weekend free-for-all – January 3-4, 2015

SamThis 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.

{ 771 comments… read them below }

  1. Al Lo*

    So, I turned on the first episode of Friends the other day on Netflix to have something familiar on in the background while I did some busy work, and suddenly, it’s 21 episodes later. Funny how that show does that to me…

      1. Al Lo*

        It’s even easier when Netflix just keeps the next episode going. Takes all the work out of binge-watching!

        1. Noah*

          I always have to laugh at myself when I dig for the remote when Netflix asks “are you still watching?” That means I’ve been planted on the couch for too long watching the same thing.

            1. GOG11*

              Yup – I generally reply with a “yes, Netflix , I am still watching.” *stink eye*

              …you think you know my life, Netflix, but you don’t know me!

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I don’t think that’s ever happened to me, because I can’t stand to let the credits run even for the Netflix-allotted 20 seconds, I always have to jump to the next episode immediately.

            1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

              Son #2 does this and it makes me insane. If I watch a series behind him, I have to press “start from the beginning” or I’m starting in the last 20 seconds, which, happens more often than not.

              Be Kind, Rewind! (if someone else uses the same account :) )

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                Hah! Vudu does that, I always FFWD to the end on Vudu because otherwise they stay on your Watchlist as partially watched, but on Netflix all three of us in the house have our own Netflix profiles, even the minion. The Roku 3 and the TiVo Premiere and Roamio models all have the new Netflix client that asks you to choose the user profile when you start the app, are you using an older client running the old app with the red and gray background, or have you just not set up user profiles on your account? I got two refurbished Roku 3s at a third off through Woot!, I highly recommend them.

                1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

                  I’m a Roku fangirl and indeed have a 3. The family has my old 2 in the living room.

                  Ah, now that you mention it, I believe that is why did start using profiles last year . Son #2 has his own profile, with the rest of us in another one, and THAT’S why he hasn’t irritated me with his habits recently.

                  Here I was thinking he’d finally gotten manners. :p

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Parks and Recreation for me. It’s so bad (my addiction, not the show) I will even watch marathons on Esquire or FXX, just because they’re on.

        1. Sourire*

          I am binge watching not on Netflix but rather on amazon prime and your name stood out to me immediately. Such a fantastic show, can’t believe it took me so long to get around to watching it

          1. Sourire*

            And this is what happens when you try posting on your phone. I meant to actually include the name of the series I’m watching, The Wire. Oops! lol

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Ha, no worries! It’s a phenomenal show that I didn’t even watch until 2 years ago. We re-watch regularly.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I do that all the time! I hate it when it times out and asks if you want to carry on playing the show, it’s like Netflix is silently judging me for not going out more.

      1. Al Lo*

        Oh, me too. And Gilmore Girls. That’s the one I’m watching in the background at work these days, since I’ve seen it so many times I don’t have to watch actively anymore. Friends is just so bite-sized. It’s easy to get sucked in.

        1. brightstar*

          I just finished binge watching Gilmore Girls. I went through all 7 seasons in two weeks!

          I still heart Jess. I like to think he and Rory eventually ended up together.

          1. Ruffingit*

            I was actually more a fan of Dean. Jess just seemed like he was messing around with Rory’s heart all the time. Commit or don’t, geeze Jess. And Logan – UGH. Don’t even get me started. I hated that guy. I really wanted Rory to end up with Marty, the guy she watched Duck Soup with at Yale.

        2. Elkay*

          I just discovered Gilmore Girls, it’s my new favourite show. I’ve got a long way to go as I’m about half way into season 2.

    2. fposte*

      I have been binge-watching old Poirot episodes through my recuperation. They’re great because paying attention to the plot wouldn’t get you anywhere anyway, there are pretty period things to look at, and you see lots of interesting actors turn up, often looking much younger than they do now. I have IMDb open at the same time for the “where else have I seen him?” game, though it often gives twists away by noting they’re playing two characters in that episode.

      1. Adonday Veeah*

        I love Poirot! And I do this too with the IMDb! I thought I was the only crazy. Um… not that I think you’re crazy…

      2. Ruffingit*

        Also a Poirot fan! Huge into Sherlock Holmes as well although they took that off Netflix. Thank God for YouTube.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      There are episodes of Friends that I could probably quote verbatim! When it first aired in the UK I was 3-4 years younger than the characters, living away from home for the first time in University dorms, and my group of friends all watched it together, every week without fail. We really bonded over it (plus the X-Files, natch), so watching re-runs is an act of nostalgia for more than just the show itself.

      My husband and I ended up cancelling our NYE plans because we both had a nasty cold, and stayed in watching Twin Peaks on Netflix instead. We hadn’t heard that the series would be removed from Netflix on January 1st, and as luck would have it we watched the final episode with about 10 minutes to spare! Now we just need to find the movie to wrap everything up. Neither of us watched the show when it first aired (I was too young; he just wasn’t interested) and it was equal parts awesome and hilarious.

    4. Hermoine Granger*

      I was supposed to go shopping for summer clothes the weekend Orange is the New Black premiered last year. I figured I’d watch the first episode while having breakfast and would then head out. Yeah, I ended up shopping online so I could binge watch the whole season.

      My life feels a bit more complete now that Netflix has added “collections” of a few HGTV shows. I’ve been hoping for this for the longest and while they’re not complete series/seasons, they’re better than nothing.

      1. Editor*

        I can watch HGTV for hours. I can’t stand sitcoms and I am not very interested in movies, but show me house design programs — or anything that allows me to look at someone else’s decisions about furniture and fabrics, and I sit and stare. I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out how much it would cost to actually own the HGTV dream house on Martha’s Vineyard — trying to estimate the homeowner’s insurance, wondering whether there were deed restrictions on renting the place out, estimating how much it would cost to mow the lawns since I don’t do yard work. Yeah, totally out of my price range. Plus, I have a large extended family, so I want a house that has space for visitors, not just three bedrooms.

        1. LoFlo*

          So you would hate the website Houzz ;>. Love HGTV for the same reasons, but the cost are really off. I have learned IRL that the cost to do anything is two or three times the HGTV cost.

        2. Hermoine Granger*

          Oh man, I LOVE HGTV and DIY Network. It’s really the only thing that I’ve missed since getting rid of cable. Fortunately, I’ve been able to get my fix through Hulu, my mom’s online cable streaming account, and now Netflix. I used to try watching full episodes through the networks’ websites but they would constantly buffer, get stuck, skip around episodes, etc. I’m praying that Netflix expands their HGTV content to include episodes from all series. I’d also love to see them add Divine Design with Candace Olsen. My ideal weekends and days off are spent watching home improvement shows during the day and then switching over to movies in the evening.

          I dream about owning a house that needs weekend projects so I can and have a workshop in the garage like my grandpa. I’ve loved taking things apart / putting things together since I was a kid (much to the detriment of my mother’s possessions).

          I haven’t really been able to find any good home improvement blogs with interesting DIY projects but I’ve found a few really good interior design blogs, Houzz being #1.

    5. Sam*

      I’ve been alternating between Criminal Minds and White Collar on Netflix all weekend. I’m officially in winter hibernation mode

        1. Al Lo*

          So pretty. He’s been a favorite since Chuck, and Tim DeKay since Everwood, so when White Collar started, I was on board from day one.

    6. Jen RO*

      I had watched the first 2 seasons of Fringe about a year ago, and I had stopped because it was boring me. This holiday I figured it would be a good show to have running in the background… and I got completely sucked in. I finished season 5 last night, just in time before I had to go back to work! Lots of things didn’t make sense, but I grew so attached to the characters that I didn’t care anymore.

      1. Al Lo*

        Mmm, yes, I love those characters. Good characters and relationships make or break a show for me, and those are some of the ones I was just so invested in. Now I need to rewatch… :)

    7. Stephanie*

      My dad managed to watch all five seasons of Breaking Bad on Netflix in like an eight-day period (he’s retired). He just got into it and Netflix kept autoplaying… While I loved that show, I found it way too dark and tense to binge watch like that.

      1. Sourire*

        My father just did that as well, but it was actually his second go-round with the show. His brother was recuperating from major surgery and hadn’t seen it, so while Dad was staying with him to help out, pretty much all they did was watch Walter and Co.

    8. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      And……….. I just started the first one.

      So no one told you life was gonna be this way
      Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s D.O.A.
      It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
      When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, but

      I’ll be there for you
      (When the rain starts to pour)
      I’ll be there for you
      (Like I’ve been there before)
      I’ll be there for you
      (‘Cause you’re there for me too)

      I’ll be there for you
      (When the rain starts to pour)
      I’ll be there for you
      (Like I’ve been there before)
      I’ll be there for you
      (‘Cause you’re there for me too)

      It’s like you’re always stuck in second gear
      When it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year

      I’ll be there for you
      (When the rain starts to pour)
      I’ll be there for you
      (Like I’ve been there before)
      I’ll be there for you
      (‘Cause you’re there for me too)

      See ya’ll later! Much! :p

      (I’ve got Rachel in the wedding dress on my screen right now…..)

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        I started last night and got all the way through season 1 before I forced myself to turn it off and go bed. Seaon 2 Episode 7 (The One Where Ross Finds Out) right now.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I loved Friends, but did anyone else get really tired of the Ross/Rachel thing? I liked both characters, but I really just wanted to tell them to move on already or get together. 10 years of back and forth was incredibly irritating.

          1. Ada Lovelace*

            Agreed. I dislike them with a passion although the only time I could tolerate Rachel was when she was with Joey. I refuse to watch the ending of HIMYM for the same reason.

    9. WednesdaysMisfit*

      You’ve inspired me to binge watch Seasons 1 & 2 of “Friends” today. What a great way to spend a lazy Sunday! :)

    10. Mints*

      Sons of Anarchy for me! But it’s not a “turn on and tune out” show. I’m rewatching to reminisce about everyone being alive and happy

  2. Al Lo*

    Does anyone else use Gympact to keep you on track with workouts? I found the app a year or two ago, but at the tune, ur wasn’t available for android, so I tucked it away in my mind and kind if forgot about it until now. I just found it again this week, so it’s playing into my new year’s goal to get my gym attendance back on track. I’m not starting from scratch, but I’ve been way out of the routine for the last 6 months or so, so it’s tine to get it back together.

    (If you’re not familiar, it attaches monetary stakes to your workouts and food tracking, so if you don’t meet your weekly goal, you pay a fine, which you set as an amount motivating to you. If you do meet your goal, you get paid a small amount of money, which comes from the pot of everyone who paid in that week.)

    My other new year’s resolution us to actually track my mileage and home business expenses as I go this year, instead of scrambling to get it all done before taxes, so I’m using an app called Taxbot to track all of that.

    Anyone else using specific apps/technology to help motivate and organize you this year?

    1. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I’ve been using My Fitness Pal (with Map My Fitness synced) to track my meals and exercise for my goal of losing 70 pounds this year.
      Also, after reading some AAM readers’ comments from an open thread a few weeks ago, I’m trying to get a good system going with Evernote to organize my home and work to-do lists all in the same place.

      1. Al Lo*

        I was really, really good about tracking my food with MFP for a while, but it also fell off the radar. I’ve set up a food tracking pact, too, so I’m monetarily on the hook to get back on track with tracking, at least 4 days/week for now.

    2. INTP*

      I use HabitRPG to keep myself accountable for workouts and other habits (like cleaning). You don’t lose real money, but do lose points of various kinds if you don’t check off what you’re supposed to do.

  3. Sail On, Sailor*

    Not an earthshaking question, but:

    Because of shoulder and neck issues partially caused by carrying a shoulder purse, I’m thinking about switching to a knapsack-style bag. However, having my wallet, phone, etc. on my back instead of in front of me where I can monitor them makes me very uneasy. I worry about someone coming up behind me, slashing the bag, and grabbing stuff.

    Does anyone on here use a knapsack? If so, how do you deal with the possible theft issue? Thanks!

    1. Ruth*

      Hi, I use a backpack so much that people have even commented on the fact I won’t go anywhere without it… anyway, in answer to the theft question…

      I usually keep my phone and wallet actually in my pocket. Both my winter coat and lighter reflective jacket (I cycle everywhere so always have that on me) have zip pockets which I keep that type of stuff in.

      If I keep it in the bag, I don’t put it in the super front section, but in the internal pocket in the main section. Most bags have some sort of more private area like that (it’s a bit less convenient for getting stuff out but it’s not that annoying once you’re used to it). I don’t think it’s that hard to find a type of backpack that would be fairly hard to slash or steal from with ease. Just have a look at the type of bag you’re buying and see if it has internal pockets etc.

      I really don’t think people are more likely to steal from me cause I use a backpack. (when I ride on the underground etc, I take it off my back and hold it).

      1. the gold digger*

        Someone stole my prescription glasses from my backpack when I was getting off a bus in Honduras. As it was happening, someone whispered to me, “They are robbing you,” but I was a little distracted because it was super crowded.

        When I discovered what had happened and got mad about it to the cab driver, he shrugged and said, “Well, Christmas is coming, you know.”

        The loss of my glasses plus my stupid decision to believe the shoe salesman in Mexico City that the shoes would stretch (mine had fallen apart by Guatemala and I was tired of tying them to my feet with string) led me to cutting my Latin America travels short. How much good does it to do to be in one of the great anthropological museums and not be able to see while you hobble painfully?

        1. Jazzy Red*

          You have the most interesting things happen to you. Not always good, but certainly not dull and boring.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I guess I’m not; nothing ever happens to me. Good or bad!!

              I always tell people I’m the best person to stand next to in a tornado. Because it won’t come anywhere near me. :)

    2. Calacademic*

      I wear a backpack every day. Wearing a backpack with both straps over your shoulders will make it less likely than with a purse that someone will grab the whole thing and run. I would second the recommendation to keep valuables in less accessible pockets or on your person. And remember, if a baddie wants it, they’ll get it (a coworker got mugged on the way home recently which really brought this home for me).

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      I carry a backpack to work every day. I’m a teacher, so inevitably I end up hauling papers etc around with me, and I need a bag big enough to fit them in that can get comfortably carried on the bus.

      It’s never really occurred to me to worry about what you describe. I keep my purse (wallet), keys etc. in a soft fabric messenger bag inside the backpack so I can easily get all that stuff out at once when I get to work. I’ve never been concerned that it was less secure than carrying a shoulder bag.

    4. TL -*

      I use a little backpack for a purse and a normal sized backpack for workdays. I keep my phone/wallet, er, pretty much wherever is most convenient – in my side pockets of my normal sized backpack during the summer, in my jacket pockets during the winter, and in the main compartment of my little sized backpack when I’m wearing it. I’ve done this for years, living in various cities, and never have a problem.

      The only time I worry is when I’ m in a huge crowd (concerts, for example), and then I generally just have my credit card/ID/cash stashed away, rather than a full wallet.

    5. Finny*

      I wear a backpack all the time, as I have a tendency to put stuff down and forget about it if it’s not firmly attached to me. However, my wallet, keys, medications, and other important stuff goes in a fanny pack rather than the backpack, so that I still have that stuff with me even if I don’t have the backpack.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      I wear a backpack quite a bit when I’m going to work and I have the same concern. I’m not sure it’s any easier for someone to slash your bag on your back rather than at your side, but it does feel less secure having everything behind you. I tend not to worry about pick pockets unless I’m on a very crowded train/bus, in which case I’ll take it off anyway and hold it by my feet. I keep my wallet in an outside pocket with a zipper (and I don’t keep anything else in that pocket so that nothing will fall out accidentally when I grab my wallet, and my wallet won’t fall out accidentally) and I keep my phone in a separate partition of a different zippered pocket.

      Not sure if this would help since you have neck/shoulder issues – but have you considered using a more substantial messenger bag (such as Timbuk2 brand)? They have a very wide strap and especially if you put the bag behind you the weigh is distributed across your shoulder and your chest. (You may have already tried this or know that it won’t work for you, if so feel free to ignore).

    7. Bea W*

      I’ve been using a backpack for years, and prefer it because of the back and neck issues. A lot of people in my area use backpacks while commuting to work. I actually feel my things are more secure than when I had a purse, having had my purse so easily pick-pocketed in a crowd years ago, despite it being right in front of me. Thieves have ways of distracting you just long enough. Don’t assume having your bag on front of you will prevent being mugged or pick-pocketed. I don’t keep my wallet in the front most pocket, but inside one of the main compartments. Some bags have inner compartments you can use to keep stuff secure. If you are wearing it on your back properly and not slung over one shoulder, it’s not going to be slashed off like a purse.

      I carry my work laptop home, so having a backpack instead of having to carry a purse and a laptop bag is so much easier. It’s also easier on my neck!

    8. Lore*

      My issues with backpacks are more accessibility for *me* than for criminals–my average commute to work requires at least one putting away of keys, one taking out and returning wallet (to enter subway), one taking out and returning book/magazine/iPad, possibly also accessing phone once or twice. How do you navigate all that when everything’s behind you? Every time I use a backpack I end up also bringing a purse just to get at stuff…

      1. TL -*

        When I’m on the subway, the backpack is generally in front of me, either between my feet or on my lap (or if it’s really empty, on the seat next to me.)

        Phone’s pretty much always in my hand via transit, and everything else takes maybe 20-30 seconds to pack up/get out. You get a system down, especially if you have multiple compartments.

      2. river*

        I carry my travel card and phone in my pockets, and put my keys away as soon as I lock the front door in the morning, before I put the backpack on. If I’m getting my Kindle or iPad out while commuting, I’ll be sitting down with the backpack off and at my feet anyway. So I don’t ever need to access stuff that’s in the backpack while it’s actually on my back.

      1. Editor*

        Travelsmith sells purses and things with anti-slash protection.

        Levenger had a purse insert/organizer for stuff that can go in a large main compartment; I got it last fall. It isn’t small enough for medium-sized purses, but now that I carry three pairs of glasses, I can’t use many smaller purses.

        Both these companies are on the web — just add dot com.

    9. matcha123*

      I use a backpack when commuting (biking) to work and a shoulder bag for off times.

      I have a bell on the zipper and I generally check over my shoulder while walking, just in case. When I’m on public transportation, I pull it in front of me while sitting and until I get off. This is especially true when it’s crowded and I have to stand squished between people.

      For the shoulder issues, being very aware of how long you are carrying the bag on one side has helped me a lot. I try to switch sides every 15 minutes or so.

    10. Alexandrina*

      I use a timbuk2 messenger bag. Wallet pocket is “Napoleon style” and near impossible to get into with out angling the bag just right, so i wouldn’t worry about wallet theft. They sell phone holders that go on strap, if you need a place.
      Oh, and i use messenger bag specifically because of an old injury making purses impossible. I keep weight off bad shoulder, and can access wallet by swinging bag around.
      They do have some very professional bags, good fabric and no Velcro, if you’re worried about appearance.

    11. Celeste*

      I’ve become intrigued by travel vests with inner pockets for all of these reasons. It just seems so clever as long as it’s not 90 degrees out.

    12. Celeste*

      Also have a look at the Tom Bihn specialty bag site. They have a system for securing things in the bags via an O ring. I’m pretty interested in their knitting bag.

    13. Hlyssande*

      I’m a huge fan of a cross-body purse with a long strap. They’re not really in fashion right now but you can score some good finds at thrift and consignment stores. My favorite is a shiny gold thing that’s as big as any over the shoulder purse I’ve ever carried. And it’s shiny.

      I hate having to carry purses on my shoulder. They’re always falling down and hitting something or my shoulder and neck hurt. Cross-body purses are a good solution to that, and you can keep them in front of you easily when in public transport and the like.

    14. Revanche*

      I go with a good cross body bag and switch shoulders regularly. It has the flexibility of being easy to push to the side when you don’t want it in your way and to pull up front when you want to keep an eye on it (on transit, etc).

  4. BRR*

    Anybody have a solution to a sinking couch? The couch is in pretty good condition just the springs in the middle are getting worn down. I tried rotating cushions but that doesn’t help much. I’m also trying to vary where I sit. I think it’s when I lie down on the couch the bulk of my weight is there in the middle. The as seen on tv product as mediocre review.

    Also a huge thank you to whoever posted the garlic confit recipe. I made the best mashed potatoes of my life this week.

    1. just laura*

      I think you can firm it up with a piece of plywood underneath the cushion. It worked wonders for my too-soft mattress. Anyone ever try that?

    2. MissDisplaced*

      There is actually a “sagging sofa” cushion support and something called “Bed Boards” that you can find on Amazon for about $20 to $25. Not sure if they work better than plain old plywood though, but you can check the reviews.

      Sofa Saver Boards
      Furniture Fix

  5. Ruth*

    To anyone willing to give advice on a personal situation:

    Hi, does anyone know a good way to kind of say that you’re not struggling financially and don’t want help, but also you’re not coming on a trip due to financial reasons – in the same breath? :D

    Situation: I’m in a squeezebox orchestra (we play accordions, melodeons, concertinas, etc. Go figure). And each year we take a trip together usually over a long weekend. The cost it outside of what I want to budget and this is the reason I don’t want to go.

    PROBLEM: If they know this, they will want to help me / subsidize the cost. I feel like I can’t accept this, especially because it’s not that I CAN’T afford it (I could if I super wanted to), it’s just more than I’m willing to spend. In short: I’m able, but unwilling to spend that money.

    Add some context: I’m 26, and most of the people in this group are in the 45-65 age range. Many have kids my age. Put that with the fact I’ve known most of them since I was 16 and some longer (one woman was my piano teacher when I was a kid). I know them very well and personally (often see them multiple times a week at various folk sessions etc). These people also have a history of trying to help me with stuff in a way that comes from a nice place in their hearts, but is sometimes uncomfortable for me.

    Also, because I am young and have done a lot of retail work etc they assume I am financially struggling. I actually have a full time admin-y job now (ps. I really like my job) and though it’s a basic salary, I don’t struggle.

    I don’t know how to say “I’m not coming because it’s outside my price range” and also “I’m not financially struggling, please don’t help me with money” at the same time…

    I’ve considered making up a different excuse (ie. being unavailable) but 1. I hate lying and 2. considering how involved in various aspects of my social life these people are, they’d probably easily find out if I was not actually otherwise engaged that weekend.

    1. TL -*

      I think just saying “Oh, I’ve already booked a vacation for X time, so it’s not in the budget” or mentioning another non-basic purchase, like an new instrument or fancy phone or whatever it is you spend your free money on, and saying that took up your extra money for this budget period.

      That way they know you’re not struggling (hey, you got that fancy extra!) but also that you don’t have the money for THIS fancy extra.

    2. BRR*

      I’m curious as to why you wouldn’t accept their help?

      Also it’s kind of lying to say you can’t afford it. I would just say it’s out of your price range then when they offer say you don’t feel right accepting their help. You could mention that now that you’re an adult with a full-time job it doesn’t feel right to accept money from others.

      1. Ruth*

        BRR, I wouldn’t accept the help for 2 reasons:
        1. pride (hehe, but basically, yeah)
        and 2. as you note, it would be lying to say I can’t afford it. I feel it’s taking advantage to accept financial help when I’m simply unwilling [not unable] to spend the money.

        Thank you for the advice :)

        1. TL -*

          I’d feel the same way as you – I’ve had people offer to pay for something I’m choosing not to afford, rather than can’t afford, and it makes me really uncomfortable.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            Plus then if you end up spending money on your own trip, you’ll be sensing the side-eye from people who subsidized this one.

        2. BRR*

          I totally get it, I’m also uncomfortable accepting handouts. Another phrase might be “I don’t feel comfortable accepting the help but I hope everybody has a great time.” You could end it with it with can you send me a post card or can you bring me back *something city is known for*. You could also say you’re uncomfortable accepting the help and if lets say they’re going to chicago say enjoy a slice of deep dish pizza for me.

    3. Finny*

      No suggestions on the dilemma, but a question. How would one go about getting a concertina and learning to play it? I’ve wanted to do so since childhood, as I love the sound, but I’ve never had the financial ability to do so before, and now I’m not quite sure where to go or what to do.

      1. Ruth*

        I actually play a melodeon so can’t give concertina-specific advice but… ESPECIALLY if you plan to buy an old/used concertina, take someone with you who knows about it. Also look up types of concertina (I think it’s English, Anglo or Duet.).

        I would say the concertina is possibly the most complicated of squeezeboxes to learn to play. If you’re already musical then you’ve got a good starting point. If it’s your first instrument I might tend to recommend against it – progress is likely to be slower than if you picked something easier (eg. piano accordion – or something like a whistle/keyboard. I actually started as a fiddle player) and if you’re someone who’s likely to get frustrated easily then it might not be a good starter instrument.

        The best thing is to try and find other people who play the sort of music you want to play. They don’t need to be necessarily concertina players (though that helps). If you find musical people, they’ll be able to give you the type of tips and encouragement you need to work a lot of it out (it’s unlikely to find formal teaching for squeezeboxy type music).

        And when it comes to reading the dots (sheet music), people get split on the issue, but I think it’s valuable to learn if you have the patience, though not strictly necessary if you don’t want to.

        1. Finny*

          I already play acoustic guitar, though I don’t know if that helps. I’m looking to play folk music, as that is my favourite. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone in real life who knows anything about such stuff.

          Thanks a ton for the advice, though!

          1. Ruth (UK)*

            Guitar absolutely counts as a first instrument (unless you’re one of those people who learned three chords, stopped there and says they play guitar which I assume you are not).

            I think instrument playing is similar to language learning in that way. Even if its not a directly related instrument, it’s easier to learn the second than the first. Obv if they’re close it’s even easier (ie violin to mandolin is very easy but clarinet might not be as helpful if you plan to play cello… Bit still better than nothing)

            If you look around I’m sure there are folk sessions somewhere near to you, unless you really are the middle of nowhere. Dunno about usa but here, its not uncommon to find people who hold sessions in pubs. Often they’re informal and anyone can show up and join in though they assume you will just pick up their tunes.

            Another reason to find other people playing the music you like is this: If you are just playing alone and don’t know anyone else you could play with, it is likely you will become demotivated. It’s not fun to dedicate time to practice just so you can play by yourself.

            I imagine if you look it up you will find people near you though i could be biased as it seems fairly popular in the UK (esp as its a morrisy instrument). Good luck

            1. Stephanie*

              Another reason to find other people playing the music you like is this: If you are just playing alone and don’t know anyone else you could play with, it is likely you will become demotivated. It’s not fun to dedicate time to practice just so you can play by yourself.

              Yeah, I think that’s why my cello playing has lapsed. I was able to play in a couple of ensembles in college, but never found one (that worked with my schedule) after I graduated. It wasn’t that fun to play solo (and I had roommates who may have not appreciated the playing). Plus, it was a little bleak to realize how much my playing had lapsed (“Yeah…I was able to play this Haydn better at 16.”)

