weekend free-for-all – January 31-February 1

Drawing from Mr AAMThis 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.

{ 1,085 comments… read them below }

  1. Kyrielle*

    Anyone else out there with small children? My boys are 3 and 6. I know they won’t be small forever, and sometimes that makes me sad, but right now I’m clinging to it as a hope.

    (Today involved a complete meltdown at swim lessons by the younger – for the second week in a row – and I’m exhausted and he is being happily Loud right next to me. I’m glad it’s happy, but the Loud is hard to take.)

    1. C Average*

      Take solace in the fact that in certain respects–the fun ones!–one can remain juvenile indefinitely. Driving home from school the other day, my younger stepdaughter and I took the long way home so we could pause and look at the neighbor’s horses, and then we spent the rest of the ride home making up a mashup of “Old McDonald Had A Farm” and “Lizzie Borden Had An Axe.” And then at home we played Jenga with her sister and talked about our Halloween costumes for this year. One never outgrows such things unless one wants to.

      But one DOES grow out of the non-fun aspects of juvenalia. One acquires an indoor voice and the ability to make one’s own lunch and fold one’s own laundry and do one’s own homework without prodding. And to make one’s parents and stepparents proud in amazing and unforeseen ways.

      It’s really wonderful to watch them grow, and it DOES get better. And better and better.

      Hang in there.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Thank you. I know that intellectually, but hearing it – with examples! – helps a lot today.

        My oldest already knows how to scramble eggs and is learning how to bake cookies. That’s kind of awesome. (And he totally got behind the idea of chocolate chocolate-chip zucchini muffins ‘so you can get your green without having to taste it’.)

        But he still has all that small-kid energy. Man, if I could just borrow a little of it to keep up…! :)

        1. C Average*

          I have awesome stepkids, an awesome husband, and an awesome ex-wife to deal with. They all make my job pretty cushy, honestly. When it comes to my family, life is not fair in my favor.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Our daughter is almost a teenager now, and while I miss certain things about the baby and toddler years, in the past year we’ve just introduced her to the original Star Trek, Monty Python, Monk, and the BBC’s Sherlock. (Yes, we watch a lot of TV. We also read a lot and she participates in sports, so I’m not concerned.) The first two shows were part of my formative years, things that some of my best friends and I still quote to each other to this day. She also has a much sharper, more wicked, and more absurd sense of humor now than she did even a couple of years ago. I wonder where she gets that from… ;)

      We also have been going on more adventurous vacations now that she’s older, like an African safari, which she loved as much as any of us, and she just did a report on that country using souvenirs and photos from our trip.

      So there is a lot to look forward to.

    3. Aussie Teacher*

      Yes! Two boys aged 4 and 3 and a little girl who is 17 months! It’s exhausting and fun and challenging and exciting all at the same time. Did I mention exhausting?
      I keep an notebook full of cute things they say, so they can read it in years to come (like “spya-Bite-ah” instead of “spider” or my 4-yr-old calling goosebumps “lumpules”).
      I also try to focus on all the good things (like them learning to do chores, or mastering new skills, or coming over for a kiss and a cuddle) so I don’t get overwhelmed with the negatives (like my two boys having an embarrassingly public meltdown when it was time to leave a party yesterday).

      1. Kyrielle*

        *grins* Yep. Some of the funny moments are awesome…as are the exhilarting master moments.

        And some of the rest are so exhausting. *wry*

        3yo playing with TMNT figures from McDonald’s: “Hey, what you doing, Mister Shredder guy? Mister Shredder?” (He makes an evil cackle.) “Mr. Shredder Guy!”

        Or this quote I shared on FB last month:

        Me to 3yo re his cutie orange quarter: “Don’t stuff that all in your mouth at once! Take off one section!”
        3yo carefully takes off one section, sets of back on the plate, then stuffs the REST in his mouth.
        Specification failure.

    4. angel tears*

      Enjoy every single minute. Life is short, and watching our precious babies grow is the ultimate illustration of this.

    5. Alistair*

      My Beast is 2 1/2, and I love her dearly, but I also look forward to her growing up. She’s fun now, and I bet it’ll just get better!

      By the way, I totally get you about the Happy and the Loud. I also would enjoy less Loud. I bet the cats would like less Loud as well.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yep. I would not give up the Happy for the removal of the Loud. But I look forward to the day when Happy does not co-require Loud to install, at least, not all the time.

    6. Observer*

      I agree with all of the other commenters. But something else jumped out at me. If 3yo regularly has melt downs at swimming, there might be something going on there. In my experience, meltdowns are not just something to weather and that will disappear. I’m not suggesting that a single melt down is great cause for concern. But, if a pattern shows up, it’s important to see what’s going on.

      Without knowing more, I would say that if this happens you should seriously think about what’s going on. I’m doing some guessing here, of course, as there is not a lot of information. But, two examples that might be relevant.

      My daughter was supposed to go to a particular babysitter after preschool once a week. I found out that she was having serious melt-downs when the baby sitter would come to pick her up. I changed baby sitters the next day. I’ve never regretted it. And, within a few days, I also found out some information that was probably related to the reasons for her meltdowns.

      This happened to someone I know: Her child was regularly having meltdowns at a particular activity, which was always scheduled for the same time of day. It turns out that no one had realized that is was messing with his eating times – he was missing his normal snack and was just hungry! (Adults have a hard enough time dealing with stuff when they are hungry. Toddlers just don’t have the capability yet.)

      1. 22dncr*

        I had meltdowns at swimming lessons even though my Sunday School Teacher was teaching it. My Mom never took the time to figure out why (no patience whatsoever) and so I never really learned how to swim. What I told her many years latter was it was the water. I grew up at the beach with the ocean – it moves and there’s waves. Then you expect me to get in that pool with still water??? No way! So it can be the smallest and/or most obvious things that cause it.

      2. Kyrielle*

        So far, it is a 2-week pattern predated by a nearly 9-month pattern of being fine with swimming lessons, including swimming lessons that messed with his sleep pattern (not as fine with those as he has been with others, and we ditched that schedule as quick as we could). As it turns out, later Saturday he said his ear hurt, which resulted in taking him in and getting him diagnosed with an ear infection. Poor kiddo – I would -never- put a kid in the pool with an ear infection knowingly!

        I sit within feet of the swim lessons and watch the whole thing; it’s nothing that he hasn’t done for swim lessons before, it’s not atop a snack time or a nap time. It is a newish teacher with the school and new to him, but I am not seeing issues in the teaching that I can tell for sure.

        1. Observer*

          Well, an earache would certainly explain that melt down. But, if it continues, there could be something with the newish teacher that’s throwing him off. On the other hand, it could just be the “new to him” part – is he the kind of child who takes a long time to adjust to change or needs a long warm up time with new people?

          I can say that for me, the not knowing part was one of the hardest things about this stage. If you can get your kids into the habit of telling you when something is up, and what the issue is, and if they can learn how to figure this out and articulate it, it makes life SOO much easier.

  2. Ruffingit*

    I’m doing something today that I’ve not done for a very long time. I’m taking the whole day off. I’m lounging in bed, eating junk, napping when I feel like it, and doing things I want to do for me. No favors for anyone else, no going out anywhere. Just hanging out doing MY stuff. I so rarely get the chance to just be and do my own things. It’s heavenly!

    1. C Average*

      Enjoy! That sounds wonderful. You’ve not been around here much lately. It’s good to see you!

      1. Ruffingit*

        Thanks! I have been incredibly busy as of late. My mom moved in with us in October and while that is going pretty well, she has tons of doctor appointments and has been twice hospitalized since then. I’m working a lot as well. I do read here a lot, just haven’t had much time to reply.

  3. C Average*

    I’ve recently acquired a couple of new friends who are SUCH kindred spirits and are so much easier to be around than many of the people in the friend-and-acquaintance group I’ve sort of unintentionally assembled through the years.

    They vote, but they’re not political. They come from happy families. They don’t gossip. They consume meat and beer and gluten. They talk shop with a refreshing lack of jargon. They do cool stuff without it being a part of some massive self-improvement plan. They enjoy talking about books and TV and stuff their cat did and good places for road trips. They seem well-adjusted and happy.

    Man, are they fun. It’s really refreshing, and it’s made me realize I’m less of an introvert than I thought: I’ve just gotten in the habit of avoiding people because so many of the people I happen to know are draining and tedious to be around.

    1. Sidra*

      I would give anything to find friends like that… :( I’m sitting at home on a Saturday because seeing friends feels like a hassle. I have one set of friends who are great, but they have a baby so while I understand things have changed, I wish they could be more spontaneous and not talk about the baby so much.

      1. C Average*

        I wish I could offer any good advice. For me it was pure serendipity. I met one of them in an exercise class I’d signed up for and the other one is HER friend. It’s funny, though: the first day of class, when the instructor asked us why we were in the class, she got to me and I said, “Y’know, honestly, I’m fine with my weight and fitness and the way I look. I just wanted to bust out of my all-running-all-the-time rut and maybe make some new friends.” I wonder if me mentioning my interest in friendship made me more approachable to my new friend? I dunno.

    2. This is the way the world ends.*

      I can relate, maybe: I know that for many years I just accepted people as friends if they wanted to hang out with me. But I’ve learned to be picky about this: too many bad experiences with friends who were soul-sucks, friends who were jerks, friends I couldn’t rely upon, and so forth.

      So it’s nice to find friends who are just plain real people, without affectation or pretension.

      One thing, though: if they have you over, and they tell you not to look in the basement?

      Don’t look in the basement.

      1. C Average*

        Hahaha!

        I totally tell people not to look in the basement, because it is a disaster. Some people have a junk drawer? We have a junk FLOOR.

        (It’s not a hoarder situation. Our basement is just very lived-in–it’s got the kids’ musical instruments out and various toys strewn around and blankets flung all over the couch and baskets of laundry in the hallway. It’s pretty much never company-ready.)

        1. GOG11*

          +1

          My basement has always been that way. I keep the main floor uncluttered and put away, but all bets are off in the basement.

        2. danr*

          HA!… our basement is just that. It’s not finished, but things are in it in recognizable collections of stuff. We also have our extras down there on shelves.

      1. C Average*

        I met one of them in an exercise class I’m taking, and the other one is HER friend. If you’re in Portland, come on over and watch the Super Bowl with us tomorrow!

        1. BRR*

          Sadly I’m on the east coast. I’ve always wanted to just approach people at the gym and say you look cool let’s be friends. This just confirms that thought.

        2. Anna*

          I get where you’re coming from. I’m in Portland, too. I went to Pip’s Donuts the other day and while the donuts are GREAT, I internally sighed and rolled my eyes at the absolute adorable hipster twee Portlandness of the place. Sometimes Portland and its denizens make me want to punch things. Finding people you click with is so much fun and I am so happy to have my gang of bad-ass, say the ef word as part of normal vocabulary, play CAH, and drink too much friends. :)

    3. Ruffingit*

      Please let me know if they’re accepting applications for new friends anytime soon. ;) It’s awesome that you’ve found these people. A few years back, I made the conscious decision to rid myself of dramatic, gossipy, soul-sucking people and it’s helped a lot. Still, there are some people we cannot avoid such as bosses, co-workers, etc. who can drain us. It’s good you’ve found great people to counterbalance the ones that can’t be avoided.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Yay!
      I’ve got a meetup with Whovian friends later. They’re not really besties more than acquaintances, because I only see them at meetups. Some of them hang out with each other because they work together and some of them work nights, but they never think to ask me along when they do other stuff unless it’s a group function. :P That’s it for friends around here, I’m afraid.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Nothing–though I’m sure if I asked this one person to hang out she would, if she weren’t working.
          We played Pictionary last night and it was fun (everything we do is Doctor Who-themed).

    5. Lady Bug*

      We acquired some relaxed, drama free friends a few years ago, who live three hours away. We happily drive three hours several times a year to see them!

    6. Cruciatus*

      Ahh, friends. How I wish I had more of them–not even a bestie, just someone(s) to pal around with occasionally more than once every 2 months). It’s weird because I feel like I’m a good friend–I listen, I share and try not to do either too much, but still I just don’t have many friends. I’m not invited out much (and I’ve tried doing the inviting but “Oh, can’t that night” comes up a lot. I won some tickets to something and it was really a huge chore to even find someone that I would want to go with and that would want to/be able to go with me. That wasn’t a great feeling. Last night on FB a picture of a bunch of my coworkers was posted of them at some (non-work) event. I like events! When I think back, I realize it’s kinda been like this a long time so it must be me in some way. It’s perhaps strange–the people I get along with the best at work (where I see/meet people the most often) are women a decade or more older than me. There’s something about me they appreciate (I hope!) that my peer group (early 30s) doesn’t seem to, though I’m not quite sure what it is.

      1. Saucy Minx*

        Ah, now the joys of the wide world are before you. Once a person enters the workforce, you most likely will meet a much greater variety of people, & one of the best things is that you can, if you haven’t before now, develop friendships w/ people of all ages, types, styles, or what-not. No longer will your greatest tie to friendship be that you were born in the same year.

        When I moved to London in my late 20s, I got a job in book publishing & was befriended by a CW who was 20+ years older. What fun we had! How nice her husband was! And the friendship continued despite my moving back to the USA, seeing them at rare intervals, & keeping up contact via snail mail. I rook that couple for a shining example of how to stay lively & keep my social life interesting.

      2. Revanche*

        Sort of ditto this, though I’d say the onus is really on me that I haven’t made one new friend since moving to the Bay Area .. 4 years ago? They’re all acquaintances, or my husband’s friends who have extended their allegiances to include me. I’m not exactly a going out and doing things type these days, though, thanks to ChronicStuff, so most of my closer friends started out as online acquaintances, and grew closer. Doesn’t do much for being able to hang out with people in person, though!

    7. Stephanie*

      They consume meat and beer and gluten.

      That must be a challenge to find in the Pacific NW (less the beer part perhaps).

      1. C Average*

        It is! And I know it sounds terribly shallow to choose one’s friendship circle based on things like dietary habits, but I’ve had a few group gatherings that made me feel like a short-order cook. It’s such fun to invite people over for the Super Bowl and say, “I’m making a pot of chili and homemade bread. Bring some beers,” and have the response be “Yum! Sounds amazing,” rather than, “Oh, I can’t eat that.”

        1. Stephanie*

          I’ve been there. First time a friend came over, he’s like “I don’t really eat red meat, I keep kosher, am sort or lactose intolerant, and am allergic to mangoes, pineapples, apples, and carrots.” I come from a family of inveterate meat eaters, so I was trying to figure out how to work with all that. (I think I made something Indian.)

          1. Stephanie*

            Oh and to add: I think the issue is how people present it. I don’t mind working around “Yeah, this food will kill me” or “I don’t eat pork because of my religion.” I think it’s more annoying when people are sanctimonious about it and turn you into a frazzled short-order cook.

            As I’ve mentioned on here before, I have a whole part of my family that will get overly picky…just because. It’s the worst.

            1. Artemesia*

              The proper response to an invitation where they are BBQing burgers or ribs or making chili and you can’t eat that — regardless of the reason — is to say ‘oh that sounds like fun; I ‘m vegetarian, can I bring a veggie main dish to go on the table? ‘ or ‘I don’t eat red meat, but I have a great chicken dish I’d love to bring.’ or ‘I am lactose intolerant, allergic to onions, mangos, parsley and shellfish — so feeding me is a trial. How bout if I bring a main dish to share that works for me?’

              How hard is this?

              I had a child with a very restrictive diet during the grade school years; thank goodness she outgrow the problem that necessitated it — but I always made sure to provide a treat for birthday parties and such so she wouldn’t be excluded and people wouldn’t have to accommodate her.

              1. catsAreCool*

                What Artemesia said. I don’t like the taste of beer, I don’t like meat, and I’ve been trying to cut down on gluten, but the key is to take responsibility for it yourself and don’t act like you’re better than others just because you eat differently.

              2. esra*

                Ugh yes. My crohn’s means lots of dietary restrictions, so I bring something fun I know I can eat and other people will enjoy. But a few people in my circle of friends never bring anything and just bitch the whole time that they aren’t being accommodated.

                1. Anna*

                  One of my closest friends from college has Celiac and has started doing that so she knows there’s at least ONE dish she absolutely can have without problem. All her friends and family know what she can and can’t have and try to keep their dishes as friendly as possible, but she doesn’t expect them to bend over backwards. The goal is to be as chill as possible and not make it overly difficult for the host.

            2. TL -*

              I just say I probably can’t eat anything but not to worry about it – either I’ll eat beforehand or bring something for myself (and refuse to share, because my food’s expensive. :( ).

              My problem is more people insisting they’ll cook for me, and then I have to feel utterly awful running through the ingredients and/or turning it down.

        2. Felicia*

          I don’t have trouble finding friends who consume beer, though I do have trouble finding friends who consume meat and dairy. The only friend i have that eats meat also does not eat gluten. I love gluten.

          1. Sheep*

            I love gluten too – but I can’t eat it!! I understand how annoying it is to cook for people with restrictions, but please remember how sucky it is for those of us who have to live with them! (At least for those of us who don’t have a choice…)

            1. Melissa*

              I actually don’t mind cooking for people with dietary restrictions, whether medical (celiac, Crohn’s) or by choice (vegetarian). It’s like a fun challenge to find something that they can eat. But I don’t like people who act holier-than-thou about their dietary restrictions or who use pseudoscience to justify their eating habits and choices.

              1. Felicia*

                Yeah, it really depends how you are about your dietary restriction. Like people who insisted that every single thing at a dinner was something they could eat, and if you only made 1/2 things they could eat they act like you don’t care, or people who can’t eat a certain thing, which they tell you, but then have a list of things they also dislike which is commonly found in food they can eat, but don’t tell you about their dislikes. Or this one guy i knew who claimed he was gluten free but drank normal beer, and was so holier than thou about it. So it’s more of an attitude thing. Also one person who was both vegan AND gluten free, by choice, and allergic to a couple other random things, and that was just soo hard.

        3. JustPickANameAlready*

          Ugh. Had “friends” like this–even going out was a pain in the ass.

          Typical scenario: “____, _____, & I are meeting up at X for dinner tonight, interested?”
          “_____ can’t eat there because she is a vegetarian but does not like vegetables, how about ____ instead?”

          Etc. The kicker was that they had a lot to say behind my back about how *I* made going out difficult, which is utter BS. I had two places on my will not eat list: Red Robin (overpriced, way too noisy/crowded) and The Melting Pot (overpriced, ESPECIALLY when you are the one single in a group of couples).

          When the three of us finally put our foot down once, and stated that no, we were ACTUALLY going to X for dinner because that is what we were in the mood for, feel free to join but if you don’t want to we could all always meet up afterwards at another place for coffee/dessert, it caused MAJOR drama.

          So much happier now that I have withdrawn from that group.

        4. Emily*

          I agree so much. I am in Portland as well and it seems every time I try to have a board game night and cook for people it turns into “I guess we are only eating raw veggies” because I get the old “I’m gluten free, sugar free, vegan, raw, don’t like non-local meats, only will eat local fish, don’t like chicken, don’t want fruits” and by the time I find something for all I am spending $200 at Whole Foods and cooking for hours. I love this city, but man is it full of picky eaters!

            1. C Average*

              This is how my running club friend circle is. We’ve got gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, nut-free . . . it feels like if you drew a Venn diagram of everyone’s food restrictions, in the middle there would be a little tiny space with carrot sticks in it.

              I understand that people have reasons for their dietary preferences, but it makes entertaining an unbelievable headache, especially when (like me) you basically eat everything.

              1. Sage*

                I’m allergic to gluten, so I don’t eat it. I also don’t expect anyone to accommodate me. I cook and bring my own food, or I eat before/after an event. I offer to prepare or bring foods everyone can enjoy. That whole “I’m a vegetarian but I don’t like vegetables” crap CHAPS MY ASS for days. Those are the people who don’t cook, won’t cook, refuse to learn how to cook, but by God you’d need a 20 foot ladder for that moral high horse they’re riding while living on milkshakes, cookies, canned corn, and mashed potatoes. Good riddance to the lot of them.

    8. Not So NewReader*

      Congrats on finding these wonderful folks!
      I sound old, but it does matter who we hang with. We hang with cool people they tend to lead us to more cool people.
      Now I was told when I was less than ten, be careful who you hang out with. Lacking any further explanation, I skated by that until I was about 40 ish.

      The one thing I did learn by watching what happened with my father is that it is important to keep adding new people to our lives. They don’t have to be besties, but they should be someone we like chatting with and be people whose opinions we value/trust.

      C Average- these folks will bring you to more cool folks and more cool activities. You’re going to have some FUN.

    9. Elkay*

      So jealous of you. I can’t make friends, the only friend I’ve successfully kept is the one I married.

      1. C Average*

        I don’t make them easily, at least not the kind that I want to make and keep. That’s part of why I’m so effusively exultant about this–it’s been a LONG time coming. I have a couple of old, old friends who live far away, but it’s been years since I’ve had a good friend where I live who could just pop by to watch the game.

        Staying friends with the person you married is a major accomplishment!

      2. Samantha*

        I’ve found its really challenging to make new friends as an adult. My two closest friends I have been friends with since high school and they are great, but they live 2 and 5 hours away from me. Most of my “friends” in my city are actually wives of my husband’s friends, and while I like them just fine, I don’t have much in common with them or feel particularly close to any of them.

        1. Elkay*

          All of my friends from school & college declined to keep in touch with me. It’s kind of pathetic because I live in the town I grew up in and I have no friends here.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          It is a challenge, and this place is very family-oriented and I don’t have a family so there is nothing to do. I do have some friends with four kids (they’re awesome kids) who invite me when they have a big bonfire/weenie roast. Most of the other guests are from their church, and I like them all and it’s not churchy. It’s always fun.

      3. Nashira*

        Have you looked for local meetup groups for things that interest you? I’ve been able to make a couple new friends that way, and hope to make more once we can start attending a couple new groups I’ve found.

        1. Elkay*

          There aren’t any meet up groups that appeal to me and I don’t want to be an organiser. I’m resistant anyway because I’ve tried to follow the advice of taking up activities and it hasn’t led to me gaining any friends at all.

    10. Beezus*

      I had this epiphany last year! I thought I was introverted, and being around some of the people in my circle actually gave me a fair bit of anxiety, and I thought it was all me. Then I met some new people, and found myself being outgoing and fun! Then I remembered that I had my outgoing and fun moments, years ago. I’m having a hard time reshaping my circle, though – the people who bring out the best in me keep being all busy and stuff, and the people who bring me down are hard to cut out for family reasons. If nothing else, it’s good to know it isn’t me!

    11. Trixie*

      I think this is one of my goals for this year. I’ve keep myself pretty isolated because I wasn’t sure how long I’d be living this area and I was really, really watching my funds. I know there’s plenty of free things out there but I was honestly in a place where every dime was already spent. I met quite a few folks at the gym where I was working out so regularly, and now teaching. Depending how often you’re working out, you send up seeing folks quite regularly and friendships form so organically.

      When applying for jobs, I’m looking for something good size because in my mind the bigger the better as far as meeting new folks/friends and friends of friends. When looking at staying in current city versus something nearby, I’m thinking about the mix of single/married/kids/no kids/ages because its not terribly diverse here.

    12. Anonymous for this one*

      The people I love most in the world are very needy. Ill, disabled, financially destitute – I love them so much but it’s so hard sometimes. I’m not the kind of person who has many friends, but I would love to have just one who didn’t need anything from me, who could go out and do some fun things, who didn’t have to cancel plans at the last minute. I’m thankful that I’m healthy and able to get around without any trouble, and I really want to help my loved ones. I feel selfish some times that I feel this way, but I am glad that I can help them when they really need it (they all try to make it without help, but you know how life is). This past week has been tough, but things are better today.

      1. Also anon for this topic*

        Yes, yes, yes! It’s hard enough being supportive to dear people who have the skills and self-awareness to hold up their end of the friendship (e.g., friends listen to each other vent…but they take turns and both parties know when to move on to another topic). It’s almost impossible (in my experience, anyway) to stay consistently connected to someone who lacks said skills & awareness and treats every single challenge as a top-level crisis. Some people have infinite patience. I don’t. My choices are to get angry and feel guilty, express my anger to the other person and feel even more guilty, or limit my connection time (and still feel guilty, but at least avoid being pulled into the same state of being emotionally unbalanced by every so-called crisis).

    13. Cath in Canada*

      Yay for fun friends!

      For the last few years, my main group of friends has been people I know through my husband. Nice people, but they’re not “my people”. For example, when my husband was working in Montreal for 2 months a few years ago, most of them didn’t call me or invite me to stuff – they just weren’t in the habit, because most invitations to group events go through my husband. I had to invite myself, which felt awkward.

      A lot of the “my people” I’d known before that had moved on to other cities and countries, a major downside of a career in science – you meet awesome people from all around the world, but then they move on after 3-5 years. But in the last 2 years I’ve *finally* started to cultivate a group of geeky scientist friends who are somewhat stable/long-term residents, and it is SO much more fun! And once you find just one or two “my people”, you start meeting more of them – the friends I usually go to Cafe Scientifique with had other plans on Tuesday, so I went by myself and sat with some of those peripheral friends-of-friends. I had a blast, talking about photosynthesis and triffids and why the people on The Walking Dead suck for not getting hold of some mountain bikes and guard dogs. MY PEOPLE!

  4. INTP*

    I started my 30-day gluten free experiment yesterday (well, sort of, I had some soy sauce without reading the label but nothing else). Any tips and tricks I need to know? Especially for vegetarian gluten free? I’m doing 2 weeks of meal planning tonight for groceries and food prep tomorrow. Planning on some quinoa veggie casseroles, black bean enchiladas with corn tortillas, tofu and broccoli with rice noodles and a tamari-based sauce, and borscht (plus buckwheat pancakes for Sunday morning and socca pizza for Friday nights). The only thing that feels restrictive about it so far is that I can be a food and baking perfectionist, and I like to try to create really amazing cakes and cookies and whatnot, so it’s annoying to have to make changes and instead shoot for cooking things that are passable but not the best I’ve ever eaten. That and a lot of my “cheap luxuries” are not available in GF form, like the $1.70 gnocchis and $1.20 pizza dough at Trader Joe’s. (Not that pizza dough and gnocchi are super luxurious, but they’re more exciting than most things that cost less than $1 per serving.)

    It was suggested by my psychiatrist as something that helps some people with ADHD. I’ve decided that I’m not going to tell anyone except family members about it, or if I absolutely have to, just be vague and say it was suggested as a temporary experiment by my doctor for some health issues. People can be so weird about GF that I don’t want to invoke even more judgment by saying “I’m gluten free” and then eating pasta in front of the same person the next month if this doesn’t help with anything and I don’t stick with it. (I’ve already been told that I should absolutely not be trying this without a confirmed celiac diagnosis, which seems odd to me. I’m a gluten agnostic – maybe it’s as harmful as people say, maybe not, probably somewhere in between – but it’s not dangerous and cheaper than a lab test so I see no reason not to. It’s not that tragic if I go a month without lasagna and have nothing to show for it.)

    1. Calla*

      No real tips/tricks, since I’m not gluten-free, but I did have a roommate for a while who legit had celiac’s disease, and I learned that corn pasta is WAY better than rice pasta. Rice pasta tends to be gluey and falls apart, but corn pasta was much closer to the “real” stuff. So if you like pasta, go for that kind!

      Also, the Betty Crocker gluten free brownie mix was really good.

      1. TL -*

        I eat rice pasta all the time and if you do go for rice pasta, shorter is better.

        Don’t buy gluten free spaghetti. Just don’t. There’s a gluten free rice or tapioca based lingiuni (sp?) in the freezer section of Whole Foods that’s okay, but that’s about it.

        1. Another IT Manager*

          Seconded. I usually do 5 minutes on the boil, turn off the gas and let it sit another 5. (This has been tested with a 1-cup serving of Tinkyada spirals; I haven’t tried the other shapes recently.)

      2. HR Manager*

        Not gluten-free either, but I eat a lot of rice-based noodles (the whole Asian thing). I don’t know about substituting this for Western recipes, but rice pasta has to be cooked and cooled under running water in order to avoid the clumpy and gluey mess. It will also become difficult to work with, so I can imagine it’s not great for some recipes. They are terrific for noodle soups though, as the broth keeps them from turning into a ball of rice flour dough.

    2. Lore*

      In terms of baking, my friend who’s a serious cook and gf swears by the brand of flour formulated by Thomas Keller and sold at Williams Sonoma. It’s expensive but I can vouch that it makes amazing baked goods if you need to scratch your baking itch this month.

    3. C Average*

      I occasionally cook for friends who are gluten-free, and one thing I make that always gets devoured is a basic dish of lightly seasoned roasted veggies topped with gluten-free breadcrumbs (which come in a big can in the gluten-free aisle and are surprisingly good). They crisp up in the oven and give the dish a hint of crunch. It only takes a scant handful to make a whole pan of roasted vegetables a bit more appealing. I throw in a little Italian seasoning for a little extra yum.

      You can also mix them with a little sugar and throw them on top of berries or apples and bake up a kind of ad-hoc fruit cobbler sort of thing that’s pretty delicious.

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          Me three. My sister is a diagnosed coeliac and hence GF, and I am SO thankful I didn’t get it. Lasagne, pasta, bread, cookies, cake… The GF options just aren’t the same!
          Not to mention how careful she has to be – restaurants will often cook her GF toast in the same toaster as the normal bread, or fry GF chips in the same oil as the normal chips – sorry guys, you’ve just contaminated her meal! I can’t tell you how many times she’s come over to my house and I’ve absent-mindedly stirred my pasta saucepan and then used the same spoon in hers – she’s like “aaarg chuck it out and start again!”

          1. Elkay*

            I was tested for being coeliac and I got the results this week (I’m not), all I kept thinking was “If I am I wonder how quickly I have to go gluten free because I’ve got pasta bake for dinner”.

    4. catsAreCool*

      Good for you for trying it!

      Corn Chex and Rice Chex cereal are gluten free, and they’re pretty tasty.

      I ate a lot of rice and beans when I tried gluten free. A lot of supermarkets have smallish gluten-free sections, and there are usually a few gluten-free things in other places too. New Seasons and Whole Foods have some good options.

      Popcorn is usually gluten-free. Corn Thins (the original) are actually pretty good and are lowish in sodium (Corn Thins look like skinny rice cakes).

      Some potato chips and corn chips are gluten-free.

      If you’re like me, it might help to find a way to “spoil” yourself to make up for no gluten.

    5. Folklorist*

      I haven’t read through all of these, so forgive me if I’m repeating–but a big thing will be to change out your wooden/porous cookware at home. That stuff soaks up gluten like crazy and leads to cross-contamination. I wrote a blog post here about traveling with Celiac disease (it works well for other allergies too, and has some good things to keep in mind while eating out in general). http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com/2012/07/20/food-fridays-traveling-with-celiac-disease/

      You’ll get better with practice at being able to spot things on the menu. My mom was diagnosed with Celiac almost 10 years ago after suffering for 20 years. You’re right to not trust that people will always take you seriously when you say you NEED it. A good bet is to scope out restaurants that take it seriously and don’t cross-fry stuff (french fries don’t go into the hush puppy vat, for instance). If you’re ever at a loss and desperate to eat, a steak or chicken and a salad with olive oil/vinegar is something that you can find at pretty much any restaurant without fussing. And vegetarian/vegan restaurants are usually pretty good at being sensitive to other food needs.

      The big thing is to never be afraid to ask questions. You’re not putting a server or chef out by asking questions–you’re asking them to do their job. Just be nice and tip well for good service (universal anyway!) and you should have a pretty good experience. The people who will be rude to you or disrespect your needs are few and far between–you just hear about it more when it happens. And then you don’t go back to those places!

      1. Folklorist*

        Ah, and I just read through the end of you post, re: gluten agnostic–BAD Folklorist! So maybe don’t overhaul your life and cookware just yet. A few extra insights: Gluten isn’t harmful to everyone, and experts are becoming increasingly sure that there isn’t really an “intolerance” or “allergy” to gluten; you’re either Celiac or not. Gluten has take a lot of flack lately, and there’s really only anecdotal evidence where people say “I feel better if I don’t eat it!”

        If you feel better if you don’t eat it, cool, but don’t tell anyone you’re allergic or Celiac…it might be purely psychological. I fully support people who feel better by not eating something, as long as they don’t make a huge deal about it and spread the gospel and talk Only. About. That. It wouldn’t hurt, though, if you told people, “I’m trying the no-gluten thing to see how it goes for me.” It’s common enough now that people won’t make a big deal about it if you don’t.

        Finally, if you have a good primary care doctor, there is actually a quick and fairly painless blood test they can run to see if you have the elevated protein levels in your blood that indicate Celiac. You don’t have to go through invasive procedures for that, and it might be a faster way to see if you would benefit from trying it.

        1. Observer*

          The thing is, it’s really not all that clear that the ONLY issue is celiac. It’s true that there is little more than anecdotal evidence to bear out any other claims, but that’s not proof. The problem is that no has done any real studies, so it’s really hard to tell. Also, there is the issue that some people react to wheat, and it’s conflated with a gluten problem, when it isn’t. So, I’m in the “try it and see” school.

          But, I do agree that whatever your do, don’t get into the “gluten is evil” or “humans are not biologically capable of properly digesting gluten / wheat”. “My doctor suggested I try it and see how it goes” is a good way to go for now, and if you find it works “My doctor suggested I try it and seems to work for me.” Mentioning that you are under a doctor’s care, and that it’s your individual quirk goes a long way in pacifying most reasonable people.

          And, yes, unless you have a definite diagnosis of Celiac, please don’t say that’s what you have.

          1. TL -*

            The latest evidence, actually, is that gluten sensitivity is not really a thing – it’s just been a study or two, but from what I’ve seen, when they’ve looked into it, it’s either Celiac’s or not. (Wheat issues are a thing but rare – I have a wheat allergy but am cool with gluten.)

            That being said, if following a gluten free diet makes you feel better, than find your own bliss. Just don’t say it’s an allergy if it’s not.

            1. Observer*

              That’s the thing – very few studies, that have been very limited. And, yes, problems with wheat and problems with gluten ARE different – I’m like you – can’t handle wheat but do fine with spelt, which also has gluten.

              You are right – it’s not an allergy. Which is why I go with “It doesn’t agree with me. No idea why.” It’s the absolute truth.

              1. kt*

                I like this line, Observer: “It doesn’t agree with me. No idea why.” I don’t have celiac according to the antibody panel, although I didn’t have a biopsy. But if I avoid wheat and other starchy things, I avoid explosive diarrhea. That intestinal response might be psychological or it might be caused by aliens; I don’t care. My days are simply easier to manage if I’m not crampy and constrained by toilet distance.

