Sunday free-for-all – October 12, 2014

IMG_2637It’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.

{ 429 comments… read them below }

  1. Holly*

    Today was my Dad’s memorial service, and this sounds weird, but I’m actually super glad it’s over so things can “go back to normal”, kinda sorta. However, I’m quickly realizing how quickly I relied on my Dad to help me on every little
    “fix it” thing, because the moment I got back into my apartment for the first time in two weeks I realized things had gone to hell and a handbasket.

    Anyone have any tips for fixing a toilet that puts a super small amount of water in the bowl suddenly? Because I know absolutely nothing about these things and, well, my go-to person isn’t here anymore.

    1. CC*

      Does the tank fill up to normal levels and it’s just the bowl that doesn’t? If so, check that the line that fills the bowl (small spray into a tube above the tank’s water line, usually) hasn’t been knocked out of alignment with the tube. It shuts off at the same time as the tank fill.

      1. Holly*

        Yes – the tank looks like it’s filled to normal levels but the bowl itself is way too low. Do you mean the spray tube thing is too low down?

        1. CC*

          No, not too low down – I was thinking that it might be missing the fill tube to the bowl. If that is spraying into the tank instead, the tank will fill up faster and the bowl won’t fill properly.

          1. Holly*

            That’s exactly it! See, I thought it was supposed to fill into the tank and not feed into the center tube (toilet novice, I am.) I looked up diagrams and saw it had come unclipped from that center tube thing and put it back on, and now everything is back to normal. Thank you so much, CC! Fixing that kind of made my night! :)

    2. fposte*

      I’m glad you’re finding some relief, Holly. Do make sure to take extra good care of yourself for a while. As far as the toilet goes, do you mean when you flush it? I’d take the top off the tank and watch the water in there while you flush–does it all drain, and does it fill up to where it should afterwards? Sounds like either something’s blocking the flow from the tank or the float has gotten misplaced so there’s not enough water.

      1. Holly*

        Thanks. :) I’m trying. It’s hard to settle down when I’ve gotten used to running around constantly. After I flush it, the water inside the bowl is, like, half capacity compared to what it should be. When I flush, it drains very low (not completely empty) and fills up to where I think it’s supposed to.. float? What float?
        (also, thank you.)

        1. CC*

          Inside the tank, you should be able to spot a few parts when you flush. The flap valve lifts to start the flush; the float will go down with the water level then back up with the water level again. The water flows into the tank and also into a vertical tube. It’s normal for the tank to not *quite* empty, but it should get very low before the flap valve closes again and the tank level starts to rise. Depending on your toilet, the float might be a ball on a stick that stretches across the tank (old) or a plastic bit around the vertical tube where the water comes in (new).

          1. Holly*

            It was the vertical tube that threw me off. I had no idea what it did – and the spray thing was disconnected from it, apparently, which caused my problem. Thank you so much for helping me fix it! :D

                1. Phyllis*

                  This about the toilet issue brings up something I’m working on. My husband teaches at our community college at the Work Force center. My daughters and I told them they need to develop a course for women teaching us basic household skills. Things like fixing the afore-mentioned toilet, fixing a leaky faucet, ect. He told me to make a list of what we want to learn, and he would do his best to make it happen. So I am throwing this out to the AAM community: If you could take a course to learn some skills like this, what would you like to learn?

                2. Arjay*

                  @ Phyllis, since I can’t reply to your comment directly, what about including the basics of power tools? Learning how to use a cordless drill changed my life! A couple other thoughts – if they’re not too simple – how to change fuses/reset breakers and how to change HVAC filters.

                3. LibKae*

                  @Phyllis I’d put in things like changing a tire, checking oil, and knowing how to shut the water off for your house (and draining your water heater too, maybe). It amazes me how many people don’t know that … and how many times I’ve needed to do all those things

                4. Sunday*

                  Hi Phyllis,
                  I think a course in “the obvious” would be great. Because those things are often less than obvious to some of us. So what are the things he would “of course” do, often without thinking about it?
                  If he was going to explain what he did/looked at first to you or someone else, what are the first steps – and how many did he not have to think about before he got there? I’ve started asking for that kind of help; it gives me a broader perspective and helps those I’m asking understand just how (very!) basic my questions are. Helps me, too, in writing directions for others on things I do easily.

                5. Trixie*

                  @Phyllis, beyond checking oil. I would love to be walked through changing the oil in my car and filter if necessary. Even better? Replacing burned out fuses, and light bulbs behind dashboard. I’ve looked at a video a million times on Youtube but worried I’ll ruin the lights that do work.

    3. Not Myself Today*

      I have a “Dare to Repair” book that I really recommend. It covers a lot of little things that come up from time to time. Also, if you don’t have a basic tool kit, you might want to think about picking one up before you desperately need one. Practice a few things like finding the water and electricity shut offs when you don’t have an emergency and have time to look.

      I’ve very sorry about your father.

  2. Anx*

    I’m coming off of a long bout of under and unemployment, and I’m starting to wonder when I’ll feel like I’m fully employed.

    Of course, everyone has different circumstances, and some people can live off of one job, while others need to string several together. But I think it’s common for everyone to have a standard for themselves for when they feel like they are sufficiently busy.

    Personally, I’m having an issue trying to establish that for myself. I am taking 20 credits and working 15 hours (plus a few hours of week preparing for work). When I think about it, I am a full-time student with a part-time job and I think that’s fairly normal. But since I already have a degree, going back to school is a bit different this time around and it feels more like a hobby than an occupation. And yet, I feel like I’m always busy and rarely have time to pick up around the house, catch up sleep, etc.

    For those without a conventional full-time job, do you ever feel like don’t have a ‘real job’ or are otherwise underemployed, even if you have limited time and energy to take more on?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have always had to tell myself that going to school was my current job. I enjoyed college, a lot. And it did not feel like work, even though I put in long hours. But, yeah, the dots did not automatically connect for me that school was my job.

      1. Anx*

        I think it would be helpful to start to accept that being a student is work. I think the fact that my first degree did not open many doors for me contributes to my view as school as an ‘extra’ or hobby and something solely for personal enrichment and not as work. I also come from a background that supported education but never pushed academics as being more important than work.

        And maybe thinking about my out-of-class research and hw hours as work, too, may help me feel like I really am doing something with my time and not frittering it away.

    2. AnonyMostly*

      This might get pulled for being work related but I understand. I need my job to live how I live. I thought about being going to back to school full time and working part time just to feel like im advancing somewhere.
      The most frustrating thing with my job is I have to do all kinds of training and get certificates every year that are totally useless (it adds nothing to my resume)
      So yeah, I feel like I don’t have a real job.

    3. Just Visiting*

      I work part time (24 hours/week), have a passion that fills up nearly all my remaining time (definitely not a hobby, and I do make money from it, but not enough to survive yet), and feel that I am fully employed. I also do random freelance work here and there. This system is vastly better for my mental health than having a steady FT job. I would even prefer two PT jobs to one FT one, that’s just how my brain works. I’ve done the traditional thing and nearly burned out twice, so this is how I’m going to play things for the next couple of years at least.

  3. Jill of all trades*

    So I went to the semi-annual library book sale Saturday and only spent $6. I am weirdly disappointed by that.

    1. Stephanie*

      Yeah, that’s like when I leave the used bookstore empty-handed. It feels weird until I remind myself how horrible it was to move a bunch of books and that there are multiple well-stocked library systems in my area.

      1. Aam Admi*

        Our local library system has a great stock of books and carries most new releases. There are over a dozen branches across the city and they have no membership fee. So I make full use of the local library system . I read a lot but haven’t needed to buy any books since I came to Canada, except for gifting to others. Books or gift cards from the Chapter/Coles/Indigo store are my favourite gifts for all occasions.

        1. Jill of all trades*

          My local library system is also good and free, and most of my reading is done that way. There’s something about having a big selection with me in my home that I love, and especially old copies, so I hit up the library sale and used book stores for the bargains and lovely old copies, but this time I basically struck out.

          1. Kitty*

            You didn’t say which books you bought! As someone who looks at the host’s bookshelves at parties, inquiring minds want to know! :-)

            Lucy Ricardo, I want to know your answer to this, too, please!

      2. The IT Manager*

        I have a super awesome library system that almost completely fulfills my needs for books, eBooks, audiobooks, and DVDs. The only problem is that I rarely make any progress on my to read shelves – more than 3 of them – (many books which were purchased at used book stores and library sales), and I’ll be moving in the next year.

    2. Lucy Ricardo*

      I had that same feeling last week when I only spent $7 at a huge library sale. Thankfully I made up for it the next day when I spent $25 :-D

    3. Liane*

      When I go to our library sales there isn’t much to find. The books I see are old & in bad shape, like they might crumble, especially the paperbacks. Most of them are not subjects/genres I am interested in and the few that are, the fragility from age & less than good care makes me hesitate to take the fiction. As for non-fiction, much more has been learned about the sciences & even history & biography.
      I realize the problem locally is two-fold. One, the booksales are opened early for members of their Friends (supporters) group, but not at times I can usually go, so they have been picked over a lot when I get there. Two, the books and other offerings are not culled from the library system’s collection for the most part, they are donations by the public.
      It still makes me sad. I love buying used books, but there are no used book stores. Now the few I buy are either through a local thrift shop or online via the Paperback Book Swap site or Amazon.

      1. Phyllis*

        I have TONS of books (as my family can attest) and my husband HATES it!! (I also go to the library a lot. I feel like I can always read my books anytime.)

        I know that five minutes after I’m dead he will have a dump truck backed up to collect said books. I made him (and the rest of the family) promise) that he will donate all books to the local library instead of trashing them. :-)

    4. Cath in Canada*

      My work has an annual book bring and buy sale, to raise money for charity. The first time I left with fewer books than I’d brought, I felt really strange (although my husband was quite happy!)

  4. en pointe*

    I’m doing Tough Mudder with a team of ballerinas next month. That should go well…

    Is there anyone here who’s done it or something similar before, or wants to, who’s willing to share experiences / tips / whatever else?

    1. nep*

      How exciting. A couple of my colleagues did that recently.
      I’ve got more Qs than As. What’s your training been like? Are you doing any of the training workouts from the website?
      Only general tips I’d have is to incorporate the following in to your preparation: water, water, water and sleep, sleep, sleep.
      Look forward to hearing about how this goes.

      1. en pointe*

        Yeah, the water I’m on top of, but the sleep’s definitely something I need to dedicate more time to, thanks.

        We’ve been training for a few months, cardio and strength based circuit training. The cardio’s not a problem because we all work out a lot, but the strength stuff is definitely a step up from what I’ve done before. We have a personal trainer who runs a bootcamp with us once a week, and he’s also put together plans for us for during the week. I half think the guy gets off on making young women cry. Not me, I’m not much of a crier, but some of the others. The training’s pretty intense, but then so is Tough Mudder…

        We’re actually doing this as part of our month of fundraising, to help bring young dancers from the bush to Sydney and Melbourne for development camps. (I’ll confess to being a pretty shameless charity mugger actually; half the shit I do is sponsored.) But it is a pretty cool program because there’s not much in the way of opportunities for them. (I grew up on a remote station myself, and the only reason I got trained at all was because my aunt lived with us, who’s a retired professional.) But we’ve already hit our fundraising total a month out because people are amazing. We now just have to actually do the thing… Yeah, my expectations could probably be higher, haha.

        1. nep*

          Sounds like a great programme to help young people. Good for you. Best of luck. And listen to your body. (But you know that already.)

        1. Henrietta Gondorf*

          Quick thoughts: Make sure you have a water and nutrition plan. Figure out what you’re going to be able to carry and how. (Zip pockets are preferable to anything that can fall off, like a hydration belt.) As tempting as it might be, do not jump down from obstacles unless you absolutely have to. Do not have any expectation that you’ll be able to cover the course at the speed you run on a treadmill, track, or road.

          Afterwards: shower, disinfect everything (or throw it out), and keep an eye out for GI symptoms over the next few says. Mud can be gross.

          Have a blast!

    2. Judy*

      From what I hear from my friends that do those sorts of things, make sure you know how to climb the walls well, or have a team strategy for climbing the walls. (Not sure if Tough Mudders have walls or not, but some of the mud runs do.) So upper body strength and some training on actually doing it.

    3. TL -*

      Practice some of the obstacles if you can! It’s your first race,so don’t worry about time or beating anyone, just be careful to work within your limits.

    4. Ms. Anonymity*

      My husband has ran a couple. The first one he trained extensively for, the second one, not so much. You can walk, jog, or run it at your own pace. There are tons and tons of people doing the race as well. When you get to an obstacle that you need help with, most people are willing to help you. Watch out for each other in the electrical obstacles. If you get hit in the temple or head, you will likely pass out for a second or two. If you’re right under the wire, you can end up knocking yourself out a couple of times before you sit up in a way that you miss the wire. This is where it’s helpful if you have a friend who can watch out for you and help you if they see you need it.

  5. Over 9000*

    I saw the movie Horns the other day. It was not perfect, but it was very good. It lost some momentum about 4/5ths of the way in, and I wish the ending had gone a bit differently. But most of it was just wicked good – like, sitting there with an evil grin in the dark good. It wasn’t pretentious – it told a story and told it well. And a lot of good music choices, too.

    1. NZ Muse*

      Ha, we watched this last week! SO not what I expected. Surprisingly good, kinda darkly wacky and offbeat. Agree on the music choices.

    2. Kitty*

      Had you read the book before you saw it? (It’s by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill, Hill is his middle name.) I’m curious to see how it compares to the story.

  6. Stephanie*

    For the runners out there:

    So I’ve decided to give running another shot since it’s starting to cool down and I don’t need to go run at 6 am or 10 pm to avoid the heat. I went for the first time tonight in a couple of years (and was eaten alive by mosquitoes since I ran at dusk). I’ve made it through most of Couch-to-5K (I think I got up to week 7 or 8 on it) and am going to use that again to ramp up. My goal is run in this local race held every April (that’s actually 4.2 mi…)

    (1) So biggest thing for me right now is the mental block. I’ve done all kinds of high-intensity cardio before and I’m not keeping that brisk of a pace (and all my knee problems have resolved themselves), so I think my struggle is mental. How do you work through that?

    (2) My sports bras are shot. Anyone have recommendations for a good high-activity bra for a larger cup size (like DD and up)?

    1. Trixie*

      I’m a big fan of Champions Champion Women’s Double Dry Distance Underwire Bra #6209, the style that hooks in back. Available in larger cup sizes, and often a good sale item at Kohl’s. If I saw a reputable vendor with good reviews, I’d consider buying from Amazon.

    2. acmx*

      1. Have you tried changing your route? How about joining a running group (maybe even Black Girls Run in PHX blackgirlsrun dot com) or run with a friend?
      Most likely, you’ll do better than you might think during the race. The energy, excitement and competition will spur you on. You can find that one runner who’s slightly ahead of you and keep up or try to pace.

      1. Stephanie*

        Sweet! Found it and joined. I’m kind of surprised there’s a quorum for a group like that out here (the Phoenix Metro area is huge, but the black population’s pretty small compared to similar-sized areas).

        1. acmx*

          Great! Hope you post next week on how your running goes. I’m trying to get back into it again after being too achy all summer to run. I just signed up for another half and I’m not up to a 5k yet.

    3. Cristina in England*

      Some people rely on an awesome playlist to get through a run but I am the opposite. The only way it works for me is to concentrate on my form and the run as I am doing it. It is kind of like being mindful and in the moment. Also, check out title ix for spots bras. They label them by bounce factor iirc. Good luck!

    4. S*

      Try the Shock Absorber series. I have ridiculously large breasts and they are the only ones that allow me to run and play badminton without pain.

      1. Stephanie*

        Oooh, I have one and love it (and have worn it out). I also like that theirs don’t look like a tan or white suits of armor like some of the other large-cup sports bras.

        1. S*

          I have three and love them as well – but in my case they are indeed the suit of armour style ones (although in black). :) They are the only ones I’ve found so far that help.

    5. Sarahnova*

      I’ve run a marathon and several halves, although I’m not a sustained distance runner (or naturally built for it). I still find the first 10 minutes of every run by far the hardest. After 20 minutes or so, when I’m in training, I settle into my steady pace and feel like I could run forever. It’s an awesome feeling. Before I signed up for the marathon in 2007, I thought I couldn’t run outside at all – I always ended up super out of breath and stopping. I was just trying to go too fast, and also lacking a goal. So my advice on 1) is to take the pace down a notch if you’re struggling and just keep building slowly; aim to run for 5-10 minutes more every week. Just push a little beyond what you think you can do; the exhilaration of finding you can go further than you ever thought is waiting on the other side.

      On 2), I wore a 28FF pre-pregnancy (now up to a 32G, and still running… sorta) and my sports bras of choice are the Shock Absorber Max Sports Top (widely available, including cheaply on eBay) and the Panache Sports Bra, which has flexible underwires and is very highly rated.

      1. Tenley*

        My issue with Enell is that the seam across the cups really stands out under everything I wear on top, which makes it impossible to wear if anyone is going to see me, it’s that embarrassing and the first thing your eyes are drawn to.

      2. Stephanie*

        I mean, I’m not opposed to the suit of armor if it minimizes bounce. I just find those stiff and uncomfortable more often than not, even fitted properly. I’ll check that brand out.

    6. Henrietta Gondorf*

      I find that knowing that the first mile sucks for almost everyone is key. Getting out there, getting moving, finding your pace, and hitting your stride really does take 10 minutes most days.

      I also second running with a group. Having to meet people, even informally, helps keep you getting out the door.

      Good luck!

        1. CC*

          That’s because it takes your cardio & muscles several minutes to ramp up to running activity levels.

          I call it the whiny phase, where my body says “really? you want to run now? Oh *fine*”. And yes, 5-10 minutes. (I heard from marathon runners that the first 5km is awful, but I haven’t got to that point; for me it’s the first km or so.)

      1. Sevda*

        Agreed! On days when I’m finding it hard to motivate, I promise myself that all I have to do is 10 minutes– after that, if I want to stop, fine. Of course, the first few minutes are always the hardest, so by the time that option comes around, I never end up taking it. Running is such a mental sport!

    7. Waiting Patiently*

      I just started running 2 months ago, so I really new to this.
      I change up my routes weekly (some days I run a trail along a river or a track not too far from my house, my neighborhood or the park at a zoo)and I put on my favorite inspirational music. This is a great way for me to not focus on how fast I’m not running as I work on maintaining a steady pace. I do, do a little cheer when I pass a slow walker and I notice I’m no longer sweating profusely after .3 miles. I’m up to running 1 mile. Yay for progress. It seems like once I break the threshold of a mile and half, thats when I can push myself to pick up speed, my muscles are nicely warmed up by then I guess.
      Now I find myself scoping out area where I can run. I’m already thinking about places I can go when the wintery weather comes. It feels
      My problem area were my ankles, it took a while for me to work through. But proper posture and warmup took care of that. Now I can run on uneven surfaces without feeling like my ankles will cave.

      1. Stephanie*

        If you do find you need to strengthen your ankles more, I found dance classes were really good for that.

        1. Waiting Patiently*

          Thanks it really has!
          @Stephanie I will keep the dance class in mind, if I have the problem again with my ankles.

