weekend free-for-all – August 30-31, 2014

Olive in cat caveIt’s the weekend free-for-all.

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Have at it.

{ 812 comments… read them below }

  1. Elle*

    I’m making my own dress for a black tie event in a few months. I’m so excited! I’m still narrowing down all the ideas I have and doing way too much math on how much fabric I need.

    1. Noah*

      That sounds awesome. I got a sewing machine on Amazon Vine recently and the only thing I’ve done so far is make a duvet cover from two sheets. Making clothing looks so complicated, but I can imagine it is very satisfying when you can wear something you made and it looks great.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I bought the latest copy of Burda magazine today and the emphasis is on dirndls and outfits for the Oktoberfest in Munich. However there are examples of how to adapt the dress into a 1950s number, which might have more wear in it.

      2. C Average*

        It totally is! Pick an easy pattern and some not-too-expensive fabric and give it a go. Keep your seam-ripper handy in case you need it. Have fun! The best way to learn is to just get in there and go for it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Simplicity used to have some easy patterns- I haven’t looked in a while, so am not sure if they still do. “Sew Easy” , I think.

      1. Elle*

        me too but then I use it for other stuff. I am using remanants from a work shirt I made for the backing of a pillow I am cross stitching for my sister right now.

    2. C Average*

      Sweet! I love sewing. I made my own wedding dress, which took MONTHS, and haven’t finished a major project since (three years later). I think I am going to make myself a Grumpy Cat costume for Halloween.

      I always seem to buy too much fabric and not enough thread. Lots of late-night runs to Joann Fabric to get an extra spool right before closing time.

      1. Elle*

        I was going to do a really full skirt and corset top but I found a beautiful heavy geometric fabric that I loved so much I bought 4 yards and now I’m gonna wing it!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Cool! I make my own skating dresses because I’m so tall I can’t find any that fit, and custom ones are too expensive. But I never tried making anything as nice as that. Would you please post a picture of the dress when you’ve finished? :D

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Haha, not really–I use Kwik Sew patterns because they’re idiot-proof. You can mix and match the skirts, sleeves, etc. on some of them. They LOOK homemade, unfortunately–I’m not the best sewer. But from the audience, when I’m skating for two minutes, they look okay. It’s the illusion that counts.

    4. FD*

      I want to learn to sew! I got this awesome old lunker of a sewing machine for $15 at Savers, but I haven’t gotten to start any projects yet. I’m thinking of starting with some table runners and such, to get used to the machine and how to read patterns.

      I’ll admit that I’m sort of trying to overcome a mental block; my mom tried to teach me when I was young, and it always ended in tears (my way of learning and my mom’s way of teaching are not at all compatible), but I want to learn now that I’m an adult.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I think it is easier as an adult to go back into these things. I went back into crocheting and it suddenly made more sense. As a kid, I thought it was so very awkward.

        1. FD*

          I was also a very impatient child and wanted to be good RIGHT AWAY, and my mom loves me, but she has trouble explaining things clearly to others. Not a great combo.

          I get along with her much better now that we don’t live together, and have agreed not to go shopping or learn new activities together.

        2. Melissa*

          My friend taught me how to knit a couple years ago. I put it down, but now I want to go back to it now that I have more free time! I think I’m going to start by knitting an afghan for my new couches :D

      2. Noah*

        YouTube is a great resource, at least for me. I watched several videos on the basics and how to thread a machine and it helped it make sense for me. I also started with just some cheap fabric and worked on getting the feel of the machine before I started a project. Like I said above I started with a duvet cover, which was probably not the best choice. It is all straight lines but there’s a huge amount of fabric to maneuver. It turned out great, but it took me weeks to get over the mental hurdle of starting.

        1. Anonymous*

          Craftsy.com has a lot of really interesting online classes for sewing and crafts. I’m signed up for “how to make a couture dress.”

  2. Grey*

    Is there any way to get the non-mobile version of the site on a tablet? I have trouble reading the comments section on my Galaxy Tab. I might be able to if I could use the expand/collapse feature, but it’s not available on the mobile version.

    1. Audiophile*

      You should see something somewhere to see the full site. Or hit the menu button on your tab and check the box that says, see the desktop version. I do this on my Android a lot, when mobile versions of sites don’t feature content I need.

    2. Jubilance*

      Are you using the stock internet browser? You might have better luck with Chrome on your tablet. I also find I can collapse/expand if I go to the AAM post from the Feedly app on my tablet.

    3. Grey*

      I played around with it. It seems the collapse/expand option doesn’t appear until after all comments have fully loaded. If there’s a large number of comments, they take a while to load on the tablet. That’s why I wasn’t seeing the option.

    4. Chuchundra*

      Download the Dolphin Browser from the Google Play store. It has an option to allow you to request the desktop site instead of the mobile site.

      1. Grey*

        I’ve tried the Dolphin browser. I found it takes more than twice as long as Opera to load a web page.

  3. Cool Beans*

    Finally taking the leap and making plans to move into my own place for the first time. Any advice to share? All tips appreciated!

    1. StudentA*

      Start going through your “stuff” early. Papers, clothes, etc. You’ll find stuff you need to toss, others you need to donate, others you need to stick in a safe, others you need to file. If you start organized files early, you won’t have to refile or reorganize when you unpack in your new place. Stuff will just go in their proper place. This advice does not apply as much if you are one of those who is always on the ball with staying organized.

      If moving stresses you out, start now with getting stuff you’ll need, anything from an alarm clock to a new tv. Put the stuff in storage if need be. That way you don’t make too many purchases under pressure and stress yourself out.

      Depending on your finances, starting early gives you an opportunity to get used stuff that’s also the quality you seek. Go on craigslist and visit thrift stores and see what you find.

      1. AmyNYC*

        THIS. It’s very easy to tuck stuff away to deal with later – if you do a little bit each week (pack books you won’t read before the move, take one bag of stuff to be donated…) it will help a lot.

    2. BK*

      I’ve got a tip – at night turn on all your lights and pull shades/curtains and have someone walk around your place. Stand outside and see what you can see and if you need to upgrade your window treatments.

      Sometimes when you’re renting the shades are really flimsy and you can see through them at night. You want to know if you’re visible to the whole neighborhood before you do naked stuff at night!

      Learned this one the hard way.

    3. Artemesia*

      When you choose what to take with you focus on what to take, not what to discard. Nothing makes life more pleasant than having what you need and not all the junk you have accumulated for years beforehand. We recently moved from a giant house to a new city and a tiny condo — I can’t tell you what a pleasure it is to have a tiny kitchen in which everything in that kitchen is something I often use. We got rid of most everything when we moved (I think we furnished about half a dozen refugee apartments in our old city with our donations) and restocked the kitchen with only what we needed. (kept a few things of course) Get rid of the clothes you haven’t worn in a couple of years; get rid of household items you never use but keep hauling around; get rid of books you don’t treasure (we sent many boxes of fiction to troops abroad — there is an organization that organizes this) and donated others, sold others etc. I got rid of old make-up and similar products (I was a bit of a hoarder there).

      Then when you get into the new place organize it thoughtfully for the way you live every day. Figure out where to store off season clothes (we have a closet in the guest room and giant plastic shallow boxes that fit under the bed, so our walk in closet only has the things we are wearing for the season we are in).

      Have fun with it; make it your own.

    4. Ludo*

      Two words: hire movers. It is often cheaper than you would expect and saves so much in stress and lower back pain.

      1. Chuchundra*

        Yes, the first time I hired movers I felt like such a slacker.

        This was something I could do myself. I’m a big, strong man and I have a couple similarly sized brothers.

        But I hired the movers anyway and it was some of the best money I ever spent.

      2. Melissa*

        THIS, all day. I will never move my own stuff again, lol. And honestly, if you are going longer than around the block there’s probably not a huge price difference. If you don’t have a lot of expensive stuff you could even rent your own truck and hire a couple of college students to do the lifting for you (that’s what I did, through a company that specializes in this).

      3. Calla*

        Last year I hired movers, this year I used the same guys, and I’m never going without them again. Granted, I’m only moving my room + some kitchen stuff since I’ve always had roommates, but it’s not expensive at all. What would take me half a day and lots of tears takes them 2 hours tops.

        A friend used TaskRabbit instead of booking actually movers and I know it turned out well for her, and it’s much cheaper (in the Boston area, $30-40/hr instead of $100-150/hr). I like the security of knowing it is booked with established professionals, but ymmv/your budget may vary!

    5. Heartlover*

      Make a “first-night” box/picnic basket for your kitchen.

      You’ll probably not feel like cooking immediately after you move, so put in utensils, plates, napkins, drinking vessels (hot & cold), salt & pepper, salad dressing, small bottle of dish soap, etc., for your first take out meal in your new place. After picking up pizza or some other type of grub, you won’t need to search for plates among your boxes, and in the morning before rushing off to work, your coffee/tea cup is in there as well.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        Adding to this pack an overnight bag as if you’re going out of town for a few days. Toiletry items, shoes, toothbrush, toothpaste—all the stuff you’d need if going away. Saves you the headache of looking through boxes…

        One of my students moved mid winter and came to school with her dad’s jacket on because mom couldn’t find her jacket. I don’t know if I’ve moved around too much but it just makes sense to not just throw essentials in a random bag.

        1. Judy*

          I always have one bag with whatever I feel I need to know where it is. Important papers, checkbook, etc. I also keep my jewelry in that bag. When we’ve moved after our kids were born, they have a bag too. But their bag has a few small toys, their blanket and favorite stuffed animals. Just as important to them as the other things are to us.

          Be sure to have toilet paper, tissues, paper towels and a cheap shower curtain in that first night box, also. Maybe some trash bags.

          1. Melissa*

            I always forget the toilet paper and paper towels and end up having to do a run to Walmart in the middle of the night after moving bc I don’t have any TP, lol.

        2. Windchime*

          Yep, and toilet paper and paper towels as well.

          Also….the first thing I do when I move (after unloading the truck) is to set up my bed and find my “first night” box. It will have my PJs, socks, and the other items that those above me have mentioned (toothbrush, shower gel and shampoo, medications, etc). This allows me to unpack and do what I want until bedtime, and then I can easily crash into my freshly-made bed.

          If you have a pet, think about how they will make the move. Maybe it’s easier for dogs, but when I moved here I left my cat with a trusted friend for a few days. Once I had a few days in the new house to do my running around (setting up the mail and cable, finding the grocery store), then I went back and got my cat. It was a little easier for him to settle in after I’d been in the house a few days.

    6. Libby*

      Also, as soon as you arrive in your new place with your stuff, assemble and make your bed before you do anything else. That way you can crash as soon as you decide to stop unpacking and such. Congrats! It’s exciting to get your own

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is an absolutely critical step. Do not skip this step. lol. The last time we moved we both keeled over about 7 pm. We were done for the day.

        1. Windchime*

          hahaha, me too. In fact, I had a big flat screen TV and a lawn chair in my living room for a couple of months until my new furniture came (my old stuff was too battered and grubby to make the move). I also didm”t have any window treatments for awhile, so anyone looking in the window would have thought it was a batchelor pad.

      1. Al Lo*

        I’ve both given and received plungers as a moving gift. And also had to make an emergency run for one when one of our moving helpers clogged the toilet.

        1. C Average*

          Total thread hijack, but I have a recurring toilet overflow nightmare. In the dream, I’m inevitably someplace where a clogged toilet is REALLY awkward (fancy house party, single occupancy restroom at a store or restaurant, the home of a colleague, etc.) and there’s no plunger. I stand there in horror watching the water rise and spill over the sides. Do I tell someone? Do I go away quickly so no one will know I’m responsible? Do I throw towels on the floor or jiggle the handle or try to open the tank and mess with the floater and other parts?

          I do not even WANT to know what this dream means, but I always wake up with my heart pounding, and sometimes I actually get up and go inspect both bathrooms.

          1. Kay*

            This happened to me in real life. I work for an in-home tutoring company and somehow managed to stop up and overflow the toilet in a client’s house. I was MORTIFIED! I helped clean up, and they were really nice about it, but I made a point of never having to go to the bathroom at their house again.

        2. Bea W*

          I came home after sometime away and found that someone (could have been the former roomate or my family who were taking care of the animals) had clogged the toilet. I had no plunger, but before I could run next door to the store I had to urgently…um…unload. Not wanting to add to the problem and make it grosser, I grabbed a bag and squatted over it. 21 years later I still have the plunger I bought immediately that after that experience. Buy one before you move even. Don’t risk being without!

    7. V. Meadowsweet*

      unless it’s been professionally cleaned between the last tenant and you (and maybe even then) give it a good cleaning before you move in if at all possible (it’s so much easier when there’s nothing to maneuver around!).
      Check all the places you never think to check (that cupboard that has a left turn, the tops of the cupboards, behind the drawers in the fridge, down the sides of appliances (if feasible), under the vanity (if it’s got an accessible under), and so forth).
      Not only do you end up with it clean to your specs, but you also get to learn the places that you might forget you put something :)

          1. Elle*

            Mice won’t chew through it so it’s a great way to rodent proof your house (as much as any house can be at least.)

      1. MissM*

        Yes! It is so much easier to clean out kitchen cabinets, drawers, fridge, etc. when everything is empty. This is also a good time to put down contact paper in the cabinets.

        Before my first move, my mother gave me a gift of a bucket, mop, broom, sponges, cleaning supplies, etc. And also a small toolbox filled with the basics. Even if you are renting and there is a maintenance person, if something breaks late at night, it may be easier to fix yourself.

    8. Felicia*

      I’m doing the same now , so good luck! I’ve only looked at (and applied for) one apartment, and looking at another on Monday, so I’m still in the beginning stages, but it is an exciting and daunting process! Especially since here getting an apartment is fairly competitive.

        1. Felicia*

          I did…found it on Craigslist! I’ve mostly been talking to friends who’ve found places recently as a sort of “wtf do I do, I don’t know what to do” type of thing, and they all recommended Craigslist.

          I applied for place one, but I won’t know if they’ve accepted my application until Tuesday, and I am looking at place 2 on Monday, which sounds slightly better. Both were found on Craigslist, and are roughly in the same area.

          If you don’t have a specific area in mind, i found it helped me to look at various online ads to get a better idea of which areas i like and can afford, and which I can’t afford.

          So far what I hate is you can like a place, and apply to rent it, but you won’t necessarily be chosen as a tenant, because several other people like and apply for it too. If you’re in a big popular city like me that’s just how it is. And I still have no idea how/why one person gets chosen as a tenant over another.

          1. NZ Muse*

            Yep same in my city. It’s so competitive places will only have one showing for about 15 mins, that’s it – and that showing is almost always during normal working hours. Can’t make it? You’re sh*t outta luck.

            I’d say generally the more you earn the more chance you have of getting picked. And if they liked the look of you. I remember going to see a house once with my BF and a couple of his friends – we were all looking to rent a place together. I could tell as soon as we got out of the car that the LL didn’t like us and we didn’t have a chance.

            1. Felicia*

              I haven’t had the problem of them being during normal working hours! (yet), but definitely the one showing for about 15 minutes is a thing, and if you can’t make that time, too bad. I hear that the fact that I’m a single female with no pets gives me better chances, but I don’t know what kind of impression I’m trying to or can make in 15 minutes! I definitely make enough to afford anything I’m looking at comfortably, and I imagine for someone looking for something that size in those areas, no one would make too much more. Though since I currently live with my parents and have never moved out before, I have the disadvantage of no former landlord references. But everyone has a first apartment they rent, so that can’t make every single landlord not pick me.

    9. Henrietta Gondorf*

      If you’re not sure about how all your stuff will fit in the new place, think very long and hard about renting a storage locker. You’ll likely wind up spending more on rental costs than you would to replace what’s in the storage locker. And that’s assuming you’d even need to. Most stuff that goes in a storage locker is forgotten.

    10. Melissa*

      Remember that furnishing an apartment takes TIME. One of the things I was disappointed to learn was that furniture is expensive and acquiring enough of it to make your home feel homey…well, that can take several months or years. Some furniture stores do 12 months no interest, and that can work for big pieces – I just got some couches that way. At the same time, though, cheap DIY furniture can get annoying really fast. I think everyone has to start with it so they have something to eat off of while they save the money for that sweet dining set, for example, but don’t think of it as a super long-term solution.

      Also, don’t skimp on the mattress. Ever. You’ll pay for it with your back or your sleep.

    11. MeUnplugged*

      You do not need to buy everything all at once, and for your first place it doesn’t need to be high end stuff right from the get go. You can always trade up later. I loved living only own and by myself. Enjoy your freedom!

    12. Cupcake*

      If you are moving from your parents’ home to your own home, try to grab an afternoon with the current main chef, whether it be mom or dad, and ask them to show you how to make some of your favorite meals. My son has been in his first apartment for one month, and today is coming over to do just that. He realized he only knows how to cook four simple things, and is already tired of his own cooking.
      Also, the day you move in, take pictures of EVERYTHING. Cracks or holes in the walls, missing cabinet knobs, anything that you might get dinged for when you move out. Make sure you document all the flaws and have your landlord sign it.

    13. Scott*

      Get renter’s insurance if you’re renting. It’s very cheap. I had an apartment fire when I was in my 20s and lost all of my stuff. I didn’t make that much back then, and was glad to have had the insurance.

  4. anonymous so as not to bias anyone*

    Is saying “it must be nice to have so much free time” to someone (at least to someone who doesn’t feel they have a ton of free time) always rude? I think it is, but I’m curious to hear other opinions.

    The situation that sparked this: I’ve been working very long hours for the last ~6 months and I’ve been stressed out by it. Recently on a rare work-free weekend, I binge-watched a whole TV series in several days and posted about how much I’d loved it on Facebook. My mother commented on the post: “Must be nice to have that much free time.” This annoyed me — I found it condescending and borderline-insulting and it felt like one-upsmanship.

    In her defense, my mother is in a stressful period herself, having spent the last two weeks dealing with a family situation that caused her to have to fly across the country and deal with a medical situation for one sister without help from the third sister (who is local to the in-need sister and should have been helping but is notoriously selfish). It’s caused her to have to push back a lot of her own work, which she’s now trying to catch up on while still juggling the sister situation. But she also recently returned from a two-week vacation and travels for fun regularly (time in which she could binge-watch a TV series if she chose to, although that’s not her thing — but my point is that her stress level from the last two weeks isn’t a constant thing). She knows that I’ve been stressed for months about the amount of time I spend working, although I believe that it wasn’t foremost in her mind when she left the comment.

    I asked her what was up with the comment, and she professed surprise that I had taken it badly — saying that it was “simply a commentary that it must be nice to have enough time to watch 15 episodes of something. I envy you.”

    To me, “must be nice to have so much free time” comments are pretty much always rude. Am I in the wrong here, or is she being oblivious to how most people would take that? I’m not holding a grudge over it or anything, just trying to figure out if I’m off-base in finding it so abrasive.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I agree. At the very least, they’re passive aggressive. If I see something on Facebook like this, my response is always along the lines of, “OMG that sounds like a perfect weekend and I’m green with envy.” Because it’s true.

    2. Clerica*

      That was really rude. I don’t know if it always is, but I can’t think of a situation where it wouldn’t be offhand. When you work hard, no one gets to tell you how you should be spending your off hours.

    3. Jamie*

      I can’t imagine a scenario where that doesn’t annoy me. I can see where you mom meant it innocently, but it’s hard to read that phrase without sarcasm. Like you have some kind of cush life.

      I took a couple of days off lately to get the kids situated with school and came back to “all rested? Must be nice to be able to take the time.” Are you kidding me? Like I’m a lady who lunches?

      I don’t call people out on this stuff – but that phrase generally leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      1. April*

        I think the reason it comes across badly is because it’s in writing and not spoken. I’ve had things like that spoken aloud to me in a way that didn’t sound mean at all, they sounded very supportive and understanding, like the person was rejoicing with me at what a relief it must be to finally have that much free time. But in print you lose the kind and supportive tone of voice and are left with just the bald words which do look sort of sarcastic and judgmental when they’re written down with no context.

        In the absence of any cues that definitely make clear the Facebook comment was meant badly, one could just assume the writer meant it in a good way and cheerfully reply, “Yes, it was so nice! After working seven day weeks for the past six months, it was such a needed break. I just love [something awesome about the show]. Nothing like it to rejuvenate me when I’m starting to get burnt out. What’s your favorite thing to do to relax and destress after working hard?”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This. Mention to your mother that one can not hear tone of voice in the written word.
          I agree any statement that starts out with “must be nice….” usually does not have the best of intentions behind it. Encourage you mother to read out loud what she has typed- tell her the rest of us are doing that.

          [This is what I think of as using anger is a proper way. Take that extra energy from the upset you feel and put the time in explaining this to her.]

          1. Treena Kravm*

            And this is where punctuation comes in handy.
            “Must be nice to have that much free time.”
            “It must be nice to have so much free time! =)”

    4. Clerica*

      I get a lot of this because I work for a school so everyone assumes I “get paid to have the summer off” when the reality is you get a certain salary divided by 12 so your paycheck is the same all year–it isn’t free money. My response now is that I can see how a school job can be deceptive, so let me break it down–the average full-time employee who works 5 days a week with two weeks a year off works 250 days. Between my jobs I work 304. So what I do with the other days is my business, thanks ever so.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        See I’m on the flipside, I work for a school but I don’t get paid for the summer nor are we given the option to divide our pay. While I do enjoy my summers, by the time August comes I *need to return work and get a paycheck. I had one coworker who would constantly say how it must be so nice…
        Also our school use to give us (school year staff) the option to work on election day. One election day she came into my room bent out of shape because I was working without students in the room, and she commented how nice it must be and went on and on. Meanwhile she had upto 3 weeks of paid vacation, I take vacations unpaid. She could use whenever she wished, while mine are set by the district’s schedule. Talk about annoying.

      2. Academic librarian anon*

        This ! People think because their kid is in school from 9:00 to 3:00 that those were my working hours and that is it. Hah. There is at least 1 hour prep, maybe 2 for every hour teaching. There are reports to write. IEP plans and lessons. New curriculum planning. Test prep. Correcting homework. Early morning before school “homework help” meetings. Before school and after school -team meetings with parents for special ed issues, Faculty meetings. Curriculum meetings. Team Meetings. School night events. Hiring committee meetings, Parent meetings. Admin meetings. Continuing Education classes to keep certification. Supervising and reporting on student teachers. Evaluating staff. AND the daily pressure of always being “on”.

        Summer off? Two weeks at the end of the school year are planning for next fall, clean up, supply ordering, professional development. Two weeks before school starts- room setup, team meetings, curriculum planning etc. So that is one month (most people aren’t paid for that time). So that gives us 6 weeks off , maybe (many, especially beginning teachers can’t afford not to be paid, work for camps or summer schools) as with every professional position, we are continuing to catch up on our professional reading.

        I am in my second year full time in higher education. There are other pressures (tenure track etc) but nothing like working full time in an pre-k through 8th grade.

        1. danr*

          You forgot to mention all comments that it must be nice to have so much time to just sit and read. [not!]
          school librarian was my second dream job.

    5. Artemesia*

      the phrase ‘it must be nice’ is just a hot button to most people because it is usually hostile (it must be nice not to have to work, it must be nice to inherit all that money, it must be nice to be the boss’s favorite) you can say the same thing without the phrase.

    6. CC*

      You’re not off-base and it’s not just you.

      I’ve found that any comment that starts with “must be nice…” is not a compliment. Sometimes it’s said from bitterness, sometimes from envy, sometimes from judging that you should be doing something else with whatever it “must be nice” to have so much of, sometimes for other reasons, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard it said as a compliment.

    7. StudentA*

      Hmm…I don’t see it as being always rude. I think the person saying it must realize this is more about them than the person they are saying it to. I think it really is as simple as that your mother is being envious, or simply that she wishes she wasn’t juggling as much.

      Granted, there are people who are just passive aggressive pricks. Those types are always saying something that can be perceived as both innocent and damaging. And if the person saying it is someone who is generally jealous of you or unsupportive of you, then, yeah, it is beyond rude, it is toxic.

      I think also some of it is dependent on tone and context of a conversation.

      1. CC*

        I can think of one context: the accidental rudeness of somebody who is not familiar with the language and its turns of phrase.

        On the surface, the words look positive. It is indeed nice to have enough [resource] to do [activity].

      2. StudentA*

        Perhaps I am naive. I tend to be the person who asks her friends “was I too hard on so and so”. I’m always trying to cut someone some slack when I shouldn’t be sometimes . Here are a few that may be genuinely innocent:

        Must be nice to get straight A’s without trying (I’ve met people who’ve said they did. I would never make an observation like that unless the person themselves said they “didn’t try”.)

        Must be nice to have a naturally great body without dieting or exercising.

        Must be nice to be drop-dead gorgeous.

        Must be nice to have a sweetheart of a boss in a great job that challenges you.

        Again, if the person is generally obnoxious to you, you have your answer. But if you have a decent relationship with the person, and all they did was say “must be nice to binge on tv”, I don’t see it as rude. Would you feel the same way if a medical student under tremendous pressure said that?

        1. April*

          Hm… I have to agree with CC that in the absence of context those four examples you’ve listed don’t really sound very nice. I think they could be spoken out loud in just the right tone of voice and be okay, but writing them out, no. In writing, they just sound bitter and envious at best. Why not rephrase to be clearly supportive? Perhaps something like:

          1. Someone gets all A’s in a class and claims they didn’t even have to try:
          “Wow, that’s great [name]! What do you plan to do now?”
          “So glad to hear it! Will you be going on to [logical next step for someone of their talent]?”

          2. Someone is a healthy weight but doesn’t diet or exercise:
          Is it really necessary to comment on this at all? They’re healthy. So? Sheesh. Since when is someone’s health an appropriate topic for others to comment on?

          3. Someone is drop-dead gorgeous:
          Again, there’s really no need to say anything, period. But if you must comment, just say something nice about them, don’t make it a comparison implies they’re a bad person or you like them less because they are gorgeous and you aren’t. They didn’t ask to look a certain way, anymore than you did, that’s just how they were born! So don’t compare, just say something positive: “You have such a beautiful face. Your smile lights up the room.” “I just love your eyes, you have such naturally thick lashes.”

          4. Somebody has a great boss in a great job that they love:
          “That sounds so perfect for you! I am so thrilled that you landed something like that!”
          “Oh, that’s wonderful [name]! I’ve been hoping it everything would work out great for you and this sounds like it’s absolutely perfect!”

          1. Ruffingit*

            Totally agreed with all of this. I would add that if someone is drop dead gorgeous, they’ve likely heard tons of things said over the years about their appearance so why not find something to compliment them on that has nothing to do with how they look? For example, “You gave a great presentation the other day, I was really impressed with the way you spoke so confidently. How do you do that, I’d love to be able to do that myself.”

        2. Laura*

          “Must be nice to have a naturally great body without dieting or exercising.”

          In college, when I was struggling desperately to raise my weight and couldn’t, because metabolism, I didn’t share that with many people because of this sort of attitude. Someone actually saying this to my face, especially if the tone wasn’t *really* kind, would probably actually have gotten a glare and me stalking off…and only that because I wasn’t very good at confrontations. I’d have _wanted_ to swear at them.

          For the record, when the ‘great body’ is underweight no matter how the judgy person thinks it looks, no, actually it was not nice.

          And ‘must be nice’ is used sarcastically or jealously _so much_ that you really have to work to impart to it a positive tone.

    8. anonymous so as not to bias anyone*

      Anyone have thoughts on how to explain this to her so that she understands why it came across as rude in this particular context? Currently she seems to have no idea.

      1. piggy*

        What I would say is that while to her it sounds neutral, to you it sounds like she’s crapping on your good time by implying that you’re lazy or have *too much* free time. Even if she would never do that, this is actually a common way people make passive-aggressive stabs, and she should be aware of how negatively familiar her wording can sound.

      2. krisl*

        Sometimes people who are stressed end up saying/posting things that are more obnoxious than they would normally say or would even think. It might be just as well to give your mom a pass on this, unless she does this kind of thing a lot.

      3. Waiting Patiently*

        If anyone knows how to press our buttons–it’s our mom. I’d let it go. It’s annoying but this is all about her. You know you aren’t lazy.
        You can explain to her exactly why it’s not nice and easy for you.

      4. fposte*

        I’m with WP; yes, it was rude, but I don’t see that it’s worth where you’re considering taking it. If there’s other stuff going on between you and your mom that this is emblematic of, talk about the stuff, not about the wording of a Facebook comment.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          It could be two very tired people trying to have a conversation with each other when what they should do is get some sleep. Both people have been under excessive stress, I think that extra rest is necessary here.

      5. Not So NewReader*

        I would just say that the phrase is usually used in a subtly antagonistic manner. It is usually meant to be sarcastic. Tell her to try not to use it with other people a lot because it is off-putting.

        There is a difference between:
        “It must be nice to have two weeks off!”
        “I am so jealous of your two weeks off. I hope you have a great time!”

        In this example, the implication in the first statement is that the person did not deserve/earn the time off.
        The second statement is closer to what your mother was thinking and should have said.

        1. TheSnarkyB*

          Huh. It’s funny that people assume best of intentions when your mother (OP) is making herself perfectly clear. It’s very rude phrasing, it implies what ppl here are saying it implies (you didn’t deserve it//aren’t spending it well//she’s being condescending, or whatever), and it’s probably exactly what she meant to say.

    9. Amanda*

      It’s all about tone and context. My best friend, who said something like that to me when I was talking about a trip I’m hoping to take, has two toddlers and works and meant it from a sort of wistful POV that reflected on her own situation. It really was a non passive-aggressive way to say it.

      That sort of use is really rare though. In this situation your mother is being rude. I feel like mothers everywhere use the phrase as a surrogate for “shouldn’t you be cleaning your room?”

      1. anonymous so as not to bias anyone*

        I took it not so much as a “you should be doing something different with your time” but more as lashing out because she’s frustrated that she doesn’t have much free time right now, but doing it in a rude, raining on someone else’s parade way (and totally lacking in thought about the fact that she vacations on the reg and I work constantly).

        1. Waiting Patiently*

          Sounds like she being a kill joy. “Oh my situation is so bad and you shouldn’t be happy but share in my frustration”

          I remember in one of my group classes, there was this girl who started her introduction (we were seated in a circle, she was last person to go) — with “I should have gone first because my story is ‘so sad, so traumatic’. “It really irked me because while this was just a general introduction and people shared as little or as much as the wished–whether joy or sorrow, it was such an insensitive thing to say. It just felt like her intention was to bring the mood of the classroom down and focus on her and only her.

          1. Ruffingit*

            Yeah, I’ve known people who did that sort of thing. And honestly, when someone describes their own story as tragic and sad, it makes me think they are giving a lot of power to something they shouldn’t be giving power to necessarily. And generally they are doing it for the attention. I’ve known many people who’ve gone through incredible traumas that would have had me considering suicide, but none of them describe it as “sad and traumatic.” They generally say “It was an awful thing that happened, but I got through it and I’m grateful I did.” In other words, they don’t live in the tragedy and sadness, they move forward and try not to give a lot of their emotional power to the thing that happened. I admire people like that.

    10. Steve G*

      It’s a stupid thing to say, because there is no response, it’s a sure way to kill a conversation.

      But this is why certain things don’t belong on facebook! I’m sure a fair % of people are not going to consider binge watching TV as a good use of time, regardless of stress…so better not to put that stuff out there…

      1. Coco*

        I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what most people use Facebook for: updating friends and family about what they’re doing and are interested in, whether that be getting married or binge watching TV. I don’t see anything wrong with posting about it.

      2. April*

        There’s a great response: Agree with them! I mean, it *is* nice to whatever-it-is, right? So, just accept what they are saying as you would accept any kind congratulations on your good fortune – agree that it’s nice, thank them for the thought, perhaps elaborate on why it was especially nice and relate it back to them (in a very kind friendly way that segues the conversation into things you both have in common).

        “Aw, thanks, Jenn! I know you feel me. It’s been a rough six months so yes, it’s been really nice to get to veg this weekend. How are things going for you? I know you’ve been under some stress too.”

    11. nep*

      The comment means whatever the commenter means it to mean, and we’ve never got any control over that. We’ve got control over how we react to it. How about not giving any precious time or energy at all to wondering what it meant, to being offended by it, to being annoyed by it. That’s all a choice. Disregard and move on seems like the best option to me.
      (Also, this all seems tied to this aspect of our culture that says if we are not at absolute full throttle and super busy every second of the day, then we’re lazy, irresponsible, not doing everything we should be doing. For some people that 24-hour busyness is necessary for survival or simply works as a lifestyle and that’s great. Others manage their time so as to have long stretches to chill, to smell the roses, to be ‘off’; more power to them.)

      1. nep*

        P.S. When the comment is taken as offensive, that could suggest a bit of a complex, too. Again, possibly related to this aspect of the culture that glorifies busyness.
        A good response to ‘It must be nice to have so much free time’: ‘Yes — it’s fantastic.’
        End of story.

    12. Laura*

      They are very pushy and rude, but they’re almost never meant that way.

      I’m reading _Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time_ right now (which so far actually isn’t telling me much I din’t already know, but I’m only partway through). And it points out what I think we all know at some level: our society has made busy-ness a status value and leisure less valued. People feel pressured to over-commit, over-perform, and leave little space for leisure (either the deep thoughtful sort or the casual joy sort).

      Knowing that, I’d have been tempted to respond to the (rude, but socially-expected, kind of) one-upsmanship with, “It sure is! I had to work the last X weekends, and I’ve been looking forward to this weekend a lot. I’m glad I was able to enjoy it.”

      …which is also actually kind of rude, given that the person one-upping you is usually actually envious at the same time, but so it goes.

    13. Ruffingit*

      It’s rude. Always. I really cannot think of a way this can be said that is not rude. In fact, “It must be nice to…” preceding anything is rude. It implies that the person receiving the comment has not worked hard for their money, time, etc., which is almost never the case. There are so many better ways to get across what your mother was trying to say and honestly, why not just say “I’m glad you were able to do something that relaxes you and was fun. I know you’ve been working really hard!” The whole it must be nice thing should just be struck from the English language in my view.

