weekend free-for-all – February 21-22, 2015

IMG_2929This 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.)

Book Recommendation of the Week:
If you enjoy reading other people’s painfully embarrassing teenager love letters and  diary entries, you need to read Mortified: Real Words, Real People, Real Pathetic. Stemming from the live stage show of the same name, it features hilarious real-life artifacts from adolescence and will make you cringe about your own. I think I cried from laughing at one point.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 938 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    You may or may not have noticed that the post listing in the right sidebar (the one that listed all the old posts, in reverse chronological order) is gone! We removed it this morning because the site started freaking out and not functioning, and it appears that the plug-in that creates that archive listing might be to blame. My web person has been urging me to remove it for a while because it’s been causing problems; as the number of posts on the site gets larger and larger, that listing — which needs to be pulled from the site’s database every time someone loads the page — becomes more and more of a strain.

    So for now, it’s removed, until we can figure out a better solution. I’m curious to know how many people relied on that archives listing to navigate the site. So: Do you miss it? Will it make it harder for you to find posts? Do you use it to see the most recent posts have been? (My guess is that people probably use it to see what’s new in the last few days.)

    There are a couple of different alternatives (like having an archives page, a single page with the full listing of posts, or having the listing back in the sidebar, but only updated once per day) and I’d love to get feedback.

    1. BRR*

      I also go by the categories list or I will just google “askamanager _____” when I am looking for a specific post.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      What do y’all use when you come and want to see the most recent posts though? Do you just scroll down the home page? I always figured people used that archive listing but maybe I’m wrong.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Me too. I never used the other thing that you removed, either. If I want to look at archives, I only look at the categories list.

        2. Mephyle*

          Ditto. And when I first discovered the site, and read through the back archives, I went in date order.

          1. Kate the Grate*

            Yes, when I first discovered the site I used the archives and read about month each day ’til I was caught up to the present.

        3. Kyrielle*

          Ditto. And when I go to blogs I visit less often, I never use the equivalent module – I scroll down the front page.

        4. AdminAnon*

          Ditto. When I do use the archives, it’s usually to find a specific post (especially one that is a month or two old). Beyond that, I use the search bar.

      1. Meg Murry*

        I use it occasionally to jump back to a post in the last week or less from the right sidebar, usually just to see if an interesting conversation went any farther or if an OP chimed in. If there is a way to lists just posts for the week, or the last 10 posts or something, and then a link to an archive page I think that makes sense.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Oh, and occasionally to skip to the previous post, rather than scrolling down to the bottom of the comments. Some sites have links to go forward and back at both the top and bottom of the comments, and I wish this one did too, it would be helpful.

        2. Elysian*

          Yeah, I occasionally used it for this purpose, too, but it it is causing problems it won’t be too missed.

        3. Elsajeni*

          I use it like this too. Basically, if I want to look back at a post that’s from “yesterday” or earlier, I find it quicker to use the sidebar list than to scroll down, since that means scrolling past at least one short-answer post and those tend to be long. And I do look back at recent-but-not-that-recent posts fairly often, especially when I’ve commented — I don’t use the email notification, so that’s the only way I find replies to my comments.

      2. Takver*

        I have this site in my bookmarks toolbar along with all my webcomics, etc, so I just click on “Ask a Manager” on the toolbar and it opens a list of the 30 most recent posts.

      3. Cruciatus*

        I used it all the time. It won’t kill me that it’s not there, but I used it constantly to get from say, Friday’s Open Thread to the Weekend Open Thread or whatever to check on new comments. It saved a couple steps.

        1. Onymouse*

          Me too. I suspect that less frequent commenters like me (or total lurkers, for that matter) would want to read multiple new posts each time they visit the site, and it is handy for jumping to previous comment threads.

          I’m suprised there isn’t some wordpress plugin that allows the list to be generated say on every new post creation, and cached for everyone who wants it.

        2. Eliza Jane*

          Me, too. I would use it to go and find posts I was checking comments on. I’d also skim down it to see if I’d missed any posts, since I’m less good about reading every day than I used to be — sometimes I miss one entirely and only spot it on my scan.

        1. Polaris*

          Me too. Prior to Feedly, I used Google Reader. I might have used the archives bar when I was brand new to the site, but I don’t remember.

      4. Lore*

        Would it be possible to have the current week in the sidebar and the rest on an archives page? The only time I use the sidebar is when I want to see if there were any late-breaking comments on a particular post from a few days ago. On the other hand, it’s really not difficult to just jump back a page on the homepage if I need to, so an archives page would probably also work just as well.

      5. Trixie*

        Yes, archive listing which was easy to access from any post I was reading. Otherwise after finishing a post, I think I’ll have to go back to home page and scroll down to find if there are any new posts which takes more time. I’ve always used the archive list so hopefully it’ll make its way back to us.

      6. Merry and Bright*

        I normally just scroll down the home page for new posts or sometimes use the email notification option, especially if I am on the move. Otherwise I browse through the categories at the bottom.

      7. Lulubell*

        I almost always read on Feedly so I catch every post. Whenever I’ve wanted to look up a question, I’ve either used the categories or just the search function. I don’t think I’ve ever used the archive listing, except maybe when I first started reading – 2ish years ago.

      8. Manda*

        I used it to check that I’d not missed any posts and to refresh to the latest one but I don’t feel its necessary; I can scan through the posts or if I’m on one particular post I use the descriptor at the bottom of the page to go forward or back to something I’ve not seen.

      9. Treena Kravm*

        For recent posts, I always just scrolls down the home page, but I did use the archives for when I binged on AAM when I first found it, in 2011 or so? I read them year by year. I don’t know if people do that because there’s so much more content, but that’s the only time I ever noticed the archives.

      10. JamieG*

        I check the site too often for that to be an issue. It’s basically my initial default for when I have a few minutes and want to Internet.

      11. Soupspoon McGee*

        I can’t check every day, so I DO rely on the list, mostly for posts in the last few days. I also use it to find posts from the last few weeks if I’m curious about updates or threads I’ve commented on.

      12. Megan*

        I tend to use it a lot. Even though when I first discovered the site I went and read every post, if I’m bored, I’ll go to a Random year and then month and read all those posts again.

        I check the site at least twice a day so I find new posts on the homepage. Or I’ll come via Facebook if I see a status.

      13. Barbara in Swampeast*

        Wow! it looks like I am the only using the RSS feed. I have never counted how many posts the RSS feed lists, so I don’t know how far back it goes.

        I use Firefox and go to the feed to see the new posts and chose which one I want to read.

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I have occasionally glanced at the list to see if I missed any posts, but usually I just go to the home page and scroll down. So I won’t miss it at all!

      1. Lizzie*

        Same. I used the monthly archives menu more when I first started reading and wanted to explore previous posts, but now that I’ve been reading for longer I mostly stick to the home page or to the category listings.

          1. Aknownymous*

            Same. The category listings are what I use for specific posts. Though I’ve been reading for years, so I’ve already done my archive-binging :)

    4. danr*

      I liked having the list of posts from the current month. A link to a “Past posts page” would work. If it were updated monthly, then be static, it would probably tale a load off the server.

    5. V. Meadowsweet*

      I miss it!
      Some days I don’t use it, most days I check it once or twice to see if I’ve missed any posts, if I haven’t been able to visit for a few days I rely on it, and when I’m looking for a post from a week or two ago I read through to find it.
      That being said, the current month’s posts (calendar or rolling) + a link to the archive list would probably be sufficient for me :)

      I wonder if the sheer size of it is what causes the bad links that my AV warns me about every so often?

      1. Merry and Bright*

        Yes, I’ve had a few safety warnings this week from my AV too, from my phone and notebook when I have opened a link.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Is that what is slowing down the time it takes my page to load?

      I have cable here. I don’t have the highest speed, I have the medium speed. On snow days our internet slows down to a crawl here because everyone is online. (not much else to do but shovel and internet).

      I have been having real fun trying to get these pages to load. And something big -like the open thread- forget it. I went to read the open thread this morning and there were NO comments. I knew there were over a thousand comments last night. So I knew the page was not loading.

      We have tried explaining this to the cable company and their solution is “no, this is not happening.”
      My punchline is if you can take stuff off of your main page so that your pages will load better I am totally in favor.

      I used the archives more when I first started reading here. Now I very seldom look at the archive list. I do like the suggestions at the end of each post.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        This morning the site wasn’t working correctly or even loading at all, so that’s probably what you were seeing.

        Normally, though, page load time should be fairly fast.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, it’s an area thing for the most part. Even the man who repairs my computer says “how come the internet is so slow over here???”

          It is better now.

          And someone gave advice on how to stop the video type stuff. I did what that poster said to do, and my computer has been running a little bit faster because of that, also.

        2. Mimmy*

          I have found that when the Open Threads have many comments (high-hundreds, over 1,000), the load time is a few seconds longer, but that’s okay.

    7. acmx*

      I would use the sidebar to check back in on the more recent posts. Maybe you could just have the current month or last 2 weeks?

    8. So Very Anonymous*

      I’ve used the archives listing, but clicking on links there often led to a “warning, security certificate expired, get me out of here!” page, so I’ve used it less and less. I do use it to see what the most recent posts have been, but then I tend to navigate to those posts from the main page, because of all the “warning! security!” stuff.

      I kind of like what Captain Awkward does — there’s a separate page/tab called “Archives” with a listing of posts. I did like that you also had your broken down by year, further down in the column, because then I could go read older posts if I were jonesing for a “new” post I hadn’t seen yet (I started reading AaM regularly around 2012).

    9. CAA*

      I use the sidebar to go back to recent posts I’ve commented on or ones that have an interesting conversation in progress. It’s also very helpful when I’m traveling and can’t read for a few days. I don’t need an “all-time” list, but if you could get the last 7 days or last 30 days to work that would be very helpful.

    10. StudentA*

      I totally relied on it. I am a reader who actually went back to all the archives and am going through all your old posts. If there’s an alternative way to do that, just let me know. I gotta say I think it’s cool to be able to look at your posts chronologically.

    11. Ruffingit*

      I actually do use the sidebar to see the most recent postings. Maybe you could do a listing of the last 10 postings or something? Don’t know if that would create the same problem you’re experiencing now, but I do like the sidebar listing.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I think that’s what we’re going to do! The 30 most recent posts in the sidebar, and then a link for the whole rest of the archives, which will be on its own page and organized by month and year.

        Massive thanks for solving this AAM crisis go to Laura of http://www.smallestdecisions.net, who has been amazing during these last couple of weeks of tech issues!

      2. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

        +1 Yes to just a few recent postings – If i’m travelling and can’t access the site for a few days, it’s helpful to skim the headings and see if I missed something.

    12. Melissa*

      I never used it. When I wanted to see old posts I missed, I just scroll down the front page until I hit one I’ve read. Then I use the “older posts” button, or I enter page numbers into the URL to skip through pages. This is probably a more cumbersome way to click through old posts than using the archives links, but I’m usually browsing AAM when I have some free time and I’m settled into my comfy chair (like now) so…it’s just part of the experience!

      I like the idea of an archives page, because I think that is something I would use. I think I wouldn’t notice the sidebar listing because I tend to mentally block out what’s on the sidebar because I think I know everything that’s there (RSS feed buttons, categories, etc.)

    13. Revanche*

      I loved using that sidebar to quickly catch up on any posts I’ve missed when I land on the homepage. If there was a way to have it without breaking things (maybe only list two days’ worth?) that’d be great.

    14. A. D. Kay*

      I don’t remember the last time I used the archive listing. I might have used it when I first learned about AAM and wanted to catch up, but that was a couple of years ago.

    15. Audiophile*

      I used it more often when I was first discovering the site. I open up a month and go through posts that way.

      I do use it to scroll most recent posts, usually when there’s a change to a new month. So there’s an open thread on a Friday and the new month begins a few days later. I also use it to jog my memory on things I’ve commented on or want to check back on.

      I definitely use it a lot less than I use to.

    16. Vicki*

      I absolutely use the archives at least for this month and last month.
      I don;t care about the categories, but I scan for unread posts with the sidebar.

      Please bring it back?! I’ll go with updated once per day.

    17. Yes, I missed it!*

      Please return that! I am not a daily reader of your site and I found it so helpful when skimming through posts I wanted to read. :(

      It bums me out that it’s gone and frankly, I probably won’t read your site as often without it.

    18. Beth Anne*

      I’ve used it in the past to see what has been posted in the last few days. I wonder if you could get a “Recent Posts” widget that shows the last 5 posts…I know a lot of blogs have that instead of the way you had it.

    19. Anoners*

      I use it to send people looking for really good advice on resumes/interviews/cover letters your way. I’d just link to the collection so they could peruse everything in one spot (I’m a reference librarian).

    20. Helka*

      I tend to use the archive sidebar when browsing, but not when looking for something specific. So it’s a nice-to-have, not a need.

    21. StudentAffairsProfessional*

      I used the sidebar just as you described, to quickly browse what articles had been posted since I’d last visited. I usually read AAM a few times each week. When I first found this blog, I used the sidebar to methodically read the archives in order. Maybe an archives page/tab organized chronologically (I’m thinking first a list of year links, that would expand to month links, which would expand to individual posts) would serve the same purpose?

  2. Camster*

    A link to the archives page is a good alternative! I do check the archive listings from time to time, but not daily. Of course, I’ve also used the search box, so whatever causes less problems works for me!

  3. Mimmy*

    My current class is making me want to tear my hair out! The instructor is really nice and funny, but is not good at explaining things in simple language. She assigns us readings that go so far over our heads! (Well, to be fair, I can only speak for myself and a classmate I’ve become close with).

    The course looks at the “embodiment” of disability, and the concepts so far seem to draw from anthropology, philosophy and a little bit of sociology–subjects I haven’t taken in over 20 years! I finally caved and sent a note to the professor, but I have a feeling she’s just going to confuse me more, lol. I just need something in plain language that might succinctly explain some of these concepts so that I can have some idea what the heck I’m reading!!

    1. Mimmy*

      Oh…FTR, the course is online, which makes it harder since there are no lectures. It’s all reading and writing.

    2. danr*

      Have you tried using Google to see what comes up for the terms? Another way to make some sense of them is to go to an online database for the subject. Search on the terms as text and see what subjects are associated with articles that use the terms. You might also do some searches as ” “introduction” and the terms “.
      Also, try this method of reading the harder articles. Read the abstract, then the opening paragraphs. Then skip to the end and read the conclusion. If it seems to make sense, go back and read the whole article.

      1. C Average*

        This seems like a really good approach to reading dense prose. I’m keeping this in mind for the next time I have occasion to read dense prose–something that’s blessedly rare in my existence.

        1. LibbyG*

          Another strategy is to first read the first sentence of each paragraph to get the overview. And it may help to remember that any academic paper should have a central thesis – if you can figure out what it is, that’s 80% of the battle.

      2. Mimmy*

        danr – Meant to thank you for the suggestions. Good strategy to read the beginning and end first.

