weekend free-for-all

Olive selfie

Olive selfie

This 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.

{ 869 comments… read them below }

    1. Persephone Mulberry

      There’s only one team left that I like enough to cheer for. If they get beat tomorrow, I’ll be watching the Super Bowl only for the commercials.

    2. Natalie

      Woot!

      I don’t live in Seattle, but my local team is terrible so I’ve adopted the Seahawks.

      Bf is a Packers fan, so next week will be interesting assuming the packers win tomorrow.

    3. Ann Furthermore

      I’ll be on the edge of my seat for the Broncos game tomorrow. I was SO hoping the Ravens would knock off the Patriots today. In Denver, we have put The Game That We Shall Never Speak Of behind us, for the most part. I’ve been a die-hard Broncos fan for years, but now for me it’s more about seeing Petyon Manning get one more Super Bowl ring before he retires. He’s so talented, plus he really is a class act and just about the nicest guy in the NFL.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      I am not a football fan, but I am from Baltimore. My Facebook feed gave me anxiety last night. Then I watched the tail end of the game with my boyfriend and… whomp whomp.

      1. Editor

        I grew up in dairy country in New York State, which was a leading dairy state long before Wisconsin. Wisconsin cheddar is an upstart. Wisconsin football is considerably more impressive.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      Go, Local Sports team, go! Do the sports good!

      (I have watched enough football to understand everything that goes on, but I rarely watch any games other than the post-season ones, and some years I don’t even watch those. I guess if the Ravens had made it I would have been a little more likely to watch, though.)

  1. Christina

    If someone offered you a free flight anywhere in the world, where would you go?

    I’m so lucky that I have a friend at an airline who said to just let her know where I want to go. I have so many places I want to see I’m having a hard time choosing! Curious to know other people’s dream destinations.

      1. Stars and violets

        Rome for me too, definitely. I’ve already been several times but you can’t have enough of Rome.

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, I like this line of thinking. I’d use the offer to go somewhere that would usually be too expensive from your area otherwise.

        1. Christina

          Ha, yeah, to some degree that’s how I’m approaching it. Hawaii and Japan (and anywhere in Europe) are pretty high on my list!

      2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

        I can confirm we’re pretty awesome, and I can recommend lots of cool stuff to see/do!

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          Yeah, I’d go back to NZ. The challenge isn’t figuring out how to get there, it’s figuring out how to stay.

    1. en pointe

      Home! The Kimberley in Western Australia.

      Aside from that, I would love to see Prague! Everyone I know who’s traveled Europe has said it’s their favourite place.

      1. Dan

        I’m heading off to OZ for a month in March. I looked at going to The Kimberbly, but alas, the weather at that time of year isn’t the best out there. I did consider Perth, but ended up doing the tried and true thing that everybody does — Sydney, Cairns, Alice Springs, and Melbourne.

        1. kle

          If you’re going to Cairns it’s well worth your while to go up to Port Douglas. It’s one of my favourite places in Australia (I live in Melbourne). It’s fabulous to go on a snorkelling day trip out on the Great Barrier Reef (don’t go with Quicksilver, it’s too commercial). It’s an absolutely beautiful place!

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          As amazing and beautiful as Paris is, and I’ve been several times, I am not too sure I’d want to go just now, given what has happened this week re: Charlie Hebdo.

      1. Lizzie

        Zanzibar is beautiful! There are some lovely beaches, and Stone Town is really awesome (and has good food).

    2. Sheep

      I live in the Caribbean right now, and I must say the Caribbean is a good choice… I’d probably go to Myanmar though. Or Bolivia/Ecuador/Peru/Galapagos. Aaaaah, such a hard question!!

      1. AnonyMouse

        I was in Peru recently and it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. Highly recommended.

      2. Layla

        The carribbean is on the other side of the world from where I am (30 hours of flight away ). If I didn’t go there for work I would never have went – so carribbean for me !

      3. Christina

        Where in the Caribbean? Said friend wants to go somewhere warm next month, we were thinking Hawaii our the Caribbean. We pretty much just want to park ourselves on the beach.

    3. Audrey

      Moscow! I really want to see the Metro stations (yep, I’m a train tragic) – and lots of other stuff. And once I was in Russia I would have to go to St Petersburg, preferably by river boat – can you even do that? Must do some research :)

      1. Hummingbird

        I believe that there is a Viking River Cruise for that. I think it goes from SPB to Moscow (or vice versa).

        And the Moscow metro stations are definitely something to see! Very clean, efficient, and spectacular in their decorations.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Viking River Cruise!!! I so want to go on one of those.

          You are correct in that there are cruises that do that trip– don’t know about Viking specifically, but I’m sure they have one. My grandparents did a river cruise that docked in SPB, and I think they went to Moscow as well. Some other ports too.

    4. Cristina in England

      China, because it is so far I would not be able to pay for it myself right now. If I were going somewhere for a short trip, I would go to Berlin or maybe Sweden (in the spring or summer, not now!).

    5. Folklorist

      Iceland! So many good stories from there. I want to be an elf inspector! (And hike the wilderness, and bathe in hot springs.)

      Or…Borneo. (I would actually probably pick this because it’s more expensive than getting to Iceland, which is the first place I want to go.) They not only have great culture and South East Asian food, but they have amazing bugs, wildlife, and rain forests–truly unique things that literally can’t be found anywhere else!

      1. Dan

        Last spring, I spent a week in Borneo as part of a larger Asian trip. I have to be honest, where I was, I didn’t really see a whole lot of the local culture, mostly just the rainforrest (which was heavily geared towards tourists) and an area called Sandakan that has all of the primate rehab facilities.

        I consider myself to be a big foodie, but stayed away from the local stuff when I was there. In Sandakan, lots of that stuff is buffet style, which a Westerner takes a gamble eating. #1 rule of thumb in Asia is that a Westerner should eat food that’s freshly cooked so you know it’s hot and killed the bacteria. Buffet stuff you never know how long it’s been out, and if you eat the wrong thing, you could laid up with a GI bug for a few days.

        All that said, the nature stuff was totally cool. I’ve got a couple of collages on my wall of the 30-some odd bugs and animals that I took pictures of.

      2. Treena Kravm

        Ahh Iceland is soo beautiful! I was there for my honeymoon and it was seriously the best trip ever. We went to the Arctic Circle, snowmobiled on a glacier, hiked alongside waterfalls, it was amazing.

    6. Dan

      Is your friend gong to give you buddy passes or confirmed seats? That’s a huge difference, and you should know that ahead of time. Buddy passes are standby — meaning you only get on the flight if there is space available. If not, you’re stuck. Also, does your friend mean literally anywhere in the world, or anywhere in that her particular airline actually flies? The later is going to narrow down your list of possible choices significantly. If it’s the former, I’m curious how she’s swinging that — when I worked for an airline, if we wanted to fly on another airline, we had to buy something called an ID90, which required you to pay 10% of the full fare (full fare = unrestricted walk up, which is expensive) so you’d still be looking at a few hundred.

      I’ve been lucky that I’ve been able to accumulate what has to be close to 2 million frequentl flyer miles over the last few years. I’ve been to 21 countries so far, mostly in those far away places that I typically wouldn’t go to because the flight is too expensive or too long otherwise. In two months I’m heading off to Australia, and thinking of going to Vietnam and Hong Kong next Xmas/NY. Otherwise, I think that India and South Africa are on the short list.

      For a true “dream” destination, perhaps the Maldives? The international airport is MLE.

      1. Christina

        We’ve worked out the logistics and fine print, and yeah, it’s buddy passes, but the question was more just out of curiosity to see where other people would pick if they were given a “free pass” anywhere in the world :-)

    7. Dan

      Hijacking this thread ever so slightly, I’ve actually been looking at places that are hard to get to, at least requiring somewhat complicated air travel routings to get there. What I’ve come to realize is that DC (and NYC) is extremely well connected by air — pretty much any reasonably sized city in the world can be reached with just one layover. A place requiring two stops tends to be a second tier city that isn’t as high on the tourist trail.

      1. Stars and violets

        I hate to carp but are you sure you aren’t being a little US-centric here? Your comment reads to me like, ‘if it can’t be reached in one hop (even with a layover) from NYC/DC, it isn’t worth seeing’. I happen to live somewhere where, even from within the same country, it might take 2 or 3 flights to get to. People still come from all over the world to visit and tourism is one of our biggest money spinners.

        1. Dan

          Of course I’m being US-Centric, and even east-coast centric. After all, that’s where I live and start my trips from. I suggest you reread my post — so much of the world is connected to these two cities with a one-stop flight. That’s an undeniable fact. It’s kind of amazing when you really dig in and see just what that covers.

          But it’s not US centric to suggest that I’m more likely to visit the one of a few hundred cities across this world that is served within one stop of my home airport before I start trying to visit places that require two stops. After all, my whole point was that a two-stop flight tends to be to a smaller region that isn’t as high on the tourist trail. As in, make a list of places that you have to take three flights to get to, and see if I’ve even heard of it. I probably haven’t.

          1. Stars and violets

            Does that mean I should strike NYC from my must see places because it would take me 3 flights to get there?

            1. Tasha

              Sorry to intrude, but I’ve done similar things just for fun so I might be able to give a different interpretation. What Dan might be doing is looking for the longest irreducible path to each given “objective” (in this case a city) because complex solutions are interesting, but only if they’re not needlessly complex. If the list of cities that immediately spring to mind are mostly one, occasionally two stops away, there aren’t so many interesting logistical considerations there. This sort of approach doesn’t involve judging the intrinsic worth of the cities, just quantitatively classifying travel plans.

            2. Dan

              I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about me and where I live. Please reread my post if you are still hung up on that point. If you live somewhere that has less air service, you get more complicated itineraries that require more flights. Pretty simple concept.

              Whether or not you “should” do something is a personal judgement call.

              1. Stars and violets

                I did re-read your post and I still think you were showing a touch of arrogance in describing anywhere that was more than a flight away from DC/NYC as “second tier”. I am not hung up, just amused, living as I do somewhere that despite being probably third tier by your definition still has lots of international tourists. They clearly feel it’s worth the trip.

                1. Bea W

                  I avoid flying through NYC/Newark whenever possible. Ugh. No thanks! If I can’t go direct from my own airport, I try to route through something less awful and delay prone. I may not be able to avoid the congested Northeast corridor in my travels (living in the north east), but I sure as heck can avoid the 1st tier cities of flight congestion. I guess that’s the trade off for convenience if you live within ground transit distance. I don’t. So I avoid it by making my connections elsewhere if I have to make them at all. I have not flown through NYC since 1998? 1999? :)

                  The availability of flights really depends on *where* you want to go and what carriers service that airport.

                2. Dan

                  Second tier isn’t an insult, I’m sorry you’re taking it that way.

                  Have I heard of your town before? If so, I’m willing to bet that it’s within two flights of DC/NY. If it isn’t, my guess is that you live in rural Australia if I’ve got to take three flights to get to you. Perhaps Alice Springs? Hobart doesn’t get “lots” of international tourists AFAIK.

                  About the only places I know of requiring three flights from DC are going to be rural Australia, rural Malaysia, and the outer islands of Indonesia. All of those places are pretty damn far down the tourist trail, no?

          2. Layla

            Washington, D.C. To Yogyakarta ?
            Heh, but I got your point. I live in a pretty well connected city myself and there’s usually hardly any reason to go somewhere requiring 3 flights unless it was part of a greater tour around the region , when there are perfectly good places to visit 2 flights away that I haven’t been to yet

            1. Dan

              You can hit that in one stop from jfk via hkg. For whatever reason, many of my travels originate at jfk. Since I can take Amtrak, a bus, or drive there, I don’t really consider dc-nyc to be a flight that counts for this discussion.

              The places that do come to mind are more remote places of Malaysia that are served by their equivalent of an express carrier out of Kuala Lumpur. I don’t have a real reason to go there. Hell, even the other larger cities have service from hkg.

              1. Layla

                Boracay! I think , a quick google
                Though, just read an article that said it wasn’t worth going. I don’t disagree with you by the way. Just found it fun to find places pretty well known but 3 flights away from Dc / ny

          3. Sam

            Strongly strongly disagree. It’s going to take me three flights from NYC to Victoria Falls. It’s so friggen worth it I don’t care of its ten flights.

            1. Sandy

              Vic Falls can be done in one connection from NYC, no? South African Airways to Joburg and then Vic Falls.

              1. Sam

                I’ve had a REALLY hard time finding a flight like that. Most of them either went through London or Windhoek

            2. Dan

              Strongly disagree that there are few places requiring three flights from dc or nyc that are really, really worth visiting? My whole point is that pretty much everything I can list (and that numbers well over a hundred) can be reached in one stop. It’s really, really hard to list places that *require* two stops, let alone me really wanting to go there. Sure, there are a few things that would be worth visiting, but the trick is finding them.

              1. Bea W

                “Worth visiting” is subjective. What’s not worth visiting to one person, may be totally worth visiting to another. I think that is what people are taking issue with, one person declaring what is worth visiting vs. what is not. You can’t decide that for anyone but yourself.

                1. Dan

                  I think most people taking issue with my post are reading things into it that aren’t there. My real point was that I think it’s downright amazing just how well connected this region is to the rest of the world. When I wrote “second tier,” some people chose to take that as an insult, which it is not. I initially said “not as high on the tourist trail” which is true. They might have a lot of tourists, but not nearly as many as other places that have better air service.

                  The other thing I’m trying to figure out is where other people get that I think *they* shouldn’t visit a place because I said so. I thought it was pretty clear that I was talking about me, where I live, what I want to do, and how much effort I’m willing to expend to get there. If I lived in a smaller town in the US, I’d have to take more fights to get there. Those in Europe that don’t live in Frankfurt, Paris, London, or Amsterdam have the same issue. Live in those cities? The world is at your fingertips. Don’t live in those cities? Takes longer to get places.

      2. BRR

        I live further up the east coast and I noticed the same thing. I was checking flight prices and most seemed to go from here to DC to place. I know JFK also has a lot too. Coming from a rust belt city I love being able to get direct flights.

        My personal philosophy on touristy things are some are traps but some are also touristy because they’re awesome.

    8. Computer Guy Eli

      Greece. Athens, specifically. Oh and Delphi!

      But I’ve been a greek nerd ever since I was a Little baby Eli junior. Rome’d be nice too.

    9. GOG11

      I would probably use it to fly to see my cousin. I rarely see her and neither of us can afford to visit the other. I miss her dearly.

    10. Felicia

      London, England, I think. I’ve always wanted to go for many reasons, and then I can tour the UK and easily take a train to a variety of other countries. I’d probably take the train to France from there :)

    11. Diet Coke Addict

      Vietnam–to see my husband’s family and travel around the region. (The south–Nha Trang and environs.)

      1. HR Manager

        I’ve heard Vietnam is incredible, and the food is amazing. I love local Vietnamese food, and I would be happy to feast there. I was in Guilin, China 2 years ago (north of Vietnam) and it shares the same karst formations, so the same beauty … different country. :)

      2. puddin

        A little late to the party for the posting times…I was in Vietnam last year. It was an incredible experience. Very beautiful, warm people (to us tourists anyway), and excellent food. I felt like there was a re-awakening going on – moving past the wars and occupation to a new found cultural pride. There is a lot of juxtaposition of the ancient/old with the new as well. I was in the South and enjoyed every minute of it.

    12. BRR

      I’m going to be going to my place next month but it’s Costa Rica. Specifically the Arenal area. I also want to do Iceland. Bhutan is on the top of my fantasy list but I believe it’s hard to get to and really expensive.

    13. INTP

      For a truly free ticket, I would probably pick somewhere that the tickets are normally extremely expensive, like the Seychelles or somewhere in the south Pacific. Or Madagascar? I used to live on a different island close to it and never got to go.

      I also have dream destinations that are not tropical islands but since I am literally sitting here with ice outside of my windows and a frozen car battery thawing out in my living room…only warm places sound nice.

    14. The Cosmic Avenger

      Good suggestions so far. I’d add that you should consider the South Pacific, like Fiji and French Polynesia. The flight is a good portion of the expense, although accommodations are also not cheap.

      If it were me, I’d probably go to Australia, New Zealand, or the Pacific Rim, since those are as far as I could go and places I haven’t yet visited.

      1. Connie-Lynne

        I’d probably go back to Fiji. I loved it there but the flight costs are so expensive from California!

    15. Elizabeth West

      Europe–probably Germany to start, because I have friends there I haven’t met and I want to see ALL THE THINGS. I can hop a train back to the UK and fly home from there. :)

    16. HR Manager

      I’d pick some far off remote places that aren’t easily accessible from my home town. I’ve love to go to Borneo/Malaysia, Cambodia, Fiji. If it’s just a matter of getting to a place I’ve never been, I’m really itching to hit Switzerland, Spain, Italy (you can toss in any European country here for fun). One of my favorite places to go to is Japan, and I would love to do a side trip to Korea.

  2. Is This Legal

    Do couples share bath towels? I recently got married and my wife have no problem sharing. What else do you do as couple that’s odd?

        1. fposte

          Yeah, I’ve seen the name but wasn’t sure if it was you or not. I’d say in this case courts have yet to rule :-).

    1. The IT Manager

      I think it’s odd not to; although, not when its still wet, but its not like they’re labeled his and her or anything.

      1. Is This Legal

        I was being inconsiderate then, I wanted this is yours and this is mine. Things you learn on AAM

        1. The IT Manager

          I also found it odd when I discovered a friend who thought towels should only be used once. So I suppose she doesn’t share because its clean, used, and then in the laundry basket.

          I used the logic of you’re using it to dry a just washed and therefore clean body so I don’t get a squick factor.

          1. The IT Manager

            Also presumable your “swapping spit” and other bodily fluid in much more intimate ways so …

            1. Sarah

              It is. I use a towel once and wash (same for clothes). My MY resolution is to stop this habit – first week’s washing is going to be so easy today!

          2. Lily in NYC

            My best friend also only uses towels once before washing; I think that’s weird. But I do not like the idea of sharing my towel!

            1. azvlr

              I live in a dry climate, but when I lived in Japan, it was so humid there the towels smelled a little mildew-y if you tried to use it a second time. I got in the habit of using a towel once then washing. I wondered why I had so much towel laundry and when I moved back to the desert, I discovered the towel would be dry and relatively clean enough to use again a few times.

          3. The Cosmic Avenger

            I used the logic of you’re using it to dry a just washed and therefore clean body so I don’t get a squick factor.

            Yeah, right when you get out of the shower you should be the cleanest thing in your house! In fact, if anything your towel should be getting cleaner the more you dry yourself off!

            (h/t to Scott Adams)

            We don’t share towels, but then we also do our own laundry separately. We just like doing a lot of things our own ways, so it makes sense for us.

            1. Cath in Canada

              I dunno, I had a friend who used this as his rationale to rarely wash his towels, and they were pretty stinky! Yes you’re at your cleanest right out of the shower, but the friction still removes skin cells and other stuff that’ll transfer to the towel. I don’t wash after every use myself, but I can definitely provide first-hand anecdota that towels don’t get cleaner over time ;)

          4. Noah

            Small voice…I never reuse a bath towel. It just seems gross to me. Although we never reused bath towels growing up either. I didn’t know anyone did until I was in high school.

        2. Lamb

          It is not inconsiderate to want your own towel. Couples can agree to share towels, but if one of them doesn’t want to share, then they should each have their own. Because you’re separate people. You should be able to have your own seperate stuff.

        3. Blue_eyes

          My husband and I have two sets of towels in different colors. So the grey is his and the light green are mine. But I wasn’t pushing for monograms or anything. I would certainly use one of his towels if it were clean, but I wouldn’t use one that he had used unless there was some pressing reason. We do share water bottles and drinks though which some people find weird.

          1. Anx

            I won’t share used towels but will share water glasses.

            I’m prone to skin infections so I like being able to keep tabs on exactly what my towel has been used for.

        4. danr

          Not really… my wife likes the big towels while I use the regular size ones. But, if you’re both showering in the morning, who gets to use the wet towel?

          1. Treena Kravm

            I think a lot of people are asking this same question. For us, it’s not that there’s only one towel and the second person has to use the wet one (!!). First, we rarely shower at the same time. My husband showers after his run in the mid/late afternoon. And I shower really randomly. Second, there are usually 2 or even 3 towels that get rotated in/out. We just don’t say to ourselves, “I used the red one and the grey one is his, so I can’t use the grey one.”

            1. Cath in Canada

              Yeah, same here – we usually have at least two towels hanging on the rack at any time, and each of us will use whichever one is dry. We don’t keep track of which towel is which, we just both use both until it’s time to wash those two and add a fresh two to the rack.

    2. Natalie

      I mean, we always grab from the same stack, but we hang them on different hooks so we are only reusing our specific towel. But I don’t think it would be weird if you each reused the same one – you’re drying a clean body, after all.

      1. Connie-Lynne

        Jepp.

        The main reason we use different towels is because, you know, the towel he just used is still wet. Hanging them in different spots just makes it easy to know which ones will be predictably dry.

    3. Arjay

      I find it odd, but I’ve gotten used to it. I prefer to have my own towel, but my husband steals mine all the time.

      1. Arjay

        To clarify, we don’t just use one towel. But if there are two towels on the rack, he will pick one up randomly, instead of using the one that he used previously. So I get to use a dry towel, but it’s one he used before. I can live with that.

    4. Cristina in England

      We don’t. In fact, we still each use the towels we had before we moved in together. Even if we did have a nice stack of new fluffy towels, I wouldn’t share a used one. No way. Nooooo way.

    5. Erin

      My husband and I have been married for 12 years. For the most part we use different towels and don’t share. It wasn’t really a conscious decision – when we first started living together we just combined households, didn’t have enough money to buy new towels, so just carried on using our own ones, which were different colors. Now we have one large set, so clean ones aren’t divided into “his” and “hers” but we have separate towel rails and I take from mine, and he takes from his. I’d feel slightly odd using a towel he had already used (without washing it) even if it was dry. Though honestly I have no idea why it bothers me; I’m not an overly uptight person about these kind of things. There’s just a mild squick factor in sharing dirty towels in my opinion.

      1. Is This Legal

        That’s my idea too, even if it’s dry use your own. But I can see the other argument by IT Manager, being intimate.

        1. Erin

          I have been thinking about this and I think I have identified the squirm factory. I totally get that you are drying a clean body, but loads of dead skin cells are going to get on that towell, especially if you really rub yourself dry. The loops of thread are going to hold on to all of that detritus. I’d rather dry myself with my own dead skin cells, not hubby’s!

          1. dragonzflame

            Ehhh…there will also be a lot of his dead skin cells in your bed.

            Don’t get me wrong, I like my towel to be mine, but at least they’re *clean* dead skin cells if he (and it’s always him) doesn’t pay attention and grabs the wrong towel ;-)

          2. Bea W

            The squickiest thing I can think of with towels is some of the places you have to dry, but really those places aren’t anywhere married couples aren’t already going.

    6. Ann Furthermore

      We don’t share towels, but my husband and I did have to come to an understanding about towels when we got married. He was in the habit of using a new towel each day. I am from the school of a fresh towel once a week. You use it to dry off your clean body, after all, hang it back on the hook or towel rack, and it’s dry the next day. We live in a very dry climate, so it’s not a big deal. If we lived someplace like Florida where it’s humid all the time and your towel didn’t get completely dry by the next morning, that would be gross.

      When I realized he used a new towel every day and thought about it, I couldn’t believe it. He has 3 brothers, and his whole family did the new towel every day thing. So that means his mom was washing 7 towels for 6 people every week, plus hand towels, dish towels, and washcloths. So basically she was washing 50 towels every week! I told him there was no way in hell I was doing that, and if he wanted a clean towel each day he’d have to be responsible for washing them. He’s now a one-towel-a-week person.

      1. Layla

        I know a family that washes their towel everyday , but they share.
        Like the kids share 1 towel & the couple shares 1. I think that’s fair – or at least better than your husband’s family scenario

      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        My mother is like that. The sheer amount of water she uses doing laundry is astounding. I became a switch-during-the-week person during college when I had to start paying to do laundry and using communal machines. I used communal machines and pay laundry for 18 years, and now I have my own washer and dryer (BLISS!), and I have to remind myself to switch the towels. Old habits die hard, for real.

        1. Windchime

          I switch during the week, too. I normally use a towel 2 or 3 times (maybe more) before it’s ready for the hamper. No husband or SO at this time, so I don’t have to worry about sharing. I do use two towels per shower, though….one for the body and one for the hair. I have thick, shoulder-length hair and I can’t stand it dripping all over so I bundle it up in a towel.

          1. Persephone Mulberry

            I dry my body, give my hair a good rub so it’s not dripping everywhere, put on my robe (terrycloth, so it’s basically a giant towel anyway), and then wrap the towel around my hair.

        2. Connie-Lynne

          Whoa. I live in California, which is in the middle of a crazy drought. We definitely don’t wash the towels daily!

      3. the gold digger

        I lived in Miami for a couple of years in an old house (ie, well built, but without central air) and had to be very careful about hanging my bath towel outside on the patio on a drying rack. A friend visited and I explained to her about the towels and asked her to hang hers (I give guests their own towels :) ) outside as well.

        When I got home from work that day, I discovered that not only had she not put her towel on the drying rack but she had just thrown it over the back of the wooden chair in the guest room, so now the wood was good and wet. I was not pleased.

      4. De Minimis

        We do the same as Ann Furthermore, we don’t share but we tend to do maybe one towel a week.

        My family tends to do a “one towel a day” thing, and it drove my wife nuts when my mom came to visit.

    7. Treena Kravm

      We definitely share a lot. Things like towels, toothbrushes. clean socks, underwear (his), razors, deodorant when it’s convenient or we’re too lazy to go get our own. We use the same soap, shampoo, toothpaste, sweatshirts/pants all the time. Is any of that odd? It probably is in comparison to the fact that we hate sharing things like computers.

      1. Garland

        We share all of those things, too! Except my husband would never wear my underwear, whereas I’ve run out of clean undies on occasion and borrowed a pair of his. So towels? Of course, we don’t think twice about it.

        1. Treena Kravm

          Just to clarify for those shocked down below, this is along the lines of what I meant. My husband prefers boxers, but he has about 8 pairs of boxer briefs that I like to wear when I’m cleaning, on a bike ride, lounging around the house, or yes, even under a dress in a pinch when I can’t find any of my clean underwear. He usually doesn’t wear them, but when he runs out of boxers, he’l switch to the boxer briefs. Prior to his/my discovery of boxer briefs, I definitely wore his boxers to bed and around the house, but they get twisted up, so I prefer the tighter briefs.

      2. Is This Legal

        My spouse don’t mind sharing toothbrushes and deodorant, it’s refreshing to know other couples share these things. I will not get angry any more. Thanks.

        1. the gold digger

          I will sometimes accidentally use my husband’s toothbrush, but it’s not a general practice. Other than that, we share almost everything – deodorant, toothpaste, water glass in the kitchen, forks when we are eating out and trying each other’s food.

          We do have our own towels, but that’s because he insists on splashing water on his face and then wiping it with a towel, which makes the towel dirty. So he uses the green towels he brought into the marriage because they don’t show face smudges and I use my white towels, because towels are for faces after they have been washed WITH SOAP.

          Except an email address. Email addresses are sacred and I do not get couples who have just one shared email. Not couples where they each have their own but also have a shared address to give to their kids’ school or for bill paying, but just one. One address. Between the two.

          Which is why I did not understand when my husband’s father asked Primo, right before our wedding, if Primo’s email was “secure.” He wanted to send email a message that I would not see. Well of course it’s secure – I don’t read my husband’s email.

          However, the message Primo’s dad wanted to send was that he and Primo’s mom were going to boycott our wedding and that Primo should not marry me. How could the Smartest Man in The Room(TM) (aka Primo’s dad) not figure out that I WOULD NOTICE IF THEY WERE NOT AT MY WEDDING? (And rejoice.)

          And how could he not figure that Primo WOULD TELL ME SUCH NEWS?

          /rant over.

          1. Audiophile

            I never understood couples who only had one email, which they shared, or a Facebook account. I’ve noticed it more in couples in older generations. But I don’t think I could ever do this. It’s just too big or a trust and privacy violation for me.

            I’ve read your blog, your in-laws are something else.

            1. Felicia

              At work I often deal with men calling on behalf of their wives – and I work at a professional association where their wives are the professional – these same couples have a single email to share, which the woman uses for her business listing.

                1. Felicia

                  Is that a serious comment? It’s a free business listing that we provide, and they use a joint gmail address that she puts in there – she could just have her own gmail address to put in there.

                  If it was a joking comment , i didn’t get it :)

                2. the gold digger

                  I joke. :) There is no logical reason whatsoever not to have a personal email. I have three email addresses: my work email, which is just for work, my good personal email address, which is what I use for friends and family, and my junk email address, which is what I use for ordering things online and commenting, etc.

                3. Audiophile

                  I was kidding as well. I’ve heard people who share, say they just trust each other and have nothing to hide, so they don’t see an issue with it. But I couldn’t do it. I got freaked out when a guy I was sort of dating, took my Snapple drink out of my hand and drank from it. All I could think was, “I’m not sure I like you enough to share a drink with you.”

                4. Felicia

                  Haha ok I didn’t get it :)

                  Actually i found him calling on behalf of his wife even weirder than the shared email address. I also get a lot of parents calling on behalf of their newly graduated kids, which is horrible, but didn’t weird me out as much.

                5. Connie-Lynne

                  I would never share an email account not because I don’t trust my husband (of course I trust my husband) but because how are we supposed to know (a) to whom the emails are being addressed and (b) the history is gonna get all messed up (read/not read, answered, we use different filing systems, etc etc etc).

                  My husband’s parents, however, can’t comprehend that he and I have separate email addresses — we even went into their computer, deleted all our email addresses, added *only* the 2-person mail alias that goes to both of us, and they still somehow managed to only send to his personal email address.

                  I’ve talked to people who have a shared address, and the logic seems to follow, “well, we got on just fine with only one phone line for many years, so, yeah, one email address works out no problem.” My guess is that it’s fine for people for whom that is the model of email use they’re in, ie, they only get a few mails weekly and it’s just like using the phone used to be.

          2. Diet Coke Addict

            I’d also like to have someone explain to me the single-Facebook thing. “JohnAndAnna Smith” as one unit. Why. There is no need for that.

            1. Treena Kravm

              When I see that, I just pity them. It’s like publicly declaring “We’re at such an unhealthy stage, that we’re either destined for divorce or are going to slog through an unhappy marriage.”

            2. Julie

              I know a church in my area preaches that couples can’t trust the other on social media so they should share a facebook account if they really feel they need to have one. They then make some point about your friends being your spouses friends but the underlying message is that you can’t trust your spouse with social media and that seems wrong to me.

              1. Treena Kravm

                Yes! I read an article about how they don’t talk to people of the opposite sex on the phone. It’s like pre-cheating, so they don’t do it to avoid the real cheating??

          3. Victoria, Please

            My sibling and spouse have one address. Makes me crazy because I know it’s a conservative Christian “all must be known” thing. I never know who’s answering the email I wrote to check if the neph and niece got their presents.

        2. Garland

          Oh, no- we don’t share toothbrushes. That’s where our sharing ends. :-) We’ll swig out of the same mouthwash bottle, share deodorant, toothpaste, just about anything except toothbrushes.

          1. Cath in Canada

            That’s usually where I draw the line too, but then I forgot my own toothbrush on a weekend camping trip and using my husband’s toothbrush felt like the lesser of two evils, compared to not brushing my teeth at all. It wasn’t too bad, but I wouldn’t make a habit of it!

            1. Treena Kravm

              Yep, that’s how it started for us. I forgot by toothbrush and wasn’t going to go out and buy a new one at 11pm. So I used his. And it didn’t gross me out at all. In fact, the only real reason we keep separate toothbrushes now is so we don’t get one another sick. My husband won’t even kiss me if I’m sick, he’s super serious about sick germs.

        3. Dolly

          No. No no no no no. No. OMG no.

          Toothbrushes and deodorant are the two things I.Will.Not.Share. No. Never. Nope. No.

          And I’ve heard all the arguments “but you kiss” etc. Yea, but when I kiss a man I’m not scraping my tongue repeatedly against his grimy teeth. So no, not that same thing. Also, deodorant? You rub that on your sweaty pits and then expect me to let it touch me? nope.

          1. Treena Kravm

            Both my husband and I have never put deodorant (anti-perspirant) on when we were sweaty. We were both taught growing up to only put it on after you’ve showered.

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        Wow, I am shocked by all of what I’m reading here. We share none of this kind of thing, and I can’t imagine doing it. Part of it is that we have separate bathrooms; otherwise we’d share soap and toothpaste. But never the other stuff — the idea of sharing a towel squicks me out. So interesting to learn people do this.

        1. Vancouver Reader

          Same here. We used to share a bathroom, so we’d share toothpaste, but everything else we’d have our own stash. I love having my own bathroom even though it does mean more cleaning.

        2. Not So NewReader

          And I have read articles about not sharing toothpaste tubes and not reusing towels, especially if the towels do not dry out all the way.

          This type of stuff really drives up costs. I would reuse a towel, but I would not share it. Toothpaste I never even thought about.

          1. Vancouver Reader

            That makes a lot of sense because I guess we all tend to touch the tube of toothpaste to our toothbrush and if we don’t want to share toothbrushes.

            If I had the money, I’d turn into Howard Hughes.

        3. Is This Legal

          I’m really really surprised, I would have never imagined. AaM, I’m even surprised you have separate bathrooms. Wow.

            1. Megan

              How does that work? Does one of you use an en suite and the other the main bathroom for the house? Or did you build your house with two bathrooms off the master bedroom?

              1. Ask a Manager Post author

                We have two bathrooms on the top floor — one in the master bedroom and one in the guest bathroom. I take the master one and he takes the guest bathroom. It’s delightful. (This house actually has four bathrooms total — it’s a bathroom heaven.)

      4. HR Generalist

        We share all of those things too.
        As for the underwear bit – I wouldn’t wear them out but I’d grab them to lounge in, etc. Usually doesn’t come up because I worked at a lingerie store in university and have countless pairs of clean underwear (probably could go a year without washing them and not run out……)

        We don’t really share towels though. I have grabbed his once or twice if I forgot to take mine out, or something like that, but he’s a hairy Italian so I have to be prepared to be covered in black hair if I make that decision. In general, we hang our towels in separate spots and stick to our own. I just find it makes it easier to determine when they need to be washed – I’ll know how many times I’ve used mine before I throw it in the wash. A lot of our towels are the same (to match our colour scheme) so it’s hard to determine if it’s a new towel or one that’s been on the rack for a week unless we keep track of how much it’s used.

