Sunday free-for-all – November 23, 2014

Sam in boxIt’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.

{ 763 comments… read them below }

      1. Anna Moose*

        I tried to read this as a hard copy but the words weren’t flowing for me. I borrowed the audiobook from the library but haven’t started it yet.

        I don’t know if it was the way the author writes or the flu outbreak in the book that made me set it aside. I’m a big germaphobe.

        1. De Minimis*

          That was a terrific book, I read it recently too.

          I also really liked The Girl with All the Gifts.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      I’m not really a big fan of Harry Potter, but the audiobooks read by Jim Dale were quite well done. No mean feat: lots of characters, and he came up with a distinctive voice for all of them.

      The Magician King by Lev Grossman was quite good as an audiobook, although I don’t remember who read it. Heh, the Grossman family, I’m sure their parents are quite proud :)

      There are some public domain audiobooks of misc Ted Chiang short stories floating around out there. Although there’s also a really badly recorded reading of Hell is the Absence of God – one of his best works – out there that you should avoid at all costs.

      Dave Barry Does Japan was really good. It wasn’t all humorous – at one point he got quite serious, and it was interesting and fascinating to see how this man who is primarily known for humor is not just a one trick pony. He was angry, and you could feel it.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I read all of the Harry Potter books but the audio version is really outstanding – Jim Dale is outstanding!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Jim Dale is the best! I once saw him in a restaurant– at least, I think it was him– and I freaked out. Silently, but I freaked out, nonetheless.

          1. LawBee*

            He was The Narrator for Pushing Daisies, and he was PERFECT. Wonderful tv show, and it was so comforting when I started listening to the HP books and there he was again.
            I love me some Stephen Fry, but Jim Dale will always be the voice of Hogwarts to me.

      2. Buu*

        Sorry I’m all about the Stephen Fry readings of Potter. Pretty neat you can pick what one you want if you get the mp3 on Pottermore.

        If you’re into fantasy Dresden Files, Across the Knightgale floor and His Dark Materials all have great audio books. The Dark Materials one is particularly interesting to listen to as it has a full cast performing the dialogue and the author narrating.

    2. CA Admin*

      “Blackout” and “All Clear” by Connie Willis are both great. The voice actor is fantastic and the story is just as good.

    3. FD*

      I *LOVE* Dies The Fire, which has a really great reading by Todd McClaren. It’s a post-apocalyptic series that shades into fantasy as the series progresses.

      It’s about how society evolves and changes after electricity, some hydraulics, and gunpowder just stop working suddenly.

    4. Diet Coke Addict*

      If you like cozy mysteries, the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books are read by a really outstanding South African actress who really nails all the voices.

      1. Artemesia*

        I wish she would write more of the Vorkosigan books — they work a lot better IMHO than the fantasy stuff.

    5. LoveToRead*

      OMG – the BEST audio book ever The Handmaid’s Tale read by Claire Danes. The book was riveting, but Claire Danes pushed it over the top – I would like to find more audiobooks read by her.

    6. Finny*

      If you like Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books, I’d recommend both the Collegium Chronicles, a five book set, or Closer to Home, the start of the next trilogy. All six books are read by Nick Podel, and he is an amazing narrator.

    7. Anna Moose*

      Any of JD Robb’s (Nora Roberts) “In Death” books. The narrator, Susan Erickson, really brings them to life. I tried to read a hard copy once but it wasn’t the same.

    8. Raine*

      I have only just started listening to audiobooks and can’t believe I waited this long! I love to read but work in front of a computer all day so it just seems like work rather than relaxing to read online or in a book. Now I find myself listening to audiobooks instead of having the TV on, or while I’m getting ready in the morning, or cooking, love love love love it.

    9. Jade*

      Probably everyone interested has already read Gone Girl or is going to the movie but: I really liked the female reader (Julia Whelan) in that audiobook; thought she was a great Amy.

    10. LawBee*

      OK so my job often has me in a car for up to five hours at a time. When I’m not getting my CLEs in, I devour audiobooks. My audible account is in FIRE. So, I’ve got a lot of recommendations, haha.

      If you’re into a time commitment, I can recommend the Game of Thrones book series. I don’t watch the show (no particular reason other than I don’t have HBO), but the books are RIVETING. And Roy Dotrice is fantastic. The joke/not joke in Game of Thrones fandom is everyone is worried that George RR Martin will die before the books are finished, right? Well, I worry that Roy Dotrice will die before the new books are narrated.

      If you want gripping historical mystery, Alex Grecian’s series are wonderful. They’re set at the very very beginning of Scotland Yard’s Murder Squad. They do get progressively darker, but they’re fantastic.

      Ready Player One was good nerdy fun for this gal who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, and Wil Wheaton gives it some nerd cred.

      Robert Parker’s Appaloosa is great – Titus Welliver has the perfect voice for narrating Westerns. I loved the movie and read the book after, and loved the book.

      The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago – great read of not only the “lady killers”, but the woman reporter who told their stories. Fascinating.

      Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – I cannot recommend this enough. I don’t know how this man survived what he did. A true hero, and a fantastic read.

      The Areas of My Expertise by John Hodgman – my introduction to audiobooks and John Hodgman’s world. Picture ours just a little . . . skewed. I catch myself singing “The Furry Old Lobster” all the time, and at this point, singing “Idaho, potato, gee I want a French Fry” is Pavlovian. You’ll understand when you listen. :D (In my opinion, this is the best audiobook of Hodman’s series. The other two are a little gimmicky and “check out my awesome guest stars” for my taste. For those two, I prefer the print.)

      There you go!

        1. christi*

          Coming out of lurkerdom to second Ready Player One. One of the best audio books I’ve listened to. And it made for some fun conversations and movie nights with my teenage daughter.

          My current favorites are the Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor. Historians do time travel. Feels kind of like a cross between Connie Willis and Doctor Who.

      1. Gene*

        Gotta second the Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) unabridged audiobooks. I hate abridged books, in either print or audio.

    11. Jen RO*

      I loved Frank Muller’s read of the Dark Tower books (Stephen King). And I know how LowBee feels – Frank Muller was in a bad accident and couldn’t finish reading the series… I seriously still feel sad about that, many years after the fact. I think he was a brilliant voice actor.

      1. LawBee now LowBee*

        I’m going to go by LowBee from now on, I kind of love it. It reminds me of LowKey from Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. (Another excellent audiobook).

    12. Sarah in Boston*

      I’m an audiobook nut. I’ve linked my name to my “Recommended Audio book” shelf on Goodreads. Please feel free to friend me there or ask for recommendations. I do that best if you tell me a few other things you’ve liked. My favorite genres are fantasy, scifi, science, certain historical eras, engineering, disease/medicine, mountaineering/arctic/antarctic, travel/adventure. Sorry that I don’t have time right now to read through all the other great responses above or get to specifics right now. A few second votes that caught my eye on the way to this reply tough – “The Curse of Chalion”, “Ready Player One” (really almost anything narrated by Wil Wheaton).

    13. Liblady*

      The girl with all the gifts, The Martian by Andy Weir, Accidents of marriage, Neil Patrick Harris’s Autobiography, Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar series.

    14. Mister Pickle*

      I’m just going to toss this out: you can make DIY audiobooks from movies. I haven’t done this in years and years, but it’s not difficult to extract the audio portion of a movie to (say) MP3 format, and then listen to that in a car. I only experimented with a few titles – I remember the movie Heathers worked well, and the end of Crossroads (the 1986 Walter Hill movie, without Britney Spears) was good, too. I’d imagine that anything with decent dialog and a good soundtrack would work fairly well. I’m minded to play with this again, maybe with television shows, maybe something by Aaron Sorkin?

    15. Ms. Anonymity*

      Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. There are 8 books. Will keep you busy for a good long while. Excellent story!

    16. Algae*

      Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde, read by John Lee is what started my recent love of audio books. Fantastic.

    17. Anna*

      If you’re going through Audible, they have this amazing thing called the Great Courses series. (Great Courses also has a subscription site, but I can’t watch while I’m working so I just download at Audible.) They are all sort of high level discussions of extremely interesting and varied topics done by professors and experts in the field. So I’ve listened to one about languages and cultures through their food and one on history as it would have been experienced by regular people. Right now I’m listening to one about lost christianities. They are SO good. Highly recommend them. They are all pretty long, too, but broken up in to bite size chunks.

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      We discussed this at work on Friday! Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and Goldfinch by Donna Tartt were recent picks.

    2. Lamb*

      Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal. It’s one of the few I’ve read more than once and I always get strange looks because it makes me laugh out loud. I’ve recommended it to lots of people and everyone loves it, regardless of religious (or non) affiliation.

      The Dinner (Herman Koch) was also a quick read because I couldn’t put it down. It takes a look at the myriad small choices people can make that result in truly horrifying situations.

      1. Artemesia*

        I just read his second book Summer House with Swimming Pool for a book group and hated it. The Dinner sounds horrifying but well done. Summer House with Swimming Pool was just endlessly unpleasant with no payoff.

        1. Hermoine Granger*

          I’ve thought about joining a book club but worry about having to read books I might not like. Normally I’ll stop reading a book if it gets boring or I just don’t like it. How does this normally work in book clubs? Did you finish the book you didn’t like? If so, how did you push through?

      2. LawBee*

        I knew I would love Lamb with the scene where kid-Jesus keeps bringing the lizard back to life. And when the Angel wants to be Spiderman, well, that just cemented it. :D

      3. L. Lankin*

        I just finished Lamb and loved it. Very novel idea, and the writing reminded me a little of Tom Robbins.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      I read each Harry Potter book in one sitting (my very first all-nighter was Goblet of Fire when I was 14!). Other couldn’t-put-it-downs: Room by Emma Donague, Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, and Kindred by Octavia Butler.

      1. Lamb*

        I second Room. I read it just before the real life version came to light (trying not to give spoilers). It’s one of those that affected me deeply long after I finished it.

        1. LPBB*

          Room is a really really good book. I don’t want to give spoilers, but for those who have not read it — only part of the story takes place in Room. Even though I knew that from reading reviews, I almost put the book down because it was too intense. That would be a huge mistake, because ultimately it is a really life-affirming story.

      2. jordanjay29*

        Goblet of Fire was my first all-nighter, too! Well, for my 10-year-old self, reading until midnight was an all-nighter, and, boy, was I freaked out when I finished. It probably didn’t help that I was on vacation, in a unfamiliar hotel room, when I finished the last chapter.

        1. danr*

          I was an adult when Harry Potter started, and Goblet of fire was a gotcha for me too. I started reading it and when I looked up, I had finished the book and it was 2 am.

    4. Stephanie*

      I couldn’t put down The Reader by Bernhard Schlink. Read it in one evening. I also couldn’t put down the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I listened The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks as an audiobook. It was absolutely fascinating.

    5. LPBB*

      I really liked We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. Right now I’m reading Bury Me Standing by Isabel Fonseca. It’s a pretty unflinching look at Gypsies in Eastern Europe in the early to mid 1990s; maybe not to everyone’s taste, but I’m finding it fascinating.

    6. Mister Pickle*

      Hmmm … I don’t know if it would still read well, but Replay by Ken Grimwood was very good.

      Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice was very hard to put down – I ended up reading it in a day. Possibly the best thing he ever wrote; he avoided most of the icky aspects of his other works. It borrows liberally from Mark Twain and James Branch Cabell.

      George R. R. Martin’s fix-up novel Tuf Voyaging is a lot of fun. Not at all related to Game of Thrones.

      .i could go on for hours, but I’ll spare you all :)

    7. CA Admin*

      “The Lies of Locke Lamora”
      “The Rivers of London”
      “The Cuckoo’s Calling”

      These are the last three I can remember reading that I just couldn’t put down. I’d recommend all of them without hesitation.

    8. nep*

      So many. Here are just a few that come to mind: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, River Town by Peter Hessler, Boyhood by J.M. Coetzee.

    9. AdAgencyChick*

      This year, the two best by far that I’ve read were Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres and A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth. The latter is longer than War and Peace but it FLEW by.

    10. Diet Coke Addict*

      I read All The Light We Cannot See this summer and it was truly outstanding. Just an absolute gem of a book, and I was reading it like a twelve-year-old–while standing in the kitchen, on my breaks at work, my entire lunch break, just hours and hours not even moving other than to read it. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t pick an all time favorite except maybe The Deathly Hallows (read that one in seven hours and forty-five minutes straight) and other Harry Potter books, but I just finished Stephen King’s Mr. Mercedes. It caused me to neglect several things I needed to do because I HAD to find out what happened. To my joy, I think the main character will return. I can’t wait to see what Revival is all about. I just adore Stephen King.

      I don’t tend to read a lot of what’s on the bestseller list because I don’t like political thrillers, mysteries, or authors who write the same book over and over and over.

      1. LawBee*

        What I love about these questions is that the books people seem to LOVE and can’t stop reading are rarely on the best seller list. It makes me wonder where those lists come from.

    12. C Average*

      Oh, I love this question!

      One Hundred Years of Solitude–I read it on a family road trip while I was a teenager, and I think I didn’t look up from that book until we’d reached the east coast.

      Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier)–I read it in one day a few years back. So, so good.

      The Count of Monte Cristo–I read it in high school and loved it so much that I read it out loud to my family, who begged me not to stop every time we reached the end of a chapter.

      The Harry Potter books. I remember reading the final book in the series and actually walking from the light rail station to work (about a mile) carrying the book and reading as I walked.

    13. Raine*

      The *first* book I read (devoured) in one weekend was the Bell Jar, which had just been assigned to my junior AP class in high school. I actually completed it before we even started discussing it. Of course, the Monday we returned, a group of A+ girls in the class objected to a scene where a friend’s top comes down and exposes her breasts, and my teacher didn’t fight them — she let them determine we weren’t going to discuss it as assigned reading after all. I could not believe it. It was the first assigned book I really identified with and read the whole way through. I will never forget that those girls did that (and wonder to this day if they ever think back on that and regret it).

    14. Hermoine Granger*

      Misery and Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets were probably the most recent books that I couldn’t put down. I watched the movie version of Misery a few years ago and it was great but the book was amazingly exciting. Homicide was heartbreaking but funny and riveting at the same time.

      I read The Complete Sherlock Holmes Volume I (B&N Version), The Count of Monte Cristo (I love super long classics!), and The Three Musketeers during my senior year of college and shortly after graduating. Sherlock Holmes became my favorite fictional character and Alexandre Dumas is now one of my favorite non-fiction authors.

      1. Lisa*

        Who’s Pulling Your Strings by Harriet B. Braiker Ph.D. Being a straight shooter all my life, I could never understand the manipulative person. I could not put this book down. I highly recommend it. It gave me insights into how I could be targeted by a manipulator and why they chose me. Very interesting!

        1. Mister Pickle*

          On my list now! Thankees!

          (I’m going to guess you’ve already read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini?)

    15. anon in tejas*

      here are my favorites from this year:

      don’t tell the wolves, I’m home
      half the yellow sun
      valley of amazement
      please ignore vera dietz
      my education

      these were my most enjoyable reads this year. I think that out of those… My Education was slow for the first 1/2 of the book. But the rest were really engrossing reads.

  1. NOLA Bound*

    I am moving. Should I sell my home or rent it out as an investment (using management company)?

    Anyone have any experience renting their home through a management company?

    1. Stephanie*

      My parents rent out their old house in Texas via a management company. They’ve had mostly a positive experience. I believe they choose to use a management company because they wouldn’t be able to stop by the property regularly as they moved a couple of states away.

      Big annoyance from them I’ve picked up is that the yard’s gone to sh*t. I don’t think they specified lawn maintenance as the tenant’s responsibility (and they have a landscaper come by periodically), so I think they expected that to some extent. If you’ve got something like landscaping or a pool that would require regular maintenance (more than the average renter would be willing to do), that might be a drawback (or something you might want to make tenant-friendly).

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh, to add: they didn’t sell it because I think the market in Dallas wasn’t great when they moved. My dad’s company offered a relo package that would have included buying the house (maybe? or helping them sell it?), but my dad chose not to go that route (I think because of the resultant tax liability).

    2. Saro*

      It really depends on a number of factors. The first is how rentable your place is. My parents kept their home but it ended up being a really bad decision. The market tanked and they couldn’t sell it for a decent price but up until recently, they had really, really horrible tenants. The demand for a house like theirs (out in the country/suburbs) wasn’t really high. My husband and I rented out our condo but it’s more renter friendly (2 bedroom, 2 bath) fairly close to the city.

      The management company is also very important. We lucked out and have a good one. My parents found a good person recently but just had horrible people before. So I suggest really doing your research.

    3. Sandy*

      We rent our “home base” home while we’re overseas. I would say it depends heavily on the specific characteristics of your home, your own finances, and the management company itself.

      A quick word on each:

      -Location matters! We are close to downtown and two universities, but the rent is high enough that we don’t get university students renting our place-usually professors. In my city, the further you go out of the core, the harder it will be to get quality tenants. Your city’s market may vary.

      -understand that by the time you cover mortgage, mortgage interest, property tax, any condo fees, insurance, management fees etc. you may not break even. For us, it’s still worth it to rent out, even if we’re kicking in 200-300 bucks a month. We have friends and colleagues who have based their rental price on what they *need* to the price to be to break even, and their places have sat on the market for months waiting for a tenant. Aim for market price.

      -the quality of the management company matters! You’re going to be paying them a lot of money (typically 5-10% of rent and a finder’s fee for new tenants) so do your homework. I think we interviewed six before I found one that didn’t completely skeeve me out.

      I hope that helps!

    4. NOLA Bound*

      Thanks. I live in a townhouse so outdoor maintenance is not my responsibility. I am literally 5 minutes from the gate of a military base so I THINK the rental market is pretty good; although, I think a lot of the other units are rented too so there would be competition. I also think I could sell close enough to break even point that selling wouldn’t hurt too much.

      I believe that renting it out is the best monetary investment, but I am both lazy and risk adverse. Great points about interviewing the management company to find the best though. It’s giving me some things to think about.

      1. Lola*

        Make sure you’re properly insured and seek legal advice on the benefits of holding investment property in an LLC.

        1. De Minimis*

          Thanks for the advice, we may be doing this sometime next year. We are going to try and sell first but I don’t know if the market is really that great in our specific area [there are neighbors with nicer homes than ours who have tried to sell and apparently gave up] and we haven’t been in the house very long so we’d lose money regardless, it’s just a matter how much we can tolerate. We’ll probably end up renting it out, and I already know we are going to need to do the management company route if we do that.

  2. Jillociraptor*

    Spent several hours in the ER last night with a bladder infection that was also causing some other scary, icky things (tachycardia and mad case of the shakes). Docs hooked me up with some antibiotics so I’m on the mend, but the boyfriend’s out of town and I’m lonely and feeling sorry for myself, though this Call the Midwife marathon is helping immensely.

    What’s your favorite feel better trick for when you’re sick?

    1. Nodumbunny*

      Hot tea with honey, a marathon of good tv as you’re doing, a good book (maybe something a little trashy?). Hope you feel better soon!

    2. Midge*

      I call or text my mom, who lives out of state, and tell her about how bad I feel. Then she offers to come bring me chicken soup. Not that it actually helps, since she’s too far away to really do it. But it makes me feel better. She does the same thing to me when she’s sick.

      Hope you feel better!

    3. CA Admin*

      I’m also marathoning Call the Midwife! My husband is away visiting his family so I’m trying to keep busy.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      Cozy blanket, cat if I can convince one to hang out with me, and alternating between a fat book and napping. I prefer the couch over bed unless I’m deathly ill.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Blanket, Lipton noodle soup (it has magical powers), mindless TV, and if I feel up to it, I like to color. YES WITH CRAYONS DON’T JUDGE ME. I can’t read when I’m sick because it makes me want to hurl.

      I hope you feel better soon.

      1. Ludo*

        Haha that is so funny. I keep coloring books and crayons on hand specifically for when I’ve had a crappy day or I’m sick.

          1. Wren*

            Mine are in the living room. I don’t even try to hide them! I have probably 50 coloring books by now!

      2. HR Manager*

        I love coloring! Sadly, I haven’t colored in years. I also like those crappy paint-with-water things but haven’t seen one of those books in forever. And also those book of puzzles and games using the invisible ink marker (anyone know what I’m talking about?). If I see those in a toy store during the holidays, I always buy one to play with.

    6. Lore*

      Endless cups of tea with honey and lemon (and a dash of whiskey if I’ve got an upper respiratory thing); buttered toast; fuzzy slippers; a movie I’ve seen before so I can doze and not miss anything.

    7. LawBee*

      All ten seasons of Friends, one right after the other.

      And lots of internet hugs from friends and fellow AAMers. ::hug::

    8. Hermoine Granger*

      I stay in bed, sleep, and watch Netflix or my go-to list of favorite movies when I’m awake.

    9. The Other Dawn*

      For me, it’s a Golden Girls marathon. Although that’s tough nowadays because they’re only on in the morning for a couple hours I think. In the absence of the Golden Girls, I like to catch up on the DVR or read.

      1. Melpo*

        Me too! Golden Girls–it is on TVLAND right now and I am cuddled with some tea and a blanket wishing my throat and my head could choose 1 at a time to hurt… My two favorite episodes of all time just came on, making life worth living despite stupid germs.

    10. soitgoes*

      Right now I watch Outlander over and over when I’m feeling blue. It’s just so pretty and Jamie’s so pretty and ugh it makes me feel like how Twilight people feel.

    11. Jillociraptor*

      Love all the recommendations! Hope that everyone else who’s stuck on the couch this evening is on the mend!

  3. StillHealing*

    Should I be worried that my husband has reconnected with an old neighbor girl that he had a one night stand with, 35 years ago? We’ve been married almost 22 years. Two kids, who are out of high school and in college now. Just wondering how other people would feel if their SO reconnected with someone from their past. The gal who last saw my husband at a wedding in the ’80’s, reached out to hubby. He has decided to reconnect. Not feeling good about this. When old “loves” reached out to me these past 22 years, I forwarded the email to my hubby and NEVER acknowledged the email from the “old loves.”

    1. Nodumbunny*

      Mmm, no I wouldn’t be okay with that. Even if he doesn’t mean anything by it, who knows what she wants. You’re not over- reacting.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Exactly. I don’t think it matters “what she wants”, unless you don’t trust your spouse, in which case it’s not the ex that’s the issue, it’s the trust/fidelity issue, which means an affair could happen with anyone, not just an ex.

          I think the fact that he was open about it is a very good indicator. Hiding it either means that he has hopes that something will happen with the ex, or that he thinks his spouse doesn’t trust him to talk to other females…or both. But since he’s being open about it, he’s probably just curious about what’s been going on in her life, the way most people are about anyone with whom they’ve been out of touch for a while.

        2. Raine*

          Well, except they were a one-night stand, not really friends to begin with — or, at least, not friends enough to keep in touch for the past three decades. So yeah, I’d be a little hesitant too.

      1. StillHealing*

        Yes, thank you. Just doesn’t sit well with me. Going to see if I can get into see my Therapist this next week.

        1. LawBee*

          I’ve been taking my grandmother’s “special drink” since I was a kid – 1T Jack Daniels, 1T lemon juice, 1T honey, all hot hot hot. Sip it slow and sleeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

    2. Just Visiting*

      Has your husband given you any reason not to trust him? If it wasn’t for the 35 year old(!) sex, would you still be okay with this? Neither my husband or I talk to our exes (not because of being married, we just don’t care to), but he has female friends and I have male friends. Part of being secure in a relationship is trusting your SO to talk to people from their past, even people they slept with. Sorry if this is harsh.

      1. StillHealing*

        No, not harsh. It’s just that I let him know immediately if someone contacted me and he waited awhile. I WAS feeling very secure but now, since he waited to tell me they are in contact – and she just ended her second marriage then sought him out…..just not sitting well with me.

        1. Pretend Scientist*

          Nope, not ok. It seems fishy to me. My SO wouldn’t be ok with it, and I wouldn’t be ok with it on his side, either.

        2. can relate*

          Nope, especially based on this information, I would NOT be okay with this. I’m fine with friends of the opposite sex, but I don’t think you ever see someone the same way again after you have sex with them, and the fact that she reached out after ending her marriage….. Nope, not in my marriage.

          Boundaries, like those that you have demonstrated when exes contact you, keep marriages healthy. I also believe in standing up for yourself when your partner acts in a disrespectful manner, like yours is right now.

        3. Isabelle*

          Based on this information, you have every right to be concerned and I would ask your husband to put an end to this if I were you.
          This woman had an opportunity to reconnect with your husband while she was still married, so why now? Is there any reason for reconnecting with him NOW that would be legitimate and not selfish on her part?
          Instinctively your husband also knows this, and this is why he didn’t tell you right away.

          And for the record, I believe friendships between men and women are OK. This is not what we are discussing here, and even if you and your husband trust each other you are still allowed to expect boundaries to be respected.

        4. catsAreCool*

          Now it really sounds like she’s wants to connect with him more than is appropriate. Doesn’t mean that he’s doing anything wrong, but he should have been more transparent about it. Maybe he figured you wouldn’t like it.

        5. Armchair Analyst*

          But I also don’t forward to my husband all communications from an “old flame” – what is an old flame? An actual ex-relationship? A crush on you, a crush you had? Seems like your husband has been fairly open about this communication. So, can you put your finger on exactly what is bothering you – it is midlife crisis time? Are there areas of transition in your (and your husband’s) life that are making you (and him) feel unsure? Do you know any recent divorces in your circle that are putting you at unease?

        6. Anonsie*

          That sends up more flags for me. Sure you trust your partner, but that doesn’t mean this is appropriate.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      Speaking from personal experience: no, I would not be comfortable with this. A couple of years ago I naively reconnected with an old girlfriend, she’d married and had two pre-teen daughters. It was great for awhile but then she wanted to “get together” … It all went downhill from there. But there was no way I was going to cheat, and especially with a married woman with young kids! I felt like a total schmuck because I finally had to say “I can’t do this anymore” and just stopped communicating with her.

      Sorry it’s not a happier story. But I’d watch those interactions extremely closely.

      1. catsAreCool*

        “But there was no way I was going to cheat, and especially with a married woman with young kids!”

        Good for you!

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Thanks … although I want to add that I’m by no means a saint, and I feel kinda bad having written that. I’m not trying to represent myself as morally superior to anyone. In retrospect it was absolutely the right decision – but I’m as subject to temptation as anyone, and if I’m honest I’ll tell you that if such a thing ever happens again, I hope I’ll do the right thing. But I’d be lying if I were to say that I absolutely know I won’t f**k it up.

    4. doreen*

      It wouldn’t bother me. First, because even if I didn’t trust her motives, I trust him. Second, because it was a one night stand 35 years ago . I might feel differently if they had a long-standing relationship that ended a couple of years before we got together but a one night stand (in high school or college ?-“neighbor girl” sounds like they were fairly young) doesn’t really seem to be an old “love”. Which doesn’t necessarily mean you are overreacting – but it’s possible that you are reacting to something less specific than this reconnection.

    5. Is This Legal*

      This could never end well. The problem is you don’t want to give people opportunity, they might be the most faithful but given an opportunity things change. It’s like a chess game, always be wary of the other person’s next move. If possible let your husband stay away, keep it simple.

      1. Eva*

        Wow. You’re basically saying no one can be trusted. In my experience this is untrue. Some people might succumb to opportunity, but others are wired differently and can and do resist temptation (or don’t even feel tempted).

    6. Saro*

      I’m pretty conservative in matters like these. I don’t see the point in ‘opening the door’. They had a spark before, she reached out after her marriage ended, he didn’t tell you right away – whether he is conscious of it or not, I feel that he’s opening the door. For the record, both my husband and I have friends of the opposite gender but this seems ‘off’. What did you tell him? I’d want to see their exchange (I’d also tell him this in person and want to see the emails right away so he couldn’t delete anything, if I were in your shoes).

    7. matcha123*

      I don’t see what the problem is.

      If he wants to cheat, he’ll cheat. You telling him not to talk to someone is not going to change anything.
      For what it’s worth, I’m friends with people I’ve dated and if my current boyfriend told me not to talk to them or that he was uncomfortable with me talking to them I’d be ticked off.

      1. nep*

        Great point by matcha123. If he’s inclined to cheat, telling him you’d rather he not talk to a certain person changes nothing.

      2. Old Faithful*


        If you trust him, trust him. If you don’t, it’s not about this woman, it’s about your relationship.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        I agree. I tend to hear my own drummer on these questions. My thinking is “you are an adult. Do as you wish. But don’t be surprised if I go about my day.”

        Any relationship is the result of a choice. He has been married to you for 35 years BY CHOICE. We don’t like to think about this but every day our other half remains with us they have to reaffirm a choice to remain with us. Likewise we do the same thing ourselves. We have to chose daily to remain with our person.

        And frankly, I don’t want anyone with me that does not want to be with me. BTDT, it sucks. So I am not saying this does not hurt. Yeah, it hurts. Big time. But in my mind, it hurts even more to argue daily over the importance of the relationship. If I have to remind someone every day that our relationship is important- that is too much work and it is a waste of my time. I could be with someone who “gets it” and wants to have an enjoyable life together. This is the difference between surviving and thriving. Relationships that are on life support are not thriving.

        So, what to do. Tell him you expect him to handle the situation as an adult. You expect him to figure out what is important in the long run and what is not. Remind him that you are interested in the long term- you are interested in continuing to build your life together. But you do not take hostages. If he is no longer interested in that, he should let you know so that you can plan accordingly. Tell him you have no interest in holding him hostage in a relationship he does not want. It does nothing for him and it does nothing for you.

