Sunday open thread – December 28, 2014

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

Have at it.

{ 763 comments… read them below }

  1. ThursdaysGeek*

    Are you making any New Year’s Resolutions? If so, what are they?

    I resolved several years ago to not make resolutions, and it’s one resolution I’ve been able to keep. :)

    1. But What About The Nisha Call?*

      My resolution this year is pretty much just an extension of my last year’s resolution: travel and explore the world. My husband isn’t a travel lover in the same way that I am. He loves a tropical, relaxing beach vacation every once in a while (which I do, too), but once I start saying “Let’s go to Paris/Brussels/Cape Town/Singapore/wherever to explore” he’s not really interested. He’ll go along begrudgingly, but it’s really just not his thing. He would rather be comfortably at home, which is totally fine. But, after 22 years of marriage, this year I learned that I can do all those things on my own, and have a hell of a lot of fun doing it. I’ve gone to Hong Kong, Beijing, climbed the Great Wall of China, traveled through Andalucia, and explored Barcelona all on my own (while Skyping him and my kids every day, showing them the amazing backgrounds I’ve been in and missing them all like crazy). It’s been empowering and amazing and I’m going to keep on going. I work crazy hard at my job, but am lucky to have very extensive vacation time, and I’m taking advantage of it! I’ve got my sights set on Vietnam and Prague/Vienna/Budapest in 2015! (Also, my recurring New Year’s resolution is to floss daily. I’ve been resolving this for about 15 years, and I never manage to deliver.)

      1. The Earl Marshal*

        Exciting! I am looking forward to next year since I start a new job on January 14. I can finally take a REAL vacation (probably around Fall 2015) since the job pays more than double the last job I had in which I was laid off. Am planing to go to England and explore the many large country houses and castles that dot the countryside since it is a hobby of mine reading up on historic preservation and royal history…can’t wait!!!!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          If you’re in the US, you should join the Royal Oak Foundation, which is an organization for Americans who support the National Trust in Britain. It isn’t too expensive, and you get a little card that gives you free admission to National Trust properties. There’s a little parking sticker too, so if you’re renting a car (!) you can use that for freebies too. :)

          1. The Earl Marshal*

            I joined the Royal Oak Foundation last year as a Student (I’m 26) though I haven’t had a chance to attend any lectures or events yet….its great to come across someone who has knowledge of the Royal Oak Foundation/National Trust! Have you attended any lectures? The one with Lord Sackville-West discussing Knole seemed really interesting!

            1. Elizabeth West*

              No, I haven’t; although I would like to, they never have them anywhere near the hellhole in which I live. But it was nice to whip out my card and get into Ham House for free. And the admission lady was impressed that I supported it. Well of course I do. :)

              Also, I immediately read that as Sackville-Baggins, hahahaha.

      2. Schmitt*

        I use floss sticks obsessively. I’m sure they’re not as good as a complete floss – for me, especially not for the lower teeth – but they’re better than not flossing at all.

          1. Ludo*

            Yes, teeth are important. So is the environment. Solution? Use a reusable floss stick! You just have to wind your own floss AND you aren’t using all the extra plastic. Clean teeth + a touch longer stay here on planet Earth

      3. Apollo Warbucks*

        Prague is amazing, such a beautiful city.

        Like anywhere though watch out for scams, a mate of mine got ripped of when someone asked him to change some money (” will you swap your 1000 note for these two 500s”) the notes my mate got were not the local currency and were worth a fraction of what he’d given the scammer. And the less said about the argument my mate got us in with a crack whore / drug dealer and her pimp / minder the better.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Also don’t get on the trams or metro without validating your ticket in the machine at the entrance to the platform, there are on the spot fines for not having a validated ticket.

      4. Jordi*

        I like the way you think. I travel solo frequently and always have a blast.
        I don’t usually do resolutions, but I’m also making one to travel this year. And to just travel, but travel big. My job ends in July and instead of looking for a new one right away, I’m going to travel the world. Still planning but South Africa, Southeast Europe, and Australia and definite stops, and maybe the UK and part of Southeast Asia if I have more time!! I’m so excited!

      5. Dan*

        I travel solo a lot as well, but it’s something that i want to share with my next partner. I’m not sure how well I’d function in the relationship that you describe.

        1. But What About The Nisha Call?*

          I’d love my husband to join me, but certain types of travel we enjoy together, other types we don’t. Instead of making him unhappy, I’m focusing on making myself happy. Plus, we skype, I text him photos, and it’s working for us!

      6. Dr. Doll*

        That’s terrific! I’m very much like your husband — I do not like traveling. *My* husband is like you, LOVES traveling! I’m glad you found a solution. Have a fabulous time in 2015!

    2. Tara*

      My resolution for the year is to let go of negativity, stop obsessing about bad things, and try to appreciate my blessings in life a bit more. :)

        1. nep*

          Not really even ‘resolutions’ — just making the absolute best of every day, every moment. Not getting hung up on a resolution for the year then lamenting when I ‘break’ it. Every day’s a new chance to be healthy, be kind, be.

        1. Shari*

          Try headspace.com – the perfect app/wrbsite for starting and continuing meditation. I’d like to get back to yoga too. I just got a new job and am happy that the parking lot is a little bit of a walk, Evey little bit helps!

          1. saro*

            Thank you, I was just coming on to ask about meditation websites. I think 2015 will be my year to work on ‘being here now’.

    3. matcha123*

      My resolutions rarely change, but I’m trying to put more effort into accomplishing them. Saving money and getting in more exercise are the main ones.

    4. saro*

      I love resolutions but haven’t decided 2015 yet. Some years I do silly, like eat more thai food. And others I’m serious. Let’s just see…

    5. Phyllis Barlow*

      I resolved not to make resolutions I can’t keep, so this year my resolution is to read more books, and drink more wine. :-) On a serious note, I hope I can be a blessing to people I encounter in my work day.

    6. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I’m going on an “added sugar in form of sweets” ban, since it’s the one area of my diet that needs improvement — I eat healthily otherwise. Got a head start on it by getting a horrible stomach bug on Christmas Eve (my family just managed to have our belated Christmas dinner last night) and sugary things in particular were very unappealing for the last couple of days. Silver linings, people, silver linings!

      1. catsAreCool*

        I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar, too.

        I found a few things that help me: fruit strips (like fruit rollups, but 100% fruit) (Safeway has some that are actually tasty), dark chocolate (less sugar and more intense chocolate), and fruit.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          I can’t eat dark chocolate or citrus (I have wicked GERD) but a friend recommended mint tea with stevia, and that seems to be successful.

            1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

              Can’t do sparkling water either. I have a bartender’s challenge — What do you have that has no alcohol, no carbonation, no citrus, and no other known acid producers (tomato juice, e.g.)? Usually they just look at me and say “hmmmm… water.” Once in Charleston at the Husk bar, the bartender did whip up something with smoked pumpkin juice and a few other things , and it tasted awful, but I sat and sipped it gallantly just because I appreciated the inventive effort.

    7. Scott*

      My New Year’s resolution is to lose my belly. I exercise a lot and run 20K per week, but I also like to cook and eat. I’m not super fat but just slightly overweight.

      I can resist junk food and never eat it–soda, chips, etc. blecch but I love to cook dinners for friends and family and also love when they cook for me. I’m really good at cooking fish and pasta (homemade pasta and sauce from scratch).

      Unfortunately, I also love cheese A LOT and since I know quite a bit about it the low-fat varieties just don’t cut it in terms of taste.

      My after-work ritual is to join my wife and we have a glass of wine and some type of cheese that we alternate choosing.

      My wife says she “loves me as I am” but, of course, that’s what you’re supposed to say 😃

      I’m still in the “buffer zone”–a week before the resolution kicks in and haven’t quite decided how I’m going to do it–either run more each weeks so I can keep eating as I’ve been in the past, or try to cut down on my portions and, say, have smaller cubes of cheese, less pasta on the plate, cook the fish with less olive oil, etc.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Cheese is pretty damn hard to resist. I’d have to say it’s my favorite all-time, overall food. I just found some real British cheddar at ALDI and I’m having a cheese toastie right this second. x_x

        What helped me is eating less overall–and since my stomach is messed up anyway, if I eat too much, it lets me know. Boy does it.

      2. Melissa*

        From experience and reading, I think it’s easier to lose weight by eating less rather than exercising more (unless you weren’t exercising at all). Maybe try to meet halfway by running a bit more but also eating slightly smaller portions?

    8. Trixie*

      Practice more gratitude. Show more kindness, and less snarkiness. Experiment more in the kitchen, esp with slow cooker. Consume less meat, diet soda, and sugar. Drive less, and walk/bike instead. And splurge on a few little things here and there.

    9. Hermoine Granger*

      I’ve kept the same resolutions for the past few years but just try to do a bit better for each new year.

      – I got back into exercising this year and would like to possibly mix in some athletic activities in 2015. Most likely bike riding and swimming (once I learn how).
      – I love cheese and sweet desserts but they cause me to breakout. I’ve drastically reduced both this year and would like to keep on track next year. I’m hoping to find some alternatives so it doesn’t feel like I’m missing out.
      – I love traveling and took my first official vacation since 2010 this year. It was my first time traveling solo but I had a pretty good time. In the future I’d like to take at least two short trips per year and possibly a few day trips once I get a car.
      – Learn more about home buying / ownership and keep on track with my plans to buy my own place in a few years.
      – I’d like to make more time for relaxing and my hobbies. In particular, I’d like to get back into blogging and creative writing.

    10. Sarah in DC*

      Ooh I love this, I always like knowing what other peoples’ resolutions are. Mine are be better at staying in touch with old friends-more concretely reach out to 2 different people at least once a month, and make the doctors appts I’ve been putting off.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Back to the gym. And I just paid off a personal loan, so that money will now be going directly to the student loan people. I’d like to get those consolidated, but I might need some help to do so.

    12. KJR*

      My resolution is to make it through 2015 with my sanity intact. My daughter is graduating from high school (and might be the valedictorian!) and in August is leaving for a college that is 3-1/2 hours away. This is the most bittersweet year of my life so far. I’m so proud of her, and excited for her to start her life, but I am also feeling sad that it’s almost over. My role as her mom is about to change pretty drastically. I realize this is how it’s supposed to be, but knowing this doesn’t make it any easier. I’m sure looking back this time next year, I’ll be proud of all of us, but it’s the “getting there” that might be tricky!

    13. VintageLydia USA*

      I have two so far:

      1) Have more fun/stress less. I need to stop worrying about my house not being clean 24/7. My “terribad awful messy” house I know for a fact is less messy than many people’s “clean.” I do fewer fun things with my kid because I feel like I have to spend all day cleaning house, so he ends up just playing by himself more than he should. I’m all about independent play and I know it’s good for him, but I’m more hands off than I want to be and he’s missing out on a bunch of cool stuff because I prioritize a clean house over story time or play dates. Doesn’t help I compare my home to my mother’s, but she has a maid and is rarely home long enough to mess it up and definitely doesn’t have a toddler doing what toddlers do best. Maybe I’ll just hire a damn maid, myself!

      2) Get my professional organizing job off the ground. I joined the most popular professional association and I’ve been making contacts in a related industry and also with other women who freelance part time or own their own businesses in a variety of other industries. I need to take all that and do something with it. There are some classes I want to take, mostly about how to deal sensitively with clients because people are very very emotional about their stuff (as am I!) And also deciding if I want to go it alone off the bat or work as an assistant to someone else. I never really saw myself as a business owner and there is a lot to learn about that on top of learning about my chosen industry, but the idea doesn’t repel me the way it did even a year ago. I think it has something to do with meet all these other business owners over the last year.

    14. Anna*

      I just watched a TED Talk by a guy from Google who did 30 day challenges, so instead of resolutions, I’m going to try out some 30 day challenges. Nothing too hard to start out, but I want to ramp it up as time goes on. I think my husband and I have agreed that the first one will be that if we are staying in town (not traveling) we will eat dinner at home.

  2. Graciosa*

    I’d love to hear about –

    1. the best gift you gave this year (any time), and
    2. your favorite holiday tradition (any holiday).

    My own answers would be 1) a personal book of photos, and 2) driving around to look at Christmas lights.

    1. Natalie*

      1) best gift I gave – The Wood Book, to my bf. Ages ago someone made this reference book of all types of wood that had veneers of three different cuts for each type. That version is bonkers expensive, but they made a version with high res plates of the original veneers.

      2) Christmas stocking. I always open it on xmas eve, even if I’m alone. Because of having multiple families, my folks and I often do our Christmas the weekend before, but they leave my stocking with me. And there’s always a quarter in it.

      Alternatively, xmas TV show episodes. I watch them while cooking or wrapping presents or whatever. 30 Rock has some of my favorites.

    2. But What About The Nisha Call?*

      Best gift I gave: gorgeous kiddush cup made of handblown glass I bought on a trip to Barcelona, given as a wedding gift to one of my best friends, who is a rabbi.

      Favorite holiday tradition: every year at Thanksgiving, my family plays a dice game called seven-eleven. Everyone brings a bunch of cheap dollar store type presents in gift bags. We put the giant stack of presents in the middle of the table, then set a timer for about 15 minutes (tweaking allowed as necessary) and start rolling the dice. Roll a 7 = you get to choose a gift. Roll an 11 = you get to choose a gift and roll again. Roll doubles = you get to roll again. Keep passing the dice around until all the gifts in the middle of the table have been taken, then people start stealing gifts from each other when they roll 7 or 11. Every year, there’s one or two weirdly packaged gifts that people obsess over (“I’m taking the SpongeBob bag!” “No, now I’m stealing it back from you!”), and after it’s all over half of the stuff ends up going to the kids. But I’ve gotten some really useful things over the years, including a set of measuring cups I got back in college and have had for about 20 years now!

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        That sounds like a fun game! We used to play Dictionary at holiday gatherings, but it was decreed by my mother-in-law, and no-one has taken on the task of making us do games now that she is gone.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Best gift I gave was a bottle of Chanel #5 to my mom. My brother and I split it. She’s had a really hard year — my oldest brother died in January and this first round of holidays without him was pretty hard for her. I kept asking her what she wanted for Christmas, and she finally said that was the only thing she could think of that she really wanted, but didn’t want anyone to spend that much money on her. After thinking about it I realized that she said that exact same thing last year, and maybe the year before that too. So I decided she needed some. I’m really glad we did that — she was tickled. Told us we spent too much, but she was ticked.

    4. matcha123*

      Best gift. Hmm…that’s tough.
      I think paying my mom’s taxes and such was a pretty good gift :)

      As for traditions. Sometime in high school or university I decided I’d buy something, any thing on New Year’s Eve and try to keep it as something special throughout the year. Somewhat as a good luck charm. When I look at it, I’ll think of the reasons and feelings I had when I bought it.

    5. Must Be Anon for This*

      Best gift I gave this year: I was part of a group who helped a family in our neighborhood with 5 children celebrate Christmas and get back on their feet. All of us remained anonymous except the person who delivered everything.

      My favorite tradition: sauerkraut and pork on New Year’s Day.

    6. FD*

      1. My siblings and me gave my dad the complete Columbo collection. He loves that show and he was really happy with it.
      2. We always make lemon sugar cookies around Christmas time. They’re so delicious.

    7. OfficePrincess*

      1- I made wedding albums for my parents and my husband’s parents. My mom has been toting it everywhere to show it off. His parents said they like it too, but they aren’t the gushing type, so I don’t know if it’s a “oh they remembered us” or a “best gift ever!”.

      2- Living so far from our families, my husband and I are trying to find new traditions to start. I’m really interested in the other responses to see of they spark any ideas.

    8. Alistair*

      We didn’t get to do our usual tradition this year – I spent too much time on the road before Christmas. But anyway, we received a very nice set of Christmas ornaments at our wedding, and putting them on the tree and saying what they mean to each other has been our tradition since. Next year we shall try again!

    9. Tasha*

      1) Best gift I gave–Mom is redoing the kitchen one piece at a time in soapstone with ammonite fossil accents (she’s a bit of a science geek), so I got her a big polished ammonite to mount on the wall. It matches the smaller cabinet knobs she got for her November birthday.

      2) Best tradition–Cookie baking! Every year, I make a bunch of cookies (meaning several hundred total, five or six different kinds) for Christmas Day brunch and to send home with visiting relatives. Everyone likes getting something that’s yummy and doesn’t need to be dusted or stored.

    10. BRR*

      1) My husband’s grandma passed away last year and she was big on Christmas. I made caramels for my husband like she always made and got him a book from the genre she always would get him.

      2) My dad’s side always gets together for Thanksgiving and that in and of itself is my favorite tradition.

    11. Scott*

      1. I like to give “experience” gifts people will remember them instead of just giving toys or trinkets that they’ll toss aside. Examples: One Christmas I took my entire extended family to the Radio City Christmas show. My nephew is really into science and so I took him to a science museum, etc. Last year, I rented a boat for my wife and I to watch the New Year’s Eve fireworks on San Francisco Bay.

      2. Favorite tradition just decorating.

    12. Anonyby*

      1. The best gift… anything homemade. :) Which means soaps, homemade jam/jelly/fruit butter (gifts people love AND destashing in prep for making more! Win!), cookies…

      2. Unfortunately, my favorite holiday tradition (Christmas breakfast) petered out after my grandmother died a few years back. :( I’m enjoying the new-ish Easter tradition my friends started, even if the movie choices aren’t really to my taste, and I managed to get my nieces involved in Christmas Eve cookie baking this year (even if none were left for Santa!).

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Best gift gave: I gave my sister the pashmina I bought in Scotland (it wasn’t anything fancy, or even wool, but it was nice). I wasn’t going to but I ended up doing it. She loved it. I can always go back and get another one. :)

      Holiday tradition: when I was a kid, we used to drive around and look at Christmas lights. And in the autumn, we would have a big bonfire with all the tree branches we piled up over the summer and have a weenie roast and invite people over. I’d like to make an autumn party if (sigh) I ever have a family of my own.

      Now I’m bummed…. :\

      1. Saucy Minx*

        Best gift I ever gave was the year I made Santa hats for the family. They knew what they were getting, because I had to have their head measurements, plus they got to choose which color of velour: green, red, blue, or purple.

        Best tradition is only three years now. The day after Christmas we have the family dinner here, open the stockings, & then — this is the new part — we have a kazoo concert where we blast out Christmas music, but much of the time half the orchestra is wheezing & crying, before getting control & blasting out again.

    14. Anna*

      1. I can’t really think of the best gift I gave. Hmmm…

      2. Every year my best friend and I take a day off work and do a massive amount of gift wrapping together. There are drinks and conversation and it makes it go so quickly!

    1. Stephanie*

      Ugh, that sucks. I’m also prone to bad post-nasal drip, so any respiratory infection for me is a nightmare. I hope you feel better soon. Get as much rest and fluids as you can!

    2. Jean*

      Join the club and the self-pity party! All but throwing confetti here. As Bronchitis Tour Guide, I can tell you that your next step will probably be a spell of lying around with the energy of a dishrag and the intellect of a boiled mop. You’ll also get to watch your housekeeping go to hell–with a small exception for a portion of the kitchen if you have a dishwasher. I wish that bathrooms could similarly be soaped up, closed up, and set on “clean” cycle.

      1. ILiveToServe*

        Jean, you nailed it. I came into the kitchen this morning and just wanted to cry. I had all sorts of plans for the Holiday week. Working on the gratitudes. I don’t have to get on a plane tomorrow. School is out and I have no classes scheduled. The staff is perfectly capable of taking care of things in my absence. Modern medicine. My home is warm. My clothes are clean. I have citrus, toast and tea. I know there is a difference between “want” and “need” and I don’t need to do anything.

    3. Clever Name*

      I’m with you. Husband got sick Christmas Eve and pretty much slept for 2 days. I didn’t feel great on Christmas either, and am finally feeling better today. I hope to make Christmas dinner tonight. Our 8 year old has been a really good sport, as our fun plans for the holiday didn’t happen. He even shoveled the driveway without being asked. I hope you feel better soon! Being sick on break feels like such a waste!

  3. WednesdaysMisfit*

    I’ve been dating the same guy for a few years. He came to my family’s Christmas celebration for the first time this year. Everyone in my family (and my friends for that matter) adore him…except mother. She hates him and I don’t know why. He treats me well, we get along great, and he is a very hard worker.

    For what it’s worth, my mother is very protective of me because I’ve been in some very bad relationships in the past (including one where the guy was mentally and emotionally abusive). I’ve asked her several times why she doesn’t like my current guy and all she can come up with is that he is divorced and he is “feminine.” (For the record, no one else thinks he is in any way feminine. )

    We got into a terrible argument right after Christmas about this and she said some manipulative things like, “well, I guess I will never see my grandkids if you marry this guy because I hate him and don’t want to be around him.”

    I know for a fact that she is scared to “lose” me to marriage. I’ve seen a therapist before over this same issue because it’s been going on for years. I. Just. Dont. Know. How. To. Handle. It. Anymore.

    (End rant.)

    1. Natalie*

      Oof. I am not great at advice on parent stuff (my situation lends to a very scorched earth perspective), but you have my sympathy. That’s tough.

    2. Dan*

      How close to your mom are you otherwise? If you significantly limit contact, would that be a big (or bigger) deal to you?

      1. WednesdaysMisfit*

        I’m actually pretty close to my mother. Over the years, we have become more like close friends. I will say that I sometimes feel more like a parent to her than a daughter, particularly since my dad passed away several years ago.

        1. Dan*

          Then I’d say that this issue must be resolved before you tie the knot, and get prepared to accept that the relationship you have with your mom is going to have to change.

          Your BF has to feel like he is #1 in your life, and that can’t happen while you and your mom have this cheering dynamic. Trust me, he knows how your mom feels, and he has got to wonder what that means for your relationship long term if you two are bff or pretty much are your mom’s parent.

          Resolving this is going to hurt, and won’t be easy.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Solid.

            Yeah, it takes brass to do this. And it is not without pain.

            Added: You can get all the therapy sessions in the world and your mother probably will not change. She is not the one in therapy, she feels no need to change. From what she is saying, if you marry this man, you must prepare for life with out her. So that is something to ponder- what does life without mom look like and can you do that?

            This is hard-hard stuff. And yes, it is life defining. Sometimes we hit forks in the road and we do not even realize until years or decades later. You have hit a fork in the road and you realize that in this moment that it is happening.

            You have a lot of stuff in your favor. Your willingness to go for counseling and your willingness to seek advice of other is a HUGE asset. You realize that you are facing a life decision right now. Please don’t skate by what you are doing right here.

            I have not gone through all the comments, please forgive if this is redundant. I would suggest that you and your man think about pre-martial counseling. Start talking about what your married life will look like and hammer out the particulars of that. Think of it as an investment in you as a couple.

            1. WednesdaysMisfit*

              I completely agree about the premarital counseling. Actually, I told my boyfriend months ago that if we do decide to get married that premarital counseling is mandatory (for me, and if we want to get married in our church). Several of my friends have done it and found it hugely helpful. Plus, my boyfriend is divorced and didn’t participate in premarital counseling in his first engagement – I think going through premarital counseling will be hugely helpful for us getting a great start in our marriage.

          1. the gold digger*

            And I post this link only because I have no answers. My husband’s mom and dad are the difficult ones. (My husband hit the lottery with my mom. She thinks he hung the moon and the stars, although Primo has lost most favored son in law status since my sister got married last year – her husband has given my mom an iPhone and put her on his plan, which would be great if my mom hadn’t taken to texting like a fish to water, but that’s a different issue.)

            We have been married for six years. His parents threatened to boycott our wedding and told him not to marry me. Since then, his father has told him several times that he needs to “keep me in line” and has also threatened to disinherit Primo (they are not rich, so this is supposed to bother us?) if I do not behave the way his parents want me to. His mom, I think, thinks that my husband has only a certain amount of love in his heart and any love Primo gives to me is love that he does not give to her.

            I say all this – I have been thinking about your question for hours – to say that you have my sympathies, because you are confronting something that is very, very hard. My husband does not have an answer yet and neither do I. I have had to withdraw myself from the situation just to save myself – I have not visited Primo’s parents in several years. I do not talk to them, either.

            I do write a letter to his mom every month or two, only to keep them from beating up on my husband too much. Even that does not relieve criticism: I did not address the letters properly (I wrote “Doris Drunk” instead of “Mrs Sly Drunk”), I used my maiden name instead of my married name, and I wrote “Dear Doris” instead of “Dear Sly and Doris.”

            I wish you very well in this challenge. I think you are already ahead of my husband in that you are willing to try to resolve this. My husband’s strategy, I think, is to try to appease Sly and Doris until they are dead, which should not be long, given their health. I hope it works out for you and that you can maintain a relationship with your mom, a relationship you want. This is super hard – please don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t get fixed overnight.

            1. WednesdaysMisfit*

              Thank you for your encouraging words. As I’m typing this, I’ve got tears in my eyes because I’m touched that you would spend time thinking about some unknown person from the interwebs and their family issues. I’m touched.

              My heart breaks for you and your similar situation. I have faith that your situation will works itself out in a positive way. I think it’s very admirable that you write a letter to his mother every month – I don’t know if I could do that.

