weekend free-for-all – January 17-18, 2015

OliveThis 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.

{ 1,072 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve been randomly sticking it up on Saturday afternoons sometimes.

      I’m spending the afternoon cleaning out and reorganizing my basement laundry room, which seems to keep turning into the room where we put everything we don’t know what to do with and includes random things like 25 boxes of Old El Paso Stand ‘N Stuff taco shells (the best taco shells, FYI). I’m almost done with that and then I’m moving on my under-the-sink bathroom cabinet, which seems to turn into its own mini Sephora outlet when I’m not looking. I’m feeling quite productive.

      1. Valar M.*

        Does everyone have one of those rooms? I always get embarrassed of mine, but I feel like they’re pretty ubiquitous.

        1. Ruth (UK)*

          I don’t have one of those rooms (cause I live in a bedsit)… but I definitely have one of those cupboards… I have a lot of boxes in with my clothes cupboard that seem to contain items of no use, but also that I don’t think can be thrown away. Hmmm.

          A friend of mine calls it ‘the undermess’. It’s mess that’s not exactly mess because… you can’t really tidy it anywhere else cause it has nothing else to go. It’s just There , being in, under and among your other stuff. She especially used this term for the type of junk that gathers under one’s bed.

          1. GOG11*

            The longer I’ve been cleaning/organizing, the more items seem to make their way into that room/drawer/cabinet. I think my brain just starts to shut down and the laundry room/kitchen drawer next to the fridge start looking better and better as time goes on.

          2. Katie the Fed*

            My second bedroom is like that. I live in a really old place with very little storage, and going up to the attic is way too much work so we end up cramming things into the second bedroom/office. It’s bad.

          3. Bea W*

            Ha this thread made me remember from my childhood my sister had a huge dresser drawer like this. It was the entire bottom drawer, and she called it the “DD Room” which was short for something like “Dirty Dungeon”.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Oh yes, I do. My weekend project when cleaning tomorrow is to move as much out of there into the garage as possible, with some of it going into the giant donate pile and the rest stored out there.

        3. danr*

          Yep… one is the computer room which we’re trying to clean up. Another is the basement, which we’re also working on, and one is an upstairs bedroom which has miscellaneous furniture in it.

        4. Liane*

          Everyone’s closets–a couple of them walk-ins–plus the one at the end of the laundry room were already like that. Now that our son is in college, his room is becoming such a room. And there are days I feel like the rest of the apartment is one big Stuff Room…

        5. nep*

          Yes — I reckon just about everyone has got one (or a couple) of those rooms or cupboards or drawers or storage bins. It feels so good to go through the stuff and purge.

        6. Mallory Janis Ian*

          We have “the Sanford* room” — a room between the kitchen and the carport that we can’t seem to figure out any use for other than staging junk that is allegedly on its way out the back door to other destinations (the carport, the attic, Goodwill, the dump . . . ). Occasionally we “de-Sanfordize” the Sanford room, but it never stays that way.

          *Sanford & Son, anyone?

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Oh, that’s the US version of Steptoe and Son isn’t it? The rag and bone yard in the original UK show always had no end of odd things in it.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I just Googled “Steptoe and Son”, and it is just like “Sanford & Son”. I guess if we were in the UK, we’d have a “Steptoe Room” to “de-Steptoeize” :)

        7. Bea W*

          I do. Sometimes I try to shove it all into a closet. I cleaned out a ton over our office shutdown. It felt so good! I think even if someone doesn’t have a room, there is usually a drawer or a closet somewhere in the house that serves this function.

      2. fposte*

        I don’t know where my mother got the term, but she called such things “Mrs. Flinger’s room.” I still really like that.

        1. Artemesia*

          The first apartment my then fiance and I moved into was a two bedroom — we took the small bedroom to sleep in and the large bedroom was my ‘Mrs. Flinger’s room’ where all my dissertation stuff and junk could be flung about and not make the small living space unbearable to my somewhat neater guy. Now that we are old and retired over 45 years later — we have a tiny two bedroom condo (after years of giant house with massive storage) and I still have that second bedroom which doubles as my office and the guest room — so the main living space can be presentable.

          1. Christy*

            We live in a two bedroom as well, and we should have put ourselves in the small room to start off with! Now we’re faced with the prospect of moving nine overstuffed bookcases from the small room to the big room. We only need a bed and nightstands to sleep, but the spare room is my office/the library/the guest room.

          2. BritCred*

            I’ve just moved last weekend and used the same reasoning. 9ft by 9ft room is my bedroom and has merely my bed, an ottomon and the laundry basket and the bigger 9ft by 13ft is the second bedroom with storeage, hobbies and the spare sofa bed in it.

            Second bedroom kinda getting to the state I could have someone stay in it… almost! And after a week I’ve finally found the toaster… lol.

        2. Katie the Fed*

          I LOVE that! It’s totally what happens when company comes over – run the the living room, grab clutter, throw in second bedroom.

        3. Bea W*

          I suspect because it was a room where things were flung. That name makes perfect sense to me, the person who tends to fling things someplace convenient rather than find a place for them.

      3. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Bags of old CDs: What do I do with these? I ripped them all on to my computer years ago, and for some reason stored them all in the basement in case … why? I have no idea. Anyway, do I just toss these?

        1. fposte*

          I just googled “donate cds to charity” and found a bunch of hits; the “Discs for Dogs” one even seems to reimburse for shipping. I think some Goodwills take them, too.

            1. GOG11*

              I misread the original comment (I was thinking CDs you burned FROM your computer, not to). Donating them is way better than some of those projects out there (giant rainbow fish art installation anyone?).

        2. GOG11*

          If you google “What to do with old CDS DIY” you’ll find some listicles of marginally useful things you can make out of them. (I, too, have a collection of useless old CDs)

        3. Kimmy*

          I donated a huge bin of all my CDs to the local SPCA thrift store and they were delighted.
          (Cassette tapes, not so much.)
          How am I 38 years old and still have Tiffany and Pretty Poison rattling around in that box? LOL

          My decluttering quandary is always unfinished craft projects. I haven’t worked on them in years but I might!! Right?

        4. knitchic79*

          Hmmmm, as long as you have a backup of your computer I’d toss the CD collection. My rule is if I haven’t had a use for it in six months it could probably go in the trash. (Obviously seasonal type things are an exception) Today I’m working on my bedroom and living room, I gave a couple of tubs o crap that could head to the dumpster. Enjoy your purge!

        5. Jerry Vandesic*

          Sorry to be the intellectual property stickler, but if you donate the physical CDs you need to delete the ripped files. Your right to have the files comes from your ownership of the CDs, and if that ownership ends so does your right to the files. (You can probably keep the files if you destroy or throw away the CDs.) Obviously that assumes you are care about the legal issues; in practical terms you probably don’t have to worry about being raided by the RIAA.

          1. GH in SoCAl*

            This is the moral quandary that makes me keep boxes of cd’s in the attic. Donating or giving them away while still keeping a copy becomes technically piracy.

            1. Andy*

              You could probably destroy the cd though and keep the file. That way you’re sure o one else has a copy.

        6. Wo and Shade, Importers*

          Did you rip them into FLAC or some other lossless format? Or did you rip them into lossy MP3 format at something less than 256-320kbps? If the latter, you may want to reconsider ditching your CDs until you have lossless digital copies of your favorite content.

        7. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I’ve recovered from too many crashes and replaced too many old computers to ever get rid of discs that I still like. I use something like the Atlas Stockholm Binder at The Container Store to store hundreds of discs in the space of one phone book, and then I toss the cases…or stack them in storage, but we have a big basement and lots of storage room. (The one I have has a zipper closure, but they may not make it any more.)

          1. Nina*

            Same here. I’ve lost tons songs to computer crashes, or MP3 players that break. The CD is the only hard copy I have of the music.

            Plus, I play the CDs in my car. No headphones.

        8. V. Meadowsweet*

          you’re ok with the ripped files as long as you have the CDs, but if you no longer own the CDs you have to delete the files
          if you don’t want to store them in jewel cases you can get CD books for pretty cheap and get rid of the cases

        9. bob*

          No don’t trash them!

          Find a local cd/dvd 2nd hand place and swap them for some movies or other cd’s.

        10. Andy*

          You’d probably be breaking the law if you let someone else have them and you keep the file on your computer. It’d be the same if you copied the cd to another cd and gave that away, violation of copyright law. I’d keep them.

      4. Elkay*

        I’ve had a wholly unproductive day. I’d love to clear the house out but I just don’t have the energy once the weekend comes, and then I spend the weekend hating that the house is a mess.

      5. littlemoose*

        Oh yeah, that’s our office. I work from home about 50% of the time and would like to have it as a functional office, but attacking that room just feels so daunting.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I find that if you tell yourself “I’m just going to clean it for five minutes,” it’s much easier. You can usually bring yourself to do five minutes, and then once you’ve started, you often have momentum and will just keep going. (And if not, hey, five minutes can make a noticeable difference in many cases.)

          I actually use this tactic when I’m procrastinating on writing something too, and it’s pretty effective. It’s starting that’s the big obstacle.

          1. hermit crab*

            Yes! Pretty much the only reason my kitchen is clean is because I clean while waiting for things to heat up in the microwave. If you know you can stop in two minutes and fifteen seconds, it’s easy to get started.

          2. Artemesia*

            This saves my life — I clean the bathroom while running the tub (got into the habit at our last place where the overflow in the rub didn’t work and after running water into the ceiling a couple of times and having to repaint, I made staying in the bathroom while tub is filling a rule); I try to clean out mare’s nest drawers one at a time when I have a moment. Dusted baseboards the other day when I happened to notice. It really does help to clean in small bursts if you are cleaning averse. Retiring and having more time didn’t make me want to be a housewife any more than I wanted to during the years of job and kids.

            1. Natalie*

              Yes, tidying a bit while you’re waiting for something else makes such a big difference. I always do that while cooking, if I’m waiting for something to boil or whatever. And while I wait for my shower to warm up.

          3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            I sometimes play the “Put 100 things away” game. Every thing counts the same amount. Take a suitcase all the way out to the garage, just one thing – but then put away 10 forks from the drying rack and now I’m up to 11! It helps counter the problem I have where as soon as I start to clean one area, I find something to put away in another room, and then I notice all the things I need to clean in THAT room, and I get overwhelmed. This way, I can reassure myself that I don’t have to clean everything right now, just deal with 100 tiny tasks.

            Often I get through so fast that I do another 100, or tackle a more sizable project. But even if I don’t, like you said, just 100 can make a noticeable difference.

            1. Beezus*

              I like to make a game out of finding things that belong in another room, then finding something in THAT room that belongs elsewhere, etc etc. I can take multiple things in one trip as long as they all have the same destination. I don’t have to put them away, just dump them in the room where they belong to be put away later, unless it’s easy enough to put them away while I scan the room for an item to make my next trip with. (I do not, for example, put away a pile of folded laundry, but I will return a book to the bookshelf.)
              It’s a lot of running around, but it has a big impact pretty quickly, and all the running around is exercise!

        2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          If you have a laptop or Ipad or other mobile device with Netflix or a movie ripped onto it or something like that–that tends to get me through marathon cleaning sessions (spring and fall housecleaning, where I wash walls and switch out seasonal clothes and stuff). Usually I put on a show I know pretty well and just want for background noise and “company,” but I like enough to listen to. It helps SO much.

      6. Liz in a Library*

        I’m planning to do this with our central hallway this weekend. It contains only litter boxes and poorly planned closets, so it’s just filthy and full of junk all the time no matter what I do. I’m hoping the productivity vibe will kick it and it won’t take the entire rest of the weekend…

      7. Not So NewReader*

        You know if we do this every weekend for a few weekends, I might get my whole house cleaned up. Did the bathroom yesterday. What fun. No.

        1. fposte*

          Today’s cleaning-related discovery: it is actually possible to have too many socks. I hadn’t realized that was achievable. But once I matched together the singles in the singles basket and pulled the “ignore during recuperation” detritus out from under the bed, the sock to sock-drawer space ratio was distinctly problematic.

          1. OfficePrincess*

            Fully agree on the too many socks. I organized my dresser last weekend and can still barely close the sock drawer. For some reason sifting through and donating an overflowing garbage bag of clothes was fine, but purging socks just seems to be too overwhelming.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Are you saying the washer does not EAT socks? I was happy with that theory because it involved a lot less work.

      8. Natalie*

        UFYH calls it the Invisible Corner. Mine is in my dining room by the desk I don’t really use except as a storage area. It also ends up being where everything goes if it doesn’t have a home yet.

        I cleared that out today, actually. The xmas stuff went down in my storage space, a bunch of stuff got organized and went into the closet, and there’s just a small pile of stuff that belongs to other people and needs to leave left.

      9. Audiophile*

        I’ve never had the Stand N Stuff tacos, but I may need to pick some up because my birthday dinner is going to have a Tex-Mex theme.

      10. Saro*

        I’ve titled a project ‘The Purge’ on my todoist. My room at my parent’s house is the catch-all and I’m slowly working through everything while I’m visiting them.

      11. HR Manager*

        That’s my 3rd un-used bedroom that has old cds, xmas wrapping, the iron I barely use, and other random assorted stuff that was meant to be organized into a library/misc storage about a year ago. Still have some stuff in old packing boxes *sigh*

              1. Julie*

                Not this weekend though! I refuse to think about what the rest of winter will be like unless it is just like this.

    1. Mal*

      I was born and raised in Southern California, if you can stomach the traffic and high COL, it’s AMAZING. Entertainment and great weather 98% of the time. I really start to miss it around January living in the Midwest now. Also, ANY day you can decide to have breakfast in the mountains and late lunch at the beach and then spend the weekend in Las Vegas. That’s the part I miss most, being able to go anywhere at anytime. Tired of the desert? Be at the beach in 1.5 hours! Want to go to Napa? Hop in the car for a few hours. It has everything, but you DEFINITELY pay for it.
      Colorado is fantastic, it has a laid back attitude like California but with more emphasis on being outdoors than on materialness. And it’s gorgeous.
      LOVE Tennessee, particularly the Chattanooga area, so pretty!!
      I live in the Kansas City area now, I like the people and the scenery a lot, having 4 seasons is pretty great too, but winter is about 3 months too long. COL is super low and the unemployment rate can’t be beat.
      Oh and Seattle is one of my favorite cities, but I’m not sure if I could tolerate the clouds and how long it takes to travel to vacation areas like the Caribbean.

      1. Artemesia*

        I grew up in Seattle — beautiful but you do feel isolated from the rest of the world. It was much worse then when flying easily everywhere was not so available — but it is still isolated.

        Hated Tennessee, left there as soon as I sold the house when I retired. Love Chicago — culture, physical beauty of the town and the waterfront, parks, good public transport (great for the US), great eating, and it is so walkable we only have one car now. I feel like I have died and gone to heaven — even with the cold winters. They know how to manage snow and the place is flat so it is rarely a problem getting around. I do miss the mountains of my youth, but the Lake goes a ways to making up for it.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          I spent several years in the Chicago suburbs and I loved it, I still love visiting there. We were close enough to the city to take advantage of outstanding shopping and amazing dining, fantastic museums and theatre, but far enough out to have access to Big Open Spaces. The summers were delightfully hot and steamy and Midwestern-enjoyable, the winters were cold and snowy but people manage their snow pretty well. You can go anywhere from O’Hare. Love going back to visit. Love it.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I was born in KC. :)

        BUT I NEED TO GET OUT OF THIS RIDICULOUS STATE. I lived in CA for four years. Dumbest thing I ever did was come back. I wouldn’t have done it if I’d known I was going to get stuck here.

        1. Nashira*

          I heeeeear you. Grew up in the DC area, married a Missouri boy, moved to mid-Missouri. Even with Columbia MO being a short trip, it’s not the same as the Smithsonian and stuff… even if we do already own a house and have ten minute commutes, which wouldn’t have happened in the DC metro area. *sigh*

          1. Jean*

            I dunno…don’t knock the home ownership! DC is home b/c my spouse and I have good fit employment and it’s close to key family members on both sides…the housing market is bat**t crazy, the rental market is less than perfect, and I try not to think about all those far-more-affordable places to live in my native midwest.

            1. periwinkle*

              We moved from metro DC to metro Seattle last year. Seattle just seems so incredibly affordable by comparison. In fact, we are closing on our very first house in a couple weeks, yay!

              I’ve lived in Silicon Valley, metro DC, and now Seattle. Although I was happy in the other places, I love love love love Seattle. So what’s a little rain?

      3. Christy*

        Can you talk some more about KC? My girlfriend and I are thinking of moving there. I would be able to get a spousal transfer so it would be nbd for me, but she’d like to find government or library work.

        1. Mal*

          It’s a great city! Considering it’s “smaller” as opposed to what I’m more familiar with, like LA and San Diego areas, it has an international airport, MLB, NFL, and MLS, not to mention the BBQ and a very wide range of ethnic restaurants (they have pho. Damn near impossible to find out here) the housing is CHEAP. Rental or ownership(owning is cheaper than renting but renting comes with great amenities that balance the cost disparity). Lots of outdoor activites like fishing, boating(rivers or lakes) hunting, golfing. Shopping is fantastic too.
          As far as jobs, there is a wide variety from government work, railroads, a LOT of tech companies(Center, Garmin, Netsmart) lots of hospitals, colleges and schools too.
          My husband and I both think the worst part of here is winter, and there aren’t a whole lot of other negatives to the area!
          I’d recommend KC to just about anyone as long as they’re ok with winter weather and living on the edge of tornado alley(it sounds scarier than it is)
          If you move here, welcome and enjoy!

        2. DCtoKC*

          Moved from Metro D.C. last year. The col is so unbelievable low and traffic is non existant. The job market is also very healthy. International travel is a pain, but you can find a lot of direct flights for destinations within the country.

      4. INTP*

        I agree about Southern California. I’m in the midwest for awhile too, and miss the weather, the diversity of things to do, the vegetarian-friendly food, and the way life in general doesn’t shut down 6-9 months of the year (the freaking park bathrooms here are locked all winter, way to promote a healthy lifestyle). Anywhere near the bay area would be good too. The summers are a little cool and the water is too cold to surf in a bathing suit but it’s generally good weather and tons of stuff to do.

        However, I have really gotten used to stuff like finding parking spots easily, not timing my entire life around traffic patterns, driving places without people cutting me of left and right (noticing a pattern?), and being able to afford to live in a nice, safe neighborhood in an adequately sized apartment without a mold or rat problem. So I’m hesitant about settling down back in socal. I’m thinking about trying Portland or Seattle, or the dreaded Sacramento, for price reasons.

        1. Seriously*

          Bathrooms are locked because the bathrooms aren’t insulated – so they shut off the water and lock bathrooms in colder months to prevent frozen pipes – and burst frozen pipes.

          Logic. Yo.

    2. Felicia*

      I’m not American and don’t want to live in the US (i would not want to live anywhere else), but I recently went to Boston and kept thinking if I had to live somewhere in the US, I would pick here. I think it just felt a little Canadian :) And I just absolutely love all big cities.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I always feel that way about San Francisco! And Seattle too, to a lesser extent. I like San Diego too, but it’d be too hot for me to live there.

        I have to say I didn’t like Boston much – I might just have been unlucky, but I met sooooooo many rude and openly racist people. Also the traffic was atrocious, and all the honking would drive me crazy very quickly! LA’s not for me either. On the other hand I liked DC a LOT more than I ever expected to.

        1. Felicia*

          I’ve never been to DC (i’m going for the first time in June!) and I suspect I will feel similarly about that :)
          Since I live in downtown Toronto, the traffic in Boston also felt like home! And everyone I met was more polite than the people at home.

          I feel like i’d feel similarly about Seattle but the weather would be different, and it’d be too far from everyone and everythiing I know.

        2. Bea W*

          Yeh….certain groups are openly racist still :/ and some people can be a bit rough around the edges but it’s also a very diverse area. You just have to find the right pocket within it. I moved to a neighborhood that gets a bad rap mostly from the openly racist types, and people are actually really awesome and even neighborly and not nearly as jackassy on the road as like downtown and other areas where it’s mostly people from outside the city on the road getting all ragey on each other.

          1. HR Manager*

            The good ol’ days of Southie. It would help if the movies and TV stopped trying to televise this one little pocket of Boston as what all of Boston is about. Most neighborhoods are not that way at all, and even Southie has morphed into something different. But the tv crews “love” this and keep looking for people in Boston who are like that. Boston is at times more diverse than just about any city I’ve been to, due to the influx of international college students for 9 out of the 12 months of the year. Being a big hub for health and research also helps.

            I think the one stereotype of Boston that rings more true are the sports fan. While most are normal, we do seem to have our fair share of pretty obnoxious sports fans.

      2. Jordi*

        I’m Canadian but live in a small town in northern New England and in a lot of ways it feels more like Canada than it does like America. Its almost the best of both worlds.

      3. S*

        I’m originally from the upper Midwest, but have been living in Boston for about 2 years. I don’t really love it. Part of that is the realization that city living does not suit me (I didn’t realize how much I love trees and open spaces until I moved here and found myself without them), part is the weather, and part what I perceive as the local obsession with having to outdo everyone, all the time, on anything. Plus there’s the outrageous cost of living, and the fact that we don’t really bother taking advantage of cultural/entertainment opportunities. (That’s our fault, though, not Boston’s.) If we end up moving in a couple years, I won’t complain. I would love to move back to Michigan, it has its own challenges, but it’s home.

    3. danr*

      Where I live now… in a semi-rural area of NJ, but close to good stores. Decent access to NYC for plays, museums and other stuff.

    4. Mad Lola*

      I live in a Big10 college town, won’t call it out, but the mascot is related to the weasle and the school colors are red and white. I love living here because the population is very educated and diverse, we have good food options, and an amazing music scene. We have all the amenities of a larger city without the hassles. The COL is starting to creep up, almost $1500/month for a higher end 2 bedroom apartment downtown, but you can find better rents further out. If you want to go to the big city, Chicago is 2.5 hours away.

      If I didn’t live here I would live in New Orleans for the food and music alone.

      1. Emily*

        I lived there last year! I liked it a lot for the reasons you mention (good food, amenities of a larger city, not too hard to get around without a car), and also because it was a good place for rock climbing, biking, and ultimate frisbee. I didn’t find it to be especially diverse, but agree that many of the people I knew were well-educated.

      2. INTP*

        I believe you guys also have a larger farmer’s market open year round, which I am jealous of. I am in the mid-size city to your East and when I went to my part of the city’s advertised winter market, it was just a guy in a smelly bar selling meat and $8 popcorn (and about 3 vegetables on his table, but I didn’t ask the price of those given the price of the popcorn).

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      Rural western Washington state. Breathtaking mountains, forests, rivers, coastal waters and ocean. I like being isolated; Seattle is too crowded for me, but all the amenities of a big city are right across the water.

    6. Olive Kitteridge*

      I’ve lived in a few places I think are great — and have realized my perspective and needs have changed over time. So each one of these was “the best” for me for a while.

      In chronological – not preferential order:

      1. Philadelphia. I went to college there – both grad and undergrad -as well as worked for a few years, and still go back frequently. Over the past 25 (!!!) years since I started college, Phila has grown more and more into a livable and enjoyable city. It’s always had lots of artist and cheap rent, but now it’s got the infrastructure to be a world class city. Really a great place all around.

      2. NYC. Always felt like “home” to me – the first place I ever felt totally comfortable. And of course, there’s the energy, culture and everything else that everyone loves about it.

      3. NJ suburbs of NYC – great schools, easy commute to the city. Moved here when the first child was one year old and it’s been a great ride. However, now 13 years later – we are ready for our next chapter. Hoping it will be Southern California, and will decide that within the next month. It’s hard but exciting to not know what is next! I have made no plans for anything after March since things are so up in the air.

    7. Stars and violets*

      I’m not from the US but we lived in San Antonio for three years and, apart from the insane working hours, they were among the best years of my life so far. Great food, lots to do and see; we met and worked with some lovely people and, being a fan from before we went to the US, made the most of our opportunities to watch ice hockey. Some of our best holidays involved a game or three in far flung cities. We even got very attached to the local team (at the time, it’s gone now) and followed them on a couple of road trips. Great fun. We were very sad to leave but we have lots of nice memories.

