting filled now). I brush and floss regularly, I just really like acidic foods (coffee, citrus, etc) and have really crammed together molars (even the dentist was like “You can get floss back here? Wow.”) Better to go now and deal with a filling or two than deal with a root canal or extraction later. (Root canals aren’t terrible, either.)

      Just be upfront about your anxiety when you visit or look for a new dentist. Good luck!

    9. SherryD*

      I’m like your best friend… going to the dentist bothers me as much as going to get a smoothie.

      Luckily for you, a lot of dentists these days are considerate of dentist anxiety. Look in the phone book. I bet some of the ads specifically promote “gentle dentistry,” or something like that.

      And keep in mind that a LOT of people have effed up teeth, whether it’s cavities, crooked teeth, root canals, crowns, yellow teeth, impacted wisdom teeth, or something else. I can almost guarantee you that you’ve got nothing your dentist won’t have seen a million times before.

      1. Ali*

        You guys made me feel way better! I’m still dreading my appointment a little, but I have been letting my eyes wander a lot lately and through my world view, it tends to look like everyone but me has totally perfect teeth. I just want to have a little more confidence and be able to say that I did this without dying haha. :)

        I chose a dentist that a relative and a friend of my sister’s both said was very good, and she’s a family dentist so she’s handled young kids before and whatnot. Figured that might be a good place to start.

        1. Jill of All Trades*

          I had anxiety stemming some a few bad experiences and went for years without going to a dentist. What got me to go was a painless but hideously broken front tooth. I found a really good, practical dentist who first sat me down and went through a questionaire with me that covered fears, bad experiences, and teeth falling out belief. He was actually able to explain to me why the only panic attack I’ve ever had to this day happened (the bad prior dentist shot me full of adrenaline before cutting out my wisdom teeth). Once I knew that, and after talking to him in a safe environment away from the chair and the instruments, I felt a lot better just from that. I have weak teeth so my mouth was a mess, and he wanted to postpone fixing the front tooth in favor of more urgent issues but we negotiated fixing the front one first with me promising to keep coming back. I kept my promise and we got the whole mess cleaned up over time.

          I’m a gagger, so here’s my tips: lick a teaspoon of salt when you get in the chair (no idea why this works); lift your feet up if you feel like you’re about to gag; breathe through your nose exclusively; closing your eyes and picture the anxiety folding in half over and over while deep breathing through the nose; don’t be afraid to ask for a quick break to clear your throat/breathe/talk over what’s going on/get another salt lick/get a drink of water.
          I’m also a redhead and we tend to be more sensitive to pain – don’t be afraid to let them know something hurts; if your hair isn’t red at the moment it doesn’t mean you don’t carry the gene. My dentist was warned up front I would need more novacaine and that nitrous oxide does absolutely nothing to me (which has been tested a few times).
          After 9 years I’ve gotten fairly comfortable with going, but I now drive 100 miles to see him – if he croaks I’m up a river because I’m ok with him, not dentistry. I keep tabs on his health :)

    10. Just Visiting*

      I usually wait 4-6 years between appointments. When I went in the last time I had to get my teeth scaled, which required Novocaine and was a thoroughly unpleasant experience… and now I haven’t been to the dentist for something like two years since then. To me, it’s honestly better to not go to the regular appointments and then have to have more extensive work done every couple of years, because then I only have dental anxiety every 4-6 years instead of every six months. Oh, and the last dentist I went to see wouldn’t prescribe anti-anxiety drugs because “you’d have to see a psychiatrist for those.” I think the appointment would have gone much easier with drugs, if you can get them.

      Although now that I live in a place without fluoridated municipal water, I don’t know if my usual practice of brushing and good genes will be enough. I think if your water isn’t fluoridated the city should have to provide free dental care. Anyone with me?

    11. Windchime*

      I used to be just like you. I still don’t like to go, but it’s much, much better now. I had several teeth break off around my ancient fillings a few years ago and I finally accept that I either had to get over my fear or know that I was in for decades of pain and probably eventually dentures.