              I will say that my mother is always respectful and polite around my boyfriend – she has never acted inappropriately around him. I set that boundary a long time ago and made it known I would NOT accept any kind of tantrums, unkind words, insults, rudeness around him.

              I’m very fortunate that the rest of my family has welcomed him with open arms. His family has welcomed me with open arms as well and I feel so very lucky. I know if we stand united, we will get through this together and my mother will find her own way of accepting and dealing with it.

              A somewhat happy ending: she has since reached out and apologized for her behavior on Christmas. I took the time to explain some things to her in a non-threatening way (she’s a very curious person by nature and always feels the need to fully understand everything around her, if that makes sense) and she seemed to respond well.

              Again, thank you for your encouragement, as well as everyone else’s. This community is so very wonderful! :)

        2. Lori C*

          Ah, there it is. Your mother hates your boyfriend I suspect, because she is very emotionally tied to having you all to herself since your father passed away. Again please talk this over with a therapist. You need assistance in getting your relationship back to mother/daughter with her being your mother. She has become too emotionally dependent on you and your boyfriend is a threat in her mind. Which is why she cannot give you a “good” reason why she hates him. Not just doesn’t like him. She hates him. Once you get a handle on this, I would see if your mom would be open to attending some sessions. Otherwise she will do her best to come between you and your boyfriend, or anyone else you become serious with. The comment about her refusing to see her non existent grand kids is a big red flag. And again with the hatred of your boyfriend.

    3. Revanche*

      :( I’m sorry to hear this. I’ve been on the receiving end of this from a similarly concerned mother (about her son) and the best I could tell was that she simply didn’t believe anyone could be good enough. She went so far as to supply reasons why I wasn’t good enough, and to passive-aggressively pressure him and me in different ways to show her displeasure that we remained together.

      I kept wondering why she had such an issue when we were very good for each other and plenty of other moms saw that I was a good person and wanted me for their sons. In the end, it’s about them, not you.

      It may actually be worse for your mom that he seems like a keeper because she would then have to either accept him (and get over her determination to hate him, and also possibly make amends for the way she acted when hating him for no good reason) or actually make the decision to lose you over it. If he’s truly a good guy that you can see making your life with, it will absolutely suck when she tries to put you on the spot of choosing between her or him.

      I worked out (over a long period) what to do about it for my situation, but not knowing you well enough to try and advise anything, all I might suggest is: don’t let her put that choice on you if she does try to force the issue, don’t let her use her choice to hate him as an emotional bludgeon against you (I’ve seen that happen many a time), and perhaps consider checking out A Practical Wedding for more insight into how to deal with these sort of fraught parent things. It’s much more than a wedding website, it’s great for discussions on dealing with parents/relationships.

      I wish you all the best!

      1. WednesdaysMisfit*

        Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I’m so sorry you have dealt with this as well. Definitely going to take your recommendation of checking out A Practical Wedding.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Excellent advice so far, and Revanche’s comment above reminds me that the most important thing you can do is to make sure NOT to try to protect your boyfriend from this by not discussing it with him. I’m sure he knows your mother’s opinion of him, and if he is not sure how you feel about your mother’s attitude it will weaken your relationship. Discuss it with him, there’s a reason you chose him as your partner in life. Even if talking doesn’t make it better, you two will not be left wondering why the other is troubled or upset, and that uncertainty puts a lot of stress on a relationship.

    4. Lori C*

      Please find a new therapist. It does not sound like the prior one gave you any tools for you to be able to handle your mother.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      I don’t have any experience with this kind of thing, but my advice would be for you to call her bluff. The next time she says she’ll never see her grandchildren if you and your boyfriend get married, you say, “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way. It will be a real shame for my kids to miss out on getting to know their grandma.” And then move on to a different topic.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah — and I would add that that grandchildren comment is such a crappy, crappy thing to say that you should either call her on it and insist on resolving this with her or think about distancing yourself from her. That’s not something your mom should be saying to you.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          “I’m sorry to hear that, mom. I am sure the kids will miss you.”

          This is so wildly out of line and so unacceptable. And it is presumptive- she is presuming you will marry and you will have kids (more than one). She is also presuming her health and well-being will remain stable and she will not desperately need you in her life. And it lays the ground work for more emotional manipulation down the road.

          This is not what real and honest love looks like.

          1. catsAreCool*

            The good news is, the kids probably won’t miss her that much. Kids will get used to not having that grandma around.

        2. Kat A.*

          I was going to say the same thing as Alison and the previous commenter. Call her bluff. Be sure to stand tall and sound sure of yourself when you do (even if you don’t feel sure of yourself).

          I was going to add that you might want to tell her that her behavior is driving you away, because who wants to be around someone manipulative?

        3. Buu*

          I agree, the reason you should have children is because you love your partner and want to raise a family together. You are not a machine to churn out grand children for your Mother and it’s up to you to decide her access to them or not.

      2. A Teacher*

        My mom and my grandmother had a major falling out over 10 years ago now and I was an adult–still in college–but an adult. For my birthday, my grandmother put in my birthday card that “she was sorry that she couldn’t have much of a relationship with me anymore because my mother had withdrawn her love.” My family is crazy with a side of super crazy but that fundamental line, the passive aggressive attempt by my grandmother to control my mother through me changed our relationship forever. It hurt and I still have the card. Don’t allow your mother to attempt to use this passive aggressive approach or it is something you will deal with for the rest of your life. It is out of line and not fair to you, your fiance, and any children you may have.

      3. Windchime*

        Yes, this is how I respond to attempts at emotional manipulation. One of my kids said (when he was a teenager), “Fine—-if you won’t let me do X, I will go and live with Dad.” My response? “Oh, that would be too bad–I would sure miss you.” Period.

        I’d be really tempted to say pretty much exactly what Ann F. recommends.

    6. Relosa*

      I would ask her what she thinks is wrong with femininity >:| Otherwise I wish I had more advice, but I don’t, and I’m sorry :( My mother is a BPD alcoholic. The only way to deal with it was to cut her off entirely, I’m afraid.

      Internet hugs for jealous parents that make your relationship and life about themselves.

      1. KJR*

        Relosa, my mom is also BPD and a recovering alcoholic. My heart goes out to you…it is a rough road. I still talk to her every day, some days are better than others. I have gotten quite skillful at changing the subject when she makes inappropriate/hurtful comments.

    7. Apollo Warbucks*

      Wow your mom actually flat out said she hates your boyfriend! Thats complete out of order, being as all your friends and family like him it clearly says more about your mom than it does about your boyfriend.

      I’m at a loss how to deal with it, but all I can suggest is next time she say something like that tell her to keep her opinion to herself.

      If she had something constructive to say and you were blind to an obvious fault of your boyfriends then I could see why she might say something (albeit in a much better manner) but if she’s just being toxic or bashing you boyfriend for the sake of it you shouldn’t put up with that, your mom should be happy that you are in a good relationship not pushing her own agenda.

    8. Perpetua*

      I can definitely empathize and I am really sorry that you have to deal with this. I know that on a rational level you can probably see that it’s about her and her fears, not about you or him, but it is SO difficult to get a handle on it emotionally. :internet hug, if it helps:

      As for why, she probably “hates” him because with you bringing him home for Christmas marriage might seem like a real possibility at some point, and her fears of losing you are experienced more intensely, hence the grasping at straws to find something she doesn’t like and the manipulative words (which really hurt even when you know someone is being unreasonable and it’s not you).

      Another therapist might be a good idea. You can also try not to get caught into convincing her otherwise, so that when she starts talking hurtful things, you “simply” decline to continue the conversation or steer it in another direction. It’s usually really tempting to try and make her see the truth, and you probably think “well, if I can just SHOW her this one time, she might understand”, but in my experience, all it leads to are endless discussions, tears and emotional exhaustion.

      I wish you all the best!

    9. Sandrine (France)*

      Oh my.

      I wish you all the best. And it doesn’t get any better as people get older…

      My 50 years old MOM and her 47 years old FIANCE have the same issue… WITH HIS MOM. I met that woman once, and it was all nice, introduction dinner and all, la la la (I’m 31 and the eldest of 5 kids) .

      Then the relationship progresses, they’re engaged, Mom is supposed to move in… cue the harpy strings, the rudeness, insulting Mom’s education of my two youngest sisters, and so on and so forth… and of COURSE it had to happen on Christmas day (the rudeness and insults). It’s getting so bad that said woman is playing the health card to scare her son into taking care of her. Mom is having none of this BS since her own mom used to do the same thing so she knows it when she sees it.

      Yeah. Moms. They can be annoying.

      (In that phone convo, I even told Mom : “See, at least when I talk to people I use you and I as an example. I can tell you to f*** off [I don’t in those words, pinky swear] but then we make up and hugs and kisses. Does that mean I don’t respect you as a whole or that we don’t love each other ? Nope. That just means we know to recognize when the other pisses us off.”)

    10. Jennifer M.*

      I think you are getting a lot of good advice. I agree that you need to call her bluff. She needs to own that if she keeps her distance for irrational reasons, it is 100% her choice. I would also recommend not letting her rant. If you have her on the phone and she starts listing BF’s bad qualities, you need to say “Mom, I’ve told you I don’t like it when you speak that way about BF. If you don’t stop, I’ll have to hang up.” “Mom, thanks for having the family over today for Easter Brunch, but if you can’t be nice to BF, we’ll have to excuse ourselves now.” And then follow through.

    11. Observer*

      I have to agree with the others who say that you need a new therapists, because you need some real tools to deal with this issue. Your mother is not going to change and there is no way you can make her do so. You MIGHT be able to change her behavior, but that’s not a given either.

      In the short term, about the only thing you can do is refuse to engage. Do NOT ask your mother why she doesn’t like him, etc. If she brings it up, cut the conversation short. If she lobs verbal grenades about her seeing you or the (non-existent) grandchildren, simply direct it back to her and cut the conversation. eg “I’m sorry you would choose to cut yourself off from your grandchildren. When are you going to paint the bedroom?” (Alternatively finish off with “I have to go now.”) Do NOT try to convince her she is wrong.

      Let’s face it, this is NOT about your boyfriend. She doesn’t want you to get married or deeply tied to someone else, and nothing you say is going to change that. Possibly, if you keep up not letting her talk like this, she might stop because it’s possible that she’d rather keep the relationship on your terms than not have it at all. But that’s not a given.

      Which leads to the second thing you need to do. You need to seriously think about how far you are willing to go to keep your mother happy. Your mother doesn’t want you to get married – or have a serious relationship that doesn’t include her, and you can’t expect to change it. Are you willing to forgo that – forgo any serious relationship – to please her?

    12. Graciosa*

      There are a lot of good comments here, but I want to add a note about the difference between feelings and behavior.

      I am actually fine with the idea that your mom hates him (well, not fine, but in the grand scheme of things, not a huge issue). Let her hate him – privately and in silence. The only legitimate issue is what she does with that feeling. Rude comments or behavior are unacceptable. Cutting off contact with grandchildren is unacceptable.

      I mention this because if you try to address the behavior with your mother, it is likely that at some point you’ll hear “But I can’t help the way I feel!” You need to be ready to redirect the conversation back to the behavior – because she does control that.

      1. WednesdaysMisfit*

        The AAM community never ceases to amaze me! Thank you all for the words of wisdom and advice. This is all amazingly helpful.

        I’m planning finding a new therapist in the New Year. The one I had was in my old city and not super helpful overall, though they did strongly encourage me to continue with plans, desires to be with my boyfriend and not let my mother’s manipulation get in the way.

        When she says things like not seeing future grandchildren, I do respond similarly as others have suggested. I have asked her several times to go to therapy for her many issues. She finally went a few times to a therapist but made excuses not to go back. I encouraged her to find a different therapist that she better connected with but she hasn’t so far been back.

        Having better boundaries will help and will actively work to do that. It helps that we do not live in the same city. I actually gave her a book on boundaries that I love and encouraged her to read it because it helped me a lot (she had boundary issues with her own mother) but she hasn’t read it yet to my knowledge.

        1. Perpetua*

          What was the book, if you don’t mind sharing? :) I know all about being a mother’s “pride and joy” (although I’m an only child, which adds another layer) and a book like that sounds helpful.

            1. Squidy*

              “Boundaries” is a great book. I don’t want to play internet diagnosis, but your mother’s efforts to control/sever your relationship with your significant other make me think you should look into Narcissistic Personality Disorder and what happens to the adult children of parents who try to make the kids meet the needs of the parent. (From what you say below about being your mom’s pride and joy, you might fit the family role of “Golden Child.”) Hopefully, not much of what you find will resonate with your experiences (I’ve admittedly got a dirty lens on this issue) but if any does, you’d be on the road to finding tools to dealing with your mom and moving forward. Your mom’s efforts to isolate you as hers alone are really unhealthy for both herself and you, and I hope it’s actually the only unhealthy, narcissistic thing that she’s up to, because a full-blown narcissist as a parent is an ugly thing.

    13. BRR*

      Do you have siblings and if yes how is she with them?

      Since she clearly is making up reasons to not like him can you suggest therapy for her? If it were me I would tell her that she’s not losing me, but that as children grow they often start their own families.

      1. WednesdaysMisfit*

        I have two younger brothers, but I am the oldest and only girl. Interestingly enough, my youngest brother has a serious girlfriend and my mother doesn’t care much for her either. Part of that is a little understandable (girlfriend broke up with him once before because he wasn’t ready to get married, cheated on him with a former boyfriend while they were still together, and got married to him less than a year later. Girlfriend reached out to brother while she was still married and wanted to get back together with brother. It’s a mess.)

        As humbly as I can say this, I am my mother’s pride and joy. I am a big believer in when you marry, you leave your family and cleave to your spouse. She knows I feel that way and that hurts her. I should also point out that she has no interest in dating/marrying again, so I think it’s a little difficult for her to understand my desire to be married.

    14. Sunflower*

      Ugh i can totally see my mother doing this when i meet someone one day. I agree to call her bluff. Using guilt to manipulate someone you love is not right and that is what she is doing. I can’t imagine this is the only area of your life she has done this in before. Also agree to maybe seek out anither therapist. There are no easy solutions here and it’s going to be hard. If you want to fix this, youre going to have to do some things you may be uncomfortable with and that seem unnatural but its the only way to make the situation more managable. Calling her bluff and simply saying ‘I’m sorry you feel that way’ i think is a good place to start. Good luck

    15. Clever Name*

      Your mother is clearly being irrational. Her comment about grandkids is nonsensical. Does she think you’ll dump your boyfriend but decide to have kids on your own (by whatever means), which will be the only condition under which she will allow your kids to have access to her? Absurd.

      I agree with setting boundaries with your mother. She may decide to change her behavior or she may not, but you can’t allow your mother to control your life.

    16. Gene*

      Not only do you need a new therapist, you need two. One for you and another for you and your mom. The only way I see this being resolved is for you two to talk it out with a family specialist. If she refuses to go, there’s your answer; walk away and tell her when she’s ready, so are you. Don’t interact with her unless she’s with you in the office.

    17. Ludo*

      Oh dear. I’m sorry.

      First, I want you to look long and hard at your relationship with your boyfriend. Talk to people you trust will be honest with you. Is there anything here your mother might be picking up on that you are avoiding addressing?

      If not, it is time for an honest conversation with your mother. Ask her for specific behaviors boyfriend exhibits that she doesn’t like. Is it a mannerism, a way he speaks to people, a certain viewpoint on a touchy subject, etc? The key is to try to get her to figure out what she doesn’t like and to determine if this dislike is (or, quite likely is not) rational.

      It sounds from your posts that your mother has some abandonment fears after the death of your father. That is sad in its own right, but her manipulative behavior towards you (especially in light of your past manipulative relationship!) is completely and totally out of line. She needs to remember that she doesn’t have to be besties with your boyfriend – she just has to treat him with the respect he deserves as a partner in your life.

    18. Anna*

      I’m sorry. I’ve never really understood that attitude (unless the person is actually unhealthy). I just recently had to tell my mom that it doesn’t matter if she doesn’t like my sister-in-law, she’s married to my brother and it’s up to my mom to figure out a way to get along.

  4. Stephanie*

    We downloaded the Interview to see what all the fuss was about. It was dumb. Really dumb. But freedom? Or something?

    I should go find Team America: World Police now.

    1. WednesdaysMisfit*

      Team America is seriously awesome. :) Although I can’t help but wonder why N. Korea didn’t totally freak out about that movie. I guess because they used puppets?

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      I saw the trailers for that movie and thought it looked asinine. The worst thing about this whole fiasco is that people are taking a stand over such a stupid movie. It should at least be worthwhile!

      1. Nina*

        That was how I felt, pretty much. I get the principle and all, but I had no desire to see this movie before the Sony leak went down, and had no desire after. It just didn’t look like a good movie.

      2. Mimmy*

        Agreed. My husband watched it and said it was stupid. Plus, the critic reviews have been terrible. I think people were just curious, though; I bet the hubbub will die down very quickly.

      3. catsAreCool*

        I also saw the commercials for this movie and have no plans to watch it. It looks really stupid.

      1. Jen RO*

        My reaction exactly! Maybe I should see the movie again – I didn’t like it the first time and felt the only good part was the song…

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I didn’t hate it, but my expectations were low. I think watching it at home made it better because we could talk to each other. Best part for me was Eminem.

      Team America is soooooo good. It’s stupid and funny and over-the-top, and the sets are incredible. Something for everyone! Except for little kids, because… no.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Enimem was absolutely the best part. Maybe the biggest flaw with the movie was that the best part was in the beginning.

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      I shocked myself by liking the movie. I’m not a Seth-Rogen-James-Franco kinda woman (or so I thought!) and I thought they were great.

      This was our Christmas afternoon entertainment, ’cause patriotism, and every one (ages 20 to 71) enjoyed the movie.

      Basically, we expected it to be awful and were pleasantly surprised. I think the movie also worked on a more sophisticated satire level, but you won’t find a lot of critics who agree with me.

      Stephanie, haters gonna hate and ain’ters gonna ain’t. :p

      1. Ludo*

        Oh god I died at your last line. I have been saying that since I watched the movie Christmas morning. Haters gonna hate and ain’ters gonna ain’t.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          Heh, they are all just peanut butter and jealous.

          Quotably fun for those of us with simple minds.

    5. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I LOVED it. I was fully prepared for it to suck, because everyone on the Internet was saying it sucked, but I watched it with a group and everyone was laughing out loud. It’s goofy, for sure, and it has the Seth Rogen trademark weird gratuitous violence, which can be a lot, but I thought it was really, really funny. There were lots of conversations happening so nobody was following the whole movie, but there would be huge sections where we’d all be pulled in randomly into a scene and just watch and laugh until the scene break.

      And I think N. Korea reacted worse to this movie than to Team America because The Interview featured real characters, including Kim Jong Un. Like, Team America is a farce and trades in stereotypes (to very funny effect). And Interview does too, but Un has much more… depth? As a character. I think it’s definitely a more threatening movie than Team America to N. Korea.

  5. sprinkles!*

    For all you Bachelor and Bachelorette fans, you MUST read Courtney Robert son’s book, “I didn’t come here to make friends.” I started it a few hours ago and haven’t been able to put it down.

    1. JisinCali*

      I agree! I picked her book up and finished it in two days. I simply couldn’t put it down. Now ready for Farmer Chris!

  6. Dan*

    I spent Xmas with my folks. Mom is 65, and I’m worried about her health. I can’t figure out if dad is worried, and if so, how much. He blows me off when I try and day anything.

    Mom has zero energy to do anything, has not insignificant memory issues, and Bellyaches about how much everything hurts. Bring up any of that, and she will constantly remind everybody that she is 65, and duh, of course there’s going to be issues. She is old, you know?

    Funny thing is, she tells me how people tell her she looks younger than her age. Yeah, but she has the body of a 85 year old.

    So I guess I don’t know how this old age thing works, or if there is anything that can or should be done. The only experience I have is with my grandparents on my dad’s side, who passed at 84 and 91. They moved into an assisted living facility about three years before the first one passed, but I don’t think my mom is ready for that yet.

    Is the only thing to do wait it out? I’m sort of afraid of that phone call that says that mom needs really expensive care and they can’t afford it. I can’t afford to really pitch in for much, if anything, and living with my mother full time would drive me bonkers.

    1. Colleen*

      If you are concerned about your mom, you need to take action. Can you spend more time there and get her to a physician while you are there. 65 is not old by today’s standards and she could have a lot more good years left in her if she gets proper medical care. Your father might need some help, too, if he is having issues of his own or is in denial about your mother’s health. Follow your gut.

      1. Dan*

        I live 600 miles from my parents, so spending more time with them isn’t a trivial matter. My brother lives about teen minutes from them, and works on the health care field. I need to have a heart to heart with him and see what he thinks. Although, being local, his exposure to them is more like dinner a couple of times a month, do he might not see what I do.

        1. BRR*

          I think speaking with him about it is a great idea. I’m not sure if they’re too old but can they look into long term care insurance?

    2. Rebecca*

      I witnessed this with my mother in law. My husband and his 2 sisters just said “oh that’s just Mom” whenever she did off the wall batty things. I tried to tell them in the early 2000’s that she was developing dementia and needed to be evaluated by a physician, nope, that’s just Mom. Whenever someone couldn’t get her on the phone, they sent me (fortunately I lived a few houses away). She’d claim not to hear the phone or try to say we dialed the wrong number, but I think she was starting to forget what the phone was. Her mental faculties deteriorated pretty rapidly, and on top of it all, she was a world class hoarder. It was awful. I took her to many doctor’s appointments because her children were always tied up with something else, and during one visit she made a huge slip up. The doctor took me into the hallway and asked how long this had been going on. After a short discussion, they started her on Aricept and other meds.

      Sorry for the long story, but you need to step in. Your Dad is probably in denial about the truth of the situation, and your Mom probably isn’t telling the doctor all the facts when and if she goes. For the short term, my mother in law was eligible for home health care X hours per week, and they were invaluable at meal times and to help with bathing, cleaning, and meal prep. The local Office of the Aging, that’s what they call it here, should be able to help you and do an evaluation if necessary. They were so helpful in my MIL’s case.

      Please talk to your brother. One thing I know for certain is this will not get better on its own, it will just get worse.

      Oh, and another tidbit about “family”. My remaining sister in law has not contacted me since their mother died. It’s been over 3 years, other to yell at me because her brother didn’t pay his share of taxes on land they owned together, and twice to ask me for help with a computer related issue. No, I didn’t help her. I was too busy to go to the phone.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Great advice, a lot of what I would say, and this is my area (as in, what they actually pay me for). I just want to add that while Aricept has been approved for and helps a lot in treating people with Alzheimer’s Disease, there are plenty of other causes of dementia and delirium that are treatable or even reversible, but only if they’re properly diagnosed and treated. A lot of family physicians, especially those who have been in practice for decades, aren’t familiar with the more recent diagnostic criteria, and wrongly cling to the old notion that they were raised with, that memory loss and cognitive impairment is normal for older people when IT IS NOT. It is more common the older you get, but it is not a normal part of healthy aging. If her family physician doesn’t seem to know what to do, find a neurologist, a geriatrician, or a geriatric psychiatrist in your area.

        You can start by calling the Eldercare Locator at 800-677-1116. They are a service of the US Administration on Aging, and they’ll help you find your local Office of the Aging and other local services and resources.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, it sounds like your mother is not doing so hot.
      You could suggest that she get her blood sugar tested. Everything you say here sounds like diabetes. But I am NO doctor! High blood sugar will make you forgetful, give you body aches all over and make you lethargic. Am I recalling correctly? You said you did not have a positive relationship with your mother? Yoyo-ing blood sugar levels really torques personality around.
      (Lived with a diabetic for decades. Yes, we do see the world through our own experiences. So I am just offering this as a starting point for conversation, that is all.)

      Do not get your finances mixed up with their finances. No, it does not make you a cruel adult child to decide this. Decades ago, my mother went through 250K of out of pocket medical. A few years back, my husband went through 20K of out of pocket medical AND that was only for three month’s worth of care. Had he lived he would have been spending at the rate of $80K out of pocket per year (projected estimates). And that did not include our basic living needs. Very few people have money like this.

      Additionally, allowing an ill family member to move in with you sometimes is not in the best interest of THEIR well-being. Because of family dynamics, family members are sometimes the worst people to help an ailing family member- because the family member will not let us help them.

      So what do do: My suggestion is to keep an eye. Ask questions from time to time, such as “have you had your blood sugar levels checked?” More questions will occur to you as you go along. With my parents I had to wait until my father decided there might be a problem. This was like watching a train wreck in slow-mo. It was a humbling experience because all I could do was offer little helps here and there.

      Not a great answer. But I hope it helps you a little.

      1. Dan*

        It’s a better answer than you think, thanks. I tend to fall in the camp that says you can’t help people who won’t help themselves, so i never know when to speak up or myob, and if I should speak up, what to say.

        I’m fine with internet armchair diagnosis, do no worries there. Yes, your memory is correct about my relationship with my mother. Strangely, that’s it’s own issue – mom likely has a personality disorder that makes her the center of the universe, so that’s just one more nut to crack.

        The best I can get from dad is “well she does have arthritis you know.” To which I asked, so why can’t she even tell me that? “I’m 65” is not the explanation for every ache, pain and memory slip. Dad notices the symptoms, bit I can’t get him to say that something is actually wrong.