      1. the gold digger*

        I want to get back to Texas so much. I hate snow. Yes, I know Texas gets hot (I would go back to San Antonio – Austin is too crazy and Houston is too hot even for me), but you do not have to shovel hot and you don’t need special tires for it. Also, it would be nice to be able to have some skin exposed in the winter, even when I am indoors.

        1. Stars and violets*

          Yes, the heat was a bit of a shock but since everywhere I needed to be was airconditioned it was tolerable. The constant sunshine had a very positive effect on my mood too which probably also explains why I was so happy there.

        2. asteramella*

          I recently moved back to Texas after a few years in snowier climes and I definitely do not miss the cold. Today it was in the 70s with not a cloud in the sky.

    8. summercamper*

      I currently live in Orlando, and I’ve come to really enjoy it – but I wouldn’t want to live here forever.

      The benefits: Disney World is really cool, and season tickets for Florida residents cost about as much as a YMCA membership. I go a LOT and have a blast. There are also beaches, other amusement parks, and fabulous weather year-round.

      The drawbacks: Everything is kinda fake. Lots of subdivisions of stucco houses. Compared to my previous home of Chicago, real character and interest is hard to come by.

      In all, it makes Orlando a fun place to live for a couple of years – but I can’t say I want to stay here for much longer.

    9. S*

      Grew up in the LA area, now living in San Francisco. I think I was spoiled by LA’s urban sprawl because everything in SF just seems so cramped and ridiculous, plus the public transit system wasn’t made for this many people in such a small space (SF is 7×7 square miles with nowhere else to expand but upwards, which the city refuses to approve). I think there’s a limit to how much ‘city’ vibe I can handle, because living here is driving me absolutely insane, and I already live in a calmer area in comparison to a lot of my coworkers.

      I loved Chicago when I visited, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about it once I’ve lived through a winter there!

      1. a*

        Funny how perspectives differ. I live in the LA area, in a suburb. When I am stuck in traffic on a city street, I often think these neighborhoods were not designed for this many people. It takes forever to get anywhere and I feel like we have all the drawbacks of a very large city (crowds, traffic, noise, intense light pollution) without any of the cultural or transportation benefits- oh, how I would love to be able to take metro to my job instead of drive!

        1. S*

          That’s what I thought too! I figured that I could just take public transit to work in SF, it’d be fine… and then I realized that both Muni and BART are notorious for delays, cramped trains, and constant traffic (in the case of Muni, which runs above ground). I think that SF needs to make a decision–public-transit friendly or car friendly, and stop trying to be both, because it’s really not working out.

      2. CA Admin*

        I also grew up in LA, then moved to San Francisco. I love the Bay Area, though, and would never move back. I live close to public transit, so I don’t need a car. Between BART, busses, and my bike, the only place I need a car to visit is Costco.

        1. S*

          I live half a block from a Muni stop, so I save my driving for weekend errands and fun trips, but the grind of taking Muni 5 days a week with constant delays and packed trains and sometimes waiting upwards of 30 mins for a train after work makes me all the more determined to get out of this city.

          1. CA Admin*

            Yeah, Muni blows. I live in Oakland and I love it! It’s actually faster to get to the financial district from where I live than many parts of SF itself.

    10. Seal*

      Minnesota, specifically the Twin Cities. I grew up and spent most of my adult life there. Although winter can be a chore, it makes you appreciate the warmer months that much more. Plus winter in all it’s snowy glory can be absolutely beautiful. Having lived in the Deep South for most of the past decade, I’m surprised by how much I miss living up North. Can’t stand the long, hot, humid summers down here AT ALL. I truly want nothing more than to get the hell out of where I’m at and move back home.

      1. Non Profit Anon*

        Agree!! I am in Minneapolis and love it. The nature, the culture, the jobs, the schools, and the lifestyle are perfect for me.

    11. Dan*

      IMHO, to win this argument, the place would have to have enough stuff to qualify as a “city” but not the traffic and COL issues that go with it. I’m a transplanted midwesterner, but have spent most of my adult life in DC and LA. They all have their plusses and minuses. I’ve visited NYC a few times and had fun doing doing it. But *best* place to live? I gotta be able to buy a house and not spend my life planning around traffic.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        Come back to the midwest. Specifically, west of the Mississippi. KC, Minneapolis, etc – places like that have actual cultural things now, minimal traffic, low COL & the snow removal you were missing in DC.

    12. Jennifer M.*

      I dream of moving back to Richmond, VA. Now one the one hand, it is waaaaaaaay more conservative than I am. But. So many buts. I have a lot of dear friends who live there. The cost of living is so much lower than the DC area. Because of my large group of dear friends, I would be somewhat insulated from the overly conservative crowd since I would have my own crowd already assembled. Great restaurants. A place that I could see raising my (theoretical) kids. Southern breakfasts.

      On the con side, their airport is one of the more expensive ones to fly out of. My parents are in Baltimore and getting on in years. I would likely have to take a substantial pay cut to move there – but again, according to a several cost of living calculators, I might not actually “feel” it that much because as said before, the cost of pretty much everything other than health care is so much lower than DC.

      1. Just Visiting*

        Oh, I love Richmond! I have so many friends there and the city itself isn’t that conservative (of course, everything around it is). We considered moving there but the state politics turned us away.

    13. Ludo*

      I’ve lived a few places. I grew up in Eastern WA. Beautiful, lots of outdoorsy things to do, but it was too conservative and not enough of an upward job market for me. I lived in SE Alaska. I cannot explain the beauty – you have to see it. The town was great, the energy was amazing, the job market was terrible (as is the case with many towns of about 4,000 people). I lived in Oklahoma. It was the worst place ever. I have also lived (and live currently) in Oregon. We’ve got a growing economy (at least my industry does), the people align with my values generally, the beauty of this area is nearly unmatched, there are endless trails and coastal areas.

      My vote? Oregon. Western Oregon and, if you can, the Willamette Valley. If you’ve never seen it, you need to visit. If you can get past the vibe that the hippies came and never left (but got old and had little hippie children named Sunshine and Rainbow and Skye) you will fall in love with this place.

      1. mm-or*

        I agree. I have lived in Portland my entire life and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. If you can stand the rain and gray skies for 9-10 months out of the year you will love it.

    14. CrazyCatLady*

      Colorado! Lived in Massachusetts and Maine but Colorado is so much better. People are laid back and friendly and there is so much to do, for free, especially if you like being outside … Hiking, biking, mountains, rafting, kayaking, skiing and snowboarding… You never get bored. And it’s almost always sunny. Even though it does snow, it melts really quickly and there are lots of really nice winter days in the 50s or 60s where you can still get outside.

      1. Clever Name*

        Posted my reply before I read the others. Totally agree! We’ve got a really great thing going here.

    15. Clever Name*

      Denver. Man, I love it here. Close to the mountains, which are heaven on earth. Big enough so that there are jobs and cultural events and cool things to do all the time. But not so big that rush hour is soul sucking (I’m looking at you Dallas) the culture is tolerant, laid back, outdoorsy, and green without being obnoxious. (Before anyone is offended, I drive a Prius and put solar panels on my last house) great restaurants. Great breweries. Great people. Really an amazing place to live. Plus, 300 days of sunshine. I hope to stay here the rest of my life.

      1. rette*

        I live in Colorado too and generally love it. The one downside is that people are not quite as friendly. Maybe it is just because I am from the South where people are overly friendly. Like when you walk down the street here, if you pass someone they don’t acknowledge you an actually go out of their way to not make eye contact. It’.s bizzare. I think it.s a bit of the wild west every man for himself mentality.

    16. HR Manager*

      Late to the game as usual – of the two cities I’ve actually lived in (Philly and Boston), I prefer Boston. I like Boston – not sure I love Boston despite growing up here.

      I think Boston is very livable in that it offers much of a big city but in a contained smaller geographical area. I love its walkability and friendliness to non-drivers. I prefer cool weather over heat, and I love the diversity and its very intellectual (read: nerdy) atmosphere. We have access to healthcare that is 2nd to none in the world. If you do drive, you have access to nature in NH, Maine, Vermont. Why I don’t love it — Boston still holds on to some puritanical values. The city’s so self-contained that you easily find folks who’s never left it, and sees life only through one perspective and never cares to expand on it. This is true everywhere, but the contrasts of Boston’s blue-belly liberalism and for some a narrow, provincial viewpoint is always visible here.

      When I lived in Philly, it was rough times. Bad economy and Philly (West Philly) was in rough shape. I still like it though – love the history and walkability as well. It was very much a big city that could be more, and it’s probably become that in the decades since I lived there. I’d weigh about 300 lbs from eating cheesesteaks if I did stay there though.

      If I were rich, I’d live in San Francisco. I love that place, but sadly I don’t have the millions to have the lifestyle I’d want there.

  1. GOG11*

    So my cats destroyed my hamper. They clawed the corners completely through (and now are pulling socks out of the hamper through said holes) and have worn down the stiff cardboard structuring material by sitting on the lid when it’s okay half full (so the clothes aren’t supporting their weight, the hamper is).

    I bought a new, plastic basket-weave hamper and decided to make the hamper that the cats seem to love so dearly into a cat house thing. I started out with fabric glue and it didn’t make anything stick to anything (usually I have trouble with stuff sticking to the wrong things). So there was some duct tape and staples involved…but it actually looks pretty nice. I cut out a hole for them to get in (normally they try to jump in from the top and they knock it over to get out) and I’m working on making a weighted cushion for the bottom so they don’t pull it over on themselves when they scratch on it.

    It’s okay. All of my things are belong to my cats anyways.

    1. Mal*

      When my dog claims something that once belonged to a human as hers, my husband and I both say in our low vaguely nasal dog voice, “You didn’t need that (insert stolen item here) hoooman. It has always been mine.”

          1. GOG11*

            Thank you! I’m glad they’ve taken to it (again). It took me several hours to complete as I’m not very crafty.

            As I was preparing the materials for the cushion, one of my cats (not shown) was going from the file of fleece to the carpeting and back.

            “Yes, yes, human. You’ve chosen well.” cat switches to other pile of materials “Very good. Fine materials indeed.”

        1. GOG11*

          I initially read this as hamster. My reading comprehension has been super impaired lately. And my ability to use basic logic/make use of context clues to evaluate the likelihood of nonsensical conclusions.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I am sitting here trying to picture a pimped out hamster. All I am getting is a hamster wheel with lights and music.

            1. GOG11*

              Don’t forget the classic hamster ball! Maybe Xzibit could make one out of that material used to make light up shoes (the shoes that little kids have that light up when the material is stepped on).

              Another option would be a wheel or ball that played “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire when the object’s in motion. They see me rollin’ hamster stops, pause they hatin’…

              XD

    2. HR Manager*

      LOL, this image just made me laugh. I stopped having weave/rattan anything precisely because my cats fancied they were all nail sharpeners, and I hated having to sweep up the bits left on the floor every day.

  2. knitchic79*

    I’m the spirit of randomness, I had to pick up a new coat for my eight year old today. I’m 5’2ish, my kiddo is at my shoulder now. He’s in the third grade and I just bought the largest kid sized coat good ole Wal-Mart had. Freaking kid is in grown up sized shoes and t-shirts. He’s gonna be HUGE! Can’t believe it sometimes.

    1. Liane*

      I feel your pain. And mine would wear items as long as he could still get them on, and they hadn’t fallen apart. Example: Back when our College Freshman was 12 or so, he mentioned his size 6.5 men’s hiking boots were “a little small.” Grandma took him to get another pair. He ended up needing a size 11 men’s! No, I have no idea how he still stuffed his feet into them without damaging either feet or boots.
      Six or seven years haven’t changed him at all.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      My daughter will be 6 in about 3 weeks. I’m almost 5’10, my husband is almost 6’5. So we’re tall people, and expected her to be tall too. But man, she is TALL. And big for her age, but it’s all proportional. At all her doctor appointments she comes in at the 97th percentile for height and weight. She’s in a girls medium or 7/8, and is already into a size 2 shoe.

      The hardest thing is finding age-appropriate stuff for her to wear. Target has gotten better, I think they must have gotten complaints. When I shopped for my now 17-year old stepdaughter there when she was younger, I had a lot more trouble finding her cute stuff that didn’t have a hoochie vibe. Gymboree has adorable stuff, but the stuff costs a fortune. It’s good quality, so worth it, but when your kids grow so fast it seems like a waste of money.

      1. LAMM*

        If I remember correctly, Crazy 8 is in the Gymboree brand family… just a cheaper version (pricewise – I hear the quality is about the same).

      2. knitchic79*

        Age appropriate clothes are an issue with mine too. He’s pretty proportionate as well, except for his short legs, just like his daddy there. But to find shirts that aren’t too short I have to get men’s small, and of course he wants graphic tees like his friends. If it weren’t for all the cartoons being so popular with adults these days there would be very little I’d want to put my little boy in.

      3. TheOtherJennifer*

        eBay. My daughter is 13 and very very slim and I have found amazing deals on things in beautiful condition for her – age appropriate I might add. Right now she doesn’t mind wearing “deals” and I get her approval before purchasing. Certainly don’t spend full price.

      4. Megan*

        Carters goes up to size 12 now, I shop there online for my 7 year old, as well as the sale sections at Lands End and Tea Collection. Target’s toddler section is so adorable, mostly tasteful, and well made, that I remember the shock when she moved up to the girls section.

      5. Bea W*

        My youngest nephew is now heavier and nearly, if not yet (but he may be) taller than the middle nephew. They are 3 years apart. The doctors say he’ll be 6’4″ or so. People think he’s much older than he is, which is tough when you are like 2 and people expect you do behave like a kid 2 or 3 years older!

  3. Sunflower*

    Question for ladies who know anything about highlighting/dying hair

    I have light brown hair. Every year I get blonde highlights around June(at the salom) and then dye my hair chocolate brown come winter(myself from a box). In the winter I still have some of my highlights but once I dye it, my hair is all over one color. I want to do something this year to keep the highlights showing but just kind of overall darken everything. Debated doing a salon gloss(only $30 compared to $110 highlights) or John Frieda has an at home gloss that you apply every couple weeks(has mixed reviews)

    Anyone have tips for what I can do to keep the highlights but overall darken everything? Can I use hair dye but leave it on a shorter amount of time?

    1. Mad Lola*

      Hair is the one thing you have to wear every day. I sucked it up years ago and get the best salon cut and color I can afford. If you have a good hair stylist and stick with them, he or she will be able to transition your color the way you want so it looks natural. I liked the way the local female news anchors looked, and went to their hair stylist. A cut and two tone color with tip runs me about $200. I get mad compliments on my hair.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Seconding this. I spend a fortune on my hair, but it’s worth it. It took me forever to find someone I liked, and she is a master with the coloring. Right now we’re taking my hair darker, since I’ve had blond highlights for awhile, and I love how it’s coming along. I pay about the same as you, and my husband rolls his eyes and says he’s glad he’s a dude, but it’s worth it to have someone you trust who knows what they’re doing work their magic.

    2. soitgoes*

      If you maintain your highlights throughout the year, you can save yourself the cost and time of having to get them completely re-done every spring. You could always just get more medium-toned honey highlights mixed in with the lighter ones.

      1. Sunflower*

        I don’t maintain my highlights. I get them, the sun does its thing to keep them looking good and then I go dark. I could do nothing to my hair and it would look fine(I have an ombre look) but I always get that itch to go dark come winter.

        1. Natalie*

          If you do an all over dye I don’t think there’s any way to keep the highlights. You’d have to either re-highlight, which is probably difficult on a fresh dye job, or pay a professional to do it all at once.

          1. TheOtherJennifer*

            I do a ton of cooking on Sundays, utilizing the crockpot and whatever else I can make ahead so it’s all ready and prepared for breakfasts and dinners. I brown bag it every day also.

            today I am making:
            oatmeal in the crockpot
            sweet potato hummus
            pup-cakes (for the dog)
            banana muffins (for my husband’s snack)
            pot roast – pressure cooker
            turkey meatballs – other crockpot
            frittatta
            black bean and spinach stuffed sweet potatoes (lunch for me)

            it’s a lot easier in this cold weather to just do this in the kitchen in the morning then hang out the rest of the day with the family. I have to be organized or it all goes to hell.

            if you can kick diet soda permanently, you will be doing yourself a huge favor ! Good luck

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                I took it as money-saving tips to afford the hair-coloring, and was getting all inspired to budget-cook and get those red & blonde highlights I’ve been wanting. :)

                1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                  Also, it made me want a second crock pot and curse the day that I returned one that was a duplicate gift.

    3. MissDisplaced*

      Try doing an Ombre type of coloring or a “reverse” color.
      I did a reverse color and plan to go again soon. A reverse is the blonde underneath in the back (I have long hair) and a dark color on the top. You get flashes of the blonde from underneath and when you wear it up or in a pony. I loved it.

    4. saro*

      Do you have an issue with roots (as in gray hair)? If not, I would just use a semi permanent (rather than perm) in med brown rather than dark brown. Back in the day, I did this several times and my highlights remained but a bit darker (but not as dark as the rest of my hair).

    5. Clever Name*

      If you can afford it, go to the salon for everything. Find one stylist you like, and keep going to them. I’ve been going to the same stylist for 8 years. I’ve had highlights, blonde streaks, and purple hair. I always get compliments on my hair and hair color, and I can easily style my hair at home myself (I’m hairstyling challenged). Instead of worrying about which box to use and worrying about over processing your hair, an expert can take care of it.

  4. superanonanon*

    Anyone on both birth control pills and antidepressants? And if so, have you noticed a weight gain?

    I was on BCP for most of my twenties and noticed that I gained about five pounds while on it, but when I go off it, I lose the weight instantly. Last year, I started antidepressants (generic of Zoloft) and was warned that they could cause weight gain. I didn’t notice a big change, but then I started BCP again about six months later, and now, one year since I’ve been on both meds, I realized I’ve gained about ten pounds. I haven’t changed my eating habits at all, and I exercise all the time, so I think it’s probably the meds.

    Just curious to hear if any others have experienced anything similar.

    1. hermit crab*

      Yes, that sounds really normal based on my experience and what I’ve heard from others. I got an IUD last year (and stopped taking the pill) and instantly lost about five pounds. A while later, I started back on an SSRI after a few years’ hiatus and gained it back.

    2. Natalie*

      When I was on the pill it depended heavily on the brand. Switching to an IUD was a godsend. I’d look into that if you haven’t already.

      1. Lizzie*

        Nice to hear comments about losing weight after switching to an IUD from BCP. I am very eager to make the switch after 2.5 years on the pill, but I feel like everything I see on the internet is about weight gain on IUDs.

        1. Natalie*

          I didn’t actually lose weight, I just went back to normal – no additional weight gain. And my period got lighter and shorter, which rules.

          One thing to keep in mind is that there’s two types of IUDs, copper and hormonal. They have different side effects and are effective for different lengths of time.

        2. hermit crab*

          I did a lot of research before getting mine, and I’m happy to chat if you have any more questions!

        3. CheeryO*

          I went from no BC to the hormonal IUD (Mirena) and didn’t gain any weight. In fact, other than hellish cramps for the first week and spotting for the first month, I haven’t had any noticeable side effects. And my period went away, which is a huge plus in my book!

          1. Rowan*

            Agreed. I haven’t gained weight (apart from right now, several years after I first got it, which is likely because I’m eating a LOT of cake) but I would happily have accepted a bit of weight gain in exchange for no period. I couldn’t have appreciated how much not having a period improves my overall quality of life.

          2. esra*

            Seconding this. I have the Mirena too. No weight gain, significantly more tolerable and regular periods.

            I had those bad, take you down for 2-3 days every cycle periods and was burning through sick days like nobody’s business.

    3. Calla*

      I gained like 20 pounds on Zoloft in under a year! My doctor halved the Zoloft and added Wellbutrin–I’m still working the weight off but it seems to have made a difference. I’m still on BCP, too (I use it only to control my periods so I am sticking to pill form). I haven’t noticed whether there’s a connection between the two since I was on BCP before I went on depressants.

    4. Megan*

      I definitely have in the past. Switching from Zoloft to Wellbutrin helped. I also tried a few different pills before settling on one with the fewest side effects. I remember one that had me craving carbs like it was my job, but a simple switch and I lost 15 lbs in a month.

    5. vvondervvoman*

      Hey! Sex educator here =) This is extremely common. If you really like how both meds are working, and the weight doesn’t bother you, then just know you’re normal. If you mind the weight, or either med isn’t working so well as to justify the weight gain, talk to both doctors about switching. It may take some time to find the perfect combination, but worst-case scenario is that you go back to your old (current) combination and deal with the 10lbs. If you really want to switch you might have to advocate hard for yourself. A lot of providers don’t think of 10lbs as a big deal. Good luck!

  5. Eva*

    Has anyone here had positive, transformative experiences with psychotherapy that they wouldn’t mind sharing? I love to hear those and it’s so rare that people in real life are forthcoming with them, but I figure maybe people won’t mind sharing them here.

    1. Cristina in England*

      I don’t know about psychotherapy per se, but I have recently read The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels, and it is fabulously practical. Both authors are therapists (psychologists I think?) and were frustrated that they didn’t have any way to help their patients feel better in an immediate way, they were only trained go go further back into childhood for the source of the problems, etc etc. The tools are concrete mental exercises that are designed to break negative/damaging thought patterns, like, for instance, getting stuck in a self-righteous rage when you feel wronged, making it impossible to reconcile with the wronger, such a significant other. If you are reluctant to go to therapy, or your problems aren’t severe enough for it, or you can’t afford it in time or money, etc etc, it might help. Some of the chat is a bit new-agey (the benevolent force of the universe), but the tools work.

    2. BRR*

      I went through therapy about 8 years ago in college and was in it for about 2 years. I don’t remember exactly what we talked about but I know it was very helpful.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      You know, a few years ago I was very much in a rut in my life, suffering from really low self-esteem, and depressed. Some of the depression (I now realize) was seasonal and related to an undiagnosed thyroid disorder, but some of it was just me.

      So I kind of hit a point where I was just a mess, and I decided I had nothing to lose by trying. It really did help in terms of identifying why I had such bad self esteem issues and other things in my life. I actually ended up only staying in therapy for about 3 months – we hit a point where I really didn’t think there was anything left to gain and we were just rehashing things and it was just…pointless. I felt like I got to a better place and that was that and it was time to move on.

      That was kind of a starting point in a whole series of big changes I made in my life that year. I left a position that was sucking the life out of me, and took a lateral reassignment to something completely different. I got a dog, which I mention because I think it made a huge difference – forced me out of the house when I was feeling down, made sure I was getting exercise, etc. Plus there is really nothing better for your self-worth than having a dog – they really do worship the ground you walk on. Then eventually I decided it was time to start dating, even if I wasn’t as thin as I wanted to be, etc….

      Now, what’s not clear to me is if I was ready to make a change on my own and therapy just helped along that path, or if it was the impetus. But it was part of a whole series of changes where I said “these things aren’t working – it’s time to change them or accept them, but I can’t keep being miserable about them.”

      I don’t know if that helps, but it’s my experience. I don’t think therapy can be a bad thing (well, maybe bad therapy can) and it can help you figure out why you think/act the way you do. But I think it’s good to go into it with a clear treatment plan or a plan to move on.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        “Please help me to be the person my dog thinks I am.”

        I saw that on a pillow once- needlepoint- I am still kicking myself for not buying it.

        I like your point about good vs bad therapists.I don’t want to expand here- but I think that it is very important to figure out if the therapist is helping you and to be very aware of that rare time where the therapist maybe hurting you.

    4. Occasional commenter, anon for this*

      I took DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) which combines one-on-one intimate work with one’s primary therapist (phd psychologist, in my case) with group meetings to practice general coping skills. (Individuals did not share intimate topics in the group setting to avoid any chance that other members would react unhappily.) The process took about 2 years but was worth it. I’ve also had cognitive behavioral therapy. In a sense, DBT = cognitive therapy + mindfulness training.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        My therapist was kind of a hippie (but also with a PhD) and all about meditation and mindfulness – I was a little skeptical at first but the mindfulness tricks were REALLY helpful when I had some flare-ups of anxiety.