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      “It’s not in the budget right now” is a perfectly acceptable thing to say. If/when they offer to subsidize, say “no thank you” profusely and just tell them you’d rather go out when they’re back so you can hear all about it, or ask them to bring you back a t-shirt. They seem like lovely people, and truly lovely people will offer once, maybe twice (“are you sure?”) and then will stop pushing. Don’t lie to them– you don’t have to. Really. There’s nothing wrong with planning your spending the way you want to, and there’s nothing wrong with not wanting to be beholden to people, however generous they are.

      I know you’re uncomfortable with their generosity, and I think that’s a good place to start– you don’t want to take advantage of anyone. But most generous people offer freely, so there’s no need to be uncomfortable. Just say no, and thank them for their kindness.

      If they’re pushy and given to guilt trips, that’s a different story. But if they’re generally kind and respectful and they like you, they’ll get it.

    5. MissDisplaced*

      I think you should just thank them for inviting you, but say something like you need to stick to a strict budget and you’ve already allocated your vacation/trip/travel money for other things this year.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Is this going to be a recurring thing? Let’s say this trip costs $500. Can you just say, “I won’t be doing trips that are $500 or more because I feel it’s just too much money?”

      I’d be willing to bet there are others in the group that feel the same way. It could be that the group needs to set a limit for the costs of their trips.
      In a parallel example, I belonged to a group that was constantly meeting and constantly having munchies and beverages. As a core group member I was expected to chip in. This is not doable for me. AND, I sincerely believe that core group members should not be asked to bankroll this all the time. Also, I questioned the fact that we had to have something for people to eat every time we met.
      In short, I think that you are raising a point that the group needs to consider- setting limits on the costs of trips.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        (side note: I’m still the same Ruth as above, I just changed my name because for some reason I decided it’s vastly important that I’m in the UK).

        I didn’t mention this but actually this trip will cost more than normal and I have always gone on past trips. The reason is that we normally hire a minibus and stay in a hostel / cheap hotel somewhere up north or whatever (north in the vastly important UK). Splitting a minibus hire and hostel (or sometimes even village hall style ‘camping’) works out very cheap.

        However, this year they wanted to go further away and for longer. It was discussed as a group whether people wanted to try that this year on the understanding it’d cost more. I would anticipate that this is a one-off year and in future we’d go back to the old plan (as it was discussed as being a ‘one-off’).

        So hopefully this is a one-time issue.

        (also, on other trips they have tried to offer me help by subsidizing [unprompted by anything]. Each time I have declined saying it’s fine and I can afford it on my own. This time differs because I’ll be saying please don’t, but also I’m not coming [cause of finance]).

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, I think just go with this is way more financial involvement than you want, like me with my endless pies and cakes. I did not sign up to spend money on endless pies and cakes. I don’t want to spend my money that way. Set a limit on what you are willing to spend per trip (and the number of trips per year) and encourage the group to think in the same manner. This just makes good financial sense – and it applies to any one of any age to know what things are worth to them. I see an opportunity to encourage the group to think in a similar manner and to encourage them that they plan trips that will give them most enjoyment for the money spent. This takes your question and gives it a big picture focus that could benefit the group.
          I’d like encourage you to speak up because there are probably others who feel similarly but won’t say it out loud.

    7. Lori C*

      How about saying “No thank you, I won’t be going on the trip this year.” And of course these “helpful” people will ask why. You change the subject. No one is obligated to give a reason or an excuse for turning down an invitation. Just keep saying, no, I am not going this year and change the subject. And you might want to pull back on what you disclose to these people if they are all up in your private business enough to make you uncomfortable.

      Surely you are not the only one not going? Good luck!

      1. Zillah*

        Yes, this. YMMV, but I don’t think it’s essential to be 100% honest with people all the time. I dislike lying, but I don’t see anything wrong with not elaborating.

        If you want to be really honest, though, you could say that you’ve decided that trips outside of a certain price range aren’t in your budget. If they offer to help you, respond with “That’s very kind, but one of my new year’s resolutions is to live follow a strict budget. I don’t feel right taking your money because I probably could afford it this once, but I really don’t want to fall into bad habits.” Or something like that.

        1. Chriama*

          I really like this answer. You don’t even have to tie it to New Years’, just state that you’re working on being more fiscally responsible so you don’t want to spend outside of a certain price range, and while their offer is appreciated you don’t want to contradict your efforts by inflating your budget with money that you don’t really have.

    8. SherryD*

      Totally agree with Lori C and AvonLady Barksdale. “It’s not in the budget” is a fine thing to say. It’s not about how poor or wealthy you are — it’s about having a financial plan and sticking to it. Alternatively, “I won’t be going this year” is a fine thing to say, too. As friendly as you feel toward these people, you don’t owe them an explanation, and certainly not an inside peak at your finances.

    9. soitgoes*

      Give them a reason that has nothing to do with finances, like family issues or something else that can’t be rescheduled.

    10. Weasel007*

      I really think the best choice is to say “I’m sorry, but I already have a previous commitment that time. Have fun and post pictures!” You don’t have to say what that committment is. Reality is that your committment is to yourself, your time and your budget.

    11. Ruth (UK)*

      Hi, thanks to everyone who offered advice on this. I think I do have a tendency to overthink things and over-worry about this kind of thing.

      The advice was helpful and all had a similar theme I think which was to say I cant go and why, decline the help, and not over elaborate on it. I think a problem i have is to get bogged down in elaborating in explanations of things as I’m terrified of being misunderstood and.. Etc. issues around that.

      I guess i will see how it goes. I just tend to panic over conversations that I anticipate to be awkward :D. Thanks again

    12. FatBigot*

      If you will forgive me for the ageist assumption that you do not own your own flat or house: In the UK you can simply say that that amount of spare money is going into your fund for a deposit on a flat. If you make exceptions for every cool trip that comes up, then you will never accumulate enough cash. Even if you do not have a separate account for this, it is likely to be the simple truth.

    13. Revanche*

      I’d agree with not lying since it’s squicky and telling them the truth that you’ve budgeted for other things this year and when they offer, tell them you truly appreciate the kindness but you don’t feel comfortable accepting it because it’s a conscious choice you’re making to prioritize the other needs of your budget and it would feel like taking advantage of their generosity. I’d think they should understand that if you’re both earnest and firm about it.

      I had the same situation with a friend or two in the past who knew I’d always been squeezed for money due to supporting my family but I’ve finally gotten to the point where I can pick and choose a few luxuries. One friend will never take no for answer (she actually threatened to pitch a fit publicly if I didn’t accept because “I’m old and you have to let me do what I want!” just because she really felt strongly about gifting something but she IS older and so I defer) and others will nod and understand.

    14. Student*

      You only bring up budgeting if you want the rest of the group to scale down to what you can afford. Which is a perfectly valid discussion to have, if you want to.

      Otherwise, either don’t give any excuse, or make up a non-financial white lie. This is exactly what white lies are for.

      The third option is complaining about cost and then letting them subsidize you for it. You’ve already taken that off the table, though.

      Last option, tell them the full financial thing. Then when they offer to subsidize you, turn them down. Like an adult. “That’s a very generous offer, but I really can’t accept that kind of charity from you. I’m doing just fine, but I want to save up for other reasons, so I’m not going to go this year.” Keep repeating no as needed, with less polite fluff each time, until they respect your boundaries.

  6. Prim*

    How do I tell my parents-in-law to STOP leaving flowers at their son’s grave (my husband of 25 years; he committed suicide 8 months ago)? It annoys the bejesus out of me, because when I visit the flowers are lying there dead. Whilst you may or may not agree with me, I paid to bury him, I’m paying for the headstone and I’m the one always throwing their dead flowers in the bin. I understand it’s hard for them also, but dead flowers on his grave when my kids and I visit drives me and kids to distraction :/

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I don’t know how you would without offending them…obviously it is important to them that they do it (or it seems as if it’s important)

      What about a plant? My mum has a plant on her grave. That way they could tend to it but it keeps on living instead of dead bunches of flowers.

      I’m very sorry for your and your family’s loss.

    2. Elizabeth*

      I’m sorry for your loss. It must be so hard, and then to deal with this, too. What are the cemetery’s rules? If you’re not supposed to leave anything, maybe you could gently let them know that. If you’re allowed to plant a live plant or have vases, maybe they could do that, or leave artificial flowers in a vase (then they could be the ones to change the flowers at each visit)?

    3. Gingerbread*

      Maybe you could suggest they leave small stones instead of flowers. My grandma used to do that because she said they lasted longer than flowers.

    4. Alternative*

      Oh wow, that is so tough, and I am so sorry for your loss. I think it depends on how close you are to them and how receptive you think they might be to hearing that it’s hard for you to come across the dead flowers. Or, can you change the timing or your or their visits so you don’t see this? Does the cemetery go around and pick up dead/discarded items?

    5. just laura*

      My sincere condolences. Could you ask them to help with cleanup? They may assume the cemetery does it. You could perhaps ask them to swing by a few days after leaving flowers. That way they can still honor their son but also clean up after themselves.

      I also love the idea above about the plant.

    6. TL -*

      You can also talk to the cemetery and see if they do clean-up/offer clean-up, and plan your visits accordingly. It might be easier than talking to your in-laws; unless they’re exceptionally wonderful people, that conversation is probably going to be incredibly rough.

      I’m sorry for your loss.

    7. Bea W*

      Firstly, I am sorry for your loss. Suicides are especially awful.

      Wilted flowers on a grave on a grave…this is where I advise “Don’t sweat the small stuff”. Is it really so awful that you can’t stand to brush it off when it happens? You’re hurting. You’re children are hurting, and his *parents* are hurting as well. Everyone is hurting. Please consider allowing other people who are grieving as well to do what they need to do. I really doubt your in-laws are deliberately being annoying or hurtful. They are wrapped up in their own grief, same as your family. Talk to them and try to come to a mutual understanding. Maybe it’s that they clean up or refresh the flowers they leave. Maybe that’s planting something instead, so that whoever is visiting can tend to it. I really would not open up the wound by asking them to flat out stop whatever harmless rituals they like to observe when they spend time at the grave of their son. Who paid for anything is irrelevant, except maybe in the case where someone wants to make permanent alterations to a site.

      Maybe you can mentally reframe it? It has never occurred to me to be annoyed at seeing things (in any state) at a grave I’m visiting. I look at dead flowers and see the grave of a person whom someone obviously cared enough about to come visit. People don’t go leaving offerings at burial sites unless it means something to them. I do get the annoyance. I’ve been annoyed seeing people deface property to create a make-shift memorial at the site someone died. Road-side memorials secretly drive me nutty, but in the grand scheme of crappy things that happen, like losing someone you loved, my annoyance is a small thing. So I feel like no matter how irritated I am by what people do in memory of loved ones, or dead flowers looking crappy, my personal distraction and irritation is inconsequential and a small price to pay to let someone find some comfort in grief. Just because I don’t find it useful to leave offerings at a gravesite, doesn’t mean it’s not important to the people who do it. Live and let live.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I really like this take, especially the part about seeing the flowers (even when dead) as an expression that people are thinking about him and care about his memory.

      2. totallyanon*

        I could not agree more with Bea W. I cannot imagine asking people to not leave flowers on their son’s grave, or even asking them to come back and fetch dead flowers, for that matter.

      3. Puddin*

        I totally understand how this would distract or even irritate someone. Maybe its not the most gracious behavior, but I empathize if you think that this is not small stuff right now. It is worth keeping perspective, but do not beat yourself up while you are reaching for that point in the meantime.

        I like the re-framing concept a lot. Would you be able to create a ‘tradition’ of sorts of removing the flowers, maybe involve your kids. Each flower or each ‘wrapping up’ someone mentions something they are feeling right then and there, or a memory they have of your husband, or save them and put them in a flower press. This might not be up your alley, it is just a thought.

        Peace to you.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t have any good ideas on how to stop the inlaws. But I have a suggestion for you- is there something that you can put on the grave that will comfort you? I was thinking of one of those eternal lights or a statue from a nursery. Nurseries around here have all kinds of statues- religious, non-religious, animals, kids, and so on.

      I get it about the dead flowers. As others have suggested you might inquire if the bouquets are allowed. If not, that might be an easy solution for you.

      I am sorry for your loss.

    9. Jean*

      I wish you and your kids and your parents-in-law strength and comfort as you absorb your loss.
      There’s wisdom here from others: Bea W’s wise and compassionate words; TL’s brief comment that talking to your husband’s parents will probably be hard for all concerned; the folks who said that your in-laws are also grieving; and the person who mentioned the positive impulse underlying your in-laws’ actions.

      Even if they make you uncomfortable in other situations, I’d give your in-laws a pass on this. Probably they are focused on leaving live blooms on their son’s grave rather than the fact that the flowers later die. Can you focus on their positive intentions (remembering) rather than the unfortunate results (faded flowers)? If you haven’t discussed this before, it might help to share with your kids that different people mourn in different ways.

      So sorry you’re going through this. Suicide is really hard for the people left behind.

      1. Jean*

        Thank you for the additional information. The situation certainly sounds difficult. (Grief shouldn’t be a competition.) I hope it gets easier / that you find whatever peace is possible.

    10. Prim*

      Thank you for your comments and suggestions. I know this is small stuff, and I know some of my angst may well be misguided anger. However, when I *could* have had him cremated and scattered his ashes, but to not have done so because I wanted to nod to his family, to then be welcomed by dead flowers on his grave each time I visit grates. They counted their condolence cards and then wanted to know how many I had received. I hadn’t realised it was a competition as to who was hurting more. More than just the suicide has been bizarre during this journey.

      I have a number of US friends who are Jewish (I am not in the US). A lot of what I have read about Jewish tradition resonates with me (neither my husband nor I, nor our families, are Jewish). This, in particular “While flowers are a beautiful gift to the living, they mean nothing to the dead.” I wish they wouldn’t leave them.

      I shall try to sweat less.

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        I’m so sorry for your loss.

        Yes, I can understand how dealing with dead flowers is annoying. And I also believe that flowers mean nothing to the departed (flowers would mean nothing to me if I was dead.) Saying that, what about a paradigm shift? The flowers mean something to the living. They’re helping others cope with a horrible situation and honour the loss of a loved one. Can grace be extended?

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I’m widowed, too.
        I would never presume to compare my loss to yours, because every loss is unique and impacts us in a unique way. It’s not fair to compare, nor is it realistic.
        I totally get sinking so much into his life and his burial and then the inlaws just don’t “get it”. Why can’t they do this ONE thing? grrr.

        If you are not already, please look into grief counseling for you and your kids. There are also some great books out there to consider reading. There are some patterns in the way grief manifests. Not every pattern applies to everyone- when we say “patterns” we mean “tendencies”. So, yes, there is that tendency for something that seems “little” [hint: it’s not] to end up being big [ because the whole story is big and all the pieces of the story melt together in one big glob]. And there is a tendency for families to become very stressed out and annoyed with each other. Okay, in extreme cases they stop speaking to each other.
        All this stuff is fairly normal- meaning that it happens more often than we want to think about.

        What I am picking up on through everything you have said so far is that you have done X for this one, Y for that one and Z for that one over there. You need to invest in you. Please. If you don’t like the idea of learning about grief- then find something else. Go get a massage. Call an old friend and talk for hours- waste ridiculous amounts of time on the phone. Spend time with your favorite relative. Pick something of meaning to you, keep it simple, keep it doable- then get there an do it. You are giving and giving and giving. You are a good wife to your husband. Please. Take time to put something into you that will help you in some manner. It can be whatever makes sense to you and your setting.

      3. Jean (on Jan 4 at 8:45 am)*

        Prim–I meant to reply to you here, not above. Clumsy clicking–not trying to reply to myself!

      4. Rebecca*

        I just wanted to say I can understand to an extent. Everybody grieves differently and sometimes death can make people act in bizarre ways. We lost my father-in-law to suicide a little over a year ago. We’ve had some rather strange interactions with my mother-in-law, to the point where I want to remind her that she didn’t just lose her spouse, her children lost their father. It’s been trying.

        I would start by checking the cemetery’s policy about leaving things (some don’t allow it), maybe you can tell them that the cemetery said something to you about not leaving flowers and you’re just passing on the message. Or tell them how nice it would be to have a plant instead. But if asking them to not leave flowers would only lead to hurt feelings, it’s probably best just to leave it alone.

        I’m so sorry for your loss, by the way! If you haven’t already. check out a survivors of suicide support group in your area.

  7. Shell*

    I’m taking my first ever bouldering lesson on Monday after work!

    I’m super excited and a little bit scared. They have massive crash pads in the climbing gym I’m going to, but I keep thinking falls will hurt.

    Anyone bouldered before here? What was it like? Also, can I keep my glasses on?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Exciting! I love rock climbing and bouldering. You can totally do it with glasses. As long as your glasses don’t generally tend to fall off (get one of those athletic straps for them if you’re worried). I would however remove any jewelry on your hands/wrists. I only bouldered a little bit after I got engaged (we moved away from my gym), but when I did I would put my engagement ring on my necklace for safekeeping.

      As for what it’s like – if you haven’t rock climbed before it will probably be scary at first, but you’ll get used to it. Try to keep your center of gravity close to the wall. The biggest rookie mistake is to use your arms too much. Your arms are to keep your top half attached to the wall – your legs are for supporting your weight. You are not Steven Amell doing the salmon ladder (google that right now if you don’t get the reference). No matter what you do you will be really really sore the next day – but keep it up, it will get easier and you will make progress and do problems/routes you never thought you could do! Please report back on how it goes! :)

      1. Shell*

        Excellent! Yeah, I’m taking off my necklace and my watch before the lesson, but I was concerned about glasses. They won’t fall off my face, but I was worried about them for when I fall. Chances of falling on my glasses should be pretty rare, right?

        Monday is the absolute-beginner-never-tried-this-before lesson, but a week and a half after that I have a series of beginner fundamentals class queued up. The pictures looked so freaking cool and I’ve been vibrating with excitement about this for three weeks now. :D

        Will definitely report on how it goes! Hopefully I won’t be too sore to type, ha.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          I wouldn’t worry too much about falling on your face. You usually have enough of an idea about when you’re going to fall that you can get your feet down or land on your bum. And you’re much more likely to fall on your back since you’re generally facing the wall.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            If you have a pair of old glasses you could wear those just in case or until you get a feel for it.

            1. Miki*

              Fellow climber (and bouldered) here: remove all jewelry, keep your arms straight, and butt close to the wall. If your glasses are known to fall off I’d try to get that band thingy that keeps them on your head. Have fun!!! Bouldering is perfect to building strenght without realizing it, it’s so much fun, you don’t even realize how strong you get. A pain killer the night after the lesson might help with soreness the next day :)

    2. Tau*

      I’ve only been bouldering a few times – my brother is a real climbing/bouldering fan (I think he currently has a part-time job giving classes at the local climbing hall) so I’ve been when visiting him. Anyway, even from my limited experience I can +1 everything Blue_eyes said. I kept my glasses on and never worried about falling on them because you generally know when you’re in danger of falling and can control it reasonably well when it happens. Honestly, I think every time I fell I landed on my feet.

      Also, in addition, if you don’t have climbing experience you really don’t have to worry much about falling at the start because, frankly, you probably won’t manage to make it that high… :’) As far as I understand it, bouldering is basically designed as a puzzle for climbers: “given these holds, how can you get to the top?” So you have way fewer holds than for a top-rope type activity, so if you’re just starting out you probably won’t get very far at first. When I first tried bouldering, I was happy if I got three feet off the ground!

      1. Blue_eyes*

        That’s basically what bouldering is. Unlike top rope climbing, bouldering problems do not always go up – often they focus on traversing (moving sideways).

        1. Shell*

          It’s that puzzle-solving aspect that led me to choose bouldering lessons over regular indoor rock climbing (that and the bouldering gym had better reviews, and bouldering needs less equpiment…)

          I’m super excited for this. (Being lazy and replying to thread above) I can’t swap out glasses because even tiny changes in the prescription and the lenses’ focal points (which differ by frame) makes my head hurt for a few days, so I’d go either current glasses or no glasses. But it sounds like everyone thinks glasses should be just fine, so I’ll go with glasses for now!

          I’ll definitely report back next Sunday. :D Thanks so much, everyone!

  8. Mimmy*

    Calling all ladies with super-small feet!!

    So I’ve been on the hunt for casual boots to wear with boot-cut jeans. Problem is that I have really tiny feet. My size is a 5, which is small but not unusual. It’s the width that gives me grief – I haven’t had the width professionally measured lately, but it’s definitely narrow. Plus, my arch is super-high. I have a pair of ankle-high boots already, but they are a bit on the dressy side. Plus, they’re not very comfortable.

    It seems like Uggs are a huge favorite but….I’m not a fan (hides from tomato-throwing Ugg fans)

    Any recommendations for COMFORTABLE casual boots that might have something in my size? I just want something simple but fashionable.

    1. Elizabeth*

      Have you tried Land’s End? They have really nice items lately. I have long, but narrow, feet, and I’ve been happy with my purchases there. LL Bean tends to run wide. :(

    2. patty*

      I wear a 4-1/2 usually but sometimes can take a 5. Try Campers! The boots are adorable. I don’t need any boots, so can’t speak specifically to them, but I do have some of their very comfortable and adorable flats. Google Campers shoes (otherwise you will get the online stores for camping equipment!)

    3. Marmoset*

      I’m a 6.5 but super narrow and with high arches. I consistently have great shoe luck at Naturalizer – even ordering online. Some of the styles are a bit, um, functional, but they have lots of cute stuff too. Good luck!

      P.S. Uggs are the worst! :p

    4. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      Nordstrom lets you sort shoes by both narrow width and small sizes — (it’s their “extended sizes” section) and even if those boots don’t thrill you, you might get some ideas for brands to check. Planet Shoes also has a range of sizes and widths — they have a lot of “comfort” brands that are more fashionable, like Miz Mooz, Fly London, and Camper so you might try them. Sorry I can’t help with specific brands, I’m always looking for a wider toe box.

    5. CAA*

      Steve Madden has some really nice styles and they tend to run a bit narrow. Try the Rubin, which has a lace up front.

      I’ve found that DSW stores in my area usually only carry the 6 and up sizes, but a lot of their brands do have 4 to 5.5 available online; so I go to the store and try on the 6 and I can usually figure out if the smaller size will fit or not from that, then order it.

    6. LoFlo*

      Try Zappos. You can search by size and width. People regularly comment on the fit. They have free return shipping, and I think free shipping as well.

    7. Momiitz*

      I really like Aerosoles. Their shoes are very comfortable and a lot of the shoes/boots are available in a size 5. You can look online or go to one of their stores. I am lucky to have a store only 10 minutes away.

    8. asteramella*

      Check out Zappos–they have a lot of unusual sizes and the reviews for shoes tend to be very detailed so you can see whether people have endorsed a boot as having good arch support, etc.

    9. Sunflower*

      I’ve found Coach and Cole Haan(they have Nike Air in all their shoes) to sometimes go down pretty small. I just got a pair of Kenneth Coles in a 5.5 so they might offer something too?

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      I don’t know what your budget is, or what you’re looking for exactly, but Dayton Boots (local company here) makes made to measure boots. They will last forever, they outfitted the crew from the X-Files (and have a line named after that show) and only use top quality leather. They aren’t cheap though, but you get what you pay for.

    11. Revanche*

      Also check alterationsneeded.com! Kelly has pretty small feet too (4.5 to 5) and has a somewhat different style to Jean’s so you might get a bit more variety in suggestions/features there.

    12. anonimos in tejas*

      try checking out the blog extra petite. she has feet around that size and has had some luck looking for fashionable shoes in those sizes.

  9. Cruciatus*

    I wrote this huge long thing over-explaining everything (as is my way), but basically it boils down to this: is it unreasonable after you’ve played Cards Against Humanity for the first time for a relatively new (if that matters) boyfriend to tell you not to play that game with other men? And when your sister tells you this and you say “that makes me nervous” and she agrees (and she is the girlfriend), does that make it worse?

    I wrote about this before, but I’m still not feeling my sister’s boyfriend of now only 5 months. When they were maybe 3 weeks in he was upset she wasn’t saying “I love you” back already even when she explained she would say it when she meant it. He was not raised here (Moroccan) but has lived in the US for 9 years so there are surely some cultural differences at play here and my sister said he’s too religious to do any harm (I hope he still wouldn’t even if he wasn’t religious). But after this conversation about just a stupid game (well, a great game, but just a stupid game in the grand scheme of things), I’m even less excited about him (and was horrified to find out he took her ring shopping despite her not being ready, which she made clear). I feel he has been trying to rush her down the aisle (and some people the last time I wrote about this said that people from the area he’s from often seem needy and speedy by US standards). Am I being overly sensitive to this even though my sister agreed it made her nervous too (but otherwise thinks they are a good match)? It sounds like he wouldn’t physically harm her or anything, but is this a reasonable demand? I feel like you either trust my sister or you don’t. You don’t tell her what she can or can’t do (and vice versa). And maybe it’s just about a game now–what about later? Is it just a cultural thing, no big deal, or more? And how can I tell either way? Sigh.

    And just to mention–I’m not planning on interfering (unless I am witness to or told something leaving no doubt in my mind). I told her more or less how I felt and she took it well enough and that was that. I guess I just want to know if I should keep on high alert about things to do with him or if I’m a little lost in translation.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m sorry– whaaaa? Don’t play Cards Against Humanity with other men???? If you’re part of a crowd that plays CAH period, you’re up against way more offensive things than the opposite sex. And I don’t even get the objection–it’s not Spin the Bottle, for heaven’s sake. If he had said, “I really wish you wouldn’t play CAH, I think it’s so stupid,” then I’d roll my eyes at him, but I can understand that on some level.

      Sadly, you’re doing all you can do. Keep doing it. When you say, “That makes me nervous,” and your sister agrees (AGREES!), continue to explore it. Keep that conversation going. You may want to shake her and yell, “DTMFA!”, but that wouldn’t be productive.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I agree with “keep the conversation going.” Since she agreed when you cited it as a red flag, could you say something like, “Are there other things he’s said or does that have made you wary?” and/or “So what do you do with this? Just keep an eye on it and keep gathering data, while not making any commitments, or …?”

        1. Cruciatus*

          This didn’t make her wary (at least that she mentioned), but he was pretty much staying with her every night after just a week or so. This is their business, but over Christmas I asked her “Are you still basically living together?” and she said “pretty much” and then added that he likes to be the man around the house and answer the door and fix stuff. My radar pinged again because it was more like (to me)–who does he think is coming to do the door? My sister can answer her own damn door! As I said, I think they are going toooo fast. My sister kept saying “Some couples get married faster” but I don’t really think her heart was in it (especially because she had just said she wasn’t ready to get engaged). She wasn’t trying to say that was them (whirlwind romance), but that it’s OK for other couples sometimes. It was weird. The word “territorial” came up a few times in our conversation (with her in agreement). I told her directly that certain ways he acts is telling her he doesn’t trust her. I can’t even remember what other examples came up now. Alone, they were seemingly not big deals, but when you start adding things together it starts to seem like it is.

          1. brightstar*

            Has she said what’s keeping her in the relationship, beyond feeling they’re a good match? To me it seems like he keeps pushing her boundaries and she’s allowing him to, maybe out of not wanting to hurt his feelings?