      1. chalomo*

        I don’t agree it’s always rude. For me it depends on context – although it’s not a phrase I tend to use myself, and agree it’s often used in a passive-aggressive way.

        To give an example of this that I don’t think is rude: I’ve recently started a new job and several of my family and friends have said to me that “it must be nice not to have a long commute”. Now, none of them have a lengthy commute… but I used to have a 5-hour round trip and now I don’t.

        I think where it gets rude is where it’s used to express or imply envy or dissatisfaction.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          I agree. Most of the time it is rude and passive aggressive, but there are times when it is not. I think the difference is that it must not be about the person who says it at all, and be completely obvious that it is said in earnest.


          My coworker ‘ s son just came back from a year of study abroad. I knew she missed him a lot. Me: must be nice to have Jake back home!

          Also, to someone who you know just finished a tough project: must be nice to have Project Horrible over with!

          And, to someone has been on a long trip, maybe not for fun: must be nice to be back home

          1. CC*

            Oh… yes, “must be nice to have [long-standing situation known to both parties now resolved]” can be a case where it’s not rude, depending on who says it and their tone of voice.

        2. Felicia*

          I think the main difference is people know that you had a long commute and no longer do, and it’s rare that people like a commute that long, so it’s safe to say one would probably be happy to no longer have such a commute. Or like if you know someone was desperately looking for a job, and they get one, saying “must be nice to be going to work” makes sense, but with things like free time, it’s impossible to accurately judge how much free time someone else has unless (maybe) you live with them, and it’s even less possible to know if they really like or want that free time, so “must be nice to have so much free time” specifically is always rude. It’s also often said in a judgemental tone, like the person thinks you’re slacking off or could/should be doing something more “productive” with your time.

        3. Ruffingit*

          Yes, you are right that in the example you gave, it’s not rude because the implication is literally that they are happy for you not to have a long commute. Most of the time though, I don’t hear it used that way. I hear it used as passive-aggressive.

        4. Laura*

          Agreed. The risk of it being taken as passive-aggressive when it was genuinely meant is high, especially in print, because it _is_ used to mean “I envy you and/or I think you’re doing something you shouldn’t but I would never come out and say that” a lot.

          But it can be meant genuinely. Alas, this is where tone and context matter _a lot_. “Must be nice to have X back home” pretty much always will be taken positively, because it’s unlikely the speaker is envious that X is home, for example. “Must be nice to have so much free time” or “Must be nice to buy what you want” both generally are envious and nasty, *but* may mistakenly be said by someone who really means them (if, say, they know the person hasn’t had a lot of free time, or has been stretching money and now has a job that is paying them much better).

          And they’ll probably be taken wrong if done in written word without a lot of framing, of course. Verbally, tone can do a lot to make the intent clear.

    14. Nervous Accountant*

      That’s funny, I’ve always heard it in the context of having kids vs being childfree.

    15. Anon*

      There is one situation in which these comments are okay – the person has already expressed to you that they do have a lot of free time and this is something they’re happy about.

      It’s not okay if you’re estimating how much free time someone has based on the activities they post on facebook, whether they have children or a spouse, etc.

  5. Ann Furthermore*

    My husband took my 5 year old to his mom’s cabin for the night. I have a whole 24 hours all to myself. Heavenly.

    1. Cath in Canada*

      Awesome – enjoy!

      My husband’s playing golf not once but twice this long weekend. He’s apologized and promised to “make it up to me” – so of course I didn’t tell him that I’m relishing the opportunity to catch up on long-overdue emails to friends and do some other writing while listening to music rather than having the TV on “for background”.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I’m working on cross-stitched Christmas stockings for my daughters. I’m having a lovely quiet day. Isn’t alone time fantastic??

        Tomorrow I’m going to throw some pork into the crock pot so I don’t have to worry about dinner. We are in the misdt of a kitchen remodel so I can’t do any cooking with the stove. Hubby will be laying tile when he gets back tomorrow. Cabinets are being delivered on Tuesday.

    2. C Average*

      Congratulations! Enjoy. I’m home alone this weekend, too. It’s wonderful. I’m watching Law & Order with my cat and binging on AAM.

  6. Clerica*

    My landlord is driving me up the wall lately. She knows I work like a dog 7 days a week and like to spend my rare free time alone, but she’s always texting or calling (leaving 4-5 minute messages) about cooking out or going to a concert two towns over that starts at my bedtime or some other thing. She knows what time I go to bed and almost always manages to text me at least half an hour after that, waking me up. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I’m thinking I need to lay it out for her before she catches me at a really bad moment (like last night when I had to be at my second job at 2 a.m. and she texted me at 9 about the concert I’d already said I wasn’t going to) and I just go ape. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so inept at picking up on social cues.

    1. Jamie*

      Is it about official stuff, or just to chat? Because if it’s official I wouldn’t want to piss off my landlord – but if it’s social what the hell?

      Sometimes my daughter will forget that when I’m at work I’m not sitting there with nothing to do waiting for her to email or text me, so if I don’t answer right away she blows up both until I answer… Working on this one, but some people are blind to other people’s schedules and what they have going on.

      1. Clerica*

        Occasionally it’s something to do with the house but never anything urgent (she’s one of those people for whom everything is urgent). More often it’s like a 9 p.m. text that there’s cake in the garage fridge or some long message about an activity she wants me to do with her. It’s also an issue because I hate the phone and only have a pay as you go plan and she’s been using up a ton of my minutes these last couple months so I have to limit the texts to the friends I actually want to talk to.

        1. Jamie*

          That’s awful, and landlords are in the category of bosses where there os a power differential so you don’t want to offend her.

          Can you explain to her you’d prefer email because you pay for texts – then you can read and reply when you feel like reading email. So many people have unlimited texting a lot of people forget that some don’t. I’ve forgotten this myself when one of my kids had a to go plan since he doesn’t use it much. But in that case I just apologized and paid for the overages – but mentioning it to her could be the solution because odds are she has no idea it costs you per text.

          1. Clerica*

            I’m drafting an email (she claimed in a recent text not to have mine even though I know she does) and trying to tell her I’ve been having trouble with being woken up lately and that I’d prefer just to get emails unless something is really urgent. I’m getting better at erring on the side of being nice even when I’m ready to snap, lol.

            1. krisl*

              “erring on the side of being nice even when I’m ready to snap,” can also be a great job skill.

            2. Windchime*

              I turn off my ringer and text sounds when I go to bed. That way, I don’t get woken up at 2 AM by an email from Eddie Bauer or a text from my nutty relative that keeps weird hours. If there was a reason I needed to keep the ringer on (family in the hospital or something), then I would be tempted to assign a text notification sound of “silent” to the landlady.

              1. Anon for Work Details*

                I do this, also – my phone actually has a “nighttime” or “sleep” setting that turns the ringer and notifications off based on certain settings, e.g. “when the phone is plugged into the charger between X p.m. and Y a.m.,” and has exceptions (always rings) for designated numbers.

            3. Observer*

              You may also want to set your text notifications to silent (at least for after bedtime, etc.) Then, when she says “I sent you a text last night” you can honestly say you didn’t realize, since it was after bed time. It keeps you from being woken up. Also, she might stop texting you so much, as she won’t get the response she’s after.

    2. Artemesia*

      it is useful to have a huge wall of privacy between one’s self and one’s land lord and one’s neighbors for that matter. you probably need to be blunter than you have been here and probably need to not have the phone where it wakes you up (unless you need to be ‘on call’)

      perhaps it is time to do NO socializing with the landlord at all and rebuild that wall of privacy.

      1. Clerica*

        I never have done anything with her, which makes it strange that she’d keep trying. She’s not a mean person or anything, just kind of thick and thoughtless. I think I’ll try again to let her know that I’m just too busy to do anything. (The problem is you run into that situation like in the thread above where the one time you have a day to watch TV, people assume you’ve been lying about being busy).

        1. stellanor*

          I wish people would just not audit other people’s level of busy. Having a sufficient amount of alone time/downtime to maintain my mental health is also a necessary part of my schedule.

          1. Clerica*

            Lol, audit. That’s what it feels like sometimes, like you have to provide receipts and lose points for a legitimate expense because you forgot to initial in one place on page 9.

        2. Artemesia*

          If you want to spend your day off painting and repainting your toenails all day, it is your business. I really dislike the idea that you ever need to justify your life to casual acquaintances. Yes your husband and children have some right to make calls on your time — but few other people do. Certainly a landlord or acquaintance doesn’t need a reason for you to not join them for something. ‘Oh that is just so sweet of you to ask, but I won’t be able to do that.’ is all you need. ‘I’m busy’ is not necessary — your life is not up for other people’s monitoring.

      2. De Minimis*

        I had a really bad experience renting, and since then I’ve decided I will never rent a property again where the landlord lives on the premises. It’s really hard to get privacy, and if it’s a terrible landlord it becomes a nightmare really fast.

    3. Student*

      Many phones have an option to turn off text alerts automatically from time A to time B.

      If your phone doesn’t have this option, then just turn off your text alerts right before you go to bed, and turn them on when you wake up.

      1. Melissa*

        I have to investigate this on my phone, because one of my pet peeves is people who text me past about 11:30 at night.

    4. Anon*

      Can you set your phone not to make a noise when she texts you? iPhones have a Do Not Disturb setting where you can put certain numbers on the list to ring audibly but keep all other numbers silent. I’m sure other phones have something similar. Even my ancient flip phones let me customize rings for people and one of the options was always “silent.”

    5. Anonymous*

      I had a toxic landlady in the last place I lived. The red flags started before we moved in, but seldom are these noticed until it becomes a pattern.

      She was constantly sending lengthy emails telling me I need to do this or that to the yard or to make sure not to use the dryer because it was more environmentally to use the clothesline, or to be sure to lock my bikes up in the front not the back. I’m summarizing a very long story by saying that I think she had deep emotional ties to the house (her former home with her philandering ex-husband), and had a hard time accepting that this was now her business property.

      I consulted with our local Landlord-Tenant office. The agent advised me to send a certified letter mentioning things like my right to “quiet enjoyment”. I encourage you to read up on your state’s landlord-tenant laws, document everything that happens, establish very clear boundaries, and consult an attorney if necessary.

      Your landlady doesn’t sound anywhere near as cray-cray as mine was, but this is a business relationship and she is extremely presumption to push a social relationship.

      I ended up having to sue my landlady in small-claims court for my deposit money back. (The total was around $3000. She tried to keep $1800 of that). The judge followed our sketchy lease agreement and still saw fit to give most of that back to me.

  7. Noah*

    So, moving sucks. I’m starting to pack and I didn’t realize I had so much stuff until I started putting it all into boxes. I’m not looking forward to the process at all. I get my new place on Sep 15th and have to be out of my current place by the 20th. Worst part is that I’m leaving for a business trip on Sep 20th and won’t be back until Oct 1st. Ugh, not looking forward to coming home to a half unpacked place at all.

    On the positive side, I’m really looking forward to the new place. Great location, brand new kitchen, and fun neighbors that I met yesterday.

    1. Trixie*

      Moving can be exciting when you think about starting a new phase. Personally, I love organizing and making a new place cozy. You’re in an especially enviable position because you can start moving things in early, rather than having to be out of Old Place before you can start moving into New Place. Packing does take time but unless you’re moving long distance, doesn’t need to be as bombproof and therefore more loosely packed. I would identify boxes as you go so movers or friends can deliver straight to their destination. I wouldn’t worry about unpacking everything right away but you can start thing about what you’ll available to get you through. So maybe the kitchen gets more attention, and bathroom. The focus will be more on making sure Old Place is deposit-return ready, and just take your time making your way through boxes after your trip. The whole thing is really only as stressful as you make it, or don’t make it :)

      1. Noah*

        Agreed to a point. I would just rather it magically transport itself to the new place. I planned the overlap on purpose, I’m never attempting to move out and in on the same day again if I can help it. Having a few days and the ability to clean the old place when it is totally empty is something I think will make the process easier.

        I have movers coming on the 16th, and its a local move, just a few miles away. I’m moving the easily breakable stuff over myself on the 15th, leaving just the heavy stuff for them. $149 (plus tip) is definitely worth having the professionals do the heavy lifting and get it done in a few hours. I’m sure I could round up a few friends, rent a truck, and take all day because I live in a second story apartment and am moving to a third story one.

        As I work on packing things today I am finding lot of items that are going to the giveaway pile. So, moving is good for organizing and reducing clutter, at least for me. Maybe I should just move once a year and take advantage of the apartment move-in incentives each time.

    2. nep*

      Good luck to you. It always seems just about impossible until it’s done. And you will get it done. Breathe. You’ll get to the other side. Enjoy your new place.

  8. Cool Beans*

    Follow up to my question above: NYCers, where are the best places to look for apartments? Are realtors worth it?

    Thank you, everyone!

    1. Steve G*

      Do you mean which neighborhoods are best or which realtor/websites to use?

      Haven’t known anyone who needed a realtor, I think that is only for higher income people who have big demands from their future apartment, btw.

        1. Steve G*

          Not to be unoriginal, but I’ve found every place I’ve had on craigslist. The listings are so all encompassing, anytime I saw an apt somewhere else it was on craigslist anyway.

          As per neighborhoods, I got in trouble a few weeks ago for telling someone here they need to make $65K to afford NYC. Many people said that that was a lot of $$$ and you can live on a lot less here. At the same time, I was at a party recently with people who made in the high $100s -$200k range, and they must think that my lifestyle is ghetto….so: it would help to know your age range and roughly how much you can afford and generally what type of person you are (do you have to be somewhere hip and happening, do you wants good bars/restaurants down the street, would you care being somewhat far outside Manhattan?) in order to name which place would suit you best…..

          1. Cool Beans*

            Thanks for the tip! I’m actually in Brooklyn right now so I don’t mind not being in Manhattan. Taking into account that I don’t make $65K, I think $1100 would be my max.

            1. Steve G*

              Oh so you are already here. Not sure if you want to live alone or not, but I know people that have found apartments in that price range in BayRidge + Bensonhurst still…..though they wont be that cheap for long. Also, if you don’t mind having a roommate, I think Astoria is really cool, and cheap for what you get. Of course if you could pay $200 more per month you could get a studio in Astoria or Forest Hills. I also like the north/west Bushwick – Ridgewood – Glendale area. Some dumpy streets, but close to Manhattan, and a lot of nice buildings and nice streets as well, and a lot of good bars/restaurants, especially on the Bushwick/Williamsburg border….but rents there have gotten really high. I also heard rumors that Jackson Heights has been up and coming for years. I only remember it in the 90s when it was not good….but the rumors must be coming from somewhere, so I’d check that area out as well.

                1. Steve G*

                  Good luck! I am happy w/ my current apartment and feel I get good bang for the buck so always love to hear when other people get in the same situation!

                  FYI my sister got a huge $1100 2 bedroom apartment in bensenhurst in 2010 because the old couple downstairs care more about getting a nice tenant than the rent income. Not that such situations grow on trees, but hope you get something good.

          2. Nervous Accountant*

            I think I remember that convo. Dunno about the $65 K…but whenever I’ve searched all landlords want you to be earning a MINIMUM of 40X the monthly rent. So for a $1000/mo apartment, you should be making 40K a year minimum……

            Lived in one apt for 3 years, never late with rent, EVER, never even had to contact them about a single thing. Rarely ever called the super with any problems. Left the apt in such good condition that we received the full security deposit back. Cut to when we were searching again, all the brokers said future landlords don’t give a shit about that stuff, they won’t care about references etc. Go figure.

            1. Melissa*

              A lot of landlords say that but don’t actually hold you to it, especially depending on what neighborhood you’re living in. Or you can get a guarantor. My roommate and I went in on a $1800/month apartment together and we definitely weren’t making $72K combined, nor were our parents making $144K combined (80x the rent or what they say guarantors should make). But we paid an extra month’s security deposit and used them as guarantors and it worked out fine. And after 2 years in the place they allowed me to release my guarantors.

              In a lot of neighborhoods, too, a lot of landlords realize that it’s fruitless to require 40x the rent. I lived in Washington Heights, a predominantly low-income neighborhood. They can’t really require 40x the rent everywhere, or they’d have no tenants.

    2. Newsie*

      Seconding Craigslist! Also, this sounds SO silly, but my best roommate EVER and I would walk in the neighborhood we were looking and just call management companies in that area. (A lot of buildings would have their management company numbers up)

      Realtors are only worth it if you have very little time to move and enough money to cover it, or your company is paying for the move, in my opinion.

    3. Nervous Accountant*

      Do you all mean realtors or brokers? Because I’ve been renting on and off for about 5 years now and I find it nearly impossible to get an apartment without the help of a broker. It’s nice finding a good one and I have no problem paying a good one…..but for every 5-6 brokers, 1 will turn out to be good. The rest of them are absolutely useless. They’ll meet you an hour or two late, and by the time they show up say the apartment is gone…then they’ll shwo you something WAY out of your price range. I once had one show me a roach-infested apartment in Brooklyn for $1400/mo and he shrugged and said “that’s what you can get for your budget.” I don’t mind having to pay a broker, but not the scumbags like the one above.

      As for walking around neighborhoods and calling mgmt companies….I just might try that next time I try to rent. When I first started searching in 2009 I remember someone (a non-NY-er) suggesting going into every building and speak to the super about any openings. I tried that a few times and the supers were so nasty that I nearly left in tears. (I was also really timid, new, and sensitive).

      Dunno about outside of NYC but I hate that finding an apartment was as hard as finding a job.

    4. Turanga Leela*

      I know people who lived in Inwood (far northern Manhattan) and loved it. It’s a long commute from midtown and lower Manhattan, but it’s quiet, inexpensive, and on both the A and 1 lines. It just depends on where you usually need to get to. $1100 will get you a nice studio or one-bed. Up there, realtors are helpful but not necessary—most buildings post signs about vacancies.

      1. Melissa*

        I lived in Washington Heights which is just south of Inwood, and I loved it. Inwood is very pretty! Lots of parks and less expensive grocery stores. And the commute to midtown isn’t that long – not that much longer than from parts of Brooklyn. The A train from 175th St to 34th St took me 40 minutes.

    5. Melissa*

      I third the recommendation of Craigslist; a couple of my apartments are found on there.

      I know you said you wanted a place of your own – but did you just mean not living with your parents, or did you mean you want a studio or one-bedroom? Because if you don’t mind roommates, on CL you can often find people renting out their second/third/fourth bedroom without having to go into a lease and pony up three months’ worth of rent up front. A lot of time the common areas are also already furnished, so you just have to furnish your own room.

      But if you are looking for your own place, I second the recommendation of Inwood and add Washington Heights to that; I really liked living in Wash Heights. There are places of West and Central Harlem where you can get a nice studio or one-bedroom apartment relatively inexpensively. I also have a friend who just moved to Astoria and I love her neighborhood! Sunnyside and Long Island City are also pretty nice neighborhoods with decent prices that are still close to Manhattan.

  9. Gene*

    Who here would like a way to meet and/or communicate outside the comment pane with other AAM commenters? I’m not sure how this could be accomplished without a (probably unreasonable) amount of work for Alison, but I have an idea or two wandering around in my head.


    1. Jamie*

      You lose anonymity, but there is the. Linkedin group – there have been a couple of meet ups so far. I know NYC went first and Chicago, not to be out done, did one and a few of us met up for pizza in Alison’s honor.

      We even brought her with us in spirit – but laminated paper Alison with binder clip feet didn’t eat much.

      1. Gene*

        Guess I’ll have to open up my Linkedin. :-) Set it up in the early days to protect my name, never used it for anything.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        We should try and squeeze one more in before the weather turns crappy! (I admit I have not been keeping up with the group.)

    2. Winkytink*

      I’ve registered an IRC channel and am willing to manage it if anyone is interested. For those who aren’t familiar with IRC, it’s a chat room. The Kiwi client works really well over mobile as well as browser. I’ve used IRC plenty but never as a channel op, so I’m learning as I go, but it’s up and running right now if anyone wants to check it out. If Alison is interested I can make her a channel owner/op as well so she can maintain a presence there, or it can just be our little unofficial gathering place.

      Check it out here: https://kiwiirc.com/client/irc.rizon.net/askamanager

      1. Jen RO*

        This sounds great! Although it would probably be pretty lonely during my European working hours…

        1. Winkytink*

          You might be surprised, there’s a lot of people here! Regardless, it’ll always be open. Maybe I’ll make another post about it in next weekend’s open thread.

    3. Windchime*

      I would probably be interested. I’m pretty sure that you and I (Gene) are in the same neighborhood and I think there are a couple others around here as well.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I think it would be cool to meet you, Windchime. I think we have a lot in common: I do database stuff and crystal reports. But you’re Western WA and I’m Eastern, so I don’t know if I could get to a meetup or not, because I’m sure it would be Seattle or Portland. I’d at least like to know about it.

    4. Jean*

      Is anyone else interested in having a gathering in Metro DC? I’m posting this super-duper late after being out of town all day without access to email.

  10. Mimmy*

    Started my online class on Thursday. At first I was getting all confused with the layout, timeline, etc, but now I’m getting the hang of it. Our professor seems to be a bit scattered as there was some minor confusion on a few things, but he’ll be hosting live online video chats, so I think that’ll be really helpful. My classmates all seem really awesome too.

    Any tips for doing the readings? A lot of what I’ll be reading are pdf files (saves on trees and allows me to zoom the page!) or in e-reader format. We’re expected to respond to discussion board posts about the readings, which is new for me. Oh sure I did my readings in my other grad program, but not all of them were discussed in class and I didn’t always say very much during discussion. Hehe, can’t fly under the radar this time!

    1. Jamie*

      I did a couple of online classes and was weirded out about the discussion requirement, too – I’m not a big participator normally (present forum excepted – ha) but it’s not bad because it’s just about whatever topic – not personal banter or anything.

      I liked the whole online thing – I wouldn’t have back when I was in school full time as a kid as I was there for the whole college experience outside of class, too…but as a working adult I thought it was amazing I could do it and get the material without having to physically go to class.

      My second class I missed an A by .8 point – seriously, still annoys me and I was just doing it for the content and my gpa didn’t matter…lol. I’m not healthy.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      Almost all of my classes right now are hybrid – we meet F2F every other week and then have an online component (usually a discussion board) the alternate weeks. Some of my professors have been more organized about the DB format than others – the really good ones have one or more clear questions that need to be responded to by every student by Date X, and then you are also expected to make a “thoughtful reply” on one other student’s comment by Date Y.

  11. Miss Anonymous*

    I’m wondering if anyone has any thoughts on a problem I have? This is kind of weird, but it’s to do with stories basically. I read non-fiction books fine, but I haven’t been able to read a whole fiction book in the last few years.

    That’s because I can’t read a book once through like normal; I have to read everything from the perspective of all the characters I find interesting, (which is most of them). For example, if a story is being told from the point of view of the protagonist, I will first read a chapter (or part of one) from their perspective. However, if that protagonist interacts with one or more other interesting characters in that chapter, I can’t move on without going back and re-reading it from the perspective of each of those characters, one at a time. Thinking about their thoughts and emotions, how they see the situation, how they’re relating to the other characters, etc. And sometimes once isn’t enough. Like, I’ll read the same paragraph or page from the same character’s perspective over and over again, because I don’t feel like I’ve fully understood all the nuances of that perspective yet.

    But sometimes over and over again isn’t enough either. I want to read on but I feel like I’m missing something and I can feel my stress rising, and then I just put the book away and go do something else. Sometimes I’ll go back to it hours later and try and work through, but it’s not long before I hit another roadblock fifty pages later, so more often than not I just never pick up the book again. This has been happening for the past few years.

    To be clear, this isn’t generally something I’m TOO concerned about, particularly as I don’t have all that much time for reading and TV anyway, but I do miss being able to enjoy books like a normal person. I’ve never talked to anyone about this before because it’s kind of weird and I’m generally not a sharer. (This doesn’t count because it’s the internet and I’m anonymous.) But Google has failed me on this one and I guess I just wanted to float it here, and see if anyone could offer any insight / thoughts?

    1. stellanor*

      The rising stress if you don’t read it “right” almost sounds like an anxiety disorder or OCD thing to me. Do you have similar problems or rituals re: other issues?

      1. Kerr*

        Speaking from personal experience, this sounds like it could be a symptom of OCD to me, too. Not the re-reading from different perspectives part, but the fact that you feel like you must read it “right” and 100% thoroughly, and feel distressed if you don’t. This person’s experience sounds a little different, but similar:

        (The good news: if it is a symptom of OCD, it’s amazingly treatable.)

      2. Miss Anonymous*

        Yes I do. I’ve actually researched OCD quite a bit because I thought I might have it. I compulsively make and recite lists in my head and always have. It’s not lots of small lists though. I’ve only ever had like 3 lists and they’re all big lists of people. For example, I used to watch this reality TV show and my main list at the moment is all the contestants who’ve ever been on that show. I have an ordered list of their names in my head, and I can tell you all of their ages, hometowns and an adjective I’ve assigned to each that describes them. No two are allowed to have the same adjective. This list has never been written down; it’s just in my head – a couple of hundred people across several countries, and I keep adding to it whenever a country makes a new season. I don’t even really watch the show anymore because I don’t have time; I just memorise contestants off Wikipedia whenever there’s a new season out. (It doesn’t matter if the assigned adjective actually describes them or not – they just have to have one.)

        I find myself reciting this list in my head over and over, pretty much whenever I’m not doing something that requires mental concentration. I don’t just recite it though; I make up like a little scene in my head which utilises one of the things I know about all the people on my list. (For example, somebody asking one of these people how old they are and them responding.) And then I run that scene in my head for all 200 or so people on the list. And when I get to the end I start again with a new scene about a new feature. (Obviously this is time-consuming but it’s fine if I have to stop halfway through. I don’t feel compelled to finish or anything.) I do this, I think probably every day, and sometimes it’s not like a conscious choice, like sometimes I’ve already started down the list before I even realise what I’m doing – my mind just goes there.

        So I thought this sounds exactly like OCD, hence the research. But apparently OCD is more complicated than that – it’s about having obsessive and unwanted thoughts / impulses / desires in your head first. Then you engage in the compulsions in order to stop the obsessive thoughts. I don’t have any obsessive or unwanted thoughts / desires. My compulsions aren’t in response to or fending off anything – they’re just always there.

        1. Miss Anonymous*

          Again, as with the reading thing, I know this makes me sound kind of nuts, but it doesn’t actually impair my life that much. I’m a totally normal functioning person, (or I would even say higher than normal functioning). I just do weird stuff in my head.

          1. De Minimis*

            I’ve done that kind of stuff in the past—I think as long as it’s not interfering with your life there is nothing wrong with it.

            For me it was lists of numbers and sometimes names or phrases.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Well, the presentation of OCD can vary — some people experience lots and lots of obsessive symptoms (the unwanted thoughts you’re talking about) and relatively few compulsive symptoms, or vice versa. I never experienced intrusive thoughts until I was a teenager, and I was never conscious of a connection between the intrusive thoughts and the compulsions (that is, I never had a coherent thought process like “If I step on the same number of blue floor tiles with my left foot as with my right, then I won’t accidentally stab anyone with my scissors” — I just had an obsessive fear of accidentally stabbing someone, and, unrelatedly, escalating anxiety if I didn’t step on the same number of blue tiles with both feet). It sounds like your rituals aren’t really bothering you or disrupting your life that much, so I’m not going to say “OMG GO TO A THERAPIST IMMEDIATELY” or anything, but I do think you should know that, if they are bothering you, this does sound a lot like OCD and a therapist could probably help. I found cognitive behavioral therapy especially helpful in breaking away from the compulsive behaviors that bothered me (checking locks over and over, UGH) — but even then, there are some compulsions, like counting the stairs as I walk up them, that I never bothered trying to extinguish because they just aren’t that intrusive.

          1. stellanor*

            I’m currently doing cognitive behavioral therapy to deal with my anxiety disorder. It’s fairly well controlled due to medication and past therapy, but there are some lingering bits that bother me (e.g. I have incredibly intense anxiety about owning a pet. I love pets and want to be able to have one without also having constant panic attacks).

            I’m also very high-functioning. I have a good job in the field of my choice, and it can be very high-stress, but I do fine at work. I have good relationships. I can do most normal-people stuff. But it was bothering me so I decided to go do something about it.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      That does sound frustrating. It’s not something I do myself – I’m more the “read as fast as possible to find out what happens next” type – so I don’t know how helpful this would be, but could you try reading a short novel all the way through, promising yourself as you go that you’ll go back and re-read from other characters’ perspectives once you’ve finished? You’d still get all the perspectives, just with a delay. And once you know the full story, you might be able to be more selective about which chapters/characters you re-read.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Further thought: I wonder if starting with a book where you already know the story, e.g. from a movie adaptation, would help you read all the way through? Or would that make it worse?

    3. danr*

      There’s no ‘right or wrong’ way to read a book, except not to read it. [grin]. Try this. Find a short novel and tell yourself that you’re experimenting and will read it more than one time. The first read through is fast. Try not to stop. When you’ve finished the book, go back and re-read your way. I think you’ll have more enjoyment from it. You’ll know the whole story and where everyone fits into it. On the second, third, fourth….etc. reads, you’ll skip around, but have a framework to hang onto.
      My own reading style is very fast the first time through, then an immediate re-read at a slightly slower pace. Good luck .

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I like this. My mom thinks I’m crazy because I love re-reading books, but I really enjoy having the “plot” out of the way so that I can focus on the subplots and quieter nuances. I’m re-reading the entire J.D. Robb “In Death” series (30+ titles) right now just to soak up the way the relationships develop between the characters over multiple years of storyline.

        1. CC*

          I am firmly of the opinion that books which are better the second time through are better written. If knowing the ending spoils it so it’s no good to read, then it’s not all that great. If knowing the ending means that on second read you can see all the foreshadowing and hints that you missed the first time because you didn’t know what it meant and thought it was just a bit of description.

          1. Anonymous*

            I agree. I love re-reading books. If it’s not interesting the second time, then it probably wasn’t really that great in the first place.

    4. Waiting Patiently*

      Oh gosh, this sounds like me. You describe exactly how I approach reading books. For me, I know I get bored quickly and if its too predictable I skip ahead, which can cause problems if I miss an important part. This could be Adult ADD. I don’t like watching movies, most movies bore the crap out of me. Also, I tend to read magazines back to front and in between…whatever catches my attention. A lot of times this goes undiagnosed because there is no hyper – activity.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        Or I feel I should say the hyperactivity isn’t readily visible. I think there is always hyperactivity just a difference in its display like “hyperfocus”. I do this sometimes just to get through a task.

    5. Fucshia*

      Have you tried books with fewer characters? I’m thinking something like Hatchet might be a good way to start getting into the practice of reading through longer sections.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      You read like an English teacher. This is how English teachers think. You could have a lot of fun reading Shakespear.

    7. Manda*

      I can read non-fiction yet I find myself unable to read fiction presently; in my case I think it’s a reaction to stress – I also avoid graphic news stories and soaps on TV and the radio. Similarly to you, I find that I feel too much empathy with the protagonists in novels and therefore reading becomes an extra stressor rather than a release.

    1. Jamie*

      Me too, it’s great.

      I need to play with my browser settings on the computer, though, because on mobile it’s great – but since the change on my PC (Firefox) the font is tiny and in the middle of the screen and tons of white space on either side. No issue with other sites – and since no one else mentioned it must just be me – but I haven’t had time to mess with my settings.

  12. Jamie*

    Anyone out there wear contacts with astigmatism? I’ve never worn them because when I was a kid they weren’t available for astigmatism – now that I need a different prescription for reading and distance I was wondering if I could get contacts to correct the distance thing – then a script for reading glasses with the contacts in. I know the reading glasses then wouldn’t work without contacts – but I have my old glasses for that.

    I know the contacts for astigmatism are different than normal ones – are they harder? Do they hurt?

    The other option is bifocals which I don’t want because I don’t think I’ll be able to adjust to looking through a certain part of the lens for driving. This isn’t 1988 – I can’t wear giant Julia Sugarbaker frames…so a normal frame leaves a small section for each and I don’t think I’ll get the hang of that. I’d rather just correct my distance to normal and wear reading glasses.

    I go without my glasses a lot (except for driving) – one eye is like 20/70 and the other is like 20/200 or something weird – but I just hit the wall this week where I found the first thing I couldn’t squint my way to vision in my good eye.

    Advice from anyone with astigmatism contacts would be awesome. I have an appointment next week.

    1. Noah*

      My mom has multifocal contacts and she loves them. She tried the monovision thing, one eye for distance one for closeup, and had trouble getting used to it. I know she has astigmatism but I don’t think it is a very bad case at all so I’m not sure if she has the toric lenses that correct for it or not. I do remember her saying the lenses were not as comfortable as the Air Optix ones she was wearing previously.

      You can totally get a script for contacts+reading glasses though. Just explain to your optometrist what you’re trying to do. I have a set of computer glasses with anti-glare coating and a slight prescription that I wear over my contacts when I’m doing a lot of computer work. They are supposed to help with eye strain, at least that’s what the optometrist told me.

    2. Trixie*

      My mother uses Biofinity contacts during the day (with reading glasses when needed) and then takes them out as soon as she gets home to give her eyes a rest. I think she used to use Oasis but found Biofinity’s monthly contacts to be more comfortable and while not cheap, we found the best price by far at Costco for either brand. I think $50 per eyes for a six month supply so $100 total for 6 pairs. And when she wears glasses at night, we were able to purchase a few pairs from Zenni even though her script is complicated to say the least. Her lenses were thicker than I expected but far of that is my fault for not going with rimmed frames.

    3. Colette*

      I have astigmatism and tried contacts many years ago, and they didn’t work for me – but not because of the prescription. I found that some days they were great, and others they would instantly irritate my eyes, which would last for a entire day, even if I took the contacts out immediately.

    4. QualityControlFreak*

      Don’t know if this helps but I wear multifocal lenses. I have astigmatism, but it’s actually decreased since I started wearing these contacts. They are a bit larger and heavier feeling than regular lenses (I wear rigid gas permeable lenses) but that may also be my particular prescription – and you don’t have to adjust your viewing angle to look through a certain part of the lens as you do with multifocal glasses. I have both, and the glasses are definitely harder to adjust to, vision-wise. Hope this is some help.

