Sunday free-for-all – October 26, 2014

Lucy as lion

Lucy is dressing as a lion for Halloween.

It’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.

{ 697 comments… read them below }

    1. the celt*

      Definitely! The first thought I had, however, was that she was going as Jareth from Labyrinth.

      Side note: We recently adopted a kitty after almost nine years of being (sadly) kitty-free. We moved this summer pretty much specifically so we could find a place where we could finally, finally get a cat again, and I don’t know how I lived so long without one (the longest time in my life I’ve not had a cat). I no longer have to live vicariously through all of the other cat lovers on here! ;)

  1. Not So NewReader*

    Lucy. omg. All I could think of is that inspirational poster of the kitten looking in the mirror and seeing a lion. “What matters most is how you see yourself.”
    Alison, this pic is the best yet.

    1. saro*

      It really is adorable! I want to know how she got it on Lucy’s head. All our family cat’s would’ve raised holy hell.

        1. Formica Dinette*

          I’m picturing that video where they put a tiny hat on a kitten. Momcat sniffs kitten, hisses, then smacks the kitten, knocking the hat right off its head.

          Anyway, Lucy looks beautiful as a lion.

  2. Tara*

    Sitting through a pretty intense storm right now… my power has gone off and on twice and I can see sparks on the power lines. The guy from BC Hydro said not to worry about it but it’s definitely making me nervous! I’ve got a mug of tea and all the flashlights are lined up on the table. Mostly I’m just trying not to think about all the large trees around my house.

    1. Jill-be-Nimble*

      Hang in there! Since you’re up with flashlights anyway, after you’ve secured everything as much as possible, lose yourself in a good book. The Neverending Story had it right there…thinking the best for you and hoping you come through OK. Please update when you can.

    2. Gene*

      Ours have flickered a few times tonight in Everett (a bit north of Seattle). And, so far, the fabric is still on my carport.

      1. Tara*

        I’m on Vancouver Island (BC, Canada) and I’m the last house on my street that has power. I’m expecting it to go out for good any minute now!

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          Hope your power stays on. I can’t believe we haven’t lost power during this storm (knock on wood).

      2. Windchime*

        I’m right near Everett and my lights flickered on and off all evening but I never actually lost power. I did light a couple of candles just in case, though.

        1. coconut water*

          Me too…as soon as the lights started to flicker I lit three candles. We never lost power though. Glad you kept power too!

          Not too many branches down in our neighborhood of Ballard. I read some neighborhoods might not see power restored until Monday. Ugh! I feel sorry for them.

        2. Glor*

          We lost power a couple of times, but only for a short while. We’re out in Lake Stevens [right by downtown] and I’m surprised we didn’t lose it for good, gods know we’ve gone out for far longer for far less.

    3. Grand Mouse*

      Currently without power and its been this way for hours! I didn’t think ahead. Anyone reading this, make some food now or have something that doesn’t need preparation. Make your tea or coffee. Know places to get out of the house

    4. Bea W*

      We had a real zinger on the East Coast this week. I still have to go out an see what flew into the side of my house. I’m up on the third floor so I suspect it was a tree branch that came off from a nearby tree and went flying. My dad reported water up over the sea wall at his house. That’s never good. He’s the second house in. I don’t know how he hasn’t had more damage to his home or his cars from the big storms, but it seems like the worst has been having his landscaping timbers washed up the street and things floating around in the basement because the pump went out. The house next to him is literally on top of the sea wall. They have metal storm shutters that come down over all the doors and windows except those on the back, but don’t ask me how that house hasn’t fallen into the ocean yet.

    5. Tara*

      Well, everything’s calmed down now, and it looks like my trees are all intact. I think this is my cue to take a look at which ones are a potential hazard to the house!

    6. Natalie*

      Apparently we’re due for thunderstorms here tonight. Here’s hoping they’re just the fun cuddle on the couch kind and not the power outage kind.

  3. AnonAnon*

    Just need to vent somewhere: I hate hate hate hate my brother’s wife. I don’t understand why he married this awful human being. She is rude, nasty and terrible. She always speaks over the top of me and puts me down for being in grad school. She is younger than me but acts like she is older than me because she is married and I’m not. I’m 25 and she tried to put me at the kids table with the 12 year olds because I’m not married until my mother intervened. I could provide a million examples of why she is horrible, but now she is pregnant and any hope my brother would divorce her and we’d never see her again is gone. I’m so bummed. I hate her so much.

    1. Steve G*

      Been there with both situations, just not in the same person!
      1) as per person who is “nasty and terrible” marrying into the family. I had the same feelings in my early 20s with a few people, and those marriages were all done in 5-8 years. The nastiness/selfishness/attitude took some time to turn on the spouse, but in the long run, it was in the single # of years. Just saying this to give you some “hope” that you aren’t as stuck to in-laws as you sometimes feel.
      2) the age thing. Give it time, it will quickly come up in some sort of group conversation that will embarrass your SIL. It occurred to me mostly at work, where the person pretended to be older and b/c I take care of myself and look very young, they’d use their perceived older age to loom over me. It eventually comes out though, and everyone else is like, WTF?! I’m still experiencing this fake power dynamic with someone at work now though, it’s a little hilarious how he always gets around exposing his age, because we are only a few years apart, yet he’d talked to me multiple times about our generational difference, and no one ever picks up on it. Once me, him, and someone else were at lunch…the 3rd person said to me out of nowhere “how old are you,” but didn’t to the other person. He always escapes it!!!! Ah!!!

    2. Stephanie*

      Yeah, I can’t stand my friend’s husband and can’t stand to be around him (a few of our friends feel similarly). We played the Wakeen Drinking Game last time we were all together, noting his more odious qualities. I can commiserate (although that’s not quite the same as it being my sister-in-law).

      1. salad fingers*

        My sister and brother commiserate as well, though maybe not entirely because the bf and I aren’t married. They still have hope.

    3. Anonie*

      Don’t let her steal your joy! She behaves that way because people allow her to. You need to let her know that she will not treat you any way she pleases. People like that don’t stop until someone confronts them on their crap!

    4. Ditto*

      I’m infertile due to ovarian cancer I had at 16 and it is very difficult for me now I am older and want a child. My brother’s pregnant wife has always been an awful piece of work, but now she is pregnant, she is literally the worst human being on the face of the planet. The icing on the cake 3 weeks ago was when made a comment in front of me to my mother about how ‘at least I can produce you a grandchild mama unlike [myname]’. I mouthed the words ‘F**k you’ to her and stormed out of the room and she yelled out ‘Oh don’t be so DRAMATIC, you drama queen’ and then told everyone in the room ‘she’s so jealous of me, it’s embarrassing, like seriously, she’s like a pathetic little girl’. My mother told my brother in no uncertain terms to say something to his wife, but she’s scared if she pushes it too far, she’ll lose access to her grandchild. It’s awful.

      I’ve never hated someone so much.

      1. Family of Horrors*

        Hi Ditto, you may get some helpful advice from this group:

        Do keep in mind that it is an advice group, not a support group. They put the “harsh” in “harsh but fair”. There are, however, some really good coping techniques proffered for those who wish to continue to see *ahem* difficult *ahem* family members.

        I hope this helps.

        Alison: I hope this is ok (Ditto’s terrible story makes it sound like they could do with the help) but please do delete this post if the link should not be posted here.

      2. Apollo Warbucks*

        I’m not often lost for words but that’s left me speechless. What an incredibly toxic thing to say.

        1. Sadsack*

          Yeah, and I think it is probably guaranteed that no one else likes that woman, either. I don’t get how anyone could sit there and let her get away with talking to someone like that without telling her that she is a monster. if not the mother, then someone else in the room.

      3. Monodon monoceros*

        WTF! your brother, or mom, should say something to her. But then again anyone who would do that may never see how utterly shitty that is. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.

        I also want to say that while I put up with some level of crap from family, I am also of the opinion that I shouldn’t have to deal with emotional abuse just for the sake of family. Once I had this realisation it was a huge weight off my shoulders. I have no problem now saying “sorry, I will not be there for Thanksgiving because I won’t put up with that BS.” and then I make an effort to see the family members I want to see some other time.

        1. Chinook*

          My SIL is like this and it took a few years but my brother is finally standing up to her in public (I have no clue about their private conversations). The first time he did, the rest of the family cheered silently and made sure to back him up. as for wanting their marriage to end, I wouldn’t wish that on him as she is the type who would use the children as a weapon and make a big deal out of making more money than him and ignore the fact that he stayed home on paternity leave for the first child (she took the second child’s leave because she deserved the break). I know a few other men who would leave their mean wives if it wasn’t for the fear of losing their children as well.

      4. Not So NewReader*

        What a toxic person. And such old thinking: her worth comes from her ability to carry a child. Antiquated stuff.
        Be strong. People like this get unraveled by their own toxic behaviors.

      5. Eva*

        I’m so sorry that you have to deal with that. Flaunting one’s own pregnancy and taunting an infertile woman is incredibly callous.

        Now, I’m not saying your sister-in-law is necessarily a narcissist, but this is as good a time as any to recommend a community on reddit which I think a lot of AAM readers will enjoy:

        It’s an incredibly supportive community where people share their stories of being abused by narcissists and empathize with one another. I find it truly therapeutic, and I think you might too.

      6. Lamb*

        That’s aweful and you don’t deserve to be treated like that. If you think he might not know exactly what she said, you could tell your brother (if you’d be able to maintain your calm and not say that she’s vile and you hate her; it will be harder to keep your brother as your ally if he feels like you’re attacking her).
        You would also be totally within your rights to choose to be around her less or not at all.

      7. Bea W*

        Alternate crass fantasy scenario:

        SIL: At least I can produce you a grandchild mama unlike Ditto.

        Ditto: (mouths words) F**k you

        SIL: Oh don’t be so DRAMATIC, you drama queen. She’s so jealous of me, it’s embarrassing, like seriously, she’s like a pathetic little girl.

        Ditto: Oh don’t be such an a$$hole, you insufferable f*ck. Like seriously, you should be down on your knees giving thanks that you didn’t have cancer when you were 16 and double thankful you found a man willing to put up with you let alone put his dick in you to make a baby.

        SIL: (Speechless and clearly offended)

        Room: (Erupts into applause)

        SIL: (Mouths “f*ck you” and storms out of the room)

      8. Artemesia*

        This is so heinous that your best bet is to not storm out or get upset (I know easier said than done) but to sort of calmly let her ugliness just hang there in the air. No one who hears her will think anything but ill of her. That is one of the nastiest things I have ever read about.

      9. Windchime*

        What a horribly hurtful thing for her to say to you, Ditto. I’m so sorry. Hateful people are not happy people, so I’m sure there is some pretty awful stuff rolling around in her head and heart.

      10. littlemoose*

        I’ll join the chorus and say holy shit, that is so awful. I wish we could fix it for you, but maybe it at least helps a smidge to know that SHE, not you, is the problem here. I’m glad your mom has your back and I hope your brother can get it together and say something to her.

        What a wretched person.

      11. Melissa*

        OMG, that’s terrible! Why would a human being say something like that to another person :(

        I think I would demolish my husband if he said something half as rude about my sister. And it’d be clear that he wouldn’t be welcome around the family anymore, married or no.

    5. Carrington Barr*

      Wait until she squeezes out that kid and becomes an utterly unbearable sanctimommy.

      Stay far, FAR away from that piece of work.

      1. Liane*

        I feel really sorry for both AnonAnon & Ditto, & their unborn new relatives. Each of these babies is going to be raised by a dad* who can’t tell good behavior from bad &/or tolerates the latter and a mom* who treats people like @#$%^&$@. Poor things.

        *terms used quite loosely

        1. Chinook*

          Keep in mind we don’t know what conversations happen behind doors. As well, these men risk losing their children of they leave their wives. My brother’s relationship is absolutely toxic but I am noticing a shift to it being better for him and the kids. He is the strong, silent type whip seems to be moving mountains one rock at a time and, frankly, I am noticing that his boys are following in his footsteps.

          1. not brave enough to say*

            This is really encouraging to read; a perspective I would have never thought about! I usually think about it like Liane did. Poor kids and spouse! But you’re right – sometimes good can come from this.

    6. Lola*

      I bet She’s jealous of your relationship with your brother & whole family. Your relationship is established & safe – hers has to be earned and she is trying to do so by putting you down and elbowing you out of the way. It’s kind of sad really. Stop hating her, start pitying her – you’ll feel a lot better.

    7. AdAgencyChick*

      I’m hoping this person is just desperately annoying and not downright evil as Ditto’s SIL is below. If she is, I’d try reframing how you think of her in your mind from “I hate this person” to “I laugh at this person” because it takes so much more emotional energy to hate someone than it does to be amused by them.

      My brother, who is the most easygoing person I know and therefore the only person I know who could put up with my SIL, married a super-bossy pain in the arse. I wasted a lot of mental energy in the first 10 years or so of their marriage arguing with her and being angry at her. After a certain point I just started to think of it as “the Jane show” in my mind, as though I were watching a sitcom, and now I no longer think “I wish he would divorce her.” As I said, it works because he’s so easygoing that her bossiness just rolls right off him, and when she tries to boss me I either laugh inside and ignore her, or actually laugh out loud, which annoys HER.

      For someone like Ditto, whose SIL would *intentionally* make a cutting remark about infertility…I don’t know what you do with such a witch. I’m sorry.

    8. Liz in a Library*

      Ugh…I don’t have any advice, but I’m sorry you are going through that. My husband’s father and one of his brothers are both terrible people (he agrees after years of their lying, manipulation, and extreme actions); it really stinks to have to spend lots of family time with people who treat you terribly. :(

    9. soitgoes*

      My brother’s fiance is similar. Last Thanksgiving, she looked at me across the Thanksgiving table and said, “so, how long DOES is take to finish a master’s degree?” I was appalled. It took me six years to finish grad school (in fact, I finished in January – three months after this conversation took place), but so what? My other brother actually stood up for me by pointing out that both of them never finished their associate’s degrees. It’s gotten to the point where I won’t go to family functions if they’re there. My mother doesn’t love that (her feelings are mitigated by the fact that she hates the fiance too) but I remind her that the only way to make peace with the fiance would be to allow myself to be pressured into codependency. When someone won’t meet you in the middle, your only options are to opt out completely or beg for approval. I see no point in showing up to events that I know will make me unhappy.

      Obviously, I can’t suggest that you simply stop going to Thanksgiving or whatever – that’s my own therapy-talk speaking. But if it helps you to know that an internet stranger supports an eventual choice to back away from that portion of your family, have at it :)

    10. Fruitfly*

      Augh! Puts you down for being in grad school! She is just jealous. Don’t let her get you down. If she does try to make bully you because she thinks you’re too young, immature, and inept in doing something, ask her if she is going “loco.” And for whatever her replies are, just say she is “loco.”

      1. Fruitfly*

        Also, if your brother tries to stood up for her. Say that you are not going to be bullied and you are going to stand up for yourself even if that means saying mean things.

      2. Windchime*

        I’d have been tempted to innocently ask, “It depends on the program. How long did it take for you to finish yours?” (knowing full well that she didn’t even finish her AA). I’m a pretty smart person, but I’m not above pretending to be dumb in a situation such as this. I don’t like cruel people, but sometimes the temptation to be all “back-atcha” is really strong.

        1. Fruitfly*

          The cruel in-law might say something like “I don’t need a masters, I got a job and you don’t, even after you finish grad school.” Then the OP/Bully Victim can maybe say, “then you can do your stickin’ job for the rest of your life. And if you say you can find a better one in a snap, why don’t you quit and see how long it takes for you to get a new job. Let’s have a bet, if it takes you 3 months then is $300, 10 months $1000, etc.”

          Hmm…I am wondering if I am going overboard with the betting?

    11. Clerica*

      I have to wonder how she thought the kids’ table thing was going to play out. You’re 25 years old. Older than her. Did she really think all the other adults in the room were just going to blithely go about their dinner and conversation and never comment on the fact that you’re sitting across the room at a card table with the tweens?

      Did she think you would just cheerily sit down to eat off Corelle, drink grape juice out of a sippy cup, and talk about…idk, Bieber?

      The fact that she thought that would actually happen is scarier than her wanting to do it in the first place.

      1. Daisy*

        I am in my 40’s and still get placed at the kid’s table. I am single and that is just how my family does things. She may have been raised the same way. It’s awful but it is just how it is.

        1. Clerica*

          I think you just broke something in my brain.

          I would stay home. I mean, as it is, I put my foot down and stopped going to “family” holiday gatherings because of the way my father’s wife would treat me…and I at least got to sit at the same table. This is the saddest thing. I’m sorry.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            And here I am raised in a family with no kids’ table at all unless the party was so large that they had to be split up to two tables to begin with. So long as the chairs fit around the table (and my family was not a big so they usually did) we all sat together. The feasting holidays are *family* holidays, after all. The family should eat *together*.

            1. Melissa*

              Yeah, I never understood the concept of a kids’ table. Family functions are more fun when everyone sits together. The only time there was ever a kids’ eating section in my family is when the extended family was all together and we kids voluntarily grouped together to eat dinner and nobody was actually eating at the table because it was hella informal. But my mom also has six siblings and there are 21 children between them, so…we couldn’t all fit at the table, lol.

        2. Anna*

          There’s the way you were raised, and then there’s what you can insist on once you’re an adult. Because not being married doesn’t make you a child. It doesn’t sound like you’re cool with it.

  4. Jill-be-Nimble*

    I have a very strange Thank You to say to this community! I had been thinking of getting an IUD for a very long time, and finally got insurance that allowed me to get it for free. When there was a post recently about someone who took a full day of work off for a doctor’s appointment, many here chimed in about their experiences getting their IUDs placed, and how it took longer and was more painful than they thought.

    I listened to everything you ladies said about what you wished you had known and done differently with your own IUDs, and followed it all, to a paranoid degree. Many said that they wished they had taken pain meds before the procedure, so I took two Aleve two hours beforehand; many said that they wished that they had taken more time off and arranged for transportation–I took the whole day and didn’t feel bad about it and took a cab home (a luxury I NEVER let myself have) and prepared to have enough indulgent food and good wine and shows queued up for the entire weekend so that I could have entertainment while in cramping pain for three days.

    Amazingly, I really didn’t need any of it. I think that because I was so well prepared with so many good stories (and good pain meds before I went in,) it was barely painful at all during the insertion and I’ve barely noticed it, other than light spotting–no pain all weekend. I’m happy that I took the time, though, and really listened to my body and knew the good/bad signs/side effects going in.

    I know it’s weird to thank people on a career forum for such helpful and extremely personal advice, but your being open and unashamed about it has made me the same–and I’ve been spreading that experience to my friends, many of whom are reluctant to talk about this form of birth control. My treating it as something normal and very cool is causing them to do the same. So, thank you so much for your stories and tips and advice, even though you didn’t know that you were giving it at the time. I love this community, and this is just one of the small reasons why. Have a fabulous Sunday!

    1. Adonday Veeah*

      I was not one who joined a previous conversation about this topic, but I’ll chime in now. I got one many, many years ago (I’m in my 60’s now) so likely products and procedures have improved considerably since then. Mine was painless also, and other than heavier periods I enjoyed mine for several years before a PID made removal necessary. And although the PID was a minor nuisance, removal was painless as well. Pay attention to your body, and you’ll do fine. I loved mine. Congrats on the courage to go ahead with this in spite of the stories you heard! And also congrats on being willing to talk to others. Women learn from each other, and would love to talk about these things if only they had the courage. I’m glad you do. I’m glad you’re now feeling well enough to enjoy all the wonderful pampering goodies you’ve lined up for yourself!

      1. TalleySueNYC*

        Total, total aside to Adonday Veeah: I love your user name. Do many people “get” it? I just found my “The People” books in a box while decluttering the storage bin and tucked them lovingly on the “keep forever” shelf.

    2. Jazzy Red*

      Jill, I think one of the big reasons is your statement that you listened to your body, and that you educated yourself about the process (OK, that’s two reasons). Not knowing what to expect can cause a lot of anxiety, and ignoring the signals your body gives you will almost always cause you pain. I’m glad that you had a much easier time of it than you expected. It’s good that you’re passing your story along to your friends, too. It’s like being a mentor in your non-business life (or a good big sister or cousin).

    3. Melissa*

      Wonderful! I’m happy for you! I’ve had an IUD for two years and I loooove it. I did take pain meds ahead of time but didn’t need the whole day to recover. I have also participated in spreading the IUD gospel and convinced one of my friends looking for long-term birth control to get one, lol. So many people has misconceptions about them, so it’s nice to give good accurate information out!

  5. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m wondering if I should get into reading mysteries. They’ve never been my thing (although I was totally engrossed by reading Gone Girl), but I can get weirdly into true crime (although traditionally that’s been articles and TV more than books, and I’m currently obsessed with Serial — the new podcast from This American Life exploring a very mysterious murder case) so I feel like maybe I’d love mysteries if I found the right ones.

    So… any recommendations for a novice mystery reader that are engrossing and well-written? And should I be reading cozies, in particular? Are they actually cozy, or is the name misleading?

    1. Jill-be-Nimble*

      I’ve always been the same as you–into True Crime shows, but not mysteries. I’ve been dipping my toe in with the Miss Marple series (Agatha Christie) and, most recently, ALL of the Sherlock Holmes series written by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s been good because I’ve always loved turn-of-the -century (20th) literature, and I have recently become a fan of the TV series associated with them (also, they were free on my Kindle, so I had nothing to lose).

      It was cool to read through the evolution of the stories–Doyle has never been known as a nice, sane, or anti-racist person. For all he wrote of rationalism, he vocally believed in fairies and held a bunch of seances for the dead. It was fun to read those with that background in mind. That, and that was really the start of the genre as we know it. I think that I’m a lot more open to mysteries now that I’ve been reading the older (and free!) classics.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I LOVE Sherlock Holmes stories. I love watching the logical deduction that plays out. It’s not logical nor immediately apparent to ME! A friend who reads a lot of classics says that Doyle’s pattern is boring and predicable. I like the pattern and the pattern is why I read these stories.

        I am reaching back here- but I recall that Holmes was based on a real life doctor that could watch a person walk by and know oh-so-much about that person. A talent I find fascinating for some stupid reason.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          Dr. Joseph Bell. There is a great nonfiction book I read about him a few years ago, but I’m failing to remember the name. There was also a PBS? Miniseries of fictionalized stories of the two of them solving crimes–Dr Bell and Mr Doyle, I think.

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Oh I remember the series. It had Ian Richardson in it, who play Francis Urqhart in the original House of Cards.

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      I love Harlan Coben’s books. He’s funny and always has great twists to his stories. Jeffrey Deaver is amazing, you can tell he thoroughly researches his topics so I learn a lot while indulging in my guilty pleasure. He doesn’t write formulaic books either, so it’s not like you read one, you know his formula. The other one that comes to mind is Martha Grimes;British author, so you get a bit of that dry sense of humour.

      1. Barbara in Swampeast*

        Another vote for Harlan Coben. His “Gone for Good” is one of the best books I have ever read! The Myron Bolitar series is also fun because the main characters are so unique.

        Some one else mentioned P.D. James – one of the finest writers of the English language, no matter what genre. And the old standards of Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I really enjoy the alphabet mystery series by Sue Grafton. It starts with “A is for Alibi ” and she’s now up to W. The main character is a private detective, and it’s set in the 80’s, so she has to figure things out without the help of Google or a smart phone. She’s a bit of a loner and also a smart ass.

      1. Garland*

        I love the alphabet mysteries! Only a few left, unfortunately. I sure will miss Kinsey, Henry, Rosie, etc.

      2. Natalie*

        Yes, I think Sue Grafton is a great start. If you’re not a huge mystery reader, I’d start with B rather than A though.

    4. Sail On, Sailor*

      I never really liked mysteries until I stumbled upon the Alex McKnight series by Steve Hamilton. Good plots, great writing, and fully-realized characters. Unfortunately, there’s only ten of them….

    5. Graciosa*

      I read a fair amount in mystery, but it is very much a matter of taste. I’ll try to give a few recommendations with comments – if you browse the reviews at Amazon for any that seem interesting, hopefully you’ll get a better sense of what types might be a good gamble.

      The Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn – This series is set in the 1920’s in England with a heroine who is a writer that people tend to confide in when she stumbles over dead bodies. There is a romance that develops over several books, which I enjoyed (and seems more realistic than instant passion!).

      The Grace and Favor mysteries by Jill Churchill – These are set in a small town outside of New York during the Depression era. The protagonists are a brother and sister who inherit a house there. It is much less depressing than it sounds, and the author uses historical tidbits well to add color to the story. I tend to enjoy the domestic color as the siblings (formerly rich New Yorkers) try to adapt to their environment.

      The Nero Wolfe books by Rex Stout – This series is set in the 30s – 50s, although the atmosphere changes little in the brownstone occupied by Nero Wolfe (eccentric genius with a passion for orchids and fine food who solves mysteries reluctantly to support these habits) and Archie Goodwin, his everyman sidekick and narrator. These are books I reread repeatedly just because I enjoy them even when I know who did it. There are a lot of short story collections with these characters.

      The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie – This is a classic Hercule Poirot with a clever twist which I won’t spoil here. There are others I enjoy (including the classic Miss Marple stories) but some can get a little otherworldly (spiritualism was fashionable at the time) and depressing. The short stories are usually good bets. The Secret of Chimneys is another good choice to start with, but the last BBC adaptation completely rewrote the story so don’t be put off if you saw it.

      The Turing Hopper mysteries by Donna Andrews – The heroine is a sentient computer! These are really original and fun to read – I’m sorry that there aren’t that many.

      The Grub-and-Stakers books by Charlotte MacLeod (writing as Alisa Craig) – These are comedies as much as mysteries, and they are populated with quirky characters. However, you definitely need a sense of whimsy to enjoy them. Charlotte MacLeod (like Agatha Christie) got a little far out there sometimes (The Curse of the Giant Hogweed in a different series has some time travel only weakly excused by a pretense of a plot) but I also generally enjoy the Peter Shandy mysteries.

      The Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters – These start in Victorian times with an independent woman of means and a strong interest in archeology and evolve through the world wars and into future generations. I find these very humorous as well (the heroine rhapsodizes about the wonderful scent of bat guano), with lively, colorful characters and a lot of action.

      Once you get going, you’ll find that there are cozies written to suit almost any hobby (that involve quilting, cupcake shops, bed-and-breakfasts, fashion, etc.). The quality can be a bit variable on these, but there are some good ones.

      Great topic – I’m looking forward to reading what others recommend. :-)

      1. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

        I like S.J. Rozan’s Lydia Chin and Bill Smith series. They started in the 90s so the early ones are dated/a charming reminder of days gone by, depending on your perspective. They are 2 NY private eyes who are friends and casual partners. Each has an independent clientele and the series alternates between the two delivering first person accounts of the case. Lydia is Chinese-American and her cases all take place in Chinatown or involving Chinese culture. She represents the late 80s-90s new wave of mystery detective–younger, female and ethnic. Bill is a traditional brooding cop in his late 30s-40s with a tragic past and interesting skills, and his cases tend to be more classic–working class guys, missing art, murdered girls. Rozan took 10 years off after 9/11 but picked them up again with three recent books that were all excellent.

      2. Eliz87*

        I second The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. I am a huge Agatha Christie fan, and that one is my favorite

      3. Artemesia*

        The Louise Penney books are fun — they are ‘cozy’ in that they are often set in an impossible idylic little town, but they are also complex and have characters with some depth. I wonder how the Quebec Surete feels about them though as it is portrayed as the world’s most sinister and corrupt police force — except for our hero Gamache of course.

    6. Stephanie*

      A little more of a thriller than a mystery, but I really liked Out by Natsuo Kirino. It’s about four women who work as shift workers at a bento box factory and participate in a crime cover up (which goes awry). You know who committed the crime, but you also follow along while the detective figures out the crime.

    7. plain_jane*

      I’m a big fan of Sarah Caudwell. She only wrote 4 books, and the last wasn’t quite complete, but the first three are gems. Our detective is is an academic who likes to stick their nose into things and won’t admit it (not exactly an unreliable narrator, but doesn’t always notice when other people are snarking). The secondary barristers are all very fun. It has this very British dry humour gets me every time. Tax planning has never been so fun.

    8. Jordi*

      I’m not a huge mystery reader myself, I usually read non-fiction, but my dad is trying to get me into the author Archer Mayor–he writes mysteries set in small town Vermont. So far the book I’m reading seems pretty good.

      For true crime books, nothing beats Truman Capote “In Cold Blood”. John Grisham also did a nonfiction crime book a number of years ago called “The Innocent Man” that I enjoyed.

    9. Lizabeth*

      J. D. Robb books are set in the near future (Nora Roberts alter ego) and have a nice edge to them.

      Dick and Felix Francis books but they’ve focused on the horse industry in England. I like them because it’s horses and some other profession – law, glass blowing, gem stones, photography etc…

      P.D James.

      1. Graciosa*

        I love J.D. Robb but would never consider the “In Death” series as cozies, especially with Eve’s backstory. Probably much closer to true crime with a sexy twist – but very well written and fun to read (and reread).

    10. BRR*

      I enjoyed The Cuckoo’s Calling. I’m not a mystery person but I feel it was written to cater to people like me.

      Before that I think the last mystery book I read was Encyclopedia Brown.

      1. Mints*

        Same. I don’t generally read mysteries, but love Harry Potter. Cuckoo’s Calling is a really excellent mystery. JK Rowling writes such a tight writer plot-wise and it’s really well written

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        You might like Booker-and Kafka award winner John Banville writing as Benjamin Black, with a Irish pathologist as protagonist. Cuckoo’s Calling reminded me a bit of these books. For another literary author writing pseudonymously, one of my absolute favorites is the Duffy series by “Dan Kavanagh” who is actually multiple-award-including-Booker author Julian Barnes. Black’s novels are bleak; Kavanagh’s novels are bleak and funny.