        C Average – Makes me long for that data analysis paper I griped about last semester…remember that ;)

    3. Myrin*

      It sounds like both your readings and your instructor use complicated language, am I reading that correctly? I can usually deal with complicated articles or book chapters or whatever I have to read if we talk about it in simple terms later on, but just imagining having to deal with only “sophisticated” language makes me break out in metaphorical hives.

      (I’m working on my master’s right now and while I can understand and speak language that seems pretty advanced to, for example, my very practical and not-really-interested-in-your-theoretical-stuff mum, I’m actually a pretty down-to-earth person and these texts that feel like someone super intelligent is getting off on their own big words make me want to tear my hair out. I actually got into a little argument with a fellow student over that exact topic just a month ago because I was just DONE with this one article we had to read while she was all gushy and ZOMG so clever! about it. It’s especially bad when you’re actually interested in a topic but the way the thing is written makes you want to shoot it.)

      1. GTA*

        I’m sorry you’ve been having so much trouble with your course! I’m in the Disability Studies Reading Group at our university, and most of us agree that we enjoy turning to these readings (as opposed to our usual readings in other disciplines) because most disability scholars make an effort to write in an accessible way!

        Some things that might help and that have helped me in my studies:
        1. Take a step back and read some of the “intro to the field/subject” articles that might give you some context for the specific readings you’re doing. The ones our reading group used were Timothy Jay Dolmage’s “An Archive and Anatomy of Disability Myths” from Disability Rhetoric (2013) & “Current Issues, Controversies, and Solutions”, chapter 2 of Arts and Humanities–The SAGE Reference Series on Disabilities: Key Issues and Future Directions (2012).
        2. Search for the article and/or author in Wikipedia–usually the summaries will be manageable, and the core concepts already explained in terms that are a little more comprehensible, sometimes with links to pages for those concepts themselves so you can follow up in more detail.
        If there’s no Wikipedia page, you can always suggest to your professor that a useful future assignment (perhaps for exam review?) might be to have students create one using language that’s accessible to a general audience–it’s such a useful skill to be able to “code switch” in that way!
        3. Seconding danr’s idea to just Google search–I’ve found other students’ summaries/analyses of the exact articles I was reading that at least let me know if my impressions are on the right track.
        4. Pay attention to the references the author uses in building his/her argument–they often assume you’re familiar with the core concepts of the scholars they’re building off of, and you might need to Google/Wikipedia those as well.
        5. I’ve actually had my students ask me for a reading guide for the most challenging readings before, so you might consider if this is a request you’re comfortable making of your instructor.
        6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your class sessions, especially “So what exactly does Author mean by “term”?” It’s highly likely that there are other students who would love to have key terms/concepts from the readings clarified!

        Good luck! It sounds like a fascinating class!

        1. Mimmy*

          Thank you so much…it’s so awesome to have a fellow Disability Studies student on AAM!! I will definitely take a look at some of those suggestions!

      2. the gold digger*

        texts that feel like someone super intelligent is getting off on their own big words

        We had a reading once in grad school that felt the same way to me. The prof asked what we thought. I answered, “I am not a stupid person, but I could not understand this article. Was the writer actually trying to communicate or just trying to show off?” A lot of times, I think they are just showing off.

        1. Not telling*

          Although my graduate studies were in a completely different field, I too had several reading assignments that were way more dense than they needed to be. I think it happens to every grad student. And yes, I think it is the result of authors who just want to make themselves sound more intelligent–or their topic sound more important or complex than it really is.

          If you are having a problem with all of your classes and all of your assignments, then it’s something to discuss with your advisor or professor. If it’s just this class or one or two reading assignments, it’s just par for the course. Translate the reading into common language for yourself so you can get the assignment done, and move on to efforts that are more worth your time. You may be trying to make the concepts of the class harder than they really are.

        2. Stephanie*

          It was a revelation when I realized verbose and written with GRE flashcards does not equal well-written.

          I used to work in the legal field and it took a while to unlearn legal writing habits. Legal writing is very specific and unique and most fields (outside of law) do not want that.

        3. Revanche*

          I’ve been told my blogging is either lovely prose (eh, sometimes) or it’s been described as somewhat inaccessible because I use big words (sorta?) but honest to God I really just write the way I think and my brain enjoys the feel of certain words for cadence. It does make me wonder if the end effect is how you felt about that reading, here!

      3. C Average*

        My degree is in English literature, and I remember reading some really dense lit crit stuff, including deconstruction, my junior and senior year, as well as some look-at-me-I’m-SO-edgy fiction and poetry.

        A friend and I came up with what we called the theory of spontaneous deconstruction, which posited that some texts are so poorly written and place so much undue effort on the reader that they do not require a critic to deconstruct them; they fall apart all on their own. I think it was our way of staying sane while our classmates similarly gushed over incomprehensible gibberish.

        We both now work for big corporations, and we’ll occasionally email each other a jargon-dense paragraph signifying nothing with the subject line “spontaneous deconstruction.”

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Describes the way I felt about half of what I read in English lit. Am thinking of Kubla Kahn and oh– the guy who never used periods- what’s his name.
          I needed antidepressants to get through the course, to boot.
          The final test consisted of random quotes from 350 pages of a literature book. We were supposed to identify the author. There must have been 50 quotes. I wrote down William Shakespear for every single question, handed my test in and left. As you can tell, I never got my antidepressants.

          1. C Average*

            Coleridge and cummings! Coleridge was high as a kite for most of his adult life and allegedly based Kubla Khan on a vision he experienced while taking opium. I don’t think cummings has a similar excuse.

            (I’ll admit that I enjoy both of their work, but can see how it’s not for everyone. My personal bugbears were things like “Naked Lunch” and “Neuromancer.”)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I said to myself “C Average is going to know off the top of her head!” hahaha.
              A lot of these authors were pretty stoned. I find that amazing that there were so many that were basically train wrecks. What is the correlation between art and tragedy? I have one friend that quit drinking and he lost his interest in painting. Gone, vanished. He was a good-good artist. It seems like whatever drives the pain also drives the art.

              Kudos to you for getting through these authors, my patience done wore out part way through.I envied people who could get through it. You’d have done okay on that test. In my mind, the quotes all merged and they all sounded the same to me. One of my weak spots, I am afraid.

              1. C Average*

                Heh. Yeah, these things are an acquired taste for most people. I think I was born with an affinity for words and rhyme and song, and reading good poetry is one of the great joys of being human, as far as I am concerned.

                As a teenager, I taught myself calligraphy and got quite good, doing a thriving freelance business in wedding invites and such. For practice, I copied out poems I liked from the textbooks my mom had kept from HER English literature classes. So I have whole slabs of poetry committed to memory from copying them out in careful italic with my Speedball nibs and my India ink.

                There’s a whole really interesting conversation among creative types about whether it’s better to medicate things like ADHD and even depression or whether it’s better to leave them untreated so as to not interfere with the creative process. Given that past generations got stoned to tap their creativity, I find this thread fascinating.

                “Whatever drives the pain also drives the art.” Oh, ’tis true, ’tis true. (To quote yet another poet, A.E. Housman.)

                1. Swedish Tekanna*

                  Could not agree more on poetry. I have an entire bookcase dedicated to poetry in my flat (one of many bookcases!) and I still add to it.

                  Interesting on the medication debate. When I suffered a bout of depression a few years ago the turning point (when I admitted I had a problem and needed help) was when my sister pointed out that I had stopped reading, and my father-in-law was worried that I had stopped discussing books with him. Although I didn’t have the mental energy to read, the beginning of the road back was when I started listening to favourite books on CD and then, bit by bit, I began reading for myself and everything else began to fall into place again. So really, in my case, it was books themselves which were my “cure”. I am now inseparable from my e-reader as I love knowing I have my portable library with me.

                2. Not So NewReader*

                  Wow. That is a top notch ethics question- medication or art. Never thought of that one.
                  Having hashed through such questions as “do rocks have rights?” and “is it wrong to kill lethal bacteria?” I thought I had seen it all. But guess not.

                  Where does current thinking land on this one? I kind of picture it as landing on it is whatever the artist wants.

                3. C Average*

                  “Where does current thinking land on this one?”

                  All over the map, at least based on the small sample size of people I know who have wrestled with this question, and with people who have explored these topics publicly.

                  (I don’t know what a mental-health professional would say! I only know what the artists say.)

                  It seems to me that the question of medication tends to come up when a creative but mentally fragile person starts having trouble in relationships with others. Usually, that’s when they start to explore medication. And then the topic of “can I still be creative?” emerges.

                  Without the opinions or needs of others to consider, a highly creative but also unstable person can create whole systems of existence that let them do their art while working around their limitations. It becomes their “normal,” and no one tells them any different. The insomniac stays up all night creating, the depressive writes dark but beautiful prose, the bipolar person goes through highly productive periods punctuated with crashes. They develop processes that work for them.

                  But then someone–a romantic partner, a family member, an employer–asks them to follow more conventional norms, or gently points out that their lifestyle isn’t healthy and may be indicative of a problem. Options, including meds, are explored. And that’s when the questions emerge about how to maintain creativity when your creativity is enabled by divergence from norms that are regarded as healthy, but medication is designed to bring you into alignment with those very norms.

                  Some find that the consistency and predictability they can gain with medication outweighs the loss in sheer creative energy, and they can keep making art. Others find that the medication blunts their creative impulses and changes the nature of their art or makes them less interested in making it at all. Anyone artistic who tries medication wonders, “Is this going to ruin my creativity?” Sometimes it’s worth finding out.

                  I think it’s super interesting stuff. I don’t have a dog in the fight myself, but I’ve seen a lot of acquaintances and friends and artists in the public eye deal with these dilemmas.

              2. Panda Bandit*

                I think pain driving art is true for some artists, not all though. I’ve been dealing with very severe mental issues for most of my life. I was doing art for all those years, but now that I’m in treatment, I’m doing way more than ever and actually having the time of my life. I’ve found the joy in creation and that’s what drives me.

      4. DastardlyGent*

        Derrida is great about this.

        And by great I mean his writing makes you want to shoot his corpse full of holes.
        And yes–some academics get off on making their arguments as tedious and difficult to get through as humanly possible, and they should be shamed for it.

        1. C Average*

          Derrida, yes!

          I have a decent vocabulary and the patience to slog through some pretty thick stuff, but there were times I’d read an entire chapter of Derrida (and to a lesser degree Foucault and Heidegger) and come away with NO idea what I’d just read.

          We had this insanely brilliant lit crit professor who, we joked, had an enhanced intelligence field in a circle around her. She could explain the readings in class and, magically, we would understand, too! Sparkling high-level discourse would ensue. And then we’d walk out of class and be clueless again.

          We used to marvel at this phenomenon and wish that we could bring this professor with us everywhere for the rest of our lives so we could be brilliant all the time, not just in her class.

        2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          I once snapped in a graduate seminar and had a fairly “lively” discussion with the professor about whether Julia Kristeva’s writing meant anything at all, and whether it was deliberate or not. The prof was in a good mood that day and didn’t wither me with Gallic scorn, although he failed to convince me she wasn’t just engaging in an elaborate long form readers tease. God, I was frustrated. I’d rather read JS Mill, and that is saying something.

        3. Mephyle*

          All I know about Derrida is the ‘Derrida game’. Supposedly you take any sentence (or paragraph) by him and turn every word that you can to its opposite. Then you present the two sentences to the players (who are Derrida scholars) and get them to guess which was the original. It’s described here at Language Log.

    4. RG*

      My anthropology classes always gave me the impression that as an anthropologist, you are required to make up one word per article.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        As a student of anthropology: yes, that’s absolutely part of the deal. If you didn’t add anything to your Microsoft Word dictionary writing a paper, you haven’t had an original thought. /sarcasm

    5. Mimmy*

      OMG….my professor just wrote me back, and she admits that she doesn’t fully understand all of what’s in these readings. That, ladies and gentlemen, is NOT how you teach! *headdesk*

      1. Clever Name*

        Wow. That’s terrible. I’m not ashamed to admit that I was usually only one written lecture ahead of my students when I taught community college, but I was at least able to explain stuff when asked questions. Honestly, if the instructor doesn’t understand the material she assigns she needs to either assign other stuff that she does understand, or she has no business teaching that particular course. I would complain to the school at the end of the semester. You are not getting your money’s worth.

        1. Mimmy*

          Trust me, she’s getting dinged when I do the course evaluation in May! Thank goodness she’s engaged on the Discussion Boards and the other students do seem to like her, at least as a person. I think she understands the general concepts–I think her background is in anthropology–but maybe doesn’t always know how the concepts relate to what we’re studying in this particular course.

          1. Not telling*

            I had a few professors in my online program like this as well. For me a lot of the problem was that the course was ‘canned’–written entirely in advance and just repeated by an adjunct who moderated more than taught. In a few instances I caught assignment instructions being repeated verbatim from another course–which meant for very weird interpretations from the instructor on exactly what we were supposed to be doing, since the courses were very different topics.

            I always made sure to not only write my comments in the course eval but also to email my advisor about the clear proofreading issue in the course material. Because it wasn’t the instructor’s fault that the course was written so poorly, they were just teaching the material they were given.

            If you feel situation is similar you might consider doing the same. Because aside from your struggle with the material, there’s the issue of the quality and reputation of the program (in my case it was also a violation of the school’s self-plagiarism policy, which applied to both instructors and students).

        1. C Average*

          I think a lot of people take the current craze for authenticity a little too far.

          Count that among useful things I’ve learned on AAM.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ugh. ugh. Ten years ago, I took a stats class. One the first day, the teacher announced that there was no such thing as statistics. It is simply whatever you conjure up in your head. The finance teacher said the same thing.
            I did very poorly in both classes. Although in the end these profs maybe correct in their stance and had some foundation for these proclamations, I cannot follow someone who has no navigation equipment on board. The classes were a waste of time and money.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        LOL! Sounds like my biology lab instructor. The lab books seem to have been written by someone for whom English is a second language. . . and who never studied biology. The readings don’t make sense, and the questions make even less sense. When I ask the lab instructor for clarification, she has to grab the teacher’s manual for the answer because she, too, has no clue what is being said or asked.

      3. Dr. Speakeasy*

        WHAT. That’s just straight up professional malfeasance. I’m REALLY hoping that she just said something trying to be supportive and it is getting a bit misconstrued.

  4. saranon*

    Curious if anyone here has any experiences with coding/web development bootcamps or similar types of courses? I’m looking into them somewhat seriously, partially for my own personal reasons and partially for the possibilities of a career change. There are some that are offered part-time in the evenings, as well, which might be more suitable for my life. I’m in Vancouver, and plan to be here long-term, but would be open to going elsewhere for a short period of time (like under 6 months). Thoughts?

      1. saranon*

        I’ve worked through some of their courses, which is part of why I’ve been thinking about taking it more seriously. I’ve just started doing CS50 through edX, which has been really great so far!

