weekend free-for-all – August 23-24, 2014

Lucy and OliveIt’s the weekend 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.

{ 764 comments… read them below }

    1. persephone mulberry*

      Sneaky! I wouldn’t have even come looking until tomorrow if it hadn’t popped up on Facebook.

  1. Christina*

    Any other farmers market fiends here? I love this season for the nectarines, corn and tomatoes (though it’s been a rough year for tomatoes) but I’m kind of sad that I’m starting to see apples at the markets in Chicago. In the plus side, great watermelon this week and I bought fresh cranberry beans for the first time that are destined to be mixed with some sautéed cavallo negro kale and garlic, yum.

      1. Christina*

        Yeah, for the most part, the farmers market is not the place to get cheap produce, except for one stand at the market I go to that’s been selling cucumbers, zucchini/summer squash, green peppers, and eggplant for 10/$1 :-)

        I have a whole soap box for the myth that farmers market produce is cheap though, but I’ll spare you all.

        1. Tris Prior*

          I’ve always wondered why everyone always says that farmer’s market produce is so cheap…. because here in Chicago I find it really expensive and I can’t shop there more than once a month or so. :/

          1. the gold digger*

            I go to the FM in the poorer part of town. The one in my neighborhood has crazy expensive prices, but I can get the same stuff a lot more cheaply by driving ten minutes to another neighborhood. It is an interesting study in market pricing!

      2. Noah*

        Prices are really reasonable where I live. At least compared to the likes of Whole Foods. I’ve gotten great deals by going towards the end of the day.

    1. Anonymous*

      I love the farmer’s markets! They’re becoming really popular here in the UK and my town has just started one too (along with pop-up pubs stocking local ales – really great idea!) I went to Borough Market (2000 year old market in London) for the first time last week and tried all sorts of things I’ve never tried before. Tomatoes are fab for us this year. I try to eat a rainbow of food and went to my local market this morning and picked up so many great things for my salads next week – fennel, chard, kale, beetroot, and tomatoes of course – YUM indeed!

    2. Artemesia*

      came home today with 3 gigantic yellow marrows (guess we will bake them stuffed with sausage or something, it is way more than the two of us can eat but they were 3/1) also got peaches, tomatoes (haven’t really had good ones yet so I keep getting different ones — this time some heirlooms), apricots and a winter squash and some corn. Still have a big bowl of peach/strawberry/blueberry fresh salad dressed with balsamic vinegar and honey in the ice box from Wednesday’s market.

      Love this time of year for produce although the peaches have not been as good as those we got when we lived in a large southern city — then we had peaches every day from June through early October.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I once wore my “National [bone] Marrow Donor Program” tee shirt when I was in the UK, and it was then I learned that some people consider “marrow” to mean a kind of squash. :D

    3. Jen RO*

      I’m currently on holiday in Finland and I’m shocked at the prices. All the fruits and vegetables are 3 times more expensive than at home!

      1. voluptuousfire*

        Finland is expensive AND on the Euro. Beautiful country though! Helsinki is my spiritual home. :)

        Gotta love the Nordics. How’s the weather?

        1. Jen RO*

          I’m back late to the thread, but the weather was OK (well, 15-20 C compared to 35C back home – an average of those would have been great!), the city was nice and relaxed, and I got to meet friends so yay!

    4. GrumpyBoss*

      Didn’t make the farmers market today but I am a CSA addict. Got a teaser email this AM for the first apples of the season. I’m pretty excited.

    5. AmyNYC*

      I haven’t found good nectarines at my farmers market, but I’ve been making kale, avocado, nectarine and almond salads for lunch. Super good and filling!

    6. nep*

      My Saturday morning ritual. This morning — nice beets, carrots, and spinach. Love everything about the farmer’s market.

    7. StudentA*

      This year, I tried it for the first time ever, and was BLOWN AWAY by the difference in taste! I thought the produce would be more natural/sustainable, and was into the idea of supporting independent, local farmers. But I rarely do any shopping, so just never made it a priority. Well, I couldn’t believe how good the food tasted! I am willing to do it more often, when I actually do any shopping and can spare the extra cost.

      1. Christina*

        Yeah, there are a lot of foods I didn’t think I liked until I tried fresher, more in-season, more local varieties. Raw tomatoes area the biggest example (I loved pasta sauce and most things made from tomatoes, but not raw) when I discovered out of season tomatoes from the grocery store tasted NOTHING like the fresh in season version (I won’t even buy them out of season now), but I also discovered this week that cantaloupe doesn’t always taste like sad chain hotel breakfast buffet.

        1. StudentA*

          Funny, we have similar taste! I, too, love tomato sauces (in Italian and Indian foods, to boot), but don’t enjoy them raw. And I am not a major cantaloupe fan, unless it’s a really good one.

        2. Gene*

          I don’t eat a lot of fruit, but when I do, it’s fresh, local and in season (except bananas). If only I could convince SWMBO to do the same.

        3. the gold digger*

          Tomatoes are the reason for FMs and gardening. I have almost nothing else in my garden but tomatoes. (I also have some basil and some fancy lettuce and pimentos de Padron.) Once you have tasted a tomato that tastes as a tomato should, you will never go back.

    8. Anon*

      I love them. The markets where I live now (WI) are tiny and sad compared to what I’m used to (CA) but it’s still a great weekend ritual to walk to a farmer’s market early in the morning. (Also, while I miss pretty much everything else about California markets, especially the fact that they’re open 12 months a year instead of 3, it IS nice to have minimal crowds and NO tourists at your market, just a few people buying their groceries.)

      I always make a bunch of impulse purchases and buy more than necessary, and that makes me eat healthier because I’m forced to somehow consume all of these veggies in a week so I can buy more the next!

    9. Melissa*

      Wouldn’t say I’m a fiend, but I do like farmer’s markets. They aren’t less expensive but I do love the fall ones, especially – the pumpkins and apples are soooo good and I love honey and apple cider from farmer’s markets. This year I’m going to try go make more of my pumpkin desserts with actual pumpkin (as opposed to canned)…I was going to try last year but between writing a dissertation and having like 6 inches of counter space…no. I’m in a bigger apartment now, so we’ll see what happens!

    10. stellanor*

      I rolled through just before my local farmer’s market closed this weekend and bought 4 pounds of tomatoes to make a nice sauce. The guy takes my money and says, “Let me give you a few more.” And starts popping more tomatoes into my bag.

      When I got home and weighed them I had 6 1/2 pounds of tomatoes. I am going to have to make a lot of sauce. On the plus side they are *delicious*.

    1. Cross Eyed Kitten*

      (Confused) I’m not seeing the part where there’s a description of the assignment. If the student wrote that they bought a gun to shoot a dinosaur and take care of business that’s one thing. The article makes it seem like the student wrote “I bought a gun! I’m going to take care of business!”on an assignment.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This is pathetic.

      I guess all these people believed he shot a dinosaur?

      He feels that he should be able to write about shooting a dinosaur. We’ll get a bunch of lawyers on this. Nothing here that $250K won’t solve.

      I wonder if any of these people have listened to what is in songs on the radio now. It’s far-far worse than what this guy did here.

    3. Momiitz*

      I did not see anything about a dinosaur either. I think the teacher did the right thing in reporting it so it could be investigated.

      1. Amtelope*

        I’m not sure why people are saying they didn’t see anything about a dinosaur. Directly from the article linked:

        Stone said he and his classmates were told in class to write a few sentences about themselves, and a “status” as if it was a Facebook page. Stone said in his “status” he wrote a fictional story that involved the words “gun” and “take care of business.”

        “I killed my neighbor’s pet dinosaur, and, then, in the next status I said I bought the gun to take care of the business,” Stone said.

    4. Loose Seal*

      I think a lot of these stories get blown out of proportion because it’s the student affected and their parents that do the original reporting to the news. We had one locally get crazy because a high school senior said she was suspended for saying “bless you” in class when she was really suspended for arguing with the teacher after the teacher reminded her to remain quiet while the class was doing a keyboarding (typewriting) speed test. But the internet has gone nuts with the supposed suppression of her religious beliefs and ignored the real reason.

      1. Melissa*

        This. I remember in high school a lot of kids used “bless you” as an excuse to talk/distract themselves during exams, and the teachers were pretty wise to it. Besides, bless you doesn’t really have religious connotations anymore – it’s just a social nicety, unless they’re trying to convince people that they really believe their souls are sneezed out through their noses.

    5. Observer*

      This has to be one of the most ridiculous over-reactions I’ve seen, and there are plenty of crazy stories out there.

  2. Masters Degree Searcher*

    Yesterday was my birthday but with job searching and all it was crazy. Stressful. I know we’re not supposed to talk jobs but a recruiter called me after I finished watching a movie in a movie theater just to tell me I got rejected. Ugh. Luckily, I have an appointment at a fancy politico-y place Monday.

    I feel super pessimistic and burned out though. How do I cheer myself up during my birthday weekend? (And seriously, who calls up a person on their birthday and spends 15 minutes telling them they were rejected albeit for a fortune 500 job?) I mean, *really.” :/

    1. ForestPlot*

      I think email is appropriate for many rejections save breakups- reminds of that infamous YouTube song text message breakup.

      This prompted me to think about what do we want when we are broken up with?

      Really do I WANT a list of why?
      And dependent on length/problems in relationship, I know WHY.

    2. Steve G*

      I was unemployed the month before (and a few weeks after I turned 29). Then 2 weeks after I was offered my current job which turned into my dream job. On my bday my family was having a family dinner and I didn’t show up because I was too depressed and PO’d that there was no birthday coincidence of like, getting a call for a dream interview. Now I wish I had showed up at my parents, because not going didn’t make a darn difference in the world…..and maybe you’ll get your dream job 2 weeks after?!?!?!

    3. krisl*

      Maybe the person spent the 15 minutes because the recruiter thinks you have potential and wants to help you get a job in the future? Otherwise, unless the person is just a jerk who likes rejecting people, I’m not sure why anyone would spend that much time on it.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ugh, that’s lame of the recruiter. I hope you said “THANK YOU FOR SPOILING MY BIRTHDAY YOU FIEND!”
      Or maybe not.

      I hope you did something fun yesterday, and if not, do something today. Go to a restaurant that gives you cake on your birthday. Hang out with friends. Lie around in your PJs and watch silly cartoons. Do whatever you want!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t afford big cons, and I don’t like crowds anyway. Our tiny local con is about all I can handle. It may not be much and we don’t usually get superstars, but it’s better than paying hundreds of dollars (or pounds) to stand in line for hours and then get two seconds with someone cool. At ours, at least we have time to talk to people for a few minutes.
      I don’t like collecting autographs or paying for selfies either, but there are exceptions. :)

      (Ignore how dorky I look when I smile)

    2. Anonymous*

      Hmmm. I might. I like literary cons and I keep thinking I’d like to try WorldCon and visit that part of the country for the first time too; although, obviously that would require extra days.

  3. Eden*

    I have to just leave a nonsense comment: shmuncoflan!

    I’m here because I have a friend over and we’re trying to paint the deck…but it’s raining. Pooey. Happy weekend, everyone!

  4. Felicia*

    What other blogs do people here like, other than Ask A Manager of course? I know this has been other free for alls, but would love to hear other suggestions!

    Some other blogs I like are Captain Awkward, Adulting, Raising My Rainbow (about a woman raising her gender non conforming son), Cake Wrecks, Feministing, Feminist Fiction, Jerry-mahoney. com (about 2 gay men raising twins and their journey of parenthood) ., Confused Cats Against Feminist, which is hilarious, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops, Passive Aggressive Notes.

    You get the idea! What other blogs are you guys fans of?

    1. Jackie*

      I love:

      The Jealous Curator (art)

      Dinner: A Love Story (cooking, food, family life, and books)

      My Open Wallet (personal finance. she rarely posts anymore, but the archives are wonderful)


      My Morning Routine (exactly what it sounds like)

      The New Potato (eats of the creative class)

      Pret a Voyager (travel, design, Paris life)

      Yes and Yes (travel, lifestyle, positivity)

      Corporette (for the open threads, not the fashion)

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Dedicated reader of Go Fug Yourself and Epbot.

      Casual reader of Corporette, Cake Wrecks, The Bloggess, and The Pioneer Woman.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        People have referenced this site before on here and I’ve been meaning to check it out…I just opened it up and I can feel the rest of my afternoon being sucked away. :D

        1. Windchime*

          I dunno; there doesn’t seem to actually be a lot of useful content on Unf*ck Your Habitat. Or maybe I just don’t get it?

          I like to read CakeWrecks, Corporette (mostly because of voyeurism) and The Vivienne Files (super cool wardrobe advice that always makes me want to go out and try to find an Hermes scarf in a thrift store). Also BetterAfter, which is a super cool blog that shows Before and After of DIY projects, mostly furniture refinishing and room decor. Very inspiring. And SQL Authority, but that’s probably not the kind of blog that most people read for fun. :)

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            I’m currently scrolling backward through the tumblr. It’s nice to see that my house isn’t atypical, and I might just take some Before pictures.

          2. Rayner*

            Unfuck your habitat is not meant to be a ‘how to guide’ pure and simple – if you use their tumblr, there’s tags which link to the guides like how to deal with cat pee, stains, or the weekly challenges. Challenges are things like, “tackle a surface that doesn’t normally get done,” or something.


            People post before and afters to show the progress that can be made with just ten or twenty minutes of work, and also to show people that it’s not impossible to clean a space. They also post questions and link to important articles which can help people.

            Lots of people struggle with keeping a house clean and tidy for various reasons – depression, chronic pain or ill health, working two jobs, living with horrible housemates etc ,or they were never taught how to do it in a sustainable way- and unfu is about how to tackle it and keep it working.

            I like it because it’s not stress inducing and it doesn’t preach. :D

          3. Variation*

            There’s a lot of useful content on the sidebar of UfYH- the welcome packet and master post, especially. I like to do the challenges on the weekends.

            The blog itself is mostly for motivation and success stories, but there’s a lot of useful content on the site.

    3. Alice*

      I think someone posted in an open thread before, I wish I had written down/bookmarked the others. But aside from ones already mentioned, I loove Offbeat Home, and its sister site, Offbeat Bride (justbecauseitsprettyimnotplanningnosiree!!). OBH covers a wide variety of topics, from decorating, gardening, socializing, relationship communication, etc.

    4. Diet Coke Addict*

      Not quite a blog, but The Toast, obsessively

      Otherwise, Go Fug Yourself, The Bad Advisor, Suri’s Burn Book, the Royal Order of Sartorial Splendour, What Kate Wore, and Caity Weaver’s Thatz Not Okay column on Gawker.

    5. AmyNYC*

      Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn
      (New York central blogs, sorry) Curbed, Gothamist, Brownstoner

      1. AmyNYC*

        Almost forgot Adventurous Kate – travel blogger based in London, she’s got tips for travel all over the world and how to travel solo as a woman, save for travel, all kind of good stuff

    6. Alicia*

      I’m big into the personal finance blogs (and have one myself), so I read tonnes of those daily. But if I’m branching farther out, I really love Franish (style blog of a med student).

    7. Red*

      I’m a fan of Just Hungry, Slog, and JoeMyGod (just to include some which aren’t named here), plus Clients from Hell. I miss Regretsy! That was the first blog to actually make me laugh aloud.

    8. Liane*

      Not a big blog reader, compared to some of you. But there are 2 I keep up with.
      I like Justin Peters’ Crime blog on Slate. It covers everything from the very serious to the hilarious. Among the latter is the best-ever Stupid Criminal feature, which includes a 1-10 scale and ways the criminal could have been more or less stupid. Alas, it is on hiatus until October, while the blogger finishes his book.

      The second is Dono’s Gaming & Etc Blog on Blogspot, primarily about role playing games. It’s written by a close friend of mine who is a freelance game developer on the side.* I do get a mention once in a while, which is very cool.

      *He has a real day job & has told me some stories about that which would be right at home here.

    9. Bird Trainer*

      Not necessarily a blog like this, but notalwaysright.com. For anyone who has ever worked in retail, call centers, etc. and knows the customer is not always right…

      1. ECH*

        Glad you posted that! A friend shared that link on Facebook the other day and it is my new addiction!

    10. 15*

      I love The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee, a blog about fostering kittens, and “here’s that bad advice you were hoping for”.

    11. Smilingswan*

      So many, but Hyperbole and a Half, The Oatmeal, Post Secret, The Pintester, Trout Nation, This Is Thin Privilege, The “Blog” of “Unnecessary” Quotation Marks, and Text from Dog are my faves.

        1. salad fingers*

          Have you read the book? It might just be a compilation of stories from her blog, not sure. My boyfriend got it for me last month and I laughed so hard at the goose story that I cried. So hard that I had hiccups. I had to put it down and walk around for a second. Her sense of humor is sort of perfect.

          1. fposte*

            There’s a lot of overlap with the blog, but there’s some stuff that’s new in the book (and some stuff on the blog that I wish would be in the book, like the Kenny Loggins Christmas).

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I only have time to read a few, like this one. I like Hyperbole and a Half and Cake Wrecks and I read posts from writers I follow on Twitter when they post them.

      I SHOULD NOT BE READING THIS–I NEED TO BE WORKING (but I’m eating breakfast)

    13. The Other Dawn*

      I really like Thug Kitchen. It has recipes but they’re written like some people speak. Funny as hell! “Chop the shit outta those onions and toss into the fucking bowl with all the other shit…” So funny.

      The Kitchn, The World According to Eggface, Bariatric Foodie, Donal Skehan, and Culinary Couture.

    14. Anonymous Educator*

      Apart from this one, my favorites are Heck Yeah Karen Healey and Laci Green‘s Tumblr.

      Others I’ve liked in the past but don’t seem to be updated any more are Tea Party Jesus and No, Seriously What About Teh Menz?

    15. Elkay*

      Epbot (Jen from Cake Wrecks’s other blog)
      The Bloggess
      The Oatmeal
      Frugal by Choice Cheap by Necessity

    16. Bonnie Doon*

      My regular faves after Ask a Manager are Mr Money Mustache, Mark’s Daily Apple and Raptitude. Love love love them.

      also love Captain Awkward!

  5. Anon*

    I’m having trouble getting along with my brother’s girlfriend, as is my mother. I’m sort of lucky that I don’t have to see her often as I live far enough away, but I’ve not been visiting my parents because I don’t want to spend my weekend with this lady. My mother has to see her regularly and is really struggling. I’m praying they’ll break up and hope she doesn’t get pregnant. But they’ve been together two years and live together now. How have you coped when you seriously disliked your sibling’s/child’s other half? If it helps, she doesn’t make any effort to converse when she visits, she had a text conversation with my brother when my brother and I were talking (she was sat right next to him – it was so weird at the time I didn’t call them out on it), she is mono-syllabic, which makes trying to get to know her really hard (me: how are you/hows work, her: fine, me: got any nice plans for tomorrow/next week, her: no). I just find her unpleasant to spend time with. Any help with this would be really appreciated!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Could you ask your brother, “Is there anything we could do to help Jane feel more comfortable around us? We’d like to get to know her better and would love to make her feel more comfortable talking to us when we’re all together.”

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Although sometimes there is nothing. My brother’s first wife to whom he was married for 35 years was condescending to our entire family (never got it, as we all come from the same lower middle class backgrounds and my husband and I are more educated and in more prestigious jobs by far than she was — but my brother was duncan the wonderhorse and she just shined in his reflected glory. She really got off on being Mrs. Wonderhorse.) She was so awful to my mother who while a tad annoying was not at all intrusive and lived far away so she saw her seldom — but she always made her feel like dirt. My brother did her wrong and they divorced and while sympathetic to her situation, we were really pleased to not have her in our lives. The new wife (Mrs. Donewrongwith) was a sweetheart to my mother and that greatly smoothed Mom’s dismay at the divorce.

        My son has a wonderful fiance an generally has had lovely accomplished friendly girlfriends over the years — but there was ONE that we really held our breaths would not be ‘the one.’ I don’t think you can change rude people much.

        1. Anon*

          I think there is a little of the reflected glory thing going on. My brother is creative, driven, has his own business, is in a band. His girlfriend is in a dead end job and appears to have no outside interests (not that she’s told me about anyway!) I’m worried because I’m similar to my brother in that I’m quite creative, free spirited etc and I’ve attracted friends and boyfriends in the past who made out like they were into the same things as me but ended up sucking my energy and giving nothing back. I’m worried she’s one of those energy vampires.

          1. Red*

            I’ve been the unliked girlfriend before–I always am extra reserved around people whose judgment I want to avoid as much as possible, so I do not talk about my hobbies, passions, interests unless really pressed, generally. As a result I’ve come off as quite boring, but at least it’s spared me the irritation of the “oh you’re into weiiiird things” nonsense. That may be where this girlfriend’s at right now. (In reality I am into weird things! But if I think someone else is into some weird things, maybe we have something to talk about, like keeping bees, making pickles, science fiction, and videogames!)

            1. Sarahnova*

              I’m not necessarily into keeping bees and making pickles (or at least I don’t know much; I’ve got nothing against them) but I’d be totally interested to hear you talk about them if we met. Sure, judgy people gonna judge and don’t unnecessarily expose yourself to them, but I hope you’re not filtering out people you could connect with just because you don’t think they share your hobbies. Not intending to lecture you, but I do picture meeting you, genuinely wanting to get to know you, and being a bit frustrated and baffled that you seem so unwilling to meet me halfway. Everyone’s gotta make a bit of effort with the in-laws, after all.

              Anyway. Didn’t mean to go off on a rant; you do you; your hobbies sound awesome.

              1. Red*

                It’s probably mainly an artifact of where I grew up! I’ve been conditioned to keep my mouth shut about anything remotely “unusual.” I don’t mean to say that I ignore opportunities to open up (the opposite–I’m often quietly waiting for a hint that we, for most given values of ‘other person,’ might have some commonality), but in a position like the unliked girlfriend’s, I’d certainly stay clammed up.

            2. the gold digger*

              I am the unliked daughter in law. I have tried to get them to like me, but have given up – there is nothing I can. I have robbed them of their precious son – any love he gives to me is love that they don’t get.

              I thought it was me – that I was doing something really wrong. I didn’t get it – other parents had liked me. It wasn’t until I found out that one of the reasons my FIL dislikes me is because of the way I eat bacon that I realized it is all them. That they decided not to like me from the very beginning and there is nothing I can do.

              So now I make no effort. I have not visited in almost four years. I write letters to my MIL to keep her off my husband’s back, but I write about gardening and books. I never did respond to her comment in a letter that she had had to make her husband’s parents like her and I would need to do the same.

              1. Melissa*

                Are you the person who blogs elsewhere about this? I seem to vaguely remember reading a series of hilarious blog posts about a woman who (among other things) has to deal with her crazy in-laws, including one particular one about how the father-in-law hated the way she ate her bacon, and I was linked from here.

                …and now I realize that your name actually links to the blog. LOL.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Yes. I am the Bad Bacon Eater.

                  Cruciatus, I am a Bad Bacon Eater because I tear the flabby fat away and eat only the lean. My husband’s dad said I was insulting the cook by doing this. (He brought this up to my husband a year after this happened.)

                  Other reasons I am bad daughter in law include the fact that I did not offer oatmeal to my FIL when he was already eating cornflakes and that I stood up for my husband’s niece when FIL was correcting her pronunciation for a word she had not mispronounced.

                1. the gold digger*

                  Of course you offer melon improperly! You are not doing it right! How on earth could their child ever have picked an Improper Melon Offerer/Ugly Coat Wearer?

                  Come join my support group: People with mean in-laws whose meanness is so weird that most people who have not experienced that kind of thing will think you are nuts.

                2. Anonsie*

                  I am sure I am one of these things to my inlaws, but luckily they can only complain in a language I don’t speak and my partner keeps whatever they tell him to himself. He knows it won’t help for me to know, anyway.

          2. Observer*

            That sounds like a fair amount of projection and judgement. Clearly, she’s not pretending to like the stuff you like, so whatever is going on, it’s not what you describe.

      2. Anon*

        My brother actually phoned me to ask me what he could do to improve things between my mother and his girlfriend. We had a long chat about it and he said she was just shy. I’ve got friends and colleagues who are shy but they tend to overcompensate in social situations. She gives us nothing to work with. Her behaviour is more akin to a teenager. And she’s known me long enough now to at least be able to say “hello” when she sees me (she doesn’t even do this). I always approach her, ask her how she is etc but get little back. On a particularly painful visit (my last one home in fact) I tried getting us playing a board game and pairing up with her in the hopes of bonding – I tried whispering tactics, making jokes etc – but she barely cracked a smile. I then got a bottle of wine out thinking a little alcohol might lubricate the wheels, but she was same (and she really tucked into it – as did I – I was desperate at that point!) I’ve never asked my brother what I should do to make her feel comfortable because I’ve been reading it as rudeness rather than discomfort so I’ll give that a shot. I’ll try anything at this point!

        1. BRR*

          Have you had any one on one time? Maybe your brother can let his gf know that her shyness is being misinterpreted. My SO is kind of shy and also a quiet person, especially if there are more talkative people in the room. My family is pretty loud. I let him know before he first met them that they might think he’s being a little rude if he is too quiet.

        2. Tomato Frog*

          This is one of my hobbyhorses: people who are quiet and uncommunicative are almost never being deliberately rude. It is almost always shyness or reserve!

          1. Tomato Frog*

            And I just wanna add: it’s still rude and inconsiderate to behave like OP’s brother’s girlfriend. But it’s usually not malicious, and I think it’s helpful to remember that.

        3. Anonna*

          As an introvert, there is nothing I hate more than someone who feels like they can jolly me out of my shyness. During the rare social visits with my husband’s family (who are all perfectly nice people who would love to see more of us), I don’t mean to come across as rude (and I don’t think they take it that way), but I would prefer if everyone just forgot I was there. A bunch of wine would make me feel better about being stuck there, but it won’t “bring me out of my shell”. I’m always grateful for people who can recognize this and don’t overwhelm me with friendliness.

          1. Melissa*

            Shyness =/= introverted, though. My husband is an introvert but he’s not shy at all. And he actually can be jollied out of his reserve – in group settings he tends to be reserved and uncommunicative until he decides that he likes people, at which point his true personality shines through. He wasn’t like that with my family for obvious reasons, but he’s definitely been like that with my friends, which leads to hilarious comments like “Your husband is so quiet!” (NO. No he’s not.)

            And I’ve met quite a few people who are shy or introverted (or both) who can be coaxed out of their shyness when they feel comfortable in a setting, and “feeling comfortable” usually involves including them in conversations and showing approachability without forcing them to talk or smothering them with perkiness.

        4. Coco*

          It’s clear she’s shy, but this is extreme enough that it’s over into rude territory. If she were my sibling’s SO, I’d ask my sibling if she is similarly shy when around other people or when she and sibling are alone. I might also ask if there is something we may have done to put her off, like a bad first impression or something. But those questions might not feel right for you to ask, depending on your family culture and your relationship with your brother.

        5. Elizabeth West*

          She could have really bad social anxiety. I don’t know, but I think you’re on the right track thinking of it as discomfort rather than rudeness. It sounds like she doesn’t know how to connect any more than you do (and possibly less so).

