Sunday free-for-all – August 3, 2014

M+LIt’s the Sunday free-for-all.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. Have at it.

{ 824 comments… read them below }

  1. Good_Intentions*

    Friends with young child(ren)

    OK, I have a slight dilemma. A very dear friend of mine, who used to be a colleague, became a mother about 18 months ago and will not talk about anything besides her darling son while on the phone. Although the toddler really is adorable, I am finding it difficult to maintain this friendship as I am childless and plan to be permanently.

    The friend, Mia, and I have been friends for nearly 10 years, including 2 years as close work friends. I encouraged her to date the man who is now her husband and have been supportive of her in every aspect of her life such as choosing to have a child even as she’s working on her master’s degree. Because I am in a long-term co-habitating relationship and have no children, it’s sometimes a challenge for me to follow all of her talk about pediatrician appointments, Bible study and free music classes for the tyke. Still, I make inquiries and listen patiently as she talks for 20 straight minutes about each item.

    She and I live in different states and usually speak on the phone about twice a month for about an hour. About 40 minutes into the conversation, I try to interject a bit about my life into the discussion. I mention what I’m reading, which she responds to by saying that she doesn’t have time to leisurely read anymore. I talk about the fun free things my bf and I do in the city, which illicits a sigh and a comment about how envious she is of my close connection to amenities and a gripe about isolation in the countryside where she and her family reside. When I discuss some of the organizational and political issues of my job, she suggests that I bring in headphones or a Kindle. She also sometimes laughs at the stories I tell her about my colleague’s social miscues, which angers me because they’re good people and the stories aren’t particularly funny.

    So, my question is: Is it possible to maintain this old friendship as Mia and I enter new phases of our lives? Can we find common ground and avoid boring or annoying each other? When is the best time to throw in the towel on a friendship?

    1. Paloma Pigeon*

      Give her 5 years. Seriously, until she starts sleeping 7 or 8 hours a night again, she will be a completely different person, laughing probably out of sheer exhaustion.

    2. Steve G*

      I would never give up a friend because of these types of differences, you obviously have a history. My sister talks 20 minutes about every little thing so I know how to handle that and don’t think it’s a big deal, but the comments about “ugh I have no time for reading” etc. would get annoying. At the same time, I have many people in my life that I never talk about 1/2 of the stuff I do (such as reading) because there are so many other items that are more timelier that are getting discussed, and certain things fall by the wayside. Also, books read and museums…or concerts/restaurants attended can kill conversations. If the other person doesn’t know the book or whatever, all they can do is say “oh.” Maybe you have to go visit her.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        It sounds more like the problem is not really about *what* they are talking about, but the issue that the friend with the kid will only talk about herself and her life, and acts disinterested in Good Intentions ‘ s life. That would be annoying with or without the kid.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have someone who does that. When I’m talking about something, I get the sense that she’s only waiting until I’m finished so she can talk about herself again. It’s really annoying. She only calls or texts me when she has something she wants to say, not just to catch up with me, etc.

          1. Robin*

            I had a friend like that–everything was about her. When it finally came down to my telling her about an illness, and all she could talk about was how healthy she was, I finally ended the relationship.

    3. Stephanie*

      On a related note, I remember feeling like I needed to go find single friends at one point. A big chunk of my friend circle was people in serious relationships or marriage. It was very weird being the lone single person as everyone would arrive and leave in pairs or talk in plural (“We went to the farmers market yesterday…” or “We entertained Wakeen’s cousin this weekend”). I felt like I couldn’t relate not necessarily because I was lonely (I was fine being single, actually), but because we were in different stages. I actively sought out new friends. I did feel a little guilty, but it got exhausting feeling like the third (or fifth…or seventh) wheel or being asked about my dating life.

      1. Dan*

        The only thing that truly, truly bugs me are people with joint email addresses. You know the type “John and Jane Doe”. It’s like, “Um, don’t you have your own identity anymore?”

        I’m fine at the third wheel. I think at the 7th it gets a little odd though. I mean, I had an old coworker and his wife over for dinner last week, they were a blast. I had never met her before.

        Another coworker and I had become “work friends” and then gotten laid off on the same day. She’s a bit older than me, but hanging out with her and her husband has been a real trip.

        The real differentiator for me is kids. I actually don’t mind them, but they tend to be a logistical buzz kill. I mean, when they’re present, I don’t mind their company (no matter how misbehaved they are) but the planning tends to center around kid stuff. That gets tough. One of my friends won’t leave his wife home alone with the kids unless he’s at work. Uh, dude, both of you are entitled to sneak out on your own every once in awhile.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yes. Joint email addresses/Facebook accounts/etc are strange.

          I will say it depended on the couple. Often times, I was closer to one person in a pair than the other and I found myself straining to talk to the other person. If I liked both equally, it was fine. I think the clingyness of the couple made a difference as well. Some were very much a unit and that could be hard to navigate.

          Third wheel on occasion was fine. It was just when it kept being me and like four couples that I realized I needed to branch out.

          1. Felicia*

            I find it really hard to be friends with someone in a couple where you can never ever see one without the other. My best friend is in a serious relationship and she lives with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend is nice enough, I don’t dislike him, but we dont have anything to talk about and I wouldn’t spend any time with him if he weren’t dating my best friend. When they first started dating it was hard because I’d never see her without him, but now she’ll go out without him fairly frequently and finds it important to maintain separate lives. If seh had never gotten past the “never see one without the other” stage, we couldn’t have stayed friends. I mean I invite him sometimes when we’re doing a big group thing – preferably some sort of festival or show, so we can at least talk about that and it’s less awkward. But it’s nice to just go out to dinner with her. I think it’s hard with couples that are always together. Just because you’re married, doesn’t mean you can’t go out separately and have different friends. I think it’s because if/when I’m in a serious relationship it would be important to me to maintain separate friendships and interests, so i have trouble being friends with couples who don’t do that…especially when I’m friends with one but actually dislike the other.

            1. Dang*

              I have a friend who is like this. She got married last summer and I have seen her alone once and that’s only because I asked her to lunch when I knew he would be working. Her husband apparently thinks it’s abnormal to not do every single thing together.

              That kind of thing wouldn’t work for me, that’s for sure. I still enjoy seeing them but it’s a much different relationship now,

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I’m friends with a couple who invites me to their parties, and it’s always couples except for maybe one friend of theirs who is also female and knows all the other people better than I do (a lot of them go to their church). I love this couple and their kids, their family and friends are nice, and it’s usually fun. The wife also invites me to her girls’ nights with a group she hangs out with occasionally, which is also fun. It’s a dilemma–I’m so tired of going everywhere alone that I’d almost rather stay home, but I want to see my friends, so I go.

        2. Laura*

          Yeah. My husband and I have a joint email that is just a relay to our primary emails, but that’s purely for business things that call for it – the various institutions that are emailing us regarding joint accounts. Our friends have our email addresses and if they want to email both of us, they just use both. :P

          1. Loose Seal*

            We do too. We use it to mail pictures of receipts or household items, warranties, insurance policies, etc. We set up labels so that when things hit the box, they are filed automatically. That way, they are both accessible to us and will be even if we’re not at home.

            We do not, however, distribute that email to other people. We have separate emails for communication.

        3. ThursdaysGeek*

          Well, we were married before there was email, so setting up one account made sense at the time. If an email comes in that’s just for him, I’ll send it on to his work email, and he can deal with it. But he doesn’t have to deal with the spam and random stuff. Email addresses are for our benefit, and if he likes it they way it is, why change it? He’d rather see you in person anyway; with or without me — that changes on the situation. We’re separate people, even with the one email address.

    4. Dan*

      Kids? Forget it. Different mentality, different needs, pressures, different everything.

      I get to sleep 7-8 hours with no interruption. I get to come home and do whatever the f I want after work. You don’t get any of that. I can’t relate.

      I’m friends with a variety of married/coupled people with no kids. Them folk, I have a blast with.

      1. GrumpyBoss*

        I’m with you there. I also saw you mentioning joint email addresses in an earlier reply. What gets me is parental email addresses. Like “spencersmom” or something. Where is your identity?

        The logistical part makes getting together so tough. And when we do, I’m getting someone who is so focused on being a super mommy.

        I find that most of my friends are younger (pre children) or older (kids leaving for college).

        1. nonegiven*

          My first geocities username was mysonsnamesmom because I had tried everything else I could think of, maybe 10 different nicks, and they were all taken. I didn’t like any of their alternate suggestions. I wasn’t expecting it to be available, either, but it was. By then I was just throwing in anything that came to mind.

    5. hithere*

      I’m the Mia in your situation. She’s probably just desperate to hold onto you. Can you go visit her?

      1. Fucshia*

        Just be sure to be as interested in your friends’ lives as you want them to be in yours, as you shouldn’t have an issue keeping up the friendships.

    6. Jen RO*

      Your friend sounds like a jerk. I would give up on the friendship. I’m also childfree and, if someone’s entire existence revolves around a kid (and it’s not even a baby anymore!), that means that a. the friend is selfish; b. our lives have become too different.

      (I do have friends that had babies and they did *not* talk about them all day long. It can be done! I can’t believe that in 18 months a mother can’t get a life of her own if she so desires, so I will conclude that Mia simply is not interested in her old life, which includes you too.)

      1. Ben*

        Wow- that’s an assumption. I will tell you anyone with a child who gives you that much time each month- wants you as a friend. Imagine if you went through a break-up how long would you talk about it, or if your life changed in a radical way? Children are life altering.

        You may grow apart, but it sure doesn’t sound like she’s selfish just in a different place.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          It may sound harsh, but the friend with the kid is kind of being a bad friend. Having a kid doesn’t mean you get to monopolise the conversation or belittle the other person’s life.

          1. Glor*

            Yeah, this. I have plenty of friends with kids, and while we do often talk about said kids, it’s not everything! I mean, I’m childfree myself, and most of my friends with kids realize this and make the effort to be a good friend and not monopolize the conversation with “Oh, and today C went in the potty!” or whatever.

            The munchkins, they are my honorary nieces and nephews… but even with that I don’t want to discuss them all the time. A good, caring friend will try to make sure that you’re included and don’t feel alienated [note: TRY! because sometimes it just happens that way!].

            1. Felicia*

              I agree that because there are people with small children who DON’T do this (I know some of those too, they’ll talk about the kid a lot , but make some effort to ask about my life, and respond enthusiastically when I bring up non kid things), then it’s reasonable for her to expect that her friend is also capable of not monopolizing the conversation with kid stuff.

              Before I ended anything though I would tell friend something like “hey, you’re talking about kid and your life 100% of the time while ignoring/belittling when I try to talk about my life/non kid things. This makes me feel sad/alienated/like you don’t care about me/however it makes me feel. Would you mind trying to not do that, because it makes it hard to be friends.” I think she should stop doing that, but it’s unfair to assume she knows she should stop without telling her.

        2. Liz in a Library*

          I have to disagree. Any friendship that is 100% about one person and where the second person never even gets to share things about her life is inherently selfish. The child has nothing to do with it; the adult is making this a one-sided, unfulfilling friendship.

      2. Anon*

        Wow that is quite an assumption. Could it be cultural or a regional thing (I remember you saying you’re from Romania, correct?)? I live in Boston now and all of my coworkers are young moms and ALL they talk about are their children. Even the mom of an 11 year old gushes about her child’s accomplishments all day. When I lived in NYC, the young moms were more interesting and talked about their hobbies and interests and occasionally talked about their kids.

        1. Jen RO*

          I don’t think it’s cultural, I have mom-friends from all over and they are all capable of maintaining an interest in topics that are *not* their children. I can understand being totally entranced with a child for the first few months, but 18 months? That’s long enough to be able to remember that a friendship should go two ways – Mia doesn’t seem to get that, and that’s the definition of selfish. And, like others have pointed out, it would be same if the topic was fitness, food, games or anything else.

        2. Jen RO*

          As an aside, your coworkers sound exhausting. Even my newly pregnant coworker doesn’t talk about her pregnancy all day!

          1. fposte*

            I wonder if part of the huge parenting focus these days is that it’s easy for parents to find communities online (or maybe in real life) that tolerate and even encourage talking about nothing else 24/7. And as always, it’s tough for people to realize that the norms of a focused community aren’t always the norms of a wider world.

            1. Jen RO*

              Could be, but I still think those people lack some important quality for interacting with society. I frequent forums where the sole topic of discussion is World of Warcraft, and I still know that if my friends don’t play I should keep those discussions to a minimum with them. My friend knows I’m not vegan, so she doesn’t make it a big conversation topic. And so on…

    7. StudentA*

      I wonder if it boils down to you having certain expectations she’s obviously not meeting. When you tell her you are having organizational/political challenges at your job, what are you expecting her to say? I don’t see what the problem is when she suggests you bring in headphones. I also am not seeing the big issues with some of the other things you mention, like her saying she’s envious you get to live in the city and that there’s nothing to do where she lives. Honestly, everyone I know who is at ease with each other talks a bit like that.

      I think it’s totally possible for people to be close friends, even when their lifestyles are very different. In fact, I am always a bit puzzled when people grow apart because of life changes. Lifelong friendships require a dose of tolerance to differences, not just commiseration. Is it possible that you are just as disinterested in what’s going on with her as she is with you? It’s just a thought.

    8. Sally go*

      I have no solution to offer but your post totally depresses me. I’ve always been single and child free. I got married a few months ago and am now 9 weeks pregnant. As it is all I can think about is how sick I feel–if my friends suddenly find me horribly dull because I’ve become a breeder…well, that’s gonna suck.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I don’t think that your friends will find you horribly dull just because you’re pregnant. The goal of friendship, it seems to me, is give-and-take between each other. OP’s friend is making the friendship all about her without being too interested about her friend. Some people talk too much about their upcoming wedding, their terrible boss, their lack of funds, their intrusive mother-in-law, etc., etc. This particular friend is going on and on about her kid. And it gets annoying. Don’t be that friend and they won’t be asking the internet in a few years how they should quietly dump you.

        You can talk about how you are feeling some. And you can talk about your child when it gets here some. But if you notice that you are talking mostly about you and your stuff, give your friend a chance to talk about what’s going on with them.

      2. AMD*

        I have had this problem with mom-acquaintances who only want to talk about pregnancy and kids, and make me as a non-mommy feel marginalized and boring. I also have new parent friends who are still wonderful people to interact with. The secret seems to be finding a way to maintain non-baby interests (reading, writing, knitting, World of Warcraft, whatever), and showing some interest in friends’ non-baby lives as well. Don’t stress about having a kid driving people away; instead, just continue being the friend you are now, which hopefully includes not obsessively talking about any single aspect of your life, and showing interest in theirs. Some of my best friends are mommies now, and I do love hearing about their babies!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        No, this is not about this woman being dull because she has a child. It’ s about her inability to talk about other subjects without the other subjects breaking her. For example, OP’s conversation about the various things she does in her community is not something that is a personal assault. OP is just talking about what is going on in her day/week. Friend turns it into something regarding her own life.

        Go the opposite way – suppose every time Friend said something about Baby that OP made a remark similar to “I don’t have a baby so I don’t know anything about that.” It shuts down the conversation, right?

        Sometimes friends find themselves on different paths in life. Paths that are so different it seems hard to find things in common to talk about anymore.

        Good Intentions, address it in the moment when you see it. “Friend, I am not telling you about my activities to make you feel bad. I am just simply telling you about my week and my life. But some how I feel that I am upsetting you more than I am sharing life with you. I love you and by extension, I love your child. I want you guys in my life. But if every thing I say is off-putting, it is going to be really hard for us to go on as friends. I don’t want us to stop being friends. But at the same time we have to agree that we are on two different paths in life right now and we are going to have different experiences. Going forward, can I tell you about stuff I am doing without upsetting you in some manner?”

        As an aside, growing up I thought all adults just hung out together. I was surprised to see that actually married couples TEND (not always) to hang out with other married couples. Additionally, couples with kids tend to hang out with other couples with kids. Why. Because life changes that much and because birds of a feather flock together. Like is drawn to like. I think that it goes back to the needs of a person’s setting. It is easier to hang out with people who are on a similar path in life. There are plenty of exceptions. I think those exceptions happen because both parties have agreed, “Yep, you are on a different path than me but that is okay. I will work on understanding what your life is like and I know you will work on understanding what my life is like.” See the reciprocity? It is an extra effort and not all friendships survive that effort.

    9. Cristina in England*

      It sounds like your friend is a little lonely and socially isolated. May e ask her about this? Does she have any friends she meets up with where she lives? It also sounds like she stays at home with her kid? She probably doesn’t even know where to begin with non-kid conversations. Her day is 24hours of this stuff. Maybe she is happy with her arrangement, maybe she isn’t, but I have sympathy for her either way!

    10. Nina*

      It’s a complicated issue. On her side, she’s a new mom, she has this amazing new person in her life that’s changed everything, so of course she wants to talk your ear off about him. But that doesn’t mean you have to hear about him 24/7, and, you have a life, too. If she keeps cutting you off to talk about her stuff, then let her know that while you’re happy to hear about her life, you’re trying to fill her in about your life as well, and your stuff is just as important as hers.

      But again, if she just blows you off or just goes “whatever” at your news, then you might need to put some space between you until she’s ready to listen. Long-term friendships are important, and I get that she’s a new mom and all, but friendship is a two way street. When one person is being listened to and receiving attention (Mia) while the other is left out, then that friendship isn’t working.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Totally agree with this post. No matter what the topic is (kid, travel, new job, new relationship, hobby, etc.) it’s not a good friendship if that person only wants to talk about that and never listens to the other friend.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          +1. I think child free vs new mommy is a hot button issue format women and can be a red herring there. Replace “child” with, let’s say, “crossfit”, and it would be equally annoying.

          Two way communication and mutual interest is the cornerstone of any friendship. That’s what is missing here.

          1. GrumpyBoss*

            Ugh. Stupid autocorrect. That should be “for many women”, not “format women”.

          2. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

            Lol! Crossfit (and paleo) people are a great example here. It often DOES become the sole topic of conversation. (I day this as a Whole 30/paleo person myself… sigh).

    11. Sarahnova*

      Firstly, this is a tough transition to negotiate, on both sides. Her life, her brain, the way she spends her time have all changed radically, and yours haven’t. You’re speaking across a divide.

      Secondly, I think the first thing to try is telling her how you feel. “Mia, it’s really frustrating to me that when I talk about what’s going on in my life, you minimise it/laugh/moan about how you can’t do that stuff any more. I feel like I listen patiently when you talk about MiaKid even though I can’t personally relate. This hurts my feelings.”

      Honestly, I think she sounds lonely/frustrated/in a rut, but doesn’t feel like she can say so, because she loves Kid like blazes and because it’s socially very hard to say “I feel trapped by being a mother”. I think that’s what the “I don’t have time to read any more” martyring is actually about. I grant you, that’s annoying, and if she can’t stop doing that when you level with her – “Mia, it seems like you often bring up all the stuff you can’t do any more. How are you, really? How are you coping with finding it hard to get out?” – then yeah, maybe it’s time to move on. At the very least, I think that when a close friend becomes a parent, it is probably necessary to significantly lower your expectations around that friend’s ability to support you emotionally and to seek out other non-child-having friends to fill some of that role. That’s not the friend’s fault; it’s the reality of their doing something so all-consuming. I would give the friendship a period of expecting less – probably a period of at least two years; if the person isn’t coming out of the fog after that, well, the friendship probably isn’t going to be able to adapt and survive. But if this is a valued friendship of years’ duration, I would at least try.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I haven’t found that, at least not in a way that applies to phone conversation topics. Friends with kids can’t go out for a night or a weekend with the same ease, but they’re perfectly able to understand that non-parents have different things central in their lives and to talk about them. Even if Mia does feel trapped by being a mother, talking about that instead of Good_Intentions’ life just reinforces the “it’s all about Mia” conversational cycle, when the point is that both their lives have stressors and triumphs and they’re both worth attention. I think Mia just got stuck in the immediate post-birth mode where the new baby is conversationally the most important thing.

        I lean more to Not So New Reader’s suggestion of talking about it. That’s something friends should be able to do, and it may get both of them to a more satisfying place. If Mia slips into old habits again, it gives you a thing to refer to (“Remember our conversation? This is what I mean right there, when I told you about my basement flooding and spending all Sunday in sewage and you said that you wished you even had time to get to the basement”). And if she really is someone for whom parenting is so all-consuming that she can’t think about anything but it 24/7, then she can say that and Good Intentions is fairly warned that Mia is no longer available as a friend.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Just to be clear, I don’t mean that Mia’s talking only about Kid and not responding to Good_Intentions’ comments is OK or sustainable. I just mean that if Good_Intentions values the friendship and Mia used to be much more equitable and involved in the way they had discussions, it’s worth a try at busting the barrier down by addressing it directly. I don’t disagree that Mia is currently being a bad friend.

          However, I do think that if you’re accustomed to going to a friend frequently for venting, emotional support, etc., and then that friend has a kid, you probably need to proactively start leaning on other people a bit more instead of the friend, because with the best will in the world, your friend will have way less energy and time to provide that support in the first few years.

    12. kas*

      I know how you feel. I have a friend like this and it’s frustrating and annoying. She doesn’t have kids but all our conversations are about her man problems. I don’t remember the last time we actually had a conversation about something going on in my life. When I try to change the subject, I can tell there’s a lack of interest and she brings up her problems again. I’ve started ignoring her calls every now and then but we’ve been friends for almost 10 years so it’s hard to just let it go. Maybe give her some time .. as her child grows maybe she’ll speak of him less.

      1. Childless 2*

        I can’t count the number of friends I’ve had to hide on Facebook because their entire existence seems to revolve around their children. Daily photos or non-stop updates (Suzi just said the most hilarious thing; #blessed) are just not as fascinating as they think. In this case, I would address the situation honestly with your friend. Tell her you would like to talk about something that has been bothering you, and it is impacting your friendship. You don’t have to go into specifics that make her feel bad, but use “I feel” statements that aren’t placing blame. I feel that our conversations tend to revolve mostly around your son and you miss getting her thoughts and feedback on your life. You love hearing about him, but you feel sad that it’s not a topic where you can add input so you can’t relate. You may want to ask if she would be willing to limit the kid talk to 5 min because you don’t want her to feel like she can’t talk about him, but it can’t be for the entirety if the conversation. Based on her reaction and the balance of the next few calls, you will be able to tell if it’s time to cut down the frequency of conversations, or if the friendship may need to take a temporary (or permanent) hiatus. I wouldn’t just walk away or try to phase out the calls until you take this step. Very often people don’t realize this behavior and wish that a friend has just been honest vs pulling away without at least having a conversation.

        1. GrumpyBoss*

          I recently had to remove a friend from Pinterest for a similar reason. When we do speak, it’s usually this martyr crap about how busy she is, and how women who aren’t SAHM’s will never understand her sacrifice and how she has no time for herself. She can’t even make it to Starbucks anymore! But then she goes onto Pinterest and will pin hundreds of time consuming activities about being the best mom ever, like how to make a grilled cheese sandwich shaped like tinker bell in 28 easy steps! It got to me. Are you a SAHM because you love it and like turning the entire day into arts and crafts time? Because it is totally fine if you are. If you don’t like it, I’m sure if you made grilled cheese for the kids the regular way, you could shave enough time off your day to swing by the Starbucks drivethru when you are taking them to camp/doctor appointment/random activity.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          I love it when the mom of the couple I spoke about earlier posts something about one of her children, what they said or whatever. Because she has a wicked sense of humor and she posts the weird stuff, the gross stuff, the funny stuff, etc. and not just “ZOMG I’m the gush gush luckiest person gush gushity gush gush! #blessed #thankujeebus #luv” I love seeing those posts. They crack me up.

          The gushing and #blessed thing always strikes me as a bit of a humblebrag. I have another friend whose kids are nearly grown and she does it so often that I just have to ignore it.

          1. Laura*

            Phew. I feel a little better now about how often I post about my kids on FB…and it’s not all I post…but it’s only occasionally something cool they’ve done. It’s way more often something hilariously off-the-wall they’ve done or said.

          2. Windchime*

            I recently Facebook de-friended several old classmates who did the constant humble bragging about their wonderful, Christ-like children. These are children who are adults, by the way. It’s exhausting.

            As for the OP, sometimes friendships run their course. “Friends for a reason, friends for a season, friends for life.” Maybe the season of this friendship is ending. I had a friendship that ended similarly; my friend was also just absorbed in what was going on in her own life and made disinterested comments (“Oh, really? Hmmmm…..”) when I would say anything about my own life. It made me realize that we really had nothing in common so I just did the slow fade.

            One more thought: sometimes friendships go through ebbs and flows. During times of stress or change, one person may become the Giver while the other is the Taker. In a normal, healthy friendship, these roles switch back and forth over time. But when one person is always the Taker/Talker and the other is always the Giver/Listener, then the friendship has reach an unhealthy place and really, is it still a friendship at all?

        3. Steve G*

          I think this is a new trend of more-hands-on parenting. Maybe its because more people aren’t having or are postponing having kids, so when they do have them, they enjoy it more, and they have kids because they want to, not out of pressure. It is annoying though.

          And if I remember every time I walked in on my mom visiting with someone, I almost never interrupted a conversation about us kids. It was always about drama with her in-laws or siblings, or neighborhood drama, maybe with some gossip about the people that worked at school, but not stuff about us. And my parents certainly weren’t distant. So yeah, there are other things to talk about with childless people.

    13. Tomato Frog*

      Is it possible she was always pretty self-absorbed but you used to not notice so much? Has your relationship always tended to focus on her issues and on your supporting her?

    14. Laura*

      Have you said that to her?

      I have two children – now 5 and 2 – and yes, I tend to talk about them a lot. Is she a stay-at-home Mom? In which case they will be even more the center of her life….

      It’s a hard thing to hear, but something along the lines of, “I really love hearing about little mini-me, but I also enjoy our conversations about other things. Lately, I feel like I’m waving what you don’t have right now in front of you when I try that. What other topics would you like to talk about? And, is there anything you can do to get a night out once or twice?”

      (The latter’s not always possible – it depends on whether she’s comfortable with a baby-sitter, and can afford one; and if not, whether or not her husband and she are comfortable leaving him alone with the toddler for a while.)

      18 months old is still deep in one of the more fraught periods of childhood – kids that age may or may not be “sleeping through the night” but if they are, that may mean six hours rather than eight. They are generally completely mobile, and completely ready to do any number of things you wouldn’t want them to, meaning that you have to be ‘on’ and vigilant whenever they’re awake. So it can be pretty overwhelming and start to be most / all of what you think about.

      If she really can’t move beyond discussions of the kid now, do you want to hang in and see if it gets better in a couple years? By three or four – provided another child doesn’t simply repeat the cycle – life balance generally starts to return a bit, because the kid can be left to play by themselves while Mom reads a book, for instance.

      But some people just really give themselves up into the Mommyhood and it becomes their whole life – or the only bit they want to talk about. If that’s the case and it doesn’t change, it sounds like that may not work for her friendship with you. (And I can’t really speak to that frame of mind…I adore my boys, but I was kind of desperate to get at least some of my normal life back.)

    15. FD*

      Years ago, my parents told me that when you’re in your 20s and 30s, this tends to happen, people with kids tend to drift away from the people who don’t.

      I’m finding the same thing happening in my life, and this is what I think:

      There are a few times that people go through major changes in their lives, that changes who they are as a person. One of them is the transition from high school to college or to the work world. Another big one is having kids.

      I bet most people aren’t close to many people from high school anymore. It’s not that those people are bad or boring. It’s just that if you went to a different college from them, you both had experiences that changed you as a person, and that the other person may not have had. There’s less in common.

      I think that’s what happens when someone has kids. It profoundly changes you as a person, I think, not to mention shifting your priorities. Someone who isn’t having kids may be left on the outside of those changes.

      In a lot of cases, for me, I may still maintain a few friendships from high school, and they’re people I’ll chat with on occasion or visit when they’re in town. But we’re not as close as we used to be–and that’s okay. I’m not very close to my college friends who have started having kids for the same reason.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to drift away from someone. It happens. It’s normal, especially at this time of your life. It isn’t per se about either of you being annoying or disinterested; it’s about having much less common ground to base a friendship on than you once did.

      Here’s another thing, too. Sometimes, you need to assess how much give and take is in a relationship. Some friendships are pretty much equals. Maybe there are times you need to take more, but that’ll reverse in the future. A good best friend is like this.

      A lot of friendships have some kind of imbalance. There isn’t a good equivalent word for this in English, so I use the Japanese term “senpai”. Literally, this refers to a more senior person, such as a classmate, but it usually has connotations of being a person who supports a person who may be less advanced in some area–a little more than a mentor, and not just in a work context.

      In some friendships, you take more than you give. Those people are your ‘senpai’. You know the ones, the ones you go to when you need help, the ones who advise you, who help ground you. In some friendships you give more than you take. You are the ‘senpai’ in that relationship. You may find yourself listening a lot more than you talk about your life in those cases. They may not really understand your world, but you provide support to them.

      Right now, your friendship may have shifted off of a best friend basis, and into one where your friend needs the emotional support you can provide. You, in turn, must decide if you can do that right now. In order to be healthy, it’s important not to end up with so many people taking and so few people giving support that there’s an imbalance in your own life.

      Does that help?

      1. skyline*

        I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s okay to drift away from someone. It happens. It’s normal, especially at this time of your life. It isn’t per se about either of you being annoying or disinterested; it’s about having much less common ground to base a friendship on than you once did.
        +1. This was an important realization for me in my late 20s/early 30s. At that time, most of my friends started getting married and having kids, while I remained single and moved to another coast. I wasted a lot of energy being frustrated, angry, and sad about how our friendships were changing. Once I was able to accept that it was okay, I was able to appreciate what friendships remained or what they had become after changing.

    16. KCS*

      I have a 2 toddler but I’m very aware of how uninteresting it can be to hear about how a kid did this for the first time or did that. I actually make an effort to not bore people – childless or with child – with stories about my kid unless it’s a milestone or universally amusing. In fact, I don’t think it’s fair to dominate an entire conversation about anything – whether it’s snowboarding or your kids last diaper change.

      My question is, has Mia always been self-absorbed/self-centered? I had a friend (childless) who talked about herself 100% of the time. For this and other reasons, I no longer talk to her.

      I have very low tolerance for self-centered people, so I’m inclined to end the friendship. I don’t think having a kid is an excuse to dominate a conversation and be one-sided in a friendship. I certainly don’t do it, and I know other moms who don’t do it.

      1. Good_Intentions*

        Original Poster here

        Thank you all so much!

        I truly appreciate the breadth of perspectives and experiences shared among the comments. As always, the Ask a Manager comments have really surpassed my expectations.

        Many of you wisely mentioned that I need to take the lead on having a heart-to-heart discussion with Mia about the communication issues I’m perceiving. The next time we talk, probably later this week, I will diplomatically and compassionately introduce the idea that we should perhaps broaden our list of conversation topics and mention all the wonderful attributes she possesses that make her such a dear friend of mine.

        Again, my sincere gratitude to each of you for taking time to respond so thoughtfully to my queries. It means so much to read about other people’s experiences with changing friendships.

  2. Lamington*

    Has anyone been to any good concerts lately? I saw 311 a few days ago and it was like seeing old friends.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Nothing so far this year…Summerland Tour last year was fantastic. Everclear, Live, Sponge, and Filter in a club venue. So fun. Totally wanted to go again this year but the closest they got was a 4-hour drive. :(

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yes! This year’s free outdoor concert was rained out a few months ago. Tonight I’m going to the other 90s nostalgia concert – Under the Sun.

    2. Beth Anne*

      No but I just bought tickets for Night of Joy at Disney World!!!!!!! But that is a Christian concert series….I’m still excited about it though HA

    3. Kay*

      I just saw a band that reunuted after splitting up a while back. Nickel creek with a great opening act. Holy awkward sentence batman

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      Unfortunately not in the last couple years, but I’ve really enjoyed seeing Indigo Girls, Jess Penner, Dance Hall Crashers, Sara Bareilles, and Aimee Mann in concert.