    11. Lore*

      I am generally not a huge fan of the cozies because after a few books it starts to seem implausible that a given small town could have so much crime without everyone panicking and moving away! But, the Flavia de Luce books by Alan Bradley are a delight–Flavia is an eleven-year-old chemistry whiz in post-WWII England with a penchant for the macabre. They’re witty and sweet and clever.

      In the totally other direction, some of my non-cozy favorites are Sara Paretsky (Chicago PI, lots of meaty issue-driven stuff with historic sweep), Tana French (modern Dublin; each book has a different cop from the same squad at its center), Elizabeth George (very character driven London police novels), and Jacqueline Winspear (London just after WWI, though the last few aren’t as good).

      1. Mister Pickle*

        > Flavia is an eleven-year-old chemistry whiz in post-WWII England with a penchant for the macabre.

        I’m sold!

      2. jhhj*

        So the thing is, I loved Flavia 1, but found books 2 and 3 were changing from her solving things with science to her solving things with her womanly intuition. (See also: Maisie Dobbs, which just kept getting worse about this.) Did this change back later for Flavia?

        1. Loren*

          I thought it was more “keen powers of observation” than “womanly intuition,” but be that as it may. I think 4 and 5 are solid (one of them is a classic “locked-room” sort of thing, with a Christmas setting no less), and 6 is terrific.

            1. Lore*

              Now that I think about it–perhaps more Murder on the Orient Express, where all your characters are locked up together, than locked room in the Sherlock Holmes sense. Still fun.

    12. Diet Coke Addict*

      I’m a huge fan of the Dublin Murder Squad books, which are like a mystery/thriller hybrid. The first one, In The Woods, and the second, The Likeness, are the ones I like best. I’m in the middle of the newest one, The Secret Place, right now, and finding it hard to put down. They’re not too heavy on the whodunit-hard-boiled thing, but they’re incredibly engrossing and well-written and the author makes you feel as if you’re in Dublin without going overboard. Excellent.

    13. Liane*

      My daughter & I love Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson mysteries, set in a tiny Minnesota town, that must have the highest murder rate on the entire Earth. Hannah owns the town’s bakery & is especially renowned for her cookies. The characters are fun. I especially like her mom, the Regency Romance author & the 2 rivals for Hannah’s affections (who are truly friendly rivals)–but your fave, Alison, will no doubt be Moishe, the big cat who owns Hannah.
      Each book also has at least a dozen, mostly cookie, recipes. My son & daughter have made several & they are delicious. In fact, the Deluxe Monkey Bread (with optional nuts &/or chocolate) had become a specialty of my daughter’s.

    14. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      Cozies and Gone Girl are almost diametrically opposed in my mind, so I’ll try and recommend for both tastes:

      Tana French — I love her books! It’s not exactly a series, but her main characters all work for the Dublin murder squad, and the stories all rest on a deep exploration of personalities and relationships.

      Minette Walters — British, non-series. She can get creepy, but the Icehouse and the Scold’s Bridle are less creepy than some of the others.

      Harry Bingham — British — the series that starts with Talking to the Dead. The protagonist is a young female detective with an intriguing condition. Both funny and riveting.

      Kate Atkinson– British, very funny, more cozy than not.

      P.D. James — unparalleled “dark Cozies” (I think I just invented that term.)

      Historical sort-of-Cozies set in Britain — authors C.S. Harris, Kate Ross, and Madeleine E. Robins.

      a cozy set in Laos — the Dr Siri series by Colin Cotterill.

      Barry Maitland’s detective series in Britain.

      Reginald Hill’s (multiple) series in Britain — modern cozy-adjacent while tackling more complex issues.

      Best ever “make the mold and then break it” cozies — the books by Dorothy Sayers from the 1930s.

      American Authors —
      Cozy takes a different from in the US and is often too twee for my tastes (I am from the US) but I would put John Sanford’s Virgil Flowers series in the American Cozy non-twee category.

      Laura Lippman’s series is very good, but her standalone novels (To the power of three, I’d know you anywhere, etc.) are in Gillian Flynn territory. So are Lisa Gardner’s books.

      Not in either category, but I love them anyway — the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child & Linwood Barclay’s hapless suburban family.

      I read across genres (obviously) so I wouldn’t restrict myself too tightly to genres at the beginning but as someone else wrote, just look for something good according to Amazon reviews. Barnes and Noble has a better search function and presentation of editorial reviews by Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, etc. so sometimes I start there.

      Enjoy yourself!

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Ha I Just realized that I may have inadvertently started a genre definition war by putting “cozy” on Sanford and P.D. James, and I have to leave the computer now, so I’ll just say that I’ve been reading across genres for years (which is unusual, according to some bookstore owners of my acquaintance) and I have my own idiosyncratic categories for cozy, hard-boiled, etc. that tend to be on a mental spectrum.

        Just to be clear — while I may put the Virgil Flowers books in the cozy-adjacent category, they include guns and swearing, sometimes explosives.

      2. Lore*

        I second the Laura Lippman recommendation! Also, you may have read them already as they’re fairly old, but she’s married to David Simon and his two Baltimore books, Homicide and The Corner, are amazing and true-crime-adjacent.

          1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            + 1000. On the other hand, I respect that she is resisting the best seller factory trend which has destroyed some formerly good authors. I guess slow books, like slow food, are likely to taste better!

            1. the gold digger*

              I am putting in an endorsement for my college friend, Jeff Abbott, who is also friends with Harlan Coban and Laura Lippman. Jeff’s more recent books are about ordinary people caught up in weird situations. I would read his books even if he and I had not been in the same Shakespeare class when we were both majoring in English.

          1. Stephanie*

            Oh, I know this thread is sleepy, but I just thought of another book! Try Red on Red by Edward Conlon.

      3. Carrie in Scotland*

        I LOVE the Harry Bingham books. Very original and unique main character.
        Also agree on the Kate Atkinson ones, although some of hers are not crime/mystery and are pure fiction (my absolute favourites being Life after Life & Scenes behind the Museum)

    15. Cupcake*

      I love to read, but don’t typically choose mysteries (although, I can enjoy one occasionally). However, I just wanted to add “your local library is your friend.” Most libraries have their inventory online these days, and you can often get good reviews of books that way, too. The best thing about library books is… they’re FREE! If you choose a book that you find is not to your taste, just return it… no loss. Use your library to find the style of mystery and author that appeals to you before you start to build your personal library.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        “The best thing about library books is… they’re FREE!”

        Yup! Our tax dollars at work. Ours has DVDs of Miss Marple, Poirot, and loads of TV shows. Great for binge watching.

    16. Lola*

      Erik Larson – The Devil in White City is excellent – from Chicago in late 1800s. Very, very well written.
      Assume you’ve read “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” series?
      Ian Rankin – Rebus series, set in Edinburgh.
      Susan Hill – Simon Serailler series, set in England

      Started reading mysteries a couple of years ago because they have a definite end point and I was getting frustrated with reading books which seemed to have no point whatsoever!!

      I too am obsessed with “Serial” and am so disappointed when the episodes end…

      1. Lola*

        I have 2 more true crime (Devil in the White City is also factual)
        Picking Cotton – Jennifer Thompson-Cannino & Ronald Cotton – a really unusual story
        Under the Banner of Heaven – Jon Krakauer – fascinating

        1. the gold digger*

          Picking Cotton was amazing and changed my view of the justice system.

          The other Krakauer book – about the polygamous Mormons – is also excellent. The 19th Wife or something like that?

    17. Jazzy Red*

      For well-written and intelligent books, I go to the oldies – Agatha Christie, Ellery Queen, Mary Roberts Rinehart, Alistar MacLean (more action/adventure/mystery). For fun, The Southern Sisters by Anne George, Psychic Eye Mysteries by Victoria Laurie and anything by Elaine Viets.

      I started reading mysteries when I was a young girl, with the Nancy Drew series. I sold all my Nancy book a few years, and re-read every one (35) before I let them go.

    18. Trixie*

      I haven’t read them yet but have John le Carre on my list. Loved Tinker Tailor Soldier Boy as a movie, and will try to read A Most Wanted Man before watching the movie with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

      I also like reading the lighter stuff that combines mysteries with food or wine.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Ooh, you reminded me — how could I forget Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley books for nervewracking Gone Girl-type hijinks? Phillip Seymour Hoffman is in the film version of the Talented Mr Ripley, along with Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow.

        If you like Le Carre, you might like Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noir series, about a private detective in 1930’s Berlin (during and post-war). Earlier books are better, IMO.

        I’ll never forget training some student employees on our exit control system and making a joke about “Checkpoint Charlie” and having them look at me blankly. Okay, no more Cold War metaphors or references, they’re now too young to understand them!

    19. Liz in a Library*

      The only mystery series that I haven’t seen mentioned, but that is wonderful, is Christopher Fowler’s Peculiar Crimes books. They take place all across the second half of the 20th century, following an underdog police unit who work on crimes that seem supernatural in origin (but that generally have a solidly worldly explanation). They are funny and also dark, with really well-written characters.

      1. Lore*

        Yes! This is when I think my job is really cool because I work on those books. Also Alan Bradley, sometimes Lee Child, one Sara Paretsky before she switched publishers… And that’s just mysteries!

    20. life's a beach*

      I bet you’d enjoy the Joe Grey mysteries by Shirely Roussoe. the detectives are talking cats.

    21. Vancouver Reader*

      Thanks for asking the question Alison, I’m always in search of new mystery writers to try out. Another one I enjoy, sort of mystery I guess, is Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl series.

    22. Forrest Rhodes*

      You do know this is a dangerous question, right? It could take centuries to work through the excellent suggestions you’re getting below. I’m a huge mystery fan; they’re a great escape from the heavily scientific stuff I work on. Can’t resist listing a few that I like:
      Agatha Christie: Anything she’s written; my favorite is probably The Moving Finger.
      Sue Grafton: Absolutely, and in alpha order, if possible. Favorite is G is for Gumshoe (partly because of Dietz).
      Dana Stabenow: The Kate Shugak series, set in non-urban Alaska; again, read ’em sequentially, if possible. If not, try to find Breakup first; I was laughing out loud along with the mystery because the descriptions of Kate’s community and residents strongly remind me of springtime in a little mountain town where I once lived.
      Alan Bradley, Flavia de Luce: Second the motion to whoever mentioned these below. Really absorbing and entertaining—and this is the opinion of me, who failed chemistry twice: once in high school and once (almost) in college.
      Finally, Robert B. Parker: Sadly, no longer with us, and the newer books are just okay, but I really like his earlier ones: Looking for Rachel Wallace, Early Autumn, et al. Spenser, Hawk, and Susan (most of the time; sometimes her perfection is just annoying) are people I’d want as friends.
      Another thought: One of my local libraries places a blue “Sherlock Holmes” sticker on the spines of mystery books; sometimes I just pick a stack at random and look for that sticker. That works, too.
      Sorry to ramble on so long here; as I said, dangerous question. Happy reading, and happy discoveries to us all!

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Great list, and I second the early Robert B. Parker recommendation. My husband and I had a dorky affection for the TV series Spenser: For Hire, especially Avery Brooks as Hawk.

        I was thinking about Parker when I wrote above about my idiosyncratic spectrum of cozy to hard-boiled. Parker wrote his dissertation on Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, and clearly his fiction is in the American hard-boiled tradition. I love Chandler and Hammett, but read them or Parker in the context of Mo Hayder, Charles Willeford, or the British Harpur and Iles series by Bill James, and they start to seem a bit less hard-boiled. Mo Hayder is my personal “how much am I going to have to steel myself to read this book” absolute end of the spectrum.

        1. Forrest Rhodes*

          Thanks, DQO. I’ve added your suggestions to my list and will be finding them soon. About Spenser: I never expected to like the TV series—for some reason I pictured more of a Nick Nolte (okay, a young Nick Nolte) when I read the books—but Robert Urich and, absolutely, Avery Brooks nailed it. The show became my reason for saying, “Yes, I’ll be at [fill in event], but may be a little late.”

          I’ve always admired Parker’s writing—he gets the story told with only a few words but always the right ones. You’re right, he’s hard-boiled, but not as graphically/clinically so as, say, James Patterson’s Women’s Murder Club series. I know that godawful things happen to people in mysteries, but I edit medical science materials for a living so I get my fill of that kind of stuff from work. Detailed discussions of autopsy procedures, for instance, are not what I want to read for relaxation!

          Anyway, thanks. Glad to hear from another Spenser fan.

    23. Sunflower*

      I also am not into mysteries and accidentally have read a few when I was looking for YA series to read. I’m still reading the Pretty Little Liars series and finished the Private series by Kate Brian. Both are soooo incredibly engrossing I guess because I loved the Gossip Girl series and the background story is similar so it was so easy to get into. I don’t any know besides those so I’d recommend trying to find a series with a back story that really interests you?

    24. soitgoes*

      The Bones books by Cathy Reichs are really good and surprisingly unlike the show. Temperance doesn’t have the played-up personality quirks that have become amplified as the show has racked up years.

      You could try House of Leaves it you want something utterly insane.

    25. jhhj*

      Tana French is great, though her books are not exactly typical; I’m a big fan of Susan Hill’s Simon Serrailler books. (I’d read both in order, but it’s only crucial for the Hill books.)

      C.S. Harris writes interesting historicals, Louise Penny writes somewhat less interesting Quebec-themed books but her writing style is odd. I like Carol O’Connell’s Mallory books, many of Val McDermid’s books (‘A Place of Execution’ is the best), earlier Ruth Rendell/Barbara Vine, Minette Walters, earlier Elizabeth George. JK Rowling’s books as Robert Galbraith are good, too. I liked Chris Pavonne’s vaguely thrillery books.

      Cozies usually mean no sexual violence, no major description of violence and the crime is solved by non-forensic means and generally by someone who isn’t a cop, a PI or a lawyer. They’re usually set in a small community, they tend to humour. I’m fond of Donna Andrews’ “Death + bird species” books.

    26. salad fingers*

      I loved and have found myself constantly recommending the Bernie Gunther series (starts with a trilogy called Berlin Noir) by Philip Kerr. WWII historical fiction, not sure if these are technically mystery. Main character is private investigator Bernie Gunther, stories center around his being pulled in to investigate for all sides — jewish families with missing relatives, the SS, SD, post-war Nazi expats in Argentina, etc. These were easily the most engrossing books I’ve read in the last couple of years. Case in point — finished (maybe the fourth?) book, ordered next book in series for overnight delivery, was too impatient for that, ordered book on kindle. That also might say less about the books than about my concerning inability to delay gratification.

    27. V. Meadowsweet*

      nthing Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Sue Grafton, and Dick Francis, also Kathy Reichs with the caveat that they can be quite graphic.

      cozies, as far as I can tell, are shorter and involve a main character who isn’t a detective by trade, which is kind of awesome because you can pretty much find a mystery that involves anything you’re interested in :) Laura Childs’ Teashop and Scrapbooking Mysteries and Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy Schulz series (main character is a caterer), and there’s a home improvement series I can’t quite remember the name of right now were all fun. Elaine Viets ‘Dead End Jobs’ series is a good one too. (Dick Francis’ novels fall into cozy by my definition too)

      I’m not sure if genre mysteries count as cozies, but there’s quite a range of sf and fantasy mysteries too. Alex Hughes ‘Mindspace Investigations’, Simon R. Green’s ‘Nightside’, and Clen Cook’s ‘Garret, PI’ spring to mind.

      Fantastic Fiction ( is a great resource, both for a pretty complete list of what an author has written and been involved in (anthologies, etc) and for recommendations by authors and ‘other people look for this author too’ suggestions.

      1. V. Meadowsweet*

        hit submit and immediately remembered Barbara Hambly’s ‘Benjamin January’ series! It’s set in New Orleans in the 1830s, and is pretty fantastic – the main character is a former slave, pianist and piano teacher, and Paris-trained doctor. It’s hard to describe, but it’s very real and very good.

      2. Graciosa*

        Simon Green is a fantastic writer (in both senses of the word) but his Deathstalker novels are – well, wow. I was reading one once and realized that a) it was so engrossing that my just-one-more page had turned into still reading at three o’clock in the morning when I had to get up at six for work, and b) he was describing a level of perversion I literally could not have imagined and I was still reading. I think that says a lot about his skill and creativity, but I would add a bit of a warning for any potential readers who don’t have a strong stomach.

    28. Lizzie*

      To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis is one of my two favorite books, it’s kind of a futuristic-historical (the protagonists are time-traveling historians) mystery chock-full of references to other mysteries (specifically Dorothy Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey and Sherlock Holmes).

      Also – not quite what you asked for, but Longform reposts a lot of good crime-related articles.

    29. Mister Pickle*

      I don’t read many mysteries, but I have a few recommendations that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned already:

      Gregory McDonald’s Fletch and Flynn books. Irwin Maurice Fletcher in the books is nothing at all like Chevy Chase in the movies – which is a Good Thing. Fletch’s Fortune, Fletch and the Man Who, Confess, Fletch, Fletch’s Moxie, Fletch and the Widow Bradley, and The Buck Passes Flynn are all very good. They’re mysteries, but the focus is often upon witty repartee. Avoid Carioca Fletch; the author was having a bad week or something.

      The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters. A “pre-apocalyptic police procedural”: in 6 months the world is going to be destroyed by an asteroid impact. But one detective can’t let go of an ‘accidental death’ that he thinks was really a murder.

      Marooned In Realtime by Vernor Vinge. Set 50 million years in the future, a ‘locked room’ murder mystery without an actual locked room. The book is stand-alone, although you’ll get a bit of background if you’ve already read Vinge’s The Peace War.

      Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan. Hard-boiled detective mystery set in the 25th century, it’s extremely good, although I feel like I should warn that it is not shy about violence or sex.

      Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. 1988 Edgar Award winner. Death at a Science Fiction convention. If you’ve ever been to a Con, you’ll love this.

    30. Hermoine Granger*

      I loved reading the Sherlock Holmes B&N volumes but have been unable to find other mysteries that are equally entertaining. I tried the Poirot and Ms. Marple series by Agatha Christie but didn’t quite like them (though I do enjoy the Poirot TV series). I have a similar issue with true crime where I find the articles and documentaries interesting but most of the books that I come across are blah. I look forward to checking out some of these suggestions.

    31. littlemoose*

      So I share your affinity for true crime, and I’ll recommend something slightly different – Longform articles. It’s an app that curates longform magazine articles, many of which are about true crime stories. I’ve read so many excellent articles that way – some are like short stories. I think you can also save them for later reading if you have Instapaper or Pocket, to make yourself a little magazine for future perusal.

    32. Kyrielle*

      Depending on whether or not you enjoy historical settings, you might enjoy the Brother Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (Edith Pargeter), starting with A Morbid Taste for Bones. I found them very fun, bearing in mind that I don’t have the sort of background that would cause me to notice every little anachronism or thing out of place, so I can’t say if there are any or not.

      Agatha Christine’s Miss Marple books are definitely sort of homey and cozy in feel, in my experience – mostly because of Miss Marple. :)

    33. skyline*

      I really love the Dublin Murder Squad novels by Tana French, mentioned several times above. Not cozies, but very atmospheric with a lot of attention to language and characterization. They mostly standalone, but I recommend reading #1 (Into the Woods) and #2 (The Likeness) in order. My favorite, hands down, is #3 (Faithful Place). I recommend them a lot to people looking for more literary mysteries who aren’t already mystery novels.

      1. Loren*

        I actually read Gone Girl and Faithful Place very close together and found them interesting companion pieces–though I’m too committed to reading series in order myself to whole-heartedly recommend skipping the first two Tana Frenches and starting with Faithful Place.

        1. skyline*

          I’ve had a couple friends bounce off The Likeness because they couldn’t buy the premise, but they’ve enjoyed French’s other novels. So depending on how well I know the reader’s tastes, I do sometimes suggest folks start with Faithful Place.

          I do generally read series in order, though.

      2. jhhj*

        I’d also read Faithful Place before either Broken Harbour (4) or The Secret Place (5), but those two can be read in either order.

      3. skyline*

        A few more suggestions:
        Dennis Lehane – great characterization and sense of place. Mystic River is a favorite, though I suppose a lot of people know the story now because of the movie.
        Laurie King – She’s best known for her Sherlock Holmes series, but I prefer her contemporaries set in the SF Bay Area.
        Louise Penny – Mentioned several times above, lots of attention to characterization. Definitely read in order, as there are narrative strands that continue across books.
        Kate Atkinson – Start with Case Histories. Love her writing, especially the use of multiple POVs.

        And possible a fun tool to play with: Type in the name of an author you like, and find some very general recommendations for other authors to try. Like all of these sorts of tools, it’s imperfect, but it’s helped me discover some authors who I might not have otherwise tried.

    34. jhhj*

      I forgot about Laurie King’s books. She has a few standalones — A Darker Place, Folly — and two series, one about a female cop in San Francisco and one about Holmes after the books end, plus his new partner Mary Russell. They’re quite readable, though the Russell/Holmes ones get bogged down in deciding which of the two is the most brilliant and then does some silly amnesia stuff.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I enjoy the Mary Russell series (in audio form), but I’d hestitate to really recommend it as a mystery despite the publisher calling it “a novel of suspense.” Many times the mystery is barely investiagted and is just the excuse for to get Mary and Holmes in a place seperately or together for some other kindof novel – she’s fond of the travelogue, but my two favorites in the series are #6, Justice Hall (Dowton Abbey-esque soap opera) and #12 The Pirate King (satire).

    35. librarian anonymous*

      I read Dog Mysteries as a genre….I know there are cat mysteries. Fun, fast reads . Bernie and Chet, Anything by Susan Conant.

    36. Meredith*

      I’m also very into true crime (I’m loving Serial) and have not as a rule been fond of mystery fiction. However, I picked up Charles Todd’s Inspector Rutledge series and have been enjoying it. Charles Todd is the nom de plume of a mother/son writing team, the series is set in post WWI England. The main character has PTSD from fighting in the Great War, which provides a very interesting series of plot points. They’ve got short chapters, which helps me break off after lunch. :)

    37. Graciosa*

      Alison, I just wanted to thank you for starting such a terrific topic. I loved reading through the comments on this one.

    38. Elkay*

      If you’re interested in true crime there’s a book called He Kills Coppers which is a fictional account based on a 1966 police murder which is currently back in the UK press.

      If you liked Gone Girl I would thoroughly recommend Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, it’s a fantastic book but never gets any press.

      The Jackson Brodie series of stories by Kate Atkinson is also very good.

    39. Christina*

      This might be way out in left field for what you like (it’s most decidedly not true crime) but I think they’re worth a mention: Jasper Fforde’s novels.

      I tend to like his Nursery Crime series better than Thursday Next, but it’s a really unique take on mysteries with a bonus of fun literary references (they are definitely not kids books). The premise for the Nursery Crime series is a world in which nursery rhyme characters are real and there’s a police division to investigate crimes involving them (the first one I read involved the murder of one of the Three Bears–Jack Spratt is the lead investigator).

      Thursday Next revolves around a world in which people can go into book (The Eyre Affair is the first one about, as you guessed, Jane Eyre–someone is kidnapping characters from novels and Thursday is the detective who investigates).

      If you’re looking for something short and entertaining, the Father Brown stories are really good too, written around the same time as Sherlock Holmes I think.

      And finally, if you’ve read any Sherlock Holmes, I’d also suggest reading Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution–it’s short but really good, and the Holmes connection is very cool (I also just finished Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and absolutely loved it)

    40. Formica Dinette*

      Oh, I’m loving Serial! Mystery books are also not really my thing, but I can recommend Donna Tartt’s The Little Friend. The Secret History is also good but the characters got to be annoying. I haven’t yet read The Goldfinch.

      I hear you on the well-written thing. I’ll probably get flack for this, but so much genre fiction simply isn’t well-written. A lot of that has much more to do with the state of the publishing industry than the capabilities of the authors. My friend, Kat Richardson, has a series of paranormal mysteries called Greywalker that I’ve found engrossing and well-written. However, many people who are into mysteries don’t like the paranormal aspect.

  6. Stephanie*

    I’n heading to Key West this week on a family vacation. Any suggestions for things to do? The Hemingway House (and the six-toed cats) are on my list.

    We’re flying into Miami and will have some time before the return flight (flight out is in the evening). Suggestions on things to do in Miami for the day?

    1. acmx*

      KW: Southern Most Point, Mallory Square, the Hooters’ drag queens (I’m sure there are others, those are the ones I recall).
      Islamorada: Rum Runners bar
      Miami: not a lot close to the airport, there’s 94th Aero Squadron restaurant, you can listen to the tower (ATC); you could drive down Collins Ave/A1A to watch the other tourists lol , Mango’s tropical cafe. It’s expensive to park/valet (probably $20) though. Coconut Grove is a nice area, Brickell. Miami has a lot of ‘valet parking’, FYI.

      1. Cupcake*

        The last time we were there, my husband and son took a 4 hour fishing expedition together (while I enjoyed a book by the hotel pool). The best part was the restaurant near the boat dock, that cooked the fish my son caught and served it with sides for a very reasonable price. What a treat for my son, to be able to share his catch with mom and dad.

    2. Mints*

      Oh man, foodwise, fritangas! It translates to like “fried food stand” maybe. So plan on salad for dinner, because it’s heavy. Cuban food is pretty similar to Nicaraguan food. Specifically, I suggest carne asada, gallo pinto (rice & beans), platano frito (fried plantain), queso frito (fried cheese).
      Even if you skip the food, try cacao, a chocolate drink I can’t get anywhere and always drink like gallons when I can.

        1. Mints*

          I think that varies regionally. (Not being argumentative, but I think I remember your Spanish being more South American?) For me, where I’m from regionally, we say “banano” for banana and “plátano” for plantain. But you’re right that it’s more common that “plátano” is banana and “plátano maduro” is plantain.

          1. the gold digger*

            No, I think we are on the same page. But there are maduros and tostadas, which are both variations of platanos fritos, correct? I am thinking of the sweet (ripe) fried plantains like you get at Pollo Loco and then of the green fried plantains that you dip in garlic sauce. Unfortunately, I live far, far away from Cuban food now, so perhaps I do not remember the terminology properly.

    3. TL*

      When I went, we did an adventure boat kinda thing that was really cool if you like being out in the water (this was during the summer though, so maybe not the same in the winter). I wish we’d had more time to walk around town, honestly, and hit up a salsa joint (I was, alas, not with salsa dancers). Go diving or snorkeling if you can – it’s amazing.

      If you want to stop at the weirdest of weird places, on the way down or up to Miami, there’s this Coral Castle in Homestead, Fl, that’s completely worth checking out. The story is great, the place is amusing, and it’s all outdoors, so it’s a nice bit of walking around. (It took us maybe an hour to see the whole thing and it was relatively cheap.)

      1. The IT Manager*

        Yes. Totally worth it. Key west is lovely.

        In Miami my family and I did city tour 3x (3 different tours strung together from same company) – bus ride to Everglades and airboat ride in the Everglades, bus tour of Miami neighborhoods, and boat tour of Miami bay.

    4. FloridaNative*

      Shut your eyes tight and pretend you’re NOT in Miami.
      Key West is awesome, though, so enjoy that!

    5. Lamington*

      Zachary Taylor state park to go to the beach. careful is rocky! and see the fort. there are also loggerhead turtles.

  7. Scotto*

    Exciting weekend! Volunteering for some friends of mine who are running for office. Hopefully they’ll win in next Tuesday’s election!

    Maybe I’ll run for office too someday…

    1. the gold digger*

      Scotto, before you run for office, talk to me so I can tell you what it’s really like. :) As in, I am surprised any relationship survives one partner running for office. My husband is on his second campaign in two years. Oy.

  8. Gene*


    Best, the office kitty came back after being MIA for a month! We’ve put a box in the office and he seems really happy being inside.

    Worst, nothing, the office kitty came back and made my week!!!

    1. CoffeeLover*

      Best: Got a new part-time job at a place that’s not ridiculous like my now ex-employer.

      Worst: Went to an offer party for my new full-time job (starting next year). There was loud music, an open bar and a shot ice sculpture. Needless to say I got drunk. I wasn’t embarrassingly drunk (just kind of happy drunk) and I definitely wasn’t the drunkest there by far. Still though, it’s not a good idea and not something I want to repeat. Happily though, it was mostly new people and no really senior “important” people. I read some stories of people that have done much worse will intoxicated at work and made myself feel better :P.

      Also sorry…. both mine have to do with work related things.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      Best: My nephew and his girlfriend finally got married on Sunday. It was a small ceremony, held at my mom’s house. His 2 teenage daughters performed the ceremony. It was lovely. He’s had a hard year. His dad (my brother) died in January, and then he had all kinds of trouble with one of his sons. So this was a very happy occasion.

      Worst: I was in Long Beach all week for work and my flight home last night was delayed. Didn’t get home until midnight. Ugh.

    3. Jen RO*

      Best: I got a new computer! In time to play the new WoW patch and expansion! As an added bonus, because my boyfriend (the Master of the Network) got a new computer too and managed to lock himself out of the router (which was filtered by MAC address), he had to reset the router to factory settings… lo and behold, my VPN now works! Obviously, I’d been telling him for 6 months that the router is somehow blocking my VPN connection, and he’d be saying that it’s impossible… I was right, hah!

      Worst: Due to poor planning (partly my fault) and coworker being an idiot (nothing I can do about it, he leaves in two months and he’s in another country), someone on my team worked until 1 a.m. to finish a document. In my department that is unheard of and I will make sure it never ever happens again. I’m still feeling guilty.

