Sunday free-for-all – November 9, 2014

oliveIt’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.

{ 632 comments… read them below }

  1. K*

    Am I really the first post? :D I’m relaxing with a cup of tea and a treat from the bakery. It’s a cookie bar made with coconut and chocolate chips on a graham cracker crust. Perfect balance of flavors.

    Tell me about your favorite baked goods, everyone!

      1. Hermoine Granger*

        I too love just about anything with lemons as long as its tart and not too sweet! I also love white chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, sweet potato pie, and those pretty little fruit tarts. I’m pretty open as long as its not too sweet and doesn’t have too much chocolate.

    1. Stephanie*

      1. Anything lemon-flavored. I’m hoping our tree produces a bunch of lemons this winter. The grapefruit tree is looking good.
      2. I’m a sucker for a good oatmeal raisin cookie, like the thick kind with lots of cinnamon and nutmeg and plump raisins.
      3. Pretty much all fresh-baked breads. A nearby Italian restaurant has a $4.99 lunch special. I went alone and the waitress gave me literally a loaf of warm Italian bread with butter. I had to stop myself before I ate the entire loaf.
      4. Olive oil cake.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Ooooo, fresh-baked bread! I love sweets, but bread will win every time. There was a grocery store (now long gone) in my hometown that sold Vienna bread — still warm — that was crusty with a soft center. It’s the bread of my dreams, haven’t found it since :(

    2. skyline*

      Lemon bars, New York cheese cake, pies (including adorable handpies), and pretty much anything with rhubarb.

      1. Artemesia*

        I love rhubarb and it is hard to find. IN the summer I get it at the farmer’s market and make my own rhubarb sauce. I like rhubarb jams but most of them lack the strong rhubarb flavor and I love rhubarb pies but most of them seem to be made from strawberries too and lack that punch of rhubarb.

        My other favorite is lemon meringue pie which seems to be less commonly made than it once was and commercial versions are rarely very good.

        1. skyline*

          I am lucky enough to live in the Pacific NW, where rhubarb grows like a weed all summer.

          I tend to adjust the rhubarb to strawberry ratio in pies and jams, and I also dial back the sugar quite a bit. If I am eating something with rhubarb, I want it to be a bit tart, not as sweet as candy. My discovery this year was the sweet cherry-rhubarb combo, which is fantastic. Rhubarb-raspberry is yummy, too.

          1. Neruda*

            I had a dessert recently which was like a trifle but it had layers of rhubarb, meringue and like a biscuit crumb. Sounds like your kind of desert!

              1. fposte*

                I love Eton Mess, but I haven’t heard of a biscuity version–I just do meringue crumbles, whipped cream, and berries/sauce. Is that the lazy version?

          2. Artemesia*

            I grew up in the Pacific NW and you are right — we literally had enormous plants of rhubarb that just took over a corner of the yard with no effort. It is a lot harder to find in the mid-west where we live now.

            1. Windchime*

              Yeah, I had a big rhubarb plant in the corner of my yard when I moved into a previous home. It took me a couple of summers to totally eradicate the thing. It was like a giant shrub.

          3. Mabel*

            I agree about being able to taste the rhubarb. My mom used to make rhubarb pie, and it was very good, but it had so much other fruit in it (and probably) sugar to disguise the taste of the rhubarb. I assume it’s tart or bitter, but I really don’t think I’ve actually tasted it!

        2. Windchime*

          I have a crazy good recipe for lemon meringue pie that includes fresh-squeezed lemons and fresh lemon rind. It’s a lot of work but it’s always the first thing to go when I bring it to a potluck or family dinner.

          1. Artemesia*

            I find that lots of things you bake are just lots better with citrus rind and that when a recipe calls for it, 3 times as much as called for is about right. I think lemon meringue pie is pretty easy to make and the key really is enough fresh lemon juice and the grated rind or zest.

        3. Hermoine Granger*

          I’ve never had rhubarb but would like to try the pie.

          I used to buy Wellsley Farm’s lemon meringue pie from BJ’s. It had a nice tart lemon flavor with just a hint of sweetness but it seems like they’ve changed the recipe. It’s now very sweet with little to no lemon flavor.

          I’ve made my own pie a few times and it tastes good. However, while the curd comes out perfect I can never quite get the meringue right, it always ends up separating from the filling and a liquid pools on top of the meringue. I think I’ll try a mini-blow torch or an Italian meringue next time.

    3. Cristina in England*

      The Yorkshire Fat Rascal from Betty’s in York, England. It is like a big scone with lemon and orange zest, and has cherries and almonds to make a mouse-like face.

    4. Jen RO*

      Some of my favorites – tasty and easy to make:
      * Apple pie
      * Raisin cookies
      * Sour cherry cake
      Google image search tells me the latter two are fairly international recipes (i.e. I found them in English too), but Romanian apple pie looks different. I’ll reply to myself with images for all. (And now I really need to make an apple pie today!)

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          The Romanian apple pie looks yummy. I have a bunch of apples, I might try to make one today too!

        2. GH in SoCAl*

          My Hungarian Grandmother made that exact cherry cake! (Her family was from Constanza.) It was soooo delicious. It was my job to source jars of sour cherries for her, which are hard to find in the US. I now have her pan and her recipe (which wa sher mother’s recipe) written in both English and Hungarian. As she explained it to me, it’s basically an “equial cake” with cherries in it — equal cake being like pound cake, equal parts by weight of butter, flour and eggs. I haven’t made it since I stooped eating dairy and eggs, but MAN it was good.

          1. Jen RO*

            Yep, that’s it! Except I use oil instead of butter. I think the sour cherries are the key here – it probably doesn’t taste as good with regular cherries. I’m happy to hear it *is* possible to get them in the US!

        3. Jen RO*

          I made apple pie and it turned out yummy, if a bit thin (my mother’s recipe recommends less apples than I prefer…).

      1. Windchime*

        The Romanian apple pie does look a little different, but it looks equally delicious as American apple pie. Yum!

    5. Pepper Pot*

      My favorites are seasonal, and today I’m making pumpkin chess bars to take to an event. They’re buttery, brown-sugary, cinnamon, pumpkin heaven with a streusel topping – so good in the Fall!

    6. FD*

      I love to bake, and my two favorites are pumpkin bread and lemon Christmas cookies. I’m baking some pumpkin bread today.

    7. WanderingAnon*

      There’s a bake shop near my office that makes the best cinnamon-sugar old-fashioned (yeast) doughnut I’ve ever had. It’s fluffy, crisp on the outside and often still warm when I go to pick one up. Perfection.

      Other favorites around this time of year are pumpkin-chocolate chip muffins made with olive oil and pumpkin-walnut-chocolate chip cookies make with Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.

      1. Puddin*

        Agreed! Spritz are hands down the best of the holiday cookie assortment I make. I use almond on the green and vanilla for the red. It is both kinds country and western :)

    8. danr*

      soft chocolate chip cookies with lots of chocolate chips. I haven’t made some in ages, but in my recipe I add oatmeal and use honey in place of all the sugar.

    9. Noah*

      The bakery near me makes single serving sized, lemon chess pie. My favorite and great because you don’t end up with a whole pie in the house.

    10. Anonyby*

      My grandmother made an amazing lemon cake (and the recipe is really easy, I’ll need to make it when I can bake again…). The dessert my family would torment each other about endlessly was my grandmother’s apple dumplings… SO GOOD. And then my favorite cookie to bake at Christmas time is a mint spritz cookie whose recipe I got from a childrens cookie cookbook (which I still have, though it’s packed for a move).

    11. Sail On, Sailor*

      What a great first post! :-)

      My list: Homemade chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, lemon bars (on the tart side), all kinds of fruit pies. (My husband just said that it might be easier if I listed what I *don’t* like.) My grandmother used to make a treat called apple kuchen that we all loved growing up, but we couldn’t find her recipe after she died. Nothing we’ve found on the internet nails it, either.

      Plus, yesterday I made banana bread that turned out real well.

        1. Sail On, Sailor*

          You know, I don’t remember if I have. I’ll take a look, though. What I’m looking for is a recipe that has kind of custard-y layer between the pastry and apples.

          Thanks, Elizabeth!

    12. The HR Witch*

      OK, coming in late, but have to share since baked goods are so..well..GOOD!
      1) lemon meringue pie – finally learned to make sure the meringue is sealed to the crust, thereby preventing shrinking and puddles
      2) chocolate crunch cookies – dark chocolate, oats and corn flakes (yes!), dried cranberries and cherries – yummy
      3) flourless chocolate cake with pureed raspberries and vanilla whipped cream (the real stuff)
      4) chewy dark-chocolate chip cookies
      5) pumpkin-ginger loaf cake
      6) cheesecake in all it’s infinite varieties (except peanut butter!)

    13. Paige Turner*

      Mmm, that’s a magic cookie bar! Now that you’ve put the thought in my head, I’ll have to make some :)

  2. FX-ensis*

    I want to start a few blogs/social media accounts. Restaurant reviews, fitness reviews, and a consumer advocacy blog.

    I have some ideas of how to promote these things, however do I need to read an HTML book? I learnt it in the 1.0 era (a looooong time ago!!)

    1. Sarah*

      A site like WordPress will take care of the HTML/CSS for you if you want to go that route.

      If not, then yes you’ll need to learn modern web standards, which will mean HTML5, CSS, Javascript, etc.

      Regardless of what you choose, you might want to look at something like “Don’t Make Me Think” for general website design guidance.

      1. FX-ensis*

        Thanks. I’m not much of a artistic person, but prefer writing and speaking, but thanks again..

    2. Chuchundra*

      For blogging, the best thing to do is get an account on a blog site. has free accounts and it’s reasonably easy to upgrade to a pro account or move the blog to your own hosted site when the time comes. There’s also Blogger and Typepad as well as a bunch of smaller players.

      No need to learn HTML or anything technical if you don’t want to.

      1. Artemesia*

        I have a blog with wordpress and it is dead easy to use. I don’t have any particular programming skills and this one is entirely user friendly; my blog is heavily photo driven and it is set up to insert photos and size them.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      I used to hand-code websites, but nowadays that would be pretty much insane. You’re better off going with some WordPress (as has been mentioned) or some other CMS. If you know HTML 1.0 enough to italicize and so forth, you’re in good shape. The only other thing might be to get familiar with some kind of image editor. I’m fond of Photoshop, myself, but it’s expensive and takes time to learn. There is other stuff out there that serves the same purpose that’s cheaper and easier.

      You might want to peek at for some nice “responsive” website templates.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I use it also. I just bought my own domain (so it’s instead of They have pre-designed themes and everything. It’s easy peasy. I don’t have to think about that part of it–I just write posts.

    4. Traveler*

      Agreeing with the WordPress suggestion. It’s pretty easy once you get the hang of it. There are lots of tutorials on youtube, and there are also cheap-ish solutions to design problems and the like if you don’t want to spend hours doing it yourself.

      There are also several bloggers out there that have made a career out of teaching how to use these sorts of things, if you need help along the way.

  3. Calanon*

    Going more anonymous for this one…

    This is a work-life question and I’m posting it here because of the timing. My 16 month old daughter broke her leg tonight (Sat night). She inherited a genetic condition from me that means her bones are more brittle than a “normal” person. This is not her first fracture, nor will it be her last.

    Her followup appointment is Monday and I will be taking some time off to go to see her doctor. My question here is, how much information to share with others. There is obviously the question of how much I’m willing to share (which is actually a lot) but that isn’t the same as how much others want to know. Everyone in this group seems well adjusted and normal — how much would YOU want to know? Only that my kid has health problems? More, less? I’m in a brand new job and haven’t told anyone yet about my situation, waiting for a reason to bring it up.

    1. Anonie*

      Why do you have to go into details? Lots of children break arms and legs it is not uncommon. People may ask how she did it but little kids fall all the time. I fell on some stairs when I was that age. Have a permanent scar on my forehead from it. I don’t think you need to detail everytime she has an accident but if you do tell you coworkers every time she gets hurt it would make sense to tell them about her condition so they don’t jump to conclusions.

      1. Tmarie*

        If breaking bones is going to be more common for your child than the average child, I would find someone trusted at your new work, and gradually open up about the brittle bone issues you and your child face. I’d rather be pro-active so co-workers don’t start giving me the side-eye if my child has more doctor/hospital visits than normal.

        Shortly after my son was born everyone at my work knew he was diagnosed with Hirsprung’s Disease. Just like 18 years later, the people at my next work knew he was diagnosed bi-polar but didn’t know about the Hirshsprung’s. And the next place I work probably won’t know about either.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I agree with Tmarie & Anonie – this might be a case where a little “oversharing” might be beneficial to you in the long run.

        2. EDS anon*

          I think this is a good idea. I haven’t handled this as a parent (I’m not a parent), but I have a connective tissue disease that can cause frequent injuries. Managers, at least, need to understand what’s going on.

        3. INTP*

          I agree with this. In this case I think that the truth is less likely to hurt you than possible misconceptions that might result from not disclosing:
          1) You reveal very little, and because you call out frequently, people start to think that you’re calling off work every time your child’s nose is running.
          2) You reveal that your child has broken a bone or that you need to take her to the ER, and people start to wonder about *you* or your family – many people are sensitive to signs of abuse for various reasons and would wonder what was going on if your child was breaking bones or visiting the ER on a regular basis.

        4. Artemesia*

          Absolutely. Broken legs are not very common in little kids. Kids tend to bounce even rolling down stairs and so a broken leg sends up a bit of a red flag especially in a toddler. The second broken bone is likely to set people’s spidey sense off. I would want people to know that she has a condition where this is likely to occur from time to time — you don’t want to be defensively explaining it when the second or third event occurs and you really don’t want gossip that will be hard to overcome.

          sorry you have to deal with this and hope she is doing well.

          1. Calanon*

            Thanks — she’s a tough cookie (like her mom) and is already trying to get back on her feet (not yet baby!)

    2. Jen RO*

      I have always worked in places where the coworkers were close, so I would share everything and the coworkers would ask questions about the condition. I do realize (based on the regular AAM comments) that only a minority of people would feel comfortable sharing that much at work.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Me, too.

        Since I resist family analogies, I’ll go with “small town”. It’s natural for people to share and for other people to care about the sharing.

        If a baby breaks their arm, everybody would care and would support appropriately in the context of work. (And personally, because virtually everyone has at least a couple of work friends who have crossed into personal friends.)

        As a parent of a child who had a potentially chronic condition, though, the parent may not want to upset themselves further talking about it at work.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Let other people guide you with their questions. This will give you a customized level of response for each person you speak with. Your first paragraph is perfect for giving a short version of what is going on. I have a friend whose child has something that sounds very similar, matter of fact she gave me a description that is close to what you said here. I did not ask too many questions and she just followed my lead. I am sure it will come up again and we will discuss it a little more. She seems to be on top of things, just like you do here. I think that is basically what concerns people the most- “do you need something, can I help in some way?”

    4. Mister Pickle*

      I’ll be very honest: if I worked with you, I would only want to know the bare minimum. It’s not that I’m cold – I have two kids of my own, I love them beyond words and I’ve gone through my fair share of hardships with them as they grew up. It’s just that learning too much about your child’s situation is going to eat up a lot of my time and emotional energy. To be specific, I don’t mind knowing the general situation – but I don’t want a daily or even weekly recap of events.

      I can understand that you might want to find a confidante to talk with – but unless I knew you well and we got along tremendously, I would not want to be that person. I’ve held that role before – a coworker I’d known for many years, his son got into some trouble at school – every couple of weeks he’d stop by and ask if I had a few minutes. Things resolved okay. But still, I was emotionally wound up in the situation, and helpless to really do anything about it. “Helplessness” is an actual psychological state, where nothing you do makes any difference, and it is not a good place to be.

      So – I’m sorry if you think I’m a jerk. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s just that whether you realize it or not, getting me involved in your child’s problems is going to take a toll on me. And if it’s a problem where I can do nothing about it – that’s the worst. Strangely enough, I’d rather you hit me up for money, as I could at least feel that I was somehow assisting with the situation.

      1. Just me, Vee*

        Mister Pickle…THANK YOU for articulating so wonderfully a situation I find myself in at work. Helplessness does take a toll. The venter in my case walks out of my office feeling like a weight has been lifted, and it has, because it landed on me! I’m an overly sensitive person to start with, having coworkers (as opposed to friends, who I do want to be there for) tell me Every Little Thing about their kid’s drug use and jail time leaves me frustrated.

      2. Colette*

        When I worked for a company that was going through round after round of layoffs, that was the worst part. A lot of people would talk to me about how worried they were, and I absorbed it all. I wasn’t worried about what would happen if I were laid off, but I was way too stressed about everyone else.

      3. Calanon*

        I know there are people who are like you out there (I think some of them might work with me). Thanks for the perspective — I hope I don’t overshare!

  4. skyline*

    Buying boots is hard when you are petite. The widest part of your calf is not where the widest part of the boot is, and the shafts are often too hard. Sigh.

    1. Stephanie*

      Heh, I have the opposite problem. I have to hunt down extended calf sizes. Even then, I just sometimes accept the boots might be a little slouchy. But in your case, maybe look for shorter shafts?

      I tried on some Toms Wrap Boots and with my wide calves, I looked like a mummy with Ace Bandages on my sprained calves.

      1. skyline*

        Oh, I have to hunt down extended calf sizes, too. I do appreciate that they exist and that you can find them online. But being petite and curvy means that even when the supposed circumference fits your leg measurement, the boot still might not zip up.

        (I take full advantage of various online retailers’ free returns. What I really need to find is an awesome local cobbler.)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I’ve decided we can Never Win. I have massive calves (like, 18 inches around) and have been able to find some good boots that I’ve run into the ground, but it’s rare. Either the calf doesn’t fit or it does and the shoe doesn’t work. I was shopping yesterday and the lovely shoe guy tried but failed. I think I’m going to stick with short boots from now on, and even those have to have wider calves. I also have really bad feet (I’ve had stress fractures in each foot, with a really bad set of breaks last year in my right), and I’ve decided that I have to spend money on shoes– which just makes the whole thing worse, because great leather boots are a fortune.

          Would a cobbler be able to get a lot of stretch in a calf? I’ve never tried it, but we do have a great shoe place here. I would hate to spent a ton of money, then take the boots to a cobbler and discover they can’t help.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t think stretching is likely to do it–it’s not going to give you enough play–but you can get an elastic gore inserted. Also, shop online! “Wide calves” is a specific and searchable attribute in several interfaces.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I do– I love Zappos! But even the Wide Calf on Zappos is a crapshoot. Blech. Oh, well– short boots for the win! (Disclaimer: I have a pair of wide shaft boots arriving tomorrow from Zappos and I am crossing my fingers…)

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, it’s not a cure-all, that’s for sure. But I don’t even try at brick and mortar shoe shopping any more.

                Auditions and Maryland Square sometimes have wide calf brands I don’t see elsewhere, too.

                1. skyline*

                  Wide Widths has good data on circumference for each size in stock, but you have to account for the proportion problem if you are petite. Some brands have more detailed data on their websites (For example, Naturalizer lists circumference and shaft height for each size) but again, you have to account for proportion issues.

                  The problem with sites like Zappos and 6pm, much as I otherwise love them, is that they only give you circumference and shaft heights for a given shoe size, and you have to guess from that whether it will work as your shoe size.

            1. triple flip*

              I am short and have large calves from years of figure skating. I bought a great pair of riding boots last year from Von Maur (similar store to Nordstrom). The brand is …me too and they have stretchy material to allow for my large calves. They are super comfortable and well made. The cost around $170. This year I found a pair of brown boots that fit my calves well and are super cute. The brand is pink & pepper and I bought them at off Broadway shoes. Anyway, the quality isn’t great and I will need to have them repaired soon but I only paid $60 for them.

            2. cuppa*

              I’m a little late to the party, but Aerosoles has a boot with a second zipper for an extendable calf. Might be worth a try!

          2. Stephanie*

            I’ve done some home stretching with success (but not for boots). You put on a couple of thick pairs of socks and run a hair dryer (or, er, a hot air gun if you’re like me and don’t have a hair dryer) over the shoes. It can help stretch shoes a little. But I don’t know how much that would do for a significantly tight shaft.

            1. fposte*

              I think feet get helped by the bony infrastructure. I think even if it worked on calves it might be a lot more uncomfortable in the meantime–like Happy Tourniquet Day.

          3. University admin*

            Buy boots from Ros Hommerson! They’re expensive (~$250) but soooooooooo worth it. They’re real leather, and every boot comes in various different calf sizes; wide-calf is their specialty. I have a gorgeous pair of knee-high stiletto boots with a 19 inch calf.

      2. Artemesia*

        I have the opposite problem. Even though the rest of me is no longer super skinny as it once was, my calves still are and so boots are always too big in the calves — it is really hard to find ones that fit and don’t rub the wrong way.

      3. Traveler*

        I have just completely given up on boots. I get way too frustrated shopping for them. It sucks because there are some great ones out there.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I am petite and curvy and have given up on cute boots because of the calves. I have to wear rubber boots for work sometimes and it is a pain the ass because if I get a size that fits my actual feet, the calf is so tight it cuts off the circulation to my foot. If I get a size big enough to fit my calf, I am suddenly wearing clown shoes.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        BTDT…I find the best solution is to grab a sharp knife or heavy duty shears and cut/snip the back of the boot as far down as I need to get the boot all the way on.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          I have done that before, but it does sometimes ruin the structural integrity of the boot :( I’ve had the cut continue all the way down right in the middle of a shift.

    3. RandomName*

      I feel your pain. I can’t wear boots at all, even over jeans, because I have such spindley calves. My lucky sister has the calves of a gymnast. I’ve searched everywhere and have tried brands that are supposed to be for small calves, but there is always a huge gap between the boot and my leg.

    4. Celeste*

      Maybe it’s worth investing in custom made boots? I’ve heard excellent reviews on Poppy Barley. I’m thinking of rewarding myself with a pair if I can meet a big weight loss goal.

    5. B.*

      Boots are hard. I’m not convinced they fit anybody. :(

      A really good fashion blog called Extra Petite has boot recommendations. There’s also a forum, linked to under the “petite resources” tab, that might help.

    6. kas*

      I wish I had bigger calves so I could fit into boots properly. There’s always a lot of extra space around the calf area so I have the hardest time finding tall boots.

    7. Anonyby*

      Petite and curvy here too! *hugs* I’m just on the border where my calves are too big for some brands, but not others. I’ve lucked out in that my two pairs of boots fit (both were mail order, and it was a near thing with the Timberland boots, I can’t tuck jeans into those).

      I don’t know what to do about height, but 6pm has a ton of criteria that you can narrow down searches with, including wide calf, and I think I’ve seen extra-wide calf on there a few times. It’s where I’ve gotten my two pairs. The only downside is that it doesn’t do free returns.

  5. Stephanie*

    Anyone else using iOS 8 on his or her iDevice? Even with the upgrades, I’m finding it buggy as hell. I upgraded my iPhone a couple of weeks ago to the iPhone 6 (which feels HUGE in my hand after having a 4/4s for three years), so it automatically came with the latest iOS. Biggest headache is trying to sync music from iTunes–sometimes tracks just don’t copy over (and doesn’t seem like there’s a pattern to it). Trying my best to avoid the Apple Store.

    1. Mardi_jo*

      I’m having all those same issues with my upgrade from a 4s to the 6. My phone calls rarely have sound on my first attempt, posts from FB rarely load on my first attempt, and it was a PAIN to get my music on this device. I was thinking about taking my phone in but I can’t get the issues to duplicate consistently.

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh man. The music upload is such a pain. Funny thing is, I usually got the lowest-storage phone and just used my iPod Classic. I lost my iPod classic and everyone always was like “Why do you still have an iPod and and iPhone?” (And Apple stopped making it, which I think like only my dad and I are sad about.) So I opted for additional storage and am now grumbling like “Seee, syncing on the iPod was soooo easy…”

        1. Finny*

          I, too, am sad about Apple stopping making the iPod classic, as I love the classic. With my vision issues I find the interface much easier to work with.

