weekend free-for-all – January 24-25, 2015

Olive LucyThis 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.

{ 1,062 comments… read them below }

  1. just laura*

    I desperately need to stock my freezer with thaw-and-cook items. I get kind of overwhelmed by the “Cook once and eat for 200 years” types of things you see online. Any tips for creating a plan — or better yet, for incentivizing myself to could double batches of normal stuff and putting half in the freezer? I completely forget to do it that way. :0 Any tips on recipes or helpful websites would be very welcome. Thanks!

    1. fposte*

      Oh, I love doing this. I don’t know of any blogs, but there are quite a few “make ahead” cookbooks; I’m a fan of America’s Test Kitchen/Cook’s Illustrated, so I’ve enjoyed theirs. But you also don’t really need to have something officially identified as make-ahead–it’s inherent to a lot of recipes like soups and stews. Just cook up your pot of chili/chicken vegetable soup/minestrone or whatever, parcel it out into containers that serve however many are relevant, and thwock them into the freezer. I get a lot of soup and stew recipes off of Epicurious, which is free. You can also freeze up pasta sauce, pesto, etc., so that you can just heat it up when you cook the pasta.

    2. TL -*

      I do best setting aside a weekend afternoon for cooking with music or Netflix. It’s easier and less stressful to schedule it for a lazy time for me

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        That’s what works for me, too — knowing I’m going to do a batch on a weekend afternoon and just planning ahead to shop for that one meal, because I’m not good at (or really interested in) meal planning for the entire rest of the week, but I can do it for one purpose. If you do it three or four weekends in a row, you will have a pretty good stock.

        Here are the ones that have been most reliable for me: lentil soup, lasagne, chicken noodle soup, cheddar cheese and cauliflower soup,

        Ha, fposte, I just bought America’s Test Kitchen “Cooking School Cookbook.” I couldn’t resist a cookbook with extensive “what went wrong?” sections after every recipe. CSI: DQO’s Kitchen.

        1. Revanche*

          Lentil soup: is there any special way you put this up? The last time I froze a large batch of my favorite lentil soup, the lentils were all mushy and weirdly textured on reheating.

          1. JLO*

            I make more of a stew, not lentils soup, lots of bacon, onions, and lentils, with white rice on the side. My suggestion is to under cook the lentils, and I guess it will be more of a trial and error situation.

          2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            No, but I use those green french lentils which are smaller — maybe they freeze better? I also use individual- sized ziplock plastic containers that I grab for lunch. Could it be the defrosting method? I defrost by weight in the microwave and then heat — or defrost in the morning and then stick it in my lunch bag to heat at noon.

      2. LAMM*

        I do this too… I hate cooking for extended periods of time and having to psych myself up for several hours in the kitchen means it’s something I have to plan in advance.

    3. danr*

      What do you like to cook and eat? Make extra and freeze the leftovers. Pasta sauce (with or without meat) is easy. Simple sauces are best At any time, our freezer has a bag or two of pasta sauce with meat, frozen chicken breasts, bread for garlic bread and plenty of frozen veggies. And ice creams.

    4. Beezus*

      I rarely do double batches of an entire meal to freeze. I do double batches of starter materials and freeze. I might cook up some boneless skinless chicken breasts, make half into fajita strips, and freeze the other half and wind up using them later for chicken salad, for example. At any given time, I usually have a few pounds of cooked hamburger and cooked boneless chicken in my freezer for quick meals. I will warn you, the next step is remembering to use your freezer meals in a pinch, especially if you have the habit of grabbing takeout instead. I’ve had some success with reserving a section of the freezer for meal starters, so it’s easy to see what I have at a glance. I have a feeling that a keeping whiteboard on the freezer door with a running list is a next step. Being more disciplined about meal planning would help, too – I’ve fallen off the wagon lately. I’ve found that I’m too fickle about food to meal planning in detail in advance (tacos on Monday, spaghetti on Tuesday, meatloaf on Wednesday…), but I can vaguely mealplan (we’ll have tacos, spaghetti, and meatloaf this week, and whichever of those sounds good on Monday is what I’ll do).

      The only completed foods I tend to freeze are soups/stews and pulled barbecue meats with barbecue sauce added – basically, wet things or things with sauce added, so there’s less dry surface area for freezer burn. Also, I have a Foodsaver vacuum sealer to store frozen food. It’s not really necessary if you’re freezing stuff for a few days, but if you want to freeze food that you might not use for a month or three, vacuum sealing it in heavy plastic helps minimize freezer burn. Making sure you have stock of any supplies you need to freeze (freezer containers/bags/labels, etc.) on hand and easily accessible is another way to be disciplined about doing it.

      1. The IT Manager*

        The only completed foods I tend to freeze are soups/stews and pulled barbecue meats with barbecue sauce added – basically, wet things or things with sauce added, so there’s less dry surface area for freezer burn.

        I cook a lot of meats and veggies in sauces (ie stews, tajines, pulled meats) in the crock pot and I usually eat some throughout the week that its fresh and freeze the rest. I have pulled these out of the freezer months later and never noticed any sign of freezer burn, but everything is usually covered in sauce and juices. I never given that fact much thought before.

        I adapt a lot of my favorite recipes for the crock pot and the rest I just google.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I like this, Beezus (and your screen name, too–yay Beverly Cleary!). I might try this. I have a ton of stuff I can cook and then freeze, and a tiny whiteboard on my freezer that I don’t use much. It would be perfect for a list like this.
        I may not get to it this weekend, though; my head is splitting and I still have skate practice tomorrow. Ugh.

        1. Alma*

          It helps if you cook the same protein. If you’re doing black beans, make a triple recipe and flavor some for soup, some for burritos or taco salad type stuff, and some for refried beans. Same thing for ground meat: when I could afford it, I made spaghetti sauce, salisbury type steak patties, and pasta fagiole or chili or taco meat. In about three weeks, I’d prepare chicken (either what I found on sale, or rotisserie chicken marked down). That would be poached chicken (thighs or breasts) for salads and sandwiches, a thick chicken veggie soup or white chili, and maybe arroz con pollo or a stuffing and chicken casserole. (The secret to chicken is to freeze each container, especially chicken strips or pieces, with a few tablespoons of broth – from your poaching water, or from a can – to keep them moist and tender when they are re-heated.)

          So one thing is simmering along in the slow cooker, one is in the oven, and one may be on the stove. By doing that one Sunday afternoon a month, I soon would have a variety to choose from.

    5. Rebecca*

      I cook meat in bulk, and then portion out for salads during the week, or to heat up and eat with microwave veggies. I marinade beef steaks I slice myself, then do a whole broiler pan full, and cook several bone in chicken breasts in the slow cooker at the same time. I might thaw out some fish, or fry fresh fish for one or two of the days, but if I do, I make enough for 2 meals. When I make a salad, I make the one I’m eating plus 2 more (putting a paper towel underneath the greens) so I have a salad for the next two days. I rarely make just one thing for one meal. Good luck!

      1. Puddin*

        Cooking the meat in bulk makes a lot of sense. It is fairly easy to add veggies to the plate. We like to cook a lot of roasts – beef, pork, and whole chickens. The leftovers go into a multitude of things: sandwiches, tacos, salads (as Rebecca mentioned), soup/stew, casseroles…or just re-heat a thigh and gnaw on it :)

        For us, the key is that when we do cook, cook for 4 or 6 as ‘planned overs’ not just the one meal for two of us. It is no more work to bake 8 chicken thighs than it is 2.

        If you are going to freeze, I recommend a vacuum sealer too. I was convinced by Mr Puddin to get one. I thought it would not get used. But every week, there we are sucking air outta stuff. Nice to have when certain things go on sale, then I can stock up and save a few bucks.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I love peanut soup. I do a ton of an easy lightly curried peanut soup but I’m always on the lookout for more. Do you have recipe for the African peanut soup?

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oooh, if you like that, I know someone who makes a killer cauliflower curry soup. It has no cream but an incredibly creamy mouth feel due to the cauliflower and a bit of coconut milk, but most of the liquid is just chicken stock, IIRC. I’m sure a search would turn up the one my friend uses or ones just as good.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I found it! I was wrong about the coconut milk, it was yogurt and potato that added the creaminess. I don’t have instructions, but basically you cook it until the vegetables are soft, then you use a stick/immersion/hand blender to liquify everything.

            1/2 cup(s) (chopped) uncooked onion(s), coarsely chopped
            3 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced
            32 oz fat-free reduced sodium chicken broth
            1/2 head(s) (large) uncooked cauliflower
            2 medium uncooked potato(es)
            1 Tbsp ginger root, grated
            1 medium uncooked carrot(s)
            1 1/2 tsp garam masala
            1/2 cup(s) plain fat free yogurt

    6. Katie the Fed*

      Every few weeks, I’ll get 3-4 rotisserie chickens from Costco. I strip and shred or chop all the meat from the chickens and freeze in quart bags (I’ll do a few bags of shredded and a few bags of chopped). It’s useful in so many things – salads, enchiladas, soups (I could live on soups), pasta, chicken and dumplings, chicken salads, etc. It’s incredibly useful stuff, and I love the mix of dark and white meat.

      I also pull apart the chicken carcasses and throw in my giant stock pot with some aromatics (I save scraps from things like onions, carrots, celery, and I add herbs and some apple cider vinegar (helps to extract the gelatin) and whatever else I might have around). The I cook that for 2 days until I have a really rich, flavorful stock that I can use in lots of things. I freeze some of that too.

      I swear, rotisserie chickens are the most useful things.

      I’ll also freeze sauces too. Like I got really into persian cooking last year so I’ll make and freeze some of the more complicated sauces and then thaw and pour those on meats to braise. Mmmmm now I want some.

      1. LAMM*

        If you have any around you, sometimes Kroger or Meijer will have some shredded rotisserie chicken packaged up in the deli section. For when you want some shredded chicken but want to put in zero effort (not that I would know anything about that…). For me, the containers are enough to make about 3 lunches. At Meijer it seems to only be available sometimes at night after the deli closes. Kroger seems more random about their availability.

      2. Celeste*

        I’m sure you know this, but others may not. Costco also sells a 2-lb bag of chicken breast meat from their rotisserie chickens. It’s super handy for getting a fast meal on the table.

        1. Schuyler*

          This is enough to make me consider getting a Costco card again, even though it seems like all I ever buy there is paper towels and water. This would be perfect for the chicken noodle soup I make and less messy than shredding it myself.

    7. Ann Furthermore*

      I plan my meals out for the week before I go to the grocery store, and then for the stuff I want to make a freezer meal out of, I buy double. I shop on Sunday mornings, and then after I get things put away then I make my freezer stuff. A couple times, I’ve gotten up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday, loaded up at the grocery store, and then cooked up a storm all day long, ending up with 20 meals in the freezer (10 things, 2 of each). But OMG it is exhausting. Now I try to do a few at a time to keep up with things as we eat them.

      It depends though, on how many people you’re cooking for. I cook for 5, including myself. So a casserole or something else bigger works well, since I can thaw it overnight for dinner, and then have a serving or 2 left over for lunch during the week. If you’re single, that may not work, unless you’re OK eating the same thing for lunch and dinner a few days in a row.

      I also make things for the pantry, as I’ve been on a mission to get rid of canned/processed foods. There are some great recipes out on Pinterest for this. I make my own cream of chicken and mushroom soups, red and green enchilada sauces, and beans. It’s better than what you get at the store, and everything is pretty easy to make.

      Once you get into a routine, it’s easier to keep it up.

    8. Beth Anne*

      If you like soup…you can make big batches of soup in a crockpot or a big pot in not that much time and then separate it out into single servings…I do this every few months and it always comes out really good!

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh – on this – Corningware makes these great ceramic soup mugs with vented lids. They’re great for a 2-cup serving of soup, with a little head room. They come in a bunch of great colors and you don’t need to worry about microwaving plastic. We have 4 that we keep in regular rotation. I got mine at the corningware outlet but I saw the same ones at Costco recently.

    9. Lori C*


      Ree Drummond’s website/blog has a bunch of freezer friendly food items at the above link. Lots of tips, suggestions and recipes. Also to note, air is your enemy which causes freezer burn. I also like to buy meat on sale in bulk to freeze. I take pork chops, chicken, steaks, hamburger etc out of the store packaging. I probably go overboard but I wrap the individual pieces in plastic wrap first to get all the air out, then wrap in heavy duty aluminum foil and then place in zip lock freezer bags and try to squeeze out all the air out of the bags. Be sure to label and date everything. You think you will remember this bag is steak and this bag is pork chops but trust me, you won’t!

    10. Blue_eyes*

      The Full Plate Blog is a great resource for freeze and reheat meals that are healthy and often child friendly (if that’s something you need).

    11. Court B*

      I like the skinny taste website and cookbook and the recipes that freeze well are marked freezer friendly.

    12. AdAgencyChick*

      Not a plan for freezing, but a plan in general — this is going to sound anal-retentive, but I am anal-retentive so I don’t care. :) I have my menu plan saved in Google Docs, so that I can get at it when I have a free minute at work or at home. It lists ingredients (mostly meats, because I get mine from a CSA and thus my freezer is full of raw material most of the time) that I can start with, then I list per day what dishes I plan to make and where the recipe is (page number if it’s a cookbook, link if it’s online). If the plan is to eat out or have leftovers that night I put that in too. Then I look at which days require something to be defrosted, figure out how far in advance I need to do that, and put THAT info in my Google Tasks list.

      I think you could easily adapt something like this, which I use for unfreeze-and-cook, to a cook-and-freeze setup.

    13. Girasol*

      I used to cook for two. Now I cook like we’re four on weekdays when I’m not running late, and for a crowd on weekends, and on then on tough days I just grab from the freezer. If I roast a chicken I roast two, pack away chunks for ala-king, slices for sandwiches, and chicken and gravy, and on a weekend the last of it goes into the stock pot for a chunky soup. If I’m home on a weekend I might make a turkey, eat from it twice, and paclk away the rest. If I make spaghetti sauce or soup or stew, it’s a whole kettle full (a couple big steel stock pots really help.) If I make a casserole it goes into the turkey roaster which is school cafeteria-sized, and we’ll eat from it twice and freeze eight meals. Just switching to cooking like we’re a big family has been the trick for me. BTW, a whiteboard for tracking the freezer’s contents is handy, and the dry-erase marker can label plastic freezer boxes going in and be washed off after they come out.

    14. INTP*

      I live alone so pretty much any recipe is a double or quadruple batch for me. I keep most leftovers in the fridge, but if I have more than I’ll eat before it spoils, I like to put it in tupperware containers that will hold about one portion. (Ikea has cheap ones that are very space-efficient.) That way, when I need a quick work lunch or quick dinner, I can just grab one and not commit to thawing out an entire batch of something. I freeze soup in old 16oz yogurt containers, and one container thawed gives about two bowls of soup.

    15. MissDisplaced*

      The easiest thing I think you can do is to cook up a big batch of chicken on Sunday (broil, grill, or even make a whole chicken) along with a big pot of brown rice. You’ll find you can use these two staples in everything all week, from salads and sandwiches to stir-fry, pasta and easy reheats. Whatever’s left goes to homemade chicken noodle soup. It’s also very healthy.

      Of course, you do have to like eating chicken. I’ve tried doing the same with beef and pork, but personally I don’t think those reheat or combine as nice as chicken does.

    16. Kyrielle*

      Hamburgers if you like meat! Make up your burgers, cook appropriately, freeze in your favorite style (I get wax paper in between burgers in a freezer ziploc, press out the air, and toss them in). They can be reheated in the microwave and are awesome. (Warning: if you like them rare to medium, the microwaving will cook them further. I go for ‘well done’ so it doesn’t much affect my experience.)

      Ditto most meats, really – prepped chicken, etc., freezes pretty well. (I’m making two batches of chicken tonight, one for tonight/tomorrow’s meals, one to freeze and then haul out for Thursday’s tacos…and tomorrow I prep the burgers. My husband is much happier if I leave him something that just has to be heated, since he’s often home alone with the kids (3 & 6) at dinner time.

    17. anonima in tejas*

      I like doing this with big batches of proteins. for example I often do this with meatballs and meatloaf. I can make a lot, and then freeze them. I just then make side dishes each time I want to cook them. My recipes don’t require that they are thawed, and there are tons of ways to eat them.

    18. EG*

      I tend to make a big batch of a cooked meat, like ground beef or shredded pulled pork. Then I can freeze portions and use them as needed in recipes. Ground beef can be tacos, casserole or soup, or even “fancy” grilled cheese sandwiches. Pulled pork can stand alone, on a sandwich, or in a casserole or soup. I don’t have much freezer space but having meat already cooked saves me a ton of time.

    19. Mephyle*

      There’s a thing that was going around Pinterest not long ago where you do streamlined shopping and prep of several meats, vegetables, and seasonings and then divide up the ingredients and package them into freezer bags for about 10 or 12 crockpot meals. The key thing is that each one is different so you don’t end up with a dozen servings of the same thing.

      When you want one, you defrost it the day before, and empty the bag into the slow cooker in the morning.

      Not posting a link, but I see there are multiple versions of this, and they should be fairly easy to find by a search. Probably some are better than others. I found them with this search (don’t include quotes or brackets): {make your own freezer bags for slow cooker}. And maybe repeat the search substituting crockpot for ‘slow cooker’.

  2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    I hear you – I need back-up meals too and I get really tired of eating the same things. I also get tired of not having fresh food. One thing I do is to cook parts of meals that can be mixed and matched.

    Entree-wise, I’ll make something that i can use in several ways. So I might cook some black beans, complete with seasoning and veggies. Then, I can make burritos, quesadillas, beans and rice, etc. by taking 10 minutes to add the other ingredients. Or I might make something like lentil patties ( for my veggie protein entree) and then have those with a fresh salad or I can microwave some frozen green beans as a side.

    Ingredient wise, I make big batches of the ingredients I use a lot that that take longer to prepare and then I can use portions in individual meals without having to cook that part from scratch: cooked mashed sweet potatoes, caramelized onions, pizza dough, cooked lentils and beans, roasted garlic, parboiled butternut squash, a couple of sauces I make, cooked rice (only for emergencies – it’s not as good), etc.

    For whole, “one-pot” meals, I like stuff that will taste different if I can serve it in different ways, like chili (eat with cornbread, over rice, on a potato, with avocado on top, etc.) because otherwise I will get sick of eating it and then the next thing i know it’s freezer burnt and gross.

    Also, I don’t do a lot of disposable stuff, but having some throw-away aluminum pans to freeze things in can be such a relief – goes straight in the oven, no dishes to wash, and you aren’t missing your pan while it’s in the freezer. For stuff I take to work I use glass jars since they can go in the microwave.

    Overall, I think people who write those freezer cookbooks think too hard about what is “freezable”. Most everything is freezable. Hell, you can freeze a gallon of milk! It helps me to make sure I’m putting away stuff I really like to eat, and not just stuff that will save me from starvation.

  3. azvlr*

    My son is 18 and in danger of not graduating high school. My mom is taking us on a cruise in March (about 12 family members altogether). What are your thoughts on asking my mom to cancel his ticket? I’d love to hear what the community has to say.

    For context, he’s an otherwise good kid – he’s not into drugs or alcohol. I know this because he does online school. He rarely logs on, and never goes anywhere. He has a few online friends, but no real direction to his life. The only reason he is still living at home is because he’s technically still in school. I have told him come summer, he will have to move out if he doesn’t graduate. Advice, please! Thanks.

    1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Are you asking if you should prevent him from going because he’s not doing well in school? If so, I don’t think I’d do that. It’s impossible to know without knowing more, but it sounds possible that he’s depressed – or just in a rut or feeling burnt out? Sometimes getting out for an adventure and shaking things up a bit can really help – both to give you more energy, and also to make you feel excited about what the future might hold.

      1. Myrin*

        I’d also advise against what sounds like forcing him to move out as punishment for not graduating. If he doesn’t manage to graduate, that will be enough stress on its own without the added anxiety about having to find a new place to live, organising the need for money that comes with it, etc. (I’m saying this under the impression that he doesn’t want to move out himself – if it is his wish to do so and he maybe even has a plan how to go about it already, my advice would be different of course.)

        1. Anx*

          I agree.

          I lived at home for quite a while while unemployed. It only made me more motivated to job search knowing I had some support. Plus, it’s so much easier than trying to get a toe-hold when you’re desperately trying to find work. I was applying to many sorts of jobs; nothing was beneath me (but I wouldn’t apply for things I knew I would be bad at, like truck driving). If I hadn’t been trying to find work at all I could understand my family kicking me out.

          Could you perhaps make sure he is working toward specific, attainable goals where you can mark his progress and effort instead of adding the extra stress? If you want him to graduate so much, I would imagine you’d want him to focus on his schooling and not his living situation and survival.

        2. Jazzy Red*

          When I was high school age, most parents had a three-part rule for their kids upon graduation (or leaving) high school:

          1. Get a job.
          2. Go to college.
          3. Enlist in the armed forces.

          A few chose #4 – enter a seminary/convent.

          I got my first permanent, full time job less than 2 weeks after graduation. I lived with my parents for a few years, then got a place of my own. By that time, no one I knew was being supported by their parents.

          It’s a good idea to make kids’ options known to them by the time they hit senior year.

          1. Puddin*

            I would tend to agree…musta been raised in a similar era. :)

            Before canceling altogether form a plan with him on how he can go. What do you expect of him? What does he expect of himself?

            Set a SMART goal – Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Reasonable, Time-bound.

            I would do the same for his living situation. If he wants to continue to live with you he must do 1-3 SMART goals.

            My nephew came to live with us at the age of 21. He was a really lost young adult and barely graduated HS himself. Heading down some dark paths, crappy friends, menial part jobs hopping…that sort of thing. Once he agreed to move in, we set some ground rules for everyone, typed up a roommate agreement (thank you Sheldon), and set the goals. He has done an awesome job with it. And while he still stumbles, it is easier to re-focus because the goals are there and we reinforce them as much as we can.

            I agree that he and you/the family could probably use some counseling too. (Who couldn’t right?)

            I hope the best for you all!

        3. INTP*

          Yeah. And frankly, it’s really tough for an 18 year old to find a legit job to support even one person on, so he might wind up in much worse trouble than just not graduating high school. (Credit cards, illicit activities that pay more than minimum wage, etc.)

          I think it would be better to say that if he wants to live with you, he’ll be under close supervision and must get a job and study for his GED. I think you want to increase your influence on him and family influence in general right now, not shun him, which will only decrease the likelihood of him finishing.

          1. Alma*

            A “coaching” relationship (rather than “counseling”) may be something he is willing to engage… learning these self-parenting skills that some of us just don’t catch on to.

    2. Wanderer*

      Are you sure that online school are the best choice for him?

      Because i know i would probably have done nothing at that age if i had not been pushed by some of my professors. Nor my passion for the work i do today would have been ignited without several discussion with one very interesting teacher.

      Same for friends, most of my friends today (i am 31) are the same i met in high school.

      Now perhaps i have a bias because i have always doubted online school…and perhaps your child HAS to be schooled that way.

      (Sorry if some errors are present in my text, english is not my first language).

      1. azvlr*

        If I had to make the choice over again, I would not have agreed to let him do online school. But, now that we are in it, not easy to switch back. The way they schedule classes is different than a regular school, so nothing matches up schedule-wise.

        He got really sick his sophomore year, got very behind, then started ditching school. I thought maybe online school would be better.

        1. Anna*

          Does he know what he’d like to do after high school? I ask because that might help him make it over the hump of completing his diploma. It might help if he could see it as a means to an end. The thing about cancelling his ticket is, are you going to stay home with him? If that hasn’t worked so far, what would be different this time? As a punishment for not graduating after the cruise, it’s not very effective. That might backfire and he’d just say “oh well, then it doesn’t matter”. It’s all about the pay off AFTER completing.

    3. Emily*

      Is it a long cruise? I can’t tell if you’re thinking about canceling his ticket because you’re worried he’ll get further behind in school, or because you want him to feel the consequences of his actions.

      My gut tells me not to cancel his ticket (especially if it’s for the latter reason – he’ll probably figure things out soon enough if he fails to graduate and has to move out of your house), but I’m not a parent and hope not to become a parent for a while.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Have you asked him what he wants out of life? He may have had dreams and goals but the illness and being told it was all in his head (been there, it’s not fun), falling behind his classmates, he may not see that there’s a way to catch up/get back on track. You might ask at a local high school there might be someone in the guidance department who can help, aside from technical trades, he may need a tutor or summer school. There may be groups of home-schooled kids he can join. There is a way to get back on track, someone just has to help with the roadmap for that. He’s been through a lot these past few years and having someone to talk to who is a neutral third party might help him. There may be things he’s afraid to tell you for how you’ll react. As an example, when I was in high school, I was deeply depressed but at the time, I didn’t know what that was. At one point, I was considering asking my father if I could go and live with him (he did not live close by), because my mother and I just did not get along for a variety of reasons, mainly to do with her not seeing that I was an actual person, not just an extension of herself. I, too, was a “good” kid, I didn’t smoke, drink, do drugs. Like your son, I didn’t have any friends and I didn’t go anywhere, mainly because my mother wouldn’t allow me to learn to drive and these were the days before the internet, so I had no choice but to go to school. In the end, I realised that my mother would flip her crap in an epic fashion if I told her that I wanted to go away like that so I didn’t do it. I focused on going away to college instead, which was something she would approve of. I never breathed one word of how I was feeling or what I thought and, to be honest, my mother wasn’t interested in hearing any of it. Looking back, I wish she had been capable of some degree of empathy, seen that I was so unhappy and could have sent me to see a therapist. Of course, being a teenager, I would have resisted it but I can see how I could have used someone to talk to, it would have helped a lot.

        2. Tara*

          [For the sake of full disclosure, I’m 17 and have some problems with my parents + authority, so this might not be the most unbiased advice you get.]

          The way I see it, an event like this has a good chance of shaking your son out of his rut. He’s gotten into the habit of laying around feeling unmotivated– often being around people, away from the house, will give new inspiration (especially if he’s feeling depressed). Not to mention, this cruise isn’t something you’re paying for– so it feels less like ‘your’ consequence to give. My instinct is that this is just going to make him resentful. You don’t want him to see graduating as something Mom is forcing him to do; it should be a goal that he’s working towards. He is 18 after all! I’ve never really seen this type of consequence work for unmotivated kids; I think you’d have much better luck having a frank, non-accusing converstaion about what he’s intending to do and how he’s going to work towards it. Work out an actionable plan– “I’m going to do at least fifteen minutes of work on X, Y, and Z even if I don’t feel like it, every day” and let those ideas come from him. Don’t make this into a fight where he’s defensive and focused on getting you off his back, but a problem you’re helping him find a solution to. Suggest that maybe he could try going to the library or a coffee shop to work on his schoolwork– removing “home with my laptop, where I play games + talk to my friends” from “someplace where I have my laptop to do work” can be helpful.

          Obviously I don’t know your son, but this is something that would work for me (I think).

          1. azvlr*

            Thanks, Tara. I really appreciate your perspective, especially the part about him graduating be my choice, not his. I always considered graduating from high school as a thing everyone just did. You have really caused me to think about it in a different way. You may be only 17, but you sound very wise!

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              I agree. Our tween daughter knows that we have expectations, but that if she can explain that she has an alternative goal/direction and why she chose it, we will listen to her and take her preferences very seriously.

              So maybe ask him what his plan is, make him work through whether he wants to graduate and what he wants after that, and that might help make it his choice to graduate, like Tara said. But rather than asking him whether he wants to graduate, which will put him on the defensive, ask him what he does want to do, and work back from there how he can get there. Eventually he may decide he needs to graduate to achieve his goals, or he may make clear why he doesn’t prioritize schoolwork, at which point you’ll at least know where the problem lies and whether it’s a realistic alternative to graduating. (I know, I can’t really think of one either, but it’s important to hear him out without judgment.)

          2. Lillie Lane*

            “The way I see it, an event like this has a good chance of shaking your son out of his rut. He’s gotten into the habit of laying around feeling unmotivated– often being around people, away from the house, will give new inspiration (especially if he’s feeling depressed). ”

            I agree with Tara here (and I’m double her age!). When I was in college, my grades were slipping rapidly. On winter break, I went on a trip to the Caribbean with my mother, had an epiphany while there, and completely turned my study habits and motivation around the next semester. Not saying that this will necessarily happen for your son, azvlr, but it’s definitely possible.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I am triple her age and I agree, also. Well said, Tara!
              I remember 18 like it was yesterday. (oh. It wasn’t yesterday???) My parents could not force me to do anything. But if they sat and talked to me as if they were talking to a fellow adult who having concerns about life just like they have then they got my undivided attention.

    4. Regular Going Anon for Anonymity*

      I think it’s a great idea. How badly does he want to go? Will this threat get him to work? If he’s home alone while everyone else is on the cruise, will he actually work?

      A question, though, online school? Is it an online school or are you home schooling? My mom is an educational consultant for parents home schooling their kids. The curriculum is online and so many parents don’t make their kids do school work except when they visit the educational consultant for a few hours a day for five days week (at max). One parent actually says that she can’t make her 12 year old do anything including his schoolwork. Then she shouldn’t be home schooling her kid!

      I know your child is 18 so there’s a different dynamic, but do you have a role in making him do the work or is it a true online school?

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      Why isn’t he in school with other people?

      I would suggest to you that if you all go away and leave him to his own devices — good kid and all — it’s not going to be an incentive to him to work harder or magically get some life goals while you’re gone, it might even have the opposite effect of further ingraining whatever self-defeating message(s) that currently runs through his brain. I agree with Ashley, he sounds deeply depressed. Whether that’s because he’s super intelligent and finds his schoolwork boring, has suffered some trauma he can’t get past or some other reason, only he knows (or perhaps doesn’t know and needs help to find out). While a cruise would be a nice change of pace for him and a great gift from his grandma, IMO he could benefit from a good therapist to help him work out his issues, which his parents could help him with.

      1. xxj*

        She had mentioned the reason somewhere upthread:

        “If I had to make the choice over again, I would not have agreed to let him do online school. But, now that we are in it, not easy to switch back. The way they schedule classes is different than a regular school, so nothing matches up schedule-wise.

        He got really sick his sophomore year, got very behind, then started ditching school. I thought maybe online school would be better.”

      1. Ineloquent*

        Agreed. My dad used to pull crap like this on all of us. It never worked, and we hated him for it. We’ve got a decent relationship now, but it took years, and I still don’t let him get too involved with my life. I became a good student once I realized what being a bad one had cost me. Make him get a job and start saving for something – college, a trip to another country, a car – and help him understand that his apathy towards school has real and significant monetary consequence down the road. Also, it might help him to get out of the house and socialize, even just with coworkers.

      2. Hlyssande*

        My cousin’s parents threatened to make the schools hold her back every year (starting from 2nd or so), even though the school wouldn’t logically do that as she was doing perfectly fine grade-wise. It severely damaged her self-esteem and she will never have a healthy relationship with her parents (this is only a small part of the picture for them).

        That kind of sword over a kid’s head is more of a power trip and will probably damage the relationship between these two more than it’s already damaged.

        Azvlr, how hands-on are you here? I think you may need to get a lot more involved regarding homework, communication, and consequences. Homework not done? No internet, no TV until it’s done. Does he have any regular chores?

        Honestly, the lack of regimented schedule may be making this a lot harder for him. Having a solid schedule in place is a very good thing. When I was unemployed and had no reason to get up and get dressed, it was very easy to fall into a deep, deep depression. Have you set something like that with him? Get up, school/homework for X hours a day starting at Y time in the morning? No excuses, no privileges until it’s done?

    6. Guy Incognito*

      It sounds like I was pretty similar to your son at that age.

      I was never academic, and left school at 16 with a very basic set of exam results made all the more mediocre by my older sibling’s stellar results and first class degree from Oxford.

      If studying and college isn’t for him, is there a skill or a trade that might get him interested, has he got plans for after he’s due to graduate? Something to focus on and work towards might help with his motivation. I did a vocational courses and found that much better than academic options.

      Is your son keen to go on the cruise? If so you might be able to use that to encourage him to study, by telling him it will be cancelled unless he does a certain amount of studying.

      1. azvlr*

        The hard part for me about all this is that I was just like him at this age: No direction, no initiative. The only difference is that I did not want to be at home. Anyway, I turned out ok, so I’m not sure this is even a big deal. The advice that stands out the most is that he may be depressed. A divorce five years ago, getting sick when he was 15, throbbing headaches and ringing ears that doctors told him was his imagination (it was wisdom teeth).

        I didn’t have great insurance, but now I do. I will pursue this again.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You might be on to something with the ears. I have had a lot of problems with my ears and I can tell you first hand, life stops. It is very hard to function, getting in a car and going some where was an ordeal. To others, my behavior was strange at best.

          The other time I have seen someone just stop, it was thyroid. And she had a child- nothing would make her move about. Once she got treatment life became normal again.

          If he does have an ongoing health issue, he may not even care about the cruise. When I was in the thick of it with my ears, I would have said “Have a nice time. See ya when you get back.” Not a flippant response- it was all I could muster. Going on a cruise with those ears would have been unthinkable. I got on a plane before I was diagnosed and I thought my head was going to explode. I never said one word to anyone.

        2. Formerly Bee*

          I might be projecting my own issues here (somewhat similar experiences to your son), but this would explain a lack of motivation. It’s taken a long time to recover but I do have normal motivation, discipline, etc. with better mental health. I saw this happen with my friends in high school and college, too. Therapy can make a massive difference.

        3. Anna*

          I am such a dork. Have you heard of Job Corps? If he’s not particularly motivated right now and not really clear on what he wants to do, it might be a good place to start. A lot of young adults go in without a sense of direction and come out with a HS diploma or GED and training in a trade. It’s free and he’d live on center (probably) and there is a lot of support available. *cheesy grin*

          1. Relosa*

            There is also a job corps like program for EMT/Paramedic training, I want to say it’s in the at area. Very cool, very powerful program.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Vocational/trade- this times a hundred. My husband, my father and others close to me were all people who should have just gone to learn a trade. They were brilliant people, not doubt about it, but their gifts and their natural genius was in using their hands to work on things. This was something that came from inside- they got satisfaction from working with their hands and they got little to no satisfaction from book learning.

        1. Alma*

          Most community colleges have vocational testing available – and someone skilled in helping people find their direction to work with him in putting the pieces together.

    7. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I understand the impulse to not reward his failures and make him feel some consequences for them, but if he doesn’t have a diploma and no prospects for a job, kicking him out of the house could have serious ramifications for him beyond not having a high school diploma. Are there realistic goals he could works towards that would allow you to let him continue living with you? Getting a job and paying some rent perhaps? Making progress towards a GED through a community college?