    5. Tara*

      I went to a rock festival a few weeks ago and saw Billy Talent and Our Lady Peace! I nearly got crushed by crowdsurfers a few times… probably not the best plan for my 5’4″ self to get right in the middle of things.

    6. littlemoose*

      Not much so far this year, but I’ve got tickets later this year for Spoon. Trying to decide if I want to see Iron & Wine as well – I’ve seen tem before, but it was a lot of fun.

      1. Ali*

        Seeing Josh Groban in a few weeks. We don’t get many good concerts where I live so I can’t wait!

    7. GrumpyBoss*

      Used to be a live concert junkie. I moved a year ago to an area that is sort of a musical wasteland. It has been fairly depressing.

    8. Mimmy*

      Saw Queen+Adam Lambert a few weeks ago. Our seats were pretty crappy, but the show was really awesome. There’s no replacing Freddie Mercury, but Adam comes pretty darn close.

    9. Garrett*

      I see way too many concerts. Last weekend I saw Lionel Ritchie, Def Leppard/KISS and The Lovin Spoonful. Yeah I have a variety of tastes.

      Next week seeing Linkin Park/30 Seconds to Mars.

    10. sunflower*

      NIN and Soundgarden at Jones Beach Friday night! Was fantastic, although the. Road was bizarre. :)

      1. Steve*

        I really wanted to see that in Atlanta this week, but I absolutely hate the venue where they are. One of the few places that I basically refuse to see a show. I saw Soundgarden and Chris Cornell’s solo shows when they were here last year and both shows were amazing. Last time I saw NIN was back in 2008.

        I did think NIN and Soundgarden was a bit of an odd pairing since Trent Reznor was so ruthlessly critical of Chris Cornell’s “Scream” album when it came out a few years back. Kinda thought that might have caused long lasting hard feelings.

      2. Anon embarassed*

        Lol – I saw that show at PNC sat night. Opening act was horrific, crowd was interesting, and I was wishing I had at least remembered to wear a black t- shirt instead of the bright top my daughter suggested. NIN was great but not as earth shattering as they were when we last saw him/them 20 yrs ago…

      1. Harriet*

        Hey, if you want a local’s perspective on things to see, feel free to drop me an email – bela.lugosis @

    11. Prickly Pear*

      I saw Yes this week. Yeah, they’re older, but they rocked so hard! I was pleased beyond all expectation.

    12. Anna (and lay off the bananas!)*

      Not since the end of last September — Battlefield Band had a gig in Manhattan. They’re a great live act (though I realize Scottish folk certainly isn’t everyone’s cup of tea), but the venue was a bit of a mismatch, accoustically speaking: brick walls for a group with two bagpipers.

    13. Nancypie*

      I saw sara bareilles recently, and also Sara Mclaughlan. Sara B’s show was the better of the 2, for me.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      Will your office keep it? That would be awesome to have an office kitty if they will!

      1. Gene*

        Once we know someone isn’t searching for their lost cat, it will likely go to its new forever home with one of us. That’s what has happened with the last 4; yes, it’s a recurring problem out here. I currently have 3, so it won’t come home with me.

        Then we’ll start on the other one that is hanging around.

    2. Weasel007*

      How are you so lucky to get an office kitty!! My office would never allow this. Lucky people and lucky cat.

    1. Dan*

      And where does one go to watch this? Netflix has a “saved” icon, which means I ain’t watching it any time soon.

    2. Artemesia*

      so I flipped over to Neflix to see if it was available for streaming — it isn’t, but the first recommended film in the list they suggested when I searched for ‘The One I Love’ was ‘The Human Centipede’ — just seeing that title and knowing about it makes my skin crawl.

      totally weird juxtaposition, I assume.

      1. AndersonDarling*

        Oh no! I watched the human centipede last weekend and each day last week I thought “I wish I never watched that.” It’s pretty dumb, but messed up enough that it will haunt you. Don’t do it!

        I knew there was a reason I was compelled to read Sunday’s comments a day late. :)

          1. salad fingers*

            It seems normal — I’m sure he gets his daily Alison insight fix being your husband :)

          2. Not So NewReader*

            As long as he pays attention when you have a concern, that is the real important part!;)

  3. Persephone Mulberry*

    Did someone on here mention Call the Midwife a week or two ago? (It was probably either here or GFY.) It’s my current Netflix obsession.

      1. Loose Seal*

        My husband liked it but cringed a bit during the delivery of baby scenes. To be fair, though, he cringes at any scene that shows anything overtly medical.

        I have now started saying that things are all “tickety boo” because of this show.

        1. Artemesia*

          My Dad was in the space program and that term was commonly used by engineers — I don’t know if they had some brits who imported it or if it was just one of those Ivy League affectations that leaked into the program.

      2. louise*

        My husband, NOT a softy, puts in headphones and pretends to watch something else when I’m watching it…but then has been caught with his eyes on my screen and *crying* more than once. So apparently dudes like it. :)

      3. AnonyMOOSE*

        My husband will actually watch it with me. He thought it was going to be like Downton Abbey, and rather begrudgingly started watching it with me, but after an episode he was hooked.

    1. Sandy*

      Might have been me. I have been mentioning it everywhere lately. Binge-watched three seasons!

      Make sure you don’t miss the Christmas specials. They are actually key to the story and super-sweet.

  4. hithere*

    How do you make friends as an adult? I have been pushed out of the circle of friends I had in school who still live nearby. I have great friends a ways away but not where I am. I work in a small office with one other person who is nice but busy. I have small children and a husband who works away. I’m very lonely and often very sad.

    1. littlemoose*

      Do you like any of your kids’ friends’ parents? My sister is a stay-at-home mom, and has made friends with a couple of her son’s friend’s moms. She has met them at library kid time and whatnot.

      1. hithere*

        Only one is old enough for preschool but he has special needs so he struggles. We can’t do any of the local library groups with my work schedule.

        I like my kid’s teacher. Teacher has a young child. Is it weird or inappropriate to invite them over?

        1. Dan*

          For friends? Maybe slightly weird as long as your son is her student. Give it a year, then no problems.

        2. Stephanie*

          Yeah, I think it might be a conflict of interest for the teacher at this point. I’d wait until your child gets a new teacher.

          You mentioned one of your kids has special needs. Could you try a support group for parents of kids with that need? As a bonus, the other parents will empathize with all the emotions of having a special needs child.

          1. StudentA*

            Great idea on the support group!

            Another idea is meetup. Ton of groups on there with outings!

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      When you say “small children” how young are you talking? We moved to our neighborhood 2 years ago, and found a wonderful daycare provider who is also very active in the PTO at the local elementary school that my daughter attends. She’ll be in kindergarten this year, after attending preschool there for the last 2 school years.

      2 years ago she asked me to join the fundraising committee for the school auction, which I did. Through this I’ve met many parents who have kids my daughter’s age. She’s made friends with them, and I’ve made friends with quite a few of the other moms.

      1. hithere*

        The oldest is in preschool for special needs children. He will hopefully be okay enough for regular kindergarten and I’ll be able to get involved in his school.

        1. AcademicAnon*

          Maybe there’s a support group for parents of special needs children you could try? Or a local group for special needs children you could volunteer on the weekends at?

        2. Nancypie*

          I made a lot of friends once my kids started school and sports. Volunteering for PTO, or just going and chatting can be really helpful also.

    3. Dan*

      Find people in a similar demographic or interest group. Meetup is your friend. But kids really are a separator.

      I’m the oldest of two. Not that long ago, I asked my dad if it was a coincidence if all of our life-long family friends all had oldest children my age. He said no.

      1. Felicia*

        I second meet up groups! i made one good friend from my Doctor Who group, and another from a Sunday Assembly group. There are so many groups that are so specific, so i’m sure you’ll find something you like. And then after I met them, I am recently making friends through them. Like one will invite me over to play board games with a bunch of other people I don’t know, and then I will become friends with one of the people I meet there

    4. Ben*

      Friends can be over rated. Just saying. I’d look for a life partner if you are single and start a family.
      I know I will get flamed, but I went through OMG I am adult with no friends thing and came out the other end OK.

      I talk to people at work, I lunch with colleagues , I share online but I don’t have any go out to museum friends.
      I am happy by myself, with partner and close family. Just to give you some perspective.

      When I was desperate for friends, and that fake camraderie featured on shows like Friends, I met the worst people and it didn’t go well.

      1. Josie's Vacation*

        I agree with Ben! Friends are too much work. My family doesn’t understand why I like to be by myself. But I keep telling them that I have my own problems and I don’t want to deal with someone else’s drama. I believe needing friends is a weakness. You need to be independent and confident on your own. Friends aren’t going to make you happy and/or fulfilled. Only you can do that!

        1. fposte*

          I’m pretty happy as a fairly solitary liver, but I can’t say I’m on board with the “it’s a weakness” idea. We’re social mammals, and there’s a reason that those of us who have social ties tend to live longer than those of us who don’t. Friends may not make you feel more fulfilled, but they can certainly make people feel less lonely, and that’s the problem hithere said she wants to address.

          1. Bea W*

            I live alone. I’m happy. Having friends to socialize with is a plus. It’s not about feeling “less lonely” for me, since I don’t really feel lonely, but it’s a life enhancement to feel connected to others and be able to exchange ideas, learn from each other, and help each other out from time to time. That can feel fulfilling. We are social creatures, and needing the connection to other is not a weakness at all. It’s normal.

            I personally don’t feel that everyone needs to have a life partner and a start a family, but that desire is normal as well. I find that way more work than friends. It really depends on who you are and what you find personally fulfilling.

            1. Ben*

              I agree…but if you want a friend – in the truest sense- you want a lover unless you are celibate.

              1. fposte*

                No, if *you* want a friend, you want a lover–the rest of us are not all built the same as you.

                People get all kinds of needs met in all kinds of configurations, and the notion that everybody needs only a single romantic coupling to fill their emotional needs is demonstrably untrue.

                1. Felicia*

                  I would love to be in a successful romantic coupling, I do want that, but I also want friends. Because if that single romantic coupling + family was ALL I had, I’d be very unhappy. There’s nothing wrong with wanting friends, and while there are some people who don’t want any, i’d say most people want at least one or 2

                2. Bea W*

                  Exactly! Human needs for companionship and social interaction are complex. There is no one-size-fits all solution.

                  Speaking only for myself, I don’t see lovers and friends as being one and the same. Those are two different kinds of relationships that serve different purposes and fulfill people in different ways. For me, having a lover and not also having friends feels very limiting and lonely, more so than not being in a relationship. Other people find they feel lonely or like they are missing something important in life without having a partner. Neither way is right or wrong. It’s about whatever works for you.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  Additionally, expecting one person to be your everything, be-all and end-all is enormously unfair to that person and to yourself. There is not a single human being out there that offers the comprehensive package as a life-mate/spouse/partner.

                  Yep, there are people out there who confuse sex with companionship. That is true. Sometimes those folks end up wildly disappointed.

                4. Ben*

                  Really? I’d say unless you are a religious and in love with God, than yeah, for most, it is a romantic partner. True few do not need/want such a relationship but VERY few have their needs met through a good friend, maybe a family member.

                5. fposte*

                  What you’re saying there is the converse of what you’ve said above, though (and I still don’t agree with it as universal, but it’s more common). I do think people often feel closer to a romantic partner than they do to a friend, but it’s still pretty darn unusual for people to get all their social and emotional needs met from only a romantic partner and none from friendship. There certainly are some people who are like that, but even most people with romantic partners have friendship needs at the same time.

                6. fposte*

                  I’ll also add that, from what you write above, you haven’t had experience with really good friendships. And hey, maybe it’s not your thing, and that’s totally your call, but it’s kind of like suggesting every city is Gary, Indiana because that’s the only one you’ve ever been to.

        2. Laura*

          I was fine not having friends, was under the belief that I didn’t need them and was fully on board the ‘too hard’ train until I became a stay at home mum and moved to a city where I knew no one. Without the daily interaction of co-workers, family or just random people I saw all the time, I started getting very lonely, particularly when my husband worked long hours. Before that, I never felt the need to get to know anyone better, but once I was staying at home with a young child with just my husband to interact with, I began to see how important other people in my life were.

          I’m still working on building some solid friendships, but I have met quite a few people I spend time with now and then. I go to meetup groups with kids of similar ages and make friends with other parents there. I’ve also met other parents at kid’s activities I attend. It can take some time, but it’s worth it.

    5. Sarahnova*

      There’s really only one way; do stuff that interests you, make chit-chat with people you run across by doing so, and take the risk of asking to take the relationship further. “Hey, I really enjoyed talking about Local Issue with you – want to get coffee some time?” “I have a book about that you might enjoy I could lend you – shall we trade numbers?” “I thought I might arrange a trip to the park this weekend – anyone want to come?”

      You can do this online as well – is there a forum/message board for your local community? Local classes? A Stitch’n’bitch? A blog you really like which has local meetups?

      You will strike out with some people, but being able to take the initiative yourself when you feel a connection is really empowering. It’s worked for me. Also, have lots of phone and Skype dates with your friends who are far away. Good luck!

      1. Artemesia*

        +1 We are in a new town and have been in our current place 1.5 years — we are retired and knew no one except our child here in this town. We now have a lively circle of 2 close friend couples, and about 8 or 9 couples we often do things with. This is much more social life than we ever had when we were both working and raising kids.

        The key is the follow up. I meet someone promising and suggest getting together ‘for dinner some time to check out new places’ or catching a play or movie and then get contact information and follow up. Only once has this gone nowhere when I probably got a little pushy — but the result is we love our social life. Having always been a bit of a loner and having a husband who is also, I have been surprised at how easy this is if you take that first step. Now people ask us; but in most cases I took the first step.

      2. Ben*

        I can only get so far in a friendship unless we avoid any topic that divides- politics, religion, health care nowadays. I tend not to share on those topics and then am assumed negatively or positively to be whatever someone believes. I recall once being told because I wear glasses I am……

        And when I have met those I am in agreement with it there’s no spark of friendship.

        Thinking I had to have adult friends was a real problem for me a few years ago, and a therapist just stared at me blankly as they are known to do- when I asked: does everyone else have friends?

        Children in school do, because it’s school- adults go to work where one is friendly but not friends.
        Adults often have other responsibilities etc. so it’s hard.

        I just wanted to say I don’t think it is unusual to not have friends. And that friends are not solutions to loneliness or depression. I tried that route, did not work.

        I’d try volunteering where you are needed- that is rewarding and you may meet a friend.

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve seen this suggested a couple of times. Just a reminder that not everyone lives in urban areas where there are tons of meet ups to choose from. There are a lot in this place where I currently live, but in OldTown there were like three. I chose one and went and it was so awkward and uncomfortable and strange.

        So it’s not always a solution, depending on where you live.

        1. Childless 2*

          I understand, but OP didn’t say where she lived so it’s a valid suggestion for her to check out and make that determination if she’s interested.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Join a group, if you have the time to do so.
      Join a church, if you feel inclined that way.

      Take the kids for walks regularly. This is a great way to look around and you might meet one or two people. The key here is to go regularly. A random walk here and there won’t work as well.

      Do you have a community garden in your area?

      If you have decent neighbors be sure to strike up a conversation with them when you see them out in their yards. Even if you just exchange pleasantries that is a good start. Compliment them on something. People looove hearing positives about themselves and their property.

      For the short term, do you have free long distance on your phone plan? It might be worth some extra bucks. You can call your long distance friends and family. I am on a tight budget and one of the “treats” I maintain is my free long distance plan. I know I can pick up the phone and hear a friendly, smiling voice.

      Pick several choices and run them all at the same time. This way if one choice isn’t working well today, you can just bump over to another choice.
      And for me, it is easier to look for acquaintances. Learn people’s names. The friendships grow out of just being acquainted.

    7. fluffy*

      How is your health? Depressiion can sound like lonely annd sad. Other suggestion, especially about getting out and walking are great, but a thorough checkup can’t hurt

    8. FD*

      Is it practical to join any group activities? I find that helps a lot in finding people with common interests.

      I also find that a lot of my closest friendships are formed online, in communities of people with like interests. My girlfriend and I met that way. :)

      1. Artemesia*

        Meetup is great for that as the people who join are often newcomers to town looking to meet people and so are open. In several of the meetup groups I have participated in, the events have been fun but there was no obvious options for further friendship (distance, age etc) But I have also met one of my two closest friends in this new town through meet ups and a couple of couples we occasionally do things with.

    9. BB*

      You can also take recreational classes to meet people. Even joining a professional association. That way you can network and make friends.

    10. BB*

      I’ve noticed this in a few places here, but how do I italicize/underline/bold a word in my comment?


    11. Camellia*

      “I’m very lonely and often very sad.”

      Please see your family doctor. This could be depression, which will exacerbate any normal feelings of stress, loneliness, etc. You say your husband “works away”. Does that mean travel, or gone for long stretches of time so that you are having to function as a single parent? That can add stress too. A checkup with your doctor can help eliminate other causes or get the appropriate help if needed.

  5. Steve G*

    The whole Gen X vs. Millenials Thing – Who is Even Who??

    There have been alot of articles about “millenials” lately? My question is – who is a millenial, in terms of year of birth – and what is gen X, in terms of year of birth? I can’t find an agreement on the years of millenials or Gen X on the internet.

    One thing I have noticed is that they are making the millenial generation bigger and bigger, and now I see it going back to 1977, which is just weird to me. It seems weird that anyone born in 82 or 81 or earlier gets lumped in with the kids of the 90s and 00s. I mean, if you were born in 82 or 78 or whatever you remember some to most of the years of the 80s and had a record player as a young kid and didn’t get internet until the end of HS or college and your first date was with someone you met in person (not someone you met online), etc…..

    I’m also very confused because much of the music/tv shows attributed to Gen X happened in the late 80s/90s, but then some things from the same time frame are attributed to millenials?! If this stuff is based on years, then shouldn’t there not be an overlap? For example, I’ve seen Heathers (89) attributed to gen X but saved by the bell started in 89 but is called a millenial show. Both target young people. So how can they be in the same year and belong to different generations?

    Help please!

    1. Beth Anne*

      I TOTALLY AGREE!! I feel like it is WAY TOO BIG. I also hate all these articles that say “EVERYONE in the millennial generation is lazy” that is such an awful generalization about a generation.

      1. Steve G*

        Yes the “millenials are lazy” or “you need a guide to work with a millennial” stuff is ridiculous. I only see one difference from older folks and millenials – that millenials rely too much on email, and need to get getter talking on the phone. So if I wrote the 1000 articles on yahoo and slate about the differences between millenials and boomers or whoever, they’d be very short.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’m going with born between 1982 and 2000 as Millennials. Gen X is pretty much anything after Baby Boomer but before Millennial.

      1. Dan*

        I was born in ’79, and my brother in ’82. When you’re 2.5 years apart, it’s really hard to think we’re in different generations. My PARENTS and us are in different generations. My brother and I are not. Hell, thinks my parents (born in ’49 and ’52) are TWO generations apart from my brother. They’re old, I’ll admit, but not THAT old.

        Yet every “millennial” definition splits the two of us apart. BS. I write software code for a living, and you always have to test boundary conditions. Generational differences fall apart at the boundaries.

        1. abankyteller*

          It gets hairy like that. My grandfather was born in ’41 and my grandmother in ’46. Technically he’s the tail end of the Silent Generation and she’s among the first Baby Boomers. Similarly my parents are split with the end of the boomers and the beginning of Gen X. You’ve gotta draw the line somewhere though.

        2. Boomer*

          If you and your parents are considered 2 generations apart I wonder where that puts me? Spouse and I are ’54 and ’55, children are ’85, ’89, and ’95. There are times I’m sure my 3 are in 3 different generations themselves. For those who are the edges of the generations I think where you fall as a lot to dowith when you started being a “real adult” (job, not living at home, marriage)

        3. Steve G*

          I was born in ’81 and my mom in ’48 and dad in ’52. He was only 28 1/2 when I was born, so yes, it is ridiculous to think we’d be 2 generations apart!

        4. Anonymous Educator*

          I fully agree. I wasn’t trying to say 1982 is a hard-and-fast boundary. Obviously, you can’t have any hard-and-fast boundaries. My point was more that I don’t think it makes sense at all for someone born in 1977 to be considered a Millennial. Obviously, the closer you are to the boundary, the fuzzier the boundary becomes, but setting no boundaries also means you basically are talking about nothing.

    3. Stephanie*

      I’m solidly a Millennial (’86) and even I feel disconnected from the later end of the Millennial Generation (kids born in the late 90s).

      1. Dan*

        God you make me feel old. See above.

        And if you can’t figure out what year I am, it doesn’t matter, ’cause I’m still old.

                1. fposte*

                  Maybe a generational difference is not caring what generation I’m considered to be :-). I think the generation labels have more merit with groups than with individuals, because individual experience is so variable on message and expectation and experience. I’m probably more shaped by Vietnam and Watergate than the post-war prosperity and optimism, but I also benefited from the post-war prosperity. Maybe I’m a Xoomer.

              1. fluffy*

                ’52 (so get off my county). I don’t feel like a boomer, I feel like a glacial ridge. I say, look at the technology. I’m at home with email. Smart phones? Not so much

                1. fposte*

                  Ha. And I think Artemesia may have us further beat. I actually would love a smart phone but I have to buy a new roof before I’m willing to let go of my $100 a year pay as you go.

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            Nope. You were born the year I graduated HS and I’m not old, so your point is MOOT. Moot I say! I refuse to be defined by a number.

      2. littlemoose*

        Same here (’83). I was at a family party earlier tonight and my young cousin, in her early 20s, had a lot of her friends there. I actually said to my folks that there are no way those kids are my contemporaries. They made me feel kinda old!

        1. Dan*

          I don’t pay any attention to the designators. People on the boundaries certainly share common generational themes, but people on opposite ends of the same generation certainly don’t.

          Some interns gave a presentation at work on Friday about what “millennials” want from a work environment. They talked about open space and what not. Does that mean those over 33 are stuck in a cube?

          1. Felicia*

            I am in my early 20s and never ever want an open space. Most of my same aged friends tend towards the introvert side of things so they wouldn’t want one either. I think any “what this whole generation wants” things are stupid. I think generational designations are far more about shared experiences, and then each individual within that generation reacts to those experiences differently.

        2. abankyteller*

          I think that the technology boom has played a huge role in that. I’m an early millennial and I identify more with late Gen X 10 years older than another millennial 10 years younger. Things are warp speed now. Older millennials didn’t carry cell phones all the time but the kids born in the late 90s already have them.

      3. Felicia*

        I personally think anything more than a decade is too far apart to label as a unit (or to have had cohesive experiences). I think being able to remember a time before the internet and not being able to should be a generational divider. I was born in 1990 and I can’t remember a time before the internet, when presumably someone born in the early 80s would remember that. When the term millenial was first invented, it was for people significantly older – I believe it was originally anyone who was a teenager in 2000. They just never ended it, which makes no sense in a world that moves so quickly. I’ve also heard it being defined as how old you were when 9/11 happened…if you were old enough to remember, but had not yet an adult (so currently between about 18 – 30, roughly) then you’re considered a distinct generation. I personally think it should be divided, so one generation would be 1980-1990, and the other 1991-2000. I would be between the two, but things change so quickly that the years need to be closer. I think using the internet as a dividing line is also a good one – we used the internet at school since I was in kindergarten, which was 1995, and I’d say that is a significant difference. I’ve also noticed a lot of people who are technically millenials will pretend like they’re not because it has such a bad and unfair connotation.

        1. Steve G*

          I think the “it never ended thing” is part of the problem. The “how do you remember 9/11” thing I also saw when trying to get the answer on this just led to more confusion……

          Also, I am questioning this because being born in 1981, it’s not that I have a problem with the concept of the millennial thing. In first grade we had tshirts made “last class of the century” and I thought it was cool. It’s only been the past few years, living and working in NYC, now that people as much as 11 years younger than me are getting adult jobs, that I think the borders don’t make sense.

          I remember in the 80s, people being more conservative and shocked at things that were a lot less crazy than miley cyrus…..then the early 90s being about safe sex, the obesity epidemic, people being surprised about how “hard” rap music was once it went mainstream and being surprised that their were curse words, then the decline in religious affiliation in the US (in some parts)…as an early teenager, I remember the rise of the mc-mansion…then as a late teenager watching mom-and-pop stores in my area go out of business as those mega-stores started to take over the world…then using the internet the first time in probably 1998 for schoolwork, at school, and there was nothing really on the internet to use! I don’t remember the internet having enough stuff on it to be useful until 2001. Also, during my first office job in 2001, I was still on the phone all the time because so many people didn’t check their emails.

          So when I go to lunch with a coworker 5 years younger than me or whatever, and they are like “our generation” – I really don’t want to be condescending like older folks were to me when I was younger like “oh that was before your time,” but I think that they think our formative years were the same, and they were not…and that changes our views on the world.

          1. Loose Seal*

            I’ve seen the question “How did John Kennedy die?” as the one to tell what generation one would fall in. If you answer “assassinated,” you’re Gen X. If you answer “plane crash,” you’re a Millennial.

            1. Felicia*

              I’m definitely a Millennial, and I would say assassinated – When John Kennedy Jr. died, I would have been 9, but I don’t remember it at all. I think because I was a little too young to follow the news, and maybe it’s because I’m Canadian, but I don’t think it was as big news here, and it wasn’t really considered a “generation defining” event. There are really few events like that.

            2. Steve G*

              That isn’t a good question because JK Jr. wasn’t a president, I think he was running a magazine when he died. You can’t expect people born in the 90s to know who he was.

              1. Felicia*

                I think most people born in the 90s would have heard of him – but only because his dad was president. I don’t think his death compares in any way to his father’s in terms of significance or impact. I’m not American so this wasn’t true for me, but presumably Americans born in the 90s would have learned about JFK’s assassination in history class? His son’s assassination is not history class worthy. .

                1. Loose Seal*

                  His son wasn’t assassinated. He went down in a plane crash.

                  The point is that generational divides are not decided in history class. It’s what makes a personal impression on you. My mother remembers what she was doing on the day JFK died. I remember where I was when the space shuttle exploded. The next generation’s defining moment is (probably) 9/11. Eventually, little kids today will get their first defining moment. I think that’s how generations are divided.

                2. Stephanie*

                  @Loose Seal

                  I was 15 when 9/11 happened. My last class of the day was journalism and our teacher was like “This is y’all’s Kennedy Assassination.” He talked about how the Kennedy Assassination defined his generation and how he remembered exactly where he was.

              2. Loose Seal*

                John Jr. was a celebrity, though. And pretty handsome with what seemed like a charmed life (other than the deaths in his family, of course). I think that it was a great shock when his plane went down and for many millennials, this would have been their first televised tragedy and it would have stuck in their minds so much that the history lesson of JFK’s assassination would not have immediately sprung to mind.

                1. Felicia*

                  Maybe for American millenials (though you’d have to ask one of them) but certainly not for me. It probably wasn’t on TV nearly as much here, and I didn’t watch the news when I was a kid so the only news I would have seen would have been the “interrupt your regularly scheduled broadcasting” kind, which that wasn’t.

                  My first televised tragedy was when Princess Diana died, and that memory is fuzzy. But the coverage of that wasn’t solely on the news, I remember it being on channels that were supposed to be playing other things.

                  JFK Jr.s death wasn’t really covered much in the years after it happen, where with Princess Diana, or with JFK’s assassination, or with 9/11 there is repetition pretty much every anniversary on television.

                  I actually didn’t know he died in the plane crash – I mean I knew but I had to think about it. But I certainly don’t have any memories of it. I think it depends how old you are when you start watching the news – and if you were 5 or younger you probably wouldn’t remember at all either way. I just don’t think it was significant enough to permeate to the “too young to normally watch the news” crowd. Just compared to Princess Diana’s death 2 years earlier, it didn’t have nearly the attention.

            3. Stephanie*

              Growing up in Dallas, I’d say assassinated (Millennial). But that’s due to many school trips to the Sixth Floor Museum.

            4. De Minimis*

              I know JFK Jr.’s death was a big news story that year, but did it really have that big an impact? I would guess many Millennials wouldn’t even remember it.

              And for many GenX people like me, the Kennedy assassination is a historical event that happened before we were born. Even the older GenXers probably are too young to actually remember it.

              I like the idea of Internet use as a dividing line. If you can’t remember a time before the Internet, you’re probably a Millenial. When I first got on the net, there was very little commercial activity and it was still predominantly colleges, universities, and government agencies. The web was just getting started and I think browsers were still in really early stages.I remember seeing the first ad giving a web address and thinking it was really odd.

              1. Felicia*

                I don’t think JFK Jr’s death had a big impact, and I can’t remember it.

                It of course remembers how early you’re able to remember and when your school/community/home got internet, but it’s a pretty good one. My earliest memory of the internet was playing and asking jeeves very childish questions at the school library when I was in 1st grade :)

                I think if you have to use a historical event then 9/11 works as a dividing line. I think if you were old enough to remember at the time but had not yet graduated highschool, then you’re probably a millenial. That would put the birth years as (roughly) 1984-1995. I think it’s significant, generationally, to have that happen when we were kids.

        2. Bea W*

          I think being able to remember a time before the internet and not being able to should be a generational divider. I was born in 1990 and I can’t remember a time before the internet, when presumably someone born in the early 80s would remember that.

          This makes me think of what separate my generations from my parents’ generation. We don’t remember a time before color TV and movies.

          My brother and I are 6 years and 2 months apart (beginning and end of the 70s), and there is a list of things I remember not having whereas he was too young to really remember anything differently
          1. Cable TV
          2. VCRs
          3. Home gaming consoles & home computers (the early ones – Commodore 64, TRS-80, early Apple)
          4. Seatbelts (they existed, but weren’t in wide use until laws were passed)
          5. 21 as the legal drinking age (up from 18)
          6. Microwave ovens
          7. Cordless phones
          8. Unleaded gas being the only choice at gas stations

            1. Bea W*

              Yup, all of those things became common in the early-mid 80s. He was technically alive, but too young to remember living without them, and I remember when they were all exciting, shiny, and new and not common.

          1. Bea W*

            Things we both remember:
            1. Landline phones
            2. Postal mail
            3. Typewriters
            4. The USSR
            5. Writing checks to pay for things

            1. Steve G*

              As per #3 on this list…the fall of communism was the first news story I really remember following because they kept showing people jumping across the Berlin wall:-).

              1. Bea W*

                He probably really only remembers #4 much because his oldest sister was terrified of nuclear war, an early peace activist, studied Russian, had a pen pal in Moscow, and visited. His response to that was to hang US flags on the outside of his bedroom door and signs that said “America #1”. (As we were all properly taught!) :D Otherwise, he wouldn’t really have been at an age where he was following world politics at all. He literally turned 11 days before that happened.

            2. Bea W*

              I forgot about cassette tapes! He also doesn’t remember the Super8, the projector, and the huge roll up screen we used to have that my parents would drag out of the closet at family gatherings. We got a VHS video camera a few years after he was born. The only Super 8 film we have of him is as a baby.

      4. CanadianDot*

        I totally agree. I was born in 84, I’m now in my 30s, and I feel like there’s a pretty big divide. Maybe in 30 years, it won’t be such a big gap, but at this point, it feels strange being lumped in with them.

      5. Anx*

        I feel very disconnected. A Millenial: Vol 2 asked me what my phone was the other day. It sounds like a bad joke about generational differences, but he had never seen a flip-phone before.

        I think there have been several big differences between Volume 1 (80s babies/90s kids) and Volume 2 (90s babies/00s kids). By the time 9/11 happened, the first wave had finished their childhood. But their was a major shift during the teen years. Similarly, there was another major shift after high school/college for many of them –the economic crash.