      1. Bea W*

        Yay! I took a break from WoW over the summer. My guild is setting up for the expansion. We’ve decided to transfer to a less dead server while Blizzard is having a transfer sale.

    4. Liane*

      BEST: Our son the Freshman came home from college for a visit! He went to football game at high school & saw his old pals & teachers & met a couple of Sister’s new friends. Saturday, we helped at church craft fair, got him his Harry Potter Halloween costume for the Wesley Foundation (Methodist Student Center) Halloween party, ordered pizza for dinner. TV-wise, Dad & I got him caught up on Star Wars Rebels Friday night & Dad & Sister got him caught up–as much as possible–on Dr. Who. Today, he introduces us to Arrow &/or Flash.
      WORST: (Tie) Had–another!–tire replaced yesterday morning; at least it didn’t go out while en route to University. Nothing between here & there, just roads & fields.
      Son has to go back to school. Hoping we can work it so he stays over 1 more night.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Best: after a lot of troubleshooting, I traced the turn signal issue to the bulb socket, and wiping the contacts with isopropyl alcohol fixed it temporarily. (The car is 11 years old, and I’m not sure I’d be able to get a replacement bulb socket. More importantly, I solved a puzzle!

      Worst: I suppose I’m still anxious over managing my first project. I’ve got support, and I think the work is pretty manageable, but I’m still feeling like I’m planning a party without knowing the number of guests, the venue, or what is being celebrated, you know? I keep thinking, what am I missing? Shouldn’t I be doing more? My Gravatar is particularly appropriate here. :D

      1. Cupcake*

        The internet is a wonderful tool for identifying fixes for older (or even newer cars). The dealership wanted $600 to replace the motherboard on my son’s car (Hyundai Tiberon) when he had turn signal issues. I found a fix online that required a $6 relay switch and some quality time with the soldering iron. Still works two years later.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Nice! The Intarwebz don’t seem to have this part anywhere, but I’m heartened by my ability to trace it and get it temporarily working. Now that I know where the problem lies, I plan to attack the bulb socket contacts with either a cotton swab and isopropyl or some very fine sandpaper.

          1. Gene*

            Get two things from the auto parts store, Electrical contact cleaner spray and dielectric grease. Clean the heck out of the contacts with the cleaner and either fine sandpaper or green Scotchbrite pad; clean again with just the spray, then liberally coat the bulb base with the grease before putting it in the socket. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “This greasy stuff was all over my bulb when I replaced it, so I cleaned it.” The grease keeps the moisture out and helps prevent corrosion.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Thanks Gene. I just “scrubbed” the contacts as best I could with the cotton swab, and it’s working again now, but those sound like good things to have in my tool kit, I’ll make sure to pick some up soon whether or not the turn signal goes out again.

        2. Artemesia*

          Isn’t the internet great. I sideswiped my garage a few years ago laying down a long stripe of plaster and paint on the car; I looked at it and thought $800 minimum. WEnt on line with ‘sideswiped garage how to get the paint off’ and found detailed instructions for the use of something called ‘Claybar’. I got a $15 kit at the auto supply and spent 3 hours of elbow grease and the car looked absolutely untouched.

      2. Noah*

        I finally got a new car last year, but I kept my 2004 Jeep for over 10 years. Towards the end it involved getting a few parts from salvage yards. At one point I even put leather seats from a salvage yard in. It was $200 for both front seats and the rear bench. Took an afternoon to figure out how to unbolt everything and fish a wire for the leather power seats that replaced the manual cloth ones.

    6. Sheep*

      Best: A friend brought me goodies from the home country, I’m so happy!

      Worst: I nearly blew myself and the house up with the gas oven. :( I now have burns on my legs and hands, and I’m hairless on my arms.

      1. Bea W*

        That’s really scary! I’m glad you were no more seriously injured and in the hospital or worse. That could have ended in a really bad way.

        1. Sheep*

          Yes, so glad it didn’t end worse. It was freaky! For a split second I thought ‘this is it, now I’m dying’. Not a very nice thought to have. I’m not boycotting our oven.

      2. Noah*

        That is scary! I singed my eyelashes once lighting a gas grill. It was the strangest feeling ever having crunchy eyelashes and then they all fell off and it took awhile for them to grow back.

    7. Bea W*

      Best – I got my Stitch Fix which I wrote about in a separate post.

      Worst – It’s really a toss up between the red line and the d-bag commuter rail conductor who, when I was a foot from the door said “Sorry, gotta move!” (Well, FU to buddy!) after the running down there because the guy up front didn’t indicate they were moving yet and I called out at him that I was boarding , and a bunch of work stuff which I won’t go into because this is not the work thread. So I guess the T gets the prize this week. It was even worse than the weather. As a result of being screwed a second time with running for the commuter rail, I’m just not running after the T ever, period. I physically can’t run fast to begin with (and have been poked fun at or prodded annoyingly to hurry up on occasion by commuter rail staff!), and nothing is so important to put myself at serious risk like that. I suspect their idiocy extends to their ability to work the AED.

      Seriously dudes, just shout out to people breaking out into a run at the start of the platform that you’re departing and save them the trouble and humiliation. I’m only pissed off because I ran for nothing and as someone with a funky heart that’s not something I choose to do lightly, not because they left on time. Rather than just turning around and finding an alternate way home, I end up sitting in the station recovering and waiting the hour for the next train. I’m just done with that. Done. I certainly don’t expect anyone to wait on my late butt even on account of their own delays, but I do expect them not to be jerks about not waiting. Hey, you see people running, give em a shout out before they get there instead of waiting until they get there and them saying “sorry!” and pulling away. That’s just nasty.

      1. Bea W*

        To add to that – It’s not cook to make joking remarks to people who are trying their best to hurry because they think you’re about to leave. You have no idea why that person isn’t making olympic time, and they are already stressed out about trying to catch the train. If you can’t toss out a quick reassurance that they’ll make it, just keep your mouth shut.

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        That sucks. I can see why you’d run if the next train doesn’t show up for another hour. I’ve stopped running for buses because it’s just not worth it to me to get up to the door only to have them pull away.

        1. Bea W*

          I swear they train them this way in bus driver school.

          I stopped running *as much* for the commuter train after a horrible incident where I made it but was close to puking and nearly passed out, I found I had read the wrong line on the board and wasn’t even on the right train. (I also scared the crap out of myself and ended up checking in with my MD the next day in case he needed to tweak something!) I stopped rushing the length of the connection after getting on the wrong train and reserved light running for only those times I’d get out to the boarding area and see the train still sitting there with the doors open and the crew still watching the platform for passengers, because an hour is a long time to wait.

          When I’ve been so delayed I know there is no chance of catching the commuter train or see that it has already left (because there is an app for that!), I’ll take my sweet time walking up from the subway and then sit and have dinner at the station, my rational being I’d be spending that time on dinner at home anyway, so it all evens out in the end. Plus I hate cooking, so it’s not disappointment to me to grab something from the food court every once in a while. When the weather is nice I can get back on the subway and then walk a mile home. It really only upsets me when I end up doing the Sprint of Futility. Thus, the best solution seems to be to stop doing the Spring of Futility entirely, and just go straight for the food. :)

          I’m actually lucky with an hour between trains. Other lines have 90 min or 2 hour gap.

          1. CoffeeLover*

            Generally the transit people are nice in my city. This one time though, I was a couple minutes early. The last stretch of the way to the bus, the bus driver can clearly see me. So the the bus arrives and the driver sees me, he pulls over and I jog the last few meters. This guy gives me the most condescending “you’re welcome” I’ve ever had the pleasure of receiving. I cheerfully mumbled “oh, thank you!” and he kind of shook his head in a disgruntled fashion. A) you’re early and you should wait if you’re early, b) it’s human decency to wait a couple of seconds for someone you see is hustling to make it, and c) Miss Manners says its rude to correct people’s manners. Although now that I hear your story, b) doesn’t seem apparent to everyone. I guess I should be more happy he actually stopped for me (but they always do that so maybe I’m spoiled). Basically, ya I feel your pain.

            1. Bea W*

              In contrast, I was on the train home one night, and we started moving from the stop and one guy realized to late he should have gotten off. The conductor radioed the engineer to stop. These are large diesel engine trains. They don’t stop on a dime.The train stopped, and conductor brought the guy to the very back of the train and made sure he was able to get onto the platform safely. I think the door was barely right at the end. I’ve seen a couple bus drivers get out of their seats to help the little old lady or the mother with a stroller and a couple of kids.

              Overall, there are more good or neutral than bad, but when they are bad, it’s just really painful.

    8. Liz in a Library*

      Best: I had to blow off friends for dinner on Thursday, because I woke up with a completely gross head cold. That is obviously not the best, but then she drove over to bring me surprise homemade chicken soup and still-warm bread for dinner.

      Worst: We have a family function today at which I’m fairly sure my brother-in-law is going to cause major public drama…

    9. Natalie*

      Best: man, a bunch of things. Probably best-best was seeing Tig Notaro with my stepmom. The opener was meh, but Tig was great.

      Worst: seasonal depression can suck it.

      1. Artemesia*

        Tig is in that movie someone recommended yesterday ‘In a World’ — good movie and while she had a bit part it was a noticeable one — I had never heard of her before.

      1. Noah*

        I feel you there! I have a younger sister who is 16 years younger than I am. She turned 14 a few weeks ago and started taking flying lessons. Although normal in my family to start that at 14, I’m terrified for her flight instructor.

    10. Sunflower*

      Best- I said no to a friends birthday I really didn’t have the money to go to and it felt amazing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve felt obligated to go to these things and then panic for a week about how I’m going to stay on my budget. Felt so good to know i could do it!

      Worst- my phone was stolen while i was traveling for business, with no car, and Verizon is a NIGHTMARE to deal with. Was told 3 DIFFERENT times I had to order the insurance phone by to get it the next day. I had to get the iPhone 5s because even though i have an upgrade, there are no 6’s in store. I’m still on the family plan and my mom was so frustrated when we tried to return it 2 days later that we decided to keep the phone and she will take it in a year and I’ll use her upgrade them to get a new one. I have to admit, I had a 4s and I do like the iphone 5s and was struggling between that and the 6. but still UGH I HATE VERIZON!!!!!

    11. Sascha*

      Best: had a sonogram this week and found out we’re having a girl! And she has all her limbs and features. :) Sonograms are so cool.

      Worst: Sinus infection while pregnant. Very limited on medications so my only options are water, water, rest, water, and more water.

        1. Sascha*

          Thank you! I feel like the worst is over but that usually means I have about a week of clearing everything out, so I sound worse than I feel.

      1. Stacy*

        Oh man, I’m prone to sinus infections & am very limited on medications too. I’ve found that the Zicam nasal gel actually works wonders for me with my sinuses, especially if I throw a bunch of vitamin D and probiotics at it too. I’m not sure if it’s an option or not while you are pregnant, but thought I’d throw that out there. The intense or extreme versions seem to be the most helpful. Plus tons of water and rest, like you say. Feel better soon!

    12. ThursdaysGeek*

      Best: I’m on the Oregon coast and we’ve just had a most wonderful storm. Yesterday, the surf was flowing north because of the wind, and it was periodically pouring down rain. We were in a warm house right on the beach.

      Worst: our granddaughter toddler who is with us isn’t feeling so well, so she’s whiny and clingy. And she can’t go play on the beach because it is so cold and rainy. Maybe today after church it won’t be raining.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        The sun came out, and she got to play in the surf: barefoot and in a coat. So it was all best, no worst.

    13. Noah*

      Best – Finally got some closure after six job interviews and several months of recruiting process at a company I really wanted to work for. They offered me the job Tuesday morning. After thinking about it for two days I declined the offer Thursday. On paper everything seemed perfect, but no matter how many pro/con lists I made or how perfect it seemed I just had a gut feeling that I shouldn’t accept. I’ve had this awesome calm, peaceful feeling since telling them “thanks, but I cannot accept” and even better I was offered a raise at my current employer on Friday that matched what I would make if I moved to the new job.

      Worst – Ok, this one is a bit dumb but the guy that has cut my hair for 2 years now just moved to a new salon. Bad part is that is in a suburb way on the other side of town. I’m happy he can work closer to home and be in the same salon with his wife, but not sure I want to make the trek over there every other week just for a haircut.

    14. Cath in Canada*

      Worst: 1) PMP prep course week SUCKED. So much information to cram in such a short time, but it’s just so dry; hours of homework every night, so I had to skip a couple of fun social events; my brain was racing every night with all the new information, so I didn’t get much sleep; and the final 200 question exam was full of dozens of questions on things the instructor had told us we didn’t need to learn, as well as all the ambiguously worded and trick questions on other subjects that we’ve all come to hate. I’ve never in my whole life left an exam feeling that pessimistic about how I did (I find out tomorrow or Tuesday). And I have to spend the next few weeks, including a vacation week, doing MORE studying before I can take the actual PMP exam.

      2) Trusty 10 year old TV finally gave up the ghost

      Best: 1) PMP prep course week is over. And everyone I talked to – my two colleagues who also did the course, plus the others who came to the pub with us afterwards – also thought the exam sucked and that they’d done terribly. They were really nice people, and we all exchanged contact info, so that’s something positive that came out of the whole ordeal.

      2) Hubby and his friend are picking up and installing a new 50 inch high-def TV this afternoon. Our old one was small and definitely not high-def. Hoping to have everything set up in time for the Canucks game – we’ll PVR Walking Dead and watch that afterwards. The friend who’s helping with the installation and his girlfriend are coming over to watch.

    15. Windchime*

      Best — I went yarn shopping with a close friend yesterday and we bought all sorts of lovely yarns that I can’t wait to start working with.

      Worst — A horrible, horrible school shooting just a few miles up the road. The community is still reeling and the long-term effects will linger a long time, probably forever, in the small town where it happened. (Several co-workers children attend that school and are all, thankfully, safe).

    16. littlemoose*

      Best: got selected to teach at a national training program in my organization, after a prior opportunity fell through. Hopefully this one will stick. I’m looking forward to being a trainer, and hope it will raise my profile a little in this very large organization.

      Worst: boyfriend got sloppy drunk at a party last night and I had to be the bad guy who made us go home. That wasn’t fun.

    17. Kyrielle*

      Best – my new iPhone 6 Plus got here, a month earlier than the estimate.

      Worst – I have acquired a really hideous head cold. :(

    18. Stacy*

      Best: Let’s see, had a few good moments this week, but probably the best one was finally being able to slowly get started on my divorce after a really, really terrible couple of months. Also, a couple of possibilities are on the horizon that would move things in a very much needed positive direction financially. So: fingers crossed all of that works out!

      Worst: Starting on my divorce. And being the one left literally sorting through the pieces of our life that my wife left in a total state of disarray simply because she didn’t deem me worthy enough of behaving like a decent human being, while she pretty much gets to do whatever the hell she wants right now & I’m struggling to figure out how to keep a roof over my head. (I seem to have reached the bitter & angry phase, which isn’t a fun place to be. It can be rather productive though, so at least there’s that.)

      This too shall pass.

      1. Liane*

        I know it is a little late for this thread, but I hope things get better soon. I well recall my parents divorce when I was a kid & the messes my dad had to clean up.

    19. Pennalynn Lott*

      Best: I started my first back-to-college class on Monday. I’m tired of sales and will be getting an accounting degree (something I wish I’d done the first time around). I love being in school again! (After 25 years).

      Worst: A 21-year old neighbor threatened me on and I had to call the police. She posted a multi-level marketing scam (“Text me now! Make $500 in 5 mins!”), which is against the Nextdoor rules, and I flagged her post for – ya know – being against the rules. She responded with a dozen posts’ worth of cuss words, insults, vitriol, bile, bad grammar and text speak. . . and then said, “Thank goodness I know where you live.” So I now have an open case filed with the police. They went and talked to her parents (they claimed she wasn’t home) and for now she hasn’t posted anything else. Good grief, little girl, just go post your scam on Craigslist like everybody else! This isn’t anonymous reddit, this is a *neighborhood* app. We all know where we each live!

    20. Mister Pickle*

      Best: My son and my daughter were home for dinner on Saturday night! They’re both off at college, but they made it back on Saturday. It was nice. Our dog was quite happy, too – he really misses the kids.

      Worst: The kids left, so it’s back to the Empty Nest, plus my son took his Les Paul and my best amplifier with him back down to school. The guitar I can live without – but I need another amp of some kind. Honestly, my “worst” barely qualifies as even being any kind of ‘bad’.

    21. Mimmy*

      Best: Just had an AMAZING trip to Scotsdale, AZ, at a place called The Phoenician to celebration my mom’s 70th birthday. It’s a spa/hotel, and it is absolutely gorgeous. The trip was just the ladies of my family–myself, my two sisters, one SIL, and our mom. We all (except the SIL) went on an ATV trail ride through the desert. Again, absolutely amazing.

      Worst: A couple of minor arguments with my sister.

    22. Mephyle*

      Best and worst: spent a lovely weekend with friends of my husband’s.
      But the lady of the house had a cold, and this is a culture where it is better to give a big in-sniff and honk it back into your nose than to be always blowing into a tissue. So, every few minutes.
      Also: discovered fleas, lots of, on the lesser dog just an hour before we had to leave. So the last hour that should have been spent finishing the packing was instead spent frantically shampooing the dog and other flea control measures.

  9. Holly*

    I’m going in on Wednesday to get an in-person consultation for my first tattoo (a memorial piece for my Dad.) Anyone on here have a back shoulder tattoo? Do you have any tips for aftercare, healing-while-needing-a-bra, or anything I should know in general? I know my artist will be able to answer some of these things but I’m curious about individual experiences too.

      1. littlemoose*

        You can get little hook things to convert traditional bras to racerbacks (I think Amazon sells them). That might be a cheap way to do it if you don’t have any racerbacks at present.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      No personal experience unfortunately, but my boss got a back tattoo and told me having to have it covered up while at work was uncomfortable. I can’t imagine you’d be able to wear a bra over it, so maybe be prepared with a strapless one or just don’t wear the strap on that side.

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Definitely don’t wear a strap on that side. If you have someone (partner, flatmate etc) who can help you with the aftercare, enlist them — it’s a hard spot to see and ensure you’re reaching all the spots.

      In terms of actual tattooing, take a bottle of water and/or snacks if it’s a long-ish appointment. And a book. You’ll be basically unable to move for long periods of time.

    3. BritCred*

      Don’t take pain meds before getting it done. Or have drunk lots of alcohol the night before. Both make you bleed more.
      My tattoo artist uses baby cream Bepanthan for after care but warns against Sudocream because it can wash out the color as it works differently.
      Find a comfortable seating position and stay still since its a back piece and if you do get antsy/uncomfortable let the artist know before moving! Sounds silly but its actually weird how unaware we are about how much we move without meaning to.
      For the first few days be prepared to build a bit of a ‘fort’ around you so you don’t roll over and sleep on it – for ink bleeding reasons and acheyness!

    4. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Have it done on a Friday or Saturday when you don’t necessarily need to wear a bra for a day or two. If you do have to wear a bra, wear a sports bra. My tattoo artist only recommends using Lubriderm fragrance free lotion while it heals. Keep a small bottle with you at work and put it on every few hours to help with the sting. Pain level & length of healing time will depend on your pain threshold & the size of the art. Mine are small and healed quickly, so I didn’t have a lot of discomfort. The more muscle tissue (as opposed to bone or fat) there is where they’re tattooing the less pain there is I’ve found (YMMV).

      Good luck – I hope the art turns out beautiful!

    5. CollegeAdmin*

      I have a tattoo on my ribs and a small one between my shoulders. Recommendations:

      1. Have a distraction in case you need it. I had a friend with me both times to talk to; I also chatted with the tattoo artist.

      2. Make sure you eat something beforehand, and maybe right after, so you aren’t lightheaded.

      3. Do not feel bad about being picky! When I got the one on my back, the artist placed and replaced the stencil for me five times until it was precisely where I wanted it. It’s your body – it should be how you want it.

      4. Pain levels vary. If you start to feel dizzy, nauseous, or just hurting too much, tell your artist right away and ask for a break.

      5. Think about what might touch your back soon after (e.g., the back of the seat in the car, a strap from a purse/backpack) and plan around that. I was a dummy and tried to hold a water bottle between my arm and my ribs right after walking out of the shop – not the best idea.

      6. My artist recommended washing the tattoo once or twice a day with simple Dove bar soap and then using lotion with cocoa butter or shea. Mine both healed well doing this.

      7. It will itch as it heals. Don’t scratch it!

      8. If you have questions during the healing process, call the artist. He or she is trained in this and should be ready/willing to answer any queries.

      Good luck, and enjoy the new art!!

      1. Mints*

        RE distractions, bring a couple different options. I thought I’d be okay to read; I wasn’t. I ended up listening to an audio book of a book I’ve read before, so I could listen when I could focus, but didn’t mind tuning out when I couldn’t. Bringing a friend is good too, but my said friend ended up watching Netflix during my audio book time.

    6. Jubilance*

      I have tattoos on both shoulderblades and they were my first 2 pieces. Here are my tips:
      * Your shoulderblade isn’t a very fleshy area, so you’ll “feel” the tattooing more than you would on like your thigh. Everyone reacts to the feeling of getting a tattoo differently, some people don’t mind it while others find it very painful.
      * If you’re concerned about pain, take 2-4 Advil about an hour before the tattooing appointment.
      * When they get started with the tattooing, to me it feels like a bunch of tiny pinpricks – individually they aren’t painful, but they start to build up. Just when it gets really painful, they have to stop to wipe, get more ink, etc. So you’l have a moment to breath.
      * The tattooist will start with doing the outlines, and then moving to coloring in. I find the coloring in to be more painful than the outline, because essentially the tattooist is “scribbling” in your skin.
      * Do you meditate? I found the best way to manage the pain is to take deep slow breaths, and I kept repeating to myself “It doesn’t hurt. I feel no pain. I’m ok” and it helped me relax my body. Staying relaxed is important – being tense will make it hurt more.

      Once your tattoo is done, they will cover your tattoo and give you aftercare instructions. I’ve also got a routine that has worked for my 3 tattoos, feel free to use/modify as you like:
      * Keep your tattoo covered for the first 1-2 hours.
      * After that time, remove the bandage. Grab a washcloth and wet it with the hottest water you can stand. Wring it out and then place it on your tattoo (or have someone do it for you). THIS WILL HURT REALLY BAD, YOU WILL CURSE AND DANCE AROUND. Hold the cloth on your tattoo until it starts to cool down. Repeat this 2 more times and yes it will hurt just as much but it’s for a good reason. The hot water will draw out the blood and cause your tattoo to scab over early, so it will heal faster. After the 3rd time, you’re done.
      * I don’t recommend sleeping on your tattoo, sleep on your tummy or side for the evening.
      * Starting the next morning, you should have a nice scab on your tattoo. Twice a day, moisturize it with a thin layer of Aquaphor healing ointment. When you get in the shower, cover your tattoo generously with some Vaseline so that your scab doesn’t get wet.
      * DO NOT KEEP A BANDAGE ON YOUR TATTOO PAST THE FIRST DAY. Keeping it covered will actually harm your tattoo and cause you to lose color. Once it’s scabbed over, you don’t need to keep it covered.
      * Do the twice a day ointment until the scab is gone and completely healed.

      I hope that helps!

      1. Holly*

        Do you have any thoughts on the best way to apply the lotion/ointment/etc. when a person lives alone and it’s a bit of a hard spot to reach? (I just tried, I can get the top of the shoulder blade but not the bottom.)

        1. LCL*

          Long bath brush. Put the lotion on the back of the brush (the plastic, not the bristles) and apply. Just wear a baggy shirt and go without a bra for a couple days.
          Whatever lotion you choose, use a new bottle. I have had the fastest healing with AD ointment, but it stinks and will stain your clothes. Other lotions worked fine.

    7. Jubilance*

      I also forgot – washing is important! Wash with something simple like a regular Dial bar of soap. You can also use the Lubriderm fragrance free lotion, or really anything, BUT IT CAN’T HAVE ALOE IN IT.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        I second this (although I think I used Aveeno brand). No aloe, and fragrance-free and dye-free are important, because they can irritate the heck out of your already irritated skin.

    8. Liz in a Library*

      Try to not wear clothing on it as much as possible the first few days, and wear loose fitting stuff. When I did mine, I stripped down to a backless top as soon as I got home from work, and it healed fine. You will probably need help applying the cream to it.

    9. tramp stamp*

      Consider covering it with a telfa bandage while at work, etc. Your artist will probably tell you to leave it uncovered, but I couldn’t handle my belt rubbing against mine, and the telfa won’t stick to the healing tissue.

    10. Lore*

      I went in thinking I wanted my tattoo on the back of my shoulder but wound up getting it on the front after the artist asked if I was okay with a tattoo other people could see but I could not. The healing was easier there too–not to change your plan, but I hadn’t considered the sight line issue so just in case…

      1. brightstar*

        I have a tattoo on the back of one shoulder and sometimes forget it’s there until I see it in the mirror. I actually like that, “OH HEY I FORGOT ABOUT YOU!”

    11. Cath in Canada*

      Lots of good advice on here already, but I’ll just add that the back of your shoulder is basically the hardest point on your body to reach for washing and moisturizing purposes. If you have someone who can help you, use them! My husband helped me when he was around, but I almost pulled a muscle trying to rub lotion into it every morning (he leaves before I wake up).

      Mine wasn’t that sore afterwards – I could wear a sports bra no problem after a couple of days. I agree with trying to schedule the appointment for a Friday afternoon so you can have a weekend wearing whatever you need to while it heals.

      Follow all your artist’s after-care instructions, and stay out of the sun for at least a month afterwards if you can. I went to Cuba three weeks after I had mine, and even though I was super paranoid and didn’t get burned at all, the sun hurt the tattoo area much more than usual.

      I found that the actual appointment hurt a lot less than I’d expected. The outlining was absolutely fine, and only the colouring in of the outer line of the design caused any real pain. My tattoo is quite big, but just one colour, which helped I think (photos of the process and the finished item at

      Have fun!

    12. Anonsie*

      I also have a back/shoulder tattoo for my dad. I wore racerback bras and the healing wasn’t a big deal at all. Be prepared to not want to use your arm later that day though, you get sore in odd places.

  10. Moving Someday*

    Reschedule or stop well before Key West! It’s the tail end of Fantasy Fest (aka “Adult Spring Break” aka the hard partying nudist or kink or swinger convention- no idea which, and I’ve been scarred by enough body paint pics that I refuse to investigate more!) and Meeting of the Minds (the parrothead convention) starts on the 29th, but people are already heading down. It will be jam packed with parrotheads- which is probably a great time if you like them or are one (I am, but I’ve realized a good portion of them are people I want nothing to do with, so it would take being *paid* to get me down there), but will just be packed with drunk people if you’re not.

    1. Stephanie*

      I think I find the Parrotheads more terrifying than the nudists.

      Well, hotel’s already been booked, so at least I’ll have a story?

      1. TL*

        We went bar-hopping in Key West and definitely saw a few drag queens with, er, negotiable affections at the last bar we stopped at. But nobody bothered us – it all seemed to be live-and-let-live.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      Yeah, nudists aren’t a problem for me. The first time I ever went to a nude beach, it was remarkable how un-remarkable it was. I really expected that I’d have this constant feeling of “OMG NAKED PEOPLE EVERYWHERE” but it was absolutely nothing like that. Some nudist groups refer to themselves as “naturalists”, and I can understand that choice of wording. After about 2 seconds, it just seems natural.

  11. Weasel007*

    I wrote in several weeks ago about all the telecommuting employees at my bank losing their telecommuting right. It did happen. I have to be in the office full time by eoq 1st quarter 2015. My comment here today isn’t work related but is slightly related: I’m totally dreading telling my renter I have to break his lease. In fairness, I did tell him that this could happen (that I might be required to move back into my house and wrote a clause in saying the lease was year to year with options for a 60 day notice on each side). He is getting a deal from me (low rate, low deposit since we are friends and he does take good care of the house. But Since I don’t have the official reloc package in hand I didn’t want to tell him before Christmas so he could enjoy it with his kids, plus if he decides to leave early, that will hurt not to have income until I move in.

    Unfortunately the plan was foiled when I got a call from the local animal shelter getting approval to adopt a dog and he needed landlord approval. Now I am very worried. Rental properties in my city that take pets are hard to come by. I don’t want to have him painted into a corner with another animal (he has 3 cats, 2 were adopted with permission after he moved in). Any suggestions on how I should break the news? I don’t mind him getting the dog as long as he accepts the risks of finding a new home. If he were to find a new home without a dog he’d have to go through this anyway and he has his heart set on one particular dog. Selfishly, I’d like to have him stay until the last month and move out on the 15th so I can get somethings updated for me (i’d put in a nicer stove for myself) and remove some carpeting/paint. Since the dog request came up this week, I need to first get my reloc paperwork started before I gave him a firm date but I don’t want to say no to the dog without discussion. I’d be willing to ok the dog if he commited to say through Feb. Thoughts?

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      I think I’d just lay it all out like you just did here. If I was in his situation I’d just want as much info as possible, and to know that you aren’t trying to screw him over. If he is reasonable he should see that.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Another thought though, I think if he finds a new place that allows dogs, let him go without hassle. Sure it would be nice for you to get more rent, but if my landlord told me I needed to be out, and I found another pet friendly place I would have to take it.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t think you are going to get the best of everything here, no matter how you handle it.
      So, I say telling the truth is the best route to go. Try to work out a plan that gives both of you a piece of the pie. Aim for landing in a spot where he gets things that he wants and you get things you want. Maybe neither one of you gets everything he wants from situation but it’s good enough.

    3. BRR*

      Don’t let him adopt the dog without knowing he’ll have to move. Even rentals that accept animals will have limits on the number of animals or limit by the dog’s weight. I would tell him soon. It might take awhile for him to find a rental depending on what surfaces.