                I’ve done my own research by keeping a food diary. Beer is ok in limited quantities. Bread is usually not, although the more fermented the less bad. Funky tapioca-starch gluten-free baked goods from a plastic bag at Whole Foods are not good either, in general. FODMAPS don’t seem to correlate, though I’d hoped they would. I fully support the scientists who are trying to figure out what is up with this. I don’t make a big deal about it and I bring food to things — bacon-wrapped dates, or almond cookies, or meringue topped with blueberries and whipped cream. But I do really hate people who tell me it’s all in my head because mechanisms are not identified. Fine, it’s in my head. What really concerns me is my intestines. I have to live my life. I don’t enjoy going to the bathroom four times before breakfast. I don’t like crying because my gas is so bad. I don’t see why taking a pill would be more legit and defensible than simply not eating your banana bread. So quit with the judgement about me having a beer with my bunless burger.

                Not directed at you, Observer, just an internet rant inspired by the conversation :)

                For excellent recipes check out blogger PaleOMG (great Superbowl snacks and treats) and TheClothesMakeTheGirl (esp the middle-eastern inspired recipes and comfort food).

    6. Sage*

      Your meals sound really good! I eat gluten-free as well. I started about 2 years ago. I’ve had digestive issues as long as I can remember; been poked, prodded, and scoped on both ends. All I got was “eat more fiber” and “you women… you all hold stress in your gut.” So helpful!

      Since you like to bake, I can suggest the Gluten Free Girl blog (her cookbooks are great, too!). Also, try David Lebovitz’s blog. He’s a pastry chef who trained in France and moved to Paris 10 years ago. He is so funny and engaging. His recipes are top-notch because they’re so thoroughly tested. He doesn’t shy away from re-working recipes to accomodate “le gluten free.” Oh, you HAVE to check out anything by Yotam Ottolenghi… his column for The Guardian, his gorgeous, drool-worthy cookbooks. He focuses on vegetables and vegetarian cooking. His recipes aren’t specifically gluten-free, but many just turn out that way.

      Couple of thoughts:
      *The GF flour by Thomas Keller is called Cup 4 Cup.
      *4C makes yummy, crispy GF bread crumbs
      *Tahini is yummy (roasted tastes better) abd naturally GF
      *Big fan of any GF products by Udi’s or Glutino. Consistently good. (Not a fan of Rudi’s brand)
      *Not all products made from buckwheat – pancake mix, soba noodles – are made from 100% buckwheat. Be sure to check the label.
      *This soup from NYT Cooking… so good! http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1016062-red-lentil-soup-with-lemon
      *This soup from “Gluten Free Girl” … I am embarrassed by how much I love this. Recipe begins at the bottom of the page. https://books.google.com/books?id=yR6yLVYlZ78C&pg=PA145&lpg=PA145&dq=gluten+free+girl+cawwots&source=bl&ots=MzqfP0Sp_m&sig=DRbmeLwi4ftpz_kVITi3p2REGXk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=cIzNVOD1E4GAgwTI3oHQCA&ved=0CBwQ6AEwAA
      *Another recipe that I make all the time. If you like spinach, and bold flavors, you’ll swoon. Use peanut butter or tahini (or both!). http://benandbirdy.blogspot.com/2011/07/japanese-restaurant-spinach-with-sweet.html?m=1

      Hope I haven’t bombarded you too much!

      1. S from CO*

        Sage-I had digestive issues for many years and a couple of years ago a nutritionist recommended that I try eating GF for 30 days. I am so glad that I did it! I feel like a new person since most of the horrible symptoms are gone now!
        You included a lot of great information in your post.
        I wanted to add:
        -Gluten free magazine (a good source of GF products & recipes)
        -Google gluten free goddess (Katrina) I love to bake and I love this site

      2. Cristina in England*

        I prefer the tone of Nicole Hunn at glutenfreeonashoestring.com to glutenfreegirl, who has gotten really condescending to her readers over the last 4 years. Also, Nicole’s recipes are more reliable.

    7. TL -*

      Gluten free brownies are basically fudge and yummy if you like that sort of thing. Haagen-Daz is my go-to dessert, because their ingredients list is super simple. Cookies and other baked goods tend to range from pretty bad to meh to “is this good or have I just lost my sense of scale?” but they’re better if you refrigerate them (or at least I think so.)

      Stay away from fried foods entirely unless you have your own fryer – very few restaurants keep a GF fryer.

    8. beckythetechie*

      Like oatmeal? Quinoa cooked in 50/50 apple juice and water + apple pie spices + dried apple slices + chopped walnuts = a pretty darn good hot breakfast. You can add a splash of milk in with the cooking quinoa if you like heavier, creamy oatmeal and aren’t aiming for totally vegan. I did notice, though, that the black/blue quinoa tastes a little stronger cooked this way than yellow or red.

      1. JustPickANameAlready*

        Don’t forget unsweetened vanilla almond milk! Creamy deliciousness and only 30 calories per cup!

        1. INTP*

          Yes! I always keep almond milk on hand, though I usually get the lower-sugar rather than the no-sugar kind. I’m lactose intolerant too (luckily not too severely – I can handle fermented dairy where the lactose has been partially digested by the bacteria, just not straight milk).

    9. V. Meadowsweet*

      I’m a big fan of Bob’s Red Mill – their All-Purpose Baking Flour can be straight-up substituted for regular flour and it works beautifully. They also have a pizza crust mix that I keep meaning to try but haven’t quite got to yet…
      Pasta – Tinkyada is probably my #1, and not just because of the fun shapes in the Little Dreams :) They also have lasagna noodles!
      As mentioned above, Udi’s and Glutino both have really reliable baked goods. If you like bagels, Glutino’s are more like bagels while Udi’s are more like croissants, but both are tasty :) I think Kinnikinnick does the best cake mixes, and they have very good bread too.

      I can’t see any reason going gluten-free for a month would cause an issue…it’s a targeted version of an elimination diet. And it’s not like gluten is an essential nutrient or anything!
      I mostly don’t mention to people I’m gluten free, and I generally just go with ‘I’m avoiding it because it makes life easier’ and let them draw their own conclusions as to why :)

    10. Soupspoon McGee*

      I’ve been on a baking binge lately, and I’ve learned a few things. I mix my own flours just because the gluten-free ones are spendy, and so far for most things, I like mix of rice flour and tapioca or potato starch. To get a nice rise when you bake quickbreads, try about 1/4 cup flax meal and about 1/4 tsp vinegar with a little extra baking soda/baking powder. And things don’t rise the same way, so my banana bread is better as a cake. Baking time seems to be a little longer, but that could be because I’m using bananas and other fruits.

      Yeast breads are another story. I’ve learned not to add nearly as much flour as you would for regular bread–it needs to be sticky to rise and not be a brick. I’ve made tasty but very solid, dense breads.

    11. Observer*

      Lots of luck with this. The fact is that celiac disease is probably under-diagnosed in the US, although even the most expansive estimates that have any solid backing indicate that it’s a relatively rare disease. But, what’s not clear is whether gluten might have other negative effects, much less if there is a threshold where it goes from being innocuous to problematic. So, for something like your situation, where you are dealing with a condition that is very poorly understood (at least in the bio-chemistry), it’s certainly worth exploring.

      Given all that, I think your framing is perfect.

      The real potential issue with going gluten free is that it can be costly and mess up your nutritional intake if you are not careful. There is not too much you can do about the first, but the second is not hard to deal with if you are careful and thoughtful about what you buy.

      Most soy sauces contain gluten. There are, however, some that are gluten free. You are not likely to see them in the fast food places, though. You’ll need to become a real label reader. Wheat is very, very common in vegetarian prepared foods.

      Places / foods that boast about not allowing GMOs are more likely to avoid wheat as an ingredient.

      Also, learn to shop on line. VineMarket (and the related sites) can be a surprisingly good source, and so is Amazon. Walmart is actually surprisingly useful as well. But, simply googling stuff can bring you to some good suppliers. And, this is one place where the google ads are actually genuinely useful.

    12. Another IT Manager*

      GF almost 10 years now. The first three months were the hardest–there’s a lot of times where I was like, “I want a snack; what can I eat?” and none of my go-tos were safe. Now, I have fruit and cheese and milk; my go-to this week has been a mug of milk or an apple with cheese/peanut butter. So I’d say figure out what your go-to snacks are, and have at least one familiar(ish) meal that you can make on days when you just want dinner and you don’t want to have to obsess over every darn ingredient. Au Bon Pain is really good about noting wheat in their food, if they’re near you and you want someone else to make you food.

      I’m going to disagree a little with some of the commenters above–while GF baking products are great and getting better, if you’re going from wheat-based food to gf, the GF stuff is going to taste different (and sometimes that different can just be One More Thing on a day when you don’t want to deal). If you can bring yourself to take a break from baking for a month, you might have better luck overall in your GF experiment–and if you don’t have to go GF, you won’t have a pantry full of expensive flours that you’re less inclined to eat.

      I’m with you on gluten agnosticism, I think; some people can eat it, some people really can’t, and there’s some people in the middle who can eat it, but might feel better if they didn’t. That said, be careful if you eat out; I’ve had a couple times where I ended up with wheat in unexpected dishes, including once in the specifically requested gluten-free dessert.

      Good luck!

    13. AdAgencyChick*

      This is very late so you may not see this, but my thoughts as a Paleo eater: unless you discover through this process that you truly have a gluten allergy, to me it’s not worth trying to recreate gluten-containing products with gluten-free ingredients. Occasionally you’ll find products that are awesome — for example, several years ago when my husband and I were dining out with a friend of his who has severe celiac, the kitchen prepared him a corn-based pasta that was genuinely indistinguishable from wheat-based pasta. But more often, what you end up with is a poor substitution for what you wanted in the first place. Gluten-free pizza tastes like matzo crackers; gluten-free baked goods often have an odd texture to them; so on and so forth. And the substitutes can be even more calorie-intensive than what you were substituting for in the first place! (Many Paleo eaters will go on all day about how much they love almond flour…but diet food it ain’t.)

      I much prefer to follow the Whole30 principle (even though I do not follow the Whole30 diet overall) of making foods that aren’t trying to taste like something else. Sometimes you can do well with foods that serve the same *purpose* as something else without mimicking the taste — for example, I love making cauliflower “rice” in my food processor. No one on earth would say that it tastes like rice, but it’s great for sopping up sauces the way real rice does. Also spaghetti squash in place of noodles, and so on.

      And then if I desperately want something with gluten in it…I just eat the gluten-containing thing, knowing that afterward I may feel a little unpleasant (although I suspect that, with the foods I like to “cheat” with, it’s the sugar and not the gluten that’s messing with my body).

  5. Sandrine (France)*

    I have new nails since last week, I’m pretty happy about them, I can play with nail polish again, wheeeeeeeeee!
    Also ordered clothing on sale, got two orders through the mail, nice clothing that fits, oh my.

    My little cat, Daenerys, is being a jerk (but she’s 7 months old so I’m not surprised) , I’m still looking for a job but all is well.

    Happy times, happy times. Now onto shaving to wear the nice clothes I just got xD …

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        It really is! I have to buy an electric nail filer thingie though, this way I can shorten them little by little and make them look nicer as time goes by…

        It’s harder to use the phone but I made it so they weren’t too long in the first place. I couldn’t grow my real nails that long though haha xD …

  6. Ruth (UK)*

    I got my ears pierced! It’s my 2nd piercing but it’s just the ear lobe again (further back) so now I have 2 lobe piercings in each ear. I’m very excited about this and felt the need to tell everyone in the world (or at least everyone on this website). Hurrah for the free-for-all.

    Now I’m considering getting the cartilage at the top done, hmmmm… (has anyone here had that done? If so, does it hurt a lot? I had my first piercing done with a gun and the one today done with a needle. I remember my first one hurting a lot but this one didn’t hurt at all – in fact, I didn’t even realise she’d done it at first. Supposedly, cartilage hurts a lot more?).

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Cartilage seems to be generally more painful, but if you have a good piercer it’s not a huge deal. It can be sore aftwerwards, though, in a way that earlobes usually aren’t. But whatever you do, get a cartilage piercing done with a needle–piercing guns can really damage the cartilage. They’re not even that great for lobe piercings, but especially bad for cartilage. Honestly, I didn’t find the cartilage that painful, but I had a really good piercer and it was over in a second anyhow.

      Piercings can be addictive! I took my cartilage out because my hair kept catching in it and making me crazy, but I quite liked it. Now I just have the two sets of holes in my lobes since I took out my tongue frenum piercing too.

    2. C Average*

      I had my cartilage done in high school (and then had to remove the earring and let it grow closed when my mom found out–she was furious!). It didn’t hurt much more than a regular piercing. But seconding FDCA, I found that I got my hair caught in the earring a lot.

    3. Gem*

      I think my cartilage hurt less than my lobes (but I got my lobes done at a terrible tween fashion shop so YMMV). The piercer used just a needle and pierced it by hand so it was very quick. I imagine a gun would be painful (plus it’ll heal weird). Don’t do it anywhere they’d use a gun for it, as other people have said.

      I did faint after my cartilage though, which, considering I’d never done that before was weird. And I still can’t sleep with it in without it being sore (Its been…10 years almost?). But I do love it!

    4. Natalie*

      No specific experience with cartilage, but in general the needle is less painful (and safer) than a piercing gun. Piercing guns basically shouldn’t be used. I have a whole rant about that I’ll spare everyone.

      I have my ears, bridge, and labret pierced and used to have pierced nipples, all done with needles. A good, experienced piercer is critical. Also, when the needle goes in, breathe out. I don’t know why that helps but it does.

    5. CollegeAdmin*

      I have a snug piercing, a daith, and a two-point spiral helix. While all three are through ear cartilage, the helix is probably closest to what you’re looking for. (I’ll post a pic of one in a follow-up comment.) I didn’t really think it hurt, but I have a very high pain tolerance. The snug did hurt and hasn’t healed right – it’s a very tricky piercing to have, so I’m planning on trying to get it healthy enough to remove.*

      Word to the wise: consider what side you sleep on if/when you decide to get it done. My snug is on the right, which is the side I sleep on, and it’s definitely part of why it’s not doing well.

      *PSA: Never, ever, remove jewelry from an infected piercing. The hole will close and trap the infection inside, which is a bad idea.

    6. Ruth (UK)*

      I noticed a lot of people mentioning the gun vs needle thing on this. Having had both done on me, I agree with the general sentiment that the needle was better.

      My first one was done with a gun in a jewellery/hair accessory shop. It hurt a lot (because I guess they just shove the stud through) and was a pain to care for with cleaning and the fiddleness of the studs, etc. They kinda jammed it through and said ‘bye’ and that was it.

      This one was done in a tattoo/piercing place with a needle and the woman who did it for me was great – very calm and efficient about it, and very friendly etc. It didn’t hurt, and they were clear I could come back if I had any issues to ask for advice etc with caring for it if I had any problems. I’ve got a BCR which doesn’t seem as prone to catching on things as my old studs. It’s also a slightly bigger/thicker hole…

      So I’m sold on the needles rather than guns argument. I also agree with Former Diet Coke Addict… that I can see why piercings can be addictive.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Piercing guns are just the worst thing. Just the worst. They just punch the stud through the ear, which is just terrible, instead of using a decent needle. Piercers at Claire’s or the Icing or wherever it is don’t have anywhere near the training a professional piercer has (and frankly I’d be surprised if they had any training at all, because I’ve worked in retail and it can be pretty sketchy sometimes) and that’s a terrific way to get infections. They can’t help you if you get an infection, either! I know that the newer guns are supposed to be technically cleaner and better, but the old ones couldn’t be properly sterilized between users. They’re far, far less accurate, too–I got my first set of holes at age twelve or something, and one is way further down on my lobe than the other because the piercing gun made it hard to see exactly where the piercing would go.

        Needles only. Piercing guns are just nasty pieces of business.

    7. Hummingbird*

      I have two lobe piercings in each year. I got the first when I was 13, the second at 28. I was barely allowed to get the first pair, and since I had always liked the way two earrings looked together, I decided to go for it. My parents weren’t thrilled because they could barely understand one, but since I’m an adult, all they could really do was shake their heads.

      I still live at home so anything I do is usually noticed.

      I know what you mean though about wanting more. I tend to faint after getting my ears pierced – happened both times at 13 and 28. However, I still like the look of other types of piercings on the ear. Except for the scar that’s on my left ear, I would get a third lobe piercing. I don’t think they can pierce scar tissue (my ear was split when I was a kid but healed back entirely – only a faint red line remains). I can get it on my other ear, but I would not like the lopsided-ness. I wouldn’t mind a cartilage, but I hear it is very prone to infections. I sort of like the look of a tragus piercing, but I’d be afraid to get it!

    8. Elkay*

      I had my cartilage done about 16 years ago at Claire’s Accessories (in the UK), they did it with a gun, apparently you shouldn’t do cartilage with a gun, it’s a wonder there isn’t a whole generation of UK 30-somethings with half an ear as the reason for not using a gun is that it can shatter your cartilage and kill it off. I’ve got two holes in my lobes which were done with a gun, I just remember it feeling like a really big pinch. Navel piercing on the other hand was horribly painful.

    9. GOG11*

      I got a third piercing (so one further back than what you just got) and it was done with a piercing gun. It never healed right and I think there’s scar tissue/extra cartilage there now because it’s much thicker on the one side than the other. When I got my nose done, the piercer used a needle and the experience was altogether much better (though the two types/locations of piercings aren’t the same, obviously).

    10. Persephone Mulberry*

      I had single lobe holes forever, got a second set around my 18th birthday (which I never remember to wear anything in, because I have so few studs in my earring collection), and had my nose done for my 30th. I had planned to do three small studs in my cartilage, but then I started growing my hair out and they wouldn’t have shown for like a year. Now that my hair is finally long enough to pull back, I’m thinking about it again.

    11. blue_eyes*

      I have two piercings in each earlobe (done at Claire’s when I was 13 and 16) and a nostril piercing (piercing parlor, 19). The nostril hurt a lot more, but it only really hurt for an instant when he put the needle through. I almost fainted after the nostril piercing. I would be more worried about sleeping on it or accidentally pulling on it, because that does hurt a lot.

    12. Noah*

      I have an industrial piercing, which is a bar through two holes in your upper ear. It does hurt, but it wasn’t unbearable. The needle itself wasn’t that bad. The worst part was after they used the needle they had to take a bar and push it through using the needle as a guide. Took a few weeks to heal, but no issues.

  7. Not Looking Forward to the Bill*

    Would you post this on the (work-related) Friday open thread? This one is exclusively for non-work talk. Thank you! – Alison

  8. Colette*

    Anyone been to Korea? My cousin is in Seoul, and I’m toying with the idea of going to visit. I’d stay in a hotel and probably do some day trips or tours.

    1. NBF*

      I had a 24 hour layover there last year, enough time to get just a taste of the city, and it is definitely somewhere I want to go back to and experience more of. It is really easy to get around on public transportation and the food I had there was great.

    2. Sandrine (France)*

      I would go back in a heartbeat. I only did airport transfer to get to Japan, but I did a few hours in the country and it was pretty awesome.

      If you’re looking for ideas, you can look for the Eat Your Kimchi Youtube channel… They used to do mostly kpop but they branched out and speak about many things now ^^

    3. This is the way the world ends.*

      I’ve been to South Korea once on business. I didn’t care much for the place. A lot of people told me “wow, you’ll have a great time there!” and I’d ask “what should I see and do while I’m there?” and nobody could think of anything.

      If you’re traveling as a tourist, you may have a better time of it: the people I was working with kept me in one conference room or another for 14-16 hours each day. It probably didn’t help that of all of the cuisines in the world, Korean is my least favorite of them all. What they call “hot sauce” I call “ketchup”. And there’s supposed to be umpteen different varieties of kimchi – but all I ever encountered was the same boring kind that came from the Korean equivalent of SysCo.

      I have a friend who has visited South Korea as part of his military duty, and he told me that the DMZ is somewhat interesting. Personally, I would have liked to tour North Korea – there really aren’t that many batshit-crazy totalitarian dictatorships around anymore, so it’d be a great story for the grandkids – but I simply didn’t have time, not to mention it apparently requires a fair amount of hassle, way in advance, to get on the bus.

      But South Korea: I had a friend tell me: “oh, you’re gonna love how they drag in all of their nephews and uncles into the deal, and you’ll never understand what they’re supposed to be doing”. And he was right: the team I was working with grew from 8 to 40+ over the course of the week; most of them never spoke a word. One of them was female.

      I was expecting we’d end each day with a couple of hours of binge-drinking and karaoke. But not this crowd. I’m a very infrequent drinker, but I was sorta looking forward to “experiencing” this. But it didn’t happen. We had a nice dinner the last evening where there was lots of Soju, which is sort’ve the “Official Booze of South Korea”, and that was fun. Soju is like 20 proof and tastes a lot like Japanese Saki; at dinner, you make a toast and pour it – with two hands, one hand holds the bottle, the other hand holds your wrist, to show respect – into the cups of your associates, and then everyone drinks.

      Oh – about 5% of the Korean language is composed of English loan-words, so I could kinda sorta almost follow many conversations. Almost.

      Anyhow – I don’t mean to be negative. But I’d strongly advise that you do some research and pull together an itinerary of some kind before you go. It’s been about 10 years since I was there, maybe they’ve built a Disney theme park there. I honestly have no idea what people there do for fun.

    4. MsMapmaker*

      The public transportation in Seoul is good, and it’s easy to get around via metro, bus, or taxi. It’s also relatively easy to get to other parts of South Korea via KTX or bus, if you’re interested in seeing other parts of the country. There are any number of museums and palaces that are worth visiting, and if you google Gyeongbokgung Palace, you can find the Korea Tourism site with information on many of these. I’ve also seen good information listed in the recent Lonely Planet guide book for South Korea that has some good walking tours of various neighborhoods, including Insadong. Seoul can be crowded, especially in some of the more popular touristy and shopping areas, like Myeongdong.

      Fall is probably the best time to go, in my opinion. The rainy season during summer (July to early to mid August) is miserable, hot, and humid.

    5. matcha123*

      I love Korea! I’ve been at least six times. I’m writing on a tablet, so please forgive errors.

      If you want to save a little money, I would recommend staying at a guesthouse rather than a hotel. When I went last year, I stayed at a place that was really just apartment rooms rented out; it had WiFi, two beds, a fridge, AC, toilet, shower, kitchen and TV. It was like… $30per person per night. In Seoul, I should add.

      If you are in Seoul there are lots of museums and fun shopping places to go to. Dongdaemun shopping area has completely changed in the past ten years, most of the booths have moved into large buildings, Doota and Milflore come to mind. And the station itself is this cool illuminated bead thing.
      If you are into younger crowd, the Hongdae, Shinchon, Edae areas all have universities and the areas are hopping all night, Hongdae in particular.

      Insadong is a street with traditional Korean items. It’s a tourist trap, but it does have a lot of cute things. There is this one traditional candy sold there, I forgot the name but there are a bunch of performance booths. Basically a hard bit of honey is pulled and stretched to resemble fine string or hair, then some crushed almonds are placed inside and it’s twisted closed. It’s really nice.

      At Kwanghwamun, there’s two museums, one of which is underground and introduces King Sejong, who is credited with creating the Korean alphabet of hangul. There’s also a large Palace in the area, too.
      There are a number of historical sites throughout the country, Bulguksan comes to mind, though I haven’t been there, yet. If you have nice clothing and a day to kill you could take a DMZ tour.

      The street food is pretty safe and tasty, if a bit overpriced. Deokkbokki, rice cakes covered in spicy sauce, are sold everywhere and so good! Juk, rice porridge, is also quite popular. Of course dishes like bibimbap, and kimbap can be found all over. There are also American restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King, TACO bell, TGIFridays, etc.
      Convenience stores are everywhere and the alcohol is cheap. I can’t talk about Korea and not mention soju and makkeolli, which are sooo Good!

      If you want to test yourself, try going to jimjilbang which is like a spa, but you have to change into clothing that is provided. Different rooms of varying temps, a cold room, small cafeteria and a woman who will scrub all of the dead skin off of your body are all features of jimjilbang.

      Transportation is good, but confusing for someone like me who’s not used to the subway. When you arrive at Incheon, I’d suggest taking the subway downtown and purchasing a subway card before you ride. They can be recharged at all stations.

      Oh, and Korean cafes are delicious! Paris Baguette has a delicious variety of baked breads :9

    6. Rickets*

      My sister-in-law was teaching English there last year, so my husband and I went over and visited. We stayed mostly in Seoul but also went to the DMZ. The DMZ was great, it was well worth the time and effort to get up there. In Seoul we went to various museums and palaces, shopping, walking around, touristy stuff. I don’t know if they still have it, but at that time you could get a pass which gave you unlimited admission to the whole state museum/palace system for a certain period of time. We also went up the North Seoul Tower, which is a huge tower that overlooks the city. We stayed in a hostel, but we paid a little more for a room with a private bathroom. It was still maybe only $35 a night since it was in an older part of the city.

  9. Ali*

    Has anyone ever been tempted to sell most or all of what they own and move? Or actually gone through with it?

    I’m single, no kids, nothing to tie me down, and I’d love to move out of my hometown that has little opportunity and to a bigger city with more to do in my free time and (preferably) access to a better public transportation system. Transit in my city of roughly 40,000 shuts down at 6-7 p.m. Even having buses available until 9 or 10:00 would be awesome. Furthermore, there are really not many good jobs around here, but since this is the non-work thread, I won’t get into that too much.

    I am not dead set on a particular city, though I admit NYC would be the dream. And I definitely need my seasons. I’m not really eager to flock to the south where it never snows and there’s never really any cooler weather where you can wear sweaters and boots, drink hot chocolate and think about going ice skating without everyone thinking you’re weird.

    I also feel I just need the change. I’ll be 30 in a few months, and I’m starting to get afraid that if I can’t jump to a better city soon, I’ll be stuck in my backwards small city with little opportunity forever. I also have a curiosity of trying to live somewhere else, even if it’s just in another part of my state. There are some decent areas anywhere from 2-6 hours away, so it’s not like I have to go across the country to be happy.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’m with you on your last paragraph. I’m 30 in Nov and have either lived in my home town or the city that is 20 minutes away by transport (i.e. not very far away at all!) To do this I have to do some amazingly grown up things such as sell my flat and buy another one – I do not feel grown up enough to do this at all. I was lucky enough that my parents bought me this one as an investment so the next phase is ‘all me’.

      But my city is kinda rubbish, insular and horrible. Remarkably gray, too. I’m hoping for some different opportunities and a different life, in some way in moving to a larger city and closer to better transport links.

    2. C Average*

      Yep, I’ve done it. It was amazing. Everyone who has the opportunity should do it at least once.

      After college, I moved to the biggest city in my home state for a one-year contract job. It was incredibly liberating to move into a space of my own with no detritus from my past: I literally settled in with a bike, a coffeemaker, and a few clothes, and gradually created a minimalist household for myself in that space. I learned a lot about my tastes and my rhythms and my interests. It was a wonderful time.

      Later, I moved to the east coast to experience another part of the country. That taught me that I am a west coast girl through and through! I headed west after less than a year and have never looked back.

      I moved to Portland over a decade ago with a few dollars, a couch to land on, and a part-time job at Starbucks to keep me afloat until I could get a real job. Getting the real job wound up taking years, but I had some wonderful adventures during the wait. I love this city–its quirks, its landmarks, its personality–and found settling in here a great adventure.

      Go for it!

      1. matcha123*

        What types of differences did you find between east and west coast that made you prefer the west coast?

        I could see myself living in Chicago or NYC, but not LA or Seattle, so I’d like to see what appealed to you :)

        1. C Average*

          Ahh, I have to be careful here! I do love the east coast–to visit. I have family in Boston and friends in NYC, and I think their cities are wonderful places with lots to see and do. (I have spent enough time in Boston that I do think I could actually live there, but a lot of that has to do with my wonderful in-laws, who are born and bred Bostonians.)

          I really didn’t like living in the east. I was in Vermont, which I particularly hated.

          It was a different kind of cold than I was used to; on the west coast, it’s cold, but you bundle up and you can stay warm. In Vermont, when it gets cold, you can wear fifty layers and you’re still cold all the freaking time.

          And people were so weirdly proud of their part of the world. It was obnoxious. Everywhere I’ve lived, the leaves have changed color. It’s not unusual! And yet, you would’ve thought Vermont had invented and perfected deciduous flora. And mountains. And Robert Frost. And maple syrup. Within about three days, I was like, “Shut up, Vermont. Other states have plenty of awesome, too. You need to get out more.”

          And everyone took my west-coast friendliness wrong. I was working a just-getting-by retail job and was doing my best to be retail-job friendly, but people were visibly put off by it. (Once I worked into the conversation that I was from Idaho, I could see them relax, as if they were thinking, “Ohhhhh, she’s one of those uber-friendly west coast people! She doesn’t want anything from me, she’s not hitting on me, it’s not a scam, she’s just friendly like everyone from way out west.”) I couldn’t figure out how to relate to a lot of the people I met authentically.

          I think a lot of it was me and where I was at in life, too. I was desperately in love with someone who had only a passing interest in me. I was far, far too thin, which definitely played into the “can’t stay warm” aspect of my existence. I was barely getting by. I didn’t know quite what I wanted to do with myself or my life. I just knew whatever it was, I didn’t want to do it in Vermont!

          1. C Average*

            I just realized I didn’t address what I love about the west coast.

            The biggest thing, for me, is it’s home. I was born in Utah, but scarcely remember it. I’ve spent the better part of my life in Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.

            I love the wide-open spaces and the diversity of landscape. I love the authentic warmth of most of the people I’ve come to know well. I like the relaxed pace of life and the accepting attitude toward people who aren’t go-getters, but just want to do something useful that earns them enough to live comfortably and play outside on the weekends. I love the weather that turns on a dime.

            It’s hard to define. I guess I keep coming back to “it’s home.”

            1. matcha123*

              You know, when people say “west coast” I am prepared to hear about California. It’s honestly refreshing to hear about other west coast states.

              Your experience in Vermont sounds like mine in Japan…
              “Japan has FOUR seasons!”
              “Japan has cherry blossoms AND fall leaves!!1”
              “Japan has Mt. Fuji, and it’s REALLY big!”
              “Even Americans think that Japanese hamburgers taste better than American ones!”
              “Don’t you think that Japan is better and safer and cleaner than wherever you’re from?!”

              I totally understand your frustration hearing stuff like that!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I moved 10,000 miles from home the first chance I got and loved it, with out doubt it was one of the best and scariest things I’ve ever done.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I did that in my twenties–packed a suitcase and moved to California for four years. Worst mistake I ever made was to come back. But I lost my job and wanted to go back to school and I thought it would be easier if I came home. I’ve been stuck here ever since. >_<

      I'd do it again, but I can't couch-surf like I did in those days. It's too rough on me now and I'm too used to having a "grown-up" place to live.

    5. Tiffany Youngblood*

      That’s basically what I’m doing after I graduate. I’m getting rid of anything that won’t fit in a cargo van, selling my truck, and moving 1000 miles away to Chicago, where I’ve only been once and know absolutely no one. It’s super exciting and also extremely terrifying at the same time. I love the town I’m in now, but it’s not very friendly to new grads (which is crazy, considering the 2 major universities within city limits). I’m outside of Dallas, but I actually think Dallas is pretty boring and there’s nothing keeping me here. I figure now is the time, otherwise I’ll get stuck here for years.

      1. Stephanie*

        Denton?

        I grew up in the Dallas area and remembering itching to get out when I was a senior in high school (I made it all the way to Houston for college, heh). I think I can appreciate it now as I get older (from an it’s-affordable-and-the-economy-isn’t-completely-awful standpoint), but unsure if I’d ever want to move back there (parents have moved elsewhere).

        Last time I was there, I forgot how ugly it was and the bad traffic. But it’s developed a ton since I lived there in the 90s and 00s.

        1. Tiffany Youngblood*

          Yeps!

          I love Denton, it’s a great community. The culture is more like Austin than Dallas. We lived in the area as kids, but moved back to SW MO in ’01, which was horrible. I finally moved back here about 4 years ago, but I’m definitely itching to get out. My love of Denton isn’t enough to keep me here.

      2. nep*

        Seems most of the worthwhile undertakings in life struck us as ‘super exciting and also extremely terrifying at the same time’.

      3. Random Reader*

        What neighborhood are you thinking of moving to? Let me know if you need suggestions on where to live :-)

        1. Tiffany Youngblood*

          I have no idea. There’s so many of them. I was there for a week over the summer and stayed at a hostel in Greektown, which was cool but I don’t know if I’d want to live there. I’ve got a list of all the neighborhoods in Excel and I’m just researching them one at a time, trying to figure out where I can afford to live without sacrificing too much safety. I’ll be up there for a few days in May searching for apartments and such. I’d definitely appreciate suggestions!

    6. Christy*

      My girlfriend and I are trying to do this! She’s looking for a job in Kansas City (we’re near DC and she’s from California) and we’re going to move out there! I can work from anywhere so why not?! It will be so exciting to move out of the mid Atlantic. I grew up here, went to school here, and live here. It’ll be an exciting change.

    7. INTP*

      FWIW, I think people wear sweaters and boots and drink hot chocolate on occasion almost everywhere in the country. It’s just that in, say, San Diego, it happens at 65*F instead of 35*F. Totally understandable if you prefer your seasons more distinct than that though :)

      I’ve done this a few times – once just a few hours north to Santa Cruz, once across the world to an island, and to WI for grad school. After I graduate I’ll live at home for some time but then I will pick up and do it again to find somewhere cheaper, maybe Portland or Seattle. It’s not difficult, really. Just some advice:
      1) Fly in and look at apartments about a month before you move, if you stay at a hotel until you find a place you’ll wind up settling for somewhere crappy. The hotel costs adding up will stress you out and the “available immediately” apartments aren’t usually the best ones.
      2) Assume that the moving and setting up home processes will cost a lot more money than you estimate. Unexpected stuff always comes up.
      3) Stay connected with your existing support network. I’m very independent and don’t generally have a problem being in a city where I don’t know anyone but it takes awhile for new friendships to form and deepen, and at some point when you’re a little down it will hit you that you have no loved ones anywhere within driving distance. Make phone calls to your family and friends regularly so you can feel a little more grounded, even if it feels like you don’t need it at the time.

    8. Stephanie*

      Yup, you should go for it. I moved somewhere after college where I knew one person. It was really awkward the first six months, but I made a lot of good friends and am glad I tried somewhere completely different.