        Obviously those things will affect all millenials, but the age at which those shifts happen makes a big difference in any generational differences, in my opinion.

        1. Felicia*

          I think those 2 things are very good differentiators between Millenials Vol. 1 and Vol 2 as you call them :) I’d probably be smack dab in he middle of those 2 volumes as when 9/11 happened I was 11 so not entirely finished my childhood but closer to a teen than anythiing and teh economic crash happened when I was 18 and just finished highschool. I’d say those were generation defining events. I consider myself a 90s kid because during the 90s, I was 0-9 , but I had a couple of years of the tail end of childhood in the early 00s , and wouldn’t remember the earliest 90s.

    4. Tara*

      Gen X is supposed to be early 60s to early 80s.
      Millennials is early 80s to early 2000s.

      I’m ’97 so technically a millennial child but there’s obviously a huge disconnect between me and someone born in say ’81!

    5. Nina*

      I always considered the millennial generation to be 1980-1995. Which seems huge, IMO, but I can’t see the kids born after ’95 (Generation Z) to be in the same mindset. I was born in ’84, and I already feel old whenever I see high school kids.

      I don’t even pay attention to the “millennials are lazy!” stereotype anymore. Honestly, I think every generation gets branded like that at some point.

      1. abankyteller*

        I’m close to your age and I’m tired of the stereotype too. I’ve only ever heard it from older people so I wish I could go down to their level and complain how Baby Boomers are techno-illiterate but I don’t.
        Most generations span 20 years. Gen Z supposedly starts in 2000.

      2. Sabrina*

        The up and coming generation is always called lazy by older generations. Gen Xers were called slackers. In truth I know more lazy baby boomers than anything, but that’s probably because there is just more of them.

        1. Bea W*

          Not only are there more of them, but they are reaching retirement age. Everyone reaches some point in his life where he just says “Fckit! It’s time to slow down.”

    6. abankyteller*

      I just noticed that none of us are answering the second part of your question. I’d assume the film would target slightly older audiences than the show. If you think about Full House and Family Matters, two shows from the same era, I think Family Matters targeted more older kids and families than Full House. It also depends on how long shows run too. I was younger than the target demographic when Friends came out, but I was old enough to enjoy it in its later seasons and lots of people my age get nostalgic for it.

      The pop culture generation angle would be an interesting study.

      1. Nina*

        The movies are interesting, too. Reality Bites is considered the quintessential film for Gen Xers, but Clueless came out the following year, which was a success and signified a major cultural shift between Gen X and Gen Y.

        1. Steve G*

          OMG every website about this talks about Reality Bites, like it is the best movie ever. It was an OK movie. And this confuses me yet again, because I was 13 when it came out and got the story but it is considered a Gen X thing. So I guess I’m supposed to just pretend I never saw it.

          But personally I didn’t like it. Even as a kid I hated grunge and all of the “woh is me, life is hard, no one understands me” crap. Music was so upbeat in the 80s and then the grunge movement was so depressing…

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think it’s that people think it’s such a great movie, but rather that it captured a specific feeling and way of life that felt so much like us at the time. I remember feeling like I was watching myself and my friends when it came out (I’m 41 now; I was 21 when it came out). I watched it again recently and was like, “why did I love this so much?”

            1. Felicia*

              I think there are some movies you have to watch when they first come out , and be at a certain age when you watch them, or you’re not going to get an appeal. I think a lot of iconic 80s movies that came out before I was born fit with this. Like Labyrinth, Princess Bride or Goonies – I watched all 3 as an adult since they originally came out before I was born, and I watched them because people who would have been kids in the 80s told me how awesome they are. When I watched them for all of them I was thinking “I really don’t understand this movie and I can’t understand the appeal”. Had I been a kid when I watched them, or had I experienced the 80s i may have liked them better.

              1. Steve G*

                Add to the list Legend, with Tom Cruise. I mean, if you want to watch a fantasy movie meant for kids.

            2. Steve G*

              I never really felt that way about a movie. When I was 21, in 2002, I felt like there weren’t a lot of movies coming out about normal life. Movies were and continue to be filled with very over-the-top stories or too much special effects, not many stories about normal things…unless you want to watch made-for-tv movies.

          2. Nina*

            I hated Reality Bites, btw. I’ve been told that I didn’t get it because it wasn’t my generation, but frankly, those kids were brats. Ethan Hawke’s character was an arrogant jerk who was stringing Winona Ryder along.

      2. Steve G*

        I think those can be early-millennial shows. But I am always feeling out of place as a border-year because when I was in the 6-10 range my shows were: Growing Pains, the tail end of Facts of Life, Kate and Allie, 227, My Two Dads, Family Ties, Who’s the Boss, Charles in Charge, Head of the Class, Mr. Belvedere, Hogan Family, Just the 10 of us, ALF, Rags to Riches, Punky Brewster, and Small Wonder, and Different Strokes (though it was reruns by then I think). You could throw in Cosby+Different World in there but I didn’t really like those shows.

        First thought is: wow we watched too much TV.

        But my point/question is: what is confusing about this list is that many of these are on the “Gen X” list of websites on the topics. So I’m a millennial but I watched Gen X shows when they first came out, not in reruns. See how that can be very confusing and make people in outlying years feel like they don’t belong?!?!?!?

        So when I am with other millenials 4-5 years younger than me and we reminisce about pop culture, we reminisce about completely different things. I think part of the problem was that the 80s and 90s were so different, but…it does make me feel like I don’t belong

        1. Anx*

          Maybe they are making an assumption that if you were too young when you watched it, it wasn’t really part of your culture. Or that people only watch what is targeted to them.

          I’m plainly an 80s Gen Y baby, but ALF was a pretty big deal to me. Yes, my age affected the way in which I liked it, and I’m sure a lot of the humor went over my head. But I had an ALF doll and loooved ALF and still love alien things.

          A lot of shows that were about high school and college aged people I watched as a child. People 5-10 years older than me don’t seem to get that and wonder how I know about ‘their shows.’

        2. cuppa*

          I think there’s an influence from your family and environment growing up, too. I am the youngest of four, born in the very beginning of the Millennials (’84) but to early boomers (’46 and ’47) and my older siblings are all solidly Generation X. I grew up hearing my parents talk about the JFK assassination and the impact it had on their lives, and watched Gen-X shows with my older siblings. I married a Gen-X person and really feel a bit more like a Gen X person even though I’m technically a Millennial. But, I can see someone born in my same year being born to an early Gen-Xer and having younger siblings or being a only child feeling much more Millennial.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      These lines keep moving. I am a baby boomer- so I have been watching the baby boomer line move. It used to be that Boomers were from 1946-60. Last I read it’s 1964, now. I am sure someone here will comment that they have seen yet another date. The dates just keep changing.

      1. Boomer*

        A generation is considered twenty years and I always considered boomers to be mid ’40s to mid 60’s. Siblings and I are boomers with an outlier. (’55, ’57, ’59, ’61 and ’66). The ’66 is definitely a different generation.

        1. Kay*

          I really think 20 yrs is just too long for a generation. Someone who is 18 has completely different formative years, completely different background from someone who is 1 yr old. If I were in charge of generations, I would just name them after decades and have them be 10 years. I don’t really consider myself a “millenial”. I was in high school in 2000, but I think there’s a missing cohort between GenX and the millenials. I know, my personal preferences aren’t going to change how the generational thing is done, but I just had to share.

          1. Felicia*

            I think 20 years used to be (maybe) ok for a generation, but things change so much more quickly now. Generation Y and Millenial are used interchangeably, but I think it should be something like Generation Y = people born in the 80s, Millenial = people born in the 90s (or the other way around, whatever). Being born 3 months into 1990 I’d probably feel on the border between those 2 (maybe closer to the 80s, because I think I remember things from earlier in my life, more clearly than the average person, and when I was a kid I was always told I was old for my age), but still that’s a better differentiation

            1. De Minimis*

              I remember there always seemed to be a huge gap between GenX people my age and the older ones born during the 60s.

    8. GrumpyBoss*

      The generational thing fascinates me. I’m sure I’ll get flamed here, but I do see some key differences between boomers/gen xers/millennials in the office environment, specifically around how they like to communicate. The shared experiences of a generation that results in comfort with text message vs face to face communication are fascinating to me.

      I was born in 1972 (gen X) My brother was born in 1982 (millennial). It is amazing how many of the generational stereotypes are true across both of us (not the slacker/entitled crap…that is just stupid). But it is obviously something other than our home environment that resulted in different expectations and behaviors.

      As to the years, I’d say anything after 1980 is millennial.

      1. Hillary*

        I’m on the edge between gen x and millennial and definitely identify with gen x. I’m not the supervisor, but I spend a lot of time coaching our ops team (almost all millennials) to pick up the phone if they’re asking our vendors to do something. They don’t always understand that it helps, particularly with boomers. The manager and supervisor are working on it too, I’m helping their efforts.

        I’ve taught three interns how to dial long distance.

        1. Steve G*

          The irony of the afraid-to-call thing is: millenials are supposed to be used to getting things now, at the click of a button. But since many are afraid of calling people and rely heavily on emails…..when I follow up with younger coworkers on stuff I get a lot of “I am waiting for an answer on x from Mr. A and on Y from Mr. B.” It’s like, you don’t need to wait for answers, you can call that person and talk to them NOW! And move on with your work….with the added bonus that you’ve built a little rapport. Some times I need to walk over and talk to those coworkers mid-dramatic-email exchanges. Everything else aside, sometimes my wrists hurt from typing so many darn emails…it’s like “come together and talk people!!”

          1. Anx*

            I really dislike the phone for the most part and do prefer email. That said, the phone can certainly be difficult.

            I get frustrated with people who think the phone is always better or faster than email, because email lets me read. I process information much better when I can read it than over the phone. On the phone, I feel bad for interrupting (because it IS rude), but without a face to read it’s hard to know when I can jump in and say I’m not following. I know Boomers that try to coordinate schedules/give non-urgent directions/etc. on the phone and Millenials who email about a simple time-sensitive task.

            For me the phone issues are not generational so much as being very sensitive about my voice (it’s high, therefore feminine, which makes me feel self-conscious) and having a difficult time with auditory processing (I prefer to read a textbook and ask questions later than attend a lecture, for example)

    9. Anon*

      Regarding Saved by the Bell, a lot of us older millenials (I was born in late 86) watched it on reruns as kids in the mid-90s. That is why we fondly remember it as one of “our” shows even though we were busy watching Barney or whatever when it was first on.

    10. Nancypie*

      Makes sense to me. Heathers was geared towards teens and Saved by the Bell was watched by younger kids. That could be where the generational split was, as I (gen x) love heathers but did not ever watch SBTB.

    1. Dan*

      I thought people older than 12 aren’t supposed to be excited about the Mouse unless they have kids with them.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I went to Disney World right before I graduated from college. Still an A++ experience. My mom also had a blast.

        1. abankyteller*

          If I’d had my say I would have honeymooned there. Disney is for the young and the young at heart. I’ll get there someday.

          1. Elkay*

            We went in 2007 then again for our honeymoon in 2009, we’re going again next December. I’m so excited. For the record, we don’t have kids, don’t plan to have kids but Disney holidays have been some of our best.

      2. Nina*

        I went to Disney World as a kid and I would go back in a minute. So much fun. I would even have breakfast with Mickey and Minnie this time, assuming I woke up early enough to do so. :)

        1. Beth Anne*

          I live within a 2 hour drive. 2 years ago I had an annual pass and went over 20 times but I lost my job and had to stop going. I’m going for the weekend for a concert series they have :)

          I would LOVE to get married at disney or honeymoon there but we’ll see what happens :)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’ve never been–my ex has and was talking about taking me there and to HP Orlando, but then he dumped me and took someone else. :P

            Screw him; I’m going to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio tour in England. The real deal, not some theme park! #nerd

      3. Bea W*

        Tell that to my Dad who bought a house 6 miles outside of Disney world and raves about how he loves it. His wife once surprised him with a 50th birthday trip to Hawaii, and he insisted he wanted to go to Disney World instead.

        Disclaimer: My dad should not be used as any benchmark of “normal”.

          1. Bea W*

            I wish my mother had agreed! She refused to let us go on Space Mountain. *pout*

            I haven’t been to Disney in 30 years, just as Epcot had opened. A friend and I have a trip planned for next year. The accommodations are free, so we can splurge all our money on the parks. She’ll even let me ride the roller coasters!

    2. Kmc*

      We’re going there for a week in October & we’re so excited! We went a couple years ago with out niece, but this time it’s adults only! :)

    3. Anonyby*

      Lucky!! I want to go!!

      Hmm… Once I (eventually) get a FT job with PTO, I might need to bug Best Friend about a possible trip…

  6. Stephanie*

    Friend situation I’m trying to navigate. So, as many of the regular commenters know, I’ve had a pretty long job search. I was talking to a friend the other day and she started saying “You just need to be positive and sell yourself! And at least you’re not homeless!” I suppose I heard one too many platitudes about staying positive and how I’ll miss this time once I’m employed again (no) and should take time to focus and relax and I snapped and got all ranty.

    Admittedly, I can be somewhat of a pessissmist, I just get exasperated that the default advice to a tough situation is “Just stay positive!” when it’s like “Can I be legitimately upset by my crappy situation and not have my feelings minimized? Sometimes I just need to vent. I’m not necessarily always in the dumps.”

    Back to the friend. So I do want to apologize because I didn’t mean to get all snippy when she was trying to help, but I do also want to say that advice like “Hey, just stay positive! At least you’re not a homeless, crippled Somali orphan” isn’t particularly reassuring. Advice?

    1. Beth Anne*

      UGH so I’ve been job searching as well and my sister said the EXACT SAME THING to me and now we joke that she thinks she is a life coach. At the time I had only been job searching for maybe a month! The thing is you can’t be confident and positive if you don’t get an interview….it’s kind of hard to show that on a resume/cover letter/piece of paper.

      I also HATE people that get mad at you for being sad/mad/angry. I feel like everyone has the right to be sad/mad/angry as long as they aren’t breaking laws in the process.

      1. CC*

        Another job hunter here, many months after the layoff. Yes, absolutely, everyone has the right to be sad, frustrated, angry, and everything else that shows up during times like this.

        I’ve generally tried to stop telling people entirely that I’m unemployed, but sometimes (such as during the “normal” workday) people ask. I know you’re supposed to tell everyone you’re looking because who knows where a friend of a neighbour’s cousin knows of an opening, but all I’ve ever got out of telling random acquaintances is the unhelpful kind of advice. The “tell everyone” method probably works better when you’re not specialized into a sub-field of an already small engineering field. Usually when somebody asks what I do, they glaze over about three words in, usually right after they register the words “chemical engineer”.

        One lady even cheerfully told me that when she was unemployed, she went skiing at [local expensive ski resort] nearly every day and I should get out and do fun stuff like that, and enjoy my unemployment time. Clearly her “funemployment” check wasn’t needed to keep a roof over her head.

    2. Nina*

      Ugh, I hate the “things can always be worse” argument. It’s a passive-aggressive way to trivialize your problems, regardless of their severity. “Worse” is subjective, anyway. What’s bad for someone can be a cakewalk to someone else.

      And being positive…yeah, that doesn’t always work. There are numerous factors preventing people from finding work, and if a cheery attitude would close the deal, unemployment would be a thing of the past by now.

      You can apologize for snapping at her, but let her know that phrases like that not only hurt, they don’t help matters. Like you said, sometimes people just need to vent, and if she has an issue with that, than she should say so, not throw out silly cliches that will only upset you further. Job hunting is stressful, especially when you’ve been doing it for a long time with no luck.

      1. Bea W*

        HR used that argument / brush off at my last job where Big Boss was a known bully. It was infuriating. Just because “it could be worse” doesn’t mean that it’s not already really bad or that the conditions people are under are acceptable. It’s also hard to think of what could be worse, when you’re at the point where being fired starts looking like a desirable outcome.

        When someone tells me not to feel a certain way, they risk being the victim of multiple stab wounds by tongue. Oh hell no! I’m already upset, and I was able at to the think before speaking, that that disables whatever self restraint I had left. Some things are upsetting, and feeling upset about them is a normal human response.

    3. abankyteller*

      “Hi friend. I really appreciate you being here for me and I wanted to apologize for snapping at you. I’ve just heard the ‘just stay positive!’ line so many times that it’s no longer constructive, and I had reached my breaking point with hearing that particular piece of advice. I’m sorry, I know you’re just trying to help.”

      I’m glad you are wanting to have a conversation about it. Good luck on your search!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        This is perfect. There’s an apology in there, and also the issue of the “just stay positive” platitude is addressed but not in a snotty way.

        1. abankyteller*

          Thank you, I appreciate that! I just wish I could be this direct with people in my own life.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yes. Responses that start with “just” tend to be taken as dismissive of the person’s feelings. That may not be what your friend intends, so talking with her about it may help her see how you are feeling about it.

        1. CC*

          I’ve seen that described in a few different ways, none of them contradictory.

          As you said, responses that start with “just” are dismissing the person’s feelings (or dismissing the difficulty they’re having).

          Responses that start with “just” assume that the first, most obvious thing that popped into the responder’s head is not only the correct answer, but also that the person with the problem couldn’t think of it on their own.

          Responses that start with “just” assume both that the problem has a simple solution and that the person with the problem has access to all the tools necessary to implement it safely. (I’m including skills, both mental and physical, in “tools”, and I’m including harmful situational and mental effects such as “losing your job due to a boss who reacts badly” in “safely”.)

          Responses that start with “just” are usually completely misunderstanding the actual problem.

          (I have been trying very, very hard to eliminate “just” from my vocabulary since I learned this.)

    4. Dan*

      I won’t touch the friend advice, but you have a right to your negative feelings. In this country, we seem to not want to allow people to play them out. I don’t know why. We have to pretend to be happy.

      I went through three periods in my life where I had no job. It sucked. And I’m not going to tell you what my “at least you didn’t/weren’t/aren’t…” was.

      No you can’t enjoy it. You have no job. You have no money. You’re stressed about staying with the ‘rents any longer than absolutely necessary.

      So vent away, ’cause it does suck.

      P.S. At least you’re single. You cold be married with a kid and a husband with no job, all living at your parents.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I know about the “be happy” thing–it’s very annoying. I was watching An Idiot Abroad on Netflix and in the Route 66 one, Karl Pilkington said something about how a good whinge makes everything better. You HAVE to get those feelings out sometimes. I remember thinking, “How right you are, brother.” Though I’m mostly cheerful and try to be optimistic, sometimes I need to vent, and it bugs me when people tell me to cheer up instead of acknowledging that it’s okay to be upset about X or Y.

        Barbara Ehrenreich wrote a whole book about how relentless positivity and its (associated magical thinking) is killing America. It’s called Bright-sided. An interesting read.

    5. littlemoose*

      I just wanted to empathize with you. I felt the same way when I went through a long stretch of underemployment, and I was incredibly discouraged. I remember telling a friend that it wasn’t that I thought my life would magically be perfect when I got a job, but that I was ready for different problems, because I was sick of my current ones.

      I’m kind of on the other side now – I posted recently about having a friend in a rocky work situation (and has been for a while) and not knowing how to keep being supportive. Since this has been the situation for you for a while, maybe she’s just out of things to say? It might be helpful for you to tell her, “I just need to vent a little, I don’t want advice” (if that’s true). She might feel relieved if you let her know you’re not looking for novel ideas from her.

    6. ProductiveDyslexic*

      Interesting article in yesterday’s Guardian magazine about how unhelpful these kind of comments are, when you are in a situation where it’s totally normal and legitimate to feel annoyed or sad or whatever and feel like you need space to vent.

    7. Loose Seal*

      This is exactly what I think when people are quick to say “first world problems” in response to a random complaint. I think we all know, regardless of our own circumstances, that there are people who are having it worse than us. It doesn’t make our complaint less valid to us, though.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bingo. Exactly. Just because a problem is not big to someone else does not automatically make it smaller for us.

        My problems are big to me and other people’s problems are big to them.

        I have done that, I have said, “Well, I have a roof over my head and food on my table.” I read some where that if you have a house and a car you are among the top 1% richest people in the world. Oh yeah, I feel better now. NOT.

        Yeah, apologize to the friend for the snappy words. But privately, realize that this friend is not going to be a lot of help. Look for other people who are willing to discuss the particulars of your setting with you. There is no friend that offers the comprehensive package of all the desirable qualities a friend should have. Sometimes people that you meet in passing will offer advice that is 1000 times more helpful than what any of your friends think of to say. Watch out for those people you meet on a casual basis.

        A couple weeks ago, I stopped to buy gas. A stranger at the next pump over said, “hey, lady your tire looks a little low.” Yikes, was it ever! How come my friends never noticed that day??? Who knows. The guy might have saved my life. A simple example but you get the idea- sometimes it’s the people you meet in passing.

        1. CC*

          A problem is a problem and needs to be dealt with. Ignoring problems of any size because there are bigger problems doesn’t actually help anything. (And there are always bigger problems.)

          Why work toward reducing littering when there are companies spewing massive amounts of pollution?

          Why worry about kids who get only one meal a day, when there are kids who are dying of starvation?

          Why worry about measles outbreaks when there are ebola outbreaks?

    8. Felicia*

      Yeah sure, things can be worse, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t bad now. Doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to be sad about it. I just finished a long job search , possibly as long as yours, it was 2 years (so there is hope!) and I would have gotten mad at that too, and I would have gotten mad too. I find that the worst advice eve.r I’d stick to a lot of “I feel” statements. Like “when you say stay positive ,I feel like you’re devaluing my feelings” or. “I’ve heard that advice a lot, and when I hear it from you, I feel like I can’t vent in your prescence, which is something I sometimes need to do and would be more helpful for me.”

    9. TheSnarkyB*

      Yes, this is annoying. Yes you are justified in being upset about getting this shitty response.

      P.S. Personal bias disclosure: I’ve always seen “positivity” as a very… ‘rookie’ emotional tool, if you will. It’s helpful sometimes, but when shit is too real, you need something more heavy duty. In those cases, “positivity” sounds more like “pressure” than “an approach that will actually get you out of some darkness. Perhaps it’s just never been properly explained to me.

        1. fposte*

          I like the idea of it as a rookie tool. We’ve got a few comments today that have been relevant to this, and I was thinking that it takes a certain emotional sophistication to understand the complex balance of positive and negative–that it’s not appropriate or effective to fit everything to a positive or to a negative filter. It’s okay for there to be no upside to being unemployed, and it’s okay for there to be no downside for a cool achievement.

      1. CC*

        I think part of the whole “think positive!” thing started because there is a very real effect wherein people who tend toward having a more positive outlook see and take advantage of opportunities that people who tend toward a more negative outlook either don’t see or talk themselves out of trying.

        However, cultivating a positive outlook does not create those opportunities. So if there’s maybe 1 or 2 job posts a month that you’re qualified for in your field, thinking happy thoughts will not create more openings. Getting depressed may lead you to not even bother applying for those 1 or 2, and you want to avoid that if you can, however. (Yup, real numbers for my field, my experience level, and my location. I check the boards weekly because any more often is too demoralizing.)

    10. Trixie*

      I think Abankyteller teller is on to something. If its a friendship you’d like to maintain, it may require a straightforward discussion. Clarifying that if you bring it up first, you’re just looking to vent and not necessarily looking for platitudes or advice. Real friends would never want to make a difficult situation worse and probably have no idea their comments (albeit kind of throwaway comments) are almost salting a wound.

    11. Anx*

      Story of my life.

      I know, I KNOW I’m lucky to have a support system. That doesn’t make it any easier to ask my parents/parental figures for help paying my bills? It doesn’t make me kick myself for spending $15 on take out 10 years ago because I could really, really use that money now. It doesn’t make feel any less guilty at having gone to college at largely my parent’s expense and for what?! I would have been much better off getting a job in 2004 and having gained the experience of a decade instead. And I beat myself up about it every. single. day.

      Because every day I don’t have to get up for work. Or I can’t pay one bill. Or I can’t eat one meal. And even when I have a job, I can never feel excited about it, because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.

      Finally, someone understood. Someone who is very supportive, but also can be a bit ‘just stay positive.’ Someone even verbalized it that way, and acknowledged that I’m worried about this because that is exactly what keeps happening to me. I get an offer from a place that never opens. I get a job that lays me off as soon as I got into the swing of things, I get hired at 2 places and the one with the better opportunities is also the one more likely not to survive (a new restaurant). I’m hired but still depressed about things because I’m still not getting paid, and most importantly, I’m still not going to work.

      I don’t have this problem with friends so much. I’ve withdrawn from a lot of my frienships as I still tie my self-worth in my ability to be productive. I know it’s not healthy. People will say you’re worth so much more and then in another breath talk about lazy leeches and losers and layabouts. So it’s hard for me not to internalize it.

      To be frank, I’d think it’d be foolish to remain eternally optimistic in your situation. I do think things will probably turn around, but I also recognize that for some people, a string of bad luck can really, really affect your life’s trajectory. I don’t THINK that will happen to you, but I don’t think any pessimism about it is unfounded.

      Best of luck, really. I’m a ’08 grad in the sciences, too. I know it can be disappointing. And I know the usual advice isn’t always as easy to apply (volunteering in a lab isn’t an easy thing to do).

    12. OriginalEmma*

      I think you’ll really enjoy the book “Bright Sided,” Stephanie, if you get irritated by the “just stay positive!” emotional-validity bulldozer. It’s by Barbara Ehrenreich and discusses the rise of -and problems with – the cult of positivity.

  7. Militant Intelligent*

    good website to purchase cheap airline tickets? need a last minute flight for a few job interviews.

    1. JessA*

      Check out It is a search aggregator that collects the fares from the different airlines and you buy directly from the airlines themselves. It’s my “go-to” site when I need to look at flights. You can play with the dates and with the different airports in order try to find a cheaper fare.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yes, and also check southwest, jet blue, spirit, etc. directly on their sites because they don’t show up on kayak.

    2. Dan*

      Unfortunately, the airlines think that only business people with expense accounts want/need to buy last minute tickets and charge accordingly.

      Alternate airports are your friend. Southwest probably isn’t.

      Sadly, there’s not a lot of magic to be had here.

      1. Stephanie*

        If you have a secondary airport (like a Midway) or another airport within driving distance (like a lot of people in Tucson drive to PHX), I’d check there.

        Yeah, I’ve haven’t found Southwest competitive in years. When I was still in Dallas and they were only doing intrastate flights or flights to neighboring states, they were good for sparing you a dull drive on I-45/I-10/I-30/I-35 with a cheap flight. Admittedly, most of my flying nowadays is longer-haul domestic, but I’ve found them to be the same price (or higher!) as the legacy carriers for short-haul stuff in the Southwest. And for whatever reason, the Southwest gate at PHX is usually a sh*tshow and has a longer wait than all the other gates. I avoid.

        Also, I am a procrastinator and almost always get Group C and end up in the back in a middle seat. (Seriously, though, when do you guys check in? I’ve gotten Group B once.)

        1. SC in SC*

          I haven’t flown Southwest for a while but we used to check in 24 hours before our flight. Waiting even an hour or two can bump you back to B or C. Their phone app made it very convenient.

          1. Laura*

            Several times I have checked in 7-10 minutes after check-in opened (24 hours before the flight) and gotten group B. I think it’s to punish you for not paying for Early Bird (automatic checkin.) It’s BS.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, yeah, all the early stuff is monetized anyway, so even if you check in early there will be a ton of people in special categories ahead of you.

    3. Stephanie*

      If you’ve got flexibility, you could try the budget airlines like Allegiant or Spirit (if they fly out your city and to your destination). The flights will have all kinds of restrictions (Allegiant only flies out on certain days from the regional airport here and to certain locations and Spirit has a fee for everything), but you can find cheap fares if you read all the fine print).

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        Yup. Also use the Bing flight tool. It won’t be useful for OP bc it tells you when the best time to buy is (and sounds like he needs to buy now), but for everyone else- it tracks the flight’s price and tells you to wait when they predict the price will drop.

  8. Job interview with no job description*

    Deleted by Alison — sorry! (I know it’s only one question, but it won’t stay that way if we start allowing them.)

    1. Job interview with no job description*

      Huh. Fair enough I guess, but there are quite a few non-work related posts on the Friday thread. Seems pretty inconsistent.

          1. Dan*

            That’s been tried. Fridays used to be free for alls, but that the threads would get 1000+ posts deep.

            Frankly, I’d vote for Friday = work, Sunday = free for all. Some things get borderline. Like, is how grad school impacting career choices a free for all or a work question?

            1. fposte*

              I think the problem is that some readers are interested in work open threads and not off-topic open threads, and they don’t want to dig through the off-topic ones for work stuff.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Yeah, I don’t always read everything in the work threads because I’m not job hunting, and it’s nice not to have to scroll through thousands of comments. And it’s also nice to have a fun thread on Sunday.

              2. TheSnarkyB*

                Yeah… I’ve also kind of stopped reading the Fridays so I assumed all my favorite commenters were doing the same.. Haha so then it’s tempting to ask them here not there, but I shan’t.

  9. Ann Furthermore*

    We picked out cabinets for our kitchen remodel today, and found a place to sell them to us for a price that won’t put us into the poor house. Yay!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sweet! Kitchen make overs can be the start of a second mortgage, for sure. What a money pit.

      1. fposte*

        I *think* that’s a typo, but maybe you’re just reeeally into cabinets :-).

        I, on the other hand, want to hear about the countertops. I will probably be redoing my kitchen sometime in the next 5, 10, 50 years and I’m already conflicted on the countertops, so I’m gathering data.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I read somewhere that granite counter tops contain some radio-activity??? Really?

          I wondered if I could set my food on the granite counter top and it would nuke itself.

          1. fposte*

            Hey, saving you counterspace by eliminating the need for a microwave!

            My impression is that it’s variable–that a lot of granite emits nothing and some emits pretty minor levels, but some is higher. Kind of like radon in basements–it depends on what the geology is. I’m not in love with granite anyway, so I’m leaning toward either a laminate or maybe recycled glass, because I think those are absolutely beautiful. But right now it’s only a pretend purchase so it doesn’t matter.

            1. acmx*

              I’m in the middle of getting a new kitchen myself (drama) but I chose corian (if my kitchen is ever finished). I don’t like stone counters. I thought about the recycled glass but didn’t pursue it.
              A solid surface can be repaired and isn’t as hard as stone, so lessens the potential for breakage if you drop something on the counter. I like a plainer pattern for my counters.

        2. danr*

          Go with granite for the countertops. We put it in our kitchen 20 years ago in a new house, and we’re still in love with it.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            We did a granite tile countertop in our last house, and did not like it at all. It was our own fault for not being thorough enough in our research. It was because it was a lighter color, so even though we sealed the crap out of it, there were still oil stains and other imperfections all over it. Very disappointing. I’m sure you don’t have the same problem if you have a darker color, but we both agreed we would not do granite again. I’m sure it’s lovely for someone who is a neat cook. And that is just so NOT the kind of cook I am! LOL.

        3. Ask a Manager* Post author

          fposte, I have the most beautiful countertops in the land. There are photos here from when I redid my kitchen a few years ago:

          The stone is quartzite, and it’s the unfortunately named “white fantasy” stone. It looks like grey marble. You need these. You will not regret them. I admire them every time I walk into my kitchen. Just the other night, I gave my husband a long oration about their beauty.

          1. fposte*

            I’ve definitely been thinking about quartzite as well, and those are gorgeous–I love them with the blue tiling.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              We will almost definitely do some sort of quartz countertop. My mother has one in her house and it still looks brand new. She assures me that it’s non-porous, which is so important for me. I’m a very messy cook. Did granite in the last house, never again. The color we chose was too light, and then showed every little spill and splatter.

          2. GrumpyBoss*

            I had quartzite in my last house. Got tired of explaining to people how awesome quartzite was and just started calling it granite.

            I have soapstone now and am yet to decide how I feel about it.