      1. Bea W*

        Yes, tell him upfront what your situation is even if you are not certain about all the details so he can decide if he wants to adopt now or hold off. It’s better he know now rather than get a dog and then have a hard time finding an apartment. As it is, it’s hard to find an apartment that will take 3 cats, never mind 3 cats and a dog. Around here many “pet friendly” apartments will have a 2 animal limit. Some landlords will accept only one animal.

        Aside from the pet issue, he may also want to adjust his holiday plans and spending knowing he’ll need the extra cash to move early next year. At this point, with Nov being a week away, he won’t have a new apt lined up earlier than Dec 1. So he may prefer to put it off until Feb or Mar rather than try to move smack in the middle of the holidays in Dec and Jan.

    4. CTO*

      I think you really need to tell him now that he’ll need to move out in February or sooner. You’re not doing him any favors (like letting him “enjoy” Christmas) by preventing him from finding new housing for his family. I think you’re taking a selfish viewpoint, and whether or not that’s allowed in the lease it’s not the decent thing to do to a friend.

    5. Ludo*

      Thank you for caring. As someone with a large dog I know how hard it can be to find a rental that takes dogs (especially big ones).

    6. soitgoes*

      Please don’t take this the wrong way; I’m just trying to lay it out to you straight. I have friends who’ve been in similar situations, and they all took it upon themselves to find their own temporary rentals until their renters’ leases were up.

      I know the overriding circumstances aren’t your fault, but I’ve never heard of a landlord ending a lease so he or she could move back into the property. It’s always because the landlord found a buyer, and even then the tenant usually gets to finish out the lease (just doesn’t get to renew). I may be jumping the gun here, but make sure the legalities of this are in order. You’re basically trying to avoid the inconvenience and expense of finding your own short-term rental, and IMO ending someone else’s lease isn’t the right way to do that.

      1. Noah*

        This is exactly what I was thinking. Find an apartment or rental house and store some belongings until the lease is up. After a particularly bad experience with a landlord who was just leasing their own home while away, I will only deal with professional landlords now that own multiple properties. The situation you described here would be illegal in my state unless the original lease was already up and you were operating month-to-month.

      2. Bea W*

        That’s different than what I’m used to. I’ve never heard of the people who wanted the unit finding their own temporary place over the landlord breaking the lease. Usually it happens when the property has been sold and the new owner wants the unit for himself or someone else – that’s pretty normal around here for a small multi-family property where the new owner is buying a primary residence and the old owner did not live there. I’ve also known people who had leases broken because the landlord wanted to move a family member into the unit.

        This is a lot of why I don’t find term leases function any different than a month-to-month agreement. State law already requires a minimum notice to renters, and minimum notice is written into any rental agreement. Signing a year lease doesn’t protect a person (here anyhow) from having the lease being broken by the landlord any more than not signing a year lease. I can only speak for my area, other people’s MMV, as I’m reading Noah’s comment that says breaking a lease early is illegal in their state, so people who have term leases are protected. It’s not illegal in my state.

        1. Bea W*

          My personal “favorite” situation was one new owner of a large complex that decided to sell some of the units as condos. Normally in a large complex you’d be pretty safe when ownership changes. The new owners honor the lease terms and make changes when it is time to renew. In this case, dozens (or over a hundred – each building probably had 50 units or more?) of families were given notice and tough luck to them if they didn’t want to or couldn’t afford to buy their units. That was legal, but it was extra dirtbaggy.

        2. soitgoes*

          It might be legal or not (I only suggested she check it out because, since she was just renting out her own home, she might not know all of the nuances of the laws pertaining to landlords and tenants), but since the question was posed in a way that makes me think she’s concerned about being a good person/doing the right thing/not making people mad at her, I don’t think there’s any way to kick out the tenant and justify it as a good, ethical action. Even now, she knows she’s moving back, and she hasn’t told him? This kind of thing sticks in my craw…don’t wring your hands about being a good person when you’re planning on doing something sketchy. If you take the leap of wanting to be a landlord, do it right.

          My friend needed to move back into her parents’ garage attic after having a bad accident, but she was out of luck until the current tenants finished their lease. Her own parents wouldn’t help her out by ending the other people’s lease early. And you know what? She wasn’t mad. Letting the people stay out their lease was the right thing to do. I don’t even care if it’s legal to end the lease. Don’t do it.

          1. Bea W*

            I totally agree. I would even go so far as to offer to the renter if they find a place before the lease is up, there won’t be a penalty. That gives them the option to stay until the end of the lease as planned but also gives them the flexibility to start their search early knowing for certain they will not be able to stay in the apartment once the lease is up.

            There are landlords here who don’t even follow the state law for notice, but most renters don’t want the drama or the legal expense of fighting it. It just seems easier to look for a new place and move, so they don’t push back even when they have the legal right.

            1. Weasel007*

              Writer here. Thanks for you comments. Unfortunately, me finding another place for three months until the year is up is not possible. My reloc is contingent upon moving back into MY home or a home that I buy. My company will not move me or pay for me to move 1.5 hours away (closer to work) that is not my permanent residence. It is just the way it is. Secondly, this rental situation has a lease and was specifically written with a 60 day out for this specific reason. I already warned him about the chance of this happening when he signed the lease (in June). I’ve been negotiating with my work for months trying to not have to do this. I was just told 2 weeks ago that I have to or I will lose my job. My renter did not pay a deposit or a pet fee. He gets the house for 50% market value (houses go for $1800 a month and he pays $900-just enough to pay my mortgage). Legally I can do this I just don’t want to because this up roots him too.

  12. Jen RO*

    (For context, Bucharest’s latitude is comparable to New York’s, I am just a bit further north.)

    It’s October 26th. This is the view out of my window this morning. It’s been snowing since yesterday afternoon. WTF?!

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I’m slight further south and a thousand miles west & had the same weather. Sunny & 70 yesterday & today. Gonna be a great day for yard work.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          I’m in Texas and just checked my outdoor thermometer. At 5:13pm, it is 92F outside right now. I am So. Sick. Of. Summer.

  13. PerfectionAnon*

    I’ve been working on it, but for those out there: how do you deal with being a perfectionist?

    I’m not talking about the force everyone to be perfect type, but more of the stressful I gotta get this piece done not just decent, not just good, but get it done excellently. That any bump or failure makes you mad and more stressed out so you decide that to do better next time means becoming overworked and sick. I really need help in deciding to have things be good enough rather than excellent or perfect.

    1. nep*

      I feel for you.
      Realising that perfect Does. Not. Exist. might help.
      Where do you think this comes from in you? Might help to look at the why…Sometimes such forces dissolve a bit under scrutiny.
      What would be the consequence of letting things be good enough and not dwelling on them? (Aside from more time and energy to move on, enjoy, apply oneself to the next task 110 percent.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The one thing that resonates with me is to tell myself – How am I going to be able to accept other people’s lack of perfection if I cannot accept my own?
      Pretend you are talking to a friend, rather than talking to yourself. If a friend did an adequate but not fantastic job on something what would you say? I sincerely doubt you would point out every thing that was not perfect. Treat yourself the same way. Call it practice for working with others.

    3. ExceptionToTheRule*

      Therapy. Although I actually went to work on some other problems, it helped me realize that working myself into the state you describe was only making things worse and gave me the tools to say “that’s as good as it’s going to be, I’m not killing myself over this” and realize that other people not liking my creative efforts didn’t make me a bad person, it just meant I need to get clearer instructions on what was wanted.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I constantly have to remind myself not to let the “perfect” be the enemy of the “possible”. For me it’s more often an issue of finding it difficult to start a project if I won’t have time to polish it to a blindingly shiny finish, but that’s not quite what you’re describing. Do you have a priority task list or to-do list, and might it be helpful to look at that and remind yourself of all the things that aren’t getting done because of the perfectionism? But don’t be hard on yourself about it, I’m betting that your “not good enough” is better than most peoples’ “done”. You’re evaluating your progress by your own standard of perfection, but try to look at whether the person whom the project is for would have what they need.

      1. not perfect*

        Love your first sentence! I’ve been trying to focus on not letting “perfect” be the enemy of “good,” but I like “possible” so much better!

    5. soitgoes*

      I used to be like that until I got kicked out my first grad program and realized that the world didn’t end, that if failure is the worst thing that can happen, I was gonna be pretty unstoppable.

      Try to identify what the fears are that are driving the perfectionism. Having a good work ethic is great; stressing out over a tiny mistake isn’t good at all. Are you worried you’ll be fired if your work isn’t perfect? Then start looking for a new job.

    6. Anx*

      To be honest, I had to read up on it. I had no idea I could be a perfectionist because I felt like I had two identities, and one of them was so imperfect: the slacker, the lost-her-scholarship girl, the ended-her-job-on-a-low-note girl, the always 30 seconds late girl, the not-pretty girl, etc.

      It turns out that I probably have ADHD pi or a sleep disorder that have contributed to a constant background of anxiety. I knew I wasn’t lazy or careless, but everyone perceived me to be and so I had two reaction: overcompensate like crazy or withdraw and just start slacking. Things were even more confusing because sometimes I can effortlessly produce something nearly perfect but revision is pretty hard for me. I also second guess myself all of the time. In practice, most of the time I just operated as normal, but that drive to withdraw and give up or overcompensate was definitely troublesome and rooted in perfectionism.

      This probably sounds like I’m not taking responsibility for my own actions, but it helped me to recognize the role that others in my life played in getting me to this point. I think everyone meant very well, but getting calls home when you have well over 100 on a midterm (extra credit) because of what you didn’t do makes it seem like nothing is every good enough. And not having my homework done was a big deal, but it was treated as if I just wasn’t trying. I was bored, afraid of making mistakes, anxious, and forgetful, but it was easier to just accept ‘lazy’ and follow that path. Then the guilt from that would come out every once in a while and I’d pull all nighters all of the time to avoid oversleeping, not finishing my hw, not doing the best job I could, etc. Not healthy either. Recognizing that people’s expectations are sometimes poorly informed or unrealistic gave me a lot of freedom in working through perfectionism.

      1. Anx*

        Oh, but of course some of that perfectionism is intrinsic. And I think that perfectionists can actually be really great workers if they are self-aware and have support. When I wasn’t reacting to people’s expectations of me, I genuinely wanted to do the best job I could on everything, and was very ambitious and very excited. Sometimes that could be paralyzing, but it also helps me to recognize that I’m not destined to be horrible at everything I do by recognizing the positive side of it.

    7. Dan*

      Work or home? At work, truly perfect requires a vacuum that you don’t have IOW, projects have budgets and timelines that have to be respected. So perfect means perfect within the constraints that have been established.

      Most closings generally want something quick and cheap. You caring give away the gain if they’re not willing to pay.

    8. Pennalynn Lott*

      At work and at home I finally just had to set a timer and allow only X-amount of time to complete a project, be it a report, a proposal, or just cleaning a room. By having to work toward a deadline, I had to prioritize what parts of the project were more important (i.e., “Is it more important to have all my verb tenses match in a 57-page document or to have all the data be correct?” or “Is it more important to have every nook and cranny of the living room cleaned — using every tool on the vacuum cleaner in the process — or to have all the clutter put away, the carpets vacuumed and things reasonably dusted so I don’t scare company when they come over?”), and then force myself to stop and move on when the timer went off.

      Good luck with this! Perfectionism can be paralyzing if left unchecked.

  14. Carrie in Scotland*

    Nice & fuzzy story.

    I am on a blog type site and have been on it since I was a teen. I interact with this woman, who is about the same age as I am but she has a husband and a 4 year old daughter. Anyway, she has written this year that they are in some financial debt. She was worried that they wouldn’t have any presents for the daughter and would have to confess that santa wasn’t real. :( So a whole bunch of us on the site are clubbing together and sending them a supermarket voucher so they can buy food and presents and then many of us are also doing individual gifts to her/her daughter.

    I am a book person, so have gotten some books together (they like reading), some crafty bits & pieces and some chocolate to send down. I also want to gift them a small veg box a month for 6 months, so am looking into that.

    Anyway, I am just happy that the world has people who do this :)

    1. littlemoose*

      What a wonderful and caring gesture. I’m happy people like this exist on the Internet too!

    2. Stacy*

      That is fantastic, and really makes my day just hearing about it. I’m happy the world has people who do this too!

  15. LifeIsUnfair*

    Just having an indulgent whine……I have to go to University in a city I hate because no one would hire me for even a crappy job to save to move back to the city I used to live in and love. I want to cry because it feels like an unjust punishment: didn’t work for a few months because every single employer thought I was worthless even to be a call center worker, now I have to spend 3 years living in a horrible humid craphole where I don’t know anyone because I can afford to move my stuff there and the rent is slightly lower. I cry every time I think about having to move there and how even in the middle of summer, it’s still 75-80 degrees every day and it’s 6 months of 100+ every summer when I hate the heat. I don’t want to live there and I’m worried forming connections in a city I hate will just mean I get trapped there when I graduate. I can’t believe no one would even hire me to work in a call center when I am smart and capable and now as a result, I have a 3 year death sentence living in hell on earth.

    1. nep*

      You don’t yet know why things have turned out this way for now.
      The way you’re allowing the negative to dominate here, you’re not leaving yourself open to any new, positive things that could come out of this. (And worrying about making connections because you might end up ‘trapped’ — woah…that’s just too much energy spent on projections and unknowns.)
      Are there some elements of this next phase you’re looking forward to in any way? What are you studying?

      1. saro*

        +1 to Nep’s comment

        I’ve definitely been in the mind-set you’ve been in and if you don’t mind my advice, find away to get out of that mind-set. It doesn’t help at all and makes everything worse. Good luck to you friend.

      2. OP*

        I don’t understand why God is punishing me like this when I hate the heat, I hate the city (I have spent time there and swore I’d never live there again) and why I just can’t be where I’d be happy. It’s even worse because since no one would hire me, it’s kinda all my fault.

        1. nep*

          Of course none of us can know because, well, who knows…But I’m pretty damned sure Life or the Universe or God or what have you does not single out individuals to punish.
          ‘…Since no one would hire me, it’s kinda all my fault’. Uh — there are a lot of talented, capable people out there struggling to land a job.
          It’s good that you’re venting — sometimes venting can help. But I really hope you’ll follow Saro’s advice and look to shake off this mindset. It is truly all about one’s mindset and attitude. You can be happy and thriving anywhere — hot, humid, dry, cold, whatever. Stating the obvious here, but it’s never about the external conditions and always ONLY about your perspective and your decision about how you’re going to take things on. Have you seen / experienced examples of that at other times in your life?
          It all comes down to a choice.

          1. OP*

            But if I had of landed a job, I wouldn’t be in this situation. I feel responsible for my own suffering and I don’t know how to forgive myself for it. It feels so out of proportion…a few months out of work = years in a miserable humid hole. I don’t know how to convince myself I like it. I already live aorund here. I know i hate it.

            1. nep*

              I get that — if you’d landed a job things would be different. But it’s not about ‘fault’. A lot of skilled, capable people are seeking work.
              Why is university in this place you hate your only other option, by the way?

              1. OP*

                Residency….I had to live with my parents for a while and they can also drive my stuff there to move, while they can’t really drive it to the other side of the country for me. It would cost a lot more money to move there and get established and I needed a job to save for that so now I’m stuck.

              2. Bea W*

                ^^This. There are some things that are just beyond anyone’s control. You can do everything right, and poop still happens. That’s the nature of the world.

                You don’t have to convince yourself to like where you are going. You can accept that you hate it. That’s okay. There are things we all have to do in our lives we don’t like and even hate. We’re not required to like them or even settle for them long term. We just have to git our teeth and plow through them as best we can so we can move on to something we don’t hate. You can look at it as temporary and take it day by day, month by month, year by year. You can do your time and make plans to look forward to when it’s done.

                If you form connections in a city you hate, it will actually make it more bearable. You may not ever love it, but you will hate it less. You want to form those connections. That is what will get you through it. Since you are a student, some of the connections you form there may move on after graduating anyhow, so you needn’t worry too much about leaving the city someday. The connections you make may be with other people who also hate your city and want to leave it too when they are done. You could end up making plans with those people to leave together to help with expenses and getting established. You never know! A lot can happen in 3 years. It’s not a death sentence at all, especially if getting a degree with boost your chances of getting a job.

    2. Liz*

      Whoa. Sounds like a bunch of other stuff is hitting you all at once. Several things, which I hope will help your perspective. One, job market is tough all around. I sympatheize there. Spent months looking for a job, and telling myself I was more than qualified for many of them. Ok, so university is not where you want it to be. Education is priceless. My mother always said whatever you learn, no one can take away from you. Also, you will hopefully not graduate w/tons of student loan debt then by going where you can afford. Instead of saying you are stuck for 3 years, try to take advantage of the locale. Plan one day trips. Take advantage of the local culture. Also, with all the social media these days, no reason to lose touch with any friends you may make. Use this time to learn how to take care of yourself. Best thing I ever did for myself was move from home 2 weeks shy of my 20th birthday. Didn’t know anyone, or have a place to live, now this is my home.

      1. OP*

        Honestly, the local culture here is just ‘football and redneckery’ and I just want to go back to the lovely, quaint, charming place I used to live where there was a real fall and a real winter and wonderful food options and my friends. I don’t know how I am going to tolerate being here knowing that I’m here instead of there. I don’t understand why no one hired me. I’m intelligent and capable, but no one else believes in me and now I’m getting a punishment that is longer than the crime. And I’m not a thin girl….wearing summer clothes all year around makes me want to cry and never leave the house.

          1. OP*

            I did until for months and months on end, not ONE employer thought I was worth doing anything, not even wiping tables or opening envelopes.

            1. nep*

              Interpreting a ‘no’ to a job application as ‘I’m not worth doing anything’ — I get that it can feel that way, but it’s just not the case.
              Anyway you’ve got to believe in you enough that this process does not kill that belief.
              I hope for your sake, and the sake of people at university who will be working with you, that you’ll find a way to change your perspective and become receptive to positive things that can come along.

            2. BritCred*

              You were one of potential hundreds in a pile of applications. It doesn’t reflect on YOU that you aren’t worth their job. Unless we are talking “we’re hiring” signs all over town and that you are the only potential out of work candidate and you are getting turned away and the sign being left out? Thats not the case.

              To most you will have been one option in a stack of options. Most of which they don’t know anything about and certainly are not writing off as useless. Just because you didn’t stand out enough to make them hire you doesn’t mean you are worthless. It just means that you didn’t get the position with them. They may have had 10 candidates and thrown a dart for which one to interview for all you know.

              1. OP*

                It doesn’t make me feel any better though, I’m still trapped in an awful situation because none of them hired me. I’m now stuck in redneck football land instead of the place I genuinely love.

                1. Ludo*

                  Ok, I’m going to be really honest here. You need to stop. I get it. I lived in Oklahoma against my will for 2 years and I didn’t like it. The climate, the culture, none of it. But I made the best of it, I made some great friends (nevermind that they were also not from that area…) and I learned a great deal about what I value and what I can tolerate.

                  None of that would have happened if I had bemoaned poor me, poor me, poor me. The job market sucks. It has nothing to do with you. But the pity train doesn’t help anything.

                  Also, you aren’t “stuck” anywhere for any length of time. I have felt “stuck” in certain cities and I made choices. Once I bought a train ticket (for under $100) and moved with only what fit in my suitcase. I lived like the Amish for a few months, yes, but it got me to a city I wanted to live in. But if you want to not be “trapped” you have to be willing to give up things if you can’t take them. Heck, when I moved out of Oklahoma, I moved with what fit in my car because I couldn’t afford movers. Did it suck? Yes. It still sucks. But it was worth it.

                  But the negative attitude will keep you from doing anything. It will keep you from making friends at school, from eventually finding work, from enjoying what could be a very great experience.

                2. Stephanie*


                  I get it. I lived in Oklahoma against my will for 2 years and I didn’t like it. The climate, the culture, none of it.

                  But Braum’s! I grew up in North Texas, just outside of Dallas (so similar culture). Yeah, that’s a pretty specific culture which I could imagine being hard to adjust to. It totally seemed normal while I was there, but I realized how peculiar it was once I moved away.

          2. Bea W*

            If you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect other people to believe in you when they are receiving an indirect (or direct) message “OP doesn’t believe in herself.” This is where “fake it ’til you make it” helps. Even if you don’t truly believe in yourself, giving other people the impression that you do makes a difference.

        1. Stephanie*

          Hmm, well the plus to going to a university is that there should be student groups for all kinds of interest, even at Football Mega U. Especially if you’re at some big flagship like Alabama or Georgia, the student body’ll be big enough that there will be others who don’t give a rat ass about football. At the very least, there will be faculty who came to the university to solely work on researching female archetypes in 18th century German literature. They have to go discuss that stuff somewhere, right? You could look out for pockets like that to escape the football culture.

    3. BritCred*

      You are in a rut of “everything sucks”. Reassess and re-balance and find out what is GOOD around you and give that the energy instead of all the hate.

      Its not the path you wanted to take. But if you approach it with this mood of “everyone hates me and everything is crap” then… it will be and you won’t find the good things and enjoy what you can whilst you are on this path.

      1. OP*

        I’ve tried though….and there really is nothing good about it. That’s the problem. It’s not only the path I didn’t want to take, it’s a path that is absolute hell for me. There is nothing to like about that place.

        1. nep*

          The ‘good’ does not come from the external conditions or situation. It can only come from your attitude.
          If you approach this with the conviction that this path is absolute hell for you, it’s bound to be absolute hell for you. That’s how things generally work in this game we call Life.

          1. BritCred*

            Exactly this. I’ve been there where I’m seeing the world through misery-coloured glasses and its only after I’ve forced myself to take them off that I’ve realised there are ways that I CAN find stuff that makes things less hellish. And stuff that has been brilliant that I was missing.

          2. A Teacher*

            I agree with you to some extent, but it all depends on one’s locus of control. To say that only good comes from your attitude is implying you believe in a total internal locus of control–totally your prerogative, but that’s not what OP is posting–she’s an ambivert or someone that believes in blaming both herself and outside forces (fate, luck, chance, God) so she’s not going to totally get your perspective as you’re not totally seeming to get hers. That said OP, are you looking to vent or are you wanting advice?

            If its the latter, how can you fix your circumstances or at least make them more tolerable? Have you revamped your resume and cover letter with the sources on this site? Not everyone in said “city of hell” the way you describe it is awful. Are you going to stay in the cycle or break the cycle? Your attitude + external forces = your destiny the way you seem to view it so change what you can and try to deal with what you can’t.

            1. nep*

              I don’t think it’s that we don’t get one another’s perspective. A couple of us just looking to point out that one has far more control over one’s state than OP seems to assume for herself. It truly all comes down to what you say at the end of your comment — ‘change what you can and try to deal with what you can’t’. I would just omit the word ‘try’.

              1. BritCred*

                I appreciate that its hard to change and refocus. I’m not saying its easy at all. But we all get in a rut sometimes and if you look at the comments others have posted then it shows that trying to reach out of that focus can provide some astonishing game changers that OP would have missed with the blinkers of “I hate this” on.

        2. nep*

          What do you like in life? Do you like anything? Does anything bring you contentment or — dare I say it — joy? I don’t put these questions in a sarcastic way — I’m genuinely interested to know whether there are things in your life you see as positive.

          1. OP*

            My friends…..who all live in that city and snuggling up and reading….which it is too hot to snuggle up here…..and ice hockey…..which is not a thing down here.

            1. nep*

              Friends who live where? In the place you’ll be at university?
              Reading can still be a joy even sans the snuggling up.
              I do hope you’ll be able to shift your focus. BritCred’s comments here are spot on.

            2. Noah*

              I don’t know where exactly you’re moving to, but try looking for things you’re interested in. I can tell you that I grew up in the Southern US (Oklahoma) and although hockey isn’t huge here like football, I played hockey throughout childhood and college. I now coach a kids team and play in an adult league, in Oklahoma, the land of football.

              I get that moving to a new place sucks. I had to live in Las Vegas for a few years for a job and thought I would hate it. However, I was able to make friends and find things I enjoyed doing. It is not a place I would choose to move back to, but if I found myself in circumstances that required me to live there I know I could deal with it and even enjoy it for a time.

        3. Bea W*

          Hate everything about your town and university (or work or wherever external)? Create a haven for yourself at home, wherever that is, your dorm room, your apartment, some quiet corner of the library where people who don’t care about football hang while everyone else is out tailgating.

          I hated where I lived growing up. HATED IT. When faced with having to go back there for 2 weeks on break I had horrible panic attacks and eventually a complete emotional breakdown. This was before internet and when it was not so easy to find support and people who had other things in common with you outside of your hometown. I understand the dread and the feeling that it is a death sentence to go back. That was my motivation to do whatever I had to do while I was there in order to GTFO as soon as I had the chance. That misery is a potent source of fuel for motivation and inspiration to get through the awfulness if you can tap into it.

        4. Andrea*

          Then don’t do it. Do something else. Go crash with your friends until you get a job and can find a room to rent. Or keep job hunting from your folks place and live there and work for the year and go away to college next year. Make sure that your dislike of living there doesn’t come accross in your interviews because that will make things harder for you I think.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I have gone through spells where I felt everything around me was turning to crap. In those spells, I have learned that part of the problem was that I was holding on to something that I had to let go of.
      Here is the tricky part. Usually the thing I had to let go of was the thing I was clinging to the hardest. So it looks like I am going to say to let go of your ideal location and descend into the hellhole you have lined up for yourself, right? Nope. That is not the point here.

      Just my two cents. but I think you need to look at where you are going in life. I am wondering if you feel this education will actually get you something better. What is missing here is that I do not see any indication from you that “yeah, I am doing three years of hell, then it will get better.” You don’t believe you are moving toward something better.

      My mother used to say that most of life is about perception, not reality. Our perceptions influence our decisions and in turn influence the way our life plays out. You have convinced yourself that things will NEVER get better. You need to let go of that. It is simply not true. Don’t wait until you are 40-50 years old to figure out that it is a lie and some things do get better. Don’t feed into the lies inside your head.

      Reality is that we go through sucky spells and we go through good spells. Reality is that most people are not having a joy ride out there. Some aspects of their lives are going great and others aspects of their lives are a train wreck. Very few people are having a totally peachy time of it. Decide that you have hit the lowest point in your life and that you are going to do what it takes to dig out of it and never, ever return. Once you make that decision it will become your new reality.

      1. nep*

        Yes. Most of it is lies — or just our clouded perception…Same thing. Sooner one finds this out the better.
        Again, it is truly one’s decision about how to look at things.

    5. Vancouver Reader*

      You’ve received lots of great advice here; go into your situation with an open minded attitude. Sometimes what starts out looking bleak is a happy circumstance in disguise,

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Fposte this is perfect. I have felt “stuck” in the past and couldn’t find how to resolve the feeling. So I went to CBT for a while and it really helped. My major feeling was “I’m stuck in this city and in this job I hate but I can’t move because of my relationship and my flat”. Well, I quit the job, even though I couldn’t really afford to, took on some temp work and eventually got a full time job.

          I am still in the same city, sans boyfriend but am looking into moving somewhere else next year. I am getting my flat valued in a month.

          This has taken me 2 years to get to this point. It takes time.

        2. Christy*


          Your uni will almost certainly have some sort of counseling center you can use. They will be able to at the very least be a sounding board for how much you hate it.

    6. Seal*

      I am also a Northerner living in “redneck football country” desperate to move back home, but in my case I moved to the Deep South for a job 8 years ago. On my worst days I go through the exact same “why me?” stuff that you’re doing. But in reality, I am well aware that taking this job regardless of its less-than-ideal location was by far the best thing I could have done for myself career-wise. Due to ugly internal politics I never would have had the same opportunities at my old job, despite the fact that I was considered a star employee. I also had the added bonus of hearing that my former place of employment imploded shortly after I left due to the same poor decision-making that forced me out in the first place. Now I am searching for a new job and am intentionally narrowing my search to the Midwest and Northeast; no more ridiculously long hot summers for me! I have no doubt that I will finally be out of this place within a year.

      Since it sounds like you going back to school in a program with a definite end point (you mentioned 3 years – law school?) I would focus on this: you are living in a less-than-ideal location while you pursue your degree and no longer. While you are I school, keep reminding yourself that is is only temporary and that you intend to leave when you are done. While in school, look into jobs or internships related to your degree; you will probably find that you have more opportunities available to you as a student, with the added bonus of gaining experience for your new career. Start investigating career options where you eventually want to live now, and tailor your degree accordingly. Also, start going through your stuff now; the less you have when you graduate, the cheaper it will be to move across country.

      Finally, keep in mind that 3 years is really not that long. It will go by very quickly, especially if you are in school. You may be miserable now, but if you can start focusing on your long-term goals you’ll be amazed at how much better you’ll feel about yourself.

    7. Stephanie*

      Hey, I can empathize. In a similar situation myself. After I lost my job last year, I had to move back into my parents’ in a city I’m lukewarm about where I didn’t know anyone (we also have 5-6 months of summer, but it’s a dry heat).

      First, do you need to go to school? It may not help if your field or market doesn’t value your degree.

      Second, nothing’s keeping you in the city of your school. I will admit, you’re more likely to find work there, but it’s not impossible to work elsewhere. If you start forming good enough connections now, you could eventually tell people “Hey Bob, I’m looking for engineering jobs back in Minneapolis where I used to live. Do you have any leads?” Additionally, professional conferences and groups are great for that. They’ll often have career fairs for companies that recruit and place nationally.

      Third, all you can do is change your perception of the situation. I still wouldn’t say I’m crazy about where I live now, but I’ve found things that I enjoy here. Like I said, if there’s a university there, not everyone will be a football-lovin’ redneck.