      Eventually, you’re right, the rubber has to meet the road and he has to function as an adult, but if the hole he’s in is deep enough the 5 months between now & summer might not be enough time to get out of it – cruise or not.

    8. fposte*

      I think it’s fine to cut off privileges when goals aren’t met, but I don’t see the cruise as a privilege being granted to your son–it’s a family activity. Whether he graduates or not, he’s part of the family.

      I know it’s too late to go back, but I’m also wondering what consequences he’s been getting for rarely logging in to the online school. If it’s just been getting reprimanded, it’s a heck of a steep dropoff to being kicked out of a family get-together.

      Also, you’ve talked about the stick–not getting to on the trip, getting kicked out. Is there any carrot? What does he get if he does graduate?

    9. azvlr*

      Some great advice that I have not even considered. I have some specific things I can try with him thanks to all of you. I hope to be able to give you all a positive update in a few months.

    10. matcha123*

      I think you really need to sit down with him and talk seriously about this issue.
      I was never in danger of not graduating from high school, but I had a lot of fights with my mom at that time because my grades were not up to her standards.

      If he’s taking classes online AND you are trusting him to do his assignments without checking in on him, you or someone else may have to start checking to make sure the work is being done.

      If he cannot clearly explain why he’s not getting things done, then you guys are going to have to really look into your options. Whether or not to take away the vacation, I guess that depends on whether you’d trust him alone at home.

      Honestly, not wanting to go to school was never an option in my family. No matter how sick I felt. If I was him, I’d probably say that I don’t care. But, I think you really have to make it clear to him that you are not going to live forever and if something happens to you, he needs a way to make a living.

    11. voluptuousfire*

      Kicking him out I don’t think is the best thing for him, especially if he’s not working and has no money saved up.

      Considering it’s January, the winter may not help with feeling down and unmotivated. Sunshine and warm weather with the cruise may make him snap out of it.

    12. LAMM*

      I was a “good kid” for the most part. If I had to attend an online school, I absolutely would not have graduated. I barely made it through the last semester of high school as is, but I did because I knew it would be dumb not to.

      My brother is going through something similar at the moment. He has a lot of online friends, but no real direction “in real life”. In my situation, I think he’s just lost. He honestly doesn’t know what to do/how to get started. Plus there’s some family drama so his online life is his escape.

      Is there someone he can talk to, even if it’s not a therapist? A relative or family friend he can relate to and respects? Someone he can have a heart to heart with to help him figure out what HE wants out of life and get him set on the right path?

    13. soitgoes*

      I don’t think it would be the best move to kick your son out while he’s unemployed and lacking the means (ie a high school diploma) to acquire any sort of gainful employment.

      That said, I think you can discipline him however you want, but that does not extend to restricting gifts from other people. Your mother giving your son a cruise ticket has nothing to do with your impression of him as a student.

    14. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Maybe the part to focus on is less the cruise (I agree with others that separating from a family trip is the wrong thing to do right now; you want him to feel part of the family and all the obligations that come with that), and more that he’s never logging on to his online school. I know when I was that age, I probably would have done the same thing, but I also know that my mom would have been on me daily in a really annoying way to ensure that I did. It sucks that you have to do that, but you probably do. I think a few months or a year of really hands-on supervision might be what you need to do here.

    15. Mindy*

      Give him options or required results and options that he has to come up with. I agree that the cruise is a non-issue and shouldn’t be related to school work, just because you want to use it as a weapon. It won’t work. It isn’t even your gift. Maybe he doesn’t care about graduating, there are worse things than a GED. Tell him by X date you must either have finished school, have your GED, have a job, whatever. How about volunteer work? It would get him out of the house and help him see what life can be like for others. Maybe the military would be a good choice for him. Tell him that laying around the house doing nothing, watching tv or playing video games is not an option. By X date whatever is agreed upon has to happen or he had better have a plan to move out. Then stick with it. It is called tough love. The goals need to be his, not yours. “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer. Many kids have no clue about budgeting. Review the household budget with him, maybe have him responsible for making sure bills get paid. Just a few ideas.

    16. Observer*

      You’ve gotten some really good advice. I know I’m going to overlap on a good deal of it, and I apologize. It’s just that I don’t think I can be clear without doing that.

      Your son sounds like there is something more going on, or he just needs to do some growing up. Cancelling the trip won’t help in either case. And, threatening to push him out the door is not likely to help either. Actually pushing him out the door at this point could be a disastrous proposition, and is almost certainly not going to be the route to him getting it together or finding any sort of direction. The threats are not likely to motivate him, either, which leaves you in an even worse place should he not graduate.

      Some things I think would be helpful.

      1. A full health evaluation needs to be your first and foremost step. Many health issues mimic the symptoms of clinical and sub-clinical depression. So, if he has ANY of these issues, nothing else is going to be terribly useful unless you deal with them.
      1b Do what you can to make sure he gets significant, regular exercise. For most conditions, it can be very helpful, and for the rest it can’t hurt, as long as you make sure he’s doing something appropriate. eg If your kid has issues with his ears or sinuses, stuff requiring a lot of balance is not a good idea. So, talk to him about what he LIKES and his doctor about what would be physically appropriate.

      2. A serious mental health check up. He could be depressed, or he could be dealing with other issues. In any case, dealing with those issues, if they exist, is going to be key to getting him moving. This might also uncover some undiagnosed learning disabilities that are contributing to some his problems.

      3. A thorough educational evaluation – you can probably still get this done via the school system, because he’s under 18. They may not offer you any help no matter what gets discovered, but if YOU know that he has some specific deficits, whether of “hard” / “academic” skills or “soft” skills or functions, or that he has undiagnosed learning disabilities, that gives you the ability to find some solutions or work arounds.

      4. Think back to when you were his age, and think about what was keeping you back, and what got you to turn it around. See if any of that is relevant here.

      5. Find out what HE has to say about the matter. Have some real conversations about what he wants, how expects to get there, what the likely real consequences to him of his current path are, why he’s not logging in / doing his school work, why he doesn’t get out of the house, etc. Don’t *tell* him ANYTHING at first. At some point, it needs to become an exchange, but even then you need to be careful to not be judgmental nor to dictate to him (easier said than done!) But, (gently and clearly) telling him what you are able and willing to do for him, correcting misinformation, and discussing options are all things that can be useful to him.

      Last thought – where is his father in all of this? I realize that you got divorced for a reason. But, if your ex can be an ally here, it would be a good thing. If he can’t be, that’s a problem in itself, and may be part of the underlying issue.

      Lots of luck!

      1. Jean*

        +1 to all the other comments that going on the family trip might help your son to press his reset button.

        Re #3 “A thorough educational evaluation – you can probably still get this done via the school system” The IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) Federal law guarantees all children FAPE (a free and appropriate public education). Some school districts are fully compliant with this, but others drag their feet or otherwise avoid identifying and supporting students with special education needs. If learning disabilities seem to be on the horizon, you can learn about effectively working within the system in general–and your own public school district in particular–by networking with other special ed parents. Sometimes you can find these people through the PTA/PTSA, especially if individual school or district-wide PTAs have a special ed committee. Other times you can find these people via the local chapters of organizations serving parents of kids on the autism spectrum, or with learning disabilities, or depression, etc. Some organizations have online listservs so you can network without having to leave home.

        In my state (Maryland) a kid can stay in high school until age 21 as long as he/she has not yet met all the requirements for getting a diploma. If this is possible in your state, it might help your son to have another year in school.

        Thinking beyond high school (whether your son ends up with a diploma or a GED): Some community colleges have offices to support students with disabilities. Ask.

        A diagnosis of anything other than “plain old normal” (in the autism community, we use “neurotypical” to describe people like this :-) ) can be a shock to the person and his/her family, but people with atypical wiring (that’s my terminology) can and do contribute positively to society. Okay, that’s enough speechifying for one day. I’m a special needs mom (if this isn’t already obvious!). Good luck to you and your son.

        1. Observer*

          A diagnosis of anything other than “plain old normal” (in the autism community, we use “neurotypical” to describe people like this :-) ) can be a shock to the person and his/her family, but people with atypical wiring (that’s my terminology) can and do contribute positively to society.

          This is a really important point. The key is to figure out what is going on so you can remediate.

    17. Kyrielle*

      Others have given far better advice than I can re your son, but also consider that pulling him out of the cruise might damage your mother’s pleasure also – she may be looking forward to being “one big happy family” on the cruise and she might be looking forward to seeing him. (Besides, who knows? Maybe she or another relative on the cruise will say something that really reaches him!)

      1. The Maple Teacup*

        Don’t cancel the trip. Consequences should be logical, and clearly linked to the action that precipitated them. I don’t see canceling the tip as being in that category. Logical consequences for not doing well in school would be something like failing to graduate. The way I see it, your son has enough consequences on the line without adding to them.

  4. Jen RO*

    Recommendations of board games that can be played with more than 6 people? There don’t seem to be too many around! So fat I’ve only played Dixit (I’m not a huge fan), Camel Up (which is cool) and Jungle Speed (penalty not the best game to play after a hard day at work…).

    1. Emily*

      I’m a fan of Ricochet Robots, which takes an unlimited number of players. Since it involves fast thinking and problem-solving, though, it may or may not be a good game for you to play after work. (Seriously, I don’t mind it, but I’ve played it with at least one person who complained about not being too tired to think clearly about the game.)

      One thing you might try with Dixit (feel free to disregard if you’re not interested) is changing the way you give the clues. I once played Dixit with someone who had a lot of good ideas for that, like playing a musical excerpt (anything from classical to hip-hop!) as the clue, or acting out a clue to your card.

    2. Sherm*

      I haven’t played it myself yet, but I’ve heard positive things about The Great Dalmuti (8 people max). It’s actually a card game instead of a board game, but since people who like board games often enjoy card games, I thought I’d suggest it :)

    3. Alistair*

      Unfortnately, many board games top out at four or five people. I don’t get many chances to play with that many people, but I have a few ideas.

      Light game – Bohnanza. It can play up to seven. Fun game of planting and harvesting and selling beans. Many chances to trade with other players, good fun.

      Medium – Carcassone. Now classic tile laying game, can be considered part puzzle, even. Lay tiles, place your dudes on them, score points. Unfortunately, you need to buy the Inns and Cathedrals expansion to have enough dudes to play six people. But that’s OK, that expansion adds great materials. Look for the Big Box version.

      Heavy – Shadows Over Camelot. Plays up to seven. You play the Knights of the Round Table, trying to save Camelot from destruction by questing for Excalibur and the Grail. The game is cooperative, meaning you all play against the game. Tough, can be rules heavy, winning is difficult. Has the option for one player to be a traitor, which ups the difficulty.

      1. Ineloquent*

        For the somewhat insane, Arkham Horror. So much fun if you can take the time to buckle down and learn the rules.

        Ladies and Gentlemen – haven’t played it yet but I got it for Christmas, so it may very we’ll be awesome.

    4. Aussie Teacher*

      I love board games!

      Apples to Apples – the original, clean version of Cards Against Humanity. Scales to as many players as you like, people can join in or leave without affecting the game and you can stop at any point and declare a winner. We often play it as an icebreaker at the start of games nights with 15+ people.

      7 Wonders – this game is excellent and up to 7 players. The two expansions (Leaders and Cities) allow for 8 players. You collect cards to build your empire but the best part is everyone has a hand and selects one card at the same time, then passes the hand on, so you don’t all sit there waiting for each person to have a turn. Highly recommended.

      Lots of word games like Taboo, Articulate, Dixit etc can be played in teams or with more than 6 players.

      Someone mentioned Carcassonne upthread – that’s good too.

    5. Takver*

      Didn’t see anybody say Bezzerwizzer! Fun, quick trivia game. Much more fun than trivial pursuit I think. Up to four teams can play and you can have as many people as you want on your team.

      My family is super into Bang! an Italian spaghetti-western type of game. This one is not nearly so quick and has a learning curve. Basic version plays 7 people, deluxe version can take 8. Players receive different secret objectives at the beginning of the game and part of play is figuring out the objectives that everyone else has.

    6. Elsajeni*

      My friend recently got a game called The Last Banquet that takes at LEAST 6 people, and up to 25. I haven’t gotten to play it yet, but it sounds like it’s sort of a cross between a board game and a roleplaying game — everyone takes on the role of some character at a royal banquet, from the king down to the servants, and you get a card with your character’s abilities, which mostly involve moving yourself or others around the table — and there are scenarios involving rival assassins, kidnapped princesses, ghosts haunting the castle, and so on.

    7. Alistair*

      So I went down to my game shelves to look for anything else. Slim pickings; most of my collection tops out at four players, with a few five player games. I have a ton of two player games, as my wife is my primary opponent. Here’s some other ideas:

      Boom-o! Small silly card game where everyone is playing time cards to get a time bomb to blow up in someone’s face, hopefully not their own. Can play 6.

      Hex! Hex! Larger silly card game, wherein you’re all wizards out for an ale Friday night, and you toss silly spells (hexes) at each other, then deflect them around the table so they blow up in someone’s face, hopefully not your own. A big box version actually comes with consequence cards if you lose, which are silly things like, you can’t laugh, you must use opposite hands to move cards, you must shout silly exclamations everytime you play a card. Very good fun. It only has point-scoring material for five, but if you just play for laughs, you can go as big as you want.

      Race for the Galaxy plays four, and expansions one and two both add materials for an additional player, for a total of six players. Excellent strategy card game in which each player is trying to build the best galactic empire, whether by trade, exploration, or conquering. HOWEVER, it has an extremely sharp learning curve. The game runs on icons, which are like learning a new language. It’s also very deep and thinky, and has minimal direct interaction. RftG has often been described as ‘group solitaire’, in that each player worries only about what their own empire is doing. I don’t buy that, as reading what the other players are building towards, and how you can stop them or piggyback on them is an important part of the game.

      Anyway, quite an essay. Good luck finding games to play!

    8. Suz*

      Cranium is fantastic! You have 2-4 teams and each team has 2+ players so you can get quite a few people playing at once. It has elements of pictionary, charades, trivia, word games and more.
      They have made a few iterations as well as expansions so if you end up liking it, there are options once you’ve gone through all the cards (although that takes a while.

      Balderdash is good with many people- it’s a creative/word game- always leads to giggles and incredulity!

      Quelf is kinda funny and weird- essentially tasks of randomness packed into a board game- and can have up to 8 people. I guess it’s a bit similar to Cranium, but much wackier and without teams.

      My friends like Saboteur although I never really got into that. I’ve only played it with 3 people, but I seem to remember it can have many players.
      Munchkin is fun, but probably hits it limit at 6 people.

      Good luck– try browsing boardgamegeek– you can actually do a search by number of players so that might be useful :)

    9. LAMM*

      Settlers of Catan has some expansion packs so it can be played with 6+ people. However, that game is NOT cheap… and I didn’t even look into the cost of the expansion packs. It’s lots of fun though.

      1. Liane*

        Also, while the basic Cataan is pretty simple* even 1 expansion (except for the one that just adds pieces for additional players) adds a lot of complexity.

        *It’s suggested ages are 10+ but my kids learned it easily when they were younger

        1. Jen RO*

          Are you guys sure you can play Catan with more than 6 people? That’s one of our go-to games, but my question actually came from the fact that last Saturday we had 7 people and we *couldn’t* play Catan… We have Catan (base game – 4 people), plus extension (6 people), plus Knights and Cities (extension to base game – 4 people), plus *its* extension (K & C 6 people).

    10. Blue_eyes*

      Second vote for Cranium – you actually need at least 6 people to really play it. I also really like The Great Dalmuti. It’s actually a card game with a special deck but you need at least 5 people and up to 1o (I think).

    11. AdAgencyChick*

      A to Z — you get only 4 boards per set but people can easily play in teams. It’s a bit like Scattergories in reverse (instead of naming words in multiple categories that start with the same letter, each turn you get one category and you try to name as many words that start with different letters in that category), but it’s all done shouting out loud, which makes for good party-game fun.

      Celebrity: Get a Clue — this is an app that turns your phone into a pass-around gadget for the game of Celebrity, which you may have played before with names scribbled on paper scraps. You try to get your teammates to guess as many famous people’s and fictional characters’ names as possible, first through clues and then through charades. People either loooove this game (I do, I think it’s a riot!) or they really, really hate it (usually the ones who don’t like any kind of trivia game), so know your crowd.

      Set — a visual perception card game, number of players is limited only by how many people you can fit around your table.

    12. Jen RO*

      Wow, lots of suggestions, thanks so much! I will check which ones are available here! (I love Taboo but it’s not translated, and it’s difficult to translate every word before you play…)

    13. littlemoose*

      We really like Telestrations, which is kind of a mash-up of Pictionary and the game of telephone. Everybody has a little notebook with dry-erase pages, and everyone picks a card to see what their secret word is. They draw the word, and pass it to the next person who has to guess what the picture is, and that goes around the group with alternating drawing and guessing until the notebooks return to their original owner. It gets pretty funny, and the more people you have the more ridiculous it gets. The basic box has notebooks for 8 people but I believe they sell a big box with 12.

    14. Puddin*

      Talisman! The more the merrier and there are tons of expansions to vary the gameplay. Get the fourth edition…word of warning some of the game pieces are a pain in the butt to pick up and manipulate, they are a funny conical shape and slippery.

    15. Polaris*

      Yeah, most of the larger board games I can think of top out at 6 players. When our gaming group has more than 6 people, we usually split up and play 2 or 3 separate games because 7 people is moving into party game territory. Eclipse is fun. The base game plays 6, but you can have up to 9 players with the expansion. Arkham Horror was already mentioned, but Eldritch Horror and Elder Sign (two games in the same universe) will play up to 8. If you’re looking for a simpler game, Tsuro works. The Resistance is a card game, but it will play up to 10.

      I second the recommendation to browse the Board Game Geek website.

    16. Jake*

      That’s tough.

      Munchkin plays as many as you want, but all it takes is one person taking it too seriously to ruin it.

      Carcassonne could work, but at that many players you’d need expansions, which can complicate the rules significantly.

      Honestly, a party game like apples to apples or cards against humanity are probably your best bet.

      Catchphrase and name 5 work with teams, so they are good choices for word games.

      Unfortunately, the best games top out at 4, 5 or 6

      1. Jake*

        Oops forgot about Bang!

        I’m not really a fan (it is incredibly poorly balanced), but it is an option as I’ve played it with 8 before.

        I also believe Sabatour plays that many people, and it was very very simple yet fun with 4.

    17. Is This Legal*

      Games Against Humanity is good
      But I personally recommend poker, it’s very intriguing once you get a hang of it and can accommodate as many people

    18. Rachdb*

      I may be late to the party, but I wanted to chime in. There are many great games for more than six people. Alibi, which I liken to an amped up version of Clue plays up to 10 people, but is good with 6 – 8. Alistair mentioned Bang!, but my husband and I really like Bang! The Dice Game for larger groups. There’s also a print and play game called Two Rooms and a Boom which is plays 6 – 30 people and has the possibility for lots of variation. I would also echo recommendations for 7 Wonders, The Resistance, Tsuro.

  5. Stephanie*

    Ok, two separate posts, so indulge me here.

    Uh, how does everyone hand wash things? I have items that are hand wash only and I usually just throw one item at a time with some detergent, swish it around for some time, wash it out, and it’s clean-ish. But I feel there has to be a better method, especially for agitating.

    1. Myrin*

      I don’t have many things I hand wash but those that I do, I always rub against themselves. Like, if it’s a shirt, rub the front and the back together a bit so as to create some very mild washboard effect. I have no idea if that helps any but it makes me feel more accomplished.

      1. Nina*

        I do the same. Any kind of “scrubbing” mechanism seems like it cleans the garment better than just letting it soak. But afterwards, I do let it soak for a little while, then rinse it several times. Then I hang it on my drying rack. So far, it works fine.

    2. Lore*

      I desperately want to know the answer to this! I will say that certain things that are technically hand-wash only, I will wash in a mesh lingerie bag on a cold cycle in the washer, and I haven’t killed anything yet. But this does not work for things that are not very color-fast, which leaves me with a decent amount of hand wash still to do. I generally soak for a few minutes before swishing, then rinse twice, wringing in between. But there still has to be a better way to achieve clean.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Not sure why you are not happy with the results. Maybe use a scented soap? Or maybe your water is a little hard and you could throw something in the basin to balance it?

        Agitators in washing machines can do more harm than good. They can cause our clothes to wear out faster and in some instances do damage to parts of the garment. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around this but apparently agitators are worse than the violent spin cycle.
        From what I have read the front loaders actually get clothes cleaner than top loaders and no agitator.

    3. The IT Manager*

      My washer has a most brilliant thing called a hand-wash cycle. It is something of a lie because despite gentle agitation is still does the spin cycle which isn’t gentle, but I haven’t hand washed anything by hand in years in large part because I am super lazy. However when I did it, I did it like you described. Lots of rinsing under the sink to get all the soap out afterwards.

      Last time I recall actually hand washing clothes , I was in Iraq during the early days of Americans being there. Epic fail for the blouse and trousers which were too thick for successful hand washing and then rinsing.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Delicate cycle! Mine does the spin cycle, but it won’t let you set it beyond a certain amount, the choices are “Low” or “Off”. Clothes come out still damp. I put bras in a washing bag so they don’t get caught/stretched out. I don’t think I’ve handwashed anything, ever.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I have 4 cycles

          -hand wash (extra slow/slow)
          – delicate (slow/slow)
          – normal (slow/fast)
          – heavy duty (fast/fast)

          The existence of a hand wash right next to delicate is what gives me the idea that it is really okay for hand wash clothes. I haven’t had any problems yet, but I honestly don’t have clothes that seem delicate despite the hand wash instructions.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I think your doing it. Some things I may let soak for 5-10 minutes while I do something else. Really, the only reason it should take any length of time is if you are working on a stain. I do like to make sure I thoroughly rinse something out and get all the soap out of it, though. Sometimes I spend longer rinsing than I do washing.

      If my items aren’t very dirty, I will keep reusing the same wash water. (Same idea as hand-washing dishes- change the water when it looks lousy.) It saves on soap.

      What’s up with “clean-ish”? Do they look and smell clean?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          In a small sink, it is hard to tell if all the soap is in the sink or if there is still soap in the garment. I end up standing there rinsing and rinsing….
          Sometimes, I take thicker/heavier stuff and rinse it in the bathtub so the water falls free of the garment. I stop, let the tub empty and rinse again. That way I can see if I got all the soap. If the rinse water looks clear or near clear you probably got it.

          I tend to thing that the longest part of washing is rinsing and positioning the garment to dry. Some things need to be laid out on a towel or hung just so on hangers. ugh. But yeah, the actual time swishing in the sudsy water is not that long.

          I am almost wondering if you would feel better by changing soaps. Wait. Are you using machine detergent to hand wash?

          1. Stephanie*

            Yes, I am. The super concentrated stuff, too (that’s what we have for the machine). I think that might be part of the problem.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Yep. That is the problem. I tried using machine detergent initially and I might as well have washed my clothes in vaseline. The stuff was so thick it felt like it stuck to each fiber in the garment. And this was back in the day when there was a lot more water in detergent than there is now. It’s a lot of work to rinse that out, too.

              Yeah, check out some soaps meant for hand washing- you will notice right away they pour out differently- they are thinner. And it will be easier to rinse. I use to use Woolite and got great results. When I switched to organic or more natural cleaners I started using other things.

              When you change over it might take a couple washings before you see a big improvement- but it will be better.

            2. Elizabeth West*

              Woolite. I use nothing else for hand washing. I even took some to the UK with me in a little bottle, and it was handy when I had to rinse out some t-shirts in Cardiff. It was so warm I ended up sweating up all my shirts and wasn’t able to just hang them up.

            3. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I use dishwashing liquid. It’s really mild and it gets nice and sudsy and you usually have it around the house.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Grinning. That is where I ended up, using my natural dish soap on my clothes. It’s mild. And why have a bizillion products in the house- that just overhead costs or operating expense. I have plenty of that, I do not need more.

    5. Anonyby*

      I’ve recently switched to a product called “Soak” (there’s a similar one called “Eucalan”). You just put some of it in the water and let it mix/foam up, add the hand wash items, let them soak for 15 minutes, and then take them out and squeeze out the excess water (or let the spin cycle on the washer do that for you). Hang dry, and ta-da! Done! No agitation, no rinsing. I originally found these from marketing aimed at knitters/crocheters, as a way of washing animal fibers without risking them fulling & shrinking.

        1. Anonyby*

          I have the scentless one, since I’m drifting away from using scented products on my clothes. I don’t know how it cleans when there’s no rinsing or agitation, but it sure does! Some of the delicate items I have can get smelly, but they come out completely clean with it!

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It really depends on the garment. For bras, I used to throw a bunch of them in the sink with some dish soap, fill it up, let it soak (often way too long, because I would forget them). Then I would squeeze and swish them all around, rinse each one under running water and hang in the bathtub.

      Sweaters are harder. For those, one at a time, soak for a while (10 minutes or so) in the sink with soap, drain the sink, run the water, swish and squeeze under the water. I, like you, never felt I could get anything truly clean, especially when long doggy hairs got woven into the fabric.

      Now that I have my own washer, I put anything that says “hand wash” in the washer on the delicate cycle, no question. I use lingerie bags if I think I should, usually for bras and for some sweaters.

    7. Rebecca*

      My washer has a handwash cycle, so for things that seem sturdy enough, I use that. Otherwise, I use a plastic 5 gallon bucket, like the ones bulk drywall compound comes in, that type of thing. I just put the thing in the bucket with some cold water and detergent, slosh it around, and then take it out and rinse it the next day. I always hang to dry.

    8. Short and Stout*

      You need a posser! Essentially a long stick with a cone on the end with holes in. Allows for easy and gentle agitation.

      I just inherited my Grandma’s — copper with a wooden handle — but my Mum has one she bought from Lakeland.

      1. Stephanie*

        I went to the Frederick Douglass house in DC last weekend and saw his posser on display. I saw that like “I need one of those!”

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ooh, I’ll have to make a note to go there if I get back to DC one of these days. We read his book in my African-American Lit class in grad school and I thought he was really cool.

      2. Mander*

        Ooh, nifty gadget! I might get one myself. We don’t have a washing machine in our temporary second home and it gets really old dragging stuff up and down a long hill to the laundrette. Swishing stuff around by hand gets old, too.

    9. fposte*

      I don’t any more. I hated it passionately–it took forever, and I never felt I got the suds out, even with Woolite. I don’t even have a front-loading washer, but my stuff’s been okay on a brief delicate cycle in mesh bags in my top-loader. (The washing machine is built like a tank, so I’m not going to spend a thousand bucks to replace it for something less durable just because.)

      1. skyline*

        This! Delicate cycle + mesh bags. All my hand wash items used to linger unwashed in laundry bags for weeks until I finally threw in the towel on this. Now I actually get to wear them regularly.

    10. soitgoes*

      You can get little mesh bags at Target for $2. Sometimes they’re called “delicates bags” or something. Some ~luxury clothes brands sell them for around $40, and I’m sure VS has their own $20 version, but no point in not just going to Target. You put the hand-wash clothes in there and wash them in the machine with the rest of your clothes.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I use the delicate cycle and low spin with mesh washing bags for my cashmere and silk blouses. I find this is better for making sure the clothes are rinsed enough and drained of excess water. And I bought a big box of Marseille soap flakes which make everything smell really nice and fresh.

    11. Blue_eyes*

      I use a bar of soap when I hand wash. There are bars of soap for laundry (Like Fells-Naptha) but I often just use Dove bar soap. If there is a stain I will wet the item then put the stained part on the counter and scrub it with the bar – that way you get soap plus some good pressure. If there’s not a stain I will just get my hands soapy and rub them over the item paying special attention to the armpits or anywhere else that gets especially dirty/smelly. Then I rinse under running water until all the soap is out and wring gently with my hands.

      1. Mephyle*

        Yes, this. Bar laundry soap is also the best option for travel: it packs more neatly and more compactly than powdered laundry soap.

    12. Elysian*

      I have a couple items (like silks) that I’ll hand wash that I want really clean, and I do them in a bucket with a screw on lid. I put some laundry soap and water in it, screw on the lid, and shake the heck out of it (over the tub because the lid isn’t watertight). Then I empty the jug of all its gross water, fill it with clean water, screw on the lid, and shake it up again. That usually gets out all (or enough of) the soap. Then wring them out as best I can and hang them up to dry. I think they make things that do the shaking part for you if you have a lot of hand-wash stuff. I’ll try to find a link to one…

    13. HR Manager*

      I hate handp-washing things with a passion, so I try to avoid that type of material.

      All hand-washed items get a long soak in detergent and warm water (or hot if it’s a heavy stain and won’t run). After a good soaking overnight, I will agitate with hands – take two ends and rub around the soiled areas so that there is a scrubbing effect. I don’t do this with delicate items; I just gently squeeze and swish with those.

      For heavier items, I do the part agitation, part swishing with wringing where I can. I hate sweaters that need to be hand-washed. I’d rather bring them to a dry-cleaner and pay the extra dough.

  6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    Any ideas for DIY cat entertainment? One of my kitties is a little chubby, and I think he’s bored with the toys we’ve got. He’s active when I play with him (loves to chase anything that is thrown, but wears out after 3 minutes), but I’d also like ideas for things that would keep him more active when there’s nobody to play with him. He’s young – not even two yet.

    (We’re working on weight loss diet-wise with the vet – this is a new one for me – always had fit kitties. Part of of the issue is that he will eat almost anything that’s unattended – half a loaf of whole wheat bread, a mango, apple slices, bite off of the stick of butter, etc. so until we figured this out he was eating a lot of stuff we weren’t giving him)

    1. Trixe*

      Like a cat feeder toy? They have to work to get the treat/food so they’re’ engaged and active. Something they could chase would be even better, I see a $6 PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser on amazon.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Oooo. that’s a good idea. He is obviously very motivated by food! It’s weird, because our other cat (much older than him) is like an Olympic-level athlete and very slim. So it’s been hard to restrict his food without restricting hers.

    2. ExceptionToTheRule*

      One of mine is on a diet too. We’ll hide toys under rugs when he’s in a semi-playful mood to encourage him to play on his own, but it’s a mouse on a stick that’s his favorite, so somebody has to play with him for 15 or 20 minutes a day.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          He’s fond of little mice with long tails. We’ll put them under a rug with the tail sticking out. He knows where they are because we “hide” them in front of him. It’s an attempt to divert him from playing with a chase toy to playing on his own.

          Also, anything with catnip on it is an inducement to play on his own.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            I like that! I’ll try it tonight. Unfortunately at my house, we can’t provide catnip unless we’re there to supervise because the cats have terrible drunken brawls. It’s not pretty.

            1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

              This is cracking me up. I’m imagining living in the kitty equivalent of The Double Deuce before Patrick Swayze took over in Roadhouse.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I’ll bet now that you know about the extra food kitty has been pilfering that will help, but here are some ideas that have worked for me: do you have a cat tree? I got one at Armarkat.com for more than 60% off what you see at pet stores. For about $120 bucks I got a 6 foot tree with many different levels. I’ve had it for 5 years now and while there’s cat hair on it and the sisal columns are frayed from the scratching, it’s still in really good shape (and I have 3 cats). While it’s not a “toy” necessarily, it does involve climbing and stretching and good stuff like that (and there are smaller and cheaper options).

      I didn’t think my cats would like the star chaser (ball stuck in a loop that goes round and round and round) but every so often they really get into it. Milk rings get some play. Or just any toy that rolls around, if you’re willing to leave them on the floor (carpetless, if possible). I also read something about alleviating boredom by switching up where you leave the toys every so often. And rotating toys. I know there’s a laser toy that moves around and you can set it on a timer for however many minutes, but I don’t know if there’s one that could be activated throughout the day–like through an app. I think that would be awesome and is probably not far off it it doesn’t exist yet. But you could always set it up for 20 minutes of play as you’re leaving the house or something and maybe kitty would at least use it then (though my cats grew out of giving a fig about lasers).

      And one last idea–not that I do this a lot, but we had a guest stay on the couch and I was too lazy to take the blanket back up where it belongs so I made a cat fort on the couch and it’s been a such a hit I’ve left it there for a while (I like to justify my laziness).

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I bought my cats a cat tree and they tend to use it in cycles. They won’t touch it for months and then it’ll be “rediscovered” and one of them will start napping on the top of it. I’ve been lucky so far that they haven’t gotten chubby. I was considering getting them one of these http://www.amazon.com/Moody-Pet-MOP-001-Fling-Ama-String/dp/B00IRJ7NL0 at one point, I don’t know anyone who has one/if it’s any good.

          But the one thing I would suggest you try if you get a cat tree is liquid catnip. My cats love it. They even have this weird cry they make when they see me holding the bottle they love it so much. It’s very useful stuff for making old toys interesting again, I used it to train them on a sisal scratcher. Get the stuff in the little brown bottle, Petsmart sold something in a larger bottle and it might as well have been water for all the attention they paid to it.

          Of course, if you’ve got money, you could always get a Catwheel http://www.catswall.com/catwheel.html of some type https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zsq-8DUTYHg

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          That’s good to know – I don’t have a Costco, but I travel to a city with one sometimes. And rotating, I had forgotten how helpful that is. We put everything in a bucket for him, and he gets all the toys out during the night, and then we put them back.

          FORT! I love it!

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Regarding cat forts: we drape a blanket over a chair and the cats fight over who gets to hide in it.

    4. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      If you have an iPad, there are some apps just for cats (if you google ipad games for cats you’ll get some lists) and even some non-cat apps like pocket pond will get our cat to play. We just put the iPad on the floor and let her have at it. It’s gentle exercise and anti-boredom — lots of watching, swatting, some pouncing and butt-wiggling. She will keep at it for about a half hour, but if we just leave it on she will come back to it periodically. She is VERY curious and active so we tend to use it more as a distraction to keep her out of our hair than for cat fitness.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        That is hilarious. We sometimes watch cat videos on youtube together (me and the cat), but i had no idea there were apps for swatting!