      5. teclatwig

        Soap, shampoo, toothpaste, occasional deodorant, occasional snag of his boxer briefs when laundry is overdue, check. I steal my husband’s (dry) used towel all the time, but he prefers not to use mine. He is squeamish about dirt and its cousins, and there is a squick factor for him. And, as someone who sometimes sloughs a *lot* of dead skin cells (thanks, genetically predisposed dry skin!), I can see his point of view.

      1. The Maple Teacup

        My partner and I do not share towels. I reuse my towel and put a new one on the hook every week. He uses a fresh towel every time he showers. I think this is because he dries off every single armpit, crevasse , and nether region. I’m grateful for his towel habits really. Love the fellow to death, but I don’t want to use a towel that once dried unmentionable body parts.

    8. Lizzie

      We’ve kind of fallen into a pattern of always pulling our “own” color of towel from the pile (we have two sets, one purple and one blue), plus I have my smaller hair towel that I always use. So we really don’t share them, actually.

    9. Persephone Mulberry

      I love these random personal habits discussions. :D

      I also tend toward the “fresh towel every shower” camp. It’s not a squick factor, per se – I don’t think of used towels as dirty – but I just don’t like the feel of an air-dried towel. The people in my house, myself included, also tend to wear our towels out of the bathroom back to our bedrooms, where they end up on the floor covered in cat hair rather than on the towel bar where they can dry properly. So I don’t have any objection to sharing a towel, it’s just my reflex to grab a fresh towel (and there’s rarely a used towel handy anyway).

      Husband and I do not share toothbrushes, deodorant, underwear(?!) or computers, either.

      1. the gold digger

        Persephone, just out of curiosity, who does the laundry in your house? I wouldn’t care about this if someone else were washing the towels, but if I were the one in charge, I would not be happy!

            1. Noah

              I’m single, live alone, and I do at least 7 loads of laundry a week between clothing, sheets, and towels. I’m not sure how I would pull off only 2-3 loads a week.
              Darks
              Lights
              Whites
              Jeans
              Sheets
              Towels
              Random Gym Clothes midweek.

              1. Treena Kravm

                I do laundry every two weeks or so, but I do
                Darks
                Lights/Whites
                Sheets/Towels
                Jeans/sweatshirts/gym clothes

                I’m imagining a very tiny washer for you Noah if each of those categories after a week fills up a load. Out here in suburbia, I could easily wash 10 towels in one load, so I save them up.

                1. the gold digger

                  1. Darks, sometimes split into two – regular darks and gym clothes to be line dried
                  2. Sheets/whites every other week (I am covered head to toe while I sleep because of the cold, so the sheets don’t get that dirty
                  3. Towels every two months or so – we have a lot of towels

              2. Alter_ego

                this seems totally insane to me. I’m single and live alone, and do laundry once every six weeks or so, though when I do do it, it’s usually about 5 loads. 3 for clothes, one for sheets, and one for towels.

              3. HR Manager

                Wow – 7 for 1?! *mind boggled* I live alone – two loads usually every two weeks, light vs dark. Every once in a while, a special load is required (like after my shingles…ugh) where kitty towels and blankies get washed. Or I wash cleaning stuff like mop bonnets and random things that I would never mix with anything else.

              4. HR Generalist

                My mind is blown. You must wear a lot of clothes or something!

                It’s two of us in my house, we do laundry probably biweekly. And then, it’s two loads – darks and lights. About once a month (maybe) I’ll do a load of towels/bedding. Maybe I’m just not as picky with what I mix, but wowowoowwow

      2. Anx

        If I ever get a job where I can afford some more little luxuries, I want to get a towel bar and a huge quilt rack for the bedroom. So I can hang my towels without walking naked back the bed room and have a place to hang the blankets while I change the sheets.

    10. GOG11

      My boyfriend and I do not share a towel. He is quite a lot taller than I am (and than the average person) so he uses bath sheets rather than towels, which I find unwieldy. Also, similar to what others have said, if we shared a towel, one of us would be using a wet towel. Those things aside, I guess we would probably share.

      We shower together frequently enough that we’re trying to come up with a way to have two shower heads in our shower. Is that odd?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        That’s not at all odd. And there are plenty of shower heads that will serve that purpose. Saves time and water! Frankly, I have always thought it weird that my boyfriend is completely against showering together, but it’s one of our easier compromises.

        1. the gold digger

          I don’t like showering together because I get cold if I am not the one under the water stream!

          However, when I was in the initial throes of romance, I thought showering together was great. I asked a married friend with little kids how often she and her husband showered together and she said never. “My shower is the only time I get to be all by myself,” she said.

      2. hermit crab

        Haha, you sound like us! I’m more than a foot shorter than my SO. Sometimes I take one of the jumbo towels and it’s awesome for about two days, and then I go back to a normal-sized one. Also, two shower heads sounds fantastic.

        1. GOG11

          Yeah, having TOWEL FOR DAYS is okay every once in a while, but it gets old pretty quickly after the second or third time I’ve had to ball up the slack and hold it while trying to dry myself off so I’m not dragging it around on the floor.

      3. danr

        Not odd… one way to do it is to re-do your shower with new plumbing. Less expensively, you can do some creative plumbing. Draw what you want to do and take it to a plumbing store. The folks behind the counter can tell you what you’ll need to do it.

        1. GOG11

          Luckily, BF is pretty darn handy at nearly everything, including plumbing. We’re saving up the money to redo the bathroom and I can’t wait to get something figured out and installed!

      4. Not So NewReader

        Showerheads- Groupon for my area frequently has double shower head sets for sale. Don’t jump on the first one you see, they sometimes have several styles. The set is about $20. I have been look at them and looking at them…. sigh…. gotta break down and do it. They call them spa shower or something like that.

      5. HR Generalist

        Nope, we did that too. It’s surprisingly easy – I googled a how-to, bought the required parts from Amazon for under $30 and installed it myself (I’m not handy). I would definitely recommend.

    11. Felicia

      I would personally be grossed out by sharing towels for anyone for absolutely no reason so I wouldn’t want to. Though curious, most people agree it’s weird to share a toothbrush, why are towels different? I kind of view them as them same – I always clean my toothbrush after using and you use a towel on a clean body. I wouldn’t share eihter but it’s interesting how people differentiate.

      1. Treena Kravm

        Yep. Same thing with a bar of soap. People don’t really seemed bother to share those, but that’s the thing that touches your dirty body.

      2. The Other Dawn

        I guess for me a bar of soap can be lathered a little after using, which would remove the “dirty” layer. A toothbrush can be cleaned, but it has some many little spaces where bacteria can get stuck. A towel is used on a clean body. That’s how I differentiate.

    12. AdAgencyChick

      I don’t share mine — I like a nice fully dry towel, he showers before I do, and the towel takes a little while not to be damp. So we are a his-and-hers household.

    13. BRR

      We have a two bath apartment and don’t even share bathrooms unless we have people from out of town staying with us.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          I swore I would do separate bathrooms once we got our 2-bath house, but we didn’t. It’s probably more for practical reasons than anything else (one bathroom has a better storage configuration). It’s still a dream, but a diminishing one. I’m one of those people who reaaaaalllly likes my space, too, so I don’t know why this works for me.

          I love having a second toilet, though. It makes me SO HAPPY.

    14. Pennalynn Lott

      Ick! My boyfriend and I do not share towels. Here’s a good explanation why:

      “Germ Haven #1: Used Bath Towels
      Do you share a bath towel with your hubby or kids? It may sound like a good idea, but health experts say it’s a big no-no. “I remind my patients that even though it seems like sharing bath towels among family members is no big deal, and good for the environment, it’s actually an unhealthy practice,” says Susan C. Taylor, MD, community editor for BeWell.com.
      “MRSA, a dangerous staph infection that is resistant to many antibiotics, can be spread by sharing towels with your husband, even your kids,” she says. “Research also indicates that bacteria that can cause acne can also be spread among family members from towel sharing. It’s also a good idea to replace hand towels in the bathroom frequently.”

      I use two towels when I get out of the shower: One for my face and hair, and one for everything below my neck. I don’t care that I just got out of the shower, I am not wiping my face with the same thing that just dried the crack of my butt and, ah, “girly parts”. After they’ve dried and I’ve refolded them and hung them on the rack, I still keep them delineated. The one I use for my face is the one I’ll dry my hands and face on after washing them. The “body” towel just hangs there until my next shower.

      1. Kay

        This so much! My dad and sister have had numerous staph infections and man are they a pain. You wash EVERYTHING… and you don’t share anything.

        Needless to say my husband & I don’t share towels. We will use common towels, although I prefer bath sheets and he usually uses normal size towels. Neither of us has a problem using whatever towel is clean, but we don’t use after the other and if there’s been a staph infection for anyone, we don’t re-use until the infection is clear.

      2. Treena Kravm

        I’ve been sharing towels with my sister for 10+ years and with my husband for 5+ years. We’re not going to spread MRSA unless one of has MRSA first…and maybe if you have an acne problem you should stop sharing? But other then that, let’s just leave it up to personal preference, k?

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          It is personal preference. I was just stating some of the reasons behind mine, not dictating towel usage for the rest of the world. :-)

    15. Hlyssande

      I think sharing them is weird, but I live alone and have never shared towels with anyone. No thanks!

  3. en pointe

    Alison, I was wondering if you would please consider varying the time of the work open thread again at some point? It’s not very friendly to some other time zones (e.g. 3 am Sydney time), and this one’s obviously non-work only.

  4. The Maple Teacup

    Morrie the cat update! It’s been three weeks since he started treatment for his suspected pancreatic issues and Morrie is doing well. He just simply looks healthier. I’ve been giving him vitamin B-12 injections myself for the last two weeks. It is not easy. The action of piercing his skin is unsettling at an indescribable level. I feel creeped out just thinking about it. Morrie takes it like a pro though and doesn’t flinch. Fear not needle adverse pet parents, learning how to give injections is doable.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Good for you and him! It’s amazing what we can over come for our pets, eh?
      I remember the first time I took B12. Oh my. I actually felt alive, such a difference. I didn’t do shots, I did capsules. Do you have a time frame for how long he will be on it? I bet you have to use different injection sites so as not to bruise the skin too much. I am glad you are getting good results, it is so hard to watch our little buddies suffer.

      1. The Maple Teacup

        Morrie should get weekly B12 shots every week until mid February. Then the injections will be spaced out to twice a month. At this point, I’m not sure how long Morrie will be taking medicine. Giving him pills is unbelievably easy. I just stuff the tablet in a pill pocket and give it to Morrie. He actually sits at my feet and licks his chops while I prepare his medicine. It is truly impressive what we humans will go through for the wellbeing of our pets. I told Morrie that yesterday (yes, I talk to my cat!” I said “Morrie, I love you very much. I wouldn’t touch a needle for any life form you know.” Morrie replied with an eye blink.

        1. Jazzy Red

          I’m glad to hear that Morris is doing so well!

          I have two dogs, and I *say* that I talk to them, but really at home I talk to myself out loud all the time. I do tell my dogs every day that I love them, though.

        2. HR Generalist

          Aww. Our cat went through a bout of acute pancreatitis and it was terrifying, we ended up having to hospitalize him overnight. But, prior to that, we syringe fed (in the mouth) and watered. Never had to do injections ourself but I’m always scared it will reoccur. Glad to hear it’s going well and that it’s do-able, I have a serious fear of needles and don’t know if I’d be able to do it!

    2. GOG11

      I didn’t see the original post about Morrie, but I’m glad he is doing better and that his condition is manageable!

      My parents had a diabetic dog who needed insulin shots. My mom (a cancer survivor who associates needles with being sick in addition to being afraid of them in general) never got to the point that she could give them, but luckily my dad was pretty good with it. I can’t imagine having to give my kitties shots and I’m so glad you’ve gotten to a point where it’s doable for you.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger

      I’m glad he’s doing well. Are you giving them in the scruff by pulling the scruff up to tent it? We did that with insulin and a hydration IV with our first sick cat, and it was daunting the first time or two, but it was pretty easy. Just be very careful not to go through the other side of the tented skin, I hit my finger once that way, and if I didn’t I might have squirted his insulin into his fur on the other side.

      1. The Maple Teacup

        That’s some good advice. I do tent his scruff and give the injection there. Your story gave me major “creepy spine” feelings!

  5. Stephanie

    1. I have to thank those who recommended The Americans (I think it was Alison and the gold digger). Started watching it this week and now I’m hooked.
    2. Speaking of DC, I’m heading there this upcoming weekend. I lived there for 3.5 years, but haven’t been back in nearly two years. Is there anything new (food related or otherwise) I should check out?

    1. The IT Manager

      Perfect timing. Just saw that the third season of The Americans begins at the end of January on FX.

      1. Stephanie

        Netflix doesn’t have it! But if you subscribed to Amazon Prime (or don’t mind buying), it’s there. My local library also had copies.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Over here, The Americans has just been dropped from the channel that was showing it. However, I never managed to catch it because they kept changing the time/day – why do they do that!? I might pick it up on DVD or something, eventually.

        1. Elkay

          Same thing happened with Breaking Bad. Put it on at 1am midweek and no-one watched it so they dropped it.

    3. MF

      So many new things in DC! Some of my favorites: Union market (in NE DC)- has all kinds of different food vendors, Bluejacket Brewery (in navy yard- there’s a ton of new restaurants, an ice cream shop, etc, in navy yard that have opened in the last 2 years). Glen’s Garden market is a really cool grocery/deli/prepared foods spot that features pretty much all local stuff- it’s just north of dupont circle.
      And this has been around for more than 2 years, but if you haven’t been to the MLK memorial, I highly recommend a visit!

        1. Audiophile

          I tend to be late to the party on most things, so I’m willing to give it another viewing. I don’t really remember much of the pilot, which likely means I watched a little and it sat in my Tivo until I deleted it.

  6. Gene

    The Office Kitty is now Commuter Cat. Boss takes him home at night and brings him in in the morning. He seems to be integrating into the menagerie and has taken the alpha position at home. When boss gets up and gets ready for work, CC starts rubbing on the carrier, ready to leave. Going home, he needs to be picked up and put in it, but no drama.

    1. Folklorist

      That is so adorable! I was expecting the worst when you said Commuter Kitty, but I’m happy to hear that it works!

    2. Not So NewReader

      That is too funny. I am glad the cat is not alone at night any more. Although, that probably bothered me more than it did the cat!

    3. GOG11

      Do you have any tips or recommendations or insight regarding how the cat got to this point? I am able to take my cats outside on leashes, but car rides are full of wailing and I-just-know-I’m-going-to-die noises. The only cat that doesn’t make noise is the one who is susceptible to motion sickness…and he just vomits instead :/

      1. esra

        I can’t even get mine to the leash stage. I brought it out and got a withering glare + Bitch. Please.

        1. GOG11

          There’s always a bit of cat-wrangling at the beginning (with all but my kitten, who I describe below, as he’s extremely mellow), but as soon as the door’s open they’re like those birds in Ice Age when the realize there’s only one watermelon left. They’re all, “The open” dramatic lip licking/smacking “door.”

          They get absorbed by the visual of the great outdoors and they stop fussing long enough to be herded out the door where they gleefully sniff and roll around in the dirt until I have to collect their wiggly, wailing selves into my arms to be forced back inside….at which point, they suddenly remember “OMG I’M BEING EATEN ALIVE BY THIS THING WHAT IS IT GET IT OFF”…which makes it quite a lot more difficult to get the harness off…

          O______o

          The joys of cats.

          1. HR Generalist

            Haha yup, +1 to that

            We harness trained by putting the harness on and distracting with their favourite toy. Took it off as soon as they became disenchanted, so it was always a positive experience. Eventually they just associate harness with outside time (also, not being left alone inside time) and love it.

            Carrier training involves lots of treat for us. Feliway if you can get your hands on it too. And leave their carriers out so they can go in and out and sleep in it during the day, it can’t be a scary foreign contraption or it will always freak them out.

            1. GOG11

              They get in the carrier alright. It’s the carrier car combo that screams “LE DEATH” to their little kitty brains.

              My mom suggested taking them on car rides other than to the vet’s office so they don’t associate the car with the vet but I feel like that would cause a lot of stress and I’m not even sure they’d ever decide the car was an okay thing. I never put them in the front seat because of the air bag, so I have no idea what sort of positive reinforcement I could provide while they’re in there :/

              Maybe I should start by just hanging out with the cat in the carrier the car and work my way up?

      2. LisaS

        This makes me laugh – my youngest cat, whom I rescued as a 4-wk old stray and who otherwise makes NO NOISES, howls like a banshee when I put him in the car. Somewhere in his tiny mind, the combination of car + carrier + outside the house translates to an extinction-level threat & it’s enough to overcome his feral instinct to be quiet at all times. Poor thing, really sounds like he’s convinced it’s all over…

        1. Elizabeth West

          Psycho Kitty wails in the car but as soon as we get into the vet’s office, she won’t even meow when she gets a shot. The second I put the carrier back in the car, however, I hear about it. All the way home. >_<

      3. Gene

        I’m trying to figure out just WHY someone dumped this amazing cat! He’s probably about 18 months old, so he was dumped when less than 12 months. He’s quiet, loves being with people, calm, and a happy lap cat. He was neutered, had a tattoo so show it, and had a collar.

        I have no idea how to get a cat to that point. My three definitely aren’t there. This is just one calm, cool cat.

        Here’s what I saw arriving at work Christmas Eve morning.
        http://instagram.com/p/w9avv_Pg3C

        1. GOG11

          Oh my goodness, it looks like he’s skyping!!!!

          I have a cat like this! He’s the one who throws up instead of wailing. If you touch him, or really even speak to him (or in his general direction), he starts purring. He LOVES belly rubs and anyone can pick him up and he’ll just sit there and purr. When my bully cat swats him about the head and shoulders (bully cat’s MO is to always start with a bop on the head), the kitten swats him back. They take turns calmly swatting each other’s head…. O_O

          Now that I think on it, he just IS that way, but I really wish it would rub off on the other two.

  7. Shell

    Bouldering update!

    Bouldering was so much fun. My forearms killed the next day, as did my shoulders and upper back. It took until Friday to get back to normal-ish, and boy, did my typing suck the first few days after. Typing with achy forearms is hard!

    Even my weak knee (old MCL tear) didn’t protest too much. Well, it feels stiff and weird any time I do anything that it’s not used to (i.e. anything that’s not walking) so it felt stiff and weird for a few days, but it didn’t hurt and it didn’t swell. I’m gonna wrap it for my next few sessions and take it easy, but I think I can get it acclimated to this kind of activity. In fact, I just bought myself rock shoes, chalk, and a chalk bag earlier today. :D Planning to head back tomorrow!

    As an addendum: thanks to all who gave me the car-shopping advice last week. Ah, I…got the job, so I will be putting that information to good use shortly. :D

    1. Sheep

      Bouldering is SO much fun! I miss it a lot… (Had a bouldering accident last year (surgery anniversary is actually today), and spent almost 6 months not walking/recuperating… Haven’t dared/been strong enough to be back all year. I think 2015 will be it though…

      1. Shell

        Ooh, um, do you feel comfortable sharing with what the injury was? Maybe I’ll need to watch out for that. I’m already pretty paranoid about my knee. o_o

        1. Sheep

          Broke my ankle. It was a bit of a freak accident, in that, I fell about half a metre, should have hit the mattress underneath, but instead hit in between where two mattresses meet, and because of hyperflexibility+the angle I fell in+climbing shoes been the way they are (banana shoes!), I broke it in two places. I’m now full of metal.

          1. Hlyssande

            Oooh, ouch! At least you have a reasonable cause for it. My broken ankle was due to sheer talent.

            I broke it by stepping off the side of my adidas sandal (the kind people wore with socks in the 90s) while running to my car in the rain. Yep.

            How’s your hardware doing? I had to get all but one screw taken out.

    2. Miki

      Glad you enjoyed it! Looks like you’re hooked (with all the gear bought and all) Welcome to the sport!

    3. Blue_eyes

      Glad you enjoyed it! I have foot/knee (pronation/patella tracking) issues and I thought rock climbing would irritate them, but it was actually just fine.

      1. Lady Sybil

        You know what? I wouldn’t rule out mountains yet. Lots of places don’t require technical climbing skills and not all are terribly exposed. Not sure about the shoulder but you don’t always need a massive backpack either. I hope you get a chance to experience the mountains someday.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Oh, I couldn’t hold on. My hands and arms and shoulders are completely messed up. I’d fall in about two seconds.
          I’d like to take a trip to LOOK at the Himalayas someday, though.

  8. Natalie

    Has anyone seen Inherent Vice? What did you think?

    Saw it with the boy this evening and he was not a fan. I mostly enjoyed it (“Wakeen” Phoenix is brilliant) but did find it drag a bit near the 2/3 mark or so. I found the creation of a stoned experience really interesting and well crafted.

    1. salad fingers

      Haven’t seen the movie yet but I’m very excited to. I read the book and was thinking both, “this is going to be impossible to make into a compact, plot driven movie” and “this is actually really cinematically written and could be very visually compelling.” From a couple of reviews I’ve read, it sounds like Anderson does Pynchon’s writing justice at times to the detriment of the movie — rambly, melancholic, etc. — so I think it will definitely be a treat to Pynchon fans. And noir/hardboiled/PI novel fans too.

  9. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

    Back to work tomorrow =| I’ve never had a holiday of longer than a four-day weekend where I’ve just been hanging about the house (as opposed to travel etc) and it has been SO LOVELY. Got lots of renovation done, acquired a kitten and have had a ball playing with her, and just generally RELAXED.

    I really don’t want to go back! Although I do get two four-day weeks (Friday as annual leave because my family are coming up, and Monday is our regional public holiday) which should help me ease back into it a bit.

  10. Stephanie

    Oof. I accidentally answered a scam call just now. It was an unknown number and was sort of nonsense on the other end. The person said I texted them about bag tags (which actually does mean something to me from my job, except it clearly wasn’t my coworker) and then hung up. I Googled the area code and it was from Guinea-Bisseau. So, uh, I’m hoping there’s not a $200 charge on my phone bill next month.

    1. Ann Furthermore

      Quite a few people I know recently have gotten scam calls from someone claiming to be from the IRS, telling them that they owe some huge amount of money and if they don’t pay it, the IRS will garnish their wages and put a lien on their house. It’s pretty clearly a scam though — as my one friend put it, the jig was up when the guy on the phone could not pronounce the word “Treasury.” LOL.

      1. Short and Stout

        It’s shocking to me that people do this — not just the scam itself (because I’m sure it scares far more people than would like to admit it), but, come on. Pretending to be an IRS agent? Surely that’s a federal crime right on its face?

      2. Elizabeth West

        I always tell people, the IRS will not call you like that. If you are in trouble with them or they want to talk to you or tell you anything, they will either send you an actual letter or show up at your door.

      3. Tris Prior

        Yep, my elderly mother got this one several times in one day and about had a heart attack. Fortunately she is not trusting of anyone at all and therefore did not give away thousands of dollars to these idiots. They were telling her that she was being sued and that cops were coming to her house to arrest her at this very moment.

        These people should be ashamed of themselves. I have a friend whose elderly mother DID fall for it and gave them $8 grand. :(

        1. Stephanie

          Yeah, I posted about this a while back. I live in an area of Arizona with a lot of retirees and we get lots of scam calls on the home line. Putting our fax number on the Do Not Call registry helped a bit and (nicely but sternly) threatening to report them to the state attorney general also helped. But we still get a handful of calls a day about Medicare Part D and annuities.

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, I’ll see what happens. I had this happen once before (I never answered the calls) and kept getting calls from Dominican Republic and Chinese area or country codes. My cell provider’s solution was just to change my phone number.

    2. Cristina in England

      Wait, I don’t understand. You would be charged that for an incoming call? That is so unfair.

      1. Liane

        I don’t think for that call, but 3rd parties can add fees to your phone bill in the USA. It does have legit uses, for example, once I was able to order a report from Consumer Reports magazine on a car I was considering buying.* I was able to pay by okaying adding the fee to my home phone bill. However, especially now, it is more commonly used for scams or just by less scrupulous cell/landline providers padding the bill.

        *This was way before they were set up to order services/subscriptions online & I am pretty sure they haven’t offered that pay option for years

      2. Jazzy Red

        No, it’s not the incoming call. The crook on the other end can use the OP’s phone number to make calls (I don’t know how that works, but they make at least one) and the charges end up on the OP’s bill. That’s why you need to call your carrier when that happens. They usually don’t make you pay for a call like that.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger

          That scam only works on certain office phone systems, and they have to get you to press a very specific button sequence. I don’t want to be moderated so I’m not including a link, just Google “#-9-0 Phone Scam” and read the Snopes article.

          The only other way this could work is if the caller texts you or calls you and hangs up and then you call them back, they sometimes can charge your bill just for calling (like psychic or sex chat lines), although you can usually dispute that if the terms aren’t disclosed and you don’t say “yes”.

    3. EvilQueenRegina

      I get a lot of these although 9 out of 10 of the ones I get are recorded messages. I usually don’t ring back an unfamiliar number where the person doesn’t leave a message, but did once because the area code was the same as where I’d booked accommodation for a holiday the next week and I wondered whether it might have been something to do with that (I was somewhere where I didn’t have immediate access to the contact details for the accommodation). Turned out it was someone asking if I’d been missold PPI.

  11. Email Question

    Do you all think it is okay to email a scanned document that contains the last 4 digits of my SSN? I used a gmail, and in the past I have sent scanned job application documents that contain my whole SSN, and I have not encountered any problems with my SSN so far.

    1. Robyn

      What else is on the document? If that’s the only identifying information, I wouldn’t sweat it.

      If it also has your DOB and similar, I wouldn’t.

      1. BRR

        Side note, don’t put your full date of birth on FB. People can figure it out if you put your month and day then have your graduation year on there.

        Also there’s a commercial on for life lock, so I recommend that.

        1. De Minimis

          Ugh, I had to tell my mom to quit putting so much of my personal info on there, she had my full DOB which I had made sure to not have on there, and I think we had a time figuring out how to get it off. I ended up just doing a phony DOB.

        1. Revanche

          I really wouldn’t if there was a way to avoid it. With those three bits of info a hacker could easily access lots of your accounts because financial institutions etc don’t ask for the full SSN, just the last four digits, your name, DOB and maybe address. The address is super easy to find.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I’ve done it when I had to. NOT happy about it. The only other thing I could think of was to send the doc and in a separate email or phone call send the last 4 digits. For a thief, it would take a bit to pair the two up and there are easier people to nab.

  12. Sandrine (France)

    Hi all. I need smiles. I may get some today because I have an event to go to, but how do you get to really really smile again when you *know* your country is just startin to explode ?

    With any luck, no more people will die, but given this week’s events here, sadly I would not be surprised if more did.

    T_T

    1. Stars and violets

      (((hugs)))
      I’ve been watching and reading about the events in Paris for the last few days and I am so sorry that you are having to go through that. It’s a very sombre time indeed. Best wishes.

    2. Sherm

      Here’s a smile :)

      We in the U.S. are with you all the way. And we know the awful feelings that come after a terrorist attack. But you grieve, you remember, and life goes on, and that certainly includes all that’s positive and joyful.

      1. Sandrine (France)

        Thank you!

        For some reason, one of the support messages that moved me the most was John Kerry (I know, I know) because he did it in French. I was like “whoaaah”.

        Then I moved to my Twitter and realized that some of my favorite celebrities tweeted support. It’s not much, really, but it was quite moving (Lee Pace, Richard Armitage, Elijah Wood, Arthur Darvill to name the ones that struck me the most, though having Ellen and Swart..Scwar…aaaaaaaaaah, Terminator ? -sorry- tweet support was kinda cool too) .

    3. Apollo Warbucks

      The recent events in France have been absolutely terrible, but you are not alone there are many countries around the world that share the pain and suffering with you and will offer what support we can.

      It was truly inspiring to see the shear volume of people who took to the streets to show their support for each other.

      The UK has suffered its share of terrorist atacks over the years, and the aftermath is always hard to deal with, but you will come out of it stronger and more united than ever. The vast majority of people want to live
      together peacefully and that will win out over fear and terror.

      vive le France!

    4. Not So NewReader

      Sending out internet hugs and please, KNOW for a fact, that the whole world is grieving with you. And know there are millions of people praying for those living in France.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      Vive la France!

      Hopefully no further tragedies will occur, Sandrine and I’m glad you are ok and hope that any other French AAMers are too.

      What always strikes me in these things is that all it takes is a simple twist of fate like – you’ve changed your going to work routine or you decide to make a meal where you need to get specific ingredients from a specialist supermarket – and you’re in that situation. Scary.

    6. Computer Guy Eli

      Get ready for the most American thing you will probably ever hear ever.

      How can you smile? Smile because you’re winning. Smile because your country is being attacked by another over jealousy. Jealousy over the fact that you are more free than they can ever hope to be. Your country laughs at the concept of censorship, and they hate that. They’re reacting to a visceral fear of something being stronger than them because you aren’t afraid like they are.

      They’re bullies on a playground. A playground that they’re only on because they’ve been held back for five years. This is the time to show pure, unbridled patriotism at the strength of your country. It’s a tragedy that those innocent people had to die, and the world grieves with France, but understand what this is. It’s a two-year-old throwing a tantrum because he didn’t get what he wanted, and he wants to be France.

      1. Jazzy Red (White & Blue)

        +1

        If we give in to these people, everything will only get worse. They need to know that while they can hurt us, they can’t kill our spirits.

        Freedom for everyone!

    7. Liane

      I am so sorry & I am praying for your country. It may not make you smile, but do remember that all the good people in the world hurt, deeply, for France right now. And Americans have felt the same terrible grief at domestic and foreign terrorist attacks on our soil. We are with you. I cannot attend today due to weather, but I have no doubt there will be prayers raised in my church for France. My Facebook page includes many, many posts from an old friend who is appalled by the tragedies; indeed I learned of the Charlie Hebdo & grocery attacks first from posts of hers. She is in our Foreign Service (not in France), but this is personal sympathy.

    8. Dolly

      Sandrine, I was thinking about you all last week. I even looked for posts to see how you were doing.

      I’m so sorry for you and your countrymen. No one should have to endure those barbaric acts. France is strong, and you will come together to defend your liberties. Good always wins, in the long run.

      Your friends in America are standing by your side.

    9. Ludo

      A friend of mine on Facebook posted this, perhaps it will make you smile?

      “Dear France, We saw the news and we’re sorry. I know we say we hate you, but it is only because we love you. Two sides of the same coin and all that. We’ll defend you, as you have defended us. Love, America.”

      I thought it was a cute tongue-in-cheek way of saying that America and France may have a bit of a love/hate relationship at times, but we have a history that goes back to the earliest days of America and our relationship runs deep. Over the years we have helped each other overcome every obstacle in our paths and this will be no different.

      Smile today Sandrine because the world is with you. One small group of petty cowards could never bring France to her knees.

      Vive la France!

    10. Mimmy

      (((hugs))) Sandrine

      It’s been a terrible week in France and you all are in my thoughts. As the others have said, the world is behind you <3

    11. justine

      Maybe listen to the song “Smile.” Jermane Jackson’s version at his brother’s funeral (i know that’s sad) is my favorite.

    12. nep

      Condoléances au peuple français. Et à tout ceux qui aiment la liberté.
      Nous sommes de tout coeur avec vous. Du courage. Vous surmonterez.
      Vive la France.

    13. The Maple Teacup

      Here is a smile to you in the form of (what I think) is the most beautiful song created by humanity. It’s called I.S.S . (Is Somebody Singing) by Col. Chris Hadfield and the Barenaked Ladies. This version was recorded simultaneously between the International Space Station and Earth. Even if it’s not your preferred music style, THAT is darn cool. I felt compelled to listen to it a few times after Corporal Nathan Cirillo was killed in Ottawa.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvAnfi8WpVE

  13. The IT Manager

    Getting old sucks. I have no cartilage in one knee and it aches after almost any slightly moderate physical activity and if I straighten it too much (acts as if it was hyper-extended).

    And I just noticed that I now have flat feet after not having them a few years ago. And a google mentions one cause is damage or inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon which I think explains the random, intermittent pain I had in my ankle over the past few years. A pain that I did mention to a doctor at one point, but that conversation didn’t go anywhere. I had actually tried to use anatomy images to figure out what was hurting, but got nothing useful.

    I used to be a runner and regularly ran 5Ks for a few years. But now I can’t walk a 1/8 of a mile slowly without my feet hurting afterwards. It’s messing with my self-image as someone who is fit because I’m not now and I am beginning to think I won’t ever be able to get back there.

    I am forty now and my body started falling apart a few years back; although, I didn’t see the problems as more minor problems until now but it all adds up to not being fit and my body not cooperating enough to allow me to return to fitness.

    1. Not So NewReader

      You are still young enough to do a lot to help yourself, though. Get thee to a chiropractor- preferably one that uses nutrition, diet and numerous other tools. You don’t want someone that solely relies on chiropractic to do everything. Even a half-baked attempt at helping ourselves will STILL give us some level of results.

      If you decide to call a chiro, tell them briefly your situation and ask if the doctor has any experience handling this type of problem. If yes, then this is your starting point.

      I am 54, FWIW. When I was age 3, the medical “doctor” wrote me off as dead. I grew up thinking there had to be something else out there. I’d like to encourage you to keep looking and keep trying.

    2. Cristina in England

      Allow yourself to a lot of money on specialist shoes for your particular needs. I only have mild foot problems but in the wrong shoes, it adds up and I get ever-present foot pain. Barking Dog Shoes is a blog that might help! It’s barkingdogshoes. com

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I second the good shoe suggestion, but first, go to a podiatrist. They deal with ankle issues too, especially when they affect the feet. I used to have terrible foot pain, and orthotics and the right shoes have helped immensely. In my case, the extreme tightness in my calves was exacerbating mild plantar fasciitis, so I got some stretching exercises and inserts and all was well.

      Physical therapy can help a lot, too. In addition to my general foot issues (I supinate and have high arches, good times!), I fell last year and broke my foot in three places and my ankle in two. All tiny stress fractures. Without my physical therapist, I never would have healed.

      No matter what, good luck!