      Also…depending on what you mean by the south, it might be colder than you think. Even Dallas got ice storms.

    9. NBF*

      I moved to a new country (nothing crazy, just Canada to USA), but I’m getting ready to move back soon. I’ve been here almost a decade, and its been great, but it isn’t home and I’ve found myself missing home more lately. Not that I want to move back to my hometown though, but within a few hours would be nice.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      I made a sizable (for me) jump when I was in my 20s. Do it now, I am not sure if I could do it again. Maybe I would if I were moving toward something that was a certainty.

      Two things- always have a plan b. Set money aside so that you can go home if you absolutely have to. Nothing like getting some where and realizing you cannot leave. The other thing is always live below your means. That will save your butt more times than we want to count. The better you are at living below your means, the more benefit you will reap.

    11. Lulubell*

      I did. I didn’t own much, but I picked up and moved from NYC to LA when I was 28. Quit my job, sold all my furniture, started a brand new life across the country. Best thing I ever did. Of course, times were different then – it was 2005, the economy was strong, and I felt like I was at a sweet spot in my career where I wouldn’t have too much trouble finding another job. I was single, no real responsibilities, my furniture was crappy post-college stuff anyway – it was the absolute right time to do it. I am still single, no kids, so technically I could do this again if I had to, but being older I am much more fearful about the future, have more responsibilities (car, volunteer work) and am at a point in my career where my options are more limited. In any case, I love where I am now and wouldn’t move anyway. But of you can afford to do the move, I say go for it!

    12. Spooky*

      I’ve done it twice, most recently last summer: I moved across the country to NYC. I honestly needed to do it. I knew I’d just get “stuck” if I didn’t – stuck in my career, old friendships, old life in general. Everyone thought I was crazy – I quit a good job with benefits and retirement and moved across the country to one of the most famously tough cities in the world with nothing and no real connections. I had two suitcases and a backpack, and that was it. I spent an entire year prepping for it, and because of that year, the actual transition was remarkably easy – not only did I land a job in just 3 weeks, but it was a huge raise from what I had been making. I’ve made some awesome new friends here, I get to go to art competitions and poetry readings and museums every week, and even though this city kicks you in the teeth on a regular basis, I still think it was the best thing I could have done. There’s a John Green quote (I know, I know) from _Paper Towns_: “It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.” And there’s one other quote I like: “You only regret what you don’t do.” I’m strongly in the “do it” camp.

    13. Riki*

      I did this a few years ago. I lived in a great city but things just had not been coming together for me at all for a few years and felt I need to make a Big! Change! in my life. So, I sold my furniture, didn’t renew my apartment lease and moved 3000 miles away. Of course, because life is crazy, I ended up getting an amazing job offer in my old city about 10 months later and moved back, but all in all, it was a very positive, cleansing (literally–I moved away and back with two bags of clothes and a box of books) experience. If there’s nothing tying you down to where you’re living now, then moving to another city/state/country is worth considering. It may not work out exactly how you want, but it will definitely be an experience.

    14. Beth Anne*

      Every few months I think about doing this…but I have no idea where to even move….my life goal is to have like online businesses or online jobs so I can be location independent and just travel all over the place.

    15. Cath in Canada*

      Yep, moved from the UK to Vancouver at 24 with one suitcase and one backpack. I didn’t know a single person, but I did have a job lined up in advance, which helped. I came on a 3-year work permit, so there was an “out” if I didn’t like it and wanted to move home, but I already knew there was a good chance I’d be staying (I picked Vancouver because I’d visited on vacation a couple of years before and it was love at first sight). Then I met my Canadian husband after a year. I’ll have been here for 13 years as of tomorrow – it’s home now.

  10. Trixie*

    I’m one of the few hasn’t had the flu/cold/virus that is striking down folks left and right of me. I do wash my hands more especially after handling anything public like door handles, equipment, etc . To be honest, I keep the heat so low (if not off) I could be coming down with something or really, really cold. And its not even that cold here, just a horribly inefficient house. I wear so many layers, I pretty much feel/look like those little stacking folk art Russian dolls.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I haven’t either–I don’t know whether it’s luck, the fact that I got a flu shot really early (around the first part of September before I went on holiday), or both. But I emailed my doc about the MMR booster and he emailed back that yeah, I probably should get it, especially since I’m traveling internationally again soon. I don’t want to get measles or give it to someone else.

    2. HR Manager*

      Same here – I wash my hands so much, I go through a ton of lotion or my hands would chap and crack. I also get the flu shot. So far so good. *knocks wood*

    3. Hlyssande*

      If your house is drafty, those window plastic kits are fantastic. My bedroom in my last apartment literally had no heat. Once I put the plastic up last winter it was noticeably warmer and I didn’t have to worry about my hair freezing overnight.

  11. LF*

    Alison — just wanted to chime in and say that I switched my cat over to Sheba cat food, and she loves it! I would have never have considered the brand if I hadn’t read the ad about it on your blog.

      1. A. D. Kay*

        I did too! I had been buying pricey specialty cat food but both mine like Sheba now. One of them still jumps up on the counter (ew!) looking for kibble though.

      1. LF*

        I got an incredible deal on it at the store just now — 25c a can! Maybe Alison and her advertisers would like to run a giveaway sometime. :)

    1. Clever Name*

      I gave away our pressure cooker years ago. Used it like once. We use the slow cooker much more often. Beef stew is bubbling away in ours now, in fact!

    2. Noni*

      I have one of the electric “multi-cookers” – you can use it as a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer etc depending on what you’re cooking. I had previously used a stove-top pressure cooker, and this one is much easier and gives good results. It’s much quicker than slow cooking, so useful for when I don’t prepare far enough in advance.Mine cost me less than $100 from Aldi.

  12. Apollo Warbucks*

    I was thinking about going on vacation later this year and was thinking of either South Africa, Vietnam or maybe Thailand.

    I’d love to hear about people’s expirance if they been or any other if there’s somewhere else you’d recomend.

    1. BRR*

      My husband traveled all over SE Asia and said Cambodia is his favorite country he visited. I know that wasn’t on your list but since you were considering Vietnam or Thailand just thought I would throw that out there. I know he also liked Vietnam over Thailand.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Thanks, that’s not somewhere I’d have thought of, I’ll definently have a look at Cambodia,

      2. Hattie McDougal*

        Seconding this. Cambodia was my favourite country in SE Asia (if you’re considering Thailand or Vietnam, why not Thailand AND Vietnam? Travel between countries in that part of the world is pretty fast/cheap/easy).

        1. BRR*

          I second yours. Assuming you’re not from the area you should go to more than one place. It’s super cheap. I believe when my husband showed me a flight to prove how cheap it was around $50.

        2. Apollo Warbucks*

          That’s a great idea, I’ve only got two weeks so could maybe get to Cambodia and Vietnam. I wouldn’t want to try and pack to much in.

        3. Artemesia*

          And even on short hops on local airlines, they feed you on the plane. I was amazed that on one hour hops I could a cold tray with beautiful little snacks on it and for 2 or more hours, wonderful little hot meals.

    2. C Average*

      My husband and I honeymooned in South Africa and absolutely loved it.

      We spent a week in Cape Town with his grad school buddy and then a week on safari in Krueger Park.

      Cape Town is beautiful. I’m really glad we knew a local, though! There are parts of the city that feel dangerous but aren’t, and there are parts of the city that feel safe but aren’t. I felt like my spider sense, which is typically good, had no reliable South Africa setting, and it was reassuring to be with someone who had grown up there and knew the lay of the land.

      Krueger Park was . . . wow. I have no words. The landscapes, the animals, the people, the vast expanses and the silence . . . I can’t even describe them. It’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        I was thinking of Cape Town if I went to South Africa, but I ws a bit worried about safety and security. The safari sounds awesome, something I’d love to do.

        1. C Average*

          We stayed at a tented camp called Tanda Tula that I can’t say enough good things about–the atmosphere and the people and the overall vibe made it one of the most special weeks of my life. We left feeling like we’d made a friend for life with our guide, and we remain in touch with him. The place was like a mashup of summer camp and the best resort you’ve ever been to. I never wanted to leave.

          We stayed in the tented camp for our first night and then did a walking safari from a location out in the bush. (We slept in this elevated structure called “the hide.” No electricity, no running water, cots to sleep on, but an unbelievable view of the watering hole, where we saw giraffes, rhinos, water buffaloes, and warthogs.) During the day we’d drive out to a location where we’d be likely to see animals and we’d track them on foot, pausing to learn about the various plants and geographical features and other objects of interest. We got close enough to a rhino to hear her footsteps in the brush! And we saw hundreds of gazelles and antelope. The last night we returned to the main camp, and on the way back we stopped and saw lions, leopards, and elephants from the jeep.

          Krueger Park is nothing like any other national park you’ve visited. The roads are unpaved, there are no signs, there are no amenities (except in established camps), and you can’t explore without a guide who knows where he’s going and what he’s doing. Even while it’s obviously been affected by human incursion, they’ve done a lot to keep the broad expanses wild and open. It was nothing like any other place I’ve ever been.

        2. Lizzie*

          I’ve been to Cape Town a couple of times, and I never really felt any less safe there than I did in any other large cities in the region. (I can’t compare it to Johannesburg, however – never made it that side.) CT has lots of great restaurants, museums (the District Six Museum is really unique and the Slave Lodge Museum is amazing), and very easy access to places like Cape Point and the wine country. Stellenbosch makes a nice wine trip stop-over, and there’s a great brandy distillery in the area as well. (Can’t remember the name off-hand.)

    3. Natalie*

      Haven’t personally been to Thailand, but 2 good friends of mine go a lot and they absolutely love it. Particularly if you like food.

    4. Puddin*

      I have been to Thailand and Vietnam. I think Thailand offers more to do, but Vietnam is more rustic and offers more adventurous paths. Vietnam is less expensive (once you get there) as well. One thing I like better about Thailand is that there are a lot more ancient/old things left. The history and architecture are much more present. Vietnam was occupied by Japan, China, France, and the US – they all took a toll on the local historical buildings. Vietnam is just getting used to tourism, so there is an unspoiled quality to much of it. Although they are catching on quickly :)

      If you choose Thailand, I recommend going to Chang Mai or Chang Rai – not just Bangkok or Phu Ket. It will take time to get there, but it was relaxing with scenic river views. This is the area that Bangkok dwellers go on holiday. Their are some great river cruises on the Chao Praya that I would look into. Also I think it is the Mandarin Oriental that has a great traditional dance theater and dinner. It is meant for tourists, but it is not too cheesy.

      In Vietnam, I would absolutely spend time at the Museum of the War of American Aggression and then see the Cu Chi tunnels (if you are interested in the Vietnam war era from the Viet Cong perspective). It was a very thoughtful, if disturbing, experience. These are both in/near Saigon. Hue and Hoi An are great destinations outside of Saigon. I also took a river cruise on the MeKong and that was a little touristy, but I liked it a lot.

      I am from the US and both countries were very friendly and I felt safe – normal travel precautions of course. Inexpensive but clean accommodations are plentiful and transport within the cities is convenient and cheap.

      Have fun wherever your journey takes you!

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Thanks for your thoughts I’m thinking more of Vietnam and now Cambodia. I’d love to see some of the some of the Vietname war history, being from the UK it’s not history I’m familiar with.

        It’s good to hear you felt safe when you were there, I’d be travelling on my own so am a bit concerned about that.

        1. Sheep*

          I haven’t been, but my awesome ex-boss did, and she loved both Cambodia and Vietnam. Another gem that I would consider is Myanmar – before it gets too crowded with tourists. Everyone I know who have been there absolutely love it..

  13. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I have managed to train my dog using some kind of weird reverse psychology, or whatever you may call it. I don’t know how this happened. I was working on the “place” command with him because he would bug out for attention while I was working from home, and I would point to his bed and say, “Get on your bed.” We worked hard, with treats and all, but eventually, “Get on your bed” and POINTING TO THE BED resulted in him getting on his sofa blankets and settling next to me. It is so bizarre. It’s like I’ve tapped into his stubbornness and manipulated him into doing what I want, even if it’s the opposite of what I say.

    Basically, my furry buddy is a teenager.

    Anyone else a mean dog mama?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      My guy is stubborn to the max. He is six and has the manners of a pup. But he is getting better. I use a spritzer of water to get him to listen. Most of the time now, I just have to pick up the spritzer and I get the desired results. ha! He does go the opposite way with things. I tried to teach him not to jump on people. I might as well talk to a wall. So, I decided to teach him to do high tens. He does not jump on people much anymore and he will do a half-baked high ten if commanded.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yes, he would pull things down to his level. So I saved coffee cans and put them on top of anything important. He learned what that was and left stuff alone. I needed something to work when I was not here. He got into everything in ways I have never seen a dog do. I sort of booby trapped stuff using empty coffee cans. It did help.
          Because of this, I think a penny can would send him away from me, which is not what I want.

          My current thing is to cure him of his interest in car tires… as the car is moving.

    2. AnotherFed*

      We’re mean dog parents here – we used a shock collar to train two of our dogs. That was more for things like “Come” and “Stay out of the river!” than basics like sit. Unfortunately, we have a Houdini who can’t swim but loves water, and we live a few houses down from a small river. Teaching her to return on voice online when she slips a leash, jumps the fence, or goes out a window (yes, she really did not a window out of the frame and squeeze out) has been pretty important, but man did I not like the training.

    3. Revanche*

      YEP. Though, we’ve been incredibly lucky to have dogs who have teenager attitudes but are actually obedient. I would get the most ‘tude from Doggle but he was also so mellow that it was mainly communicated by his abandoning me to go sleep in the other room if I was doing something he disapproved of: watching the wrong tv shows, playing YT videos, talking / typing too loudly.
      Seamus is way more obedient, he actually does know “go to bed” but he’s also smart enough to check boundaries. He’ll indicate his interest in joining you on the whatever by, one paw at a time, offering to step onto things to see if he gets told off or if he’s invited to come up all the way. There are friends who invite him on their sofas and he’s happy to oblige but he knows better than to do that at home.

    4. skyrat*

      Dogs understand pointing poorly (those studies showing dogs are better at it than other species are pretty iffy).
      Humans try to communicate using what works with other humans, not what works with dogs.
      So we point, and we talk to them to help them understand – which doesn’t work, because they are dogs.
      It’s really hard to break those patterns, and that’s a part of my training class.
      (It’s the kind of thing that is a lot hard than it seems like it should be, because there is all this stuff blocking communication).

      I teach this as one of classes and was happy to see all my new students’ dogs getting this skill (go to place/mat) – but it’s a specialty class, and the students came in with a lot of skill.

  14. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I’m apparently totally incapable of figuring out how to set up a store on either Spreadshirt or Zazzle. I feel like I’m a generally competent person but apparently I am not intellectually capable of doing something that 14-year-olds do.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            It took me about 12 attempts to take a selfie at the right angle yesterday so I could send a photo of my outfit for a friend’s wedding to another friend. I suck at selfies.

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      You know this made me laugh.

      It also makes me wonder if I could do it. How funny would it be if I couldn’t?

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I can get the basic products loaded, but I cannot figure out how to tweak the overall settings of the store– how things appear there. It’s weird. I moved to Red Bubble, which seems to be working, but it’s still not ideal. Cafe Press at least makes things pretty easy.

  15. Carrie in Scotland*

    Hey, Alison, is that another lovely piece of artwork done by your husband?

    Also: how’s the cabin hinting going this week?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, he drew that! I love his drawings.

      Cabin hunting: Slow. We’ve seen everything on the market that interests us, so now we’re waiting until spring, when I’m hoping more will go on the market.

      1. Sabrina*

        If you want one in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, I know of one available, but that might be a bit of a drive for you!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          He is not. I think he should be though. At a minimum, I think he should sell prints of his drawings online. I would like to see a kid’s room decorated with them.

            1. Carrie in Scotland*

              I love the way the waterfall looks – all out of focus but you can see yourself looking at the water sparkle and bounce off the light.

              I’d totally buy his artwork if it was an option.

                1. nep*

                  How absolutely lovely. Certainly would be fantastic art for a child’s room. He’d be great as an illustrator for books also. Thanks for sharing these.

                2. Apollo Warbucks*

                  The pictures are really good, I just went to order a couple but the shipping to the UK is $40 a print! compared to less than $4 to the US.

                3. QualityControlFreak*

                  I want to read the story! This should be a book. Plus I think I recognize some of the characters. ;)

                4. Not So NewReader*

                  Your hubby is reeally good at expressing flames in a fire and bodies of water. I was really impressed with how he did that.

                  My grandpa excelled at trees. His trees always came out great. I can do good trees… and not much else!

                  He really needs to do something with this talent, Alison.

                  #6- are those faces on the flowers???

                5. The Cosmic Avenger*

                  Wow, those would make great cards! Some people sell cards with original art on Etsy…but I’ve also heard some bitter complaints about Etsy, too. But it might be worth looking into.

                6. Anon for today*

                  They are lovely. I don’t know how easy it is to sign up for but I’d put a vote in for Society6 as a selling platform, I’ve bought a few things from there. Shipping to the UK wasn’t extortionate either.

                7. Paisley*

                  My thought was the same as nep’s…..they would be awesome illustrations for children’s books. I really like his style.

  16. Gene*

    Anyone else watching King of the Nerds?

    I’m a Yaya Han fan and watching her shoot down Lily’s attempt to turn the moral competition into a cosplay competition amused me.

  17. SingleMingle*

    I’m a single female in my early 30s living in NYC. I am really wary of online dating through a dating website. All of my friends (mostly female) are single too so it’s hard to meet single men through them. I am a beast in my profession and have devoted the last 15 years to ensuring success in my career and that has worked. But now I’m ready to start a family and settle down (before 36!). Any ideas on how to meet a great partner?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Whatever hobbies you have, find a group that does them. Meetup is a big help for this. I know a ton of people have met doing ZogSports leagues. I met my boyfriend because we’re both involved in the arts, and it happened totally organically.

      But two things: first, while it sounds trite, it really is best to just meet people while going about your life and doing things you enjoy. I was single, with a few months of dating here and there, in NYC for over 9 years, and it was so true that guys could sense how badly I wanted to find “the one”. Some of the took advantage of that, but most of them ran really fast in the opposite direction. Many of my girlfriends would tell you the same story.

      And second, I wouldn’t dismiss online dating out of hand. It can be risky and weird and forced, but no more than meeting some random dude in line at the Duane Reade. If you’re strategic about it, you can go on some nice dates, and I firmly believe that nice dates that go nowhere are still worth the time.

      I’ll add something else: NYC has a bunch of good matchmakers. You can go that route too– men who sign up with matchmakers want to meet partners, not just dates.

      1. Felicia*

        Agree with all of that. I think it’s always great to meet a wide variety of people who also enjoy a thing you enjoy. Makes it more likely one of those people will be a good potential date.

        I also happen to know a couple of people who have had great success with match makers, but i think finding the right one is important if you go that way

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I believe it’s only an NYC thing, but some young professionals started up intramural sports leagues, like kickball and volleyball. They play all over the city. I hear it’s a lot of fun, though I’m not a sports type so I have no personal experience. :)

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I have some personal connections to a service called Agape Match. Can’t recommend from personal experience, unfortunately, but that one always looked quality to me.

    2. Natalie*

      Gotta plus one everything AvonLady Barksdale said. Do whatever makes you satisfied outside of dating – like, imagine a world where dating and romance weren’t a thing at all. What would you be devoting your time and energy to?

      And I also wouldn’t dismiss online dating. I’m curious what your specific reservations are, if you’re comfortable sharing.

      1. BRR*

        I’d also be curious about the OP’s online dating reservations if they are comfortable sharing. I’m a big proponent of online dating if you’re looking for a mate.

        1. esra*

          I posted last week about online dating and a lot of single women had the same issues I’ve had. Total dearth of eligible guys, tons of creeps, and mainly it’s just super depressing. More depressing than being single.

          I know people who met guys online 3-5 years ago, but no one in the past couple years.

          1. BRR*

            I’m a gay man and that was my experience when I did it. But I was meeting more potential dates than if I wasn’t doing online dating.

      2. SingleMingle*

        My biggest reservation about online dating is that I have a high profile career and think it may be inappropriate ….

        1. Natalie*

          Caveat that this isn’t a situation I’ve personally experienced, but it’s not clear to me what would be inappropriate, career-wise, about dating online. You generally aren’t using your full name (or even your first name) or sharing a lot of salacious details about yourself. Maybe I’m missing something?

        2. BRR*

          Hmm I’m not sure about the interaction of online dating and your career because it could be inappropriate (although I really don’t know how it would differ than dating in person) but I personally think online dating is a great way of meeting people. Sure there are jerks but you can’t escape them anywhere. I met my husband through online dating.

        3. Dynamic Beige*

          Inappropriate because your superiors (or reports) might find your profile? If they find your profile, odds are they are there looking for the same thing you are. Or inappropriate because you hold a job where you are in the public eye and that attracts… more “ardent” admirers than anyone sane would be comfortable with and you will be recognised?

          You shouldn’t view online dating as anything other than a way to meet people you ordinarily wouldn’t get the opportunity to in your average life. As Avon says, find ways to meet people outside if you are able, but if you have a career that requires long hours, that can be hard to have hobbies and, if so, do you really have time to date? Are you ready or able to dial back those long days and make time?

          There are ways to keep it safe. You don’t have to put up a photo, you can choose a site with paid membership where other members might be more “serious” about it than the free ones (although that’s no guarantee they’ll be gentlemen). Some sites have private albums because eventually, some guy will want to see what you look like before he’ll meet you (it’s sadly inevitable, especially if he’s got his photo available). Set short dates for coffee or a drink after work that are easy to end quickly if you’re not into it… or that can be extended into dinner/a walk/a museum if you are — but don’t get in his car. Places where there are a lot of people. Your friends are single, so you have plenty of people you can tell where you’re going, you can arrange to call you on the date if you want a way to bail. Get there on your own dime, keep enough money/your card ready to pay for your own food/drinks/way home — not because you’re a feminist or anything but I know some people whose dates accidentally forgot their wallets (on purpose, perhaps). Make sure your cellphone is fully charged before you go. And if he’s told you one thing (like his height, weight or age) and he shows up completely different from what he’s said or the photos he’s posted, that will just be the first red flag so get out. Don’t exchange a lot of messages/e-mails before you meet, meet up as soon as you can manage — there are some people who think that if you take the time to get to know who they are on the inside, who they are online, what they look like won’t matter. The truth is that it does. You simply can’t judge if you’ll like someone until you meet them in person and there’s a great capacity for people to embroider the person they want to find, rather than the person that is on the other end of the e-mail. Too much build up before you meet means potential for a greater fall if it’s just not “right”.

          That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I know of almost a dozen couples who met online, not just on dating sites, one of them has been together 15(?) years now (what can I say, I’m bad with keeping track of other people’s events)

          Otherwise, there are singles vacation/activity clubs, speed dating (ugh), matchmakers — a lot of different things you can try to find someone, you just have to make the time to try them out.

          1. Natalie*

            Cosign all of this, but I do want to say that I don’t think it’s a bad thing that someone wants to see what you look like. Physical attraction is huge – it’s basically the difference between dating and friendship – and I don’t think we do ourselves any favors to pretend it doesn’t matter.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I agree. But, if SingleMingle is concerned that she might be discovered online, not having a photo up will help that. She can choose to share her photo after weeding out the bad responses. When I tried online dating *cough* years ago, I didn’t post a photo and I still got lots of responses, too many. If I was smokin’ hawt and had had a photo up, I don’t even want to think about how many more there would have been. You will still get the stupid-badly-written-only-about-sex e-mails (because aren’t all women on dating sites only out for teh seks?), but fewer perhaps. There are also websites out there where you can get advice about how to write a profile, if your photos are appropriate, feedback on what you’ve written.

              It’s not for everyone and requires a thick skin but sometimes you have to try something and find out if it’s for you.

            2. Observer*

              Of course it matters. But, there is SUCH a huge difference between a picture and in “meat-space” that photos just don’t really make good predictors. There is a reason why film studios used to do a film test before hiring women.

      3. Artemesia*

        My son is marrying the woman he met through on -line dating. They have been together a couple of years now, are both professionals and she is wonderful. We actually never thought he was going to marry and are thrilled (in the past when his girlfriends would start giving marriage ultimatums that was the end of the relationship.)

    3. INTP*

      If you speak any foreign languages, meetup.com language groups can be a good place. The ages of the groups can skew a lot older than you sometimes, but there will be younger people too, and the crowd is generally cultured, traveled, and gainfully employed. Plus, because of the nature of the group, people tend to share personal details in conversation and it isn’t weird. They’re practicing things they’ve learned to say in language class, so there’s asking and answering of questions about jobs, hobbies, families/marital status, etc and it’s not awkward.

  18. Carrie in Scotland*

    You guys, I’m just totally in a funk. I’m a functional depressive – you know, I go to work and I laugh and joke and go food shopping – but then I come home and…there’s just nothing left. I’m considering getting a SAD light, just to see if it makes a difference.

    Sometimes, there are too many sad stories, you know? And I have enough of my own.

    Anyway, two small positives: this week I got my assignment mark back and it was 59 (out of 100) so after 3 assignments my average is 53. Secondly, I recieved long awaited post from a long term penpal (13 years, I think).

    1. Gem*

      Oh gosh, I’m sorry to hear you’re suffering, and I understand not having the emotional resilience for all the sad and bad in the world. Its hard not to try and carry it all, sometimes though.

      I’ve never had a SAD light, but have heard that it made a difference for a lot of people. I practice Mindfulness which helps me a lot.

      I just wanted to say you’re not alone. I hope things get better soon. Also, well done on your assignments!

    2. Elizabeth West*

      *hug* I wish so much we were closer and I would come take you out and we could laugh our butts off and flirt with hot guys and have fun!

      The light may help. I’ve heard that they can. And try not to take on about sad stuff. Read a silly paper like the Metro–it makes me laugh so much lately, and I skip the animal stories and anything that I think will make me angry. And Buzzfeed. It cheers me up a lot when I’m feeling down, which is pretty much all the time lately myself.

      Yay for good marks and penpals!

    3. AuntieJ*

      Wow, that is great to have had a penpal for that long! Just this morning I was looking into how I could go about getting myself a penpal. Maybe because I just finished 84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff, where correspondence spanned 20 years.

      Sorry I have no advice to offer for the depression, but have heard some positive things on the SAD light. I stay away from sad stories as much as possible by not reading or watching the news (I subscribe to Skimm so I am not totally lost on current events but don’t have to get into the sad details).

    4. BRR*

      Is it a weather thing though? If it’s a winter sunlight thing you could also try taking some vitamin D. Although when I tried taking it, it made me super emotional. WTH.

      If it’s not weather related you might want to consider another sort of treatment such as therapy or see a medical professional for a light anti depressant.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I did before, it was a few years ago now. I really liked her but she moved several hundred miles away.
        I have gotten the feeling I should go and find another one recently…I just have no energy to go and do it. And then there’s the money factor. I might only be able to go once a month or fortnightly at best.

        1. Natalie*

          Maybe your old therapist could recommend someone who’s still
          local. I found my couples counselor through my regular therapist. (We still split up but the therapy actually helped with that a lot.)

    5. Elkay*

      SAD light might make a difference, am I right in thinking you’re in the north of Scotland so your daylight hours are shorter? I’m starting to think that fresh air makes a difference too. Could you set something up that you’re looking forward to, exhibition, day out, lunch/afternoon tea with a friend? I wish I had a solution for you but all I can say is you’re not the only one going through this, I think that recognising it is good and if times get really tough channel The Bloggess and say “Depression Lies”.

    6. OCDandDepressionGirl*

      I have found Prozac to be helpful for depression. I know not everyone likes the idea of taking antidepressants, but if you think about it, if your depression is caused by something physical, like the brain not making enough serotonin, then why is a medicine that helps with that any different from a person who needs medicine for an issue that is more obviously physical.

      Other suggestions – be gentle with yourself. Schedule in some take-it-easy time if you can. Don’t expect too much of yourself when you’re in a sad place. If I’m feeling depressed, I make sure to get essentials done, like work, food, and bills and having enough clean laundry and clean dishes, but most other things are kinda optional.

      I did find that if I exercise for at least 7 minutes, I do get a rush of endorphins. Not that I exercise enough, bu that does help.

      Depression gets stigmatized somewhat, but don’t be mad at yourself for having it. It’s not your fault.

    7. Dynamic Beige*

      Try getting some Vitamin D supplements. I did that this winter and it’s really helped. Usually around this time of year, I am not feeling good at all but this year, much better. Take them after dinner, not first thing in the morning because you process D at night and I find they make me a little sleepy (which is normal). If you need some convincing and can get tested for Vitamin D deficiency where you are, it’s worth a try but to the best of my knowledge, there’s nothing harmful about it if you just want to try it and see. As you can see from this link, there is a lot of variation in dosage. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/vitamin-d/dosing/hrb-20060400 I have an auto-immune condition, so I am trying an 8,000 iu because I’m probably severely depleted since I have to limit my sun exposure.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I take 6000 IU’s of Vitamin D3 every day, even though I live in Texas (which, I assume, is sunnier year-round than Scotland). It has made all the difference in the cyclical depression I suffered from for decades. As in, I have zero depression now. When I was having some unrelated health issues, I went to an endocrinologist whose head just about exploded when I told him how much D3 I was taking. He practically screamed at me, “Quit taking that much immediately!” Then my labs came back and my Vit D levels were perfectly normal. He had to take back his statement and admit that what I was doing was working for me.

        Oh, and I take my D3 in the morning with the rest of my vitamins and haven’t noticed any sleepiness. I assumed that taking it during the day would mimic how the body naturally creates its own Vitamin D (via sunlight, which only happens during the day ;-) ).

    8. Trixie*

      I think my sister experiences something similar, esp during the winter months when daylight hours are so short in the midwest. I think she tried lighting and found it helpful. Plus she was studying for a big professional exam so she painted her study area a super bright yellow to make it warm and cheery, even on the cloudy/overcast days. I’d also look at meditation/yoga, or some tunes to help motivate or calm me down as needed.

    9. CaliSusan*

      I have to tell you — this is my second winter using a SAD light and I absolutely adore it. One of the best investments I’ve ever made in terms of self-care. (If you are interested, I got the NatureBright SunTouch Plus off Amazon; it’s typically available at a sale price of $70 or thereabouts.)

      1. Windchime*

        When do you use it? There are several people who use them at their desks at work during the morning. I’ve thought of getting one, but they seem so bright that it seems like it would be distracting.

    10. V. Meadowsweet*

      yay! for the positives!

      a friend of a friend has a SAD light and swears by it.
      also nthing the recc. of a D supplement – it’s been really helping me too. B complex also seems to really help keep the lower times less low, or at least easier to pull out of.

    11. Another IT Manager*

      Nthing the suggestions for antidepressants and vitamin D. You don’t mention if you’re taking anything, but I find my welbutrin is really good at readjusting my emotional baseline so that my default is “Yeah, this is okay,” rather than “The universe sucks and you suck and everything is stupid.” (I … am a very angry person when I’m unmedicated. When I’m medicated, I’m so much more pleasant to be. And to be around, judging from the evidence.)

      Vitamin D just means that I have enough oomph to get off the couch and get stuff done.

      I don’t have actual SAD lamps, but I have a ton of supplementary lighting in my apartment, and I sometimes catch myself staying up late(r than intended) when I have the brights on in the room. Timers are helpful in these cases.

  19. Gene*

    For any fen who plan on attending Worldcon this year and don’t have a membership yet, prices go up tomorrow. See you in Spokane!

    1. Nurse-To-Be*

      Without a doubt, Po Bronson’s “What Should I Do With My Life?”. Not your typical career book, rather it’s a collection of true profiles and stories from a wide variety of people. who are struggling with that very question. By far one of the best books I’ve ever read. Even though I’ve figured my own (second) path out in the world, it’s still one I keep and look at from time to time. Highly recommend it.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      It’s not all “career” per se, but I really liked Success Without College. Even if you’re planning to go to college/already have attended college, it’s nice to see the giant sea of options out there, many of which I’d not really thought about when I read it.

  20. Natalie*

    I have two. This first one is patting myself on the back.

    I mounted a bike holder all by myself, with a drill and everything! Due to some generally not great parenting I never really learned to use tools, or even try my hand at new things generally. In my last LTR I basically let my ex do all that stuff. So my resolution when we split was to try more, especially when I don’t know what I’m doing and am not feeling super confident.

    One of those drywall anchors is neeeeeever coming out in one piece, but that just makes it more secure, right?

  21. Natalie*

    Ok, # 2 actually asking for advice.

    So, my guy’s parents are sort of awful. Passive aggressive, controlling, and they basically don’t trust him or treat him like an adult (he’s 30). Quick recent example, they’ve offered to pay for college, but only if he moves back home, which is a city 5 hours from here. He’s lived here for 3 years, has a job and a life and a girlfriend (hi!). And they won’t let it go even though he’s declined numerous times.

    I think he has a fairly reasonable handle on it, and mostly I keep my opinion to myself because they’re his parents. But, I dunno, I think we really have something here and it does concern me sometimes because I’ve never been with someone in this situation. So, for people who have been doing this longer, what were the red and/or green flags? (Green flags meaning good things.)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Look to him. I have a narcissistic, overbearing family, and there have been years of therapy and a lot of willpower to get me to where I am now. I have managed to maintain and build certain boundaries, and I protect my boyfriend from as much of it as I can. What I really mean to say is not to worry about the parents, but worry about how your bf handles them. If he continues to decline their “generous offer”, and he pushes back, and he makes sure they don’t treat you poorly, you’ll both be fine. Note: the fact that they ignore your place in his life when they make this offer likely has absolutely nothing to do with you. The offer is all about them and what they want, not what’s good for him. For example: my mother wanted to introduce me to some friend’s son because “he’s so nice and has such a good job and he bought his own apartment!”, and when I reminded her that I was living with my boyfriend, she said, “So?” And SHE LIKES MY BF. He’s just not rich enough or flashy enough for her.

      From your side of this coin, my boyfriend also has an effed up family. Things came to a head over Christmas, and I paid careful attention to how my bf navigated everything. I gave him my opinion but left it all up to him, and I am absolutely proud of the way he handled it.

      Mostly what I’m saying is this: don’t hold his crazy parents against him, but do pay attention. Keep it as information you keep in his “file” that lives in your brain. You will learn how to navigate the crazy, especially if he is supportive of your limits.

      1. Natalie*

        “Note: the fact that they ignore your place in his life when they make this offer likely has absolutely nothing to do with you. The offer is all about them and what they want, not what’s good for him.”