      I found a website for dental phobia and started reading and it really helped. I thought it would make me more anxious but the opposite was true. I think it was dental phobia dot com but I’m not sure (it’s been years). I had bad memories from childhood dental experiences but honestly, dental care has come a long, long way in the past few years. New tools and techniques combined with better anesthetics made a huge difference for me.

      I tell them to numb me way, way up. For cleanings, they squirt some numbing stuff on my gums and that really helps with anxiety that I might get jabbed. And I take a xanax before I go in.

    12. Anon right now*

      My husband has a pretty serious dental phobia due to some childhood trama. When I finally got him to go in, there was some work to be done, but it wasn’t as bad as we feared considering how long it had been. For him the key was finding a really good dentist he could be comfortable with. His current dentist has some serious game and it helps. I find that the best dentists tend to be at the more expensive aesthetic dental places unfortunately. Good dentists go where the money is. For us it is worth it to have him going regularly. Take time to talk to the dentist ahead of time about your phobia and if they are dismissive, f ind another dentist.

  28. Closet Atheist*

    I was raised in a very conservative home. Growing up, my mother was very strict. She would never allow things like sleepovers or parties at other friends’ homes and we were never in a position to invite others to our home. I never really made close friends, I can’t really blame my parents for that. I was also pretty socially awkward (still am) so I didn’t really mind my parents’ restrictions because I wasn’t all that social anyway. I was pretty content with just school and church. When I got a little older, I took jobs so I was kept pretty busy myself pretty busy. After a while, I lost interest in church and I pretty much became an atheist. When I told my mom about this, it really upset her. I continued to play the part and continued to stay active at church. Now, I just want to break away, partly because I feel dishonest, partly because I feel bored with life and I want to see what else is out there. I want to have some fun while I’m still in my 20s. I feel like this is really hard to do because church is where I feel connected. I’m well liked and well respected and I’m afraid of disappointing people. My boyfriend who was raised like I was takes his religion very seriously but he still wants to marry me even though he knows how I feel about religion. I’d like to marry him but marrying him would feel like I’m stuck playing the part for the rest of my life. sometimes, I really wish I had distanced myself before and made more of an effort to make friends outside of church. That was my chance to make new connections and change my environment. I’ve given serious thought to quitting my job before and just moving to a new city but I actually like my job for now and would like to stay there for a few years. I’ve thought of joining the military, teaching abroad, the peace corps, etc all of those things would get me out of here and maybe help me meet like minded people. But the thought of all of these things makes me very nervous so I guess that’s not really what I want. The thing is actually like the church, it’s kind of a comfort zone. I just feel like it’s draining me because in good conscience, I know I don’t take take religion seriously. It’d be nice to hear someone else’s take.

    1. fposte*

      Please don’t stay in a role just for the sake of stasis and not disappointing people. That is the way to a deeply unsatisfying and regretted life.

      I don’t see any possibilities of both/and in your post–of meeting new people while continuing to stay active, if maybe not as active, in the church. If you’re uncomfortable with moving away, that might be a good first step–find new patterns in the place where you currently live, meet new people who think it would be fine if you never went to church, expand your possibilities rather than swapping them out. I also think you might want to find a counselor or therapist not connected with the church to talk through things with.

      I think exploring this change is one of the best things you could do for your relationship, because you can find out if your boyfriend is on board with the person you want to be and not just the person you feel you have to be.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Church isn’t preventing you from experiencing life. The two are not really related.

      I say get out there and see the world if that is what you want to do.

      Your family and friends, if they really care about you will be happy to see you spread your wings and fly.
      The atheism discussion is separate from growing your life experiences.