      1. Mimmy

        I think my feet are similar to yours. My arches are extremely high and I’ve walked with my feet outwards. I’ve had my share of twisted ankles and skinned knees :(

    4. fposte

      Nthing a physical therapist or a trainer. You want somebody sports-meddy who’s interested in getting you back moving, not just somebody who thinks it’s great you can still shuffle yourself to the buffet. It’s not really a doctor thing at this point unless you get a fairly unusual doctor.

      I suspect both of the things you’re talking about could be helped by targeted strengthening and maybe stretching, because that’s pretty common with those kinds of problems–you get amazing stability from stronger muscles. I almost avoided spine surgery just by getting my glutes hammer-hard :-).

      The Gait Guys have some flat foot entries and videos in their tumblr–I’ll post links separately, and you can have a look and see if they speak to you.

    5. GOG11

      Hi IT Manager. I’m so sorry you’re having all these issues. I’m in my mid-20s, but the cartilage in my left knee began to deteriorate in my late teens. My legs have always hyper-extended (yay hypermobile joints) and this knee has given me trouble for years. Despite these issues, I’ve been able to run 20 miles at a time. I used to keep my mileage much lower because I couldn’t get past a certain number of miles without a lot of pain. But then I did and I kept it up and I stopped having such achy knees (except when I don’t sleep enough. Sleep deprivation goes straight to my knees). Point is, I thought I was limited to X miles for the rest of my life but I’m not.

      I haven’t done this myself yet because I can’t afford it at the moment, but maybe you could make an appointment with a doctor in the appropriate area (not sure if that’s an ortho doctor or a physical therapist or what) who is a runner or treats runners. Many doctors just say “stop running” when you really honestly don’t have to stop running.

      Aside from this, I have asthma that I’m struggling to get under control at the moment. Yesterday, I cried through the tail end of my walk on the dread mill because it was SO. DAMN. HARD. to walk 2 miles. Where is the body that ran 20 miles? Where are the lungs that could handle that? And why won’t they just cooperate?! Obstinate lungs

      Please don’t resign yourself to no longer running if you don’t want to. If you can, find a doctor to help you get these issues resolved and get back out there!

    6. Jazzy Red

      omg, you’re only 40 and you have these problems? As someone who gets senior citizen discounts without asking for them, I urge you to not just settle for this.

      You need to get this taken care of now, before you become permanently disabled. You are much too young to just shrug this off as “getting older”. You may not be able to do everything you used to do, or do them in the same way, but you can improve your situation. The first 3 commenters have good suggestions. Take them to heart and get moving again (hopefully with no pain!).

    7. The IT Manager

      Thanks! I appreciate the support and suggestions. I thought that I need to see a podiatrist, but I appreciate the suggestion of a chiropractor, Rolfer, or a doctor that will take a look at the whole situation. I’m going to research my options. I do suspect there’s something out of alignment in my lower body which is contributing to these problems. I think I have been sitting back and not dealing with each little thing because its not debilitating by itself and dealing with doctors and insurance is such a pain. But it’s my health and I have to take control!

      1. Not So NewReader

        It is amazing what alignment issues can do inside the body. It’s so interwoven, I cannot describe. But I have had times where a pain in my hip was actually my jaw out of alignment. Am shaking my head- if I hadn’t seen it first hand, I am not sure if I would believe it.
        Beings are amazingly intuitive at self-diagnosis. Since you feel something might be out of alignment that might be a great place to start to figure this out.

      2. TL -

        I’d suggest a physical therapist and a sports doctor, if you can see one – good sports doctors will say “What level do you want to get to?” and then tell you the risks/work of getting there.

        PT covers everything a good chiro does, but you have a much better chance of finding ones that are solidly committed to science-based medicine.

        Also, running is really, really awful on the joints. Not saying you can’t do it, but maybe talk to your medical professional of choice about other methods of exercise – swimming, for instance, is generally much better on the joints.

    8. nep

      This has to be super frustrating.
      Keep in mind there are still a lot of things you can do to build/maintain fitness and strength that do not involve impact on the feet.
      Wishing you all the best.

  14. Maygan

    LOVE your work-related articles! I do have a non-work related issue. What is going on with animal rescues? I love animals and truly connect with them. I have rescued 2 dogs and got another one as a puppy who passed on her 8 month birthday. My dogs are/were my best friend. Lately, I have found that some “Animal Rescues,” are not really about the welfare of the animal but whatever agenda that they have not “nicely” posted as their objective statement. As in the rescued animals are provided expired food, collars that are about the break (which doesn’t work for a Shephard mix who likes to go after squirrels), up the adoption fee when someone actually wants to adopt a Pomeranian because they had lost theirs a year before, asks the person who has agreed to having a 3 day home visit to see if the new loved one works with them to take the dog for an additional two weeks, dogs are “vet-checked” yet get worms shortly after. What is going on? Maybe my expectations of animal rescues is obscure. It is my dream to open an animal sanctuary where any animals that come my way can stay, if they are adopted to their homes that is fine, otherwise they have one and I would provide for them the same as I do for my animals now, with not expired food, proper vet care, warm home, etc.

    1. PoorDecisions101

      My cousin took in a rescue dog which the shelter claimed to be about two years old. Turns out first time they took him to the vet, apparently the dog’s got a chip and he’s over six years old. No way the shelter wouldn’t know, since they’re supposed to be vet checked. Either he wasn’t vet checked or they were lying to get him out the door earlier.

      I always thought my next dog would be a rescue dog, but from shelter practices, I’m not so sure.

      1. Maygan

        Thanks for the thoughts. I don’t discount the animals because of the rescue but I have no faith in most rescues. I have found that the the four-legged loved ones that have come my way or I have had the chance to interact with have been a blessing in my life, regardless of where they are from. What I do not like and can’t believe is that rescues are bringing in dogs or cats to make money. I thought rescues were about helping animals that have lost their home or gone through some bad experiences and need that forever home. The rescue I posted about actually claims, that they don’t usually take in kittens, yet had a large litter ready to be adopted at Christmas….money, money, money.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Follow the money.

      It’s a running joke (okay, it’s running snark) about how it costs $300 to rescue a dog. It should not cost that much for me to do a good deed.

      I got a new pup a few years ago and it was over $300. I also had to drive over an hour one way to get to the rescue place. I did stop at SPCA but did not find what I was looking for. One dog was close to what I wanted but there was a man helicoptering that dog. I figured he had already picked it out. So I moved on.

      The only thing I can say for the place I went to is that it has a good reputation for having nice animals. We have way more pets in this country than we have homes for these pets. There is a cat rescue north of me that cannot accept any more cats – I think they have 600 already and the animals are not going anywhere.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        The expense isn’t just for picking up the dog, though. Unless I’m not quite following you… I adopted from a rescue and paid a solid fee to adopt my buddy. That fee covered transport from the shelter state to the rescue state (my rescue takes dogs from kill shelters in the south and fosters them up north), vet exams, neuter or spay, vaccinations, food, the dog’s personal supplies (leash and collar), and support for the organization. I think the rescue takes about half the adoption fee for general supplies (crates and food for fosters, marketing, paperwork, office space). I was happy to pay that fee and I donate to the rescue as often as I can.

        I adopted from a rescue (a reputable one) because I wanted to get a good idea of the dog’s temperament, preferences, etc. My buddy’s rescue has an excellent, dedicated network of fosters who do amazing things with these poor dogs who, in many cases, have never been inside a house. Reputable rescues are wonderful organizations.

        1. Samantha

          Yep. I think our dog’s adoption fee was $285 and that covered a vet visit, vaccinations, microchipping and neutering. And of course it helps cover some of the shelter’s expenses – staffing, food, etc. I didn’t mind paying it one bit. If we had picked our dog up off the street, we would have probably spent close to that amount having our own vet provide all those services. There are certainly some sketchy rescue organizations out there, but there are some great ones too.

          1. LisaS

            Yes, the good rescues charge fees that only partly cover their costs, which makes them need to do fundraising as well. I adopted my older 2 cats from a good local rescue, and they came to me spayed, innoculated, tested for long-term viral diseases like feline leukemia *and* without behavioral issues. Each cat’s fee was $125, I think. When I rescued a 4-wk old stray from my yard a few years later, I spent about $600 on him initially and then another $100 2 months later to get him neutered. Made the older two look like bargains, cost-wise, at least. So yeah, there are costs, and a good rescue will both charge them & be up front about what they cover…

          2. NM anon

            We adopted from a non-local city animal shelter. We drove an hour and a half to the shelter and picked out the pup (we saw her online, so we knew she was there). We paid $150 “spay deposit,” which would be returned to upon proof of spaying or if you used one of the 2 local vets, they would transfer the money directly to them. They also gave you a coupon for a free vet check up at one of those locations. However, the facility does not have a vet on staff, so you’re taking a risk with the health of the dog or cat. I picked her out on Wednesday, she was a super happy puppy (about 5-6.monhs old), picked her up on a Friday. Took her to a vet that day; used one of their suggested vets. Thw vet gave her clean bill of health…. She vomited all the way home and had horrible diarrhea. Turns out she had parvo!!! *She pulled through and is doing wonderful* The shelter was actually closed a few weeks later for over a month because of a parvo/distemper outbreak. I’m sure they put all the animals dow. I’m just glad we got my girl when we did & she made it. I would much rather pay a higher price and know the dog I’m adopting is healthy!

        2. Maygan

          I think you have highlighted the problem with animal rescues. The “adoption fee, ” configured by rescues is ill configured. There is a local Humane Society that has a straight adoption fee that does not include…
          ” That fee covered transport from the shelter state to the rescue state (my rescue takes dogs from kill shelters in the south and fosters them up north), vet exams, neuter or spay, vaccinations, food, the dog’s personal supplies (leash and collar), and support for the organization. I think the rescue takes about half the adoption fee for general supplies (crates and food for fosters, marketing, paperwork, office space). ” But includes an adoption fee, administration fee, and a welcome home package. I find rescues are using that they are getting animals from high-kill shelters as a marketing tool.

    3. fposte

      I think sometimes animal rescues can draw on people with animal hoarding inclinations without meaning to. And, of course, they have the problems of any loose confederacy of volunteers, which is a significant flake percentage; that probably rises when you throw something as enticing of animals into the mix.

    4. Liane

      It is not uncommon to run into problems like yours, including for people who already have rescue pets. Rescuers turning into hoarders is becoming more common. If you really want to read more on this go to Slate dot com & use the site search for Emily Yoffe Pet Adoption. “No Pet For You” should come up at the top . (Also works with Google & Yahoo searches. I do my homework)
      When we get a dog, we are going through the municipal shelter, which has a very good reputation. And only a $90 fee that covers exams, shots, spay/neuter, etc. I got wary of our local rescues over 2 things–first, the volunteers didn’t pay a lot of attention to anything–not us or the dogs. Second, when I checked the websites (repeatedly over a period of months), it was always the same few animals. Yes, I know it was a rescue that keeps/fosters pets until they are adopted, but shouldn’t there be some new ones, with all the need out there?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        That’s another thing– while it takes time and resources to update a website, a good rescue will keep their websites (or Facebook pages) constantly updated with photos. Sometimes dogs take a while to get adopted (I have absolutely no idea why it took my amazing buddy over a month to get adopted, but it was lucky for us), and those who are harder to place require more pictures, updates, etc.

        I was going to say that the best way to assess a rescue is to go to an event. You’ll see how the staff and volunteers interact with each other, potential adopters, and the dogs. These are all crucial, as you discovered.

        I should add that if anyone in the NYC area (or Philly or MA or CT, willing to go to Brooklyn to pick up a pooch) wants to adopt, look into Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue. They are thorough and wonderful. We made wonderful friends through our adoption and did a lot of volunteering when we lived in New York. The adoption fee is steep but so, so worth it.

        1. Maygan

          I found that the events the rescue puts on were marketing tools. Not successful in getting dogs adopted and not a measure of the rescue itself. They were money makers. You do get to meet the dogs :)

      2. BRR

        Your second point doesn’t seem like a good reason to avoid a shelter. Where I lived previously only one shelter rescued pitt pulls and some in the area wouldn’t adopt to renters. Both factors are contributors to the amount of time spent at the shelter.

        Your first point is a very good thing to look for in a shelter and part of the bigger idea of adopting from a good shelter. I adopted from a great shelter where the people knew a ton about each dog. I think if they don’t really pay attention you won’t get a good match. My dog is my first dog and if the people at the shelter weren’t really invested in the well being of the dogs they would have let me take any dog. I asked about one and they said he came from a rough home and needed someone who knew how to handle a dog like that.

      3. Maygan

        I completely agree. The rescue that I had talked about hardly updated the animals on their website unless they were “kittens they usually did not take in,” or small dogs. And the animals that are in one of their foster homes, which is 8 “foster” dogs, were not even on the animal rescues website.

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      While there are certainly bad shelters out there, keep in mind that most shelters and rescue groups are working with very limited resources. It’s not really fair to blame them for not doing things perfectly when they’re probably doing the best they can without enough time or money. (Expired food is bad, yes, but that says to me that they might not be able to afford enough food otherwise.) It’s very rare that someone is getting rich off this work; what you’re seeing is the result of not having enough funding for it.

      This is particularly an issue with many (not all) no-kill shelters; they end up either turning animals away, warehousing them without proper care and attention, and/or cutting the kinds of corners you see here, because they can’t do it better without more money/staff/time/space.

      There are way, way too many animals in need of help, and not enough resources in the rescue world to help them all the way they should be helped. I wouldn’t blame the rescues for that though (unless it’s a rare case where it’s truly hoarding or corruption or something like that).

      1. Maygan

        I appreciate your thoughts, as I read your postings (usually work-related) all the time. But I do believe that animals in these cases are not taken care of. The problem is rescues are not operating appropriately to provide for the animals in their care. The rescue that I mentioned kept going and getting more animals even though they were not providing proper nutrition, collars/leashes, etc. for the animals already in their care. A foster home has 8 foster dogs, are they walking them all every day? It is a red flag. I think that rescues have become not about rescuing the animal but about making it work in not the best way. These millions of rescue animals deserve proper nutrition, collars/leashes, vet checks, etc. at all stages of their lives.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Right, but I don’t think it’s because the people involved are callous or cruel; it’s because they don’t have enough resources for the job they’ve taken on. If the money isn’t there, it’s not there. That means they need to limit the number of animals they take in, or they need to euthanize. They’re not doing either, and thus you see these problems. It’s why no-kill shelters are problematic on this front; they’re just passing the problem on to shelters that are willing to euthanize. There are more animals in need of shelter than there are funds in the pool to care for them all adequately.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Where on earth are you getting that? Of course it’s not okay; it’s a tragedy. The problem is that there aren’t enough resources to care for all the dogs and cats who need homes. That’s not an okay thing, and there’s also no current solution to it.

              I worked full-time for six years on animal protection issues. I’m the last person who would say that’s okay.

      2. Maygan

        If you posted this on what has been discussed about animal shelters, I do question the validity of your work-related articles.

        1. Maygan

          I got it because you dismissed the welfare of dogs. There is SEEMINGLY not enough resources, but Mother Nature takes care of her own. Society seems to be missing that Animal Rescues are about the welfare of the animal and not the Rescue. That is where things are going wrong.
          I get that you have worked with animal protection issues, and I hope you do something with that besides say “well they do not have enough money.” I have dogs and realize how “much they need,” dogs need a few things…love, food, and stimulation. What is the cost of that? If there is snow, and you go out in it with your dog you have 2/3….love and stimulation; sometimes 3/3 because they eat the snow.

  15. Perpetua

    Yesterday I broke up with my boyfriend of 2,5 years. It sucks because he’s a really great guy, we had so much in common (possibly too much), and he was everything I thought I wanted, but there was this nagging feeling that it just wasn’t completely right that I’ve been feeling for more than a year and trying not to listen to, until I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. I think Captain Awkward’s posts about people who were in relationships/marriages with great people but with something still missing was the thing that finally broke me, however silly it might sound.

    Of course, NOW I can think only of the good things about him and us, and I can’t believe our whole world is disappearing.

    1. Stars and violets

      Captain Awkward has lots of sage advice.
      For reasons that made perfect sense to you, you decided to end your relationship. It doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a good relationship or that you didn’t have great times together. It just means that it wasn’t right for you now. So enjoy the happy memories. You were together for a goodly amount of time so must have plenty of happy memories. You’re bound to dwell on all the positive stuff for a while. It’s human nature. But that doesn’t mean you were wrong so resist the urge to second guess yourself.
      Time is your friend. Good luck!

      1. Perpetua

        Thank you, especially for the reminder not to second guess myself. I mean, I’ve been doing it anyway, but trying to keep in mind that I’m in no state right now to think about anything clearly, that second guessing it doesn’t mean that I made the wrong decision and that I didn’t do it easily or rashly or without much previous thoughts, so it obviously was the only solution I could see, and now I just need to get through it completely.

    2. Natalie

      Self care is HUGE in this situation. It sucks, sucks, sucks and there’s no way around that. What you can do is ease your own way.

      It may have been your (plural) whole world but it wasn’t your (singular) whole world. Grieve for the plural as long as you need to… And it is grieving. When you’re ready, celebrate the your-singular world.

      (General self care – sufficient sleep, food, activity, and comfort as needed. Reach out to your friends, no matter what your jerkbrain is saying. And be kind and forgiving to yourself.)

      1. Perpetua

        You’re right about the jerkbrain, I feel like being alone and staying in my bed forever, but I know that spending time with other people is usually helpful.
        And thank you for the difference between singular and plural, I’ve memorised that paragraph (and the “kind and forgiving” instructions) to repeat to myself as necessary.

    3. Dan

      Marriage takes a lot of work, and for it to succeed, you have to *know* that you’re with the right person. “Good enough” is “good enough” most of the time, but when it isn’t, it sucks, and usually means the relationship should be dissolved.

      Do you know what that thing is that is missing? If not, you’ll get closure if you can explore it and identify it. If you do, then stand proud for not “settling” for something that is less than you need.

      1. Perpetua

        Yes, that’s what I’m trying to remind myself, that sometimes it doesn’t work out even when you think/feel you’re with the right person, but feeling that you are *not* with them is a sure way to disaster, sooner or later, and sooner is better.

        I can’t really define the exact thing that is missing, but I am trying to work on it and put it in words. I’m also trying to allow myself to be ok with the fact that even if I can’t define the exact source of that feeling of “not it”, at least not right now, it is enough to have that feeling and listen to it (after trying living with it, persuading myself otherwise and all the other things that didn’t make it any better).

    4. Not So NewReader

      Picture a filing cabinet drawer filled with files. Picture that some one takes the file drawer out and dumps EVERYTHING on the floor. Now you have to pick it all up and put it back. But you decide that you’d like to update your filing system, reorganize it some and make it more relevant to your current needs/setting.

      This is what grief does. It takes all our memories and dumps them out on the floor for us to look at. Oh, what a mess- there’s this, that and the next thing. Slowly and carefully we pick up each memory and put it in a new place and use it in a different manner. Yeah, this is time consuming. It’s also an investment – it keeps our brains healthier in the long run and it causes us to reframe our experiences and find a sharper definition of who we are. This almost never comes without pain, though. Respect your process. The time it takes is the time it takes. Cry when you need to. Speak gently to yourself. Will you always remember this time? Yes. You will never forget. Allow it to shape you in good ways.

      1. Adonday Veeah

        This is the most amazing description of the grief process I’ve ever read. Thank you for this.

      2. Perpetua

        Yes, this is beautiful and somehow tangible and it…helps. I’ve been retelling the story to people around me and repeating it to myself and having something to hold on to, this idea of rebuilding, reshaping and refocusing, makes me a bit more hopeful in this difficult time. Thank you sincerely for this.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      Perpetua, I was you exactly a year ago, give or take a week, even down to the 2.5 years we were together (we lived together).

      It does take time but try to concentrate on something to look forward to. Do you have any plans in the coming month or 2? If you have the time/money, I’d suggest going somewhere, even just for a weekend.

      In the month or so before I actually did break up with him, I planned a holiday to see my favourite band play a concert in Paris. It gave me something to hold on for, when things were awful. Part of the reason I looked forward to it so much is that had we stayed together, I’d never have gone (Paris is over 800 miles away – and I don’t fly!). I started volunteering, made new friends, was a better friend to my older friends, changed my job…all since I broke up with him.

      So, wallow, grieve, eat tons of chocolate but ultimately, be happy in that you chose this decision and own it. Make it work for you.

      1. Perpetua

        I had plans to move out on my own for the first time in the next week or two, and I was looking forward to it (with some fear as well), but now I’m thinking that it might be good to postpone those plans for a little bit, at least a week, two weeks or a month, until I get at least somewhat on my feet, so that I’m not alone in a new space while hurting this much. I’ll see how I feel about it in a couple of days, then decide.

        But yes, I’ll try to make some short-term fun plans.

        I’m guessing you are overall happier now?

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          I am – and it did take time, even though I was the one who broke up with him – and some of the change has been incidental, such as my new job, I mean I knew I needed one anyway but I needed one quicker because I was on my own and had one paycheck and not 2. But when I think back on our relationship now, I know I did the right thing and I wouldn’t go back and change it. I say that, but we did have a summer fling…don’t do that.

    6. Sarah in DC

      This is kind of weird because I am in almost the exact same situation. I broke up with my boyfriend of almost 3 years yesterday and it really really sucks. He’s an amazing guy and I love him, but he isn’t the right person for me to spend the rest of my life. So far what is working for me is accepting that I get to be sad and heartbroken too, even if I’m the one who broke it off and allowing limited wallowing before I have to go back to being a competent adult tomorrow. Make sure you are doing what you need for you and take advantage of your support network-let them help you. I really didn’t want to have to tell people about the breakup but it felt really juvenile to have my best friend tell our social circle. Eventually she convinced me that I should let her help me and that I don’t have to deal with all the fall out myself, so I’m trying really hard to let people support me. Internet hugs from someone in the same position.

      1. Perpetua

        Thank you, knowing that someone is in the same position (many someones always are, but I mean getting in contact directly like this) is oddly comforting. I’m sorry for your loss as well, I hope that both of us will come through this happier and stronger. You’re right, I’m working on accepting that it is normal to feel incredibly lost and sad and broken, and that it is just something I have to go through, no workarounds. There is sadly no fast forward button or a magic wand, as much as I might wish for it, just like I wished for myself to feel more in love, but it just doesn’t work that way.

        Hugs right back at you, I hope to see you around with updates how it does get better, for both of us. :)

  16. Treena Kravm

    I’m hoping to spend 6 weeks in Quebec this summer working on my french skills. I’ve been looking at language schools, but does anyone have any recommendations? Or things to look for in general when shopping language schools?

    1. rae

      I’m not familiar with specific schools, so only have general recommendations for choosing one. I’m not sure about your current level of french or familiarity with quebecois vs standard french, but you may want to take into account how strong the accent is when choosing the location within the province. I speak an advanced level of french, but even though I am canadian I have a tough time with a stong quebecois accent because I learned the language in france. Also, look at the school’s approach to learning, and how it matches your goals – do they focus more on grammar? On verbal communication? On written work? What are the size of the classes? Do they have a lot of levels, or do they mix a rather broad range of abilities together? Are there opportunities for 1-on-1 classes if you want? The other part to consider is the social side. What is the average age of students in the summer? Are there social activities or excursions organized by the school? Overall, it’s just about what best matches your specific goals.

  17. anon718

    Has anyone used crowdfunding for personal, yet non-emergency reasons? Thoughts? I don’t want to look like I’m asking for a handout.

    I’d like to start freelancing independently. I’m confident in what I would be doing, but I would have close to $1800 in unavoidable startup costs before I could even start doing this. It would be well over a year from now before I would have that money saved.

    But as it is I barely make a living wage in a very expensive city, and I have other major expenses that I must take care of before anything else (moving, dental.)

    I would love to do this part time to supplement my income and keep my skills fresh, as well as a backup for potential full time work if I lose my current job. I would like to expand on it in the future as well. I have serious problems finding full time work because of my disabilities.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Please don’t do it. If it will take you over a year to save up the money, then I strongly suggest you wait a year. If it’s a true business cost with a true business plan, then try a bank loan (I don’t know much about the specifics, but with decent credit I imagine you could get a nominal small business loan.) I would bet that the people you would be crowdfunding are in similar situations– expensive city, not making a lot of money, with major expenses. Many people have a problem saying no, and you could end up with resentful friends.

    2. Elsajeni

      I think this is something that works best if you’re in a position to already have fans/an audience of some kind — for instance, I know a few artists who have done “Let me quit my day job and do art full-time for a year” crowdfunding drives, and it’s worked for them because 1) they already have enough of a reputation as an artist that people donating have confidence that they’re donating to something that will actually happen, and 2) the people donating are, in a small way, getting something out of it, even if it’s just “I will get to see more cool art by an artist I really like.” I think it will be trickier for your situation, where it sounds like, as confident as you are that it’ll work out, it’s something you haven’t done before, and also that it’s not something like “make more art” where your donors will get something out of it — but for a relatively small amount of money like $1800, with a good pitch that addresses why you want to do this and why you’re confident that you’ll be able to, I think you can pull it off.

    3. just laura

      What are the costs? Can’t you start picking up gigs on the side? Sure, it’s a hassle but that might accelerate the timeline. I grabbed a freelance job and it was great. Good luck to you.

  18. matcha123

    I don’t know how to classify this, but I don’t make a lot of money. Probably under 30k at the current exchange rate. I send home money every month to pay for my loans. Every time. Every. Single. Time. I get a bit saved up, some sort of family emergency comes up and I have to send over whatever I can.

    My mom just emailed me a picture of her broken tooth. I can’t count how many times this has happened. She doesn’t get taxes taken from her paycheck, and she doesn’t make a lot, so I end up having to help with that. She needs a massive amount of dental care, but she doesn’t qualify for it. She can’t go to the university because she has outstanding bills there.

    I feel like the person above me; can I start a crowdfunding thing?
    This is too much for me to handle and I don’t have any family members to call on for help. It seems like people are so willing to help someone who’s got debt due to incredibly bad decisions, but they are unwilling to help people who have debt through bad luck.

    Without winning the lottery, getting some kind of help, or throwing my life away I don’t see any answer. And if it was just something recent, I guess I could hope that there was some light at the end of the tunnel, but this has been going on for most of my life. I really do not know what to do.

    1. Not So NewReader

      I am so sorry this is happening to you.

      Am I recalling correctly that you are not in the US?

      I know with medical debt here, if you send them five dollars a month they pretty much have to accept that is the best you can do. (That’s a long story made very short.) Perhaps in exchange for a workable payment plan on what she owes, the university would do the current necessary work. Nothing replaces talking to them in person and showing an intention of working at the problem. This is very powerful stuff.

      Taxes. She does not get taxes withheld? She does not make a lot? So perhaps she is paying too much for the taxes she does pay? Maybe that would be worth looking into.

      Do you feel you must pay her bills because of your own debt? Can you get your own bills sent to your current address so you can pay them directly? Can you do something to get a temporary reprieve on what you owe?

      You don’t have to answer here, I do realize this is personal stuff. I am just trying to offer brain food.

      You are right, though. This is not sustainable for you. And you are right to start looking at ideas for a different plan. It sounds like you are trying to take good care of your mother. But if your finances go belly up in the process then you will be of no value to her problems. You must keep yourself afloat first.

    2. Stars and violets

      I’m sorry you’re having to go through this. I don’t have much to offer except sympathy. Could you renegotiate your loan schedule so that you pay less each month but over a longer period? It might give you some breathing space.
      Also, I think it’s wonderful that you are so supportive of your family but you say this has been going on for a long time. I don’t know your circumstances or your family but could it be that it might be time for you to draw back a little and let them find some other source when they need financial help?
      Good luck!

      1. matcha123

        Thanks for the reply, and urgh, don’t know why my first reply didn’t go through correctly…!

        In this case, there really is no one else. I totally understand the need for me to have something for myself and to be able to enjoy some freedom myself, but at the same time, I can’t really just throw my mom to the curb. While she doesn’t admit it, I know my sister resents my mom for not giving her the family she wanted, and now that she’s old enough to do her own thing, she’s put distance between herself and my mom…leaving me as the person in the middle.

        My loan repayment is about as low as it’s going to be per month, and it’s affordable for me. If I can pay it off this year, all I would have to worry about is sending a lower amount per month for living expenses, vs. loan and expenses.

    3. Colette

      What would happen if you said “sorry mom, I don’t have the money right now”?

      If you could easily afford it, I’d say you should help, but it sounds like helping is putting your own future at risk, so you should stop except for true (life threatening) emergencies.

      1. matcha123

        Most of the times I hear about the money issue when it’s reached it’s worst case; “Don’t have money to pay this month’s rent,” “Need to move into a new apartment because the lease wasn’t renewed and I need X for deposit but only have J,” “Half of my face is swollen and I need to get to the doctor…”

        Usually until that point I’ve been trying to save what I can, but what I do have has to be sent because…well, you could die from a tooth abscess and I can’t let my mom be homeless…

        1. Colette

          Would she be homeless, though? Or would she figure something out?

          Could she get a second job, for example?

          What happens when you’re the one who needs help?

          1. matcha123

            In that case, she really would have been. My sister, who has a house, was totally silent during both of those times. One place didn’t renew the lease and she scrambled to find a new place in a short period of time, and the other place was so cold that the water in the toilet froze, the heating bills were massive and the water sometimes stopped working.

            She has been looking for a second job to get some income for her upcoming taxes. But, she does do a lot at home to meet deadlines for her current job. However as far as I can tell she isn’t paid for all of the hours she puts in for…whatever reason.

            1. Colette

              Here’s the thing – when a lease isn’t renewed, there usually a reason. “I broke my tooth” may be an emergency, but “I didn’t deal with the bill from the last time I had a dental emergency” isn’t.

              I kind of think you’re buying in to her version of events – and she sees herself as a victim. I also think you believe you’re helping her, when you’re actually enabling her while putting yourself at risk. In other words, she doesn’t have to pay her bills, because you’ll do it for her when it gets bad enough.

              “I didn’t pay my rent” isn’t an emergency – it’s poor planning. “I choose a poor apartment” is her responsibility.

              I think you resent your sister for bowing out and leaving this to you, but I actually think she’s made the healthier choice, and you can make the same one. Your mom will survive – and so will you.

              I agree with ExceptionToTheRule – get counselling to figure out how to deal with setting boundaries.

              1. matcha123

                The reason for the lease non-renewal was…most likely a race thing as far as I know. The rent was always paid on time and she doesn’t have people over or pets. She keeps her place clean, too.
                But, she has bad credit and debit. The only places she can afford to live in are pretty shady.

                The place she’s at now is better, but when she moved in, the neighbors came over to tell her that the owner didn’t like people of X race, of which my mom is a member. And the owner herself was very wishy-washy about renewing the lease (on this current place) until literally days before saying she’d renew it.

                Unfortunately, there aren’t many housing options for low-income singles. The ones that are available aren’t that nice, but, again, better than being homeless.

                The tooth is chipped…but based on the picture she sent me, it looks like it split in half to the root. The last tooth that chipped became abscessed and half of her face was swollen.

                It’s been a long road for her to get good employment. But the place she currently works at has bounced paychecks and other things, but she needs the money and it’s in her field. I’ve encouraged her to stick it out until she can find a better place that at least provides insurance and treats its employees better.

                As for my sister, I do somewhat resent her because she certainly had no problem using my money (via our mom) for her own things and making a big deal out of it if I said I couldn’t spare the cash. But, now that she’s got a boyfriend to lean on, and doesn’t need my money any more, she’s appointed herself as an expert on how to get a good job, etc. :(

                1. Dan

                  Wait, what? Your mom is sending your sister that you give to help your mom? That’s bs. There’s bigger things going on here as others are alluding to. Boundaries ar A Good Thing to learn here.

                2. TL -

                  If your mom was sending your money to your sister, she clearly didn’t need your money as bad as you thought she did.

                  Boundaries. If you had the money to help out easily, that would be one thing, but this is negatively affecting your life in a major way. Either send a smaller, set amount home each month (and tell your mom you’re tapped if she asks, noting you already sent your check and asking if she got it) or stop sending money.

                  It sucks. My mom just went through this with her mother and it’s been really, really awful, but my grandmother wasn’t willing to make the changes she needed to make and my parents weren’t willing to compromise on their one (1!), clearly stated and agreed to beforehand, requirement for supporting her.

            2. fposte

              Again, might be more going on than I realize, but it’s interesting to me that your answer to Colette’s “Would she really have been homeless?” was “Yes, because sister.” But I saw that question not as about whether there were other relatives who would save your mom but as about your mom’s finding other options–not what somebody would do for her, but what she’d do. It seems like your mom is kind of the child in these scenarios, who can only be rescued rather than being expected to do anything active. Is that maybe another reason why your sister has withdrawn some–that she’s drawing a boundary about helping your mother because the boundary is good, not because of resentment?

              1. matcha123

                Our mom is not white and was quite strict about studying and such when we were growing up. We also were not rich by any means, but got by. My sister’s friends were mostly white and had parents with very laid-back attitudes. Which, if you’re white, are fine to have because society is a lot more forgiving of mistakes made by white people. In my sister’s case, there’s been this tension between what I believe she sees as an ideal: Going out late with friends. Not telling your parent what you’re doing. Calling your parent a “bitch” or whatever, etc.
                This goes against everything my mom is about. While my mom is not from a foreign country, I would say that her way of thinking about family is one where the parent is the ultimate authority and not to be challenged and where family backs each other up.

                I think this style is in conflict, to a degree, with mainstream American society. Which is why I mention my sister. If my mom lost her apartment at that time, she would have had to live out of her car. As far as I knew, the city she was in at the time didn’t have any homeless shelters. And since she wouldn’t have had time to store much of her things, she would have had to throw them out.

                I understand the idea of creating distance to help yourself. But, I don’t think she’s looking to be rescued so much as she’s looking to have a family. I’ve asked my sister to just give her a call sometimes and chat about the weather or send some words of encouragement, but even that seems like too much for her. I haven’t asked her to give money or anything, though I do think they should just talk about their feelings.

                1. fposte

                  Yeah, that’s always frustrating.

                  But is your mom still giving her money? That’s not all on your sister, if so.