      4. matcha123*

        I should also add, I don’t think OP needs to show her husband or tell him about emails she’s gotten from past boyfriends.
        If you aren’t interested in friending them or talking with them, just don’t reply. You don’t need to prove to him that you’re not cheating or anything like that. You’re both adults.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, these two things go hand in hand. Just because he is not handling the situation the exact same way she does is not the same as saying he is not handling the situation at all.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I agree — I’d be weirded out if my husband felt the need to forward me emails like that, and pretty damn offended if he expected me to do the same. We’re adults who choose to be with each other; if we were at the point where our ability to trust each other depended on that kind of reporting, I don’t think I’d want to be in that relationship.

          1. StillHealing*

            I’ve always shared things like the email with my husband. It bothered me that ex’s were contacting me. He has never acted like it weirded him out. I truly have always believed sharing this sort of information with your SO was one of the necessities of a good marriage. Is it that you feel in a healthy marriage it shouldn’t necessary? Neither one of us had healthy marriages model for us growing up. This whole thing has really blindsided me.

            1. ImpassionedPlatypi*

              I agree with Alison, and for me it’s not so much the fact that you’re sharing these things with him it’s the way you’re doing it. You got an email or facebook message that made you uncomfortable or bothered you and you want to talk to your husband about it, that’s fine. But it’s a little excessive to immediately forward the messages to him. If I got a message that I wanted to talk to my husband about I’d just bring it up in the evening when we’re talking about our days. Also, I wouldn’t bring it up at all if the message didn’t bother me or amuse me, regardless of whether I planned to respond.

      5. Mister Pickle*

        If he wants to cheat, he’ll cheat. You telling him not to talk to someone is not going to change anything.

        Well, yeah, that’s probably true. But I’m not certain that’s the issue here. After 22 years of marriage, I’d guess she’d know if he’s a cheater or not. I think in this instance, it’s more likely a case of him *not* being a cheater – and now he’s getting involved in a situation he has very little experience with. Will he do the right thing? Maybe. But I know from experience how emotions can sneak up on a person and warp their thinking. I remember how it was a mix of “gee it’s good to reconnect” along with a low-level buzz of knowing that someone found me attractive.

        StillHealing: I think you should tell your husband that no, you’re not comfortable with this, but I wouldn’t put it as an ultimatum. If it ends up that your husband still wants to communicate with this woman, make sure that you’re involved in any potential get-togethers (ie, she just happens to be in town and they want to get together for lunch – make sure you go with). The purpose is not so you can chaperone – it’s more to a) let you see firsthand what is going on, and b) if she actually meets you in real-life, it might put her off of any ‘plans’ she might have: it’s one thing for you to be an abstract “wife”, it’s another if she meets you and gets to know you as a real person.

        I don’t think that either this woman or your husband is looking to have an affair. The way I’ve seen this stuff play out, it’s more a matter of self-denial (as in, lying to oneself) and a slippery slope.

        1. matcha123*

          I guess this might be the type of thing where it totally depends on the personalities of all involved.

          I also get the feeling that there may be some generational differences in the responses. I find that there are more people in a generation that is a bit older than mine that feel that men and women, while they can be equals in life, shouldn’t mingle with people of the opposite sex without the consent of their partner.
          Of course, I am sure there are many in my generation who feel the same, but within the group of people I know, it seems these issues tend to split along those lines.

          I guess, if something is going to happen, it will happen. If they want to meet up and have some flirting that leads to nothing, that’s certainly an option, as are many other scenarios. My way of approaching these things might be totally different from the average person, because I don’t think that acknowledging that someone of the opposite gender is attractive is necessarily a bad thing. I also don’t care if my boyfriend finds another woman attractive. We can’t control feelings, we can only control our actions.

          1. Mister Pickle*

            I don’t know, but I’d suggest that the differences are more “experiential” than “generational”. Having a marriage / divorce (or 2 or more) under your belt will definitely affect your outlook on these kinds of things.

          2. Mephyle*

            I’m thinking the same thing; it depends very much on his personality, and on her intentions. Is he a pleaser, a person who finds it hard to say no? Then he might be in trouble even if he doesn’t cheat, if her agenda is to start something up. Because a person with that agenda can divert his time and emotions. For example, asking him for favours that take his time and attention away from his family, even if it never leads to an actual affair. Starting with little favours that it seems petty and mean to say ‘no’ to.
            I’m not saying that this is her plan, just if. And even if it is, if he is a different personality, he will have no trouble saying no from the start.

            1. Traveler*

              This: “Because a person with that agenda can divert his time and emotions.” If he is the type of person to try to be nice to everyone, it could be completely cheat-free and still cause problems in the relationship because he starts dedicating time to this person. There are lots of things that are not “cheating” that still might not sit well with me depending on the personalities and circumstances.

              I would let this play out for a bit though, it might fade out on its own. My experience is that after years and years you have built up a rosy image of who a person was, rather than who they are, and more often than not – once you (or in this case your husband or the woman) realizes that, it’ll be over before it started.

      6. Anonsie*

        Well, you know, this doesn’t have to be about having an affair. I trust that my partner isn’t going to cheat on me, but I would still not be comfortable with him spending a lot of time in a strip club or hanging out with women I knew were interested in him or, I don’t know… Gogo dancing in his underpants. Fidelity has nothing to do with any of those feelings. And while I’m not going to forbid him from anything, what with me not being his mother and all, he should have enough respect for my feelings to refrain from underpants gogo dancing on my behalf.

    8. LizH*

      I wouldn’t like it. Yes, true if they plan on cheating, nothing you can do about.
      However, why wait to tell you? I would not like if my SO’s ex contacted him.
      The SO knows I have male friends, he has met all of them. Hate to say this, but trust your instincts. I had a ex cheat on me, and lie about it. Caught him in the act, couldn’t lie about it then.

    9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      Reconnect how? Exchanging a few emails or having a lunch for two?

      Generally, I think what’s okay, past exchanging a couple of catch up emails or FB messages, is what’s okay with the other partner in the monogamous relationship.

      I’d have no problem if the husband wanted to reconnect, in person, with an old flame. OTOH, my husband would have a problem if I wanted to reconnect, in person, with an old flame, so I wouldn’t do it. I mean, if I *really* wanted to for (whatever reason), we’d talk it through but, there’s nobody I’d want to see face to face that matters enough to stress DH out in the least.

      Now, I’ve reconnected with pretty much every old boyfriend, including ones from junior high, via various online means over the years. It’s no big deal. It’s just a “where are we now” catch up via a few messages or emails.

      My first great love, found out he clerked for Alito! Which, given what I knew about him, during our college years, made me scratch my head until we got to current day which has him engaged for second marriage to a liberal activist. Story made more sense by the ending.

      To me, it’s just interesting. If we’d decided to meet for tea though, I would have been uncomfortable because it would have made my husband uncomfortable.

    10. Chuchundra*

      I reconnected with an old GF, in fact my first GF, on Facebook a while back. When she was in Manhattan to see her publisher last year I met up with her and we had lunch and got caught up. My wife didn’t object.

      Some years ago my wife met up with one of her old BFs. They had lunch and got caught up. I didn’t object.

      Either you trust the person you’re sharing your life with or you don’t. Only you can make that decision.

    11. Artemesia*

      Yeah, no. There is really no good that comes from this sort of thing and lots of potential bad. Why is she ‘reaching out’? Right?

        1. Traveler*

          This is the worrisome part of it. The rest of it not that big of a deal, but after a big relationship fails like that people are usually looking for a rebound or someone to help them emotionally pick up the pieces – not good for a married person to be involved in that.

    12. brightstar*

      To me it seems really odd to reach out to a one night stand, particularly after 35 years.

      I think it comes down to how much you trust your husband.

      1. Arjay*

        She was an old neighbor, so presumably they knew each other for quite a while, but they only hooked up once in the one night stand. If their families had neighborly relations, I think that makes this less suspect.

    13. LawBee*

      If it’s not sitting well with you, then you owe it to yourself and your husband to sit down with him and talk it out before instituting any kind of ban. Why do you not trust that this will remain friendship? What is it that is making you feel uncomfortable about it? That’s a completely valid feeling, by the way. I’m definitely not trying to make you feel like you’re overreacting, just that it’s probably a good thing to figure out why you’re having this gut reaction. Maybe you’re seeing something in this woman’s actions that your husband is blind to.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This is a good point. My friend’s husband had a former roommate who was trying to get his attention (her husband had been working out of state, and she would call him up for help with things around the house). She had a baby who was ill (hydrocephalus), and she was on her own whilst her husband was gone. My friend was really upset and she asked me to come to dinner at their house one night, and she invited this woman. She wanted me to watch them interact and tell her if she was imagining things.

        Well, she wasn’t; the old roommate was definitely trying to pull something, but I could see that he was TOTALLY oblivious to her shenanigans. My take on it was that she was unhappy and trying to grab at whatever she could to make herself feel better. So I advised my friend to sit down with him in a neutral setting and calmly explain what she had noticed and how it was making her feel. The hubs was gobsmacked; he had no idea, and he put a stop to the helper visits.

        Men can be completely blind to stuff like this.

    14. StillHealing*

      So to answer a couple questions… There has not been any cheating in our 22 years together. We’ve had rough patches and growing pain but have always come out healthier and stronger. He forwarded me the initial email exchange and she totally Love Bombed him. It obviously flatters him making him feel sought out and longed for. This caused a very rough night and I know my concern and fear is not me blowing things out of proportion.
      An emotional affair is still an affair in my book. Her intent is very clear in her email. I have no idea what hubby will decide but he defends his part in it. I have to take care of myself and find somewhere I can sleep. I haven’t been able to since feeling blindsided.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        I really think you need to tell your husband how this is making you feel. And I really think your husband needs to send this woman a short email that says “I’m sorry, but I cannot continue to correspond with you. Please do not try to contact me again.”

    15. soitgoes*

      I wouldn’t be comfortable with it either. Your husband and this woman were not “friends.” Their past relationship was not based on friendship. Even if she’s weird and is genuinely trying to connect with your husband as a purely platonic friend, its immature and misguided. There’s no friendship to rekindle.

      Your husband told you about it right away though, so he’s obviously trustworthy. There’s nothing to worry about on that count.

    16. C Average*

      I’m gonna get on my soapbox here.

      You people who contact old flames “just to reconnect?” Knock that shit off. Seriously. The person you slept with or flirted with or even had a relationship 20+ years ago is not someone you need to be in contact with now. Are you lonely? Surely there are friend prospects all around you. Are you feeling nostalgic for old times? Surely there are people in your life with whom you were not romantically involved who can remember the good old days with you. Are you feeling amorous? That’s what Tinder is for, or, or whatever your flavor is.

      The only reason you are reaching out to your old love is because you want the ego boost of knowing that person was once attracted to you and is still interested or curious enough to respond to your overtures. You’re bored. You’re looking to stir up some drama because drama is more interesting than what you’ve got going on.

      It’s pathetic and contemptible and obvious. Leave other people’s marriages alone. If you haven’t spoken in 20 years, there is nothing between you worth rekindling.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        You’ve never been friends with an ex? Ever? All of the exes I’d care to reconnect with we lost contact because of reasons other than ending our romantic relationship (usually moving away from the area, or just the general growing apart friends do during adolescence/young adulthood.) It certainly wouldn’t be just an ego boast to talk to any of them. No more than other old friends.

        1. C Average*

          Yeah, of course I’m friends with exes. I have an ex who lives in my city who’s joined my husband and me for dinner. I have another ex who’s actually one of my husband’s running partners, and we socialize with him and his wife.

          The thing is, we’ve been friends all along. When we broke up, we still enjoyed the many aspects of our friendship enough to stay in contact. When I met my husband, he knew I still spent time with these particular exes, but that anything romantic was long in the past. If I had to give up these friends, I’d miss them.

          An ex who hasn’t seen you in twenty years isn’t someone you miss or someone who misses you. They’re someone emerging from the woodwork for reasons that probably aren’t good for you or your marriage. If they were an important friend beyond the romantic relationship you once had, they’d have been in your life all along.

          With all the billions of people in the world, why would you feel the need to reconnect with someone you were involved with decades ago? I’d venture to guess you’re looking for something particular–not necessarily an affair, but at least the ego boost that goes with the knowledge that there was once chemistry and might still be. And having those kinds of relationships isn’t good for a marriage.

          I know–different strokes for different folks. But if a long-lost ex contacted me, I just wouldn’t respond.

  4. Is This Legal*

    Does anyone know of any free/cheap ways to learn about real estate? I mean general terminology, under contract to closing? Thank you in advance. I tried googling but I can’t get anything concrete.

    1. Johr*

      I took a few free homebuying classes through the city which were required for down payment assistance and learned so much since they went through the whole process from pre-approval to closing . Not sure if that’s the angle you’re looking for but maybe there’s something similar in your area?

    2. Momiitz*

      They usually have some real estate books at the library. That’s what I do when I can’t find reliable information on the net.

    3. Lola*

      The problem with googling is that every state has different rules – so get state specific when you search.
      Your state’s Real Estate Commission may have some general information available but otherwise I would suggest you reach out to a local Realtor. Most will be happy to to explain the basics to you and may be able to suggest useful resources to give you more info..

  5. Johr*

    Long time reader (3+ years!) but very rare commenter, mostly because I recommend this blog to everyone I work with and was having trouble coming up with a name I’d remember that was still fairly anonymous. I work in human resources in a major city but I love coming in here to read not only Alison’s words of wisdom but everything everyone else contributes, and AAM helped me navigate a job change a few years ago from a place that was sucking my soul out to virtually my dream job where I don’t dread waking up for work in the morning and love my boss. So this is a much belated thank you to her and to all of you for sharing your workplace horror stories which keep me entertained during the day as well as the advice that gets passed around – I feel like I’ve learned so much that helps me navigate issues with employees even though I’m not in a managerial role.

    I’ll end this with an actual question – any tips on keeping active in the cold, dark winter without a gym membership? I’m trying to get into a healthier lifestyle and I used to go for a walk in the afternoon and at night but I feel like the sun is already disappearing by 3pm and the thought of heading out into the dark cold makes it less and less appealing. And no matter how much sleep I’ve gotten the night before, I always feel ready for bed by the time I get home! For whatever reason, it’s hitting me especially hard this year and making it a little more difficult to stay active.

    1. Kali*

      Maybe try light therapy to get some more energy in the evening. I haven’t tried it myself, but it’s definitely something I want to try.

      I’m severely limited in what kind of exercise I do in the winter because my asthma is brought on by a) exercise and b) cold, dry air. And I’m too frugal to pay for a gym membership I’m pretty sure would go to waste. I often fall back on doing circuit training, especially the Seven-minute Workout (you can find lots of phone apps that will walk you through it). It’s short (like its name states), it’s all done indoors, and you only need your body and a chair or stairs. I tend to let how much time I have determine how many sets I do.

      1. bob*

        Lifelong fellow asthmatic here and I was curious (if you don’t mind answering) what meds you’re on for your asthma?

        1. Kali*

          Not at all! To be completely honest, I prefer to go sans medication when I can. I find my workouts are easier if I use my Albuterol inhaler about 15 minutes before I start. I no longer use a daily inhaler because the side effects are worse than my asthma. My asthma isn’t all that bad, but I get very anxious when I use something daily. They make me jittery and nervous, which gets worse in the winter–sort of a SAD thing, but with anxiety instead of depression (another reason I’m looking into light therapy).

          I’ve done Serevent in the (distant) past, but never liked it, same with Flovent. More recently, my doctor prescribed Qvar, but again, after using it daily for a few weeks, I got way too anxious. Now, I mainly only get a new prescription if I have a chest cold to make sure I don’t get a months-long cough.

          What has been your experience with asthma meds?

          1. bob*

            Interesting, I had not heard of Qvar but it sounds like a daily maintenance type med like Advair and I was curious if you had tried Advair? I’ve only used it once in a while with a lung infection but I don’t need a daily med thankfully and the times I have used it I didn’t have any significant side effects except for a gravelly throat.

            Honestly, many years ago when the doc prescribed me albuterol it changed my life so I’m good with it but I don’t have to use it a lot. I mainly do a lot of cycling, exercise with some weights and few things like hiking and swimming so I use it like you do with a hit off the inhaler before I exercise like the doc told me to. I had several massive surgeries a few years back and put on some weight that I couldn’t get off until last winter and spring with a doctors program and it helped my cycling tremendously! I used to have to ride to my heart rate and if I hit a big hill I was cooked but I rode the Triple Bypass out here in Colorado this summer plus a lot of training miles and I don’t really have to worry about my heart rate now. I was very happy to get to the end of the TBP after riding every single of the 122 miles! So my point there is if you have some extra weight it might actually be helping kick off your “exercise induced” asthma like I had for a long time. That and cats oy vey…

            Also, if the medicine makes you really nervous I was wondering if you also drink coffee or anything with caffeine in it? I have to watch it when I use my albuterol and drink my regular coffee because the 2 together will spike my blood pressure 15 points. Another weird thing I’ve noticed is that Ventolin works and tastes the best, Proventil works fairly well but Proair is just god awful all around! It tastes bad and doesn’t work as well for some reason. Anyway it looks like I wrote a primer on asthma so my next post will be about the sympathetic nervous system!

            1. Aam Admi*

              I had chronic cough for many years and was diagnosed with Asthma just last year. I take Advair twice a day and Ventolin to manage occasional flare ups. My cough is now almost disappeared.
              I used Zenhale first. The counter stops working after a couple of weeks and I have no idea if the inhaler dispensing the right dose. This happened with three different Zenhale inhalers. So my doc had me switch to Advair.

              1. bob*

                Wow, I’m glad they got you fixed up! Changing over to albuterol (Ventolin, Proventil, etc.) really did change my life so that I can do a lot more athletic stuff.

            2. Kali*

              Nope, never tried Advair or Ventolin. I think at this point, it’s just my doctor who occasionally pushes me to use something daily. I feel completely fine with how I’m managing my asthma; like you said, the Albuterol is awesome. I know that I can’t go outside to exercise when it’s super cold, but I’m pretty good at finding ways around it. (I’m in Colorado, too, so as you know, we still get a lot of really nice weather, even in the winter! The number of days I can’t go outside is pretty small.)

              I actually don’t drink caffeine much since I’m super sensitive to it. My husband can always tell if I’ve had something at work because I come home and talk non-stop…and all it takes is one cup of black tea! I think I’m just an anxious person (I get that from my mom).

              I’m also lucky in that I don’t actually have a lot of extra weight. I’m naturally a petite person (a positive trait passed down from my mom to balance the anxiety, I guess), so my main exercise goal is fitness rather than weight loss. Or fun–I’m happy as a clam during ski season!

              1. bob*

                Oooo I sense an AAM meetup!

                I’m glad your asthma doesn’t slow you down too much either. I definitely can’t ride when the temp gets down to the mid-40’s or below or it kicks of my asthma for sure. If I need to ride I’ll get on the trainer in front of the tv and watch a game of some sort to pass the time.

          2. Bea W*

            I prefer to stay away from asthma meds as much as I can. They tend to be stimulants, and as such have the side effects you describe. For me it gets to be a vicious cycle because can’t breathe = triggers cardiac symptoms which contribute to SOB, but use an inhaler = triggers cardiac symptoms….and so on. Plus I have chronic anxiety AND I often take a low dose of stimulant to help manage ADD, and using asthma medication on top of that…ugh. In the warm months I concentrate on controlling allergies, and in the cold, that means going easy outside and a scarf, which is tough because my glasses fog. Like you I only really both when I get a nasty chest cold. There were some days this past season where pollen was so bad I thought about asking my doctor if there were any non-stimulant rescue inhaler options for those days. I’d rather not add another daily med to the mix.

            I do have SAD, and when my depression acts up it tend to manifest with a lot of anxiety. Sometimes the anxiety masks the depression. It took me a long time to figure out that the increased anxiety was actually one of the primary manifestations of depression for me. The two are closely related and often travel together. I was really skeptical about the light, but I noticed improvement after a few days, and it works. I use it every year when I start getting the first hint of symptoms (increased anxiety, irritablity).

        2. Billy*

          Asthma person since ’92, but I only use an inhaler IF and WHEN needed,not everyday. Prior to an Albuterol inhaler, I started out on a nebulizer when diagnosed at age 6.

      2. Johr*

        Light therapy is something I’ve considered in the past but it might really be time to look into it. The seven minute workout sounds like its just what I need to get more activity in – thanks!

        1. Chris (de)*

          I would by it as a normal book, not for kindle. I like ebooks, but that is a book you want to thumb through and look at the exercises. That really works better with a book.

          I’d recommend getting the app if you have smartphone. Either You Are Your Own Gym for Android or Bodyweight (I think) for IPhone.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I have lived where there is very little sunlight in the winter for more than 10 years. I now live above the Arctic Circle, so the sun does not rise for 3 months (there’s currently some twilight-y light for 2-3hrs, but that’s it).

      Key things- get a sunlamp (SAD lamp). It really does help. I have the Philips GoBLU light on my desk at work and first thing I do is turn on my computer, then my lamp. I usually have it on for an hour or so in the morning, then I turn it on again for another hour before I leave for the day. The light says you only need 15mins, but more won’t hurt, and I think they are basing their 15 mins on someone not living above the Arctic Circle.

      Next thing- get outside! If you can go for a walk (or even better, a cross country ski?) during the day while there is a bit of light, that can make all the difference. When I could do this, I would take a 2hr lunch and ski for about an hour. It felt great. Now I can’t get away in the middle of the day, but after work I either put on a head lamp and go out for a ski somewhere, or luckily where I am there are lots of lighted ski trails around (but I prefer the head lamp + no people, so I usually go that route).

      Another thing- get some energy efficient lighting in your house, and then light it up! It doesn’t give you the same sun-replacement light that a SAD lamp does, but I think it makes me feel better when it is dark outside.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing this. I just got into a conversation with my doctor about SAD. Apparently, I have it. Who knew. I thought I was just draggy in the winter. Anyway he said 15-20 mins of light on the left side of your skull, and the area that is toward your face. So left front side of the top of your head. NOT your forehead- we are talking about the area of your head where hair grows.
        If you decide to get your sunlight naturally, from outdoors, do NOT wear a hat. (I have to come up with a plan, because I want to keep my ears covered, even though it is only 15 minutes.)

        I know in the winter I drink a lot less water, too. So make sure you are keeping your hydration levels UP. Nothing like have low level dehydration – you don’t realize you have this problem and have a vague feeling of something not being quite right.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Re: not wearing a hat: you can get one of those headbands for your ears! I got mine years ago from Lands’ End– I have massive hair that suffers under hats and needed something for my ears during a cold commute– and it keeps the ears nice and cozy.

          Echoing the point about water. It’s so important to keep drinking, even when it’s cold out. Green and herbal teas are great hot drinks with little or no caffeine.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, seconding the headband. I have what feels like a giant head and a schmedium Afro. Most hats don’t get on my head. I have a fleece headband by Turtle Fur (found it at REI) that got me through a January Chicago visit.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              High five to another lady with a giant head! :) Mine is, I swear, as big as some people’s waists. I once heard that Oprah has the same problem. I have ONE HAT that works (got it in Spain), and unfortunately, my mother’s amazing hat collection barely perches on one side of my skull. It is a Great Burden.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Yeah, this is me. I wear a men’s extra large hat. So I have slim pickings. Will check out the suggestions you guys have here. Thanks!

        2. Johr*

          Weirdly enough, I have noticed that I’ve been drinking less water so I’ll have to step that up, too. I have a doctor’s appointment coming up so it may be worth mentioning it then. I use public transportation so I am out and about during the sunlight hours, I’ll be making it a point to leave my hat at home!

          1. catsAreCool*

            If I keep water by my desk at work, it reminds me to drink it. The easier it is to drink water, the more likely I’ll drink it.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            My doctor was saying 15-20 is enough. And he seemed to indicate that I should do it when possible. So I guess it’s not critical to do it every day. Don’t let yourself be too cold!

      2. Riki*

        I am all about online work outs during the winter. I love being outdoors, but I am total cold weather wimp. Once December rolls around, I don’t go out much until March or April! I have a subscription to Barre3, but, as others have mentioned, there are endless work outs on You Tube. Also, I have to agree that it’s worth your time to get outside on sunnier, drier days.

        1. Johr*

          I have recently discovered youtube and have been trying out some simple beginners yoga in the evenings which has been really helpful. I’m trying to force myself to get away from my desk sooner (I’m used to taking my lunch between 3 and 4 due to a weird shift, and usually that’s about when I’ve hit my limit as far as concentrating).

    3. nep*

      You can get a great workout whatever the space you’ve got. Burpees, squats/weighted squats, mountain climbers, walking lunges, side plank/dips, pushups, jumping jacks, plank jacks…
      Doing some interval training with some high-intensity bodyweight exercises can be really effective.
      Good luck and let us know what you find works for you.

    4. Schmitt*

      It depends what kind of cold, dark winter you have. Snow? Sleet? Really icy wind? Eff that, I’m staying inside.

      Here it is cold and dark, but not very cold. I ride, outside on trails, all year long. November is a struggle to adjust, always. It’s so much more tempting to go sit on the couch. I have to NOT SIT DOWN when I get home from work. Change into barn clothes, kiss the wife, GO. If I sit down it’s all over.

      1. Johr*

        I’m in New England so in general…it’s pretty nasty. I vividly remember walking during the winter months last year with snow on the ground last year and being okay but I tried to do it once this week and it was brutal. The not sitting down thing actually might be a good trick for me to work on!

        1. Bea W*

          Last winter was brutal. There was one night in particular I couldn’t get either the train (things broke) or the bus (who knows where it was) up closest to my home and had to walk a mile. Within 5 minutes my legs were numb despite wearing long underwear and being constantly in motion.

          The sitting down thing is so true. That’s also why if I need to do something, I do it on the way home. Once I get to the house, it’s all over.

    5. Rebecca*

      I love going on YouTube for workouts. Some of my favorites are blogilates, tone it up, and popsugar fitness. They all have videos of different lengths and they normally give you modification suggestions. You will need to buy a light set of hand weights and a yoga mat. Good luck!

    6. Artemesia*

      Get a couple of sets of light weights and do an exercise routine morning and evening. Even 15 minutes twice a day of the typical light weight stretches and exercises helps keep fitness at a level. Things like sets of curls,squats, twists and thursts, overhead lifts, wings etc etc keep joints in shape and muscles toned. Weights are cheap, small — heck you can have them shipped on Amazon prime or pick them up at the local Target or whatever.

      I am doing a task right now with my scanner that has 6 minutes of downtime while it processes each batch. Not enough time to refocus on something mental but enough time to do several sets of exercises.

      1. Johr*

        During the week I work in an open office in a conservative workspace so doing anything during the day is really out of the question unless I’m on my lunch break out of the office. I do have a few handweights here at home that I will have to start putting to more use.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Hm, maybe find some exercise DVDs you can do at home? I go to the gym when I can’t walk outside, so I’m not much help there, sorry. But if it’s the membership you’re trying to avoid and not the gym itself, you might look into your local park board. Our city has several facilities that allow day passes and other payment options without those evil gym contracts. I lucked out because there is one right next to my work.

      1. Johr*

        I have a turbojam DVD that I really like – it’s super intense so I usually only do the first 15-20 minutes but when I stick with it, I notice a difference. Honestly my biggest problem is that once I’m home, I sort of turn everything off so I’m trying to look for something to put into that space during the day that I used to use for walking so I don’t get too far behind my goals. Given the weather though, my only solution might be to take a relaxing lunch break and step it up in the mornings/evenings to compensate.

    8. C Average*

      Get outside. You can’t let the weather chase you indoors. Even if the sun isn’t out, you can still enjoy the fresh air, the change in seasons, and the enjoyment of walking a familiar or new route each day.

      Start with the right socks and shoes or boots. You want something that’s enjoyable to walk in. Bridgedale makes wonderful ski socks that wick well, stay dry, provide the right amount of warmth and cushioning, and work well for cold, wet conditions of all kinds. They’re spendy, but they last forever. I have a few pairs I’ve had for over a decade. For boots or shoes, find something that doesn’t feel heavy or clunky. I actually like a Gore-Tex running shoe for this. Having lower uppers and no constraints around the ankle makes it more comfortable, and being able to slip easily in and out (rather than lacing up each time) will make you more likely to put them on and actually go out.

      Then move on to gloves and hat. You want gloves that are warm but still allow some dexterity. I like convertible mitts, the kind with the fingerless gloves and the mittens that flip over them. The best ones are at the military surplus stores, I’ve found. Sierra Trading Post usually has good ones, too. You want a hat that keeps you warm and dry and is small enough that you can take it off and stuff it in your pocket.

      The right coat is actually less important than these peripherals. Once you have warm and comfortable hands, feet, and head, THEN decide how much coat you need and shop for it.

      I walk EVERYWHERE and have for years, including many winters in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Walking in the winter if you’re physically comfortable is actually really lovely. The holiday decorations, the bustling feeling of the season, the ever-changing weather . . . it’s interesting and fun rather than depressing, so long as you’re dressed for it.

      (I used to manage an outdoor gear shop and offered this kind of advice all the time! That was a fun job. The pay was crappy, and I bought so much outdoor gear that I often got a bill rather than a paycheck, but boy was it a great way to spend the workday.)

      1. Stephanie*

        My dad had to go to Fairbanks in January for work a couple of years ago. His job gave him a company credit card to get outfitted. He said he showed up to REI like “I need to buy clothes to go to Fairbanks. I don’t own any real winter clothes. I have a company card and no budget” and the clerk got very, very excited.

      2. Monodon monoceros*

        Yes! There is a Norwegian saying that translates to “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes” (it rhymes in Norwegian so it’s catchier) But it is totally true!

      3. Johr*

        I’m usually walking in sneakers, a comfy coat over a hoodie, scarf and gloves but I honestly never even thought to invest in warm socks! It might be time for me to start wearing tights under my work pants too – I discovered this trick a few years ago and it makes such a difference given how windy it is around my workplace. Thanks for the tips!