        2. Snork Maiden*

          I have a smartphone and an iPod – I prefer having my music separate, so my phone battery lasts longer and also because the iPod is way easier to carry while exercising – and I don’t get distracted by calls or texts. (I know, airplane mode, but I have only so much willpower.)

    2. Observer*

      Why are you trying to avoid the Apple store?

      In any case, you might want to try their On-line support and their forums.

      1. Stephanie*

        I just hate how crowded it is (with people who are all anxious that their product is malfunctioning) and that the answer half the time seems to be “You can buy a new one!” Heh, a friend and I scheduled our Genius Bar appointments at the same time so we could have someone to talk to.

        Doing some Googling, it sounds like these are common problems. I’ll just patiently wait for a patch.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      I’ve been at iOS8 for about a week on my iPad Mini. It’s broken a number of music/audio apps, but so far I haven’t had too much trouble with basic operations like syncing. Are you using a cable or attempting a wireless sync? I hear tales that wireless is rather flakey. Hmmm now that you mention it, I’ve had a few issues getting ebooks onto my device. And the new iBooks app is awful ‘skittish’ about adjusting the brightness level when I read in the dark, I’m finding that annoying.

      For what it’s worth, I’ll try to pay closer attention next time I sync music. I tend to listen to lots of random playlists, so if some individual song is skipped, I may not notice it.

    4. Alicia*

      My iPad 2 (3 years old) is basically a brick. I’m using it right now, but there’s no guarantee it won’t reboot or freeze out basically every other thing I do. It was fine until the iOS came out last month. It aggravates me like crazy because I used it to do a lot of my less-intensive computing stuff (like surfing the net, reading blogs, etc) because my laptop is 5 years old and nearly toast, but now this isn’t much better. Oh electronics.

      1. Nicole*

        I feel your pain! My iPad 2 is super slow now too. I wish I had never updated the iOS. If I could go back to ios 7 I would in a heartbeat. Everything takes forever to load and I have no desire to fork over another $500+ for a newer iPad when there’s nothing wrong with my older one other than the latest software. I really wish there was a rollback option. *sigh*

        1. Stephanie*

          Me three! My iPad 2 was starting to get sluggish (but still worked fine), but iOS 8 has just made it borderline unusable. I also wish I could roll back. I definitely don’t want to go out and spend $500 on a new iPad. (And even then, there’s the whole issue of what to do with a three-year-old iPad).

    5. Kyrielle*

      I was having all sorts of annoying issues when I first got my new 6 Plus, but moving to 8.1 cleared up all the ones I was noticing. That said, I wouldn’t notice if I was missing a track or two of music.

      But it rings every time on the first go.

      The one headache I still have is that the new power button position means I turn the volume up or down when sleeping the phone sometimes, because of how I tend to hold it. I’m trying to retrain myself to hold it with thumb on the power button and fingers lower on the opposite side, but I haven’t gotten used to that yet.

    6. Sunflower*

      I had an iPhone 4 and my phone was stolen so I ended up going with the 5s since it was all they had in store. But I also updated my phone and all of a sudden my data usage was OUT OF CONTROL. Like using 20% of it in a day. They said it’s a software problem so the apple store reset my phone as new and its supposed to fix it. I agree the apple store is a nightmare but I couldn’t afford to go $100 over my data limit so I would be on the watch for that!

      1. Sunflower*

        Also adding on that I still had old software on the 4s so there are certain things I’m not sure are new but they are new to me.

        The biggest being I have started leaving my phone on Do Not Disturb during work and turns out it was sending my phone calls straight to voicemail AND I wasn’t getting the missed call or voicemail notifications. A quick google showed me I had to allow calls from everyone when its on but I was pretty confused on that.

    1. Stephanie*


      1. Something bothers me about Jay. I can’t place my finger on it. Looking forward to next week.
      2. From this week’s (11/6), I thought the defense attorney’s comment about sociopaths was really interesting (i.e., how she has yet to encounter one in her work).
      3. Weirdly enough, I could empathize with Adnan’s frustration about everyone saying he had to be innocent because he’s so nice. I have no clue as to his guilt, but I could get the frustration of hearing a nonreassuring platitude like that (similar to “Oh, but you’re so smart, you shouldn’t be having a problem finding a job!” or “You’re so wonderful, you shouldn’t still be single!”)

      This Baltimore Sun story about the aftereffects for the Syed family is really interesting and sad.

      1. Lillie Lane*

        Deirdre’s comment about the sociopaths was interesting to me, too. Especially since the prevalence of psychopathic/sociopathic individuals is estimated by experts to be much higher in inmates than the general population (I think I read about 20% vs. 1%).

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I’m not following Serial but I did look at the Sun article, you mentioned, Stephanie. I hope in the future that society offers more help for the families of the convicted. Basically, now we ignore them and perhaps (???) feel some satisfaction in their discomfort. As if the family deserves to be punished also, and that is not always true. Matter of fact, many times it is NOT true. We have very little control over the decisions our peeps make.
        Likewise, I have no idea if this guy is guilty or not. I just hope that the truth becomes apparent to all, at some point soon.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I’ve been listening too. Jay also bothers me, but then I wonder if they are going to throw a curve ball and maybe it was the new boyfriend from the mall, or a random person.

      I hope there is some resolution, though. Last night I watched “The Thin Blue Line” which I had never seen before. After I watched I googled it because I wanted to know what happened! Luckily Wikipedia came through for me.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I fear no resolution. Apparently the “season” is being produced weekly so they could easily finish and we’re all left wondering. It might be realistic but very unsatisfying.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Really enjoying it, especially since I’m from Baltimore County and I know exactly what they’re talking about most of the time. Remember Mr. S., who turned out to be a known streaker in Leakin Park? I had a few friends who lived around there who saw him several times. Had completely forgotten about that!

      Jay bothers me too.

      But the girl who reported what the Neighbor Boy told her was, to me, crushing. My biggest question is, if not Adnan, then who? Which, I suppose, is the whole point. But I’m particularly enjoying Sarah Koenig’s frustrations as she goes through the discovery process.

    4. Jubilance*

      OMG I’m addicted to Serial, along with my fiance.

      I’m suspicious of Jay but I can’t come up with a motive for him to kill Hae, other than he didn’t like that Adnan was close to his GF…but why go through the trouble of killing Hae to frame Adnan? What if it didn’t work? I’m also surprised the cops never really looked at Don, I hope there’s more info on him in a later episode. I’m happy to hear the Innocence Project is at least taking a look at Adnan’s case. And I still can’t believe he was convicted on this flimsy “evidence”.

        1. SerialPod*

          I think Don’s alibi checked out and there’s not much else to say about him. He was at work at the time of the murder.

    5. brightstar*

      Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve become completely obsessed with Serial. I also thought it was natural of Adnan to become frustrated with hearing “You seem too nice to have committed this murder” rather than hearing they believe he’s innocent or the case was flimsy.

      I was surprised to listen to the Slate podcast and find out that most of them hated the episode. I thought it was exciting that the Innocence Project is at least reviewing the case and I’m excited to hear next week’s episode.

      I also thought Deidre’s comments about sociopaths was interesting as people believe sociopaths to be so prevalent in society. And I’ve seen on the Reddit sub claims that basically say a good liar equals a sociopath. No, it doesn’t.

    6. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m totally obsessed. I started off thinking Adnan was probably innocent, because frankly the podcast format kind of set us up to think that. But by episode 5 or so, I started thinking he’s likely guilty, or at least involved. I do the state’s timeline is probably totally wrong, but that Adnan did kill her, or was involved in her death (possibly with Jay? who knows). It may not have been premeditated though, which would be another thing the state got wrong.

      His refusal to point the finger at Jay (who knew where Hae’s car was, which proves Jay had some sort of involvement and who — if Adnan didn’t do it — has told a horrific lie about him) is so bizarre to me that I’ve concluded that Adnan can’t accuse Jay without implicating himself in some way, and so instead has fallen back on this vague, “I can’t remember much” defense.

      Sarah K. also feels a little naive to me in how much she seems swayed by the fact that she likes Adnan as a person.

      1. Intrigued*

        I want to yell at Sarah “Molly, you in danger girl!” when she talks about liking Adnan and thinking that may have a bearing on his guilt or innocence. Of course he’s not a threat to her but I feel he’s pulling the wool over her eyes.

        I REALLY had the hairs on my neck stand up when Adnan was defending himself by saying he tends to over explain himself, and that’s why he had some many details in the thing he told Sarah or the police. Liars do exactly that. When someone is lying they add details to make the story sound more convincing. I hated that Sarah seemed to accept that it’s Adnan’s personality because he convinced some fellow prisoners that he could make BBQ sauce from pancake syrup at breakfast. It’s not the same and it obfuscates the issue, that being that he lies and subconsciously embellishes like liars do.

    7. Cath in Canada*

      So obsessed! No-one I know in real life is listening to it as far as I know, so I’m glad people are up for talking about it here.

      I’m suspicious of Jay too – something just seems off.

      I’m really looking forward to the episode they’ve been hinting at where they’re going to go into mistakes made by the original defense lawyer. And I hope the Innocence Project team stay involved in future episodes – I think they’re going to have a lot of interesting things to say.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      I’ve got an invite, just haven’t had the opportunity to register yet. Later today, probably.

    2. Clever Name*

      I know someone who can send me an invite, but I’m not sure what the point is. What makes ello better than facebook?

      1. Stephanie*

        I am not cool enough for an invite, but from my understanding, it is supposed to be less cluttered than Facebook and have no ads.

  6. Myers Briggs*

    Who has taken a Myers-Briggs personality test? Do you think it’s an accurate portrayal of your personality? Has it shaped your career choice or hindered it? For giggles, post your type if you know it!

    1. Fucshia*

      Depending on the exact version of the test and my mood when I take it, I am an ENTP, an INFJ, or several combinations of those. The only thing that never changes is the second letter.

    2. Stephanie*

      INTJ. Spot-on, personality wise (especially wrt to friendships and dating). Haven’t thought about it too much as it would relate to a career.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        As an amateur Myers Briggoligist geek, I can tell you that INTJ and engineering are spot on together.

        1. AnotherAlison*

          Engineering actually skews mostly to ISTJs (says the INTJ engineer).

          I don’t think there are enough INTJs in the world to trend in any particular area. ; )

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Oh, right, I meant more than engineering can be a good fit for an INTJ.

            (Son #2 major in engineering is an INTJ, for another data point)

      2. catsAreCool*

        INTJ. I work with computers, so it fits pretty well, but I didn’t take the test until I was already in my career.

      3. Sidra*

        I’m an INTJ as well and agree. Knowing my default helps me try to be better with empathy and other soft skills and definitely makes me a better friend!

    3. skyline*

      INTJ. I think the value of personality tests is that they let you know how you typically approach life and see things. Being aware of your default mode of operation gives you a chance to pause and ask yourself, “Is this response/approach to X really optimal or accurate, or am I just doing this because it’s my default?”

    4. Lillie Lane*

      I’m an ISFP, though I now think I’m actually between an ISFP and an ESFP (which according to my reading would be nearly impossible, but I still believe it). According to my profile, I should not have chosen the career I did — but I still love my job.

      Interestingly, my husband is the exact opposite (INTJ). He is in the same career and his personality/work style is much more suited to the work we do. I think we get along so well because we have similar interests but very different personalities. I know we aren’t the “ideal” pairing, but I’d be interested to know if there are any other readers that have a partner with a polar opposite Myers-Briggs type.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        That’s really interesting. I’m an ENTJ (so, exactly your opposite, hi mirror twin!). My husband is an INTP, so we’re both NTs but opposites on E/I and J/P. Because we’re NTs we both make decisions similarly (we like to look at everything that is available, then talk and think about the benefits and decide rationally). We do have some friction because I’m a J and he’s a P. Ps always feel like there is plenty of time to get things done, and Js feel that there is never enough time. I think knowing our Myers-Briggs types is helpful though because it helps us understand how the other sees the world.

    5. Amy*

      I’m in my 50s and I’ve learned to do the opposite of my inclination over the years, but yes, my INTP is fairly accurate. The “P” especially! People who have to map out every little step of something before taking step 1 drive me crazy!

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Conversely, people who just dive in and want to “wing it” all the time drive me crazy! (Yes, I’m a J, and a super strong one at that). I’ve found Myers-Briggs helps me to understand how other people work and people whose styles differ from mine are a lot less bothersome to me when I think about it as part of their type.

    6. Tara*

      I’m an ENFP! I find I’m unlike the typical ENFP (probably verging on ENFJ) in that I don’t mind routine work too much, as long as I get to mix it up with more interesting stuff and I get to at least learn new boring routine work every now and then. But being aware of my tendency towards flightiness and not finishing things is definitely helpful at work because it allows me to check it.

    7. Jake*

      I’m an ENFP. Tested as INTJ before I started working retail, which corresponded to a pretty significant change in my work skillset/philosophy. I vaguely like the concept of the Myers-Briggs test, but with 16 options I think it’s a bit overly granular — I couldn’t easily describe any of the axes other than E-I off the top of my head.

      1. Sorcha*

        Interesting. I find the granularity of the Myers-Briggs to be the best feature. Other tests group people too broadly to mean anything useful to me.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        It’s actually way more than 16 types if you plug into the nuts and bolts of Myers Briggs.

        You start with 16, but the strength of splits makes a big difference. If the testing at both points in your life was accurate for that time, you’ve got some really strong splits (which, is super functional of you, btw.)

        This is *my* quick written summary. For actual Myers Briggs information from actual experts, google it, but this is mine:

        E/I: where you draw your energy. E’s draw their energy from other people. I’s energy is drained from being around other people.
        N/S: where you draw your information. N’s draw their information internally “intuition”. S’s draw their information from what they can touch and see.
        F/T: super simplistically, F’s value people over principles and T’s value principles over people.
        P/J: P’s prefer their possibilities open, J’s prefer things settled and decided.

        In addition to 16 types, there’s a pretty big difference between someone who tests 11p and 9 j vs someone who tests 20p.

        The granularity is what I find useful (since the goal of Myers Briggs past understanding is working on balancing yourself better).

        1. Puddin*

          Exactly…each dimension can be a strong indicator or a weaker one. I think that is just as telling as knowing what ‘letter’ you are.

          I had a teacher who informed us at the beginning of class that he was a ‘high J’. And he proved himself to be so…He would blurt out ‘NO!’ or ‘You can’t do that!’ to students comments. He always asked more questions to get further into the topic, and he was never rude about it. But he first inclination was shock whenever he heard something that was contrary [to his mindset].

          I am a ‘mid J’ so not quite that bad, LOL. But I have my ‘that is not the order of things’ moments. My F/T is fairly balanced and I think that is where some of my communication or actions can be perceived as ambivalent – and indeed I do feel ambivalent about many things where I have to choose between principle and people (empathy).

          Over the years I have turned from a strong E to a weaker one. I am much less likely to instigate communication and social activities now. Or at least the number of people I am willing to do that with have shrunk.

          MB is a great way to take stock and introspect. I find that it can also be useful at work to help a team break the ice or get to know each other a little better. “Oh, THAT’s why you like to do your spreadsheets that way!”

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            The P/J thing is most important to me for functionality. Even though I am definitely P, I have enough J in the split that I can concentrate on bringing as much J as possible at work.

            On the one hand, if I am not sure of a course of action, I have the ability to wait an eternity for more information. I don’t feel the compulsion to move just for the sake of moving on. Strategically this can be very good. On the other hand, too much of that is paralyzing (to me and and others) so I do try very hard to bring as much J out as often as I can.

            E/I, same thing as you. My I has moved up over the years to be almost 50/50. I don’t know if that’s me getting less tolerant of people over the years, or if it is the N factor. Even extroverted N’s have sensory overload problems in groups and I seem to get overloaded faster the older I get.

    8. AMD*

      INFJ – I am a pharmacist, and my INTP husband is a professor, careers that fit our types pretty well. We have found it to be more helpful in guiding our relqtionshIps than career choices, however. My extremely rational husband has seen it as a peek into what it’s like to not be extremely rational. It’s helped us predict each others’ reactions to ideas.

      His mother is an SJ, and we when have talked to her about Myers-Briggs types, she seems to believe that it is wrong to be any other type. Husband tried to explain to her, “No, it’s just how people are, there isn’t a right or wrong to it,” but she doesn’t seem to follow, and insists that, for example, he should be an extrovert because he is good at talking to people.

      I think there isn’t evidence for it really predicting what careers you would be good at, though it might help predict which ones you’d be extremely unhappy doing,

    9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      There was a similar post on Friday, but I was late to it.


      Fits me to a T and it’s shaped me greatly in my choices. I think the best thing about geeking over Myers Briggs when I was young (20 I think when discovered) was I found it explained so much about me to myself. It gave me acceptance of me + encouragement to improve areas that were unbalanced.

      I’m a 20 N and 0 S no matter how many times I take it. This is wildly unbalanced :p, and there’s not a lot I can do with that, but it does explain why I walk into walls.

      The greatest help was the P/J split. I’m more P than J (which explains why I can’t put anything in a drawer or a closet ever) but I work on working out of my J at the day job. Leaving possibilities open is awesome, but you have to close them up sometime or you’re the starving artist busker on the street.

      Here’s an interesting fact:

      ALL of senior management + ownership at my company are N’s. Every single one of us. Most of us are P’s.

      It’s. Hysterical.

      Well, we all understand each other.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        p.s., what does this mean?

        On Friday’s post, I think I was the only ENFP posting (late, I posted on Friday). It was big run of INT’s.

        Sunday morning brings out the ENFP’s. Gregarious bunch!

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          That’s my exact opposite type, btw, which is how much somebody like me needs ISTJs.

      2. Myers-Briggs*

        Wow! I didn’t know there was a post on Friday. I always skip Friday’s Open Thread. After working all week, I don’t want to think another thing about work! Lol.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Well I don’t get that because there’s nothing inherently not nice about ISTJ’s. How are ISTJ’s not nice? They are typically not gushy, but good lord, there’s enough of us FP’s running around gushing the world up, we don’t need more.

        I love ISTJ’s. They make me calm. (As I said above, to Colleen, it’s the exact opposite of my type so, I guess I have a better than average admiration of ISTJ’s since they are so strong in areas that I’m not.)

        1. Celeste*

          I’ve read that the type stands for I Seldom Tell Jokes, that the person is too uptight and overly concerned with standards. So that’s where I get the impression.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            blah blah blah.

            What’s “overly” concerned? Overly according to whom?

            Any personality type can skew too hard in a direction and yeah, an ISTJ can be the DMV lady who stamps ‘DENIED’ gleefully when every last thing isn’t in perfect order but, that’s not my experience.

            My experience is with nice people I can count on and I collaborate with very well. Standards are important! My experience is that when an ISTJ is in charge of standards and implementation, the trains run on time and run well.

          2. Colette*

            I wouldn’t say I’m not nice – but I would say that while I would sympathize that your dog died/car broke down/etc., I wouldn’t accept it as an excuse for not doing things properly. If it’s something that is severe enough that you can’t function, tell me that and take time off – otherwise, do things the way you’re supposed to.

            In other words, you might be dealing with something, but so is everyone – it doesn’t entitle you to special favors. (Again, with the caveat that if it’s something unusual like serious illness or a legitimate crisis, I’d definitely support taking time to deal with it – but not doing things half-assed.)

      2. catsAreCool*

        None of the types are inherently not nice. A “T” type will tend to go with logic more than emotion, but that’s not meanness.

    10. 22dncr*

      Just took a more intense test and result was XNTP because I am 50/50 E & I which explains SO MUCH about me (; Previously I’d gotten ISTP and ISFP but these were from the short tests and they just never spoke to me.

    11. Graciosa*

      Another INTJ, and yes, I think it is very accurate.

      It does help me sometimes in communicating with others. I tend to give instructions to my team on a very conceptual level (the N aspect) rather than a concrete one (an S preference). I do catch myself on occasion and try to adjust to allow for other people’s preferences.

      As an example, one book about MBTI had an N teacher talking about telling her students to write a paper and being asked about the required length. She told them it should be long enough to cover the topic – but there are Sensing students who want to be told that the paper should be 8-10 pages and feel anxious without that type of specific guidance.

      The positive side of being iNtuitive is that very conceptual instructions in business can be perceived as a sign of trust with the right team. I don’t need to tell an employee exactly how to do a job (and I probably don’t really care) as long as it gets done.

      I had a fellow manager who was a very traditional SJ who could not function without detailed information from his team. He needed daily lists of what project were being worked, and in what priority or he felt like he wasn’t doing his job.

      I could never have worked for him, but it did make me wonder how much of what is perceived as micromanagement is the result of an SJ’s need for specific, viewable detail.

      1. Sorcha*

        Whoops, posted too soon by accident. I definitely think it’s accurate for me, but I was already in this career path before I ever got tested and it hasn’t really affected that. It has made more of a difference to me in my personal life, actually.

    12. Sabrina*

      I’m INTP. I think it’s accurate as far as personality, but the career suggestions I haven’t found very helpful. None are anything I’d really want to do.

    13. Felicia*

      I consider myself both an INTJ and an INFJ because I get both and for me N and F are about 50/50 . I think that fits my personality exactly and the only way it’s impacted my career is it’s a good explanation for why I like what I like

    14. Persephone Mulberry*

      INFP – with exactly one tick off dead-center toward I rather than E. I wish I could find my full results, but that one detail stuck in my head.

    15. B.*

      I’ve taken it. Not accurate!

      The test automatically sorts you into its categories. It doesn’t tell you when your traits are balanced or very close to equal – instead it will sort you into one extreme or the other. So I might be INTJ one day and INFP the next.

      Also, read up a little on the Barnum effect. It’s all vaguely worded and just slightly positive, like a horoscope, telling us what we want to hear. That doesn’t make it accurate.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Actually, there are versions of the scoring – usually you have to pay for them – that tell you your relative intensity on all 16 points.

    16. CAA*

      I am IxTx, and I say that because I’ve done this workshop twice, with two different facilitators, and come out in the middle on the N/S and P/J scales both times. Apparently this is a unique and mind-boggling result for the people who administer these tests, especially when the subject is female. So overall, the workshops are somewhat uncomfortable because I don’t like being unique and mind-boggling in a group, but interesting because I enjoy learning about the theory behind all this.

      Career wise, I moved from systems engineering and software dev into dev management. I love having insight to both the technical and business sides of a solution and I’m good at communicating the needs of each side to the other. I’m weak at some of the touchy-feely stuff that goes along with management, but the engineers I manage are generally pretty forgiving since they want less touchy-feely stuff than a lot of other groups would.

    17. INTP*

      INTP (as per my user name). I’m very close to the middle on the F-T, but was in the highest boxes on N and P. I’m a bit spacey.

      I wouldn’t say that it has shaped my career because a) most guides focus on math and science for INTs and that’s just not where my interests lie and b) I always knew that I had specific needs from work without a test telling me. My mom MTBI-typed me when I was in elementary school so I’ve known my type all alone but it’s not like I would not be aware that I need my work to be self-directed, solitary, and free from arbitrary rules without it!

      What I did find it helpful for was validation in certain areas. I was a serious kid who disappointed a lot of adults who prefer “fun” kids because I couldn’t just play for fun without trying to be good at what I was doing or watch a cartoon without being bugged by all the unrealistic stuff. It was nice to read how normal this is for INT kids. And at one point I became concerned that I had Aspberger’s or was a sociopath or something because I have no interest in things like team bonding (even non-cheesy team bonding) and literally feel no payoff from getting to know and like my coworkers, while even my introverted coworkers usually felt like there was some payoff, they felt better about their work or could work better with people. But again, normal for INTPs.