        4. GrumpyBoss*

          LOL – both :)

          Having done 2 kitchen remodels in 24 months, I have found that this is my obsession.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        Our neighbor turned us on to this place. I’m not sure if they’re a cabinet wholesaler or what, but when we added up what we wanted from the price list, it was — I swear — about 60% less than what we were quoted at Lowe’s. We knew we weren’t going to buy from Lowe’s, but started there to get a ballpark estimate.

        We went there on Saturday. The place is located in a pretty rough part of town, in an old, beat up warehouse. When we pulled up, we kind of looked at each other and laughed, and I said, “Well, we know they’re not spending much on cosmetic stuff!” We picked out a finish we both liked — shockingly, it was the one we both liked best. And there were some samples out on the floor and the salesguy pulled out one of the drawers and let my husband hold it and take a look at it. He’s very handy and knows all about this kind of stuff and told me later he could tell it was really nice, high-quality stuff.

        They don’t do any of the fancy stuff, like roll-out shelves — which is probably why they’re so inexpensive. But they work with a woman who owns a company that specializes in that. They refer all their customers to her, and then she’ll come to your house, measure your cabinets, talk to you about what you want, etc, and then her sons custom build your after-market cabinet stuff.

  10. What Are You Reading?*

    Another what’s everyone reading question. I’m out of books to read and this is the place for ideas! I’m waiting for the latest Haruki Murikami to be released.

    1. Algae*

      I just finished Jasper Fforde’s “Shades of Grey” and thought it wonderful. I’ve annoyed my husband by taking about it for the last two weeks.

      1. duschamp*

        Ooooh! I love Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron. I have re-read that book every six months since it came out. On the down side, Jasper Fforde keeps putting back the publication date for the second book in the trilogy (Painting by Numbers), grrr. Four years ago he said the sequel would be out this year, now he says 2016!!
        I keep holding out a naive hope that the delay is caused by wanting the whole 50Shades thing to die down before he continues.

        1. What Are You Reading?*

          Hmm, I couldn’t get into that book. Now, even if I gave it another try, his next book still hasn’t been released…
          I’m trying to finish Book of Air and Shadows but I don’t think I will.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      11/22/63, Stephen King’s book about a guy who travels back in time to try and prevent the Kennedy assassination. I’m about halfway through and loving it. I love Stephen King.

      I also got two books about hoarding by one of the cleaners and one of the doctors on the TV shows. Those should be interesting–and I need some tips on how to get past the “I don’t want to do it” aspect of decluttering.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          One is by Dr. Robin Zasio, and it’s called The Hoarder in You: How to Live a Happier, Healthier, Uncluttered Life. The other is The Secret Lives of Hoarders: True Stories of Tackling Extreme Clutter by Matt Paxton (the extreme cleaning guy) and Phaedra Hise. You can get them both on Amazon and they’re available for Kindle.

      1. Cruciatus*

        It’s not a book, but have you ever looked at (excuse the language) Unfuck Your Habitat (dot com)? There’s a tumblr page, and an app (Unfilth Your Habitat on iTunes). It may get you past what I consider to be the hardest part–starting. Basically you have a timer, do 20 minutes then anything you want for 10 minutes (or 45 minutes and rest 15, etc.) And she(?) issues weekly challenges that may help get the clutter monkey off your back. You can set up your own challenges with the app. Maybe it will help.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I have looked at Unfuck Your Habitat. I don’t like the interface, though. I go back to it occasionally but then I get frustrated because too much clicking. It’s in my bookmarks.

          One thing I hoard is LINKS. OMG I AM A LINK HOARDER.

          1. Windchime*

            That was my complaint with UFYH as well. You have to really dig for the content and it just doesn’t seem worth it to me. Other people really like it, though.

      2. fposte*

        The Houzz app/website has some good decluttering stuff as well, and I like that because they don’t take up any more room :-). One approach there I ended up liking talked about the power of three little words, which made me steel myself against some phrase that would piss me off, but it was actually great: “How about now?” “Later” is the root of a lot of my clutter, and while “How about now?” doesn’t mean I have to tackle a whole basement right now, it does mean I can put the grocery bags away and empty the dishwasher.

      3. Elkay*

        Thanks for the reminder about 11/22/63, I need to load that onto my Kindle. I’m generally too much of a wimp to read Stephen King so the only one of his I’ve read is Seasons which I loved.

      4. Stephanie*

        Oooh, good to know about 11/22/63. It was dirt cheap at Costco and I was tempted to get it.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      My library book of the day is “Remember Me?” by Sophie Kinsella. It’s totally chick lit, but it’s really funny and just what I need right now.

      1. Lamington*

        Jazzy Red I have that book next to my night table. When I’m feeling blue only Sophie can make me laugh.

    4. Laura*

      Michelle Sagara’s _Cast In Flame_, which is awesome and also way way deep in a fantasy series, the first of which is _Cast In Shadow_.

      An odd little fantasy/superhero/noir series by Larry Correia, called the Grimnoir Chronicles, starting with _Hard Magic_ (I’m on book 2, _Spellbound_).

      And _The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People_. (Yes, I do have a book problem, why do you ask? LOL.)

        1. Laura*

          I hope you like them – I have loved them. And, I have finished the one I was reading, and as predicted I am both thrilled and already wanting the next one. LOL.

    5. Trixie*

      I’m reading Haruki Murikami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, and also waiting on his new book.

    6. afiendishthingy*

      I’ve been reading the “Shadow Unit” series on my Kindle. The first one is free, subsequent ones are $2.99. Billed as “a TV show you read”, fairly X-files-esque as it revolves around a unit of the FBI that investigates this “anomaly” that takes over people and turns them into serial killers. Very trashy and addictive :)

    7. Anx*

      So I just finished a course in genetics, which I did terribly in the first time around. I did very well but that was mostly a result of outsmarting the tests. Anyway, I didn’t have the textbook (because holy cow are they expensive) but I found another one in a library and I absolutely love the format. The tricky part is they use some alternative terms.

      “Molecular Biology of the Gene.” I kind of need this format because other textbooks let me skip the molecular stuff and then I get distracted by “but how?” and “but why?”

    8. littlemoose*

      I just finished “Devil in the White City” (excellent, if you haven’t read it), and am about to start Meg Wolitzer’s “The Interestings.”

    9. skyline*

      Reading Landline by Rainbow Rowell. I loved Eleanor and Park and Fangirl, so have really been looking forward to this!

    10. De Minimis*

      I just read CLOSE YOUR EYES, HOLD HANDS, because it was getting a lot of hype. It was okay, but seemed way too much of a YA book for me to get into it, although I was into it enough to keep reading it, but I tended to complain about it.

      The author isn’t known as a YA author. It’s interesting, I don’t know where the line is. If you write a book in first-person where the character is a teenager, does that make it YA? The tone seemed like it to me. Then there are books like WINTER’S BONE that don’t seem like YA at all–although many times they end up in that section of the library.

    11. Gloomy in Seattle*

      Just finished Heinlein’s “Time Enough for Love” and McCaffrey & Moon’s “Sassinak” and “Death of Sleep”. Just about to finish Mitnick’s “The Art of Deception”. At work I just finished “Turn This Ship Around” (thanks to another commenter for that recommendation, btw — one of the best management books I have ever read.) It was So goo I gave it to my boss (the company owner) so he can get on board with the recommendations I’m going to be making over the next year. I am also reading Green’s “Managing to Change the World” and Wheelan’s “Naked Statistics.”

    12. DCalc*

      I recently read, ‘Raising my Rainbow’ by Lori Duron. Fantastic story and amazing family with the right kind of outlook on life and on what being a parent really is.

      1. Felicia*

        Do you read her blog then? Hers is one of the few blogs I read regularly other than AAM…I’m kinda sad she doesn’t post as frequently since the book came out but I’m really happy she wrote the book

        1. DCalc*

          Yes, somewhat….but I just found her recently so I’ve not gotten in the habit of checking it often. Altho I did send her an email and asked if she’d attend our local PFLAG meeting. :) But I’ve not heard from her yet – that would be really great!

          1. Felicia*

            She might! (depending on where you are, and she charges something now), but she’s spoken at lots of PFLAGs! If you’re bored on day you should just start the blog from the beginning….it’s so amazing to see how it grew.

  11. Abbie*

    Abbie, sorry! The Sunday free-for-all is non-work stuff only — but the Friday open thread is work-related if you wan to post there!

  12. Sandy*

    Just had three weeks off, away from work. Not vacation so much as comp time that needed to be used before I lose it.

    It was awesome to be away from my crazy-toxic workplace, but I was sick with pneumonia the entire time and kept waiting for my lacks-all-sorts-of-boundaries boss to call me back to work.

    Plus I work in an actual war zone, so being back is not exactly “rah-rah-rah” awesome.

    All of my good, friendly coworkers are inquiring about how my vacation went, if I’m all relaxed and happy to be back, and honestly? No, not really. Plus I feel guilty for not enjoying my time off more, since I’m unlikely to get another day off before January.

    Just bummed, I guess.

    1. Nina*

      I’m sorry you weren’t well. That’s just rotten luck to be sick during that time. I wouldn’t feel guilty about not enjoying your time off. You weren’t well, so it wasn’t like you could do the things you would normally do on vacation. And pneumonia will especially knock you out for the count. Don’t worry about what your coworkers think.

  13. Luxe in Canada*

    I had suspected for a while that my apartment had mice in the walls, but I never found anything chewed and never saw droppings. My apartment went through an annual check last month, no evidence of pests but the exterminator put some sticky traps down. It’s a pretty clean building but it’s really old. I figured I could deal with mouse noises in the walls since there was never any evidence that they were touching my stuff.

    I saw a mouse on Saturday. Like, tail and all. It’s a long weekend so my landlords are not available. I’m camped out at my brother’s place tonight, and tomorrow I’ll put everything in glass or metal.

    Ideas would be lovely, but even more so… I guess reassurance that I’ll survive this? There must be lots more in the walls and it just kinda makes me want to curl up in the fetal position. :(

    1. Sarahnova*

      So, I have mice right now. It’s not the greatest thing ever, but it won’t kill you either.

      Do make sure any food not in the fridge is stored in metal, glass, or solid Tupperware – including any pet food. This won’t get rid of them – it’s virtually impossible to starve the buggers out – but it’ll keep them out of your stuff. Try setting a few different kinds of traps, baited with different things. In an old apartment building, you will not be able to drive them out completely if any of your neighbours are sloppy about food or blocking up holes, so the best case scenario is to keep them out of your space. They are excellent climbers and can get through any hole you can get a pen through, so if you have any small holes, air vents, etc., block them if you can. If you really don’t want to deal, get a professional in. A good one will find and block the holes, set poison bait in key positions, etc. and be able to tell you how they are getting in and around.

      You can also consider getting a cat, but I’m reliably informed that if you already have mice, this is potentially not that effective.

      1. Rebecca*

        If you set a snap trap, I recommend securing it to something nearby with a piece of wire. I’ve had several traps go missing when they snapped down and didn’t kill the mouse. I empathize too. I live in the country, near woods and a field, and have more than my share of little micies when the weather turns cold or my neighbor mows the field. Even with cats inside and outside, I still see one from time to time.

      2. AKB*

        A lot of pet cats aren’t actually good mousers and it would be really hard to know up when picking one out if it is (or not).

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          This might just be anecdotal, but I think that female cats tend to be better hunters that neutered males (and any kitty should be spayed or neutered)

        2. CC*

          Cats learn to be mousers (and ratters!) from their moms. If you want a good mouser, find a good mouser with kittens and leave the kittens with her past the usual 6-8 weeks old before taking it in.

        3. ThursdaysGeek*

          And if it is a good mouser, it will drop the live mouse on your bed in the night, and commence playing with it, until it loses the mouse under your dresser!

          1. CC*

            No, that’s an ineffective mouser. A good mouser kills the mice. Then, depending on the cat, either eats them, eats half of them, or lines them up neatly on the back step for you to find in the morning.

            (Why yes, I did once have a cat who would do the last… she was a good mouser. We never had a mouse problem, but we loaned her to my grandparents for a few weeks when their farmhouse had mice in the crawlspace downstairs — none of their barn cats were socialized to humans or house trained, so couldn’t be caught to bring inside. They’d shut her in the crawl space overnight, then in the morning open the door, pick up the row of dead mice from the top step, and let her into the house for the day.)

    2. Stephanie*

      I can empathize. I have pretty bad musophobia. I could barely sleep in my room when I had mice there. I would be drifting off to sleep and hear scurrying and scratching. I can handle roaches, scorpions, the weird bugs our dog presents to us like “Look, humans! I brought you a treat! Pet me!”, spiders, and even (small) snakes. However, I lose my sh*t around mice. I don’t even like most rodents, really (rabbits are barely tolerable and I dislike squirrels immensely).

      Sticky traps are horrible. I hate mice/rats, but sticky traps are a pretty horrible way to go. The mouse doesn’t die instantly and you either have to kill it yourself or let it suffocate (slowly) on the sticky pad. And if you have resourceful smart city mice, they may extricate themselves from the sticky pad (as I discovered once when I found just a tail…). I was in the other room, heard scrambling followed by tiny mouse screams. I had to finish the mouse off myself and it was horrifying.

      Here are my suggestions (I have too much experience with this.):
      1. Yeah, put everything in glass or metal. Also, make sure there are no crumbs out. Mice also really like pet food.
      2. When you set traps, wear gloves.
      3. Personally, I’d go for snap traps as they kill the mouse instantly. Downside is, you need to bait them (wear gloves!) and change out the bait periodically. Cheese isn’t great as bait. You want something sticky and fragrant. What I found worked well was a Slim Jim tied to the snap trap catch (as the mouse can’t extricate the bait). Peanut butter is sometimes good. Again, if you have smart mice, they can sometimes clean the peanut butter off the trap (after a while, I almost was respecting these mice as intellectual foes). There’s also an electronic mouse trap which works ok if you’re really squeamish.
      4. Wherever you do set your traps, make sure they’re accessible (and you ask where every one is). We did not know about a trap behind the stove until a mouse was caught and started to rot. That is an awful smell.
      5. Avoid poison. You will not have to clean out traps, but the mice will eat the poison and go die and rot in your walls. It takes a long, smelly time for even a small mouse to decompose to a skeleton.
      6. Check for holes. Usually around pipes or gas lines there are gaps. The exterminator should plug those with expandable foam. In the meantime, you can plug holes with steel wool.
      7. Mice tend to travel along floorboards, so set your traps near those. You can figure out their travel pattern based on the droppings (yeah, gross, I know). They’re mostly nocturnal until they start getting bold.
      8. I had some luck with peppermint oil (make sure it’s pure oil, not extract as that has sugar and will just attract them).

      You’ll get through it. A good landlord will be willing to exercise the nuclear option to keep a tenant. Unfortunately, you may not be able to completely rid yourself of mice in an old building.

      1. fposte*

        Interesting. I have an ongoing battle with mice that I will never win (there’s just no way to secure my older house from their entry), and I eventually couldn’t deal with the snap traps and went to poison, since I had access behind a bathroom cabinet to the inside of the wall.

        And that’s actually worked pretty well; it gets them before I can see them and before they’re in the kitchen. There’s the occasional dead mouse smell, but it only lasts a day or so, and I had that before anyway, so now I consider it the smell of victory.

        1. duschamp*

          I am really glad that poison worked for you, and I can see where it would be an efficient pre-emptive barrier to an infestation. If you have an infestation though, I would warn against poison unless you are prepared for the fallout. I once lived with some very filthy roommates, who were also my landlords. Mice are an unavoidable part of living in the old tenement flats in Edinburgh, but my roommate/landlords refused to acknowledge that the situation in our flat was a problem until it reached horror film proportions. The mice either outsmarted or outnumbered every “humane” option they tried. Eventually, it was decided to use a ‘delayed action’ poison – the rationale being that the mouse takes it back to the nest and shares it with the other mice. Well, we soon discovered that the mouse nest was under the living room floorboards, ’cause it took about six weeks for all of them to ingest the poison, and another six weeks for the dead mouse smell to leave the living room. We had to open the windows, shut the door and stuff a towel under it to block the horrible, horrible smell.

          TL;DR While poison is effective, DO NOT wait until you have a full-blown infestation before using it.
          Also, don’t be the one roommate who doesn’t own the flat.

          1. fposte*

            Urgh. And I’m also living in a detached house, so it’s not like I’m inflicting it on anybody else.

            My office building occasionally has animals larger than mice die in the walls. That’s a smell you really don’t want to smell day after day.

            1. the gold digger*

              Yep. Poison will kill them but they don’t go far to die. I had rats and my landlord suggested I get a snake:

              1. Kay*

                I can’t remember the name of it, but there was this one poison my dad recommended when we had mice problems in the dorms in college (not sure they used the suggestion, but I remember him telling me about it). I suppose you could call it a “delayed” reaction, but apparently it was something that made the mice feel really dehydrated, but then when they drink water, it kills them. So, you put it out, they eat it, then leave your house for water and die somewhere else. Of course, this only works if there’s no water source for them in your house…

              2. Stephanie*

                Your post was funny. The snake would also just end up the walls and you’d have a snake AND rats in the walls.

          2. Stephanie*

            Here’s what I figured out with poison (again, too many old houses): it depends on the climate and how dry your house is. When we used poison in the summer (in DC-it was humid), we got the Smell of Death. When we used it in a different house with giant radiators in the winter, we never smelled anything. I think the cold, dry air preserved the mice almost. I moved before the summer, so God knows what the house smelled like then.

    3. kas*

      I feel your pain. I was in my garage a few months ago and just as I was about to step down, a mouse crawled right past where I was about to land. I was throwing out garbage but I dropped it and ran back inside. Found out mice were coming from my neighbours lawn and instead of blocking the hole, he just put a trap beside it. We had to talk to him and he finally blocked it and since then we’ve been mice free. I know the icky feeling but it’s great that you have a place to stay while they fix the problem.

      1. Steve G*

        This happens to me quite often in the streets of Brooklyn, at night on garbage nights.

        Don’t get why NYC thinks garbage just has to go out in the streets (where other places use cans) + its ok for it to be there 12 hours in advance, given the rat problem.

        A rat ran into me once. Usually you just get them running out from behind a garbage can. It always freaks me out. Since I jog a lot, it’s kind of hard to avoid. If I didn’t jog on garbage days to avoid this I’d never job (since there are like 4 days/week depending on side of the street).

        So there is the non-glamorous side of NYC you never seen in the movies!

    4. Sophia*

      One time my cat brought a live mouse inside the house and let it go. I lost track of it, gave up on finding it for the night, and went to sleep.

      In the morning, I went to grab a pare of shorts off the couch (I live alone so it’s not entirely unreasonable for me to leave clothes in random places.) Anyway, the shorts seemed kind of heavy and as I was untangling them, the mouse dropped out along with a bunch of it’s droppings. Little bugger had a nice cozy night sleeping in my shorts on the couch – with the cat sleeping not 2 feet away. :| He seemed rather confused that I had disturbed it’s sleep and scrambled away. I of course screamed.

      Anyway, I managed to get him out of the house – no harm done. But that was a fun experience.

      1. Clever Name*

        This made me giggle. It was probably snuggling with your cat. That’s what mine would do.

    5. James M*

      I can’t offer any help except this anecdote: Some time ago, my mom heard the scrambling of something inside the kitchen wall. The next day, I heard it too. Something was using the kitchen wall as an expressway to the attic! About a week later, after the do-nothing-and-hope-it-solves-itself strategy failed, my Dad acquired a rat trap and placed it in the attic.

      He told me that he baited the trap with a piece of artisan bleu cheese. I LMAO.

    6. Rebecca Too*

      Though it’s not pleasant, it’s really not that big a deal. If someone’s house is in anyway old, there’s a chance they’ll get mice, because mice can get in lots of places.

      Things that you can do to keep them out are
      1. Seal up any small holes you can find with some type of sealant. Doesn’t matter how small the hole, if it’s there they can get through it. If you are ok with them in the walls you can do this straight away, but if you want them gone as much as possible, wait til you are pretty sure they are gone and then seal up everything.
      2. You can buy these plug in things that send out a high pitched frequency that mice don’t like, and will keep them away. I’m sorry I’ve no clue what they are called, but they can work well. It’s usually one per room.
      3. Mice for some reason peppermint oil. Put it down where they are getting in, and it should provide some extra protection. I mixed pure essential oil in a spray bottle and sprayed the hell out of everywhere. I does mean your house will stink of peppermint though, which I quite liked but others might hate. I do kinda associate the smell of peppermint with mice not though.

      Also, when I hate mice someone told me that mice and rats rarely live in the same place. So while you may have mice, you don’t have rats! I’m not sure how true it is, but when I was lying in my bed at night hearing mice scampering somewhere in the ceiling and just repeat to myself “At least it’s not rats, at least it’s not rats”.

      Also, try watching An American Tail. Sure you have mice, but they are adorable and sad and just trying to make an honest living in a new country.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Living next to a field, I get all kinds of critters.

      I bought one of those things you plug into the wall. It is a little bigger than a deck of cards. It puts a vibration in the wiring and structure that helps deter critters. I have had them plugged in for five years. NO critters. Ever. Additionally, I had a new pup, he was doing a great job of chewing on the walls and flooring. The day I plugged these things in my pup STOPPED chewing on the walls etc. It is funny to watch him play with his toys, if a toy lands near and electrical wire he will NOT go get the toy. I have to get it for him.

      The buzz in the wire and walls would be similar to us chewing on an operating dental drill. No way would we do that.

      I bought the top of the line model it was $35. I went back and got a second one because I wanted to be sure I had enough coverage for the square footage I have here. I love these things, but I have heard that not everyone has success with them.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I have a sound emitting thing–I should look into the thing you’re talking about. My impression is that the sound emitting thing discourages settlements by new mice but doesn’t chase out the established, so it’s part of my arsenal but not sufficient unto itself.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You can see it here:

          global dash industries dot com

          They do insect and rodent control equipment.
          I was looking for my model. I don’t see it. Probably they have even better products now.
          I bought mine about five years ago and they are going strong.

          There is a red blinking light on the front so you know it’s working. Once in a while the light stops blinking. I unplug it for a minute and plug it back in, end of problem.

          Being on the edge of a field I get everything. I feel compelled to step outside at night with my dog in case there are foxes, coydogs, bears, etc. But the bats, rats and mice are GONE, GONE. yeah! I actually needed to buy two because of the way my house is laid out. But it worked, so I am happy.

          1. fposte*

            Okay, found them (it’s actually global industries) and am now looking on Amazon for similar stuff. Does yours make much noise? Some of them are apparently pretty loud.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Grrr. Just throw the extra ts in there, too and we will call it a day.

              Glad you found it.
              No, I cannot hear it and no one has ever commented that they can hear it. I cannot feel a vibration in the wall, either. I think my dog can hear or feel it. But it does not upset him at all. The cat I had showed no reaction to it at all.
              It says on the site that it’s not good to use if you have rodent type pets.

              I was targeting a rat that took interest in my north wall. Every night at 2 am, chomp, chomp. chomp. A friend came to help he said it was a medium size rat- we have them the size of cats here. (I live on a swamp. No not quite, but it’s pretty wet.) The little monster stopped chewing the first night I had it plugged in.

          2. QualityControlFreak*

            No BATS?! We live in the woods, on a river, in a very old house with a shake roof. The bats were here well before we were, but they just creep me the hell out. I will be looking into this – thanks!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              No bats!

              Years ago, I thought my old dog was playing with a pair of my socks that he frequently stole.

              As we approached the dog we saw a problem. Socks don’t say “eeek, eeek, eeek”.

              I still shudder just thinking about it.

              1. QualityControlFreak*

                I need these in my attic!

                Yeah, a few years ago I stuck my hand under the flap to take down the tent in my front yard and thought the same thing – “Why is this tent squeaking?” Then the damn bat fell out…. Yeah, rabid. Shots. Ick.

                One cat we had used to kill ’em and leave pairs of leathery wings in the yard.

                I know they are beneficial, they eat insects, blah blah blah. I don’t want them dead, I just want them GONE!

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I wish that worked on ants. Does it? Every year I get ants and they are all over the place. They finally disappeared this year after weeks of trying. Terro baits–I put sugar in the arsenic mix to get them to it. I hope it worked and they’re all dead!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I was looking around to see if they have anything for ants. Not seeing anything.
          I have had good luck with ant traps.

          Diatomaceous Earth (DE) works well. It works mechanically, not chemically. They eat it and it is like you or I eating shards of glass. The bugs will not build up a resistance to it, they are done, period. It won’t hurt house pets or us, we are all too big to for DE rip up our insides.

          One very helpful thing I learned about ants is that they leave a scent in their trial that is how they map out their territory. So scrubbing their highways is important. I had a peony bush outside my kitchen window that reeeeally drew the ants. Once I moved that bush, 95% of my ant problem went away.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I was using vinegar to clean with and ruin the trails. It really didn’t work too well. I don’t know where they come from, but I’ll try the DE also if they come back again.

        2. Stephanie*

          Ants also dislike peppermint oil. Put a few drops in a spray bottle of water and spray away. I also found those little bait stations (by Terro, I think) to be pretty effective. Some species of ants really like water, so I’d check for leaking water. When I was a kid, I had horrible ant problems in the bathroom. My dad was remodeling the bathroom. He removed the shower tile to discover that the ant nest was behind the tile, in the wall. The whole wall was black with ants.

    8. afiendishthingy*

      My friend came home the other night to find a dead bat on her kitchen floor. So, um, could be worse?

      I do empathize, I’ve had occasional issues with mice as well, it does suck, but you will be ok. Cats are definitely often not effective. Sticky traps have always struck me as the most horrible, inhumane method of rodent control though.

    9. Speedy Mouser*

      We had a big mouse problem when we lived out of town. Then we got three kittens and they dealt with the mice beautifully even as small kittens! Then I think just the scent or presence of the cats was enough to keep the mice away. After the last of the three cats went missing (out in the country – hawks, owls, coyotes and foxes abounded) we went a good 3 years without a hint of a mouse in the house. So there was definitely a cumulative effect of the cats’ presence. So you could maybe borrow somebody’s mouser for a while if you don’t want to actually have a full-time kitty?

    10. Anx*

      1) Don’t vacuum mouse poop if you’re concerned about Hanta virus.

      2) You will.

      I am terrified right now of mice because we have a temporary hole in the wall. We also have a cat, and I could not deal with him gifting me a mouse in bed.

      One thing that helped me when I had (as I’m about to have again–see the hole in the wall) a roach issue was remind myself that it was not a moral failing. I did a whole bunch of stuff that knocked them back, all while actually putting my bio degree to good use for once.

      Another thing is find an oasis. For me it was bed. I roach-proofed my bed. No covers touching the floor (they could climb). No getting a headboard. Pulling the bed a few inches from the wall. Barriers at the point of entry.

      I also made sure that there was a food prep area I could trust. We have an island with legs so that’s what I used.

      Canning jars can be an inexpensive way to store food if you need to make it pest-proof.

  14. Perpetua*

    My vacation started this weekend (after my birthday on Friday, which was lovely), and I’m off to the Croatian seaside for 10 days! :)

    What are you favorite holiday places?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Croatia is supposed to be beautiful, I hope you enjoy it.

      I love Spain there’s so much to see and do.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yay! And happy birthday!

      Don’t know; I rarely go on holiday ever. I went to the Georgia coast once to visit my ex when he was in federal LEO training. It’s gorgeous down there. I highly recommend checking it out if you get the chance. Savannah, Tybee Island, and that area.

    3. Steve G*

      Czech Republic – Slovakia – Poland – Hungary. So much beautiful cities and countryside + beautiful people and good food.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I recently visited Dubrovnik, Trogir and Split. Really nice and worth spending more time there.

    4. Monodon monoceros*

      Ah, ok. I just didn’t want you to go to some vet and have them refuse to do it. Years ago I worked with a vet that would do it as long as he wasn’t specifically told it wasn’t their cat. He was happy to look the other way, but only if he could plead ignorance.

  15. Sarahnova*

    Alison, is that your husband?! I get all excited at getting glimpses into people’s lives.

    1. TheSnarkyB*

      Me too – I felt so nosey when I saw that! It was like when someone’s brother would show up in 9th grade to my (all girls) school:
      A BOY! You guys!! A boy!!!!

  16. Blerp*

    Has anyone here had to deal with a loved one going through cancer? Specifically stage 3b non small cell lung cancer? My partner of two years was diagnosed at the end of February and it’s terribly difficult. He just turned 37, was the picture of health. He never smoked.

    I’m 27, it feels ridiculous to be dealing with this right now. It’s hard because he has done everything right in his life. The relationship was ending before this diagnosis but when this happened everything is on it’s head. He is an engineer, he owns his house. He’s supposed to keep the dog. We agreed if we broke up he would keep our dog. I never thought he could die. We never would have gotten our sweet pooch otherwise. My work history has been night manager in retail. I’ve got big goals and do amazingly well in art. But this, this is something else. It just seems, it’s just too much.

    If anyone has any great success story it is sorely needed. The five year survival rate on this is 5%, and chemo is not working well for him.

    Much love…

    1. Stephanie*

      So sorry to hear y’all are going through that.

      I had a close friend with a brain tumor. He had a seizure in his sleep (and his roommate happened to hear him convulsing on the floor). Turns out he had a brain tumor and had to have chemo and radiation and surgery. Was in the clear for a while and then had to have another tumor removed. He is doing fine since I talked to him last. He is 28 and also was very healthy.

      Only thing I knew to do was to let him guide the conversation. If wanted to talk about chemo making him puke, I let him. If he wanted to talk about the Kardashians, I also let him do that.

      Have you looked into going to a counselor/therapist or support group?

    2. Terra*

      Wait. You’re 27 and have never dealt with death. Consider yourself lucky.

      Now stop moping about. Your relationship was ending. Get over yourself. If you want to be friends with him and support him through this difficult time, fine. If not, move on. Death shouldn’t make you change your feelings.

      1. A Teacher*

        That’s really, well, mean and not helpful at all. Please be considerate of others’ feelings.

        I’m sorry you are going through this. My grandfather ended up with multiple myeloma which has a similar survival rate. What helped our family was to live in the moment and to find something positive about the treatment even when it sucked. So he had good stories about some of his nurses, funny stories about his time at Mayo Clinic, and would laugh at stuff his grand kids would say. We also tried to be realistic. Cancer sucks and we knew eventually it would win but finding a bright spot occasionally made it a little better.

        My thoughts are with you today. Best wishes to you and your family as you deal with this.

        1. Terra*

          It’s not mean. It’s blunt. Sometimes people need a swift kick in the — to remind them that it’s not always about them.

          OP wants attention about how “ridiculous” it is to have to deal with this at 27. She’s saying that she doesn’t know what to do about their shared dog since he was supposed to keep it after their breakup. She says that she wants to do art but is working as a retail night manager. Just sounds like entitlement to me.

          OP, Stop procrastinating and do something. Would his death after your break up be any better? You were ending the relationship anyway.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            We as a society have agreed on things like “manners” and “tact” where we can be honest without being an asshole. The level of bluntness you’re displaying would be better suited amongst close friends where literally every other method did not work–and even then it’s questionable. I’m not even sure what your advice even is other than “get over it” which isn’t helpful. Even if they were breaking up, it seemed amicable, which isn’t the same as breaking up because they couldn’t stand to be around each other. I’ve had exes where if I discovered they had an aggressive cancer even long after we broke up, I’d be pretty upset (and still would be now!) Throw in the extra logistics, plus the fact that crisis tends to bring people together, then her situation and feelings are perfectly valid and understandable.

          2. fposte*

            You’re acting like it can’t be mean if it’s blunt. Bluntly saying what comes to your mind can be pretty mean, and this was. You’ve assumed negative things about a person you don’t know based on three lines and bitched at her for not representing a major struggle in her life the way you’d approve of. She’s not entitled for being troubled at the conflicting things in her life, and it’s absolutely fine for people to seek attention and support to help deal with suffering.