    8. Blue_eyes*

      I buy all my bras online from Bare Necessities. They always have some kind of sale or coupon code, so look out for those. I also have a large cup size – some brands that I like for sports bras are Anita, Glamorise, and Moving Comfort. I always just buy a bunch of styles online, try them, and return some (or most), then just keep ordering more of the ones I like.

    9. TL -*

      For the bras, I’m a fan of shock absorbers as well. For the motivation, break the run down into parts and don’t think past that particular part. Get something in your sight – a house, tree, telephone pole, whatever – and only think about running to that object. When you get there, pick something else. Eventually, you’ll hit your stride and get in the zone.

    10. Mouse of Evil*

      Glamorise makes some pretty good sports bras up to at least an H-cup. They don’t last very long, but OTOH, they’re not very expensive at Amazon (I can usually find one for around $22). I’ve spent mega$$ on some before, and then felt like I had to hang on to them long after they didn’t fit because of that, so I think it’s a good tradeoff. :-) They’re wireless, which I like for running.

    11. anon in tejas*

      1) For me, it wasn’t mental (as I was doing high intensity cardio (soccer, biking and swimming), but it was actually quite literally learning how to breathe while running. When I got that done, I could go a lot longer. It meant slowing down a little, but I’ve started going a 1/2 or 2 a year.

      2). I love some of the moving comfort line and champions. I generally get the highest support rating for champions (available on website– rarely on sale).

    1. Jen RO*

      I’m not in the US, but we are at the rain part and I am jealous of your Indian summer. My boss (who lives on the East Coast) visited my office recently and he was telling us that he had gone to the beach with his family the previous week! We had this conversation on a day when it was 10C (50F) in Bucharest in the morning…

      1. en pointe*

        Ha, I was going to ask you if Romania had beaches, but then remembered the magic of Google. They look beautiful. Hope you get the chance to go soon!

        I am also not in the US, but we are mid-spring, which means the fires have started and everywhere smells like smoke. Everyone’s back at the beach. Boardies and thongs everywhere you look. I love the arrival of summer, but by the end I’m usually like ‘end already’.

        1. Jen RO*

          The resorts here are kinda crappy, so I haven’t stayed in one for many years. Until my boyfriend’s mom died (a year and a half ago), we used to visit her every summer at the seaside… this year we went to Bulgaria instead (the town of Nessebar) and, even though the beaches themselves weren’t spectacular, the town is gorgeous so I had a blast.

          1. en pointe*

            Sounds lovely. I envy your ability to travel so easily. Australia’s a bit harder cause it’s an island. But the geography here is such that almost nobody lives in the middle. Most people live in the sprawling capital cities on the coast, so beaches are pretty ubiquitous, which is nice.

            Just to continue my superfluous musing though, even most of the west coast is sparsely populated. I grew up in an outback region called the Kimberley, which is between the desert and the Indian Ocean, about three times the size of the UK. It’s amazingly beautiful, but Kununurra, which was my closest town, is one of only three with more than 2000 people because it’s kind of a hard place to live. You’re in pretty big danger from bushfires in the dry season, and most of the roads are impassable in the wet season. Australia just has a really small population for such a ridiculously huge country, I guess because of the crazy nature.

            1. Jen RO*

              Yeah, being in Europe (and in the EU) makes travel very easy… though I do hope one day I’ll get to visit the US and Australia too.

              1. en pointe*

                I love Melbourne, which I’m not supposed to say because I live in Sydney and there’s a sibling rivalry. Melbourne won ‘most liveable city’ in the world recently (whatever that even means) and, instead of celebrating, all their newspaper headlines were about how Sydney only came like 5th hahaha. I really want to live in Melbourne one day though, only been there once.

                1. Gene*

                  It’s been 15 years, but I have to admit I liked Melbourne more than Sydney. We flew into Sydney, drove to Melbourne, spent a week there, them spent the next three weeks traveling, mostly stayed at caravan parks. Stayed inland going north to go to Parkes radio telescope, turned back south in Rockhampton, and drove down the coast back to Sydney. Put 5000 km on the Commodore in a month.

      2. Bea W*

        Yes, a week ago it was mid 80s. I left town for 5 days, and when I got back it was 48F instead if 84F. I did not pack to come home to that!

    2. Bea W*

      I have SAD so rainy gloom and early dark make me depressed and my heart pitches a fit when we get extreme cold. So l am happy to send whatever we get to you. The weather here has been the perfect mix of temperture and dryness. I don’t want another winter like last. That was miserable.

    3. Windchime*

      I’ve been loving this long autumn, except for the stupid spiders. I love living on the rainy side of Washington (now that I’m accustomed to it) because I love not having to deal with snow, but I swear the spiders here are downright scary big. I wouldn’t mind a couple of good hard freezes just for that reason.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        The freezes are the reason I love winter.

        I found a big hairy dead spider in my garage a while back. When the bug guy came to spray, he told me they’re called wolf spiders. Very appropriate.

    4. Vivi*

      Oops, my reply was posted before I was finished typing. The temps have been in the 80s and above for the last 6 months. I could hear the birds chirping this morning and I think they are as confused as me as to what season it really is! Lol. Bring on some cooler days and some much needed rain. :)

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      Oh, I would LOVE some rain! We’re at slightly above 3′ for the year so far, about half of normal, and I so wish we could have something other than clear blue skies. The warm temperatures are nice, but it’s so DRY.

  7. Jen RO*

    Does anyone here play Covet Fashion? It’s a dress-up game (Android/iPhone) and, while I am definitely not a person who has a clue about high (or even low) fashion, I’ve been playing it for a year. (And I need more friends in-game!)

    1. Mister Pickle*

      Interesting! I’m probably not going to really play it, but I’m going to load it and check it out. Avatar design and customization was one of my favorite things about SL. If Covet Fashion does 3D and animation – it could be fun.

      1. Jen RO*

        Nah, it’s nothing that advanced. You basically get one body type and you can change skin color, make-up and hair. The focus are the pretty dresses – you get a theme and some restrictions, and you have to create an outfit that the other users will like.

        (And I know what you mean about the avatars – whenever I get a new MMO, it takes me 15 minutes to actually start playing, because customizing characters is so fun.)

        1. Mister Pickle*

          I played with it just a bit, and it’s a neat concept. The “competition” aspect is a good fit for this kind of thing. I may play with it a bit more, see if I can win anything. I was pretty good at it in SL (ie, people would actually pay me money to put an AV together for them). SL was also nice because in addition to being 3D and having character animations (so you could dance, for instance), you could build your shape, design and build your own skin, hair, eyes, clothing, and accessories like boots and sailboats and furniture and wings and trees and weapons and robots etc. and there were thousands of stores where you could buy stuff that other people made if you didn’t want to make it yourself. I had a weapon that would materialize a circle of monkeys around the target person, and then the monkeys would fling monkey poop at them. Fun stuff.

          Some people thought I was gay because I had a female avatar, which I always thought was funny.

          1. Jen RO*

            I always found the topic of match between actual gender and avatar gender interesting. I *can’t* play male characters, I feel this huge disconnect. To me, my avatar is *me*, so even if it might have hooves or elf ears, it still needs to be female. (I also have trouble playing “evil” characters.) My boyfriend, on the other hand, does not become so invested in his characters – they are separate things with their own “personalities”, so he has both male and female ones. Other reasons I’ve heard from WoW guildies: male playing female to get to look at something more aesthetically pleasing, female playing male to avoid people knowing she is female… and of course RP but I think that’s its own separate category.

            1. Mister Pickle*

              Interesting. I didn’t have any trouble becoming thoroughly invested in my (female) avatar – in a lot of ways, her personality was like a “best of” collection. I’d sometimes ask myself in RL “what would Jessica do?”

              The big reason for having a female AV was because it was almost trivially easy to make her look really good. I have no clue how to make a “handsome” male AV.

              1. Kat Glitterbuck*

                That’s because stuff for guy avs was very limited back in the day. It’s gotten SO much better now. Mesh has changed clothing, mostly for the better. The mesh boobs…not so much.

                Some of my best friends in SL are males using female avs.

            2. Gene*

              RP is definitely its own category. I played on an RP realm for a little while, I just didn’t get it. Almost all my toons are female for some reason.

            3. nyxalinth*

              I play both genders in games I play (WoW, Elder scrolls games–including Elder Scrolls Online–Fallout 3 and FO: New Vegas). I identify more with the females because admittedly gaming is something of an escape, but I love my males. I have a Nord right now in ESO that I named Big McLarge Huge and in Wow I have quite a few females (mostly Horde). I think as a writer it appeals to me to make people of both genders. Only disappointment I have is that very few modders for elder Scrolls bother making much of anything for male characters, especially sexier stuff. Plenty of boob plate and thongs for females, though :P

    2. Alter_ego*

      I play it, and I’m a little bit too obsessed. But the rush of validation that comes with getting a high score is addictive!

  8. Shell*

    Further to my previous question about button-down shirts, I have purchased seven (!!!) of them within the last two days from various thrift/consignment stores, and all of them fit me perfectly which is a lot more than I can say for the new ones I actually tried out in store. And all of them are in different colours/patterns so I won’t even look like I’m wearing the same thing every day.


    1. Rebecca*

      I just want to say I needed mock turtlenecks. Our office is very warm in the winter, so in the morning, I usually wear a mock T neck with a button up shirt of some sort over top. I can unbutton the shirt, and if I get too warm, take it off, and still look properly dressed. I was sort of balking at the prices, but I went to Goodwill, and found a bunch, some from Kohl’s with tags still on them. Now I have all the basic colors I need.

  9. Jen RO*

    This is somewhat work-related, but I hope it can fit in this thread just as well. We were recently told that October 31st will be Halloween Friday at work, and, together with the other team lead in my department, I am planning to sneakily decorate our corner and surprise everyone. I was never into Halloween and I think most of these “corporate fun” events are lame… but I’ve worked myself into a frenzy over this to the point that last night I actually dreamed up a solution for hanging the garlands!

    1. Gene*

      If you have the classic suspended ceiling, you can form paperclips into hooks that will slip between the tiles and the frames.

      1. Jen RO*

        The ceiling is really, really high, and I don’t have access to a ladder. But! We have two sides of windows and one side of wall available for decorations. I will tape the garlands to the metal divider things between the windows and maybe use one garland to decorate the horrible marketing roll up poster. Then I’ll also tape the Happy Halloween sign to the central window, add some sticky bats, and drag one of those small cabinets on wheels in the middle of the department and put pumpkins and stuff on it. I’m waiting for more store to stock up on Halloween stuff, because I only spent a quarter of our budget so far!

          1. Halloween Candy*

            Anon for this; this will out me if anyone from work is reading.

            Our work does something cool for Halloween. It’s called “Candygrams”. For a dollar, you can send a candy bar to a co-worker. The dollar goes to a charitable fund that our organization uses to benefit the community. You sign up online, and it’s great fun because all of your work friends (or teammates, or whomever you like) get a big pile of candy on Halloween and at the same time you’re donating to a charity. Many people just take their candy home and pass it out to trick-or-treaters on Halloween night; I stick mine in my desk at work and save it for those tough days when I need a little sugary treat.

            1. Artemesia*

              Am I the only one thinking of the valentine’s days disasters where some kids get giant piles of valentines and some get few or none? How is it going to feel when you get two chocolate bars and the guy in the next cube gets 20?

              1. Felicia*

                We did candygrams just like that in middle school and there were totally those disasters. We did them for Halloween, Christmas and Valentine’s day (different types of candy each time). For all 3 of those holidays in middle school I got no candygrams and some kinds got tons :( I think i’m a bit more mature now,, and don’t work in an office big enough to do this, but it would at teh very least bring back some bad memories and i would think of this unpleasant possibility

    2. ClaireS*

      We used to have a cube decorating contest at an old job and it was super fun (and totally voluntary). My team got really into it and had costumes to match. One year we turned our cubes into hogwarts (cardboard turrets, house shields, etc) and were all Harry potter characters. Another year we turned it into an angry birds game complete with giant sling shot that shot pig pillows (into a distinct and safe area). Good luck!

      1. Jen RO*

        Wow, that sounds like a blast! We don’t have actual cubes, just desks (which are already covered in crap), but I plan to decorate the hell out of the windows and walls.

  10. S*

    It’s match weekend for the badminton league I play in. We lost 8:0 yesterday (two people on my team are sick, so it was 0:4 against us before we even set foot on the court…), and I expect similar results today. I’m glad that team morale is still high though. :) at least we’re getting some exercise!

    1. Jen RO*

      A badminton league sounds like fun! Is it easy to find people who play? Is it easy to find places to play in? I play volleyball (non-competitively, with a bunch of coworkers) and we have trouble with both those things.

      1. S*

        Yes, it’s pretty easy – there are a lot of clubs around here, some of them own their own gyms to play in, others use school gyms. There are several leagues, organised by skill level, in which the different clubs compete. It’s really fun!

        By the way, we lost only 2:6 – but we celebrated like champions!

  11. Carrie in Scotland*

    I’m prepared for a lynching for bringing it up so early but…does anyone have websites/blogs/recipes etc for Christmas gifts that you can make yourself on a budget? Or just any Christmas budget tips and help?

    1. Chocolate Teapot*

      Well, I went shopping yesterday and noticed some Christmas stock was coming in. I like stollen and gingerbread, but it still feels too early to start eating it!

      Easy Christmas gift: Buy a nice mug (possibly Christmas patterned if desired), fill with sweets or chocolate, and then wrap in cellophane and decorate with some of those curly ribbons. I always think it looks more expensive than it was to buy, especially if you can colour coordinate (e.g. a mug with a red and green holly pattern filled with red and green wrapped sweets).

      I also like to make hampers/gift baskets as presents since you can personalise them. The trick is to pick a theme and a colour scheme. So, I once made a Christmas hamper in which the contents were all red and white (with a bit of gold),. The cellophane and curly ribbon packaging are what makes it look expensive.

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve done this and I agree, it looks a lot more fancy and expensive than it really is! I’ve also filled the mug with a couple of packets of fancy cocoa, some tea bags, and a couple of candy canes.

        Does anyone remember years ago when they gave away fancy holiday glasses from fast food places like Arby’s? One year, I collected a bunch of those. They were really, really pretty and they made fun holiday gifts when filled with candy and wrapped in cellophane.

    2. Liz*

      Not sure about blogs, but lots of ideas. Not sure of budget, but the dollar store comes in handy here. Find a couple of cute mugs, get some hot chocolate mix and marshmallows, and throw in a classic movie, and some popcorn. Instant movie afternoon/night. You should be able to find an inexpensive basket to put it all in. Another idea is to find a nice ornament specific to a hobby, interest or profession. You can find nice ornaments in the $10-15 range. I have done this for a few years now, and it has turned out to be a big hit.
      If you have kids in your life that you are close too, how about paying for them to go bowling or ice skating for an afternoon. Win win. You spend time with each, make memories, and get exercise.
      Or go through pictures, and pick out ones you think the recipients would like, and frame them? Again, the dollar store has a lot of inexpensive frames.
      Hope some of these help, good luck.

    3. Colette*

      Cookie or soups in a jar are nice to receive and cheap/easy to make. You can google recipes. Pinterest has tons of ideas, I’m sure.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        Yes Pound/Euro/Dollar stores are really worth a look. And if course, if you see something, snap it up immediately!

      2. Emily*

        Ooh, I’m not the original question-asker, but I really like the idea of giving people cookie mix in a jar! Too bad most of the people I’ll be giving things to (immediate family, maybe a few close friends) don’t really need it…maybe I’ll just make some for myself, and save it for a day when I want fast/easy cookies.

    4. Rebecca*

      These are all great suggestions. Our local thrift shop has tons of mugs and usually separates the holiday items. You may be able to get very inexpensive mugs if you wish to go that route. Many of them appear to be brand new. There are always cookie tins as well. Chocolate Teapot is right – it’s the wrapping that makes it look expensive :)

    5. AnonyMostly*

      One of the cutest Christmas gifts I got was mini chocolate candy bars made into a Christmas sleigh. I’m sure there is a how to on pinterest. Love the presentation and the fact I could eat it and be done. I used to love chocolates in mugs but I have so many mugs.

    6. Stephanie*

      My go-to budget gift is homemade baked goods in a box, mug, or mason jar. I usually can find mugs or boxes at discount stores that sell overruns or previous season items (like Ross, HomeGoods, or Tuesday morning in the US). I’m a fan of candied nuts–they keep well. I’ll post a recipe in a reply.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Thanks all for inspiration! Away to hit up pininterest and think of pretty mugs to buy to put stuff in…as well as working on my ribbon skills!

    7. Stacy*

      I see folks have shared lots of good ideas already. One I’ve been meaning to try for a few years now is homemade vanilla extract. Another one I’ve done a couple of times is scented bath salts/sugar scrub. I’ve given those as gifts to my mom and sister-in-law & both were a big hit. Can’t remember the blogs/sites I used right now, but a quick google search should turn up lots of hits to sift through, then just find the one that seems best to you.

      1. Kay*

        Ooh, yes to bath salt/sugar scrubs. We did this at my friend’s birthday. She wanted to have a “Pintrest” party. and picked some different crafts and foods to make and then we did them together. Scented scrubs are really easy to make and you just get some small jars and label them with pretty labels (which you could make or buy). I don’t know how much the essential oils we used cost, but we pretty much used coconut oil and regular sugar… Very easy (a little messy if you’re not careful) and wonderful smelling.

    8. Artemesia*

      During the days we had no money and lots of relatives we needed to provide for, I made a lot of fudge. That always seemed to be a hit and it ships well. The year we made the homemade Kahlua — pretty sure that stuff all got poured down the sink.

  12. Bride2Be*

    Totally non work related, but I want to ask a different crowd that the ‘wedding board’ crowd.

    Do you have to ask a sister-in-law to be your bridesmaid because she clearly wants to be one….even if you don’t want her to be one? (For the record, this is my brother’s wife, not my fiancee’s sister, if it was the latter, I’d suck it up but I think brother’s wife makes it a bit different).

    For the record, I was one of her bridesmaids in 2011, which complicates things, but I was asked more because of my brother than for her. Me and my sister in law don’t get along fabulously (she is always kinda rude to me, and she even makes fun of me because my ring is smaller than hers which I just find really tacky) and I know if I ask her and have to have her tag along with me on my wedding day, it will kind of ‘ruin’ it and I’d really just rather have my own sister and my three best friends, I’m getting pressured to bump a friend for her.

    Do I really have to do it? I suck it up having her in the family even though I can’t stand her, but I really don’t want her in my bridal party. (I’m a bit confused why she wants to be in it tbh).

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      It sounds to be like you should have your sister and friends as your bridal party. If you sister in law has been rude to you and has made negative comments about your ring before the wedding I can imagine her making more negative comments throughout the day. Have people around you that will share in your happiness and make you feel good and don’t feel bad about it.

      1. Bride2Be*

        That’s exactly why I fear asking her, because I can just see her making some pointed little comment that makes me feel awful before I walk down the aisle and I’ll be feeling awful and she’ll skip down the aisle revelling in the attention.

    2. Perpetua*

      I’m usually all for “do what feels right to you, taking into account the feelings of other important people in your life and balancing it out”, and I really dislike the pressure to do something just because “it’s how it’s done”. You don’t HAVE to do anything, you just need to be aware of possible outcomes of various scenarios.