      4. Bea W*

        Gonna second this. I’ve walked year round to commute. If you are dressed right, it’s not uncomfortable to go out walking in the cold and even snow. It can actually feel quite energizing.

    9. Mephyle*

      Seconding YouTube for workouts. Some of the best include Fitness Blender, BodyRock (and Zuzana Light after the breakup), and Hang Tight With MarC – you can also go to their respective websites. Or simply search YouTube for ‘bodyweight exercises’, ‘bodyweight workout’.

      1. Johr*

        I love getting real recommendations for Youtube so I’m adding these to my list – I really think I’ve underused it as a resource so far.

    10. Trixie*

      In addition to some time outdoors, I would also check out your local meet-up groups for group exercise stuff like walking, jogging, etc. Great way to work out and some socialization so you’re somewhat committed to showing up. I also find local neighborhood FB groups that host some stuff like free yoga. Lastly, like everything else its often a matter of habit so the more you do it the more you’ll crave it. And the more automatic is becomes, not so much like another thing that has to be done.

      1. Johr*

        Definitely trying to change the habits and working in a group would pressure me to show up in a good way so I’ll look into this!

    11. Waiting Patiently*

      Great suggestions here as I’m looking for the same someplace to work out without joining a gym. Winters are dark and cold here too and it really drains me. I never really put much thought into how much it changes my mood until recently. I’ve heard about the lamps just thought it wouldn’t work.. Anyway I’m definitely going to put this on my must get list. I try to keep my blinds and curtains open most of the day but with it getting dark at 4 and I’m stuck at work til 3 –so much for any chance of direct sunshine. I do find myself going out on my lunch break just to get sunlight…

      1. Johr*

        I used to go to a gym and loved it but they changed from a Planet Fitness into something else and the atmosphere changed. Without a car, there’s really no other affordable gym that’s convenient so I’m trying to stick with it on my own. I work in a very well-lit office with large windows but my shift starts midday so by the time I get in, there’s only a few hours before it starts to get dark outside which I think might be messing with me even more. I don’t get out until later in the evening so I might have to start making more of an effort to get up and about earlier in the morning to enjoy the sunshine!

      2. Bea W*

        I was totally skeptical about the lamps, but I was miserable and desperate and thought it certainly wouldn’t make things worse. I was amazed at how much it did work. I am used to anti-depressants that take a month to kick it, but with the light I was getting really noticeable results after a few days, and I think I was feeling pretty normalish after a week.

    12. Not So NewReader*

      The best winter I have had in a long time was the winter some friends and I launched a community project. I spent the darkest hours of winter being very excited about this project. We had to raise funds, inform people and so on. The project became available to the public in Feb. Perfect. Right when everyone is sick of winter here is this new cool thing.
      You might come up with something like this at some point, too. You can also think about personal projects for example you could decide to complete a free online course. Never underestimate the power of a short term positive goal.

    13. HAnon*

      I have a stationary bike in my living room. I get up a few minutes earlier and jump on the bike for a bit, or do it when I get home. If you can do it in the morning, it really helps jumpstart the day. Amazon has models for just over $100…which is basically two months gym membership, so it pays for itself very quickly. I also have a pull up bar and some small weights for when I want to work my upper body. I’m not great about doing exercise videos, but I like doing reps while watching a show or listening to a book on tape. The bike is great for getting a quick and easy cardio routine in. Hope this helps!

      1. HAnon*

        I should add that I struggle with SAD every year, and the exercise really helps — even just a few minutes a day.

    14. health care anon*


      What about if you volunteered on your weekends for a local animal shelter and walked their dogs for an hour or so? I know you are wanting to stay indoors, but maybe a four legged friend and some good karma could motivate you to get outdoors during the winter? Just a thought.

      I also like Beachbody workouts at home in the morning in my basement. Does your workplace have a gym? You could try that too directly before/after work?

    15. HR Manager*

      Do you have Comcast or some other cable service with video-on-demand? I found out that Comcast has a whole bunch of exercise programs for free with their VOD service. Everything from low-impact to hardcore. It might be hit or miss depending on personality, but they can be good to follow along for a good workout. Same on youtube – you can find a good variety of routines to help you stay active.

    16. Kat*

      If you live in a dark, cold place in the winter season, odds are you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder – and no, depression is not the only symptom! Fatigue and exhaustion, joint pain, lingering colds, etc are all indications of low vitamin D levels. I’d first recommend you take a supplement. I’m a 30 year old female and I take 5000 mg a few days weekly. And while I’m certainly no physician, I believe that it’s very hard to overdo it on vitamin D throughout the winter months.

      Second, find a few awesome winter hobbies. Being active is hard in the winter, but there is accomplishment and invigoration in conquering outdoor hobbies rather than just “going for a walk.” Consider ice fishing, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, and as one responder mentioned – cross country skiing. Even a couple of days a week having fun outdoors and soaking in the fresh air can do so much for the mind, body, and soul. While weekday scheduling might be tough to get outdoors since it gets dark so early, really make the effort to just get outside, even for a short amount of time. A quick walk around the block or shoveling some snow… those actually count! Just getting outdoors and moving, even if for a short amount of time, even when it’s dark, even if it’s sporadic… they will make a difference!

  6. LAMM*

    What’s your go-to potluck/bring along dish?

    I’m in charge of supplying lunch at work for Thanksgiving/Black Friday (being paid for with a prepaid gift card supplied by the company). It’s retail, so we’ll be open 28 hours. We have a mini-fridge that likes to keep things in a semi-frozen state and an ok microwave. I only have 1 crockpot that I’m planning to do a couple of batches of BBQ chicken in it (pre-cooked, just kept warm in the crockpot) for warm sandwiches or whatever since chicken seems to be something that everyone there can eat. I might be able to borrow one more though. I’m trying to bring some “real food” on top of snacks/treats since chips and cookies for lunch on a 8 hour day isn’t ideal.

    The gift card averages out to $5-6 per person, so catering is out of the option. I’m particularly interested in cheap and easy to throw together items that can afford to sit out if needed. I am going to try and borrow a small cooler and pack it with ice packs, but that’s not 100%. Plus this all needs to get done before/after work, so nothing time consuming.

    Any ideas would be much appreciated!

    1. Megan*

      Could you bring an esky and keep a simple garden salad in a big tupperwear container? Or fruit salad? Or dips and cut up veggies? Perhaps google some ideas!

      1. LAMM*

        Good ideas! They were asking for some healthier options instead of just junk food. There’s a place around here that has cheap fruits and veggies so these could work. Thanks!

    2. Kay*

      It depends on where I’m going, but my main go-to is 7 layer dip (it is a chips/dip thing, but more substantial than just queso or guac or something) basically you have a base layer in your pan of browned ground beef, top it with refried beans, guacamole, sour cream, cheese… some people like layers of olives or jalapenos, but I don’t care for either of those. I know I’m missing something… but anyway, you can scoop it with a spoon or actually cut “pieces” of it and eat it with chips. It’s fairly filling even thought it’s a “dip”.

      1. Just Visiting*

        I love seven layer dip! We have a vegetarian version, from bottom to top it’s refried beans > guac or avocado slices > black beans > sour cream > tomatoes > onions > black olives > jalapenos > cheese. This is actually nine layers now that I’m looking at it. Bake for 20 minutes, makes two meals for two people or one party dish.

    3. Sourire*

      If I know it’s going to be sitting out for a while I like to make a non mayo based pasta salad, though that may be more appropriate for warmer months. Balsamic dressing and a sundried tomato dressing (adapted from Ina Garten) are both usually crowd pleasers.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        Yep, that’s one of mine too – pasta, asparagus, cherry tomatoes, black olives, feta, and balsamic dressing.

        I sometimes also do spaghetti squash with garlic mushrooms, asparagus, and cashew nuts mixed in.

        Or, if I’m lazy, a couple of nice cheeses and some crackers.

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      They’re giving you $5-6 a person and expecting you to make up the difference in your own labor of cooking and grocery shopping? I hope you get some sort of extra compensation or recognition for that!

      I really love the roasted vegetables with parsley sauce recipe from (google it so this post doesn’t sit in moderation for a while). It can sit for hours (if you leave out the goat cheese) and it tastes great.

    5. Colette*

      Frozen meatballs work well in a crock pot. Vegetables/fruit trays. Rolled sandwiches requure prep in advance, but you just slice on the day.

    6. BRR*

      I do black bean salad a lot. Two cans drained black beans, 1/2 a bag frozen corn, 2 tomatoes, 1 red onion, optional jalapeno, put in a tablespoon of lime juice and some cilantro on top. Best part is it tastes better the next day after it sits so it encourages you to make it ahead of time. I usually double the beans and corn, possibly add a tomato, but leave it at 1 onion depending on the size of the onion/s.

    7. Stephanie*

      My go-to is usually salsa roja. I grab some garlic cloves and jalapeños (usually one per can of fire roasted tomatoes if I’m making it for others and want to keep it mild) and roast them in a pan until the skin of both starts to get charred. Remove the garlic skins and pepper stem, put that in a food processor with a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and blend. I season with apple cider vinegar or lime juice (to cut through the sweetness of the tomatoes), salt and pepper, and then garnish with diced white onion and cilantro.

      For heartier foods, I’d suggest a grain or bean salad with an oil- or vinegar-based dressing. I saw someone mentioned black bean salad, which sounds great.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Just a heads up – I would keep cilantro on the side. Many cilantro lovers don’t realize there’s an entire population of people who have a genetic predisposition to think cilantro tastes like evil in herb form. It ruins meals for me. When I travel abroad, one of the first things I learn is how to say “no cilantro” int he language and keep a piocture of it on my phone to show people. I’m not being picky – it is one of the most awful tastes on earth to me.

    8. Artemesia*

      Rather than giving people 5$ gift cards they ought to cater the meat course — and ask people to bring sides IMHO. When I was working I finally started bringing a bucket of fried chicken to these things – since the staff couldn’t really afford to bring the main course and we would end up with a lot of really terrible mac and cheese and snack foods. One of my colleagues would bring a ham and I would bring a big bucket of fried chicken and two or three other professional colleagues would bring something substantial like that and it would be filled out by salads and other sides brought by the staff.

      One of my go tos is a dish of yams made with mashed yams (roasted then mashed) with honey and lime juice topped with a strip of creme fraiche or sour cream. It is very yummy — one of our Thanksgiving staples and fairly inexpensive to make. It is also not particularly prone to spoiling and giving everyone food poisoning if not handled perfectly. Heat then add the sour cream stripe.

      1. Weasel007*

        I just coordinated a Thanksgiving potluck for my group of around 200 people. Unfortunately, after all my coordination, I ended up working sll night the night before and couldn’t make my own potluck! Here are some ideas:

        Our upper management donated a ham, and a deep fried turkey. That could be what your gift card goes to. Honey baked ham works great because you can leave it a little longer than a turkey. Try boston Market, Bojangles, the local grocery store, even walmart. Don’t forget to get plates, cups, utensils covered. sams/costco has large sets of all for cheap. Also, we go for gallons of sweet/ unsweet tea.

        For stuff people are bringing, divide it in to groups: side, dessert, bread, other (condiments). If you can, do a sign up sheet. If you have 100 people, after 3 or 4 people sign up for mac and cheese, inform folks to bring something else. I am at a bank and we used sharepoint as a sign up, and each sign up required the type. I could see if we had too many cakes, green beans etc. yes people will say they are bringing one thing and change their mind, but 80% bring what they planned.

        Finally, at sams/costco they sell buffet sets for about $13. It includes a pan for 2 dishes and a sterno. Check to make sure that is allowed. I got 2 of these and saved them in a drawer last year. Reused them with new sternos and first come first grab on foods that need to stay warm.

        Best of luck and let us know how it turns out next Sunday!

    9. C Average*

      Roman Apple Cake. It’s a recipe I found years ago in my mom’s Whole Earth Cookbook from back in her hippie days. Since then, I’ve adapted the recipe a bit–I now top it with an oatmeal streusel topping and sometimes throw in pears and plums. It’s delicious, relatively good for you, and a good way to use up apples that are no longer crisp enough for snacking. Speaking of apples, crock-pot applesauce is also good. It’s wonderful winter comfort food.

        1. C Average*

          Sure thing! It’s good I’m writing this out. My handwritten recipe is so trashed I can barely read it. It’s good to commit it to posterity before it’s completely destroyed.

          2 c flour (I use whole wheat, and it’s good–the kids eat it!)
          1/2 c bran (because fiber is awesome)
          2 t baking soda
          1 t cinnamon (I usually use more, because too much cinnamon is a concept I don’t believe in)
          1 t salt
          1/2 t nutmeg (throw in ground cloves or allspice, too, if you want to–it’s all good)
          4 c peeled, grated apples
          3/4 c sugar (use less if the apples are sweet–I typically use about half that)
          3/4 c brown sugar (again, go easy if the apples are sweet)
          1/2 c oil
          1 c chopped walnuts
          2 eggs, beaten
          1 t vanilla

          Throw all of that together and mix well. Put in a lightly greased pan. I usually use a rectangular Pyrex. I don’t use the same size consistently. I grab whatever is clean. Just about any large-ish size appears to work.

          Mix together the following:

          1 T melted butter
          2 t cinnamon
          1/3 c brown sugar
          2 T flour
          1/4 c chopped nuts
          1/4 rolled oats

          Sprinkle over the top. Bake in 350 degree preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until done.

          Eat and enjoy!

    10. Mephyle*

      Mine is salad or vegetables. Salad tip: Put the tomatoes and dressing on the bottom, and the lettuce on top. The vegetables will marinade in the dressing, and keep the lettuce from sitting in the dressing and getting soggy. Then toss the salad just before serving.
      For vegetables, just about every everybody likes a casserole of cruciferous vegetable(s) (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts) baked in a cheesey, creamy sauce.

    11. Waiting Patiently*

      oh we just had a pot luck and I signed up for drinks. I was wracking my brain trying to come up with something other than a two liter bottle of seltzer, coke and diet coke (which I did buy) then I thought about warm like apple cider since the day of our potluck was supposed to be cold and rainy. I found a hot spiced apple cider slow cooker recipe on google and it was so good. All you need is a jug of apple cider, an orange with cloves pierced in the skin, and cinnamon sticks and a crock pot. And if your company doesn’t mind alcohol, mine doesn’t allow it, at work you could spike it with rum. It would have probably been better if it was spiked but good just the same. It was a quick and easy set up once I got to work.

    12. LawBee*

      frozen meatballs in barbeque sauce. it is seriously the easiest thing ever, and you’ll be amazed at how much people love it.

      1. Celeste*

        Mine is frozen *Italian*meatballs in BBQ sauce with a drained can of pineapple chunks. But it needs the flavored meatballs.

      2. Sourire*

        My favorite variation on it is equal parts BBQ sauce, heinz chili sauce (ketchup would work too) and grape jelly. I know, I know, the jelly sounds weird. It is so good though. I think that sauce could make cardboard taste good.

    13. soitgoes*

      I usually get a round of brie, spread some raspberry jam on top of it, wrap it in crescent roll dough, and throw it in the oven. It’s a low-key baked brie.

      You could make a bunch of simple sandwiches and cut them into small squares with toothpicks stuck in them to hold them together. Or a veggie plate? Just cut up a bunch of random produce and stick it next to a thing of ranch dip or hummus. These work potlucks always end up so carb heavy that it’s a good idea to have something fresh around.

    14. Student*

      Jiffy corn muffin. Delicious, really easy to make, easy to cart around, already portion-sized so no special serving utensils needed.

    15. anon in tejas*

      veggie tray is really easy if you DYI instead of bring from the store. Also, you can make your own ranch dip. This is a go to for me.

      Also, I am a huge fan of tacos? Can you get tortillas, guacamole, beans, rice, salsa, cheese, sour cream and salad greens. Folks can make their own plate as health/not healthy as they want.

  7. LPBB*

    I know that Imposter Syndrome has come up before on this blog. Does anyone have recommendations for books about how to overcome Imposter Syndrome?

    1. Kali*

      I really liked The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women. I think probably the hardest and most important thing to understand, though, is that you never really overcome imposter syndrome. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn and develop tools for helping to minimize its effect on your life!

  8. Gene*

    The AAM WoW guid is live on the Madoran realm, Horde side. My battletag is SSpiffy2#1271. Current guild name is “Protect the Voonerables”, will change to something teapot related when I get around to it and want to spend the money.

  9. Kay*

    So today is my uncle’s funeral. I’ve never really had to deal with death in my life. My grandfather passed away when my dad was 12, so long before I was born. It’s been a hell of a week as I try to be supportive of my grandma and my mom, but I don’t find myself grieving much. I wasn’t especially close to him, but he was always at family gatherings and stuff and it’s definitely going to be weird not having him around.

    Also, I know that my sister is currently bearing the brunt of all of this because my grandparents are staying with my parents and my sister lives at home with them while I have my own place. She’s starting to get snarky with me about my “lack” of help even though I’ve asked over and over again what I can do and done almost everything that’s been asked of me.

    How can I help my family through this and hopefully have some semblance of a normal Thanksgiving this year?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      ugh. Everyone grieves in their own way. Additionally, every death is different. So there’s lots of variables here.

      First, let go of the idea of a normal Thanksgiving. You’re driving other people nuts. (Sorry that that is a bit harsh, but you absolutely must know this point. )For them, Thanksgiving is not normal and it may never be normal again. If you try to force it to be normal, at best you will appear as being very odd/disconnected. However, you can say that you are very grateful this Thanksgiving for the people you do have in your life. That would be a lovely thing to say. Shift in to a practical mode and see how you can help with preparing the food.

      Second, is your angry sis. Grief does all kinds of things to people. One of the things it does is inspire them to get angry with other people. If your sis is angry with you, then she does not have to process her own grief. She is too busy being angry with you. Ask her specifically, what you can do to help HER. Your general questions addressed to all, may not do anything for her. Think of her anger toward you as a plea for help. Do little things like sit beside her at the funeral. Ride in the car she rides in and so on. In days/weeks to come, if she remains angry with you- tell her that she needs to sit down and a have a good solid cry. Don’t engage in whatever topic has her ticked off at the moment. Encourage her to remember fond moments with your uncle, and encourage her to talk about him.

      1. Kay*

        Your comment actually felt a lot more than “a bit harsh”. It was rude and unkind. I lost my uncle and I’m trying to deal with that. I hadn’t said anything to anyone in my family about a “normal” thanksgiving, but my mother said she was going to try to do it as traditionally as possible for my grandparents’ sake, so I will do whatever I can to help her.

        1. Colette*

          I think a lot of times, people cling to the traditions because it is what they know, it is controllable, and because they don’t want to lose something else. It ks ok to say “Mom, I don’t really care jf we have X” if she starts getting overly concerned about making it perfect.

          1. Mister Pickle*

            +10,000 Respect!

            (Not to derail, but wow, it’s so rare to see people on the ‘net apologize for something like this. I could get used to it)(Personally, I didn’t find NSNR’s response especially rude, but maybe that’s because I’m quite familiar with their track record for offering helpful advice. It can be challenging to write a response here on AAM that is concise, helpful, and accurate, all in a limited amount of time. I know I’ve put my foot in my mouth on numerous occasions here; sometimes the ‘writing voice’ in my head expresses a thought in a manner that is meant to be cordial but the ‘reading voice’ in other people’s heads pitches it a totally different manner)

    2. brightstar*

      I’m sorry for your loss.

      Everyone grieves in their own way. So try not to worry that you’re not feeling the way you should, sometimes it just takes time. Like Not So NewReader said, your sister is probably just taking things out on you and her suggestion of specifically asking her what you can do to help her is a good one.

      I’ve also found holidays after a family member has passed away are the toughest times where I really miss them. A low key Thanksgiving might be in order this year, rather than a “normal” one. Things have changed, and people need time to adjust.

      1. Kay*

        Thanks, it’s been… I don’t even know how to describe this week.

        Yeah, I think I should try to ask my sister directly. I’ve been mostly asking my mom because she’s been the one giving my sister things to do and I was thinking if I took some of the things from mom directly that there would be less for her to do. I also know it’s been stressful and crazy at my parents’ house because my grandparents are staying there, my aunt & her husband are staying there, so that makes 7 adults in the house. I also gave my sister a blanket invitation that any time the house became too much, she was welcome to come and spend a few hours at my house just to get away from the fray a bit. She hasn’t taken me up on it yet, but I hope she appreciated the invitation.

        1. Colette*

          One thong that jumps out at me is food. If you can,deal with that. Pick up bagged salads or veggie trays, take a casserole out of the freezer, or just decide “we’re having X tonight”. Food is exhausting.

          Also laundry – towels, sheets, etc. from all of the extra people.

          1. Mephyle*

            Also, observe her and notice what else she’s doing and resenting doing. Step in and help her, or start doing it yourself and tell her to go (relax/cry/do another chore), you’ve got it covered.

            1. Armchair Analyst*

              Treat these guests at your sister’s house like new babies – does that make sense? Tell your sister you’re coming over some evening, from 6 -10 pm, say, or a whole weekend day, like from 10 am – 7 pm, and you be at the house and handle everything & everyone, including errands, driving, shopping, cooking, etc. and your sister goes out and sees a movie, gets a haircut, gets a dinner or lunch with friends and wine, whatever. She needs time to herself and right now she doesn’t have any.

              Time is the best gift. How can you give it to her?

    3. NJ anon*

      Just being there helps. Have a heart-to-heart with your sister. This is a time when you need each other. Family is important.

    4. ExceptionToTheRule*

      My condolences on your uncle’s passing.

      My suggestion for trying to help is to stop asking what the family needs help with and instead offer to do specific things based on what people are talking about needing done. When my father passed away there was just too much to do that every time my brother (who was 1000 miles away) asked what he could do to help, I was so overwhelmed that I couldn’t come up with anything concrete because there was just too much to do, but when he offered to take care of closing the cell phone bill out, that was an easy thing to hand off.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      Asking “what can I do to help” is tricky. It often has a backwards effect because “Think of things for Kay to handle” just becomes one more thing on your sister’s/mom’s to do list instead of the relief that you intend it to be. It would be received better, I think, if you could be proactive and say “can I take care of X for you?”

      Regarding Thanksgiving in particular, could you take on actually hosting dinner at your place? It might seem logical to do it at your mom’s house since everyone else is already staying there, but adding the chaos of prepping a significant meal on top of already housing/feeding four extra people might feel overwhelming. And they would probably all appreciate a change of scenery.

    6. Artemesia*

      The help needed in this kind of situation is escape from the place she is i.e. someone else bearing the brunt of the grandparents’ grief. So any chance you can invite her to your place or out to lunch or can step in and be with the grandparents so she gets a break? This is a ‘being there’ sort of situation.

    7. fposte*

      The differential burden on siblings is pretty common, and it’s tough to deal with. You probably have, but just in case–have you thanked your sister for doing the heavy lifting? That’s not something people take for granted if it’s unsaid. Otherwise, I agree with the notion that it’s better to offer specific services than to ask what you can do; it’s especially effective with things like grocery shopping that you were going to do anyway (at least ostensibly).

    8. Jillociraptor*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. My grandmother passed away right before Christmas (and my grandfather on the same side had died some years earlier on New Year’s Eve, so the season was always a bit tough anyway). My advice is to try not to feel on the hook for creating a normal holiday. If people are having big feelings and want to reminisce about your uncle, don’t feel like you’re failing if you let them do it. If they seem to prefer the distraction, let that happen too. It’s a hard time; no need to make it harder on yourself by trying to engineer just the right mood.

      I’ll be thinking of you. This is just really hard.

    9. Anon Accountant*

      I’m sorry about his passing. How about offering specific things? “Should I bring the veggie tray or pies?” Offer specific things and offer help with specific items. Are you available Wednesday to help for the holiday? If so you could help with the day before prep.

      And grief affects many in different ways. The best thing you can do is listen to her. Anger is a stage in the grieving process.

    10. Sunflower*

      So sorry for what you’re going through. Death and grief are weird things. Everyone does it their own way and there are so many different wants it can be done. One minute someone can be fine and they lash out the next.

      I think the most important thing is to not force anything and follow other people’s cues. If someone wants to talk, then talk. If someone wants to say nothing, be quiet. As for Thanksgiving, does your family want a normal thanksgiving? I see below that your mom does but is it what your grandparents want? Death can take a huge toll on people and maybe your family wants to do what’s less stressful which can often times mean not traditional. Make sure this is what your family really wants and if so, just offer to pick up anything you can. Throw out offers to make certain items or pick up the drinks without it needed to be asked. And remember that what might work today, might not work tomorrow. Dealing with death is a process and feelings can change by the minute. And remember to take care of yourself too.

    11. Anonyby*

      I’m so sorry for your loss. *hugs*

      I don’t have any advice (and others have given some great advice). I sympathize, though. We lost my grandmother just before Christmas a few years back, and then my mother just before Thanksgiving the following year. It was rough, and made worse by the fact that those were their respective favorite holidays. We’re on our third holiday season without either of them, and holidays just haven’t been the same since.

      1. Lisa*

        My mother just passed away from a long illness and I can honestly say that grief and losing a loved one is very bewildering. I also haven’t had a lot of experience with death. Like the others said, just do something, cook for them, clean, whatever they seem to need. It’s a tough time for all. You included. Even if it doesn’t feel like it’s the same as your family’s grief. Hugs to you!

    12. Clever Name*

      I am so sorry. Grief is a bit of a trickster. It doesn’t always look like grief. My mother has been irrevocably changed by the loss of her brother (my uncle).

      See if you can figure out something that needs to be done and either do it or tell your mom and sister, “Hey, I’ll handle the sandwiches for the funeral reception [or whatever]. Any objections?”

    13. Liane*

      I am so sorry for your loss. We lost my dad at Thanksgiving 17 years ago.
      As many others have already suggested, doing specific things rather than just saying “What can I do to help?” is better. People who are grieving *are* too distracted to come up with something on the spot. Look for things that need doing, &/or ask about specifics. “Do you need me to catch the phone calls & door/make a grocery run/keep track of who sent what/call about getting accounts or services stopped?”
      Think out of the box. When we lost my mother-in-law, a dear family friend sent a bunch of Redbox code coupons for free DVD rentals, so our teens “would have something fun” in the days & weeks to come.

      Also, be prepared for your family members who were closer to your uncle to have a hard time at future Thanksgivings, for any number of years, no matter how much they may try to have the same traditions. So you might need to take over some tasks then–or just be extra tolerant. I was out-of-sorts some part of November up until the last few years; wanting to run away for a while is the closest I can describe it. My husband, thankfully helped me deal with that by going out for Thanksgiving dinner l and/or visiting the local parks.

    14. Elle*

      My MIL passed away a month ago, she was my husband’s only family so I understand what you’re going through. This year for Thanksgiving I just ordered prepared dinner in a box from Whole Foods, it will reduce the stress of traveling, cooking, coordinating who brings what, etc and make this week a quiet 4 day weekend with takeout dinner. Good luck.

  10. Windchime*

    I’m knitting chunky afghans for both of my adult children for Christmas. I’m finished with one and working hard on the second one. While I knit, I am binge-watching “Under The Dome”. I keep watching but it’s actually kind of horrible. In a good way.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Read the book and you won’t think it is good. Also, that reminds me–I need to drag out the knitting again and practice. I’m never going to finish this washcloth!

      1. Windchime*

        Maybe I will read the book instead. I’m interested to see what is going to happen, but now I’m about five episodes in and it’s starting to just feel like a normal, badly-written TV drama.

        I’m addicted to knitting and can’t stop.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          The book was so good. That was one I couldn’t put down, even though it’s a huge brick. I HATED what they did to the character of Julia on the show. She’s too young and too pretty. I call that “youth-washing.”

          I keep trying, but I’m having trouble. I can make the stitches; they just get too tight and then other stuff happens and I have to rip it out. I’ve ripped out this thing ten times already. There is a person in my nerd group who knits; I might take the washcloth to a meeting and have her help me.

        2. Bea W*

          The TV show and the book are two entirely different animals. The plot on the show is unrecognizable from the book, and the characters may have the same names, but they are totally different in the book.

      2. LawBee*

        I couldn’t even read the book. I am a long-time fan of King, but that scene at the beginning where whatshisface beats his wife was a bit too graphically described for me. I do not at all think King is any kind of a physically violent man, but that was one woman-beating scene too much for me.

        Also, it was freaking HEAVY.

    2. Anonyby*

      You have my eternal respect for being able to finish one afghan, much less about to finish a second! I struggle with big projects like blankets or sweaters. In fact, I’ve only ever finished on blanket, and that was a baby blanket for my niece. I did the bulk of that in what was probably 16-18 hour days of speed-knitting that I can no longer replicate.

      1. Windchime*

        These are both pretty mindless pieces of knitting. The first one is a cable stitch, which looks fancy but there are 10 rows of plain old knit/purling and then one exciting row where the cable twist is done. Then back to 10 rows of boring.

        The next one is actually just plain knitting, but it’s going to turn out prettier because of the color combinations.

        1. Anonyby*

          Cables are pretty much the most simplistic thing I can do for ‘mindless’ knitting. Straight stockinette or the like is just TOO simple for me! lol I mostly do things like socks (with some sort of texture pattern) or shawls.

          I haven’t be able to really knit in a while, though. Just too much life stress depressing me to the point where I can’t even craft.

          1. Lisa*

            One word: Crochet!

            I love crochet and hate knitting even though I knitted for several years. At least in crochet, you can hide mistakes. Not so much in knitting.

            I’m in the process of reading “Under the Dome” too and I can’t make myself continue reading it. It’s even slower than the TV show, if you can believe that. Also, I have a feeling that it’s about to get ugly. All of Steven King’s books do that – start out great and then… start going downhill. I loved The Stand but the ending was lame.

