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*


      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*


        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.
              Random Gym Clothes midweek.

              1. Treena Kravm*

                I do laundry every two weeks or so, but I do
                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…


          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.

        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.


    1. Stars and violets*

      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)*


        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.


  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. Maygan*

            Just standing up for the under dog here….the dogs and cats that you seem to say don’t need proper care because the “Animal Rescue,” is limited in funds.


            It is not okay for you to say to the public that it is okay for Animal Recsues to not take care of animals.

            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…


            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*


      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.


      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*


                  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*

                  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.