      Can I also post a mini-rant about people who are ES** and say MBTI is crap and useless and everyone has traits of everything? I totally get why it wouldn’t *seem* useful to you if you’re in one of the most popular categories so culture and social interaction in general are built around your preferences and you don’t have to adjust. It’s very helpful for those of us in the “less than 1% of women” type categories who have to adjust ourselves to survive in most work cultures.

    18. Mallory*

      I have taken the test three times, I always, always get INTJ.
      I’ve taken it at different times, different moods, different ages, etc. and still…INTJ. It’s actually very accurate for me(which is probably why I consistently test INTJ, right?) except for the emotional part or lack of. I’m an only child and my parents raised me to be conscious of the fact that I would naturally be selfish and to counter act that by being mindful of others, especially their feelings and needs. That being said, if left to my own devices I do tend to shut myself off, I have to actively remind myself to tell others they are loved, cared for, etc.
      I’m going to ask my husband to take the test, because he’s a software developer(which is in the INTJ career realm) and I’m an office manager(on the very fringe of INTJ career)
      I’d actually say my INTJ has limited my career choice, I hate inefficiencies and found college to be terribly inefficient and because I think my way is the best way, I did not finish my degree.
      I love reading about how this has shaped each of you and if you feel it’s accurate! So interesting!

      1. Sidra*

        My husband and I are also both INTJ, and he is also a software developer (I would be too, had I had any sense in college). I similarly have had a very difficult time finding satisfying work as I have a hard time dealing with bureaucracy and office politics/egos. I am on a good path, but I think us INTJs are pretty destined to be frustrated in typical office environments! ;)

        1. gr8 candidate*

          Hmmmm. Yes, INFP’s are apparently as rare in this group as they are in the outside world. I am a very strong INFP.

    19. QualityControlFreak*

      INTJ. Took the test for kicks and it had nothing to do with my career choice, but yeah. Pretty well aligned.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Little bit. Heh. ;). My biggest challenge is people. I’m a pretty strong introvert. What has helped me is to realize that, at the heart of getting anything done is people. I like and understand patterns. People are a huge part of the pattern. So I’ve looked on it as a professional challenge to improve my skills in that area.

    20. Blue_eyes*

      I’m an ENTJ, which is one of the rarer types (so I’m a special snowflake, haha). It’s definitely accurate for me. My J score is especially high, which explains a lot about my personality. I’m working to get my J/P score a bit more balanced, but in the meantime, at least I’m aware of it.

      I took the Myers-Briggs test in the context of a work environment that had a huge focus on teamwork. Knowing my type and the types of my teammates definitely helped me to understand them better and work with them better. It helped me to not take other’s actions so personally (example: “R probably hasn’t gotten me that newsletter yet because she’s a P so she likes to do things last minute” vs. “R knew I needed that newsletter and she still didn’t send it, what a jerk!”). Throughout my twenties I’ve done a lot of thinking about who I am as a person and how other people are different from me and Myers-Briggs has been one way of codifying some of those differences.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        ENTJs and ENFPs can work up a wicked amount of trouble together when they combine forces.

        Just sayin’. :)

        1. manager librarian*

          ENTJ….This was very helpful to know that “I was born this way” also that my leadership comes from this set. I was also wondering because someone asked about jobs. Mine is a 8.9 to 10 out of 10. It is an extraordinary fit. Last job, had for 15 years the same. Job before that 5 years…8. Job before that 4.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            From your screen name, I’m guessing you’re a librarian? What do you do day to day and what do you feel makes it a good fit as an ENTJ? I’m looking at new career possibilities right now, so I’m curious what others with my type are doing. Strangely, although I feel the type fits me, I’m not sure that “leader” really suits me. Being in charge of other people is not my favorite thing (one reason among many that I left classroom teaching). Also, when I worked in a school and we all took Myers-Briggs, the only other people with ENTJ worked in Operations (I think everyone in Operations was ENTJ, 2 or 3 people).

            I really like working as a stage manager (in high school and college), so I’m looking into Project Manager positions because I think it uses a similar skill set.

    21. Windchime*

      I’ve taken it, but it doesn’t really make sense to me. I hate questions like, “Would you rather go to a party or read a book?” I don’t know! Who is going to be at the party? How tired am I? Is the book I’m currently reading good or boring? Is there something yummy in the fridge, like leftover beef stew, that sounds so good that I would rather skip the party even though it sounds kinda fun?

      Maybe I’m a little too analytical for these types of tests.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Ha, ha, too funny.

        Okay, well, you may never get through test but I will definitely give you an armchair Myers Briggs “P” for that response. :)

        It doesn’t matter. It’s crazy useful to some of us but, it doesn’t matter. If the only takeaway is “people are wired differently and there’s nothing inherently bad in different ways of viewing information and or different ways of accomplishing tasks”, then that’s the major bit right there.

      2. Tara*

        I always try to get to what they’re actually trying to ask in those questions. Okay, I would favour a book over a party if it was a book from my favourite author and the party sounded kind of boring, but in general I prefer to be out and social over alone so I’m going to go with that.

      3. Melissa*

        I find those questions really hard because I’m in the middle of the introverted/extraverted spectrum, so all of those things are relevant. It is it a big raucous party or is it a small intimate party of just people I know and a few others? Am I exhausted or have I been able to rest most of the day today? Did I know about it ahead of time or did I get surprise invited at the last minute? (Those stress me out).

    22. Mimmy*

      I don’t think I’ve taken the paid version since college, but have taken numerous free variations on Myers Briggs and I always come out as being ISFJ. I don’t remember the exact details of the description, but I remember that human services and other helping professions were common suggestions. Which shows that I do have the heart for helping people–I just get too nervous doing it.

      I’m not familiar with other aspects of ISFJ as I’ve always taken it on career websites.

    23. Ludo*

      I am ENFJ. Even when I try to change the results, that is what sneaks out. I have been that on ever iteration that I have ever come across sine I was 13 years old.

    24. Just Visiting*

      I’ve never taken it officially, but on the online tests I’m always an IN (and off-the-charts I, there is not a single extraverted bone in my body), with the last two letters highly dependent on the mix of questions and my mood at the time. The extreme introversion is probably why I don’t really mind tedious tasks at work. Give me data entry or filing to do, just don’t make me interact with anyone!

    25. Jillociraptor*

      INFJ, and it’s extremely accurate. With any kind of test or assessment like this I think it’s most useful as an entry point into discussing and thinking about your behavior and preferences. I do StrengthsFinder with my employees and have had just as robust a conversation about themes that were surprising as those that hit the nail on the head.

      Professionally, understanding my type has been helpful for drawing a distinction between skill gaps and misalignment with my preferences. In my current role I have to spend a lot of time managing my colleagues to other people’s goals (our boss, the big boss, CEOs, etc.). On the one hand, I know I do have a skill gap in influencing others, but I also understand that I’m probably never going to enjoy winning others over, and especially not for something that I don’t necessarily agree with or believe in deeply. I could spend a lot of time building my skills in influencing others, but even if I eventually develop the skill, doing it is probably going to always drain my energy.

    26. Melissa*

      ENTJ. It’s decently accurate (I’m near the middle on I/E) but it has not shaped my career significantly, I don’t think…

  7. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    My mental health is completely shot lately. Tonight I just about had a panic attack in the middle of a restaurant while sitting with my husband, his sister and their grandparents having a hot chocolate.

    I’m going to be honest, I’m pretty over it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes panic attacks have a physical basis. I gave up artificial sweeteners and reduced my panic attacks by about 75%. YMMV, of course. The thing that finally blew the panic out of me was to make myself look up and look around. When the panic came, I always looked down, every time. Looking up and around was harder than hell. I was so surprised when I looked around NOTHING happened, except the panic subsided.

      1. nep*

        Glad you’ve found some relief there.
        Really interesting about the artificial sweeteners. I reckon those things are doing more damage than people realise. I stopped using them a few years back. Basically a bunch of chemicals our bodies don’t recognise and are not meant to process.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          I’ve always been suspicious of artificial sweeteners. We really don’t know what the long term effects will be. A few years ago some evidence came out that linked artificial sweeteners to autoimmune diseases like MS. That scared the heck out of me because my mom has MS and used to drink around four 2-liter bottles of diet caffeine-free Coke per week (in the past few years she’s kicked that habit which was a big relief).

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          I was diagnosed with Essential Tremor about 25 years ago. For totally unrelated reasons, I quit drinking sodas five years ago. I used to drink 6-12 Caffeine-Free Diet Cokes a day. Within a few weeks of quitting, the tremors stopped *entirely*.

          I’ve heard artificial sweeteners described as “neuro toxins”, and I have to say that’s pretty apt, considering the fact that they caused me to shake slightly for decades.

      2. steve g*

        +1….I’ve been on thyroid medicine for a month and yeah, I’m seeing that a good portion of my stress was physical. I’m going through a really stressful time with losing my job + having to move at the same time, but the stress feels different this time. It’s less of pressure building in my head and my face getting flush, and more of just a feeling that is a lot less physical. So I would agree that panic attacks can be from an undiagnosed medical issue

    2. Mister Pickle*

      I sometimes get these. My doctor gave me an Rx for Lorazepam, I’ll take one when if I feel an attack coming on. Frankly, I often find that just having a couple of the pills with me is enough to weather a mild bout of anxiety. Like, if I need them, I know I’ve got ’em.

  8. Fucshia*

    Furniture arranging question – if you are placing a sofa in front of the window, does it need to be centered? Both sofa and window are about 80 inches, if that helps. And the window is not centered along the wall. The sofa would be off center in the opposite direction.

    The sofa would have about 46″ of wall to the left and 30″ to the right. The window has 30″ of wall to the left and 46″ inches to the right.

    1. Sorcha*

      I think it depends on you. Asymmetry would annoy me every time I looked at it, I couldn’t live with that, but if you don’t find it a problem why worry?

    2. fposte*

      I just checked, and mine isn’t; I was more concerned about distance from the fireplace than symmetry with the window.

      I think once you put in tables, plants, lamps, etc. you create a whole new balance anyway.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      I think it depends on what else you’re going to put in the room, but my first instinct would be to center the sofa on the window and arrange around that. Second choice would be to put the sofa anywhere other than in front of the window because being off-center from the window would make me crazy.

    4. Treena Kravm*

      Without seeing the space, I would center the sofa on the window, and put a tall lamp/plant in the right corner to fill up the extra 16 inches of space.

  9. SoAnon*

    Moved back to the post-conflict country that I was born in (but not raised in) with my husband and baby. It was difficult to come. I worry about security all the time. Career-wise and lifestyle-wise (when it’s calm), this place is ideal. Today there were several attacks, with the first in the morning around the time my husband leaves for work. I jumped out of bed and thankfully he was still home. That, coupled with the terrible poverty makes me vacillate from guilt to gratitude multiple times throughout the day. I don’t really have a point to this post. Just kind of venting. I think I’ll change my name for this post too.

    1. steve g*

      Out of curiosity I have to ask, why did you move back if there is so much conflict? I’m irish Slovak and rushed to slovakia as soon as I could afford it in college because I thought the post communist advancement was so exciting to see…to see western stores, fashions, etc take hold so my rush back to the mother countries was more from a place of excitement than anything else….

      1. soanon*

        Well, most of my career is oriented towards working here. I’ve worked here, on and off, since 2003. I was in the U.S. for the last 2 years because of my husband’s studies (during this time, I had our son). And I do take safety precautions but I still worry. It’s different when we’re responsible for our son. Thank you everyone.

        1. soanon*

          If you asked me why I returned years ago, it would be to help fix the country. I’m not as idealistic as I once was but there is still a bit of that, I think.

  10. Gene*

    AAM WoW guild.

    I remembered I have a moribund high-level guild (Protect the Voonerables), with only one member (me). So, it’s on the US Madoran PVE server. My Battletag is SSpiffy2#1271. Start a toon there and message me; I’ll get on that toon (Hyacynthia) and invite you.

    I need suggestions for member level titles. Obviously, the guildmistress will be CEO (or maybe Alison?). :-)

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I don’t play WoW, but how about names revolving around a teapot theme? Like Chief Teapot Designer?

    2. Traveler*

      You’re tempting me to return and start playing again. I gave it up awhile ago, but the new expansion seems interesting enough. I could never find a decent guild which made it difficult to do any of the end game stuff.

    3. AcademicAnon*

      FYI guilds don’t have levels anymore, so the level doesn’t matter.

      For those totally clueless, WoW = World of Warcraft, a mmorpg or massively multiplayer online role playing game. It’s built on a D&D (dungeons & dragons) framework where you have damage dealers (dps), damage takers (tanks) and healers. A lot of the content (scenarios, dungeons, raids) focuses on having a group to do the content. WoW has set up a system (guilds) where people can share resources and communicate with each other.

      1. Bea W*

        Yay! I’m Hordie. I’ll roll a new toon over there. Not sure how much I’ll get to play. I will be busy leveling my raid main when the expansion hits.

        My guild is talking about moving their raid start time later than I can manage without succumbing to sleep deprivation. :( So it might end up I’ll have more time to casually mess around somewhere else. I don’t know they will and if I’ll be looking to raid with another guild or just being super casual for a bit.

    4. Sidra*

      I’m thinking about coming back to WoW for the new expansion! I’ve never been a serious player, but I’m all in if you don’t mind casuals like me ;)

      Sidenote: I have Heroes of the Storm (alpha) and it is amazing -anybody else loving it?

  11. CoffeeLover*

    What’s the most romantic thing you’ve done for someone, with someone or someone has done for you? For some reason Christmas makes me feel way more lovey-dovey than any other holiday (and yes my mind is already on Christmas). It doesn’t have to be super grand gestures, just something that meant a lot to you at the time :).

    My Story: I was on one of the Gilli Islands (close to Bali, Indonesia) with a couple of friends. My boyfriend was supposed to meet us that day, but he ended up missing the speed boat to the island from Bali. Instead of spending the day in Bali with some of our friends, he pays a stranger to arrange some kind of intricate voyage involving a 6hour ferry, a long ride on the back of a motorbike, and a perilous night-time sea crossing with a teenage boy at the helm. I cannot explain the relief I felt seeing him walking towards us because I seriously thought he was going to die. He gave me a pretty smooth line about how one night without me was a night too long (or something like that). Then we spent a magical few days holding hands, walking down a beach and all that other cliche, yet wonderful stuff.

    1. nep*

      Not really romantic in the sense you’re referring to, but your post reminds me of something I did years back.
      I won one of those contests at a radio station (‘be the third caller and win…’). It was around Valentine’s Day and the prize included a one-night stay at a posh hotel — luxury suite for two. Beautiful place. I was utterly single at the time but instead of just bagging it, I took a cab to that hotel and spent the evening myself — glass of wine, hot tub, just relaxing and enjoying the treat. It always cracks me up when I think of it.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      My husband’s birthday is next week. I’m taking the day off to not only make one of his favorite dinners (either spicy buffalo meatloaf or shepherds pie), but also to make him some “bacon roses.” I’d seen a picture floating around on Facebook, which I thought was funny, and then ran across instructions on how to make them on Pinterest.

    3. Better believe I'm anonymous for this*

      The most romantic thing I’ve ever done was let someone go, even though I loved her deeply. Her husband had cheated on her (and did it in an insulting manner, to boot) and they separated. She went through some tough times. She and I grew extremely close, although we never even kissed. I was ready to drop everything to be with her, but she still wanted to try to work things out with her husband. She eventually forgave him and moved far away to be with him. I may be fooling myself saying that I let her go, perhaps it was more that she had a choice and I accepted her decision as the one that would make her happiest, and the letting go is something I had to do inside of myself. I expect that her husband will cheat on her again, but I’m not waiting for that. She’s gone. But she is happy, and that’s what I want for her.

    4. the gold digger*

      The most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me was when my then-boyfriend, now-husband, flew almost 1,000 miles – even though I had told him I wanted to take a dating break – to repair my washer and dryer. I love a man who can fix things. And I really loved that he was willing to do this despite my telling him I didn’t want to see him for a while – I needed to figure out my life.

    5. Treena Kravm*

      My first Christmas gift to my now-husband was an excel sheet of all the things I loved about him. (He’s a computer nerd, the excel sheet was purposeful!) Some time later, my husband gave me a deck of cards, each one had something he loved about me. Still our favorite gifts, even 5 years later.

      1. Cherry Scary*

        The BF and I’s 2 year anniversary is coming up. He loves decks of cards, so thanks for the idea!

    6. salad fingers*

      Really fighting the urge to make a spoiler-filled Gone Girl joke here. The most romantic thing I’ve ever done for someone started with a treasure hunt…

      Back here in reality, I can’t isolate anything big. I like to think the bf and I are really romantic in the very mundane, look, I got you this pizza because you had a bad day and asked them to put the giardianara on it in the shape of a frowny face to make you laugh way. And also in the hey, you mentioned this old dutch jar scraping tool that your dutch parents had when you were a kid that you can’t find anywhere, so I scoured the earth for it kind of way. Just thoughtful and attentive, nothing big but always very personal.

      1. Ada Lovelace*

        My boyfriend did this for our first Christmas together. I have a limited edition build-a-bear Cookie Monster that I loved to death. Seriously, he’s gone with me on competition trips, on vacation and I have no qualms about keeping him still on my bed. His voice box wore out and I was told they weren’t making them. We had only been dating six months and BF had spent four of them tracking down a new voice box for Cookie. I cried, so hard, couldn’t even open the gift itself.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know if this counts or not, but I just found out tonight that an ex broke up with me because he knew his own limitations would have destroyed us if we stayed together. I knew he had loved me, but I had no idea that was the real reason.

      He is now married to someone who doesn’t threaten those limitations, and I’m still alone. So I don’t know how much of a favor he did me. :(

    8. Shell*

      An ex actually went out to another city and picked up his old N64, discovered it didn’t work, and then went out to a used game shop to buy me a new used N64, controllers, and a Zelda game. All out of the blue. All because I was complaining to him that someone (possibly my brother) had lost my entire N64 system a few months prior.

      The same ex asked his roommate, who was going to Comic-Con, to buy me a limited edition Zergling/Baneling plushie (official, licensed, and sold only at Comic-Con)–for those of you who don’t remember, I’m a huge StarCraft fan. So is he. But he could only get his friend to get one plushie, and he gave it to me. :)

  12. LikeOhMyGod*

    It’s my birthday today!!! I’m 21. Is it anyone else’s birthday? I just got a new eyeglass prescription yesterday, and I thought I’d treat myself with a few pairs of cheap glasses online. Has anyone done that? Anyone have any recommendations? I was going to go with Zenni Optical, but only because I don’t know any others.

    1. Liz in a Library*

      I’ve done Zenni before, and was happy with my order. The frames are generally not the highest quality, but they are good for the cost (mine have held up about a year so far).

      1. Minnie*

        Happy Birthday!
        It’s my daughter’s first birthday today. I’m so excited. We had a party for her on Saturday and today (it’s 2am monday in Australia ) she will open presents from family.

    2. BRR*

      I’ve done through an online store through my insurer and it worked out well. I feel like I have a good sense for online shopping in terms of figuring out what looks good on me. You can also try warby parker.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Try Warby Parker. All their glasses are $100. It’s blown up recently in NYC and you can order online. They’re cheap enough that you can buy a few pairs and change them like fashion accessories. My sister-in-law just bought some for fun (she doesn’t have a Rx).

    4. Emily*

      I don’t know anything about buying glasses (either my vision is good, or I just haven’t been checked recently enough to realize I need them), but happy birthday! :)

    5. Lyrenna*

      It’s my 25th birthday today! Happy Birthday to you, too! And, oddly, my glasses from Zenni broke this morning (~$13, purchased 14 months ago) and I bought another pair from them since my prescription was saved from last time.

      1. LikeOhMyGod*

        Ha! Four. Happy birthday! Yeah I just ordered a 6.95 pair a few hours ago, they’re men’s aviators and they’re so ugly that they edge back over into stylish. I think 14 months is pretty good for the price of Zenni’s frames and lenses, even if they were so rude as to break on our birthday. Not cool.

    6. Cherry Scary*

      BF has a pair from Zenni, they look good, but the coating (they’re black plastic frames) is starting to chip off around his ears.

  13. Billy*

    My mother and I are interested in making our very first monkey bread. She and I have never tasted nor found a recipe for it. Who here has tried and made it before? What is your experience with it?

    1. SerenaLuna*

      If you’re referring to the monkey bread where you use canned biscuit dough, I have lots of experience. It’s pretty simple to make and the only ‘hard’ parts is cutting the dough and rolling it in cinnamon sugar. Oh, also the flipping the bundt pan upside down is a bit tricky.

    2. Colette*

      There are different mind. I make one with bread dough dipped in butter. (I don’t roll it, just dip it and turn if over so the butter drips down).

    3. NJ anon*

      I use frozen rolls instead of the refrigerated type. Put them in a bundt pan sprayed with Pam. Sprinkle butterscotch pudding mix over the rolls. Separately, cook margerine, sugar and cinnamon 6-7 minutes then pour over rolls. Sprinkle in walnuts and raisins. Cover and refrigerate over night. Next morning bake on 350 for 30 minutes. It’s awesome! M-i-l’s recipe. She says you must use margerine not butter for some reason.

    4. Celeste*

      The Pillsbury site has a recipe for the standard butter, sugar, cinnamon ones for a sweet treat. But they also have a savory recipe for dinner which uses butter, garlic, and Parmesan. It’s yummy too!

    5. Liane*

      My teenage daughter got our recipe out of1 of the Hannah Swenson (by Joanne Fluke) mysteries. It seems to be pretty standard except for the addition or chocolate chips & nuts. Which are wonderful–but we omit nuts if we’re taking it to a church, school, etc. function where we have no way of knowing if someone has a nut allergy.
      One tip–if you are doing the refrigerated biscuit variation, buy an extra can or 2. Unless your bundt pan is pretty small, you will need more.

    6. Persephone Mulberry*

      Follow the recipe on the Pillsbury can/website and you can’t go wrong.

      Also, a pizza cutter works great for cutting the biscuits into quarters – just don’t go too fast or the pieces will fly all over the kitchen.

    7. Anonyby*

      My family loved it when my grandmother made monkey bread! She used the Pillsbury recipe with the chopped nuts, but without the raisins. It was so good.

    8. Graythan*

      If you’ve never or rarely made bread before, the other suggestions are fine and you’ll do well with them. There are also some mixes out there for simple monkey breads. If you have made bread, but just not monkey bread, it is pretty easy to modify a recipe.
      The concept for monkey bread is a bread that can be pulled apart really easily. You do that by starting with a fairly standard dough, then separating it into small pieces of roughly the same size. Roll those into balls of 1 to 2 inches. You then roll the dough balls into your seasoning. If you want a sweet monkey bread, a common combo is to do first melted butter/margarine and then cinnamon and sugar. If you want a savory monkey bread, you can use either butter/margarine/oil and then something like garlic and crushed herbs. I’ve done both and they always disappear quickly.

  14. AnonIsDepressed*

    I’m not doing so well mental health wise but can’t afford any therapy or right now. Does anyone have any self help strategies I can look at? I am depressed and have anxiety? I care deeply what people think about me, I play mistakes and regrets over and over in my head, I feel worthless and like I am not worthy of happiness or love and I’m always worried about every little thing in life. What can I do?

      1. Hlyssande*

        I’m not this anon, but I’ve been looking for those exact links for some time now, as I am struggling with the same thing.