            I dated a Morrocan man who had immigrated to the US after living in Paris for several years. All his family had moved from Morrocco to Paris. He wasn’t Muslim (an atheist when we began dating who later decided he was agnostic), but there were some cultural differences, in particular how women are viewed, that we both had to get past. We eventually broke up in an epic manner.

            Echoing the recommendations to tell her to keep and eye out on things and also, try not to sound judgmental when you talk about him.

    2. katamia*

      I don’t think it can hurt to pay attention to how he treats your sister in the future. Maybe not high alert, but if he seems to object to her doing other things with male friends or is otherwise making her uncomfortable, then a followup talk may be in order. Or he could just have something against that one particular game–it can get raunchy/un-PC depending on who you’re playing with, and if he’s modest by nature then he could have just expressed himself poorly.

      I’m not sure why him being religious means he can’t do any harm, though–both religious and non-religious people can turn out to be abusive or toxic. (Not saying that he is or will be, just that how religious someone is isn’t a good way to determine a person’s potential for that.)

      1. the gold digger*

        The being religious part bothers me. Unless he is the same religion as your sister, that could be a problem. I made the stupid decision to date a Moroccan guy for a while and even wasted FF miles to fly to Paris to spend a week with him there. (My husband says, “He is a millionaire! He could have bought your ticket!”) What I discovered is that he was very dismissive of anything I had to say. He thought he should make all the decisions. We went to lunch with his cousin and his aunt and his aunt, who was a very observant Muslim, would not say a word to me. (I am not Muslim.)

        There were some serious cultural differences that arose in the very short time I was involved with him. I look back on some of the things he did and am pretty disgusted with myself for ever even agreeing to see him again.

        Culture matters and Moroccan culture is not like US culture.

        1. Cruciatus*

          He is Muslim, adheres pretty strictly to the traditions. Though he didn’t freak out when my mom made this green bean dish with wine and forgot that he couldn’t have any, even if the alcohol was burned off… My family is pretty…let’s just go with nonreligious. We celebrate Christmas more for getting together with family and exchanging gifts than any other reason. I brought this up with my sister (for complications that may arise now or, say, if/when they have children) and she said the Koran says that it’s OK to be with someone outside of the religion. And I guess he said he would let the children choose their religion to which I say, “yeah, right.” But not my business.

          Another thing that mildly concerns me is he has no family here and he only really hangs out with guys who are also from Morocco (which is fine though it doesn’t help with assimilation). This isn’t a fault on purpose, but I don’t really know why he moved here except he wanted to. But I also worry that now my sister is his main form of support here. And I think that could seem flattering at first. They are going on a trip soon and I’m hoping (yes, I admit it) it may test the relationship a little…the stresses of travel, etc.. If not, I will perhaps send them to IKEA.

          1. TheSockMonkey*

            Having been in your sister’s situation before, (briefly dating a Muslim guy from Africa who exhibited all of the traits you are mentioning), I need to comment.

            Muslims are allowed to date and marry people who are Jewish or Christian, and they are supposed to raise their kids Muslim. This guy may not follow that, but I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the future, he wants her to be more religious or if he has similar demands, especially if his “peer group”is other Moroccan Muslims.

            Also, stay in touch with your sister, be there for her even if you don’t agree with her choices, so that when she wants to get out, she has somewhere to go. Also, remain outwardly friendly with the boyfriend in case he is really abusive and controlling and, in the future, limits her contact with people he doesn’t like.

            Ultimately, you can’t say anything to make your sister leave, but you can help her work through her thoughts in a nonjudgemental way.

              1. Stephanie*

                Right?! I think the only thing H. Jon Benjamin has in common with Archer physically is blue eyes.

    3. BRR*

      That’s ridiculous. There are certain things your significant other is not allowed to tell you what to do. If bf doesn’t change this would be a deal breaker. I was with a friend visiting from out of town and she picked up a nutella snack pack and said, “I’m going to get this because Wakeen doesn’t allow me to eat this.” Dealbreaker.

      I don’t remember your original post but do they have anything in common or does your sister just want a bf? Also you make reference twice to violence and that he wouldn’t do anything, but is this something you’re concerned about? Because then it is a difference conversation.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I will say I’ve never seen him remotely upset about anything–though I’ve only spent limited amounts of time with him with my entire family around. But I have seen nothing to suggest he would bring harm to my sister (or anyone). My sister seems to think this as well (as she mentioned when I asked her directly what he would do if she does something he doesn’t like–the answer was he pouts and is silent). If all of these details I mentioned were from a born and raised American guy I would be even more leery. I think this is why I didn’t know if I was being too insensitive to cultural differences. It’s probably more OK in his culture to tell a woman what to do so does that make him a horrible guy when he isn’t the same as the American standard I’m used to? But on the other hand, I think, he’s in the US now, dating an American… So I just don’t know.

        1. Natalie*

          For whatever it’s worth, he doesn’t need to be violent to be a shitty, controlling boyfriend or even to be abusive. I don’t know if he is or isn’t, but don’t ignore your own misgivings just because he’s not violent.

          I sympathize. My best friend is in a relationship I think is unhealthy and controlling, and could potentially become abusive. It sucks, no way around that. Unfortunately, as far as I can tell most of what you can do is stay in your sister’s life, whatever that takes, so you can help her whenever she decides she’s done. That may mean swallowing your tongue sometimes. :(

          1. Fish Microwaver*

            A grown man who pouts and goes silent when displeased is a shitty controlling passive-aggressive boyfriend.

        2. Alter_ego*

          The silent treatment can absolutely be emotional abuse, as can all of the controlling behavior you’ve described here. And pushing for a relationship to move very quickly is also a pretty big red flag of an abuser. You don’t have to be physically violent to be an abuser.

    4. Alternative*

      That is a ridiculous request for him to make of your sister, and I think you are totally right to be suspicious about him. Rushing the relationship and being needy are classic controlling behaviors, and he seems to have rigid gender ideas to boot. Hope your sister wakes up and can get out of this one. Good luck.

    5. TL -*

      That’s a huge red flag! Controlling someone’s time or behavior and restricting access to friends are definitely warning signs.

      (And, um, a good piece of advice I’ve heard is if you ever need to qualify a statement by “They won’t commit physical violence,” you should probably really closely examine why you feel the need to state that, instead of letting it be the underlying assumption it normally is.)

      Also, rushing things hardcore after she’s specifically said she doesn’t want to – huge red flag. Even if there are cultural differences, he’s not respecting her boundaries at all, even though she’s clearly stated them.

      Definitely on the lines of DTMFA, but AvonLady is right – all you can do is say things like, “That makes me nervous,” “Wow, that’s really not okay,” and, “It doesn’t sound like he’s listening to you.” Best of luck.

    6. knitchic79*

      Wow, that sounds like an ex of mine. And it is why he is an ex. To tell her what she can or can’t do with other men especially when it’s a card game is worrisome enough. But adding that he took her out ring shopping when she’s not ready and the whole I love you bit…that puts my radar up. Maybe not high alert but I’d keep an eye open for anything even more concerning.

    7. The Bookworm*

      It has been a while since I’ve read The Gift of Fear (by DeBecker) and Dangerous Instincts (by O’Toole).
      They may not be entirely applicable to your sister’s situation. But reading them may help clarify why your gut is telling you something is wrong.

      IMO – regardless of whether it is a cultural issue or not, the boyfriend is overstepping boundaries and that is a HUGH red flag.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Gavin de Becker’s website also has a link to an online assessment of a partner’s likelihood of becoming violent.

        It has 48 questions, but here’s one that stood out to me for your sister:

        8.   At what pace did the relationship with Offender develop? Did either person try to push the relationship at an unnatural or uncomfortable pace?

        This question seeks information about the early history of the relationship as it developed.

         a. One-sided whirlwind

        Offender pushed the relationship along at an unnatural speed and was the force behind the whirlwind pace. Victim was uncomfortable at times. Such things as living together, getting married, and having children were prematurely placed on the agenda.


    8. Bea W*

      RED FLAG! Seriously? Don’t play a card game with other men? Really? In a newish relationship? What? Upset she wasn’t saying ILU after 3 weeks? You’re sister should run for the hills while the road is still open! It may very well be just “cultural differences”, and that this is how relationships work back in his homeland dating Moroccan women (I have no idea), but he’s in the US dating an American woman. It’s a different ball field. This is not a reasonable demand in American dating.

      1. Student*

        This is also way, way not a normal card game. I hope all the commenters here understand what this game is before judging this guy too harshly. I think him asking her not to play this with other men is a huge mistake on his part, but I can understand why he’d try it.

        This game is about sexual jokes, plus racism, plus stereotyping. But you make those jokes about all the other players, and other players make those jokes about you. So it’s loaded with socially-charged topics and it’s very personal. It’s not a game of bridge or go-fish. I saw it at a social gathering with co-workers, and I had a very hard time keeping my mouth shut about it. They were playing with children, though, which was what I found most objectionable. There’s nothing appropriate about stranger adults commenting on a co-worker’s children’s, ahem, personal bits. To the child in question.

    9. Apollo Warbucks*

      For a number of personal reasons this type of control or coercion makes me feel extremely uneasy, it’s encouraging that your sister was receptive to listening to your concerns. Perhaps your sister could have a conversation with her boyfriend and set out the terms for the relationship and let him know that whilst he can express his opinion he can’t make demands that she behaves a certain way. If I were you I’d be keeping an eye out for any other signs that your sister is in trouble, but the best advice I can give is just be there for her and listen, try to remain calm and rational when you’re talking about her boyfriend, don’t let it become a source of tension between you.

      I’m not saying your sister situation will be anything like this but, my friend married a complete ass hole who treated her badly, so many of our friends told her he was bad news and all that did was drive a wedge between them, I had my say but tried to be as sensitive as possible.

      I know at the time she never told anyone how bad she had it, this might well be a leap or seriously flawed thinking as well as an oversimplification of a very difficult situation, but I often wonder if she stayed so long because she was worried about people saying I told you so, or had something to prove.

      1. Marmoset*

        It is definitely a good sign that your sister is open to talking with you about her concerns or doubts. Your description of her SO makes me wary and I think you are more than right to have your hackles up about this.

        Two things:

        – Seconding Apollo’s point, in my experience warning somebody about their significant other or telling them it won’t work etc, never works no matter how obviously right you are. Not saying this is what you’re doing! Just that, even if the situation does get worse, the best thing to do is stay on your sister’s side, make sure she knows that you always have her back, are there to support her, and most importantly that you trust her and believe whatever she tells you.

        – I have a sort of similar thing going on with someone I am close to, and my main strategy is to ask a lot of open-ended questions, and then listen as much as possible. The idea is to get the person thinking about their own wants and needs in a relationship, and taking those seriously. Examples I’ve used – note these are asked in a casual, friendly tone in the context of chatting about the relationship, not out of the blue or in any way accusatory: “Tell me about how you feel when you are with so-and-so.” “What qualities are most important to you in a partner?” “What do you see when you think about your future together?” “What hopes do you have for how your relationship will grow over time?” “What’s similar or different between this relationship and what you thought you would want growing up?”

        I try to intersperse these with little anecdotes about my own relationships (times that I had doubts, ways that things turned out differently than I expected, ways that I changed depending on the person I was with…) to make it clear that we’re Sharing Our Life Experiences and not Questioning Your Thing With This Dude. I also say “mmm” and “uh-huh” a lot, and try to leave more silence than I am comfortable with, in case the person starts taking again.

        Anyway that’s my 2 cents on supporting people in questionable relationships. Kind of wish I didn’t have so much practice at it, but there you go.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      ugh. I remember you talking about this earlier. She is still with him? oh my. All I can think of is to show her how to find out online what the patterns are for abusers. Sites will give you a list of behaviors. Have her read it, so she knows these are the behaviors not to accept.

      Take what you have and string it together, “You know, Sis, you are telling me he gets mad when you don’t say ILY to him, and now he has rules like you can’t play CAH with other men, and [fill in with other things you see]. I have found this website on line that talks about relationships and when relationships cross over into the area of being abusive. I thought you should see this so you can judge for yourself.”

    11. Jean*

      (Posting without reading all of the other comments because I really have to go pick up my son)
      DING DING DING! That’s my red-alert alarm going off.
      FLIPPP! That’s the needle on my trouble meter doing a flip of 180 degrees.
      GAH! That’s me gasping for breath.
      Diplomatic translation: Stay close to your sister and stay supportive.
      Blunt communication: Tell your sister to ditch this guy immediately, permanently, whatever it takes–including changing her phone #, moving apartments, and/or getting a restraining order. This guy is T-R-O-U-B-L-E. He’s already proved himself so by steamrolling over her perfectly reasonable preferences and inclinations (like answering her own door! Who appointed him Man of Her House anyway?!).
      This guy may not be the Home Office of All Evil, but the culture gap between him and your sister makes the Grand Canyon look like the crack between the tiles on my kitchen floor. I don’t see this going anywhere good. Religion, shmeligion and culture, shmulture. It’s not a good match NOW and it won’t be any better in the future. She needs to get out ASAP.

    12. A Teacher*

      Maybe I’m the only one that will say this, but if you haven’t, read “The Gift of Fear.” Its by Gavin de Becker and is something I think most of us should read but Carolyn Hax (my favorite non-career advice columnist) recommends it and swears by it. Some of the things you are talking about are red flags that he talks about in his book.

    13. Yikes*

      I was recently in an abusive relationship with a fellow American of similar demographics. A lot of the same red flags were present at the beginning:

      – Using the word “love” within the first two weeks and getting angry when I didn’t reciprocate.

      – Odd rules about who I could and couldn’t spend time with and under what circumstances, often with weird excuses and double standards.

      The worst part is that this guy’s behavior got worse after I ended the relationship. For the next year, I was stalked and harassed by him and then friends of his.

      I can’t speak to the cultural differences, but it pays to be cautious. Sounds like you’re being a supportive sister.

    14. asteramella*

      It can be both a cultural thing AND a big deal. It kind of doesn’t matter whether he does X behavior because he’s abusive or because it’s his cultural norm if X behavior makes your sister feel belittled, constrained, pressured, and uncomfortable. I would focus less on trying to understand how much of his behavior is influenced by culture and more on how his behavior effects your sister.

      FWIW, having been in an abusive relationship, judgment of your sister as some other comments seem to suggest could be very unhelpful. Making her feel stupid will not help her leave an abusive relationship. Validating her gut feelings of uneasiness and framing her needs as important will be more helpful to her.

      1. Jean*

        Thank you for your last paragraph. I wondered whether I was speaking too harshly. (Answer: yes, and here’s now to speak more effectively.)

    15. Nervous Accountant*

      mmmm as a Muslim, all I can say is…shitty guys come from every culture/religion. I’d try to drop the focus on him being Muslim and focus on the fact that you don’t feel comfortable around him and you’re worried for your sister, and for very good reason because he sounds like an insecure controlling freak. Trust me, it won’t be racist, it won’t be culturally insensitive to feel this way.

      1. Anna*

        Exactly this. I was just thinking, “Passive aggressive shitty boyfriends can be from anywhere”.

    16. Student*

      I think that Cards Against Humanity is a unique kind of humor barometer.

      A person who actively wants to play Cards Against humanity cannot have a long-term relationship with the kind of person who would ask their SO to not play Cards Against Humanity. Either you both like that kind of game and don’t mind playing those games with other like-minded folks, or neither of you plays games like that. It’s about what you think is appropriate, inappropriate, funny, and done in public/private.

      For the record, I’m a no-CAM. I can understand why some people enjoy CAM. But I will not play it, and I wouldn’t want to date someone who enjoyed that particular brand of gaming. I am also confident that the fans of the game would be miserable with my dowdy, stick-in-the-mud personality.

  10. Carrie in Scotland*

    Gahhh…I’m full of nerves for this date tomorrow in a city about 100 miles away (meeting in the middle). I really hope it goes well – the fact that we’ve been talking on the phone (for about 2 hours) every day for the past week bodes well, I think?
    And of course, I managed to pick up a lovely new dress to wear in the sales for the occasion :)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      The talking does bode well, but in your position, I would give myself an “out”. That generally helps me keep calm anyway, but a Plan B wouldn’t hurt. Even if that Plan B is, “OK, if he’s really awful, I’ll tell him I got a text from someone with an emergency and I have to run, then I’ll go to the cinema and watch a movie until my train comes.” I find it very freeing to know I’m not stuck, I have agency, I have choices, etc.

      GOOD LUCK. Tell a friend when you’re going and when you’re expected back. Bring breath mints. Don’t get wasted. Have fun!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Oh, several of my friends know I’m going and will give me an “emergency” if needed :)
        And will definitely be keeping an eye on the drinking (and my drink itself)

    2. Gingerbread*

      I second AvonLady’s advice that you should have a plan B. Whenever I’m nervous, I always think “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” and it always helps calm me down. In this case, the worst thing that could happen is that he won’t like you or you won’t like him. That’s not so terrible! Good luck!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Good luck, Im sure that having talked loads on the phone the conversation will flow.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        It was…interesting. I am seeing him again in a few weeks anyway, just to see one way or the other.

        1. WednesdaysMisfit*

          Oh c’mon – you need to elaborate. ;) We need more information than “interesting.”

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            Ha, that would definitely be me…
            I’m a paradox of being quite confident with being incredibly shy – it took me several months to settle into my current job for this reason. And the job before that. And my previous relationship.

  11. Mela*

    So I went to Chipotle last night, and there’s a new lady in the salsa dribbling section who looks just like Alison does in her old picture here. I pulled it up for my husband to see, and he agreed. I found your (probably a little older than you) doppelganger! (I’ll ask to take her picture next time I see her to show you all.)

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ooooh! I’ve always wanted to find my doppleganger! And to discover that she has a Chipotle connection (as I adore Chipotle) is very exciting. Yes to the photo, please!

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      is it really a doppleganger or have you discovered Alison’s super secret hobby of dribbling salsa in Chipotle when she thinks no one is looking?

    3. Cath in Canada*

      I saw a really cool series of photos recently of people with their (unrelated) doppelgängers: http://www.visualnews.com/2013/11/09/portraits-unrelated-doppelgangers-found-match/

      During my undergrad years, my friends used to tell me that I had a doppelgänger on campus. “She looks just like you, it’s spooky!”, they’d all tell me. One day I was finally with some of these friends when my alleged doppelgänger walked by, and they all pointed her out. I didn’t think she looked anything like me, and commented that she looked really miserable whereas I’m generally a pretty happy person. They countered with the observation that I do in fact usually look really miserable while I’m walking around. Yay, resting bitch face!

      1. fposte*

        Oh, that is really cool–thanks for posting that. I like that most of them go way beyond the superficial hair-and-glasses resemblance to real face shape stuff. Mostly when I get confused for people it’s a height, glasses, and hair thing and if we’d had different color hair and no glasses nobody would have thought of us as alike.

      2. Anon1234*

        I have many doppelgangers, and have met two of them. One of them I first saw in pictures, and I even thought it was me for a few minutes before I realized I hadn’t known our mutual friend at that point in time. I’ve got common features, I guess.

        1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

          Oh, that’s happened to me too! I had a doppelganger in my hometown in high school, and she worked at Perkins. One time, when going in to eat, I attempted to adjust my hair in the reflection of the windows, and of course my reflection didn’t move, it was just her, inside the building, walking in kind of the same direction I was. We had really similar glasses, hair, size/shape, etc. It was weird to mistake someone else for myself!

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        A co-worker’s wife and I found, through comparing notes, that we are apparently doppelgangers. I have, on more than one occasion, been approached by someone and realized, a little into the conversation, that they think I’m her. She says she’s had three same thing happen to her. We never really thought we resembled until making that discovery, but we kind of do, superficially. I think it’s that we are both about the same size, have about the same hair color and clothing style, and we both wear glasses.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        This is weird because people tell me ALL THE TIME that I look like someone they know. I keep getting asked if I went to school/worked/lived in the weirdest places. Most of them are places I’ve never been in my life.

        I keep waiting for someone to think I’m a fugitive they saw on TV or something. When America’s Most Wanted was on, when people would say this, I would get nervous.

  12. Confused*

    For those of you that left a long term relationship, how did you know it was time to call it quits? I met my partner when I was 16. We were best friends (I always had a crush on him though) and three years later, we decided to date. We’ve been together for four years now. We’re engaged (No date set yet. I’m not ready to start planning.) and have lived together officially for three years.

    He hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s nice, caring, hasn’t cheated on me, etc etc. I just feel like we don’t have anything in common anymore. We have opposite schedules (I work mornings, he works evenings) so we don’t get to spend much time together, and when we do, our time is spent arguing. To make things worse, I don’t feel attracted to him anymore. God, I feel horrible saying that which is exactly why I’m posting this here instead of talking to a friend/family about it.

    I’m just scared. What if leaving him is the wrong decision? What if it will get better? I’m very close to his family and he’s close to mine, so that comes into play as well.

    TL;DR I love him, but am not in love with him. Is this irreversible?

    1. TL -*

      Have you put in as much effort as you feel comfortable with to work on the relationship?

      Do you want to be with someone you’re in love with, versus just loving them?

      Is being with someone more important than being with the right someone?

      Are you afraid of losing him specifically, or are you afraid of being alone?

      Finally, if you meet that a person that you do fall in love with, would you stay with your current partner or leave?

      People are in relationships for all kinds of different reasons and it’s cool to stay with someone that you love, but aren’t in love with, if that’s the kind of relationship you are happy with. (Does he feel the same way?) But if you’re with him because you don’t want to be alone, but likely to leave when something better comes along, that’s not so bueno.

      1. TL -*

        Also! It’s fine to break up with a perfectly fine, lovely person if you don’t want to be with them anymore. There doesn’t have to be a bad guy in a breakup; sometimes it just isn’t meant to be.

        1. fposte*

          Yup, absolutely. You don’t need to justify moving on. Whereas I think you need a lot more justification than inertia to keep moving toward a wedding in a situation like this. Don’t marry somebody because you don’t want to make his parents sad and drag your books out of the apartment.

          1. Natalie*

            One of the best things I read when I was in this boat was “wanting to leave is enough”. It’s a much longer Dear Sugar essay (can be found by Google) but that refrain stayed with me.

        2. BRR*

          People tend to ignore that relationships can just run their course. I remember I went on a couple of dates with this guy and I thought I like him but he’s definitely not the one. I knew if we dated we’d have fun but the relationship would eventually end.

    2. Shell*

      Are you done, or do you want to work on it? And by working on it, what do you think you want to improve?

      You said you two spend a lot of time arguing, so maybe figure out if you two aren’t communicating well in general or if the arguments are a result of other things (e.g. opposite schedules). The scheduling thing would be wearing on anyone long term; could you two make plans to end that somehow? Are there other things in your lives that you’re dissatisfied with that you two can try to figure out solutions together? And the attraction thing–is it a standalone problem, or is it possibly a result of other frustrations in your life? If standalone, it’s a huge problem; if it’s a result of others maybe there’s a chance.

      If you’re done, you’re done. But if you’re not ready to throw in the towel, maybe discuss it with him and see if you two can work out solutions. Put both of you on the same side again.

      In a relationship, I feel like each party in the relationship should be able to look at the other and say, honestly, “I’m on your side.” If you can’t say that honestly, it’s more or less over. But if you can, there might be something you two can work with if both of you want to give it a shot.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      This is a tough situation and there aren’t any easy answers. It sounds like you have outgrown this relationship. You need to be honest with your partner (and please, please don’t get married or have kids until you sort this out). The fact that you don’t seem to want to be in this relationship anymore is enough reason. I would guess that you are putting off what you know you should do (break it off) because you don’t want to hurt him (which makes sense because you still care about him). In the long term though it will be better to be honest with him now than to be married to someone you have nothing in common with and are not attracted too. And even though it will hurt him right now, it’s not fair to him to marry him instead of freeing him to find another partner who will really want to be with him.

      Sorry you’re in the middle of this. I hope you figure out what will be best for both of you. If want to hear this from someone else, check out Dan Savage’s blog and podcast (both called Savage Love). He’s dealt with tons of letters and calls just like yours.

    4. fposte*

      If you knew he felt like this about you, would you want to stay with him?

      My sense is that this has run its course and that it’s habit and uncertainty and the fact that you’ve never been outside of this relationship as an adult keeping you there. I think you deserve somebody that you’re in love with right now, not just somebody you used to love, and he deserves somebody who’s in love with him right now.

    5. Confused*

      Thank you all for your advice. Uncertainty is definitely holding me back, but mostly, I just don’t want to hurt him. I still care about him and think of him as my best friend, but I know it’s not fair for us to stay in this relationship when I don’t feel the same way for him as he does for me. Thank you again. I have a lot to think about.

      1. E.R.*

        Marriage, and serious committed relationships, are very hard at times even when two people are very much in love with each other. If you are not in love with this person and are not attracted to him, those hard times will not be worth it in the long run. Chances are that you will meet someone you are attracted to, and perhaps even fall in love with, and that will show you what you are giving up by staying. It’s such a hard thing to break off a relationship with someone as you describe, (and I know that from experience), but it may very well be the right decision. Good luck!

      2. MLT*

        I married in this situation. It lasted 7 years. I am always grateful we never had kids together.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          To add on to this: you don’t want to hurt him. But… would you rather he hurt now, or 10 years from now? Would you rather just hurt him, or him and whatever children you might manage to have by the time you are ready to call it quits? Would you rather continue to hurt yourself so that you don’t hurt him?

          I know someone who married a guy she thought was good enough. They were married for 16 years, never had kids and then she pulled the plug because she was tired of trying to make that square peg fit the round hole of just “good enough”. They both went on to remarry and are much happier with their new spouses than they were together. Just because someone looks great on paper, it’s not a guarantee of love or compatibility.

          Between the ages of 16 and 24 you go through some of the most profound changing and growing in your life. Sometimes, that brings people closer but most often it pulls them apart. How you feel is not your fault, you haven’t grown this way intentionally. What you wanted at 16 or 19 is not what you want now. If you’re feeling like this now, marriage isn’t going to magically change it. The future isn’t promised to any of us. You could just as easily marry him and he gets hit by a bus a month after the ceremony — or you could. You could call it off now and meet an amazing person 2 years from now… or 20 years… or never but be completely OK with that. There is only one certainty here, though, that I can see: if you stay with him/for him/for the family/so no one hates you/because you don’t want to be the bad guy and ruin everyone else’s hopes and dreams, you will eventually resent them all and yourself for staying. You cannot live a life without regret, but you have to ask yourself what you will regret the most: the things you did or the things you didn’t do. What someone else commented about what you would want if you knew the situation were reversed is a very good thing to consider here. Is it fair to him to continue this? Is it fair to yourself? Or like Miss Honeychurch in A Room With A View, are you lying to everyone by lying to yourself about what you truly want so you can continue to be “the good girl” to one and all?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      When couples argue constantly it’s almost impossible to find that lovin’ feeling.