            Unconsidered honesty isn’t a virtue, it’s a lapse of civility.

            1. A Teacher*

              Thanks. What I was striving for and you said it better. Also Terra, read further in the thread, but we all experience life differently. Some of is lose family members young (lung cancer paternal grandfather, 5, last memory is him screaming in pain) some not until much older. You don’t even have the right to be blunt to someone when dealing with death and chronic illness, they have to experience grief on their own at their own pace and that too is an individual experience.

          3. TheSnarkyB*

            Wow. Seriously, Terra? Actually get the hell out of here. I’ve never said that to someone on here and I probably never will again but that response was SO inappropriate, both rude AND mean (sure, blunt too), and it violates the unwritten standards of the community we have here, which I feel very protective over.

            You can take that elsewhere.
            The commenter was literally reaching out to us for love and you accuse them of “wanting attention”? You kidding me? “Get over it?”

            And don’t tell the OP how to feel. You wouldn’t feel “lucky” either if you were losing your partner of 2 years. People aren’t even happy about breakups in general, even when they’re mutual/the best thing for you. Maybe OP could have felt lucky about not experiencing loss before she learned of his diagnosis. I do. But I know that if my first real loss is someone close to me, it could break me entirely. I’m unprepared. And that’s terrifying.
            So don’t step on someone who’s showing you their emotions and being open. You can go be closed by yourself.

          4. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Whoa, what? Someone she loves might be dying. She wants attention? She wants support, which is perfectly appropriate here.

            Of course it feels ridiculous to be going through this at 27. I lost my dad then and felt ridiculously young for that, and that was a parent, not a partner. It is too young. Blerb, I’m so sorry you and your partner are going through this.

          5. Steve G*

            OK it is ridiculous to be doing this at 27. If you are talking about an alcoholic who then gets liver problems, yeah, not so ridiculous. But someone leading a healthy lifestyle and getting so sick so young? Ridiculous.

            1. fposte*

              I think that your first close experience always feels ridiculous–it’s something you assumed you would have decades of experience behind you before you faced. And we’re mostly wrong on that, because we do encounter such losses, but it’s part of the way we register the unfairness of early tragedies.

            2. Not So NewReader*

              Tragically, it happens to a lot of people. I know someone orphaned at age 6, another at 14. A woman I know had been married 1.5 years and her hubby died.
              It just does not make sense. Any of it.

          6. Stephanie*

            I’ll add that even if Blerp was planning to end the relationship (or it was naturally ending), most breakups (especially for a two-year relationship) aren’t cut and dry and just “ok now we’re not dating anymore.” So I could see it being totally feasible that Blerp might not consider this person a romantic partner anymore, but still care deeply for him and struggle with him dying from cancer.

      2. anon attorney*

        I disagree entirely. Something as devastating as this diagnosis can, and arguably should, change your feelings. Cancer changes the lives of everyone around the sufferer, not just him or her. If you felt ambivalent about him before, maybe you feel guilty now, or maybe you feel angry about having to endure this horror for someone you would otherwise not be with?
        I’m glad I didn’t post here when this happened to me and have to deal with such breathtaking insensitivity! Get over yourself, indeed. Shocking.
        OP, I recommend Macmillan online, and asking his oncology nurse for referral to local in person support groups. I hope you find some strength and comfort.

        1. Blerp*

          Oh goodness that comment didn’t wind up in the right place. Your suggestion is greatly appreciated. I will definitely look into it.

      3. Blerp*

        Woah there. You don’t know anything aside from what I put out there. Why would I bring anything else up, when this is what’s on my mind. If I need to rephrase, I’ve never dealt with someone in my age group who was also my significant other dying. I’ve never watched a slow, lingering death of a 37 year old.

        Your comment was rude, condescending and out of place. It didn’t need to be posted.

    3. BritCred*

      it becomes like talking about work – sideline it as much as possible and focus on other things when you can if talking/around him.

      Try NOT to constantly compare to before as it does no god.

      And get some support through a suitable charity or forum. Over here Macmillian got my mother through my fathers 5 years of pancreatic cancer.

    4. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, Blerp. It’s always hard to face the fact that doing everything right doesn’t mean keeping bad things from happening.

      Please remember to take care of yourself as much as you can and lean on others. This is about you as well as him, and just because you don’t have cancer doesn’t mean you’re not in need of support.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am so sorry you are going through this.

      I hope you are able to keep reading here.

      Don’t allow yourself to walk alone. Find a support group, a church, a support group online, something. These things can be hugely isolating, it is very easy to lose contact with others.

      Your situation is made more complex by your earlier decision to end the relationship. If he is able, please talk with him. Find out what he would like to do. And it’s okay to ask about the dog. He is probably concerned about the dog, also.

      One thing that is common to many illnesses is the loss of one’s autonomy. The doctors say run here, go there and the patient says “yes, sir, right away, sir”. Then there are the drugs, again not a lot of choices, A is horrible and B is even worse. This is where it becomes important to listen to him and listen to what he wants regarding matters that he can still have some say about.

      And it is okay to feel like you are just a bag of mixed emotions. It is okay to be angry about one thing, sad about another and happy over a third thing all within a five minute period. That is fairly normal. That is processing, you are processing a tidal wave of emotions. It will settle over time. But it takes time.

      Know your limits. Know how much you can do. Definitely encourage him to build a team of friends and family that he can lean on. Perhaps the best you can do is find care for the dog and then leave. Sadly, I have been in a similar situation with a relative. Sometimes relationships just tank to the point where we are no longer effective/helpful in that relationship. Some times the patient no longer allows us to be effective/helpful. The best we can do is get out of the way so others can get in and they can be effective and helpful.

      Hard to think about but it applies to life in general: We have to know when we cannot help a person/group/company. We have a obligation to get out of the way so that others can get in and do their thing.

      I think you know this but it is important enough to bear repeating: It is going to take 15-20 people to help him with all the stuff that he has to go through. You cannot do it alone, nor should you be expected to do it alone. If your relationship is not so good right now, your chances of doing a lot for him are pretty slim. If your relationship is in limbo at the moment then talk to him about how he thinks the two of you should proceed.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      you might benefit from talking to a counselor or therapist about this. I imagine it’s terrible complicated – you care about him and don’t want him to face this alone BUT you were already planning to break up and you’re young and don’t necessary want to be a caretaker for the next few years. All of that is totally understandable and I don’t think there are any right answers here – just what’s right for you and for him. Does he have other family or close friends nearby so that you’re not his sole support? That’s a good start. Otherwise I think you should get him into a support group and yourself as well.

    7. Laura*

      I’m so sorry.

      My mother died of lung cancer – but she was much older and had smoked her entire life, so it wasn’t quite the shock it is in his case. (And we knew she wouldn’t survive – her chances weren’t 5%, it was clearly only ‘how long’ rather than if she would live. It made it easier to know what to think and do, even if I hated it.)

      It’s hard. How can it not be hard? Take care of yourself, ask for help on the logistics when you need them, and know that it will seem surreal at times, unfair (it is!), and hard – that’s totally normal. I have no magic words to make it not-hard.

    8. Steve G*

      Sorry for your partner…really not fair…curious where it came from though…

      Anyway, the best you can do is be there through it all, maybe think about taking the dog if he doesn’t make it.

      And ignore nitwits like “Terra” who talk to talk about themselves when you bring this us.

      1. fposte*

        Thousands of people with no smoking exposure get lung cancer, though. The fact that smoking zoomed its numbers up so high camouflages that fact. There are some other known exposure problems (radon, asbestos, air pollution, etc.), and there’s also a genetic component, but like most cancers it doesn’t always have a reason you can hang it on.

        One of the most interesting health risk assessment tools I’ve seen is out of the Washington University School of Medicine at You can see from the questions on lung cancer what other things are currently known to factor into risk.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, they do. A wonderful lady who worked for my parents got it and she died of it. She had never smoked nor did her husband, and she wasn’t ever around people who did.

    9. Rebecca*

      My Dad was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer in the late ’90’s (he was 64). He had no idea anything was wrong. The cancer had perforated the colon wall and there was lymph node involvement. Prognosis then was about 21% survival past 5 years, if I remember correctly. I did as much research as I could about treatment protocols, went with Mom and Dad to the oncologist, and was pleased to hear they would use the same treatment protocol as the Mayo Clinic started using a few months before. After chemo and radiation, and 2 more surgeries that year for other issues, Dad is still here in 2014.

      I can pass along this advice – do your research, get a second opinion if you need it, and give it your best shot. It’s a tough journey. There are no guarantees. I wish you the best and I’m sorry this is happening.

      1. Anonyby*

        My mother had colon cancer. I don’t know what stage it was when she was first diagnosed, but they only found it because she went to see the doctor since she wasn’t feeling well, was diagnosed with anemia and that led them to the tumor. She was only 45 at the time.

        She ended up having to have 2 surgeries to remove part of her colon+tumors, it spread to the lymphatic system… Years of chemo with reoccurring tumors (couldn’t go 6 mo without developing a new tumor), and finally radiation when one tumor stopped responding to chemo.

        There are definitely no guarantees in life, you just have to make the best out of what you have.

    10. Elkay*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. There’s no two ways about it, the situation sucks. I hope you have the support network you need. Don’t be afraid to find some people to lean on who are a step removed from the situation. You can be that person for him if he wants it. Also, grief and feelings aren’t finite, please don’t try to talk yourself out of grieving for the relationship and having whatever feelings you need to have. Don’t belittle how this affects you while you’re trying to support him.

    11. Anonyby*

      Blerp, I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Please, talk to him, find out what he wants to do, and get help for yourself. Lean on your support network, and I second the idea of seeking out a therapist. I wish I had spoken to one about what was going on when my mother was going through cancer.


    12. Girasol*

      My husband was diagnosed with stage 3 CLL (leukemia). He said he’d never take part in medical tests but when a gene test showed that chemo wouldn’t work on him and he had only months to live, he changed his mind. Some very prestigious universities and the national institutes of health are making remarkable discoveries in cancer treatments right now. He was accepted into a test, has had amazing care, and is doing okay 18 months later with his cancer under control though not in remission. Of course, that means we don’t get to know his X% survival rate for Y years. The people who have been on the test longest are mainly doing well but they only started just a few months ahead of him. So it’s still a day by day thing. But after all the fear and shock at the start, it feels like a big success story. If you haven’t considered testing, you can find info online or ask the oncologist.

      1. De Minimis*

        We had to care for my father-in-law after he was diagnosed with liver cancer. He passed away a couple of weeks later. He had other health conditions that resembled his symptoms to where no one suspected it was cancer until he reached the final stages of it.

    13. Gloomy in Seattle*

      I am so very sorry to hear this news, there is nothing about Cancer that doesn’t suck.

      When I went through it, one of the best things my partner did for me was to come to all of the appointments and take notes. He literally heard things I didn’t and was able to help me do the research we needed to. Having cancer tends to put the patient in a kind of medical ‘chute’ that fast tracks everything so you don’t feel like you have time to think through your decisions.
      Along those lines, there is almost no decision that requires an instant decision. Yes, cancer cells are now ‘floating’ through his body and he could get cancer in places other than where they have found it. But a day, or three will not make a difference in most cases, and will allow you both the chance to reflect on the best decision.
      There are a ton of well meaning people who show up throughout the cancer process. try to be forgiving of their cluelessness and ignore anything that feels icky.
      Ask for help. I found a therapist within a week of my diagnosis and it really helped having someone I could be completely honest with. (Also, she’d had my type of cancer years previously and was another resource for discussing options.) In retrospect, I wish my partner had also gone through therapy, he shouldered a lot and did it alone.
      Give yourself permission, right now, to not be perfect. It seems like you still care for him, even if you don’t love him — fine. It would be a great kindness to not leave him alone to deal with this, but don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. Get lots of sleep, exercise regularly. Eat foods with high Vit B content.
      Finally, it helps to understand that cancer is random. There is actually no true proven cause of cancer. Personally, I think environmental factors are playing a huge role, and we don’t have the tools to quantify that right now. So, no blame to anyone, and no shame. Its random and just needs to be dealt with. An element of stubbornness is useful here.

      Good luck to you and your partner.

  17. Anon this thread*

    Any other people with a potentially complicated chronic illness here? I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis when I was 24 and I am now 30. Things have mostly settled down by now, as I now take MTX, though that comes with its own challenges. I never had a particularly bad case, maybe two flares a year that responded well to cortisone, but I am now well aware of just how bad pain can get and what it feels like to not be able to get up on my own, for example.

    That’s somehow always lingering in the back of my mind, this awareness that things are pretty good at the moment, but this might change very suddenly. Most days, I am fine and then suddenly it comes to the forefront, like when I think that I would like to have children sometime in the next three years and then I become aware that I will need to stop taking my medication a full 6 months before we even start trying for a child. Very few people know about my diagnosis, so sometimes I hear comments like “Oh, you are so lucky to be young and healthy” and that just makes me sad, because it’s not really true and I would give up a lot to not have this diagnosis. The reason few people know, for example, is that I really don’t know how to bring it up when few people ever see me experience symptoms.

    How do you cope with chronic, but under control illnesses? Do you tell new friends and coworkers? Do you think about it a lot?

    1. Schmitt*

      My SO takes MTX for psoriasis and is having a hard time dealing with the side effects. I don’t know if it’s true for your diagnosis, but she was told that if she stops taking it, it will never work for her again. Trying to balance the side effects against the effectiveness is a constant theme.

      People who say “you’re so lucky to be young and healthy” are slightly thoughtless, but then again, it’s hard to be empathetic and thoughtful 24/7. If it’s people you don’t know well, perhaps simply a smile and, “Everyone has their own shit to deal with, though, you know,” will serve. For people you do know, personally I would bring it up when you have a flare-up if you feel sensitive about it. “Mostly it’s under control, but a few times a year my rheumatoid arthritis wants to have a vacation too.”

      Generally I am in favor of being open about health diagnoses *if you are in a headspace to be OK with that*. It opens doors to a network that may help you (“My cousin has a fabulous doctor who recommended XYZ that is really working for her,”) or others, (“Wow, what you’re going to sounds like what my cousin has but hasn’t gone to the doctor for yet – can you share the name of your doctor?”). We figured out what my SO’s psoriasis was from a random photo on the internet – she’s a chronic doctor-visit-putter-offer – and it was such a relief to have an idea what it was.

      1. Anon this thread*

        I have never heard about that thing with MTX and I have read a lot of articles (I have a degree in Biological Sciences and had access to a lot of scientific journals for the first few years after my diagnosis). Anyway, yes, the side effects can suck. I take mine Saturday evening and my Sundays vary somewhere between “mostly okay, just a bit tired” and “tired, nauseous and cranky all day”.

        Interesting perspective about the network thing, I haven’t really thought about that. Mostly it seems like everyone I interact with is completely healthy, but then again, I pretend to be as well…

    2. Loose Seal*

      I tell co-workers what they need to know if an ambulance needed to be called. But I wear a medical bracelet and I’m going to get asked about it sooner or later anyway.

      This is the thing I’ve noticed, though: Once I’ve told that I have The Illness, that’s all people will ask me about. For instance, I see one of the managers in passing once every week or ten days (he works out of another location) and he always greets me and asks how The Illness is going. Co-workers I see every day will ask at least twice a week. My mother-in-law asks me every time I see her. I get super frustrated about it because The Illness is for the most part under control and there is only a small chance they will ever have to do anything about it. But once I’ve told, I will always remain The Person With The Illness.

      1. Anon this thread*

        That’s what I am worried about (besides the big one of being thought of as less capable or a liability or whatever dumb misconceptions people have…) – that as soon as I walk a bit funny (because I tried a new exercise the day before) or sneeze a bit (because I often do and not because I am on immunosuppressive drugs) everyone will ask whether I am okay, whether I need a sick day, whether I need to sit down, and so on. I am a person first and foremost and not a person with rheumatoid arthritis. That is just a part of me.

        1. fposte*

          In my experience, most people don’t, because they have their own problems and illnesses to think about. If anything, it goes the other way–even though you’re limping heavily and using a cane, they’re going to need to be told that you need to take the elevator or are going to be taking a day off.

        2. Loose Seal*

          Honestly, I think when people that don’t know me that well outside of work (and I include my MIL in that group) see me, they just say the first thing they remember about me, which is my illness. If I had a hobby that I brought into the office with pictures or whatever, they’d probably remember that more and ask about that.

          So my lesson for myself in the future is to pretend to be a big sports fanatic and litter my office with sports trinkets so that I’m the Baseball Person when people see me.

        3. Anonsie*

          There may be some people who do this, but I don’t see this nearly as much as I see people act confused when you actually do need some time off or can’t do something physical one day. And you remind them, “Remember this? I’m having a hard time right now.” They act surprised as if they assumed you would just be better by now, where did this come from?

    3. A Teacher*

      Mom has glaucoma and Sjögren’s syndrome. She doesn’t go out of her way to broadcast it, but it comes up. Doesn’t really care if people know but it’s not a conversation that she initiates on her own.

    4. Sandy*

      Rheumatoid here as well. Diagnosed at 25, now 30.

      Everything you have said here rings true for me as well. It’s hard to explain RA I a way that doesn’t make people think OMG CRISIS LIKE CANCER or minimize it as if it’s the sniffles. It occupies this weird in-between space…

      The one concrete thing I have started doing to respond to the unknowns is putting a little bit of money away each month in a special “RA account”. Basically, if I put the money away now, I figure that later on, if I need to take unpaid time off, or the insurance company stops paying for my mess, I will have a nice cushion to fall back on. It also helps me feel a teensy weensy bit more in control of a disease that doesn’t seem to appreciate control very much.

    5. fposte*

      Ugh. Sorry, that’s tough, and painful and debilitating.

      I have a few things, some of which I don’t talk about to most colleagues (there’s only so much you want to say the word “bowel” to your boss’s boss, you know? And the gyno stuff is even less conversation-ready). I’ve been fortunate in that I do have pretty substantial pain-free and illness-free periods, but that also means I get very indignant when things flare up or fail to subside as hoped, because weren’t we just getting along fine and what did I do to you to deserve this?

      I don’t generally mention them to people unless they’re causing problems or it’s deeply relevant to the conversation. That means friends know because they’ve known me through times when they’re causing problems; long-term staff know about some of them because they’ve been there through the diagnoses and surgeries. But since my issues tend to be outliers that require explanation, and they’re in the group that isn’t going to kill me or send me to the ER, I generally don’t share details with people until they need to know, because it feels too defining to me. If I get more impaired, I’ll probably have to change that, but so far it’s working for me.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I have had people tell me “I have X going on. I want you to know, so you understand when you see me doing a or b. But I don’t want it to be a topic for daily discussion.”

      Hey, that works for me. Gives me enough to roll with stuff that comes up AND let’s me know where we stand in terms of talking about the mattter.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        How many t’s in the word “matter”? Oh, let’s use 12 or 15. That sounds good.

    7. Prickly Pear*

      My best friend has a chronic illness. I personally think it’s when she faces something she could do with ease before her diagnosis but can’t do at all now or to a very limited degree that all the negatives come to the fore. I’ll tell you what I tell her- it’s okay to think this sucks. It really, really does. Especially when she’s in flare and hospitalized. Positive thinking is well and good, but pretending that sickness is sunshine and rainbows does no one favors.
      As for disclosure- her situation is a little easier in that regard because she kinda freelances and doesn’t do a typical 9-5, which wouldn’t be sustainable for her. Personally, I’ve seen it both be a double-edged sword at work, but I’ve also been pleasantly surprised recently about an accidental illness disclosure at my job. Other than us saying ‘oh wow’ people have been accepting and supportive. I fully expected DRAMA and I’m so glad to be wrong!

    8. Also anon for this*

      Hi Anon. You have my sympathy. I’m currently on a path to a possible spondyloarthritis diagnosis. I’ve been in a new workplace for about 5 months, and I’ve been free of a major flare up so my new coworkers haven’t seen me take a bunch of sick time or use a cane. I’m 29 so I feel incredibly weird using a cane and often opt to just not leave home, ugh. I just moved to a city that is very outdoorsy and bicycle-friendly, so many new people I meet invite me on bike rides or mountain hikes for a fun and low-cost activity and I have to either explain or awkwardly turn them down. I also prefer to avoid heavy lifting (including moving compressed gas cylinders in my workplace) in case I have sudden sharp pain. I don’t have a formal diagnosis yet, either, but just an orthopedic specialist’s recommendation to avoid bicycling and high impact things based on degeneration on my x-rays. So the explanation feels weird, and messes with my head–like they’ll think I’m making it up… or maybe I’m just making it up and it’s not actually that bad. But it is that bad. Invisible illness is the worst. I like to hope that having a diagnosis will make it easier to explain but maybe it’ll just be complicated in a different way.

    9. littlemoose*

      I have a chronic GI condition, and was recently in the hospital for a tangentially related condition (second time this year, scowl). Before this year, I had really been doing well most of the time, thankfully. I told my supervisors in private just so they wouldn’t wonder why I took longer bathroom breaks sometimes, and they were very understanding. I’ve mentioned it to coworkers when it comes up organically in conversation, and usually they express empathy but it doesn’t become A Thing. My friends also know about it, but we don’t talk about my health much unless I am having an acute flare or something. Actually I mostly get curious questions about celiac disease (which is not the aforementioned GI condition – pretty sure my insurance company has bought my gastroenterologist a boat). I don’t mind answering those.

      As for your second question – I think about it sometimes. Like I said, I recently had an acute related illness, so that’s been at the forefront lately. But when I’m doing okay, I usually only think about it if I’m dealing with medication side effects (have had some trouble tolerating immunosuppressants). It’s been part of my life for more than ten years now, basically all of my adult life, so I’m pretty used to it. Outside the context of acute illness and medication side effects, it weighed on my mind mostly when I was underemployed and worried about health insurance. I was very fortunate to be eligible for COBRA and that my parents were able and willing to pay for it, because I would have been screwed without it.

      I’m sorry you have to deal with this. I had a friend with RA and I know how tough it could be for her sometimes. And it is frustrating when you’re relatively young (I’m 31) and almost all of your friends are healthy as horses. Doesn’t feel fair, I know.

    10. Anonsie*

      I haven’t yet come up with a way to deal with it with other people. Because it took so long to get a diagnosis, I’m still trying to figure out how to get that switch from not knowing what’s going on to knowing but still not knowing what to share with people.

      A similar thing happened to me, actually, after my rheumatologist appointment where they took some blood for genetic testing and told me it looked very much like I had inherited my dad’s illness. They gave me a prescription for some NSAID to sort of tide me over until the tests came back and they knew what else to do, but they also expected I’d still need to stay on it long term so I should stay hydrated, protect my stomach, etc. I went to the pharmacy to fill the prescription and asked the pharmacist if there was anything I should know about making it easier on your stomach, and she said it didn’t really matter since I was “young and healthy” and that was only an issue for people that had a *real* issue and needed it long term. I went back to work and gave my supervisor an update (I was out for a lot of appointments around then) and they told me not to worry because I was “young and healthy” and it couldn’t be that bad.

    1. Kmc*

      Best -We had an amazing dinner Friday night for my husband’s bday at a steakhouse he’s been wanting to try. Everything we ordered was amazing.

      Worst – it’s been a pretty good week, all in all. Worst may be a shoulder/neck muscle that keeps giving me issues, but that’s really not all that bad.

    2. Claire*

      Best: saw Guardians of the Galaxy on Thursday and it was great! Also I am staying at my aunt’s house and looking after their dog for a week while they are on holiday, so I have this big house near the beach (OK so it’s a Scottish beach, so you know, but still!) and a dog and it’s lovely.

      Worst: my niece isn’t able to come stay with me this weekend like she usually does, and I miss her.

    3. kas*

      Best: went to a Bruno Mars concert … didn’t think it was possible for me to love him any more.

      Worst: my week was pretty good, no real complaints.

    4. Rebecca*

      Best: My new Adidas orange trail hiking shoes from 6PM are awesome! They are just perfect for my walking needs. Free shipping, and they arrived within a few days of ordering, even with the 5-10 business day free shipping.

      Worst: I dropped my 30 year old coffee mug in the sink this morning, and it cracked the whole way up the side, rendering it useless for coffee :( I can’t bear to throw it away, so it’s being reassigned to the task of holding the dry erase markers and clothespins I keep on top of the fridge. Markers for the dry erase board I use for the grocery list, and clothespins to close up food packages without zip closures. Sighs.

    5. Felicia*

      Best: I went to a Doctor Who fanfiction show and they read and acted out a fanfic where all 13 doctors had an orgy with each other. It was hilarious!

      Worst: Had a migraine on Friday, my first in a few years.

    6. sunflower*

      Best-started fertility treatment for second child yesterday!! I finally lost the 35 pounds from my last pregnancy 3 years ago (also ivf). We are hopeful it will work again!

      Worst-trying to navigage the progression of my MILs dementia. We saw her yesterday for dinner. She’s only 72 and is slipping away. :(

    7. Anonymint*

      Best: Friends over for a dinner party last night!

      Worst: An epic hangover this morning. I haven’t had one like this since college (almost 10 years ago…) I guess we’re getting too old to party too hard!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Best: My back-ordered Eddie Bauer raincoat finally showed up! And it fits! Should be perfect not only for my holiday, but also our stupid, wet, windy, Midwestern fall weather. I have a wardrobe of coats because in one fall/winter season, we repeatedly go from hoodie to parka to jacket to raincoat to parka to OMG-I-am-smothering.

      It’s this coat. I got the brown one in Tall.

      Worst: I discovered the hard way that I can’t eat certain fast food items anymore. The nausea just isn’t worth it. Oh well; I’m better off not eating it anyway. Bye bye, Sonic.

      1. Artemesia*

        LOL on the coats things. I moved from a muggy southern town to a big northern city at retirement and find that I now use every single coat I ever own and have bought a couple new ones — every month seems to have different coat requirements. Sometimes the same day has different coat requirements. I am so glad I didn’t get rid of the coats I ‘never wore’ as I sure do now.

    9. Laura*

      Best – got my kids the swim lesson schedule I wanted. (Which means September-December will not be hideously unpleasant for me because of the swim lesson schedule, so this is a major victory for _my_ sanity, the boys wouldn’t mind a bad schedule much if at all.)

      Worst – Major oops at work, I won’t go into it but it caused some very visible problems and I especially hate it when I screw up in a way that doesn’t get caught before it hits the fan full-force. :(

    10. Chris*

      Best – Had a really fun day yesterday at a community arts festival with two good friends. We saw lots of great local artists, ate a delicious meal, and saw a great band.

      Worst – I thought that work was going to slow down a bit for August and September, but this week it became clear that I’m going to have to continue working long hours to keep up.

    11. danr*

      Best : had minimally invasive spine surgery to correct a herniated disc and sciatica nerve pain. The pain is gone.
      Worst: recovering from the surgery. Can’t lift, can’t stand easily, can’t cook, can’t lift the cat (he’s big) and walking is painful.
      Back to best: the 24 hr pain *is* gone and I should concentrate on that. The rest will follow.

    12. Gene*

      Best – The new office kitty (see above).

      Worst – Massive depression hit. I am finally making plans to put my first wife’s remains where she wanted them. It’s been almost 20 years, and I still talk to her sometimes when I’m out in the shed. But it’s time.

    13. Bea W*

      Best – New laptop! It’s PURPLE!

      Worst – toss up between hearing about more budget cuts that are costing us a warm productive body, and my neighbor being convinced that the lock is broken and won’t hear that she’s the only one who has issues with it (as well as all her own locks – not just the common locks). She was leaning on my buzzer at midnight to get in. She didn’t even TRY to unlock the door, even though after the fact she tried the key she had with her (which is my spare) and it worked.

    14. Prickly Pear*

      Best: The concert that I’d been waiting for since May happened this week. I was a little worried about getting around because the concert was in a city that I’d been to, but only on the other side of town. I found a place to stay on airbnb, I used Uber to get around and everything went off as it should, including the concert! It made for a nice mini-vacation.
      Worst: We’re having an audit this week, so last week at work we were all scrambling to get up to par. The part that I contribute had been sidelined for months, thanks to my boss, and when he finally realized that there was an issue he was like “well, get it all done now” as he sailed out the door. Ugh. I tried to catch up the best I could, but finally I threw my hands up. I’ll just report what happened and be bluntly honest.

    15. Elkay*

      Best: Yesterday I managed to run further than I’ve run before. I’ve also got all the pictures back on the wall. The ones that were taken down in October “just until we decide what to do with the furniture”. The furniture was done in May.

      Worst: I cannot find anything to get enthusiastic about for my job.

    16. Trixie*

      Best: Taught two more times this week and feeling more solid about certain aspects each time. And did really well this week with adding more greens to my usual meals, whether kale or swiss chard.

      Worst: Procrastinated on a small project for no real good reason. Got it done by getting it started as a first step, and giving myself something to tweak when I came back to it the next day. Baby steps, and better done than perfect.

    17. Ruffingit*

      Worst: The whole week was full of anxiety over various things.

      Best: Had my first weekend off since I started my new job and damn did I need that!! Feel so much more refreshed.

    18. Windchime*

      Best–“Mom’s weekend”! My sister and I have adult sons of similar ages (two each), plus a couple of future daughters-in-law. All the kids were here and we all spent the weekend together eating, drinking and laughing. Last night was “seafood night” and we made an amazing jumble of shrimp, crab, mussels, clams, corn, potato, sausage….OMG, so good! Add in lots of beer and wine and laughter and it was an amazing night.

      Worst–It’s warm and humid here in my part of the PNW. Which is fine, except for houses here generally don’t have AC so it takes forever for the house to cool off. Not a huge problem if that’s the worst thing in my week. :)

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Best: sunshine and making plans for a long weekend next week – going to St. Andrews and a stay in a posh hotel with a boy.

        Worst: seems like my laptop battery has finally given up, so I can only use my mobile phone and am without anything to watch DVDs on as I don’t have a DVD player…oh, and the battery seems expensive :(

  18. Caro*

    I wanted to thank the folks who posted last weekend about my situ with my mentally ill roommate. I have moved out today – lost two weeks’ rent in the process – but the new place is somewhere I can stay while I work out what to do long term.

    I didn’t yet tell my roommate’s mom about the mental health issue as she is also the landlady, and she has my security deposit.

    Anyway, thanks all for your help.

    1. Rebecca*

      I’m glad you were able to extricate yourself from this. Hopefully you’ll get your security deposit back, but if not, at least you’re in a safe place and you won’t have to worry about all the drama. The roommates Mom may get the hint if all her renters leave except her daughter, and each one of you tells her the same thing.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      Maybe tell her mom why you moved out after you have your deposit? Glad you are out of that situation.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I wish someone had said it to me years ago.

          Now I have 27 ways of saying that.

          I don’t want to be THAT person that fails to point out when something is not manageable by one single person alone.

  19. AMD*

    My husband was out of town for a week, and a single male friend invited me out to a restaurant, preemptively offering to pay. I am 100% sure he was just being friendly, and but I turned him down, citing our attempt to reduce restaurant food for the month.

    If this situation comes up again, is there any way to tactfully explain that while I appreciate the offer, I just don’t feel appropriate being taken out to a restaurant by a man when my husband isn’t around? I don’t want to make things awkward of dramatic, or seem like I think he’s making advances, because again, 100% certainty he isn’t.

    1. Tomato Frog*

      Would you feel more comfortable if it wasn’t dinner? If you would enjoy spending time with him, you can suggest coffee or lunch (or non-date-like outing) instead. If you don’t want to do anything with him without your husband, turn down his invitations but invite him to do something with you when your husband gets back. I wouldn’t explain anything. It can only be awkward, at best.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Listen to you gut. Don’t go.

      He may not ask again. If he does ask if you can have a rain check for a time when Hubby is around and the three of you can go together and you each will pay your own way.

      I think if you come up with a counter-offer that will squelch the issue.