        Strangely, my dad’s mom passed just 13 years ago, and I remember what it was like when he couldn’t get my grandparents to acknowledge that it was time to make arrangements for grandma’s declining health.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Last paragraph: I think that some of that is the generational beliefs. My parents would be 90 this year. They believed that you did not discuss medical issues. (Tip of the iceberg- lots more strange beliefs there.)
          I tend to think that when the doctor explained things to them they had little to no grasp of what he was saying and that might be part of why they did not discuss things with me. One thing I did eventually get out of my father was “This was my problem not yours.” He meant that in a manner that I should get on with launching my own life and not fall behind because of his “stuff”. (Later, his “stuff” almost swallowed me whole- he had a lot of things going on.)

          Speaking up: ugh. Yeah. Just make your best guess and put yourself where you can live with yourself. I spoke up A LOT. It did not do much. In some ways it hurt me. But my idea was I would know for the rest of my life that I tried. I can live with myself.

          Right on! You cannot help people who do not want to be helped. This is an important thing to keep at the forefront of our thinking. I add to that – I prefer to hand out fishing poles, not fish. I can’t inhale/exhale for other people- they have to take on some things for themselves.

          In the end, flexibility was key for me. What worked today may not work next week. Be ready to change strategies and change approaches. For your own sanity, frame the question as “how am I going to handle this for the time being?” It’s much easier to deal with short term anyway. Then when something changes you can ask yourself “okay how do I want to handle New Thing?”

          The toughest part was knowing the light at the end of the tunnel was an on-coming train. I could see the writing on the wall. I think this might be what is happening to you.
          My very wise aunt said “sometimes we have insight to things to allow us time to prepare for that event”. Maybe your prep right now is just to mull these things over and consider options. If you have an aunt or an uncle that would talk with you about the particulars and perhaps support in some manner, I would highly recommend starting the convo with that person. These are the people that can add insight as to why our parents act the way they do.

    4. Jean*

      Wishing you and your family as easy a journey as possible through this unhappy territory. My hope is that it’s just (!) diabetes and your mom accepts medical care and improves greatly.

      There has been a lot of wisdom on “The New Old Age,” a multi-year-long blog about caring for elders which is currently located in the Health section at NYTimes(dot)com. [The blog is located there, not the elders!] The comments are equally if not more informative than the articles and also a good source of moral support if you’re awake worrying at 3 am. People discuss ways of coping and mention all sorts of resources including other web sites, books, and organizations focused on specific medical conditions or more generally on assisting elders.

      Unfortunately “The New Old Age” seems to be targeted for being ended. I think my new year’s resolution is going to be to write to the NYTimes and _implore_ them to keep it up as a public service. Good luck to you. I’m sorry you are facing this situation.

      1. Dan*

        Thanks. The sucky part is that many of these symptoms have been around for years. I guess the thing that makes it really stick out now is that mom has decided that turning 65 in September is the explanation for everything. Dad certainly acknowledges that that makes no sense, but more or less just shrugs it off. My dad and his sister are both in their early sixties, and lead plenty active lives. So I can’t go figure out what he is having a hard time admitting.

      2. Trixie*

        I think it was NYTimes or NPR where I heard Jane Gross speak about “A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents–and Ourselves.” Whether anyone is actively going through this, or just wants to start thinking/preparing now, a really helpful read as far as stages, finances, siblings, etc.

    5. Clever Name*

      Ugh. My mother is the same age, and I’m definitely noticing some memory issues I’m concerned about. Unfortunately, her dr hasn’t read anything about the medical field sine the 70’s so he’s pretty much useless. My mom also has PTSD from a couple of car accidents and her brother dying (it was rough a few years ago), but she insists she is fine and refuses to get help. Meanwhile, she insists the world revolves around her neuroses. She also is in denial about being her age. She once told me she was in denial about being middle-aged. I said, “mom, I’m middle aged. Are you expecting to live to be 170?” She didn’t think that was funny

      Sorry, no advice. Only commiseration. :(

    6. annnonnn for this*

      I know a 65 year old who does a 2 hour drive twice each week so she can babysit her grandkids for a few days. Kids ranging from 1 to 11, who are good kids but still handfuls.

      Different people age differently, but it seems like your mom should talk to a doctor.

  7. Holly*

    Anyone have an opinion on how long it takes for a kitten to settle down? Right now I’m getting up multiple times in the middle of the night like he’s a baby, and it’s so exhausting. =/

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’ll happen faster than you think! But have you tried locking her in a bedroom (that no one is in) for the night? We did that with Olive in the beginning and she’d cry for about 10 minutes and then settle down. After 3-4 weeks of that, we were able to let her sleep with us and she’d sleep through the night.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Maybe try closing your bedroom door so that you’re not as bothered by whatever she’s getting up to? You won’t need to do it for more than a few weeks, probably. (Of course, as I’m writing this, Olive is literally climbing the xmas tree. But that’s particularly irresistible for some reason).

          1. Windchime*

            My kitten climbed the Christmas tree constantly when he was about 6 months old. This year he is 2 1/2, and he hasn’t actually climbed it, but he likes to stand up and touch higher branches, and chew on the lights.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Our cat is 5 1/2 years old now, and she still climbs the Christmas tree. We could tell the branches were mashed down every morning, and we finally caught her in the act just a couple of days ago. She climbed in and trod on every single branch.

    2. Non-profit Anon*

      Our Christmas kitten has mostly settle down! She wakes up early morning like 5 AM and starts playing. That’s when we put her out of our room.

      The second night she was here she gave my husband really bad scrachting and bite. Since then, she has calm down quite a bit and is playful.

    3. Anonyby*

      To be fair, kittens ARE babies/young children. They’re just the baby form of a different species. :)

      You just need to be firm and show him what the routine is. And I second the solution of keeping him out of the bedroom until he understands that nighttime is when the humans sleep, even though it’s Prime Play Time for cats.

      1. LisaS*

        I was lucky with my rescue kitten – the older cats took him in hand (paw?) and taught him that in my house, cats slept on the bed & through the night. So that’s what he did – thankfully. Of course, he spent the *rest* of the day with a dire case of the Kitten Busies, but hey, sleeping through the night did make that part easier to cope with…

    4. Mints*

      Yeah, a few weeks (a couple weeks?) and we closed the bedroom door when they started playing hopscotch on top of us. It wore off pretty quickly. Kitten time is great though!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I have a friend who spent quite the sleepless night when his cats discovered the springy doorstop thing. Boing boing boing boing…all night long. I couldn’t help it; I laughed so hard.

        1. Anonyby*

          There was a My Cat From Hell episode where that was one of the many grievances the owners had with their cat…

        2. Jean*

          Young human children can also find those doorstops irresistible. Boing boing boing! (That is HARD to type correctly.)

  8. Tara*

    I’m curious– what time of day does everyone read AAM? I like to read before bed at around 10, which in my time zone is just after Alison usually makes the new posts, but I go back in the morning or mid-afternoon to look over the comments.

    1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      I tend to log in around morning tea time, which in my timezone usually means 2-3 posts have already gone up. Then if I have downtime at work I cycle obsessively through the Surprise Me! feature and read old posts. Check in again after dinner, which in my timezone means the short answers post has gone up :)

      No, I’m not hooked what are you talking about

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I catch the short answer posts first thing in the morning at around 7 local time, the other posts I’ll catch between 4 and 7 depending on what I’m doing in the evening

    3. Jen RO*

      I usually read first thing in the morning, which in my time zone means there is usually one post already up. I try to check the blog during the day too, but I’m usually too busy, so I catch up again at home after work.

    4. The German Chick*

      I read the short posts for breakfast and take a short break at work to read the 17:00 post (midday in the US)

    5. Tigress*

      AAM is a mandatory part of my breakfast routine! I make a delicious omelette with zucchini, red peppers, and mushrooms, and then I eat it while reading the most recent AAM posts. Every day. Oh and if I’m ever bored (like, while waiting for the bus) I get out my phone and read more comments. I feel I am becoming a better person on so many different levels by reading AAM every day. Not just thanks to Alison’s excellent advice, but also the advice and stories from the community!

    6. Perpetua*

      I happily read it on my way to work, in my timezone that means there’s usually a new post up not long before that. I also deliberately save it for my commute, instead of reading it in bed or while getting ready, so that I enjoy it more. :)

    7. matcha123*

      I read during work, but only post on the weekends if I can.
      My time would be between 7pm and 2am EST in the US.

      1. Aam Admi*

        I read it for a few minutes at breakfast which would be 6am Mountain Time and rest at the end of the day – no time to read during the work day. If I am home on Sunday, I read the open thread all day long as the comments come in.

    8. Formerly Bee*

      I read before work. I check in in the afternoon if I have time, but I really like reading it in the morning.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      First thing every morning, I’m on all my news sites. So on weekdays, I like to read AAM first when I have tea and breakfast at my desk. Then I click back on it during slack moments. On weekends, I read it later after skating.

    10. Mimmy*

      I read the short answer posts in the morning (after my Facebook check!), then I try to catch the 11 a.m. (EST) post. After that, maybe one more time in the afternoon.

      Yup, I’m a bit hooked :P

    1. fposte*

      If you have energy for hatred, that’s a good sign. Hopefully it means the bugs will leave you soon.

        1. fposte*

          Yup. It’s like with kids–the time to worry is when they don’t *mind* being put to bed with nothing to do.

    2. neversawthatb4*

      Sorry you have the flu. I have been around family members who had it in recent weeks. Woke up with body aches and a scratchy throat this morning and am worried that I am coming down with it too. Years ago I had the flu right before I got a cancer diagnosis. The side effects of the chemo were nothing compared to how bad I felt during the flu! Feel better soon!

  9. Ann Furthermore*

    I posted this in the open thread last week, but very late, looking for suggestions for cool, off-the-beaten path things to see in the UK. I got some great suggestions — thank you very much for those! — but I’m wondering if anyone else has ideas to share as well.

    This will be a trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. My husband has only traveled outside the US once, but I go to Europe several times a year for work. So I’d like to make it a really awesome trip for him. He loves things like camping, meteor showers, creepy/spooky places, and I know he would love some of the amazing scenery in the Scottish Highlands. We are pretty sure we’re going to visit Inverness, or that general area, so we can do the Loch Ness thing. He’s also mentioned seeing the cliffs at Dover too.

    Many thanks!

    1. Apollo warbucks*

      How long are you going to be in the UK?

      There are some really spooky ghost tours in Edinburgh. The highlands are beautiful but I might be biased, that’s were im from.

      You can go out nessy spotting on Loch Ness and there are some brilliant whiskey distilleries to visit.

      I’ve never much liked visiting Edinburgh castle, although I like the views from princess street garden and the grass market but the castle in Stirling is really good.

      York and Bath are lovely cities to visit.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Seconding Inverness (Loch Ness is beautiful), Edinburgh (and the whisky tours!), and York, all of which we visited on our honeymoon. I’d also add Chester, where there’s a Roman wall that’s 2000 years old, and it’s just a lovely old town. And Cardiff has beautiful ancient and modern parts, although I hear it’s changed a lot since I’ve been there.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        We’re thinking about 2 weeks — hopefully long enough to pick out a few places (I realize we can’t see everything) and spend some time exploring each place.

    2. Elkay*

      What time of year are you visiting and how much time do you have?

      You mentioned in last week’s post that you’re going to hire a car, I’d recommend getting the train from London to whichever city you want to go to (there’s a railcard called a Two Together which costs £30 but gives you 1/3 off train fares, you can buy online). We’re north of London and it takes us 8 hours minimum to drive to Edinburgh. 3 hours minimum to York. Train is much less stressful and generally quicker than driving.

      If you want to avoid London:
      The Yorkshire Dales are beautiful (when the weather is nice). York is also a nice city. I love Edinburgh, it’s beautiful but again, whether to visit or not depends on the time of year you’re going (August is the Fringe and Festival so accommodation is really expensive).

      If you’re going to be spending time in London:
      Museums are nearly all free (except for special exhibitions). The National Portrait Gallery is my favourite museum in London followed closely by The Science Museum (the maths gallery). The London Eye isn’t off the beaten track but is worth doing. Theatre, check out the Love Theatre website, lots of bargains on there.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        We’re planning for late June/early July, for 2 weeks. At first I thought we’d rent a car and drive everywhere, but that’s quite a bit of time in the car. I’m going to explore perhaps taking the train to where we want to go, and then renting a car in each place for day trips.

      2. Mary*

        When is the best time to visit London? I’ve never been and plan to visit in 2015. My husband wants to see Liverpool too (for the Beatles) and I know that’s away from London. We’d like to go “off-season” when the crowds aren’t as bad. Any suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!!

    3. ProductiveDyslexic*

      My thoughts: Loch Ness and Dover are almost at opposing ends of the country. If you want to go to Dover, you can’t really avoid London. I think you mentioned Normandy last week. Ferries to Normandy are from Plymouth, at the opposite end of the south coast…

      You could drive along the south coast. You could take in the dinosaur coast in Dorset, the Cerne Abbas Giant chalk hill figure, the New Forest (wild ponies, extensive camping opportunities, English Civil War history), and Brighton. However, it will be very busy with tourists, especially once school holidays start at the end of July. The cities of Plymouth, Southampton, and Dover are not exciting destinations.

      Other ideas: assuming you fly into a London airport and then want to head north, you could take a route up either the east or the west.

      Via the west. Take train from London to Windsor, visit the castle and look at Eton School. Drive to Oxford via the Chilterns (very pretty hilly area with pendunculate oak–hazel coppice woods, home of Winnie the Pooh, lots of small pubs). Visit Oxford! World class museums in a nice small city with excellent student atmosphere: Museum of the History of Science has telescopes, astrolabes, very Philip Pullman. Loads of Tolkien/C.S. Lewis stuff. Ghost tours possible. Various options for taking the scenic route further north: potteries at Stoke on Trent, St Briavel’s Castle Youth Hostel (you can stay here) on the Welsh borders, Peak District, city of Manchester. Then drive through the Lake District National Park. Northern Lakes (Keswick) are less touristy than the Southern Lakes (Bowness-on-Windermere). Head on to Glasgow and then the Highlands, via Loch Lomond (Ben Lomond is the smallest Munro and an easy walk) and Glen Coe, which is stunningly beautiful. Also Carbisdale Castle Scottish Youth Hostel: another castle you can stay in!

      Via the east. Train from London to Cambridge (50 mins), or York via Cambridge. Cambridge highly recommended, as museums also world class. Drive from York (avoid Jorvik musuem, very dumbed down) up through the Yorkshire Moors and the coast (Whitby, where Dracula landed, or close-by Robin Hood’s Bay, good for fossil hunting, Goathland steam railway) or inland via the dales (via Knaresborough castle, then Hawes for Wensleydale cheese). Drive to Edinburgh via Northumberland National Park. Seconding (Elkay, I think?) for the North Northumberland Coast being spectacular, boat trip to Lindisfarne (from Seahouses) highly recommended, especially for the wildlife.

      Let us know what you decide to do!

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        May I ask a stupid question? I presume that there are places close to the ferry in Normandy to rent a car. Driving on the other side of the road in the UK is a bit intimidating, but I think we can handle it. But the idea of taking a car configured for driving in the UK over to France seems like it would seriously mess with your head and all your instincts, and be a very bad idea.

        1. ProductiveDyslexic*

          Yeah — doesn’t sound like a good idea. I suspect the logistics would be much harder too, i.e. might be hard or impossible to return a French hire car to a UK branch of the hire company.

    4. Lamb*

      If you two like knights Templar and a bit of metaphysical mumbojumbo, Rosalynd Chapel is pretty, although it’s also small enough that I wouldn’t go far out of your way to see it (an hour detour, sure, driving 2 or 3 hours each way, not unless you’re really in to them and would be doing a whole tour of the UK centered on knights Templar stuff if you had the chance).
      I don’t mean to be rude about the metaphysical mumbojumbo, it’s just when I toured it (granted this was back in 2005) instead of just the vague, unprovable stuff like spiritual energy or folklore or what have you, the tour guide tried to talk about various energy fields on the property “scientifically” but the things she said were nonsense with some misused science words mixed in. Most of our party found it detracted from the experience. That said, they could totally have a new guide/tour format by now.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Thank you so much everyone! There are some great suggestions here. A friend of mine from high school also went to Inverness last year, and she’s sending me a bunch of brochures from places they went. So between that and all these great ideas I’m sure we’ll be able to plan something really awesome!

  10. Neruda*

    I wanted to give an update. Last week I posted about being sad to spend Christmas with my in laws for the first time. Well the first 2 days were fine but Christmas day itself I ended up with gastro and spent the whole day in bed! I didn’t really spend Christmas with anyone I suppose :-( Thankfully feeling much better now!

  11. Henrietta Gondorf*

    I’m getting ready to transition from a job where I hardly ever wear makeup (and it’s of no consequence) to one where it’s going to be an expectation. Two questions: how does one learn how to apply makeup when you’re in your early thirties and can’t follow a YouTube video to save your life? And for someone whose face and neck sweats a lot and easily, are there good options for keeping makeup looking good all day short of washing my face and starting over after mild exertion?

    1. Winter*

      I don’t have any advice, but I want to say you’re not alone. I’m also in my thirties and just learning about makeup. I have to say it’s really complicated! Looking forward to hearing from other commenters.

      1. Relosa*

        When I look at my process now versus when I started, I kind of facepalm myself. It really will get a ton better, you’ll get used to products and whatnot. I used to just sometimes use a concealer and then the foundation…now I have a whole clean-moisturize-prime-conceal-conceal again-foundation-finishing that takes half the time the two-step process took me before.

    2. Relosa*

      I’m 27 and only just got really into makeup a couple of years ago…you’d be surprised how easily you’ll pick it up. Youtube videos really didn’t help me that much. I’m at a point now where I can figure something out by looking at it…it really just takes practice.

      My best advice is to keep it simple in the beginning. If you’re going to do full-face with foundation; find your combo and get it down pat. Find the one exact quad/pallete/color whatever you’re going to use (the one that makes you go “Wow!” when you put it on yourself) and just stick with it until it’s second nature. When you get bored with whatever look you put together, then you’ll move on and be ready to try new products/techniques/looks. From day one I had people complimenting my looks but I cringe when I look back on them and see them compared to what I can do now.

      I don’t recommend doing anything with your lips, just stay away from lipsticks and keep to balms and maybe tinted glosses.

      And don’t beat yourself up if you do something and mess up your mascara or eyeliner or whatever. Unless it’s giving you a Frida Kahlo look because you sneezed, I can almost promise no one will notice; and those that do won’t say anything ’cause chances are they messed up too that morning :)

      1. RFWL*

        Oh yeah, I’m in the same boat, and I hate wearing makeup. Starting a new job in a week where I need to up the “pulled together” look and have to be polished. Ugh.

        For me I just throw on that base layer, some mascara and maybe a neutral eye shadow. I really don’t like lipstick, but my mom had me try this L’oreal Color Riche lipcolor that works pretty good and doesn’t look so “lipsticky” on me. I have it in a nude that gives just a hint of color but isn’t overwhelming like I feel a red is.

        As a kid I HATED having my face painted – I figure not enjoying the world of makeup is a holdover!

    3. Claire*

      Practice, and primers. If youTube isn’t an option, could you try looking around for some tutorials that are picture and text rather than video, for inspiration? I follow a few on Tumblr that are good for this. And then practice your application until you get comfortable. If it’s for work you will probably be aiming for a fairly neutral look, so focus on that until you get confident with it.

      And primers can do wonders in getting makeup to last. I wasn’t convinced at first, it seemed like an unnecessary abc expensive extra, but once I tried them I was sold! A good eyeshadow primer is a must for me now (I love Urban Decay Primer Potion, but there are plenty other options). And I don’t always use a skin primer under foundation, but if I need my makeup to look great and last a long time, I will. It really does help it stick and stay.

      The other thing I’d say is do invest in good quality makeup if you can. It’s usually easier to work with (buildable, blendable etc) and lasts better. Doesn’t have to be expensive, though it can be – read reviews online to find good options for your skin type, colouring etc (try MakeUpAlley site for this).

      And if you live somewhere you can get to a department store makeup counter for free makeovers, those can be great for helping you figure out colours and looks and applications techniques. I have been wearing makeup since I was a teenager (turned 39 yesterday) and I go in there all the time to try new things. A good counter won’t pressure you to buy stuff either – but I inevitably do ;)

      1. Trixie*

        +1 Quality, it really does make a difference. I’m also a fan of the basics which may be just eyelash curler/mascara, something to reduce shine, gloss. and EYEBROWS! It’s amazing how much simple grooming does for your eyes. By a professional who can shape around the natural arch and clean them up, not some hack who just removes everything.

        1. WednesdaysMisfit*

          Totally agree about eyebrows! They make a huge difference in looking more polished. I highly recommend going to a salon that specializes in waxing versus a regular salon.

          I would also recommend visiting a professional makeup artist for a lesson. A lot of people will tell you to visit a cosmetics counter but what I’ve found is that several counters will push trendy colors/commission products on you, regardless of how they look on you.

          Start simple: moisturizer, bb cream or foundation, a couple of eyeshadows, mascara, brow gel (for taming stray hairs), natural looking blush, and lipstick/lip gloss in a natural color that is similar to your own lip color. If you have problem spots (like dark circles under your eyes), concealer is important too.

          I love playing with /trying out new makeup but my look is very natural looking so most people don’t even realize that I’m wearing makeup half of the time.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Yes! Many salons will do a professional makeup application lesson, and then you can buy whatever products you liked right there.

          2. Claire*

            Hmmm, maybe this is different based on location but I have never had a good makeup counter push unsuitable products on me. Anyone who tried that would NOT be getting repeat custom and their management would hear why. It would never occur to me to pay for a makeup lesson!

    4. Nina*

      For the sweating issue, I’ve heard those Evian facial sprays work well. You could also try waterproof makeup.

      I had a job that also required makeup, so I wore the bare minimum. I just can’t be bothered with it sometimes. Also in my early 30s. :)

      At any rate, I stick to the basics, such as foundation, concealer, lipstick, and eyeshadow. I only started wearing primer recently, but I heard it can make you break out, so I’m iffy on it. I would go to a makeup counter for a hands-on tutorial, and explain that this is for work, not for clubbing or going out. Something natural and subtle would be your best bet. They can show you what shades work with your skin tone, how to apply, what to accent, and how to re-apply, etc. Good luck!

    5. Bend & Snap*

      Go to sephora! They know their stuff and don’t work on commission. You can do a full consult if you buy I think $50 of product.

      I’m a VIB Rouge (super buyer) and shop there for both the products and the expertise. Also I’ve perfected the perfect daytime face that takes less than 10 minutes!

      1. Lizzy May*

        I was going to suggest this too. Nothing wrong with getting some help on this. I’ve gotten pretty good with makeup over the years, but any time I have someone do it for me it looks amazing and I learn something new.

      2. Christy*

        Yes, this! I was going to suggest the MAC counter in a Nordstrom. I’m 26 and just learned how to do makeup. I went in, explained my situation, explained how long I wanted my makeup to take, and the young man who did my face taught me as he was going, and he explained ways to simplify as he went. It’s not cheap, but it’s a great way to learn, plus you get great makeup out of it!

      3. Observer*

        If you don’t have a Sephora, try Clinique. What’s nice is that they often have products for specific skin types. When my oldest daughter started wearing make up, I took her to the local Clinique and told the woman 1. She has almost no experience with makeup, since she couldn’t really experiment with mine (we are totally different in terms of skin type and coloring.) 2. She does not want to wear tons of makeup or feel like she’s in facepaint. and 3. She wants something that can give the “put together” look in a short time. It was an excellent start for her.

        I’ve had mixed experience with MAC (in one case they got the coloring for my daughter so wrong that she looked like she was on the verge of jaundice – very yellow.)

      4. Samantha*

        +1. They’ll help you find the right shades/tones for your skin tone, which can be tricky when you’re just starting off with makeup. If you tell them you want a quick day time face, they should be able to guide you in the right direction.

      5. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Second this suggestion –or try a Bobbi Brown consultant at Nordstrom (or other makeup line that you think you might like). The advantage to Sephora as Bend & Snap mentions is that they aren’t committed to a certain line of makeup so can help you pick out the ones that are the best color matches, etc. Plus, if you don’t like it (makes you break out, oxidizes an hour later, whatever) you can return it no questions asked.

        My tips:
        As in the kitchen, good tools matter! If your consultant uses a makeup brush to put on foundation, you won’t get the same results with your fingers or a sponge. Shiseido really does make a better eyelash curler, spend the extra five dollars. I find tools can sometimes make more difference than the product itself.

        Sweat: Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray (they also have one for oil control). I once got got caught in pouring rain and my makeup didn’t budge, including my non-waterproof mascara. I’m not a primer wearer but they also make a highly recommended primer.

        You can do it, and faster than you think– it took me ’til my forties to really learn to pull off that “polished” look and it was only because I switched jobs and it was an expectation. Once you do it all the time, it becomes easier and you learn what works for you. I’ve dragged a few co-workers into Sephora when they have specific desires (like how to do eyebrows) and they have been pleased with the results.