      I think the way to start this process is to ask him why it is you two argue constantly. Tell him you don’t want to argue about arguing- you genuinely want to find out why this is happening. Let your tone of voice show your sincerity. Create a no fly zone for arguing by saying that both of you might have things to say that will be hard to listen to.

      It sounds like one or both of you is not getting what you need from the relationship. Of course, you are saying here that you are not. Ask him if he feels he is getting what he needs from the relationship.

      The conversations are tough, but walking around not knowing or not fixing it is tougher in some ways. Especially if you ignore the real issues for a while- then it gets harder and harder.

    7. Tangerine*

      I also have a happy-ending story a lot like yours. I was in a relationship for six-nearly-seven years, pretty content, cared about the guy a lot, but wasn’t interested in sex at all and we spent a lot of time irritated with each other. I had a straightforward reason to break up with him because I figured out I’m gay, so I did, and it was really hard but such a relief once it was done. We did end up staying friends. We live on opposite coasts now, but still usually see each other when we visit home, and will get in touch to catch up on life once a year or so. We were close with each others’ families, too, and he still visits my mom when he is in town.

      In hindsight, we weren’t right for each other anyway. We didn’t like many of the same things– mostly what we had in common was liking food, and watching a lot of bad TV.
      After we broke up, I spent a lot of time doing things I actually wanted to be doing, like biking and making art and spending time outdoors. Those were all things he didn’t like and would get grumpy about. I was happier than I had ever been. I realize I didn’t really know who I was without that guy around, and that was something I had to figure out before I could have a healthy relationship with anyone.

    8. cuppa*

      I ended an engagement and lived to tell about it. I knew that if I ended the relationship, I would end up with someone else in particular, but I really wanted me ending the relationship to be about me and not about him. I knew that I needed to end the first relationship when I felt ok with the idea of being single. Even if things with the other guy didn’t work out, I was ok with being single more than I was with continuing to be with my fiance. It wasn’t easy, but it was the right decision and it worked out.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher*

        When I asked my dad this when growing up, he said it’s time to part ways when the bad outweighs the good.
        My threshold has been when my ex made me upset to the point I cried, such that I could picture myself being happy, even if it meant I wasn’t with him any more.

  13. Cruciatus*

    Oh my God, does The Goldfinch ending make it worth it? (Mild spoilers, though really more random points in the book). I liked the beginning but after all the drugs with Boris and now all the lying to Hobie’s clients and stuff with the Barbours I just want this book to end. I do not like the main character and, while I like some of his insights, I’m actually tired of reading about all these details he presents. I’m about 515 pages in, so about 200 to go but I find it hard to pick up at night these days.

      1. Phyllis*

        I keep hearing about this book; it won a Pulitzer Prize and all, but reading the review, it just doesn’t capture my interest. I learned a long time ago that just because a book, movie, painting, ect. is “Award Winning” doesn’t necessarily mean I will like it.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            You too??? I always think I should try Line of Beauty again, then I sigh and forget about it.

        1. catsAreCool*

          “just because a book, movie, painting, ect. is “Award Winning” doesn’t necessarily mean I will like it.” This!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I gave up 3/4 of the way through (maybe 2/3, I forget). I reminded myself that years ago, I gave myself permission to not finish everything I pick up. It’s not worth the slog. If you bought it, you can try again later, but… put it down and go re-read something you really love so you can cleanse your palate.

    2. Lore*

      I thought the ending was better than the sloggish middle bits, and it does eventually tie up some, if not all, of the various plot threads all dangking by page 500. However, my feelings of dislike for the main character (and most of the others) only grew. So, you’re probably over the worst of it, and whether it’s worth finishing probably depends on whether you’re a person who will be more bugged by not knowing how it turns out or continuing to spend your reading time with imaginary people whose company you’re not enjoying. I kind of have a “tipping point” where I can really only put something down a few chapters in; once I’ve given more than 100 pages I am pretty much bound to finish even if skimming rampantly. But that’s not true of everyone.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I’m the same I’d say. There were parts that were really interesting and got me past the 100 page mark quickly, but then eventually became a slog–with interesting parts every so often to keep me motivated enough. But the last hundred pages or so have been slow. But I will finish it at this point. He’s about to marry Kitsey so I want to see how that fizzles out (I feel like it has to fizzle out). And I want to know Popchyk’s fate. It sounds like it doesn’t get any worse, so maybe that’ll motivate me somewhat to keep going.

        The last book I gave up on was Outlander and, before that, Wolf Hall. I can see the appeal of Outlander–it just wasn’t for me (though I like the TV show way better). But Wolf Hall–I did not get it. I don’t know why that book was award winning. My mom loves historical fiction and even she was like “ugh!” and put it down 50 pages or so in.

      1. Windchime*

        I thought it was good, but dark. And I didn’t really like any of the characters; there wasn’t anyone with redeeming qualities except for maybe the old man in the antique store (I don’t remember his name). I did have to slog through the middle part. I wouldn’t say that the ending makes it all worthwhile; it was fine but I couldn’t blame the OP for stopping. I recently picked up a book by Coleen McCullough (because I loved the Thorn Birds) and it was the dumbest, slowest, most annoying book ever. I kept trying to make myself finish it but finally threw in the towel. There is no point in reading (for fun!) if I hate everything about the story.

    3. Sonotaphase*

      I really enjoyed the Goldfinch but I listened to the audiobook and do not think I would have enjoyed it as much had I read it. The Audiobook is REALLY well preformed (the only thing that made the Vegas sections bearable for mewas how charming the voice actor made Boris) and since I live in NYC and commute to work and walk everywhere else it made the book feel like less of a time committment that sitting and reading it would have felt like.

      I think if you are already that far in you should press on- I think the ending is redemptive enough to make it worth finishing. There isn’t nearly as much hope as there was heartbreak but the very end is kind of exciting in terms of the action and there is a flickering light at the end.

    4. HigherEd Admin*

      Oh man, I HATED the ending. It felt preachy and long and unimaginative. It was like the author couldn’t come up with a better way to conclude the story.

      I also didn’t care much for the main character. I felt about him the same way I feel about Holden Caulfield. I hereby promise to stop reading stories about these kinds of characters!

  14. Elkay*

    I loved The Goldfinch, but I loved it all the way through so I’m probably not the best person to ask. To give some Donna Tartt context I hated The Little Friend after loving The Secret History so I was fully prepared to not enjoy The Goldfinch. They’re going to make a film of it so if you really can’t be bothered with the book you could always wait for that and burn a couple of hours and find out how it ends.

    1. Julia*

      I loved The Goldfinch, but I loved The Secret History more. I didn’t finish The Little Friend. BTW, I just finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed and I loved it.

      1. Deedee*

        Loved The Goldfinch at first – really got sucked into it. Then I started hating it. I kept reading for a while because I had loved it and kept thinking it would get good again. But for me it just got worse to the point I just stopped reading it. It was making me too anxious to read it.

  15. Ohword*

    Do people have kids anymore? I’m 28 and none of my friends have kids. People my age at work don’t have kids. I’m like a lone mom out there. I can’t go out to bars/clubs like I used to and people don’t want to come over and watch pbs kids with me and fold laundry. :/

    1. justine*

      When i was your age a decade ago, it was the opposite, i was the lone childless person and was excluded from “mom” things.

    2. just laura*

      Can you befriend other moms? Like parents of classmates or neighbors? Hate to say it, but sometimes life changes require some new friends.

    3. J.B.*

      I think it’s more common to have kids in the 30’s now, particularly when dealing with grad school and starting a professional career. So you got started early.

      It can definitely be rough especially to balance kids and job. I always remind myself that this is on phase of life, and others to come will be different.

    4. Computer Guy Eli*

      Well I think it’s just because of where you’re from, or maybe I’m out of touch with how things work. I’m from Montana and I love the idea of having a little Eli Junior running around. I’m 19 though, so maybe you can chalk that up to not knowing what I really want!

    5. Oh anon*

      I’m 29 and all of my close friends at least have 1 kid, excluding my younger sister. Most people i went to high school with have more than 1.

    6. Clever Name*

      people are having kids later. I had my son at 27, and I’m 5-10 years younger than my mom friends. Also, I didn’t really find my mom tribe until my son went to grade school. My friends really are amazing!

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m the opposite of you. I had my daughter when I was 41. For a long time I thought I wasn’t cut out to have kids. Then after I met my husband and we were married for a couple years, I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to have a child, it was that I’d never met the right guy to have a kid with.

      I have quite a few mom friends, but most of them are 5-10 years younger than I am. I do feel a little out of it sometimes, but they’re fun, really nice, and their kids are my daughter’s age and fortunately they go to the same school, and for the most part like to play together.

      I got to know most of them by getting involved with the PTO events at my daughter’s school. If your child is school aged, this is a great place to meet other moms and make new friends.

    8. matcha123*

      I’m a few years older than you, and more of my friends started having kids around 28.

      Personally, I don’t want to ever have kids. I don’t know how to relate to people in my age group who have had kids or who are making them. I don’t understand why they would want to do something like that.

      Though, I understand wanting to get out. I don’t have kids but I have to budget for my family and have been doing so for at least 15 years. It’s not fun to be the only 20-something person who bows out of drinks because you have to make sure that you have enough money to send home to your family :(

      If your kid can watch TV himself, you can invite your friends over to chat. I remember how I was at 2-5 years old; I could totally sit in my room by myself quietly reading picture books or coloring. And if my mom felt I was being annoying she said: “This is the time for adults to talk. You are not an adult and this conversation is not for you. If you cannot sit quietly there will be hell to pay.”

      1. Ohword*

        I feel so torn. I love my friends and I love going out, but I feel so guilty. I wonder how my son is doing? If I didn’t go out for drinks, we could have gone to a surprise movie! And the other way around, too. If I didn’t have a kid, I’d love to have my friends over more! But I know they don’t want to talk about mom stuff because well who cares when you’re not a mom. I don’t feel like I am losing my friends, but I am also trying to be considerate to their lifestyle as well.

        I work at a college so I’m surrounded by a bunch of 60+ year old ladies who mean well, but it’s like having 15 grandmas giving me outdated childcare advise. “Back in my day my kids slept in a drawer!” Lol I love them but we can’t really relate on a personal level. Their kids are my age and I’ve met a lot of them… But they all don’t have kids! So crazy how things have changed in 25 years!

        1. matcha123*

          As someone raised by a single parent, and as someone that worked at a kindergarten, I can promise that even if your kid cries, he’ll forget it soon enough. You think about movies, he doesn’t even know that that could be a possibility!

          I think that your friends could be fine with “mom stuff” if it’s balanced with other stuff, too. I’m sure that with your first kid any parent is super nervous about a lot of things and they want to confirm with other parents that they’re not dooming their child to prison in the future. I’m also sure that it’s a lot more comfortable to talk with people in your age range, but I wouldn’t see the older ladies’ advice short. My mom had me when she was 26 and when I was in elementary school most of my classmates parents were in their mid-40s or older.

          As someone in your age group who has experience with kids, I can talk about the potty training and the linguistic development and such and so on…which I did do with a friend of a friend for two hours at a dinner party a few weeks ago. But, I’d probably feel more comfortable talking with you when you are fine leaving your kid to play with himself. When I was a toddler, I went to a lot of dinner/cafe chats with my mom and her friends, and I was allowed to sit there, color (or sleep) and not interrupt their conversations. If you don’t think that’s a parenting style that meshes with you, you might be in for some more rough years.

          I hope that doesn’t sound overly harsh. I will say that when my mom was younger, one of her siblings did sleep in a drawer. But that’s because they were poor and there were already 4 kids in one bed :p

    9. Felicia*

      I think it depends on where you live. If you live in an urban area, it’s more common for people to start having kids 30-35. My coworker is 29 (almost 30), and she has like 5 pregnant friends, and 5 other friends with infants, so you may see a baby boom in your circle in like 2 years :P Also it’s much more accepted to never have kids if you don’t want them, which I think is a great thing.

      Also I don’t have kids and will probably be one of the ones to have some in my 30s, but I hate bars/clubs, and would love to watch pbs kids with you. I know people have kids can’t have as much free time, but i wish i had friends with kids because i hate the “typical” 20something activities. This afternoon i’m going to a knitting meetup and that’s the highlight of my week. I’m 24 and I only know one person my age with a child, a one year old, but she’s from a small town where such things are much more common. Not that there’s anything wrong with having kids younger! I kind of wish i could, but i haven’t met the person i’d like to marry and have kids with that. It’s just appears to be a less common path in more urban areas.

      1. Diet Coke Addict*

        It’s totally an area thing. In my semirural area everyone starts having kids between 25 and 30 (or in many cases, 20 and 25). I think it’s much less common to do that in urban areas (and I think there’s a lot of class issues involved as well).

        1. Al Lo*

          And religious community. I grew up in a not-super-conservative evangelical community (i.e. not a quiverfull or Duggar type world, either ideologically or family size) in a large city, and there was still a huge trend to get married and start facing kids younger than the average. I married at 28, and was later than many of my friends, and many I’d than were finished having kids before turning 30. I’ve been married 4 1/2 years, and we’re just now starting to think about trying to get pregnant, so we’re definitely outside the norm for the friends we grew up amongst, but right in the middle of our friends from other circles.

    10. asteramella*

      It depends on your area. You might try to find “mom groups” on Meetup or your local community center.

    11. Sunflower*

      I’m 26 and only one of my friends have a kid. I would try Meetup. I’m sure there are lots of moms in similar situations as you.

    12. Brenda*

      Most of my friends, even the ones who got married around 24-25, didn’t have kids until 30 or later. If your friends are in relationships they’ll start catching up to you soon I’d think. Also, I’m totally happy to go around to my friends’ with kids houses to talk about the kids and do nothing. I love it. Kids are cute! I wish I could see more of my friends’ kids.

    13. cuppa*

      I’m 30, and most of my friends are 4-6 years older than me. I’m in the middle of a baby boom right now! 7 of my friends have had kids in the last year or are currently pregnant. Before that it was just 1.

    14. Revanche*

      I think you need to be friends with my friends. :)

      Half of them started between 24-27 (some of them are on #2, 3, 4 now!) and the other half are now, including me, starting in our 30s. FWIW, between 21-30, I was perfectly happy to come fold laundry, make dinner, and chat while watching the kids up, that was more fun and better quality time with them then going out to bars ever was. And it never bothered me being the non-mom among those friends, I wasn’t ready to have kids of my own during those years, but babysitting or minding was totally fine. Are you sure they wouldn’t be willing to do the same? I flat out told my friends if they couldn’t go out but wanted company, I was more than happy to come plop on their couch or do chores with them just to talk while we did it – I don’t think they would have asked me to if I wasn’t very clear that I was perfectly ok with it.

    15. Jen S. 2.0*

      I am 39, and most of my friends started having kids in the last 6-7 years… and there are lots of first pregnancies and young babies (and adoptions) still happening. I’m still going to first weddings (and I am single with no kids myself). Rare was the person with kids at 28 in my peer group.

      I also still go out to bars, although clubs now skew way too young.

      Yes, people definitely have kids, but you’re ahead of the curve. But think of how excited you’ll be when you ship then off to college and my friends will be in the dreadful pre-teen years! For neither love nor money would I be 13 again.

  16. Aam Admi*

    I never understood why some companies use such strong glue to place stickers on the inside surfaces of cook ware. I bought some glass dishes on sale last week. Even though I soaked them in water all morning and spend an hour trying to take off the stickers and scrub the glue off, there is still some sticky residue on the dishes. Anyone has better ideas on how to achieve this?

        1. Jazzy Red*

          Make sure to wash the object and your hands well after using Goo Gone. It’s my favorite sticky remover. I watched Martha Stewart a few years ago, and she had something great to remove sticky stuff. I was expecting a homemade concoction from her, but instead she recommended Goo Gone.

    1. OfficePrincess*

      I’ve had a lot of success with goo gone. It takes the glue off pretty easily, you just have to really really wash the dish after. Good luck!

    2. fposte*

      Rubbing alcohol has worked for me. Soak a cotton ball in it and leave it on for a minute or so (more if you want), then scrape.

      1. TL -*

        Get Ethanol if you can find it – it’ll work better than isopropanol.

        (And if all else fails, methanol’ll get almost anything off, though I don’t know where/if you can buy it outside of a professional context.)

    3. Gene*

      Nothing I have found (including GooGone) works as well as 3M General Purpose Adhesive Cleaner. If your local auto parts store doesn’t have it, find an auto body supply house.

    4. danr*

      Put liquid dish detergent on the label and glue for awhile, then rub gently with a scrubber for non-stick pans under warm running water. It will take a couple of sessions to get it all off.

    5. Samsar*

      peanut butter … work some peanut butter into the adhesive w/ a paper towel and then wipe it right off.

      1. asteramella*

        I believe peanut butter works because it’s oily. Just putting mineral or even cooking oil on the label will work just as well.

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      Rubbing alcohol on a wad of cotton. Hold in on there for 30 seconds, then scrape. It dissolves the glue.

  17. brightstar*

    I know a lot of people here listened to Serial, so what did everyone think of Jay’s interview with the Intercept?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      This has been Discussion Topic #1 in my house for the past several days. I think Jay is shady as hell. I do not like how he goes after Sarah Koenig, and her emails to him are nothing but professional and even sympathetic to him. I think it’s disingenuous to say he doesn’t want any attention at all when a) his Facebook is relatively public, b) his address is on his Facebook page, and c) he posted publicly that he would give an interview and basically started a journalistic bidding war (that info came from the Slate podcast). I understand that he could never have known that Serial would blow up the way it did, but he would have been much smarter to email Sarah Koenig and say his piece to her as production was underway. I think she was very fair to him throughout, especially during the episode devoted to him, and he is pulling some shady shit.

      I also think his changing the story YET AGAIN is shady. There are so many inconsistencies, from his version of his relationship with Adnan to his statements about Stephanie… Do I think he killed Hae? Don’t know. Do I think he had something to do with it? Probably. Do I think he’s shady? Yes. Had he given the interview and said, “I said what I had to say to the prosecution 15 years ago and here’s why there were inconsistencies, now please leave me and my family alone,” then ok. But to go after Sarah and Rabia? Shady.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Rabia has gone after him (and others) in an incredibly nasty, hostile way, from a very large platform. I don’t blame him one bit for having an issue with that. She’s basically accusing this dude of murder. Also, I don’t think he quite “gets” Sarah/Serial, and I can understand why he’d blame her for a horrible episode from his past being reopened and him getting essentially stalked and harassed. I don’t agree that that’s rational, but I can absolutely see why he has an issue with her.

        His address isn’t on his Facebook page (unless I’m totally missing where you’re looking), and it’s pretty much as locked down as you can get. (It wasn’t at first, but it has been for a couple of months now. Again, I think he’s not super savvy about this stuff.)

        I agree his inconsistencies are shady. I think he’s someone who plays fast and loose with words and facts (so is Rabia, to an extent, although Jay’s is way more pronounced), but he knows the essence of what he’s saying is true (Adnan killed Hae and showed him the body) and he’s pissed off that that’s not enough. I don’t think he gets why people care so much about the details when he’s willing to give them the big stuff; he’s clearly someone who isn’t particularly detail-oriented himself. I feel like I’ve known people like him — people who are totally not precise with language or facts, and who don’t understand why that’s a problem — and being like that doesn’t mean he murdered someone and put an innocent guy in jail. (It does mean that he shouldn’t be giving interviews though.)

        That said, I say all of this as someone who has no idea whatsoever whether Adnan is innocent or not and is super skeptical of anyone who claims to feel confidence about anything involving this case. But my gut says Jay doesn’t deserve the invective he’s receiving.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I absolutely agree he doesn’t deserve the invective… and I also agree he shouldn’t be giving interviews. I think that’s where my distaste for him lies; I probably give him more credit than I should, since I agree that he’s likely not super savvy about how these things work. I can’t get past my feeling that he protests a little too much about the attention, especially since he allowed his photo to be published. Again, that might be me expecting him to be a little more knowledgeable about these things. My boyfriend pointed out that Jay seems to either ignore or not know that transcripts from the trials, complete with his name and all kinds of identifying details, are public record.

    2. Steve G*

      You guys are making me want to listen to this. I listened to an interview on NPR in the car about some lady that wanted to interview an accused murderer, and she leaned towards him being innocent….it sounded interested but not this controversial. I love controversy in my nice and busy but somewhat boring life:-) I need to listen

      1. The IT Manager*

        Was it Sarah Koenig about serial because she did a Fresh Air interview sometime over the holiday season?

      1. Windchime*

        Haha, that’s awesome. I just started listening to Serial a couple of days ago, so I wouldn’t have understood this SNL sketch when it first aired.

    3. Hermoine Granger*

      When I first read the comments I was confused about if you guys were discussing real people or a fictional show. I Googled it and it sounds weird but interesting. I can’t get into another show right now but I’ve bookmarked it. Thanks for sharing!

  18. Should I be Eating Ramen?*

    How much I should be saving each month for an MBA program? I’m a 2014 undergrad 7 months into my first job and I’ve been setting aside only about 225 a month for school. I want to attend a good program in 2 years that will probably cost 130,000+. My job is good but in an expensive city so that hurts savings a bit and I’ve been trying to max my 401k. Would it be better to take some of the money I’ve been putting into the 401k to my school fund so I don’t have to take out as much in loans? How much would be smart to have before I start the program in 2 years? I’m looking into competitive schools so I have started to study for the GMAT after work but I’m starting to think I should pick up a part time evening job somewhere as well. Do you all have any savings secrets – I am quite cheap as it is – but I’m always open to suggestions! Any study material advice would be great too! :)

    1. fposte*

      What kind of loans will you need, and what do the interest rates on them look like? It sounds like you’ve identified the program and have a good idea of the actual tuition cost; have you factored in the cost of living when you’re not earning into your savings? Have you crunched the numbers to see how many years it’ll take you to pay the loans back and what salary you’ll need to make to manage that, and is that a plausible salary for where you’re living?

      You can never get tax-advantaged space back, so I really hate to hear of anybody using less of it and push for continued contributions. However, I’d say the significant factor here is the interest rates on the loans–if you can only get high interest loans at, say, 4% or higher, you probably want to save to minimize the loans. If you can get a loan at 3% or lower, I’d stick with the 401k. You still have the option of getting a loan from the 401k later if you need to–that’s not great, but it means it’s not an irrevocable decision to prioritize the 401k, either. If you can get another job to save up more, I think that’s a brilliant idea so long as it doesn’t burn you out.

      Savings secrets kind of depend on what you’re spending money on and how much you’re looking to save. You can get a roommate, you can get a cheap phone/cheap plan/pay as you go if you’re currently in the $1-2k per year range, you can cut cable TV, you can shop at Aldi, you can bring lunch from home… You can check out the Mr. Money Mustache blog for extreme saving if you’re into that–there are a ton of tips there.

      And I must say that I really like the sound of the way you’re approaching this. You sound smart and open and unafraid of change and hard work. I wish you good luck and a successful MBA and career.

    2. Not Myself Today*

      Okay, basic question first – why do you want to pursue an MBA? What will follow after that is why does it make economic sense to put yourself into more than $120,000 of debt (you’re only on target to save $5400 now if you’re looking at $225 x 24) to do it? Keep in mind that adding in your opportunity costs will drive this figure much higher. Early in your career is also when saving for retirement is the most helpful.

      There is a lot of debate about whether an MBA is worth it, and the consensus seems to be trending toward a negative answer, although there is still more support for an MBA from a top ten school (mostly for networking) or for those pursuing a career in accounting or finance. Still, I have had more than one corporate officer counsel me against bothering with it as long as you can manage the basics in analyzing a balance sheet and cash flow statement.

      My conclusion is that performance and achievement matter more than the credential. There may still be a correlation (high performers may be driven to achieve academically as well as professionally) but I have literally never heard anyone discuss the presence or absence of an MBA either on the job or when hiring for anything other than an internship or first job out of school.

      To give you context, I work for a global Fortune 100 company and graduated from their internal by-invitation-only leadership training program – but don’t have an MBA.

      A same-age relative with an MBA earns roughly half what I do.

      I would hope that anyone pursuing an MBA would analyze the long-term ROI of this degree very carefully.

      1. BRR*

        I was also wondering if the MBA is necessary. Unless it’s from a top top school I don’t believe it matters that much where it’s from. As someone with six-figures of student loan debt I would highly advise against going into that much debt. Does your company pay for school or can you look for a new job that pays for it?

      2. the gold digger*

        An MBA has been valuable for me, but I went to a top 20 program AND I did not go into debt to do it. (It cost only $5,000 for tuition and fees over the two years.)

        It was good for me because my BA is in English and that is not a degree that gets attention in the business world. I would not have gotten the jobs I got after B school (business program in the Peace Corps, corporate finance, marketing) without “MBA” on my resume.

        However – the courses really did not teach me anything I did not already understand conceptually. (I already had taken accounting and business law as an undergrad and I started college as an engineer, so I had a lot of the math already.) What the MBA gave me was some of the tools and the language.

        So the main question is, Why do you want the MBA? Do you want to work on Wall Street or for McKinsey or BCG? If so, then plan on attending a top-10 school. I was at a top-20 school and McKinsey hired only one person from my school in two years. The Wall Street firms didn’t even recruit on my campus – and we were top 20!

        If you just want the knowledge for its own sake, maybe consider having your employer pay for you to go part time to a local school. The knowledge is useful, but having the knowledge and having the degree are two different things.

    3. Stephanie*

      It might be more than that, even. Friend is at Wharton and the school told them to budget $97k/year. Talking to her, she says there’s a lot of pressure to socialize and take trips and FOMO (fear of missing out) is huge. Friend saved up a lot, but she also comes from money. I wouldn’t sacrifice the 401(k) contributions just because you can get the benefit of time right now.

      I’d also factor in if you’d be willing to slave away in finance or consulting after school to reasonably service the debt.

    4. soitgoes*

      My perspective on this subject is a but skewed…I know so many people who cited finances as a reason to not go to college at all (and these particular people had other resources, like parents who would let them live at home for free, so I’m not knocking people who have more pressing financial concerns) that I tend to think that school is worth whatever you have to pay for it. It’s better to take out a loan than to not go to school at all, you know? Even if it takes 20 years to pay off the loan, you still have 30 more years after that to pull in your higher income.

      1. Graciosa*

        You really don’t – most people don’t work at high paying jobs into their mid-seventies or eighties. Also, statistically speaking, the data is not showing a real ROI in most cases any longer (there was a period of time when MBA’s really did pay off pretty quickly, but that’s no longer true).

        I can appreciate valuing knowledge and information, but there isn’t really a lot covered in an MBA program educationally that you can’t pick up without the same cost elsewhere. The real distinctions seem to be 1) having the credential and 2) having the contacts you make among your classmates. When you control for other factors to measure the impact of those two items, the MBA value proposition changes – particularly as the costs continue to escalate.