      (hee-hee, you can say you are one of those annoying people that always includes their spouse! hee-hee!)

    3. Graciosa*

      I have a bit of a different perspective on this. You have a friend who offered to take you to dinner while your husband is out of town for a week (and you might presumably be in need of company / conversation / a chance to get out of the house). Although this friend has displayed zero romantic interest, you declined because he’s male.

      Um – ?????

      This kind of thing is why single people have a hard time having a non-romantic social life. Are we only allowed to go out on dates, with same sex friends, or as the lone single adjunct to a group of people who are paired off?

      For all you know, he offered to pay in part because he wanted a woman’s perspective about how to move a relationship forward with the current object of his interest and you were the only woman he trusted enough (as a FRIEND – is this sinking in?) to ask. Or he just wanted to get out of the house himself and thought you might be willing to chat over a bite to eat (offering to pay as the person issuing the invitation because that’s the polite thing to do) – which is a pretty traditional social invitation.

      And you feel awkward going – to a public restaurant – with a friend – who has displayed no romantic interest in you – because he’s male.

      Just so you know, half a century ago, it was considered perfectly normal and proper for a man to escort a woman married to someone else to a social event (and yes, take her to dinner) when her husband was not available – and sometimes even if he was. It was considered normal to occasionally want to converse to someone other than your spouse (whom you presumably got to spend time with at home) without treating this as a sign of infidelity.

      I’m not quite sure when or even if this changed, but if it has, it is not for the better. I’m torn between advising you to get over yourself and have dinner with your friend and wondering whether it’s better for everyone all around if he can find someone a little more welcoming with whom to share a meal.

      1. Steve G*

        Ditto. And as someone who has a higher than average income I often wonder about whether I should offer to pay for stuff but don’t know how to do it because I’d come across a desperate. But if I want to go to a nice restaurant or expensive amusement park or whatever and I want someone to come, I’d rather pay for them than not go at all. But then the dynamics of that get weird, like with this situation.

        1. Prickly Pear*

          Exactly. If the two of us want to do something together, why let a little thing like finances get in the way? Of course, I have someone in my life that would gladly let me pay for everything, so it makes me not want to, and the person that I’d shell out to get to spend more time with feels super uncomfortable when I reach for my wallet.

      2. Chris*

        Agree. I don’t really understand what is inappropriate about these situations. Neither my husband or I would find this problematic in our relationship at all. To each their own, I guess.

      3. Anonsie*

        I have to agree, this is hardly inappropriate behavior. Especially since you seem very certain that there was no inappropriate intent, what’s the issue?

    4. Dani S*

      My go-to move in this kind of situation is turning it into a group activity. So when he says, “Do you want to go to dinner Thursday?” you say something like, “That sounds fun! Who all is coming?” or “Why don’t we see if Joe and Mary want to come along too?” If he pushes it to just be one-on-one, I would say something like, “That sounds like fun, but my husband and I have agreed not to do one-on-one things with people of the opposite gender (or whatever your agreement is–that’s my husband’s and mine), even when it’s just a good friend and there’s nothing there. But I’d love to get a group together sometime!” I had to have that talk with someone when my husband and I were dating, and it was really awkward (although I was 90% sure the guy in question had feelings for me).

      1. LAI*

        Agreed, my go-to move is also to invite another person if I’m not comfortable going alone. But I also agree with the posters above that if you’re 100% sure that this guy DOESN’T have romantic intentions, then you should feel free to dine alone with him if you want to — if you don’t want to, that’s one thing, but I don’t think that the fact that you’re married makes it inappropriate.

    5. Mephyle*

      Here’s a script: “Sorry I’m not free this week. Would you be able to come for supper/go out on [day next week], though?” It’s 100% true, yet doesn’t get into the awkwardness that you want to avoid.

    6. smilingswan*

      This seems a bit sexist to me. Even if he were to hit on you, what’s the big deal? You can turn him down, right? What if it was a gay woman, would you go then?

      I’ve never been married, so I don’t know how I’d truly feel in this situation, but I would hope my partner and I would have enough trust in each other to allow for this kind of casual activity between friends.

  20. anon in the uk*

    I have hypermobility EDS and can identify with some of what say. I have often found the most difficult thing to be explaining that I am well because I do my exercises, take my medication and rest a lot, and overdoing it without preparation will send me to bed for three days.
    Well, that and the old ‘yes, I have just waved my hand and partially dislocated my thumb. Yes, it does that. No, I don’t need an ambulance. Ice and painkillers please’

    1. manager anonymous*

      Do you tell people that you have EDS? I find it difficult to explain the “you sure look okay, how did you rate a space in the parking lot when the waiting list is years long” I’ve stopped saying “bad hips” as that just invites a steady stream of “how’s your hip?” “oh it looks like you are doing much better” ” are you going to have it replaced…my aunt, my mom, my cousin, my…..had their hip replace, they are good as new”

      1. anonintheUK*

        Now and then, yes. Because sometimes you really need to explain that it’s not just that you don’t WANT to do thing X, but it will be dangerous and I will dislocate something.

    2. Anonsie*

      Oh man, do you have a way of telling people what you have in a simple way that doesn’t ruin the atmosphere of a casual conversation? I can’t find the balance between “yes it’s real and it can be a problem” and “this is just a cordial chat”

  21. Loose Seal*

    Outlander — The TV series. Anyone watched yet? The first episode is on the Starz channel on YouTube and I think it’s on Starz’s website as well although someone told me when she tried to watch it there, it was super laggy.

    Thoughts? Opinions?

    1. Traveler*

      Watched it and love it. I’ve only read the first book of the series, trying to get to the second one but I thought it was fantastic. I love the images of Scotland. I wish there had been more going on in the first episode, but obviously they have to set the background.

    2. Steve G*

      Any other shows you can recommend? Every new show seems to be too much about death, vampires, and explosions. I still family oriented shows or tv drama shows like Melrose Place….and fantasy shows like Tales from The Crypt…without too much violence, cursing, etc. Any ideas? I barely watch tv anymore but for documentaries cuz I don’t know what to watch.

      1. Felicia*

        I’m really liking United States of Tara, which you can watch on Netflix. No vampires, death , explosion or any supernatural elements. It’s a family drama/comedy where the main character suffers from dissociative identity disorder

      2. Loose Seal*

        On Netflix:

        The Paradise. I don’t remember any cursing and there’s not a lot of violence other than a guy throwing a punch here or there.

        I hear great things about Cedar Cove but I haven’t yet watched it so I can’t recommend it myself.

        If you haven’t worked your way through Psych (a comedy) or The West Wing (the greatest TV show ever, as far as I’m concerned), they might fit the bill.

        All Creatures Great and Small. It’s based on books written by a veterinarian in Scotland around WWII. There is the occasional death of an animal but it’s pretty gentle.

        Are you into British comedies? I like Keeping Up Appearances, Fawlty Towers, and The Vicar of Dibley.

        Possibly Saving Grace. I caught one episode while staying in a hotel and it seems to fit your criteria. I haven’t watched the whole series so I can’t say for certain but it seemed wholesome with happy endings.

        1. Steve G*

          I watched every Keeping Up Appearances but none of the others. Maybe I’ll give them a shot. Thanks!

        2. Carrie in Scotland*

          I really enjoyed Cedar Cove! A nice, easy way to spend an hour. And Pacey’s brother from Dawson’s Creek (the policeman) is the love interest!

        3. De Minimis*

          I loved Saving Grace, but it’s not a family oriented show…one of the recurring themes is Grace’s very, very active sex life with numerous men.

          1. De Minimis*

            Oh, should have read more closely….Saving Grace is no worse than Melrose Place [hey a rhyme!] but it is about a homicide detective so there’s always a murder. It also gets pretty dark at times, many of the characters are dealing with the aftermath of the Oklahoma City bombing.

    3. Sabrina*

      Yes! It was awesome! Very true to the book. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the series.

      1. cuppa*

        I was really disappointed in the way she said “Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ”. I thought it was a little weak.
        I thought the show was a little slow, but then I remember the book being a little slow at first too — I was ready to keep watching when the credits started rolling!

    4. Purr purr purr*

      I’ve read all the books except Moby and love them but I’m not sure about the TV series. There was loads of drama on Diana Gabaldon’s page about how Sam wasn’t a good Jamie but having just seen that first episode, I think he’s great in the part. I’m really not so sure about the actress playing Claire though. I always pictured Claire in my head almost as a Captain Janeway sort of figure – a bit more brusque, no-nonsense and commanding.

      Still, first episode so maybe I’ll change my mind. What did you think?

      1. Loose Seal*

        Yes, I see book-Claire the way you do too. I figured they had to show TV-Claire a little tentative at first to show her nervousness at re-connecting with Frank and then again when she went through the stones. I expect her to get tough by the time of the boar hunt at Castle Leoch, if they keep that in, otherwise I’m going to be irritated. One of the reasons I like the books so much is that she’s not your typical historical romance heroine who can’t do anything but wait for the hero to rescue her. Of course, that happens some but the women in these books tend to kick ass and I can’t wait to see Claire start to do it.

  22. Ali*

    I am away this weekend with a friend, and while I’m having fun…albeit I’m not particularly in love with the city I’m in (first trip here) I’m finding that I would just rather travel alone. Does anyone else think this way?

    Sometimes I just feel like it can be almost tiring to deal with someone who openly admits they have book smarts but no common sense. My friend couldn’t even use the kiosk to buy the transit ticket we needed without my help (I travel frequently to another big city, sometimes for work, sometimes to visit family, so that kind of thing is secondhand to me) and has just been intolerant of the subway that is getting us around. I have also heard the same stories for the third or fourth time over and feel drained. We have had other good times too though so this isn’t a matter of dropping a friendship…just a travel preference thing.

    I will be on a solo trip next week to apartment sit and explore NYC while my sister is away. I do this for her every summer and can’t wait to largely be solo, not have to deal with someone who can’t even understand how to buy a subway ticket, etc. Maybe it just makes me a bad friend or an impatient person though.

    I also am considering taking a cruise on my own next year when I turn 30 if it helps with any advice.

    1. kas*

      Yes, I feel that way sometimes because the friend I normally travel with always has some sort of ache or pain. It’s always “my feet hurt… my legs hurt… I’m tired…” She also walks slow so it takes us forever to get places. I like to explore and she just likes to relax.

      I’m a bit nervous to travel by myself though.

    2. Anon*

      I absolutely prefer to travel alone. Even if a person is a great travel partner, I just prefer to stay in my own hotel room and see what I want to see when I want to see it without worrying about someone else’s preferences. A travel partner who isn’t resourceful or able to figure things out would drive me nuts and I would have a hard time staying friendly (I get that some people just don’t have that skill and don’t deserve unkindness for it, I’d just get so cranky about it that I’d have a hard time not snapping). I grew up, got through college, etc entirely without public transportation and I’m able to figure things out. I don’t LOVE it (I just don’t get why bus drivers always yell at you for not having a detailed intuitive understanding of how things work in their area and daring to ask a question) but I deal and I’ve never had issues ultimately finding my way.

    3. ClaireS*

      Oh my patience would be so tested. I enjoy travelling alone and with a few specific people but I am not a supportive person when it comes to non-common sense travellers.

      I’m in a program where I have to travel with a big group of many non-travellers and my patience gets worn very thin.

      Good luck and enjoy your upcoming solo adventure!

    4. the gold digger*

      I knew my husband would be a good match when we took a trip to Morocco together just a few months after we started dating and it was a success. We travel very well together. I have traveled with friends and not had it go well, so I can understand why you would rather travel alone. However, when you do find someone who likes to do the same things you do (Sewer museum in Paris! grocery stores in Morocco!) and who doesn’t have to be babied, it’s really nice.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        This. It’s not so much that you like to travel alone, you just like to travel with a specific type of travel partner. Although my husband and I have traveled extensively domestically, our first international trip is coming up and we’ll see how it goes! hah

    5. Katie the Fed*

      I traveled along lots in my 20s and early 30s! I loved it so much. You can do whatever you want without having to deal with another person. I’m VERY, very lucky now that my fiance and I are very similar in how we travel, because it probably would have been a dealbreaker if we couldn’t travel well together.

      I don’t recommend all-inclusive resorts if you’re traveling alone. I did that once and it was really weird – I was the only singleton and I was bored out of my mind anyway (realized that I don’t really like resorts), and the staff treated me like some kind of freak because I was on my own.

      1. De Minimis*

        I traveled alone a lot in my 20s too….visiting a new city was always fun. I think more structured travel activities might be a little less enjoyable by yourself though.

    6. Not Myself Today*

      I LOVE to travel on my own. I too know how to get around in different cities, and do not particularly want to spend my vacation time worrying about accommodating someone else’s idiosyncrasies. I have also found myself escorting someone with considerably less travel experience on what was supposed to be a shared trip. These types of “vacations” are not relaxing.

      On my own, I can decide to try a new food for lunch – or skip it because I’m not hungry yet and have an early tea instead – or go to the museum today instead of Thursday even if that means dropping the prepaid tour from the carefully planned itinerary – or waste a few hours in a fascinating little shop just off the main road. I have traveled on my own to multiple countries on four continents, and have had a wonderful time doing it. I have also taken a two week transatlantic cruise by myself, which I also thoroughly enjoyed, and met some fascinating people – traveling solo doesn’t mean being anti-social.

      The hardest part of this is navigating conversations about it (not that hard with some practice, but the travel part is a piece of cake and the conversational stuff still requires a bit of thought). You need to say with confidence that you’re looking forward to the trip alone / that you enjoy traveling alone / that you’re *really* looking forward to getting away on your own enough times to reassure other people that this is a good thing.

      There are people who find traveling alone scary – they’re usually the ones who toward the end of a conversation about your trip when they finally decide you’re really not unhappy about going alone will tell you how “brave” you are – and they have a hard time believing that you are not as frightened as they would be. They are happy to trade the less relaxing aspects of traveling with others for the reassurance of not being Alone in a Strange Land, so they will not understand that you could weigh these alternatives and make a different choice. Making too much of the difficulties of traveling with others who don’t feel the same way will make you seem anti-social, so you have to play up the positives and not mention the very real negatives that you can avoid by leaving your regular companions at home.

      This does not make you a bad person – you just prefer to share other, less taxing experiences than traveling with friends and family on occasion. As long as you keep spending time with them in other ways, you have no reason to feel guilty for your solo adventures.

      Bon voyage!

    7. Traveler*

      Yep. I love traveling alone. I put it off for a long time because I could always find someone to go with me – and that generally makes things cheaper (shared expenses and all). Plus I was always worried I’d get to lonely. I finally went alone and I definitely want to do it more often. I’ve traveled with way too many people who aren’t interested in seeing/doing the things I want, or they get bored with traveling after a day or two and just want to go home. It’s so much better to just be able to see and do what you want when you want.

    8. Steve G*

      I like to travel alone too. I once had a bad experience travelling in Poland with someone I wasn’t great friends with (lived in Europe at the time so it wasn’t a big deal). He must have had stomach issues so wanted bland food and no drinking while there….meanwhile one of draws to Poland is the food and drinks! I so wanted to go out on the town in Warsaw but my friend didn’t, so I didn’t

    9. Prickly Pear*

      I love solo vacationing. I can do things at my own pace, eat when and where I want, not feel rushed in museums, etc. I mentioned above that I went to an out-of-town concert this week. It was so nice deciding to hit the road when I wanted, to stop at every rest area (I’m fascinated with them) and the best part coming back was when I was detoured from the highway to a back road, taking me through every city between there and here. I’m totally going to take that way again, it was so enjoyable and relaxing.

    10. Nope*

      Sad, but the person I really don’t like traveling with is my wife; we travel so differently. Especially road trips.

      It starts with packing; I can go for three or four weeks with just a carry on, she needs a full suitcase to go a week (plus her sundries carry on). I’m packed, except for prescription drugs two or three days in advance, she doesn’t start until the night before.

      Flying, I get to the airport and through security at least an hour ahead and relax, she feel she’s too early if they aren’t boarding when she gets to the gate. She’s commented how relaxing it is when we do it on my timetable, but won’t do it that way unless forced.

      Road trips are excruciating. I have no problem stopping to see things, and have had days <100 miles due to playing tourist. But I'm out the door by 9 and I travel until about 6 if I'm playing tourist; if I'm traveling to get somewhere I'm out the door by 8 and travel until dark. If she's with me we don't get out of the hotel until 10 at the very earliest, and we're looking for a hotel by 4. We've never made more than 300 miles a day together; alone I regularly make twice that and have lots of 1000+ mile days. When we visited family in the Midwest from the west coast a few years ago I put her on an airplane home so we could spend time with family; what took us 10 days to get there took me three to get home. That's when I flat said we're never taking a road trip together again without an RV.

      1. Nope*

        Oh yeah, food.

        I LOVE small, local diners, I’ll stop for an hour at a barbeque stand. Local specialty? I’m in. Unusual ethnic? Oh yeah!

        Her, national, fast casual chains (except Hooters). If I never see the inside of another Panera, I’ll be ecstatic.

        1. Ruffingit*

          That really sucks, sorry. My ex-husband was awful to travel with so I can relate to the difficulties of that. Thankfully, my husband now is wonderful to travel with, we’re very compatible in our travel styles. It does help a lot to have that.

    11. Purr purr purr*

      I travel alone a lot. It’s my default setting. When I travel with others, I get impatient because I need my alone time and a lot of people don’t understand that need (it’s definitely a need, not a want!) I’m also of the opinion that if I’ve spent hundreds or thousands of dollars getting somewhere then I want to see the tourist attractions that interest me but if there’s another person to consider, it can mean compromising and missing out. The only people I can tolerate travelling with are my family because, having grown up with them (obviously), we’re very similar in how we want to spend our time and our rest days vs activity days ratio. Oh, and I also find that when travelling with another person, one person (me) usually does all the work of logistics for the trip whereas the other person gets to relax and come along for the ride.

      Plus, you never know how much a bad holiday can affect a good friendship until it happens. My high school best friend and I went abroad and she was such a pain. She suggested hiring a car, which I paid for because her doctorate grant hadn’t come through, and then after I’d been driving for five hours, I asked if we could swap because I was tired and she told me she couldn’t drive! I was fuming to find out she had suggested hiring a car knowing full well I’d be doing all the work. I paid for the car, the fuel, did the taxi driver part… And at the start of our second week, my debit card went missing and I had no access to my money and had just $20 in my purse. The day before she told me her grant had come through and she had £5,000 in her account. I asked if I could borrow some money and she said no! I was shocked because at the time I was working full-time in a highly-paid job so I was good for it (plus she owed me for the hire car) and she just left me with $20 to last me a week. I ended up having to phone my parents who wired out some money to a shop, which was a 14km round-trip walk, and that I did actually walk in 32C heat, all because my ‘friend’ was too selfish to loan me $200 or whatever. Our friendship has never been the same because I found out that, in a crunch, I can’t rely on her and so I don’t trust her. You need to be able to trust the people you travel with.

      So yeah, enjoy your stress-free solo trips!

      1. Ruffingit*

        OMG, your friend sucks so bad! I would consider ending a friendship over something like that. That level of selfishness is not something I could tolerate. UGH, so sorry.

      2. Windchime*

        Grrrr, how awful! Reminds me of a friend, years ago, who was moving back to the midwest. We had plans to drive out together in a moving van (towing his truck), camping along the way. I would then fly home. I purchased my one-way ticket from Michigan to the PNW. Then he decided that it would be better if his folks came out with their semi and hauled his stuff home. So I was stuck with a one way ticket ($400 + dollars) that I couldn’t use. Yeah, I was kinda pissed.

  23. manager anonymous*

    Totally off topic but I know there are a lot of YA and Children’s lit fans who haunt this blog. I saw a preview of the The Giver by Lois Lowry. Can’t say much about it (the deal was reviews have to wait for Aug. 12) but I just wanted to give “my people” the heads up. You won’t be disappointed.

    1. AKB*

      I’m glad to hear that. Honestly, I was really skeptical when I saw the trailer. While Jonas was completely the wrong age and it looked like they had changed some major details, I can get over those things if the spirit of the story was captured.

      1. manager anonymous*

        yes, I got over the Jonas is the wrong age immediately as it makes sense in the film.

    2. Chris*

      I hope it is better than Ender’s Game. I felt like they sacrificed a lot of Ender’s turmoil and angst he carried around with the actor choice- not to mention marginalizing Peter’s impact on this psyche. Hopefully they don’t do the same with The Giver. The book made me cry rivers, so I’m hoping the movie has the same emotion.

      1. manager anonymous*

        Didn’t see the Enders Game movie.
        If this helps
        Holes- loved the book, loved the movie
        Percy Jackson- Lightening Thief – Loved the book , Hated the movie

  24. manager anonymous*

    Chronic illness- life and work.
    Advise- take what you like and leave the rest.

    Take your meds- talk to the Dr. about the side effects- there may be ways to mitigate or the more information gathered the pharma company will invent something new, or adjust, or find a secondary prescription that could help. If you live long enough, that can happen. I speak from experience.

    You don’t need to share with everyone but I found letting my supervisor know what’s going on helpful if I am having a “bad” day or a run of Doctor’s Appointment. Sometime a more flexible schedule helps.

    Work when you can- I am a bit of an over/achiever, type A person because I can’t predict when I am “going down” I hit deadline early as possible- I would rather have something sit for a few days than stress about incomplete work due to illness.

    Use adaptive devises- buy the coolest best crutch or cane. Show off those clunky orthopedic shoes. Need a scooter? get one.

    Get comfortable at work- I bought a small couch for my office as my hips are happier longer if I can get my feet up. Sitting at a desk is torture for me.
    Have snappy answers ready-
    Wow, what happened to you?
    A. I have trouble walking and use a crutch to help sometimes.
    B.Oh, I use this to help me walk.
    C. Sometimes I fall down. That would be bad. So I use this crutch.

    Bad days- can’t get to work- have “home work planned ” if you can even if it is only professional development reading.

  25. Sunny*

    I have been with my boyfriend for a year. While things seem great on the surface, something is bothering me.

    Whenever I express my happiness about something big or small, I get some sort of buzz kill remark from him. Example: I have been working hard on getting industry recognized professional certificates for the past year. I’m in digital marketing. The certificates pertain skills that are often listed as “required” (20% of the time) or “an asset” (80% of the time) for jobs that I am interested in. The certificates are my way of saying “I might not have 5 years of experience doing this, but here are some proof that I know enough about it” on my resume. When I finally got them, naturally I was very proud of myself. His initial comment was just a simple “that’s great baby”, and then followed by “You have 5 certificates, isn’t that too many?” If he really thinks it’s not the best idea, maybe he should’ve said something before I got them all? While he might be trying to offer constructive feedback, the comment bothered me enough that I was no longer as happy as I was before I told him about it.

    This happens enough that I’m reluctant to share good news with him, to avoid having my happiness get “tainted”. I did tell him how I feel about these unwelcomed comments a few times, but most of the time I’m just too bothered to say anything on the spot. Knowing that I can’t stay in a relationship forever like this (I’m neither too upset or too happy most of the time, which sucks if this is how it’s always going to be, I miss being crazy happy), and that it would be tough to change him (he does it with everyone else too), what changes should I make to myself and to the situation?

      1. Reader*

        “Knowing that I can’t stay in a relationship forever like this’

        I think you wrote your own answer.

        1. Sarahnova*

          Agreed. But also, for your own long-term benefit, you may want to think about how you could feel more comfortable/practise speaking up about this kind of thing. “It really bugged me when you said ‘eh, that won’t help’ about that thing I was happy about the other day. I feel like you do that a lot. It gets me down and it’s not helpful. Please quit it.” It doesn’t always have to be on the spot, either; you have every right to bring something like this up even if you miss “the window”.

          Good luck.

      1. Traveler*

        Yeah, I agree. I think you’ve already set your mind on this. I just wanted to agree though also, that crazy happy doesn’t last. Part of what makes it special is that its rare and fleeting. You have to find a happy medium where you can be content.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If you marry that, the problem will suddenly leap expediently. It will get worse. We are on our best behavior when we are dating. Just my opinion, though.

      I must have a list of about a 100 things that go into loving someone. One of the things is being invested in the other person’s happiness. This guy is not invested in your happiness and he is showing you on how many levels he is not invested in your happiness.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you try talking to him about it? It’s sort of a win-win scenario, because either you talk to him and he understands and makes a sincere effort to change (potential win, depending on how well he succeeds) or you talk to him and he blows it off (ultimate win, in that it will probably point you more clearly toward concluding that, indeed, you can’t stay in this relationship long-term). I’ll even add in a third win scenario, which is that if you can’t bring yourself to talk to him about it, that points you toward what to do also — since whether or not you can talk about stuff like this is a pretty good test of the relationship on its own.

      1. Ben*

        I’d make a list… this it? Or is this one issue of many?
        Would he put you down if you said “I look better than I have in months, this new dress highlights…”
        What would he say?

        Obviously we don’t enough- but what you are describing is really about knocking you down…

    3. Treena Kravm*

      I agree that you answered your own question, in the sense that if things stay the same, yes, it’ll end. But really, talk to him directly and openly about how it bothers you/threatens the relationship etc. and see where it goes!

      Make it a point to say something in the moment (I’m terrible at this so I give myself some slack and will say something hours later too). He’s a negative person, and he’s probably at least somewhat unaware of it, at least in how it affects you. My husband is the same way (although not in the same way, he’s my biggest cheerleader professionally) and he just needs a gentle reminder that he’s being negative and that snaps him back to realizing what he’s doing. This does rely on him wanting to change though, so that’s a key factor.

    4. Student*

      If you decide to stay with him long-term:

      How will you feel when you watch him cut down your children’s accomplishments the same way he cuts down your accomplishments?

  26. Sloop*

    Adopted a kitty last week! (or rather, she chose me.) I am concerned about her health and want a second opinion.

    The first few days, she was awesome – using the litter box, eating, playful. Wednesday night I came home from work and she didn’t want to eat her dinner. She was sneezing with some clear eye junk, so off we went to the vet on Thursday (it’s a vet clinic attached to the shelter). Vet sent us home with an antihistamine and antibiotic and told me she would feel better soon.

    I CANNOT get this cat to eat. I’ve heated up food, given her tuna, baby food, KFC with the skin off (the vet told me to try it!), “crappy” wet foot that is smellier, kitty milk… I am at my wit’s end because I cannot get the medicine in her and I fear she is losing weight.

    I called the emergency vet and they told me to go back to the original clinic I visited (they’re closed today) and am trying clinics with Sunday hours, but does anyone have any tips for getting food into a stubborn adult cat? We tried feeding her last night with a syringe and my fiancee and I both ended up covered in cat food and kitty spit.

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      If the emergency vet will sell you some science diet a/d food, it’s pretty stinky so maybe she’ll eat it. But if not, it makes a nice slurry that is easier to syringe feed (use warmish water or tuna water). Sometimes if you can get a little in them they will start eating on their own.

      Might also be good to focus more on getting fluids in her today, then get to original vet tomorrow.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      If a cat can’t smell her food (due to a stuffy nose), she might not eat. Find a vet asap who can give her the meds as an injection. It’s hard to give pills to most cats, harder with a cat you don’t have a longstanding relationship with. Kitties can die after three days with zero food.

    3. GrumpyBoss*

      I once adopted an adult car who would only eat dry Meow Mix. I never figured out why, but he wouldn’t look at canned wet food or even tuna fish.

      Seems like you’ve tried everything I would have so dry Meow Mix would be my only suggestion from personal experience.

    4. Hcat*

      After 3 days without any food or water, a cats organs begin to shut down, so it’s so important to get something into their system. You absolutely must get to a vet and ask to be prescribed an appetite stimulant, these work. I’ve had to use it for both my cats when they were sick. Also, try feeding strained food / water with an eye dropper and close the kitten’s mouth until it’s swallowed. Good luck!

    5. Laura*

      I’d get 3-4 flavors of dry food. Not the “good” stuff, the “your cat will love it” stuff. (Calories trump nutrition here.) Put them in separate bowls – consider weighing so you know how much is in there – and leave them out.

      She may eat only a little, so you may or may not be able to tell, but the dry food can sit out for hours and hours and still be just as palatable as when it went out. Then, be nowhere near the dishes and just let her decide if she’s going to eat. It’s possible she won’t do it if she knows you’re observing.

      (It might also help to put them somewhere sheltered or hidden, depending on her personality…not sure.)

      Is she drinking plenty of water?

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sloop, I HAVE THE ANSWER FOR YOU. This happened when we first had Olive — totally stopped eating and started losing weight, which is dangerous for kittens. What finally worked was Supplical or Nutrical gel (either works; we used Supplical):

      You put it on their paws and they can’t help but lick it off because they want to keep their paws clean. It stimulates their appetite (and is also packed with nutrients). A few hours later, she was eating the gel from my finger (they love the taste), and then eating food voraciously. Get it immediately (your vet will be quickest, but you can order it online — just get it quickly).

      1. AcademicAnon*

        I have the impossible cat, who when sick and the vet prescribed this, would NOT like it off his paws. I couldn’t even get him to eat it with his favorite kitty treats.

    7. Weasel007*

      Try human baby food, chicken, turkey, beef. Put it on a spoon and see if she will take it. You do need to get her to the vet first thing Monday. This is important.

    8. Lisa*

      Can you pick up a couple cans of kitten milk, the stuff that’s used to dropper-feed unweaned kittens? Warm it up a little & eyedropper it into her; you’ve got to get fluids/nutrients into her, and this is easier than trying to get dilute cat food through the dropper. Less risk of aspirating particles too. Good luck!

    9. Sloop*

      Update (and thank you all for your great advice!)

      I did what any mature late 20s adult would do and called my mom crying, ha! My FI left for Europe yesterday for work for 2 weeks and this was my first test of “Can Sloop and Mr. Sloop handle any sort of responsibility besides picking up wine every Friday?”

      We ended up at Banfield yesterday and they did a complete blood workup, urine sample, physical exam, etc. – everything came back purrrfect (sorry, I’m not punny). They gave her fluids and told me to bring her back today if she still wouldn’t eat. So, back we went today…for more fluids. We came home this evening (100% defeated, I might add) and she somehow is chowing down tuna after I brought her in the bathroom with me while I showered. She is a really awesome cat and I am so happy she is on the road to feeling better!!! thanks again, everyone!

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Glad kitty is doing better! Sometimes the fluids just jump start their appetite. Hope she’s getting those meds now and keeps eating!

  27. Rebecca*

    There’s going to be more kitten drama in my neighborhood. I live in a very rural area, and people dump off cats – a lot. They think because someone has a barn, they must need cats. Pro Tip: this is not the case! Our SPCA is overwhelmed, and has gotten repeated criticism for putting down animals, but the sad truth is there just aren’t enough people to adopt the hundreds of cats that appear every year.

    Last year it was pretty bad, so I worked with my vet to spay/neuter/rabies shots and release as many as I could. Most of them are gone now, either hit by cars or simply disappeared. I took in 3 of them – 2 delightful black and white tuxedo pattern and one that resembles a holstein cow). This year there are very few kittens, and just two regular outside cats that I have identified. One is a solid black cat, and he’s now neutered with shots. My neighbors and I feed him, and give him shelter in the wintertime. Plus, the SPCA is doing the same thing – capture, neuter/spay, rabies shots, notch the ear, and release.

    I know I’m going to cause drama with this, but the other outside female cat in the neighborhood has 2 or 3 litters per year. I figured out who owns her, but they don’t seem to really take care of her, and she just makes her rounds, eating whatever food is left out, etc. She’s pregnant again, so that means we’ll have 8 week old kittens in October, going into winter. My plan is to (1) try to tame the kittens so I can catch them and take them to the SPCA when they’re old enough, and hope they’ll be adopted, and (2) ask my vet if he will spay this cat so she can’t have any more. I don’t want to even ask the woman who seems to own her. I’ve tried to wave, say hi, etc. but she won’t speak to me. Lately she’s covered the inside of her trailer windows with some sort of foil, it appears her husband or boyfriend has left, and there’s only 1 child with her when there used to be 3.