      1. Jamie*

        All of you have such great info thanks – and now I’m fascinated by how multifocal lenses work because that’s pretty incredible technology.

        I’m a little concerned about irritation since I have dry eyes (at work only) and I’m really a baby about being uncomfortable. I think I’ll give lenses a try, hopefully they’ll be workable for me. I just have to get over the mild squick factor of touching my eye.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          I’ve been wearing contacts for decades, and I don’t have dry eyes, but I do stare at computer screens a lot and my eyes are tired by the end of the day. Ask your doctor about ensuring your eyes stay lubricated. Mine recommended a specific drop which is concentrated and works well. Good luck.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          You get used to it, really. My eye doctor makes people practice when they get contacts. They teach you how to do it right. Just don’t fall asleep with them in–it’s hard to get them out again.

        3. Aunt Vixen*

          My mom wears toric lenses for her astigmatism. My own astigmatism is so slight that I have the correction in my glasses, where it’s fine, but I don’t bother with it in my contacts because the correction makes me a little dizzier than I like. (So I guess my peripheral vision with my contacts in is a little fuzzy. I’m fine with it. :-})

          Uncle Vixen had laser eye surgery about fifteen years ago and came out with perfect vision but very dry eyes. He carries a wee bottle of lubricating eye drops (fancy artificial tears) everywhere he goes.

        4. Bea W*

          The squick factor is the reason I don’t wear contacts. It’s not mild to me. I couldn’t even use eyeliner until I was well into my 20s.

        5. V. Meadowsweet*

          my eye doctor recommended an Omega 3-6-9 supplement if I was going to wear contacts – it was for thin tears, but I’ve definitely noticed my eyes are drier on days when I’ve forgotten to take it the day before.

    5. Graythan*

      Actually for years (decades) I could never successfully wear contacts because of the astigmatism, plus apparently I have a particularly steeply sloping eye (according to my doc, anyway). Nothing fit well enough to feel like anything put a piece of plastic in my eye. But the ones I’ve been wearing for the last 2 years (CooperVision Biofinity) are really great. Totally comfortable, which I never had before. I’m due to see the doc again for a refit and a refill, so we’ll see if I end up with the same type or something new, but comfie lenses definitely exist. I can wear these for about a week at a time as long as I put in drops before bedtime and when I get up. I do end up using reading glasses too, but not prescription. Just the magnifiers that you can buy at the drug stores and so forth.

    6. CC*

      I have worn astigmatism correction contacts in the past. You can get soft ones (I did) but as I recall they were about 1/2mm bigger than the non-astigmatism ones I’d been using before. (This may have changed since then.) They’re weighted to keep them upright, so if you lie down on your side the correction becomes exactly wrong.

      I stopped wearing contacts regularly when I had to work with chemicals regularly. Bad combination.

      You get used to bifocals remarkably quickly, though if you’re using particularly small lenses it might be trickier. If they’re set up properly, looking straight ahead in your normal way should have you looking through the distance lens prescription.

    7. Mimmy*

      I think my husband has special contacts for astigmatism. I forget the brand, but they are 30-day types. I don’t think they’re multi-focal though. He’s been wearing them for years with pretty much no problems.

    8. Gene*

      I could never wear contacts because of my (relatively – -2.5) high astigmatism. When the soft ones finally came out I went with them. Finally switched back to glasses with progressive lenses when needing readers became too much of a hassle. I had glasses EVERYWHERE; readers next to my chair, on my desk at work, in the console in the car in case I needed to read a map or something, safety glasses for work, safety glasses with reader lenses, sunglasses, sunglasses with stick on readers, you get the idea.

      As someone else mentioned, they are weighted, so working under the dash of a car, or on your back or side, they roll and everything becomes blurry.

      I say go for it, you’ll never know if you never try.

    9. class factotum*

      I have astigmatism and I now have bifocals. They are the kind without lines and they are fine. They are good for driving because I can see where I am going and how fast I am going at the same time. It did not take that long to get used to them and it’s nice to not have to remove my glasses to check my speed.

    10. Diet Coke Addict*

      Oh! I have fairly bad astigmatism, and I have hard gas-perm contacts. I love them! I want to convert you!

      Gas-permeable contacts are hard plastic and very small–they only cover up to the iris over your eye. They are pretty old school and were popular in the 70s and 80s, but they are way more comfortable than they were then! Honestly, they are incredible comfortable to me. My husband wears soft contacts and his bother him wayyyy more than mine ever bother me. When they’re in, I can’t even feel them–I don’t have problems with dry-eye, you can’t put them in inside out, etc.

      There is an adjustment period–they’re a little painful to wear right at first. I had to work up by wearing them a couple hours a day, then a few more hours the next. Now I have zero issues and I can wear them all day. You aren’t supposed to sleep in them, though I do nap in them, and as long as you can avoid rubbing your eyes, no issues. And they are incredibly cost-effective. I’m on my second pair in the ten years I’ve been wearing them, and the first pair was only replaced because I lost one like eight years ago–they were something like $300 a pair, but overall I spend about 20% of what my husband spends on contacts and eye stuff. You care for them by rinsing them with special soap and water.

      If you’re in the Chicago suburbs and don’t mind a trip up to the NW burbs I have an absolutely fantastic opthamologist who’s a big fan of gas perms. The best thing about them is that they actually help to maintain your vision and prevent it from getting worse–by wearing the contacts every day it helps your eye retain its shape rather than slowly losing its shape. My terrible eyes have not gotten any worse since I started wearing them 13 years ago, which is excellent. I love them. I wouldn’t ever want to switch to soft contacts ever again.

      1. Nodumbunny*

        This is what I wear too (have for years and years), and I too love them. One of my daughters just got a toric soft lens for her one eye that has astigmatism (and a regular lens for the other eye) and seems to not notice the difference. BTW , I have mono vision glasses and contacts (one eye close, one eye far) and I was able to get used to it within five minutes.

      2. Bea W*

        Those are what both my mother and sister have been wearing since the 80s too. My sister’s vision actually improved a little bit after she started wearing them. It was an added bonus.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I had contacts for distance, but they drove me insane because I had to wear reading glasses for EVERYTHING. Hello, the reason I have contacts is so I don’t have to wear glasses all the time!

      I went back to the doctor and got multifocal contacts and I love them. I can see my computer screen and the TV. :) The reading glasses are still around, and I use magnifiers with my actual glasses when reading, but I only wear those to read in bed anyway.

    12. Treena Kravm*

      I have a pretty bad astigmatism, but my contacts are very flexible and thin. They’re really annoying to put in. There are two lines opposite each other that go onto the top and bottom and I have to sort of nudge each side to figure out which side is thinner than the other, and the line with the thinner material goes on top and the line with the thicker material goes on bottom. If I get it wrong, I don’t notice till an hour or so later so it’s usually a pain to switch it. I think they’re acuvue oasis monthlies/bi-weeklies or something like that.

      In general, I don’t wear them much because they make my eyes sore after ~8 hours and I’m usually out longer than that. But that’s probably because I lost my glasses while living abroad and wore contacts every second I needed to see for 4+ months. The eye dr. was not happy with me and said I caused permanent damage.

    13. skyline*

      I do! I have moderate astigmatism in my left eye and a very slight astigmatism in my right eye other; so my optometrist only prescribed a toric contact for the left. (My glasses correct the astigmatism on both sides.) So I get to compare regular contacts daily. I wear 2-week disposable soft lenses. I would say that the toric lens tends to feel a little drier toward the end of the two weeks, but when my lenses are fresh, I don’t notice the difference at all.

      I totally did not know that toric lenses were weighted until I read this thread!

      On a side note, I held off from ordering my glasses online for a long time because I am severely nearsighted on top of my astigmatism. But I finally ordered online for the first time this year, and it was so year. Got one pair from Zenni and another from Glasses.com, and overall spent 50% of what I’d paid at a brick-and-mortar store for my previous pair. It’s nice to be able to afford a backup pair in my current prescription. Plus, having two pairs finally gave me the confidence to order one pair in a fun color. Every time I wear my red ones they make me smile.

    14. KCS*

      I have astigmatism and have worn soft contact lenses for years. I’ve been fine with them. You will definitely have to get used to them, though. The one thing I do struggle with on occasion is when the lens shifts ever so slightly. With astigmatism, the lens must be positioned a certain way, so if the wind blows something in your eye, or your eye dries out, the lens might rotate a bit, which will throw off your vision.

      I can water my eyes at will, and I usually close my eye and rub my closed eyelid over the lens to correct its position.

      That said, I love wearing contacts versus glasses. Good luck!

    15. Anonymous*

      I am very, very near-sighted, but don’t need multifocal correction (yet). I wear an astigmatism-correcting soft lens (Biofinity) in one eye. The astigmatism in my other eye is, apparently, not worth correcting.

      I LOVE my contacts. I’ve worn them for a year, after twenty+ years of glasses and a failed attempt at gas-permeable hard lenses back in ’98. My vision is much better now; with such a high correction, I had no idea how much the glasses were distorting what I saw. The toric (astigmatic) lens is weighted, but that just seems to help the lens adjust to the right place that much faster. When I was first adjusting to the new contacts, I considered asking if I could get toric lenses in both eyes. Now that I’ve been wearing my contacts for awhile, I can’t really tell the difference.

      According to my optometrist, there are a lot more options for the weirdly-sighted today than there were a decade ago. I went in asking after laser correction, and while I turned out to be a very bad candidate for that, I am really pleased with my current vision and treatment options. Good luck to you and your eyes!

    16. Bea W*

      Both my mother and sister have worn contacts since they were young. My sister was 11 or 12. Her vision is so bad she’ legally blind without correcive lens and she can’t see her hand in front of her face. They have been available for people with astigmatism for decades but only in the hard version. I don’t know if that’s still the case. They wear them all day from when the get up and take them off when they go to bed. It took a few days to get used to them but otherwise no issues with discomfort or anything. I’m sure the technology for lenses has improved too. My sister can’t comfortably wear glasses all day, but contact lenses are no problem.

      My mom did the monovision when she needed reading glasses. It took her a week to get used to it, but then it was fine. I know other people who couldn’t get used to it though. It seems about 50/50 in the people I know who’ve tried it.

    17. littlemoose*

      I have astigmatism in both eyes and have worn rigid gas permeable lenses for about 20 years (since I was 11). I do pretty well with them. I’m wondering if those plus readers, like someone else mentioned. My mom tried the bifocal lenses and didn’t do that well at first, but I think they’re better now.

    18. NZ Muse*

      Yep, I have about -6.00 vision and astigmatism. I wear monthly soft Air Optix contact lenses. Feel absolutely the same as the monthly soft contact lenses I wore before I got the astigmatism diagnosis.

    19. IT Squirrel*

      I wear them, and have been for about a year since I discovered you could get contact lenses for astigamtism (I was so excited…). For added comparison value I only have astigmatism in my one eye so have to have the special toric lens for that one, and a normal lens for my other eye.

      Mine are soft, daily disposable lenses, and the toric lens is almost identical to the normal one but is a little thicker to allow for the correction; it doesn’t feel different once in though, and I actually find it easier to put in because it doesn’t turn inside out as easily!
      I also carry a standard dry-eye spray (Optrex in the UK) to help if my eyes do start feeling tired or irritated and that helps extend my wear time without discomfort :)

    20. Sidra*

      I wear toric (for astigmatism) lenses in both eyes, and have for ~5 years. I quite like them. They aren’t as good as glasses for vision (never will be, that’s just life with astigmatism) but it’s much better than standard lenses and great for me as I HATE wearing glasses. The only downside for me is that they are more expensive. They are not uncomfortable or anything – they just feel like regular contact lenses. Take good care of them as you would any other pair.

      If you have discomfort with contact lenses, try the peroxide storage method. It’s a special case and solution, and you MUST use it correctly for it to work, but it has helped me a great deal with contact lens comfort and allergies, etc. Ask your optometrist about it, and s/he can explain how to use it.

      1. skyline*

        I switched to the peroxide method in the last year, and I like it! My allergies are very bad in the state where I currently live, and this has allowed me to keep wearing contacts about 80% of the time.

    21. Melissa*

      I have mild astigmatism in my left eye, so I tried toric lenses in my left eye for a little while to decide whether I wanted to order a full box. I had been wearing regular disposable soft contact lenses for years by then, but the astigmatism had gotten a little worse and made it harder to see through my left eye without toric. I didn’t like them. The toric did significantly improve the vision in my left eye, and the toric lens wasn’t significantly harder, nor did it feel any differently in my eye (I use Acuvue Oaysis; left eye is -2.75 and right eye is -3.75). It doesn’t hurt or itch or bother you; if you can wear regular contact lenses, you can wear toric lenses.

      But the toric lenses are heavier and that means that it was harder to get in and out of my eye. I used to wear contact lenses so regularly that now I can pull them out of my eyes with one hand without a mirror pretty much anywhere, but that stupid toric lens – I remember one night it took me 30 minutes to get the lens out of my left eye, in front of a mirror, sitting at home in my bathroom because it is so heavy that it adheres differently to your eye.

      I’m sure that over time I would’ve learned the technique and the difference and been able to get them out faster. But I don’t wear contacts as frequently anymore, so I decided not to spend the extra money and frustration and just ordered regular lenses for my left eye. It does mean that I don’t see very well out of my left eye, though – like I would never drive with my contact lenses in.

    22. Mephyle*

      Not a contact wearer – the good thing about glasses is that the fashion for extremely narrow frames has passed.

      On another note a question for gas permeable lens wearers: in the early 1980s, I was happy with my lenses, except that I was very vulnerable to airborne particles. In the end, I gave up on contacts because I got tired of having to run to a place where I could access a sink and mirror to get a dust particle out of my eye. Has that improved?

    1. Graythan*

      I stopped asking such questions when I realized that all my nieces and nephews (at the time; more have since appeared) were taller than me. Some questions are better left unanswered.

    2. Liane*

      I think it’s time dilation–or maybe it’s the opposite of time dilation. I always have trouble with cosmology.

      But I do understand. Right now, I am trying to figure out how I went from having a toddler boy & a baby girl to having a college freshman son & a high school junior daughter. Matter of fact, there are some days I don’t get how I went from being in high school to parenting high schooler/s.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      I was at a party last week to celebrate the tenth anniversary of our friends’ wedding – a wedding I was at. I can hardly believe I’ve been in Canada long enough for this to be possible – it feels like four or five years instead of 12!

    4. Artemesia*

      Just wait. My 50th was a couple of years ago — never went to any of them and this last one was organized by socs who excluded others from their in group way back in the day — and the did it again for the 50th. I can only laugh.

      Time goes by really really fast and it speeds up as you get older. Whole decade go by in flash. I can remember how long summer was when I was 5 — now it goes by before I get my summer clothes organized.

    5. StudentA*

      That is awesome! Are you going to the reunion?

      This year was my 20th. I called the school and there was no party, at least not one my alma mater was aware of. I thought that was weird! But yeah, it’s hard to believe it was so long ago! I still feel 17 sometimes!

      1. Cruciatus*

        I did go–just got back. I live close to it so I said I could leave if I wasn’t enjoying myself. Next thing I knew they were cleaning up the tables and 6 hours had flown by. We all still look the same (no clue how long that will last!) and I didn’t talk in depth with most people, but it was nice just to see where they’re at now in life and jobs and all that stuff. It’s a bit weird because so many of us are Facebook friends so you feel like you are keeping up with many of them through their posts. It can be kind of creepy to be like “oh, that kid is your son, I recognize him from Facebook photos!” But it’s nice that my class still keeps somewhat in touch with each other, even if often superficially.

        1. StudentA*

          Glad you enjoyed it! I think people are more likely to regret not going to these things than going and not enjoying themselves.

    6. Melissa*

      Ugh, I know. My 10 year is coming up at the end of the year. They were going to do it this past weekend, but too many people couldn’t get back home so they’re planning it for the holidays now (although they need to hurry up and pin down a date. The holidays are close!)

  13. Amanda*

    Can someone talk me down off the wedding ledge? I am fed up with it already and the stupid thing is 13 months away. I am not girly and am pretty deeply introverted, so the idea of wearing fancy clothes and having people stare at me while I’m social for hours and hours is pretty much my idea of hell. I keep trying to talk my fiance into eloping at city hall. (He argues that you have to go on a trip to elope; I’ve told him that city hall is a whole mile away and we can walk and make an event out of it.)

    I am the only girl on my mother’s side of the family, and it’s in my family’s area (southern Maine). My parents are paying for the ceremony, so I am caught in the classic rock and a hard place.

    I think I may be getting close to the idea that it’s a party for my parents and not really for me, and that I get what I really want out of it, ie, married. That’s actually a rather comforting thought. Then I think about the amount of money that’s being spent and I want to throw up and just get the paperwork signed and get it over with already…

    (It doesn’t help that I am a bridesmaid for my brother’s wedding this fall, and his fiancee has turned into That Bridezilla. Newest edict: bring black yoga pants so we can all match in the getting ready photographs. AAAHHH.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is there a compromise in there — like a small wedding that’s limited to close family and close friends? Like 20-30 people? Low-key? That’s what we did (immediate family and one friend each — 20 people), and I actually really liked it, despite not being a wedding person. You stand up and say some vows, you have a delicious meal in a beautiful setting, done. It really doesn’t need to be more complicated than that. And if your parents are pushing you to do more than you want, and you feel obligated because they’re paying for it, pay for it yourselves to get rid of those strings. And that doesn’t have to be an adversarial move; it can be, “I’ve realized we really want something small and I know that’s not how you’d like to do it, so I don’t feel right letting you pay for it, but am so grateful that you offered.”

      1. Amanda*

        Sadly, I have one of those families. “Close family” is 75 people. We had a first through second cousins family reunion this spring and it was 175. His family is 15. Fiance also would like a larger party, as he has a fairly large social circle. His attendants outnumber mine 2-1 and I’ve already given several people a thousand yard stare of “back off” when they get very worried and inform me that it won’t match.

        I am working hard to keep the ceremony short and sweet, to have a low-key brunch afterwards, and hopefully rather than do the endless “we rented the venue so we have to keep dancing!” thing we’ll all change into normal clothes and hang out on the beach.

        I think I can rein in the day itself, but I am getting daily emails from my mother with new ideas for dresses. She is very loving and we have a great relationship but she used to be a night shift nurse at an emergency room in the downtown of a very sketchy city. She lives her whole life like a freight train. So I have to survive the next 13 months of planning.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Hmmm. In that case, can you be direct with your mom and anyone else who starts pressuring you into more planning than you feel like doing? You have a great relationship with her, so why not tell her, “Hey, my biggest priority in all of this is to keep it low-key. I don’t want it to be a source of stress or something where I have to do more than basic planning; I want to focus on the marriage, not the wedding, and I want to enlist you in helping me achieve that”?

          1. Amanda*

            That’s been my basic tactic so far. I also have no problem with telling her “Not talking about it today! Back off!” It’s just doing that again and again, and finding more diplomatic ways to say that to the cousins and aunts and family friends who keep calling!

            I would’ve thought she would have her fill with my future sister-in-law, who sent emergency texts to everyone today that she needs more wine bottles so that they can make more centerpieces. It has to be a specific size of wine bottle, with the glass of a specific color, so can we start drinking now and get them to her next weekend. Eeeep.

            1. Victoria, Please*

              Hi Amanda, I’m sorry about your dilemma…but could not help chuckling at your future s-i-l’s ridiculous demand! I hope the wine is either very cheap or very good!! Good luck with everything, it really will be okay and you’ll have a good time!

            2. Melissa*

              Your future SIL is a trip. Matching black yoga pants so you MATCH in the getting ready pictures? Who even thinks of that? Lol.

        2. Rana*

          75 isn’t that bad – ours was about that size. We had a simple ceremony outside at a garden, which also provided catering. We ate food, danced, and sat around talking around the fire pit, and wandered around the garden. We also had a “meet-and-greet” cocktail hour the previous day instead of a rehearsal dinner; it was nice because it gave the guests a chance to meet each other and catch up, and so on the actual day everyone was really relaxed and low key. It’s do-able! :)

      2. Amanda*

        Thank you for the thoughts, though. (I’m sorry, I didn’t say that before!) I love the way you phrased the paying for it ourselves suggestion. I think even that would go over like a lead balloon. My dad would be fine with it. My mother would genuinely never get over it. And I do get along well with her and part of me really is coming around to enjoying that she’s so happy and will have such a nice time.

        1. Colette*

          I understand that your mom will be upset, but often parents will adjust. My fear with going along with what they want instead of what you want is that it sets a precedent that will make it harder later, when you disagree about how to spend holidays/whose preferences win during visits/how to raise kids, if applicable.

        2. Artemesia*

          My niece has an incredibly overbearing mother. She got married by herself with just her husband on some island somewhere. Her parents survived and are thrilled with the two grandkids she produced while still in medical school. Parent survive.

          At least if it is a party for your folks, make it still your party. You don’t have to have the march and the bridesmaids etc if you dn’t want to — you can just gather in a park or beach or backyard or other venue in a pretty dress and do your vows and then enjoy the party. Make it your own. (we eloped and I sort of wish we had done it this way with a party that fit our tastes – but we too were turned off by the wedding industry and the hoops and hurdles and so just bagged all but the ‘getting married’ part. ) OUr parents got over that too.

    2. piggy*

      I totally sympathize. I didn’t want to have a fancy wedding for similar reasons and my husband and I just got married at the courthouse. My sister-in-law has some severe social anxiety and after months of trying to plan a big wedding she threw her hands up and cut it down to 20 guests in her back yard.

      You’re totally right that in many cases a wedding is really a party for the guests/family and decidedly NOT for the bride & groom. A lot of people assume that this is just The Way It’s Done but I’d really recommend you have a sincere conversation with your family about how this is affecting you. It’s not worth the stress to go through with their plans, and I’m sure you can find a small wedding compromise like AAM suggested.

      1. Gene*

        If you can’t stand up to your mom now, when will you? It’s your wedding. If it’s the purse strings, cut them. If MomZilla wamts a huge party, she can throw one for you after the honeymoon.

        We went to Vegas, flights to Vegas are relatively cheap from anywhere and people can pick their own level of accommodations. Plus you don’t need to entertain them. :-) We invited everyone (and I mean everyone) and told them to let us know what hotel they were staying in. We chartered a bus and rented the UU hall. Day before the wedding we went to the County building and got the license, then to Costco and bought all the stuff for a sandwich and salad buffet, wine and beer, and two half-sheet cakes (chocolate and vanilla) and put it all in the timeshare fridge. The day of the wedding I loaded it all in coolers in the trunk of the car and got on the bus to pick up the guests all over town. Wife-to-be got ready and drove to A Little White Wedding Chapel to meet up. We did the paperwork, she went to the back of the bus and walked up the aisle while the guests hummed the Wedding March, the reverend did his bit. We told the bus driver where to show up and headed out to set up the buffet. Whent he bus showed up, the receiving line was as everyone got off.

        The reception was a party, even invited the bus driver (George) in. At the end the bus loaded up and took everyone back to their hotels. Everyone had a fun time.

        Here’s a bit of humor for your time.

      2. the gold digger*

        We had a very small wedding as well. Just immediate family and honestly, I would have been delighted if my husband’s parents had not shown up. I wish they had followed through on their threat not to attend. But attend they did and get drunk they did and uncomplimentary toasts make they did.

        But it all would have been worse if we had actually spent a lot of money on the whole deal and been worried about our friends watching his parents be drunken jerks. (Not saying that’s your problem. It was just ours.)

        It’s OK to have the wedding you want. It’s your wedding and, as you point out, the objective is to Be Married, not to have a lot of stress. You get to run your life the way you want to. Good luck!

    3. Elle*

      Run away then let your parents have more of a say for a reception? That way you get your small wedding, your parents get to be a bigger part of planning a reception and you just have to show up and no big white dress required.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        This is kind of what my sister is doing. They are doing a destination-ish ceremony (Key West – we are in Minnesota) with pretty much only immediate family attending, and then having more of an open house style reception back home, after.

      2. Graciosa*

        Seconding this idea.

        Some close friends got married alone while on vacation out of the country, then had a reception on their one year anniversary. It saved an awful lot of fuss and stress.

        If you can’t manage to do this, set some boundaries. I would think about a conversation with Mom along these lines:

        “Mom, I would prefer to have a small ceremony and avoid this fuss entirely, but I understand it’s important to you. I’m willing to accommodate you as long as you can respect certain limits. This means that I am only available for wedding planning X hours per month, and this includes anything and everything remotely related to the wedding and any discussion about anything related to the wedding. The date of the ceremony will be X, and Fiance/Husband and I will be leaving no more than Y hours from the start of the ceremony. If you can work within these limits, you can plan whatever you wish and I will participate. If you can’t, we will be married as we wish privately. Is this something you can do?”

        If you can’t manage to set some limits, Mom’s wedding planning will take over your life until you finally escape from the reception exhausted 16 hours after the ceremony.

        I actually do understand trying to accommodate your mother, but you should negotiate acceptable terms for doing so.

        Good luck.

    4. Jubilance*

      Have you checked out sites like Offbeat Bride and A Practical Wedding? There are definitely ways to have a ceremony that you’re comfortable with, and it’s only a myth that you have to follow all the wedding rules/traditions. Both of those sites have great pieces/advice on having the type of wedding you want, especially for those who don’t want to be the center of attention.

      Best of luck!

      1. Melissa*

        I loved BOTH of those websites when I was planning, because I wanted a lot of offbeat/non-traditional things and SHOCK and HORROR were the responses I was getting from people.

    5. Kathryn*

      My usual wedding planning advice is to sit down with your beloved and each wrote down the three things you care about for your wedding. Then, you should have a combined list of 3-5 things that you will control with an iron fist, spend your energy and money and focus on. They will be your perfect things. (I have yet to meet a couple who successfully get married who don’t overlap on at least one Important Thing)

      All other things, things not on the list, become not your problem. If a family member insists you must have flowers and flowers are not on the list, they either just volunteered to organize the flowers and get them, or they have volunteered to learn to live with disappointment.

      If Gigantic Party is not on the list, and your parents want to throw one, they are free to do so, and you might even leave the beach and show up.

      For my wedding, we ditched the march, the attendants, and swapped in a sit down steak dinner for 40 for the rented hall bash.

    6. Ella*

      Are you me? I’m planning my wedding as well and it’s resulted in a number of stress-tears. However, I try to remind myself that this is about family and people only want to participate because they are so happy. But, I certainly don’t always succeed in keeping my inner calm. We did constrain it to 60 people by booking a venue that will not hold more than 60 people. But then cutting the guest list down … oy vey. Anyhow, my sympathies.

    7. C Average*

      When my husband and I got engaged in December 2010, we planned to marry in April 2012. (We chose that timeframe because we always visit his family in Boston for the Boston Marathon, and we figured we’d get married there and combine the trips.)

      For half a moment, the family got all excited and it looked like it was going to turn into a Whole Big Thing, which neither of us wanted. Also, the more we thought about it, the more we just wanted to be married; we didn’t want a long engagement. We used our eagerness to get married as our means to get out of the Whole Big Thing.

      We informed the family that we just couldn’t wait a whole year–we were getting married THIS April, and it would be immediate family only, and it would be at my husband’s parents’ house. His dad performed the ceremony. I made my own dress. His sister helped us procure flowers and a beautiful cake. His mom helped choose a caterer who would bring dinner to the house. We didn’t have any attendants.

      It was GREAT. Because of the abbreviated timeline, no one had a chance to overrev or object to our plan. We didn’t ask for feedback, financial help, or advice, and we didn’t get any.

      If you two can agree on what you want and be assertive about it, maybe the family will be less domineering and opinionated about what is, in the end, YOUR party.

    8. Diet Coke Addict*

      Listen. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.

      One thing you may like to keep costs down is to have a wedding on an off day. We got married on a Sunday morning and had brunch. It was terrific and we were done by 3. We had a nice garden ceremony followed by a breakfast brunch, no dancing, no being-the-spotlight (I was also concerned about being the center of attention), and it was great. People socialized and walked and talked and enjoyed the gardens and I got to talk to everyone I wanted to, and there was no aggravating DJ announcing me and my husband, no spotlight on us dancing, no nothing we didn’t want to have. Having a wedding on an off-day will be wayyy cheaper for everything (venue, photographers, everybody) and a morning wedding allows you to just be done by mid-afternoon, go home, relax, whatever.

      Check out A Practical Wedding (.com). Going to the courthouse is a 100% viable solution. Or you can go on a day trip to a nearby pretty town and do it there, done.

      1. Academic librarian anon*

        I had a very similar situation. I am the only daughter. My mother had dreams about her daughter’s wedding that had nothing to do with who I am. After much talking it over with my fiancé, I was able to express my concerns to my dad. My dad suggested a small wedding. Immediate family. Morning wedding with a judge officiating, brunch/lunch and the money that would have gone to that big wedding he would give us to help with a down payment for a home. Even my mother couldn’t argue with that.

        That was 27 years ago. Still married.

    9. Mother of the Groom*

      Going somewhat incognito. Ignore my other wedding related post down below. :)

      My son is getting married in a couple of weeks. It started out small and has ballooned to almost 100 people. The bride is a very low-maintenance young woman who cares about things like pets and kayaks and hiking, not favors and attendants and fancy stuff. She is having pie instead of cake. She is wearing a borrowed dress and her attendant will be her brother. So far so good, right?

      My son’s step-mom happens to help run the wedding venue. She has made many practical suggestions, but she is also trying to arrange a horse-drawn carriage ride and is worrying about favors and flowers and other things that neither the bride nor the groom care about. She is hitting me up on Facebook to help with this or that. I appreciate the fact that she wants to be involved, but it seems like she is trying to fancy-up a wedding for–who? Herself?

      Anyway. My son and his fiancé had considered eloping, but I think that the fiancé’s mom also wants a wedding for her only daughter, so a wedding it will be. It’s kind of funny that the people who are actually getting married really don’t care so much about the details and it’s the moms who are all getting upset about the details.

      1. Melissa*

        Pie > cake!

        It’s probably for herself. You sound like a pretty awesome mom, but some moms have dreams about their child’s wedding from the day they’re born and sort of build up this lore around it – or, alternatively, there were things they wanted at their wedding that they didn’t get and want their children to have now. My mom originally suggested a horse-drawn carriage and I was like…uh, no.

        Also, for some parents I feel like it’s a social status thing. They feel like their kid(s) have to have an elaborate thing so they save face with their own friends. I think that was it for my MIL. My original plan was for my husband and I and our immediate families to go to the park and have a little ceremony and then lunch – and then for us to have a 5th anniversary party. We were both in school and couldn’t really afford a larger wedding, and we were planning in 2 weeks. She insisted on a bigger wedding; she even deluded herself into thinking that deep down inside, that’s what *I* really wanted and I was just suppressing my desires. I honestly didn’t care, so I just let her think that and she went happy planning a wedding with 40 people, most of whom were not my own friends or extended family. But I got what I wanted – my immediate family was there, so was his, and we’re married. And we’re still probably going to have that anniversary party.

    10. FD*

      I hear you. My plan for when/if I get married is that I’m going to pay for everything, so that means that my fiancee and I (by which I mean I, because she has already says she really doesn’t care about the details) get to decide what we want.

      Immediate family and very close friends only, and I mean to make my own dinner–roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, carrots, and iced brownies as the wedding cake. The only big-ticket items I intend to go for is the dresses and a good photographer. Everything else can be made or be good enough.

      1. FD*

        Also, it gets me out of having to invite relatives who I don’t really like and who will manage to make all manner of tacky comments if they are invited.

        Granted, I’m sure I’ll have to put up with all sorts of passive aggressive snark after the fact, but, oh well.

    11. Student*

      Have you told your fiance exactly how stressed this makes you, and how you feel it’s a waste of money? Both are important conversations to have.

      Differences of opinion on what’s worth spending money on only get bigger if you leave them unaddressed, and money is a big issue that you two need to have some common perspective on in order to live together long-term.

      Compromising, especially when one person is totally horrified by an idea, is also important. You may not get to elope, but scaling down the wedding is not a bad compromise. Having him respect your feelings, especially things you feel very strongly about, is very important.

      I felt about the same as you – I didn’t get to elope, because my husband really wanted his mother to see his wedding. But we did go from a destination holiday wedding with everyone’s family to a local wedding with only 8 guests. It was a lot more manageable for me than the original idea he had.

    12. Sidra*

      ELOPE. I had a wedding to make family/friends happy, and my husband I wish we had just eloped. However, the wedding was lovely, but yeah… I am also not girly, and we are both quite introverted, so even a small wedding was not “fun” for us. It was cool, and very us (great food, cool venue, only 50 people) but I advise anyone who isn’t 100% into weddings to just elope.

      It really is about you, not them – so if you don’t want a fussy wedding, don’t do it.

    13. Just Visiting*


      You don’t have to go on a trip to elope (although we did, and it was fun!). A trip would cost less and be more low-stress than a wedding anyway. I’m frugal, unfeminine, and introverted so a wedding would be the worst thing ever, how great is it that you don’t have to have one in order to get married?? My mom was very into the idea of elopement because she also eloped for similar reasons. (Basically, she gave us a check and said “you can use this to have a wedding or you can use it for something practical, I know what you’re going to decide.” Thanks Mom!) If your parents want to have a fancy party to celebrate your marriage they can just do that. Don’t let your marriage start off with something you don’t want. Like the Bridezillas say, it’s YOUR special day and you should be allowed to celebrate as you see fit. Your mom will just have to deal, it’s not like you’re getting your face tattooed.

    14. Melissa*

      Honestly, your thought helped me get through mine – the party is really more for other people than it is for you. What you want is to be married to your partner. Once I realized that, I just said yes to everything because I realized that there were very few things I actually cared about. His mom was really into it and basically planned the whole thing, which was a relief. Colors? I don’t care (they ended up being blue and silver, which I loved). Bridesmaids dresses? Pick something royal blue that you like and think you can wear again. Hair? I did it myself. Makeup? MAC counter. It’s actually really liberating not to care, because then all the decisions are low-stakes and you can use them to make people happy.