    1. LizH*

      If you are employed, check into your employee assistance program. Or call your closest health department to see what resources they have. Also, many churches offer counseling. I can relate to much of what you said, struggled with that most of my life. I am now at a point where I don ‘t necessarily care what people think. I try to live my life so that I am honest, and treat others with respect. I have a low BS tolerance meter, and if people don’t like that, it is their problem, not mine. I, too am a worrier, but I have learned that most times, the things I worry about don’t happen, and if they do, I deal with it then. Another suggestion might be to get more people around you. Sounds like you are lonely. Could you maybe volunteer somewhere? Like at an animal shelter? Animals need love, and you won’t have to worry about what they think of you. FWIW, I met the love of my life at 47. Looking back, it was well worth the wait. I too had struggled with feelings of being unlovable, and unloved, for a long time. Good luck to you, please check back in.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe there is a church in your area that can hook you up with free or almost free counseling. If you call a church and they say no, ask them if they know of other churches that might have some advice of where to go.

      It sounds like you have a tired mind- you’re exhausting yourself with these thoughts. Sometimes people feel this way and they do not care if they eat or what they eat. If this describes you, then work on eating fruits and veggies- raw is good. If you don’t care what you eat, just turn it into a mechanical process of “I have to eat something so I am going to have these carrots/apple/banana/whatever.” If you do have undetected allergies that are adding to your concerns the whole foods will help to ease that.

      Make sure you are drinking plenty of water.
      And keep looking for someone you can talk things over with. Don’t stop looking. You owe it to yourself.

    3. nep*

      Sorry you’re going through this.
      Agree a good idea to check at work or local institutions to see whether any opportunities for counseling. Also the suggestion to drink lots of water.
      You deserve to find a way to realise that all this negativity and chatter does not merit your precious time and energy. There will be a moment when you don’t spend time worrying so about what people think, or worrying about a mistake, and you’ll see that the world does not come crashing to a halt.
      You can liberate yourself from this.
      What are you eating and what’s your physical activity level? Do you go for walks or do you do yoga or any kind of stretching?

      1. B.*


        And your physical health.

        I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder that is probably actually PTSD (tl;dr). It sucks! But taking care of my physical health, basic things like sleeping and eating well, makes a massive difference.

        1. nep*

          So glad you noted this. I get the sense that most people (not talking about OP here — just in general) hugely underestimate the importance of adequate sleep and healthy eating. And have no idea how damned good one can feel when taking these steps.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Lack of sleep, healthy foods and water, will mess a person up so badly it’s incredible. Not saying, outside help is unnecessary- no, no. But these are things we can work on at our own pace to try to help ourselves.

    4. FD*

      In a lot of communities, there are nonprofits that offer free or highly reduced cost therapy and (if appropriate) medication. That might be a viable option if there’s one in your community.

      Working with animals and exercise are two things that can help ease things somewhat, in my experience. However, if your depression saps your energy levels, I know that can be very hard to bring off.

      I know there’s not much we can say that will outweigh the ‘noise’ in your head, but I’m sorry you’re going through this and wish you the best of luck.

    5. fposte*

      There’s a Captain Awkward post that outlines ways to find low-cost therapy, and there’s an online site called MoodGYM that provides you with some basic cognitive self-help. I’ll post the links separately but mention them here in case your Google-fu is faster than Alison’s moderation.

    6. JMW*

      Some simple strategies for getting through:
      – volunteer (giving back makes us feel better about ourselves)
      – learn something new (this is about empowerment)
      – exercise (endorphins, fresh air, shifting your focus to your body instead of your head for a while)
      – start a gratitude journal (ala Sarah Ban Breathnach; appreciating the good things in your life helps keep the hard parts in perspective)

      As horrid as depressive phases in life can feel, they are the the times that we are growing. Without them, most of us would never learn the hard lessons about ourselves which develop over time into personal wisdom. When you find yourself running negative tapes (I’m not worthy of happiness, that mistake I made is unforgivable…) , imagine what you would say to a friend who was playing those negatives tapes (Everyone deserves happiness, That mistake was tiny and no one will even remember it in a week…). Then replace your negative tape with these encouraging words.

      Good luck!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Amen. Especially to the last paragraph. For all the crap I have faced in life, I do believe I am a more well-rounded, more thoughtful person for having had the experiences. Some days I actually like me! ha! I think you know what I mean, living a life that is in alignment with what you believe and KNOWING what it is you believe. It seems sometimes we have to go through the storm before we find the calm.

        OP, I don’t say this in a way to minimize your concerns, but I mean it in a context of hope: Nothing stays the same forever. Nothing. I know, it seems like forever, though. It will get better. Go ahead, try one thing. See how it goes. Then try another thing and see how that goes.

    7. Be the Change*

      You might consider meditation. In my opinion, the Buddhist Theravada tradition is the best grounded in a long history and an understanding of human nature. It’s not “woo-woo” at all. It’s hard, I admit, but the practice helps calm that ticker-tape of worry, fret, regret, and fear. It should be free. You should never have to pay for meditation training in the Buddhist tradition. Do find someone reputable, and if your sense that you’re being “had” goes off, look elsewhere.

    8. Deb*

      I’m bi-polar — mostly depressive. I know I’ve been this way all my life but I got my first psych drug almost 20 years ago (I’m old 60). What a difference. I still had problems but the worry part really toned down. I would second guess and second, third, fourth, fifth,… think about circumstances where I thought I had not done the proper thing. I haven’t done that for several years. My first drug was Zoloft and it worked pretty well for a number of years. Then my youngest sister, who was bipolar too, committed suicide. That scared me very badly, so I made a very concerted effort to get myself some help then. I was also haunted almost continually with suicidal thoughts, many years later I was put on a drug that helped me with this it’s called Abilify. That drug took effect almost right away for me. There may be people who poopoo drugs, but I’ll tell you they have really helped me along the way. I do talk therapy too — but I haven’t for about a year — first because of no health insurance and now because I’d rather have another therapist. But, this is going to be a lifelong struggle for me. My Dad was bi-polar, my youngest sister was bi-polar, my next sister was schizophrenic as is my brother. My family got hit pretty hard with this stuff. I’ll quit here, but don’t be afraid to get help. In my community here, there are a number of mental health clinics. They all will serve poor people. Even when I didn’t have insurance my clinic helped me get my psych drugs with no cost to me and I always was able to get an appointment with my psychiatrist. They don’t advertise all this free stuff, but it may very well be that you can get help at your local clinic. I wish you the best!

  15. Sharon*

    Just got back from seeing Foster the People! I wasn’t planning on going at all, but a friend got me free tickets through her work (FM radio) and I couldn’t pass up the chance when I loved their first album so much. What’s your favorite concert experience?

    1. Neruda*

      I loved their first album too! I only just realised they had a second. Definitely been living under a rock.

    2. MaLea*

      I’ve seen Foster the People too. They’re good people! :) My favourite concert would have to be…every Rachael Yamagata concert I’ve been to (five). She is amazing!

    3. kas*

      I love concerts!

      I have two favourite concert experiences: 1) When I went to Drake’s annual OVO fest in Toronto last year and saw artists/groups like TLC, Diddy and Mase perform. 2) I saw Bruno Mars this summer and he was amazingggg

    4. Mister Pickle*

      I’ve been to a lot of concerts; most of them weren’t very good, alas. When I was young, I got dragged to a lot of all-day stadium things that invariably featured Ted Nugent and REO Speedwagon. I don’t remember them well and I’m pretty happy about it.

      Good concerts, though? Hmmm …

      – I saw Rush back in 1975 at an outdoor venue and they were very good, although the music they played back then was a lot different than the music they’re known for now. Weird fact: they opened for the Charlie Daniels Band.

      – I’ve seen Frank Zappa live 3 times. He always had amazing musicians in his band, and it is difficult to describe, but the music was always tight yet there always seemed to be some kind of improvisation going on. Also, FZ was funny as hell.

      – I saw The Police during their first tour and U2 during their October tour – that’s their 2nd album. Both shows were good, and the character of each band was very different back then.

      – The first concert I ever saw was Arlo Guthrie at the Mississippi River Festival. He played an extremely long version of “Alice’s Restaurant”. Like, 3 times as long as the long version on the record.

      – Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, and the Jim Rose Circus. NIN and MM were terrible – just really, really embarrassingly bad. But the Jim Rose Circus was amazingly fun.

      – The last concert I saw was Amon Tobin’s ISAM tour, and it was something of a mixed bag. I like the music a lot, but by its nature it was much like listening to the CD but really loud. The cool part was the projection-mapped light show that went with the music.

      – Van Halen, once with David Lee Roth, once with Sammy Hagar. Both shows were extremely good. David Lee Roth has ‘stage presence’ like I have never seen. Like, he might be an alien with psychic powers or something.

      – Other notable concerts were the G3 tour (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, and Eric Johnson) which was attended by every guitarist within a 50 mile radius; and Pantera, which shut down every “Gentleman’s Club” and titty-bar in town, because for some reason, strippers and sex-workers love Pantera.

    5. Liz in a Library*

      I love concerts! I used to go to a ridiculous number each year, but have slowed way down. I did see Jack White a couple of months back, and he puts on a great show! I went in not knowing much of his music, but had a fantastic time.

      Other great shows…Ben Harper always puts on a solid show (and I love seeing him live!); saw U2 with Muse several years ago and it was fantastically theatrical; don’t laugh, but I’ve seen Duran Duran a bagillion times, and they are clearly very invested in giving their fans a fun experience. I am still kicking myself for having passed up Bowie tickets during the pre-Earthling tour.

      Weirdest combo of acts touring together that I’ve seen was Cake, the Gin Blossoms, and Night Ranger. It was when I was in grad school (or maybe just after), and it was a big outdoor event on Halloween, so it was a lot of fun, if sort of disconnected feeling.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        Oh, I like Muse! I saw them with Silversun Pickups and it was a good – although not awesome – show. At one point Muse played a few bars of Ennio Morricone’s “Man with the Harmonica” and it was great (I later found out they have a habit of doing this, but it was still great – at the time I felt like I was probably the only person in the place who recognized it). I’ve never really figured out the deal with Muse – they’re like The Greatest Band That No-One Has Heard Of or something.

        I’d love to see Duran Duran sometime. I totally believe they’d put on a good show.

        1. TL -*

          Muse is fantastic – I saw them at ACL one year and I just sat there thinking, “oh man, I should be high for this” (and I don’t even do drugs!)

          Kimbra is awesome to watch (if she ever comes back to the US) and I just saw Capital Cities – amazingly fun show!

    6. QualityControlFreak*

      Hmm, Buddy Rich and Count Basie (in local HS gyms!), Jazz All Stars (opened by Pat Metheny), an incredible show by Andreas Segovia, and a Bach organ concert we took in sitting on the steps in the huge open hall of a cathedral.

    7. Tara*

      Oh, it’s a toss-up between Rise Against and Billy Talent. Billy Talent was my first time in the pit (maybe not the smartest decision for a 5’4″ 17-year-old girl but I digress) and it was fantastic, but I love Rise Against and they put on an amazing show.

    8. Diane*

      Glen Hansard touring with the Swell Season was by far the best concert I’ve seen. I love the stories interwoven with songs, not to mention the Irish lilt.

    9. Cath in Canada*

      Way back in 1999 or 2000, my friend and I had failed to get tickets for any of U2’s British shows. So we did the logical thing and booked a bus tour to Paris. We lived in Scotland at the time and it was a loooooooong drive (about 20 hours I think). The concert was great even though we were quite far up and behind the band, we had a day in Paris, did the 20 hours drive back to Glasgow with no sleep, only to learn that they’d JUST announced a Glasgow show! Rather than go to bed like sensible people, we went straight back out to queue for tickets for another few hours. The Glasgow show was even better – we were right up front and got completely squashed, but it was worth it.

      Other stand-out gigs include Muse, White Stripes, Coldplay at the Gorge amphitheatre in Washington State (overlooking the river, at sunset), Franz Ferdinand in the pouring rain in Stanley Park, Gomez (multiple times), K’naan (ditto), Gary Clark Jr, Delhi 2 Dublin, Alabama 3, and others I’m probably forgetting. I used to go to a lot of gigs and festivals – fewer now, but I have plenty of friends who are still interested!

    10. Hlyssande*

      I haven’t been to a ton of concerts, honestly.

      In the last year, I’ve seen the FLOBOTS (highly recommended). Wheelchair Sports Camp opened for them and they’re also quite a bit of fun.

      I also saw the Sting & Paul Simon concert tour here (tickets through work), but the Sting part of it was mostly ruined because something went totally wrong with his sound system and he stalked off furiously. Really disappointing.

      And then! Imagine Dragons! Again, I won those tickets through work. The show was fantastic! They did a glorious cover of Tom Sawyer in addition to everything else. For On Top of the World, Dan Reynolds did a circuit of the arena floor. Radioactive was quite possibly the best thing I’d ever heard – so different than the recorded version! Not to mention the gigantic drums.

      My very first concert ever was seeing New Kids on the Block in 4th grade. A year or two later, I saw Whitney Houston in the same venue. I was still really young, but I’m grateful that I was able to see her in person. Her music was very inspiring to me growing up.

  16. Trapped*

    I’m stuck in my small, much loathed home town living with my parents to try and save money and am caught in the horrible cycle…..I need a job to save money to get OUT, but I can’t get a job to get OUT, so I’m stuck here. I’m so miserable and I have no idea what I can do. Can’t even make friends here. I’m 24 and everyone my age already has babies and no personality or interests outside their kids.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Kids are a 24/7 commitment- so go easy on your lost friends. They will come back around in a bit and you don’t want to burn that bridge.

      It seems to me you have a vicious circle here and you need to break in the circle some where.
      Start looking at the reasons you cannot get a job. How’s that resume looking? Have you gotten Alison’s book?
      Find something to volunteer for. Ideally, it would have some type of tie-in to a field you want to work in.
      You may not be making friends but surely you have acquaintances. I have found that sometimes acquaintances are more helpful than friends. Think about those you know around you. If they are doing something interesting is there a way you can volunteer to help them? Or maybe someone would be a great source for tips.
      Lastly, sometimes the best way to help ourselves is to find someone who needs our help. Look around and see if you can help someone around you with their own hurdle.

    2. Jean*

      If there are craft consignment stores in your town and you enjoy making things with your hands, how about finding a product to sell? You could explain to people that you’re currently seeking employment in X and doing this on the side. In a way, it would be networking.

      If handiwork isn’t your thing, I second the suggestion from NSNR below: “Find something to volunteer for.” Your town probably has at least one or two organizations interested in helping others. Or maybe there’s a small patch of ground (outside city hall? the library? a church?) that could be improved by your planting a few daffodil bulbs now, and some additional plants (started from seeds, which are inexpensive, in late winter).

      Reach out to people beyond your own age bracket if your contemporaries are all married with kids. And sometimes, when you’re by yourself, remind yourself that some of them may look on you enviously on days when they feel overwhelmed by toddlers and babies and laundry. Small kids are adorable and also exhausting.

      1. Liane*

        “Reach out to people beyond your own age bracket…”
        This! So many people seem to feel that your friends have to be within a few years of your age. (Maybe it’s from all those years in school & college where we spend so much time with our own age group?)
        For years Husband & I have noticed that many (not all) of our friends tend to be either 10 years older or 10-15 years younger than we are. And it is great.
        And don’t dismiss someone as a possible friend because they don’t seem to have anything in common –like they are wrapped up in babies. I met a woman through Husband, while we were dating. I thought she was wrapped up in the toddler, we had nothing in common, unless you count that my (then) BF was friends with her sister’s BF. Guess what? We had a few things in common, then over time we realized we had a lot in common & she became my best friend–the kind where you not only have great times but support each other through the worst.
        But yes, I know right now it just feels like you’re going to friendless, jobless, stuck someplace you don’t like forever. And feeling just 1 of those takes so much out of you it is hard to get up & take any of these suggestions. But we’re pulling for you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Good life advice here. I believe that we should keep at least one person in our lives that is about ten years older than us. WHY. Life experience. They go through the learning curve just ahead of us and they know where all the pitfalls are. It’s old enough to have a little more experience BUT young enough where it does not feel like the age gap is too big.

          So it does not matter if you are 20 or if you are 60. Find someone to befriend who is about ten years old and keep their friendship. It’s a very enriching experience.

    3. steve g*

      Mmm….i kind of sympathize, I am from the western part of the hamptons…sounds nice, but so many people make only 30k-40k well into their 30s because there aren’t enough real jobs….and that afford you living at home or with a roommate here, so is not a good salary at all. so when I needed to escape to get to nyc to make real money we cashed out the few bonds I got for my baptism, and I did have a tiny amount of cash from working in a deli, my parents added on a few hundred…but a lot of stuff was on credit cards. I racked up a few thousand but was able to pay it off beginning in year two and three of being in nyc because I got good raises (or you could job hop). I know many people r anti-credit card, but it worked out at least for me, using one as a gamble/investment in my future worked. Earning potential in big cities in just higher (if that’s where you want to go). I never would have saved a couple of thousand dollars working in a deli, but paying it off two hundred dollars per month on a ny salary wasn’t a huge burden.

    4. BB*

      Have you considered joining a meetup to meet others with the same interests? You can also look into taking a course for your professional development at a community college or even just a fun course to learn something you’ve always wanted to learn. Both are great for networking.

    5. LoFlo*

      Can you earn extra cash babysitting, pet sitting, cleaning houses, yard work, snow shoveling? You can do this kind of work on the side while working a full time job. I made pretty good money waiting tables in my younger days.

      Also, watch your spending. It isn’t always how much you make, but how you spend it. It is easy to nickle and dime your self poor buying a cool video game or new hand bag.

  17. Sarah*

    Does anyone have advice on how to get yourself out of bed on a weekend? It feels like i’m wasting my life in bed! I’ve always struggled in the morning and have one of those sunrise alarms which helps on workdays but my weekend morning brain Ignores it. I thought i’d have grown out of this by now – i’m in my late thirties. Has anyone overcome this?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Well, my dogs don’t let me sleep, that’s for sure. If you got dogs , there would be none of that.

      Do you *have* to do anything? I think weekend productivity is overrated, unless it makes you feel good.

      I get myself going (past what I have to do for the dogs) by having things I want to do. I like to grocery shop, but only if I do it somewhere around 8:30, before the crowds start. I’m looking forward to doing that in a few minutes. In order to do THAT, I have to clear my refrigerator because I like to start new groceries in a fridge/cabinet that is cleared out of anything old.

      Then I also like to do a little cooking most weekends so one thing and another that propels my day, just by doing things I want to do.

      1. Rebecca*

        Yes, dogs – they are nature’s alarm clock. My lab somehow knows what time it is, and is more likely than not to spring up at weekday go-to-work wake up time on Saturday and Sunday. If I am still really tired, I put him out, and when he’s done, I go back to bed for a bit.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I was just going to say, get a dog. :) But besides that, what’s wrong with staying in bed or in the house? That’s what weekends are for. But if you need to start getting going, make early brunch plans. Or make a commitment to walk or run for an hour every morning– this is pre-shower activity, so you don’t have to get up and “get ready”, you just have to throw on some workout clothes and go. You can also try signing up for a class that would get you up and out, but aim for one that doesn’t start too early.

      3. NaCSaCJack*

        Oh contraire my dogs will let me sleep in half the morning. The border collie/lab mix acquired the lab personality, “If I got my cush, I’m good!” and the yellow lab/golden retriever has the patience of a saint and an iron bladder.

        My recommendation? Wake up earlier than normal. I find if I wake up at 5am on the weekends, I get so much done by 8am its amazing. Saturday morning TV is so boring.

    2. nep*

      Don’t underestimate the power of getting some good rest on the days your schedule allows. You probably get up early on the weekdays and work hard — there is something to be said for allowing yourself to just chill and rest.
      That said, if the staying in bed longer means you’re not tending to tasks you wanted to take care of on the weekend, perhaps make a special treat part of getting up earlier — a certain something for breakfast, some exercise or stretching that you makes you feel good. Having something to look forward to like that could help motivate you. Then once you’re up, you’ve gotten past the toughest part and you’re on with the day.

    3. Trixie*

      Saturdays I would hit the Farmer’s Market, or thrift store as soon as it opened before it was crowded. Often not buying anything but looking. And if I did buy, the really inexpensive stuff like books. Then a bagel on the way home to Food Network. Sundays I would tackle laundry first thing at the laundromat, and maybe vacuuming the car or grocery shopping. Exercise, yoga, stretching, etc also great options. Food prep for the week. Mostly, I find its just a matter of habit and consistency.

    4. fposte*

      You could just bypass the psychology and drink a lot of liquid before bed. You may just go back to bed after going to the bathroom, but it’ll get you up.

    5. kas*

      I love wasting my life in bed on weekends! After a long work week, I look forward to doing absolutely nothing. Maybe you need a routine or a list of all the things you wish to accomplish that weekend? If I don’t feel like being lazy, I’ll plan ahead and list the things I’d like to do such as clean, run a few errands, shop etc and 9 times out of 10 I’m up early and ready to go.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      Some people are just not morning people, and it sounds like you’re one of them. Do you generally prefer working late into the night rather than getting up early to do things? Maybe you could get done some of your weekend tasks in the evening, so you could sleep in a bit guilt free. You could also try making fun plans (coffee or brunch with a friend) early-ish in the day, so you’ll be excited to get up.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I felt the same way, too. I hated how I wasted weekends. Finally what I hit on was getting up at the same time every day. This set off a chain of dominoes. In order to get up at the same time everyday, I had to go to bed in a timely manner. Then I started thinking about meals. I wanted to have meals at the roughly the same time each day, so that I could rest comfortably at night.

      I did this for a bit. Then one day I noticed I was no longer forcing myself. I was just doing it. Very seldom do I actually need to set my alarm clock, anymore. I still do because, hey, you never know. My big luxury now is taking afternoon naps on the weekends. I do grocery shopping or whatever prep I need for the up-coming week. Then I get to have a nap. What used to be a nagging sense of life going by me, is now a luxury feeling that comforts me.
      I think about sleeping the day away on the weekends and I never want to go back to that.

    8. TL -*

      Heh. I’m not a morning person at all, so I just laze in bed or sleep until I’m good and ready to get up – but then I’m super productive for the rest of the day.
      Today, for instance, I went grocery shopping, made lunch and part of dinner for the rest of the week, cleaned (really cleaned!) house, did laundry, had brunch/social time with a friend and her husband – and I didn’t get out of bed until 11:00 a.m. Now I’m chilling for a bit, and then I’ll be super productive with schoolwork for the rest of the night.

      It’s not a big deal as long as you still get done what you want to get done.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I can only skate on weekends, so I have to get up to go to the rink. I try not to sleep much past my normal weekday waking time (6:00), but I’ve gotten up at 9:00 when I was really super tired. My biggest problem is camping out on the couch. I can sit there for HOURS not doing anything.

  18. MaLea*

    Has anyone else seen Olive Kitteridge? I just binge-watched all four episodes in one and a half days. Frances McDormand is superb!

      1. MaLea*

        Yes! Just been made into a mini-series on HBO. Watch it! It’s amazing! I just bought the book. :)

    1. Celeste*

      I loved it!!!! I watched it straight through and can’t stop thinking about how good it was. I wish there were more stories of that caliber on tv.

      1. MaLea*

        What about Transparent? Seen that? Also very high quality. I never knew Jeffry Tambor was such a good actor.

  19. AvonLady Barksdale*

    We had the CRAZIEST week, and it was amazing. For starters, I voted on Tuesday (my people didn’t win, but I felt great about voting in a contentious state for the first time ever), then I got the job I wanted, then I did a massive grocery shop (including farmer’s market) on Wednesday, and my lawn guy cleared out all our leaves on Thursday (it’s the little things, people). But what made the week amazing was the doggies.