        6. Anonsie*

          My partner is like this. He flips a switch when we go hang out with “my” people, even though he’s known many of them for years. He’s just reserved and doesn’t get comfortable that easily.

    2. Tomato Frog*

      She sounds to me like a super shy person who has withdrawn as her coping mechanism.

      If she happens to be a geeky or nerdy person, are there any areas of mutual interest you can try to engage her on? A shy nerdy person is going to open up a lot more quickly if you, say, ask them about Dr. Who or their opinions on copyright law, than if you ask them if they have plans for the weekend.

      Alternately, if that sort of tack doesn’t help, my advice would be to stop trying to get to know her. Based on what you’ve said, it sounds like your anger mostly arises from exerting yourself to be friendly and getting nothing in return. You’ll be less resentful if you’re not exerting yourself. Be polite and smile but don’t expend any energy beyond that.

      1. Anon*

        She likes art and I’ve tried to engage with her on that (I love to draw still-life and paint) but still nothing. I’ll ask my brother if there’s anything I can do to make her feel comfortable then if it doesn’t work, just let it go and be polite but no more than that. Thank you all!

    3. Student*

      Holy cow. I think you are going about this in completely the wrong way. I’m not surprised she is avoiding you – you come off as very much wanting to know why you should be bothered to like her, and looking for validation here as to not liking her.

      This person is important to your brother and an outsider in your family social circle. Instead of trying to get her to take interest in YOU and the things that YOU want to do, make this more about her. Instead of having your goal be to get something out of your brother’s girlfriend, make your goal be to give something to her. Your brother can help out with this.

      Attempt #1: Ask your brother what you might have in common with his girlfriend. He is the person in the best position to figure this out – clearly you have no clue about her, and she probably has no clue about you. He should be able to help you find a topic you two can both talk about. Then, initiate a conversation with her about that topic.

      If that fails because your brother is socially useless, or because you two turn out to have nothing in common whatsover – time to go to the almost-never-fails Attempt#2: Figure out something she cares about, and listen to her talk about it. Your brother ought to be a great resource who can tell you what she is interested in and likely to want to talk about. Then, even if you don’t care about the things she does, ask her about them. Listen to what she has to say. Ask some questions to stay engaged in the conversation. Keep positive. Even though this conversation will not be “beneficial” to you, it’ll open the social doors and get her to talk to you. It’ll give her something – a chance to talk about and share things she cares about.

      If that doesn’t work either, it’s time to go to Attempt#3. Accept her for who and what she is. Let her sit in a corner on visits and play on her phone, because that is who she is. She may never really hit it off with you. She may pretty much just ignore you. Let her be, and accept that she isn’t entertainment for you – she is someone special to your brother who you don’t connect with. She hasn’t been insulting to you – she just wants to stay out of the way while you and your brother socialize.

      1. Student*

        To emphasize: as you attempt to get to know her, LISTEN more than you TALK. Otherwise. you will get nowhere.

        If you find you are filling all the airspace talking to yourself, this is a major sign of a failed attempt. That means you should give it up and try again later.

        1. Momiitz*

          But that’s just it. OP tries to find something the girlfriend would be interested in talking about. The girlfriend keeps giving one word answers. How can you listen to someone who refuses to talk?

      2. Fish Microwaver*

        Bit harsh, don’t you think? I didn’t get that the OP wanted the brothers GF to be entertainment, just that she wanted to feel more connected with her.

      3. Melissa*

        I don’t know, I don’t agree with this completely. I do agree that family members sometimes need to accept their siblings’ SOs for who they are, but a long-term partner or spouse becomes part of the family. There needs to be some meeting in the middle – OP should take some interest in her of course, but the partner should also take at least minimal interest in her partner’s siblings. Just as the SO is part of the brother’s life, the siblings are also part of the brother’s life too, and people who were quite frankly special to the brother long before she was ever in the picture.

        And to be frank again – it is very rude for someone to sit in a corner and play on their phone during social visits with family. That may be who she is, and the family may have to leave her to it. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can’t conclude that she is rude and dislikable because of that. If she doesn’t want to connect with the family, that’s okay, but why not just stay home instead of come along?

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Oh gosh. I have this going on with a friend of mine. The girl will not talk to my friend, at all. And as you are saying sits there with the phone texting away. This has been going on for years and there seems to be no end in sight.

      In all sincerity – the woman needs help. She needs to go for counseling, perhaps she needs a full check up while she is at it.
      Not only is she shy but she is refusing to help herself. It’s more than one problem.

      In my story there are now kids involved. The kids are not being taken care of properly. Because she is still sitting there texting away.

      You can’t have a conversation with someone who is unwilling to converse. Likewise, you cannot have a relationship with someone who is refusing to build a relationship with you. There are plenty of shy people out there that can figure out they must speak to their SO’s family. And some how they manage. This is not a shyness problem- it’s moved to a higher level.

      1. Lamb*

        NSNR, usually you have good stuff to say, but in this case you are reading a lot in to one instance of Ms.Monosyllable texting with her boyfriend in front of his sibling. Maybe she didn’t want to disrupt their conversation but needed to remind him of something or get information from him. Or she finds it hard to get a word in edgewise, or she was so relieved that the two people who actually want to be visiting with eachother were having a conversation instead of someone focusing on dragging answers out of her that she was trying to draw as little attention to herself as possible.
        I would text my husband in front of the in laws, although I would be hoping they didn’t notice, for things like “don’t tell so-and-so about X outing; we agreed we weren’t inviting anyone along” or “did you ask about Z yet?” or “when are we leaving?” and I actually get along well with my in laws. It’s easy to imagine in the described dynamic that there would be even more things that Ms. Monosyllable would not want Anon and/or Anon’s mom to hear.
        Back to my point; it’s a huge leap to go from “doesn’t really talk much, and this one time was texting” to “is so absorbed in phone is neglecting own children”, and likening the two is not going to help Anon get into a headspace to try new solutions to be welcoming and get along better with the brother’s girlfriend.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If it were one instance of this I would whole heartedly agree with you. Heck, I could even agree if it had been going on for a couple months. I would say “Keep working at things.”

          But the couple has been together for two years and now live together. The progression in the story shows the mother is still struggling and now even the brother is asking for help. And that is what I am responding to.

          You’re correct in saying that my comment was not that helpful to Anon. This might be a situation that needs to be handled on a professional level. It might not be something she can fix. And the suggestions here are very good, I think Anon should definitely try these things. (Most certainly, I did not mean to lessen anyone’s suggestion. I apologize for that.) But in fairness to Anon, I felt I had to point that out.

          I would love to be wrong and have over-estimated the nature of the situation. It’s very sad when people cannot connect to each other. I often say “Do not allow yourself to fall into isolation.”

          We all do this- we throw our thoughts out there and something resonates or it doesn’t with the OPs. If Anon decides “You know what- that NSNR has no clue what she is talking about, I am going to forge ahead with my other plan here.” In an odd way, I have helped seal the deal for her. Anon will have firmed up her own ideas on the matter and move forward in the way that makes the most sense with what she is seeing. I hope Anon finds something here in all these comments that is helpful to her.

          And, if Anon gains any insight I would be interesting in hearing so I can pass her story to my friend who is wrestling with a similar situation.

          1. Anonna*

            I’ve seen the suggestion a few times in this thread that maybe the girlfriend should seek professional help for her shyness or social anxiety. If the girlfriend doesn’t see it as a problem or doesn’t want to change, I’m wondering why anyone thinks it’s okay to suggest she needs to be the one to fix herself to make them feel more comfortable. Therapy should be for the person seeking it. I’m shy, but don’t have any overwhelming desire to get over it. I don’t feel I’m missing out by not connecting with husband’s family, and I have my own friends who understand me and aren’t pushy. I find it a little rude that people think this woman needs to change to make them feel better.

            1. Melissa*

              Shyness is different from social anxiety, though. Shyness isn’t pathological; it’s just a normal expression of human personality. Social anxiety can be psychologically damaging, though, and could require some help.

              However, I agree that I think it’s strange so many people concluded that this must be from social anxiety. It sounds like plain old shyness, introversion, or maybe just an anti-social personality (in the non-psychiatric use of the word). Or maybe she doesn’t like the in-laws and she’s just finding the politest way to refrain from expressing her disdain for them.

          2. Lamb*

            I agree that some of the suggestions (especially asking the brother for ideas about her interests and for tips for putting her at ease) could really help, and that after 2 years it is definitely an ongoing problem. I just feel like it may be a problem from she’s shy/introverted/awkward/uncomfortable around his family sources rather than from whatever deeper issues are going on when someone is too caught up in something (in the case you mention, their phone) to care for their child.
            For Anon’s brother’s girlfriend, I wonder if part of it is that she doesn’t think Anon and the mother’s interest/welcome are genuine? Like if she thinks Anon and the mother’s attempts to be friendly are because the brother put them up to it (given that he called Anon to talk about improving relations it doesn’t seem totally out of character), or if she’s from an extended family where there’s a lot of judging or backstabbing so their friendly behavior set off alarms as digging for dirt on her. Whatever it initially was, it’s clear that Anon dislikes her now, so the friendliness really is forced, and it could be Anon’s acting skills aren’t upto the job.

    5. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

      I have to be honest – I’d probably be pretty quiet in the situation you describe too.
      Have you tried talking about something you’re both interested in, in a group? (even one other person) So that she can listen and offer thoughts when she’s comfortable without being put on the spot with questions? You say she enjoys art – does she produce it, is she interested in art history, what sort of art? Talking about this cool ‘X of the sort of thing she likes’ that you saw/did/read about could give the opening.
      Does your family tend to have rapid-fire conversations with lots of jumping-in and interrupting and talking-over? Some people are really uncomfortable interrupting and if it happens enough times that they never have a chance to talk with a particular group of people…you tend to start thinking ‘why bother, they aren’t going to listen anyway’.
      Could you try the three of you – you, your brother, and his girlfriend – having lunch together in a restaurant? It’s sometimes easier to talk when it’s somewhere public rather than someone’s house.

      good luck!

    6. Elkay*

      Coming at this from a slightly different direction (although I find the texting plain rude) – if you’re all chatty people and she’s happy sitting quietly in the corner just let her be. Ask her one or two questions but don’t be upset when she doesn’t push the conversation further. I’d also push this back on your brother a little bit and encourage him to facilitate conversations to include everyone in the room.

    1. Former Professional Computer Geek*

      I work on (for) one of these sites. Thank you for your patronage. :-)

      1. Jen RO*

        I love all three, so I feel like we have a star among us :)

        (In the case of Not Always Right and its sister sites, I find the editing part fascinating. A couple of months ago some posts slipped by with editing comments still there, and I loved them.)

        1. Former Professional Computer Geek*

          Um. I have no idea if you’ll still see this, but that disturbs me greatly. Would you mind explaining what you mean by “editing comments still there?” What slipped through? (thx)

            1. Former Professional Computer Geek*

              That’s why I asked for clarification. Editor’s notes are not put inline with the document. If the notes appeared something went horribly wrong and I’d like to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

              1. Jen RO*

                I don’t know if you’re still reading, but it was what Alison said. It was many months ago and I can’t find it anymore, but it was along the lines of a parenthesis with “rephrase this in first person”. I only saw it 2-3 times in a few days period, and never since then.

                1. Former Professional Computer Geek*

                  Thanks for explaining! We no longer put editing comments in the document itself so this must have happened over a year ago. But it’s good to know it’s not something else gone wrong!

                2. Jen RO*

                  Even though it’s obviously a problem for the staff, I found the insight into the site’s workings fascinating. I had actually been wondering how all the entries can sound so similar and so… coherent! (I’m not weird, I swear, I just used to be a copy editor.)

  6. Cross Eyed Kitten*

    Do you feel like a failure in life? How do you deal with those feelings?

    I’m in a funk because I haven’t achieved several things that are important to me. Some things can eventually be gained through hard work, planning, and time. Other epic Life Dreams are statistically unlikely. And unfortunately, those epic Life Dreams are how society measures a successful person in addition to being personally important. Is this a time to adopt a serenity prayer attitude?

    1. A Non*

      I think it’s okay – and even important – to mourn dreams that will never come to be. Even if they’re statistically or physically improbable. When I was little my parents pulled me out of classes for something I adored because I was bad at it. I’ve had to work through a lot of anger to be able to enjoy returning to that hobby as an amateur adult.

      “Those epic Life Dreams are how society measures a successful person” – Sometimes a hearty “Fuck OFF Hollywood” is good for the soul.

    2. BRR*

      I think with my own goals, life is too unexpected to be too feel like I failed. Instead of having goals it’s more like, am I happy with how things are and what can I change about what I don’t like.

      Also for myself, it took me a long time to separate my expectations from society’s. I encourage everybody to not feel like they HAVE to do something.

    3. MJ*

      Asking people who feel like failures how they cope with those feelings is a sort of “misery loves company” approach to your situation. I am not sure the way to deal with negative feelings is to reach out to unhappy people. If you want to be happy, reach out to people who are happy and try to learn from them. You will probably find their happiness does not stem from their accomplishments as much as it does from living an authentic life, having people or pets in their lives that they love, having things in their life that interest them or that they are excited about or feel challenged by, feeling like they have choices, and liking themselves.

      You are measuring yourself by the things you hoped to do and haven’t done, when perhaps you should be looking at what you HAVE done, and more importantly what a fine person you have become (and you must be a fine person because you are soul-searching). You might also consider that your life path lies in a different direction than you thought it did, and now that you are figuring that out, you are open to seeing what life has in store for you.

    4. Anon*

      I’d be interested to know what sort of epic life dreams you think society is using to measure you by? I can’t think of any I’m using to universally measure people with. We’re all so complex and have different contexts that we are operating in. An impressive success for one person might be a walk in the park for another. It sounds like you’re being a bit hard on yourself. Maybe start looking at what you have achieved and congratulate yourself for those. You weren’t born with a ‘To Do’ list of what is expected of you stapled to your being, so it might be time to accept what has been left undone and let them go. Put your energy into something new that will bring you joy rather than spending your energy self flagellating, which will serve no one.

    5. Windchime*

      I don’t feel like a failure, but there was a time I did. I was (am) divorced and for awhile I felt that people would think I was a failure because I didn’t find a new mate. I actually felt that way as well, and I spun my wheels a lot in frustration and loneliness. After a few years, I finally decided that, for now, this is where I am and I would accept my current situation. I actually got a lot happier after that, and after many years I am realizing that I am quite content to be single and be in charge of my life. Yes, sometimes I’m still lonely but for the most part I’m quite content.

    6. De Minimis*

      Yes, I honestly feel like almost everything I’ve done in life, even the things that normally would be positive accomplishments have ended up being a mess.

    7. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Therapy. There’s nothing wrong with talking to a professional in order to recalibrate where you are in life. Best thing I ever did for myself.

      1. LPBB*

        I’m actually struggling with feelings of “failure” right now, all of which stem from my completely out of whack expectations for myself. I’m seeing a therapist to do with them and some other things going on and it is so helpful. You just have to find the right one, much easier said, and really commit to doing it.

    8. Just Visiting*

      What are these Epic Life Dreams? Are you talking about stuff like buying a house, having a high-paying job, being a parent, etc? I realized early on that the so-called American Dream holds zero interest for me, and that if I don’t really want to do something (or if I do, but I don’t want to take the steps to get there), then it isn’t really a “dream.” What are some of the things on this list, and do you really want them or do you feel like you just “should” want them?

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I have failed in some of my life dreams and succeeded in some things I never even thought about AT ALL.

      Life is funny/odd. You think you are going this way and you end up going that way, it makes no sense.

      Some dreams get lost in the reality check. I wanted a BIG house. As an adult, I realized I did not want all the work that went with a big home. What a money pit. I wanted time with friends and family more than I wanted a big home. I still drive by large houses and drool. But when I get home I know I have the house that is best for me. Did I fail here? Yes and No. Both answers are correct.

      I wanted a degree. It took me twenty years to get it. Did I fail? Yes and No. I failed to get it immediately. But I kept circling back until I finally completed it. It takes a certain type of strength to do that.

      Bluntly stated: Screw that noise about what society expects. That is can be a crutch to avoid the most important conversation. What do you expect of you? AND is what you expect of yourself something you actually WANT? Make your expectations match what you want and see where that puts you.

      1. Chloe*

        Exactly. I had therapy to come to this conclusion. All the ‘expectations’ I thought society had developed to judge me by came from…me. I had a brain full of rules that I was valiently stuggling to live by, and it was all a total waste of time – I made the rules up in my head, then imagined they came from the world at large. Once I realised that, it all became so much easier. I’ve become much stronger about making my own rules, and no longer doing things I don’t even like doing, and not beating myself up for things I would have once called failures, and just generally being kinder to myself.

        I hope you manage to see yourself in a more positive light, it is a very very much nicer way to live.

    10. Anx*

      Very much so.

      One thing that’s very difficult for me is that despite no direct pressure from my friends and family, there were some pretty high expectations of me (most of all from myself). I’ve so long defined myself by my accomplishments and ability to do things for others that I don’t know how to interact with anyone anymore.

      Withdrawing itself isn’t a very good idea. The upside is that I feel like I can live my life for myself. I just wish there was more ‘living.’

    11. nep*

      Sorry you’re in a funk.
      Perhaps it’s time to ignore society’s gauge for success, importance, or anything else. Don’t measure yourself against anyone else or against any random ‘standards’.
      How do you define success? What makes you glad to get up in the morning?
      You say you’ve not achieved several things that are important to you — Are they important to you for how society will see you, or for some sense of personal gratification and contentment? Or both, as you suggest in your post?
      You are not the sum total of your missed epic Life Dreams.

  7. Nina*

    Question for parents: is it normal for babies/toddlers to be sick often? My sister has three children (twins and a 3 year old) and they are always sick. No immune diseases or anything, but they are always catching something in daycare and being sent home. Colds, ear infections, stomach ailments, one of them had hand/foot/mouth disease, etc. I know kids are more susceptible because their immune systems are still developing, but it’s like every other week, one of them has something and has to be sent home. Is that normal? And if so, how do parents do it, especially single parents who work full-time?

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Yes, pretty much. Day care is basically a giant petri dish for all kinds of weird diseases, and kids pass them around like candy. So yes, it’s normal, and as to how parents do it…they get a lot of the same weird diseases (putting the kids into day care for the first time is notoriously sick-making, as is starting school) and suffer, pretty much.

      1. Geeri*

        Yes! I teach preschool. The kids who stayed home for 3 years get sick constantly when they start preschool at 3, the kids who went to daycare, dont get sick bc they have been through it already!!

    2. SeattleMom*

      Yep, daycare/preschool is an all new germ pool. I was never sicker than the first year my child was in daycare. Everything he got, I also got.

      1. Chloe*

        Some children and families are just more unlucky in this respect than others. I have a friend whose three kids get sick ALL the time, I mean seriously, its unusual to talk to her and not have one of them either sick right then, or recently recovered from being sick.

        My kids, on the other hand, have generally been pretty healthy. I can’t remember the last time No. 2 was home from school, or before that day care. No. 1 was sick more as a pre-schooler, but overall probably 4-6 times a year. Of course, I’ve had two life threatening illnesses, so I like to think I’ve taken two for the team, but its fair to say illness can vary wildly between families and even children within a family.

    3. Sarahnova*

      Yes, it’s totally normal. This is how children build an immune system. To skip the always-sick years (or vaccinations) would mean a much weaker adult immune system.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I referred to my children as “disease carrying vermin” during those years, if that gives you perspective.

    5. KCS*

      Yes, it is perfectly normal for babies to get sick a lot at daycare. It is a little heart-breaking but I tell myself they’re building up their imminity.

      My bosses were flexible and allowed me to work from home those days I had to stay home with a sick child. It happened several tines, but they saw I was getting my work done so it never became an issue. (I made up for it at night and other times, as necessary. Kinda tough working with a sick baby or toddler.)

      1. Manager anonymous*

        oh and my first year in a school as the pre-k through 8th grade librarian. sick all the time. Despite constant hand washing and “not sharing” pencils. If you “borrowed” a pencil from me, it was yours to keep.

    6. Observer*

      For some kids, more than others. But, PLEASE don’t jump in with advice, unless your sister asks you for advice or help.

    7. Melissa*

      They’re in day care and it’s mild? I’m not a parent but that sounds pretty normal to me. One of my cousin’s kid’s is in day care and he is always mildly ill with something, and his nose runs constantly. (Her other one is in the third grade and oddly enough never seems to get sick.)

  8. Mimmy*

    So I officially start my Advanced Certificate program on Thursday!! That is, if I can get the stupid BlackBoard platform to cooperate with me!! The school sent out an email with instructions on accessing an orientation on how to use BlackBoard and “meet other students” in your program. However, none of the instructions match!!! I just responded to the woman’s email with my issues.

    Speaking of BlackBoard, has anyone ever used it before for online classes? Is it easy? All of these online tools is proving to be quite the learning curve. You’d think I’d be a whiz at it all since my husband is a real IT geek, but no…. these “cloud” and collaboration technologies just make my head spin. lol.

    1. Sascha*

      I’m a Blackboard administrator (for 7+ years). As far as navigating a course, I think it’s easy to grasp once you start clicking around. Just click stuff and see what happens. I don’t think Blackboard itself is that difficult to use, but some instructors and course builders will make the courses difficult to navigate just because of bad course design (and bad instructions). There is also quite a bit of Bb help information out there if you google it, including Bb’s help site, help.blackboard.com

      I will tell you, Blackboard gets finnicky with Internet Explorer. It works best with Firefox and Chrome. And make sure Java is up to date on your computer. :)

      1. Mimmy*

        Oooh I just might be picking your brain this semester ;) This is my first-ever online class, so this is completely new territory for me. I think the problems I’m having now are bad instructions, lol. Thanks for the input!

        My browser is Safari (desktop iMac).

        1. Sascha*

          That sound be fine. Generally just keeping your computer and browsers up to date takes care of things. For your first class, I would say just study the layout for a while and get to know it. It’s basically set up like a computer folder system, files and items go into folders/containers. There are some basic web tools like discussion boards, and then online quizzes. The trick to Bb success is, don’t double click, give the beast time to process.

          That’s not to say Bb won’t misbehave every now and then. It’s got a big, nasty database running behind it that gets filled with crap and it throws random errors every now and then. But if you just log out and clear your browsing history, that takes care of like 90% of weird glitches. Yes, I just recommended turning it off and on again. :)

    2. Nina*

      I’ve used Blackboard several times for online courses and I’ve had no problems. It’s very user-friendly and easy to access.

    3. Noah*

      Midway through my master’s program the university I attended switched from some other LMS to BlackBoard. The older system was simpler, and easier to navigate, but BlackBoard has a lot more features. I hated BB at first, but after a semester it worked out fine. I think a lot of my hate was just the change because both undergrad and the start of my MBA used the older system. My courses were not online, but we usually did group work online, professors would upload notes or PowerPoint files, we had discussions between classes, and most of our work was turned in online.

      The big tip I have is to avoid copying/pasting from Word into BB. I usually would write assignments or discussion posts in Word first so I could save a copy. However, you need to copy/paste it into Notepad first to clear all the formatting or things get really screwy.

      Also, some things seem really hidden deep in certain courses. It may have just been the way my school or professors built them, but it seemed like I would always have to dig through the folder trees to find things. There is a search option though and that helps.

    4. Cari*

      When I was in uni doing CS the uni tried to get everyone using BlackBoard and my lecturers pretty much shunned it because it was so awful. Most we’d use it for was assignment hand-ins. This was 6-10 years ago though, but when I was in my final year there was talk of them moving to Moodle. The college I worked for used Moodle and wanted teachers to use that to supplement their in-person teaching, but again much resistance from the teaching staff due to it being complicatrd to use (and the college would have ownership of any material uploaded to it). The in-house ELP system was preferred by teachers and students alike from what I could tell :D

      One thing I found out/saw with BlackBoard from the IT support side of things (where accounts were managed with Active Directory, at least), if a user ever had to have their network account password reset and the we had ticked the “user must change password at next logon” box, users would not be able to log into BlackBoard until they changed their pass on a Windows machine on the network first. Same issue seemed to come up with Outlook webmail and on the macs too…

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, I have–Sascha has a good point. The course design can make a huge difference. I had one course that barely had any information at all (it was seated but had the syllabus, calendar, etc. on Blackboard) and the instructor didn’t like to use it. Another was perfectly easy to get around in. And there was one that had so many nested folders, attachments, etc. that it drove me absolutely crazy.

  9. Sascha*

    Does anyone have a television show they just can’t bring themselves to watch, no matter how much they want to watch it? I’m that way with Battlestar Galactica (the newer one). We even own the DVD set. I really enjoyed the first season. But I keep finding new shows to binge watch when I should be finishing BG, but something in me is JUST SO RESISTANT. I’m also that way with Downton Abbey, though I haven’t watch that yet. But my friends and family keep telling me I’ll “just love it because you like British things.”

    Also, peppermint tea is delicious.

    1. Anonyby*

      I’m that way with the recent Transformers cartoons. I was really into Transformers Prime when it came out… but then they were airing the finale for the first season while my mom was home on hospice care. The TV for me to watch it from was on the other side of the wall from the head of the bed she was in…it just didn’t feel right to watch it. I haven’t been able to watch it since, even though I can easily catch up on Netflix.

    2. Mimmy*

      I’ve been wanting to watch House because I find medical mysteries to be intriguing. But I tried to watch the very first episode when it first debuted, and I couldn’t stand Dr. House’s personality.

      1. Windchime*

        I was that way with House, too. One of my kids liked and watched it, and he still enjoys the reruns but I find the main character to be such a huge jerk who would have been fired after about a week in any reputable medical facility.

        I binge-watched Battlestar Galactica, so I’m no help to you there. I tried to watch The Good Wife because I had heard rave reviews about it, but it just looked like another lawyer show where World Problems are solved in an hour, so I gave up on that one.

        1. Anon*

          I loved The Good Wife! I think sometimes it’s a bit like dating – go on three dates to see if you are really compatible. Sometimes a show can be a slow burner (Breaking Bad was like that for me but I persevered and boy was it worth it!)

          1. Windchime*

            I loved Breaking Bad from the beginning. As soon as I saw Walter White standing there in his tighty-whities, I was hooked.

      2. Rebecca*

        I watched all but the last season. I find his actions extreme and bothersome, and while I’d like to see how the show ends, I can’t bring myself to watch it. I may go online and just read the episode descriptions somewhere.

      3. Anon*

        I hated Dr. House at first too. I got into the show after I had watched enough episodes (due to parents/roommates being into it) to get to know the other characters. House himself is over-acted, over the top in general, and grating, in my opinion, but the writing with all the other characters is very good.

    3. Anonna*

      I get that way when something has been way overhyped. I waited five years before I would watch the first Harry Potter movie. Right now I’m avoiding Cosmos. It’s available on Netflix and my husband keeps asking me if I want to watch it and I just can’t. Maybe in a year or so when everyone else has forgotten about it.