    6. Boo*

      I’d keep it simple and fairly natural if you’re new to wearing makeup. If you’re prone to sweating but have good skin then keep it very light – I only wear moisturiser, undereye concealer and a light powder. It lasts, looks natural, doesn’t show if I get a bit hot and stops my pores getting clogged up. Unlike the other commenters, I’d recommend some lipstick or bright lipgloss (gloss probably easier to apply and maintain if you’re not used to lipstick) – it’s a super quick and easy way to look pulled together and like you’re wearing makeup with minimum effort. Other than that I just wear some mascara and white eyeliner on the lower inner eye in an attempt to look a bit more awake.

    7. matcha123*

      I’m the same as you. And while I haven’t worked at a place that made make-up a requirement, it was somewhat expected. I ignored it until a year and a half ago, and since then I’ve been trying to figure out what works for me.

      In my case, I look at YouTube tutorials at times, but I don’t and can’t follow them. Those tutorials are done by people with brushes and who also know what colors look good on them and a whole bunch of other stuff.

      I don’t wear foundation because it’s a pain and my forehead, nose, cheeks and eyelids get oily after a few hours…and it’s difficult for me to find a color that matches my skin tone.

      Anyways, first I put on some lotion, then lotion that helps control oil. These days I’ve been using the Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color for my eyelids and some black eyeliner at the outside edge of my top lid.
      If you can find a blush that looks natural and a lip gloss you should be good to go. Again, this all depends on you.

      In my case, I choose colors that are not bold and that don’t make me look like I’m wearing makeup (I hope).

      I don’t really fix anything at work because I don’t think about it much. My female coworkers all truck to the bathroom after lunch to fix their makeup, however. I do tend to carry wet wipes with me if: a) I want to redo everything or b) I want to wipe off everything :)

      I hope that helps some…

    8. Lamb*

      I can think of no reason your mascara should ever not be waterproof. Whether its sweat or rain or a tear from something getting in your eye, there will at some point be moisture in that general vicinity.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Hahaha, I HATE waterproof mascara. It is so much harder to wash off! And I just don’t have that much problem with my mascara smearing or anything, so the trade-off isn’t worth it to me!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Put on regular mascara first, and then put on a coat of waterproof over the top. Then it’s a bit easier to wash off but it still keeps you from dribbling black all over your face if you cry at the movies or anything. I tried this and it pretty much worked.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I gave up trying to figure it out and I went to a store that sells just make up. I asked for a makeover. (I never said that I did not wear make up before.) I asked the lady to keep it simple and I wanted products that were not a lot of chemicals. (This place had stuff that was natural or low chemical.)

      I am still following the advice I learned that day. If you go, be sure to ask questions until you understand what you need to know. The best part of this was the lady narrowed down my choices for me. There are so many choices in makeup, that what I was giving up and walking away. I could not be bothered to sort through all those choices.

    10. Jennifer M.*

      If you are new to makeup, I’d keep it simple. Maybe don’t jump right into foundation, just start with tinted moisturizer. Sephora has blotting papers that can reduce shine. Peter Thomas Roth has these loose powder applicator thingies that also have SPF (called Instand Mineral Powder). Maybe a little eyeliner, mascara (I’m crappy at mascara but I can do okay for just a little dab as it were), and lip gloss. The key to YouTube videos when it comes to eye make up is to understand that different shaped eyes need different styles of make up. So if try something you saw online and it doesn’t look right on you, it might not be your application skills that are the problem. On the Smashbox website, they have a video called “Shape Matters” that will help you figure out what your eye shape is (on the home page, go to Looks, and then to Videos).

    11. Kat A.*

      After applying foundation, use a compact face powder with powder puff. Dab the powder all around your face and neck. That will help with the sweating.

      When you’ve applied all your makeup, set the makeup with Make Up For Ever’s mist & fix. It’s like hairspray for a made-up face and can be bought from Sephora.

    12. fposte*

      There are a million different ways to “just wear a little makeup,” so I’ll jump in with mine. I hate foundation and never wear it; I will wear lipstick, pencil eyeliner (smudge with finger), and mascara, and put on blush/bronzer for definition if I’m feeling ambitious. To me that’s focusing on the most “bang for the buck” elements, and it’s maybe three minutes.

      1. Jean*

        Sounds like my routine: pencil eyeliner, lip liner and lip color. That’s it. I’m sure blush would improve things but I don’t care if I’m running around pale (well, actually, pale and slightly sallow–gold-based not pink-based caucasian complexion). I also hate foundation. Would _love_ to wear mascara but it’s not worth enduring the itchy eyelids!

        (Years ago I horrified a lady at a cosmetics counter by asking for products that could be applied in the car while driving then-toddler-aged DS to day care. I just realized that her dismay was less about my disrespect for the products than about the idea of me driving while putting on makeup. Honestly, lady, I only do this when the car is stopped at a red light.)

        Brands: NYX pencils for eyes & lips; Ulta pencil or Burt’s Bee’s gloss for lips. Almay blusher at present. I may try a non-animal-brand next time around. I’m not a rigorous vegan or even a vegetarian, just someone trying to impact a few less animals when I get somewhat frivolous.

    13. Stephanie*

      Go to a makeup counter and ask for tips. I’d be firm about your budget. For the sweating, I would get blotting papers and try a lighter mineral foundation.

      I’m with you on the YouTube tutorials. I tried watching hair videos when I first went natural and most were just not super helpful.

    14. Sunflower*

      I sweat a lot and i recommend make setting spray. I use elf (all elf products are sold at target and super cheap). Id also recommend gel eyeliner. I used to use pencil and it would be down my face after and hour or two. Gel i can practically sleep in and wake up looking almost fresh

    15. louise*

      This may be way too elementary, but it revolutionized make up for me: well groomed eyebrows.

      In college I remember looking through a yearbook trying to figure out what made some people just look “put together” when I lived with them and knew for a fact they didn’t all wear tons of makeup (some did, but not that many) whereas no matter how much make up I caked on, I still never looked put together.

      It was the eyebrows, I decided. Mine are really sparse, so when I want to look put together, I fill them in. Likewise, a friend who always looked a little wild started getting hers waxed and she looked a million times more polished without changing anything else.

      I’d also say to curl your lashes if they don’t naturally; that makes one look much wider-eyed and alert.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Yeeeeesssssss to the eyebrows. I’ve always had really pale eyebrows, but I didn’t start filling them in until I got an Ofra universal brow pencil in an Ipsy bag; I love love love it, and I highly recommend it for eyebrows! It and mascara are basically the two things I wear everyday (plus a tinted BabyLips in my bag).

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes! I went and got my eyebrows threaded for the first time not too long ago, and I feel like I need just powder and lip gloss now for a pulled-together look (I rely on my glasses frames to outline my eyes).

    16. Diet Coke Addict*

      Don’t get overwhelmed. There is a TON of beauty stuff out there and lots of it is targeted at intermediate-looking-to-become-advanced.

      Groom your eyebrows to become a frame for the face. Try getting them waxed or threaded, and buy a good pair of tweezers and just keep up with them. A little brow powder and wax can be an awesome start to looking “made-up.”

      Foundation is tricky. You can start with a BB cream or tinted moisturizer instead, of which there are tons of relatively inexpensive ones in drugstores. They go on just like moisturizer and help to smooth out a little imperfections. I never wear foundation–BB cream only–which does enough to smooth out and even out my skin tone.

      Pick one feature to make up per day. Eyes or lips, but not both. If you want to go with a bright red lip, eyes should be neutral. Bold eye makeup calls for a subdued lip.

      Practice! It’s not easy to start with, for anyone. Get yourself a bottle of makeup remover and go to town practicing with a cheapie drugstore eye makeup palette. Practice applying eyeliner and shadow–it’s awkward at first because you’re not going to be used to the process and it will feel like you have too many hands. Just work at it.

      For colouring, usually neutrals are a good bet for work. If you go to Sephora, stress that you’re looking for a neutral, work-appropriate colour scheme, as certain brands are better for this. Bobbi Brown, Laura Mercier, and Clinique are usually great for this. MAC tends to be more dramatic. Urban Decay has some eyeshadow palettes called Naked (and Naked2 and Naked3) that are just fantastic neutral shadow looks, very buildable and awesome for work. They’re pricey, though, so maybe not a great starting place.

      Good luck!

    17. Lori C*

      I suggest going to a Merle Norman location. They will help you with the correct color for your base, powder and will show you how to apply everything. Tell them you are new to all this and want to keep it simple. Tell them you sweat easily. They also have wonderful skin care products.

      Also check into Mary Kay. A consultant should be able to help you pick out the proper colors for foundation and eye shadow and show you how to apply everything. Again, tell her your needs.

      There will be trial and error. For instance, Merle Norman suggested lip liner. I tried it and bought a few. Decided it makes me look like a clown. I use the liners instead on my lips and apply lipstick or gloss over that.

    18. WorkerBee*

      A few suggestions:

      *skincare is just as important as makeup – your makeup will look better if you take care of your skin. If you don’t have a skincare regimen, get a cleanser and a couple of products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid (helps the moisturizer absorb) and retinol (fights signs of aging), plus a moisturizer. Find a good sunblock and use it every day, no matter your skin tone. I love Asian brands: Biore Aqua, Missha… Asian sunblock tends to give you solid protection without a white cast or too much oil for your makeup to stick to your face after you apply.

      *for makeup, it’s worth buying just a few items that are better quality. It’s an investment, but a well-matched foundation to even your skintone (they have a tool at Sephora that analyzes your tone and computer matches you, it’s worth the trip), a Naked Basics palette from Urban Decay, and a good quality blush will go a long way toward offsetting your inexperience with makeup – it’s much harder to make drugstore versions of these choices work for you if you’re not well-versed. (NYX blush from the drugstore can work, but it depends on your skintone) Go with drugstore mascara at first, e.g. clump crusher, to avoid the dreaded tarantula lashes.

      *primer and makeup setting spray will be your best friends. Try monistat complete care chafing relief powder gel as a primer. It’s way less expensive than makeup brands and works really well. This may also help with the sweating issue. I don’t personally use setting spray, but NYX makes a setting spray that you could try without a huge $ investment.

    19. Mints*

      My two cents of “just a little make up” is foundation, blush, mascara, and lip stain.

      Specific products: Revlon color stay foundation. It lasts forever! It will not wipe off until you actually wash it. I wear it in the summer, and I sweat through the foundation, and it’ll fade a little, but still stays on.

      Revlon just bitten lip stain. It doesn’t last quite as long as the foundation but it’s my favorite long lasting lipstick with nice texture.

      (For lip products, googling the specific product type + swatches will get you pictures of bajillions of amateur beauty bloggers wearing the lip stick. This is helpful to see that like the Crayola orange lip stick turns out peachy when worn)

      Mascara should always be waterproof. I don’t know why you’d wear non waterproof

    20. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I highly recommend Ipsy! They’re a beauty-box thing that’s only $10 a month, and they send you just random stuff to try. It’s a great way to expose yourself to new stuff and try out lots of different brands inexpensively. It’s because of them that I discovered Ofra’s universal brow pencil. I’d never penciled my brows before, and now I do every day. I also got a Tarte mascara that I really love, and they even send brushes and hair stuff.

      Mascara is great for looking awake, and is relatively easy to wear (if you put it on, and you think it looks weird but can’t figure out why, try getting an eyelash curler, that might do the trick). I love Elizabeth Mott’s Tints and Sass lip stain; I put it on and then some tinted BabyLips (or my new NYX Butter tinted gloss from Ipsy) during the day to “refresh” the color. Super easy.

      And for eyeshadow, I just use a single color on my entire lid (and about halfway up to my eyebrow). I guess it’s easier for me to do that because I have glasses, but it’s always looked fine to me, and is way easier than trying to do the whole “one color on the lid, another in the crease,” etc stuff.

      For eyeliner, the biggest tip I can give you is to find a friend that you think has good looking eyeliner, and ask if you can watch them put it on themselves. I’d never been able to figure out how to do liner right, but then I happened to watch a friend put some on at work before her shift started, and *suddenly it all made sense.*

    21. Golden Yeti*

      I don’t know that I would have advice far as the perspiration and such, but I’ll definitely share my routine if it helps. I would suggest if you’re feeling experimental, do it on like a Saturday when you’re just lounging around the house. That way, if it doesn’t go your way, you’re not stuck wearing it.

      Since you are looking for something simple, I’d probably do something along the lines of what I do when I’m travelling: lots of pencils. I use ELF primer, a BB cream for foundation (it has spf in it), concealer, powder, and mascara. Other than maybe a bit of blush (which you could get in a stick form, too, but that can go wrong easily), that’s all you need; anything else is bonus. Lots of companies are coming out with eye colour and lip colour crayons. I use those when travelling because they’re quick and compact, and for the eyes, you can just blend it in with your finger.

      1. Saucy Minx*

        I have oily skin & can’t abide foundation. Or powder.

        For many years now I have used lip stain both on the lips & for blush, & a touch of eye pencil for definition. That’s my basic effort.

        Maybe two years ago I learned about the importance of well-groomed eyebrows, & it would be worth it to have that done professionally. If I have more of an occasion than the blush effort works for, I use eyebrow pencil & brush it into subtlety.

        Skip the mascara & have professional lash tinting.

    22. EG*

      I recommend mineral makeup. I never have been a big fan of makeup and don’t like heavy application. Bare Minerals is my preferred brand, and the employees at Sephora were great at helping me pick a foundation color and everything. Fortunately I don’t have to wear makeup at work, but when I feel like it I can apply everything in about 10-15 minutes, look nice, and not feel like I’m actually wearing makeup.

    1. Guy Incognito*

      Ive got such a crush on a girl I met on holiday in the summer and she’s amazing.

      We are friends on Facebook and she posts loads of stuff, including links to her blog posts which I love reading. I swear to god my heart skipped a beat when she posted a joke that referenced one of my favourite comedies and coding languages.

      I’d love to ask her out but just can’t work up the courage.

      1. nep*

        I hear you. Truly, enjoying the crush is better than making the move to ask out if the answer turns out to be no. On the other hand, if it’s yes — Wow.

      2. Jean*

        Why not find the courage? You could ask her for something friendly and low-key, like coffee or hanging around browsing a computer fair or a flea market, and see how it goes. Dating doesn’t have to be 100% Officially Romantic with dinners and movies! (Disclaimer: My advice may be terribly misinformed. I hated Dating-with-a-D when I was single and am now many years removed from the current scene. On the other hand, there’s no need to conform if the current “scene” just seems repellant or exasperating.)

      3. Clever Name*

        The worst that can happen is she’ll say no, right? Yeah, you may feel a little embarrassed, but to you want to spend the rest of your life wondering what if? You can do it! :)

        I highly recommend the Dr. Nerdlove blog. Check it out. :)

      4. Guy Incognito*

        Thanks for the advice but I just don’t think she’s interested in me like that, nothing she’s said or done has given me the slightest indication she would want to date me and I can’t see any reason she would.

        It’s seriously embarrassing how bad I am at talking to women I’m interested in, the nerdy guys in the Big Bang theory have a better love life than me.

        1. Jean*

          Social conversation gets better with practice. I used to feel uncomfortable and shy around people. Think of it this way–for a while you’ll still feel “bad at talking to women” who interest you, but at the same time you’ll be building some skills or at least subduing some of the awkwardness.
          Or, think of it this way: while you may feel clumsy, you can take pride in being a gentleman, not a creep (of the love ’em and leave ’em variety). But Gah my own advice sounds pompous! Time to defer to the experts (Capt. Awkward, Dr. Nerdlove, Carolyn Hax and whomever else is in the business; and yes, I still miss Ann Landers).

    2. $.02*

      I think my manager has a crush on me. I used to read these stories and never thought it could be me. I’m almost certain. She is three years younger than me and she wants all details about what I did for my wife the previous weekend/day. It’s more than been just nice, I know. I will leave it alone. Oh and we’re both married.

  12. Relosa*

    I get to see my dog in three days!! I have missed him so much during this move. I can’t wait to get those hugs!!

      1. Relosa*

        He better be! My niece and sister, who were keeping him for most of his extended stay said he was doing just fine without me. So mean :P But then I one-upped them and sent a video of me squeaking his favorite toy and calling his name. Then they stopped gloating :)

  13. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

    Everyone, all of you, everyone must please come to my house and eat: All. Of. The. Leftover. Food.

    I am begging you. Please.

    (Apparently I thought 6 for Christmas was 60.)

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Yay!

        Just made the last half of the spiral ham into ham salad. It’s a LOT of ham salad.

        I have bread. And a lottttttttttt of crackers so come hungry!

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            Great!

            (Of course I’ll have to go back to the bakery for bread because good bread never lasts that long. Dammit, I’m trapped in a web of food.)

        1. Windchime*

          I bought a 7 pound spiral ham. For four people who had been eating cookies and fudge all day. Most of it is now in the freezer.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Excellent.

        We are almost out of deserts but so much cheese and fruit, and that’s much more elegant, right?

    1. Elkay*

      I’ll be there as soon as we get through ours, we’re nearly down to just turkey so I won’t be long. I’ve got to make stock today for soup.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        I have an entire smoked turkey that never even got opened. Turkey, not breast, a whole freaking turkey.

        I am insane. (I have today to decide whether to freeze it or to open it. Things that go in our freezer don’t usually come out again.)

        1. Kinrowan*

          Someone at work brought their leftovers on Friday and invited everyone (it was a very small crew on Friday) to come and partake during lunch. It was fun! Maybe you could bring at least some to work?

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I would help, but I’m nearing the end of a 4-day eating-my-way-through-Charleston mini-vacation and I don’t think it would be prudent. I may actually skip breakfast today. For the first time in my adult life.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I am! I love it here– bf’s sister lives here, but this is the first time we’ve taken extra days (usually we come for Christmas and then have to get back to work right away, plus there’s family) and really enjoyed ourselves. I threw caution (or… my credit card) to the wind and said, “Screw this, I wanna go to McCrady’s.” And we did. And it was glorious.

          Just got back from breakfast, btw.

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

            Don’t stop there!

            Go up to NC to see Vivian from a Chef’s Life. I have plotted a pilgrimage to her, which I will never take, so you must go in my stead.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Confession, or rather, revelation: we live in NC now. About an hour from Vivian’s restaurant. I have not met her, but I have seen her wares at Southern Season. :)

    3. The Other Dawn*

      It takes awhile to get the hang of cooking for multiple people. It gets better, but after years I still make too much.

      What mucked it all up last year was that ,the year before, my in-laws cleared us out of every scrap of food. I made chicken parmesan for the first time, along with pasta and meatballs. They ate it all. Every scrap. When I say every scrap and crumb, I’m not exaggerating; I had no leftovers whatsoever and nothing to scrape from the dishes. I had to mix in frozen Swedish style meatballs with the regular Italian meatballs because they were on the very of eating it all and they still finished all that, too! Ate all the bread and salad, too. And it wasn’t like I was short on food.

      So last year I made a different meal, but made more of it in order to account for the previous year’s experience. Same people, same appetites, but I had SO much food leftover! Looked like they didn’t even touch it, even though they ate about the same amount. I just way overestimated to make up for the previous year.

      Didn’t cook this year so didn’t have a chance to make just the right amount. Maybe next year.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Well, in my defense, I am feeding people for two days for the holiday. We start at 11am Christmas Eve when the in-laws arrive and the holiday doesn’t end until late Christmas night.

        This allows me to make multiplication errors of a greater magnitude because it’s essentially 6 meals. Three times too much times six!

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’ve finished off the crackers and most of the cheese, but I’m still working on two ribs from the rib roast and the remains of the ham.

      So I’ll be ready to help with yours by tomorrow. *urp*

      That is, if I can get out of my chair.

    5. louise*

      Oh! Sadly, we have nothing delicious at our house, for I suffered from some sort of Stomach Plague and from Tuesday-Friday, food was most certainly the enemy. No wonderful holiday leftovers as a result. :(

    6. Clerica*

      Well, better to have too much than to do what my father’s wife did one year, and make maybe 2-3 servings of everything to feed six adults and a toddler. It felt like we should be sitting around a tea party table with plastic dishes and a few stuffed animals.

      There are errors borne of love and those borne of just not giving a damn. Yours was the former.

    7. A. D. Kay*

      A coworker is a hunter and gave us a 17-lb feral hog from his amply stocked deep freeze. We roasted it whole and now have soooo much pork to share with family and friends. This is in Texas, BTW, where feral pigs are a very destructive invasive species.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        I just had this conversation two weeks ago!

        Supplier was going on about a helicopter hunt of pigs and I was horrified because I was thinking, you know, Wilbur. Then I learned about feral pigs and saw the pictures.

        Woah baby. That’s way more than Some Pig.

        1. A. D. Kay*

          I hate the idea of helicopter hunts, but DAMN those hogs are so destructive. I think by last count there were about a million feral hogs in Texas. Anyway, I know coworker is a good shot, so I don’t feel too bad about where our yummy roast pork came from.

    8. Vancouver Reader*

      You’re my hero. :) I think anyone who makes way too much food for a festive meal is awesome. I do the same; my friend teased me this year when I dropped the lasagne on the floor, “only in your house would one hear, well there’s still steak and lobster.”

    9. Clever Name*

      Sadly no leftovers here….yet. The plague visited our house starting Christmas Eve and I am just now cooking christmas dinner.

    10. ThursdaysGeek*

      If you want, I can turn most of it into soup, which can then be frozen in individual containers and used for lunches. I’m the master of soup and freezing.

  14. Schmitt*

    So did all that amazing-sounding holiday food turn out OK? Or were there some disasters?

    My turkey was done more than half an hour before expected – before our guests even arrived – so I took a page from my mother-in-law’s book and popped it under a down comforter. Then our guests forgot the dessert they were bringing and went back to pick it up, adding another forty minutes on. :-O I put the turkey back in the oven at a lower temperature while we ate soup & salad and that worked out perfectly.

    The real hit of the night was the wilted spinach salad. The dressing is one teaspoon honey, three tablespoons olive oil, three tablespoons raspberry balsamic; for four people I made a double batch. The fresh spinach was unfortunately not the best, so I chose to warm the dressing and pour it over the spinach to wilt it which hid the freeze-damaged parts a bit ;) but I’ve done the same salad without wilting it. It’s topped with equal parts bacon bits and cranberries, and about half that in sliced almonds. I go heavy on the toppings ’cause if there are toppings left without spinach I will totally eat those for leftovers anyway.

    What was your favorite this year?

    1. RFWL*

      We are cat sitting for a friend in a really tiny flat in north London and I STILL managed to make a pretty damn good Beef Wellington for me and the boy in a kitchen the size of a postage stamp. We didn’t do gifts this year, so we opted to get a really nice (and pricey – oof) piece of meat and make a Wellington. My first time at the circus and it turned out really good, just beautiful, despite having to guess on the meat because we realized too late the meat thermometer was broken.

      Coupled that with what was supposed to be a red wine shallot gravy but I reduced it too far and made a jam instead. THAT was a happy accident because the sweet shallots lightened the heavy meat very nicely. Did some garlic mashed potatoes and a shaved brussel sprouts salad and we had an amazing dinner together (or rather, multiple dinners and we are still eating leftovers :/)

    2. Elkay*

      The roast potatoes were ready half an hour early so they had to go into the top oven. I made too much dessert as per usual but after six years I worked out I could always just split one dessert between the two of us and freeze the other one (ingredients can’t be divided up any smaller than the recipe I use). I was so pleased with this revelation that I wrote it down on my recipe because I know I’ll never remember next year.

    3. Robyn*

      I timed everything to perfection this year and we sat down at 330 exactly. I was a bit proud of that!

      My favourite part was glazed carrot and turnips. Any excuse to pour butter and sugar over vegetables.

      I even like the turkey this year, and I don’t really like turkey!

    4. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      The hit of our festivities was cheese. I bought an insane amount of food (as referenced above), but the cheese was so good, and so interactive, everybody wanted to sit around and eat cheese.

      It was last minute decision, Christmas Eve Eve, to pick up a bunch of cheeses from DiBruno Brothers. (I’ll post a link in reply to this.) The big hit was the cheese spreads. I also did 8 different kinds of olives from an olive bar, so lots of conversation back and forth and “oh, try this one!” and such.

      What cracked me up was how much marathoning Top Chef changed my service. I snapped at my husband “that does not go there. That goes at the drink station over THERE.” (pointing dramatically at my juices and seltzer and sparkling wine set up area). He rolled his eyes and said “Stop watching that show. You would have never said ‘station’ before that show!”

      I always serve small plates but usually I do it buffet and this year I brought out courses (beef, seafood, etc., was the plan, and yeah, I watch a lot of Top Chef). We really got stuck at cheese and it was hard to move anybody off of that, they were having so much fun.

      1. ProductiveDyslexic*

        We were ready for the cheese course by the time the Downton Xmas special came on. Cheese is the food of the gods.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          I am so jealous of the British tradition of Christmas Specials, moreso now that I am watching many BBC shows on United States delay schedule. I get your Christmas Specials only in what, July? They should figure out how to pay per view them here and see how that works out. I’d have happily paid for the Downton Christmas Special on Christmas.

          With my cheese!

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

          True story.