    5. skyline*

      A few thoughts from a crazy cat lady:
      1. Cat trees are a great way to enrich your cats’ environment. I got one from Mountain Cat Trees on etsy because I couldn’t stand the look of the carpeted ones.
      2. My cat love the turbo scratcher cat toy from Bergan–it’s been a favorite for 4 years and counting. They seem to find it especially interesting when I put it in new spots. If your cats like it, it can inspire a lot of playful pouncing.
      3. Rotate his toys in and out of circulation — he’s less likely to get bored of them that way.
      4. Do you have a Da Bird? Best cat toy ever. It’s not something he can play with independently, but it’s a great way to bond with your cat and I find it holds a cat’s interest a lot longer than tossing a ball. You can swap out the attachments for variety, too.
      5. Find out what makes toys appealing to him. For example, I figured out that my cats love balls that make a rattling or jingling noise. Any time I bring a new one home it results in epic games of kitty soccer. I pick up the cats’ toys once a day and toss them back in a basket. It’s pretty funny to see them digging around in the basket trying to find their favorite rattling ball again.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        He seems to like things that fly through the air, which is part of the challenge with him playing alone. He could go outside (via cat door) but chooses not to, except if I’m with him – so he gets a lot more exercise during gardening season! I had tried hanging toys on strings up so that he could bat the around, but he keeps trying to eat the strings that came attached to the top, and nearly choked. I guess he’s better off eating a loaf of bread that a cord.

        1. skyline*

          I guess he’s better off eating a loaf of bread than a cord.
          True–says the person who spent a small fortune on an endoscopy for one of her cats last year because said cat had secretly been finding and eating various string-like items. (Like shoelaces. Except I wasn’t missing any shoelaces. Where did my indoor only cat find it?!)

        2. Kyrielle*

          Hmmm. If there are counters/tables he is allowed on, perhaps put some of his lightweight toys up there before you leave for the day? If he purely likes jumping up, that won’t help, but if he likes the things soaring through the air, it might encourage him to bat them off and chase them for a bit before he realizes they don’t go back up on their own.

        3. Sara smile*

          Has your vet considered if your cat has pica, since he eats a lot of things a cat would normally not eat?

          1. HR Manager*

            Pica is only when you eat something that is actually non-edible (ie., soil, hair, etc.) Poor kitty reminds me of one of our cats who would eat or take a bite out of everything that was left out. My sister once left allergy pills on the counter, and the cat had to bite through each foil backing (not the pills thankfully – just the packaging – punctured every one). My sister had to get child-proof locks for the cabinets because of the cat.

            My cat loves the ‘bird’ , though that is not self-propelled. Requires human, but the cats go nuts for it. There are those laser light machines that will randomly shine lasers in different directions that some cats love. Wonder if that might help?

  7. Stephanie*

    Ok, second post.

    I’ve mentioned before I work nights in a warehouse setting. Not FT, but I’m there long enough that I end up eating dinner at work.

    I need ideas for dinners to bring in. There is a microwave…somewhere. Maybe. Unsure. I’ve been doing a lot of bean and grain salads, but need new ideas.


    I’d need it to be:
    (1) Good cold (or at least still edible if it cools off).
    (2) Semi-hearty (as I find I burn off food quickly otherwise).
    (3) Nothing too fussy (as I often eat at my desk).

    1. the gold digger*

      I make huge batches of beans every few weeks and freeze them. Beans by themselves will fill me up; beans plus a broiled chicken breast are also excellent. Boring as heck, especially if you have it every single day, but keeps me from getting hungry after lunch.

      Hard-boiled eggs keep me going for a while, too. (As long as I have not left them unrefrigerated for 48 hours, although it could have been the radish greens.)

      I also keep a jar of peanut butter at my desk for emergencies. PB plus an apple or a banana can sustain me.

      1. Glor*

        I agree with the PB and apples! Those are really filling for me, and I find that the tarter ones work really well with the peanut butter. Also, you can cut slices off an apple with the thicker plastic knives from takeout — Subway’s are particularly good.

        Also good: apples and cheese [insulated lunch sack with an ice pack!], apples and chocolate, peanut butter and chocolate… um, let’s see. Nuts and fruit work really well together, and are generally easy to tote and clean up from. I can’t eat grains so it might be easier to get things like breakfast bars or protein bars or whatnot, but I don’t know anything about what’s on the market right now.

        1. Relosa*

          My favorite snack ever are raw almonds, dried cranberries, and fresh blueberries. Tastes amazing with coffee.

    2. Trixe*

      Barefoot Contessa has a chicken tabbouleh salad recipe I love. New favorite grains of mine include Israeli couscous, bulgur, anything with higher protein for energy. You might also play around with make your own salad dressings for variety that way. Almond butter with really dense german sunflower seed bread (aldi’s) or apple, baby bel cheeses/nuts, hummus/veggies.

    3. just laura*

      How about some sandwiches, like egg/tuna/chicken salad? Cold pizza? Big deli-style sandwiches? Antipasti or bento style meals– lots of little things to keep it interesting. I’ll even eat cold lasagna but maybe that’s just me. :)

      1. Stephanie*

        I made this delicious curried chicken salad a couple of weeks ago and kept bringing it in. And then I got sick of it. And then I brought it in another night (still). I shuddered at the thought of eating another chicken salad sandwich and ended up tossing the last third. It was good and did keep me full. I just probably should have frozen it (or something).

        1. fposte*

          The key is to freeze a bunch of it *before* you get sick of it–the day you make it or a day later. Once you’re sick of it, you’re not going to want to be involved with it enough to container it and freeze it.

          Once you get on a roll of freezing stuff, you get enough variety to choose from that you’re not as likely to get sick of an individual thing, too.

    4. Lore*

      This is one of my go-to recipes–and I actually think they’re better at room temperature (out of a picnic basket) than fresh out of the oven. Easy, filling, and delicious. http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/7031-baked-mustard-herb-chicken-legs

      This is also super-delicious, if you want something vegetarian. It’s meant to be used as a taco filling, but could easily go on flatbread or a wrap if that’s easier to pack than tortillas you can’t warm. I did it without the corn because I forgot to buy corn, and it was delicious: http://www.cookingclassy.com/2013/09/honey-lime-sweet-potato-black-bean-and-corn-tacos/

        1. Lore*

          They are unbelievably good. I had a dinner party with 2 vegetarian and 6 carnivorous guests…and these were so much better than the chicken that the vegetarians had to fight for them.

      1. Stephanie*

        Possibly. I need to find a better recipe than what my mom had me eat as a kid. It was a hunk of mystery red meat with ketchup on it (I sort of hate ketchup). But I would be willing to try *better* meatloaf cold.

        1. BRR*

          I use the classic meatloaf recipe from simplyrecipes. I use all beef or sometimes ground turkey and it tastes great until it’s gone. If you hate ketchup it may not be great thought.

        2. anonima in tejas*

          Cooks County or America’s Test Kitchen has a good recipe that doesn’t use ketchup, except for the glaze (and you could use bbq sauce or A1 or another steak sauce).

        3. Hlyssande*

          Do you like BBQ sauce? That might work well instead of ketchup. OR! Slice of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and gravy as a sauce on a sandwich. Yum.

          My mom bakes her meatloaf with a layer of ketchup on top, which sounds gross but is delicious…if you like ketchup.

    5. skyline*

      You might look up bento box lunch recipes. They were traditionally made to be eaten at room temperature and to be safe for a reasonable amount of time without refrigeration. Just Bento and Lunch in a Box were my favorite sites when I made bento lunches regularly back in grad school.

      1. HR Manager*

        This is primarily because the bentos are made the morning of and are not refrigerated at school/work. If the OP is going to stick them in the fridge, OP will need to do a little warming up first.

    6. Brian_A*

      Would you consider getting a thermos? It would allow you to take a lot more warm foods. My partner works outdoors year-round, and the thermos is so good for a warm meal when there’s no microwave available – soups, chilli, even re-heated leftovers all work really well. We’ve found that it keeps food hottest if you pre-heat it with boiling water while the rest of the food is being heated.

    7. A Dispatcher*

      I eat a lot of chicken salads. Curried, “waldorf” style (throwing in grapes, apples, dried cranberries, or whatever sounds good) or an actual salad with a lettuce base with chicken or some other protein (tuna, eggs, falafel) as a topping. Buffalo style, cobb, Asian, Mediterranean (with things like feta, tomatoes cucumber and tomato), apples and walnuts, basically whatever sounds good and is in the fridge. Just make sure you have a separate container for dressings so your greens don’t wilt and you’re good to go. I also find pasta salads with chicken to be pretty hearty, especially if you use a whole grain pasta as the base.

      One of my staples for emergencies is something I call egg cups, but I’ve heard them referred to in many different ways. They’re pretty much mini frittatas. Basically you mix up an egg base and add in whatever (I’ve done all sorts of combos of cheese, bacon, ham, sausage, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, quinoa, spinach etc etc) and then put it into mini muffin tins and bake. They are very portable, store very well in the freezer and can be eaten cold, room temp or heated up.

      1. Stephanie*

        Your egg cups sound like when I made a Spanish tortilla and took it for a couple of nights. That was literally a case of “Er, I have eggs, potato chips, and some sad veggies…ok, let’s throw all that into a skillet.”

        How long do you usually bake them?

        1. A Dispatcher*

          350 F for about 15 minutes, but my oven runs a bit hot, so it may be more like 15-20 mins in a normal oven. This is the blog post I got the idea from:


          I really think the quinoa adds some nice bulk to them, but I know not everyone is into that, and they do work just fine with a mostly egg base. I’ve also thrown in leftover hashbrowns/home fries and that’s delish too.

      2. Mander*

        I sometimes make a similar thing but I put it in a regular baking dish and cut it into squares. I’ve done all kinds of ingredients — spinach and feta, sardines in tomato sauce (no really!), kale, ham, onions, green beans, peppers, cheddar and broccoli, sausage, bacon, whatever.

        I just sort of bake it until the middle is set. Not very specific, I know, but I never have an actual recipe.

    8. LAMM*

      If I’m not sure about the fridge/microwave situation I bring in a stir-fry on top of some rice. Fairly quick and easy to throw together, you can bulk it up with plenty of veggies, and it tends to do well having sat out for a few hours. Plus you can mix up the veggies and sauce so it’s not the exact same thing every day.

    9. Schmitt*

      Pasta salads! I have one that is good either hot or cold, and it definitely has staying power. I just throw it together so don’t have exact amounts.

      * Feta cheese, diced
      * Green or black olives, halved or sliced
      * Dried tomatoes, chopped (I get ones that are pre-packed in oil, if you get dried in a bag you might have to soak them overnight or… honestly, I don’t know how they work.)
      * Black pepper, basil, oregano and a touch of rosemary
      * To dress, enough olive oil just to coat and help spread the spices evenly.

      This is really great with mini penne pasta if you can find it but I’ve used macaroni or spiral noodles.

    10. Lamb*

      A quesadilla is a good hot/cold/in between option. I usually buy the biggest flour tortillas I can find(I think the size is called burrito), put down a layer of cheese on one tortilla, then I add whatever else I want, top it with another tortilla, and either microwave it or cook it in a pan. For my filling I do a hand full of frozen corn with a squirt of line juice and cooked wholebeans or dabs of refried beans if I’ve got them, and I leave enough cheese exposed so the whole thing sticks together.

    11. Phyllis*

      Crockpot makes a lunch-size slow cooker that warms/rewarms food (not enough power to cook) that might help you mix things up a bit. Would allow you to take soups & stews, or other warm foods. They’re pretty well-reviewed on Amazon.

      1. chump with a degree*

        And the 99 CentStore has plastic food storage containers that are just the right size. I make and freeze soup then reheat for two hours in my bity crock pot. Yum!

    12. Girasol*

      I’m not sure if they make hot food thermoses anymore but I used to have a wide-mouth with a plastic liner that was good for packing hot casserole, stew, spaghetti, enchiladas, or whatever was left over. You might look around for one if you’re as much a fan of a hot meal as I am and can’t find that microwave. The same sorts of things heat well in a glass jar in a microwave (if you can find yours) but the folks where I work often microwave ready-meals (lean cuisine, tv dinners, and such) that are storebought.

    13. Kyrielle*

      *grins* This is silly, but – check out all the sites for how to change up kids’ lunchbox meals. They have some very inventive items, and like you, the kiddos don’t have access to a microwave. Of course, you’d need larger portions, but I’ve been having really good luck.

      Also, consider a soup-bowl thermos or two (which besides soups, or better yet stews, can also hold pasta dishes, casserole, etc.), which will keep things nice and hot. The best ones I’ve found, the base (not the lid) is microwaveable, but if you use one that isn’t, priming it with hot (not boiling) water will keep the food warm longer. (Fill to brim with hot-hot tap water, put lid on, give it 5-10 minutes, remove lid, empty, wipe dry if you care, insert actual food.)

    14. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      How do you feel about shrimp? My local Whole Foods sells cooked cold tailgate shrimp with various seasonings and I’ve been stuffing them in pita bread with either lettuce and cucumber or tabbouleh. You could make your own or buy cooked plain and put your dressing of choice on them. I find shrimp really filling and eight in a pita sandwich will keep me up for a while. My pita eating technique involves keeping them in a waxed paper sleeve (napkin in a pinch) so my desk stays clean.

  8. Kristina L*

    I usually use a pseudonym, but this time I’m using my own name. I’ve been working on building my own little web site that is designed to help kids learn.

    I have a lot of plans about what else to add to the site, but I really want some input on what I’ve got already (what works, what doesn’t work, what could be improved). The comments on this site are so helpful and friendly that I feel more comfortable asking here about this.

    Anyway, my site is: http://dontmakemelearn.com/

    Thanks for any suggestions/advice!

    1. acmx*

      I like the site so far! I think it could do with some graphics. Also, maybe incorporate science experiments. It might be easier to navigate if the sections listed on the home page are either link/tabs at the top or listed as a drop down menu under the Home link.
      Good luck!

      1. Kristina L*

        Thanks acmx,

        Do you think I should put graphics on the menu pages? They do look pretty plain.

        I don’t know a lot about science, but I can look things up.

        Thanks for the navigation advice.

        1. acmx*

          Maybe on the home page, put the individual topics in squares or with icons. If you look at pottermore.com, she has some graphics. Or maybe use a background image. Just something to add a little more dimension.

          Science isn’t necessary, it just popped into my head as something fun. (I have no kids so I’m no expert)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I like this, too. And the kid version of me would have liked it. Things that I thought of it looks like you have in the works.

      The only thing I did not understand, and it’s probably me, how do I get the pictures to print out big? it looks like when it prints out it will be small- like 2 x3 maybe? I have encountered this with stuff before so I am thinking it’s me. (Yeah, I checked to see how it would print. It’s okay to laugh.)

      1. Kristina L*

        Thanks, Not So NewReader,

        Usually if you click on a picture it will show up full size. Are you asking about the mystery math pictures or about other pictures?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Okay, I went back and looked just so I can accurately say what I am seeing on this end. Yes, mystery math, number pictures. I clicked on the picture and yes, it does get larger on the screen. But when it prints out is is barely 2 x 3 inches. Yeah, I actually printed it out here.

          Keep in mind that I may be doing something wrong on this end. I have had this problem with other sites, where the site owner gave permission to print stuff and use it. So I would try and have the same results I am having here. I am not sure what’s up here.

    3. azvlr*

      I agree with others that it needs more graphics. Additional thoughts: When I first went to the site, it wasn’t clear to me that this was a kids site. The blue theme and the font both say “a site where adults go to do business.” Some bright colors and a cheerful font would work wonders.

      You may also consider adding/changing your tagline to be somewhat of a challenge to kids who visit: Don’t Make Me Learn – I bet you can’t! (not quite right, but something along those lines). Your content looks really fun!

      I recently took a class called “Creating and Marketing Mobile Apps.” One question that my professor would always ask is, “How are you going to make money from the site?” You have the space in your layout for ads. I just don’t know how getting appropriate ads onto a kids educational website works. Since it looks like you have content that folks would want to download or print, you could also do a subscription-type service. Just be sure to offer enough content for free that people see the value and will be motivated to pay for more.

      I’m going to bookmark and check in with your page from time to time to see how things are progressing!

      1. azvlr*

        P.S. If you update your contact info on the site, I would love to connect with you in case you have questions about building content. I have a few questions for you as well.

        1. Kristina L*

          Thanks! I’ve put my e-mail on this posting, so that may help.

          Thanks for the suggestion about a more kid friendly font.

          Right now everything on the site is free. I’d like to put ads on it, but I don’t want any pop ups, and I want everything to be family friendly, and the ads that google does don’t seem to have options related to that. For now, I figure I can create a site, make it as good as I can, and if enough people visit, it will be easier to get people to want to pay to put ads on.

          Also, I’ve written (but not gotten published) a few kids’ books. I was thinking about self publishing and selling those from my site. I do plan to make it very clear when anything isn’t free. I like the idea of selling a subscription.

  9. Not So NewReader*

    Just general- I have to make sure every meal at work has protein or I will not make it. haha! I like at least 4 ounces, in order for it to stay with me.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I was staying at a friend’s last weekend and she was like “I have bagels and coffee.” “Er, you have schmear or peanut butter? I’ll buy some, because straight bread and coffee will have me crashing in an hour.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh, my yes! An hour later, I would be ready for breakfast all over again. I wish I was not this way. but it is.

        2. Mander*

          Ah, yes. I don’t understand how people can survive on breakfast with no protein. When I was working in Spain everyone thought I was nuts for ordering ham and cheese for breakfast, because most people just eat pastry or bread there. But I was getting up at 6 and going out to spend all day hiking up and down mountains… a slice of bread with some tomato on it was not going to cut it!

        3. INTP*

          I am so anal about my breakfast protein that when I am a houseguest, I request to tag along to the grocery store the first chance I get and purchase my own little stash of greek yogurt, fruit, and granola to keep in their fridge. That’s what I eat for breakfast every day. I’ll eat pancakes or something once a week when I don’t have to move the rest of the morning, but otherwise I really need my regular breakfast. Even eggs don’t really work for me. It takes like 4 eggs to match the protein in a generous bowl of greek yogurt and I start gagging if I eat too many.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, I can’t do straight pancakes or waffles. I just ended up feeling bloated and sort of full (and hungry like an hour later).

            1. INTP*

              Even when I have pancakes on a lazy sunday morning and don’t plan to do much afterward, I eat some eggs or yogurt with them. The sugar makes me sleepy but then I get hungry so quickly.

        4. Hlyssande*

          Wow, that’s a really sad breakfast.

          I’d go one further than just cream cheese, because my cousin just turned me on to the amazingness that is cream cheese + good jam. Right now I’m putting it on toasted english muffin bread, but I imagine it would also be heavenly on plain bagels.

          Now I have to try that.

  10. Anon name of shame*

    After thinking about Hildi’s interesting interview and the discussions about task oriented people and relationship oriented people, I realized something. I want other people to be relationship oriented but I myself can tend towards task oriented and I do feel like it is an effort to do the relationshippy stuff before getting to the point. Does that make me a self-serving jerk?? For instance, when I have to ask someone for something, I always do the “How are you/I hope you’re well/what great weather we had this weekend” stuff, but I can feel myself rushing through it so I can just ask “can you upload that file to the thing because I need I make a link to it?” On the other hand, I really, despite some BS protestations I would normally put on, want people to like me SO MUCH and I feel terrible when someone else doesn’t engage in the chitchat. So… I guess I really am a ROP or I am just insecure.

    Tl;dr: Has anyone else had any uncomfortable self-examination this week because of these TOP/ROP discussions?

    1. the gold digger*

      It is an effort to do the relationship part for some people, but it can be essential to getting the job done. Look at it as engaging in non-optional social conventions: It is just how things are done.

      Maybe the people who aren’t doing it for you are not as enlightened. :)

    2. Rebecca*

      Oh, I am so task oriented it’s scary. I took a good look at myself, and I realize why I seem abrupt and unfriendly. To me work is work, socializing is socializing, and I have a hard time going through the niceties before we get to the task at hand. I can really identify with Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. I’m going to try to make an effort to at least smile and not seem so impatient.

    3. Mimmy*

      Yup! It was really helpful when hildi and other commenters said that TO and RO occurs on a continuum, and that people can be oriented both ways depending on the given situation.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        It really helped me when C Average talked about My Tasks and My People. I’m big-time ROP, so at the back of my mind, I do the tasks I’m doing people. As in, focusing on the person I’m doing it for gets me through the task, especially I’m not otherwise motivated to do it. But I do have some tasks that are My Tasks, which I can invest in just for the sake of them without having to use the doing-it-for-so-and-so prop to get through. If I have to do a not-My Task for a not-My Person, I do a good job on the task by doing it “for” someone who is My Person, such as my boss, or (another category that I have) My Cause. My Cause can be “always help the person in front of me” or just buying into to a stated ideal of my employer (and, yes, unless I’m desperate, I have to work at places where I can feasibly align my ideals with theirs).

        1. Mimmy*

          That’s pretty much how I am–whenever I work on a task/project, I consider the “audience”; i.e. who will this effect?

          1. QualityControlFreak*

            Interesting. As a TOP, I focus on outcomes. At a top level, I’m truly grateful that what I do helps other people improve their lives. But I don’t have a relationship with those people. We interact, and I’m focused on them as customers, but that focus is related to the task at hand; making sure my organization is meeting their needs.

            That usually works great with external customers. Coworkers are a little different. I coordinate the efforts of both TOPs and ROPs and it’s been interesting. For me, dealing with other TOPs is as easy as a quick one-on-one standing in the middle of the office; going over what needs to be done that day, distributing the workload and that’s it. Go!

            Interacting with ROPs is more challenging for me. I may like you just fine, but I still don’t need to hear the personal details. There are times I really want to say, “Can we just get this done, please? I have other stuff to do.” (Which I just realized kinda does make me sound like a jerk. I’ve never actually said this, of course.) I try to remember that different people have different communication styles, so it’s helpful to talk to them in their native tongue, as fposte observed in the other thread. It’s more efficient.

    4. catsAreCool*

      If it’s a work-related thing, I usually just want people to get to the point when they’re asking for something.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Tl;dr: Has anyone else had any uncomfortable self-examination this week because of these TOP/ROP discussions?

      Yes, and I stopped because I realized I’m not as nice as I thought I was. #verybadthoughts >:{

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I realized that I may hand had some overblown internal reactions (dismissing them as too crass and overbearing to be tolerated, nearly actually hating them) to some people at work, when I think now that maybe they are just task oriented and not actually out to purposely offend me in particular. I think I have some people to extend some olive branches to.

    6. Shell*

      I’m a TOP (maybe not extreme, though; I used to be more extreme) and I definitely do the small-talk thing with intention…but I don’t feel like it’s manipulative. It took me a longer time to learn the social cues and niceties that makes the world run smoother, and frankly I treat it like a bullet off a checklist, like something I have to do at work, just like I have to make sure the numbers on the Teapot Report match at the end of the month.

      I don’t chat up every time I have a question or request, but I make a point to remember something offhand they mention and I’ll ask them about it sometime. I do it with intention because if left to my own devices it doesn’t really occur to me as a thing to do with coworkers (friends are different). But I’ve learned that something like this, even if it’s not done every time I need to ask something (every time seems a little too obviously checklist-like, and is probably annoying both sides), really helps the social thing a lot.

      I mean, if doing these actions with intent (as opposed to naturally) means one is manipulative, I guess I’d have to own that label. But I think going light on the chitchat–so, not every time you talk, but sparing-to-moderate–is a pretty decent middle ground. And if the person becomes a friend eventually, I naturally like asking them about their lives more anyway.

      1. Shell*

        In other words, I treat some of the social niceties as another task on my checklist. Framing it that way made it easier for my brain, especially since I can noticeably see the improvements from doing it. It appeals to the efficiency-driven part of my brain, so it feels less like “wasting time chatting” and more “actively doing thing X that measurably improves office relations”.

          1. hildi*

            Yes, I’ve read every comment both up and down this thread and it’s fantastic. I’m overwhelmed with all the responses and it’s making my brain hurt trying to process all of the feedback and personal insight people are having. This is the kind of stuff I don’t get to experience in my classes because of the nature of the class, but it’s so gratifying to see that it’s information that stuck with people and opened eyes. It’s definitely opened mine!

        1. fposte*

          And I was just thinking about this some more today, and I realize that similarly, it’s easier for me to build relationships with people who clearly get tasks done; that makes me friendlier than talking about my weekend. And I actually like talking about my weekend, but I give a lot more emotional points to turning the paperwork around quickly. Meeting deadlines is my love language :-).

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I find this across the board, barriers break down when people see me consistently hitting deadlines. Also picky bosses leave me alone and go find someone else. Hitting deadlines causes bonding???? :)

          2. Shell*

            Amen. It’s a lot harder for me to do the niceties thing with people when I’m internally growling about them screwing up the teapot materials analysis that I had to redo for them. The level of friendliness I can manage is heavily dependent on whether they can get their stuff done first :P

          3. skyline*

            Yes! I like the vast majority of my coworkers, but the ones I most appreciate are those who don’t make me chase them down for things. And that’s true both up and down the org chart.

          4. Revanche*

            Meeting deadlines is my love language :-).

            YES. hah, the more task oriented someone is the more I like them even if I have no clue about what they’re like as a person.

    7. INTP*

      I’m a major TOP. If someone doesn’t respond to the social niceties, it annoys me a little – like “I’ve been going through these motions all my life just to get ahead, why do you get to skip them?” But it’s only annoyance that they’re getting away with not doing something I thought was obligatory. I don’t feel hurt that they don’t like me or anything. Maybe it helps that I dislike a lot of people for reasons of no fault of their own, lol. There are a lot of people that I think are great people and I’m okay to have as a coworker but their personalities are just annoying or draining to me.

      What I’m having trouble with is that I want to see each preference as equally valid but I really can’t wrap my head around people who, when doing a task, are more focused on people than the task. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if relationships are formed at work as long as the tasks get done. I feel resentful that I have to engage in the relationship-forming crap with some people just to motivate them to do their tasks and I feel like these people need to grow up and get their emotional needs met outside of work. I know on a rational level that I’m wrong, but that’s where my gut feeling is at right now.

      1. AnonAcademic*

        “I really can’t wrap my head around people who, when doing a task, are more focused on people than the task. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if relationships are formed at work as long as the tasks get done.”

        I’m a TOP by nature with some ROP skills I’ve acquired. What I’ve realized about relationship building is that it is the foundation of networking. The people I have gotten closer to in work environments (sometimes in 95% task oriented situations like working under a deadline together) are the ones who’ve been willing to go to bat for me career wise. Whether it’s acting as a reference, recommending me for a collaborative project, etc. The emotional memories people have of you last way longer than the specific memory of how XYZ project turned out. So it’s really about the long game…that said:

        “people need to grow up and get their emotional needs met outside of work”

        This is also true and I think Hildi acknowledged that ROPs often need to work on being less sensitive.

        1. INTP*

          Yeah, I understand the benefits to me of relationship building…but to me, that’s still just using the relationship building tool to motivate people to do something I want them to do. It’s just that I’m trying to motivate them to help me personally rather than help the company/team by doing their work. At the end of the day, the benefit would be the same if people would make introductions and referrals for people they didn’t know or like at all – they just usually don’t so the relationship building becomes the tool.

    8. Ann O'Nemity*

      Uncomfortable self-examination? Yep, totally been doing that.

      I even posted in the thread about my discomfort with the whole idea, especially the suggestion that TOPs need to change their external behavior to make ROPs happy. My natural inclination is that in work settings, we’re there to actually work and all that touchy-feely sensitivity is just an unnecessary time-suck. But then I read through the discussion and the comments of ROPs, which just made me worry that all those ROPs basically thought I was an insensitive, unfeeling, robotic asshole for being so task-oriented. (Of course no one actually said that – that’s all my own insecurities coming out.) I still haven’t figured this whole thing out and determined how to make it work for me without feeling uncomfortable.

  11. Windchime*

    I posted last week about my ex choosing to come to the same tiny island as me on the same week. Apparently he had a job interview here. Fortunately, he leaves today so I managed to avoid bumping into him. There was one close call; we had drinks and appetizers on the deck of a seaside restaurant and his wife posted 2 hours later that they had had dinner at a restaurant just up the block. Other than that, no Ex sighting so I’m happy.

    I’ll still be bummed if he gets a job here, though.

    1. Cristina in England*

      Phew, glad you didn’t bump into each other! I tend to really stress about these things if I know it is a possibility. I hope you still managed to have a good time!

    2. Ann O'Nemity*

      Yeah, I can’t even imagine the awkwardness.

      My aunt, uncle, and cousins ended up going to Hawaii at the same time my husband and I were honeymooning there. So weird. But thankfully, we never ran into each other. (I actually like them all, but I didn’t want to hang out with anyone except hubby during our honeymoon!)

  12. Trixe*

    Attention streamer/free shipping fans, $72 Amazon Prime special price for today only. And I think current members can renew at lower price.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      And Transparent is streaming for free! We got to episode 7 before we had to quit so we could get ready to go out. And now I’m posting on AAM instead of heading out, but I’m dressed and made up and bejeweled, just waiting for the mister to iron his shirt. :)

      1. Buggy Crispino*

        I got to episode 4 and decided to call it quits. There wasn’t a single character that I didn’t want to die a painful bloody death on that series.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I don’t see anything about current members being able to renew, but I did read that lots of people are sending it as a gift to themselves (you can choose the date) and you just have to cancel your current membership before it renews then apply the gift membership to your account (in fact, this is what I’m going to do!)

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Gah, I just renewed in December, and in a miscommunication between us, my husband also paid $99 for his own account. He says we had a while conversation where we discussed me not renewing and him taking it on as a bill on his credit card, but I don’t remember any such thing. So we paid $198 instead of $72 : ( I wonder if we can fix it?

    1. PD*

      Some things might be examples of leadership, overcoming adversity/an obstacle, what your career plans/goals are, why that school, why should they pick you, accomplishments, extracurricular activities,

  13. Carrie in Scotland*

    Obligatory cat post:
    One of the better things about my week was the discovery that my cat is named ‘the tuxedo’ cat. I always say she wears a penguin suit, but the tux thing made my day! She is black and white :)

    1. danr*

      Speaking of cats… our visiting cat is speaking to us, loudly through double paned glass. I’m sure he thinks there is a tunnel between his two houses and if he could just get in, he would find it.

      1. danr*

        And he showed up again at around 10:30 pm…. just to get a head scratch or two and be fussed over. His inside folks think that he *just has to get outside*… but he’s faking. He’s a big ginger tom, about 12 years old with green eyes.

    2. catsAreCool*

      Cute! I used to have a tuxedo cat. She was a sweet kitty. She lived to be almost 16, and she was the boss cat for most of her life.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Ha! My sister used to have a tuxedo cat–she named him Chester. He used to jump out and attack people’s ankles, so we nicknamed him Chester the Molester. :)

    4. HR Manager*

      My first cat was a beautiful tuxie with a perfect tuxedo. I loved him dearly. I miss my dapper tuxie boy. I’ll bet your cat is gorgeous. :)

  14. Cristina in England*

    I gave my friend “Katie” some feedback on some written work she’s done, and I haven’t heard back from her for 4 days. I think I offended her. I made sure to say specifically that it was well-written and showed that she was knowledgeable and interested in the subject, and also that there was one issue that framed it one way when I thought that it should be framed a different way (I have written the same type of thing and it seems to be a common issue among people I know who’ve done it; the advice was handed down to me by a friend who was also in the same boat). I don’t know if I should write to her again and say “hey were you offended?” or not. We don’t live in the same city anymore so I am not just going to run into her. Should I wait a few more days?

    1. MsM*

      I think you’re probably overthinking it. Reach out in a few days if you haven’t heard from her, but I’d skip the apology unless she brings it up herself. (And even then, if you phrased it the way you phrased it here and she was still offended, she needs to get better at taking constructive criticism.)

      1. Puddin*

        Agree…I would say a heartfelt thank you for getting the opportunity to review her work and that you are flattered she trusted you to do such.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      You could ask her if that was what she was looking for/wanted. Or you could ask her if she thinks your feedback will be of any help to her.
      What I like about this is that it levels the playing field. She gets to tell you about your feedback.

      It could be that you decide never to give her feedback again. It could be that she realized she was asking you for A and you gave her X. Give her a couple days and check in.

    3. fposte*

      This is feedback she asked for, right? Then I wouldn’t do too much caretaking–if she is offended, she might need a few days to settle and find her maturity again. And she might have other stuff going on that’s keeping her busy, so her lack of response may not be about you. I like Not So New Reader’s ideas for possible conversation openings if you want to discuss this further.

    4. Cristina in England*

      Thanks everyone. Originally I offered her feedback after seeing her tweet about never knowing when the writing/editing was done, and she sent some of it to me. I don’t know if that changes anything, but thought I would clarify. I think I will wait until later this week and ask her how the editing is going. Thanks again!

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Based on this, I suspect your feedback was a little more “real” or in depth than she was anticipating, and, like fposte said, she is probably taking a few days to digest and realign. 4-5 days post seems like a good window for revisiting.

  15. Rebecca*

    I had a very stressful week. First on Tuesday, my carpool was nearly in a head on collision on the 4 lane while driving home from work. A vehicle from the oncoming lanes crossed the median, flew in front of us, went off the side of the road airborne into a long barrel roll, hit a fence in the cornfield below, then flipped so many times I lost count. We pulled over quickly, called 911, and I ran to the car, and the person was very much alive. Vehicle was destroyed around her, and she was wedged upside down in an impossible position. Hurt, but alive. We had to wait until the police came to give a statement. I found out later she wasn’t paralyzed, but has broken bones and may need surgery. If we would have left 1 second sooner, she could have hit us. I’m still a bit shaken up over how close we came to being in a very serious accident.

    Then, one of my older cats, nearly 16 years old, took a severe turn for the worse and I had to have her put down on Friday morning. Poor girl was diabetic and I’ve been giving her insulin shots for about 5 years. The last few days were pretty awful. The ground is frozen pretty solid here, so she may have to go to the gardening shed for a bit until we have a thaw. Her sister/litter mate is still with us, but she’s acting odd lately, almost like she has dementia. I miss her terribly and just called her for supper out of habit. She always looked forward to canned food before her shot.

    Even through all of this, I have stuck with the 21 Day Primal Challenge, and I’m on day 14. I had a few trying moments while under stress and wanted to reach for chocolate bars, ice cream, Doritos, etc. but I held steadfast and didn’t go off the plan. I can make it 7 more days!! But I will be eating chicken wings and drinking a few lagers on Feb 1, that’s for sure :)

    1. Hypnotist Collector*

      This sounds incredibly traumatic. I’m so glad you’re safe (and this is why I take the bus, lord). Go get yourself a nice long good massage and release some of that trauma. And congratulations on maintaining health and nutrition.

      1. Observer*

        Buses are not all the much safer in this regard. And, regardless, the flying car bit would be enough to shake any normal person up, even if the bus would have been 100% safe.

        Rebecca, you have my full sympathies. Pamper yourself a bit. Massage sounds like a GREAT idea.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      I am so sorry about all that. It is so, so hard to lose a kitty. Were you able to let her sister see/smell the other cat’s body? I’ve heard that can help them realize what happened so they don’t keep looking for the other cat. We have done that the last two times we lost a cat, and while the surviving cat did seem out of sorts for a while, it seemed like less distress than I’ve seen before in that situation. Maybe that could help if it’s not too late.