    5. MLT*

      In my experience, depression is what happens when I need to make a life transition that I cannot figure out how to navigate on my own. Twice in my life I have worked with therapists in two different cities, and I was blessed each time with someone who could help me see what I could not on my own, who helped me face my fears, find my voice, love myself, set boundaries, and make the life changes I needed to. I highly recommend it.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I think this what I’m facing right now. What kind of therapist does one look up for assistance with mild depression having tho do with not knowing what to do with oneself, and how do you tell them that that’s what it is? I don’t even know how to begin — I just thought something was defective about me that I couldn’t just be happy, for the love of Pete

        1. MLT*

          The first time I had a recommendation for a psychotherapist from someone I worked with. The second time was also a psychotherapist, and I met her when I took an art therapy workshop she led. A psychotherapist usually is not a doctor, so does not prescribe meds. Sometimes they recommend medication to help keep you balanced while you work through tougher issues, and you have to get that through a psychiatrist or MD. I used antidepressants on both occasions, but worked my way back off of them, and haven’t needed them again for about 15 years now (yea!)

          The second period of depression was easier to navigate because I understood the process better, so it didn’t scare me – I knew I would come out better by the end. Insurance often covers some psychotherapy. Expect it to take longer than you think it should… be patient with the process if you want lasting results.

    6. Sunflower*

      It depends on when you go into it and what you want to get out of therapy.

      I’ve technically had 3 different therapists- I had 2 in college(1 was a social worker, the other a grad student) and 1 I recently parted ways with. The first time I was in therapy, I was going through a terrible breakup and it was crisis management. The second time I was having some issues but was overall in okay shape.

      In college, I did not connect with the grad student but I had a great experience with the social worker. The guy I was seeing left me for someone else- he was mind eff-ing with me for 6 months prior to and continued to do it well into his new relationship. I was a mess. I was having a lot of illogical thoughts and therapy was a place I could go to help put them in perspective and help me to make the right actions because of them. I’m so thankful I had therapy because it stopped me from making irrational decisions

      The second time I decided to go because I was having some crazy overreactions to things as well as issues with my mother. I ultimately felt like I wasn’t getting what I needed from my therapist but I did have a positive experience and it did help me realize that 1. My feelings were valid and 2. I was able to stand up to my mother.

      So I did find both situations helpful but I think a lot of therapy is trying out different therapists until you find one that clicks.

    7. Christy*

      I definitely have. I started going to therapy for my anxiety in September 2013, and it’s made a world of difference. It took me three tries to find a therapist I liked and clicked with, but it was worth it. I’m in a much better place than I was, with regards to my relationship with my partner and my relationship to my body. Highly recommended.

    8. Natalie*

      I’m just wrapping up 4 years of therapy and it literally changed my life. I’m more satisfied in basically every different facet and I feel like an entirely new person. The right therapist makes a huge difference.

    9. Noah*

      I don’t know if this counts as psychotherapy, I’m not 100% sure of the definitions. However, over the past year I’ve been seeing a psychologist for cognitive behavioral therapy in dealing with ADHD in addition the psychiatrist who simply gave me drugs and said “good luck.”

      For me it has been a game changer and has greatly improved my performance at work. It helps me to recognize when I’m thinking negatively or using an all-or-nothing approach to something. In addition, strangely enough, it has improved my relationships with people and helped me to focus on what is good in my life instead of just pushing people away and having a set of self-hate speeches.

      I’m not knocking medication. It gave me the ability to sit through a meeting and focus on something long enough to get it done. Therapy though has taught me ways to use how my brain is wired to my advantage.

    10. Glor*

      I have!

      So, long story very much shortened: I grew up in an abusive household and “church” [read: cult], and then had some really ugly issues with assaults about six years ago. I had been in counseling on and off for about a year before I moved to Washington, and it was sorta-helping in the sense that it gave me a safe place to vent.

      In 2009 I had a nasty breakdown and entered what I call Hardcore Therapy — the stuff that takes you down to your bones and helps you rebuild. I’ve done a mix of CBT, DBT, EMDR, and a couple other forms I couldn’t name. It … overall, therapy saved my life, literally. It also helped me put myself together in a way that’s still fragile and learning and growing but I’m doing it on my terms with people I choose for my family.

      I’ve gone from having daily PTSD attacks to having issues once or twice a week in a bad week, and a 3-5 a month routinely. I still have issues, of course, but my life is no longer ruled by triggers and panic attacks, and while I struggle with depression [and will for the rest of my life], it’s become a small part of me, rather than ruling my life.

    11. NOLA*

      I had a lot of difficulties with grief (and sliding into depression) after my parents died around 10 years ago. Therapy with a social worker did wonders for me — helped me bring my troubles back into perspective and set boundaries. She was willing to refer me to a psych if I needed medication, but talk therapy was enough for me to break out of the rut. I went for about 6 months. Might be time for a tune up actually

    12. anon today*

      I’ve had many years of therapy on and off, and am on now for about 10 years with a therapist whose orientation is psychoanalysis. It has so transformed my life that it is almost unrecognizable from what it was, even as most of its contours have not changed (same job, still single). I come from an extremely dysfunctional family and had a lot to unpack/unlearn/get rid of in terms of really nonproductive and even destructive behaviors that made total sense when I was a child at home, but not now. And – it was a ton of really hard and painful work. But I have started using the word contented in my life and feeling like I have a full life, and there is a feeling of freedom as well as. The quality of my life has increased a million fold, where I think the quality of my life before was close to zero. Life is not perfect, and I certainly still do some old behaviors, but I have a good life.

    13. Sherm*

      I went to a therapist with some pretty serious OCD and extreme social anxiety. My OCD wasn’t in the “checking and cleaning” variety; rather, I played endless mental games with myself. Anyway, my shrink was practiced in cognitive-behavioral therapy. One thing he recommended was to turn the tables and purposely think horrible thoughts, thoughts if said aloud would shock people, and notice that I didn’t get struck by lightening for thinking them, haha. Things worked really well! In just about 6 weeks I made a huge dent into my OCD. Now, I’m not even sure if I still have the disorder.

      The social anxiety was harder, and I worked with him for 3 1/2 years. I have gone from severe to moderate on the strong side, I would say. But the improvement may as well have meant the difference between floundering in life to making it on my own.

    14. Anon for this...*

      I’ve been in therapy for about 10 months following an emotionally abusive relationship with an addict who isolated me and made my life hell, and the changes that have followed since. Quickly it became about everything that lead to that point, and not so much about the relationship but why it was okay with me for so long.

      Sometimes I want to quit, and sometimes I don’t think it’s doing anything but bring me down, and other times I feel like I’m going in circles and beating dead horses, but generally it has been well worth the time and money.

      1. EG*

        I’ll second the feeling of going in circles and beating dead horses. The upside is that I’ve seen how going over the same stuff again can result in a breakthrough that I would not have anticipated. For me, therapy gives me someone I can safely unload everything to without fear of judgement. Often times, being able to verbalize problems helps significantly.

  6. Cristina in England*

    Just want to sing the praises of Ziploc (or other brands of zip-top) plastic bags. I would like to nominate them for a Nobel Peace Prize. They are the most useful damn little things I own.

    1. Artemesia*

      I believe they were one of the spin offs of the space program — at least my Dad who was in the space program always told us. He was always full of wonderful things besides trips to the moon the space program did for humanity.

    2. Katie the Fed*

      They really are. Whenever I travel internationally I bring a bunch in many sizes – they’re so useless.

      Another super useful thing – Lekue microwave steam pots. They’re great for steaming veggies or fish or chicken for a quick dinner. I bring these up because I used to love the ziploc steaming bags until I discovered these things.

    3. KAZ2Y5*

      I am packing up my house since I am moving and have discovered that there are 2 gallon ziplock bags. Just the perfect size for any paperwork that you don’t want to/can’t fold. How did I function without this size before?!

    4. Stars and violets*

      I have a drawerful of them. They are an absolute Godsend when travelling and great for dry food if the original packet doesn’t seal properly (and take up less space too). Thank you, NASA!

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      They really are the greatest things ever. My parents lived in Saudi Arabia for many years, in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Shopping there, for anything, was always an adventure. You never knew what you would find. Convenience items like Ziploc bags, bungee cords, or any of those random things you don’t think about until you need them were pretty much non-existent.

      After my parents moved back to the US, my mom rediscovered Ziploc bags, and was in heaven. For a long time, if anyone in her vicinity needed to store something, she would say, “Wait, let me get a…..Ziploc bag!” in a sort of reverent tone of voice. It was so funny.

    6. Alfred Nobel*

      I’m sorry but the perennial recipient for the Nobel Peace Prize is the mute button on the TV remote control.

    7. pony tailed wonder*

      I agree – I am currently in the middle of going through my jigsaw puzzle boxes and getting all the pieces into ziplock bags and putting them back into the boxes. I just reorganized and discovered random pieces from unknown puzzles on the floor where I kept my puzzles before.

    8. HR Manager*

      Yes, same here, and it kills me to throw them out. I try not to throw them out unless they are really gross or have held something I can’t cross-contaminate with anything else. I have boxes from Costco of ziplocs in varying sizes.
      I’ve recently taken to buying a Food Saver because I felt bad throwing out so many ziploc baggies, but I still find myself reaching for the simplicity of a ziploc bag.

  7. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    My family (mum, stepdad and two teenage siblings) are up for the long weekend.

    I love them, and I miss them, but… oof, our house feels VERY full.

    1. Editor*

      Yes. My dream has always been to have a house so large and well-situated my entire extended family wants to visit at various times, but with a master bedroom suite that has a sitting area so that I can close the door for a while, put up my feet, and recharge without sitting on the bed.

      It’s would be a totally wasteful use of space to have so much room for one person. But then, I’ve always liked houses with useless space, like huge landings and bay windows with window seats, and so on — places to hide in plain sight.

  8. Cactus*

    New reader here. Just wanted to comment to say that I think your cat is adorable and I love torties.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Seconding the welcome! She might actually be a calico — she has lots of white on her stomach and tips of her paws. I’m not totally clear on the separation between the two. Regardless, she is adorable :)

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Yep–torties are two mixed colours other than white, although sometimes torties have small white patches. Cats with large white patches, or three evenly-mixed colours are calicos. I have one of each–my tortie is black-and-caramel muddled, and my calico is white with gray and caramel patches all over.

        Calico cats are usually considered to be good luck! And the woman who I boarded my cats with during my wedding said that torties tend to be chatty, sometimes irritable, and take a while to warm up to new people, after which they want to be inseperable. I don’t think there’s anything really “to” the cat-colour-personality thing, but I view it kind of like astrology in that it entertains me.

  9. Aussie Teacher*

    Does anyone else knock their arms and legs into things often and bruise easily? I seem to have terribly spatial awareness and am always banging my knees under the table, or cracking my elbow on the edge of a doorframe etc. Currently I have 6 dark bruises dotted over my legs and it looks awful! I’m still a SAHM but once I go back to work I’m not sure how to hide them. Ideally I’d like to stop hurting myself but I generally do it at home, where you would think I know the layout of furniture etc the best! Any advice (for not hurting myself in the first place and for hiding leg bruises in particular at work in summer)?

      1. fposte*

        I punched myself in the nose in bed. Really hard, to the point I was afraid there was going to be black eye effects. (Pulling up a stuck blanket and lost my grip on the slick edging.)

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          Haha fposte I’ve clocked my husband in bed a few times snuggling closer and trying to pull my pillow nearer to his face and had my grip slip. Nothing like waking up your loved one with a punch to their face!

    1. Ruth (UK)*

      Is it possible to change the layout in a way that would help? Or somehow pad the places where you know you hurt yourself most? In my head I’m kinda thinking of the padding that is often put around goal posts in rugby so you don’t bang into the post, but just into a pad if you end up crashing… obviously nothing that drastic, but some foam?

      If you’re worried about hiding bruises… I’d say it depends on how much they stand out. If they’re elbows/knees, they’re areas that commonly bruise anyway and I doubt people will notice much and if they do you can just mention that you’re often clumsy and crash into things. Bruises only look suspicious if they’re in ‘soft’ areas, or look like grab marks, etc… I played rugby for a number of years and got a load of bruises on my upper legs and inner thighs… which the doctor questioned me about at a gynae appointment (which was super awkward).

    2. GOG11*

      When I first started at my job with my wrap-around desk, I’d run into the corner of the desk ALL. THE. DAMN. TIME. It was so terribly bruised. I’ve been there shy of 2 years now and I have run into the desk in about a year and the longer I was there the more time there was between incidents.

      I tend to not clear doorways in my house (I have bad peripheral vision and run into the door frames) but I have done a lot better at work than I do at home. I think many work places are designed to have wider walkways to accommodate more traffic than the average home and, if this is the case in your work place, it’ll be easier for you to give furniture a wider berth.

      As for bruises, hose/tights, longer skirts/dressy capris/bermuda shorts, and maybe make up of some sort? I’d go with the first two first, though. My perpetual bruise was on my hip/upper thigh so it wasn’t ever visible.

      Good luck :)

    3. Katie the Fed*

      I’m a klutz. Having a small kitchen doesn’t help either. Also, I read once that PMS makes women clumsier, and I swear I drop things and bump into things more than normal when I’m PMSing.

      I will say that I don’t really bruise easily though, which is good. Every once in a while I get a really gnarly one though.

      If you bruise a lot you might want to make sure you’re taking a multivitamin – some deficiencies can make you more prone to bruises.

    4. soitgoes*

      Are you tall? You wouldn’t think so, but it’s surprising how often things don’t fall into your line of sight when you’re on the taller end of things. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been walking down a sidewalk with a shorter friend, and then I stumble because I’ve been matching the natural stride of someone who has much shorter legs. Ugh and don’t get me started on the back pain caused by making conversational eye contact with people shorter than me and sitting in typical admin-style office furniture (which had been adjusted for a shorter woman).

      These probably seem like innocuous issues, but it’s really helpful to be consciously aware of how, if you’re tall, basic stuff like good posture can remedy a lot of random body probz.

      1. Noah*

        How about our inability to see stoplights? Even with my seat all the back, and all the way down, I still have to lean forward and kinda duck down to see the stoplight if I’m the first one there. Never really though about it until an ex pointed it out.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Or see stuff in the refrigerator; put it in, it’s way down, forget it’s there until it reaches out for you when you open the door. I need one of those ones where the freezer is on the BOTTOM.

    5. Nina*

      Yes, I do this all the time with my arms. I don’t bruise easily, but I will notice a soreness on my elbows or wrists later on. It happens more in doorways than furniture. I just wish the doorways were wider.

    6. hermit crab*

      I decided a while back to just own my clumsiness. I figure it means that my brain is just tied up with loftier pursuits. :) However, I do tend to get hard-core inner-arm bruises after getting blood drawn so I end up wearing long sleeves for a few days regardless of the season.

    7. Jazzy Red*

      I get very clutzy when I need my glasses changed. Besides nearsightedness, I have a slight astignatism. When I walk into the doorframe instead of through the door, or when I crash my drinking glass into the faucet, I know it’s time to see the eye doctor.

      If you haven’t had your vision checked in the last few years, you might want to do that.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I used to bruise really easy and it looked like someone beat me. No one beat me. I wear jeans around the house most of the time to protect my legs. After ripping out a toenail on two separate occasions I usually keep real shoes on my feet.

      Exercise might help- making you more mindful of how your body moves.

      My other suggestion is to check to see how often you are hurrying. Hurrying can get to be a habit. See if you catch yourself hurrying, when you don’t need to. For example, are you hurrying to sit down and that is what causes you to bang your legs on the table.

      Start by making a deliberate effort to stop banging into certain things. For example: Spend a week, targeting doorways. Decide each time you encounter a doorway you are going to be mindful of it. Then move on to the coffee table and other short furniture, the following week. Whatever makes sense to you.

      How’s your inner ear and/or your sense of balance?

    9. Mimmy*

      Hi, are you me?? I have a vision impairment, and one of the impacts is poor depth perception. I’m ALWAYS bumping into things. It’s a miracle when I don’t have a least one bruise on at least one of my extremities. I always wear pants to my volunteer gigs, even in the summer, so I’m covered there (no pun intended).

      1. Mimmy*

        I should add that I do wear thick glasses, so while my peripheral vision isn’t great, having thick glasses can affect your field of vision also. I used to wear contacts, but gave that up about 10 years ago when I yet again ripped a lens! I was heading out for a concert that night too!! :(

    10. Anx*

      Yep.

      I bruise pretty easily on my arms. Like my bf can go to hug me and I have to leave the room because I feel bruisy woozy, which is when I get woozy from getting a bruise (blood phobia manifesting).

    11. Kathryn*

      I’m super clumsy and bruise easily.

      What I have found that helps:
      Eye doctor – people are mostly sight oriented, if your vision is off you’re not going to aim properly through space.
      Good nutrition – I run anemic, my body doesn’t process iron well, so I have worked to figure out what I need to eat regularly to help it out. There are a host of vitamins that are part if the bruising and healing cycle, make sure you’re topped off on all of them.
      Physical therapy/proprioception work – I have a joint disorder that makes it difficult for my brain to keep track of where my limbs are, which makes me pretty clumsy. To counteract that, I do balance work and resistance work to make sure my stabilizer muscles are really strong and can respond quickly when I misstep. Play catch on an unstable surface (foam pad or bosu) … On one leg. Do ballet barre exercise in a pool. You want weird off angle work more than jogging or other straight forward forms of exercise.

      If it’s really bad, you might want to bring it up with a doctor, bruising easily and not healing from bruises quickly are symptoms of some moderate to serious things that it’s good to rule out if you can.

    12. Girasol*

      When I was in Tae Kwon Do I would bruise my forearms and shins awfully with the kicking and blocking. I found that vitamin C in large doses – 2 grams is what it took for me – made a world of difference. It reduced the black-and-blue appearance and the soreness and swelling too, very noticeably.

    13. saro*

      I am so happy to have found my people in this thread. My dad suggested I wear my soccer shin guards inside the house.

    14. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I keep hitting my hips on the corners of things, and I’ve finally realized that it is because I’ve gained weight and haven’t made the cognitive adjustment as to where my body is spatially in relation to, say, the corner of the computer desk. I think it will take a conscious effort to recalibrate what had previously been an unconscious act. That, or lose some weight.

    15. Treena Kravm*

      No practical advice for stopping the bruising, but my Mom has a similar issue, except she bruises if you poke her with a finger. Over time, she got really frustrated and angry when her dr’s kept trying to screen her over and over for domestic violence (because she had other, real health concerns she wanted to discuss in those damn 20 minutes). I would just get used to being really upbeat and laugh off any concerns– the bruises are not a big deal, aaand moving on. DV people tend to take offense or rush to deny anything is going on and if you do that then their concerns will only grow. But if you stay “happy” then you have a shot of them believing you!

    16. Aussie Teacher*

      Thanks everyone, this is super helpful! A few quick replies:
      I’m not super tall (5’8.5) but I do have long skinny arms & legs that I bang into things.
      I never thought about nutrition and/or vitamins to combat bruising – will have to look into it.
      My balance is pretty good (I think) and my eyesight is excellent.
      NSNR – Hurrying may actually be part of the problem, and I love your suggestion to target one thing at a time (e.g. doorways, sitting down at the table and cracking my knee underneath) for a short period!
      Thanks again :)

  10. fposte*

    Is it just me that iTunes hates, or does it actually kind of suck? I’m fed up with the cumulative problems after updating my iPad.

    First off, there’s the age-old “cutting off the end of tracks” thing, which is particularly annoying with classical music, show tunes, etc., where there’s an actual *end*–but apparently iTunes doesn’t care if you hear it or not.

    Then there are the tracks that I had foisted on me like eight devices ago, that I have deleted from everything umpteen times, and that still refuse to die. I apparently Got Yr Cherry Bomb til the end of my life.

    Then there are the albums I’ve purchased and now listen to on Spotify instead because iTunes has screwed them up. Some of them are doubled, and deleting the extra tracks leads iTunes to hastily redownload the dupes. Deleting the whole album (twice) just leads it to download twice. One of them only contains three tracks on the iPad; that’s not just a display thing, I look by artist or album and it’s still just three tracks. But it’s a full album and I paid for all the tracks; I go to the iTunes account and it doesn’t let me redownload because it says I have all the tracks.

    To say nothing of the default to displaying the damn store when I just want to go back to what I was playing, and the increasingly opaque interface. Feh. I think I may have to see what Amazon Music can get me.

    1. Mad Lola*

      Apple stinks all around. New company gave me Mac Book for work and it is nuts. Nothing is where it is suppose to be, and it doesn’t talk nice with the rest of corporate America. I find the navigation for common business applications strange.

    2. Lady Bug*

      I hate itunes, but unfortunately it’s what you’re stuck with when you use i-products. I don’t download from the itunes store though. I use Amazon music alot, and still buy actual cds sometimes. The amazon songs come straight over to i-tunes and I don’t have any issues with them playing on my ipod.

      I used to have a problem where my ipod would start playing the next track before the current one was done, but I found a setting to change that. Of course I can’t remember what that setting is.

    3. Nina*

      Ugh, ITunes is such a mess. Any time I open it on my computer, it freezes everything for about five minutes while it loads. Even if no other programs are running. It wasn’t always so problematic; I don’t know what Apple has done to it.

      1. fposte*

        That’s what bugs me too–it really didn’t use to be so bad, and it was streamlined enough that I could forgive the occasional glitch. But it’s too much now and I’m really grumpy with it.

        1. Nina*

          I’m wondering if they’re pushing out the programs too soon without checking for all the glitches. Before, they could take their time because Apple was the most sophisticated program and it was linked to the most popular MP3 player. Now they have competition from major companies like Amazon, and other radios like Slacker, Pandora, etc.

          1. Mimmy*

            I think Apple pushes out a lot of their programs too quickly, particularly the seemingly-annual iPhone upgrades.

    4. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Ugh, yes. iTunes used to be amazing, but now I hear so many complaints from people.

      I went to Spotify Premium about six months ago and I haven’t looked back.

    5. Rebecca*

      I have a relatively ancient Sansa mp3 player, and when I thought about upgrading it, and saw all the problems with iPods and newer mp3 players, I shelved the idea. This one works, it’s a bit clunky and only 2GB, but at least it plays audio book chapters in the right order.

    6. Sunflower*

      I just updated itunes and WTF!!! i have no idea how to do anything! I can’t figure out how to add a song directly to a playlist on my ipod. I have to add the song and then go into my ipod and add it to the playlist. It’s always freezing and causing issues. Plus why is there a new update every time I log on? Probably because it sucks so much!

      1. Raine*

        Oh it’s about the most user-UNfriendly thing out there. I swear I’ve tried dozens of times to make playlists the way I want and can’t, or only do so accidentally. And I’d also really like the option of just streaming and not having to download absolutely everything.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          User un-friendly — Yes! I have albums that I’ve bought, but I’m in some sort of weird loop of not being able to find it unless I buy it again and not being able to buy it again because it says I already have it. I just want to switch all my music out to some platform where I can just easily listen to it instead of getting bogged down in a technological wild goose chase over it. Is Spotify what people are using for that now?

          1. fposte*

            That’s the one I mostly know about and use (though I still like Pandora for radio-style listening, too).

            The thing is, I like to *own* stuff. And I get that buying from iTunes isn’t really ownership in the way CDs were, but even Spotify Premium is just about your right to play the music, when I wish to make it mine.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Yeah, I want to own the music, too. So I’m looking for a non- iTunes management system for that.

    7. Natalie*

      No, it’s not just you. I just heard something on NPR (maybe Marketplace Tech?) about how the updates keep making it worse, and Apple is going to lose customers if they don’t get their stuff together.

      FWIW, the songs cutting off thing is a setting you can change. I don’t remember how but Google can probably help.