      It’s interesting to me, at my church they talk about when people hit a certain age bracket they tend to stop going to church. They question their faith or even stop believing. It’s a well-known pattern. Then late 30s and into their 40s SOME people drift back to their church. Notice, I say “some”.
      My point is that these people know there will come a point where you HAVE to go out and find out what is out there in the world. You HAVE to do that. And they know they HAVE to let you go do that.
      Where it all lands, only time will tell. Your church people should already be very familiar with this whole process and they should be supportive of your endeavors.

      Just my opinion, but this to me is what a healthy church does. They don’t take hostages, people are only there because they want to be there. And brotherly/sisterly love is NOT contingent on subscribing to a particular set of beliefs, or going to church every Sunday or living in their town. In a healthy church they still will love you no matter where you go or what you do. Just my opinion, though.

      1. Closet atheist*

        I understand what you mean. I agree that the 2 are not really related but it’s hard for me to separate the two. Most people say Go. But go where? I have to have a plan. My mother is very protective of me. What she wants from me is to get married, have babies, and to continue to be active at church. I just don’t know how to run away from stability to go find life experiences. I feel like I need something concrete if I’m leaving. I know it will upset my mom but it needs to be worth it. Some of the church people get this but my mom is very attached. That might be the bigger problem. Actually, I am my own problem really. I just can’t figure out how to start the process.

        1. fposte*

          You say you “have to have a plan”–but what is it that you think would happen if you moved without one? I’m not saying everybody has to bungee jump, but is uncertainty being portrayed as more of a demon than it really is here?

          A lot of my students have been “good girls”–they’ve been high-achieving people-pleasers. And for some of them, the experience of making a decision that won’t please people is scary new territory. But I think it’s really important to be able to make those decisions and realize that you survive them okay, and the earlier in life you get that experience the easier the recovery and the realization. Ultimately, nobody pleases everybody, and no life is free of risk–you’re risking losing a lot by staying in exactly the pattern you have. Might as well have risk for *good* reasons.

        2. Steve G*

          I grew up very Catholic but not sheltered like this. Please don’t link the two! When I was 22 I went to teach ESL abroad. That is one way to answer the “but where” question. You do need to save a couple of thousand dollars before going, but in a lot of countries you are basically guaranteed a job. The only thing is, that you need to be social to succeed….but it may help you break out of your shell….

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I don’t take religion particularly seriously, but I love going to church. For me, it’s about the community connection, not the spiritual connection. Perhaps mentally reframing your church relationship like that would help.

      There are lots of ways to meet “like minded people” that don’t involve throwing your entire current lifestyle out the window – volunteering locally with causes you believe in, seeking out meetup groups (feedback I’ve heard is that more specific the focus of the group, the better), and so on. The flip side of that is just because the idea of a major lifestyle change makes you nervous, doesn’t necessarily mean “it’s not really what you want.”

    4. MJ*

      People change a lot in their 20s. This is your time of figuring out who you are as an adult that is different from how your parents are as adults. You are questioning many things – your church, your job, your relationship, your role in your family. You know on a deep level that the way you are representing yourself to the world is not really who you are, but in order to find out who your really are, you are going to have to make some choices and some changes.

      Start with one change. It can be small as small – new haircut, different car or apartment, joining a meetup for a new interest, becoming a vegetarian. Get comfortable with how the people in your life react to change (spoiler alert: they will want to change you back). The next change will be easier, because you will be a little tougher and the people in your life will be a little more accustomed to seeing you differently. As you make changes, you will discover all sorts of wonderful things about yourself and you will grow in confidence.

      If you find yourself getting depressed, which can happen if you stay too long living disingenuously, try to find some professional help. It is empowering to have someone in your corner of the ring. You are trodding a path that many have navigated before you! The fact that you recognize the necessity of change is a huge step forward!! Good luck!

    5. Jean*

      Can you find a subgroup in your church where you can share a “less religious” interest (Bible study, food drive…) so that you can keep your community ties without feeling like you’re being dishonest?