      My wedding was very small – 40 people, Sunday evening – and I loved it. It’s so intimate and nice, you know everyone there. And you realize very quickly that you don’t need all the frills the wedding mags try to sell you to get married.

      Also, you’d be surprised how little time people spend staring at you once the ceremony and all of the little events are over. The ceremony is 15-30 minutes, but you have your back turned to everyone so you can’t see them. You don’t have to do a grand entrance into the reception hall if you don’t want to. I didn’t want to do a first dance at all because I thought I would feel awkward dancing in front of everyone, but honestly you’re paying more attention to your new spouse and not to everyone looking at you. Then the only other things people really stare at you for are the cake cutting (again, you’ll be paying attention to your new spouse) and the bouquet toss (which you don’t have to do, either – I didn’t!). Most of the reception people will be dancing and eating and watching other people toast you.

  14. Rebecca*

    It’s 2 weeks since I think the semi stray mother cat had kittens! I have no idea where they are, but I suspect they could be under my back porch, as the mother cat appears suddenly when I’m outside. I make sure she has plenty of food and water if she wants it, and I keep telling her she can bring the little ones around when she’s ready. My plan is still in place to tame them, get them to the SPCA when they’re weaned, and get her spayed, all on the QT.

    On an unrelated note, I have a very hard time getting rid of things or throwing them away. But today, I put 6 pair of sandals in a bag for Goodwill that I haven’t worn all summer. It’s Labor Day. They haven’t been worn for at least 1 year or more. I am forcing myself to get rid of them. I also have a pair of old capri pants that are faded and way too big (yay walking and tiny bits of weight loss), and they are going in the garbage can, because they’re not decent enough to donate, and I can’t use them. Likewise, my stretched out faded black cotton socks. This is very stressful for me, but I’m going to do it. I actually feel better about donating items, or even putting them along the road at the end of the driveway with a “free” sign than just throwing them away. The next thing I’m going to tackle is my filing cabinet, which has become a depository for more things than I can count. I don’t even know what’s in there. I’m hoping to find the White Out tape I bought, as the inside cats have relieved me of my current one.

    Oh, and I lost a smidge over 12 lbs this summer. Less than the 20 I wanted to lose, but I didn’t gain weight, and for me, that’s a win. I want to thank everyone for the suggestions last week about fitness gear – I found some nice Danskin items at Walmart, and the XXL fits, so woot! And I’m going to use my Chase 5% cash back for gas this quarter toward a pair of Under Armour compression tights for winter.

    So glad it’s a 3 day weekend!

    1. danr*

      You will suddenly find the kittens underfoot. Put out some food for them, and sit quietly. They will come to investigate and associate you with food. The mama cat will be much less agitated when she is trying to wean them and will be glad of the assistance.

      1. Rebecca*

        This happened in March 2013! All of a sudden, 4 kittens were in the stray cat habitat on the back porch. They were awesome little creatures. Their mother got very sick when they were ~ 6 weeks old, and at ~ 7 weeks old, she had to be put down, and I became their foster mother. I still have 2 of them; the other 2 were killed on the road, sadly. The old crate with bedding is still out there, and makes a great shelter, and I make sure it’s clean and comfy. I am anxious to see these guys! This particular cat has handsome offspring, usually tiger striped or tuxedos. It is my goal to make sure this is her last litter.

    2. Daisy*

      Congratulations on being able to throw things out. I have the same problem and every victory is to be celebrated.

    3. nep*

      Congratulations on your weight loss and health gains. Good for you.
      And for being able to throw some things out. Often it’s difficult, but I find it so refreshing and mood-boosting.

    4. Melissa*

      I used to have a hard time getting rid of stuff I don’t need anymore, until the first time I finally forced myself. It felt so good that now I look for opportunities to get rid of stuff taking up space, lol. I go through my clothes at the end of every season, when I switch over my off-season clothes, and if I haven’t worn it all season then I chuck it.

      Glad you found the workout gear! I love Danskin. Inexpensive and effective. I really like Under Armour too, when I feel like shelling out for it.

  15. piggy*

    I want to vent, but I’m also wondering if I’m entitled to be annoyed or angry at my academic department:

    I got accepted into a Master’s program last winter and started taking classes in the program before I was officially admitted because I was allowed to transfer credits in and essentially start a couple terms early. This was great, I thought, because it would allow me to graduate two terms ahead of schedule. I gave my advisor my course plan as soon as I started classes, and I made clear I planned to finish early and specifically asked him to see if there was anything wrong with my plan. He approved my course plan and I went on my way with the program.

    Well, 3 months later it turns out there was one prerequisite I didn’t notice that ended up making the entire course plan have to be reevaluated. I am upset for a few reasons:
    1) I won’t be able to graduate early, even though I was told by the department chair that transferring credits in would help me complete the program faster AND my advisor initially approved the course plan.
    2) My advisor had me go through a petition process to bypass this prereq, and when I was denied, the department chair acted like I shouldn’t have even bothered and I just should have known in the first place that it was a prereq.
    3) The chair didn’t want to talk to my advisor about how this was mishandled and told me I should do it.

    So I’m left with a really sour feeling about my department. Maybe I’m just being a baby, but I can’t shake this bitter feeling, and I’m not looking forward to two more years in this program anymore.

    1. Adam*

      I’ve never been in a Master’s program, but I’ve had several friends who have and the one universal facet of the experience I find is to be adaptable and to expect some major frustrations from the department, whether its admins, faculty, or the leadership. I think some unmentioned aspect of the programs is just to see if you can endure it. I’d give yourself time to relax and converse with whoever you can to see if there is a solution. Good luck!

    2. krisl*

      Sounds like some political stuff going on in the department. I’d guess that the advisor and chair don’t like each other so much. Maybe the advisor is overly optimistic, and the chair gets tired of wasting time on shooting down what the advisor recommends. Maybe the chair is grumpy and like shooting down anything advised by the advisor.

      Either way, it might be good to find a back-up unofficial advisor.

      It might help to be glad you’re not the advisor or the chair. I bet they really annoy each other on a regular basis.

      Also, if you think of some of this as an initiation, sometimes that helps. In college, I had to take a number of classes that I was sure I’d never use (and I haven’t), and that attitude helped me.

    3. Artemesia*

      Every masters program I have seen (not yours of course) has the requirements pretty clearly spelled out and also that you are responsible for meeting them. It sucks that the department didn’t advise you better, but were these requirements really hidden? Far enough along in life to be doing a masters is far enough along to make sure you do all that is required.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Yeah, it sucks that the advisor didn’t catch it, but they are (presumably) the advisors to many other people, and they’re probably not looking at each individual requirement and class, they’re looking to see if it’s a manageable class load, if there’s something that really sticks out, etc. If they’re really looking at all. I’ve known a lot of advisors (granted, at the bachelors level) who just glance and call it good. They’re busy and are only advisors because they’re required to be.

        I say in the most non-accusatory way possible, because stuff happens: You totally have a right to be peeved at your advisor, but it was ultimately on you to do the research, so I’d say your right extends to fuming to yourself and your friends, and calling it good.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      I feel your pain. I’ve had similar issues with my bachelors. The problem is that administrators want to apply the same rules uniformly to everyone under the ruse that it’s more fair that way. The reality is that it makes their job easier (this is coming from some serious frustration so take it with a grain of salt).

      I’ll give you an example of one of the situations I had. I did an extracurric. thing that transferred as a senior course if you want it to. I missed the deadline to register for the course officially. I politely ask to be put in the course to get credits, fully acknowledging that it was my fault I missed the deadline, but also feeling it was reasonable to be put in because I was doing the work regardless. The deadline only makes sense for courses where you actually attend class (you can’t register a month in for something like that). Anyways, many arguments later and having to loop in a well respected and influential prof that happened to be overseeing my study, I got my way though it ended up being roundabout and unnecessarily complicated.

      I also feel you on the complete lack of empathy (your second point). I once missed a prereq. which would mean I would graduate a semester later (also figured this one out). They acted like it was the simplest thing. Hello! I don’t want to lose 4 months of my life doing 1 course.

      Lesson of this all: Bureaucracy is the bane of my existence and I can never work in academia.

      Also to your point, Artemesia, again I’m unfamiliar with Masters programs, but my bachelors is an ambiguous mess in terms of prereqs combined with the fact that councilors are supremely unhelpful (probably because the prereqs are ambiguous). I’m not the only one that has had problems with this, and I think it’s more a problem with the support that’s provided than our lack of ability to schedule effectively.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        I got over my bitterness by vowing to never give them money once I become a rich alumni… Okay, maybe I’m still a little bitter :P.

      2. LAI*

        As an academic adviser, I just wanted to provide my perspective on these kinds of issues. Yes, we do want to apply the same rules to everyone, both because it is fair and because it makes our jobs easier. I don’t know what school you went to, but I work at a school with 25,000 undergraduates – it’s impossible to consider every single student as an individual case on every decision, and it’s unnecessary. Not that we don’t make exceptions to rules – we totally do, all the time, for genuinely extenuating circumstances or hardship, like if you had missed the deadline to add your senior class because you were in the hospital for the week. We’d also consider an exception if you needed this class to graduate and it wasn’t being offered again before you graduated. But if it’s an elective, and you just missed the deadline because you forgot, or didn’t bother to check when the deadline was – sorry, but we get hundreds of requests like that every semester. If we were going to approve them all, then what would be the point of having a deadline?

        And as for missing a prereq and having to graduate a semester later, sorry, but I have to agree with your advisers about having not a lot of empathy on that one. Again, I don’t know about your school, but there are many websites were it is really easy to look up the required classes for each degree program. We also have widely accessible academic advising services if you don’t want to look it up yourself – you can call, email, make an appointment, etc. If an adviser told you something counted and turned out to be wrong, then I agree that they should have worked with you to find a better solution. But it doesn’t sound like that was the case here. If a student doesn’t bother to plan their classes well during their first 4 years (or 2, as a transfer), then it’s not unreasonable that now you have to change your plans. I get that it might suck to graduate late, but a) it’s really not uncommon and it’s not that big of a hardship to most students and b) it was easily avoidable.

        1. CoffeeLover*

          I ended up getting the credit and working out the prereq thing. I just had to raise hell to get these results. What that showed to me is that there was an unwillingness to help, not an inability.

          1. CoffeeLover*

            Oh and I guess the fundamental reason I have a problem with this unwillingness is because I am paying for these services and it’s their job to help me.

        2. StudentA*

          LAI: Thank you for such a well thought out post. It is interesting to get an insider’s view of student services offices.

          It makes sense that university staff has to work efficiently while providing a service to 25,000 students. I think when you start making exceptions for everyone who asks, more mistakes occur, and you start mixing people up. So the way I see it is, not only do you have to try to be fair, you have to work efficiently. It doesn’t do the students any good if the staff is under constant pressure by students (and sometimes their demanding families) so much so that you can’t do your job. Of course, sometimes, there are truly extenuating circumstances, and only a ridiculous school staff would not work with someone due to such circumstances.

      3. piggy*

        Glad you got what you wanted in the end! You touch on something that I, too, had an issue with, which was some administrators being surprisingly (and imo sometimes irrationally) averse to flexibility. But I understand that uni admins, profs, and advisors probably deal with people trying to bypass rules all the time, so I sympathize with their situation.

    5. LAI*

      Sorry this happened to you. Was it your plan all along to petition the prereq, or did your adviser just suggest that once you realized it was missing from your already-approved plan? If it’s the latter, then that sucks and unfortunately, it kinda sounds like your adviser making a bad suggestion that maybe he knew wouldn’t get approved just to redirect your ire toward the faculty instead of toward him.

      If it was always your plan to petition the prereq though, then, as an academic adviser, I can totally see how this would happen. I work with a lot of faculty advisers and they change every few years. There’s really no consistency between what some of them will think is a reasonable petition and what others will think is a waste of time – and when a new faculty adviser comes into the role, it’s entirely possible that the same petitions that were routinely approved last month will no longer be approved. Of course, we talk with our faculty, we try to explain the impact on students and we do our best to work toward consistency. But in the long run, all we can do is advise students to try to petition and see what happens.

      1. piggy*

        Thanks for your thoughts!

        It was never my plan to petition it since I honestly didn’t realize it was a prereq. In fact, I didn’t even petition to bypass it completely, but rather just take it simultaneously with the class it was a prereq for (like treat it as a corequisite instead). In any case, I think you’re right that there wasn’t a lot of consensus in the department about what sounded reasonable, so I think in the future I’ll treat my advisor’s advice as just one person’s opinion and not necessarily representative.

    6. Student*

      So sorry you had to learn this the hard way. Professors, especially in graduate programs, have no idea what the degree requirements are. You have to personally check all the prerequisites, comb the small text, and double-check the fine print. Be glad that you found out there was a problem now, at the beginning of your program. Most people don’t find out until the end of the program, and then they suddenly find out they need to stay another semester right when they were planning to move on.

      It was crappy that your adviser gave you the go-ahead incorrectly. Take it as an important lesson about your adviser – this person is not details-oriented, doesn’t have the clout to bypass the academic process, and isn’t going to be hand-holding you through the degree. Scale back your expectations, double-check all your paperwork yourself, and good luck with your degree.

      1. piggy*

        Yeah, I think I was wrong in assuming my advisor could serve as my ultimate error checker. I tried hard to get all the info right myself, but I learned that advisors are in the same position students are, just trying to understand all the details and sometimes they miss something. So, as you say, my expectations of them will be much more realistic in the future. Thank you so much for your response!

    7. Melissa*

      I’m not sure whether your advisor is a professor or an academic advisor employed by academic or student affairs, but if they are a professor, then I wouldn’t be surprised. Unfortunately, at many master’s programs the professors don’t actually know the prerequisites that well themselves. I got my doctoral degree in a department that also had a professional master’s, and my roommate was in the master’s program and had the same advisor as me. I put together my own schedule and asked for approval, but my advisor’s approval was more “this looks good” and less “this fulfills requirements” – and I remember my roommate being really frustrated because my advisor was pretty much useless in helping her put together a schedule that fulfilled the requirements. At this university, the professors paid 80% of their own salaries with research grants so they were a bit unconcerned with academic matters, including advising MPH students (which was terrible, because that was part of their job too…)

      So this may suck as advice, but I would not rely on your advisor (particularly if he/she is a professor) to notice and find your prerequisites for you – just because experience tells me they often don’t know and are winging it (although some departments are better than others). Comb through the student handbook, look for the requisites there, and if you have specific questions I would go to this department chair or the director of graduate students or of the master’s program.

      I don’t blame you for not being able to shake the feeling, though. My department had a number of…issues, which led to me hating it pretty much less than halfway through the program and attempting to distance myself as much as possible through the rest of it. I finally finished this August and still feel kind of bitter towards the department in general. Maybe it’ll go away in a few years, but I doubt it.

  16. Steve G*

    Technical question – need help!

    Glad this is here today because no one I know can help. I have many many many mixed tapes from the 90s…the oldest one that hasn’t broken is 23 this year, and now I am getting worried that I am going to start losing more for good. I still haven’t been able to find digital copies of some of the songs/mixes and want to preserve them.

    Is there anyway to get cassettes into a digital format? I know you can obviously put a CD on cassette, but is there any device where you can do the opposite.

    Please help!

    1. danr*

      Sure… attach your headphone out (or stereo output) to a lead into your pc sound card input. Play the music, recording to the hard disk, then burn to the cd. Check Google, I know there is stuff and directions out there. Do a couple of tests using newer tapes to get the procedure down before you go wild. Have fun.

    2. Rebecca*

      We have a mom and pop music shop in town – and they own the local radio station. I know people have taken cassette tapes to them to be converted to CD. If you have a decent cassette player, and an output jack, you could record them on your computer and rip a CD from there. You can also go to Amazon dot com and search cassette to CD and buy a unit if you have a lot to do.

      1. Steve G*

        OMG this stuff is awesome. I didn’t know this technology even existed so I didn’t look for it. Yes, there is a cassette to CD converter kit on Amazon. I am thrilled. Yes, I could go and buy each song separately on the internet, but no DJ is ever gonna mix those house music and other classics exactly the same as they did in the early 90s….and I love the rough sounds and occasional blips on the cassettes.

        Thanks for the tip!!

        1. fposte*

          I bought a little cassette player with USB output on Amazon and happily ripped a bunch of stuff. They’re not the most robust pieces of equipment but they work just fine.

  17. Adam*

    Do people have much luck negotiating down rent increases? I moved into my current apartment in 2012. The following year they raised my rent $50 per month. This year the property management company changed and they want to raise it $60. This would be an increase of over 12% in two years. I checked their website and their listed rent for the same apartment I have is almost $50 more than what they offered me, so I’m sure in from their perspective I’m already getting a deal, but even still that’s just getting too much for me to manage unless I get a second job right quick (which I’m probably going to have to do anyways).

    I checked local listings and found my proposed new rent is on the low end of what I can now expect in this area, so even though I’ve been a model tenant my hopes of getting a better deal aren’t too high. They’ve been remodeling the units as they become available but mine still has all original fixtures from when I moved in. All they’ve updated are various safety features that they probably had to do by law anyways.

    Anybody have any advice for this situation? Staying in my current spot is pretty much breaking the bank unless I get a second income very soon but moving and dealing with expensive deposits and first/last as well as likely taking a downgrade in living amenities seems just as unappealing…

    1. Lola*

      What kind of lease do you have? (don’t know if you’re US?)
      Sometimes a landlord may negotiate a lower rent (or in your case no increase) if a tenant will agree to sign a longer lease because it saves them on turnover costs.

      1. Adam*

        It is in the U.S.

        My lease was at first for 12 months and then renewed for another 12. The new management company wants to go to 6 months, which I’m guessing is because I live down the street form a community college and I think they get a lot of student residents as a result.

        I’m not in college though and have had the same steady job for four years now which I plan to emphasize when I talk to them. My income is stable, it just doesn’t go up. Well, technically last year I got a $1K annually before taxes increase, but in this area for cost of living that’s pretty much awash. Always the great quandary how everything else can go up except your wages. :P

    2. BB*

      Ask them if you could do some work around the property in lieu of paying the increase.
      Is there any way you can cut down some of your expenses?

      1. Adam*

        Considered, but there isn’t a whole lot left to cut. I’ve already axed cable, drive only when necessary, I don’t have a Starbucks habit, and am dining primarily on PB&J’s and refried bean burritos. Not sure how long it’s been but it feels like I haven’t bought myself a six pack of beer since Valentine’s Day. :P

    3. Jubilance*

      I’ve had good luck just asking if they can decrease the amount of the increase. In both cases, I got them to cut the increase in half. They may not go for it, but you never know if you don’t ask.

    4. Is This Legal*

      What I’ve done is give notice to vacate in writing then negotiate outside of contract. BUT you have to be willing to move if they can’t budge. Each year for the past couple years I’ve managed to negotiate from 15% increase to 2-3%. Think of it this way they would rather have a tenant they know than the unknown. Plus the costs to prepare the place for the new tenant.

    5. Melissa*

      I negotiated down my rent increases when I lived in NYC. The rent was going to go up $50 when I renewed my lease.

      I sat down with the landlord and mentioned that I was a student, and thus on a fixed income, so I wasn’t making a lot of money. He responded that $50 wasn’t a lot of money. I said that $50 might not have been a lot to them, but it was a lot to me, as it could be one of several bills for the whole month to me. I don’t remember exactly where the negotiation went from there, but I think I do remember bringing up that finding a new tenant to replace me given that it was already late August – and most of the students had already moved in – would likely be more expensive than the extra $600 he’d make in the year, especially since it was a two bedroom apartment that went for $1800/month. I was also a model tenant, had never paid my rent late and my apartment was still in pristine condition. He thought about this, admitted I was right and decided not to raise the rent.

      I was in the same situation – I wouldn’t have saved much if any money by moving elsewhere in the same neighborhood, so I didn’t make threats to move out or anything, and I was actually prepared to accept the rent increase, although I didn’t say that. Some landlords are not going to care about the income thing; in my case, I think it worked because chances are the next people he would rent to would be students as well – I lived right nearby an academic medical center, and his units were priced with the students in mind. If your apartment stays vacant for even half the month they might be losing more money than they would gain from raising your rent and renting to someone else – so I might bring that up.

  18. Sabrina*

    We’re looking at buying our first house. Today we went out for the first time and looked at 5 houses. Was supposed to be 8 but 3 went under contract or were “cancelled” for some reason. I.Am.Exhausted. Didn’t see anything we HAD to have. There was one house I liked, but of course it was the most expensive, so the hubs doesn’t think it’s doable. And he’s probably right. The last two major decisions I’ve made have turned out disastrous, so I feel like I really can’t argue.

    1. Adam*

      Congrats on deciding to make the step. I’m guessing you’re not really in the real estate market and are looking for someplace for you guys to really live in right? In that case, what I’ve been told is to look for somewhere that you can at least spend 5 years living in. That seems to be about the average reasonable time and expense for most new homeowners. Your mileage may vary as life changes of course, but I think it’s a good idea to keep in mind when looking. Good luck!

    2. danr*

      You won’t find your ‘dream’ house on the first trip. When you’re looking at houses, make notes about what you like, don’t like, and can live with. Also, all owners expect bargaining. You won’t pay full listed price these days. Just go to one or two houses at a time, or they all run together in your mind.
      Good luck.

      1. Windchime*

        When I was looking for a house last time, I made a list of things I wanted. I then divided it up into “must haves” versus “nice to have”. That made it easier for my realtor, because she knew not to show me anything if it didn’t have my “must haves”. Examples on my Must Have list: Covered patio area (we are in Seattle, after all), powder room, safe neighborhood, X miles from work, under $X . On my Nice to Have list: View, A/C, Granite countertops.

        I got everything on my Must Have list, but I had to pay right at my $X price (well, five dollars under so technically I got that, too).

    3. Steve G*

      I feel your pain. Have been house-hunting in NYC, mostly in Queens. So many overpriced houses, so many buildings with issues, so many places with no parking, so many outdated bathrooms and kitchens, as in 40 years old……..it is so exhausting. It’s like everyone thinks they are a house flipper, so anytime there is a house with a few niceities, the price is $100K more than the crappy ones, even though the improvements were only worth $10K-$20K. Very frustrating. Not to mention serial housebuyers that want to buy with cash and make them into rentals (which is probably one of the reasons houses are so expensive, because many many whole blocks are rentals, no one owns).

      1. Melissa*

        This is one of the reasons I feel like I can’t stay in NYC…I think hubby and I will be ready to buy in the next 5ish years and idle looking has shown that everything in the NYC area is outdated or overpriced (or some combination of them). Lots of 1970s style wood paneling and yellow ovens, lol. We’re from Atlanta, too, so we’re kind of spoiled in terms of what you can afford in our price range/income range. Both sets of parents are lower-middle-class and they both own a 4-bedroom house in nice, quiet neighborhoods.

    4. Elle*

      I didn’t feel like my house was “the one” until I had been living there for a month. My husband was totally in love with one and I just had to trust his instinct… which is terrifying when you’re buying a home.

      We actually made a rubric of everything we needed and things we wanted so we could sort of score the houses based on locations, number of bathrooms, bedrooms, type of heating, yard size, etc. We ended up sacrificing a big yard and guest bedroom for finished game room, home office and an unfinished basement which we could finish later if we want.

    5. Colette*

      I highly advise taking notes as you leave each place, if you haven’t been. It helps keep them from blurring together, and if you start with a list of must haves/nice to haves, you’ll be able to remember which house has which.

      And good luck.

    6. Lola*

      I always tell my clients that its important to see places that you don’t like as well as those you do – it helps narrow things down as you move through the process.
      Don’t be disheartened after one day searching – I know it’s exhausting.
      Make notes about what you like, take pictures and video if it helps you remember and make sure your agent knows how you feel so they can help you work through it!
      Good luck!

    7. Artemesia*

      We aren’t good at it and I find it excruciating; we have done it three times and did okay although we are terrible financial negotiators. It helps to have your list but you will discover when you really look at what is available what is REALLY important to you and not. It turned out that the view was the absolutely one thing I was not willing to compromise. I didn’t know that until I looked at a lot of places. We probably looked at 30 and that was pretty much all that was in our market that fit more or less what we wanted. It does help to look at a variety of places as it sharpens up your sense of what you really do want.

      I found it help to take pictures — because things do blur together. It also helps to have some time so you aren’t forced into a decision; we probably jumped where we shouldn’t because we had to be out of our sublet and the idea of renting again was depressing (and moving twice). We love where we are but our lovely view may well be obscured in the future by construction– so probably not a wise choice. But so far we are delighted and we will cope if and when it happens. (and probably lose a bunch of money in the process)

      1. Newsie*

        Cosign the pictures and the time. In re: pictures, when I scrunched my nose at the weird layout, I could take a picture of the area and note it when I got home. It really helped me 1. narrow down what I wanted and 2. find other problems too. For example, the water damage I didn’t notice because I was overwhelmed by the amazing balcony.

        And as for time, took me a year and a half to find a place while I was living in an awful sublet. Was not fun at all. Just remember, the last week of the first month you move in is going to be AMAZING. That’s of course when you’ll finally be able to unpack everything and just breathe deep!

    8. PuppyKat*

      We made a checklist of must-haves (such as it had to have a 2-car garage, minimum), cannot-haves (such as it absolutely could not be near a major thoroughfare), and nice-to-haves, plus spaces for address, price, notes, etc. Really helped us keep track of all the different houses we viewed. After several open houses, it became hard to remember which one had the floor lay-out we liked, which one had the pretty backyard, and which one had the perfect kitchen. Good luck with your hunt!

    9. krisl*

      One trick I’ve used when looking at houses is to pick my favorite and second favorite, then each time I look at a new house, I check to find out if it beats #1 or 2.

      It’s hard to keep 10 or so houses in your head, but if you can keep a list of a few favorites, it’s easier.

    10. Chuchundra*

      My wife and I spent two and half years looking for a house, although part of that wait was waiting for my Mom’s estate to settle so we’d have money for the down payment. I ended up writing a blog about the whole experience. You can click on my name and read it, although you have to go back to the 2010 entries and before to see the house hunting stuff.

      The bottom line is that you have to see a lot of houses to know what you want. Keep notes on every house and compare and contrast until you know exactly what you have to have, what you’d like to have, what you can do without and what you can afford.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      My husband and I looked at a lot of houses, too. As you are saying it was exhausting and discouraging. As we went along we found we had a clearer idea of what we wanted. We started doing open houses which seemed to be easier. And we started doing a lot more drive-bys rather than insisting on seeing the inside of all the houses we found appealing in our price range.

      When we came to this house, I think we only saw half the house and turned to each other and nodded. That was the whole discussion to buy this house. It had most of the features we considered a priority. It was in our price range.

      However long the process takes, it’s worth it. When you do pick something you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you really looked around and you put a lot of thought into your choice.

    12. Sabrina*

      Thanks, all. Yep, we’ve got a list of must haves. My husband’s includes 1. Decent commute and 2. Cheap. Which can be difficult. We also impressed our Realtor by bringing notepads, pens, a flashlight, and a tape measure. One place was a foreclosure with no electricity on, so we needed the flashlight.

    13. PuppyKat*

      I would also say that when you do find a house you like and put in a bid, don’t be discouraged if someone else beats you out. The first time it happened to us felt like a kick in the stomach. It was very emotional and upsetting.

      The second time it happened, we were much more prepared. It just depends upon how competitive your local market is. But we kept looking, found a house we liked even better, and went for it with an aggressive strategy.

    14. HR Pro*

      I remember the first day we went house shopping was exhausting, too. Several factors: we didn’t know what to expect, so we both thought it would be quick and easy. We also didn’t time it right so we were really hungry — and therefore cranky! — after looking at a few houses (lesson learned: plan around lunch, bring water bottle(s) and snacks).

      Others have given good advice so I won’t repeat it. But house hunting is something that takes time — at least it was for us. We had to see a lot of what we didn’t like so that we could discuss it and understand/figure out what we did like. And we had to see stuff that one of us liked and one didn’t so that we could discuss that and figure out how to compromise (or change our minds).

      Also, I’d say 8 houses is a lot to see in one day, especially if you and/or your hubby have any introverted-ness in your personalities. All of those realtors trying to chat you up and then all of the talking to each other can be draining.

      I’ll bet your next excursion to house-hunt will go much better! (But don’t forget, this takes time — you likely won’t find a place until you’ve been searching for some months. That’s not a bad thing, either, because new places will come onto the market during that time.)

      1. IT Squirrel*

        On the flip side it can take no time at all when you find the right one – I decided it was time to buy a house, and within two months I’d found it, bought it and moved in!
        When I pulled up outside the house I ended up buying, I just knew it was the one for me – ticked all the boxes, just felt right, and has the added bonus of awesome friendly neighbour with the same interests as me.
        Been here 5 years this Christmas (I moved in a week before; I had a Christmas tree, a bed, a sofa bed for my mum, and loads of boxes everywhere on Christmas day! I didn’t even have a fridge or freezer and had to store Christmas dinner in the shed, where it got frozen and we couldn’t chop the veggies until they defrosted…best Christmas in years!)

  19. Lola*

    Can someone help me resolve a gmail/iphone question?
    I have a business email address which is linked to my personal gmail address.
    When I respond to a business email on my laptop it shows my business email address as the responding address.
    When I respond to a business email on my iphone (or ipad) it shows my personal email address as the responding address.

    I don’t want all my clients to have my personal email address but I want to be able to respond on my phone … help??

    1. BB*

      Have you checked the settings on your iphone/ipad? Usually you can choose what email address is linked to what and etc. Maybe your personal email is set to the default on the iphone.

      1. Lola*

        Yes – I tried that – It doesn’t offer the business address as an option. Trip to the Apple store I think!


    2. Noah*

      You’ll have to add your business email as another account on your iPhone and iPad. This means you’ll need to know the SMTP address and your login information for the business account. The SMTP address is usually smtp.yourcompanydomain.com but might be something different. If your company also uses gmail you can click the gmail setup and put your full company email address in as your username.

    3. Waiting Patiently*

      Have you tried your Gmail or Google+ settings. I’ve a similar problem on my galaxy phone. Every now and then it ask me which to use and then there are times where it just won’t ask at all and of course the one it’s defaulted to is the wrong one. It’s very finicky. I’m starting to hate google.

  20. CaliSusan*

    Has anyone here started feeding their cat(s) Sheba? Since reading about it on here, combined with the fact that my vet recommended my cats switch exclusively to wet food, I’ve been trying it with pretty good results. My cats really like it, and it seems like a good balance of quality (high protein, low carb) and price (more expensive than Friskies but much more reasonable than premium/holistic brands).

    1. Windchime*

      My cat liked a couple of the flavors, but he was mostly kind of “meh” about it in general. We’re currently trying something else that we got at Target, but since he just barfed up his entire dinner along with a giant hairball, I’m not sure that this one will be what we end up with.

    2. Another Teacher*

      I tried my cat on Sheba a while back (nothing to do with the posts here) and he did not like it and wouldn’t eat it (mostly – the few times he did he vomited it back up quickly. He doesn’t usually do that, so I was unimpressed with the Sheba).

    3. Trixie*

      This isn’t specific to Sheba but adding in some canned food is so much better for older kitties. The dry food with high protein is really hard to digest, especially on the kidneys if I remember right. I wish I’d known this for one cat in particular who vomited for years and I assumed it was because he ate too fast or something more serious. Why vets weren’t recommending canned food I have no idea but I think that says more about the vets than anything. This time around, when he started displaying the symptoms I start giving my 11-year old Orange Boy a little wet in addition to dry and it works beautifully. I don’t switch it out entirely because the dry is so good for their teeth, and teeth cleanings are expensive.

      1. Windchime*

        I had a cat who made it to age 18 but he vomited a lot for years. I found out when he was 17 that he had horribly decayed teeth and was sick and in pain for a long, long time. The old vet I had was telling me that his bad breath and barfing were typical for his age; I felt horribly guilty when I realized he had been in pain for so long. (I only found out because I moved, and took him to a feline specialist at my new home). Once I got his teeth fixed (extracted, mostly) and put him on wet food made specifically for kitties with kidney trouble, his barfing stopped almost completely.

        Long story short: Dental hygiene and keeping moisture in the food is critical to a cat’s health, especially when they are middle-aged or older. I wish more vets would tell cat owners that.

  21. AnotherAlison*

    So I know this isn’t the work open thread, but I don’t get to check in on work days anymore.

    I am just here to give good vibes to all the people unhappy in their jobs. It can change, although it might take 15 years, lop. I started a new position at the beginning of the month (same company) and I love my job for the first time ever. I’ve liked some jobs, mostly when I was on teams with good people, but this is the first time I’ve loved my work (and therefore actually stay off the Internet at work).

    I made a lot of my career decisions chasing a fantasy career path (trying to do work that would position me for a totally different lifestyle), and I finally said f*** it, I’m just going to get back on the normal career path. I lucked into a great position and have had gotten some sweet assignments that I can’t believe they gave me. I basically signed up for working a regular 9-5 (7 to 5 really) in an office for the foreseeable future, but I love it. I wish I had followed what I really “am” a long time ago, instead of doing what I thought I should be doing.

    1. C Average*

      Congratulations! I’m really happy for you. Thanks for sharing–it’s nice to know there’s hope out there.

  22. pawnee goddess*

    A very close friend and I had a disagreement about a month ago. Basically, she felt strongly about something related to our group of friends and I didn’t agree with her. She proceeded to yell at me for not agreeing with her.

    A couple of days later, she “apologized” for overreacting and yelling at me, because the situation really didn’t have a thing to do with me or anything that I did.

    She then proceeded to call everyone in our group of friends, yell at them, and basically tried to start World War 3.

    It’s been two months since I’ve had any contact with her. I really thought I would miss her, but I really don’t. I didn’t realize until recently how much drama she had caused me and our group of friends in the past few years until now. I’ve seriously been wondering if she is suffering from mental/emotional issues as well, due to her behavior lately.