  11. Beezus*

    Does anyone know anything about skateboards? A kid on my Christmas list wants one, and I know zero about them, and I can’t ask. I want to buy something cool but relatively budget friendly. My max budget would be $100.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Is this a wannabe-boarder or someone who already has one and is hoping for a nicer one? I would spend less for one that you don’t know is going to get “played” with than if I knew it was already the kid’s hobby/sport of choice. I don’t know anything about them myself, but DH says that a “good” one is probably in the $80-100 range. Hit up a dedicated sports shop (bike shop, ski/snowboard shop, etc.) rather than Target.

      1. Beezus*

        I really don’t know. My workplace partners with a local charity to give Christmas gifts to local kids in need, and that’s what this is for. I have an annual tradition with my son, every year I pick a boy from the drive list about his age, and we shop for him together. This is the only toy/plaything on the list, so I have to assume it’s something he reallllly wants, and I wanted to go a step beyond whatever I’d find at Target. I live in a fairly small town, though, if I’m going to a skate shop I’ll have to save it for my one big shopping trip to the nearest urban area. It’s good to know I should be able to find something in my budget, though, thanks! :D

        1. C Average*

          My mom used to do this with my sister and me. It was my favorite part of Christmas! It’s awesome that you do this with your son.

          I happen to work for a company that makes (among other things) really nice skateboarding backpacks, with extra straps for carrying the skateboard. I’d love to have one sent to you for the boy you’re sponsoring. If you’re interested, shoot me an email at clover dot neiberg at gee! mail! dot com.

    2. C Average*

      I don’t know, but I’ll be watching this thread (and may contribute after I’ve had a chance to talk to a couple of skater boys at work). I am planning to buy my 12-year-old stepdaughter a skateboard for Hanukkah.

    3. azvlr*

      I started to say that a good quality skateboard was out of your budget, but a quick check online (we went to found well-known brands in your price range. You can select individual parts to build one yourself , but will do better, price-wise, for complete boards. I know from experience that a cheap skateboard might function so poorly that the kid decides they can’t skate and give up on the whole idea.

      Find out as much information as you can from the kid about brands and preferences without giving away the surprise.

    4. Lisa*

      Is there a skate shop near you? If you go in (or call them) and explain the situation, they can undoubtedly steer you in the right direction. Bonus might be that if the shop is local and the board isn’t exactly right, an exchange can probably be done. Failing that, can any of your neighbors’ kids help you out?

  12. Cassie*

    I have a problem in that I try to be too nice and friendly when I first meet someone (I think I’m overcompensating for being pretty self-conscious / shy) and it’s hard to keep up over time. I much rather be my usual quiet self and blend into the woodwork.

    Case #1 – a guy who rides the same subway car. Normally, I don’t talk to other people on the subway but we’d ride the same subway car each day so we started with polite nods of recognition each day which led to brief conversations (just very general topics). Except I started finding it exhausting and so now I purposely ride a different subway car. He may have seen me a couple of times and may wonder why but at this point, I don’t care.

    Case #2 – I used to go to lunch or coffee with a coworker. We’d chat about work, tv shows, her dream career, etc. I’m trying to be more positive in life and her negativity is dragging me down. I started working out at lunch so that makes for a perfect excuse but she keeps asking anyway. Unfortunately, I can’t just hop onto another subway car to avoid her.

    What’s the best way to get out of these awkward situations? It’s like once you say hi or exchange a nod with a person, you’ve signed some kind of socially-binding contract in perpetuity. Should I just be polite but cool in the future? Should I just always wear headphones and be super interested in my phone all the time? It’s not complete strangers (like shop clerks) that I have problems with, it’s the people who I have to see daily.

    1. Just here for the view*

      I think that case 1 and case 2 are different. Case 1 is a stranger, so it’s normal to just let it fizzle out. Ride in a different car, or nod at him and stick your nose in a book or put on headphones. Case 2 is harder because she’s a coworker, and I don’t really have any advice for that. But at least by working out you have a legitimate reason for not going out to lunch with her (besides the fact that she’s so negative).

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Commuting is a time for people to charge and get ready for the day. Most people understand that. Headphones help immensely with situations like yours; smile and wave, and if he moves for a conversation, you can always point to the headphones. You’re listening to a great audiobook, or you’re concentrating on something. Books help too. He might be confused but if he’s a reasonable guy, he’ll eventually get the hint. I once ran into a co-worker on the subway, she sat down next to me, we exchanged greetings, she pulled out a book. I got it.

      The second one, just keep doing what you’re doing. Working out, wanting some alone time, all is fine. The important thing here is to be confident in your responses to her. “Hey, want to grab lunch?” “No thanks! It’s been a rough day, I need a bit of me-time.” Said with a smile, you’re not being rude, I promise. Eventually (I hope), she’ll get the hint.

      Important thing to remember: you’re not doing anything wrong! You are entitled to your re-charge time. Most people understand, and if they don’t, too bad. Don’t apologize for it.

    3. Christy*

      I’ve had an issue with being friendly to a male stranger leading to always having to be friendly/put up with his flirting. The solution to that that I’ve found is a combination of resting bitch face and no eye contact. And like, it is frustrating that I feel like I can never be friendly, but it’s not as frustrating as moving train cars.

      Btw, I think you can move back to your original car and just keep not talking to him. Time has passed.

      1. Kali*

        This. I hate this. I’m naturally a pretty friendly person (although I’m still pretty quiet), and I hate that I have to either be a bitch or risk the guy thinking I’m interested romantically. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves. And yes, I realize that not every guy is striking up a conversation because he’s interested romantically, but I also know that it’s tough tell until it’s to late and then I’m the bad guy for “leading him on”? Not. Fair.

    4. Christy*

      Oh, and for case 2, just say plainly to her, No thanks, I’ve realized I enjoy having time to myself over lunch. Like, just say something to her once. And if she doesn’t get it, then it’s her problem.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I wonder if you could somehow slip in to conversation with coworker that you’re actually pretty shy/like your alone time or whatever. I’m pretty chatty and if I were your coworker and you were friendly to me and then suddenly seemed cold, I would worry that I had accidentally offended you or something. Just noticed where you said that her negativity is dragging you down – if she’s a negative Nancy and you just don’t like being around her, then don’t. But if you meet someone who you do like and would like to keep being friendly with, you might want to eventually mention that you can’t sustain that level of interaction all the time so they know that you still like them, even if you’re sometimes quiet or want to be alone.

      As someone who’s happy to talk to almost anyone about almost anything, I get unnerved when people are quiet and cold towards me. It makes me feel like they don’t like me (because when I like someone I’m warm and chatty and enthusiastic about it). I’ve learned over time that often the people who seem to be cold are actually just shy and need time to warm up.

    6. Mister Pickle*

      There’s a metaphor for life where we’re all people in tiny boats, floating down a long river. And we randomly link up with different people/boats, drift with them, we may stay linked for only a short time or maybe many years, we may drift away for a time and come back, and so on. It might help if you think of this person on the subway as someone that you met, you’ve drifted apart, and maybe someday you’ll meet up again. Or not. But it’s all part of the Grand Human Condition – so don’t sweat it.

      Also, I think you are to be commended for being picky about the people you hang with. Too many people will accept anyone they meet as a friend, and that can have poor results. There really are “toxic” people out there, and a good way to avoid them is by being selective about who your friends are.

      Re the “lunch lady”: she sounds lonely. If her constant requests for lunch really bug you, maybe you should just level with her: “I’m really committed to working out during lunch, so – I just don’t each lunch anymore. Ever. With anyone.” And if you really want to cross the Rubicon, end it with “So please stop asking me, okay?” It seems unnatural and unfriendly to express irritation to someone like that, but *shrug* what’s the worst that can come of it?

        1. Mister Pickle*

          :) I was told it originated with Brian Eno, but that was pre-Internet. I don’t know who really originated the concept.

    7. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve found the best way to tackle this sort of thing is to use the Meyers-Briggs terminology. In M-B language, introvert doesn’t mean shy and extrovert doesn’t mean outgoing. Introvert (I) means you can be outgoing, but it drains “energy” from you, and you need to “recharge” by being alone. Extrovert (E) means you drain when you’re alone, and you need to be around other people to “recharge.”

      So I just tell people “I love hanging out with you, but I’m an I and also need my alone time to recharge.” If people say “What’s an I?” That’s the perfect opportunity for me to explain Meyers-Briggs to them. Usually works.

    8. soitgoes*

      It sounds like you build toward friendships and then get uncomfortable with a certain type of emotional intimacy, which causes you to back away. I used to be like that too, but I learned how to push myself through the moments where sincerity between friends felt too cheesy. When I was younger, I had a relative who would mock anything that seemed earnest or serious, so I grew up being ashamed of basic displays of real emotions.

      I’m telling you this because these weird feelings of mine caused me to push away people who were trying to be my friend, and I eventually got to a point where I didn’t have many friends left, and I was at an age where it became harder to make new ones. I’ve sorted that out now, but it was hard for a while.

    9. Cassie*

      Thanks for everyone’s replies. The coworker, like everyone else at work, knows I’m quiet/shy and that I usually spend time alone. Our conversations were always uneven – maybe 60% her and 40% me. I think the biggest surprise for her is that she feels like all of a sudden I am just ignoring her. At the same time, it feels weird if I were to be direct and say “I just don’t want to hang out with you anymore”. I was hoping she’d get the hint by me being unavailable but she hasn’t.

      I definitely have that weird emotional thing where getting too familiar with someone freaks me out – I’ve always said that my friendships have expiration dates. But to be honest, I don’t mind not having friends aside from the couple of really close friends. People (especially the extroverts I know) just don’t understand this!

      1. Chris (de)*

        I think, it would be nicer to just tell her. Tell her that you need some time to recharge if you are at work and need some time alone. Maybe go drink a coffee with her once in a while. That wouldn’t take as much time and you would not disconnect totally.

        If you just stop speaking to people they will either feel as if they did something wrong or they will feel hurt. That’s not something I would wish to somebody who just tried to spend some time with me.

  13. Grand Mouse*

    Anyone doing online classes? I take courses on Coursera or EdX. Duolingo is great for languages, and Khan Academy is good for a review of a subject. I’m always looking to add more, especially for any professional skills. Learning for the sake of learning is important too.

    1. Manda*

      I’ve taken the Public Speaking course on Coursera – it’s a free MOOC and very well designed and taught. I’ll have a look at those you’ve mentioned – I could really do with improving my data skills – manipulation of data and presentation.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      I’ve done a few on Coursera – mostly work-related, but one for fun (although I did end up using what I learned at work just last week!). I’ve done content strategy, communications science, epigenetics, and map making / geospatial something or other.

    3. Nina*

      I’ve done one on Coursera and EdX. Coursera was better IMO because it was more established and structured. The EdX course was far too complicated for me.

      I have Duolingo on my phone, but I rarely use it now. It’s good for practice, though.

  14. Adnan*

    Is it ok to accept tips when you are volunteering for a charity? This time of the year, lots of organizations have Xmas parties and fundraisers. Some charities sends volunteers to help out at these events. The charity has a donation box at the entrance which is manned by one of the volunteers. Some people attending the party want to tip the person in addition to putting some money in the donation box. Should the volunteer keep the tip for themselves or put it in the donation box?

    1. Monodon monoceros*

      I think the tips should go to the charity. The volunteers are there to support the charity, not to earn tips (something I think most of the volunteers would agree with?). At my old non-profit job, at events they would often have tip jars set near the bar, coat check, etc. The jars usually said something about keep supporting X project or whatever. Everyone volunteering knew, and was totally OK with, those tips going to the org.

      1. Adnan*

        There were two volunteers working the front desk and the other person was adamant that the tips were ours to keep. I told her I do not want any. She had the tips split equally and threw mine on my chair. I put my share in the donation box. We worked well together all day, except for this one thing I disagreed with her on.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Sounds like the volunteer coordinator or charity’s director (if it’s small) needs to weigh in, either by letting the volunteers know that they should direct tippers firmly to the donations box and let them know that they are not allowed to accept tips…or let them accept them, a solution I wouldn’t support but would still be a clearly defined policy. If the event or org. director wants to take charge of this policy decision, they could add signs or even add wording to the invitations that volunteers cannot accept tips. (If the policy is that they can, signs or other written info indicating that would be highly inappropriate; they should only tell donors that when they are offered a tip or asked if they can accept one.)

        2. Monodon monoceros*

          That’s really weird. I’ve never had anyone volunteering somewhere expect tips. Tips are income, and that’s not the point of volunteering!

  15. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    I’m finally catching up with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I’m at the episode where it interacts with the events of Captain America 2 (trying to avoid specifying in case I accidentally spoil someone!)

    Oh. My. God. Gotta say, I didn’t see that one coming.

    1. Lizzy May*

      Right? The episodes from that point all the way to the end of the season are all really exciting and action packed. Enjoy!

    2. Elizabeth*

      They were really hamstrung early on by what stories they could tell. Once Winter Soldier came out, it broke open a whole bunch of options and the show really took off. They’ve also carried the energy over into the second season.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I am SO FAR BEHIND that I’m going to have to skip this season and watch when it’s over. I got behind when I went on holiday and just haven’t even gone there. I’m scrolling past this!

    4. LawBee*


      One word. WARD.
      Two more words: HOLY CRAP.
      You have so much awesome coming your way.

    5. Liane*

      I fear I will have to do like Elizabeth West & wait until the end–or at least late December and do a marathon.
      The couple I have seen are great!

    6. Nina*

      Yeah, that twist really blew everything out of the water. I think it’s a great direction to take Ward, but my concern is that the show can’t sustain itself now that the hype for The Winter Soldier has died down.

  16. Schmitt*

    It feels like I’m still spinning my wheels trying to catch up after two weeks’ vacation, then a conference in Romania, then a local conference during half of which I was out sick. I ran a load of laundry almost every night this week and Thursday when I didn’t, it was very weird not to hear the washer running while I melted into the couch.

    Work is crazy and I also broke my resolution not to drink on weeknights. Hm, oops.

    However. On one of the most stressful days I came home and ordered sheets with a spacesuit on them; on the pillow is a helmet so when you’re in bed you totally look like an astronaut (link coming in reply). They were more expensive than I’d usually spend on sheets but hell, what do I go to work for, anyway?

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Those are cool! I would get those except I’d be constantly fixing the pillow to make sure it line up perfectly with the body.

  17. matcha123*

    I went to Kyoto for the first time since coming to Japan.

    It was interesting seeing all of the old temples and shrines and a somewhat well-preserved peek into old Japan.
    But there were so many groups of tourists! Everyone was just on top of each other. I guess that’s because it’s fall and everyone wanted to see the leaves.

    Tofu skin was pretty tasty, even if it doesn’t sound that nice in English!

    1. Elizabeth West*

      That’s neat! I had a second cousin who was a nun in Kyoto for many years. She would visit and bring us presents from there (small stuff). But I never got to visit. I wish I had.

    2. C Average*

      I am convinced that everything in Japan is delicious. Seriously. I ate unidentifiable stuff from sketchy-looking street carts and it was STILL better than anything I’d ever eaten at upscale Japanese restaurants in the U.S.

    3. matcha123*

      Heh heh, I only ate at Japanese restaurants a handful of times before coming to Japan, and never sushi.
      I’ve heard that it’s not that great in the US, so I’m wondering how I’ll find the taste when I finally move back :9

  18. Lizzie*

    Hey everyone, long-time reader, first time commentator here!

    I’m moving to Canada in January (having grown up in the UK & Ireland) on what will be my first visit to North America. If anyone has made the transatlantic move before, I’d love to hear what you found as the major culture differences.

    1. Marmoset*

      I’m Canadian so no move advice, just want to say welcome in advance! Depending on where you’re headed exactly it might be really, really cold and horrible when you arrive. January is pretty much the worst (esp. in the prairies) so don’t despair, it will only get better as the year goes on! On the off chance you’re headed east of Quebec, extra super welcome from a Maritimer. :)

      Also on that note, cultural stuff can be really specific to the region. West coast vs. prairies vs. Ontario vs. Quebec vs. Maritimes, all very different. So if you’d like to share more specifically where you are headed, that might help!

      Welcome again and I hope you love it here! :)

    2. Felicia*

      As a fellow Canadian, welcome! Regardless of where you’re moving, make sure you have proper winter gear….you’ll need much warmer than what you’ll need for most of the UK and Ireland. Though for certain parts of BC, probably not so much, for certain parts of Alberta, maybe more. Canada is a big country, geographically, with several different cultures, so if you were more specific maybe someone could give you advice :)

      Though the fact that it’s big and you can’t easily travel across it might be a shock. There are parts of Canada it would take me just as long to get to basically as the UK. I live in Ontario, and there are parts of Ontario that are an 8 hour drive away from me even though it’s the same province. I imagine if you’re moving to Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton or Montreal, it would be different than most other places, because those are our bigger cities.

      1. Felicia*

        To add, I took a Buzzfeed quiz that said “You know you’re British when” and related to a lot of them, so I think at a deeper level our cultures are very similar. I also think culturally Canada has more in common with the UK than with the US ….we do have the same queen and stuff :P

        1. Felicia*

          I know someone from Thunder Bay, ON who went to university in Ottawa, ON and I believe that was an 18 hour drive . I believe she flew home for Christmas, and she went Ottawa – Toronto, and then Toronto – Thunder Bay which was the fastest way and 3.5 hours flight.

          1. Diet Coke Addict*

            Yeah, I believe that. I live a few hours east of Toronto, and we drove from Edmonton one summer–three days in the car, one 12 hours, one 17 hours, one 7 hours. We saw an awful lot of country, but the day we drove from Winnipeg to Sault Ste Marie (with a cat in the car) was not my absolute favourite day.

    3. Diet Coke Addict*

      I’m a transplant to Canada myself (though many years ago!) so I’d be happy to talk further! Where are you going? It makes a BIG difference.

    4. Colette*

      I did an exchange with a group from England as a teenager, and they got off the plane and said, “we flew three hours from Toronto! If we flew three hours from London, we’d be in Africa!”

      So definitely, the distances will be an adjustment.

      And welcome!

        1. Felicia*

          One way that Canada is different than the US is that other provinces are so far away – like it depends on the state but especially on the east coast, I could drive through 8-9 states in less time than it takes to drive across my whole province. I believe Ontario is bigger than France and Spain combined and about 1 in 3 Canadians live in this province. Also the “Golden Horseshoe” which includes Toronto, Hamilton, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Barrie, surrounding areas of all those things, contains 26% of the population of Canada in a relatively small area

    5. kas*

      Welcome! I’m Canadian so I don’t think I’ll be able to help much but where in Canada are you moving to?

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        If you ever have to say the word “cauliflower” it’s pronouced Cawl-EE-flower in Alberta.

        Not particularly useful, but I have a fried from Indiana who pronounced the word as Cawl-AH-flower. Many debates on the correct pronouniation :).

    6. Cath in Canada*

      I moved from the UK to Vancouver 12 years ago.

      It’s actually not all that different, at least for all the really important stuff – very similar political system, similar political spectrum among the people you meet, the Queen’s on some of the money, etc. One thing that took me a while to get used to is that there’s not the same pub culture you get in the UK – people do go out for drinks, but there’s table service so you don’t end up talking to people at the bar when you go up to get your drinks and then realize at the end of the night that you now know everyone else in the pub. (I miss that). And then there are different foods, different shops, different sports… it’s like suddenly all the mental shortcuts you have, like knowing that shop X never has anything that fits you but shop Y is usually a good bet, or which sports teams’ fans you’re supposed to mock, are gone and you have to work everything out from scratch. It’s a bit discombobulating at first, but you’ll adapt pretty quickly!

  19. Mittens*

    I have a question that I’m really curious about! Wasn’t sure whether to post this in the work-related open thread or the general one, but as this question is more about life in general, here I go:
    Do you have a favorite quote that guides you in your life or career? A mantra of sorts? I’m collecting some inspirational stuff in order to get through the hard days. Mine may be cheesy: “Your brain is not designed to keep you happy. Your brain is designed to keep you safe.” It reminds me to push through resistance, because beautiful things may be on the other end.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      “Omit needless words.” — Strunk and White

      At work, it applies in editing and also in communication. In life, I’m cutting out the fat and that includes people and things I am just not into anymore. And I dream of moving so I can chuck most of my clutter as well. (Trying to but it’s hard to think about it when you’re not actually moving)

    2. Beezus*

      Recently, “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” I’m very dedicated, invested in my work and I have a keen sense of ownership over what I do. I think that *mostly* is a good thing, but sometimes I have to remind myself that I’m not in charge and some things in my work life are beyond my control. I’m working right now on taking a step back and separating my personal identity from my work a bit.

    3. Sandy*

      From the Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers):

      “It is not incumbent upon you to complete the work (of repairing the world), but neither are you at liberty to desist from it”.

    4. Trixie*

      “Wait and see.” So often we’re freaking out about things that haven’t even happened yet. “No regrets” because we spend too much time worrying about the past or what ifs. “Breathe and move on” because we also spend a lot of energy obsessing over the stressors in life. More often than not, that doesn’t solve the problem or calm us down. Better to apply that mental energy to something else.

    5. Helena*

      Dory from Finding Nemo:
      “Just keep swimming!”

      Basically, sometimes all you can do is keep going, but that’s often enough. Often have it running in my head during a tough day!

    6. C Average*


      It’s a Japanese word that means, roughly translated, “do your best.”

      But it’s not, you know, *shrug*, eh, just do your best.

      It’s dig deep, bring your A game, try hard, do your very very best.

      If I ever get a tattoo, that’s what I’ll get. (I doubt I’ll ever get a tattoo, though!)

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        “My bitterness is sweet to the Lady”

        It’s a phrase used by members of the Sharran religion (Forgotten Realms Books). I think of it in terms of a nod to the futility of many things and how existence will eventually end in nothingness. Shar is a very nihilistic goddess!

    7. Anna Moose*

      I use different quotes on things I think I need to work on. Stuff like “Believe there is good in the world, Be the good.” Or my current quote, “You were given this life, because you are strong enough to live it.”

      I find google images of the quote, and use it as my lock screen picture on my phone. Everytime I unlock my phone, it’s a gentle nudge to remind me.

    8. Sunflower*

      So many. It’s taken a while but I think once I realized that pain and hardships are not things that happen to you, they are a natural part of your life, it really changed my outlook on life. I realized everyone goes through these things and they are not bad things happening to me because I deserve it or the world is out to get me. It would be unnatural to go through life without ever having your heart broken or your world picked up a twisted around a couple times and realizing these things are all just a part of your life and not things that happen to you, makes dealing with the hard stuff easier.

    9. GiantPanda*

      On bad days I usually watch a short scene from the Lord of the Rings 3 – Aragorn’s speech at the Black Gate. “The day may come when … but it is not this day. This day we fight!”
      Works every time.

    10. Diet Coke Addict*

      “This too shall pass.”

      Both the terrible and the sweetest things in life are only temporary.

    11. Windchime*

      This is my favorite quote. It got me through some really rough times and I’m glad you posted this question to remind me of this quote!

      “Any man can work when every stroke of his hand brings down the fruit rattling from the tree to the ground; but to labor in season and out of season, under every discouragement, by the power of truth . . . that requires a heroism which is transcendent.”

      -Henry Ward Beecher

    12. Julie*

      “You can do anything but not everything.”

      Sometimes I need a reminder that just because I can doesn’t mean I should. There’s always delegation or even saying no. And by opting not to do something doesn’t mean I’m weak. I got out of a bad job situation where everything got dumped on me and the only way I got out was by recognizing that capability is not the same thing as obligation.

    13. Gene*

      “No one can make me do anything but die.” and “Today is a good day to die.”

      The firs reminds me that I need to live mindfully and make decisions about what I’m doing, not just float along with the crowd and not be forced into anything. The other is to not leave the important things undone. And I don’t men that crap on my desk, I mean the people in my life who are important to me.

  20. NotAMouse*

    (Accidentally posted as a reply to another comment… reposting here, hopefully to the general thread)

    OK, here’s a question. How much do you spend on Christmas gifts for casual friends? I have a couple of friends I see maybe once or twice during the year who, every Christmas, spend about $100 on gifts for me. Usually these are pretty impersonal–often gift cards or something like that. I usually spend about $30 each on casual friends, but try to be fairly personal (with varying success).

    Sometimes I feel very awkward about this, with the ones who spend a lot more than I do. Am I being Scroogey?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I don’t spend anything on casual friends! Well, if I buy someone something, it’s usually a trinket. We were out yesterday and saw something perfect for a very good friend, and that was $15, and I seriously doubt she’ll get us anything more than a cocktail at dinner. I have a big group of casual friends, so if I went around buying stuff for all of them, I’d be pretty broke. The most “regular” thing I do is a bottle of wine if I’m invited to someone’s home, which is what I normally do anyway.

      We do throw a Chanukah party every year and invite a ton of people (very different this year because we’re in a new city, so the number of people we know is significantly smaller) and spend about $200 on food, drink, and decorations, but that’s about the extent of it. People bring wine or beer (everything from Three Wishes to a bottle of Moet), but no one gives gifts beyond that.

    2. Christy*

      Maybe try to set a budget with them? I don’t think you’re Scroogey, so I think you’re fine regardless.

    3. NJ anon*

      I don’t think so. I think $100 is too much for casual friends. Heck, I couldn’t afford that for really good friends!

    4. Blue_eyes*

      Don’t worry about it! Spend what feels alright to you (and your budget).
      Side note: I wonder if they’re really spending $100 on gift cards. I have a credit card that gets points, and while they’re generally pretty useless, the one thing I can do with the points is buy gift cards. I bought my best friend a $100 Starbucks card for her birthday, but since I used my credit card points it didn’t “cost” me anything.

    5. Colette*

      I used to buy gifts for friends, but it just got too hard and I ended up suggesting that we just do something together instead. That works well, and it gives us an excuse to spend time together.

    6. Anon Accountant*

      Would they be willing to skip the gift exchange and go out to brunch instead? Or dinner and drinks after the holidays?

    7. triple flip*

      My friends and I used to exchange gifts but then they all started getting married and having kids, so we get together a Saturday in December and go to brunch and do something Christmasy. This year we are going to a holiday related event at a museum. I am however making some cute hair ties and giving those as gifts. I know some of my friends will give out baked goods too.

      As you get older and spouses/kids come into the picture, money is tighter and time spent together is more valuable.

    8. Emily*

      $100 is way more than I spend on anyone for Christmas, but I recognize that I’m still relatively young (23) and that different people have different expectations around gift-giving. Still, I wouldn’t worry about spending more than you’re currently spending unless you really want to, especially for people you describe as casual friends.

    9. Anonymous for this*

      I am an overly extravagant gift-giver. I’ve always had tendencies that way, but now I have the income to really indulge that urge. Whenever I have even an inkling that something might delight someone I like, I’m buying it.

      I do NOT expect them to reciprocate, especially if I know they can’t afford to! A heartfelt thank-you is the nicest payback I can get. I love knowing that a gift I chose for someone is liked and appreciated.

      1. Also Anon for this*

        You’re not alone. I am lucky to be at a place in life where I can “indulge that urge”. And like you, I don’t expect or want reciprocation. If they appreciate the gift – that’s all I need.

    10. Monodon monoceros*

      I usually don’t spend anything on an actual gift, unless I see something that is just perfect for that person (usually something funny). Usually we just get together for dinners and we all contribute nice food, cheese, wine, fancy beers, etc. so that’s kind of our gift to the group. Although this is all unspoken :) And the group all knows when someone is going through a tough financial time- if there’s a dinner coming up, we’ll usually specifically ask that person to bring something really cheap.

    11. LawBee*

      My friends and I don’t exchange gifts at all, but when we did, we kept it to a really small dollar amount – which made it more fun.

      If your friends haven’t stopped the $100 gifts, or don’t make remarks about your presents to them, I wouldn’t worry about it. If your friends want to spend big bucks on someone they rarely see, then let them. There’s no obligation to reciprocate in kind. And if it makes you uncomfortable to receive gifts that expensive, you can always send them a note before hand saying something like you’re trying to increase the positive impact you have on the world and as such would love for donations to your preferred charity in lieu of a gift. (If that’s what you want to do, of course!) Or you can graciously accept their gift for what it is, and keep to your budget.

      Basically, I guess I’m saying that other people’s finances shouldn’t determine your budget, and if they want to spend big bucks on casual friends, that’s fine, but you don’t have to. If they haven’t brought it up, then they don’t mind. :D

      1. Lisa*

        I make candy for all friends for the holidays. Add a holiday card and that’s it! It’s great for the neighbors, family, mail carrier, gardener, etc.

        If I didn’t make candy – brownies are always good too. ;-)

  21. straws*

    I’m going to be 9 months pregnant when Christmas rolls around this year. Usually we go up to my mom’s to, which is a 3 hr drive & an overnight trip. It’s also one of the rare occasions I get to see my extended family (we’ve spread out a bit since I was young!) Obviously everyone understands why I can’t make the trip, but my mom is very upset and pressuring me to decide how we’re going to see her for the holidays. My apparent choices are to ruin christmas by not attending or the ruin christmas by having her revoke hosting the gathering to drive down and see us. Basically, I was planning to just be sad not to get to see everyone, but now there’s a built in mom-guilt-trip that I wasn’t expecting. I’m awash with pregnancy emotions, and I can’t seem to think logically enough to not feel bad! I’m sure that won’t get easier next month. What are some ways to combat guilty feelings and/or pregnancy hormones?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Ah Christmas, the most guilt-inducing time of the year. I assume your mom will come to visit once baby straws is born? Maybe you could remind her that even though you’ll miss Christmas this year (and be sure to tell her how sad you are about that), she’ll see you and baby very soon. Maybe you can even save your gifts for each other, or plan a favorite Christmas activity to do when she visits.