                2. matcha123

                  @ fposte,

                  No, she’s not. My sister was in university at that time. Sister did have a job post-uni until recently, now looking. Luckily for sister she has a bf so she’s not asking me or mom for any money. :)

        2. ExceptionToTheRule

          OP, please see about getting some therapy that will give you some coping mechanisms and a true outside opinion as you work through your feelings of obligation to your mother versus your desires for yourself. It’s hard to make the decision to distance yourself from a parent, but an outside opinion can really shine a light on how dysfunctional a relationship has become. You note that you can’t let your mom be homeless, but if you keep sending her your small amounts of savings, you’re one misfortune away from being in that position yourself.

          You indicate you’re employed, so there’s likely as EAP that can get you started with a therapist and you might be surprised how few times you need to go.

          OP, I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

          1. matcha123

            Thanks for the reply.

            I think this is a really complicated situation. In “normal” circumstances, there’d be two parents with loving extended family and friends and a safety network of trusted people. But, in this case, there’s none of that. I think we are all under a lot of pressure and don’t have a lot of people to turn to.

            Unfortunately, I’m not in the US and there aren’t many people for me to talk to. I guess my bit of therapy is from the posters kind enough to reply :)
            The country I’m in now expects children and parents to have a very supportive relationship. So, while I’m doing the “taking care of” earlier than most people my age here, the idea that you will give back to a parent is so ingrained in the culture here that in some ways it’s easy to talk out things with people here.

            1. Anon4This

              I am in a very similar position to you. My mother is single mother and my siblings are unavailable to offer even emotional assistance. There is no extended family. My mother sounds a lot like yours.

              It was emotionally difficult for me (feelings of obligation, guilt, etc) but a few years ago I had to say enough. I paid one last bill and told my mother I couldn’t do it anymore. She asked a few times after that and I referred her to church groups or offered to help her budget but stood my ground.

              It isn’t easy but it can be done. You just have to hold your ground.

              1. matcha123

                Thank you :)

                I know that she knows the church groups in her area and she has gone to them for assistance throughout the years. But, I’ve seen first-hand the type of “assistance” the ones in my hometown give out. Most of them require you to submit to drug tests (she has never done drugs or anything remotely close) show your bank statements, and it’s a huge process.

                I remember her going through it when I was younger and even after all of those steps, there was no guarantee of assistance. We used to do Food Gathers’ out of our place and would make bags for families in our old neighborhood, so now that I’ve remembered that I’ll try to remind her.

                1. Anon4This

                  It is a huge process but it is better than nothing and at a certain point, she needs to do for herself and get help other than her child.

            2. ExceptionToTheRule

              “Normal” is relative, I guess, but please keep in mind that you do have options. If you’re going to follow what you’ve described as your cultural norms and support your mother, then the two of you need to look at moving from the type of reactive relationship you’re describing in which you’re only dealing with crises as they arise, to a more proactive relationship that plans for how you & your mother are going to manage both of your lives.

              Maybe that means you re-evaluate your living situations. Is it feasible for you live together? Maybe it means an in-depth financial review of both of your incomes and debts and start making/following a budget that allows both of you to put a small amount of money away for emergencies.

              I think taking control of the situation would make you feel better because it would lessen the anxiety of wondering what the next hit is going to be and when it’s going to come.

              1. Treena Kravm

                This. You need to tell her that there can’t be anymore last minute stuff when she knew about it way in advance. It sounds like she either doesn’t want to bother you or doesn’t believe it’s a real problem until it is “all of a sudden,” despite the warnings being there.

              2. matcha123

                Since I’m living overseas, I can’t pack up and move in with her. Even before moving back, I’d need a savings cushion, which is not something I’m budging on. Moving in together with no savings and no job lined up is a recipe for disaster imo.

                @Treena Kravm,
                That’s pretty much it. She doesn’t want to ask me for help because she feels that she leans on me too much. So, she does what she can with what she has for as long as she can. When I ask if she needs help, she’ll say she’s fine and she’ll find a way and then finally it comes to a head. It’s lots of random things and bad luck (brakes go out; workplace computer is broken and they won’t fix it so she has to find a cheap one; trip to the emergency room; some random illness; workplace check bounces, shutting down her account and messing with her bill payments, etc.).

                1. Treena Kravm

                  Is it that she tells you about these little things, but insists that she doesn’t need help? If that’s the case, then I would pretend that you want to help and insist on it as a gift. “Oh, let me send you the money to fix your brakes, I’d be happy to.” That way you can choose when to give the money a bit more and then she’ll be less likely to get into the desperate situations. (We’re assuming the dynamic you’ve described, where your mom isn’t being manipulative. I think readers have had so many bad experience/heard stories of this same situation, but with the person not being responsible and manipulative to get money out of loved ones, they automatically jumped to that)

        3. fposte

          “Worst case” also means “most expensive case.” Maybe there’s more to it, but it sounds not fair to me, like your mom wants you to pay her delay-until-crisis tax for stuff that would be more affordable for you if you just saved up to cover her regular dental checkup, say, instead.

        4. Ludo

          I’m not sure where you live but, are there not some form of social services she might qualify for? Free or low cost clinics, housing assistance, etc?

          1. Anx

            She is a single adult with no dependent children in the US.

            There are very, very few social services for adults in the US. Clinics often turn away patients. What’s odd though is that social services will give you a number to a clinic and that clinic won’t be accepting new patients. Yet social services is still disseminating that number and acting as though they are directing the public to special programs that aren’t actually available. At least where I live (the southeast).

            1. matcha123

              Yes, this is correct. Even when I was younger and there were programs we qualified for on paper, agencies seemed to prefer to help the low-income stereotype: high school drop-out, recovering substance abuser with 3 or 4 kids. And she’s too young for “elder” help at the moment.

              @Treena Kravm
              You are also correct. She’ll tell me that something has happened, but insists she’ll find a way. I usually do like you say and insist on gifting it to her. Whenever I talk to her and ask what she’s eating it’s beans, rice and green leafy vegetables.

              Thanks to all for listening to my frustrations. It’s really made me feel a lot better.
              I feel less frustrated about the money because I know that she is working hard. It’s just the small things that others take for granted (having a parent to help out in tough times, or a spouse to lean on for support) are so important to future success that if you don’t have them the race to catch up is that much harder and longer…

              Thanks again, everyone :)

    4. Anon for this

      I had a whole response typed out, but it boils down to–you can let your mom be homeless. My friend has done this for his mom and while it’s awful, it’s all he can do to send her some money and let her shower at his apartment. He had to put the oxygen mask on himself first, you know? And hugs! This is really really hard.

      1. matcha123

        Luckily, I think she’s found a better place at this point. It was very rough for a while, especially when both of us didn’t have jobs. I was ticked at my sister for not even offering a room or anything.

        I have a lot of my old things at my mom’s place, so I do have a vested interest in making sure that my things are safe ;)

        1. Dan

          I’d be the sibling that would let my mother hang. We all have our reasons for the choices we make, but my mother is never going to come live with me, ever. She took early retirement after working part time for many years. IOW, not much money saved and very little social security. If she gets into a jam, is it my fault for not bailing her out, or hers for not putting away the financial resources ahead of time, when she can?

          So yeah. Bad planning on your part does not equal emergency on mine.

      2. Anx

        I think this depends on where she lives though. Many cities issue citations for sleeping on the streets or in cars. That could add court costs and the mother would lose her job (if she was able to keep it without maintaining her belongings in the first place).

    5. Revanche

      Late to this thread but this was very much my life for the past ~17 years. Trainwreck sibling was perfectly happy to live off my parents while being a total jerk to them. They hit hard times that I was sure was temporary because they always worked so hard I couldn’t imagine that they wouldn’t find a way. But. They didn’t. And things only got worse over the years. And I always felt obligated to help with everything that I possibly could, sacrificing my entire 20s for them. Culturally, we too are expected to support the older generation as repayment for their sacrifices but there are right and wrong ways to do it. I think your situation is similar to mine and it’s not very healthy.

      The only way out that I could see was to work extra hard to earn raises and promotions while secretly saving every penny I could squeeze out of the budget, and looking for ways to earn even a tiny bit of cash. And all of that ignored the problem that my parents’ actions and refusal to change their approach was the worst problem of all, over and above the actual lack of money.

      My dad has a ridiculous habit of pulling the same (Most Expensive) last minute emergency crap that you describe where your mom hates that she leans on you too much but makes choices that end up impacting you far worse than if you’d been involved earlier. I told my dad point blank that if he actually loved me& wanted not to lean on me in a way that was hurtful then he needed to discuss problems before they became emergencies.
      He took it so far that some long while ago he actually let the family car get repoed rather than tell me they were behind on payments. It cost me the remaining balance on the loan AND an extra $1000+ to get it out of impound. I was FURIOUS. We had it out but to this day he still hasn’t changed that attitude that he has the right to not tell me things that I keep having to pay for. It’s a long list of things he’d rather “find a way” to fix that ended up on my doorstep in the worst possible way.
      So…after many many years of struggle and heartache, I finally set some boundaries that I could live with because I refused to literally keep paying for his bad decisions. It’s bad luck to be stiffed by an employer. It’s a bad choice to not proactively address the obvious problems that ensue when you don’t have your expected income: late fees, finance charges, unpaid balances getting sent to collections or closing off an avenue of resource, etc. A bit of early help whether it’s to make phone calls or make minimum payments to help tide you over for a month or two can head off finding yourself on the hook for hundreds more than it would have been initially.

      Like you, I cannot let my parent be homeless. So I pay the rent. I pay for some utilities when I see he’s nearing shut off levels. That’s it.

      I know I can’t trust him to tell me the truth and that says to me that his pride is far more than his love for me and that’s not OK. It’s not OK that he jeopardized my future repeatedly by sucking every bit of help he needed out of me in a way that harmed me, and it’s not ok when he puts me and my family in a crappy position of having to carry his weight when he won’t fend for himself in things like dealing with his son who is a wreck and pretty messed up. All he does is act like a martyr “having to live like this” when in my opinion, he could help work towards a better future.

      At the end of a long story, you have to be the one to break the cycle in some way. I did in part by putting away some money that absolutely cannot be touched for anyone else’s emergency. . that money doesn’t even exist as far as anyone else is concerned.

      Remember: you can’t help anyone if you’re not taking care of yourself. Put on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else with theirs.

      1. matcha123

        Thank for your reply :)
        I don’t know if you’ll see mine, but it’s nice (don’t know if that’s the best word to use) to know that someone has some idea of where I’m coming from. I’ve had a lot of fights with my mom about bills and such. And, to her credit, she is getting better about telling me some things, but she also doesn’t want to burden me.

        Having a totally private account with some money is what I’ve started working on. I’m just really hoping that she can get the things she needs to move to a better paying job, which I know she is really working on.

        I guess, I feel sorry for her because she had to take care of her family and then me and my sister and I think that it just broke her at one point. It’s not fair for me to be the person any more than it was fair for her to be the person in her family. I just wish that I could rely on my sister for some support, not so much financial, but just being nice to our mom rather than blowing up every encounter.

        And if I can rant a little bit more, I sent over half of my paycheck home every month to help pay bills and help pay for ridiculous stuff like gas for mom to drive my sister to school because she didn’t want to take the bus in the morning. Then sending money to pay the insurance on the car and for broken brakes on a car that could have been sold, but my mom had to keep because my sister yelled and complained that all of her friends had their own cars. Of course she didn’t have a part-time job because she was doing sports, that I helped to pay for, but she expected that she’d just get a job and buy her own car and somehow pay for her own insurance…while being under 18. Then when she went to a far off university, it was my money that helped pay for the registration fees and the truck to take her stuff to the university and other times when she ran out of money. But all I heard from her was how awful I was for not going to her high school graduation, because I had work, and how she would have done everything herself. When she got her own job, she spent time complaining that mom would call to ask to eat together or help with moving things. Like, when she needed help the world had to stop but when other people needed help she was “busy.” And when she came here to visit me the first time, she spent hours on my phone calling collect to her boyfriend in the US and complaining that I made her come, which I never did. Argh!

        As soon as I mention any of this to her, she pouts and says that everyone blames her for everything and that she doesn’t want to talk about it and arghh!
        OK. Sorry to waste forum space on this.

        1. Revanche

          No, I know what you mean, it’s an odd sort of relief to know you’re not the only one in that situation, but you feel bad for being glad to have company in misery :) That’s why I blogged so much about money and family, incidentally, I didn’t have anyone I could talk to about the somewhat unique situation (among my peers) so I had to make my own space.

          I empathize even more – and if you’ll forgive me the presumption, I think that your sister is a similar type to my sibling: only has use for people if he/she can use them. So long as you’re useful they’re around, but once you’re not, they’ll leave. The thing I would warn you to be aware of is that these behaviors are manipulative and designed to keep you off balance. It’s hard to admit or accept that about a sibling but so much of what you describe has been my experience and you’re right to be frustrated by it. I would seriously encourage you to stop expecting/hoping for her to help at all and set boundaries that you will hold firm in case she comes back around.

          The second she doesn’t have a ready steady supply of whatever she wants, you’re very likely to see her back on your doorstep with all kinds of sob stories designed to get you to support her wants again because she’s used you successfully in the past. And that’s an emphasis on wants. Like you described with the car and university – she’s very clearly accustomed to getting her own way and is also clearly familiar with emotional blackmail. It’s not pretty and not at all pleasant to be taken in by it. :/

          It’s t0ugh enough dealing with your mom’s situation without your sister trying to milk you as and when it fits her desires – that’s caused no end of heartache for me. Wishing you all the best of luck!

  19. matcha123

    You are right, I’m not in the US at the moment. I think that they’d work out a payment plan, but I think that since the bill is so old it’s been taken over by a different collections agency. Until it’s paid in full, they won’t do any work. At least that’s my understanding.

    I think my mom’s listed as a “contractor” or something, so they don’t take out federal or state taxes. And in my case, my loan payments are connected to a US bank account and they won’t let me pay from overseas (U.S. government loan). I put my repayments on hold a few years ago when my job search hit 6 months and I ran out of unemployment.
    I’m at the point where if I work hard at it, I could pay off the remainder of my loan this year.

    I guess, in my case, if I didn’t spend any money on any unnecessary things, I could save a bit more. But, for various hard-to-explain reasons, I can go for a few weeks or a month being strict on expenditures, but after that I start getting panicky and distracted and end up spending money on something that I might not need, but makes me feel good.

    1. fposte

      Maybe you do, but it also sounds like you get distracted by having to pay significant money toward your mom’s expenses, and I bet that has more impact than whatever indulgences you’re talking about. I’d hate to see you blame yourself for a night out or a sweater that you could afford if you hadn’t sent your mom a thousand bucks or more.

      1. matcha123

        Thanks :)

        That’s about how I feel most of the time. We do have fights a lot, and I have known for a long time that this is not a position she wants to be in and it’s very humiliating for her. She’s a very smart person who’s had a lot of bad luck and has come a long way from her lowest point.

        With money, it’s difficult for me to know what’s an acceptable amount to spend on myself. I feel like I need to justify every purchase because people (not family) have said, “Well, if you don’t have enough money, how could you buy that?” For the past few years if anyone asks about any new thing I have, I have to talk about how I got it at a huge discount. (Love discounts, btw.)

        1. fposte

          That’s a problem that a lot of people have, even when they’re doing okay or even better financially. Do you have a budget? Does it have a category for “Fun” or something similar? Having a budget can be hugely helpful both in keeping you from spending too much and giving permission for you to spend on stuff that you could live without but makes your life nicer. I obviously don’t know your overall expenses, but in your situation I might, in addition to usual categories like housing, utilities, and food, have one for Mom as well as one for fun, and that might help you save up for expenditures in those categories so that the months you don’t treat yourself and Mom doesn’t need rent can pay off for you later when you have months of untapped spending in the Mom category, for instance.

          (I’m guessing that such “How could you afford that?” questions aren’t as rude in Japan as they would be here, because here–wow, I’d scorch that earth.)

        2. Kay

          Honestly… the “how can you afford this if you can’t afford that?” questions are just absurd. People have priorities. They CHOOSE what they will spend money on. There is not some standardized hierarchy of you must pay this before that. Some people like having really super fancy cars but live in really cheap neighborhoods because they spend a lot of money on their cars. Some people like to live in big fancy houses, but drive old beat-up cars because that’s the priority. It’s incredibly rude and inappropriate for anyone to make you justify your expenses/purchases to them if he is not the one financing them.

          As far as the situation with your mom… I really think you need to let her know that as much as you love her, you can’t afford to continue to send her money. I still think you should be there for her as a daughter, but there’s a difference between having a relationship with her and being her emergency bank. Would she send you money if you had something happen like a car accident or an illness? Presumably based on her financial situation, she wouldn’t be able to. There’s no reason you have to be able to. The next time something happens, I would recommend just telling her that you don’t have the money in savings to cover it. Empathize and try to help her find solutions, but don’t offer up your money. It’s yours and it’s so important for you to have an emergency fund.

      2. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, this is what I am sensing, too. Can you put small amounts aside for some little treats here and there? When we write budgets we are supposed to have money set aside as fun money. I have been through points in my life where “fun” was buying a cup of coffee once a week. The concept behind fun money is that if we are too stringent with ourselves then we just break, ending up buying all kinds of whacky stuff. Better to just factor in a small amount for fun on a weekly/biweekly basis, eh, we’re human.

        Is your mom in the US? Or am I reading too much between the lines?

        1. matcha123

          Right now, I’m at the point where I can start to see the light (loans paid off) and I’m figuring out how I want to save money from there. I spent most of last year saving for some surgery that I had, so that’s kind of knocked me down to square one.

          You’re right about the fun money, thank you for saying that. And yes, my mom is in the US and yes to fposte, it’s certainly not as rude to ask such a question here. The supervisor at my old job said that because I drank Starbucks coffee, it was proof that I didn’t need a raise. Of course he didn’t know I got one of the cheapest coffees they offered. The only coffee available at work was 60 cents for a small cup. It would have taken 4 or 5 cups to make one Starbucks coffee, which would cancel out any “savings,” but I digress.

          I’ve started tracking my spending this month using some free app I found. It does make me stop and think longer about what I’m looking at to ask if I really need it.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            If your mom is in the U.S., there might be options not yet tried for getting her help — church groups, local charities, tons of places that might be set up to help so that the full burden isn’t falling on you. Worth looking into what’s in her area? (I don’t mean to imply the same wouldn’t be true in other countries, of course. Just thinking about what I do know about the U.S.)

            1. matcha123

              Thank you :)

              I think that she’s placed her name on lists for low-income housing, but most places give preference to families, so I think it’ll be a long wait.
              I’ll ask her about the options you’ve mentioned. I know she looked into dental services a few months ago but stopped due to work.

              But, compared to East Asia, the US has a huge amount of support for low-income people and families.

  20. Carrie in Scotland

    Every time I have an assignment, I swear I’m not going to rush it and do everything the weekend before…but here I am, on AAM, commenting, not studying after waking up late (for me) when I have a 2000 assignment due on Thursday. I currently have 600 words, some of which makes sense. *sigh* I am aiming to double my 600 by tonight. The question is also horrible, in that it is so vague it could include anything and I hate it when I have so many options…

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Well the course I’m studying is called ‘The art of English’ which is about the English language…so my question is, discuss the following statement: ‘All literacy practices contain elements that could be seen as creative’

        1. Computer Guy Eli

          Oh god.

          Oh wow, I can see how you’d want to procrastinate on that.

          I’ve been to college all of one year, studying computer science, and I’ve never had a question like that.

          1. Carrie in Scotland

            Do you know what? I have no idea, as usual am just cobbling it all together and hope it turns out ok! But I’m talking about diaries, twitter/hashtags and…prison letters, I think. From what I can see of other people’s thoughts – and I love social media for this – most people seem to be mentioning ‘collaboration’ and how others influence creativity, which is why I’m mentioning twitter.

            1. GOG11

              It sounds like you’ve got the amount of focus you need now. Super vague prompts aren’t helpful unless you can find an angle. I studied English in college and always felt so much relief when I figured out my angle because I could finally make some progress.

            2. fposte

              The workflow for supervague questions, IMHO, turns out to be the same as for actual office work. Identify the steps and tackle them individually. In this case, it sounds like you’re already started tackling one step, which is “What am I focusing on?”

              I don’t know where and what level you’re studying and how long the essay is supposed to be, but in general, you’re better off going deeper with fewer subjects. Unless you have a guiding principle (beyond creativity) that links these three in a way that makes them different from other literature, I’d consider focusing on just one.

              1. fposte

                BTW, as a lit-based university level teacher myself, we don’t call these questions “supervague,” we call them “broad” :-). The point is for you to find your focus; that’s part of the skill they’re wanting you to develop.

            3. Computer Guy Eli

              Maybe they’re referring to the amount of ‘wordsmithing’ that can be done in everyday conversation? Like, for example…

              Perhaps the intention of this query is to derive one’s belief in such matters as literary conjecture. Practices that, in kind, can be considered as diurnal to one’s personal intent. Similarly, this can be conveyed as…

              Nah-mean?

            4. danr

              A thought… take it from the other direction. You’ve taken creative stuff and trying to fit them to ‘literacy practices’. Find some literacy practices that don’t seem creative and look deeper for creativity.

              1. Lady Sybil

                I’m trying to disprove this and it’s hard. A parking ticket, restaurant bill and application form seem uncreative, but I guess they all had to be thought of and designed. A well designed form should be simple and capture the desired information so creativity is needed on the front end in order to make filling it in simple.

                I don’t know if those items count as literacy practices. Another one could be road signs.

                My daughter has decided to not sleep again tonight so I’m sitting here in the dark nursery listening to her rolling around in her crib. And pondering your essay question.

        2. Liane

          Yea, I’d not want to do that one! I have scored language arts essays for years & it seems too broad. I saw below that you’d mentioned Twitter as an example (that others in the course were using?). Perhaps you could focus on another online communication format?

    1. Lizzie

      Oof, I feel you. I was the Queen of Procrastination for most of undergrad (with mixed results), but when I started graduate school I armed myself with calendars and To Do lists and end-of-semester hour-by-hour writing and study schedules. It worked great for the first two semesters, moderately well the third semester (my internship workload kind of threw things off), and by the final semester I had exhausted my reserves of “caring about school.” Put off starting my final paper until three days before, finished it three hours before it was due, submitted it after only a cursory glance, and then went and had a glass of sangria with some friends before class.

    2. INTP

      Look into the Pomodoro method. I find this less intimidating than the way I previously looked at working (i.e. I need to start my work ASAP and not stop until the evening). It’s easier to get myself to start when I only have to focus for 25 minutes before my next break.

    3. Mimmy

      Happens to the best of us :) :)

      And I know allllll about vague assignments – your English professor sounds like my professor from my fall class. I heard my spring professor is just as bad. (And I’m pursuing this graduate certificate why??? :/ )

  21. anon today

    I just behaved in a very thoughtless way and really hurt my closest friend who has understandably distanced themselves from me … and I am feeling so, so sad. I have long-standing issues with closeness but I have been working really hard at it and thought I was changing – well, I think I am/have but obviously still have these glaring blind spots and that is very depressing, as in I am wondering if I am just too “damaged” to get it. I don’t think there is anything to do except to show up and behave in more loving way and wait for time to rebuild their trust but it really hurts knowing I am the one who created this situation. Have you ever really hurt someone you loved (we are not romantically involved but I do love them), have the bonds reestablished themselves? Has anything helped?

    1. GOG11

      Hi anon today. I haven’t been through all the archives at Captain Awkward yet, but I really think it could help to check that site out. Her advice is great and I guarantee she has covered a question very much like this. I know she’s touched on it from the perspective of the friend who was hurt at least (post #633).

      I think you’re absolutely right about behaving in a more loving way and having patience while the trust is rebuilt – at this point, you just have to put in the work and time. A very good friend of mine did something very hurtful (something which put our lives in danger, in fact) but never acknowledged the incident, much less worked on trying to be a more loving, caring friend. Had she done those things, I think we’d have a really great relationship now.

      Please, please be gentle with yourself. You know that you’ve made a mistake, you’ve acknowledged the affect it’s had on your friend, and you’ve resolved to try to repair the relationship. Guilt motivates us to do the right thing and you’re already there. Take the time you need to be sad, forgive yourself, and focus on moving forward.

      1. anon today

        Hi Gog11, my message below was for both of you but it only seemed to be in response to NotSoNewReader – so I wanted to say thank you directly to you for your kindness and the suggestion of Captain Awkward – some good advice there. Thank you.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Problems with closeness can be tied to self-worth. “I don’t like me, why would anyone else like me.” If this resonates with you, then maybe look at the person you would like to be and take steps towards that. Recognizing all the way, that you probably are a very nice person already.

      More generally speaking- we are all works in progress. One good way to build up one’s self is to invest in your self. This could be counseling. It could be reading huge amounts of books. It could be going to church or painting pictures or volunteering– there is something out there that will help you reknit yourself. I am a big fan of doing more than one activity at the same time- such as counseling and volunteer work. Or maybe journaling and taking long walks. Just an idea….

      1. anon today

        Thank you for your kind responses and great suggestions, it is so helpful to not feel so alone with my feelings.

  22. Rebecca

    My daughter talked me into trying the 21 Day Primal Challenge. I eat good foods as a rule, but I love my treats – SweetTarts being among them, and while I’ve cut back on bread, cereal, grains, I still eat something along those lines most days of the week, even if it’s just a small amount. And I was surprised to see all the foods that have added sugar! So, I’ll be learning how to make my own salad dressing without sugar, and I made mayonnaise last night for the first time with my new stick immersion blender & light olive oil. I plan to make tuna and salmon salad to wrap in lettuce leaves for “sandwiches” for my work lunches.

    I live in a rural area, with 2 large grocery choices (one is a Walmart Super Center) and a smaller grocery store, Save A Lot, so as far as free range, organic, grass fed, etc. that’s not going to happen. Locally sourced? Maybe, but since we’re in the bleak mid winter, no fresh fruit :) It’s from the store or frozen. So I opted to make sure any frozen items have no added sugar.

    I noticed part of the plan is walking, and I already do that. So here we go! The challenge starts tomorrow, but I’m starting today as 21 days exactly fit into the remaining calendar days of January and that fits into my brain much better.

    I think I will continue to make my own mayo, even after the challenge is over, because good grief it was easy and so tasty, and I can make it in a few minutes when I need it for a recipe, and I know what’s in it. Ditto the salad dressings. I hope to take a way some new eating habits. I don’t envision ever not eating another SweetTart, or cookie, or slice of pizza, but I think eating whole, real food 90% of the time would be a more healthful thing to do.

    Wish me luck!!

    1. AdAgencyChick

      Awesome!

      Getting grass-fed/wild-caught/organically grown stuff is great if you can, but if you can’t and you simply eliminate most processed food and added sugars from your life, you’re already doing so much for yourself.

      I never buy salad dressing any more — I’m totally conditioned to just squeeze a lemon and mix it with olive oil nowadays! And homemade mayo is indeed awesome. I suggest also thinning it out with a little more lemon juice and adding herbs or garlic to make a tasty aioli, or mixing it with paprika for a killer dipping sauce.

      1. Rebecca

        Once I find recipes that I like, I suspect it will be more economical and more healthful to make my own dressings. I also figured out if I make a thin dressing, like with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, etc. and I toss it on my salad, I need less of it. I have 2 silicone salad bowls with snap on lids, so I could easily make 3 salads at once; one for supper for instance, and 2 for the next two days at lunch…and I have a salad spinner so I’m using regular greens and not precut salad mixes.

        So far, so good! I’ll make sure to post an update next week.

        I forgot to weigh myself this morning, so I’ll have to do that tomorrow.

        1. Blue_eyes

          Homemade salad dressing is the best! One of my friends raves about my “salad dressing” which is just pouring a few spoons of vinegar and then a few spoons of olive oil over salad and adding a few dashes of dried basil. I also make mixed dressings with olive oil, some kind of vinegar (balsamic, red wine, white wine, cider), and either honey or mustard (as an emulsifier). You can also add dried spices (basil, cilantro, thyme, etc.), garlic, salt and pepper. Don’t forget to sprinkle a little salt on your salad – it’s so good!

          1. LisaS

            I never buy salad dressing – most of them are too sweet & the “spices” always taste of chemicals. Good oil, apple cider vinegar and a bit of salt, plus fresh or dried herbs will be much better, but one thing I have started doing if I want a bit more tang is to add a teaspoon or two of goat cheese. The goat cheese melts down with the oil & vinegar and makes a lovely creamy addition to crisp fresh salad vegetables…

            1. Blue_eyes

              Good idea with the goat cheese! I often add goat cheese to my salads. Tahini (sesame paste) is a great way to get creamy, flavorful dressings too. I sometimes buy the Trader Joe’s “Goddess” dressing, but more often just make my own version at home. And homemade blue cheese dressing is unbelievable good! I like to use Castello blue cheese and about half mayo, half plain Greek yogurt plus a few spices.

    2. Jubilance

      Keep in mind that while organic/grass-fed/freerange/etc is preferred, Mark from the Primal Blueprint says that eating conventional meat & veggies is better than just sticking to a diet full of processed foods. He acknowledges there’s a certain level of privilege & economic status attached to eating “the best” so he says people should do what they can. If you can cut out processed foods & grains and up your meats/veggies, you’re still doing the Primal Blueprint :-) I have to remind myself of that sometimes too.

      Best of luck! My fiance and I are doing the 21 Day Challenge as well.

      1. INTP

        Yes – I’m not paleo but I love Mark Sisson for his flexibility. A lot of the paleo community seems to think “vegetarianism = death” but he emphasizes the importance of mental/spiritual health and that you don’t have to eat meat at all if you don’t feel okay with it or aren’t able to source meat you’re okay with. Eggs that are labeled as free range or at least “hormone and antibiotic free” are probably available at Wal-Mart and while they might not be as ideal as local pastured eggs, they’re fine to eat. They may also have Kerrygold butter – I don’t do much shopping at my Wal-Mart supercenter because I find it actually has pretty high prices for unprocessed foods but that brand is pretty mainstream now. If you’re in an agricultural area, you can possibly look into meat and dairy delivery from local farms.

        I don’t even worry about the fruits and vegetables being local. The 3 months a year that the farmer’s market is open, sure, I go and get my vegetables there. But as far as I can tell they don’t even grow fruits where I live except for apples and cranberries. I get frozen fruits for my smoothies and as backup for when I run out of fresh, but I can’t stand the texture of any frozen fruits besides wild blueberries, so I just buy whatever fruits are not prohibitively expensive at the store that week. I don’t follow Primal but I do agree that local is ideal, but the most important thing is just that you’re eating them. If all I could eat for fruit was apples and cranberries, well, I’d probably replace my berries and bananas with less healthy stuff.

      2. Rebecca

        I’m secretly hoping someone hits a deer on my road, so I can drag it home as part of the exercise plan, and have “free range” meat as a bonus. Yes, I know how to skin, gut, and cut it up :)

        1. fposte

          Doesn’t the driver get it? I thought that was the deal. (Though I’d definitely let you have it, because my generosity knows no bounds when it means not dragging around large dead mammals.)

          1. Rebecca

            If they stop, yes, they have dibs. Otherwise it’s whoever can descend on it first! Once I saw a fresh deer on the way home. I was less than a half mile from my house, so I grabbed some rope and a piece of plastic out of the cellar, and went directly back to the spot, not more than 5 minutes or so. All I found was blood, tire tracks, and footprints. Someone else snagged it that fast.

    3. Christy

      I did whole30 for five days before I was too angry all the time (particularly at my girlfriend, for basically no reason) and I stopped. I started it to learn about my body and how it reacts to a real food, lower carb diet, and I learned that it just makes me really, really angry. And it was so expensive! We’re expensive eaters in general but I hadn’t realized how much carbs cut cost.

      Sorry to threadjack! And good luck. It seems like it can be good for you if you can do it. Plus it’s an interesting thought experiment. But know that if you quit, you are not a failure, and quitting and continuing are both valid choices.

      1. Rebecca

        It is expensive! And I don’t have a huge food budget, so while I get most things at the local grocery store, I do go to Walmart for some things. For instance, Sunkist lemons are 33 cents at Walmart, and twice that at the store within eyesight. Limes are a quarter, and nearly 3 times that much at the same store. Same country of origin, etc. I can’t justify spending the extra money. I saw a recipe that calls for Japanese sweet potatoes. Not a chance here.

        But – that being said – I can give it a go for 3 weeks to see how I feel. I’m going to miss Diet Mountain Dew and SweetTarts the most :) I sliced 2 lemons and 2 limes, and put them in a gallon glass sweet tea jar full of water in the fridge to drink instead.

        1. GH in SoCAl

          You can substitute any yellow/white (not orange) fleshed sweet potato for a Japanese Sweet Potato. I did the reverse over Christmas in NY, I couldn’t find yellow-fleshed sweet potatoes (not Yams!), which are easy to find in SoCal, for a recipe I was making. The guy in the local market suggested the Japanese Sweet Potato — sometimes called an Asian or Korean “Batata” — and it was soooooooooooo delicious and guilt-free. Now I’m looking for them back in SoCal! :-D

          1. Rebecca

            I thought about growing them myself, not this minute, but in the summer. Regular sweet potatoes grow really great here.

  23. Ali

    Has anyone found themselves still living at home into their late 20s, or even as they go into 30?

    I’m in this situation and am not happy with it. So to be clear, I’m not some freeloader who’s not working, taking money off my parents and not doing anything around the house. I have a full-time job, have a separate savings account where I put away money for moving and don’t touch otherwise and I help with animal care, watch the house when my parents travel and handle other daily responsibilities.

    I just feel frustrated, knowing that I’ll be 30 in a few months and am still living at home. I don’t feel as if I’m very grown up or mature, as so many other people my age are stable and have their own apartments. Some are even homeowners. I’ve been friends with people who openly make fun of people who are living at home. At a work gathering a few months back, one of the guys who is my supervisor said something like, “People who live at home need to grow up and get out,” and the other guys who heard him were laughing. (Since there were 15 of us, I don’t think there were many people who paid attention.) And then I hear all the stigmas that I must have no life skills, that I’m too afraid to move out (no, I want to leave; trust me!) and that I can’t handle being on my own. It’s so frustrating.

    I have a few friends who live at home that are my age or older, but I feel it’s more OK for them to do so because their fathers died several years ago, so they’re there to help their moms with bills and more physical housework. I just think that’s more acceptable than me being here with two perfectly capable parents when I “should” be out. And when people mock others who live at home so openly (I used to be friends with a girl whose best friend made fun of me on Facebook for living at home, and my friend joined in the teasing and laughed…even though she lived at home too), I feel almost ashamed.