      Some religious communities want all members to share the same beliefs and and display the same behaviors that presumably reflect those beliefs. Others care less about members aligning in beliefs or behaviors and more about members sharing traditions (creed/culture/ethnicity etc) or working together on various projects (soup kitchens, literacy training, Habitat for Humanity, political action) to express their generally shared religious beliefs or cultural/ethnic traditions.

      I’m writing from a Jewish perspective–my congregation and rabbi are fairly traditional but the membership varies from people who totally refrain from work on the Sabbath & holidays to people who go to prayers in the morning and then talk on the phone, drive, run errands, etc. in the afternoon. I figure it’s not being a hypocrite unless you deliberately & publicly say “NOBODY should do XYZ” while in private you are doing exactly that. IMO there’s more than one way to be religious. No disrespect intended to anyone with a more traditional outlook. I’m just wired to be a relativist, not an absolutist. (And even relativists have limits–it’s one thing to “break the laws” by buying groceries and another entirely to rob a bank or bear false witness!)

    6. Graciosa*

      You packed a lot into one post!

      First, wanting to explore a bit, have fun while you’re young, and make new friends is all perfectly normal. I strongly advise you to do it – but with a bit of care. You missed out on experiences growing up that would have helped you develop important coping skills, and your need to break free may push you too far into the opposite extreme.

      You’ve decided conservative church girl with few friends isn’t you – but soldier girl who parties like it’s 1999 probably isn’t you either. You need to do some hard thinking about what you really want in your life – not just what you don’t want – and how to get it. A therapist or life coach may be able to help you here if you can find the right one.

      Second, the church. I once read a line in a novel referring to the good advice received by a parish priest who had lost his faith; his bishop told him this happened a lot and he should just ignore it and keep doing his job.

      I haven’t decided what I think of that advice myself – some people just can’t live with the hypocrisy, and others can do it by focusing on the good things that remain (such as a community with common values). It sounds like you value doing good in the world (noting your choice of possible alternative lives which included a lot of service to others) and you can pursue this outside your church. Again, you need to make some hard decisions about what you value and how you want to live your life.

      My only real comment is that you are most likely to regret decisions made out of fear – setting that fear aside and going for what you truly want is very different from rebelling against the current status quo, but you know the truth. You will be much happier in the long run if you take a chance on your true self.

      The people in your life who really care about you will also choose your authentic life and self over the one that fits their current expectations but leaves you lost and unhappy.

      Finally, the boyfriend.

      Do not marry him unless the two of you can reach a genuine agreement about your lives together that will satisfy both of you. It sounds like the two of you are holding on to each other in spite of some pretty major gulfs between you, which can be romantic or stupid. Does he really feel he is honoring his faith by marrying a woman who doesn’t share it as long as she keeps up an outward pretense? How will you feel about spending the rest of your life living a lie? How are you planning to raise your children, and what will you tell them about faith?

      This seems to me to be symbolic of your entire struggle right now – do you confine yourself to a life that is not what you would choose because of a combination of inertia and fear?

      Whatever life you do choose, you need to do it without reservation and resolve to be happy in that life. Spending it wishing for something else that you’re never going to pursue is a waste.

      Good luck.

      1. Closet atheist*

        Thanks so much for your response.I know I packed a lot into that post. Somehow you made sense of my conundrum. But i think you summarized it well when you – do you confine yourself to a life you would not choose because of fear. But i wouldn’t really say I’m fearful. Maybe it is fear But it’s also the social aspect. If i was not so close to family and church the answer would be a no brainer. Also, on the flip side if i had more of a support system outside of church and family, the answer would be a no brainer. It’s just hard to think of leaving a community you know, where people like you, to run off somewhere alone. With my social track record, I’m not convinced Id do that well. I think Id survive, but i don’t know if I’d find the life I’m looking for and in the process upset my family. Schmitt below says I may be conflating the two problems, but I think in this situation they are very much related.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Start reading. Basically, it sounds like you have inhibitions about starting new relationships with people.
          It could be that you do have the skills and just lack the confidence. There is no way to know for sure. Or you have the skills/have some confidence but lack motivation. Who knows?
          Start reading stuff like “how to win friends and influence people”. Not from the angle of becoming a CEO in the future, but from the angle of “What goes into relationships? What do people value in the new people they meet?”
          It could be that your mother is pressuring you into a life you don’t want. Read about boundaries, read about mother-daughter relationships.
          Read advice columns. This will give you a sense of how people react to things and what other people are thinking about. Again, knowledge is power. If you gain some idea of how people think and why they do the things they do, you will find that you change.