      1. Nina*

        I felt that way about Community. I was a fan of Donald Glover and I thought I would like it, but it just didn’t take. For me, it was no harm, no foul. I hoped it would do well since the premise was cool, but some people would act so personally offended if you didn’t watch. “What do you mean you don’t like it?!? You must not have taste!”

        Even if I had liked it, I hate it when people try to guilt/shame you into watching something. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for someone else. That just soured any appeal the show had for me.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Everyone I know raves about Parks & Rec. I don’t know if it hit too close to home or what, but I could feel my blood pressure rising within the first minute, and I didn’t make it through the first episode.

          1. fposte*

            I didn’t like the first episode either; reasonable people have agreed with me but said they found it worthwhile starting the second season, so I may go back and try that sometime.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I don’t watch too much tv, but I gave up on The Office super fast. I was not laughing because everything was too real for me. I guess if it helps to open up talk about toxic workplaces then that is good. But when I am home, I want to be away from toxic work places entirely.

            2. The IT Manager*

              The humor in the Office seems makes me want to cringe. It’s people embarrassing themselves; I have to look away.

            3. Cari*

              I have absolutely no desire to watch The Office – either versions – no matter how wonderful people tell me it is, and how many actors in it are also in other comedy series I do like :( cringe humour + bad bosses + Ricky Gervais = nope!

          2. Chuchundra*

            The first season of Parks and Rec is pretty terrible. It’s a bad Office clone and it took me a long time to slog through those first six.

            My advice is just to start with Season 2. There really isn’t that much backstory to miss and S2 is just so so much better and by season 3 you have some real greatness.

            1. Tomato Frog*

              Yes, start with season 2! Parks & Rec pivots from being a cynical sitcom about obnoxious people to being the sweetest, funniest, most wonderful sitcom ever made. I couldn’t make it through an episode of season 1 but I haven’t missed an episode since then.

            2. Mints*

              Agreed! Leslie’s characterization changes a bit after the first season. When she’s delusional to the point of annoying season 1, she’s enthusiastic but endearing later on. Just skip season 1 until you fall in love with everyone, then go back for cringing

              (They also completely ignored Donna at first, which is stupid, Retta is hilarious!)

          3. krisl*

            I enjoy Parks & Rec now, but the first couple of times I watched it, I was kind of annoyed by Leslie Knope. Fortunately, I had it on for “white noise” while I was doing chores, and I ended up liking it after all. I started realizing that the people are obnoxious, but they care about each other.

      2. Anonyby*

        Oh man, overhype is a major killer! For me that’s a lot of the Whedon shows (Buffy, Angel, Firefly…). My friends lovelovelove them and swear that I will, but the bits I’ve seen have just not caught me. (That, and I know I’m a hopeless romantic that wants the happily-ever-after, and I know going in that I won’t get that.) My friends are also into A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones, and I know that it’s way too dark for me.

        1. Mimmy*

          My husband loves Game of Thrones and can’t understand why I don’t watch. Sorry…too medieval for my tastes. I did see the end of the Red Wedding episode though.

          1. Anonyby*

            The setting doesn’t bother me so much (I love fantasy as a genre), just the overall tone. I’ve got enough going on in my life, I don’t need to get upset and depressed from my choices of entertainment!

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          Of Whedon’s shows, I’ve only seen all of Firefly. It was clever, and I wish there was more of it (and I thought the movie was excellent), but I didn’t watch it until several years after it had gone off air and so I have trouble seeing it in the “omg I can’t believe Fox killed off the greatest television show EVAR” light like most of my friends do. I watched 2/3 of an episode of Dollhouse and couldn’t get behind the plot OR Eliza Dushku. I’ve never seen an episode of Buffy, although it’s on my list to Netflix if/when I run out of other things to watch.

          I do love me some Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, though.

          1. Jen RO*

            The first time I tried to watch Firefly I found it very boring. The second time, I loved it.

            (Dr Horrible has been amazing from the first song. Have you listened to thr commentary too? I might love that more than the actual musical.)

            1. Windchime*

              I loved Firefly, too. I didn’t watch it until years after it went off the air, though. Still haven’t seen the movie (Serenity).

          2. Anonyby*

            I enjoyed Dr. Horrible too! And I love the Avengers movie. My friends haven’t written me off as completely hopeless based on that. lol

            Of course, it doesn’t help that my best friend picks odd episodes to try to get me hooked… it worked for Avatar: The Last Airbender, but nothing else…

          3. Audiophile*

            Dolhouse is hard. I stuck it out and really enjoyed it at the end, but there were times in the beginning where I really wondered and questioned why I was watching. It had some stand out supporting players (Olivia Williams, Enver Gjokaj, Miracle Laurie, Fran Kranz) and I enjoyed watching them more than Eliza Dushku. I haven’t watched it since it went off the air.

        3. teclatwig*

          One thing about Whedon is that the payoffs are heavily in world building and long- and midrange story arcs. This means watching an episode here or there probably won’t win you over.

          This is why I don’t push any of my non-Whedon friends toward his stuff. I can’t imagine telling someone they must watch a minimum of 4-6 episodes before they are allowed to reject it, lol.

    4. Cath in Canada*

      Fringe. People whose opinions I generally trust keep telling me it’s great and they think I’ll really like it, but my brain just goes “nope, because it’s not The X-Files”.

      1. Trixie*

        It’s not but really good in its own way as far as characters and story lines. I enjoyed it thoroughly and so happy its available on Netflix. As well as Hell on Wheels, another favorite.

      2. Rayner*

        I just started watching the X-Files – they’re running on the History Channel in the UK (don’t ask. Seriously. It’s just before Ancient Aliens >.>) and IT’S SO GOOD. I usually avoid anything before about 1988 because I just don’t get the references from before I was born, but I LOVE the show XD

        1. Cath in Canada*

          When it was good, it was really really really good. Still my favourite show of all time, and the one to which I compare every other show in a similar genre.

          Some episodes were… less good, though, and I like to pretend that seasons 8 and 9 and the second movie didn’t happen at all.

        2. Steve G*

          I loved X files. Was teenager when it came out and used to watch it on Friday nights with the room dark…and the 90s were the peak of the alien abduction stories coming out, so it all transpired for creepy times.

        3. Windchime*

          Yeah the X-Files was my all-time favorite (well, right up there with Northern Exposure). Some episodes were so-so, but some (like the weird creature that lived in the sewer) gave me bad dreams. Love it!

      3. Anx*

        I did the exact same thing when it first came out. Now it’s one of my favorite shows (although like the X-Files, it doesn’t finish as strongly as I’d hoped). If you every get around to it, S1 is a bit divisive. It picks up around episode 8.

      4. Jen RO*

        I am sorta-kinda watching Fringe (when I am bored and out of other series) but it keeps getting good… then bad again. Or maybe it’s the fact that I find Anna Torv and/or Olivia borrring. I don’t know if it’s the acting or the writing, but the show would be much better with more Peter/Walter. I’ve been stuck midway through season 3 for a few months…

      5. Noah*

        Totally agree with Fringe. I’ve tried but just can’t get into it. It is right in line with shows I would normally love but for whatever reason it doesn’t draw me in at all.

    5. Just Visiting*

      The Wire. Watched a few eps and just couldn’t get into it, even though I loved Homicide: Life on the Street so much. I should probably have another go at it but there’s just so many other things to watch instead in this Golden Age of Television.

      I’ve also never seen Battlestar Galactica and I should, because I love SF and also write it. But I didn’t have cable when it first aired and this was pre-Netflix so it just slipped past my radar and again, so much to watch, so little time.

    6. Colette*

      I had the season one Downton Abbey DVDs for over a year before I made it to the second episode (and then I watched three seasons in a row.)

      1. cuppa*

        I might have to go back and try again, because I absolutely could not get in to Downton Abbey.

    7. Diane*

      I started Dexter and couldn’t go on past episode 5. I waited a loooong time to watch Battelstar Galactica, then did it all in two weekends when I was good and ready. I watched part of the first episode of Game of Thrones, but I’ve already heard so many spoilers that I don’t know if I should keep going.

      I’m putting of Cosmos for now, but I will see it.

      I will NOT put of Doctor Who and will buy each episode of season 8 as soon as iTunes lets me.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Yeah, I have trouble watching GoT having read the books. I spend more time comparing the pacing to that of the books and less on enjoying the actual show.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I really enjoy both, now that I’ve started to think of the TV show as almost a different story. The casting is better than in any other adaptation I’ve seen of a book I love – most people look exactly how they’re supposed to look. One of the really nice surprises in the TV show has been Oberyn Martell being a much better developed and charismatic character than he was in the book – I felt much more connected to him in the TV version.

      2. Cari*

        If it helps, character death related spoilers are not really spoilers in GoT, assuming those are what you’re referring to. A friend recommended the books to me and warned me not to get attached to any characters (without naming names, mind), and it didn’t take away anything from the reading :) I accidentally spoilt the ending of Life on Mars for myself, and it’s taken years to start watching that again, though…

    8. Liane*

      Yes, I have that problem sometimes. We won the DVD for Firefly at a gaming con earlier this year. We’d all wanted to watch it since we hadn’t had cable when it was on. I watched a couple with the family, we all enjoyed them and I keep saying I am going to watch the rest–but never think of it when I am bored & looking for something to do.

    9. Persephone Mulberry*

      This is not so much I want to watch this but never think of it when I’m in front of the TV,” but I absolutely. cannot. watch The Walking Dead. DH and I tried the first episode and when it was over we both went “Yeah, nope. Not the show for us.”

      1. Cari*

        That’s one I masochistically keep meaning to go back to, especially as my dad’s watching it and has no one else to talk to about it, but with zombie shows and films come zombie filled dreams :(

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Heh, during Season 1 – specifically the episodes when they were camping out in the woods – I had a zombie-filled dream every Tuesday night, after watching the show on Sundays. Like clockwork.

          I do like the show, but a couple of things drive me nuts: 1) get some guard dogs! and 2) get some mountain bikes! Everyone’s always either on foot (which is sometimes fatal), or running out of gas.

          1. Cari*

            Now you mention it, dreams seemed to be less frequent when they moved to the safety of the buildings. I can’t imagine camping outside during a real life zed apocalypse – Urban Dead’s taught me well enough that you don’t stay alive for long outside :D

            I don’t think I’ve seen a single zombie story where survivors used pedal power to get around, even in the ones with fast running zombies! It’s like in the Blair Witch and they’re lost in the woods but don’t seem to think following the river would be at all useful.

    10. Miss Pronounced*

      Project Runway. I’ve watched it before, and watched most episodes of 3 or 4 seasons out of 12 seasons. It wasn’t the first 3 or 4 seasons in a row either, just random seasons. Logically, I should like it since I love fashion but I don’t know what it is about the show that makes me ignore it. I like Tim Gunn, Heidi’s ok, Nina’s ok, but something just doesn’t click for me.

      I watched some of the last season, have the finale on my old laptop & have never watched it. This question makes me want to start watching the current season, but I won’t.

      1. Tomato Frog*

        I liked the first season best and never thought they quite recaptured its excitement. I haven’t gone back and rewatched it so I don’t know how much of that was just on account of it being fresh and novel, and how much was it actually being more interesting than subsequent seasons.

        Still, it’s the only season I would actively recommend to anyone. As the show progressed, it put less focus on the design process and more and more on personality and competition. Towards the beginning, for example, they had a lot of challenges where contestants had two days to finish a piece; later on they almost never had more than one day.

    11. Chloe*

      Mad Men. I’ve tried three times, but just find it fantastically boring. I’ve decided not to try again, there are tonnes of shows I do love, so why bother?

      1. Mints*

        Oh, same! The pacing is just too slow for me. I feel like I ALMOST like it, but don’t want to invest the time

      2. Melissa*

        I tried to get into Mad Men, too, but I thought it was boring after about 5 episodes and just bailed. Everyone around me is SHOCKED and HORRIFIED. But I didn’t even feel like I almost liked it; I just plain didn’t like it and it wasn’t interesting enough for me to wait to see if it got better.

        1. Felicia*

          That’s how I felt about Breaking Bad, and I got similar reactions when I told people I didn’t like it. I watched 5 episodes of Breaking Bad and I thought it was boring and I didn’t like it, so I stopped. Do people still try to get you to watch more episodes of Mad Men, as if by watching more you’ll suddenly like it. You already invested nearly 5 hours into it, if you don’t like it after that long, you’re not going to like it. And why should you have to give a new thing more than 5 hours of your time just to not be allowed to like it?

          I actually don’t think i’ll like Mad Men though I’ve never tried. I hate when people insist you must like whatever show they like “if only you gave it a chance”. When I recommend tv to people I honestly think they’ll like it judging by what I know about their tastes, but I realize after they watch their 1st episode it’s up to them if they like it.

    12. Anon*

      Falling skies – I like sci fi and it got pretty good reviews, but I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get through the pilot a few times and I always get bored and stop. I’ve been told that it picks up, and it can be especially hard to get into new sci fi shows because you have to figure out what is going on with the world (literally) in it, but the pilot somehow loses me. Same with Torchwood even though I love Dr. Who.

      Then there are other shows that I’ve abandoned because they were too boring to endure just to figure out how everything ends (Warehouse 13 – I was told it’s really good, but the first several episodes are cheesy and not that exciting – and the Forsyte Saga). And Game of Thrones I abandoned mid-season 3 because I finally acknowledged that I was in a horrible mood every time I watched it due to all the raping. The writing, plot, settings, etc of the show just don’t outweigh the unpleasantness of watching so much rape.

    13. Cari*

      The rest of Game of Thrones – TV series and books (end of 3rd and 5th to go, respectively), newer series of True Blood, took a while to getting around to watching the latest series of Lost Girl even though it was all there on Netflix. Luther was coming up on Netflix all the time, daring me to watch it, and I like Idris Elba, but I took a bit of time to come before I gave in (binge-watched it like mad when I eventually did though) . Like others have said, hype is a big interest killer for me. Ooh, and I wanted to watch through all of Black Books properly for a while, but couldn’t bring myself to. So glad I eventually did though :)

    14. Elizabeth West*

      I want to watch Downton Abbey, but I can’t get myself to start it. I’m thinking I’m just not as interested as I wanted to be.
      I did start watching Keeping Up Appearances. Laughing my butt off.

      1. The IT Manager*

        It’s worth it, but it is a soap opera and starts to seem more like one in seasons 3 and 4. And suffers from losing actors playing the “family’ characters which basically means they have kill them off or unrealistically send them away. Servants and employees can leave for a new job, but family can’t and end up with a soap operatically exits.

        SPOILER for season 3. I am annoyed though that Sybil was killed off. With her situation, the actress’s desire to leave could have been accommodated by having her and Tom not live at the Abbey and visit rarely. Then Matthew’s death (when that actor decided to leave) would not have been the 2nd shocking death that season.

    15. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

      off the top of my head:
      Battlestar Galactica (new)
      Queer As Folk season 5

      peppermint tea is awesome, but my current favourite is White Christmas :) (peppermint & ginger)

    16. The IT Manager*

      For me its The Big Bang Theory. I am still not convinced that they aren’t making fun of and laughing at the nerds. I would appreciate the science and science fiction jokes, but not the derision.

      Also I no longer watch sit-coms. How I Met Your Mother was the last one I watched. Actually I think I only regularly watch two network TV shows.

      1. Cari*

        It seems a lot less that way in the later series since they introduced female geeks to the mix. In the first few it played heavily on the “terrible with women” nerdy guy stereotype for laughs.

        I’ve seen similar complaints about The IT Crowd, but honestly can’t see where they come from with that. I especially love seeing what geeky things or obscure Internet references they have dotted around their office each episode.

      2. Mints*

        I do like the Big Bang Theory, but the premise is just “nerdy man children who can’t talk to girls”
        And I think it’s funny, but the premise is so unrealistic. They didn’t introduce Amy and Bernadette until pretty late, and I’m glad they finally understand women are huge geeks too, but it took way way too long

    17. Melissa*

      Orange is the New Black. I watched the first episode, it was amazing, I want to watch the rest of it. But for some reason I keep finding other things to do with my hobby time, even watching other shows before finishing that.

      1. StudentA*

        I really enjoy that show. It’s funny and they do a good job of making you care about each of the characters. Most shows focus way too much on one point of view–not this one. It is a bit too raunchy for me though, but that is literally my only complaint. It is nothing like I expected; I expected a silly show (based on the name and the cover art.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I absolutely LOVE that show. It took about three episodes. The first one, I said, “Meh,” the second I said, “Ehhh, one more,” and on the third, I was all 0_0 And never looked back. HURRY UP SEASON 3!

      3. Felicia*

        I love that show! I bet once you really sit down and are determined to watch it , you won’t be able to stop:) At least, that was my experience in being slow to watch it at first.

    1. krisl*

      Today’s picture is even cuter than they usually are (and they’re usually pretty cute)! I like that playful glint in the kitty’s eyes as the kitty is reaching out to play.

  10. BRR*

    I’m currently watching Sharknado and it’s amazing in the it’s so bad it’s funny way. What are some of other people’s favorite awful movies? I’m a big fan of showgirls and snakes on a plane.

      1. BRR*

        I think as along as you enjoyed it but recognized that you were enjoying how poor it is. I watched amazing spider man 2 this week and was very unimpressed but I don’t think it was bad enough to enjoy how bad it was. Maybe if they put nipples on the spider suit.

        1. Emily*

          I still count it because it feels that way, even if some of the badness is intentional. :)

          I also like the Adam West Batman movie. Apparently my type of movie is goofiness that makes me giggle a lot.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I saw that Batman thing in the theater as a rerun–our hometown theater ran old movies in the summer. You could buy a season ticket or get in for a buck. So many horrible old movies, ha ha. I loved that slapstick deal where he’s running around trying to throw the bomb away!

            I found it on DVD and I had to get it! Too funny.

    1. Anonymous*

      I loved Hot Tub Time Machine. Was kind of forced to watch it by a friend and ended up chortling the whole way through!

        1. Nina*

          Ugh, it wouldn’t surprise me, but I hope it doesn’t go through. Movies like these only work because they’re trying so hard to be taken seriously.

          1. JamieG*

            There was a teaser for it at the end of guardians of the galaxy, so it seems pretty confirmed to me.

            1. Mints*

              I think/hope it’s not really a reboot, and he just pops in occasionally with the Collector.

              I would be actually furious if they decide to give a duck his own movie before giving Black Widow (or any other female superhero) her own movie, or a superhero of color

    2. mm*

      I have Sharknado on my DVR because my grandkids love to watch it and laugh. Even the 7 year old knows how bad it is.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      I have such a weakness for “so bad it’s good” creature features. Sharknado was an outstanding example of the genre – I have Sharknado 2, Sharktopus, and Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus on my “to see” list.

      I also love all the Jaws and Jurassic Park movies (I watched the marathons of both recently), Arachnophobia, Anaconda, Snakes on a Plane, Pirhanas, et al.

      1. Mimmy*

        I have Sharknado 2, Sharktopus, and Mega Shark versus Giant Octopus on my “to see” list

        Wait…those are real movies??!! This Sharknado thing is getting out of hand!! lol.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          I can’t believe I’m defending possibly the worst movie I’ve ever seen AND sounding impossibly hipster, but to be fair, Sharktopus came first.

    4. De Minimis*

      I like the older ones like Plan 9 from Outer Space and of course Manos:The Hands of Fate.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ed Wood flicks are great. I love old horror B-movies. I have several DVD sets of those. All the old Roger Corman movies are great too. Bucket of Blood, Swamp Women, the original Little Shop of Horrors, stuff like that.

    5. Variation*

      On Netflix, look up anything that starts with “1313”- it’s an entire series of movies that are just beyond anything my brain can try to process. Every movie is set in the same house, and has the same beginning: a shirtless man wanders around, trying to locate his friends. From there, the movies tend to split off, dragging five minutes of plot into an hour of filming, but if you’re into dumb shirtless men, it’s tolerable.

      No, I lied, it’s not tolerable, but if you want to make a drinking game out of how bad it is, it’s really easy.

    6. Joline*

      Stroke of Midnight with Rob Lowe and Jennifer Grey from 1990. It’s basically a remake of Cinderella with Rob Lowe as a fashion designer and Jennifer Grey as an aspiring shoe designer in Paris.

    7. Mimmy*

      I also liked Showgirls.

      Also, I actually liked From Justin to Kelly, that movie they made after the very first American Idol season *ducks behind computer chair*

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        My understanding is that the One Direction movie is a genuinely good movie (for the genre).

    8. Former Professional Computer Geek*

      Oh, Showgirls! My friends laugh at me when I tell them I love that movie. It’s so awful it’s good.

      I simply adore bad movies and have tons of them. They include:
      o Attack of the Killer Tomatoes [a classic] and Return of the Killer Tomatoes [the sequel, aka The Movie George Clooney Wishes Everyone Would Forget He Was In, which is even better than the original]
      o Death Race 2000 [1975]
      o Charlie’s Angels & Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle [2000 & 2003] [although Justin Theroux’s “Irish” accent makes my ears bleed, I love the rest of these campy movies]
      o The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension
      o Big Trouble in Little China
      o Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back [and I’m not even a stoner]
      o They Live
      o Dark Star [1974]
      o All of Me [1984 & I hear they might reboot it. Eep!]
      o The Black Hole [1979 – Disney’s first PG-rated film]
      o Kentucky Fried Movie [containing the incredible parody “A Fist Full of Yen” – after you see it you cannot watch Enter the Dragon with a straight face]
      o Freaked [1993] [I first saw it at a film festival for which the ad kept mentioning it had “Mr T in a dress!”]
      And the Buffy The Vampire Slayer movie from 1992, which Joss has said he hates, but I love for being campy and surreal.

      1. Former Professional Computer Geek*

        And Johnny Dangerously. [“Did you know your name is an adverb?”]

      2. Cari*

        I <3 the Buffy movie! Think I saw it before they started showing the series over here in the UK, and thought it was awesome. Still do, even though I love the series to death.

    9. Steve G*

      Never got why Showgirls was rated a bad movie, I liked it and watched it a couple of times….not bad at all..

    10. Glor*

      This one is really hard to get, from what I remember, but — The Milpitas Monster is my absolute all-time favorite So Bad It’s Hilarious movie. Shot back in … the 70s, I think, maybe early 80s? by the local high school students, it’s about what happens “when garbage mutates” or whatever. Featuring the at-the-time mayor and a picket line chanting “we want our garbage cans!” … it’s something you have to see to appreciate.

    11. Noah*

      Dude Where’s My Car. I have no idea why, but I own the DVD and will watch it over and over and laugh at all the dumb jokes.

    12. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Behind The Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon is a really, really good Halloween movie, though I’m sure it was sort of intended to be a “bad” movie.

      1. chewbecca*

        I know this is a day late, but I had to comment. Last year was my first October with my fiance and was warned that October is all horror/scary/Halloween-themed movies, all the time. I’m a bit of a noob to the horror genre, so this was an interesting experience.

        This was one of the first ones we watched and I loved it. I’m excited to watch it again this year.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      One of my favorite bad movies is Total Recall (the Arnold version). That movie had just enough cool stuff in it that it made the lame stuff even more so. And the dialogue is just hilariously awful.

      “I’d buy that for a dollar!”

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh, I thought of another one. My ex and I watched this absolutely insane thing on Netflix called RoboGeisha. It was the most bizarre, idiotic thing I’ve ever seen, and we laughed ourselves silly.

        Ass swords, everyone. That is all I have to say.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I like Total Recall – the original. It’s not a bad sci fi, action movie – certainly not so bad its good. The lack of Mars in the remake was very disappointing.

      1. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

        also The Jerry Springer Opera (it is so much better than it sounds, I promise)

        1. fposte*

          Wait–that’s available as a movie? I always wanted to see it. I’m not a dyed-in-the-wool fan of Stewart Lee, but I tend to like the circles he moves in.

    14. MeUnplugged*

      Some of you guys are listing movies I really like (tremors 1, big trouble little china). But for movies that are so bad they’re good: killer klowns from outer space; mosquito; and deep blue sea.

    15. Stephanie*

      There’s this “urban” horror flick called Vampiyaz. I am unsure where you’d even find it now. I rented it from Blockbuster (RIP). I think strawberry jam was used as blood in one instance. Senior year of college, I took public speaking and our assignment that week was to make a persuasive speech. Everyone but me had very noble topics that included Why You Should Read Recreationally, Why You Should Volunteer, Why You Should Take Classes Outside Your Major. Mine was Why You Should Watch Vampiyaz. I apparently made a strong enough argument about the horribleness of the movie as well as the pleasures of bad movie watching. I got an A. :)

      I love the soundtrack, but The Bodyguard’s pretty terrible. Whitney Houston had to dig deep to play an entitled pop diva.

      I’ll also throw in Battlefield Earth (John Travolta with dreadlocks…yeah…) and the Twilight movies.

      1. Nina*

        Twilight is a good one. I haven’t seen the whole series, just Eclipse and Breaking Dawn Part I. The scene with the werewolves having a meeting had me laughing in the theater.

  11. Cath in Canada*

    So I’m finally excited to see what happens next in The Leftovers. The first few episodes were so bleak, slow, and disconnected that I almost gave up and just read the book instead, but then it started coming together more and the last couple of episodes were really great. I still think it’s a terrible name for a show, though.

    I’m also enjoying The Knick so far, not least because it’s fun to see my husband act be so much more squeamish than I am about the surgery scenes!

    What else is new that looks promising? I need my fix before Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, True Detective, and Bates Motel come back!

    1. AmyNYC*

      Have you read “The Leftovers” book? I haven’t seen the show, but yet book was really engrossing

        1. De Minimis*

          I don’t remember liking the book that much, I think I had the “is that it?” reaction.

    2. Jen RO*

      How many episodes should I give The Leftovers? I think I saw three and gave up because nothing was happening. Liv Tyler chopping a tree!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Give it a two or three more, I think – there are a couple of episodes that focus on specific characters that are really good (the priest, the woman who lost all of her family), and then it suddenly all starts coming together after that.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Given how many of those shows you named I love, I think you will love what I think is the best show on TV: Justified. It’s about to come back for its final season, but it’s got a few that you could binge-watch.

      1. Wasting Warren Buffett's Time*

        +1 — I’m so unashamedly into that show that I named my dogs Raylan and Winona (Pawkins).

  12. Windchime*

    So I’m off work this week and it’s my goal to re-do my bedroom. I’ve lived in this house for over 3 years and my bedroom is still just a big, beige box. You’d think that I’d be sleeping like a baby because it’s basically a sensory deprivation tank. So I’m going to paint and get some new bedding at the very least. And maybe change the hardware on my dresser/nightstands, because it’s a little too old-fashioned.

    1. Anon*

      I took a week off to do my living room. I spent the whole week on the couch watching TV thinking “I really must get on with it!” But only started tearing the wallpaper down at 9pm on the Sunday before work. I’ve been stuck with a room that looks like a squat ever since. I hate it and I’m going to stump up the cash to get someone in to do it since I really can’t trust myself to get my act together – learn from my error and I hope you enjoy your new slumber haven!

      1. Sascha*

        Wallpaper removal is the worst!!! Have you tried steaming it off? I rented a steamer from Home Depot and it worked great on my kitchen. But I was super close to just paying someone, if my friends weren’t helping me I probably would have paid for a service.