    8. Steve G*

      Is that really the only choice of places to go? I mean, if $$$ is an issue, there are lots of cities in the NE that don’t get a lot of credit but that give you the cool weather you want, and are cheap to live in – Cleveland, Pittsburg, Syracuse, Albany…….heck, even Philly is kind of cheap….

    9. Anx*

      I loved the town I went to college in, made a lot of contacts, but I ended up moving back home after graduation, finished my final class, and the market had just crashed. I kept applying, but my morale was definitely lower after the crash and by the time it came back up, there was a batch of fresh grads with the same level of experience but a shinier graduation date. So there’s no guarantee that building contacts in your school town will lead to a job.

      I currently live in a city I don’t like. I was hoping to work here for about 5 years and try to get back home. Unfortunately I’ve been here 3 year and cannot find a full-time job. So I’m worried that just when I start to build a network, I’ll be torn between getting out of here and wanting to take advantage of the connections I’m building.

      My partner and I are miserable in this city, but the rent is low enough that we can afford it on his grad school stipend. The economy here is horrible and it’s really geared to college kids and families, with very little for anyone in between.

      But if we didn’t live here he wouldn’t have gotten into grad school (he was a b+ student), and now he’s doing extremely well in his research and classes. I’m going back to school, and even though it’s a move backward (BS to AS) it is something I couldn’t afford to do back home (tuition is low here). Is there any silver lining to where you are? Can you do anything to help prepare you for your exit?

    10. INTP*

      I’m not flaming you, I know it’s hard to keep perspective when you’re profoundly disappointed. But as someone who’s been there, I do think that you can find some niche to feel at home and happy almost anywhere, even if you don’t feel overwhelmingly at home in the city. I’m living in a city and climate that I never, ever pictured myself in for grad school and I’ve come to like a lot of things about it and dread a lot of things about my home-region when I’ll need to return. Actually, if it weren’t for the weather and distance from my family I could picture myself settling here. If you’re near a large university especially, there will be options for all different kinds of activities and different kinds of people to find each other. You’ll meet people who aren’t into football and hunting and such. If you go into it with the idea that there’s nothing to like, you’re going to force yourself to miss out on the good things and repel people you could have been friends with.

    11. Just Visiting*

      I’m so sorry, OP. To be honest, I think some people here are being too harsh on you. I don’t think a lot of people understand what it’s truly like to live in a place where you feel permanently out of joint. My spouse and I moved to a city we hated (from a city we’d both grown up around and loved) for his job. We went there with an open mind and it never improved, even when we made friends. So we planned. We scrimped and saved for four years to be able to move to yet a third place (we considered the hometown city, but you can never go home again) and while I still hate everything about the city we moved to for work, in the end, I’m almost glad we did it. Moving there forced us to understand what we really wanted out of life, it taught us to save money (I’ve always been frugal, my spouse… less so), and the lack of friends we had for our first year or so, combined with unemployment, forced me to really focus on my calling and my love for it was renewed.

      Are you certain you want to go to grad school? Would moving back in with your parents while you look for paying work be an option? If you’re already committed to moving to the hellish state, you might as well live at home for free or cheap while you save, save, save. Unless it’s a STEM degree or something, grad school may not help you get the job you need to escape, and you’ll also have debt to pay off. I don’t know where you used to live, but there are a lot of cheap Northern cities, especially in the Rust Belt. Pittsburgh gets a reputation as a football town, but it’s actually wonderful and comparatively cheap. (Yes, this is my city of origin and I do recommend it to people all the time!) You might only need to work for a year or two in Hell to afford to move to one of these cities sans job.

  16. Schmitt*

    We got a long-haired cat (Maine Coon) for the first time in May. Fur care has been pretty simple with brushing her every 2 or 3 days.

    For our two week vacation we were going to book a cat sitter this time specifically because of the Mo-brushing requirement, but our (theoretically best) friend offered to catsit and insisted it wouldn’t be a problem.

    You can probably see where this is going: We got back yesterday and Mo has mats under her chin, armpit, and down her stomach. I spent two hours on her yesterday and got about 1/3 cut out.

    I trusted my friend and am pretty upset, especially since while brushing Mo is simple, cutting mats off her is not. If said friend had said something and apologized beforehand, I wouldn’t be as upset, but she either didn’t even notice or didn’t think it worth mentioning.

    She is supposed to come over to get her thank-you present in an hour or so. I wanted to cancel and bitch her out last night but my SO told me to sleep on it. I’m torn. What do you guys think?

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      I have a fuzzy dog and long haired cat, and honestly when I travel I assume they will have mats when I get home. The people who take care of them do a pretty good job, and the pets like them a lot, so to me that makes up for some matting (and my kitty is a total beeotch with mat removal).

      If your kitty was otherwise happy, I’d let it go, and if it bothers you that much just get the pet sitter next time.

      1. Schmitt*

        Thanks for the reality check. Everyone is happy and healthy otherwise. I will don the Gloves of Please Don’t Bite Me and power through this afternoon.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          My little b*chy girl bit me this week while I was getting a mat out. I (literally) feel your pain.

        2. Natalie*

          Is having a vet or whatever take the mats out cheaper than a petsitter? I know kennels are expensive but maybe cats are easier. If it is, you still got a good deal!

          (This is why my friends give me tons of food and liquor to dogsit. Still cheaper than a kennel.)

    2. saro*

      If there is a way to convey your displeasure in a calm, measured way – I think it’s a good idea. Has she had a cat with long hair before? Maybe she thought it was just brushing the back? I feel your pain though, it’s such a hassle dealing with matted hair.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Yeah, if you decide to have her watch kitty again, I would just say something like “hey, here’s the brush again. Last time she got a few mats on her belly and neck so don’t forget those places” and otherwise let it go (or choose not to have her watch her again).

          Maybe I’m too lax with friends and family watching pets, but unless it’s a professional who I’m paying, I assume that they won’t follow every instruction down to the last detail. If it is something super important, like medicine (or maybe the brushing for you), I will stress it multiple times. I usually write out the instructions, and for something like that I will put it in bold, italics, larger font, something and also say it a few times. Maybe that will help.

          I don’t think it’s worth risking making your friendship awkward. Unless it was intentional neglect, best just to realise that something will always go a bit missed with a friend helping out with pets.

        2. Jen RO*

          I have short-haired cats who hate to be brushed… it honestly never occurred to me that you’re supposed to brush more than the back! Mine don’t let me get near their bellies so that area would slip my mind immediately.

    3. Rebecca*

      I’d talk to her and ask how the cat reacted when she tried to brush her. My parents had a large semi long haired cat, and he was a terror. He loved my parents, though, and they could pick him up, brush him, etc. and he would just sit there. Me – nope. I had to put down treats, hold the back of his neck with one hand, brush with the other, and hope he didn’t bite or scratch me, which he did with much frequency. Mom called him Jekyll and Hyde. Once, I went over to take care of him in an ice storm. He met me at the door, expecting my parents. His whole demeanor changed, and when I reached down to pet his head, he bit my finger and drew blood. Ugh he was a challenge.

      Just throwing this out there in case your friend had the same issues.

      1. Claire*

        Yeah, this would be my approach. Ask her how she got on, mentioning that the cat had some mats so you were wondering what the problem was. Keep it calm and ask for information, rather than starting out accusatory. Maybe there were real issues beyond not noticing or caring that caused it (maybe not, but starting out assuming the worst isn’t necessarily helpful). If you haven’t had anyone else look after the cat before, there may be things you aren’t aware of that could help you decide what to do next time.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          This is a great approach. I usually ask “Was my critter good? Did s/he behave well for you?” Then see what happens.
          Fortunately, with my old dog the owners of the kennel told me he howled all night. I said thank you for being honest. I did not board him again after that. He was too old and too lonely without me. My relationship with the owners of the kennel has remained intact and my old guy got the help he needed from me.

          In your setting, the sitter may not realize how harmful mats can be. You may need to explain that mats can limit mobility and in turn cause other injuries. Go as far as explaining that she could have ended up making an emergency to run the vet because the cat got hurt. If I had not had a long haired cat, I would not give it a second thought. But I saw how a mat could limit her reach and in turn cause her to hurt herself. I paid closer attention after that learning experience.

          You may find out that she hid from your sitter the entire time you were gone. That would change this picture a lot.

          1. Schmitt*

            My SO mentioned it when I was out of the room, and my friend said she just had no idea how to actually brush the tummy area. Knowing the friend I’d guess that’s about half true and half BS, but it’s good to know going forward: whoever cat sits for us next vacation, probably a professional, will be asked to actually lay hands on cat and brush before we go.

          2. Lisa*

            Yes, how Mo behaves when you’re around and how Mo behaves when you’re gone & potentially not coming back can be two really different things. Especially her belly…Have you thought about maybe getting her lion-clipped next time you go out of town? I do this with my longhaired cat every summer & I’m thinking seriously about maintaining some level of clipped on her year round. *So* much less hair, and for bonus pints, she really loves being brushed when her coat is shorter.

        2. Anx*

          Same here. If I was trying to brush a cat and they were trying to bite me, I’d stop. I would figure that it would better to avoid the awkward “your cat bit me and it’s not a big deal but maybe it is and who would be liable if it gets infected” conversation. I would naively think I was doing the right thing.

          1. FloridaNative*

            Good call. We have a friend of the family who is being sued because her cat bit the neighbor who was catsitting for them. The women who was bitten is diabetic, and infection set in, and she ended up losing two fingers from the bite. :(

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              What the — ??? I catsit for my next-door neighbor all the time, and if one of them bit me I would assume it was my fault for not “reading” the cat correctly. I would *never* sue. Even if an infection set in. Even if it required surgery. Even if I had to have fingers amputated. I just can’t. . . wow.

              (OK, the only way I can see this as being OK is if the woman doesn’t have insurance and your friend said, “Please sue me so that my homeowner’s insurance will pay for your medical care.” Because otherwise. . . I’m back to “wow”.)

              1. VintageLydia USA*

                She probably had to be out of work for a while and needed the money, even if they were the best of friends. This is what homeowner’s/renter’s insurance is for. We are liable for injuries that happen in our home and health insurance doesn’t cover things like utilities and rent and grocery bills when the injured needs to stay home from work.

    4. Camster*

      I have two long-haired cats that HATE to be brushed but I try anyway. When I had surgery earlier this year, several people helped out with my kitties. One friend had no problem brushing either of them (better than me!) while the other one couldn’t even get near one of my cats (who hissed and meowed at him very vocally), so cats do react differently to different people. My one kitty ended up with quite a few mats so he ended up getting a “lion cut” at the vets. Looked quite cute, too!

    5. HR Manager*

      I have a part Maine Coon too, so I know how you feel. To give your friend the benefit of the doubt, has she ever brushed a long-hair cat before? This may seem like a wimpy excuse, but it’s important that the teeth of the comb get into the undercoat, so you really have to get the comb in there. If your friend is inexperienced, and was just brushing the top layer by keep the brush to horizontal, I wonder if she would not have even realized she wasn’t brushing the cat enough.

      I like the suggestions to ask about the brushing in a different way, so that you can convey that you found a lot of mats in her fur. But all can be taken care of if you have a good groomer.

  17. saro*

    I moved overseas to a developing country to join my husband about 3 weeks ago. Baby and I went through tummy issues (I actually think it was a virus) and it was tough going for a while because my in-laws (who live close by) couldn’t help b/c their daughter had the chicken pox. So today, after a long time, I’m finally feeling pretty good. We hired someone to help me around the house and take care of our baby while I get a few hours of work in each day. I am enjoying some non-baby laptop time now. He’s OBSESSED with my laptop. The young lady we hired is great so far and the baby likes her (he takes some time to warm up to people, but I guess she was the exception!). Yay!

    1. nep*

      Great that you’re starting to feel better. And that the baby’s doing well with the person you’ve hired.
      All the best.

  18. Jordi*

    Reading the post earlier this week about the individual who was looking for work after taking a career break to travel, I saw there were several commenters who had also travelled during a career break. I would love to hear about your experiences!!! How long did you travel? Where did you go? What types of accommodation did you use? What did your day to say look like at different stops? How did your family and friends react? Did you blog? Are there any blogs you follow that you recommend or any other resources?

    I am in the planning stages of a 4-8 month travel break starting next summer. Nothing is 100% yet. I will be leaving my job next summer no matter what (my US work visa is expiring, I can’t renew and I decided not to pursue a green card), and I have been saving for several years so financially I’m good, but if I can’t sell my house easily then things will get tricky (not financially, just logistically). Also my family isn’t very fond of the plan. They think I should be looking for a job in my home country now and then ask for a two week pre-cation to take a trip.

    1. lee*

      I took a career break 2 years ago with my now husband. It was one of the best experiences of my life but it was more challenging to reenter “home” than I had imagined. A few thoughts in no particular order:
      -we traveled for about 10 months across three continents. By the end, we were sick of cars, busses, trains and planes. If we did it again we would focus a bit more.

      -for budget, found a formula online that was helpful for calculating expenses. Use an online site and find a hotel/hostel that you would want to stay in for each town in your list. Multiply that by 3 to figure out your daily budget in each place. (So your daily budget might be $200 in Paris but $15 in parts of Laos. Then try to spend less!

      – we didn’t have a specific itinerary because we wanted to be able to give into impulses. I think that was the right approach for us but I would advise coming up with a general outline or a top 10 list.

      – try new things, take risks, but dont be stupid. I think a lot of people fall into the trap of thinking they need to try everything because they’re traveling. Not true. If something looks unsafe or dangerous, skip it. Along the same lines, don’t be afraid to spend more to stay safe or comfortable.

      – build in vacations. It seems silly but traveling can be exhatm if you need a rest, find a place where you can relax, eat comfort food, and not feel like you need to see anything. beach towns or smaller towns are great for this.

      -have a project. We were both working on our writing, which gave us a few hours each day to do something productive, which made us feel accomplished even in a town we didn’t like..

      Fingers are tired but hopefully thats helpful for now! Have fun and don’t worry too much about your family. My parents freaked out, but I updated them often and skyped when I could, and tried to reassure them as as much as possible.

      1. Jordi*

        Thanks for the helpful tips! I’m really glad hear it was a worthwhile experience.

        I think one of my biggest challenges is that I am going to want to go to too many places and do too much and I know that isn’t feasible when travelling for that long. I’ll have to sort out a few “must sees” and work around that without being on the go too much. But in the early planning stages everything sounds so exciting. I like the idea of “vacationing” in a small beach town while travelling.

        I know returning to “normal” life after will be a big shock, but I’ll be resettling in a different country than where I am now so it is going to be a big change regardless. But I have a great opportunity for a once in a lifetime experience and I know I’ll regret it if I don’t take advantage of it.

  19. nep*

    Any other yoga enthusiasts out there? How often do you practice? What pose are you working on these days?

    1. Ali*

      I only go once a week, but I’d like to go more often because the studio I go to does class with live music every Sunday. Right now, my instructor is trying to help me bend deeper into my warrior poses, but sometimes my legs just aren’t having it. I’m finally getting good at downward dogs, though. My barre workout is really helping my strength there!

    2. Sheep*

      I love yoga! I’ve not practiced regularly at all this year though, since I broke my ankle in January. Getting back into it slowly now, but finding that I can’t do a lot of the poses I used to be able to do. Also, tight left hip is annoying me! So just working on very basic poses to get back in the groove of things!

    3. Jazzy Red*

      I was doing yoga on a regular basis for a few years, and now I need to get back into it. I especially liked the stretching posts because they help my lower back and hips. The yoga lady on TV says “the legs govern the back”, so stretching the legs is doing me good, too. I have problems with my hands, wrists, and shoulders, so I can’t do anything like Plank or even Down Dog. It’s a little tricky finding work-arounds for those.

      1. nep*

        What are the problems you’ve got with the hands, wrists, and shoulders?
        ‘Legs govern the back’ — good one. Hip flexors govern the back too. Most people have got tight, shortened ones — and they attach at the femur in front and lumbar spine in back, so it’s clear how tight ones could cause issues.
        Hope you’ll be able to get back into it and reap the benefits from those stretches soon.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I have osteoarthritis in my hands and wrists, and some rotator cuff issues in my shoulder. Trying to do any weight bearing exercises is painful, and injury is always a concern. For a couple of years, I put my hands into fists and did some exercises that way. It worked well, until the disease progressed a little more.

          I also have mild scoliosis, so working on flexibility really helps. My chiropractor got my hips straightened out about 8 years ago, and that relieved a lot of pain, too. I’ve just gotten too damn lazy the last couple of years, and I have no one to blame but myself. I did find my cheat sheet from yoga class the other day, so I can start doing the routines I know tomorrow.

    4. Jubilance*

      I’ve recently gotten back into yoga, thanks to a new instructor who teaches in the Jivamukti style. I currently practice twice a week but I’m thinking of adding a practice to that.

    5. fposte*

      I’m on a yoga break until my surgery, but I love yoga. I tend toward Ashtanga/flow yoga, and I practice at home with DVDs or just with music as a background. I’m already coaching myself to start back slow and not try to reenter at the level that I left–it’ll be a year away by the time I can pick it up again. When I’m able, I practice about two-three times a week, at varying lengths (I also do a lot of walking, so the walking-yoga balance depends on weather and time).

      Eventually, I would like to get better at arm balances–I’m fascinated by Scorpion pose and would like to master it some day. Not sure it’ll ever happen!

      1. Sheep*

        I would also love to be able to do Scorpion! For now though, the most ‘advanced’ arm balance I can do is crow (ie. not very advanced!)

    6. Trixie*

      I’ve become quite a fan. Used to be twice a week forever, now its closer to five or six. Have great upper body strength and balance but haven’t really worked on crow or inversions. I do appreciate that I can remain in warrior poses longer now so the legs must be getting stronger. Absolutely adore balance poses, especially Half-Moon.

      I was looking up yoga teaching certification last night, which vary wildly in price. May have a decent local option to keep in mind down the road. Definitely an investment I can’t justify right now, but maybe one day. Anyone else recently certified, or considering?

    7. Blue_eyes*

      I started attending a yoga class weekly after I quit my job in February. Right now I’m working part time and I always try to keep my Fridays free so I can go to class with my favorite instructor. I’m working on balancing poses like half moon and tree. I had a really great practice this past Friday that included getting into wheel for the first time! I can definitely see how I’ve improved quite a bit in just the last 8 months.

    8. louise*

      I’ve gotten into restorative once a week. Love it. I’m a true couch potato and when I’ve tried getting fit before (tried couch to 5k and tried a personal trainer), it was discouraging and I was angry and hated it.

      After going to restorative yoga a few times I began to realize what I love about it: I feel so enabled when I practice and due to a teacher who reminds us all throughout class to listen to our bodies and that what our body can do today is just perfect, I feel like my body and I are on the same team. When I tried large other fitness plans, I felt at odds with my body and like my body was letting me down. I hated “fighting through the pain” and other things that seem to motivate others.

      I’m still terribly inflexible. I’d still rather sit on a sofa stuffing my face with junk food. But I’m making progress. I’m 32 now and when I’m 70+, as my mother is, I don’t want to need an electric cart at the grocery store because I didn’t take care of my body.

      Also, I go to a kundalini class occasionally that ends with meditation and gong. I tell that teacher I hate her during the kriyas (some are way too aerobic for me!!) but that all is forgiven during the gong and that’s why I keep coming back, ha!

      1. nep*

        ‘I feel like my body and I are on the same team’ — that is beautiful and profound. I’m glad you feel that way. That struck me as it reminds me of a time when I was going through some health challenges…I once found no other way to describe it to my mom than: ‘My body has turned against me and it’s killing me.’ Turned out I had to stop turning away from my body, and start healing us. Eating more healthfully and moving my body (including yoga) saved me.
        Thanks for sharing all this. Wonderful you’re making progress. Consistency trumps everything.
        ‘Practice and all is coming.’

    9. FX-ensis*

      Every day, well I try to.

      I try to do 20 Sun Salutations everyday (in the Hatha style/late B.K.S Iyengar lineage).

      I go to a class twice per week, and have lost weight, and feel more vital.

  20. Ali*

    Thanks to all who offered their stories on wisdom teeth removal last week. I had my bottom two out Friday and am doing well, all things considered. I just can’t open my mouth all the way without feeling strained yet, and I’m still trying to stick to soft foods until I feel a little better there. The swelling isn’t too bad…basically nonexistent on one side and not terrible on the other side. I had the IV sedation and would do it again in a heartbeat haha. I don’t remember any of the surgery, and that’s the way I like it. I have enough energy to go to a hockey game today, and my surgeon didn’t put any specific restriction on when I can workout again. That said, I plan on exercising tomorrow and doing all standing work until my stitches are out, so no yoga or anything else that’s even part lying on the floor.

    The anesthesia didn’t make me do anything even remotely YouTube-worthy. I was tired after waking up but otherwise knew where I was and didn’t say or do anything crazy. I didn’t even sleep much after coming home.

    I’m not sure if I’m going to have the top two out yet. They really haven’t given me any problems, but at least if I have to have them done, I know what to expect and won’t be anxious at all.

    1. Bea W*

      I have to go back and look for that thread. I really need one of my wisdom teeth out, but I am terrified of it. I had extractions with IV sedation when I was a teenager, but with health issues I’m not sure either myself or an oral surgeon would be comfortable with doing that in an office. I also remember being really sick from it. I woke up and puked up the blood that had run into my stomach apparently. I had not eaten anything for 12+ hours, and I still puked. That part was awful, puking after having 3 molars extracted and a mouth full of gauze. I am afraid I may have to do it being awake.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Where did he put that suction tube? yikes. That tube should have pulled that blood out.

        But yeah, I learned the hard way. The human body is not equipped to digest blood. So up it comes, every time. I had strep throat bleed when I was a kid. That was unreal.

        1. Bea W*

          Not in my mouth apparently. Thankfully I was out. I’d had plenty of other teeth pulled by my regular dentist, who was quite terrible, and never had any issue with the blood trickling down my throat into my stomach.

          A bleeding strep throat sounds horrible and painful!

      2. The IT Manager*

        I reacted very badly to general anesthesia for a knee surgery – puked a ridiculous amount AFTER not eating anything for 18 or so hours. Honestly it was worse than the knee recovery.

        OTOH did wisdom and a regular tooth removal with only local and was A-OK.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      Just be aware that any exercise that gets your heart beating will hurt! I remember cycling home (6km, all uphill) about a week after having all four wisdom teeth out, thinking I was OK because it didn’t really hurt any more, and every time I stopped at a red light I could feel pulses of pain in all four sockets, synchronized with my heart beat. It was bizarre.

      1. Bea W*

        Oh dear. As someone with an irregular heartbeat and frequent tachycardia from doing things like walking up a flight of stairs, this sounds like it could get a little unpleasant.

      2. Ali*

        Oh geez. Maybe I’ll stick to standing barre workouts for a while then since they’re lower impact. Bummer to hear.

  21. RandomName*

    I watched the first episode of Revolution and The Blacklist on Netflix. I wasn’t impressed with either show. The scripts and acting both seemed too contrived, not realistic. And the wardrobe on Revolution didn’t look good. Their clothes were too clean and new looking for not having modern washing machines and cleaning agents. When I watch The Walking Dead, even though it’s a show about zombies running around, it seems more realistic in a sense because of the script, acting, character development and wardrobe. When I watch it I think, wow…they look smelly. It seems like cable shows keep setting the bar higher and higher and I don’t know if broadcast TV will be able to keep up.

    1. Rebecca*

      I watched one episode of Revolution as well, and didn’t pursue it. For me, it was that the show was ended after 2 seasons, and it was produced by JJ Abrams, which I didn’t research ahead of time. After watching every season of Lost, and enduring its stupid ending, no more JJ Abrams series for me. It seemed to parallel the plot line of Jericho, in that no one had electricity or communications, except a few people with extra sturdy laptops. I wasn’t even interested in watching the second episode.

      1. RandomName*

        Yes! That too! I watched all but the last season of Lost and had planned to catch up on it by buying the DVD set of the last season until I found out how it ended. Now I’m glad I spared myself the last season. I also read that Revolution didn’t end well because it was canceled but gave it a try anyway because it only has two seasons and I like to watch something while I’m folding laundry. It wasn’t even good enough to be on in the background though. I stared laughing when I saw the Civil War era weaponry.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Oh, this made me laugh. I also found Revolution unworthy of being on while ironing, which is a pretty low bar to meet.

      2. Suz*

        Fringe (JJ Abrams) is fantastic though so he’s done some good things although Lost wasn’t one of them…

    2. Bea W*

      I started watching Revolution when it first aired. It just got worse. I tried watching the second season, and never got past the first episode. By then all of the least annoying / least a-holey characters had been killed off, and there were so many things going on at once it was impossible to follow. When I’m watching TV I give some leeway to the believability of things because I know it’s fiction, but as the show went on, it was way beyond suspending a bit of judgement. The second season also skips some months into the future with no connection or context to the previous season. All of the sudden they were in a completely different place with different lives from season 1, and you’re like WTH just happened?

      I only watched one or two of the first episodes of Blacklist, and never went back to it. I can’t remember why exactly, but obviously I wasn’t that captivated by it, because I just thought “Meh” and changed the channel.

    3. Jazzy Red*

      I don’t mind the group on WD being filthy, but this season they’re (as in the whole show) getting too savage. If tonight’s episode focuses on that, I’m going to stop watching. It’s a shame, because everything else about this show is great.

      1. RandomName*

        I went back and watched a few episodes from Season 1 and there is such a stark contrast to the whole mood of the show. In season 1 there was a hopeful tone and the musical score and soundtrack were more upbeat. Season 5 is definitely more dark and the situations more brutal and the music mirrors that. Buildings are falling apart, clothing has become tattered and dirty, and even the zombies show decay. The savagery makes it more realistic to me because everyone that has survived that long has made it for a reason. The show’s crew gets those things so right that I’m willing to let it go that some of the houses they sometimes show have mowed lawns :)

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Yes, those suburban walkers certainly do keep up their yards! (They would do well with the POA in my neighborhood.)

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Revolution was pretty ridiculous, but I would probably watch James Spader read the phone book. He’s fun to watch in almost anything. If you like him but you’re just not crazy about Blacklist, I highly recommend Boston Legal. Unfortunately, it’s hard to find, but Netflix has the DVDs. (I have a lot of the episodes on my media server, but they are from the original airings and so they have commercials; I might buy the DVDs eventually.)

      1. TL*

        Boston Legal is probably my favorite show ever. (I got the entire series on DVD for a bday gift after it was cancelled, or I bought some on sale at Best Buy? I don’t remember.)
        Either way, it’s awesome.

    5. INTP*

      That’s kind of how I feel about Under the Dome, even though I love it. Specifically, Julia’s hair is just too perfect for someone who doesn’t have access to a blow drier or hot rollers or a curling iron and is constantly running around saving lives or nearly dying every day. I refuse to believe anyone’s hair just air dries like that every day. Also, in a town where it looks like most people haven’t bought new clothes since 2005, it sure is curious how they all have brand new Windows 8 products that were released maybe a few months before their dome came down.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I love the Blacklist, but it’s because I love James Spader and he’s so great in it. The show itself is terribly flawed (and I find Lizzie wholly unbelievable as a character), but I don’t care about any of that because I’m only watching it to get pleasure out of James Spader’s fantastic character. I think that might be the way to enjoy the show.

    7. EG*

      The Blacklist took me a few episodes to get hooked but I really like the intrigue as the story between the two main characters as it builds.

  22. Bea W*

    I got my first Stitch Fix this weekend and absolutely love it! I learned about it from one of the open threads here. So thank you thank you thank you whoever wrote about it. My stylist found me pants that fit. I was so excited when I pulled them out of the box and tried them on. They were black bootcut jeans. You have no idea how many long years I have been looking for a replacement for my last pair of black jeans which had to be retired…I can’t remember when. She sent me a complete outfit. I wore it to work the next day and got a lot of complements. I can’t wait for my next Fix!

    Related to fashion – I have a new complaint, glasses. The last few years it seems like styles of glasses have been less varied in shape (overwhelmingly square) and there is a return to chunky plastic frames – two things I look not so great in. I am fine boned, and many of them just are too much on my face. There is a lot of black this year, and that’s way too much on my face. Some of them are too much on the model faces in photos. They aren’t 80s glasses, but some of the new styles remind me of that era meaning we’ll be looking at photos 20 years from now and mocking their ugliness. I normally just stop in the LensCrafters where my optometrist is located and covered by my vision insurance, and the variety in the selection has really shrunk to nothing at this point. I’m going to start looking other places or online. My vision is crap. I’m wearing these glasses all the time. So I want them to look good on my face. Frames have been one item I have always given myself permission to pay a bit more for even when I had little money, because they are essentially a part of my face and I couldn’t afford to get more than one pair more than every other year. Even now when I can technically afford it, the lenses are crazy expensive. Crazy! Two pair (regular and sun) can run more than a grand easy, just for my lenses. I have decent vision insurance that covers much of that cost now, but it’s still not inexpensive!

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      I so agree with you about today’s style of glasses looking very ’80s. I cringe when I look back at old photos of myself. I found some nice frames at Costco, but they do tend to have a limited selection. Have you tried a more boutique eyewear store? The husband got his last pair at one of those and loves his frames.

      1. Bea W*

        I just got the new script yesterday afternoon and haven’t been looking. I’ll try any store covered by my vision plan. :) There is actually one I passed on the way home that looks to have a healthy selection of different types of frames and shapes. So I have a bit of hope yet. My prescription is too strong now for 1 hr service so it’s no added convenience to me anymore to use the 1 hr chains. I still have to wait 1-2 weeks.