        Oh, indeed.

        Thanks, very helpful!

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      If he has a fairly reasonable handle on it I wouldn’t worry too much. The red flags are basically putting his parents’ demands ahead of your wants and needs. If he realizes that his parents are being ridiculous and accommodates them occasionally in order to keep a relationship with them, and makes sure that doing so isn’t causing issues for you or him, then that’s NOT a red flag. In fact, some people with particularly abusive, controlling parents will give them an ultimatum that they will not tolerate X, and if they bring it up, they hang up or delete the email immediately or leave their house/the restaurant/etc. This can actually be a healthy last resort, even though to people who have never had to deal with this type of behavior it can seem like it’s cruel or it goes too far.

      I suggest reading the subreddit raisedbynarcissists. (I’m not adding the URL so that this post isn’t held up, but if you Google those two words you’ll find it.) It has people dealing with extreme examples of this type of behavior, and a lot of support and tips for dealing with it. Even if they’re not that bad, it might help.

      1. Natalie*

        “even though to people who have never had to deal with this type of behavior it can seem like it’s cruel or it goes too far.”

        Funnily enough I do this kind of thing with my own mom all the time. I have a big blended family, though, so I have “reserve” parents (my dad and stepmom) that I guess make it easier for me to hold the line with bio-mom when needed.

        Also very helpful!

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        +1 on raisedbynarcissists they have another sub that is for partners of ACONs as well. If you read some things and find value in it, you might want to show it to your boyfriend. We’re all “programmed” within the family we grew up in, every family has its own set of rules and that can skew your baseline for what’s “normal” or acceptable behaviour. So far, he’s resisted their manipulations, which is a good sign.

    3. the gold digger*

      Red flags: threatening to boycott your wedding, telling him not to marry you, never asking you a single question about yourself, trash-talking their daughter in law in front of you the first time you meet them, alcoholism, general meanness.

      None of this has changed in my situation. They are not going to change. What has helped me – even though it has not changed them at all – is detaching from it. I had to realize (after the Bad Bacon Eater Incident of 2009) that they would never like me and there was nothing I could ever do to make them like me. I had to accept that and realize that I can’t care if they like me.

      My advice to you would be not to expect them to change and to be happy if they do. Can you live with them as they are now?

      1. Natalie*

        I definitely can, although that will probably mean me not seeing them much at all. Which is fine with me – I have 4 parents (2 great, 2 average) so I don’t “need” inlaws per se.

        It’s more like I get worried sometimes that he will flip and get sucked in to their nonsense. I don’t really have a concrete reason for that worry so it’s probably just my anxiety disorder talking. But if you don’t mind sharing, was your husband aware of his parents crazy when you met him?

        1. the gold digger*

          They weren’t this crazy and mean when I first met Primo. They had not liked his first wife, either, (and also told him not to marry her) but the vitriol was not as strong, probably because they were too busy with Primo’s mentally-ill, heroin-addict sister.

          They didn’t like me from the first time they met me (I don’t think they would like anyone Primo brought home, as the reasons they have given him for not liking me are the bacon incident, the fact that I did not offer oatmeal to his dad when he was already eating cornflakes, the fact that I use cloth napkins instead of paper napkins, etc, etc – totally stupid reasons that no rational person would cite), but their true nastiness did not emerge until right before we were married.

          He knew they were people he didn’t want to be around – when he left California, he wanted to move back home, but did not because his parents were still living there.

          Wow. As I write this, I realize that they have gotten worse with time. The problem is not that I care how they feel about me – I don’t, anymore – but the impact they have on my husband. He is the one who has to deal with all of it, including the threat twice in the past 18 months that if Primo does not “get [me] in line” that they will disinherit him.

          So I guess the question for you and your BF is can he deal with it if they get worse? It is really, really hard to have nasty, mean parents who do crap like threatening you (and who threaten suicide, etc). BF will have to deal with it no matter what – are you interested in being around while he does? (If Primo’s sister had still been alive when I met him, I think I would have run for the hills.)

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            All these things you’ve mentioned, right down to the disinheriting, are straight out of the Narc Playbook. You’re right, they wouldn’t like anyone Primo brought home because they cannot accept that he has affection for anyone but them, that you — or himself — are more important to him than they are (after all they’ve done for him, how can he be so ungrateful). There are a lot of useful things you can learn on raisedbynarcissists, including the art of deciding whether to go Low Contact or No Contact and how to achieve it. That you aren’t the only one who is “blessed” with such an untenable situation, so you aren’t the crazy ones in it (even though your outlaws will try their utmost to make you believe that).

            Also, can’t help but wonder what the Bad Bacon Eater Incident of 2009 was. Any story with a title like that must be epic!

            1. the gold digger*

              DB, I will check out that website right away! You can read about the bacon incident on my blog – just search on “bad bacon eater golddigger.” I would put the link here, but then this post would go into moderation.

              (Wait! I think you can just add “.html” to the end of this link:
              diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/2010/01/in-which-sly-tells-primo-that-i-am-bad

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                Wow. I had built that up into my mind as more than that but that is Classic Narc. Even the bit in the comments about her sending you catalogs for stuff you don’t want and would never buy. It’s frankly astonishing what some people have received as gifts from their Narcs.

                With Mother’s and Father’s day coming up (yes, I know it’s still over 3 months away!) you should read what you can to prepare. There’s a lot of tension on there around that time, with people asking what they can do because they know nothing they do will ever be enough… or right. You probably will find it gets to be too much after a while, there are a lot of people being driven slowly insane by situations they can’t get out of that they didn’t make and have no way to win or just make it stop.

                There’s also a section called managedbynarcissists, for those who might be interested

                1. the gold digger*

                  DB, it is the Death by A Thousand Cuts with them. Nothing ever big enough for me to call them on it – plus, it is all filtered through my husband, but enough that it is there and just crazy.

                  I went to that website and read the list of characteristics of a narcissist to my husband, without even giving him the context. It took only a few of them before he started asking, “Gee. Do we know anyone like that?”

                2. Dynamic Beige*

                  There’s no reply below your last comment, Gold digger, so I’m going to reply to myself and hope you see it.

                  As you said in your blog when you realised you could let go of the need or desire to get them to like you because they just wouldn’t… seeing the list, drawing the comparisons, it really helps *a lot*. Once you see that it’s something they’ve got, something they’ll never acknowledge or get help for, nothing you can do and not about you, it really helps you detach. I went through this last year when I found out about it and it finally made so much sense, really put my whole childhood into perspective. As much as people will say “you shouldn’t diagnose people if you’re not a clinical psychiatrist!” with Narcs, they will not get help nor seek therapy because they don’t perceive anything being wrong with them, it’s always everyone/thing else that’s causing the problem. If they do seek therapy, they will therapist shop until they find the one they can get on their side or snow, then bring in the “offender” and proceed to use the therapy session as a dumping ground for all they ways you done them wrong… just when you’re least expecting it.

                  With your boyfriend, they’re unhappy they don’t get to see their son (so they can get him back under their control), but they are unable to draw the conclusion that he doesn’t want to see *them*, so it’s everyone else’s fault: your’s because you’re keeping him out there and away from where he rightfully belongs — with them. After all, they raised him to be a dutiful little puppet with no ideas of his own… and he left anyway! It must be *you* filling his head with the notion that he’s a self-actuating adult! How *dare* you!? So long as your boyfriend can cut through the very strong cultural messages of duty to family, see what they’re doing, not take it personally (even though it hurts like hell) and refuse to allow them to abuse you or fall prey to their manipulations, he’ll be OK. Unfortunately, the only way to “win” the game is not to play, but you have to at least have an idea of what the game is so you can avoid getting drawn into it.

    4. Sage*

      I’m going to suggest you go to Captain Awkward’s blog and read her advice (her Army of Awkwardeers is pretty amazing, too). You’ll find good advice and useful scripts. Plus, you’ll realize you’re far from alone in dealing with this situation.

  22. salad fingers*

    What are you reading right now, what did you just finish or what are you about to start? I’m looking for recommendations and am not feeling very picky about genres.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I’m reading Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. I’m not that far into it yet, but it’s pretty interesting. Kinda scary reading about what goes on in restaurants.

        1. salad fingers*

          I have a lot of restaurant friends who have recommended this to me as well. Intrigued and afraid to read. Thanks :-)

    2. Cruciatus*

      What do you like to read or are in the mood to read?

      I’m hoping 2015 is the year I find that one series I can’t put down (like when I started Harry Potter). I’ve read good stuff since then, but nothing that I got as excited about as that.

      1. salad fingers*

        If I’m really honest, I think I might be in either an iconic post apocolyptic sci-fi or modern/literary detective novel mood. Nothing too dense, though. I’m just finishing reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick for the first time (incredibly late to that party, I know) and was toying with the idea of reading everything else I can get my hands on of his. Before that was Inherent Vice by Pynchon and wanting to read all of the Pynchon, but as mentioned, I’m not feeling anything super dense.

        Re: binge reading — yes, that’s the best! I feel like I’ve mentioned this one million times here and I don’t think it’s to everyone’s taste but I absolutely binged on the Bernie Gunther series by Philip Kerr. You have to be in a WWII/detective novel/history mood though.

        1. Lore*

          With that in mind, you might try Ben Winters’s Last Policeman trilogy, which begins, logically enough, with The Last Policeman. They’re preapocalyptic detective novels (an asteroid is coming that will almost certainly destroy the planet, and this is the world people are living in while they wait).

        2. Cruciatus*

          I have not read either of the two you mentioned, let alone heard of them so know you are at least not the last to know about them! I will check them out now….

          Let’s see, off the top of my head…for post apocalyptic there’s pretty much anything in young adult these days. I think this genre overtook vampires and supernatural stuff. There’s the 5th Wave, The Last Policeman (well, soon to be apocalpytic…an asteroid is heading for earth and there’s something like 6 months left), The Passage trilogy (a mutant strain of something was unleashed by the U.S. government which spreads as something similar to vampires, but it’s not like Twilight vampires. The final book will hopefully come out this year). It’s a small investment though in time.

          Detective-y stuff, there’s “Robert Galbraith’s” Cormoran Strike series (really J.K. Rowling). She’s not a detective, but 11 year-old Flavia De Luce is living in 1950s England and always seems to stumble upon mystery and intrigue in the series bearing the name of that character.

          Maybe something there will appeal?

          1. Lore*

            And there’s seven Flavia books out already so good binge candidate! I liked the Galbraiths a lot as well. (Full disclosure–I actually have worked on the entire Flavia series so perhaps not objective…)

            Not sure if the new Passage is going to happen this year–but might be worth waiting for it before you start because I think the second book suffers a bit from middle-book-itis. (I don’t work on those but the guy in the next cube does!)

        3. This is the way the world ends.*

          An enthusiastic 2nd for The Last Policeman.

          If you really like Pynchon, you could try taking on Gravity’s Rainbow. It’s surprisingly easy to read if you just sorta “let go” and let the words flow through your head. Also, nobody ever seems to talk about it but parts of it are really dirty.

          I adore Philip K. Dick but Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep isn’t one of his better works. I suspect that high school English teachers nationwide teach it because of Bladerunner but really Ubik or A Scanner Darkly are very good. And he wrote many short stories, some of which are classics. “Faith of our Fathers” is one.

          I’m currently watching Interstellar and I haven’t a clue what is going on.

          1. salad fingers*

            Yeah, I tried Gravity’s Rainbow when I was either 16 or 17 and just could not. I know what you mean about relaxing and reading, riding/working with instead of fighting the text, if that makes sense. I don’t think I was very good at that in high school. I have it still and have thought about trying it out again, maybe will soon. Probably going to be more Dick (lol) first though. I actually started with Confessions of a Crap Artist which, from what I’ve read, is truly unrepresentative of his work as a whole, so I feel like I’m going about his stuff in a really silly way. Oh well!

            Good luck with Interstellar! I haven’t seen it so I promise there’s at least one person here who understands it less than you.

            1. Not with a bang but a whimper.*

              Interstellar is (I think) the answer to “Can you make a space movie that’s more confusing than 2001: A Space Odyssey?”

              (2001 seems pretty tame these days, but back in 1968 people were freaked out).

              Re Gravity’s Rainbow – the low-down truth is that back in college I had the hots for a woman who was doing her Master’s thesis on Pynchon. Reading GR was the key to her umm heart.

              1. salad fingers*

                Heh, great books have been read for less noble reasons, I’m sure. This is more or less what got me started on Infinite Jest, though the infatuation was dead by the time I actually finished the thing.

              2. Laura Beth*

                I recently watched 2001. All I had heard about it was that it was THE definitive space movie, and had the murderous computer. So I was expecting a suspensful story of “how we are going to deal with Hal?” and was super excited.

                Yeah, let’s just say I spent the whole movie confused. I can totally understand why people freaked out about it, hahaha.

              3. Jen RO*

                This is off-topic even for the off-topic thread, but does anyone else feel it should be “not with a bang, but WITH a whimper”? I read a lot of apocalyptic stuff and this quote always shows up sooner or later… but it was 10 years before I realized it doesn’t have that extra ‘with’ and it still sounds wrong to me.

                1. The Effect of Causality Violation on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds*

                  Well … It’s from a poem, so the author might have been taking some “poetic license”. If it helps, the four lines are supposed to scan in parallel with earlier text based on a nursery rhyme

                  Here we go round the prickly pear
                  Prickly pear prickly pear
                  Here we go round the prickly pear
                  At five o’clock in the morning.

                  so “with a whimper” adds an extra syllable and would break the rhyme. For what it’s worth, every dramatic reading I’ve ever heard of this poem completely ignores the sing-songy playground feel of these stanzas and goes for “dramatic old white guy”. Maybe someday a band like Sleigh Bells will do a musical version. I could get into that.

                  (Also: Author fallacy aside, the lines aren’t even intended to be apocalyptic)

          2. Emily*

            I actually liked Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep (I’m interested in robot stories), but I do think that Ubik might have been my favorite of the Philip K. Dick books I’ve read.

      2. catsAreCool*

        Since you like Harry Potter, you might like books by Diana Wynne Jones. They’re sci fi ish, and things change in ways you wouldn’t expect.

    3. Lore*

      Just finished The Girl on the Train, which is fast and thriller-y and fun without being too deep. Also reading a collection of criticism by James Wolcott (from all kinds of magazines from the 70s to now). It’s enormous and better dipped in and out of than read straight through but the guy can really write.

    4. Natalie*

      I am theoretically finishing Good Omens (Terry Pratchet and Neil Gaiman). I loved it – really funny and engaging – but the portion after the climax I’m finding super boring. So I’m not sure I’m going to read the last 20 pages.

      1. salad fingers*

        I’ve been meaning to read more Gaiman after loving American Gods a couple of years ago, but I never remember when I’m browsing. Thanks :-)

        Also, you asked if anyone had seen Inherent Vice a couple of weeks ago, right? I saw it shortly after you posted and really liked it! I actually got super told off by my bf for listing all of the awesome parts of the book that didn’t make it in during the credits (it’s hard not to grieve a little) but Joaquin Pheonix was awesome as Doc. I agree that it felt a little like it was dragging at the end though.

        1. Natalie*

          That was me! And yes, ++ to Joaquin’s performance.

          Good Omens is similar to American Gods in that it takes an existing mythology (the biblical apocalypse) and builds a story around it. Plus Pratchet’s dry British wit. If you liked American Gods I think you’d like it.

        2. Turanga Leela*

          You’ve read Anansi Boys, right? Different kind of mood from American Gods, but same universe and lots of fun.

    5. Aussie Teacher*

      If you like fantasy, try Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear. I could not put them down. Brilliant!

      1. AdminAnon*

        YES. Also, his short stories, which can be found in various anthologies. Pat is the best! Not that I’m picking favorites, of course, but his books are just fantastic and he is such a kind person.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m reading John Lahr’s new biography of Tennessee Williams. I studied theater history in college and I have always admired Lahr’s writing style. It’s a great biography, heavy on the road-to-production stuff, which I really enjoy.

      I just finished The Andy Cohen Diaries. I do not care what you think of me!!!! It was an easy, fun read. :)

      I recently read Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree, about children with conditions that set them apart from their parents (deafness, dwarfism, schizophrenia, etc.) and how parents navigate these conditions. It’s fascinating.

      1. Lore*

        Ooh, I have the Lahr but haven’t started it yet. I will have too soon as it’s a library book so thanks for the good recomendation.

    7. Ruth (UK)*

      If you like fantasy, anything by Trudi Canavan is HIGHLY recommended by me. I’m currently reading Thief’s Magic (her latest book).

      Amazing author. When I’m on the train and the journey is delayed due to the signal for the platform, I end up thinking “yes! now I get to keep reading this next bit….”

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I just finished The Secret Life of Hoarders, by Matt Paxton (the Clutter Cleaners guy from the Hoarders TV show). It’s really insightful and interesting.

      Next I have to do research. I HAVE to. Arrggh.

    9. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’ve been plowing through YA books for my blog, but in actual adult reading I’ve been pretty light lately. I have The Miniaturist and The World Before Her out from the library, though, and I’ve been listening to Harry Potter on audiobook in the car. But I did find out that the book club I want to join is going to be reading All The Light We Cannot See for February, and I LOVED, loved, loved that book and I’m so excited to have another change to read it.

      1. the gold digger*

        After The Poisonwood Bible, read King Leopold’s Ghost. It is a non-fiction account of the attempt to end the horrible rubber harvesting practices in the Belgian Congo.

        1. Lizzie*

          + 1 billion for King Leopold’s Ghost. So, so very well written. (Related: Dream of the Celt by Mario Vargas Llosa, which is a novel about Roger Casement.)

            1. Lizzie*

              Stuff You Missed In History Class did an episode on him too, it was really interesting to learn more about his involvement in the Irish independence movement.

          1. the gold digger*

            Well, as long as you are in the V section at the library, pick up Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter and Festival of the Goat, also by Vargas Llosa. And then watch the movie Tune in Tomorrow.

            1. Lizzie*

              This is so shameful, but I have had a bunch of his books on my “to read” list since he won the Nobel Prize in 2010. Thus far, Dream of the Celt is the only one I’ve managed to actually pick up! That needs to change this year for sure.

      2. Turanga Leela*

        If you like Barbara Kingsolver, have you read The Lacuna? I loved The Poisonwood Bible, but I think The Lacuna is my favorite of hers.

    10. Felicia*

      Reading the Secret History of Wonder Woman. It’s so fascinating! I had no idea about the Margaret Sanger connection

    11. Apollo Warbucks*

      Creativity inc – by the guy you founded Pixar and the culture he wanted to promote an amazing book that I found really interested.

      Think like a freak – by the guys who do the freakonomics pod cast and books.

      The wolf of Wall Street

      1. Lore*

        Oh, Station Eleven loosely falls into the postpocalyptic category as well and is fantastic, I thought.

        1. Windchime*

          Yes, I loved Station Eleven. I also recently read “The Martian” and that was good, although it was full of lots of technical descriptions of how the main character dealt with his situation and I found that a bit tedious.

      2. Carrie in Scotland*

        YES for the history of love! (I write on another forum under this name)

        Also, Strange & Norrell has a BCC adaptation coming in the spring – it might make its way your way? (never know how this BBC America thing works)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I heard about that–I don’t know when (if) we’ll get it. Other than Doctor Who, BBCA anymore seems to be mostly reruns of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Top Gear, and Kitchen Nightmares (both versions) and that’s basically it. Oh, and we get Graham Norton a week after it airs in the UK.

      3. Jen RO*

        I read Station Eleven after several people recommended it here and, while it didn’t become a favorite, I enjoyed it! Except the most interesting part, to me, was not the traveling caravan but the airport, which isn’t the focus of the novel. I wanted more airport bits :(

    12. Sabrina*

      I just finished The Strain trilogy. There’s an FX TV show based on it. Basically vampires but it’s a rapidly spreading virus that causes it, so it’s a different twist.

      1. Cruciatus*

        And if you like The Strain, you may also like the series I mentioned above, The Passage. When I was abroad I met a guy who was reading The Strain and I was reading The Passage and we both read the other series and I think we enjoyed them both. Vampire strains take over the world. I think the books are different enough though in their perspectives so you won’t feel like you’re reading the exact same books.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        I liked the first and third books of the Strain trilogy, but hated the second. The first and third books are highly entertaining, even though they’re deeply cheesy and written more like a screenplay than a novel. A bit like Dan Brown, but with vampires.

    13. Calla*

      I just finished A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray, about a girl who travels to alternate dimensions to track down her father’s (who created the technology to do so) alleged killer, and really enjoyed it.

      Other recent reads that were super good:

      – The Silent Sister, Diane Chamberlain
      – My Second Death, Lydia Cooper
      – Gretel and the Dark, Eliza Granville (YA, but pretty dark as the title suggests)
      – The Weight of Blood, Laura McHugh

      Also, you might be interested in vN: The First Machine Dynasty by Madeline Ashby; there’s some Philip K Dick references there.

    14. Jillociraptor*

      I just read “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng and L-O-V-E-D it. It was a really beautiful book about how our stories are intimately intertwined with those of people we love…and always separate and complete independent of them. LOVED this book.

      In December I also read both “The Chosen” and “The Promise” by Chaim Potok, which I had somehow never read, and they also went to the top of my favorites list.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        I was just coming here to recommend Everything I Never Told You! I couldn’t put it down.

    15. fposte*

      I’m on a death kick :-). I read Caitlin Doughty’s Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematorium, about her learning days in the field; I’d liked what I’ve seen of her blog circle, The Order of the Good Death, and this was really interesting. Not shock-free, but then you wouldn’t expect that, would you?

      I also read Judy Melinek’s Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner; it’s her account of being a forensic medical examiner in New York (and how it’s not like CSI). Also really interesting; some of it tough to read at times (I thought I had heard all the sadness 9/11 could bring, but apparently not), but a fascinating exploration of stuff we often try not to think about.

      I have Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal waiting for me to get to it as well.

      It doesn’t feel like morbid reading, though–my dad’s death made me think a lot about how we handle that transition, and a lot of my friends are facing it with their parents now. There’s a lot to be said for looking behind that curtain.

      1. Turanga Leela*

        For your death kick: Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?, by Roz Chast. It’s a graphic memoir (as in a comic book) about the decline and death of her cranky Brooklynite parents. It’s very funny, very moving, and totally unsentimental.

    16. Carrie in Scotland*

      (just finished) Light-hearted fiction: Love Virtually and Every Seventh Wave – Daniel Glattauer: 2 novels about a mistaken email getting sent and the correspondence that springs up between Emmi and Leo.

      (bonus recommendation) Fiction, ‘something to get yourself into type of book’ – The Crimson Petal and the White, Michel Faber. Excellent novel about a “woman of other means” in Victorian England.

    17. Elkay*

      Not right now but I’d recommend Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris, it is one of my all time favourite books.

      I really enjoyed all of Mitch Albom’s books, some are fiction (The Five People You Meet in Heaven) and some are non-fiction (Tuesdays with Morrie) but all of them are wonderful reads (disclosure: I haven’t read his most recent one, The First Phonecall from Heaven)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Five People was fascinating to me. It’s how everything is interconnected and interwoven that grabs me.

    18. C Average*

      I’m reading the third book in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan trilogy.

      They’re really interesting books. She has a really keen eye for the relationship dynamics of friendships. The story takes place in Naples in the mid-20th century in a small, very clannish neighborhood, and the central storyline is the friendship between the narrator and another girl from the neighborhood.

      At times, it seems like the story moves slowly and I’m tempted to skim, but I find that reading every word pays off in this case; some of the passages are so nuanced that it’s impossible to appreciate them without slowing down. The writing is really wonderful. It’s unlike any other fiction I’ve read recently.

    19. Lizzie*

      Just finished rereading Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende and am about halfway through Thirteen Days in September, Lawrence Wright’s book about the Camp David Accords. Next up is The Good Lord Bird, which I’ve been trying to read for, like, a year now. I expect another snow day on Monday (after 3 this week) so I have not been lacking for reading time.

    20. Colette*

      I just read Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews. It’s pretty light reading, but entertaining. The heroine is basically a private investigator in a world where magic exists.

    21. nep*

      I just got my hands on The Elegance of the Hedgehog again. Read it years ago and I loved it — I look forward to picking it up again to see how it is this time around. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed anything I’ve read by J.M. Coetzee. I recall really liking We the Living by Ayn Rand — but it’s been ages and I can’t recall what I liked about it. Another one that comes to mind — Beyond the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Beautiful.

    22. blue_eyes*

      I just read The House of the Scorpion and it’s sequel The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer. Both are set in a dystopian future ruled by drug lords. I also just finished Kindred by Octavia Butler. It tells the story of a black woman who time travels to slave times and interacts with her ancestors.

    23. LaurenR*

      My husband and I are working through the Silo series by Hugh Howey. Post-apocalypse kind of thing, great story and characters, and it was on Amazon’s best of list for science fiction in 2014. So good, and they’re kinda long so they’ll keep you busy for a while.

      1. Jen RO*

        I was going to suggest this! I found the writing just “ok” in the first books, but they drew me in so bad I didn’t care anymore. His newer novel, Sand, it’s also good and also post-apocalyptic (but it’s just part 1 of a series).

      2. Chris*

        I’ve been on a Hugh Howey kick of late- Have you read The Shell Collector? Not as post-apocalypse as his other books, but an interesting concept (it reminded me of the Tulip Wars).

      3. Windchime*

        Highly recommend anything by Hugh Howey. Besides the Silo series (Wool, Shift, and Dust), he has also written a series called Sand. I’m not sure if that will eventually tie in with the others. It was different but I liked it. He has also written some excellent short stories. I liked The Plagarist. Super short but it’s a great story.

    24. Melissa*

      I just finished The Book of Unknown Americans, by Cristina Henriquez. I had mixed feelings about it. The main story was actually very interesting, but it is interrupted by short chapters that profile other characters in the book that have little to nothing to with the main characters or story.

      Last week I spent a considerable amount of time on Amazon’s “Best Books of 2014” page. I have an iPad and read most books on Kindle, so I just downloaded a bunch of samples from books I want to read so I can get started. Some of the books that looked interesting to me were Big Little Lies, Station Eleven, The Paying Guests, Belzhar, Everything I Never Told You, The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, We Were Liars, The Tyrant’s Daughter, All the Light We Cannot See, The Goldfinch, and What Alice Forgot.

    25. V. Meadowsweet*

      I’ve been really enjoying the ‘Mindspace Investigations’ series by Alex Hughes. Main character is a telepath who works with the police as an interviewer and consultant.
      Also Mark Del Franco’s ‘Connor Grey’ series. Early last century our world and Faerie sort of merged, and a lot of things that we thought weren’t real suddenly were. Main character is a druid who consults with the police.
      David Weber’s ‘Honor Harrington’ series is always good if you like space opera.
      Also Jack Campbell’s ‘The Lost Fleet’
      Andre Norton :) The ‘Witch World’ series in particular, and some of her SF – the ‘Solar Queen’ series, ‘Murdoc Jern’, …so many
      Lauren Haney – the ‘Lieutenant Bak’ series – set in Ancient Egypt

      ‘The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt’ – non-fic, about looking for dinos in Egypt

    26. Cath in Canada*

      I just started “The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August” by Claire North yesterday and am thoroughly hooked. It reminds me a bit of “The Time Traveler’s Wife”, but instead of being a romance about two people it has a much broader sweep about time travel paradoxes and the like. Great stuff so far!

      My book club just picked “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” for our next read, so I’ll be reading that next.

    27. Treena Kravm*

      I just read Graduates in Wonderland, which is a book of emails between post-college friends, living in Paris, Beijing, and Melbourne. I had avoided it because I thought it would be trite, but it was lovely.

      I just finished (2 hours ago) Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. It’s a collection of essays and it should seriously be required reading.

  23. The Other Dawn*

    My tenant was served the papers last Friday to leave the premises…on her birthday. Didn’t plan it that way; it just happened. But I thought it was hilarious given the Hell she’s put me through. So the other day she asks me yet again when she has to leave. I tell her January 31. She tells me that I need to serve the papers to make her leave. I tell her they were served last Friday. She claims they weren’t. I have verbal confirmation from the state marshal that they were served and the written confirm is on it’s way. She claims that her lawyer tells her the papers have to be served to her personally (she wasn’t home so the papers were left at the door, which is considered to be properly served) and that she knows because she’s “done this before.” Yes, she quite obviously HAS. So the marshal had to go there AGAIN and serve the papers to her personally. I now know that any tiny little detail that is out of order is going to be caught and she’s going to make my life hell. She keeps saying she can’t leave by today and can’t leave until March, that she doesn’t have the money, nowhere to go, yada yada yada. Well, she had more than a month to plan – I serve the termination of leave over a month ago. The Notice to Quit last week was for non-payment of rent.

    Can’t wait until this nightmare is over. At least we can cover the two mortgages, the bills, gas and still eat. I need to remember that it could be worse.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m glad you’ll be getting the house back soon, I can’t believe your “friend” is treating you so badly, she sounds like a complete leech.

      I just feel sorry for the people she mooches off next.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Is there any way to use that desire in her in order to guilt her a little — mention to her how you’re barely making ends meet because of the situation, may have to sell your car, or whatever you think might actually get her to move a little faster?

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I’ve done ALL of that, for MONTHS, when she was paying really late. My husband has two classic Mustangs (one driveable, the other not) and he really will have to sell them if he can’t get overtime at work. Luckily he’s able to get at least 8 hours overtime a week so we’re OK for the most part, but she doesn’t know that. Trust me, I’ve given her the mother of all guilt trips and it doesn’t work. Doesn’t phase her at all. She keeps saying that things are rough for her too. She keeps trying to contact my SIL, my niece who’s 17 (tenant is 46) and it sets off her anxiety each time because she doesn’t know what to say to her, my best friend (that’s the one she told she still wants to be friends), and trying to friend another friend of mine on Facebook. All of that is so she can get sympathy. I know because those that have talked to her said she just moans about how tough life has been.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              People start out so normal and then the wheels fall off. Yeah, this is what my friend goes through renting his place. It’s all about the tenant and ALL their problems. Root canals/anything is preferable to this. I am sorry you are going through this.

                1. Not So NewReader*

                  Sadly, I am aware of too many similar examples. Usually at the base of the problem is drugs or alcohol.

                  This is how I met an FBI agent at one place I rented. He was looking for someone else in the building. I told him my landlord was looking, too.

            2. Mimmy*

              That is a toxic friendship if I ever saw one. I really hope you can wash your hands of her. She has taken advantage of the fact that you two are (were?) friends.

        2. Mimmy*

          Ummmm………. can’t say that friendship has much of a chance. From the little bit I’ve read, she sounds like a total nightmare.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Very tempting!

        I just want her out. I hate knowing that she’s living there rent-free on my dime and it doesn’t even phase her. Or anyone else living there.

        Yeah, the marshal was NOT thrilled that he had to go back and serve again.

        1. fposte*

          I’m confused–was she right that she wasn’t properly served? And if she wasn’t, why does he have to try to serve her again?

          1. BRR*

            This is my question as well. Although I do like the tent the house approach :). I also wonder the legality of just changing the locks. I’m spiteful and you shouldn’t listen to me. I’d also be tempted to file something against them for their unpaid rent even though they obviously don’t have much but it would make me feel better.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Yes, I will definitely be filing a small claims case. Even though it will cost me $90.00 I don’t have. Even though I’ll win and I won’t get anything. And I’ll even pay the $100.00 to apply for wage attachment on the husband’s pay. Just because. People shouldn’t be able to get away with stuff like this. If anything, their names will be out there on an unsatisfied judgement and it will be on their credit reports. That’s enough for me. I’m already resigned to the fact that I’ll be carrying two mortgages for at least the next 3 to 4 months. It’s actually less stress than having to deal with trying to collect late rent and dealing with the tenant’s BS.

            2. Natalie*

              Lockouts are nearly always illegal, FYI. It can seem unfair when you’re looking at a situation like this, but you wouldn’t want a landlord to be able to randomly decide on their own that you don’t live there anymore. The laws are written with that in mind.

              1. the gold digger*

                Except this case is not random any more. LW has already gone through a very specific process. I am on the side of the property owner when the tenant is abusing the system and the owner is rational.

                1. blackcat*

                  I have only ever rented from two places, and I was sort of baffled when, both times, my landlord asked repeatedly if I was *sure* I had to move. (In one case, I was moving for grad school. In the other, I bought a house, so I wasn’t just looking for another rental).

                  I didn’t think of myself as a tenant worth working hard to keep. I just did what I thought were normal things–always made sure the rent was in the mail ~1 week before due date, called about maintenance issues promptly (both places were older and quirky), and didn’t break shit (the one time I did, I was clear about that. And I wasn’t charged anything). Stories like this have made me go “Oh, I guess I was a really good tenant. I guess that’s why Joe didn’t raise the rent on me for 4 years, despite market rates increasing by 40%.”

                  I wish you luck. The aforementioned Joe had evicted the person before me, and oh man, he made it sound like the worst. process. ever.

                2. Natalie*

                  Of course, I just meant that’s the legal philosophy behind forbidding lockouts. Typically if you have a tenant that refuses to leave after a proper eviction, it becomes the sheriff’s job to enforce the eviction order.

                3. The Other Dawn*

                  Blackcat, you were a dream tenant!! I wish you were the one renting from me. This is truly a horrible process for the landlord. I served the Notice to Quit and now I have to file more papers and pay for it. Wait for the tenants to answer, etc. Very lengthy and lots of things *I* have to do that will take time from work. I’ll be lucky if she’s out by May. Meanwhile I’m carrying two mortgages, husband has to work overtime, might sell his classic cars, etc.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            He served again to make sure all bases are covered. The tenant is picking fly poop out of pepper. She was served, but if tenants toss out enough questions that can make it really difficult for the landlords.
            The advice I have heard is that in person service is bullet proof. When you have to be correct every inch of the way in person is the route to go.

            1. The Other Dawn*

              Forgot to add that they are definitely the kind of people that will nitpick the shit out of every little thing so I have to make sure all the bases are covered.

              1. Sage*

                Just curious… were you able to review her or her husband’s credit bureau report before you rented to them? She indicated she’s been through this before. I’m wondering if a prior eviction is there for either of them?

                1. The Other Dawn*

                  No, I wasn’t. They were friends of ours and we felt comfortable renting to them. However, now with all this going on I check the state’s judicial website and found a prior eviction and an unpaid small claims case. So that’s something I’m going to make sure I check with the next renters.