      Who exactly is pressuring you? For me, since you say you don’t get that well with her personally, I think it’d depend on my relationship with my brother, and whether it would be important for him to include her as a bridesmaid. In that case I might be more inclined to “suck it up” in the name of good family relations (although it’d still depend on just how much I didn’t want her in that role). Since you seem to feel pretty strongly that having her as a bridesmaid would be a negative experience (and I can understand that, I don’t want or need people who are rude to me to be involved in my life), I’d stick to my original plan of 4 bridesmaids (sister + three best friends), explain it by them being the closest to you personally and not get into further discussions. You can say it warmly and apologetically, but still firmly and calmly, that seems to be the best way to go in many situations. :)

      1. Bride2Be*

        I’m getting pressured from my brother, my mother and her to include her. My fiancee told me to do whatever, because he doesn’t care who I have and can ask another friend as a groomsman to even up numbers. I’m not having my fiancees sister but it’s all cool in that situation because she lives on the other side of the country and I’ve only met her once and my fiancee has talked to her said she’s completely fine with not being asked (and actually a little relieved since we don’t know each other well and she kinda hates attention). My brother’s wife on the other hand is the complete opposite and loves attention and laps it up. I did want to say I can’t afford to have her, but then they’d offer to pay for her to appease her. If we just didn’t ‘click’, I’d consider sucking it up, but I don’t want her rude comments putting a damper on my mood on the day.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Can you add her as “Bridesmaid, 2nd Degree” or something like that? Keep your original line-up, and she’s the “5th wheel”?

          Maybe one of your friends can trip her for you. Or you could set her up in a special dress in a special color just for her?

          1. Liane*

            The go-to role is watching the guest book, which is what I did at a good friend’s wedding. Not because she thought I was a Pain who liked to disrespect her, but because it made both of us happy. And this bride in due course became my Matron of Honor, which also made both of us happy.

        2. AdAgencyChick*

          Have you tried the argument “But we’re not even having Jane, and she’s Fiance’s own sister!” on her? Not a guarantee that this will shut her up, but this did help me a bit with family members who were upset at not being invited to our wedding. (Hearing that other relatives with a similar or higher degree of “closeness” were in the same boat, that is.)

      2. misspiggy*

        Great ideas. You could also give her another role in the wedding – in the UK something like being the witness to signing the register is a good one. Or giving a reading chosen by you. Then you don’t say anything about it unless asked directly.

        1. Bride2Be*

          Singing the register is a bit of a big deal though, ultimately, I don’t even want to invite her (obviously, I have to), I sort of feel like just having her there is enough of a ‘suck it up’ on my part :/

          1. Perpetua*

            In that case, I think your answer is pretty obvious. Invite her as a guest and stand your ground firmly (yet politely, to be more effective).

        2. Artemesia*

          A reading can be an honor — ‘watching the guest book’ is basically punishment — it ties you up when you want to be partying and makes you feel like the afterthought ugly cousin. (been there done that at my brother’s wedding — I didn’t care at all about being ‘in the wedding’ — not at all — but I hated being stuck with the stupid guest book and pretty much abandoned it.)

        3. Stephanie*

          Wait, help me here…why does someone need to monitor the guest book? Granted, the couple of weddings I’ve attended have been very casual, but the guest books were left unattended with some pens. I didn’t know this was a specific wedding duty…

          1. Felicia*

            I think it’s traditional to have someone do that in some cultures/regions? Not in any culture/region i’ve been to a wedding for, and i’ve been to formal weddings but never seen it. I’m not sure it’s a need , so much, but more a tradition. From what I understand

    3. Liz*

      Can you include her some other way? Put her in charge of the guest book?
      Have her help with makeup? I definitely would not want her as a bridesmaid, especially if she has been rude to you throughout.
      If there is another low key , but important way to include I might consider that route, but as to actually be in the wedding, no. Good luck.

      1. Bride2Be*

        Oh gosh, if I had her help with make up, we’d all look like Snooki from Jersey Shore! Ultimately, I really don’t want her to do anything ‘special’, I consider just inviting her like I have to enough ‘sucking it up’ (if she was anyone else, she wouldn’t be considered a friend at all).

        1. Henrietta Gondorf*

          If even inviting her is setting your teeth on edge, don’t give in to the pressure. I also find that having a few scripts on hand is helpful.

          “Mom, you’ve mentioned this previously, but fiancé and I are sticking with the plan. Speaking of plans, have you made yours for the basket weaving convention?”

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe this is narrow thinking- but I think that bridal attendants should support the bride. This means not only helping with arrangements but being supportive of the marriage itself.

      So I guess I would have to ask the question, is she able to be supportive of the marriage in the many different ways that are necessary?

      I might ask that question out loud to other people. Or I might decide in my own head that she is not able to do that and announce that I feel that SIL does not support the marriage that much and I have decided to look to other people.

      There is no law saying that just because you were in her wedding she HAS to be in yours. Yes, this is the decision that may lead to a rocky road for a bit. But people will adjust their thinking. FWIW, if the idea is to make your brother feel included by having his wife as a bridesmaid, why not just find something for your brother to participate in?

      1. Bride2Be*

        The thing is that my brother isn’t really bothered either way, he’s only pushing for her because she wants to be included. I said I could ask my fiancee if he could be a groomsman if it was about my brother, and he said ‘Nah, I don’t care either way, she does though’.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Ah. That makes things a tad simpler. Good for your bro for keeping a level head for himself personally.

    5. BRR*

      The fact that you don’t want her should be enough but unfortunately in this day and age it often isn’t. But you shouldn’t have to include her if you don’t want.

      Some possible reasonings (make sure to not get too ridiculous or use too many because it’s insulting): is someone super close not in your bridal party, someone above mentioned your fiance’s sister but what about a close friend, is there not another possible groomsman and you’d have uneven numbers (not that it should be matter but in this situation use whatever excuse you need), is there physically not enough room for another person to be in your wedding party at your ceremony location.

      You can always just say, “My bridal party is set, I’m on to planning [something else].”

    6. kas*

      Don’t do it. You won’t regret not including her but you will regret it if you do and she makes comments and ruins your day. I would either bring up the fact that not even your fiancee’s sister is in the bridal party or that you already have your numbers and adding her would involve adding another groomsman. If I was feeling pressure from my mom/sibling, I would tell them I just don’t want to and ask them to stop bringing it up.

      Normally I’d consider everyone’s feelings but I would not suck this up. Do what makes you happy, not what will make everyone else happy. It’s your day, not theirs.

    7. Sarahnova*

      Don’t do it. You don’t like her and she won’t actually support you on the day. It seems like the only downside is that she will sulk. Let her.

      People WILL be pissed about something you do with your wedding. It is literally impossible to please everyone. Don’t expend a single mental minute more on considering how to keep happy someone self-involved who you’re not close to and don’t actually like. I have no doubt that if she does sulk/complain/pitch a fit, people will ultimately ignore her because they know what she’s like.

      I held out against the family pressure to ask my nephew to be a pageboy, and I’m glad I did.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I really like AdAgencyChick’s suggestion to say, “I’m not even having (closer friend/relative) and I want to be fair about it.”

      But also, I would suggest being direct about the reason with the people pressuring you: “Jane has not been especially kind to me so no, this is not an option.” Say it once, and then nicely explain you’re not going to keep revisiting it — and then stick to that. (“Mom, we’ve already discussed this and I’m asking you to respect my decision. Let’s talk flowers.”)

      I’d even consider saying something to the sister-in-law herself if she brings it up with you directly, if you can do it without making things permanently worse. As in: “Honestly, Jane, your comments about my ring have rubbed me the wrong way, and frankly you’ve never been particularly warm to me. But I’d love it if we could have a better relationship in the future.”

    9. Episkey*

      Nope, you don’t have to. I know you said you didn’t want to even have her do something else, but an option might be to ask her to read a passage in the ceremony. She still gets some attention for that, and it might appease her so you don’t have to listen to her whine or push about being a bridesmaid.

    10. Windchime*

      Everyone has given good advice on how to handle this, but here is another thought: You might actually have to bump a close friend who *has* been supportive and loving in order to fit in a person that you don’t particularly like and who has definitely not been supportive and loving. So think also about how that would make your good friend feel.

      I’d stick to your guns on this one. I mean, it sounds like you’ve already decided who is going to be in the wedding so if it’s too hard to use the words that Alison suggests (which I love), then you could just say apologetically, “I’m so sorry; the wedding party has already been decided and we want to limit it to those who are in it.”

      I find it so pushy for people to ask to be included. Seriously, who does that?

    11. Victoria, Please*

      If you end up having her due to family pressure, perhaps detail one of the other bridesmaids to deflect her every time she comes near.

      It sounds like she’s jealous of YOU. Making fun of someone’s ring is pre-teen stuff.

    12. Fucshia*

      Bridesmaid are by tradition, maids. That means unmarried. Otherwise they are matrons. Since you were in her wedding, she would not qualify.

      The argument won’t work if you do have bridesmatrons among your other choices, but might if you don’t. Unless she then wants them to be bridesmaids while she is the matron of honor.

    13. Lalla*

      It’s your wedding, you should have the bridesmaids you want. You shouldn’t even have to give a reason, but if anyone asks why you haven’t asked her, you can simply say, “I absolutely couldn’t possibly leave any of these 4 out” (and hopefully give a quick example of why they’re all so important to you) – “and unfortunately we couldn’t stretch the budget to 5 bridesmaids” (or any other reason why 5 is too many for you).

      My brother’s getting married next year and I’m actually really hoping that his fiancée doesn’t bow to social pressure and ask me to be a bridesmaid. I like her but don’t know her very well and I’m really uncomfortable having people’s attention on me (and wearing dresses!).

    14. Anonymous For This One*

      I work in a wedding venue and just wanted to share what happened last weekend with a negative, checked out bridesmaid.

      She spent the pre-wedding preparation not helping the bride at all. And after the ceremony, she stood around complaining about everything (yes, October weddings outside will be COLD, and well, rain happens too) to the point that pictures were stalled out while we waited for her to stop and get in place, and she had the nerve to state that she wasn’t having fun and the photographers were rude and a pain in the ass making them do picture things when the weather sucked. ‘Cause yeah, the wedding is totally about you, and screw the list of pictures that the BRIDE wanted on her big day.

      The worst part of all this is you could see the bride wilting under the negativity. Her big, special day was being ruined by someone who couldn’t suck up the circumstances and be happy to be there and support her, and make sure her day was the best it could be. So no, do not feel pressured to have a bridesmaid that you feel you will be unhappy with, and that you worry will not be invested in the day for you. No one deserves this on their wedding day- don’t chance it if your SIL already has issues with you.

    15. Jubilance*

      From a fellow bride – you don’t have to do anything you dont want to. If you didn’t want her in your wedding party when you thought about the important people you wanted standing up for you, don’t ask her to be a bridesmaid.

      I actually went through something similar earlier this year, except it was my fiance’s sister and his mom who assumed his sister would be a bridesmaid. I’ve only met her once, and my fiance and I had already agreed to a small wedding party, so I said no on including his sister. His mom and sister pouted for a bit, but they got over it.

    16. Kay*

      You do not have to include her in that way. This day is supposed to be about you and your fiance and all of the happiness in the world. It doesn’t sound like she’ll be a great addition to the happiness. I got married about a year and a half ago and didn’t invite my sister-in-law to be a bridesmaid (and she was my fiance’s sister).

      I know there’s a lot of family drama associated with weddings. I just got married less than 2 yrs ago and it’s a lot of drama. Find a way to involve her in something else besides bridesmaid. I don’t know if you intend your wedding to be more traditional or more offbeat, but maybe you could have her do a reading in the ceremony or sing a song or something like that. Basically you want her to feel like you’re honoring her in some way when what you’re actually doing is keeping her out of your hair.

      If you can’t get away with this because of family pressures, here’s what I would suggest: Have your maid of honor or one of your other bridesmaid’s that’s your best friend run interference. Have them keep the two of you apart and be willing to put her in her place if she starts acting tacky, rude, or disrespectful. Some people need a “This is Bride2Be’s wedding day. Today is not the day to say these things. Do you need to go to the restroom and pull yourself together, or can you smile and be polite right now?” Not saying *YOU* should say those things to her, but if you have someone that has your back that can, it may save you a lot of stress and drama.

    17. Rita*

      Don’t do it. If you and your brother get along well, have a one-on-one conversation with him about this, explain why, and ask him to back him up on your decision.

      1. The LeGal*

        I give a strong +1 to Rita! I would pull my brother into this, have him diffuse the situation, and then talk to her myself using AAM’s advice if needed.

  13. Perpetua*

    Does anybody else here like online personality tests (the better-designed ones, at least)? :)

    I like Talentoday ( www talentoday dot com) – it’s free, easy and not boring to fill out, and the results are visually appealing, presented in a nice and understandable way. Also, the DISC one over at Tony Robbins’ site is pretty fun and useful as well.

    Any other recommendations?

    1. The RO-Cat*

      I took both tests. I found bot useful, but more so Tony Robbin’s DISC. I don’t have any other to recommend, but those two can be useful for almost anyone.

      1. Perpetua*

        Yup, I agree, I find the DISC test much more useful and applicable, both for understanding one’s own style and relating to others.

    2. Golden Yeti*

      I like the Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator. It’s from a book by the same guys. I don`t pretend to necessarily understand the logic behind the graph, but I’ve found it describes me and some people I know pretty well.

    3. Snork Maiden*

      Thank you for the DISC recommendation, it has given me some useful feedback and strategies. I usually take aptitude tests with a grain of salt, as I find them easy to manipulate/only reflective of myself while I am taking the test, but it never hurts to sit down and think about your priorities.

      (I was kind of surprised to see just how much I valued stability and to see how little I prioritized it when using adaptive strategies. This is possibly a source of stress.)

  14. The RO-Cat*

    Is there any one here practicing mindfulness meditation with any regularity? I’ve been trying it for several months now and I discovered that (a) I can’t quite make it into a routine and (b) after tw0 minutes or so I start having trouble re-focusing on the here-and-now. The chatter in my mind seems impossible to overcome. How did you deal with these issues?

    1. Perpetua*

      I keep wanting to start meditating regularly, but just can’t seem to make it a part of my routine either, even though it seems silly since it can be just a minute or two or five! :)

      There’s a nice infographic on the Happify website (google The Skeptic’s guide to Meditation), based on the “10% Happier” book that I really enjoyed, and there it says that the chatter and the trouble re-focusing is basically expected, and “simply” starting over and over again is kind of the point of the exercise. So I have no useful advice, just wanted to say you’re not alone. :)

    2. nep*

      Not sure what you mean by ‘overcome’ the mind’s chatter, but here are my thoughts: Helps not to be in a mode of ‘fighting’ the chatter. That tends to feed it. Let it go on. You’re observing it but not taken in by it. Easier said than done, perhaps, but there’s something to just letting it be instead of thinking you’ve got to quiet it.

      1. The RO-Cat*

        By “overcoming mind chatter” I mean that in the beginning it’s (relatively) easy to re-focus on breath (or whatever image I try to maintain on the mind screen), but it gets increasingly difficult as time passes. Towards the 10-min mark it’s like fighting in honey – more and more difficult to re-focus, until I simply give up. I don’t know why this happens.

        Sometimes I label my thoughts, as in I take each one and place it in the appropriate box: Planning, Memories, Fantasy etc (and I visualize the process also). That tends to help a little, but not much. I know the “do not engage your thoughts” thing, it seems to happen automatically…

        1. nep*

          Right — I hear you. There might be another way to meditate that would help — different setting, different position, different visuals or music. Making it more ‘natural’, less contrived. There’s certainly something about ‘OK now I’m going to meditate’ that triggers the chatter.

    3. ClaireS*

      I don’t meditate but I’ve started to schedule more structured reflection. I got the idea from an article Allison linked to a while ago. At the end of the work day I right now something I learned in a little book. So far I’ve been able to mostly keep it up but I don’t think I’ve formed a real habit yet.

      I say this to give you an idea of a similar alternative that may be a bit easier to get into.

    4. FD*

      I find that using some kind of visualization that I have to focus on helps. Like, using a finger labyrinth with my eyes closed, and forcing myself to keep the pattern in my head. It helps reduce distractions, because it’s hard to hold the entire pattern at once.

      But as others have said, a key thing is to accept that distractions happen, and to accept and set aside instead of fighting them.

      It’s sort of like falling asleep. If you’re obsessively thinking about needing to fall asleep, you won’t. The more you think about not being distracted, the more distracted you’re likely to be. It’s more useful to think ‘That’s a distraction, and that’s okay. But I can focus on my shopping/cleaning/how many chocolate teapots I have to make today later.”

    5. cuppa*

      I really like the Headspace app and using his guided meditations. I paid for a year at a time so at least if I listen to it every day, I feel like I’m getting some of my money’s worth. Also, I feel like he notices exactly when I start t0 wander off and he brings me back. Worth a try.

    6. BritCred*

      I tend to keep my focus on the meditation and shut out stuff by visualizing a bubble or an egg and stepping inside of it. Fill the egg with love and light and serenity and asking everything else to stay out. It takes practice but since I generally keep myself ‘shielded’ most of the time anyway it does get easier.

      One hint for coming back to normality after the session? This can be aided by eating or drinking something. Brings both the physical/astral form back cohesively into one.

  15. Anon for this*

    Are affairs after a bereavement common? If the affair is over without the partner finding out can this be ok? I’m the partner, I know, but only after the fact. I can forgive this. We broke up but got back together the same day, this was the cause (I assume). If he chose us, is it worth bringing it up? We’re happy. I can move past it without needing to know details, I can still trust him. Please no judgment if you wouldn’t be able to – I know I can. I just wonder if I’m doing him a disservice by not discussing it – would it be letting him make a mistake? I feel he chose us which is the most important thing, my only question is if he chose us for the right reasons – the only way to discuss that is to tell him I know. I can carry on “not knowing” about this, if it was a one off – I’m sure it was. I can’t talk it over with anyone in my life, they’re too judgmental. I’m so sad.

    1. misspiggy*

      I’m sorry. I think yes and yes to your two first questions – but the thing is, you did find out. So it would probably be better to discuss it with him, as the elephant in the room may start getting bigger and bigger. You sound like you have an amazingly wise approach to it, so why not make it clear to him how awesome you’re being? But please look after yourself in this – you seem to be thinking about him only. You have a right to all your feelings, whatever they may be.

      Dan Savage’s views might be helpful (The Stranger, Savage Blog). He says a lifetime of attempting monogamy where you only slip once or twice counts as a success, considering how difficult monogamy can be.

    2. Colette*

      I don’t think you have to discuss it with him if you don’t want to.

      You might want to look at a couple of counselling sessions (through you EAP, if you have one) so that you can talk about it with someone neutral.

      And I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      I read what you wrote, but I don’t understand it. I’m sorry. “He chose us” – I’m guessing you and your wife(?) were friends with a couple (Bob and Carol), and Carol died, and Bob and your wife had a brief affair? I don’t understand what you mean by “he chose us” and how it’s important that he did it for the right reasons.

      Perhaps I shouldn’t say this because I do not understand your situation, but based on your words – you don’t really convince me that you’re okay with whatever happened.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I am not really getting it either.

        HOWEVER, grief can bring out or provoke reactions that would not have happened any other way. Grief is a very, very powerful emotion.
        In a seemingly unrelated example, we all know of families where several people have stopped speaking to each other because of the passing of another individual. This kind of illustrates just how strong grief is.