      1. fposte*

        I guess I’m glad it’s not just me. And it’s the cumulative thing–probably all of these things are fixable, but hell’s bells, that’s a lot of things I have to hunt down a fix for, possibly sync stuff for, sign in for, etc. I’m just going to complain instead.

    8. fuyu*

      Have you tried unselecting the crossfade option? I think that that stops iTunes from cutting off the ending of songs

      1. fposte*

        It’s off on the computer and the iPad–which is where I was running into the problem recently–doesn’t even seem to have the crossfade option.

        And this is part of the suck factor. Even if the actual fix only takes a minute, you have to dig around on thirty other fixes first before you find the one that actually, you know, fixes.

    9. Noah*

      I’ve a solid Apple user, iPad, iPhone, and recently a MacBook. I despise iTunes, although I will admit the Mac version is slightly better than Windows. I’m so glad you don’t have to use it anymore to update iOS. I have several albums that are all split up because of differing artist being on the same album along with lots of duplicates that have been created over time. iTunes Match service didn’t help either. I basically just ignore the mess now and listen to Spotify or Pandora most of the time.

      Amazon Music works with both Mac and PC and imports your stuff automatically into iTunes so it will sync with your iPhone, iPad, iPod, or whatever.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I hate the proprietary format. To put my music on other devices / play on my computer without clunky iTunes, I have to convert and it doesnt’ always go. If I paid for it, I should get to choose the damn format.

    11. steve g*

      The problem with amazon is that the music selection is quite limited, if you are looking for any digital music from before the site was developed. There are lots and lots of top 100 hits from the 80s that aren’t on there at all, and the music is very american-centric, which can be annoying for those with a second language/country….

    12. INTP*

      iTunes is horrible and it gets worse with every update. I think maybe they’re intentionally trying to torture people because they force you to update to the latest, most awful version for no reason. (Well, they say that your device doesn’t support the older form of iTunes, but I can’t figure out why my 5 year old ipod would not be able to support a 2 year old version of iTunes.) The only reason to use it is if you have an iphone/ipad/ipod and you want easy syncing.

    13. Mimmy*

      I don’t use iTunes much, but I hear you all about how confusing it is. I just downloaded a song on Monday for my first time (yeah….I’m behind the times, lol)….a simple process, right? WRONG!! It took several steps, had no clue what the heck I was doing but clicked clicked clicked anyway. I ended up totally screwing up the synching between all of my devices (iMac, iPhone and iPad). My husband got it all back in order for me, and now I know to let him help me next time I try to download music!!

      By the way, y’all have me wishing I hadn’t gone to exclusively-Apple last year! I like that I can sync everything among my devices now (calendar, reminders, etc), but it’s just as buggy as Microsoft Windows was!!

      1. GH in SoCAl*

        You guys are making me feel better about my decision, years ago, to use Windows Media Player as my primary music organizer. I buy almost everything via Amazon — usually I buy the CD and get the MP3s for free. WMP has its glitches but it’s generally good at keeping the albums properly organized and accessible. Since I got an iPhone, I use iTunes to sync podcasts and audiobooks, and occasionally a travelling playlist, but I’ve found it too opaque to switch over entirely. And I will keep refusing the updates!

    14. Buggy Crispino*

      Sounds like I’m the odd man out here – I really have very few problems with iTunes. I’m a Mac user with mostly Apple accessory products, iPhone, iPad, iPod, Apple TV and a few Apple Airport expresses throughout the house to extend my speakers to various rooms. Virtually trouble free (however iTunes does seem to think I own two copies of every album by The Boxer Rebellion, so it plays every song twice before moving on to the next track). I do have a problem using my iPod in my Ford with Microsoft Sync, but I think that comes down to the Apple and MS products sometimes pretending to be the Hatfields and the McCoys (gapless albums only play gapless if the album has already been playing when I start the car; the Sync lady can’t understand 10,000 Maniacs or Tool’s album 10,000 Days – you have to ask her to play album Ten-Oh Days or artist Ten-Oh Maniacs) minor stuff like that.

      I DO agree and I personally feel like Apple’s rollout of products and software updates has been really sloppy lately. When I first started using Apple products I feel like they were flawless by the time they hit the market. Now I don’t do any upgrades until at least the upgrade fix is available.

      I’ve used Spotify and like it in general, but I REALLY don’t like the idea of always using part of my data allowance to listen to music, and I don’t like that it sometimes has to buffer and stutters from time to time. Are there other options to using Spotify that don’t force you to use data to stream? Our data network at work is slow and miserable, there’s no way I could stream music from that. I tend to use a lot of data streaming Netflix and Hulu and other video files, I just can’t see streaming music if it can exist on a hard drive somewhere.

    15. skyline*

      I also have purchased songs disappearing off my iPhone randomly and having to be redownloaded. For no apparent reason. Argh.

    16. HR Manager*

      I refuse to use any Apple product because of iTunes (I have no animosity towards Apple per se). It tried to take over my PC many years ago, and I never forgave it. It is not allowed on any of my laptops/devices (I’m an android gal anyway).

  11. Masters Degree Searcher*

    The new (contract 8 months long) job starts next week. My last day at my current job is the day before. My rationale is that I need to make money uninterrupted, etc. but I hear some people taking a week off; what are the reasons, and what is usually preferred?

    Also, a pet peeve of mine is when people change plans very last minute, which disrupts my schedule. Case in point: parent promised to visit today, I asked if parent wanted to go to an event, he declined, so I thought I’d spend the day with parent instead (so I declined the event too). Then the parent said he was too sick to show up and then I was left with nothing to do. So I went to an ice sculpture fest. What do you do when your weekend plans get upended?

      1. Cristina in England*

        I realize that may have sounded snarky but it wasn’t. Unless my plans are with a friend I haven’t seen in a very long time, I am relieved to have the free time on my hands. Free time is a precious precious gift!

      2. nep*

        This is me.
        Rejoice, indeed. Nothing against the person I was supposed to meet, but damn I love the surprise gift of a bit of extra time to myself.

      3. the gold digger*

        Is there anything better than time you get to spend by yourself without guilt? I don’t think so. I took the bus to work for a few years and loved it. I have to drive myself now and I bitterly resent it. I have lost 90 minutes a day of reading time. Driving is alone time, but it is not restful and it is not productive.

        So yeah – I, too, rejoice when someone cancels plans with me.

    1. Jen RO*

      I took a week or more between jobs when I either had holidays scheduled or previous job paid out unused PTO days.

    2. Kathryn*

      Congrats on the new gig!

      If I can swing it, taking a week or two between jobs lets me fully distress and allow myself to forget about OldJob and really rev up to hit NewJob running. Going straight from one to the other is good for the bank account but weird and hard on my brain.

      As for plans getting disrupted, my immune system sucks, so I’d rather not see sick people. I just reschedule with the people who are important to me, and if I have weekend plans with them, they are, and either make surprise plans or go do laundry/ clean something I was trying to ignore.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I like to take a week or so of between jobs, too. The only thing that was a little bit bad about the transition when I quit my university job to go work for the same boss at his private firm is that I felt pressured to start for him sooner than I would have if I’d gone to an unrelated job. I took only a four-day weekend instead of a full week, was I would otherwise have done.

    3. INTP*

      I like taking a week in between. The point is to fully destress, take care of any cleaning or grocery stocking-up that needs to be done, get plenty of sleep, do laundry, prep lunches and outfits…

      Basically, I know that don’t want to be late, take time off, take off early, show up with wet hair, etc if at all possible in the first month or two of the new job. So the point is to just get prepared in every way. Make sure I am well-rested mentally and physically so I won’t get sick or burned out. Make sure I’m not behind on any household chores so I can relax on my weekends. Make sure I have my stuff for lunches, outfits, beauty routine, etc well-organized so I won’t run late. That sort of thing. But I don’t think it’s 100% necessary, it just makes the new job process a little easier.

    4. Mimmy*

      Plans being upended: For me, it depends on the event. In most instances, I just curse then find something else to do. But if it’s something I really didn’t want to do or if I have a lot to do, then I might rejoice.

    5. Sheep*

      I’m actually taking four weeks this time.. I have my last day at CurrentJob on the 23rd, and then start at NewJob on the 22nd of Feb. But I’m moving countries, and spending a little time at home (home country) in between.

  12. Katie the Fed*

    So, hubby and I have decided we need to move to a bigger house, probably within the next year. This 900-sq ft 1-bedroom condo just isn’t cutting it. We both lived alone before and still have lots of stuff, despite our paring down efforts, and with two cats and a dog it’s just…small. Not to mention the one bathroom – ack.

    I’m SO not feeling like selling this place. I don’t even want to think about it. I’m hoping we can swing a down payment on a new house and move there before we have to put the current condo on the market – we might lose a bit of money paying two mortgages but it seems like nice peace of mind if we can afford it.

    Then comes finding anything close to what we want in an area we want. The DC area is so hard. I want a big yard for gardening, a basement for storage, and a nice big kitchen. He wants something close to metro or a bus, and neither of us wants a really long commute. And then we have to think about school districts for any future offspring. Oh, and we’re both civil servants so we’re not exactly loaded, although we each have good savings. I don’t know how we’re going to be able to get what we want at a price we can afford.

    GAHH!

    1. Cristina in England*

      Sympathies!! House hunting is so complicated. We moved twice in the last 18 months and I hope we aren’t moving again for a very long time. Our compromise was to buy a house that needed everything renovated, electrics, kitchen, bathroom, you name it, it needs to be done (except the heating, yay!). This is the only way we could afford the area we wanted, as other similar houses here are about 25% more than we paid. We are going to have to renovate over a few years because of costs, but the house is liveable (did the electrics before we moved in) and is close to everything.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, part of the stress is that we want this to be our forever (well, for a long time) home. We don’t want to move again for 20+ years. We want to raise kids there, and I want to plant fruit trees, etc. So the stakes are high to get it right – it doesn’t have to be perfect but we want to stay where we buy. Something that needs renovations is doable, as long as they’re within reason.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Talk to a mortgage broker! (In fact, if you want a recommendation, email me and I’ll give you the contact info for the guy I’ve used the last two times I’ve bought and am using again this year, assuming we find a house we want.) They’ll be able to run all your numbers and tell you for sure whether you can hold on to the old place for a while after buying the new one, or whether the bank will require you to sell at the time time.

      It’s going to come down to your debt/income ratio — if it’s over 43% when carrying both mortgages (taking into account all other debt too, like credit cards, student loans, car payments, etc.), they won’t approve you for the new mortgage, even if you swear you’re going to sell the old place soon. But if you’re under that number, you should be able to do it, which can make house-hunting much easier (you won’t have to time the sale and purchase perfectly).

      I only know all this because I just had them run all my numbers to figure out my own real estate situation, since the log house hunt continues.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        That’s a good idea – I’ll check with the one I used on my last sale. I think we’d make that cut, so that’s good. Ideally I’d like to stay here a little longer to save a little more – we’re basically living only on one paycheck and can save the other so the longer we can make that work, the better.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I will add — I am house hunting too and LOVING it. I tend to like having a project that I can mainly do from the couch and my computer, and I’ve become addicted to browsing online real estate sites. I say embrace it and throw yourself into real estate porn like I have.

        1. fposte*

          See, I thought I’d love house hunting, because I love fake house hunting when you’re not actually buying anything. But suddenly when I had an actual decision to make involving hundreds of thousands of dollars it wasn’t nearly as fun. But it was okay and I’m happy with how it worked out–I just like it better when I’m only pretending to shop.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            Fake house hunting is a time honored sport! When I was a kid, my aunt & uncle had a real estate business, and that’s when I first heard about it. I love being a “lookey loo” and imagining where all my stuff would go in different homes.

            The real thing is fraught with anxiety, though. Too much money is at stake!

        2. periwinkle*

          For the past couple months, the happiest moment of my day came from logging into Redfin and clicking on the “new since last visit”. What wonders will appear today, O Magical Map of Houses?

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Yes! Me too. But when you’re looking for log houses, you only get something new appearing every couple of weeks. That does not stop me from checking daily though.

        3. Katie the Fed*

          I think I’d like it more if I was ready. We have to sell another place I own and have been renting (I bought at the top of the market and didn’t make sense to sell for a while). So we have to do that before we can seriously look, then I might enjoy it because we could make a move quickly if we saw the perfect place.

          The kitchen, man. I just want a big, beautiful kitchen with room to store and display my lovely kitchen things. Someone developed a little bit of a cookware addiction right after getting married and being spoiled by beautiful wedding gifts. :/

    3. Jean*

      Ouch! Good luck on squaring this particular circle. I hope you and DH find a solution that makes you both happy. If you want to get in touch offline (well, offline in terms of AAM) I can supply another email address. Not a homeowner but someone with 10+ years experience with one of the big public school districts in the DC area.

    4. Sail On, Sailor*

      Oh man, I hate moving. We bought a new house in 2013 and promised ourselves that we were going to stay put for at least ten years. The good news is that we love our new place! We made several compromises on our 1st house, so we went for it on this one and got 100% of what was really important to us (needed) and about 90% of what we wanted (cool stuff).

      It took us several months and several hundred homes to find it, though. I estimate that we viewed about 600 homes online, researched about 300 of those, and then walked through or drove by 150. I tell people that house-hunting was my 2nd job during that time.

      But all that time paid off. When we walked into our house for the 1st time during the open house, we looked at each other and just knew that this was the one. We laugh about it now, because we made a decision to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars after only 20 minutes of a walk-through. We had to move quickly, though, because we live in a hot market.

      So glad it’s over and we’re settled in!

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, you have my sympathies. We moved about 3 years ago, and won’t be moving again for a very long time, if ever. It was awful.

      Our old neighborhood started taking on a serious hillbilly vibe, so we decided to move. But we needed a house with a walk-out basement (a conclusion we arrived at after looking at about 40 houses) because my mother-in-law was going to move in with us. The only way that it was going to work was if we each had our own spaces — just a bedroom for her would make us all want to kill each other in the first month. A regular basement would have been too much like a dungeon. And this area does not have a lot of houses with walk-out basements, because it’s pretty flat, until you go to the south end of town.

      After looking at a grand total of 52 houses, almost putting in an offer on one place but then not doing it because I had cold feet (the place just didn’t feel right), and being outbid not once but twice, we finally found the perfect house. My husband called me at work, saying he had found a place that had been listed that day, and said we should go look at it the next day. I said, “Screw that, I can leave work right now and meet you there in 20 minutes!” Put in an offer for the asking price, and the deal was done. Finally.

      The sale of our old house is another very long, pretty horrendous story. But what an ordeal.

      Best of luck! My advice is to not settle for anything that doesn’t give you that nice warm fuzzy feeling. It’s what we did, and we have been so happy here…it’s a great school district and the neighbors are all awesome. It’s horribly stressful thing to do, but you’ll be so happy when it’s all done.

    6. Dan*

      Heh. Me and the ex did 5 years in a 725 sq ft 1BDR apartment in the burbs. Maybe we managed because I was working 50-60 hour work weeks and I wasn’t home much.

      What qualifies as a “long” commute? You won’t catch me doing a daily Loudon-DC commute any time soon.

      Presuming you work in the city, I feel like you have all kinds of option as to where to live. Me, my office is in Tysons, and I refuse to do the Beltway. So that cuts out tons of MD that I’d otherwise consider.

    7. VintageLydia USA*

      I’m in Manassas, less than a mile from the VRE station. Local traffic is non-existent, lots of grocery stores and big box stores within 10 minutes, as well as cool local restaurants, TWO breweries, and a bunch of mom and pop stores, with more constantly opening (area is definitely on an upswing.) My husband loves it here because he’s a HUGE DIYer and if you need a weird part you will almost always find a store in Manassas that sells it. Often the only store in the state/region that sells Weird Part will be in Manassas, actually. The schools are… getting better but aren’t great right now. Lots of private school options, both religious and secular, if that’s something you’ll be concerned about. I got a 4000 sqft 4 bdrm, 3 bath with more entertaining space than you can ever use and updated everything for the $350-400K range (I know that’s expensive for the most of the rest of the country but around here it’s a bargain.) It’s very easy to find affordable homes on quarter and half acre lots. Our farmer’s market is the best, within the top 10 of the state, and includes a winter market (less fruits and veggies, more meat and ready made goods like baked items.)

      The biggest downside, other than not being in the beltway (which considering the traffic in the beltway, it’s an even trade for me) is there is a lot more casual racism than I’m used to around here. I grew up in a military town where diversity was a given, even though it was Southern. Here, the neighborhoods are much more segregated and and judging by the events, activities, and politics of the local government you’d never know Hispanics make up 40% of the population. Also you hear a lot more “War of Northern Aggression” unironically. The Battlefields are the biggest tourist draw and there is a only slightly less glorification of the CSA than in Richmond. Slightly.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Manassas always seemed too far away for me, but this is a different side of it. I’d probably be able to have a big yard! The commute though – how long does it take to get from your door to your office (assuming you work in the district?)

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          I don’t work, but my husband works all over the region. It’s a solid hour if you take the train into the city, sometimes longer depending on how far in the metro system you need to go to get to where you need to. You can transfer to metro pretty easily at King Street, Crystal City, L’Enfant, and Union Station. The worst commute wise is when he needs to drive into the beltway but it’s not VRE accessible, like Falls Church. That can easily be a two hour commute one way.

  13. Anon this time*

    Both my parents and my in-laws keep pressing us on when are we going to buy a house? Both my DH and I put them off with “we haven’t really put in the time we need to look for one.”

    The real answer, though, has a lot to do with the fact that our relationship has been on rocky ground lately. We have no business buying real estate together until and unless we figure it out.

    But what do you say to your well-meaning parents who won’t shut up?

    1. Cristina in England*

      Guilty sigh. I spent ages trying to convince my best friend to buy a flat because the market was low and her wages are high and wouldn’t she just save up the deposit already, she makes so much money! Really she wasn’t emotionally ready to buy (because of stuff).
      Maybe just tell them you’re happy where you are (even if you’re not) and that you’re saving up for when you do eventually buy (which may be part of their concern, that you’re not future-planning). It isn’t really their business, but try to convince any parent of that!

    2. fposte*

      Aw, that’s a little nerve-wracking. I’d go for raising deflector shields–anything from a flip “We’re waiting till after we’ve got the yacht” to a simple “Not up to prepping for a move right now” to a strategic “Do you think that’s better than saving for retirement right now? Maybe we can look at financial stuff and you can explain why you think so.” The latter does mean you probably have to sit patiently through a lecture, but it can make them feel like they’re giving expert advice, and it may actually give you some time to look at finances (and maybe even find out if your parents are fixed okay).

      My best wishes to you on the home front working out for the best for you, too.

    3. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      To my parents, I’d say something like, “You know, Archie and I have talked about it and we think it’s not a big priority for us right now. We’re pretty happy with the place we’re renting. But it’s starting to stress me out that you’re asking about it all the time. I promise I’ll include you in all the house-hunting gossip when we are going for it, but in the meantime, let’s talk about other stuff, okay?” Then if they bring it up again, jokingly say, “Hey, no house talk! But did I tell you about [some totally different thing to change the subject]?”

      Depending on how close you are to your in-laws, you could say the same thing, or you could ask your husband to have a similar conversation with them.

      Good for you for being practical about real estate, though, and best wishes in figuring things out with your relationship.

    4. Elkay*

      I told my Dad if he thought I needed a house that badly he was more than welcome to buy me one. He stopped whining at me after that.

    5. Noah*

      I tell my parents to shut up frequently. We have a good relationship though and they take it well.

      Are you comfortable telling your parents that your relationship isn’t in the place to be buying a house together? As I’ve gotten older I’ve also gotten more comfortable sharing things with my parents.

      1. Anon this time*

        Absolutely not. It’s a strained relationship (with my parents, that is).

        In-laws have also offered to help with a down payment because they think that’s what’s holding us back. :(

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes — I’ve really noticed it in the past week. If it continues, I’ll take a heavier hand with stepping in and/or turning moderation on for repeat offenders. fposte suggested that it’s weather-related; I went back and looked and it turns out that the two times I’ve done a post asking people to be more civil were both in the winter!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh, very possible! People take off their Christmas clothes and put on their crankypants in January.

        I’ve been staying out of some of the threads, often because I have nothing to contribute and often because too much drama.

        If you need moderators, I’m sure there are a few of us who would be willing to help.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I remember one winter that started in October. By December the snow was up over the windows of my house and I could not see outside.
        We were getting up at 3 am to be at work by 8. It was horrible. Work was unbearable. Conversations were more like words firing out of machine guns. Since then I have watched and I agree winter wears on people. Every year I see this happening.

        1. Mimmy*

          Winter definitely wears on me. Last year was particularly horrible with constant snow and very cold temperatures. This year seems to be a bit warmer on average with very little snow, but I find winter to just be depressing. I love wearing warm, fuzzy pajamas and taking warm baths & showers, but I hate being cold to begin with! So yeah, I’d say winter definitely brings out the cranky pants.

          What about during the summer when it’s really, really hot? I’m curious if anyone notices extra snarkiness then too because you’re just so hot and miserable.

          1. fposte*

            I’m less tolerant in the summer, I know that, but I also am less likely to have the energy to bicker, so it probably doesn’t show as much.

      3. Noah*

        Wait a minute, according to the tv show The Librarians, we should all be stocked up with good cheer and happy thoughts again after Christmas. :)

        1. Not So NewReader*

          How many people do we see having happy holidays? There seems to be a lot of “stuff” that comes with getting through the holiday season.

    2. fposte*

      Yup. I’m sticking to my “this happens in winter” theory, now that it’s been bolstered by the timing of Alison’s past interventions. I think everybody is a little less able to think the best of other people’s responses when it’s dark and cold.

    3. knitchic79*

      It’s not just here, I’ve noticed our customers are much shorter tempered when the weather is cold or otherwise funky. I wonder if it’s because when something is so out of our control that it makes us lash out.

      1. knitchic79*

        The best was the one who had to have random weight prices explained. He was irate that the sign on the shelf said one thing and the piece of cheese in his hand said another. When I explained that the per pound price was what the shelf sign said and the sticker on the product was the price for that particular piece of cheese he shouted “I know that!” Not entirely sure what I missed with that one, but between it being extra cold that day and a full moon I figured I’d just let it go.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          In a similar vein, I was once in a fish restaurant with some tourists on the table next to me. One of them wanted lobster which was on the menu costing a particular price per 100g. He couldn’t understand that you had to buy a portion of lobster which would cost a particular weight, so he would be paying more than the price of 100g of lobster as shown in the menu.

          I think he ended up ordering steak.

      2. BRR*

        There was the one who was very rude to the person who didn’t like being video taped. I think in general the reader base needs to be reminded. It’s Alison practicing good management :).

    4. Mister Pickle*

      I thought it was just me. I got real tired of it.

      And while in theory I like the low barrier of entry – in practice it seems like anyone can come in and say anything the want, with no penalty, regardless of their qualifications (or lack thereof).

      1. nep*

        This sounds borderline elitist to me. I get, of course, that we want civil conversation here; the civil, intelligent exchange is one of the many attractive features of this site. But someone has to have some kind of qualifications?

        1. nep*

          Well, case in point: nep, you rarely post more than 1-3 lines in any comment, and very rarely touch on your background. If you want to be anonymous, that’s fine – except that if you comment on some technical aspect of (say) LinkedIn, I don’t know how much – if any – weight I should give to that comment. Are you a Captain of Industry? Are you a 2nd-shift stockboy at CostCo? Do you even have a LinkedIn profile? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. Is it “elitist” that I would weight the answer of someone who appeared to have some background on the topic over an anonymous random opinion? If I am a freshman in Chemistry, there’s a guy at the front of the class who claims to be the Professor, and there are a number of other people who appear to be college freshman. If I have a question, whose answer should I trust most? The Professor? Or some random person sitting in class?

          I am using you as an example, nep, but it’s nothing personal: there are many others who follow the same pattern.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I’m confused – are you talking TO nep or are you nep?