    I feel bad for her because she is going through a really stressful time (unemployed) but I feel like just because you are going through a hard time doesn’t give you the right to treat others like dirt or act like a nut case.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It sounds like she has a full set of her own frustrations in her life. She probably yells at herself ten times what you saw.
      None of that makes yelling at people okay, though. She may need to find new people. Sometimes that happens, we just have to move on for reasons that are not clear.

    2. Sidra*

      I think you’ve got a good head on your shoulders. Adults need to behave as such, and shouldn’t be surprised when friends cut them loose for being crazy. That said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with asking if she’s emotionally/mentally OK and suggesting she seek counseling… if you think you can do that tactfully!

  23. Vanilla*

    My close friend’s child is turning 1 next month and she is hosting a party for him. As much I like her and her child, I really don’t want to go for a couple of reasons. 1. I’m single and childless and most everyone else at the party is married with children. 2. I used to work with my friend and I was let go from the company a few years ago. Though I’ve gone on to be successful at my current job, I’m still embarrassed by being let go. I was let go because I wasn’t a good fit, not because of performance. Anyway, my friend had invited several coworkers to the party and I would rather not “run into them.”

    I’ve already told my friend that I’m pretty sure I’m busy the day of the party and she acted hurt. She said, “but it just won’t be the same without you! Please please come.”

    1. salad fingers*

      My boyfriend and I are invited to his niece’s one year old birthday this weekend and he doesn’t want to go because he feels really uncomfortable around a lot of people who will be there. We chatted casually with his brother about not being able to make it and made plans to go to a museum with her next weekend for a little mini celebration. Not sure if this is feasible for you, but maybe suggesting an alternative to make it clear that you want to celebrate her child will help diffuse some of the hurt.

    2. Diane*

      If you like spending time with her and the baby, you can arrange to meet up another time. Offer to treat them to a celebratory visit to a children’s museum or other age-appropriate activity. If kids aren’t your cup of tea, offer to meet up with her for some adult time (pedicure, coffee, etc.) and bring along a gift for the kiddo (books are great!). It’s really okay to avoid the group, and honestly, they won’t sit around lamenting the absence of one person (even though I’m sure you are wonderful and make every party lovely).

    3. C Average*

      I firmly believe that “I won’t be able to make it, but thanks for the invite!” should invite no further conversation. If you don’t want to go, politely decline. It’s an invite, not a court summons!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Nothing wrong with expressing regret about not being able to go, also. “I am sorry I will not be able to be there. I feel bad about that.”

      2. Windchime*

        I love “it’s an invitation, not a court summons”. That’s a good thing to remember. I’m not very social and sometimes I agree to go to things that I regret later, but I feel bad when I say no because I get a lot of flack for turning down invitations. I honestly would rather be home knitting or watching TV or reading than doing social stuff. Especially social stuff where there will be a lot of toddlers running around and screaming.

    4. BB*

      Something else to consider: the people you used to work with where you were terminated may not have that on their mind as much as you do or at all. They are there for a party. What happened was in the past. You are doing well now and have moved on. If I saw a friend at a party who was in your position, I wouldn’t care or think, “poor her.” If they are your friends, they won’t care about it.

      You should go so everyone can see how well you’re doing.

    5. Sidra*

      I don’t think you need to go, or provide justification. Life is too short to spend at parties where you’ll be uncomfortable and/or bored. Send a gift, if you like, but I don’t think you have anything to feel guilty about.

  24. Chloe*

    Can anyone give me advice on how to mentally move on from a very difficult work situation that is over?

    I had a colleague who was very very difficult and made my life hell. She has now gone, but because the whole situation was so awful, and for other reasons, I’m also leaving soon myself (2 weeks). In the comments I made on another thread someone suggested she might have had borderline personality disorder and having now read a lot about it, it does really fit.

    I work in a small city in a very tight industry, so I know for certain I will see her again. We have many, many connections through other people. I am really having trouble letting go of how poorly she treated me (verbally abusing and insulting me, threatening to do drastic and extremely unprofessional things at work, but then flipping to praising me in an over the top fawning manner, behaving like a total sweetheart to everyone else in the office, the list goes on).

    It was just a very very confusing time, no-one else in the world saw the side of her that I saw, so perple still ask me how she is going and speak of her fondly. I am still having trouble even processing in my mind what happened, let alone being able to really deal with any kind of ongoing contact with her.

    Has anyone been in this situation or have any ideas on how to move forward and put this behind me, but still be ready to deal with her when I next see her?

    1. Waiting Patiently*

      “She is just someone you used to know”. I don’t mean to make light of your situation, but you no longer have to deal with this person in a “professional manner”. If I were you, I would act so far removed from her when I see her. And if anyone of your mutual connections have a problem with it, I would explain how horrible she treated you. Of course, that could start a he said/she said banter…I would address the issue only once with them and leave it at that though–if they ask.

    2. C Average*

      Having just made a gaffe (see below) that might well cause current colleagues to say similar things about me, I suspect she’s not altogether comfortable with how she’s behaved, either.

      I know why I behaved badly in this scenario: because I sometimes lack good judgment, because I let unspoken frustrations build up to an unhealthy level, because I have some issues (including a learning disability) that have made work and my non-work life both extraordinarily difficult lately. In other words, I treated someone else badly because *I* have issues. I’m not proud of my issues; in fact, I’m mortified by them.

      I’ll bet on some level your colleague is also mortified by how she’s acted and is eager to have it behind her. If she truly is mentally ill, she herself probably doesn’t understand her own behavior, and/or is mortified by it. Very few happy, healthy people set out to alienate people.

      Be glad you’re not like her, and be cordial but distant if you encounter her again. I doubt she’ll give you any trouble.

    3. Diane*

      I left a bad work situation at the beginning of summer. My boss was horrible, and I hope I never see her again. On my last day, I channeled Alison’s advice and pretended I was a character in a Jane Austen novel, watching some very badly behaving people and playing a role. (I should win an award for my goodbye/I’ve learned so much speech). If I see her again, I’ll play the role of the gracious ex-employee and move on, because she no longer matters to me or my daily happiness.

      My friend told me I would be surprised how soon I got over that place, and I was surprised how true it was. Now, 3 months later, I’m so much happier.

    4. Chloe*

      Thanks for your excellent advice. There is a lot that strikes a chord there, I was actually thinking the other day that I needed to re-frame her as an ex-colleague, so that definitely makes sense to me. And I bet she does feel at least a bit bad about it. I hope so. Even if its just so that she doesn’t treat any future colleagues like that.

      The hardest thing is the constant questioning whether I personally did anything to deserve what I got, even though I do know, in my heart, that I didn’t.

      Time to turn the page. Thank you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Constant questioning: Doing self-checks is good. Beating yourself up over it is never going to be a productive path. Typically, the people who do the self-checks usually are not the ones have a major problem.

        I have an individual in my life that everyone adores. I think it is because she seems to be a high-energy active person that is knowledgeable in numerous areas. She’s magnetic for these reasons. However, in talking with her I found her to be lacking in empathy. (understatement)
        Others do not see this. In the end, I hung on to my saying, “People deserve to have friends. However, that does not mean I HAVE to be her friend. There are other people willing to do that.”

        Maybe in the future someone else will turn this woman’s thinking around and the problems you see now will be fixed.

        1. Chloe*

          Thats a great saying. It is really hard when you are affected by something that others can’t see, and it I guess it means you have to be mentally very strong in your coping mechanism because there is no-one else who can re-inforce it for you. Best of luck in dealing with your situation.

  25. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone ever paint over wallpaper? I bought an old, OLD house and it’s filled with printed wallpaper. I don’t want to take it down yet, because underneath is bumpy plaster. Not ready to deal with removing plaster yet. I’d like to paint over some of the wallpaper to make it look a little more put-together. The wallpaper isn’t really ugly, but nothing I own matches with it so pictures and things just look odd.

    1. krisl*

      Sometimes Home Depot gives free classes about things like this.

      If you do go to Home Depot when they aren’t having a class, watch out for the know it all’s who work there who don’t actually know much. I still haven’t figured out how to tell when someone there doesn’t know what he’s talking about (so far, it’s always been a man who’s done this).

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks. I wasn’t going to paint it. I wanted to hold out until we tear out the plaster and sheet rock it, but trying to hang my pictures today I realized that nothing looks right on these walls. I worry, though, that painting it will highlight all the bumps and waves in the walls that the busy wallpaper is hiding. I’m guessing maybe a semi-gloss paint might help with that.

          1. Windchime*

            What’s the worst thing that could happen? You already don’t like your walls, so you can’t be any worse. I would google it; there are tons of blogs out there where people do all kinds of home improvement stuff. I’m guessing that with some good primer, you could get reasonable results for the short term. And like you said, I’d use a flat or eggshell finish.

            I successfully painted over a lot of old 70’s panelling in my old house. I used a (very stinky) oil-based primer and then painted a couple of coats of paint over that. It drastically improved the look of the house and although it was a lot of work, I was happy I did it. Good luck!

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Yup, we have paneling, too…

              I’m going to try painting it. The only wall I’m really worried about is in the foyer. It’s a very busy wallpaper and when I run my hand over it, I can feel why it was chosen. Very bumpy. I will likely leave that one alone.

              1. Chris*

                I painted over my lumpy wall with a textured sand paint I picked up in the mis-tint section (super cheap!), and then painted my final color over that. It made the wall look like it was suppose to have texture, which helped greatly.

    2. Chuchundra*

      They make paintable wallpaper. You can put it over the current wallpaper, paint it and nobody will be the wiser.

      If you paint over regular wallpaper, it will probably not come out looking very good.

      1. Judy*

        We did this in an old house we had. I can’t speak to longevity, since we sold the house about 2 years later, but it was much easier than trying to remove 80 (!!!) years of wallpaper evenly.

    3. Sidra*

      I had to paint over wallpaper on one of my walls, and it looks fine. I did prime with some heavy-duty (oil-based) primer first though, as I didn’t want the water in regular paint to potentially reactivate the adhesive. It seems to have done just fine.

  26. salad fingers*

    Hey, anyone in the mood to cheer me up with a story about their worst landlord? Love my place, can’t stand the owner of the building. Trying to convince myself that there are worse out there :D

    1. C Average*

      No good stories, but I’m sorry you’re having to deal with this. It sucks when you have drama you can’t escape by being at home. Home should be a safe place from drama.

    2. Clerica*

      Well, let’s see. My very first landlord showed me the apt when it was in the process of being renovated. There was a huge plaster spill in the middle of the floor (this becomes relevant later), no fridge, no closet bars…there was more, but I forget. Anyhoo, he made a big deal about prorating rent so I could move in on the 23rd or something. I go in that day and there is a fridge in the middle of the living room and no closet bars. So I call to find out when they’ll be done and he says the fridge wouldn’t fit in the kitchen so I’d have to leave it in the LR. Never got the closet bars.

      They had put down dark green utility carpeting and at some point I tripped and realized they’d installed it right over that huge plaster spill. Which was, completely coincidentally, right where they’d put the fridge. (I ended up putting the fridge in the kitchen; it blocked the oven from opening all the way but somehow I wasn’t raised to have a fridge in my living room).

      Then let’s talk about my third to last roommate. It was nice at first; the house was clean and her two dogs were very sweet. Then she decided to rent to someone else who also had two dogs. They were part Jack Russell (HATE those dogs) and were so aggressive that one of the sweet dogs started peeing everywhere (I think this is a submissive thing with dogs). EVERYWHERE. Did she clean it up? Nope. Talk to the girl about keeping her dogs under control? Nope. Tell the girl she couldn’t have her boyfriend spend days at a time there even though the rule was no overnight guests? Hellz no.

      She had said in the ad that there was storage space in the garage. I had some boxes in the far corner and she claimed I was “taking over” the garage. So I moved. Her new ad was up for six months before she found someone. Meanwhile the wording on it slowly went from “driveway parking” to “parking in garage or in driveway with storage in garage.” So? That corner of the garage she just had to have cost her $2400 in lost rent and she ended up with less than she started with. I’m sure the difficulty in renting had nothing to do with the fact that the house smelled like dog piss in a fryolator.

      1. Clerica*

        Incidentally, I moved because of the dog piss/boyfriend, not the storage issue, lest it seem like I’m comfortable with dog piss but don’t mess with my storage space.

      2. FD*

        It often is a submissive thing. In the presence of an aggressive dog, many dogs will urinate to demonstrate that they don’t intend to challenge the more dominant dog.

        Some more anxious dogs also do this around their owners, especially when being scolded.

    3. krisl*

      Once the fridge (provided by the apartment) went out, and the landlord asked me how long I could go without it. I was a fairly broke college student, and I needed the fridge – I couldn’t afford to go out to eat every meal!

    4. Diet Coke Addict*

      I rented a basement apartment from a couple who didn’t really understand the concept behind a separate apartment. Though it was a separate, locked space, I would constantly come home to find my landlord in my kitchen with a million excuses–“oh I was just fixing something” “Need to look in your ceiling” “have to get under your sink.” We shared laundry, and the washing machine broke–his idea of “fixing” it was to watch Youtube tutorials, take it apart into a million pieces and abandon an entire disassembled washing machine in my kitchen for days. Thanks, buddy.

      They didn’t bother soundproofing between the floors, let ther four-year-old ride his tricycle around indoors and jump off his bunk bed onto the floor like fifty times a day, and constantly needed to be in my apartment. “Can we borrow your fridge for a bit?” They decided they didn’t like my boyfriend (now husband) and would watch him going to his car through the blinds, then told me “you aren’t allowed visitors more than one night a week.” (Separate! Apartment! Locked!)

      The kicker was when I was getting ready to move out, they asked if they could show the place to prospective tenants, and I said sure. It was neat, because I’m a clean freak, but when I came home the place had been totally organized differently. Everything in my cabinets was turned backwards, my desk had all my papers stacked into one pile rather than in three piles of papers, my books were reorganized, and the kicker was that I had left some folded, clean laundry on top of my dresser–they had gone through my clean laundry, found my clean bras, and stuffed them inside an empty purse I had sitting on the dresser. Incredibly weird.

      1. LibKae*

        Yeah, I had a landlord with boundary issues too. My roommate and I lived on the second floor of her house (separate entrance, locked door between the two sides), and she would periodically just walk upstairs to our apartment to chat. She was older (late 80s), and I decided it was time to move when she started forgetting that we’d paid rent … well, it probably didn’t hurt that the house was very old and had no insulation that I could tell. We were poor college students, so we kept our heat set at 65 degrees in the winter, but the apartment stayed so cold that I usually had on 4-5 layers at any given time. In spite of that, our heating bill still ran up around $300 – $400 a month.

    5. littlemoose*

      Not nearly as bad as the above stories, but I had a landlord who just kept putting band-aids on a very leaky roof. It leaked at least three separate times, and I was putting buckets and large bowls on my couch to contain it. Every time there was a hard rain and I wasn’t at home, I worried that I would come home to a soaked living room.

      The repair service was pretty terrible in general actually – not very responsive or effective. I had some small repairs that I just asked my boyfriend to do instead – they were done much faster and more quickly
      that way.

      I moved out a couple of years ago to move in with my bf, but I would have moved regardless. Not just because of the leaky roof, but because I also had some dodgy neighbors despite living in a fairly nice area. They’re another story though.

      1. NZ Muse*

        Had a LL who tried to blame us when the roof started leaking, and when the shower floor/base cracked. (Unbelievably, neither of those things were our fault.) Also didn’t fix our hot water cylinder for about a month – had to shower at work for a few weeks.

    6. V. Meadowsweet*

      had a landlord who was kind of a friend – I’d rented a room from her before moving to the basement apartment, and we’d still hang out sometimes. When my door was kicked in and I phoned to let her know, her response was ‘our insurance doesn’t cover you’. She never did arrange for the door to be fixed (a friend did a fix to hold it until we moved).

    7. ThursdaysGeek*

      Years ago, we had to suddenly move (our existing landlord forgot to mention that he’d rented out the place to college students coming in the fall until about a day before they arrived). Spouse and I had only been married for a few months, but were looking with a girlfriend of mine, so we needed a 2 bedroom place. We found a place, probably the only place in this college town on labor day weekend, and as we were talking, making arrangements, the landlord was doing the elevator eyes at my friend, up and down. It was so awkward, and I hated to rent from the creep, but we didn’t have any place else to go.

    8. Kirsten*

      The landlord at my last place was terrible. Shortly after moving in, I realized that my patio door did not lock, which was very not good as a single young female living in the apartment right by the entrance of the building. The landlord was not on site (in fact he lived over an hour away) and would not respond for a month to phone requests to have it fixed. A co-worker cut me a 2×4 to put in the track of the door as a temporary “lock”, but I ended up having to call the city building inspector to verify that yes, landlords were required to provide locks on all windows and doors, and then threaten the landlord to have the inspector come out and make a visit. The problem got fixed really quickly after that.

      Several months later, I got back from helping my parents clean up pieces of their house after it was hit by a tornado to discover that in the three days I’d been gone, a layer of white mold had grown on every wood or leather surface touching the floor. The landlord’s response was to come into my apartment and crank up the AC and turn on two ceiling fans. They also put two dehumidifiers in the hallway of the building, which ran for one day and then sat there since no one was around to empty them. The landlord actually blamed me for the problem, since I had “stacks of cardboard boxes all over the place”– I had about six boxes of stuff I’d just brought back post-tornado, so clearly that wasn’t the problem since the mold was there when I got back with the boxes. I was promised that someone would come the next day right before I left for work to spray anti-mold stuff around the whole place. It was recommended that it happen right before I was planning to leave, since the stuff can be kind of harsh. Not only did they not show up when they promised, but when I did finally get them to come, it was right after I had gotten home from work another day, so then I had to breathe the stuff. Oh, and the only reason they actually came to spray was because they waited for so long that I called up my buddy the building inspector again, and he said that all he could do at that point was to come out and condemn the unit. I also found out from him that another unit in the building had already been condemned for mold (and later found out that an upstairs neighbor also had had a mold problem, and the landlord had blamed her houseplants). I wrote a nasty letter saying that I was withholding rent until they fixed the problem, and if they didn’t do anything, they were one phone call away from having another unit condemned. I know that it wasn’t technically legal to withhold rent, but they weren’t smart enough to figure it out and at least kind of dealt with it, although I moved out about five months later when I got a job in a new city.

  27. C Average*

    I’ve done the most horrifying thing ever. Seriously, it’s beyond bad.

    The other day, as some of you may recall, the subject of whether to accept one’s boss’s friend request of Facebook came up. I mentioned in the comments that I’d felt pressured to accept my boss’s friend request and wished I hadn’t done so. Several of you, including Alison, advised me to adjust my settings to hide her activity from my feed and block my activity from appearing in hers.

    I did some research on Ye Olde Interwebs and learned that most people use the Groups function to do this. I created a group called “Friends I don’t actually like” and proceeded to add my boss, a peer, and a few other people I didn’t feel I could defriend but with whom I’d prefer not to interact on Facebook.

    Well, it turns out . . . the group was visible. My boss called me to tell me so. I expressed proper horror, assured her it was a complete accident and that I’d thought I was venting harmlessly in a location visible only to me, apologized profusely both on the phone and subsequently by email, dismantled the group as fast as I could, and deactivated my Facebook account because, clearly, I cannot be entrusted with social media privileges.

    I feel like Harriet the Spy.

    On the plus side, it opened the door for me to confess to my boss that I find the lack of boundaries off-putting and that I wish my work relationships could be limited to work.

    I have been looking hard for a new job. Now I am REALLY looking. I am going to keep my head down, be ruthlessly competent, and just not talk to people ever unless they talk to me first.

    (I know this is kind of work-related, but it’s sufficiently awful that it’s bleeding into every aspect of my existence at the moment.)

      1. C Average*

        Better than I would’ve. She wanted to know why I didn’t just de-friend people I didn’t want to be friends with. Yeah, in retrospect that would’ve been far better. I have a feeling work is going to feel very middle school for a while.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ouch. Not that it matters now, but I think the error was using Groups, rather than the Lists feature in your Friends section (which allows you to create different lists that only you can see).

      How did the part about wanting to have more boundaries go?

      1. C Average*

        Awkward, as best I can remember. To tell the truth, I’m not sure where we landed. She has a fairly thick accent and I have a hard time understanding her on the phone, plus my heart was thumping so hard I was struggling to focus on what she was saying. I think it was the most awful moment I’ve experienced since my senior year, when I confessed to my best guy friend that I was in love with him and he told me he didn’t feel the same way.

        I’ll tuck the list-versus-groups info into my back pocket, but I can’t imagine that I’m going to be back on Facebook in a long, long time, if ever.

          1. C Average*

            Thank you! This is how I put many experiences into perspective: “This will make a good story.”

      2. C Average*

        A follow-up question (and I know this calls for much speculation on your part, and is also job related, and I’m sorry for introducing that here but I’d really value your opinion if you’re willing to give it): could a person be fired for something like this?

        I know my manager doesn’t particularly care for me; for lack of a better description, there’s always just been weird energy between us, and we’re very different people. She’s been supportive of my desire to find a different role outside our group, and I think a lot of her impetus is a basic desire to not work with me. We don’t communicate much, and she nearly always cancels my one-on-ones. She’s gone months without talking to me at times.

        I’ve always received successful or better ratings and I know many people in our organization think well of my work. I also have a probably impossible to replace knowledge set and some unique skills.

        I keep trying to figure out how these various factors balance.

        I have to admit I hate my job so much that I’m not horrified by the concept of being fired. It actually makes me a little bit happy to think about it, even though I love the company and have been here for 7+ years and have colleagues I’d miss terribly. I have several other managers I’ve reported to who can and would give me a good reference if I needed to apply elsewhere.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think it’s very unlikely, based on what you’ve written here. It’s possible — you can be fired for nearly anything, after all — but it doesn’t sound likely. You’ve received excellent performance evaluations, clearly are valued there, and have a good reputation, all factors that make it unlikely. In addition, you’re in a large company with a decent management structure (if I’m right in putting that together from your other posts), which also makes it less likely.

          It potentially puts you at risk for chillier relations but it sounds like the two of you weren’t working closely to begin with. Chiller relations can potentially put you at risk for things like being her first pick if she’s told she needs to lay someone off. Warm relations can help with that. But honestly, that might have already been the case, based on what you’ve described about how she’s running the department and her desire to be buddy-buddy with people and your desire to have better boundaries.

          I do think that it would be worth thinking about whether there are ways to strengthen the relationship while you’re still working with her. It might be something like just making an effort to keep her in the loop on something you’re working on, or finding genuine ways to say something nice to her or your team as a whole, or attending a happy hour that you might have otherwise skipped. Nothing major, but if she’s now thinking “C Average hates us all,” showing her that you don’t — making it easy for her to think, “ah, okay, she just had a bad day that day on Facebook; it’s not a deep-rooted problem that I have to somehow handle.”

          (I do think that if it becomes part of a larger pattern, it could become more of an issue. Like if you stop getting along with colleagues, or yell at someone, or whatever. But if it was just a one-off thing, you can just find ways to help her see it as a one-off.)

          1. C Average*

            Thank you! I really appreciate a manager’s eye view of this. The advice to be friendlier than normal is especially welcome. I think my instinct in the wake of this fiasco was to put my head down and focus only on the work, and your reminder that some genuine friendliness could help repair the damage is a good one.

    2. Waiting Patiently*

      Oh boy! FYI for next time when/if you decide to reactivate your facebook account, you were under the wrong setting, that is done under your Friend list.

      1. C Average*

        When I reactivate my account, it will be under whatever name I choose in the Workplace Self-Inflicted Humiliation Protection Program. That’s a thing, right?

        Thanks to all of you who have commented here. I’ve learned my lesson, and this WILL make a good story as soon as I find another job.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I HAVE to go close my FB account right NOW.

          [Goes away muttering, “This could be me. I could do this. Yes, it could actually happen here.”]

          1. C Average*

            There are a LOT of settings. The Facebook settings are, I suspect, a minefield of potential opportunities to humiliate oneself and offend others. I had never tried to do anything fancy with my settings before; I’d always been of the “I am what I am, and if you send me a friend request, that’s what you’re signing up to see” mindset.

            1. Windchime*

              My ex-husband’s wife sent me a friend request recently. She apparently shares an account with my ex; their account is named “FredandWilmaFlintstone” instead of just WilmaFlintstone. Uh, no. Not happening.

              1. C Average*


                The ex-factor, plus the mashed-up identity . . . just ew.

                I love my spouse dearly, but hell will freeze over before we share an online identity of any kind or sort.

    3. krisl*

      Ouch! My general rule is to only things on FB if I’m comfortable with everyone seeing it, but it’s a hard rule to follow, especially when it comes to “liking” things.

      1. C Average*

        That had always been my mindset, too. It wasn’t so much that I thought anyone would have a problem with the things I posted; it was that I couldn’t go on FB without encountering people I was already seeing more than I wanted to, and I just didn’t want to see them THERE, including their responses to my posts.

        1. Anonymous*

          That makes sense. I have some friends on FB who I finally decided to unfollow. They’re still FB friends, but I don’t have to see their posts unless I feel like it.

      2. Melissa*

        This is my general rule, too, which basically means I don’t use Facebook very often and only post or like universally acceptable things. Even my politics basically stay off Facebook.

    4. Tomato Frog*

      I knew a guy who assigned very insulting nicknames to contacts in his email account, only to find out they were visible to the recipients.

        1. Tomato Frog*

          He did it when he was a student and a professor drew his attention to it. I don’t think there was any concrete fallout, though of course he was embarrassed and the professor probably had sour feelings towards him… He had the guy labeled “Shithead,” if I recall correctly. So, at least you can take heart that you could’ve used a much worse descriptor for your Facebook group?

    5. anon for this*

      I know I’m kind of late to the party on this, but thought I’d share just in case… be careful when you look at people’s profiles on a mobile device — it is VERY easy to hit the “add friend” button on your phone and it doesn’t ask you to confirm. I may know this because I was Facebook stalking a crush and sent a Friend request to his son (who has no idea who I am, but if my crush ever found out, boy would I be in a heap of trouble).
      Not nearly as mortifying as you, C Average, but I definitely feel your pain. Hope you can find a better situation soon.

  28. Stephanie*

    So read through my book on the plane a bit faster than expected. I still have 8 hours of airport time for my return leg. Reading recommendations? Preferably something I could find at an airport.

    1. Trixie*

      No suggestions but if anyplace needed one of those Free Little Libraries, it’s the airport.

    2. C Average*

      Hmmmm. A lot depends on the quality of the airport bookstores available. That’s hit or miss. Also, are you looking for escapist dreck, or edifying material?

        1. C Average*

          In that case, I second “Gone Girl” if you’ve not read it yet. It’s not like any other mystery/thriller I’ve read before. I think you’ll enjoy it.

        2. Jean*

          “Escapist dreck” is a wonderful pairing of words from two different languages (English & Yiddish).
          Thank you. This notion made my evening!

    3. krisl*

      Depends on what you like to read. Carol Higgins Clark has fun mysteries, and there is usually at least one in the airport store.

    4. littlemoose*

      Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn is excellent (gripping plot) and would probably be available at an airport bookstore. Jennifer Weiner books can be entertaining reads too.

    5. Observer*

      If you have email, have internet – download some stuff.

      Books: http://www.gutenberg.org/, http://www.feedbooks.com/, https://www.google.com/googlebooks/library/ (or their apps), and of course Kindle and Nook.

      Articles – Flipboard. Download the app and make sure that you tell it to down load the articles you want to read later.

      There are tons of podcasts available, as well. I found the WNYC app to be quite nice and made it very easy to find stuff and download for later listening.

    6. local gov't worker*

      I picked up Chuck Klosterman’s I Wear the Black Hat recently in an airport. It’s a set of humorous essays.

    7. V. Meadowsweet*

      I picked up ‘City of Bones’ (Cassandra Clare) on my last trip – YA fantasy & a pretty decent read.

    8. Sidra*

      Anything by David Sedaris – but I particularly like “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”. I picked up his newest book the last time I was in an airport, haha.

  29. Diane*

    My neighbors have been enjoying karaoke lately. Outside. With amplifiers. The singing is not even remotely close to good. Mine is terrible too, but I don’t amplify it starting at 9 am.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Do you have any friends that would rent you a dog that howls on command?

      If no, my little guy is available. He’s very loud.

      1. Diane*

        I have a dog who’s very curious and vocal, especially when the children shriek at her from the other side of the fence. She’s more puzzled by the “singing” though. Just wait until she hears sirens . . .

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Too funny. My dog’s breed has a strong howling tendency. If I start howling, he will howl with me. He’s also a talker with an opinion on EVERYTHING. Half the time I don’t even know what he is talking about, but he tells me all about it anyway.

          1. fposte*

            Is he a Northerner? My vet friends say those are the worst in the vet’s office, because they’ll start screeching just from touching the table. (You’d think the Arctic breeds would be the strong silent types :-).)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              He’s part malamute and part we-are-not-sure. I call him the malamutt. He is extremely tough, as you are saying. He does not seem to react to pain very much at all. A friend helped me get a tick out of his leg. That dog did not even flinch. He just laid there and watched, with his chin on his hip. (He’s incredibly flexible.) My friend and I were worried, but the dog showed no concern at all.
              So far he has done well at the vet’s. My biggest problem is that he feels EVERY thing deserves a clever response. No, it does not, just no.

  30. ella*

    (Deleted because work-related)

    When you start off with “This is actually work-related, but” it is a flag that you are flouting the rules and I’m going to delete it :)

  31. Clerica*

    Boy, that awkward moment when you reply to a comment while it’s being deleted and end up all alone. I do that a lot lately. :)

  32. Waiting Patiently*

    Right now I want one of my favorite childhood comfort foods. PB&J, crust removed, cut in perfect little squares. What’s your favorite childhood comfort food?

    1. Clerica*

      Progresso Minestrone with Goldfish crackers.

      But they’ve changed the formula since I was a kid. Also it used to be 50c a can and now you’re lucky if it’s on sale for $2.

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      Grilled cheese with tomato soup. The grilled cheese must be made with Kraft cheese on brown bread with margarine, and the tomato soup must be Campbell’s. There can be 3 pickle slices on the side, but no more.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Hey, that’s my childhood comfort food, too! Except the grilled cheese has to be on white wonder bread (of which I haven’t had any in my house in over 20 years).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Saltines with butter. I miss the Sunshine saltines that came with two small crackers joined in a rectangle like graham crackers. Now they’re all tiny squares. :(

      I also used to like a slice of bologna with mustard spread on it. Gross, I know, but it was good!

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        I actually like bologna with mustard. Now ketchup and bologna, that’s gross to me. My cousin would eat it that way.

    4. C Average*

      My mom’s mac and cheese, made with bechamel sauce and Velveeta, with bread crumbs on top. Washed down with chocolate milk.

    5. danr*

      In the summertime… fresh tomatoes off the vine, peas off the vine, string beans, lettuce, cucumbers. When you grow up helping in a huge garden you appreciate the snacks growing there. In the not summertime: pasta with anything.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        Growing up my aunt, who lived around the corner from us, grew everything. I wasn’t a huge veggie fan except for fresh cucumbers. I grew up in south where apple trees trees and blackberry bushes were plentiful–good snack while outside playing. I can’t even bring myself to buy blackberries in the store these day, except for rare occassions–they are way too expensive.

        1. C Average*

          I’ve been obsessed with cucumbers lately. We get smallish ones in our CSA box, and we just wash them and eat them like an apple. So refreshing when it’s hot out.

    6. Mimmy*

      Lovvvve PB&J!! Another favorite is Kraft Macaroni & cheese…and I mean the original kind with the powder mix, not the sharp cheddar kind my husband insists we get ;)

        1. Waiting Patiently*

          oh wait, I meant grilled! But I don’t really like the jelly inside when it’s grilled. Just bananas and peanut butter…so good.

    7. Anonyby*

      Grilled cheese sandwiches. White bread and kraft american singles, with both sides of each slice toasted.

      Also my family’s recipe for refried beans, eaten either with rice, or as bean burritos.

    8. Windchime*

      Popcorn made by my dad. It was such a treat and we had this electric popcorn popper , similar to this one:

      It had a small pinhole in the bottom where you put the oil and the popcorn, so many times there would be a spectacular little fire when he lifted the popper part out of the base. I remember summer nights when we would be playing outside and it was getting dark and Dad would go out to the kitchen and make popcorn. When we would go to the drive-in theater, he would make a couple of batches and dump it into a big paper bag to take with us in the car. Yum.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        A few days ago, I was watching one of my junk tv shows and somebody had frozen hot chocolate! I so can’t wait to do make this when winter comes. I’m love hot chocolate and ice cream in the winter–I think this is a perfect match for me on a snow day!

    9. PuppyKat*

      When I wasn’t feeling well, it was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup with saltine crackers. Even now that I’m an adult, chicken noodle soup with crackers will help make me feel better.

    10. reader*

      Baby food Applesauce and Apricots combination. One of the foods my mother would serve us when we were sick. But not the same since they took out all the sugar.

    11. Liane*

      Baker’s Semi-sweet Baking chocolate. My dad bought it for eating when I was growing up. Very good. One spring, when I was about 7, apparently he forgot to consult the calendar, and I woke him up to inform him tearfully the Easter Bunny hadn’t shown. He told me to go back to sleep, Bunny was just running late–so I did. Later in the morning, the living room bookcase was turned into an Easter basket, filled mainly with plastic eggs holding pieces of our favorite chocolate. I didn’t have a clue, was a very trusting Daddy’s Little Girl.

    12. Lola*

      Sugar sandwiches – a special treat I was permitted only if I had a really bad cold etc.. (with white bread and a thick layer of butter!)

    13. Sidra*

      Broccoli and cauliflower cream soup. Weird, I know, but it is sooooo rich and just tastes like a big hug. I should visit my mom and have her make me a batch :)

  33. C Average*

    I’ve been pondering this since I had a conversation with another commenter in yesterday’s open work thread.