          If anyone remembers my cheese board conversation from the other week, it’s a true story that:

          I sold cheese boards to DiBruno Bros.

          TRUE STORY.

          Possibly the best thing that ever happened to me in my entire life. :) (slight exaggeration :p)

      2. Elkay*

        I love cheese but I didn’t get to fully appreciate it this year because it fell in the middle of my “I’m not really hungry but I’ll just eat all this food” days. I should have asked for leftovers…

      3. ThursdaysGeek*

        A couple of years ago for Christmas eve I had what I called a cheese creche. I had cow cheese, sheep cheese, and goat cheese. I wanted camel cheese but our local cheese store didn’t have that. The did have water buffalo cheese, but I didn’t want the huge package they had. Yay to Cheese Louise!

    5. ProductiveDyslexic*

      The wilted spinach sounds delicious.

      I had two major vegetable-based hits this year. First was the mini orange/purple carrots and parsnips, roasted in olive oil with a light dusting of semolina, garlic powder, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Second was the sprouts and pancetta. The key here was the chopping of the sprouts into very very small bits (accomplished with an amazing alligator chopper) so that the non-sprout lovers did not realize they were eating sprouts.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I wouldn’t say it was a disaster. Just timing issues in one case and lack of correct ingredients in the other. Both came together in the end.

      The first was dinner at my sister’s house on Christmas. She made a lasagna, which was delicious. She also made a small ham as an afterthought. As such, she didn’t have the usual mustard, brown sugar, pineapple, cherries and cloves we us to coat the ham (this all creates a delicious gravy, along with some cherry juice and pineapple juice). After searching the cabinets we settled on honey mustard and pineapple. It actually came out good and we managed to make a sweet gravy from it.

      Last night we had dinner at dad’s house two states away. Sister made another lasagna, plus we had roast beef. She put the lasagna in the oven and thought she turned the oven on. Checked a half an hour later and it turned out she didn’t hit “start” so the oven was ice cold. had to blast the oven at 450 to get the lasagna going. Roast beef finished way a head of schedule; my dad uses one of those rotisserie machines – pain in the ass to clean – , so it cooks faster. The second roast in the oven was behind schedule. The final result? A perfectly cooked lasagna, one roast well-done for those who like it, and one roast medium-rare for those who like that better (me!). In the end, we were waiting on the frozen corn in the microwave.

    7. Noel*

      No real disasters. I made brandied carrots and thought I’d put too much sugar in (not a fan of tons of sugar in vegetables) so I scooped some out, and they turned out really good. Everyone raved about them. The onion pie also turned out well and was not too greasy. Two go-to recipes for me and they both turned out well. My mom made this amazing mushroom gravy with the Cornish Game hen drippings and I really want to try making it myself for the next dinner party I put on. The real annoyance was my husband, who didn’t have to work on Christmas Eve when I did, so he thought he’d “help” by chopping the onions and the carrots and browning the pork. Which meant that he left peels in the onions and carrot ends and tops in the carrots, and basically braised the pork instead of browning it because he put way too much olive oil in the pan and didn’t leave the pork in long enough to get good and brown. I love the man, but there’s a reason why I do 95% of the cooking around here.

    8. the gold digger*

      We had a grilled beef tenderloin stuffed with blue cheese and fresh thyme, roasted potatoes and fennel, macaroni and (goat) cheese, roasted curried cauliflower with garlic mint yogurt sauce, and apple pie. (Most of that stuff was leftovers from earlier in the week – I did not want to spend all day Thursday cooking.)

      Then we ate while we watched the first few episodes of season 2 of House of Cards. Even after running for state office and for Congress, even after being pretty involved in the politics of local politics, my engineer/politician husband was shocked at Frank. I am shocked that Primo can be shocked at bad behavior in politics. I expect the worst from politicians.

    9. Aam Admi*

      I do not celebrate Christmas. Having no family here, I have usually spent the holidays at home alone relaxing and reading books. My co-worker invited me for Christmas Dinner with just her and the kids. I am a vegetarian and predominant rice eater. For Christmas Dinner this year I ate Turkey and stuffing for the first time in my life. It was a really nice experience.

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      As I mentioned above, I dropped the pan of lasagne on the floor on Christmas day. Boxing Day, we were invited to the sister-in-law’s for dinner, with the rest of the family, so I made a really nice red cabbage slaw with a cranberry dressing. Husband ended up having an anxiety attack there and so we had to leave without getting any dinner.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I cooked only for me–I was on my own this year because I had to work on Friday and it just wasn’t worth making a six-hour drive in one day (three over, three back). I made a ham steak with apricot jam sauce (hot water in the jam, pour it over the ham steak, and cook it in a covered frying pan), peas almondine (toasted slivered almonds, frozen peas, and butter, microwaved), and those delicious jarred picked beets. AND:

      Just for the hell of it, I made my very first Yorkshire puddings. From scratch. They came out fantastic (just a little bit too much oil, but that wasn’t a problem) and were so delicious it was hard not to eat them all at once. i.imgur.com/hDfDunq.jpg

  15. Etzi*

    How to deal with moving out when you’re really close to your parents?

    I’m in Europe where it is much more common to live at home longer, especially if you go to college in the same city (which I did), and with high unemployment rates the outlook is not good for many young people. I’m 26 and lucky to have found a great job a while ago, and if everything works out with an apartment, I’ll probably be moving out in the next few weeks, which I’m simultaneously really excited about and also a bit scared of.

    I know and feel that it’s “time”, and I think it will be a good thing even for our relationship, let alone for me as a person, but I still get these pangs of sadness because things won’t be the same and I have a hard time letting go.

    Has anything helped you make the transition if you’ve felt similarly?

    1. matcha123*

      I moved to Japan after living at home all of my life. I was really looking forward to trying things on my own. At the same time, I knew that my mom was very stressed about the whole thing. I set up times to call her and spent a lot of time answering her emails.

      My first two years, we talked every weekend for hours at a time.

      It might make you all feel better if you “check in” with an update about your life and such. It certainly doesn’t have to be for hours, but I think that parents feel better when they can hear your voice and hear that you’re well.

      I was also very nervous about moving out, but I reminded myself that this was what I wanted and that if I didn’t take this chance, I’d regret it forever.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Are you staying in the same city? You and your parents could establish some new routines, like you go over for Sunday dinner, or go shopping together on Thursday nights, or a weekly film together.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        Call your mother.

        Always, call your mother. (or Skype her!)

        Ya’ll are meant to be out on your own. That’s why we did it in the first place. Just, call your mother.

        1. Golden Yeti*

          Seconded. I also moved far away, and having a sort of routine of when I’ll talk to my family (usually once or twice a week, unless there’s big news) helps a lot.

  16. Anonymouse*

    To all of you in academia out there:

    I’m in my 4th quarter/second year of a graduate program in the social sciences (PHD). My final grades were posted today, and I received a B in one class. How worried should I be about this?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      How did you do otherwise? Is your funding dependent on a certain gpa? I honestly wouldn’t sweat a B. No one outside of academia will care about your gpa, if that’s the concern– the doctorate only is plenty.

      1. Sophia*

        And really, no one in academia cares about grades either, unless there’s a gpa requirement for school. Only other grad students care, and some fellowships that have grade specifications

    2. Tasha*

      I’m in a similar position, although I’ll be leaving this spring with a Masters for unrelated reasons, and senior PhD students and postdocs have told me that grades don’t matter but the quality of one’s research does. According to them, most employers of PhD’s ask for a diploma but not for transcripts.

      I was also really worried when I received a non-A for the first time in my life, but eventually life moved on and I focused on the next semester. (At my university, a B is still sufficient to remain in “good standing,” and I think that’s fairly typical.)

    3. Jennifer M.*

      Have you checked your program guidelines? In my MA program anything lower than a B was failing (well, not failing, but couldn’t count it towards my coursework for graduation), but a B itself was fine. This was completely separate from any grade requirements for my fellowship.

      1. fposte*

        In most grad programs, a B is passing but it’s not actually fine. I’d actually be more concerned with a B in a non-terminal master’s program, because it’s a way of saying “This person should not go on to a PhD.”

        1. Artemesia*

          This. A B in one course, especially if it is not a core course, is not cause for panic, but it is worrisome as it is basically the lowest grade you can get and even get credit for the course. Bs are a message to students in the masters phase of the program that they should rethink continuing to the PhD. If it is in one of the tool skills courses, it is also a message to put more effort into this facet of the program. I might have a conversation with my adviser about it. If it is essentially an elective course or a cognate, it is less an issue than if it is one of the central required courses in the PhD sequence. One B won’t make any difference in the long run. But it deserves some reflection.

    4. fposte*

      It’s not great, in most programs, but if it’s coursework for the PhD it’s not necessarily going to stop your forward movement–you’ll probably never show this grade to anybody in a job or educational context. What I’d do is talk to your advisor about its impact when the new semester starts. Is it from a professor that you were hoping to work with or somebody more peripheral? Is it in a core area for you or is it filler-y? Do you have B+s on your record as well or are you otherwise all at the A level?

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        All of this. I’d be concerned, and answer all the questions fposte suggested. In my PhD program a B was definitely a vote of no confidence. But a lot depends on the answers to the above. I can’ t remember whether any of my research fellowships required transcripts but that is the only area that a single grade might matter — in general it’s as BRR says, recs and research are more important.

    5. BRR*

      If you’re asking about it in terms of your program you should be fine. As others said, check your school policy.

      If you’re worried about it in terms of getting a job in academia you’ll be fine if your other grades are good, you have good letters of reference, and you have good research that is published.

          1. Artemesia*

            Someone who didn’t get good grades in grad school won’t have the references needed to obtain an academic job. The people who get those jobs are the ones who have important professors saying ‘this is the best student we have seen in years.’ One B depending on the subject matter maybe no big deal — but more than that or Bs in the major course of study then important professors are not going to be pushing one forward to the rare research and then future employment opportunities.

  17. nep*

    Not seeking advice here — just would like to hear of people’s experiences, insights. Anyone watching a sibling (or other loved one) essentially drink him / her self to death?

    1. Nina*

      My father pretty much did, sadly. He’d been drinking since as long as I could remember, and eventually, he developed pancreatitis (common with alcoholism) and diabetes (genetic.) His health continued to nosedive and eventually he passed away. Cliched as it sounds, it’s a cruel disease that destroys families. Despite all the shit he put us through, I loved him a lot and still miss him.

      1. nep*

        That is rough. I get it — that despite it all you loved him and miss him. My dad (deceased) was an alcoholic too. Now my brother. And his daughter (who’s got an eight-month-old child) headed down the same path.

        1. Nina*

          I’m really sorry to hear that. It’s awful when the kids end up doing it, too. My father’s mother drank as well, so he was definitely familiar with it.

          1. nep*

            I really just wish they could come out of the fog of the addiction for a bit to see what’s going on. It is not inevitable that the cycle continue, but they’re acting as if it is.

            1. Jazzy Red*

              You’re right about that, nep. My brother was an alcoholic, but his 3 kids are not. They do drink now and then, but they’ve been very careful about not letting it become a habit. My brother’s alcoholism was a wake up call for me, and I pretty much cut out drinking altogether.

        2. Artemesia*

          It is so sad that your niece didn’t get the message from watching her grandfather and father destroy themselves. Children of alcoholics shouldn’t drink. And it is so awful watching adults destroy their lives and there is nothing you can do about it. My husband’s family has had several people go this path, one of his grandfathers and two of his uncles, and one result is that the rest of the family pretty much avoids alcohol — they are either teetotalers or limit themselves to the occasional drink.

          1. nep*

            Indeed. Seems to me that while the addiction’s got hold, one does not see clearly how destructive it all is to all concerned. Only important thing is being able to drink every day.

          2. nep*

            Her mom’s an alcoholic too. My niece was affected by that as an infant / adolescent. You’d think all this would be enough of a — oh, I don’t know — wake-up call.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I was the lone voice in the wilderness that thought my father drank too much. He ended up with his kidneys crapping out and filling up with fluid. His heart had no room to beat- it was surrounded by fluid.

      I thought I would never stop crying. It was a double whammy losing him and knowing he could have helped himself.

      Life is a movie not a snapshot. I thought about his life and thought about all the sadnesses he saw. I thought about what it was like to be him. He died young, in my opinion. But in his mind he had a full life and he had done as much as he could. And I learned something about drinking. Some people drink because their hearts ache so badly for the people around them. And that describes my dad. I am proud of the fact that he loved other people. When he was compassionate he was OUTSTANDING. And I am proud of my dad for other reasons, too. I learned not to be afraid/stymied by dual thinking, ie, having two opposing thoughts at the same time. Human beings are supposed to see a story from many angles, this means conflicting thoughts are to be expected.

      And finally, I thought about my own life. At some point, MANY years from now, I will decide I have done all I can do. I don’t want anyone arbitrarily deciding that I should live longer- because that is what they want. I decided to love my dad for who he is and that meant respecting his decision. It still sucked, though. Time has been kind to me on all of this.

    3. the gold digger*

      My husband is watching his mother drink herself to death. It is so awful for him. He cannot call his parents after 4 p.m. because that’s when they start drinking. Once they are drinking, they do not remember anything, so they don’t remember that he called or that they talked to him and then they get angry that he is ignoring them.

      Every time he visits, he begs his mother to drink less. She is in her early 70s and has lost 15% of her body weight in the past year. She was quite slim to begin with. She gets almost all her calories from alcohol. She has chronic diarrhea.

      It is a horrible situation – it is breaking my husband’s heart. He doesn’t understand why she won’t stop drinking for him and he is pretty sure she won’t live another year. It’s really hard to watch someone destroy herself like that. She is not my favorite person, but I certainly don’t wish the death of an alcoholic on her. I wish she would just be healthy and nice. My husband is going to suffer greatly when she dies and he will probably beat himself up about it, thinking he should have done more to stop her.

      1. nep*

        I can relate.
        He has nothing to beat himself up about. Easy to say but I think it’s true. A person can’t stop drinking for someone else. S/he has to want it for her/him self.
        It’s a horrible thing to watch and live with. Best wishes to your husband and to you.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          This. I think I always took it really personally that my dad was an alcoholic; like, your three daughters aren’t enough to get you to stop? But I think I feel better when I realize that it was never really about me. He had his own life, and his own shit, and I can feel however I want about it, but it wasn’t going to make him stop if whatever in his life that made him drink like that was still there. Cigarettes beat booze to killing him ultimately, but I think it’s really more that he was too sad to want to live enough to change the way that he lived.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            Cigarettes eventually killed my brother, too. He was in recovery for many years (more than 15), and he was grateful for every sober day that he had.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        It’s just a theory of mine- but I think alcohol and drugs exasperate emotional pain. So let’s say I am in grief over something. A sober version of me might experience the pain on a level of a 9 or 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. A drunk version of me might experience that pain as a 20 using the same 1-10 scale. Which means I have to have a drink to deal with this level 20 (unbearable) pain. And my pain stays at level 20 because I keep drinking.
        It’s just my theory- no big scientific statement here.

        I did read that alcoholics freeze at the emotional age they were at when they started drinking. This would mean that they have not learned the skills to process the more difficult things in life, and in turn binds them to their bottle because they have no other plan. A bad plan is better than no plan.

        1. nep*

          Seems to me it’s about simply not going there and processing and living things through — pain, anxiety, what have you. My brother turns to the alcohol and crawls into that fog — numbing himself. Till the next sober moment when things hit — then comes time to go numb with alcohol again.

    4. Winter*

      A former partner of mine died of the effects of alcohol and substance abuse. I cared for him while he was ill. It was horrible.

      Sending love and hugs and support.

    5. Anonymousforthis*

      Yes. My younger brother has been an alcoholic since he was 14. He is now 43. Try Al-Anon. Seriously. It has helped me so immensely over the last few months (I should’ve started sooner). I realize that nothing I can do will help my brother, so I need to just help myself. He needs to help himself and I can encourage that, but I cannot force him to do it. Seriously. Al-Anon. Amazing.

        1. Anonymousforthis*

          It has been difficult for me working through the first step, but it has allowed me to have a calmness about my life that has never been there before. I went to a bunch of meetings and read a lot of the books before I settled on a meeting that I thought would work best for me. I hope you are able to find something that helps.

    6. Clever Name*

      Yes. My uncle drank himself to death, and he did it on purpose because he missed his partner more than he could bear. The worst part was that I only got to be in his life for 4 years after his partner died because he cut himself off from our family because he incorrectly assumed we’d reject him for being gay. :(

    7. SarahB*

      A man I once loved a lot tried to quit drinking a few years ago. He’d been a very heavy drinker. Quiting caused seizures from dehydration, and he was admitted to the hospital, where they kept him sedated for over a week while his body went through withdrawal.

      He was getting dressed to go home when he threw a blood clot from the enforced bed rest, and died. Unfortunately, he was still in the hospital, and they got his heart started again, so he was breathing while brain dead for almost two weeks.

      His elderly mother had to sign the no resuscitation order and tell them to remove the feeding tube.

      It was just sad everywhere, and right before Christmas.

  18. SelenaLuna*

    I’m just here to vent on the old saying: “when it rains, it pours”.

    While my local extended relatives despite being invited to my graduation skipped out of it hurt because graduations are THE thing in my family. I am now not going to inherit or given any keepsake of my deceased grandmother due to miscommunition, greed, and ignoring the will. My grandma specified the item, but it’s now given to another relative and I feel I have no moral ground to object. I’m even feeling guilty about being upset over it. I know I have memories, but it meant a lot since I was one of her caregivers and she always mentioned it to me and told me stories about her wearing it.

    I’m realizing that their actions of late is really making me understand why people cut off relatives. So there’s my vent for now. Hopefully in the next few weeks, I’ll find a job so I don’t have to dwell on things and work on coping with grief, loss, and disappointment.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        What Robyn said. The executor of the will can’t just ignore the bequests made in it.

        That said, my cousin & I were supposed to mutually inherit my grandmother’s wedding ring. My uncle held onto it for over twenty-five years because he didn’t trust that my father wouldn’t take it and sell it. So, at my father’s memorial service a couple of years ago, we’re all standing around chatting and he gets the two of us together, pulls out an envelope with the ring in it and says, “this is yours.”

      2. Artemesia*

        This. You have both a moral and legal right to it and the executor cannot unilaterally keep it from you. Enforcing that is of course the issue — but if you have a friend who is a lawyer who would write a letter for you it might be worth doing. I realize you might just want to let it go — my nasty little heart would not just for the principle of not letting these jerks get away with stealing from you. If it was specified in the will or in a codicil, it is legally yours.

        1. Clerica*

          I agree. I’ve heard people say so many times (regarding inheritance issues) that you should just let it go, don’t let it tear the family apart, it’s not worth it. But they never say that to the person who took something that wasn’t theirs, only to the person who got upset about it. And I don’t think it’s fair. Go Yoda to the thief, not the victim. It’s also a little late to worry about causing friction–the majority of people are never going to forget that Cousin Jane took the locket from them, and it’s going to fester for the rest of their lives. You can’t put the toothpaste back in that tube. So, there’s already a rift. If you’re going to have a rift anyway, get the damn locket back.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yep. Families often use arguing over the will or material items as a means to avoid processing their grief. And it’s true, death often causes relationships to end.

      It’s also true that death causes new relationships to begin. Double check and make sure you don’t skate by someone who is trying to build a relationship with you since your grandma’s passing.

      I am so sorry you are going through all of this.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m so sorry. Just remember that, while the thing is important because of the memories it holds for you, if the thing was destroyed or lost instead of wrongfully taken, it wouldn’t affect your memories of your grandma, so this doesn’t affect them either. And if the family members were forced to give you the item, it wouldn’t change the fact that they behaved horribly towards you, so remember, having the thing isn’t going to make you feel whole and OK. Finally, while the other relative’s horrible behavior is disappointing, just remember that they were the ones who destroyed whatever relationship you had with them, and then decide if it is worth it to pursue the item through legal means, because it sounds like you would prevail in that, as others have said.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, this is a really good point. Try to separate the object from the family feelings.

        However, it also sounds like there may have been more than the object that you were supposed to inherit. An executor may be breaching fiduciary duty if they’re not fulfilling the terms of the will, and generally you can petition in probate court in such a case. Obviously that’s not likely to help family relations, though, so you can decide for yourself if that’s going to be worth the trouble and discord.

    3. Winter*

      My grandmother passed away this spring and I wasn’t given anything either. My father sold or threw away all of her belongings except what he kept for himself. I asked him if I could have a photograph to remember her by and he just got angry.

      Finally my aunt mailed me a necklace of hers. And I found some photos of her online.

      I think messed up families are pretty common. I wish it wasn’t such a taboo subject to talk about. Then those of us who are going through stuff like this could support one another instead of feeling alone.

      1. Artemesia*

        I never knew a whole branch of my father’s family because when his grandparents died when he was 14, some of his uncles tried to keep him from receiving his mother’s share of the estate (his mother died when he was a baby). There was no will and he was entitled to receive that portion of the estate. We aren’t talking big bucks here — but the uncle who stood up for my father and secured this modest sum which helped him go to college, was essentially cut off by the others for opposing their simply taking my father’s rightful share.

        I have an uncle who drove up to my grandmother’s place when she was in her final days in the hospital before her death and loaded up his truck with furniture and possessions and then drove back several states away without even visiting her in the hospital because ‘she is too sick to know me’. Aren’t families wonderful?

        I am pretty sure my children are not materialistic pigs and my brother and I had no problems with dealing with my parent’s estate — but on both sides of my family and in the families of my uncles and their inlaws there are many examples much like the OP’s of just horrifying greedheaded behavior and almost always over almost nothing. None of us is an heir to a great fortune.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I think it’s common too. An old boyfriend’s mum died whilst we were together, and his sister practically broke her legs getting to the house to get her stuff before anyone else could get it. She had no will as far as I knew, but there were things she wanted my bf’s daughter to have. I’m not sure she got them. :(

  19. Elkay*

    Holiday disasters anyone?

    We woke up on 26 December with no hot water. Our fix is lasting approximately 24 hours each time. We need to try and get hold of a plumber/electrician/magician who can deal with our ridiculous heating system.

    1. nep*

      Yikes.
      None here — but a friend’s heating went out on Christmas day. When I saw him on the 26th he said it was about 50 degrees in the house.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      Everything this year was lovely, but in 2012, we spent all Christmas day throwing up. Bad sushi for xmas eve dinner. Took about a year to work up the courage to eat it again!

    3. Artemesia*

      We rented a place in California to share with my son’s inlaws, my daughter’s family and us. No heat. (not a crisis in LA but it was pretty cold in the morning), the oven didn’t work (we were doing Christmas dinner — the turkey got smoked in a devise my son retrieved from storage, so Christmas dinner was saved) and the dishwasher didn’t work — so we were washing dishes pretty much continuously by hand. We did however have hot water.

      We once rented a place in Paris which had no hot water for a week — luckily there was a bathtub, so we heated water on the stove to bathe rather than showering. And years ago in a southern US city our pipes broke in an unusual cold winter and we had no water at all Christmas day with visitors from out of state.

      Hope Christmas was merry in spite of it all.

    4. LoFlo*

      Not really a disaster, but the home renovation project to replace carpet with wood floors and replace wood work in three bedrooms that began the first week of November is still in progress. Not much work this week and next week because of holidays.

    5. Jazzy Red*

      My vacuum cleaner stopped working on Dec. 23 when I was cleaning for company the next day. I needed to clean some spots on my carpet with my Bissell, so I used that to vacuum, then to clean. It made some terrible noises, and I started to smell something “hot”. It made scorch marks on my carpet, which I frantically tried to quick clean up before the machine burst into flames or something (it didn’t, thankfully). So my carpet looks like hell, and I need a new carpet shampoo machine. The vacuum cleaner, on the other hand, only needs a brush roller belt, so I don’t have to replace 2 machines, just the one.

      A tip if you have a “burned” smell in your house – mix vinegar and water in a spray bottle and spray some in the air and on the surface of whatever made the smell, if that’s possible. That got rid of the smell fastfastfast!

      1. Jean*

        Sympathies for your housekeeping aggravations. Does it help to know that I burst into giggles when I got to ” It made scorch marks on my carpet, which I frantically tried to quick clean up before the machine burst into flames or something (it didn’t, thankfully). So my carpet looks like hell…”? They are sympathetic giggles…we have tracked so much dirt onto our (rental) carpets that a hot date with a rug cleaner is definitely in my future! Ah, first world problems, when we get to learn all about cleaning appliances! Somedays I long for bare wood floors and throw rugs which can be, respectively, damp-mopped or washed in the bathtub.

    6. VintageLydia USA*

      My father-in-law starting spouting racists things in the living room in front of all my other guests the day after Christmas. I cursed at him and kicked him out of the house (husband was out picking up food for everyone otherwise I would’ve let him handle it.) I probably over reacted a bit, especially since I freaked out my mother in law and her husband due to the language I used, but once everyone realized this has been an ongoing issue they understood. Husband was furious I kicked him out but once he calmed down and got the full story for everyone else there, he understands and is no longer mad at me. I think FIL went to a casino in a nearby state to hang out until he had to come back and pick up my SIL.

      I’m not exactly sorry I did it, but I do feel like I could’ve handled it better. I’ve never been a fan of FIL and his behavior has only gotten worse over the years.