      2. The IT Manager*

        This is the kind of thing that would happen to me except I think I know myself well enough now that I wouldn’t schedule a week off. I can’t tell you how many Sunday evenings I finally get to what I meant to start on Saturday morning.

        I’m thinking that I might empty and then paint my home office next weekend – its a 3 day weekend! Might be too ambitious though.

    2. Sascha*

      Heh, our bedroom was a big beige box when we first moved in, and I immediately painted it blue, because I was desperate for color. 5 years later and I hate the blue, now I want it white or gray. I think maybe because all my crap has built up so it feels more cluttered with the darker color.

      1. Windchime*

        Ha, well, I’ve purchased 6 paint samples and have painted samples on each of the four walls. A couple of them are OK but nothing really screams “Pick me!”, so I’ll be going back to the paint store for more samples later today.

        It’s funny; four of the samples are grays, but one of them turned PURPLE on the wall. And not just “kinda purple-y”, but PURPLE. This is why we do samples, kids!

        1. Sascha*

          Yes! I picked a very lovely light gray for my kitchen, which I thought was the most neutral of neutral grays. Looks blue. Oh well, I like how it turned out, but it just amuses me how paint turns out.

    3. Graciosa*

      It’s amazing what you can do with a little paint – have fun with this, and come back next week and tell us how it turned out.

    4. Melissa*

      Yay! I just moved into a new apartment and I am determined to do some decorating this time. Ever since I first moved into my dorm at 18 up until my latest apartment I never decorated much – not my walls, no art or vases or anything – just beige boxes, lol. This time I’m determined to make it pretty! ALthough I have to wait for my first paycheck at the very least, lol. I have at least decided on a color scheme for everything (green + turquoise + brown for the bathroom; lavender, purple, and white with silver accents for my bedroom; shades of blue in the living room and red + beige for the kitchen). I can’t paint, although I did request an accent wall for my living room (in blue) but I’ve already started identifying some paintings/prints and faux flowers I want to decorate with and I want to get a silver headboard for my bed eventually. I also got a new bedspread!

  13. Carrie in Scotland*

    I wrote last Sunday about being heartbroken. I want to thank you for all your lovely, lovely words over the internet and your thoughts and suggestions.

    I have an update and it’s not very nice. Basically, That Boy I Was Having All The Fun With (he was my ex) had, in the 5 months we hadn’t been in touch, met another woman and had fallen for her. And when she didn’t feel the same and it ended, he came back to me, telling me he loved me and All The Amazing Things.

    I now feel absolutely sickened that I let him back into my life and that I had anything to do with him at all. Because WTF?

    Anyway I have booked myself the sleeper from Scotland to London, I am going to see live tennis, meet some people and hop over on the Eurostar to Belgium, because why the hell not?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Yes, I only have 10 weeks to wait for my trip to London/Belgium. Something to keep me going.

    1. Diane*

      Think of it this way: If you hadn’t given him a second chance, you would always wonder and regret. This way, you really know it’s done, and you did your best. Loving isn’t a mistake or a fault, but sometimes it feels that way.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      We’ve all fallen for that one–don’t beat yourself up about it.

      You are going to have a great time! And I’ll be happy to kick him for you if you want me to. With my skates on. I wish our trips were going to coincide. I’d take you out for a drink!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      It’s easy to believe in people and want to give them the benefit of the doubt, at least you’ve seen him for what he is now.

      A trip away will take your mind off things. I love the Caledonian sleeper, it’s a really cool way to travel. London’s an amazing city so you’ll have loads of fun. My friends just back from Belgium she really liked the beer and chocolate.

  14. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Is anyone else waiting (im)patiently for the newest Doctor Who episode to finish downloading? Or is it just me and NZ’s crappy internet?

    1. Felicia*

      There are 2.5 hours until it’s on TV here in North America, and I’m going to a friend’s premier party to watch it :)

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I’ve got my DVR set so that DH and I can watch it together when he gets off work.

        And we’re going to see it in the theater with some friends on Monday.

  15. fposte*

    Calling danr and anybody else who’s had a lumbar diskectomy–how long did you take off from work? It’s not clear yet that that’s what I’m in for (hope so, as the alternatives are more complicated), but I like to plan ahead. I took a week off for my cervical fusion and that was about right. Would a week off work for the lumbar surgery? How early were you driving again even for short drives?

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      My DH had an L4-L5 decompression (laminectomy) in addition to a discectomy, and he was off work for four weeks, if I recall correctly, and limited hours his first two weeks back (his job is almost exclusively standing).

      1. fposte*

        I’m hoping to get away with a lot less than that, since I’m not standing and can in fact lie down in the office. But I’m probably trying to control stuff too much and too far in advance.

        Thanks for your good wishes, Mimmy, and for weighing in, Persephone. I hope your DH is up and kicking now.

    2. danr*

      Well…. I’m retired. But… It’s been about 3 weeks and I’m not driving yet and finally have much less residual pain. A friend who had similar surgery, more complicated though, didn’t go back to work for about a month. I think the trick is not to wreck your back again doing something silly.
      Talk to your surgeon. He/She will have a better perspective.
      Good luck!

  16. The Anon Colon*

    Since I’m in nice and early (Yes Alison, I like the “Weekend Freeforall”, especially if it gives you more freedom on your weekend.) I want to reach out to other readers who suffer from chronic colonic complaints – IBS, diverticular disease, Crohns etc. I was diagnosed about 18 months ago after an initial attack that was totally out of the blue. I have always had a good diet (in that I eat the essentials before I have the junk), drank plenty of water, took moderate exercise and never had any changes in bowel habits. I have had a couple of flares since, usually at times of high stress. The unfortunate consequence of a flare is that it wipes out my immune system and I catch the bug du jour and get very sick from it. So I work hard to keep my stress down, watch my diet and exercise regularly.

    How do you stay well? What dietary modifications have you found effective? What remedies work for you when you have a flare? Are you on on any meds? What other lifestyle changes have you had to make? Do you belong to a support group? Thanks for your answers.

    1. esra*

      Crohn’s disease here. One thing that drove me nuts after I was diagnosed was every doctor telling me there were no diet modifications that would help, just things I couldn’t eat. Which is not super true. A truly awful flare up is going to make everything unpleasant (what brought me out of mine was prednisone followed by several years of azathioprine), but there are still foods that are better than others. It’s different for everyone, some Crohnsies can’t do dairy, others can’t drink orange juice, for me it’s whole nuts, seeds, dark leafy greens, popcorn, corn corn, and potato chips that I need to avoid. But things like rice, bread, seedless jam, and peanut butter have gotten me through some very rough times. Also: drinking a ton of water.

      Not sure how old you are, but a lot of people who start having issues in their teens and early 20s will age out of it in their 30s (I did), although you still have to watch your diet and stress can still cause issues. My symptoms were truly awful in my late teens and early twenties, I was malnourished (no period for a year, yikes), had poor bowel control, and couldn’t keep down much food. It was a teen girl’s worst nightmare. Most of that stopped when I started getting proper medication, so definitely talk to your family physician or gastroenterologist about your options.

      One thing I’d recommend, if you’re comfortable with it: let people know about your issues/needs. It has made my professional life so much easier letting people know about my health issues and resulting needs.

      1. fposte*

        Collagenous weighing in. Mine’s reshaping itself as I age (which collagenous tends to do), and it looks like I’ll be looking at a new med protocol (my newest GI felt that Asacol was pretty much a placebo).

        There is an app called mySymptoms that is a little freakily granular (not really looking to rate my output, thank you) but that does allow you to track symptoms and foods and look for correlations–you might try that, too.

        I also find that travel revs everything up more, so I plan ahead for departure times and medications to help.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, swell. Apparently I’m the last to know, save for the doctor I’ve seen in the intervening decades.

      2. The Anon Colon*

        Thanks for your reply esra, Crohns sounds truly awful, especially for a teenager. I’m glad you’ve found what works for you. I’m still not entirely sure what causes my flares, apart from stress. I was totally blindsided by my first attack, tbh I thought I had a ruptured ovarian cyst.

        1. esra*

          The first attack is definitely a major wtf moment. I’ve had several doctors tell me it isn’t stress-related, but I’ve found that it’s much worse when I’m stressed.

          Sometimes flares just happen, without a specific cause. At least, that’s been my experience. So finding a treatment that worked was my priority.

          One last thing, have you tried an exclusion diet? A few people I’ve known with colitis/ibs have had success finding triggers that way.

            1. Diane*

              Low FODMAP diet: http://shepherdworks.com.au/disease-information/low-fodmap-diet

              There are lots of good charts and lists of foods to avoid and foods to eat. When I started, I pared my diet down to things that were not common allergens and eliminated dairy, corn, wheat, soy, and beans, as well as the high FODMAP foods. Basically, eat the safe foods for two weeks and see how you feel. Then introduce a new food for three days. For me, it was immediately obvious that wheat was not my friend (and I had NEVER suspected this–negative for celiac). Anyway, go back to the simple diet for one to two weeks, then introduce something new.

              With the FODMAP foods, you can start by introducing something in each catagory, like fruits and veggies higher in fructose than glucose. If you don’t have an issues, try a few others in that category. It might not bother you.

              I found that I can eat a little tiny bit of my trigger foods if I eat nothing else bothersome for a couple of days. So if I really want veggie pizza at the amazing place that does not do gluten, I don’t add onions or mushrooms.

              1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

                +1 on wheat not being friendly! I’m also almost certainly not allergic to it per se, but I’ve been prone to really bad stomach/digestive issues my whole life, until I started eating low-carb. When I actually stick to it, I have almost no problems. I know it’s trendy right now, but I strongly encourage anyone who has mystery tummy issues to go low-carb for a couple weeks and see what happens.

                1. Diane*

                  My doc pointed out that if I have hay fever, it makes sense that I’m allergic to wheats and grasses, whether I eat them or breathe them. I’d never thought of that before.

            2. esra*

              Mine was pretty strict, but as has been mentioned, cutting out wheat, dairy, soy, corn, legumes, and sugar for 14-24 days and then re-introducing them one by one will narrow down the culprit for most people.

    2. Diane*

      Crohn’s with arthritis here, going on 14 years.

      I’ve been on various immunosuppresants and Asacol/Delzicol, which I take every day. I also had a good experience with the Low FODMAP diet. I found out that I can’t tolerate onions, wheat, or dairy, and can only have small doses of apples, watermelon, and other high fructose foods. I still need meds, but I’m not so bloated and crampy.

      The is a good Crohn’s/Colitis open community on Livejournal. It’s supportive and full of tips.

      1. Anon333*

        You might look into fecal transplants (yes, yes, I know). They seem to put some Crohn’s/IBD people into remissions. I don’t have Crohns but my spouse has another autoimmune condition that fecal transplants may help.

        1. The Anon Colon*

          I don’t think I need the fecal transplant yet, Anon333 as I’m not on regular meds and most of the time I’m ok if I manage stress and am vigilant about what I eat, while not knowing exactly what the triggers are.
          Diane, thanks for the open community suggestion. It’s gross having a colon condition and one’s non-suffering friends don’t want to know.

    3. littlemoose*

      Huge empathy over here. I was actually so frustrated earlier this week that I considered posting something on the open thread as well! I’ve had ulcerative colitis (like Crohn’s, but affects less of the digestive system, for the luckily uninitiated) for 11 years, and was also diagnosed with celiac disease three years ago this month. My biggest problem lately has been tolerating the medications. I was getting infections on azathioprine, so I stopped that and just took Lialda for a while. Did well on that for months – until I got pancreatitis twice this year, both times requiring hospitalization. The docs aren’t sure what is causing the pancreatitis (and it can be idiopathic), but they’ve taken me off the Lialda because that can be a rare side effect. Lovely. So I’m on a long-term steroid for now, and not sure where we’ll go from here. I wanted to avoid immunosuppressants, but that’s not looking likely.

      I’m not in a support group, but I have a friend with Crohn’s and we commiserate regularly. It is really helpful to be able to talk to someone who knows what it’s like. It can be a yucky topic and I rarely discuss it with any of my friends, even my best friend. I usually just say something like “My stomach is not good today.” Then they know what’s going on without me getting into specifics.

      Earlier this week my frustration was with being in the bathroom a lot, which was taking me away from work. I already am not getting enough work done lately, and this further impeded my progress. Booo. Sometimes you get dealt a crappy hand in health, no pun intended.

      1. KateS*

        I have UC too and was on Asacol/Delzicol for a few years without any problems( except for when they made that dumb change to Asacol and you had to take it at really proscribed times. That didn’t work so well, so I’m on Lialda now). About 2 years ago now I had 2 flares that went pretty much straight from one to the other once I quit the prednisone, so I take Humira now too. I’m sure you know this but while I’m not wild about the immunosuppression, a) it’s working and b) longterm steroid use is really bad for you. Things I don’t like are the immune issues ( had a three month long upper respiratory issue when I first started Humira), the self-injection, and I seem to have problems with Raynauds that I didn’t before. That said, it is waaaay better than losing 20 pounds when I only weigh 135 to start with and having serious knee problems.

        1. littlemoose*

          I’m sorry you have to deal with that. I’ve been fortunate to avoid the biologics this far, and I’m hoping to keep it that way. I know long-term steroid use is a bad plan. I’m on Uceris right now, which is OK for longer-term use than prednisone (should be a couple months). Doc thinks maybe Colazol is an option, but otherwise I may be stuck with azathioprine. Wishing you well!

          1. KateS*

            I’ve thought about going off the biologics but…I know that’s classic behaviour for patients who are feeling better, so I’m doing my best to stick with it for now. Good luck with your treatment!

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I can’t vouch for this myself, but I have a friend with IBS (along with a veritable host of other chronic conditions). She started using marijuana to medicate for pain (she wanted to get off the horrible narcotics that she was taking ridiculous amounts of) and was surprised/happy to see that regular use also almost completely ended her flare-ups. YMMV of course.

      1. The Anon Colon*

        There could be something in that. I am on daily narcotics for an unrelated pain issue. I would love to get off them but I have intolerable chronic pain.

        Thank you everyone for your input.

    5. Manderly*

      First time poster/long time reader here. I’ve had ulcerative colitis for 18 years. My worst triggers are wheat and sugar. However (and I’m almost scared to type this for fear of backlash), the best thing for my colitis so far has been smoking cigarettes. I was obviously very reluctant to start such a generally unhealthy habit but it has kept me flare free for the past year. I experimented with the patches (pulled me out of a flare but didn’t keep me in remission) and plan to try e-cigarettes as well.

      I also take Garden of Life probiotics and try to stay away from processed/fast foods. Vitamin D and turmeric are also helpful.

      http://www.ihaveuc.com is a nice self help group that I check out from time to time. Good luck! It’s a tough disease – I second the suggestion to let those around you know what’s going on with you. Most people are very understanding.

    6. Manderly*

      PS For diet modifications – check out the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and the GAPS Diet. I had no symptoms on SCD but found it hard to find enough to eat since I was traveling for work and couldn’t cook. I’ve heard great things about GAPS and plan to try it in the future.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        My sister does the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and it’s super limiting but has largely kept her Crohn’s under control the vast majority of the time.

      2. Diane*

        The Low FODMAP diet is the same idea, but starts with an elimination diet so you can identify which carbs are triggers for you. I’m vegetarian and found the SCD forums where very uninterested bordering on mean about vegetarian proteins (tofu is forbidden, etc.).

  17. Rayner*

    Since my last post got deleted or somehow lost in the ether, I think I’ll write about something different:

    What’s your favourite thing to cook? Doesn’t have to be healthy, doesn’t have to be wholesome. What’s the food stuff that you turn to when you just want some comfort eating?

    Mine’s spaghetti bolognese. I want to shove some in the slow cooker and leave it for eight hours because it’s quick and easy but it tastes so good.

    1. University admin*

      Macaroni and cheese. I recently discovered this stuff called Cheddar Shake from Cabot – it is amazing. AMAZING! It’s basically the white cheddar mix that comes in the box of mac and cheese, but in a big container. SOOO good!

    2. Liane*

      Roast in the crockpot!
      Also getting my daughter to make mashed potatoes like she did tonight. OR my son’s garlic toast. (My teens are wonderful, at least in the kitchen)

      Speaking of crockpot–would you post that spaghetti bolognese recipe please. We also love any soft of pasta in my house.

      1. HMV*

        That’s one of the big things I miss about living with my parents. I could list the items I wanted, they would magically show up in the fride with no money out of my pocket, and I could get to cooking! It was a win-win. I was able to enjoy my time cooking, and my parents got the night off. I still love trying out new recipes, but I hate risking the money on groceries on the chance that I will hate the recipe.

    3. Miss Pronounced*

      Spaghetti. One of three things I use the stove for. Beef, angel hair pasta in the yellow box, Classico fire-something, Parmesan, diced onions & extra sharp shredded cheddar (and oregano if I have it). Cooking isn’t a favorite pastime of mine but hands down I love how I prepare it & it smells amazing. I’m about to cook it now.

    4. Trixie*

      I’m a fan of whole grain pasta with a pat of butter/spread, pinch of salt and nutritional yeast flakes which makes a nice cheesy-like sauce. Kind of like parmesan cheese. I usually add steamed veggies.

      I’ve also gotten into the habit of pan frying protein (salmon patty, turkey burger, chicken sausage) while sautéing some sliced mini-peppers and purple cabbage. halfway through I add lots of kale or collard greens or swiss chard to steam, and then toss all together when done. Even if you’re not a fan of healthy food, this is very satisfying and filling.

      My biggest comfort food is the chicken biscuit from Chik-Fil-A. I’m so lucky its not offered all day.

    5. danr*

      My comfort food was always pasta in some form. A favorite meal in the winter is pasta with meat sauce and garlic bread. A hearty zinfandel or sangiovese and we’re set.
      In the summer anything cooked on the grill is a comfort food.

    6. krisl*

      I make brownies with a brownie mix, peanut butter, almonds, yoghert, juice, oatmeal. They turn out really good – usually :)

    7. Noel*

      My favourite things to cook are aspic and onion pie. Everyone laughs at the former, and everyone loves the latter, other than my partner, who is weird. Who doesn’t like onion pie?

    8. Anon*

      Things that involve cheese, carbs, and a lot of time in the kitchen with soothing cooking work. Lasagna and homemade mac and cheese are probably my top 2.

      And never underestimate the soothing power of a small cake (I own several mini-cake pans for this) or a few gooey cookies and glass of wine (or milk) for dinner!

    9. littlemoose*

      I’ve got a Parmesan roasted potato dish that my boyfriend and I love. I usually make it with a blackened chicken, and it’s my favorite meal to make. A little time-consuming, so we don’t do it often, but yummy. I’ve also got a great recipe for GF peanut butter chocolate chip cookies, which I like way too much.

    10. Nicole*

      Soooo many things, but in my top 10 would be cherry pie bars, Mexican cornbread casserole, baked spaghetti, oatmeal breakfast muffins, baked mac & cheese (from scratch which takes awhile but is so worth it), nutella brownies, spaghetti & meatballs, chicken & sausage stoup, bratwurst with sauerkraut, and chili (in the crockpot).

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Spaghetti / pasta (bow ties are a favorite). With marinara sauce and lots of grated Parmesan (not the stuff in the shaker–an actual chunk grated by hand). It’s fast and easy and fills me up.

      In the winter, I also like to crack open a can of chili and nom it off crackers. So not good for me but so delicious.

    12. salad fingers*

      Vegetarian chili, some kind of curry or, echoing everyone else, pasta, usually bucatini with a simple sauce –garlic, onion, diced tomato, italian seasoning, splash of balsamic and red wine vinegar, evoo and sooo much butter. Can’t wait for cooler weather and more cooking action…

    13. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

      well…the foodstuff I turn to when I want comfort is tea :)
      but for actual cooking probably shepherd’s pie or an apple almond cake

    14. Cari*

      I would love to say cheesy omlette, and Sainsbury tinned tomato and basil soup with crusty bread and butter, but while they are majorly comforting I don’t actually cook them. My dad does :D

      My dad is the best at cooking egg based foods (fried, boiled, scrambled, omlettes) yet he doesn’t even like eating them himself!

  18. Rayner*

    Oh, and I’ll shut up after this post, but I want to thank everybody who commented on my previous posts in other open threads – it’s been helpful to start thinking about what happens with my life in the future, even if I’m not sure what’s going to happen.

    Y’all are very helpful. And knowledgeable about lots of things – including roommate situations.

  19. Victoria, Please*

    This is a sad question. I have a friend who is far, far away whose spouse has a terminal cancer; they have four children. All the articles like “11 things to do for a friend whose spouse is going to die” assume that you are near enough to walk the dog and get groceries. Does anyone have ideas for what to do from 2300 miles away other than write nice messages on Facebook (her main method of communication)?

    1. Sascha*

      I am so sorry! Maybe you could mail them some gift cards to restaurants, preferably those in their area with delivery. That might be helpful for when they don’t want to cook.

      1. the gold digger*

        Exactly. When my dad was in the hospice – far from home for all of us but close to all our other relatives, the best thing my cousins and aunts and uncles did was take turns bringing meals to us. My mom, my brother, my sister, and I were staying at the hospice 35 miles from the relatives, but almost every day, one of them would drive down with food. Not having to worry about food is so helpful.

        Another thing that would be good, I would think, if your friend is in her own home is to arrange for someone to cut the grass and maybe clean her house. Life becomes All About Cancer and it’s so hard to take care of the everyday things.

        You are a good friend to be wondering about what you can do.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am so sorry, VP.
      When my husband was sick I could have used help with internet research such as looking up drugs and procedures. Then emailing me a short summary and perhaps ONE really good link to look at.

      Can you two Skype?

      How about the kids? Are you buds with them? Maybe you can talk with them and be that extra adult they can talk to.

      And uh, gift cards. Yeah, so she can buy food. My out-of-pocket for medical for three months was $20K. Neither of us were working. I cannot imagine having four kids. If all you have is twenty bucks a month, that is fine. Send it in a card. Tell her to buy some treats for herself and the kids. She will know what you mean.

      [Try to keep in mind that she cannot think to tell you everything she sees. The door to my husband’s oncologists office said “No credit cards.” Yeah, because anyone who is there has no credit left. So there went our cash/checks.]

      My thoughts go out to her.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      Send anything you can, food-wise. Grocery gift cards, or just straight have food delivered to their house, if you know what they like.

      Arrange to have a cleaning service, if you can afford it–even once or twice will be a huge help for them.

      How old are the kids? They will be hurting too–even if they are quite young. Now that school is getting underway, can you send school clothes or giftcards for them to get some clothes and school supplies? Send a package of “fun” stuff–books, crayons, whatever age range they’re at.

      Be available as a listening ear for her, whenever. Let her know that you will listen even if she just wants to bitch about someone who was slow at the grocery store. She will be in need of people to vent to, even if it’s not directly, so just listen.

      And ask her what she needs! Ask if there is anything you can send. And even if she says “Oh, we don’t need anything, thank you though” and then the next day she mentions how the house is a wreck and the kids are starting school and this and that–send a cleaning service, send something you think may cheer her up, send something you think may be useful. Don’t make her ask for charity–it’s very hard–but “ask” in the sense of listen to what she’s telling you that she needs, in her subtext.

    4. Trixie*

      Can reach out to their local friends/network, maybe brainstorm ideas of what they can do locally and you can chip in on funds to help? Aside from helping with meals, errands, etc., it would be nice if someone recorded various activities on a camcorder. SOmething the family have done the road. Plus maybe individual recordings from the spouse for each of the kids. And maybe the spouse has a bucket list of sorts or something special the community can help make happen.

      1. the gold digger*

        The recording is such a great idea. Someone made a video of my dad when he was in the hospice. He was telling stories. It’s about 30 minutes long. My mom made a copy for each of us kids. It took me 13 years before I could watch it. I watched it with my husband, who never met my dad, and I feel like my husband understands me a little better having “met” my dad. And I have this wonderful thing where I can visit with my dad when I want to.

    5. StudentA*

      So sweet of you. It is uplifting to read about such sweet friendships.

      If there is any way you can visit, and probably stay in a hotel or at a friend’s, ask if that’s ok with her. She probably could really use some alone time, either by herself to recharge or with her husband. You can take the kids to the zoo and get their mind off things for a little while. Four children and a terminally ill husband sounds exhausting, and she might not be taking care of herself.

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      My mum died five years ago when I was 23. One of things I really regret is not asking her about her life. Maybe you could compile a memory book of how you know your friend (their mum), including stories and pictures? I would have liked that. Sometimes the stories of people just end up in the ether.

      Also a food gift card or maybe a cleaner to come round once a week to do the cleaning? (depends on your budget, perhaps you can club together with a few of her other friends) Also ((hugs)). It’s not easy for you either.

    7. Victoria, Please*

      Thanks everyone for the good ideas and kind thoughts! Interestingly, one of the updates this week was that it’s hard to get the lawn mowed, so maybe that’s a good thing to send a “gift certificate” for.

      1. Andrea*

        I’ve been ill for a while and I find that although gift certificates are really wonderful and appreciated gifts, sometimes just calling to book the appt is too much. So, depending on the friend, I would call a lawn company directly and pay for lawn matienance and maybe a fall lawn clean up – that way it’s done and off your friend’s mental to-do list.

    8. Anonsie*

      Someone I knew had an ill family member that was in another state, and she would send them kitty litter and dog food and groceries via Amazon.

  20. Reluctant Sahib*

    Was just visiting my spouse’s family in a country where having a couple of house servants is fairly normal in their economic stratum. There’s a situation which is not-so-amusingly exactly like some of the worse situations here on AAM: one servant is wonderful, has been depended upon like a member of the family for a long time. The other shirks, owes a huge amount of money due to advances on their generous pay, is unhygienic, *steals* small sums of money and possessions, and worst of all, is slightly neglectful of the frail elderly person in their care. But for some reason, the Bad Servant cannot be fired, and the Good Servant is not rewarded adequately.

    There has got to be a religious parable in here somewhere.

  21. Lily*

    Is anyone else child-free here? I ask because I am, and I recently found out one of my close friends is pregnant (pretty far along, too) and… I feel very…kind of… reminded, almost, that there might be something “broken” in me for not wanting kids too. Also it reminds me that she and I aren’t anywhere close as we used to be, and my first insinct, as a child-free person, is to almost further distance myself because I feel like we’re just going to completely part ways as her priorities because intensely focused on her baby (which, I get, I do!, but I’m never going to relate.)

    Anyway, I’m looking toward other potential child-free people to hear their experiences with having their friends form families and whether they remained close or not because of the different life stages/philosophies.

    1. nep*

      Child-free here. Never had a desire to have children. I can’t offer much about remaining close (or not) with people starting families, as I’ve moved around a lot internationally and that affects how relationships/friendships evolve. Just wanted to say I hope you don’t truly feel as if something’s ‘broken’ in you for not wanting children. Some want them more than anything; some have no interest in becoming a parent, plain and simple.
      I get you — impossible for a non-parent to relate to a parent on many things. I hope you’ll be able to find some peace on this.