    A year ago I was diagnosed with something called Nonverbal Learning Disability. I’d gone in for ADHD testing because I was having trouble staying focused on certain aspects of work and have always been flaky about certain aspects of my life, despite genuine effort not to be, and I was beginning to suspect something was legitimately wrong with me. I’d never heard of NLD before. I did a lot of reading up on it initially and then sort of forgot about it.

    This summer has been a special kind of hell for me. My husband and I have workweek custody of his two daughters (their mom has them two out of every three weekends), and they’ve been in different camps in different places every single week. Because of her work schedule, their mom generally can’t assist with drop-off or pick-up, so all the logistics have fallen on my husband and me. As a result, I didn’t get my walk commute to work or really any daily alone time, and it’s been too hot to go running on my lunch break as I’ve done in the past when I couldn’t get my walk in. I think I really rely on daily exercise and solitude, as well as predictable routines in general, to keep myself on an even keel.

    Work’s been really stressful, too. I’ve been asked to do more and more stuff that’s site navigation and graphic design oriented, rather than the pure copywriting and editing I’ve done in the past. I know at least one teammate feels I’m not pulling my weight because I avoid the graphic-oriented tasks whenever I can.

    When NLD came up in yesterday’s thread, a light bulb came on in my head. I realized a lot of the stress I’ve been feeling is related to the fact that I’m just not cut out mentally to handle a new schedule every week, or to take on graphic design tasks requiring spatial intelligence I just plain don’t have.

    Do any of you have learning disabilities that you have to work around? I want to have a conversation with my husband about how we can manage things better next summer, and I’m thinking about possibly disclosing my disability to my boss, too. I haven’t really talked to either one of them about it. I’ve told them both about the testing and the results, but it was a quick in-passing kind of conversation, and I’m 90% certain both of them have forgotten about it. I have a lot of coping strategies and mostly manage to keep it together, but I’m realizing as I look back that the stress had been building all summer and that I’m going to breathe such a sigh of relief when my schedule levels off in the fall and when I can find a job that doesn’t play to my weaknesses quite so much.

    I’m sorry this is so long. I’m processing out loud here. I have an appointment to talk to the psychologist who tested me. I think I do need a professional’s advice on this, but I’d really value any firsthand accounts, too.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I do, but it’s with math (dyscalculia). Most people have never heard of it and they don’t understand why I can’t do sums, etc. in my head, or they think they can teach me. No, that part of my brain doesn’t work that way.

      For me, I have to avoid things that are number-intensive. It limits the kind of work I can do, and I have problems handling money (and there is a weird thing where it’s hard to judge the passage of time when I’m doing something). I’ve spent years trapped in a cycle of what I can’t do, and I’m tired of it, and now I’m finally concentrating on what I CAN do. Really, I can do a lot more than what I can’t. So the one thing I’d say is don’t think about the can’ts. Think about how you can fit stuff around it. The psychologist may have suggestions for you—I hope you got someone who has experience with this sort of thing.

      1. C Average*

        I’ve heard of it! How old were you when you got diagnosed?

        Do you have a script of some kind for the people who are convinced they can teach you things you know they can’t? So far, I’ve just resorted to quoting Robert Heinlein: “Never teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.” But seriously, this stuff gets old. I’m 40 years old. You may be a gifted amateur teacher, but I doubt you’re going to be the person to help me learn to play chess or tell left from right without doing the “L” thing with my hand or get to a new place for the first time without getting lost or play a video game. You’re NOT. Because I am hopeless. If I am OK with that, why can’t YOU be OK with that?

        I like your idea to emphasis the cans rather than the can’ts. I do have a lot of those!

        1. FD*

          Oh God, I know what you mean about left from right. I can’t even use the L trick, because they both look ‘right’ to me. I have to think, “Okay, which hand do I write with?” because I know that I’m right-handed.

          When I was in amateur musicals, it drove the director crazy, because they’d be going “Right, left”, and I’d be four steps back, trying to translate that into a direction in my head.

          1. Felicia*

            I used to have that problem with left and right, until a few years ago when a malformed vein sort of bulged out on my left arm, and so now my left arm is the one with the bump on it that can never be gotten rid of.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            It took me the longest time to be able to tell left from right, and I still have to hold up each hand in turn, asking myself, “Is this the one I write with? No, this is the one I write with” in order to remember the difference.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It was in 2012! :P
          OMG someone who actually knows what it is!

          My tutor in high school apparently thought something might be wrong, but the only thing the school could offer me was time in the special ed room (called the Resource room now). I refused because I already was bullied constantly and if I had gone in there, it would have gotten worse. I was almost out, anyway.

          I just thought I was stupid in math until I got to music school in college and couldn’t learn my key signatures. Seriously, I would drill on them every day and the next day they were gone. I couldn’t read inverted chords either. That’s when I found out that your brain uses the same parts for music and math. It explained a lot, but I still didn’t know what the problem actually was until a couple of years before I was diagnosed. I was watching George Lopez and the kid, Max, said, “Wow, I have dyslexia and dyscalculia, and I got a double whammy,” or something like that. I was like, “What the hell is dyscalculia?” I Googled it and freaked out–the description could have been talking about me!

          It wasn’t until I went to Vocational Rehabilitation when I was unemployed that I got sent to an expert who tested me and finally diagnosed me. Shame that it took so long. And I probably should have gone to the ed room at school. :P

          1. Mimmy*

            Elizabeth – If it makes you feel better, I’ve heard of dyscalculia too, only because I was allllllllways reading about learning disabilities in trying to understand mine.

        3. krisl*

          What gets me is that it can easily be argued that you don’t ever need to know how to play chess or play a video game, and if you can tell left from right with doing the “L” thing with your hand, isn’t that good enough?

          Not being able to get to a new place for the first time without getting lost sounds painful though.

          1. C Average*

            It’s not that bad. I’m pretty used to it by now. I leave early for everything to pad in getting-lost time, and if I don’t get lost and instead reach my destination early, I buy myself a coffee and go for a walk.

            If I’m going somewhere new for something important, I take a couple of dry runs. And I never use maps; I pull up the Google Maps written instructions and then I actually write them down myself on a piece of paper. I find I recall them better that way and get a more solid sense of where I’m headed.

            My car is old and doesn’t have a navigation system, but my husband’s new car does. I occasionally drive it, and I LOVE the navigation system. I’ve told him I want one in my car for my birthday. It would honestly change my life.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I think I may have the same problem with finding a new place for the first time. I’ve started doing a Google street view dry run when I need to go to a new place — starting at my address and looking at every single piece of the route until I feel as if I’ve already driven it. I go by landmarks to find my way around, so if anything looks different, it really throws me off.

      2. Waiting Patiently*

        I’ve heard of this, I kind of think my daughter has it. Never diagnosed. Only my thoughts. But hers I believe is language processing, her math skills are exceptional. She’s won quite a few math awards. What I’ve noticed is that sometimes its really hard for distinguish between sounds. For instance, One day she was saying Lowes but it sounded like Loans. She just couldn’t get it right until like the umpteenth time–coaching about tongue placement and mouth form– she really thought she had been repeating it exactly the way I was saying it. When she was younger, I thought about having her tested but it didn’t and haven’t seemed to significantly impact her learning. She’s is in the 10th grade, pretty much a straight A student, and like you said I focus more on the cans than can’ts.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      No personal experience with that diagnosis but when my husband passed I was told widows that walk every day make out better in the long run than widows that don’t.
      Walking is very powerful. I have known couples that have used walking to help with their marriages. Such a simple activity, who would have thought?
      It’s a small point in a much broader subject, I understand. I just wanted to chime in that missing your walk that day is a big deal, you’re right.

      1. C Average*

        I’m sorry about your husband.

        I think walking has got to be one of the most soothing activities there is. Just put one foot in front of the other, repeat, repeat. It’s meditative. I swear it jiggles loose anything in my brain that’s making me anxious. I grew up in the country, and the bus stop was a mile from the house. I loved my daily walks to and from the bus. It was like a lovely transition ritual between home and school, a set of bookends for the day. My three-mile walk to and from work has always served the same purpose.

        A good walk can’t necessarily fix everything, but there’s very little it can’t improve.

      2. fposte*

        Somewhere I read a doctor talking about geriatric patients in the hospital, and he or she said basically anybody who walks a half an hour a day seems to have a much better outcome. Bodies need to move.

    3. Mimmy*

      I have learning disabilities too, but they’re very hard to explain. I’ve had various tests over the years, both in child- and adulthood, but I still can’t make heads or tails of it all. My biggest problem is that I have a hard time processing information very quickly. My husband sometimes compares it to a computer with a slow CPU, lol. I think disclosing to your manager could be very helpful, especially if it’s impacting your work and whether you think you might need accommodations in order to perform your best.

      Walking is very helpful – I find that it does help mentally, both with mood and in thinking more clearly.

      Elizabeth West – I hear you about the focus on the “can’t”s. I am limited in work and life, but a lot of it is self-inflicted. I really have to work on believing in what I CAN do.

      Off to read the convo in the work open thread.

      1. C Average*

        Mimmy, I don’t know about you, but for me getting a diagnosis was helpful in the sense that it gave me permission to acknowledge that some things are just always going to be harder for me than for other people. Maybe it’s like that for you: it’s permission to take a little longer than other people might need to make sure you have time to think deliberately and make good decisions. It’s “can,” but with a caveat: I can do this if I’m given the resources and circumstances to succeed.

        1. Mimmy*

          It’s “can,” but with a caveat: I can do this if I’m given the resources and circumstances to succeed.

          YES!!! I also have difficulty processing multiple things at once, such as a crowded mall or two people talking at once. So…yeah…it’s no wonder I struggle with traditional employment. Yet, when it comes to academics and my volunteer committees, I’ve done very well. That’s partly why I’ve been so excited to start my online class (just started on Thursday).

        2. Elizabeth West*

          This is true for me as well. It actually gave me something to process–“Okay, this isn’t my imagination, and I’m not stupid (seriously, I have an IQ of 136); there is actually something WRONG.” Then I could go, “Because I can’t do this, I have to do THIS instead.” I can’t do someone’s books, which really hurt me this last round of unemployment because the recession made so many offices consolidate positions. They had admins and receptionists doing accounting work that I could not do. That’s the reason I went to VR in the first place.

          But actually having a diagnosis and knowing just exactly WHAT the problem is was very validating–and liberating.

      2. Bea W*

        I am apparently a slow processor also. I was surprised when I was tested. I was always the first person done with tests and in class assignments. Pretty sure I cooked my brain some transitioning into adulthood. :/

        I also found out I have craptacular verbal memory but really good visual memory. I compensate by taking notes or reading the material, but I’m a slow reader. I found I’ve naturally developed ways to compensate for the deficits, and at work I stay away from writing as much as I can. The problem is I have compensated for my attention issues and slowness by becoming very good at being quick to get to the point when writing and being very clear, and people like that. So they think I’m really good at it and would prefer I do more of it. Ugh! No!

    4. FD*

      This isn’t quite the same thing, but my family autism/Aspberger’s very heavily on both sides (three of my five siblings have been diagnosed with it), so I have a lot of the traits, though in milder form. This means I can be overstimulated by having too much noise/irrelevant stuff going on, and also that I sometimes struggle to zoom out and see the big picture.

      I mostly deal with this by trying to get a little quiet space during my shift–when I was in food service, I would usually lock myself in the staff bathroom during my break for a few minutes with the lights off, and at the moment, I have my own office.

      I also gravitate towards jobs that are detail-oriented instead of big-picture oriented.

      1. FD*

        Oh, here’s another thing.

        I was never diagnosed, so this is an armchair self-diagnosis. But I’m probably somewhat dyslexic. I had a really hard time learning some of my letters, and still have to use a trick to tell right from left.

        I sort of developed some mental workarounds. When I read, I don’t really read the whole word; I process the first and last letter, and one or two letters in the middle (usually one vowel, and a consonant), and sort of mentally match it to a word, without really…I don’t know how to explain it.

        Like, the word ‘explain’, it’s not E-X-P-L-A-I-N to me. It’s ex—-a–n, which I can match with the concept ‘explain’ in my head. Ironically, because I’m not really reading the word so much as matching a few letters to the concept in my head, I’m a really fast reader–about 1200 words at casual reading speed.

        However, it means I have to be careful with documents where there may be lots of similar words. For example, I never could get through Lord of the Rings, because Sauron and Saruman ‘read’ the same in my head, and I kept getting confused.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Um, that’s how I read.
          And I could never get through Lord of the Rings, my secret shame.

          Shut. Up. Really?

          Well I am too old to change now and I like being a super fast reader.

            1. Judy*

              I’ve always said that was the biggest flaw in those books. Why Mr Tolkien did that, I’ll never know.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            I’m a very fast reader as well; there’s been some studies (or something) that point to the idea that skilled/fast readers recognize the “shapes” of words rather than the individual letters that make up the word.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          I had that problem with Lord of the Rings! I don’t do well when characters’ names are similar. Why, why would an author do that?

          1. Windchime*

            Too many Russian novels? That’s my problem with Russian novels; each person has a name and at least two nicknames, and all the names are similar so I can’t keep people straight. I’ve started Anna Karinina three or four times and I get lost about 30 pages in because of all of the names. It took me several false starts to get through Crime and Punishment and I only finished it because I decided to not worry about the minor characters that I kept mixing up in my head.

          2. Elizabeth West*

            Sometimes, that’s just what their names are. I have two main characters in Rose’s Hostage named John (Cook) and Joshua (Rose). I’m sorry but that is what their names are and I can’t change it!

      2. Mimmy*

        *raises hand* I get overstimulated easily myself. By the end of the day, sometimes all I want is SILENCE…not even the din of my husband watching clips on Facebook! He’s been really good about putting in ear buds in those instances.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I don’t have NLD but I have something that nobody has named yet because a spatial portion of my brain is missing. (I know a lot about NLD because I researched it heavily thinking perhaps I fit.) There are two main areas where the spatial thing is obvious: I can’t visualize or estimate space, what size box XYZ contents will fit in, and any sense of direction. I have lived in the same house for 18 years and cannot find my way home from anywhere. As in, work that is 10 minutes away that I go to and fro from everyday. (My husband drives me. I don’t spend hours per day lost. He still shakes his head when he is waiting for me in a parking lot and I walk out the store door and the opposite direction of where the car is parked. I’m like, hello, we have been together forever. I had a 50/50 chance of walking the right direction. Will never change.)

      You can see how that sounds like NLD but I don’t have many of the other adult markers, although childhood me would have aced the NLD childhood test.

      So that’s something and then of course ADHD. I’m not medicated for it. I do what a lot of adult ADHD people do which is develop a ton of compensating strategies + a strong affinity for caffeine.

      I agree completely about structuring your life to remove stressors whenever possible. Disclosing, not so much. I am open about the things that I am bad at, which, honestly, I am so good at so many other things, people can suck it if they have issues with me having a handful of things I’m bad at. I think people tend to eyeroll labels unless you have a well understood serious label to pull out and can respond better to “I am really not good at XYZ” than saying “I have dx ABC and therefore cannot do XYZ”.

      The key for somebody like me is: don’t try to make a living as a cab driver.

      Now! Warehousing and fulfillment falls under my umbrella. Has for over 20 years. I am not spatial. Hilarity often ensues. Also freight truck shipments and international shipments (which are all about space taken = $x. More hilarity. I recently implemented a complicated plan to peel off a good chunk of our sample shipments from UPS to USPS Priority Mail. It was my idea and my implementation and I spent hours upon hours back in the damn warehouse, making priority mail boxes and packing and unpacking them with various products to try to get something imprinted in my brain about what fit at what cost. I’d run back to my desk to write out the next part of my plan before it all left my brain, which it always does.

      The point of that story is that I’ve found I can accomplish some things if I concentrate very hard, to the exclusion of everything else, when I have to. It’s stressful and I do limit how much I have to do it.

      You could try this with the graphic portion of your task at work. You might conquer. If you do decide to try, I would be open about it to everybody. “This isn’t something I am naturally good at. I’m going to drop everything else for a bit to try to conquer this . You tell me how you think I did and whether this is something I should continue to do or if we are all better off if I stick to editing.”

      Suggestions from the field!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Curiously, btw, I am gifted at graphics and one dimensional visual tasks. Natural ability. It’s those couple extra dimensions that screw everything up. (Although I can’t process any kinds of diagrams and I get angry when people take perfectly good numbers and push buttons on Excel to make them into pictures I then can’t understand. I honestly get angry. Leave the numbers alone where I can understand them in their rows and columns.)

      2. Mimmy*

        What a great post, WTL! Seriously, you are one of my favorite posters here. I giggled in reading your parking lot story. I have a slight vision impairment but can see well enough to spot my husband’s car, usually by the color and headlights. Yet, I still sometimes find myself going the wrong way or, worse, starting to approach someone else’s car.

        I love your suggestion of how to address a learning disability. I remember telling my manager at an old job, and he didn’t believe me, probably because many people associate LD with dyslexia and not doing well in school, which is far from the case. My disabilities are not well-understood–even by me, so I like your verbiage much better :)

      3. C Average*

        This is actually a really good approach. I think it would not only be more likely that some of the graphics stuff would actually sink in if I could focus on it to the exclusion of everything else, but if I did that, the rest of my team might gain some insight into what I actually do all day if they had to do it for a few days to give me the space to try to acquire this new skill set. It’d be a win for everyone. (And I wouldn’t be surprised if they said, “Never mind about the graphics stuff! Just keep on maintaining the known issues list on the website so none of the rest of us have to deal with THAT can of worms!”)

        I love your story of the boxes. That’s something I can completely imagine doing.

    6. Liane*

      I have limited directional sense. I do much better with maps and written directions. In fact, when I took a refresher SCUBA course, my husband decide to teach me to use a compass on land, because he knew my original course hadn’t covered it and he was afraid that being underwater and learning navigation would be too much. Oddly I picked that up right away and *loved* it, to our surprise.
      The last 10 or 12 years, I’ve had an easier time finding my way to new places, and not just because there are so many ways to easily get directions. I realized that I navigate visually with landmarks rather than what direction something is; I often do not recognize a place if I am coming by a different route. So I now try even more to notice what’s along the way and at my destination, and I seldom try learning a second route until I am certain I have the first down.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I was fine in a city environment because I could just memorize the rules. Unfortunately, I now live in South Jersey where planning seems to have been done by folks on LSD throwing darts at board to make choices and then scribbling their hallucinations into street design. Swirls, turns, and loop de loops, and god forbid you miss your exit because then you have to drive five miles to even turn around which requires swirls and turns to get back on the same road going back the other direction again.

        Anybody living in SJ will attest to that.

        Give me city grids or give me the passenger seat.

      2. Mimmy*

        Dang….I think I’m a composite of all of you guys in this thread–I’m the same way with getting around. I always attributed it to my vision, though; because I can’t really see street signs from a distance, I taught myself to go by easily-recognizable landmarks and sometimes even the way the sun is at a given time of day.

        I promise you guys…I am not as pathetic as I’m probably coming across in these posts!! LOL!!

    7. krisl*

      Good for you for recognizing the problem!

      My auditory memory is not so good. I figured this out during a Spanish class in high school, but it took me a while to learn to deal with it. I just take tons of notes. The note taking has actually become an advantage.

      When I was in high school, we had a floating 7th period, and it would change every day. I kept a calendar to keep track of which day it was. In college, I had a list of what classes I was in, what time, and where they were because the first couple of weeks, I had to double-check them. Maybe keeping a detailed list would help with the constantly changing schedule? It really helps me.

    8. Just Visiting*

      I have ADHD, which is why any job that requires me to sit in front of a computer and wait for work is a special kind of hell. I have an affinity for risk and would probably be at my happiest employment-wise if I were deep sea fishing in Alaska or day-trading stocks but so far I haven’t looked into either of those career paths. Medication helps make it seem like having a steady job isn’t the Worst Thing Ever but I dislike how it impacts other areas of my life, so at this time I choose not to take it. For me, having an unreliable schedule actually works better than a straight-up forty hours a week, the steady grind is torture. I would never disclose my ADHD to an employer ever, because it’s got some pretty lousy PR with much of the population thinking it’s just made up or an excuse for laziness. To be fair, my ADHD does express itself as laziness a lot of the time but that’s because 75% of most desk jobs are BS and I have zero tolerance for BS. I’m also really bad at looking busy when I’m not, which is another important component of having a desk job. On the plus side, when I’m on, I’m ON, and I’m scary fast/accurate at things like data entry or filing. Basically, I work in hyperactive bursts of great intensity.

      I also strongly suspect I have some kind of auditory processing disorder. Conversations are extremely hard to follow when I can’t watch the speaker. I even went to an audiologist a few times when I was a kid, but there’s nothing wrong with my ability to hear sounds so my parents thought I was faking. Still, it shouldn’t be this hard to “hear” someone on the phone, or follow an audiobook, etc. CAPD is positively correlated with ADHD. I work around this by not taking jobs that require a lot of phone work and taking a LOT of notes. I’ve also told coworkers to please email me anything that’s really important because it will fly out of my head five seconds after they say it to me.

      1. C Average*

        Wow. I can relate to SO much of this!

        Dealing with BS (especially in an environment where you can’t call it what it is, but have to pretend it’s desperately important) makes me insane, too.

        I am also fantastic and scary fast when I’m under pressure. I *love* being under pressure at work. Give me an assignment with a tight deadline or put me in a product launch war room and I’m the happiest girl on earth. It’s when things are slow and relatively unimportant that I get lazy and aimless and procrastinate and forget stuff. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but once in a while I’ll get a total BS request and I’ll think to myself, “A million bucks says this one will die on the vine. Do I even bother?” For stuff like that, I almost have to put it off until the last minute; then at least the tightness of the deadline creates SOME sense of urgency, even if it’s artificial.

        I also have trouble processing auditory information. I pretty much have to take notes in meetings to get anything out of them. For really important meetings, I actually record them as voice memos on my iPhone and then listen to them while I’m out walking. There’s something about being in motion when people are talking at me that makes it endurable, while sitting still with people talking at me is really tough. I’m going back to school this year and I’m very trepidatious about it because it was so hard to sit in lecture in my previous school experiences. I’ve sat in on enough classes there to reassure myself that it’s interactive and relevant and, if I’m disciplined about writing things down in class, I *can* do this. Unlike my classmates, I won’t be taking notes on a laptop. That would just be a recipe for me spending my class time surfing AAM. When things get dull, the internet is like catnip for me. Can. Not. Stay. Away.

        Thanks for sharing what it’s like for you! It’s interesting to hear from people with different kinds of brains. NLD has a lot in common with ADHD symptom-wise; it’s just been shown not to respond to meds, so behavioral modification and adapting my surroundings are pretty much the only options for dealing with it.

        1. Just Visiting*

          For stuff like that, I almost have to put it off until the last minute; then at least the tightness of the deadline creates SOME sense of urgency, even if it’s artificial.

          Haha, YES. I’ve done this a ton. Also YES on the “easier to understand people while you’re in motion” thing. It’s why I love going on walks to work things out myself or talk things out with others.

          Were you diagnosed with NVLD after trying ADHD meds and finding that they didn’t work? I was diagnosed only after trying them and finding that they DID work, basically I have the combined type but the hyperactive component is off the charts for a woman so for years I thought I was just anxious. Then they were like “well, maybe it’s bipolar” but I refused to try those kind of meds. If you use caffeine and it makes you more calm or at least doesn’t rev you up, there’s a chance ADHD meds can work. The reason I don’t take them now is that they affect my ability to think abstractly and I didn’t like that. Not Internet diagnosing, but it’s pretty easy to tell right away if ADHD meds will work, they aren’t like other types of meds where you have to titrate up and you’d only have to endure one day of feeling speedy if they’re not right for you.

          1. C Average*

            I haven’t tried ADHD meds. Interesting!

            The psychologist who did my testing felt that I was pretty clearly in the NLD category and pretty clearly didn’t have ADHD. He said at the time that he’d write me a scrip for ADHD meds if I wanted to try them, but that he didn’t think they’d make a difference for me and didn’t recommend it. He seemed competent, the tests seemed thorough, and I had no reason to question the diagnosis, so I didn’t. I admit, given what I’ve read about ADHD meds, I was relieved that the doctor didn’t want me to go down that road. I worried about them affecting my creativity and energy levels.

            All the NLD descriptions I’ve read seem spot-on: I have the extremely lopsided intelligence profile skewed toward verbal, I learned to read early and have always had savant-level spelling abilities, I’ve always been clumsy and directionally challenged, I’ve always struggled to read social situations, I’ve always learned best by self-teaching using written instructions.

            I know that all procrastinators say this, but I really do use procrastination strategically and to my benefit. There are certain projects that cross my path that I can tell from the get-go are BS projects. Often, if I procrastinate, they get canceled because someone else realizes they’re BS projects. In that scenario, there’s no sunk cost on my part. If the project doesn’t get canceled, at least having a tight timeline justifies me blocking out competing demands (I prefer not to multitask) and creates a sense of urgency that’s interesting to me, even if the project itself isn’t interesting to me.

            I think I like urgent, single-focus situations not so much just for the urgency, but for the clarity they bring. I find that I’m often surrounded by a lot of noise, and it’s challenging to find the signal. When I have an important and urgent task, I can block out all the noise and focus and not feel guilty about it, which I find really wonderful.

            I occasionally use caffeine as an afternoon pick-me-up when I start to flag, and I do find it helpful for that, so long as I don’t consume too much! I’ve discovered that for me there’s a very fine line between just enough (I’m feeling alert and energetic) and too much (I want to crawl out of my own skin).

        2. LibKae*

          This won’t help with tolerating the lecture part of things (though, for me, obsessively writing down every word the professor spoke helped with that … well, it started because I couldn’t remember anything they talked about after class, but it ended up helping with the focusing too), but I’m with you on the processing-better-while-walking. I ended up going to my campus gym with my class notes, and just parking a binder on the front of a treadmill, and spent hours processing and walking. Walking outside is much more appealing to me, but I’m ridiculously uncoordinated, and wouldn’t have been able to walk and read at the same time.

    9. Anon*

      Severe ADHD, but primarily inattentive – I am not remotely hyperactive.

      There have been some work tasks that I was truly incapable of doing, but for the most part, the bigger struggle is how I’m perceived. I can look bored or tired when I’m truly trying to stay engaged. (I usually do feel bored at work, but I feel bored most of the time and that isn’t something that’s going to change unless I start getting paid for surfing the internet.) I have a hard time staying attentive when someone is talking for a long time and involuntarily zone out, so people may think I’m not paying attention to them. I do things intuitively, I can’t think about all the aspects of a new task at the same time and I just have to practice until I can do it intuitively – this doesn’t go over well with some employers who expect that once I have been told how to do something, I should be able to do it right. I also have a hard time following multi-step verbal directions. I need to be told one step at a time or have something written to refer to.

      Basically I have to overcompensate all day long in order not to come across as dumb or as intelligent but bored/careless/not listening to people/not trying hard. That compounds the issues because I am just too exhausted at the end of the day to work more than 40 hour weeks or to be charming at a happy hour (or go to a happy hour and not ache to be at home alone the entire time). I also have to have 9 hours of sleep a night and I absolutely have to be on a strict schedule for that to happen, so I go to bed at 8-9pm, so when I do socialize it usually messes up my sleep schedule.

      My solution has been to pursue a career in a field where remote freelance work is the norm. I know it will be a challenge for me to stay organized and never procrastinate but I am more up to that than I am up to being expected to pull long hours or work on weekends after being in the office overcompensating all day. It’s much easier for me to be alone in front of a computer where I can focus on just one thing than in an office having spoken conversations (requires a ton of energy for me to focus on listening and not interrupting), worrying about my demeanor, etc.

  34. Hummingbird*

    Right now, my life is the movie “He’s Just Not That Into You.” Guy tells me that we should “get together and get some drinks sometime” and then does the whole disappearing act. That was the last thing he said to me, and the only couple of times I’ve seen him since in passing, he’s been brusk, mentioned he’s been busy. Thought I found a good one because I enjoyed his company at a recent party amongst mutual friends. I guess I better listen to Jason Long’s character a little bit better the next time. Just feels like middle school drama which I don’t need right now.

      1. Hummingbird*

        I just read the other day that the movie was based off a book so I was going to watch the movie again and then get the book from the library.

      1. Hummingbird*

        Very true, but to make myself laugh, I nicknamed him “Figment” because the whole scenario must have been a “Figment” of my imagination. Funnier being that it is a cartoon character too! I’m straddling the line right though of just laughing it off and saying “WTF?”

    1. Windchime*

      Yeah, I don’t know what it is with guys but I have had so many do this. “Yeah, let’s get together! I’ll call you!” Then…..crickets. I used to call them, but no more.

      1. krisl*

        I think sometimes that “I’ll call you” from a guy is like “You’re nice, but…” from a woman, except I think “I’ll call you” could mean anything, and “You’re nice, but…” means “I’m not attracted to you”. I know I’ve used the “You’re nice, but” for a guy I didn’t think was nice, but I felt like I had to say something nice to cushion that I didn’t want to date him (once I got to know him a bit, I started thinking he was a real jerk).

  35. chai tea*

    I’m 34, and even though I have a lot of wonderful things in my life (vibrant social circle, loving family, job I actually enjoy), I don’t have a relationship. And now, more than ever, it’s really hitting me. Partly because even my other fellow long-term single friends have met people in the past year or two, and partly because I recognize how much I want to find someone, too.

    I recently read Sara Eckel’s book It’s Not You and found it really comforting, but ultimately, it doesn’t solve the problem. As she said, so much of meeting someone is just chance. I’m trying to get out there with online dating and setups, as well as shaking up my social life by joining new groups, but sometimes the sheer amount of energy involved exhausts me (a social introvert). I wanted to just spend this weekend doing nothing… but doing nothing with someone special, you know?

    Anyone else feel similarly? Would love to hear stories of people who were in the same boat and found love in their mid-/late-30s and beyond. I know it can happen; I see it happening all around me. I just hope it can happen for me.

    1. Clerica*

      I know how you feel. No one ever has any advice other than “going out” which doesn’t help me because the guy I want and would be compatible with isn’t out, he’s at home. And I had very bad experiences with online dating sites.

      The weird thing is that I’ll tell people I’m looking for someone nice in the hopes that they’ll know a guy personally, and some of them I know know guys like that personally, but it’s like they skip right over that possibility and jump straight to the “go to a club” option.

    2. C Average*

      I met my husband when I was 35. Actually, we knew each other casually quite a while before that, as we belong to the same running club. Back then, he was married to his first wife and wouldn’t have been my type even if he had been single; he was an engineer and a fast runner and had this impressive Ivy League type A background, while I was working at Starbucks and doing outdoorsy stuff and generally underachieving and enjoying myself despite being broke.

      Fast forward a few years, and we wound up talking at a club-sponsored party. By that time he was divorced and I had a stable job, so we were a bit more on-par lifestyle-wise. We were both casually dating other people. He emailed me a few days later to say something like this: “You have a great sense of humor and seem fun. We should be friends and hang out. This is totally NOT a date, but do you want to go out for sushi with me sometime this week?” I think he knew I’d say no if I thought it was a date. After all, he was a bald Jewish engineer with two kids. I was a militantly childfree Quaker who dated snowboard instructors ten years younger than me. Neither of us thought we were looking for commitment of any kind or sort. He just had the sense that we’d be kindred spirits.

      I agreed and said yes. The rest is pretty much history. We’ve been together going on six years, married for nearly four. (We broke up briefly because I felt the kids were a deal-breaker, but I soon realized I’d never meet someone like him again, and that I could be a good fun-aunt figure to the kids rather than trying to be something maternal that I’m patently not.)

      I’m glad I took a chance on someone who’s not my type, and I’m glad he had the sense to use a just-friends approach initially. It never would’ve worked otherwise!

      1. Trixie*

        Dating someone with kids, I’m not sure I’d lean towards that either. And yet when looking at the social scene in my 40s, so many are divorced and many of them with kids. In theory I wouldn’t rule anything out of the bat but I certainly am not seeking it out. Just another thing to keep an open mind about. My bigger issue is looking at communities with a diverse population of married/single/kids/no kids.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I love your story. Congrats to the both of you- in the end you both had the good sense not to walk away.

        1. C Average*

          Thanks! I forgot to mention one important thing: the weather played a huge role in our relationship. Portland had a freak snowstorm just a few weeks after we struck up our friendship, and both of our workplaces shut down for several days. He (now we) lived in a very hilly part of town, and he invited me over to go sledding with him. You’d have to have a heart of stone NOT to fall in love while sledding with your fun new friend during a work snowday. It’s straight out of a romcom.

    3. Ruffingit*

      I met my husband right before I turned 36. I’d been married and divorced so I’d done the bad relationship thing already. I wasn’t looking to meet someone, but it happened. So there is hope.

    4. Chuchundra*

      I met my wife through internet dating. The key to successfully using internet dating is to understand that it’s all a numbers game. The more people you meet, the better chance you have of finding someone special.

      To that effect, don’t get too hung up on one prospect. Exchange a few e-mails back and forth to do rudimentary pre-qualification and then meet in person and see how it goes. If it doesn’t work out, don’t fret about it, just move on to the next one.

      Always meet for coffee. Never go for drinks or dinner on a first meet. That way if they’re not a fit, you can pound your latte or chai and be gone in fifteen minutes. If they are a fit, you can end up talking for hours and then be married two and half years later.

      I did internet dating for about a year until I met the woman who would become my wife. I had a lot of fun and met a lot of very interesting women.

    5. BB*

      I’m 32 and single. You can’t rush it. It will happen, when it happens. In the meantime, enjoy your single life. Go travel, go out, have fun. Do things your married friends can’t do. :)

      1. C Average*

        YES. I love being married, but sometimes it sounds like heaven to have the house to myself or to make spontaneous plans without consulting anyone. Enjoy these things while you’ve got ’em.

    6. Anonyby*

      I’m in a very similar boat! Single, and wishing I had someone. I’m more social phobic than introverted, though. I love going and hanging out with friends, but I find work parties, parties where I don’t know most of the people, or going to a new group where I know no one extremely stressful. (There are exceptions, I can go to theme parks on my own and be fine since I don’t have to interact with anyone beyond the park employees.)