    The rescue from which we adopted our buddy takes dogs from kill shelters in rural areas and transports them to NYC for fostering and adoption. They were coming through our area and I reached out and offered our place as a pit stop. Heard nothing. Then on Wednesday evening the director called and asked if they could stay with us on Thursday, pups and all, to break up the trip. Of course, I said! I spent Thursday cleaning and getting ready (I work from home and my boss is on vacation, so things are slow), and I even baked a giant loaf of bread. The rescue peeps rolled in at 7:30 in the POURING rain. The doggies got to run around and pee in our big backyard, and a couple got to come into the house (the rest stayed in the big rescue van in their crates). I fed everyone (the humans) and my boyfriend made cocktails and I pulled out a homemade dessert, and it was so nice to spend time with these women and give them a chance to relax. The two doggies who stayed in our house were so good and sweet– one of them had spent her whole life in an outdoor kennel, so she found a soft spot on the carpet in our house and basically refused to move. When she wanted to come near you, she would belly crawl and her sweet little tail would wag… Those two and my dog played outside for a while, then everyone had a very good night’s sleep. The next morning, the rescue women let the dogs out again, and my dog got to join in the fun, and there was so much awesome playing and exploring. My house was a mess afterwards– a lot of mud got tracked in– but a couple of loads of laundry and some steam-mopping and all was right again. To top it off, more than half of those doggies got adopted yesterday in NYC.

    So I feel really good. I got to give back to the rescue that gave us so much and I worked through my hostessing anxiety– this is the first time I’ve lived in a place where hosting doesn’t involve people in every inch of my space. (Two bathrooms is a BLESSING.) I was exhausted on Friday, but it was a great week.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      SO cool!

      But you knew I’d say that.

      So cool.

      It’s a miracle you didn’t end up with more dogs after that.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Dude, FOR REAL. When I found out my lumpy carpet girl wasn’t adopted yesterday, I almost got in the car to go get her. But we have a clause in the lease that only allows for our current buddy, and I start a new job next month that will require at least a week of travel right up front. Not good timing for a new pupper, especially one who’s a bit skittish.

        But I will follow her closely. She needs to lose a whole lot of weight which might turn people off. If she’s still not adopted in a few months, my buddy is going to have a sister.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*


          Even though I plan on never retiring, the one thing that gets me is to think about retiring to do rescue. I could be a pretty happy old lady home cooking big batches of dog food and clucking over dogs in need all day.

          It’s the skittish-overweight-older ones that I’m the right match for.

          I was half trying to talk my husband into driving rescues but he says absolutely not that he’d end up just driving them all to our house and we’d be in trouble.

    2. Colleen*

      My family and I used to do dachshund rescue. One Christmas, we had 5 doxies running around our house with family and friends here to celebrate. And our house is only about 900 square feet. We stopped after having over 50 dogs come through our house because we needed to focus on other things for a while, but it was so great to take dogs that were not socialized and were scared and had never felt love and give them a place to learn about how wonderful life could be. I am glad you had this experience.

  20. Food Issues*

    OK, so I’m traveling to China to give a presentation to a group of academics in Shanghai, then taking a lovely vacation to see Xi’an and Beijing. I’m am looking forward to the trip, but freaking out about what I’m going to eat. I have so many food “issues” mostly related to being a picky eater (supertaster, but also neurotic). For the time I’m on vacation, I figure I’ll get by. But when I’m at the conference there are three evening banquets and two lunches. How do I not offend my gracious hosts? The organizer has asked me for any restrictions, but they are of the “are you vegetarian?” or “do you avoid MSG?” variety.

    Here are my actual issues. I like very few foods, and the ones I do like have to be prepared a certain way, e.g., chicken? Yes, please, but white meat only and without bones or skin. This is true for American food too, not just Chinese. And I know what I’d order in an American Chinese restaurant (something like fried rice without any veggies and white meat chicken only) but China Chinese food is going to be a whole other beast.

    Any advice on what I should eat? And, what should I tell my conference host?

    1. matcha123*

      I was in your shoes before I moved to Japan and when I visited Korea for the first time. There were a LOT of foods I didn’t eat or that just made me gag.
      Here in Japan, too, food restrictions are usually related to allergies, religious restrictions or ones related to being vegetarian. Japanese people don’t really get the concept of not eating certain foods because you don’t like them, they just eat them. I will assume China is the same.

      Honestly, you can just say there are a lot of foods you don’t eat for various reasons. I doubt that they will try to serve you something outrageous. Be prepared for questions like: “Do you have an allergy?”, etc.
      If you can try a bit, that can ease things. Or, you can say that you typically don’t eat much/you’re not feeling well/etc.

      Usually, the veggies in Chinese food are quite large, and if you don’t like them, you can move them to the side. Honestly, one thing that has surprised me about living here in Japan and being able to eat Japanese/Chinese/Korean food is that the way vegetables are prepared here are a LOT tastier than what I ever had in the US. has a list of a lot of Chinese dishes.
      The ones I’d recommend are:
      – zhajiangmian (if you search jjajangmyun, the Korean name of the dish, you’ll find a lot of pictures)
      – char siu (a thick slice of pork covered in sauce. sometimes it’s wrapped in a thick, white bun. no veg.)
      – 1000 year old egg (the name sounds scary, and I’ve only had it in Japan, but it tasted pretty nice. The color might shock you, though)
      – jiaozi (known as gyoza in Japanese. The veg is basically a paste mixed with pork.)

      There are more dishes on the wikipedia site I listed, and you can google images and ingredient lists of foods that interest you to prepare.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The suggestions you list are really good ones, but I urge caution with recommending specific foods– the ones you mentioned are more often dim sum and won’t always be served at more formal lunches and dinners.

      2. fposte*

        I’m intrigued by the notion that “Japanese people don’t really get the concept of not eating certain foods because you don’t like them, they just eat them.” It hadn’t occurred to me that taste reluctance wouldn’t be universal, but now that you mention it it makes sense–it it rather a luxury, after all. But how interesting, and I wonder what the most and least picky countries are?

        1. matcha123*

          I think that for Japan, it’s rooted in “mottainai,” which means “what a waste.”
          When I would give presentations at elementary schools as a CIR on JET, I’d often have to eat lunch with the kids. Everyone gets the same thing and everyone is expected to eat everything. To be fair, if a kid really hates something, they can sit there with it on their plate until lunch ends and they can carry it down to the kitchen themselves. But, the idea is that even if you don’t like it, you still eat it.

          A lot of Americans love that idea because of obesity and the fact that most of us don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. The flip side of this is that it teaches kids to take what they are given without questioning, which is, in my opinion, a larger part of Japanese society.

          So, while there are a lot of foods that people dislike, they just eat them if they are served them. There’s also this concept that you have to teach yourself to “like” or eat certain foods. These usually include natto, green peppers and tomatoes in the group of people I know.

          1. Hlyssande*


            That would actually be fairly triggering for me due to a horrible daycare provider.

            She once made me take a pbj out of the trash (at that time, the texture of jelly gave me serious gagging issues) and eat it while she watched. This after being told repeatedly that PB was fine for me, PBJ was not.

    2. Powerpuff*

      I’ve been to a fair few of these conferences. I find it simplest to keep food in my hotel room, or in my bag if it is a long day. I either bring some long-lasting food from home, or find a store nearby the hotel where I can stock up. That way, if I hate the food on offer I can just pick at it, safe in the knowledge that I won’t starve. If anyone comments, I’ll just say that I don’t have a large appetite, or that I’m not feeling too well.

    3. kas*

      I’ve never been to China so I don’t have any food suggestions but I’m also a picky eater. If you can find snacks or anything you like I’d definitely eat before you go to any of the banquets/lunches. Don’t full yourself up but at least if you don’t like anything, you can just nibble on a few things and won’t starve for the entire event.

      Like Powerpuff said, I’d probably tell them I’m not feeling too well if I don’t see anything I like.

      Good luck!

    4. CAA*

      I worked for a few weeks in Xi’an and Chengdu, and I found that my Chinese colleagues were very helpful when ordering. My big thing is “not spicy”, and they made sure to order things I’d like.

      You should be able to get steamed white rice anywhere you go, even the banquets. There’s a lot of soup in China, and you may be comfortable sipping the broth but leaving the other ingredients in the bowl. You’ll probably be staying in western style hotels, and the hotel restaurants should have English menus and they’ll probably even serve American food that you’ll be comfortable with. For times when you’re on your own, there are many Starbucks, KFC, Subway, Pizza Hut. I didn’t go into any of these except Starbucks, (which is unbelievably popular in China and always way more crowded than the ones here,) so I’m not entirely sure that they’ll have the full western menus, but you may want to give them a try. You could also pack powerbars or something similar in all the pockets of your luggage. Eat what you can when out with others, then use the bars to fill in the empty spaces later.

      In Xi’an, I had a dish that was fried sweet potato wedges coated in melted sugar. There is no way I can remember the Chinese name for it, but if you find that anywhere, it was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever eaten. I think most picky eaters would like that one. Xi’an also has a dish “roujamo”, which my friends called “Chinese hamburgers”, which is chopped beef served between two pieces of a special bread cooked on a griddle. That might be a little more iffy for you, but after several weeks of more exotic fare, I found it quite comforting.

    5. Colleen*

      When I was in China for business, I could eat everything, so it wasn’t a problem for me. But one of my co-workers just couldn’t get over the food, so she would bring a granola bar (or two) to dinner and would discreetly excuse herself to the restroom where she would eat a granola bar, then come back to the table. Some of the dinners (and lunches) were upwards of 2 hours long, so be prepared for the long haul.

      Many formal meals will start with a cold course (of multiple dishes) which should include something you might eat (eating salad with chopsticks, anyone?), but it might become more difficult when the hot course arrives.

      Bring something with you and try your best.

    6. HR Manager*

      Well, Beijing and Shanghai are big enough cities, that if you wanted to avoid Chinese cuisine, you can actually do it. Hotel food is one option, but there are also non-Chinese options in the city. Ask your hotel for any recommendations.

      Skin-off, white meat only is tough in China as traditional Chinese preparation is all about whole (as whole as possible) and fresh. Vegetarian is an option if you wish, as vegetables are a big part of Chinese cooking. There are also a lot of noodle dishes (in soup or otherwise) which might be easier rather than a traditional meal of rice/noodles with lots of protein and veggie dishes.

      Shanghai is also dumpling heaven (to me). I’m not sure if your picky-ness might extend to dumplings, but you’d likely not encounter any textures too offensive with dumplings.

  21. Mimmy*

    A close friend was admitted for mental health reasons. The place she’s at has limited visiting and calling hours and I’m definitely going to want to call and/or visit her. Problem is….I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid I’ll say the wrong thing. Any suggestions would be really helpful.

    1. FX-ensis*

      say you understand you’ll be there for her?

      May I ask what the condition is? (you don’t have to)

    2. fposte*

      I think the wrong thing by omission is worse than the wrong thing by commission here. You can tell her it sucks that things aren’t going well, it’s good she’s getting help, and you hope she feels better soon, and here are some books (or whatever she might enjoy that she can receive). And you can also just say “Wow, I’m really sorry,” and listen.

    3. nep*

      Probably good not to calculate what you’re going to say or how you’re going to ‘act’. Just be there. Go with the flow and with what the situation brings. You’d be amazed how well things can go in such situations when you don’t over-think and calculate.
      All the best to both of you — hope it goes well.

    4. JMW*

      Your friend is experiencing something new and I imagine, somewhat disorienting. I would ask her questions about what she is experiencing (food, routine, meds, people, environment):
      – What’s a day like for you here? Do you have a routine, or do you have a lot of choice in how you spend your time?
      – What’s the hardest part of your day?
      – Is there anything I could bring you that would make your stay here better? Chocolate? Sketchbook? Magazines? A book?
      – Do you like the people here? That lady on the front desk seemed weirdly perky.
      – Are you worried about anything that you want to talk about?

      I would avoid anything that sounds like a greeting card (like, You’ll be out of here in no time, or My aunt was here and she is so much better now).

    5. SepalsOnAFlower*

      I think just calling/visiting her will mean a lot. Say something like, Hey, I just wanted to check in and see how you were doing. And then just follow her lead on where to take the discussion. If she wants to talk about how she’s doing in there, then you can discuss that but if she doesn’t really talk about, then you can just do regular small talk.

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        I once spent time in a psychiatric unit. My friends didn’t know what to say either, so you aren’t alone. Try to think of it as just another hospitalization, which it is. Instead of a person going to get their leg fixed, their brain is being treated. As for what to say “Hey, how are you doing? Can I bring you anything?” is a pretty good place to start. Pretty much, just show up. Your presence will speak a thousand Shakespearian quality words. Perhaps you can bring your friend some food? When I was in treatment, getting things like a Funky Monkey smoothie myself was impossible. The friends who brought me some tasty nutritional additions earned my undying gratitude.

        1. salad fingers*

          Try to think of it as just another hospitalization, which it is. Instead of a person going to get their leg fixed, their brain is being treated.


          Boyfriend has very severe depression and anxiety, introduced it to me early in our relationship as “my brain is really wonky and misfires a lot, god aren’t bodies, brains included, bizarre and annoying sometimes?” Mental illnesses are painful enough on their own — doing as much as you can to destigmatize is helping to lift a huge burden.

    6. Tara*

      This is definitely a realm where you have to know your friend, but if you think she might be embarrassed by talking about the issues directly just try to have a normal chat! “I’m glad you’re getting help, I hope you feel better soon, you won’t believe what Teddy and Velma did over the weekend…” Just try not to talk too much about stuff she would usually be included in. You don’t have to treat the subject of her mental health like a giant elephant in the room, but if she’s been admitted she’s probably sick to death of talking about her brain and in need of a bit of normalcy.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        This. I wrote letters to a friend when she was hospitalized for an eating disorder, and I tried just to make them like regular letters. She said she really enjoyed them.

    7. Mimmy*

      Thanks so much everyone! I need to get a hold of our mutual friend to find out the visiting hours and the number I can call her at.

      I’m not sure if this is a hospital or what–I’m picturing something more like a residential treatment facility, not a true hospital; thus, it probably looks a little homier. Does that sound about right? Her condition is not related to any substance or alcohol problems (though there are addiction programs available at this organization).

      Also, how long do people generally stay inpatient? I know everyone is different, but I was just curious what the average is for regular adult psychiatric inpatient, if any.

      1. SepalsOnAFlower*

        It really varies depending on the severity of the symptoms. It could be anywhere from just a couple of days to several weeks.
        Usually residential treatment facilities are like nursing homes. Technicians come by to do check on you throughout the night and everything is pretty sterile, especially in the more intense units of the facility.

  22. FX-ensis*

    I feel down almost everyday, because practically everybody else around my age tends to have dates, but I don’t get it….what does everybody else do that I don’t?

    I feel pathetic, because I always feel down about this, but then it seems there is some special club in which people get knowledge, and some plot to exclude me…..

    I just doesn’t make sense, people my age just go about their business and do as they do, and it’s just that i act normally as all others do. Like I go to a class, and I make small talk as much as the others do, and in some areas I have more (not to be arrogant, but in terms of education, career, etc.) but then I don’t get it because I function OK, but why no dates? I can’t pinpoint what everybody else does that is special to get dates, and more than me.

    Even though there are seven billion people in the world, I bet there are many who think “who is this guy posting on the Web a lot about “standard knowledge? haha!!!” I don’t care if others don’t care, it’s a fact that all others got into some club, if not then section me, I don’t care…section me in an institution for what? self-advancement? self-improvement? or because I’m breaching others’ subjective limits?


      1. FX-ensis*

        I just want the standard of life knowledge….if I’m being naive or don’t “get my place in the world”…well I determine my own place….I don’t see life in terms of “betters vs. lessers” as you or many others may do…..I simply don’t believe that there is no “handed knowledge”…

        1. fposte*

          FX, you’ve said this before, and I understand that you’re really frustrated about the way your life is going. I really hope you’ll consider going to therapy to talk to somebody skilled about this, because it’s clearly something that’s a struggle for you right now.

          And no, people really aren’t seeing this as “betters vs. lessers.” I know being disagreed with you on that has made you unhappy before, but I think it’s a projection that’s hurting you, so I’ll make that point again.

          1. FX-ensis*

            OK, so me getting the knowledge all others has/had will “get my life on track…” if this is what others oppose, so be it…I don’t need to care..

              1. FX-ensis*

                I’m only asking this “to get my life on track”, as it’s obvious s/he was mocking me for “being sad” or some such..

                1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  No one is mocking you. A suggestion that you consider therapy is not at all saying, “You are sad, go see someone to make you happy.” Rather, a skilled therapist might help you find the answers to these questions you have, especially since those answers are most likely within yourself and you haven’t found them yet.

                  There is no magic formula to life, no handbook, no list of rules. One must observe and learn from that observation. Mimicking others’ behavior (patterns of speech, table manners, answers to small talk questions) is one place to start, but there is no magic answer anyone here can give you.

                2. B.*

                  I don’t see any mockery there and I still don’t understand your response. I think you are reading quite a lot into things.

                3. Not So NewReader*

                  If someone gives you advice that you do not like that is not the same as mocking you. Many times on this forum, posters receive advice that is hard to listen to and yet, very, very helpful. Fposte is one of the really good contributors to this forum. Not only is she very smart but she also has keen insight. She’s not being mean. She’s a kind person. I learned all this by reading her posts over the years.

                  I can tell you a little bit about asking advice.

                  1) Assume that the person answering you is doing their absolute best to help you. Only ask people whose opinions you respect, this will help you to see the thinking behind their answers.

                  2) If you do not like their answer that is fine. But remember two things- they gave you their time because they care about people. And secondly, that is their answer. If it does not work for you then ask someone else.

                  3) No one is going to fix our lives for any of us. Frequently, I read life stories here that almost knock me to tears. There are many people out there that are wondering what to do, also. It’s not just you. At most all we can give other people is little helps here and there. But we all have to do our own heavy lifting.
                  In an extreme example a couple months(?) ago we had a poster saying s/he was in a dangerous country and surrounded by a dangerous situation. I don’t think we have heard from that poster since then. (Someone, please tell me I am wrong, please!) S/he has to do her own heavy lifting to get herself out of that tense area. The best we can do there is encourage and send out good vibes.

                  Likewise for you, the best we can do is give you our best advice and encourage you.

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  Here’s the thing about talking to someone. It isn’t a judgment of you. Sometimes people get stuck in patterns because they’re not seeing something obvious, or because they’ve convinced themselves of something that isn’t true (like “I suck,” etc.). A good therapist can listen and help you figure out what it is that is keeping you stuck, and then helps you learn how to redirect that thinking so your’e not stuck anymore.

                  Since we don’t have that kind of training here, we recommend that you find someone who does. Short-term therapy can really help you get out of a rut.

        2. B.*

          Who here is talking about betters vs. lessers other than you?

          Also, are you asking anybody out? And if you’re having trouble meeting people you want to date/who want to go out with you in real life, are you comfortable trying online dating?

          I meet most of my friends through a volunteer position, and they’re great friends, but I don’t meet people who are good matches for dating there. There are a lot more people who have more interests and values in common with me online.

          Also, I really think that talking this through with another real-life person, who’s seriously qualified to give advice, might help. Whether that’s someone you’re close to or a counselor, who knows.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Dating is not about “functioning”, it’s about getting to know people. You won’t go on dates unless you ask people to go on dates with you, and you won’t be able to do that unless you express interest in the people around you. Don’t date just to date, date because you want to spend time with a particular person. If you want to spend time with a particular person, ask that person if he/she would like to get a cup of coffee with you.

        1. Hm*

          Oh, yeah. I wouldn’t say she has dating woes. She doesn’t make any attempts to date. She only asks for advice and shoots it down.

      1. Aam Admi*

        I also feel the person seems familiar. I think there was a similar post in last Sunday’s open thread.

    2. INTP*

      Sorry if this sounds harsh but I don’t think that you will have much luck in dating until you get some perspective and become less defensive. This is something that people pick up on and it’s not attractive. No one wants the pressure of knowing that if she decides it’s not working out or has a headache one night, it’s going to be viewed through the lens of “betters and lessers” or some cosmic plot to exclude you. Therapy may help, particularly group therapy.

    3. QualityControlFreak*

      Wouldn’t it be nice if there WERE “standard knowledge” that was just handed out to everyone? Because I think about stuff like this, I wonder how that information would be distributed. I don’t think infants could be born with preprogrammed standard knowledge, so I think they’d have to get it along the way somehow. So there’s knowledge the parent(s) dispense, knowledge transmitted by school and the media, and knowledge collected through personal experiences. Honestly, these are all going to vary from person to person. Your comment reminds me of the lyrics to a song I like.

      “Sometimes I think it’s all a big game that everyone plays but me, it’s a big conspiracy, everybody in free but me. Now I don’t know the rules; they don’t tell the rules to fools, so I do the best I can, I do the best I can.”

      I understand the feeling, but if I look at it logically I see the reality is we’re all just figuring it out as we go along. We’re doing the best we can. Good luck.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Alison makes a living because of all the people trying to figure out workplace issues. That is how many of us there are! In a similar vein, look at Carolyn Hax and many other advice columnists. There are lots of people out there looking for puzzle pieces.

      2. The Maple Teacup*

        I find a calm acceptance about who you are is an attractive quality that draws others to you. Sometimes, not looking for a date leads to the appearance of awesome people. Just accept the interest of the person you randomly meet. (Hello cute bakery guy!)

    4. Emily*

      You might find some of Captain Awkward’s advice (especially in the Captain Awkward’s Dating Guide for Geeks tag) helpful.

      Specific posts:

      All of the above are geared towards men who want to date women, but most of the general advice (try to be chill about social interactions, don’t be afraid to try different hobbies/go to events that sound potentially cool) is valid regardless of gender.

      You might want to consider the way you’re approaching interactions and small talk with people, too. If you’re striking up conversations with the goal of getting dates (even if this is subtle or subconscious on your part), most people will notice and shy away from that kind of pressure. It’s much better to work on being yourself, doing awesome things for yourself, and trying to meet people with the understanding that not all of those meetings will turn into friendships or romantic relationships.

    5. Just Visiting*

      I’ve been on maybe like five actual “formal” dates in my life. I dated friends instead. I’ve always had friend groups with a mix of genders (and I swing both ways anyway), and I already knew these people, so why not pick your dates from people who you already have something in common with? Only once did it make things awkward afterward. If you don’t have friends of your preferred gender and orientation, then make some: join a group, go to a meeting. Don’t go in with the attitude of fishing for dates, just go to meet folks. Then see if there’s a spark. If there isn’t one, at least you’ll have a new group of friends, and maybe one of them can fix you up. It helps if you have a particular interest or are a nerd or something (using nerd in a positive way here).

  23. AvonLady Barksdale*

    China is a really, really tough place for picky eaters. It’s also tough for vegetarians. I eat everything and I love trying new foods, so I had the time of my life, but for you it will be hard, I’m sad to say. We had a few duck dinners (banquet-type things) and I love love love duck, but while it’s often sliced, it will be presented with the skin on. Do you eat fish? You might get your best results by telling your hosts you’re a pescatarian, which will get you around red meat and skin-on poultry. You’re right that Chinese food in China is completely different from American food in China, so you will have some difficult moments.

    Shanghai will actually be pretty easy for you. There are several Western-style restaurants there. I got stuck in a rainstorm and ended up at a European-style cafe and had the best sandwich of my life on very, very good bread. You can find all manner of Western cuisine. American-style fast food is also readily available; say what you like about McDonald’s, but there’s a lot of comfort in knowing that the food is the same the world over! I didn’t eat fast food in China, but I knew it was there, which was great.

    Two of the people in our tour group kept strict kosher, so they arranged to pick up Western-style food at the Chabad in Beijing. Maybe that’s an option? In Beijing there’s also a lot of fast food, but the restaurants we went to were all Chinese. KFC is huge in China. HUGE.