        I call it misplaced use of grief. Grief can trigger separations, it can trigger affairs, any number of things. The core problem is that once a person looks beyond that event, the grief is still there. And that is what actually needs to be dealt with is the huge sadness.

        So I am not sure how helpful this is but my thought is to face the sadness of the loss first and foremost. Then see where that puts you.

      2. fposte*

        Or maybe a parental/sibling/friend death threw a spouse off the rails. And I do think that’s a common trigger for changes in behavior. I think that some marriages can survive an affair, regardless of the reason for it. But I also hope that you’re not just thinking about what he chose–what you choose is important here too. I second the notion that you might find benefit in going for counseling on your own to help you think through it.

        Offhand, though, I don’t think worry about “letting him make a mistake” is a reason for telling him you know. The mistakes he’s made and will make are not for you to prevent or correct. I think it’s more a question of whether you feel it will be better for you and for your marriage to work through this openly with your spouse, or whether you feel your private decision to forgive will be enough to for you to put an end to the issue in your mind.

        1. Anon for this*

          Thank you, you’re right in that it was a parental loss for him. I appreciate your final paragraph too, it’s given me a good frame for things.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Nobody else’s opinions matter because the only stakeholders here are you and your partner (and any children). Nobody else has to deal with the aftermath of the decisions you make, which makes armchair declarations of the judgmental just so much noise.

      Now I will give you my two cents since you asked:

      I have never had to deal with infidelity but believe I could because I’m not attached to lifetime monogamy as a be all and end all. I would have a much bigger problem with having been lied to in the process, **huge** problem with that. Counting on my husband’s word is a foundation block of my life. I’d have to reassess everything if I found he had lied to me in a pattern to deceive. (Which, I believe he is incapable of therefore, did he have a stroke or does he have a brain tumor, I would seriously consider, not kidding.)

      On not saying that you know: my opinion is, that’s not healthy on something so huge. While I believe that not everything needs to be hashed out endlessly, I have made the mistake of not bringing to the light major things that should have been brought to the light and nothing good happened next. The husband has the same tendency and net effect is, we have sometimes wasted years stagnating, not progressing, holding our secrets or thoughts of our own, rather than bringing things out and dealing with the ugly and moving on together.

      Marriage/partnership is about *together*. If it’s to be fixed up and moved along, it must be together.

      Is my opinion.

    5. AnonyMostly*

      I think the problem here is that you did find out and even though “he chose us” assuming this mean your husband chose his family over the affair, trust has been broken. Can you live with never bringing it up and not being able to fully trust him? Because ultimately this would be your decision. I don’t think so since you’re here asking the question. You say he chose us, but it may not have been for the reasons you’re thinking. It could be for purely selfish reasons. What if he waits and decides to chose the other person when the timing is right? Kids are grown and etc. I think you need counseling. I would talk about it with him though.

    6. cuppa*

      I agree, I totally see bereavement as a trigger for an affair. I think it would be really hard for me to know and not be able to bring it up, but there are positives and negatives to having it happen that way. I’m a little concerned that there is a very large thing between you two — you both know about it but aren’t discussing it. I think that this might have the potential to introduce other issues into the relationship in the future. If you can forgive him, and you can still trust him, and you aren’t going to end the relationship over it, then why not bring it up, if only not to clear the air?

    7. I never said this. I was never here.*

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re having to deal with this thing. I have been through something like this in my past. You can ask for advice but in the end it will be your decision based on what is right for you.

      If this was truly a one-time thing, triggered by a traumatic event, I feel that you should give him another chance.

      The big question is whether or not you can truly, in your heart of hearts, move past this and forgive him without talking to him about it. I know from experience that this can be extremely difficult. I also know from experience that if you call him on his cheating, it will not be something that passes by in a day or a week or even a month. In my specific case, it took more than two years to get past the worst of it.

      “I just wonder if I’m doing him a disservice by not discussing it – would it be letting him make a mistake?” Yes, you’re letting him make a mistake. But if he made a mistake and you truly trust him enough to learn from his mistake on his own, then you are not doing him a disservice.

      “my only question is if he chose us for the right reasons” If this is truly something you must know, then there is really no way to find out that does not involve asking him.

      Bluntly, the questions you are asking (“am I doing him a disservice?” “did he choose us for the right reasons?”) sound to me like you desperately want to be okay with just letting this go, not talking to him and forgetting about it – but you can’t stop thinking about it. It sounds like you’re looking for reasons to talk to him about it.

      And there is no shame in feeling the need to talk to him about it. But I warn you, based on my past experience, that talking to him about it will not make it go away overnight. You’ll ask a question that will lead to 3 more questions that will lead to 10 more questions, and you won’t like some of the answers. You may be thinking “if I can just talk to him once for an hour, then it will all be okay.” In my experience, this will not happen. It might be that the only way to get past this is to deal with a year or more of anger and couples counseling. And no, this is not fair.

      If you really, truly feel that you can let go of this, and not obsess over it and become depressed and angry, I think I would suggest this: let it go – but watch him. If he cheats again, then you need to confront him. If he doesn’t cheat – then there will come a time when it will be clear that he learned from his mistake.

      Is there really no-one you can discuss this with? I sought advice from a Catholic priest. And then ignored it because what does a priest know about marriage? Years later I realized that his advice was spot-on. He lacked practical experience, but he had observed the situation acted out in all of its variations so many times.

      However you decide to go, I wish you well.

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you for this, I know this is a brief reply but your words really have been helpful, thank you.

    8. BritCred*

      Its your marriage and your space. And you have to set the rules of what you are happy knowing and not knowing.

      Yes, any significant change – bereavement included – can spark an affair. Because it makes people re-evaluate their surroundings and often in an unbalanced way – not thinking of the consequences and only caught up in the feelings and the highs and lows of it.

      Question is what did you notice during the affair? Him being Distanced? Him being nicer/ruder? Whatever you noticed WILL most likely happen again in the future some when and when it does? You’ll wonder if he’s having another affair. Whether he is or not.

      Personally? I’d bring it up. Because at some level it will be playing in his mind too.

      (And I say this as someone who has both had an affair and been on the partner side of an affair)

      1. Anon for this*

        You raise a good point. I knew when it ended because of his changes in behaviour again, but you’re right I may end up feeling suspicious at other times. Thank you for your words, they’re important things to consider.

    9. also betrayed*

      Hi –

      I’m so sorry :(

      I have experienced marital infidelity as well, shortly after a traumatic loss (I’m the betrayed partner). I would caution you that, first of all, it’s not okay that your husband’s response to trauma was to commit adultery. It indicates very poor coping mevhanisms. If unaddressed, you can expect this same coping mechanism to surface again down the road in response to another loss, whether a death or job loss or loss of a lifelong friendship, etc. Right now you are likely feeling relieved in a sense that your husband ‘chose’ you and that your suspicions were not crazy. In time, if you don’t address this, you will resent him, and it will have a huge effect on your relationship.

      If nothing else, I think you should read “Not Just Friends” by Dr. Glass and “After the Affair” which I think is by Janice….Spring? And Google “surviving infidelity forum” and “talk about marriage forums” and just read there if you’re not comfortable posting.

      again, I’m so sorry :(

      1. Anon for this*

        Thank you so much for your kinds words, and I’m sorry you have had a similar experience too. I’ll definitely take a look at those things you mentioned, thank you. I think this may need a conversation, I don’t know. But thank you for your help.

  16. PotentialStudent*

    Is a Communications and Media Sudies Degree useful in any way? I’m trying to break out of the ‘call centre sales’ box and don’t know where to start because I’m not good enough at math to do study something guaranteed like accounting or finance but I NEED to get out of sales and call centre work before I go insane…

    1. misspiggy*

      Personally, I think the only useful degree is the one you really want to study – either because you have a passion for the subject, or because you can see how you can use it to progress in your career.

      Rather than eliminating things on the basis of what you’re not good at, it could be better to start with your strengths and interests. What do you care about? What are you good at (in all areas, not just academic or technical skills)? Where could these areas take you in work? (Maybe use this blog or a career consultant to help with that one.) Would you need further study to follow that direction? Should the study be now, or after you’ve gained a bit of experience in the field? Etc.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Totally agree with this. Don’t get any degree because you think it might be interesting or– especially or– because you think it might be easy. I have a master’s in a communications field and almost went for a PhD, and that’s because I was (still am, I guess) truly passionate about the subject. But out of my cohort of 45 people or so, only two people got good jobs in their chosen careers, and I fell into a related career that has taken me pretty far from what I initially went in to study. Entry-level jobs in communications are hard to come by (particularly in the more “glamorous” areas, like PR and advertising) and they pay peanuts. If you see your next step as getting a degree in Communications, then yes, do it– but don’t do it as a way out.

        That said, I’m a big proponent of education in any form. Maybe a certificate in something, like project management or coding? Look into subjects that interest you on any level– maybe you’re really organized and would be a great fit for human resources. Maybe you’re a decent artist and can look into graphic design. Start there, and good luck!

        1. MissDisplaced*

          I loved my communications studies too, but yeah the PhD is a tough sell unless you plan to teach.

    2. FD*

      Do you know what you might be interested in doing? There are some jobs for which call center work would qualify you without an additional degree.

    3. Felicia*

      I have this degree and a job in the field now, and i’d say…kind of sort of. It’s an extremely competitive field to break into , like 300 applicants for every single job competitive, and I did 4 internship and applied for 2 years before I got my job. That being said, I don’t regret it. I really enjoyed my degree, and I’m really passionate about it. In my degree program, the mandatory internship as well as the practical classes like graphic design, web writing, web design etc were most helpful, so i’d recommend degree programs with those. So if you’re passionate about the subject/field, then do it. However if you’re just looking for an easy way to get out of sales/call centre work, then don’t, because it’s not that. Many of my friends in my program were still stuck in that kind of work for a year or two after graduating, and many still are.

    4. MissDisplaced*

      Well, this is what I have. Undergrad in English, Masters in Communication, and I’m doing quite well now and glad I did the masters. However, I also had a partial undergrad in graphic design and have been working in printing, publishing and various media and marketing communications for 15+ years. So really for me, the advanced degree was the cherry on top of what I’d already been doing for a long, long time.

      Some might call Comm a “useless” degree. I don’t agree with them, but I also don’t think this is some “easy” degree or field to break into. On the plus side, this can be a versatile degree that can take you into public relations, marketing, digital media, etc. But do your research before you jump into this! As others have said, media fields are extremely competitive and you want to understand the specialty you’re interested in.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Yeah, I’d agree with others that are saying Comms/Media is not an easy field to break into… and a degree won’t do it. If you have the degree, some charisma and public speaking skills, that could help. Or the degree, plus great writing and a drive to make a difference, that would also work.

      If you’re looking for a general degree to get you a general job… that USED to work. Back before the economy crashed. Now, I’m not convinced it does. There are ways you can focus your degree to what you want to do, but very often, there’s a lot more that you can do to become qualified for jobs that don’t involve getting a degree at all.

      If you want to be involved in broadcast journalism, for instance, I’d say your first step isn’t going to college… it’s finding local stories, writing them up, and then setting up a webcam and a Youtube channel. If you want to be in politics, get on a campaign right now, as a field fellow or canvasser (both are often/usually paid, if not a lot), get a couple cycles in, and meet some people.

      If you just want something that pays and will get you out of the call center, learn to code. Codecademy is a great, free resource. Learn that and some graphic design and you have a skillset that not only offers lots of jobs directly, but also are a great secondary skillset for jobs in a lot of fields, including general administrative/assistant gigs. Similarly, if you’re not great at Word or Excel, those are some primary skill sets that you can learn to increase your value in a lot of situations.

      Good luck!

  17. Bluesapphires*

    There was an article about a teapot invitational in our paper this week, which made me think of this site. Sadly no mention of chocolate ones. link —

  18. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Bejeweled Blitz 3 is free on Origin atm. It’s been free for a few weeks so I don’t know when that ends.

    Bejeweled is a good repetitive game brain clearer for me. Kind of unclogs my pathways, if that makes any sense. (I think that makes sense to some of the folks here as we had sort-of-this-conversation earlier this week.)

    So affirming! The man with the gravelly voice tells me I am “Amazing! Spectacular!” and many other nice things. Shiny gems, big explosions, whirling lights. I love things that go *boom*.

    There’s also a Zen mode which I am trying to be more, um, Zen. Jury is out on that one.

    I’ll post a link in reply to this post.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Pity that EA totally destroyed Origin. Ulima was amazing. “What’s a paladin?” indeed :P Okay, old school gamer rant mode off. I will download this because I like it, and it’s free :D

    1. Rebecca*

      I like Candy Crush, although I’m stuck on level 95 and I don’t buy extra things from the Amazon store (I play it on my Kindle). I limit myself to playing a few times a week, and I totally get the feedback part.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Yeah, the Candy Crush craze has made me smile. I was doing Pop Cap games ’round about the turn of millennium (whenever Pop Cap started up) so I already did my obsessive-play-this-stupid-game-why-am-i-not-going-to-bed-ffs turns with that style a long time ago.

        I was the weird one then! Now the rest of humanity got stuck on Candy Crush. :)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This is my deep secret for dumping out everything racing through my head. Upthread some were talking about mediation. Playing a simple online game sometimes is the only way I can clear my head to get the day’s events in order so I can sleep. Ha!- then I found out that my brilliant boss does something similar! Made me feel better. Something about playing a game slows down the racetrack I have inside my head.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Before computer games (yes, that old :p), I did the big puzzle books, remember them? And always had several decks of cards around for solitaire.

        Old school never declared me “Amazing! Spectacular!” though.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Nope. Never once had a game of solitaire speak to me. lol. I had a few puzzle books myself. I also had a peg game, I think I still have it. You remove pegs by jumping over them with other pegs- kind of like checkers but for one player. I played that for so many hours.

      2. fposte*

        For me it’s jigsaw puzzles on the iPad with Creative Commons images off of Flickr and NASA, so I can keep getting new images. They’re just perfect to get my brain to focus on this one unimportant thing and let the rest of it go. Tying in with the topic upthread, I guess it’s my version of mindfulness.

    3. AnonyMostly*

      I love Bed and Candy Crush for unclogging my pathways. I like that. Back in the day I played solitaire too. I like playing at my own pace which is why I don’t do game requests. I don’t want the easy fix, I need to work through the level. I also purposely starting playing after the craze and hype so I wouldn’t be sucked in to my friends game play by giving lives and etc. I was quite disappointed when Candy Crush decided to advance me a level because I had been stuck there for awhile.

  19. Starbux*

    I wrote about my situation a few weeks ago with a friend. Basically, we didn’t see eye – to – eye on a situation, she didn’t like that I didn’t agree with her, and decided to get others involved, and some disagreements broke out amongst other friends as a result. I have not spoken to her since.

    Since every thing happened, I have realized that she was a major source of drama, anxiety, and negativity in my life. I am glad to be free of this.

    A couple of days ago, she called and left a voice mail. She acted like everything was fine.

    I don’t know what to do. Part of me would like to ignore the call. I don’t necessarily want to have a dramatic talk about ending our friendship either. At this point, I have no interest in remaining friends.

    1. Colette*

      So if you don’t want to remain friends, what is the downside to just ignoring the message?

      Since you have mutual friends, you do need to get to a place where you can be polite to her – but that doesn’t mean you gave to be friends.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      She acted like everything is fine.

      This is more of the same drama/anxiety stuff, but in a different costume. You are supposed to sit there and wait for her to decide everything is fine? No, I don’t think so. In healthy relationships people talk through their problems. They don’t get others involved, they don’t start disagreements, they don’t stop speaking to each other and then like a water faucet one day turn the friendship back on.

      I agree, refuse to ride her roller coaster. Life does not have to be that hard. There are too many people who are willing to offer stable and consistent friendships.
      Ignore the call. If need be at a later time, just say that you think the two of you should agree to disagree on the matter and that you have other things that you need to take care of. Say in the tone of “Period. End of discussion.”

    3. Mister Pickle*

      Awwww. That’s so sweet! She misses screwing you around!

      Blow her off. In fact, if you can set your phone / text / email to auto-ignore her, do that. Life is too short to waste time on people like her.

  20. Rebecca*

    Mama Cat and Kitten Update: I saw the kittens! Late yesterday afternoon, I went for a walk, and she was outside at the trailer down the street with last fall’s offspring (there are 3) and 2 or 3 very small kittens. I thought there were 3, but I may have been wrong. The people weren’t home, so I trespassed/stepped into the driveway area, and she walked up for a pat on the head. On my way home, she followed me, with the 3 older kittens, back to my house! I thought I had seen another color of small kitten, but it may have been two angles of the same mottled color kitten…and this morning, Mama and 2 small kittens were on the back porch.

    I can’t even get close to the kittens, but I gave her some extra canned food and petted her for a bit. I hope to at least get them to the SPCA, and I’d really like to take her to get spayed, but I’ve been keeping an eye on where she goes for the past 7 weeks, and she seems to live at the trailer on the corner, so she’s not truly a stray. Now I’m on the fence about that. Maybe I should offer to pay for spaying at my vet’s office, and let the woman who livest here take her?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      It’s hard to tell.

      I think what I would consider is paying the vet directly and then giving her a copy of the receipt. Perhaps you can work out an agreement with the vet that she shows up within X time frame or the vet will give you your money back.

      1. Kerry (Like The County In Ireland)*

        Look, if the owner has cats roaming around unspayed, she deserved to have them vanish and return fixed. Owner is being irresponsible; you are doing the cat and community a favor.

  21. nep*

    Sounds like the time and space have allowed you to breathe, liberate yourself, and realise something important.
    Whether you decide to ignore the call or eventually talk with her, you don’t have to go back to the drama, anxiety, and negativity. (Sometimes being ‘determined’ not to engage with a person for fear of being sucked back in gives undue power to the negativity. Might be a good idea to just go with whatever happens (you two talk again or you don’t), staying grounded in your new-found freedom.)

    1. Starbux*

      That’s my plan – just to see what happens and not stress over the situation. I’m sure I will run into her occasionally, but that doesn’t mean I have to get on her drama merry-go-round.

  22. EA*

    Due to having to be at work at 0600 hours this morning, I only watched the first half of my favorite football team’s game last night. Left the 2nd half on the DVR to watch after work today, and have been making a concentrated effort to avoid Facebook and So of course, my co-worker comes in (he knows which team I follow), and the first thing he says is “Congratulations, good game last night” … ARGH!!

    1. The IT Manager*

      I agree with your ‘arrrgggg,’ but since they won it will still be an enjoyable watch.

    1. Colette*

      Sigh. Me either – we are above zero, but it’s still on its way, which means I need to get the yard cleaned up, turn off the water, etc.

  23. Katie the Fed*

    I’m getting MARRIED in a week! GAHHHHH! I’m excited and nervous and stressed and it’s all just so crazy!

    Any tips for keeping my sanity this week?

    1. Sarahnova*

      Just remember that all that really matters on the day is that you end up married. If you have an officiant and witnesses and a partner that’s excited to marry you, you have everything you need :)

      Everything else, I promise, will sort itself out. Give your chief attendant, if you have one, lists of what’s supposed to happen when and phone numbers of any suppliers, and then absolve yourself of any responsibility on the day other than enjoying yourself. Your day will be fantastic even if the caterers screw up or the flowers are wrong or someone’s elderly aunt makes a scene, I promise.