      1. straws*

        Yes, she will definitely be visiting once the baby is here :) Our favorite Christmas activity is drinking wine, so it might even be better since I’ll be able to partake a little when I’m no longer pregnant!

    2. NJ anon*

      Try not to feel guilty! There will be plenty more Christmases to enjoy. You need to relax and do what’s best for you! How about a Skype session on on Christmas? We do that with my sister who lives in another part of the country if she can’t be with us for the holidays.

    3. BRR*

      It sounds like her preferred solution is for you to be able to go there which is not a possibility (I mean what happens if you’re driving and there’s a snow storm and you need to stop but all the rooms at the inn are booked so you need to stay in the manager out back?). In situations like these I like to turn it around, so I would ask her what she would like me to do. I might also add a “I’m disappointed I won’t be able to make it, can you help out my not adding to my guilt?”

      1. straws*

        We’re animal lovers, but a manger would probably be going too far, even for us :) I like that last part. I think she got caught up in the change and what to do and forgot that it’s also disappointing for me.

        1. Mephyle*

          It sounds like she’s awash in grandmother hormones. Her option of canceling everyone else’s get-together to be with you, when she would soon after visit you anyway to meet the baby does not seem logical.

    4. Dang*

      Don’t worry about it. Your mom is way, way in the wrong here. I can’t believe she would expect you to make the trip when you could be giving birth any day! How does she know you won’t be going into labor a day or two before Christmas? Even if you planned to go, there’s. Fairly high chance you couldn’t.

      Just enjoy a nice, calm Christmas at’re going to get the coolest gift soon?

      1. straws*

        To be fair, I don’t think she expects it, I think she forgot how far along I’d be and was caught off guard by the change in plans. I do think that once I have a grandchild for her, she won’t even remember that I wasn’t at Christmas dinner!

    5. Anon Accountant*

      Congrats! Can you enjoy the holiday at home and FaceTime them? Is snow a consideration where they are? its be a worry about running into a snowstorm and having trouble getting back especially so close to your due date. Can she arrange a gathering to see you after the baby’s born and bring you dinner at your house?

      1. straws*

        Snow is definitely a possibility. I like the suggestions for a video chat. Somehow, despite posting to an online blog, the idea of using technology had slipped my mind??

    6. Diet Coke Addict*

      Can you fall back on your doctor? “Mom, I’m so sorry, but Dr Babycatcher has told me not to go further than an hour from home by then!” (Doctors really do recommend this sometimes, but why not use it as an excuse now?) “He doesn’t want me to risk being caught in a snowstorm/traffic jam/[whatever delaying incident you have in your part of the world] so it’s just safer for all of us to stay at home. How about if we Skype everyone in the family on Christmas, and you’ll be coming very soon to meet baby anyway!”

      Mom guilt trips are the worst. The first time I spent a Christmas away from home with my now-husband, my mom called me up and had a screaming fit at me on the phone, telling me I was ungrateful, my relationship was a sham, and I really just hated my parents, didn’t I. (Our relationship recovered, but it was pretty strained for a while there.) Adding in your pregnancy and the drama of the holidays, and it’s a recipe for lots of frustrated, angry people.

      Do what’s best for you. Really. It may suck and there may be hard words, but take care of yourself first. (And try the archives at Captain Awkward for “difficulty in dealing with the family at holidays” stories and advice.)

      1. straws*

        I SO wish I were seeing Dr Babycatcher now. I can’t imagine my mom screaming at me like that, I’m so sorry you had to deal with it! I guess I’m lucky that it’s just some projected guilt & sadness and not anything more dramatic.

        I do like the advice over at Captain Awkward. I’ll check it out — thanks!

      2. Judy*

        Pretty much in the third trimester, my OB didn’t want me more than an hour from our hospital. She fussed at me at 34 weeks when I went 2.5 hours away to a cousin’s wedding, staying at my MD sister’s house.

    7. Mister Pickle*

      Well, travel to see her is definitely a non-starter.

      Is there any way you can get Mom to stay home, but as soon as you get to the hospital, you let her know and she can come be with you? Assuming natural delivery on a random date, it’s unlikely that she’ll have to drop everything on Christmas Eve. And if she does – what great story!

      Oh – also, you can offer to pay for her hotel if she comes to visit (hint, hint). Although this is one of those times when having Mom around 24/7 might be a blessing.

    8. Buu*

      Wow that’s an odd reaction from your Mom!Gonna throw out some suggestions. How about you organise a video call/skype/google hangout over Christmas? Make sure it’s a planned scheduled thing, so it feels like an event and it can feel like part of Christmas? Possibly even make sure some kind of gift/hamper is also delivered to contribute to the gathering.
      Then arrange something in advance for when baby arrives, like a Christening or equivalent? So you firmly say ” Look enjoy your Christmas gathering, here is a promise that once baby arrives you will have time reserved to visit”

      I’d suggest you find a compromise but firmly mark out reasonable boundaries here. Your kid will have a birthday around Christmas every year and you’ll want the kid to have some time to celebrate especially if you travel up there for the holidays it means they’d be away from schoolfriends on their birthday! Your Mom is upset that her plans are changing, but things will change there’s a baby now!

      Anyway, I hope some of those ideas might help. Congratulations!

    9. Anonymous for this*

      Oh, for God’s sake. I’m sure your mom is lovely, but she’s acting less mature than the baby you’re about to have.

      Traveling is clearly not feasible for you, and canceling a whole family gathering because one person can’t be present is bonkers.

      “Mom, I love you and know you’re going to be the best grandmother ever, but you are being ridiculous. You have your party and drink a toast to the baby and me. The baby and me will stay right where we are, at home, close to the hospital, as my doctor recommends. We’ll see you after the holiday, when the baby’s been born and we’re ready to travel or ready to have you come see us. Right now I need calm and rest and support, not pressure and anxiety. I really don’t want to rehash this anymore.”

    10. LawBee*

      One: If this is your first kid, NOW is the time to set down the rules with your family about what you are willing to do for the holidays. The first holiday shared with a child – of whatever faith or belief system – is incredibly special, and in my mind, the parents trump grandparents for that time. Don’t get stuck in the “We have to be at my mother’s at X time Christmas Day so she can see the baby, and at your mother’s time by X so she can see the baby” trap. We did that when I was a kid, and I am not kidding when I say that we were the only kids I knew who dreaded Christmas Day.

      Two: Your body, your pregnancy. Mom will have to get over it, and she will. If this were me, I’d have no problem calling up the day of and claiming pregnancy exhaustion, doctor wants me to stay in today, everything’s fine, see you when the baby gets here.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yup, now that you have a kid, the grandparents get to come to you, rather than you going to them for holidays. Those are just the rules. You are now making holiday memories for your family and your kids, and you get to say where those memories happen.

      2. VintageLydia USA*

        We traveled to our grandparent’s for our kid’s first Christmas, but last year we stayed home and everyone came to see us (and that’s the plan this year, too!) It’s the one thing my parents will not fight me about, though my MIL still gets upset if we don’t make it down to see her. I just let my husband deal with her, though. It’s not like we’ll NEVER celebrate Christmas away from home, but it’s really important to me that Kiddo gets to wale up early at HIS house and go see HIS tree and HIS stocking full of stuff most of the time and especially these early years.

  22. Anon Accountant*

    Does anyone here train in jiu jitsu or karate? Or has trained in the past? I’m thinking about it but am nervous. I’m 31 by the way.

    We have 3 schools around us for karate and 1 that teaches jiu jitsu.

    1. C.M.*

      I haven;t done those, specifically, but I did start Taekwondo when I was in my 30s. It was awesome, fun and a great workout. I felt strong and powerful. Go for it!

      1. Boats*

        C.M, same here. Anon, give it a try. It’s exciting to discover the strength you didn’t know you had. The board breaking was cool, and it’s possible at surprisingly early levels (if I recall correctly we started striking stuff within a couple of months). The downside was the belt testing-sometimes I was too busy to practice as much as I wanted to and I hated feeling unprepared. I don’t know if every program requires progressive testing-you might want to ask about that.

    2. Stephanie*

      Sort of. I attend a workout class that’s hosted by a MMA studio and will stick around for the Kajukenbo class on occasion. I also learn some strikes during class. It’s fun.

      A good studio should work with your comfort level and should dissuade any UFC wannabes. They should also show you the proper way to strike so that you don’t injure yourself. I don’t think you’d have to worry too much about getting hit. Haven’t done grappling yet, but it looks interesting, kind of like a chess game (where you need to anticipate opponent’s moves).

    3. Sutemi*

      I started jujitsu at 28, 10 years ago. I love it, the mix of physical/mental/tactical workout is great and completely takes me out of what I do the rest of the week.
      For any martial arts, the teaching quality is the biggest determination of what dojo to attend. There are good and bad karate and good and bad jujitsu schools. You should be able to attend 1-2 classes for free at each school.
      In general, karate will be a “harder” style that focuses on striking and jujitsu will be a bit “softer” that focuses on joint locking, throwing and falling. Brazilian jujitsu is a lot less traditional than the Japanese style from which it descended and has eliminated most of the throwing and falling, concentrating on grappling. These are generalities, however, and will vary based on the instructors at the individual schools. Judo is a sport form, closely related to traditional jujitsu.

  23. brightstar*

    Does anyone have tips for coping after a car accident?

    After 15 years, I was in an accident on Thursday when a driver lost control of the vehicle he was driving and nearly hit the retaining while before spinning around, hitting me, spinning around again and broad siding my vehicle. The other driver had no insurance, it wasn’t his vehicle he was driving, had no license plate, and HE FLED AFTER HITTING MY VEHICLE TWICE. Fortunately the police were able to find him and charge him with hit and run and various other things.

    I’m happy I wasn’t seriously injured, but unhappy that I have to be on various medications all weekend and can’t drive, can’t cook, am lucky to stay awake for a few hours at a time. I’m upset and irritated and sad and relieved all at once.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      I’d try to focus on”relieved”.

      Seriously: am glad you’re okay. What freaks me out about car accidents is how they come at you randomly, with no warning. Humans tend to hum along with whatever activity they’re focused on – like driving along, listening to music, maybe thinking about work – and then with no warning you have this massive shocking painful scary in-your-face interruption. Aside from the obvious physical, financial, and legal aspects, there’s also a mental and emotional toll to it.

      Sorry I’m not much help. If it were me, I’d take advantage of the additional sleep. It’s a great restorative, and I suspect many people simply don’t allow themselves to get enough of it.

      1. brightstar*

        I was listening to the new Serial when it happened and that randomness is exactly what got me. Thanks, Mister Pickle.

        1. Mister Pickle*

          Hey, brightstar – I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I hope you’re doing okay still after that automobile accident. Hang in there!

      2. Clever Name*

        im so sorry you’re going through this! Hugs!

        I think it’s okay to feel whatever you’re feeling for a while, but if you reach a point where you feel like you’re not moving through it, and you want to, please don’t be ashamed to get help. My mother was in a rollover accident 2 years ago, and she has ptsd that she refuses to get help for so she just makes everyone who happens to be in a car with her miserable. I’m sure it’s no picnic for her either, and she doesn’t need to feel the way she does.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Holy crap, I’m so glad you’re okay. That must have been terrifying. I say it’s okay to be irritated–someone screwed up and caused you a great deal of pain and inconvenience. I’m glad to hear he got busted, the jerk.

      The worst thing for me was not having my car (I didn’t get hurt and the car was repaired) and then experiencing post-traumatic fear every time I went through that intersection for a while. But it eventually wore off.

      Sleep, rest, let your body recover. You need to. See if a friend can come help you do a few things if needed.

      1. brightstar*

        My car had to be towed off because the wheel well is damaged. It’s surprising that’s all that happened to my car. But my family lent me a pick up truck to drive until my car is fixed.

        A friend is coming over today to help me out a little, thanks for the suggestion.

        1. Also Anon for this*

          Another thing to think about: it’s good to have friends who will come to help when you need it.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I don’t know if this is too pollyanna-ish, but when stuff like this happens, I like to think how if it had been worse, my current situation would seem like a blessing and relief — something I might even be wishing for instead of the worse option. To give an example, when I broke my foot a few years ago and couldn’t walk for months, I’d tell myself, “What if I’d had a brain injury instead? I’d think a broken foot sounded like a fantastic trade.” It totally gave me perspective and made me find the good in the situation.

      1. brightstar*

        I don’t think it’s pollyann-ish at all. I’m focusing on the fact that, considering it’s possible I could have ended up in the hospital or dead, I’m lucky to be annoyed at forced rest.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s a great approach, and brightstar, also remember that a lot of people don’t have the support network that you do. Some people would likely lose their jobs and be stranded at home, alone, without even an online community to talk to. I’m glad you’re OK, and remember that eventually things will be back to normal.

        Also, times like these are great times to catch up on reading, binge-watching, blogging, etc. Look at them as an opportunity, wrapped in a catastrophe (that you’ve already ripped open and discarded in the paper recycling bin :) ).

      3. QualityControlFreak*

        No, it can always be worse. I had a major accident early this year. Black ice, everyone was running off the road, didn’t hit each other but I spun off the road and hit a power pole. Not my fault, I was not cited but the vehicle was totaled and I got a helicopter ride to the nearest trauma center. TBI, yes, but I survived. Plastic surgery two weeks later for the fractures. Seemingly recovered, was back at work a month and started having double vision. Turned out I was bleeding into my brain on the other side. So more emergency surgery.

        I was lucky. I’m alive. I can think, speak, walk, drive and see. I lost my sense of smell. I can only taste sweet, sour, salty and bitter. But I’m still me. I can still see. I can choose to dwell on what I lost, but why? I choose to be grateful for what I have.

        Makes sense to me.

    4. Emily*

      A year and a half ago, I got into a car accident that was my fault (pulled out of my neighborhood to do a left turn onto a busy street, somehow missed the fact that a truck was coming, and had one of those surreal moments when I knew that I had messed up and was going to get hit). No one was injured, but it cost me my car and I felt awful about the whole thing. I kept it semi-together until after I had talked to the police and had my car towed and made it back home, but I burst into tears later that night when my boyfriend called to make sure I was okay (and probably cried myself to sleep that night, too).

      No real help there, but I’m glad that you’re okay.

      1. brightstar*

        Thanks. It does feel worse when it’s your fault. I nearly cried at the side of the road but managed to hold it together. Now I just feel all floaty from the drugs.

    5. Kathryn*

      Be relieved. Forgive yourself for needing the sleep and give your body the rest it needs, you’ve just done a traumatic thing and sleep helps your body and brain recover. This is a major bummer, it’s okay to be bummed out.

      Do you have anyone who can come visit you? Bring some good food and see themselves out/entertain themselves when you crash? Trauma recovery and illness make me bored and frustrated, so having a friend or an activity in the home I can look forward to and enjoy is helpful.

    6. Ludo*

      First and foremost, listen to your mind and your body. Take it easy. A Big. Scary. Thing happened to you. You will need time to adjust. It may be a little scary to drive for awhile. That is ok. 12 years after my one and only car accident, I still get a little scared if a car stops suddenly in front of me.

      Next, consider seeing a chiropractor, medical massage therapist, etc. I waited a long time to be looked at after my accident because I “felt fine” Lo and behold, my spine was seriously impacted and the time waiting only added to the trouble. I’m all better now but it would have been better to be looked at right away.

      Last, accept that whatever you are feeling is legitimate and fine. You can be angry. You can be scared. You can be relieved. These are your emotions and they are valid.

      Also, I’m glad you are ok :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Definitely think about going to a chiro. You had some pretty strong pushing around going on there.
        Is someone helping you get meals? If no, please ask someone. Decent meals will help to calm you in some ways. If you are not doing so hot with eating, consider a protein shake.
        Nothing like an empty stomach to make the jitters get worse.

    7. MzPuppie*

      You were injured, please I beg you to get a personal injury lawyer. Your health insurance is going to say “not it!” and point the finger at your car insurance, your car insurance will say “not it!” and point the finger at the dude who hit you, it’s all going to snowball into your new part-time job… Please immediately go get a personal injury lawyer and save yourself the stress and hassle and problems. The sooner you get a lawyer in these situations, the better.

  24. Mister Pickle*

    Any ideas for a nice gift for the three ladies who work the front desk at my doctor’s office? In the past I’ve gone with a small floral arrangement,but that seems so boring.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Thanks! Candles are definitely a maybe. Bath soaps – I dunno, I’d feel a little funny about those, seems kinda “intimate” – although that might just be me.

    1. Julie*

      I always love getting something to make my work days better. So coffee/tea, an office plant, candy/cookie gift, a gift card to someplace down the street or somewhere who delivers – all are nice without feeling too personal. I always like flowers too but I get the idea of mixing it up.

  25. matcha123*

    Another post reminded me of a question I’ve been wanting to ask:

    What is love to you?

    I’ve always heard things like, “You’ll know when you’ve found the right one,” and “It just happens,” and such. And, while I have had guys that I really have liked a lot, I don’t know if I could call it “love.”
    I don’t know if it’s because they weren’t “the one” or if it’s just my personality. Liking someone a lot doesn’t let me overlook their flaws. I feel like there will be many people that I will have strong feelings for throughout my life and I can’t really imagine myself saying, “Nope. Can’t like anyone else besides this person.”

    So, what is love to you all?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      There are a lot of people I like, but the “love” part… it was hard to define. I knew I loved my boyfriend when being with him was the most natural thing in the world and I was willing to go through some pretty heavy emotional turmoil to be with him (long story). I knew it was a lasting love when having him around was just as recharging as being alone. Love does not mean overlooking flaws, not at all– my bf annoys the crap out of me sometimes– but rather, it means taking those flaws along with everything else. I’ll put it this way: he will drive me absolutely bonkers and I will go somewhere else for a few minutes or hours (or make him get out of my face, that’s a favorite) but at the end of the day, I still want to be with him and I love our life together.

      I hate to make Sex and the City references, but I’ll do it here: Charlotte once said she was happy every day with her life, being married to Harry, having her kids. She wasn’t happy at all times of the day, but she was happy every day. That’s how I feel. As far as I’m concerned, love has a lot to do with choice, and I make the choice every day to be with my boyfriend. Love is not unconditional; in fact, it is full of conditions that I am glad to meet on a regular basis. Unconditional love? I save that for my dog.

      1. matcha123*

        That’s an interesting (to me) way of looking at it!

        My mind says a lot of the things that you have written, but when I look around, I always feel like I’m doing things wrong. Since my parents weren’t together and I don’t have much extended family, I was never exposed to the different ways that people express their love for each other. So, I’m constantly wondering if there’s something better out there that I should be looking for, rather than settling.
        My friends who are married or who are in long-term relationships seem quite happy, but since I’ve been single most of my life, I don’t feel like I need someone like some of them do.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I think that is the best way to be, actually. I was in my 30s when I met my boyfriend, and all my friends were coupled up, and I thought they had some secret I didn’t. They kind of did– I was, at many times, desperate for a relationship, desperate to be in love. I dated a guy for a few months and when it ended, I went into a serious tailspin the likes of which I hope never to experience again. When I came out of that, I reminded myself that not everyone gets coupled up and I should just enjoy my own company (something I worked very hard on for many years) and if one day I met a good guy I could build a life with, so much the better. HE had to fit in MY life– I wasn’t going to shift major things around to fit into his. I met my bf shortly thereafter and we got together a year after that. (This is not to say that I haven’t compromised, but the lifestyle things I’ve compromised on are minimal, like not watching Real Housewives when he’s around and cooking only vegetarian food and spending Christmas with his family when I used to take Christmas as a day off from the world.)

          The best, best thing about my relationship is the most counterintuitive– I can live without him. I will be just fine if we ever split up. I know myself, I trust myself, I believe in my own abilities to make good choices. The kicker is that it would suck and I want him around. It goes back to the choice aspect. Would I make it without him? Sure. Do I want to try, just to see? Nope.

          My point in telling you this is that a relationship shouldn’t be about needing someone but rather about wanting to be with someone. Enjoy your singlehood and your own company. If someone comes along and you want to date that person and that person wants to date you, so much the better, but it will never be a strong relationship if you’re not comfortable being on your own.

      2. VintageLydia USA*

        “I knew it was a lasting love when having him around was just as recharging as being alone.”

        This, so much. I’m a bit of an introvert, but my family of choice (my husband, two of my closest friends, and my son and mom because occasionally your family of choice can still be blood relatives!) don’t drain me at all.

    2. Felicia*

      For me anyways it’s someone i can be 100% myself with, and be around and not feel like i’m “on”. I am extremely introverted, like 90% of a Myer’s Briggs test, so though I like a lot of people, if I dont find interacting with someone tiring, then it’s love. Also in terms of flaws it’s for me recognizing that they exist but not caring.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Some of it is a choice — it’s not that you’re thinking that there’s no one else you’d be happy with (I tend to think that’s unrealistic), but rather than you’ve found someone who you want to build a life with for the long-term, and you know you’ll be happy doing that.

      The other thing I’d think about is the concept of partnership, something I think people don’t think about enough when they’re considering marriage. It’s not just about whether you love this person; it’s also about whether you want them as a partner through life, which is something of a different concept. Will this person be a good partner as you progress through all the stuff life throws at you? Do you want them to be your partner financially, on health stuff, with family, and generally fielding the stuff life throws at you? I’m not sure I totally got what that meant until actually getting married (because I am a slow learner), and I think it’s such a valuable part of the thought process.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        I totally, absolutely get the “partnership” thing. But you want to talk “slow learner”? I didn’t get it until my 2nd marriage. Although a key part of what killed my first marriage was facing down the question “do I want to have a child with this person?”

        Our society places so much emphasis on “love” as being The Big Deal when it comes to marriage. I seriously suspect we’d have a much lower divorce rate if “partnership” was in the same place as “love” is in the public consciousness.

    4. C Average*

      When I think of love, I think of a couple of things.

      First, I think of my family’s friends Doris and Roy. They were married for 40+ years when Doris died of cancer. At Doris’s funeral, the minister who married them spoke briefly. He described how Roy described his impression of Doris when they first met: “Now, THERE’S one to run rivers with!” I loved the energy and feeling in that description. He and Doris were partners in an adventure, together.

      Then, I think of something my husband and I read at our very small, very informal wedding ceremony. It was a line from a letter from William Clark to Meriwether Lewis, quoted in “Undaunted Courage” (which we’ve both read many times and love): “With hand and heart I join you in this adventure.”

      Love is a sense of all-in-ness: that this person’s joys are your joys, their problems are your problems, their adventures are your adventures. I’m my husband’s wingman for life, and he’s mine.

    5. Ludo*

      My dysfunctional family, poor relationship choices my friends have made, and the world around me has jaded me. I’ve dated guys I liked. Some I really liked. I was sad when the relationships ended. But love? No. I didn’t love them. I have a Big. Tall. Wall. built up. I know it. Other people know it.

      So I can’t answer what “love” is to me, because all I know of love is that when the people around me have given in and loved, they have gotten hurt – badly.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve been with my spouse 15 years now, and I think there isn’t anything mystical about love (of the romantic partnered variety). And I think the more you try to make it mystical, the more likely it is to fail. If the narrative you construct in your head is that the cosmos (or God or some other outside force) has destined you two to be together and there is a “the one,” you’re going to struggle a lot more to stay together, because you’ll be living up to this impossible ideal and carrying a lot of cultural baggage about expectations around conflict or magical feelings, etc.

      I’m not in an arranged marriage, but I know several long-lasting and happy arranged marriages, and the ones I’ve seen that have been successful involve realistic expectations and a conscious (and continual) decision to love. It isn’t a feeling so much as an action. Sure, feelings are involved. You’ll spend a lot of time with that person. You’ll grow to love her or his flaws even. It’s not all butterflies in the stomach and fireworks, though.

      For non-arranged marriages that are also long-lasting and happy, I see the same things—realistic expectations and continual conscious decisions to love, instead of relying on feelings or some idea of “being meant for each other.”

      I’m not going to lie to you, if we hadn’t met each other or gotten together, my spouse would probably be with someone else (and happy). I might be too (and also happy). If I die tomorrow, I actually hope my spouse will find someone else and they will have many happy decades together.

      I got fed (through media, through conversations with friends) BS growing up that coupling was like finding two matching puzzle pieces, and you just have to find the right one. Now that I’m older, I see it more as two of the right plants finding the right soil to grow in together. If it weren’t for our experiences together (both positive and negative) and our strong friendship, we wouldn’t be a good match if you just threw us together as strangers.

      A bit rambly, but I hope that’s helpful. Only one person’s perspective.

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        To me, love is consistently interacting with another person using the same positive care and consideration that you give yourself. Warm, happy emotions are also a factor.

      2. Diamond Lil*

        I think that’s very true – a choice that’s often made on a daily basis. My relationship went through a lot of external stresses before we were married (work transitions, moving, illnesses, death) and it was so important that each of us was free to step out – to leave, to say “this isn’t working” – so that when we did commit formally to each other, we knew that we were going in with our eyes open. We had literally seen the worst of each other, and the worst that life could throw at us – and could still be loving towards in other in actions, words, and thoughts.

        To me, that’s what love is – not some romantic gushing (although that’s great when it happens too). But the kind of love that cleans up after diarrhea, or doesn’t shun you when you admit to something disgraceful, or picks you up off of the floor and helps you stand when you have fallen apart. It’s a daily choice to value each other, and through valuing each other, value yourself. I want to be the person that my spouse sees – this beautiful, graceful, kind and sharply intelligent being. He wants to live up to my vision of him as a beautiful, graceful, kind and piercingly intelligent being. We bring out the best in each other, or at least that’s what we aspire to.

        Also a bit rambly, and just my perspective.

    7. LizH*

      I agree on the being yourself part, and being accepted for who you are. I have also learned that love is always being there for someone. My SO and I had 3 dates before I had to leave town because my mom died. He was there for me.
      We met about 3 weeks earlier, after what was a horrible year for me. He never once blinked about any of my issues. My house burned down, and I had just gotten back into about 2 weeks before we met. That same year, my car died, and I had to put my dog down, all within 6 months of meeting. Anyone else could have said I am leaving, you have too many problems. He was by my side through everything. Just recently, we had to put our other dog down. He held her the whole time, with tears streaming down his face. Tell me that is not love. I definitely have a keeper.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is a good example of what I think love is. I read some where that love is a commitment, not an emotion. This just made so much sense to me. Someone else above mentioned an adventure. That is kind of in the same line. You don’t know what is ahead. But you catch yourself thinking “we will just deal with it as a team” and “my life is going to be better because this person is with me”.

    8. Crow*

      Love is when someone else’s happiness matters just as much as, or more than your own. If my partner is genuinely happy about something, then I’m happy too, and all is right in the world.

    9. matcha123*

      Thanks for all of the replies :)

      My personal take seems pretty similar to what people have written, and that makes me feel a lot better.
      I’m not really one to post pics to facebook tagged love like a number of my friends do, but they seem to relaxed and natural doing it, I feel like I’m not doing things correctly. Especially because I’ve never felt a need to have someone and feel pretty fine being alone.
      I’m still trying to figure out what things I can compromise on and what things I don’t, but these replies are a huge help :)

  26. Mimmy*

    Anyone here experience frequent heartburn? I’d love some suggestions for what helps: Foods to absolutely avoid, foods that actually help, etc. I’ve hit the point where it seems like everything effects me, usually beginning in the afternoon for some odd reason. Or maybe it’s just that once it starts, it’s there for the rest of the day no matter what I do. I get the usual burning sensation but also a constant gassy feeling. Bleh!

    1. fposte*

      Might be doctor time. Common triggers are caffeine, chocolate, high fat intake, and big meals, but of course it can be very individual; for me once things are kicked up, it’ll be a few days/weeks till it settles down regardless of what I eat.

      1. Mimmy*

        Yup, my diet habits are less than ideal. I’ve tried changing my habits, including My Fitness Pal, but I can never keep it up. My husband is just as bad. Time for a divorce! :P Just kidding :)

        1. Hearburn*

          I had frequent heartburn all through college and blamed it on a poor diet…..after graduating and eating healthier I still had it and was tired of keeping antacids at home, work and in my car. Finally went to the doctor and found I had a hiatal hernia that was causing the acid reflux. Instead of having surgery I’ve been on the purple pill for years and sleep with my mattress raised. It’s helped a lot but one day the heartburn came back with a vengeance and I had terrible upper stomach cramps. Turns out I had an ulcer….so frequent heartburn could be a number of things. Only a doctor can tell you what’s causing it….after trying various meds and then tests….it’s not going to be cheap. Hope you have insurance. A natural way to treat it is to take a tablespoon of vinegar each time it happens…there are other natural alternatives that you can research. Good Luck!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My favorite foods are all triggers: coffee, tomatoes, hot peppers, vinegar. I love pickles and Mexican food, but they’re bad for reflux. So I cold brew my coffee to cut down on the acidity. Dairy sometimes helps (cottage cheese and yogurt) but it can also be a trigger. I do courses of Prilosec when it gets really bad. See your doctor, though, if it’s becoming a huge issue.

      1. Mimmy*

        I’ve done the Prilosec thing. The first time I did it, it really helped. This past time, though, I screwed up: Kept forgetting to take it before eating in the morning (but I’d still take it as soon as I remembered) and I missed a couple of days towards the end entirely. I finished the whole pack, but it was probably too late. So now I probably have to wait because I think you can only do the course once every 3 months :'(

        1. JMW*

          I can’t take it in the morning because of another med, so my doctor had me take it at night, two hours after eating. It worked on that schedule as well.

      2. 793 Anon*

        Same here. I’ve been cutting back on all those for the past year and it’s tough, especially tomatoes and vinegar (I love salsa and BBQ sauce on everything… not so much anymore). When you have Mexican food, do you just skip the salsa or cut back on it?