  24. salad fingers*

    Oh, and another question that I’ve been meaning to ask this lovely community for awhile. Has anyone here overcome a driving phobia? I drove with much gusto and confidence from 15-18, moved out of my parents house and left my car and have since become totally petrified by driving, even sort of anxious about being in the car on highways. Really feeling like I want to tackle this soon but I don’t have a car and I don’t really know where to begin. I tried a little DIY exposure therapy with my friend in a quiet parking lot and it was okay, but the idea of expressways and anything over 30 miles and hour makes me actually cry real tears.

    1. Natalie*

      I asked this on a similar question last week – how’s your vision? My eyesight started declining in my mid 20s, and I didn’t notice it but I did become very anxious about driving, especially at night.

      Also, are you anxious generally?

      1. salad fingers*

        Hmm, that’s interesting. I have always had bad eyesight/worn glasses. My prescription has fluctuated a little but nothing major. Something worth checking out. And yes, I probably qualify as generally anxious. I have had very mild panic attacks, can be a little irrational nervous about food safety stuff, etc. Never had a crushing fear of anything in particular until this, though. I think I need to go read your post from last week :)

        1. Natalie*

          Oh, it was basically just about getting your vision checked.

          For the anxiety, are you getting any help for it? I have clinical-level anxiety and I’ve had a couple of proper panic attacks (eek, not fun). Getting therapy (cognitive-behavioral, specifically) for my anxiety has been hugely helpful. If therapy isn’t your thing or isn’t available for whatever reason, mindfulness practice has been shown to be very effective for anxiety. You can find the basics online, or get an introductory book. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a good author for the books.

          1. salad fingers*

            Therapy has been on the list of things to avoid doing at all costs for the last 5 or so years, not particularly proud to say. My boyfriend has occasionally given me some of his extra Klonopin (yes, we are a hot mess) and that has helped in a pinch. Probably time to man up and talk to a pro.

            1. Natalie*

              If you’re really averse to therapy, I gotta say it might not be that helpful just because you might not be bringing the right mindset into it. But, if you do decide to talk to a pro, consider just brain-dumping your therapy hate on them right away, and see how they react to it. If that reaction is something you can work with, maybe that therapeutic relationship is possibly. (Also, for situational anxiety you can usually get a prescription, but I’m not sure if it’s mood altering and thus not appropriate for driving.)

              If you do lean against therapy, do consider mindfulness. There’s a neat app called Headspace that guides you through a 10-day beginner program for free (it has a subscription option but you could just keep doing the free one).

              1. salad fingers*

                Thanks! I have tried meditation/meditation apps with varied success. Yes to the mindset bit. I spent a very unsuccessful half a year in therapy in high school, partly due to fit and partly to my not caring much about it at all. I’m sure adulthood and choosing a therapist myself would be a big game changer.

            2. fposte*

              And the kind of therapy might make a difference for your resistance, too. I think people who’d be uncomfortable with explorations into their childhoods, for instance, may be fine with CBT–it’s more like dog training than angst exploration.

              1. salad fingers*

                Yep, this is good to remember. I am generally uncomfortable with idea of an intense exploration of childhood things, partly because it makes me feel ridiculous/self-absorbed/kind of diva. I realize on the other hand that the most diva thing of all is to wallow and not fix some pretty common issues like an adult with other things to do should. Especially if they can be done in a straightforward, pragmatic dog training way. Woof.

              1. salad fingers*

                Yeah, I think we both (boyfriend and I) know that. The unfortunate thing about mental health issues is that they often lead you to make not ideal choices about treating your mental health issues. Boo.

      2. Melissa*

        You know, I have noticed this. I am 28 and my eyesight feels like it is rapidly getting worse. I keep thinking that I’m too young for this kind of eyesight degeneration…I just ordered a new pair of glasses and the eye exam made it clear how much my vision (particularly my right eye) had declined. After leaving I actually covered my left eye with my hand realized that I can’t see jack with my right eye, even with my glasses on!

        So yeah, night driving is a bit scary for me because I can’t see anything, and the glaring headlights only make it worse.

    2. Fruitfly*

      I haven’t drove for 5 years since I got my drivers license, and now I am afraid to take the wheel again :(

      I think we basically need to re-learn how to drive.

      1. salad fingers*

        I think there is really something to this. Do you want to take turns?

        Incidentally, a friend of mine suggested that I don’t only have to relearn to drive, but that I need to learn how every part of a car functions. I think there is a lot to his read on this too. I love riding my bike and have been in several serious bike accidents but I feel super comfortable on a bike in everything from dense Chicago traffic to on the side of interstates. It’s a relatively simple mechanism that I understand and can fully control. I know what to do if the chain falls off, I can fix most problems with brakes, and there really isn’t much chance of something breaking or malfunctioning that I can’t instantly respond to. Maybe we also need to become mechanics?

        1. Melissa*

          Not mechanics, but knowing basics about how the car works will alleviate some anxiety. My husband actually taught me how to drive (when we were in college together), and his father is a mechanic. So he taught me little basics about a car, like how to change the tire, check oil, how brakes work, etc. He’d also point out silly things about my logic – he was driving an old car that overheated one time and I was flipping out about the car catching on fire, and he turned to me and said “How many times have you ever seen a flaming car on the highway?” It’s funny in retrospect but at the time it made me rethink, because really, you never hear about modern cars catching on fire.

          But anyway, it did make me feel less anxious – not the least because if I get a flat, I know how to fix it! Another thing that makes me less anxious is having roadside assistance baked into my car insurance.

    3. INTP*

      *listens* I’ve recently developed a bit of a driving phobia. It started after I had a string of minor accidents that weren’t my fault – I just lost my ability to trust that the other cars are going to do what they’re supposed to do. (My accidents involved getting rear-ended at a complete stop and getting merged right into when I was going about 5 miles per hour down the right turn lane next to a fully stopped lane. So the results were minor, but the accidents were from people being scarily careless.) And a riding-in-cars phobia. If I’m riding on the freeway with someone else driving, I feel like we’re going to crash and die at any minute. It feels like a flying phobia, but more inconvenient, because I can’t always have a couple of drinks at the airport bar before getting in a car!

      Anxiety is probably a good guess for mine. I am pretty anxious but I can’t take SSRIs, I have to take some other meds that can cause anxiety, and needless to say sedative-like anti-anxiety drugs aren’t the best for a driving phobia.

    4. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m also terrified of driving! But I’ve never had my license. For now, I’ve solved the problem by living in a city with decent public transit. Maybe going to a driving school would help? Then, you have the security of a teacher who has access to brakes in case something goes wrong (I’m not making that up, right?). Maybe it would life the anxiety enough that you could get re-used to being behind the wheel?

      1. salad fingers*

        I also live in a super transit friendly city, which makes the whole avoidance thing a lot easier. The security of having someone who can brake for me is a great idea, thanks. I bet driving instructors are very familiar with all the anxiety around driving too.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          And you can ask questions. They have heard it all and they usually have ideas on how to fix the worry. Go situation by situation. I was scared crapless to get on the highway. That was one of the last lessons we did- so I was used to the instructor. I was willing to do what ever he said even though my brain was screaming NOOOOO. I did what he said, it worked. He got me on and off the highway.
          He also got me to BACK into a parking spot so tight, neither one of us could open our doors. For my part, I had to be willing to follow instructions. Backing into such a tight spot gave me more confidence than I would have gained any other way. No, I have never backed into such a tight spot since then.

          I never developed a personal opinion of the man. The one thing that stood out to me was that the guy KNEW how to drive and he knew how to explain it to me- wow. That was everything I needed to know.

        2. TL -*

          There are totally driving instructors who specialize in teaching people with phobias! If you live in a major metro area, I bet you can find some with Google.

      2. Helena*

        Me too! I’m lucky in that I live with a driver and very near decent public transport, so I can’t ever remember being stuck. However, I do think I’ll need to learn soon- I’ve realised I’m much happier in rural areas, and I just don’t want to be dependent on other people forever. I can’t decide if I’m just overly nervous or if I’m right to be cautious- I’m not great at spatial stuff or remembering manual tasks in sequence, I tend to ‘zone out’ into my own head very easily, and I know I’d really hate trying to drive on busy or major roads. I reckon I could either turn into a spaced out menace, OR I’d end up tense and panicky and on edge every time I get behind the wheel. I’m talking myself into it by saying that learning doesn’t mean I HAVE to drive, and that I don’t have to drive in busy areas- I’m learning so I can get to rural locations, after all. Really, I’m more scared of hurting someone else than I am of hurting myself.

        I just don’t understand how casually people view driving- “Huge chunk of metal! Moving really fast! Potentially lethal if you lose control for a second!” It seems like it should be a big deal, but most people- even really incompetent people- manage just fine.

        1. salad fingers*

          I just don’t understand how casually people view driving- “Huge chunk of metal! Moving really fast! Potentially lethal if you lose control for a second!” It seems like it should be a big deal, but most people- even really incompetent people- manage just fine.

          Yes, you said it more simply than I did. That’s how I feel. And I am also lamenting being stuck in a city environment where a cadre of pepole transport me in a reliable and cost effective way. I want to do things like camp and take weekend vacations and it’s really bumming me out this huge mental roadblock (pun intended ;:-)) That’s been the recent impetus for learning.

          It sounds like you’re addressing it — good for you! I hope everything goes well!!

    5. Hypnotist Collector*

      I’ve gone back and forth with driving phobia for quite a long time. It seems to flare up when my life isn’t going well, and aging vision, a bicycle-crazed city and stressful traffic doesn’t help. In my new job, I’m now doing a 90-minute commute by bus because I just can’t do the drive. I don’t feel I have the emotional bandwidth right now if anything should happen, and I think I have a tendency to over-empathize with the experience when I see or read about other people’s accidents.

      I wish I knew the answer, other than living in a city with great public transportation. I can move closer to my job, but rents have skyrocketed around the area, so my dream of being able to walk to work (and most other things) seems impossible right now.

      Good luck. I find it’s better when there’s more daylight. You’re not alone and I get petrified too, and very embarrassed about it.

    6. C Average*

      I drive rarely, reluctantly, and often times with a certain amount of anxiety. I’ve had some success overcoming it, but I know it’s still strong enough that it holds me back at times. Here’s what’s helped me.

      –Acknowledge the fear and, if possible, figure out if there’s anything logical behind it. In my case, I know city driving intimidates me because I grew up in the sticks. I know night driving scares me because I don’t have great night vision. And I know tight merges frighten me because I have poor depth perception. Just going into any driving situation knowing that these things present a challenge for me helps. I can tell myself, “Yep, it’s scary. You’re scared, and it’s OK to own that, but you need to get from this place to that place and you’ve gotta drive.”

      –Practice selective avoidance, if it doesn’t cramp your style too much. There’s a particularly hellish piece of highway near where I live that I flat-out won’t drive. I know alternate routes to anywhere I need to go, and I know how long they take, and I have no shame in taking them.

      –Don’t let other people psyche you out when you’re driving safely, legally, but with more caution than others. If I’m making a right-on-red turn and I can’t see that I’m clear, I’m not going. The guy behind me can lay on his horn until the light changes. I don’t care. If I’m parallel parking and it takes a half-dozen tries to get in and I can see pedestrians laughing at me, let ’em laugh. If I’m driving the speed limit and someone’s tailgating me, tough luck; I’m not speeding up.

      –Let would-be passengers know you’re a sometimes-anxious driver and that you may need them to be quiet if you’re in a situation where you have to concentrate. My stepkids know that when I’m merging onto the highway or changing lanes or passing another car or trying to route-find to a place I haven’t been, I need to focus. As I explained to them early on, “It’s not that I don’t love chatting with you, but sometimes it takes my full concentration to make sure I’m driving safely, and it can be hard for me to do that while I’m trying to pay attention to what you’re saying.”

      –If there’s a route you have to take that scares you, do practice runs when it’s not busy so it becomes familiar.

      I hope some of this helps. I’ll probably always have some anxiety about driving, but it’s good to know I can get places safely and with some measure of confidence.

      Oh, also, my husband’s newish car has a navigation system and I love driving it! If I had to drive more often than I do, I’d invest in one for my car, too. I feel SO much more relaxed when I’m not looking for signs, worrying about missing my exit, etc. Might be worth exploring for you if you find that part of what makes you anxious is the navigation aspect of driving.

      1. salad fingers*

        I love all of this, thank you. Especially informing passengers that you need some quiet. And not letting yourself be pushed into driving in a way that makes you uncomfortable. This is print out and tape on the dash (to read before driving obviously not during) worthy, thanks :-)

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I had been driving for a while. It was not a pleasant experience for me but I was managing. Then all heck broke loose.
      I had to drive from my apartment to my childhood home town, to take care of two very sick parents. It was horrible. I was driving on no sleep, no food and for hours. It was the worst driving situation I have ever encountered. And then when I got to my parents the real problems started.

      I did this for months- it was hard. Finally one day on the way home (to my apartment), I had pulled over and went into a convenience store. I passed out. I have never passed out in my life- not before then and not since. I just went to the floor.
      This totally shattered my confidence about driving. I had been driving for probably six years by the time I blacked out. I was so shattered that even talking about driver’s safety courses caused me to shake.
      So I knew what that meant. Take the darn safety course. I got through it. (This involved crying and shaking because I was pretty toasted at this point.) Slowly it dawned on me- I routinely had avoided conversations about cars/driving therefore I never learned anything about it. Part of my healing was to make myself pay attention when people are talking about driving. There were other little things that I did- I bought safety/emergency equipment for my car. I started asking more questions about my car when I put it in the shop. I got Triple A. I put maps in my car. None of these little things are that noteworthy, but combined they did help.

      That was almost 30 years ago that happened and I still ask people questions about driving and still push myself to learn more. It was only a few years ago that I learned that I actually see better at night if I am rested. Who’d thunk.
      In short, I used several things to help myself and I made myself talk about various concerns I had. If I had known that it would not get worse, it could only get better, I would have done these things sooner.

      1. Artemesia*

        One of the ways we taught our kids to drive was to talk about driving when they were with us as smaller kids. We would talk about situations on the road, about drivers doing dangerous things, about how we were scanning ahead 2 or 3 cars to anticipate a need to stop or slow down in difficult traffic. Long before they were ready for driver training, they knew lots of the rules of the road and driving strategy.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Oh this is so valuable.
          Thinking about the drivers in my life at that time, many of them would get upset at the slightest thing. Currently, I know I admire people who keep their cool while driving. It makes me feel more confident about their driving ability.

      2. salad fingers*

        That all sounds rough, Not So NewReader, glad it sounds like you’ve got it mostly sorted. I think you’re making a strong case here for other stressors contributing greatly to the super specific ones, something I know I like to forget. Thanks.

    8. Lulubell*

      Yes! I had a similar trajectory as you. Got my license at 16-17 – typical age. Had no problem driving from 17-22. But after college I moved to NYC, and sold my car since I didn’t need it anymore since subway, cabs, etc. I would drive my parent’s car when I would visit home, but otherwise, I stopped driving altogether. Over time, I realized I lost my nerve – I would go home and refuse to drive my parent’s car around our tiny suburb. I’d take cabs on business trips. How did I get over it? Well, I moved to Los Angeles when I was 28 – about seven years after I stopped driving – and just picked up the rent-a-car at the airport, turned onto the six-lane freeway, and everything came back. Seriously. The first few weeks and months I was definitely timid, but I realized it was something I had to do and wanted to do – most adult people drive, and it made me feel trapped and helpless not to – so I think that helped. I hate the saying “it’s just like riding a bike” because I actually never really mastered riding a bike, but it really all just came flooding back and felt very natural. The hardest part for me was not getting lost…

      1. C Average*

        This reminds me of an insight I got that was actually very useful to me.

        Driving and navigating are two different skills, and if either one doesn’t come easy for you, it’s going to be much harder to do it while simultaneously doing the other thing as well.

        I can drive relatively anxiety-free if I know where I am going or have someone directing me. And I can navigate easily if someone else is driving. I’ve never quite been able to do both well at the same time. So if I need to go somewhere new, I take a practice run if I can so I know my way. And if a practice run isn’t possible, I leave early to build in some getting-lost time.

        I think this is why driving the car with the navigation system has been so amazing for me. I can focus on driving, rather than on not getting lost.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          oh my, yes-yes. If I have to go to a new place, I am up the night before looking at Google street view and trying to memorize the main intersections where I must turn. (No GPS.)
          I will also use roads that I know, even if that means going a longer way. I have been lucky so far. I think it helps to decide as quickly as possible that I have missed a turn. The further away I get from that missed turn the bigger the problem.

    9. Melissa*

      I wouldn’t say that I had a phobia per se, but I was really super nervous about driving, to the point that I would really just rather not get in the driver’s seat of a car at all. Through a series of weird chain events despite living in metro Atlanta I didn’t drive much at all, and then I moved to New York, so I really had never driven beyond a few miles at a time before I moved to small-town central Pennsylvania. And every time I got behind the wheel I was terrified that I was going to do something wrong and get into an accident.

      Well, I moved to small town central PA, and bought a car, and now I have to drive to work every day and around town to do errands. In the beginning I was scared; it’s 6 months later and I’m used to it now. Very occasionally I even look forward to driving short distances, although I can’t say I’ll ever feel the kind of love that makes people just go for drives. It was exposure therapy – I had to get in the car in order to go places, since I live alone in this town, but it’s a good place to learn because it’s small and everything is within 15-20 minutes driving, plus there’s basically no traffic.

      I wouldn’t recommend straight-up exposure therapy if you are seriously terrified and crying because the anxiety might be distracting. But maybe you have a compassionate friend who is a good driver, but is willing to let you get behind the wheel in real circumstances and places? Like starting with short trips to the post office, grocery store, etc., with him or her in the passenger seat.

    10. Jen RO*

      I was terrified of even starting the car and now I’m told I’m a good driver! In my case, it was fear of failure – I hadn’t driven in 10 years, and last time I had tried seemed a disaster to 19 year old me. My first car was shit and prone to stopping in the middle of busy intersections, and I absolutely hate inconveniencing people, so after the third or so incident I just… stopped. (I also felt I didn’t ‘deserve’ my license, because I got super lucky, passed the written test without really studying, then had a super easy driving test.)

      I had tried a few times, over the years, to stay driving again, but I was scared, and embarrassed for being scared, and since I live in a city with good public transport and a country with an extensive train network, I never really needed it.

      And then I moved to a neighborhood with not-so-good public transport, and I got a free car… I was scared shitless the first time – I think I’ve managed to erase the memory -, but I went slow. For the first few months, I just drove 1.2 km to the nearest subway station. I then learned the way to my parents’. I then changed jobs and, rather than freeze my ass off on a bus, I chose to learn to drive in traffic (trust me, it’s a feat, people here are not… too concerned about traffic rules or giving a damn about other people on the road). I also made friends with Google Maps – one of my fears was getting lost and having a map with GPS helped immensely.

      Two years later, I have grown a fairly thick skin and I no longer get anxious when I have to drive somewhere new. I still haven’t driven by myself outside a city and I’m pretty scared of hitting sine drunk guy trying to cross the road or of making a wrong move at 130km/h…

    11. angel tears*

      I couldn’t decide whether or not to share my story, but I decided to proceed, just in case it is in any way helpful. I have had Generalized Anxiety Disorder for 8 years, on and off, but it didn’t affect my driving. A few years ago, I had several traumatic experiences, and after one of them, I stopped being able to drive normally. I now have a bona fide phobia of driving, mostly on highways, but also on bigger streets or dark places. As if that weren’t enough, after two years of this horrible phobia, I am now pretty much unable to be a passenger in a car on the highway at night.

      You’ve already been given some excellent advice. If I could leave you with one takeaway, it would be to nip this in the bud early, before it ruins your life, as it has mine. I was told when my phobia began to “drive as much as possible”. I tried to follow this advice, but either it didn’t work for me, or I didn’t follow it properly. Still, I would give you the same advice. Perhaps I would’ve been worse off I hadn’t tried to follow it.

      See if therapy helps, if you find you want to try it. I heard good things about hypnotherapy for anxiety, and I am trying it now. I am praying it works for me, because I am truly desperate.

      Don’t give up!

      1. salad fingers*

        If I could leave you with one takeaway, it would be to nip this in the bud early, before it ruins your life, as it has mine.

        This is one of my big concerns — dealing with it before it gets worse. Thanks for sharing your experience, from all of the comments above it seems like a common issue and one that is feasible to overcome. Internet hugs and good luck to you!

        Oh, and also, can’t tell from what you’ve written but it sounds like maybe the traumatic experiences were unrelated to driving. It never ceases to amaze me what extensive and varied impacts physical and emotional trauma can exact on us. Equally amazing how people overcome them. Bodies/brains are really weird.

  25. Aussie Teacher*

    Any Sweet Adelines on here? I was quite heavily involved with barbershop when I was teaching but I’m a bit rusty these days after 5 years as a SAHM. Heading to a chorus reunion dinner tonight for some networking in preparation for getting back into the workforce in the next few years. I’d love to get back into chorus singing but the cost is prohibitive, and I don’t have the time to devote to a quartet (I’ve previously competed and medalled nationally in both chorus and quartet comps). There’s not a huge amount of classes or workshops in the west to get into so I’m a bit stuck for ideas on how to brush off the cobwebs!

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Do Aussie symphonic choruses offer scholarships? I’m not a barbershop singer but I am heavily involved in choral singing, and every group I’ve ever joined had a fund that covered dues for a few members. While it’s not as intense as barbershop work, a big chorus will help you work out those cobwebs without fear of being personally exposed. This doesn’t help, of course, if you’re not interested in the “big” choral stuff!

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        It’s more that chorus fees are not in my budget, rather than too poor to pay. I’d feel bad taking a subsidy/scholarship away from someone who really needed it.

        I’ve previously done a bunch of big choruses (West Australian Symphony Orchestra Chorus, West Australian Opera Chorus) so I’m not really wanting to do that again. Barbershop is quite a specialized art form within the choral genre, and I’m a director/conductor as well as a singer, so it’s specifically barbershop cobwebs I’m interested in brushing off, if that makes sense!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I ‘m concerned here. This seems out of character. I hope she is alright and just super busy.
        Do people who see her, read here? I was thinking if someone just said “yeah, I know she is okay”, that would be good to hear.

      2. Shell*

        Hmm…would it be possible to send her a second email? Perhaps she missed the first one or the email gremlins ate it?

        However, I totally understand if that seems pushy and you don’t want to do it.

    1. Elkay*

      I could have sworn I saw Jamie respond to a post in the last couple of weeks but she didn’t use her gravatar.

      1. Elkay*

        There was someone called Jamie on the best time to fire someone thread, maybe a different Jamie though…

  26. Shell*

    Bouldering conclusion: I love it, it’s scary and exhilerating and awesome, and I suck at it very much. :D I’ve gotten some spectacular bruises doing it. Dynos scare the crap out of me and I’m still scared of falling.

    My weak knee is ambivalent about whether it can handle it or not. It never complains during the session, and for about half the sessions I’ve had it was fine afterwards, the other half of the sessions my knee will feel weird or slightly sore for a day or three after. Still very careful with it on my climbs, but man, it’s awesome.

    My climbing gym is fantastic too. Such a friendly bunch of people, wow. And so crowded/popular! I never imagined a bouldering-only gym would get this crowded.

    1. C Average*

      Nice! And yes, dynos are crazy scary.

      Years ago I was really, really into climbing, and when I first started, I got some spectacular bruises, too. I had gone to the doctor for my annual women’s exam and, after the exam, the doctor handed me this card for the domestic violence hotline and said, “I understand these things are private, but I couldn’t help noticing that you have a lot of bruises. If your partner is hurting you, this organization can help.”

      I explained to her that my partner was my rock-climbing partner and that the rocks were hurting me. It turns out her husband was an avid climber, too. Once I explained myself, she laughed and said that she did indeed recognize that pattern of bruises, now that I mentioned it.

    2. Sheep*

      It is fantastic! Glad you’re loving it and the environment! I’ve had the same experience – climbers are super nice and friendly!

      Can’t wait to get back to it after a long (1yr) break. Oh, and about sucking… You will get better. At some point it all just clicks (and you have the strength for it too), and that moment will be glorious!

  27. Felicia*

    Anyone single have any good plans for Valentine’s Day? It’s a Saturday, and a long weekend, and most of my friends are in relationships, or babysitting the kids of siblings in relationships, so I have no idea what to do. Usually i don’t care about Valentine’s Day, but it’s a weekend, so I’m probably going to be so bored. Any ideas anyone had would be great!

    1. Natalie*

      Are you off work for President’s Day (the 16th)? If so, maybe a long weekend getaway would be fun.

      1. Felicia*

        No. I am in Canada (Ontario specifically) where we have a made up random holiday on the 16th called Family where almost everyone gets off (if you don’t have it off, you have time and a half, it’s a stat holiday). That is an idea! But i sort of don’t want to see that many people being all couply on Valentine’s Day.

          1. Colette*

            That’s what I’m doing – I booked camp with my pathfinders and then realize it was the long weekend. (I knew abou Valentine’s day in advance.)

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I’m in the same boat, and also same part of the world. I was planning on not leaving the house where I might have to run into all the coupledom! There’s lots of stuff I could be doing to keep myself occupied… too much, actually.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m doing a double-date with my BF and a friend-couple to a SpeakEasy event in DC at the 9:30 Club. It should be really fun! They teach people the art of storytelling, and have big “concerts” where the students tell stories from their lives. There’s a theme for each one, and on Valentine’s Day it’s “Suckers for Love,” featuring something like 7 storytellers talking about the crazy things they’ve done for love. Excited!

    3. C Average*

      I am going to Phoenix to run a marathon with my best friend from New York.

      And while I am there, I am going to hang out with fellow AAMer Stephanie! I am so excited. We are going to talk about books and podcasts and careers and lots of other wonderful stuff.

      (I’m not single, but my husband will be just fine without me! He knows I love him.)

    4. Melissa*

      I’m not single, but me and a couple of my friends had talked about doing a spa day at LUSH (the handmade natural cosmetics store). For $250 they will do fun spa things like facial and hand treatments for you and 7 of your friends before the store opens or after the store closes.

      So maybe a spa day? Of course, it could be that the nice spas in your area are booked up by people getting spa treatments as V-day gifts, but we’re still two weeks out so maybe not.

      Might also be a good “day off” day – a day where you stay in and just do warm cozy things at home, like reading books and watching TV that you’ve been meaning to get to.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Because it’s a long weekend here, my bf and I are going to NYC to visit some friends. This means there will be no romantic dinner or anything, and that is just fine with me. Valentine’s Day gets expensive and silly when you try to go out and do stuff. We will probably get together with some single friends and catch up and have a few drinks.

      When I was single (i.e., before I had someone to join me on the sofa while I drank my wine) I used to plan an evening with stuff for me and only me, like movies I wanted to watch and wine I wanted to drink. You might also find a completely unromantic movie and take yourself. It’s a particularly good night for indulging in some totally decadent food while sitting in your pajamas and drinking champagne.

      The only, ONLY night I ever felt weird about doing stuff on my own was Valentine’s Day, so I feel you. It’s the only night when people openly stared at me with pity. PITY. People spending $80/person on a mediocre dinner pitied ME, while I was enjoying my own company and doing stuff I wanted to do without spending a fortune. So I often opted to stay home.

      Don’t forget– it’s a weekend, so there will be an AAM open thread for company if you want it!

      1. Felicia*

        I forgot i will have an AAM open thread for company! it is really the ONLY night i feel weird about doing stuff myself, and feel sad about being single. It’s designed to make people feel bad about being single imo. I think i will find a bunch of animated movies to watch at home. Wine and candy might work! It also wasn’t so bad when i had single friends, but now all my friends have significant others. This is alsoo the first year I live alone.

    6. Hillary*

      I appear to not be single anymore, but I’m freaking out a little. I just started dating someone I’ve known for 15 years. We’re going to a party with 30 of our mutual friends. Some of whom will find out we’re dating at the party (if the gossip hasn’t reached them yet).

    7. cuppa*

      My husband is going out of town, so I’m kind of single for Valentine’s Day. :) I’m going to eat whatever I want for dinner, drink some wine, and binge watch something on tv. Maybe hang out here on the open thread, who knows.
      Also, I’ve noticed that there are a lot of restaurants that aren’t really big on Valentine’s Day. Maybe you could hit one of those with a friend?

    8. Sunflower*

      Going to see 50 shades of grey with some friends. I thought the book was terrible but I’m just insanely curious about the movie. Afterwards we’re going to a bar that is having a singles party. Valentine’s Day is a great day to meet guys at the bar. The majority of them are single!

    9. HR Manager*

      I will probably work down my Netflix queue. I particularly love the (usually) awful horror movies that I add in and so perfect for late night. It will be kind of ironic that it’s V-Day.

  28. Elizabeth*

    Super Bowl food…. What are you making?

    I’m making a big pot of chili con carne. I haven’t decided if I’m doing garlic breadsticks or cornbread to go with it. As far as I know, we’re watching the game at home.

    And if you’re not watching the game, this year’s Budweiser Clydedale’s commercial is up on YouTube already. It’s a sequel to 2013’s “Landslide” and 2014’s “Puppy Farm”, featuring an overdub of the Proclaimer’s “I Would Walk 500 Miles”.

    1. BRR*

      I would do corn bread. Nothing beats chili and corn bread. Simply recipes posted a cheesy bread that I want to make but I need to have people over first because if not my body will hate me for how much of it I’d eat.

      1. Artemesia*

        My husband does a jalapena cornbread that has corn in it (whole kernel) and bacon — it is beyond fabulous with chilli.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Now I want to make both corn bread and cheesy bread in addition to the soft pretzels I already have planned. Three kinds of bread is probably overkill for 6 people though…

    2. YWD*

      I’ve watched the Budweiser commercial at least 5 times already. I have a weakness for golden retriever puppies. They are all adorable. And I wish I had a pack of Clydesdales watching my back!

    3. Blue_eyes*

      We’re having people over to watch the game basically as an excuse to make tasty snacks. I’m making soft pretzels (recipe from Smitten Kitchen), fondue, and guacamole. Considering making cornbread too. And we have plenty of Skittles – I don’t even care about football particularly but I’m from Seattle and have been really enjoying watching Marshawn Lynch’s standoff with the media, and Skittles are delicious.

      1. Artemesia*

        Did you see the Marshawn spoof on SNL last night? I didn’t really ‘get it’ until your post here since I would never intentionally watch athletes be interviewed (or paint dry.)

          1. Natalie*

            Yeah. No. Yeah.

            (Did you see his Newbie Gamer thing on Conan? I’m not getting the segment name right but if you google Marshawn and Conan you’ll find it.)

        1. Blue_eyes*

          No, I didn’t watch it yet, but now I’ll have to! He did an “interview” on a Skittles commercial that’s pretty funny.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I’m watching at home. I’m a football fan, but I am going to switch over to Downton Abbey at 9 unless the game is super engaging in which case I will watch Downton Abbey immediately after the game.

      I already cooked today and am planning pizza tomorrow night, but cornbread sounds so good right now. Might make some.

    5. Emily*

      I’m hoping for a quiet night in – the last two days have been pretty busy and surprisingly social for me, which is good but has left me tired out. But if I get last-minute invited to watch the Superbowl with anyone, I’ll probably make cheddar-scallion biscuits.

      1. Artemesia*

        We are going to the new Goddard 3D movie and then out to dinner with friends. My town is in the midst of a horrifying snow storm that continues — we will be taking the bus but it is still a bit crazy to even go out in it.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I just made a ton of pimento cheese. It’s so easy. I cannot believe this stuff has managed to stay so far south of the Mason-Dixon Line– I had only vaguely heard of its existence before we moved. Well, scratch that– I ate a giant pile of it on our first visit to our new home back in May.

      We’re going to a friend’s house for the game– he’s one of my boyfriend’s classmates and he’s from Antigua, so my boyfriend is bringing some ingredients and a vessel for a massive rum punch. My bf is a quite the bartender, so we are parting with a liter of homemade grenadine for this punch. Rum punch, pizza, pimento cheese, and wings. Mmm mmm delicious.

  29. Stephanie*

    I’m curious–what are people’s deciding favors for driving somewhere versus flying? I’m thinking of heading to Southern California to visit a friend and can’t decide whether to drive or fly (I’m in the Phoenix area). Cost and travel time seem to be about the same (when you factor getting to the airport early). Car’s in good condition and is fairly fuel efficient.

    1. BRR*

      I would ask myself what is parking like there, will I be caring a lot of stuff there or back, and will they easily be able to pick me up from the airport, and are the flight times convenient? For that distance I would probably just drive.

    2. Sabrina*

      We live in Omaha but we’re from Chicago. It’s a 2 hour flight or a 8 hour drive. Generally we decide which to do based on why we’re going, what we’re doing and how long we’ll be there. If it’s a very short trip and time is an issue we usually fly. Other than that, we drive. After a couple days a rental car is just too pricey. I’ve also looked in to Amtrak, but it’s as expensive as flying and takes longer than driving.

    3. anonymous educator*

      Will your friend be chauffeuring you once you get there? If so, I’d fly. If not, drive as So Cal is pretty useless without a car, so you’d have to rent one anyway.

    4. INTP*

      If cost and time are the same, I drive. You have more control that way, can’t miss your flight or have your trip canceled due to weather in Chicago or something.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      Is there anything you would like to see on the way there? A friend of mine used to love going to Death Valley (just not in the middle of summer). I also factor in not only the length of the flight, but time at the airport. A 2 hour flight is actually a 3.5 hour trip (or more) not including driving to the airport when you consider checking in, clearing security, picking up your bags, potential delays.

      There is also that story of the guy who wouldn’t fly because it meant he couldn’t take his guns… but somehow I doubt you fall into that category.

      If you do decide to drive, get some audiobooks, they’re great for a road trip.

    6. Noah*

      I despise being stuck in a car for hours, and I work for an airline, so for me the deciding factor is generally how open the flights look. Open seats on the flights mean an easy time as a non-rev passengers who is on standby. I would seriously rather spend a few hours hanging out at an airport than stuck in a car driving.

    7. Melissa*

      For me it’s length of time – I won’t drive anywhere by myself ore than about 4 hours, and even sharing the load I don’t think I would drive anywhere more than 6-8 hours. I just would hate being in the car that long…I’d rather save for the plane ticket than ride in the car forever lol. However, I will say that car trips are nice because there’s no security and you can bring whatever you want in the car; there are also no precise time points to meet. You can leave whenever you want.

      If cost and travel time are the same, I would choose whatever option required the least work from me. If it was less than 4 hours I would probably drive; more than that, I would opt for the flight.