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Are you a woman? If so, Hackbright Academy in San Francisco might be an option for you. It’s a fellowship/classes and they have intense or part time options. I know one of the teachers and he’s a great educator.

    2. DCSarah*

      My boyfriend is starting a course through General Assembly next month – I’m all in favor of the idea. You learn solid, marketable skills in very little time. I’m a programmer and one thing to think about is learning programming languages can be easier if done through immersion, at least in my experience.

    3. thomasensen*

      there are books in HTML5, Java, etc.

      As well as courses in local colleges, and online for reasonable fees.

      A cert would help, but first hand knowledge is better.

      Build a site for a product or organisation, as it is living proof so to speak of your competence.

    4. Artemesia*

      A friend of mine just finished Dev Bootcamp which is a 9 week program and this took her from frustrating food service work where she was always strapped for cash to a solid career job with a decent salary and benefits and most of her classmates who are younger and more career development oriented have even more impressive jobs. If I needed to make a career switch in these difficult times, I’d definitely be looking at this. It was apparently intense, but involved a lot of great coaching as well as more traditional teaching.

        1. Dr. Speakeasy*

          The co-founder of Dev Bootcamp (he’s not with them anymore) also does shorter courses through Code Union.

    5. saranon*

      Thanks for all the suggestions – definitely lots to look into! I’m planning to work through some self-taught and/or free stuff for now, as I have to save up some money, but it’s good to know there are actual people out there with relatively positive experiences!

  5. azvlr*

    I need advice on Lasik surgery for several reasons. Everyone I’ve talked to said it’s the best thing they ever did, but all the eye doctors I’ve talked to say I have dry eyes and it would make them dryer.

    I’m ok wearing contacts, but at night when I need to remove them my vision is so impared that I feel anxiety. When I wear glasses, I am really uncomfortable. If I wear them for long periods working on the computer, my eyes itch and tear up (this doesn’t happen when I am wearing contacts). If I try to wear glasses when I’m relaxing to watch TV, my head is sideways and they don’t sit right on my face. I would also really like to go swimming without glasses.
    I’m at the age where I almost need reading glasses anyway, so I don’t care about having to wear glasses just for reading. I don’t want to trade one misery for another. I’d love to hear your thoughts! Thanks.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I had Lasik 4 months ago. I love it now, but I will say that I had real doubts in the first few weeks after the surgery, when I had major dryness issues (which for a while kept feeling like something was in my eye). It went away after a few weeks, but apparently for some people it doesn’t ever end up going away — and having a taste of that, and knowing that it could be permanent, really made me second-guess whether it had been sensible to do totally optional surgery that comes with that sort of risk. The risk is small, yes, but it does happen for some people, and it would have sucked to have saddled myself with that problem forever just to get rid of contacts/glasses.

      On the other hand, though, you sound like you’re having different issues, so the risk/benefit calculation is probably different for you.

    2. Lizh*

      Have you tried getting computer glasses in addition to the regular ones? I did that at my optometrist’s suggestion. It has made a big difference. Downside is I am always switching between them and regular glasses when I turn away from my computer. I had to call uncle on contacts after wearing them for 30+ years because my eyes would get so dry. Mid way through the day, it felt like I had sandpaper in my eyes. I was told it could be caused by my ADHD medicine. I know what you mean about the glasses not sitting right when watching tv. But, for a whole lot of reasons, I am a scaredy cat about LASIK.

      1. Alma*

        My progressive lenses have a lot of space for that “middle range” – reading from a podium, computer work, leaning over someone’s shoulder to point something out, etc. That is the kind of “viewing” I do most of the day (and it includes watching the dashboard on the car, signing a receipt… reading a menu…). It helps me not going through the day developing eye fatigue from squinting, or trying to focus.

    3. saranon*

      I haven’t personally tried them, but I believe there are contacts that you leave in for 24hrs a day, perhaps for a month and then switch them out?

      1. Moonpie*

        I’ve used those for years! I really love them for the simplicity and it’s so easy I’ve never considered LASIK.

        1. afiendishthingy*

          Yeah, I like mine too, but occasionally my allergies act up and I don’t want to wear them, and I don’t really like wearing glasses. I probably just need to get around to getting a new pair of glasses that have the glare-resistant stuff and a prescription under 10 years old so I won’t be terrified if I have to drive after dark wearing them. But I hate how glasses get so dirty so quickly and they also seem to always slip down my nose or sit crooked on my face (probably because I don’t bother to put them back in their case and they get bent). I’m the most nearsighted person I know (contact prescription -9.0 and -7.0) and Lasik complications sound scary. Good luck, I hope you find the right option for you.

    4. Meg Murry*

      How old are your current glasses? Could part of the problem be that the prescription just really isn’t right for you anymore and that’s the big difference between glasses and contacts for you? For computer work – do you use a screen to reduce glare? Do you have the anti glare coating on your glasses (and is it still in good shape? mine tends to get scratched and splotchy after a year).
      If you nearly need reading glasses, you could look into no-line progressives – that’s what I have, and I think it helps for intermediate distances like computer screens.

      If eye drs are recommending you not get LASIK, its probably best you listen to them and not keep hunting for someone willing to do it anyway- that seems like asking for trouble. Have you asked if you are a candidate for LasEk, PRK or any of the less common corrective surgeries?

    5. YWD*

      I had LASIK surgery 12 years ago. The procedure has changed a bit since then so my experience may be different from what happens today. During my initial consultation with the surgeon he said my eyes were quite dry and that I should be using drops on a regular basis. Since the surgery the dryness has continued but is only marginally worse than before. It’s worse in the winter than other times of the year. I use Refresh preservative-free drops several times a day.

      Are you currently using drops and do they stop the itchiness? If they do you may be ok having the surgery and continuing to use them. If not I’d suggest looking for alternative treatments before considering surgery. You may want to ask your eye doctor or surgeon if they have a patient with similar dryness who had the surgery that you can speak with. It’s not a guarantee you’ll have the same results but it may help you to get a first hand account.

      1. azvlr*

        My prescriptions are all current, and I have the anti-glare coating. I currently do use drops and I find they help a lot. Now that I’m thinking about this the itching seems to be related to my eyes watering when wearing glasses, which seems to be related to glare, but it only happens when I am not wearing contacts. Because of this I worry that going contacts-free with Lasik or other corrective surgery will cause this to happen full time. If nothing else, I feel like I have gotten some good questions to ask my eye doctor the next time I see him.

      2. Melissa*

        I need a new drop brand. I have dry eyes too and my optometrist suggested Systane Balance, but they only make my eyes feel dryer. I think I’ll try the Refresh Optive (I need the kind with the lipids in them, since the source of my problem is that my tears don’t have enough of the lipids to keep the tears from evaporating).

    6. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I’m one of those people who will tell you LASIK was the best thing that ever happened to me and I had it done at age 36 and they’ll only “guarantee” the work until you’re about 40 because that’s when your eye muscles start to natural weaken and cause the far-sightedness you need reading glasses.

      I was SO incredibly near-sighted and had a terrible astigmatism that I couldn’t see past the end of my nose without corrective lenses. I had been wearing contacts for so long I couldn’t hardly stand it anymore and had reverted to wearing glasses all the time.

      Part of my recovery was a prescription for Restasis and instructions to use non-prescription eye drops & gels regularly for 6 months to a year. I was fine after that, but there was a period of about 3 months where my eyes were very, very dry.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I’m not going to say it was the best thing that ever happened to me, I never really hated wearing my glasses, but I do not regret doing it. I can’t think of anyone I know who had it done that regrets doing it. What pushed me over the edge (at around 36) was the same thing you’re talking about, it hit me one day that if something happened — if I was in an accident or lost my glasses — I would be completely helpless as I could see clearly about 6″ from my eyes but beyond that, nothing but blur. I wouldn’t be able to work or drive or anything until I got new glasses. I had never thought of it that way before.

        I had dry eyes, they do get a little drier in weather like this and I notice that when I’m tired/my eyes are dry, my vision gets a little worse. But that’s infrequent. I only got reading glasses this year (I’m now 46) and only need them for reading labels and other fine work at this point. Unfortunately, I couldn’t buy cheap cheaters at the drugstore, I had to get a pair through my eye doctor. The funny thing is, it’s like my vision has completely flipped. TMI alert: Before, if I took off my glasses, I could still see my armpit clearly enough to shave it, now I can’t see it at all, but I can see about 1′ from my eye, anything under that is blurry.

        So I’m now going to give you the same advice I give everyone who asks me about LASIK: Winter IMO is the best time of the year to do it if you can because I had it done in August and they warn you about the feeling of it afterwards, that it’s like the worst eyelash in your eye you’ve ever had… there’s also the pain of being in the bright sunlight. I had booked a hotel room (because they want you to go back the next day to check you’re healing properly and I couldn’t get anyone to take care of me for it), I had left the curtains closed before I left and the 750m between the office and the hotel, I was getting pretty close to desperate to get into a dark area. If I had had someone drive me, I would have seriously wanted to lie down on the backseat and put a blanket over my head, it was very sunny day that day. You will not be able to drive after it’s over, you will not want to be on public transit. They gave me a pair of those sunglasses that wrap around and I wore a hat, it wasn’t enough.

        If you’ve been going to eye doctors, unless they do this as part of their practice, go to an actual place where they do it, especially if they have a cornea specialist on staff who can answer your questions. You don’t say where you are, but in Toronto I went to 3 different places for a free assessment. If your eyes are dry, you can get drops (in fact, they wanted me to buy these special ones to use in the weeks/months after the procedure that were individually blister packed). If your corneas are not thick enough, then you’re not a candidate for LASIK, and you’ll need to do the other one I can’t remember what it’s called (PRK?). One of my friends had to do that and she had to wear protective contacts while it healed for a few months, and from what I gather it was much more irritating. By the next morning, the “eyelash” feeling was gone for me and while my vision wasn’t perfectly clear (it was like there was a very light fog over everything, which was gone by the next day)

        At the place I went, everything was done with lazer and they offer a 20 year guarantee (if you get your eyes checked every year) in case they slip. When you get the surgery, they over correct and then your eyes bounce back to 20/20-ish — mine are no longer that, but not too far off. However, my eye doctor told me that if I ever had it again, that “not being able to see close up” thing would get worse, so I guess it’s something you would have to be 100% certain of that you wanted/needed. The follow up care was also included as part of the fee, which was $6500 at the time. I had to go to my eye doctor every week for a month, then at three months, then at six months. There are those places that promise you can get your eyes done for $490/eye but my eye doctor told me (and yes, this was 10 years ago) that they are staffed by people like himself who are sent for a weekend training session and you could get lucky and get someone who had been doing it for 10 months, or someone on their 10th patient. Someone else told me that that $490/eye was the base price — once you’re in the door, they start with the upsell, I don’t know but I would assume that you would have to pay for your own after care at that price. I didn’t go to one of those places, so I can’t speak from personal experience about what kind of sales tactics they use.

        The other thing I would definitely recommend is, talk to your doctor about whether or not it would be safe for you to take a sleeping pill after the procedure. They offered me Valium when I did it and having never taken it before, I made myself stay awake for several hours lying on the bed with my eyes closed because I was paranoid about what might happen. I wish I had just taken something and slept the night away because the best “cure” for your eyes is to keep them closed and sleep. You can’t rub your eyes (so start monitoring how often you do that now), they gave me these goggles to tape to my face so that I couldn’t rub my face accidentally on the pillow and they were not very comfortable, but you only need to wear them the first night.

        If they offer you a sedative, take it. If they don’t, ask for it. I’m not an especially anxious person, but as I lay there on that machine, I remember thinking in a weird flat voice “this is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done. Get up. Get up and get out of here. Do it. Do it now.” and I just couldn’t. It was bizarre, but I wouldn’t have gone through with it without that. The procedure itself was over really fast, much faster than I thought it would be. I could see tiny puffs of vapour from my eyes during it, but because of the sedative, I wasn’t freaking out about it, it was more interesting than scary. They also put some sedative drops in your eyes because… The other thing is that they use these stretcher things to pull back your eyelids which can leave bruising on the whites of your eyes, I had a bit of that, and it’s kind of icky. After it was over, I sat up and just kind of looked about the room. There was a small plaque on the wall about 5′ away from the table and while there was this grey-ish haze over everything, I could read it. When I had come into the room about 15-20 minutes previously, I could tell there was something there since it was a different colour, but I had no idea what it was.

        Immediately following, they kept me there for about an hour, and then I was able leave under my own power. I went back in the morning, everything was fine and that was it. At one of my weekly appointments, my eye doctor said there was a scratch on one of my corneas and that I should go into the centre and have it checked out, which I did, but it had been very hot and dusty that day and by the time I was able to get an appointment, whatever scratch my doctor had seen was gone, it had healed up. Otherwise, I haven’t had any problems with it. I do get little stars around small bright lights at night sometimes, I notice that that is also worse when my eyes are dry or I’m tired, that’s the only thing about it that bugs me sometimes. And, I’ve had to invest in protective goggles for doing outside work/working with power tools which I never did when I had glasses.

        1. I AM ME*

          Re: the sleeping pill – I had mine at 8:30 in the morning, and when I left they gave me 3 ambien and told me to sleep until the next day. They also gave me 3 Xanax before the procedure. I had PRK a year ago.

        2. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I didn’t want to share the armpit hair thing, but glad to know I wasn’t alone on that.

    7. Kyrielle*

      If you decide not to do the surgery, or to delay, the swimming thing can be solved: http://www.swimoutlet.com/prescription-swim-goggles-c9623/

      I spoke with my eye doctor (because I have astigmatism) to figure out the best approximation – then got the nearest set of goggles I could. They easily work well enough for swimming for me, though I wouldn’t try to operate a computer with them on, and they cost less than $20 with shipping.

    8. StudentA*

      I’d love to stop wearing glasses and contacts, but after reading about the risks involved with eye laser surgery, I am way too chicken. I know the risk is small, but I know me…I wouldn’t be able to handle painful eyes and some of the other issues I’ve read about.

      1. Melissa*

        Yeah, I’m too chicken too. The recovery sounds unpleasant. Plus, I really like the way I look with my glasses.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          It wasn’t that bad for me. I let myself spend the weekend lazing around and binge watching TV. Within 24 hours of the procedure, it was almost like I hadn’t had it done. Sure there were drops and stuff, but they didn’t hurt. I wore glasses for 25 years before I had it done and one of the weirdest things was that the morning after, I didn’t wake up and reach for my glasses like I usually did. Except for a few times when I would make that motion to push them back up my nose, remember I didn’t have glasses any more and stop, I haven’t missed wearing them at all. I’m not saying it’s for everyone and YMMV, there’s no way to know how you’re going to respond but if you’re remotely curious, do some research, find a reputable place and book an appointment for a free consultation — get the facts. One of the places I went to they did a seminar where you got to see a procedure being done. The woman came out, spoke a bit, disappeared and then all of a sudden without any warning (and there really should have been some warning), there was a giant eyeball on the screen. Squeamish as I am, even that didn’t put me off and I have a big time phobia about things going in/near my eyes.