    Eating is a big deal in China. Big, communal meals are very important. I wish I had more concrete suggestions. While you are not required to take everything that is offered, taking nothing will probably make your hosts confused but definitely not less gracious. When you’re on your own, though, you’ll be able to manage. I didn’t go to Xi’an, but it’s a big tourist destination so I can’t imagine you’ll run into too many problems.

    Regardless, enjoy it! China is a fascinating place. I have to say that my favorite part of my trip was the food, but you will find lots of interesting things to see and do.

      1. fposte*

        I think comments held in moderation mess with the post threading for a little bit. It’ll probably sort itself out.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I also meant to say that “Chinese food in China is different from Chinese food in the US”. Oops. Must be Sunday…

  24. fposte*

    The Google doodle today is this amazing and poignant little video about the Berlin Wall and the way its bits are now displayed as art around the world. I highly recommend it.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Thanks for sharing! I rarely remember to check and see if there’s a Google doodle unless someone else points out a particularly good one.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I have a small piece of it–a friend of a roommate went to the Wall when it was coming down and got one and gave it to my roommate. He said if he ever broke it, I could have a piece. One day, I came home and he was standing there with a sheepish expression on his face and handed me a piece of the piece. He was cleaning and had broken it, ha ha.

      1. Natalie*

        I have a small piece, too! Actually, it’s three pieces now because I knocked it off my shelf.

        Physically, if not politically, that thing breaks pretty damn easy.

  25. brightstar*

    So this weekend I’ve fallen into a hole of watching James Spader movies. I have no regrets! It started Friday night when a friend brought over “Secretary” and yesterday I watched “Stargate” and started watching White Palace. I just finished “White Palace” and am now onto “Sex, Lies, and Videotape”. Up next is “Tuff Turf” with baby James Spader and Robert Downey, Jr. My friends tell me it is spectacularly bad and I need distraction from how awful the Doctor Who finale was. So pretty, young, James Spader it is. Though I love older, chubbier James Spader as well. I think watching The Blacklist has been increasing my James Spader love lately.

    1. Colleen*

      I totally agree with your James Spader love. I wasn’t that into him when he was young and pretty, but the older, chubbier version makes me completely happy.

    2. salad fingers*

      Don’t forget to pick up Crash by Cronenberg — Spader in his prime! Also, this is the *other* movie called Crash, in case you ever refer to it in conversation with anyone who doesn’t know Cronenberg/Ballard well. I’ve had exactly one awkward conversation trying to disambiguate (“er, no, this one is about …car crash fetishists? Heh, no, I don’t think Sandra Bullock was in this one.”) and now I know there are two movies called Crash.

        1. salad fingers*

          And I spent last night introducing some lucky nube to Twin Peaks — yes, I am incredibly predictable :P

          1. brightstar*

            I’m watching “Crash” now. Tuff Turf was special. Tough youths who synchronize dance in the land of the mullets and big belts (ie, the 80s).

            “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” is my favorite Spader movie.

  26. littlemoose*

    The post earlier this week about productivity tools and apps made me wonder what non-work apps you all use and love. What is helpful for you, or just fun? I love:
    – Flipboard for news, including tech and sports news. Their news tends to have a more international bent but you can probably change the settings, plus I’ve read some interesting articles from the Guardian, etc.
    – Instapaper for saving articles for later reading, including offline reading once you’ve downloaded them
    – Feedly for reading blogs (including this one)
    – Longform, which aggregates great longform articles on a range of topics
    – Evernote, for which I professed my adoration on the post earlier this week
    – Red Herring, which is a fun and free word game (offers reasonably priced in-app purchases, i.e. a 50-pack of puzzles for $0.99.

    1. littlemoose*

      I realized almost all of these are apps for reading… I was going to apologize but then I remembered that the AAM crowd is definitely a group of readers, so never mind!

    2. kas*

      The apps I use the most/love are:

      Flipboard – fashion/style, sometimes tech and travel
      Pinterest – fashion/home decor
      Songza – music of course
      Spotify – music of course
      theScore/ESPN ScoreCenter – keep up with my sports highlights

    3. INTP*

      Pinterest and Feedly for sure. I also love pomodoro apps for everything that needs to be done – school, work, and chores – my favorite so far is droptime. Love the Unfck Your Habitat app with the 20/10 timer. Yelp for finding somewhere nearby to eat when I’m out. And I would not be able to take public transportation without winding up in Mongolia if not for Google Maps.

    4. CAA*

      Waze for navigation. It’s driving me crazy with “car stopped on shoulder” alerts though, so I may go back to Google.

      Two Dots for killing time waiting in line. I just ran out of levels though, so I’m waiting for the next installment.

      Downcast — can’t live without this one for automatically retrieving and organizing podcasts in the order I want to listen to them. I basically never use the radio in the car any more.

      Yelp, Tripit, various airline apps

    5. fposte*

      I love the Jigsawed app–it’s gotten kind of buggy, but you can pull Creative Commons pictures from Flickr and turn them into jigsaws, with a lot of customizability on piece numbers and size. Home Routines and Best Budget for household running; Packing and TripDoc (make your own travel map) for traveling.

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Home Routines looks great! I’ve been looking for a better chore system than just the Google cal task list.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      I love GroceryIQ for making grocery lists. Whenever I run out of something or think of something I want, I add it to the list and then it’s right there the next time I go shopping. I almost never forget anything anymore, and it’s hard to forget to bring the list to the store when it’s on your phone. You can make lists for different stores which is great because we go to at least three grocery stores regularly and I also keep lists for the pharmacy, farmer’s market, liquor store, kosher grocery, etc. (See above conversation about Myers-Briggs types, yes I’m a J).

      I also love the Starbucks app. You can pay with your phone and you get rewards (I’m on “gold level” so I get a free drink – any size! – or food item after every 12 purchases, and on my birthday). I buy Starbucks gift cards with my credit card points, so it’s essentially free. Even though money is tight for us right now, knowing that I can have Starbucks whenever I want without spending money has been really great for my quality of life/sanity.

      1. CAA*

        Oh yes, I forgot Grocery IQ in my list above. I have lists for places like Michaels, Macys, Costco in addition to grocery stores. I love that when I’m cooking and run out of something like cumin, I can just add it to the grocery list right then and it’s still there a week later. It’s really cut down on the “forgot to buy” and “bought this twice because I forgot I did get it last time” problems. Theoretically, my husband also has this app on his phone, and our lists are synched, but he usually ends up calling me from the store to ask if I need anything anyway.

        1. fposte*

          Thirding Grocery IQ. It’s freed up so much brainspace and helped me come closer to the life I imagine myself living, where I never run out of everything and I know where it all is.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t really use them all that much, which is annoying since there are 700 million apps on my new phone. I tend to just google stuff. The alarm clock and the camera are probably the ones I use most. I don’t use Memo anymore since my old phone bricked and I lost all of them. There’s no way to forward them off the phone that I can see.

      Oh, and my British phone and my new S4 have “Assistive Light” (the one that turns the flashlight on). Love that name, ha ha.

    8. Kyrielle*

      AnyList. AnyList is my favoritest of favorites, I can have lists for myself, lists shared with my husband, etc. Grocery list? You betcha. List of exact specs of household things (light bulbs, filters, etc.) that sometimes need to be bought? Yep. Seasonal lists for Christmas? Lists of people we need to send thank you notes too? Lists of “5%” tasks around the house (the things I ought to do for 5% of the time or less, but need to do), lists of long term to-dos? Awesome.

      Also Evernote, Yelp, Dropbox (for listening to my Coursera lectures; it’s handier than the Coursera app, for getting the files to my computer), MyFitnessPal, Weather Radio for weather alerts….

    9. Snork Maiden*

      I use Google Keep (I have an Android phone) which syncs across my various devices. It’s like a bulletin board, basically, you can search and set reminders for location or time. It’s not the most sophisticated but it’s easy to dump text or pics into and doesn’t run out of space (my quibble with Evernote).

      I tried Feedly but switched to Newsblur instead – Feedly was buggy and not pulling all of my subscriptions.

  27. Mister Pickle*

    I wish Alison would write a column talking about the practical business aspects of running AAM. Looking at AAM from the outside, it seems like she participates with a group of content providers and content provider services … but I don’t know for sure. Many questions: I wonder how (or if) the comments affect the column? What kind of networking goes on? Does she get a lot of contracting work from the column? How have the numbers of readers / commentors grown? To be clear, the intent is not to invade Alison’s personal life; it’s just that AAM seems to be a successful enterprise – I’d like to know more about it from the inside.

    1. Elkay*

      A while ago Alison advertised for an intern but I don’t know whether or not she found one. I’d like to hear how it turned out but I guess it’s not really something she can discuss on here.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’m glad to answer any questions!

      Readership has grown pretty significantly every year. There’s a chart here from last December showing site growth through the end of 2013:

      I’ve definitely gotten a bunch of freelance writing work from the site (U.S. News, etc.). I used to get consulting work from it too, but I haven’t been taking on new clients for a while; my schedule got too packed and I don’t want to add to it.

      1. Mister Pickle*

        I guess my big question is: do you manage all of the aspects of AAM yourself? Or are you part of some kind of consortium or do you have an agent or some other person or organization who assists with things? (I’m mostly just curious about how this kind of business ‘works’ nowadays).

  28. S from CO*

    I am looking for restaurant recommendations:
    -Redondo Beach, CA area (or a 20-30 minute drive from city center)
    -Cuisine type: American or Mediterranean
    -with a view, a courtyard or on the beach is preferred
    Thank you.

  29. INTP*

    Subscription boxes! I think I’m going to cancel my Graze because the novelty is worn off and I don’t get excited to see what I got anymore. (The snacks themselves are definitely not worth the money, you get about 8 tablespoons of snacks for the price of a pound of trail mix at Trader Joe’s.) Anyone have a box that you really like? Or one that comes with a free first box like graze to at least try it?

    I’ve been looking at beauty boxes like Birchbox and Ipsy, but I have so many restrictions on skincare and haircare products (no fragrances or irritating ingredients in skincare, no sulfates or silicones in haircare, I’m allergic to a lot of synthetic fragrance so perfumes rarely work) that I might just wind up barely using any of it and hoarding the rest in the linen closet with all of my hotel soaps. Glossybox and Goodebox look fun but are a little pricey and I don’t see discount codes for them.

    1. Trixie*

      I tried the free sample boxes from Graze and I think NatureBox. They were fun to try. Really liked Naturebox which was tasty and lower sugar/sodium, but yes for the cost, I can easily find the time to make my own in batches. Maybe team up with 3-4 other folks for monthly exchange so you’re saving money and have variety.

      1. Ali*

        I ended up canceling my Graze, but that was mostly because I couldn’t pick my own snacks and I didn’t like getting dried fruit all the time. (Am I the only person who doesn’t like dried fruit? Seriously, it just does not appeal to me.) I got NatureBox, and while the cost is higher, I appreciate the idea that I have control over what I get every month and not what they randomly send.

    2. Rowan*

      I quite like Birchbox but you’re right that it’s not likely to be much good for you if you have that many restrictions. My hair’s very fussy but it’s rare that a skincare or makeup product is unusable to me, so I find I get a decent percentage of useable things. If you’re in Europe, My Little Box might work better for you – it’s more general lifestyle than specifically beauty, so scratches that “cute little parcels every month” itch without being unusable.

    3. Calla*

      The blog Ramblings of a Suburban Mom has a HUGE list of subscription boxes and has reviewed a good chunk of them, so you can see what’s out there and what people get in them. I currently subscribe to BirchBox and Glossybox, and I like them and have gotten great stuff, but I do end up with a good amount of discarded samples over time (I don’t use any facial care products they send, and I don’t use anything too strongly scented).

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I did Birchbox for a few months but quickly realized I’m not interested in being experimental with my skin/hair care routine. I have a RIDICULOUS nail polish collection thanks to Julep (before they went full cosmetic and were strictly a nail polish line). I canceled that one eventually, too, but still have a hard time resisting their mystery boxes. In general if I were to subscribe to any new boxes, I’d rather have one like Julep that gives a couple full-size products of a brand I know I like, rather than half a dozen random samples.

  30. Holly*

    Anyone have any tips for knowing whether a cat is friendly with other cats or if adopting a second would be World War IV? I mean, I live in a one bedroom apartment so separating them for a while would mean the new one would be in the bedroom the entire time, and my current cat has a fierce independent streak, but I also think having a second would be good for her (plus I want a second one.) I just don’t want to make my current cat hate my guts for having someone invade her territory. I don’t know…thoughts? tips?

      1. Holly*

        I have a close friend with three cats, but I’m not sure how well they travel or how willing she would be to bring one over.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I only had one experience with having two cats. Both cats tended toward being shy/not aggressive. I think that matters a bunch. Anyway they only had one big blow up and I handled that with a loud voice and a spritzer of water. Then the truce was set. After a bit they got to be friends with each other.

      I had a Balinese (longer-haired Siamese), she had an attitude and a half. So I did not try getting a second cat with her. She even tried to take on the 50 pound dog. Wisely, he backed away from her.
      For me a huge piece of deciding whether or not to get a second cat was based on my willingness to act as a peace-keeping force. I was not so willing to be vigilant with the Balinese so I let the idea go.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I suggest talking to a shelter and finding out if they have any cats that they know the personality as far as how they get along with other cats. Then perhaps you could ask them if it would be OK to “foster” the kitty that they recommend to see how your kitty does. If you do foster, then give it some time. It could take them a bit to get to know each other.

      But you have to know when to call it quits too. I adopted a second cat one time who turned out to be a Murder Queen when it came to my first cat. I couldn’t give her back to the shelter, but I lived in a divided household for 3 years until my original kitty died of a renal tumour…if I had to do it all over again, I would not have adopted another cat. Or I would have done more work on trying to find a kitty that had lived with other cats before.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      An important thing to remember is that the first month is often very different than what it will be afterwards. Most cats are programmed to be suspicious of / hostile to new cats in the beginning, and there will be lots of hissing and snarling and so forth. But after they get used to each other’s smell, that can all change. Lucy (can I just use their names here since you see photos of them all the time?) was pretty hostile to Olive in the beginning (and Olive was just a tiny kitten and desperately wanted to be friends with her), but over time she started to love her and now regularly bathes her and plays with her — but it took a while for the natural hostility to go away. (Sam, on the other hand, got used to her more quickly, but he’s more tolerant overall.) So I’d say don’t be freaked out if it takes a while; that’s pretty normal.

      I also have a general sense that integrating a kitten might be easier than bringing home an adult cat (because kittens are less of a threat), but it probably depends on the cats.

      1. Tara*

        We just adopted a new kitten about a month and a half ago and at first I was pretty worried! Peanut lost it every time she was in the same room as him, snarling and scratching and running off. Now she sniffs him, gives him an occasional claw-less whack when he’s annoying her, and I even caught her licking him the other day.

  31. Felicia*

    I’m going to Boston for 5 days and 4 nights in December. I am super excited!!! I have never been before and this is my first trip out of the country with my parents, so Im excited to only do/see things I want to do! Does anyone have any recommendations of teh best things to see/do in Boston, top things you wouldn’t miss there? I like museums and history and the arts. I know that if someone were visiting my city i might recommend things the internet wouldn’t, so I’d love to hear about what people who live there or have been there will recommend!

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Sounds like fun! Definitely check out the Museum of Fine Arts. Check out one of these websites to plan a walking tour of the city:
      I especially enjoyed the historic sites of the North End, including an old cemetery. The North End is also Boston’s Little Italy, so a stop for some cannoli’s or gelato is pretty much mandatory.

      In terms of food, Redbones barbecue is terrific, if you like that kind of thing.

    2. Calla*

      Congrats!! You can get a pass that gets you admission to most of the museums here for a bundled priced, so I would suggest that–google CityPass Boston.

      Also, I haven’t been yet, but I hear it’s great–the Museum of Bad Art. There’s a couple locations, the one I know is in the basement of the Somerville Theatre (in Davis Square).

      There are always all kinds of festivals and markets going on, so check for things like that. Fore example, through December 12, there’s Community Colors: “Community Colors 2014 is a collaborative art exhibit of work inspired by community, diversity and/or collaboration created by local artists who live, work or participate in the South End/Lower Roxbury community.” And Dec. 13-14 there’s the SoWa Holiday Open Market.

      And there’s some great restaurants here too. One of my favorites is Max Brenner. It’s a chocolate restaurant–usually crowded and loud, but so worth it! Breakfast is amazing and usually incorporates chocolate, dinner is more usual but you can still get things like cocoa-dusted french fries, and the milkshakes and lattes are so good.

    3. ProductiveDyslexic*

      Late to the party but…

      I have to recommend the Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum to you. It’s the most amazing art / antiques museum I’ve ever been too. Stuart Gardener was a wealthy heiress and widow: the museum is her personal collection arranged as she arranged it in a house she had specially built for it. There’s an amazing garden courtyard.

      I had a fab time in Boston. Only thing I didn’t like was the lobster roll.

    4. Nicole*

      I went to Boston two years ago, and while we didn’t visit any museums, I’ll just throw out these things I enjoyed in case any of them strike your fancy.

      A tour of Fenway Park (not sure if they are offered year-round though).

      The New England Aquarium
      1 Central Wharf, Boston, MA 02110
      Very cool aquarium with a fantastic jellyfish exhibit.

      Legal Sea Foods
      255 State St, Boston, MA 02109
      Great restaurant chain (located across the street from the aquarium)

      James Hook & Co (at New Northern Ave in Waterfront, South Boston)
      440 Atlantic Ave, Boston, MA 02111
      Try their AMAZING lobster roll. It was seriously good and I don’t normally even like lobster.

      Granary Burying Ground (part of the freedom trail)
      Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine, are buried here.

      Enjoy your trip!

    5. TL -*

      Eat at Legal Seafood for some yummy seafood (Or, Yankee Seafood is much cheaper but just as good; there’s only the one location, however.) The aquarium is amazing – definitely go!

      It’s a super walkable city, so grab a T pass and get around by public transit. The MIT museum is full of really interactive science exhibits. Harvard Square has a lot of fun shops (the Curious George store is really fun!), so you can see some of the Harvard museums and break them up with fun shops in the same day. Seconding the Isabella Stuart Gardener Museum recommendation.

      I would see about jumping on a tour bus the first few days (the Duck tours that leave from the Museum of Science are really funny and informative, but I don’t know about taking one in December.) The tour bus’ll help you figure out what you want to see more of – you’ll drive by, but then you can take a walking tour later if something catches your interest.

    6. Anonymous Educator*

      The Museum of Fine Arts is a great art museum.

      Apart from that, less about what to do and more about what to eat—I’d recommend Clear Flour Bread (bakery in Brookline), Hungry Mother (Southern comfort restaurant in Cambridge), The Similans (Thai restaurant in Cambridge), Post 390 (dinner in Boston), Stacked Donuts (follow Stephanie Cmar on Twitter to see where she ends up), Trident Booksellers (restaurant attached to an independent book store).

      Unfortunately, the swan boats won’t be in operation in December, because those are fun (and cheap) when weather permits.

    7. NaCSaCJack*

      Thank you all for the suggestions. Boston is on my Bucket List just like NYC was (and will be again).

    8. HR Manager*

      Museum of Fine Arts is indeed a wonderful art museum and I highly recommend it. Depending on how you react to the cold, I do think walking the Freedom Trail is a must. Early December should not be that bad, but since the walk is all outdoors it is harder on a cold, nippy day. It will take you through a number of historical and pre-revolutionary/revolutionary war landmarks. The Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy library can be fun, as right by the Back Bay where there is a lot of high-end shopping.

      If you like music, you can check out if the Boston Symphony Orchestra or the Boston Pops have a concert going on. Those are a lot of fun, especially if you can land a holiday-themed concert. We have a pretty active theater rotation, so if you do not get to go to shows a lot, it can be fun if a play is up your alley. The Boston Ballet will also be doing their annual Nutcracker ballet shows.

      If you like sports, a visit to the TD Garden (Celtics/Bruins?) or Fenway Park might be fun.

      I don’t know if it’s possible to get a harbor cruise in December, since it will be cold (especially night ones). Whale watches are also very popular (right by the Aquarium).

      1. Felicia*

        I am from somewhere that is at least cold (often colder) than Boston, so I don’t mind it! The Freedom Trail is definitely on my list now, but thanks everyone for the great suggestions! All the Broadway touring casts come here , and I go all the time, so I wouldn’t go see a show, but i’ve also heard good things about the Back Bay!

    9. Sunflower*

      Check out Boston Public Library in Back Bay. It’s amazing. If you enjoy Italian food, eat anywhere in the North End- especially try the cannolis there. Cambridge is across the river and is also a really cute little town. Faneuil Hall is cool but I would avoid the marketplace around it.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Oh, yeah! I forgot about the Boston Public Library. It has a beautiful courtyard inside. The maps room is also an amazing place!

        For the North End, I’d recommend Panza—great fresh-made pasta but not completely overrun by tourists (some restaurants have lines out the door for a whole block).

  32. Renegade Rose*

    My two best friends are moving to Beijing and Ethiopia this week. I’m excited for them but at the same time… This really sucks. The whole situation is making me fairly despondent because I’m introverted and it takes me a very long time to make friends.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Aww, that sucks. I’m sorry. Two suggestions. Find something to fill up your time- maybe a craft or a hobby of some sort. Second idea, focus on making acquaintances, as opposed to making friends. Making new friends can be really daunting. But somehow it is less challenging to just learn some names of people you see around you, so think about starting there.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      I’m sorry, that stinks. I’m not an introvert, but it still takes me quite a while to make friends, so I understand. I agree with Not So NewReader’s advice, and would add that you should also try to find ways to keep in touch with your friends who are moving. Figure out what works for you (email, skype, gchat, snail mail, whatever) and try to keep in touch so that you can still have people who are there for you while you’re in the process of making new acquaintances/friends where you are.

  33. A.M.*

    Going semi-anonymous here, but I was wondering if anyone has ever gone to therapy for issues related to depression. I started this past week and had an assessment my first session, and the counselor seems nice enough. I really need the help and am hoping to get some of my issues cleared up. Right now, I’m burned out/bored at work, which depresses me, and I have some self-esteem issues. (i.e. feeling like a failure, comparing myself to other people). I also feel angrier more than what’s normal over things that shouldn’t upset me, and it’s killing me. I’ve been through this once before, and I’m just down that it’s come back to this vicious cycle of never feeling good no matter what.

    I’m proud of myself for taking the first step into therapy, and I know it doesn’t mean an instant fix, but I just wish I could be happy (and not fake happy, either, so I don’t alienate my friends) and feel normal again. I was almost dismayed that my problems got deep enough to seek help because really, the issues I’m having I feel should be easily overcome.

    I don’t really know what else to say. It’s like I know I did a good thing, but I feel awful about it at the same time.

    1. C.M.*

      I am proud of you. I have been thinking of going into therapy for some of the same reasons (angrier than I should be, not ever feeling truly happy), but even though I have gotten recommendations from my friends and mentioned it to my husband, I haven’t gone through with it.

      So, huzzah for you in taking this first step. I believe that as you move forward with your therapy, you will be able to get rid of the “awful” feelings and focus on the good ones. Best of everything to you!

    2. FD*

      I have. It’s hard, and it’s especially hard because sometimes you don’t ‘click’ with the therapist right away, or have to try a couple before you find the one that’s right for you.

      Some things that also were hard for me was feeling that I didn’t have the ‘right’ to need help, since my issues weren’t the result of a specific bad thing in my life, so I felt I ‘should’ be able to cope with it on my own. It was also hard for me to accept that I was going to need medication for probably my whole life (I’ve been on and off a few times, but when I go off, it slips back, so it’s likely going to be an ongoing need).

      Some things that were helpful eventually (although it’s really hard to accept them at first because depression makes your thought processes out of whack when it comes to yourself) was remembering that it’d be silly to say to someone who was shortsighted ‘Oh, you shouldn’t need glasses; you could see if you REALLY wanted to.’ It was also helpful to start exercising more, although I was only able to have the energy to do that after I started getting help.