    8. Dang*

      My threshold is about 9 hours. At that point, I feel like it would still probably take half or more of that time to fly between getting to the airport (Nyc airports are about an hour from here and traffic is dicey), waiting at the gate, actual flight time, getting from other airport to my destination…
      Also, if the other destination has terrible flight schedules or its a small airport that’s expensive to fly into. And how long I’m staying at destination… If it’s just a long weekend or something, I’m less inclined to take a long drive.

      All factors I take into consideration.

    9. asteramella*

      I like the drive from Phoenix to San Diego. If you like driving and desolate long two-lane highways, you will too (and stop at Dateland for a date shake). If not, skip it.

    10. BA*

      This will not help the OP at all, but I do not own a car and hate, hate to drive. For business, I recently flew from Washington, DC to State College, PA (a 4-hour drive) rather than renting a car to make the drive. So I will always choose flying when I can if train/bus is not an option.

    11. Jules103*

      The deciding factor may be what you are doing with the car in the meantime. It’s ridiculously pricey to park at O’Hare, for instance, so if it’s drive to the airport and leave the car, I’ll lean toward driving, not flying. And, will it be advantageous to have the car at your destination? Or unneeded and difficult to find parking for it?

      For me the deciding factor is my hatred of the flying experience as it is today. It’s not a fear of flying. I think my attitude is the opposite of Noah’s; my nightmare is being trapped at an airport, or stuck, immobile, on a plane. I doubt I will ever fly anywhere ever again that I can get to by train or driving… Unfortunately, my daughter moved to Hawaii a couple of years ago. So I’ll put up with having to fly there once in a while…downside, being crammed into a sardine tin with wings, upside, destination Hawaii.

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My major deciding factor is the dog– if we want him to come, we drive. But there’s also the cargo and convenience factor; if you want to bring a lot of stuff and/or you need/want a car when you get there, driving wins. Also if the drive is pretty.

      We’re driving to NYC in 2 weeks because we want to bring the doggy and save money on flights. I’m not looking super forward to it because I’m still not used to driving and it will be allllll day, but it will be worth it when our former neighbor sees the buddy for the first time since July.

  30. Rebecca*

    Today is Day 21 of my 21 Day Primal Challenge! I made it! No grains, no sugar, no pasta, only a small amount of sweet potatoes, no diet soda, no candy, nothing. I didn’t adhere to the organic parts, because (1) many of the things just weren’t available here and (2) the things that are available cost too much for my grocery budget.

    I learned quite a bit. I’m definitely making my own salad dressings at least 90% of the time moving forward. I’ll keep some store boughten (please excuse my PA Dutch) on hand for emergencies, but I found a recipe for a citrus vinaigrette that puts premade dressings to shame. Ditto mayo. I made some with olive oil, lemon juice, ground mustard, and egg, and it was wonderful. I’m still craving croutons, though, but I muddled through 21 days without them. I’m thinking about getting out the bread maker, making my own bread, then making croutons from that, but freezing them and eating fewer than before. I’m relegating soda to a once in a while thing, like maybe one or two on weekends, rather than an every day thing. I’m going to continue to make the kale/cabbage/onion/garlic/pepper fritatta for breakfast. I’ve also been buying plain yogurt, and putting frozen berries in it instead of the prepared yogurts with all the additives, and found I like it just as much or better.

    Tomorrow I’m having hot wings for lunch. One of my work friends goes for wing night every few weeks, and always has a few left over. She gives them to me since she doesn’t eat leftovers. She brought me wings twice while I was doing the challenge, so right into the freezer they went. I cannot wait!

    I feel sort of proud of myself that I saw this through. I can be a real cookie monster, and I love my SweetTarts & diet soda, but I was able to put it all aside and commit to this for 21 days. Woot!!

      1. Rebecca*

        I lost almost 9 lbs, but other than that, I didn’t really notice any other differences. Everything seems to be pretty much the same.

    1. nep*

      ‘Boughten’. Reminds me of an aunt in PA who once asked, ‘didn’t he outen the light?’ Do you use ‘outen’ also?

      Good on ya for pulling that off. How do you feel? Granted it’s a relatively short time but I’m interested in whether/how it’s affected digestion, sense of well-being, sleep…

      1. Rebecca*

        Yes, I say outen at times, when I’m not self correcting my speech :) I didn’t have any issues with digestion or sleep before, and nothing really changed, other than my weight, during the 3 weeks I did this. It was hard, though.

    2. Artemesia*

      I never thought of using frozen berries in the yogurt — I am trying to drop bread and similar carbs to lose a bit of weight and yogurt is a mainstay. Right now I am eating cottage cheese with homemade cranberry sauce (as long as cranberries are available we have both cold relish and cooked sauce in the refrigerator — it goes great on everything toast/cream cheese/cranberry sauce for example — and now with no bread cottage cheese/cranberry sauce. I will get some frozen berries and give that a try.

      1. Rebecca*

        I bought frozen blackberries, raspberries, and a combination of blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. I used small square Rubbermaid containers, put the frozen berries on the bottom until it was covered, and then put plain yogurt on top. I made 2 or 3 at a time, but not more than that because the berries can get too mushy for my taste. Hope you like it!

        1. Artemesia*

          I’ll probably just keep the bag in the freezer and pull out berries as I need them and make it up as I go. I have always kind of liked have thawed frozen fruit. Much better idea than using jam because the sugar content is so much lower. Thanks for the idea.

    3. GOG11*

      I’m so glad you’re continuing to update us! It sounds like you’ve done a great job of adhering to the challenge – you’ve certainly made a lot of changes. Do you feel differently/better? (I can’t remember if you started because you wanted to feel better or not)

      1. Rebecca*

        My daughter asked me to join the challenge, and I said I would, sort of reluctantly. Don’t get me wrong – it was really hard for me. Everything seems to have added sugar or HFCS. And I love my treats. But I did it!!

    4. INTP*

      If you get tired of the berries in your yogurt or want to try something a little sweeter but still low on the additives, try mixing a little jam into a full fat greek yogurt. (Read the jam labels of course – many have HFCS and other frankenjunk. I like Trader Joe’s organic lower-sugar ones.)

      1. Rebecca*

        Not at all – hope I’m not too late. This is from The Clothes Make The Girl, home made paleo olive oil mayo. I used an immersion blender, and a quart jar, although I could have gotten away with a pint jar.

        Ingredients:
        1 egg (room temp)
        2 tablespoons lemon juice @ room temp
        1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
        1/2 teaspoon salt
        1/4 cup plus 1 cup light-tasting olive oil (Not extra virgin. Try Filippo Berio or Bertoli.)

        I just dumped this in the jar and used the immersion blender. It took about 15 or 20 seconds, and was awesome.

    5. cuppa*

      I am not crazy about my in-laws. Over the years (10), I have become more used to them, and I think they have gotten slightly better, too, for reasons I won’t get into here. Despite that, I try to keep my exposure to them in small doses, and usually it involves a beer or a glass of wine, too.

  31. Anon for today*

    Not to derail the question above but please tell me I’m not the only person who can’t be around their in-laws. I can’t explain what it is about them other than at the end of every encounter I feel emotionally drained. Is it the worst thing in the world to avoid your in-laws?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m not married but a work friend of mine can’t stand their in laws. My sister can’t stand her in laws, come to think of it I can’t stand them either I found them really snobbish and offensive the only one time I met them,

      So you’re not alone .

    2. BRR*

      I like some more than others. The more of them there are the harder it is for me and when it’s where they live it’s more difficult because it’s very rural and I’m a city boy. So when someone is called next door to grandpa’s to shoot something in a trap because grandpa is too old to handle a shotgun, I’m ready to get back to suburbia.

        1. BRR*

          Then they come for our wedding, see deer in the park, wonder if they can go hunting in a local park. It’s not contentious just different lifestyles.

          1. Stephanie*

            Oh, I know the feeling. My dad loves to hunt (there is a freezer full of elk at home at the moment).

            We had a bear get loose in our area and my dad was determined to bag it.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I just saw a news story about a person that set a trap for a fox and caught a mountain lion.
        But I don’t think that was the grandpa in your story. lol

    3. Anonymousforthisone*

      I cannot stand any of my in-laws. I never have been able to be near them. It is impossible for me to spend time with them without wanting to scream at them (or worse). My husband and I have been married for over 24 years and we have an agreement that I will not be forced to spend any significant time with them. Ever. It works.

      1. Anon for today*

        It’s good to hear about a long marriage with the in-law issues. We’ve not been married long but long enough that I feel like I’ve tried with my in-laws and it will never be better. It doesn’t help that there is literally no-one in my life I can talk to about this and be supported, my parents will no longer discuss the issues with me because they think I’m being unreasonable/unfair, my other half is a master of burying their head in the sand and discussions end with me in tears.

        Every time I interact with them I’m subject to criticism and condescending attitudes. The worst was when we went to see them (in a city we’ve never lived in) and they made us (me) organise restaurant reservations then complained about where we went!

        1. also anonymous for this one*

          Just in case you come back to read/are getting comment update e-mails…

          My mother in law told me that I need to grow up because I don’t like goat cheese! And then went on to explain in great detail how to acquire a taste for a food. Never mind that I was nearly 30 at the time, do try new foods, and know what I like and don’t like.

          So you’re not alone. When she’s around I just try to detach and not engage on anything personal to the greatest degree possible. (Then of course my fiance gets passive-aggressive comments about don’t I like her, am I angry, whatever… but what can you do. The sad thing is I think she really wants a good relationship, but she just doesn’t understand how to do that without being judgy and overinvolved in personal decisions that are none of her business/doing things that I find really overbearing and offputting.)

    4. Not So NewReader*

      My relationship was not the best. Some of it was my fault and some of it was just weird stuff. But I know plenty of people who cannot deal with their in-laws, nor should they!

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’m not married either, but I like my brother’s in-laws. We have Christmas with them. They are family.

      My sister’s mother-in-law died. :( She was very nice, though I only met her and her partner once, at their wedding. They lived where my ex lives.

    6. beckythetechie*

      Nope. I still can’t quite stop chuckling in a sardonic way about a wedding planning discussion in which I told my Other Half’s mother no less than 4 times that someone was making homemade bread as their gift and she insisted on ordering dry, tasteless rolls from a local grocery store. On the fifth repetition I pulled out a card from dealing with my own narcissistic mother. “Since it’s so much more important to you, do whatever you feel is best. I just hope Friend won’t feel snubbed that it will look like I’m disregarding her wedding gift to me.” (The plan was to “forget” to put them out and donate them to the local homeless shelter if she really pushed. She didn’t. Instead she just took down reception decorations an hour and a half before anyone left the venue. So, yeah, you’re not alone with that “drained” feeling.)

    7. LAMM*

      My mother can’t stand my Step-dad’s family, but even he finds his family draining. Once, after my parents got married, the step-family decided to “swing by and say hello” without calling first. They live 2+ hours away. My mother was livid and quickly put an end to that (they expected her to entertain them for several hours since they drove all the way over to visit) and said she’ll never live closer than 2 hours away from them.

      There was just a giant personality mismatch that was never overcome. They valued frequent (and loud!) family gatherings, having a close-knit family (well… unless you’re not actually “family” i.e. the step children), etc. None of which is bad. But they seemed to go about it in a weird way. I don’t know how else to describe it. It was draining for all of us though.

      The other large factor was the clear difference in the way they treated “the children in the Jones’s family” and “Jane’s children.” Basically, my brother and I weren’t exactly welcome into their world. Not that that was much of a lose to us. But it caused a large rift between them and my mother… and later between them and my step-dad once he realised the extent of it.

      1. blackcat*

        My mom can’t stand my dad’s family. She actively hates my bio-grandad (to be fair, he’s kind of an ass who has a problem with women. By all accounts, he was REALLY an ass in my grandparents’ divorce, which was when my mom came into the picture.) is not super fond of my grandmother, but did adore my step-grandad (grandma’s husband) until he recently passed. Overall, my mom gets super drained being with my dad’s family, even the members of it who she likes.

        A lot of it is a personality difference, my dad’s family is HUGE and LOUD. My mom is quiet and introverted. My brother is like my mom, and I’m more like my dad. What I appreciate is that my parents found ways for both me and my brother to spend time with family she wasn’t fond of without her (sometimes, without my dad, too). Basically, it was a huge deal to me that I was allowed to have an independent relationship with my dad’s family, and my mom didn’t make that a thing. I’m extremely close with several of my aunts and cousins–close enough to know that they are not particularly hurt by my mom keeping her distance. They know their personalities don’t mix well, and that’s okay. This is easier because they are all reasonably self-aware people.

        So my parents have done fine with 40 years of my mom disliking my dad’s family. My brother and I have done fine with it–my brother even has a close relationship with bio-grandad (because he’s the son of a son, he got attention from bio-granddad. Unlike the rest of us girls…)

        It can be fine. Tell your husband visit his family without you (my dad visits his family 3-4 times per year. My mom… once every 2-5 years) and let any future grandkids* visit without you, too, since it sounds like the in-laws are just not your cup of tea, rather than toxic.

        *If you want them. If not, one less thing to worry about!

    8. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      My husband and I were just discussing this last night. We spent the evening with our son’s future mother and father-in-law and future FIL’s parents and enjoyed relaxing, pleasant conversation. There were no passive-aggressive comments from them or between them. No manipulative behaviors. Well, you understand…nothing that we are both used to with our own families.
      We have managed our circumstances by limiting contact with our family and are thrilled for our son to know that he and his bride will not have to do this. We have long ago decided that we will try to be more emotionally generous and stable for our children.
      You are most definitely not alone and there is some terrific advice above–hope this gives you some hope!

  32. Natalie*

    I’m apparently chatty this afternoon.

    So I’ve been watching Friends since it went on Netflix. I only ever caught it in syndication before and I guess I wasn’t paying very close attention – is it just me, or is Ross the absolute worst relationship-wise? He’s what they’d call a Darth Vader boyfriend on Captain Awkward.

    1. Jillociraptor*

      Hating on Ross is one of my favorite things about Friends, to be honest. He is just an all-around kind of terrible person.

    2. manomanon*

      I’ve been doing the same thing, though I never saw it in syndication. (I live under a rock) Ross is the worst in every possible category!!! But yes he’s particularly awful in relationships

    3. ZSD*

      I’ve watched all of season 3 since Jan. 1 and am now on season 4.
      (Spoilers for season 4)
      So Chandler ends up having to actually fly to Yemen…and then it’s never mentioned again? At least, I’ve watched the two or three episodes after that, and none of the Friends are teasing him about that at all. How is this possible? They tease each other about their histories all the time, but none of them thinks it’s worth bringing up that Chandler spent $2100 on a plane ticket (or maybe double that, if $2100 was the one-way price) to avoid telling Janice he didn’t want to date her?

      1. AdminAnon*

        I’m currently on season 5 and have been wondering the same thing. It struck me as especially odd, since they haven’t abandoned any other story lines so far…

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      You know, he bothers me WAY more now than he did 10-15 years ago. He used to make me kind of eye-rolly, and sometimes Rachel doesn’t seem like such a prize, either, but yeah, way less patience for his idiocy this time around.

      I don’t know which # season(s) it is, but my absolute favorite stretch of this show was Monica and Chandler hooking up through getting married. Everybody finding out, their engagement and their wedding are probably my top three favorite episodes of the whole series.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, I love their secret relationship!

        Rachel certainly isn’t the best, but nothing approaches Ross’s insane freak out about her work friend. Control freak city.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          OMG, I love Monica/Chandler. Love them.

          I *cried* during the engagement ep. Then I watched it the next day. And cried again.

          They are so sweet together. I love them.

        2. Nervous Accountant*

          I’m curious, why? I loved how they were in the beginning, until a few eps after the wedding. After that….I didn’t hate them but the charm was gone (except for the babymaking episodes).

          1. Elkay*

            It just never rang true for me, it seemed like desperate writers wanting to couple everyone off (see also Joey/Rachel).

          2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            Actually, I like that too, when the charm wore off because — married. It’s pretty much like that. They loved each other, they were good to each other, but they also got on each other’s nerves in a way that they didn’t during the Exciting Romance. They felt “real” to me.

      2. manomanon*

        Yeah I love Monica and Chandler… they are mostly adorable during the whole hooking up/getting together thing.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Yes! I am so annoyed that at the end of the series they get together because the last several seasons of the show convinced me that they do not belong together. Sorry writers, you killed it for me = too late now.

    6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      Ha ha. I just finished all 238 episodes. (Obsessive personality? Me? No!) I had a wonderful, wonderful time with it. The series was on when my children were very small and I was spending more time watching Lion King for the 9000th time than watching grown up shows, so many of the seasons were brand new to me this go round.

      Ross. Is. Awful. Hate him! I’m like GO TO PARIS. GO NOW. RUN! at the end.

      Love Chandler, Love Phoebe. Was surprised at how much I loved Joey. Thought Rachel could do wayyyyyyyyy better for herself in life (and was surprised at how much I was rooting for her). Monica was hysterical.

      Generally, the show is not overrated. The energy between that cast was lightening in a bottle and consistent for 238 episodes with rarely a lag.

      Also, it mostly holds up. They remastered it so it’s all in HD and doesn’t look old. A couple of things are socially painful now – Monica’s fat suits, and the LGBT attitudes. The latter shows how far we’ve come because at the time, Friends was ground breakingly LGBT friendly. Now the lesbian jokes are painful to my ears and way out of tune and Kathleen Turner as Chandler’s dad would not be done.

      Overall though, too much fun. I was sorry when I was out of eps!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I haven’t watched Friends for years, but I remember an episode which ended with Joey and Phoebe in Central Perk discussing an alternative ending. It concludes with Phoebe saying of Ross “Well we had words, and I ended up killing him.”

    7. Nervous Accountant*

      I started watching Friends during its original run in around season 5 or 6, when I began HS, so I was old enough to understand the jokes but not really the relationships and stuff. I started rewatching it this past summer and boy it felt weird watching it….I’m older than the characters at the start of the series (29 vs 24-25) but it felt like they were so much older! At first I enjoyed watching the fashions and how they interacted without cell phones/texting and maybe because I’m addicted to this site, wondering if the work scenarios actually happened back then and if they’d be realistic (going from a being a waitress to an exec in a few short seasons? amazing!)…LOL.

      I can see why people hate Ross….at first I thought he was amazing as a boyfriend and treated Rachel really well during her pregnancy but the way he handled things when Rachel started her new job was horrible. And speaking of Rachel….I think I found a new respect for her. Ross summed it up when she was freaking out over being a mom. Overall, I thought he could be realy sweet but boy was he a jealous control freak, esp w Marc/Mark.

      I felt there were some subtly misogynistic tones, esp w Joey…..it turned me off that he was outraged his date didn’t remember sleeping with him, even though he didn’t remember either, but the emphasis was on HER for having slept with so many guys she doesn’t remember him. And did anyone else find it a little bit racist? with the Indian jokes and accents. “ITS A REAL NAME!” (erm….no one living in NYC would ever dispute Vikram is a real name…..what planet are you from?)

      1. Emme*

        I second the age thing- I’m 28 and I was shocked to start the series to see that the characters were only supposed to be 24/25 (!!!). They looked so much older!

    8. Cath in Canada*

      LOL, I was just talking to some fellow scientists about this. We were moaning about how in the X-Files we finally got a strong female lead who was a scientist, but the show was set up such that she was almost always wrong – and in Friends we got a character who just happened to be a scientist*, and he SUCKED.

      *This almost never happens – if there’s a scientist in a movie or TV show it’s usually because they’re either endangering or saving the world in a way that’s crucial to the main plot – so it’s a big deal to us when it’s treated like a normal career choice :D

      1. Natalie*

        Or they’re all 25 and somehow have 8 doctoral degrees and look like models, a la all police procedurals. Bones in particular.

    9. NewDoc*

      Ross is my least favorite Friend, for sure. I’ve been watching them with my significant other (who’s never seen it before) and it’s so fun though we’re still at the very beginning. I laughed harder at The One with the Blackout than I have at anything on TV in a very very long time…that ATM vestibule! Priceless!

  33. Anon Because Obvs*

    Curious to see what this fairly intellectual community thinks about this. In the past couple months, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not really into reading books. I had a friend a few years ago who said something similar, that he just doesn’t like to read, and I thought he sounded so dumb. But now, I hardly ever read, and when I think about it, there’s just not that much that I’m interested in reading in terms of books, at least not enough for it to displace something else in my life.

    I started reading early in life and used to love it, but now I’m actually thinking about just basically giving up on the whole idea! There’s so much good stuff to do, everyone has to make trade-offs, right? I still love learning about stuff, and love reading articles online. I even write from time to time (just started a novella series, actually). I guess I’m hoping for validation that not reading doesn’t make me an intellectually bad person?

    1. Natalie*

      I don’t think so. I was a huge reader from childhood through college, and then I just kind of fell away from it. Like you I read a lot of article online. (Do you know longform.org? It’s awesome.) And I deeply love television in an intellectual way, which is an oxymoron to certain snobby people.

      The only kind of non-reader that comes across as dumb to me is the anti-reader, the sort of person who thinks reading is universally dumb/boring/pretentious. But that could be said for anyone who’s anti-whatever form of art or entertainment.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      People have different learning styles. Some are more aural, they need to hear the information, some need to actually see it instead of reading about it. I still love reading, but my book reading has dropped off sharply in the last few years for some reason. I’m reading more blogs and online news sites, and yes, watching more TV, and I feel like I’m not necessarily missing anything, I just am not the same person I was in my childhood or my 20s.

    3. HannahS*

      I think it’s important to remember that reading articles counts as reading! There’s much more to reading than fiction, and much more to intellectual engagement than thinking about fiction.

      One thing though: as a time-strapped person I find that I really like non-fiction that’s divided into short, free-standing chapters. Then if I have a few minutes, I read a few pages, learn something, put it down, and there’s no need to read more until the next I time I drink four cups of tea. I mean, if you like reading articles you might like that. But like I said, I don’t think it’s necessary. It sounds like you engage intellectually with educational programs and newspapers–that’s nothing to sneeze at.

      1. en pointe*

        This. Also, you read AAM, right? That counts too, as well as the articles. I don’t think you don’t have to read fiction novels to be a reader and enjoy engaging your mind.

        Personally, I can’t remember the last time I read a novel, only because I’m mildly obsessed with the news. There’s enough news across 196 countries to read 24 hours a day, which I obviously can’t do, so all the reading time that I do have goes there, plus AAM and Elle. I’m a big reader too, just not fiction.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      I have always considered myself a die-hard reader, and I still love the opportunity to lose myself for a few days in a good book, but therein lies the rub – I have so much less free time, that my standards for what makes a “good book” have gone way, way, WAY up. So I read a lot less than I used to.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Same. I much rather read a blog post or watch a 30 minute or hour long television show, because that’s what I have time for. Good books really require more time than that to get into them and I value my time too much to read less-good (even if they aren’t actually BAD) books. My exception is the latest Mercedes Lackey Valdemar books. They’ve been painful (compared to, say, the Mage Storm trilogy or the Arrows of the Queen books) but I’m so invested in that world that I will still buy and read them.

      2. cuppa*

        This is exactly how I feel about reading. My tastes have changed and my ability to commit my time has gone way down.

    5. C Average*

      It’s interesting you bring this up. I definitely have some thoughts about this.

      First the disclaimer. I am an avid, avid reader. Have been since I learned to read at three. I find being without reading material absolute torture, and I would rather read a book I enjoy than do almost anything else.

      That said, it’s always seemed weird to me that books are considered so much worthier a source of entertainment than other media and other activities. I mean, yeah, reading Plato is probably more edifying than binge-watching “Say Yes To The Dress.” But if you look at what most people read versus what most people watch, I’m not at all convinced that reading is an overall better thing to do than consuming other kinds of media or doing other things altogether that don’t involve consuming media at all.

      I think if you are an overall curious person who learns new things and pays attention to the world around you, not reading books definitely doesn’t make you intellectually inferior to someone who plows through lots of books.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Some of the sharpest thinkers I know have not read a book in decades. They do read articles, follow the news and talk at length with a wide variety of people.

      I used to read books all the time. Now if I do one a month that is a lot. I just don’t have the time and I just don’t sit down that much. I do maintain a book list though!

    7. nep*

      Validation here. You are not an intellectually bad person. (An intellectually bad person wouldn’t ask this question, I reckon.)
      I have found that when I’ve gotten away from reading for a bit (which happens occasionally), I forget a bit about the joy of reading till I pick up a book I like. The pleasure is just immense, and it makes everything better somehow. And it helps in writing. Completely get what you’re saying about wanting to spend the time on other things.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t read as much as I’d like to because I’m so busy either writing or always doing research for something. But I absolutely believe that reading a lot makes you a better writer. I’ve been a reader since I first learned in first grade. When I was seven, I was reading at the level of an eighteen-year-old; besides kids’ books, I read Readers Digest, the Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Kipling, various classic and popular books my parents had, the back of the cereal box at breakfast–I’d read anything. I had special permission to check books out of the adult library. Which is funny, because I enjoy reading kids’ and young adult books now even more than I did then!
      I couldn’t not read. I just couldn’t.

    9. catsAreCool*

      I love to read, but I tend to read cozy mysteries and humor books, so they might not count as intellectual.

    10. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I’ve been a huge reader for a good chunk of my life. I was literally the geeky child who walked to school reading a book. Notmakingitup. My idea of a good vacation was to go to the shore with the family, never hit the beach, and spend the week reading through 10 to 12 books.

      I don’t read books anymore. Maybe it’s a phase or maybe that the way it is from now on, but I’m okay with it. I figure I’ve read more than a normal quota for a lifetime, and it’s not what I’m oriented to atm.

      I read a lot, but shorter things, and online and not fiction.

      (Ironically, I’m a book collector, although not actively atm. Mostly children’s books and my prize is a first/first of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.)

    11. Jazzy Red*

      You’re not a bad person at all! I love to read (it’s the only reason I wanted to go to first grade), and I read all the time. But there were periods in my life when I barely read at all. It’s no big deal.

      Eat when you’re hungry, sleep when you’re tired, and read when you feel like it!

      1. Dang*

        +1. I used to be s huge reader, but I joke that being an English major killed that for mel. More likely that life and other priorities got in,y way. I go through spurts where I read a lot and others where I can’t remember the last book I’ve read.

    12. V. Meadowsweet*

      but you still read, it’s just you’re reading online! I’d venture that a lot of what you’re reading online 15 years ago you would have read in a magazine or a book.

    13. HR Manager*

      I’m a nerdy girl, but I don’t find myself reading nearly as much as I used to. I do blame some on the “too many screens” phenomenon that is eating away at my attention span. I on occasion still find myself just plowing through a book that I’ve gotten into, but the problem is finding the book that will pull me in quickly and more often than not, I don’t find them these days. I’ve also found my attention being shifted to different books.

      I don’t really care if people find me intellectual or not, but I can still get into theoretical debates with the best of them so I guess that keeps my nerdy image afloat.

  34. Sail On, Sailor*

    Just wanted to give an update about my post from back on the 1st weekend in January. It was asking for people’s feedback about switching to a knapsack-style purse because of neck and shoulder problems. I did end up making the switch and I feel it’s been helping after only a few weeks. Thanks to everyone who responded! Especially Editor who pointed me in the direction of the Levenger website. I really appreciate the suggestions you all shared.

    I’m going to post the link to what I ended up purchasing in a reply to this comment.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Glad you found something that works! That looks like a great bag. I should probably do more thinking about what I bring with me – I always tend to bring way too much stuff “just in case.”

    2. Artemesia*

      I took a different approach that you might also consider when I found a shoulder purse causing me similar back and neck problems. I stopped using a purse. Not always of course, but most of the time. It turns out I was hauling tons of stuff around all the time that I rarely used. So now when dressed casually in black jeans, turtle and jacket, I have my necessities in pockets. I get jackets that have hidden inner pockets or if polartek casual, zipped side pockets. I can put basic emergency meds in the watch pocket of my jeans, my phone in the right pocket, a couple of tissues and a lipstick or gloss in my left pocket. I have a tiny wallet, card carrier that goes in a jacket inner pocket. I also have a couple of very small purses that I can wear cross body for evening that hold the minimal necessities (If I have a big purse, then I fill it up).

      Even traveling I don’t use a purse around town. When I need to lug a larger camera (my smallest camera will go in a jacket pocket) or need water bottles or sweaters or whatever on a day trip then I carry a messenger bag, or a day pack and my husband and I trade carrying it so only one has to lug it at any one time.

      My daughter has been a minimalist with purses for years. Now that she is a mother, she uses one more often, but for years she would manage with wallet in pocket and lipstick in another pocket.

      There are lots of places that manufacture travel garments designed with hidden pockets that help e.g. those travel shirts with the zipped pocket behind a front pocket, jackets with inner zipped pockets, even pockets in the inside top of pants or skirts. Scottevest, Magellan, Travelsmith all have things that work.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        When I went to NYC I rocked a black faux leather wristlet. It had my essential cards, a place for my (pretty sizable, but not Note sized) phone, and just enough space to stash my lip balm and my lip color of the day if I was wearing any. I looked nice enough to take to nicer restaurants and shows but not so nice it felt out of place at breakfast. Holding it in my hand was a good precaution against pick pockets, but the small strap meant I could go hands free if I needed. It was also small enough to go into my husband’s coat pocket if we needed to. Now I just use it was my wallet so for a quick errand without the kid I just grab it from my purse and go. So much easier.

  35. en pointe*

    Do people here still see / keep in contact with their friends from high school? I only graduated two years ago, but it seems like I’m less and less close to mine as time goes on. I still see most of them, but always at clubs or parties, which get pretty wild and aren’t that conducive to good conversation. That’s been our socialising since we were 15, but we used to have school hours to talk as well. Now that we don’t, we never really hang out in a relaxed way anymore, so I don’t feel that close to them.

    I know this is probably normal, but it seems so weird/sad that people who were pretty much my whole life two years ago are now barely in it. Does anybody here still talk to their high school friends? If you wouldn’t mind sharing, I would also love to know your age or age range and at what point you drifted away from them (if you did).

    1. S*

      I’ve drifted away from many of them (geographically and otherwise) but there are friends that I made the effort to keep in touch with, and it’s been great. I’m even serving as the maid of honor for one of my best friends from high school, and it’s been almost 5 years since graduation.

    2. GOG11*

      I drifted away from most high school friends (who, really, had been friends since early grade school), but I see one every month or so and the other I see about once a year (on her birthday). I am 25 and I drifted apart from my other friends pretty quickly, but I wasn’t that close to them by the end of high school anyways.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      I don’t really think there’s a normal as far as keeping in touch with high school friends goes.

      I’ve seen the full gamut. Some adults’ primary friends are still their high school friends. Some adults have a select few high school friends they keep in touch with. Some adults have, either deliberately or through normal life changes, completely lost touch with all their high school friends.

      I have a bunch of high school friends I’m still in touch with but not close to (but close enough to that, if I’m in their cities, I will ask to meet up). My spouse has lost touch with almost all of her high school friends, but she has one that she’s very close with and sees every week.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      I still see and talk to a lot of my high school friends, and I graduated 10 years ago. We had a pretty tight-knit and well-defined group of friends in high school and most of us (about 10 people) still get together when we’re all home for the holidays. 5 of these friends came to my wedding even though they all had to travel, and two of the women are coming to visit me for a “girls weekend” in June. But, my husband on the other hand only ever sees two of his best friends and his other best friend from high school has totally fallen off the map (as in, we’ve been together for 7 years and I’ve never met him). And I know plenty of people who have moved on and don’t see anyone from high school.

      It can be hard to realize that things have changed, but don’t feel like you need to keep being friends with these people if it’s not enjoyable anymore. You could keep in occasional contact, and perhaps in the future you’ll become closer again. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a young adult, it’s that you never know when someone will reappear in your life. Some people I barely knew in college moved to the same city I’m in, and now they’re some of my best friends.

    5. Natalie*

      I’m 30, and I’ve fallen away from a lot of my close high school friends but have remained close with 1 and casual friends with maybe a half dozen others. The latter is really only because we all live in the same city – if I had moved permanently I would probably just have kept up with them via Facebook.

      This is totally normal, which I appreciate doesn’t necessarily make it less sad. You change *a lot* between 18 and roughly 25, so it kind of stands to reason that you won’t all change in exactly the same way.

    6. Stephanie*

      I’m 28 and have been out of high school for a little over 10 years.

      I do! I’d guess about a half dozen I keep in touch with. Two I’m still very close to and chat with frequently and we discuss the mundane, the exciting, and everything in between. The others, I’ll chat with every once in a while and meet up if we’re in the others’ city.

      I will say, I did drift away from my closest high school friend. Like we were inseparable back in high school and chatted regularly throughout college. I think we started drifted apart once my family moved away from our hometown and we couldn’t meet up during winter breaks or summers. After we graduated college, she did spend a Thanksgiving with me (we were in the same area of the country). I would guess we really started to drift apart when she was in law school and I was at FirstJob (so around age 22). We both changed a lot in that period, so I think that was part of it.

      It does happen and it’s ok. Like someone else said, people change a lot between the ages of 18-25.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Just on Facebook; only one of them lives where I live, and we had a falling-out a few years ago. We are since okay now, but we really don’t have as much in common anymore, so we don’t really hang out.

    8. beckythetechie*

      Nope. I’ve got 2 as Facebook friends, and hear about the daughters of a friend of my mother who I spent time with as a kid but didn’t really stay friends with past grade school. I’m in more contact with people from college, but even that’s relegated to liking a random Facebook post now and then and a few IMs back and forth for birthdays.

      I think having that “Babysitters Club” or “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” kind of group past your early to mid-twenties is rather rare, though I know it does still happen occasionally. I’m 33 and have moved +300 miles from where I grew up, in addition to going to college half a state away from where I grew up, so I’m certain the distance plays a role in that lack of continuation. But, tbh, I had next to nothing in common with most of the people I knew then, and I didn’t really care to keep in touch with any of them after high school anyway. There was just no point. One high school friend tried desperately to keep contact (even breaking a couple of probations to do it) but that was less because she wanted to be part of my life and more because she needed me to keep *her* going, and it became more of a burden than a friendship.

      But the thing is, there’s no limit on the friendships you can make in a life. Look at the neighbors from Texas (I think?) who were 80+ years old and 4; the little boy apparently kept the old man going and the old man had a lot of stuff to teach a willing student. I have friends now who are a decade or more older than I am, and some a decade younger, all different backgrounds, races, religions… we don’t know where life is going to land us when we’re twenty-something, and as scary as it can be, it’s usually pretty darn awesome too. :)

    9. Oh Anon*

      The high school friends that I was really good friends with, I keep in contact with via text, phone calls, email, and facebook and have seen several of them when I’ve gone back home for a rare visit. (I moved 1500+ miles away from home after graduating high school).