        I do think that you’re on stronger ground speaking about a standard bachelors degree. It’s very hard to get a job without one – I think it is a required credential for a much broader range of jobs than it used to be, and is much more likely to be worth the investment (as long as you’re smart about choice of schools and financial aid).

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Oooooh, no, I strongly disagree with that, soitgoes! I know I’m all over this site saying this so I’ll keep it brief, but grad school very often does not make sense financially or professionally, and can actually constrict your career choices in ways that you wouldn’t choose. There are certainly cases where it does make sense for a particular person and their situation, but it’s absolutely not worth whatever you might have to pay for it in all situations.

        (More here, including lots of comments from people who regret going.)

    5. Marcy*

      Unless you are planning on one of the top schools, it won’t really matter to employers where your degree is from. A state school should be much cheaper.
      One thing that helped me was making sure I did well on the GMAT. I did well enough to get an assistantship that covered most of the tuition. There are also fellowships that will cover all of it. Look for scholarships, too.
      Another thing that can save you money if you really want to go to a more expensive school is to start out at a cheaper school then transfer to the more expensive school for the last semester (or whatever their transfer rules may dictate). Your degree will still be from the more expensive school. Just make sure you are very clear on all of the rules for transfer.

    6. Editor*

      Get a job with a company that will pay for the MBA, and enroll in a part-time program that will give you the MBA while you continue working. You won’t be out of pocket for as much, and you will be in a career path where your employer values the MBA. If the places you work won’t pay for an MBA, don’t go for one until you land a job that does.

      Also, have you looked into degrees that might be as useful, but are cheaper? I’ve heard that sometimes degrees in accounting or economics or other topics might be equally valuable without being as costly. Sometimes getting an MBA is just a process of buying a network instead of building a network, so getting solid experience in a field that values MBAs might be more worthwhile. Continue saving, but also do a lot of research to find out if the ROI at your program is what you want and if the job and lifestyle you would have to pursue once you got the job is what you want. Good luck.

      1. Fellow Corporateer*

        +1. After I graduated, I was surprised to discover how many companies will pay for your education as long as it’s job-related and you remain employed with them while in school. Even if they don’t list it as a benefit, you can often make a case for it once you’ve been there a while and proven your worth.

    7. K*

      Don’t get an MBA unless you absolutely need it to advance in your career and only if your job pays for it.

    8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      I feel like I comment every time anyone says anything about getting an MBA. I’ll give my usual disclaimer: I haven’t been to business school and don’t have an MBA. I have, however, paid for one – my husband just finished his MBA at a top-20 school.

      What I’ve learned: An MBA can be incredibly valuable, but for a fairly narrow range of people.

      My husband, who worked as a financial analyst prior to doing his MBA and now works in consulting, tripled his salary and dramatically changed the direction of his career. It has been hugely important for him. But he’s really in exactly the sweet spot. Observing his fellow students (and other friends and etc. who have gotten MBAs recently), here’s what we’ve learned:

      – The economics are vastly different if you attend a top-20 (or even better, top 10) school. Top schools have meaningful recruiting relationships with top employers, which opens up an exclusive job pool that you can’t get access to in literally any other way. The leadership development program my husband was hired into hires exclusively from two business schools; he was the only person hired this year, and if they hadn’t hired him they would not have hired anyone.

      – These MBA-only jobs are clustered in just a few fields: Management consulting, investment banking, marketing, logistics/operations, and corporate finance. (Perhaps this varies by school? These were the jobs available through on-campus recruiting at my husband’s school.) If you aren’t looking for a job in these fields, I can’t imagine the MBA making sense.

      – You really, really need to have several years of relevant experience in one of the above fields. My husband’s peers that struggled to get good jobs were those who didn’t have much experience.

      – You need to be a strong connector and engaging communicator. A lot of the value of the MBA is in the networking you will do (with other students, with alums of your program, with corporate representatives that come to campus, with interviewers, etc.). If you aren’t good at converting brief connections into meaningful ones (or if you aren’t a strong interviewee), it will be really hard for you to turn those networking relationships into jobs.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I always consider it, but then never get my act together to actually start, and then I’m too behind and don’t want to do it. But maybe I should finally do it this year. I have a lot more time than in past years (done with grad school and (f)underemployed). What aspect of it do you find the most helpful? Or how has it helped you specifically?

      1. just laura*

        It’s not too unattainable. For example, there is a bigger weekend project and doable weekday things. I can get behind that! Some plans are way too intense and I quit before I start. Today we vacuumed and I scriubed the kitchen floor. Total time less than 1 hr. (The plan asks for a thorough job but I am willing to cheat in order to do it!)

    2. Belle Gold*

      I am, in part. I’ll be out of town for a few days and overnight guests come in on the 30th. Also, I skip doing the floors first because it feels wrong to me. So, mostly.

      I did it last year. I liked having an assignment so I focused on what needed to get done for that day or weekend. I also started thinking about my house as a home. I started thinking about the items that I needed to make it more comfortable and a place to enjoy instead of where I crash at the end of the day. Finally started getting pillows and decorating a bit, which made it feel like home.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Floors first is the silliest idea! When you wipe counters, dust, or even just walking around you mess them up again sometimes within minutes. Floors are last. Always and forever.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I haven’t done this, but I was off all week and one of my projects was to clean out my closet and get rid of all the old stuff and haul it off to Goodwill. I did the same with my daughter’s toys, since she got all kinds of new stuff for Christmas, and her birthday is next month, so she’ll get another big round of gifts. It felt great to get rid of all that stuff. I’d had a huge “get rid of this” pile sitting on the floor of my closet for about 2 years.

      I also made a bunch of stuff for the freezer: some dinners, some green enchilada sauce, and some red enchilada sauce. My plan was to be productive in the morning so I could sit on my butt all afternoon and catch up on my TV viewing without guilt.

  19. Postradamus*

    I came here looking for Raine’s post from Friday’s open thread about the brother and sister-in-law who never acknowledged – or even picked up! – gifts that were sent to nieces and nephews. Raine, are you in my family? That is my sister and brother-in-law to a tee. I’ve sent them handmade baby blankets, baby gifts, birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, and most recently a very personal and meaningful compilation of another family member’s life. They don’t acknowledge the packages unless I come right out and ask if they were received, and I think my sister has said “thank you” ONCE. I don’t send them or the kids gifts so they can fall all over themselves thanking me. Still, I don’t understand the mindset of complete silence. How much effort would it take to send a text acknowledging that you received it? And I know this might be going overboard, but I think it’s a little hostile to take the attitude of “You shouldn’t send me a gift expecting a thank you, how selfish of you to feel that way.” I send you gifts because I love you, and the loving thing to do in return is to acknowledge the gift. I’ve started using Delivery Confirmation and not expecting to hear from them at all, but it still flabbergasts me, and I’m not willing to punish their kids for the parents’ lack of manners. Yet. (Oh by the way my mother and I have both talked to my sister about this. She just doesn’t understand the big deal.) So Raine, I’m right there with you..

    1. Lori C*

      As I see it, you have a couple of other choices besides asking for a delivery receipt. You can stop sending your sister and her family gifts. She does not appreciate them, since she has outright told you she doesn’t feel the need to let you know she received them nor does she feel the need to thank you. Or, you can call her every single time you send something to confirm she received it. She still won’t thank you for it. And she will not teach her children to say thank you either.

      I would pick the first choice. And you are not “punishing” her children. She is the one who did this, not you.

      Have you and your mother tried talking to your brother in law about this? Not that he is responsible for his wife’s behavior, but I wonder if he thanks his family when they send gifts.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        “You can stop sending your sister and her family gifts.”


        I used to knock myself out sending presents, even spending big with Fedex so it would definitely get there and never getting so much as an “we got the box” from them. So, I stopped and absolutely nothing happened, except that now I’m not wasting time on people who don’t appreciate the effort, I’m not stressing myself out any longer with any of that. People make time for the things that are important to them. Just because family is important to *you*, it doesn’t automatically mean you are important to *family*. Two very painful lessons I’ve had to learn in my life.

        1. Postradamus*

          Those are both very helpful answers, thanks – you’re both right and I just haven’t wanted to go there. Lori, we haven’t talked to BIL, so I don’t know if he makes the effort for his family. Our relationship with him has gotten better over the years but he’s always held us at arms’ length (my interpretation, 3 sides to every story and all that). She has sent me care packages and such during an illness, so it wouldn’t be fair of me to say they don’t care. I just need to revise my expectations and accept them as they are, along with letting go of my need to send them gifts. Thanks again for the feedback!

        2. AdAgencyChick*


          I don’t see this as punishing the kids for their parents’ ingratitude. If the kids aren’t old enough to miss the presents, they won’t miss them. If they are, and they ask you, you can say, “Well, we never heard back from you the last time we sent you presents, so we thought you must not have liked them!” And perhaps the *kids* may figure out that they need to acknowledge gifts, even if their parents are willfully ignorant.

          If the *parents* are rude enough to ask…well, same response!

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            One Xmas, my mother said to me that I should send a thank you note to my grandmother for the present she sent. I rarely saw or spoke to this grandmother as she lived thousands of miles away, these were the days when you had to write a letter, you couldn’t just dash off a text or e-mail. My mother warned me that if I didn’t, Grandma would stop sending presents. Considering she had just sent me a red polyester jumpsuit with faux fur around the hood and cuffs, I didn’t want anything more from her! So, Mom was right, I didn’t send the letter, the gifts stopped coming and, TBH, I didn’t miss them.

            So, there is always that possibility if the kids are old enough, that they have been told to send a message and just can’t be arsed for whatever reason and their mother isn’t hounding them to do it. It’s also entirely possible that whatever etiquette lesson you received, your sibling skipped class that day. The other alternative is to send them a note saying that you’ve bought a goat for a needy family in Africa in their name or made some other donation, if you simply must send them something.

            Finally, it occurs to me that if you are thanking them for whatever they send you, it could be that they are embarrassed by your generosity or resentful of your success in some way. What you consider a loving gift, could be considered by some people to be showing off/rubbing their comparative poverty in their faces because they can’t reciprocate in kind. Or, the other way if they are more well off than you, which isn’t any nicer an attitude to take.

            1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

              Regarding your first anecdote, I do wonder if there’s a generational (or some other kind of?) divide in the way to approach gifts. Honestly, I don’t really want the vast majority of gifts I recieve from family member’s either. It’s not that I don’t appreciate that they like me enough to send them, and I totally get that, with gifts, it’s often at LEAST as much about the giver as the receiver) but it is honestly really hard to muster the time or intentionality to thank people for gifts you don’t really want.

              Another possible divide is whether or not your family regularly communicates about other stuff. If you had a weekly phone call with your grandma, it would just come up naturally. If you generally talk on the phone twice a year, then yeah, you’re obviously going to forget by the next phone call, and you also obviously don’t want to talk to them enough to do so more than twice a year, so getting up the motivation to make an extra thank-you call for a gift you didn’t really want anyway seems like a lot.

              Some people just aren’t communicative. I’m not saying it’s NOT rude. But describing it as rude puts more intentionality in the situation than is really there. If someone wants to stop sending gifts because they’re not being thanked for them, or they’re not acknowledged, that is their freedom, and I suspect all parties will be happier for it (would a really forced, short phone call from OP’s brother and sister really have made OP happy? Is that what they were really looking for? You can sometimes force people to be more like you, but you can’t force them to be happy about doing it).

              1. Postradamus*

                In answer to Dynamic Beige, I think they’re at about the same economic level as we are. The gifts I send to the kids anymore are mostly edible treats, because they’ve mentioned they have too much “stuff” already. You could both be right, and our gift-giving with the accompanying subliminal expectations of gratitude/acknowledgement might be more of a burden than anything, especially if they don’t want the gifts in the first place. And I had to chuckle at Kimberlee’s comment; no I definitely don’t want an awkward or forced phone conversation, especially since I hate hate hate talking on the phone. It’s great to get the different experiences from everyone on this site. I tend to be in the “I feel this way so it is the right way” camp at times, and it’s good to be reminded of how many different perspectives there are out there, and how I could actually be wr—wronnnn—misguided in my interpretation. :o) I’m just not going to send gifts anymore. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Thanks again!

  20. Planning a trip to NYC*

    I’m planning to visit New York this May with a friend, for about a week to 10 days. Just googling it gets me an overload of information. We’re both from Canada, I’ll be flying out from Calgary and she’ll be coming from either Montreal or Toronto. What’s the best way to start planning this trip? I hear plane tickets are best booked 4-6 weeks out but I’m already watching the prices. I plan to use priceline for hotels, but where should I plan on staying? I would look at sites like couchsurfer or airbnb, but as two 21 year old women travelling alone I think that’s the beginning of the plot to a really bad movie. She doesn’t care what we do but I want to hit all the touristy places like the Statue of Liberty and Central Park. Basically, I guess I’m looking for recommendations on:
    – where to stay, how much it should cost, and when to book
    – what sites/activities should I definitely not miss out on
    – the best way to hit all the tourist spots (is there a guided tour worth my time & money?)
    – how to travel (I’m assuming the subway, but is there something like a crash course on how to navigate the subway system?)
    – any other tips for planning this trip?
    All suggestions welcome!

    1. BRR*

      Since you are traveling international I would look to book a little further out. I’ve always stayed with family so I’m not a good authority on hotels.

      -For the statue of liberty, depending on your desire to go you might want to consider the staten island ferry. It goes by the statue but is free. If you want to go to the island book early since it just reopened
      -I wouldn’t recommend any large tours (although if you’re a Sex and the City fan they do a bus tour that was fun), part of the fun of NYC is the journey from going place to place
      -Subway is your best bet for getting around, download the NYC subway app and there is a way to get google maps to save areas for offline use, people are very helpful though if you need directions. Pay attention to direction of the trains before you go down
      – I really enjoyed the United Nations tour, it’s pretty cheap too
      -If you want to go to the top of a building I enjoyed doing Rockefeller Center (top of the rock) far more than empire state. You can combine the top of the rock with an art tour of the building which in my opinion was awesome.
      -The highline park is really cool to walk down
      -If you like museums the met is unparalleled, I’m more of a modern art person so I enjoyed MOMA more. The gugenheim in my opinion was overrated.
      -Sometimes it can be surprisingly hard to find somewhere to eat. Planning ahead at times will be helpful.

      1. Chriama*

        Speaking of food: I’ve always wanted to try a street cart. Are they just everywhere, or is there a location where all the good ones gather? Are they more or less expensive than fast food, or about the same price? And should I worry about food poisoning?

        1. BRR*

          Depends on the cart in regards to cost versus fast food. They are basically everywhere but I’m not sure which are better than others. Keep and eye out if it’s clean but I wouldn’t worry about food poisoning.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          There’s an AMAZING OMG SO GOOD cart on 53rd and 6th called Halal Guys– there’s always, always a line there. My favorite was the Kwik Meal on 45th and 6th, but that one was a bit more expensive (I think it’s now up to $9 for lamb over rice). Midtown on weekdays is where the good carts are, and if you see one with a bunch of suits lined up at lunch time, it’s probably delicious. I used to love El Jalapeno on 39th between Park and Madison– great tacos right outside the Mexican consulate.

          I actually love street meat and have been known to eat a few gyros in my life. (Note: NYC carts pronounce it “jye-ro”, not “yee-ro”. Don’t skip the white sauce.) It’s usually about the same price as fast food, maybe a little more depending on the cart. Most of the time they’re perfectly safe to eat. Skip the hot dogs and pretzels, which are usually mediocre. Don’t go to a cart in Times Square– it won’t be as good and they’ll charge more.

          Oh, here’s another tip: DO NOT TOUCH the “characters” in Times Square. I’m serious. They will harass you for money, they are not licensed, and those costumes don’t get washed. Also, the people inside them often get arrested for pretty nasty things. Stay away.

          1. Chriama*

            Thanks for the tip! I was on the nyc reddit the other day (which was not as helpful for tourists as I’d expected) and they mentioned scams like people offering to sign their CD for you and then demanding money since it has your name on it… so I’m going to try not to look at, touch, or talk to anyone who seems as if they might demand money from me haha!

          2. Zed*

            Halal Guys is delicious! I went there the last time I visited MOMA. The line was halfway down the block, but it was definitely worth the wait.

        3. AdAgencyChick*

          Some of them are great, and some of them are…just incredibly mediocre.

          NYC has a lot of more “gourmet” food trucks these days. If you’re looking for a true bare-bones street-meat experience, I vote Rafiqi’s — he has a few carts downtown with some pretty good doner kebab-type food. If you want to try one of the more restaurants-on-wheels options, some good ones are Luke’s Lobster, Treats Truck, Rickshaw Dumpling (although I’m not sure it still exists), and Torsu Cambodian.

          Tweat.it has a map of various trucks’ locations based on their Twitter feeds (many trucks have them to let their fans know where they are every day).

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Rickshaw is there! When I left they had a standalone shack in Times Square, but I think the truck still makes rounds. And I LOVE the Treats Truck!

        1. Chriama*

          This sounds interesting! What do they have there? I’m planning to devote a full day to Woodbury Commons because I’m into outlet shopping. Are there better malls I should visit instead? I’ve heard of the garment district, but I don’t know if it’s worth my time to go there because I’m not into sample sales from super expensive designers (e.g. Vera Wang) unless the prices are actually cheap (like, <$20 an item). Is that something I should investigate further?

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Woodbury Commons isn’t in NYC– it’s a good hour away. There’s a bus that goes there from Port Authority. It’s worth the trip, but it will eat a whole day.

            1. Chriama*

              So with all the transportation time, I should plan to make just 1 trip then, huh? Any other places I should check out?

              1. Lore*

                Personally I don’t think the deals or the brands are good enough at Woodbury to spend a whole day on it–Century 21 is worth it and the big sales at Macy’s often have better prices than the outlets. Keep an eye on the free papers (Metro and AM NY) for coupons–they run a 20% off for Macy’s constantly.

          2. BRR*

            Century 21 is an outlet department store. It’s a good alternative if you don’t want to spend an entire day to go to an outlet mall. There are a couple locations but the best one is downtown next to the 9/11 memorial.

          3. AdAgencyChick*

            Yeah, I’d do Century 21 over Woodbury Commons if you’re trying to keep an “NYC experience” feel to the whole thing. I admit I’ve never been to Woodbury but it seems like just a trip out to the ‘burbs (with very good outlet shopping, so I hear, but it may not be something you want to go out of your way to do).

            With Century 21 you have to be very patient, but there’s no telling what you’ll find. The place is chaos and you have to sift through piles of merchandise that might make you think, “Who the hell thought this was a good idea?” and then all of a sudden you find a piece you love at a great price and you feel like a conquistador. :)

            My favorite shopping experience is wandering around Soho, though. It’s not discount shopping by any means (all price points, though, from affordable to break-the-bank expensive). But the stores are small and fun and often well curated.

        2. Sunflower*

          If you’re on a budget, Necessary Clothing is a super cool store(similar to Forever 21). they have a couple stores all around Canal and Broadway. There’s a Buffalo Exchange on 11th and 1st ave that is hit or miss

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You’ll find a glut of info here, too! I’ll tackle the “where to stay”– since you want to hit tourist spots, there is a corridor of hotels around 34th Street (near Herald Square– Macy’s– and the Empire State Building) that will be slightly less pricey than hotels in other parts of town, and it’s very busy/safe around there. All the big chains have hotels there– Hilton Garden Inn, Sheraton Four Points, Hampton Inn, etc. There’s also a little spot called the Herald Square Hotel that may not be too expensive. There is a youth hostel on 45th Street between 6th and Broadway (basically in Times Square), and a 10-day stay there will probably be cheapest. Hotels are very expensive in Manhattan; the lowest I’ve ever seen is $150/night at the Aloft in Harlem, close to where I used to live, but that’s looking at mid-range hotels, not hostels. Because of the tourist-y thing, look for hotels in Midtown, preferably Midtown West. I would recommend staying on a numbered street (not avenue), north of 14th Street. It will be easier for you to navigate that way. You can also look for hotels in Long Island City, but that’s in Queens and won’t be in the thick of things.

      Most neighborhoods will be safe– they won’t necessarily look that way at first, but they are. Try not to venture too far west, because you’ll be too far from the subway.

      I would advise against Airbnb. It’s a bit controversial in the city right now. My old building had lots of problems with people renting out their apartments on Airbnb, and I myself was none too pleased at some of the “guests” my neighbors had. YMMV, of course, it’s just not my favorite.

      Book as soon as possible. May is the start of tourist season and things get really, really pricey. NYC in general is very, very pricey, so plan accordingly. You can get great cheap eats, but you have to seek them out (Chinatown, East Village).

      1. Chriama*

        I’m flexible on hotel budget as long as I have easy access to transportation and some interesting activities. I will definitely check out the 34th street corridor. Are there any other hubs like that I should take a look at staying?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          There’s a cluster of hotels in Tribeca (same deal– budget arms of big chains), but honestly, I would stay further north (Midtown). Tribeca goes dead quiet at night and on weekends near those hotels, and it can be really hard to navigate. I still have trouble with non-numbered streets!

            1. Lore*

              Also definitely check the big travel websites–hotels.com, Priceline, Travelocity–for hotel deals. If your timing is right you can get very lucky. I would agree with midtown–just for travel logistics. Don’t stay right in Times Square if you can help it, but between 34 and 59 Streets, there are a ton of hotels these days, more every day it seems!

              On transit: If you’re here for a full week, the 7-day unlimited Metrocard is definitely worth it. However, be aware that you need to use a zip code to purchase them with a credit card at the in-station machines (don’t ask me why) so I’ve had other foreign-traveling friends have difficulties at the machines. It may be possible to use a fake one, but it may not. So be prepared to pay cash for that.

              On general: definitely plan to spend a day (at least) in a borough other than Manhattan, for contrast. PS1 and Gantry Point Park and Museum of the Moving Image make a nice excursion to Queens (and an easy one), or a Mets game and Flushing if you’re interested. In Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Museum has some great stuff and is right next to the Botanical Gardens, which are also lovely, but also just walking around Red Hook or DUMBO or Brooklyn Bridge Park.

              Most of the major museums have one free evening a week. It’s definitely worth trying to hit at least one of those as the prices have gotten insane (some of them are suggested donation, but others are not and cost as much as $25). TKTS (the discount theater ticket booth) has an app that shows you in real time what’s available–might be worth downloading if you’ll have reliable internet access while here.

              1. Audrey*

                I’m not from the US, was in NYC last year, and to buy the 7-day Metrocard we were told by MTA staff to enter a zip code of 00000 – five zeroes. Worked a treat. And the 7-day Metrocard is one of NYC’s great bargains. Definitely get the smartphone app – it is excellent and makes journey-planning a snap. We took a day or so to get our heads around the system but were totally amazed at how good it is.

    3. Corporate Attorney*

      What’s your budget for lodging? Hotels (even in crappy parts of town) are typically very expensive in New York. If you’re trying to stay under $250/night or so, I’d start looking at hostel options ASAP. I would try to get that nailed down first, because that’s where you can run into major, unexpected cost issues. Given what you want to see, I’d try to stay in Manhattan, rather than one of the outer boroughs.

      My big suggestion, old-school as it may seem, would be to buy a guidebook. A first-time visit to a city like New York is the kind of situation in which having someone else help filter can be really helpful.

      A couple of things I would suggest, as a former New Yorker:
      -The walled garden at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in the far West Village – it’s this beautiful, medieval oasis that very few people seem to know about. Free.
      -The Cloister, which is the Met’s medieval art annex. It’s a long subway trip, but worth it, IMO. It’s pay what you can.
      -If you like baseball, I always loved taking the Staten Island Ferry (free) to watch a Staten Island Yankees minor league game (cheap), especially if the game will end around sunset – you get cool views of lower Manhattan coming back.
      -I would get dim sum on a weekend in Chinatown, at one of the big ol’ crowded places like Golden Unicorn (I know, everyone goes there, but I kind of enjoy the crazy scene) and then walk down through Chinatown and the old Dutch parts of the city to the South Street Seaport.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        *sniff* Golden Unicorn. And Jing Fong. I used to have a dim sum group that met at least once a month and GU was our default place. Bacon-wrapped shrimp with a side of… Pringles. I don’t know why and I don’t care.

      2. Chriama*

        Can I just walk into the Golden Unicorn or should I be making restaurant reservations in advance?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Dim sum is first-come, first-served. Expect a long wait unless you get there before 11am or after 2pm, but the best time is about 12:30, because they’ll be transitioning from loads of shumai to heartier dishes like Peking duck. You might be seated at a large table with other parties. Don’t worry about not speaking Cantonese– dim sum is all about pointing and nodding and shaking your head “no”.

          1. Lore*

            Check out which places serve weekday dim sum–much less crowded! My favorite in general is Triple 8 Palace, which is in a Chinese mall under the manhattan bridge.

      3. Blue_eyes*

        Totally agree about the Cloisters and dim sum in Chinatown. Save your ticket from the Met because it will also get you in to the Cloisters (used to be same day only, now I think it’s within the week). Museum of Natural History is also pay-what-you-can.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      If you really want to see all the major tourist attractions you should considering getting a “New York Pass” or other passbook that gets you in to lots of places. Do the math to make sure it’s worth it, but if you’re really going to see all the big things, it will save you money. Some of them also let you go to the front of the line.

      Use the subway for transportation. A 7-day unlimited pass is $30 (the equivalent of 12 rides), and works on subways and buses. Get an app that at least has the subway map (the one I use is called NYSV Pro, lots of people like HopStop which will give you directions).

      You would probably like to stay near the Times Square/Herald Square area. Hotels there often have good last minute deals for rooms that aren’t booked. You could also look further uptown like the Upper West Side to get slightly cheaper accommodations that still have great subway access to everything you want to do.

      Best FREE sightseeing tips:
      1) Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge (the Manhattan end of the bridge is very close to the courthouses, if you like Law and Order, it’s worth walking by to see the big steps they’re always coming down!)
      2) The Roosevelt Island Tramway – Roosevelt Island is a small island in the East River between Manhattan and Queens. The tram costs a subway fare (and is included in your unlimited MetroCard if you get one). You get incredible arial views of the city while on the tram, and Roosevelt Island is a pleasant place to walk around a bit and look back at the Manhattan skyline.
      3) The Staten Island Ferry. The ferry is free and departs frequently from the southern tip of Manhattan (where the ferry terminal and subway stations are conveniently called South Ferry). From the ferry you get excellent views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the harbor, and the downtown skyline.

      1. Chriama*

        Thanks for the tip on the subway pass. I know I need to look into how that whole subway system works, so that will probably be my project for this week. The ferry sounds cool, but I definitely want to go up into the Statue of Liberty so I can say I’ve done it.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          The subway isn’t too complicated (if you’ve ridden subways in other cities before), it’s just a massive system. Unlike other cities, the train’s direction will often be given as “uptown” or “downtown” or the borough it is headed to next, as well as the end point. Make sure you know which direction you need to go because some of the subway station entrances are only for one direction (generally the entrance for the other direction will be across the street in this case). Don’t be afraid to ask. Contrary to popular belief, New Yorkers are perfectly willing to give you directions – just try not to ask someone who seems to be in a hurry, because they are.