            Either way – I think the blog owner can decide who and how comments are made

            1. nep*

              Yes — that’s not the nep who used the phrase ‘borderline elitist’ above; this nep did. The person who wanted to develop the point further about credentials used ‘nep’. Fair enough, all. Love the forum, and Alison’s points here are spot on.

          2. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I think that’s not nep.

            Anyway, that’s really just the nature of blog comment areas. If you only want to listen to the person whose credentials you know, then you could just read the original post, since you know who I am and what my background is and can judge accordingly. But if you want to wade into discussion with other readers, pretty much by definition you’re going to be talking with people you don’t know much about since commenting is anonymous.

            I think you can generally get a good sense of how much weight to give someone’s perspective by listening to what they’re saying and how they’re saying it and what kind of case they’re making for their viewpoint, and many commenters do give some context for their views and their backgrounds. (That said, that’s why I’ll sometimes ask commenters questions to get more context about where they’re coming from, like what industry they’re in or how old they are or whether they’re in the U.S. or not — because occasionally that does seem really relevant to understanding they’re saying.)

            Anyway, comment sections are by definition discussions with strangers who you won’t know much/anything about. You either enjoy that or you don’t :)

  14. weird name gal*

    I love reading all the random thoughts here, especially loving the zip lock bag love!
    My husband and 18 yo son are in AZ today, so my 15 yo and I drove to be at our beach house for the night in Maine. I love Maine, the beach, and can’t wait to move to Portland one day. Alas, they don’t pay teachers as much in Maine as they do in MA……

  15. Cruciatus*

    I need more storage. While I live with my parents I have two rooms I use the most, my bedroom and a 10’X14′ room downstairs where I watch TV, have my computer, a couch, etc. But I don’t see things in my mind’s eye well and I’ve tried those virtual designer programs and they never quite have what I’m looking for. So how do I determine if I should go with bookcases, shelves or something else? And then where do I put them? And how on the wall? Just straight across or staggered or…or…or… And, as not a handy person (neither are my parents) how do I know what kind of shelves (if I go that way). Can I do floating?

    It’s a small multipurpose room (as I mentioned, I watch TV, sit on the couch, or at the computer hutch). There is only 1 wall free from either windows or large entryway from the foyer and I feel that’s maybe the best option (it’s the 10′ wall). Currently there is no furniture up against it. I don’t want to overwhelm the room which I think bookcases might do. But it’s easier to find bookcases with drawers or cabinets, which I’d like a bit of. Unlike in magazines, I will be using them for schtuff. Not decorative vases or something (no offense to people who do decorate that way–I’m just not at that point right now). But I think getting things off my hutch or out of the corners of the room will look nicer anyway. We’re talking books, board games, knick knacks, DVDs, DS games, paper work, a bit of random crap and that sort of thing (and just getting rid of things isn’t an option at the moment because I don’t wanna).

    Can anyone out there help me to better figure out what makes the most sense in this space?

      1. Cruciatus*

        Unfortunately it’s a 2 hour trip there so it’s not the easiest thing to do, at least right now in a northeastern winter. But I do think I need to. It’s one thing to see something online and another to see it in person. Maybe something will click then.

        1. Colette*

          Seconding IKEA, particularly their cube shelves. If you get one with eight cubes, for example, you can lay it on its side. There are doors or bins that fit, too, which is handy.

    1. fposte*

      You might look on houzz.com for inspiration. You can search within a huge amount of photos, or look in the “Stories” section for concepts that are linked together with text. I just searched “shelving” and got a ton. You can see most stuff without signing up, I think, but it’s also free to sign up.

      1. Mad Lola*

        + 1 for Houzz. It is an amazing site for ideas. Many design and construction professionals use it as a “brag board”. When I remodeled my kitchen, I created a free account, put photos in my idea file, and commented on what I liked in the photo so my designer could get an idea of what I thinking of. I also used it when we wanted to change our house color to blue to see what other houses looked like in that shade.

        1. fposte*

          Houzz is so much fun if you like house stuff. You can swing from hate-viewing to love-viewing in the blink of an eye (“Did this people not have anything better to do with their money? OMG I *want* that!”). I wish it had a better search algorithm, though; I keep meaning to try some searches via Google and see if I do better, because it’s just got too much stuff to find effectively sometimes with the crude interface.

    2. soitgoes*

      Try an ottoman and/or a coffee table with hinged tops for storage – they’re like treasure chests that also have legit functions as furniture. Also, get creative with small clothing chests. Lingerie chests and other types of tall-ish, narrow dressers don’t take up a lot of floor space. I mention this because “lingerie chest” is one of those magical google terms that turns up a million awesome pictures of furniture I LOVE but can’t afford.

        1. soitgoes*

          You would think so, but nope. “Lingerie chest” is a somewhat specific phrase in terms of furniture. Plus, the people who want to see….other things…don’t usually know how to spell “lingerie.”

          In all seriousness, the paid links and ads from furniture retailers have the secondary effect of keeping risque pictures out of the first few pages of search results.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I have a really cute lingerie chest from Ikea. It’s got four drawers and an open space in the top, and I like it so much more than a big dresser, and my stuff stays more organized in it because it isn’t a big drawer for stuff to get mussed around in. But my husband built it and apparently it was quite tricky, so I wouldn’t recommend it for the non-handy–if it had been up to me I would be gotten one already built.

        1. soitgoes*

          I think petite furniture is just so cute, especially if you’re the sort of artsy person who’s able to pick out two or three totally different pieces that still somehow look cool next to each other.

          I have a narrow, five-drawer (so somewhat tall) dresser from Bed Bath & Beyond. It’s very minimalist, just a black metal frame with wicker drawers. In fact, a google image search of “bed bath and beyond wicker drawers” brings up the exact one I have.

          (sorry for all of the directives to search for stuff on google, but putting in a link to a retail site would throw my comment into moderation)

        2. Editor*

          I use an old, very plain lingerie chest that was an unfinished piece we bought and stained for our first apartment. I don’t use it for lingerie, though.

          It is about a foot wide and has one four-inch-deep drawer and four six-inch-deep drawers, and I put it next to the desk for stationery. It is about the same height as the desk, a century-old drop-front desk from my great-aunt. One drawer holds miscellaneous office supplies, another holds envelopes and greeting cards, another holds computer stuff, one drawer holds paper and pads, plus there’s a junk drawer (Mrs. Flinger’s mini-storage, I guess…).

    3. Christy*

      You could do a Kallax system, which is the IKEA replacement for the Expedit. We just got a 4×2 bookshelf and installed two doors on it, and it’s working well for us. It ends up giving you a fair bit of unused vertical space, and you can customize it with drawers or baskets, and it’s overall a really useful piece of furniture.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I was looking at the Kallax system and the only problem is it would hit my hutch where I have it now (and in this small space, there isn’t anywhere else to put it). It’s just a bit too deep. But maybe if I got one of the Kallax workstations and got rid of my hutch it would solve the problem…. See, decisions, decisions. One thought leads to changing something else then something else and then I’m overwhelmed again!

    4. Treena Kravm*

      This may be of little use, since I love being overwhelmed with bookcases. But I’m partial to the tall bookshelves with doors on the bottom half. It gives you a place to put the clutter like papers and random things and keeping everything neat. I think bookshelves get overwhelming when they’re a catch-all for anything random that might land there. But a tidy shelf with clutter hidden I think would look nice. And if you have a bit of cash, I highly recommend getting unfinished wood and then staining yourself. Where I live, a 7′ bookshelf is about $100 + the cost of stain.

  16. Rebecca*

    I’m on day 7 of the 21 Day Primal Challenge. My daughter prodded me into this. It’s not as awful as I thought it would be, but I know now I could not do this every day for the rest of my life, just due to the sheer amount of food prep and policing for sugar, etc. It’s harder than I thought. There were evenings last week that I was still in the kitchen fiddling with things at 8:30 PM.

    But – there are definitely many things I will carry forward with after the 21 day challenge is done.

    1. Making my own mayo
    2. Making my own salad dressings and marinades
    3. Cutting back even more on grains, legumes, etc., eating them less frequently (including my beloved peanut butter)
    4. Eating more veggies, even at breakfast with eggs
    5. Cutting WAY back on diet soda, for a treat on the weekends and not a ton every day
    6. Eating plain yogurt with frozen berries instead of individual flavored yogurt cups
    7. Making sure prepared items I do buy are made from as many real ingredients as possible, without HFCS

    I keep telling myself – you can make it 14 more days without croutons! I love my croutons!! That and diet soda are proving to be very hard to let go of!

    1. GOG11*

      You can do it! I remember your post last week. Being stuck in the kitchen til 8:30? That’s bananas. Kudos to you for having the willpower to stick with it and see the process through so far!

      1. Rebecca*

        LOL I’m just not fast at food prep! I am getting better, like getting a bunch of greens out and salad spinning 3 salads at once. I also made a frittata, so I had breakfast done for 4 days in one swoop. But the first few days were exhausting!

        1. GOG11*

          Food prep is definitely the sort of thing that’s super front loaded. And when you started getting hungry an hour ago and you’ve still got an hour of washing/chopping/baking/other kitchening things, not inhaling a package of whatever is available is a commendable thing in my opinion.

          1. Rebecca*

            Exactly. Left to my own devices, I’d just sit down and shove dry Lucky Charms into my pie hole.

            1. GOG11*

              I may or may not do this more than I care to admit. Though when I eat Lucky Charms, it’s with milk and I eat all the non-marshmallows first so I can devour all the marshmallows at once at the end.

            2. The Cosmic Avenger*

              This is exactly why I keep big bags of baby carrots in the house, and no Lucky Charms. (Because if I did, I would very soon have no more Lucky Charms.)

    2. Sunflower*

      Have you tried replacing diet soda with tea? I used to drink soda 24/7 because I needed the caffeine but I switched to brewed iced tea with lemon. I only drink 1 diet soda a day now and I feel like I have more energy and sleep better. The biggest perk is I used to get cavities and have dental issues out the wazoo(the acid kills your teeth more than the sugar in reg. soda) . This year was the first time I didn’t use all my dental insurance money and it was amazing!

      1. Rebecca*

        For the 21 day challenge, I’m not drinking any diet soda, so I replaced it with water with lemon and lime slices, but found that lacking. I found seltzer water with just seltzer water and natural flavorings, so I tried that. I really missed the fizz!! I do like tea, and have several flavors of Stash and other brands on hand, so I do drink iced tea too. Fortunately I didn’t have dental issues, though, but I still shouldn’t drink 2 cans a day.

    3. Sunflower*

      Eggs+ veggies = ‘egg white bites’ on pintrest. Take a muffin/cupcake pan and cake it with cooking spray. Put any veggies you want in the cups and then fill with egg whites(you can probably use yolk also). Bake for 10-20 mins on 375 depending on size. So good and filling!

      1. GOG11*

        I’ve made these before (mini crustless quiche recipe, I think) and they were amazing and super easy.

        1. AdAgencyChick*

          I’m a big fan of the mini crust less quiche. Line the bottom of the muffin tin with prosciutto for extra noms.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      I’ve been on a mission to get rid of canned stuff from my pantry. I’ve found great recipes on Pinterest for cream of chicken soup, and cream of mushroom soup. It’s so easy — just flour, spices, a little milk, and chicken broth. I put them in mason jars and freeze them. I’ve been able to replace black beans, which we eat a ton of. I’ve skipped the kidney beans, because there’s some weird toxin in them that you have to get rid of by boiling the beans first or something weird.

      The biggest thing I do is buy stuff with as little salt as possible — either low sodium or no salt added. It really is the stealth ingredient. If you cook with low-salt stuff, and then season to your taste, you still don’t use near as much salt as some canned stuff has.

    5. TheOtherJennifer*

      I do a ton of cooking on Sundays, utilizing the crockpot and whatever else I can make ahead so it’s all ready and prepared for breakfasts and dinners. I brown bag it every day also.

      today I am making:
      oatmeal in the crockpot
      sweet potato hummus
      pup-cakes (for the dog)
      banana muffins (for my husband’s snack)
      pot roast – pressure cooker
      turkey meatballs – other crockpot
      frittatta
      black bean and spinach stuffed sweet potatoes (lunch for me)

      it’s a lot easier in this cold weather to just do this in the kitchen in the morning then hang out the rest of the day with the family. I have to be organized or it all goes to hell.

      if you can kick diet soda permanently, you will be doing yourself a huge favor ! Good luck

  17. Gene*

    Why do many, if not most, women seem to dislike Padma Lakshmi? I remember a couple of Top Chef comment strings here where the Padma bashing happened. Top Chef came up at work the other day and the distaff commentary on her was vicous.

    1. fposte*

      Do they/we? I only watched the first few seasons of Top Chef and it fell off my radar. I thought Padma was coasting somewhat on non-expert factors (as opposed to Project Runway, where Heidi knows her ish), but she was such a step up from Katie Joel that I was overall pretty pleased. (Katie Joel is to Top Chef what Craig Kilborn is to The Daily Show–retroactively erased from memory.)

    2. Sunflower*

      I think it has to do with her being a model/actress and not a chef. She has 2 cookbooks and no formal training- not that you need it to be a chef. She’s never cooked in a restaurant or owned one. IMO, cooking for yourself/friends is incredibly different than in a restaurant atmosphere. The equipment and capabilities are totally different.

      I don’t think she’s an idiot or anything but she never seems to really stand behind her statements which make me think she’s kind of winging it and hoping the other judges agree

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I can’t stand her! I think she’s cold and kind of standoff-ish– she’s no Eric Ripert, nor is she Gail Simmons. I think it’s more that I could totally see myself getting a cocktail with Gail but Padma would look down her nose at my less-than-perfect body. And I don’t think it’s because she’s so gorgeous– I think it’s because she’s gorgeous and she thinks she is THE MOST GORGEOUS. I’m not a huge Salman Rushdie fan either, but his memoir was not too favorable toward her, and everything he said about her made sense to me.

      I have also heard stories about personal encounters with her that were not too warm. I know that if I were to ever run into her in person (not as remote a possibility as it may sound), I will treat her the way I treat everyone else, but damn, I am not a fan.

      I totally think she is one of those women who only has time for men and no time at all for other women, and whether I’m right or not, that perception makes me dislike her.

    4. Another English Major*

      Haven’t watched Top Chef in a while, stopped at season 11 I think. I don’t mind her. I think she’s a good host and an ok judge. I don’t always agree with her, but I can’t really say that about the judges I like better either.

    5. HR Manager*

      I agree that she’s a little stiff as host (she’s gotten better in the years), but I don’t hate her. I’m rather neutral towards her. So she’s not a chef – neither is Rachel Ray and others who are actually doing cooking demos on their own shows. Padma has never presented herself as chef, and those who know her claim she knows food.

  18. joey_aam*

    2-parter since I’m not American:
    1. Is it ever okay to not tip in a restaurant? I have under-tipped once for bad service (delay in taking my order, bringing out food, then after finishing my meal waitress spent 10 more minutes chatting to the lady at the next table before getting my plate and bringing the bill). I tipped ~12% and the waitress came back and called me out on it! >.<
    I know waitstaff make basically nothing and have read that even if they were the worst ever, you tip them the minimum, talk to their manager, and just never go back. Is that the right (non-jerk) thing to do?

    2. When I first went (5 years ago now), the minimum tip was 15%. Last time I went I was told 15% is low and it's now 20-25%. Inflation? How much should I be tipping?

    Thank you in advance for helping the foreigner not stand out!

    1. Elkay*

      Also non-American but I’ve frequently tipped less than 15% but I’ve never been called out on it. I expect good service when I’m in the US so when I get crappier service than I get at home where tipping isn’t a requirement I’ll reduce the tip. I’ve had stunning service too and adjusted the tip upwards.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      In the U.S., 15% is really the minimum you can go without being seen as rude. Many people tip 20% by default now, but 15% is totally fine. I would not tip less than that, even on bad service, unless it was really bad and I had spoken up and given them a chance to make it right and they still hadn’t.

      And remember to calculate tip on the pre-tax amount!

      1. joey_aam*

        Really? I always tipped on the subtotal (which i think included tax already). Maybe I’ve been consistently tipping a bit higher than i thought.

        1. fposte*

          Usually subtotal wouldn’t include tax in the US–that would just be adding all the ordered items together, and then they’d calculate tax on that.

          1. joey_aam*

            I’ll definitely keep that in mind next time I go over; I haven’t been for a while and I don’t have any receipts to double check. Thanks for the heads up!

        2. Natalie*

          Eh, it’s a old etiquette rule but I never thought it mattered either way that much. 15-20% of the tax generally isn’t that much.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I know someone who believes that one only needs to tip 10% on alcohol. I don’t know where she got this idea, but it’s really, really embarrassing. Do not do this.

        1. Dan*

          Um… alcohol is a bit different. I’m not tipping 20% on beer or wine where all they have to do is pour the stuff. Craft cocktails are a bit different. If I’m at the bar, and you pulled a level or popped the cap off of an $8 beer, you’re getting a $1. That’s more than 10%, so I’m not sure if that supports or argues against your position. Drinks are so damned expensive out here, that there’s rarely such thing as a $3 happy hour where, $0.30 is truly crappy.

          Are you getting $6 for uncorking a $30 bottle of wine? Oh hell no.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I’m actually talking about when wine is part of the meal. To separate the drinks from the food is incorrect. Corkage is a different animal altogether.

            For what it’s worth, while perhaps I should have been more clear, please don’t start with “Um…” This is the Internet, and starting that way makes it seem like you think I’m an idiot. Which you may do, and that’s a whole other issue.

            1. AdAgencyChick*

              I remember WaiterRant saying you didn’t need to tip 20% on the alcohol if, say, you were ordering a $200 bottle — but of course the waiter will like you better if you do.

              1. fposte*

                Oh. I use “Eh” as a thinking noise. Does it read like “Umm” to other people too? Because I’m not a fan of “Umm” myself.

                1. Liz in a Library*

                  I tend to find them both a little dismissive. Probably “Um” slightly more than “Eh,” but it also depends on the context of the rest of the sentence.

                2. AvonLady Barksdale*

                  To me, it depends. “Eh, I tend to disagree,” doesn’t bother me that much. Can I explain why? Not really. :)

            1. CA Admin*

              I tip $1/drink if I’m sitting at the bar and ordering from the bartender. If I’m sitting somewhere with table service and a waiter, then I tip 15-20%, depending on quality of service.

      3. BRR*

        I tip on the total amount. At the end of the day I usually eat at cheaper places so the difference might end up being a dollar or two which will help my servers day and isn’t the make or break when I go out to eat.

      4. Computer Guy Eli*

        I… Uh… Really?

        Keep in mind, I’m from a town so small I play cards with most of the business owners on fridays. I don’t really tip… At all. DEFINITELY not 15 percent! Christ that’s alot! I’ll smack a fiver down on the table if I want to compliment the meal specifically, but no way will I do it consistently!

        1. Student*

          Here’s the deal.

          You know minimum wage laws? There is a special exception to minimum wage laws for restaurant wait-staff. In most states, they have a much lower minimum wage than everyone else, and are regularly paid below minimum wage.

          You tip them to get them back up to minimum wage.

          There are additional rules, so that if a waitress gets less than minimum wage over her shift, the restaurant is supposed to ensure she gets paid at least minimum wage. In practice, this is not well-enforced, though. Additionally, restaurants frequently engage in compensation practices that are either borderline or downright illegal (like charging employees for broken dishes or for dine-and-dash customers) that brings down their real wages.

        2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          If you do move to a larger city, you must tip–at least 15%–and consistently. Every time. It is nonnegotiable.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Not tipping at all should be reserved for the most egregious cases–like the waiter brings the food in his pants, or sneezes on it right before serving it at the table or something. And not tipping at all is frequently taken as “forgot” more than anything. A minimal tip of 5-10% says “horrible service,” but speaking with the manager and tipping 10% is probably the most acceptable thing to do for truly horrible service. I have never, ever seen a waiter call anyone on leaving a bad tip–ever. It’s very rare.

      I think the 20% thing is more in cities. I think bigger cities have been trending more to 20% lately, from what I’ve read, but 15% is probably still standard in smaller places. I tip 20% as a standard because it’s easy for me to take 10% and double it, but that is just the laziness talking. Tipping anywhere between 15-20% will probably still be OK (although I do not live in New York or LA and for all I know, people there may be tipping with Monopoly money by this point).

      1. fposte*

        I think if it’s too bad to tip it’s something that needs to be mentioned to the manager.

        joey_aam, it’s probably worth explaining that not only do waitstaff not earn much; they actually get paid *below* minimum wage (except in a couple of states) because tips are considered to be part of their wage. It’s a crappy system, but it’s not changing any time soon.

        But they also shouldn’t call you out over the amount you tip.

    4. Christy*

      I’m in the DC area, and I won’t tip below 20%. Like, honestly it doesn’t matter if it’s horrible service. Waiting tables can be a really sucky job, and generally you’re not serving well when you’re having a sucky day, and I’m not going to make your day even worse by leaving a crappy tip. And usually the difference between 15 and 20% is only like a few dollars, and it means very little to me and a whole lot more to the server.

    5. Sunflower*

      As a former waitress, if you aren’t leaving 15%, it should be for a reason worth talking to the manager over. And you should talk to the manager. Please talk to the manager BEFORE you leave. The manager wants you to be happy and there’s a good chance if your service was bad, you’ll be comped some stuff.

      I mostly say this because you never really know what’s going on in back of house and most of the time it’s not the waitresses fault. In pretty much every restaurant I’ve worked at, if you don’t tip, the manager will want to talk to you honestly.

      18% is kind of the new norm- I usually leave 20-22%. If my service wasn’t that good, I’ll leave 18%,

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        A friend and I were once out for dinner, split the bill, and completely miscalculated the tip. The manager sent the poor waiter over to ask us about it, and we were so embarrassed, as was he. I’m glad he came over– we were having a bad math moment and we adjusted the tip accordingly– but I wish the manager had come instead! This is only to illustrate that yes, most of the time if you under-tip, someone will want to know why.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I can’t get over this thing of asking why or asking for more. Is this a thing to do now?

          I very seldom eat in restaurants. I guess that shows.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            He was very sheepish about it. It was more like, “Uh… was the service ok? Was something wrong?” Believe me, I appreciated it. After all, if we had intended to stiff him, we would have done it. I was grateful he asked, in the way he asked. He wasn’t at all hostile. I think a lot of times (and not as often as I wish, of course) when someone under-tips by a significant amount it’s because they had a brain fart, and I appreciate being given the benefit of the doubt,

    6. Tris Prior*

      I always tip even if the service isn’t that good. Usually 20% – mostly out of laziness because it’s super easy to calculate that in my head.

      I live in a major expensive city and I have no idea how servers manage to live here. My feeling is, a server would have to do something really egregious for me to feel it’s OK to personally screw with their ability to pay their rent. Like, put bodily fluids in my food, or lie on purpose about whether a food contains an allergen.

      (that last example happened to a friend of mine who has celiac; the server assumed she was just avoiding gluten to be trendy. Nope; she got horribly ill, and he actually thought it was funny.)

      1. TL -*

        I had a restaurant give me regular instead of gluten free bread the one time, after I’d checked three times with the server. It was the worst.

      2. littlemoose*

        As someone with celiac disease that would infuriate me. I’m not on a fad diet, I actually need truly gluten-free food. I tend to say “allergy” in restaurants because servers are trained to take that seriously.

        1. littlemoose*

          Also I tip more when I do eat out because I have to ask questions about ingredients, etc. I am polite but it still makes me feel high-maintenance, so I tip more out of appreciation (and guilt).

    7. AvonLady Barksdale*

      In the States, it is never ok not to tip for table service– at least not without letting them know first. If the service is terrible, the thing to do is to speak to the manager and complain about the service before you leave a bad tip. Honestly, what you describe sounds annoying to me but not so egregious that I would tip less than 15%. I usually tip 20%.