    2. Mimmy*

      Yes…..breeeeeathe!! This is the point where the little details start swirling. Just take it one step at a time, and let your family and friends help if offered. Also, remember to enjoy any events this week and take in every moment you can on the actual wedding day. I was SUPER nervous on my wedding day, but once I was going down the aisle, everything became worth it and I just took it all in. It seriously was the most glorious day of my life.

      ((((hugs)))) huge congrats to you!!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s like a high or a kick, ride the wave. Enjoy it (excited) don’t fight it (nervous and stressed). It is what it is. Yours. And no matter what goes on, for the rest of your lives you will say “the day we got married”. Try, try, try to remember the only part you “have to” get right is where you say “I will”.

    4. Mister Pickle*

      Woo-hoo! Congratulations!

      My only advice would be: Enjoy it. Don’t let little things bug you. You’ll likely have a lot of opportunity to spend time with some of your favorite people; take advantage of that.

    5. danr*

      Yay,,, have a good time and remember it’s the party that counts for your guests. No one else will notice the bobbles. At mine, the organist played the wrong tune and I’m muttering “she’s not going to come down” and she’s muttering to the poor kid who’s the runner “It’s the wrong song”, but she came down anyway and no one knew any different. We still laugh about it. We were the first of three weddings, and wonder if he mixed up all of the tunes.

    6. Jubilance*

      No tips beyond trying to relax, delegate what you can, and remember that all that matters is that you end up married.

      Congrats and best wishes! Can’t wait to hear how it all went!

    7. Kay*

      My mantra for my wedding was “No matter what, at the end of the day, we’ll still be married”. The caterer messes up? Doesn’t matter, we’re still going to be married. Your cousin Sue does a drunken toast that embarrasses everyone. Doesn’t matter, you’re still married.

      Also, this is the time when all the TINY details start rearing their ugly heads. Don’t get too bogged down on it. No one will remember those things long term. Even you.

      If it will make you feel more sane/prepared, make a timeline of how everything is supposed to go and distribute it to all important parties: vendors, wedding party, close family so everyone knows where they’re supposed to be and what they’re supposed to be doing.

      Congratulations! You’re going to feel so relieved and happy afterwards… both because you’re married and because you’re done planning!

  24. Emily*

    I came out as asexual on facebook yesterday and got an unexpected number of likes and positive comments! No jerks yet, either. Basically I have A+ friends.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Some day this will be a normal response from people. I look forward to that day. You have intelligent, thinking friends. Good for you, all around.

    2. StudentA*

      I’m curious and hope you don’t mind me asking. How did you realize you were asexual?

      Also, congrats on having awesome friends!

      1. Emily*

        No problem! I’ve actually known since sometime in late high school (I’m 23 now, so 6+ years?). I had heard of asexuality before that, but just assumed that other people were like me…until some of my friends started having sex or being interested in sexual activities and I realized that I was not experiencing whatever they were experiencing.

        I think that visibility has increased a lot just in the last few years, for which I’m grateful. That, and knowing other people in real life who are ace (which goes hand-in-hand with the visibility thing – especially since some of them have not known about it for as long as I have!), have helped me become more comfortable with talking about it.

    3. Nona*

      That’s great!

      I’m bisexual but I didn’t come out because I was preoccupied with events leading up to this: SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IS NOW LEGAL IN MY STATE!!!!!!!!

  25. BRR*

    I booked my honeymoon this week and I’m super excited. We’re going to Costa Rica in February so I’m happy to be able to escape the cold. I had already read any available material out there on the resort when picking where to go so now I’m on to the practical aspects like trying to figure out how much cash to bring and what I need to pack. I was able to buy $6 shorts from gap. Does anybody know what I should wear on hikes?

    1. Episkey*

      My husband & I went to Costa Rica for about a week and loved it! You will have a great time! I suggest getting a few shorts & t-shirts that are very quick drying. I brought a bunch of very thin all-cotton t-shirts (the “Vintage” style from Old Navy) along with running shorts that are made of the quick-dry material and those all worked well

      Sandals like Tevas are good, but warning that they will probably smell horrible by the end of the trip. Bring a plastic bag to wrap them in so they don’t smell up everything in your luggage. Bring socks that you don’t mind throwing away. I didn’t wear socks very often, but my husband did and that’s what he ended up doing.

      Things take a long time to dry out since it’s very wet/humid especially in the rainforest portions of CR. We also went to a mountainous region and it was much cooler and less humid, so if you are planning on going to several different regions, keep that in mind. I brought a long sleeve half zip that I use for running and it was enough of a layer for the cooler mountain region.

  26. kas*

    Has anyone been watching Stalker? I’ve watched most of the new series but this one is my favourite! There’s only two episodes out right now but both have been creepy/scary at times, which I love. If you haven’t seen it and like Criminal Minds, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this.

    I’ve also given up on How To Get Away With Murder. I’ll read about what happened when the season is over, I can’t be bothered with the show anymore.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      When I heard there was a show called _Stalker_ coming out, I was excited because I thought it was based on the Tarkovsky movie of the same name (based on _Roadside Picnic_).


    2. coconut water*

      I wasn’t going to watch it because I thought it might trigger me. (Victim of a stalker) I got really curious about the characters back stories. When the female lead turned the table on the creepy college guy stalker – I was like “Wow- what’s going on here!??” So now I keep wondering as to why she did that !?!.
      Did she do it to save the victim by knowing the creeper would start stalking her? I was so afraid the college guy victim was going to commit suicide because he was so stressed out. I know that feeling.

      So far it is intriguing and hasn’t triggered me. The female stalker/kidnapper did remind me a bit of the person who stalked me but happily, I’m much more able to handle and manage these days.

  27. AvonLady Barksdale*

    This isn’t so much a problem as an observation: my family and my boyfriend’s are sooooo different. For now, it’s “just how they are”, but it just feels so weird and I want to make sure it doesn’t become a problem. We recently moved to a city that is a 90-minute drive from his parents, and they came out a few weeks ago for lunch, to see the place, etc. Since then? Nothing. We thought about going out there this weekend, but when my boyfriend called to set up a time, there was no answer. “Maybe he went out of town.” Whaaa???? To me, this is madness! On several levels. If we lived 90 minutes away from my family, I’d be getting bugged right and left about why don’t you come over, we don’t see you enough, how about Saturday, etc., which has its own problems, but this very passive attitude about visiting boggles my mind. I realize this is my problem– and it’s not even that big a deal– but I have no idea how to reconcile it. My boyfriend’s dad is great, and he and my boyfriend have a great relationship, but they talk maybe once every two weeks. My grandmother gives me a hard time if I call her 3 days after the last time I called her. I guess I’m also kind of bothered because we haven’t been invited, but that ‘s just not how his family rolls, I guess.

    Neither style is better or worse, but I’m curious to see how other people handled these types of familial cultural differences. Any stories? (It’s gloomy here and I need a good story!)

    1. BRR*

      I’m in a similar situation. We used to live 2 hours from my fiancé’s parents and rarely saw them. And when we did it was always us going to them. Meanwhile my parents flew out twice a year and I also frequently traveled to other family events to see them. It’s still kind of weird now with the wedding. my family’s mind set is you’d have to be in a coma in order to not make it while his has people not coming for a variety of reasons. At the end of the day it’s just different and while I have heard how other families operate it takes some time to adjust to being part of how another family operates.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Strange, isn’t it? I mean, when I think about it, there are benefits– we don’t have two families tugging on us for attention, for one thing. When we get married, we won’t have to fight for “control” over minutiae. I know that sometimes it bothers my boyfriend and that bothers me, but for the most part, it’s just… different.

        1. BRR*

          I should add that part of the reason is most of his extended family lives around where his parents live which is also where both sets of grandparents live so because the majority lives there that’s where events occur. But even though for four years he lived 2 hours away his parents only came to visit him three times. Once to set up his apt when he moved there, once because of a wedding in the area and they saved on a hotel this way, and once because I said they should visit us for a change. Now we live ~9 hours away by car so the dynamic has definitely changed in terms of us going to his parents every time.

          I agree there are definitely benefits. Similarly I think it sometimes bothers my fiancé. His family dynamic has also been the “head quarters” is in the middle of nowhere small town and if you wanted to go to live in the big city there were several within 3 hours which we used to live in one. Now that we’re further away it’s much more difficult for him to get home.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Families express their love in different ways. Your family says, “where the heck are you?” And that means “I love you, I want to see you.” His family says, “I love you and I know you are around.”
      It can be culture shock seeing how the other half’s family operates, though. I do agree. The only solution I ever came up with was just to trust that if my husband said, “This is normal for us, this is okay.”
      Difficult though. I will agree.

    3. Fucshia*

      My family is like your boyfriend’s family and I would find your constant need for contact with all members of your family strange and time consuming (especially with my large family). Each family is different.

      If you want more contact with them, you might try reaching out through email or Facebook. Then they can go about their active lives without needing to get getting caught on a call and they can reply when they are available. Facebook has becomea great way for my family to keep in touch with everyone’s happenings and everyone can join into the discussions.

    4. Jen RO*

      My family is similar to your boyfriend’s, and like Fucshia I would find frequent contact a bit weird… but to each his/her own.

    5. Alder*

      I’m from a family of reserved introverts who call or email once a week, and I’ve always made big decisions (job, moving across the country, college major, all that) without even asking my parents for advice. My partner’s family calls at least once a day, and they’ll get on the phone for help deciding which brand of milk to buy. We live about an hour from their family, and it’s taken me more than a year to get used to how friendly and talkative everyone is- I think my partner’s mom knows more about my day-to-day life than my mom does! It felt weird and stifling at first. But now that I’ve finally figured out that this is just how they work, it’s nice.

      Meanwhile, I have to translate my mom’s quiet introvertedness when we visit…

    6. Just Visiting*

      My husband’s family is like your family and my family is like your boyfriend’s. I lived in a city 90 minutes away from them and saw them basically three times a year for the entire time I lived there. What’s weird is my family is incredibly smothering as long as you’re living under the same roof, but move into another zip code and it’s “out of sight, out of mind.” I talk to them once a month, maybe every six weeks. If your boyfriend isn’t upset about it (and I’m not upset about it… well, sometimes when I share something awesome going on in my life on Facebook, I’d like a little more than a “like” from them, but what can you do?), then it’s not your job to be.

    7. doreen*

      Unlike the other commenters , there’s not a difference between “my family” and my husband’s family. ” My family” is in quotes because there was a huge difference between my mother’s family and my father’s family when I was growing up. My father’s parents and one brother lived a 15 minute walk from us when I was a kid – and I saw them less often (maybe three times a year) than I saw my mother’s aunts, uncles and cousins. In fact, I still see that side of the family less often than my mothers extended family.

      The good part of that was that we never had the sort of “tug of war” that my husband and I have for Will we have two Thanksgiving dinners or spend Christmas Eve with one family and Christmas Day with the other or will we try to cram 40 people into our pretty small house or run from one Memorial Day/ Fourth of July/Labor Day BBQ to another… ?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That holiday tug of war is my worst nightmare, so I feel for you! We avoid that not only because of family differences but also because I’m Jewish and he’s not. I never have to worry about whose family will get Christmas. :-)

        I think my bf thanks his lucky stars every day that my mother isn’t close by– and I do too, because despite all the communication, she and I do not have a good relationship and spending time with her can be extremely difficult for him and me.

        1. doreen*

          You’re lucky – I still get that tug of war over Christmas even though my husband’s family is not Christian (not Jewish either, some sort of Buddhist/Taoist/Confucian combination)

    8. Ada Lovelace*

      My boyfriend is of the mindset where once he turned 18, he saw his parents as adults primarily. That means he doesn’t have to visit constantly or call daily. His mother never got the message. I see how much she wants him around so I try to get us to visit every few months. On the other hand, I grew up with my dad’s family around the block. I visit my parents once a week, although I am still trying to train my mother not to call me so much (she’s down to very other day). He would rather see people primarily for birthdays but he knows how I feel about it, so we’ve kinda compromised one on weekend every 6-8 weeks for family.

    9. matcha123*

      On the other end, I find it very curious that there are families that spend so much time with each other.
      Maybe because my family consists of a core of three people, and a “family get together” had 6 people at most.

      What would you want to do with his family? Is it important to you to spend a lot of time with them? I’d personally feel very uncomfortable around strangers, even if someone in my family was married to a member of theirs.

  28. Masters Degree Searcher*

    If you have two ethnic parents who are dead-set on fixing you up with an ethnic guy, and you’re happily in a relationship with a non-ethnic guy, what’s the best way to introduce said guy to the parents with minimal craziness/arguments/turmoil?

    I do drop hints about non-ethnic guy every now and then, but their minds seem as closed as closed can be. How do I show them he’s the bee’s knees (read: awesome, treats me well, loves me)?

    1. BRR*

      I think you just have to tell them. I was out to my parents for a while but I felt like it was different when they actually had to meet my boyfriend. In order to keep their shocked feelings down I told them on my birthday (why are you yelling at me on my birthday?!?!). Not the most mature thing but it went well. I think not just hinting about it but you have to tell them so they can start wrapping their heads around it.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Organize a family viewing of My Big Fat Greek Wedding! No? OK.

      Yeah, you just have to tell them. Invite them out (OUT) to dinner or brunch with your guy. My mom used to send me emails about so-and-so’s son lives near you, you should call him, etc., and I would simply say, “Mom, I have a boyfriend. A serious one. Stop.” We were living together, which made it easier (and worse, on her part), but I just had to keep repeating myself.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I like the point about going out. Remove the home field advantage and make it everybody’s public place.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Our problem was our age difference. We got my parents turned around by showing how responsible he was. My husband had spent a lot of time reading a lot of different things, this meant he could talk about a lot of different topics. That helped, too.
      Think about your guy’s best points and think about how to high light those points. Where are his strengths?

    4. Jean*

      How nice that you and this guy who is awesome, treats you well, and loves you have found each other!

      As another person from a family that values its ethnic identity (but also accepts the non-ethnic partners who have married “in” over the years) I’m moved to briefly comment on why parents may react with less than 100% joy when a child chooses a partner from a different background. Here’s my list, going from the most altruistic to the most self-focused:

      – It’s great to see your child establish a loving, supportive relationship with a good person.
      – It’s a compliment to your own parenting when your child chooses to continue the ethnic identity with which you raised him or her.
      – It can be difficult to watch a child make choices that differ from your own re: wedding officiants, holiday celebrations, continuing or not continuing various customs in their own homes, passing or not passing ethnic knowledge/cultural customs/religious traditions to the grandchildren.
      – Depending on the specific ethnicity, it can be embarassing, logistically awkward, or flat-out impossible to be comfortable with a “different” daughter- or son-in-law. This can be due to anything from “What do I do? This has NEVER before happened to anybody in our family or anyone else I have ever known in my entire life?” to “oh no–my child’s spiritual well-being is in terrible danger” to “how can I face my own friends & family when my child has chosen this person who stands out like a sore thumb?”

      Some parents are so rooted in a Very Traditional, One-Culture-Only Lifestyle that their only choice is to reject the “different” child-in-law along with their own child. Or at least it seems as if this is the only possible choice. (I don’t recommend this.) Some parents can manage on a day-to-day basis although they may find it painful or awkward on certain occasions, such as when the new child-in-law is not following the same food traditions or when the religious authorities–if a specific religion is a package deal with the family ethnicity–forbids the child-in-law to participate in religious life-cycle ceremonies. And some parents are able to expand their outlook on life and say, “this isn’t what I expected, life is going to be different now, but because my child is happy and X is a great person, things will be okay or even great.” (Depending on the family, people may or may not include a justification such as “God doesn’t make mistakes” or “this person is created in God’s image, same as everybody else” in their thinking as they come to accept the situation.)

      I tried to be brief–and to keep this as ethnically non-specific as possible–but this is a complicated subject! Given the generally thoughtful way that people respond here, it will be interesting to see whether my comment sparks any responses.

    5. Mister Pickle*

      Just another datapoint: I know someone who was being pushed hard by her family to ‘stay ethnic’ until she became involved with a non-ethnic fellow who was extremely successful. In the end, her father considered the suitor’s success to be more important than his ethnicity.

    6. matcha123*

      I’m having this issue on my bf’s side.

      Honestly, I think in this case it is up to you to bring up the issue.
      You are the person that knows your parents best. If I can suggest some things NOT to do (that my bf did):

      – Don’t leave him alone with your parents while you go off somewhere.
      – Don’t expect your parents to just suck it up and like him because you said so.
      – Don’t spring a meeting upon them.

      – Do tell your parents about him and keep the conversation positive.
      – Do be prepared to argue with them (and have your own counter arguments prepared)
      – Do tell him honestly about your parents feelings.
      – Do tell him what he can do to make your parents like him more (ex: Bringing a small treat to eat after dinner will make them happy./Don’t talk about religion./Don’t smoke around them./etc.)

      If you like him, and heck, even if you might break up, you are the one that has to communicate everything you like about him to your parents. It’s your will that will impress him. My boyfriend is like: “You’re great and if my parents don’t understand that they’re stupid…but I’m not willing to fight with them.”
      If your boyfriend knows what you’re up against, he can understand you better and it takes a bit of pressure off you. Especially if he’s willing to engage in activities (within reason) that would make your parents happy.

      1. Jean*

        Wow, you sound like you’d be a wonderful addition to any family! You observe the family, try to find reasonable ways to please the parents without sacrificing your own principles*, and tell the parents about their child’s good characteristics that you appreciate. In other words, you’re doing your best to reach out to the family of your significant other (or fiance, or spouse), and form a relationship with them that is as warm as possible.

        This is good advice for anyone whether or not he/she is with someone of a different ethnicity, background, etc. (And oh, my, was I young and dumb when I married DH.)

        *examples: Going to a special annual holiday meal or sitting respectfully through a once-a-year religious service (without being pressured to sit/stand/sing)? Yes. Complying with demands to convert to a religion in which one does not truly believe? No.
        Sitting around being companionable during a get-together even if some folks occasionally express political ideas not compatible with one’s own? Yes. Enduring long rants against one’s politics on every.single.visit? No.

  29. nep*

    Anyone here known someone stricken by rhabdomyolysis? Was it from an accident? exertion? Just looking more into this condition and interested to hear of people’s experience with it.

    1. fposte*

      I’ll be interested to hear what people say–it startled me years ago, as a horse person, to find it out it happens in people too, but I don’t know anybody who’s dealt with it. (I have a bit of a fear of compartment syndrome, TBH.) If it’s something you’re facing in yourself or a family/friend, I hope there’s swift improvement.

      1. nep*

        Interesting. Yes — I gather only horses and humans are affected by this?
        Thanks to both for the kind words/thoughts. Fortunately I’m not facing this myself, nor do I have a loved one who is.

    2. Mimmy*

      I used to watch The Biggest Loser, and I remember one contestant several years ago collapsed and had to be hospitalized after a grueling run on the first day; she was limited in her exercise for a few days afterwards. They didn’t get into medical details (probably due to privacy), but I just looked up the condition, and I’m betting this is what the contestant had.

      If you or a loved one has it, wishing for a speedy recovery. Sounds like a nasty condition.

  30. Windchime*

    Does anyone else here like to knit? What projects are you working on? I’m going to knit two items for Christmas gifts. I’ve started a scarf for my sister made of a very lightweight (yet slightly fuzzy) yarn. It’s knit on the bias and should be very warm and light. I’ve also ordered some washable wool yarn from my local yarn shop to knit a thick cable afghan for my son and his new bride. I hope that comes quickly so I can get started!