      1. Rebecca*

        I have a dog, plus several cats, and I made sure they all got to see her and know that I just didn’t take her away and she never came back. I know people think animals don’t understand, but I think they understand more than we know, and I believe they understand when one of their friends isn’t alive any longer. I knew this was coming for several months, due to her illness, but it was still very sad.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          They know and they understand better for what you did. I’m sorry for your loss and tough week.

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Of course it was still just as sad. I am with you on the cats understanding – it’s phenomenal, you just have to figure out how the communicate with them and the possibilities are endless. You didn’t mention this, but I’ll say it anyway – I felt a little embarrassed or uncomfortable when my last (very, very, special) kitty died about how upset I was and for how long. Or, more likely, I felt worried about what other people would think. As a childless person, that cat was truly a member of my family. So, whether or not the world understands how intense grief from losing a cat (or dog) can be, lots of people do understand that intense grief. I do, at least.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            (no disrespect intended for people who have children and very much love their pets – it’s just that in my day to day life, there are no kids to compare the cats to).

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              We have both a child and pets, and I didn’t even think to take offense. We cancelled a trip last year because we suddenly discovered that one of our cats had a very aggressive oral cancer and had to be put to sleep. And he was put to sleep before the trip, it wasn’t as if we had to stay home to deal with the vet, it was because we couldn’t imagine traveling and socializing at that point.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      What an incredible week. I am glad you were able to get to that lady and let her know she was not alone and help was coming. Sometimes that is the best it gets in those situations.
      And your kitty. I am sorry. Meanwhile, the other kitty, did she act like that before sis died? Do you think she is grieving? I have had loses here and watched the remaining animals grieve in their own way. One dog wandered from room to room, checking, checking… ugh.

      I hope something really wonderful happens to you in this upcoming week.

    4. brightstar*

      Talk about a bad week! Kudos on sticking to your diet through all that stress and I hope this next week is better.

    5. voluptuousfire*

      Sorry to hear about your kitty. :( I also had to put down one of my cats late last Friday night. My cat was 19 and looked just like Olive. She was really sick (chronic kidney disease, dementia and some other issues) and it was just her time. Sad kitty owners unite.

    6. Mimmy*

      Sorry to hear about your rotten week. I’m glad that the woman in the other car is (relatively) okay. Also, sorry about your cat. One of our cats died two years ago and, as in your case, the ground was frozen. We had to wait a couple of days for it to thaw out.

      1. knitchic79*

        Ugh what a rotten week! I’m glad everyone was ok after that wreck, I’ve been in a roll over and it’s absolutely terrifying. I was so grateful for the people who stopped and waited with me for the ambulance, it really helped keep me calmer than I would have been otherwise. And I’m sorry about your sweet kitties, it’s rough loosing a pet. They are very much part of our families. When we lost our dog our poor kitty cried for a week. I think your other baby may be confused over why her litter mate isn’t around, but keep an eye on her. I’d call your vet and see what they suggest to help her cope. Hope this coming week is better! *Hugs*

  16. Anonyby*

    Related to Just Laura’s question at the top…

    What are your favorite containers for storing food in when you freeze it?

    I keep going back and forth myself… I’m not a fan of plastic for many reasons (environmental, potential leeching of other chemicals, discoloration, damage from heating liquidy food in them even in “microwave safe” containers). However, the meal-size glass containers I have are mason jars, and I’m paranoid about them getting thermal shock if I try to stick it in the microwave. Not to mention that it takes forever for anything I froze in a mason jar to thaw… Once I took a jar of frozen soup to work with me and just left it in my lunch bag. It was still frozen solid at lunch time.

    1. danr*

      Plastic bags for freezing,but don’t heat or microwave in them. Glass is a good insulator and does not lose heat easily. If you want to thaw stuff quickly, put the frozen bag on a metal surface. A thick pan or griddle works well.

    2. BRR*

      I freeze stuff in the big ziplock bags. For just regular leftovers I have glass tuberware that is awesome.

    3. skyline*

      I mostly use mason jars since I am usually freezing soups, curries, or pasta sauces. I use the wide mouth pint jars that have straight sides, and the white plastic one-piece Ball lids. I move frozen soup from the freezer to the refrigerator the night before I plan to eat it. It’s usually thawed enough that I can easily warm it up in the microwave the next day. (I do often pour it into an actual bowl for eating, though. Eating out of a jar might save me from having to wash one bowl, but eating soup from a bowl makes me feel a little more human)

      When I am freezing other things (like meatballs, or cookie dough), I usually freeze them individually on a sheet pan and then transfer them to a Ziplock bag after they are frozen. I’ll wash and reuse those bags if they haven’t touched raw meat, and I don’t actually ever heat anything up in those bags.

      1. Alma*

        A thought: do you have a stoneware bowl or one of those Corning mugs-to-go you pour your soup in once heated? Put your zipper freezer bag into that container, then pour your soup or chili or casserole into it. When frozen, take the bag out of the mug or bowl and take one out when you’re ready to eat it. Remember the contents will expand when frozen so don’t over fill. Remove the contents from the bag to heat for lunch. If you have a few containers the same size you can freeze more than one at a time.

        1. skyline*

          That’s an interesting suggestion! Except I’m too impatient to wait for my food to cool completely, so I usually pack the into jars when it’s still warm. I feel comfortable doing that with glass jars, but would not want to put hot or warm food into a plastic bag.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      For the soups, sauces, and beans I make and freeze, I use wide-mouth mason jars. As long as you don’t go above the fill line, you’re fine. I let them cool down to room temperature before putting them into the freezer, and then take them out the night before I want to use them.

      For casseroles and other dinners, I use disposable foil pans with lids that I buy at the grocery store. That way I don’t tie up my glass dishes. I also am not a fan of the cheapo plastic Ziploc containers. The foil pans can usually be re-used a few times if you’re careful. Also, I cover the foil pan with plastic wrap before I put the lid on, just because it seems like it will help keep the air out and prevent freezer burn, or at least slow it down.

      We also have a vacuum sealer, and I use that for meat that I buy in bulk. Like I buy a big bunch of pork chops, and then separate them into smaller packs of 5 or 6.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      For freezing I use ziplock bags or cheap plastic containers with lids. I’ll make a big pot of soup and freeze individual servings. I use them to keep the rest of my lunch cold in the bag. But I don’t heat in those. I have a ceramic soup mug and heat the soup in that. There’s very little thawing before it’s time to heat it up, and that’s fine, because it slips easily out of the plastic and into the mug.

  17. Sabrina*

    Alison, awhile back you talked about making your bed very luxurious. Can you share what brands you like? Especially pillows!

    1. Sunflower*

      i have a Laura Ashley bed mattress topper(bought at Homegoods) and i love it. it makes my bed feel like it has an entire pillow under it. I also have a Trina Turk comforter and I love love love it! I’m not sure I’ll go back to anything else. It makes me feel like I’m in an amazing cocoon. However, my bed is a full and my comforter is made for full/queen size bed so it helps that there is a lot of extra comforter.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh yes! This is the result of serious research, spending hours reading reviews, trial and error, etc., but I now have the most comfortable bed known to humanity. I also replicated it in my guest room, and guests confirm that the bed is a cloud that they do not want to leave. Here are the components:

      * W Hotel pillowtop mattress (well worth it)
      * Another pillowtop topper on top of the pillowtop mattress, for extra decadence (any brand should do; Company Store has good ones)
      * Home Source International bamboo sheets (Overstock has them on sale here)
      * this blanket — softest ever — just trust me

      Pillows have been trickier. I need a very flat, very soft pillow with almost no loft, which is crazily hard to find. I’ve had good luck with latex pillows though. Currently I’m using and loving this one:

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I love Company Store. I have a down mattress pad and several down comforters from them. Fantastic stuff.

      2. But What About The Nisha Call?*

        I went on a trip to Hong Kong for business this summer, and stayed at a hotel that had the most wonderful bed and pillows I think I’ve ever slept on. Once home, I emailed the hotel (Kowloon Shangri La) and asked if I could buy a set of pillows. Cost me a jillion dollars, but they sold them to me (set of two down pillows, one firmer and one softer) and I sleep like I’m in heaven every night!

      3. Anonsie*

        I just got a feather bed from Pacific Coast and a progressive light-up alarm clock (one that lights up gradually before the alarm is set to go off) plus some pinkies-out sythetic down pillows and oh my godddddd I sleep so much better. Wake up less, fall asleep faster, wake up easier. I actually get to sleep in later because I can get up right after the alarm goes off, whereas I used to have to set a series of alarms over like 45 minutes to an hour.

        1. Elkay*

          Progressive light up alarm clocks are brilliant, I invested in one a few months ago and it’s made getting up in the dark mornings so much easier. I don’t think it would wake me up on it’s own but I certainly feel less groggy when my radio kicks in.

          1. Persephone Mulberry*

            Anonsie, elkay and anyone else who wants to chime in, recommendations for progressive alarms? Reviews on amazon are all over the place and not helpful at all.

            1. Elkay*

              Mine is a Lumie Starter 30. It starts lighting up 30 minutes before my alarm goes off. As I say I like it but I don’t think it would wake me up on it’s own so I still use my clock radio.

            2. Anonsie*

              I got the most pinkies-out expensive Philips one, I’ll link to it in another comment. I think it’s potentially discontinued because we had to get it from some random Amazon Marketplace seller and it is expensive, but it is pretty dang nice. It automatically adjusts its display according to how bright the light in the room is so it can be readable but no obtrusive at all times, and it’s extremely customizable. IME though you will find the settings you like and stick with them, so a cheaper one may very well be absolutely fine.

              1. Anonsie*

                It’s this one: http://www.usa.philips.com/c-p/HF3520_60/wake-up-light

                One thing though, the bit where it says you can just tap the front of the lamp to hit snooze? I don’t know HOW they want you to do this. I think I tap it the way it wants to be tapped like 25% of the time, so I end up just needing to hit the actual alarm-off button instead.

                But because I want to get up and not actually keep snoozing when I use this thing, it doesn’t matter nearly so much.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          I’ve been looking at those also, because I like the look. I have had linen sheets before that my husband brought back from Italy some years ago. I loved them in the summer, as I sleep hot and they were much cooler than cotton. They shrank too much over time (italian beds are apparently smaller and the fit was tight to begin with) so we didn’t use them long. However, I hesitate about how comfortable and comforting they would feel in the winter, but would also like to hear about anyone’s experiences with cold weather sleeping.

  18. Anonia*

    I almost walked out of class today because it was getting so anxious about the lack of adhesion to the class format.

    What do you think is the best way to approach the instructor and let them know that they aren’t teaching the correct material without throwing my classmate’s under the bus (none of us had done the hw because we didn’t see it on the schedule, though it was referened in the syllabus-the instructor didn’t seem to realize we had any). The syllabus is very thorough and a bit daunting. But class is very unstructured and we aren’t following the schedule. I’d rather do the homework so we can be more focused during class. Today we didn’t even do the lab we were supposed to and I have no idea what to write up and how we will be evaluated. It’s worth noting that I missed the first week of class due to a work meeting (I tried to contact the instructor to no avail).

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Did you try talking to others in the class? In severe cases, I would drop a course like that. I won’t learn, I know me. Maybe you can change to a different prof?

    2. fposte*

      Is this like a student TA, or is this a professor? Is the syllabus standardized in a way that’s important for credentials or certification?

      In general, I wouldn’t advise going to an instructor and telling them they’re teaching the wrong stuff :-). It’s also possible that, since you missed the first week, you missed some discussion about how the schedule and syllabus would be handled. I think it’s fine for you to go to the instructor and ask about the schedule and whether it’s going to follow the syllabus in future, and if not, whether there’s a way to get information about prep in advance.

      Basically, what you’re describing could be anything from an instructor doing a bad job and leaving students in the lurch to standard schedule drift, which happens in a lot of courses, and some things in the middle. Merely deviating from the schedule isn’t inherently wrong; it’s what else happens that would define if this was a problem worth taking elsewhere or not.

      1. Anonia*

        When I missed the class I asked what I had missed a few times. Our syllabus talks about class material that the instructor doesn’t seem to realize we are supposed to do. We did classwork exercises the week after they were supposed to be done.

        This is the instructor for the course. It’s at a community college and this is not their primary job.

        I think the syllabus is standardized by the department or the school. Community colleges I’ve been to tend to have standardized syllabus formats with variable content. I think the contact info for this course has just been updated. I also think it’s geared less mature students. Pretty much everyone in my class has had several lab classes before and I think our average age is in the 40s.

        I think the reason I’m not sure how to proceed is that I also work at this school and in this department, though indirectly. As a student I’m getting pretty annoyed, though.

        The syllabus seems to be written to head off problems of an intro lab course. Most of my classmates are very mature students and are extremely proactive about their education

        1. fposte*

          Sounds like you know the standard there and that Dr. Doll’s probably called it, then. I’d follow her advice.

    3. Dr. Doll*

      The syllabus is supposed to describe how the class will be taught and if the instructor is haring far off the syllabus, that’s a problem. The instructor probably didn’t write the syllabus, but that doesn’t mean he/she gets to not follow it. (It sounds like this is one section of several, all with a common syllabus but different individual instructors.)

      If this class has a face to face component, immediately before or after class is a good time to catch the instructor and set up an appointment. You REALLY need to talk to the instructor first, but then…

      If you’ve tried to contact the instructor, tried to set up an appointment and not received a reply or the instructor has been unwilling to meet, ramp up to the course coordinator and then the department chair. You need to be very dispassionate and factual, e.g. “The syllabus indicated that we would be covering X topic this week, with Y work due. We covered J topic and did not do lab scheduled according to the syllabus. I and a few of my classmates are confused about the requirements and are concerned that we may be missing graded work due to the mismatch between the syllabus and the class activities. We have tried [it should be multiple times] to contact the instructor but he/she has not replied. I am not able to go to his/her scheduled office hours due to [legitimate reason such as work or class], and the instructor is not available outside those hours.”

      Try again to get in touch with the instructor.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I work in a university for courses that gain you access to degrees if you don’t have the qualifications or are coming back after a long time.

        How we would deal with this situation is not to go to the instructor at all but to the course co-ordinator as they are “in charge” of the instructor.

    4. INTP*

      The instructor may just have a more unstructured style than you prefer, which isn’t really something you can go up to them and tell them is “wrong.” You also can’t just tell them that they’re teaching the wrong things. What has probably happened is that this person has inherited a syllabus that they weren’t able to update for whatever reason and now they’re just teaching the class in the way that makes sense to them.

      It sounds like your difficulties are with the actual class material not matching what you expected based on the syllabus. What would be fair to ask is that the professor give you an idea of what the class schedule will be so that you can prepare for the correct things on the correct night. They might not know every class ahead of time but maybe they could post a brief schedule on the class website every week with that week’s projected topics and homework that would be collected, or tell you at the end of class what will be discussed and collected the next day. (When I was an instructor I wouldn’t assign the homework until the end of class because I would often be surprised by what the students found particularly hard or easy. I didn’t want to make them work more on material they seemed to have mastered or move on to something new if they didn’t get it.)

      1. Anonia*

        I’m hesitant to ask because I don’t want to become a nuisance. I feel like I’ve already bothered them by trying to figure out if I missed anything. Our syllabus (that we had to take a graded quiz on, by the way) indicates that we have lab reports to print and lab books to complete, and I can’t tell what our report is supposed to be on.

        I suppose I didn’t mean that they were teaching the wrong things. But I don’t think they are aware of what the course looks like from our end and that there are structured labs we are going to be graded on. And I’m worried our online quizzes (likely not written by the instructor) will include material that we aren’t covering. There is no text for the course.

    5. Vancouver Reader*

      I had a class once where the instructor did things at random and would seem to make on the spot decisions. He was so awful, the school ended up giving everyone in that class a refund. I think several people went and talked to the head of the department and the rest of us gave our thoughts in the course evaluation. That’s not to say people didn’t try and speak to the instructor first, they did but he didn’t want to listen.

  19. Anonyby*

    Also just want to celebrate a little! After a bit over two years of getting hit with large unexpected bills and a reduction in wages that forced me to put all of my CCs to their limit (and get another), the tunnel is lightening some! I have two nearly paid off, and the last isn’t fluctuating close to the limit anymore. Once I’ve got the two paid off, I can redirect all of my “paying off cards” part of the budget to the one and get that down faster! WHoo!

    Knock on wood that I don’t get any more unexpected major bills. Last time I got hopeful about the cc situation, one of my young and seemingly healthy cats got hit with a major health crisis that was insanely expensive…

    1. Trixe*

      Congratulations, well done! This is huge, usually a steady commitment to bigger goal. I’ve done this a couple times myself (paid off debt) and will have to do it again once I secure employment. Feel so good to knock one or two out, and apply those payments to remaining debt. Good for you :)

      1. Anonyby*

        I know I’ll feel so much better once things are paid off. I had managed to pay off the cards every month until that first vet bill that started the avalanche. It doesn’t help that I feel guilty carrying balances on my cards, since my mom (who had worked as the Credit Manager and AR for a store) put such an emphasis on how to manage finances and to Always Pay Off The Card. And while I think she would have some sympathy for what happened… she was a year gone at that point so no guilt absolution for me (other than what I try, and often fail, to give myself).

    2. Alistair*

      That’s awesome, and something I’m working towards as well. Can you tell me a little more? Did you do largest or smallest debt first? Largest interest first? Or a mix across all the cards?

      1. Anonyby*

        I was paying off the same amount to all my cards (only a bit more than half of their minimum payments, but it was the most I could put into them each month). Out of my two original cards, the limit of the older card is 1/6 of the newer (now middle) card, so that’s one of the ones nearly paid off. I got the third and newest card late enough that what I ended up having to put on it was also much less than the middle card, and so that’s the other one I’m close to paying off.

      2. Trixie*

        When I’ve tackled this, I tended to pay off smallest first and then move forward. While its important to keep in mind how much you’re paying in interest, I’m also someone who’s buoyed by the instant gratification of the zero balance on each successive debt.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      You’re my hero right now! I’m in the same boat. Bought a house, rented the old house, tenant has to be evicted for non-payment, got socked with a ton of repairs on the new house, had expensive vet bills, maxed out my cards (ALL of them). Praying nothing happens that requires money since I’d be screwed. Once the tenant gets evicted and we rent the house again, things will improve.

      1. Anonyby*

        Vet bills are the worst. Jack, my poor baby boy, started off by breaking his leg in such a way that required surgery to remove part of the bone because the break would never heal. That was followed a month later by irritation in his intestines causing him to throw up… which honestly wouldn’t have been bad if he had reacted normally to pepcid… We had to go through a bunch of medicines until I insisted that we try just one more (one that they had initially injected him with the first time I brought him in, but were extremely reluctant to prescribe in pill form) before getting him tested for IBS. Then a year and some months later he had a blockage from bladder stones and seemed like he was healing with flying colors…until he started to decline again, this time from acute leukemia that they hadn’t detected. He was only 4 when I had to put him down. :( I swear, the only reason I got through everything with him was because I’m fortunate enough to have incredibly amazing friends.

        The other big expensive unexpected bills were with my car. Went in for a standard oil change, and they noticed uneven wearing on my tires that meant those tires needed to be replaced, and the fix to make sure their replacements wouldn’t do the same was pricey. Had to suck it up and pay though–I need that car to get to/from work and everywhere else.

        House issues can be soul-draining. I had a friend that was dealing with similar house issues a few years ago, and it was heartbreaking to hear. I hope things start improving for you, now that the eviction is underway! *HUGS!*

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I’m so sorry for your loss. :(

          We moved in July. Shortly thereafter Lou (one of 11, yes 11, cats) got attacked by something and it degloved part of his tail. Basically it stripped half of his tail of fur and a layer of skin. Very disgusting. Had to have half the tail amputated. He’s fine now. Then came Riley, our precious 3 year old Persian. Ultimately he died (3 days after my 40th birthday, which I couldn’t celebrate because of another emergency vet visit ON my birthday and no funds due to the tenant not paying), but not before multiple emergency visits for bleeding from his mouth, a blood transfusion, multiple hospital stays, tests, etc. They think he had undiagnosed hemophilia. Heart breaking. My husband was more devastated than me; Riley was his bud.

          I’ll be happy when the eviction is over. It’s just killing us to carry two mortgages, plus our usual bills, and try to pay down multiple one-off bills we owe, including the vet.

          Thanks for the hugs!

          1. Anonyby*

            Poor kitties!

            While Jack’s leg break was heartbreaking when he was in pain, and expensive, he recovered very well from it. Barely had a limp after a couple months, and by the time a year had passed he was running and jumping and climbing as if nothing had happened and the limp was gone. The leukemia was awful because it was so unexpected… I had thought he had been tested for FIV/FLV, but apparently he hadn’t… He had a very rare case of leukemia coming from FIV, which in a way was slightly better because FIV isn’t anywhere near as easy to transmit as FLV. I got Cleo tested just after we put him down, and she came back free of both. Jack really was my baby, though. He was the one that would cuddle me for hours (even in summer heat), and loved to lay on my chest… Cleo cuddles down by my feet while I sleep in the winter, and is more aloof.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              I went through the leukemia thing, also. I had a cat, Petey, that I took from my sister’s property (he was a stray) and we bonded very tightly. Awesome cat: very mellow, loved the belly rubbed, very social, etc. I had him for about a year when we found out he had leukemia. We had to put him down the following week, because he was in the end stages when we found out. Heart breaking. I mistakenly thought that the test was done as part of the standard first few rounds of testing and vaccinations. I’ll never make that mistake again. At the time we had 12 other cats and it was awful to think they might have it also as a consequence of exposing them to Petey. So we had to decide: have them all tested and be prepared to segregate them positive from negative, or do nothing and hope for the best. Considering it would have cost about 1,500.00 at the time, we chose to just wait it out; we didn’t have the money. That was about 4 years ago and everyone is still healthy. I’ve had a few tested over the years as they go for vet visits.

              1. Anonyby*

                On one of the kitten cams I watch, the litter before last were caught with the mama and a couple of the babies testing positive for leukemia… So mama and the positive babies were housed separately to see if they could shed it or if it was permanent, and the rest went to the foster with the cam. When it came time to test everyone again, mama and one of the kittens that had initially been positive were both negative and came to the cam, but one of the boys we had fallen in love with on the cam came up positive. That was a litter that especially tugged at heartstrings!

    4. danr*

      Congratulations and good luck… have you tried pet insurance. A friend of mine swears by it for her cat.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I have pet insurance, as do many of my friends. Last year we got enough reimbursed that our premiums were a wash. One friend has HealthyPaws and something like 90% of the expenses were covered when her big hound had to have cancer surgery. I highly recommend it!

        1. Hlyssande*

          Thanks for the rec, I’m looking in to that today! As a first time kitty-parent, that’s going to give me peace of mind for sure.

  20. esra*

    Dating question!

    Has anyone had *recent* success with online dating? I know a lot of people who’ve met through online dating, but years ago. I tried both Match and OKCupid this past year and had just terrible, terrible luck. I don’t know anyone who has met a decent guy on online dating recently, and have been wondering if its time has passed, or if Toronto just really is a dating black hole.

    1. BRR*

      I think dating always feels bad while you’re browsing. Somebody once made a timeline of collective bargaining agreement negotiations, “There is the contentious negotiating and peaceful resolution,” and I think online dating is much the same.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Nope, sorry. Nothing. It might be where I am; there is just nothing here. It’s so awful I am never doing it again. I just want to smack people when they say “Have you tried online dating?” Yes, about a zillion times. Obviously it was useless.

      1. esra*

        Right? It was so incredibly bad that no dates has been better than the ones I went on with online dating.

        I know a ton of great single women, but if there are single men out there, they’re freaking ninjas.

    3. Ineloquent*

      I don’t know about Toronto, but my sister married a guy she met on line. He’s wonderful- smart, kind, funny, etc. He’s a bit older (50ish), which I think was the major reason he decided to try online. But there is hope!

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        I also met my now-husband online in 2011. And it was on a free, shadier-than-OKC website, which just goes to show that even the lousy, sketchy free sites render up a gem every once in a while!

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict*


            I know it sounds horrible, but yes, actually. Part of it was because we were in a pretty rural area and it was way more popular than OKC or anything else there, and part of it was that, ahem, neither of us was searching for a long-term relationship. It just so happened that we were very compatible people. Miracles happen!

    4. Hummingbird*

      I tried OKCupid two years ago and stayed on for about a month. I received some messages, but some of them were creepy or weird. One guy asked me a question about what I had written on my profile. It was something along the lines of “So, you like to travel?” and that was it. Um, duh?! Or else I wouldn’t have written it! Another guy wrote to me about how he was married but really was looking for a way out of his marriage. Dude, if you are looking elsewhere while with her, how do I know you won’t with me? Then I sent my own messages to others I thought were interesting only to get no response.

      I haven’t tried the others. I don’t get how people meet up. I’m not into bars; I don’t drink. I’m busy with work, and by the time I get home, I’m tired and would love to just watch TV. I have a gym membership, and I barely go to that because I just don’t have the mojo to get out. I’ve tried the volunteering (which got me into a field I love just to add as a side note!) and I go to a class once a week learning a new language. There is nobody around. I don’t live in Toronto but I live near another major metropolis. Maybe the guys are hanging out in the rural areas!

      Like a shirt I had when I was a teen: Boys are like parking spaces. All the good ones are taken.

      Or so it seems. There are a few good men out there. We just have to find them.

      1. esra*

        Hello Hummingbird, my secret twin. I’m having pretty much the same issue, I’ve taken different classes (everything from cooking to carpentry) and have met a bunch of great women, but nary a man over 21 or under 50. There have got to be some late twenties/thirties dudes out there somewhere, but I have no idea where.

        Right now literally the only single man I know is my awful ex.

        1. Hummingbird*

          I’m having trouble finding guys my own age, too.

          This summer, I met a guy I thought was really nice, had a great personality, cute. He had some qualities about him that I was bit hesitant with. And then there was his age. I’m 4 years older. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to be the (that much) older one, but I enjoyed his company. He actually thought I was 2 years younger than him. We hung out a few times after work in the evening, and then suddenly he disappeared. Poof! We had mutual friends so I knew he didn’t fall off the face of the Earth. He just wouldn’t come near me. Finally I put him in a situation where he had no choice but to talk to me when we were together with mutual friends. He acted like a fox in a forest fire. He didn’t know which way to turn. What was his deal? Was I scary? A friend kept saying he must be hiding something. Sure enough he was. He had a girlfriend back at home (home being 10 miles away) of 4 years. When he started talking to me again, he added me on Facebook, and that’s how I found his little secret. But on his Facebook, he doesn’t list a relationship; you have to go to the girl who is always posting on his page to find out the truth. WTF?

          I know a guy who is older than me who has been a serial monogamist. According to him, each girl goes bat-shit crazy, especially when they break up. He fails to realize that he has been the only constant factor in each relationship. I used to like him, but now I fear that if we dated and broke up, I’d be the next crazy chick.

          I found these guys. Can I trade them in? I can go on about some others I know, but these are the two that stand out.

          1. Vancouver Reader*

            Oh my gosh, you know husband’s best friend? ;) He’s a serial monogamist, except he doesn’t realize that some of the girls are manipulative/insane until way after they’ve broken up with him. We see it, but you can’t change someone’s mind if they don’t want to see it.

            1. Hummingbird*

              I’m not sure if the girls are crazy, but each time he breaks up, it’s due to the girl having gone crazy, so he says. Yet the constant factor is him so I have to wonder how apparently each girl goes crazy. Does he drive them over the edge? Or is this his excuse as to why he is no longer dating them (especially the last girl who broke up with him, and he’s still licking his wounds on that one)?

        2. Stephanie*

          There have got to be some late twenties/thirties dudes out there somewhere, but I have no idea where.

          Improv classes. The odds are good, but the goods are odd.

      2. Mander*

        Are any of you in London or the environs? Want to meet my 30 year old brother in law? I’ve been trying to find a way to get him to meet a girl for as long as I’ve known him… ;)

        1. Poe*

          London, England? I’m right near there! Hook me up! I haven’t been dating really while I’ve been here, but a decent lunch with a human being who can hold up one end of a conversation would be nice.

          1. Mander*

            The only trouble is he might talk waaaay too much about trains. He works for one of the railway companies and his brother is a bit of an anorak. It’s not actually the only thing they talk about at family dinners, but sometimes it feels like it! :D

    5. Steve G*

      I think the highs are higher and the lows are lower when online dating. I know people who met online and lasted years, so it works. I met my partner on match. I wanted to meet someone who was Catholic and either Irish or Polish like me + was goodlooking, and kept meeting either busted but nice people in person, or goodlooking vapid people. This is the NYC gay scene for clarity…..

      I think my bad dates from online were worse that my dates from people I met in the bars, because I couldn’t screen out peoples’ weird qualities in person beforehand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone who described themself as masculine when they were totally not. I met one who kept moisturizing and putting on lip gloss and lived with his mom at 37. Yeah, that reeks of masculine! I was going to meet another one who cancelled and was semi-crying because his mom was in an accident. The accident sounded minor, the way he described it, but when I talked to him, he sounded all distraught that it could have been worse, and he could have lost his, sob, mommy. Yeah, bad things happen every day, but let’s not be a drama queen. Not every one of my bad experiences was because the person was a mama’s boy, there have also been the closet alcoholics and chronic cheaters….and those are easier to discover in person, grilling someone.

      Despite the awkward moments above, I think my good dates would have been impossible to find in-person unless I was endlessly stalking bars, coffee shops, gyms, airports, etc., talking to hundreds of people, and my pace of life usually doesn’t afford me the luxury to do so….

    6. skyline*

      Nope, none here. I suspect it might work better in larger metro areas? I don’t think my city has enough people for there to be a lot of choice for me. I used to see more potential people of interest when I lived in different parts of the country.

    7. Alma*

      I really wish the people I think the world of would take the opportunity every once in a while to put their favorite people in the same gathering. Not a “set up” or blind date, but something like lunch after a community project, or coffee and conversation after a movie, or a cookout.

      There are several people who have spouses who are the kind of people who have to have friends that share similar world views, kindness, and integrity. And are single and open to meeting new friends.

      That is the kind of casual introduction I would want.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That is how I met and got to know my husband. Friends of our kept inviting both of us, separately, to various things. We’d go to the gather and sure enough, the other one would be there. They never said, “You two should get together”. They just told each one of us that the other was a fine-fine person.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I actually ASKED for this on Facebook. Literally all I got was messages like, “You go, girl!” and “Good luck!” Oh, thank you so much for your non-help, people. Obviously it wasn’t much effort for you to say something on Facebook and then promptly forget about it, which I’m sure you did as soon as you clicked off. >:P

      3. Sunflower*

        I think this was kind of the starting idea behind Tinder. I frequently come across people on tinder and see our mutual friends and think ‘why didn’t she set me up with him!!!’

    8. Natalie*

      I do, in fact. Started dating online about 18 months ago when a loooong term, cohabiting relationship ended, because all of my friends are married and I just don’t meet tons of people in my day to day life. Dated a bunch of people short term, enjoyed myself but never planned on it going anywhere.

      In April I talked to a nice guy a bit, and when he asked me out the next day I mostly said yes because it seemed better than the party I’d been invited to. Long story short, we talked for 6 hours, he walked me home in the rain, and tonight we’re watching bad Travolta movies and eating hamburgers.

      1. esra*

        Which site(s), if you don’t mind me asking?

        Most women I know are on OKC, but having an equally crummy time.

        1. Natalie*

          [OK, this threaded weird and ended up elsewhere. Alison, can you delete that other one?]

          OKC. I used Tinder for a while but I ran through all the people in my area in a few months. Without the profile to get a sense of personality I could only go on pics, and they mostly looked like bros.

          In general, this is what worked for me. (Some of this may be stuff you do already, of course. Also sorry if it comes across as punchy or jerky, we opened the wine and are now watching Batman and Robin so I’m in a silly mood. And sorry for typos – on my phone.)


          When you’re browsing, go with your gut. If you have dealbreakers (smoking, kids, poly) or course screen for those. But don’t reject a match out of hand because you always saw yourself with a white-collar guy or he’s an inch shorter than you or he looks cute in 3 photos but weird in one. Can you have a drink with him? Ok, he might be a match.

          For your profile, funny and readable is your goal. Think of it as small talk at a party. You’re not giving your life story, just enough to give people a sense of who you are and interest them if they like what they see. Also, don’t list dealbreakers on your profile. Filter for them on your own.


          You don’t have to reply to everyone who messages you. If they’re creepy or gross, just block. Do not give an eff about their feelings. If they’re just not interesting, ignore. They probably won’t follow up and if they do and are annoying, see step one.

          MESSAGE PEOPLE YOU’RE INTERESTED IN. Sorry for the caps, but this is the biggest mistake I see people make online dating, especially women. Don’t sit back waiting for the accolades to roll in. Do they seem interesting? Fire off a quick message that can start a conversation. I found that one drink helped a lot, or messaging after I’d spent a great evening with friends and felt awesome and funny and loved.

          Once you message, hide (not block) the person (OKC specific). This will keep them from showing up in your match results or on your activity feed. Set it and forget it.

          Chatting and dates.

          I always said its not online dating, it’s online singles introduction service. Don’t talk for days and days. Any relationship will happen offline so get there as soon as you have determined that you can probably enjoy this person’s company for 2 hours. (If you have safety concerns, I have a whole separate lecture series on that. :) just let me know.)

          Once you’ve determined you can hang out with them for an hour, plan a date. Day, time and place are all crucial. Suggest them, and assume they will offer an alternative if one doesn’t work. Afternoon dates or week nights are great, because if you’re just not feeling it you can blame evening plans or work tomorrow as you jet. Always plan to go Dutch the first date. I almost never went on first dates on weekends unless I was just looking to hook up. If he’s a goon, I feel like I just wasted my Saturday night.

          The goal of the first date is only to decide if you want a second date.


          I personally found that casually dating multiple people (my limit was 3) helped me get less all up in my head about any one of them. If one faded or flaked, I didn’t think “ugh, here we go again”, I thought “oh, I can reactivate my profile again if I want to” (I also have a separate lecture series on the etiquette of this, only 3 easy payments of $9.99).