      As far as my group of friends go… all except one are in committed relationships, with most of the SOs also a part of the group, including my best friend (who IS introverted). And the that is single like me… while I like him as a friend, there is zero chance of me developing non-platonic feelings for him.

      And as far as vacations go… I hate going on them alone! Nearly all of my vacations have been either with family or my best friend. I’d really like someone I could go on vacations with (at least once I have the money for them again). The family members I enjoyed spending time with on vacations are gone, and I’m hesitant to ask best friend, since she’s married and enjoys her vacations with her husband and family.

    7. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I was 36, with two small children, and recently widowed when I met my current husband. He was 41 and never married, although out of a 10 year LTR.

      We were a fix up between mutual friends. I was the young widow with two beautiful children and he was the only single guy they knew.

      We were introduced at a party the kids and I were invited to for the express purpose of the introduction. It could not have gone worse. Turns out, he was massively hungover, but the guy I met was neither handsome nor interesting nor overly interested in me. I called another friend afterwards and said “not even close!”. He thought I was pretty but that was about it.

      What happened next is that the mutual friend lied her ass off to both of us. Both of us told her we weren’t interested, or at least I did clearly as in, “I am not interested. I do not want him to call me.” She told both of us that the other party was very interested.

      So, about five days after the party, he called me. The kids were asleep. I was alone and recently widowed and lonely. I saw the caller ID and said, “no way” and let it ring a few more times and then said “oh what the hell” and picked up the phone.

      After a couple dates in quick succession, we’ve been together every day since. 18 years. Love of my life.

  36. Ruffingit*


    What was the best part of your week?

    What was the worst part of your week?

    1. a.n.o.n.*

      Best: Staying home sick for a day. I was sick, but I didn’t have to go to work.
      Worst: Coming back from my sick day and having my boss be back from vacation.

      UGH I need a new job.

    2. C Average*

      Best: Got accepted to a local executive MBA program for this fall. It’s going to be a challenge, I know, but I’m excited at the chance to learn new things and meet new people.

      Worst: Managed to insult my boss and a colleague on Facebook due to my imperfect navigation of the privacy settings. *Cringe*

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Best: got some work done on Secret Book, and have a three-day weekend. Also, at this moment, 25 more days until I leave for my holiday! I’m counting days now.

      Worst: ALLERGIES. I cannot get rid of the congestion, headache, and stuffiness. I hate ragweed. Going to have to go back to the pharmacy and see if I can score some of the stuff behind the counter.

      1. danr*

        Have you tried mucinex? I’ve found that it really does work on all types of congestion and stuffed noses. Maybe there will be an early frost.

      2. Stephanie*

        Have you tried a neti pot for the congestion? Gross, but I find it does thin out the mucus.

        Supposedly eating local honey helps with allergies. The thinking is that the bees’ pollination of the local flora helps build immunity. I have no clue if this is actually true, but at worst you end up consuming some delicious local honey.

          1. Cruciatus*

            It sounds like my allergic reactions aren’t as strong as yours, however, I didn’t think I could do the neti pot either but it hasn’t been so bad. The first time I did have a second of panic until I realized I could still breathe through my mouth. And yes, it’s very unattractive, but it has helped my allergies (though I still do need an allergy pill–but I need them less often). And I don’t have blood noses any more (which I think is from all the dry air from living in air conditioning). They really can work wonders! It doesn’t feel like when you get water up your nose while swimming (unless you snort at the wrong time). It’s slightly weird at first but not painful in any way. Just weird. And there’s no real mess if you do everything over the sink. Just be sure not to use tap water. I got a CVS brand starter pack that came with the pot and some saline packets.

            1. fposte*

              I use tap water, but I boil it for five minutes first and then let it cool. NIH says that’s safe.

    4. danr*

      Best: I’m walking around the house without the cane. I’m recovering from back surgery. And the pain from the herniated disk and sciatic nerve is still gone.
      Worst: getting antsy and want to do more. But know that it’s not a good idea.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Don’t do too much! You’ll regret it!

        Maybe find something you can do that will keep your hands busy and then it will feel like you’re doing something?

      2. fposte*

        You know I’m paying serious attention to your convalescence, right :-)? You may need to be my role model, so I’m delighted you’re doing better.

    5. Trixie*

      Best: Received a recall letter for almond butter I’ve been buying at costco since forever. The manufacturer was offering full refunds for any bought to date in 2014 and I ended up getting enough back to renew my membership.

      Worse: I’m not getting a full reimbursement for training I paid for out of pocket, shorted about 30%. This could have been explained in much better detail early on and wasn’t.

    6. Mimmy*

      Best: FINALLY started my class!

      Worst: My husband has been having pain on his side, and we think it might be some sort of hernia or injury in his abdominal wall :( He couldn’t even get in the car when we tried to go to Walgreens earlier. He probably won’t be able to see a doctor at least until Tuesday unless we go to urgent care before then.

    7. Gene*

      Best: We got the office kitty scanned, no chip and it doesn’t match any kitty in the missing cat book.

      Worst: I’m supposed to go diving with the club tomorrow, but I’m too congested to do it safely.

    8. Windchime*

      Best: Had the week off work and haven’t thought about it a bit. Finally got a little bit of the bedroom painted after trying out 9 (yes, 9) different samples of paint on the wall.

      Worst: My ankle is still giving me trouble, some 10 months after having extensive repair. I may have to have it re-done. I am super bummed out at the thought of another 6 weeks of non-weight bearing life in a two story house.

    9. Anonyby*

      Best: Took some long-overdue items to the recycling plant for money (mostly soda bottles, with some soda cans). Then the next day I took the money from that and treated myself to a trip to the beach boardwalk. :) Hadn’t been to the beach or an amusement park in far too long.

      Worst: Completely flaked on the job hunting I was supposed to be doing.

    10. PuppyKat*

      Best: Holiday weekend!

      Worst: Getting more and more frustrated with my boss. I’m trying to come up with some different approaches that might fix the problem, or at least make life at the office more bearable.

    11. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Best: hubby got an AMAZING job in his desired field, which he was completely headhunted for, it’s super-exciting.
      Worst: I’m into week 3 of a horrible cough that just. won’t. die.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I feel you on the Jason/Freddy/Michael Meyers cough that won’t ever die. Had one of those myself the last 8 weeks. It’s finally dying down. Hope you feel better soon.

    12. Jen RO*

      Best: I was on holiday in Finland until Tuesday, and my Internet friends rock. (My boyfriend and I tend to choose our holiday spots based on where our WoW guildies live….)

      Worst: Bad planning led to long days at work after I got back. My sort-of-team-lead said at 11 am that he doesn’t need help, and decided at 5 pm that he actually *did* need it.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I love your travel priorities! If DH and/or I had more time for travel, running around the country meeting some of my virtual friends would be high on my list. :D

    13. Stephanie*

      Best: Friends are getting married this afternoon. Got to Indiana last night and it’s a reunion with all my old friends from DC. It’s been a boozy affair, so next week’s worst may be the hangover.

      Worst: Some bouts of insomnia this week. :( I get tired, crawl into bed and then just can’t fall asleep. Some of it is that our house gets pretty warm at night. Some of it is anxiety. Thought I had the insomnia under control, but it’s been back.

    14. Liane*

      Worst: Finally went in to the clinic, got treated for what I’d been hoping would just go away with home treatment. Was feeling dragged out all week, even after the first couple days on antibiotics–but still had to go to work. We need the money and I don’t need another attendance ding on my record after last winter’s absences for weather (OK’d) & illness (counts against you).

      Best: My friend mailed me the latest books in the Star Wars roleplaying game line, that he’d picked me up at GenCon. AND the publisher of the line finally announced another sourcebook was being released! A title I got to Officially Playtest! I was part of a group run by Friend. And we had to keep it secret (per the NDA/non-disclosure agreement) until Stay on Target was announced. I still can’t say much more, except it was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to seeing the final product. Some of the game’s developers frequent the gaming website I moderate, and one has asked our impressions about his portions–but I am still mulling what to say and how to say to him. I don’t want either of us to violate our NDAs, since I know some clauses on mine, & presumably his, will still be in effect after release.

      1. Anonyby*

        Awesome on the game! My group is considering playing a Star Wars game, though that’s one of the newer additions to our Giant List of Games to Play. We currently have five games running in rotation, plus one we’ve already built characters for, and a few others that we haven’t done character creation yet. And one that we set aside that might get brought back.

    15. Anon for Work Details*

      Best: Got pulled into my boss’s office on Wednesday, told that I’m awesome and that I’m being given a bonus for my work on Current Huge Project (and hinted at a promotion/raise as well).

      Worst: Discovered on Friday that a major component of Current Huge Project (which launches Tuesday) had gotten screwed up, and spent a good chunk of the day fixing it instead of following up on my laundry list of other last-minute details.

    16. Waiting Patiently*

      Best: I ran 2 laps around the track yesterday.
      Worst: I’ve been in a f***k it funk, I’m beginning to creep out of it though ;)

    17. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: Getting hired at my university boss’s private firm — woo hoo!! (still smiling over this!)

      Worst: the dean didn’t take it well and chastised me over the way I delivered my notice to him until I had to cry in the bathroom, off and on, for a couple of hours of my workday on Monday morning. He is a new dean, has only been with us for less than two months, and he took my leaving personally. My two bosses had to intercede for me with him; they each told me (and told him, too) that they didn’t see anything wrong with the way I delivered my notice. I still feel a little cautious of interactions with the new dean, because his reaction was so unexpected and unpredictable to me, I’m worried that I don’t have a good sense of what to say/not say to him. I’m mostly just talking to my bosses and letting them handle him.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Sucks the new dean took your notice so badly. It’s always bizarre to me when someone does that. Notice can be personal as in “You suck so badly that getting out is my only recourse,” but with someone who’s been there two months, I highly doubt that is the issue. Therefore, his taking it personally is weird.

    18. Another J*

      Best – I finally asked my boyfriend to marry me. It could have went better. I have thought about it for well over a year, debating how to do it, etc.
      Worst – he think I asked him if we could be roommates. He is currently looking into finding a two bedroom apartment so we can each have our own room.

      I’m not giving up. I just need to be more direct. I wandered around the subject way too much, hoping that he would get the hint that I wanted to discuss marriage. I just grew up thinking that the guy asks the girl and it wasn’t happening. We have been dating for four years. There is no baby time clock ticking since we are both middle aged. I just have an intense fear of weddings (jilted at the altar years ago) and it is tough subject for me to talk about.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Yeah, this is something you need to come out directly about. “I want us to get married. What do you think about that?” You have to be on the same page about this. Good luck!

  37. Dr. Speakeasy*

    I’m looking for healthy meals and snacks that travel well. I have a long schedule on Tuesday and essentially need a pre-class meal/snack, a post-class mean/snack and then dinner before the night class. Right now it ends up I think about it Tuesday morning, then there isn’t anything in the house and then I’m eating not-great stuff that is available on campus. I’m trying to up my protein intake while keeping my fat intake down.

    1. chai tea*

      How about:

      String cheese, sliced peppers and hummus
      Individual Fage yogurts with honey
      Almonds in fun flavors (I have soy/wasabi and BBQ/habanero at home right now)
      Whatever fruits you like
      Trail mix
      Dried spicy mango from TJ’s (so good, and travels well!)
      Those Thai chili lime cashews from TJ’s

      Some combination of rice, black beans, avocado/guac, salsa, cheese, corn
      Giant salad (put the dressing on the bottom of the Tupperware. Then shake it up when it’s time to eat)
      Grilled protein (chicken, fish, other meat, veggie burger) on top of greens, quinoa, rice, or pasta, mixed vegetables and your favorite dressing/sauce/hummus

      1. littlemoose*

        Depending on the OP’s diet, almonds may have too much fat content. I had to do the low-fat diet thing for a while (medical reason) and almonds, while one of my favorite snacks, seemed too fatty for me to eat. Just a fair warning about nuts in general. Avocados and cheese can be pretty fatty too. Which sucks, because they are yummy.

        1. Anonymous*

          Yep, the almonds are a little higher in fat then I would like. But still might be a decent choice for getting through the two class afternoon swing, because if I’m going to eat them might as well be right before teaching for four hours straight.

    2. skyline*

      This sounds like my old grad school schedule! I used to pack apples and cheese for snacks – I liked the contrast of textures, and there was enough fiber, fat, and protein to help me feel full. I also almost always had an emergency granola bar or trail mix bar for a midday pick me up; it helped me resist getting a pastry when I stopped to get my inevitable refill of my coffee travel mug.

      Do you have access to a refrigerator or microwave? That would affect your options for dinner if you’re carrying it around with you all day.

        1. skyline*

          Mason jar salads, mentioned below, are great and easy to prep in advance. I find that if I prep them on Sunday night, they’re good until about Thursday if you put dressing on the side. I prefer to eat warm foods, though, in fall and winter, so as the temperatures change, I might consider bringing a hearty soup. If you make it at home, it’s pretty affordable and easy to tailor your nutritional needs. A bean chili would also reheat well and have plenty of protein.

    3. C Average*

      Great suggestions above.

      Additional thoughts:

      Cereal (if you have access to milk)
      Celery with peanut or almond butter (hey, a jillion preschoolers can’t be wrong)
      PB&J (if you make them on frozen bread in the morning, they won’t get mushy and they’ll be thawed to perfection at lunchtime)
      Microwave popcorn, if you have access to a microwave (throw on brewer’s yeast for nutrition and extra flavor)
      Sugar peas
      Dried seaweed (they sell it in snack-sized packs at Costco and it’s really good!)

    4. Judy*

      We’ve been experimenting with Mason Jar salads at our house the last 3 weeks. I was looking for something to have that was different for lunch. There are lots of recipes and tutorials on the internet. You make them on Sunday and have them all week.

      You layer:
      crunchy veggies
      less robust veggies
      protein (meat, cheese, beans)
      pasta (if the recipe calls for it)

      You tip it out into a large bowl or plate, and you end up with a salad in reverse order of how you packed it.
      They seem to hold up well after a Sunday preparation, and just grab it out of the fridge daily. You do have to have access to refrigeration during the day.

    5. Sidra*

      Fruit! Pretty much all fruit is tasty and very packable. If you need to add protein, add some nut butter to smear on it.

      Costco has a lot of reasonably priced and healthy protein bars too.

  38. Geegee*

    My mother does not work and currently has no income. I don’t know how to help her, I’m afraid she’s basically unemployable. She tries but she also has several limitations. She’s in her early 60s, her English is very limited, she doesn’t drive, she has no computer skills. Her savings are limited and she relies on her husband and myself for money. It’s very frustrating. I don’t mind helping but I don’t make that much money and I am not able to save anything. She was a professional before coming to the United States. We left due to political instability when she was in her late 40s. She was able to get jobs in day care centers back then but she had to quit at some point to care for my grandmother until she died a few years ago. I know she wants to work but I’ve tried find her jobs but nothing works out. She’s depressed about being dependent and I hate that I’m starting to resent her.Any tips on how to deal?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am not clear on how she is doing– is she able/interested enough to learn English and learn to drive?

    2. Ruffingit*

      Is she willing to do domestic work such as cleaning or in-home babysitting? Honestly, with the limitations you describe, it seems those might be the only viable options.

    3. C Average*

      Could she do transcription in her native language? Depending on what language it is, there might be work-from-home opportunities there.

      1. Geegee*

        Thanks for that suggestion. I just found an agency that hires people to do this kind of work from home so I sent in an application for her.

    4. AcademicAnon*

      Maybe find an ESL class first? Then maybe she can network with those people that are taking that class?

    5. Aam Admi*

      If she is a decent cook, one option would be to advertise in ethnic stores or through your social circles that your mom can do food orders for small families. There were a lot of times when I was so busy at work, had no time to cook and could not eat out every day. Would have gladly paid a good sum to stock my fridge weekly with simple home cooked ethnic food.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t know if you are still reading, but is there a church near her that has people speaking the same language? (Maybe church is not her thing…)

      Are you familiar with time banks? I have heard some great stories about people with language barriers doing well with time bank folks.

      1. Geegee*

        Thanks for the responses. She actually goes to an ethnic church every week and she is active. It’s pretty much her only activity. The problem is during the week she kind of sits around with nothing to do.
        She was enrolled in ESL classes in the past. After a while, she quit because she found those classes to boring and she wanted more interesting classes… So she enrolled into different classes and actually graduated with an associate’s degree in a program related to what she had done in the past. I’m not really sure how she did because she doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer, let alone check an email. Her nieces and nephews would check her email for her and translate her assignments for her.
        I’m just really frustrated with this and I know it’s harder for her but I also feel like she doesn’t try hard enough. I tried helping her apply to home health aide jobs but most of the agencies I’ve seen want people to have their own transportation to go see their clients. She has a driver’s license but it really was just for the satisfaction of having it. either her husband or I take her where she needs to go. Other wise she will take the bus. If there is not bus she will call a cab.

        1. fposte*

          Does the church have anything like a job board? I know in some areas there’s a lot of intra-community hiring, especially for stuff that involves being in people’s houses or working with their kids. It sounds like she might have some conflicting impulses, though; she doesn’t like being dependent, but she doesn’t persist if stuff doesn’t suit her taste.

          Who’s actually supporting her at this point–is it you, her husband, or both? Is she eligible for spousal social security? http://moneyover55.about.com/od/socialsecuritybenefits/a/socialsecurityspousebenefit.htm

        2. Observer*

          Get your mother checked for depression.

          And, if you are in a city with decent public transportation taking the bus is a great idea – encourage that.

        3. krisl*

          I wonder if people would want to take lessons in learning her 1st language? Working with kids and helping them learn a new language might be perfect.

        4. Sidra*

          Does she like to do any sort of arts or crafts? I don’t know which part of the world your mother comes from, but if she does any sort of unusual art (like Uzbek embroidery, African mudcloth, etc.) of that area, she could potentially be self-employed as a craftsperson. Etsy (with a computer-literate person’s help), farmer’s markets, and other places like that could be a source of income to her. Even if it didn’t make her that much money, it might be a way to help her get doing something, and less depressed, and perhaps more willing to try harder in other areas. I like to collect interesting non-Western crafts/goods (mostly African and Turkish textiles and Egyptian brasswork), and wish I could find practitioners of my preferred crafts in the USA!

    7. Observer*

      If your mother is in a reasonably large city, there should be either an agency for aging populations – either sate or city level- that you can talk to. In New York City, for instance, it’s the NYC Department for the Aging. They can often direct you to resources for things like improving your language skills, job hunting etc. Also, in many cities unemployment offices can point you to resources.

  39. Windchime*

    My son is getting married in 3 weeks. What’s that, you ask? Do I have a dress yet? Why yes, yes I do. In fact I have four. And I’m not crazy about any of them.


    1. BullyFree*

      Maybe consider wearing the most comfortable so that you can enjoy the day celebrating in comfort?

      1. Windchime*

        This is a good idea. I tried on one today (while I was purchasing dress number four) that fit really nice, but it was made of a heavy “swim suit” knit fabric and I knew I would be a sweaty mess if I bought it.

        I have a ankle impairment that makes it difficult for me to exercise right now, so I’m heavier than I’ve ever been. So I could find the loveliest dress ever and still not like the way I look in it. I just have to keep reminding myself that all eyes will be on the bride, not me.

        1. Stephanie*

          I’m going to a wedding tonight and am having the same “I look horrible in this” neurosis about my dress. Spanx have been packed.

          1. Windchime*

            Argh, I’ve only tried Spanx (the Target version) one time and I was horribly miserable the entire time. Is there a trick to wearing it that doesn’t leave a person all hot, sweaty and uncomfortable? I didn’t think I looked different enough for it to be worth the discomfort, but other people swear by it. Am I doing it wrong?

            1. Stephanie*

              Hmm. I find them ok, but I haven’t done the full-out girdle thing. I just have a slip and some tights. I found the key is to be certain to buy your size (and er, be honest about your weight). I found a slip helped smoothed out my midsection, but yeah, it didn’t suddenly transform me from a size 14 to a size 2.

        2. patty*

          I’m late to this, but just saw your post. My daughter just got married last weekend. I had three dresses – yeah, because I’m three sizes bigger than I’ve ever been and nothing looked good/felt good to me. I wore the prettiest one with the fanciest fabric (taffeta) and also took the position they would be looking at her, not me. It worked! All eyes WERE on her (and him- he’s adorable). Good luck and congratulations!

        3. Turanga Leela*

          The “all eyes on the bride” thing is a great thought. Consider getting a professional blowout and makeup, if that’s an option, and practice your smile for photos. People will notice how happy you look, not your weight. If you have the budget for it, buy a good new bra (I know my bra size changes when I gain or lose weight) and get one or more of the dresses tailored. A tailored dress will fit better and feel more flattering.

          Lastly, try on the your dresses in front of a nice but honest friend to see if you need different accessories or undergarments. I went to a wedding where the MOB picked out her dress at the last minute, and she looked great—except that the dress was see-through in direct light, and she wasn’t wearing a slip.

          Congratulations on your son’s marriage, and I hope you have a great time at the wedding!

    2. ThursdaysGeek*

      Goddaughter is getting married in 2 weeks, and I’m essentially the mother. I hate wearing dresses, but found a gorgeous wrap around skirt made of sari material and designs at the local art fair. It’s emerald green and black and gold with an underlayer of purple and orange and gold, and it’s been really hard waiting to wear it. Do you want to borrow it?

  40. Al Lo*

    Last weekend, I was at a Doctor Who premiere party with some friends, and after the show was over and we’d all gorged ourselves on popcorn, the host handed around a bag of floss picks, which they keep in their living room because one of her roommates wears invisalign and they all eat popcorn very frequently.

    It was all I could do to keep from cracking up as we all flossed together (6 women and my husband) and then she passed around an empty bowl for all the flossers.

    And then I had to wait ALL WEEK for an open thread to tell the story!

      1. Ada Lovelace*

        Ooh attack eyebrows!

        I find I’m really enjoying an older Doctor. The dynamic is different. I like that it’s not so flirty anymore. That being said, I still miss River.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          I’m enjoying Capaldi, although watching this week’s episode we had to stop and rewind multiple, multiple times because we are having trouble with the new accent, LOL.

          I assume you’ve heard that Jenna is leaving at Christmas. My personal theory is that they couldn’t make Clara’s cheekiness mesh well with the new Doctor’s darker personality.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            (Although I did love the line from this week’s episode…”I’m his carer.” “Yes, she cares about things so I don’t have to.”

  41. Fruitfly*

    I wonder if the Sunday Free For All post could include work-related questions. Sometimes I realized I actually had a work issue that I need to ask about, but I missed the Saturday Work-Related Post. I wanted to post at a time where most posters are present, so hopefully my question has a higher chance of being answered.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, the reason we added the Sunday one was to divert the non-work-related stuff away from the Friday thread, so that people who were only interested in the work stuff didn’t have to wade through a mix (especially given how long the Friday ones were becoming). The Sunday thread was really just a bonus created to solve that problem. In general, I think keeping them separate is working pretty well, but I know some people will always prefer combined while others prefer them to be separate.

      1. Fruitfly*

        If I found out that I need to ask a work-related question on Sunday, do I go to the Saturday post or the Sunday post? I just want it to be read in time, and I also understand that you cannot answer all questions that are emailed to you. So sometimes I just wanted to post it in the threads instead.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If it’s work related, you could try the Friday open thread. (But not the Saturday short-answer post, unless it relates to one of the five letters in that post, and not the Sunday open thread, since it’s confined to non-work stuff.) People do continue reading/responding to the Friday open thread on Sunday, although it’s definitely fewer people. Alternately, you could try emailing it to me or holding it for the following Friday’s open thread.

          1. krisl*

            Maybe we need 2 work-related free-for-all a week. That way, people who miss the Friday free-for-all won’t have to wait a whole week before posting.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Overall I think the current set-up is working pretty well, although of course it won’t meet everyone’s needs 24/7 … but it was also never intended to. The site’s mission really isn’t to be a forum; the open thread was just a fun thing for a change once a week.

              And remember, this weekend one was just added in recently as way to keep the work one focused on work!

          2. Fruitfly*

            Thanks. I’ll post to the Friday thread then; I hope some people are still reading in even on a Sunday afternoon.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          As a commentor who likes to help, I suggest waiting until the next Friday open thread. Alison usually posts them at noon EST. Posting on the previous thread doesn’t get much attention, although if I have time on the weekend, I do try to read the end of the previous Friday thread and see if there is anybody at the end asking a question I think I can help with.

          If you can’t get on during the day Friday, don’t stress it. Just write your question up ahead of time and post it as soon as you can Friday. I’m not the only person who reads Friday thread from bottom up on Friday evening/Saturday morning and tries to help. By Saturday afternoon though, it’s a bit toast.

        1. BB*

          Or even have both the non-work related AND the work-related one on Sunday so that the people who couldn’t get to the work one on Friday because of work, esp those on the West Coast, can get their opportunity to participate while the thread is still active. Otherwise, waiting for the next Friday’s thread isn’t of help.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Traffic-wise, I think it makes sense to keep the work one on Friday; traffic is a lot higher on the weekdays than during the weekends.

            Without doing an open thread every day or every other day (which I don’t want to do for a bunch of reasons), I’m resigned to the fact that there will never be a perfect system that ensures that everyone who wants to post in them at their peak will be able to. But really, they weren’t intended as that anyway — they’re just meant to be a fun change of pace on occasion.

            1. BB*

              Oh, I meant to keep the one on Friday but also add another work-related thread to Sunday. But yeah, I understand it’s hard to please everyone.

  42. In progress*

    What pets do people have? I have a cat and a betta and I spend a good percentage of my limited income on them. I’m thinking about adding another little critter (a hermit crab or a snake?) but I want to make sure everyone else is happy first.

    1. anon*

      My ex-boyfriend kept snakes as pets; be aware that they can run expensive because of the tank equipment– heating and lighting, which constantly use electricity– and specialty vet visits. Also keep in mind that those suckers live for 20+ years! You feed them frozen rodents, which hang out in your freezer like tiny popsicles…so there’s that, too. Haha I didn’t enjoy them so much, but he did. Pets are generally awesome, and good luck with your menagerie!

      1. C Average*

        True story. A friend’s elementary school-aged son had a large rat snake for a pet at home. At school, his class had a pet gerbil. On the final day of school, the teacher asked if anyone wanted to take the gerbil home and keep it. Danny’s hand shot up, and the teacher was about to approve the request–after all, Danny was a great kid–when she remembered Danny’s pet rat snake. Someone else got to take home the gerbil.

      2. ThursdaysGeek*

        I had a bull snake for a few years, and the only heat was an incandescent light bulb. No vet visits at all (there are snake vets!?) I fed him fresh mice: would buy pinkies or jumpers when he was smaller, he eventually got big enough for a grown mouse. That was nice, because I could just drop the mouse in the cage, and he would eat when he felt like it. (It’s not nice watching them eat, so avoid that.)

        He was nice, didn’t mind being handled. One weekend we had a campout with a ton a teens, and the lid wasn’t put on tightly enough. Hopefully he found his way outside and lived a long life with plenty of mice. I’ll never know. :)

    2. Noah*

      I have a beagle puppy and two goldfish. Single and live alone, so it’s nice to have something care and be excited when I get home.

        1. littlemoose*

          We’ve got a beagle mix and a Maine Coon cat. We are also taking care of a little stray kitten at the moment, though I don’t know if she’ll be able to stay permanently (if not, we will find her a good home).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      One half-feral, unsocialized, outdoor kitty.
      Name: Pig
      Origin: dumped on me by a former neighbor
      Occupation: being scared of everything, biting, eating, sleeping, bawling
      Also known as: Bawlbaby, Psycho Kitty
      Hobbies: killing birds, mice, and moles, setting the Belly Trap, pooping wherever the hell she likes >_<
      Dislikes: Fireworks, dogs, stray cats, the vet, when I squirt Revolution flea/tick stuff on the back of her neck
      Favorite places: her doghouse (in winter), the shed, the culvert pipe (in summer), my lap (only when it's colder than 50 degrees and she wants to snuggle)
      Future plans: to eat ALL THE FANCY FEAST


    4. C Average*

      My patched tabby, Mitzvah.

      She was a rescue cat and came with the express condition that she be the only cat in the house. She doesn’t play well with others, apparently. We do have two different fish tanks with various fish. The cat enjoys watching them hungrily.

    5. MeUnplugged*

      Two grey tabbys, Hicks and Ripley. (They are both girls, named after characters in my favorite movie.)

    6. Sidra*

      I have two dogs currently, but have had snakes, birds, fish, cats, and rats in the past. My husband has had hermit crabs.

      While my snake (ball python) was absolutely beautiful and I adored him, I don’t really advise keeping them. They’re somewhat difficult to care for (hard to tell when they are sick, hard to keep a good heatlamp setup going, etc.) and not very rewarding as pets, in my opinion. They’re beautiful and enjoyable to handle, but there is significant risk, and I just don’t think they’re really worth it the way other reptiles (and mammals, etc.) are.

      My husband has nothing but good things to say about hermit crabs, having owned them, and I think they’re so adorable! My vote is for a hermit crab :) Just name him something ridiculous and post pics here someday if you do!

    7. Just Visiting*

      How do you have a cat and a fish at the same time? Our cats kill anything that comes into the house. Including our ankles.

      Our cats are ridiculously low-maintenance, I doubt we spend more than $30/month on their kibble and litter. They are indoor cats so they really never get sick and we don’t do regular vet appointments. (Yell at me all you want, but they’re healthy as tiny horses and I don’t even schedule regular doctor’s appointments for myself.) One of them had to have a minor surgery a few years ago and that was a couple hundred bucks, but other than that? Smooth sailing.

      Have you thought about adding a second cat? They can keep each other company while you’re away. If you’re worried about cost, keep in mind that reptiles are very expensive to keep. And you’re already buying litter and cat food for one.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        As a lifelong horseperson, I LOLOLOLOLOL’ed at “healthy as tiny horses.” I don’t know who came up with that expression, but it’s a dirty lie. It’s expensive as sh*** to keep a horse properly healthy. [end soapbox]

        I agree about the second cat.

  43. Nervous Accountant*

    Question for pet owners/cat lovers out there….

    we have some neighborhood cats that have been coming to our backyard everyday for the last couple of months. Theres the mama and her 6 little kittens (we know she gave birth to 4 and like to think she adopted 2 along the way since they look very different…lol…..and we feed them cat food 2-3 x a day. We don’t bring them indoors and they’re technically not “ours”….

    Anyways, so the issue is that hubs and I are going outta town for a couple of weeks. and we have no idea how to manage feeding them? How do people usually handle this with their pets when they go out of town? If we just go, will they find some other home to eat? We don’t keep indoor pets but we wouldn’t want them to suffer and starve either :(

    1. Bea W*

      I do homeless kitty duty when my neighbor is out of town. I visit the house cats morning and put out bowls for the homeless. I take the bowls back in when I visit in the evening so to avoid feeding the racoons and possums.

      1. Bea W*

        Are these true strays withno homes or do the belong to someone in the neighborhood? If you think they may have homes, you don’t have to worry. They’ll go back home to eat.

    2. anon*

      Maybe you could hire a neighborhood kid to put the food out? If they’re used to eating at your house (multiple times a day), I guess I would try to make that keep happening. On the other hand, the aspca and animal control advise strongly against feeding stray cats because of all the problems it creates for the animals. I’m just not sure how you transition out of it. Good luck!

        1. fposte*

          I think the problem is that without the neuter component, feeding them makes the population increase.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m paying a pet sitter an ungodly amount of money to come twice a day and feed Pig. Ugh. But at least there will be someone to check the house frequently.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      You can get good dishes that are closed and you set a timer to open them when it’s the normal meal time. It keeps the food nicely covered and stops it being eaten before it should be.

    5. Apollo Warbucks*

      You can get food dishes that are closed and you set a timer to open them when it’s the normal meal time. It keeps the food nicely covered and stops it being eaten before it should be.

  44. Anonyby*

    So this week I was bit by a planning-cooking bug and I have been looking up recipes and how-tos for various foods… medieval ales, ginger beer/ale, yogurt, mayo…

    Out of all of them, mayo is the latest, and also the easiest for me to make without needing to fuss about ingredients/equipment. There is one problem… I use Alton Brown’s recipe, which states to use the mayo within a week. There is only me in the house. No way to eat that much mayo in a week (especially since I’m a picky eater).

    Any suggestions for what to do with it when I eventually do make it?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have no clue if this is a good idea or not. I used to make my own mayo. To make it last longer, I would split open a vitamin E capsule and add it to the mix. Vitamin E can be used as preservative. I would use my mayo for a bit longer than a week. I never had a problem.

    2. Stephanie*

      Only a week? Is that because it starts separating? I’d just use it in mayo-heavy recipes (salad dressings, etc).

      1. anon*

        I think it keeps for only a week because it contains raw egg. If you use pasteurized egg (liquid usually), you may be able to keep the mayo longer. Also try adding lemon juice or vinegar. Or just cut the recipe down, maybe?

        1. Anonyby*

          Mayo is already supposed to have an acid, and the recipe I use does have both lemon juice and vinegar. It’s also already cut down as far as it can go–one egg yolk.

          Funny enough, if you leave mayo at room temp for several hours after you make it, the acid will kill anything that may be lurking (cold inhibits this). But yes–the week date was put in there for safety reasons. The recipe is from a show that was aired on national television and thus had lawyers saying what could and could not be done for safety reasons.

      1. Noah*

        I have a recipe that you add whey to when you first make it, and leave it on the counter overnight to let the lemon juice do it’s magic. After that I’ve kept it in my fridge for up to a month with no issues. I just strain plain yogurt to make Greek yogurt and that’s where I get the whey from.

    1. Diet Coke Addict*

      Pretty! Is that stamped or counted, and are those beads or French knots in the border? (After a decade of stitching I still can’t master French knots, so I just sub in seed beads because I’m lazy.) Good luck–my least favourite part of any project is starting it!

      1. FD*

        Counted–I don’t like stamped. It uses both beads and French knots. I was stumped too about French knots, but then I found a great tutorial. I’ll link it in the comment below. It might not click for you, but hey, worth a try.