        1. Bea W*

          PS – I was lucky in the 80s that my vision wasn’t so bad that I had to wear glasses all the time,so there aren’t as many horrible photos of me in glasses. I just needed them to see the board in the classroom unless I was sitting right upfront. My sister, on the other hand, has been legally blind without them since as early as first or second grade and went to contacts as soon as she was old enough to learn to take care of them. As if kids don’t look awkward enough, kids in coke bottle 80s glasses….that’s just harsh.

          1. Stephanie*

            My first pair of glasses (at age 6…*sigh*) were bright pink with little alphabet letters on them. I cringe looking at pictures of me now, but I suppose that was adorable on a six-year-old.

            1. Mints*

              +1 Warby Parker. It sounds like most might not be your style, but the free home try on is a good deal. And they’re $95 flat, which I appreciate knowing upfront

              1. Bea W*

                Many of these styles are the ones that really do not flatter my face, but the home try-on is very cool. I’m happy to see colors other than black, which is just too overpowering if it’s any thicker than a thin wire frame. I always liked round frames and wished I could wear them, and it pains me that they look so terrible on me. I don’t have the right face shape to pull them off.

          1. Bea W*

            It’s not covered, and I’m particularly squicky about eyes. You’d never get me to lie still enough for long enough to go through laser surgery while awake. No. Just. No. I can’t barely deal with the eye drops and puff test. I hope I never need any kind of eye surgery. You’d have to knock me out cold and hold my lids open. For added safety, it’d probably be best to tie all my limbs and my head down. I feel bad for my eye doctor. I try my best to hold still for him and keep my eyes open and not have to keep repeating tests, but I’m not very good at it.

    2. Stephanie*

      I love square plastic frames (and am wearing some now), but even I agree that the current style is getting to be a bit too much. The current trend works for me because I have a high Rx and a wider, round face. That being said, some of these plastic frames just look ridiculous on people–people, you still have to get frames that work for your face shape! My cousin has these giant turquoise Ray-Ban frames that just look ridiculous on her (they’re way too big for her face, both in width and lens size and completely cover her eyebrows).

      If you’re a Costco member, I’d give them a try. They don’t have the biggest selection, but their buyers do a really good job of choosing “trendy” frames as well as standard frames. I’ve always been able to find things there. Their glasses are also really affordable (even when you factor in the membership). They don’t take insurance, but you can use an HSA if you have that. I was able to get a pair of high-index lenses with anti-glare coating and frames for just shy of $200.

      1. Bea W*

        There was a photo of a model wearing ridiculously huge turquoise frames at the optometrist. They were way too big for her face. I thought “Oh please tell me this is not the trend!”.

        1. Stephanie*

          Oh, ha my current pair is teal plastic. In my defense, it’s a dark, concentrated teal and the frames fit my face. I don’t get how people find those ridiculously huge frames comfortable. The lenses from my last pair were a bit on the bigger side and close to my face (but still proportional, damn it) and they would drive me nuts sometimes as they hit right at the tops of my cheeks.

          1. Bea W*

            Yeh, the glasses on the woman in the photo corrected the vision in her cheeks. :D The color was okay, but the size didn’t work well. I am envious of people who can pull off colorful glasses. I do a lot of “Ooooo I love this color…(puts glasses on) …but not on my face.”

    3. skyline*

      I bought glasses online this year for the first time, and got two prescription pairs for $250, which was less than half of what I paid for my previous prescription pair at a brick-and-mortar store. One of the pairs was very inexpensive (from Zenni Optical) and the other was more modestly priced (from You can see a quality difference, but not a major one, and I no longer live in fear that I’m going to accidentally break my pair of $600 glasses. I should note that I have a strong prescription plus astigmatism, so the $250 for two pairs includes the markups for that.

      (I have decent vision insurance, but also wear contacts, so I generally end up paying for my glasses out of pocket. My insurance only covers contacts or glasses every year.)

      1. Bea W*

        $250 is really good. I have a strong prescription with astigmatism in both eyes, and 2 pair at a brick and mortar store runs upwards of $1000. I was thrilled when my work introduced vision insurance that covered a large portion of the cost of lenses and frames for the first pair and still gave a significant discount on the second pair.

      2. Diet ginger ale*

        I used Zenni during one of their sales. I got three pairs during a buy two, get one free sale for $180.00 (I got progressive lenses). I cannot be any happier. I have THREE pairs of differently colored/styled glasses. I can mix and match with my outfits to my heart’s content. The luxury of having back up glasses is heavenly. I was always fearful of breaking my glasses during my karate tournaments but not any longer. Can I say three pairs again without being obnoxious?

    4. Mephyle*

      Maybe we’re behind the times here, but I still see a lot of wire rims as options among the block black frames.

  23. AdAgencyChick*

    I know this isn’t supposed to be work-related, but this happened too late for Friday’s open thread.

    On Friday night, someone on one of my accounts (used to be my only account, but I have changed roles now and am involved with several) sent out a bitchy blamefest email about something that happened two months ago and I guess has only now come to light. She copied the people she’s blaming, along with other very senior people, one of whom responded with “we need to put procedures in place to make sure this never happens again.”

    I haven’t checked to see how exactly the mistake happened — that would require me going into the office — and there’s a good chance I bear at least partial responsibility, but so does the person writing the email (and others, too) since we already have a routing procedure to ensure that multiple departments check work before it goes out to a client. However, now that my role has changed, I wouldn’t even be part of the process of making materials perfect before they are released to a client.

    Anyway, not asking for advice. Just venting, because it annoys the crap out of me that this person is calling out a mistake without taking any ownership of her own role, and also sending the email as the weekend is starting without actually saying what she would like anyone to do. I consulted with one of the other people copied on the email and we decided to ignore it until Monday morning, because after all there are no requests for action in the email. (The senior person who said “we need to put procedures in place” didn’t say “we need to put procedures in place over the weekend.”) But I’m really not looking forward to the self-flagellation conference call I’m sure the team will be expected to have on Monday, and I hate that I’ve thought about this all weekend. Bah.

  24. BRR*

    For the married and long-term relationship people out there, how do you handle finances? I’m getting married in about a month and it looks like a job that pays a living wage is finally on its way for my fiance. Up until now he’s been earning minimum wage so there really hasn’t been a discussion as there wasn’t much extra money to deal with. I’ve read a couple of the different methods and I’m wondering what worked for people and what didn’t?

    I know we don’t want to just share one checking and savings account but we agree there should be some concept of sharing our money. Things we need to factor in: I have student loan debt while he has none but I have more in savings and retirement although neither of us has a large enough emergency fund. Curious how other people here do things.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      What a friend of mine does is they share an account where all the bills get paid, but they each have their own account where they each have almost like an allowance. This is where they pay for things which the other person has no say of how the money is being spent.

      1. FatBigot*

        We do the same. All income goes into the joint account. We each have a separate personal account that has an allowance paid into it from the joint account. Joint account money is spent on grocery’s, rent, car, children etc. and special purchases (e.g. new PC) by agreement. My personal account money can be spent at my sole discretion.

        That’s just the mechanics of it though. The real foundation is that despite possible disparities in the income we contribute, the allowance into the personal accounts have always been equal. Money is not the only way to contribute to the relationship, but we are both equal.

        Fortunately we both graduated in the UK before student loans were a thing, so cannot advise on that.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          This is what my boyfriend-of-11-years and I do, too. All income goes into the main joint-checking account, then we pull out set amounts into my personal checking account, his personal checking account, a savings account, and a tax account (we own a small business, even though I’ve also almost always had a full-time job in addition to the small business). We put equal amounts into each of our “fun money” accounts, so no one can cry foul regardless of who happens to be bringing in the most income at any given time.

          Oh, and we have a rule that we have to run a purchase past the other person if it’s over $50 and not coming out of our Fun Money accounts. (So, clothing, household items, etc.). Most of the time the answer is Yes, but there were a few times when if one of us had spent, say, a couple hundred without letting the other person know, we might have been caught up short in the main checking account (we have overdraft protection, but the bank charges us $12 each time they are the ones to move money from our savings into our checking). We like to keep the main checking account as lean as possible, so we’re not tempted to spend the money. We’re shoving as much as possible into savings right now.

      2. Noah*

        This is what my parents do, and it has worked out well for them for 30+ years, or so they say. They both work and contribute to a joint account and then both have their own account. Like someone else mentioned, that way the bills are paid and there is no fighting about how each other spend their money. My dad makes more than my mom, so they have some formula worked out about which bills each of them will contribute to the joint account to pay.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We have separate accounts and one rent account. Our incomes are really disproportionate, so we divide by bills– he pays the electric, I pay the cable, that kind of thing. We divide our rent by a set amount and we deposit money into the rent account. We also trade paying for meals out, groceries, housewares, etc., with me buying most of the things because I have the money.

      Ideally, we would pool a percentage of money into a “household” account where we kept all the money for all the bills but still keep our separate accounts. This will become more important if we have kids, but for now, it’s working out pretty well. I don’t ever want to be in a position where I don’t have my own money, and I don’t want to ask someone if I want to buy something expensive. It also works for us because I don’t have access to his account and I can’t get all, “But you can’t afford that!” when he wants to buy, say, some really nice bottles of vermouth. (He probably can afford it, I’m just frugal and risk-averse.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      We divided the bills according to income. He made 60% of the household income so he paid 60% of the bills. Mathematically, it worked out that we both had the same amount of discretionary funds each week.
      Once we got to a slightly better spot financially we set an upper limit on how much we could spend without checking with the other person. For us it was $100/person every few weeks. This was beyond the discretionary pocket money. If I found a good deal that was less than #100 I could just buy it. I just had to watch how often I did that. Likewise, for him.
      It was a good system because it really made us think before we purchased something. Yet, with the pocket money component in place in neither one of us was micromanaging the other one. So that was good, too.

      In instances of larger purchases we would talk it over with each other, first to see if the purchase was necessary. Now, that sounds harsh. But many times it would work out that “Okay you take a turn getting this cool item, then I get a turn picking out the next cool item.” Then there were times where we just had to cough up money for an expensive repair and there is not too much you can do about that if it is beyond the skill set of either person.

      My best thought is this one: Once you reach a point where you know you are paying the bills regularly, have a set amount of money that is “the heck with it” money. So when he comes home with an item that was waaaay too much money you can tell yourself “He’s lucky. I am going to consider that part of his “the heck with it money” and let it go.”

    4. the gold digger*

      We both came into our marriage without debt. I had more assets because he had just gotten divorced. We have merged everything, although my mother is still the beneficiary on one of my 401K accounts. We have very similar philosophies on saving and spending, although he thinks spending money on wine and beer is OK and I think it is really stupid. However, he does not understand why someone would need more than one purse.

      We don’t make major purchases – over a few hundred dollars – without discussing.

      It has worked for us, although now that he has quit his job to be a full-time politician (actually, a full-time candidate) I would like to see less spending on visiting his drunk, mean parents.

    5. Mints*

      We each get paid into separate personal accounts and transfer 80% into a joint account for all bills and rent, including debts. The 20% is for everything that’s not bills.
      It works well. Our incomes are close enough that the “allowances” don’t seem unfair. And when there’s unexpected bonus, we usually transfer less to the joint account (maybe half? it depends).
      This isn’t a relevant worry anymore, but we did want the joint account not be tied to either personal account in case there was some automatic withdraw issues, we wouldn’t lose access to both accounts.

    6. catsAreCool*

      I’ve heard that some couples will pool a percentage of what they earn to pay for bills and shared goals (maybe shared savings), and then the rest of the money is separate. It seems like it would prevent some arguments over money.

    7. Nerd Girl*

      We share an account. We tried the not sharing an account and dividing the bills up. It didn’t work. We fought more over the money with separate accounts than ever before.

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Is it crazy to not pool money? We have really different incomes and really different spending/saving styles, and we’ve ended up just keeping things basically separate, with the higher earner paying for most stuff due to the higher income. I kind of want to keep it this way, because the idea of combining makes me nervous. I like control over my money. (Which may or may not be a terrible sign about me and the whole concept of marriage, who knows. But I suspect it’s probably a sign of getting married in one’s 40s, when you have more set ways of doing your own stuff.)

      1. Stephanie*

        My parents don’t pool money. Their checking accounts are at separate banks even. From my understanding, my dad covered the higher bills since he made more money and my parents figured out a bill payment delegation that worked relative to each of their incomes. I think they both like having control of their own money and being able to spend it on things the other would consider frivolous.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I felt the same way. We each had our own checking/savings/credit cards. Our cars were separate, but we had one policy for both vehicles. We did name each other as beneficiary on anything major- IRA, 401k, bank accounts, life insurance etc. This saved having to go to probate court. Anything with a beneficiary does not have to be probated.

        We did this in the 80s and people thought we were weird. Several friends could not get over the fact that we did not have a joint checking account. It did mean that we had to communicate a little more with each other. “Hey, the oil bill is here and I am low on funds.” That sort of thing. But never any problems, nothing was ever a big deal.

        The whole point was to retain some ability to have an individual identity and to retain some autonomy. We did the same thing with space at home. “Okay, this is your closet and this one over here is my closet.” That space became a no fly zone, too. I think it helped a lot to do these things.
        Other than our parents no one in life is so close to us as our committed other. It’s just a good idea to set things up that belong solely to one person. It’s a pressure relief valve, it’s a show of respect, it’s a bunch of things.

      3. fposte*

        Lady Bird Johnson said “I wouldn’t have a joint checking account with the Archangel Gabriel.”

      4. Pennalynn Lott*

        It’s not crazy. Every relationship is different. For us, we realized that we expect to share in the other benefits of the relationship equally (love, affection, companionship, the running of a “household”, friendship, healthcare), so we should be sharing the benefits of the combined incomes equally, too. It would seem weird to say, “I earned more affection last year than you, so therefore I’ll be hoarding it in my personal account instead of sharing it with you.” Ditto money.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          But note that we also have our own Fun Money accounts, which get paid into equally from the joint account, so we still have a lot of room to make non-scrutinized purchases.

          We also have separate closets, separate dressers, and even separate rooms (even with a CPAP machine, he is a god-awful snorer). We also each have our own hobbies and friends outside of the relationship. I love it when he disappears for the weekend to go on a camping/fishing trip with his friends (usually with his two best female friends).

      5. BRR*

        I think we’re the same in terms of different spending/saving styles and as of right now different incomes. We agree we’re in it together financially though. That my student loans aren’t only my problem. That he can save to go on a vacation and if I don’t save I’m SOL. I’m just not sure what the right way to do it is since the only situation we’ve been in is I earn a lot and he doesn’t.

      6. Kathryn*

        We have a “house” account that the bills get paid out of, with savings for emergency and maintenance work, and a shared credit card. We both deposit some of our paycheck into the household fund and ignore, more or less, what the other does with the rest of their money.

        We do consult on larger purchases, even if they are personal expenses, but that is less money-policing and more we consult with the other on most things because we respect each other’s opinion.

        We are slowly merging more over time though. Restaurants and dates used to be personal spending where we traded off who paid, but now they mostly go to the house account.

      7. librarian anonymous*

        27 years married. inequitable income for most of this time. We do not pool our income. Separate checking accounts. Money for taxes and vacations and big purchases go into a joint savings. Bills are split up by ability to pay. I did household expenses and food. He did mortgage, utilities and insurance. We paid our own medical and personal. We used our excess money for retirement. We could buy anything we want/need around 50.00. Splurges were discussed- at times talked out of…or encouraged…yes , yes buy that spendy bicycle. If there was a lot of travel on my part and I had “cash flow issues” I would borrow from the savings then replace it later.

      8. Mister Pickle*

        No, it’s not crazy. We have several joint accounts that hold longer-term “investment funds”, but also we each have separate checking and savings accounts. We split bills each month proportional to our earnings. It might be because we were in our early 30s when we married, plus it was the 2nd marriage for each of us – we wanted some independence. For major expenditures, we’ll typically decide to divvy the cost fairly after discussion. With exception of 2002 (when I bought a motorcycle) and 2003 (when I bought another motorcycle) – I paid for those entirely from my funds.

      9. saro*

        I think whatever works for you and your spouse. My parents don’t pool money. It was important to my husband that we share accounts, so we made it work.

        1. NaCSaCJack*

          No, Alison, it is not. My mom and dad were married for 43 years and when my mom went back to work, she got her own checking account. This due to somewhat questionable math skills, but this way it reflected on her alone, not him. Now get ready for this, kinda hard to say – they had separate checking accounts at two institutions. They were both joint checking accounts. But Dad deposited to the credit union and Mom deposited to the major bank. They were both signatories on each other’s but maintained for lack of a better word, a chinese wall. Dad paid mortgage and cars and utilities out of his checking, Mom bought groceries and paid for us kids out of hers. When dad died, mom went in and removed his name from the accounts. No issue, all she had to do was show death certificate and his name was off the account. She never lost access to the money. Now was that hard for them? Oh yeah, especially when us kids became expensive and his bills didn’t go up in concert with his pay raises. Wouldn’t necessarily do it, but it worked somewhat.

    9. LibbyG*

      We have separate accounts and put equal amounts into the joint account for bills. One of us makes about 20% more than the other, but the lower earner has a lot more in retirement and savings. If assets ever even out, we’ll start contributing to the household account proportionately to income.

      We actually just got married last week, and we did a pre-nup. Everyone should do a pre-nup! The what-if-we-split part is important, but more important is cataloging debts and assets and talking about assumptions. What if one partner leaves the workforce to be a caregiver? Are we going to co-own vehicles or own them separately? I think a lot of couples just dive in (though obviously not you, OP). They need to re-brand that process: call it premarital financial assessment or something more engaging than that.

    10. Case of the Mondays*

      My husband and I pool everything but we started our careers at the same time, married. I also have student loans but I’m the higher earner so it evens out. We do keep separate small checking accounts where we put our fun money. We get a monthly allowance and we put any birthday money we get, etc, in our personal accounts.

      On the student loan front, consider consolidating/refinancing if it makes sense for your situation. I’m not in a job where I will be doing IBR so I wasn’t overly concerned with federal protections. I had a private loan with a variable interest rate that was in the high 8’s but could go up to 19 if rates increased! My husband was also cosigned on those and that would bind him even if I died or became disabled. My fed loans were in the 6’s. I refinanced through SoFi into a fixed low 5% rate for a 5 year loan. At the time I refinanced, I had 5 1/2 years left on my feds and 10 years left on my private loans. I will save at least $15,000 in interest over the life of my loan this way. SoFi was great to work with and I was impressed. I’m including a link. If you use it and get the loan, we each get $100. My recommendation stands without the link! I might post about this next Sunday too since I haven’t yet seen it discussed here.

    11. Graciosa*

      One thing that I think is really important is regular checkups on this stuff (jointly held accounts are more important, but individual ones need to be covered too). I have heard of couples that switch off between who monitors the checking account and who monitors long term investments, and also couples where one is clearly better at one category and sticks to it but reviews it with the other spouse at some interval.

      I think couples in my generation are a lot more informed about this stuff, but my parents once loaned grocery money to an older woman across the street whose husband was unconscious in the hospital for an extended period. She came from a traditional background (eastern European country) in which the men handled all the money. She remembered her husband taking her to banks to sign things, but didn’t remember where.

      She spent most of this time worrying about how to find money to feed the kids, and hovering over his bed trying to get him to tell her “where the money was” – a practice which did not inspire trust from his nurses!

    12. NaCSaCJack*

      I have had two long term relationships. In the first one we each maintained our own accounts and set up a joint checking for groceries. When I needed money for rent, he deposited into the joint which I transferred to my account to write the bill. Eventually, his debt load became so much and I was making double, that we each just deposited grocery money.

      In the second, before he lost his job a year ago(cant believe it’s been a year), rather than split up the utilities and each pay, since it is my house and not his, I charged him a set monthly amount with the caveat that if the heating bill goes high, he pays more. This did get deposited into a joint account. So in the summer months, I’d have a little extra that would build up in our joint account but in the winter months, I’d lose money. Then he loses his job. So now, he pays the grocery bill and I pay everything else. Not happy I can tell you, but its my name on the house and on the utilities, not his. Its my responsibility to pay them.

    13. Treena Kravm*

      We started out by splitting everything 50/50. And because I made 10% of the income (I was a student at the time) I was always behind. We quickly abandoned that for the percentages method. If I made 10% of the money, I pay 10% of the expenses, and the rest of my paycheck goes to my fun fund. But then we could never agree what was a shared expense and what was a fun expense. But basically everything else for the house was something I wanted and he didn’t need, even though he would use it–ie new sheets, or a stand for the tv etc. And since those are the things I would choose to buy, but he would use just as much as me, they were classified as a shared expense, but he never wanted to buy them. So it would go round and round arguing whether or not we “needed” it and it would only end if I decided to buy it out of my fun fund.

      So we went fully joint and hashed out each purchase. Now it’s a yes or no rather than a our money or your money. After almost 5 years we’ve got it down. Partially through compromise, and partially through just letting go of some decisions. My husband is VERY frugal, and I’m a spender. I feel like we’re each getting better and he’s getting more comfortable spending (I have to force him to buy new shoes, but last time I got him to admit it was needed!) and I’m way better about saying no to purchases. We do have a special account for him, because he doesn’t like to buy little things, but he’ll want a $1000 piece of equipment. So we put some money in that account each month and when there’s enough cash, he can buy his big item.

  25. Diet Coke Addict*

    I spent the past two days driving (and got stuck in all the traffic from Cpl Cirillo’s repatriation procession for about 200km, including having the procession actually pass me and being a weepy mess) and I spotted the following custom car decal:

    “My wife and I have decided to work for ourselves because we don’t have time to BABYSIT employees who can’t be trusted to do their own work!”

    I am so desperate to know what the heck happened there, what the guy does, why he thought a custom car decal would be the best thing to do, and oh, so many more questions. SO many more questions. Almost as many questions as for the car with the “I [HEART] LEMURS” sticker.

    1. NOLA*

      I had a similar questions when I saw a car with a lot stickers proclaiming their love for giraffes. When did they spend enough time with giraffes (or maybe one particular giraffe) to decide that it is your favorite animal?

    2. Vancouver Reader*

      And how is that good for business? I think some opinions you keep to yourself and close friends and family. I can understand that some people don’t make good employees, but more often than not it’s a two way street.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        The whole time I was thinking “I would LOVE to know what that workplace was like and what Alison would say about this!” Because if the situation has broken down to car-decal-levels of idiocy, I tend to think there’s some blame on both sides of the coin.

    3. Stephanie*

      Man, that’s a lot to put on a decal. Also, seems like they’d want the business to be successful enough such that they’d need to hire employees?

    4. INTP*

      In an interesting plot twist, perhaps it was one of the psycho managers we’ve already heard about on AAM!

      You just know that it’s someone who has absurdly unrealistic expectations for employees, treats them like crap, and no matter how many employees quit or are fired, continues to believe that the problem is the inability of anyone on the planet to do work rather than his hiring practices or management.

    5. kas*

      I was stuck in traffic driving above the highway wondering what was going on until I realized it was the procession. Firefighters, police officers and people passing by pulled over to watch. First time seeing something like that, definitely emotional.

      But that really is an odd car decal.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        I am married to a soldier myself so I was a weepy mess for the majority of the trip. The turnout was absolutely insane–good, but tremendous. I can’t imagine what traffic was like in the local areas.

        1. Colette*

          They left Ottawa at one, and at eleven my coworkers and I were trying to figure out when they were leaving and what route they were taking, so I don’t think we had too many traffic problems. I suspect the other end was much worse, of course.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      I did some simple crochet work years ago, and I really enjoyed it. There’s a show on Create TV (a PBS channel on cable) called Knitting Daily. They also show crochet. You could check out their website sometime.

      Enjoy your handwork!

    2. CheeryO*

      Me too! I’ve knitted for a couple years, but I saw some cute amigurumi kits at Barnes and Noble and decided to give crochet a try. I’m finding it to be quite a bit harder than knitting! Gotta keep practicing.

      1. EG*

        I’ve crocheted since i was about 8. Tried knitting but it’s hard for me to master more than just plain knitting stitch back and forth. I’d love to learn more and follow patterns, but for now it just doesn’t work in my head.

  26. Erika*

    This may be too work-related for today, but I’ve just gotta let it out, and since I live and work in the same place, I’m going to go for it.

    I live and work on a campground. This was one of our busiest weekends of the year, and we started it off with a water main break and are ending it with a septic backup that needs to be pumped. On a Sunday morning in the Bible Belt.

    This will be a rough day.

  27. The Other Dawn*

    Awhile back I asked about how to paint wallpaper. I think I’ve decided that I’m going to be brave and keep it. It’s an OLD OLD house (1735) and the wallpaper is in decent condition. I’ve been researching how to hang art work/photos on wallpapered walls. I think I can make it work, although I really don’t have the money to spend on it right now. I think I’m going to shop around for things I like and just leave the walls bare for now. Can’t notice anyway because of the wallpaper.

    Anyone have any good links or ideas for hanging art/pics on wallpapered walls? I’d like to browse and get some ideas.

    1. Bea W*

      I’ve always just hung them the normal way, with nails / hanging hardware. What is tricky with old homes and hanging things is the horse hair plaster which can be crumbly if you’re not careful, and because of the lathe behind it, you can’t easily drive a nail in very far without messing it up. What I found I had to do is use those thin nails driven in at an angle, pointing up. I suspect the reason you see paintings suspended from the crown molding in very old homes is due to the plaster issue, especially for very large or heavy items. I didn’t have crown molding in my place, so that wasn’t an option.

      Of course using nails leaves holes in your wallpaper, but once you have hung things, it’s not likely you’ll move them very often, and because you have to use the thin nails, they’re really not that noticeable.

      1. Bea W*

        What works really well to support weight are the angled hooks. They have an angled hole for the small nail and a hook that comes down. You can buy picture hanging kits that come with a variety of hooks and nails and maybe some wire. For large items, you affix the wire to the back of the frame, and hang that on a couple of spaced hooks.

        Here is a link about the picture rails and hanging from crown molding. If you don’t have a rail, you could install your own and use hooks and wire to suspend the pictures.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      If you eventually decide to go with nailing hooks in the walls, first look at your wall paper pattern. I like to use the design to hide holes. For example, if I make a mistake with placement and decide I need to move the hook up higher. So I select a spot for where I think I want the hook. Then I narrow it down so that the nail goes into a dark line in the pattern or a complex part of the pattern. It’s an optical illusion of sorts. If you end up not using that hole, you really don’t notice it when you causally pass by it. Some patterns do not lend themselves well to this strategy. Other patterns are very easy to do this with.

  28. Rebecca*

    Does anyone else have issues with switching from standard time to Daylight Saving Time? I dread it. It’s bad enough that I don’t get home from work until after 5 PM, but for it to be dark almost immediately after makes me want to hibernate. Why can’t we leave the time set at Standard Time and be done with it? I confess that I leave my battery operated kitchen clock on Standard Time year around, because to me, that’s what time it really is.

    1. Elizabeth*

      It isn’t just you. Fall isn’t as bad as Spring, but I despise time change. It takes 10 days to 3 weeks to get acclimated. And none of the equipment I manage likes it, either. I can always count on something breaking that day.

      1. Bea W*

        Spring is worse for me, just because they moved it a month earlier from April to March, which means we go back to having sunrise after 7 AM, just like back in January. It’s a tough transition if you’re not a morning person.

        1. Bea W*

          Also – early March is still winter and well within the snow window. So it’s dark AND cold all over again, just like January.

    2. Trixie*

      No issue but I lived in AZ for five glorious years of not observing daylight savings. Love it, every year.

      1. Stephanie*

        Same! I don’t miss figuring out when the clock changes and all that. It is confusing if I’m scheduling calls with people in other time zones (“Wait…that wouldn’t be noon your time? I’m confused.”).

        1. the gold digger*

          I had dinner with a friend from my old job at SergioLand last night. You all remember Sergio, the Worst CEO in the World? Well, he was preceded by my other SL boss, Bud, who is not mean but is just clueless. As in, my friend was on a work trip to Singapore recently and Bud decided he had to talk to her. So he called her. Even though it was 2 a.m. Singapore time. He could not reach her via her cell, because she WAS SLEEPING because it was TWO A.M. So he called the hotel and got in via her hotel room phone. Woke her up and talked to her for an hour about something that should have been last fall when we did the budget.

    3. Bea W*

      Ugh yes. What’s worse is that every other week this month I have traveled between time zones. So I am dreading another time change. The only good thing about it is not waiting so long for the sun to rise. Our sunrise/sunset is now after 7 AM and before 6 PM. I have more trouble with dark first thing in the morning than I do with the early sunset. I’m a night owl type. Right now it is already dark when I get home from work at 6 and rapidly dimming when I leave the office at 5:15, so there’s no difference there for me. For the people who leave the office between 3 and 4 PM though, the change is always a bummer when sunset suddenly happens around 4:30.

      A somewhat related story. A friend who also lives on the east coast but further south was visiting me I think it was Feb, and made a remark about it being so dark so early and was that normal. I told her not only was that normal, but it was surprising to hear someone say that because the sun was setting after 5 PM at that point which was late for winter. We spend all of Nov-Jan with the sun down before 5 PM. :D

    4. Natalie*

      I seem to recall reading a few years ago that daylight savings time causes an increase in traffic accidents and other sleep-related negative outcomes.

      Personally, I think we should just switch to “summer time” all year round. We’re on “standard time” for less than half the year now in the US.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I hate time changes period, and I’m with you on the too dark too early front, but selfishly, I’m looking so forward to lighter mornings. Since we moved to the ‘burbs and streetlights are scarce, walking my pooch at 630am has been tough in the dark. I do love catching the sunrise, though.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        I hatehatehate seeing children standing outside in the dark waiting for their school buses. Especially out in the county, where there are very few street lights. I do see more parents parked at the end of the drive, with the kids in the car.

    6. Anx*

      I’m a horrible person and I get a bit gleeful.