    2. nyxalinth*

      I am! I’ve known since I was 5 or 6 that I didn’t want kids. Sometimes I miss the idea… then I hear or see a meltdown in a store that sounds like there’s a human sacrifice going on in Aisle Five and I’m all “nope nope nope nope”. No regrets here.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Not sure if I count- because I am beyond my child bearing years but yeah, kids are a huge investment of time. And there is something to that drifting away feeling. Birds of a feather flock together, in part because of having similar needs. So yes, it will take a little reweaving for the friendship to continue. You will have to take a backseat to the baby, but so does everyone else in her life, too.

      Uhhh… that brokeness. I think it is good to do a double self check and make sure you are on course for the way you wish your life to play out. Just because you don’t want a particular thing does not make you broken. I don’t think you would tell your friend that she was broken for not working 70 hours per week as a business professional, so don’t tell yourself you are broken for some /any reason.

      Annnnd some of these wandering thoughts could simply indicate that it is time for you to ramp up what you are doing in some manner. The brain will play funny tricks on us like that- the idea to push ahead on some plans may first show in the form of revisiting old decisions. We go backwards for a bit then we push forward.

    4. Jill of All Trades*

      I’m child free, and as I get older that becomes more by choice than circumstance. I can’t say that the day won’t come where I wake up and having kids has become an all consuming must-make-happen-now thing, but I honestly don’t see it happening.

      It’s important to know that not wanting kids =/= broken. In fact, it’s really good and self-aware to know and accept that before you have kids.

      As to maintaining friendships with new parents, well, all people and relationships change. People will have more and less prominence in your life as you and they grow, develop, relocate, etc. You’ve been changing all along as well, and will continue to do so. Don’t try to keep the friendship the same as it has been, because that is impossible. She’s changing in a big way and can’t be the same friend that she has been. And that’s ok. But I think you should have a talk with her about the way the friendship has evolved and how you would like to stay close in the future while understanding that she’s going through a big change.

      1. Ali*

        I have no desire to have kids either. It’s not that I necessarily dislike kids or show no interest when people I know have children (I even buy presents for my friend’s two kids for birthdays and Christmas), but I don’t feel any kind of maternal instinct. I also don’t feel I have the temperament needed to deal with a child who acts out in some way, or if I were to have to raise a child with special needs. For more shallow reasons, I generally like having my time and money as mine and don’t want to worry about spending it on diapers, kids’ clothes or anything like that. I’d much rather have a dog!

        My stepmom never had kids of her own either and is content with me and my siblings as stepchildren, and she adores her niece and nephew. But yeah, I definitely feel a little odd at times. When I was online dating, it seemed like every guy at least wanted to consider kids. Frustrating experience, and I wonder why if that’s why I haven’t been able to find a partner yet.

    5. BRR*

      I’m child free and really don’t foresee ever wanting children. Being a gay man I think it’s different though as there’s a lot more involved if I chose to have a child. I joke that I’m going to get a vasectomy just to be safe. Having children is a milestone expected by society but to me it makes no sense that it should be this thing everybody thinks you have to do. Having a child is an incredibly big deal. I completely get how people want children but I haven’t been convinced that it’s for me.

      I’m nervous for when my best friend has children. I think she’ll be good at least about not always talking about a baby or how everything is different because she’s a mother. I’m worried it will be harder to see each (we live about 1.5 hours away) but with a child involved that can make it harder. I have other friends who seemed to completely changed when having children. They do things they never would have done before. But you never know how people are going to be after they have children so I wouldn’t preemptively distance yourself.

      1. Christy*

        I’m with you–I’m a lesbian with PCOS, so I have lower fertility and I’d need to make arrangements to have kids, though perhaps not as many as gay men need.

        I’m still on the fence about kids, but I think I’d be much more pro-kids if I could just stop birth control and conceive them with my partner. Like, I like the idea of the genetics meshing. But without that? It’s almost a why-bother.

    6. Mimmy*

      Child-free by choice here. Yeah sometimes it’s a little hard because all of our friends from when we were dating/first got married all started families, so we lost touch. But we’re used to it now. I do wish we were friendly with other childless couples.

      Also, all 3 of my siblings have kids (3 kids each) and I sometimes feel like DH and I are the oddballs because our lives don’t center around kids and extended families. The good thing is that my family seems to have accepted that. Some of them totally get that family gatherings can be a bit much for us at times, especially multi-day visits.

    7. esra*

      All of my friends are at the stage where they are either working on their first or having their second/third kid. I actually only have two single friends (yikes). I still feel close to my friends with kids, but I honestly do not want to have another conversation about torn membranes during pregnancy (more yikes), or baby fluids (all the yikes). We’re all still close, but I’m also branching out, taking some courses, trying in general to meet more people who will talk about not-poop/be interested in going out on Friday/Saturday nights.

    8. krisl*

      I don’t have kids, but there was a time I wanted to. Maybe that makes it easier for me to listen to people tell their kid stories. I’ve got nephews and nieces, and I adore them, most of the time :)

      I think it really depends. Just about anyone with a new baby is going to spend a lot of time and though on the baby, so for a while, you may end up hearing a lot about that. Also, a lot of people don’t get enough sleep when they have a new baby, so a new parent may be a lot less thoughtful than usual and may have less time than usual.

      Maybe for a while, call and ask to come over, admire the baby (from a distance if you want), listen to your friend. After a while, your friend will probably start asking you about your life again, and it can be more of a mutual friendship again.

      If there’s an aspect of kids that you would like to hear more about, you might be able to steer your friend in that direction a bit in talking.

    9. Jen RO*

      I’m also CF – I just never wanted kids, even when I was a little girl. I used to think that the ‘biological clock’ would start ticking at some point, but I’m 30 and it’s not doing anything.

      It might be odd, but the childfree subreddit helped me become OK with my decision. Yes, some of its bad reputation is deserved, but there are also very supportive people with the same outlook on life.

      As for friends, I was also worried that our lives would become too different… but it hasn’t happened. I used to tell me best childhood friend that she could raise my baby until she/he became an actual human I could talk to; 15 years later, my friend had a 3 year old daughter and she is the person who most defends my decision to be CF. On my part, I am her daughter’s godmother. Whenever we see each other (my friend lives in another country), she always makes time for adults-only activities, whether it’s watching Twilight and laughing our assess off, or going out drinking and dancing. I also understand that her daughter is the most important part of her life (especially since she got divorced) and I try to help as much as possible, like taking the toddler out for a few hours while mom teaches a piano lesson. And, while I still don’t have that ‘awwwww’ instinct when I see a baby, her daughter is turning into a lovely little lady.

      1. matcha123*

        I am on that subreddit everyday.
        Not necessarily posting, but lurking. And thanking my lucky stars that I don’t have to do with some of the things I read there.

    10. Sheep*

      I’m child-free, though haven’t had the chance to have children really (I’m only 26, and I’ve been single for three years, before that I was a student etc). Now, I don’t know if I want children. And I definitely don’t want them right now. I’m working on getting my career going the way I want it and also, the thought of getting up a million times in the middle of the night doesn’t appeal. Nor does the whole thing about ‘once they’re there, you can never get rid of them’… (If I had kids, I probably wouldn’t want to get rid of them, but you know..) Also, there’s the giving-birth-thing. It properly freaks me out, and I can’t stand hearing people talk about it. It makes me physically sick (unfortunately). So, not super excited about the though of kids. Anyway, my current (live-in) boyfriend really wants kids. And has told me that he will be very unhappy if he doesn’t have kids in his life. He is also from a different culture. One in which family seems super important. We had a loooong discussion about it the other day. I kind of don’t know what to do. I do not want to lose him, but do I have kids (later, not now) if I’m not totally sure? It’s a toughie!

      1. Mom staying anon.*

        Not to threadjack, but OMG don’t have kids if ur not sure! Mine’s 3, I was sure, and I still have those times when it’s the same Q every 10 seconds (a la are we there yet) and I just want to go back a decade and make every single decision different to be childfree, single, w/a completely different career track (and a couple of good roommates, I’m fine w/that). (The decade redo hooks up to being unhappy w/other stuff, including job, but my point: don’t assume that u’ll love them sooo much it’ll fix all ur doubts.)

      2. krisl*

        You might want to talk to your boyfriend even more about his culture to find out if there are aspects of it that you can’t live with. Sometimes those things can sneak up on you. It’s good to know what you’re getting into and what he’s getting into. You have a different culture than him. Sometimes that can work really well. Other times, it’s a path to heartache.

        Having kids because someone else wants to doesn’t sound likea good idea. Kids take a lot of work and a lot of sacrifice.

    11. Claire*

      I’m child free. I’m also asexual and aromantic, and the whole partner and/or kids thing has never been a thing I wanted for myself. I don’t think I’m broken, this is just who I am. Broken would be trying to fit some other idea of who I ought to be.

      Sone of my friends have kids and some don’t. Yes, friendships change as people have kids, but they change for other reasons too. People go travelling, get new jobs that demand more of their time, move to new cities, start new romantic relationships, get married (and divorced) etc. All of these things involve “different life stages/philosophies”, one way or another. I don’t relate any better to my friend who took a job as a high-powered business executive and works 69 hours a week any better than I do to the one who has three kids, both choices are very different from mine and so much of their lives is alien to me. Yet I still have a lot of other things in common with them, and I still love them dearly. These friendships are not what they were when we were all students together. But then, how could they be?

      Things change. Relationships evolve and grow with those changes. People grow closer and more distant as their lives go by. Sometimes relationships end, for whatever reason. That’s sad but inevitable. More often, though, I find they can grow and change into new and wonderful directions if they are given the opportunity.

    12. B*

      Nope but speaking as someone with one 3 y o who can barely manage him some days – IMO not wanting kids is much more rational than wanting them.
      It makesme sad that you think of yourself as possibly broken because of this :(
      I understand the urge to distance too… Not saying it’s right or wrong but in your shoes i think i would feel the same :-/ i hope you can find peace with the decision whether you distance yourself or not x

    13. matcha123*

      I am!
      I thought about the husband and kids thing when I was in elementary school, but it was more like a scene change “you’re married!” Scene change “you have a kid!” kind of thing.

      I honestly feel like getting pregnant would be a failure on my part. That’s probably due to everything that was pounded into me as a kid about getting good grades, going to a good university, getting a good job and OMG DO NOT EVAR GET PREGNANT!!!11

      But just as much, I don’t want kids for so many reasons: I helped raise my younger sister and the issues with talking back/friends/budgeting/good education/etc are just too much for me. I don’t want to spend my life making superficial chit-chat with suburban moms as they humble-brag their kids like they did when I was in school, “Oh my gosh. Kristen just has so many after school commitments, lacrosse and volunteering and such that she barely has time for her AP courses. And while I *think* she’ll pull an A in Chem, I really wish she had more time to study for the SATs, plus the ACTs right after that, and she’s got the SAT2’s, too. You’re lucky that Grace isn’t in sports like Kristen, it’s just so hectic!”

      But, not wanting kids isn’t “broken,” it just means that you’ve taken a long hard look at yourself and you know what is best for you. It’s not like getting a new car because everyone else is doing it. It’s raising a human being, and if you’re not really onboard with the commitments, then it’s definitely not fair to the kid!

    14. Cari*

      Wrt feeling broken: you’re not broken, you’re doing your bit for the greater good of humanity’s survival! (I’ve recently finished watching Utopia (UK original))

    15. the gold digger*

      It’s harder to be friends with people who have kids, but it can be done. You hang out at the kid’s soccer game – perfect time to talk to your friend. You make dinner at the friend’s house. You go to kid-friendly restaurants. It’s hard, but it’s kind of fun getting to know your friends’ kids.

      And there is nothing broken about you. I have never really cared about having kids. I was pregnant once, right before I got married, and had a miscarriage. We were excited that I was pregnant but also terrified – I felt as if I had just been given an 18-year prison sentence!

      It doesn’t make you a bad person not to want children. It just makes you – a person who does not want children.

    16. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Yep! Child-free, with no interest in children, and I don’t really like children in general. I think they’re adorable from roughly age 1 to 5, then they just become obnoxious and I lose all interest until they’re perhaps 15, and they start to become interesting as people. I’m with the person I’ll be with forever, and he’s on the same page. It’s nice. :)

      I do feel everyone on this thread lamenting the lack of baby-free friends! Luckily, I live in DC, where I think people generally tend to put kids off a little later than where I went to school (I have so many HS friends with three or more kids!), but I’m sure it’s something I’ll need to recon with later.

    17. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No desire for children here either. I like kids and absolutely adore my nieces, and feel like aunt is the perfect role for me. I have thought about possibly foster-parenting at some point in the future, though.

      I think you can stay close to friends with kids if you’re willing to embrace the changes that kids bring in their lives — accept that you’ll be doing things around the kids’ schedules, that you might have frequent kid interruptions when you hang out with them, and that they’re going to want to talk about their kids a lot. I find talking about their kids pretty interesting (up until a point), and I like getting to know people’s kids, so that’s worked for me, but it definitely requires a willingness to shift all those things. It also doesn’t hurt that I still know a ton of people without kids, so there’s balance; I haven’t yet felt like the odd one out for not wanting/having them. (If anything, I feel smug about all my quiet and free time and financial freedom in comparison.)

      1. fposte*

        I also like, when I can, to develop a relationship with the kid independent of the parents. Breakfast out is a great little-kid meal, or you can make cookies together for an hour or two. The kid generally loves going on a special grownup “date,” and the parents are thrilled to get some time to themselves; then you often find out you actually really like this little person your friends now live with, which changes the dynamic too.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Ahhh, and never underestimate the powerful role of being an “auntie” type person in someone’s life. It’s a nice spot. Close enough to know the family dynamic/history but less of the heavy emotional strings. I used to tell my aunts I did this or that- they would laugh, relieved I was not their kid and then talk me through what had transpired. Their non-judgey, non-parenty sounding approach was a relief for me. My aunts actually filled in gaps in my life.

        Lily, just because you don’t want to have kids is not the same as saying you are not interested in people. And we are all someone’s kid. I have a couple friends in their twentys. This makes them thirty years younger than me. I so enjoy their friendship. Because someone talked to me on an adult level, I can remember how good that felt and how much I got out of it, so I know they mean it when they tell me that they enjoy the friendship.
        Trust that you have plenty of purpose.

        1. Melissa*

          Yessss, I love being my cousin’s children’s “auntie”. I get to interact with the children – especially her precocious oldest daughter, who’s personality is pretty similar to child!me – in a really different way than I would with my own children, I presume.

          And yes, my aunts fill that role for me, too. My mom has 4 crazy sisters and I’ve turned to each one of them (and one of her brothers) for advice in a motherly-but-not-my-mother role at different points of my life. Growing up I was childfree and I always just wanted to be an Awesome Aunt – but I changed my mind literally about 2 years ago and decided that I might want kids of my own. Maybe.

    18. Just Visiting*

      Child-free, always have been, always will be. It’s natural to drift apart. If you want to stay friends, then you have to accept that the kid will always be there and the majority of your hang-out time will be kid time. If you’re a CF person who likes kids, this can work. Offer to babysit, accompany the kid and mom on a play date, etc. I don’t really like children, so yeah, I just accept this drifting apart as a fact of life. The majority of my friends are CF as well, so this hasn’t really been a huge problem yet. I encourage you to find some other CF friends even if you do manage to hang on to your childed friends. We are out there! (I think the latest polls show a fifth of all women aren’t planning on having kids, and while some of these are probably not by choice, a lot of them are.)

      I always feel kinda weird because I want neither a child nor a high-powered career, and I feel like there’s a lot of people who think that if you’re not on the kids track, then you’d better be on the career track or you’re a total loser. I solved that by moving to a place where neither children nor careers are exceptionally prized, but that’s kind of an extreme move.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Where do you live because I clearly need to move there. I have no interest in having kids or a high power career either.

      2. virgo*

        We’re kinda the opposite. My wife wanted children but did not want what happens nine months before. So we tried five years of the immaculate conception method to have a child and when that didn’t work work we adopted.

    19. Elkay*

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels like there’s something broken in me for not wanting kids. My logic is partly selfish (I like our life/house/disposable income) and slightly backed by some health things, but even without the health I wouldn’t want kids. I made that very clear to my husband when we got married and he’s always been fine with it. Thankfully the only person who’s ever questioned me on it was a friend’s inebriated aunt at a wedding.

      1. Melissa*

        Well, to be fair, most of the reasons people *want* kids are “selfish” reasons too. So don’t feel bad or ‘broken’ because of that.

    20. Melissa*

      I’m not child-free (I am childless, though), but I just want to gently say that you don’t have to distance yourself from your friend because she had a baby. A lot of people do sort of become distant and less available because they now have a lot less free time, but sometimes that’s out of necessity and not by choice. And even then I have some friends who have remained as dynamic as they were before they had kids.

      My cousin, who’s the same age as me has two small children (8 and 4) and we’re closer than we were before she had the kids – she called me when she got pregnant with the first at 19 and we flew out to visit each other, then I moved about 2 hours away from her. Her children usually meant that I had to visit her (easier for me to get out to her than for her to schlep her children) and that we spent a lot of time at home chilling and talking, but it was nice! And I fostered a really close relationship with her kids, especially her oldest one. Now that they’re older she’s super-active and has a large circle of friends; she goes out on the weekends when the kids are with their dad and she’s always driving all over the place taking the kids to practice and parties and whatnot because she doesn’t want them to not have a full life just because she’s a single parent. She also attends nursing school part-time and works full-time. I think she’s a supernatural being who doesn’t require sleep.

      Also, her having children doesn’t mean that your life stages are different or that her philosophies are different. My cousin and I have different problems and issues that we face, but we’re the same age and are largely at the same life stage. We just deal with it in different ways because she’s a single mom and I’m married with none. I have lots of single friends, for example! We have different problems and issues to face, but still a lot of things in common.

      If you want to maintain the friendship, I think you do have to accept some things: 1) you might be the one who does most of the reaching out, but if you’re okay with that, your friend may be very grateful for it – because I think a lot of people assume that new parents no longer will want to hang with them; 2) the things you do to hang out together will probably change a lot. You may spend a lot of time at her house just hanging out with her and the baby, or she might bring the baby over to you to chill, but probably not as many outings as before; and 3) at least in the beginning, the kid is going to be around most of the time. If you’re childfree but you still like or are neutral about children, that’s probably fine with you – although it depends on how well-behaved the kid is. Me personally, I enjoy being a different kind of influence/adult in my younger cousin’s life – I’m the “nerdy cousin” who buys her books and plays math games with her, which she loves. The little boy is less interested in me, although he does like my nerdy Mario stuff.

    21. Jam Wheel*

      Also CF by Choice here. Never wanted kids and have known that for a long time as I absolutely cannot stand children and the noise/chaos they can create. Once, in my early 20s, I was dating a guy who was absolutely adamant that he wanted kids ASAP. I tried thinking that was something I could do, or maybe he would have been happy with one, but eventually came to terms that would not be true to myself (never mind the fact that I had him pegged as a guy who probably wouldn’t lift a finger to help with a kid). I did manage to find an equally committed childfree guy though, and we are extremely happy just the two of us and our furbaby kitties (spoiled that they are. Who buys fresh north Atlantic herring off the boat for their kitties? We do!)

      Unfortunately societal pressure and the child-centric viewpoint of today really can drive the thought that you are somehow broken when in reality your choice is just as valid as those who are childed. Please be true to yourself, especially when seeking out a partner, and be fair and level about your choice with them, as they should be with you.

    22. Stephanie*

      I’m ambivalent. If I found the right guy, sure, but I don’t feel like having kids just to have them. I do feel unqiue among most of my friends that I’m not in a rush to have kids or feel a pressing urge to have them.

      Having a disabled sibling is also what gives me a bit of pause. I know I’ll be responsible for my sister after my parents die, so in some sense, that’s like having my own child. I am also unsure if I do have the fortitude to have a disabled child of my own (if that did happen) and know there isn’t any guarantee that I would have a “normal” child.

      1. cuppa*

        I have a disabled sibling, and you have echoed many of the thoughts I didn’t even realize that I had. I am also child free.

    23. Ms. Anonymity*

      I am child free. My husband and I decided in our mid 20’s that children weren’t for us so he had the snip-snip to ensure we’d be safe down the road. Best decision ever! We are years out from that now and still feel happy and confident with our decision not to have children.

      However, all of my friends have children. Every. single. one. of. them. AND I love them all. I take so much pleasure in spoiling the kids, acting as a refuge when my friends need a kid free night or weekend, and just getting to know the kids in general.

      It’s sometimes annoying when you’re trying to talk to your friend on the phone, and you’ll definitely have to be the one putting forth most of the effort to maintain the relationship, at least for a good long while. I think it’s all about changing your expectations and deciding if you want this person in your life and what you’re willing to do to accommodate the changes in their life. For me, I’m happy to put forth extra effort and my friends recognize that and are so, so greatful.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Business as usual. No big surprises here, we knew that companies could tell us we have jobs when we don’t and, now, they still can.
      Give it 10 or 30 years we will revisit this and come to a different conclusion.

      I have no clue how these decision makers can sleep at night and not feel wrong. No idea. But it goes to show- just because something is legal does not mean it’s ethical.

      1. Windchime*

        Lots and lots of money does weird things to peoples’ brains. It seems like once these people get to a certain level on the food chain, their morals go out the window and suddenly they are able to justify these immoral decisions. I am guessing they are sleeping just fine.

    2. James M*

      *Sigh* it seems like every week something unbelievable is reported… but it happens in Texas so it’s not so unbelievable after all.

  22. ThursdaysGeek*

    A few weeks back, Alison said that she still had the goal of two of her commenters meeting and getting married. So, if you’re single and looking (I’m not), post something about you that you’d want your soul-mate AAM commenter to notice. You already know you have AAM in common, right?

    If you find you want to meet another commenter, I’m sure you can email Alison and provide contact info, ask for info on someone else. If Commenter1 wants to meet CommenterB AND CommenterB wants to meet Commenter1, I’m sure Alison would love to introduce you. Or perhaps you can track each other down through the LI group. Or something.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      No way. I already dated someone I met in an online community I’ve been in for over ten years and the breakup nearly wrecked everything. I won’t date people at work for the same reason.

    2. James M*

      I interpreted AAM to mean that she would like a story of two commentors spontaneously forming a relationship that eventually leads to marriage. A contrived matchmaking effort seems misaligned with that scenario.

      Realizing just how un-sexy those sentences are, I would like to assure 30-ish single readers that I can, in fact, whisper sweet nothings: Portobello.   Vermicelli.   Cabernet sauvignon.

  23. BTownGirl*

    Lily, I’m dealing with a similar issue at the moment! My husband and I love children, but our current situation (he travels a ton for work) would be tough with small children and we’re fine with it being just us. Most of our friends have kids and it can be tough sometimes, because some parents fall into the trap of thinking that whatever child-free people have going on will never be as important as what they have going on. I try not to judge, but it can get obnoxious (thank you, anonymous Internet, for allowing me to say that!!). I do have one friend that I’m definitely not very close with anymore, because I got tired of inviting her and her kids to do things, hearing “I’m just so busy!”, understanding how busy she is and then….seeing 900 Facebook pictures of her doing kid-stuff with other parents. Luckily, the vast majority of parents don’t do any of the stuff I’ve described and you’ll find that their kids will be your knew bffs! I say give your friendship the benefit of the doubt and see what happens. If all else fails, you can do as I do and pour yourself a G&T and enjoy the lack of stretchmarks and mysterious stains on your furniture :)

  24. Ruffingit*

    Celebrating our first anniversary this weekend :) It was Thursday, but we’re making a weekend out of it. Can’t believe we’ve been married a year! What a great year it has been!

    1. fposte*

      I remember the great Ruffingit Elopement of 2013–it seems like only yesterday. I love that when you look back you see that the year has been wonderful!

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thank you! It really has been a wonderful year. We’ve had some ups and down financially and with family issues, but we’ve stayed strong through it all together, working as a partnership. We’re a real team, which is not something I’ve ever experienced before in a relationship, it’s pretty damned amazing to have that now!

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Congratulations! I hope you have a lovely long weekend :) and many more years to come.

    3. Ruffingit*

      Thank you all for the warm wishes, I so appreciate those! We just got back home from our weekend away. It was a nice celebration and we’re looking forward to our future together. :)

  25. NoBody HeyAnonynonny*

    I just need to whine.

    Tomorrow I turn 50. I was originally going to have a big party. Halfway through planning it, a friend declared the day before [today] to be a day for a big event of their own, and invited a large majority of our [mutual] friends, but not me. I understand. You can’t invite everyone.

    I don’t know anyone where I live. My nearest friends are hours away. After my big party plans fell apart I made plans for a smaller gathering with the few who would be available, but then I had a major expense that drained my savings and that fell through, too. None of them are interested in coming out here, either. Ever, for all the years I’ve lived here.

    Tomorrow I shall go spend more money than I should on too much sushi [if there is such a thing as ‘too much’] and then maybe go get some ice cream. My parents will call. My sibling will send a one line email birthday greeting. And that will be it. Fifty. So glad I made it this far. Whee.

    1. AmyNYC*

      Happy Birthday! I’m sorry you plans fell through, hopefully next year this will be a funny story when you toast to 51

    2. Ruffingit*

      It sucks when your “friends” are unwilling to make the effort for something that is important to you. I’m sorry that is the case and I wish you a very happy birthday with the sushi and the ice cream! Next year, plan something special for yourself. You deserve it. Also, consider finding new friends when you feel up to it. You deserve better.

    3. Artemesia*

      I am a lot older than you and just moved to a place where I knew almost noone and had no friends. By the time my milestone birthday arrived this spring, I had 35 guests for the party and half a dozen of them are actual friends rather than just friendly acquaintances. I am an introvert so this didn’t happen easily or automatically.

      I am sorry your 50th was disappointing. Let me suggest that friends a long way away who can’t even be counted on to join you for your 50th birthday are a thin reed to build a social life on. A lot of friendship is alas location. Time to make a few new friends in your locale.

      Join a church if that is your thing with an eye to its social opportunities i.e. some churches do more with social activities or have more groups people can join and meet friends. If that is not you, then take a look at your local meetup options and join book clubs, walking groups, other groups you are interested in and make it your mission to follow up with likely potential friends for coffee, a movie, a meal etc What I did is get their phone number into my phone and then call to plan a lunch or visit to a museum. Or get involved in local charities, classes, etc etc Do this sort of thing for awhile, always following up with people who seem interesting and interested and by the time 51 roles around you will have someone to celebrate with.

    4. Liz*

      Happy Birthday. I hope you can do something nice for yourself today. Just a thought, is there someone else by themselves? What about taking cupcakes or cookies to a nursing home? I bet it would be greatly appreciated. How about treating yourself to a manicure or pedicure, along with the sushi and ice cream? However you spend the day, I wish you all the best.

    5. Cari*

      Happy birthday! There is no such thing as too much sushi :) I hope you are having a lush day regardless of your big plans falling through, and there’s no reason why your birthday celebration with friends needs to be on your actual birthday – if you feel up to it and finances allow, maybe have a big do in a few weeks time?