      1. joey_aam*

        Okay, thanks for the data point (that you don’t thing it’s egregious). It’s the only bad service I can remember in 6-ish months in the US (spread over multiple trips and multiple years), on the whole US service in restaurants is AMAZING.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          A lot of times, people just need to speak up. It’s never rude to flag down your waiter or ask someone else to help you. Waitstaff have to do a lot of reading the table, and sometimes they will stay away to avoid interrupting a conversation, or they will get sidetracked by something else, and they might not even notice the passage of time. If I, as a diner, need something done quickly, it’s on me to ask about it. Not that this excuses lazy service, it’s just something I always keep in mind when things are slow. I had to grab a busboy the other night to get my check, and I was exhausted and seriously wanted to leave the restaurant, but the waiter still got a good tip, mostly because he was the only waiter for a section that kept getting seated over and over again. I felt for the guy.

    8. JMW*

      They really shouldn’t be “calling you out” for a low tip; they should be asking if you were dissatisfied with your service. Maybe 12% is all you can afford that day! They should never make you feel uncomfortable. I have to say that I don’t mind tipping in the restaurants we normally go to, but when we go out to a fancy place and the tip hits much above the $30 mark for two people, it is hard to be as generous percentage-wise. Do the waitstaff in a fancy restaurant work that much harder than the staff hustling tables at the local Tex-Mex who get about $10?

      I used to get my hair cut in a fancy (for me) place at about $60, so the tip was $10-$15 (and the haircuts not that consistent). Now I go to a cheap place, and I give them the same tip and still come out way ahead!

      1. Mad Lola*

        Does anybody go over the 20% rule if 20% is a ridiculously small amount? Like if you go to a small diner for the $5 breakfast special? I usually go way over in those situations because if everybody stuck to the minimum amount on small tabs that would stink (plus I was a waitress in my younger days).

        1. danr*

          Sure. The two of us go out for breakfast about twice a month. Our bill is generally around 13 dollars and we leave a 5 dollar tip.

        2. LAMM*

          I do. My minimum tends to be $5 (as I always seem to have a $5 on me). I just got breakfast the other day and left a 50% tip because I felt lame leaving a dollar or two.

          1. The IT Manager*

            Me too. I often eat alone or split the check and it comes out to less than $15. I usually tip at least five just because I know its tough job.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Always– if my breakfast is $7, I’ll leave a $10 bill. Stuff like that. I recently got my tires filled by a guy at the gas station, and he charged me $1, so I gave him $5. We got drinks on Christmas at our hotel, total bill was $10, I left $5 because a) the drinks were cheap, and b) it was Christmas. Thank goodness we did, because we ran into our bartender randomly the next day, and she was very happy to see us. :)

          Which reminds me… if you’re a regular somewhere, it helps to tip nicely. We often get a free cocktail at our favorite bar because they like us. I know they like us because we respect them and we’re good to have around, but because they take care of us, we do our best to take care of them.

          1. the gold digger*

            And don’t forget your postman, the garbage collector, and the paperboy at Christmas. Postal service says mail carriers can take up to $20. Our postman rocks. He gets a tip every year.)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              My postman gets chocolate truffles. He liked them and left me a thank-you note, which I didn’t expect but that was nice.
              I also bought some for myself, haha.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        If 12% is all you can afford that day, don’t go to a sit-down restaurant, or find a much cheaper one. I firmly believe this. In the US, tipping at a restaurant is expected and part of the way it goes. No waiter should be stiffed because the customer can’t swing it. The customer has a choice to go somewhere else. I have had days where I was traveling and broke and I went to McD’s because I knew I couldn’t afford a tip.

        1. BRR*

          YES! I’m glad you said it (I was on my way to). During the height of the recession one piece of moderately circulated advice was tip less. NO. Go someplace else where you don’t tip. There are enough good fast-casual restaurants now.

          You can’t undertip because it feels expensive. Not only is the service supposed to be better at fancy restaurants but you tend to sit at a table longer. My friend was a hostess at a high end restaurant and previously worked at a casual wings joint. Because of less volume they actually make around the same as lower end restaurant servers.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I’d say “tip less” if you typically tip 20% and tipping less means going down to 15%, but if “tipping less” means going below 15%, you need to go to a cheaper restaurant or one where tips aren’t required.

          2. Julia*

            But you should still tip at a fast casual restaurant! If you are seated and a waiter takes care of you, you tip.

        2. matcha123*

          I never ate out much when I was back home. Before my sister was born, I ate out maybe once a week with my mom and after she was born maybe a handful of times a year.
          There were times when she just couldn’t afford a full tip. We went in for the cheapest meal and split it. For those times, she’d explain that she couldn’t afford to tip much and asked for the waitstaff’s name so she could send a letter or call the head office to praise them personally (which she did!).

          Would that be acceptable if the table was generally nice, didn’t leave a huge mess for people, etc.?

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            While I sympathize with your mom, I don’t think that’s acceptable. Praise is a wonderful thing, but when your wages are based on tips, praise doesn’t pay the rent. Had I been your family’s server, I would have smiled through clenched teeth and, probably, had a pretty rough private moment. I would have felt bad for your mom, but I would have wondered why she decided to go out at all. Her situation doesn’t negate the work the waitstaff does.

            Dining out is a luxury. At a sit-down restaurant, it is particularly a luxury– you don’t have to tip at McDonald’s or Wendy’s or Panera or Chipotle. Part of the transaction is leaving a tip.

            1. quick reply*

              Er, it’s not that she didn’t tip, it’s that at times it was say, 10% rather than 15% or she wanted to tip more than 15% but couldn’t. Calling the head office was a suggestion given to her by one of the servers she was friendly with. This person said that the only way for them to get a raise would be if people like my mom called in and praised the server by name.

              This took place in the mid-80s and early-90s in the midwest. The “restaurants” were Denny’s or Red Lobster. Like I said, we didn’t eat out much and so I really don’t know what’s the best thing to do for tipping. I also don’t really know how times have changed or whether or not the people we went out to eat with were stiffing the staff. ‘Cause I was like 4 at the time.

              The waitresses often told my mom that people steal tips off the table, so, she should hand the tip directly to the staff. Again, I don’t know if this is true today or not. But when I went to eat out a few years ago, I paid the check and waited for my change so I could tip the staff directly. When they never came back I was horrified that they assumed the 75c was their tip and left the tip on the table and left.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                I stand by my answer. A “full tip” is necessary. Red Lobster or Denny’s notwithstanding. Those servers were very nice to your mom, but I still don’t find it acceptable.

          2. BRR*

            While it’s very nice to give praise servers wages are primarily tips. In most place they make only a couple of bucks an hour and then it’s taxed. Most servers I know will have several paychecks at home because they’re such a small portion of their salary and not for very much money. Not tipping (when service is satisfactory or good) isn’t paying less for a product, it’s literally paying the server less money for the work they’re doing and taking the table away from customers who could pay the appropriate amount.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              While the employers are supposed to make up the difference up to minimum wage, they often don’t, and this is why I dislike tipping. And yes, I’ve done the job, though it’s been a long time.

          3. fposte*

            Yeah, the problem is that the way most of the states set it up, it’s kind of like if your job cut your pay and wrote you a nice note about how much it valued you instead.

            1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

              +1 Exactly.

              As much as we’d all like to be praised at work, we wouldn’t like it if we got cut a chunk of the day’s wage and instead got a nice letter about how awesome we are. And it’s exponentially more important for servers, who typically are on the lower end of the wagescale to begin with, because $15 to someone who’s only making $100 a day is way more important than $15 to someone who brings in $1500 daily.

          4. INTP*

            I think that a 15% tip should be considered part of the cost of the meal. If you can’t afford it, just don’t go to the restaurant. I sympathize with people who can’t afford to take their kids to a sit-down restaurant, but almost all of us have restaurants out of our price-range and it just isn’t acceptable to go and not pay your full bill (which is what I consider it, even if you’re legally allowed to skip out on the tip component). You are basically forcing the server to do you a personal favor and work for free or inadequate pay, because they can’t say “no” even if you phrase it as a question. Praising their work is a nice thing to do but it doesn’t help them financially unless their restaurant is doing layoffs or reducing hours or something.

      3. louise*

        Hairstylist–I’ve followed my stylist from place to place over the last right years. She now owns her own salon and has a big staff, but continues to keep a full roster of clients because she loves what she does…the standard rule is you don’t tip the owner, but I still do. It felt too weird to just suddenly stop obxe she had her own business!

    9. TipsAnon*

      15-20% is the accepted norm. If you are in a large group (8+ people), sometimes an 18% gratuity (aka tip) is automatically added on. In some restaurants, the bills will have suggested tip amounts on them along with descriptions so you can determine how you felt the service was.

      I have seen one time when a server receive no tip. Long story short, she forgot my mother’s meal (a big salad) and blamed it on another server taking it to another table. She was unapologetic and argumentative. She was like, “Well, I can get you a new one.” My mother told her to never mind. Two complaints were made to the manager – first that she forgot the meal and second her attitude. I know being a food server is tough with crappy pay, but we felt it was egregious behavior. She didn’t apologize; she became defensive.

      Normally, my parents and I tip 20%.

      On the flipside, talk to the manager if you have really good service! In some restaurants, such as Outback Steakhouse, if you talk to the manager about your server’s excellent service, he or she will get an “Attaboy” pin to wear on their uniform. My dad, not knowing this, one time wanted to give compliments to the manager about this person. The manager brought the server back to the table and presented the pin. It was the server’s first pin and she couldn’t be happier. If you forget to do it at the moment, you can sometimes find the specific restaurant’s facebook page and post a compliment there too.

      1. Dan*

        “On the flipside, talk to the manager if you have really good service!”

        I do that, although it’s more about the experience as a whole as opposed to the service itself. Last time I was passing through Chicago on my way to catch an international flight, my parents came down and we had dinner at a local steak house. The experience was all round great — good food, good service, and priced right. I asked for a manager on the way out the door, and she’s like “uh, oh crap, please not a complaint.” Granted, she didn’t say that with words, but her facial expression did. I told her no, it was a wonderful experience. She gave me her card and said the next time we can’t get a table on Saturday night, call and she’ll seat us.

        Too bad I live nowhere near Chicago, and don’t pass through much.

    10. soitgoes*

      If you’re in a bar and are just ordering beers (or are in a bar and ordering mostly drinks but also some food), make sure you tip at least a dollar per drink. Yes, even on that $2 Miller Lite draft. You don’t need to itemize the drinks that way if you’re ordering dinner in a restaurant and are just having a glass or two of wine, but you don’t want to be in a proper bar and ordering $30 worth of tap beers and only paying $6 when the bartender is expecting between $10 and $15, depending on the kind of beer and the city you’re in.

      1. Beezus*

        No, the service would have to be really really spectacular, probably on a special occasion, for me to tip that high. If I’m buying $2 beers, I’m either tipping $1 every other trip, or grabbing a round at a time and tipping 20%ish, or giving the bartender a decent tip upfront to cover my night. A 33-50% tip isn’t happening unless I’m buying one $2-3 drink.

    11. Noah*

      1) The general etiquette rule is you should always tip, but tip less for poor service and more for great service. However, this is something in principle I strongly disagree with. If you suck I shouldn’t have to leave a tip and I don’t feel like I should have to explain that to a manager either. In practice, I always leave a tip of at least 10% for poor service, never talk to a manager, and just don’t go back to that restaurant again.

      2) 20% is the standard tip now for reasonably good service. 25% for great, 15-18% for ok. Like others, I almost always leave 20% because it is easy to calculate.

      Not that you asked, but I dislike the concept of tipping in general. Pay your staff reasonable wages, treat them decently, and they should provide good service to your customers. I don’t feel like I should have to both directly decide on their wages through a tip, and provide a performance review to their manager if they do badly. I was a waiter and bartender in college, did a good job, and generally had good tips as a result. Some people either don’t care or are not right for the service industry and should find other lines of work.

      1. Dan*

        It’s really funny when I travel overseas where taxes and service charges are baked into the price. I was traveling through an expat area in Tokyo, and was paying about $9 for an average beer. I’m like, “crap this is expensive.” But when you back out the 10% tax (yes, the meal and booze tax in DC is that high) plus a 20% gratuity, that’s more like the $7 you’d see listed on a menu in the US. Which for a big city isn’t out of line.

      2. Dan*

        I’m with you on the 1) Former waiter and 2) Don’t feel like explaining stuff. I’ll explain it if something’s wrong with the food itself and I feel I should be comped, but lousy service = lousy tip. As a former waiter, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why someone undertipped you. If you’re constantly undertipped, that’s a message. Just one person? They might be cheap, but if called out, they’ll make up some BS.

      3. Artemesia*

        In many parts of the US servers make a fraction of minimum wage — to not tip is dimply theft of services. You may not like the way we pay workers in the US, but this is the way it is done and someone who is served but then doesn’t pay the costs is reprehensible. It isn’t ‘something extra for good service’, it is their basic wage.

        I much prefer the European system of paying servers but since that is not our system I tip roughly 20% unless service is really terrible and if it is I either tip lower or complain.

        1. Noah*

          This doesn’t make it much better, but the restaurant has to make up the difference between tips and minimum wage if the employee doesn’t make it with tips alone. They can average it out over the pay period though.

          I have never not tipped, despite my desire to, I always leave at least 10% and 20% for acceptable service.

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

            Out of my own experiences serving and my many, many friends who have also done it–we’ve never had a restaurant actually make up the difference. Not once. I know it’s the law, but servers who do usually mysteriously have their hours cut to almost nothing.

            1. Liz in a Library*

              Yep. I’ve never actually heard a story of a restaurant making up the difference among any of my service industry friends. It’s pretty rare, at least in my state.

    12. Anx*

      In most cases, if you are leaving a very low tip, the waiter is paying to serve you, since they have taxes and have to tip out to others. The minimum wage starts at $2.13 for servers. Tipping is not necessary in counter service establishments where the servers make the regular minimum wage.

      Personally as a server, if I am having a really off night, I’d rather you just stiff me than call me out to a manager or never come back again. Because nobody is really winning if the restaurant loses a customer. Or I lose my job. But many servers would rather get a higher tip. There’s a lot of turnover in restaurants and there’s little incentive to think long term in retaining customers. If you do have a complaint, it’s often best to do it as issues arrive and approach it from a position of ‘this isn’t right’ and ‘how can we fix this.’

      1. Dan*

        “Tipping is not necessary in counter service establishments where the servers make the regular minimum wage.”

        These “fast casual” places really blur the line. Take Vapianos for instance. I actually have no idea who makes a regular wage and who is paid the tipped wage — particularly the bartender, who is doing less work than the cooks.

        I can see how a tourist easily gets confused.

        1. Anx*

          As a customer I agree that it can be very confusing. I wish there was a way to know for sure, but there isn’t really a tactful way of informing customers.

      1. fposte*

        My call: optional but nice. I’m in a small town and I’m a frequent flier just about everywhere I do carryout; plus I’m at a point in life where I’m pretty sure I’m doing better than restaurant staff. I therefore tip 10-20%, depending on whim, math, and location. (One of my regular carryout spots, for instance, takes the bartenders away from the bar to handle carryout, and I figure they’re likely to be losing tips for doing that, so I tip higher there. And I always tip generously when I use the curbside service at the one restaurant that provides it–it’s a heck of a lot farther to walk than bringing it to a table.)

        1. CA Admin*

          Yeah, I’ll usually tip higher for take out somewhere where I’m a regular or it’s busy. Where I’m a regular is because I’m selfish and want them to continue doing a good job with my order. Where it’s busy is because it takes time out of a host or waiter’s shift that could otherwise be servicing sit-down guests that tip at a higher rate.

          Places that I tip lower for take out are usually the no-frills counter service kind of places, especially if they’re not busy.

      2. Artemesia*

        I didn’t used to tip for carry out until my daughter worked at a restaurant that did carry out. She would have to put together the carry out package, taking time from serving tables so she was losing tips while making a little over 2 bucks an hour before tips. After that I started tipping a couple of bucks on a carry out order.

    13. Girasol*

      I worked in a cheap coffee shop in college and learned that in our state a restaurant could pay half of minimum wage and claim that the wait staff made up the difference in tips. On a dull day sometimes we didn’t. On a really busy day we often didn’t because we were spread too thin to give good service, so we were stiffed on tips. Nowadays I tip 20-25% regardless of service. I suppose I might trim that if the wait staff was openly rude or difficult, but only then. If service is late or forgetful because they’re understaffed and run ragged, I don’t try to punish them for it.

    14. Treena Kravm*

      This brings up a question I’ve had for a while. I live in a college town and a lot of mid-range restaurants have you order your food at the counter, and then you get a number and put it on your table. They’ll bring you your food, but not check on you or any other service. Or they don’t even bring your food, but rather call out your number. What do you tip? They usually have an iPad with the auto-select options being 15, 20, or 25%, but am I crazy for thinking 15% is kind of high for me having to order and pay at a counter?

      1. acmx*

        In general: I don’t tip for calling out my number. If I have cash, I’ll tip a $1 if they check on me, take up the trash etc.
        But if say, I went back to my college town and ate a place like this, I’d leave the $1 because they’re probably students.

      2. CA Admin*

        For counter service, I usually tip 10% rather than the full 20%. Full tip is for full service restaurants.

    15. INTP*

      Tipping below 15% in an American restaurant is considered extremely stingy unless the server was extremely awful. Many problems, like your food being late or incorrect, are the kitchen’s fault and not the server. From servers I’ve talked to, it seems restaurant kitchen workers can be extremely difficult, especially when they’re asked to make special orders or food is sent back for valid reasons. Delay in taking your order can happen when the hostess seats someone and doesn’t tell the server about them ASAP or while the server is on a break. Chatting at the next table for 10 minutes can be annoying, but that might he a high-tipping regular – it’s something I might tip just 15% for but not something I’d dip below over. I’ve only tipped less if the server was overtly nasty to me, like once I had a server who looked visibly annoyed that I asked for a table for 1 and wouldn’t make eye contact with me (but was warm and friendly with other tables).

      15% is considered the bare minimum for adequate service – the server is not mean to you and brings you everything they’re supposed to bring. Going below 15% because the service was slow is not considered acceptable. 20% is considered typical for good service (the server is friendly, is around to ask for things, and keeps your beverage glasses full) and 25% is “good.” If you linger at your table for a long time after finishing or you have a lot of special orders or leave a large mess, you should tip extra. Sometimes I will tip more than 25% if I had a very cheap meal – it’s not the server’s fault if I eat a grilled cheese and water rather than a burger and beer. (However, if they become less attentive when I order cheap stuff to focus on their higher spending tables, I might still tip 15-20% even if that’s $1.)

      1. CA Admin*

        Things that will result in a “stingy” tip from me:

        1. Lying to me about separate or split checks before we start ordering, then refusing to do them when it’s time to pay. I once went out to dinner with a group of 20 people. We were all going to sit at separate tables of 4-5 each, but the waitress assured us that she could do separate checks & multiple credit cards, so we all sat at the same table. When the bill came, she refused to give us separate checks and wouldn’t run more than 3 credit cards for the whole group. Also the bill was wrong and had to be corrected twice. We were pissed and talked to the manager about doing less than the standard 18% tip for big groups that’s automatically added, but he started shouting at us. Never will go back there again and would’ve left 10% if I’d been able to.

        2. Not bringing water/drinks when they’ve been requested multiple times. I’ve waited 45 minutes for water to be brought, even after ordering appetizers. We asked about 4 times before water finally came, then it was never refilled, no matter how many times we asked.

        3. Being an asshole or deliberately rude.

        4. Lying about knowing what the ingredients are in the food. If my sister is a vegetarian and she’s asking about meat in the meal, don’t blow her off with guesses–please find out. If I’m allergic to mushrooms and I specifically ask about mushrooms and you assure me that there aren’t any in that dish, then I blow up with hives at the end of the meal? That’s poor service.

        1. INTP*

          All of those are fair, they’re things within the server’s control. #1 would especially piss me off. I would have contacted the manager about splitting the checks before even agreeing to pay.

          I just hate when someone rips off the server because of something that is not their fault, like the food took forever, or it was cooked wrong (the server might not even see the food before the runners bring it out, let alone have all the special requests memorized). I get that people just have no idea how a restaurant works and the server is the visible person so they get blamed for everything, but it sucks.

        2. Anx*

          4. I absolutely agree about this. However, I have had customers get angry when there service is delayed. It can take a long time to find a head chef or a manager who can answer these questions when you’re busy with other tables.

          1. Alma*

            Yes, I’ve also waited tables… and I am always mindful to compensate the wait staff if I sit and linger over dinner, or spend a long time in conversation. The number of times a table can be “turned” is figured into staffing. I am happy to pay “booth rent” – and a few places I frequent are familiar with my practice and keep the tea or coffee filled.

            I also know that a single person at a table might be liked upon as a cheap tip. I always tip well in this instance, too, so servers won’t automatically dread the next one-top that is seated in their section.

            As an aside, I used to frequent a coffee shop type place. I would go on a quiet night, take my book or crossword puzzle, and chat with the staff. After I saw a table of nine (including children) get up from a totally trashed table and leave about 85 cents in change for the waitress, I asked her how many tables she averaged per shift. Very few left even 10%, she told me. I asked what effect would it have on her finances if each table left just one dollar more in addition to their regular tip. She was so stunned, she sat down.

            “The first thing I would do would be to buy a gallon of milk, and fill my car with gas” she said. It also meant paying her utilities on time, and not incurring late fees. As we talked, I realized all those dollar bills would have a direct impact on the local community.

            In fancier restaurants and bars, wait staff usually must pay out a portion of their tips to the bus staff, the bartender, and other folks who have contributed to the dining experience.

      2. joey_aam*

        Thank you for your detailed response and thinking, I’ll definitely keep this in mind next time I’m in the US.

    16. HR Manager*

      I do trend 18-20% on most bills now, and when service is great I tip 20-25% depending on the total spend. I do think it’s ok to tip below the 15% in serious cases of egregious poor service or business practice and I’ve done that on rare occasions. I can’t think of doing zero, but I won’t say never because people always surprise me. In those cases, it’s usually the establishment that may be PO’ing me because of not only poor service but entitlement.

  19. Elkay*

    The mention of house hunting got me thinking, people frequently talk about weird things they’ve seen in houses when they were house hunting but what’s in your house that you hope people don’t notice when you try to sell it.

    Mine are:

    We’ve only got one kitchen drawer, it works fine for us but I fear it would put other people off.
    Our heating system is awful, we’re going to have to sell in the summer.

    1. fposte*

      The backdoor-to-kitchen entry maneuver–sharp turn, oversized step up to narrow doorway to tight slant to get past the lower cabinets. They’ll have to come in through the front door.

    2. Mad Lola*

      Bad grout in a shower we don’t use. It is part of our master bedroom ensuite, but the main bath is right across the hall from my master so it is no big deal. I have one less thing to keep clean, and it would be very expensive to gut and reline the space with any type of material.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      My bathroom is literally falling apart. I won’t be able to sell this house at all if I can’t get something done about it. And I don’t want to spend the money because I hate this place.

      1. KAZ2Y5*

        Let me be a cautionary tale for you! I also hate my house (for various reasons) and am having to sell it and move. I now wish I had done some of these improvements a little bit at a time instead of all at once. I am just grateful that I actually had enough savings to be able to do what has been needed. And sadly, there is more–I am just hoping that the house sells before people notice the other things (like the bad fence).

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Little by little is the ONLY way I will be able to do it. By rights, I shouldn’t be spending money on another trip to London and should be doing the bathroom instead, but hanging with mah peeps in my favorite humongous city on earth? Come on! :)

          1. KAZ2Y5*

            I can see why London would win! But find a contractor to give you a bid on the minimum amount of work needed to get your bathroom fixed to sell your house (seriously, tell them you want to sell your house and don’t want to put more money into it than necessary). Then start planning/saving for it!

    4. Sail On, Sailor*

      Our 1st house didn’t have a dining area. let alone a dining room. We ate in the family room. But there really isn’t any way to hide that.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      The last house we sold, what we really hoped people wouldn’t notice was how seedy the neighborhood was getting. But the worst was the house 2 doors down from us. For years, the front yard was completely neglected. The lawn was never mowed, and the weeds were knee-high. Then one day the guy who owned the place told my husband he was putting in fake grass. We thought he meant synthetic grass, like they use on golf courses. A lot of that stuff looks real and you can’t tell the difference.