    I am still planning to put away money to get out. I just feel down and like I’m not a “real” adult, especially as my 30th birthday approaches.

    1. Treena Kravm

      I don’t think of it as not being a “real” adult, but you’re right in that you don’t have the maturity that comes with living on your own. But here’s the secret, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because “mature” is just a code-word for experienced.

      All of the “big” things in life: being in a serious relationship, having a big break-up, moving out of the house, a full-time job, travel, getting married, changing careers, having a child, owning a house/real estate, taking care of a sick/elderly parent, etc.–all of those types of things give you a layer of experience/maturity. Each thing will make you a bit more mature in its own unique way.

      For instance, I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 21. Until then, I wasn’t quite as mature in the same ways my friends were mature. They thought of another person before just making decisions for themselves, they had better negotiation and compromising skills, they were more comfortable with emotional intimacy. I wasn’t interested in that until I was. When I was dating my now-husband at 21, you betcha I felt behind. But (this is the good part) I also learned a heck of a lot faster. I wasn’t some heartsick 16 year old in puppy love. Sure, falling in love for the first time required a bit more work than if I had already been in a relationship, but way less work than it would have taken had I been 17.

      All this to say, I think the same thing will happen when you finally get to move out. Most 18 year olds who move out don’t have the maturity it takes to live on their own. That’s why dorms are there, to ease them into it. Most 18-22 year olds will forget to pay a bill, or be late on the rent, or be total slobs. But when you move out, you will have already learned those lessons, and have the emotional maturity to handle moving out and maturing at a lightening speed rate compared to if you had done it when you were 22.

    2. Treena Kravm

      Oh, and just to confirm, the people who make fun of those who haven’t lived on their own? They’re jerks. Or projecting their self-hatred (your friend who lives at home).

      The only person I’ve ever truly judged for living at home is my 28 year old cousin who is employed at the business owned by his millionaire father (making a LOT of money) and he still lives at home because he’s “saving,” but it’s really because his mother still does his laundry and cooks him food.

      1. Stephanie

        The only person I’ve ever truly judged for living at home is my 28 year old cousin who is employed at the business owned by his millionaire father (making a LOT of money) and he still lives at home because he’s “saving,” but it’s really because his mother still does his laundry and cooks him food.

        Yeah, I have a HS friend like this. He moved in with his folks after graduation and I was like “Ok, he’s probably trying to save some money up.” And then his folks moved and having a new house built. He told me he had to go meet the developer to “design his room.” And then he bought a BMW and always suggested we meet up at expensive restaurants. In his case, it just sounds like he wants to avoid spending his paycheck on pesky things like rent or groceries. And commutes with crazy traffic!

        I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt…although the BMW erased a lot of that.

        (Also, I know multigenerational houses are fairly common in non-American culture.)

    3. Apollo Warbucks

      Don’t be so hard on yourself, you have a full time job and help around the house and are actively working on being able to move out, that’s all positive and shows you’re not a freeloader.

      One of my relatives lived at home until he was about your age and both his parents were both capable. I left home at 18 because there was no way I was staying any longer. There’s no right or wrong answer it’s just the way things are.

      I wouldn’t worrie about what other people think, everyone is different and your living arrangements aren’t anyone else’s concern. If you want to move out you keep working on saving money and you’ll be in a good situation to move when you find somewhere you want to live.

    4. notfunny

      Do you think it would be helpful to set up a concrete plan for how much you can save and a date where you’d like to be living on your own? Perhaps having something to work towards (and to talk about if people ask/you want to share) might be constructive and give you some direction?

      1. Stephanie

        Yes, this. If you use Mint (or any other budgeting software), you can set up a specific goal and how much you need to allot to hit that goal. Figure out a dollar amount you’d need to move out (and pad it) and just stick to that savings plan. Having a concrete move date (and financial target) might help to make it feel a little less hopeless.

        I also feel like reasonable people can tell the difference between living at home out of necessity and a case of arrested development.

    5. Dan

      In your case, it’s not what other people think, it’s about what you think. You don’t like your situation, and that’s what matters. If you werent doing anything to change it, I’d tell you that nothing will change until you do something about it. It does sound like you are, so hold your head high.

    6. Blue_eyes

      (This is not easy but you need to just) Ignore the haters. You know that you’re working hard, want to move out, and aren’t a freeloader. You are far from the only person your age who is in this situation. My parents and in laws helped us with rent while I was in grad school, and we otherwise would not have been able to live on our own during that time.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I gotta say this. Would you talk to a friend the way you are talking to yourself? I think you are pretty hard on yourself. I think you take these negative things your friends say and replay them over and over again in your head.

      The problem with negative statements is that they are not instructive.
      “you haven’t moved out yet”
      This statement does not contain any guidance or advice on how to accomplish moving out.
      “people need to grow up”
      Again, this does not give practice instructions. Watch out for generalities, they are mostly used in a vindictive manner, very seldom are they constructive.

      Watch out for how much time you spend each day thinking negative thoughts. Sometimes our negative thoughts, the recordings of negative things others have said are worse than our actual problems.

      I was in my early 20s when I moved out. The first thing that happened was I LOVED my solitude. The next thing that happened was I noticed the absence of all the negative inputs. I tell you- it has been decades and the more I realize what was happening to me then, the more I realize that the people surrounding me were pulling me down in sooo many ways. It has taken me decades to figure out the extent of how damaging their remarks were. Within a few years of moving out, most of these negative people were no longer in my life. Not because of arguing but because we just lost contact with each other.

      Try being more aware of negative statements, your own statements to yourself and what other people say to you. It opened my eyes a lot.
      It’s a small example but people just don’t realize how negative they are: One of my drains here is frozen. I was telling a friend about it and my plan for dealing with it. He insisted that the problem is bigger than I think and I have a major dig on my hands to fix the drain. I decided that I am going to work on it the way I had originally planned despite his “advice”. I have lived here 20 plus years, I think I know the quirks of my house. So his parting piece of advice was “well, you’re going to the laundry mat today”. Really? Would it be so hard to say, “I hope you are right and you make out well with your efforts” Apparently, yes, that would be very difficult. I am not mad at my friend- I let this go. This is just an example of how people’s negative comments can creep into our thinking and set up housekeeping. I am determined to fix my drain.

    8. catsAreCool

      It sounds like you’re doing your share around the house, and you’re saving up to be on your own, so I think you’re doing OK. What do people expect you to do, move out when you can’t afford it?

      Some people are just judgmental.

    9. dang

      I moved back in with my parents out of necessity when I was 29, and I have been here for about a year and a half now. Some days are better than others. I judge myself way more harshly than others likely judge me. and it sounds like you do too. Keep in mind that not everyone is on the same timeline, you’re doing what you can around the house and in planning to get out. Sometimes that’s all we can do, and that’s okay. Trust me, you’re not the only one in this situation.

    10. Noah

      I moved back in with my parents in my mid-20’s and lived there for four years. It was a garage apartment, so there was some separation, but I still lived there and didn’t pay rent. I did pay the cable bill, but that is all my parents would let me do. I don’t want to say I hated those four years, because I really didn’t, but it did feel like my life was on hold a bit. I was embarrassed to tell anyone where I lived, I dated, but it was awkward to bring anyone home.

      In my mind there is a big difference between those who are unemployed and not trying to find work mooching off their family and those who live with family while saving or trying to build a future.

      I was comfortable living with my parents, it was easy and I get along well with my parents. However, one of the best things that ever happened was when my dad had to move to a different city for his job. It forced me out into my own place again.

    11. HR Manager

      Don’t believe all the silly expectations that you be out right after graduation and living a life of hanging with friends every night, drinking after work, meeting a nice guy/girl at a bar, and then getting married and having kids before you’re 30. It’s what you see in tvs, movies, and sometimes in real life.

      Being Asian ,we often have strong ties to family and so I stayed home with the parents quite late (mid-20s) even though I would have loved to stretch my wings earlier. Being the youngest, I was kind of stuck with this, because my parents are immigrants and don’t speak English, and they needed a lot of help with day to day things. My sisters had already moved on. I worked, thankfully saved on rent money to pay off my college loans early, and then took over most household expenses. I would have been happy to do all the other stuff, but my aging parents like to get up at 5am and do laundry. Uh…no thanks. I’m not getting up at 4am to beat them to it.

      I did finally have to cut their strings to me, and convince them they would be fine without me at home, and I loved being on my own. I chose to live nearby, so they had (way too) easy access to me.

      So don’t worry about other’s perceptions. If it’s ok with you otherwise, and it is a very good decision for your finance, be happy with it. If you think you need to try living on your own, then give it a shot. As long as your parents are happy to welcome you back should you change your mind, you can always see what it’s like to have your own place.

    12. matcha123

      I lived at home until right after graduating university and moving overseas. If I hadn’t moved overseas, I’d still be at home. Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with living at home. At least you have a home to go to!

      If you’re saving up money to move out or to another city, there’s nothing wrong with that either. It’s expensive to live alone. And if you have a good relationship with your parents, like your job, etc. keep it up!
      I, personally, wouldn’t judge someone for living at home. Except for my boyfriend, because I’ve suggested moving into a place together but I don’t see that happening :p

      1. Catherine in Canada

        Bringing another perspective to this. I’ve had two of my kids move back in with us for some periods of time. They paid rent, had their share of household chores, and had to follow various ‘house rules’ that were different to those they followed as younger offspring.
        In both cases, I think it was an invaluable experience for my sons to get to know their parents as adults, to learn to see us beyond our roles as parent. For example, each one of them was surprised to learn that that “united front” we presented during their tumultuous teens was built on a lot of thought, talk, second-guessing and plain old winging it, not any kind of omnipotent mystical knowledge magically imparted by virtue of being a parent.
        And we appreciated our time with them; getting to know them as adults too.

  24. Carrie in Scotland

    Oh, I just found this via buzzfeed and it is beautiful. technoir(dot)nl is a tumblr of living movie still. Check it out and enjoy!

    1. Elizabeth West

      Wow! I saw that article earlier but didn’t click on it.

      I love Buzzfeed, but it’s such a time suck. It’s worse since I have to read both the UK and US versions of everything now. :)

  25. CrazyCarLady

    Pillows! I need a good one. I am have constant neck/shoulder/upper back pain and tension. I get headaches often. I have tried a Temperpedic pillow and didn’t like it. Any suggestions from people with similar pain? (I sleep in all positions but usually don’t sleep on my stomach when I’m in pain.)

    1. fposte

      It’s hard to say since the need behind the pain can vary. I’ll also note that I need more than one pillow and more than one kind of pillow–maybe it’s time for you to look at that. But it also might be worth considering a check with a physical therapist to identify what might be going on and if there’s something other than pillows that could help. Could you do some borrowing of various kinds from friends to test them out before buying them? I’ve had really good luck with Bed Bath and Beyond for pillows, so I don’t think you have to go really pricey, but it’s still a fair bit to spend if you end up not happy with it.

    2. Aknownymous

      I used to wake up with bad headaches and neck pain quite often. I got a microfiber pillow from IKEA that cost less than 10 dollars, and that was the end of the pain! It’s worth to check out, and if it doesn’t work for you you’re not out that much money. Just make sure to pick one that is suited for your most common sleeping position (they have signs indicating that). I sleep mostly on my stomach, so I got the lowest they had, and when I sleep on my side I can fluff it accordingly.

      1. NewishAnon

        I guess it really depends. My husband and I got pillows from IKEA and we absolutely hated them. They had no support. But then, everyone prefers different kinds of pillows.

    3. Aknownymous

      I also wanted to add that they have different kind of fillings, but I found that the microfiber had the perfect combination of softness and support. The ones that feel like they are filled with cotton are the worst for neck pain, in my experience.

    4. NewishAnon

      Check out “Z by Malouf” memory dough pillows. I have one of these and it is the best pillow I have ever had. It is on the expensive side but totally worth it. It’s high loft so you won’t need two pillows to sleep and it aligns your spine so your neck isn’t bent while you sleep. It feels like dough and truly molds itself to your frame. I get really hot at night so I have the gel pillow which really stays cool. But they make regular ones too.

      A couple of things though. The pillow is fairly firm, especially at first, but it softens over time. If you’re not already a two pillow sleeper it might be too high for you. And it takes some getting used to and some trial and error. For example, I tried sleeping with my shoulder on the bed and just my head on the pillow and found it too big. But if I put my shoulder on it as well as my head, it molds perfectly and gives me great support.

      I used to wake up with neck pain, headaches, and achy ears and that is all gone after getting this pillow. I’m honestly in love with it.

    5. Noah

      I don’t know what the temperpedic pillows are like, but I really dislike the molded memory foam pillows that force your neck into a certain shape. However, I have some that are like shredded memory foam and I love them.

    6. Revanche

      This may be a weird suggestion but I’ve been in love with my funny big maternity pillow. It’s meant to be used as a body pillow so that you and your belly get support but while that was nice, I love it best folded in half so I have options for head and neck support that can get enough rest which is great for my chronic back pain! I’ll use it for that long after pregnancy’s over.

  26. CrazyCatLady

    Oops, mistyped my own name – should be crazy cat lady. Sorry for any other typos, that’s what I get from using my phone

    1. hermit crab

      Now I’m wondering what it would mean to be a crazy car lady. Parking your car in the living room? Having all your home decorating be car-themed? Sleeping in one of those fantastic racecar beds, except in a grownup size? Turning over your purse, and hundreds of matchbox cars pour out?

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        No, I think it’s having 4 cars parked out front (3 running), 4 cars parked out back (0 running), 1 car being actively fixed in the shop, and I think 3 more cars in the back of the shop. 4 of the total belong to people in other households.

        Nevermind, that’s not Crazy Car Lady, it’s Married to Crazy Car Man.

    2. Felicia

      Unfortunately, crazy car lady made me think of that guy on My Strange Addiction who has sex with his car.

      1. NewishAnon

        I saw that too! It seriously seemed like he kissed his car with tongue. I bet he shares his towel with “her”.

  27. AvonLady Barksdale

    Packing my work bag for a week-long trip and realizing– too late– that I don’t have a good way to organize all my chargers. Does anyone have a recommendation for keeping all of these cords neat and coiled? Right now I have everything rolled up, secured with hair bands, and throw in the bottom of my bag. So many cords!

    1. Sandy

      As someone who always loses hair bands, that seems like a decent system!

      Just put the collection into a make up bag to keep them in one place.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Nice to know I wasn’t far off the mark with my initial plan. :) And if I lose/break a hair band, I have extras! Trying to decide now if I should put everything in one small bag or just let them loose, since while loose they’ll fit into more crevices.

    2. IISquirrel

      Carboard tubes – middle of plastic wrap, toilet paper tubes, or any others you have lying around. Fold/coil each cable up into a bundle slightly shorter than the tube, and stuff inside, it’ll keep them together and (if the tube is fairly thick) help prevent the bends in the cord getting squashed and damaging the wires inside. Just make sure they’re not too stuffed in.

      I have boxes and boxes of computer cables stored like this….

    3. CAA

      Get a “Grid-It”. It’s a board with horizontal and vertical elastics woven together at different points. (This is one of those “picture is worth a thousand words” things, so just google it and you will understand exactly how it works.)

      Cords don’t get tangled, the board is easy to find in my messenger bag, even just by feel when it’s under an airplane seat, and I can pull out whatever I want from it without disturbing anything else. Also, I make a habit of putting items in the same spots every time; so a quick glance when I’m packing will show me exactly what’s missing. This has saved me more than once from leaving a phone charger plugged in under the hotel room desk.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Ooooh, very cool! Thank you! I like that it’s flat, too– the way my bag is configured, it’s ideal to have something I can stand up next to my laptop.

    4. Computer Guy Eli

      I use zip-ties with one usb-to-wall converter.

      Take all the ends you’ll need, line’m up, zip-tie’m together, put’m in a baggie with the converter, boomerino! All small chargers are together. Laptop chargers? Zipties work well too.

    5. ProductiveDyslexic

      People keep buying me bobino cord wraps as presents, they are pretty useful. I keep my earphones in an orange mini-sock type thing with an appliqued sheep on: this was also a present and replaced an actual sock.

    6. Seal

      I use a small mesh zippered bag for my cords when I travel (which is fairly frequently). The mesh bag goes in my carry-on. Having all of my cords in one bag ensures that I don’t forget or lose anything and keeps them from getting tangled. I also carry a lightweight travel power strip that’s small enough to fit in my cord bag. Very handy when I have to charge multiple devices at once and can’t find or don’t want to use multiple outlets.

    7. The Cosmic Avenger

      I bought a box of no-name, snack sized zip lock baggies just for my cords and chargers. (“Snack size” are about half of a regular sandwich bag; same width, half the length.) I also use one or two regular sandwich baggies for things like a long network cable and the Kensington cable lock that are too large for snack bags, but all the other cords are in snack bags, one per bag except for a few short ones that are interchangeable (all micro-USB cables, for example). I can pull out all of them at once and sort through them by sight very quickly, and they never get tangled.

  28. Phyllis

    Calling all literature/English majors/librarians. Perhaps one of you can answer a question for me. What is the difference between “fiction” and “literature” or “literary fiction”? I have seen this term a lot lately, and wonder, what’s the difference? I of course know what fiction is, but literature is also fiction, so why the distinction? I have asked several people and get puzzled looks in response. The only thing I can figure is that literary fiction is more in-depth, perhaps taking true facts and presenting them in a fictional way. Is this correct?

    1. fposte

      Not on the presentation of true facts, no–that’s more a new journalism thing. Literary fiction is often contrasted with commercial fiction–is this made to be art, or is this made to sell a bunch of stuff and disappear in a year or two? It’s ultimately quite a dubious and often challenged division, since Shakespeare wrote to sell like freaking crazy, and of course there are huge cultural assumptions behind who buys which kind and whose opinions are more valuable. The older something gets the more likely it will be to be perceived as “literary” regardless of its original positioning, too.

      So as with so many artistic terms, the more you know the less you find it convincing; this is the kind of thing that gets taught in high school, kicked around a little in college, and tossed aside (except insofar as it’s interesting how people think about it) at by PhDs.

    2. JMW

      I think literary fiction has as its goal for the reader to think about rather than just experience the book. It tends to be very theme-driven or introspective. So rather than just telling a story, the book might be exploring the human condition or a larger social or political issue. A writer may choose this deliberately, but as fposte mentioned, sometimes a piece of work over time will come to speak to a larger issue that was not apparent at the time of publishing.

    3. Treena Kravm

      I would agree with others here that the confused, why would those two things be connected, I’m not understanding route will work best here.

    4. Maxwell Edison

      Literary fiction doesn’t use quotation marks. At least that’s what I said when a friend asked if one of my novels could be classified as literary fiction. :)

    5. Elizabeth West

      There are so many books now that blur categories (and this makes marketing harder), that you can totally have a genre book (i.e. one that fits into a certain category, such as romance, sci-fi, etc.) written in a literary voice. It’s all about style, really, and how the writer uses language to express the story and its ideas. Literary fiction tends to have a somewhat lofty reputation, but there are plenty of seminal genre works that could be considered literary in tone and voice.

      That didn’t help much, I’m sure. But here’s an article that explains it rather well. writing-world.com/fiction/literary.shtml

    6. The IT Manager

      Literary fiction is high brow, pretentious, and self-important. It’s literature as “art”. It’s the kind that wins awards and makes people think deep thoughts. It’s aiming to be literature taught in schools one day.

      Chick lit, science fiction, thrillers, etc – genre books – are not literary fiction because they’re genre and for fun and escapism and literary fiction is not that.

      Literary fiction is not a hard and fast category and is more about what its trying to be.

      1. The IT Manager

        My answer comes across as too harsh. It’s kind of you know it when you read it king of thing and genre work can be a great work of literature.

        1. Phyllis

          Thanks for the replies. My take on this is, I may not know what it is, but I know what I like. :-)

          1. Phyllis

            BTW, talking about books, I want to thank whoever recommended The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne. It was very entertaining!!

  29. AnonAcademic

    I need some advice on a “love the sinner, hate the sin” situation. My younger brother, after years of being adrift in terms of pretty much his whole life, is now dating a woman who is a teacher and they are living together. He has a full time job working for one of her relatives. All signs point to them getting married within the next few years. His gf “Laney” is a very warm, family oriented person, and she has been making efforts to get to know me better. This has been improving my relationship with my brother also because we spend more time together. In the past he has been pretty withdrawn and hard to connect with but she helps bridge that gap.

    But here’s the rub – I found out this weekend, she’s also racist. She made a few sidebar comments about black people that I’d expect from a cranky 85 year old “raised in a different era,” not a 20-something living in a metropolitan area (who teaches children….).

    My conundrum is that I’m moving across the country in 6 months and don’t want to withdraw completely from her and my brother, because I don’t know when I’ll get to spend quality time with him again. I don’t think hanging with him individually is likely to happen just because of our dynamic.

    So what do I do? And how do I respond to the next racist comment about “oh you know how THOSE PEOPLE are”? (My reply this weekend was basically “what people? huh?” to which she replied “you know, (whisper) black people.” Yes, that happened).

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Agreed. That’s the best way. While I know that racists come in all shapes, sizes, and professions, I am dismayed that this woman is a teacher. As are you, it sounds. Does she have non-white children in her classroom??? My heart aches for them.

        Honestly, this… is tough. What does your brother think about this? HOW does your brother think? You should discuss it with him. I’m sure he knows this about her, but if he is willing to make a life with someone so ignorant, that says something about him too. You’d have to go from there– probably distancing yourself and spending time in limited contexts– but it’s important to check his temperature with this one.

        1. Treena Kravm

          Hate to break it to you, but lots of teachers are pretty awful. My job is to be a guest speaker in schools, and the teachers always invite me to eat lunch with them in their lounge. The things I’ve heard…I think it’s mostly them blowing off steam after having been “on” for 6 hours, but you can see the bigoted/racist/classist undertones when they’re there.

          I have family members who are almost as racist as the OP’s situation, and they teach almost ALL children of color. All they see are reinforced stereotypes because they’re in an underserved area.

          1. matcha123

            This right here.
            There are a huge number of stellar teachers, and I was so fortunate to be taught by many of them, but there are also a lot of busybodies.
            The one thing my mom hammered into me was that teachers talk and if you mess up big in one grade, it’ll follow you, perhaps forever.

            I think OP should talk with her brother about how he feels about what she says and maybe talk with her, too. If you say that you don’t want to be a part of that type of talk, she could at least put a lid on it around you…

      2. BRR

        I’d call her out. In most situations I don’t feel ok sitting by and not doing the right thing just to avoid conflict.

    1. fposte

      I vote for “Wow, that’s not my experience, and that sounded pretty racist.” A good followup can be “You’re talking about friends of mine. I’m not okay with my friends being talked about like that.”

      I’m not a big fan of automatic shunning or angry denunciation, because I think it just locks people into groups of the like-minded; I’d go instead with calm, firm, and pleasant. (The Jay Smooth video is a great thing to look at–I won’t link because of moderation, but it’s hugely easy to find.) I also think if you’re moving in six months you’re not going to see her much later, and you’re probably going to have too much going now to see her a ton in the meantime. I’d be inclined to do the hanging out you expected for the next six months and have responses ready, and if it doesn’t go away from those responses, you might just outright say “I really want to be close to you, and I think you want that too, but this is making it hard.” If she’s as keen to be family oriented as you say, she may well get the message that this is not the way to older Sis’s heart and STFU; that may or may not involve some thought about her beliefs, but just curbing the expression would be a win to me.

    2. the gold digger

      That is tough. I have some older relatives (80 years +) who are like this and who have – once – used the “n” word around me. I said calmly, “I really don’t like that word. Please don’t use it around me.”

      The thing is, you can’t change how people are – but you can ask them to change how they act. They might not do it, but both of my uncles were shocked and then shamed (which was not my intention – I didn’t want to shame them, I just wanted them to stop). They tried to argue back, but my aunts backed me up. It has been more than 18 years since each event happened and I have never heard them say it since.

      In your case, I think politely challenging the statements – “And how are they?” “Really? That has not been my experience at all.” etc – and letting her realize that her behavior is not socially acceptable might work. Might not, though.

    3. Computer Guy Eli

      This is standard operating procedure in Montana. It’s very hard to shake the urge to generalize people if you’ve spent a lot of time with that race.

      For instance, I live a few miles away from a Native American reservation and I can say from experience that I have far more bad experiences than good. I believe it’d be correct to refer to me as a racist, as I now actively avoid conversations with people of that demographic on a personal level.

      However.

      I believe I could just be unlucky in my encounters. If I were to say “Let’s not go to subway, the natives are in town.” and you were to call me out on it, damn right I’d be agitated. Mostly because I don’t believe you understand, and you’d be making a judgement on my character that I believe would be unfair.

      I don’t intend to offend any native americans, I’ve just had some less than ideal encounters. I’m trying to give a little insight into what she might be thinking.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Just because something is hard to shake doesn’t mean you should stop trying to shake it. You’ve had “less than ideal encounters” with individuals. It doesn’t matter how many individuals they are, they are still individuals and cannot be considered a whole people. Not everyone can be painted with the same brush. If you said that to me about not going to Subway, I would most certainly call you out on it, because I would most certainly make a judgment on your character, and it would not be a kind one.

        1. Computer Guy Eli

          I fully understand that you’re correct, and I agree that it’s wrong to think what I do. However, it’s part of the culture of my town, and I’d wager most of my state, to think this way.

          I’m not saying that excuses the bad behavior, I’m just saying it’s inconsequential to try and convince myself otherwise. My beliefs don’t change how I act towards people of that descent, I’m not impolite to them based on what I believe is the majority of their people.

          Let me give an example. I walk into work to see my supervisor talking to one of my co-workers, they’re talking politics. Words like “Rag-heads, blanket-asses, prairie-n******” are commonplace. I personally detest these words but when you’re raised in a community where it’s so commonplace to be a racist, it’s not something you can stop doing just by thinking hard enough.

          It is taken as fact here that native americans are people of poor character. That’s a statement about my community. This is honestly my first interaction with someone who fervently disagrees with me, and I’ve been all across Montana. I honestly and truly can not conceive how it would be possible for me to not prejudge a certain demographic based on my interactions with them.

          Like I said. I don’t hate people based on what race they are, I just prepare to have a bad time until proven otherwise.

          1. AnonAcademic

            ” This is honestly my first interaction with someone who fervently disagrees with me, and I’ve been all across Montana.”

            This is deeply sad to me. I would wager that most people in the U.S. acknowledge that native americans are the longest suffering group in this country, subject to the most extreme prejudice and genocide, and that the sad state of many reservations is directly related to this country having treated them like an invasive species of weed rather than people.

            1. fposte

              I would say that the more dense a minority population is in a region, the more likely there is to be racism against that group. You have a better chance for confirmation bias to kick in when you actually encounter people of that group–I remember moving to the West Coast and being stunned by how huge anti-Asian prejudice was (friends of mine from Chicago noted that when they moved to Seattle, they “became an interracial couple” in a way they weren’t in the Midwest). It can also get more easily passed off as “we actually know them” and gain a kind of authority despite how wrong the beliefs are (I was amused by the recent Straight Dope column that debunks the “Asian-Americans are bad drivers” myth with statistics that suggest they’re some of the safest, for instance).

          2. Anon4This

            “I just prepare to have a bad time until proven otherwise”

            And that, there, is the problem. That is like how Fox is all over the place screaming about no Muslim’s calling out terrorists even though I can provide dozens upon dozens of examples of Muslim’s doing just that. If you expect the worst, good will never be good enough until there is absolute perfection.

            Also, I disagree with your premise that you have to be racist because your community seems to be. I was raised by a family of racists, in a very racist town. I was appalled by their behavior and the words they used and excuses they made. To the point now that they know when I come home they are not to speak like that in front of me (to be fair, they can speak however they want in their own home, I will just opt not to visit).

            You can change your behavior but first you have to change your heart. You have had bad experiences with individuals. I bet you’ve had bad experiences with white people, too, but you don’t seem to blame that entire race.

            1. Computer Guy Eli

              Let me try to explain it in different terms.

              Where I’m from there’s three kinds of people.
              -Blatant, open racists.
              -People who deliberately avoid politics
              -People who don’t fit in.

              I don’t think you understand that I’m not trying to defend racism. I’m trying to get you to understand that there’s always a reason people are racist.

              If I’m working and my supervisor says “Hey Eli, don’t you think it’s bullshit that them blanket-asses got those jobs instead of us? We’re far more qualified then they are, goes to show how it pays to be colored here.” I can either agree and maintain a good relationship with my boss, abstain from commenting and create a very awkward moment with her, or I can disagree and put her into a bad mood that will trickle down into how she behaves at work.

              Creating conflict based on morals only works if everyone else agrees with you but just don’t want to say anything. Being the only non-racist in a town of racists is like being the only racist in a town of non-racists. You have to adapt to the culture of the area you’re in or else you’ll suffer extremely harsh consequences.

              This is why I want to move out of my town, their morals do not align with mine in a very extreme way.

              1. Diet Coke Addict

                But there isn’t “always” a reason people are racist. At all. People my be racist against a group they’ve had negative experiences with, but many, many, many people are blatantly racist against people they don’t know and have never met. I know plenty of people in my own rural area who’ve never been anywhere else and never even met a Muslim person, but think that Islam is evil and brown people are wrecking the country. It may be easier to cognitively understand someone being racist against a group of people when they’ve had negative interactions with them, but it’s far from being the only reason people are racist, and to say that there’s always a reason people are racist is untrue. (Unless you’re talking in a larger sense in which you equate racism with xenophobia and fear of the unknown, in which case the reason for racism would be fear, but I don’t think that’s the point you’re driving at.)

                1. Computer Guy Eli

                  I would argue that racism derives from two things.
                  -Constant contact with a certain group of people
                  -Absolutely no contact with a certain group of people
                  If you’ve been around a group long enough to design a negative opinion of them, it may cause you to develop the characteristics of a racist. On the other hand, if all you hear about a certain kind of people is how bad they are and never have any opportunity to teach yourself otherwise you may also develop the same way.

                  Either way, a person is being taught to preconceive a certain group of people based on what they see, or based on what they’re told.

              2. Anon4This

                Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t easy, Eli. But we do it nonetheless. Agreeing with racism is never the right thing.

              3. Samsara

                “I can either agree and maintain a good relationship with my boss, abstain from commenting and create a very awkward moment with her, or I can disagree and put her into a bad mood that will trickle down into how she behaves at work.”

                From a small northwestern town myself, and yikes. Please create that very awkward moment. Also consider that for whatever bad experience you’ve had with a Native American, he or she has had more bad experiences with racist white people … which came first? Like, their whole culture was so wronged and they’re subject to so much hate/racism as a minority group …

                ” there’s always a reason people are racist. ” o_O There’s never a justifiable reason. Doesn’t it all come down to we took they’re land/resources/wealth and we’re going to hold onto them and push them down into the mud?

          3. QualityControlFreak

            Wow. And now I know never to move to Montana. Somehow I would suddenly become “of poor character.”

            I could base my judgement of all white people on your description of an entire state where it’s regarded as okay for white people to call Indians racist names, treat them hatefully, and discriminate against them openly. I think I won’t, though. First, because I don’t think it’s okay to “prejudge” people at all. Second, because you seem like a decent person, Eli. You may have had some bad experiences with a demographic. I’ve had some bad experiences with white people. But that doesn’t make them all ignorant, hateful racists. My spouse is white, raised in the Deep South. He grew up with the kind of hate you describe, in his case against black people. He got out. You can too. Good luck.

            1. Computer Guy Eli

              Well I appreciate that!

              Sadly though, I would have to agree that if you’re of native american descent to please please PLEASE stay away from Montana. We are super racist up here.

              I remember once, at my first job (Hated it by the way.) I was the only dude working with a team of girls at the local Subway. One of the girls called a customer a Prairie Ni**** because she was being rude. The lady filed a complaint and I shit you not my boss’s answer to this was to call the employee back into her office and say “Look, you can’t be calling people names no matter how much she deserved it. We serve a lot of these people here and we can’t give ourselves a bad name.”

              Seriously, Montana ain’t a cool place.

          4. Lamb

            I haven’t read everything to see if someone else said this, but I disagree that you can’t choose not to use racial slurs. It may not happen effortlessly or overnight, but “just by thinking hard enough” is almost exactly how you get these hateful words out of your regular speech. Every time you think one of those words you stop and remind yourself you’re not going to call people that, and you say a different word. You don’t have to wait until you’re somewhere else to change how you act.
            You’ve mentioned you’re just going along to get along because racism is ubiquitous in your town. You can still make that change without standing up to racists, if you really don’t want to make a point of not being as severely racist as they are. If someone questions why you’ve stopped using racial slurs, you don’t have to make a big deal about it. You can say that you are saving up to travel and you read that in other regions of the US saying those kinds of words will get you kicked out of places and stuff like that, so you’re trying to break the habit now. Or, if it’s more believable/would trigger less hostility, you could say that “a friend” or “someone I respect” or (assuming your coworkers think you are a single, straight dude) “this girl I met” asked you not to use those words around them so you’re trying to cut them out of your regular speech. That way it’s a change that has nothing to do with these people you are trying to stay on good terms with.

      2. AnonAcademic

        I appreciate the candor of your reply. My husband is native but is 2 generations removed from the reservation. He has indicated that some of the tribes/reservations are considered lower class than others. So perhaps I can reassure you that the dynamics of one reservation are not necessarily representative of the 550+ tribes in North America.

        As another analogy, I work in a primarily black city with a lot of crime issues, and for example I avoid being near certain high schools when they let out because of gang activity. But I don’t think I’d frame it as “oh let’s avoid the black high school” – more like “how about we avoid that high school, it gets rowdy and dangerous sometimes.” Then on the other hand I have many black colleagues and students who are obviously not violent gang members and so the futility of racially profiling them as if they were is pretty obvious.

        All that said I think it’s particularly awful for someone who teaches young children to be racially biased.

        1. Computer Guy Eli

          I agree. You’d be hard pressed, however, to find an unbiased teacher in my hometown. It’s a shame, really.

      3. fposte

        It’s also worth noting, Eli, since you’re talking about moving out of state to a bigger city and working there–that’s the kind of comment that is quite likely to get you fired on the spot. Employers don’t have to understand where you’re coming from when you’re putting them in danger of breaking the law.