    6. Seal*

      I lost my taste for large birthday parties in my 20s, when a former coworker threw me a surprise party at work (complete with obnoxious singing telegram), then propositioned me afterwards. The fact that this idiot escalated the sexual harassment towards me and was eventually fired for it further soured my opinion of big parties in general.

      So I have long made it a point of treating myself on my birthday. I always take the day off – in fact, I don’t think I’ve worked on my birthday in over 20 years (the fact that it’s near a major holiday helps). I always plan to do something fun but low key. Sometimes I get together with family, sometimes not – in recent years, more often not since I now live halfway across the country. When I turned 50 last year I arranged to go back home to visit family and wound up having a great, small birthday party. This year my mother had surgery a few days before my birthday (she’s fine now), so everything else was a bit of an afterthought.

      Happy birthday, OP! When in doubt, treat yourself – after all, it’s your day!

      1. Melissa*

        This is the way I am. I don’t want a big party and a celebration on my birthday – a meal with a few close friends, followed/preceded by a day of pampering myself by doing whatever the heck it is I want to do, is just fine for me. I turned 28 a month and a half ago and my coworkers didn’t even know it was my birthday until like a week or so later, when I mentioned in passing that I had a good one. They were baffled that I hadn’t told them ahead of time, but I was like “Why would I mention it?”

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Happy birthday!
      Go shopping and buy yourself something really nice. It doesn’t have to be expensive–just something you like and want and that no one else will think to give you.

    8. Manager anonymous*

      I know that it seems rough now but here is a plan that helps me…
      Your birthday is not just one day. Celebrate Birthday Month- (My husband planned a business trip the first year we were married on my birthday. His quick response was – what is one day when you have birthday month.)

      Far away friends and family- buy a stack a cards or postcards. Get some really great stamps from the Post Office. Sit comfortably on your couch with a cup of tea and your favor biscuit. Write a short note to each… recounting a favorite moment together – a past birthday outing (remember that Irish Bar on 66th street when I turned 24?) and why you are grateful that they are in your life.

      Then on your birthday or another day that month
      Plan the perfect day (mine was start the day with a swim at the gym, then a massage at Bliss Spa, lunch at the Hampton Chutney Company, shopping the sale racks at Eileen Fisher, a visit to the Pearl yarn shop, browsing and buying whatever hardcover/new release at the the McNally Jackson, more tea, pop-into a few more shops that bore my friends/family to tears, ready made dinner to take home from Dean and Delucca/and or dinner on my own later that evening sitting at the bar of my favorite restaurant reading my new book, making a donation to my favorite non-profit)

  26. Miss Pronounced*

    Does anyone know of any good TWOP alternatives? I visit Previously.tv for my Bravo shows but it’s somewhat meh for me.

    1. SherryD*

      Go Fug Yourself does a few of the trashier shows — Nashville, Hart of Dixie, and a few others. It’s a fashion-focused blog, but they talk about other aspects of the shows, too. Not a big selection of shows, and a different style than TWOP, but it’s by two former TWOP writers, and they’re wicked funny.

    2. Noah*

      I miss TWoP so much. Previously.tv just isn’t quite the same and I don’t have the energy to search the internet to find something better.

  27. LF*

    Just checking in with an update on the cat cave… my kitty has been going into it intermittently, but I’ve had to trick her into it by putting tissue paper in there and rustling it around. Pic linked through my username. It’s adorable and I love it!

    1. Artemesia*

      I got one for my son for his birthday; he has a giant cat and just moved to a new city. When it arrived the cat showed no interest, but they put it out on the window seat where he likes to hang out. When they returned from an afternoon out, the cat was happily peering out of the cave so it seems to be a hit.

      1. LF*

        They just look so funny in there! I think my cat will like it even more when winter comes and she needs somewhere nice and warm to cozy up.

  28. StudentA*

    Some time ago, Alison had asked for recommendations for tv shows to watch while using the elliptical (or was it bike?) It had to be a gripping tv show, so she can keep exercising. A few people recommended the Walking Dead. I never really paid attention to it. Well, I saw it was on Netflix and decided to give it a go.

    I am HOOKED!!!!!! I just finished season 3. Season 5 is supposed to air in October, so that will be when season 4 is on Netflix. Which is kind of annoying. But I wanted to thank those of you who recommended the Walking Dead. It is addicting!

    I tend to find the “if you like X tv show, you should watch Y” not very helpful a lot of the time. Sometimes, the shows are too dissimilar to be recommended, I find. But if anyone can recommend a show that’s as addicting as the Walking Dead, I would love a recommendation :)

    1. KAZ2Y5*

      For me, Supernatural is just as addicting. I started watching it on the recommendation of a friend and ended up watching 3 seasons the summer before the 4th season started (I was in a rush to get caught up). I could speak about Supernatural (and Sam and Dean!) forever, but will just tell you to check it out on Netflix!

      1. Noah*

        OMG yes! A commenter on a previous open thread got me to finally watch Supernatural from start to current. I had seen a few random episodes on cable before, but watching it from the start sucked me right in.

        1. De Minimis*

          I tried multiple times to start Supernatural and just couldn’t get into it. I had thought maybe it got better later and that I should try to skip to later ones, but it seems like everyone who likes the show has liked it from the beginning.

          My problem with Walking Dead is that I read a lot of the comics and the show seems to follow them to the point where you know a lot of what’s coming if you’ve read the comics. Not everything, but a lot of it. Also, the show just got too slow paced for me.

          I started watching Happy Valley, a new Netflix show, but it’s just too dark and depressing for me, and that’s saying something. I did see all of Lillyhammer a while back due to the recommendations here and really liked it.

          1. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

            re: Supernatural – as a data point I started watching in Season 4…
            like any show it’s not for everyone though, which is awesome because it means we have lots of shows to choose from :)

      2. StudentA*

        After reading your comment, I sat down and tried to watch it. I was tired, and could not get into it. I will give it another chance though :)

        1. KAZ2Y5*

          I would give it 4-5 episodes. You will either be hooked or think we are crazy to watch it ;-)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I love The Walking Dead. It’s one reason I splurged and upgraded my satellite TV when I found a job–being able to watch that and Doctor Who as they actually air!

    3. Mints*

      Have you tried Sons of Anarchy? They are very very different, but the plots move quick enough for me, and there are enough interesting plot points without jumping the shark moments. I don’t watch much drama, but these two shows are basically it.
      Sons of Anarchy is gearing up for its last season in the fall, and last year’s finale was heartbreaking. Like I actually felt I was mourning. So I’m looking forward to bloody revenge this season

      (Sons of Anarchy is about a biker gang, starring Charlie Hunnam [do you like men? he’s gorgeous] as the son and grudging budding leader of the gang, and he spends six years trying to balance the gang with more reputable pursuits. It’s also starring Katey Segal and Ron Perlman)

  29. Ali*

    Just want to say thanks to everyone who talked with me about dental anxiety a couple weeks ago! I went for my appointment on Tuesday, which was just an exam and X-ray, as that’s all I wanted done at the time. (Plus, the dental hygienist was on vacation anyway.) My dentist was very nice and reassuring (I liked her right away when she walked into the room and sat in the exam chair to talk to me) and told me I have maybe a few minor cavities and need a cleaning, but that she’s seen much worse. That’s it! I feel so relieved knowing that I got that first checkup out of the way. When I go back for my cleaning, I’ll have the option of watching TV in the treatment room or listening to my iPod if I desire, so I’ll definitely be bringing my music along. It was also a plus that her office smelled nothing like a dentist’s office, which part triggered my fear. I braced myself when I walked in but was so relieved to not smell anything awful.

    The only bad news is that my wisdom teeth have to come out at some point. I’ve never had any kind of surgery or general anesthetic, so I’m pretty scared to get that done. But really, I’m just grateful that after not getting to the dentist for so many years, I don’t have any major problems and that what I do have is easily fixable. I know I got lucky this time and won’t again, though, so I’m stepping it up in the oral care department.

    1. Ruffingit*

      Glad it went better than you thought it would. I was scared to have my wisdom teeth out too a few years back as I’d never been under general anesthesia either, but it really was no big thing. They put you out, do their thing and you wake up, no problem. The recovery was a bit bumpy for me as I like food and it was a little while before I could eat again, but that was no big thing in the grand scheme.

      1. De Minimis*

        I’ve had three of mine taken out, two were kind of tough to do but one was not a big deal. Only had a local on them…I think the one time it was difficult was just that it wasn’t a very good oral surgeon doing it.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      My husband just had an impacted wisdom tooth out this Tuesday. He had also never had any sort of surgery or anesthesia, and he was excited to see “what it would be like.” His verdict? Like nothing. Truly, he didn’t even know anything–they gave him an IV and it was lights out until he was laying down recovering. Then he slept for like five more hours after getting home. It hasn’t been bad at all–just ibuprofen and soft foods, two days off work, like nothing. He said it was significantly easier and much less scary than when he had a tooth pulled with just Novacaine. Piece of cake!

      And afterwards you can have as much Jello, pudding, and soft ice cream as you want for a couple of days.

      1. danr*

        That was the old incentive for kids having their tonsils out. My brother decided that the pain wasn’t worth it… after the surgery of course.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yeah, that’s the line they fed me too. They just didn’t bother to mention that after the tonsils were removed I wouldn’t want any ice cream or jello or anything: it all hurt too bad.

          On the other hand, the wisdom teeth and anesthesia were no big deal, except for the worry ahead of time. If you like savory more than sweet, a warm broth is a nice change from the ice cream.

    3. Lamb*

      On wisdom teeth:
      They gased me for the first two so I recall nothing, but the other two were simple- novacane, slit the gum, grab the tooth, and some painless tugging. I couldn’t believe how quick it went!

    4. Stephanie*

      All four of mine were impacted. Two were impacted at 90-degree angles (as in, they were growing in sideways under my gum) and the other two were impacted at 45-degree angles and had started to erupt through the surface. Even with all that, the surgery wasn’t too bad (I was put under general anesthesia) and I recovered fully after about three days. I just remember going to sleep and then waking up 90 minutes later very groggy.

      If anesthesia bothers you, some dentists might do local only (if your extraction will be pretty straightforward).

  30. CoffeeLover*

    Gift ideas anyone?

    I’m in my first serious relationship and I’d like to get some ideas for future gifts. It’s for a guy that is so easy to shop for that he’s hard to shop for (he’s pleased with everything but needs nothing). So far we’ve given each other jewelery, but I wanted to see if anyone had other suggestions for birthdays, Christmas and random gifting.

    Cloths won’t work because it’s hard to find things that fit him well unfortunately :(

    1. Claire*

      For people who don’t need stuff, I’d usually go with getting them experiences rather than things. Concert tickets, sports events, trips/holidays, tickets to an exhibition, or those day-packages of experiences (hot air ballooning, go-kart racing, parachuting, etc). Or lessons in something they want to do.

      If you want to buy him objects, though, it really depends. What sort of things is he into? How about gadgets, books, DVDs/music or related memorabilia? Sports stuff? Computer games? Or accessories rather than clothes (a tie, scarf, hat/gloves etc)?

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I tend to go for experiences for those who have everything. Also sometimes things that people don’t tend to buy for themselves, like a lovely big bath sheet or a new fancy pillow or a sarong.

      2. Jillociraptor*

        Me too. The best gift I’ve ever given my BF of almost 7 years was a “coupon” for me to pay for a PPV boxing match and make him the dinner of his choice for the fight. What are some of his favorite things? Maybe in particular things that he might like to do but aren’t necessarily your cup of tea?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      For random gifting sometimes thinking stuff works. For example: My husband was not a gardener. I am. But he LOOOVED tomatoes, he was wild about tomatoes. So some choice tomato plants in containers would be a great idea here. Small enough for the novice to take care of and yet rewarding enough to keep the interest flowing. Notice I chose something that I knew something about, make sure one of you knows something about to use/handle the gift.

    3. Perpetua*

      My gifts so far have been clothes, books and inside jokes as little tchotchkes, but I agree with others that experiences might be the way to go, as well as different versions of everyday things – a fun nice beach towel (if you have any use for it, of course), a great pillow, a good cutting board, a novelty mug, etc.

      Also, I’d recommend this site: notonthehighstreet dot com (avoiding linking so that the comment doesn’t go into moderation). I’ve never actually bought anything there, but I’ve gotten some great inspiration for things to do myself or get done cheaper/closer.

    4. littlemoose*

      My BF is hard to shop for too. He LOVES pinball, and while I can’t buy him a pinball machine for Christmas, I can get him other stuff, like a custom neon sign for his pinball room. His birthday is coming up and I’ve got him a couple of DVD documentaries about pinball, etc. If he has any niche interests, maybe build on that? I’ve found some cool pinball stuff on eBay and Etsy. Those are good places to look for unusual items.

      And yes, tickets to concerts or other experiences are a great idea. I’m considering getting my BF Sirius XM radio for Christmas bc he drives all day for work.

      Oh, and I’ve gotten my BF a few silly tees from Busted Tees, which he has really liked. Even got compliments from strangers on one of them!

    5. Liz*

      Does he have a car, and is he a car geek? I got my sweetie car wash coupons(not as inexpensive as you might think), and things to maintain his car with. Got him a California duster, which he loves. I have done care packages of things he needs, but that can add up over time,such as shoe polish,his favorite toothpaste, and his favorite snack, which is cashews. He has also received grilling tools which light up in the dark. He grills a lot, and often eats late. Is he a reader? How about a subscription to a hobby magazine of some kind?

    6. Cari*

      The first thing I ever gave my ex as a random gift was a 50p the Isle of Man Mint had put into circulation for one of the TT race years (he was a biker). He said at the time it was the most thoughtful thing anyone had ever given him (which must have been true, because it was the only thing I’d given him that he left for me when I collected the remainder of my belongings last month, lol). Last Christmas I made up a little photobook for him of all the pictures I had of us from the last year (only paid postage thanks to HUKD, otherwise this option can be quite pricey – money was always tight), and he was similarly touched by that.

      For Christmases and birthdays, you could always go the scrap/photo book memories of you together route. I find them fun to put together, and the thought that goes into making them is as much a gift in itself imo – not to mention, you have something physical as a reminder of the good times when times get tough :)

    7. Ruffingit*

      Get him a hot stone massage or do something fun together like go to the waterpark and then have dinner afterwards – experiences together in other words. Gifts needn’t always be an object.

    8. acmx*

      I’ve given [for men, not nec a SO] gadgets (usually requested): hand scanner, binoculars, books, artwork, keyboard vacuum (stocking stuffer), gorillapod, work lights, personalized liquor (went to a distillery), storage things for cars, multiwood cutting board (the one I bought was striped, I’m sure there’s other patterns), electric shavers, random gift: photo of [object of interest] made by [his surname] – coming across this was pretty random.

      Athletic items: sports clothing (doesn’t need a tailored fit), good socks, heart monitor/activity tracker (FitBit, Misfit), golf gloves, no tie laces, compression socks/sleeves, fuel (eg Gu or Honey Stinger), tackle, anti-chafe for runners, bike cleaner, gear cleaner.

    9. Meghan*

      My biggest tip for gifts is to keep a document on your computer/phone of gift ideas where you immediately write down an idea whenever you think of it. Then when it comes time for holidays/birthdays, you have a list of ideas ready to go. And everyone wonders how I give such great gifts. ;)

      Books can be great gifts. A nice monogrammed leather catch-all to keep by the door for keys, wallet, etc. If he travels a lot, a nice toiletry kit or duffel bag. A framed map/photo/print for his office. Good luck!

  31. Stephanie*

    I’ve got the obligatory Open Thread Wedding Question ™ this week. I’m heading to one this upcoming holiday weekend.

    (1) Wedding’s in Indianapolis. Anything I should see, do, or eat while I’m there?

    (2) Booked the ticket using miles, so I have a pretty indirect itinerary there (PHX->LAX->IND). Moreover, I have a three-hour layover at LAX (at 7:30 am, so not exactly airport happy hour time either). I don’t think three hours is long enough to leave LAX (especially given LA’s transit), so any suggestions on ways to keep myself amused there? (Aside from reading material.) Anything of interest at the airport? Good places to get (second) breakfast?

    (3) Splitting the hotel room with a friend who’s covering my half. Hotel was pretty cheap, so I really don’t think it was a financial imposition, but I’d still like to do something as a thank-you. Ideas?

    1. BRR*

      For number three can you take your friend out for coffee, drinks, cheap meal while you’re there? What about making a donation to their favorite charity? Most do honor/memorial gifts and will send your friend a note saying you made a donation because xyz (you put in the reason). Or a hand written thank you note, not the best for job interviews but the time and effort shows for something like this.

    2. Artemesia*

      Indianpolis was always my idea of nowhere — used to drive through all the time and thought it was a real dump, but last time I was there for a few days, I was impressed at the efforts that have been made to make the city more attractive to visitors. The riverwalk is pleasant and a good place to hang and grab a bit in the evening after events.

      1. passive aggressive?*

        Growing up in Indiana, that was always my impression of the city. But in the last 10 years, they have really worked to make it more metropolitan, especially the downtown area. If you are a sports nut, it’s a great city. (Although they did tear down one of my favorite ice rinks in favor of the new Colts stadium…grrr)

    3. passive aggressive?*

      I’m from Indiana originally and visited Indy a lot. If you are staying downtown, check out Harry & Izzy’s (good lunch spot and the best shrimp cocktail ever) or if you have the budget, visit their sister restaurant St. Elmo’s. You won’t be disappointed. There is also some really cool museums in the downtown area. If you want to do some shopping, Circle Center Mall is a good choice (or at least it used to be a few years ago – it’s been about four years since I’ve visited so it could have changed some.) Shapiro’s Deli is another good option for food.

    4. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

      Indianapolis – I just got back from there! Didn’t see much but the convention center, but the food trucks were decent and the Ram was pretty good. It looks like there’s quite a big park downtown by the river and a selection of museums…

      LAX – to be honest I tend to eat hashbrowns for breakfast in airports because they’re fresh & hot (bad experience with something left sitting a little too long). Wifi is free if you watch a video. 3 hours is definitely not enough time to get anywhere and come back :/

      maybe a meal somewhere? a box of chocolates?

    5. fposte*

      Broad Ripple is a pretty little part of the city to walk and shop through (has an excellent little bakery tucked in what used to be a garage behind a house), and the Children’s Museum is fabulous.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      Indy is far cooler than you think it is. Really!

      There are a lot of fun restaurants. My very very favorite is Yat’s, which is a Cajun fast-casual restaurant with three or four locations (including one on Mass Ave, which is a restaurant row that extends out of downtown). I traveled to Indy for work at least twice a month for the last two years and I ate at Yat’s every time I was there. Yum. Eat some maque chou for me. Santorini Greek Kitchen in Fountain Square is also AMAZING.

  32. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    I am missing me some Jamie.

    Either she hasn’t been around the last couple of weeks, or we haven’t been around at the same time because I’ve been not-quite-as-present.

    This is all.

      1. Aam Admi*

        I was thinking the same – Haven’t seen her in the Fri or Weekend open thread and was wondering if she changed her pen name and avatar.

        1. Jamie*

          I’d never do that – I’m far too lazy, lack the creativity, and this is a community of real people for me so it would be creepy.

          This isn’t reddit. :)

    1. Stephanie*

      I think she said this is her busy time at work. I miss the Hello Kitty and insight as well.

    2. Jamie*

      I love you guys – and miss this little haven of sanity.

      Busy time at work turned into absolutely mired in crap and I haven’t been able to come up for air in a while.

      Hoping either things get back to normal soon, or someone drops a house on me to put me out of my misery!

      Seriously, you have NO idea how much I’d love to unload and get advice about a ton of crap right now, but not a secure enough anonymous name in the world to protect me if I did that – ha.

  33. Rebecca*

    I want to keep walking for exercise this winter, and am having a lot of trouble finding cold weather leggings that will fit me. I wear a 20W or 1X pant, but all the pretty women’s items max out at L or XL it seems, and the size charts indicate even if they are made in XXL, they wouldn’t fit due to the compression issue. I have fleece pants, Cuddlduds long underwear pants, heavy jeans, that type of thing, but they are cumbersome. I enjoy walking in the warm weather wearing shorts or capri pants, and remember how difficult shoveling was last winter all bundled up like Ralphie on A Christmas Story.

    I think I’m going to have to go with a men’s pant, in plain black with reflective details, just so I can get something that fits comfortably.

    I have socks, shoes, gloves, head gear, and some outerwear covered. I picked up a bright yellow Timberline fleece vest at Goodwill for $3.00! I have a bright yellow and black fleece lined parka, not heavy but warm, especially when you’re moving around. Plus, I have an orange with reflective stripes safety vest that our fire police wear (thanks Dad!). I have an LED light too, repurposed from a dog collar.

    I found a men’s jacket at Walmart, but haven’t purchased it yet – it’s a 1/4 zip pullover with hood, sort of a heavy knit, made in a variety of colors, and I was thinking of getting the bright green or orange version for visibility.

    I’m a little puzzled by lack of larger sizes in workout gear. I mean, I’d like to get pretty things to wear while walking, so I can get more fit, and maybe wear a smaller size, but I totally understand the demand for larger sizes is probably smaller and the fewer SKU’s offered is better for the vendor.

    If any of you have any suggestions, please feel free!

    1. BeBe*

      Believe it or not, I find a lot of workout clothes at Walmart. They are Danskin and now Avia. The sizing goes up to XXL which is about a generous size 18 and prices are more than reasonable. Target usually has to size XXL and is generous with sizing.
      Also check the typical places such as Marshall’s/TJ Maxx, but for the plus workout clothes look in with the regular clothes. They put them in with the other plus.
      I’ve also seen extended workout clothing sizes at Burlington Coat Factory and JCP, but it’s hit or miss.

      1. Rebecca*

        Thank you! I found a few things at my local Walmart. I live in a very rural area, and my options are Walmart, Kmart, or Goodwill/thrift stores, unless I want to travel to neighboring counties. The closest TJ Maxx is about 45 minutes away. I had really good luck on 6PM.com getting decent footwear (I need a ladies size 12 which is impossible to get here). I didn’t think about JCP, but I’ve ordered from them online back when they had the Cabin Creek product line, and had good results.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Walmart is good for that kind of stuff, but not if you’re tall. It’s really hard to find tall sizes ANYWHERE. Long Tall Sally has come to my rescue on leggings that are long enough (too long, actually!), but they’re expensive. I’m planning to visit their store in London.

    2. Anon*

      If you are talking about the size charts where they have body measurements and the corresponding clothing size, I wouldn’t worry about those. According to my body measurements and most brands’ sizing charts, I should be wearing a few sizes larger than I actually do. I think that clothing sizes have increased (“vanity sizing”) but most clothing companies are still using old size charts. If the chart says the pants would be too small, it’s still worth a try if the store has free returns.

      Also, I love Athleta brand and they have plus size options for many items. It’s a little pricey, but there are always tons of things in the clearance section.

    3. littlemoose*

      Old Navy should carry workout pants up to XXL, and I believe their website has a plus-size section too. The compression ones may not work, but I think they have yoga pants and capris that would be suitable for most exercise.

    4. Stephanie*

      Pricier and you’d have to order online, but Nordstrom has a line of plus-sized workout clothing called Z by Zella, I believe. I’d try Old Navy as well.

    5. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

      if you sew, Cake has a pattern that’s designed to be completely personalised to your measurements

    6. CTO*

      Try REI–their own brand has some nice basic fitness clothing up to 3x. A lot of their stuff is really outdoors-friendly (reflective, etc.). If you live near one of their stores, you can return online orders in-store.

  34. FD*

    I would love some advice about investing! I’ve usually just put money into my 401(k) in the past, but my current employer doesn’t match, and I’m not crazy about their investment options anyway.

    I’ve built up a decent reserve, and I want to start investing some of it (as well as keeping an emergency fund on hand, of course).

    1. Rebecca*

      Do you belong to a credit union? My credit union’s website has investment options. I don’t use them, as my employer does the match and they have a decent investment firm, but I’d definitely check that out if I changed jobs and found myself needing something to roll my retirement account into.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I use an adviser.
      But there are some basics to think about.

      Do you need life insurance? If you have anyone dependent on your income, the answer is yes.

      If you don’t need life insurance, the next question is what level of risk is right for you.
      I am middle aged. Because of that and other particulars I should only take on medium to low risk investments. “A bird in hand” and all that. Younger people with no major debt and no dependents are in the best spot to take on higher risk investments.
      The best thing is to have a diversity. Don’t put all your eggs in one type of basket.

      Do you have any particular interests? Some investors like to use their dollars to support certain types of companies. Maybe you are a big advocate of solar power. If this is a huge thing for you, then you might want to make sure you throw a few investment dollars that way.

      Just a starting point for thinking about this.

      1. FD*

        I’m 26.

        No kids, unlikely to have them. Also very, very lucky to have no debts.

        I carry a small term life insurance policy to cover burial costs, unpaid medical costs, and to help cover my share of the rent if I die.

        I am a fairly conservative person, so I’m willing to take on moderate to moderately high risks, but not so high that I”m willing to invest in a single company; funds that have multiple areas are more my thing. I’ve read good things about mutual funds and index funds, but I’m not really sure where to start investing in them.

    3. Artemesia*

      Evidence seems to be that almost no one beats the market regularly so that investing in a good index fun is for the long run the most likely to pay off and lowers risk as well.

    4. fposte*

      Go simple and cheap–as Artemesia says, indexing is the best bet overall. General rule of thumb on priorities is: employee DC to the match, then IRA, then DC to the max, then taxable (or other plans like 529s, etc.). So max out the IRA and then, if you can afford more, reconsider the 401k vs. taxable. When you say 401k options aren’t very good, can you be more specific? Do you have any expense ratios below .5?

      I love the Bogleheads website and forum, and would point you to the Three Fund Portfolio page on their wiki for a simple indexed portfolio:


    5. Meghan*

      I really love the blog, I Will Teach You To Be Rich. The name is terrible, but he gives great financial advice (mostly in the archives, he’s moved onto other topics now). He (Ramit Sethi) also has a book (same name) that is truly wonderful. Reasonable, smart, tons of great advice.

  35. Christy*

    Does anyone eat lower-carb, but not quite paleo? I’d love some low-carb recipe suggestions, as I was definitely raised on a carb-based diet!

    1. Rebecca*

      If I make a burger of some sort, I wrap it in large lettuce leaves. If I eat a potato, I roast sweet potato chunks, but that’s very seldom. I eat very little pasta. I’m waiting now for spaghetti squash to be in season here, and my intent is to cook a bunch and freeze into portions to eat with sauce and hot sausage later this fall :) I can’t go completely low carb, as I found my blood sugar gets too low, especially if I walk for a long distance, so I try to concentrate on eating good, whole foods like fresh fruits, veggies, lean meat, that type of thing, rather than processed foods.

      1. Pepper Pot*

        I found that brown rice/quinoa worked well for me to still get a carb satisfaction but feel good about the fiber, etc. I’ll cook a big pot of rice now and then (not instant) and freeze it in flat gallon bags. Then I can just break off a chunk anytime to go with a stir fry or make some quick fried rice with eggs and whatever leftover meat and veggies I have.