    I haven’t told anyone else (outside of this forum) what I plan to do, so if she tosses a fit as to why her cat had surgery, no one will know or be able to tell her.

    I just hate the thought of yet another litter of kittens struggling through the winter, and if they survive, each of the females having another 4 or 5 kittens each next spring. And it really irritates me that people can’t be more responsible when it comes to pets.

    1. VintageLydia USA*

      Do it! You’ll be doing momma cat a favor. It’s rough to be pregnant that often, let alone having to deal with all the kittens come winter.

    2. BRR*

      I would normally say no but you should totally do it.

      And that’s a good idea with the kittens as kittens are more likely to get adopted.

    3. Loose Seal*

      I know you weren’t asking this but around here windows covered with foil means meth lab inside. They do that to help keep the smell contained and so people can’t look inside. It could be for a benign reason like she works nights and covers the windows so she can sleep during the day but you’d probably know that. I don’t know if I’d call the drug division of your local police force just because of covered windows but if you start to smell a strong cat urine odor coming from there or if there starts to be an awful lot of trash from meth making materials (psuedoephedrine-type pills, matchboxes, etc.), you might want to call it in.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Especially if there are kids in there.

        I second the advice to just do it. It doesn’t sound like she has the desire or the resources to, and the cat will be much better off.

      2. Monodon monoceros*

        I know this is a serious topic, so I shouldn’t think it’s funny, but I live above the Arctic Circle, so it’s 24 hrs light in the summer, so around here aluminum foil on the windows means that the person wants to sleep and can’t afford blackout curtains. Now I will be also thinking of meth labs…

        1. OriginalEmma*

          I moved relatively recently above the 60th parallel (I wonder if we’re in the same region) and now I understand why folks have tin foil on their windows. Thank you!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Social workers are aware of the correlation between animal neglect and child neglect. Where you see one, you usually see the other.
      Go with caution but keep going. You are on to something here.

    5. Monodon monoceros*

      I’m not sure the vet will do it if you tell them it’s not your cat, due to worrying about lawsuits (think of if someone caught up a purebred cat and had it spayed when the owner was thinking of adopting it…or what if the cat dies, and the owner sues? The vet won’t want to open themselves up to this possibility). I usually don’t recommend lying, but I’d be tempted to tell them you think its another stray and you want to adopt it…the vet might know what you are saying, but as long as they have plausible deniability, might be willing to look the other way even if they know its not really your cat.

      1. Rebecca*

        She’s not a purebred, and the poor thing has been around for a few years having kittens. I have just gotten to the point where I can pet her. Last year she killed a rabbit in my yard for food. It’s very sad – I’m going to tell my vet she’s a stray and that I just need her to be spayed so she quits having kittens several times a year. It makes me cry every time I have to pick up a dead cat off the road and bury it. I know some people would just toss them into the woods, or leave them lay for the crows, but I can’t do that.

        And if she dies, I’ll bury her and no one will know the difference. Cats appear and disappear all the time due to predators like coyotes, so as long as I keep my mouth shut, no one will be any wiser.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          I realise that she isn’t a purebred, and you can bury her if she dies. Those were examples of why a vet might not do the surgery if they know a cat is not actually owned by the person that brings it in.

          1. Rebecca*

            I know. I’ve had a relationship with my vet for over 25 years, and I’m pretty sure he will spay her, as our county is starting to do the same.

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              Ah, ok. I just didn’t want you to go to some vet and have them refuse to do it. Years ago I worked with a vet that would do it as long as he wasn’t specifically told it wasn’t their cat. He was happy to look the other way, but only if he could plead ignorance.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          She IS a stray, even if someone thinks they own her. If they’re not caring for her, she’s a stray.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      This is actually a very kind thing to do and many animal protection groups have programs for doing it — it’s called a spay and release program. Not wrong at all.

    7. Laura*

      You will be doing the cat a favor.

      And honestly? It sounds like she basically is a stray. That woman doesn’t sound like she is doing much for her or being any kind of a loving owner.

    8. Fucshia*

      She sounds like she is basically feral and living on her own outside. Just tell the vet she is feral and you are doing a trap and release thing.

      We actually have feral cats in my neighborhood that have become used to several humans and even let us pet and hold them. This cat may be the same way for all you know (if you know the woman bought the cat and brought her to the area, just ignore that and go along with me here).

  28. Renegade Rose*

    My best friend and I got married (to different people) around the same time. Yesterday, we had our first girls day in a few weeks and she told me that she and her husband are getting a divorce. He threw her out of the house they bought together and she doesn’t have a lot of her things (about half of her clothes and most of the other stuff she brought into the marriage). We snuck over while he was at work and got her dog (ex-husband tried to keep him but she purchased the dog before they were married and is the sole owner on his paperwork). This might sound stupid but I don’t know what to do or say about the whole situation. She is the first person I’ve been close to who has gotten a divorce. I don’t have any advice when she asks questions and I just don’t know what to do. Is there anything I can do besides being a good listener and helping her when/if she asks me to do so?

    1. The Maple Teacup*

      Take her out for icecream. Things are going to be very, very crappy for your friend for a while. The things you say can help a bit, but they won’t fix the situation. As for what to say, “I’m so sorry” variations are good. Be understanding when your friend talks about the same downer topics. Again, icecream = good.

      I was in a very similar situation last year. In a one sided decision, my husband ended our marriage. It ment a lot when people took time to feel pain with me over an iced coffee or somesuch thing.

    2. Tomato Frog*

      You went with her to liberate her dog. It sounds like you are doing exactly the sort of stuff you need to do. As for her asking you questions, she must know you don’t have all the answers, right? Sometimes you just need someone to be lost and confused with.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Bring treats over for the dog. Sometimes we can touch people’s hearts by loving the being that THEY love.

      1. Trixie*

        And fighting back the urge to offer advice unless solicited. And even then, keeping in mind this person’s nature and whether they would really hear you or follow the same path you would.

    3. Graciosa*

      Listening and following her lead is the most important thing you can do. However, if you have a good opportunity, I would urge you to encourage her to get professional help with her divorce if she doesn’t have it already. This is one of the most traumatic life events to go through, and having to make intelligent decisions about it when your heart is breaking and you can’t think properly is close to impossible.

      You can usually find help through referrals (ask around among colleagues at work if you don’t have any friends who know a good divorce attorney) or through state or local bar associations. There are sometimes programs in place to help people with limited financial resources, so don’t assume this is too expensive an option. Not getting help can cost a lot more.

      I mention it because you wrote that he threw her out of their jointly owned house – how, exactly? Normally this can’t be done absent either domestic abuse by the person ordered to stay out or a voluntary decision to leave (even if she “voluntarily” made the decision because she mistakenly believed she “had” to go when her husband ordered her out).

      I don’t want to get into particulars and I’m not equipped to advise you about this – I only mentioned it because I am concerned enough to tell you that if she doesn’t have professional help here, she definitely needs it.

      Good luck.

    4. CC*

      You’ve made a good start with listening and helping. Keep in mind that you don’t have to offer advice, saying you don’t know when you actually don’t know is allowed.

      Since you said you went over and got her dog, is it safe to assume that she still has keys to the house? If she does, you could offer to help her pack and move her stuff out (priority on the stuff important to her) while her ex is out at work, then you co-ordinate boxes and packing tape and the U-haul van while she thinks about what she wants to pack.

      If she doesn’t have a key, you could offer to stand beside her when she goes to get her stuff, as a witness and to help her pack. Often (not always, but often) people will behave better when there is a witness, and she might be able to get her stuff with you there where she’d be yelled at and refused if she were alone.

      Sympathies to you and your friend. It’s hard all around. I’m taking care of a friend’s cats right now for similar reasons.

    5. DCalc*

      And while I don’t know specifics of your friend’s situation, encourage her to have an attorney on retainer. Your sentence, ‘he threw her out of the house they bought together’ raises all kinds of red flags for me. Sounds to me like this man could possibly try to take over and keep what he views as ‘his’. If she’s hesitant, offer to attend a consultation with her – she could end up with nothing if she doesn’t have someone (legally) on her side.

      Just my 2 cents!

  29. Mimmy*

    First class in my advanced certificate program starts in less than a month and I’m getting nervous but excited! This is my first ever online class; I’m pretty sure it’ll be just like an in-person class except that there’s no set weekly meeting times–you just do the readings and discussions when you want as long as you meet all the due dates and whatnot. The platform will be Blackboard.

    Aside from managing my time and keeping on top of assignments, any other tips? I’m just not sure what to expect!

    One thing I am a bit nervous about is not feeling connected. If I were local to the school, I absolutely would’ve gone in person because I want to meet other students and faculty. However, there aren’t many programs in the subject I’m studying in the country (US), and this school is the closest one to me. I could take a train in if I wanted to, but the costs add up, and I wouldn’t be comfortable doing it alone, especially when it starts getting darker later in the semester. I was thinking of attending the orientation later this month in person, but it’s only scheduled for 1 hour, thus making the trip not worth it (it’ll be broadcast online, so I’m attending that way).

    Thanks for any advice!!

    1. Laura*

      I do some online learning via Coursera – I’m not very social there myself, but a lot of the other students are. There are forums. I assume Blackboard may have something similar.

      If interacting here feels like being connected/social – then I think you can also manage that through online learning. Check out and use the tools they give you. (And consider whether it might be appropriate to extend them, but consider both the rules and the culture. Some courses I’ve been in have also had Twitter feeds/hashtags, Facebook groups created, etc.)

    2. Anx*

      I just finished on online course (Genetics), and I was worried that I was defeating part of the purpose (networking) by doing online.

      Ask smart questions (that you really need to ask), online to your instructor. Try to be succinct. Obviously this won’t work for everyone, but if you keep up with the assigned work and show some interest via message or email, it will still show your commitment to understanding the material. I received some very good feedback and I now feel like I have an academic instructor I can reference that has taught me within the past 5 years.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      Honestly, my advice is to attend the orientation! It’ll be much easier to talk and connect with people you’ve met in person, and putting a face to a name is so helpful, especially if you’re a visual learner. Even if it’s just the hour orientation, it’ll be worth it! Leave time to grab coffee with your future classmates afterward.

  30. Anonalicious*

    A long story… (names and dollar amounts changed to protect the innocent)

    My brother-in-law, let’s call him Mike, has been staying with us now for 2.5 years. He moved in with us in February 2012 when I was 5 months pregnant. I wasn’t happy about it, but he was moving back to the area for a job after looking for a full-time job for almost 3 years. It was supposed to be temporary, 3-4 months, enough to get him through the probationary/temp period at work, get hired permanently, and get the bump in pay that they said (in writing, mind you) that he would receive. Basically he was through a temp agency for 90 days at a lesser pay than he would be getting once he was permanent. The idea was that if Company X were paying $15 to the agency, he would only get $10, but once he was hired on, he’d be paid the $15.

    This was the first in a long string of lies Company X told Mike, thus screwing all of us over in the process. Mike was still living with us when my son was born because Company X lied about how much they were going to pay him once he was hired on. It was literally $1 more/hr than what the temp agency was paying him,which wasn’t enough for him to move out into his own place. When we moved last year, after my son turned 1, Mike moved with us, and is living in our spare bedroom, eating our food (he does buy some of his own), etc. He also works a split shift job so he’s coming home about 2am, well after we’ve all gone to sleep. At least once a week we have to deal with him doing something loud, usually on accident like dropping something, and waking our son. He’s gotten a couple raises at work, so he’s making enough to move out, but he has to save up money for down payments/security deposit, plus all the household stuff he lacks.

    Now that our son is 2, we really want to have a second child. But I don’t even want to start trying until I know Mike is moving out. I don’t want to get pregnant and be 9 months along and Mike is still in the room that should be a nursery. Or have him move down into our basement or something to free up the bedroom. It seems like he’s become really complacent with the situation, despite my husband and I bringing up that we want to have another baby, that he needs to start looking for a place, etc. I’m just not sure how to move forward. I feel like if I got pregnant that he’d finally be pushed to do something, but I’ve thought that with all sorts of things with him for all the years I’ve known him, and unless he really decides and commits to doing something, it doesn’t happen. Ever.

    Has anyone ever had this kind of situation and what did you do/how did you handle it? I don’t want to estrange my brother-in-law. For the most part, I like the guy.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      You and your husband need to be on the same page about how to deal with this. The best thing you can do is draft a plan, together. Then sit down with Mike–both of you–and nicely but firmly give him a deadline. He needs to be out by X time. Right now, it sounds as though you’re hinting around, and he’s not getting the picture. He’s got an easy ride, but it has to end. Do this now, before you get pregnant again.

      1. fposte*

        Totally seconding Elizabeth. He’s not going to leave on his own, because this is a better arrangement for him (and he may well like the company, which is nice but doesn’t help you), especially if he’s not paying rent (not clear if he is or not). He will leave when he’s made to leave. I would say not only a deadline but a moving plan, because I suspect at this point he’s going to let the deadline slide. “By X date your stuff either goes to your new place or we put it into storage.” (Said more nicely than that, but really, get the stuff out or else he’s not going to go.) If you think he might be anxious about loneliness, make plans for a regular once-a-whatever dinner at your place or something to make it clear you’ll still be connected.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Thirding Elizabeth. You say this Unless he really decides and commits to doing something, it doesn’t happen. Ever.

          Actually, unless YOU really decide and commit to doing something, it won’t happen. Ever. You’re allowing Mike to have too much control here. You worry about alienating him, but you don’t seem to mind that he’s caused negative feelings in you. Step up and give him a deadline. He’s had more than enough time to save money for moving out and furnishing a place. He can go to Goodwill to get himself started with furnishings, have a housewarming party, whatever, but he needs to be out of your house and you need to be firm about it otherwise what incentive is there for him to leave?

    2. Katie the Fed*

      Dude, you’ve had a freeloader living with you for almost three years! Enough! I understand crappy job situations, but it sounds like he’s gotten very comfortable and isn’t really in a rush to leave.

      Ideally, your husband should be the one to have this discussion with Mike. He needs to be out in 60 days – you have a young child and want to have more. Hell, you don’t even need a reason.

      As far as household stuff, can you start going to Goodwill and helping get him some stuff he needs to be out on his own?

    3. fposte*

      And I’m thinking about this “It’s all Company X’s fault” thing. Even assuming he’s accurately reporting every bit of Company X’s behavior, it’s still a narrative where it’s something else’s job to make Mike move. (It doesn’t sound, for instance, like he ever considered moving in with a roommate, and if he’s making enough to afford rent but currently isn’t paying it, it’s not going to take him 2.5 years to save up for a security deposit.) That seems significant to me in light of his current behavior, and it suggests that he’s not going to move out until something makes him.

      1. Sarahnova*

        Dude, seriously.

        This is not Mike’s decision, it’s yours – so make it. He has things perfectly comfortable right now; he’s never going to decide by himself to move out, and he is certainly not going to get hints.

        He’s an adult, he’s employed, he’s not your child, and you have actual children who need your energy, money, and space. Set a deadline for the near future, tell him he’s out by X date, and be prepared to move his things out and change the lot. If you’re blanching at the short-term pain and hassle, I invite you to mentally compare it to the pain, hassle, and cost this situation has cost you in the last 3 years, and will undoubtedly cost you in the next 3, if you don’t decide to change things.

        1. Laura*

          One note: I have heard some horror stories from people who tried to do this only to discover they had to follow landlord-tenant policies because of the longstanding nature of the residency.

          I suspect this depends on the laws where you live as well.

          You might want to look into that, and follow those procedures if necessary – for example, written notice might be required. That might have the unwanted side effect of making it more contentious, however. :|

          1. fposte*

            I think that’s probably true, in that this is Mike’s legal residence now, so you may need to slide a note under his door after the conversation happens. But that’s usually 30-60 days notice, and I think that’s less time than Anonalicious is likely thinking, so it shouldn’t change the plan too much.

            1. Laura*

              Agreed – and honestly, if the requirement is 30 days notice and Anonalicious is okay with an extra 30 days if need be, I might skip the note until and unless Mike protests that you can’t do it. I just wanted to bring it up because I would be pretty horrified to get to the drop-dead date and have him pull a legally stubborn maneuver on me if I wasn’t prepared for it already.

              1. Ben*

                Check Craigslist- there’s rooms for let. I am sure he can find a room asap.
                It’s up to you and your husband.

          2. A Teacher*

            Yep. My aunt and uncle had to legally evict her sister (not my aunt) who’d been freeloading for 5 years. Took 6 months and was a major headache.

          3. Gene*

            Absolutely talk with a lawyer who specializes in landlord-tenant law first. Then have the discussion with him. Tell him when the date comes, if he’s not out, you’ll put his stuff in HIS storage unit. If he doesn’t have one, you’ll put it on the curb.

            Good luck, and you and your husband have to be on the same page.

    4. BRR*

      I also agree with Elizabeth. If he’s not even buying his own food what is he doing with his money? You have every right to ask him to leave.

    5. SherryD*

      Has Mike been paying rent? If not, he’s getting used to spending 100% of his income on whatever Mike wants. If you’re not kicking him out (understandable, since he’s family), get him to start paying rent, equivalent to what he’d be paying in his own place.

      he has to save up money for down payments/security deposit, plus all the household stuff he lacks.
      Does he know how much money he wants to have saved, and what date he’ll have it saved by? Tell him you need a realistic timeline.

      It sounds like Mike is a good guy, overall! Hope things work out.

  31. Elizabeth West*

    At the bottom of the site in Chrome, the ad superimposes over the Submit button, and I can’t post. Had to move to Firefox to reply to Anonalicious’s post. It may be a filter of mine, but I’ve noticed certain sites have overlap like that in Chrome sometimes. Also, I’ve noticed that since the redesign, when I post a comment it doesn’t take ages to refresh. Yay!

    Don’t have much to say today. I have a lot of social stuff coming up but it’s bad timing, because I’m supposed to be working! It’s funny how everything happens at once.

    1. Ruffingit*

      I’m using Chrome and haven’t had an ad problem with the submit button. Weird how it works for some people and not others even with the same browser sometimes.

      You are so right about everything happening at once. That’s been my experience as well. When it rains, it pours and all that.

    2. Felicia*

      I had that problem on this site while I was using Chrome. But not all the time, just sometimes. So I switched to Firefox

  32. Katie the Fed*

    OK, I mentioned doing this last week, so hopefully you’ve thought of some good ones!

    Tell me your best hacks or repurposing tricks.

    Example: last week someone posted about repurposing the zippered clear bags that bedsheets come in as packing cubes for travel. Genius! What other hacks do you swear by?

    1. Rebecca*

      Not a very important thing, but I use clear nail polish to fix zippers that break at the beginning part. I bought a really nice Liz Claiborne bag at the thrift store for $3.99, and found the outer zipper was broken where it starts together, so when you opened the zipper, it came completely apart. I was disappointed, but remembered something about clear nail polish and misbehaving zippers, so one afternoon I got the zipper back together, and put clear nail polish on the first 1/2 inch or so of the closed zipper. It worked like a charm! You can’t see that it’s “fixed” and I am still using the bag 2 years later.

      Oh, and oxygen line from a portable oxygen system, like medical stuff, makes a perfect substitute for windshield washer fluid line.

    2. Ruffingit*

      I have a couple for traveling since I was doing a lot of it for awhile:

      1. Store your shoes in a shower cap. That way, they don’t get the rest of your clothes dirty.

      2. Put electronic cords in an old eyeglass case to keep them from getting tangled up.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        My favorite travel tip is to take a picture of the shuttle stop from the airport parking lot on your phone. Beacuse I ALWAYS lose whatever I write it down on :)

    3. Elizabeth West*

      That was me, haha. I also use them to store my own blankets or as containers for emergency supplies in the car trunk.

      Used dryer sheets work great on a Swiffer-type sweeper if you run out of the cloths (or don’t want to buy so many refills). I usually have to use two because they’re not as large. Just tuck them around and poke the ends into the little catch holes and sweep away.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Ah, sorry for not giving credit! I was too lazy too look up last week’s post (need coffee still!)

    4. Trixie*

      Snagging those nice small boxes letter-sized (8.5″ x 11″) paper is shipped in, and save those for moving. They stack perfectly and are still easy to carry when packed heavy. I also keep a couple of those large flat empty boxes you get in Costco in the back of the car for groceries.

      Favorite litter box hack: Taking one of those big plastic tubs with a lid, cutting out a hole big enough for cat, and using as a litter box. Helps contain dust from clumping litter, and saves the surrounding walls from certain cats with just plain bad aim.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Second the paper boxes thing. I love them because they have cut-out handles. At work, competition for those is fierce.
        One thing I miss about OldJob is not having access to zillions of boxes. I had everyone trained to bring me packing material, boxes, etc. from shipments they got so I could reuse them for our shipments, but if I needed a box, I could nick one anytime.

    5. Katie the Fed*

      Here’s mine:

      Keep a carabiner or two in your purse for bags after grocery shopping. Then just hook them through all the loops and carry that way. Way easier than the bags all trying to cut your skin.

      Carabiners are also great for keeping a camera handy when hiking – I clip my camera to the shoulder strap and it’s dangling there for me to grab when I see something that I need to take a picture of.

    6. Elizabeth*

      Limited purpose but still useful … If you have acrylic nails and get a stain on them, use a clean toothbrush and whitening toothpaste to clean them. (Tumeric stains on acrylics are slightly scary.)

    7. LAMM*

      I save old prescription bottles (with the labels ripped off). When I used to travel a lot they were perfect for bobby pins, hair ties, safety pins, band-aids, anything small like that. They’re also good to just throw in your purse so all that stuff is in one place.

    8. Fucshia*

      This may be well known – but clothespins work great to keep chip and cereal bags closed and are much cheaper than those plastic chip-clips.

      Also, for summer – buy a cheap plastic shower curtain to lay under your kiddie or puppy pool. It keeps the pool cleaner since you don’t have water making mud right next to the pool. Also, you can step in the puddles created on the curtain to rinse feet before getting in.

    9. Mephyle*

      Split nails: cut a piece of teabag (dry, unused) to make a patch to fit over the split and surrounding area – or the whole nail – and carefully paint it on with nail glue (superglue). This turned out to work better than a so-called nail repair kit I had wasted my money on.

      1. A Teacher*

        Tea bags under the top lip can also stop nose bleeds (athletic trainer that gets a lot in wrestling here).

        I also save the old clorox wipes containers and store plastic bags in them. The container fits in my desk at work too.

        Oh and for cat/dog stains–dawn mixed with vinegar in a spray bottle is your best friend! (sorry not so much a repurpose)!

        1. Anonsie*

          Tea bags (used but cooled) of caffeinated tea under & around the eyes can de-puff them on the cheap before you put on makeup.

  33. Liblady*

    For those who have sent a child to college, how do you let go of them? My oldest daughter is leaving later this month and I am so sad. I feel like I’ve spent a great deal of her senior year mourning the upcoming departure. She is ready to go, excited about the new direction her life is going, looking forward to taking the next step. I just can’t get over feeling like I am losing something wonderful, a part of our relationship that I will never get back. I know this is her time to go and grow, and that relationships change over time. We have been fortunate to avoid a stereotypical adverse teen/parent relationship and are very close. I have a younger daughter , still elementary school age who is also sad her sister is leaving.

    1. Rebecca*

      You can still keep in touch with Skype or Google chat, text, etc. As a Mom who sent a child to college, I feel your pain! But – I reminded myself – she’s growing up, and as a good mamma bird I have to let her go from the nest so she can fly on her own! That doesn’t mean you can’t be there to help, but it’s a good thing when our offspring reach out on their own. It doesn’t mean it’s any less painful as a Mom. That’s what gave me peace about the whole thing.

    2. Ruffingit*

      One thing I can offer is not making her feel guilty if she doesn’t call or get in contact for the first several weeks. It’s going to be an all-new adventure for her so calling mom may not be on the top of the list. When she does call, don’t say “Oh, nice of you to finally get in touch…” even in a joking mood. Let her have this time of adventure and fun.

      1. Windchime*

        The opposite is also true. I heard from my son daily (sometimes multiple times a day) for the first few weeks after he went away to college. He would call to tell me things that were really not remarkable at all, but I think the truth was that it was a new, exciting, and maybe a little bit scary experience for him and he needed to keep touching base. That wore off as he got settled, but I felt it was important to not comment on the phone call frequency at all, no matter if it was “too many” or “not enough”.

        Also, remember that the alternative is having her living in your basement when she’s 30. Letting go is good. :)

        1. Anonsie*

          Agreed with this. When I moved away I called my mom every day for a while to tell her what was going on or ask for advice. I guess she got really tired of it and started not answering or, if she did, answering the phone by asking what I wanted in a really exasperated voice, and she kept that up until after I graduated. It actually really hurt my feelings at the time and our relationship is still a little murky even though it’s been years.

    3. Graciosa*

      I would set some reasonable expectation about how and how often you expect to hear from her (like one phone call or skype a week) and tell her that this is her security check in so someone will know that she is missing if something happens. If you haven’t heard from her by X, you will start contacting the right authorities to track her down.

      The frequency should be genuinely appropriate for an independent adult with her own life, and you can’t put duration requirements into the mix (a 15 second “Mom, I’m fine, but I’m really busy – love you, bye” counts just as much as a two hour update). Since you already have a solid relationship, she will probably be in touch much more at first – but this will taper off as she gets busier and makes more friends, so having an established bottom line will help you avoid worrying or feeling abandoned and help her avoid feeling guilty.

      When you think about losing something wonderful, remind yourself that you created something wonderful. Be proud of that.

      1. LAMM*

        Set an expectation, but don’t make it too often or she might dread your calls. When my parents moved to a different state after I graduated high school, my mother called me every. single. day. And always started with “So what’s new?” Um… since yesterday? Absolutely nothing.

        I’ve gotten her down to one call every 2-3 weeks as I really hate talking on the phone… She’s literally the only person I will actually talk to on the phone for more than 90 seconds. It took while to get to that point, but it’s a good compromise. I know she wants to talk more, but as each conversation lasts about an hour, it’s perfect for me.

        One of my friends had a rule that her mom wanted 1 point of contact each day, even if it was just a text message. It seemed like a lot to me, but it was a system that worked for them.

    4. EduStudent*

      Also, remember that you may not lose anything. I was in your older daughter’s position a while back, and while my mom and I were close while I was in high school, our relationship really evolved into more of a ‘best friends’ relationship in college. This was partly because we got even closer (talking on the phone, visits when she could arrange) and partly because I “went and grew,” in your words, so I was more independent and more of an equal than I had been in high school.

      Texting really helped us too – less time-sensitive than a call, but allowed us to get a lot of updates in throughout the day. For example, I might text her about the paper I told her about on the phone last week, or about my friend’s birthday party that I said I was going to and did go to, rather than waiting a while to tell her on the phone.

    5. Mephyle*

      My youngest is still in the ‘nest’ but has spent the last three weeks house-sitting (in the same city where we live). I know she is still alive because of the occasional Candy Crush life or request from her. And this is the one who wants to travel to Australia!

  34. Ruffingit*

    Anyone have any advice on getting a parent to move in with you when her doctor and everyone around her has told her it’s necessary? My mother’s health is very bad and the physician in her small town has told her that she needs to move in with one of her children preferably in a town with excellent medical care because he cannot provide the specialized care she needs. I live in a city with outstanding medical care. My husband and I are both on board with her coming to live with us. She said she would do so this summer and then backed out. She cannot financially afford to live in assisted living or on her own either. She’s having trouble paying for her prescriptions. I can’t help financially, but if she was living with us and not having to pay rent (which we wouldn’t have her do), she could easily make her medical bills with no problem.

    She was hospitalized this weekend because she fell in her home, hit her head and couldn’t get up. Two strangers came into the home to help her get off the floor. It’s gotten really bad and she just refuses to see there’s a problem. I live several states away so it’s not like I can go check on her periodically. There is a relative who lives with her, but he’s the definition of good for nothing, cannot be trusted to do a damn thing. Another relative lives in her town and she does what she can, but she’s got a marriage and a job to contend with. It just makes sense for my mother to move here, but she refuses. I get the loss of independence, etc., but still…

    Any tips on what I can say to help her realize she’s got to do something? If she refuses, then I will leave it be and wait for the inevitable phone call telling me she died at home in one of the many falls she has. I’ve sort of reached the place where I’m tired of dealing with this because she’s so damn stubborn and I have my own life to lead.

    I guess I needed to vent and I need advice. Thanks.

    1. fposte*

      Absent the usual legal maneuvers, you really can’t make another grownup do anything, as I’m sure you know. Do you know what’s stopping her here? Is it the loss of independence, the unfamiliarity of the new setting, the dislike of doing what she’s told, or even some cognitive problems? What is she historically susceptible to when it comes to requests from her kids–reason, guilt, reverse psychology? (My great filial triumph was using emotional blackmail to get my dad to quit smoking–I asked for it as my only Christmas present one year.) Are you close enough that she’s able to come for a visit while you bring enough of her stuff to make her comfortable, and then talk about how that might work for longer?

      It’s a tough one that a lot of people go through, unfortunately, and I think you’re right that you may just have to accept that what’s most important to her is choosing her own terms. Good luck to you.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, I’ve long ago accepted that you can’t make another person do anything. This is why I’ve come to the conclusion that if I can’t get her to do it, then I just have to live with waiting for the inevitable phone call. Not sure what is keeping her from coming here, I’ve tried to talk with her about it and all the excuses are really ridiculous and very easily overcome. I’m going to try to get to the true bottom of the situation when I talk with her later today.

        Thanks for responding fposte, this has been a hell of a weekend and I appreciate your wishes of good luck.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          One thing I had marginal luck with in dealing with stubborn parents is insisting they have a plan.

          “Okay, you don’t want to live with me. That is fine and I understand. However, you have to have a way that you can get help if you fall, get dizzy and so on. What is your plan?”

          If she says she has no plan then you jump in with, “part of living on your own requires you to have a plan for dealing with emergencies. So planning is not optional.”

          If she says she has no problem you can say “Okay, Mom. But the next time you have an issue come up we are going to revisit this conversation.”

          On the comforting side of things, people can run very intuitive. My father lived on his own until the end. I worried about that so much for so many reasons. One day he called for an ambulance. He went into the hospital and he passed away there, four weeks later. He knew that he was at the end and he put himself in a place where he would be watched and cared for. It never occurred to me that he would do that. He was stubborn, proud, etc.
          Sometimes the very thing we dread never materializes.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              My late aunt and I used to talk about this and laugh at ourselves. Oh my, the scenarios we drummed up inside our heads. But it is actually helpful to think back about some of the stuff we have worried about that never happened in reality.

              Admittedly, yes, things did go wrong but it was no where near what we imagined and we were able to navigate through what actually did happen.

              Here’s one I can repeat: Growing up, I worried about someone breaking into the house. No basis for this worry- I guess I just needed one MORE thing to fret over. In my early teens, one night I went down to the basement to get a hammer around 11 pm or so. I looked up and saw two pairs of legs right outside the basement window. My worst fear come true, right? I had a 135 dog with a bark like a base drum. I crept back upstairs got the dog and brought her over to the side of the house with the two pairs of legs.

              She let out a stream of barking that would wake the dead. She scared me and she was my dog. I never saw two kids run so fast in my life. I turned on the back yard lights and all I could see was the bottom of their sneaks because they were running so fast and hard. They never came back.

              If the dreaded situation does happen in reality, there are usually unforeseens that are also going on. Those unforeseen things change the picture and lessen the dreadfulness of the event. (I did not know my dog could sound so scary. Never saw it, never thought of it.)

          1. Lori*

            My grandfather did this. He waited until my aunt and cousin (his daughter and grandson) came for their summer visit, told them where the papers were, and lay down on his bed and died. How he knew, and how he waited, I will never know.