    10. Melissa*

      I graduated from high school almost 11 years ago, and no, I do not keep in close contact with the vast majority of my friends from high school – even the ones I was really close to (I went to high school with a big group of us who had been friends since seventh grade, and some of them went even further back than that). I do keep in touch with some of them via Facebook just to see what’s going on, but I haven’t actually talked to or hung out with anyone from high school in years.

      I do have some friends from HS, though, that I can see maintain close contact with a handful of their close friends from high school.

    11. matcha123*

      I still talk to some through facebook. Most of us went to the same elementary, middle and high schools AND the same university. But, of those people, there were only a few that I’d want to stay in contact with.

      Do you feel weird because you want to talk to them or you feel like you should be talking to them?
      I remember being in a line at my old middle school waiting to vote and saw two girls who went to the same schools as me (elementary to university), not one of them acknowledged each other nor me. It was so weird and off-putting. And none of us had any fights in school or anything like that. I expected at least a “long time, no see.”

    12. Dang*

      I’m 30 and I inly keep in touch with one. A few years after high school I kept in touch with a few but college, life, and all of that got in the way. I’d be happy to see most of them and catch up but have no illusions about being friends like we were in high school. We are all so different now.

    13. cuppa*

      I’m 13 years out of high school and I don’t keep in touch with any of my friends from high school. Many of my group of friends do keep in touch, but me ending a relationship and the fallout from that kind of kept me apart from everyone else. I did keep in touch with one good friend for a while, but we met up in person about two years ago and realized we were now two really different people who didn’t really have anything in common anymore, and that relationship has pretty much done a slow-fade.
      I do have a few friends from college, and many friends from graduate school. I think it just depends on where your life takes you, and it’s definitely ok to just not stay in touch anymore.

    14. Brandy*

      I’m 30 and have been out of HS for 12+ years. I stay in touch with a core group of friends from high school – many of them all live in the same city (different from my hometown) and see each other regularly. This is the same small group my high school/college (ex) boyfriend is a part of, and we stay in touch, too. Two of my friends from this group are in my city, so we make a point of seeing each other every few months, usually as part of larger parties/bbqs etc. most of my friends are married and some (inc me) with kids, so we don’t get together weekly or anything.

      1. Brandy*

        I should add that my husband only really stays in touch with 1 person from high school and it is largely because their parents are very close friends.

    15. Sunflower*

      I’m 26 and keep in touch with a couple peopl from HS. Oddly enough, the people I am close with now that I went to HS with, I was not close with during HS. I’m very close with 2 girls I was friends with in HS but we weren’t as close as we are now. I still get drinks with 4 or 5 other ones. The rest of my friends I never see and I’m okay with that. I Think I’ve read that people change friend groups every 7 years or something like that? That’s been my experience some what.

      We drifted after the end of my freshman year of college. I wasn’t very confident in high school and I really came out of my shell in college and a lot of things changed for me. I realized some my friends were kind of idiots and the girls I’m still close with came to kind of the same realization so maybe that’s why we stayed close

      It really depends on your Area. I grew up in the Philly suburbs and moved into the city but a lot of people stayed in the burbs. So I’m pretty good friends now with people I was not friends with in HS because they live in the city also.

    16. AdminAnon*

      I drifted away from the vast majority of mine when I started college. It was completely intentional on my part, though–I moved out of state and didn’t know a single person at my university when I started, so I wanted to have a fresh start. As I moved through college, I kept in touch with a few of my closest friends and saw them when I came home for holidays and summers. Senior year, I reconnected with a group of high school friends who all went to a state school together and I ended up traveling to visit them quite a bit that year. Since graduation, I’ve kept in touch on and off with maybe 10-15 of my high school friends, mostly through social media and weddings. There was one girl who I was exceptionally close with (we live about 2 hours apart and would get together every month or so), but she started a pretty serious long distance relationship last summer and I haven’t seen her since. Oh, and I’m 26.

  36. StillHealing*

    I’d like to hear peoples experiences with filing for Dissolution (Divorce) vs Legal Separation. Though our son is legally an adult he still has two years of college left. We are both dependent on my soon to be ex for everything. Medical insurance is a biggie since I am still recovering from illness and need regular care. I’m doing everything I can to find permanent employment with benefits. Since I haven’t worked for so long (new temp job is going quite well though), it may take me awhile.

    I’m doing household cleaning and cleansing to help me release STBX and our relationship. I have good moments and horribly painful moments but all-in-all making my way through without becoming depressed. So that’s good progress on my part. Concentrating more on helping my son who is showing signs of increased struggling. Going to set up a doctor appointment for him soon to start a plan of care for this time. He let me know that the stress of everything is really starting to get to him, this morning, after a nearly sleepless night on his part. Damn my STBX, for causing us so much pain while he’s blissed out in Affair Fog. But that’s all I’ve really got to say about him. I know where MY priorities lie.

    Also, should I serve him with the papers before he flies out to see the Other Woman (for the first time in over three decades) or should I wait until he returns?

    1. GOG11*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I am freshly dissolutioned (isn’t that such a fitting term?) as of mid-December of this past year (2014).

      I don’t think our situations are very similar, but, regardless, I can’t recommend seeing a good/trustworthy lawyer to help you figure out your options. I filed pro se, but a local lawyer offered a dissolution audit service that was tremendously helpful.

        1. GOG11*

          Loads better. We were only married for just over two years by the time we got divorced and I started finding out about other women nine months into our marriage. We didn’t have nearly as much history as you probably do with your soon to be ex, so that of course made it easier. We didn’t have children and we made similar amounts of money, so that made it less difficult to disentangle ourselves. There were aspects that didn’t go smoothly (or as smoothly as I’d hoped), but it was still worth it to me.

          Whatever path you choose, I hope it is the right one for you. Even uncontentious splits can be really hard, so please do take care of yourself and allow others to, as well. Having the support of a few close friends and family members was really helpful.

          1. StillHealing*

            Thank you. Yes, lots of supportive people in my life. I feel lucky. Yet, it doesn’t take away the sting of his affair.

            1. GOG11*

              I struggled a lot at first with feeling inadequate (which may or may not be something you feel), but then I realized that whatever issue he was dealing with in our marriage (or in himself, since, in his case, this was something he’d always done), the coping mechanism/distraction/whatever he chose was his choice. There may have been problems that you both played a part in or maybe not, but regardless, he made a choice – and he could have chosen to take up golf or work on cars or start drinking – but that is squarely on him. I wish I’d realized that sooner.

              1. StillHealing*

                I move through different emotions daily. It is becoming more and more clear to me where the issues are…as far as whose are whose issues. It’s definitely a PROCESS. I used to have a “Doormat” “Scapegoat” default but worked really hard to rid myself of that pathology. I think, HE thinks, he can force me back into that role and that he should be able to have his cake and eat it too, that I’ll just roll over and let him take serious advantage of my kindness and that he won’t have to support me in any way. He is currently so lost in the Affair Fog that he is “unreachable”.

                My gut tells me that whether abruptly or in slow-mo, he will surely crash at some point. I don’t think I want to be anywhere near him when that happens.

          2. StillHealing*

            Glad you are doing so much better. I’ve been with STBX for nearly half my life so it’s really difficult to detach and get my brain out of “family” mode. In some ways, it is – and will be- easier with just me and my son to concern myself with.

    2. Dang*

      Ugh, serve him now. That’s ,my gut reaction when people are acting sleazy. I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

      1. StillHealing*

        Thank you. Yes, this holding pattern he has me in is excruciatingly painful. Chump Lady had a recent post about us Chumps being “Plan B” if things don’t work out with The Other Woman. STBX has hinted towards that frequently. No. Just. No. I will not let him screw with my heart and mind in that way.

        1. Observer*

          The only reason I would wait till he gets off the plane and to her house is to keep him from playing games. Serve him today, and he might start claiming that he “didn’t really mean it” and “wasn’t really planning” blah blah blah. Once he actually GOES all that goes out the window.

      2. Windchime*

        Yeah, serve him whenever it is most convenient to you and your son. Don’t worry about whether or not it’s before or after his trip; just serve him when it suits you and your time table.

        Hang in there. You are probably in the toughest part of this whole thing right now. It does get better as you slowly start to take control of your life again.

    3. Observer*

      The one thing that you can probably get is insurance coverage for your son, even though he’s a legal adult.

      Lots of luck in dealing with all of this garbage.

      1. StillHealing*

        Yes. Definitely have son’s medical insurance covered by STBX until age 26 or til he gets his own job with insurance.

    4. Agile Phalanges*

      I’m late to the game on this post, but wanted to add to the existing comments that thanks to “Obamacare,” insurance is no longer as strictly tied to employment as it used to be. Look into getting a plan on the exchange (hopefully one with similar benefits as the one you’re on with his employer), and negotiate spousal support and child support with the extra expense in mind. I definitely recommend at least consulting with a lawyer, even if it’s just one or two visits to make sure you’re asking for a reasonable amount and not giving up more than you should in your agreement. You don’t want to leave too much on the table, and it can be good to get a reality check from a third party.

  37. Shell*

    Grumpy rant at the universe:

    If your darling toddler runs out of a shared bathroom at top speed without shoes on, expect a little surprise from the person approaching the bathroom while she tries to avoid a) crashing into your child and b) being headbutted by said running child. Snarking about how unfriendly I am only makes me want to snark back about your untrained wildbeast (I didn’t, because I was too distracted about actually going to the damn bathroom).

    Also, office towers aren’t the greatest places to have shrieking five-year-olds. I don’t know how your coworkers get anything done considering I can hear your daughter down the hall through two sets of doors. And from past experience, this is a regular occurrence.

    Good grief.

    1. GOG11*

      I tend to be rather grumpy when it comes to small children (I’m just not a fan, and I own that)….but this would annoy me, too. It’s totally understandable for a child to run around like an energetic, wild eyed little guy, but for little person’s parent to accuse you of being rude for not being delighted is, well, pretty rude. It’s not like you did anything to harm the child (which would warrant more than snark).

      1. Shell*

        I am adamantly not a kid person, but I didn’t say anything to the kid (and wasn’t going to); she was like five. Kids don’t know any better. (The adult should, but that’s another matter.)

        But I think having a kid charge out of the bathroom warrants some surprise, right? Maybe my raised eyebrows seemed threatening…yeesh.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Many years ago, when I used to waitress once in a while I would get demon child in my area. Having no kids myself and having been raised by fairly strict parents only added to my misery. What I landed on was saying very loudly, “Oh honey, be careful, you could get hurt.”
          If the parents were upset by that, too bad, that knife/water glass/cup of coffee is not a toy. My attitude toward that has softened over the years and now I lean toward “it takes a village”. But I still use the technique when necessary. It’s amazing how many situations that one sentence fits.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I like that too–it makes you sound concerned rather than irritated, and it gets the parents’ attention if they have become distracted.

            I remember once at California Deli Job (that sounds like a great band name–copyright!) I ended up chasing a toddler out into the parking lot because he tore right on out there when Mummy and her friend were looking the other way. I scooped him up before he got flattened and carried him back. She freaked out and fell over herself thanking me, at least–not a jerk mom. Just a normal moment of inattention, but thank God I noticed. Those little legs move pretty fast!

          2. Liane*

            Miss Manners has long advocated “Be careful, dear, you”l get hurt” as the proper response. She even wrote that it helps to have an expression or a firm grip (only to help them down from Dangerous Perch of course) that suggests to even a kid how they might get hurt.
            I also find it very helpful.

        2. matcha123*

          Five is old enough to know better. I remember when I was five and running around was not something that was tolerated by my mom. Heck, running around at two, three and four were not tolerated, either. (Aside from playgrounds and gymnasiums and places made for running.)

    2. Artemesia*

      Yikes. I don’t have a problem in some office settings with having an older child occasionally there doing there homework in a corner or whatever, but there is pretty much no time a 5 year old or younger child should be in an office. It is not possible to supervise a toddler or pre-schooler and be productive and as you note, it isn’t making other people feel productive either.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m a parent and I think those “parents” are lazy jerks. You are not a member of their family or their paid employee, it’s not your job to look after their child…except that, by not caring what kind of danger their kid gets into, they’re making it your problem. >:|

    4. Dang*

      Heh, the other day at Walmart (this is how all good stories start, isn’t it?) there was some kid racing down the aisles with a shopping cart, mother nowhere in sight. He ended up alamming into an elderly woman’s cart at an intersection, very narrowly missing her. She went ape and started yelling “where is your mother!!” When the mother appears, the older lady says “you really need to be watching her, she almost plowed me right over.” And the moms retort? “He’s a he, not a she.” Oh snap?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hopefully, mom had a little tighter control when they walked out to the parking lot. But I am guessing, maybe not.

  38. GOG11*

    Today, I went to the zoo for my birthday. I wanted to go to the science center, but opted for the zoo instead as my immune system is compromised and not being able to get hands-on is much less fun. I wound up getting stuck in small enclosed areas (buses, exhibit rooms) with heavily perfumed individuals. I’ve been struggling with an asthma flare up for the past two months, and needless to say, it made for a pretty miserable trip. I got home, took a breathing treatment, and then roommate’s brother (who smokes…my other serious allergy/trigger) and all the resting/breathing treatment progress was undone.

    I just feel so overwhelmed and stuck. If you can’t even breathe, how can you do anything else?

    :(

    1. Mimmy*

      If your roommate’s brother is going to be a regular visitor, he needs to be made aware that his smoking is a major asthma trigger for you. Did your roommate even tell him?

      1. GOG11*

        Yes, he did – and roommate’s brother wasn’t smoking in the house. But he’d been smoking and the odor was on his clothes and that’s enough to cause serious problems at this time. Roommate said that he would have invited him (his brother) in to sit down and visit for a bit, but cigarette smoke is dangerous for me right now. He wasn’t expecting him and my roommate is actually very, very good and supportive about my limitations and I honestly doubt this will happen again.

        I didn’t intend to make it seem as though I was ranting against anyone. It was just one unfortunate circumstance after another and I feel like I not only can’t get ahead of this thing, but I keep falling further behind due to everyday occurrences.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I don’t have asthma, but I am very allergic to cigarette smoke and sensitive to perfume. People who smoke don’t realize that the smoke is still in their clothes, hair and skin for hours afterward. It makes it challenging to be around other people sometimes.

          I’m glad your roommate is so good about your breathing problems. That’s got to be a big help.

          1. GOG11*

            No, not at all! I’ve had exercise-induced asthma for years and it’s always been very well managed. The past six months has been the first time I’ve had trouble with allergy-induced symptoms and I’ve had some trouble navigating what reasonable assertions of my right to clean air look like…it’s hard to tell if I’m being reasonable or not and when people respond like you do it makes me feel empowered and like it IS my right to be able to breathe. It feels like I’m allergic to the world now and I’m the one who has changed, not the world, so I struggle with feeling like I’m the one who needs to change (and I can’t).

            So I really do appreciate responses like yours and Elizabeth West’s.

            1. Windchime*

              My asthma symptoms seem to come and go. Sometimes perfume and smoke are simply annoying; other times, they cause immediate chest tightening and coughing. During the holidays, I couldn’t even walk through the front entrance of department stores because of the gauntlet of perfume-spraying salespeople in the cosmetic area.

        2. INTP*

          Could your roommate talk to his brother about the situation and the need to change clothes and shower between his most recent cigarette and coming over for a visit? If someone is a chain smoker even that might not help, but it will for most.

          I have major respiratory problems too so I know how uncomfortable it can feel to stand up for your needs. It doesn’t help that many people regard smoking as a basic right (I’ll respect it as your own personal business when you keep it to your own personal air). I actually just make sacrifices to live alone. Easier than explaining to a roommate that she can’t have a friend or boyfriend who smokes outside as a frequent visitor, can’t throw a party and allow people to smoke outside and come back in, can’t use scented febreeze no matter how bad the bathroom smells, etc.

          1. GOG11*

            Yes, we have already discussed future arrangements for visits, so I think that aspect is covered.

            I’m sorry you have these issues, too. They’re so frustrating to have. Have you been able to find any good resources (websites, book, etc.)? I have been trying to do research to find out how to handle various potential landmines (like Febreeze in the bathroom…happened at work recently and triggered an attack), but I haven’t found much. At this point, I just feel like becoming a shut in because I’m at a loss for how to navigate X situation and Y issue…there are just so many all of a sudden and when one seems resolved, two more problems pop up. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you cope with it all?

            1. INTP*

              I just try to control my environment as much as possible – no roommates, I’m spending a lot more money than otherwise to live in a building that didn’t smell like smoke inside.

              A quick tip is to wear a scarf. It certainly doesn’t filter everything out, but pulling a scarf up over my nose helps me to reduce the effects of smoke and perfume. I always do this when I pass smokers on the street or have to sit near someone who smells of smoke or perfume on pubic transport. And in general, don’t be afraid to be rude, if you’re not at work. Don’t be afraid to get up and move to a new seat on the bus or in class if someone who is going to make you sick sits down next to you. Maybe it seems rude, but it’s well-known that people don’t like the smell of heavy perfumes or smoke, so people who choose to go in public smelling like that can’t expect others to suffer for their feelings imo. Would you carry around a can of open tuna or stop showering and wearing deodorant and expect people to act like you smell good? Probably not.

              I also have learned the hard way to research smoking culture before I move somewhere. I moved to WI for grad school and people smoke EVERYWHERE. I can’t enjoy all the outdoor activities during the 3 months of tolerable weather because restaurant patios, outdoor concerts, etc allow smoking. This is totally not the norm in California, where it hardly limited me. I was shocked to see people just walking down the sidewalk, smoking, with no one giving them death glares or asking them to quit! (I did go to an outdoor concert back in 2007, when smoking still happened at them, and puked all over the place.) I’m not willing to live in a place with such backwards smoking laws long-term, so in the future when I leave CA I’ll investigate before moving anywhere.

              The one tough spot is work because being perceived as “judgmental” doesn’t work well for you. Right now all I have to deal with is one smoker who reeks when he comes back from his breaks and gives me a headache, I try to just pull my scarf up over my nose when I see him come in. Previously I’ve dealt with heavy perfume and just had to tolerate it. I had a boss who would accuse me of being sick when I started sneezing and having a runny nose and red eyes in meetings, and I had no idea how to tell her I was just allergic to her. In perfumey bathrooms, I just pull my shirt up over my nose and try to get some fresh air after I finish. My respiratory issues aren’t life-threatening like asthma, I will just feel ill or have to breathe through my mouth after exposure and get a lot of infections with consistent exposure.

              1. GOG11*

                Thank you so much for this! There is very little on the internet about this sort of thing. For many, allergies and asthma are triggered by not-people-centered things, so dealing with individual, man-made triggers isn’t addressed.

                I try the scarf, but I still get tight chest, coughing/wheezing and I end up needing to take my inhaler. I have seen masks that filter out particles as small as smoke and perfume and I may just break down and buy one.

                I appreciate your addressing the “rude” aspect of it. My first instinct is to be courteous, but I simply can’t afford to be sometimes. Not everyone will understand such reactions, but it’s good to know that there are those who view getting up and moving, for example, as totally acceptable and necessary.

                My workplace has agreed to move me to a different department if I continue to have problems, but that would involve essentially starting a new job when I’m at my sickest. More and more, I’m thinking I’m going to have to switch positions at work.

                You said you don’t have asthma, but you are clearly strongly affected by these things. Have you looked into the ADA? You live in California…I would think that the rules about workplace accommodations may be even stricture than what the federal laws are. Do you think you could talk to your employer? I was very reluctant to do so myself, but they have been working with me pretty well so far so I don’t regret doing so.

              2. GOG11*

                OH! Also, I have a coworker who was smoking right outside the door about once an hour for the time he was in the office (so maybe 4 cigarette breaks over 4 hours). I sit in the lobby and the smoke was coming back in with him. He tends to be very surly and has reacted negatively to reasonable requests in the past, but I went ahead and addressed it with him. My manager recommended I use “I” statements, which actually really helped. So I said, “so-and-so, this winter my asthma is really bad and my doctor and I have identified cigarette smoke as being very dangerous for me. Sometimes, smoke comes back in when the door’s opened. Is there a way you could smoke that would prevent it from coming into the building?”

                He not only moved so he wouldn’t bother me in that way, he offered up a suggestion for placing the air cleaner in the office so optimize its efficiency. I was very surprised with how well he took it and that he was thinking of other things that could help after the fact.

                I’ve asked about this in a couple of open threads over the past few months and people had some good tips about how to reduce the smell of smoke ON someone’s clothes/hair. Could you say that you’re having an extreme reaction to the smoke smell and if it’s possible for your coworker to wear a jacket out when he/she smokes that he/she leaves in an area that isn’t near you? Others have said this helps contain the smell A LOT. You could even use the approach I did and ask them if there’s a way they could smoke that doesn’t bring the smell back in with them, and then see what they would like to do. You know your coworkers best (obviously), but I was NOT expecting surly coworker’s reaction AT ALL, so maybe you’d be surprised, too.

  39. The Other Dawn*

    I’m fostering a new kitty with the intent to adopt. I picked her up today. Her name is Princess Leia and she’s a petite orange tabby who’s not very ladylike. :) I’ve gotten to know her over the last two years while volunteering for the rescue that took her in. She’s got a bit of a food obsession and needs a little help with grooming sometimes, but she’s so sweet.

    She’s hiding under the twin beds upstairs, but she’ll be OK. She’s used to being in a foster room with many cats so she probably feels lonely. Plus, it’s a new environment. I’ve got the radio playing for her. We got her a new scratching post, litter box of her own, and some new toys. She’ll be segregated for a few days and then I’ll gradually introduce her to the rest of my clan (I have 11 cats).

    1. GOG11*

      She sounds like a lucky kitty, and cute to boot! I hope the transition into this new environment and her integration into the new clan go smoothly for you :)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks. She’s currently rocking out to Motley Crüe. The local classic rock station is the only one that comes in on the little portable radio.

        I’m happy to be fostering. Not only do I help a kitty that’s been passed over for adoption, but it will help take my mind off my nightmare tenant. Desperately need a distraction.

        1. GOG11*

          Oh, I had read that post, as well, but didn’t pay close enough attention to the name. I’m sorry you’re dealing with the tenant (who is a friend and should doubly know better!), but I think kittens/kitties are one of the best distractions ever, and I’m glad it’s helping you.

    2. beckythetechie*

      11?! Holy cow and I thought my 4 keep us busy! If it were up to my husband we would have All the Kitties, but some things need to stabilize first, like getting the youngest to stop pouncing my Other Half in the middle of the night. :)

      1. beckythetechie*

        Congratulations on the new furchild! (Sorry, I had help from a cat, fittingly, and posted early.)

          1. GOG11*

            I learned what the f keys at the top of the keyboard do because of my cats’ delightful typing skills.

    3. Computer Guy Eli*

      Eleven?!?!?!?!

      Holy cow bro! Do you have enough laptop keyboards for them to sit on?

      That’s rad!

    4. The Other Dawn*

      Thanks, everyone. She’s quite scared right now. She keeps hiding in the little condo in the cat tree, but that’s to be expected. She’s comfortable with us – she even let me rub her belly this morning – but afraid of the new environment. I got her to eat a few pieces of dry food, but that’s it. It will take time and patience.

  40. Computer Guy Eli*

    Ready for a pity party?

    So I’ve been providing for my parents for about eight months now. Long story short, due to a stupid, stupid -stupid STUPID mistake on my fathers’ part he went from 120k dollars a year to retirement with nothing held back. He feels really bad and makes it a point to tell me how much he appreciates me helping. None of my sisters will, but that’s beside the point. I’m actually happy things are playing out the way they are. If it weren’t for this slip-up, I’d still be in college hating life to get a degree that doesn’t play to my interests… But I digress.

    The problem is, my mother is bedridden with late stage pulminary fibrosis, and my dad is disabled with a myriad of things, but most notably neuropathy resulting in him not being able to walk/stand for long periods of time. This results in dad expending most of his effort keeping mom happy and the rest resting. I work twelve hour shifts at security and I’m starting to get frustrated at the situation.

    The way I see it is that there’s no way my dad can be hurting so bad that he can’t throw some laundry in the washing machine or some food on the stove. I don’t believe my mother is as sick as she says she is. That sounds really bad if you take it out of context, but if you knew the lady you’d almost think she does things on purpose to ‘hurt’ herself so she doesn’t have to do work, and due to her illness doesn’t seem to understand that we can’t spend frivolously. This results in me using my 25k a year wages to pay for an adult on a 120k lifestyle expectancy, and two adults who understand the situation.

    So needless to say, I’m frustrated at the situation. We’ve applied for disability, but Montana has the lowest approval rate in the US for disability claims and even then it’ll take forever to get approved. I’d get another job, but I’m in the process of switching jobs right now so I don’t want to get a second one until I’m sure my hours. I could whine on and on about this, but what I want to know is…

    How do you guys deal with being constantly angry at someone you love? Complicating it even more, how do you tell your parents that they’re doing things wrong? If someone you know is doing what they believe is best, but it isn’t, how do you try to fix that?

    1. Colette*

      I think the key thing here is to set limits for what you can do and stick to them. That might be “I can contribute $X per month” or “I can do my own laundry but not yours”, but if you try to do everything, you will burn out and get more resentful. (Added bonus: if you define things like laundry as their problem, then it doesn’t matter if they do it differently than you think they should.)

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        The problem there is, they are completely helpless. They have no source of income. I -have- to give them everything, and if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. That results in me not being able to function.

        1. TL -*

          Then let things not get done, unfortunately.

          There’s only so much you can do and if it’s important to them, they’ll find a way to function. If it’s not important to them, why should it be your priority?

          It sounds harsh, but you can’t fix other people, no matter how hard you try. Set boundaries.

          1. GOG11*

            This is a good point. If you never don’t do it, you’ll never find who else will step up to the plate. It could be other family, social service organizations, church members, your parents developing some self-reliance, etc. Do what you can/will, but it’s okay if you can’t do everything. Also, Captain Awkward has some good stuff on this – it might be worth checking out.

        2. Observer*

          Still setting limits makes sense. Also, Social security and medicare must be options here. Sure, it’s not going to be close to what they have had, but still it’s something. (and so is welfare + SANP – not something you want to do, but if that’s what you need to do, then that’s what you do.)

          Also, look around and see what supportive services exist, whether government programs or private sector.

    2. Artemesia*

      What a heartbreaker — and this will break you if you continue to shoulder it alone. Any way you can sit down with your siblings and talk about what is to be done? Any chance the house could be sold to free up some money with a move to a more modest place which would make it clear that the lifestyle can’t continue?

      When changes in behavior have to occur, it helps to change the physical cues/context. Moving to a small condo from a roomy house would help. And being more firm about how the household will run when in the new space might help. You can’t afford household help — this means meals need to be prepared, clothes need to be laundered, cleaning needs to be done. Sit down and find out how they think this should happen. What has to be done to make it possible for them to each pull their weight. Perhaps you need to do the vacuuming but no reason they can’t do the tasks mentioned. So how do you change the diet, kitchen set up, etc to make it possible for your mother to get dinner on? What kind of a laundry schedule would fit your father’s energy level etc.

      People will take as much as you will give. If you know that they don’t need every minute of the rest of your life, then you are the one who will have to draw the boundaries and be firm.

      Sorry you are so alone in this and hope you can engage your siblings to help. Even if they could come and do a particular task once a week or could help run some errands like driving the parents to appointments it might make it easier on you.

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        Thanks. I’ll have to try something along those lines. Issue being, my mother basically has the thought power of a twelve year old. “If Eli can have that (one dollar) pop from the store, why can’t you buy me a (10 dollar) gallon of ice cream?”

        And I don’t speak to my siblings anymore. The last conversation we had was something along the lines of getting them to help, and they seemed to all believe that mom and dad were sucking me dry and that I needed to ditch them to live my own life. I can’t say I don’t sometimes agree with that, but the fact that they were willing to say that to me in person made me angry.

        Thank you still!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          There may be some merit to what they are saying, not trying to be mean here. I have been that one kid that stayed an helped. I ended up in the hospital before I would admit I was in over my head.

          I can totally get being angry about the sibs and their attitude. But, also, be aware that does impact you, because if you get in too deep with your folks, your sibs may not help you, either. Just something to be aware of, as you plan out how you want to handle this and how much involvement you will give it.

        2. catsAreCool*

          It sounds like your siblings care more about you than about the parents, and from what I’ve read so far, that’s understandable.

    3. Stephanie*

      Is there any extra money to hire an aide? Even for one or two days a week? This could take some of the pressure off you. I’m sorry you’re going through this. :(

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        My checks are about 700 dollars, my house payment is 666 a month, consider about 500$ a month for their prescriptions, doctor’s visits, electricity, food, my student loan, my car payment, etc etc. I’m kinda strapped.

        Don’t feel bad though! I’m still as hype as always! :D

        1. Stephanie*

          No worries. I think you are going to have to cut them off. Not cold turkey, but perhaps wean them off by being frank (and firm) about your own finances and what you can support and how you’ll move ahead going forward.

          Thing is, your siblings have a point. This is the financial version of putting on your own oxygen mask before assisting others. It’s going to be hard for you to help them down the line if you can’t help yourself. At some point, you’re going to need that money for yourself.

          Could you talk to your city/county/state about different resources while you’re waiting to hear back about disability? If you’re religious (and involved with a church), could you reach out for help? Or try the food bank for some assistance?

          1. Computer Guy Eli*

            I’ve exhausted all possible avenues of extra income short of going to the food bank. Thing is, if I were to even remotely put any kind of inkling out that said “The _____ Family is struggling because of X Y and Z” I would get showered with more wealth and assistance than I knew what to do with, and I don’t want to do that. I’d rather starve than get charity from other people.

            1. C Average*

              Can I ask why?

              I grew up with parents who gave generously (even when we didn’t have a lot ourselves), and it was a great source of pleasure to them. Giving continues to be important to me. I generally give to causes I like to support, but sometimes I have an opportunity to help a down-on-his-luck friend, and I’m always happy when I can. I think part of this instinct comes from growing up in a small town in Idaho, where if your barn burns down your neighbors help you build a new one.

              Recently my extended family (my stepkids and their mom) lost everything in a house fire, and the kindness of friends and strangers was overwhelming and humbling. We’d never been in a position to need charity, and it was awkward accepting it at first. But people want to give, they want to help, and they’re gratified by a sincere thank-you and a promise to pay it forward.

              You’re giving all you have to your parents. Why wouldn’t you let someone who has plenty to spare give some to you?

              I’m not saying you should broadcast that you’re needy. But if someone were to find out and extend you an offer of help, you’d be doing them a mitzvah to accept gratefully.

              1. Computer Guy Eli*

                Charity is given for one of two reasons; Kindness, or being Supercilious. The town has already had an air of snootiness, and if we were to ask for help, we’d get it alright, but I’d bet an arm and a leg that it would be so they could get a sense of superiority.

                Plus, it’s embarrassing.

                1. TL -*

                  …I would maybe think about at what level your pride is going to stop outweighing your ability to function as a healthy, happy adult. Try to accept help before you get to that point, if you can?

                2. Stephanie*

                  Yes, seconding TL’s comment. You’ve mentioned wanting to move out your small town into a bigger city with more opportunities. It’s admirable that you’re helping out your folks, but allow yourself to be a bit selfish and work on your own goals. Also, if you’re able to save more or take on a more demanding job, this can lead to better jobs where you will be able to help more financially.

                3. catsAreCool*

                  If they give out of a sense of superiority, you probably don’t need to feel as much like you owe them, right? What’s going on sounds completely unmanageable, and I’m impressed that you’ve been able to deal with it so long.

                4. Student*

                  My parents took the same stance you did. We were pretty poor – less money than you’re making per year, family of four.

                  I wish they had taken the charity. I went to bed hungry so many nights, to satisfy their pride.

                5. Observer*

                  So? If your parents are really as disabled and unreasonable as they seem to be, you have no real choices.

                  Also, it’s one thing to make such choices for yourself. But, it’s really not fair to do this to your parents. Yes, a lot of this is due to to their own actions, but still. You are in over your head – you don’t have the resources to continue to take care of the basics, really. And that doesn’t even touch what happens when you need to move on because this is just too impossible.

                  Ultimately, it’s better for them (and you) to set things up so that they are not so totally dependent on your inadequate resources. Even if the price is the superciliousness of the givers.

            2. Stephanie*

              Yeah, I get the desire to not want to feel like a charity case. It can be a huge hit to your pride, especially if you’ve always been a relatively independent person.

              I struggle with this. I was out of town a couple of weekends ago and a couple were like “I’ve your [drinks/food/admission] covered. Don’t worry about it.” And yeah, I wanted to cover my own share even though my budget would have provided for a Bud Light when a friend was offering to buy an oatmeal stout.

              If it makes you feel better, you’ve paid into disability or state agencies with your taxes, so you’re collecting on things you’ve financed (to some extent). Thing is, what you’re doing now isn’t particularly sustainable and will lead to resentment (and ruin what sounds like a good relationship with your dad) and won’t help your mom get any better.

              1. Computer Guy Eli*

                Shoot, I feel fine taking from the government. I’ll just spend my food stamps (That feels like such a curse word to me…) a town over so that no one knows.

                1. Stephanie*

                  It’s not. And feel free to call it EBT if that makes you feel better. :) And I think the cards are way more discrete now.

                  Think of it this way–you take the benefits now and you can pay back your share (and then some) when you’re able to get in a better financial position (because you’re not supporting your folks entirely anymore).

                2. Liane*

                  Did not find a link under Stephanie’s comment just below–but what she said. Call them EBT cards, even to yourself. And they are more discrete. Where I work, you don’t even have to tell the cashier what it is–it pops up as Card. Also the old & new designs, in my state at least, have similar colors or pictures to several local bank ATM cards. So to know that’s what it is, people would have to be way closer than they should be to someone entering a PIN or something.

                  Also, not only will you put into the system in future, your parents–at least your dad–did so in the past.

            3. asteramella*

              It’s not charity for you, to put it bluntly. It’s for your parents and grandparent, who you cannot support indefinitely. Put away your pride and let the community help them so that you can sustain yourself.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Oh my heart goes out to you.

      Please be very careful about getting your finances mixed with theirs. The outcomes can be a disaster. That’s not what you ask so I will move on.

      If you are constantly angry at someone you love that is because you are giving to much and you are losing entire parts of yourself.
      The way to deal is to examine what you are doing and why you are doing it. What are your goals? How long do you want to do this? How long can you do this? If those two answers do not match up go back to “what are your goals given your givens?”