        I’ve also discovered I really like baked orange roughy with pan-seared polenta. You can make that from scratch, but my grocery store sells it as “cornmeal mush” in cookie dough-type rolls. Just slice off a few pieces and crisp up in a little olive oil in a skillet while the fish bakes and some veggies steam. I have a commute and a 1 year-old so these work great for fast weeknight basics, and then I try to play with recipes more on the weekends. Oh – and wedge-sliced corn tortillas misted with olive oil and baked at around 400 for 8-9 minutes or so and then hit with some salt are super good and swap out for flour tortillas for fajitas nachos or anything similar.

          1. fposte*

            I’ve done a lot of frozen rice–I freeze it into shapes with rice molds, usually, and put it in a bento-type lunch. It microwave reheats just fine.

          2. Anonymous*

            Rice freezes beautifully (Steel Magnolias), and I either microwave it or just toss it in the skillet. When I’ve frozen it flat in the bag it thaws very quickly, but honestly I usually don’t wait for that.

        1. Trixie*

          I just tried Israeli couscous for the first time, and its so much heartier than regular. Great with veggies, or added it to salads. I also usually keep Walmart’s Great Value whole grain pasta on hand which at a $1/box is a bargain for lunches.

    2. Lamb*

      I second spaghetti squash with tomatoes sauce and grated cheese, meatballs if you like them. Try not to overbake it for texture reasons.
      Other than that, do you like tuna melts and other open face-type sandwiches? Half the bread and since you’re using a knife and fork you can really pile on the fillings.
      Also if you like stuffed peppers you can use less rice and more of everything else (veggies, meat, lentils/beans).

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I eat low carb, but also eat full-fat dairy, so I’m not quite Paleo. :)

      I LOVE Aidell’s sausages (and similar). I cut them up and sauté them with kale, bell peppers, tomatoes, whatever other veggies I have around, and sofrito or recaito, and it’s super healthy and delicious.

      Another staple is pan-fried salmon filet with a steamed vegetable (super love those bags that you just pop in the microwave to steam!)

      Finally, coconut milk and curry paste (Indian and Thai). Great addition to any kind of stir-fry or soup.

      1. Trixie*

        Costco usually has a great price on Aidell’s chicken sausages, although recently I’ve been going with their turkey burgers for slightly lower sodium.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I try to. High glycemic index foods make my blood sugar all wonky and give me headaches and fatigue. If you’re going to try whole-wheat pasta, trick is not to pair it with a tomato sauce (the flavors tend to compete too much). I find whole-wheat pasta works really well with simpler olive oil-based sauces or greens.

    5. Anonyby*

      I don’t eat low-carb, but my lunch today might just work for you!

      I’m having a taco salad–salad greens (I bought pre-washed at the store), beans (I prefer refried myself, and homemade low-fat are really healthy), optional taco filling of choice (I did without today), and some cheese and salsa to top it off.

      I have a hard time finding healthy foods that are also filling, and this works great!

    6. Meghan*

      Zucchini noodles are another good alternative (like spaghetti squash) to pasta. For a lunch idea: canned salmon mixed with mashed avocado! So delicious, I eat it as a “dip” of sorts with baby carrots.

  36. MR*

    I’m in a career funk.

    I’m in a marriage funk.

    I’m living in a place where I don’t have any friends.

    I keep thinking that maybe an improvement in any one of these three areas will help me feel better, but I just don’t know. Any ideas?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The only thing I know for stuff like this is to change one thing you are doing. This can be anything you wish. It can be a simple change or a complex change. Look over your routine and say to yourself “what is one thing here that I could add/subtract/change?” See where that change puts you. Then repeat the process. Change thing #2. See where that puts you.

      Do not make the change hard/not reachable/expensive. Pick something doable and affordable. Remember it CAN be anything.

      1. MR*

        That’s what I’ve been thinking. The problem with the career thing is that I can’t even find anything I’m interested in doing. The marriage thing is a deep hole I don’t really feel like going into, and I’ve lived where I’m living for two years and haven’t found anything interesting to do here. Sigh.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Focus on the can-do’s. Finding that first “can-do” is VERRRY hard. Okay, it’s down right painful. The second one will not take as long nor be as hard.

          Run every morning? Walk instead. HATE the idea of walking in the morning? How about reading something uplifting each morning for five minutes. Maybe this works into reading the comics. It’s amazing what people can come up with.

          Okay so these ideas don’t work. Keep moving to new ideas. Teach the dog to play catch. (Mine still won’t give the toy back. It’s been five years now.) No dog? Okay. Maybe it’s time for a new hair cut.

          What is important here is to keep moving to the next idea. The instant you realize “okay, bad idea” drop it like a hot potato and look at something else. Don’t allow what you can’t/won’t do to take up residence in your head. It took MONTHS for me to pick something. And it involved a lot of crying because I had to keep forcing my thinking back on track.

      2. Felicia*

        +1 to that. I was not too long ago feeling disatisfied about pretty much all aspects of my life. And it was really doinig something (anything!) that could lead to the changes I wanted that made me feel better, even if it didn’t bring great results. Like I would go to one local NaNoWriMo event, or i would volunteer at one event I really liked, or i would finally register for that Mandarin class I always wanted to take. Just anything that would be a proactive way to take control of my life. i’m still not entirely satisfied, but i’ve tried so many new things in the past year that have made me so much happier. Not necessarily because they worked out well, but because i was doing something.

        1. Emily*

          Yes, this kind of thing helps me feel better. I tend to be slow at making friends, and was living somewhere new last year. I didn’t know many people (apart from my S.O. and his friends, who were great but not quite my friends yet) and didn’t have a job. I ended up happy – I eventually found employment at what turned out to be a pretty decent workplace and joined an ultimate frisbee team that I liked A LOT – but what helped me in the in-between period was doing small things (taking myself to the climbing gym! going to a NaNoWriMo meetup!) that didn’t result in lasting connections but at least made me feel like I occasionally had My Own Things to do.

        2. Anonsie*

          What frustrating for me is that I have done all the things you’re supposed to do to get stuff on track. I tried a buttload of new things in the first year I was here, and then a marginal amount the second year. I volunteered and joined groups and took lessons and blah blah blah and I every casual friend I made in that time stayed casual and then moved away. And all the things I really want to learn how to do, that I’ve always wished I had time for, I just don’t have the time and energy to get on outside of working on my career. And then because of that I’m getting burned out on my career and wondering if it’s really the right thing, but then nothing else appeals to me, and then I feel trapped.

    2. Artemesia*

      A strategy for making friends may energize and give you some paths for renewing the marriage. Retirement to a new city where we know no one and the efforts to make friends have meant that we do a lot more couples outings than we used to and has been good for our marriage. WE solved the career funk by retiring, so can’t help you there.

        1. Artemesia*

          Retirement is beside the point. If you don’t have friends in a place then that is a cue to systematically acquire some. Depending on distant friends from another city to meet social needs is not likely to work well even if they are people you would be otherwise close to. A couple of introverts in a new city went over a course of two years (6 months of which were spent traveling outside the city) to acquire several friends we can count on to do things with — some individually and some as a couple. It is not hard to do but it requires recognizing that that is the goal and then doing things that make it possible to meet new people and the following up with those who seem interesting. Meetup can be a useful tool since it is generally full of other people interested in meeting new people.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Really great point, Artemesia. When couples only have each other or even if one of the pair is not socially connected to others then that can drain a relationship. Quality time away from the spouse/partner is almost as important as quality time with that person.

    3. QualityControlFreak*

      I think we all go through cycles. I’m much older than you and I have observed this in my own life as well as the lives of those close to me. It sounds like you’re at a low point in some key areas (career, marriage, friends). It sucks when you’re slogging through it. And when it comes to relationships to others (marriage, friendships), you’re dealing with other people and their cycles, so things can get really complicated, with a lot of variables not within your control.

      One thing I can suggest is using this time to do some self-reflection. After all, the only thing you really have control of is your own behavior; the choices you make. So you want to make sure those choices work for you. Do some strategic planning (big picture) – start with the desired end result and work backward to where you are now to see the steps you need to take to get there. But it’s really helpful to have an idea of what it means, to you, to be successful. So take some time to figure that part out first. I’m not talking a detailed plan, just “this is what I need to be happy.” (Okay, for me it’s a bulleted list, but that’s how my mind works.)

      Good luck!

    4. krisl*

      How about taking a vacation? Sometimes just getting away from work for a while (maybe even spending a few nights at a hotel) can really give you perspective.

  37. E*

    Any book recs on being positive and proactive vs. negative and paralyzed in negative thinking? Something thay could apply in the work context or personal context.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I like stories because it makes it real for me. I learn best with stories. I became a Chicken Soup book addict. Brain candy, really. I think I have a dozen on my shelf. What I liked about it was that I did not feel like I was being lectured. There was no long lists of what to do. I could just sit and read about someone over coming a problem or seeing something in a different/refreshing light.

    2. nep*

      This is a book about writing, primarily, but brilliantly captures the beauty in our humanness, warts and all. It was one that I used to go to often for a shift in perspective and to shake myself out of defeatist thinking. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

    3. skyline*

      This may be more weighty than what you’re looking for, but Mind over Mood is one of the classic cognitive behavioral therapy texts.

  38. rkflower*

    I stopped going on Facebook recently because I think I might have had some addiction to it. I’d check it several times thoroughout the day and found myself automatically checking it as soon as I’d unlock my phone. Since stopping I’ve gotten several emails throughout the day telling me there were updates I hadn’t seen or new photos my friends uploaded. I hope I don’t come home one day to find that Facebook has boiled my kid’s pet rabbit on the stove…”I’m not going to be ignored Dan…”

    1. B*

      I was checking fb 100+ a day so i deleted it. Sooooo hard and i do miss out on some stuff but it’s ok!

    2. Anonymous*

      Ha. Brilliant reference.
      I’ve never been on FB. (Not putting that out there as good or bad — just stating a fact.) Most of my relatives and friends are, of course. I can certainly see how it can be addicting. It reinforces my general sense of calm and contentment knowing I’m not afflicted by what appears to be an unrelenting pull.

    3. nep*

      Ha. Brilliant reference.
      I’ve never been on FB. (Not putting that out there as good or bad — just stating a fact.) Most of my relatives and friends are, of course. I can certainly see how it can be addicting. It reinforces my general sense of calm and contentment knowing I’m not afflicted by what appears to be an unrelenting pull.

      1. nep*

        I should note — I don’t want to imply that anyone and everyone who uses FB is ‘addicted’. Know of many people who use it for work/networking, for whom it’s not an obsession but a quite useful tool.

    4. Lamb*

      You should be able to adjust your notification settings (don’t remember how I did it way back when, but there is a way) or, if you’re adamant about not going back on FB at all, set up a folder in your email box for all FB emails to be directed straight in to before you see them.

    5. Cari*

      Facebook is so creepy with its e-mails! My old e-mail account is attached to a completely unrelated Facebook account now but was associated with my real FB account years ago, and I’ve been getting e-mails recommending ex-FB friends that I had *blocked* while the e-mail address was still associated, pretty much ever since.

    6. passive aggressive?*

      This is so me! I’m trying to decide if I want to keep mine or not. I reactivated mine after years of dormancy. I removed the app from my phone a few weeks ago and it helped so much. Now I rarely log on and FB sent me three messages yesterday! I also hate the new messaging app you are required to download if you want to receive FB messages, which is yet another reason to close my account.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I refuse to do the messaging. I just read it on my phone like it’s a website, no app. Also I don’t mess with it until I get home at night, so I can do it on the PC.

        I’d ditch it, but there are too many people I need it to keep in touch with. Friends that are too far away and groups.

      2. CC*

        You can get fb messages through the website. If you removed it from your phone and are only checking it on your computer, then that’s fine. If my friends have to wait hours or days to get a reply from me via that system, well, that’s because I’m not always on fb.

        It can be useful. Now that I have an ad blocker running, ignored most of the games, and set the “share button abusers” to my acquaintances list so I don’t get flooded with their glurge, I can see what my friend in another country is up to, photos of my mom’s latest project, plans for meeting with a group of friends, stuff like that. You know, social connections with friends. What social media is supposedly about.

    7. salad fingers*

      If you ever start it back up but want to limit your use, maybe consider downloading a chrome plug-in called Self Control. It allows you to block your own access to specific sites for whatever increment of time you like (10 minutes – 4 months).

    8. krisl*

      I only look at FB during non-work time, which helps, because it cuts down when I can look at it. Also,, I don’t have a smart phone yet, so I would have to check my e-mail to find updates.

      I tend to read FB once a day except when I’m bored at home, when I use more.

  39. Mimmy*

    Another question: I’m going to the Adirondacks in upstate New York for a wedding in a couple of weeks–anyone familiar with that area? I’m just curious if the weather is any different than it is here in New Jersey; I know what I want to wear, but I’ll have to come up with an alternate idea if it turns out to be much colder (I tend to get cold easily).

    Really looking forward to this trip. After the wedding, we’re driving up to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. I just hope I’ll have decent online access because I will have started my online class by then.

    1. Rebecca*

      Plan for both cold and warm weather. If you tend to get colder, make sure to take a fleece jacket, socks, shoes, and a sweater, along with normal summer clothes. Our family had reunions in Seneca Falls for years, and I was surprised at how cold it could be there, even in the middle of summer.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Last week it was 39 degrees up here one morning. And I am technically not in the Adirondacks. I like to use WeatherBug. Put in your location that you are going to and check the temps for the days you will be in the area. That will get you in the ball park at any rate. It is almost noon now and it is 67 degrees. yes, 67. So up in the AP it is probably 50 degrees or so.

      Wear layered outfits. As the day goes on, shed, then when it cools down, add the layers back on.
      Bring 2 sets of jammies. One for cold nights and one for warm nights. Who knows what you will actually get. If your feet get cold fast, bring a couple things that work well for you.

      Most people from Jersey would say it is definitely cooler up here. That and “wow, the roads are really narrow!” hahaa.
      You’ll probably have wifi at your hotel. If not, go to the nearest library. It does not matter if the library is not open, you should get access anyway. Don’t count on wifi or cell when traveling in the Adirondack Park. Have plan B ready.

    3. OfficePrincess*

      I’m from that general region but moved to Eastern PA a few years ago. Plan on it being cooler than NJ by anywhere from 5-20 degrees. Fall is a bit of a wildcard up there (and yes, once you hit September, the odds of still being able to call it summer are toast) but definitely plan on cool nights. Layers are your friend – it’s pretty common to go from heat to ac and back to heat at that time of year.

      Also, a lot of hotels have at least some type of Internet access up there (but don’t count on wifi, bring a cord if you have one). Cell service has historically been spotty at best, but it’s getting better. The major tourist areas are ok, but outside of that is hit or miss.

  40. Loose Seal*

    This may be a work-related question but since I’m looking for food answers, I thought it might be ok on today’s thread.

    My husband has to teach all day on Mondays this semester and teach the night class. So he will be at work from 8:00 am to 8:30-ish pm on that day. On regular days, he usually takes a light lunch and some snacks to get him through the day but obviously, he’s going to have to take a more substantial array of vittles for this very long day. He has a refrigerator in his office but no access to a microwave. We have been trying to decide what he should take with him to eat that would have some variety, be healthy, and keep him reasonably full. Tomorrow, he’s going to take a cold quinoa salad for lunch with some fruit and almond butter for snacks but we cannot figure out what to send with him for dinner. Does anyone have any ideas for food that will keep all day in the fridge but still be tasty around 4:30 in the afternoon? Complicating matters slightly, he eats vegan and gluten-free (but I can usually adapt a recipe).

    1. Sandy*

      Do you know (of) the Jerusalem cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi?

      There are three recipes I can think of just off the top of my head that would fit the bill: a sweet potato and fresh fig salad with balsamic, a squash and lentil dish that is a go-to in our house (just skip the optional goat cheese) and the mujaddara- a Palestinian staple with rice, lentils and crispy fried onions.

      There are almost certainly more, but those are the three I can think of without even checking…

    2. danr*

      Large salads built around main meal leftovers and a sweeter balsamic vinegar as the dressing. I took that kind of salad everyday for lunch for years. I used the balsamic vinegars with 4-5 grams of sugars. They’re more expensive, but worth it. The salad is best warm, so it should be taken out of the refrigerator an hour or so before eating. I used tupperware bowls that have a compression top, so I could squash all of the stuff together and let the flavors blend.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Tabbouleh, hummus and veggies/pita/whatever, guacamole and chips, those heat-and-eat Kitchens of India pouch-meals (I’ve eaten them without heating and find them delicious), and hard-boiled eggs would be my main suggestions!

      1. Loose Seal*

        Thanks! I had forgotten about hummus. He can buy some of that each week and put it in his fridge with carrots and celery and snack on it all week.

    4. Meghan*

      One of my favorite bloggers just listed 16 of her recipes that pack well for lunch (or dinner!). They’re all vegetarian (can easily be made vegan) and most are gluten-free. (I altered the link so hopefully it will make it through moderation.)

      http://cookieandkate [dot] com/2014/16-recipes-that-pack-well-for-lunch/

  41. De Minimis*

    Does he like things like Tofurky? I’m not vegan but my wife is and I tend to just eat a lot of the same stuff…I have Tofurky sandwiches a lot at work.

    1. Loose Seal*

      We’ve not tried the fake meats. Generally speaking, they have wheat in them and I can’t eat it. But I can look more closely at the ingredients of Tofurky specifically. If it’s gluten-free, we could do lettuce wraps with it.

  42. Not So NewReader*

    You guys probably know I am not much of a computer guru.
    I would like to move XP up to Win7 on my laptop. What is the easiest/cheapest/best way to do this?
    (Okay, two out of the three?)
    It appears to have MS Office Standard. I think I am saying that right.

    (Yes, am just getting around to this.)

    1. danr*

      One option is to have a computer shop do it, but you need to really know that they know what they’re doing. If you do it yourself, MS has some guidelines. Search Google for ‘xp to windows 7’ for the links. I did a desktop upgrade and found that the level of win7 to use was win7 professional. You’ll also want to install the 32 bit level, even if your cpu chip is 64 bit. So, gather your install disks and downloaded installs, de-register the programs that limit installs, back up your data since the installation wipes it out anyway. And go for it. Figure on spending at least 2 to 3 days getting everything back together. If you hit a snag, remember the advice from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy…. DON’T PANIC.
      Good luck.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Do you know that your laptop can handle Windows 7? How old is it? What kind of processor does it have and how much RAM?

      Chances are that if you have to buy a RAM upgrade (and RAM for older laptops is much more expensive than RAM for newer laptops) and a Windows 7 license… and given how few years of life your laptop may have, the easiest/cheapest/best way may be to get a new laptop.

      Dell, for example, has Windows 8 laptops in clearance for US$249:

      1. Stephanie*

        I’d avoid Windows 8. (I have it now.) I don’t have any real complaints, but if you’re not getting a touchscreen device the GUI’s really weird without touch. It’s designed with touch in mind, so it just feels really awkward without a touch-enabled device.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I’d like to avoid 8 if possible. Not slamming Win8- I read with interest the comments awhile ago about getting used to new things. It’s in keeping with my nature to kind of stay back from the newest stuff until the bugs are ironed out- just an overall approach that I have. I am not that early adapter personality.

          1. Rebecca*

            I hate it with the passion of 1000 blazing suns. I upgraded my laptop to 8.1 the minute I could so I could boot to desktop. Windows 8 would be perfect for a tablet device, but for a laptop that I use for both work and fun, it bites.

      2. Cari*

        For some idea on what things can run Win 7: I have Win 7 Professional running on a 6 year old 32-bit Linux eeePC with 1GB of RAM, 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor and a 160GB HDD*. It can get a bit slow if I try to do too much at once (I have the see-through effects active, which probably doesn’t help) but it definitely runs :D

        * I only just discovered there was 50GB left unallocated when I installed it originally, it’s actually been running with 100GB of space (50GB free) with no complaints. I don’t think that’s with all the Win7 updates though, as everytime I complete one update it tells me
        there are more!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It says 1200MHz after the word processor. Then it says 790MHz on the same line it mentions the ram. So am guessing that is the ram? But I have 71.4 GB of free space.

          1. Cari*

            1.2GHz for processor then, and I guess the other is the speed of you RAM (relevant for if you need to replace or upgrade the RAM). Does it have a GB value for RAM too, and does it say what type of processor?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Thanks danr and AE for answering.

      Oh boy. This might be out of my league. I did my boss’ laptop at work, but I basically let a guru into the computer and I followed along as needed. It was over two hours. I guess that is good?

      No clue if the laptop will handle 7 or not. The computer was given to me because my last one died suddenly, so I have no idea how old it is. Looks like Pentium with 1.11GB.
      In it’s day it was nice. But technology changes so fast.

      See, I lost sound and sometimes videos do not play. I blamed XP. So I thought that maybe if I could find a cheap way to get Win7 on here that might fix everything.

      1. Cari*

        If you can afford it, you might be better off getting a new laptop that has Win7 already on it, like Anonymous Educator suggested. Even if Win7 solves some of the problems you’re experiencing, the laptop’s components will start to go with age anyway, and some can be a PITA to replace! My first ever laptop was still going strong after 5 years of heavy duty use, an fl-inverter replacement for the screen and 2 new power packs (though neither of those might have been needed) and the thing that killed it was the power adapter port (common problem with that brand at the time – the pin inside came loose, then came off completely and while I found someone willing to take on the replacement job, the fix was short-lived).

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Yeah, I actually wasn’t recommending Windows 8. My point was really about the price of upgrading versus buying. You can get a Windows 8 laptop for super cheap.

          There are definitely also affordable Windows 7 laptops as well.

          At this point, I would definitely recommend getting a new laptop as opposed to upgrading.

  43. The Other Dawn*

    Well my kitty had to go to the emergency vet this morning. We just moved into the new house about a month ago. Nice welcome to the town! We have a few cats that go outside, the rest stay in. the one who likes to be outside nearly 24/7 came in this morning. I looked at his tail and it looked as though he had diarrhea and got his tail in it. I looked closer and realized 1/3 of the fur on his tail was missing. Something skinned the top of his tail down to the bone! So we brought him to the emergency vet and they are going to amputate the part that was “de-gloved.” Poor kitty. He’s fine otherwise. He wanted to eat and go back out this morning even though he was in pain.

    I realize many people are against letting their cats out and that’s your decision. And for me to let a few of my cats out is my decision. These few were outdoor cats before I got them.

    1. KCS*

      Poor kitty! I can’t imagine how excruciating it must have been when he suffered the injury to his tail. My cat yowls when I just nick her tail with the edge of my footstep. I hope your cat’s tail continues to heal well.

    2. V. Meadowsweet (formerly samaD)*

      poor kitty :/ hoping he recovers quickly!
      some cats just will not be indoor cats and that’s the way it is. good for you for allowing them the choice!

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, all! I haven’t heard back yet, but surgery is today and he’ll be home tonight.

      Yes, he was in pain, but he was still acting normal. The only thing that seemed to bother him was getting situated in the litter box. Took him several tries. I felt terrible having to put him in a small carrier. I’m sure his tail was touching the sides.

      I have many cats and all are indoors except four. These were cats I found as strays or got from someone else when they were an adult, so I didn’t feel right suddenly saying they have to stay indoors.

    4. Jill of All Trades*

      We had an in-out cat when I was younger and she somehow broke her tail about 2 inches from the base. The vet splinted it and told us to keep it that way; my brother and I took this to heart and threw all possible engineering prowess into maintaining this splint.

      To absolutely no avail. Later on the vet theorized that a nerve ending was caught between the two ends. It bothered her, and she took care of it the way cats will…she was quite pleased with herself that early Sunday morning when she bounded up the stairs post self-surgery. She had many good years after that but never really remembered ahead to compensate for the lack of counterbalance the stump provided; she gave a very dirty look to whatever object she’d missed while jumping, as though the object had moved at the last moment. Cats are pretty amazing (coming from a non-cat person) and he’ll be fine (if a bit clumsy for a while).

    5. The Other Dawn*

      UGH! I made the mistake of telling someone at work about the kitty and she immediately started pleading with me not to let him out. I shut that down right away! I don’t engage in certain discussions and that’s one of them.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I’d love it if all of our cats were indoor cats, but one is a pee-cat, so outside is his only option.

        A couple of years ago he came home with badly scuffed pads and claws worn down past the quick on three of his four feet. We have no idea, and the vet thought maybe he’d been trapped somewhere and injured himself getting out.

        I hope your cat recovers well. He’s lost a part of his balance and a communication device, but I bet he’ll adjust.

  44. CollegeAdmin*

    Alarm clock recommendations (other than using my phone)? My current one still works, but I constantly worry it’s going to stop sometime soon. It’s old enough that it has a cassette player in it.

    Features I’m looking for:
    1. Battery-operated/battery backup, in case the power goes out.
    2. Not very bright, or the option to make it darker/brighter.
    3. Small(er) and nice-looking. The cassette alarm clock is the size of a hardcover book and takes up too much space.
    4. Nice but not required: the kind of alarm that starts a little quieter and gets louder as it goes off, instead of ear-splitting from the start.
    5. Nice but not required: ability to play the radio and/or from an mp3 player.

    1. Elkay*

      I’ve got a Pure Siesta digital radio alarm clock and I love it. Only downside of it is that it was just small enough for kittens to sit on and press the button that made it brighter than the sun with their butts in the middle of the night. If you don’t run the risk of a kitten sitting on it I’d say go for it.

    2. Anon*

      This doesn’t meet all your requirements but I swear by the Philips HF3470/01 Wake Up Light Alarm Clock Light Box. I have the radio and light set to gradually get louder/brighter to walke me up (I struggle in the mornings, but this solved my issues) and I can adjust the light/volume. It’s bigger than you describe and I don’t think it takes batteries but maybe they have another model?

      1. littlemoose*

        I have a similar Philips light clock and I love it. Has made mornings slightly easier for this heavy sleeper.

    3. Windchime*

      I hope you get some responses on this. I’ve been looking for something similar and it isn’t easy to find! Currently, I’m using my phone but I would like to be able to quietly play the radio (talk show or something) until I fall asleep and then have it shut off. I haven’t seen that but I’m sure someone must make one.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        My cassette one does that – it’s called the sleep function. It will play for an hour before turning itself off. Maybe try including that in an Amazon search?

        1. Windchime*

          Ha, thanks! The last time I actually had a clock radio was about 15 years ago, so this is good to know. :)

  45. littlemoose*

    Apropos of nothing, I just wanted to recommend a product for anyone with rosacea. Clinique’s redness reducing cream has done more for my rosacea than the prescription cream from the dermatologist. It comes in a squat green pot. A little pricey, but very effective in my experience.

      1. littlemoose*

        I get it at Sephora. I imagine the Clinique counters at department stores will have it too (plus watch for bonus time!).

      1. littlemoose*

        Yes, but using the cream will tame it again. I’m not always as consistent as I should be in applying it, and I still get some benefit when I do.

    1. Dang*

      Someone on here recommended this awhile ago and I agree! I was using mirvaso for awhile but it made my skin weird. The Clinique one works so much better.

  46. azvlr*

    Posting here after a scary month. I hope my experience can help someone else avoid the ordeal we have been through: My fiance almost died in the hospital because of issues with the continuity of his care. As a result, I’ve been afraid to leave his bedside. And when I do, my fears are often justified.