        I think this may be relevant to AnonAcademic’s preSIL, too–that if you’re in a place where this has been a normal thing to say, you don’t necessarily know or internalize how much of a problem it can really be.

        1. Computer Guy Eli

          I understand completely. This is the first and only time I’ve ever voiced my opinions on race. Every example I’ve used has been used when I’m talking to my bros, or hasn’t ever been used at all.

          I’m just trying to let you guys know, that racism is a problem, but there are places where it’s such a non-issue and commonplace that it can be freely spoken about at work among other places. I’m self-aware of this, I understand that I’ll have to get more used to ‘civilized’ culture. I don’t mean to excuse myself of responsibility, I just thought that it’d be worth telling people what it’s like from my perspective.

          1. fposte

            And I appreciate the fact that you’re able to represent for a view and experience that doesn’t get aired much here and remain polite and thoughtful. I think one of the pitfalls of the internet is that we end up in talking to each other in small groups who all agree (except about TV show characters).

            1. Computer Guy Eli

              I’ve felt that culture shock pretty hard ever since I’ve started going to more ‘adult’ sites like this. I’m amazed at what city-folks can believe. I’m sure you’re all gasping in horror at what I’ve said though too.

              1. fposte

                I don’t know whether you saw AAM ask regular commenter hildi to make a guest post in a recent thread or not, but it’s been making me think about why she’s so freaking brilliant. And one reason is she doesn’t take sides or do the them and us thing that, as MJ notes below, tends to be a pretty common human approach that the internet magnifies a thousandfold. We want to know whether to root for you or against you, dammit! Which is fine with sports teams, but in real life that loses us a lot more than it gains. So I’m really glad to be able to talk to people with different views here; I think it’s rare and important.

                1. Computer Guy Eli

                  I’m glad I can bring the ‘Country Hick’ opinion set here for ya’ll. I feel like we’re dangerously underrepresented online. Mostly because we’re too concerned with our farms/ranches. :D

                2. fposte

                  It’s funny, because I’m in a fairly rural area in the Midwest, but a fairly rural area in the Midwest is a whole nother thing than Montana. (Definite shortage of ranches around here.)

          2. Anon4This

            Remember, Eli, it is only a non-issue for the majority race. It is a very real issue for those that racism is aimed towards.

            1. Computer Guy Eli

              I understand that. The thing is, Native Americans aren’t the minority here.

              At least in my home town, there’s a very even amount of racism here, this is a result of the fact that there’s about 50% Native Americans and 50% white people. Also understand that I’ve lived here for 17 out of my 19 years, and spent from age 16 to age 18 -on- a reservation, where I was the minority.

              I don’t think it’s possible to empathize with me when you haven’t lived somewhere where it’s actually dangerous to be as snow-white as I am. That’s what makes it so confrontational when someone calls me out on a backhanded racist comment. I don’t intend to offend, but I feel encroached on when I’m being corrected by someone who doesn’t fully understand.

              1. fposte

                Though many people disagreeing with your points are likely to be very experienced with being in danger because of their race as well. I understand and agree that we often don’t realize what other people’s life experiences are, but it would be a mistake to think that similar life experiences would make them agree with you.

                1. Computer Guy Eli

                  Ok. I can get behind that. I just find that my initial reaction when some guy in a suit tells me to ‘Stop being racist’ is ‘Pal, you have no clue what they’re like.’

                  I know, that’s a terrible thing to say, I’m sure I’ll grow out of it or whatever

                2. esra

                  @Computer Guy Eli My issue, and I think a lot of people’s issue, is with the “Pal, you have no clue what they’re like.”

                  People make racist comments about groups consisting of thousands, millions, billions (!!) of people. It’s like no one ever stopped the racist and said, really, you think a million people are exactly alike?

                3. Computer Guy Eli

                  @esra

                  My reply would be “I’m glad, but I haven’t seen any proof of that.” People in my community act the same. Almost all of them do. I don’t know about outside of montana, but I’ve had some pretty bad run-ins with people here that have shaped my opinion of them. It’s hard to explain “I don’t mean everyone in the world, I’m sure there are nice native americans. I’m just saying the ones that are from my home town seem to be the bad example.”

                4. esra

                  @Computer Guy Eli Yikes man. I’m from a small town too but that’s just incredibly awful and sad.

              2. QualityControlFreak

                This information has an effect on the landscape here. You’ve been the minority, in Indian country. Racism and discrimination hurt, regardless of the color of your skin.

                I would ask you to consider this. The examples you gave of the kind of hateful name-calling and racist remarks that are accepted (the norm?) in your workplace were all those of white people toward Indians. Employed white people. I’m going on the assumption that the bad experiences you have had with Indians when you lived on their reservation likely included the same kind of treatment, or that you had some other experiences that support your assessment of their collective character?

                I guess the point I would like to make here is that racism is not okay. Not racism directed toward Indians; not racism directed toward white people.

                Prejudging a (large) group of people based on their demographic is not only harmful to our society as a whole, it’s very short-sighted at the individual level. You have listed out various viewpoints or types of people in your own demographic. Groups of people are made up of individuals. Don’t mentally throw out an entire segment of the population because you’ve had a bad experience with one subgroup. I wouldn’t throw out an entire batch of data because I don’t like the color of the ink it’s printed in.

                1. Computer Guy Eli

                  I guess I just don’t know how to articulate my opinion effectively. I’d like to say that I don’t support racism but it seems pretty clear I’ve painted myself a racist. I guess my problem is I don’t view my tentativeness as racism, but I can’t rationalize it any other way. I think it would be a wrong thing to hate everyone just because of their skin color, but I feel greeting everyone with a howdy hello if I’ve been shown that I’ll be met with a scowl is a waste of effort.

                  I don’t hate everyone because of their color, but I think of my community’s minority with less enthusiasm than I normally would, and I find that okay. And that’s not Okay? I think? This is far more thinking than I’ve done in many months.

                2. Elizabeth West

                  …I feel greeting everyone with a howdy hello if I’ve been shown that I’ll be met with a scowl is a waste of effort.

                  It is NEVER a waste of effort to treat other people like human beings. Perhaps if more people in your community did this, then those efforts would mitigate some of the racism. If people are kind to each other, it becomes more difficult to hate each other.

                  You can’t change the behavior of everyone in your hometown or the nasty boss or the scowling people on the reservation. You can only be mindful of your own behavior and attitudes. But if you do this, maybe others will follow your example. It’s a start, anyway.

                3. QualityControlFreak

                  @Eli,
                  Thinking is good. ;) I don’t think you need to pretend enthusiasm for individuals in your community who you have already had a negative experience with. But letting those experiences color your view of an entire group of people, going into any interaction with members of that group with negative expectations, is really cutting yourself short.

                  I don’t think you’re a racist. I think you’re young, and experienced in a given area, but that area is not representative of the U.S. as a whole. I appreciate that you’ve reached out here, as you will be able to have a conversation with people from highly diverse backgrounds.

                  And what I say is not okay is hate and discrimination directed at anyone based on their ethnicity. It was not okay if you got beat up on the Rez because you’re white, for example.

                4. Diet Coke Addict

                  Elizabeth makes such a good point. The only person you are accountable to is yourself, and the only person you can change is yourself. But you have to live with yourself going forward, and you can consciously choose to act in a way that you think you’ll feel good about in the future. Any time I’ve acted in a way because “hey, everyone else was doing that,” I’ve felt crappy about it afterwards, and the justification didn’t help.

              3. Anon4This

                That is what is called an oppressed majority. In fact, not to get off topic, that is the position of women. So, let me rephrase. Racism is only a non-issue for the racists and their demographic.

              4. Anon4This

                And I’ll say this: I lived in a town where I was 1 of 10 white people. My job took me there. We were not popular among the locals. We were instructed to never leave the office without an escort. So I do know what it is like, and I still think you are justifying.

                You seem like a nice person and I hope your heart changes, but leaving that town won’t change anything if you don’t change your heart.

              5. Cristina in England

                FWIW Eli, I don’t think you’re a racist, really. You’re 19, and I think you’re caught up in a town where there are two groups, and each considers the other to be just that “other”. Consider Protestants and Catholics in Ireland or Scotland, for instance. Just look at Northern Ireland. Both groups white, both have historical roots of oppression and hatred. What this means for young people today is that, in some places, you will still get beaten up for being “a protty bastard” or the reverse. This still goes on in Scotland, and elsewhere I’m sure, but I lived there for a long time so that’s what I know.

                I know if anyone is still reading this thread, they’ll want to jump on me for this, but you’re 19, you’re not responsible for centuries of genocide, you’re just not. You can only do your best to live honestly, kindly, and bravely, and it sounds like you’re a pretty self-aware dude. Keep going on your path. Best of luck.

                1. Cristina in England

                  To add: second sentence oversimplified to make a point and lead to the main point, but obviously your coworkers and boss are really racist.

                2. esra

                  It’s less about being responsible for genocide than it is about acknowledging the privilege that history has afforded you.

      4. Noah

        I get where you’re coming from Eli. I worked for a company with a large presence on Native American reservation in Arizona & New Mexico. Unfortunately, it was difficult to hire from the local population because they lacked the required expertise, training, credentials, and experience. So, there were a lot of us who would fly into Phoenix or Albuquerque, drive for several hours and then work for two weeks at a time on the reservation.

        It was a struggle to stay away from a racist mindset, especially when there was racist behavior coming back at us. There were several times cashiers walked away from us in the grocery store and severs would refuse to wait on us at restaurants. When I caught myself generalizing about the group I would stop and think it through. I found that in many cases it was just an easy association and only continued the us vs. them mentality. One example would be alcohol abuse. It was easy to see just another drunk Indian. However, I had to stop and realize that while alcohol abuse might be commonplace, in reality it was just another drunk person and if I wasn’t in that environment I wouldn’t even consider race.

    4. Ludo

      Call it out. It can be hard to do, but it has to be done. Most likely, she was raised this way and the only way to ever hope for her to change is to make her see that not everyone thinks this way.

      I had this come up a few months back when someone I usually hold in high regard referred to a black man in an obscenely racist manner. The look on my face was enough to elicit a “what” which prompted me to explain in very clear terms the meaning behind the phrase that was used and why it is so unbelievably offensive. To this person’s credit, they seemed horrified to have been using a racist phrase (or at least had the decency to pretend).

      So call her out, play dumb as to why she would say this (you don’t understand, how could someone’s race possibly mean XYZ?)

      FWIW, a very similar tactic is highly effective with younger generations that use the word “gay” to mean “lesser”

    5. MJ

      I encountered a similar comment at work this week, so I have been thinking about this a lot.

      I believe that racism lies at the cross-section of the human tendencies to generalize and to seek out that which is like ourselves. Generalization is an important mental skill that allows us to deal with the vast amount of information we encounter in our daily lives. Seeking that which is like ourselves creates a world that is more predictable and perhaps feels safer – it is an innate skill that contributes to survival. We all have a natural bias toward that which is like ourselves, that which we understand best. So when we generalize about others who are not like us in some way, we may feel superior about our own way of doing things. If the primary difference between us and others is race, this is racism.

      For people who are raised in an environment that is fairly homogeneous (like, if you grew up in a white neighborhood or on a reservation or in a country with a strong cultural heritage), unspoken and unrecognized biases abound. I would posit that racism is not black-and-white (sorry for the pun), but a wide spectrum from “no biases at all” to “completely racist” and that we all fall somewhere on the spectrum (and probably none of us is at either extreme).

      So when you encounter someone who you deem racist, perhaps you might consider that none of us is without bias, and that you have an opportunty through your example to help another human being shift toward “no biases” as you are doing yourself through conscious thought. The person who is racist is often generalizing from their experience and exhibiting biases for their own like people (both natural human tendencies), and they may lack the awareness of the level of superiority they have assigned to their own race in the process.

      You ask how to love the sinner, and I would suggest that we love sinners by realizing that we are all sinners, and that we owe a duty to help each other along the path.

      1. fposte

        I like this point, and it reminds me of the human tendency to be most severe to those with vices we ourselves have only just won over or are still struggling with. (See US in the 1980s with South Africa, a mere 20 years after the Voting Rights Act.)

      2. Not So NewReader

        I love this point.

        I took an online test to find my biases. Yep, I’ve got them, buried, but still there. And not in the places I would typically think of to look- that was the kicker.

        Yes, it is very difficult when you are surrounded by people who are prejudice, to be that lone voice in the wilderness. And yeah, you do start thinking about things like losing a body part or your house going up in smoke. (One night decades ago, I could not sleep. For whatever reason I had to run out side for a minute to get something out of my car. It was 2 AM. In the distance, I saw a fire. It looked like it was in the shape of a cross.)
        Additionally, I have been in regions of this country where people are spitting nails when they talk about X group. (X group being a group that I would not even think of as being a target.) I know there is plenty of contempt/hatred out there.

        I have told friends are around me not to use vulgar words to describe groups of people. I do it in one-on-one conversations. My goal is not to make a big stink, my goal is to have a sincere conversation with lasting effect.
        Friends responses are, uh, varied. A couple friends could not even see my point about what I was saying. The conversation boiled down to “Do not use [insert nasty word here] around me. I don’t want to hear it.” That was the only way I could get my point across.
        Other friends just stay away from general topics that involve certain groups of people.

        In the example of X group getting all the jobs, I would point out something that broadened the picture. “Well I haven’t seen the statistics on that, but if the jobs are gone, then this area needs more work because people are still not employed.” It shows the flaws in the thinking and says “no it is not X group’s fault, it is a much bigger topic”.

        I have one friend that puts down the group that are his nationality. He puts down their country of origin (yes, this is the country his family came from!). This friend is a very educated person. I tried to say that his jokes and complaints are only perpetuating the bias, as he says these things frequently, loudly and publicly. Running at the same time my friend suffers from very low self esteem. I tried to say that the two go hand-in-hand. If you believe your heritage is worthless, it’s not a big step to decide that you are worthless.
        All I can say is sometimes the more educated a person is the more blind they are. He did not get my point, AT ALL.

        Eli, you can find your path through this. All we can do is send out a wave and hope it catches. You might be able to talk to one or two people in private and say something like, “John, you seem like such a good egg, you are always doing nice things for people. What’s up with all this anger toward X group?” As the conversation unfolds, encourage them to seek facts and the facts should be from trustworthy sources. Yeah, this takes a while. And you may never know what impact you have had.

  30. MH

    Just curious: If the relative of an ex you seriously dated for a few years (who turned out to be a total jerk and kept trying to contact you or check up on you even 2-3 years after you broke up) is an employee at a place you might be temping at, would you still consider the job? It’s a great opportunity but I might be encountering this relative often.

    1. INTP

      Sure. I wouldn’t if this particular relative already had a history of trying to make my life hell or if my personal safety might be in danger by this ex even knowing where I am, but I assume you would have included any details like this in my post. I wouldn’t care if any of my relatives’ exes showed up at work, except to give them a polite hello, and I think most sane people feel the same.

      1. MH

        She once asked me if I would consider a reconciliation with him. Hell no. I’m just assuming that she would tell her brother (my ex) I was working there. I had a seasonal job at a Target one year and this relative’s hubby saw me. She was shopping one day and saw me and told me her hubby saw me.

      2. MH

        INTP: I shared a mutual friend with this ex, and the mutual friend told me that my ex would make a beeline for his Facebook page b/c we were friends on Facebook and he would look up my page. The mutual friend had to unfriend me to get him to stop.

    2. Tech Worker

      For me, it would depend on how bad the ex was. Run of the mill jerk behavior and looking up your Facebook page sometimes? I’d go ahead and temp there. But if the ex had ever made threats or made me feel unsafe in any way, I wouldn’t. Not worth the risk. You don’t really know how close they and their relative are.

      1. Concerned

        The relative (his sister) and my ex are pretty close. Without spilling any beans, just someone who turned out to be a bully and I became the one expected to help with watching her dog (even if I didn’t volunteer). It’s a family company, so I don’t want to be anti-social but at the same time, I’m afraid she will tell my ex (her brother) I’m here. The job also might impact some freelance I do too. I’m a green light on this job but now I really don’t think I’m going to be comfortable there.

  31. MH

    I know I should just not worry about it, but her brother whom I dated went as far as looking me up via Facebook through a mutual friend’s page.

  32. WednesdaysMisfit

    I know we have a lot of “Friends” lovers in the AAM community. The show first came out when I was in junior high, so I was a bit young for it at the time. I bought the first two seasons awhile back and have spent the last week rewatching them. (And I just ordered Seasons 3 & 4 this morning!)

    It’s such a classic show. And I love re-living the 90’s fashions. :)

    1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      At this exact moment:

      S4:EP9, “The One Where They Are Going to Party”

      That means I’ve done about 80 episodes since last week’s Sunday Open Thread. (Netflix marathon)

      I am a woman of single minded commitment and tenacity! Just ask me the lyrics to “Smelly Cat”.

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        My husband is leaving the country for two weeks next month and I’m already planning what I want to marathon on Netflix. Friends is winning by a landslide right now.

        “Didn’t you read Lord of the Rings in high school?” “No, I had sex in high school.”

    2. Treena Kravm

      The entire show is on Netflix right now, if you don’t want to pay for the DVDs. I read an article a looong time ago that held the argument that Ross is the anti-feminist and now that I’m re-watching it, it’s all I can see. He’s the biggest jerk ever and I seriously hate him.

      1. Diet Coke Addict

        It’s fascinating to see how poorly big aspects of the show have aged. What was progressive for the early 90s–Carol and Susan’s lesbian marraige and raising a son–is played for laughs, the entire arc of Chandler’s dad, tons of stuff. So interesting to see how far television has come in twenty-odd years.

        1. Short and Stout

          Yes, I was just realizing the other day that K.D. Lang didn’t even come out in the Advocate until 1992 — I mean, it’s really stunning to think back to a time when the pop culture didn’t just think of course she’s lesbian. It’s not just “Friends.” Though this was a few years earlier, even in the day I couldn’t watch “Heathers” — it’s so stunningly anti-gay, I actually wrote with three other college students a major paper on how homophobic it is.

          1. The IT Manager

            Damn, I have the intention to rewatch Heathers soon.’

            I just rewatched an old 90s WWIII movie – By Dawn’s Early Light. It was not nearly as good as I remembered. It was kind of silly.

        2. Treena Kravm

          Yea it’s really interesting to see the in-between. TV shows in the 50’s-70’s didn’t even mention LGBT stuff, let alone mock it or say it was wrong. But then when it’s starting to be discussed, it’s mostly offensive, but hey, at least it’s getting talked about? And then over time it gets better.

          1. fposte

            Some did in the 1970s–it came up several times on All in the Family, Barney Miller, and of course Soap. Interestingly, I remember a trans plotline on, of all places, Medical Center.

            1. fposte

              I just posted a Wikipedia link of LGBT plots in 1970s television. Brings back a lot of memories, although I guess I need to rewatch that Columbo episode, because I never got that from it.

              1. WednesdaysMisfit

                This is really showing my age, but I just clicked on that link and barely recognized any of those shows. Of course, I’ve heard of a few of them but haven’t seen any of the episodes. (For reference, I’m 32.)

  33. Colette

    My 10-year-old niece just facetimed me from a sleepover, crying.

    She lost her glasses and is going to be in so much trouble.

    I told her it was going to be ok, and pointed out that she might have more luck finding her glasses once they turned on the lights.

    1. fposte

      Oh, honey. I hope she manages to have a good time anyway. I laughed at the lights thing and then remembered that this morning I frantically searched for a device for several minutes before I remembered it was in my hand.

      1. Colette

        The lights are on, and the glasses are still missing, but she’s in a better mood. I told her to fold up the bedding.

        I do believe she was supposed to be picked up ten minutes ago, though, so if they’re still missing, her mom now knows about it.

      1. Colette

        Yeah, part of being a kid is screwing up and learning it’s not fatal.

        For the record, the glasses are still missing, but her mom snuggled her instead of getting mad.

  34. Liane

    Christmas/New Year’s season is officially over at my house. Husband made The Teens take down & store the tree last night, which means I will be dealing this week with whatever (A)they thought wasn’t part of the “request” & (B) 1 sibling thought they could leave for the other. But that happens every year.
    The Big Reason it’s over is that Son is heading back to college later today for Freshman Year, Part 2. And he only just got here! Literally as well as figuratively. He came home the 2nd week of December, but he spent all the past week at Ozark Mission Project, helping repair damage from an April tornado in a nearby town. Yes, I am very proud of him. He was on the local TV news, even. (I still say we shouldn’t have had to learn that from our pastor’s congregation-wide email ) He sounded so poised & grown-up. Of course I told everyone about the interview!
    But still not ready for him to go back!

    Will console myself with knowing we will see him for his 19th birthday at the end of the month. We made plans to visit him the weekend after & watch him play on the college Quidditch team! Yes, there is such a thing. And we are all geeks & Harry Potter fans enough to enjoy it.

  35. INTP

    Does anyone else feel a weird guilt over returning Christmas gifts?

    Or to put it a different way, if you gave someone something fairly expensive and it turned out that they didn’t need it, would you want them to return it for something they needed, even if you did put thought into it?

    Right now I am feeling guilt (which I know is irrational) over the fact that my dad, having no idea what to get me, used my email to find my default Amazon wishlist that I use to keep links to things while I’m comparing prices or watching to see if a price goes down or shopping for stuff to add to my subscribe and save and don’t always take things off when I know I’m not going to buy them. He bought me a pricey textbook that I can actually get through interlibrary loan for free and said it was my “big gift.” There’s other junk involved here, like guilt over not staying close enough to him that he knew anything to get me without a wish list (he said a couple of times that he has no way of knowing what I like anymore)…I’m just having a really tough time mentally with returning this textbook even though the Amazon credit could go a long way towards things I need more.

    1. JMW

      Just a thought … Maybe you should keep it as a reminder to talk more to your dad. It’s a symbol of how much he wants to know you and give you something that your wish for.

    2. BRR

      My husband does. Anything that’s a gift or even hand me downs I think he views them as belonging to the other person. From an objective perspective, return it.

      Is he maybe just not a good gift giver? I love giving presents and coming up with creative ideas. My husband is the polar opposite and would rather just be told what to get or even just not do it at all. Amazon wish lists and registries are basically the best thing since sliced bread for him.

      1. INTP

        He’s actually a pretty good gift giver. When I was in high school he gave me stuff I didn’t even know I wanted like a car GPS and ipod when they were still new things. I just don’t see him often now due to living far away, and he says he doesn’t know what I already have or what I like to do, but to be fair, no one in my family wants to buy me a gift without a list. I’ve been using wish lists for years on the request of pretty much everyone, including my mom who I talk to every week. I think because I don’t live near my family so they don’t see what I already own and I have a lot of hobbies they don’t share, it’s just hard to know what I need. This year he just found my default list instead of waiting for me to email my Christmas list.

    3. the gold digger

      Yes, I would want them to return it. I don’t want to give gifts that the recipient does not want.

      However – I agree with JMW that this might be a chance to talk to your dad a little more frequently. (Caveat: I am assuming you have a nice dad whom you love and want to talk to, not a jerk dad. If you have a jerk dad, then this gets really complicated and probably could make the guilt – undeservedly – worse.)

      1. INTP

        He’s not a jerk, though we’ve had some issues. (The guilt started with me being made to feel like I didn’t love my dad’s family – with my stepmother and half siblings – enough, which I realize now was not my fault as I was just more reserved and used to a quieter, less affectionate sort of household. I did deliberately distance myself from them for awhile because I felt like I couldn’t be myself without hurting feelings.) We both have a tendency to be a little standoffish and he just never calls me first except on my birthday. When I lived nearby, whenever I went to see him he would hint that I should stop by more often, but would never invite me. Now I can only see him once or twice a year because I live far away, but he isn’t buying my plane tickets (my mom is – I’m in grad school) or coming to visit me. He just seems to think it’s my responsibility to initiate any contact between us and I actually get shy and anxious about it.

        1. the gold digger

          Ouch. That is complicated that you are expected to initiate all contact. That doesn’t seem fair. I don’t blame you for being anxious about it – it’s almost as if you would wonder if he even wants to talk at all if he won’t ever call first. Do you think that’s the case? Or is he just someone who hates talking on the phone (like me)?

          I never feel like I need an invitation to visit my mom, but I can see how it might be different if she were remarried with a new family – then I might feel a little more like I was intruding. It’s easy to see how this is a tough situation for you – and that the gift isn’t the main issue.

          However, I would suggest that your dad did make a pretty big effort to get you something he thought you might want and couldn’t afford. It seems like he does want to do it right. I still think it would be OK to exchange the gift for something that you currently need, though. That’s what it seems like he really wants – to be able to do something nice for you. He did what he could with the information he had (although if he had called or emailed to ask directly, that might have been better) and I bet he would not be offended at all if you exchanged the textbook for something else.

    4. Treena Kravm

      Something generic like that, no problem. However, I still have a foot long gold crucifix that was given to us by an aunt at the wedding (we’re both raised Christian, but haven’t gone to church in 5-10 years).

      I wouldn’t feel guilty about your dad not knowing you enough to get you good gifts. That just happens when you move far away. He’s not in your house, visiting you. Even if you did call him up more often, you’re not going to describe all of the new things you bought yourself, or at least I wouldn’t. Focus on the keeping in touch, not the gift.

    5. Gene

      My view has always been once I gift something to someone, it’s theirs to do with as they like. Yeah, I might feel a pang if I had put a lot of effort into something (like having a custom pair of earrings made, but that’s another story), but I don’t hold onto it. Same thing, if someone gives me something, it’s mine to use, sell, give away, exchange, regift, burn, lose, etc.

      My wife doesn’t feel so much that way. :-) She still brings up the string of Mardi Gras beads from the Rio Parade In The Sky that she handed to me and I gave them to a little girl whose sister had gotten some, but she hadn’t. I caught mom’s eye and got “the nod”, then leaned down, put the beads around her neck and whispered “Ho, Ho, Ho” in her ear (I have a long almost white beard and hair); her eyes got like saucers, I smiled and we walked on. She now knows that Santa vacations in Vegas and wears an Aloha shirt when not on duty.

  36. StillHealing

    Well, I was right to worry about husbands friend from childhood that he last saw 30 years ago. He has been having an emotional over the phone affair since when she contacted him in November. They talk daily. He calls her multiple times a day.

    He is divorcing me. She lives on the opposite coast, in Maine of all things. He lied so much over the last two months, especially more so since the beginning of the year . I need to move out to somewhere safe because he is so strange and triggering my PTSD daily.

    I’m completely heartbroken. Happy Fricken New Year!

    1. StillHealing

      I left out the keyword AFFAIR above. My brain is fried… I can’t eat and can only asleep by drugging myself heavily.

    2. fposte

      Oh, StillHealing. I’m so sorry.

      If you haven’t, you might want to have a look at the Chump Lady site. I’m not on board with all of her approach, but it’s a really useful counterpoint to a lot of narratives about deceptive and adulterous partners.

      1. StillHealing

        Thank you. I know of ChumpLady because November 2013, three friends in a row told me about their husbands cheating….I started reading it off and on. I was shocked and dumbfounded by finding out the news. One friend is still married…and her husband cheated on her 19 years ago and found out when her husbands son from that affair *contacted her on facebook* ! I was so blinded sided by my husbands affair because he lied to me and told me he cut all contact with her when he did *the exact opposite* Thanks for the reminder. I’m just so raw right now.

    3. Buu

      Oh no I’m so sorry, if you feel up to it get some legal advice before you move out if you can. You might also want to make sure you have a copy of the phone bill.

      1. StillHealing

        Yes, I’m going to contact someone tomorrow and looking into temporary housing until a new friend has a bedroom in her house opening up. I shouldn’t have to move….HE should.

    4. Blue_eyes

      I’m so sorry, this is terrible. Please take the time to do whatever you need to take care of yourself mentally/emotionally.

      On the practical side, make sure you have access to money that is not in joint accounts, and then contact a lawyer.

      1. StillHealing

        Yep. Good advice. I already move my half of our tiny saving into my checking. We have gone through most of it since I have been ill and out of work.

        This situation also creates a work related question for Alison: ” When and how do I approach my current supervisor to let him know I am in need of pursuing full-time work much sooner than I expected?”
        Supervisor has aleady told me to let them know if I’m interested in the permanent position once they post it.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          I would be straightforward and raise it as soon as you’re sure. I’d just say something like, “We’ve talked in the past about my possible interest in full-time work. I’m now at the point where I’d like to explore ways to make that happen. I’d love to get a better sense from you about the timeline for the full-time position you’re going to have at some point, and how strong a candidate you think I might be for it.”

    5. justine

      My heart goes out to you StillHealing.

      A book that helped me through a similar situation is “Husband and Wife” by Leah Stewart. And that new Bravo show “Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce” when the main character says it would be so much easier if he just died – I was like THANK YOU!

      It’s highly unlikely my husband will die before we divorce. I think you’re lucky because your husband is going through with a divorce quickly – ripping the bandaid off. More than two years later and mine is still, ugh, mine. He first thought I would leave him when he told me and I was like you started this, you end it. I got a personal horoscope reading as a gift this year and the astrologer said something big happened in your relationship in June 2012 and you should have been divorced a while ago. Yep. (don’t worry about I won’t file myself – long story to do with family, money, blah, blah, blah)

      So I hope your thankful you’re in a better situation than me and I hope you find that this experience leads to better things for you.

      1. StillHealing

        That must be really difficult to share the same space with him. Omg, I just couldn’t do that. I totally understand ” you made the mess, you clean it up” Mine is such a poor planner that I swear to you, he is going to play dumb, helpless, yet entitled – until I step in and organize the divorce process! He’s mor so looking forward to saving his money to BUY A PLANE TICKET to see her, than to find a place for himself to live. He seriously thought I’d just stay here and play happy suzie homemaker and carry on as if nothing happened! It is sucking the life right out of my bones to be sharing this space. He is giddy in love at times and not feeling the pain me a my child who is still at home are feeling.

        Thank you for the suggestions. Good luck to you.

      1. StillHealing

        Yes, please do. I sent him a meme about since he thinks he can have his cake and eat it too….that I hope he chokes on a sprinkle!

        Since you don’t know me, I must tell you never in my life could I imagine myself sending a meme like that to someone. I am a peaceful person. I am never vicious much less waste time being or doing mean things. When I read it, I couldn’t help myself.

        LOL, thank you for the laugh.

        1. Elizabeth West

          The “chokes on a sprinkle” made me laugh. And I think you’re justified to be angry under the circumstances.
          Right now, I’m feeling very similar, though on a much smaller scale. As long as we don’t ACTUALLY kick them, then it’s okay.

          1. StillHealing

            Yep. I’ve been told that if I WASN’T feeling like this at times, then I wouldn’t be normal. Sending you hugs. I understand the sting.

    6. Not So NewReader

      I am shocked, I cannot imagine how you feel- this is so fast, it’s dizzying. Please know my thoughts are with you. And please take care of you.

      1. StillHealing

        Yes, ABSOLUTELY dizzyingly fast. He was just waiting for this opportunity apparently. However, told me repeatedly that he was committed to our marriage. (He always seemed angry so I’d ask what was going on)
        LIAR!!!!

    7. Stars and violets

      My goodness, that was fast! You must still be in shock as well as heartbroken.
      I am so, so sorry. Look after yourself, get a good lawyer and, as danr said above, change the locks. Best wishes.

      1. StillHealing

        Yes. Still in Shock. It’s like he learned NOTHING about living with someone healing from severe PTSD. He can’t get how unsafe I feel with him here. At one point, he even led me on to think we could do a trial separation….giving me hope. So I emailed the other woman and told her to stop what I thought was just the beginning of an emotional affair -before it ruins my marriage. He woke me up by shining a LIGHT in MY FACE which he knows both waking me suddenly and flashes of light are HUGE PTSD triggers for me. He was angry that I emailed her because he thought he’d lose her…..then truth after truth started spewing from his mouth that it has been a full fledged over the phone affair since November. Besides the gross Eeewwwww factor….and that we had sex during that time frame…….and that the lies- then -truth- then -lies- then- truth pattern……my brain literally HURTS (which is common with PTSD) YET- I am surprised I’m not in worse mental shape. I’m struggling for sure and want him out of here. He has also lied REPEATED to the other Woman and she has no clue of course. They deserve each other. Thank you for your comforting words, Stars and violets and everyone.

        1. Saro

          I am livid on your behalf. I am sending you good vibes that you end up in a better position once he’s out of there. He sounds like a petulant, spoiled brat. Tell him to get out now! Ugh.

          1. StillHealing

            I texted him on Monday from work and told him he needs to leave. I have logged into our cell phone account and besides the 2000 + minutes in the past month he’s talked with her (I think she called him 1 time and he has called her the rest of the minutes) I see there are also many texts. In just the past day, there is a spike in a lot of different calls going in and out from his cellphone. Not just her phones. Interesting that I can go back and see HE was averaging about 20 minutes a month all between me, my son and daughter. I honestly know I’m not safe around him. I don’t even know him anymore. He has changed completely. I have been letting people know if something happens to me that he is to blame.

            Luckily, I have good friends and even acquaintances who are very supportive and all have said, “He is the one who needs to leave”

            Last night and tonight I have somewhere to stay. I slept soooo good last night. best sleep all year so far.

          2. StillHealing

            Thank you for your good vibes. Today at one point, I felt a shift and peaceful while at work. I attribute it to good thoughts and vibes people are sending my way. So thank you!

  37. Mimmy

    So I decided to try “How to Get Away With Murder” when my husband started watching all of the episodes On Demand. I remembered a conversation about this show in a previous Open Thread so I looked it up and saw the comments were mixed, so I was skeptical myself. I needn’t worry – I love it!! I think there are two episodes I still need to see before new episodes resume at the end of the month. Viola Davis is FABULOUS!

    1. EvilQueenRegina

      I decided to try watching it after hearing other people rave about it (can’t remember the discussion here though) and I love it! I’m caught up completely so better not say too much more.

  38. Audiophile

    I finally switched carriers! After talking about it and debating and complaining for way too long, I switched on Wednesday to AT&T. I couldn’t be happier. It’s the best service, I think I’ve ever had. I have real 4G speeds and LTE as well! It’s like discovering a whole new world I’ve been missing out on. My old Sprint phone kept claiming I had 4G but when I’d run speed test, those speeds were abysmal. Sometimes worse than my 3G, I think.
    I got the LG G3 for a penny on Amazon Wireless. And ported my number out.
    I talked to my best friend for more than an hour last night and only lost the call ONCE because his phone died lol. The days of phone calls where I sit in one spot and leave my phone in another spot several feet away are over. I kind of wish I had done it sooner.