          You may want to check in advance to see if you can go up the Statue of Liberty right now. They were doing some construction for a few years and you couldn’t go up at all, but I think that’s done now. I don’t think you can go up to the crown anymore (just so you know what you’re getting in to).

          1. Lore*

            The other important thing to know about the NYC subway is that most lines have both local and express trains running to the same platform–opposite tracks, but the same platform. The express is obviously faster if you’re going to one of its stops, but will skip stops.

    5. Graciosa*

      I’m not exactly an expert on NYC, but I’ll pass on a few tidbits from my last visit.

      Unlimited subway passes for the duration of your stay are incredibly helpful – I would almost say this is a must-have item.

      My favorite experience was the Tenement Museum – probably not a top tourist attraction but definitely worth while. There are different tours to different floors, each of which represents a distinct period in NY immigrant history, illustrated with information about an actual family that lived in the building at that time. I did “Irish Outsiders” and would definitely go back for another tour at the first opportunity.

      The Metropolitan Museum was another high point, although it is absolutely overwhelming. Unless you plan to spend multiple days inside, it’s best to review the map (and list of any special exhibitions) and choose to focus on just a few areas. I managed Egyptian (including the Temple), European Paintings, and a special fashion exhibit, but that means I missed most of the museum to make sure I enjoyed and absorbed what I did see. The museum is basically in Central Park if you want to split your time.

      The 9/11 Museum was definitely upsetting, and I’m not sure I can recommend it. It’s in the category of things I did because it seemed the right thing to do, but certainly not enjoyable or even as interesting as I expected. Best part was a section that replays news casts from that day.

      I skipped the Statue of Liberty stop on that tour and spent more time at Ellis Island (still happy with that choice). The audio tour includes discussion of immigrant experiences, which was probably the highlight, but I still give the edge to the Tenement Museum.

      Theater is a big opportunity in NYC. Last minute ticket purchases can be relatively cheap if you’re flexible about what show you see. Theaters are spacing out mid-week matinees a little more so they are available on more than one day a week, however you should know this is the performance most likely to be covered by an understudy. There is a lot of talent available in NYC theater, and my favorite performance was actually a small two-man show rather than the popular musical with a huge cast and impressive staging. Theater is one area where I would take a chance.

      Another area to take a chance in NY is with food. There are fantastic (and expensive) restaurants, as well as a lot of surprisingly good cheap eats in local delis, pizza houses, and small ethnic restaurants (or even just windows where you buy food to go). If you try a lot of these, you’ll save enough overall to be able to throw away an occasional dud and try something else. The trick is finding a neighborhood area – as opposed to sticking to tourist venues – but where people live or work, there will be food to try.

      Have a great trip.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Another vote for the Tenement Museum. You should buy tickets in advance (or stop by once you’re in NYC but a few days before you want to see it) because it’s ticketed tours only. Their programming is great, and it’s really amazing what they did with this old tenement building. They even have voice recordings from a woman who actually lived in the building!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s the one place I’m so sorry I didn’t visit before we moved away. Putting it on my list for my next visit “home”. :)

        2. Steve G*

          I still haven’t been there, need to go….but a cool similar one is the police museum. Its on the very lower east side, near South St. Seaport….

        3. ProductiveDyslexic*

          Highly recommended: I did the Irish Outsiders tour in the afternoon, having spent the morning at Ellis Island.

      2. Chriama*

        Thanks for the recommendations. Did you go on an actual guided tour? What company was it with, and was it worth your money?

        1. Graciosa*

          The Tenement Museum does guided tours (Irish Outsiders was one) and the prices are available on their website. I didn’t take any other tours in New York (unless you count renting the audio guide in Ellis Island, which I do recommend) so I’m afraid I can’t speak with any authority on general city tours. I didn’t think it was likely to be a good use of time, mostly because I wanted to see what I wanted to see rather than sit on a bus (just me – you may feel differently). Sorry I’m not more help in that area –

      3. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Museums — if you think you might find the Met overwhelming (I do), try the Frick Collection. It’s relatively small and intimate since it was the Frick residence (meaning mansion, so it’s not *that* small), and has a very good collection of old masters — I love the Vermeers in particular.

        I second Soho for shopping — it’s a zoo especially on the weekend, but shops range from the extremely pricy, extremely exclusive “only in NYC” boutiques to outposts of many of the NYC department stores to bigger bargain chains like H&M, Uniglo, etc.

        I wish I’d gone on the Tenement tour last time I was there! Glad to know it will be worth it next time I’m there.

    6. Stephanie*

      I like PS 1, over in Long Island City (in Queens), which is MoMA’s smaller modern art museum. Seconding the Staten Island Ferry if you just want to see the Statue of Liberty. If you’re into improv comedy, check out Upright Citizens Brigade (which is where some famous comedians like Amy Poehler got their start). I like the High Line as well.

      Hotels in NYC can be expensive. I’d try a hostel if that doesn’t bother you. I stayed at one in Harlem that was relatively nice. If it’s still open, I’ll post the link.

      1. Chriama*

        How does a hostel differ from a hotel? I assume there aren’t any amenities, but what are the rooms like? How much privacy will we have?

        1. anony*

          Have you done much online research yet? There are loads of sites about traveling to NYC, hostels, et cetera and it might make sense to get answers to some of this basic stuff online and then utilize the people here for more specific questions that you really want a personal take on.

          Or not. Carry forth either way :-)

          1. Chriama*

            I feel kind of overwhelmed with the online research, so I was kind of hoping to narrow a few things down first. I plan to check out the hotel situation as well as nail down a complete list of places I want to check out and then hopefully make a plan from there. I’ve never planned or gone on a trip by myself so it’s hard to know where to start.

            1. Graciosa*

              This may seem simplistic, but I would start by buying a guidebook (or checking one out from your local library). There are tons for NYC, and most start out with sections on how to plan your trip, what to expect (weather, costs, transportation), and how to handle the unexpected (crime, medical emergencies) before going into the attractions at the destination. This will give you a much more systematic approach and better starting point.

              1. Chriama*

                I think that will be really helpful. At this point what I’m looking for is a step by step guide to actually planning my trip. I’ll definitely check one out. I might come back to the open thread when I have better (read: more specific) questions to ask.

        2. Graciosa*

          If you haven’t stayed in a hostel before, do some reading and make sure this is for you. Do not expect any privacy – these were originally cheap accommodations (usually rows of bunk beds) for students traveling on next to nothing financially and carrying only a backpack. Shared – sometimes communal – living is the norm, including with respect to bathrooms.

          Some have evolved since then to a slightly higher standard, and older adults use them more frequently than when they originated, but you really need to know what you’re getting into and make sure you’re not expecting a hotel room. Research the hostel very carefully if you decide to go in that direction, and have backups available (sometimes this is first-come first-serve).

          There is etiquette associated with being a good hostel guest (not taking more than your share of space or shower time, leaving the facilities in good order, avoiding noise during quiet hours, etc.) so be prepared for this as well. The good thing about hostels is that there is generally someone (often other guests) who will answer your questions and help you out a bit when you need it.

        3. Stephanie*

          It’s dormitory style, so you may be sharing a bedroom (like a bunk bed) or bathroom. You stick your stuff in a locker. When I went to NYC, there were five of us, so we just rented one big room and had a bathroom (so we had privacy, sort of). If you’re planning to use your room for sleeping only, it’s a way to save (we were barely in the hostel). Graciosa pretty much nailed the benefits and drawbacks of them.

          1. Chriama*

            That’s something to think about. I don’t want to share a bathroom with strangers (slept in old military barracks when I was in the air cadets and I don’t have fond memories), but after I price out the other things I want to do I’ll consider the hostels if I have to make the budget balance ;)

        4. Sheep*

          I stayed at Q4 hotel, which is a hostel, last time I was in NYC. I would really really recommend this hostel! I loved it! The room I stayed in was a 3-bed shared (female) room, but we were only two people in the room for the duration of my stay. Cost was around $45/night, and it was super easy to get around etc. Check out the hostels on Hostelworld.com!

    7. Hermoine Granger*

      I was born and raised in NYC so I’m familiar with things to see but not really from a tourist’s perspective. Keep that in mind with the advice that follows.

      – I’m not sure of your budget but if possible, I’d suggest that you stay in Manhattan. Hotels at or below 59th St but within the east and west boundaries of the train lines would be the best options for easy transportation.
      – You can go on guided tours of the city by bus, boat, or helicopter. However, if you have a good sense of direction and would rather move at your own pace you’ll do fine guiding yourself with a visitor’s and MTA map.
      – Many of the larger NYC museums post entrance fees but they’re actually just suggested donations. You can give change or a few bucks to enter. However, if you plan on visiting a few museums and several tourists sites you can probably save more by ponying up for a New York Pass (there’s an option for a tour-bus add-on). I wouldn’t recommend the New York CityPASS because it mostly consists of admission to museums.
      – I’d suggest walking and using the subway. If you have a smartphone you can use mta.info, Google Maps, or H0pStop (iPhone only) to get point to point directions. Avoid using the trains during rush hour if you can help it.
      – New York is a walking city, wear comfortable shoes. Also, not to be a rude New Yorker but do not block the sidewalk, subway doors, crosswalk, or anything else that prevents people from getting to where they want to go.

      Aside from those suggestions, I’d recommend visiting travel websites for photos/info about specific hotels, attractions, restaurants, etc. I hope you have a great time!

      1. Vancouver Reader*

        Definitely seconding the stay in Manhattan suggestion. We went back in ’06 and managed to book two amazing hotels for really good deals. One was an Affinia hotel and the other, I can’t remember the name, but it was really close to the UN.

        I’d suggest going to TripAdvisor for suggestions as well.

    8. Lila fowler*

      If you want to go to the crown of the Statue of Liberty, I’d book those tix months in advance for May.

      1. Steve G*

        This summer we took a ride on a tug boat from the newly renovated piers in Tribeca, near all of those “new” condos on the west side highway? Anyone else know what it is called? I can’t find it on the internet….but it zooms out right past the Statue of Liberty and back. My sister scheduled it….IDK remember what it was called, but it is off of a main pier down there, right above the first batch of condos on the west side highway….you get off on Chambers street and walk to the west side……….

    9. soitgoes*

      Don’t plan your meals ahead of time. One of the most immediately cool parts about NYC is that you can leave your hotel, start walking in a random direction, and find a restaurant or bar that suits your mood perfectly.

    10. Phyllis*

      Be prepared to stand in line for long periods for the touristy things. Also be prepared for lots of walking.

    11. Steve G*

      Penn Hotel is trashy, the rooms haven’t been updated in 30ish years. And the views are mostly into dirty courtyards filled with garbage cans, HVAC equipment, etc.

      If you are the type that goes out at night, stay in Manhattan. But if you are OK with long days (without being able to go back to the hotel during the day) go for a much cheaper hotel in Long Island City, Heck, Maspeth is only 1/2 a mile down the road and I saw another hotel go up along the Long Island Expressway last year….there are many hotels a quick subway ride or a $20 cab ride from midtown.

    12. ProductiveDyslexic*

      My friend and host strongly suggested that I read “Here is New York” by E.B. White, and I’m glad that I did.

    13. Sunflower*

      Cheap lodging in Manhattan- I would check out Pod 39/Pod 51, Row NYC, Yotel. These are all budget rooms so they are super tiny and don’t give much privacy. You can’t beat the price for the location though- there might be other hotels like these but these are the cheapest I’ve seen in NYC. IMO, any hotel room under $300 in Midtown Manhattan is a good price so these are definitely priced way below that(I think 150/nightish). Hotels in Chelsea can run slightly cheaper than other places in Manhattan.

      I would go on the MTA website and click on the subway map. I would advise you to semi-study it. You might have to make a few transfersso if you plot out where you plan to go, you can see ahead of time what lines and transfers you need to use. The good news is even if you get on the wrong line, you can keep riding and making transfers til you get the right one for no extra cost!

      Site seeing-
      – I see you are interested in street carts and I can’t recommend Halal guys enough. Street food does smell(in a good way I think) and I wouldn’t worry about food poisoning. They serve tons of people everyday.
      – I like Bryant Park and the New York Public Library. You can walk through for free and it’s beautiful.
      – Go to Times Square because you have to see it but don’t plan too much time here. I feel like once you’ve walked through it, you’ve seen it all and there’s no real reason to spend any time there. Agree with whoever below said don’t touch anyone there! Everyone is just trying to make money so just look and move along.
      – I like to run along Hudson River Park and Battery Park is pretty as well.
      – Brooklyn Bridge- number one free thing to do.

      Shopping in the East Village has a lot of cool, vintage shops. Also, most people I know who live in NYC go out drinking in the East Village

    14. Grand Canyon Jen*

      You might consider the Circle Line’s Best of NYC cruise. It’s a nice overview of the city. The boat goes literally around the island of Manhattan – under all the bridges, past the United Nations, through the harbor. The guides are pretty knowledgeable and it’s less than three hours. I used to live in Brooklyn and I took most of my out-of-town visitors on that cruise!

    15. Book Person*

      I’m a frequent business traveler to NYC, so I have a few hotel / transit recs but not much for sightseeing.

      I live in S. Ontario, and try to fly in and out of Buffalo as much as possible. Smaller airport than Pearson so it moves more quickly, parking is pretty cheap (there’s a quality inn across the street where it’s free if you stay one night), and the flights can be substantially less expensive depending on the time of year. If your friend has some flexibility in airport choice, it’s worth looking into it.

      The train or shared ride vans in from any of the airports are far cheaper than getting a cab.

      I usually stay either at the Hotel Pennsylvania or the Herald Square Hotel. Both are right near major subway hubs and are within walking distance of Times Square or the Empire State Building. Using Booking.com, I’ve always been able to find rates between $120-180/night. Both are fine; I prefer the Herald Square bc it has free wifi and it’s right next to a great chocolate bar, but the rooms are more quirky there.

      Enjoy your trip!

      1. Book Person*

        (re: Hotel rates, I should add the caveat that I’m usually travelling at less desirable times of year. But 2x year for 6 years now, and those are consistently the range of rates I’ve had at those hotels).

  21. Liblady*

    Does anyone have a recommendation for a calendar app for the iPhone 5s? I just switched from an Android phone and used the Calendar Event Reminder (CER) app and it was fantastic. I need an app that will reminder me of an event (usually just meetings or times to pick up the kids) with a really long sound. The calendar on the iPhone just seems to give a one-time reminder. I need the notification to go on until I turn it off. I don’t need a countdown function, like counting down to a birthday or vacation. Any recommendations?

    1. Natalie*

      I really like the Sunrise app, although I haven’t looked into all of the notification settings.

      Does changing the alert style to “alert” rather than “banners” help? The alert will require your acknowledgement, rather than just flashing and disappearing.

    2. Clever Name*

      I use weekcal. I’m not sure of the notification, though. I think the iPhone Notification Center is pretty weak. You can custom set calendar notifications to go off on various intervals, so you could probably set one to go off every minute or something.

  22. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Thanks to the person who suggested looking for houses in Loudoun and Fauquier counties a few weeks ago, when I was talking about wanting to buy a log home that isn’t super far from the D.C. area. I hadn’t even thought about that, and we ended up looking at a house there last weekend that we really liked, although we still want to see more.

    (And any other suggestions of other areas I should be looking are welcome, if there are additional ones!)

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Have you looked in Fredrick county (MD)? A good friend of mine grew up outside the town of Fredrick in a sweet converted barn home. A lot of the county is fairly rural, so perhaps there would be some homes in the style you’re looking for. The commuting distance from there seems about the same as the other counties you mentioned.

      1. Stephanie*

        Seconding this area. Friend’s parents live a bit south of Hagerstown and it was all rolling hills with converted farms (I think it’s Washington County). I think it’s too far to commute into DC regularly without tearing your hair out or leaving at 4 am every day, but if you only needed to go into DC a couple of times a month it could be workable.

    2. skyrat*

      I confess I am super curious what you end up with! Good luck – there are so many factors to consider.

      I was driving along 601 (Mountain ridge between 50 and 7), and I would be super tempted if I was going to build, even with the headache of extra ice and snow – the views are beautiful. I wouldn’t have guessed that a beautiful scenery meant that much too me before I moved here!

      (I spent a good chunk of this week clearing brush and small trees. My chainsaw skills continue to improve and the property looks so much better, but I don’t think that’s everybody’s cup of tea!)

    3. VintageLydia USA*

      You’re welcome! We were looking in those areas but settled on a home slightly closer to civilization. It’s gorgeous out there though!

  23. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My dog is being a total weirdo. Is there a full moon tonight??? When I came home from yoga, he was howling– something he rarely does inside– and I heard him as I walked up to the house. I thought he was hurt, so I ran up the steps and… nothing. Happy as can be. Then while I was doing laundry he started sniffing around the floor near our HVAC vent and howled so loudly I jumped and yelled at him. (He is a hound mix and has this combination howl/bark that generally means, “Mama! Mama! Something there! SHOOT IT.” I don’t shoot anything, I promise.) He keeps going over there and sniffing, putting his wet nose on the floor I steam-mopped this morning. He also started, at about 6:30pm, jumping off the sofa and sniffing (maybe even licking?) our shoes that are near the door. Every outside sound makes him jump and sit bolt upright.

    He is not ill, he is not trying to make himself throw up (I know some dogs lick the floor or lick dirt to make themselves sick), there is no one in the house but me. The most likely culprit is a cat or some kind of rodent in our crawlspace (that would explain the howling near the HVAC vent), but this is totally wacky for my generally calm buddy. Yesterday he slept all day and was snugglier than usual– maybe he has some weird doggy ailment. Sometimes I wonder if dogs get migraines.

    Anybody else’s pets starting 2015 on a weird note?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I looked– no mouse! Trust me, that was my first thought. :) We had mice in our NYC apartment, so I am hyper-vigilant. Although a mouse could be living somewhere close to the house; the mice here, thank goodness, don’t necessarily infiltrate the houses, but we are surrounded by lots of trees and leaf piles. I also try to tell myself that southern mice are cute, plump mice, like the ones in Cinderella, not the nasty, tiny, slinking through dime-sized holes kind we got in Manhattan.

        1. skyrat*

          They are all evil, if they are in my house. After reading hantavirus cases I am super psyco about them! I hope it’s not rodents – ugh!

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Me too! At the risk of being super-gender-y, my boyfriend is home now so I may send him to investigate! He, by the way, thinks it’s palmetto bugs, which is a sweet southern way of saying GIANT ASS ROACHES. The dog hates them.

            1. Stephanie*

              Are palmetto bugs the ones that fly? I remember getting the ones that fly at my apartment in Houston. They were gross. Although I preferred to deal with those over mice, especially city mice (which are smart).

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                I think they fly….? I’ve only seen a couple and they were too fat to fly. Apparently once they’re on their backs, they’re toast because they can’t figure out how to get upright. I do not have bug phobias and I have killed many a spider in my day, but those things creep me out.

    1. acmx*

      Not to that extreme, but I just attempted to walk my dog and she had to walk next to me and would stop walking a couple of times on the way back. She’s old and her hearing and sight isn’t that sharp now so I don’t know what her deal was.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I confused the heck out of Psycho Kitty by coming home early on New Years Eve, and worse on Friday (I wasn’t feeling well and worked from home Friday afternoon). On Friday, she totally thought it was food time–it was not because it was only 1 pm. Not even close, but she’s used to it being when the car pulls in. I gave her a bit of kibble, but she cried for almost fifteen minutes because I hadn’t given her the Sheba. She already looks like a little furry basketball.

      It’s getting REALLY cold so I gave her an extra blanket tonight. Her doghouse is all done up like it was during the polar vortex, so Fattykins should be just fine. :)

  24. Computer Guy Eli*

    Alright! Let’s see just how out of place I am here!

    Anyone else have frame rate issues with Dark Souls nowadays? I’ve got an old computer but it should still be able to run it well enough without it chugging like it is. What makes it worse is that there’s no graphical options I can find.

    I love the game, but I can’t get through the Undead Burg without powerleveling to the point where it’s not fun anymore.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Well, I can’t help you, but I at least know what you’re talking about! One of the guys in my D&D group loves Dark Souls. If he were more into management and workplace advice, I’m sure he’d be all over this. :)

  25. Hermoine Granger*

    Does anyone have any recommendations for personal finance or homebuying books, websites, and/or other resources? A lot of the stuff I’ve come across focuses on retirement or getting out of debt which is fine but I’d like to find stuff beyond that. I guess what I’m looking for are guides/tips about making smart financial decisions, developing responsible financial habits, and also investment portfolio ideas beyond stocks (ex: real estate, franchising, etc). I’d also like to buy my first home in the next couple of years and would like to start learning about the process of buying a home and also maintaining a home once you’re an owner. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

    1. Computer Guy Eli*

      Oh boy! I can actually help!

      Go to reddit.com/r/personalfinance

      And check out mint.com!

    2. Stephanie*

      In terms of podcasts, I like Marketplace Weekend (it comes on the radio as well).

      Mint.com (and its app) are good, my only real annoyance with it is the product placement (“You spend a lot on gas! You should get the Chase Freedom card!”)

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        Yeah. I can understand that. It is kinda malicious in how it offers you “Tips” on what you should get to save money, but I think it’s the best budgeting system around.

    3. Nurse-To-Be*

      I’m a huge fan of Gail Vaz-Oxlade. She’s had numerous tv shows here in Canada, and also has several books out. Easy to read, straight-forward financial advice written in plain English, with a bit of her trademark humour. Her best one that may cover what you’re after is “MONEY RULES – Rule your money or your money will rule you”. Her big thing is about making smart decisions and developing responsible habits – I’ve learned more from her shows and books than any other financial info I’ve ever read.

    4. Hermoine Granger*

      Thanks for the suggestions! I’ll check out the Reddit link and Marketplace podcast. I’m signed up with Mint and also signed up with Credit.com which they recommended.

      I should have listed some of the things I’ve found in my original post. A friend recommend “One Up on Wall Street” by Peter Lynch and “The Only Investment Guide You’ll Ever Need” by Andrew Tobias. I read them shortly after graduating from college and thought they were insightful but I wasn’t yet at the point where I could implement some of their suggestions. It’s too soon to recommend but I recently started reading mrmoneymustache.com and financialsamurai.com, they seem pretty ok so far.

      1. WednesdaysMisfit*

        Mr. money mustache ‘ s blog is excellent, as well as 20 something finance.com.

        I know I could get a lot of grief for suggesting this, but Dave Ramsay’s books, show, and podcasts are great too. His principles got me out of debt and allowed me to purchase a new car for cash last year.

        1. Hermoine Granger*

          20 something finance.com looks like a great find so far. I’ll add Dave Ramsey’s books to my list of items to check for at the library. Thanks!

    5. InEscrow*

      I am now in the process of buying a home/income property. Here are my suggestions, some of which have already been mentioned by others:
      1. Read every book at your library on money, investing, lifestyle, home maintenance, and so on. Don’t get stuck on any one author’s advice, just read it all and take away the parts that sing to you. For example, read “Four Hour Work Week,” by Tim Ferriss, not to buy into everything he says, but to at least think about the idea of designing your life rather than doing what everyone else does without question.
      2. Read blogs such as Mr. Money Mustache, to get a different viewpoint on retirement. His plan was to sock away as much money as possible (through simple, non-ridiculous living) and then retire at 30-something. His site also has a great community forum where people talk about everything including DIY, investing, landlording, reading and sharing ideas. It isn’t just about saving money, it’s having a purpose for the money you save.
      3. Talk to people you know or should know. When I was considering purchasing an investment property, I first sat down with a mortgage rep at my bank. She and I reviewed my financials, credit report, and goals to see what I would qualify for. Once I had an amount, I knew the range of what to look for. She has been a great source of information throughout the process and also I’m learning how my next purchase (maybe two years from now) will go as well. She was also very helpful in discussing my credit report, how to keep my score high and that type of advice. I had been putting a good chunk of money each month into a mutual fund account, so I had a solid and liquid account to work with for a down payment.
      4. I found a real estate agent through a family referral and she too has been a great source of information and I have learned a ton about buildings, what to look for, what to avoid, and putting all the numbers together to evaluate an investment.
      5. See if your state has a program for first time home buyers. You can attend some classes, and get a lower interest rate and even help with the downpayment. If this is available, take advantage of it if you meet the income guidelines.
      6. Find a great home inspector and check their education and experience and references. Find an inspector who is not a package deal with your agent/broker or the bank. You really need a disinterested party who will be honest with you. Watch “Holmes Inspection” on HGTV/Netflix to get a real education here.
      7. There is no teacher quite like doing it for real. You can read all the books and blogs but at some point, you have to dive in. The water is cold at first, but after awhile you do warm up and it isn’t something you’re doing alone — lots of professionals are there at every step.

      1. WednesdaysMisfit*

        5. I would love to know more about these classes. I’m considering buying a home in the next year or two and I will be a first time buyer.

    6. Revanche*

      As a long time PF blogger, I highly recommend blogs more than any books but I’m stating my bias right up front :)
      I don’t rely on them for advice anymore and many of the old blogs I did rely on for advice have been sold/gone defunct now, but some longtime staples are a great source of ideas to pad my family portfolio (I manage our savings plans of regular and retirement accts as well as our stocks/bonds/property):
      savespendsplurge.com is Canadian but has a good handle on a particular kind of financial habits (we’re contemporaries and both paid off a ton of debt in a short period of time, she’s much more minimalist but has good thoughts on focusing on your goals and useful spreadsheets).
      BudgetsAreSexy is a fun and useful resource.

      For homebuying, I know there are many blogs that discuss their experience but I’ll have to have a think about which blogs make better resources. I think Afford Anything might be a bit more than you want right off but she does have experience with RE investments and I could stand to use her blog more myself. :) It’s worth a read, anyway!

      I’ve been documenting my experience with RE as an investment so you’re welcome to check that out as I’d rather not rehash it here in the comments but I’m still new to this venture.

  26. Stephanie*

    What’s everyone reading?

    I just finished The Help, which was really good. I had avoided it initially because of some of the criticism, but I ended up really enjoying it.

    I also just started reading Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, which I learned about from the recent Atlantic article about the trouble with today’s military.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Usher’s Passing by Robert McCammon. I like most of his stuff, although I’m not into his books about werewolves and such.

      Next I’ll be reading Blue Labyrinth by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. I LOVE the Agent Pendergast series.

      1. miki*

        The Lost Island by Preston & Child, Blue Labyrinth is on my to read list as well. I’m a huge Pendergast fan.

      2. Alistair*

        YES, can’t wait to dig into Blue Labyrinth! Then two new James Rollins books for me. THEN, someday in the future, back to the works of Kim Stanley Robinson. Good stuff, but I need a break from the heavy reading.

    2. Computer Guy Eli*

      I seem to be vastly undercultured compared to everyone on AAM!

      I’m reading DragonLance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight.