          The goal here is not to turn you into more of an extrovert. The goal here is to gather knowledge that will empower you. I am no extrovert. It’s funny, my friend and I were just discussing this. He is a severe extrovert. Over the top. I am content where I am. I am more introverted than extroverted, but I can appear very extroverted from time to time. It exhausts me. I have to go home and be mellow. Put me in a room full of a 100 people, I am NOT having fun. It’s work. If I go over someone’s house and sit and visit with them, I am having a blast.

          In short, keep reading. Deliberately chose reading materials that fill in the gaps in knowledge for you. I like to start learning about a topic by googling short articles. Then I stumble across book recommendations, which I use, if I feel the article has not covered enough aspects of the topic for me.

    7. Schmitt*

      I think you may be conflating two or even three problems that may not have much to do with each other.

      1) Should an atheist go to church
      2) Should an atheist marry somewho who is strongly religious
      3) I want to make new friends outside of church

      I believe 1) depends on the type of church. Universal Unitarian? Probably just fine! Southern Baptist? …Maybe not. I would like to think that pastors/priests would welcome atheists at their services, hoping to win them back over at some point (especially if you are only “pretty much” an atheist) but I know that’s not always how the world works.

      If you feel welcome at your church even if you were to be openly atheistic (or agnostic) then I think the next question for you is, do you support the philosophies of your congregation? Issues like abortion, gay marriage? If you do, then your church is a community of like-minded people. If you are married to a church-goer, or going with your family, I think it would be perfectly natural to continue to attend. There are many mixed-religion marriages where both attend the same service.

      2) Hash out what religion, if any, the kids, if any will be raised in! If this is a ‘Mom has to pretend to believe’ situation, ugh. If it’s ‘People are free to follow the religion of their choice once they’re old enough to make that decision, and not everybody believes the same thing’, you’ve got a chance.

      3) Totally separate from church. There’s lots of advice on the internet for making friends – we even had a thread about it in last week’s open post.

      1. salad fingers*

        I believe 1) depends on the type of church. Universal Unitarian? Probably just fine! Southern Baptist? …Maybe not.

        Yeah, came here to say this. I was raised Unitarian Universalist by my mother who was raised very Catholic, became an atheist but missed the community/spirituality/intellectual stimulation of church on Sundays. I don’t attend as an adult, but the church in its current state is basically tailor made for someone in your situation. I would seek out church in your area to attend a couple of Sunday services or events. Chat with some people afterwards and I think you’ll find very like company. Also, in my experience, you’ll find a lot of level headed support for all of the other things in your life that you are hoping to sort out.

      2. The Maple Teacup*

        Hmmmm! Here’s what I’ve experienced in my life.

        Can an atheist/agnostic go to church on a regular basis and still be true to themselves? I think its possible. My boyfriend is a steadfast agnostic who attends church with me on a regular basis. I see him as a guest observer in something that’s important to me. He sees it as something of a religious education class. Can you see going to church from the position of a supportive observer? Boyfriend has dated other church going people in the past. Church 1 irritated the heck out of him because it was a conservative, emotional doomsday establishment. Church 2 (that I’m a part of) is a liberal, logical, coffee house type place. The philosophies of Church 2 are compatible for him to participate as a supportive observer. Don’t pretend to believe in something you don’t. But also, there are ways to interact with and within the church community that does not include waving your arms in the air and praising Jesus.