    1. Treena Kravm

      Congrats! My husband made a similar switch to Verizon. He had Credo-which is a progressive cell company, but uses the Sprint network. It was ok where we used to live, but he literally couldn’t use his phone in our house, or whenever he was in a moving car, unless he was in a big city. He finally switched to the pay as you go for only $45/month, and now we put the extra $20/month towards those progressive charities. It makes him soo much happier.

    2. Elizabeth West

      Yay! I went from Net10 to T-Mobile when my Galaxy S2 bricked. I get billed but it’s no-contract (and S4! and 4G! woo!). So far I’m happy. I can call and text overseas and for a small short-term fee, I’ll be able to use my phone in England (haven’t tried it yet). I really liked Net10’s prices, but it’s very limited for travel. I had to buy a British phone because Net10 phones won’t work outside the US and I couldn’t unlock it without losing my number.

      Poor little O2 Britphone; he’s just an mp3 player right now, though I put Skype on him and keep him charged so I can use him as a backup just in case. I don’t regret buying him, however; it was much easier (and attracted less attention) to google stuff than to try and read a map on a street corner.

    3. Oh anon

      Do you love your LG G3? I love my G2! I would much rather pay At&T a higher price and get good, reliable service than pay tmobile a lot less for junk. (we switched 4 years ago)

      1. Audiophile

        I do love my LG G3, but it was a compromise. Basically, about two weeks ago, I upgraded to the Nexus 6 on Sprint and loved it. But I didn’t want to be stuck with Sprint another 2 years, so I returned it. I don’t have $700 to buy the phone off contract (as much as I’d like to lie to myself and pretend I do) so I started looking at other options. If you’re wondering why I didn’t buy the N6 on AT&T, it’s because AT&T made some alternations, that kind of made the phone no longer pure Google/Android.

        You switched from AT&T to T-Mobile, how come? I was on T-Mobile when I had my first ever cell phone and it was horrible for the area that I currently live in. I never had service. SO then mom and I switched to Nextel and by the time the merger was happening mom switched to Verizon and I stayed with Sprint. I briefly left for Verizon for about 7 months but their shady practices made me go back to Sprint during the Premier/AnyMobileAnyTime days. That was 4 years, they so pleasantly reminded me the other day. I got fed up with losing really important calls – like phone interviews or heart to hearts with the bestie. That I said it’s time to jump ship. Best decision I’ve made in a long time. My bill shouldn’t be too high because I can get a 22% discount with my employer, otherwise it would be about $6 more than I paid Sprint but seriously I don’t care.

  39. Elkay

    I’m sure there’s lots of planners on here who might appreciate this. I’m going to Disneyworld in 10 months and I’m starting to have anxiety dreams about arriving without scheduling all our time in the park, dinner reservations and FastPasses. I’m a blast to go on a trip with, I can plan the fun out of anything…

    1. Dan

      I just plan the big stuff and the “musts.” I realize Disney is a bit different,but in big cities I just plan for one big activity a day and wing the rest of it. It works reasonably well.

      1. Short and Stout

        This is all I personally can handle too (though I’m smiling over Elkay’s situation). I knew I was going to be in NYC for a two-day meeting and, months ahead of time, bought tickets to a Broadway show for the day I arrived before the meeting started. I mean I didn’t even go beyond that and try to plan ahead anything else and felt I had accomplished something major. :)

        Elkay, I’ve said for years that in most of my groups of friends and even in my family there is one person who tends to be the one who plans everything — and contrary to what you seem to think, they don’t at all take the fun out of it. (Unless it’s the stress on you you’re referring to.) Without this outlier person, most people would never get around and do things in the first place! Seriously.

        1. Elkay

          That’s good to hear, thanks! I kind of like the planning but I get annoyed when I’m the only one interested in doing it :)

      2. Elkay

        Big cities I kind of work on that assumption as in “Here’s a list of things I want to see” and that works pretty well, apart from the time I decided we’d see The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Freedom Tower, 9/11 memorial, the Ghostbusters firehouse, the Friends apartment, Greenwich village and the Empire State Building all in one day, that was one of my over-enthusiastic plans, we slept well that night!

        The problem with Disney is that there are people there that make my planning look amateur and the internet’s come a long way since our last trip there which means there are now blogs which can panic me and Disney’s also made everything bookable in advance online so you get sucked into the vortex of booking prior to your trip because everyone else is doing it. Logic tells me that there’s only two of us, we don’t mind eating late and we’re going at a quiet time of year but my brain doesn’t always listen to logic.

      3. dang

        agreed, that’s what I do too. It allows me to feel like I’ve been a productive little tourist but also had enough time for a little spontaneity.

    2. Live in Orlando

      I’ve lived my entire life in Orlando, so I’ve been to Disney World more times than I care to remember. Don’t focus on seeing everything. You will not have fun. Focus on enjoying a few things. Have a plan, but don’t plan too much. For many people (and it sounds like you are one of them), planning the vacation is as much fun as going on the vacation. But, it’s easy for plans to go south – a ride is broken, it starts to rain (it rains every day here for at least 10 minutes), someone gets tired and grumpy. Make a plan, but be flexible. Don’t let a bump in your plans ruin your day. (That’s when the the planner of the group takes the fun out of everything. If you can go with the flow when plans don’t work, then planner are fun.)

      I can’t stress enough how it is far better to focus on doing a few things and enjoying them, then trying to see everything. For example, If you go one ride and someone in your family loves it and wants to do it again, but that means you will have to skip another ride that you haven’t been one, go on the first ride again. It’s not about riding every single ride. It’s about having fun with the people you are with.

      I’ve seen too many families come here and try to do everything Disney has to offer in one week. They leave here exhausted and grumpy and don’t really have any good memories. They did so much that it was all a blur.

      Even if you plan, be sure to leave some unplanned time. Once you get here, you will discover things that weren’t in the guidebooks or you missed in the guidebooks or whatever. Plan some free time so you can do those things. As Dan said, plan the “musts” and let the rest happen.

      Last tip – at the hotels, the shopping malls, the restaurants, and everywhere else in the tourist section of town, you will run into people who offer you some great prize (usually discounted tickets) if you attend a 90-minute presentation. Don’t do it. The 90-minute presentation will take half of your day (even if they tell you it won’t, it will). It is not worth whatever the discount is. Any place that is off of Disney property that is called a visitor center or discount ticket center is a timeshare tour hub. If someone asks where you are from before they say hello or ask how you are doing, there is a good chance that person is a timeshare sales rep. (I’m not anti-timeshare, just anti-sitting-through-a-timeshare-presentation-while-on-vacation.)

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, seconding the last tip. My parents got discounted tickets and a free hotel room…but they had to sit through a four-hour timeshare presentation and got follow-up calls for a couple of weeks afterwards.

  40. ILiveToServe

    Leaving the Polar Vortex for 4 days in New Orleans on Thursday for a business meeting. Taking the spouse. I have Thursday afternoon and evening free. Friday until 2:00. Dinner on my own Friday. Business all day and business dinner Saturday night. Sunday Morning free- afternoon flight. Sooooo.

    I have been to New Orleans a few time- like lunch at Mothers, coffee at Cafe duMond. I have asthma and can’t be anywhere smokey. The husband like music and is fine going out without me.

    Any suggestions for Thursday night and Friday night dinner? Any must see/must do Friday morning or Sunday morning? Music at night for the husband?
    Looking forward to being outside without my parka.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      While I cannot give you NOLA recs (how I wish I could!), I just want to give you a big fat raspberry. I leave today for a week in upstate NY for work. I live in the south. It’s cold here, but it’s F****** COLD there. And I will be walking from my hotel to the office.

      So, basically, I’m super jealous and I hope you have a great time. :)

    2. the gold digger

      Acme Oyster House is good. (Actually, I don’t think it’s possible to find bad food in NOLA.)

      W liked the Old US Mint. The museum on Jackson Square is also neat – can’t remember what it’s called.

    3. Audiophile

      I want to leave the Polar Vortex. I’m envious that you’re going to Nola. That’s on my list, along with Tennessee (probably Nashville or Memphis) and Texas (Austin or Dallas).

    4. Nancypie

      Live music on Frenchmens street. I went to a brunch/class/demo at New Orleans school of Cooking that was really fun. Great seafood meal at something with Fins in the name…

    5. Noah

      We did a horse drawn carriage tour around the French Quarter. It is totally a touristy thing, but it was a lot of fun to hear the guide tell us various history, although I have a feeling it was embellished a bit. Also, they stopped in front of one place that brought hurricanes to the carriage, awesome.

      I don’t know where you business is, but if you are near the convention center there is a great sandwich place called Cochon Butcher that’s good for lunch. I don’t think they’re open for dinner though.

      We also used an app for a walking tour of the Garden District, only took a few hours and then we had lunch. It was quiet, and a good way to spend the morning after being on Bourbon Street the night before. We had lunch at this local burger place that had every kind of meat imaginable (ostrich, boar, venison, etc.), I just can’t remember the name of it and can’t find it on a Google search. I just know if was in or near the Garden District and we happened upon it while walking.

      Enjoy! I was there for a company event in July and it seemed like everytime I left the hotel I wanted to go right back in, shower, and change clothes because of the heat and humidity. I bet it is a much nicer place to be this time of year.

      1. ILiveToServe

        Noah,
        Thanks for the recs. I will be near the convention center and plan to have lunch friday at the Butcher. Sunday morning might be a good time for the garden district

    6. Jackie

      Hopefully you’re signed up to see replies to this post! I lived in NOLA for about 5 years and can recommend a ton of places but will stick to a few favorites:

      Liuzza’s By the Track (near City Park, off of Esplanade on N. Lopez): SUPER delicious Po Boys, my favorite gumbo in the city, and it’s really inexpensive relative to most of the touristy places that you get closer to the French Quarter.

      Port of Call (at the edge of the French Quarter- on Esplanade): Huge, delicious burgers and baked potatoes. If you like ridiculous drinks, the “Port of Call” is delicious and much less cloying than a Hurricane.

      Jacques’Imos (Uptown, off Carrollton on Oak Street): My favorite slightly fancier place. They do great seafood, fried chicken, and have these addictive cornbread muffins that surely contain a stick of butter a piece. They also tend to be very prone to “lagniappe” or freebies if you’re nice to the server!

      Juan’s Flying Burrito (Garden District area on Magazine Street): If you’re not in the mood for NOLA style food, they have really interesting options. The Juaha Roll is like a salad had a baby with a burrito. It’s rolled like sushi but has a tarragon chicken or shrimp filling with a salsa-style dipping sauce.

      Kyoto (Uptown on Prytania): Speaking of sushi, I love this place. It’s small, unassuming, and delicious. They have a Ceviche Roll that I dream about- literally. And though I’ve never been a huge octopus fan, the octopus salad there is incredible.

      Parkway Bakery (Mid-City on Hagan): A very classic NOLA po boy joint that is famous because it’s delicious. And you’d get to see a part of the city that tourists rarely see!

      Angelo Braccato (Mid-City on S. Carrollton): If you go to Parkway, stop by Angelo Braccato for amazing gelato from a tiny, old school Italian place. The pistachio is incredible and they also have great coffee and cookies.

      Just a few suggestions! I could go on for days but these are the places I went most often that I could easily give directions to even 5 years after my last stint in the Big Easy!

      1. ILiveToServe

        Jackie, These are perfect. our group is splitting up on Friday night and its great to have some personal recommendations. I’ll report in next week where I end up.

  41. Ask a Manager Post author

    Log house update: We’ve concluded that we’re only going to look at things within an hour of D.C. rather than the original two hours we were thinking. (This way, if my career falls apart at some point after moving, I can more easily adjust, rather than being stuck much further away with fewer options.) This limits the number of places available to us (there are way more log homes for sale in, say, West Virginia than in the areas we’re now confined to), but there are enough here that I think we’ll be able to eventually find one we like enough to buy. Also, I’m assuming that once spring hits, there might be more on the market.

    Anyway, we’re going to look at a second one today. It looks beautiful online but might be too close to a major highway — we’re going to find out in person.

    Basically, all I do now is look at real estate online. It’s totally addictive.

    1. Alistair

      I can speak a little to highway sounds. We live near a major connector route between two interstates. In the winter, you can see movement on the overpass from the house. But typically, you can’t hear anything inside the house, unless it’s either dead silent inside, or some jerk revs an engine really hard.

      In the summer, the leafy trees actually block a surprising amount of noise. What gets through is just the general sussurus of traffic. We learned to tune that out pretty easily. Then some jerk revs an engine really hard…

      So if noise is a consideration, take a look at the level of forestation nearby. It might be quieter in the summer than you first think. And if you have to concentrate to hear traffic in the house, then you’ll likely never notice it while doing just basic living.

    2. Blue_eyes

      We won’t even be considering buying a home/apartment for at least 5 years, and I still spend tons of time looking at real estate online! It’s so fun to imagine all the lives you could live in each home, and how I would arrange the furniture.

    3. danr

      Don’t give up on the ‘major highway’ until you go out to the property a couple of times. Our first house was off a 4 lane divided highway that was one of the main truck routes through the area. We were about 200 feet off the highway and the noise wasn’t bad. In the winter we could tell when there had been a major snowstorm overnight. The road was completely quiet.

    4. Elkay

      I particularly enjoy it when an apartment in our complex comes up for sale because then I can check out what other people have done with the same space. I have no intention of moving, I’m far too lazy.

      1. Blue_eyes

        I totally do this! Whenever there are open houses on our floor, I stop in just to see what the other apartments look like (all are different sizes/layouts than ours). We found out some great information about the construction going on in our building from talking to an agent at one open house (he wasn’t busy, so we chatted for a while). We also found out why we could hear the neighbors having sex – their bed was right against our shared wall.

    5. Elizabeth West

      I’m not far from a major highway either, but I can’t really hear much. Something that will help mitigate noise from the road is really well-insulated windows. Mine are not, so every once in a while, I can hear the big rigs roar on by. If the house has good windows, it shouldn’t be too much problem.

    6. Ask a Manager Post author

      Well, we looked at it and was beautiful — but we did decide that the interstate was a deal-breaker. It’s really close to the house — you can both hear it and see it from the house — and while I could see that not being a deal-breaker with a normal house, it feels kind of antithetical to part of the point of buying a log home. We really want it somewhere woodsy, and for it to feel woodsy even when you stop outside. So … we keep looking!

      1. Not So NewReader

        Wise choice. Growing up my friend’s sister had a beautiful house. Then they put a highway in her back yard. They used eminent domain to take some of her land. As you are saying, you could see it and hear it. No. Just no.

    7. dang

      best of luck finding the perfect place! I’m addicted to online real estate also, and I’m not even in the house buying market yet.

  42. Windchime

    This time next week, I will be winging my way to a tropical destination for 9 days. I am so, so, so ready for a break from work and from the dreary winter skies.

    1. Treena Kravm

      Yay! I’m 2 weeks away from my tropical destination, but I can’t wait! Where are you going?

        1. Treena Kravm

          Nice! Belize for 6 days! I was considering Hawaii, but with points, it’s 35,000 points to go to Belize, and 80,000 to go to Hawaii.

  43. Emily

    What are your favorite board and/or card games?

    Some of mine (with links in a follow-up comment, in case anyone’s curious):
    – Ricochet Robots (fun, simple but smart, and able to accommodate an unlimited number of players!)
    – Dixit (partially because the pictures are really pretty, and partially because I’m good at giving clues with people I know well)
    – Werewolf/Mafia/The Resistance/any variation of the game where some people in the group are secretly traitors and everyone else is trying to figure out who they are before they lose
    – Carcassonne (simple, but still somewhat strategic)

    I’m also really interested in playing some cooperative-style games right now, so if anyone has any favorite games of that type, I’m all ears.

    1. BRR

      I love dominion.

      For co-op there is one called pandemic. It’s nice having a board game where everyone is on the same team.

      1. Emily

        I’ve never played Dominion before, but I’ve played and enjoyed other deckbuilding games (and assume I would like Dominion, too)! Thanks for the suggestions.

      2. Liane

        Pandemic is amazing!

        Settlers of Cataan is a lot of fun. The basic game is very simple, but the expansions can add as much complexity as you want. There’s even an expansion to just add more players.

    2. Elkay

      We got Mapominos for Christmas, they do them for every continent so you can expand to play with more than one set.

      Linkee is fun too.

      I always lose at Carcassonne :(

      1. Emily

        Ooh, I had never heard of Mapominoes before. That looks neat (and would maybe even improve my abominable geographic knowledge)!

    3. Alistair

      Boardgames are one of my major hobbies! Life gets in the way, and I don’t play nearly as much as I want. In fact, I have at least three games I bought within the last year I haven’t played yet.

      I really like co-op games. Shadows Over Camelot and Lord of the Rings (2000 or 2001, by Kneizia) are the two I enjoy most.

      My wife and I like Carcassonne: The Castle, as it is designed for just two players. We played a lot of Rivals For Catan, but that game is generally too long for us these days. Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small is short and enjoyable; we can finish a game in 30 minutes.

      Hex Hex is a funny and zany party game, Survive: Escape From Atlantis is slightly tricksy and backstabby, though not enough to make friends hate each other. I enjoy Ticket to Ride, but prefer either Europe (less chance of being totally blocked versus original) or Nordic Countries (designed for two to three players).

      Personally, I’ve been solo playing Lord of the Rings: The Card Game, by Fantasy Flight. Very heavy and complex, possibly the most complex game I own. Lots of expansions, lots of theme, technically a co-op, but not sure my wife would ever play with me. So I play by myself and read about it online, and enjoy it quite a bit. I bought a bunch of stuff for it this Christmas, almost caught up to current releases!

      Well, that was quite the post! Feel free to ask questions. I have more games at home that I can’t remember right now (working in the field). All of those should be on BoardGameGeek if you want to investigate. Happy gaming!

      1. Emily

        Ooh, both of the co-op games you mention sound like fun. Would you say that either of them is harder or more complex than the other, or are they on a similar level?

        1. Alistair

          LotR is the less complex. Each person is one of the hobbits, and you play cards to advance through themed boards. Each board also has an event track, based on story events, and they’re usually bad for everyone. Other characters are special cards in game, and Gandalf can ride to the rescue if you can buy him. There’s a lot of team work involved, and it’s totally in character and game spirit to sacrifice yourself so that the Ringbearer can make it to the end.

          Shadows is the waning days of Camelot, and you go questing for Excalibur and the Grail, trying to save your kingdom. You all play as one of the Knights, and there’s a lot more free form actions and choices. There’s also a way for one player to be a traitor, but I feel the game is hard enough without that. There is certainly a building feeling of dread as the game goes on, though sometimes the end of the game really slows down.

          I prefer LotR myself, and can get non-gamers involved more easily in that.

      2. Brian_A

        Seconding Ticket to Ride! I played it with family members over the holidays, and it was so fun. Easy to learn, fairly straightforward concept (trying to build railways to connect individual cities to form longer continuous routes).

    4. Computer Guy Eli

      Prepare to see just how big of a nerd I am!

      Boss Monster! The game where you play as the final boss in a video game’s dungeon. You build the dungeon along side other bosses and try to attract heroes to their death with loot. Competative card game.

      Settlers of Catan. Imagine monopoly, but you’re trading materials to build your own empire as a settler to a new land. Competative tile-based board game.

      Bang! Cops vs robbers in the old west. Who’s the bandit? Who’s the vigilante? You only know who the sheriff is. (I just found out that this is like the mafia game you said, oops!) Competative/cooperative card game.

      Pandemic. You and your friends play as different members of an anti-disease corporation attempting to keep five plagues from sweeping the world. Cooperative board game.

      Nerd Fight! Ever want to convince your friends that the hulk -really could- beat superman in a fight? This is the game! Three players per round, one judge, two debaters. At the start of each round you get to draw the card that you’ll be arguing for, a neutral card is drawn to see what event the two people would be fighting in, the judge decides the winner! Competative card game.

      I could keep going, but I feel like I’m spamming.

      1. Alistair

        I’ve been interested in Boss Monster, but never got around to learning more. I’ll go look it up later!

      2. Emily

        Boss Monster sounds like a neat concept; I’ll look that one up for sure. :)

        I actually have played Catan (and like it)! For some reason, I get stressed out by strategy games sometimes and avoid playing them too often (example: Diplomacy is so much mental and emotional effort for me that I’ve only actually played it once), but Settlers of Catan doesn’t have that effect.

    5. Sheep

      If you are a horrible human being (like me), you might like Cards Against Humanity. So wrong. But so much fun.

      1. Emily

        I’ve played Cards Against Humanity before (some of my friends like it), but the type of humor just isn’t my style. When my cards are actually chosen, I end up feeling like a jerk. :(

    6. Colette

      I like Gloom (you have to make your family sad while making your opponents’ families happy & tell a story while doing it). We Didn’t Playtest This at All is also fun, but completely random and often very short. It’s a good one to play with someone who is annoyingly competitive, because strategy doesn’t really work.

      1. Emily

        I’ll look into both of those, thanks! We Didn’t Playtest This At All sounds like a fun game to play with a big, silly group.

      1. Emily

        I’m pretty sure that I saw people playing that game at a picnic a few months back! It looked fun. (I’m in a graduate program for imaging and applied optics, and there was a cookout/mingle type event.)

    7. Blue_eyes

      Chronology
      Cranium
      Taboo/Catchphrase
      Loaded Questions
      Quiddler
      Set (except my husband is so good it’s no fun to play with him!)
      The Great Dalmuti

      I seem to like a lot of games that need quite a few players (5 or more). Someone else mentioned Dominion, I played that recently with friends and really enjoyed it.

      1. Emily

        I like Cranium when I’m on a team with someone who wants to do the acting bits for me, and who lets me do at least some of the drawing and sculpting. And I’ve only played Set a few times (so I’m not that good), but I really like the idea behind it!

        I’ve never heard of Chronology or The Great Dalmuti, so I’ll look those up.

        1. Blue_eyes

          We just got Chronology as a gift and we love it! It’s basically just cards with random events and the year they happened. Someone reads you an event, and you have to guess where it goes relative to the other cards you already have. It’s very accessible for most people with decent general knowledge, you don’t need to be a big history buff or anything, and the rules are dead simple so it’s easy for people who haven’t played before to join in.

          The Great Dalmuti is a card game that I learned (and loved) as a child. If you’ve ever played the card game “High Life/Low Life” (aka “Presidents and A**holes), The Great Dalmuti has very similar rules. The main difference is that it is played with special deck, so unlike regular playing cards, the likelihood of getting a card decreases with it’s value. The deck has 12 twelves, 11 elevens, 10 tens, etc. down to 1 “Great Dalmuti” card. I find it more interesting with the special deck because there is more strategy, it’s not purely luck.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Me, neither. Too funny. I did read all the way through though, so now I am better informed!

      2. Noah

        I think the only one I recognized was Cards Against Humanity. That was is fun with the right group of people.

    8. Lady Sybil

      Two I haven’t seen yet that I like are:
      Barbarossa – game involving clay sculpting
      Bohnaza-bean farmer game, very easy to learn fast and fun

  44. Carrie in Scotland

    Another question to throw out to the hive :)

    As previously mentioned, I met up with a guy from an online dating site. Now…eventually it went ok, after the sheer nerves and so on, and it definitely got better as the day went on. So I’m going on another date with him but how many times is enough? Like, if it’s still the same after this 2nd time, should I try a 3rd or just cut my losses and say “it was nice but not for me”?

    Any advice?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Oh good, I was waiting for your update! Glad things went well, if not OMGFIREWORKS.

      Hmm… give it a few more tries. A slow build bodes well for a strong relationship. Give up when you no longer enjoy hanging out with him or when you find yourself annoyed or bored to tears. If you enjoy his company, keep enjoying it.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Well…there were some things that he said he doesn’t believe in which blew my mind – not in a good way, either. I tried to get him to explain but am still confused!
        I just came away from it (the date) not knowing what I think, if that makes any sense? Which is why the 2nd date, anyway.
        I also think he might be a bit more into it than I am, from what he has said/done this week….so there’s that to consider as well.

        1. Elizabeth West

          It sounds like one more should do the trick. Those are pretty decent reasons to say “Meh” about someone, IMO. Give it this one more shot (but try to be open-minded) and then you can say it is just not doing it for you.

      2. Blue_eyes

        Definitely give it at least one more, or a few more dates. I bet you will start to see a trend (you’ll like him either more or less than before). I had a very slow build with my now husband. When we first went on a date I felt very “meh” about him, but each time we got together I liked him a bit more. There were definitely no fireworks to begin with, but I think it’s often better to like someone more as you get to know them than to be super into them when you’ve just met (and know nothing about them). And don’t forget that he was also likely nervous and not totally acting like himself!

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          thank you blue_eyes! Depending on this next one, I’ll see how I feel. Hopefully I will be able to see some sort of trend, as you say :) I will update on next Sunday’s thread…

      3. Another English Major

        Agree w/ALB. Depends on what it is about him that’s not interesting though. If you’re having an ok time I think it’s fine to go on a few more dates and see if you click. I see it as building a friendship. I didn’t click instantly w/a lot of my friends, but we’ve become really close over time. I like to approach dating the same way.

  45. Golden Yeti

    Question for the more technically minded: recommendations for external computer backup?

    Here’s the story: I had a good sized hard drive, and really enjoyed the extra space I had after backups. So much so that I was regularly running programs and files directly from the hard drive and never unplugging it from my computer. About a year ago, said hard drive died. It would light up when plugged in, but not spin up. I live in a small town, and took it to a local repair guy to see if data could be salvaged. He tried and was able to get it running again, but found no data. I hung onto it and never tried using it again. To cover all bases, I recently dropped the same hard drive off to Big City Data Recovery guy. He said Local guy had actually screwed things up, and for him to even try to get the data back, he’d have to undo as much of Local guy’s mistakes as possible, and of course, there are no guarantees everything can be saved–all for an ungodly amount I could in no way afford. I took the drive back and haven’t tried it again.

    My plan for the old drive is to get a housing and maybe try something like Recuva to see if I can scrounge up some data I’m looking for. But in the meantime, I still need a new hard drive. Big City guy recommended a dual hard drive with RAID format so it can be mirrored. I like the idea and am leaning toward it, but most of them have separate enclosures, and then you have to buy the drives, so the price can easily get “up there.” Today I’m backing up as much as I can on a large capacity flash drive just as a get by until I can get a new external, but it’s not nearly going to cover everything.

    Anyone have experience in bringing data back from the dead or recommendations for good value external drives? Thanks!

    1. danr

      Google is your friend. Search for ‘recover a dead hard drive’ and see if anything makes sense. Good luck. And next time don’t use your backup drive as your working drive. That negates the meaning of backup.

      1. danr

        To expand.. I’ve done this before but it was years ago and all of the recovery programs are different. It sounds like it is an external drive. Try putting it in a new enclosure and see if it makes a difference. Have another drive ready to transfer your stuff to in case it works.

    2. fposte

      How much stuff have you got and how crucial/sensitive is it? In my experience external drives don’t tend to last very long, but storage is so cheap now that I just keep buying new external drives. I just grab a Western Digital or Seagate from Best Buy or Amazon and hang onto the receipt through the warranty period in case of early failure.

      I did try to bring data back from the seriously dead when my laptop fell on my concrete garage floor. DIY stuff failed completely and I sent it out to a special service, which unfortunately was unable to do anything either. How important is the stuff you’d lose? If it’s programs, can you authorize a re-download?

    3. Anonymous Educator

      How important is it to you that your external storage be local (a physical drive attached do your computer)?

      I’d actually recommend a Cloud backup solution like Crashplan, Dropbox, or Google Drive. It can be a bit costly, but—as you can see from this recent incident—it’s far more costly to not have a backup.

      Onsite backups can be fine, but there are two major problems:
      1. You have to remember to back up.
      2. If something physically devastating happens (theft, natural disaster) that takes out both your computer and your external drive, you’re screwed.

    4. Golden Yeti

      It was about 1.5 tb of data. Most of it was backup of what’s on my system now, so it’s nothing I’m really hurting for. But one folder was the only copy and was on the drive, so I’d at least like to get that one back if I can.

    5. Observer

      What I do is two large drives, at least one of which is external. I personally use 2 NAS (Network attached) drives, but if you have only one computer and no router (or a slower one) you may be better off with a pair of external USB 3 drives. Then use a decent backup program to backup all of your data from one drive to the second at least once a day. If the program is any good, you can schedule it to do it.

    6. HR Manager

      I’ve had this happen, and it’s a total bummer. If you want to prevent this from happening again, I agree that cloud backup maybe your best option. Hard drives will always fail over the long run. I don’t store anything that is that critical without keeping multiple copies, so when this happened to me, it was frustrating, but not worth paying a lot of dough to see if it could be revived.

    7. Gene

      I run a local drive on each computer with automatic backup software (Time Machine on my Mac and Windows Backup on wife’s PC); full backup followed by daily incremental backups. I also have a cloud backup set up on each computer (Carbonite on PC, Crashplan on the Mac.) For day-to-day “Crap, why did I delete that?” occurrences, it’s right there; for catastrophes, it’s in the cloud.

  46. Pennalynn Lott

    I’m visiting my sister in Oregon. I’ve only ever met her twice before in my life: once when I was 17 (and she was 13), and once when we were in our mid-20’s. Both times it was for only a half day. We’re now 48 and 45. So it was a big deal for me to fly out here for a week to help her sort through some things (OK, about 100 boxes worth of crap and a house that could be featured on a lite version of the TV show “Hoarders”) now that her mother is in a managed care facility for dementia. It has pretty much been a clusterf*ck since I landed.

    I flew in late Wed night and she wanted to go drinking (at 11:00pm). Then she didn’t get up until 1:30pm the next day. We needed to run some errands (she had no toilet paper, towels, wash cloths, and other necessities), and then went out to dinner at a restaurant where she is friends with the manager. At closing time (around 9:30pm), other people she knows came in and invited us to go party with them. LSD, ecstasy, cocaine, mushrooms and pot were on offer. (!!) I declined, but she went on ahead. I took her car back to her place. I got a text at 4:45am saying her phone was running out of juice and that she was going to crash at whoever’s house she was at. OK, fine. I don’t want anybody driving while under the influence.

    I woke up Friday to no sister. Ran to the store for some cat food (her three cats are very underweight and clearly ill), and took a driving tour of the town. Came back and still no sister. Decided to clean her very scarily dirty kitchen (dishes piled everywhere full of slime and mold, corpses of bugs and larvae in the sink and behind things on the counters). Hours later, still no sister. So I called the restaurant and spoke to her manager friend who said, “Oh, your sister is fine. Her battery is dead. Do you want me to call the people she’s with and have her call you?” Uh, no. She’s an adult, and can make her own [irresponsible] decisions.

    She didn’t come home until yesterday (Sat) at noon, and then went promptly to bed. I went to a Fermented Foods Festival in town, took myself to lunch, then found a sports bar where I could watch football. I came home well after dark, and she was still asleep. I watched the rest of the 2nd playoff game on my laptop, fed her cats, then went to bed about 10:00pm without seeing her. I got up this morning to a huge mess in the kitchen. Looks like she had a bagel with cream cheese and a big root beer float last night because the counters are covered in crumbs, root beer, ice cream and cream cheese, and there’s a stack of dishes and root beer cans in the sink. I still haven’t seen her.

    I’m at a loss to explain her behavior. I don’t do drugs and don’t have any friends who do. Last time I did them I was in junior high, when selfish and rude behavior came with the age. I can’t imagine someone who is 45 years old doing this. So I’m stuck in a virtual stranger’s house until Tuesday morning, wondering why in the hell I even came here.

    1. Treena Kravm

      I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. I’m glad you’re doing fun things for yourself while you’re there.

    2. LisaS

      I knew a lot of people who did drugs in our teens, and this sounds super-familiar. The chaos was a feature, not a bug, and it extended into every area of their lives…My guess would be that, from the fact that she’s got this whole network in place & it’s pretty easily accessed, it’s her lifestyle, not a crisis response, and the drugs are probably her go-to solution for any kind of emotional difficulty (or need to celebrate – with my friends, drugs were for all times, not just the tough ones.)

      I got out, some of my friends did & some really didn’t, and a lot of the latter are no longer alive. I really shudder to think of the risks I took back then (in my defense, I was 16 and it was the 70s…)

      Is there a hotel you can check into for the next couple of days?

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, it’s the drugs exasperating the entire situation. You can’t have a relationship with a chemical, and at this point every decision she makes is based on a chemical. Hold the door open for a future time where your sis sobers up (maybe), but there is not a lot you are going to be able to do now.

        This is so sad. And why do some people escape it and others don’t. ugh.

    3. Monodon monoceros

      Yikes, I have no real advice but I’d be tempted to abduct her cats and GTFO of there. Are you even cleaning up the hoarder mom’s house? I don’t mind helping friends and family do stuff like that, but I do get super annoyed when I’m asked and then my time is wasted by BS, and this is some serious BS.

      Maybe when (if?) you do see her, you should just lay it all out, that you came to help and don’t want to spend your whole week living in her hell-hole apartment waiting for her to sober up. And you are taking her cats away because she’s neglecting them, and can’t be trusted to take care of herself, let alone other living beings.

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        Monodon – I am not cleaning up the house. I cleaned the kitchen because I needed to eat, but that’s the extent of what I am now willing to do. I am no longer willing to help her sort or clean anything, assuming she is even able to. (It’s 4:30pm here and she’s still in bed). Doing anything at this point would just be asking to be taken advantage of.

        I am, however, taking the best care of her cats that I can, outside of taking them to a vet. I bought a heated pad (made for pet beds) and have been putting it in whatever room I’m in so that the oldest cat, who is 15, can be near me and still be warm. I am also feeding them warmed canned cat food mixed with a bit of water whenever they ask for it (which is pretty much whenever they’re awake because, like I said, they are extremely underweight). The cats are the victims here, not my sister who is choosing to do this to herself.

    4. fposte

      Oy. This is one of those stories for a time when somebody tells you how much you’re missing by not having an estranged relative in your life. And how uncomfortable for you in the meantime.

      This is somebody unable to bring order to her own life; sounds like that might be something her mother was unable to give to her, either genetically or educationally, and that she hasn’t developed on her own. She’s not looking to be fixed and you’re not looking to be the fixer, so I’d just feel very fortunate to be me and rejoice at going home.