  20. Relationship Loser*

    How do I get my so called “partner” to realise I can’t go on? We have been together for a long time and have teenage children. I guess at the time we got together I was grateful that they accepted my child. Great noise is made about what is supposedly done and how unappreciated my partner is. I would like to break up but my partner has no other person in the world. I’m at the end of my tether and feel all the love is gone. I find it very difficult when sex is requested because it seems like just another demand on me. Oh and the final thing, our finances are not covered by my income any more, so I’ve fpund an alternate source and my partner is against it. Please help.

    1. Sandrine (France)*

      First of all, remember one thing: just because your partner doesn’t have anyone else in the world doesn’t mean you have to keep yourself attached to that person. My parents were together for a long time, and got divorced after 26 years of marriage. My Dad doesn’t have any friends anymore, because he never made an effort, so he just talks to people here and there. He probably often feels lonely, but heeeh, it’s on him that he was an ass for so long.

      Second, the sex thing. If you don’t feel it, you don’t feel it.

      Third, about the finances. Has your partner asked you about your reasons ? Is it something illegal ? Or semi-immoral (I mean, that a lot of people would find immoral but that is not illegal and if you’re open minded then screw this money is money?) ? No matter what, if the partner is unreasonable, that’s a big thing.

      In any case… just do what’s best for you. I’m pretty sure the children will be happier to see you happier and free from a relationship that brings you down.

      (At 15, I was looking forward to seeing my parents divorce. I really was. Worth the wait when it happened, lemme tell ya)

      1. catsAreCool*

        “just because your partner doesn’t have anyone else in the world doesn’t mean you have to keep yourself attached to that person.” This!

      2. Relationship Loser*

        Thanks for your kind comments Sandrine. The alternate income source is nothing illegal, it’s just a casual second job. But if I’m away doing a second job, I’m not here to meet their needs or do the housework or whatever.

    2. fposte*

      You’re not a life vest, you’re a human being. If your partner has no other person, that’s your partner’s choice, and that’s not something that means you can’t make your life better by breaking up. I’m sick of partner after reading a paragraph about them.

      I’d suggest individual therapy, but I’d also suggest preparing to go and putting a date on it in your mind. I think this is over and it’s time for you to find a life that nourishes you.

    3. fposte*

      Oh, and your partner’s understanding is optional here. Don’t wait to leave until partner understands why you want to. Partner will figure out you couldn’t go on by the fact that you’re not there any more.

    4. Artemesia*

      When you can’t do what you need to do, it is a sign for getting some therapy to sort yourself out. Breakups are always difficult and more so after many years but when it is the right thing to do, you pull up your socks and do it. You are not responsible for living his life forever more. But this is extraordinarily difficult and it helps if you yourself are centered and confident in doing what you need to do. Hope the new year brings better times.

        1. Windchime*

          Also read some Captain Awkward. There is additional awesome relationship advice there.

          As others have said, your partner doesn’t have to understand or agree that the relationship is over (if it is in fact over). If you have decided that you don’t want to be there anymore, that is reason enough. You don’t need his/her buy in to make your decision legitimate.

  21. Aknownymous*

    For all vegetarians/vegans: how do you tell people why you don’t eat meat?
    For all meat eaters: what would make you feel offended/awkward/preached to when someone explains why they don’t eat meat?

    I’m having problems finding a good answer when people ask me why I don’t eat meat. I never go into the whole reasoning (ethics, cruelty etc) unless people ask me specifically, but I also don’t want to lie (diet or something) to make other people comfortable. But no matter how simple and basic my response is, inevitably some people will get defensive and argumentative. I don’t judge or look down on people who eat meat, it’s just not something I would do myself for many reasons. So a lot of times when I meet new people in social situations it ends up in an awkward standoff where I’m asked to defend my position, when I just wanted to eat a few celery sticks and have a glass of wine and enjoy myself. Any tips or insights?

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

      Why?

      Rude people don’t get answers to nosy questions. Are you going to ask me to defend why I eat meat? If you do, I’ll bop you over the head with a salami and walk away.

      I like a puzzled look “why do you ask?” when people ask rude questions.

      1. Aknownymous*

        Haha, ok, I’ll consider the the death stare and a swift slap to the face with a bouquet of kale :)

    2. Cristina in England*

      Maybe just say “I don’t like it” or something so completely subjective that they can’t make it about them? Could you give a couple of examples of what people have said to you/ how you replied to get a better idea?

      1. Aknownymous*

        I have tried many different responses, from “I don’t like it” to “I don’t want to eat living things”, but I’m always pressed for more explanation. Typical responses range from “plants are living things, too” to “mmm, I love juicy steaks, sooo delicious”. It’s a personal choice, and not one that I feel like I need to defend, just like I’m not asking anyone to defend their choice to eat meat. IF someone truly wants to know and understand my reasoning, as opposed to just defending themselves, I will share, but otherwise I don’t want to engage in a debate.

        1. the gold digger*

          People don’t deserve a detailed explanation. I am nosy and am always curious to know if it is a moral reason or a health reason, but that doesn’t mean you have to tell me. For me, it’s just another point of conversation – something interesting about you that I want to understand.

          [I had a boyfriend who didn’t eat meat because his mother was in some cult when he was born and part of the cult was no meat. He had never in his entire life had any meat or fish. He is the only vegetarian I have ever met who was vegetarian for that reason.]

          Other than my own nosiness, the only reason I need to know if you are a vegetarian and what your restrictions are is so I can make sure I cook something you can eat when you come to my house for supper.

          1. Aknownymous*

            I don’t mind nosy at all, I’m quite nosy myself! Though I call it curious ;) It’s the angry and defensive I’m not comfortable with. And thank you for being considerate of vegetarians/vegans – it always warms my heart when people don’t assume everyone eats the same way and asks in advance if they don’t know. Avoiding feeling like you are ordering a special meal when you are invited to someone’s home is always good :)

          2. LisaS*

            Same here. If you wish to tell me why, you certainly may*, but I’d really just rather know if you keep to any other restrictions so that I can cook for you if I’ve invited you to supper.

            *but please don’t. I recognise that I may be an outlier here, but I live in CA, and at any given time people are eating/not eating various things for a variety of reasons, some of which make no objective scientific sense and are just likely to make me cranky if I have to listen to a long drawn-out explanation…

            1. Aknownymous*

              Ha! I recently moved from Southern California after living there for many years, so I’m familiar with the regional food quirks and diet fads. I also shopped at Whole Foods for some vegan things, and that’s the epicenter of trendy dieters who believe they have found the holy grail and want to share it with the world.

          3. Mints*

            I’m nosy / curious too. I generally don’t ask why because I realize vegetarians get hounded, and I don’t want to pile on. But I’m just like “Ooh cool story” in legit interest. Also, if I hear the story, I’m more likely to remember and won’t keep offering you bacon wrapped shrimp or whatever at a potluck.

        2. Anonsie*

          I find the ethics of factory farming is something pretty much anyone can get behind, if you wanna just get them to hush you could say that. Though be wary of your audience I guess because I know some small family farmers and when people mention factory farming to them they take out their soap boxes.

          But people asking why and then being snarky about it can go sit on a tack, that’s just straight up rude. When people do stuff like this to me I like to wave spirit fingers and go “Oh my gosh, people are different! People feel differently about different things! MAGIC”

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      We had this very discussion over dinner last night. My bf is a vegetarian and his sister’s bf hunts, fishes, makes AMAZING barbecue, etc. Sister’s bf posed the question– not in an accusing way– and bf said he stopped eating meat for a girl and never went back, and now it’s the choice he makes for his own health. Said confidently, that should be enough. And if it’s not, do what Wakeen says, because only a jerk would berate you.

      1. Aknownymous*

        I think I say it confidently, because it’s a choice I made a long time ago and see no reason to hide, but lately I’ve been wondering why it rubs so many people the wrong way. Thankfully my close friends and family have never made an issue out of it, even though they still don’t understand how I can survive without meat ;)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          People are weird. They even get weird when I tell them our household is vegetarian even though I’m not. My boyfriend’s stepmother even said to me recently, “When you can’t use meat, it’s so limiting!” It’s not. I am not suffering. I think I’m a very creative cook. Anyone can tell by the size of my booty that I eat just fine. Chalk it up to people being weird and insular.

        2. catsAreCool*

          I don’t get why people get annoyed by the no meat thing. Probably they’ve met a vegan or vegetarian who was obnoxious about it. Either that, or people feel guilty about eating meat. I don’t eat meat, and I don’t mind if other people do eat it.

        3. Vancouver Reader*

          Holy crap! Are the people who give you a hard time about being a vegetarian that lonely that they have to make a big deal out of your life choices? Depending on how close I am to someone, I might joke that there’s more meat for me then, but I certainly wouldn’t harass someone for a rationale for their decision.

    4. nep*

      I eat no animal products, except honey on occasion (for now — will phase that out). I never feel as if I owe an explanation to anyone. It’s crazy to me how this all becomes such a heated debate. Some people seem to have a big chip on their shoulders over what/how they eat. Right away they think I’m there to judge them for eating meat — nope. I don’t like food evangelists and far be it from me to be one.
      If someone’s just genuinely curious I simply say it’s what works for me, for countless reasons.

      1. Aknownymous*

        Totally agree. I absolutely do not preach and judge, but some people assume I will and go into defense mode immediately. Typically if someone offers me a plate of, say, roast beef, I will just decline without explanation, and preferably I would leave it that. But if someone asks why, then I feel awkward and evasive if I don’t answer, and that’s where the root of my problem lies, I think. I’m afraid of coming across as rude if I don’t respond.

    5. matcha123*

      If someone says they don’t eat meat, I leave it at that.
      I will ask if they eat fish or other seafood because I do know people who will eat shrimp, etc. but not red meat.
      If you don’t eat those either, I’m not going to press the issue.

      I ask to make sure that I don’t give you some food that has something in it that you would not be able to eat.
      Anyone who wants to argue with you about what you put in your mouth is just doing that to be annoying.

      You could say, “What I decide to put in my body is my choice. I’m not making you give up meat, I’m just saying that I don’t eat it.”

      (As a total aside, when I was in middle school, one of my friends who was Muslim said that she couldn’t eat Jell-O because of what was in gelatin. I always remembered that and a few years ago when I went to make cheesecake for a vegetarian friend, I looked for alternatives that didn’t use gelatin and made sure she knew I didn’t use it so she’d be fine with eating it.)

      1. Aknownymous*

        On behalf of all people who don’t eat animal procucts for various reasons – thank you for being considerate and respectful, and especially for going out of your way to make sure we know that you made a vegetarian cake/meal. Not knowing and having to ask is one of the most common ways to be dragged into an unwanted discussion, in my experience.

      2. the gold digger*

        because of what was in gelatin

        I had to warn some vegetarian friends in the Peace Corps that the pie crust had lard. I would have made it with Crisco, but we couldn’t get Crisco where we were living in Chile. I also made them their own sweet potato casserole without marshmallows, which was fine with me because that meant more marshmallows for the rest of us. :)

      3. fposte*

        What’s interesting to me is that gelatin can still be kosher, though which certifying authorities approve which gelatin sources is complex.

        1. Suz*

          Kosher gelatin is sometimes made from fish instead of mammals, so that’s part of it…

          Also, if there is some strict supervision going on, you might get mammal-sourced gelatin (it appears that happens in America), but that could potentially pose problems if you want to cook it with dairy.

    6. Sandrine (France)*

      I do eat meat, and know a lot of people who don’t, one being a hardcore vegan.

      It’s only people like him that bother me. He’s pretty tolerant in that, if you go out to eat, he’ll accept even to go to a steackhouse if he can find options for himself… but when talking in everyday life… Oooh boy. Every conversation, no matter what, was the occasion (we were coworkers for a bit) of mentioning his veganism. And the animals here, and the animals there, and he just kept “preaching” .

      I think that’s what annoys me. “Preaching” . Of any kind, mind you.

      Now I did ask about vegetarianism once. We were at a friendly outing (5 people or so) and one person was a vegetarian. I didn’t notice during the day until we had to buy lunch and we couldn’t find decent options for him. On the way back, I just wanted to hug him because we talked about it, and he was just so “chill” about the whole thing. No one was defending anything, the conversation flowed freely, he didn’t accuse me of anything and I didn’t either (because really, he was as quiet as anybody else) and it went just really really well.

      Sorry for that rambling.
      TL;DR : No preaching, no accusing, and all is good. If someone accuses you of anything because you say you don’t eat meat, cut them off. You don’t deserve abuse because you don’t eat meat. And if we meet one day, you choose the place and I’ll happily spend time with a new friend instead of lamenting I don’t get to eat steack for lunch!

      1. Aknownymous*

        Yeah, those preachers have ruined it for the rest of us! I actually have a friend who used to be like that, too. Even though neither of us eat animals, largely for the same reasons, I couldn’t stand to listen to her go on a verbal rampage as soon as there was any food product in sight. I think it’s more common in the earlier days of someone’s “conversion”. These days she has calmed down considerably, and I can go to restaurants with her without wanting to sink into my chair :)

        Yes, it’s all about mutual respect for personal choices. And I could spend time with you at a steak house, though naturally my side of the table look like a miniature garden :)

    7. FD*

      Meat eater: If someone says they’re a vegetarian and leaves it at that, it doesn’t bother me at all. If I’d invited them over for a meal, I might feel a little embarrassed/if I didn’t have anything they could eat, but I normally only invite people over for meals who I know pretty well, so it’s normally come up by then.

      My rule of thumb is, I won’t ask why you’re a vegetarian or push you about eating things you don’t want to, any more than I’m going to push you about what your religion is or try to force a practicing Catholic to eat meat on a Friday in Lent. Please don’t go into a long rant without cause about why eating meat is unhealthy/wrong/etc. (This has happened to me.)

      To me, the polite way for both sides to do it is something like this:

      “Would you like some hamburger sliders?”
      “Oh, sorry, I’m a vegetarian.”
      “Oh, okay. May I offer you some veggies and dip?”

      To me it SHOULD be one of those things which is not a big deal for either side. However, IMO, if someone’s rude enough to be pushy, they give up any right to get offended about being ‘preached’ to.

        1. FD*

          /shrug/ Personally, I don’t mind someone saying they’re a vegetarian–it’s a simple explanation and it should be enough. I think it comes down to the person who’s saying it, and what they’re comfortable with.

          1. nep*

            Right — I just wonder about the ‘Sorry – I’m vegetarian’. I don’t have to give a reason I don’t want to eat something that’s offered. (And I get that ‘sorry’ is used sort of loosely here — but no apology for my choices needed either.)

            1. Colette*

              In some situations, it’s easier to explain to avoid being offered the ten other meat options, or because this is someone you will be eating with frequently.

      1. Aknownymous*

        It absolutely shouldn’t be a big deal at all, but somehow it’s become an almost politicized subject. And as with anything politicized, there are people who are loud proponents of “their side”, who are very easily provoked to defend their positions. As I mentioned in a response upthread, those preachers have ruined the impressions of the rest of us. Though, to be fair, there are pro-meat ranters as well, who have shoved plates of ribs in my face to show me what I’m missing out on. Both of these extremes look equally unhinged.

        1. Clerica*

          I remember in Sarah Palin’s first book she said something like when vegetarians visit her house, she serves up her homemade moose chili and then explains to them that God gave us meat and meant for us to enjoy it or some happy horseshit.

          I was a vegetarian for six years, and my father’s wife used to go out of her way to sneak meat into things when I’d eat over there. Once she was ordering pizza and asked what I wanted, so I said anything anyone else wanted veggie-wise (as in, I don’t need a whole separate pizza with just my favorite toppings, I’ll just share any non-meat one). She orders a meat lover’s and two pepperoni. “Oh, you can just pick the meat off.” Then there was the time she made Thanksgiving dinner and I brought my own frozen veggie burger over…and she heated it up by putting it in the pan with the turkey so it soaked up all the juice. She even used beef bouillon to boil rice one time, like I wasn’t going to notice the taste.

          I called her on it after the first time, and she told me that the correct behavior is for a guest to eat what the host is serving. At some point after that, she forwarded me that stupid letter that was going around online by some woman to her son’s fiancee nitpicking the girl’s behavior…something about how she’d refused extra pasta and wanted more vegetables instead and wouldn’t take a walk with everyone after dinner and God how entitled. Because she was diabetic and the carbs from even the one serving made her too tired to exercise. Now, I don’t know what the “official” word on etiquette is here. All I know is that I would literally be ashamed of myself if I ever treated a guest like that.

          1. Aknownymous*

            Oh my goodness! I can’t decide whether that’s passive-aggressive or just plain aggressive. I never expect anyone to make a special meal just for me, but I do expect people to respect my choice not to eat meat. I would be furious if someone tried to trick me into eating meat, beacause it’s so disrespectful. I also would get horrible stomach pains at this point, but that’s secondary to someone’s deliberate deceit.

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Wow… I can’t even come up with words. A good host wants his/her guests to be happy and sated and not seriously ill from consuming something they haven’t had in six freaking years. I’m not surprised you don’t refer to this woman as your “stepmother”. You have my many, many sympathies.

    8. doreen*

      I might ask why someone is vegan – but only people close enough to me that I need to know whether they are vegan for ethical reasons and I therefore shouldn’t give them a leather belt for Christmas. Which so far means the only person I have asked is my nephew.

      1. Aknownymous*

        So you’re asking for one of the right reasons: to be respectful. Right reasons never make me uncomfortable, just the opposite :)

    9. Noel*

      For me, as a meat-eater and someone who routinely puts on parties involving lots of food, it is far and away rudeness that will make me think badly of someone who is a vegetarian/vegan/whatever. I have met people who followed unusual diets who were perfectly lovely about it; did not make a big deal about it, offered to bring a dish so that there would be something that they could eat, were complimentary about the foods I made that they did try, did not spend the entire party talking to anyone who would listen about their diets and why they wouldn’t eat X, Y, and Z. And I have met people who were the opposite. Who got very huffy that I didn’t “know” to make something they would eat when they were following a very uncommon eating plan, who refused to eat the things I made specifically for them that DID fit in with their diet, who sat and pouted because there wasn’t anything on the (extensive) buffet spread that they were willing to eat. I don’t care about what anyone eats or doesn’t eat. But I was raised to believe that if you are someone’s guest and they are serving food you don’t like, the appropriate response is A. Eat it and shut up or B. Say “No thank you.” The end. You don’t expect your host to kowtow to you and you don’t go on and on about why you won’t eat this, that or the other thing. So it’s the rudeness, to me, that is the salient point. Just exercise basic manners and don’t be obnoxious and the vast majority of people won’t care about how you choose to eat. Those that do, don’t deserve any explanation other than, “That’s just how I prefer to eat,” or something similar. Nobody needs to be rude to anybody else.

    10. Hillary*

      If someone asks why I’m vegetarian, “I never liked meat.” If they ask if I’m vegan (more common these days, people seem to be learning) “I’m from Wisconsin, I can’t give up cheese.” I usually deliver them both in a confident tone with a smile – it ends the conversation without alienating the other person. If it doesn’t end the conversation, I have a story about summer camp when I was 12 and how the vegetarian food was a lot better.

      Can you tell this comes up a lot? I go to a lot of professional events and it’s a frequent subject of small talk.

        1. Relosa*

          It’s true! One time I had to do an elimination diet to find a food allergy, and I couldn’t eat cheese for a while. Ohhh man, the questions I got (I attended UW)

    11. Dang*

      Meat eater, but I have been a vegetarian a few times (few months at a time). I think “I don’t like eating meat” is fine. If someone finds it offensive, they’re making it about them and that’s their own problem.

      Why anyone should have a say in someone else’s food habits is beyond me.

    12. Alder*

      A friend in college used to say, “Since I can be healthy as a vegetarian, I feel it’s unethical for me to eat meat.” Or something like that. She said it in a way where it was a moral decision, but specific to her own situation and beliefs so it wasn’t preachy.

    13. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Just as with many professional telemarketers, an explanation is seen by some as an obstacle to be overcome. You know what I mean, when you tell a telemarketer “I don’t have time right now” or “I don’t need X”, they reply “It will just take a second!” or “But you DO need X because X makes your life better!!” We all know the only way to get rid of some of these people is to refuse to engage, or sometimes even hang up. This can apply in real-life conversations, too, even though it feels less polite to turn someone down to their face.

      Unfortunately, some people are just looking to refute any explanation, and it’s important to remember that those people do not deserve an explanation. There is no way to “win” with those people except by disengaging. If you feel you’re being challenged as to why you do not eat meat, just say “I’d rather not get into it now”, or even “I just don’t, thanks” in as many different ways as necessary. After a couple of refusals they will either give up or become relentless, and that makes it even easier to refuse or even walk away from the one-sided “conversation”.

      You will always be able to tell the difference; once you start getting that panicky, cornered feeling, that’s a sign that someone is trying to bully you into doing things their way. If you don’t get that feeling, sure, discuss it with them if you like, of course. But you should always remember that you never need to explain yourself to anyone who does not ask with the right attitude.

      1. Aknownymous*

        Thank you for your thoughts, that was a really good analogy that made a lot of sense. I still have the the worry of being impolite to people, but I can definitely see how they are in fact rude to me when pushing me to give an explanation they find satisfactory. So I will start trying to disengage from the topic when it comes up, if I see it going in that direction.

    14. BRR*

      I think your response should be, “Because I choose not to.”

      What I don’t like is being preached to for my choices, and I find it rude when people do this do vegetarians/vegans. I imagine some people find it being “preached to” when things come up like oh I don’t want to eat at ABC there’s nothing I can have on the menu or trying to figure out what food someone will be serving at a dinner party but I think they’re thinking is wrong about it.

    15. Winter*

      I say, “I’ve been vegetarian since I was a teenager. It’s what works for me. I’ve tried eating meat again a few times, but I don’t really like it and I feel healthier without it. I’m sure everyone’s different that way.” And then change the subject.

      There seems to be a widespread fear that vegetarians are going to be judgmental of people who eat meat. So I try to reassure people that I don’t care what they eat (and hope they’ll give me the same respect).

    16. Artemesia*

      I don’t want a lecture from a vegan on why eating honey is exploiting bees. I just don’t. No one likes sanctimony. And there is no obligation for a vegetarian or vegan to explain their choices endlessly; people who make different choices are not obligated to justify them to the world at large. I don’t want to justify my dinner and you don’t have to justify yours.

      If it is a casual query, just saying ‘I do it for health reasons’ or ‘I don’t feel comfortable exploiting animals’ is information enough. People who are nosy or argumentative need to be ‘bean dipped’ i.e. ‘Oh that is just the way I feel, I understand others have different points of view, have you tried the bean dip, it is really tasty. I don’t know how Janice gets the cilantro just right but she does.’

    17. Aknownymous*

      Thank you so much to everyone who replied, it was nice to get insights from people who are spread out on the carnivore-vegan spectrum! Thank you also for being considerate and respectful of those who are at the opposite end of you – acceptance of each others differences without requiring legitimization is a beautiful thing.

      My take-aways are: don’t preach (check!), keep it short and neutral, change the subject, or disengage if needed. Oh, and vegetable head-bopping per Wakeen ;) I will try these out at the next social function I go to, and hope to finally get to enjoy my roasted brussel sprouts in peace and quiet for an entire evening :)

      1. Gene*

        Doubling up on the don’t preach. If someone mentions they are vegan/vegetarian/kosher/etc, I may ask about it. Preach to me about the Poor Animals! and I’ll order blue steak with a side of bacon and be sure to stay in your line of sight at all times. But not go off on me and I may even order something without meat if the place has good choices, and definitely cook without my usual chicken stock and demi-glace.

    18. catsAreCool*

      One of the reasons I don’t eat meat is that I don’t like it. I also don’t like thinking about what it was – that an animal was killed for this.

      Usually I just say I don’t like meat. If pressed, I explain truthfully that biting on a piece of fat or gristle makes me feel sick to my stomach. That tends to be more than enough information :)

    19. Anonyby*

      I think location also has a lot to do with it. For instance, I live in a place where vegetarianism is fairly common. I haven’t seen anyone be super-pushy about trying to get vegetarians to eat meat. Now, I can easily see the opposite being true in a place where vegetarians are few and meat is a large part of the local identity.

      I admit I often get curious as to why someone’s a vegetarian, but I also know that I’m not owed any explanation. :) I’ve had respectful conversations about reasons with vegetarian friends where no one felt pressured or that they were in the ‘wrong’ and had to defend themselves.

      And like other posters, for people that are closer to me, I often want to know where the limits are so that I’m aware of them when I make food or gifts. I might playfully tease, but it’s a mutual thing (my group of friends all tease each other about foods the others don’t like, so no one is singled out). And in the end… it just means I make more food options. :) For instance, today I’m planning to make two quiches for our get together. Some in the group will only like the fillings in the veggie one (spinach and mushrooms), some will only like the other (bacon), and some will like both. It all works out in the end.

    20. HannahS*

      I’m a little late to the party here…my favourite reply goes like this:
      “No thanks, I keep kosher/am a vegetarian/don’t drink.”
      “Why?”
      “I started X years ago and I find it works for me.”
      That way, I’ve answered their question without actually discussing my reasons, but I’m not lying either. If the person is genuinely curious, then they can ask more, and I can either discuss or say, “Oh, it’s not really dinner party conversation…how do you know the host/have you tried the guacamole/great shoes!”