          Whether or not you date multiple people, online dating is like vitamins. It’s a supplement to your regular life, not a replacement. Do all the other things you love, and let dating be something for 2 happy hours a week or Saturday afternoon. Don’t worry that you’re missing something by not being available all the time. (During a very dull week I went on 8 first dates in 10 days, and I swear I blacked out halfway through from sheer social exhaustion. Don’t do that. :) )

          What killed the dinosaurs? The ice age!!! (Sorry, aforementioned movie. Also, my love of parentheses)

          1. Natalie*

            And bf’s opinion: He said 2 things:

            Online dating is like the prologue to a book. If you don’t like the book, you can just put it down and walk away. “Don’t put your hopes and dreams on an hour’s worth of meeting someone in a restaurant. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a person.”

            Don’t take it so seriously. He found a lot of people were dating online because they were bored with their life and watching to make a change. That’s not what dating is for.

            “Dating is supposed to be fun and people make it into too much serious business. It’s supposed to get gradually more serious with time, it’s not supposed to start out with ‘wait, you’re not the perfect person, maybe I can change you…’ It’s just one more reason to get out of the house – go out, meet someone new, get a new perspective. Doesn’t mean you’re going to settle down with the person.”

            So there’s some wisdom from a man that does not talk much (not my type), is blue collar (not my type), and is waaaaay to tall for me. :)

            1. Sourire*

              I would totally attend your lecture series! lol

              Was thinking of trying online dating and now feel even more empowered to do so, so thank you :)

            2. Treena Kravm*

              “a lot of people were dating online because they were bored with their life and watching to make a change.”

              YES. I avoid these types at all costs. Sometimes it takes a date or two to come out, but that’s that for me when it does.

            1. Natalie*

              Well, even though I wrote them like steps it’s more of a unifying philosophy: online dating is a way to get introduced to people you might not otherwise meet. Approach it with that in mind.

              But IIRC you live in a rural area, which from what I understand is rough territory for dating no matter how you go about meeting people. :(

              1. Elizabeth West*

                It’s not really rural–that’s the puzzler. It’s the third largest city in the state! But it’s a very churchy, family-oriented, rather apathetic place. There’s nothing to do unless you’re in college. You’d think with this many people here there’d at least be SOMETHING.

    9. Treena Kravm*

      I think it’s going to be tough to find shorter-term successes because so many people are hesitant to stamp a <12 month relationship as a success. But for what it's worth, I met my now-husband 5 years ago, and my wonderful partner 2 years ago, both on OkC.

      In terms of the past 2 years, I've been somewhat actively searching for a third partner, but have been very sporadic (due to moving, business with work, not in the mood, etc.) and haven't had much success. I've had 5 first dates in the past 2 years, 4 of them turned into 2-5 total dates, but they all ultimately fizzled.

      I think there are two reasons for this. First, I live in a rural, conservative community. (Believe me, Toronto is in the top 10% of locations for online dating.) Second, I don't try/put effort into it, as Natalie suggests below. I've never tried very hard, but my location was never an issue.

      Now that those two are combined, I'm not successful nor am I willing to put in the energy to change that. I've always believed romantic relationships should be easy most of the time, especially in the beginning stages, so I'm pretty quick to drop someone if I'm not feeling it. But that's a personal opinion that most people don't hold, nor should they!

      1. Sourire*

        I hope you don’t mind my asking this… When you are searching for your partner online, do you make that explicit right in your profile, or does it come up later? I am assuming the former, but I suppose I’m curious as I’ve had my share of it coming up later from married men (though it seemed like they were moreso looking for something on the side versus an actual partner). I don’t think I’ve ever run across one where it explicitly mentions a poly relationship, so I’m not sure how the dynamics work on dating sites.

        1. voluptuousfire*

          They have a non-monogamous option for relationships on OKCupid. You can do a search for it as well.

          I’ve not had any luck so far. Met a few nice guys but nothing panned out more than a drink or two. Just created a new profile tonight. We shall see!

          1. esra*

            When I was on last year, it seemed like it was a pretty good spot for non-monogamous teams looking for a third. That said, it’s pretty frustrating when you put strictly monogamous on your profile and you’re constantly getting pinged by couples.

              1. esra*

                One thing I found about the Toronto crowd on OKC, it seems to be guys who just stay on for years for hookups. There are probably some diamonds in the rough, but man I had zero luck.

                I’ve casually asked friends if they know any single guys, and none of them do. Like they’ll stop, think about it, and go “Wow. I actually don’t know any single guys.” Which sounds crazy, but here we are. Then again, maybe couples just mainly hang out with couples. Although everyone seems to know a few eligible ladies.

                1. Felicia*

                  Everyone I know doesn’t know any single gay ladies :)

                  The last single guy I knew got a girlfriend 6 months ago, or i’d totally hook you up :)

            1. Treena Kravm*

              @ Sourire, I have the non-monogamous option selected on my profile, and it’s stated again as the 2nd thing on my profile. If it “comes up later,” I give you my full approval to immediately cease communication with them. It’s really lame when cheating married guys do that, they even do it to me! My rule is if we all can’t have dinner together, then let’s not even bother.

              @esra, although I don’t date as a part of a couple, I do feel for the couples. There’s no specific place for them to go, and there’s no way to search for someone interested in a couple. And in general, a lot of people start online dating by writing what they “think” people want to hear. This comes up a lot in the questions. They’ll answer half monogamously and half non-monogamously, and it’s usually the monogamous ones that were answered the very first day they got an account. So that’s just to explain why they message you.

              Oh! Also, I just remembered my little sister met her now boyfriend (of 1 year? maybe 10 months or even more than a year?) on OkCupid in NYC! So that’s about a year ago and they’re still together. But they’re both artsy bohemian, she’s 21 and he’s 26, not super established in careers etc., and I think that’s easier to find.

    10. Felicia*

      Yes! Very recently! And I’m in Toronto too :) But I am a woman attracted to other women, and i think it’s different for straight women (more creeps maybe?) . Also very recently, my friend (also in Toronto), met her boyfriend of three months at a Reddit meetup – so they had interacted online, but it was the meetup that did it.

      Idk what you like to do, but i’ve found in this city, more people meet their SOs at like meetup events and other clubs lately.

      1. esra*

        I’m a big old nerdy nerd. And unfortunately living in the west end, which is like a meetup void.

        I have a friend who does professional matchmaking, and she’s told me that eligible straight dudes are the most elusive to find. But I’m going to have to put myself out there more somehow. Classes and meetups have been a no go, but I’m sure I’ll find something. I think part of the issue is it’s a bit tougher making friends once you are out of school and your regular social circle starts settling down. Most of my friends have kids, 90% of them are married. So I tend to not get out quite as much as I used to.

        1. Felicia*

          I live in the west end too! And I’m also a big nerdy nerd (like i’m really excited for the tea festival next week, i go to a fanfiction show, i’ve been to a Harry Potter meetup and have a TARDIS hat!) I’m totally having trouble making new friends now that im out of school and most of my friends are all coupled up (and i’m still single, i’ve just been on a lot of fun dates from OKC lately). Actually going to stuff has helped somewhat, but i’m really bad at maintaining new friendships. It’s also hard to get to know people outside of stuff like that, like i go to “choir choir choir!” every week, but i still don’t know anyone there. I made a few new friends in the past year, but it was actually from meeting people at parties/events thrown by other friends.

          Anyways I totally get it! There are technically a lot of people, but sometimes that makes it hard to meet them, especially since it’s such a geographically spread out city.

          And i know a couple who met through a professional matchmacker, and it was cheaper for guys because they were rare. My prob

          I do know a lot of single gay men, but that doesn’t help you :)

    11. Cath in Canada*

      I saw a really great TED talk recently called “How I hacked online dating”, by a woman who applied her analysis skills to the genre and figured out how to tweak her profile to find better matches: https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_webb_how_i_hacked_online_dating?language=en

      I’ve never tried online dating myself (I met my husband through friends just before it became really mainstream), but I have friends who’ve had some success recently. One of them found someone on Tinder, and they’ve been together for a few months now and seem very happy. Mind you I have two other single friends who say they tried Tinder and didn’t find any good matches at all – they’ve both deleted their profiles.

      I have lots of awesome single female friends (including two who would be just PERFECT for each other, if only they weren’t both straight!), and a couple of single male friends who are nice enough guys but not necessarily someone I’d recommend to a friend. I don’t know where that imbalance is coming from, either!

    12. Sunflower*

      2 of my good friends are dating guys they met online- one on OKCupid and the other on Hinge(similar to tinder but there’s more info about the person). I have a couple friends who are on match and have met some nice guys on there that it didn’t work out with just due to no real attraction. I use tinder and hinge and I met 2 guys on tinder. 1 ended up being just not my type personality wise and the other I would liked but we just didn’t click.

      Regardless of what people say, online dating is not for everyone. There are some people who really flourish and other who don’t. I’m someone who doesn’t like knowing anything about a person before i meet them so I’m comfortable with Tinder. Other people hate Tinder for that reason. I also find I’m much more attracted to a person’s demeanor rather than looks so there’s a lot of guys I see online that I’m not attracted to but if I met them in a bar, I could end up being interested.

      I also think the reason online dating seems so hopeless is because there are just that many more chances for it to not work out. You go through a lot more people browsing online than you would meet at a bar so I think that factors into that feeling. Have you tried Meetup groups? My therapist always tells me I’ll meet someone in a coffee shop but I’m never interested in anyone that goes through the ones near me.

  21. Cruciatus*

    I’m bummed that Matt Roush at TVGuide is apparently no longer able/allowed to write for the website. There was no warning or advanced notice for readers just…you start noticing that he’s no longer doing his weekly Monday column or ANY columns for that matter. I guess he’s still writing for the magazine but I can’t handle a weekly subscription (sounds lame, but I just never get to it then feel guilty and keep them around until I can read them, then don’t, then think about all the money I wasted). And a few months ago USAToday.com axed Whitney Matheson unceremoniously. There’s getting less and less to read out there!

  22. Hypnotist Collector*

    Complete meltdown today. For many reasons, the new job that should feel like a great victory is just bringing up overwhelming feelings of failure. It’s a good job, but so not where I thought I’d be in my life right now, and so not really right for my temperament. And it’s so demanding that I can’t see how I can do the things that matter to me on the side with any consistency or quality. But the two+ years of rejection as I searched have me totally in fear of screwing it up. So, my weekend not going so well!

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m so sorry to hear that. I was in a job that was very much not right for me this past year and it sucked. Every. Day. I cried every morning in the shower. All I could think about was how I’d picked the wrong job, how was I going to get out of it, etc. It was like a broken record and made me feel so much worse. I just had to concentrate on the good things in my personal life in order to get through work everyday. Knowing that I had a good home life, and looking for another job, is something that really helped.

      Maybe you can launch a job search. I don’t think a short stint at one job will be a problem. Just tell interviewers, if they ask, that the job turned out to be different than you expected. That’s what I did.

      1. Hypnotist Collector*

        Well, I’m 57 years old. It’s a miracle and probably a fluke that I landed any good job, and my search was more than two years. Most of my colleagues are very young and working 55-65 hour weeks is not hard for them (ahem, work hard-play hard). It’s expected of everyone – talking to my boss about workload is not an option, it comes with the territory. I don’t have much of a home life. This job was intended to support me as an artist (per the advice of Heather Havrilesky, mentioned above, and her awesome Ask Polly column) but the time/energy/commute/forced extraversion demands are totally draining. I thought I could handle it and I’m really doubting myself. But thank you, I appreciate your comment and the comment below.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Can this be the job that pays the bills while you throw any extra time you have into a new job search? Let it support your basic needs for as long as you can stand it and try for something that will give you a better work-life balance?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Not near what you are feeling but I was overwhelmed by my job, too. Fortunately, my boss was very clear that the requirements of the job were… okay, insane. Later I went to a training session that confirmed that and added specific information about what I could expect my progress to be. These things were helpful to know.
      Perhaps someone can give you an idea what the learning curve takes time wise.
      One thing I will suggest being careful about is “the things that matter to you”. It might be necessary to let go of some of those things in order to do what is needed. Sometimes there are compromises. As you think about this you may realize that X matters to you a lot, but it’s not necessary and not doable right now, maybe in a little bit.
      Perhaps you can talk over priorities with your boss and that might help.

      But more than anything- try, try, try to give your mind a rest/mini-vacation this weekend. Even if you can find a way to spend one hour NOT thinking about your job. Somehow give your brain a break from the stress.

    3. JMW*

      Consider that this is one chapter in your story…perhaps even the turning point in your story. It’s the passage where you figure out what you really want or perhaps find the courage to pursue it fully. Keep breathing, watch for patterns, pay attention to the people and issues that cross your path. If you can treat this as a transition, and recognize that transitions are usually difficult, it might help you to stay objective. Good luck!

  23. CaliSusan*

    I absolutely adore Captain Awkward, but I’m finding that im pretty close to finisheding reading her archived blogs and she doesn’t post as regularly as Alison does here. Any suggestions for blogs I should read that are similar in content to CA?

    1. fposte*

      A couple of possibilities: Heather Havrilesky’s Ask Polly, formerly at The Awl (archives still there), now at New York magazine, and The Vine section of Tomato Nation. Neither of them have the intensity of comment of CA, though TN gets closer to it; they also run a little brisker and a little less inclined toward the caretaking of CA, though I wouldn’t consider them unsympathetic. Oh, and The Rumpus still houses the Dear Sugar archives, which you might find enjoyable.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        The Vine section of Tomato Nation has archives that go back more than a decade, I think. I still haven’t finished working my way through them. So if you want loads of content, that’s a good one. (Recently The Vine has featured a lot of posts that aren’t advice posts, but if you start like two years back in the archives and go backwards from there, it’s pretty much all advice.)

        1. fposte*

          The archives go back to about 2000, and there are some amazing classic early posts. Chain mail dude was epic.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Curiosity got me and I had to look at the chain mail dude letter. Wow. This is like watching 200 railroad cars derail in slow motion.

          1. fposte*

            Aw, I just noticed that older posts have lost their comments. Too bad. People had much to say about chain mail dude :-).

  24. The Other Dawn*

    We’ve started the eviction process on our tenants in the old house. They were served by the marshal yesterday…on the wife’s birthday. Didn’t plan it that way, it just happened. I don’t feel bad though. She made her bed, now she has to lie in it. I’ll be so happy when this horrific nightmare is over with.

    So, not only did we get stuck with a 500.00 oil bill that they didn’t pay and were supposed to, but they got oil from somewhere else (because they didn’t pay said bill and delivery of oil was stopped) and it voided the service contract on the furnace. Add another 300.00 to the amount they owe us. We found this out when the furnace died and the tenant called to tell us. Hubby called for service and they told us the tenant got oil from somewhere else (based on when oil was last delivered they knew there was no way the tenants still had half a tank unless they got it somewhere else) and the service contract was void. PLUS, we had to be at the old house with cash to pay for the service if we wanted them to come out and fix the furnace. Being that we are dead broke because of all this BS with the tenants, and other issues, hubby had to fix the furnace himself WHILE HE WAS SICK! Thankfully he’s very handy and it turned out to be a 45.00 fix.

    Sorry, just needed to vent for a bit.

    1. BRR*

      Ugh I’m sorry you have to do this. I wouldn’t have bothered to fix the furnace while they were living there. That was kind of you. I know a landlord needs to provide working heat but I wonder if you have to if they’re being evicted.

      1. Observer*

        In most areas, it doesn’t pay to take the chance. Even if it turns out you don’t have to (not a given), they can set the whole process back by MONTHS. And, on top of this, the furnace is gong to have to be fixed anyway, before they can get a new tenant in.

      2. Dan*

        Fixing the furnace was the right thing to do. There really isn’t any such thing as “being” evicted, at least not until the judge makes a ruling. Possession is the tenants until the judge orders otherwise.

        If the heat wasn’t fixed, and I were the tenant, I’d tell the judge that I didn’t pay rent because the heat wasn’t fixed. In some states, is be completely in the clear, and further, if argue that you were trying to constructively evict me.

        Sure, all of that would be false, but you’d need a mountain of paperwork to prove otherwise. And if you don’t have it because it doesn’t exist, you could be screwed. (Like they lied and said they phone you.)

        So, be thankful the furnace was a $50 fix and some inconvenience. Sometimes we spend money for peace of mind or expediency, even when we think we shouldn’t have to.

    2. Steve G*

      True related story my best friend is experiencing..he has a building with RR apts in Brooklyn. One of them was rented out by an ever changing series of older women who came to the US from Eastern Europe to work, save money, and go home. Each paid about $400 for a room so it was never a problem getting one to pay.

      One older lady moved in about 2 yrs ago and said she had a job and was OK that she was only allowed to stay for 6 months. The 2 other ladies were leaving and he wanted to renovate it and re-rent. Gentrification had driven up rents there and he could get $1800 easily if it was updated. Well…..the 2 other ladies left, but this one lady refused to leave. She also never worked, and many months went by without her paying rent.

      Many months of social workers, eviction notices, lawyers, and a few court dates ensued. The final verdict was that she has ONE YEAR to find a new apartment. This was in April 2014. She is still there. On top of not leaving, she has many health issues, including bad flatulence, so it’s pretty impossible to find someone willing to live with her. So here he is, with an almost-empty apartment 1 mile from Manhattan, which should be a money machine, but he is barely getting $400/month for it, if he is lucky…….

      1. The Other Dawn*

        UGH that’s terrible! At least my eviction case won’t take that long. I’m lucky that they don’t have young children so it’s easier. It should take about three months. Interestingly, they knew exactly how long it would take to evict them. :/

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I checked the state judicial website looking for something in particular about them and found they were evicted from the last place and have a small claims judgment against them.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          If you were in New England, I would swear you were renting to my old tenants. People that like have no conscious. I understand running into hard times and not being able to pay rent. I’m referring to the people that do this deliberately, over and over. Our scumbag tenants left about $10k in damage to our home. We have to repair subfloors.

            1. Case of the Mondays*

              We allowed them their 1 dog and 2 cats. In the process of evicting them we discovered there were TEN large breed dogs inside that were using the upstairs floor as their bathroom. The living room wall looked like there were knife throwing contests against it. Part of our dining room hard wood floor was inexplicably burned. They weren’t paying for the $3 trash tags and were instead just piling the bags of trash in the backyard. If I knew they couldn’t afford the tags, I would have bought them.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                UGH I’m so sorry. That’s awful. The only good thing I can say about my tenants is that they are very clean and meticulous. I don’t have to worry about anything happening. I fear that the most when I get another renter in there.

    3. HR Manager*

      Sorry about that. It’s why I don’t wish to be a landlord – finding good tenants is no easy task. My friend rented out her beautiful condo when she and her hubby bought a house. The place turned into a dump. The tenants weren’t crazy, frat boy college kids or anything, but a stable middle-aged couple who passed reference checks. The problem is that they apparently didn’t ever bother to clean anything, and lived like filthy pigs, in addition to not paying rent.

      My poor friend spent days cleaning up the place, and there was stuff in the apartment she couldn’t even fathom what it was or where it came from. She showed me pictures, and I wanted to gag and puke.

  25. nep*

    Injured my foot last evening — dropped something heavy on it. X-ray today showed nothing broken. Has anyone ever had this kind of injury — from dropping heavy object on top of foot? I know every body’s different — but do you recall about how long before the foot was back to normal?

    1. Chris*

      I hit the outside of my right foot with a loaded stock cart (maybe 150lbs?) last year, and it took several weeks to feel “normal” again. What really helped was the air cushion brace that I got after going to the walk in- it was a gentle constant pressure that made it feel supported without chafing against it.
      Maybe you could find something similar?

    2. reader*

      Yes, I have. Although heavy is a relative term so that will effect how long it takes to return to normal. It will all depend on how bad the bruise is and where it is. You’ll probably feel fine after a day or two but will feel some discomfort when pressure is applied to the area. So the shoes you wear will make a difference. It’s been a while since I’ve done this but probably less then a week till I didn’t really notice anything.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Willow bark can help with the swelling. You can find it with vitamins and such or in a health food store. My friend broke her toe and could not get a shoe on. The willow bark reduced the swelling each day (with noticeable difference starting the first day) and she was able to get a shoe on her foot.
      Hard to know without knowing the size of the bruise how long it will take. If you are icing it and using the willow bark, you should be doing better within the week. I can sympathize about feet- i hate it when something happens to my feet.

      1. nep*

        Thanks, all. This is helpful. (Indeed — our feet are so crucial and can be taken for granted. They really are workhorses. Just another reminder to be oh so kind to them always.)

    4. fposte*

      Have you tried crutches, by the way? My local pharmacy lets you have a pair for a $25 deposit that you get back when you bring them back. I know sometimes it’s easier to hobble, but if you can try a pair you might find them useful for taking the pressure off a little.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          If your pharmacy doesn’t, a local hospital or orthopedist may be able to refer you to a Nurse’s Closet or Lending Closet–other places that lend crutches, walkers, knee scooters, etc., for a pretty minimal deposit. My dad had his knee replaced and was able to borrow a walker from the local Nurse’s Closet when the pharmacy wasn’t lending then any more.

    5. Calla*

      I’m glad nothing is broken! I dropped my phone on my toe a couple weeks ago, on apparently just the right spot — where the skin starts just past the cuticle– and it hurt SO BAD and the phone’s not even heavy, really! It took a at least a week for the bruise and pain (whenever I touched it or moved my toe) to go away.

      1. rPM*

        Ouch! If the area on your foot is very tender and painful, you could still have bruised a bone even if there’s no break. I did that a couple years back by dropping my laptop on my foot (at least the laptop was fine!). The bruised bone took about as long to heal as a break, and I had to wear a walking boot for ~4 weeks before I could get a normal shoe on again. Ice and elevation to prevent excessive swelling will help.

    6. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      Sort of a similar injury – I slipped (crappy shoes) and my body landed hard on my foot in a twisted way while I was sort of sliding down a steep driveway. I was absolutely sure that my foot was broken. Had x-rays, said there was nothing. Hurt my foot again several years later, had x-rays, and they said “there’s nothing broken now, but you have an old fracture that is healed”. Apparently, they can’t always see hairline fractures until they are healed. It took a few weeks to feel much, much better, a few months to be 100% back to normal. After a few weeks, it was just a very minor annoyance on rare occasions. Sorry that happened.

    7. nep*

      Foot is far better — through the night and this morning a huge improvement. Hope this suggests the injury was fairly minor. I’ll certainly continue to take it easy on it so proper healing can take place. Appreciate all the input here.

    8. INTP*

      The think I dropped wasn’t extremely heavy (a space heater, so not light but not a piano) but it was painful for several weeks. The main thing was that it broke the skin and that wound wasn’t healing, maybe because of the damage to surrounding tissues? I couldn’t tell if the area surrounding the scrape was so red and tender because I had a horrible infection or just because it was bruised. I just used over-the-counter neosporin and eventually it scabbed over and healed. It took a few weeks for the relatively small scrape to heal and my foot was still tender for a week after that.

    9. constantly questioning*

      Did they x-ray your foot while it was flat on the table? (The same position as when you’re standing on it?) I ask because I hurt my foot terribly and the first set of xrays showed nothing since I was lying down and apparently it isn’t standard procedure at my hospital to x-ray with the bottom of your foot on the table. Turns out I had major ligament damage and two surgeries later it’s still healing.

      1. nep*

        Wow — good to know, and sorry you’ve had to go through all that.
        They took x-rays from a few different angles, including with my foot flat on the surface.
        So far, so good — feeling much better and I hope I’m past the worst of it. Still going to be careful and watchful, though. Don’t want to play around when it comes to protecting the feet.

        1. knitchic79*

          I dropped a can of dog food on my toe last year, the edge of the can hit the middle of my big toe. The toe turned purple and hurt like nobodies business, I think it took a few weeks for it to be normal again. Arnica can help, it’s awesome stuff, comes in a gel or cream at most pharmacies.

          1. nep*

            You’re the third person I’ve heard mention the effectiveness of arnica oil — I’ve got to try it. Sounds like a good thing to have on hand.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              If you don’t use it all, it won’t go to waste. I use it like BenGay for back, shoulder, neck aches. I can sleep at night.

        2. constantly questioning*

          I didn’t get back til now but I’m glad you’re feeling better!!! And I agree arnica is generally awesome- as is oddly enough foot lotion with peppermint. The latter does nothing for pain but if your foot is hot and miserable feeling because of swelling the peppermint in lotion will make it seem cooler and less awful.

      1. nep*

        Thank you. I’m already doing much better. So far, so good. The body’s power to heal always amazes me.

    10. HR Manager*

      When I was about 10 yrs old – dropped a heavy speaker on my foot while we were moving. Nothing broke, but it did poke a nice hole in my foot that spurted blood like a fountain. Clotted soon enough, but couldn’t walk on my foot for days – maybe a week? Eventually lot the nails on my first 2 toes too. It really sucked.

  26. Chris*

    Any Subaru fans lurking here?

    I have been car hunting the last few weeks, and really (really!) love the Subaru Crosstrek that I test drove last week. What I really don’t love is the monthly payment estimate. Ouch. I just accepted a new job in a different state, so I want a dependable vehicle (mine is 15 years old) for driving in the snow belt that I can expect another decade+ out of.
    Is a Subaru worth the payment? Can I expect it to last and be dependable?

    1. Cruciatus*

      Yes. They are consistently ranked very highly. Hondas, Subarus, and Toyotas are usually really good in every category (sedan, crossover, SUV, etc.) My dad just bought an Impreza after buying Hondas for a while. The only reason for our switch to Subaru was because they have sedans with all wheel drive (which is great in the snow belt, where we live). Their customer service is pretty outstanding. The only thing he doesn’t like so far (and this is mainly because he allows me to park in the garage instead of him) is that it takes forever in winter for the car to warm up enough for him to roll down the window (at certain intersections he likes to be able to see clearly). While it’s our family’s first Subaru, I know plenty of people around who just keep going back to Subaru time and time again (and in talking with them, they don’t have this window issue). My sister is even now looking at one…

      I just looked up the Crosstrek at Consumer Reports and it’s a “recommended” car with a 74/100 rating. Highs: Fuel economy, controls, rear seat, visibility, IIHS crash-test results, reliability. Lows: Noise, ride, unrefined CVT.

      So if you liked it, it will probably be worth it!

    2. nep*

      There was a discussion on here recently about Subarus. I’ve never owned one but when I was in the market recently for a used car, was looking at them. I don’t know specifically about that particular model, but all I heard from my mechanic and from other people who know something about cars is that Subarus generally are super durable and reliable. A real champ of a vehicle. (I hear that repairs might be on the pricey side but they with good maintenance they are few and far between.) Good luck and keep us posted — I’ll be interested to hear how you like it if you get it.

      1. nep*

        Typo — extra ‘they’ there. ‘I hear that repairs might be on the pricey side but with good maintenance they are few and far between’.

      2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Yep. Love my Subaru. Bought a dealer car that had about 15,000 miles on it. Now over 100,000. I haven’t done many repairs, but the ones i have done have been a bit pricier. The worst part is that you literally cannot buy any tires for under $800 (which was a shock after my compact Nissan), and because of the AWD, you have to replace all four tires every time so they are totally even. But I’d buy it again. We have some snow, but we enjoy it more for backcountry roads/camping which is so much more fun when your car isn’t stuck.

        1. nep*

          Tires — yes. With a Subaru/AWD drive vehicle, I really wouldn’t want anything but the best tires, to take full advantage of this car’s handling especially in snow and on rougher terrain. What kind of Subaru have you got?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Really, $800 for tires? How often do you have to buy new ones? Do you get snow tires, too, or just use all season?

    3. NBF*

      I got a Forester a little over a year ago and I absolutely love it, especially in winter. I never lose traction, even when the low hasn’t touched my road, or an the big hill that is on my way to work that people frequently can’t make it up when the roads are bad. I was driving a small front wheel drive Chevy sedan before, which even with good snow tires, wasn’t a great winter car, so a lot of car options would seem good by comparison, but I am also really happy with the subaru service around here, and the brand’s reputation. The brand is known to last, although I think the Crosstrek is a newer model. And I don’t know what the payments would be like compared to other winter-worthy dependable vehicles (I paid cash for mine), but it you really love it, maybe you could look for private loans with different terms.

    4. Trixie*

      I’ve owned a used 99 Subaru since 2005, and absolutely love it. I couldn’t afford a new one but wasn’t seeing many used in my area. I was looking for Subaru hatchback but after not finding one, this fell into my lap and handled snow beautifully. I’ve put on 100K miles, so its at 208k now and runs like a champ. If you can afford it, its absolutely worth it. Of course if you keep it long enough you eventually deal with maintenance (brakes, tires, timing belt) and then further down the road start replacing original factory parts. I am a little surprised the mileage on the newer models isn’t better but that’s my only quibble.

      1. Alma*

        Used Subaru’s are hard to find. Around here all of the contact mail delivery folk have them. And people don’t get rid of them.

    5. Alma*

      My Forester is 1999, has 278,000 miles, just did the 300,000 maintenance on it, had to do some re-machining on the engine.

      This is very important: if you buy a car in one state then move to another, you will not be covered by the Lemon Law. I have had several friends find that out the hard way.

      And it is important to find a mechanic who specializes in Subarus. Dealerships make their money on repairs, not on selling cars.

      That new model has caught my eye, too. But I should get another 200,000 miles out of the Forester easily. Keep up on the scheduled maintenance, and you will be very happy.

      1. NacSacJack*

        for all those subaru owners out there, how important is the maintenance schedule? everytime i went into the dealer the first 36,000 miles for my 3000 mile oil change, it was like “and for another $524 we can do your 20,0000, 25,000, 30,0000 maintenance tasks.

          1. Alma*

            +1,000. My mechanic is so well known he has been mentioned several times on Car Talk. All he does is Subarus. He has a huge lot with used Subarus, many for parts. Again, the dealer is making big money on repairs. A reputable mechanic with stable help depends on his reputation and word of mouth. He will turn away business when the customer is a PITA.

            But he has helped me budget my expenditures. In the last 2 yrs I’ve done tires, brakes, and the major maintenance including engine work, water pump, new radiator, timing belt, etc. When the gasket finally blew, he answered the phone and told me how to get it safely to his shop without paying $280 for towing. And he estimates are a little higher than he thinks it will be so there are no surprises. He’ll tell me what needs to be done next, about how long I have before it needs to be done, what to look out for that signals trouble, and an estimate of what it will cost.

            Worth every penny.

    6. NacSacJack*

      ooooh my famorite subject of all times – Subarus!!! yes, definitely, they are worth the extra money. they are incredibly dependable in every time of weather and short of leaving it on the ice for spring thaw (question – can you drown a Subaru?), it will pick up and go.

      of note, plan for the 70,000 maintance – to replace the headgasket. subaru had issues with their headgaskets in the 00’s. have them do the timing belt at the same time (engine’s apart why not?).

      i’ve been looking at them ther’ Crosstreks but NAC and SAC wont fit in the back back with the seat up. :(

      1. nep*

        Oh, that’s right. Read about the ’00s models having dud head gaskets — not all, but some here and there.

    7. NacSacJack*

      Question for Chris – You mentioned the monthly payment was an issue which indirectly means the price point of your choice is higher than you like. Did you look at the Impreza Wagon? A Crosstrek is a jumped-up (lifted) Impreza Wagon. Its most distinguishing difference is that its ground clearance matches the Outback Wagon of 8.7 inches. If you don’t need the extra ground clearance and you aren’t buying the hybrid….

  27. Elizabeth West*

    Ugh, I’ve only written 800 words on Secret Book in the last two weeks. I’m just so unmotivated. I need to read some research materials too. Bleah. I’ve got three queries out on Tunerville and got a rejection (:P) and I’m just, bleah meh blugh ppfffftt.

    And I can’t seem to write the happy-in-love parts of the book. I’ve forgotten what that feels like. :(

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Where do you find inspiration for your books? And how did you get started?

      I’ve always wanted to write, but I’m stuck on what to write about. I guess I could just write random things and see what comes out of it.

      1. nep*

        One line I really like — I’ve seen it attributed to Picasso — Roughly: ‘Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.’

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I’ve been trying to reply to this for an hour, but I’m watching U.S. Nationals figure skating, chatting, and reading this thread all at the same time!

        This might answer your second question somewhat. aelizabethwest.com/2014/12/16/the-writing-process-or-how-i-bang-my-head-against-the-wall-and-shake-out-a-book/ I’ve been writing for a long time, but it’s only in the last five years or so I’ve gotten super serious about it. I need to put more irons in the fire, too, if I want to get anywhere. It’s tough as hell to get anywhere with just fiction.

        As for the first, I don’t know. Anything could be grist for the mill–an article, something I see on TV (Tunerville was inspired by an episode of Ghost Hunters), something I overhear.

        If you want to write, you have to just do it. It’s the only way. Just pick something and write. Dont’ worry about whether it’s good. One thing that holds people back is that they think they have to be perfect right out of the gate, and that’s not true. Even really experienced writers write shitty first drafts. That’s what editing and rewriting are for. If you’ve got any talent at all, the more you do it the better you’ll get. Read a lot so you can see what works and what doesn’t. Find some other people to read your stuff–preferably other writers–and critique each other. Grow a thick skin, because rejection and criticism are part of it. If you want to publish, it’s a good idea to learn about the industry.

        If you never end up with anything published, but you enjoy doing it for itself, that’s fine too.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Thanks for responding!

          I keep a personal blog, which is mostly about my weight loss surgery. Click my name or avatar if you’re vaguely interested. People tell me I write well, but it’s just a blog. It’s not as though I’m writing anything serious, really.

          I read quite a bit. My professors always told me they could tell that I read a lot based on how I write.

          I’ll have to give it a shot. My mom always said she wanted someone to write a book about our family, so maybe that will be a starting point. I don’t think our family is any different than any other, but we do have lots of material.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Blogs are still writing. :)
            That omelet looked good. Also, cute kitty!

            That sounds like a neat project, writing a family memoir. Even if it only gets distributed in your family, I think that would be a cool thing to work on. It might be nice for everyone to have that.

            1. nep*

              My mom asked her sisters and brothers and nieces and nephews to write about a moment/event in their lives that transformed them and taught important lessons. She’s going to put all the entries together and send the booklet to the younger generation. People seem to have appreciated this opportunity to share and express — even those who are not in the habit of writing; they’ve produced some nice stuff. It’s been an interesting process thus far.

      3. nep*

        I’ve mentioned this book before — it’s worth a look. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Yeah, it’s not much fun watching certain people flit around all “EEEEEE We just sent out invitaaaaations life is sooooo goood right nooooow”

        Shut the hell up. Just shut up. It’s all going to go horribly wrong anyway, you unsuspecting idiot.

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            Sorry Alison…I think some of us are having a dark and twisty moment (see: Grey’s Anatomy) and I include myself in that. Winter is hard.

  28. Calla*

    Surgery advice!