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        fposte – True, that (about having a story). And about being fortunate to be me and be grateful I can eventually go home. I’m so glad my visit to Stoner World was only from ages 12-14. I cannot imagine being that person in adulthood. [Which is why I absolutely cannot fathom leaving a guest in your house alone while you go get obliterated for 36 hours, and then need to sleep for the next 24.]

        And, yes, the first thing I said to my mom when I called her after Sister took off with her friends to go party was, “I can’t help her. This is above my pay grade.” Her mom was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder before her dementia, and it went completely untreated. Everyone else was the problem, not her. That has impacted my sister in millions of little ways. She’s flighty, immature, and prefers to “blue sky” things rather than deal with reality. Plus, she was raised to not think for herself, to be afraid of anything new or slightly risky, and to not solve problems but to wait for someone else to take care of it all for her. Unless she goes into serious therapy (2x/week for a few months, then 1x/week for a year or two after), I don’t hold out much hope for her.

        It’s just going to be awkward until Tuesday morning. Plus, I’m having to tiptoe around this creaky old house so I don’t wake her up. She’s downstairs and the wood floors upstairs creak, crack, and pop like mad whenever I walk on them. It sounds like I weigh 500 lbs when I walk on them. And, to head off anyone who thinks I should be “asserting” myself right now, no I’m not being quiet out of respect for her, but because I’d prefer to not deal with a grumpy, pissed off drug user if I can avoid it. It’s not like it’s my boss, or my parent, or my BFF, or my spouse, or any other permanent relationship where conversations that air things out can be very helpful. It’s a stranger whom I just happen to share some genetic material with.

        And to answer LisaS: Yes, there are hotels. But then I couldn’t see after the cats. Plus, it would be expensive. At least at my sister’s house I already have some food (that I bought) and a tea kettle, plus wi-fi, plus kitties, and – heck – she’s staying in bed so it’s kinda like having the house to myself. (Except for the needing-to-be-quiet part :-) ).

        1. Stars and violets

          I know it’s not your responsibility and that you’ve probably already given this a lot of thought but what’s going to happen to the cats once you’ve gone? Just the thought of the old cat being cold and going hungry makes me want to cry. Please consider taking them to a shelter at least. I would also report your sister for animal cruelty since she’s clearly neglecting them but you’re there and I’m not so that’s your call.
          I’m sorry you’re in this situation.

          1. Pennalynn Lott

            Stars- Yep, I’ve already considered that it will go downhill for the cats, again, after I leave. I had a wise vet once tell me, “You can’t save them all.” And it’s true. Right now, there are several million cats in horrible circumstances that I can’t do a damned thing about. Prior to my visit, I had no idea that my sister’s cats were in such bad shape. I will have to go back to that place of ignorance. Taking them to a shelter or reporting her would only make things worse for them. I can certainly have canned food delivered to her house on a regular basis. And even paper bowls to feed the cats in, which she can then throw away instead of having to deal with the trauma of washing bowls. But there’s really not much else I can do.

            1. Stars and violets

              I’m sorry. That’s a horrible situation to be in. At least you’re doing what you can to make the cats’ lives easier and happier. More strength to you.

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      This isn’t about drugs; it’s about a specific lifestyle she’s choosing. Plenty of people use drugs responsibly and without living in squalor / treating people in their lives poorly. This is about her living a particular lifestyle and not being especially considerate, it sounds like. I’d talk to her about the fact that she’s neglecting her cats and being rude to you and then get on a plane.

      The Fermented Foods Festival sounds awesome though!

      1. Pennalynn Lott

        I guess it’s just my limited knowledge of people who use drugs, then. The ones I’ve known who did any of the ones I mentioned [pot, shrooms, cocaine, LSD, ecstasy] on a regular basis weren’t very responsible or productive. I lived in San Francisco in my 20’s and eventually moved back to Texas because I couldn’t meet anyone who wasn’t doing at least one of those drugs on a regular basis. Yes, they had full-time, white collar jobs that they held down just fine, but they were flighty and immature in the other areas of their lives. It wasn’t unusual for them to get stoned on Tuesday after work and not go home until after midnight on Wednesday. Most of these people had pets who needed feeding or walking.

        I guess I’ve just never seen drug use = responsibility. I’m assuming the responsible drug users are keeping their use well hidden. :-)

      2. Stephanie

        Mmmm kimchi. Yeah, I’m with Alison. The drug use is a red herring and I’m guessing a way to self-medicate or escape something troubling. It doesn’t sound like you’re close enough to talk to her about this, so just mention the cat neglect and rudeness and be on your way. Also, could you call animal control if you’re worried about the cats?

  47. ProductiveDyslexic

    I would like to moan about interviews here on non-work related thread.

    Having just got a new job in a city I do not currently live — thanks Alison! — and now I’m interviewing as a potential housemate. It sucks. And the last one I did felt very much like a job interview, but worse, because the whole thing is personal rather than professional. Ugh.

    I just got rejected for a room, felt rather grumpy about it as the clock is ticking on my start date, and then heard the AAM voice in my head go-off and tell me there was nothing to loose by writing a very short thank you note. So I did that. I’m also glad that this morning I just got on with writing off to other possibilities.

    Trying to move house in January is no fun at all.

        1. Stars and violets

          It’s a beautiful place to live but, unfortunately for you, it’s the middle of the university year and accommodation is even harder to get than normal so people with space available feel they can be as irrationally picky as they want. Have you considered the outlying areas? Cambridge has very good public transport links and you might find more choice in one of the surrounding towns.
          Good luck!

    1. Elkay

      I feel for you, my brother went through similar this summer, very stressful all round (not least because he stayed with me for a while). At least they let you know, unfortunately a lot of people seem incapable of that basic politeness.

        1. Stephanie

          Oh, I damn near had a breakdown roommate hunting back in DC. It didn’t help that I staying at a friend’s in an sort of untenable situation. I went on so many fruitless roommate interviews and saw so many dank basement apartments (that sometimes also involved a roommate interview).

  48. justine

    I just read a most beautiful book: “The History of Love” by Nicole Krauss.

    I got it for 25 cents at Goodwill – if I ever lose it I’d pay a million dollars for another copy

    Has anyone else read it? Did you love it? I read online some don’t think Bruno was real, what do you think if you read it?

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Yes! It is one of my favourite books EVER and I am part of a diary community where the book title is my blog name :) (to be honest, I’ve used many names in my diary writing, including ‘I capture the castle’ – another favourite).

      I’d now strongly recommend you read ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ by Jonathan Safran Foer not only because it’s quite similar in tone but I adore the dedication at the start, which links to the book you’ve just read.

      1. Trixe

        Wasn’t Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ made into a movie with Sandra Bullock and Tom Hanks? Looks really good, both book and movie.

  49. Masters Degree Searcher

    I am a government contractor, and I recently accepted another contract role in defense/informatics. My salary is to be $60,000s range.
    My issue: I failed the bar three times. My parents pressure me to retake the bar for a fourth time this July 2015, but that means refilling out all forms (because the forms expired, and are stale), and finding a tutor.

    I have an Ivy League education, went to law school on a scholarship, and obtained my masters with honors.
    My thoughts: I really, really, really have no interest in practicing law. I don’t want to spend another $400 on registration fees, and $1100 on bar tutoring fees. My parents are offering to pay my apartment rent (I currently make enough to live on my own quite comfortably) but I don’t want them to pressure me like this.

    My question: At what point should I stop taking the bar? I told my mother (my parents are not in the legal profession–they’re in academia) that I had ZERO interest in taking the bar, and that it’s entirely irrelevant to my career pursuits, but she wants me to take it to put a ‘feather in my cap’–added value even I weren’t to practice.
    And finally: Can I be successful even if I don’t retake the bar? When I was in law school I had horrendous carpal tunnel necessitating extended test-taking time. I had a 3.5 gpa in my senior law semester (the average is 2.9 there).

    How do I convince my parents that my life is far, far better off without taking the bar for a **fourth** time? Thanks. I’m feeling quite frustrated and hoping that my parents will someday see the light in the chaos that is the legal industry in the current economy.

    Other questions:
    -I recently moved to another state this year for the upcoming new job. Will this complicate tax filings? (Ie. DMV area)?
    -How do I get my mom to stop micromanaging my life? (A lot of times I try to smile and nod and go along with her like a ‘good girl’ because if I don’t she gets downright verbally abusive x100 unless she gets her way. (She made me break down in tears over Christmas because she thought I was a failure).
    -When/do I introduce my non-ethnic boyfriend to my parents? We’ve been dating close to a year and I don’t want to subject my boyfriend to my mom’s prejudices (she hates divorced people and non-ethnic people re: dating). Should I even bother? I joked to my bf I wouldn’t introduce them to him unless I was pregnant and married, either/or. He loves me (and says so) and knows how insanely protective/odd my ethnic family can be.

    1. Colette

      On the bar: you stop taking it when it’s no longer useful for what you want to do with your life – so now, if I understand you correctly.

      On micromanaging: you get your mom to stop trying to micromanage your life by making her attempts fail. That means putting aside the idea of being a “good girl” and going along, and instead sticking up for yourself. Mom says “you’re a failure”, you say “that’s really hurtful and I’m leaving now” – and then you leave/hang up the phone. She calls back to continue, you hang up again. You’ve trained her that you’ll give in if she keeps going, so it will be hard to train her that it will no longer work, but it’s worth it.

      And you introduce her to the boyfriend after you’ve learned to set boundaries, IMO.

      1. LolaK

        “Mom says “you’re a failure”, you say “that’s really hurtful and I’m leaving now” – and then you leave/hang up the phone.”

        That is the strategy I have used with my over bearing parents. It hasn’t completely stopped but has helped my mental health immensely.

      2. Stars and violets

        Yes, very much this. Don’t reward bad behaviour. Plus, you don’t have to convince your parents you don’t want to/don’t need to take the bar exam. You just don’t do it because you’ve decided not to. They’ll get the message.

    2. Blue_eyes

      Is there a time limit on when you can take the bar? As in, if you decided ten years from now that you want to go back to law, could you take the bar then? Or will you have missed your chance? If you can still do it at any point in the future, then you’re not missing out on anything by not taking it now.

    3. danr

      Don’t take the bar unless you want to practice. There are jobs out there for folks with a law degree but not the bar. As for the micromanaging by your mother, stop telling her everything., as in :Hi, how are you?” “What’s new?” “Nothing much”… and stop talking. Moving to another state will complicate tax filing a bit when there is more than one state income tax. Programs like Turbo tax will walk you through the process and are worth the money.
      As for overcoming prejudices, you never know until you do it. If your boyfriend is a good charmer, your mother will probably love him, or at least be civil.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Please read books about setting boundaries. Most of this is boundary problems. You are living the life your mother dictates, not the life you want.

      Please get some counseling to map out a plan for dealing with all this and defining what type of a relationship you want with your family.
      In the meantime, tell your mother you do not have money to take the bar right now because you have some other expenses. Then, use that money to get some help.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher

        I told her I didn’t have the money, which is why she offered to pay my rent for me. I feel like a trapped animal backed into a corner. She’s pestering me to fill out more bar paperwork and find a tutor now. I looked on a tutor site and wrote a letter stating I had no interest in taking the bar whatsoever, and how to best proceed. I’m hoping that the tutor can recommend a better course of action (ie. defer for 5 years, or never take it again). Money’s not an issue for my mom, but I need outside sources to show why I don’t want to take the bar again (especially since my mom expects a six-figure salary upon bar passage, which is highly, highly unrealistic).

        I don’t know how to make my parents understand reality. They just see a kid who owes them money/filial piety as per ethnic background standards, and a corporate law job (even though I’m more reticent than anything else).

        My mom’s domineering and my dad’s quiet and goes along with whatever my mom says because she bulldozes everyone into seeing things her way. (Needless to say, she hasn’t had a close/best friend bond last for more than a year at a time–usually they get their feelings hurt, move away, and one lady even asked my mom to stop contacting her).

        1. Stars and violets

          You need to rid yourself of the idea that you cannot say ‘no’ to your parents. You’re an adult, holding down a responsible job. You get to decide what’s in your best interests. Plus, you don’t owe your mother anything. It was her decision to give you money (which looks like a bribe, anyway). Take Colette and NSNR’s advice: read up on boundaries and start setting them.

        2. Noah

          Like Stars and violets said, you have to learn to say no. Unless you’re living in their home or taking money from them to support yourself, they have zero say in how you manage your life.

          I get where you’re coming from though. I’ve had the same conversation with my mom about 1000 times about why I stopped pursing a master’s degree. The only reason I even started the MBA was because I was enrolled in a combined BSBA/MBA program where several classes applied to both degrees. However, once I finished my bachelors and started working I saw how useless the masters degree would be in my chosen field and industry. It simply isn’t necessary or worthwhile and I had zero desire to continue school at that point.

          Now when my mom brings it up I just end the conversation, even if that means hanging up the phone or walking away. It felt incredibly rude and disrespectful the first few times but I came to realize that my mom was being equally rude and disrespectful by not viewing me as an adult capable of making my own decisions about a subject that we had discussed to death.

        3. fposte

          “I need outside sources to show why I don’t want to take the bar again.”

          No, you don’t. You don’t need to convince your mother that you’re not going to take the bar again at all, and I don’t think you’d succeed if you tried. You don’t need to make your parents “understand,” because that really means agree with your choice, and they’re not going to do that. Stop chasing it; you’re going to be Captain Ahab and that’s going to be the Moby-Dick that kills you. And honestly, I don’t think they want you to take the bar again because they think it’ll be good for you to have it as a “feather in your cap”–I think they want you to be a lawyer, and the next step will be bullying you into applying for lawyer jobs. And you don’t want to be a lawyer. So, you know, if you’re not going to give them what they want anyway, why not quit now before it takes a bigger toll on you?

          This is classic “You can’t change them, you can only change you” territory. As others are saying, you need to find a way, with therapy or books or determination, to walk away, talk away, hang up away when the conversation turns to berating and pushing you. Eventually that may convince your mother to dial it back because otherwise she misses out on you, but that’s just a happy extra–more importantly, it allows you to protect yourself from forces you don’t deserve to be subjected to.

        4. Not So NewReader

          If you are feeling like a trapped animal then your solution maybe to cut off all contact with your mother and/or your family.
          You could decide later on to re-establish contact when you feel stronger.
          Or you could decide later on never to re-establish contact, no way to know.

          But if you cannot tell your mother to back off and you allow her to keep having contact with you, this problem will remain in full force.
          Sadly, all you can do is change you. She is not going to be the mother of your dreams- she can’t. She either does not know how, or does not want to. It really does not matter which reason, because the net result is the same.

          What I see here is that a bad plan is better than no plan. Your mother’s plan of the bar exam is a bad plan for you. However, I am not sure you have a plan for you. It will less hard to let go of mom’s plan if you have a do-able plan of your own. Please build a plan for you.

          A friend of mine cut off all contact with his mother. Every. single. thing. he thought of to say to her she came back at him with something negative. There was no stopping the flow of negativity. The only solution he had was to cut communication. He has not been in contact with her for decades. I guess he was right. His mom still has not figured out what is wrong and why my friend keeps a distance from her. Yes, decades, and she still has not figured it out. Problems the size of the Grand Canyon there.

          If you cannot get your mother to stop her behavior and, clearly, her behavior is killing you, then your next choice is to distance yourself from her. No one else can help you if she monopolizes your thoughts/time/energy. There is no room for other people.

          If you do as you always have done, then you will get what you always got.
          Think.
          Do you want what you have always gotten?

        5. Gene

          “No.” is a complete sentence.

          Practice on your cat/dog/goldfish/blank wall until you are comfortable with it, then move on to boyfriend/coworkers/friends. Then your mother. You have no idea how good you’ll feel the first time you tell her “No” and stick to it.

    5. Graciosa

      I’d like to point out that costs associated with bar membership do not end after you pass the exam. There are annual dues, plus CLE (which is also time consuming in addition to costing money) if you want to stay active in most states.

      This makes sense when you are doing a job that requires it and will reimburse you for the costs while paying you to attend CLE. It makes no sense when this does not apply.

      Please pay attention to the advice about boundaries. People can only harangue you while you stand there and let them. While the first time is hard, it really does get easier when you learn to hang up the phone or walk away.

      Good luck.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher

        Hi, OP here.

        Thanks for all the helpful tips. I really appreciate it.
        I ended up contacting a local criminal defense attorney/blogger, a nationally-known bar prep organization, and a tristate-barred attorney/bar tutor blogger for their input.

        Funnily enough, none of them want me to take it right now, because as the criminal defense attorney stated, my “heart’s just not in it.” The nationally-known organization stated I should sit this out, then quipped that one of their tutors was better than the other org’s tutors I’d had in the past (which I expected a bit). The tristate attorney seemed quite personable, and stated that I should take a 1-2 year break, use it to further my promising career, then revisit it and send him a message. He has quite a waiting list, but said if I decided to, he’d help me out, even if it takes 1-2 years to mentally prepare for the torture *cough* I mean, exam.

        The paperwork’s coming through re: the role. I’m nervous and excited. And I feel—just a bit less imprisoned, and just a bit more…free : )

  50. Anomnom

    Thinking about trying online dating. Is there any chance an employer would find my profile?

    Also, any tips for online dating in general?

    1. Diet Coke Addict

      As long as your username isn’t, I don’t know, “SusieQWorksAtWidgetsInc,” I’d say probably not. From what I understand, employers or potential employers who Google are looking to ensure you’re not going to be a liability (card-carrying Nazi party member, raving axe-wielding psycho, aggressive coke habit and no sense of discretion), and finding a dating site profile wouldn’t be anything to think twice about. Most of the stuff people post on dating sites is so general it isn’t anything to be concerned about.

      The biggest thing I took away from my stint online dating was to meet in-person as soon as possible. It’s easy and fun to get sucked into a series of long, exciting emails about yourselves, or endless chat sessions or whatever, but then you meet in real life and there’s nothing. Real-life chemistry is so wild and unpredictable that it’s impossible to say beforehand whether something will work. So I made a rule for myself that I wasn’t going to spend a ton of time and energy emailing if the other person didn’t want to meet up in person. And now I’m married–to someone I met online–so it really does work for tons and tons of people.

      1. Computer Guy Eli

        That sounds pretty great!

        I’d try online dating if I didn’t know the names of everyone in town. I’ll check it out when I move though, for sure.

    2. ProductiveDyslexic

      Don’t use the same photo or email address as your LinkedIn or Facebook accounts: have separate ones that you use only for Internet dating. Don’t log on from your work computer.

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      I second everything Diet Coke Addict has written. The chemistry one is something I debate further upthread, having gotten into a major email exchange before meeting…

      Other thoughts: have a plan B in case you need to ditch him and if you decide to go back anywhere with him (not necessarily on the first date but you never know) tell your friends his real name, where he lives, and his phone number just in case. He should do the same :)

      Also, good luck. It’s a hard world out there.

    4. BRR

      First your employer would most likely not find it. You’re only risk would be if you use the same username as your email or if a coworkers is also on there. I also can’t imagine they would care. There’s far less of a stigma about online dating now. I have to say I’m a huge proponent, it’s where I met my husband. Also I look at it like if I want clothes, I go to a clothing website, if I want to find a date, I go to a dating website.

      Tips:
      -I agree with Diet Coke Addict to not spend too much time with them online. You don’t have to rush it but don’t wait 5 months.
      -There will be people who post pictures that are very flattering. Don’t let it get you down. Try to see multiple pictures. Or ask to skype first, that way no surprises.
      -In general get used to lying. But I don’t think it’s any worse than dating in person.

      And for how cynical I sound I met a lot of great guys on there. Some were just friends. Some were flings. Some were dates. If people are looking to meet other people I highly recommend it.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I tried it multiple times and it didn’t work at all for me, but I truly suspect it’s where I am. Because I did not find anyone from the area on any of the sites whom I had any interest in whatsoever.

        1. BRR

          It took my a VERY long time. I was probably about a week away from deleting my profile before I met my husband. Weird twist, his pictures were actually worse than he looked in person by a lot. By the end my standards were use the right version of your/you’re and if you live at home have a reason.

          1. Treena Kravm

            My husband’s pictures were awful too! All I could think before our first date was, “Please let him not be ugly.” I met him after 5 weeks online, but what I notice about people online dating–they either know *exactly* what they want (sometimes to the point that there’s no one perfect enough) or they’re in a major transitional period (moved in with parents, divorces/break-up, etc.) or they have no idea what they want. I tend to avoid the ones who don’t know/are in a transitional period.

            I fourth everything Diet Coke Addict said. Don’t invest anymore than 1 week or so online, keep the rest of it in real life!

            First dates for me: always coffee, friend/sister’s job is to call 1 hour into the date. It’s technically an “Oh I have an emergency call” but really what I use it for is “are you still alive? ok good.”
            I have a very unique name–if you google my first name and the city I live in, all my stuff pops up. So I have a strict no-name rule until the first date.

        2. fposte

          I was in a pretty limited area for my age group as well, and it was tough to decide how far I was prepared to drive to get beyond it. I met some really nice people, though, and I’m still friends with the guy I really did date for a while.

    5. Noah

      Apparently eHarmony decided I was the perfect person for one of my coworkers. I never saw the match on my end though, and didn’t know a thing about it until she awkwardly told me. I agree with everyone else though, that in general there is nor real chance your employer will find you unless you tie it into your work email or a username you use for job applications.

      Also, don’t ever give your telephone number to the people from Its Just Lunch. They call constantly and either leave vague voicemail messages saying to call them back by 3pm or very descriptive ones saying they have just the person to set you up with. They also like to call around holidays to remind you that you are still single.

    6. Winter

      I’d be careful with free sites that have a lot of users, especially OKC since it asks you for so much personal information (quizzes). It’s easy to make yourself hard to find there through Google, but someone else who was using the site might find you by accident. I’ve accidentally found a lot of random people there, including co-workers. I don’t look at their profiles, but someone else might not have the same discretion.

    7. HR Manager

      As an HR person, I wouldn’t even check personal dating sites to check up on employees. Not something I want to know – EVER. This can only lead to awkward TMI.

  51. SelenaLuna

    I might as well update about my problem.

    I decided that since I couldn’t afford a lawyer, I can not contest the will. I’ve been soured by this whole drama and decided that for my health to just be angry over how I’ve been treated (the stories I can tell), move on, and disassociate myself from my toxic non-immediate relatives.

    1. fposte

      I’m sorry, SelenaLuna. I think you’re wise to have come to a conclusion, though, rather than leaving it undecided. I hope you can find other good ways to remember your grandmother.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I have made similar choices in the past. It wasn’t easy.
      I found that nature abhors a vacuum. I left off the toxic, leachy people and almost out of no where new and nice people came into my life. If I had known that, I would have done this much sooner. May things go in a similar manner for you!

  52. Computer Guy Eli

    So I just had an Idea, and I need some advice.

    If I joined the military with the goal to be a member of their cyberwarfare division, how do you think that would play out? Are there any other soldier dudes in here that could give me some advice?

    I’m a pudgy dude, so it’ll take a bit for me to slim down to acceptable weight, but if I got taught how to work with computers (and maybe ironed out, personally by the military) I think it’d turn out fine!

    1. Stephanie

      This may get deleted for being too work-related, but the military does sometimes hire civilian employees. Check out NAVESEA or NAVAIR to see if there’s anything there of interest.

    2. The IT Manager

      Good idea. I actually thought about it in respect to your interest in getting out of your home town and interest in computers, but **WARNING** you don’t necessarily get to pick your job. You need to have the appitude and it depends on the needs of the service.

      FYI: I had a friend that went from officer training (college ROTC) to enlisting. He wanted to be a fire fighter or a cop, but scored so well on the appitude tests (highest precentile), he was pressured/forced into the bomb loading careerfield. Turns out that led to a job as a special forces gunner after a few years as a bomb loader, and he’s still loving it nearly 20 years later but your ability to control what you do is somewhat (but not entirely) limited.

      Also from what I’ve heard about the Navy, if you want to some control of your specialty and cyberwarfare, you probably want to join the Air Force or Army. My understanding of the Navy is that nearly everyone starts out as a basic sailor doing whatever jobs are needed on the ship, and from what I saw/heard a few years ago, they’re not that big on specialization or communications specialization. That might be changing.

      Do your research, though, and get written contracts about what your recruiter offers you. My SiL’s brother joined the Navy to be a Navy SEAL. Never got close to that. Supposedly was going to go to SEAL training after his first tour. I’m not sure if he was lied to/confused or if the info got garbled when it passed to his sister or to me, but his career which is over already did not turn out like planned.

      And you’ll have to lose weight on your own before you’re accepted.

  53. Not So NewReader

    Eli’s question above reminded me of a question I was recently asked.

    Can someone get into the military if they have felony convictions AND if they are 30 something?

    I’m thinking no. But I thought I would ask.

    1. fposte

      Army, Coast Guard, and Navy accept people over 30; felonies seem to be an “it depends, but you really need to talk to your recruiter.” I’ll post a couple of links separately.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Thank you very much, fposte! It’s not looking really good as I read through. But I will let my friend know and he can pass it along. thanks!

  54. Hlyssande

    I AM GETTING A KITTY. HE WILL BE COMING HOME SOMETIME THIS WEEK (as soon as the landlord gives me the paperwork I need to fill out).

    ALL SYSTEMS ARE DEDICATED TO KITTY.

      1. Hlyssande

        His name is currently Fritz and he is about 3 and was the sweetest little thing. They all said he was shy, but he sniffed my hand immediately and started rubbing his face all over it and demanding skritches.

        I am so excited!!!

  55. Caroline

    I’m not a regular reader of the free-for-all days (but religiously read everything else) so apologize if this has already been discussed.

    But just out of curiosity, Alison, how did you and your husband meet? How long did you date before you got married?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      We, uh, made out in a bar five years before we started dating in earnest, and then when we reconnected five years later hit it off in a more than making-out-in-a-bar way. The first time around, I don’t think I’d taken him seriously as a dating partner because he was an artist type (still is) and I’d always thought I didn’t mesh well with artists.

      We dated for two years before getting engaged, then waited another year before actually getting married.

      * I’m not in the habit of making out in bars, for the record.

      1. The IT Manager

        Ha! Just so you know, I had to read the first sentence three times, before I saw “made out” instead of “met in.” Kowing you in your preofessional capavity, I don’t think you make a habit of making out in bars.

  56. Cath in Canada

    Yay, just booked flights for a two week trip home to the UK in February! It’s for a very close friend’s wedding – we’ve been friends since we were 5, lived on the same street, our sisters are friends with each other, our parents are friends with each other – and some other very close friends are going too.

    My husband’s not coming for financial reasons, and to be honest I’m looking forward to my first trip home in years where I don’t have to worry about whether he’s having an OK time hanging out with my friends and family and talking about ancient history and in-jokes. Also I’m going to stay in London (which isn’t where I grew up, but my sister and tons of my friends moved there) for almost the whole time, rather than doing the usual planes trains and automobiles never more than two nights in the same place thing. AND I finally get to meet my sister’s boyfriend, who she just moved in with! AND I get to wear a sari for the wedding – I’ll be shopping for it next weekend! AND I’ll be there for my birthday – my parents are coming down from my home town to spend a few days with me and take me out for a birthday dinner for the first time since I moved to Canada in 2002!

    In case you can’t tell, I’m rather excited!

    1. Lady Sybil

      This sounds amazing! you get to catch up without boring the pants off hubby. London weather will likely be milder than the weather you’re in now. Is there anything you’re looking forward to eating or drinking that’s hard to get here in Canada?

      1. Cath in Canada

        Well I’m in Vancouver, so it’ll probably be very similar weather!

        I’m looking forward to pub food, English beer, Galaxy chocolate, and Walker’s crisps. And being able to get a good cuppa anywhere I go, rather than a cup of warm water and a tea bag like you get in many places in North America.

        1. Lady Sybil

          Funny, no break from the weather then! I can’t wait to go back either. No date set yet but we go every few years to visit my in-laws. They send us Galaxy chocolate between visits. They are excellent in-laws.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Ooh, nice! I’ve always wanted to go to Northumberland. I hear York is cool as well. I need to take another long trip and just meander around mid- and northern England.
      My family on my dad’s side originated in Cumbria, around Appleby, I think. That’s on the list too. :)

      Have fun and enjoy your birthday!

      1. Cath in Canada

        The Northumberland coast is one of my favourite places in the world – all sand dunes, castles, and sea birds. York is lovely too – I didn’t really appreciate it as much as I should have while I still lived there (it feels very small when you’re 17), but it really is beautiful. It’s going to feel very strange being in the UK and not going to York!

  57. Relocating

    I’m switching from being employed at a large company to being self employed. In order to make that viable, I’ll need to move to a place with a lower cost of living. I’m aiming for a part of the U.S. with a warm climate, probably the southwest. I like the desert. Anyone have any ideas for areas to check out?

    1. Stephanie

      I live in the Phoenix area. This could be a fit, depending what you’re looking for for your business and locale. One thing about Arizona: it’s got drastically different weather due to lots of elevation changes. It’s not all hot desert. Anything above like 4000 ft has cold weather.

    2. BRR

      You could also try Las Vegas, housing is still cheap I believe following the recession but I’m not sure. Possibly New Mexico. I’ve heard Santa Fe is a really nice place but no idea about the cost of living.

      1. Stephanie

        Santa Fe is sort of expensive, since it skews retiree/tourist/second home. And it gets cold in the winter. Albuquerque could be a cheaper alternative (but it also gets cold in the winter).

        In Arizona, you could also look into Tucson or Yuma. How big of an area do you want? You want it to be more urban, suburban, or rural?

    3. HR Manager

      Before taking the dive based on climate and cost alone, maybe you should consider the type of work you are doing? Even for something like software development, sometimes businesses want to be able to meet a contractor or have some means of knowing whom they are getting involved with. Would a certain location offer more prospective clients or limit them? Something to consider if you are going into your own business for the first time.

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, HR Manager brings up some good points. This depends on your business, but some areas of the Southwest are pretty poor. Great for cost of living, not so great for salaries or client bases. I have no clue about the ease in incorporating or running a small business.

        If you do need to travel a lot (or need clients to come to you), airfare can be expensive depending on where you’re living. From Phoenix, you can get direct flights (albeit at a premium to some places) to most domestic medium-to-large cities (international is a different story). But once you get outside of Phoenix, you’re talking about expensive connections or driving 2-3 hours to fly out Phoenix (in Arizona, at least).

        Another suggestion–El Paso?

        1. Relocating

          Great suggestions! This would just be my home base while I’ll be out on the road a lot. So the exact location doesn’t matter that much as long as it’s warm, affordable, and welcoming to artistic types.

          1. Gene

            By “out on the road” do you mean, literally, driving or more travelling? If it’s driving, you want to look at distances to where you’ll be going, if it’s more generic travelling, you’ll want to look at the local airport’s airlines and where you can go nonstop. Due to the amount of tourist travel, Vegas probably has the best low-cost connections by air to anywhere in the country with Phoenix reasonably close.

          2. Stephanie

            I think any of the big cities like Phoenix, Vegas, Tucson will have artistic areas. All those should be affordable, provided you’re not trying to live in the most exclusive areas of town. Sedona is big on that, but I’d imagine it’s got some of the same cost-of-living issues as Santa Fe (it also can get a bit cold–it snowed up there on New Year’s Day).

            You could also try the Imperial Valley in Southeastern California or other parts of Eastern California. I don’t know a ton about those areas, however.

            This may sound like an obvious suggestion, but come visit in the summer to make sure you can put up with five months of summer. I am biased and would prefer that over snow, but I do meet tons of people who hate it constantly being over 100 F (and over 110 F in the dead of summer).

  58. CAinUK

    I’d love a bit of advice. I married my partner and moved back to the UK a couple years ago. I left DC (where I had great friends and job prospects) and when I returned to the UK, my partner was head-hunted into a job that’s…basically in the middle of nowhere. So my career is now very much stalled.

    It’s an amazing opportunity for him, but it has caused us a lot of tension as we are both career-oriented. We are stuck for at least 3 – 5 years for his project, which is a considerable time for my own career (and life, it feels) to be on hiatus.

    I have been resourceful and found a policy-type job, but it’s mundane and I hate going into work each day (also an hour commute each way). I can’t tread water much longer and remain this unmotivated.

    I have always considered going back to do my PhD (I love policy work in my field, so it is always an asset and interest). I’ve found a great supervisor willing to oversee my thesis, and possibly funding (a must-have). But, three years is a long time to dedicate to a PhD thesis and I’m having trouble mustering motivation to even complete the proposal–likely because I am a bit depressed.
    Alternatively, the local private school is very keen to have me observe lessons and train to teach – and I would LOVE to teach (especially teenagers). Even if I did my PhD I see myself teaching 16 – 18 year-olds, not at university.

    So I’m at a bit of a cross-roads. I could do the PhD (and I could teach afterwards, or go back into policy research), but I worry I can’t sustain interest on my topic for three full years. Or go immediately into teaching – which also has immediate pay-off and career trajectory, but I may always regret not taking this weird phase of life to do the PhD.

    I need some advice! :)

    1. BRR

      Can you finish your PhD in three years there? In the states that would be extremely fast.

      I say go and teach. It sounds like that’s what you want to do. If you’re not even sure if you can sustain interest for three years you probably shouldn’t do it. I know a lot of people who start and who are super enthusiastic for their topic and still don’t finish.

      What I don’t know are your long term plans. Are you going to move back to the states? If so it’s hard to move from being a teacher to anything else plus if you teach you’ll either need to find a private school job or get certified.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Alison advises against high degrees in many cases.
      I am suspecting yours might be one of them.

      I am not sure if you will use the PhD right now. This is something to consider- the immediate usefulness.
      The other thing that jumps at me is where you say you may regret it later if you do not use this time now. The loophole here is that this is NOT the only point in your life you will have to do a PhD. You will have other opportunities if you keep your eyes wide open.

      If none of this persuades you one way or another, then why not consider teaching for a year and reviewing this question again in 12 months?

      1. CAinUK

        Good points! And you’re right, this isn’t the only chance to get the PhD. But given my career can’t move forward much for three years the PhD is tempting (and that’s how long it takes in the UK if you already have a master’s degree – at least for my field and funding stream). I also wonder: would I be considering these options if I were back in DC with a lot of job opportunitites? In the case of the PhD: maybe. In the case of teaching: probably not, but that deosn’t mean it isn’t a great career change….so I continune to be torn.

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