      Going to therapy is nothing to be ashamed of, and it’s great that you were able to take that first step! I hope you are able to feel more like you want to soon.

    3. Mister Pickle*

      Yes, I’ve done this. I don’t know why you would feel awful about it – it really is something to be proud of: you’ve got a problem, and you’re taking it by the horns.

      In the US, I had to engage a psychiatrist in order to get meds. I saw a therapist in parallel for awhile to do the more talk-about-life kinds of issues. I still see my psychiatrist because I am on certain meds (although they aren’t anti-depression meds). You might choose to not go with any meds – whatever is right for you is what’s important.

      Best of luck with this!

    4. LizH*

      Taking care of yourself and your mental health is so important. Good for you for taking steps to get healthy. You don’t have to defend yourself ( your comment about having issues that are easy to overcome). Sometimes life gets to us, we get overwhelmed and our ability to handle things gets out of whack. It is ok to need help to get back on track. Impartial people are often just what we need to get going in the right direction. Best of luck to you.

      1. A.M.*

        That’s what’s going on with me. Between thinking about a career change and trying to take the steps to be a legitimate adult (well, in my eyes anyway) I am just feeling swamped. I feel like I constantly have to be on the go and be figuring things out, and it overwhelms me enough to the point where I just never do anything to accomplish my goals. I think of everything I haven’t done or done right, and then I just feel like “forget it.”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I have tried therapy twice after two major events in my life. The positive thing that came out of it was I could clearly see what I needed to do for my next major choice in life. I came away with a sense of direction that I did not have before. Notice I say a sense of direction. This is not the same as having answers. I started out on a new-to-me path and followed that path.

      I think we sometimes reach a point where we say “nothing in my life is working, I need to change something but WHAT?” Sometimes therapy can help crystallize our definitions of what we don’t want and what we do want. Personally, I thought it was scary, it felt very confrontational. But now I know, that is how to get out of a bad spot. Confront it head on. Deep dark secret: In confronting it, you have solved 50% of the problem, that is how powerful confrontation is.

      I have mentioned my favorite psychology teacher here before. He said that the clients that came it and said “I have x, y and z going on” were the easiest people to help. The hardest people to help were the ones who said they had no problem what so ever.

    6. fposte*

      One of I’m sure many with therapy experiences here, reporting in. I think what you’re describing is pretty common–the reasons we benefit from therapy are the same things that make us feel like we haven’t earned it, or it’s scary, or it’s a mistake. Probably the more we struggle with therapy the more we need it.

    7. ZSD*

      I’ve gone to therapy as well, and I think other commenters’ posts today show you that plenty of people out there also struggle with depression or other mental problems.
      The advice I always give people is to remember that you’re allowed to switch therapists. I went to one therapist for about five visits, but I really didn’t feel like she was helping me. I switched to a new one, with whom I felt an instant rapport, and suddenly I began making (what I at least perceived as) progress. So don’t feel like you’re glued to the first therapist you try.
      Good luck!

    8. Colette*

      I did a couple of therapy sessions during what remains the worst year of my life. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you need help, and there are no prizes for solving issues yourself.

      It’s similar to how you often miss typos in something you write – sometimes you need an outside perspective to allow you to see things you can’t see yourself.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        I think that’s a great analogy: it’s just another set of eyes on something that you’re too close to to notice everything.

        My experience of therapy was really positive even though I really didn’t click with my therapist. It was comforting knowing that every week I had one person who had to listen to me, and I didn’t have to hold back or feel like I was inconveniencing him by having not-positive emotions. That was a huge roadblock for me (thinking that I was too much trouble for others) so having someone who I compensated to listen to me was actually really freeing.

        There will be days when your therapist hits the nail right on the head, and other days where you’ll be baffled as to why he thinks that would be in any way helpful. The best advice I can give you is to be honest with him (even when it’s to say, “THAT IS THE STUPIDEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD.” which I literally did once) and treat the experience like an open door. There isn’t one road to learning to manage depression; there’s not a set of sequential steps and then you’ll feel better. There’s a combination of understanding your particular mind, understanding that mind in the context it lives in, and also recognizing that there are physiological factors influencing both. It can help if you just roll with it, and stay open to the idea that just because this particular thought exercise didn’t reveal anything new, doesn’t mean you’ll never get better.

        I wish you well.

      1. gr8 candidate*

        I like what Colette said… The kind of work that I do, combined with living alone dammit keep me on a regular schedule with my therapist. I need someone who can objectively and accurately monitor changes in depression/anxiety. I am also able to process events and conversations with my therapist that I am not able to do with a peer group (I am in a remote area). Having an appointment to look forward to is comforting. I also know I am able to call for an earlier appointment if I need it. This reduces a lot of my stress.

        Only you can determine what your priorities are in therapy. Don’t hesitate to make a change if your therapist doesn’t ‘get’ you. A good person to ask for suggestions of who might be a good match might be your physician. If you are a student, University counseling centers are great for transition issues, stress, identity stuff. If you have EAP, after your free sessions it may be possible to continue with that therapist – if not they will be skilled at referral.

        I refer to my meds as Mental Wellness prescriptions, and the time with my therapist as an investment in me.

        Seeking help is a sign of strength. All the best to you.

  34. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Dinner tonight, I’m channeling my Southern mother.

    barbecue pork chops (or, really, pork chops with barbecue sauce)
    butter beans
    corn bread

    We went out and had the most delicious Turkish food on Friday night which somehow gave me the urge to 180 to family food of my roots.

    Meanwhile, I don’t know what my kids would consider the food of their roots. It’s always been pretty eclectic. I hope the answer isn’t “chicken nuggets & pizza” when they are my age. :/ (ergh, it might be. they ate a lot of of that when they were kids)

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      posted too soon.

      The last part was supposed to be, what’s for dinner in your house + what’s the food of your roots + omg, are your kids going to “chicken nuggets & pizza” also??

      1. salad fingers*

        Really toying with the idea of vegetarian pot pies for my boyfriend, brother and I. I want to replicate the amazing mushroom and kale one I we had a couple of weeks ago at our local pot pie place (Chicago people — if you have not already been, go to Pleasant House Bakery in Bridgeport post haste).

        Can’t answer the kid part as I don’t have any, but the food of my roots was, stated simply, bland as hell. My mom is afraid of flavor. She hates salt. We were raised on lentil soups and moderately season baked meats, no red dye number whatever, sorta granola-y health nut meets Midwestern meat n potatoes meets afraid of flavor. My brother has overcompensated for our childhood by oversalting things and being maybe the only person in the history of forever to request MSG in his food when we go out for Chinese.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          I literally laughed out loud at requesting MSG. That’s terrific.

          Mushroom and kale pot pie!

          Are you making your own crust? I’m afraid of crust. I love pot pie but have never made one. I don’t think I want to make crust, which, I have also never made.

          1. salad fingers*

            You heard right, Wakeen — mushroom and kale pot pie. Just as glorious as it sounds. I really appreciate that this place’s vegetarian option is a viable, stand upright on its own two feet, delicious addition to the menu. They also have (where is Elizabeth for this) minted peas and a scotch egg and all other kinds of British goodness too. Really recommend.

            I am also afraid of crust, which is why there’s some toying but no real commitment yet. Yes, I think I’d need to make the crust myself. I don’t have ramekins though, so some adjustments will need to be made, making the whole idea of crust even more daunting.

            By the way, I respect the hell out of any adult who is employed and cooks frequently for themselves, and I respect the hell even more out of any adult who is employed and cooks frequently for themselves and their kids. I say my mom’s food was bland (and it was, is) but I am super impressed in hindsight that she was able to work full time and cook us dinner so often. I’m sure your kids will have fond memories/admiration for whatever you have made them so far, chicken nuggets and bbq pork chops and all.

            1. Colette*

              Crust is not that scary. It’s a bit finicky to roll, but as long as you realize you can just put it back into a ball and start over or patch the holes with other crust, it’s not a big deal.

              (Having said that, I tend to assume I can do anything, so I’ve tried a lot of things that scare people. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I don’t.)

              1. Anonyby*

                Very much agreed on crust, Colette!

                And I tend to be the same way. For most things in my life my confidence levels are in the pit, but give me a crafty/cooking/baking thing to do and I’ll jump right in! I actually tend towards ‘overconfident’ and then get myself into messes that way that I need to scramble to fix. lol

                1. Colette*

                  Yeah, I’ve definitely been overconfident on a few projects – or at least underestimated how much time & effort it would take. The thing is that the more crazy projects I do, the better I get at sticking with it and getting it done.

      2. fposte*

        Food of my roots is Cheez Whiz and Spaghettios; sounds like salad fingers and I may have had similar culinary upbringings. It’s amazing I can tolerate any flavor, really.

        1. salad fingers*

          Oh no, fposte — Cheez Whiz would have had too much flavor. Our “junk food” was unsalted pretzels. I would have tried to invite myself over for dinner at your house every night :)

            1. salad fingers*

              And fposte, please help yourself to as many unsalted pretzels as you can manage to choke down.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The food of my roots is Eastern European Jewish– brisket, matzo ball soup, kugel, gefilte fish, etc. I spent a long time in my 20s perfecting the dishes my mom and grandmom make and learning how to do all kinds of stuff. I still do it, with a twist– my bf is a vegetarian and we have a vegetarian household. No more brisket! And mine was famous! But I do vegetarian tzimmes and matzo ball soup and stuffed cabbage with bulgur instead of meat. I also make really good potato latkes and host a Chanukah party every year for which I wear an apron and stand over the stove the entire time and I love it.

        I eat and cook everything, though– all kinds of cuisine. We’re pretty partial to Indian and Mexican flavors, and I love to make Thai and Korean dishes (I recently finished eating my first batch of kimchi, and it was so good– I have to set up some more this week). Tonight, I’m not sure. I’m probably going to put up some candied jalapenos (I like to pickle) and we have kale and potatoes in the house, so I might make a kale, potato, and white bean stew. I tend to improvise based on what’s in the pantry and fridge.

        When we had the rescue group over, I made a giant pot of whole wheat rotini with a tomato-and-spinach sauce, added a dollop of ricotta. I also baked a loaf of bread (that’s my new thing) and made an apple-oatmeal crisp. So easy, so freaking good.

      4. Anonyby*

        Dinner tonight is probably going to be fast food on my way to friends’ house for game night. lol

        What I consider the “food of my roots” is mostly mexican stuff, recipes my southern grandma got from her mexican MIL and others she found in magazines. While I know the weekly family dinners with her had other things (chicken caccitore, ribs, steaks, chicken kabobs), mexican food was what we all requested the most. Always with homemade refried beans, rice, and tortillas that were heated on a comal and kept warm in special serving container. We’d usually have two main courses to go with it, ranging from enchiladas, chile rellenos, gorditas, tacos, tamales, to tamale pie…

        What I had most of growing up were things like Hamburger Helper and burgers cooked on the stove with mashed potatoes and veggies (and mushroom “gravy” for my parents). Lots of ground beef, lots of boxed stuff. Mom had to work all day, then deal with whiny hungry working-on-homework kid(s) while she threw food together, and most of the dinners she learned from her mom were not quick meals.

      5. Blue_eyes*

        Tonight I made African Peanut Stew (recipe from Budget Bytes). Served with rolls, cheese, and homemade dulce de membrillo (quince paste).

        The food of my roots…that’s a tough one. My dad always cooked at our house and his repertoire was a fairly eclectic mix of American, Italian, and anything that struck his fancy. My dad’s grandfather came over from Germany, so in the past few years my dad has been delving into German cuisine as a way to connect with his roots. I guess my roots would be whatever my dad cooked for me as a kid, but I don’t cook many of those dishes now. Growing up we ate a lot of meat, and now I eat mostly vegetarian and keep a kosher home, so I pretty much had to find all new recipes to create a core of household favorites. I’ve also been exploring traditional Jewish foods, especially for holidays (mainly Eastern European style because that’s where my husband’s family is from).

    2. Diet Coke Addict*

      I ate my fair share of Kraft Dinner as a kid, but I like to think my culinary tastes are nicely varied, now! When I think of “home cooking,” it’s all the Polish food my mom made (pierogies, sauerkraut, kielbasa, cabbage rolls, angel wings, kasza) and a healthy helping of the traditional Midwestern dishes that she knocked out of the park. Meatloaf, beef stew, potato salad, cole slaw, homemade burgers, everything.

      Weirdly, more than anything, what I miss almost more than anything is weekend lunches at my parents’ place. Sandwich fixings and rye bread (sandwich spread, yum!), a bag of Better-Made chips, Vernors/Faygo to drink, and the weekend paper or a book, and the TV on in the background. I can recreate my mom’s dinner recipes, but I can’t recreate that feeling of quiet contentment (and I miss those amazing chips and Vernors!) from those days. I can’t explain it.

    3. Colette*

      In my family, it’s macaroni and cheese (not the boxed stuff – cook macaroni, put 1/2 in the bottom of a casserole dish, add a layer of cheese, put in the rest of the macaroni, cover with cheese, add milk until it’s almost at the top layer of cheese, bake 45 minutes), big pancakes (sort of crepe-like, one covers the bottom of the frying pan), plum knaddle (sp? plums surrounded in potato-dough and boiled), and cabbage rolls. In retrospect, it’s mostly dishes with little meat, because meat was expensive.

    4. Natalie*

      Made lasagna with spicy italian sausage and served with green beans. It was pretty good, although the presentation on the lasagna was not my favorite. And no-boil lasagna noodles are a gift from the gods.

      I typically make a large dish on Sundays and take it to work all week. A while back I invited my beau for dinner since I had made too much mac and cheese, and since then Sunday dinners are a thing for us. Funny how something can start practical and become ritual.

  35. FD*

    I’m feeling a bit down about my cat just now.

    I adopted a senior cat who’d been out on her own for a long time. I knew going into it that she’d have some behavioral issues. For the first few months, I couldn’t pet her for more than a few minutes at a time without her biting or scratching me. We’ve been doing really well recently, though, and I’ve gotten her to the point where she lets me brush her for at least a few minutes before she bats the brush away. (And usually, she does that with a warning swipe instead of the claws.)

    But yesterday, she escalated suddenly and bit my hand pretty solidly, as well as doing the wrap-around-with-claws thing. I know it just happens sometimes, but I’m feeling really upset about it.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure if this is a good idea or not. But there are calming herbals for pets on the market. If you can find something and sprinkle it in her food it might help.

      I am working with a product now for my dog. He does not bite or do mean things but he is into everything all. the. time. His on switch is always ON. It’s been five years of this and I am tired. Now he’s hurt his back because of his silliness and I have to keep him calmer. So we are trying this. I got it from a veterinary-chiropractor that does acupuncture/Chinese medicine and so on.

      Definitely talk to a professional of some type at this point. It is the most fair thing you can do for yourself and your animal. I would not attempt this alone.

      1. FD*

        Oh, I have. Part of her improvement is due to using a combination of Feliway and a daily Glyco-Flex chewable for her arthritis, at the vet’s recommendation.

    2. skyline*

      I’ve found that some otherwise well-adjusted cats don’t do petting or brushing: they are too easily overstimulated by it, or they might find it painful if they have an underlying medical issue, like arthritis. I know it’s sad as their human to think you may not be able to pet them, but sometimes cats aren’t into petting or brushing (or being in your lap, or being picked up). Has your cat been to the vet to see if there might be a reason she reacts the way she does? Or, perhaps you could find other ways to bond with her like playing with toys on a wand?

      (If she’s a long-haired cat and needs brushing to avoid mats, and thus the brushing has to happen at some level, maybe your vet can give you some strategies? Like rewarding her when she lets you brush her with treats, etc?)

      1. FD*

        The brushing is necessary, because she has arthritis and cannot fully groom herself. If I don’t brush her, she gets very bad and painful mats. I know that part of the reason she reacts the way she does is that it’s uncomfortable, but there isn’t really away around it.

        I’ve had to have her into the vet for a sedate-and-groom a couple of times. With strangers, she’s much worse, and she’s very hard to get into her box to begin with. They’ve had to fully put her under both times just so they could take care of the mats. I’m trying to avoid having to do it again because it’s pretty traumatic for her–but that means that I have to brush her soon enough to head the mats off.

        1. Layla*

          Instead of a box , try a sling carrier. I’m not sure why we took so long to get one for our cat. I’m quite sure it was easier putting her in a bag vs a hard carrier

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Good points, it could be that the cat is not getting enough relief from the arthritis stuff or it could be that she has a tender spot where OP was brushing her. Tender spots on older cats can flair up very quickly.

        OP, I tend to do a take with one hand, give with the other hand thing with my animals. Where I am going here is I hope you wagged your finger at her and told her no-no. That would be my taking hand. My giving hand would be to check into these other things here and see what can be done.

        I looked at the Feliway. It looks like you spray it around the house? Maybe she needs additional calming support- something that she would take internally.

        But yeah, it sucks when they turn on you like that for seemingly no reason. Trust your gut. You are saying things were going well. So, probably it is and you will figure out what she is saying very soon.

    3. weasel007*

      We adopted a Tortie Siamese, who is what we call “Permanently needing a midol”. She can be sweet, but on her own terms. Watch carefully for her signals. Our kitty will let us scratch her for what feels like forever but only on her head. We discovered that she has some athritis in her hips. The moment we go to her back, it is biting scratching time and it feels like it comes out of no where. In reality, her signals are there, we were just not watching for them.

      An older kitty that was on her own may have arthritis, an injury or just not like certain parts of her body touched. Regardless, you need to learn her signals, and discover that moment right before her pupils get big, ears go down and biting starts. Good luck!

  36. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*


    I’m watching more current network TV than I have in years. I think the part where the networks didn’t go cancellation crazy helped get me back on board + being able to backwatch on Hulu or On Demand to catch up once I felts like the shows weren’t going to be cancelled straight off. (I’ve been burnt way too many times, getting into a cool show and having it ripped away before resolution.)

    Anyway, enjoying:

    The Blacklist
    The Good Wife (of course! some years that has been my only network show)
    How to Get Away with Murder
    Mysteries of Laura (I love Debra Messing + procedurals, it’s just cute)
    Forever (was waiting to hear it wasn’t canceled, it got a full season run)
    Castle (very late to the Castle game. I started watching it on Hulu last year and couldn’t stop)

    I think that’s it. Nothing is amazing but I’m enjoying all of them. I don’t know if the networks are getting better or I’m just in a different mind space. They feel more like the fun shows that I’ve been watching on USA and TNT in the stead of dealing with the networks vs not trying to be like the great cable dramas.

    * except The Good Wife which is the best show on television of any type period, says me.

    What are you enjoying? I still have time to catch up on the season.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I just did that marathon, although I’ve held off on the last season because I don’t want it to be over.

        Liza Weil (Paris!) is on How to Get Away With Murder, btw, all grown up.
        And of course, Matt Czurchry (Logan!) is Cary Agos on The Good Wife.

        Stars Hollow FTW.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Yes yes yes! I’ve just started season 3. I watched it all when it originally aired, but it’s so different watching it now that I’m in my late twenties instead of being a teenager. Seeing it again now that I’m much more in Lorelai’s age bracket than Rory’s gives a whole new perspective. I’ve found myself much more interested in/connected to the plot lines between Lorelai and her parents than I was the first time around. My husband claims he doesn’t like it and tries not to watch it with me, but then he’ll wander into the room and stand there for 10 minutes or more watching it and laughing at the jokes!

        I feel like it’s aged really well too. Since so many of the references were already dated when the show was made, they don’t seem especially out place. Except Rory’s pager, that detail totally stands out now.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Ah, I got behind on that a few years ago and there’s nowhere to catch up reliably. (I’m insane about watching eps of shows I like, in order. ) I’ll be in the old age home by the time it’s streaming on Netflix.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          BBT was one of the few shows we actually paid to watch via Amazon streaming when we went a couple years with no cable/satellite.

          And duh, of course you have to watch them in order, right? There’s a reason they call them series.

    1. Mister Pickle*

      We’re still working through The Blacklist, it’s great stuff but not feeling any hurry to catch up.

      The Good Wife is consistently fun. I sometimes wish they’d give Lisbeth Tascioni her own show. (Am I an awful person for thinking she’s kinda hot?)

      Mysteries of Laura is fairly good – I think of it as another one of those shows that would sink if its main character jumped ship. Debra Messing certainly has charisma.

      The latest episode of Downton Abbey ended with something of a gut-wrenching cliffhanger and I’m probably not going to like how it is resolved.

      I’ve just been letting How To Get Away With Murder sorta wash over me, I’m not really paying close attention to any of the plot arcs, but every so often something interesting will happen.

      I’ve been trying to give Constantine a chance, but there’s a certain lack of Keanu Reeves that I can’t ignore.

      I don’t understand it at all but my wife has been getting into a show called Selfie.

      Also, I’ve been enjoying @Midnight on Comedy Central.

        1. Persephone Mulberry*

          Selfie just got canceled. :( They may or may not air all of the 13 episodes that got taped.

    2. Mimmy*

      Aside from Big Bang Theory (mentioned above), another network show I’m enjoying is a new show called Red Band Society. It’s about several teens who meet in a hospital–they have various illnesses such as cancer and heart issues. The voice over narration is actually by a kid in a coma. Octavia Spencer plays a nurse. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I like it because it is clearly geared to young adults–I’m 41–but the person who recommended the show is also about my age!

      Other than that, we mainly just watch cable and Netflix series. Right now, we’re watching Homeland and, beginning tonight, season 3 of Newsroom!

    3. Trixie*

      Hell on Wheels in outstanding on so many levels, yet does not receive same post-episode discussion of other stellar shows. Also, Walking Dead. Once you get passed the zombie part, so much more going on. And they’re both on Netflix.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I finally got caught up on Once Upon a Time–I missed a bunch whilst I was gone. Same with The Walking Dead, though I missed one a couple of weeks ago! And I’ve missed so much of Season 2 of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that I think I’ll just wait for the season to be over or break and just catch up then.

    5. Persephone Mulberry*

      Shows which we are currently DVRing:
      How to Get Away with Murder
      Doctor Who
      Big Bang Theory
      Selfie (RIP) :(
      Agents of SHIELD
      The Profit

      Shows I am anxiously awaiting the return of:
      Downton Abbey

      Shows we are currently catching up on:
      Sleepy Hollow

      Shows I keep hearing I should be watching but haven’t gotten into the rotation yet:
      The Good Wife

      I hear Friends is coming to Netflix in January. <3

      1. The IT Manager*

        I am also eagerly awaiting the return of Downton Abbey and desperately trying to dodge spoilers.

        Not sure how much longer it can go on though as it seems to be suffering soap opera syndrome – (1) eventually too much melodramatic stuff happens to the same characters. (2) Crawley family (upstairs) can’t realistically handle loss of more key family members. The downstairs servants can leave and be replaced, but family can’t handle it nearly as well.

  37. Vancouver Reader*

    @the gold digger, I don’t know if I should thank you or curse you for getting me onto Jeff Abbott. All I want to do now is sit and read. His books are like literary crack.

  38. Lamington*

    Hi there! I just got a crockpot but my chicken came out bland. Do you guys have recipes suggestions for crockpots, (not bean related). Thank you!

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I make a simple chicken soup. I use organic chicken broth and McCormick’s poultry seasoning. Then I throw in whatever veggies I happen to have. It never comes out the same twice. My trick is to cut everything up pretty small and to try to keep everything about the same size. For some reason that matters to me a bunch.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I throw in anything I have around. I’ll put in any marinade + a bit of water and it comes out well. Last week I did a Goya Bitter Orange Marniade and some water with chicken thighs, and then finished the thighs under the broiler to get the skin crispy.

      I don’t think you can go wrong with some chicken broth, carrots & onions. That just ends up being delicious.