    I’m getting major surgery in 2 weeks (chest reduction) and I’ve been on a shopping spree to make sure I’m as comfortable as possible. So far, I have:

    – Comfy pajamas
    – A new pillow
    – Also a wedge pillow (apparently sleeping elevated helps)
    – Heat pad
    – Pill organizer
    – One of those cups with a built-in straw
    – Dry shampoo
    – Face/body wipes
    – Will be stocking up on easy snacks the weekend before

    and LOTS of books on my kindle app, of course.

    any other suggestions?

    1. Calla*

      also this is my FIRST TIME with any kind of surgery, unless you count getting my wisdom teeth out when I was 18.

    2. nep*

      Great list. What comes to mind: Super comfy footwear/slippers; a couple magazines you like but you might not normally buy — could be a nice treat here; dental floss; headbands or anything that makes dealing with your hair easier.
      All the best to you. Do keep us posted.

      1. Calla*

        Okay, dumb question: this is the second time I’ve seen slippers recommended (the other time on a reduction post-surgery recommended supply list). Is there a particular reason? Does it have to do with making any walking I have to do as comfortable as possible, and barefoot is not good? I’m just curious because I’m not usually a slippers person and I envisioned myself in bed or on the couch most of the time anyway.


        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I think it’s just that your feet may get cold, and you may not want to walk in some areas barefoot, and many people have trouble getting shoes on after surgery, depending on what kind of operation it was.

          Are you reading using the Kindle app on a tablet? If not, I’d recommend a reading light. Come to think of it, a pocket flashlight might be good for nighttime bathroom trips, considering you will be in a strange room where you don’t know the furniture.

          1. Calla*

            You know what, I TOTALLY forgot that I will be spending one night in the hospital, which makes the slippers and flashlight (which I also saw at that list) make total sense. Thank you!

            1. danr*

              If you’re in the hospital, you’ll have slipper socks on your feet. They’re cotton socks with non-slip nubbies on the bottom. And, you might need help getting to the the toilet, since you might hooked up to IVs. Make sure you know where the call button is.

              1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

                I have found that the slipper socks aren’t warm enough for me, and they don’t want you walking around in socks that aren’t non-slip, so the slippers are great.

          2. ExceptionToTheRule*

            Yeah, your feet will get colder faster than almost any part of your body but your fingers & slippers are easier to get on/off than socks. Movies & puzzle books would be on my list as well. When you have NOTHING to do all day but sleep, you want a variety to keep your mind busy or to induce sleeping.

        2. nep*

          Perhaps it comes to mind for me because I don’t like walking anywhere barefoot — have to have something on my feet. I’ve never found proper slippers I find comfortable — I wear flip-flops around the house…couldn’t be easier to slip on and off.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Do they expect your range of motion to be limited in any way? My aunt had extensive surgery due to cancer. She had limited range of movement in her arms and needed to do exercises to help bring that back quicker.

          I have seen other people say they had no problem. So I think it varies person to person. But ask questions about reaching things on the floor (including your feet) and reaching things that are overhead. Plan on taking birdbaths for a short bit. And make a plan for washing your hair.

    3. fposte*

      Do you have to stay overnight in the hospital, or are you going home that day? Mostly out of curiosity, but there might be additional recommendations if you’re staying in the hospital.

      If you don’t have somebody else at home cooking for you, I’d stock up on more than snacks–I suspect standing for very long may make you sorer, so having stuff you can just nuke will be a blessing. I’d also stock up on ice packs as well as the heating pad, since ice is often better for inflammation. Additionally, make sure you’ve got a decent supply of your preferred over the counter NSAID, because the doctor might move you onto that before you feel like going shopping. I’d also buy or borrow a bunch of pillows, not just one new one, so that you have pillow Lego blocks to build a variety of configurations. Given the nature of the surgery, I might have non-pullover–button, or better yet, wrap/tie–pajamas available as well, since I’m wondering if it’ll be uncomfortable to raise your arms over your head.

      Also, if you’re the bill-payer, get anything coming up in the next few weeks paid and out of the way before you go in, because your brain might not be focused on that kind of thing for a while.

      1. Calla*

        I will be spending the night in the hospital. I will have my wonderful fiancee home with me for the first few days 24/7, and then after that she’ll still be home mornings/evenings to cook :)

        I’ve read that surgeons may have special instructions about icing so I’ve held off on that part. And all the new pajamas are got are button-down because you are indeed right about not lifting my arms!

        Bills are a GREAT idea though, I most likely will not be thinking about that for a while so good to get it out of the way beforehand. Thank you for the advice!

        1. fposte*

          Oh, that’s nice that your fiancée is going to be on hand–that’s going to be a terrific help. It also means that you can send her out for anything you didn’t think of in advance, so that takes away some of the prep stress.

          Hope it all goes well!

        2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          I’ll add too that I bought some new and cute yoga pants/sweats before a surgery one time, and it was really nice that i did not look totally awful for three weeks while I was already feeling bad.

          1. fposte*

            Oh, that reminds me–if you’re a regular haircut person think about getting one really close to surgery. I didn’t, and I found it really disheartening to be straggly *and* convalescent at the same time.

            1. Calla*

              Yes, I just got a haircut on Friday! It was getting long and I knew I wouldn’t want that frustration on TOP of not being able to wash it for a couple days.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Good luck!
      I would say, don’t skimp on your pain meds. They might make you feel like a zombie, but TAKE THEM. On schedule. Don’t do what I did and try to tough it out to get off them faster–that only made me feel worse. (After gallbladder removal)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s because it’s true!!!

          I hated them–the hydrocodone they put me on made me comatose and I had so much trouble going to the loo! But when I tried to scale back, OMG. I can’t believe they send you home after GB surgery. That’s major abdominal stuff. They have to dig under your liver to get the damn thing!

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        Third that. There is no reason to be scared of short term pain meds. You will heal faster if you can move around a bit without agony. However, they are VERY dehydrating, so drink whatever you can get down mass quantities of. This will also reduce nausea and GI related problems. I’m not a sugary drink person, but gatorade is a must for me with those meds.

    5. Alma*

      A long handled grabber for picking up things you drop, nudging the can of soda close enough to the front of the fridge, and for reaching things in the back of the dryer. They make t hem, but I made do with 18″ long pair of silicone tipped tongs. The very first morning after back surgery I dropped my undies on the floor. D@mn. With the tongs I grabbed them and was successful at putting them on.

      1. LCL*

        Yes, the grabber. They are very useful.
        Also do any chores that requires moving things around before you go, this includes getting all your laundry done and in a place where you can get to it easily. Probably a little walk to get clean clothes would be good but not the stairs since you will be taking pain meds.

    6. But What About The Nisha Call?*

      Find a good TV series to binge watch afterwards to distract yourself from post surgery discomfort. Put the first few episodes on your tablet/phone/laptop and take to the hospital. Keep watching at home between post surgery naps. I had fairly major surgery about a year ago and found that bit was really awkward physically to hold up my book or Kindle, so I really preferred finding a comfy position in my recliner and watching TV.

      1. Calla*

        Ugh I’ve been counting on books because I’m sooo much pickier with TV and movies, but you’re probably right. I guess I have 2 weeks to find some shows I’ll like!

    7. Schmitt*

      I had this done in July. Sleeping sitting up was SO VERY VERY VERY VERY IMPORTANT. It really, really reduced the overnight swelling and tenderness. Did I use enough caps there? Cause I slept sitting up for at least a month. I also could not sleep on my side for about a month after that.

      I went for a walk first thing every morning which helped dissipate any remaining overnight swelling and tenderness.

      Unpopped popcorn frozen in freezer bags is nice and malleable, though loses the cold quickly. After the first few days (which for me were all in the hospital anyway) I didn’t have a problem with reaching up into the freezer at head level. Pulling shirts on over the head took a lot longer.

      What surprised me (and this is highly variable per person, so YMMV) was how long it took for it to stop hurting on car rides. Don’t plan any road trips of more than an hour or two in the first three months; I was finally OK for that by October.

      They switched me off hospital-level pain meds to ibuprofen after the first week – you can take up to 1200mg of ibuprofen per day and I did. That managed everything OK with the addition of the ice packs, though the third week was the worst for me in terms of pain.

      For after the bandages come off and the incisions are healed you’ll want a cream with lots of fat, I went through several large tubes of Bepanthen and am still using it after any exercise that stretches that area.

      If you can afford to splurge on some cute, comfy button-downs or zip-ups, it made me feel so much better to have some new stuff I really liked and looked good in right away. Surprisingly, most of my old clothing still fit since I’d been going with stretchy knits, but all of it was over-the-head and I wore zip-ups for about two months.

      1. Calla*

        I am REALLY glad I got the wedge pillow then!

        How long did you walk for? A friend just had the surgery at the beginning of the month and did a walk after a week and said she might have overdone it–but then she also admits she was wearing flip-flops which may not have been the best idea.

        That’s a really good point about clothes… I’ve refrained from buying non-PJs because friends have said you’ll be surprised at what fits/looks good afterwards, but I only own one thing that’s not over-the-head for work clothing (obviously, since with my current chest any button-up gapes) and you’re right I may not feel comfortable going back to that after just 2 weeks.

        Thanks for the advice!

        1. Schmitt*

          I’m sorry I didn’t check back last week! Maybe you’ll still see this. As I said I was in the hospital for a week and they encouraged me to be out and about pretty much ASAP. I did two fifteen minute walks a day after the first couple days. I was also off for three weeks afterwards and tried to do 20 – 30 minutes a day.

    8. Hlyssande*

      I had one of those in 2008 and it was outpatient, so I didn’t stay overnight.

      Do you have someone who is going to stay with you to help? My mom came up to stay with me and help me do things like get into and out of bed, handle food, and get dressed (also removing the bandages after x amount of time, don’t remember what it was). You won’t be able to raise your arms very well. I don’t think I would have managed without her.

      They may be mentioning the elevated sleeping because it’ll be much easier to get up that way. I can’t do that personally without a bolster under my knees because my back screams at me, so you may want to get one/repurpose an existing pillow for it. If you’re a side sleeper, it’s going to be pretty frustrating having to stay on your back. You might try sleeping in a recliner instead if you have one.

      Less shopping list and more advice/things to note:

      Also, if you end up with complications regarding blood pooling like I did, using maxi pads was loads better and cheaper than gauze pads in my bra. And they had the added bonus of not leaking.

      One thing that you want to be very firm about with your surgeon is the cup size you’re planning to be. Maybe it was just that I had a really crappy surgeon (most likely, he was an ass), but ask them how they measure cup size – is it only collarbone to nipple, or do they take into account how bra sizes actually work? I asked to be a D afterward and I don’t even fill out a C cup.

      Another thing to expect is that the internal dissolving staples may migrate out as you heal. Don’t be worried, that’s normal. I was really concerned because they didn’t tell me it might happen. Just try not to pick at them like I did. :)

      Good luck! I hope you have a fantastic outcome!

  29. Natalie*

    Anyone have earbud recommendations? I destroy mine – throw my phone around with earbuds in my ears, so they get yanked out of the socket, stuff them in my pocket in a giant tangle, step on them, etc. I’ve gone through about one pair every 4 months.

    If they’re really, really tough I’d spend some decent money on them. Or, if they’re decent and cheap, I’ll buy a gross.

    1. skyline*

      I have the cheapest women’s yurbuds: they are small enough that they fit in my ears comfortably, but don’t fall out when I’m running. Plus, they weren’t terribly expensive, so I won’t feel bad when they finally die. I’ve had mine for almost two years now.

      On a side note, I use the technique in this video to wrap my headphones after a run. It’s significantly decreased the amount of tangles I have to undo.

    2. BRR*

      I love my sony in-ear ones from target. $15 bucks and decently sound proof. I have a pair for work and a pair for the gym.

    3. Otter box*

      These wouldn’t really wrap up in your pocket, and I’m not sure how well they’d stand up to really rough use, but I bought a pair of the LG Tone Pro Bluetooth headphones and I love them. They don’t yank out of your ears because they’re not physically connected to your phone, they have great battery life and sound, and they’re easy to wear all day and forget about. I love mine. They’re $69 and for me at least they are worth every penny. I’ve had mine since June and I usually throw them in my very cluttered purse and they’ve still held up so far.

      It might not be what you’re looking for, but I was a total skeptic (they do look weird) and now I’m a total convert. They also have fancier, more expensive versions, but I’m perfectly happy with the cheaper ones.

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Last time I bought earbuds I got some made by Skull Candy at Walmart. They were pretty cheap, and the sound is surprisingly good.

      1. LAMM*

        That’s what I normally get for my boyfriend, who has been known to accidentally cut the cords while at work (he works in a machine shop). You can find them on sale for $5 occasionally, which is when I buy a couple to stockpile.

      2. Anna Moose*

        Skullcandy is my favorite! They also have a generous warranty policy. Skullcandy will send you a 50% off coupon if you break your earbuds or replace them for free if it’s a manufacturing defect. All you have to do is pay for shipping the earbuds back to them. It cost me about $3 for shipping.

  30. everyone else is moving on...*

    I’m having one of those FML weeks. It seems like everyone around me has exciting stuff going on – being recruited for great jobs, buying homes, going on luxury vacations, getting pregnant. I’ve been looking for a new job for the past year and have had disappointment after disappointment. I’ve been dating the same person for years but he hasn’t proposed. I can only dream of buying a home or going on a really nice vacation because I’m just trying to scrape together enough for a down payment on a house.

    I just feel others’ lives are moving on and I’m still. Right. Here. Sorry to be a downer…just trying to get through this really difficult patch.

    1. Hypnotist Collector*

      You’re not alone. Hard to remember sometimes that comparison is the thief of joy (and I don’t remember who said that, but it’s a useful homily). I hope your disappointments come to an end and good things come to you!

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      It can look like that from the outside, ‘everyone else…’ but you don’t know what goes on in the background. For example – getting pregnant – maybe it’s taken them time to get pregnant, maybe they are worried about money and so on.

      It’s easy to assume everyone has the perfect life, especially when there are things going on in yours that you aren’t happy with.

      Even though you can’t go on holiday, is there somewhere in your city that you really like, that you could go, treat yourself to something to eat/drink, dress up, wear something pretty.

      Your partner – well, perhaps it is time for a “where are we going/where do you see us going?” talk. I’ve been impatient for a ring before but was happy enough to take “I see you being in my life for a long time” or something along those lines (just as well, because he is now an ex).

      Believe me, I do know what it’s like and I feel much like this myself right now (even though I am not job hunting and don’t have a partner).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Change one thing you are doing. It does not matter what it is, go ahead and change one thing. See where that puts you. Then change a second thing. See where that puts you. It does not matter what you change. It could be you decide, “THAT dog of mine IS going to obedience school- I need his behavior to change”. It could be that you decide to eat more salads. Or it could be that you decide to call your dearest cousin more often. Make that one change, see how that goes and then make another small change. Keep doing this until you feel a tad different about how life is going.

  31. Trixie*

    My six months of part-time group fitness instruction led me to apply at new big national gym opening next month. I “auditioned” this week and was offered position! I’m not sure my 5 minute demo was that impressive–I think that’s just how the mass hirings work for something like this. I’m still stunned I don’t need the official 200 hours of yoga training but maybe like other fields a little experience goes a long way. I am glad I pursued this last year and am excited to see what happens with it this year.

  32. Persephone Mulberry*

    Whee! I’ve started to put some of my artsy-craftsy stuff up on Etsy, and on Monday this week another Etsy user with like 3500 followers highlighted one of my pieces (added it to a Treasury list, if you speak Etsy), which caused it to pick up another 25 “favorites”! Still no actual sales and things died down by Tuesday, but it was fun while it lasted. :D

    1. Sourire*

      I like the flower necklace a lot as well. I tend to wear much smaller jewelry though, or else I’d snap it up. I did add you to my favorites and will keep checking in though :)

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      like a poster above, if the flower necklace wasn’t so big, I’d buy it. Could you make it without the central flower?

      Congrats on the amount of followers! :)

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      Thnkas for the nice words, guys! Now you’ve got me thinking about variations for the plumeria necklace; I’ve been planning a pendant that’s just the center flower, but it’s good to learn that a scaled-back version of the original design would also be appreciated.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      Wow, that’s awesome! Maybe it’s just a matter of people thinking about your stuff before they buy. You never know, one day you could be the one with the huge following.

  33. Sourire*

    So I *just* got back from vacation and am already jonesing to go again. Problem is, I’m single and don’t necessarily want to do another family vacation again so soon. I’m a little wary of traveling with friends (have heard too many horror stories and most of my friends are in long term relationships anyway) so I think I’m going to go solo. I’ve done one solo cruise before and I’m not sure if I want to cruise again or just pick a destination. Anyone have any solo travel experiences they want to share? Norwegian cruise lines has a couple of ships that have solo cabins and a solo cruisers lounge and that sounds interesting – has anyone experiences staying in those studio cabins?

    For reference, I’m a 28 year old female from the US East Coast.

    1. skyline*

      What sort of vacations do you like? Cultural sightseeing, relaxing on a beach, hiking/exploring/roughing it? I’ve done solo trips to Maui and Japan from the West Coast. A decade ago, when I was living on the East Coast, I did a solo trip to Vancouver, Canada (tacked onto the end of a business trip) and really enjoyed that. I’ve generally liked traveling solo, but have limited myself to shorter trips when traveling alone. I think I would have started feeling lonely during an extended solo trip.

      1. Sourire*

        Oooh good question. I probably should’ve mentioned I’m not the camping type nor would I really be into a hostel type situation at this point in my life. I love the cultural stuff, anything food related (some of my favorite things I’ve done on vacations have been various food tours that integrated culture and history with local cuisine), and would be open to moderate adventurous/activity type things like hiking, ziplining, kayaking, but am certainly not an athlete. Beaches are okay, and I do like sailing as well. I’d probably enjoy pretty much anything as long as there is functional indoor plumbing! lol

        I’ve done a lot of the US (Canada/NE and Pacific coastal), Caribbean, both coasts of Mexico and studied abroad in Italy/did a Mediterranean cruise. I’ve love to go somewhere more exotic (or exotic to me anyway, I guess that’s a bit ethnocentric isn’t it – calling a place people call home exotic) but I do get a little nervous about it being a single female. So any advice from anyone on that would be great as well.

        1. skyline*

          I share your feelings on camping, hostels, and importance of plumbing. :)

          When I went to Japan, I went with almost no ability to Japanese. I was familiar with the basic courtesies and could just about count to ten. I found I was able to get around really easy because I was in a major city with enough tourism that there were multilingual signs and people used to dealing with English-speaking tourists. I mostly stuck to the usual sights, and there were plenty of those, so I didn’t feel bored. If I was going somewhere more off the beaten track, I would probably want a little more competence in the local language.

          Before I decided to go to Japan, I thought hard about going to Belize. A coworker took a long vacation there with his wife and really liked it. If I lived on the East Coast, I’d probably also look into vacations in the Caribbean. Being where I am, Hawaii is easier and cheaper. Next time I go, I’d like to to go to the big Island.

          1. Sourire*

            If you go to Belize (and it was very pretty/the ruins were really interesting) bring bug spray! That is one of the places I just got back from and the bug bites were just horrid. You don’t feel them or notice them until you look down and wonder why you’re bleeding all over the place, then they welt up a bit but after a day or two you think, hey, this isn’t too bad, they don’t even itch. Then days 3-5 hit… I was itching like crazy. I must have completely glossed over all of the warnings to bring bug spray before we left.

            1. skyline*

              Ack, thanks for the warning. They say that certain people tend to attract more insect bites, and I am definitely one of those people. Plus, my reactions to bites seem to get more and more severe as I get older. Argh.

        2. CA Admin*

          There are some great river boat tours on the Douro in Portugal. The Douro Valley is where port and a lot of other types of Portuguese wines come from, so the tours are very wine/food focused. It’s also a gorgeous part of the country, so the site-seeing is fantastic.

    2. acmx*

      I’ve travelled to a handful of countries (and states) solo. Honestly, I prefer going with a friend but since most times it doesn’t work out (timing, finances, destination), I’d rather go alone and not at all.
      I don’t care for most cruises but if you chose a destination, you could always find a tour to go on (not necessarily for the whole trip but a day tour etc).

      Have fun!

    3. fposte*

      I like traveling alone. Never cruised, so I can’t speak to that. I find for me the important thing is to remember I’m not proving anything to anybody–that the goal is to have a good time, and sometimes that can mean going to bed or taking in a movie or sitting down over coffee for an afternoon as well as more adventurous activities. So flexibility is a good thing.

      1. acmx*

        I agree with that point. Just recently, someone thought I was nuts to not add on another destination/more time to an upcoming trip. I reminded myself that there are other places and things I want to do with my time off. But if he wanted to pay for my extended trip, by all means :)

      2. Sourire*

        I loved the flexibility/independence aspect of cruising by myself (and doing a couple days post cruise in Quebec City by myself as well). If I wanted to sleep until noon, I did. If I wanted to just hang out and read instead of going out at night, that’s what I did too. I have a really stressful job and really needed to relax when I booked it, so it was perfect. Hopefully this time around I’ll want to be out and exploring a bit more though.

        1. Sourire*

          Am sick of being alone, full stop. However since I don’t see that changing anytime soon, figure I might as well fill my time with things I love to do, even if I am doing them alone :)

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            I got into cruising a couple of years ago, and enjoy getting to see lots of different places in one go, plus having crew members looking out for you as a solo traveller is nice.

            That said, my last cruise was a bit lonely as there were no other solo travellers and all the other passengers were in couples/family groups/gang of chums.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              This is why I’m tired of being/traveling alone! Everywhere you go, people are with their posse–nobody is alone and you can’t even talk to anyone because if you’re not part of their group, they don’t even see you, or if they do, they think something’s wrong with you because you are by yourself.

              People tell you to go out and do stuff and you’ll meet people. It just is. not. true. They don’t make any effort to meet others outside that clique. Christ, it’s like the world is just one huge middle school.

              1. Lore*

                I went on one big trip with G Adventures–a group of 11 that had 3 solo travelers in it. It was kind of perfect–they handle all the lodging and transportation but while in a place you’re on your own. I did stuff with other people and stuff by myself different days.

              2. Sourire*

                Have you tried cruising? I’ve founded people are really much more willing to “adopt” you into their group than on other types of trips. Like I said I have only cruised alone once, but I cruise a lot with family and none of them are the type who goes out at night, so I end up being pretty solo after about 9 or 10 pm. I’ve met some awesome groups of people at all sorts of activities that were very welcoming and I always felt like I kind of had a “home” with them when I saw them on the ship.

                Some of the activities I’ve had the best luck meeting people at are trivia, watching games in the sports bar, going out dancing in the club area at night, and best of all the chefs table (almost all mainstream cruise lines do this). Now, you have to love food to do this because it’s a HUGE and expensive meal, but you’re with a small group for 3 hours, the wine is flowing, and by the end you feel like you’re all best friends. I may in fact being going on another trip with an awesome couple I met on this last one.

                I have experienced the cliquey thing you’re talking about, but I’ve found it’s about an equal ratio of people who look at you like you’re odd for asking if you can join their trivia group or something versus those who are awesome and welcoming. For some reason, maybe because you’re stuck on a ship with the same people for a week, people seem to be more friendly/inclusive. That’s also why I was looking into the Norwegian solo cabins, I guess they cater very much to the solo cruiser, have a whole lounge for just the solos to meet up and find dinner mates, etc. If I end up doing it, I’ll report back.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I used to want to go on a cruise, but I could never afford it. I used to not care if I did stuff by myself, but I no longer want to go alone. I’m tired of not having someone to look at cool stuff with. I’m tired of living inside my head. When you’re always alone, nothing has meaning to anyone but you, and there is no one to share your thoughts with. Writing doesn’t help. It’s probably a good thing that I don’t drink.

                  I can’t make anyone understand so I’ll shut up now.

    4. But What About The Nisha Call?*

      I absolutely LOVE traveling by myself! And I’m incredibly lucky that my husband totally supports it — when I travel, I go to destinations he’s not particularly interested in seeing. I’ve never done group tours, as I enjoy planning my own itinerary and doing whatever strikes my fancy at the moment when I’m traveling. There are a lot of good solo travel blogs out there with suggestions and resources (especially for solo women): http://www.solotravelerblog.com, http://www.travelettes.net, and a bunch of others listed here: https://www.flipkey.com/blog/2014/11/03/top-25-solo-female-travel-bloggers-to-follow-in-2015/. I recently got back from a solo trip to Spain (Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Barcelona), which was absolutely fantastic! Currently debating between a trip to Vietnam or a trip to Italy in the fall. Happy travels!

      1. Dan*

        I’m heading off to Vietnam on my own over Xmas/NYE. I’m packing in some other stuff along the way. I’m a big foodie, so I’m going to actually fly into Penang, Malaysia, make a quick stop at Siem Reap, then do two weeks in Vietnam, spend a weekend in Hong Kong, and then head home. It’s going to be packed, but this is all stuff I want to see.

        I have a lot of frequent flyer miles, so while I’ve seen a bit of Europe, I’m waiting until I run out of miles to see the rest of it. I use my miles to fly business or first class to far away places. I can suck up 8 hours in coach to Europe.

    5. Revanche*

      I did a solo 3 week trip to the east coast a while back. I found that it helped to go someplace I had some friends to stay with on a drop in basis (I could come and go as I pleased, we didn’t have concrete plans or expectations since I was the only one on vacations but we’d have meals together occasionally) but otherwise I ran around town making my own explorations.

      A cruise sounds neat but I’ve never done one at all so can’t comment! :)

    6. voluptuousfire*

      I traveled to Helsinki, Finland over New Year’s to visit friends. I got an inexpensive flight, a really nice and cheap room of AirBnB that was only a mile or two from the city center, etc. I highly recommend the city, especially in winter. It’s also much cheaper in the winter!

      Helsinki is a really beautiful city. Easily walkable, everyone speaks at least some English (if not fluent), and it’s a great city if you’re into design and the like.

    7. NBF*

      I’ve done several tours with with gadventures which does small group tours and never charge a singles supplement so they attract a lot of solo travellers. My sister has travelled with the similar company Intrepid. They both have a huge range of tours with different activity levels and different ranges of included activities vs free time. Most groups average 8-15 people. I have met many amazing people from all over the world on these trips and plan to do more in the future.

      1. Sourire*

        Thank you for the tip about gadventures – so many of their trips look amazing! If I may ask, what kind of age ranges did you and your sister find on these types of tours/trips? And did you find that it was mostly couples or a lot of singles as well?

        1. Lore*

          I did one long trip with two different groups when I was 40. Most of the people were mid 20s to late 30s but there were retirees in one group and some 50s-ish scientists in the other. I was also the only American which was interesting–British, Canadian, Dutch, German, Swedish, Australian, Japanese, and South African but no other Americans. I was on a pretty no frills trip too–might have been more older people in their next tier. Both groups were about 1/4 to 1/3 single travelers. And an odd number of single travelers, which meant I got my own room sometimes. I loved it.

    8. Samantha*

      Have you thought about doing a volunteer trip? It’s a great way to really experience a culture and meet people while also being involved. There are lots of ecotourism trips that combine sightseeing with anything from teaching to wildlife research to building schools.

    9. Chocolate Teapot*

      Epic, and the other NCL ships constructed afterwards, all have the solo traveller studios and a communal lounge with its own coffee machine, chocolate chip cookies and fridge full of small snacks (sandwiches, carrot sticks, yoghurts etc.). Every evening, there is a solo traveller gathering in the lounge and then some people may choose to have dinner, others see a show or meet up later for a party night.

      What I found was that the first couple of nights on the cruise, there would be a large group of solo travellers, then they would split up into separate little groups who would make their own plans for dinner/seeing shows/visiting a port/sunbathing together.

      If you are on the East Coast, presumably you could get the Breakway from New York, or Getaway or Epic from Miami?

    10. Vancouver Reader*

      My husband went to Thailand and Cambodia on his own a few years ago (I couldn’t go because of work). While he would’ve liked to have me there, it also opened up a lot of possibilities for him to do things and meet people he might not’ve if I had tagged along.

      Personally, if I were to travel solo, I’d probably do the cruise because I have no sense of direction and I’d just get lost. Heck, I get lost just on the ship.

    11. Cath in Canada*

      How do you feel about long train trips? I’ve had great experiences travelling solo on trains – all around Europe, Toronto-Vancouver, San Diego-Vancouver. You meet tons of really nice people and see a lot of gorgeous scenery.

      1. Sourire*

        I have never really been on a train for any length of time. Just from Long Island into NYC and short things like Florence to Pisa. I would be open to it though. When you talk about meeting people, do you mean on the train itself (and if so, how does that work?), or do you mean moreso at the destinations themselves. I had though about doing it for Europe but never really thought about the US or Canada for whatever reason, and the routes you mentioned sound really interesting to me so I may have to look into that.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          On the train itself. I always spent most of my time talking to the people whose assigned seats were near mine, but I’ve also met people in the snack car, the glass-topped sight-seeing car, the bar car, and at dinner (if you’re not in a group of four they’ll assign you to a table with other singles). You almost form a small temporary community, where you all know each other’s names and destinations.

          I once heard someone on board one of the trains say “Amtrak people are the same people as NPR people”, which is mostly true in my experience!

    12. Dan*

      I’ve been to 21 countries (gonna hit up #22, 23, and 24 this year). Most of the time I go by myself, but I’ve done some with my dad, a friend, and my ex. The nice thing with the ex was that she was a built in travel partner, and didn’t have to worry about scheduling and finances. Other people require negotiation, although I’ve found it helps to say “I’ve planned X and booked it. Want to join me?”

      At your age, traveling solo is a-ok. There’s a huge “hostel” culture pretty much everywhere outside the US. I can pretty much guarantee you that if you show up by yourself, you’ll find plenty of people in the same boat quickly. You just have to know where to look. BTW, if you’ve never done hostels, they’re not all bunk beds in a dorm. Many have single rooms with bathrooms. Those rooms don’t usually come cheap in Western countries, anywhere from $60-$100 depending on where you are. But in cheap countries like many in Asia, you can get rooms for $30.

      Generally speaking, I’m not a huge cruise fan. Biggest reason is that I’m a foodie, and cruises feed you on the ship. I actually want to be eating in the city that I’m visiting. With most cruise itineraries, that leaves you with lunch because the ship is pulling out around dinner time. Granted, some places aren’t huge food destinations, so cruising is a bit more tolerable then.

      Most of the time, I’m traveling to lands far, far away, to places that you may very well consider exotic. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’ve accumulated a very large stash of frequent flier miles (probably around 2 million over the last few years). I pick my destinations based on how far flung they are, where flying in business or first class would be worthwhile. I’ve seen most of Asia, heading off to Australia in a couple of months, and looking at South Africa late next year. I’ll do the rest of Europe when the miles game falls apart and I have to start buying tickets again. I’ve got something in the works for Vietnam later this year.

      I get a lot of leave at my job, and for awhile, I was taking one month-long vacation every year. I’m trying to switch that up for a couple of reasons: 1) Every time I go for a month, that last week is miserable, I feel like I have to push myself through it. 2) A year between trips gets kind of long. 3) I need to blow off my stash of miles before the programs devalue too much and my stuff isn’t worth anything.

      Being able to do stuff because *you* want to is really liberating. Strangely, I don’t think I’d want a partner who wouldn’t travel at all, even if they let me do what I want.

    13. HR Manager*

      I love traveling alone – most of my best trips were single trips. As long as you stay away from remote areas that have any political instability (middle east, some African or Latin American countries) or a huge cultural taboo against woman and single travelers (Dubai, India, etc.), I think you should be ok.

      I am itching to go to Italy, Spain, Austria and Korea. I think those would be awesome ‘alone’ trips.

  34. Temp Anon*

    Alison, feel free to remove this if it’s outside the scope of this blog. I debated about posting it, but the thought of asking my mother about this is somewhat horrifying.

    Is the gynecologist someplace you’re supposed to go regularly, or only if there’s a problem? I’m looking at becoming sexually active at some point in the next year or two, probably, and I’m wondering if I should be scheduling an appointment either beforehand or within a year afterwards or something? Or if you don’t have to go until you’re at more of a cervical cancer risk age? I don’t know. I also need to get my HPV vaccinations since I didn’t have parental consent to get them when I was supposed to. I just have no idea how to go about any of this.

    1. skyline*

      Just one data point…but my primary care physician has handled all my preventative care in this area. I haven’t needed to see a specialist yet.

      1. Judy*

        I never saw a gynecologist until I was pregnant. My GPs over the years took care of everything, exams and bc. I still see her 12 years later, because I like her, but if she wouldn’t be available, I’d most likely go back to my GP for that care unless there were problems.

    2. fposte*

      It’s generally good to see somebody regularly, not just when there’s a problem, but “someone” isn’t necessarily a gynecologist–I see a primary care physician for my gyno exams, for instance, and since you’re looking at HPV vaccinations a primary care physician might be a good place to start. You don’t mention if you’re going to need prescription contraception–if you might be wanting that, obviously that’s another reason to get somebody in line before there’s a problem. If you don’t have a primary care physician (or if you’re still in the habit of going to your pediatrician and don’t want to bring this there), Planned Parenthood can be a good place to go.

      It sounds like you’re thinking about it all very sanely, so good for you.

      1. LAMM*

        Seconding Planned Parenthood. I found them to be extremely helpful when I started going for birth control. The ones by me tend to be helpful and willing to explain things thoroughly when needed, which was a relief – at 17 I didn’t really know much about any of that kind of stuff, and it wasn’t something I felt comfortable talking to my regular physician about since my pediatrician and parent’s physician were in the same office (and my mom was friends with the nurses). Plus they have a sliding payment scale if you were without insurance, which is actually pretty affordable.

        Also, if you decide to get birth control and the option you choose doesn’t work for you, tell them about it and try another method. For example, I do horribly on the pill. My cramps and whatnot actually get worse. But by talking through my options with someone, I was able to get on a BC method that worked for me.

          1. salad fingers*

            *Usually* complete pros. The first and last time I went to Planned Parenthood the doc left me in stirrups with the door of the room open for several minutes in the busy clinic. I’m sure this is a fluke and I certainly don’t want to discourage new patients from going, but I was like 0_0.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I love them too. They were all the healthcare I had when I was working in food service and had no insurance. That is one reason I get so mad when people try to shut them down.

          1. Mander*

            Yes, me too. I used to go there for annual exams even when I wasn’t sexually active because I didn’t have any other insurance.

    3. Calla*

      What skyline said, my PCP takes care of the exam/pap smear so that’s certainly something you could ask yours. Anytime from beforehand (to ask about birth control, see if there are any pre-existing things you should know about, etc) to a year after you become active is fine. Going forward, I think the recommendation is every 3-4 years once you’re sexually active; some doctors still may push for every year but it’s not necessary.