      I am Not A Morning Person and my doctor thinks I may have DSPS. So there’s a bit of schadenfreude when I know other people are having issues with their schedule, because that’s about what life is like for me year round.

      Of course I don’t really want anyone to suffer or get into any accidents, but I just feel better knowing that fighting your biorhythms affects most humans and I’m not just really weak willed.

    7. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I adore Daylight Savings Time. Love it so much that I once planned an international trip around making sure that I’d be in the U.S. for the switch-over. I love having an extra hour to sleep in the first day (and really, it feels like it extends the whole week). Also, it’s like a quick switch into fall/winter, which I wait all year for, because fall and winter are The Best of all the seasons. So I say, embrace it! Embrace the idea of stews and hot beverages and wooly blankets and coziness. (I swear, I have the opposite of seasonal affective disorder — I think I get MORE happy in the fall/winter because of my love of the coziness.)

  29. Sunflower*

    I have a couple q’s so i’ll post separately- first is! a wedding question

    My sister is getting married at a venue that holds 220 people. When she picked it, she didn’t think their list would be over 200. The payment of the wedding is the couple pays 1/3, his parents pay a 1/3 and my parents 1/3. After her and fiance, his parents, and my parents made their list, it was at 280. My mother has 70 people on the list which is about a 1/3 of the list. My mother thinks she is allowed to invite every person on the list which includes cousins she never talks to besides at family reunions, family friends we were close with when we were younger but are not anymore and people that my sister just doesn’t even really know. My sister knows she has to invite some of my mom’s friends and there are some she totally understands being there but she’s at the point where she might have to cut her close work friends and friends she isn’t super close with but would really want to have there.

    My sister really wants me to talk to my mom ,esp since this will affect my wedding one day. What can I say to her to make her understand that this is NOT her wedding? Considering the payment set-up, is this fair?

    1. fposte*

      I can see where your mother might have thought that she and your dad got 1/3 of the places at the event if they were paying 1/3 (I’m assuming that your father doesn’t have additional people). Did your sister give them a number they were allowed to invite if that wasn’t your sister’s plan? If not, that’s where things went pear-shaped.
      Is your sister prepared to pick up the expense if your mom decides she’s not interested in hosting an event where she can’t invite who she wishes?

      Would you be talking to your mom *instead* of your sister, or are you weighing in judiciously on a subject that’s been going on for a while in hopes of providing an external perspective? If the first, I’d bow out, because it just sounds like more of the communication failure that may have caused this problem in the first place. And I wouldn’t weigh in with Mom unless I had a specific suggestion of what she should do here, which it sounds like sister hasn’t provided yet.

      Overall, it sounds like a problem of unstated expectations on both sides. Now, if your sister did tell your mother that she could only invite 40 or however many people and Mom agreed, you can go back to that agreement, but if
      Mom is only now hearing of the limits on the list, that’s going to be tough to negotiate, and sister needs to be thoughtful about changing the rules for Mom at this point. Is there a possibility of a party-in-honor later that would include all the relatives Mom pleases?

      1. Sunflower*

        yeah i think the issue was they never talked about numbers because my sister just couldn’t imagine the list would be bigger than the venue. She’s even said she should have made the firm list instead of ballparking the number before picking the venue. I don’t think my mom would ever threaten to pull her part of the expenses which almost makes it harder. I think I’m going to tell my sister, if I was her, this is what I would say to my mom and leave it at that. My mom thinks we gang up on her sometimes so I can see this conversation heading there real fast.

        1. fposte*

          Yeah, I would agree with that plan. Sister needs to own up to her mistake and not get you to run interference or add your weight to make her side seem more justified. Obviously there are all kinds of family dynamics, but I think a lot of moms would be pretty receptive to “Mom, I blew this part of the planning. Can you help me make this work?”

        2. Bea W*

          Take notes for your wedding. The size of the guest list seems to be one of those things that sneaks up on people. It seems to grow exponentially even when you know your limit.

    2. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

      Not your problem. Not your problem at all. This is the sort of interpersonal negotiation and lesson a wedding is supposed to teach people. Let her learn her lesson.

      Either your sister resolves this with your mom, or finds another location, or buckles down and calls people to see if they’ll come before sending the invites. Some people will travel great distances to come to a wedding because it’s in place of a family reunion, some won’t. But you know, 1/3 of the guest list is the sort of thing that seems fair. And if mom takes her money away, then just tell her you expect her to throw a family reunion with the cash in the next year and sister will wear her wedding dress.

    3. BRR*

      It’s tough because she’s paying for 1/3 of it. I think your sister just needs to ask (tell) your mom she needs to make some cuts. With family I try and go by general rules. I’m doing no cousins, which sucks because there are some I would love to invite and my finace isn’t close with all of his cousins but we just have to stick to the rule. It can also be tough if the family friends’ children invited your mom to their wedding. I know my mom is having that problem with my wedding but we’re having a much smaller wedding.

      1. fposte*

        The problem is that as an adult you really can’t just tell somebody they have to buy you exactly what you want. That way lies Bridezilla :-). Mom is not, on the face of Sunflower’s account, being unreasonable. I think Sister will have better luck keeping that in mind and approaching it as a mistake Sister made (which it sounds like she did) about not clearing up expectations, and would Mom be kind enough to help out now by giving sister more room on the guest list?

        1. BRR*

          By tell I was thinking more say with explanation, “I haven’t seen Jane or her family in over ten years, can we take her off the list.” That’s also how I personally can handle things with my family and others might not be the same. I think it goes back to your point on not setting up expectations. My expectation for a larger wedding was always to develop the guest list with my parents, not have them do their’s separately.

          I also am coming from the perspective of having a smaller wedding myself. My guest count was very limited to due budget. With no cousins and no family friends invited, there was never any invitee purgatory. We have a long wish list before getting to outliers.

          1. Windchime*

            BRR, your comment makes a lot of sense to sensible people. My mother is still upset that my son (her grandson) didn’t invite Mom’s sister (“Aunt Sherry”) to his wedding when he has met Aunt Sherry maybe once or twice in his entire life. My son was trying to have a very small wedding so I stuck to the “immediate family only” instructions that I was given. The bride’s family invited a lot more than the small group that our side invited, but I was trying to stick to the rules. Now my mother is all pissed off that this person who is a virtual stranger to my son wasn’t invited.

            Weddings bring out the worst in people.

            1. BRR*

              I agree they bring out the worst in people. I’m very happy with what I have planned but sometimes I just wish we went down to city hall or eloped to a fancy location. A lot of people are disappointed they weren’t invited and I’m disappointed they couldn’t be invited.

            2. Bea W*

              My mother, who divorced my dad many years prior, judged and whined when we (her children) were not invited to our cousin’s (on dad’s side) wedding. My dad had been invited, but he had also been involved in their lives regularly (more so than he was in our lives) where we hadn’t seen or talked to them in years. I wasn’t pissed off, and I hadn’t expected an invitation when I heard she was engaged, but my mother was sure pissed off. WTH?

              1. BRR*

                I feel like I’m a reasonable person and I’ve been getting upset at stuff when I shouldn’t take it personally. Weddings bring out the worst in a lot of people (myself included).

    4. Bea W*

      I don’t think you have to convince your mom it’s not her wedding, but that capacity is limited, 220 is a hard cap at the venue due to fire safety regulations (this is actually what the cap is) and unfortunately, everyone not just her will have to pare down their list because the *venue* limits how many people can be there. That puts the emphasis on there being a practical reason she has to trim her list down rather than something she can take personally. If you are splitting invites 1/3 to your parents and 1/3 to his parents and 1/3 to the couple, which seems fair due to the payment situation, give your mom a hard cap of 73 (or 70) people including all of the +1s. Some of the people your mom wants to invite may already be on your sister’s list as well, so those can come off mom’s list. Then mom can have a list of other people she’d like to invite if there is any space left.

      Are there people on that list you are 90% certain will not come? It may be safe to allow her those. You can actually ask her if there are people who she expects would not come but thinks it polite to send an invitation to anyway. This is a thing for some people, sending invitations to people who they know will not come, but expect an invitation out of politeness or social ritual.

      Sit with you mom and go through the list together, giving her a reality check on some of these people. “When was the last time you talked to Wakeen? 10 years ago? Since we can only invite 70 people, how about we focus on family and closest friends first, and if there is any space you can add Wakeen.

      There are always a number of people who won’t come, so you can invite more than 220 and be safe, but 280 is probably not a safe number. My sister was limited to 100 at her reception venue, and what she did was contact many people before formal invitations went out to get an idea of how many of the people she really wanted there most would actually attend. The other thing she ended up doing is deciding to not have children at the reception where she was limited to only 100, and many people had children (they had 6!). She arranged to have a separate space for children so that their adult friends and family could still attend and not have to decide between finding child care and not attending. Children were welcome at the ceremony but with so many people traveling a distance and staying overnight, not being able to have their children with them at the reception would have been the difference between attending and not attending. She did let all invited guests know about the space issue and encouraged them to RSVP as soon as possible so that they could extend additional invitations if it looked like enough people were unable to make it. She also prioritized immediate and close family, more an issue with the sleeping rooms at her venue which were very limited. She opened those up to family first, and once any family had booked reservations, the remaining rooms at the site were available for anyone else.

      Are the wedding and the reception being held in the same place? If you have a situation where the wedding ceremony itself is not limited to 220, you can consider inviting some people to the wedding ceremony only. That might be tricky. Some people could only make it for the ceremony but not the reception, and some local people were really only most interested in attending the important part and could take or leave the after party.

      Caveat: This is all hypothetical advice. I’ve never planned a wedding myself, and our dad had zero interest in being involved in the planning and invitations, so she only had to deal with her in-laws’ requests and not requests from both sides. It was also the second wedding for my sister and her fiance, so that probably took some of the drama down a notch, but I really have no idea. There were still a lot of things going on around invitations and space.

    5. The IT Manager*

      I don’t understand why this is a problem. It’s your sisters wedding not your moms. Why would your mom invite people that don’t know or aren’t close to your sister? Why is there even part of the guest list that is your “mom’s”?

      That said this is your sister’s problem to fix. Although you can learn from this.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Because lots of parents feel like the wedding is their party to show off what lovely people their kids have grown into, or an excuse for an extended family reunion. And if everybody has a different expectation for what the party will be, but those expectations aren’t stated out loud (as often happens)…boom, conflict, whether or not the people with the expectations are paying for any of it. (It is easier to say no if they aren’t, but that can still have long-term repercussions.)

        When I married my husband, I at least knew that my parents would want to invite their friends, because I was engaged before and was surprised by that demand (it was not really a request) the first time. (Didn’t go through with the wedding, but I had caved on the invitations by that point because my parents had written me a check and thus thought they were “paying for my wedding,” even though the check didn’t cover the majority of the costs.) So my now-husband and I refused to accept their money, in order to be able to tell them kindly but firmly that we were limiting the wedding to immediate family and our friends. And even though they had no reason to feel like they were footing the bill, we still got grief over it. People like family reunions, and a wedding is an excuse to have one without having to do the work of organizing it. Of *course* some parents are going to get pushy with that in mind!

        (Not to mention the parents who “keep score” — Susie Neighbor invited them to her daughter’s wedding, so now you just HAVE to invite Susie Neighbor to yours. Ugh.)

        1. Stephanie*

          My dad’s best friend invited our whole family to his daughter’s wedding. My dad went as the family representative as my mom and sister don’t really know the daughter, and I don’t get along with the daughter (we tried living together briefly when we were in the same city and it was a disaster). When I saw the family friend, he was like “Why weren’t you at Persephone’s wedding? Only your dad came!” I’m thinking “Er, we don’t get along? I wish her well, but it would have been awkward as hell to be at her wedding.” Then I realized my being invited was more to show off how nice a wedding and party they could throw.

        2. Sunflower*

          Yes to ALL of this. My sister obviously has no problems inviting my mom’s friends that she knows and have been a part of her life but it’s crazy that my sister will have to cut her closest work friends and people who genuinely want to be there just to accommodate my mom’s cousins that my mom has never picked up the phone to call on her own. She is worried about offending someone. Quite honestly, if it wasn’t for facebook, these people would never even know my sister was getting married!

          It’s not wonder that every day eloping sounds better and better when i get married

          1. Melissa*

            I had a small wedding planned in two weeks and my only regret was that more of my own close friends couldn’t attend. We’re planning on having a fifth anniversary party to celebrate with friends later. But I would do it the same way all over again, given the choice. Hearing stories from other friends’ planning processes just leads me to believe that the whole thing is a minefield I’d rather not entertain that brings out the absolute worst in people.

            I gotta say, though, my mom was cool as a cucumber during the whole thing. And his mom is a crazy planner, but that ended up being a net benefit.

    6. Graciosa*

      My main comment is that this should be (probably won’t be but still should be) negotiated without regard to payment. Whoever is the named host controls the guest list – traditionally the bride’s parents, but now possibly the couple, the future spouse’s parents, or both sets of parents together. This is a social event and not a community theater where certain levels of sponsorship are recognized by categories in the program and entitle you to X number of free tickets. Payment arrangements in the background are socially irrelevant, although I complete understand AdAgencyChick’s refusal to accept money for her wedding – it’s hard to take it and refuse the demands that come with it.

      I also completely agree that Sunflower should stay out of it. This is the couple’s first big test of how to act together as a couple, making joint decisions that impact their original families (especially on a ceremonial occasion), communicating them firmly but respectfully, and enforcing their boundaries as a newly autonomous unit. This is practice for years of arguments to come about who is where (perhaps one day with grandchildren) for what holiday.

      “Let’s just have Sunflower talk to Mom” is not an appropriate strategy for dealing with this. Help them find a better one by refusing to enable it.

      Good luck.

  30. Sunflower*

    Can anyone recommend a good beginners guide to cooking book? I’m not really looking for recipes, just looking for something that explains how to cut/prepare different foods, knives to use. Particularly I’m trying to find something that tells me what to add to what food when you feel like it’s missing something(does this make sense?)

    1. Stephanie*

      How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman is good for that. The authenticity of some of his ethnic recipes is questionable, but that’s a really good reference book. It has sections for types of produce and meats and how to shop for and prepare them, along with a couple of basic recipes.

      If you’re interested in the science of cooking and the why, anything from Cook’s Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen is great. Those books break down recipes and will explain why a cookie recipe needs cream of tartar (for example).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        How to Cook Everything is great, as is Joy of Cooking– gives you good reference material and the recipes are grouped by technique/method.

      2. AdAgencyChick*

        Love HTCE. Far and away the most food-splattered book in my (large) cookbook collection, an indicator of how often I use it. The vegetable section alone is worth the price of the book. I always turn to it when I have some veggies and I don’t want to put in a lot of thought but I want them to come out tasting good. (That being said, I do *not* recommend the HTCE Vegetarian book unless you eat a lot of grains, which I do not — I found that there wasn’t that much in the veg book that I wanted to make that wasn’t already in the main book.)

        There are lots of good meat recipes too, but the veg is what I find myself going back to again and again. Also Bittman’s great at providing several variations to most recipes — small ingredient tweaks that make a big difference — so you end up learning how changing the spices or protein in a dish affects the flavor. This has resulted in my being able to make quite a few things without a recipe, which I never used to be able to do.

    2. danr*

      Julia Child’s “Mastering the art of French cooking v 1” is very good. She leaves nothing to chance and explains every step. Once you make a few of her recipes you’ll get a feeling for how to cook and start adapting recipes to your own tastes. Also, Bon Appetit “Keep it simple” and America’s test kitchen “The complete cooking for two cookbook”. The ‘adding’ comes more naturally after you’ve been cooking for awhile after you know what your tastes are.

    3. jhhj*

      I second Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything or the vegetarian version. It has recipes, and a lot of here’s what you could add info, suggestions — it’s a great basic cookbook/advice book.

    4. Trixie*

      I’m a big fan of Alton Brown’s good eats which is now available on Netflix, entertaining and educational.

      I’m also pretty addicted to Cook’s Illustrated magazines from the library which I find easy to absorb in small dose than a huge cookbook. Same folks produce America’s Test Kitchen which is online or your local PBS station. Great videos, recipes, equipment/product reviews, etc.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      How Cooking Works by Sylvia Rosenthal and Fran Shinagel. You will have to purchase it used. Worth the effort to find it. I hate books that say “do this, then do that” it feels like marching orders. I want to know why it needs to be done this way or that way. This book helps to explain the chemistry/ science behind cooking. But you don’t need to be a scientist to read it- you just need to be interested in the subject. I like to alter recipes so I like to learn how to swap out ingredients, this book helps with understanding how to do that, too.
      Once in a while I see it at libraries so you might be able to preview it. Prices vary widely so look around before purchasing. I bought one copy was twice as expensive as the second copy I got.

    6. soitgoes*

      Buzzfeed has a lot of good list-articles about slow-cooker recipes and whatnot. I like those types of recipes because they give you a feel for how the flavors come together. There’s also a loooooot of leeway for fixing mistakes. You can add more water or salt or vegetables at pretty much any point if you don’t like how things are going.

      You could also ask questions at restaurants, if you feel comfortable doing that. I learned to cook by trying to mimic my favorite menu items, and sometimes you have to flat-out ask where a certain flavor is coming from.

    7. Lizzie*

      BudgetBytes is an amazing cooking blog with tons of cheap, easy recipes. Literally everything I cook is from that site. Last night we made slow cooker jerk chicken and coconut rice, and I just pulled a pan of “funky monkey” baked oatmeal (bananas, coconut, and chocolate chips) out of the oven.

    8. Blue_eyes*

      Check out the blog thekitchn. They just had a 20 day “cooking school” where they gave the basics about how to prepare lots of different food groups (meat, seafood, grains, eggs, vegetables, etc). They also have lots of recipes and articles on how to adjust flavors. From my own experience and reading, when you feel like your food is missing something, it almost always needs salt or acid (lemon juice, vinegar, etc). Salt enhances flavors and reduces bitterness and acids brighten a dish. There are five basic flavors – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami – and you want to balance them in a dish. You might enjoy the book The Flavor Bible – rather than recipes, it is basically a giant index of food ingredients and what other foods taste good with them.

  31. Trixie*

    Does anyone else keep a list of things they’re going to do, either when employed again or finances are better? Kind of a bucket list but more for practical, immediate things. Mine includes:
    -anything to do with health insurance (dental stuff, vision stuff, check-ups)
    – a few quality toiletries/clothing items/shoes/cute winter or fall layers
    -some TLC on senior cat (teeth cleaning, check-up)
    -affordable massage
    -car TLC
    -favorite healthy foods
    -regular donations to local food bank or shelter
    -visit friends I haven’t seen for years
    -weekend yoga retreat

    1. Stephanie*


      Off the top of my head:
      -New bras
      -Regular frivolous self-care things like regular eyebrow maintenance (they’re ok if I don’t do anything, but they look amazing if I get them threaded), manicure/pedicures (I don’t have the patience to break out cuticle nippers and pumice stones myself), etc
      -Also visit some friends I haven’t seen in a while
      -More international travel (I’ve only been outside of North America twice)
      -Maaaaybe Invisalign? I had braces as a teen and my teeth are still fairly straight, but they’ve shifted some. (It’s one of those things that bugs me, but that no one notices until I point it out.)
      -Fix my cello up (it needs some expensive TLC like a rehaired bow and new strings)

      1. Anx*

        I want my teeth cleaned because my mom keeps giving me a hard time about it, but every dentist insists on a full exam with X-rays first.

        Dear dentists:

        Holding my teeth cleaning hostage until I get the full workout won’t pressure me into taking good care of my teeth. It means every time I have an extra 150 dollars I will spend it before I can save up enough for the whole whammy, and 5 years will go by.

        Does anyone know how to get your teeth cleaned without getting X-rays?

        1. Trixie*

          Are you near a tech school/community college, often their senior students work in school clinics. Real bargain. Sometimes I also see specials/discounts on LivingSocial or groupon.

        2. Stephanie*

          Hrm, honestly I wouldn’t skimp on the x-rays. Those can spot a lot, including the start of cavities and or root damage. Better they identify it early and give you some preventative care (like an Rx toothpaste) than wait until it’s more serious.

          Are you near a dental school? If you don’t mind being the students’ guinea pig and having four people examine your mouth, you can get dental work done cheaply. It does take a little longer since they’re less experienced and you’ll have lots of people examining you (the student himself, his faculty supervisor, other students who want to observe), but that’s a way to get low-cost dental care.

          1. Anx*

            I am. And I don’t WANT to skimp on the X-rays, I’d just like to be able to get my teeth cleaned while I save up.

            The dental clinic also makes you get your X-rays, unfortunately, and those are still quite expensive because a lot of the cost there is in the equipment, not just the labor. So the discount doesn’t help too much.

            I’m just thinking that years of skipping cleanings can’t be better for you than getting an X-ray. Especially since I know I have problems from previous X-rays, like my wisdom teeth.

            1. fposte*

              Can you put aside the cleaning money twice a year and then go when you’ve saved up enough for a full appointment? I know it’s frustrating in the mean time, but I think that’s the best way to break the stalemate.

              1. Anx*

                Theoretically, yes.

                But while I save, there will always be something that comes up that is more urgent, like rent or student fees, or travel money, or a car repair, etc. Which is way I just want to spend the money on a cleaning as soon as I can.

                Which is what happens every time I put the money aside. The teeth always end up taking a back seat. And yes, I know I’m not truly putting money aside if I go to that account when something comes up. But something will undoubtedly come up between saving 200 and 400 dollars. It always does (and of course I could skip a few meals out or meals in general, not buy dish soap or make up brushes or shampoo and other little luxuries, but to be honest my teeth don’t matter enough to me to do it; it’s short sighted but sometimes I need to break out of survival mode and into living mode to keep my spirits up and date night seems more important than white teeth after awhile)

                I am on a weird pay schedule now, so I might have more luck saving because I get fewer, larger paychecks. I also could look into getting a personal loan once I pay my current one off. I will have cracked into the 1000’s of dollars this year so I know I should be able to find money here and there, but I’ve gone a little overboard on groceries this fall. I’ve started a new job and am taking 20 credits (and I’m a slow reader/writer) so I’ve kind of put budgeting stuff on hold and gotten lazy and succumbed to having enough food in the house to not have to micromanage meals because I get really anxious and distracted otherwise.

                I’m pretty annoyed at my boyfriend because he let our cable service resume when it was scheduled to before I took care of these things.

        3. Bea W*

          Can you refuse? Will they allow you to opt out of xrays? Can’t they just do the cleaning without taking the xrays? It’s not like they need xrays to clean your teeth. It’s a useful diagnostic tool to catch issues that aren’t apparent on visual inspection, but they aren’t used for *cleaning*.

          1. Trixie*

            I think we can refuse more often than we realize, especially for lighter stuff like cleaning. More complicated procedures are different. My scientist mother is very touchy about this, techs taking x-rays out of habit more than need. They’re not 100% harmless as we’re so often lead to believe so yes needed but not willy nilly.

            1. Anx*

              My mom is very much not a scientist, but she’d be annoyed when we went to the dentist as kids because they’d X-ray us more frequently than she thought was necessary and did so when she said please not to unless ‘absolutely necessary.’ And it seemed to always be absolutely necessary every time, but how could it be every 6 months to a year?

          2. fposte*

            My suspicion is that they don’t want to lean hard with metal implements into teeth they don’t know the full story of, but maybe we have somebody with actual dentistry experience here who has more information.

          3. Anx*

            I think I’ll try again, and see if I can refuse. Perhaps there’s a liability issue, but I think it’s probably medical gatekeeping. It reminds me of refusing birth control prescriptions to people until they get their pap smears.

            I’ll try to explain my situation and let them know that while I do want X-rays performed, my priority is getting a cleaning and that the additional requirement has contributed to me putting off the procedure for a few years. At the very least I’d be curious to know what their rationale at that point would be for maintaining their position.

              1. Melissa*

                Really? The vast majority of ob/gyns won’t prescribe birth control to a person unless she’s had a gynecological exam in the past year and/or a Pap smear in the last 2 years (2 years since they changed the medical recommendations – it used to be annually). It’s super frustrating especially if you move a lot and can’t get medical records every time, or are a student or low on funds and need to pay exorbitant fees for the exam before they give you the BC.

                1. Anx*

                  Yea. I’ve had friends with prescription drug plans have to lapse with their BC because they couldn’t afford the exam. They had no copays but still could not afford it for a few months.

            1. Treena Kravm*

              Usually you can work out a payment plan, with no interest. If you say, I want a full cleaning, and I can pay for that upfront, but if you insist on x-rays, then I’ll need to make installment payments

        4. Not So NewReader*

          That is so bogus. I don’t know if finding a different dentist is an option but please keep an eye out for that opportunity. I would just tell him “I will be coming here less often then, because I cannot afford xrays each time I come.” The I would shrug as if to say it did not matter to me.
          I really hate doctors like that. I have had some insist on xraying me all the time and I have told them no. I listen to their lecture and tell them no again. Some people you have to tell them 2 or 3 times.

    2. fposte*

      I love lists like candy, so I have lists for everything. My version of this is more like a blend of order of operations and New Year’s resolutions. Which of the long-term goals am I trying to make short-term goals? What can I afford to do on the house this year? What can I do (like getting estimates) that is progress but not an actual expense? How much would it cost if I finally rationalized my tech rather than having a motley crew of legacy phone and cable habits?

      I can’t dive right in and do *anything*, so this is the only way I get life changes done–I plan the steps and slowly execute them.

    3. Anx*

      -getting my teeth cleaned/examined
      -wisdom tooth extraction (this is more a bucket list type thing, but some months my period is unbearable because of the wisdom teeth and it jumps up in priority)
      -getting the car a tune up
      -getting the cat to a vet for a check up
      -getting new glasses or an eye exam
      -getting boots and coats repaired
      -a comfortable desk chair (pipe dream)
      -a new computer
      -visit family
      -stock the pantry during those really good sales
      -go to the local businesses I really like before they go out of business (I always get sad when a shop closes but I never had the chance to buy anything)
      -a new pair of jeans
      -a comforter/warmer blanket
      -storage furniture

      and recently crossed off:
      – new bras
      – office supplies

    4. Liz in a Library*

      Oh yeah. I left my job semi-recently to deal with some health things, and while it has given me the time to take care of the things I needed to, I can really relate to the making lists, since our income halved when that happened.

      -Eleventy billion home projects that are just waiting for the cash, and some of those are more immediate than others. Really need to paint the exterior and do some repair to the wood stuff that goes right under the roof (whatever that is). That’s number one for sure.
      -New clothes that don’t have holes or stains
      -New bras that actually have a shape
      -Pay off debt–we have so much of it due to a ginormous home repair a few years ago that basically involved rebuilding a quarter of the house
      -Visit friends abroad
      -Start cooking again where the main goal is cooking what tastes good instead of what’s inexpensive
      -Waaaaay at the bottom of the list. I want to buy a theremin. :)

    5. Blue_eyes*

      – take a honeymoon! I was working as a teacher when we got married and couldn’t take time off then. Now it’s a year later, and we’re both underemployed so I want to wait until we have more stability before we take a honeymoon.
      – dental cleaning
      – home upgrades (new rug and lamps for the living room)
      – be entirely financially independent from our parents

      1. Melissa*

        We also didn’t take a honeymoon. We were both students so we were broke, but we also got married at the end of August, which probably isn’t the best time to get married and honeymoon for students lol. I was a little jealous of two close friends (both employed) who got married two years after us over the summer and were able to take a honeymoon, because it sounds like such a nice thing.

  32. Anonyby*

    Any tips for being able to let go of things stressing me out? Or at least to shelve them until I can (if I can) do anything about them?

    For instance, Thursday night I was exchanging emails with my Dad, and he mentioned something related to the upcoming move that stressed me out (stress is on a hairtrigger for me when it comes to this move). It took me an hour to get to sleep, when I had been ready to drop before I saw that email. And for me, an hour when I’m stressed is really fast! A couple weeks before I spent several nights in a row not getting any sleep because I was so stressed. I kept running through what was going on and arguments in my head over and over and nothing was drowning them out. Then the next day at work it kept popping up into my head. It was increasing my stress levels and stealing energy from me that I needed to put to other things, when there was nothing I could do at that time about it (I’d need to talk to my dad face-to-face to get it resolved, and even that probably won’t do a lot).

    Is there any way to banish these thoughts when they’re doing me no good?

    1. Trixie*

      Some kind of conversation with your dad sounds like a good first step. No blaming or attacking or getting defensive, just acknowledging the situation from both sides. Remember you both care, and just want the best outcome.

      Exercise, sometimes really hard to get adrenaline and endorphins going. Maybe some kind of relaxation music at night. And when you do stress, maybe give yourself a time limit (5-15minutes) and then move on to something else. Instead of focusing on the stressor, realize you’re spending mental and emotional energy on something that won’t’ change the longer you stress.

      1. Anonyby*

        Part of the problem is that the earliest I can talk to him is tomorrow–my schedule is just too full.

        Sadly, my favorite exercises are unavailable right now (no pool for swimming, and my bike isn’t in usable shape. My uncle’s working on a new one for me, but it’s not finished yet).

        I tried to do some meditating to get back to sleep…but that failed spectacularly. I’ve trained myself to be able to have thoughts running while doing repetitive tasks (which is handy when you’re spending hours stuffing envelopes) and that’s coming back to bite me in the butt for attempts at meditation. Reading a very distracting story I’ve read many times before worked better, but I was still getting ‘breakthroughs’ even with that. :( I already realize that I’m spending too much mental/emotional energy on this, which is why I’m asking.

    2. Sunflower*

      Exercise- especially yoga. I’m a little to anxious for regular yoga but I’ve tried yoga for runners and that helps. My therapist keeps pushing me to yoga since she thinks it will take my anxiety levels down.