    Also–if you knit or crochet, I hope you know about Ravelry. It’s a great site for anyone who does needlecraft.

    1. Anonyby*

      I love Ravelry! I both knit and crochet (knit more than crochet), though stress from the last couple of years has decreased my desire/ability to work on projects. During the summer I was working on a knit parasol.

    2. Jubilance*

      I’m working on a scarf for my fiance, and I’m about halfway through. Sadly I have a sweater that I started sitting in my knitting bag and I have no motivation to continue to work on it :-(

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This is me with half the projects I start. :-( Motivation can be so hard. I made my dog a sweater last year, but nothing since.

  31. Good_Intentions*

    The Right Way to be Poor
    I’m positing this question sincerely; so, please take it in that regard. In your opinion, is there a “right” way for low-income to behave, particularly when seeking financial and other assistance from a nonprofit serving their demographic?

    For the past 13 months, I have worked in the Communications and Outreach Department for a multi-program nonprofit serving roughly 20,000 low-income people annually. My office adjoins the outreach director’s space where she counsels individuals and families living in poverty.

    The stories I overhear as I walk to and from my office space are truly heartbreaking, especially for people who have young children. My heart really is touched listening to people talk about going to and be released from prison, temporarily losing custody of a child(ren), and coping with drug addictions and other issues.

    While I truly sympathize with our clients, I cannot help but be suspicious of the expensive cars and luxury items I see (Coach and Michael Kors purchases, Clinique make-up and perfume that’s applied while people wait in the lobby and sometimes during meetings with the outreach director, Nike and other name brand shoes). These people arrive at our worn brick building in a decaying neighborhood and ask for a myriad of services and admittance to programs while acting as examples of America’s famed idea of conspicuous consumption.

    The agency offers an entire roster of programs for individuals and families in need such as the following abridged list: sign them up for food stamps; register them for Medicaid via the Affordable Care Act; help them get reduce rates on utility costs; rewrite their resumes and find them jobs to which to apply; find drug rehab for them through the health department; teach them specific computer programs; refer them to food and clothing agencies; serve as references for them; direct them to childcare facilities; provide money and personal hygiene products; among others.

    So, am I out of line and out of touch for being bothered seeing a woman parking a black Lexus in our parking lot, getting out of the car with a Coach purse and wearing Nike shoes, and then asking the agency to help her keep her lights and water turned on and provide her resources to find a job? Does she or any of our clients have an obligation to “look poor” when asking for assistance?

    Does anyone have any advice on how to put aside judgment and just do my job as a communications specialist (responsibilities include: social media updates, create and distribute fliers, attend outreach events, etc.)?

    Keep in mind that I have absolutely no background in counseling or social work to assist vulnerable populations, but neither does the department leader who hired me and spends all day hiding out in his office.

    I am genuinely open to any ideas or constructive suggestions on this topic.

    1. fposte*

      Challenging question. I think there’s a cosmetically advantageous way to be poor, but I don’t think that’s the same thing as the right way to be poor. Stuff isn’t always self-bought, and it’s not always liquidity (there are a lot of functionally poor people in big houses after the real estate crash, after all). I’ve no doubt that some people spend money foolishly, but that doesn’t necessarily correlate with those who seem to spend money foolishly. I also would imagine that this isn’t true of all of your clients, and that most of the programs you administrate have eligibility thresholds that remove your judgment from the situation anyway.

      So not that you asked what you should do, but here’s what I think you should do :-). Accept that you don’t know what’s in everybody’s life and acknowledge that it’s more important that the program reaches the majority of people who really need it than it found guidelines so strict that nobody who seemed undeserving could get it. It’s also worth noting the decent research that suggests the stress of leading life in low income and poverty deplete intellectual reserves as well as emotional ones–you really can’t make decisions as well when you’re under that kind of stress.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thanks for the comment! I liked your phrase “cosmetically advantageous way to be poor” to describe my write-up of the agency’s clients having and using name brand goods.

        You are correct that realistically relatively few of the people using the nonprofit’s services own expensive goods. Many of the people visiting the outreach director’s office are living in transitional housing or staying with relatives and don’t much clothing, have a car, or show any designer items.

        Also, thank you for the final statement about how the stresses of being low-income leave people vulnerable to make bad choices. This is something I often forget.

        Again, I appreciate your feedback on my questions.

        1. fposte*

          I’m glad that it might have helped some. I think you’re doing a really hard job, and I’m sure there are a lot of frustrations.

    2. BRR*

      You have to remember you don’t know how they came onto these items. They could have bought them on sale or they could have been gifts or they could have spent all of their money on a purse and can’t pay the water bill. I wouldn’t say they have an obligation to look any way. People judge when you look poor and people judge when you’re poor and try and look nice. I think your best bet is that you don’t know everything about them and focus on excelling at your job.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Keep in mind that you don’t know people’s circumstances from the outside. Maybe the Coach bag was a gift and it’s the one thing that makes them feel good about their appearance right now. Maybe the shoes were hand-me-downs or bought at a thrift store. You can’t really know. And sure, of course there are people making bad choices — but you can’t know from the outside who is and who isn’t, and even if you did, those bad choices might look different if you had more context.

      Here’s an article the Washington Post ran recently about a woman with a Mercedes who was on food stamps. The whole thing is worth reading, but here’s the relevant quote:

      That’s the funny thing about being poor. Everyone has an opinion on it, and everyone feels entitled to share. That was especially true about my husband’s Mercedes. Over and over again, people asked why we kept that car, offering to sell it in their yards or on the Internet for us.

      “You can’t be that bad off,” a distant relative said, after inviting himself over for lunch. “You still got that baby in all its glory.”

      Sometimes, it was more direct. All from a place of love, of course. “Sell the Mercedes,” a friend said to me. “He doesn’t get to keep his toys now.”

      But it wasn’t a toy — it was paid off. My husband bought that car in full long before we met. Were we supposed to trade it in for a crappier car we’d have to make payments on? Only to have that less reliable car break down on us?”

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Great recommendation for the Washington Post article. I actually read it on a news blog a while ago as well as the comments on

        Funnily enough, I had forgotten about the article and the woman’s particular experience until you highlighted it as an example of how material goods don’t truly represent someone’s current financial situation. Thanks!

      2. Stephanie*

        Man, I remember the comments blew up on that article. Also, she was driving an older model Mercedes iirc. Those are usually worth less than a new Honda Civic.

      3. Mister Pickle*

        I didn’t read the article but the car thing is totally right on. I have a 500-class BMW – that I bought in the year 2000. The KBB value on it is insultingly, unbelievably low. But it’s all paid off, and when I clean it up, wash it, put some wax on it – it’s a head-turner – the folks at the Walgreens pick-up window tell me how much they love my car every month when I pick up my old-person meds. But even if it wasn’t – it’d make zero sense to sell it. Having said that: I’d be curious about the model year of the black Lexus in the original post.

        Having said that, I think fposte nailed it with this: “… it’s more important that the program reaches the majority of people who really need it than it found guidelines so strict that nobody who seemed undeserving could get it.”

      4. Stacy*

        Ditto what Alison said, especially the part about how things might look different to you if you had more context.

        I’ll use myself as an example. I currently have a couple of new(ish) pairs of shoes and quite a few new items of clothing bought over the summer at an outlet mall. Coming off of a few years of under/unemployment in my household it had been quite a while & I needed to update my wardrobe. Then a month ago my life imploded when an argument with my spouse resulted in my being left with several bruises on my body. Since then I’ve been plunged in to the world of domestic violence/domestic abuse, and I absolutely need help with very basic things like keeping a roof over my head, lights on, and food on the table. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to pursue those resources yet, because my number one priorities keep shifting back and forth between maintaining my safety/keeping the protection order in place, and my physical health (the stress of these kinds of situations & the toll it takes on you is indescribable. I never thought something like this would happen to me, but you don’t really realize you are in it until it is so far gone that you have no choice but to recognize it for what it is. I’m sure I’m hardly the only one in a similar situation who feels like that. I dread having to contact social service agencies and various resources and start the conversations about the various issues that I need help with right now, partly because these are really, really difficult conversations to initiate, but also very much because I am afraid of people thinking things like “well, she’s got a pretty fancy cell phone, and her clothes are in decent shape. Are those brand new sneakers? They look pretty expensive. She’s totally scamming the system”.

        I would give anything to not be in this situation, and to not have to ask for help. Unfortunately we don’t always get to decide exactly what our life circumstances are going to be at any given moment in time. Things happen. And almost everyone you know is probably dealing with something you would never guess to be the case from the outside.

          1. Stacy*

            Thanks. Those things will come in time. Well, the strength I just kind of have to keep finding right now. Peace will be a little further down the road, I think. I’ll get there though, one way or another.

        1. Denied Employment*

          I was in your shoes. I hope you find your way out of it.
          When I filed for divorce, our family home was being foreclosed and my car was repossessed I found myself trying to deal with all this on my own in less than 3 months. The only part my family knows about is the repossession of my car during that time. My family lives out of state.
          I needed help with the basic of basics because I was mostly a sahm. I had to move from a 3 bedroom home to a two family duplex. One eligibility specialist told me I should consider a cheaper apartment, to save money. Umm no, that would be me and my kids living in an seedy neighborhood.
          I feel the glares and stares when I arrive, with prepared with All my correctly filled out paperwork. I can sense them scouring my papers looking for something to say oh no we cant help you. I feel like some workers want me to be dishoveled, scatter brain, ignorant, 3 baby daddy type. No I have a steady job, I receive child support regularly, I have a degree, I drive a car, I pay my rent and utilities but at the end of the day I cant put enough food on my table, provide health insurance or buy oil. And I want to ask them ,would you live in the neighborhoods that you think I can afford to live to save on rent?

          1. Stacy*

            Exactly. And I own my condo, in a complex that has gone downhill in the last few years, so even if selling were something that could help me financially it’s not like that is any sort of quick fix. And I wouldn’t really have anywhere to go. Can’t exactly camp out on a friend’s couch with the dog very easily. And like hell I am letting my spouse get the dog. No. Way.

            There are times in life where you really, really need there to be some sort of magic button to push to help fix everything. Unfortunately that’s just not how life works. It’s too bad that so many people have such a hard time grasping just how tough it is, and how easily and quickly the circumstances of your life can totally change. It could happen to *anyone* in the blink of an eye, and so many people don’t understand that until/unless it actually happens to them.

    4. Rebecca*

      Maybe I can help. It’s entirely possible the woman you mentioned with the Black Lexus bought the car prior to losing her great paying job, ditto the purse, and got the Nike shoes at a thrift store. My Nike baseball cleats, that I use when I mow the lawn, came from a thrift store and cost $7.50, for example. I wouldn’t fault anyone for keeping a car that’s paid off instead of selling it, going through that money, and ending up with no job, no car, and no way to replace it. Same with the makeup – it could be left over from a better time.

    5. Mimmy*

      Everyone said pretty much what I was thinking, but couldn’t have expressed nearly as well. The quote from the article Alison posted points to another thought: They may’ve had those shoes / cars / purses before whatever situation led to becoming of low income. It’s very easy to judge–believe me, I think we’ve all done it, and I’m in the human services field, currently serving on a advisory council for the county’s human services office.

      A bit off topic, but what caught my eye right away was the fact that you are able to hear these sessions with the Outreach Director. Are there actual offices, or is it more or less open-floor? I’m not blaming you–it sounds like you have no choice but to hear these sessions–I’m just concerned about confidentiality (this was drilled into our heads when I was pursuing my MSW).

      1. Good_Intentions*


        I too often wonder about confidentiality in regard to the lengthy emotional conversations my colleague, the outreach director, has with the agency’s clients. Unfortunately, the building in which the organization is currently housed does not permit more space; therefore, I must intrude on her space regularly to get to and from my office as well as keep my door open a great deal of the time for air circulation–although I’m hoping my space heater will change that.

        The agency’s outreach director herself does not have a social work degree and instead relies on active listening and Bible quotes to help people. She also stops mid-session to make calls to other agencies to move along the referral process. Although the agency is a mostly federally-funded 501C3, she still inserts her religious beliefs into the sessions and makes a point to encourage people to read specific passages of the good book and attend local church services in their respective neighborhoods.

        I hope that answers your questions.

        Thanks for your comment!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I will take a modest attempt at this one. I worked full time and so did my husband. I quit my job and went back to school to finish my degree. I got my degree and started to job hunt. Then my world caved in. He died.

      The over all story was we went from a comfortable household income to NO income. And 20K in out of pocket medical debt. I cannot imagine what that would have been if he had lived longer than three months. 80K per year in out of pocket? Don’t know.

      Other things happened after that, I can’t go into it here. I have had some people say they can’t even listen to the story of what happened next. Overall, I have been very blessed and very taken care of. I feel most fortunate and I am actually enjoying new aspects of life. Then the economy fell.
      So yes,mine is more sob story, right? I think it comes with living life. I do have some nice things even though my income remains very modest. I am one of the most frugal people I know and I am always looking for ways to reduce costs. That is not the same as saying I have no interest in anything. For example: I decided I would like a camera. I could use it for some of my work and use it at home. I picked up a $250 camera for $5 at a tag sale just recently. I get very lucky sometimes. I shop consignment shops and I have brought home some impressive brand names for a few dollars. If people judge me on this, then I guess they really don’t know me.

      I was just talking to a friend who is about ten years older than me. Like me, he went to apply for help. Like me, he found the employees to be very angry and very unhappy people. He was treated poorly. I had a similar experience. Long stories but we both ended up refusing the aid because we could not hack going into that office. It’s not worth it. It’s easier to eat smaller meals/skip meals and keep the house temps on the chilly side.

      I think there is something inherent in our system. I don’t see our systems as offering a hand up. We need to massively rethink how we are doing things. I think our systems encourage people to remain down. People lose their pride, their character, their values and their ethics.
      There is a difference between a hand up and a hand out. There is a difference between handing out fish and handing out fishing poles.

      We (society) have yet to learn how to help people without stripping them of their dignity.

      All I could think to say to those sad office workers is “What happened to me, could happen to anyone of you in a heartbeat. And don’t think it couldn’t.”

      I know of a couple right now, neither works because he takes care of her. Her one med alone is $175K per year. She needs a helper med with that and that costs $30k per year. Neither spouse works, there’s no insurance coverage. That could have been me and my husband.

      In answer to your question, I would tell myself, “I am only a moment away from having some of the same troubles this person in front of me has.”
      Thanks for reading, sorry to rant/vent.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m not the OP, but thank you for sharing your perspective. This thread is really giving me a whole new perspective on poverty.

        I think there is something inherent in our system. I don’t see our systems as offering a hand up. We need to massively rethink how we are doing things. I think our systems encourage people to remain down.

        The interesting thing is my class just did a unit that included poverty issues, and the readings had a very different take–that the system tries to limit people getting welfare and giving them low amounts when they do get on the rolls. I should note that this was specifically focusing on social security disability benefits, not general welfare, so the ideologies may be different. (or maybe it is the same and I’m just not seeing it).

        1. fposte*

          There are probably sociologists here who can comment more knowledgeably, but I think that punishing people who need help longer isn’t the same thing a a hand up, and that the U.S. tends to focus on limiting the “moral hazard” (regardless of whether it seems to significantly exist or not) rather than equipping people for something else.

          There’s also the whole interesting thing about means-tested assistance vs. universal assistance–the U.S. tends to like the first a lot better, but there seems to be better results with the latter (free preschool for everybody in France, not just the people who can’t pay, for instance).

        2. Aardvark*

          I don’t think those are mutually exclusive — one of the best ways to limit people’s consumption of something is to make them feel like they don’t deserve it, or that they are somehow “less than” by using those services.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Sure. It’s their game so they can declare the rules. And there are probably lots of people that are fine with that. But if they are going to be fine with it, they can still be informed of how these programs are actually playing out in real life. But there are two groups of people being hurt here. One is the recipients and the other group is the employees who carry out these programs. In my area, these people appear to have bullet proof glass on their service windows. That speaks volumes alone. Judging from the little I have personally seen and a LOT that I have heard these employees are being broken by the system almost as badly as the recipients.

            1. Aardvark*

              You’re right, it does wear on the employees as well, and I didn’t mean to imply that it was the workers’ fault. It’s more of a systemic problem–the Horatio Alger myth, pitting people against each other (coded racism like the “Welfare Queen” or anti-immigrant rhetoric), and the means-based vs universal assistance fposte mentioned above.
              And wearing down the employees can contribute to this as well–it’s a subtle cycle of escalating frustration and difficulties that eventually wears on everyone involved.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Your story touches me. Having lost my husband suddenly also, I can barely imagine the extra to deal with economic insecurity on top of it. Hugs.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          And your story touched me, too. Thanks for the hugs. As you already know, sometimes hugely sad things happen and the next thing can be very, very beautiful. And this is how it has been going here. I am mostly in awe of what I see around me.
          I chose to remain in an area that never does well economically, even in boom times. But I am happy here and I feel safe here. That’s priceless. But it also has made me aware of how much we need things that are not available in stores for purchasing. It doesn’t come in a box, you can’t buy it and bring it home. And this kind of touches on where I am going with my comments- if a human being is made to feel they are of no value, they have nothing to offer that is the lowest of all lows. It breaks them. And that is when the hard problems start.

      3. chump with a degree*

        “I don’t see our systems as offering a hand up. ” Alas, that is it-the welfare system is designed to keep you in poverty, not lift you from it.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          @ chump,Yes, exactly. When the system was put in place it may have been the right idea for that time period and that group of folks. But times have changed, people have changed and jobs have changed.

          @ Mimmy, I don’t think the answer is to give people a raise in their welfare money. Likewise giving out more food stamps or heat assistance is not going to solve anything. There are problems there that all the money in the world will never fix. And that is what we (the collective “we”) need to look at. I think the biggest difficulty is that there is no one size fits all answer. What Jane needs is different from what Bob needs which, annoyingly, is yet again different from what Sue needs. No wonder the system is overwhelmed and bogged down.

          1. Anx*

            The one size fits all system is pretty limiting. And I think it builds resentment among those that fall into hard times but don’t fit neatly into a little box.

            I know I myself have had moments of resentment toward paying into a system that wasn’t there for me when I just wanted not to have to worry about money every single day so I could focus on a job search and career development. Also, I think the system is still built on the idea that unemployment and underemployment is a direct result of the applicant not having basic skills. I went in trying to get help learning office skills, technical skills, or writing skills. However, since I had a B.S. and wrote well above a 12th grade level (I can sometimes write much more clearly than I tend to do in these forums), I was told there was nothing that needed to be done, and to ‘spruce up your resume.’ Well, I don’t think the organization of my resume was nearly as big of a problem as the content, which was why I was looking into skills and experience placement to begin with.

            I do think that people in poverty need the basics covered before they need skills building and what not. I know I thought much more clearly when I was able to stop worrying about creative accounting and could eat healthier. But even when people want to try to invest in their skills when they have limited resources, they aren’t met with a hand up, but with a closed a door and invitation to come back if things get worse or circumstances change.

            (one bright spot is that means testing in many states is easing up on the asset testing. it always amazed me that you could own a home and qualify for help, but if you had 2500 dollars in savings to pay your rent and health insurance in the upcoming months, you were SOL. i think they are starting to recognize how unreasonable it is exclude people who are building a fund to pay out their lease to avoid eviction.)