      I might have to try reading something more substantial though…

      1. acmx*

        Heh, that was my favorite book/trilogy as a kid.

        I just finished Driving Change. Not sure what’s next. I’m doing the popsugar reading challenge so maybe I’ll finish The Book of Air and Shadow. Maybe I can finish by the year mark.

    3. danr*

      I’m re-reading Lord of the Rings. It’s been ages since I read it. Once I finish, I’ll probably start over with The Hobbit and read it and LOTR straight through.

      1. TL -*

        You are a braver person than me. I read them once and have never felt a desire to return, either through books or movies. (The Two Towers was particularly hard.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Once I finally read LOTR, I loved it. I had read The Hobbit a bunch of times since we did in school. I try to read it again every year but missed the last couple, so I read it this summer. :)

    4. V. Meadowsweet*

      ‘Broken Blade’ by Kelly McCullough and Brent Weeks’ ‘Night Angel’ trilogy

      other than that, a lot of sites trying to figure out what my new phone should be and how to get skype to email me the day’s conversations…

    5. TL -*

      Atonement, by Ian mcewen, ( sp?)
      But I just finished Jonathan Stroud’s newest children’s fantasy, the Whispering Skull, so my cultured mileage definitely varies.

    6. Felicia*

      The Secret History of Wonder Woman. It’s extremely fascinating! Anyone interested in Wonder Woman, or in feminism in that period of history would really like it. I highly recommend it! The guy who created Wonder Woman was also more fascinating than i thought and in many ways ahead of his time.

    7. blue_eyes*

      I’ve been reading a lot of young adult lit (trying to find the next book for an 8th grade student that I teach). I really liked The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer and I just got the sequel (The Lord of Opium) from the library. The books take place along the U.S.-Mexico border in a dystopian future.

      I also just finished The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth. It’s about a lesbian teen coming of age in 90s Montana. It was a great read.

      Right now I’m reading Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, and really enjoying it.

      1. Aam Admi*

        I just started ‘The Gold Diggers’ by Charlotte Gray. It is about the Yukon gold rush of 1896. The book is unputdownable. I would have read through the night to finish it if I hadn’t made a new year resolution to get to bed at a decent time on weekends.

      2. Liane*

        For your student, if they liked Hunger Games, you might look into Suzanne Collins’ earlier Gregor the Overlander series. It’s aimed at younger kids–my son introduced me to it when he was in 4th or 5th grade–but we both enjoyed it. I think Sister & Dad read & liked them too.

        1. Liblady*

          I second Gregor the Overlander series. It’s got a lot of action but not violent like the Hunger Games. I also recommend Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson and the Boy Nobody series by Allen Zadoff.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            Thanks for the recommendations Liane and Liblady! I’ll have to add them to my (ever-increasing) reading list.

    8. Kay*

      I just finished a couple books. Orphan Train for my book club was really good. I also just read the YA novel Between the Lines. It was written by Jodi Picoult and her daughter Samantha Van de Leer. Really interesting concept!

    9. CreationEdge*

      Currently reading Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us.

      Just finished 1-2-3 Magic: Effective Discipline for Children 2-12.

      Next on my list is to reread the Mistborn trilogy.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Oooh! I love stuff like that. Heading to the library today to stock up and sadly they do not have it, but thank you for reminding me to look for books like that. (A favorite of mine is What Charles Dickens Ate and What Jane Austen Knew by Daniel Pool.)

      2. the gold digger*

        You would probably like Bill Bryson’s, “At Home.” It’s about life in an old house in England and how people got lead poisoning from the paint on the walls.

        1. Diet Coke Addict*

          On a similar but more scholarly note, Judith Flanders’ works are excellent and in the same vein. I haven’t read her new one, The Victorian City, but The Victorian House and Consuming Passions are both utterly engrossing. Consuming Passions is about leisuretime activites and it’s just fascinating.

          1. Lore*

            I think she has a mystery novel coming out later this year, too, and if I’m going to read a historical I want its history to be spot-on, so this seems like a good bet!

      3. Elizabeth West*

        Ooh, thanks for this. I put it on my wish list. I’m thinking about writing something set in that period and this sounds like it would be a big help. :D :D :D

    10. Lizzie*

      I’m in between books (last one I finished was Jon Krakauer’s “Into Thin Air,” which was great), but I think I’m going to start “To Be a Friend is Fatal” by Kirk W. Johnson next.

    11. Jean (on Jan 4 at 8:45 am)*

      About 10 days ago I finished “The Golem and the Jinni” by Helene Wecker for my book club. It’s about two non-human creatures (I don’t want to spoil it by saying more) who find themselves living in late 19th/early 20th-century New York city. I really enjoyed the book because it allowed me to time-travel back to that era. Don’t ask me why I enjoy it so much–what’s so great about living in overcrowded tenements?!–but I do. One of my all-time favorite books, “Time and Again,” by Jack Finney, deals with travel between that era and the present.

      “How to be Victorian” is going onto my to-read-soon list.

      Unrelated: How do y’all format the italics in your comments?! No luck here. I’m typing on an iMac in the Chrome browser, if that’s significant.

      1. TL -*

        I just read the Golem and the Jinni a few months ago and really enjoyed it! I thought it was a great take on the immigrant experience. :)

    12. Josine*

      I’ve been finishing up the fantastic Fables comics, and Castle Waiting by Linda Medley (wish there was more written of it) – I love reinterpreted fairytales. If anyone else does as well, Godmother: the Secret Cinderella Story by Carolyn Turgeon is also recommendable. :)

    13. Diet Coke Addict*

      I finished Yes Please and now I’m reading People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry, which is about the abduction and murder of a British woman in Japan in 2000. I almost never read true crime, but this is exceptionally good–I hate reading true crime that seems to sensationalize all the goriest aspects of crime, but this focuses much more on the woman, her family, the area of Tokyo she was living in, and the social aspects of it. It’s terrific and very engrossing.

      1. Elkay*

        I’m reading Yes Please. I’m not sure about it, possibly because I never watched SNL (I’m not in the US) a lot of it goes over my head.

    14. Mimmy*

      I’m not a big reader, at least not of anything sophisticated, lol. But I just downloaded to my Kindle a sample of “David & Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants, by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s one my counselor suggested a long time ago, and I just got around to looking for it the other day.

      Other than that, I tend towards lighter material (e.g. Mary Roach) or books related to Disability Studies. Sometimes I’ll read memoirs / autobiographies too if I think it’ll be interesting.

      1. Alistair*

        I greatly enjoy Gladwell. I think he can take complicated ideas, and not only break them down easily, but also provide real examples. I’m not always one hundred percent behind his ideas, but they are very thought provoking.

        I’ve only read Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. Is her other stuff just as good?

        1. Mimmy*

          The one Mary Roach book I read was called “My Planet”, which is a collection of articles she’s written over the years for Readers Digest. Some were funny! I may have to check out the one you read.

    15. littlemoose*

      I’m finishing up Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings, which I have enjoyed. Way too many books waiting for me next!

    16. Elizabeth West*

      I just finished Stephen King’s Revival. It was pretty good. :) And I bought Preston and Child’s latest, Blue Labyrinth, which I think is the newest Pendergast novel. I freaking LOVE those.

      However, I shall have to put it on hold because my reading/research list for this book and for other projects is absolutely insane. I have at least six things I need to read, plus scripts, websites, etc.

  27. The Other Dawn*

    I’ve been trying to think of a new blog idea. I currently blog about my weight loss surgery, which is basically me posting up my meals, trying recipes, and talking about my life in general. You know, boring stuff. I want to something different and totally anonymous so I can be someone completely different. Or maybe a better version of me. My blog is somewhat anonymous in that my last name and location are not attached to it. Just my first name. I’d love to do something along the lines of cooking. I have a bunch of cookbooks and got a couple more for Christmas. I thought about a blog where I review recipes that I follow to the letter. As anyone who cooks knows, some recipes are great and others can be a train wreck yielding some really bland food or weird textures, etc. What do you think? Anyone have any ideas they’d like to share?

    1. hermit crab*

      I would read a blog like that! I think it has the potential for being really funny, as well as useful. Besides, it drives me crazy when I look up a recipe online and the comments section is full of “this is a fabulous recipe, I just tweaked it a bit by changing 100% of the ingredients.”

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes! I hate when reviewers do that. I can see if you make it as-is and then in the review you say, “it was good, but next time I will add (fill in the blank).” If you’re tweaking it and reviewing it at the same time, then you really didn’t make *the recipe*.

        Hmmm, so what would I name the blog? “Does your recipe suck?” I thought about, “Your recipe sucks!” But that won’t be true of all recipes. I don’t know. Something to think about. I need something that reflects the real me.

        Anyone here read the Thug Kitchen blog? It just cracks me up, and that’s the way I talk a lot of the time.

  28. Steve G*

    Anyone know of any good youtube to MP3 converters? Every one I am trying wants you to download a bunch of side-software and still don’t work, or they have serious limits on the size of files, etc……

      1. Steve G*

        keepvid looks like it is for downloading a video and keeping it as a video….I want to download music and convert it to MP3 and burn to a CD, can this site be used for that? I don’t want to install another one and then have it not work…….

        1. Computer Guy Eli*

          Normally it gives you the option of what format to save it as, as long as it lends itself to it.

    1. Mephyle*

      I’m satisfied with one called YouTube to MP3.app. It doesn’t seem to have any pesky side-effects, and I haven’t run into any file size limits. I’ve mostly used it for getting audiobooks off YouTube.

  29. Ali*

    Any other distance runners here on AAM? I am planning on doing my first day of Couch25K tomorrow or Monday, depending on how the weather here shakes out. I’m hoping to work up to a half marathon later this year, so maybe September-October. It’s ambitious, but I’d rather give it a shot than not try at all!

    1. A Teacher*

      I’m doing couch to 10k now, although now that the weather has gotten crappier (Illinois) I’m going slowr with it. I like the intervals you can do with the program, I’d like to find another app that let me do more interval running than c25k/10k do.

    2. Stephanie*

      Not a distance runner, but I picked up running again in the last couple of months. Big thing I would recommend is to work on going further (versus faster) first. I’m learning now it’ll take some time to get strong enough to get a faster pace. My pace can feel frustratingly slow (and not a lot faster than a brisk walk), but I keep telling myself speed’ll come as I get in better shape.

      1. TL -*

        Just think of yourself as a super speedy turtle – that was what I did! But speed training is different from distance training ( even if you’re speed training for distance events) so if you’re just running to run, don’t worry about your time.

        1. TL -*

          That being said, there are some workouts you can do to pick up speed, if you want to. They break up the monotony of straight out distance running if that’s what you’re doing now.

    3. Trixie*

      A good playlist helps. Mellow while warming up, mild as you get going, then really high energy for sprints.

  30. Carlotta*

    Trigger warning – this is a little heavy.

    I am asking this on behalf of my cousin “Bianca” (with permission). She came to me about something she’s really upset about but I don’t know how to help her, and I’m hoping maybe some of you do.

    Bianca is 21 and has been with her first ever boyfriend for just over a month. They recently tried to have sex, but she got scared and stopped him. I’ve only met her boyfriend once, but she swears he is a really nice guy who cares about her and was not pressure-y at all. She says he offered to go sleep in a different room when she looked upset, but didn’t understand what the problem was.

    Bianca is a virgin but she says she told her boyfriend she isn’t because she’s afraid he will tell other people. (She apparently made up some story for her friends about hooking up a few years ago, because they were making fun of her for still being a virgin.)

    The reason Bianca got scared was because when her boyfriend touched her it reminded her of something that happened to her when she was a little kid. Her older brother sexually abused her when she was six or seven, and he was 13 or 14. He didn’t rape her, but he would manipulate her and bribe her to undress and he would touch her genitals and make her promise never to tell anyone. She says she only remembers a couple of incidences but there may have been more; she can’t be sure.

    Now, she really wants to sleep with her boyfriend but is too scared to let her boyfriend touch her and she doesn’t know what to tell him. She said she’s hooked up with guys before but she’s never let them touch her below the waist; she always just goes down on them and then once they’ve gotten what they wanted, they don’t protest too much about the rest. Now, she’s met someone she really wants to be intimate with and she doesn’t know what to do.

    She wants to tell him but she’s scared it will change things for good and that he’ll see her as a victim if he stays with her, or that he’ll stay with her just because breaking up with her would make him feel like a bad guy. She said to me that she wants to tell him something like “I would never think badly of you if walk away from this. It’s a lot to put on another person.”

    So I said to her “It’s not your fault”. And she said “I know that. But it’s not his fault either, and he deserves to be with someone who’s not like me.”

    I don’t even know what to say to her. When she told me, I just held her and we cried. I am so shocked and heartbroken for her, and I literally cannot comprehend how anyone can do that to a pre-pubescent child or how anyone can even want to do that. (She still lives with the brother, by the way.) What would you guys do? Should she tell her boyfriend the truth? It would feel nuts to me to tell something like that to someone you’ve known for a month, but she needs to tell him something.

    1. CreationEdge*

      A month into a relationship is pretty early to be discussing the reasons behind her fear, but she can still discuss things with her boyfriend without broaching that particular topic.

      For instance, she could explain to him that she just needs more time to be intimate in that way. She thought she was ready, but she isn’t.

      If this new beau sticks around, then once their relationship has grown she could get into more details if she wanted. It’s a trust issue to tell someone about any abuse you’ve received in the past. So, the relationship needs to establish that trust, first.

      Even then, she could avoid the detail of her brother. That information would, to me, call for greater trust. Not to protect the abuser, but simply to avoid giving specific details out.

      Women wanting control over their bodies and what’s done to them is a right your cousin has. She shouldn’t feel ashamed that she’s not ready for that type of intimacy. She doesn’t need to feel guilty about not wanting intercourse, especially so early in the relationship. Plenty of females wouldn’t want to, regardless of whether or not they’ve been abused. It’s good enough to tell the partner “I want to wait” or “I’m not ready”.

      I can tell you with conviction that situations like your cousins, in which sex is about to begin but gets stopped because of the woman’s fears, happen to all sorts of women for all sorts of reasons. These incidents do not make a women unworthy or un-dateable. However, they do act as a good test of the partner’s character.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        She needs to get some counselling to help deal with this. She should seek a counsellor who is skilled and experienced in treating people who have been sexually abused.

        1. Anon for this*

          I agree. I was abused as a child and while I didn’t have trouble with sexual intimacy later on, I did have trouble w/emotional intimacy and counselling helped tremendously with that.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      On the issue of being a virgin; I’m 26 and I have never had sex (of any kind). I don’t think it is as unusual as your cousin might think to be a 21 year old virgin. It’s more unusual a few years later at my age, but I’ve found that more people than I expected will admit they haven’t had sex or don’t have sex (anymore) through choice, once they know the same about me. (my reason is down to what some people call asexuality. Ie. Lack of sexual feelings towards any gender).

      She may wish not to disclose to her partner about her past abuse yet, but I think she should tell him she has not had sex before. It helps explain why she’s scared and doesn’t leave him thinking that she’s done it with other guys but cant with him, therefore thinking the problem is with him specifically.

      And also its not good to feel you need to lie about past hook ups just to stop people teasing you. Her sex life shouldn’t be anyone’s business unless she wants it to be. I know I don’t know her or these friends but I’d be inclined to say ditch the friends that she needs to lie to about herself so they wont tease her. Sounds more like bullies than friends.

    3. Computer Guy Eli*

      I have nothing of substance to say other than… If she’s not comfortable telling this guy she’s a virgin because she thinks he’ll tell other people maliciously… Why is she comfortable having sex with him? If she’s not comfortable telling this person why she has issues being intimate with him… Why is she comfortable doing something what she was going to do?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I tend to agree. I really don’t think this is Mr. Right, if she cannot explain all this stuff to him. Not the answer she wants to hear, probably. But if he is going to blab about their sex life or spread it all over about her molestation, this is probably not a guy to keep around.

        Conversely, it could be that they are not far enough into the relationship yet for her to be sleeping with him. He sounds like he might be an okay guy, but she may need more time getting to know him first.

        1. Winter*

          I think that one month isn’t enough time to know if someone can keep a secret. It sounds like she’s playing it safe, which is the right thing to do. You don’t really know someone until you’ve been with them longer.

      2. Andrea*

        I think when someone is first processing a trauma it’s hard to talk about, I wouldn’t place much emphasis on who she can and can’t tell right now considering she hasn’t even processed it herself. Odds are there’s lots of therapy or other self-care in her future.

      3. Lamb*

        My guess would be that she told him those things (or he heard them, since she told the group that was teasing her, and they don’t seem like they’d keep her secrets) before she liked and trusted him enough to have sex with him, and now it’s pretty awkward to be like “hey dude, I lied to you about some stuff a while ago”.
        Also, no one has the right to this information about her. It’s her history to share or not share as she chooses.

    4. Jean*

      You are a mentsch for being so supportive of your cousin.
      CreationEdge speaks wisely on many topics: “Bianca” can tell her boyfriend enough information to convey her desire to wait for greater intimacy without having to share her entire story; yes, it’s okay to wait (for all kinds of reasons); and yes, this is a “good test of the partner’s character.”
      Ditto to Fish Microwaver’s suggestion to find a counselor with specific skills and experience. I’d add that therapy can be difficult, but the therapist has to be a good fit. It’s okay to consult with more than one person, even after several sessions.

    5. matcha123*

      First, there is nothing wrong with being a virgin at 21. I was a virgin waaaaay past that time and felt no shame about it. I don’t know who would even tease someone about something like that.

      Next, one month into a relationship is quite early to be getting into anything related to sex; she should not feel bad for stopping him. If there is someone she wants to talk to about her past, I think she should. If she feels like she’s mainly settled her feelings, that’s also fine. But I strongly recommend that she get to know the guy better before she commits herself to anything.

      And if they break up without doing anything, that is fine too! There is no rush. If you’re going to have sex with someone, it should be someone you feel comfortable with.

      1. Anpersonymous*

        Oh yes they can tease or just be downright mean. I knew someone in college who assumed I was a virgin because I never told her otherwise. She once hushed a conversation about sex because there were virgins at the table. I heard her and glared at her. She caught my eye. I knew it was me and someone else she was talking about.

    6. fposte*

      I think Bianca’s getting therapy is the most important thing here. The way she’s thinking really can’t be unpacked without it. I think telling boyfriend “I’m not ready” is good plan, and ideally she’d stop lying to him and stop pre-planning her acceptance of his dumping her (though I do wonder that to her feels like a bit of a test of him as well as part of her internalized shame and devaluation). But mostly I don’t care about what happens to the relationship as much as I care about her getting some therapy.

    7. Research Officer*

      I’m surprised no one has said this, but it’s buried at the end of the story so perhaps it’s overlooked. If she’s still living with the person who abused her, I’m not sure how healing can happen. She was abused by someone, she’s still living with this person, and (I’m assuming) he intimidated her into not telling others in the past – none of that is ok. Perhaps before therapy (since that right fit could take awhile to find) a hotline could help. Quick google came up with National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.

    8. BRR*

      I don’t think it’s a virgin issue, I think it’s much more an abuse issue. It sounds like she should seek out professional help to help her heal. I’m not sure the relationship she has with her brother now but it could be possible healing won’t happen when they live together. I’d also go so far as to say he should pay for all counseling. Just remember to tell her she did nothing wrong, her brother did and if the bf is a good guy sex won’t be the most important thing to him.

      1. fposte*

        While that may feel like justice (hell, she could probably still press charges if she wanted, since in most states the statute of limitation on childhood sexual abuse gives you a window once you become adult), I don’t think she’d have the wherewithal to confront her abuser to insist he pay for therapy before she gets the therapy. It also isn’t clear that she’s ever told their parents, or anybody but Carlotta, and that’s likely to be a tough conversation to have without therapeutic support.

        1. BRR*

          I think overall a big thing is her current relationship with her brother. But first she should seek professional help.

        2. Carlotta*

          I’m the first person she’s ever told. She’s says she’ll never tell her parents because it would rip apart her family. Her and her brother have a neutral relationship; they’ve never spoken about the abuse since it happened. She said she didn’t really understand the nature of what was happening to her until she was older, and now that she’s found someone else she wants to experience those things with, she’s having to really think through what happened to her and now she feels so disgusting.

          1. Brenda*

            It is completely not her fault that that happened to her, and it sounds like she really should see a therapist to process what happened to her, and also try to move out of a situation where she has to live with her brother, if at all possible. I also think she should tell her boyfriend that she’s a virgin. It will explain her fear to him while allowing her to not tell him about the abuse yet if she doesn’t want to. It sounds like he’s a nice guy and reacted kindly when she didn’t want to go further. If he really is a good guy, he’ll be understanding and wait till she’s ready. If he pressures her or blames her, or even gets angry at her for lying about being a virgin, that would be a sign that he’s not the right guy for her. She’s already feeling “disgusting” and blaming herself for what happened – she’s in a vulnerable mental state and the last thing she needs is someone who’s going to reinforce that by pressuring her.

            1. Lamb*

              I definitely agree with this. She can tell him she’d been saying she had had sex because she didn’t like how some people treated her as “the Virgin Bianca”, but the fact is she hasn’t and isn’t ready yet.
              She can stop at that and see how he reacts. If they stay together she can at a later time let him know that there was a “negative experience” that she is working through (once she finds a professional she trusts) without having to divulge any details if she doesn’t want to.

              1. Lamb*

                Also, kudos to you Carlotta for (it sounds like) not judging her for wanting to have sex with him at the one month mark or questioning her on whether she’s really ready or he’s really the right guy. With how she’s already judging herself, your support is so valuable.

          2. Andrea*

            I don’t know anything about children who a use other children, but I’d imagine there is a lot to work through here. I’ve been in therapy before, and by far the most helpful advice is to remember that therapists are individuals too so it may take meeting a few before finding one that she can work with. I found that part especially hard to be patient with for myself, so I imagine gently normalizing that part of the process and being there for her while she searches for ways to talk about this and for someone safe to help her would be a huge help to her.

      2. Winter*

        But the brother was a minor too at the time, maybe only 13 years old. Without more information, it’s hard to say if he knew what he was doing was wrong or had any understanding of the damage it could cause. He probably needs therapy too. It’s possible that he also had been abused by someone.

        1. very anon*

          Regular commenter; very anon for this. Seconding this comment – I’ve lived through a similar situation. This stuff is infinitely more complex when the abuser is a child.

    9. asteramella*

      This would be a really good situation for her to talk to someone at a rape crisis center. She does not have to report the abuse if she doesn’t wish to. Any sort of counseling (through school, EAP, sliding scale counseling for trauma victims) would also be a good idea.

      1. Lamb*

        I think (at least in the US, not sure about internationally) RAINN is also supposed to be a good resource.

    10. Frustrated....*

      Remember when being a virgin at 21 was considered the norm??? What’s the rush? And after only a month? C’mon folks, when did being a virgin become such a bad thing?
      If she’s not close enough to tell him the reasons, she’s not close enough for sex with him.
      Intimacy is about waaaay more than sex.
      Tired of the social mob mentality that it’s okay to sleep around with whomever as soon as possible, get pregnant, risk STDs and use & abuse others but make a choice to abstain and you are a loser. Someone to be mocked and ridiculed. WHY???
      Get your education, a job, an independent life BEFORE sex please.

      And if she’s still sharing living space with her abuser she needs out now! And a trained counselor.

      (sorry, yeah, kinda a trigger here)

  31. Cool Beans*

    Any suggestions for how to repurpose a banana hanger? I ended up with 2 and want to make use of both.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      Tried to post last night but my phone was being dumb. What about a fun hanging knick knack or ornament, and displaying it on a bookshelf or side table?

    2. asteramella*

      Look up hanging glass globes!! You can put an air plant or succulent in them. Some Etsy sellers make terrariums out of them! I also saw a novelty item the other day that was like a hanging papasan chair to put your phone in (Pier 1, I think).

  32. Tara*

    Any journal writers out there? My attempts at journal keeping over the years have been largely unsucessful, and I decided senior year was the best time to give it another try. Any tips on what to write / when to write / how to stay commited?

    As I was digging up the many, many journals I have with only a few pages filled up I found one from 2005. My 8-year-old self would like everyone to know that I have decided to never, ever clean my room without complaining ever again.

    1. chai tea*

      I’ve journaled on and off for the last 15 years. Sometimes I write every day, sometimes I take months or even a year off, but I always come back to it. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself. I used to get weighed down by the “I have to catch up on everything” mentality, and then I’d never write anything! Instead, I allow myself to write for two minutes if that’s all I have time for. I can scribble down an idea or even just a few words to trigger memories in the future. And if it turns into an eight-page entry, great! But I try not to have any expectations about what I’ll write. The only important thing is to commit to writing. But when, where, and how long is up to you. Good luck!

    2. Steve G*

      I don’t think it matters what you write, just try to write anything every week or so. I recently found the one and only one I ever did from 1990-1991, when I was 9-10. It is hilarious. I bet that when you were older you won’t care what you wrote, it will just be cool to read SOMETHING from that time. My write-ups in my journal about my NKOTB concert and the Gulf War were hilarious to read as an adult – the first was so ridiculous, the latter made us laugh because it sounded like a PHD wrote it, so many big words for a 10 yo!

    3. Sugar Glider*

      I have a diary and I struggled with regularly writing it as well. In the past when I write an entry, I tried to write my entire day. It was obviously very tiring and it sometimes took more than one day for me to finish it. I’ll say to just write an entry when you have time, write only the significant events that you can remember so far in your day, and if an interesting past fact pops into your head again, then you can write it in your current entry and note that how it is referring to the past. As for what to write, you can write what happened to in a day, an interesting book you read, a joke you find funny/ironic, and something that can make you de-stress, in case you ever get stress. For me, I always think that it is worth committing to writing a diary because you want the future generations of your family/community to have a average person’s perspective of what is like living in this time. I used this way of committing because it annoys me that most of history is written by the social elite.

    4. Perpetua*

      How about trying one of the One Line a Day journals (I won’t post a link so that the comment doesn’t go into moderation, but they’re really easy to google)? I had similar issues as you and the above commenters, feeling that I had to write everything or do it “the proper way”, which of course led to started and abandoned journals. Then in 2011, I had gotten a small journal with just a little space to write in for each day and I decided to give it a go. More than 3 years later, I have a journal entry for every single day since that day in late 2011. :) Mid-2013, I bought myself a One Line a Day journal and it’s pretty fun to see your entry from the year(s) past as you’re writing your current one.

      No pressure is the key , I agree with others, and for many of us the space limitation works in removing some of that pressure. There’s the saying that what you do regularly matters much more than what you do once in a while, so find a way to journal that makes it easy and fun for you to do so. :)

    5. VintageLydia USA*

      I just started a gratitude journal. I figured writing with a specific purpose in mind that was overall positive would help me twofold 1) to get in the habit of writing daily and 2) keep a more positive frame of mind. I have a tendency to wallow in negative feelings.