      This guy put in astro-turf. Like Brady Bunch astro-turf. It was this very dark, unrealistic looking shade of green that didn’t really look like grass. We hoped that the sun beating on it for a few years would tone it down, but it didn’t. And it looked ridiculous in the winter when everyone else’s lawns were dead, but there was this one house with a bright green lawn.

      Then we list the house, get a call for a showing, pile into a car, and leave. And drive by the astro-turf house to see the owners out on the “lawn” with a Shop-Vac. They were VACUUMING the lawn!

      Wait…there was one thing about our house we hoped people wouldn’t notice. The color. We finally broke down and painted the house, and chose this green color that looked great in a small swatch, but when it was on the whole house it was GREEN. Really, really GREEN. When my husband showed the painter the color we chose, he said, “Really?? Are you sure?” He said yes, that’s what we wanted. So the lesson was — if the professional painter says, “Really??” when you show him/her the paint color you want, you should reconsider your choice.

        1. Alistair*

          I actually did vaccuum part of my lawn one spring. We had had a long winter and our township had put down a huge amount of anti-skid gravel. Of course,when the streets were plowed it was all pushed into my lawn. Cue me getting out the shop vac, and getting at least 3 gallons of stone out of the grass.

    6. Mallory Janis Ian*

      The same thing that we didn’t notice until we started living in it: that, although there is a back door into the carport and then through a breezeway into the back yard, there really isn’t any direct, convenient access onto the backyard for cookouts, gardening, or just enjoying the peace & quiet out there.

    7. Lizzie*

      My mom failed to notice that her new house had no linen closets until after they’d moved in. Whoops.

    8. Windchime*

      My current house has huge houses behind us overlooking my tiny back yard. Zero privacy back there. It was just a big, empty field when I moved in and I really had no idea that they would be building three-story monstrosities behind me. Live and learn.

      My previous house had lots of unique characteristics, but the best was the bathroom. The house was 80 years old and the downstairs bath was an obvious add-on, but the best part was the shower/tub. It was a normal fiberglass shower/tub thing, but it was sunken so that you had to step down into the tub to take a shower because of a sharply-sloping roof. If you were sitting in the tub, you would be basically eye-level to the floor. So weird. I was surprised that I managed to sell it.

    9. Girasol*

      Our friends owned Queenie Palmer’s mule barn for awhile. (General Palmer moving west after the Civil War founded Colorado Springs and his wife kept mules.) The house was a conglomeration of old outbuildings sitting in random positions that had been attached to one another. The master bedroom door was so short you had to duck to enter it. Their son’s room overlooked the livingroom through a window that had no glass, but instead had chicken wire. They had a clawfoot tub with a curtain that ran all the way around to serve for a shower, but it was in a tiny angular room so small that the door banged the tub and you had to sort of squeeze in. Outside it looked like a sort of fairytale cottage, being old and small and painted the most amazing shades of pink. It was sort of like a mystery vortex of quaintness.

      1. LoFlo*

        My new favorite phrase: “Mystery vortex of quaintness.” Sounds like the name of a really scary thrift shop. BTW since you used the past tense of own, who did they sell this magical place to?

        1. fposte*

          Though I’m also thinking that “Queenie Palmer’s Mule Barn” has strong possibilities for an album or pub name.

    10. Aardvark*

      Our bathroom door doesn’t close. This is something we will fix before we decide to sell, especially because, if we took down the curtain on the front door, you’re able to see directly into the bathroom from the main entry.

      Maybe this is a cautionary tale for all homebuyers–make sure all the doors close when buying a house!

    11. Cath in Canada*

      Our house is full of, um, “quirks”, but I’m not too worried because as of the last evaluation something like 92% of the value of the property is in the land. The way the neighbourhood has been going for crappy old houses like ours, the next owners will almost certainly tear it down and build something better (we might even do this ourselves).

      We have very little storage, a long and narrow main room that makes it difficult to fit furniture into without sitting too close to the TV, only one bathroom (there are no words for how much I hate this), and the bathroom we do have is so small that the toilet has to be at what my sister calls “a jaunty angle” (i.e. on a diagonal from the walls) in order to fit. The market here is so utterly crazy right now that it was all we could afford, unfortunately!

    12. Pennalynn Lott*

      The gap in the cabinets under the island where the previous homeowners had a trash compactor (which they took with them when the moved). I’ve got a craft cart filled with tea in there now.

      Oh, and the gaping hole in the sheet rock under the kitchen sink. No clue what the previous homeowners did or were attempting to do that made such a huge hole. I have a child safety lock on the cabinet doors there to keep the kitties from getting in under the sink and exploring the hole.

    13. pony tailed wonder*

      I have relatives who put their house on the market with pink shag carpeting. The outside was yellow and brown – toilet bowl colors in my mind. The pool house was orange and brown. The garage was partially finished with a drive through on one side so you could get from the driveway to get into the back yard – why you would need to do this was never explained. It took about a year to sell.

    14. asteramella*

      I live in a new construction house and layout-wise it’s great, but the materials are builder standard and they suuuuuck. If we sell, ALL the flooring will have to have been replaced. We’ve lived here 6 months and the carpet is already looking worse for wear and the “wood” laminate has been completely ruined just from tiny little accidental drops of water. :(

    15. HR Manager*

      My sad sad yard. Used to have an above ground pool that we never used. We took it down years ago, but never refilled the hole with soil. It’s a big divit with a weird clay, rock, overgrown weed/soil mixture. It doesn’t help that my mom uses the back as her garden so it’s pretty much impossible for me to really landscape it and make it a nice usable space. It’s a sad looking piece of work (plus my front lawn – watering? What do you mean by that?).

  20. Jessen*

    Anyone else have family that just cannot get over the idea that maybe acceptable women’s wardrobes have changed, and keep trying to get you into “proper” clothing (and that proper clothing also depends very much on where you’re going)? Not in terms of coverage or lack thereof, but just “You can’t wear that to work/church/a wedding!”

    I’ve got a bit of an offbeat style going, neither work nor church does anyone care, but I still seem to baffle some family members that I’m not wearing those awful jackets with the giant shoulder pads over appropriately floral tops.

    1. soitgoes*

      It’s not about being less conservative; it’s about being different at all. My mom works in the theatre, and she doesn’t understand my relatively subdued sense of style, even though I’m still way more “out there” with color than most of my friends.

    2. Kathryn*

      I work in high tech, very casual almost start up atmosphere.

      I think, in the 5 years I’ve been in this job, my mom has finally gotten the picture that I can wear jeans and snarky t shirts to work. She still doesn’t quite believe me that I’m matching the VPs though.

      1. Jessen*

        Our dress code lecture was basically “Guys could you at least not wear the shirt with the pot leaf on it? It looks bad.”

    3. INTP*

      She isn’t pushy about it, but when my grandmother visited, she couldn’t seem to get over the fact that I didn’t have to wear pantyhose to work (in Southern California, where the only people who have to wear pantyhose to work afaik are Hooter’s servers).

  21. Liane*

    Need help with an internet site issue.
    We have AT&T U-verse TV/internet/phone.
    As most everyone here knows by now, I am a big Star Wars fan. We have U-verse, so since September we have been watching Star Wars Rebels a week early on the Disney XD site. The last few days, however, on just my computer, I can’t get them. I click the sign-in, select U-verse if it doesn’t show automatically, & click on the episode. It starts to load & then tells me “Sign in error–user not authorized.” I would suspect my computer*, except that our son had a similar problem with the site on his laptop during visits home for a while. It’s also not uncommon for someone in the house to have trouble with slow speeds or even staying connected when no one else is having issues.
    I’ve rebooted several times & am going to try clearing my cache & some cookies.
    In case those don’t help, does anyone else have suggestions?

    *I call it HAL 9000 for many, many good reasons

    1. Mad Lola*

      Call ATT or do live chat. They have really good customer service. My phone died on Thanksgiving, and they were able to help me on live chat.

    2. Noah*

      I had similar issues with a work website once that I was trying to access at home using uVerse. AT&T fixed it somehow after I finally gave up troubleshooting it myself and called. It had something to do with IPv6 and DNS, but I don’t remember the exact details. It was just incredibly frustrating because it wasn’t consistent and would sometimes work on both my laptop and my iPad and other times parts of the page would load and then it would just stop.

    3. BRR*

      Call them. You can also try asking for a partial refund since you didn’t have access to your full services. I raised a big stink when it was installed because it didn’t work and got $250 total back.

    4. Liane*

      Thanks all! I will get with them later today. Maybe they can figure out why some of the other things are happening.

  22. Shell*

    Update on my car hunting:

    So apparently one of my aunts has a Subaru that’s in fantastic condition that she miiiiiiiiiiiiiight want to sell if she wants to upgrade her car. Given the market rate for a car that age (2007) she won’t get much for it, but whatever price she names me will be 1) higher than whatever she gets for it at a dealer and 2) lower than whatever used car I can buy at a dealer. There really isn’t a lot of mileage on that car.

    And it has basically all the features I want at a gas consumption rate I can live with. Frankly since she’s not in the country a lot, a good 1/4 to 1/3 of the mileage on that car was racked up by my family (my brother mainly, ha). No accidents, great condition, the whole nine yards.

    So I’m hoping she’d be interested in selling it to me and upgrading her own vehicle. She was thinking about it a couple of years ago but ultimately held off because of my uncle, but now that situation is probably changing there is a higher chance of revisiting the idea of selling that Subaru.

    Send good thoughts for me, everyone!

    1. Audiophile*

      Fingers crossed for you.

      Not to get too personal, but when I was in need of a car, I was surprised to find out that it was cheaper for me to buy new than used. Lower interest rate, nothing down. And when I totaled my new car 22 months later, it was still easier to buy new than used. The markup on used cars is always high because dealers make so little off them and they never have the decent finance rates for the exact same reason.

      I’ve done used cars, even ones from family members or friends and it’s never worked out for me, but I hope it works out for you.

      1. Shell*

        When I was at the car dealer’s today, I asked the sales woman to look up the market rate for that Subaru and my eyes nearly bugged out of my head…because the market rate is so low that I can literally pay for it myself outright, no problem. It’s a hefty chunk of money, but I wouldn’t even have to finance the car payment at all. And yeah, it has the mileage for a car maybe half its age.

        Of course I wouldn’t be able to buy it anywhere near its market rate price if I went through a dealer since there’s markups and all. But if she’s willing to sell it to me outright…I’ve got it pretty made, actually, since I know for sure there’s been no major accidents, only minor cosmetic damage that’s since been repaired, etc. And frankly, my folks have racked up a good percentage of what little mileage is on that car. :)

        So here’s to hoping! (And thanks very much for the good thoughts!)

      2. S*

        Yes! I was in the market for a used car just a few months ago and after doing all the math, it was cheaper to buy the newest model (2015 model purchased in late 2014) than to get a used one with over 30,000 miles on it already. I drive long distances regularly, and often by myself, so the mileage and wear/tear on the used cars made me so iffy.

        1. Artemesia*

          OUr car died on our way to elope decades ago — we were both in grad school and could not afford to have a car that would break down and need repair. We could afford the monthly cost of a new low price car, but not to fix a car — so we bought a new car. It was my husband’s last new car. I did buy a new Prius a few years ago.

          We have bought great used cars a couple of years old now for 40 years. My husband always drives a really nice BMW at about half the cost he would pay to buy new and it is still on warranty when he gets it. It is rare that one is ahead buying new although there are circumstances like ours where it makes sense.

          We never buy cars on payments and haven’t for 30 years — but 40 years ago we had to do that. Now we save up over the years and drive the used car a long time and so are saved up for a new nice car when it is time to get one.

      3. Dan*

        In general, I find brand new sub compacts to be extremely good value. And if they’re not, your talking about what’s pretty much a $15k car, so if your value proposition is off, it’s by no more than a few grand, which is quite tolerable for a car with a warranty and for which you know the maintenance history.

    2. nep*

      Good luck to you.
      What kind of Subaru? I gather from my research and from talking with car experts that those can be great, reliable vehicles. I recently tested out an ’02 Forester and loved it. Kind of the opposite of sleek.
      I wouldn’t buy a used car without having it inspected by my mechanic; that caused me to ‘lose out’ on a number of cars I was interested in (including the Forester) because the sellers found people who were fine with buying on the spot.
      Hope you’ll get that Subaru. Whatever you end up buying, may all work out well for you. Keep us posted.

      1. Shell*

        It’s an Impreza :) Not quite as gas-friendly as the Corollas I was looking at today, but for the price I’d likely get it at (assuming she’s willing to sell)…I can live with that. And yeah, it has the mileage of maybe a 3-4 year old car at most.

        Heh, I’m very confident in the condition of this Subaru because my aunt is out of the country somewhat frequently, so often my father (her brother) takes the car to its maintenance appointments for her (and she’s been fine with my father borrowing it here and there too because of it). So frankly my father has a better idea of its maintenance status than my aunt does, I think. This is one of those rare times where I’d be confident of buying it without taking it to the shop.

        (But the next maintenance window is coming up in about a thousand kilometres, so there’s that.)

        1. nep*

          Sure — if it’s in the family, and family members have got an idea about the maintenance record, that’s a different story. Good luck with everything.

    3. Mad Lola*

      Subaru’s are war horses, that car still has a lot life in it. I see many Subaru’s older than that driving around the upper Mid-west. Check out Edmunds.com and KBB.com for other reviews and pricing. Before the WWW Edmunds published a quarterly book that was the bible of new and used car pricing.

      1. nep*

        This is what I read about Subarus — more or less just can’t stop the things. My mechanic said while things might need fixed once in a while, and it might be a bit pricier than other cars to repair, once the repairs are done, you’re good to go for a lonnnnng time. (Not sure whether this applies — but great handling in snow, too, or on rough terrain; make sure you’ve got a nice set of tires with a lot of tread left.)

        1. Shell*

          Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand my father just informed me that my aunt says okay. :D :D :D

          We won’t transfer the title until she comes back into the country at the end of February, et cetera ad nauseum, and obviously we haven’t discussed prices yet. But I’m fairly confident that no matter what price she asks for, it’d be a win-win steal for both of us.

          Woohoo!

        2. periwinkle*

          My first Subaru was a 1980 GL; it was still running well when we sold it in 1993. My 1993 Subaru Loyale lasted until 2008, when I donated it to a fire station (they love using Subies for jaws-of-life practice because they’re so tough) and took over my husband’s 2003 Subaru WRX. We were going to sell the WRX this winter but, well, it’s still a good car. We’ll replace it next year with another WRX, though.

          Subarus are a regional thing. In some areas, they’re not that popular and don’t command that much in the used market. I’m now in Washington State, where the parking lots look like a Subaru dealership’s inventory and used ones go for about 150% over book value.

          1. Windchime*

            So funny; I am also in Washington and when the OP said she was buying a used Subaru, my thought was, “Still expensive!”. But it really must be a regional thing, because you’re right–they are very, very popular cars here. For good reason–I drove an older one for several years, and it was a great little car. Very dependable.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Here, Subarus have replaced Volvos as the stereotypical, dependable “professor car”. We used to see Volvos all over campus, and now it’s Outbacks or Foresters. We’re considering one or the other of them to replace our Honda Odyssey minivan

    4. LCL*

      Make sure you test drive it to see if you and your passenger can fit into it. If you are more than 6′ tall Subarus are not the car for you.

  23. Kat*

    I shoveled the snow off some sidewalks/driveways for elderly neighbors yesterday and now my back mucles are very stiff. Not painfully so, but like when you havent worked those muscles in awhile.

    Aside from ibuprofen, does anyone have some suggestions on what i can do to stretch them and work the stiffness out? I dont have access to a hot tub(oh how i wish i did!), but i am heading to the shower to see if hot hot water helps.

    Thanks!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I love to fill a hot water bottle and sit back against it when I’m having lower back pain. Lasts longer than hot water. For stretching… I recently started doing exercises with Daily Yoga, an app I just downloaded. They have a few sequences that focus on different parts of the body, and I did some great seated back stretches the other day. Feel better!

    2. Shell*

      If you have an electric heat pad, those are godsends for back pain. I love mine.

      Failing that, would it be possible to duck into a public swimming pool and use their hot tub? I don’t find showers all that helpful because I find the muscle relaxation really happens when you sustain that temperature over a long time, and unless you shower for a really really long time you just don’t increase your body temperature all that much. Hot water bottle helps, but I can’t really lean on one without worrying about it bursting with the pressure.

    3. GOG11*

      Folks in the running community swear by epsom salts, though I’ve never used them myself. Just follow the instructions on the package and use them in a warm bath.

    4. GOG11*

      By “hot tub” do you mean a bath tub as well? If so, I apologize for the useless suggestion. Googling “epsom salts when you don’t have a tub” should yield a few results about making a spray that you can use on your skin. I haven’t tried that, either, though.

    5. soitgoes*

      A great night’s sleep is the only thing that helps my body aches. Maybe get some melatonin (it’s a natural supplement that helps you sleep – you can get it in gummy gels like a vitamin) and hunker down for a solid 8 hours of rest without soreness keeping you awake.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My complaint this morning is that tossing and turning with lower back stiffness caused me to get up early when I wanted to sleep in. I find that a walk about the neighborhood helps loosen that up, especially if I really make a conscious effort to get some torso movement ( by swinging my arms more or taking longish strides).

        I really wish I were rich with a live- in masseuse, though. :)

        1. nep*

          Had a friend who lived with me for a while when I was overseas. Best. Massages. Ever. I swear if I had the means I’d get him a visa and fly him here just to be able to get that massage every day. The great thing about having him live with me was that the massage could be at night when I was ready for bed and I could just drift off to sleep — didn’t have to get up and let someone out and lock doors or anything. Nothing like a regular good massage.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Aw, man, that’s the dream! I’d like my live-in masseuse to have a massage table that I can fall asleep on.

    6. nep*

      Castor oil — topically. Have someone apply an ample amount to your back at bedtime. Obviously wear something you don’t mind getting oil all over. Every body’s different so perhaps it doesn’t work for everyone, but I’ve been fascinated by the muscle and joint relief I get from applying castor oil for overnight.
      ‘Child’s pose’ and downward dog can be nice stretches for the back.

    7. summercamper*

      I get relief from this sort of back pain by laying flat on my back perpendicular to my couch, with my feet resting on the seat (knees and hips at 90 degree angles, just like if you are sitting in a chair with good posture). Then, I take a deep breath and stretch my arms up over my head, and sometimes I move my arms around like I’m making a snow angel.

      It looks absolutely ridiculous, but it works for me! I also use a heating pad on problem areas.

      I recently tried using a peppermint essential oil for sore muscles. It felt a little bit like an icy-hot, except without the icy. When my free sample was used up, I didn’t buy any more – but I know other folks who swear by this stuff.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I’m going to go try this in my bedroom using my bed in place of the couch so I don’t have to explain what I’m doing to anyone (because I’m lazy like that).

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Okay, so I just did it, and in the process discovered that I can’t raise my left arm above my head in that context because of a painful catch in that shoulder. I think I may need some sort of body work for that. Or if anyone knows of a good exercise for it?

          1. fposte*

            It may be overshortened muscles somewhere in the region rather than damage, too. Overshortening in the front, which is what would limit you in the position described, is *hugely* common in desk workers. You could try (*very* gently) doorway stretches. Stand in a doorway, put your hands out to hold the framing on other side, and lean forward to stretch. Start with the hands low, stretch, move ’em up an inch, stretch, and so on until they’re well over your head. Since that’s covering a lot of different muscles, you may go from tight to loose to tight and back again, or vice versa.

            Just do it to get some stretch–don’t get focused on being able to push through the doorway or anything, and especially since you might have something else going on, be very careful and conservative. Shoulder muscles are pretty teeny and do tear with little provocation. So no ripping your arm off, okay?

            1. Mallory Janis Ian*

              I bet that’s what it is — the over-shortened muscles, because I do slave over the hot computer all day (AKA general office work). I will try the above-described doorway stretches, gently and regularly.

      2. nep*

        Sounds like a great move — along the lines of ‘legs up the wall’ pose. Relaxing, invigorating, soothing.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      You can try calcium for a short term.
      Make sure you load up on water.
      I also like arnica creams. They don’t have the strong scent like the other stuff.

      1. nep*

        Yes — a co-worker told me his mom would use arnica oil in a bath for aches and pains. I’ve not tried it, but he said it worked wonders for pain. (OP — it’s been a few hours — how are you feeling?)

    9. BRR*

      Heat pad or emu oil. There’s also a stretch where you bend over at a 90 degree angle and grab the top of a chair with the seat of the chair towards you and slowly creep your feet backwards. You can do it on a counter as well if it is open on both sides like a kitchen island.

    10. CheeryO*

      No advice, but thank you for helping your elderly neighbors. My grandma lives alone at 87, and while we help her out as much as possible, she sometimes has to depend on the kindness of her neighbors. We are so grateful for the little things they do to help her.

    11. Artemesia*

      I have one of those heat things you can warm in the microwave that is filled with grain. You can make your own with a big sock and a couple of sacks of dried beans. They hold heat, are reusable for a long time and you don’t have to worry about them leaking all over the bed like a hot water bottle might. We live in a very cold climate and have the window open at night so our room is freezing — so I take the thing to bed warm every night to just help get warm when jumping into the cold bed.

      they are great on sore muscles.

    12. asteramella*

      Depending what part of your back hurts, you might want to try yoga poses like wind-relieving pose, cat/cow, child’s pose, or revolved abdomen pose.

    13. Student*

      Try a different type of over-the-counter painkiller. They are actually substantively different. Some work better on certain things than others. I suspect it varies from person to person (and I’m no medical doctor). I find naproxen works best for my muscle pains or gynecological pains, aspirin helps me most with my headaches, and ibuprofen works for everything else.

    14. HR Manager*

      Get a massage and/or see a chiropractor if this happens a lot. I have poor back muscles and it’s usually tied to weak core muscles (so do those crunches to strengthen them).

      Do you do yoga at all? Yoga has a lot of great positions to relax and stretch and strengthen muscles, and can help your back too. Lie on your back and try something like happy baby pose (you can probably find references online). I like lying on my back, curling into a ball, and rocking side to side.

      Another option if you have sore back frequently – get a foam roller and roll along your back. They do wonders to get out stiff knots and kinks.

  24. DJ Max Power*

    I’m a regular commenter, but we keep our on-air personas separate from everything else, so I’ll use my DJ name here.

    I’m on the air right now until 9pm ET, if anyone wants to make a request! I’m on KJSR.net (browser, cell phone, and Roku players available).

      1. DJ Max Power*

        Sorry about that, you will need to create an account to make a request, then you can click on the word “OPEN” under Request Line…or you can post here, or ask me in the chat or by email (DJ_Max_Power@KJSR.net). Sorry for the inconvenience!

      2. DJ Max Power*

        Wow, great band, thanks for requesting them, I hadn’t heard of them before! I’ll have to find some more of their music…I love The Pogues and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, and they remind me a little of both of those in some ways.

        1. Alistair*

          Don’t leave the rest of us hanging! Who was requested? You’re right in my wheelhouse with both bands!

          1. GOG11*

            I’m not sure if he’s referring to the one I requested, but mine was “Keasby Nights” by Streetlight Manifesto.

            1. DJ Max Power*

              Yes, Streetlight Manifest0 — I had never heard of them before, but their albums are available on Amazon Prime. I’ve already added them to my Prime library, and I’ll probably buy at least an album or two of theirs. :)

        2. GOG11*

          Also, if you like them, you might like Catch22. Similar ska sound. But the lyrics are what get me – I swoon for clever lyrics and unexpected yet spot on descriptions, metaphors, similes, what-have-yous.

          If you’re into that aspect of things, the Weakerthans’ “Reconstruction Site” is a must listen, IMO. It’s a fantastic album about recovery (at least that’s how I interpreted it).