        1. De Minimis*

          A lot of churches are more low-key and I could see people just attending for the community of it without getting too hung up on the religious aspects.

          I am religious more on a personal level, but am not really big on church attendance. I was raised Pentecostal, and have attended a lot of Methodist and Baptist churches [it’s pretty sad when your religious upbringing is such that Baptists are considered to be more casual and easygoing!]

          I have gone in and out as far as religious observance, didn’t do it much in my 20s, got more into it in my 30s. I think now I’m kind of to the point where I probably believe the way I do more because it’s how I was raised and it gives me comfort, but I’m not sure that I would be any worse off if I had been brought up in a completely different belief system.

          My family has kind of been the same way, my dad isn’t into Pentecostalism anymore and attends a small Baptist church in his community [they live in a rural area] mainly because it’s nearby and they know the people there. My mom still sometimes attends a Pentecostal church on Sunday evenings, but I think she’s the only one who is still interested in maintaining a tie with it.

        2. Closet atheist*

          Church 1 that you describe sounds kind of like my church. Maybe not as bad as some I’ve heard of but there’s definitely a bit of the doomsday crap. It irritates me too but ive kinda learned to tune it out.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The problem for me was that I ended up tuning a LOT out. I am not a hell-fire and brimstone type of person. It does nothing for me but make me miserable.

            I had to leave the religion I was in. I just could not go around focusing on so much negative stuff and be a happy person. It was decades before I tried again. And if two airplanes had not flown into two tall buildings, I sincerely doubt I would be a church-goer now.
            I found a happy church and I stick with those people. I would elaborate, but I don’t want to sound preachy because that is not the point. A wise person said “there are so many religions in this world because there are so many needs. Each religion answers a particular need.”
            Your needs are not being met by this church. It might be time to move on. If your church focuses on shortcomings and failures, then it is time for you to look for positives. Look for positive, can-do people. Your friends should raise you up, not pull you down.
            I have a friend who spent years on a shrink’s couch because her religion taught her that she was not much better than dirt. I have no clue if this applies to you or not. Or maybe it applies a little. Back to the advice of surrounding yourself with positive people.

    8. Artemesia*

      You are soooo young. Take it from someone now having lived the 3 score and ten and in the last act. Soooo young. When I was in my late 20s, I thought I was too old to switch to an education intensive profession that I had always wanted but been discouraged to pursue — I look back now and wonder what the heck I could have been thinking.

      To ‘settle’ for comfort with a whole life ahead of you is sad. You get one life. You are healthy and smart and young. Make the changes now that will put you in a position to not settle for an environment that no longer fits who you are or a man whom you will always feel at odds with because of your religious differences. If I were you I would look for a new city and job — no rush but with focus and then build a new set of relationships. Every city has meetups, organizations, political campaigns, singing groups, charities — you can participate in organizations other than churches to make connections while busy enjoying the activities. Many larger cities also have ethical culture and Unitarian ‘churches’ that provide the kind of community a church does without the doctrinal baggage. My daughter and her family are active in a Unitarian church in our big city and it has been a wonderful source of community without the doctrines she rejects.

      Carpe diem. None of us knows how long we get or what life will hand us — but we all know our time is finite and we won’t get youth back again. Don’t sell yourself out for comfort when you long for something else. You only get this one go round.

    9. Dan*

      My parents dragged me to church kicking and screaming for 17 straight years. The first decision I made after I left the house was “I’m not going to church because I no longer have to.” I think it’s been 16 years since I’ve been to a non-holiday service.

      Parents hate that. Last year when I was visiting my parents, I had a big fight with my mom about going to church and threatened to never come and visit if we were always going to fight about it. For an entire weekend, she would incessantly ask if I wanted to attend services. “Just asking” she would say. After four straight days of that, I let her have it.

      My dad wants me to go, but he’s accepted that if he pushes it, it could destroy the relationship we have.