    I recognize that the doctors and nurses caring for him are very competent at what they do. There is a lot of information in my fiance’s chart and it doesn’t always get passed accurately from one shift to the next. I even witnessed the off-going nurse tell the other that his paralysis was due to a lifeguard accident. Um, no it was a car accident 25 years ago…

    In late July, he was admitted to hospital ICU. He was alert and able to talk, but after the first few days they had to put him on a ventilator (for those of you who have never had to experience this life-saving horror, they shove a tube down your throat to pump air directly into your lungs). He greatly improved and after a few days, they removed the ventilator tube and he was breathing on his own again. They moved him out of ICU, but (thankfully) were monitoring him closely. We thought he was hunky-dory, so we went home for the night.

    Overnight, he had a respiratory crash and in his distressed state, he told them didn’t want them to intubate him again. They took his word for it and were “respecting his wishes”. I got a call that they were “keeping him comfortable”. I rushed to hospital, ordered them to put them in the vent tube while wrestling with my conscience over it. NOTE: No where in his record was any kind of statement with DNR. When he was first admitted, his words to the doctor were, “Keep me plugged in. No matter what.”

    When he came to and we explained what happened, he teared up and was so scared. “NO dying!” he mouthed. Because he can’t talk now, he can’t advocate for himself, and we have been afraid to leave his bedside. He has been from ICU to hospital to ICU to hospital to skilled nursing facility to another ward at the SNF back to the hospital. Every time there has been a change of setting, there have been major issues with his care. It has taken extensive conversations at every step to make sure his needs are met and that he is getting adequate care.

    I realize it sounds like micromanaging to do this, but every time I back off from that, I have regretted it. Again, the people caring for him are very skilled, but can’t possibly wrap their heads around his needs in the time it takes to do turn over.

    I hope that none of you ever have to go through this, but if you do, please stay diligent with the care of your loved ones. Make sure you know what their wishes are ahead of time (everyone has their breaking point, and I would have been cool with it if those were his wishes. Sad, but cool.)

    1. danr*

      Write up an advanced directive NOW. You can get samples for your state online. Take his to the hospital and read it to him with a witness listening. He’ll sign or initial it, and the witness will sign and maybe one more. They don’t need to be notarized. One copy goes to the nursing station and you always keep a copy with you. And a pdf copy on each phone. Do one for yourself too.
      Also, look for a patient advocate at the hospital. Most hospitals have them. Get an appointment and explain the problems.
      I know it’s hard, but write everything down as a log. First, care will improve as the medical folks see you writing. Second, you’ll have a complete record of what has happened when another change takes place.

      1. azvlr*

        danr, even with an advanced directive in place things are getting missed. And sadly, the patient advocate was advocating based on her one interaction with the situation – that he didn’t want a tube down his throat. She doesn’t know him from a hill of beans, yet felt she was in the best position to advocate what he truly wants. She was, to put it kindly, very depressing to talk to.

        When I first ordered the vent tube, I knew in my heart I was doing the right thing. He tells people daily, “She saved my life!” My point is that not wanting a tube shoved down your throat is a lot different than wanting to die.

        We are documenting what we can, but we are not around every second to catch everything. Lots and lots of “errors” with medication . I was told we were not allowed to see the records until he is discharged, which I know is BS. Now to get to the records office during working hours…

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I’m hearing you. I have several books on advocacy and surviving a hospital stay. Not helpful right now, I understand. But I think that it’s good to let people know there are materials out there to learn how to be an effective advocate for a loved one.

          My books are old and I pick them up, read a bit, then put them down for a while. It is depressing, but knowledge is power. I get discouraged when people feel, “Oh that won’t happen to me”. While it’s true that you personally may not get sick, someone you love could get sick. If you are not familiar with long hospital stays and long illnesses it can be quite a shock to see what goes on.

        2. danr*

          Yeah, but at least with the advanced directive in place you can point to it… we had a scare with my mother when the hospital mis-read the advance directive. So we rewrote it to be utterly clear… we hope.
          Too bad on the patient advocate.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Oh dear! I am so sorry for what you both are going through. Yep, everyone in the hospital should definitely have an advocate who pays close attention. Wise. Very wise.

    3. azvlr*

      Thanks for the well wishes. He is doing well right now and is super-motivated to get home ASAP!

      1. danr*

        Good news… maybe his request next time (if there is one) is to say “I want to be comfortable when getting the breathing assistance”. I know it’s a mouthful, but it conveys the right meaning to the hospital folks. That’s probably what he meant by ‘no breathing tubes’.

    4. Mimmy*

      That is why the healthcare system scares me sometimes, and even other large systems. There is such a jumble of information that passes through so many hands, eyes and ears. Good for you for staying on top of everything. It is not micromanaging–you are doing exactly what is needed to ensure your fiancé’s care is handled properly. danr is absolutely right about getting an advanced directive and working with a patient advocate. Wishing all the best for your fiancé. Remember to take care of yourself too.

  47. Elizabeth West*

    That is the cutest kitteh picture yet!

    After I do some decluttering, I would really like to hire someone to come in and really clean once a month or maybe every two weeks, I don’t know. I just can’t seem to get it done very well and I get tired and busy (I should be working right now and I will be–as soon as I post this, I’m going off AAM and chat and will spend a few hours on Secret Book). I wish I could have someone do the cleaning once a week, but that’s out of my budget. I get so sick of spending all this time on weekends doing mundane chores when I NEED TO BE WORKING. Even the though of the decluttering makes me want to cry. Maybe a small tornado would be a better solution!

    Any ideas on how to find someone good? I’ve never hired a cleaner before –the only people I have working for me like that is the guy who does my yard, but he’s a friend I met at Exjob (he works for FedEx and used to do the pickup there). I’m hesitant to do anything like Merry Maids after reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Nickled and Dimed. They don’t pay the people squat.

    Speaking of weather, this really cool shower happened this week, right before the heat hit. I taped it.
    WARNING: turn your volume down before watching–the rain on the awning was super loud!


    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      You could check out the subreddit for whatever city you live in! Otherwise, you could post in Craigslist to hire someone direct (so they get all your money, rather than some going to a corporate entity).

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Ask around with the people you know. I see some private individuals around here just have two or three homes that they do (as opposed to a bigger business). You might have a friend who knows/hires such a person. A lot of times these private individuals do not advertise and they only take on new clients by word of mouth. (In other words, you would never find this person without talking to other people. The other people kind of let the individual know that you are an okay/safe person.)

    3. Mimmy*

      That video is so cool!! You said in the description that it looks like glitter–it really does, especially when you pan to your right.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know, right? I’ve only seen that one other time–in the snow. It looked like silver or diamond glitter that time, and this time it looked sort of golden. I’m really glad I was home when that happened. I wouldn’t have been able to video it at work.

  48. Mints*

    I’m late again! Even though I tried posting early(ish) Sunday.

    Anyway, I’m looking for book recommendations featuring happy realistic couples/marriages. I read the Time Traveler’s Wife recently and overall really enjoyed it. It made me realize I read so few books with long term couples. I also generally read lots of fantasy, so most protagonists are loners, but I’m open to any genre. Just books (that are otherwise interesting and well written, hopefully) with healthy modern couples.

    Thanks everyone!

  49. Mints*

    Here’s some completely random unsolicited advice:

    Everyone should get their ears cleaned by a medical professional (using very diluted hydrogen peroxide a plastic syringe). I’ll avoid being gross, but it was surprisingly disgusting. My ears feel amazing, and I didn’t even think they were that bad at all

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Life time ear problems here. Was this painful? (That would not stop me from trying it, but I am wondering how deep in they go.) What prompted you do do this? Was this an ENT?

      1. Trixie*

        I don’t remember the peroxide but I remember it as a relatively easy procedure with a warm water solution. Wax can become easily impacted especially with smaller ear canals, and you don’t realize how much hearing has adjusted until its corrected.

        1. Mimmy*

          Ooh I should think about having this done. I’d mentioned last week about my right ear and the fact that my canals are small.

      2. Mints*

        Mr. Mints has medical training, and I thought I had an ingrown hair or bug bite or something near the ear canal opening, and asked him to take a look. He couldn’t see anything, but suggested he wash it out.
        It hurt a little towards the end, when he did some more forceful washes (similar to diving deep underwater) but mostly was just weird feeling. I got a tiny bit woozy, but only like having two beers and it stopped as soon as the water was done.
        The plastic bit went maybe half an inch, and didn’t feel like it went far.

        Weird overall but not specifically painful, and totally worth it

    2. Cari*

      Is this the sort of procedure a GP might refer you to have done if you go to them with hearing complaints? I clean out my ears (the bad way!), but they never really feel *clean* clean, and I’ve been noticing my hearing not being so good lately…

      1. Trixie*

        I think I went to a specialist. I would recommend it because the warm water solution/bath is the ONLY way to to go with this. I think I first experienced it when I was 10 or 12, and whether younger or older, its amazing how much they can clean out of there. And improve your hearing. I used to dread getting water in my ears from swimming or showers when they were acting up because I didn’t want to make the blockage worse.

    3. danr*

      Or a warm water solution. I had it done a couple of years ago and it suddenly got very noisy and loud.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      We have this done on our son once a year or so (he never passes the school hearing test on the first try, which is usually our reminder to have it done).

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I have to do this periodically. Last time, one plugged up so badly I couldn’t hear at all. It was like being very old. They said I could get the squirty thing they use at the doc’s office in a store. The bulb syringe doesn’t work well for me at all.

  50. Cath in Canada*

    We realized yesterday that both our cats have fleas, for the first time in the seven years we’ve had them. We’ve already started treating them so hopefully all will be well soon.

    Insect plagues encountered so far this summer: fruit flies, hornets, fleas. Just waiting for the locusts.

    (The hornets are really scary! There’s a nest a couple of houses down, and we have a fig tree with ripe fruit on it, so the garden’s full of them. Big black things that are apparently starting to become more common in Canada as the climate warms. They seem pretty focused on the fruit, but I’m worried they might get more aggressive as the weather cools down).

    1. danr*

      Nope, the wasps will slow down with the cooler weather. They like the hotter weather. And the figs.

      1. Artemesia*

        Figs need hornets to breed so they are sort of symbiotic

        I’d worry about mosquitos though as West Nile is now pretty endemic in North America — I’d be getting a bug zapper or being careful about using repellant when out at dusk in particular and doing everything I could to break the breeding cycle (clearing any outdoor water source like flowerpot saucers, tires — anything that holds a little water)

        1. De Minimis*

          We use it outdoors, the problem is that somehow they are getting indoors [through the garage most likely.]

          One I think got in the car with me the other day then bit me when I was at work, I killed it at my desk.

          We have had West Nile here, and also at least one case of chikungunya.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          My understanding is that fig wasps – the ones that do the pollinating early in the season – are highly specialised, teeny tiny, and non-stinging. The yellow jackets and massive terrifying hornets that come along later to eat the ripe figs are just freeloading bar stewards, and don’t even get me started on the raccoons.

          I guess “aggressive” was the wrong word to use, too – my experience with regular old yellow wasps is that they’re most likely to sting when the weather starts cooling down in September, because they’re all dopy and confused and have poor reflexes, so they can’t get away from you as easily.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Wasps, hornets, they all slow down in cooler weather. When it gets to be about 45 degrees I go out and start destroying nests. It’s funny, because the cold leaves them so stupefied that they will walk on my arm and forget to sting me, they are so slow and groggy.

      1. Tris Prior*

        oh god, ants. We free-feed our cat (she is a nibbler and will graze all day) and are getting SWARMS of them in and around her food dish. Thought about putting a dish of water under the food dish so that the ants drown on their way in, but the cat won’t touch the food then. She’s 16 and picky and likes things the way she likes them… sigh.

        They were also swarming all over the kitchen trash can the other day even though it was empty and clean. This is driving me insane. At least it’s not bees.

  51. Cruciatus*

    Met my sister’s boyfriend of 1.5 months-ish today. He was OK but my gut says “not the one.” But when I come up with reasons why, they all seem so petty. I think there’s something my brain isn’t telling me that’s adding to my reasoning. She was driving last night so I was responding to his texts for her and he’s all “ok, baby, whatever you want, baby.” It sounds nice enough but…my sister and I both hate nicknames like “baby” and “sweetie” and so I was irritated by that. She agreed when I (sort of) jokingly said “Oh, he uses ‘baby’ a lot.” Though we didn’t get home until midnight he HAD to come to her house last night to see her though we had plans to go to lunch today. When I met him this morning he had a weak handshake. Ew. He barely asked me anything about me during breakfast. I know it’s weird when you’ve just met someone, but when we got back to the house he really only spoke to her when I walked away to go pack my bags. WTF? Oh, and in the texts last night he responded “I love you” to her and I said “Oh, you’re at that stage already?” My sister said “HE is.” I asked more about it and I guess he told her to say it back and she explained she wasn’t ready. Why the eff would you want someone who isn’t sure yet to say it? It’s not a binding, legal contract to say “I love you!” And personally, I think 1.5 months is too early for “I love yous” in 80% of cases. He left when I went to use the restroom so I didn’t even get to say goodbye to him (another thing he did that I think is kind of weird.) It’s like only HE should be hanging out with my sister and would wait until I was gone. I could be totally wrong. But I’m not impressed. I told her so (politely). My sister seems to still have her head because when I told her my concerns (mainly the “I love you” thing) she agreed. I said he was nice but not interested in me at all (which I don’t mean in a creepy way). I asked him a few questions but answers seemed to die quickly and my sister and I just ended up chatting with each other to fill the silence. Friday night I asked her what she likes about him (as I hadn’t met him yet) and she responded “he’s nice and cute.” Well, be still my heart. Is he funny? Is he an animal lover? Is he this or that? Nice and cute are 3rd date adjectives. Not what I would expect going on 2 months.

    I’m just venting here folks. I just wasn’t a fan of the guy (for my sister). In an everyday situation I’d probably think he was just fine.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      It sounds like your sister is also aware that he’s probably not Mr. Right, but is okay with him being Mr. Right Now (my sister went through a few of these before she found her Mr. Right.) As long as you don’t get any weird controllish vibes, I’d just limit your interactions with him and wait for your sister to decide she’s ready to move on.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I get where you’re coming from. This guy sounds really needy. The whole “whatever you want baby” and the telling your sister to say I love you back just seems bizarre and desperate to me. Also, the weak handshake, while not a deal breaker in and of itself, just adds to the “nah, no thanks” factor.

    3. Beth Anne*

      He could also be kind of introverted…my sisters husband and I have barely ever talked about anything and they’ve been together for almost 3 years…

  52. Elkay*

    For once I’ve had a really good weekend. I met up with an old college friend who I haven’t seen for a few years and it was just like old times. It was kind of bittersweet because it makes me sad to remember all the people who have fallen out of touch with me.

  53. passive aggressive?*

    Anyone else having problems with Best Buy and laptop repair? I purchased my new laptop about three months ago (a Lenovo yoga style – laptop and tablet) and have had to take it to the Geek Squad twice so far. This time around it appears to be a manufacturing error with the hard drive. Looks like Best buy is going to have to send it to Lenovo to get it fixed and it will take around two weeks. So frustrating.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I wouldn’t take any computer of mine to BB or GS. I’ve heard too many horror stories. Have you looked around to see if there are any local places you could try? Or ask someone geeky for a recommendation?

      1. passive aggressive?*

        I’ve thought about that but since the laptop is still under warranty with Best Buy, I thought I might give them a try first.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This is an odd idea. Ask who does the computers for your town or county offices. Someone has the maintenance agreement for municipalities. Maybe they take on privately owned computers, too. (That is how I found the man I go to when the situation gets dire. I bought my previous computer from him. It was a quarter of the price of my first one and it lasted the same length of time.)
        Initially my problem was I did not know anyone in the biz, I wanted someone trustworthy who would not require a second mortgage to do the work. The town clerk did all that screening work already– kinda sneaky, eh?

    2. Chris*

      I will not use Best Buy repair again- they charged me $80, claiming they could not get the error message I was getting when they turned my computer on and off repeatedly. The same error message that popped right up after I got home and booted it myself. Thanks alot…

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I wish I had something more constructive to add than I never buy computers from Best Buy, and definitely don’t buy their “extended warranty” or “insurance.” Best of luck!

  54. danr*

    Hope all of our Northern California AAM folks are okay from the big earthquake today. I see that it hit the Napa Valley area hard.

  55. Persephone Mulberry*

    It’s my daughter’s birthday today! 14 year olds are really hard to shop for. :/

  56. Bored/Friend Rant*

    I have this friend that really just makes me angry more than anything. She lives 20 hours away so it’s a LDR but I don’t know. It’s like she only talks to me when nothing better is going on and ugh that annoys me and makes me feel bad.

    But really I don’t ask for much we only text really so all I’m asking is for her to take 30 seconds and answer my text messages. Every 3-6 months I tell her she hurts my feelings by not answering me and she goes on this long excuse rant of how her job is stressing her out and she’s busy blah blah blah but I’m not dumb I see her talking to other people on facebook and instagram. Actually it really annoys me that she likes my instagram photos

    I’ve known this girl my entire life via family (our dads were BFFs) so as much as I try it’s like impossible to get rid of her but it’s just annoying. I guess part of it is I still don’t really have a lot of IRL friends or a thriving social life and I still haven’t figured out how to get one. I don’t like to drink and it’s like EVERYTHING involves alcohol and lets face it I’m pretty poor. And everyone I meet they just talk about how “busy” they are…and I’ve never been SUPER BUSY. I don’t really understand how one becomes super busy and overcommitted I guess…blah.

    I’m not really looking for advice just a place to rant. I really hate how angry and annoyed I get about this friend and I try not to let it get to me but I guess I just feel like I’m being walked over and used and I hate that.

    1. manager anonymous*

      Yes, I know you are not asking for advice but you do sound like you are in pain…so two cents for what it is worth.
      I am an old lady (over 50) and this is what I know…
      20 hours away IS far away.
      My best friend growing up was only an hour drive away but when I was in my mid twenties, she might as well have been on the moon. She never did have “time” for me. She was very involved with her work, her volunteer positions, community activism, her boyfriend. She didn’t like me less. She had other friends from other circles who I did not “fit” in with. (the movie Bridesmaids was not funny to me, just painful)

      What I learned from the experience. I went to a therapist to address why I was so alone and lonely.
      I found passions in other places…my own volunteer work that I was interested in, going out on my own to community events, working on how to get a job more in-line with things I was interested in “not just a “job-job.”

      My old friend now that it is decades later and we are 1,500 miles apart (we touched base by phone a couple times a year) I follow her and she follows me on Facebook. I “like” when her family has significant events and message when something reminds me of us when we were kids. She might not message back for weeks. I do not take that personally.

      It is hard to make friends. It is hard at every age. Yet, there are kindred spirits out there. I wish for you serendipitous moments for these connections.

    2. Anonsie*

      I don’t watch my phone carefully and I miss texts all the time when I’m at home. It would never occur to me that you’re supposed to reply to a text RIGHT AWAY as if it was a live conversation. I’ll reply hours later or, if what they said was really in the moment, not at all. If someone told me this really hurt their feelings, honestly, I wouldn’t start vigilantly watching my phone to make them feel better– I’d just tell them that’s what I do for everyone and assume they could understand that.

  57. Work and Life*

    So I guess this could be a work thing, but I think it fits more under the personal thing so I’m going to post it here. I hate how I feel when it’s time for me to go back to work on Monday. My boss is an asshat who you cannot have a conversation with about the things he’s doing that make my life miserable. So I’m trying to remember that this is just a job, one of many I’ve had before and that I will have others in the future. That works a good 50% of the time.

    I guess what I want to know is how do others handle the bad feelings you have about a job or anything else in life? What do you tell yourself to help you be able to handle things and keep going when you’re going to be stuck in the situation awhile longer?

    1. MJ*

      I tell myself that every experience is preparing me for something else. I can look back on my life (and I am probably a bit older than you, so it’s a long look!) and I can see where all those jobs and trials and hard bits prepared me for today, and I have learned to trust that what I am learning now will inform the rest of my journey.

      Go into work tomorrow looking for what you can learn. Maybe you are learning patience. Maybe you are learning how not to lead. Maybe you can figure out a way to bring joy into your workspace on some small scale that will affect how you lead for the rest of your life.

      Hope this week brings you a smile or two1!

      1. Nicole*

        I just wanted to comment on what great advice this is and I appreciate you sharing this with everyone. It truly is very helpful for many situations.

  58. SnoopyDance*

    I’m obviously very late to this party, but has anyone tried the Nerium Night Creme? I have a friend that’s selling it and would like some feedback from those who have tried it before I purchase it.

    1. acmx*

      I know people who sell it. I’ve seen the pictures (of them. Men actually) and to me, it looks just pictures taken in different lighting.
      So your friend should have examples of people who have used it if you’d really like to try it.
      (I’m skeptical of it just because it is essentially MLM).

  59. My angel's mommy :)*

    My 5 year old starts kindergarten in one week! She never went to preschool or daycare, so this would be the first time she goes to any kind of school. She was in a very unstructured environment since she was born, spending time with grandparents most of the time.

    I am a little nervous about the huge change that will be happening in her life. I’ve talked to her about it, but don’t anything can really prepare her for something she doesn’t understand…being in a structured environment for a whole day. Does anyone have any tips?

    1. Jean*

      There are a number of good children’s books that address this topic. “The night before kindergarten” may be one such title. I’m hazy about this b/c it’s been many years since our own child started kindergarten. Look online for titles, then look online in your local library’s catalog. Or, go straight to the library (or bookstore)to consult with the children’s librarian (or book seller). We have a serious shelf space shortage in our home, so we tend to go first to the library.

  60. My angel's mommy :)*

    Thank you. The idea came to me last week, so I should be getting the books this upcoming week. Wish I would’ve thought of it sooner.

  61. Jillociraptor*

    I’m very fortunate to have a job that is flexible in terms of location and hours, such that I’ve been able to move several times for my boyfriend’s job. I’m circling in on 30, make plenty of money, have very limited student debt, have had a string of lovely places to live, and all around am doing pretty well, though like anyone, I’ve had my rough patches.

    Every time I talk to my parents, they start in on an extended “you don’t know how lucky you are” lecture. (I say lecture because it definitely feels hostile and judgmental, not just a kind of awkward way of saying “Wow, you’re doing great!”) I don’t know how to respond. I actually do know how lucky I am, and feel like I have acknowledged and thanked them multiple times for the role they have played in it. I’m just not sure what they want me to say?

    I don’t feel like I complain a lot, and specifically avoid talking to them about things that aren’t going so well because, while they’re actually great people, they’re just not very sympathetic on the whole.

    So one, they have always been like this but it really intensified when they retired. Am I missing something? They’re financially really secure, seem to be doing everything they want to be doing, and just overall seem really happy, but it’s only made them dig in harder on this (and it seems, on generally being judgmental of everyone, actually).

    And two, obviously, I can’t make them change their behavior. Any suggestions for dealing with it? I’ve tried really hard to just not let it affect me, but it’s so frequent and I just really have no idea what’s behind it, if not a general kind of contempt for…something I’m doing or not doing?

    1. Ruffingit*

      You can’t MAKE them change their behavior, but you might be able to train them to stop this if you’re willing to enforce boundaries around this. You can do a few things:

      1. Flat out ask them what they want from you. “You know parental units, you have told me this same thing multiple times. What are you looking for me to say?” This serves the purpose of figuring out what they are looking for and of spotlighting the fact that they have done this often. Sometimes people don’t realize just how often they bring a topic up. They may say “Well nothing at all, we just want you to realize how lucky you are!” At which point, you move on to #2

      2. You can tell them you are quite grateful for your job and your general life situation, but you’re no longer going to have it be a topic of conversation with them because it’s now a closed topic. This may elicit any manner of responses from how ungrateful you are to them not speaking to you for awhile to passive-aggressiveness or whatever. But, you teach people how to treat you so you can say to them “I;m grateful for the life I have, but it’s not something I’m going to talk about further with you. If you insist on bringing it up, I’m going to hang up or walk out of the room because the way you say it often feels like a lecture and I’m not comfortable with that.” Again, they may balk, but you can say this nicely.

      3. Actually do what you say you’re going to do. Hang up/walk out of the room. You are too old to be held hostage to lectures about your life.

      4. Realize that this is something retired people do sometimes. I have a parent who fell into this same thing. Too much time on his hands and suddenly my life was under a microscope and I was being told what to do and how to do it as if I needed that. Nope, no thanks, not going to fly. Adults are not in need of that and if they insist on it, you can shut it down. You just have to be willing to deal with the extreme discomfort that can cause, but boundaries often make people uncomfortable, both the giver and receiver of them. Stick with it, it makes life better in the long run!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If you can come back and share, it would be interesting to hear what the heck it is that is driving this point.

          A lot of parents would be jumping up and down screaming “Look at my kid! Look at my kid GO! Yea, my kid!”

          And I wonder how they express gratitude for what they have.

    2. SeattleMom*

      Do you think there is an element of them equating your success with their success as parents? Maybe they are living vicariously through your accomplishments.

      Getting all tea leaf reading here, but has there been any pressure to launch you into marriage and children? Perhaps they are seeing the grandchildren in their future as the next phase and wanting you to feel secure in your work to move to the next level?

      All of this would equate to parents that need some boundaries. You need to express appreciation to them as parents for raising you and providing opportunities, but also set the limits and cut the umbilical cord. If they are no longer providing the financial support, then there are boundaries on where and how they should be providing input. Shift the discussions and keep to generalities if there conversations or questions are crossing the line.

  62. Anonsie*

    How do people ever cultivate personal skills or hobbies when working on a career that takes massive amounts of formal training and education and long hours and erratic schedules and all that junk? I’m starting to have second thoughts about this. I won’t have spare money or spare time until I’m pushing 40 and I keep thinking… You know, when am I going to get to do the traveling I want? To work on my illustrating? Even just spend time with my dog? I feel like my dog really misses me, man.

    The big thing is money, but money being no object it would still be an issue because of time and energy. People say “you make time for things that are important” and I firmly believe those people are full of it. If I’m leaving the house at 7:30am and not getting back until 10pm four days a week, then Saturdays I’m out a half day, like– I have one day and two nights in an entire week to do all my readings and homework, rest, do housework, run errands, see my family, and do any sort of non-work-related thing I want to have in my life. It doesn’t fit. I don’t know about doing this for 12 more years.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      That’s brutal, wow.

      Not very helpful- but I let my dog sleep on the bed with me. I never used to do that. But when I am not home a lot, it seems to be an easy way for him to be with me.
      I buy second hand comforters and toss them more often than I would like. (Sometimes he rips them with his nails- when he jumps up.) It’s all trade-offs it seems.
      The only draw back is that my dog does not do well with boarding. And I think that is because of sleeping on the bed at night.

      1. Anonsie*

        My pup has always slept on my bed at night, ever since she was a wee puppy. It’s definitely the highlight of most of my days. We actually found a boarder where the overnight guy will let especially clingy dogs sleep in his “office” on the sofa with him!

Comments are closed.