      1. TL -*

        PAP smear every 2-4 years, depending on your risk factors/doctors, but a physical examination every year is the current recommendation.

        1. Calla*

          Oh yeah a regular physical yearly, but I meant the pelvic exam, which the American College of Physicians says is not needed annually.

          1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

            My gyn freaks out about this. A pelvic exam is still recommended every year. It’s just the 10 seconds of that that is the pap test that can be done every few years. She said tons of people have misunderstood, which means they are missing several other annual screenings, including a breast exam. Also, if you are on prescription birth control, most docs require an annual exam.

            1. Calla*

              That is not the ACP’s recommendation:

              PHILADELPHIA, July 1, 2014 — Many women and physicians believe that a pelvic examination should be part of annual well visits, but an analysis of the current evidence by the American College of Physicians (ACP) shows that the harms outweigh any demonstrated benefits.

              ACP’s new evidence-based clinical practice guideline, “Screening Pelvic Examination in Adult Women,” was published today in Annals of Internal Medicine, ACP’s flagship journal. ACP’s guideline is based on a systematic review of the published literature on human subjects in the English language from 1946 through January 2014.

              “Routine pelvic examination has not been shown to benefit asymptomatic, average risk, non-pregnant women. It rarely detects important disease and does not reduce mortality and is associated with discomfort for many women, false positive and negative examinations, and extra cost,” said Dr. Linda Humphrey, a co-author of the guideline and a member of ACP’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Committee. Dr. Humphrey notes that this guideline does not apply to Pap smear screening, only the pelvic examination.

              ACP states that when screening for cervical cancer, the recommended examination should be limited to visual inspection of the cervix and cervical swabs for cancer and for some women human papillomavirus (HPV), and does not need to include the bimanual examination. ACP found that the diagnostic accuracy of the pelvic examination for detecting gynecologic cancer or infections is low. ACP advises that the pelvic examination is appropriate for women with symptoms such as vaginal discharge, abnormal bleeding, pain, urinary problems, or sexual dysfunction.


              In the Field’s link below also shows that the pelvic exam is not needed annually.

    4. Bloop*

      Truthfully the only preventive care I’ve done before becoming sexually active was to get the HPV shot and get tested (more as a demonstration of good faith that actually worrying that I actually got an infection from nowhere). Otherwise, I don’t know if there’s much a GYN will do for you beforehand unless you’re exhibiting symptoms of something.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Well, contraception–although you can get a scrip for pills from a GP, generally anything more involved will require a trip to the gynecologist. An IUD, implants, etc., will all probably require more than a pill scrip.

      2. Natalie*

        You should be getting Pap smears annually or every few years, depending on age and other risk factors. Even with the HPV shot, regular screening is important because cervical cancer is incredibly treatable if caught early.

        1. Shell*

          Huh. Might be different in the US, but I can definitely get scrips from a GP–various pills, Novaring. The shot or implant might require a gyn (I’ve never tried), but the more common BP methods don’t require a gyn. Neither do paps or physical exams.

          With how long the wait is for more specialized doctors in Canada, I’d be surprised if anyone here went to a gyn just for a pap smear. In fact, I think everything you and TL mentioned can be done by a GP here, except for maybe the implant or shot.

          1. TL -*

            Can be done by a gp; I’d so much rather see a gyno than a gp for this stuff but what’s important is getting the exam not necessarily who provides it.

      3. TL -*

        They can establish a baseline for what’s “normal” for you, check for early signs of some diseases, discuss your risk factors for other diseases, and talk long-term family planning if that’s something you’re interested in.

        They can also help determine whether or not your normal is actually normal, as a lot of people don’t talk about this stuff and there are some things that you may be living with that you don’t have to be, like exceptionally heavy or painful periods, ect…

        You should definitely see an OB/GYN at 18 or at becoming sexually active, whichever comes first, and should continue seeing one – or having an annual checkup with your PCP – every year thereafter. This does not always include a PAP smear, but it should include testing if you’re active and a physical examination of the bits that are not normally examined.

    5. Anon for this one*

      So this is definitely influenced by my own experiences but I think I would have felt much more comfortable with my first OBGYN visit if I wasn’t there because I was a scared 17 year old with what I thought was (and was then confirmed to be) an STD (and I had never once not used a condom btw, so just be aware that they don’t prevent everything, not to get all sex ed over here or anything). It was an uncomfortable visit and I think had I established a relationship with the OB before for something like a birth control prescription, yearly pap, etc it might have been a little easier for me.

    6. Natalie*

      An official gynecologist, you don’t necessarily need to see regularly. But you should be seeing someone (a primary care doc or a nurse practitioner) every year for a check up. Once you’re sexually active, that check up should include a pap and pelvic exam. (Recommendations have changed recently and older women with no abnormal result history can drop down to once every 3-5 years.) it’s also a good opportunity to check in on anything you might have questions about – weird discharge, birth control side effects, whatever.

      I’ve been seeing an np or a general internist annually since I was 16, and the only time I ever saw a real gyno was when I needed a colposcopy.

    7. TL -*

      If you’re thinking about becoming sexually active, schedule one now. (especially since you’re not comfortable talking to your mother). You can ask questions about birth control, sex, schedule vaccinations, and get resources of where to go/what to do if there are issues. Your PCP may be able to handle this, but if you’re not comfortable, I’d say find an OB/GYN or nurse practitioner within an OB/GYN’s practice.

      If you’re generally unsure or feel uninformed about this topic in general – and I’m assuming you’re fairly young, correct me if I’m wrong – check out Planned Parenthood for in-person, Scarleteen (website; just google “Scarleteen”) for written articles, and Laci Green on YouTube for videos. All are excellent resources for learning about sexual health, behaviors, and how to navigate sexual relationships successfully, which includes taking good care of your body. :)

        1. TL -*

          You’re welcome! If you think of it/are comfortable, let me know how helpful they were from an LGBT perspective – I recommend them all the time and feel they’re fairly inclusive but that’s from a straight perspective; I’d like to know if I should search for better resources.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Is Scarleteen lgbt friendly? I’ve always given my daughter resources for her health and about her body, and she’s recently told me that she thinks she’s a lesbian, so I wonder what websites are good for sexual health info. She just turned 18 and hadn’t had any relationships yet.

        1. TL -*

          It has good reviews for being more inclusive and just generally great for helping teens navigate their sexuality- Laci Green’s videos also always have resources/links in the description, if you want to dig around in her LGBT specific ones, you’re almost sure to find something.
          I’ve heard really good things about it, but I’m hesitant to give it a glowing recommendation because I’m straight and most of the people who I’ve heard talk about it are straight or orientation unknown by me.

        2. Felicia*

          It is! It’s not an LGBT focus though, but they do have some content , and it is good (i am a lesbian, 6 years older than your daughter, don’t know how much cred that gives me!)

          Also what was really really helpful for me at her age was to meet other lesbians of my same age or slightly order. The group for LGBT teens/young adults at the nearby community centre was literally life saving for me.

          If you want something with a specific LGBT focus , rather than Scarleteen, which is great and LGBT friendly, but not specific(because we get so little that focuses on us, even in inclusive spaces it can be hard to be such a minority) this is something i found helpful: http://www.impactprogram.org/research/projects/queer-sex-ed/#sthash.Hg7xiasn.dpbs , but there isn’t much really which is sad. Which is why other people who “get it” are an important component.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            Thank you! We are in a small town, but she has been active in the gay straight alliance at her high school (and has stood up to some parents, some teachers, and even her principal to do so), and I’m really proud of her for that. Also, we joined the Unitarian Universalist fellowship in the larger town nearby, and they have been wonderfully supportive. Our women’s group is at least fifty percent lesbians, ranging in age from her age to in their eighties, with all manner of life experiences that they are willing to share openly and frankly in the context of the group. One of the older straight women in the group is retired from a leadership position in Planned Parenthood and has fought for lgbt rights since the seventies. I know she needs a place separate from me where she can talk, too, but I think this is a good start for a supportive environment.

            1. Felicia*

              Ooh I didn’t even want to mention anything vaguely church related, even though Unitarian Universalist is super inclusive. But UU has a great sex ed program called Our Whole Lives that is super LGBT inclusive! Especially the young adult version. Does your congregation have the young adult version? Lots stop theres in middle school, but the one for 18-25 year olds was great! And should work if you go to a UU church.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Right now we only have the through middle school version, but the women’s group has been talking about reviving the 18 – 25 year old version. I hope they do!

    8. Temp Anon*

      Thanks for the advice everyone. I’m not concerned about birth control (lesbian) and I haven’t been to see my doctor in… five years or so. So I guess talking to her will be my first step, although she is also my mother’s doctor and I feel a bit uncomfortable about it? I may start by contacting Planned Parenthood, actually, thanks for that idea!

      1. Calla*

        Planned Parenthood is great; I don’t know where you are located but in general I feel like they are safer spaces for LGBT health (though my pcp’s practice has an equality logo on the front door which is nice and I’m pretty sure she’s gay too!).

      2. vvondervvoman*

        If you’re feeling any hesitation with sharing a provider with your Mom, I would just start with a new one right off. You don’t want to not tell them something out of fear/discomfort. PP is a great place, but be aware that some don’t take private insurance, so keep that in mind. If you are still on your parent’s insurance, be careful about the Explanation of Benefits (EOBs). They’re usually sent to the policy holder (parent) with a list of all the services that were billed, and it’d be obvious what you’re doing. So if you decide you can’t use private insurance, you’ll probably want to circle back to PP because they have some of the best rates for private pay.

        But yes HPV shots asap, and Pap smears once you turn 21 (regardless of your sexual history). It’s not that pelvic exams are necessary annually, but there’s no harm in them either. It’s nice to know you’re normal, and get your questions answered.

        The big thing I want to let you know is that lesbians statistically experience a lot of sexual health disparities, esp. with HPV, HIV, and cervical cancer. There’s the idea that lady sex is “safe” (I’m sure you know that’s not necessarily true) even amongst medical providers!! Whichever provider you choose, make sure they understand this by asking about your risk factors, and when they think you should be screened for STIs (with every new partner or yearly–this doesn’t change just because there isn’t a penis involved!).

      3. Anonsie*

        I extra-extra support the idea of going to Planned Parenthood then because sometimes family doctors are uh, not as kind or supportive with both young girls or with lesbians as they should be. They are often not as informed on what specific issues apply to you, either, and the folks and PP will be way more knowledgeable on that front.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          Also, the obgyn sees women for all sorts of things…childbirth, cancer, surgery, etc. PP is almost totally focused on the needs of young women who want to prevent pregnancy, STDs, etc. They tune in very quickly to where you are coming from and have LOADS of experience with people like you.

      4. Christy*

        and as a totally unofficial set of advice for safe sex: gloves for fingering and dental dams for oral. Condoms on toys and sterilizing toys between partners. If you’re buying new toys, please get silicone toys because those are actually sterilizable.

        And welcome to the world of sexually active lesbians! You should get shipped a toaster with your membership card. ;)

        And I always ask if the doctor is lgbt-friendly at my first visit, because it really makes me more comfortable. Just a thought. (I did it with my therapist too.)

        1. Felicia*

          I’ve been a member of the sexually active lesbians club for like 4 years and i still haven’t gotten my toaster!

          But seriously, seconding the LGBT friendly doctor. I’ve had bad experiences with not so good ones. My city has a list of specifically LGBT friendly doctors so that might be a good thing to look for.

    9. Anonsie*

      You should start going for exams three years after you become sexually active or 21, whichever comes first. If everything is normal, you only need to get one once every three years but if you get birth control you’ll have to pop in yearly to get your prescription renewed. That’s just an office visit, though, not an exam. You do NOT need an exam to get birth control as a rule, but many offices will require it just so they get everything together at the same time.

      You can see a gyno or you can often see your family doctor for this. I’ve always gone to Planned Parenthood because they have extended hours and it’s really easy to get an appointment (in most areas, they vary by region) and in my experience they’ll do more to help you if you’re in a dumb spot (like staying late when you need antibiotics for a UTI on the evening before they close for a holiday or calling in an emergency extra birth control pack when you forget to bring an extra on a vacation… both of which I’ve done). But this is also often true of your family doctor as well, it just depends. I mostly see a specialist for most of my health care so I’ve never had a good enough relationship with a family doctor to get any favors from one.

      You can get the vaccine at your regular doctor and sometimes at those in-and-out clinics at pharmacies and groceries. You should go in somewhere and start that ASAP, the earlier you get them the better your immune response is and the better sustained protection you have long term as well. They recently published some long-term studies on this and the results are really pronounced: earlier is way way better.

    10. Beezus*

      You’ve been given a lot of excellent advice already, I just want to say kudos to you for taking charge of your own health and asking questions like this!

  35. Tara*

    Learning to drive is terrifying. I drove after dark today and lost my perception of my place on the road a little bit due to the headlights. A car was driving up towards me and I thought I was a bit on their side of the road because of the pedestrians beside me so I corrected but it turns out I was actually in the middle perfectly and my ‘correcting’ actually brought me too close to the pedestrians. I don’t think I was actually in danger of hitting them, just a bit closer than comfy, but my mom yelled and it was really frightening and I’ve been quite teary and panicky ever since. If I hurt someone I don’t think I could ever forgiv myself. I hate, hate doing this. I’ve had my learner’s for almost two years and am just starting to actually learn. It’s so scary and I’m not so worried I’m going to have a panic attack on the road anymore, which was why I was avoiding it so hard to begin with, but my dad won’t stop telling me how lazy I am for not having my N yet and everytime I think about driving as a concept I just get upset. Plus my mom keeps getting frustrated with me and snapping as I’m trying to figure out how to back up, and I just wish I had $1500 to spend on a full driving course and I didn’t have to deal with this.

    1. TL -*

      What helped with my dad was anytime they started to yell at me, I pulled the car over and told him I couldn’t drive when he was yelling. He grabbed the steering wheel one time and I let go of it for the same reason – if he was going to drive, I certainly wasn’t going to fight with him over it. Don’t get upset; just pull over and wait until they’re done. Breath and think of something pleasant. If you’re upset, you shouldn’t be driving – it’s in the driver’s manual!

      It does get better and easier with practice, I promise!

    2. LAMM*

      Is there anyone else you can drive with? Another relative? Family friend? Read up on the rules on the permit. Typically the “adult” just has to be 21+. I didn’t get my license until I was 18, even though I had a permit because driving with my parents gave me anxiety. I refused to drive with my mother (but with the way she drives, it’s probably for the best). My brother still doesn’t have his license for the same reason. My parents haven’t connected the dots on that one yet. Even with the course, you typically have to drive a certain amount of hours (with a parent signing off on the driving) to complete it.

      I took drivers ed, then drove myself around town* (places a couple of miles away or less) through areas with 25-40 mph speed limits. Then I paid to have someone run me through a practice exam (through a drivers ed school – fee was like $50 IIRC). I was so nervous though, I still failed the real test first time (plus the guy was an ass).

      Also, do you wear glasses? If so, can you get a pair with anti-glare on them next time? I haven’t gotten this yet, but hear it helps. If not, you do get used to the terrifying second of “OMG I CAN’T SEE”. Just remember not to panic.

      * I DO NOT recommend doing this. The consequences of getting caught driving without a license are not fun. Also, you could get into an accident and seriously hurt someone. Not worth it.

      It gets better for most though! I hated driving at first, now my drive to work is one of my favorite parts of the day.

      1. Tara*

        The requirements where I am are a bit different, you have to drive with someone 25+ who’s had their license for more than 5 years, which leaves me with… my parents. There’s no hours requirement, but you have to pass a road test that you can’t take for a year, at which point you get an N and can drive on your own (with restrictions, one passenger only, 0.0 alcohol limit, some other ones I can’t remember). You have to have THAT for two years at which point you pass another road test and get a full license.

        No glasses, but sensitive eyes (bright lights have always bothered me but optometrist says my vision is fine).

        I actually talked to my mom about this after making this post and she apologized and promised to try to be more patient so that’s something!

        1. Shell*

          Ah, the graduated licensing program. Fun times. Hang in there.

          Is there any way you can modify your car with guide lights? Back when I first learned to drive, my dad (who is admittedly a very hands on, mechanically-inclined person) installed stick-on lights on the car right at the seam where the hood meets the rest of the car (he wired it…under the hood and into the actual car somehow). In other words, right beside the hood when the hood lifts up from the rest of the car. When it’s dark, I can always guarantee my car is centred properly if I align that little glowing light against the line marking the lanes.

          It won’t solve your headlight problem per se, but it can help you get a feel for your car’s alignment with the lanes.

        2. LAMM*

          That sounds similar to the graduated license program in my state (which you only have to go through if you are under 18 when you get your license). Here you have to be incident free (no tickets or at fault accidents) for a certain amount of time before you can go graduate from a restricted license to a regular one.

          One thing you’ll learn as you drive more, especially at night, is where those spots are that cause horrible glare when someone passes you at night. There’s a couple of roads around me that I avoid at night for just this reason.

          I’m glad your mom is willing to try and be more patient! TL has some good suggestions for if the yelling starts.

      2. Vancouver Reader*

        I’d say practice during the earlier hours on the weekend, when there’s less traffic on the road. I got my license when I was 16, but only recently learned how to drive a stick. For me, it was being in the right frame of mind when I finally got the hang of it. I’d tried for a few years but never felt confident and finally, I decided I could, and I did!

    3. Oh anon*

      You sound a little like me. I had to tell the person who taught mw how yo drive that they were not allowed to yell, it jarred my nerves and made learning horrible. You just need to take a deep breath and remember lota of people do this every day and you are at least as capable as everyone else. My first car had a manual transmission….. I’d get so nervous on hills when I had to stop or turning across a road, i was so scare i would stall the car – i did a few times, but practice makes perfect and really the only way you’re going to be comfortable is to do it often. If you have glasses, you definitely need anti-reflective lenses – help a lot with night driving. I have trouble at dusk and at night..the lights almost blind me,so i try not to look directly at them, but down toward the edge of the road (not the middle)… That helps a little and keeps me in my lane. Hang in there, you’ll get it. I wish I was able to tell parents who act like yours (and mine) THAT DOES NOT HELP!

    4. Natalie*

      This might sound like an odd question, but how’s your vision? I only found out I needed glasses when I began having trouble with night driving, and the things you describe is what I experienced. Sometimes vision that’s fine for day to day and even legal to drive with can be a hindrance.

      1. Tara*

        I was 20/20 last time I got checked but headlights have always bothered me; when I was little I couldn’t stare out the windows at night in the car because I found it blinding. I also find strobe lights make me very ill. Maybe I should go see an optometrist again? I never mentioned this to them specifically.

        1. Sourire*

          Not sure if it’s a different issue than yours (sounds like it might be, but worth mentioning nonetheless) but I had been fine with night driving and headlights, and then it started to deteriorate fairly quickly. It turned out my eyes had gotten dryer and eye drops, particularly if I put them in before driving, have helped me so much.

        2. Persephone Mulberry*

          My husband is an optician, and he says that even people with perfect vision may find anti-glare lenses helpful for night driving. So it might be worth trying out. Some eyewear places have a 30-day no-questions return policy, so you could try them and see if they help, and return them if they don’t.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          When I was learning to drive I was told to look at the side of the road away from the oncoming car. I am not sure if you are in the US, but here that means the passenger’s side. It will keep you on the road and it help with some of the glare.

          Make sure your windshield is clean inside and out. Yes, that will help with like the starburst effect, if you are seeing that.

          Until you learn something about spacial relationships behind the wheel, it is really to much for a new driver to go out on the road at night. Why. You are not sure where your car in relationship to everything else, for one thing. And secondly, at night you can’t always see where everything else is!

          1. Tara*

            Trust me, I agree. I didn’t want to drive after dark, but my mom insisted I would be fine. I have a feeling she won’t be insisting that anymore, thank god…

        4. Lamb*

          Definitely mention *these things specifically* to the optometrist. I don’t know about eyes, but in general you gotta mention your weird symptoms because sometimes it’s a thing they only check for if you mention the symptoms (why would they check you for some rare thing you mention 0 symptoms of, you know?)

        5. Observer*

          Maybe you should see an ophthalmologist. They are more likely to catch the causes of a problem like this. Considering that this is not a new problem, and your optometrist has said he sees no problem, it’s not that likely that you are going to get a different answer this time.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I was terrified too–the first time I drove in this city, I thought I would pee my pants! But I got used to it. It just takes practice. Now I drive like a boss, and I can parallel park really well (I’ve got my dad’s late neighbor to thank for that–RIP Dale).

      What TL- said; if they yell, pull over. No one can drive with someone screaming at them. Just calmly sit there until they shut up or calm down. Think of it like dealing with a tantrum-throwing toddler. ;)

    6. Not So NewReader*

      General stuff.
      Yeah, your folks can’t yell at you. Crying people do not learn. They are too busy crying. I hope you are able to really look around and make absolutely certain there is no other experienced driver to help you. It sounds like you need someone who does not have as close a personal relationship with you.

      Go to an empty parking lot. Seriously. Make circles, make lazy 8s. Practice driving straight. Practice backing up straight. Practice pulling into parking spaces. Stop the car. Get out. Look at your park job. Are you between the lines? Practice backing into parking spaces. It’s an empty lot, if you hit a car it is a “pretend car” not a real car.

      Get the feel for the gas pedal. I mostly use my big toe when I drive. I do not use my entire foot. Driving slow is harder (to me) than driving fast. So I think that practicing by driving slow is the best way to master driving.
      Wear shoes with thin soles. If you have a 2 inch sole on your shoe you cannot feel the pedal at all. It’s going to make learning so much more difficult.

      Okay, backing up. Hopefully the car you are driving has just a single bar straight across the steering wheel. (I guess I would describe it as right to left straight across the wheel? I hope I am making sense.) There other designs for steering wheels, but if your wheel is a circle with a straight bar through it that would make this a whole lot easier to explain, but here we go:
      When that cross bar is straight, your front wheels are straight and you will go straight. The same idea holds for driving in reverse. If you want to drive straight in reverse hold that cross bar straight across. I have seen experienced drivers (500-700 miles per week) that refuse to hold that wheel straight and are routinely baffled by why the car will not go straight in reverse. Am shaking my head.

      As you are doing here, keep finding people to talk about driving with. If you talk about different aspects of driving with people, you will find that it really helps to get oriented/acclimated to driving.

      1. Anonyby*

        I agree with practicing in empty parking lots! And the bigger, the better (though even small ones are good). This is what my mom would do with me when I was learning. And then again when she tried to teach me stick a few years later. Sadly, I never got the hang of stick shift… And while it would be handy to know how to stick shift, it’s becoming less and less of a necessity.

    7. Artemesia*

      When I was learning to drive, I came very close to a head on collision on the Lake Washington Floating Bridge when my mother started yelling at me to look over my shoulder while I was making a lane change — I did that and of course drifted left almost into the path of an oncoming truck. After that she stopped yelling so much and I stopped listening when in the middle of a move.

      Driving gets to be automatic but it takes awhile and so the more practice you can get, the quicker that competence develops.

    8. Observer*

      Find the money to get professional instruction. There are two reasons. One is that the pros won’t yell. They are used to this stuff. That makes a HUGE difference. And on the other hand, they can give you guidance before you run into trouble.

      Secondly, if you are going with a school, lots of them have cars that have a second set of controls for the instructor. That means that even if you do something really stupid and dangerous, they will be able to correct. Not that I think you will, but it’s nice to know that the safety net is there.

    9. Tara*

      Okay, after having a good night’s sleep and calminng down a bit I do feel the need to clear my poor mother’s name, as she is generally a very patient person. She doesn’t usually yell– I think in this situation it started out as a “AHH NO DON’T DO THAT” and she was just panicked so her “explanation” of what I did wrong ended up sounding a bit… screamy. Of course what I realize now is that I should have just pulled over! I live in a VERY windy area so pulling over is actually kind of an advanced skill but I think it’s time to learn it. If we had both had some time to calm down I imagine the rest of the drive would have been a lot less stressful.

      As far as the backing up goes, I talked to her last night about how her snapping and snarling at me is making it way harder to learn and she apologized. She says she’s been getting steadily more frustrated with me just rushing into it instead of taking the time to plan out what I’m going to do. Of course she’s right. I’d just assumed it was one of those things you learn by instict, like the rest of driving. I (in what I hope was a respectful way) told her that she really, really has to tell me these things because getting aggravated over something I have no idea about isn’t helping me improve at all. So, hopefully that will get better now.

      I do think I want to talk some things through with her still. Because I have a little brother who I’m not comfortable driving with, our times are super limited so she’s always really pushy about me going out whenever there’s an opportunity. I think I’m going to just sit down and tell her that I’m not comfortable driving when I’m angry or upset. I’m also going to talk to her about my eyes, although I don’t have high hopes for that as she’s just going to tell me to look down at the line on the passenger’s side (which I’ve been doing, but they’re still so bright I can barely see!). I think I will tell her I won’t drive at night until I talk to an optometrist about it.

      Thanks so much for all the advice. I wish I had other options (I really, really don’t), but my mom isn’t actually *bad* at this. I think I need to extend her the same courtesy I’m asking her to show me and actually talk about things that are bothering me instead of just seething about it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I like the way you think. It sounds like you are doing a good job handling all this extra stuff on top of learning to drive. I think you will get this and you will be okay at it!

    10. Vera*

      I understand you so well. I’m learning to drive now and I’m always afraid I’m going to freeze, be unable to react correctly/on time and hurt somebody. I’ve never wanted to drive, but moving to California made it mandatory. But as other commenters told you, it does get better with practice. I’ve noticed I’m not as scared anymore to drive around town: now my nightmares are about entering the highway, the scary always-full highway to San Francisco.

      Knowing that driving is something your brain needs to learn to do, not you, helped me. What I mean is that sometimes I get overwhelmed because I have to pay attention to so many things at the same time (and many times I slow down, or if I can, fully stop to recover). It calms me to know that someday in the future some things will be automatically taken care of, in the same way that now I don’t think twice about turn on the car or use the turn signal lights. In short: be patient with yourself. Give yourself time, it is normal to be overwhelmed and frustrated and it is VERY normal for old drivers to forget they felt the same way. You don’t have to accept yelling or taking the steering wheel: feel free to stop as much as you need to compose yourself.

      Another thing: I was told by my instructor and my husband (he is a very responsible driver and has taken several courses about driving in difficult conditions and driving securely), that new drivers are less prone to accidents, except when doing something very dangerous such as texting, because we are so terrified of accidents that we drive defensively.

      I did took a driving course, 6 hours, $350, only driving. As somebody told you above my comment, do it if you can afford it, because they are very patient and they can give you advice to handle most situations. Even better, my last lesson in two weeks is going to be in the streets of the real test. My instructor is going to show me what the DMV is going to ask me to do and help me to know the area so I don’t make big mistakes such as ignoring the speed limit. I have my behind-the-wheel test in three weeks and I hope I can pass it the first time.

    11. Lamb*

      The other thing that strikes me is: you’re practicing night driving somewhere with pedestrians? Are there roads you could practice on where people aren’t wandering where they’re easy to hit? Even without your eye issues, it seems prudent to get a handle on night driving with fewer distractions/hazards.

  36. Shell*

    Curious question:

    For those of you who attend conferences related to your field: do you get paid during the attendance? Say it’s a conference relevant to your work/can improve your knowledge of your field. I know often employers will pay for your ticket/lodging/flight, but for the hours physically at the conference, would that be on your time or company time?

    I’m not talking about a trade show or something that you’d otherwise actively be working on behalf of your company; in that case I think it’s obvious that you should get paid. But I’m thinking more like a learning opportunity; you’re there to learn about new teapot technology or whatever. But since it’s relevant to your workplace, your company would be willing to foot the lodging/travel/ticket. Should that be paid or not?

    Apologies to Alison if this is too work-related; I figured since a lot of people mention from time to time that they attend professional conferences of their own will the subject kind of straddles the line. If this is too work-related I can repost next Friday.

    1. Alma*

      Continuing education, or conferences, or learning opportunity: yes, you should get paid. This is not a time when you should have to take PTO. If you are hourly, I don’t know how that would work, but would expect you to be compensated for a full day each day.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think work-related, so if you don’t mind reposting next Friday, that would be great! (Sorry to be a stickler; one work topic post isn’t a big deal, but I know that then it’ll be two, then three, and so forth.)

    3. Artemesia*

      I was exempt/salaried so it was an irrelevant issue in a way but we did not have to take vacation time to attend such conferences that were approved and so they were ‘paid’ or ‘on the clock.’ I would think that hourly workers would be less likely to be sponsored for such things and if they are sponsoring a course or professional development, it should be on the clock.

  37. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    I am finding it ridiculously difficult to find plus size, not ridiculously expensive funeral clothes. It’s the middle of summer here, so everything is bright colours and sleeveless and cleavage-y.

    This is a stress right now that I absolutely do not need.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m sorry MJ.

      It probably doesn’t do you any good right now, but I buy quite a bit of stuff from Old Navy. Most of it is pretty simple, basic stuff and it is reasonably priced.

    2. Revanche*

      Can anyone shop for you in a different area if it’s more conducive to finding the right size and type of clothes? I recall out of state cousins buying winter things for me years ago because they lived in a place that actually had winter and CA doesn’t….

    3. Clever Name*

      Ugh. I’m so sorry. I read that Target is getting some new plus size lines, and they’re supposed to be awesome.

    4. Vancouver Reader*

      If you only need it as a sort of one time wear, is there anything at a consignment or thrift store? No matter the season I always find there’s a huge amount of black clothing to be had at those stores.

  38. Aloe Vera*

    Any thoughts on the difference between the words “weird” and “different?”

    I have a friend visiting me from the mid-west. I live in San Francisco, where things are very different from what she is used to. I am having a hard time being gracious when she calls everything weird. Any thoughts on this or if I should mention this to her?

    1. skyline*

      To me, the word “weird” generally has more judgment attached? That said, I think the distinction between “weird” and “different” is subtle enough that it would be lost on anyone whose reaction to difference was to call everything “weird.” So I probably wouldn’t mention the word choice specifically unless I had really open communication with the person.

      On the other hand, I wouldn’t necessarily let all such comments go by unchallenged. Some possible responses–depending on what’s being commented on–might be:
      (a) Actually, that’s pretty normal here. [smile]
      (b) Yes, that is a very SF thing, and isn’t it awesome?

    2. fposte*

      It’s not terrifically polite of her, but it says more about her than anything else–she sounds like she has a pretty narrow comfort zone and isn’t used to being out of it. I might respond by gently teasing her, “You know ‘weird’ and ‘non-Midwestern’ aren’t the same thing, right?” (Only okay if you can keep it from being snarky.) Or just shrug and say “It’s all normal stuff in this part of the country, but I know you may not be used to it–I hope you’re enjoying your stay anyway.”

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t know–I’d just “mm hmm” a lot. You might say, “Yeah, it’s pretty different, but most people are nice,” or something along those lines. Or point out some of the things that are similar. And maybe the coolest things that are different.

      I used to live in Santa Cruz, where it’s VERY different from where I grew up, but I only had culture shock when I moved back. In fact, I still have it and that was over twenty years ago!

      1. INTP*

        I lived in Santa Cruz only briefly but I loved it! Would love to move back someday if I could afford to live in the “nice parts,” but I don’t know when I’ll become a millionaire, unfortunately. (I don’t think I have it in me to live in loud studenty areas anymore, anything near the boardwalk is out for obvious reasons, and Capitola etc just don’t hold the same appeal for me.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yeah, Capitola was okay, but I really liked SC. The housing there is absurdly expensive because it’s right on the bay. I was looking at houses online a few years ago, and I found a three-bedroom cottage that would go for maybe 200K here, depending on location.

          It was priced at EIGHT HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. I nearly fainted.

    4. matcha123*

      Maybe it’s just her way of speaking and not a judgement about your area?
      I know that I tend to say “That’s interesting” for things I do not find interesting.

      I’ve also heard “That’s weird/strange” used like “that’s cool/interesting”.
      I think I’d be put off a bit by “that’s different” because I’ve never really used it. And it comes off as slightly judgemental to me, ie- that’s different and not in a good way.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Yes! “Interesting” is the WASP-y way of saying awful, or boring, or otherwise negative. I use it all the time, despite my non-waspy origins. I also almost exclusively use “weird in the “cool” context. I assume/hope my tone indicates that to others!

    5. INTP*

      Different = What I’m used to and “this” are not the same, but I’m being neutral about it
      Weird = What I’m used to is correct and this is different and therefore incorrect

      She could also be feeling a bit insecure or about how much she hasn’t seen in the world or how she’s uncomfortable outside of her comfort zone when she doesn’t want to be and compensating a bit by calling it “weird.” No one makes a San Franciscan feel unworldly or uncultured for not being familiar with life in the Midwest but the opposite can happen, know what I mean? (Actually, I’ve known several who flaunt their ignorance of anything between Vegas and Manhattan as though it makes them more worldly.) There’s a bit of regional snobbery in the US and the Midwest is low on the pecking order, so it can put people on the defensive. I don’t think it automatically makes her an intolerant person if this is her first time in a very different culture from what she’s used to, but it’s not particularly tactful either.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympic*

        I think a lot of people who are suddenly aware of their own provincialism get very uncomfortable and project that discomfort onto the “weird” environment they are suddenly thrust into. Coasters can be dismissive of the Midwest, but I’ve also seen them become very nervous and hostile if they can’t figure out what’s going on and retain their sophisticate “seen it all” pose.

        One of the most entertaining things I ever witnessed (because I’m not always the nicest person) was shepherding around a native New Yorker in Jakarta. His wife was a newly-arrived scholar, I happened to be in Jakarta, and was asked to help them navigate the “seven government agencies in five days to get required research permissions” Survivor-esque ordeal we all had to go through. She was totally chill with dealing with the city, the transportation, the chaos that is government bureaucracy in Indonesia, but he was just beside himself and complained bitterly the entire time about the heat, the dirt, the inefficiencies, the tendencies of taxi drivers to either get lost or cheat passengers, etc. etc. It’s as though so much of his identity rested on being the one “in the know” that when that wasn’t true anymore, he became very nervous and thus aggressive. I’ve seen people from much smaller places with much less experience of difference handle strange environments with more aplomb.

        All this to say I think “weird” instead of “different” can, as INTP points out, be more about internal discomfort than a judgy comment on the external environment.

    6. Cath in Canada*

      My parents do the same thing when they visit me. My Dad also thinks that “I don’t like X” and “X is terrible” are the same thing. I just smile and nod.