            1. matcha123*

              Your last paragraph is so true.

              If people haven’t lived in Section 8, let me tell you…
              We had to show bank statements every 3 – 6 months to show that we didn’t have more in our accounts than what was allowed. The property owners came to do home inspections every 3 months or so, the government ones were two or three times a year.

              If you wanted to save money to move into a better place, you couldn’t. Because they’d see you had a larger balance and raise your rent. If you got a job that paid a bit more, you had to report it immediately so that they could raise your rent from, say, $200 a month to $900 a month. So, now that you’ve got a better paying job, you can’t save to move out because now you’re paying even more towards rent.

              1. Anx*

                That sounds exhausting. I hope you’ve been able to save and move on from there!

                (This particular example has me scratching my head extra hard, because aren’t there usually months to years long waiting lists? you’d think they would do everything they can to move people UP and off the program to make room)

          2. Mimmy*

            Very good points, NSNR. I think it’s a double-edged sword because the cookie-cutter approach is not effective; yet, there are so many people in need, an individualized approach can be very difficult.

      4. Anx*

        I am sorry to hear about what happened to you.

        I’ve heard people chastise those who ‘had it all’ and lost so much of it for not planning ahead better. It really chafes me. Do people not realize that while this could happen to anyone, it’s likely not going to happen to most people? And that if we all save all of our nuts in case something like this happens, the economy would suffer? Not to mention the human spirit. And that people in these situations would never choose to be in the situation they are in now?

        Because the things I’ve heard people say in reaction to those that lose their homes, spouses, or ability to work through accidents/illness and natural disasters really has shocked me.

        Thank you for sharing your story.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, it burns my butt, too. In the 80s my father ran through over a quarter million dollars in out of pocket medical. Here was a man that worked every single day of his life since age ten. He paid all his taxes and all his bills in full and on time for decades. People looked down their noses at him because he almost went bankrupt paying off my mother’s medical. And then there is the classic, “Oh insurance will pay for it.” Yeah, okay here is a person that has never had to use their insurance for a catastrophic illness. Boy, will they be surprised at what is not covered.

          I would not wish this learning experience on anyone. That quarter mill would be like 400K today. How many have 400k laying around in a liquid or near liquid state?

      5. Stacy*

        “I would tell myself, ‘I am only a moment away from having some of the same troubles this person in front of me has.'”



      6. Denied Employment*

        “I was just talking to a friend who is about ten years older than me. Like me, he went to apply for help. Like me, he found the employees to be very angry and very unhappy people. He was treated poorly. I had a similar experience. Long stories but we both ended up refusing the aid because we could not hack going into that office. It’s not worth it. It’s easier to eat smaller meals/skip meals and keep the house temps on the chilly side.”

        I’m sorry you and your friend have had to deal with this.This really jumped out at me because no one should have to skip meals and not adequately heat their home because of they way these people attitudes. And this often affects the elderly population.
        There is an energy assistance program here that will not even speak to you on the phone to reorder oil if you don’t have your customer id number. Flat out refuse. I called one day from work because I notice that my oil was low and the receptionist said she needed my customer id number to verify me?.Um really, I thought my name and social for most companies has always sufficed. I really wonder if their system is that old or if they are just that non-human and have relegated their clients to just numbers and decided to create another stumbling block for their clients. My ss# I know, my employee code at work I know, a random number I use once a year is on a piece of paper somewhere in a pile. It’s like they look for ways to defeat their clients.
        Of course, the advocate in me, asked why they would require this number before speaking with someone and did they realize how much a disservice it is to make clients jump an ‘extra unnecessary’ loop to speak to them about getting help. I’ve been intending to write to the director because it’s nonsense. Your story has just inspired me to add that to my to do list.
        I think it’s the most ridiculously thing that in this day and age their only retrieval method for a customer account is a random number and not name and social as an alternative? I wonder do they have team meetings about how they should roadblock a client by requiring they produce this number or no help is given. I’m being cynical but it’s frustrating. When your first question to me is what’s your client number?

        On another front, I submitted paperwork regarding my kids state health coverage ON TIME way before the cutoff –umm that’s how I like to do stuff, and because the agency is so backlogged I was sent a letter stating they hadn’t received my paperwork and my benefits was terminated until they received it. Well, after I stayed on hold for more than 1 hour (also an hour into my work day –they close before I get off of work) the representative saw that my documents were scanned into their system before the cutoff, they just didn’t have the manpower to review my case timely. So of course, the advocate in me, asked the representative why would they send me a termination letter making it seem like it was my fault–as if I hadn’t sent in my paperwork on time?
        I understand just wanting to decline the help when faced with these challenges. I look for better employment so I don’t have to continue to deal with it. I just barely qualify for minimum food stamps, oil and health coverage by the skin of my teeth. It’s not much but it does help.

      7. Anu*

        Thank you for sharing your story, painful though it is. I agree with what you say – people with stable incomes and little financial trouble in the past find it difficult to imagine how easily they could slip into poverty – all it would take would be a little bad luck. The possibility of huge medical bills in particular are something that people often fail to factor in. And incidentally, your experience with poverty is characteristic of the way most Americans experience it – it’s rarely a constant condition, more likely to be something that one experiences for some part of one’s life, but not all of it. See this article for details:

    7. Stephanie*

      I’ll concede that some people definitely spend unwisely and spend the electricity bill money on sneakers.

      That being said, a lot of stuff can found secondhand–I’ve found plenty of Coach bags at consignment stores for <$50. (The bag could also be a knockoff.) Ditto with shoes–they could have been secondhand, a gift, or heavily discounted at a discount store or via someone's employee discount. The Lexus could have been a gift, a lease (I think you can get a nicer car if you lease versus owning), or already paid off before the client hit financial troubles.

      I've been out of work a while and have considered selling my car (I'd have access to a car here). I realized that was a bad idea as it's still in very good mechanical condition, it's paid off, most cities I'd need it, and I'd end up with a financed car at a bad rate if I needed to replace it.

      Problem is, there's a view that there's only "acceptable" look if you're poor, as others have mentioned. I'd also say that for most people, it is really, really hard to constantly deprive yourself and live some ascetic existence. Spending $50 on some Nikes at Nordstrom Rack (or wherever) might be a nice pickup.

      Maybe the one minor upside to the recession is that it's helped reshape the idea of who could be poor. I'm in Arizona where there were plenty of people who had nice-looking houses…that were worth half their purchase value (my parents included).

      To answer your original question, I would say to keep in mind what others have mentioned. I assume your agency has some bright-line eligibility requirements, so I'd also keep in mind your clients are there because they really need to be there.

      1. Anx*

        Yes. The ascetic existing can at times be encouraging, because you know you are not spending unnecessarily.

        But it’s very hard to feel connected with society when months go buy and your only economic activity is groceries/gas/rent/major bills. Also, when you know that NOT buying that one thing you really covet isn’t going to mean the difference between paying your bills easily or not, it helps take the edge off of the misery.

        Little indulgences help when you are giving up major life goals or losing hope on them. I know I may not have the funds to choose to have a family by the time my fertility is at risk, but at least I can enjoy A, B, or C once in a while. I may not ever be able to willfully retire, so I might was well enjoy life a little in the present. That sort of thing.

      2. Mister Pickle*

        Just a minor point: I too wondered if the Lexus might be a lease. I had to look into leasing earlier this year when my son totaled his car, and (love them or hate them) lease deals will often get you into a better car for less money. And for some people, having a nice car may be an important part of their job. Realtors, for example.

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      The absolute poorest moment of my life, I was 20-21 years old. I was underemployed and often didn’t have enough money for food or to take the buses to work.

      My wardrobe was dresses I’d purchased in high school while working in the designer dresses dept of Bambergers, purchased at clearance + employee discount but designer dresses nonetheless. The one pair of “shoes” I had left was a pair of crazy expensive boots I’d bought during a summer job a few years prior. The soles were worn through and I literally had cardboard inside of them. (Which was black humor funny to me at the time. I thought that was just something people said, not something they actually did.)

      Given THAT, I’m never one to leap to conclusions about people’s circumstances or “worthiness” based on externals. One of the happiest moments of my life was throwing out those boots for a pair of Payless shoes when my income became more stable.

    9. Fucshia*

      I’m not saying that all are over spending, but does your agency offer any sort of financial management training? Many people grew up with no knowledge of the subject and have had to learn as they go. That isn’t generally the best way to learn as you get stuck when you get in too deep. The training would help them when they are getting back on their feet and benefit them n the long run.

      Also, working with a local bank or credit union on no cost, no minimum balance savings accounts would help those who don’t even have a safe place to keep their funds. Those without accounts end up paying part of all checks to the check cashing places — and people relying on public support need each penny they can get.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thanks for the question and comment.

        Yes, the agency does have several financial management courses offered free-of-charge to our clients as well as low-income teens in the metropolitan area it serves. The programs target explaining how to budget, how much to put away in savings, and the developing a solid credit score. Additionally, the organization has great working relationships with three local banks that offer free services to our current, former, and prospective clients.

        My original question pertained specifically to my experiences of seeing people with expensive name brand good seeking assistance from the outreach coordinator with whom I share a tight office space. In no way did I intend to insinuate that the agency failed to provide helpful programs to people on money management.

        I apologize if I gave you that impression.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Another very strong point. No one teaches how to balance a check book in school. I had middle-aged, educated family members that believed their car insurance should by them a brand new car after a bad accident. (No, that is not how insurance works.) I was talking to a person who told me that mortgage payments were the amount of the house divided by numbers of months in the mortgage. (Skip the part about interest, escrow, closing costs…)

        I came from a middle class family. My father had no clue how to handle money. Hey, in the Depression, you did not need to learn that skill. There was no money. I had to read endless books before I figure out how to manage my household. It is not safe to assume that people’s parents or schools have taught them how to handle money. Parents can’t teach what they don’t know themselves.

    10. Anx*

      I’m sort of poor. I have had a low income for a long time, but also have grown up middle class in a very nice area, so I still feel rich at times.

      Sometimes when I visit my mom over holidays, I spend more on dinner than I would in two weeks of groceries at home (but I’d never want her to know that). I haven’t broken through the 4 figures mark in 6 years, income wise, but I also am lucky enough to have been able to live at home and then live with my partner. And I have no children (although I’m not sure I’ll ever be afford them which bothers me) to worry about.

      I buy expensive makeup and personal care products. Even now that health care is more affordable for me, it’s easier for me to splurge on make up and lotions than to fight eczema and other flare ups. I also prefer them. I have a limited make up collection made up of midrange products, and I’m willing to pay a premium for cruelty free products (though they are getting harder and harder to find).

      My purse is not fancy, but brand name. Same. My purse was my main Christmas gift a few years ago and my wallet I bought at a thrift store over 5 years ago. I really love it and it gives me a wave of happiness to see it in my purse sometimes.

      I bought brand name jeans for my new job and a new summer cardigan. I was too lazy to bargain hunt, but I did get them at a half-off sale. I was thinking of buying new boots, but I think I’m going to try to find brown electric tape instead. I am planning to get a new Mac computer next year (I love mine, but the OS isn’t supported and I’m loathe to pour more money into a computer that’s over 5 years old. I bought it with a small inheritance as a graduation gift to myself. I bought it during back-to-school sales and used the bonus ipod as a present to gift).

      My family buys me things I would never buy for myself. My mom pays my phone (it’s a flip). I go out to eat (although I didn’t for several months). I really like getting out of the house and participating in the world around me. When I was unemployed, this made me feel like part of society. Now that I’m working, it helps me feel even more connected to the working world. I would rather skip a few meals here and there than never eat out, if I can. Last summer I had to skip meals as it was. I considered going on food stamps (my partner lost his summer funding and I got laid off from my part time job, all the week after registration for classes). I did not qualify because I did not have a job and was a student. I still don’t (though I’m getting buy without them) because I don’t work 20 hours.

      I still worry that I don’t deserve to treat myself, when I’m on subsidized insurance and was considering food stamps. I got in fight with my partner over library books because I ended up with a fine, and I didn’t want him to pay it off for me because I want to terminate my card to keep me from accruing fees. He thought I was being ridiculous and punishing myself, and I admit that I felt like I was a mooch and that the library isn’t for bums who can’t afford their fees or the bus fare to return their books like me. And yet just days before I bought some new bras and make up brushes at TJ Maxx, which I could go without (but I am loving not having to wash my bras more than once a week…it’s one of my ‘dread’ chores).

      1. Anx*

        Oh! I also stock up on thrift store finds when I’m visiting family. I come from an affluent area and can find name brand clothes for a few dollars each. I have several dresses, pants, and shifts that cost less than 10 each. Work pants included.

        And I try to look as best as I can most days when I go out and about. I didn’t get rid of my clothes from better times. So what happens when I dress up to go out and were to ask for assistance? Well, I’m not really poor! I’m not in rags or even shlubby clothes. So I must not be poor. But if I go in crappy clothes and don’t put effort into my appearance? “How does she expect to find a job like that?” “If only she had some pride in herself, she woudn’t be unemployed.”

    11. Dan*

      As others have said, accept that they are there for a presumably verifiable reason and don’t worry about the “look.” I’ve had some down spots in my life, and have realized that if I’m going to need to sell stuff “now” that I won’t get a lot of cash for it. Plus I’ll just have to replace it later. So I’d rather hold on to what I have.

      Even if people are spending money unwisely, the program has qualification rules, and accept that they qualify. Any thing else is a recipe for a headache. And will also discourage those who need the help from seeking it.

    12. QualityControlFreak*

      No, I don’t think there should be a uniform for poor. I’ve never been on assistance, but I’ve been poor. I bought my clothes and shoes in thrift stores. Some of the shoes could have been Nikes, I don’t remember. They fit me and cost $5. I had to have a way to get to work, but that grand marquis was 10 years old when I bought it.

      Is it possible that some of the people your organization serves are taking advantage of the services offered to augment an unrealistic lifestyle and avoid the consequences of their own poor choices? It is. But as you’ve observed, some of these same people are parents, whose children are also vulnerable to the results of the choices their parents make. It doesn’t matter to the kid that the reason Mom can’t pay the power bill or buy groceries is that she bought that cute purse. It matters that he’s cold and hungry.

      So my advice is, focus on the people you are helping. It sounds like you’re not happy with some of the aspects of your job/organization (your dept. head who hides in his office?) and that maybe you’re not completely clear on the goals of the organization (which wouldn’t be surprising if your manager is incommunicado). I can’t tell from what you’ve written if your employer provides actual counseling services, but it sounds like more of a gateway providing information and logistical support as well as access to more specific programs (drug and alcohol treatment, etc.). From what you’ve described, your job focuses on communication and outreach, so you are responsible for creating materials and pathways to bring these folks in and connect them with the services they need. Maybe I’m an old softie, but I think this is a pretty important job. Will you get some who are just there to get what they can get? Yup. But they may just pull a baby and a toddler out of that Lexus, and those are the people you focus on. Those are the people you’re there to serve. And their need is the reason you’re there, and have the job you do.

      My two cents.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep, I totally agree that there will always be people who bamboozle the system. They take it for all they can get. We have no control over other people’s actions. All we can do is role model correct behavior and carry respect for the people and for the system at the same time. Which is a juggling act, for sure.

        I currently work in a job where my boss relies on my ability to make judgement calls about people. So I make my best guess. I can grant leeway on some things. Will I get snookered? Most definitely. Out right lies always bubble to the surface. Always. It might take a long time but eventually the truth comes out. After doing this for a bit, I can kind of guess who will follow through like they are supposed to an who won’t. The people who are planning to follow through (sometimes) ask very specific questions or relate very specific stories that “betray” their sincerity. A lying person would never think of these things to say. Other times I can their earnestness on their faces. I know the feeling that goes with that facial expression.

    13. cuppa*

      First of all, I think half of your struggle is acknowledging and accepting your thoughts and feelings. I went through a similar situation with some of my coworkers earlier this year.
      I agree with everyone here… appearances don’t tell everything. Nice labels can be obtained through steep discounts, or hand-me-downs, or whatever. My mom was a single mom with four kids and an extremely limited budget, but she had a Coach purse. It was her only purse, and this was back in the day when Coach was a bit higher quality and took really good care of its customers. She took really good care of it, sent it back once or twice for repair, and probably still has that thing somewhere. For her, it was worth far more money to keep one purse that would give her years of good life than it would be to have to keep buying more cheap purses that would need replacement all the time.
      I would also add there there are quite a few rich people out there that don’t look the part. You just never know what the circumstances underneath are, and therefore it’s not really worth spending the time and energy getting worked up about it.

      1. Good_Intentions*


        Thank you for your truly insightful and level-headed comments.

        I do agree that coming to terms with my own perceptions and ideas about low-income families, priorities, and what performing femininity and status symbols mean to other people is my highest priority. It’s a work in progress, and I’m making an effort.

        Your mother sounds like an incredibly determined woman of great taste who raised her children under some difficult circumstances. I applaud her efforts and hope that she has many high-quality handbags from which to choose.

        Again, I appreciate your comment.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      This is more like an aside than anything else. I have friend that is fond of saying it costs a lot of money to be poor. And that is true, things that people with good incomes get for free, poor people have to pay extra for. In part, because they have to have a work-around to get this necessity. A simple example: We have an oil company here that will deliver 50 gals of fuel but there is a service charge for being under 100 gals. Let’s say the service charge is $20. And let’s say the homeowner uses 500 gals of fuel per year and can only afford to purchase 50 gals at a time. That means ten deliveries at $20 additional dollars per delivery. Their oil bill is $200 higher than a wealthier person. (I totally understand the service charge and I have no issue with the oil company. That’s not where I am going here.) All these hidden costs add up in a brutal manner. And other companies do similar things. Bounce a check lately? I guess that is getting really spendy. All these costs add up.
      There are not enough hours in the day to explain all these things to some one who is not aware of the cumulative effect of all this.

      1. BRR*

        Cracked had something like this as one point on their lists. They used toilet paper as an example. You can only afford the small pack but would save a lot if you could buy the large pack so you end up paying a lot more over time.

      2. Anx*

        I had totally underestimated the cost of poverty until I came into it. I took direct deposit/free checking for granted. I’m now at a credit union to avoid 12/ month charges (in some months that charge was my only economic activity, but I can’t buy gas unless I have 25 dollars cash. Which means taking the bus some days waiting to accrue enough money for gas.)

        I took grocery stores for granted, too. We have Walmarts here, but no Costcos or Trader Joes. I don’t find Aldi as helpful; I tend to buy things just because they are cheap, not because they were on my list. Walmart is rapidly spreading over my town and I do feel uneasy shopping there (but I do at times, and shop at other less-than-awesome retailers). Plus Walmart has tons of distractions (same with Target) so I just shop the 1/2 off items at regular retailers.

        The hardest part sometimes is seeing an awesome deal for a long-coveted or soon-to-be-needed item and knowing you’ll have to pass on it, sometimes paying more later on when cash is more readily available or when it’s a necessity (sometimes you can hope you won’t end up needing it).

        And similar to your example, it can take weeks to accrue a ‘full shopping’ cart for online purchasing to reach free shipping status.