    2. Anon for Work Details*

      That’s pretty!

      (If I started that 6 weeks before the wedding, the happy couple would be receiving it as first anniversary present.)

    3. reader*

      Best man and Matron of honor were husband and wife. He did a pencil drawing of deer in woods and she did a cross stitch commemorating the day. First things that got hung on our walls. And the only items I remember who gave them to us.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      That’s pretty!
      I have a Titanic travel poster cross stitch I need to finish. Haven’t worked on it in ages. I type so much that my hands are a mess and it makes them hurt. Rawr.

    5. Sandra Dee*

      Very pretty. I am currently working on a cross stitch Christmas stocking for my great niece that was born in June. I have made them for my son and all of my nieces and nephews. This makes stocking number 7. For me the cross stitch is easier than sewing the stocking. My mom did the first 4, and I had to do the others after her health declined.

  45. HR Chick*

    Deleted because this is the non-work thread (and I’m being strict since otherwise this one will be overrun with work posts) — maybe hold it for next Friday’s open thread on work?

  46. Wedding Envy*

    I don’t mean to be negative but I am having a little bit of wedding/relationship envy this weekend. A friend of mine had her bridal shower last weekend and another friend from high school is getting married tomorrow. Not to mention my coworker got married last month, one is pretty much engaged (the gossip in the office is “He’s going to marry that girl”) and another is getting married next summer and him and his fiancee have a house. Another friend of mine got out of a long-term relationship maybe a month ago and already has a new boyfriend.

    Of course, I want my friends to be happy and they’re all perfectly good people. But I guess a part of me can’t help but feel envious of them and their big weddings, nice bridal showers and ease in getting relationships. And this may not be 100% normal, but I’ve definitely browsed wedding planning sites out of curiosity and fantasy. I’m not going around making up a fiance or a wedding date or anything but I have caught myself looking seeing what it’s like to even plan a wedding.

    (Changed my normal posting name because I’m worried I’m coming off too negative.)

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Oop, posted in the wrong spot.

      First, it’s perfectly typical to look at wedding stuff pre-engagement, when I was pre-engaged (decided to marry but no ring/public labels) I was shocked at how many of the other comments on blog posts were from single women. So healthy? I don’t know, depends on how much time you spend/larger context. But common? Absolutely.

      If it helps, I don’t think most brides “enjoy” the wedding experience. Sure you love spending time with loved ones, the spouse you get in the end, gifts, and diving deep into whatever aspect of planning you love (for me, it was paper goods). But for most people, it comes with a lot of crap. Arguments about the most ridiculous things, waking up late at night worrying about how to address envelopes, it’s downright nightmarish at times.

      And this is coming from someone who not only never wanted to have a big/fancy/expensive wedding, or any wedding, or a husband, or even a relationship. Seriously. Before I met my husband, I was decidedly single and 100% happy with that choice, and expected to be for the foreseeable future. So maybe that’ll make you feel better or worse, but I just wanted you to know it’s not all roses and sunshine.

      1. C Average*

        This makes me realize what a completely abnormal pre-wedding experience I had!

        I’d just had hip surgery for a running-related injury and was, for the first time in my life, forced to be sedentary. So I decided to use the time off my feet to sew my own wedding dress, because I didn’t like any of the ones I’d tried on. I made it out of obscenely expensive cream-colored velvet with silk lining, and I used an insanely complicated Vogue pattern with over fifty different pieces. I spent so much time drinking wine and swearing while I made that dress, and I ripped out and re-sewed so many seams. It was an epic project.

        When I got it done, there was a pucker on the butt that bothered me to no end. I couldn’t fix it, either, because it only showed when the dress was on me, and when I tried to pin it so it wouldn’t pucker, my movement changed the line and the pucker went away. I wound up flying to Idaho, with the dress, so I could have my mother pin it correctly so that I could fix it.

        Other than making my dress, my very small wedding was a worry-free proposition. We notified my husband’s siblings and my sister that we were getting married in Boston on marathon weekend. We paid for everyone’s plane tickets. There were no attendants and no announcements and no photographers and no musicians and no website. My husband’s dad performed the ceremony in the living room. Caterers brought dinner to the house. My brother-in-law took snapshots. A fine time was had by all.

        The dress hangs in my closet and sometimes I just look at it. It blows my mind that *I* made *that*. It is without a doubt my single best creative accomplishment.

            1. Calla*

              That is an absolutely stunning dress and you look beautiful!

              I think people make weddings way more stressful than they need to be. TBF, we’re just under a year out still, but the most stress I’ve had is being bummed that a venue or two I loved was out of our price range. We have a very strict budget–less than 1/5th of the average for Boston–but already have my dress, the venue, and photographer taken care of. I like to joke that we have more freedom (and thus less reason to be stressed about doing it “right”) because we’re gay and therefore already ruining the traditional marriage!

              1. Ruffingit*

                Congrats on the impending wedding! You’re so right about how people stress themselves out about wedding planning. I did that myself the first time around. With my remarriage, we eloped and I was quite happy to do so. I’m all for the big wedding if people want to do that, but even the “big” wedding needn’t be as insane as people seem to want to make it these days both financially and otherwise.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Grass is always greener…
      Time will be kind to you. It will show you the balancing counterpoints to all that. It’s okay to feel envy- pretty normal I think. But the perspective you have now will look differently in a bit. Some of it will be good stuff and some of it will be bad stuff. I don’t think envy truly leaves us- there are all kinds of things that other people have at each stage of life.

      In the meantime, be kind to yourself. Give yourself something that you can do/get. Have your own interesting thing going on.

    3. Turanga Leela*

      Really common and not unhealthy unless you’re getting obsessive. Reading about weddings is fun. It can even be useful—planning a wedding sucks, so it’s useful if you have some idea of what you like ahead of time.

      As far as envy goes, I’m so sorry. It’s not a good feeling. Can you figure out a strategy to take yourself out of this mindset? Maybe you accomplish something (work out? clean the house?), or go out with friends, or think about the enviable aspects of your life. I just know it doesn’t feel good to feel envious or to think of your life in terms of deficits, rather than assets, and the more you can let go of that, the better.

    4. FD*

      I think most women at least do look at wedding planning stuff! We’re trained to dream about it from an awfully young age, after all.

      I don’t think it’s unusual to feel that way, and I don’t think it’s too negative. I’m sure you know all the typical advice, so I won’t bother repeating it.

      Something that I found was helpful when I was single was to talk about those feelings with other single friends.

      I’m sorry that you’re feeling lonely, though. It sucks.

  47. Loose Seal*

    My 16-year-old cat might be dying. He’s been losing weight over the last six months and we’ve been at the vet a lot. They said it was probably his thyroid (I cannot remember if it’s hypo- or hyper-) and we’ve been giving him meds for it. At the last visit, they said bloodwork now showed his thyroid was fine. But he still keeps losing weight and they don’t know why. The vet told us that as long as he had energy and looked alert, he was probably fine, for his age. Except now, he just refuses food and lays on the bed all day. So, I’m wondering what to do (and I don’t know if the vet is open tomorrow — it’s a national holiday in the U.S. but not all businesses close for it).

    Has anyone made end-of-life decisions for their pet? How did you decide what to do?

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I’m sorry. *hug* :'(
      Sixteen is pretty old for a cat. My mother just had to have hers put down because her kidneys were failing. She waited until it was clearly getting uncomfortable for her but not until she was majorly sick/in pain. She said the cat let her know. Parents did the same for our longtime dog. He couldn’t walk anymore and it was time, so Mum took her to the vet when we were at school.

      It’s hard to let go, but I think it’s better to do it when they’re clearly not getting any better and before they are suffering horribly. If he’s not eating and doesn’t want to move, that may be the sign you need. I’d call the vet anyway–he/she may have an answering service or have someone on call.

    2. krisl*

      Lethargy (lying on the bed all day) is a bad sign, but sometimes there are ways to fix that. I had a cat who became lethargic at around 9 years old, and with the proper meds, she got back to her old self and lived until she was nearly 16.

      If you take Classic Fancy Feast or any other canned cat food that is basically puree’ and mix it with warm water, he might eat it or at least lap at the water. Is there anything your kitty really enjoys? Some special thing you can do? When my kitty was in her last days, I took her on a tour of the garage (which she usually wasn’t allowed in) and let her look at things. She enjoyed it. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but she loved being able to look at things that she usually couldn’t get to.

      I think most vets have an emergency number you can call (sometimes another vet clinic that’s open on holidays), and usually that’s on their voice mail, so you might want to check that.

      As far as end of life decisions go, it’s really hard. It helps if you have a vet you can trust, because the vet usually has a good sense of how the kitty is doing, especially after bloodwork. The way I try to think about it is about how the kitty is feeling. If the kitty isn’t feeling good now but will be feeling better with the right meds/etc., then I figure it’s worth it. If the kitty is feeling bad and will just keep feeling worse, then it might be time to think about end of life. I’m sorry. It’s really hard, and it can take a while to even kind of get over.

      I really hope you won’t need the below advice for a long time, but in case you do…

      For me, I was able to remind myself that I did the best I could for my sweet kitty, and that I couldn’t let her suffer too much. It still hurt horribly. I felt really depressed.

      Try to talk with people who understand how you feel. Try not to talk about how you feel with people who think “It’s just a cat.” They won’t get it.

      Take pictures of your kitty, even if he looks tired and not feeling so good. I know that sounds odd, but one thing that comforted me was looking at what my kitty looked like near the end compared to how healthy and happy she looked several months before. It reinforced the knowledge that she hadn’t been well and that I’d made the right decision.

      My kitty lived for about 7 years after she was first lethargic, and all but the last few months were pretty good for her, and I hope your kitty starts getting better.

    3. fposte*

      I’m so sorry. It’s so hard to face the loss of somebody who’s been such a part of your life.

      I’d definitely try the vet’s office today–worst you can be is where you already are, right? If you get past the refusing to eat obstacle, I’d think about identifying the two or three things that mean your pet is getting enjoyment out of life–purring when petted, say, or appreciating food, or tormenting the dog, whatever your beloved kitty has always done. Those can create your definition of quality of life, and you can weigh those against whatever physical debilities and limitations your pet is currently facing.

      The appetite going away could be a lot of things. But if it is part of winding down, that’s pretty common in animals including people, and while it’s hard to watch, it’s at least generally a pretty peaceful state for them.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If this is a change from what you’ve been seeing (I’m not sure if it is or not), call the vet. If they’re not open, google “emergency vets” and your city’s name. There are usually 24 hour emergency vets that you can go to if you need it.

    5. Loose Seal*

      Thank you guys for this. I’ve tried the food with warm water which worked briefly a month ago. As things have gotten worse, we’ve tried the Nutrical Alison recommended a few weeks ago, tuna and tuna water, pureed chicken, meat baby food, and kitten milk and he will eat nothing more than a few bites, if anything. Today, we put some cheese down for him (his absolute favorite snack, historically) and he ate a small bite but left the rest. That made me realize that he’s probably just done eating.

      It doesn’t help that this was my cat originally and my husband only met him four years ago when we got together. I’ve told him I want help making this decision but he is firmly sticking to supporting me only, not saying what he thinks needs to be done. I get that it’s tough for him to say he thinks the cat should be put to sleep (which is what I’m assuming his position is) in the face of my distress but I really want his opinion and can’t seem to make him understand that.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think you need to talk to your vet to really figure out what makes sense. (Among other things, you should ask if there are ways to keep your kitty comfortable and happy during this time — maybe there are, even if they can’t heal him!) You want to have some serious medical advice factoring into this.

        For what it’s worth, I think people’s tendency is to wait too long (at the expense of the animal’s comfort) and then beat themselves up afterwards, feeling guilty about the decision when they shouldn’t. If he’s uncomfortable and there’s not treatment that will help, it might be that the kindest outcome for him would be to go to sleep peacefully in the arms of someone who loves him (that’s you).

        (To be clear, I have no idea if that’s what makes sense here — just throwing it out as a way to think about it if the vet points you in that direction.)

      2. fposte*

        He may not have an opinion beyond “whatever makes Loose Seal the least unhappy.” That’s probably more important to him than what decision is made about the cat today; this isn’t a situation where there’s a clear right or wrong, so it’s not implausible that he sees the merits of various decisions. (He may also be concerned that his opinion would carry more weight, during an emotional time, than he feels comfortable carrying for a cat who’s so close to your heart.)

        Can you articulate what you want his opinion for? Is it to make you feel like it wasn’t just you making the decision, to give you something to prove your point against, what? If it’s the first, that seems pretty close to supporting what you do–he doesn’t think your choice is wrong, and he’ll help you with it. If what you really want is to have somebody pick up the load for the decision, that’s a hard task to pass along, but I think it might be better to rope the vet in on that one with “If this were your cat, what would you do?” The vet doesn’t have to go home with you, and your husband does.

        Again, I’m sorry; it’s a hard, hard thing.

        1. Loose Seal*

          You are right. I just wanted someone to help me shoulder this burden; it’s such a hard decision. I will ask the vet that question. He’s been working with us on this and I think he would tell me what he thinks.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      One vet told me that cats hide problems pretty well. By the time the problem shows it can be serious. I think body size is a factor. Something that would not be a big deal for a 100 pound dog, can mean a vet appointment for a pup or a small dog.
      All this really mixes up the decision making process about how to proceed. Consider asking the vet about options. This might be a good way to have all the bases covered and arrive at a well-considered decision.

      My old dog needed about $800 worth of tests. Treatment would be more bucks. He was 14. I said just keep him comfortable.(I think all the trips to the vet would undo all the good the vet was trying to do. The trips were taxing for the dog. ) The vet estimated about six more months. He lasted about 7 or 8 months. So that was pretty close. I got him to a vet chiropractor which he liked for a while. She also did acupuncture-which did not seem to do much. I tried reiki, which he did not want.

      The morning of his last day was not good. Oddly, it was the first morning that he did not eat. Usually he ate, yet, he had lost a lot of weight. Fortunately, I had a friend who was willing to come at a moment’s notice. (Some people are outstanding folk.) By the time she got to my house he was non-responsive. Totally non-responsive. (He should have been beside himself with glee that my friend was there.) We made that final ride to the vet’s. I believe I did not force him to live too long nor did I cause him to pass prematurely.

      It sucked. But I saw some very beautiful things that day, too. It’s odd how this stuff plays out.

    7. LibKae*

      So sorry you’re dealing with this :(

      I lost my 13-year-old cat about three years ago after he had similar symptoms (sudden, severe weight loss). Do you know what other things yours was tested for? For mine, the vet said not to worry, most of the time it was thyroid related, but for him it ended up being cancer. Chemo was an option, but given his age, and the fact that they said it might give him a year at most, I decided it was just cruel to put him through that kind of pain when he wouldn’t understand why it was happening. I was lucky enough to have a couple more months with him before I had to put him down. It was heartbreaking, and I’m getting teary just remembering it, but for me, I was glad to be able to limit his pain at least a little.

      All that said, though, I don’t have any wisdom on making the decision except to say that you’re the one that loves him most, and you’ve been his caretaker, so you’ll probably be the only one who can decide what’s ultimately best for him (though I totally get the really wanting help shouldering the burden — I spent a couple of days walking around and talking to myself before I made a decision)

  48. Mimmy*

    Here’s a weird question: Any ideas for “brain” food? I’d really like to increase my mental stamina and sharp thinking for school, but not what the crud we eat. (FTR: I gave up on My Fitness Pal–too much of a pain. Sorry fellow users! :( )

    1. BB*

      I recommend reading. Read the newspaper. Read up on current US and world politics. Read up on subjects that make you think.

    2. fposte*

      If you’re not already, move the body! It’s common for people in school to let schoolwork eat their physical activity time, and it’s a mistake–brains work better when bodies get some motion. You can always set yourself some mental homework for your walk or gym time, if you’re concerned about losing work traction; I get some of my best work ideas when I’m out walking.

      1. C Average*

        Second this! I’m a big fan of walking or running while listening to podcasts. Sometimes I even record voice memos of brainstorming meetings at work and then go for a walk and listen to the audio–I find it helps jar loose ideas that aren’t there when I’m sitting in a meeting room. (I realize as I write this that it sounds bonkers, but it really works for me.)

      2. Trixie*


        And in addition to anything resembling yoga, I would go with small segments of meditation which I plan to start myself. When the monkey mind just refuses to quiet or slow down, simple long breaths are so calming and cleansing. Post-yoga or “mediation,” I feel refreshed and recharged.

    3. Sidra*

      A lot of people swear by bulletproof coffee. I have tried it, and think it’s pretty great, but don’t do it frequently due to the butter. Lots of fat, but you really don’t get hungry for HOURS after having it.

  49. CloseBook*

    Hi everyone,
    Has anyone ever have some experience where they have a dilemma and they asked their peers for advice, but even though the advice is good, you still cannot bring yourself to take it because of anxiety, fear of getting loved ones mad, fear of damaging colleague/manager relationship, mortification, reactions of others, etc.

    Sometimes, I am not sure if it is fair for me to ask advice knowing that I might not be able to take it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think anyone actually expects people to use their advice all the time. The thing that I always say is that if we make each other think then we have done our part. So if their advice inspires you to get yet another idea that you will move forward with- you and your advisers all won.
      This can look like this: I ask Sally should I do A or B? We chat and Sally concludes definitely B and says why. I listen to her reasons and my head screams “NOOOO, do A.” I have made a decision, not the one Sally said, but I feel stronger about my choice. Sally has helped me because I had no idea when we first started the conversation.

      The thing people object to is when a person’s problem drags on and on with no end insight because the person is not working at their problem in any way, shape or form. Day 121 the problem looks the same as it did on day 1. Then people get testy.

      Look at the person whose advice you want. Do you respect this person, not out of obligation, but do you really respect how they think? If no, skip this person.

      Don’t ask a bizillion people in your life. This is more like living life by popular opinion survey than by actual strategic thinking. Pick people (1-3 will probably do) that know or have experience with that particular type of issue and talk with them.

      This all means you can ignore this post if you chose! OTH, you can use the parts that make sense to you and your setting.

      1. C Average*

        Second this. Don’t crowdsource your life, and don’t set the expectation that you’re going to take advice just because you asked for it. Sometimes the function of advice is to help you realize you already know what to do (and what you know you need to do may run counter to the advice).

        There was this fantastic Friends episode where Rachel was trying to decide between two guys, and someone (Joey?) played a decision-making game with her where he fired off a bunch of binary choices at her (“red or green? dog or cat? paper or plastic?”) and then threw in “Guy A or Guy B?” She answered with the first thing that came to mind and realized she’d known the answer all along; someone just had to help her get to it. I think advice is often like that. It’s a dialogue that gets you to the answer you already know.

      2. Ruffingit*

        Yes to everything NSNR said especially this part The thing people object to is when a person’s problem drags on and on with no end insight because the person is not working at their problem in any way, shape or form.

        I would add to that that people get testy as well when you ask their thoughts, they give them to you and you tell them why their thoughts don’t apply or won’t work…and you do this all the time. If all you’re looking to do is defend your own position continually, don’t waste other people’s time. It’s like someone I knew who used to ask what shirt they should wear and no matter which one I picked, they would say “I was thinking the other one…” Well then wear that one and don’t waste my time asking what I think. It would be one thing if this only happened once or twice, but it was constant. So basically, if you have no intention of thoughtfully considering the advice, whether you take it or not, then don’t ask.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, really. A few people in my life make me feel like I am doing their thinking for them. I can’t do energy drains like that. (no… this isn’t hitting close to home right now… what makes you think that???)

          There is a huge difference between someone who always tells me why something won’t work and someone who asks me further questions on what I am talking about. I don’t mind answering those questions.

          Within the last few years I have taken time to reflect on conversations. It dawned on me that one person has been going on about a particular problem for 30 years. Another person has hit the 15 year mark.

          And I allowed that to continue on like that. It’s amazing how the years fly by and we lose track of how long we have been listening to something.

          1. C Average*

            I wonder what it would take for people who have been carting the same unsolved problem around for decades to just let it go and acknowledge that they’re not going to address it.

            I really feel sorry for people who talk the same problem to death again and again but don’t ever get closer to solving it. So much pointless baggage.

            If you’ve been carrying around the same ten extra pounds for years, they’re not going away unless you change up your lifestyle.

            If you want a new career, you might have to go back to school or learn a new skill or start over at entry level.

            If you’re in love with someone who’s not in love with you, he’s probably not going to change his mind.

            If you don’t put your ass in a chair and write, you’re not going to complete your novel. (Raises hand: Yeah, that’s mine.)

            These are universal truths.

            1. Ruffingit*

              I’ve had some luck with saying this to people: “You’ve been talking about this for a long time. It’s clear you have no motivation for losing weight/writing that book/going back to school. You have intention, but no motivation. And you know what? That’s OK. Just own that and let this go, at least for right now. When your intention meets motivation, you can pick it back up, but right now just own the fact that you aren’t going to do this and just know that is OK.”

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      People almost never take advice.

      One of my best friends, she calls me for advice in a panic. (We work for the same company but in different divisions.) I talk through her issues with her, give her good advice, and she never does what I advise. Then calls me in a panic a month later for advice on how to fix what went wrong after she didn’t listen to me the month before. She always says, “I should have listened to you.”

      Shrug. I love her . We have been friends forever and I don’t mind.

      Most people ultimately just do what they are going to do. People who give advice expecting otherwise will be disillusioned.

    3. FD*

      I don’t know if this will help, but here’s my experience.

      I was in the closet for about two years after I finally admitted to myself I was gay. My close friends supported me and encouraged me to come out. But it still took me a year after that to tell my family. They’re conservative Catholics, how would they react? What professional ramifications would there be? What would people say?

      I got very lucky, in that my family has been fairly supportive, even though they don’t approve. But it was very hard, and it took a long time to find the courage to do it.

      I think some things to keep in mind are:

      1. It doesn’t make you a ‘weak’ person for not being ready to follow their advice. It sounds like you’re probably beating yourself up over not acting on it yet. But in general, knowing what you SHOULD do is the easy part; acting on it is the hardest part (otherwise, we’d all get eight hours of sleep, eat our greens, and brush our teeth twice a day).

      If the issue you’re dealing with is or is exacerbated by clinical anxiety or depression, remember that many times, the difficulty of doing any thing about it is a symptom. It doesn’t exactly make it easier to act, but it might help you to feel a little less guilty about struggling to act. If this is you, read this:


      2. Let your peers know what’s going on when they give you advice. However well-intentioned someone may be, it can be frustrating to give advice, not see it followed, and not know why. On the other hand, if you tell them “That’s good advice. I want to do it. But right now, I’m also really struggling to do it.” When people understand what’s going on, they can be more supportive–and they may also provide resources.

      3. Have a backup plan in mind. This can be helpful if you think that there may be negative consequences. This might mean having some provisions in place before you do whatever it is you need to. (Whether that’s some solid leads on new jobs if you think you might get pushed out, a place to stay if you are afraid you might have to leave your home, etc.)

      Good luck, I hope things get better soon!

      1. CloseBook*

        I like #1 and #3. I also have to let everyone know that even though I felt good about hearing #3 that FD mentioned, it does not mean that I will go on thinking of “back-up” plans that will further encourage my lack of response to advices given to me. I want to let everyone know that I will not interpret the #3 in this particular way. I do appreciate FD for letting me know that these problems happened to people sometimes. Thank you, FD.

        I believe I also need to get to the source of why I am so hesitant to follow advice, which is causing me to make one bad decision to the next. I might need to anonymously find some counseling. And now I start to think, what if I cannot yet take the advice of the counselor…

        1. Ruffingit*

          A good therapist is not in the business of giving you advice. They help you understand why you are thinking the way you are and what is blocking you. It might really help to get some therapy so you can figure that out.

    4. Sidra*

      Haha, there’s a term for people who ask for advice and never take it – “Askhole”

      Still, I think we all do this sometimes… sometimes it’s worth it to rock the boat, sometimes it’s not. However, if you find you know the advice is sound, and you SHOULD follow it… then sometimes it just needs to be an experiment in bravery! I get pretty anxious about things myself, but with practice (and age) I have gotten better at pushing my anxiety aside when I need to be brave and do what I know I need to do. Something that helps me is reminding myself how happy/proud I’ll be if I toughen up and get it over with, and remembering times when it turned out really well for me – maybe try that?

  50. Ali*

    I’m not sure if anyone will see this or if it’s too late at this point (and if so, I can ask again next week…no biggie), but what are some ways I can try to be more positive?

    I don’t know if I’m ever going to be one of those people who can “spread sunshine around” as my mom just said, but I know now that I am not a happy person. I’m stuck in a job I don’t like (I won’t talk about my work problems here since this is the non-work thread and I’ve mentioned them in other places), I have a bad habit of comparing myself to others (e.g. “It seems like everyone I know is having amazing weddings or has stable, serious relationships and I’m single.” or “These people my age already bought a house and I’m still saving for my first apartment.”) I’ve also questioned whether or not I’m really successful in life (I often feel I’m not) and tend to just feel constantly unhappy about my circumstances when it looks like everyone else is settling in, has it all figured out and so forth.

    The good things are obvious. I have a place to live with roof over my head, plenty of food, electricity and all that. I make enough money at work to not be rich but to afford the things I want and put some money towards bills. I currently have all my grandparents in my life but one grandfather (although we have feared for the last two years that my grandmother will die soon). So it’s things like that, and I hate to call myself ungrateful, but it’s often very hard for me to see the positive side of things when I don’t have all this other stuff society says someone my age “should” have (a marriage, a living space that’s not your parents’ house, a perfectly fit body and on and on).

    Anyone have ideas? My sister keeps one of those “good things” jars in her apartment where she writes down something good about her days and saves it for the end of the year when she can read them all back. I started one of those but admittedly didn’t keep up with it. I also deactivated my Facebook today and plan on taking a break because that was a huge tool in why I compared myself to other people. I may go back to using FB eventually, but feel like right now, I’m not in a great place and it’s hard to see pictures of bridal showers, romantic pictures of couples, new job announcements and so on.

    So really, whether it’s to keep up again with that good things jar or to stay off Facebook…or anything else you guys can think of…I just want to figure out how I can feel happier and more grateful.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Carolyn Hax has some good stuff on this, like:



      I think getting off of Facebook is a good move if it’s stirring up those emotions in you. I would also say — find ways to regularly help people (or animals) who are less fortunate than you. That tends to make you feel great about yourself AND puts things in perspective in a very helpful way.

    2. fposte*

      There’s also a ton of Captain Awkward posts that might be relevant here, like this one (despite the title, it’s mostly about negativity): http://captainawkward.com/2011/08/22/guest-post-how-do-i-stop-letting-my-terrible-self-esteem-sabotage-my-relationships-reader-question-99/

      And if you’re anywhere near a Captain Awkward meetup, they seem like people who are highly likely to be supportive and interested in many, many things beyond wedding registries. Which I think would be really helpful for you, too–if I recall correctly from things you’ve said, your family isn’t always helping you on the “accepting where you are as okay” front, and since you’re living with them, it can be really valuable to have somebody else to up the positivity quotient. There’s so much evidence that we draw a lot on the people we spend time with to define ourselves as okay, and I think a lot of what has made my life satisfying is conveniently finding good people for that.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Watch your self-talk. If it would be wrong to say to a friend then it is wrong to tell yourself that. You are abusing your own self. For example: You would never say to your friend, Annie, “Why don’t you have a house yet? What is wrong with you?”

      Yeah, you can do a whole big analysis of why all the negative self -talk. My suggestion is to skate by that part and just stop yourself each time you do it.

      When my head gets negative I like to make lists of things I am grateful for. I don’t write it down. That means each time I have some negative stuff running through my head I have to start the list at the very beginning, each time. It makes me think. If I had it written down I could roboticly read it off and I might miss the impact of the exercise.

      It’s a bitch. Because no one can stop you but you. And the wheels fall off and you have to pick yourself up and brush yourself off… it’s work. (After doing this for a while, I started noticing other people’s negative self-talk and their negative talk in general. It was a very interesting revelation. I talked my aunt out of calling herself “dummy”. Well, at least she stopped saying it around ME! ha!)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I don’t do the I-am-grateful list, but I try to think: what would I say to a friend if he/she were talking like this in my presence? Then I say that to myself.

        Example: I knock something over and break it. “Oh I am such an idiot!”
        “No, friend/self, you are not an idiot. You’re just clumsy, ha ha (you just had a clumsy moment).”

        It doesn’t always help, but I’m still working on it.

      2. BB*

        I agree with Not So New Reader. Watch your self-talk. When you catch yourself doing that, think of something that’s positive. I used to be like you but I slowly changed my thought patterns and behavior. At first it did seem fake. As time goes on, you’ll create new thought patterns that are positive and then you’ll become a more positive person.

        If you’re unhappy at work, then it’s time to look for a better job. Put a list together of things you want to have in your next job. Great colleagues? A job that matches your skills and talents? Benefits? Is there a certain company you want to work for? Put it down on paper. If you’re jealous of your friends in relationships or those that own a house, start envisioning the kind of home you would like to have one day.

        Another thing you must stop doing is measuring your life against what society says you should be like or should be doing at a certain age. Things may happen for you sooner or later. If it doesn’t happen at the time society says it will, it doesn’t mean you are a failure. I learned this the hard way. If you compare yourself to where other people are in their life who are doing better than you, you will always feel like you don’t measure up. STOP DOING THAT.

        Find a hobby or something you are passionate about and do it. Be thankful for what you have. Seriously. You have a job when many are unemployed. You don’t have to worry about food, shelter, or having enough money to pay bills. You have much to be thankful for.

        Ultimately, what you put out does attract more of itself. It’s the Universal Law of Attraction. Even if you don’t believe in it, it is always in motion. Have you noticed how the happy people always have good things happening to them? And the unhappy people find more things to be unhappy about? When you appreciate the things in your life, you will attract more positive things. More blessings will come your way.

    4. C Average*

      Awww, man, do I feel you on this one.

      I think part of it is, objectively, just where you’re at in life. As you’ve said, your work life isn’t what you’d like it to be (there’s 8+ hours of every day you’re spending in a place you don’t like doing things you don’t like), your love life isn’t what you’d like it to be (there’s 4 – 6 hours of the average day that you’re not in the state of romantic bliss you would like to be in), the place you call home isn’t where you’d like it to be (there goes your remaining waking hours), and your body isn’t what you’d like it to be. You have this idea of what you’d like your life to be like and it’s not like that. This is all a rough description of my early twenties and I hated it, too. It’s really hard to be positive when nothing is quite what you’d hoped for. So give yourself permission to wallow a little in your disappointment if that’s what you need to do.

      If you can find a reliably comforting method of wallowing, even better. I remember when I was young and broke, every payday I’d go to the used bookstore, buy a trashy paperback mystery or romance from the quarter shelf, cross the street to the greasy Chinese restaurant, and order something awful with a million calories. I’d sit in the corner booth and eat my lunch and read for a couple hours. It was my solace. I spent every pay period looking forward to it. If there’s some kind of reasonable and accessible self-care that comforts you, make that a semi-regular priority so that no matter what else happens in your life, you know you have something to look forward to.

      Then, recognize that positive/negative isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. How you come across isn’t all about your focus. It’s about your delivery and outlook, too. Some of the best comedians in the business are negative people who have found original ways to look at the dark things in their world. If you’re not a naturally sunny person who spreads kittens and rainbows in your wake, trying to fake it is just going to make you seem fake and obnoxious. But if you accept that you’re a person who’s prone to see the glass as half empty and you look for humor and wisdom and good stories and valuable experiences in that outlook, you’ll be more appealing to others without being inauthentic to yourself. In particular, don’t compare yourself to some model of positivity that you happen to know. Let them do them. You do you.

      I have to admit the whole gratitude journal phenomenon seems contrived and cheesy to me, and I’ve never been able to stick with it, either. If you’re going to do a daily schtick, it should be something that truly resonates with you, not something somebody else is doing that you’re hoping will make you more like them.

      It also doesn’t move you off of center. I don’t think being more accepting of where you are is what you need to do. I think you need to figure out where you’d like to be and take steps–just small steps, but steps–to get there. Maybe that’s a modest but consistent exercise plan. Maybe it’s trying to learn something new. Maybe it’s reaching out to an old friend just to say hello. Maybe it’s going to the library for a book you’ve been wanting to read. Maybe it’s rearranging your room. I just think when you’re feeling stuck, you try to get unstuck, you know? You don’t sit down and assume the lotus position and embrace your stuckness.

      And I know this is kind of cliche, but figure out a way to do something good for others. Volunteer or pick up a task around your family’s house that you know will improve life for everyone else there or whatever. Do something every day to ensure that someone is grateful you’re around. Gather their thank yous and praise and hold those things close. You’ll feel useful and valuable, and that will make positivity come a bit more naturally.

      Good luck! I hope you find that this is just a period of your life you’ll look back on as particularly rough, and that better things are ahead.

      1. Waiting Patiently*

        Wow, great post! You explained it so much better than I wanted to say.

        “Then, recognize that positive/negative isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. How you come across isn’t all about your focus. It’s about your delivery and outlook, too. ”
        So true.

        “In particular, don’t compare yourself to some model of positivity that you happen to know. Let them do them. You do you.”
        Exactly, because if it’s not genuine to that person than it’s all for nothing.

    5. Colette*

      When you compare yourself to others, make a conscious effort to think about the things in their lives that you don’t want. For example, “Jane is married, but I’d hate to have to live with Joe”, or “Carol just bought a house, but I’m glad I don’t work 70 hours a week like she does”.

    6. Waiting Patiently*

      You know the problem with Fakebook is that it is designed to control your emotions. You like a post/picture (wedding announcement, couple photo, bridal shower pic) and searches to and fro to feed you more of the same kind of stuff. Anyway staying off Facebook is a great start.

      I keep journals, that helps me whenever, I feel stuck in should’ve and could’ve. I can look back at past things and see where I was and compare it to where I am at that moment. Sometimes now I don’t even have to go back through my journals when I find myself wanting more “stuff”, I stop myself (more conscious now) and take inventory and realize what it took for me to get where I am at that moment, then I feel grateful.