  25. Windchime*

    I’m going on vacation tomorrow to my favorite place on earth; a certain small island in Hawaii. I haven’t been many places, but this place is my favorite place in the world so far. I’ve had a really stressful winter and have been looking forward to it for months and months. And then yesterday I found out that my ex-husband will also be there for a job interview. On the same tiny island thousands of miles from the state where we live. The only saving grace is that we won’t be on the same flight. I’m praying that he is staying someplace else.

    I’m having a hard time not being upset that he might possibly be taking my favorite place from me. I know it makes no sense; it’s a free country and there is certainly room for everyone there (it’s not THAT tiny of an island). But I’m still annoyed.

    1. joey_aam*

      Is it small enough that the risk of running into him is high? Or is the worry that he’ll get the job and then you’ll know he’ll be there when you want to return next time?

      Sending happy thoughts for you, hope the holiday is still fantastic!

      1. Windchime*

        Yeah, that’s the worry. That I will know that he is there if he gets the job. It’s small enough but not so tiny that bumping into each other is unavoidable.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      “You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I more willingly part withal—except my life, except my life, except my life” -Hamlet

      You know how you can be so alone in a room full of people? In this case, that can finally work to our advantage! You are not obligated to acknowledge him if you see him, much less speak to him or socialize.

      But I’m sorry you have to deal with even that much during your vacation getaway.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That is EXACTLY what I was JUST THINKING as I scrolled down and saw your comment. Without the awesomeness of Jason Segal.

    3. nep*

      ‘I’m having a hard time not being upset that he might possibly be taking my favourite place from me.’
      That’s an issue only because you’re already willingly surrendering some of your joy…allowing it to be taken. It’s not the case that he’s taking your favourite place from you. Best not to project, not to breathe any life into that kind of thinking.

  26. Anpersonymous*

    I see someone above wrote about coming to the US and asking about tipping in restaurants.

    Let’s sort of reverse that scenario.

    I’ll be going to Europe this year and my friend and I are taking a private tour of an historic area. It’s an all-day thing with a tour guide leading us around to the various important sites. I’ve been to Europe before, but I have never done a tour like this. What would be the recommended percentage to tip on this type of tour?

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        My only experience with this sort of thing was slipping the guide a 5 euro note after an all day tour (this was in the Mediterranean), but this was part of a group of 30 + people. However, if I was part of a smaller group (e.g. 2 people), then I would give more.

    1. Julie*

      I’m trying to remember my tipping. Most tours I think I ended up doing 10-15%. I had a few tours that involved “guides” more than just a driver and I’d go up to 20% (or more) on those. In Rome, my Rome in Limo Vatican guide was so amazing that my husband immediately grabbed out extra bills to put in our envelope we gave her. She was an art history scholar and just amazing on all the pieces in the Vatican. We also did some larger tips on small group excursions or with drivers who did some prep-work, like showing up with tickets pre-bought. My tours were all in France and Italy so YMMV.

      I think your tour sounds like a 15-20% kind of thing but keep some small bills around depending on how it works out. I had every envelope pre-stuffed with the price of tour plus around 13% (give or take due to rounding) and then added as much as I felt was appropriate as extra after the tour itself.

  27. Ruffingit*

    So a couple of months ago, I had an appointment with a mechanic I’d used before and who did good work. I showed up at the appointed time to find the shop closed. I called and left a message then went across the street to a diner to wait. Never heard from him and he never opened the shop that day. Or ever again as I went by today to just check and the shop is for lease. Have no idea what happened to him.

    Around December, I was in a restaurant and received great service from a woman named Julia. Went back a couple of weeks later and asked to be seated in her section. Manager at the front said “Well, I’d love to do that, but she’s not here. She’s supposed to be, but never showed up for her shift.”

    Um…I’m starting to feel like Jessica Fletcher. People just disappear randomly around me.

      1. Myrin*

        Same for me! I’m pretty picky with a lot of things so it can take me quite a bit to find something I actually like and then, a few weeks or months down the line: nope, doesn’t exist any longer. My mother is the same – we seem to have a genetic disposition for misfortune.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha, I have that one, too. My other one is that I have a string of places that went out of business after I quit working there. I was starting to get a little paranoid about that, until I left my most recent position at the university to go work for my department head at his private firm — no way the School of Teapot Design is going out of business!

          1. fposte*

            Now I have this picture of them drumming their fingers impatiently. “Is she gone yet? Can we finally close the place?”

    1. louise*

      My priest has referred to me as an angel of death due to the number of folks who seemed otherwise in good health but dropped dead shortly after I visited them. Of course, confirmation bias comes to play; most people I’ve visited have NOT dropped dead, but they don’t stand out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        yikes! What a thing to say.
        I hope you told him that you were just trying to keep him in business. ;)

  28. Help*

    Need to release a little frustration here… Hope everyone doesn’t mind. My husband is an attorney in the Twin Cities and can’t seem to find a FT job. He’s been a contractor for a long time doing document review and similar jobs, but those gigs are few and far between, it seems. He excels at those jobs and they always try to keep him on if the budget allows. It’s a lot of downtime for him-up to months without anything. He did have a FT job at the end of 2013 and through the first few months of last year 2014 until March, but he absolutely hated the job, (was a pretty shady place and the most miserable I’ve ever seen him), and quit cold turkey without another job lined up, hence=no unemployment pay. He was one of two in line for a position that would’ve been perfect for him a few months after he quit his job last year, but didn’t get it. Now, he’s without anything-no contract gigs at the moment and no interviews-(hasn’t had one from the potential job from last year)-nothing. He applies for jobs almost daily and is currently going through two different temp agencies, but it’s pretty painful for me to go through this, as well as watching him go through this, not only financially but emotionally as well, because I’m the sole bread-winner currently. I’m also a contractor, but have been lucky enough to get consistent gigs without a lot of downtime in between. The cities, as I’ve heard, have an influx of lawyers and a lot of people have trouble getting jobs-but it just doesn’t seem fair. He’s an honest, very hardworking guy and I pray daily that something happens for us. I’m not sure if trying to break into a similar career would help-he doesn’t have experience in related transitional areas. It’s been four years of this since he’s received his J.D. He already has a B. S. in communication, but doesn’t wasn’t to pursue anything in that area. We are in our mid to late thirties, want to buy a house, start a family and move forward in our lives… But this doesn’t seem possible. I’m starting to look into FT jobs myself, but have been burned in the past and decided to take a break and go into contracting, which for one the money is better.

    I’m not pressuring him, as I know he has to figure this out on his own and nagging him would only drive a wedge between us. He already knows that this is bothering me, and I feel like I can’t really talk about this with him as he gets somewhat defensive. I’ve asked him about getting a PT job, but it feels as though he’s waiting to get a contract gig or FT and hasn’t done anything about it. I’m trying to be as supportive as I possibly can, but I know that it bothers him just as much as it’s bothering me. Moving to another state for work would be expensive as he’d have to take and pass the bar in that state in order to practice-which could take a long time-because nothing is guaranteed. I know he’s losing hope, fast.

    I don’t know what to do anymore. I don’t know what we’re doing wrong. I feel stuck. I don’t want to be in this same predicament another year from now. I’m hesitant to reveal this to the world, as it would break his heart if he knew I was posting this, but I need other advice- you can only vent so much to your friends/family. Anyone else ever been in this situation? I’ve been a follower of this awesome blog for a long time but have never posted. Please, any feedback would be appreciated. Thank you.

    1. Love my boy too*

      Went through this with my boy a few times during our 20+ years together. He was in B2B sales and just got fried out with the stress. He had two long periods with no work. Each time I was in the same place as you and couldn’t vent to family or nag him. I finally had “the talk” and said that we can’t financially sustain this for much longer, and maybe getting a office admin type temp job just to pay the bills would help. On one of these rough patches he we was feeling so down about himself to the point he was neglecting his hygine. I framed temping as a way to dip his toe back in the work waters. For your husband it might be a way to network. Each time my guy temped he got hired on by the company. The work isn’t as challenging and he is happier. Since he is doing document review, could he drum up work by telecommuting and do work for firms in other towns in Minnesota? Maybe Rochester or St. Cloud is underserved?

      I think sometimes in life with we keep going with the career path we chose without ever examining if it makes it miserable. You DH might have come to that realization and doesn’t know how to discuss this with you and move on. I know I am never going to the the type of work I have done for the last 25 years (payroll). I also don’t want another job with that much ongoing stress and I have been late to recogonize the corporate America is full of a-holes.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Get him interested in reading here. It is up beat and proactive, with a wide variety of topics and angles on various topics, never boring.

      Sometimes spouses are too close to help. Bringing in a third party can be the relief both spouses need from each other and their shared struggles. Reading here is something he can do discretely and at his own pace. Convenience does not get any better than that.

    3. Suz*

      Just sending hugs.

      I have a vaguely similar situation where my partner is not working; only doing small jobs here and there, but finding it hard to get anything significant. It’s hard to be supportive without feeling like a doormat some days, but I know he’s hurting about it too. I try to talk about how I feel (eg, I feel stressed that I’m paying for everything, but am also upset that you feel guilty about buying small things for yourself.) Ultimately, we’d both feel better and healthier if he had an OK job. Also offer any support you can (eg, reading cover letters, practicing interviews, etc) in the job search.
      Also, I’m not in US so I don’t know all the options, but with a JD, would he be interested in doing policy work for a government or NGO? That might be a reasonable sideways move.

      I will say that some things shouldn’t wait for everything to be perfect (IMHO). If you really want children and you are mid-to-late thirties, I think you should start trying. Kids change your lifestyle anyway so start building a small nest egg for future children and start trying. Buying a house is fantastic, but may not be the right priority for you both at this point. Buying a house can wait; children can’t always…
      Parents will often tell you that they just made it work after the kids were born- priorities, spending habits shift and it ultimately works out reasonably even if it means staying in a rental for longer..

      Wishing you all the best and hope the situation improves.

    4. Temp Ingognito*

      I can only offer my sympathy for you. I met my spouse in grad school and he’s been un and underemployed since. I make an ok salary but it would be great if he was earning one too not to mention his mental health working in retail hell. I feel like we’re not able to do anything because we’re just getting by. I even find myself getting upset because most everything is dependent on my income. I bought a set of dishes and he broke one. He offered to buy a new one but I know he can’t afford it so I said it’s fine (they were also on clearance anyways so it was not really possible anyways).

      I can’t really offer any solutions but I know how hard it is. I completed a job hunt when he was still in school and now with him not being motivated after so much rejection I put so much effort into his job hunt which is exhausting. And I have to be optimistic when part of me is just mad he can’t be an adult (never has had a full-time job).

      Has he tried asking for feedback after interviews? It’s good he’s at least applying to what sounds like a lot of jobs.

    5. Jean*

      Kudos to the three people above who have submitted compassionate, thoughtful comments!
      Nothing to add except my agreement with everyone’s observations, recommendations, and good wishes.

    6. Dan*

      There’s nothing you can do here, per se. I used to think that spouses should be able to talk about anything, but this is one of those areas that’s just… tough. If he’s frustrated that he’s under employed, there’s nothing productive that you can say to him about expressing *your* feelings, that will just make him more depressed. About the only thing you might be able to suggest is moving to a different area where the market is better, and only then, you can only frame it reference to “what’s best for us” as opposed to him.

      But I feel your pain. I supported my ex for two years while she was finishing school. 10 weeks after she got hired (and after a year of volunteering at the place in hopes to get a job) she got herself fired for attendance reasons. We split up after that, I just didn’t have it in my to continue supporting her while she wasn’t taking her job seriously.

    7. Ruffingit*

      I had a similar issue with my ex-husband who was a lawyer. He was chronically underemployed after being fired from a lucrative job (firing was not his fault at all, to be clear). After that, he went totally down hill in that he would do nothing around the house, he slept all day and played games all night. I was carrying us financially and it was rough since I didn’t make much myself.

      So, I know the frustration even though your husband appears to be trying to do something to help himself whereas mine wasn’t. At this point, a few sessions with a marriage counselor may be helpful just to be able to talk about it with a third party who can help defuse the tension. Bottom line is that there will come a time when you can no longer carry you both financially and something will have to be done. Hopefully he will secure a full-time job soon, but I see nothing wrong with putting a deadline on it and saying “Listen, if you don’t have a job by X date, you must take something part-time because we can’t keep doing this.” There may be a better way to say that, but you get the drift.

      I can also speak to this from the other side as I am a “recovering lawyer.” :) I decided to go into another field entirely, which I absolutely LOVE so much more than I ever did law, but when I got out of law school, it took me a year to find something in the field. It’s not easy out there in JD Land. I had that job for six months before I had to quit to save my sanity. After that, I took anything and everything I could to make ends meet including a contract job doing tech writing (original degree was in journalism). Finally decided to go back to grad school to get a degree for the field I’m in now (grad school is required for the job I do) and I did some legal cases on my own here and there, but mostly pursued my new field of study.

      It’s not easy from either side of the equation, but it is fair to put time limits on how long you can financially bear his job search for something in his field before he’s going to have to think about alternatives.

    8. NacSacJack*

      Consider computer programming as a third career choice. A lot of companies in the cities will hire non-IT degree people.

      That said, have the “Talk” with your husband. It took me a year to do so with my OH and I was at the end of my financial rope. Not to belabor but to demo, he made a stupid error in judgement, lost his job, couldn’t find one in his preferred field and decided to go back to school. Didn’t have a job for 7 months until he up and decided to work in food service (god knows why) for only 26 hours a week at minimum wage. Oh and refused to clean house, do dishes or reorg. I’m like I’m paying $1000 a month for this? Lost rent + paying his medical insurance. I finally said, Look, this isnt getting me anywhere I want to go. And you don’t want to go here.

      Have the talk soon. Can he be a SAH Spouse?

    1. Cath in Canada*

      It seems to take me longer to adjust every year – I guess because I don’t write the date down as often as I used to when I was keeping a meticulous lab notebook and writing cheques!

  29. The Other Dawn*

    Any storage ideas for an 8′ x 11′ kitchen in a 280 year old house? I have just three drawers in my kitchen, pretty limited counter space and very little wall space. So far I’ve installed a 20.00 Ikea pot rack on the window trim (old window trim is VERY sturdy stuff!). I’ve installed long rod-type drawer pulls on the sides of my wall cabinets and hung hooks on them to hang cooking utensils and oven mits. Any other ideas? Not really sure what I’m looking for. Really, any ideas would be great. Luckily I have a built-in corner cabinet in the dining room so that holds all my seasonal stuff like turkey platters, Christmas candy dishes, etc. I also have a little closet next to the kitchen which has a rack for all my bakeware.

    I never thought I’d be able to get used to the tiny kitchen, but it’s actually quite efficient.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I was going to suggest you go vertical, but it sounds like you’ve already done a great job of it. If you still don’t have room, it might be time to ditch some stuff then.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve actually ditched a lot of stuff. Mostly my issue is counter space, but I’m also looking for a creative way to use the tiny amount of wall space I have. Maybe a shelf for oils or cookbooks.

        1. VintageLydia USA*

          What I did when I had tiny kitchen was put an IKEA island/cabinet in the dining space and used it to store things like the coffee pot and toaster–stuff that stays on my counter all the time ad wouldn’t be totally out of place in the dining area. Especially the coffee pot. To be able to refill my cup without even getting out of my chair was pretty awesome. But a narrower sideboard or somethign would work, too.

    2. Jean*

      Yes, a small kitchen can be an efficient space in which to work! Our kitchen is approximately 8′ x 8′ (which is actually roomy for an apartment). Like you, I’ve turned to freestanding furniture in the dining room: 1 credenza, 1 small cupboard, and 2 sets of open shelves. I also took over several shelves in the so-called linen closet for pots and pans and shoehorned into the kitchen a small chest of drawers (for table linens), about half a dozen plastic storage boxes with lids (to hold groceries and some specialized cooking tools), and a cart with four mesh drawers (to hold more groceries, school directories, and stuff like aluminum foil and extra dish sponges. Some of the plastic boxes are stacked on the chest of drawers; others are perched on the tops of the cabinets, close to the ceiling. I have two permanent hooks on the wall for aprons and two movable over-the-drawer/over-the-cabinet-door hooks that can hold a pot holder or dish towel when I’m exceptionally busy. I also hammered in nails on which to hang the spice racks. Oh, yes, and in several places inside the cabinet I further subdivided the vertical space with vinyl-covered mini-shelves and hang-from-the-shelf-above wire baskets.

      If this is starting to sound like the kitchen of a dedicated foodie…um, not exactly. In our case the need for spatial ingenuity results from a lifestyle choice that mandates owning enough equipment to cook and serve dairy and meat with completely separate dishes, utensils, pots, etc. (To anyone puzzled: We keep kosher. It’s a Jewish tradition. I think it’s been pretty well covered in some of the other posts about accommodating dietary restrictions in the workplace.) It sounds nutty if you’re not familiar with the system, but once you get used to it it’s no different than running a gluten-free or vegetarian or vegan kitchen, or remembering to sort your recyclables into separate bins.

        1. Jean*

          Thanks. It’s been a series of challenges. Actually, much of life consists of facing and resolving challenges. (Middle age: It only seems dull on the surface!).

      1. Emily*

        Very cool! Most of my friends who keep kosher do so by being vegetarian and bypassing the meat issue entirely.

        1. Suz*

          I always thought I’d have a vegetarian household when I moved out of home because it would be easier to keep Kosher and I could always eat meat at my parents if I really wanted to. Then I married a meat-eater :)

          But I would say that the majority of our kitchen is for dairy and we just have a smallish corner for when we need to do meat things, instead of half-half.

    3. Anon1234*

      Can you hang something from the ceiling for pots? There are also cutting boards that fit over burners to create a flat space, if you don’t mind having things on display.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Actually I do have a pot rack, which I’ve hung over the window (it’s attached to the trim, not the ceiling). The house is very old which means low ceilings. And since I’m 5’11”, hanging stuff from the ceiling would make for a lot of head whacks! The cutting boards sound interesting and I may check into that.

    4. Alicia*

      We have a galley kitchen now, but only one side of the kitchen has cupboards and storage. Because it’s an 80 year old house that has been split into apartments, it is rather quirky to say the least. From a previous apartment, I had invested in a wire baking rack that is only about the height of the stove. I shoved that between the fridge and stove where there was about two feet of dead space. I stored all my pots and pans on it rather than using cupboards. I also worked vertically. The thing I hate about it the most was that 2 people can’t easily cook in there at the same time, so it isn’t social cooking.

    5. louise*

      We have an awkward small corner in iur kitchen that is too small for a little table, so we put a chest of drawers formerly in the bedroom there. Perfect for ziplocs, kitchen towels, tupperware, and so forth. Paper towels, a candy dish, cookbooks, and a lamp sit on top and we hung a wine glass rack from chains above it. Perfect use of the weird space!

  30. Anonymally*

    I just want to share some Happy News: 2 of my summer interns accepted full-time jobs at my company, in my group! I was once told that one of the perks you get out of rising within the company is a greater say in things like hiring and promotion, and in my experience, that’s true. I’m happy that I could help two technically strong individuals get good jobs, and it’s good for the company, too.

    And I’m told my company will recognize my contribution, too, which is a bit surprising. They are not typically especially self-aware in these matters, but the truth is that my company does not have the “sex appeal” of, say, Google or Apple (sad fact is that we’re considered conservative and stodgy). So part of my job is to show off the value of a career with my company: we don’t have pinball machines, but we offer almost limitless opportunity, and diversity and talent at least on part with Google.

    I’ve been walking on air all weekend!

  31. The Other Dawn*

    This is just some venting…

    We rented our old house to friends (yes, I know. Bad Idea.). They were very late paying each month, usually three weeks or so. Now they owe most of December, plus January rent. We terminated the lease and gave more than 30 days notice. We are now serving a notice to quit for non-payment of rent so they have to be out by the 31st. It cost me 120.00 to have that notice served. It just irks me that I have to pay to get rid of people who aren’t paying me. And my husband is working 60 hours a week in order for us to cover both mortgages and all our bills. That doesn’t even allow us to pay some one-off bills we owe. Just mortgages, bills, and maybe gas and food if we’re really careful. Since they’re paying little to nothing (and stuck us with a 500.00 oil bill!), we’re basically working to support them. What irks me even more is that once I start eviction it will take three months to get them out. Meanwhile we’re killing ourselves just to stay above water. They have more rights than I do!! Hate this!

    We met a realtor at the old house today (they were there, too, so very awkward) and unfortunately we can’t sell. We’ll have to rent it out again. But at least I have a little bit of comfort knowing that the realtor will do a credit check, etc. Not that it’s a guarantee, but it gives me a little comfort.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      The pro-tenant laws came about because of what landlords were doing to tenants in the earlier part of the 1900s. It got really nasty. Here we are almost 100 years later and still working with some of the same laws that really are not relevant or helpful anymore.

      Not a helpful response, I’m sorry, but I do agree. I see many, many problems with the laws regarding rental properties.

      1. Liane*

        And then there’s my state–the only one in the USA where being late on rent is a crime. (Literal, as in law/s on the books). Although my pastor, who’s also a lawyer, tells me most decent (and presumably not understandably frustrated landlords like the OP) still handle it through the civil system.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh that is interesting. I guess the threat of criminal charges can still be a useful device. I am wondering if this means cases are more successful or if the results in your state are comparable to non-criminal states.

    2. Dan*

      Why can’t you sell? The reality is that you probably can sell, you’d just do so at a loss. But that’s different than “can’t”. Given what you’ve written here, that’s an option worth serious consideration.

      DIY land lording is tough work, and TBH, perhaps you don’t have the financial position to do that. I was once “that tenant.” I had the law on my side, and knew it. The thing is, the issues I dealt with get to the core essence as to the purpose of the legal system. In short, the land lady wasn’t compliant with city housing codes, and a result, I legally owed no rent. One day when she pissed me off too much (the oven and air conditioner stopped working, and she dragged her feet fixing it) my roommate and I stopped paying. We had every legal right to do so.

      What I learned from that is that if I ever became a DIY land lord, to get a good lawyer and do my homework. If “worst case scenario” is something that could/would bankrupt me, I probably shouldn’t do it.

      BTW, when someone’s housing is at issue, there *should* be due process before that is taken away from them.

      1. nicolefromqueens*

        I obviously don’t know the situation, but there may be other issues: e.g. if they owe more on the house than the house is worth, if they’re in certain stages/chapters of bankruptcy, or if it is contingent on surrogate court.

        I am going through a similar situation as you did with my landlord. I’m here 2.5 months with no heat. Landlord did not move a finger until earlier this month when I told him he wasn’t getting any more rent until I had heat (NYC law). Here we are two weeks after that point, and he has only made minor changes (sealing windows and doors, installing a thermostat that has control over nothing) while not addressing the main issue: there’s no source of heat. Just the other day he asked me again for rent while I was bundled up in my own apartment. I informed him I’m still waiting for my heat and that I have rights, to which his response was: “I know you have rights but where’s my rent?” I could have made his life very miserable by reporting him, but to keep the peace I chose not to.

        I swear, my renting/roommate sagas could fill a book one day. One thing I say to other people about to buy/lease: ‘if you can’t afford it on your own, you can’t afford it. Do not depend on other people to pay your most important bill!’

      2. The Other Dawn*

        We can’t sell because we wouldn’t be able to pay off the mortgage. We can’t afford the shortfall right now because of other things that have come up. Our only option is to rent the house out again.

        Our house is fully up to code with no mechanical issues or anything. There’s absolutely no reason for them to decide not to pay other than they can’t afford it. We now know that they strung us along about certain financial things and just feel they don’t need to take this seriously. I’m not saying they can’t afford it because I know for a fact that they’ve spent quite a bit of money they supposedly didn’t have, like buying a new laptop, among other things.

        Of course there should be due process, but it’s not like I served a notice saying they have three days to get out, although according to law here I’d be well within my rights to do that. They had more than 30 days’ formal notice. And I’ve been telling them for more than two months before that this was my intention since it’s clear they can’t pay.

        1. fposte*

          I’m with Dan here, though. The notion is that housing is a basic right, and the default is therefore not to throw people onto the streets without following the law. I think that’s the way it should be.