    2. Trixie*

      I came across a radio interview with author Jane Gross as she and her brother cared for their mother. It was more about the learning curve when dealing with insurance, assisted living, red tape, etc but also about when siblings are involved, self-care, etc. I’m not sure it would offer any insight to your situation but it might.

      Hang in there!

    3. TotesMaGoats*

      About 4 years ago, my parents were having this same problem with my dad’s mom who lived 1000 miles away. She had someone staying with her as day help but it was almost a case of blind leading the blind as the helper was quite elderly as well. She was falling alot and having “episodes” in the classic southern tradition to the point the ER told her not to come back if she was having one of her episodes. Yeah.

      My dad had to lay it out and say she was moving to MD to be near us. Not living with us since the house wasn’t set up for that at all but there was affordable senior living about 2 minutes away. She didn’t like it but ultimately her safety meant she didn’t have a choice. Since it also meant she got to she her grandchildren and great grand child, she finally accepted it. Accepted but still didn’t like. Once dementia set in, she often thought she was still in SC. So, that’s telling.

      I know she lived longer because we moved her up here and her last years were quite good. Better than if she’d stayed in SC. I don’t know if this helps your choice but sometimes you have to choose for them and live with the aftermath.

    4. CTO*

      Have you tried consulting a social worker? There are people who specialize in aging issues like this. They might be a helpful neutral third party your mom would listen to, and even if she doesn’t want to speak with them they could be a helpful resource for you.

      Adult Protective Services isn’t always very helpful, but it’s another resource to consider if she’s really endangering herself. If you have permission to speak to her doctor (and he has permission to speak with you) consider asking him for his help in pursuing these angles.

  35. Jill of all trades*

    Has anyone here cut the cable cords and gotten a Roku or Apple TV box? What are the pros and cons? I’m ready to ditch satellite!

    1. Mimmy*

      We have both Roku and Apple TV, but we still have satellite. We did use Aereo until the Supreme Court busted that operation. That was kinda cool in that your recorded shows are in the “cloud”, thus not dependent on a physical DVR. You could watch either on your TV or your mobile device, though you were allowed up to, I think, 5 approved devices. The thing I didn’t like was that it’s harder to tell where in the show you are when you’re watching the recording. Same with fast-forwarding and rewinding–it took a lot of trial and error to get to the right spot.

      I like Roku and Apple TV because of all the different online services you can use, such as Netflix or Hulu. Thing is, I find the Roku often needs to be rebooted, especially lately.

    2. Trixie*

      We’ve had the Apple tv for a while now with basic streaming netflix but haven’t cut the cord yet. Most likely because our basis cable bill is dirt cheap, and I haven’t found a good substitute for my favorite 2-3 news channels. I think between a box, netflix and amazon prime I’d be set. I’m ready to cancel cable every time I miss a show in prime time (usually on USA or TNT) and yet am locked out from watching online.

    3. FD*

      I don’t have cable/satellite, haven’t for years. We use Netflix and DVDs only.

      I find I don’t really miss it, except for a few shows (Mythbusters and Face-Off). I’m a gym member, so I usually catch the few shows I care about there; it gives me an incentive to exercise.

    4. Rebecca*

      I cut out the TV portion of my cable with Comcast almost 2 years ago. I still have phone and internet, though, as high speed internet with Comcast is my only viable option and cell phone service is spotty.

      I miss live TV, like sports, but I’m used to it now. I have the 1 DVD at a time + streaming with Netflix, and a Roku box. I find I have more time for doing other things, like walking, visiting my parents, going places with friends, etc. There are days that go by and I don’t even turn on the TV. I can still watch the newscasts from the station in PA that covers my area because they do a live stream over the internet. And I don’t miss the commercials! I chuckle at them when I catch one at someone else’s house. Hysterical. Seriously, if you cannot figure out how to cover yourself with a small blanket, and still use your hands, putting on what amounts to a backwards robe is not going to make your life better.

      1. Mimmy*

        if you cannot figure out how to cover yourself with a small blanket, and still use your hands, putting on what amounts to a backwards robe is not going to make your life better.


    5. Janis*

      Yes! Did it about 2 years ago. I have Roku only, plus Netflix, both streaming and DVD (their DVD selection has far greater breadth of choices than just streaming). I was nervous, lemme tell you, but it was the best decision EVAH. I *hated* cable. I hated paying for it, I hated paying for channels I wouldn’t watch at knifepoint, I hated skimming over the channels I hated to watch the 2 or 3 shows I liked on the 2 or 3 channels I liked.

      You’ll figure things out as you go along, and you’ll have to believe me when I say I am not in the least bit technically savvy. But I figured out how to watched the last seasons of Breaking Bad and Mad Men on Amazon Prime at $1.99/episode. I figured out how to watch 60 Minutes on on my laptop. On Roku you can get PBS, Smithsonian and my favorite Acorn ($50/yr subscription), which together keep me very entertained. I am a one woman band extolling the wonderful world of Roku box!

    6. afiendishthingy*

      I don’t think I’ve ever paid for cable, I’ve only ever had it when the landlord paid. I have Roku now with Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. I rarely miss cable — just wish I had an HBOgo account which I could also watch on Roku. I’m not interested in sports, but if you are that is a definite con. I’ve lived with no TV at all and wasn’t too bothered by that, and it’s not that I don’t like TV. When I had cable I watched a LOT of TV, but I’ve always found I could readjust very quickly.

    7. Fucshia*

      I haven’t had cable for years! My Sony blu-ray player includes streaming ability and I have Netflix and Amazon Prime for most of my viewing. I also get Crackle movies for free and Youtube. The device will also do Hulu, but I don’t have that set up. Renting or buying movies and shows on Amazon is also inexpensive if it is something that isn’t streamed and I really want to watch it.

      The only con is that I can’t always watch brand new shows, but there are so many older things that I’ve not seen and they are new to me!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That was my con, and it was why I kept my DirecTV on suspension and didn’t cancel. When I got a job finally, I upgraded so I could watch Doctor Who, Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, and Sherlock when they aired. It took so long for stuff to come on Netflix that I got tired of trying to avoid spoilers.

        1. Jill of all trades*

          Ah, a Whovian…so what do you think of Capaldi? I’m not excited about him as the next Doctor. :/

          1. Felicia*

            Why aren’t you excited?

            I think Capaldi did very well in the role he played in Torchwood, and I like that there’s an older Doctor again, so I think there’s some good potential and am excited to see what he’ll do. I also think it’s also too soon to judge how he’ll be before we at least see him as the Doctor for a full episode.

            1. Jill of all trades*

              He’s a great actor, no doubt about that. I’ve liked him as Richelieu in the Musketeers. I just don’t see him as the Doctor. Maybe it’s really that I took to Matt Smith so easily after David Tennant, and there was such a lead up to that changeover that I am resisting the change this time. Of course, I love Clara but still mourn Amy and Rory.

              1. Felicia*

                I don’t like Clara at all. I find she bores me. I still mourn Donna :)

                I only started watching Doctor Who last April (I watched it all very quickly), so this is the first regeneration/new doctor that i’ve experienced as it happened, and I find I’m excited for a change. But then the first Doctor I ever saw was Christopher Ecclestone, so it actually took me a while to warm up to David Tennant, which is apparently unusual.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  Clara’s cute, but I LOVED Donna. She and I have a lot in common–red hair and a temper, LOL. I should have cosplayed her at the nerdcon this year, but it wasn’t suggested ahead of time and I didn’t think of it. Maybe I’ll do Pompeii Donna next year.

                  Technically my first Doctor was the Fourth (Tom Baker), as I saw bits of DW when he was on it but I was never able to watch the entire show. I remember the scarf and his crazy hair very well. My favorite Doctor is the Tenth (Tennant).

                2. Felicia*

                  If you are like Donna, then I would definitely like you :) I wish I were more like Donna in the way she always says what’s on her mind. She was the only one of the companions that I most definitely would have wanted to be friends with – though Sarah Jane and Leelah were among my favourites as well. Particularly for New Who , Donna was just DIFFERENT…I liked that she was the only female companion of the rebooted series (so far) who has never been in love with the Doctor.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            I am REALLY excited. They needed to go back to an older Doctor, and he’s supposed to be a bit more alien. I think he’ll be great. I’m looking forward to it.

            I am bummed that the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff will be closed for regeneration at the time I’m there, and I won’t get to go. :( Oh well, I’ll just have to go back. I’m sure I’ll want to. :)

            1. Felicia*

              The Doctor Who Experience is the main reason I want to go to Cardiff, so it’s a great reason to go back!

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I still have satellite but also a Roku (an older one). Unfortunately, I stuck with DSL internet because of the reliability and the cost of cable internet (it’s INSANE), and it really isn’t fast enough. If there is the smallest lag, the box will quit streaming. My computer can adjust, but the Roku’s poor tiny brain can’t handle it. However, I do really like it for Netflix and some other quirky channels I found.

    9. Jill of all trades*

      Thank you all for your input! I’m a true technology laggard and your input helps so much :)

    10. Windchime*

      I have a Roku and right now only use it for streaming Netflix and Amazon Prime. My son also has one and that’s what they use for everything. I haven’t really explored all the options. I’m sick of paying so much for cable and there is nothing on. I get my internet through cable and it’s really my only option here (DSL isn’t fast enough for working at home, I don’t think).

      If I can’t get the cable company to give me a better rate, I might consider cutting down to internet only.

      1. Cb*

        We have Chromecast and love it! In the UK so the selection is different but it is great for iplayer, Netflix, etc.

  36. BritCred*

    Ok, time to add another “chronic health” rant to the thread.

    All around me I have people who whine about small money problems, their intended Boyfriend being with someone else and how they want to change that, how their courses provided to them for free and how unfair everything is. Even how (family member) puts up too many pictures of themselves and they want to outdo them…

    Well, deep breath time. I’ve recently finished a divorce. And got money from it. Money that was already mine 10 years ago. Money that will be put into a new property since renting is a no go due to income. Those are the good things.

    I’ve spent the last 2 years losing my health bit by bit to things Doctors and health services don’t want to know about. And keep passing off as “lose weight, eat better, sort your stress”. The NHS is waiting for me to be assessed by the ESA team and the ESA team are too busy having a contract argument with ATOS to get anyone assessed. Its been 8 months I’ve been on the “assessment phase” of this benefit which should have been less than 3 months. Until I’m assessed I can’t get any support, opportunities or even treatments bar “anti depressants” (which don’t solve anything – mentally I’m stable and they have no notable physical effects).

    Today? I can hardly walk on an intermittent basis. I spend half of my time fighting the urge to just sleep. I get audiological tics and mental tics that drive me insane and make the least of things difficult.

    Because of the aforementioned health issues and department stymies, and being in the UK so second opinions and paid for services are rare and extortionately priced, I can’t work or commit to anything of note. And if I could work I have a mountain to climb to prove to an employer to choose me over a person with a “reliable” history.

    And yeah, I’m fed up of it….. Basically scrapped heaped at pre 35 years old….

    Did I mention “breathing”? oh yeah…. I did.

    1. fposte*

      I’m so sorry, Brit; it’s incredibly frustrating to feel cut off from possibilities of aid like that. I hope you manage a consult soon and that it gets you some improvement and relief.

      1. BritCred*

        Thank you.

        Even my family have cut me off for a spurious reason (don’t coo over us being treated like royalty on holiday because you have barely got out of bed all week? how dare you!) and with friends saying how “lucky” I am… It just gets to me from time to time.

        I know in ways I am lucky. But I also know that a lot of the stuff I still have and the fact I *can* walk and maintain a bit of my physical health is because I went and proactively found ways to deal with it (via martial arts training about balance etc). I even had a doctor say pretty much “well you are doing that, I don’t need to do anymore….”

        I will find *some* way out. Not giving up now….

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Don’t give up! And we are here if you need to whinge a little.

          I’ll bring my skates to the UK with me and kick the NHS in the bottom for you. The toe pick will hurt. >:)

  37. Beth Anne*

    Has anyone been watching Girl Meets World? I LOVED Boy Meets World growing up and have been loving this show! Although it’s weird to think that Cory and Topanga have kids now :)

    1. TotesMaGoats*

      I caught a few minutes of it and ended up changing the channel. It wasn’t bad but didn’t have the same feel as the original. Felt like all the other disney family shows.

    2. Elizabeth*

      Yep. Ben Savage has said he never thought he would have a chance to play Cory again, but it has been like putting on a comfortable old sweater that fits just right.

    3. Reader*

      Not really liking it. Too much of it seems to be written to get a laugh instead of finding the laugh in the situation. This is an issue about a lot of shows being written now for Disney and Nickelodeon

    4. Nina*

      I saw the first episode and I did enjoy it. It’s not perfect but I think it has potential. I can believe Riley as being Corey and Topanga’s daughter and they have a great rapport as a family. But they need to dial Farkel way down, and I think Riley’s best friend and her potential boyfriend look to be in their late teens as opposed to adolescents.

    5. Hummingbird*

      I keep forgetting about it. The first episode was good. I’ll need to catch up one of these days. Do you have the time schedule for it?

  38. Felicia*

    Sort of related to a generational discussion we were having above, but what is the first news story you remember seeing/hearing about when it first happened, and how old were you? I am fascinated by how young people can remember significant news events.

    For me it was Princess Diana’s death, and I was 7. My parents being super interested is probably one of the reasons I saw so much

    1. Not Myself Today*

      I remember a lot of family things much earlier than significant news events. I remember Reagan being shot (already in high school) and the Challenger explosion (in college with one of the only televisions in my dorm – lots of visitors) but I was hardly a tiny tot for either of those.

    2. Reader*

      First news story would have been Kennedy assassination.
      First thing that I paid real attention to and followed was 1968 Presidential election.

    3. NylaW*

      The Challenger space shuttle tragedy. My grade school had just gotten cable TV. My 4th grade teacher had the news on watching the shuttle lift off. Then… it was just gone. She turned off the TV quickly and we went on with class because she had no idea what to do. When I got home later my parents were watching it on TV, because every channel was showing what happened. It took me a while to realize and understand that people can just explode and be gone and that’s it.

      1. Felicia*

        It’s weird but that very similarly describes my reaction to 9/11 only I was in 6th grade.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My daughter was was 5 years old when 9/11 happened, and that was her reaction, too. She asked me, “Does that mean there are fewer people in the world?”

          1. Felicia*

            I had sort of grasped that people could die, as I was 11, and my grandmother had died the year before, but it was the first time that I thought about the fact that people could kill other people, and that it could all happen that quickly.

      2. Sabrina*

        Mine too,but I was in 3rd grade. Our school only had a couple of TVs and I think another class got it, so we didn’t watch it. Our teacher came in after lunch and told us what happened.

      3. Hattie McDoogal*

        Challenger for me too. I would have been 4, and I don’t remember seeing it on TV but only hearing my parents talk about it. I was very confused. First they had to explain about spaceflight. Then they had to explain how some people had died doing this. I didn’t get it — did we know any of these people? No? Then why was it a big deal? This “spaceflight” thing sounds dangerous and like it must kill people all the time. Mom tried explaining why this particular flight was a big deal, about Christa McAuliffe and how she was “an ordinary person”, but she didn’t really get through to me, because what I took away from the situation was that NASA could go around *drafting* non-astronauts for this whole dangerous spaceflight thing, and maybe that’s why my parents were upset — they were afraid of being drafted.

    4. Liz in a Library*

      Hmmm…I think probably baby Jessica. There might have been something earlier, but I remember that one clearly. We had an open well on our property (historical, not then in use), and I think my parents ended up capping it shortly after that. We watched rescue news for hours…

      1. Jazzy Red*

        I was thinking about that the other day. People were very critical of the homeowners for not covering that well, and also of Jessica’s parents for not “seeing” the well. Then I saw an advertisement somewhere with an 8″ circle drawn on it, and said something like “could you ever imagine your child could fall down a pipe this small”? It helped put things in perspective. (I think most people thought of wells as a couple of feet in diameter with a big stacked stone rim around it, and a little roof on top, like a wishing well. I didn’t know any better at that time either.)

        I wonder how Jessica is now/

        1. Felicia*

          She seems to be doing well now! At least in an update I read about her 2 years ago, she’s a stay at home mom with two kids, and lives not far from that well. She remembers nothing at all about her ordeal, but she would have been too young to remember it.

    5. Lore*

      I remember the Nixon resignation but only because it caused my parents to behave in a way I’d never before seen (I was 5), not anything about the story itself. We were living overseas for a few months because my dad had a temporary work post in Switzerland, and since none of us spoke German we were pretty cut off from any source of news other than what bilingual coworkers of my dad’s thought to mention. Someone at the next table when we were having breakfast in a restaurant had the International Herald Tribune and the banner headline caught my dad’s eye and he went over and asked about it. The bicentennial is probably the first thing I have more than a single blip of memory about.

    6. Mimmy*

      I’d say the first major story I remember is Reagan getting shot–I was 7 years old. I was in CCD (sort of like Sunday School, but in the afternoons each Monday), and someone announced it over the intercom.

      1. Felicia*

        I’ve been reading about this (how early children can form memories of this sort of thing) , and between 6-8 seems to be the most common age where it’s possible depending on the significance and how the adults around them react…so you were probably more llikely to remember it because someone announced it .

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, it’s hard for me to remember what I heard as news and what news I know because of family saying stuff at the time or later. I think I actually remember my father coming back from the ’68 Democratic convention with some mild tear gas effects; I know I remember being piqued that my parents and brother were going off to an anti-war/pro-McCarthy rally and I wasn’t allowed to come. I think I remember LBJ dying; I know I remember Everett Dirksen (Illinois senator) dying. I think the first story I can pin down to news and not family is a fire at the Chicago Hilton in 1968, which wasn’t actually that huge a deal but got a lot of local coverage and made me very uneasy.

    7. Rebecca*

      July 20, 1969 – My parents sat me in front of our TV to watch the moon landing/walk, all narrated by Walter Cronkite. That was the very first newscast I remember.

        1. Rebecca*

          I was 6 1/2 – they told me to watch and remember because it was a very important thing.

      1. CH*

        That’s my first news memory too. I was 8 and I remember watching the first moon walk on our black & white TV–although I think the footage was in B/W anyway. I also remember that it was a national holiday–both my parents got the day off.

    8. Bea W*

      I wasn’t following news at this age, but I remember the second energy crisis and gas shortages (1979), the Iranian hostage crisis (1979) and then the assassination of John Lennon, but I was not old enough to really understand the gravity of the situations. I remember the 2 attempts on Reagan’s life. There sure seemed to be a lot of shooting of important people, and that was scary.

      I remember being totally disappointed when the US announced it was boycotting the 1980 Moscow olympics, and I thought that totally sucked and was not fair.

      I remember the royal wedding, because my mother was all over that, but I was completely uninterested and didn’t get it. That’s exactly the same way I feel about all “royal” events today.

      I consider the Challenger Disaster (1984) though the first significant event that really impacted me because I was old enough to understand the tragedy of it, and classes were interrupted with a loud speaker announcement. It was the first one where I was not coincidentally near the TV while my parents were watching the news, and because I was in 8th grade, having a regular persona who was also teacher on board (and one from the neighboring state) was pretty exciting.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        BeaW – we must be about the same age. The Iranian embassy takeover is the first thing I really remember & I was about 5. The thing I remember the most was not understanding it.

    9. 15*

      I remember glimpses of the death of Alfredo Rampi (a child who fell into an ardesian well, there is a wikipedia article about him) in 81 and Italy winning the World Cup in 82. I was 3 and 4 years old.
      The first news event I remember well is the Chernobyl disaster. It was just a few days before my 8th birthday and we could not drink fresh milk, or eat lattuce. So so scary!

    10. Elizabeth West*

      The moon landing. I was four years old and playing at my mom’s friend’s house (I think; I think we were there and not home). I wandered into the living room and saw astronauts on the TV and said, “What are they doing?”

      The grownups said, “Shhh!! They’re on the moon!”

      My little mouth fell open and I said, “They’re on the MOON??? Nuh uh!” and ran off to play again. LOL.

      I also remember a lot of Vietnam War footage–bodies in the rivers in Cambodia, etc.–on the news. It didn’t really bother me that much, because it was so far away. I’m very surprised I was allowed to watch that and also M*A*S*H. My mother was kind of strict about what she let us see (seriously, I wasn’t allowed to watch Welcome Back Kotter, for corn’s sake). Though I never have asked her, I suppose she wanted us to know how awful the war was.

    11. SherryD*

      I learned about the fall of the Berlin Wall from Alvin and the Chipmunks. I was 5. I didn’t really understand it, but I knew it was important.

      1. Windchime*

        I woke my son up and had him watch the coverage of the Wall falling. He would have been just a few weeks shy of his 4th birthday, so I’m sure he doesn’t remember. But I felt it was really important and I wanted him to see it.

        I don’t remember the first impactful thing I saw on TV. I wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a young person because of the war in Viet Nam. My mother feared that the images were too violent. I appreciate her protecting me, but the result was that I grew up knowing practically nothing about it.

        The explosion of the Challenger made a huge impact on me. But nothing (I hope) will ever impact me like the images of 9/11. I turned on the TV to drink my morning tea and the image was so horrifying, so unreal, that I just didn’t understand so I changed the channel. And saw the same thing. Then I realized that something awful was happening.

        1. Mimmy*

          This is why I am loving this thread so much…I was in my late 20s when 9/11 happened and even I couldn’t fully process it all until later that day. I can’t even begin to imagine the impact it had young children. Reading everyone’s stories of remembering other news stories is really intriguing as well.

          I’ll also be interested to learn how children–as adults–will remember / understand more recent events, both horrific and hopeful.

          1. Felicia*

            I was 11, so not the youngest of children, and it was a big feeling of “the world is never safe.” and “This can happen to anyone.” I think seeing 9/11 as children is more defining for my generation then any of the stupid stereotypes . Then there is my 16 year old sister, who is too young to remember 9/11 and for kids her age it’s not scary, it’s just something that happened when they were babies/toddlers and they don’t know the world before it – or for my 12 year old cousin something that happened before she was ever born and for a 12 year old that means she never thinks of it at all (though they do teach it in school now). I also remember thinking that on 9/11 at 11…like “this is going to make history books some day soon, and it’s the type of thing my kids will ask me about when I grow up” In a positive light, my 16 year old sister is also too young to remember before gay marriage was legalized in my country :) I can’t wait until that’s true of all American children :)

    12. Purr purr purr*

      I don’t really remember exact specifics but I do remember lots of news stories about the delightful IRA and their terrorist attacks in Britain (and pretty disgusted when I was older to learn the bars in Boston sold drinks with horrible names like ‘Kill a Brit’). I think I remember the coal mining strike and Thatcher bringing down the unions as well but jeez, I’d have been about 2 or 3 back then so maybe that one is a false memory. In general though, I think my parents tried to limit watching the news while my sister and I were awake and saved it for when we went to bed.

    13. Jazzy Red*

      I remember when Russia launched the first Sputnik satellite. I think it was around 1957; I was about 6 or 7 then. Regular people didn’t know much about space, and people were terrified that the Russians could shoot death rays down on America from the satellite.

    14. Mallory Janis Ian*

      The first I think I remember is Elvis’ death, and I was seven. I remember because we lived about 30 – 45 minutes from Memphis (where we all shopped and went to the hospital), and my mom and all the aunts were crying and talking about hopping into the car and driving over there. I don’t remember whether they did or not.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      The first news thing I remember is the day Kennedy was shot. I remember asking my mother what a president was and what the United States was. I was three. What made a big impression on me was how upset the adults were around me. The adults were on the phone constantly and constantly whispering to each other.

      It’s just dawning on me now. My parents never mentioned that day again. But I guess after going through the Great Depression and WWII, they probably figured they should just move on like they did with everything else that happened in their lives.

    16. Stephanie*

      I have vague memories of the first Bush administration and seeing Bush talk on television. I would have been around 6. I would plop down and watch the news with my parents in like third grade, but didn’t really process it. I was just interested as a famous (now deceased) newscaster had the same last name as me.

      First big news event I really remember was the Waco siege. I was 7. Probably after that, I would say the Tupac Shakur shooting (I was 10).

    17. Hummingbird*

      I have a couple of memories that were within 6 months of one another:

      -Election of 1992: Bush vs. Clinton. That made me 7 years old.
      -World Trade Center Bombing of 1993: Just a week shy of my 8th birthday. I remember this because I was home from school. I was watching afternoon cartoons when the TV went out. We could only get channel 2 because CBS still had their antennas on the Empire (as well WTC).

      However, I have personal memories that start at about age 2. I just wish I could have remembered the fall of the Berlin Wall. I probably watched it with my parents on the news, but I have no recollection of it. I don’t remember my first world news memory, but I do remember in junior high knowing names of people being leaders.

      1. Bea W*

        My personal memories go back to about the same time as well. I remember having no interest in adult TV (new? BORING!). I didn’t pay much attention to it, and when I was old enough to start understanding things I saw, it just scared the crap out of me.

      2. De Minimis*

        I still have fond memories of seeing the Wall come down. I was a senior in high school and there was this real sense that the world was changing and things were going to be different for my generation.

    18. Student*

      OJ Simpson car chase is the one I remember most clearly. I was in grade school. It was also the first thing that really brought home the concept of racism.

      I vaguely remember the wall falling, because my mother went on and on about it, but I didn’t understand what it meant until many years later. I was in preschool.

      1. Stephanie*

        OJ Simpson car chase is the one I remember most clearly. I was in grade school. It was also the first thing that really brought home the concept of racism.

        Same, sort of. I had vague ideas of racism (and had experienced some that school I was attending at the time). I was in third grade in a mostly white school in a Philly suburb. What I did find really odd was that the school principal announced the verdict over the PA system and that my third grade teacher was really upset OJ was acquitted. I placed it had something to do with his race, but I didn’t really understand the racial significance of the case and trial until I was older.

    19. Jen RO*

      I remember my parents explaining that Santa (and my godparents) would not be able to come that Christmas, because people were shooting outside. I didn’t realize at the time what was happening (except that my godfather probably WAS Santa :P).

      It was 1989, I was 6 and a half, and communism was being overthrown in Romania. Ceausescu ran away on December 22nd and was shot on December 25th.

      1. Jen RO*

        And I was 17 when 9/11 happened and halfway around the world, but I still remember being shellshocked for the entire day…

    20. De Minimis*

      I vaguely remember some things from the late 70s…Jonestown, and also the Cuban refugees being housed at some of the military bases [interesting now given current events]. I don’t remember the actual coverage of Jonestown, I just remember people talking about it. I would have had to have been five or six years old. Pretty much anything from the 80s I was fairly well aware of, so nothing from then would have been the first.

      Also remember Elvis dying, as someone else mentioned, although I was too young to understand the significance of it. I was in kindergarten.

      I was too young to remember Nixon resigning. Carter was the first president I was aware of. First election I was really aware of was the 1980 Presidential election.

    21. cuppa*

      I remember the San Francisco earthquake in 1989. I was four or five.
      It’s funny because I was just talking with friends about this a week or two ago.

      1. De Minimis*

        Yep…his buddy AC was driving. I remember they even had a picture-in-picture thing for it during an NBA playoff game [maybe the Finals, can’t remember]

        It was weird where I was at….a lot of people harbored racist attitudes about black people but many supported OJ Simpson due to his athletic career.

  39. Janis*

    I remember seeing the evening news about the war in Vietnam and wondering why they kept talking about “gorilla” warfare. I also remember hearing stories about the Gallup poll. I grew up in New Mexico and there’s a town out in NM/AZ border named Gallup. I just couldn’t figure *why* anyone would go to Gallup NM of all places to get opinions on anything! (My mother told both those stories about me for years.)

    1. Felicia*

      I’m not sure when I first heard the term, but I always wondered about “gorilla” warfare too :)

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I remember wondering why the gorillas were fighting, and being confused because gorillas don’t live in Asia. I also remember the first time I saw the word written out and realised my silly misunderstanding.

        1. Bea W*

          Not related to news – but I remember seeing commercials for “Non-stop flights” and being utterly confused how that worked. If the flight didn’t stop, did people just parachute out when they got over where they wanted to go? Similarly, there were these commercials for Greyhound bus that said “Go Greyhound and leave the driving to us.” which led me to believe that other bus lines operated by having passengers take turns driving the bus. I was under 6 (and possibly under 5) years old at the time and had never been on a plane or a bus.

          1. Monodon monoceros*

            I love stories like this! There was a This American Life that started with a bunch of them. One was a girl who thought unicorns were real, just endangered, until she was at a college party when everyone was talking about the environment and she said something about the poor endangered unicorns. Ha!

            My sister didn’t think reindeer were real animals until she was in middle school.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I remember trying to explain to a girl in first grade that the armadillo was a real animal. She didn’t believe it existed. I, the inveterate encyclopedia-reading kid even that that age, brought it in to show her and she STILL didn’t buy it. I often wonder what happened to her.

              1. Jazzy Red*

                I moved to Arkansas 10 years ago, and I’ve seen lots of armadillos here. All dead, except for one who was running as fast as it’s stubby little legs could go. They’re nocturnal, so a lot of them become roadkill.

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  @Jazzy Red: Ok, so have you seen yet how sometimes the teenagers (I presume) will prop up a dead armadillo with a beer can in its hands? (For you non-rural residents: don’t ask).

    2. Jazzy Red*

      1. Guerrilla Warfare – there’s a pretty good definition in Wikepedia. Basically, it refers to small groups or individuals fighting instead of troops facing each other and blasting away (think the Revolutionary War in TURN).

      2. Gallup is the last name of the man who came up with idea of surveying samples of people to gauge what the whole population thinks. Maybe the town was named after him, too?

      1. Hummingbird*

        I was just going to answer that it is not “gorilla,” it’s guerilla. Let me just add: There is a slight pronunciation difference. Guerrilla comes from the Spanish “guerra.” It means “little war.”

    3. I Love Books*

      my first major event was probably father bush being elected president, then desert storm/kuwait. i was 10 then. there was a lot of emphasis on us helping poor little kuwait and how awful saddam hussein was.

  40. BB*

    I had accidentally posted this question in the wrong spot earlier in the thread so I apologize for posting again but I just wanted to make sure it gets seen.

    Question is: How do I italicise/bold/underline a word in a comment? (I’ve seen others do it).

    Thank you.

  41. Anxietysucks*

    I’m about two weeks away from having health insurance again. My very first stop will be my doctor’s office to get back on anti-anxiety meds. This waking up in the middle of the night/early morning with panic/anxiety attacks is sucking something fierce.

  42. Anx*

    Health insurance question:

    Suppose someone’s retirement income is being drawn on early because they can’t find a job with benefits and aren’t quite at Medicare eligibility and insurance is super expensive. Say they do have some assets and are leery of using Medicaid because their state does asset recovery, and they can’t find any evidence that the ACA will stop recovery (or that if the ACA is repealed/undermined, that that protection would last). Plus, they want to contribute, but not pay the equivalent of rent or mortgage.

    Can selling stock count count toward a minimum income? Say you sell ~17k in stock. You wouldn’t have to pay payroll taxes on it and the tax rate is ~15%, right? Factor in personal exemptions, and the taxes should be pretty low. Could you use that taxable income to try to ‘make’ the FPL? Otherwise you’d be too poor for the subsidies.

    It seems a bit shady. But it also seems like this person would be falling through the cracks of a law targeted at helping people like them: those on the individual market who have some money or assets, but can’t afford the extremely high premiums for their age groups.

    Is this perfectly legal? I can’t find many resources for trying to look like you have more money to help instead of less. But with half the states not expanding Medicaid/and those over 55 worrying about asset recovery, I figure there has to be some answers out there.

    1. CTO*

      Investment income counts as income for the purposes of the ACA. For the most part, the ACA counts as income the same things the IRS counts as income (but allows fewer deductions). From my understanding (I was a certified Navigator in my state) it would be perfectly legal to sell stock in order to gain additional income for the purposes of qualifying for health insurance subsidies. You’re not “maki