    15. Denied Employment*

      I would add, if it hasnt been said, there is a culture among certain poor ethnic groups to not look poor and needy. Not necessarily agreeing with it, but it does exist. And I think it has changed drastically through the years. Where it was once something like tucking in your shirt, speaking proper English and wearing a shirt and tie, instead of arriving at a agency unkept. Now its manifesting itself as brand names and logos.. plus im sure knockoffs are pretty rampant in low income community. Then again the outlets here I can get a coach bag for $60/70.

    16. littlemoose*

      I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading all of these responses, which were insightful and genuinely furthered discussion. Best group of commenters on the Internet in my experience.

      And I agree with the point above that people seeking means-based aid or similar assistance will be judged for looking too “good” or too scruffy. I think there is such a complex set of expectations and demands projected upon people who seek aid, like they have to be worthy of the assistance they seek. Like they have to show that they’re “good enough” for help, that they already tried hard enough. And while the system of incentives underlying the U.S. social welfare system is complex and in some ways counterintuitive, I think the true number of people genuinely gaming the system is far lower than people are led to believe. But America’s particular history of the values of individualism, capitalism, and the idea of the Protestant work ethic distorts our view of social safety nets in a way unlike that of other nations, in my opinion.

      Setting aside the racial and other perspectives inherent in the “welfare queen” stereotype, the true story behind the woman who apparently inspired President Reagan’s comment is a wild one. I’ll see if I can find the article to share.

      1. Sunday*

        Ironically, “looking poor” gets your treated poorly in many instances. The ability to look “middle class” is helpful in almost every way as you look for work, use the library, shop, have questions about your options, etc.

    17. matcha123*

      Without reading the replies, I understand what you mean. But, I am coming at this from someone who grew up poor. While I didn’t have many brand name clothes, what a LOT of upper-middle class people don’t understand is that there is a LOT to be found at Value Village and other used clothing stores.

      I have seen brand name clothing items there selling for $3. The same with purses.

      I grew up in Section 8 housing, and I remember when an older married couple moved into one of the units. They were from an Eastern European country and had lived in the US (and had US citizenship, I think). They’d had success but fell on hard times and had to move into Section 8 housing. They had items from their more upper-middle class days such as a leather sofa, large screen TV and others. Well, apparently some of the housing staff felt that it was their place to comment on this. They didn’t know how these people got these items, but assumed that if they were “really, truly poor” they wouldn’t have them.

      Going back to how I grew up, people don’t realize how much perfectly good stuff people throw out! I’ve taken TVs and nice, wooden furniture that were placed in front of the dumpster.
      And finally, maybe a family member gave them the items. I have ordered from the Coach Outlet online and had things sent to my mom. Maybe those family members can’t afford to support someone’s family, but they can pass over an older car that they were going to replace anyways, an old phone, an old purse, etc.

      Even when I was a kid, I hated the idea that I should be dressed in rags and begging for people to understand that I wasn’t well-off. I also hated that I was supposed to be thankful for everything: thankful to the people that donated toys, thankful for the Food Gathers and food stamps, etc.

      Even here in Japan, I can find a TON of brand name stuff cheap because it’s been used.
      The used clothing stores here sell Prada bags for $30!! You can get a ratty LV bag for $10!

  32. Windchime*

    Next week will be the one-year anniversary of when I had major reconstructive surgery on my ankle. I’m getting around a lot better than pre-surgery, but it has still been bothersome and, until recently, has still hurt every single day.

    I’ve discovered that part of the problem might have been my shoes. I had been wearing slip-ons because the shoe touching the back of my foot would hurt, but finally last week I decided to give “real” shoes a try. And…..I have had three pain-free days in a row now. I’m so happy and relieved!

    1. anon attorney*

      Yay for you! I remember my first pain free day after Achilles rupture surgery and rehab. I know how it feels to wonder if you’ll ever walk without pain again. Here’s to a pain free future!

  33. Mimmy*

    Worried about a friend. We were supposed to get together for lunch, and she hasn’t shown up yet. She always calls ahead if she’s running late, and when I called her a few minutes ago, she did not pick up. I’m hoping we just got our signals crossed, but she’s been having problems lately (being intentionally vague to protect privacy), so I hope something didn’t happen. It’s only 25 minutes past the time she was supposed to come, but something doesn’t feel right :(

    1. Mimmy*

      Okay, crisis averted. She just forgot. Long story, but i am relieved. Let me just say that depression sucks and affects loved ones, not just those with the condition itself.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        I’m glad there’s nothing wrong. When something is going on with a person that you care about, I think it’s perfectly normal to worry.

        My sister and I each live alone, and talk on the phone every night. If I don’t call her at the usual time, she starts to worry, and if I call and she doesn’t answer, I start to worry. We’ve both left each other messages that say “if I don’t hear from you with half an hour, I’m coming over to see if you’re OK”. We’ve never had to do that, but we would.

  34. Elkay*

    I went to see Gone Girl today. I thought they did a really good adaptation of the book. My only slight irritation is that Ben Affleck, as attractive as he is, is about 10 years too old to play Nick.

    1. Stephanie*

      Ha, yeah. I love that he and Margot are twins but Ben Affleck and Carrie Coon are a decade apart age-wise. Yayyyyy Hollywood.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      I went to see it today also! Even though I read the book like…a year ago? (before it was major popular anyway) I was like WTF.

  35. Jazzy Red*

    Another dog, another problem. This one (not the poop eater) has fleas. Both dogs are on flea & tick meds, but apparently that doesn’t kill adult fleas who jump onto dogs when they’re playing outside. So my sweet female was scratching and biting around her tail so much that we went in to the vet. When the Tech found the fleas, I freaked, but quietly. Felt like the worst dog mom in the world, but then the Tech told me that’s how she felt when her kids came home from school with head lice. This did make me feel a bit better.

    They gave me a pill for each dog that lasts about 3 months to kill the adult fleas (about the size of a Rollo candy, and chewy – I don’t know why the called it a pill). Between the new med and the old med, all the fleas should be dead or dying. It’s been a few days, and the other dog stopped scratching so much, but the female kept trying to bite around her tail. I had a puffy collar on her so she couldn’t reach it, and the other spots seemed to have stopped itching. This afternoon, I took her outside to brush her and checked the skin, and it was GROSS! Crusty and flaky, and it looked like some dead things about 1/2 inch long were on her, too. I got a bucket with warm water and her shampoo and bathed the area. Rinsed her with lots of clear water, and it cleaned up pretty good. I know it felt good to her because she just stood there during this whole thing. I’m going to call the vet tomorrow and ask if this is normal, and if I did the right thing. And also ask what to use to clean the brush & comb. The towels and her blankey are going into a hot wash today.

    I had no idea being a pet parent could be so nerve-wracking. I’m not usually a drama queen, but whenever something happens to one of my dogs, I panic. If I had had children, I would have been one of “those” mothers.

    1. cuppa*

      So sorry to hear about your flea troubles. I totally understand how you feel and would be the same way if it happened to me. My husband is a medical professional, and I am so thankful to have him because he has that grit that you need sometimes to buckle down and get something that might be painful or unpleasant done… I tend to sit and hesitate and get nervous and just make everything worse!
      Hope your dogs are on the mend soon!

    2. CA Admin*

      One thing to know about the topical flea meds: they don’t work if used 3 days before or after a bath. They rely on skin oils to work. A lot of people will pair flea meds with baths because they’re both related to grooming, but they just end up with meds that don’t completely protect your dog.

      –a former pet supply store manager

    3. Anx*

      I live in an area with a high water table and many fleas. I feel like a terrible pet parent, but I find it so frustration to spend so much on flea meds only for them not to work more than a few days. How many years can I spend vacuuming and steam cleaning every day? They are all over the neighborhood, and we seem to be at a chronic mild infestation.

      I’d appreciate any advice on chronic long-term flea infestations and what to do when you can’t afford to keep gambling on flea meds? I feel like I’m not giving my kitty a good life here; should I bring it to a shelter?

      I remember finding a flea on my dog (in a different home) after a trip to the beach. Straight to the groomer (with full disclosure) and thank goodness we caught in on time. It can in fact be very nerve-racking to care for pets.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        We use *FOOD GRADE* diatomaceous earth and a safe form of boric acid (called “Dust Mite and Flea Control” by The Ecology Works) to control fleas in our house. I dust the carpet, rugs, and pet beds with both. I also sprinkle both in the dryer when washing all linens (ours and the pets’) so the fabric gets permeated. My next-door neighbor, who fosters about a dozen cats a year, “dips” the cats she finds on the street in the *FOOD GRADE* diatomaceous earth, to kill the fleas. So it can’t hurt to dust your cat. Just keep it out of her eyes. The good thing about *FOOD GRADE* diatomaceous earth is that the fleas can’t develop a resistance to it. It’d be like you or me developing a resistance to being stabbed multiple times with a sharp knife. :-)

        We apply beneficial nematodes to the yard twice a year. They’re microscopic worms that kill fleas, ticks, fire ants, cinch bugs, grub worms, chiggers, etc.

        NOTE: I’m making a big deal out of specifying *FOOD GRADE* diatomaceous earth because there are two kinds – (1) FOOD GRADE, which is safe for consumption by mammals, and (2) pool grade, which is used in swimming pool filters. Pool grade diatomaceous earth has been super-heated and contains silica, which can cause the life-threatening condition silicosis, if breathed. *FOOD GRADE* diatomaceous earth would only be harmful if you snorted big, fat lines of the stuff (and then it would be harmful only because you had a bunch of dry matter in your lungs, the substance itself isn’t harmful).

        1. Anx*

          This is worth consideration! We actually have some on hand, and it’s not the pool kind, (though it’s a few years old) because we had roaches (and those fleas) when we moved in. I didn’t want to use too many chemical pesticides with a young kitty that gets into random corners of the house.

          I might have to consider brushing some into his fur. He does NOT accept baths. That was one of the worst experiences of my life and I feel horrible about it; he was crying and then so were we. I do worry about breathing it in, but I suppose if I comb it in that would be better.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Anx – Because *FOOD GRADE* diatomaceous earth is the crushed-up skeletons of microscopic marine critters (diatoms), it can’t ever go bad. Go to town and dust the heck out of your place and your kitty. :-)

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I’ll vouch for DE. I think DE works better than chemicals. And I will vouch for releasing beneficials for bug control. Be sure to leave a shallow pan of fresh water out for your beneficials. If they find everything they want they will stay in your area.

          I let go a bunch of lady bugs to get mites in my yard and plants. They didn’t stay around long but the mite problem seem to go away, too.

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            Living in a mosquito territory, I’ll 2nd the shallow pan of water with one caveat: Dump it out and replace it daily. Skeeters breed in shallow, still water. They find me irresistibly tasty, so any non-poisonous things that can be done to decrease their numbers is appreciated. :-)

    4. littlemoose*

      Thanks for the insights about fleas; I was considering asking a similar question because the dog recently brought home fleas and the cat got them and I feel like a disgusting failure of a caretaker for my sweet pets. But all I can do now is do our best to get rid of them and never, ever forget the monthly Frontline again!

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Alas, Frontline might not always work. I’ve heard from friends around the country that fleas in various areas are developing a resistance to treatments like Frontline and Pet Armor. Just like how German cockroaches (the ones found in almost every home in America) have recently developed a dislike for sugar, so baits that use sugar as a lure no longer work. (Their brains actually rewired the receptor for sweet from “pleasurable” to “bitter”, so they now see sugar as something disgusting to be avoided.)

        Hence the use of *food grade* DE, because the fleas can’t [easily] develop a resistance to death by a thousand tiny cuts.

    5. Episkey*

      It possibly sounds like she might have worms of some type in addition to the fleas. Sometimes the worms will come out of their butt, which makes everything really itchy. Have you done a stool sample recently?

  36. Chris*

    Has anyone here ever done a virtual volunteer position?

    I live in a small city that is 3 hours away from the big city, and want to do more art /design related work than what I am pulling in currently. I see that volunteer match and idealist have virtual positions, but not much feedback about them.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, I did online volunteer work years ago. I went through the United Nations Online Volunteers. It was a lot of fun. But wow, a lot of work, too.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That sounds pretty cool– I have never heard of that! I learn something new every day. What does online volunteering entail? I work from home and have a lot of flexibility but I can’t leave the office during the day– I would totally be into editing or data entry or something for a charity or arts organization. Is it that kind of thing, or completely different?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I don’t think you meant me- but I will answer, too. UNOV had me register first. That took a day or two. Then it was like reading the help wanted ads. You go through and select something for yourself. You apply. If the particular group accepts you then you get the details of your assignment.
        Most of their jobs you had to have some sort of skill- web design, international law, and similar things that lend themselves well to the internet environment. I ended up just doing research (googling). OMG. Opened my eyes to things that are going on in this world. Incredible.
        I was under the impression that the jobs had a start and a finish. There could be some that are on-going and I was not aware. I thought that I might have an opportunity for a new assignment with my company once I finished the current assignment.
        My experience goes back to before the WTC, so they may have changed how they handle new volunteers’ applications now. I don’t know.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Thank you! That is pretty cool. I was thinking about offering some of my skills (Excel like a BOSS) to local orgs too.

  37. Pennalynn Lott*

    I cannot for the life of me remember which forum I was in where someone posted a link to a cool set of grout scrubbers. I think one of them was triangular. I usually bookmark that stuff, or save it in my Amazon cart, but I guess I didn’t do it in this case.

    Anyway, I’m looking for a grout cleaning “tool”. I think it was like a hard sponge, but it may have had short bristles like a brush, and I think it was sold as a “kit” of 2 or 3 pieces. Help?

      1. fposte*

        All right, I’m eating my words because I can’t find it. But I could have sworn I read it too, and I can’t think of where else I’d have read it. Bah.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          NOOOOOoooooooo. . . I feel like I’m *thisclose* to clean grout, but now it’s being snatched away from me. :-)

          At least now I know it was here. I’ll reread every flipping comment from the past four months, if I have to. Maybe.

          1. Stacy*

            I just have to tell you that is an amazing user name. Totally wish I’d thought of that! (Lorelei Gilmore is totally my spirit animal)

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              Stacy – I remember the first time I heard it on the show. I was like, “That’s the GREATEST NAME, EVER!” Thank goodness for anonymous internet forums so I have a reason to use it. :-)

        2. Shell*

          I’m pretty sure it was this site, and I’m pretty sure Alison was the one to link it. It’s probably in an open thread somewhere.

          I’m running searches now, but maybe someone will beat me to it?

          1. Pennalynn Lott*

            I searched under “tile” and “grout”, and clicked on everything posted in 2014. Nada. I also searched under “you need this”, because that’s the phrase I remember being associated with it (as in, “If you’re going to do this [clean grout], then you need this.”). Still nada.

            I think I’m going to be stuck with a toothbrush and knee pads.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Last week I recommended something for cleaning toilet bowl rings, but I don’t think I’ve ever recommended something for cleaning grout. Although I’d like my grout to be magically cleaned.

  38. The Other Dawn*

    So, we moved into the new house in July. I’ve been super excited about being able to give out Halloween candy, because we were in an industrial area of the neighborhood and on a dead end, so we didn’t get any trick-or-treaters. I just found out that we don’t get any trick-or-treaters around here either. :( Apparently it’s because the houses are farther apart. I get it, but I’m really disappointed. Gotta return the candy now. I can’t keep it, because I’m a post-op gastric bypass patient and it’s just too much sugar for me. Not to mention candy used to be a trigger for me and I really don’t want to gain all the weight back.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Aw, man, that stinks! I’m really sorry. We moved into our house in August, it’s my first non-apartment since childhood, and I’m really hoping we get trick-or-treaters. Decorated and everything (and I am not a Halloween person at all). I would be super disappointed in your situation too. But… any way to hold out hope? Or offer the candy to a friend who does get ToT-ers, and spend the evening over at his/her place?

    2. hermit crab*

      Instead of returning it, maybe you could give it to an organization you appreciate? Dropping it off at the local police department or library or something like that could bring a smile to someone’s day and help alleviate your disappointment.

    3. danr*

      Keep some candy. Around here the houses are far apart and the parents drive the kids from house to house. And then you’ll need some for the teens that come around later.

  39. Starbux*

    My boyfriend just called – his car overheated on his way home from work. He added coolant and it’s still overheating. Thankfully, his car is under warranty so he is taking it to the dealership tomorrow. Any ideas what could be causing this to happen?

    1. Rebecca*

      Check to make sure the belts are all still intact. This just happened to a friend of mine. Her car overheated suddenly, the coolant was replaced only to overheat once again, and upon closer inspection, one of the belts had broken and was literally gone. It was a quick fix, and luckily nothing warped on the engine.

    2. Stephanie*

      A leak somewhere, maybe in the radiator or a hose. In the interim, tell your boyfriend to drive with the heater on full blast to keep the car from overheating (it takes more work to keep a car cooled).

    3. danr*

      If he didn’t add a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water, the engine will still overheat. Best advice was above… drive with your heat on full blast and open the windows. Another possibility is a problem with the cooling fans, since they are electrically powered and not attached to the engine.

      1. Rebecca*

        Also, make sure the vehicle doesn’t take DexCool – not sure how it’s spelled – mine does, and you don’t mix it with water.

  40. Anna*

    Feeling weird. Updating my cover letter and resume for a job I want to apply for, but I’m pretty sure I have no hope in even getting an interview. There are stretch jobs, and then there are S-T-R-E-T-C-H jobs. However, I’m coming to terms with what I want my career to be rather than where I want my career to be, if that makes sense. Essentially, I love what I do, but that means I have to find different ways to move up in the field and that is not likely to be with my current employer, as great as they are. So, I’m rewriting everything and hoping that even if I’m underqualified for this position, they may like what they see well enough to try me out at a lower position. It would also be a HUGE pay raise. So. I feel somewhat disloyal, and since there seems to be a weird mass exodus taking place right now, I live in fear of getting an interview or a job offer. But I also know I need to do what’s right for me, and taking a stab at it is right for me.

    1. azvlr*

      I had a similar experience when I finally figured out what I want to be when I grew up (just last year ;-0). I knew that I could do the job but kept hearing “Not enough experience.” My inner voice shouted, “Nonsense!” and I revamped my resume to focus more on the aspects of my dream career that I had been doing (and excelling at) all along. I really had to downplay old job titles in the process. I didn’t fabricate anything, but certain things I had been doing on my other career path were no longer relevant.

      The really cool thing was that once I realized exactly what I wanted to do, reading the job posts became easier. They were either relevant to me or not. From that point on, I didn’t apply for anything I didn’t want to do. I really feel this type of focus helped me, especially in interviews.

      Take a look at all the skills you have and things you have accomplished. See which ones fit your chosen path. I’d be willing to bet you are more qualified than you realize! Best of luck.

      1. Anna*

        Thanks for the thoughts! I’m getting much better at not applying for jobs I don’t want to do, but it’s hard because I do like my employer and there are a lot of openings right now (due to that mass exodus I mentioned). Every time I read a the description for one of the positions all I can muster is a Meh, but when I look at this field I think of how I like the organization it’s with, the pay is great, the work would be challenging and in the right direction for my career.

  41. AVP*

    Anyone else working on Columbus Day and totally bored?

    I’ve gotten a flood of emails from contacts in other countries, so I’m glad I’m here and not out trying to do something fun, but my boss just walked in and said “I thought it was a holiday, what are you doing here?” Even though my other boss made it clear that today wasn’t a paid holiday….SIGH SMALL COMPANIES with no real holiday schedule!

Comments are closed.