    9. Soupspoon McGee*

      I had it done about six years ago, and I don’t regret it. I did have dry eyes for about six months, but daily lubricating eye drops did the trick. I also realized that my eyes had been constantly irritated by contacts and the preservatives in my lens solution–I never knew how irritated they were until they stopped after the Lasik.

      My eyes are still dry sometimes, but again, daily drops do the trick. It’s worse in dry, cold weather. I found taking omega-3 fatty acids helps quite a bit (my eye doctor concurred suggested it).

    10. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Random Lasik-related observation: Cutting onions never used to bother me. Since getting Lasik, cutting onions really irritates my eyes. My theory is that my contacts were acting as a sort of protective layer over my eyes, preventing the onion fumes from irritating them. Anyone else notice this post-Lasik?

      1. Stephanie*

        The contacts do act as a barrier. I always ask someone with contacts to chop onions for me (I wear glasses only) or just suffer if no one around has contacts.

      2. Come On Eileen*

        I haven’t had LASIK, but I wear both contacts and glasses. I can chop onions in contacts just fine, but I’m a weepy mess when I wear my glasses.

      3. Revanche*

        Not post LASIK but my husband is my sous chef and he can do the onions with contacts in but less efficiently with glasses on. Contacts do protect the eyes!

        I just run away from the cutting board every few seconds to air out my stinging eyes. I need onion cutting goggles!

        1. Loose Seal*

          I keep a small fan in the kitchen and when I cut onions, I point it so that the breeze is blowing across the cutting board. It really helps.

      4. Beezus*

        I haven’t had LASIK, but I do an annual salsa-making thing with some of my girlfriends, and I always chop the onions (loooooads of them) because I am the only one who wear contacts and it doesn’t bother me at all.

    11. ZSD*

      According to this month’s BHG, people with dry eyes should consider getting something called PRK instead of Lasik. You could look into that!

    12. I AM ME*

      I had laser surgery in January 2014. I had PRK rather than Lasik because of the anatomy of my eyes; I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Yes, your eyes will be dry after but they should give you prescription drops to help with that. My surgeon also put me on a high dose vitamin regimen which she said they’d definitely noticed improved the healing and dry eyes of their patients. One of the evaluation criteria for me to have the surgery was the dryness of my eyes and how closely I followed their instructions pre-op (in fact, I got in very quickly because they cancelled a guy’s surgery because he couldn’t get his eye moisture up sufficiently.)
      Anyway, fish oil/flaxseed oil, vit c, and double up on the multis. I can’t remember the dosages but could probably dig it out if you’re interested, but doing this for the 30 days prior to the surgery (and you can’t wear your contacts for 30 days prior to the surgery, btw) it really helps with the dry eyes. Also if you get some of the single vial OTC eye drops and put them in the fridge, you’ll just be addicted to eye drops after that.

    13. Viktoria*

      I had LASIK 3 years ago and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I have experienced no serious side effects, although that differs from person to person. My night vision is not great but it was also pretty bad with glasses, and I was at the point where I could no longer comfortably wear contacts due to irritation.

      My number 1 recommendation is to go to a really well-respected surgeon, and one you feel comfortable with. I started to get cold feet before the procedure and, on the advice of a doctor relative, asked about their rate of serious/long-term complications. (Excluding things like dry eyes and poor night vision which are considered normal side effects). They told me the rate was 0 patients- in over a decade. My surgeon also conducts laser eye surgery for US Air Force pilots. That all made me feel infinitely more confident.

  6. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Woke up this morning to frozen pipes. Delightful. We’ve been trying to thaw the crawl space all day, to no avail, and finally called the city. They’ve been incredibly busy all day with hundreds of homes dealing with frozen pipes, and they’re 99% sure it’s in the mains somewhere, but had nothing to tell us other than 1) they’ll stop by in the next couple of hours to touch base, 2) if we want we can get a local guy who specializes in thawing pipes, but 3) his list is so long he won’t get to us until Wednesday or Thursday.

    I am exceedingly disgruntled at this turn of events.

    1. Lizh*

      Man, that stinks. Good luck with getting them thawed. My only suggestions, fwiw, is to keep cabinet doors open, maybe try space heaters, etc. I am sure you have already tried all this, so good luck.

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Yeah, we’ve had the space heaters going, but the frozen pipe isn’t one of our house pipes, it’s somewhere on the outside of the house or a city pipe in there somewhere. We’ve done the drill of shutting off the water, opening the taps, and all the rest, and nothing. Next step is waiting for the city guy to come tell us more information. Worst.

        1. DCSarah*

          Oh no! This is my worst fear. I live in an apartment building, so it’s highly unlikely, but I worry it about it whenever it gets cold. Do you have a gym to shower at?

    2. danr*

      Don’t try to thaw the pipes with open flames. There have been several fires in my area due to homeowners trying to thaw pipes this way. Be sure to open a faucet a bit on the frozen lines, one cold and one hot. That way water can start flowing as soon as it starts melting.
      For the future, keep a faucet on a fast drip or slow stream at night, again, one cold, one hot. Good luck.

      1. Artemesia*

        Also time to heat wrap any pipes you have access to when this is over. e.g. pipes in a crawl space, or in an attic or other unheated area. The intakes near our hot water tank in Nashville froze as it was in an unheated room above the garage. Heat tapes which we switched on every fall, kept it from never happening again. Climate is changing and thinks that ‘never happened’ are now happening — so many homes were not designed to prevent frozen pipes in areas where this ‘never happens’ but now does.

    3. NBF*

      My city is also having trouble with some of the main city lines freezing and starting asking all houses to leave one faucet running a small stream at all times to keep the water moving. They plan to adjust the water bills based on last year’s water use.

    4. C Average*

      Add my voice to the “that stinks” chorus. Good luck–I hope the city is giving you a worst-case scenario and you get this resolved sooner than midweek.

  7. Carrie in Scotland*

    So…..I am looking to sell my flat in the summer and most of my furniture is “normal” e.g chest of drawers, TV unit, things where stuff can be hidden. However, I have a lovely clothing rail for my wardrobe and I’m just wondering if anyone has any idea on how to “style” it for viewings so people don’t see my clothes (and accessories which I guess I’ll have to hide somewhere!) just hanging there in front of them. I’ll post the link to the actual clothing rail separately so you get an idea of what it looks like.

    1. Trixie*

      Myself, I’d store/hide as much clothing/accessories as you can and maybe on a regular basis so its habit. (Under the bed storage, etc.) You could leave a few items on the clothing rail to help set the scene but not overwhelm the eye with clutter. If it has any shelves on top or bottom, maybe even place some attractive (hat) boxes to show storage options.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Thanks! I was maybe thinking of buying a curtain thing and draping it at the front to hide the clothes but this sounds much better. (am taking the rail with me when I move – I love it)

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        I think Trixie’s suggestion would really well for a sophisticated styled look. If you find you still really need the storage on the rail, I would experiment with some clip-on curtain rings and fabric. Perhaps a gauzy, sheer fabric would be easier to manage than a thicker, opaque fabric that might look more ad hoc if it’s not precisely tailored?

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Or what about getting a few matching garment bags to hide the individual pieces of clothing, along with storage boxes? You can also use them to protect your clothing in the upcoming move.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, I was thinking garment bags, and some storage boxes. Not the clear kind, because that would be the same as leaving everything loose on the shelves.

            1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

              Yes — I was thinking unbleached muslin garment bags like they use for preservation, and then as Trixie says, hat boxes or plain fabric boxes. I don’t know what the equivalent would be in Scotland, but similar to what you can get at the Container Store.

      3. saro*

        I really like Trixie’s suggestion. I’ve actually seen similar clothing rails on pinterest. Maybe you could look there and see how it’s styled.

    2. YWD*

      Is this the only storage you have for hanging clothes? To me it would be an indication that there potentially isn’t enough closet space. If I had one in my current house I’d hide it during the sales process.

      Housing markets and storage expectations vary of course and a standalone clothing rail could be standard in your area (I’m in an area where it’s not). If so it’s quite nice and I’d leave it out and follow some of the suggestions others have made.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I have a chest of drawers as well. The room is a decent size and has some recesses, so space shouldn’t be an issue. I used to have a wardrobe but it got mouldy, hence the rail :)

    3. Artemesia*

      I would stow about 80 percent of your stuff but leave a minimalist wardrobe to both show off the practicality of the hardware and to also give the illusion of space. An empty closet doesn’t look as spacious as a closet that appears to be in use but has lots of empty space.

    4. Not telling*

      Beyond just the clothing rail you probably want to store many of your items–it’s called ‘staging’ in the US. Many people actually rent off-site storage units to store the bulk of their items. It’s not a matter of theft during viewings but about removing the personal items that make it difficult for would-be buyers to ‘see’ themselves living in the space.

      The picture you linked actually has some visual ‘instruction’ about how to ‘stage’ the piece. Select some clothing of the same color. Not a lot–maybe three or four black pieces. A neutral shade like black or white or grey would work, or pick shades of a color that is complimented elsewhere in the room. Then add a few *carefully selected* accessories–one or two pairs of shoes, in colors that compliment the clothing, and a handbag.

  8. Jessica*

    My poor kitty has been coughing for months. First the vet thought it was hairballs, so we tried a course of hairball medication. That didn’t stop the coughing and the x-rays didn’t show anything wrong with his lungs. However, he’s a little husky so the x-rays weren’t as clear as the vet wanted, so the vet wanted me to switch him over to canned food to help with the weight-loss and the hairballs. Basically, I was supposed to wait it out because she still thought it was hairballs.

    Kitty continued to cough and started breathing through his mouth and panting when we play – very scary. I took him back to vet and now he’s on a course of steroids. Which cleared up his coughing! But not his open mouth breathing or panting. Because the vet can’t hear a heart murmur, she thinks that he probably has asthma. I have an appointment to go over all the different treatment options in two weeks, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear about anyone’s experiences taking care of an asthmatic kitty. From what I’ve read, they can have a good quality life for a long time, which is great news. Can you lay out your cat’s symptoms and how you manage the disease and generally how much treatment costs?

    This has been exhausting. I hate that we both can’t get a good night’s sleep because of the coughing and sneezing, and I hate that I can’t play with him because he starts panting immediately. I haven’t even had him for a year! I only adopted him last May. And for the past week, he has had diarrhea, probably because he is eating a lot more canned food because the steroids make him so hungry. I’m working with my vet to clear this all up, but it seems like the problems never end!

    1. Brian_A*

      No advice, but I’m sorry to hear what you and your kitty are going through! I love my cats, and get so concerned at the first hint of a problem… I hope the issue gets cleared up quickly!

    2. Trixie*

      While asthma makes sense, I’m wondering if he has any food allergies. Have you switched up his food (other than dry to wet) to see if that makes a difference? I noticed certain brand made my kitties scratch more often.

      1. abby*

        Yes, I agree, see my longer post below!

        My cat had asthma (and a lot of other problems) that went away with a food change. Cat food ingredients are all over the place and some are just downright unhealthy and not appropriate for cats. Try a different canned brand.

        1. GOG11*


          My cat doesn’t have asthma but he gets ear infections when he’s on a food that doesn’t work for him. I have asthma myself and allergies can definitely play a part and exacerbate symptoms (both cause inflammation and affect breathing, so the same system could be under stress from two directions). I’m sorry your kitty has been sick. I hope you find a good mix of methods soon.

          1. Jessica*

            Ear infections must to awful to deal with. Poor kitty. I didn’t think of allergies and asthma as being connected, but that makes sense. Thank you!

      2. Jessica*

        I haven’t but I will now. Thank you for the suggestion. I’ll try the LID Abby recommended below and see if that helps. I thought it was just the switch to an all wet diet because he’s had this canned food before with no problems, just not so much of it.

    3. AnotherAnon*

      My kitty has some of the same issues – frequent hairballs and he’s been treated with daily steroids (prednisolone) for 6 months now. In his case, he’s not asthmatic, coughing, or panting (except when he’s jumping around playing – he’s 10, and his age is catching up to him!), but he has what we think are food allergies (something like a feline version of Crohn’s/ulcerative colitis).

      Basically what happened with him is about 18 months ago, he started overgrooming, hence the hairballs. It got so bad that he was creating open sores on his skin, and he would keep grooming over them so they couldn’t heal. We tried several diet changes (hypoallergenic foods/hydrolyzed protein), a short course of antibiotics (which gave him diarrhea), cyclosporine (an immune modulating drug), and once he lost enough weight (since he was also about 2 lbs overweight, and overweight cats on steroids can develop diabetes), corticosteroid shots. For the first 10 months or so, nothing worked, and he was living in a floppy collar that he would chew up to prevent him from grooming himself. We did find a food that agreed with his system – Natural Balance limited ingredient dry and wet food – so his digestive issues seemed to be resolved on that. (But since that’s all he’s allowed to eat – no treats, no other foods – and being on steroids that increase his appetite, he’s always roaming the house now to try to eat any human food that’s left out!) So about 6 months ago, we started him on daily prednisolone, which is made up in a liquid solution. I have to chase and corral him every night and squirt 1 mL in his mouth using a syringe, which both of us hate doing. But his excess grooming and vomiting have for the most part stopped. Unfortunately attempts to reduce his dose of pred, using schedules outlined by my vet, have failed.

      I’m really sorry that you’re going through health issues with your kitty! If he keeps having diarrhea, you might look into tweaking his diet. One thing my vet suggested when my kitty was having diarrhea was to feed him canned pumpkin to bulk up his stool; unfortunately my kitty turned up his nose at it and wouldn’t take a single bite. Also if you’re still trying to rule out hairballs, you could use a Furminator brush (which removes a ton of hair) and/or try putting your kitty in a floppy collar for a few days (to prevent him from grooming himself) and see if he’s still having hairball issues. You can also feed him petroleum jelly (aka vaseline, if he’ll eat it); they also make flavored petroleum jelly for cats (unfortunately my kitty turned up his nose at all kinds of vaseline).

      1. abby*

        Have you tried Nature’s Variety Instinct LID diets? My cat had intestinal issues with Natural Balance due to the inclusion of carrageenan in the canned food. The Instinct LID foods cleared things right up.

        Also, to bulk his stool, have you tried plain pysllium? It’s a soluble fiber that has the effect of regulating things in the intestinal system. It is flavorless and it works well if you mix a tiny bit (like 1/16 to 1/8 tsp) with lots of water, then stirring it into canned food. My cat never rejected food with psyllium, but he would not touch pumpkin.

        One other things that worked wonders for my cat with intestinal issues is a daily probiotic. Even though he’s doing great now, I will not stop the probiotic.