    6. Trixie*

      I thought about a journal with the new year but have been circling around a gratitude jar. Every day or couple days writing down what I’m grateful for and leaving in jar. End of the year, looking back at all I have to be grateful for. Or maybe I’ll bounce back and forth, lots of flexibility.

  33. WednesdaysMisfit*

    To give or not to give?

    Piggybacking off a question that was posed in Friday’s thread, should you continue to give gifts to people who can’t or don’t say thank you or at least show appreciation?

    Example: I used to give Christmas gifts to all of the small kids in my family. The kids didn’t appreciate/like the gifts or even say thanks – in fact, they would make a “face” and literally toss it into the pile of gifts they received. I stopped giving after that.

    1. WednesdaysMisfit*

      Piggybacking off of my piggyback, but when did young kids (say 7 years old and younger) start asking for ipads, ipods, and iphones? Or maybe it’s just the kids in my family…

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Nope, my daughter asked for one too, and she’s 5. They use iPads (or other types of tablets) at school. She’s in kindergarten, so they start them early. All the testing is done on either tablets or laptops. The days of the number 2 pencil and the bubble sheet are gone, at least at the elementary school level. So that’s why she asked for one.

        We did not get her an iPad, or a Chromebook or anything else too pricey. I found a generic tablet on Amazon for $60. It turns out that it won’t run Flash Player, so I can’t load the 2 educational apps on it that I wanted to. I found some website that talks about changing the root directories or something to run it, but that is WAY beyond my abilities. So I just downloaded some free games for her to play, and she loves it. I put the 2 educational apps she likes on my tablet, and let her use it.

        If she takes care of the cheapo tablet, then we’ll talk about upgrading her to a nicer one. It’s what we did with my older daughter. She asked for an iPod when she was about 7. So we found her a cheap MP3 player and told her if she took good care of it, we’d get her an iPod.

        1. CreationEdge*

          Adobe hasn’t supported flash for mobile devices in quite awhile. However, if it’s a web-based app that you need to access that uses flash, then install the Dolphin browser from the Play store (assuming it’s an Android device). Dolphin has a built-in Flash workaround that allows it to load many Flash-based websites fairly well.

          I had to do this even on my nice Galaxy Tab Pro so I could access a college course textbook site.

        2. matcha123*

          Have you heard of School Zone? It’s a company based out of Michigan that makes educational materials. I know my mom used their flashcards with me when I was a kid.

          They have a tablet pre-loaded with educational games for kids, if you are interested in things like that.
          I use a lot of their things for the kids I tutor. I’d like to get the tablet for some of the more motivated kids, but it’s a bit out of my price-range.

      2. matcha123*

        I think it’s iPads, etc. because that’s the popular electronic item these days, but when I was a kid (4-6ish) I wanted:

        Fisher Price roller skates, Nintendo GameBoy, Sony CD player and a whole bunch of branded stuff. And, no, mom, COBY is not SONY, pls do not even, ktnkxbai.

        Finally got my GameBoy 3.5 years ago from a coworker who decided she was too old for it…She’s the same age as me!

    2. Graciosa*

      The only reason I can see for continuing to give gifts to people who don’t appreciate them is when making the effort is going to matter a great deal to you or a close relative.

      For example, a parent near end of life can be affected by a changing mental state that means they no longer react the same way to gifts, but you or your spouse may feel better knowing you continued trying to make the effort as long as they were alive. In this case, it’s clearly something you are doing because you will feel better having done it and not because it matters to the recipient.

      Otherwise, I see no problem with creating a clear correlation between gift giving and good manners in receiving gifts.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This is a really good answer. I have put a lot into some family members that are reeally struggling on more than one level. I think that one of the things that happened was I never even once thought about being thanked. I knew it was the right thing to do, I know I could get some small help to them so I just did it. And I would do it again in a heart beat.

        There have been other times when I have seen my gift get trashed with in minutes of opening the present, or I have not hear that the present was received, etc- those times I gave up.
        When gift giving becomes a big deal, it’s time to look at the health of the relationship.

    3. matcha123*

      If they can’t say “thank you,” don’t give them anything. Give their parents a present instead or someone else one.

      I didn’t really have family members to give me presents when I was younger, but when I would get presents from one of my mom’s friends, it was usually something I wasn’t interested in. I knew well enough to smile and say “thank you” and play with it for a bit in front of them, but what I really wanted was something else.
      (Something else would have been Baby-sitters Club books or Boxcar Children books or something like that rather than a minority Barbie doll…)

    4. AdAgencyChick*

      I admit that I “feed the beast,” and the beast is my dad. I like to spend time choosing the perfect gift, but for him I don’t bother, because if I spend zero time and accidentally buy him something he already has five of, I get exactly the same reaction as I do if I carefully select something “just so.” At best, there’s a grunted “thanks,” at worst, I’ve actually gotten, “Why didn’t you get me ____ like I asked for?” (Because I hate treating present-giving occasions like “give me your shopping list,” Dad. Ugh.)

      He’s a cranky pain in the ass, but as long as my mother stays married to him, it’s worse not to give him anything than to give him things. (If I don’t get him anything I’ll never hear the end of it.) He’s 71 years old and he’s not going to change. So I just give him stuff and spend zero time thinking about what to get him. I also spend as little as possible.

      Then he wonders why my niece, who writes lovely thank-you notes and is wonderfully appreciative of everything we get her, is the one my husband and I take to fancy dinners and give the best presents to. *eye roll*

    5. BRR*

      My mom always taught me when you stop saying thank you you stop getting gifts. To this day my aunts are still kind enough to send birthday gifts and I send a hand-written thank you note the day after.

  34. Random Q*

    Have you all taken a ethics course in your field of study? I have taken one in the past and I am going to take one next week; unfortunately, I feel that what is taught in ethics courses are difficult to follow in real life. Does everyone have a similar feeling? I would like to raise this issue to my professor and possibly have a lively discussion about this.

    1. CreationEdge*

      I took an Ethics intro course shortly after HS. It ostensibly was about learning of the different ethical models, how they relate to various fields, and how they succeed and fail. However, I feel that what I really learned from this course is the importance of developing my own reasoned ethical codes of conduct.

      So, I wasn’t taught “In X situation do Y”, but to critical evaluate X from various angles and determine an appropriate Y that is consistent with the ethical behavior expected of myself (whether those expectations are my own or from some aithority).

      It was a worthwhile course, and I definitely apply the principles I learned to my life and work.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Hard, and then sometimes seemingly impossible. I think it is because there are so many variable to consider that it is almost impossible to consider every variable.

      Some of the questions in my environmental ethics course had me banging my head against the wall. Do rocks have rights? Is it morally wrong to kill a virus that is toxic to people? And on, and on.

      It will make you think that is for sure.

      I do know this. The more you try to do the right thing, the more apparent the answers become. Each hurdle we jump, lays the foundation for considering how to get through the next hurdle.

    3. it happens*

      Professional ethics courses do tend to be ‘check the box’ exercises – good for you for trying to make it more interesting for the whole class. A great (short) book on business ethics is Giving Voice to Values by Mary Gentile. It’s a much more practical approach – and by practical I mean it actually gets you to practice saying the things you would say in a professional situation that makes you feel uncomfortable – so you are prepared if you actually encounter one in real life.

      1. Random Q*

        I like that her book focus on fending off pressures instead of lecturing on what is ethics and what is considered good moral. Does her book also touch on fending off other pressures besides those from the workplace, such as culture, family, etc.?

        1. it happens*

          It could – once you have the tools to understand and express your values you can apply them anywhere…

    4. Mimmy*

      My profession requires at least 5 CE units on ethics to maintain licensure, so I’ve taken a few in the past 7-8 years. The only really useful one was interactive – the instructor put up some scenarios and asked the participants to discuss potential responses.

  35. Computer Guy Eli*

    I assume alot of city folk are here, so this is the place to ask!

    I’ve grown up all of my 19 years in a city of Montana with less than three thousand people, but I feel like I should move to a big city like NYC. I don’t care much for nature, I’m a computer geek, and I feel like the Blue Sky Country isn’t fast enough for me.

    That said, the thought of moving to a city scares the hell out of me.

    Finding a job aside, the money you folks spend on housing is ridiculous! 900 dollars a month for an apartment? I pay 660 a month for my five bedroom, three bathroom house! And my GOD what ya’ll spend on food is mindboggling. Maybe this is me disillusioning myself to the whole idea, but the fact that more people are moving to urban areas than rural must mean something.

    My concern is: I have no degree. I have very little experience. I’d have to make triple what I do now to live as I do now. I have no idea what living in a city would be like. I really really want to do it though. I suppose I’m asking for personal opinions to try to get a better picture of the situation.

    Thanks bros!

    1. Stephanie*

      You should go for it! Now’s the time to try it (i.e., when you’re young and relatively obligation-free). If you hate it, you can head back to a rural area. My guess as to the shift to urban areas is probably due to overall changes in the economy (fewer farmers, more service-based instead of manufacturing jobs).

      No clue about the degree–it might hurt you, but IT hiring sounds like its own animal. That being said, I don’t think any of the IT guys at my old company had a degree (but they did have experience). If you’re working now, try to get some good experience and use that to get a job in a bigger market. You might have to identify somewhere first and move there.

      In terms of COL differences, it’s definitely not some binary setup where it’s $660 for a house (?!?!?!) or $1700 for a studio. There are plenty of more affordable cities that will have a faster pace than small town Montana with a bit less sticker shock. Somewhere expensive like NYC might be tough without a ton of experience or a degree, since you might not be able to get a decent-paying job (which would make it tougher to enjoy the city).

    2. nicolefromqueens*

      I’d like to know where these $900/month apartments are in NYC! :-/
      The rental market in NYC is unbelievable right now. $900/month is more like sharing an apartment with 2 or more other people in Brooklyn or Queens.

      You’d be best to save up for a while (ideally, at least six months of all of your living expenses before moving here– rent/utilities, food, phone, transit), and looking for a room in someone else’s apartment or house. Unless you have rich parents it would be extremely difficult if not impossible for you to come from Montana at your age and get your own apartment, especially in a good neighborhood. And if you go month-to-month as a roommate, you’re not contractually obligated to the apartment, which would work out if you decided NYC wasn’t for you.

      I’m 30 and I have a FT job (and I have worked additional PT jobs over the last year), and still couldn’t get a lease for a studio or 1BR in the South Bronx because landlords and realtors want 3 things: 1) an annual income of 40x the monthly rent (at a steady job of at least a year, sometimes two); 2)a credit score of at least 700 (or “no delinquencies”), and; 3)former landlord references. Some were willing to lease if one of these is questionable/non-existent as long as the other two are “stellar”. And like I said, this was the South Bronx. 5th floor walkup studios are $950/month.

      1. AdAgencyChick*

        Yeah, I say don’t pick NYC unless you HAVE to be here for some reason — your job ties you here, or you simply cannot imagine life in a city that doesn’t have 500 cultural events going on every night. The cost of living here is simply breathtaking, and you can get a city experience elsewhere without having to bleed yourself dry for it.

        It’s worth it to me, but good lord, when I think of what kind of real estate my husband and I could afford in pretty much ANY other city (with the probable exception of San Francisco), I want to puke!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t pick NYC. If you’ve never lived in a big city and you’ve never paid more than $660 in rent, NYC is the wrong place. Pick somewhere with a lower cost of living and less madness. Even Chicago is less insane. There are tons of cities that will help ease you into the city-living experience without the smack-you-on-the-head feeling of your first days in NYC. Charlotte, Minneapolis, Austin… those come to mind. Plan trips to visit, stay in places for a couple of days, see if you like it.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        I think DC is a great city for people from smaller places. It’s basically like a big small town. I randomly run into people I know on the street all the time here (and I’ve only been for about 3.5 years). And it has good enough public transit that you don’t *need* a car.

    4. nep*

      Ouf — I live in a small midwest town and even here apartments can hardly be had for as little as $900.

    5. Jean*

      I second the notion that city living doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing move to New York.
      Other mid-size cities that come to mind: St. Louis or Kansas City; Denver; Norman or Oklahoma City; St. Paul or Minneapolis; Columbus or Cleveland, OH.
      Other ideas: state capitols or college towns. For example, Champaign-Urbana, IL is about 100,000 when school is in session. Small potatoes compared to the Big Apple (NYC) maybe, but still a big difference from 3,000 people.
      You can find out a lot online and/or in your local public library (the reference librarian can be a good resource) re rents, cultural offerings, community, and transportation options(is there an airport? Amtrak? or just Greyound/Trailways bus) and then plan some weekend trips for in-person fact-finding.
      I’d include Montana college towns on your list. You might end up deciding to make one of them your first bigger-city experience while earning a degree at in-state tuition prices. Or you could start with your local community college and transfer after 2 years/Associate’s degree to a four-year school for the Bachelor’s degree.

    6. Blue_eyes*

      I agree with others who suggested picking a smaller city to start. 3,000 people is a pretty small town, so there are many options for finding a more urban place to live. Even an area like the Quad Cities (IL/IA) which has less than half a million people would be a big change from where you are now. Other small cities to consider (since you’re used to the winter in Montana, these are all northern): Spokane (WA), Duluth (MN), Fargo (ND). Plenty of medium-large cities in the Midwest have more reasonable cost of living while still having lots of culture other city amenities. For example: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Indianapolis, Cleveland. I would try visiting and/or living in one of those cities first, and if you still really crave more action, then move to an even bigger city.

    7. Amtelope*

      As several people have said, NYC is much more expensive than you’re quoting. If you know it’s absolutely where you want to be, go, but you will need significant savings and to have a good job lined up, and you’ll be competing against people who do have degrees for jobs. Be sure you do a lot of research on housing costs and the job market, so that you can figure out what a realistic livable salary would be and how small a room you’re likely to wind up living in.

      If you don’t have your heart set on NYC, I would try a bigger city that isn’t quite so crazy expensive. Minneapolis is a really nice place to live if you can deal with the weather. Washington, DC is still expensive, but there are more options for living outside the city and commuting in. Or Denver, Boston, Chicago … etc. But not NYC unless you either have to be there to pursue a certain career, or can’t imagine living anywhere else.

    8. hermit crab*

      I second what everyone is saying about Minneapolis! Big city opportunities, small city cost of living. And coming from Montana, I assume you’d be OK with the winters.

    9. Deedee*

      Well hey! I’m in Montana too – but we actually call it “Big Sky Country”. Anyway, if you really are 19 and you really are in a small town in Montana, here is what I would advise: Find a community college in a nearby State that has WUE tuition rates (Idaho, Utah, Washington and I think Oregon). Salt Lake is a big city and so is Seattle. Take classes toward an AA degree while working as many hours as you can. You might end up transferring to a four year institution or not but in the meantime you are building credentials and job experience and getting some big city experience. You could then move on to NYC or decide big city life is not for you after all! My daughter did this exact thing except she moved to LA and paid out of state tuition at a community college. Went on to UCLA at instate tuition and now has an MBA! She loves LA and would never move back to her home town in MT.

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        Big sky? Shoot. Blame it on my parents. They’ve taught me to call green beans “string beans” too!

        It seems to be a consensus to most definitely -not- go to NYC. I can understand that. I’ll have to look into other places.

    10. Sunflower*

      What about Chicago? i LOVE Chicago but i don’t think I could go from East Coast to Mid-West. Also 900/month for an apt is beyond cheap for almost any city. In NYC, you’re looking to pay at least $1500 for an apt in the outer boroughs or NJ- and that’s the absolute least.

    11. BRR*

      Just kind of reiterating maybe not go all the way to NYC. There are big cities and then there is NYC. If you don’t like it you can always move somewhere else. First you’re going to have to live with less space most likely. Many of the things that are the appealing aspect of bigger cities cost a lot of money. Things such as restaurants, bars, shopping, and entertainment. But salaries tend to be higher.

    12. TL -*

      Hi! I moved from a town of less than 1000 to San Antonio (1.2 million) to Austin to Boston. (Around 5-600,000 in the city proper?)
      In the cheaper Texas cities, you can get an apartment for less than $900/mo – Houston, SA, and DFW. Austin, you’d have to look harder, but you still can.
      You can move to tons of great cities that aren’t super high cost of living, you can move to suburbs of some cities that are more youth- oriented ( San Marcos,south of Austin, is one example.) I’ve heard great things about all the cities people here are talking about. Honestly, if you stay off the coasts, the cost of living hours down dramatically.

      Prepare for sticker shock, but also for cultural shock- big cities are quite different from small towns in a lot of ways you’re not going to expect. But if you want to go, my advice is to just do it! The longer you put it off, the harder it will be to leave and the harder it will be to adjust when you get there.

    13. VintageLydia USA*

      Honestly I’d look at the Twin Cities. I have several friends in and near Minneapolis and their COL is pretty cheap when you consider how big the cities are/what amenities are there. The food scene in Minneapolis is particularly good for being otherwise out in the middle of nowhere comparatively to other large cities in the country.

    14. asteramella*

      Consider moving to a smaller city instead, especially a college town of you’re interested in getting a degree. In my own experience, Albuquerque NM has low cost of living but a more transitional city experience since the area has only about half a million people–plus it’s a university town with a good community college that you can easily transfer from. You can find studio apartments in the heart of the city for less than $500/month and live quite well without a car. Another example, Austin TX is great for tech but the cost of living is quite high and it’s risky to move there without a job lined up first.

    15. Mz. Puppie*

      My intuition is pinging off Omaha for you like you wouldn’t believe. Omaha is a city with a surprising cultural scene, while still being accessible. I’d look hard at Omaha.

  36. Olive Kitteridge*

    My husband and I need to decide about moving cross country: east coast to southern Ca. The only thing holding us back is our children. One would be starting 9th grade (high school) and the other 7th grade. Will we be ruining their lives? I think it will be good for them and broaden their horizons (plus – SoCal!) , but would love to hear from anyone who moved around that age and how if affected them.

    1. Graciosa*

      Ruining their lives?

      That seems a little dramatic.

      It is possible (okay, likely) that a teenager or pre-teen might complain about having their lives ruined by almost anything, including something as minor as not being allowed to text for fifteen minutes during dinner. As an adult, you’re supposed to know better.

      The way to help your children through this type of a transition is to treat it matter-of-factly and avoid playing into the drama. It’s not the end of the world. It’s not the second coming (these age groups are rightfully suspicious of adults trying to feed them a line about how great something is). You and your husband considered various factors and decided to make this decision because, while there will of course be some hiccups and a few drawbacks, you concluded that it will be better overall.

      This might be a good time to remember that you and your husband are modeling adult behavior in this just as you do in everything else. Your kids will see how you handle this decision and form conclusions about how to make major life decisions of their own in the future. Both the process and the conclusion you demonstrate to them should be consistent with your values.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        Adding on to what Graciosa said, I think your kids are old enough that you can share your reasoning with them. You don’t have to try to “sell” the move to them, but you can let them know what factors affected your choice and why you think this will ultimately be the best move for your family. Let them know that you have taken their feelings into account, and you still think the move is best. Then give them the space to disagree and be angry about it (or feel however they feel about it). Be matter of fact and don’t try to force them to be happy about it. Acknowledge whatever feelings they do have about it and listen to them (true listening does not require you to change your decision, but it does mean you can’t try to talk them out of how they are feeling).

        For what it’s worth, I think 9th grade is actually a pretty good time to move because they would likely be changing schools anyway and there will probably be other new kids at their new school. 7th grade is early enough that they will have plenty of time in the new city to develop friendships. Middle school is rough for many kids, but it would probably be rough regardless of the location.

    2. Colette*

      If you’re moving to a city, they’ll probably adjust. Moving into a small town is much harder at that age, IME.

      How hard it will be depends on your kids (do they make friends easily? Are they involved in activities that give them a social circle?) and your life to this point (have you moved before? Have they experienced situations where they didn’t know anyone, such as summer camp?)

    3. Felicia*

      I moved the summer after sixth grade and not even that far, and ya it was hard. I thought it ruined my life at the time . But it really didn’t. It was mostly hard for me because i was shy and bad at making friends though. The fact that it’s so far away will likely make it harder for them, but they’ll be fine. Let them know that it won’t ruin their lives, but also don’t make it sound all wonderfully good for them either. I mean they’ll probably be upset, so let them be upset (and if they’re not, then they’re not). But 12-14 year old me would have been pissed if my parents would have said a cross country move was good for me . It probably won’t be that good for them or that bad for them, but somewhere in between. I think the best is to be matter-of-fact and let them feel how they feel, letting them know their feelings are valid.

    4. Stephanie*

      I moved six or seven times as a kid (not military…Dad just was able to change jobs with ease or would get transferred). I don’t remember some of the earlier ones, but the last one, I was in sixth grade and cross country (Philadelphia to Dallas). It was a little traumatic, but I picked up that my parents hated where we lived and weren’t happy. They’ll be fine, especially since they’re old enough to get the why behind a move. And it’s a lot easier to keep in touch with friends now than it was back in the mid-90s.

      I’ve always been a little envious of people who’ve had friends since like kindergarten, but that’s pretty minor. Moving all the time has made me way more open to the idea of picking up and moving for job opportunities, which I think has been a plus.

    5. CAA*

      If you are going to do it, now is the time. Your kids will adapt, and they’ll likely grow closer as they rely on each other for company until they find new friends.

      One thing to consider is where you plan to live, the local culture, and how common it is to see newcomers there. “So Cal” is a really big place with every size of city and town, and lots of different climates. Moving to El Centro or Idyllwild or Santa Monica would be three completely different experiences, and your kids would have different adjustments to make in each one.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        You know of Idyllwild? I haven’t run across many people who have. There was a boarding school there for years that I attended in the 80s. It is still one of my favorite places in the world.

        1. CAA*

          Yes, I love Idyllwild! DH and I like to go up for a weekend now and then to get away from the crowded coast and enjoy the mountains. There’s still an art school there, though I’m not sure if it’s full-time or just for summer students.

          1. Ann Furthermore*

            Yes, it’s called ISOMATA, and now I’ve forgotten what that stands for. Back in the day, the boarding school was The Desert Sun School. Now it’s a science camp for kids called Astrocamp. It’s about halfway up Saunders Meadow Road.

            I was there in August for a reunion weekend. Some of the school’s alumni have maintained a pretty good relationship with the current owners of the property, and they’ve been very nice about letting us get together on the old campus. I think they figured it was the best alternative. For a long time former students would just show up and want to walk around and check out the campus. And of course when you’ve got a bunch of kids in your care, letting random strangers just wander around is a bad idea.

            It hasn’t changed much at all. That big building with all the shops in the middle of town was built after I was there, but other than that, it’s almost exactly the same. When I was there this summer my friends and I were laughing about how it felt weird to be able to go into the liquor store and buy whatever we wanted, instead of finding someone to buy us beer. LOL.

    6. Audiophile*

      I moved in the middle of my 9th grade year. Not cross country, only about 40 minutes, but it was pretty traumatic at first. I had spent my entire life in my hometown and had friends since I was 5 in that town and school district. Of course moving quickly established who my real friends were, I had a small goodbye party and most of the people at the party, I am no longer in contact with. It strengthened a relationship, in a way I didn’t expect. This person I grew up across the street from, we had been like two ships passing, but moving allowed us to become closer. And that person is now one of my best friends.

      It ended up being positive, I made new friends quickly, because moving allowed me to start over. I still live in the town we moved to, but that’s a different story. The new school district allowed me to excel a little more academically, I made honor roll several times and wound up graduating with a B average.

    7. BRR*

      If you do it you need to do it now. If not I’d say it would be much more difficult for your older one. I moved half way through high school and it sucked. I made a little something of it but if I had moved slightly earlier it would have been easier. They think you are ruining their lives but they will be fine. It’s a good life experience for them to have. My parents made it easier on me by spoiling the daylights out of me (I was 16, it worked fairly well). I agree to talk about it honestly why you decided to do this.

      1. Judy*

        My husband’s family moved between 10th and 11th grade, and it was a pretty bad experience for him. It was just slightly bad for my husband’s sister who was between 6th and 7th grade. We’ve certainly had the discussion that once the oldest is in 9th grade, we will do everything possible to stay until the youngest is out of high school.

        I’d say do it now, or wait until the kids are out.

    8. Arjay*

      My parents moved us when we were about to enter 6th and 9th grades. They used the logic that we would be in new schools anyway, so a lot of kids would be new. That was fine, but they did a terrible and insensitive job of handling the move. Just a couple of examples… They strictly limited the volume of items we could put on the truck. (It would have been better to attempt a purge before we were literally packing boxes and having to choose which beloved stuffed animals to leave behind.) They also made me leave my 8th grade graduation party three hours early because we had to get on the road early the next day. (Uh,for the record? We didn’t have to. My stepfather was retiring, so there wasn’t a job or a real estate closing or anything that couldn’t have waited 3 hours.) At the time, they were totally ruining my life. On the bright side, I did recover. :)

    9. B*

      Talk to them about your thoughts and ideas about moving first – don’t just spring it on them as a done deal. My husband’s parents did this to him and his brother when they were roughly the same age and it really affected them. The moving is not the problem, I think they would have handled it better if they’d been informed and given more time to process it. Let them feel that their concerns have been heard and considered, even if ultimately it doesn’t change the final decision.

    10. skyline*

      I moved halfway around the world the summer before 10th grade. Best thing that ever happened to me (going from sleepy suburb to a mega city)…but I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time!

    11. Gene*

      In the middle of 7th grade when I was 13, we moved from rural South Dakota where I had been in class with the same kids from 1st grade to Phoenix. I won’t say it was easy, but after seeing some of the kids I was in school with in SD last summer (all of us quickly approaching 60), I think it was a good thing.

      Do it.

  37. Olive Kitteridge*

    Thanks for the responses. I should have put “ruining their lives” in the quotations, to show that was how one of them had once responded to the idea. I really appreciate everyone’s input; it provides some great perspective without my own person emotional involvement in the situation.

    I never moved as a child, so I don’t have any personal frame of reference on how difficult it would be. My kids don’t make friends particularly easy, and are both a bit shy. I know that it won’t be easy for them, but it also will have some benefits (we will be closer to their cousins).

    1. Felicia*

      For me although I hated moving just before starting 7th grade and it was hard because i’m shy, it was also a chance to reinvent myself, and try different things that i wouldn’t have tried somewhere where i am known. That might be a good angle for a shy kid wanting to fit in.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, this. I was also a shy, kind of weird kid (I’m now just a not shy, kind of weird adult) and I had a lot of adjustment issues in our town in Pennsylvania. It was also kind of racist, to be honest. Moving to Dallas was good because the town we moved to was a bit more diverse. I was able to try different things (like cello) that weren’t open to me back in Pennsylvania.

    2. Adonday Veeah*

      As an army brat, my life was “ruined” many times during my childhood. I lived and prospered. Final move happened when I was about to go into 7th grade and older sis was starting high school. If you decide to move, I recommend you spend family time exploring the new environment together, and treat it as an adventure.

    3. JMW*

      I moved at this age, and we moved our kids at about these ages. It taught me and them how to adapt to change, to embrace change, and to choose change. It is a brilliant life lesson.