        Also to Mimmy, I used to just guzzle down some of my meals when I was in a hurry and now I take the time to really slow down and chew thoroughly and even stand up for 10-15 minutes afterwards to minimize reflux and that helps.

        1. Mimmy*

          I tend to eat fast but it’s often just because I’m enjoying what I’m eating, so I’m sure that’s not helping. I’ll have to teach myself to slooowww dowwwn. Also may try the standing up thing. I’m curious why that works…I’m guessing maybe standing straightens everything out, so to speak?

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Oh, I still eat a ton of salsa. Like, A TON. It’s shameful. But I try not to eat too much, and I often eat it with some form of dairy, like yogurt or cottage cheese. One day my co-workers ordered Mexican and I had to bow out because my reflux was bad, and that was… that was a sad day.

    3. Mephyle*

      Yes, agree with the doctor. Been there, did that, and the medications he prescribed did it for me more, I think, than the food restrictions. After about 4 months, I was able to stop the medications and stop seeing the doctor. It was 3 years ago, and I’ve been fine since.
      An important thing to keep in mind is that aside from the discomfort, the acids are likely damaging your esophagus. My brother-in-law waited too long to get treated, and suffered serious burns. Now he has to take medication permanently.

    4. Johr*

      I’m seconding the doctor’s visit. It’s not ideal, but my doctor put me on Prilosec a few years ago. My heartburn prompted me to eat more than I needed just to get my stomach to settle – if I was even a tiny bit hungry, I felt like I hadn’t eaten all day. I actually went off of it for a while as well but my diet slipped and it came back, so I’m slowly working back to cutting it off again – like someone else mentioned, its important to get it checked out because it can cause problems so you want to get it under control if its becoming chronic.

    5. anonsyprat*

      Check out the Whole 30 – basically you cut out all kinds of foods for a month, then add them slowly back in to see what it is that is actually triggering heartburn (and whatever else, it’s not heartburn specific).

    6. Windchime*

      I suffer from heartburn as well. It was to the point where I had an irritated, hacking cough that was a result of reflux. The doc tried to put me on a medication for that, and it helped, but it also gave me terrible vertigo.

      Now I just try to control it with diet and lots of Tums. I know it’s worse when I’m overweight (which I am right now). Too much tea can irritate it, as can diet Coke. I’ve cut back 90% on the diet Coke but am still struggling with the tea. Overeating can also aggravate it. But caffeine seems to be the biggest trigger for me.

  27. Trixie*

    Any ideas how to fix/repair broken frameless glasses? I accidentally stepped on them. First bent the wire left frame/ear piece, and then when trying to straighten that out the piece popped off the glass lens altogether. I tried Guerrilla Glue but there’s not much to attach the wire frame/ear piece to the lens. Purchased through Zenni so they’re replaceable but the lenses are perfectly intact so I’d rather salvage.

    1. Beezus*

      Take them to an eye doctor’s office! If nothing else, they may be able to order a replacement ear piece for you and put it on. My childhood eye doctor saved my frames a couple of times by either being able to bend the frames back into place or replace the bent parts.

    2. Mimmy*

      I destroyed my glasses a year or two ago by stepping on them. Ended up getting entirely new frames that, miraculously, were able to hold my existing, super-thick lenses. Now I’m wishing I’d done what Beezus did and try to have them fix the frames.

      I’m sorry, but whenever I see anything about stepping on glasses, it makes me think of Ralphie in “A Christmas Story” when he stepped on his in the snow!

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      My DH makes glasses for a living…he says with those types of glasses, whether they’re salvageable depends on how they’re broken. Can you take a pic and post a link? He also says that most eye places will do repairs free of charge even if you didn’t buy there, if you just want to take them in somewhere.

  28. CollegeAdmin*

    How much is having your own apartment (i.e. a studio or 1-bedroom) worth to you instead of having one with a couple roommates? In my area, I think it would be about $350 more per month to have my own space instead of sharing, but I can’t decide if it’s worth it.

    1. Sam*

      I am currently living alone and have been for close to two years. I’ve absolutely loved the freedom of it. However, after two years, I’m looking to move into a place with roommates. I’ve decided that it’s kind of lonely, and I want extra money for travel. I would definitely live alone once in your life. It’s worth the extra cost for awhile at least :)

    2. Kathryn*

      I can’t stand living with people who aren’t family/SOs. I’m too sensitive about my space and other people in it is stressful for me, so I will pay for the privilege, if I ever need to again.

      I think it is a personality thing. If you can share space, there are a lot of benefits.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      I think this is really a matter of personal taste and living situation. Do you like your roommates? If the roommate situation is bad I could see it being worth almost any amount of money to get out of it. But if you don’t mind your current situation, keeping the extra $350 a month for something else (travel?!) might be more worthwhile. Ultimately, it’s up to your preference.

      After college I lived with a roommate for two years, and although she was a pretty good roommate in many ways, I was still totally ready to leave by the time I moved out. I’ve never lived completely alone though, because I moved in with my partner. (I think I would get too lonely living alone because I’m an extrovert, but living with a romantic partner is totally different than a roommate. )

    4. bassclefchick*

      Having my own apartment was absolutely priceless to me. I only got married for the first time last year (I’m over 40) and I was on my own from my mid 20’s to when hubby and I started getting serious. So, 20 years of being by myself really taught me how to be self sufficient. If I couldn’t do something myself, I figured out which of my friends did know. I’m a bit of a hermit anyway, so massive time by myself was mostly peaceful and relaxing. I had a couple of bad roommate experiences in college and I decided it didn’t matter what it cost me, I’d rather live by myself than deal with roommates. There was no fighting about getting the bills paid or the household chores. And when I got really lonely, I adopted a couple of cats.

      TL;DR – that $350 would be totally worth it to me, even if it was a tiny studio.

      1. Nobody*

        Bassclefchick, I am curious about how you handled getting married and living with your husband after being on your own for 20 years. I’ve been living alone for 10 years and I’m not sure if I could stand living with someone, even someone I love. Was it a hard transition for you?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’m not bassclefchick, obviously (!), but I lived alone for over 10 years (with one horrible roommate for 6 months in there) before my bf moved in. And he moved into my 500 sq ft studio apartment. It was supposed to be temporary! It worked amazingly well for us because– and this sounds so insane– he moved in at the beginning of our relationship (took us a year to actually get together), so we were in a haze of togetherness and the sun shone out of his butt. By the time the bloom was off the rose, we moved into a 1-bedroom so we had a door to close and we had established our domestic routine. Very important to be honest with each other about evvvvverything. I had the space to say, “Please go somewhere for 3 hours so I can have some time to myself” without him getting all huffy about it. I also insisted we each do one weekly scheduled activity that would get us out of the house on different nights. Domestic duties are not exactly evenly split in my house, because I am so used to cleaning my way that he doesn’t even try, but he will do certain things if I ask. I never expect him to read my mind– if the trash needs to go out and I want him to do it, I ask. He also had to get used to that, because his ex-gf was really, really passive-aggressive and would huff and puff until he got the hint. My advice is this: either pick someone you can share a 500 square foot space with or have your own designated spaces for escape, and don’t be afraid to use them.

        2. EveryonesAnonIknow*

          Also curious about this!

          The original question is also quite timely – I’m moving out on my own because I’m just not happy or ever 100% relaxed in my current living situation (with a roommate).

    5. Monodon monoceros*

      Ahh, so timely. My renter is currently ruining my mellow Spotify listening with some loud fast music. Not bad music, but competing with Bon Iver.

      I inherited this renter. Friends of mine were moving out of their townhouse suddenly, and offered for me to sublet, but they had already offered a summer intern to rent a room from them. They asked me if it was OK, and I said yes because he was only supposed to be here for 2 months. Then his internship offered for him to stay through December. He’s nice enough, but around 22 yrs old, and I could be his mom…if I was on Teen Mom.

      Anyway, I lived alone for a long time before this, so some of it may be me just not used to roommates, but I can’t wait until december! I can afford to live alone right now, and definitely want to. As long as I can pay my bills comfortably, and save a little bit, I will never have a roommate again.

      Although one of my best friends in the whole world was my roommate in grad school, so I know it can work out well in other cases.

    6. Sunflower*

      It’s definitely a personal preference. I love being around people and would find it pretty difficult to live by myself. I’m lucky to live with 2 of my best friends who have similar tastes and interests so I feel like I lucked out quite a bit. Our apartment is small though. I would like to move somewhere bigger where we have some more of our own personal space though. And I would really like my own bathroom. So yeah- really a personal preference and you have to compare it to your current situation.

      1. Roommates - Bad Idea*

        If you value having quiet time, value your privacy, value your food, value not having to worry if your roommate will come up with their half of the bills then by all means live alone. Not knowing who they are inviting over, when and for how long. Hiding things you want no one to see or steal. There are so many bad things that come along with having a roommate that it simply isn’t worth it for many of us and for those of you that find no problem and LOVE having roommates you’re probably the roommate that’s annoying everyone else. I find that some have no clue as to how to respect other people’s space…..they don’t do this on purpose but they are simply oblivious to have roommate etiquette. Yes, I’ve had terrible roommate experiences and I’d rather work 3 jobs than live with someone ever again. Plus, it’s nice walking around naked.

    7. LawBee*

      Having my own space is EVERYTHING to me. I will (and have) lived in the tiniest places ever just so I could have my privacy (and yes, complete control over my environment), and it was always always ALWAYS worth it.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m old (early 50’s) and love living alone. I would not have a roommate unless I was absolutely forced to. Since my kids have become adults, they have occasionally needed to crash with me for a series of a few months (one just moved out last week). But kids are different. As far as a friend or a random stranger? No way. I don’t like listening to the noise of others and I like having my slightly messy, comfortable space and privacy.

        Last night I sat up and knitted and watched noisy TV (in jammies and no bra!) until 1 AM and I didn’t have to worry about what anyone else thought. It’s great.

        1. Lisa*

          I worked 2 jobs in order to make my mortgage after my divorce. It was well worth it to me to have my own space and solitude. There are so many strange people in the world (and I lived with a bunch of them prior to my first marriage), that I didn’t want to do it again. Or even try to find a normal person to share with. I had friends with horror stories, so it was so much easier to work a lot and not have to deal with the stress of that. It was less stressful to work all the time.

    8. Johr*

      I recently got my own place after sharing with roommates for the last 10 years. I actually enjoyed having a roommate when it was one of my closest friends, but other than that, it was a total crapshoot and I found myself getting annoyed by every little thing the other person did. My rent went up $300 when I switched to living on my own but I am so much happier and even regular chores like taking the trash out and cleaning the bathroom have become easier because I don’t have anyone to blame for the hair in the drain or that gnarly smell coming from the trash – its all me and I don’t mind cleaning up after myself.

    9. soitgoes*

      I live alone. When I was looking, I didn’t know anyone who was willing or able to commit to being my roommate, so if I went that route, I would have been limited to craigslist or friends-of-friends. Basically, if I wanted roommates, I would have had to move into a place that someone else already had. At the time and on the listings I compared, the cost of a studio apartment (with utilities included) was only about $100 more than people were asking for a house-share, and that number didn’t include utilities or the general costs that add up when your lifestyle preferences overlap with someone else’s. It’s very easy to get suckered into chipping in for delivery when you would have been otherwise happy to cook your own meals for a fraction of the cost. You’re also probably going to have to deal with other people’s pets and significant others. Depending on how old you are, it’s only a matter of time before one of the roommates gets engaged or decides to move in with a partner, leaving everyone else with an extra bedroom to fill. Not sure if this is important to you, but living with other people means that you don’t get to decorate the place exactly how you want, especially if their furniture is already there. As an adult, it’s personally important to me that my living space is a reflection of the things I actually like.

      But to answer your actual question, I wouldn’t focus so much on saving money as your primary deciding factor. The $350 evaporates immediately if you end up in one bedroom of an affordable rental house that nonetheless doesn’t include utilities in the rent. If you want stability, living on your own is the way to go.

  29. Mister Pickle*

    I’m in the mood to watch music videos. An suggestions?

    Bonus if they’re visually stunning, thought-provoking, and / or tell a story.

    1. bassclefchick*

      Well, I AM a child of the 80’s, so I’d recommend Ah-Ha’s Take On Me. And my husband really likes Alan Parsons Project’s Don’t Answer Me. And you can never really go wrong with Thriller. And just to prove I really do listen to today’s music (ha-ha) I really love P!nk’s videos.

    2. brightstar*

      I’d recommend OK Go. I believe most of their success is due to their music videos which are creative and their latest one is visually stunning. Their 1st video was the band dancing on moving treadmills, another one is a huge Goldberg puzzle, and that latest involves scooters and umbrellas.

    3. Johr*

      30 seconds to mars might be up your alley, they tend to make them very theatrical from what i remember.

    4. Kali*

      These aren’t really music videos, but I’m a huge fan of beautiful commercials that depend heavily on their music. Check out the Schweppes effervescence commercial and Tullamore Dew’s Parting Glass. Or any of the Carte Noire commercials (but be ready to want to eat supremely decadent food afterwards). Oh! And the Sony Bravia bouncing balls commercial, featuring one of my favorite songs, Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Cool! The Sony commercial – that song, I’d heard about it; it was written and originally performed by a band called The Knife. Then Gonzalez went on to make it into a hit with his version.

    5. Windchime*

      The official video for “Take Me To Church” by Bonzier. It’s very thought-provoking, even without the crazy good song that gets stuck in my head. This artist is crazy talented, and only 24 years old.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have to jump here and make a teeny correction– his name is Hozier. I only know this because my dog LOVES HIM and always tilts his little head when he hears “Mr. Hozier” and his backup singers. :)

        1. Windchime*

          LOL, I think I was the victim of auto-correct. Of course Hozier is correct. I spent about an hour watching his videos the other night.

          Your dog has good taste!

    6. Sharon*

      I had a really good bewildered chuckle over Empires’ “Please Don’t Tell My Lover” video (also, one of my favorite bands, but this video was definitely not what I expected–entertaining, but it’s pretty up there on the “weirdness” scale for this band).

      I also agree with the 30STM rec! “From Yesterday” is brilliant.

          1. Johr*

            YES! I’ve been listening to them since Howl came out because I followed Tom when he left The Academy Is and I’ve managed by some stroke of good fortune to have seen them more times than I can count but I am so happy to see them getting some great press with the new release!

            1. Sharon*

              My story is the same as yours (Tom, TAI…, etc.), but I live on the west coast, so they haven’t been able to tour here as consistently as I’d like prior to this year (but this summer alone, I’ve seen them a total of 6 times… thank you, major label backing). Orphan is such a departure from Howl and Bang, but it’s so good. That great press is so deserved. And they’re such sweet guys too.

              1. Johr*

                I’m on the east coast so while they come this way pretty often and earlier this year I ended up flying out to Chicago for the two Township shows (and because William also had a show in Chicago the same night, and because I knew Mark Rose would be at both and it happens to be one of my favorite cities so I had all the excuses to go). They deserve any and all praise that comes their way and I really am so excited to be babbling about them right now.

                1. Sharon*

                  Pre-2014, I’ve seen Empires 3 times. Twice in the SoCal area (2011) and then once in Chicago when they opened for the Temper Trap and I was going to be in town anyway (2012). This past summer, I just threw all caution (and the remainder of my bank account) to the wind and went to all the CA dates when they toured with TCGO1974, even the one 6 hrs away from me. And then did it again in September, but that was only 2 shows and thankfully, I had employment in my future by then, so I wasn’t as worried about the money.

                  MARK ROSE. MARK ROSE IS THE BEST DUDE. Last time I saw him was a year ago in a basement show in a suburb outside of DC. Weirdest experience of my life, but it was awesome and he still remembered me despite the 4-year gap between the last time I saw him and the basement thing.

                  Is there a way we can chat outside of AAM?? I feel like we should start moving this conversation outside of the comments section, hehe. Unless someone else wants to start talking about Empires!

              2. Johr*

                It wouldn’t let me reply to your other comment because it was so far nested and I would happily post my email if I wasn’t trying to remain somewhat anonymous haha. But if you have a place where I can reach you we can definitely continue the conversation!

    7. Mister Pickle*

      Thanks everyone! I collect these – here are some back at ya!

      Die Antwoord – Ugly Boy

      The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Opening Sequence

      Cinnamon Chasers – Luv Deluxe

      “Shia LaBeouf” Live – Rob Cantor

      Matthew Wilcock – Brittle Metal Press – for my Canadian friends!

      David Lynch – The Big Dream (Moby reversion featuring Mindy Jones)

      Hans Zimmer – Inception Soundtrack Concert Premiere

      The Decemberists – Calamity Song – DFW refs!

      Monarchy – Disintegration ft. Dita Von Teese – No mosquitoes were harmed during the filming of this video.

      Guyz Nite – Die Hard

      Panic! At The Disco: I Write Sins Not Tragedies

      Dirty Vegas – Days Go By

      Muse – Knights of Cydonia

      Khameleon808 / The Glitch Mob – The Apple Tree – 15 minutes long, but it’s really cool.

      I’m not sure what to make of BLR, but it’s … interesting :)

      1. Sharon*

        I Write Sins is a classic. (If you’re looking for more recent Panic!, the Ready to Go video is really great too.)

    8. Jillociraptor*

      Ooohhh Handlebars by Flobots. AMAZING music video. It’s a little on the obvious side but Michael Jackson’s Thriller is in a league of its own.

  30. kas*

    I’ve always been pretty reserved, I tend to keep to myself and it takes me a while to warm up to people. Because of this, people usually think I’m quiet or shy. Once they get to know me, however, they realize I’m the exact opposite.

    The problem is, people always feel the need to tell me “you’re so quiet!” It’s extremely annoying, especially because I have no reason to speak to them. It comes from people I pass by and only ever have time to say “hi” and “bye” too. I’m not sure what kind of conversation they’re expecting me to have when I barely know them. My question is, how can I respond to the “you’re so quiet” comments? I never know what to say and end up saying nothing, which makes it awkward. Any suggestions?

      1. kas*

        Short and sweet. I like it because I feel like it would kind of shut them down so they never say it again. Thanks.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      They may just be trying to start a conversation (albeit in an annoying way). It sounds like people who say “you’re so tall” etc. People always tell me “you talk so fast!” What? Really? No one has ever noticed that about me before…definitely not the speech therapist I saw as a kid…

      1. kas*

        Lol sometimes I wish people would tell me when I’m speaking to fast because I never know if I am. However, I’m sure I would wish they would stop if they actually did tell me that.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          I guess I don’t mind if they’re kindly asking me to slow down because they can’t understand, it’s when they say it just as an idle observation that kind of irks me.

    2. LoFlo*

      I get this too and “You don’t look happy” when I am just concentrating and keeping to myself. Regarding the not happy thing I reply by saying, if I’m not complaining you can assume I am happy. For the too quite thing you could quote Abe Lincoln: “Tis better to be silent and be thought a fool, than to speak and remove all doubt.”

      People who call this type of stuff out are just plain insecure.

        1. Windchime*

          Because it’s almost always men who say this, and they feel that we should arrange our face in a way that is pleasing to them.

            1. Nina*

              Sadly, I’ve heard women say that to me, too. I don’t consider it a gender thing anymore; it just seems like people wanting you to smile so they can feel better about themselves.


        2. Sara*

          My name is Sara, so people feel doubly compelled to tell me to smile! You have NO IDEA how often people break out in song about it. (And yes, it’s always men.)

    3. brightstar*

      I sometimes get this as I can be reserved and also speak in a monotone. I’ve said in the past:

      “Really? I thought I was the epitome of effervescence and enthusiasm.” as dryly as possible.

    4. C Average*

      Eh, no matter what characteristics you have, people are going to find a way to leverage them in an annoying way. What’s the line from Sartre? “Hell is other people”?

      I’m kidding, but only sort of.

      Earlier this week my sister and I were cracking up over a Buzzfeed article multiple people had sent to both of us about “resting nice-face.” It was a disturbingly accurate send-up of the whole “resting bitch-face” concept. It described people whose kind eyes and open countenances invited strangers to ask them for directions, sit beside them on public transport, tell them stories, assume they are full of happiness and fascinating secrets, etc.

      My sister and I (as well as our mom) have mouths that naturally turn up at the corners and eyes that have an “I’m interested! I’m so interested!” tilt, and everything on the list was true for us.

      You’re quiet, and people comment on it. People also comment on loud people, sad-looking people, friendly-looking people, etc.

      Honestly, I think we’re all a lot closer to the gorillas in the nature films than we’d like to admit, constantly assessing each other and making judgments and overtures of friendliness and curiosity.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I wonder if I have this too. It would explain the times when servers at restaurants act like they’re old friends. I don’t mind exactly, but I can be a little reserved sometimes, so it’s sometimes disconcerting.

      2. VintageLydia USA*

        I sent that to my best friend. She’s definitely fallen victim to guys thinking she’s flirting just because she’s smiling at them and acting interested in their conversations.

    5. nep*

      If you want to give some kind of response, shrug and/or smile or just say ‘hi’ as if a stranger just said hi to you.
      Of course you know this, but you don’t owe a response.

  31. Muriel Chesterton*

    Should I be so angry and upset over this slight?

    I wrote a book last year (a silly romance) and even though it’s been available for a few months on Amazon, not one single family member has read it. It’s not a long book, you can read it in about 2.5 hours. My sister in law has had a draft of the book for over a year and read eight pages. It’s hard enough to write and market a book and to get strangers to read it but to have my family complete ignore my work has been so upsetting I can barely stand to be around them. They have time to go out to dinner five times a week or go shopping or watch tons of TV but no time to pick up their ipads and read for a few hours. I just don’t get it? Am I over reacting?

    1. fposte*

      Honestly, I don’t expect people to read my writing because they’re related to me, so I’d let this go. If they never said anything about the publication at all, even though they knew it was a big deal to you, that might make me sad, but actually reading the book is a pretty big chunk of homework for people. This is the writerly equivalent of being sad that your friends didn’t all come to see your child be a vegetable in the kindergarten pageant :-). It may be your baby, but that’s a lot of time for people whose baby it isn’t.

    2. JMW*

      Art is very personal, and if people don’t get your art, it may be better that they don’t engage with it. As a writer, you are probably also a reader, so it is unthinkable that a family member would write something that you wouldn’t read. Think about something that you would hate having to spend 2.5 hours doing, and then imagine that it was a passion of a family member. If one of my family members was a boxer, or a maker of horror films, or someone who preached something I couldn’t stomach, I might talk to them about it, but I probably wouldn’t engage with it. If your family is full on non-readers who don’t like romance stories, what kind of review could they give you if they did read your book?

      I would suggest trying to find your humor, trying to find an audience that appreciates romance, and working toward an acceptance that there are places in our journeys where we walk separately from our families (happens a lot with art).

    3. anon attorney*

      You’re assuming they haven’t read the book because they’re not interested. Is that definitely the case? Another possible explanation that occurred to me is that they’re avoiding it in case they don’t like it and they don’t want to have an awkward conversation about it – easier to just be “sooooooo busy, sorry”? Or it may just not be a priority for them. Have you told them clearly how important this is to you? If not, perhaps they are being thoughtless rather than deliberately slighting you. Maybe if you adjusted your thinking about their motivations (which might be totally different to what you are assuming) this would feel less personal and therefore less hurtful?

    4. NOLA Bound*

      Being upset and angry probably isn’t hurting them, but it hurts you.

      … OTOH you have a right to those feelings. I am a reader so reading comes easy to me; although, I have a vast backlog, I would read the book of a family member or friend. I know because I once trudged my way through a horrible book of an acquaintance. I gave him honest feedback i.e. people are not looking for extensive footnotes even in sci fi/horror novels. The old guy main character eventually having BDSM sex with hot young thing was self-indulgent. It had a Cthulhu-thing going, and I am strictly a sci fi fan – not horror – but it was never going to be published in that form. But I read the whole thing. It was hard.

    5. BRR*

      Do they read other wise? I like to read and I still don’t do it that often. Watching tv doesn’t require the effort reading does. I get why you’re upset they haven’t read it yet but it doesn’t sound like it’s because they are purposely avoiding it because you wrote it. It sounds like they’re not reading it because they don’t read.

    6. Artemesia*

      I even gave my books to my inlaws and mother but I am pretty sure they never read them and my husband hasn’t read them either. On the bright side — maybe that insulates you from negative views of your work by those near and dear. I know my nephew is the worst writer I know who is serious about it — I have avoided his writing so I don’t have to let that judgment seep into our relationship.

      With fiction it is even riskier. Some walls probably do make good neighbors.

    7. fposte*

      And, by the way, congratulations! It takes a lot of drive to be able to finish and market a book–good for you!

    8. Mephyle*

      Agree with those who let it go. They have time to go out to dinner and shopping and watch TV, but are they reading other books? If not, then they are just not readers and they would not enjoy reading no matter who wrote it.
      I am a reader, and I would like to read your book. Is it “The Peterson Gang” or is the name just coincidence?

        1. Mephyle*

          Nah, I don’t like doing that, then I have orphan first chapters hanging around on my Kindle list that is already too disorganized.
          I bought it, and look forward to reading it.

          1. Mephyle*

            Half-way through, enjoying it very much. I find myself caring about the characters; believing in them, even when I have a few critical reactions (of the sort “that comma shouldn’t be there,” or “the narrative voice shouldn’t have broken in at that point”). It’s lots of fun to see how many AAM elements surface in the story – job hunting stories, office problems and solutions, and so on.

    9. Mister Pickle*

      I completely understand, but – I think that what happens is that people tend to fall into a state of “equilibrium” with other people in their lives – how to put this? – your family members and friends already know you to a certain comfortable extent, and that’s where they want it to stay. Reading your book is, in its own way, getting to know you even more, and mucking with the comfortable state of things.

      This metaphor may or may not work for you. That said – if I know someone who’s written a book, I’ll tend to at least buy a copy of it. Call me a shameless kiss-ass if you wanna. Owning a copy is not the same as actually reading it, though …

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        I think buying a copy is a very concrete form of support for the work, whether or not you read it. ;) My writer friends are very good at their craft and I’m a reader (when time permits!) so I do enjoy reading their work when I get the chance.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I can understand this. It feels like they are dismissing you and not taking it seriously. My ex-bf didn’t read my bank robber book. He kept saying he couldn’t get round to it. I much rather would have heard him say he didn’t want to, or it wasn’t his cup of tea, than to have him say “Sure, I’m gonna finish it,” and then not bother. >:(

      I have the opposite problem with certain members of my family; they WOULD read it, and then they would gush so much I wouldn’t know if they really liked it or if they were just patronizing me. Because they sometimes treat me like a four-year-old–“Oooooooh look! You wrote a boooook!”–that I’d actually rather they didn’t.

      If they don’t read very much as a rule, though, it’s doubtful that they’re likely to change no matter whose book it is. I guess you’ll have to accept that they are like this and enjoy the fact that other people read/like it. It could change; my brother never read books for YEARS and now he reads all the time.

    11. LawBee*

      I think it’s pretty clear that it’s not that they don’t have time to read your book, they don’t want to read your book, for whatever reason. Really try to let it go. Even if they read it tomorrow, you’ll still know that they had it for a year and didn’t read, and it will taint whatever reaction they have to it.

      (also, how people spend their free time is up to them)

    12. catsAreCool*

      “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town,”

      It’s probably the same way with family, although some people aren’t big readers, and some might not feel comfortable reading romance.

      It’s cool that strangers read it though.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Family has tremendous power to disappoint/hurt us. It’s almost easier when friends say they are too busy, than when family says it. I don’t know- shared history, greater expectations? Not sure.
      It feels like a form of rejection. And if the family dynamic is not positive to begin with, something like this will really make it worse. Do you think you have one family member that would actually read it? If yes, then that person could be your go-to person for opinions, etc. Maybe you have a sister/brother-in-law that would be interested- in other words your extended family.

    14. Just Visiting*

      I’m a published writer (no books yet, but a few dozen short stories, most of which you can read online for free) and my family doesn’t read them. They don’t like science fiction and they’re not readers of anything except the occasional quack health book. And yeah, it hurts, but people are gonna do what they’re gonna do. I don’t show any interest in what they do either (which is mostly watching television), so it all works out! Stop banging your head against a brick wall and find a family of choice who does have an interest in what you do. Writing group, perhaps?

  32. Cath in Canada*

    My writing group is having our first ever all-day writing retreat today. We usually get together once a month to discuss the ideas we have for new pieces, which really helps to develop the initial idea; we then get two weeks to write a draft to send to the other members, who have a week to get their edits and suggestions back to the writer. We then have a finished piece to show off at the next monthly meeting. This time, though, we’re going to try to do the whole process in one day – discuss ideas over breakfast, write all morning, discuss progress and help each other overcome obstacles over lunch, write for another couple of hours, then swap pieces and edit. I’m really excited about it – if it’s successful, we’re going to make it a regular event. It’s so hard to write during the week; I feel like I only have a certain number of high-quality, high-focus hours of mental energy each day, and too often I use them all up at work. I think this is going to be fun!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        My group’s just five people, and we’re all friends who know each other through various geeky local events. We’re all scientists, and all involved in various forms of science outreach. I’ve tried writing meet-up groups and didn’t like the bigger groups – and the shared scientific background makes it easier to provide detailed critiques of each other’s drafts.

        I’ve already finished my first draft – it’s amazing what peer pressure and some focus can do!

          1. Cath in Canada*

            Science writing! Although a couple of members of the group do write some fiction, and I’ve edited their book pitch letters to editors (and some thesis chapters, and a job application) as well as straight-up science writing. (I wrote a short story once, but it was a one-off and also before the group started – although a couple of other friends did give me some feedback on an early draft). I’m hoping to have the final version of my latest piece ready within a week and up on the Guardian site within two weeks.