        1. Anonyby*

          My cat doesn’t have asthma, but I had switched her from Taste of the Wild to Wellness to try to get away from the generic fish found in TofW (this was after another cat developed bladder stones on it, sadly he’s passed away from something unrelated). Well, she would throw up a lot more on Wellness. Maybe once every week or two, but that was still far too often for my comfort. I went in to my pet food store and one of the clerks recommended the Pride sub-brand from Instinct as her touchy-stomach cat was on it. It’s only been about a week, but so far she’s loving the lamb flavor and hasn’t thrown up! Knock on wood that this continues! :D

          When you mentioned carrageenan, I went to look at the ingredients lists from what I’ve given her. Taste of the Wild (of which she would only do the eating-too-fast throw ups) and the Pride by Instinct are both carrageenan-free, while Wellness has it in every flavor I checked. There’s so many ingredients in all of them that there’s no way to be sure that the carrageenan is at fault, but it’s certainly suspicious!

          1. abby*

            Our cats were eating Wellness grain-free canned for most meals for almost nine months when the male’s general problems got worse and he started vomiting after every meal. I started keeping the empty cans and noticed a pattern with the vomit incidents. Once I stopped foods with carrageenan and/or xantham gum, he stopped vomiting. I don’t know for sure those are the culprit, but the relationship is strong.

            You might also want to try the rabbit. Both of my cats love, love, love Instinct rabbit. And our new vet told us that kitties with sensitive stomach do well on rabbit, as it’s lean and pretty bland.

            My male is eating mostly commercial raw now, but I add some Instinct canned to his meals because he likes it.

      2. HR Generalist*

        Our cats were on Natural Balance for awhile and one of ours was going through treatment for a number of issues. Since he is a little piglet, our vet recommended buying the canned variation of the NB Dry food (we were using duck and green pea) and then we were just putting his pill in the pate or mixing the liquid into his food. He didn’t seem to notice and it saved us the stress of shooting it into his mouth, lol.
        We had to reduce his dry food a bit to offset the extra calories but he begged for food less because he thought he was getting an extra meal!

      3. Jessica*

        Thanks, AnotherAnon. I’m sorry to hear about your kitty’s troubles! It’s always to hard to see them suffer, especially when they hate the medicine that’s supposed to help them.

        For the diarrhea, I started giving him half kibble and half wet food again and plan to slowly work our way up to an all wet food diet. He’s had this try of canned food before with no problem, so I think it was just the sudden switch to all wet that upset his stomach. If introducing kibble again doesn’t help, I’ll definitely start tweaking his canned food choices. I might switch him over to something healthier anyways. Thank you for the suggestion about the pumpkin!

        I’ve tried about two weeks of a very high dose of Laxatone for what the vet thought was hairballs, and it did help him pass one large one, but he was still coughing. The steroids have helped him so much, so it’s probably not hairballs.

    4. abby*

      I am sorry for both you and your kitty.

      I have a cat who had asthma, and a lot of other problems, all of which disappeared. Through a lot of trial and error, I discovered part of the problem was dry food (dehydrating to him), then an additive in the canned food I had switched him to. The main suspect ingredient is carrageenan, but I now avoid all gums and thickeners with him, and he’s so healthy and happy now.

      For reference, my cat’s problems that went away with a diet change include a couple of severe constipation episodes requiring emergency vet dig-outs, chronic diarrhea, frequent vomiting, hairballs all the time, frequent coughing, crystals in his urine (these appeared when he was eating the canned food). He was so inflamed the emergency vets thought he was in congestive heart failure, and our old vets diagnosed him with hypertrophic cardiac myopathy.

      A little over a year later, and after a thorough work-up with a veterinary cardiologist, no asthma and no heart trouble. No intestinal issues that I can see. He is no longer on any medications and takes two supplements: A daily probiotic and an almost-daily dosing of a blend of psyllium, slippery elm, and marshmallow to also aid digestion.

      My cat was on asthma medication very briefly but it really impacted the quality of his life. He was agitated and upset all the time. It was because of this and all the related inflammatory responses that I thought I needed to figure out the cause and not just treat symptoms. Food seemed the obvious thing to look at. My old vet wasn’t much help (“it’s hard to change a cat’s diet” and they did not think something in his food could make him so sick) and I ended up finding a new vet who practices integrated holistic and traditional veterinary medicine. Best thing I ever did.

      I hope you are able to find a solution. Good luck!

      1. Jessica*

        Thank you, Abby, for the comment and suggestions! I’m sorry your kitty had so many health issues, but I’m happy to hear that he’s doing much better. I will absolutely look at his canned food and see if tweaking his diet will help. It’s amazing that changing his food and giving him supplements resulted in such an improvement! If my vet doesn’t have ideas about treating the cause instead of just the symptoms, I’ll definitely look for a new vet.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      I had a kitty that had progressively worse hairball/vomitting episodes–gradual enough that at first I didn’t do more than change his food. When it got bad enough, the vet found stomach cancer. The tumors were creating pressure on his stomach, limiting what it could hold. That’s a worst-case scenario, and I hope it’s not the case with your baby!

      But if your fella is coughing and sneezing, it may be just allergies and asthma. In that case, you can give him benadryl or similar to get the allergies under control, and that will help with asthma. Dosing is by weight, so find a children’s does and do math to get to your kitty’s weight. If you can give pills, do that, because that pink liquid is a pain to clean out of carpet :-).

      1. Jessica*

        Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. That must have been very hard.

        I’ll run your suggestion by my vet – thank you! I think the sneezing is because of the steroid. It’s already reached its peak and slowed down again – whew! He likes to lay on my pillow at night and sneeze on my face, so I’m looking forward to the end of that, haha.

    6. KD*

      So sorry about your cat! A year ago last October, we came home to our cat wheezing on his side on the floor with blue lips at 11:30 at night. An emergency vet visit and $650 later, we had an asthma diagnosis (and the knowledge that our 4-year-old cat apparently had the lungs of a 13 year old on his x-rays, great). He had always coughed occasionally and we’d thought it was hairballs, but it was never consistent enough for us to think to ask about it. A few weeks earlier he’d clearly been sick, with a runny nose and coughs, but the vet had said it was a virus then.
      After the first course of prednisolone (weaned off in several weeks), he was doing much better. In our case, we’ve found that he seems to have seasonal allergies. He’s much worse in the fall and spring and generally okay in the hottest summer and coldest winter (although in dry winter air, the asthma sometimes acts up). A few things that have helped us: keeping kitty on a strict diet so he’s not overweight, keeping the house and all of his bowls and blankets clean, and better-quality air filters in the air vents (although the air filters can be expensive, they’re better than emergency vet visits!). We keep the steroid pills to give him when he starts to cough occasionally, but don’t have to give them regularly, and fortunately don’t need an inhaler. I know this isn’t the case for all cats with asthma and it sounds like your cat may have some allergies contributing to the problem. It may take some experimentation to see what will manage it best for him so keep looking around at others’ experiences and perhaps speak to another vet if you feel you aren’t getting helpful information from the current vet about managing feline asthma.

      1. Jessica*

        Thank you, KD! Yikes, that must have been scary! I think my little guy and I are really, really lucky he hasn’t yet had an attack despite the daily coughing and now daily open mouth breathing. I’ve heard about keeping track of when the cat’s asthma seems to act up the most. It started up in August and seemed to get worse when the heat kicked on in my apartment. It’s currently very hot in my apartment (I don’t control the heat because I rent), but I’ve been running humidifiers to keep his sinuses from getting dried out. I didn’t think of an air filter, but if it will help, I’m all for trying it.

    7. Sparrow*

      So sorry to hear about your kitty. Is it possible that dust from the cat litter is causing irritation? Hoping you’re able to get this resolved!

      1. Jessica*

        Thank you! I didn’t think about the dust from the cat litter. I’ll add it to the list of things to look into!

    8. Amber*

      I have a cat who has had asthma since she was about a year old. She’s now 11. At first we did steroid shots (depo-medrol) about every 2-3 months as needed. That worked well for about 5 years, but then she started getting skin reactions to the shots, so we switched to triamcinolone orally (another steroid). We did that for 3 years until she had blood work for a routine dental cleaning and they found her blood sugar was starting to get high. Over the long term, systemic steroids can cause diabetes in cats. So I finally bit the bullet and switched her to an inhaler. I use the AeroKat (http://www.trudellmed.com/animal-health/aerokat) spacer attached to regular human inhalers (that my vet gives me a script for and I pick up at the regular pharmacy). My cat adjusted to it really well. She gets a regular maintenance inhaler twice a day, and then we have our rescue inhaler for flareups if we need it, but that’s pretty rare. Since we switched to the inhaler, her blood sugar has gone back to normal.

      Dealing with an asthmatic cat does take some extra work and you may have to try a few things to find the right mix of meds, but they can live healthy, happy lives! (I say this as my asthmatic baby is curled up in my arms next to the keyboard purring away :-) Good luck!

    9. Amber*

      My first comment got caught in moderation (probably due to a link), but I realized I didn’t answer your questions in regard to symptoms & cost of treatment.
      To recap, my cat has been asthmatic for 10 years. Started out as you describe – frequent coughing but never produced a hairball. Then she started open mouth breathing from time to time. We took her to the vet, where they diagnosed asthma based on listening to her crackly, wheezing lungs. We currently treat with an inhaler (whole back story is in the original post), which is pricey – about $300 per inhaler, which lasts for about 2 months. But there are a lot of less expensive options you can try first. We only had to switch to the inhaler after 7-8 years of oral and injected steroids started to take their toll on the cat’s blood sugar. Before that, I think a month’s supply of prednisone was around $10-15.

      While on treatment, she rarely coughs. About once a year, she’ll get a flare-up (probably due to allergies) where she coughs, sounds wheezy, vomits more frequently and generally has less energy. A short course of oral steroids usually clears things up and then we’re back to the inhaler.

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        I had an Abyssinian who had asthma. I used the AeroKat attachment on a daily maintenance inhaler for her. I got my inhalers from a pet pharmacy online and they were only about $40 each [not $300! Ouch!!]. I, too, have asthma, so when I had insurance I’d have my doctor write me a prescription to use the maintenance inhaler twice a day (instead of just once) and use one of the daily doses for me, and the other for my cat. Likewise, when I didn’t have insurance, I’d have the vet write the prescription for an extra inhaler or two and share the $40 inhalers with my cat.

        The inhalers are much safer for the cat because then the steroids are localized to the lungs, not systemic throughout the whole body (as with oral steroids).

        My kitty lived with controlled asthma for seven years before heart disease and renal failure got her.

        1. Amber*

          My guess is that it’s been a few years since you bought kitty inhalers. They recently changed all inhalers to remove CFCs and it ended up greatly increasing the price on corticosteroid inhalers (there are only 2 or 3 brand names now, no generics). The albuterol rescue inhalers are still only about $40, but unfortunately that’s not enough for my little love.

      2. Jessica*

        Thank you, Amber. That’s a lot of useful information. I’m glad to hear that your cat has a normal, happy life even with the asthma. That’s my biggest concern – I don’t want him to suffer! My vet has listened to his lungs and taken x-rays and kitty’s lungs look and sound normal. But, this course of steroids really helped him with the coughing. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s not a heart problem.

        He’s about nine years old now. Hopefully oral and injected steroids will work out for him, but it’s good to hear that your cat took to the inhaler and is doing great!

    10. My cat has asthma too*

      He has had asthma for about 18 months now and is currently 8.5 years old. When he was first diagnosed I gave him the steroid pills but was able to transition him to the aerocat inhaler with Flovent. He has gotten to the point where he only needs puffs twice a week so while Flovent is expensive, it lasts for a really long time. Luckily I also have pet insurance so that covers a lot. There is an asthmatic cat on YouTube where the owner shows how you should train your cat with the inhaler. My cat fights to the death if he has to take a pill, but surprisingly doesn’t mind the inhaler. Good luck!

      1. Jessica*

        Thank you! I’ll take a look at that video. He hates to get pills or any medication really via the mouth, but hopefully he won’t fight the inhaler.

  9. The Other Dawn*

    The saga continues with my tenants from Hell. Just filed the Summons and it’s costing me ANOTHER 133.00 to have the papers served. This is after driving to the housing court in my old town, which is an hour from work. We had to be there in person to sign the papers in front of the guy, the guy was a dick, he didn’t even ID us, and it took all of 5 minutes. Next is filing with the court, which is another 175.00 and another trip to the housing court. Then I find out that once we get the judgment to get them out, they can ask for a stay of execution for up to SIX MONTHS!!! WTF?? I sure hope the tenants don’t f*** us like that.

    Anyway….just had to vent.

    1. Anonyby*

      (hugs!) I’m so very sorry. :( I can’t imagine the stress you’re going through. I hope the courts land on your side and get them out of there quickly!

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Kitties are great. Foster kitty is doing great, too. Thanks for asking! She runs when we first approach. I think she’s still not used to all the sights and sounds of a house. But she’s really warmed up to us, although she has the attention span of a gnat. LOL She’s always exploring.

            1. GOG11*

              Yay for the kitty getting more acclimated to living with you :)

              And I’m sorry that you’re dealing with the tenant issues still.

    2. Windchime*

      This sounds so horrible. Am I remembering correctly that these people used to be friends of yours? I don’t know how anyone could treat another person (let alone their landlord!) like this. I hope it’s resolved soon.

        1. the gold digger*

          I don’t even know them and I want to punch them in the nose. (And I have done that before. Twice. Punched people in the nose. It was gratifying, even when I was punched back and got a black eye.)(I haven’t punched anyone in the nose since I was 13, so I really wouldn’t do it. But I want to.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Me too. I’m entertaining a picture in my head of me with the Skates of Death on, throwing their things out the front door and kicking them repeatedly when they try to stop me. And then kicking them out too.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I hope you are able to take these costs and mileage off your taxes.

      Will you get to speak to the judge for this matter?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I believe I can deduct it from my taxes.

        As far as talking to the judge, I’m not sure. To be honest, I can never make it all the way through the eviction booklet because I get so pissed off. But from what I read I think there will be a hearing if they ask for the stay of execution.

    4. acmx*

      What is the reasoning why they would be able to stay another f*cking 6 months? That’s outrageous. Are they paying you anything while they’re being evicted?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Not a f*cking thing. Oh, we keep getting FB messages that a rental assistance check is coming this Friday, oops we had the wrong date it’s being mailed next Friday, we’ll Fed Ex money to you next Monday, yada yada yada.

        According to the eviction booklet, if they’re evicted for nonpayment of rent and it comes time to execute the order, they can ask to stay for up to three months. If we evict for termination of lease, they can ask to stay for up to six months. It would be up to the court to decide. Could go either way. They might have to leave right away, or they might be able to stay for a bit, or the whole time. I’m guessing it depends on how dire their personal circumstances are. I don’t know. We’re evicting for both so all our bases are covered. We don’t want them to pay and then they get to stay, which can happen, so we’re terminating the lease also. No way I want these people staying with all the bullshit they’ve put us through.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        When these laws were written landlords took wildly unfair advantage of tenants. Decades later times have changed, people have changed. The laws need to be revised to fit current circumstances. (yeah. okay.)
        Not saying any of this is fair to Dawn here, but that is why this is happening.