      Also, attack the problem if possible. Talk to you dad. Write down what you want to say without accusing or blaming – starting with ‘i feel….’ is good for this.

      Sometimes it just helps to lay or sit down and just breathe. It’s hard to turn your mind off of it but just breathe and ask yourself ‘what can I do, now, to fix this’. Sometimes it’s talking to someone, sometimes its writing out your feelings in a journal. Just try to keep your thoughts from running into each other.

      1. Anonyby*

        I haven’t had time to talk to Dad, not in person. And even when I do… trying to talk to him about certain topics (which sadly includes the one I’m stressing about) is like trying to talk to a brick wall.

        I was trying to lay down and breathe slowly Thursday night. I was counting my breath…but that’s too simple and repetitive to distract me when my brain is whirling at ten thousand mph (as it does when I’m stressed, and other times). I start thinking about other things without even realizing what I’m doing, without missing a beat with my breath-counting. It’s a handy trick when doing repetitive tasks at work (so I don’t get bored silly stuffing envelopes, for instance), but it’s not good when you’re trying to clear your mind.

        1. fposte*

          This sounds like CBT/mindfulness training stuff. (And a little bit of self-discipline on not reading emails before bed :-).) Recommendations I’ve heard are for Jon Kabat-Zinn’s material and for the online MoodGYM program (just search for that and you’ll find it).

          To be honest, I’m more likely to divert and drown out than discipline myself–redirect to something absorbing so that’s the last “taste” before bed, maybe do something physical to soak up the adrenaline spill, and focus on planning something I like, so it’s a thought I find genuinely engaging.

          1. Anonyby*

            As far as the email before bed… I had just brought in the day’s mail and saw an extremely time-sensitive piece of mail for him and was trying to coordinate him picking it up (it has warnings on it to respond in 5 days, only to be opened by the addressee, fines for obstruction of delivery that I Do Not want to get hit with). He brought up the part that stressed me out during an unrelated conversation.

            1. fposte*

              Yeah, sometimes there’s no getting around it. But maybe it would have been okay to wait until the morning on that one, too. It really wouldn’t be obstructing delivery.

              1. fposte*

                Expanding on this a little–while I obviously don’t know exactly what was in this particular mail and what your relationship with your dad is, I find my “must deal immediately!” impulse is pretty closely related to the “can’t turn off!” problem, and breaking the frenzy can be helpful with both of them. Stuff can be responsibly dealt with other times than right now, and the action chain can be paused at a number of stops–you could plan to email your dad the next day, or you could email him in the evening to let him know and then shut the phone/computer off until the next morning and do your responses then. You’re not going to be able to control your dad, so maybe trying some mindfulness on the response urgency could be helpful in controlling your side.

          2. Trixie*

            This. Its not easy right off the bat, takes practice on all fronts. If its hard to do on my own, I like following kind of a guided relaxation/meditation type thing. But its still a matter of practice (for all of us) to slow down the “monkey chatter” enough to focus on breathing.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah a brain in panic will think through several thoughts at one time. I learned this when I fell off a bike at 60 mph. As I slid along, I was thinking three or four thoughts through to their natural conclusion at the same time.

          So what to do.
          Consider herbal teas.
          Consider going to the health food store and looking at products that help with calming. If you can, ask at the counter what are people saying works good on a racing and tired mind.
          And finally, when you are laying there in bed, with your brain racing onward, make lists of things you are grateful for. If you lose track of your list, just say “oh yeah, I was making a list of things I am grateful for” and go back to it.
          This works on two levels. One it gives you something to do. Two it is reassurance for yourself. That racing mind is a bunch of doubt/upset/fear. The way to combat those emotions is to think about what is RIGHT in your life.

          I hope you laugh here: One night it took me two hours to get home from work. The snow was so heavy I could not see the hood ornament on my old car. I was out beyond scared. Then I was scared that my fears would break my concentration. I started making lists of things I was grateful for. Well it was two hours, so I was thinking of things such as “I am grateful for the engineers that KNOW how to make a good car heater. I am grateful for the people who installed this great car heater in MY car.” On and on I went.
          I made it home. I have never had such a bad experience since that one and I still have no idea how I got home safely.

    3. Graciosa*

      There are a lot of good suggestions here. If you’re worrying about something specific, I would keep a pencil and pad next to the bed and write it down. It is then dealt with (at least as much as it can be at that hour), and you’re not going to forget it.

      I had a period where I could never seem to get to sleep the night before traveling – I kept worrying about remembering everything I needed to do in the morning. Writing it down really helped.

    4. HR Manager*

      Meditation is an excellent way to relieve stress and to learn about focusing in-the-moment. I know meditation has these connotations of new age, spiritual, and often hokey stuff, but even just learning the basics of how to calm your mind and focus on your breathing is a terrific skill set that I would recommend this to everyone. More importantly, it works and there has been some scientific support touting the benefits of meditation.

  33. Anx*

    I have a technical question:

    I have a Macbook that I got in summer of 2008. It’s a white plastic body one before they temporarily went to aluminum.

    Here’s the spec info:
    Model Name: MacBook
    Model Identifier: MacBook4,1
    Processor Name: Intel Core 2 Duo
    Processor Speed: 2.4 GHz
    Number Of Processors: 1
    Total Number Of Cores: 2
    L2 Cache: 3 MB
    Memory: 4 GB
    Bus Speed: 800 MHz
    Boot ROM Version: MB41.00C1.B00
    SMC Version (system): 1.31f1
    Serial Number (system): W88350640P5
    Hardware UUID: DEEA9F4C-B090-5833-99A5-8FE33FCEDC8A
    Sudden Motion Sensor:
    State: Enabled

    The OS is 10.5. 8. Firefox and Safari won’t run anymore. I can’t download a new firefox. I can’t dl Chrome or Opera.

    How can I get the internet fully functional? I’d had difficulty with my online classes in the past few weeks and about two weeks ago Tumblr stopped working altogether.

    (I am loathe to put too much money into a 6 year old computer, so I’m hoping there’s a free solution).

    1. Trixie*

      Are you anywhere near an Apple store/genius bar? I have two older macs, one of which they were able to help by wiping the hard drive and reinstalling from scratch.

      1. Anx*

        Unfortunately the nearest Apple store is an hour and a half away. There is a Best Buy, nearby, though.

        What did they have to reinstall? The OS itself?

        1. Trixie*

          Yes, we tried upgrading to Leopard and we skipped versions or something so it was causing problems. Anyway, I drove 30 to nearest Apple Store, waited a bit, plugged in, and went from there. Ditto to what someone else said, hopefully everything is already backed up. If not, you may have to choose. I never found Best Buy to be as helpful, and would make the 1.5 hour drive. Make a day of it while you’re there to make it worthwhile.

    2. Mister Pickle*

      Based on the specs you gave, you’re at OS X 10.5.8 aka “Leopard”. There is some Mac software that simply checks the OS level and stops working if the OS is too back-level (a practice that I have ‘issues’ with, but n/m).


      Long story short: I suspect you need to upgrade your operating system to at least 10.6.8 “Snow Leopard”. I think that this will cost you $20 – you can look here:

      for details. In general, Google is your friend here – there is a lot of content out there on OS X versions and upgrades.

      If you want to be bold, you can attempt to upgrade to 10.9 “Mavericks”. The latest OS X is 10.10 “Yosemite” and I’m not sure that you necessarily want to attempt to upgrade to that – given its newness, there may be ‘issues’ – but if you want to give it a shot, there are instructions here:

      Again: back your stuff up. OS X Mavericks and Yosemite are free, but you’ll need to drop $20 to upgrade to OS X Snow Leopard before you can take advantage of those free upgrades.

      Finally: do you have a local friend who is really into computers? If so – I’d advise trying to get them to help you in person.

      1. Melissa*

        I just upgraded to Yosemite and I have had significantly fewer problems post-upgrade than I had with Mavericks. Mavericks was awful; I feel like it took them forever to work out the kinks. Yosemite, though, had the benefit of the public beta and I think that helped things a whole lot.

    3. fposte*

      What do you mean by “won’t run anymore”–what happens when you try to launch them? Have you tried running Firefox with all extensions turned off? Have you tried just reinstalling Firefox? Have you tried doing a clean reinstall of the OS? By “can’t download” do you mean you can’t install applications or none of your software will actually download anything either?

      Is this true in all locations you’ve tried your computer (in other words, not just on your home network)? Have you tried connecting via Ethernet to see if that makes a difference? Do you have any internet-dependent applications that *are* working?

      I have a similar vintage MacBook running 10.5.8 and it can Firefox to the Internet okay, so there’s nothing prohibitive in your setup.

      1. Anx*

        When I launch Tumblr, I get a message up top telling me to update my firefox, but firefox won’t update because my OS X is too old. I get about 10 posts on my dash and I can’t scroll further than that. I cannot post, like, reblog, or use the search feature or track my tags.

        My Course connect subscription for one of my text books is incredibly slow now. It takes about 4 seconds for each question to load, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but it really adds up and is frustrating. I’m not longer getting all of my email messages on Moodle, either.

        I think it’s one of those things where you just hit a wall one day. I think I was on borrowed time for quite a bit. Tumblr especially affects users at different times; I know I sometimes see changes weeks or months after other users start talking about them.

        So the internet does run, but I have issues with individual websites (including this one at times). I’m also having issues with plug-ins and flash, which is affecting the presentations I like to make at my job (they aren’t required).

        1. fposte*

          What version of Firefox are you running? There might be something more recent (if unsupported) that you could find that would work better with Tumblr. Ditto Chrome and Opera–you don’t have to download the most recent version.

          I’m with Mr. Pickle in thinking a straight out OS upgrade is probably the simplest thing here, though.

          1. Miki*

            I have the same computer you’re talking about: I finally bit the bullet a month ago and bought the new MacPro Book.

  34. AcademicAnon*

    This is more a vent, but I am behind in everything – house cleaning, laundry, and especially work. A large part of that is between me and my spouse we’ve had 5 people die in the last 6 months, including some close family members, and I don’t think we’re done with the funerals for this year even. I am SO not motivated to do anything, especially the work I am majorly behind in.

    1. danr*

      BTDT… just keep up with the laundry, minimal housecleaning and work. Take time for quiet meals. Remember to breathe.

    2. littlemoose*

      I am so sorry to hear that. Is it feasible for you to hire a house cleaner, even just once? In stressful circumstances like these when you just can’t do everything, the peace of mind might be worth the money.

      And if the money’s not there for that, then just cut yourself a break. I think it’s okay to do the bare minimum at home when you have such overwhelming things going on at work and in your personal life. I know it may be bothersome that the house isn’t in great shape, but you can only do so much. If that’s the area that slides for a little while, so be it.

    3. fposte*

      I’m so sorry–that sounds like a rough time. I will second the notion of lowering expectations wherever possible for a while. You can outsource a lot of home stuff if your budget can handle it–cleaning services, carry out and delivery food, laundry services, yard services, etc.

      And I totally hear you on the fact stuff gets more offputting the more behind it is. Is there anything on that list that can just be dumped for statute of limitations reasons, or that you can pass on to somebody else?

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      Sorry for your losses. I think the idea of hiring a cleaning crew, even just once to do a deep clean for you and then you can do the maintenance work after which won’t seem as daunting. And remember to take care of yourself first.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      The advice here is right on the money.
      Downshift. Make it your priority to have good healthy meals, clean clothes and keep the bills paid. That’s it.
      And please, look into grief counseling or a grief support group. This is not as horrid as it sounds. The first time you go will be the worst. After that you will probably want to go. You will be around gentle people who are speaking gently. It will be a safe place.

      I am sorry for your losses.

    6. Buu*

      Totally get that, I’m sorry for your losses. I recommend the unfuck your habitat blog and app. They advocate chores in short bursts with rests 10 min cleaning 10 min rest). I also agree that if you can afford it getting in some pros to catch you up might be worth it. Also consider taking that excess laundry to a laundrette, if you go off peak you can snag a super big washing machine and get it done in bulk.

    7. Graciosa*

      I’m definitely in agreement with hiring help if you need it and can afford it. You need to give yourself a break. My record (I hate saying that – what a record) was three deaths in the same period and I was at my limit. The smallest demands from any source at all – work, family, friends – just grated on me. It was taking everything I had to manage what I could, and there was nothing left. Allow yourself to feel this way without guilt.

      Do talk to your boss (and possibly some of your co-workers) about your situation and ask for help. Anyone with a shred of humanity will completely understand why you’re not working at peak efficiency right now and be happy to help out. You are also probably overestimating the difficulty others would have in completing certain tasks that right now seem overwhelming to you (and are overwhelming because of the stress you’re under). The added stress of knowing you are behind and the time you put into worrying about it is an additional stress you just don’t need. Don’t allow guilt to stop you from getting help with work you would normally take care of yourself – there is nothing normal about your life right now and there is no shame in admitting it.

      Allowing others to help can be a gift to them too – most people want to, but don’t know what they can do.

      This can apply with respect to your personal chores as well. All those people wanting to know what they can do to help you in your time of loss? Ask if they would mind helping you catch up on cleaning or yard work for an hour or two one Saturday. Get a few friends together and make a sort of a party out of it (think barn raising or quilting bee). The traditional saying is that “Many hands make light work” and it really applies here.

      The other option is to let it all go for some period of time (like a long weekend) that won’t do permanent damage to your life. Stay home and wallow without guilt – make the house worse if you want to. Indulge in movie marathons while eating junk food in your pajamas – or just leave town altogether. This can be kind of cathartic under the right circumstances – like crying when you’ve been fighting too long to hold it in. You only get past it after you go through it.

      Above all, be kind to yourself.

    8. AcademicAnon*

      Thanks for all the replies. I was going to hire a relative to come and clean the house and yard, as even though he’s a male teenage he is very good at house/yard work but he’s decided lately to go bad kid route of skipping school and hanging out with the bad crowd because “juvie isn’t that bad” (exact words I heard from him). Sigh.

      1. EG*

        My almost 13 year old step son has started the same, skipping school and saying “juvie can’t be that bad”. In for a rude awakening if he isn’t helped by everything his family is trying.

        1. EG*

          Sorry, forgot to say that I added that because it’s nice to hear that it’s not just my step son, although it feels like he’s suddenly out of control and we’re helpless since my husband’s ex doesn’t really communicate what’s going on which leaves my husband poorly informed for the alternate weekends that stepson is here.

  35. INTP*

    HabitRPG users – what do you do about your dailies and stuff when you’re sick or otherwise can’t do your dailies?

    If I’m just super busy, I don’t cheat and die if I must, though I usually just buy health potions to prevent that. But I died due to not doing any of my dailies for a couple of days because I’ve been sick and was resting instead (side note: my 12 hours of sleep last night were glorious). I went into the settings and gave myself back all of my gold but it felt like cheating somehow. So now I’m wondering what other people do – give yourself back your levels and gold if you die? Check things off even if you aren’t doing them? Just die and give up all your gold?

    1. Anonyby*

      There’s a ‘hotel’ that you can check into to buy you some time. It’s meant for vacations and sick days, when you can’t do anything on the list. :)

  36. Gene*

    OK, Since we seem to have some World of Warcraft players here, let’s start an AAM guild. To that end I’ve created a Yahoo Group so we can get started. Join it at the below link. This is a Restricted Group, so all members need approval and the general public is limited on what they can see.

    The first decisions:
    PvE or PvP?
    Which faction?

  37. Kay*

    So I have a grammar question. I went to a memorial service for a distant relation and I said “Ruth has a lot of pictures of her grandson”. Would it be more grammatically correct to say “Ruth had…” since Ruth is no longer with us or “Ruth has..” because the pictures are still around?

    1. Mister Pickle*

      A very wise friend of mine one told me “You can be right, or you can be kind”.

      I’m not certain what would be “right” in this situation, but I think “Ruth has” is the kind way to phrase it.

  38. Lulubell*

    Just feeling sad after coming from an amazing wedding with some of my closest friends. I am so tired of being the only single one, always, as I haven’t had a relationship last longer than six months in over ten years. I’m tired of worrying about how I am going to get to the venue by myself, who I will sit with, will I be the only one not slow dancing, will I cry at the ceremony not out of joy but self-pity/longing, who will sit with me at breakfast the next day. Not all of these issues happened last night, as I am close enough with these people to not feel uncomfortable about being a third or fifth wheel, but I can’t help but feel like the sad single friend all time. I know relationships and marriages aren’t perfect and the rest of my life – job, apartment, friends – is fantastic, but weddings have a way of bringing out my worst insecurities. I’ve done online dating, I’ve done set ups, I’ve done therapy. It just hasn’t happened and I feel like everyone secretly must wonder “what’s wrong with her?”. Gah.

    1. littlemoose*

      I have so, so been there, and I commiserate. Maybe it helps to know that most people are not thinking that or even noticing your singleness at weddings, really. I think back at the weddings I’ve attended as part of a couple, and single guests (whether friends or strangers) never stood out to me. And I’ve never had those “what’s wrong with her/him, why are they still single?” thoughts about any of my friends, even when I was convinced they were thinking that about me.

      I know it is tough when you attend a million weddings while single. I acknowledge that it sucks and I think your feelings are totally understandable. As long as you don’t let it poison your relationships with your married/coupled friends or overtake your overall life perspective (which it doesn’t sound like it is, given your mention of many other things going well in your life), I think it’s okay to accept that this is just a tough thing for you to deal with right now.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Since you have covered most angles on this one, why not consider going to less weddings? There is no law saying you have to go. Since they are a form of torture for you, why not decide to go to every other one, or only certain people, or whatever.

      I think if your friends and family knew you were this upset they would not want you to go through it. You can visit people at their homes after the wedding.

      1. Lulubell*

        These are all weddings of my close friends. I wouldn’t ever want to miss their big day. If these were random work people or distant relatives, I would likely skip it, but these people are worth the effort.

    3. Melissa*

      Seconding that I never think “what is wrong with her” about my single friends. On the contrary, I always think that my single friends are simply so awesome that nobody who has matched their awesomeness has managed to come along yet, and I bet that your friends think the same thing about you.

      But to that end, for the weddings that you really want to attend – can you team up with friends who are also going and travel together? My husband and I rented a car to drive to our last wedding and we drove along with a friend who was single (who also sat at our table). And although some might think it’s rude, but these days I don’t think there’s a problem with gently/politely/nicely inquiring as to who the bride and groom have sat you with, if you are very close to one or both. One of my single friends politely asked not to be placed at a “singles’ table,” which I think is a horrible thing (thankfully so did our bride and groom friends).

      And personally, I’d skip the morning-after brunch. I always thought that was a weird thing.

      1. Lulubell*

        Yes, I totally join friends when I can for a ride – it just makes me feel like a child in the backseat! And I usually sit with them at brunch, too; but by then is when I start feeling like a hanger-on and wish I just had my own partner. I have skipped out on brunch before. I’ve been very lucky and these are all good problems to have; just feeling sorry for myself. Fortunately I don’t have any more weddings to attend anytime soon!

  39. Anon to the mous*

    Thoughts of moving into an apartment next to a cemetery? Everything about the apartment/area is perfect except the view…

    1. Clerica*

      I like cemeteries, so this would be great for me. It’s better than a lot of things you could be looking out at, and there will never be parties or construction going on from that corner.

      Sometimes I visit them if it’s a nice day so I can read. It’s more peaceful than a park.

      I never said I was normal.

      1. Sadsack*

        There’s an old, scenic cemetery nearby where we go walking on occasion. It is peaceful and pretty. I’d much prefer living right next to it than where I currently live with my loud-mouth neighbor and his dumb dogs.

    2. Noah*

      Add me to the weird group I guess. I like cemeteries. They’re peaceful, quiet places. My mom is a hospice nurse though, so I grew up with the viewpoint that death is part of living.

    3. Gene*

      No one is going to build something that blocks your view or sunshine, no loud parties into the wee hours, if you play Ingress odds of having a couch portal go way up.

    4. Anx*

      I’d consider the potential for crime. I know some cemeteries are a hot bed of criminal activity.

      That would be my only concern, though. I love cemeteries.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        She could check with the local police department for the story on that cemetery and then make a decision.

      1. Clerica*

        One of my fantasies of something I would do if I suddenly became independently wealthy and could “do what I love” even if it didn’t make money is to publish a coffee table book of cemetery pictures in the sunshine.

        I don’t tell many people this.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          I’d read that book. I wrote my fourth-year thesis in university on gravestones, so I spent a LOT of time hunting up cemetery pictures and would have killed for a book like that.

    5. Claire*

      I lived in a flat with a view over a cemetery when I was a student. It never bothered me at all. It’s a much nicer view (plenty of space, sky, greenery) than many in a city.

  40. Cath in Canada*

    I live very close to a cemetery, and cycle through it most days on my way to work. It’s just lovely – lots of beautiful mature trees, mountain views, open green space, occasional coyote and eagle sightings. There are always tons of people there walking dogs, teaching kids to ride bikes, or just passing through. It’s a lovely space.

    Also, the pun possibilities are endless. “We live in the dead centre of Vancouver”, “it’s the last place I’d go”, etc etc etc.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Yes, it’s lovely! It’s also pretty much the highest point in the city, and it’s noticeably colder – snow takes a few extra days to melt up here, our daffodils and cherry blossoms come out about two weeks after they do near my work (near VGH), etc.

    1. Rebecca*

      I took both in school, and found Spanish was much easier for me. But this was a very long time ago, so teaching methods may have improved greatly since then.

    2. Pennalynn Lott*

      Since they’re both Romance languages and follow similar constructs, my guess is that they’d be pretty equal on the easy-to-learn scale. I took French in high school and college and it came easy to me. But thanks to having taken French, I can now understand quite a bit of Spanish without ever having taken a course in it.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I did the same but in reverse. I studied Spanish and a little bit of French but now I can follow along with French or Portuguese when it’s written.

        I’d say Spanish is slightly easier to learn because it’s almost absolutely phonetic, in that you say every letter that’s written, and you almost always say it the same way. Both Spanish and French are similar grammatically to English, so a lot of the time you can actually translate pretty much word for word from English.

    3. Felicia*

      They’re very similar so if you know one it would be easier to learn the other . So because they are so similar, i’d say the difficulty level is the same. I learned Spanish after I was fluent in French, and because I learned French, Spanish was so much easier. If you’re in the US you may find Spanish more useful (French has been more useful for me because I’m in Canada and have worked for national companies and have relatives in Quebec).

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I think Spanish pronunciation has easier rules than French, but I can’t really speak to the grammar since I never got that far with French.

    5. Apollo Warbucks*

      If you have iTunes check out coffee break Spanish and coffee break French, they are both free to download and very good. There is also a podcast called notes in Spanish that is very good. Duolingo do a very application to help you learn to read, speak and write and you can use it for both Spanish and French

    6. HR Manager*

      I’ve only learned Spanish so biased here, but I find Spanish way easier to learn when I compare them to my sister’s language books. Plus, if you’re in the US, you can more easily find a pocket of Spanish-speaking population to practice, or turn to a Spanish language TV channel to get additional immersion.

    7. FX-ensis*

      Easy is subjective, in life and in languages…

      Hablo espanol un poco, sin embargo me gusta el Espanol. Es una idioma hermosa, y quiero a visitar los Estados Unidos, Puerto Rico y Mexico practicar el Espanol. :)

      Sorry, just got a bit excited there. but for me, I’ve found learning Spanish easy, but then as said I don’t think any one language is inherently more or less easy than another.

    8. Mephyle*

      I think Spanish is easier than French for an English speaker. I find Spanish more patterned; i.e. less irregular (even most of the ‘irregular’ verbs follow patterns), and the spelling-t0-pronunciation correspondence is a lot more straightforward in Spanish. I find listening comprehension a lot harder at the learning stage in French because it’s much harder to tell how words are spelled from the way they sound.

    9. Melissa*

      I have taken both, and Spanish was easier for me to learn. French has some strange grammar rules once you get to the more advanced stuff and a lot more silent letters. (I will say, though, that I got farther in French than Spanish, which may account for the tricky grammar.)

  41. Noah*

    Do you have exposure to either one? For me Spanish would be way easier because I took Spanish in both jr. high and high school, although I’m certainly not fluent now. Also grew up in an area with many immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

  42. Katie the Fed*

    Hi all! I’m a day late – sorry! I was off spending some wedding gift money :)

    So – it’s done! I’m hitched! It was a lot of fun. We had a daytime ceremony/reception which I really liked because we were done mid-afternoon and had the rest of the day to relax (we were exhausted!). The weather was a bit chilly but beautiful. The food was good, but I had almost no appetite. It really was just a great day – I was just overwhelmed by all the love and support.

    I had been pretty sick the week before, but luckily it cleared up in time for the big day. After worrying that I would be too sick, pretty much nothing could have bothered me – and nothing did. Sure, there were things that didn’t go right, but really, who cares. It was just fun :)

    We’re taking a little down time before the honeymoon – trying to get thank-yous sent, things like that. We’ll head out later this week :)

    Thank you all for the advice and support!

    1. Elkay*

      Congratulations, I had a quick search earlier to see if you’d dropped in. Glad to hear you had a great day (and kudos on the thank yous – I’m still waiting for one from the wedding I went to in April).

      1. Katie the Fed*

        I’m weird about thank-yous. I get anxious and nervous until they’re done. I HAVE to do them.

  43. Canadamber*

    Agggh, I hate existential crises!!! So I have this friend who’s going to uiversity for engineering. I decided to go into business instead becasue I wasn’t sure about all of the math and I don’t think that I would particularly like it, but now I’m not so sure. I mean, she’s having a lot of trouble in her first semester (I’m in my first semester too), and I visited her for two days last week and attended two of her lectures and it was all very confusing and exhausting (the fact that I had to drive 200 km to get there and then didn’t sleep that night once i got there didn’t help, lol).

    I really love nuclear power reactors. I always have. I also like cars, and have always thought that designing them would be kinda cool. (And let’s not forget trains!) And I just found out that my college has a program, Power Engineering Technology, that’s three years long, up at a campus about an hour and a half away. If I completed that, I could then transfer into a university down near Toronto for their Nuclear Engineering program, take three bridge courses, and then four more academic semesters before coming away with a Bachelor’s degree in Nuclear Engineering.

    But do I even want to go into engineering? I mean, I like business, too. But engineering won’t leave my head. My parents said that I can switch but if I don’t like it, I either have to continue on in it anyway or I can switch back to my original business program. I wouldn’t get into a university engineering program but I did get accepted to two college engineering programs in my town (same college as the one with PET but a different campus), but I’m not sure that I have the study habits or like math enough or arrrgh. Working on and monitoring nuclear reactors might be cool but I’m not sure “it might be cool, and I really love the concept and have been obsessed with nuclear power plants for two years, and would really like to go visit one someday (I almost got to in Germany back when I was 14, and was so disappointed when that didn’t materialize)” is a good enough reason to throw away one year of business and then commit to five and a half more years of schooling. My parents are firm believers in “graduate high school at 17/18, get your degree at 22” because neither of them did so and now they’re both stuck in dead-end jobs. But, I mean, even graduating by 25 is fine, right? There’s a guy in my business classes who did 3 or 4 years of neuroscience at Dalhousie but decided that he didn’t really want to help people, so he moved back home and switched into business instead.

    I, just, how will I know? How am I supposed to know what to do with my life at 18? What if I realize at age 30 that I made the wrong choice /and then it’s too late/?

    /existential crisis

  44. FX-ensis*

    I’ll keep this brief, since I’ve deliberately been keeping a low profile here based on past posts:

    – I set life goals and achieve them, but then I still feel unfulfilled, if that makes sense. The things I seek are things I want and/or need, however the major thing I want is often out of reach. Do I need help/therapy to get there?

    – I’ve always been a reserved person, but not shy. That may seem contradictory, but then whilst many who know me would say I’m not that loud/gregarious, I can and often do hold my own when needs be. However, I’m kind of tired of being told “why don’t you say much” or “you’re too quiet” at family gatherings, and this has been going on for years now, and I am 34. It’s part of who I am, and even now it’s difficult to change, so feel like I’m in a no-win situation. For this reason, I steer clear of family gatherings, since I don’t like to be on the losing side without reason. I think this is related to the first point I made.

    1. hildi*

      Regarding your second point: My husband is this way. He’s just a quiet guy, but woe to anyone that mistakes him for not paying attention, being shy, etc. When he does speak up you better listen because it’s well-thought out and smart. We work in the same organization, but with different coworkers. I find it very interesting to watch people give him a hard time about him being quiet. It’s very shallow, surface stuff they are teasing him about. I always figure that says more about the person teasing than the quiet person.

      You probably already know this, but I don’t think you have to change. I’m also 34 and I agree with you that my natural preferences are pretty ingrained at this point. I think we can and should be proud of our strengths (and coming from a person like me that tends to talk MUCH more than I listen, I think quiet is a gift, if you’re using it positively). However, I do realize when my tendencies become my weakness and I have been working on identifying that and changing it when necessary. So we can always grow, but I think it depends on the reason – surely not because your family (! ugh, the people you should be “safest” with) is giving you a hard time.

      1. FX-ensis*

        Thanks for your response. It’s not to whine, but then I don’t like this being pointed out, as i don’t expect what people want. Thanks again.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure if anyone can decide if someone else needs therapy to accomplish a life goal. And I am not sure that therapy is the only way to get to a large goal. It could be that you may need to do several things to make your goal happen. (That is the way things have gone for me, at any rate.)
      I believe that people are basically intuitive. This means if the idea of therapy catches your eye, then probably there is something there for you. If you go this route chose your therapist carefully. Just because we like a particular therapist and want them to help us is not the same as saying they can help us. Look at the skill sets of the person first, before diving in. Talk about what your goals are and ask if they have had experience helping in those types of settings.

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