  33. Rebecca*

    I hope to get outside today. Yesterday morning, I decided I’d get stuff done I’d been putting off all week – housework, vacuuming, dusting, decluttering, laundry, recycling, and did get a ton of stuff done…and then the freezing rain started. We had a bad afternoon and evening here in PA. So, my Fitbit is all frowny faced because I managed 4000 steps, but too bad! It wasn’t safe to walk outside, let alone along the road and I couldn’t drive anywhere. There were dozens of accidents, 2 fatalities, and finally today it’s about 41 and the sun is out.

    So, it’s lunch time and then off for a walk in the cool sunshine!

  34. C Average*

    Last Sunday night, the townhouse my two stepdaughters and their mother (my husband’s ex-wife) lived in burned to the ground. They escaped safely, but were unable to save anything, including their pet cat and their pet rabbit.

    Their mother brought them to our house, and she stayed with a friend for a few days. The insurance company is now putting her up in a hotel suite where there’s enough room for the kids to visit.

    Everyone is doing well, all things considered. The kids have many clothes, toys, etc., at our house, because we share custody and in the past they’ve been with us about 75% of the time. We’re in the process of replacing the specific things they lost.

    Their mom lost EVERYTHING. We’ve been helping her as much as we can, helping her navigate the bureaucratic nightmare of replacing your ID when you don’t have an ID and making sure she replaced her antidepressants right away and having her to dinner every night and so forth. We’ve also made copies of all the family pictures we have of her and the kids and her parents (who are both gone now).

    If you’ve been through anything like this, what provided comfort and reassurance? Everyone is going to be fine financially, but I want to make sure they come out of this emotionally OK, too.

    1. brightstar*

      How terrible! It sounds like you’re doing everything possible already to help them out. I would think navigating the beaureaucy for her will be a huge help.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      It sounds like you’re already doing what you can from your end. You may also want to suggest therapy for both mom and daughters. Losing everything so suddenly is really traumatic and therapy could help them deal with their emotions and recover from the loss.

    3. Artemesia*

      What a blessing that THEY escaped with out injury. When all is said and done this is what really matters and showing that gratitude may help them see it that way too. It sounds like you are doing exactly the right thing here. Escaping that bad a fire also suggests they were well prepared with smoke alarm etc — if that is so, lauding their Mom for having been so well prepared is worth doing. (if it happened when they weren’t there of course, then that doesn’t apply)

      1. C Average*

        Yeah, they were there when it happened. My older stepdaughter realized there was a fire (it started in the attached garage, and she saw it from the balcony of her room) before the smoke alarm even went off. They all left the house right away and began knocking on the doors of the adjoining townhouses to awaken the neighbors and get them out. This all went down about 10:30. They really were quite brave and did all the right things. Everyone–us, the firemen, their teachers, their neighbors–has praised their quick action.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Oh that’s just awful. I’m glad they’re okay, but going through this is the worst. I would just offer as much support as I could, if she/they want to talk, vent, etc. It’s great that you’re helping her so much. Step relationships can be difficult, but it sounds like you all get along well enough. I’m sure your help is very much appreciated.

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      Just wanted to say, good on you and your husband. You’re really keeping the family whole for the kids, and that’s huge right now. You’re providing continuity and a stable home base, not just for them but for their mother. This is really good parenting. I don’t think you need advice, you’re really doing all you can.

    6. LizH*

      Encourage counseling. I had nightmares after my fire, always had to do with being chased, and trying to run away.
      To this day I will not buy or use candles. I never leave anything on when I leave the house. For the longest time after the fire, I would not leave my dog alone in the house, afraid that if something happened, I wouldn’t be able to get her out.
      One of the most awful things I ever had to deal with.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        This past summer, two of my smoke alarms went off, so I called the fire department. I managed to get one dog into my new car, and put it out on the road, but the other dog refused to come with me. I let him out the back door, so he was out of the house. There was NO fire, no smoke, and therefore no water damage to anything, but it made me realize that I might not be able to get both dogs out in an emergency. That scares me.

        OP, sorry that I don’t have any good advice for you. I’m very impressed with you and your husband for extending such kindness and practical help to your stepkids and their mother. Aside from counseling, I don’t know what more you could possibly do. (I’d like to have you in my family!)

    7. Mephyle*

      What everybody else said. It sounds like you’re already doing a great job. Also, follow their lead on their feelings about tragically losing the pets. If they are mostly appreciating that they themselves survived and not thinking too much about the pets, then let it be. Also, in this case, they might think about the pets more later, after the first shock of survival has worn off.
      If they are mourning the pets, give them space for their sadness, and don’t bring up “at least you’re safe” in the same moment.

      1. C Average*

        Thank you for saying this. They honestly haven’t seemed too broken up over the pets. Their mother, who’s a huge animal lover and really loved the pets, was devastated by their loss and can’t talk about them without crying, but the kids seem to have taken their loss in the same way they’ve taken the loss of their other possessions.

        I am relieved by this, honestly. I can’t think about those poor animals without crying myself. I don’t think the kids have thought through the realities of what happened to the pets. I hope they don’t. It’s awful. I talked to the fire inspector and asked if there was any possible way they could have escaped in the chaos, and he said it was very unlikely. Even so, we’e putting up flyers in the neighborhood. Both animals are shy and haven’t spent much time outdoors.

        After some time has passed, I may take the kids to the Humane Society and let them pick out an animal whose adoption fee they’d like to pre-pay. My mother used to do that for us when we lost a pet and weren’t ready to replace it, but wanted to do something meaningful to mark its loss. It was fun to think about someone choosing that cat or dog and being told, “Oh, the fee has already been paid.”

        (We can’t get another animal because my cat was adopted with the condition that she be the only cat in the house. She doesn’t play well with others. I’m sure when their mom is settled, she’ll get another pet. She loves animals.)

    8. Jillociraptor*

      Oh, how awful. I’ve never been through anything like this so I have no real words of wisdom, just admiration for the great stuff you’ve done so far. What a hard thing. I wish all the best for your kids and their mom.

    9. Shell*

      One of my close friends had her entire apartment building burn down a few months ago, so I sympathize.

      This might be really awkward since she’s your husband’s ex-wife, but what really helped my friend the most was to have an available ear. So she called me a lot (a lot) the first couple of weeks, I’ve ditched (not that important) plans last minute to go hang out with her, and I would’ve gone with her to a couple of government offices if I had been able to (they were during my working hours, so I physically couldn’t). I know this helped her a lot, especially as she processed the loss in a very different way than her boyfriend did (the latter bounced back much faster and had a mentality of “they were just stuff” while she had emotional attachment to a lot of things they lost). Even listening to her rant about her boyfriend (whom I’m also friends with) was probably helpful, since in the end she was processing the loss and not actually having me mediate a fight between or anything.

      I don’t know if you can realistically do that for your husband’s ex-wife, but if not, perhaps for the kids. And yeah, encourage them to get therapy if they need (maybe even help with transportation if you can swing it). Logistics were very difficult for my friend for a good long while.

  35. Sunflower*

    Being single during the holidays sucks. I never whine about not having a boyfriend and it’s hard for me to admit but the holiday season is always tough for me. I’ve never been in a relationship during the holidays so it’s hard for me to even enjoy perks like not having to spend the extra money on gifts for significant others and their families since I never had to spend it anyway. It doesn’t seem to get any easier as time goes on. I love Christmas movies- especially the cheesy lifetime ones that are always about the single girl who ends up in love by Christmas day.

    Anyone have any tips for how to stay positive and not get so down on myself? I’m also thinking of doing something special for myself maybe but my funds are more than limited.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      It sounds cliche, but volunteering is a great way to get out of your head and improve your (and other people’s) spirits. Can you support an organization doing a coat drive, toy drive, etc? Visit kids in the hospital? Soup kitchen? Put wreaths on gravestones at the veterans’ cemetery (Arlington National Cemetery is great if you’re in my area).

      You could also host a party for single friends – a Lifetime christmas movie marathon, a Christmas feast, etc.

      But I vote strongly for volunteering. And not to sound like your mother, but you might meet someone :)

      In any case, if you’re looking to meet someone, it’s a great new year’s resolution to make. I did it two years ago – that I would try online dating, including all of the single mixer events, heck I even signed up for speed dating. To say it worked out well is an understatement.

      1. Adnan*

        This time of the year feels exceptionally lonely here because of the long winter nights. My kid is grown up and I do not have any other relatives to buy presents for. I fill most of my free time with volunteering at Christmas fundraisers. I have a favourite charity and do the seasonal volunteer thing with them every winter.

      2. LoFlo*

        I have volunteered to cook community meals during the holidays and it was a blast. I live in a collage town, so all sorts sort of international students and staff who showed up and imparted their version of holiday traditions.

    2. Artemesia*

      If you have the time, go to Paris — or whatever equivalent you can afford. The world is full of people who don’t celebrate Christmas. Back in the day we did potlucks with friends for family holidays without family.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I totally understand. Unfortunately, I don’t have much to offer, but I think the idea of doing something for yourself is good. It doesn’t have to be expensive, just something you like doing and doesn’t require another person to enjoy. You say you like Christmas movies, so maybe treat yourself to a show, if there is anything there? Lots of community theater and ballet companies do Nutcracker, Christmas plays, etc. Going to the theater is a little more special than just watching a film, and it doesn’t have to be costly–matinee performances are often cheaper.

    4. Single Too*

      I’ve nothing constructive to add but I’ve got plenty of sympathy, I hate this time of year, all my friends are in relationships and I never seem to meet any nice available women.

    5. LawBee*

      those cheesy lifetime movies (which I also love) probably aren’t helping any. :D Spend the holiday out of the house, if you can – volunteer somewhere that needs it, go to the movies, take yourself for a nice dinner out. I’m on the road this Christmas, so I won’t be with my near and dear, and I AM SO EXCITED.

    6. Jazzy Red*

      Hey, Alison – could we have a special Christmas post for all of us to wish each other Merry Christmas? This group of posters is starting to feel like family.

    7. Trixie*

      Maybe brainstorm some fun projects to work on. For me, that might be arts and crafts like knitting or magnets, or cooking something more completed than usual. I also like to organize things so maybe arrange some new pretty boxes, or line shelves with pretty paper. A movie marathon with really good snacks. Time outdoors so a good hike. These are things I’d enjoy doing alone, or inviting others if they’re in town. Its a good time to look at the last year and everything you’ve done, as well as what you have in mind for next year. And because I like to spoil myself, I’d also see if I could splurge on a massage for a little well-deserved spa time, or maybe eyebrow shaping with usual cut.

    8. soitgoes*

      I feel the same way. Sometimes things add up and it’s hard for me to be around couples at all. It’s too painful to see people enjoying something that I want but don’t have right now. Plus, I don’t celebrate Christmas, so the whole stretch of time feels like a whole lot of happiness that I’m not welcome to participate in.

    9. Bea W*

      Do you have any friends in the same situation? I’ve really enjoyed getting together with single friends without family near or the desire to be with the family they have. Empty nesters at my church who are having small dinners by themselves, or maybe them and an adult child or two will often invite single people and people without family in the area to join them for the holidays. Honestly, if I thought I could convince my Dad to spend any time with me outside of the one day a year, I’d be adopted into someone else’s holiday family. As it is, I do this already for Thanksgiving. I travel to my other family, but that started out as my single friend who lives alone suggesting we just spend it together.

      I hate the whole shopping thing, but I found I enjoy participating in a gift drive. There is usually one at work and church. Agencies in the area will give the profiles of local families in need to businesses and local organizations. The family members have made up a wish list and the agency will suggest some gift ideas. So for people who like to go shopping and pick out that perfect gift for a particular person and wrap it, this is great and it feels more personal having some background on the person you are buying for and knowing what kind of gifts they would like.

      The last guy I was with had no interest in participating in any part of the holidays with me. I found out that was way more depressing than being single. It’s not that he didn’t do anything in general. He just didn’t want to include me in that or be included in any of my plans. We talked about that, and his answer was to make some kind of gesture but then stonewall the execution and/or be a dick. There would be some minor fender bender on his way over so he was late did I want to still bother or he fell asleep did I want to still bother, etc. He once bitched days later after the fact that he ended up taking home a dirty pan because I apparently failed to read his mind that I was supposed to scrub it before he left at the end of the evening. UGH. No. I didn’t mind being single for the holidays after several years of that.

  36. Friend Underfeeding his cat*

    I realize this is probably a weird thing to be worried about but I think I have a close friend who is underfeeding his cat. She is a very small cat to begin with, but the only food she gets is from a plastic toy he puts the hard food into to make her “hunt” for it. He claims she doesn’t eat food the normal way anyway because she’s so rambunctious, but I know that’s not true because I took care of her for a week once and left hard food out and she put on a little weight, enough that when I petted her back I couldn’t feel her vertebrae so prominently. She’s a very active cat and whenever I visit she’s always (literally) jumping off the walls so I guess she’s not unhealthy. At the same time, I get the weird sense that my friend likes the fact that she’s small like a kitten and wants to keep her that way, although he hasn’t explicitly said anything to that effect.

    Maybe I’m making a big deal out of nothing and it’s better for cats to eat a little less than they want to? What do other people think?

    1. Artemesia*

      My son’s cat had a kidney defect and died at age 3 — right until she collapsed and we had to put her down, she was full of energy zooming around the house. She was a wonderful cat and I have always felt guilty I didn’t notice her decline sooner. She was so skinny under that pretty fur.

      So energy doesn’t mean she isn’t starving. I’d point out to your friend that the kitty is starving based on your experience of her eating. Maybe bring some cat food and show him. Some things friends do are best ignored — but this involves a living thing that is not getting what it needs.

    2. Johr*

      My cat will eat however much food you put out for her. I usually measure it out but yesterday I was in a rush and put way too much in her bowl (she gets twice a day and this was probably equivalent to 2 days of food). I woke up this morning and the bowl was completely empty. He should at least be following the directions on the packaging – there are recommendations for how much to feed based on weight and I’d be mildly concerned if you can feel all of her bones through her fur.

    3. LawBee*

      That poor kitty needs to be fed. those vertabrae shouldn’t be prominent – she can have a bowl of food out, and food in the toy.

        1. Friend Underfeeding his cat*

          I’m not sure if he’s been taking her to the vet or not but I’ll definitely suggest that to him.

      1. NoPantsFridays*

        Yeah…eating food out of the toy is fine, but it cannot be the ONLY food she eats! My cat also has one of those toys that she plays with to get the food out. She plays with it all the time, even when she has food available in a bowl. So it’s not just when she’s hungry — it’s a game for her. However, importantly, she *also* eats both dry and wet food in bowls. Yes, the vertebrae should not be prominent.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          I just bought one of those toys for my cats, who are both overweight and currently on a diet. I put the diet food in the bowl and their usual food, which they much prefer, in the toy – but neither of them has figured out that they have to make the ball move to get the food out. They are not very bright, to say the least (I think one of them is legitimately mentally handicapped).

    4. EA*

      Poor Kitty.

      (I read your heading, and at first glance, I saw it as “Friend unfriending his cat”, which is probably a sad reflection on current times)

      1. Lisa*

        This is a difficult situation. I had friends who had a golden retriever and they didn’t feed her properly nor did they give her any attention because their dog trainer told them not to. I felt so sorry for her. She had all sorts of medical issues and was very skinny and ate anything she saw on the streets – leaves, rocks, etc. What finally happened was that they took her back to the breeder because they thought she was defective and her health issues cleared up immediately. I don’t have dogs, I have cats, so it was very difficult to talk to them about their dog, her feeding, giving her attention, etc., especially when they had experts (trainers/breeders) telling them what to do.

        In hindsight, I probably should reported them to an agency – like the humane society or animal control. Can you do this with a cat? Or, steal the cat and give her/him a nice home to someone who will feed him/her normally? My cats are Maine Coon Cats, a boy and a girl, and they eat wet food every day, and have as much kibble as they want. They aren’t fat and self limit their eating. I worry that the cat will have food issues the rest of its life because of not getting enough food early in life.

        I hope you can give us an update on this cat in one of the free for all Sundays.

        1. Friend Underfeeding his cat*

          Thanks everyone for all your comments! When I’ve mentioned it to him before he’s just kind of brushed it off but I think I’ll be more direct with him as a start and see what other mutual friends have to say. I’ll keep you updated!

    5. HR Manager*

      Every healthy cat needs routine vet visits. Does your friend take the kitty to a vet? I would hope so, and the vet should give a definitive word on whether kitty is underweight or not.

  37. Katie the Fed*

    Hi everyone! I hope I’m not too late. I’ve been absent lately with wedding, post-wedding tasks, and honeymoon. And now Thanksgiving!

    So, this is my very first Thanksgiving to host. I’m excited because I have lots of great new cooking toys, and I love to host. But I’ve never made a feast of this size before. We’re hosting 7 people.

    Any tips, favorite recipes, advice? Like what to prep when, duties to delegate to my non-cooking husband, etc? I get a little overwhelmed by entertaining but I love it.

    Help! Recipes also very welcome.

    1. BRR*

      Make sure you defrost the turkey with enough time. Try to figure out dishes that don’t require the oven (green beans, mashed potatoes). See if you can make anything ahead of time (for me this is usually dessert).

      1. danr*

        And take the package of giblets out of the main cavity or in the neck cavity. And splurge and get a fresh turkey the day before (order it tomorrow). Makes timing much easier. Keep things simple and ask your guests to bring desserts. HAVE FUN.

    2. Johr*

      Be prepared to use your microwave just to warm things up – I don’t know if its just me but I can NEVER time things right so while I’m waiting for the dinner rolls to come out of the oven, everything else is already cooling and needs to be popped in the microwave for 30 seconds – long enough to bring it from lukewarm to hot but not give it the microwaved leftover taste.

    3. Anonyby*

      Make a plan on what you’re going to do where and when. Alton Brown has a couple of them that he did on Good Eats, and googling them should help!

      Also, everything that can possibly be done ahead of time SHOULD be done ahead of time. Things like pies, salads, cranberry sauce…

      Also, remember that turkeys take a LONG time to thaw in the fridge. Left in cold, running water can get it down to a few hours, but then you have hours of a trickle of water running.

      The dish my mother always made (and now has fallen to me to make) is ambrosia/fruit salad. I drain two cans of fruit cocktail mix and one can of mandarin orange slices (reserving six nice slices and one cherry half on a napkin to the side). To those I mix in one chopped apple and one chopped banana. The fruit then gets folded in to lightly sweetened whipped cream (and we dye it pink for holidays). Into the serving bowl it goes, the top is smoothed flat, and the reserved fruit pieces are placed on top in a flower/sunburst design.

      Last year I made America’s Test Kitchen’s cranberry sauce recipe (at least, I think it was theirs…). Fresh cranberries, orange juice, orange zest, a bit of sugar, and a pinch of salt.

    4. Sparrow*

      Check out the blog Annie’s Eats. She posted a recipe guide back on 11/18. And if you click on the Thanksgiving category there are a few older posts for a Thanksgiving Prep series. Good luck and have fun!

      1. Sparrow*

        I also really like Serious Eats. They have tons of recipe ideas for traditional to vegetarian Thanksgiving ideas.

    5. Mister Pickle*

      If it’s your first go at this, you may want to be traditional and do the turkey thing. But over the years my family has gone with ham, prime rib, and beef tenderloin. This year we’re having rack of lamb.

      If you’re nervous and want backup support, you might consider getting a ham from one of those places that will spiral cut it. They’re not inexpensive, and the lines outside of those places get astonishingly long during holiday season, but if the turkey goes pear-shaped, you’re covered. And if the turkey goes well, then hey, turkey and ham!

      One nice thing about cooking Thanksgiving dinner for guests is that they’ll feel guilty about you sweating all day in the kitchen and will volunteer to help with the clean-up. Accept their help.

      I still have residual ‘issues’ over holiday dinner because my mom was really, really high-strung – she felt everyone would be judging her by her cooking (and she was probably right)(don’t ask) – and we could expect at least one blow-up during the day. So if you feel that kind of pressure, take advantage of modern medicine and pop a benzo of some kind before tackling the cooking.

      Below are a couple of recipes that have become traditional at my house. My wife and I have both personally made these dishes 10+ times apiece, and they’re really freaking good. Which is, honestly, sort’ve a no-brainer with anything that’s got bacon in it. And if you’re iffy on brussels sprouts, you could probably substitute some other vegetable or even little cubes of rubber – it’s got bacon and blue cheese and heavy cream in it, it’s the culinary equivalent of shooting ducks in a barrel. The only way I’ve ever had these recipes fail on me is if I tried to do a “low-cal” version.


      Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Cheese Ingredients (from Alton Brown)

      * 6 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
      * 1 small onion, julienned
      * 1 teaspoon kosher salt
      * 1 small Granny Smith apple, cored and chopped
      * 1 recipe Basic Brussels Sprouts, recipe follows
      * 1/2 cup heavy cream
      * 1 teaspoon whole-grain Dijon mustard
      * 1-ounce blue cheese, crumbled
      * Pinch freshly ground nutmeg

      Place the bacon into a 10-inch straight-sided saute pan and set over medium-high heat. Cook bacon until crisp and brown. Remove bacon and all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan using a slotted spoon. Decrease the heat to low. Add the onion and cook just until they turn semi-translucent, approximately 3 minutes. Add the salt and apple and continue to cook for another minute. Add the brussels sprouts, heavy cream and mustard and cook just until the brussels sprouts are heated through, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bacon, blue cheese and nutmeg. Serve immediately. Note: you want the sauce to be thick, not soupy.

      Basic Brussels Sprouts

      * 1 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed
      * 1/2 cup water
      * 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

      Cut off the stem end of the brussels sprouts and remove any yellowing outer leaves. Cut each brussels sprout in half from top to bottom. Place the brussels sprouts, water and salt into a 3 to 4-quart saucier and cover. Place over high heat and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Remove and serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings


      Repkie Rice

      * 4-6 strips bacon
      * 1 medium-large onion, diced
      * 1 can (10.5 oz) beef consomme
      * 1 can (10.5 oz) water
      * 1/4 cup soy sauce
      * 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
      * 1 cup rice
      * salt and pepper to taste
      * (optional) pecan sprinkles

      Fry bacon until crisp, then crumble. Saute onion in bacon grease. Combine all ingredients, including bacon grease, in a casserole dish. Bake uncovered in a 325F oven for 2 hours.

    6. Stephanie*

      Depending on when your guests arrive, I’d set out some snacks to tide them over.

      Do you have a meat thermometer? That will help for roasting the bird. Serious Eats is great for recipes and tips.

    7. Lore*

      The turkey will almost certainly hit the right temperature either an hour before your guests arrive or an hour later than you want it to. In the latter, case, it’s important to have nibbles that don’t need the oven–cheese plate, dips, etc. In the former, you’ll be fine because the turkey needs to rest before carving and doesn’t need to be piping hot–but you’ll still be better off if multiple side dishes can go in side by side. Look for things that can cook at the same temp or can be reheated at the temp something else cooks at.

    8. Arjay*

      Just remember, there is no shame in taking some shortcuts. My husband loves deviled eggs and I make them with a bacon and cheese filling that is a big hit. It’s still a big hit even when I buy the eggs already hard-boiled from the deli, and then I don’t have to mess with peeling them, turning them green, etc. Also, Dawn Wells (Maryann from Gilligan’s Island) has a video out of how to remove the potato skins AFTER boiling the potatoes, instead of having to do the KP duty of peeling them by hand before boiling. It’s a total life saver for the mashed potatoes and potato salad.

      And congratulations and best wishes to you and your spouse! I wish you a very happy holiday season!

      1. Artemesia*

        We always leave the skin in mashed potatoes — they actually taste better that way especially after you have added butter and sour cream —

    9. Katie the Fed*

      Thank you all!

      So, the plan is this:

      I have a fresh turkey pre-ordered to pick up Tuesday. Wednesday I’ll leave work early and get it brining.

      My friend is bringing stuffing, sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole.

      I bought a 15 pound bag of potatoes at Costco yesterday. I just did a trial run because I’ve never made them from scratch and they were great (half and half and butter – how could it go wrong?). I even bought a potato ricer for the occasion (I never met a kitchen gadget I didn’t like). Mashed potatoes I’ll make Wednesday while the turkey is brining.

      I’ll do cranberries on Wednesday.

      Pies I’m going store bought because I’m not much of a baker and the Costco ones are great.

      I just made a froze dough for pumpkin dinner rolls (my own creation – basically just a yeast roll with pumpkin puree in the dough and some spices – savory but really good). Makes great turkey sandwiches.

      Either going to do brussels sprouts or a corn pudding. Since we’re having kids over I’ll probably lean toward corn.

      I’m making hummus (yay Vitamix! Best wedding present ever!) on tuesday or wednesday, and I got bags of nibbles and several cheeses for a cheese plate. I figure I’ll have people come over and hour/hour and a half before eating time.

      I still need to buy wines – any recommendations?

      Husband has been tasked with bartending and making sure the bar is stocked.

      We’ll have coffee and mulled cider available for post-dinner.

      What am I forgetting? Do I need extra gravy or can I plan on sufficient juices to make my own?

      1. C Average*

        Ricers rock! Mine is one of my favorite kitchen toys.

        Always make extra gravy! There’s no such thing as too much gravy.

  38. AGirlCalledFriday*

    Heading to Europe for Xmas…I’ll be in Prague, Munich, Nuremberg, Paris, Venice, and Rome. Any suggestions on places to stay/things to do from someone in the know?

    1. Katie the Fed*

      If it were me I’d probably eat and drink my way through Christmas markets :) That sounds like an AMAZING trip! Just keep an eye on the hours of the big tourist attractions – they tend to close at 5 or 6 in the winter, and maybe entire days during the holiday.

      1. AGirlCalledFriday*

        I’m DEFINITELY going to the Xmas markets. I plan on going to one in Prague, Munich, and Nuremburg. I didn’t know that the tourist attractions close so early, but I did know that they do tend to close for the holidays. I’ll be spending Xmas eve and day in Paris because they don’t close the city down, and Rome for NYE.

        I’ve been attempting to go to Europe 4 times and each time it fell through, so I’m REALLY excited about this.

    2. AlsoParisBound*

      My husband and I are going to Paris for Christmas as well – we plan to visit the Eiffel tower on Christmas day. I’m not sure what we’ll do on Christmas eve yet.

      We’ve had our Christmas day dinner reservations cancelled by the first 3 places we booked. (They didn’t realize December 25 was a holiday until days later?!?) It looks like our most recent attempt might stick – a fancy Chinese restaurant.

      Your trip sounds awesome and I hope you have a wonderful time!

    3. Lizzie*

      Of those destinations, I’ve only been to Nuremberg as an adult. (Paris as a teen with a school trip was great, but no specific recommendations since we mostly did guidebook stuff.) I was there around Christmas 2012. We got a pass for the museums/historic sites in Nuremberg and it was a good value. The Nuremberg Trial museum and Documentation Center/Nazi Rally Grounds were phenomenal but also (obviously) very emotional and heavy-hitting. We broke up the World War II stuff with visits to the Albrecht Durer house, Museum of Industrial Culture (warning: entirely in German, which was challenging for us), and a historic mansion (name is failing me and Google isn’t helping right now). We were there on a weekend and got some deal on tram/subway passes (free on weekend with purchase of a Friday pass, maybe?) so check on that. We took the bus (to/from Heidelberg) and stayed at City Hostel right near the bus station. We were only there for 2.5 days so we literally only slept at the hostel (private room), so although it was pretty spartan it met our needs. Kitchen was limited but there was a communal fridge to store our sandwich fixings, which was really all we required.

      1. Lizzie*

        Audio tours were available for free or a nominal fee for everything except the Museum of Industrial Culture and were totally worth it. (Even for the Trial Museum/Nazi Rally Grounds which were principally in English.)

  39. MissAnxious*

    I had posted a while back about starting anxiety meds for the first time ever and not being sure if they were working. I was on Lexapro 10 mg and he increased to 20. I felt nothing both ways. He switched me to Viibryd and I feel the same. I’m nervous because I feel like nothing is going to work. Or that my anxiety isn’t real or something. I’m literally feeling nothing different which seems weird to me. My anxiety pops up randomly but mostly when I’m in large social situations where I don’t know a lot of people (which is strange because I’m very outgoing). And it’s really bad. Most of the time I leave or freak out the entire time I’m there about whether to leave so I can rid the anxiety. I’m not really comfortable taking long term medications that mess with my hormones either- it took me a while to commit to birth control because I was scared how it would affect my body. I’ve always been someone who trusts my doctor and I’m not one to try to diagnose myself but I really want to try Xanax. After reading descriptions of it, it just seems like it would be the right fit for me and I could take it when I want and not when I don’t. Anyone have experience with Xanax? What situations does it work with? Also, how do I bring it up to my doctor that this is something I want to try?

    1. Sam*

      I have used Xanax since I was 14. I’m 29 now. I use usually 10-15 a year for anxious situations. Flights as well. I find it works great because I only use it when I need it and it works wicked fast. That allows me to feel out a situation before decidING if I need it or not.

    2. Mephyle*

      Are you getting any counseling? It sounds like your anxiety would be a good candidate for cognitive behavioral therapy. With the right therapist it can really help. The help you get from therapy and meds reinforce each other. With only one or the other, the missing piece can reduce the effectiveness of the help that you are getting.

      1. MissAnxious*

        I was seeing a therapist but she was against the meds and I had some other qualms with her so I stopped going a couple months ago. I really liked my therapist in college but she is 4 hours away and I just haven’t found someone I click with like I did with her. My other issue is my insurance has changed and therapy went from free to $60/session. I’m debating whether to start back up and maybe try to go once a month? I just don’t want to waste my time and money continuing to try therapist that it’s not working with. I’m also very open to cheaper alternatives but not sure what’s out there?