        I am wondering if you can show that it would cause you undo hardship to go another 6 months the judge has wiggle room to release you from that. I don’t believe the law was ever intended to throw landlords into bankruptcy court-so this might be a good talking point for you. I am now a llama, though. (Sorry, your situation is not funny at all. It’s wildly unfair. but the llama thing makes me smile.)

        1. The Other Dawn*

          That’s a good idea. Thank you. I already keep all my monthly bills in a spreadsheet , along with our total income for the month. (Not pretty, by the way.) If it comes to that I could print it out and bring it with me so it’s all there in black and white.

          1. GOG11*

            If the court is seeking a solution that minimizes hardship, it makes sense to make them aware of the impact this is having on you, as well. It sucks that you would have to disclose personal information like this in a situation that you shouldn’t even be in, but maybe it could make a difference.

            1. Not telling*

              Unfortunately the courts take the view that for the tenants, this is about having shelter. For the landlord, it is about income. Shelter is a superior need than money–no one NEEDS to be a landlord but everyone needs shelter.

              There needs to be protections for tenants, so that landlords can’t just evict without some kind of oversight. I don’t know where TOD lives but in my corner of the world, the court fees don’t even represent 10% of one month’s rent on average, so it is hardly in imposition on most landlords.

              The six month extension thing is ridiculous though. I am a law-abiding tenant who pays their rent on time every time and if my LL terminates my lease I only get 30 days notice. Why should someone who hasn’t paid get so much more time? It’s not like they didn’t know this was coming.

              1. The Other Dawn*

                Exactly. They knew a couple months before we notified them that this would happen if they didn’t get their act together.

                In terms of fees, because there are 4 people there, the first notice was 120.00 to serve the papers, 120.00 for the second set, 133.00 to serve the Summons, 175.00 to file the papers with the court, and possibly another fee if we have to file motion because they don’t respond. That’s more than 50% of a month’s rent.

                1. Slippy*

                  In future you could try write into your leasing contracts that all court fees due to evictions for non-payment be added to the renter. Granted it may be trying to get blood from a stone but YMMV. Also I am not a lawyer so check with one first about the specific language.

    5. CAndy*

      Have you thought about using a Letting Agent?

      They do take between 7 and 10% of the rent you get as a fee, but they will guarantee you an income whether your property is empty or full and deal with problems like this all day long. (Some of them even enjoy dealing with crap like that!)

      I reckon even 10% of rental income is well worth it for the peace of mind you’ll get in return.

        1. acmx*

          I use a property management company and it’s 10% of the monthly rent. However, if my house is not rented out, I do not receive any income. It also costs me $100/year for a lease renewal – even though it’s the same tenants. The rent has not increased in the 7 years I’ve had it rented. There’s also, apparently, no late fees. Or on-time is more generous than I would have it (they usually pay by the 10th). Just things to keep in mind if you do go with a management company.

          My company happens to be through a real estate agent/agency but I did find some that looked to just manage properties.

          Good luck! Can’t wait for the day you post that you are free of these free-loaders!

          1. Treena Kravm*

            I think if you wanted to, you could raise the rent or impose late fees. And if you truly can’t with this company, there are many others that would do this.

    6. Mimmy*

      Ugh….sounds like a nightmare and a half! Hope it all resolves quickly and that they don’t try to extend their stay.

  10. TV Shows!*

    So while busy with job searching, I haven’t had much time to watch TV, but now I finally have some free time and less stress! Any newly released TV shows you guys think are worth watching?

    My current favorites include: Hannibal, Revenge, Game of Thrones, BBC’s Sherlock. I’m basically into mysteries, fantasy and sci-fi.

    1. Elkay*

      Grimm’s pretty fun. If you can get hold of The Returned (French drama) that’s brilliant, people coming back from the dead, but not as zombies. The Leftovers was good too, kind of the opposite of The Returned, one third of the world’s population disappears and no-one knows why.

        1. Felicia*

          They’ve already remade it for the US market. I watched like 10 episodes and then lost interest. (if you’re talking about the show Resurrection, which is the US version of the Returned, and starts out quite similarly then deviates).

          Season 2 of Resurrection has just ended. Some people love it,, so you could try it.

      1. IT Squirrel*

        Ooo, The Returned was really good, it was in the UK a year or so ago – I’ve been waiting impatiently for the second series to arrive over here too!

    2. BRR*

      For new TV I love Fresh off the Boat and I also just started Broad City which is amazing. Unfortunately I love the 30 min comedy which is different than your favorites. And I couldn’t recommend TV without mentioning The Good Wife.

      1. Stephanie*

        Broad City is fantastic. They’re such disasters. I do see Abbi’s place like “How does she afford that on a gym cleaner’s salary?”

        I did like on House of Cards how Zoe’s apartment actually was kind of shitty.

    3. Felicia*

      I am super into Marvel’s Agent Carter – kick ass lady solving mysteries and being all secret agent with the mystery and intrigue is right up my ally! And being set in the 1940s not an easy place for such a lady. If you like mystery and spy type shows, and kick ass women, you should give it a try…there’s been 7 (maybe 8) episodes so far. .

      1. the gold digger*

        You might like “Bletchley Circle.” (Or something like that.) It’s about a group of women who worked decoding German transmissions in WWII and are now very bored in their post-war life, where they can’t even tell anyone what they did during the war, so they start tracking a serial killer.

        1. Elkay*

          Yes! I loved The Bletchley Circle, although their interpretation of the official secrets act is a bit loose!

        2. Felicia*

          I think i will absolutely love that! It sounds like Agent Carter, minus the Captain America stuff:) And ever since I watched the Imitation Game I’ve been very interested in Bletchley

      2. Liane*

        Agent Carter, alas, is only a mini-series while Agents of SHIELD is on hiatus. I haven’t heard if ABC will pick it up as a regular series next year, but I hope so. I loved her in both Captain America movies.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      If you have Netflix, watch The Fall. DO IT. The Killing is OK. I cannot recommend The Fall enough, and I’m just mad that I have to wait for my boyfriend before I watch the second series.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        I started locking my doors after watching the first couple of episodes of The Fall, and had to stop watching it at night. (I live in a super safe area, hence the not locking the doors previously…)

        1. Not telling*

          Yeah I made it through the first season but I won’t watch the second. WAY too disturbing for me! I’m still haunted by it—and I finished watching the first season months ago!

    5. Treena Kravm*

      This is old, but Primeval is new-to-Hulu. There’s the original and a spin-off. It’s about a team of people that are charged with managing the effects of “anomalies,” which are rips in time and allow instant time travel. They pop up all over London/Vancouver and inevitably a prehistoric animal gets into the modern world and so on and so forth.

    6. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I have similar viewing patterns and also like Grimm, The Returned, and agree the Americans is fantastic. Are you watching live or streaming? I’m really enjoying 12 Monkeys on Syfy; I’m liking Agent Carter more than I expected (I watch it via Hulu Plus so have no idea what network it is on). Just started Outlander via iTunes which I would categorize as historical time travel and I am relieved they aren’t mucking up the books too much — if you like Game of Thrones, you might like Outlander (everyone is always covered in muck and blood and plotting against each other). And I cannot wait until Orphan Black comes back on — season one and two are available in various streaming places.

      At work they started a wellness challenge that involves 30 active minutes outside for at least five days a week — but the weather has turned us all into Olympic level couch surfers instead.

      1. Felicia*

        In Canada Agent Carter is on CTV which makes it easy to watch online the next day as many Canadians know. In the US think it might be ABC.

        I love Orphan Black! They film a lot of it , the outdoor things anyways, in my old neighbourhood.

      1. BRR*

        Ooh forgot about that. I’m always sad Emmy Rossum has never been nominated for an emmy. I found out she doesn’t use a stylist, she picks all her own red carpet looks.

      2. Felicia*

        I love Shameless! Though the current season is making me so emotional. And that guy playing Mickey is just the most outstanding one on the s how he needs to win something

        1. Stephanie*

          I need to catch up. (Perhaps I’ll do this instead of watching the Oscars.) My mom has hinted at that and gets super involved in the characters, wishing they would stop making the same mistakes.

          Yeah, I’m surprised I’ve come around to Mickey. I wouldn’t have guessed that.

          I read an interview with someone involved in the show (I think a producer) who was saying they wanted to set the show in Chicago to play against type (he said there was pressure to have the setting be somewhere in the Deep South).

    7. Sunflower*

      How to get away with murder is awesome. My friends have raved about the affair on showtime. I’ve been meaning to watch The Knick(has great reviews) but haven’t gotten around to it

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        HTGAWM is a train wreck. I have gone from watching to cringe-watching to hate watching. I probaby would have given up entirely except that I like having context when I read the Go Fug Yourself recaps.

    8. C Average*

      Not released YET, but Netflix is releasing the new season of House of Cards soon and I cannot wait. I have shamelessly binge-watched the other seasons. I find the characters, the shenanigans, and the political setting very compelling.

      1. Stephanie*

        It was accidentally released two weeks early and I got very, very excited. My parents are out of town next weekend and I’m on disabled-sibling watching duty…so that timing works out perfectly.

    9. Liane*

      In addition to Agent Carter, which I mentioned in a reply, we like:

      The Librarians (TNT): a jewel thief, an art historian, a woman math wiz & a military officer protect the world from supernatural threats. This one even had a different kind of Christmas episode, featuring Santa & his mythological predecessors, not all of whom are kid-friendly, with a lot of action.

      The Flash (CW): just getting into this superhero show, introduced to me by College Son during Christmas break. He also recommends The Arrow, which he warns is darker.

      Forever (ABC): A doctor who cannot die is currently working as medical examiner and helping the police solve crimes. There’s always a connection to crimes in earlier times he was involved with, so lots of flashbacks with period details. Of course Jack the Ripper episode. Not quite our usual genre, but Husband, Teen Girl & I had kept the TV on after SHIELD one night, got caught up in Forever & now watch regularly.

      Star Wars Rebels (Disney XD & iTunes): MUCH like the original 3 movies! Some, not all, earlier episodes are more for kids. Was good to start and has only gotten better and more like those classics.
      Geek-parental Guidance: is rated Y-7 (children 7+), but I think some of the later episodes might be questionable for that young. The last released includes scenes very similar to Han being questioned in Empire Strikes Back for example.

      1. De Minimis*

        We went through all of those a few years back, great show!

        I’m into a phase of watching sitcoms that I never watched the first time around, which is most of the ones that have come out in the last decade or so.

    10. Sparrow*

      I like Outlander, which is on Starz. There’s some time to catch up with the first half of the season before it comes back in April.

    11. brightstar*

      So this isn’t a good show per se, but it is a lot of fun and super cheesy. I call it the macaroni and cheese of tv viewing, and that’s Lost Girl. A succubus just finding out who she is, working with a hot werewolf and some mysteries.

      Every woman on that show runs around in 4 inch heels, even when they go battle some fairy creature.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      The UK verson of Broadchurch. First series is on Netflix; new series is almost over in the UK but starts in the US in March. I LOVED IT. Plus, the Tenth Doctor, Rory, and Argus Filch actors are in it!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        How are you liking Broadchurch elizabeth? I loved the 1st and am enjoying the 2nd series but the 2nd has come under much critisim in the UK…finale is tomorrow!

  11. BRR*

    I leave for Costa Rica tomorrow and I’m super excited! I have never been out of the country and just really could use a vacation (who couldn’t right?). I live in the mid-Atlantic so I’m excited to leave the cold and snow. I’m a little worried about the weather but I think it will be ok or just slightly delayed.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      That’s awesome–have fun! Do you have the flight notification apps ready to go? That’s the only thing you can do!

      1. BRR*

        Does checking ever 30 seconds count? I’m all set up though. It should switch to rain tonight and stay rain until it stops so I’m remaining cautiously optimistic. I’m mostly thrilled we waited to go on our honeymoon instead of going right after our wedding in December. I can’t imagine not having the warmth to look forward to.

    2. Mints*

      Yay! I’m sure you have activities planned, but I’m going to plug my favorite food: carne asada (beef), gallo pinto (rice and beans together), plátano frito (fried plantains) & cacao (chocolate drink).
      (Now I’m hungry)
      Have fun!

    3. fposte*

      Oh, have a wonderful time and report back–that’s a place I’d like to go some day. Am I correctly remembering that this is technically a honeymoon, or have I cross-threaded you with somebody else?

      1. BRR*

        You remember correctly, this is our honeymoon :). We figured it was too difficult to squeeze it in during the holidays, we’d appreciate it more after months of cold weather, and as an added bonus not one wedding blog mentions how tired you are after a wedding.

    4. C Average*

      Have fun! I just got back to grey, grey Portland after a few days in sunny, sunny Phoenix, and can attest that a few days in nicer weather feels absolutely life-giving at this time of year.

      1. BRR*

        I believe when I first brought CR up you mentioned it and it has been on my list ever since. I’m so ridiculously excited about everything including drinking plenty of cas.

  12. Anonyby*

    I just wanted to say thank you for everyone who encouraged me last week! Monday just took an attitude of “this is what I’m doing” with my Dad, and got him to authorize a transfer. So now I have a new phone with a plan in my name! I’ve been so excited about it all week. :) Dad was a little bit upset at first, but had a pretty resigned attitude about it and has since warmed back up.

  13. Sunflower*

    Decided to try out a different salon today. Got a hair gloss and am reasonably pleased with the color but noticed there is a giant hair dye stain on the back of my shirt! I’m going to try to get it out but I’ve accidentally stained clothes while dying hair at home and it’s never come out. I called the salon as soon as I noticed and left a message since they were closed.

    Hopefully they will help me out but what is reasonable to expect them to do for me?

    1. some1*

      I’ve been coloring my hair for years and have saved a lot of tops and pillow cases by spot treating with hair spray, letting it dry, and washing. Hot water is best if the garment can take it.

          1. KD*

            Agreed, try something with alcohol! I’ve had luck with bottled hand sanitizer for things like hair dye and pen ink stains.

    2. Rebecca*

      No help to offer, but I was thinking of having highlights done, so I’ll make sure to wear an old T shirt just in case :)

      1. Sunflower*

        My usual hair salon gives me two capes when I do color. One is like a kimono that you put on and then they put the regular cape on the front of you so I guess that’s why I’ve never had the issue before. But yes I would recommend that now that I know!

      2. Alma*

        My hair stylist encouraged me to bring an old t-shirt. Even under the smock and cape, it protects your back and neck. Nothing worse than putting on a blouse and getting residual stains. I also (always) have a large drugstore brand container of wet wipes in my car. As soon as I get out of the salon, I wipe behind my ears, clean my face, and wipe the back of my neck to be sure I’ve gotten all of the goo. I prefer to wait 24 hrs at least to wash my hair after a color, and put an old towel over my pillows to prevent transfer of color.