  39. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have a bit of a vent, really, but I have a feeling you good people will understand. Tonight we went to the symphony. I love going to the symphony. I was especially thrilled tonight because I have a slight personal acquaintance with tonight’s guest conductor and I recently discovered I have some connections that helped me get tickets in the choir loft, facing the conductor. The music was terrific. I got to go backstage and say hi to the maestro. But the guy next to me? This polished, middle-aged man who was also sitting in the choir loft with an excellent view of the stage? Texted the WHOLE TIME. I couldn’t even ask him to stop because we were in full view of the stage, and I felt that asking him to stop would be disruptive, especially if he decided to argue with me. During the intermission, his wife told their companions that they had “an emergency” text from their daughter saying that her fiance was cast in a play and has rehearsal on their wedding day. Is this a big deal? Sure. Is it really such an emergency that you have to deal with it during the concert? I don’t think so. And if it is, why didn’t he just freaking LEAVE? Because he is rude.

    It’s simple, people. Here are three simple rules of concert etiquette. This applies to movies, too:

    1. No talking. I don’t care if you’re talking about the piece or translating to your friend, you don’t talk. The MOST you are allowed is, “Cough drop, please” to your companion. That is IT. Orchestra playing? Someone singing? Conductor’s baton still in the air? Shut up.

    2. No texting. Put your phone away! Not just on silent! Put it away! Seriously! If there’s an emergency, get up and leave– even if you jostle people on your way out, you are far more respectful when you leave than if you sit there with your freaking phone out. This goes triple for when the orchestra is close enough so they can see you! If you cannot make it through a piece of music without checking your phone, stay home.

    3. No jingling. No jangling. If you are wearing noisy bracelets or carrying keys or have noisy bits on your shoes, don’t jostle these things if you can help it. If you must keep time, wiggle your toes or tap your leg lightly or something. Usually, you aren’t following the conductor and it is SO DISTRACTING.

    These rules apply no matter how much you paid for your ticket. Cheap seats, pricey seats, it’s all the same. Tonight was so disheartening, especially since I looked around the audience and no one else had their phones out. It was a lovely, respectful audience, with the exception of the jackass next to me. (They always sit next to me for some reason.) Sigh.

    1. Sourire*

      You really do have my favorite name on here I think…

      Argh, I sympathize. I went to a movie with a friend recently and she spent the entire time texting. The glow from her phone constantly coming on and the shutting back off was so distracting and I was terribly embarrassed to be sitting next to her. Never again…

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Aw, thank you! Your name makes me smile too! (See what I did there???)

        It’s always worse when it’s someone you know, because as counter-intuitive as it is, I feel like we’re less likely to take our friends seriously when they ask us to knock something off.

    2. Natalie*

      Argh, #3. I ushered at a theater that did Christmas Carol every year, and we always had to tell at least one person per show that they couldn’t have their light-up blinky christmas necklace in the theater. The house is dark for a reason!!!

    3. Revanche*

      That’s unbelievably rude, is there not a standard code of conduct for these affairs that an usher or someone could enforce? What a shame to have your experience marred by a jerk.

      1. Short and Stout*

        I know places where the ushers step in and tell offenders to switch their devices off, mid-music if necessary. Bright screens are very distracting.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        There is indeed a standard code of conduct– people just don’t follow it. I find that ushers often aren’t empowered to approach people about certain things, nor are they empowered to approach certain people. Where I was sitting, there were no readily available ushers, presumably because we were so close to the stage.

        I have seen ushers in other venues approach patrons who are talking or texting or taking pictures, but sometimes it’s just an exercise in frustration.

        1. Short and Stout*

          Indeed. I have seen plenty of well-behaved small children at concerts! I just don’t know how people think it’s okay to make so much noise and not sit still.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh my. And then to shrug it off, “Well I am an American”. Don’t even go there. Not all of us feel that way, please refrain from speaking for all of us.

      2. fposte*

        Guy is a jackass who digs his jackass hole bigger every time he opens his mouth.

        But I also don’t see much gain from “clapping and whooping” at the Messiah, as the director was encouraging. Things that make it harder to hear the music should not be improvements as far as I’m concerned; a director who thinks they are makes me wonder how much confidence he had in the performance. Plus with the Messiah there’s going to be confusion about the reason you’re clapping and whooping–is it because the music is great, or is it because you’re that excited that unto us a child was born? I’d feel really uncomfortable attending a music concert that seemed to become an evangelical service.

      3. Short and Stout*

        I read this, saw molecular reaction dynamics and Bristol, and then thought: is this the guy doing dance room spectroscopy? Oh yes it is.

    4. Stephanie*

      Yes, all of this. That being said, I wonder how apparent this is if people aren’t regular symphony goers.

      I remember in college (Alma Mater has a conservatory under its umbrella), I was at the school’s fall concert. Orchestra is playing a slow piece and there’s lots of coughing. Conductor cuts the orchestra and then demonstrates the proper technique to cough inconspicuously. He cues the orchestra back up and continues with the program. It was diva-ish, but I appreciated the gesture.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I see this behavior among regulars and newbies alike– this guy next to me was obviously a subscriber. Burns me.

        That said, the general rule of thumb for any new situation, in my opinion, is to pay attention to your surroundings and those around you and look for signs of what to do and not do. The coughing thing… often one can’t help coughing and doesn’t think about how loud a cough truly is. But if you pay a good amount of money for your first show in a concert hall, I would think– or hope– that you would do some research beforehand or at least show up with your mouth shut and your eyes (and ears) open. Or even just that you would want to get your money’s worth! That’s why I especially hate it when people talk during the movies. Movie tickets aren’t super cheap, especially if you like the movies, but they’re a more accessible option than live performance most of the time. People often make dates, get babysitters, etc., only to have their experience ruined by someone who thinks the cinema is his/her living room. A live concert has the added element of performers who can be affected by loud talking, flash photos, or even just the general vibe of the audience.

        That, my friends, is today’s version of Kids, Get Off My Lawn.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Oh, it was so great. Dvorak’s No. 9 (New World Symphony), and the English horn was phenomenal. Every time I go to hear it, the 4th movement starts and I go (QUIETLY, TO MYSELF), “Oh, yeah, THAT’S where this came from!” They opened with a piece I’d never heard by a Spanish composer, Falla, and it was also excellent, lots of really interesting percussion.

            1. Stephanie*

              Ooooh, I love the second movement! Unsure if the fourth movement is where John Williams got the idea for the Jaws theme, but they are similar.

      2. Emily*

        What is the proper technique for coughing inconspicuously?

        I can still remember going to Wicked with a cold and working very hard to hold my coughing until applause or set changes, but if there’s a strategic way to cough quietly/non-distractingly, I’d love to hear it.

        1. Stephanie*

          I think the key is just to muffle the sound. The conductor suggested coughing into the crook of the arm.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Cough drops are good to keep around (though please unwrap them before the show! they’re noisy). A cough here and there is ok. I will never forget the time I went to the NY Phil and just as the lights went down, the woman next to me stifled a cough. Then another. She reached forward for her bottle of water. I could tell, without even looking at her, that she was totally caught off-guard by the coughing and was desperate to stop it. I had just recovered from a nasty cold and came prepared, so I quietly reached into my bag, got out a few Ricolas, gently put my hand on her arm, smiled as wide as I could (I didn’t want her to think I was chastising her) and handed her the lozenges. I think she almost cried. I felt so, so bad for her.

          I felt less bad for the woman at one concert who realized her iPhone was missing and noisily went through her bag for an entire movement of something good that I can no longer remember.

        3. Artemesia*

          I always have mints to suck at concerts to prevent coughing from minor irritations or dry throat and if I have a cold I take dextromethorphan lozenges which are a fairly effective cough medicine. I really think one shouldn’t go to a concert if they can’t manage the coughing and it is a constant struggle for me because of a low level allergies that lead to long lasting bronchial irritations. Coughing during loud moments of the piece and muffling it with handkerchief or arm is also helpful.

    5. BRR*

      All of this. It always seems to be during the quiet parts too. I have no problem telling people to stop texting or talking during the symphony or movies. My top two stories from the symphonies are:

      1) One guy coughed a couple times super loud, like no effort to muffle you swear he was making it louder on purpose coughs. So then he address the audience, “pardon me.”

      2) Someone had to use the restroom in the middle of a piece, so they say with no volume control to their spouse, “I gotta take a piss.”

    6. Elkay*

      There should be a reminder at all live events that this is not TV and you are not in your living room, the people next to you can hear you and so can the people on the stage. The guy in front of me last night could have done with that reminder.

    7. Artemesia*

      This is slightly sideways from your point which I agree with, but every phone out is not an abuse. My husband’s hearing aids are driven by his Iphone and at the start of a concert or movie he needs to be able to adjust the hearing aids which is done on the phone — it does no good to do it before the music begins apparently. He is as brief as possible with it, but I am sure it drives people behind him nuts especially those who are particularly twitchy about the light and occasionally they immediately start hassling him about it which of course makes it all take longer and is disruptive. People would probably rather they were adjusted properly for the particular music than say began to make noise because they weren’t.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I didn’t know that either! I really appreciate it when people chime in with stuff like this. And I’m glad to hear that hearing aid technology is not stagnant.

    8. Vancouver Reader*

      This may be an odd question but are people dressed up for the symphony? To me, if you’re dressed to the nines, you may be more inclined to behave like you’re at an important affair (dress the part basically), whereas if everyone’s in casual attire, then the entire atmosphere seems more casual and therefore people feel like they can act as they normally do. I don’t know if that’s true or not I’m just throwing it out there as a thought.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That may explain the attitude, but it should never excuse the behavior. I wear my MOST casual clothes to the movies and believe the rules still apply. Also, the man next to me was dressed very well and very expensively. Rudeness is rudeness, no matter what the dress. I wish people would dress up a little for concerts, but I would so much rather they show up in Abercrombie sweats and a down vest (saw that at Lincoln Center) and behave with respect than wear a suit and act like an asshole.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          No, it definitely doesn’t excuse the behaviour and as a grown up, he should know better. I wish people would dress better to these occasions as well, the last time I went to the ballet, people were showing up in torn jeans. That just seems disrespectful to me.

    9. Dr. Doll*

      Aieee yaieee! Sorry your concert was not as lovely as it could have been. I agree — if you’re going to a concert, symphony, movie, whatever, GO and leave the phone behind.

      I once lost my patience in a special guest lecture — the faculty member next to me had clearly assigned his *students* to be at the lecture and was there solely to check and see if they really came; he spent most of the lecture pounding away on his laptop at a paper he was writing. The keys clicked loudly, so I turned to him and said, “That is very distracting, could you please stop?” and he did. /the only time I have been that courageous

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      People who do this kind of thing just baffle me. I went to an Oracle user conference a couple years ago, and the keynote speaker was Aron Ralston, the guy who got trapped while hiking in Utah, and amputated his own arm to escape. He was a fascinating speaker, and talked a lot about what happened to him. He’s a very engaging speaker, and of course hearing first-hand a little about what he went through was fascinating. And all around me, people were texting, checking Facebook, and so on. Boggled my mind.

  40. Gene*

    Office kitty 2 went to the shelter this week. None of us are able to take him home and this is the best chance for a new forever home.

      1. Gene*

        Talked with the shelter today, he has tested positive for FIV and will likely be euthanized today. :( I’ve checked with the two shelters that take FIV cats and they are completely full.

        Not having a good day.

          1. Gene*

            Thanks. I’m hating people right now.

            One has to literally drive past the animal shelter to dump a cat out here. This was about cat #6 that we’ve tamed down here in the past 5 years; these were not feral, they weren’t strays (the closest residence is across a river, the single residence that isn’t across a river is over a mile away), they were dumped.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          Gene, I’m really sorry. But I’m glad (and maybe you can be too?) that his last days were spent warm, comfortable and with people who care; not cold, hungry and alone. Your office did a Good Thing, and I hope that will continue. And you’re right, sometimes people just suck. A lot of the time, I prefer animals.

  41. Revanche*

    I’m in the middle of a chronic pain flare up and while I rarely (never) ask for medical advice I wonder if anyone has any pain mgmt coping techniques up their sleeve that I’m overlooking in my haze.
    My shoulders down to my fingers are swollen and aching like the bones are on fire, can’t bear weight, and have very little range of motion (all normal for my condition and all “invisible” so it’s awesome when I’m in too much pain to move but looks like I’m just a lazy git).
    I’m already on heavy duty prescription pain meds for an existing wound already, around the clock, along with a high dose of ibuprofen. I’ve been alternating heat and ice, and hooked myself up to my TENS unit tonight. Feels like I’m forgetting something I could do to help break the pain cycle. Not sure if anyone here deals with chronic stuff but if you do, suggestions are welcome!

    1. Anonsie*

      Ugh I’m in a flare myself, I feel you. Personally I cope by being a huge jerk and grumping around which is… Not great but y’know.

      Not sure what the source of your issue is, but my dad and I have similar conditions and he turned me on to taking grapeseed extract every day and it helps a lot on top of all the prescriptions. I believe it’s been found to be effective for RA in clinical trials, which isn’t what my dad and I have but m rheum recommends it for anyone with chronic joint pain. I don’t think it’s commonly recommended so pardon if you have tried it before, it’s sort of my secret weapon. I’ve switched almost entirely to an anti-inflammatory diet as well, which makes a really noticeable difference in how well I think all my meds work.

      I also swear arnica gel helps applied to the specific joints, but the clinical data on that is iffier. Even if it’s a somatic effect, though, it helps so whatever.

      When I hurt a lot I take really long, really hot baths with epsom salt and essential oils that perk me up (I like eucalyptus, but whatever floats your boat) and then rub down with arnica gel. Then I sit around with my heating pad and/or ice packs like you described. I tend to wear compression garments as well, though this may or may not help you. When I put just OTC (not custom-fitted) compression stockings on my arms and legs it feels… “uncongested” I guess. Feels nice.

      I also just got a referral so I can see a massage therapist and have it covered by my insurance, which I rarely did in the past due to cost. Now that it’s affordable I want to try doing it a lot more– I feel so much better for so long afterwards, even if I’m not in a flare. My dad does PT but I’m not quite at that stage yet. That may be cost prohibitive for you, though.

      Sorry you’re in a funk. I am, too. I hope you feel better soon.

      1. Revanche*

        Sorry you’re also in a flare :( i can’t say grumpiness isn’t part of coping either :/

        Thanks for the extensive answer! I’ll run a couple of those past my doc to make sure we don’t have interaction problems but it’s worth looking into.

        I managed to get therapeutic massage covered by my FSA, insurance won’t but I can make it more affordable when going through FSA so that is really helpful.

        Here’s hoping we’re both back on our feet very very soon!

        1. Anonsie*

          Sounds like a plan :) Hope you feel better quickly!

          Some places that do acupuncture and massage have sliding scales for people that couldn’t otherwise afford either therapy, but they can be on the cleanse-your-energy end of the alt med spectrum. If that makes you uncomfortable then they might not be for you, but their goals are typically to make massage and acupuncture therapy available to people who otherwise might not be able to afford it, so you can get some good deals with caring practitioners. And they normally are eligible for your FSA since they’ll have licensed massage therapists and all.

    2. some1*

      Epsom salts in a hot bath help me a lot with body aches and pains. A large bag is pretty cheap at Target or any drug store and the generic/store brands work fine. I usually pour in a cup or two then fill the bath with hot water and soak for about 20 minutes.

      Epsom salt baths also work really well for detoxifying if I have a hangover. I just be sure to also drink a lot of water so I don’t get dehydrated.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing the drink water thing. When my pain levels start going up, I start packing in the water. If you can do it, drinking cold-cold water is ideal. If no, regular tap water is fine.

        Okay, this is personal, and I do not expect you to respond, but please consider… are your bowels working correctly? If we aren’t eliminating correctly garbage gets backed up inside us. Make sure your bowels are working. Even one day of no movement can raise pain levels through the roof. A while back I had pain where I thought I was going to die, and I am not prone to thinking that way. It was bowels.

        I would say see a chiro- but you mention a wound/injury. So a chiro may or may not be helpful. If this sounds like an idea for you, start by finding recommendations from others. Then call the office for an appointment, but tell them over the phone what is going on. Ask them if the doctor would be able to help you, or if he would want to wait until the wound is healed. If you ask over the phone you might save time/money/effort. I got sick of being told my pain was imaginary by regular doctors. I am adult not a child. I finally found a chiro that knew what I was talking about. “no that is not imaginary, that is real, here is why.” And he would adjust something and I could feel the pain start to dissipate in the moment. (He did this numerous times.)

        1. Revanche*

          @NotsoNewReader: I’ll spare everyone the TMI of answering the bowels question but thanks for raising it.

          I think after my wound has healed it may be worth trying a chiro for the other pain … I had been considering it but hesitated because I’m small framed and always feel like they might break me :)

          It stinks that we had the same experiences with medical professionals acting like our pain is not real :/

          1. Not So NewReader*

            The chiro I go to uses techniques that I have never seen before. He has a little u-shaped thing that he puts on my spine at specific points and taps the thing. This takes place of twisting me around like a pretzel.

            Additionally, he does an interesting thing with muscles in spasm. He taps them with his fingers like 30 times.
            He also uses lazers, infrared and other stuff.
            To me, it seems that most of what he does could be done on a baby and the child would not protest.

            Look for a chiro that does chiropractic and other things such as massage techniques, etc. Other clues would be that he talks about nutrition and what foods will help and what foods to steer clear of.

            Yeah, when they tell you that your pain is not real that can be code for “I have no idea what to do for you”.
            Keep going- I went to two chiros before I found this guy. Recommendations from friends helped me find him and I asked my friends to be specific about why they like the chiro they recommended. It’s interesting to hear the reasons, but it also made my choice very clear.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am thinking that is a chunk of the problem there. Lack of water can cause pain almost anywhere in the body.

    3. fposte*

      You’ve covered the stuff I’d suggest already–you sound very experienced, and I’m sorry that you’ve had to be. The only other possibility that comes to mind is keeping up with PT/range of motion stuff if you’re supposed to be doing those even in a flare–that can be easy to skip in bad times, and that’s not always a good plan.

      Hope things settle down soon.

      1. Revanche*

        Thanks, it does stink but it’s been a fact of 2/3 of my life now so I suppose it gives the “advantage” of knowing generally how to cope. It’s just rougher some days then others.

    4. Andrea*

      I have an autoimmune disease and a lot of chronic pain but can’t really take pain pills. I found some private 1 on 1 meditation classes with a yoga/meditation instructor helped me to set up some routines – both fast and more time consuming depending on what resources I have at any given moment – and they’ve really helped with the mental part of it.

      1. Revanche*

        That’s a great thought, I stopped doing yoga years ago because I didn’t have time but now’s as good a time as any to start again.

    5. super duper anno*

      I have chronic pain too. I got some relief with trigger point injection so from a pain management specialist. They are like deep tissue acupuncture. I also partake in the kind herb, which may or may not be allowed where you live.

  42. Grey*

    Is there a better way to say “I don’t care about my neighbors” than hanging up a set of wind chimes? I’d love to enjoy the peace and quiet that should come with living out in the country, but the only thing I hear on a breezy day is that awful noisemaker from my neighbors down the road.

    As the newest resident, I don’t feel right introducing myself to them by complaining about it. Plus, I don’t think people who hang wind chimes even care that they’re annoying anyone.

    1. Oh for heaven's sake*

      I like wind chimes. You’re absolutely correct that I wouldn’t care one bit if some neighbor down the road did or didn’t. If you complained to me about that, I would tell you to get lost.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        So if someone came over and politely said to you that your wind chimes– something over which you have control– disturbs them to the point where they can’t sleep (not that the OP said this is the case) and asks politely if you might take them in at night, you would tell them to “get lost”? That’s not too neighborly.

        1. BRR*

          I think the rule should be you shouldn’t do anything that affects the senses of anybody in their dwelling. Cars blaring music so loud things on shelves shake, people smoking right outside my window, the neighbor who only cooks with curry so when she opens her window it smells like stale curry for at least 100 feet (and I like curry, but not old curry). I think there are exceptions for when you do something like buy a house that borders a park or school or live in NYC. But just some common courtesy, I shampooed my carpets yesterday and didn’t go past 8:00 pm to not upset my downstairs neighbor (well at least any more than I did by shampooing my carpets).

          I’m semi confused how the op hears wind chimes when it sounds like their neighbor isn’t even close. In my head I imagine it’s like my in-laws who lives a good half mile from the next closest house.

          1. fposte*

            This is one of those things where I think that’s a good rule to strive for for your own behavior but I think it’s good to aim for tolerance if other people don’t quite manage it. (And of course if you’re in an apartment building, it may be impossible for anybody to follow that rule–I’m talking about detached dwellings here.) Even in detached houses, I hear trombone noises sometimes when my neighbor is giving music lessons, dogs barking because they do, cars idling in driveways, etc. I don’t think those are things that have to stop just because I can hear them, but there’s a ceiling–I did talk to neighbors when one of their dogs was barking frenziedly, kicking off the rest of her dogs, at 7 am on the weekends.

            If I only heard windchimes from a distance and on breezy days, I’d probably go for tolerance–that seems to me below complaining threshold, as it seems more about what I don’t like to hear than somebody’s being inappropriately intrusive. But there would be circumstances in which I might ask anyway, like if I were dealing with health problems, or if there were other things I wish they’d change and this is the most benign one to focus on.

            1. BRR*

              I do take into account reasonableness. I try to also approach anything the first time with a “stuff happens” attitude. My neighbors car alarm went off repeatedly from 1-2 am. I left a note (didn’t know who owned it) informing them that it went off in case they didn’t know.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, car alarms smash through the tolerance ceiling big time. And they used to be so much worse in their heyday! There was a car parked near my apartment building in Chicago whose alarm went off for 24 hours straight, in that most annoying change-it-up alarm pattern. The cops dragged the owner out of the house to make him stop it when they ticketed him. He was pretty fortunate that all that happened to the car was getting egged (in addition to several notes).

          2. INTP*

            This is ideal, but sometimes you pretty much can’t go about your everyday life without it. I think the rule should be that if it isn’t a necessary part of a basic life activity, you should try to limit it. But I’ve lived in old buildings with hardwood floors, and if you’re walking around your downstairs neighbors are going to hear you. (I got angry beating up on my floor one morning when god forbid, I forgot something I had to do before work after putting on my shoes and was walking around with shoes on for about 10 minutes.) I do refrain from doing bouncy exercises on my hardwood floors because this is easily avoidable. Old buildings are drafty, so I often smell my cooking smells in the hallway – but I’m not going to start only cooking noodles and water and things with zero smell because of this. I’ve had some apartments where I could hear neighbors’ music at almost any volume – that’s something you have to deal with. You shouldn’t, however, get subwoofers and play things loudly on surround sound if you live in one of these buildings, it isn’t necessary.

            The one thing I do draw the line at is that no one should smoke in an apartment building unless they’re sure it’s airtight, or outdoors near someone else’s dwelling. If you have to hotbox inside your car, deal with it or quit. It harms people’s health more than most people realize. It only takes 3rd hand smoke to increase a child’s chances of getting asthma or make someone with a sensitivity to it get a headache and feel ill. It’s not an annoyance, it’s a health hazard.

            1. Emme*

              +100000 on the smoking indoors thing. This makes me so angry. I’m currently dealing with this right now, as someone who has recently moved onto my floor has decided that it is appropriate to smoke indoors, with smoke filling the hallways and coming into the 25 other apartments on the floor. Management cannot/will not do anything about it. I seriously cannot understand why this isn’t illegal. If you want to damage your own health, fine, but don’t mess with mine.

            2. Nina*

              Word to all of this. I live in a no-smoking residence but people have been lighting up in the hallways for weeks (and not just cigarettes) and then they would leave the windows open all night to air out the halls. Not only did the halls still smell like smoke, but the whole building would be freezing. It got so bad that management finally had to put up a sign reminding tenants about it being a no-smoking building.

              I can also smell whatever people are cooking, which can be good and bad. I just wish I didn’t have to smell it everywhere in my apartment. For some reason, the food fumes tend to reach my bathroom and stay there. I’ll just be washing my face and suddenly, the fragrance of garlic wafts in.

          3. Grey*

            It’s quiet here this time of year – no leaves rustling, no insects chirping. When there is no breeze blowing it is literally complete silence. So when there is a breeze, the only thing I hear are the wind chimes echoing through the hillside.

            I get that some people like this noise so I’d be happy if they’d at least take them in or tie them up at night. I mean, I find Pink Floyd relaxing, but I’m not going to play “Dark Side of the Moon” on my front porch at 2 am while I’m inside the house watching TV.

            1. fposte*

              And I think as long as you’re polite and let go the “doesn’t care about the neighbors” thing, you can ask if they’re willing to do that.

              But even being in the country doesn’t mean you have the right never to hear your neighbor’s stuff. People have dogs that bark, roosters that crow loudly any damn time they please, and ATVs and snowmobiles that sound like chainsaws, and it doesn’t mean they hate their neighbors; I’d rather hear “Dark Side of the Moon” than all of that, but it’s the first batch that’s part of the country landscape.

              1. Grey*

                I don’t expect complete silence 24/7. I expect to hear all the things you mentioned. That comes with the territory and some of it serves a purpose necessary for daily life.

                Wind chimes on the other hand, serve only one purpose, and that’s to make noise. I’m tolerant of it during the day, but not at night while the rest of us have the common courtesy to not disturb our neighbors.

      2. Artemesia*

        I’ve noticed that people who don’t care about other people often hang the dang wind chimes so they are near the neighbor’s bedroom window and not their own. Like my neighbor who would wheel his very loud parrot out at 6am under my bedroom window — it was kept at night far far from their own sleep. Not caring about other people often has the blowback of people doing things in revenge. Hope you don’t have dogs or cats that are let out or prize rose bushes.

    2. Lizzie*

      I can sympathize. My parents live in the Midwest, next door to an older couple who have, over the past three years, been steadily increasing the amount of time they spend in their winter place in Florida. I think they’re up to about 8 months of the year in Florida, at this point. But they leave approximately 5 wind chimes up on their second-floor outdoor deck, all year! Everything else gets brought inside while they’re out of town, but not those wind chimes. On breezy days it’s unbearable.

      1. fposte*

        And that’s an example of a situation where I’d talk to them, because you’re not exactly depriving the owners of their enjoyment here. (I wonder if they’re thinking “Oh, we’ll leave them up so everybody else can enjoy them.”)

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Oooh, I sympathize, and yeah, I don’t think there’s much you can do unless they bring it up first. When we moved into our house, I was shocked to find that I didn’t mind their wind chimes– theirs are particularly subtle and I can’t hear them in the house that often. My parents’ wind chimes keep me up when I visit them.

      Now, these neighbors I have with the subtle wind chimes like to talk on their phones on their porch, and I can hear every word when I’m inside my living room. Can’t exactly walk outside at 3pm and say, “Hey Joe, would you mind calling your drug dealer inside the house? Thanks.” So you win some, you lose some.

    4. JMW*

      Perhaps rather than asking them to remove them, you might ask them to dampen the noise a little. A loud windchime can be quietened by adding cloth tape, rubber bands, or other to the ends of the tubes so the “strike” is less pronounced. 3M actually makes a dampening tape.

  43. Carrie in Scotland*

    Listening to tennis commentary is nowhere near as fun as watching it. Sadly, I do not have Sky/BT/other packages that would allow me to watch the Australian Open, so am listening to radio commentary to Andy Murray’s match against Grigor Dimitrov.

    My username is possibly a giveaway to who I am supporting… ;)

    Anyone else interested in tennis?

    1. nep*

      I don’t play / not an expert at all. But love watching it. For me it’s one of the more beautiful sports to watch. Tennis and football are the only sports I’ll take time to watch on TV.

    2. EA*

      I have never tried listening to tennis on the radio, and I don’t know how much I’d like it. Even the best announcers couldn’t possibly describe everything, and so much of it is visual. Plus, there are some players that make such annoying noises when they hit the ball that I end up putting the TV on mute, just so I don’t have to listen to them. (Seriously … i’ve never played tennis at any competitive level, but I’ve played recreationally, and I fail to see how yelling “Hoooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooh” when you hit the ball improves your game)

    3. Elkay*

      I tend to only watch Wimbledon. Andy Murray is growing on me but I’d still back Federer or Nadal over Murray.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Not a fan, but my brother-in-law actually competes. He’s not world class or anything, but he does okay. :) I couldn’t hit a tennis ball with the side of a barn.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        It was good to hear him win! :)

        I can’t play either (I do not like things coming near my face!), but I’ve gone down to London twice now and seen some of the top 8 men singles/doubles players play.

  44. Help*

    How do you force yourself to like a city you absolutely despise that has absolutely no redeeming qualities and is HOT HOT HOT all the time when you’re a winter person.

    1. Mander*

      Maybe start with making a list of all the possible tourist attractions, museums, points of historical interest, etc. in the area and start visiting them?

      1. Stephanie*

        Yes, this. Try WikiTravel for your city as a starting point.

        If you happen to be in the Desert Southwest, usually an hour’s drive (or less) will get you into mountains and some cold (and possibly snowy) weather.

    2. Artemesia*

      What can’t be avoided and must be endured should be embraced. I lived in a part of the US I really don’t much care for for my entire career. One key is to aggressively build a satisfying cultural and social life. Another is to try to find activities that you enjoy that are only possible in this type climate; that is harder if you are a winter person, but worth a shot. When young people ask my advice about careers, I suggest that location is more important than you might expect and so choosing a career where you can choose your location is wise. In Academia for example, opportunities limit what is possible. In many careers you can establish a career anywhere — some like medicine or business specialties are somewhat flexible allowing moves if necessary or desired, others like law are not. Making these decisions early on is important.

  45. nep*

    Are you in that city for work — is that why you want to try and like it a bit? Are there any activities there that you enjoy?

  46. The Other Dawn*

    Did my taxes last night. What a nightmare! All this stuff about depreciation, personal use, calculating rental expense just has my head spinning. And I owe! :(

    I started off with Turbo Tax, but found their instructions to be pretty much word for word what the IRS says. Fine, if you can understand what the IRS is saying. I switched to H&R Block and it was definitely easier. What’s nice is that they’ll check my work for free if I bring it all in. Which is good because we had a lot of first-time things last year.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I hated the tax module with a passion, when I was doing my accountancy exams. Tax rules are so illogical.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I use FreeTaxUSA. I did mine already, because I wanted my refund fast. I’m trying to scrape together enough for a better airplane seat to London, as I’ll be flying overnight both ways. Guh, why are flights so expensive when you don’t get anything!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, just London–there’s a concert at the Royal Albert Hall my chat people will be attending, plus a Fans of Film Music meetup (we’re soundtrack nerds). I have a place to stay and I got a ticket already so all I have to do is get there. I might be able to squeeze in a couple of things I didn’t get to do last trip. I’d like to nip over to Cardiff again, but I don’t know if I’ll have time/money.

          I’ve never been to the Royal Albert Hall (my autumn trip was too late for Proms). Should be cool. :)

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            It looks amazing on the TV! I’m sad that I’m so far away from London :( maybe next time you come, we can have an international AAM meetup! And I will live a bit closer (city that is not the capital of Scotland) after the summer (hopefully).

  47. Mander*

    I know this is technically work-related but I really want to submit this CV tomorrow, so I’m soliciting opinions.

    One of my seasonal contract jobs was for an Army department that, when combined with the location, makes for a really long line on my CV. I also held this contract two summers in a row, so I’m trying to condense it all in a sensible way. So what I have is like this:

    Directorate of Teapot Chocolate Quality Compliance and Management, Yonder Valley Training Camp, Tinytown, AZ. Jun — Aug 2003 and Jun — Aug 2004.

    Anyone who knows the field will know the job by it’s place name, rather than the Army name. So could I put something like:

    Yonder Valley Training Camp (DTCQCM), Tinytown, AZ. Jun — Aug 2003 and Jun — Aug 2004.

    Or is that too much of an obfuscation of the people I actually worked for?

      1. Mander*

        Partly because most of my work experience was in a different country from where I’m living now, and partly because the full name doesn’t really jive with the nature of the work.

  48. Court B*

    Has anyone learned to ice skate or ski when they were into their 30s? How did it go?

    My friend and I are thinking of taking a few lessons that get the basics. ee are very fortunate to have 3 great ski resorts near us and 2 ice arenas nearby that offer lessons regularly.

    1. WednesdaysMisfit*

      I’m in my early 30s and have been ice skating for 21 years. It’s a great sport and an awesome way to get exercise. After several years of not skating consistently, I started taking lessons again about a year ago. It’s an adult class and we have a lot of novices who are in their 40s and 50s. It’s been a really good experience for them. You should do it! :)

      Another frequent commenter (Elizabeth West) is a skater. Hopefully she will weigh in. :)

      (And speaking of Elizabeth – what do you think of the U.S. Championships? Have you been watching?)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Of course I’ve been watching! I used to skate with Gracie Gold and her sister Carly–they started here. :) I think she’ll get another title when she settles into all this superstar business. She has what it takes, obviously–she just needs to get on top of the mental stuff.

        Hard to say who will take the men’s title. If they skate as well as the ladies did, it should be fun to see. I can hardly wait to see Jason Brown skate today. He enjoys performing so much that he’s a joy to watch. I tweeted him yesterday and he faved it!!!!!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I skied once as a child then not again until I was 32. Went to a mountain with some friends and spent most of the day in the “training circle”, which was great, a lot of fun, and full of people just like me. I had a good time and learned a lot, and would have gone back if it had been easier to get to (I lived in NYC with no car, and these skiing friends were really all friends with my ex-bf). Go for it!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      For ice skating, check with the ice arenas–they probably have Learn to Skate classes, and that’s the best way to get the basics down. They’ll teach you how to fall, how to get up, how to stroke effectively, etc. It’s about six to eight weeks of instruction. This is how I started, at age 36. I thought I’d just want to be able to skate around in a circle at public sessions without falling on my behind, but then I started taking private lessons. (My progress is about as fast as a glacier, but I’m surprised I can do it at all–I’m about the most uncoordinated person on earth.)

      As for skiing, I got nothing. But the resorts probably have instructors as well. I’ve always wanted to try that.

    4. CheeryO*

      I don’t know how to ski, but I learned to ice skate as an adult (early 20s). It was easier than I had expected. If you’ve ever rollerbladed, you’ll have it down in no time.

    5. justine*

      Check out Stephanie’s Spin on WordPress. It’s about adult figure skating.

      My advice: Take group lessons to start. If you like it, ask your teacher to help you get your own skates. Bend your knees! Even if you think you can’t bend your knees anymore, you’re not bending enough. You’ll probably make some great friends! If you keep at it, try to take an ice dance lessons too, it will help your skating.

      Good luck!!!