    21. Relosa*

      I’m having problems finding a good answer when people ask me why I don’t eat meat.

      You do not have to justify it. I’ve been veggie for six years. When I am offered meat, I simply say “No thanks, I don’t eat meat.” If I’m unsure about the meat content of something, I just avoid it altogether.

      I know people will still hound you for it, at which point I usually turn the tables: “Well, what foods don’t you like? Would it really kill you to eat insert undesirable food here? No? Well then why don’t you eat it?”

      (sort of the same vein about asking straight people when they chose to be straight. Just gotta give them the right perspective)

      You don’t owe anyone explanation of your dietary habits for any reason. If they don’t like it, that’s their problem, not yours.

    22. Elizabeth West*

      Second the preaching. I eat meat (though not a lot), but I don’t really care if other people don’t. I don’t lecture them and they should show me the same courtesy. And yes I eat honey, and if you throw paint on my leather coat, I will make you lick it off.

      As for myself, sometimes I’ll order the veggie option in a restaurant if it’s healthier than the other food, or if I’m just not in the mood for a big slab of flesh. If I’m having people over (hasn’t happened in a while), I’ll ask them if there is anything they can’t or won’t eat. I say won’t because I can’t stand mushrooms and I will pick them out of something right in front of you. If they are vegetarian, I’ll try to make stuff they can have. Vegan is a bit trickier, but so far I haven’t had to cook for anyone who is.

      I’m quite happy to try new foods if someone else is cooking. When I was in London, my auntie and I had a lovely day with my cousin. She made us lunch, and it was spelt lasagna with soy cheese and vegetables/salad from her allotment (she grows a lot of her own food). It was DELICIOUS. I practically licked the plate! I had never had nasturtiums on a salad before and they were fantastic. I want to plant some myself! I have a yard, but I think allotments are brilliant!

    23. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Oof, this sucks. I really don’t feel like you owe them any other explanation than “I don’t eat meat”. But whyyyyyyyy? “I just don’t eat meat *shrug*”. I certainly wouldn’t push it any further than that (it’s not my business what you eat unless I’m catering, and even then I don’t need to know why!)

      I’m sorry people are being dickish to you about this. FWIW, I do understand why ‘ethical reasons’ can make people defensive — it can come across as ‘my ethics are better than yours/I have ethics and you don’t’, even if that is totally unintended. It sucks that people are so invested in other peoples’ eating habits.

    24. Aknownymous*

      Wow, even more great responses, thank you all for taking the time to give thoughtful input! I think I’ve also learned today that shouldn’t feel like I need to explain myself, and I will take that to heart. Thanks again!

    25. Anonymous Educator*

      The answer that works for me happens to be true for me. It may not be true for you, but if a little white lie will get them to shut up, you may be willing to stretch the truth. Your choice.

      Basically, I just tell them I can’t stand the taste of meat (which I can’t). Frankly, if it’s pig, I can’t even stand the smell of it, let alone the taste. I haven’t gotten many arguments on that. My parents used to force-feed me meat when I was growing up, and I vomited… a lot.

  22. Anon for this one!*

    I can’t wait for my husband to go back to work when his workplace opens again after the holidays. He is driving me crazy being home every day!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Haha- I hear you. My bf and I are in a hotel and last night I was all, “I want to go home just so I can make him go to his office.” Love him, want to smack him. Too much togetherness.

    2. Artemesia*

      I recently retired and we moved to a tiny condo in a big city. Let me tell you that it is worth figuring out how not to drive each other crazy before this day comes. We are doing pretty well although we are both introverts partly because we can each assert our right to be ‘let alone.’

  23. Sandrine (France)*

    I think I’m suffering from that year end seasonal depression thingie.

    I’m not *really* depressed, mind you. But I can’t sleep well. I’m not hurting or anything, and I am sleepy when I go to bed, but just can’t fall asleep.

    I also get angry quite easily (see upthread when I reply to the person who doesn’t get why her mom doesn’t like her BF… when my mom told me about the situation on the phone I exploded) .

    And I feel lonely at times. I have three cats and a fiancé and it’s nice, but I just don’t feel like I talk to people that much anymore. I love talking online (now it’s mostly Facebook, it used to be MSN) and yet lately (and I mean past few months) it’s slowed down to a point where I keep wondering if I just stopped being interesting at all.

    Just hoping the NYE party we’re going to will help.

    1. Dang*

      I hear you. So,evokes all of the holiday cheer can mess with my equilibrium. Like, hey, look how cheery you’re SUPPOSED to be?? The holidays bring up all sorts of weird feelings you had forgotten about or not even realized. I hope 2015 is good to you and you feel better soon!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Seasonal Affective Disorder? Do you need sunlight?

      I only say this because the doctor told me I have it. I think my symptoms are pretty tame and not worthy of labeling. But here I am. The doctor said 20 minutes of sunlight each day possible. Don’t wear a hat. I am test driving this idea.

      1. Deedee*

        Also have your doctor check your Vitamin D level. Mine was very low and they put me on a mega dose for a couple months and I am just sailing through this winter with lots of energy and feeling good! For the first winter in recent memory.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Auugh, I can relate. Everyone is all off partying and celebrating with their families and friends and here I am stuck alone writing a damn book. Facebook and other social media is dead right now. >_<

      Things will wind back up after the holidays, I'm sure.

    4. Clever Name*

      I’m convinced this is why northern cultures invented festivals with lots of candles and food and light that occur this time of year. Winter is just depressing. We celebrate to make us happy; not the other way around. This is also why I never want to move to a cloudy place. I love my 300 days of sunshine!

  24. Rebecca*

    I want to thank everyone for the podcast hints! I have now listened to “The Alibi” on Serial. This has opened a whole new world for me. I love learning how to do new things, and as a 50+ person, I feel it’s really necessary to keep learning. My daughter’s friend recommended Radiolab, so I have a pile of shows on my .mp3 player to listen to, and I found some episodes on Criminal as well. My county library belongs to Overdrive, so I found my Overdrive library card number, and have two books downloaded to my .mp3 player. It sure makes my walking time go faster.

    Which brings me to my new achievement – I walked 25,000 + steps both yesterday and the day before! The sun finally came out here after over 2 weeks, and I was listening to podcasts and the book, and went for several long walks each day. It really added up! I admit I’m tired, and my legs are a bit stiff, but what a great feeling!! I wore my new leggings and since the temps were around 50F and a bit more, I didn’t have to bundle up and it just felt so good to feel the sunshine on my face.

    I’m on the lookout for more podcasts/radio shows, and probably a new .mp3 player. Mine is about 6 years old, and has limited storage, but for now, it works just fine. Hopefully I’ll find a newer model on clearance.

    1. FD*

      I can’t remember if I recommended this before, but Welcome to Night Vale is great! It’s a very offbeat show, really fun–sort of what would happen if Prairie Home Companion met HP Lovecraft.

      It’s hosted by the radio host of the town of Night Vale, “a friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep.”

      It’s gotten really big now, enough that they’ve gone on international tours this year.

      1. Alistair*

        I love Night Vale! I describe it as community radio from The Twilight Zone. I have really loved the slow building romance. It’s one of the few pieces of media that has ever caused me to cheer out loud (he’s holding… A cat!).

        I also recommend Stuff You Missed In History Class. Very fascinating and often funny stories about bits of our world history that you never learned of, or just forgot. Be warned, though, they tackle some really harsh topics sometimes. Any episode around racism in America leaves me a bit depressed, and a few have made me quite angry. Still worth a listen!

        1. FD*

          I KNOW RIGHT! I was literally crying during that episode. (Nobody messes with Khoshekh. *Nobody.*)

          I love that they tackle that it relationships don’t end with just getting together and address both members of the couple needing to have their own interests and identity, and their own social connections.

          1. periwinkle*

            I saved up a bunch of Night Vale podcasts for a long cross-country drive. I had to pull over and sob (happily) during that episode. Also, “but I do know two things…” from episode 51. So. Much. Heartwarming.

    2. Dang*

      Serial is sooooo good!!!! I listened to all of the episodes in a day and a half, ha.

      Congrats on the activity, that’s a lot of walking!

    3. Rebecca*

      Thanks everyone! I saved the links to the sites mentioned so I can download new stuff when my current book is done. I think the next one will be Night Vale :)

    4. Mephyle*

      I recommend “In Our Time” from BBC. It has got me to listen to and learn about topics that I never, ever thought I’d be interested in. I await every episode eagerly.

  25. bearing*

    I just sent an email that reads,
    “Dear Dad,
    I don’t want you to make jokes or other statements that use derogatory slurs to describe gay people, or any other minority groups, in the hearing of my young children. Don’t do it again. I don’t enjoy listening to derogatory language either. It makes me uncomfortable and I don’t wish to participate in it. That is all. Love, [me].”

    I have never done such a thing, and I am now sick to my stomach waiting for the fallout and waffling about whether it was the right thing to do.

    1. nep*

      I’ll be interested in updates on this one.
      I get that you’re second-guessing a bit. Now that it’s out there, perhaps best to put in the forefront of your mind your children, and how strongly you feel about their exposure to this derogatory language. In any case, even if they will be exposed to such things in their interactions, good that you’re there to raise them in an environment where tolerance and kindness rule.

      1. bearing*

        I already pulled my two sons aside (they are 11 and 14) this morning and told them that one of the things they heard last night involved unkind language towards people, that I was sorry I did not speak up in the moment, but that I had sent an email telling Grandpa that I did not want him to tell jokes like that around them. I said that I wanted to let them know that it was not okay with me and that I did follow up.

        1. fposte*

          I like that conversation. Good plan.

          I would guess it’s probably not going to stop completely, so I’d be ready with a calm “Dad, I’ve asked you not to do that around my family anymore.” Don’t get drawn into argument. “I’ve told you what I’d like from you, and I hope you can do that.” There’s also the “I’m going to take a break now” and walking away.

          1. Artemesia*

            This and absolutely refuse to be drawn into a discussion of it. It is wrong. Period. Not going to discuss it. Period. Bye.

    2. Ruffingit*

      Good for you. Not easy to do, I’ve been there with having to tell some difficult truths to people and/or ask them to stop doing shitty things. Really proud of you!

    3. Kat A.*

      Stand your ground if he tries to push back. You’ll always be glad you did. If you give in to him, you may always regret it.

      Good luck.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Bravo. A regular commenter here who I’m friends with IRL threw her FIL out (briefly) over the holidays because he made very racist remarks. I’m bad with confrontation and probably would have done what you did, deal with it later when things aren’t so explosive. I think you covered all of the important things, telling the children and the perpetrator that it was unacceptable, and set the stage for an immediate removal (of yourselves or the perpetrator, depending on whose house you are at) if it happens again. Sometimes I wish I was more like my friend, but I know that I would rather calm down and deal with things without screaming and throwing things. I had enough of that in my childhood to last many lifetimes.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        :P I posted about that upthread. Honestly I wish I did it how you described. There was some totally avoidable fallout from my method and Mr. Vintage was mad at me for about a day and half afterward.

    5. BRR*

      Good for you. My husband’s grandmother does this and before the next family event I’m telling him he needs to speak up about this or I will say something.

    6. Artemesia*

      Sometimes you have to be crystal clear. And while writing it is blunt — your Dad has the benefit of not having to react immediately or try to justify himself. The best outcome would be him not saying a word but changing his behavior. A sort of face saving impossible if you had done this in person. I hope that is how it works out.

    7. bearing*

      Here is the update, in the form of an email reply. It did not take long.

      “I was goofing around with your kids–nothing new; that’s me. You cannot protect your children from everything nor should you. Perhaps you should have made it a learning experience since they seem unfortunately stuck in your tutelage anyway. It will be simple for you to stay out of my life. You have an incredibly short and convenient memory: You were an absolutely horrible daughter to your mother and not exactly a pleasure to me. I am not the only one with that opinion–well beyond her close girlfriends and family members…Historically, your children have been out of control… breaking TVs and the like and items at my house as well. You had no remorse about the item broken at my house last night. You said nothing at all and sent [your husband] to make amends. Pathetic. Perhaps you should have taken the opportunity to teach your children about being appropriately apologetic and remorseful about other’s property and treasure. Just another incident of horrible parenting. And then you piously attend church. Give me a break. You have become unacceptably self-righteous. [signed with Dad’s initials]”

      1. Ineloquent*

        Holy crap. Wow. Stick to your guns, OP. He has zero right to be a jerk to you. This is so mean spirited and manipulative.

      2. fposte*

        Or, to put it in internet terms, “no u!”

        I’m sorry you got that response, bearing; that must have been hard to read. If you’re inclined to answer, I’d go with an “I’m sorry that I’ve upset you; it does sound like it would be better for all of us if we took a break from visiting for a while.”

          1. fposte*

            Yeah, I’m not either. I just like creating scripts for all occasions.

            I’m always kind of wryly amused by parents who basically tell their offspring they were raised wrong. Yup, you should totally have words with the person responsible there. Oh, wait.

      3. Artemesia*

        I am sorry you have an immature and horrible father. WHO berates a grown daughter about what a terrible child they were. Raising kids is what parents sign on for — all of our horribleness included. Unfortunately someone forgot to raise him to be a decent human being or it didn’t take if they tried.

        Your father is a terrible human being. I am sorry. Oh and less than bright as well. How exactly did what terrible thing you did when you were 13 mean that your children should be taught to be racists.

        I’d probably email something like ‘All this childish (use puerile if you think he would understand it) and vile outpouring just because I asked you to not use racist language around my family? Do you realize how much of your character and soul you have exposed?’

          1. Estranged*

            Yeah, don’t bother. I’ve been estranged from my father for over a year now because I got sick of his crap. It’s not as horrible as it might seem. My life has been much more peaceful since making the decision to break away. At some point, you have to do a cost-benefit analysis of how worthwhile it is to spend time with this person. Just because he’s your father doesn’t mean you have to suffer. Took me awhile to work through the questions and pain of breaking ties, but I’ve come out the other side now and I’m feeling really good about the decision. Just saying if you decide to go with breaking things off for awhile, it’s really OK and actually quite healthy.

          2. Anonsie*

            I wouldn’t, personally. I’d just quietly stop visiting or having the kids visit without giving him the opportunity to pontificate on the matter.

      4. Elkay*

        That’s a crappy email, essentially saying “Look at all the bad things you’ve done, that gives me carte blanche to behave however I want”.

      5. Cristina in England*

        Wow. I cannot believe what an inappropriate reply that was!! You have my total sympathy, that is a horrible email to get from your own father. The homophobic insults now just seem like the tip of the iceberg, and I can see why you emailed instead of said something to his face. If you did not want to see him anymore that would be justified.

        1. bearing*

          I think some of this is gaslighting, although I can’t be sure (that being the nature of gaslighting). I can’t, for example, remember a time when I or any of my kids broke a TV.

          Thank you for your support. I felt a strong need for some outside reinforcement that this is not an okay response.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am so very sorry. This is way out of line. (massive understatement) There are at least 20 different problems with this email. His mouth is like a machine gun and his words are like bullets.

            Your dad is a very angry person and his anger fuels his hatred. He has a lot of hatred in him. You are the handy target of the moment. I started out reading by focusing on your kids, but now I am just as concerned for you. I think it is wise to take some down time.

            I suspect this is not the first such outburst and it’s not the second, either. Please do some reading on toxic parent-child relationships. Knowledge is power. The more you know the more confident you will feel about your next step.

          2. EG*

            You made a reasonable request that was received with poor manners and his response was very out of line. I’d respond to someone like this by simply not being around them anymore, clearly he doesn’t care about offending you or respecting your wishes about your children. Hugs!

      6. Vancouver Reader*

        Yes, there’s all sorts of bad stuff out there that you children will see/hear/experience, but for me, it’s one thing to get it from a total stranger or even someone I do know, it’s a totally different thing to have it coming from a family member. And the fact that he won’t acknowledge that he’s done something wrong just shows how out of touch he is.

      7. Jazzy Red*

        I wrote my comment below before I read this.

        Wow. What an angry, manipulative reply. I’m sorry that such a crappy thing happened to you.

      8. Clever Name*

        ugh. Wow. I’m so glad you stod up to your dad about the gay comments. Bigotry tears families apart. I’m sorry your dad is being so awful. I’m sure your mother and her friends thought you were a wonderful daughter. He’s being manipulative.

    8. Jazzy Red*

      Listen, no matter how your dad reacts, YOU DID THE RIGHT THING! If you don’t teach your children by your example, they’ll pick up other people’s examples.

      Stay strong! My niece once had to tell her mom to not come over when she’s been drinking, because she got mean to the children. Niece was very nervous about doing this, but she had to protect her children. Niece and her mom came to a very good understanding later, and her mom stopped drinking around the kids.

      I’m proud of you for standing up for the right thing.

  26. Alistair*

    Been waiting for this! So, I finally got to see Frozen. Very good movie! I really liked the non-traditional hero and villain, and especially the non-traditional true love. Anna was awesome; both my wife and I love her fearlessness and happy personality. I appreciated the non-annoying sidekicks, and that seems to be a rarity these days. I think I understand why Let It Go is a hit (kudos to the writers for slipping ‘fractals’ into the lyrics!), though we really like the opening song, and I really enjoyed all the native Sami culture singing they included.

    As a gamer though, well, look, Queen Elsa. You’re the Ice Queen. You have amazing powers! You have the magic to create two living snowmen, the fine control to create a form-fitting dress (pardon me for saying so, but those hips are killer!) and a freaking ICE CASTLE. You have the raw power to not only put the entire kingdom into everlasting winter, but to freeze it beyond solid! What I’m getting at is, two dudes with crossbows and a single dude with a sword should have been absolutely no match for you. We gotta work on that!

    Lastly here, I have to ask. Why did Frozen become a thing? Why is it so big? I have a daughter, and really love and appreciate the movies where the princess gets to save the day, or at least be a big part of that. So why is Frozen the big deal when other recent movies like Brave or Tangled aren’t? (Or my personal fave, Mulan) I have a few thoughts about why I personally don’t get it, and I want to hear from all you, so I can get those thoughts fully formed. Cheers!

    1. Stephanie*

      Maybe because of “Let It Go”? TBH, I didn’t really get why it was such a megahit either. I enjoyed it, but I was baffled at its success (and that Disney is still doing stuff for it a year later).

      1. TL -*

        I think the sibling aspect had a lot to do with it – very rarely do princess movies include a sibling that’s significant but it’s certainly something most kids will relate to better than a true love storyline.

    2. Sabrina*

      I don’t get it. I didn’t think it was that good and I didn’t think the music was all that great either.

      1. The IT Manager*

        I agree. I saw it last year and was very unimpressed. I am now baffled by its continued success a year later.

        What’s the interest in princesses anyway? Kings, queens, princes, an princesses are an archaic political figures.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          I don’t think little girls are attracted to princesses because of their modern stance as minor figureheads–it’s pure wish fulfillment. Princesses get to wear beautiful gowns, do whatever they like, have servants to do things for them, in the Disney-sphere they have animal friends who can talk, etc., –it’s the dream of being powerful and beautiful and grown-up all at the same time.

          Disney’s capitalization on the princess thing for young girls has been one of the most amazing marketing triumphs of our era. There isn’t a thing that hasn’t been princess-ified from diapers to toothpaste to full-on Princess Experiences at Disney World. It’s possible for a little kid to totally lose themselves in a princess dream, which parents like to buy into, because there’s a very limited amount of time your kids are young and imaginative like that.

          1. fposte*

            And there was plenty of interest in them pre-Disney–as you note, it’s a capitalization on an interest, not an invention of one.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      I don’t think Disney even knows why it was such a huge hit, they’re just capitalizing on it. Like you said, I’m not going to get all upset about it because they are pretty strong characters/role models, but yea I don’t understand it at all.

    4. FD*

      Incoming TL;DR

      I think a big part of it was the fact it was pretty well an original story, which have been very thin on the ground for some time. Most things are based on books, remakes of some kind, or sequels. (Yes, it’s sort of kind of inspired by the Snow Queen–but so thinly that it’s basically an original story.) Tangled was, despite the original elements, a fairly familiar story. Brave, not so much. However, Brave also was a story that’s been done a million times before (tomboyish girl wants more than her traditional role, balks at arranged marriage, etc.). There were original elements, but the character type’s been done to death.

      Frozen featured an original story and characters who haven’t really gotten much play before. The fact that the two leads are sisters, and both are really protagonists, was unique. The fact that the primary focus of the plot is familial love instead of romantic love is unusual. The fact that the main comic relief / cute character was funny and relevant to the plot was unusual. Most comic relief / cute characters don’t have much of a reason to be there, and are often annoying (Tangled, the chameleon is cute, but could be taken out of the plot without changing it at all; Pocahontas, the pug and racoon are just kind of…there; Little Mermaid, Flounder serves as the Greek chorus, but that role could have been filled by Sebastian alone). Olaf was actually funny–mostly because of the irreverent gallows humor about him melting–and he helped move the plot forward.

      The visuals, of course, are stunning–the characters look human enough without heading into the uncanny valley. The hair work is amazing, and as you pointed out, the clothing is incredible. The fabric of each different dress moves in different ways–and in some cases, it adds character. Anna’s accordion dress is a lighter fabric, and twirls and moves a lot, which represents her free-spirited personality. Elsa’s coronation dress is very heavy and confining, and has little flow–which makes sense for being heavy velvet or the like, but also represents her repression and denial. Conversely, her ice-dress flows and fits to her form, while allowing her a greater freedom of movement. The ice is amazing too–idealized, but gorgeous.

      I think the music is amazing–but it is definitely a Broadway musical, not a traditional animated musical. I think the part that jumped out at me the most is the sung argument between Elsa and Anna (“For The First Time in Forever (Reprise)”). Particularly this exchange:

      [Anna:] Actually we’re not.
      [Elsa:] What do you mean you’re not?
      [Anna:] I get the feeling you don’t know
      [Elsa:] What do I not know?
      [Anna:] Arendelle’s in deep, deep, deep, deep snow

      That’s really, really atypical for an animated musical, where all songs tend to be complete and somewhat isolated. Think about “The Mob Song” in Beauty and the Beast. Partway through, the song drops down to an instrumental, and there’s a spoken interlude (both with Belle and Maurice and with the Beast and Mrs. Potts). They then return to the musical number. Compare to something like Les Mis:

      [Javert:] Forgive me, Sir // I would not dare!
      [Valjean:] Say what you must // Don’t leave it there…

      If you have ‘dialogue’ in the middle of a song in a Broadway show, it’s fairly common to sing it. Frozen is also structured very much like a Broadway show–“Let it Go” is the big finale for Act I. That feel is bolstered by having Idina Menzel in the role of Elsa, of course.

      I think the Broadway feel is why people tend to either completely love it or not get what all the fuss is about. For some people, the music clicks and it’s amazing, and others don’t get why everyone seems to like it so much. But I think the genuinely unique elements are why it’s had so much staying power.

    5. Nina*

      I agree with Stephanie; I think the popularity of “Let It Go” gave the movie a lot more press. In addition to Idina Menzel’s version, Demi Lovato recorded one, plus there were numerous versions on YouTube. Social media really bolstered that song, and just about every kid was singing it!

      I found Frozen to be underwhelming, really. It was cute, but nowhere close to Disney’s best.

    6. Artemesia*

      My 4 year old granddaughter is entranced — she adores this thing. And it is Elsa not Anna that she is enthralled with. I truly think what it is is the ‘powers’ — the idea that this woman has ‘powers.’

      I normally hate this sort of thing — princesses and all — but loved the fact that Anna’s immediate choice to marry Prince wonderful is shown to be ridiculous — pretty strong message about the usual fairytale (or opera story) right there.

      1. Liane*

        Yes, love the message that “Prince Wonderful-at-First-Sight might just be a jerk” is a very good one. I was also pleased that the first person to really try to get Anna to think about this was Kristoff, a guy. Now there’s a hero for you.

        And it’s not just little girls. A longtime family friend–confirmed bachelor–sent us a copy & my 17 year old daughter LOVES the movie and Elsa, I think the moreso because she gets that “Let It Go” isn’t a happy or triumphant song. It’s about despair.
        And yes, the rest of us love it too–18 year old boy, geeky mom & geeky-grumpy dad.

    7. Helena*

      I think she could have killed them quite easily, but she found it harder to contain them without hurting them or, err.. letting go- she was scared that she might be a monster.

    8. Alistair*

      Thanks for all the thoughts, everyone.

      Here’s my thoughts about why I personally don’t get it: I’m a guy, and an only child. I can’t fully fathom all the sibling interactions, especially sister-sister ones. And so I feel like there is this whole emotional lavel of the movie that I simply can’t connect with. (I believe this is the same issue I had with Brave – it’s about mother-daughter relations and communications, and mother-son is different stuff. So yeah, fun, but I didn’t get that either.)

      Regarding Elsa, I feel it’s the same thing, as I can’t connect with her emotional journey, even if I can follow along on screen.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      I still have not seen it. Though I had to go to Wikipedia and read the synopsis so I could understand what the hell was going on in this last series of Once Upon a Time.