      You don’t tell your parents they are doing things wrong. Instead what you do is start talking to them about getting help. Tell them that they cannot do it alone and you cannot work two jobs (or even one job) AND still be home helping them. You are not bi-locational.

      If someone you know is doing what they think is best and you know it is not, there are a few things you can do. I always say that I have to look at myself and remind me that people feel that way about ME, too. The next thing is to just accept you may not be able to fix it. The sad fact is we suffer the consequences of our poor choices right up to the day we die. We cannot prevent people from seeing their own consequences. (We, too, will also meet our own consequences.) You may be able to get a handle on small things here and there – tell yourself that is what success looks like.

      I see the part about not believing your parents are as bad off as they are saying. And this could be true. The problem is, at some point, this stuff DOES actually become real. Call it self-fulfilling prophecy or whatever, but people who exaggerate end up having even more problems. I have watched this for too long. My suggestion to you is that, even though you are not so sure about their difficulties, take it as a warning sign of things to come. Insist that they build a plan to meet their current needs.
      What does this look like? “Dad, they have senior housing where someone will help you with the laundry and taking care of mom. I think you need to start considering alternatives like this.” He will probably sputter, so you tell him, “I am doing the most I can do right now. If I try to take on more, I will end up in the hospital myself and you and mom will be on your own. Which will bring you right back to needing to make some changes, that is what I want us to talk about now.”

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        Sad thing is, that’s probably what it’s coming to.

        Thing is, I’d be happy living with my dad all my life. Shoot, if I had my way we’d sell the house, put mom in assisted living, and go on the adventures of Dad and Eli. That’s where I’m stuck. I want to give the world and back to my dad, but he’s stuck with mom. The woman that is married to my dad has not for a long time been my mother. She constantly abuses him both mentally and physically, drains my funds, and is generally just dead weight. I don’t want to leave my dad to deal with that alone.

        My general thoughts boil down to this. I’m fine abandoning my mom (‘Cause I’m an asshole.), but I don’t want to leave my dad by himself in this terrible relationship.

        1. C Average*

          This is interesting.

          (I’ve read your whole tale–and what a tale it is!–but didn’t chime in because I had nothing useful to contribute.)

          I took a Wilderness First Responder course a number of years back, and my favorite thing I learned in that course was that you should never do anything that would create a second victim: that is, you should never try to rescue someone else if it’s likely to put you at significant risk to do so.

          Is there any way you CAN find an assisted living situation for your mom and rescue both yourself and your dad? By trying to rescue your mother, you’re creating two additional victims–and you’re not effectively rescuing her. If guilt wasn’t a factor, would it be doable for you to put her in assisted living and bring yourself and your father some relief and even joy?

          1. Computer Guy Eli*

            Oh god yes. If we didn’t feel so bad that she’s as sick as she is, we’d tapdance all the way to the house, clear it out, sell all our extra stuff, throw away what we don’t need, and be on top of our finances.

            Problem being, is that she would have -NONE- of it. The moment we try to get mom into assisted living is the moment she calls up my sisters and cries about how mean my dad is, and how he steals her pills, and how he’s trying to get her killed, and this that and the other thing. Let me just say that would ruin my comfort in this town.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Please talk this over with her doctor- tell him about the lying and the crying and the general behavior. These are symptoms, please don’t skate by this stuff. It’s symptoms.

              If she has not had a scan of her brain, she should. I am no doctor but I have personal experience and human service experience that has taught me.

              1. beckythetechie*

                ^Seconding. It could be a bad reaction to a medication, it could be depression compounding her other issues. But her medical personnel need to know this too.

            2. TL -*

              It sounds like your sisters have already exited the situation, though, so would they really get involved if your mother called her?

              The other thing is, for whatever reason, your dad is making an adult, informed choice to be with your mom. I get that there are lots and lots of extenuating circumstances, but at the end of the day, it’s completely and fully his choice, and he has to deal with the consequences of that, not you.

              I’m really sorry you’re dealing with this, though. It sounds awful.

            3. Colette*

              Call your sisters first. “We are moving mom to assisted living so she can get the care she needs. She’s not happy about it.” And if she manages to turn the town against you, leave. (I doubt that will happen, though.)

            4. Observer*

              I would actually doubt that your sisters would buy into this. After all, they already told you that your parents are sucking you dry. They clearly have her number.

              Why not call them and tell them “You know, I realized that you have a good point. Mom really is sick, but there is no way to keep her at home with what we have. Mom doesn’t want to do this, but would you help us get the house sold and Mom into a decent nursing home or assisted living facility? If you can’t do that, can you at least commit to not enabling Mom’s troublemaking when I do this?”

              They might not help you, but they might very well be happy to back you in a more passive way, as their reputations could be on the line as well.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sounds very similar to a story I can tell.

          Remember, he is glued to her, that probably will not change. It looks like she is going to pull him down and he is going to allow that.
          My one hope here is that if he sees you drawing your boundary lines, maybe he will eventually decide to do the same.

          My father had heart surgery, etc before he came to the conclusion my mother had to be in a nursing home. It took him a bit longer to decide that it might be okay to go every other day to visit her rather than every day. No amount of discussing this was going to make him change, he had to arrive at this decision on his own.

          Your father has to know that he has done his utmost for her. And until he reaches that place he will continue as you see him doing now. We may not understand why our parents are so committed to each other but in an odd way that commitment is admirable.

          When my husband took sick, I did my own share of hair-curling stuff. My aunts were beside themselves to find out I was putting HIS medical bills on MY charge card. Oh boy, were they upset. As the story played out, it was a non-issue. but we did not know that until much later.
          We all have our own definition of what love looks like. And we live our lives by that definition. Your dad is living his definition of love.

          My mother passed and my father lived another ten years. I eventually did get some quality time with him. What I mean by this is these stories twist and turn, nothing stays the same for long. Even though the experience is probably one of the most painful in life it does keep moving along.

        3. beckythetechie*

          You are not an asshole for wanting to be out from under a burden you didn’t choose for yourself. You’re human, and you value your own sanity. Taking care of yourself is not a bad thing; it’s a survival skill.

        4. Rory*

          Your parents are like my in-laws. Father is basically OK, mother has been deteriorating for years in every way. Inertia was just carrying them along. Finally, mother had a stroke and father agreed to put her in a nursing home. Best move EVER. She didn’t want to go, but she had no choice. Everyone is much happier now.

        5. Observer*

          Do not let EITHER of your parents touch your funds. You keep your money in a separate bank account that they cannot touch. You buy what you can, and if your mother pitches a fit that’s too bad.

          A side benefit of this is that it makes it easier to get whatever government benefits they might be eligible for, as you don’t have to deal with the appearance of what seems to be higher than actual assets / income.

    5. beckythetechie*

      Hi Eli. We’ve talked before, so I’m going to be a little more familiar than I otherwise might. I hope that doesn’t come across as offensive; it’s coming from a point of sympathy and fellow-feeling on my part. (My father’s blind from a stroke but so far the prostate cancer is in remission. My mother’s mentally ill and has heart problems. She’s never worked since my father always made good money, but now he’s retired and that $40,00/year isn’t stretching like it used to. This sounds painfully familiar.)

      Eli, you have to decide what you’re willing to take, and what you won’t. If you can’t put a foot down somewhere, the anger and frustration will take over, and that can get harmful. (The day I nearly pulled a gun on my mother was the day I knew I had to move.) Will her helplessness and whining be acceptable if you default on your student loans? (Btw, since you work for a school now, you might see about getting the payments forgiven, or at the least reduced or temporarily held, given the complications you’re facing at the moment.) Will it be okay if they blame you for losing the house when they can’t make their payments any more?

      Because, here’s the thing– look at my wording there– “her helplessness,” “their house payments.” In those sentences, I’m putting the responsibility where it’s *supposed* to be. You’re 20-ish iirc from other conversations. Unless your dad is willing to sign the house over to you and let you pay that $666/mo to build your credit and equity (which might not be a bad idea if you can spare the $), *they* are the ones responsible for all of those bills. You’re too early in your life and career to have this whole burden yourself. So, to be blunt in as loving a way as I can, you’re going to have to find a way to make this bearable *for you*; they aren’t your primary responsibility, you are, and having your own life is the only way I’ve ever found to keep the anger from taking over completely. It’s hard to accept that when we’re cultured that our parents take care of us for a while, and then eventually we take care of them, but you’re not entirely on your own two feet professionally yet. The wise thing to do is take care of you first, *then* help your dad as much as you can. And look into what I suggested about taking over the house. Real estate is a good investment over all, and you’ll have a major contribution to show them as part of forcing them to get their act together. You can pitch it to your dad as a controlled way to help out that will reduce costs to you while still being a tangible thing to show your mother when she starts trying to spend indiscriminately. “I’m doing this so you have a place to live; I can’t take care of all of us on my salary, so this is the best way I found to help. I’m sorry but that’s all I can do.”

      You and your dad can both sign up for a budget/bills tracker like Mint to make a household budget and stick to it. If $50/week for groceries includes a pint of Chunky Monkey for mom, great. If not, she’ll have to choose between the ice cream and the expensive lunch meat week to week, like a lot of other grown ups do.

      Then, bust out the chore chart. I’m serious. Make a schedule for all the things that need done and post it right up on the fridge so they can see what you’re actually doing. Maybe something like a wheeled cart would help your father with the laundry. If you don’t have a dish washer, table top/portable ones are about $100 and can run overnight. But physically showing your father what you’ve really got on your plate may be a more passive visual way to get him to reorganize himself that will keep you from having to have too many uncomfortable talks about household duties and responsibilities with the person who taught you what it means to be responsible and take care of your family. (Tres awkward, I know.)

      Email me if you need to vent. (Alison, it’s totally cool to give him my address if he wants it.)

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        Thank you. I really appreciate your input. I’m 19, my mom and dad are 60 and 65 respectively(Respectfully? Whichever one means I said them in the same order)

        I’m just going to take the reigns of this horse. It’s been made pretty clear that I need to. It kinda sucks that I have to be the adult in the situation, but it seems to me that there’s no other way. Next time there’s a yelling match between dad and mom about ice cream I’ll be sure to be candid with what we have to spend.

        Thanks brodette.

        1. Stephanie*

          Wait, is your dad collecting Social Security (just regular SS, not SSDI)? Is he Medicare eligible? Either of those could help ease your burden. If not, bringing those up could be a good way to get the conversation started.

          1. Computer Guy Eli*

            I know we talked to the social security office to get whatever help he could, so I’m not sure.

            1. Observer*

              Check what you are getting – and if possible talk to someone whose specialty is helping folks get assistance. The people at the SS office are not always that helpful. But, there is no doubt that at 65 your father should be eligible for regular social security (unless he was working at his $120 a year job “off the books”, which is unlikely) and straight medicare. Given the income and medical issues, they should also be eligible for Medicare Part D and Medicaid. But, MAKE SURE YOUR FINANCES ARE TOTALLY SEPARATE! I can’t emphasize this enough.

        2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          Honestly, Eli, at 19, I’d tell you to get the hell out of dodge.

          This is NOT your burden to carry.

          I left home at 18 for (reasons) and left my mother behind when a whole buncha people thought that was a selfish thing to do. They weren’t living in my house and, hello, I was *18*. I had to get out to survive. I came back at 25 to do end of life with her.

          We don’t all get the parents we should have, but you are young enough to need a parent and if your parents can’t be your parents….be your own parent. You need care. Take care of yourself.

          1. Rebecca*

            Agreed. I didn’t know Eli was only 19, so his parents are what, in their 40’s or 50’s? I thought when reading the thread they were much older. I was thinking of seeing if someone could contact their version of “office of the aging” as it’s called here in PA. They were extremely helpful with my mother in law, late 80’s and progressing dementia, but I’m not sure what the age criteria for help actually is.

        3. Rebecca*

          Hi Eli, I’m sorry you’re going through this. I posted below I wasn’t sure of your parent’s ages, but just saw this (sorry, it’s still early here). I live in PA, and went through a lot of issues with my elderly mother in law, dementia, hoarding, you name it. We have a government organization here called “office of the aging”. They have a ton of resources for getting help for just these types of situations, things my in laws could never had navigated on their own. We had a caseworker, someone who came to my MIL’s house, did evaluations, etc. There were tons of forms to fill out, and it took some time, but we were able to get home health aids for so many hours per week to help with cooking, cleaning, bathing, etc.

          I don’t know if your state calls it this, or something else, but I highly recommend calling them and putting things in motion. You cannot do this yourself. You shouldn’t be expected to do this yourself.

          Kudos for you for taking control and putting your foot down. Please, though, reach out for help. There’s more out there than just EBT or cash assistance. Please keep us updated. If there was anything I could do to help you, I would. My heart goes out to you!

        4. Colette*

          Based on these numbers, your parents could easily live another thirty years.

          Will you be able to save for your own retirement? Have a family? Travel? Go back to school?

          How will you feel at 49 if you sacrifice your life to protect your parents from the consequences of their decisions?

    6. matcha123*

      I’m a big believer in just laying everything out: your feelings, what you want to change and how you want to change it. There will probably be a big fight, but I feel like things can improve through a big fight.

      I’ve been through the same thing with my mom and I think that at some point a lot of parents just give up. They feel like they’ve taken care of you and now they want you to take care of them and kind of turn into big kids themselves. Sit them down and have them tell you how they feel and you tell them how you feel. Then ask them what they can do and tell them that you can’t do anything alone. Even small things help, but if you get burned out and lose your job, what will happen then? I think that’s the reality they have to think about, too.

      1. TL -*

        My thinking has always been – my parents chose to have kids, but I didn’t choose to have parents. They are legally mandated to provide me with clothing, shelter, education, ect… until I’m 18, but I don’t owe them anything in return.

        This doesn’t mean I don’t give them anything or that I don’t or wouldn’t help out. But helping out parents is a choice, not an obligation. Whatever love/affection/material things they gave you as a child was part of their decision to parent, not a loan you need to pay back. Do what you want to/can and don’t feel bad about what you can’t.

        1. matcha123*

          My boyfriend’s mom needs to understand that. Apparently she’s asking him to pay her back for everything she’s done for him from high school to the present!

    7. AnonAcademic*

      I have read a number of your posts here and I hope you will take my words in the spirit they are intended: you clearly have bigger ambitions than to be a caregiver to ungrateful, uncooperative parents in a small, rural, racist town. And if you don’t pursue those ambitions now, when you are young and energetic, you risk waking up at 30 or 40 or 50 and realizing you never left, never realized those ambitions, and now it’s seems way too late. In my estimation you need an exit plan that gets you out of your current situation in 1-2 years, max, or it will become so normal that you will have trouble envisioning anything else. I have seen this too many times to count. You seem like a reasonably thoughtful and conscientious person and you really do deserve better than a life of feeling trapped in mediocrity.

    8. Observer*

      I haven’t read all of the responses, so I’m probably overlooking something. But you would do yourself a favor if you changed your outlook. If your mother’s doctor thinks she is as sick as she “claims”, then she probably is. Even drama queens get really, really sick. Also, neuropathy really can cause enough pain that that even basic cooking and laundry can be a problem. Again, unless your father’s doctor tells you otherwise (and possibly even then), you need to accept that this is a real thing even though it sounds so improbable.

      No advice of the rest of this though :( Perhaps a few sessions with a good therapist for you might be useful – to help you set some realistic expectations and techniques for dealing with all of the baggage.

      1. Observer*

        I have since read the rest of the thread. I still stand with this.

        In fact, I think that a therapist is all the more important, since you really need to be, as you put it “the adult in the situation.” It’s not going to be easy, to say the least, and some help from a pro could go a loooong way.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          While I cannot tell you not to go to therapy- sometimes a second voice saying the same things is a good idea- but I can tell you what happened when I went.

          I would tell the therapist the latest developments and she would say, “I want to talk to your parents.” Well, my parents were not going, period, end of that discussion. So in the end all she did was tell me to go out and live my life. (It took a bit for her to reach this conclusion.) I eventually did a few months later. I got a choppy launch for the first year or so but then after that the new normal set in.
          At that point in my life, I did not have anyone telling me to move forward. So from that standpoint the therapy was good. But it did not change my parents (of course) and it did not educate me in terms of how to get help for my parents. Like you, I was about 20 when this stuff unfolded. It’s a time in my life I will never, ever forget.

          FWIW, I believe you about the attention seeking/manipulative behaviors. But I have also come to the conclusion that is part of the illnesses running around inside a person’s body. It seems to be some kind of precursor or harbinger that manifests this way initially. You could go through years of these behaviors. Please tell her doctor what is going on.

          1. Observer*

            I would tell the therapist the latest developments and she would say, “I want to talk to your parents.”

            You sound like you had an incredibly unprofessional therapist. This is highly un-typical (unless you were seeing a family therapist, and even then I’d say, not the norm.)

            Eli, if you DO find a therapist like this, know that this is NOT what you need. Your parents are not going to comet to therapy. And what you need is not help in deciding whether to set some limits and shift the burden appropriately – that’s a no-brainer at this point – but help in figuring out HOW to do this. If you are not getting this, don’t waste time, energy and money. Find someone who WILL give you what you need.

    9. Beezus*

      Hey Eli,

      Your dad is probably eligible for Social Security retirement benefits. Full retirement age for people born in his generation is 66, but he could claim early retirement now if he has the work credits to get social security retirement benefits at all. His benefits would be a bit lower than if he waited until 66 to apply; you should have an honest two-way conversation with him about whether it’s better/possible to delay claiming until his birthday. It doesn’t sound like you can afford to wait much longer. He can apply for Medicare now, if medical insurance is an issue.

      I’m not sure what your mom’s exact diagnosis is, but the Social Security Administration lists Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis on its list of compassionate allowance conditions – that means the approval process for SSDI or SSI for people with that diagnosis is expedited, because the SSA acknowledges that people with that diagnosis automatically meet the bar to qualify for disability benefits. Even if your mom doesn’t have the work history to qualify for SSDI, she may still qualify for SSI, which isn’t based on earnings history.

      On your questions about dealing with it…. I have a sister-in-law with some learned helplessness issues who sounds similar to your mom (the “you’d almost think she does things on purpose to ‘hurt’ herself so she doesn’t have to do work” bit resonated, especially). I have dealt with it, for the most part, by building walls and setting limits. Before I started doing that, she would drain anything I offered. Relationships where one person is making huge sacrifices are difficult to keep balanced under the best circumstances, when people on both sides are aware of what’s going on and trying to keep it equal. When the person on the receiving end is selfish and oblivious, balance is not going to happen – you will wind up angry and resentful, and the relationship itself will die, even if the support continues. You can’t be selfless with someone like that. I know most people are brought up to be selfless when it comes to family, but you can’t when it isn’t a two-way street.

      Figure out what kind of support you can offer without killing yourself and your future. Figure out what you need from them to make it happen, and be clear with them about it. Try to keep emotion out of it as much as possible, and come here to vent if you need to. It’s completely reasonable to ask your dad to do some chores around the house to help keep things together.

    10. Graciosa*

      I am so sorry you’re going through this – it sounds incredibly difficult.

      I think we get angriest at the people who mean the most to us, and knowing that they are making bad choices to worsen the situation does not help.

      Unfortunately, loving someone doesn’t give you magic powers to make their choices for them. All you can manage are your own.

      As horrible as this will sound, I suspect that it will have to get worse before it gets better. You haven’t yet let go of the need to “fix” things for other people in ways that just are not possible. You may not be able to do that until you are so emotionally and physically exhausted that you shut down to protect what’s left of your sanity. Perhaps setting boundaries and limits will be easier for you if you thing of it as enabling yourself to stick it out a little longer instead of punishing yourself for not doing more? Indifference in this type of situation can be an incredible gift – but it usually comes at a terrible price paid in advance.

      When you do set limits – or have to walk away – try to forgive yourself. It is not a failure and you haven’t done anything wrong. You have already done more than anyone could expect. You are a good person now, and you will still be a good person when you acknowledge that you can’t survive being bled dry.

      You know your father loves you; trust him to forgive you for not destroying yourself.

      Your fantasy mother forgives you as well – the one who loves you and cares for you selflessly as your present mother should have and didn’t.

      Try to let go of the guilt and forgive yourself.

  41. Blue_eyes*

    Does anyone else have trouble typing on AAM threads on iPad? When I try to type comments on my iPad (using Chrome, if that matters), the typing appears very slowly like there is a lag between when I type and when the letters appear on the screen. I tried quitting Chrome and restarting my iPad and that didn’t make a difference. I haven’t noticed this issue on any other websites. Anyone else? Suggestions?

    1. Stephanie*

      I have trouble on my iPhone 6 (with iOS 8) using Chrome as well. I also had trouble typing on Safari (with the same exact problem). What was even weirder was that I kept getting “pop-ups” that would direct me to the App Store to download various freemium games by Zynga (I thought they went under?) My iPad is a basically a brick now with the iOS 8 update, so I don’t even bother there.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        It started recently, maybe in the last few weeks? I often use my iPad to read and comment on AAM threads and this didn’t used to happen.

      2. Claire (Scotland)*

        this started happening to me recently too on the iPad. I can’t tell if it is the Chrome update or the site, but it only happens on this site.

    2. Elkay*

      This started for me today on Chrome on Android. That and random crashing. I suspect Chrome is the issue.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Hmm. So it seems like Chrome is the common denominator. Maybe the next Chrome update will solve it.

      1. Natalie*

        Yeah, I’ve had intermittent problems with Chrome and this site and a couple others since the redesign. It seems to be a Chrome issue.

    4. matcha123*

      I use Galaxy Tab and I get the same thing!
      I really don’t know what it is, but I assumed it’s either: the tablet is having a hard time with all of the comments; tablets are not great for replies on websites that aren’t optimized for tablets (ie- reddit has an app that’s used for tablets); the tablet is just effing with me for the lols.

      In my case, it’s been going on since I first tried to use my tablet to reply, which was at least last September or October.

  42. en pointe*

    I would really appreciate some advice on how to act in this situation please! So one of my best friends has been in hospital recently, which she was quite open about and was chatting to me while she was there. I’ve seen her once since she’s been out and asked about her health. She told me she has to have surgery soon, but that she’s going to be fine. She seemed a tiny bit hesitant to tell me that so I didn’t enquire further. I don’t know much about what the operation is; only that she has to have it because of drinking too much. Apparently she’s destroying her liver or something.

    So my question now is, whenever I talk to her (usually texting or on Facebook chat), do I ask after her health or not? It seems rude to pry when she didn’t seem that keen to talk about it, but I don’t want her to think that I don’t care about her if I don’t seem to care about this big thing happening in her life. So far, I haven’t asked and she hasn’t brought it up. I almost asked her last night because it’s been two weeks, but jumping from the argument we were having (whether or not Iggy Azalea’s butt is real) to her surgery obviously just seemed way too unnatural, and I didn’t want to make her feel awkward. Any advice?

    1. Cruciatus*

      So the surgery hasn’t happened yet, right? I think the next time you talk you could just say that you weren’t sure when the surgery was but that you wanted to offer your help in case she needs anything (visits, meals, drives, etc. Whatever you’re willing/able to do.) Then you don’t have to dwell on it; just move on to all the people Iggy Azalea is feuding with. But this way you’re brought it up, offered help, and have left the ball in her court. I wouldn’t worry too much about it being awkward/unnatural to bring up. She’s one of your best friends so surely the relationship could handle 1 potentially weird situation.

    2. Computer Guy Eli*

      Ooooh, I wouldn’t ask. Think of it this way, with something big like that she’ll tell you if she wants you to know. I’d leave it and wait for her to speak up.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      I would follow her lead. Ask her about other parts of her life (read anything good recently? How’s your kitty? etc.) to show that you care and are interested in her. If she wants to share more about her health, she will. You could also bring it up one time and just lay it out there that you want to be there for her if she ever needs to talk about it, but you don’t want to bring it up if she doesn’t want to talk. Her response to that should give you the information you want (about whether or not to bring it up in the future).

      1. catsAreCool*

        “you want to be there for her if she ever needs to talk about it, but you don’t want to bring it up if she doesn’t want to talk.” This!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Just point blank say, “You are my friend and I care about you. But I do not want to overstep here, so I am unsure whether to ask about your surgery/health or to just let you talk if you feel like it and not talk if you don’t.” See what she says.

    5. TL -*

      I’m with NotSoNewReader – just say, hey, we don’t have to talk about this, but I want you to know I’m here for you if you need anything during your surgery.

    6. JMW*

      You can express concern without asking for an update. So when texting or FBing, you can say things like “thinking about you” or “hope you’re feeling okay” or “I’m here if you need anything” or similar. No answer is required from her then, but if she wants to talk, you have created an opening.

  43. little Cindy Lou who*

    So I literally just saw from my balcony a mini cooper park illegally between two on street spaces –both already occupied– in my apartment community. I called our 24/7 concierge desk and was told “there’s nothing I can do since I’m not a street cop”. This seems insane considering it’s our local road. He recommended that I either call the police myself or leave the license plate info on the other car myself. This isn’t an “is it legal?” question. I don’t even have a car myself, I take public transportation to be green, but this enraged me especially since the driver appeared to stumble out of her car and her passenger fled as fast as she could, and there’s a large free parking lot within walking distance of all buildings. My logic in calling the concierge was that surveillance may show definitively what I think I saw/heard and that our community would want to be aware and make it clear this type of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated. What should I do?

    1. little Cindy Lou who*

      Also, to clarify, I heard her hit the car she parked in front of while backing into the non-space. I live 3 stories up so it’s not like I could’ve confronted them, nor should I per our community by-laws (which say to call the concierge if there’s a neighborly dispute)

      1. GOG11*

        I would call the police. They would be responsible for investigating this. If someone hit my car and there was a witness, I’d want them to report it. But I’ve never been in this situation myself, so I don’t know what reporting the accident entails.

        1. Student*

          You just call and give the relevant car license plates. Describe what you saw.

          hey aren’t going to make you do anything. They just take your statement and fill out a police report – which the person who was hit will need to file an insurance claim to get the repair covered. The police will try to contact the drivers involved and will handle the rest.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Can you go over the concierge’s head and talk to someone in your building management about this, since it’s an issue that the concierge won’t address? I would bring up both that someone probably dinged someone else’s car and that the concierge wouldn’t help at all.

      3. the gold digger*

        The only thing I would do is to note the license plate number of the hitting car so I could give it to the person whose car was hit.

        Other than that, this really isn’t your business. No, it isn’t legal, but you are not personally affected by this. You do not have a dog in this fight.

      4. fposte*

        “Hit” as in “dented” or “hit” as in “made contact”? The latter is standard parking stuff and won’t get any authorities exercised even if it happens while illegally parking. Around here, “on street” would mean cops and not private, but if it’s owned by your building, it’s up to them to decide if they’re a place that immediately tows or not, and it looks like they’ve decided they’re not. I’d call the cops and let it go.

  44. Want to stay anon for this*

    I find myself drawn to someone who, on more than one occasion now, makes me feel like crap. I don’t know why. I’ve always been the emotionally needy type from childhood, but in the last several years I’ve made some changes–I’ve stopped wasting time with people who weren’t worth it. For this one? I’m not sure what it is. They initiated the friendship and actually helped me out a couple of times with some big things. I enjoyed the attention a lot and miss it.

    I know this is the free-for-all, and not a therapist session but…idk. Has anyone ever been through this? Being drawn to someone who’s not that great for you?

    1. Computer Guy Eli*

      Boy have I!

      I’m from a small town(He says, for the twelfth time) and there’s not many people around here who share my interests. So yeah, I’ve got more than a couple friends that I’d drop on a dime if I had any other option. That said, it’s that attitude right there that leaves me to believe that I’m not the best one to give advice. All I can say is that you never owe anyone anything ever. It’s real easy to think that just because Phyllis listened to you grieve that one time you are expected to stay friends with her forever, but that ain’t true. That kind of thought pattern is what keeps abused spouses together.

    2. Formerly Bee*

      Oh, yeah, I’ve been there. People who aren’t good for you can also be really engaging or fascinating or something.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      We tend to go with what is familiar, even if the familiar is not good for us. You are very fortunate to realize what is going on. That is half the battle right there.

      1. Want to stay anon for this*

        Its been a few months, I go through this rollercoaster of never wanting to speak to em, or go a week/2 weeks/a month without talking, and a few days later I’ll miss them and we talk for a bit and then they something extremely snarky. It stings but then I get over it and either say something or change the subject.

        I just want to get over this roller coaster. I think it’s more of my own issues than their own. I’ve always had a difficult time with self respect and self esteem and I’m not blaming the person here or anyone else. I’ve tried very hard the last several years to change it and so far so good…but I’m afraid of falling back into old patterns.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          A bad plan is better than no plan. This means that if you do not have something else to fill your time/thoughts, they will cycle back into your time and thoughts.

          I had a similar problem when I decided to quit the bar scene. It was kind of lonely there for a bit, so my temporary plan was to work a second job. Then life changed and new peeps came into my life. Is there a temporary replacement activity you can use in this manner?

          This is hard stuff. The reason I latched onto a second job was it proved an easy, sure-fire quick out. I needed a quick out because of other aspects of my life. Looking back on it, I am not sure if I could have come up with a better idea. You may have to try a couple ideas before you hit on the one that works for you and breaks your cycle.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      I don’t have much personal experience with this situation. Looking at it from the outside, based on what you’ve said, it seems like this person is likely manipulative and possibly even abusive. Abusers (I’m not saying you’ve been abused, but what you’ve written suggests that this person has abusive tendencies) are often very charismatic, that’s part of how they keep people in their orbit.

      Bottom line: Anyone who makes you feel like crap is not someone you need in your life. I don’t have any advice on how to “break the spell” though.

      1. Want to stay anon for this*

        Well….I dunno. I wouldn’t say that they’re being abusive or even manipulative. Our friendship started off well, it was mutual……and things happened, and now it’s a shell of what it used to be. I want to detach myself and stop thinking and missing them so much but EVERYTHING reminds me of them. I guess it just meant A LOT more to me than it did to them and it’s time to admit that and let it go.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I have found the best way to handle such things is the DNC rule – DO NOT CONTACT. Don’t answer the phone, send an email, a text, a pigeon or a flair in the air. The longer you can stay away from someone, the better off you are in terms of getting them out of your system. This is not easy, but it has worked for me in the past. Block the email address, the phone number, etc. Do everything you can to take away their power to be anywhere in your sphere. Again, not saying this is easy because some part of you wants the contact. But you know it isn’t good for you. It’s like an addiction almost. Don’t tempt yourself by hanging around the emotional crack dealer.

        2. catsAreCool*

          It seems to me that it doesn’t matter so much whether this person is toxic as it matters that you’re getting hurt emotionally around this person. This person seems like someone to avoid.

          Missing the person is OK. Maybe the person reminds you of someone you knew as a kid.

          I think you should avoid this person and let yourself grieve over this.

            1. Windchime*

              Yes. This person has repeatedly told you, through his/her actions and deeds who they are. Believe them. Don’t be fooled by the glittery attractive parts.

              Toxic people are seldom 100% toxic. Pretty much everyone has parts of them that are just fine. I guess you just have to decide whether or not you’re willing to keep putting up with the toxic stuff. If you are, then continue as you have been. If not, then stopping yourself from seeing them cold-turkey may be the best route.

        3. Blue_eyes*

          Sorry if I read to much into what you said. It sounds like a hard situation. Are there any concrete steps you can take to remove some of things that remind you of this person? For instance, after I’ve been in bad situations with people I’ve often realized that seeing their posts on Facebook all the time brought up the bad feelings from the relationship. I’ve started unfollowing those people on FB and I’ve found that it really helps my healing process when I’m not seeing their picture/name every day. Not saying you should do exactly that, but maybe you can identify some things that are bringing up the memories and try to remove them from your life for a bit.

    5. cuppa*

      Yes! I could have written this! I don’t have a ton of advice for you, other than, it seems like when I have a lot going on in my life, this person fades back to where they should be, and even if I do think of them, I don’t miss them.
      The other thing that I have noticed is that I tend to miss this person when I feel a need that person can provide. It’s important to find other ways to fulfill these needs so you don’t go back. Hope this helps. I feel for you, anon.

  45. Mimmy*

    Lately, our cat has had “stinky butt” (my husband’s words!)–apparently she’s been farting. I don’t have a sense of smell, thank god, but my husband says it smells terrible. Any ideas what might be causing it? We have not changed her diet recently. If it helps, I think she’ll be 14 in September.

    1. beckythetechie*

      Might be a change in the way her food is made. Could she be getting into something, like a human snack, she hasn’t had access to before? One of our cats is nicknamed “Fart Ninja” because she likes to sleep under my side of the bed, and had terrible gas until we switched to a grain-free food. She’d wake me up with the smell, but I’d blame my husband for it. :) It was a rough couple months. If she hasn’t been to the vet in the last 6 mo. it might be worth a visit just to make sure she’s not having thyroid issues, and see if whatever brand you feed has had a formula change recently. A quick google search should bring that up.

    2. fposte*

      I would give the vet a call as well–that’s an age where systems start to creak a little, and it might indicate a problem or a reason to change food.

    3. HR Manager*

      There’s no way to type this without sound like a juvenile so here it is:

      Does it smell like butt? I wonder if it’s because her anal glands are clogged. Most people don’t really notice whether a cat farts, but if you detect a butt scent when the kitty comes near your face, it could very well be an issue with the anal glands. Normally, the anal glands get expressed when a kitty poops. On occasion, they get clogged and the pooping does nothing, so a vet will need to help express them. But the fluid inside the anal glads essentially smell like a bad butt smell.

  46. Anon Accountant*

    So I was leaving to go to work today and my car wouldn’t start. It had a new starter installed 3 weeks ago. The battery is 2 months old. The starter wouldn’t turn over.

    AAA was called and the tow truck arrived and the guy says I’ll try something first. He gets some tool that looks like a rubber hammer and lightly pounds inside the car. The starter turned over and car started up. Can you believe it? It just needed a good whack to start. I’d panicked thinking how much will this cost now, how to get the cash for repairs, etc. It was unbelievable he fixed it so easily and quickly.

    1. Beezus*

      Lucky! I had a similar experience yesterday. We came home after work to a 62 degree house. The furnace wasn’t coming on. It’s 30 years old, and we could afford to buy a new one, but that money is earmarked for a couple other projects we’re doing this spring, and the furnace is next, and I was really hoping it would hold on for another year. I went down into the basement and opened up the panels and poked at a few things (I know zero about furnaces). There was a button under one of the panels that I accidentally pressed when I put the panel back, and it started to hum. It’s been working perfectly ever since!