  14. Katie the Fed*

    Snow on a non-work day just seems like such a waste – but I’m enjoying looking at it. Seems like much more than we were supposed to get.

    Have beef bourguignon in the oven right now and dough for some crusty bread rising :) Looking at real estate listings and flagging some for my realtor. A lovely, cozy kind of day :)

    1. danr*

      But now you can enjoy it without thinking about work. I always feel cheated when it snows after dark. I like watching the flakes come down and the swirls in the wind.

      1. fposte*

        We got a fairly lavish snow here last night with lots of those big swirling flakes, and it was pretty cool to drive (a short drive) home in–it was like driving through stars.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You guys (you’re in DC, right?) are getting slammed. So I’m glad you’re inside and cozy. I love watching snow.

      I had been missing snow, but I got plenty of it this week! We went to NYC last weekend, had a great time despite the cold, drove home on Monday. We were making great time (got to the mixing bowl in less than 4 hours), then it started snowing in Lorton. By the time we got to Richmond, the roads were horrible and getting worse, so I pulled off and got us a hotel room for the night. Once we got the doggy situated, my bf and I had to venture out for dinner because no one would deliver (I felt bad even asking, it was pretty treacherous). We walked to a nearby Subway, and despite the crazy conditions, the snow was so pretty– soft and quiet. Enjoying the snow with a tuna sub and white wine in a La Quinta is much better than fighting it from behind the wheel of a Volkswagen. :)

    3. C Average*

      I will probably get struck by lightning or plagued with locusts for admitting it, but I am so envious of everyone who’s getting snow. I grew up in snow country (northern Idaho) and when you guys talk about big fluffy flakes and the coziness of being inside while it’s snowing outside, it’s like I’m there again.

        1. Liane*

          Funny, a dear friend, who lives in NY & I often joke about him sending us his excess, since Arkansas doesn’t get much. Me & The Teens are native Floridians, so always craving snow. Except when there’s ice invloved…

          Here’s hoping tonight’s in ONLY snow!

      1. Eliza Jane*

        I liked each individual snowfall fairly well while it was happening at first, but I am really ready to go back to a world where I can make a right turn without saying a quick prayer first. The accumulation here in MA is literally killing people, with traffic accidents and the cold weather and buildings collapsing under the weight of the snow and the unrelenting cold that won’t let any of it melt.

        Now every time I see snowflakes, I want to cry, because that’s another inch we need to lose before we can see again.

        94 inches of snow in under 4 weeks. :-/

        1. HR Generalist*

          I’m in northern (relative) Ontario and I’d take the snow over the long stretch of -30 C days we’ve been having. I want to hibernate! I’m getting so sick of winter and one of our vehicles is so unpredictable in these crazy cold stretches.

  15. ThatGirl*

    I’m having trouble with work/life balance. I am literally so exhausted all the time. I know this is the non-work post – and I’m mostly looking to vent about my non-work life. :(

    I work 30 hours a week (.75 time) at a 50 hour a week job. I also teach twice a month on a Saturday and advise quite a few students. That takes up enough of my time. In addition, I always have meetings scheduled on my time off (either on an off day OR hours after I am scheduled to leave).

    I live with my boyfriend, no kids. We adopted a dog maybe 8 months ago. It is “my” dog, and I do about 90% of dog maintenance. Including 60 minutes of daily walks (at least I get my exercise in) and overnight potty shifts (about 1-2 a week occurring either at 3am or 6am).

    My boyfriend is a business owner and regularly discusses his business with me (which I enjoy – I am business minded – but it is another thing to do). I also do about 75% of household stuff and our grocery shopping. To top it off, I am responsible for setting up Sunday social times with his mother.

    I am a path of least resistance person – in both my work life and my personal life. I think this gets me into trouble and leaves me feeling the way I do. I would rather do something myself than listen to someone else bitch about having to do it. I think what makes it the hardest for me is that I feel like there is ALWAYS something else to be done. Even when I am sitting in bed after a long day, I end up thinking of at least one thing that I should “probably do” before I relax. Do other people have a hard time turning their need/desire to do things off?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      In college, some guest presenter did a stress/time management presentation in one of my health classes. She said to create 3 to-do lists, not just keep one running list that never finishes, because it’s demoralizing. Today, This Week, This Month–that way you can track the stuff you should do but isn’t super important to get done today.

      I combine this with a calendar that has a mini to-do list each day. So if something doesn’t get done today, I just look over the next week and pick a light looking day to move it to. This way you can also schedule relax/downtime, so it’s all completing your list, even the fun stuff.

      What I think speaks even more to this method is that I only do this when I’m particularly stressed out, like in the middle of moving. Everyday life, I just keep my running to do list, but this system nips my mounting stress in the bud.

      1. CAndy*

        Love your approach.

        Was in a job a while ago where it felt like I was working two full-time jobs, one out and about during the day and another crazy amount of hours in front of data and all the rest at night.

        Took serious prioritising and organisation (like what you describe there) to get my life back.

        Three lists worked so well for me, I’d pull stuff out of each list as it needed doing and prioritise bits of it in the daily list. Tasks 1-10 or so rated A, must do today… B, would help to do this today… C, can wait if necessary.

        Only thing I’d add is that although everyone I know would have expected me to be using Outlook or something for that it was a paper list that worked best. Found it so much more rewarding to be able to score things off on a piece of paper.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          I used to use a really nice leather Day Timer, but when I got my current job, it required me to keep a calendar in Outlook. Since my husband, work etc. are all electronic, I fiinally moved to Google calendars. But I still prefer the paper one.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          Just realized you probably wanted to know how it was organized inside. I bought the 1 month over two pages + 1 week over two pages sheets, and that worked for me. I used the monthly ones to keep track of things way in the future so I could look weeks ahead, and the weekly ones had enough space for me to have appointments and also my daily to do lists.

      2. StillHealing*

        Treena Kravm, The Three Lists -that sounds like a very good system. I’m going to give that a try. Thanks for posting that.

        ThatGirl, I don’t have any real advice except that as I’ve been healing for PTSD these past 3.5 years, as I was ready (and not yet working) I brought back into my life the things I really *wanted* to do -FIRST! That would be those things that brought me the most enjoyment in life e.g., bird watching, music, singing ,etc. Then, as I’ve transitioned back to working, maintaining a certain amount of energy to do the things I love, is necessary. Anything that is sucking my energy, I drop, change or delegate in non-work life. In both work life and non-work life, I too have often been the one to just do something instead of listening to someone complain about it. I was the one in my marriage and family that arranged and took care of everything. I have worked hard to change that. There are things that your boyfriend should probably be taking care of 100% himself-like the social visit arrangements. There are other things he really should be meeting you half way on. When you you do for others what they should be doing for themselves, it creates an imbalance in the relationship. They may resist the change but it’s an important one.

    2. BRR*

      1) It sounds like you need to set some new expectations with your boyfriend over who needs to do what around the house.

      2) You have to learn that you can just relax. I don’t have techniques of doing it but it’s important. Back in my student musician days it was hard because there were a couple of things that could literally be done infinitely. Once I learned to separate my work and relaxation times I was a lot happier.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Yeah, I agree – when I start to feel like I’m dong the lion’s share of the house stuff I get resentful. So early on, we set up assigned responsibilities:

        – I walk dog in morning
        – He walks after work
        – Take turns or go together for her pre-bed pee break

        – I cook
        – He does the dishes

        – We both avoid vacuuming until I ask him to do it, usually by mentioning that I do all the grocery shopping :)
        – We do our own laundry

        Frankly, he needs a little nudging sometimes, but it generally works. I also tell him periodically that he needs to plan a date for us :) I can get a little bossypants, but they’re not mind readers!

        Maybe it’s time for a talk about division of responsibilities?

        1. BRR*

          In reference to nudging I just ask mine to do certain things. It’s a double edged sword. I think of myself as house manager because I’m super organized and am better at making sure things get done so he gets the benefits but also then gets asked to do things. The key is when I ask I have to make sure it’s balanced because we both hate doing all chores.

      2. ThatGirl*

        I do know I need to learn how to relax. That’s a major challenge for me. And it is compounded by the fact that I usually don’t stop to relax until I’ve gone way beyond what I can normally handle.

        And yes to #1.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I also live with my bf and do a lot of the dog care (he’s our dog, but I’m the early riser who takes the 60-minute walks) and I do the cleaning and household stuff too because, frankly, I’m better at it… but his mother? Why are you setting up anything with your boyfriend’s mother? Why isn’t that his job?

      I think a lot of people jump to, “He needs to contribute more!” and while it sounds like he does, that doesn’t make it an easy or even viable solution– I completely get that. Some households just run better when one person does a little more, but that only works if the person doing more doesn’t resent it. Please hand his mother back to him.

      I used to have a hard time turning my head off, and I honestly can’t tell you what made it stop. Maybe it was getting the dog, actually, and realizing that there will always be hair on the floor. Or that it was ok to let two weeks go by without cleaning the bathroom. But in terms of concrete solutions, can you hire someone to clean the house? That will take care of that burden. Years ago, I hired a cleaner for my studio apartment– I lived alone, and it only took me about an hour to clean the whole place, but dammit, I didn’t want to think about it anymore, so I didn’t. I would recommend starting with things you can change sooner rather than later, otherwise, you’re heading straight for burnout.

      And your puppy won’t need overnight bathroom breaks after a while, so there is light at the end of the tunnel!

      1. ThatGirl*

        He and his mother are an interesting pair – they can’t communicate to save their lives. So I’ve been the default one who sets up dinner on Sundays with her (where are we going, when). Of course, quite often the two of them then start talking about it on their own and then mess the whole thing up. For example – last week, she and I set a place and time, but she couldn’t remember where and texted him rather than me. Cue mass confusion.

        I’ve really toyed with the idea of bringing in a housekeeper just once a month . . . It would be a huge help.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Can you do something to put Sundays with his mother on autopilot? Such as a rotation – these 4 restaurants, repeat, every week at 6 pm. Or pick the place for next week during this week’s dinner, or even make a list of 5-10 places you all are interested in one Sunday and then have them trust you to pick from the list until its time to make a new one. Anything that requires less back and forth. If I had to coordinate a new plan very week with my parents or inlaws I would probably cry – that is just way too much effort. At a minimum, if I were you, I’d set a default – “OK, Sundays at 5 pm at XYZ, unless you and son set up something else, and then you group text ALL of us with the change”

          1. ThatGirl*

            Now this is a great idea that I hadn’t thought of. We usually go to the same place every Sunday. We could just set a standing time and go with that!

        2. TL -*

          Honestly, I’d just let them figure it out- it’s their relationship. Give your husband a few suggestions, but let them handle it – and if it wastes a lot of your time while they try to figure it out, maybe go every other Sunday to let them have some mother son time.

    4. soitgoes*

      This stuff is always difficult, because it’s not always a matter of splitting the chores that you both want to get done. Usually it’s more like there are things that one person wants to accomplish, while the other person doesn’t care either way. I’m reluctant to suggest that you get on him about doing more household stuff because (and this isn’t necessarily a gender thing) people who aren’t finnicky about cleanliness genuinely do not know how to spot the things that need to be done. You’ll end up doing it anyway, and resenting him on top of that.

      I think your best bet is to curtail the social time with his mother. What are the specifics concerning that? It’s frankly a bit odd that he needs to speak with his mother every week but needs you to arrange it. Tell your boyfriend that you’re sorry, but you’ve been feeling worn down lately and you want to take Sundays as a chill day for yourself. If he wants to see his mother, he can send her a text on his own.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Yes. I am clean and he is not. He is neater than me though. I’ll never forget the day I caught him mopping with (albeit clean) toilet water in the bathroom. Yuck.

        I never think to not go. That is a great idea.

    5. C Average*

      There are a lot of great suggestions here about lists and about clearer and fairer division of labor and about letting your boyfriend deal with his own mother and about hiring a maid service, but I’ve gotta be honest: what helped me better balance my at-home responsibilities with my work responsibilities (and I’m by no means saying I’ve got it all figured out) was to decide to care less about certain stuff.

      It took some time to come to this decision: I married a man with two kids and already had a pretty intense job, and for the first year of our marriage I was determined to have everything right. But the day I let go of that ambition was a good, good day for all of us.

      There are whole weeks where the papers pile up on the counter. There are times when the basket of laundry never gets put away and we just grab stuff out and wear it. There are nights when we have breakfast for dinner. And I am 100%, genuinely OK with all of this. It beats the heck out of feeling miserable and martyred and put-upon, which was my previous existence.

      1. ThatGirl*

        I’ve already started letting go of the more superfluous stuff. But I’ll try letting go of more stuff around the house and see if that helps.

        1. Not telling*

          If you’re bf’s thing is tidying, then capitalize on that–your coffee table and bedroom floors will be neat, and that is often half the time involved in cleaning. There’s plenty of other tidying he can do too–straightening up the linen closet, or pantry or refrigerator, cleaning out the car, organizing the bill-paying and filing, etc.

          Aside from hiring a housekeeper, get yourself a dog trainer! There is no reason why a dog who is nearly a year old can’t wait until morning to go out. Most dogs are housebroken by six months at the latest. It could be that he just needs to restrict water intake before bed, but since it isn’t happening every day it’s more likely a learned behavior. Most animals wake up and prowl in the early morning hours. A trained pet will do this without waking you–they’ll play with their own toys or stare out the window, etc, until they fall back asleep. Probably your dog has just learned that his behavior gets him something he wants, so he keeps doing it. A trainer can help you either way. For reference, many shelters deem 1 y.o. dogs who are not housebroken to be ‘unadoptable’ for the sole reason that it is something that is virtually impossible to train later. Other obedience can be trained later but potty training needs to happen at a certain stage of their development. So for your own sake, call a dog trainer now, or you’ll be doing this the rest of your life!

    6. Revanche*

      All the time. Even with a newborn and being flat on my back exhausted staying alive and keeping hir alive and well and fed, that little voice is constantly musing “if you got up right now, you could get that one other thing done…” (See also: my being on AAM at 5 am instead of sleeping).

      My husband is the same as you in doing things til you’re past the point of tolerance and then is annoyed/burnt out. It drives me bananas because I assume that we choose to do as much as we do and it’s on us to communicate when you feel something MUST be done but you’re overwhelmed and so need a hand. We work on making sure we occasionally check in on the other’s needs out loud now, but also try to help the other person moderate because we are crap at it.