    10. Mints*

      I’m a little baffled too. And I get irked when people are like “It’s the first Disney movie to focus on female relationships!” It’s not, actually. Lilo and Stitch and Brave come to mind.
      I do think that the ice castle aesthetic is really distinct and appealing, which goes long in the dresses for play time category.

  27. nep*

    Alison, how great does it feel to know that so many bright, wonderful people eagerly await new posts on your site, eagerly await a chance to exchange with other members of the community you’ve engendered?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s continually surprising to me! (And incredibly gratifying, of course.) Sometimes I think, “But it’s just workplace advice! How is it this interesting to people?” It’s fascinating to me, and I’m thrilled and grateful.

      1. Mimmy*

        I think a big part of it is the commenters – it’s an unusually friendly, insightful community, and people like that. I avoid most other message boards because the commenters can be pretty negative, and sometimes even get nasty.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          Yes that’s exactly it for me! Alison does a great job to shut down threads when they start heading downwards and the readers here (with the odd, strange exception) are all thoughtful, intelligent and considerate people. Makes for great reading.

      2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd*

        I’ll tell you what I think it is. I think it’s a stellar example of what happens when there is good, strong leadership.

        The success of what happens here has a lot to do with the quality of the commenters who follow the blog and actively participate. It’s not a freak accident that all of these people wound up here and hang out here. It’s meta or ironic or some other word (those are hard words to get right!) that the blog itself is a living example of the practices of good leadership for positive people results.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Bingo. I agree, groups tend to follow their leaders. I believe I have even seen studies on this but it was long ago. However, the idea is that group members will tend to do as their leader does. So if the leader is corrupt, guess what happens next. Conversely, if the leader is admirable, then group members will tend to go toward that behavior.
          Participation is also key, an active leader will get better results than a passive leader.

          In the example of Alison’s blog here- there is a tremendous need for sane work place advice out there. This means grounded advice with a thinking person’s explanation. Yes, it is going to draw a certain type of person, and that is compliment. People who are not interested in progressing or doing well where they are at will not be interested in what we are talking about here. Likewise people who have no interest in “paying it forward” will not hang out here. (We spend hours reading and commenting and there is no money in it! And no one even wants money! You see a bunch of people doing the right thing, with the right attitude and you just want to jump in.)

          So, Alison, have you looked at your hit counter lately? I bet the counts for unique addresses are way up.

        2. Clever Name*

          Yes. I used to read Corporette regularly, but I got tired of the commenters. Each thread would start out with, “Yeah, the dress is nice. Now about my problem” and then the thread would devolve into catty backbiting, not to mention the site’s resident “troll”. The comment section here really goes to show the effect that Alison’s leadership has. She doesn’t tolerate off topic discussions (which is why we heart the open threads so hard), and she tells commenters when they’re out of line. Thus we commenters also police ourselves. We say “wow” when someone posts something particularly out of line and there are no trolls because they are not fed. Bravo, Alison!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        But it is! We spend so much time at work–in many cases, more time than we spend at home. It’s nice to have real, practical advice we can actually use that helps us deal with all these situations at work or with job hunting.

        And the comments are great also. And the WTF stories. I never knew so many people had such crazy bosses / coworkers.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I have, somewhere, I think, a heavy cat like the cast iron cat. I think its made out of cement or something. However, it was old when I was a kid, so now it’s old plus 50 years.
      This means right at the start I have a bias. The cat reminds me of the cat I have which reminds me of my Nana. (Cat belonged to Nana.) All is good. She used hers as a doorstop.

      Now the CC of MC, hmmm. I can’t see it fitting in with my stuff. At all. It looks like it is made from tiny pieces of tile. Yeah. Interesting. When I shop I see many things that interest me. I spend all of 60 seconds looking at it before I put it back on the shelf. And that is the context I mean when I say the CC of MC is interesting. You could test it and see if it would perform well as a doorstop.

      1. the gold digger*

        Exactly, NSNR. I can see plenty of stuff I like in the store, as in, “Well that’s cute.” Doesn’t mean I want it in my house. Doesn’t mean I want to dust it.

        CC of MC would be too small to be a doorstop, unfortunately. At least then it would be useful.

  28. Ruffingit*

    So I had watched the first episode of Broadchurch way back when it came on. Then I didn’t get around to seeing the others and I kept telling myself I would do so. Finally, I realized I wasn’t going to make the time for it, but I did want to know who the murderer was so I read the online recap of the season finale. I’m not a jump to the end of the book type, but in this case I just knew I wasn’t going to bother with watching so why not find out the ending. Random thought for today :)

    1. Elizabeth West*

      The first series of the UK one is on Netflix now. I want to watch it. I have put it in my queue. I am not going to have time to watch it for a while. If they pull it, I will cry. #Tennant

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        on the plus side, perhaps when you get around to it the second series will be on so you can have double Tennant? I am not a Doctor Who person but man, I love, LOVE his accent…I could listen to it all day!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I love it too, except he doesn’t speak in his regular accent on Doctor Who! But yeah, then I can binge watch and get totally caught up.

          One thing I enjoyed about Battle of the Five Armies was listening to all the accents. God, I miss the UK so much.

  29. Dang*

    Has anyone had to move back in with their parents after, say, age 27?

    After various bad circumstances, I moved 700 miles back to my hometown. Into my parents house. I’m generally close with them but it was a hard pill to swallow. Now, a year and a half have passed and its not looking any less grim In terms of moving out. It’s an expensive area and I’m temping.

    Some days it just seems like too frigging much. I love my family but it is slowly driving me insane. It just feels like my life doesn’t belong to me. I have no privacy and they are very set in their ways etc. of course it’s their house and they don’t have to let me stay, so I am grateful but at 30 I feel like a pathetic freak of nature.

    I lived with them for a few months after I graduated college, but at 22 i hadn’t really been on my own yet (although I thought at the time living in a dorm counted, of course)

    Anyone in the same boat? Words of wisdom for coping until I can get out on my own again?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Although I’m not in the same boat, I was living with my parents when I was younger. The only thing that let me keep my sanity was having a Very. Specific. Plan. Even with temping, I’m sure you can set aside some money each paycheck towards your “escape fund.” My brother just got promoted and is now moving to a new city, and two of his college buddies have been living with their parents and they’re itching to get out. So now they each pay $250/month for a shared house. I know at 30 roommates aren’t ideal, but if you live in a really expensive area, that might be what you have to do to make it work. Good luck!

    2. BRR*

      My response is going to be kind of negative but over the summer my mom had a medical issue while visiting and had to stay with me for two weeks. I would have the same issues as you living in their house and those issues still existed with them living in my house. If you can, I would try and check into a hotel for a weekend. I know having the privacy and alone time would do me a world of good.

    3. Stephanie*

      No advice, but in the exact same boat (including the low-paying temp job). My area’s not expensive, but job market’s middling, so I get the sense of frustration and hopelessness.

    4. Alice*

      I ( 27) recently moved back in with my parents after my visa in Germany ran out and not being able to get a new one. I hear you about them being stuck in their ways and not feeling like I can be my own person while here.
      Dinner is a sticking point for me, because I would like to cook more (more veggies and more from scratch), but because of my schedule and when my parents want to eat, it doesn’t work out.
      I’ve started carving out time for myself when I can do what I want. I’ve joined several Meetups which take me out of the house for a few hours, and I put my foot down about cooking at least one meal on the weekend. I try and keep a schedule of what I do at home, reading at 6, underwater teapot weaving at 9, Etc. These things can be done away from my parents, in corners of the house where I’m not regularly disturbed.
      They might seem like little things, but having my own routine that isn’t completely dictated by theirs really helps me keep my head. That plus my savings account and my eventual plan to move (Summer 2016), reminds me this will be temporary. It hasn’t been that long, so I wonder how I’ll feel in a year. But I’m optimistic.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      My husband and I moved in with my parents after a relocation across country. Luckily for us, this was only for 6 months until we found new jobs and bought a house in our new city. I know what you mean! I love ’em, but man, we were going crazy there.

      All I can say is try to carve out your own “space” within the house, and get out doing things as often as you can. Stick to your financial plan for however long it take for you to move out again and be independent. At least you ARE working, even if temp, and it’s something to build on. But most of all, be grateful that your parents are understanding and have allowed you move back in order to get your life back on track. Many don’t.

      1. Artemesia*

        You have probably done this but I think it is important to have one talk with them about how to preserve THEIR privacy and YOURS. The ‘it is hard for adults to live together like this’ talk. And of course carve out as much of a life outside the home as you can. Have your coffee shop where you can go hang; join some activities that take you out and help you develop friendships. Be out every Saturday night (or Sunday afternoon) etc.

        And at home, take over X meal or meals unless that is taboo. Being in charge of planning and preparing is an adult activity. Show through this sort of thing that you are both competent and grateful.

        And be planning the next move. A houseshare can be an economical way to have autonomy (not that roommates are not annoying — but they are annoying in a different way than parents — we all sort of become ‘kids’ again when with our parents)

        Good luck and hope you get that job soon that allows you more independence.

    6. E.R.*

      At 29, I was blindsided by an unexpected break-up that forced me out of the home we owned together. That same week my boss gave me notice that he might have to let me go (ultimately, he didn’t and things at my company got much better.) But during that dark time I moved in with my parents and I’m still here one year later. I don’t try to “fix” my parents – my mom is a bit nuts and my dad is super forgetful (always has been), but I truly try to enjoy the time I have with them. You don’t believe it until you really do it, but changing your perspective can make a world a difference. Practice gratitude, kindness, and patience.
      Also, I work all day, take classes at night, run outdoors (or walk, when it’s icy or I’m too tired), visit friends a lot, play tennis with my dad in the summer and ski with him in the winter, and pitch in around the house whenever possible. I really dreaded living with my parents when I first moved back, but this last year turned out to be wonderful. Embrace the change; the hard times pass too. (Easier said than done, I know.)
      My plan is too move out again in the Spring – I’ve saved up quite a bit of money, ultimately, and ready to move on (again)

    7. Gene*

      I moved back in with them at ~25, after I got out of the Navy. Managed to score a job that lasted about a year in the top of the early-80s recession and it worked out great, Mom and Dad both worked second shift with Tuesday and Wednesday off and I worked graveyard with Saturday and Sunday off; we hardly saw each other. That and there were only the three of us in a 2800 square foot house… Even after I got fired from that finally got RealJob, we still didn’t see much of each other, I was on normal M-F, 8 to 5.

  30. Treena Kravm*

    So, my husband and I were really excited to start off the new year on a trip to Utah. I was making a list of things we wanted to do and I learned that the Mormon church museum is closed until next fall for renovations! It may sound weird, but that was 80% of the reason for us going to Salt Lake, and 100% the reason I was ok with going in the winter-time. So I started thinking, and I think we want to use the massive amount of airline points we have lying around and go to Belize for a week (2-3 weeks later, mid/end-Jan). Any suggestions? Or better/cheaper places to go? We can do Mexico, Central America, or Caribbean (points-wise). We don’t want a resort, and the reason Belize appeals to us is the combination of rainforest/nature/hiking/ancient ruins/beach/snorkeling.

    1. nep*

      Not a lot of experience in the region but I’ll just throw this into the mix. Spent about 10 days in Nicaragua a couple years ago. Lovely. Refreshing. Charming. I’ll certainly go back.

      1. Mints*

        My motherland!
        (This is off topic, but this is the first time I’m posting this off-extra-anon because my old job made me extra paranoid).

        Anyways, yes Nicaragua is awesome. I love it because that’s where I’m from, but people who love traveling really like it for the amazing nature. It’s one of the best untouched jungle mountain areas. The beaches are amazing. You can visit lots of volcanoes too! There’s an inverted volcano with a lake on top, and you can tell people you went swimming on a volcano (Masaya). It’s great for hiking swimming walking types of tourists

    2. BRR*

      That sounds amazing. I’m going to Costa Rica in February and I’ve hit the point where I can’t read up enough about it.

    3. Jordi*

      I went to Belize several years ago and loved it. I did a guided kayaking/camping/snorkelling trip out of Placencia where we camped out on the small cayes within a Marine reserve where you could literally walk out of your tent, walk 20 feet in any direction and be snorkelling in gorgeous protected reef. It was absolute paradise. (One of the islands we camped on was called Silk Caye –I recommend a google image search and then imagine pitching a tent there for a couple nights).

    4. Clever Name*

      If you don’t want to do a resort, I’d avoid Mexico, as much as it hurts to say that. (I have family from there and have been there 3 times) there’s some really crazy shit going on there (40something people were kidnapped and executed from Mexico City, and most thing the government is responsible)

  31. Mimmy*

    Hope this isn’t too similar to Graciosa’s question at the top of the thread…

    For those who celebrate Christmas, what was your favorite gift this year? (I think gifts are exchanged during Hanakkah too, so anyone who celebrates can chime in too–I’m all-inclusive :) )

    My favorites: A new, smaller pocketbook and a DVD set of American Sign Language (ASL) lessons.

    1. vvondervvoman*

      My favorite was from my husband. He bought a bunch of decorating supplies and wrote me a poem telling me that we could bake and decorate Wonder Woman cookies. He HATES cooking/baking and detailed work like that, so it was especially sweet (pun absolutely intended!). I was super bummed because I didn’t have time this year for Christmas sugar cookies, so it was perfect =)

    2. Elizabeth West*

      An Amazon gift card, because I was able to buy myself an expensive out-of-print CD that has been in my wish list FOREVER. The price finally dropped to the point where the card would be worth using for one item. Yay!

    3. Windchime*

      My favorite is a 5-DVD set of the Rocky movies. I love me some Rocky; it’s true. But the reason it’s my favorite gift is because my youngest son thought it up on his own and bought it because he knows of my love of Rocky. So it’s a great gift, but the thought behind it is even greater.

  32. Sunflower*

    For anyone living in NYC or has lived there, best and worst parts. Also, why did you chose to stay or leave?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I lived there for 10 years– 8 in Queens, 2 in Harlem (which I LOVED LOVED LOVED). I left because the timing was right– bf got funding for a PhD program in a city with a much lower cost of living and I needed a change. We were at the point in our lives where we (and most of our friends) were spending Saturday nights on the sofa with the dog, so why pay so much rent when we can do the same thing and actually save some money. Money was the main reason. Pace was a big one too– I am naturally tightly wound and I needed to be released from that.

      Things I loved: walking. Architecture. Being surrounded by exciting stuff. Carnegie Hall. Lincoln Center. Calling a friend and saying, “Meet me for a quick drink in midtown after work.” Excellent restaurants. Taking the bus to work down 5th Avenue. Cheap things to do on a weekend. Fun things to do alone. Flights to anywhere. My friends.

      Things I hated: when the subway got stuck. The expense– I love the theater, rarely went. The constant stress just getting to and from work (I worked in Times Square for 8 years, it was hell). Not being able to save. Never feeling like I had enough cash. Getting older and just being over it and unable to stay out until 3am.

      NYC was great for me for a loooong time, and I’m still a New Yorker in my heart (natives will argue with me, but hey! I don’t give a f***! Just kidding), but after a while it just got to be too much. I love the city we moved to and I mostly miss my friends, but I don’t miss a lot of the hustle. Oddly, I think the younger and broker you are, the better New York can be– it’s an adventure. After those years are over, it’s either a sustainable lifestyle or a drag.

      1. Steve G*

        I get what you mean in the last paragraph. I’m thinking of having kids, but I’m a bit mad that I feel that I need to pay for a private school in order to get them a good education. I already feel like I am paying too much for too many items that are free or cheaper elsewhere. I may leave in a couple of years just to avoid the schools here.

    2. Lore*

      Best part, I think overall, is public transportation. My life is immeasurably better for the fact that I get half an hour of reading time on the way to work rather than having to drive–not to mention never having anyone worry about drinking and driving. I’m a big theater goer as well. The worst is how it just keeps getting more expensive and more geared to the needs of rich people rather than the rest of us. I stayed sort of by accident–came for a year to do research for a grad degree and wound up with the first in a series of publishing and theater jobs that taught me I didn’t want the degree/career I’d been preparing for.

        1. ILiveToServe*

          Former NYC person. One year in Manhattan rest in Brooklyn (Heights area) 23 years. Left two years ago for an academic appointment in the midwest.

          Best- Competition-being driven to be “the best” Great job. Easy public transportation. Easy access to good food and entertainment. Food delivery- Fresh Direct/ any culture for dinner- Chinese, Thai, Polish, Indian. Intellectually challenging and stimulating.

          Cons- When the subways go down all is lost. No time or money to take advantage of the great food and entertainment. No money- Good salary-high real estate costs. Constant stress.

    3. Steve G*

      Best

      – career opportunities
      Eating out – forget the overpriced trendy restaurants in Manhattan that are currently serving kale cooked 10 different ways, over salmon. Right across the bridges in Brooklyn and Queens are 100s of awesome, cheaper, no-name restaurants. There are so many good places to try out.

      Cool, but sometimes not –

      Diversity – it is usually a very cool thing. You can try authentic food from just about any country in the world in NYC, and you meet so many people from other places in the world, if you want to learn another language, I’m sure you can find a native speaker to tutor you here. However, it can be overwhelming at times in the sense that sometimes you are the minority, and that feels weird. Many a times I have gotten on the subway to be the only white person (when I go to work really early, at 530 or 600) and that just feels weird some times…..or in some areas, you’ll be the only native English speaker.

      Not so hot –

      rents. Too high in certain areas even for people who live here. As an example, my 420 sq ft apartment in west Brooklyn is on the market for $1500. There have been at least 20 people to see it. No takers. Gee wonder why. It is really nice for what it is (nice appliances, shiny floors, really high ceilings)….but do you really want to work your way up to $70K+ to live in a studio outside of Manhattan? I was paying $1300……

      Noise – all it takes is one neighbor to ruin a block. I have a neighbor who likes to put their boom box on on their window sill with the window open at midnight in the summer. WTF. It is so nonsensical and disruptive. Wear earphones! Another neighbor has a dog that yips really high pitched for an hour or so before they let it in. Glad I’m moving!!!

      Garbage/rats – we don’t pull out trash cans to the curb like in other places, we just throw the bags in the street. Smelly piles, especially in the summer, and rats running through the garbage bag piles is a very common site, especially in crowded areas where the piles are larger…

      Subway not always as reliable as they sound – some times the subways on really busy lines during normal business hours don’t come for like 10 or 12 minutes. Some subway lines are consistently delayed, like the L train. The MTA staff won’t give you a coupon to transfer to a bus or pay you back for your ride most of the times, because technically, it is just a delay (even if that means standing there for 1/2 an hour and then not being able to fit on the first 3-4 trains that come after the delay ends, which has happened on the L train on average once every 2-3 months since I moved here 5 years ago).

      Manhattan not as exciting as it seems/as it used to be – I used to love Manhattan in the 90s because it was so different from other cities, but more and more, I feel like it is become the same as any other mid-size to large American city. Part of it is that all of the mega-clubs like Tunnel, Twilo, and Sound Factory and Palladium closed, so that “alternative” music scene is lost. Also, before the internet, it was exciting to go to specialty music and book stores to get “alternative” or hard-to-find stuff. I guess it is a plus that you can order just about anything on the internet now, but it takes the excitement away from neighborhoods like Greenwich Village. NYC also used to be a fun place to people watch. I could walk up and down 8th St/st. Mark’s Place all day, it was an endless parade of punks, goths, rave people, people dressed like its Halloween every day of the year. Now that are just a bunch of cookie-cutter people, loads of rich looking white people that all kind of look the same. Boring!!! I know that is going to offend people here, but NY used to be a place where people came to experience and be something different, so…if all you are going to do is go to work at your corporate job and then go home, and you’re gonna wear sweatpants all weekend and you aren’t going to participate in NYC in any meaningful way…you don’t HAVE to live in Greenwich Village or another area that used to be cool…you can do that anywhere. I know I am going to get comments from other people that I am being rude, but I don’t care, it’s hard to word, but it is true, you definitely feel it when you live here. There are definitely even more kids-of-rich people than there every were before now, living in Manhattan. Sorry, but they just don’t make the city interesting.

      Staying because I found a “cheap” place with a garden to buy, and I am very confident that the value is gonna go up.

      1. Stephanie*

        My friend grew up in Stuyvesant Town (in the 80s) and had similar complaints about NYC. She said she definitely was glad that it is safer now, but felt a lot of Manhattan was turning into a rich person’s playground.

        1. Steve G*

          Glad my feeling is validated…I think the 90s were the best balance between safety and fun. And Manhattan as reasonably affordable. Even just 5 years ago you could rent a studio apt and earn below $80K…now its like, you can eke by on $80 or $90K in Manhattan (I’m talking about below 96th St, where most out-of-towners moving here want to live), but you really need to make over $100K.

  33. BRR*

    My current cable deal is going to expire soon, any negotiation advice that doesn’t appear in most negotiating articles? Threatening to quit doesn’t work as we don’t have any other options (the representative literally called my bluff).

    1. Treena Kravm*

      I don’t know if this works in real life, but you can absolutely threaten to quit. My husband and I have never had cable, and for a few years, not even a TV. Our internet (cable) company would call ALL THE TIME trying to get us to switch/bundle. It took about 10 times to convince them that we really don’t have a TV or cable and it’s not the price, or the channels, *we actually don’t want cable in our home.* If you can live without it for 1-3 months, try it (and maybe you’ll find it liberating! let me know if you want to see how we manage–we watch TV all the time!) and then they’ll likely be more willing to negotiate with you. The cable companies are so non-competitive anymore in so many places, their only competition is not using the service, and it’s a trend they’re afraid of!

      1. fposte*

        Ours will only lower fees for one one quit-threaten. (I suspect also internet complicates the matter–a lot of people I know with no cable TV have cable internet.)

      2. BRR*

        I have previously lived without cable and it was fine. But I do need internet. There were no deals for internet so it was cheaper for me to add cable than do internet alone. I threatened to quit but I have no other options. The rep said something along the lines of telling me to go ahead and quit. I also do enjoy having cable.

      3. Artemesia*

        My kids don’t have cable — they have netflix and hulu and connect various new things from the internet. We didn’t have cable until our kids were out of the house because we didn’t want to have crap on tap in our home. We could get commercial TV with an antena.

        Cable is surprisingly unnecessary so you can certainly quit and then sign up again if they come back with a deal you can’t refuse. But you can a huge amount of content on line — some free or some for modest monthly cost like netflix.

        1. fposte*

          Are they getting their internet via cable, though? That seems to be predominant these days. From the company’s POV, as long as you’ve got to pay them something, whether it’s for TV or internet, you’ve still got cable.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’m still getting mine via DSL, but I’m getting totally sick of it. It’s expensive for what you get and slow. I’d switch to Mediacom cable internet, but they want you to sign a two-year contract to get the cheapy first-year price. I don’t want to sign a contract, because if I get a chance to bail out of this hellhole of a town, I AM GONE.

          2. vvondervvoman*

            I don’t know if that’s how they see it. Our internet (cable) company solicits us all the time to add the cable.

            1. fposte*

              I mean that if you still get internet from them you’re not really walking away from them–you’re still part of the Comcast Family, lucky you (and me). I don’t think the upselling attempts stop whatever you do.

        2. BRR*

          By cable deal I mean cable and internet. I could be fine without cable if internet was cheap but I still have to get my internet through comcast. There are no other options available where I live.

    2. Elkay*

      I once told mine “I don’t want to pay this increase” and they got me onto a different deal. Not sure what you’ve already read but it’s worth saying “I need to discuss this with my spouse, how long is this deal valid for?”. I’m not in the US so I’m not sure what your non-cable options are (other than Netflix) but definitely look at whether you use all the options, if it’s a package deal see if they’ll throw anything in for free to keep you as a customer (free weekend calls/extra channels). Mine’s just gone up again and I don’t have the energy to negotiate with them this time round.

  34. fposte*

    Random reading report: recuperation means my attention span is still intermittent, and I’ve therefore really enjoyed reading the Kindle version of two volumes of Michael Palin’s diaries, the 1969-79 and 1980-88 volumes. While individual entries tend to be quick and documentary rather than deep, the overall pictures created as they go are fascinating to me as somebody who was in Britain during some of that time and has been interested in the creative scene there of that period. It’s also fascinating to see the move from the young guy of 26 who can’t believe the TV show he did with his friends is popular to the middle-aged man creating projects and trying to weigh how much he wants to be home with his family against how much he wants to do things (and get paid, understandably).

    The amount of stuff you are expected to do for free was mind-boggling to me, and it was also an interesting reminder that the grimness of Thatcher’s Britain started pre-Thatcher, with power cuts, IRA bombings, etc. The drinking level is very high, so when somebody’s considered an alcoholic in this crowd you know it’s bed. There are also many great little anecdotes (if you’re an Alan Bennett fan there are lovely Alan Bennett moments, and some excellent Maggie Smith tales), and it’s also clear that the wonder was the Pythons managed to work together well enough to create as much as they did, given how prone they were to annoying one another.

    1. Eva*

      Thanks for the reading report, fposte! I love reading well-written autobiographies and diaries and just might check this one out. The head of a Python must be interesting to get into.

    2. DeadQuoteOlympics*