    3. Cheesecake*

      Short ribs in the crockpot with a soy-ginger-garlic marinade are divine.

      Also homemade applesauce is easy and wonderful.

    4. Anonyby*

      And some general tips… Flavors tend to dull in crock pots over long cooking times. So adding more flavorents up front (spices, dry herbs, etc) will help with that. As will adding a dose of fresh herbs, or a quick dash of something acidic (flavored vinegar, citrus juice, etc).

      My family would have stew or pot roast in the crock pot. I also have a bottom-heat-only slow cooker that I like to cook chicken pieces or pork chops in, usually with a packet of seasoning, some vinegar, and a cup of broth. That doesn’t work with the all-around-heat ones though, since you run the danger of cracking the crock by not having enough food mass inside.

      I love to go look at Crockpot365 for ideas!

    5. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      When I’m extremely short on time, I pour in some canned chicken soup with the chicken in my crockpot and it is delicious.

    6. Erin*

      One of my very favorite crock pot meals is chicken and biscuits. I use the recipe from allrecipes but I use way more seasoning than called for. I season the chicken with poultry seasoning, pepper, garlic powder and a bit of paprika. I also usually add rosemary or Italian seasoning blend. I then follow the directions as listed, but when I shred the chicken and add the biscuits, I taste the sauce and usually add more seasoning. Be careful with salt though, as the canned soups and broth usually already have loads, even the reduced sodium versions.

      Slow cooker chicken tikka masala is really good. My kids (2 and 5) don’t love it, so I don’t make it very often, but it’s not bland at all!

      I make slow cooker BBQ chicken a lot too. I do add a bit of garlic powder, pepper and usually just a touch of chili powder, but it’s always delicious! Use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce – the BBQ sauce needs to be something tasty because it really makes or breaks the recipe.

      We also enjoy chicken cordon blue in a crock pot.

      The rest of my favorite crock pot recipes have beans in them (like chili, chicken taco soup, etc) but the above are all family favorites and not bland at all (though like I said, I always add more seasoning than the recipe calls for.)

    7. Nicole*

      If you like Chinese food, you might like this one. I use less honey than the recipe calls for, though.

      I also love this crock pot pineapple chicken recipe. The chicken always comes out juicy.

      BBQ chicken in the crock pot is always good too.

      I keep an eye on the chicken for all of these to make sure it doesn’t overcook and get too dry.

    8. Natalie*

      If it works for your application (such as tacos) chicken can be braised in salsa and it’s delicious. You can use salsa as spicy as you generally like, or spicier if you are going to temper it with dairy or what have you.

  39. Beth Anne*

    So I moved out of my moms place and in with a friend last week! People were making a BIG deal about it and were all “good luck on your new adventure!” like I moved to Africa. My mom only lives 30 minutes away. And believe it or not what I am paying here is basically what I was paying my mom for rent. And I’ve been paying my own bills for YEARS.

    People are weird I guess. The bad thing about the move was my dresser and desk basically fell apart so I spent a lot of time this week looking for new ones and putting furniture together. But I’m pretty impressed at how unpacked I am in the week since I’ve been here. I couldn’t bring my cats with me here though and I kind of miss them :( I’ll have to go visit my mom so I can see them.

    1. danr*

      Or course it’s an Adventure… you wouldn’t have a new dresser and desk without the move. [grin].

    2. TL -*

      The biggest difference is learning to deal with stuff on your own – without parental support (assuming you had a halfway decent relationship with your mom.)
      Paying bills isn’t nearly as hard as the first time you get sick and have to be an actual, real, 100% adult about it.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      LOL, I know–I keep getting “Did you go to the UK all by yourself?” Well yes I DID–I’m not five years old! :P

      Re unpacking: you’re doing better than I am. I just today unpacked my souvenir bag!

    4. HR Manager*

      Maybe they are referring to the adventures you will have now that your parents aren’t hovering over you? I had the same experience – I was actually paying for all my parents’ household expenses while I lived there after college, but I couldn’t take it a few years later and had to cut the strings (their strings to me!). They whined and cried a bit and thought their world would end, but lo and behold they survived without my being there to open up every piece of mail they received.

  40. Cheesecake*

    Has anyone had their Skype account disappear?

    I hadn’t used Skype since it was integrated with Microsoft and when I went to sign into my account today, it was gone. “This account doesn’t exist.” I even contacted customer support and they just told me to make a new account with my Microsoft email.

    I am sad that I lost my contacts, some were people I met long ago and will have trouble finding again.

  41. ZSD*

    Last week I asked about writing to a friend who’s been ignoring me to ask to start over. I just wanted to mention that I wrote to him (incorporating some of the advice I got here), but he still hasn’t responded. Oh, well.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Aww. I’m sorry. Keep some positive thoughts going on and maybe in a while he will answer. Sometimes these stories take a loooong time to play out.

  42. AcademicAnon*

    Update form the last vent post – another funeral for another family member is likely in the near future which will put me and spouse up to 6 funerals in 7 months. At least I’m starting to get caught up on housework, laundry, dishes and the like and should be completely caught up in work by the end of the month. Another plus is spouse has likely found another job where he will be much happier at. Pays a little less, but will be an upgraded job title for him and more flex time.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am going to say something that may seem radical, please bear with me.

      You can stop going to all these funerals if you want. You do not have to go to them all. Especially if it is weighing down your mind and heart.

      After my husband passed, I went to a double funeral. Gosh that was hard. When I came back my pastor said “Uhh… when widows resume going to funerals they typically do NOT pick double funerals with mile and half long funeral processions.” It NEVER occurred to me that I did not have to go. But it is true. We do not have to go to every single funeral that seems like we should go.
      Only you know what is best for you and how much you can handle. But I encourage you to understand your limits and keep to your limits.

  43. Sarah in DC*

    Anyone have recommendations on sun lamps? I have diagnosed depression that is definitely exacerbated by the lack of light in winter and my doctor recommend I get a lamp, but didn’t have a lot of other info. The info I found from a quick Google search was overwhelming, so I thought I’d turn to the smartest people on the internet I know.

    1. Livin' in a Box*

      OttLites are pretty good. I have a few in my house and they definitely make the short winter days more bearable.

    2. Monodon monoceros*

      I live where it will soon be dark 24hrs/day for the next 3 months. Last winter I bought a Philips goLite blu lamp and I think it really helped. The key is to use it in the morning when you first get up. The best thing would be to spring for the one with the alarm setting on it, so that you wake up to the artificial sun light, but the real ones that are the sun replacement light with the alarm are spendy (you can get cheaper ones that are just a regular bulb, but you really probably do need the sun replacement light)

    3. Cheesecake*

      I use the Lightphoria 10,000 Lux portable lamp. It works quite well. Currently $70 on amazon. I would hesitate to buy anything much cheaper than that as you need the very high light (at least 10,000 Lux) while also have a UV shield so you don’t get extra radiation.

  44. Tara*

    I’m having a really hard week. I forgot my phone in the bathroom at school, and it took me about thirty minutes to track it down (someone handed it into the office, thank god). It was in for warranty repair for a while and I got used to the feeling of it not being in my pocket. The admin started giving me a big lecture about being responsible with my things, and I know she’s right, but I was so incredibly stressed out already that the moment I was out the door I was hyperventilating in the corridor and I ended up clawing my hands so hard I was bleeding. I started my university application, and it’s so frustrating. It’s not enough that I have a 96% average and I volunteer, no, I should be doing four other activities that relate somehow to my choice of program! I’m sorry, but maintaining that 96% average so you’ll even consider me for admission takes up a lot of my time!

    My dad had a drug addiction before I was born (about 19 years ago, I think) and he relapsed about 6 months ago. We stayed with my mom for a while before he got it together, but he relapsed again during our week at her house about a month ago and he dropped out of the class 4 license program he’s taking on Friday and used again. He’s adamant that he’d never use when we’re around, and I believe him, but knowing I’m going back to his house tomorrow is like a weight in my chest. He constantly tells me I’m his “best friend”, and I’ve let him put me into the role of confidant for so long there’s no changing it. I’m so scared he’s going to hurt himself. When he first called my mom to tell her about his relapse six months ago, he was talking about killing himself and I keep having nightmares.

    I’m trying to be positive and upbeat because that’s what everyone needs from me, but there’s no one I can talk to and I just feel so overwhelmed. He keeps acting like the drugs are ‘no big deal’ and when I’m around him 24/7 I start feeling like he’s right and I’m the crazy one. I feel selfish for being worried about silly things like schoolwork and university when he’s struggling with this massive demon, but this stuff matters to me. I guess I’m posting this here because I feel so alone in real life.

    In an effort to bring a slightly more upbeat vibe to this post, I won a $1000 scholarship!

    1. BB*

      Congrats on your scholarship!! :)

      In regards to your dad’s situation, do you know what happened in his life before he started relapsing? If he has considered killing himself, perhaps he should try to seek professional help. You should also try to find a support group for others in your situation. It exists.

      You can’t make him stop but you can support him. Although if you decide to stay at his house, this will affect your schooling. If you do decide to stay next to your dad, you may have to consider going to school part-time. Think about your options.

      Also try not to worry so much. I know it’s hard but there’s not a lot you can do and since worrying isn’t going to help, you don’t want to put yourself through that emotionally.

      1. Observer*

        This is NOT her job and it’s not her place. She cannot, and SHOULD NOT consider staying with her father and endangering her schooling. And she most definitely should NOT be looking at what triggered her father’s relapse! She is NOT his parent, much less therapist, and she is already way to enmeshed in a parentified relationship which not fair to her, nor healthy for EITHER of them.

        1. Artemesia*

          This. Let’s hope she doesn’t let her father suck her life down the same drain his is going down. Kids pushed into the role of parent have a tough time — the grownups here need to deal and this young person needs to move ahead building her own strong life. Addicts are notoriously hard for anyone else to help; all trying will do is make her life miserable as well.

    2. mirror*

      That’s truly a tough position to be in. Good for you for having such good grades and getting a scholarship in spite of all the stress at home! And screw that admin, I find it condescending to be told to be more responsible when it was just an innocent mistake. It’s not like you let a puppy loose on a freeway. It’s a freakin’ phone that can be replaced.

      While not exactly the same, my mom has struggled with alcoholism. We’ve always been close, but a few years ago she started the down the same path: treating me as her best friend and confidant to all her personal issues (things that were really between her and my dad). I had to shut it down. The child should not have to be the parent. You can’t control your dad, and only he can help himself. Addicts are good at lying to themselves. He was sober for 19 years, so it must mean that it was a big deal to stay clean. He needs to choose to stay clean for you/b> and he needs to find help outside the family–AA, therapist, sponsor, etc. I would encourage you to visit AA yourself, the people there can be really helpful in giving support and advice to the affected family members. They will listen and help you.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Okay, you have to start taking care of yourself right now. You so seriously do.

      Please consider going to AlAnon, reading up now about codependency and please take advantage of campus resources for adult children of addiction. Please. If you are at school, those resources are available to you probably more readily than at any other point in your life, through your campus counseling center.

      Please do this.

      I’m an adult child and it took me so very very long to stamp out the bad habits of codependency in my life. So very long. When you work on this, you’ll have the healthy relationships in your life that you deserve.

      None of this will fix your father, because he’s the only one who can do that. What it will do is teach you what’s healthy and how to bring that to you.

      Hugs! (campus counseling center, please)

    4. fposte*

      That sounds like an awful lot to me, Tara. And honestly, you’re the kid–it’s not your job to make sure your father doesn’t overrely on you, it’s his job, and he’s not doing it so well. Any chance your school has a counselor you could unload on for this? What about Nar-Anon/Alateen kind of groups for family of substance addicts? I know they can be really helpful in confirming what you’re seeing and experiencing.

      And good luck to you on the applications.

    5. Observer*

      This stuff DOES matter. You are right, and to the extent that your father makes you feel that his problems are “more important” FOR YOU to deal with, he is wrong.

      If you are a legal adult, consider moving in with your mother full time. It is NOT your job to keep your father from using. And, I don’t care what he is promising you, there is NO WAY you should trust his promise that he wouldn’t use around you. It’s not that he doesn’t love you. But, he has gotten into the habit of putting your needs AFTER his NOT before. And, once you are dealing with additions all bets are off. Think about this – he’s just put his life on the fast track to nowhere (or worse). Do you really think he’s going to be able to keep himself from using just because you are around? Maybe for a few months, but unless he cleans up again, it’s just going to get worse.

      Is there no guidance counselor at school who you can talk to? If nothing else s/he should be able to point you to resources. Also, check out AlATeen – you are not the only young person dealing with a parent with addiction.

      Best of luck!

    6. Tara*

      Thank you so much for your comments and support, just talking about this has made me feel so much better. I think I will go in and talk to my school counselor tomorrow. I hadn’t realized there were groups for families of addicts, and I think it would be good to talk to someone who’s going through the same thing.

      1. Colette*

        I’m so glad you’re going to see the counselor. I hope that she gets you in touch with people who can help.

        If you ever do a first aid course, one of the first things you’ll talk about is that you don’t help someone if it’s not safe to do so. You can still call for help, but you don’t do anything that will put you at risk and end up with two victims instead of one.

        The same principle applies here.

        It’s not safe for you to be your dad’s confidant, and it’s not safe for you to be around him if he’s using. It’s OK – and necessary – to put what you need ahead of what he needs.

        That might mean telling your mom, or calling 911 if he starts using, or staying at a friend’s house, or saying “Dad, I can’t be the one you talk to about this”.

        It’s not your job to save him. It’s your job to save you.

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

    7. Emily*

      Congratulations on your scholarship!

      I’m so, so sorry about all of the other things you’re going through. You are not wrong for caring about your education or for being scared of your dad’s drug problem. Can you arrange to continue staying with your mom for now? You shouldn’t have to stay with him while he’s relapsing.

      Also, if you can get access to counseling services or therapy (maybe through your school, or maybe your mom can help you find someone?), you might benefit from talking to someone outside of your family about this.

      Seconding everyone who’s said that you should take care of yourself right now.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Echoing what others have said. It is going to take 15 people working 24/7 to pull your dad out of the black hole he has fallen into. No single person, including you, is going to fix this. Please don’t try.
      Please stay with your mom or another relative but not your dad. Focus on your schooling.

      Here is a poem that I kept on my fridge for years, the author is unknown:

      To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring, it means that I can’t do it for someone else.

      To let go is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization that I can’t control another.

      To let go is not to unable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.

      To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.

      To let go is not to try to change or blame another, I can only change myself.

      To let was not to care for, but to care about.

      To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

      To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.

      To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.

      To let go as not to be protective, it is to permit another to face reality.

      To let go is not to deny but to accept.

      To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.

      To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes, and to cherish the moment.

      To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone, but to try to become whatever dream I can be.

      To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.

      To let go is to feel less and to love more.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Every time I read it I find something I did not see before. It makes me think about my concerns in a different light.

  45. Anonyby*

    Since nobody’s started one yet… Weekly best and worst!

    Best: I was just given some new responsibilities at work (yay!).

    Worst: We thought we were coming up on a deadline for a family house that was meant to be left to me by my mother, and I went in to a panic because my father hadn’t gotten anything done on that though it was his responsibility (part avoiding-the-world-from-depression, part laziness). I managed to get a last-minute appointment with the attorney that handled my grandmother’s estate, and it turns out the panicking was for nothing. The house wasn’t written in to the will the way we all thought it was. And while that means we don’t have a hard deadline to get things done by… there’s still legal loose ends that Dad needs to clean up and it’ll be pretty much on me to make sure he does.

    1. Mimmy*

      Best: Met one of my classmates for the first time yesterday to work on a project together. She is so awesome!

      Worst: My friend being admitted for inpatient mental health treatment (which I posted about earlier today).

    2. Sail On, Sailor*

      Best: a) The book that my book club chose for this month is really good. b) Feeling like I’m finally getting caught up at work again. I’m not completely there yet—but feel like I can see the light at the end of what’s been a long tunnel.

      Worst: Have been really missing my Mom and Dad this week. (I lost Mom last year and Dad several years before that, but the pain never goes away.)

    3. Trixie*

      Best: Meeting with PTB this week about possibly teaching some yoga classes.

      Worst: Dealing with grown women who are really just mean high-school girls.

    4. ZSD*

      Best: My husband had a job interview on Friday and on the same day was invited to interview for a different job in a couple weeks.
      Worst: Our car is having engine trouble. We already spent over $300 to fix it, but the problem remains.

  46. BB*

    Anyone have any advice on how to get over the fear of public speaking? For me it’s not just in large group situations but small ones, too (and sometimes in one-on-one situations). I’ve looked into Toastmasters but I don’t have a reliable form of transportation to get me home from the evening meetings.


    1. Erin*

      I took an acting class through my city’s largest theater company. It was Saturday morning and public transportation was good because it was downtown in their large theater. Super fun and helped me a lot!

    2. mirror*

      What’s the root of your nerves? Have you played the “and then” game? See:

      (It’s written for photographers raising prices, but the idea is the same. Root out what’s holding you back and then work on improving that)

      I’m a quiet introvert until I get to know someone, but I think I’m pretty good at public speaking (at least others tell me so). My main strategy has no science to it, and it sounds silly but works: I pretend I’m my best friend, who is very energetic and outgoing. I channel her. In large group settings, I find the friendliest-looking face and talk to them, moving to the next friendliest-looking face. I pretend it’s only them in the room who I’m talking to. (this is backed up by research! Though also in a silly way: I think it was some class in Harvard who did it to their professor–one side of the room would smile at him, the other side didnt. The professor ended up on the far right side of the classroom for the whole lecture).

      I also dont worry if someone is “liking” what I’m saying. I’ve practiced, I like what I’m saying, I’ve had it proofread by peers–so it’s nothin’ to worry about. If someone doesnt like it, tough! There’s always someone.

    3. Trixie*

      Maybe more chitchat with random strangers, forcing you to talk more? Nothing major, just next person in line at store or library, casual conversations at work, etc.

    4. HR Manager*

      A lot of doing well in public speaking materials is having confidence in your communication and style. If you’re not there yet with a lot of practice, know the content well so that you can answer questions that pop up. It will do a lot to calm your nerves.

      Outside of professional training, a lot of this comes with practice. Practice in front of your friends, your team, and your family.

  47. LizH*

    Worst: had to put my dog down. Long story, relates to veterinary malpractice. Complaint has been filed w/state. Neurological, nothing could be done.

    No best

    1. Shortie*


      Liz, I am so sorry to hear this. I cannot imagine how you must be feeling right now. Virtual hugs to you. :-(

    2. Trixie*

      So, so sorry to hear this. Really hope dog wsn’t in any pain, and that were there with him/her until the end.

      1. LizH*

        I hope she wasn’t in pain either, but not sure. Her breathing was very labored. We had our chance to say goodby, she would not have made it much longer. Still heartbreaking and unnecessary.

      1. CaliSusan*

        Ooh, interesting! I’ve been thinking Annalise did it and asked the students to put all their learning to work and help her cover it up. I think we find out soon!

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      It’s such a trainwreck of a show, and yet I’m still watching. I can’t decide if Rebecca actually killed Sam (as much of this week’s episode is pointing toward), or if it’s a red herring.

      1. CaliSusan*

        My vote is red herring. I got the impression that she was trying to take the fall for someone else, as a way to pay back Nate and the others for helping her. I dunno though. I can’t wait to find out.

    2. reader*

      How about Bonnie, the assistant? She has just found out he’s not the man she has a crush on (long suffering husband). I think she or Annalise are the most likely if Rebecca didn’t do it in self defense.

  48. Cath in Canada*

    WHY does the Canadian passport renewal website say “if your passport expired less than a year ago you will not need to provide proof of citizenship or name change, or the names of references who can confirm your identify”, and then give me a renewal form that instructs me to provide the names of two references and enclose my marriage and citizenship certificates?! So frustrating. I was going to just mail my application, but now I think I’ll go to the passport office in person – I don’t want to mail my precious certificates and risk them being lost if I don’t actually have to.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        It has expired, but only for a couple of months. It’s supposed to be the same process for passports that haven’t expired & passports that expired less than a year ago.

        Oh well, at least they issue 10-year passports now – 5 years is just silly!

        1. Colette*

          Definitely, 10 years is much better!

          The last time I renewed mine (about a year ago), I went before work. I think they open at 7:30 and it took me about 5 minutes. I was at work earlier than I usually am.

          1. Shell*

            I live close to Cath, and, well…I went at 7:40 (they open at 7:30) on a weekday morning and it was packed. Barely got to work on time an hour later, and my office is close to the passport office.

            I swear next time I’m going to take the damn day off or something.

            On the bright side, Cath–they actually scan your certs on the spot and return the original to you (at least at the downtown office), despite what the website says, so it’s probably worth it to stop by in person. And the website also says regular service is 20 business days, express service (you pay extra) is 10 business days, but I received mine in 8 calendar days and I had a brand new passport (not renewal, mine was expired for 2+ years). So at least their speedy service makes up for the pain?

            1. Cath in Canada*

              It took about 2 hours yesterday from start to finish – not too bad considering the length of the line-up when I arrived!

              They said “nah, you’re right, you don’t need to provide proof of citizenship and name change”, and then five minutes later they asked to see those exact same documents. Oh well.

  49. Billy*

    I’m finally going to the lottery tomorrow to claim my prize…18 months later. And no,I didn’t win millions (I wish).

    I wanna use the funds to build a retirement fund. What do you all suggest I look into first?

    1. Judy*

      I’m a big fan of Scott Burns’ “Couch Potato Investing” strategies. He’s got a website at scottburns dot com.

  50. Lulubell*

    Probably too late for this, but I got a new car today (yay!) but it doesn’t have SiriusXM like my last one (boo!). I could have gotten the tech package upgrade, but frankly, I’m ready to move on from Sirius for a while. So my question is, what podcasts or other music service should I look into? Is Pandora worth upgrading to the paid service (I have the free one but barely listen b/c of the commercials)? Any suggestions would be great. FWIW, the only stations I even listened to on XM anymore were 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s, and CNN, with some Coffee House and The Bridge thrown in. I I listened to CNN almost exclusively on my weekday commutes, but found myself getting sick of them the last few months. (I would prefer to get Ebola at this point than to hear them report on it for another second.)

    1. Observer*

      look into grooveshark and spotify as well. The ads are annoyng, but if they do the kinds of play lists you like, it might be worth upgrading to the paid version. I found grooveshark to have the least intrusive ads.

  51. Ruthan*

    This is completely random, but I’m pretty sure the titular character of Strong Female Protagonist* shares a name with AAM! (Seems appropriate to me.)

    * There’s a good reason that’s the title, I promise!

  52. PuppyPetter*

    Okay, so a totally non work question that I hope your kitty cats can answer. Why do you eat so fast that you puke it up randomly throughout the house? And why are my duvet cover and the back of the suede couch your favorite spots to leave my your “gifts”?
    I’ve added some obstacles (golfballs/shower rings) into the food bowl to slow you down and one of you have gotten the hint but clearly, #2 cat still enjoys gulping food.
    Any suggestions for calming his tiny nervous tummy??? A change in food has made no difference…

    1. Trixie*

      You could start with smaller amounts of food so its more portion controlled. I’ve had luck with that. Also, how old is your kitty? At a certain age, I’ve found cats have a tougher time digesting dry food (especially high protein), so I’ll start giving them a little wet food. Canned food much easier on their tummies, and still a little dry food which is good for their teeth.

      1. PuppyPetter*

        thanks… I see that Purina makes a Gentle formula, planning to give that a try.
        I just hate dealing with wet food.
        Cats are 10 & 5 years old

  53. Not So NewReader*

    I hope you see this. Try raising the dish up a little bit. Sometimes if the dish is higher they will tend to eat slower. Put a book or a small board under it. See if she slows down somewhat.

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