        1. Jillociraptor*

          This might sound like literally the worst thing imaginable for you (it did when I was first looking for mental health providers) but most therapists will do a free or very reduced cost consultation with you just to see if your philosophies line up. Do four or five of these. I have known in the first few minutes if someone is going to work for me or not. Once you have someone you click with, the financial investment becomes more reasonable. Your insurance might be able to refer you to several providers in network to get you started. Getting started is the hardest part.

          And I’ll just reiterate what others have said: finding the right medication for you is a PROCESS. I’ve taken pretty much every anxiolytic there is. It took me a long time to find something that worked well for me. But we did find something and you will too.

      2. Anxiety anon*

        Seconding the therapist recommendation. It’s made a huge difference for me.

        The success rates for most therapy methods are similar or equal to medication (for treating anxiety disorders). CBT has a lot of research supporting it. I can vouch for biofeedback. It can be easy to find because it’s sometimes used outside of mental health treatment. Athletes in my college used it (??), so the school offered it for whoever was interested. Therapy also doesn’t have the health risks of some medications.

        For example, a link was recently found between benzodiazepines, like Xanax, and dementia. People who use benzos for longer periods might have a higher risk of developing dementia. (I’ll link to a source in a reply to this comment.) (And of course correlation =! causation.) If you’re sure you want to add a medication, talk to your doctor about planning for short-term use or making sure long-term use is safe.

        I’m not anti-medication at all, by the way, and it’s a good option. I still use SSRIs myself. I just hope you’re able to try other things if they’re accessible to you, OP. It sounds like therapy once a month could be good.

    3. BRR*

      I feel with psychiatry it’s a little guess and see what happens since people respond differently. It can take some time to find what you respond best to.

      I’m on clonazepam and it’s nice because I can take it as need be. I would explain that your anxiety is situational and not constant and you would like your course of treatment to address that.

    4. Xanax*

      My doctor gave me 15 to try for a month. She told me to take half a pill at a time. That didn’t work, so I took the entire thing. She won’t give me a refill unless I come in. It’s a racket. A copay for each visit just to get a prescription. Anyway, I think you will like it. It works. It’s like taking a shot of vodka.

      1. Anxiety anon*

        It’s a controlled substance. I’m not sure if doctors are legally able to prescribe benzodiazepines without patients coming in.

        1. fposte*

          Right, I think you also can’t call in the prescription–you have to have an actual signed piece of paper.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I know it’s consider a breach of ethics at any rate, not to bring someone in when they are renewing for particular drugs. What you are saying about being illegal makes sense, I bet the pharmacies report the doctors. Also some drugs were only meant for short term use.

          1. Just Visiting*

            Some doctors will give you post-dated prescriptions for controlled substances. As well as write a 90-day prescription. Of course, this requires a fair amount of trust on the doctor’s part. When I was still taking Ritalin I got away with only going in twice a year, he gave me one current and one post-dated 90-day prescription. Maybe this is illegal as hell, but it was sure convenient!

      2. Mister Pickle*

        I believe the rules and laws on this vary from state to state. But it might be the case that your doctor simply doesn’t know you well. No doctor is going to write you endless Rx’s for controlled substances without wanting to check in on you occasionally.

        I make an appt to see my doc – I shan’t be coy, he’s a psychiatrist – about every 3 months, and he’ll give me a 90 day supply of lorazepam, as a 30 day Rx with two renewals. I’m also taking a Schedule II drug, and for that I need a new Rx every month. When I check in to see the doc every 3 months, I get a new Rx. Other months, I call in and he’ll write a new Rx, and I’ll pay $10 for it and pick it up. I believe this is a common arrangement with doctors and long-term patients, here in Texas.

        That said, having you come in every month and pay a co-pay for 15 Xanax? Have you tried telling them that this is too expensive, and asking for a 90 day supply? If they say no – well, you should maybe check out the laws in your state, and then look for a new doctor. I’m a firm believer that doctors are service providers. And if they’re not being effective, you gotta fire them and find a new one.

    5. fposte*

      I use Xanax for flying, and I like it. The one thing I will say is that it takes a while after I swallow the pill (like an hour or so) for it to kick in, to the point where a regular part of the process now is me stressing a bit that it’s not actually going to work (and then it does); that might matter less if you’re looking to take it regularly vs. as needed.

      1. Mimmy*

        I sometimes take Xanax before flying also, but for me, it’s because I tend to get confused/overwhelmed in the security line due to all of the hustle and bustle.

    6. LawBee*

      Anxiety meds work differently for everyone, and it can take a long time to find the right fit. Talk it over with your doctor and tell him that you want to try Xanax – but don’t hang all your hopes on it. My first anti-anxiety med sent me into progressive panic attacks through the two days I was on it – the WORST. The one I’m on now is perfect but it took a lot of trial and error to find it.

    7. Mister Pickle*

      Try telling your doctor that you’re having anxiety attacks (or panic attacks).

      Lexapro and Viibryd are both ‘long-term’ drugs that can take weeks to kick in. I believe they’re both part of a family of anti-depression drugs called SSRIs, for “selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors”, and I won’t even try to lie and tell you I know what that means, except that I’ve sampled a few of them and they don’t work well on me. FWIW, there’s a non-SSRI drug called Bupropion (aka Wellbutrin and other names) that did work well with me, and it’s good for social anxiety.

      Re Xanax: it belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines and it’s a fast-acting kind of drug, ie, it’ll kick in within 10 minutes or so. There are a number of drugs in this family and I’m not sure that there are significant differences between them. In the USA it’s a Schedule IV controlled substance, so you’ll need a prescription (and also if you try to renew the Rx too early your pharmacist will think you’re an addict)(in Texas the doc can write an Rx for 3 months at a time). You really do need to be careful with this drug if you get it – you can quickly build up a tolerance to it, and it’s one of those drugs that if you start taking it regularly and then stop, it can screw you up. I’ve been taking Lorazepam for several years now – not as much anymore as I used to. Sometimes just knowing I’ve got them if I need them is more than enough.

      Re the study that says benzos can cause dementia: my kids would not argue against it.

      The Usual Disclaimers, I Am Not A Doctor, I think I used to own a few shares of Merck but I sold it, etc.

      1. Bea W*

        Some beta blockers are another drug option for anxiety. I did find this useful for this the short time I tried them, but they also dropped my blood pressure way too low to be safe. My BP was already low to begin with, so it was an iffy chance.

    8. Arjay*

      You’ve already gotten some good advice here, so I just want to reassure you that this is perfectly normal and you and your doctor can keep working toward a solution that’s right for you. When I first started taking antidepressants, I kept taking my emotional temperature every 10 minutes asking myself, “Is it working? Do I feel any better? Maybe I feel a tiny, little bit better? It’s supposed to be working good after 6 weeks. It’s already been 6 weeks!” And it took me a little while to realize that it actually wasn’t working for me. I wanted so badly for it to be successful and helpful, and when it failed, I felt like I had failed too. Again, perfectly normal, and you just have to keep switching things up until you find the right combination.

    9. Bea W*

      Not all meds work for all people. Some do take a few weeks to quick in, and that include Lexapro and related meds. Other types like Xanax act quickly and are good for if you need something for a situation like how Sam describes as needed vs being anxious all the time. They also tend to be the ones that are risky for addiction. I’m not sure what leads some people to be okay taking them and others not. I developed a nasty benzo addiction very quickly treating my anxiety this way, but then I know other people taking them long term with no issues.

      I found learning meditation and relaxation techniques and mindfulness to be really beneficial, but it can be hard starting out. You have to practice to get better at it and there are different methods and exercises and you have to find one that works best for you. Visualization and breathing exercises were easiest for me, but I also know other people who had a really hard time with these and it just made them frustrated. Some people find tensing muscles and releasing them relaxing, and I don’t find that method relaxing at all. It makes me uncomfortable and anxious.

  40. Jubilance*

    We are less than 4 months away from the wedding & I’m freaking out. Mostly because it’s getting more REAL and very soon, we’ll be married!

    Wedding planning has actually been pretty easy & fun but one thing that has NOT been easy or fun is planning our honeymoon! We still haven’tmade a decision :-( I need help! We’re thinking either the Caribbean or Greece, but our trouble is that we read way too many TripAdvisor reviews & every place we fall in love with, we wind up talking ourselves out of.

    So…gimme your honeymoon destination suggestions! I’d like as many specifics as possible – locations, name of resort, what you liked/didn’t like, and the names of places we should stay away from, and COST. Thanks!

    1. BRR*

      I’m going to the Arenal region of Costa Rica. We wanted some place warm and things to do but also have the chance to relax. Even though we are getting married next month we are waiting until the end of February to go at the end of winter. We are staying at the Nayara. I also got incredible airfare flying into the Liberia airport (small city) instead of San Jose (the capital).

      I’m thrilled with the idea of Costa Rica as a whole and if you want the beach the Papagayo Peninsula has a lot of resorts. It seems that area is a little further from the rainforest. I found the Gaia Hotel & Reserve to be near the beach and the rainforest but we ultimately decided we’re not beach people.

    2. Sandy*

      Argh. Computer just ate my longish reply.

      We went to Ti Kaye in St Lucia. Fantastic snorkelling and even though it wasn’t all-inclusive, we got a great deal for our honeymoon (I think it was something like pay 5 nights, get 7, includes spa treatments and a certain number of activities)

    3. Elkay*

      I’m not much use because we went to Disneyworld. We LOVED the fact that we were busy every day but we weren’t rushing about to see sights. We’re no good at beach holidays so this was our way of doing a relaxing holiday and turning our brains off. We got an all inclusive deal so flights, transport and food was all included.

      We’ve just got back from a cruise to Alaska which I would highly recommend (obviously not at this time of year…). I’d never been on a cruise before but what I enjoyed was getting on and unpacking my entire suitcase and having the same room for a week but being in a different place every day. My only downside to the cruise was the “at sea” days made me a little bit seasick so I’d be wary of a cruise that involved multiple days without stops.

      1. Colette*

        I like cruises for that exact reason – it takes the traveling out of traveling. You get to go somewhere different most days, but you don’t have to worry about where to eat or stay.

        Having regular meals is very important to me when traveling – I don’t know why, but I must know when I will next eat. I’m happy to try new foods, but that’s not an important part of a travel experience to me.

    4. Felicia*

      What kinds of places do you like? I would hate a holiday that’s mostly sitting by a beach or pool, but lots of people love that

    5. Mephyle*

      Are you looking to explore a place on your own, or a resort where you have everything you’d want on-site?

      I used to think cultural tourism was more ‘worthy’. I had always looked down a little bit on all-inclusive resorts – until I tried one. I had my first Club Med experience last year, and it was fabulous.

      1. Jubilance*

        We’d prefer a resort – after the stress of wedding planning, we want to be able to relax and not have to do a ton of thinking & planning. We’ll want to do a couple of things like ziplining, but only if they can be arranged through the resort.

    6. Lamington*

      greece and the cyclades are amazing! However you need to go there in spring, everything closes for winter and ferries don’t run. The caribbean is beautiful, we enjoyed the us virgin islands, grand cayman, puerto rico, bahamas, jamaica and cozumel. Each island has its own flavor :)

    7. Sparrow*

      Back in September we stayed at the Paradisus Cancun all-inclusive resort in the hotel zone. We were there for 5 nights and paid around $2000. We booked through Expedia and that included our airfare and hotel. This was our 15-year anniversary trip.

      We upgraded to the Royal Service because it wasn’t too much more expensive. With Royal Service, you get your own separate building and pool area which is adults only. If you are looking for a very relaxing, lay by the pool/beach vacation an all-inclusive is nice. You can also book tours to see other sites (like Tulum or Chichen Itza) if you want to get away from the resort.

      We’ve been on trips before that included more sight-seeing and planning, but this time around we just wanted to relax an be lazy and we had plenty of time to do that!

    8. VintageLydia USA*

      I didn’t know we were getting a honeymoon until a few days before our wedding. We both took that week off work just to be together but we didn’t budget for a trip (both retail workers at the time.) Our parents got together and surprised us (my mom bought us plane tickets once we decided where we wanted to go, FIL paid for the hotel, and a lot of the cash we got as wedding gifts went toward spending money which covered the rental car, daily parking, and admission to the things we wanted to do like museums and stuff along with a little bit of shopping.) From the moment we knew we were going to finished planning was about 5 hours, all the day before the wedding.

      Honestly, we cared more that we were going to be together with family and friends around so other than a couple “musts” that we wanted to do, we kept the rest free form. We had to get tickets for one or two of the things asap but the rest was just a list of possibles and we just did whatever on that list we felt like doing the morning of. It was the perfect mix of relaxing and exciting.

  41. Apartment Renting Sucks - Just a rant....*

    I have had a ceiling leak since August 9th and it has yet to be fixed. They have had the roofer they contract with here 3 different times or more (he shows up whenever unannounced) to “fix it” but what he is doing is simply “patching” the issue. So they hired an outside roofer last week to come and seal the leak. As it turns out it is next to the chimney and they have to take the chimney apart to really fix the problem. There have been so many different men inside my apartment that I have lost count. It started raining this morning and this loud dripping noise has been in the background all day. Imagine your faucet dripping and multiply that sound by 10….that’s how loud it is coming from the roof. I hear it over the television and radio unless I blast them really loud. Not to mention the maintenance staff and roofer have entered my apartment without notice and without leaving a note stating that they have been there at the very least 2 times. I would find pieces of pink installation on the floor or a drill that was left by mistake. Had they not done that I would have never known anyone was here.

    I asked for some compensation for all of this aggravation and the property manager offered me a visa gift card for my inconvenience. I told her I’d rather have my high rent reduced or for that matter a month’s free rent for the 3 month leak they can’t seem to fix. I told them I would contact an attorney about my tenant rights and to see if I can break my lease or withhold rent until this problem is fixed. They emailed me telling me I can’t withhold rent as long as they are attempting to fix the problem which they have been attempting to do for 3 months. UNBELIEVABLE!!! I’m so tired of hiding my personal things, not knowing who is in my apartment while I’m at work, not being able to hang my pictures because of this leak and now this annoying tap, tap, tap above my head on my day off from work. I’m looking for a new place to live. Please tell me if I am overreacting. What do you think?

    1. fposte*

      It sounds incredibly annoying, and I would really displeased about the entering without notice. What legal options you might have vary wildly, but I would never, ever take the word of your landlord on what your options were and whether or not you can withhold rent–check with a local tenants’ union or attorney.

    2. BRR*

      The fact they haven’t fixed it is ridiculous. Unfortunately since they are trying to fix it, it might be enough that you can’t withhold rent. See if your state requires notice to enter your apt though. If you do accept anything make sure you let them know it’s only a good will gesture, not an acceptance that they can’t do their job.

      I think you have two options. 1) Bother them until it’s done. And I mean BOTHER them (be polite but firm). Multiple calls and in person visits when I can. Frequent use of the phrase, “That’s not acceptable, it needs to be done sooner than that.” 2) Contact a lawyer, it might not be worth the fight to them to have you stay vs. just letting you go.

      1. Leaking roof*

        Yes, my state requires a notice before they enter. They just keep apologizing for the staff not doing their job. I am going to call attorneys tomorrow. I have been emailing, calling, putting in service requests and visiting. I like the phrase you mentioned. I’m so upset I haven’t even responded to her email yet. She called and asked to come visit today to see the leak herself. I can’t believe after 3 months she’s never been here to see it. I told her today is my only day off, I’m upset, I don’t want company and for her to just come tomorrow when maintenance comes. There are actually cracks forming in the wall next to the chimney where the leak is and this can’t be a good thing. Moving is a pain but this has been an even bigger pain. Considering the fact that the raised my rent $75 at my renewal and I stayed anyway because I was too lazy to move I’m really kicking myself in the butt.

        1. Colette*

          I’m not a leak expert, but cracks seem like a structural problem, not a moisture problem. I’d be very concerned about the chimney.

          (Some cracks just happen when the ground shifts and aren’t a big deal, so I don’t think you should panic, but I think you should make a point of mentioning them every time you talk about the issue.)

        2. Arjay*

          Depending on your state’s renter laws, it may be that your service requests automatically grant them permission to enter to address the problem.

          I feel your pain though. I’ve lived in a bunch of different apartments and only had one where the staff and maintenance crew were appropriately responsive. My favorite story that I can laugh at now is when my fridge wasn’t working properly. I had it cranked all the way down in the freezer to try to keep the frozen stuff safe and the freezer temp was still hovering around 30 degrees. The maintenance man said to me, with a straight face, “Well, 30 is below freezing!” I’m not normally a yeller, but he got an earful over that statement. And it still took two days before they ended up bringing a new-to-me fridge in to replace it.

    3. Johr*

      I’ve been there with leaky apartments with both gracious and terrible property management so I feel your pain. I don’t think its unreasonable at all – are you locked into your lease for a while? Also on the not paying rent thing – I’m not sure of the circumstances under which you can withhold rent but I know that if you do, it has to be placed into an account (sort of like escrow) until things are fixed but the circumstances vary by state, I believe.

    1. Lamington*

      catch a tango show at el viejo almacen, enjoy a delicious asado and dulce de leche. If you stay a few days consider going to uruguay or a estancia, country house. Enjoy!

    2. Reidi*

      BA is a beautiful and walkable city, so leave time to wander the neighborhoods. I cannot recall any restaurant names, but we had great experiences everywhere we went. You can’t go wrong if you order pasta, steak, wine, ice cream, or cafe con leche! Recoletta cemetery was a neat visit, as was the La Boca neighborhood (take a cab there though) and the San Telmo market. I would also see a tango show and a football game if you can swing it.

  42. Anonymous Educator*

    Anyone have any travel tips for Kauai or Oahu? My spouse and I have been to Maui before but not the other islands. We’re really looking for relaxation, beautiful views, and good food. We’re not super outdoorsy active types (so not scuba diving, surfing, hiking, or ziplining, for example). Thanks in advance!

    1. Sparrow*

      Check out the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook or the website hawaiirevealed dot com. We went to Kauai back in 2002 and it was our favorite island. It is incredibly beautiful and not too touristy. Although I’m not sure how it has changed over the years.

      We took an awesome helicopter tour to see the Na Pali coastline. The island also has Waimea Canyon and some beautiful beaches. I remember Hanalei Bay was very gorgeous.

      We’ve been to Oahu but only stayed a couple of days. We saw Pearl Harbor, Waikiki beach and Diamond Head. The city of Honolulu was okay, but I’ve read that the north shore is beautiful. On that website I mentioned they also have books/info for Oahu.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      North Shore of Oahu. It’s very relaxing and lovely away from Honolulu. It’s quite quaint and rural with sweet little towns like Haleiwa and Waialua, with cute shops and restaurants (but don’t expect elegance). There’s one beautiful turtle beach a little east of Haleiwa where you can just sit on the sand and watch the turtles.

  43. Weird server question*

    I usually post under a different name, but when I clicked the bookmark this weekend — several times — to come to this site, I got a strange homepage but with the address still in the bar. I sent an email about it, and that bounced back. I don’t know if this is a hack on your end, a hack on my end, an anomaly, a weird cookie, or something else. The text I see is this:

    /(mt) Media Temple,Inc. – Web Hosting Built to Scale./

    * /CustomerLogin/
    * /877.578.4000/

    / /

    Server Default Page


    This page has been generated automatically. If you are the server
    administrator and you feel that you have reached this page in error,
    then try completing the following steps. Please consult the (mt)
    KnowledgeBase articles below for more information.

    I got to this active Ask a Manager page by clicking on the link in the Twitter feed. So I can get to the page, just not through my Firefox bookmark, and I can’t email through gmail. Gmail’s error message says this:

    Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:

    Technical details of permanent failure:
    Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the server for the recipient domain by [].

    The error that the other server returned was:
    550 sorry, no mailbox here by that name. (#5.7.17)

      1. Gene*

        Alison, Since something above didn’t underline, I’m testing your commands here for you.






          1. Gene*

            Yeah, I know. :-) I copied the tags directly out of the “commenting guidelines” page.

            Here’s a test from the work box, Windows 7, IE 11

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Also, are you still seeing that message when you try to access the site? If so, would you try clearing your cache and seeing if it works after that?

      1. Weird server question*

        It’s working now. I cleared my (tiny) cache today after clearing it out yesterday, so I guess when I retried yesterday I must have caught the end of the maintenance window.

        Sorry for the false alarm — I should have thought to clear again. Thanks!

  44. Elizabeth West*

    Why does tea go cold so fast!? You burn the living crap out of your tongue on it and then a few minutes later, it’s practically ice cubes. Pffft!

    This house needs to be cleaned and I don’t want to do it. I wish I could hire someone to come in and help me when I’m writing something. Any tips on how to hire an occasional cleaning service? And/or how to straighten up before they come so you don’t look like a complete slob? :P

    1. Kyrielle*

      Thermoses or the equivalent for the tea…I use them even when I’m not going to be driving with tea. (Which I almost never do, actually.) There are a couple that are not as good as the real thing, but are dishwasher-safe, and I stick to those. (Especially because the ones I have are microwave safe, which can then be used to revive the tea if need be. Though I don’t often do that, because my tea stays warm long enough for me to drink most of it anyway.)

      And I’ll be watching this thread, because cleaning service is oh so tempting.

    2. Windchime*

      I’ve never used a cleaning service, for the same reason that you state–I don’t want to have to clean before the cleaning service gets here!

      My friend was having a super busy time at work and was also having company to stay over (including a couple of people who have a super fancy, huge home) and she was stressing about the house being clean enough. She called Merry Maids, who came over and for a couple hundred bucks, they scrubbed down both of her bathrooms, wiped down all the plantation shutters and cleaned all the floors on the main level (hardwood). She said it was well worth it.

    3. Artemesia*

      Cleaning services are expensive and they pay the people who actually do the work a pittance and you are expected to tip. I got references for cleaners from friends and hired individuals who had good reputations with friends. I knew that the money I paid actually went to the worker.

      One of the good features of a regular cleaner (we did it every other week) is that you have to straighten up before they come so they can actually clean — the discipline of having to dispose of the newspapers and clear the horizontal surfaces every couple of weeks really made the place more pleasant to live in. It isn’t about looking like a slob — it is about clearing so cleaning can occur — you can’t expect a stranger to know what to keep and throw out etc.

      With work and family, having someone spend a few hours doing the heavy basic cleaning so that floors, bathrooms and kitchen were deep cleaned a couple of times a month really made life so much better. And when you hire your own person, you can also vary tasks easily e.g. no floors this week but clean the refrigerator or extra pay/time and do some additional task before guests come. It was money so well spent.

      1. fposte*

        Seconded on the going independent and also money well spent. Also, when living alone, it’s helpfu that this gives me a cleaning partner, so I don’t feel like my reward for tidying is then vacuuming (I hate vacuuming); I do my bit and then somebody else takes it from there.

        1. Colette*

          I find vacuuming very satisfying, because there’s usually visible results. (Perhaps I should vacuum more.)

          You’d think dusting would be the same, but yet somehow it just is not.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Yup– ask friends and neighbors. I hired someone to clean when I was living alone in a tiny apartment, and though I don’t hate cleaning, it was so nice not to have to fit it in to my schedule. She came every other week. I had to give her up when I moved to a much more expensive place. Now that I will be working outside the home again, I might look into hiring someone, at least once a month.

    4. Jubilance*

      Put sweetener in the tea immediately and it will cool slower – the joy of chemistry. I’ll spare you the technical reason of why this happens, but just trust me on this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If you are using a spoon, take the spoon out of the cup when you are done stirring. Metal takes away a lot of heat.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Thanks for the tips, guys. I wouldn’t hire Merry Maids after I read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickeled and Dimed: On Not Getting By in America. Nobody in this neighborhood would know where to hire a cleaner, so I’ll ask some people at work.

  45. Sophia*

    How do you know a marriage is over? We have a four and a half month old and I know you’re not supposed to make these kinds of decisions within the first year. But honestly? I feel like everything we liked about one another has been grinder away. We are in marriage counseling. I could go into detail but will spare the wall o text…

    1. Elkay*

      I don’t know but I’d hazard a guess that you’re both willing to go to therapy is a good sign. I hope it yields positive results.

    2. Windchime*

      I knew mine was over when I was looking for a good place to drive my car off the road and into the river, so that my death would look like an accident. Then I came to my senses and realized that if I’d rather be dead than continue on with the marriage, that was a pretty good sign.

    3. Artemesia*

      Is there any way you can get some time out and relief — off the treadmill — to recharge. A new baby is so stressful. You liked each other once. Maybe with some rest and time, you can re-discover what it was you liked about each other.

      I hope the counselor can suggest some techniques for surviving the current stresses and finding ways to reconnect. Divorce may be the answer, but with a new baby/high stress life, I’d want to work on some strategies to rekindle and support each other before throwing in the towel.

      Hope it goes well either way.

      1. Lisa*

        If you’re unsure it’s not over. Because you definitely know when it’s over. Like someone above, I knew mine was over when I imagined him in a car accident and realized I was hoping for that because it would make my life so much easier. The easy part is knowing. The hard part is telling the other person you want a divorce and going through with it.

        Marriage counseling will help. Good for you for going!

        1. Artemesia*

          For me in my brief first marriage, it was a dream. When I woke up I knew that the dream was telling me to get out. Of course — the important thing is that is how I interpreted. This was long ago and no one in my family had ever been divorced and it was a giant big deal — best thing I ever did. I have been happily remarried for over 4 decades. But I didn’t have a child — I do think that deserves all the extra effort that is reasonable.

    4. mama*

      I had postpartum and lots of fighting w/my spouse for the first several months after my baby. It was awful. We were both exhausted and snippy and it was a perfect storm. Don’t minimize the impact the new change that a baby brings. (It got better, much better. Hang in there. )

    5. C Average*

      I’ve seen two marriages come back from the absolute brink. I believe in miracles. Both were so done you could’ve stuck a fork in them. No love. Just exhaustion and an intense longing for solitude, peace, freedom from the other person’s schedules and problems.

      It’s not over until the papers have been signed. Until then, there’s life and there’s hope.

      Close your eyes and pretend you were free of your marriage. Pretend you have enough money to live in the place you want to live in the way that you want to live. What does that look and feel like? Can you achieve some of that where you are, within your marriage? Is there room inside the relationship to get the things you wish you had? Maybe those things are a little more quiet, or a room of your own, or some help with the laundry, or more sleep. Can money buy some of what you need? Will time bring some of what you need?

      (I thought my marriage was over a year in. I hated sharing a house with three other people. I felt like I had no space of my own and I was drowning in other people’s clutter and other people’s schedules and other people’s preferences, and that no one was ever thinking about me. I loved my husband, but I longed for a life I imagined where I had more control over my surroundings. When I fantasized about moving out, one thing I always imagined was getting a cat. My husband is not an animal lover, and we’d said many times that we liked being a no-pet household, but I really wanted a cat. He agreed that we could get a cat. That cat was symbolic. She represented the fact that I was an equal member of the household, and that the other members of the household would compromise their wishes to make room for mine. That was a revelation. Yes–a patched tabby saved my marriage.)

      Good luck!

    6. Mister Pickle*

      I’ll be blunt: you’re correct, 4.5 months is too soon.

      I’m glad that you’re doing marriage counseling. Have you also talked to a doctor about post-partum depression?

      I wish you and your husband and your child the best with this. When you have a child, you need to adjust your thinking to “long term”. Give the situation at least one year.

    7. Sophia*

      Thanks everyone. I appreciate the input, and the advice re thinking about what divorce would look like and try to incorporate it, is excellent. I don’t think it’s postpartum, more of the utter lack of sleep and stress (I also just turned in my dissertation and husband starting a new job)…

  46. The Other Dawn*

    Any recommendations on books to read? I tend to like FBI/Secret Service thrillers, mystery/suspense, some horror. No romance novels. I want a book I can dig into. Some authors I read: David Baldacci, Robert McCammon, Douglas Preston, Lincoln Child, Stephen King (haven’t read them all yet), and Ken Follett.

    1. Crow*

      James Rollins has a large series of thriller/technothriller/mystery books. They start out unconnected, but it appears now they are in a shared universe. Good fun, very much in the vein of Preston&Child.

    2. EA*

      Look into Brad Thor and Jeffrey Deaver. Thor writes pretty decent “Secret Service” thrillers, and Deaver writes mysteries.

      1. EA*

        Also look into Michael Palmer. For lack of a better term, “Medical Thrillers” (his main character is usually an ER doctor or something similar)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Michael Palmer was head and shoulders above Robin Cook. I was so upset when I found out he died.

          I would also recommend Michael Crichton. Also taken from us too soon. :(

    3. Gene*

      Try some of the Dale Brown (NOT Dan Brown) techno thrillers. They really are a series with continuing characters who grow and die, but to get a sense of his style, go ahead and read one of the recent ones, but not from the Dreamland series, he has a coauthor on those who I bet does most of the writing. If you like it, you really should star at the beginning. The plot order is a little different from the publication order and is available here,

    4. De Minimis*

      Joe Lansdale is really good, if you enjoy McCammon you might like him. He’s a Texas writer, he writes quite a few mysteries set in rural Texas. He’s done quite a bit of horror too.

      The recent film COLD IN JULY was based on one of his novels.

  47. Wrench Turner*

    Clothing Swap Wings:
    I’m cooking 4 huge batches of wings for the clothing swap my wife is hosting at our place after Thanksgiving. Any favorite recipes out there? The only catch is they have to be baked, not fried. I’m trying to get 2 dry recipes and 2 sauced and I’d love suggestions!

    1. Trixie*

      Check out Everyday Food on youtube, Sarah has some amazing baked wing recipes. And America’s Test Kitchen / Cook’s Illustrated probably has some too.

    1. nina t.*

      Omg. To avoid the gamble or jury verdict with possible 15 years, but yeah.

      I thought the whole teacher note stabbing joke thing strange though.

      More ADA Palmer!

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