    7. ReadingRachael*

      After fighting more or less this fight with my husband, I finally asked the right questions or something and we came the the realization that his household training (for lack of a better word) wasn’t the same as mine, so he doesn’t necessarily know/see what needs to be done (more or less, his mom gave detailed assignments, my mom said “it’s time to clean the house, everybody works till it’s done). I work two jobs totaling about 55 hours a week, plus commute time, he’s a full time student with a part time job, and neither of us have time to do everything every day. So we made a list together and hung it on the fridge with what needs to happen daily and what needs to happen regularly (with each of those chores assigned a day). The daily list is “dishes clean and put away, laundry folded, counters wiped, declutter living room”. So now, when he has a minute, he looks at the list and sees “ah, today is Tuesday, that’s vacuuming day”, look at the floor, see it’s got stuff on it, and vacuum. Or look at the sink, are there dishes in it? Whichever of us is home first that evening starts dinner. We’ve been doing this about six weeks and it’s going really well and our apartment is so much cleaner and I’m so much calmer.

  16. brightstar*

    I paid my car off yesterday! I’ve been waiting for months and was so excited. Then I walked to my car at lunch and had a flat tire. Cue my having to buy two new tires yesterday. I’d been putting off the purchase so it wasn’t completely unexpected, but I was hoping to have more time. Someone on Facebook said I have one of the most ironic cars, ever.

    I’m still excited I paid off my car loan. That note has been a huge anchor for me. And, had this happened a year or so ago, I would have been screwed. This time I don’t have as much spending money, but am happy I didn’t have to choose between tires and paying bills or tires and eating.

        1. danr*

          Think of the car repair fund as savings too. Then the car will last longer with regular repairs and the savings will really mount up.

          1. brightstar*

            I hadn’t thought of doing a separate car repair fund but that’s a great idea. Thanks for that!

            I will say, my car now rides so much better. My tires had been dry rotting for a while and I hadn’t realized how bad the ride had gotten.

    1. C Average*

      Yay for paying off your car, boo for having to buy tires. Seriously, though, congratulations. Paying off something big feels so, so good, and it’ll be great to have that chunk of your income freed up for other things.

      1. brightstar*

        I’ve been looking forward to it for so long! I’ve already prioritized building up savings with that money over anything else.

    2. ThatGirl*

      I feel your pain! I am two months away from paying mine off and I just had to do $600 in repairs last week (with another $1,000 if I really feel like it!).

      I am looking forward to not having that bill to pay in just 6 weeks though!

    3. RandomName*

      That’s great! In addition to a “car repair fund” as one reader mentioned, you might also consider a “new car savings fund.” Each month put in savings the amount you would have paid toward a car payment so down the road when you want to buy a new car you can purchase it outright instead of financing it. Buying it outright can save you a few thousand dollars in interest.

      1. brightstar*

        That’s something I’d thought about doing. That car note was a real anchor so I’d much prefer paying cash next time.

    4. Not telling*

      This is why I lease my cars. Buying a car doesn’t mean you own it, it just means that at some point your payments go to the repair shop instead of to the bank.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t think that’s really true though. My annual car repair bills are way lower than loan or lease payments would be. (Plus, leasing is usually a worse financial deal than owning if you run all the numbers.)

  17. Treena Kravm*

    Any tips for making all-adult family vacations bearable/actually fun?

    I’m starting to plan out summer travels, and I think that my parents are going to join us on a 5 day trip, and potentially share a car with us during an 8 hour drive. I live 3,000 miles away and let’s just say…that works for us. We talk on the phone all the time and genuinely like/love each other, but our flows are so different in terms of travel, activities, even things like cooking that every time we spend time together, tension is nearly inevitable. I’m admittedly a little jealous of these families that get together each year and have some fantastic trip.

    1. Aussie Teacher*

      Plan your expectations in advance! My husband is such a big fan of this – he says that when you are holidaying together with other adults, you must discuss what a good holiday looks like for you. Do you love to relax and kick back with a book, or do you like to jam your schedule full of things to do & see? If you’re sharing a long car ride, find out their preferences and share yours, and be prepared to compromise (I.e. What sort of music do they listen to? How often do they like to stop for breaks to stretch their legs/bathroom/snacks? Who prefers driving? Does anyone get carsick?). Knowing people’s preferences and deal-breakers up front will make things much smoother, and you can draw up some expectations beforehand (e.g. We will alternate 1 hour of classical music with 1 hour of heavy metal)! Hope that helps :)

      1. Sunflower*

        I would go with something like this. I’d recommend not sharing a car but if you need to, I encourage discussing these things. And plan to spend some time apart. I think all family vacations are best when each person has some time to do their own thing.

      2. Treena Kravm*

        I think this is what I need to do to the extreme–thanks! I did a roadtrip with my Mom 5 years ago and I remember actually doing this, but by the end I couldn’t get away from her fast enough. But that was 8 solid days of togetherness, so hopefully it’ll be easier now!

      3. Elsajeni*

        Yes, and also set expectations in advance about how much time you’re going to spend together! My husband and I went to New York with my parents in January — it worked out well, but only because we discussed in advance “Okay, we are doing these three planned activities as a group and we’ll plan to have dinner as a group every night, and other than that we will mostly be going around as two separate couples.” That left us room to add more group activities if we wanted to, without boxing us into spending a ton of time together and driving each other up the wall.

      4. Not telling*

        I haven’t done it myself but a girlfriend of mine works out the adult-family vacations by assigning everyone one day on the trip. One person is responsible for planning everything for a particular day from the morning they wake up until the following morning–transportation, meals, hotels, parking, entertainment, everything. That way no one individual has the burden of all the planning, and everyone gets time to just go a long for the ride. And because everyone has had to do some planning, it seems like they all appreciate just how hard it is to make everyone happy and so they are a bit more tolerant if the plans aren’t exactly what they’d prefer.

        Another thing to consider (in addition to the above or completely separate) is to plan for ‘free time’–away from each other! Maybe one person is sick of art museums and another is just DYING to go see a particular exhibit. One person wants to hang out at the hotel pool and another just wants to wander around town alone. I’ve used this strategy a few times and the funny thing is that half the time, we end up doing something together. But the idea that we can decline without hurting someone’s feelings makes the time much more enjoyable.

    2. BRR*

      Can you do some things apart? Like Mon/Wed you will do something with them and Tues/Thurs they are on their own or you drop them off somewhere?

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Oh God yes, thankfully. The trip is to go to a festival, so it’s a trip that we truly are planning on going independently of each other, but if we both happen to be going, it just makes sense to drive down and hang out a big during the trip. We won’t need the car to do anything once we’re there, so that won’t be an issue.

    3. ZSD*

      Be sure to plan in time for people to do things individually (or just as couples). I took an adult family vacation last spring, and when I had had it up to HERE with my parents, I went and took a hike by myself. Being able to do that really helped.
      As for the 8-hour drive…yikes. I don’t know what to tell you on that one.

      1. the gold digger*

        Yeah, it’s great when your brother in law rents the van so all of you can fit, but not so great when he refuses to let anyone else drive (not that they could, because they are not on the contract), especially if Anyone Else happens to be the other man when both Brother in Law and Other Man (aka my husband) are Type A control freaks who hate it when they are (literally) not in the driver’s seat.

        And then there are the people who really like to talk.

        And the ones who really like quiet.

        Separate cars might be a good idea. More expensive, but just what is your mental health worth?

    4. LizB*

      My family takes a trip every year that involves an 8-hour drive and five days in a small town. Here’s my advice:

      – Do not share a car on the drive if there is any possible way to avoid it. 8 hours in a car is difficult no matter who you’re with (even in our best years it’s just a neutral experience, not a positive one), and doing it with people with really different priorities can be terrible. If your travel priorities are really that different from your parents’, avoid sharing a car with them at all costs.

      – Set the expectation before you even leave that there will be some things you’ll do together and some times where everyone will go their separate ways. For my family, we have one or two scheduled events every day and meet up for dinner every night. Outside of those set meet-up times, there is no expectation that we’ll be together during the rest of the vacation. I usually join my parents for breakfast most mornings, hang out with my siblings a little every day, and spend a lot of time exploring on my own. We all have different interests, so if the vacation is going to be relaxing and fun for all of us, it’s understood that we won’t be together 24/7, and nobody has a problem with that.

      – The ability to travel independently is important. Our vacation is in a small town where you can easily walk anywhere you’d want to go, so we don’t have to worry about transportation, but if you’re going to a bigger city, look into either public transit options or having multiple vehicles. (Another reason not to drive with your parents!) This lets your daily plans be much more flexible, because if someone doesn’t want to continue an activity, they can easily leave and do something else; if someone really wants to go see something that nobody else is interested in, they can strike out on their own.

      – In my family, each individual has one night where they get to pick where we eat for dinner. If my brother picks Mexican on his night and I want to eat sushi, tough — I’ll just have to pick sushi on my night. No arguing allowed. (Persuading, sure, but at the end of the day, the dinner-picker’s decision stands.)

      Good luck with your trip!

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I don’t think I can avoid the car-sharing, as we won’t have a car, and were planning on taking a 12 hour train. And it would just be too awkward/insulting to say, no, we’d rather pay money to be on the train than drive with you on the same day for less time.

        Luckily, once we’re there, we have friends to see, and other things to do, so it’ll be pretty easy to say, Oh no, we’re going to do this instead. I imagine going to a museum and a few meals together. Maybe my mom and I off doing girl things while my husband and dad hanging out for a bit, but other than that, I’m not too worried about them getting offended we don’t want to spend every second with them.

        1. LizB*

          In that case, I think you should have a talk about expectations for the car ride well before your leave. What time do you want to get there, and when should you therefore leave? What route will you take (if there’s more than one possible route)? How often are you going to stop for bathroom breaks, snacks, etc.? Is there a particular place where you should stop for lunch? Who controls the music? (In my family, we stock the car with as wide a variety of CDs as possible, and whoever’s driving gets to pick what we listen to.) Nobody enjoys being in an enclosed, fairly boring space with other people for 8 hours straight, so it’s important to talk about the ways you can help it be bearable for everyone.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            You can also get books on CD — either purchase or from the library. Or download podcasts like Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! If the car is pretty recent, it may have an audio input so with a cable that costs less than $10, you can hook up an iPod/Pad and have more options than with CDs.

            And I agree about the breaks/stops. If you can do some research for good places to stop, that might help.

          2. Not telling*

            Yikes, that’s a lot of detail! How often to stop for bathroom breaks? Surely the answer is as often as people need to! I mean it’s an 8-hr drive but is a 10-minute pit stop really going to hurt the schedule that much??

            I’ve been on several road trips and each time we pretty much just piled in the car at the agreed upon time….and it all worked out. OK once we somehow ended up in West Virginia because that’s where GPS took us. It was just another conversation point, not something to be debated or stress about!

            Sometimes over planning is just a term for ‘going looking for problems’.

      2. Artemesia*

        What we did with adult family vacations is rent a place and cook in most of the time. Pairs would be responsible for particular dinners e.g. me and my son in law, or my son and daughter, or my husband and daughter etc etc. This way people got to have some one on one time with people they don’t see often enough and everyone in our family enjoys cooking together.

        We also set the expectation that we would split up in sub groups and not do everything together.

        I agree with the OP’s husband here about setting expectations ahead. If we didn’t do that with my mom and dad when they were alive, they would expect every second of our time and resent it if we visited local friends etc. By letting them know ahead of time that we planned to do XY and Z while in town they already expected this. (and I will admit that more than once we flew into the city 3 or 4 days before we told them we would arrive and spent time with friends first.)

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My whole family went to a dude ranch in Arizona last year for my mom’s birthday. It was awesome, and we all agreed that one thing that really made it great was that she ensured that we all had our own little cottages rather than all staying together. We could hang out together when we wanted but had our own private space to retreat back to. It worked really, really well. I know that’s not possible with every vacation, but I highly recommend it.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        That sounds lovely! Luckily, my parents think the people at our hotel are “too rude,” so they’ll be at a completely different hotel.

        But this reminds me of another future trip. I’m hoping to take my parents on a trip to a place my Dad has been dreaming of going to his entire life for his 75th birthday gift. I’m definitely going to pay for airfare/transportation, housing etc. but I know my Dad will want to treat for meals and activities. How do you balance parents that want to pay on a trip that you’re trying to treat them to?

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        This is the key to any kind of situation where there will be family together — everyone having their own space. My mother-in-law moved in with us when we bought our house 3 years ago. Our house has a nice walk-out basement with a bedroom, full bath, and kitchenette, and that’s her space. She was very concerned about moving in with us and kept asking me if it would be OK. I finally told her (when we were house hunting) that we would find place where we could all have our own space and have privacy when we wanted it. If it was just her in another bedroom with all of us sharing the same common areas, we would have all wanted to strangle each other in the first month.

        I was happy to have her move in with us. She’s on a fixed income, and for her to get a decent apartment would be at least $1000 per month, and then there’s food, utilities, and all the rest of it. There was no reason for her to spend her money that way when she could move in with us. And it’s great…people think I’m some kind of saint when they find out that my MIL lives with us, but really, she just makes me look good because she really is the sweetest person you’d ever want to meet. Plus she helps out with shuttling my 6 year old to and from daycare/school when I’m travelling or have an early meeting. Both my daughters get to see their grandma every day, and when she wants to watch Game of Thrones or something, she can shoo my little one back upstairs and have some alone time.

      3. Kerry (Like the County In Ireland)*

        Where in Arizona was that? Out in Wickenburg? I’m looking at family friendly vacation things in my area.

      4. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I did a dude ranch in Colorado last spring. It was the awesomest vacation I’ve ever taken. Another woman and I really hit it off as friends and we’re going back this year together. The owners told us that we could save a couple hundred bucks if we shared a cabin, but we both agreed that personal space was an absolute MUST.

        Totally recommend a dude ranch vacation for those who are into outdoors-y things. Also recommend padded biking shorts for said vacation as well.

  18. Sunflower*

    Does anyone have experience cooking with psyllium fiber and/or chia seeds? I’m trying to follow a slightly modified macro diet(40% protein, 35% carbs, 25% fat) and i can’t seem to keep the carbs down. I eat mostly whole grains but I’m just not satisfied unless I increase my carb portion. I’m debating trying fiber supplements to increase my fullness and psyllium fiber looks to be highly recommend(as long as you drink plenty of water with it which I plan to do)

    How about chia seeds? I am seeing a lot about chia gel but i don’t really drink smooties so what else could this be used for?

    1. DCSarah*

      I’ve never found chia seeds to be very satisfying. For me, switching to a lower carb diet took time to get used to. Have you stepped down slowly?

      1. Sunflower*

        It’s hard to say how much I was consuming before because I wasn’t tracking anything. I definitely am eating more veggies but I haven’t cut any specific foods out so it doesn’t necessarily feel like I’m eating a lot less but I probably am.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          From what I experienced it’s not about quantities, It’s about types of ingredients.
          So no, your quantity may not go down but your body is using everything that you eat. I always joke that I might as well duct tape a candy bar to my hips instead of eating it, because that is where it’s going anyway. My body was not going to use that candy bar for anything.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      TMI ALERT! Psyllium fiber makes me SUPER gassy. Like, uncomfortably so. I think that’s a pretty common side effect, so just beware.

      I haven’t eaten chia seeds to much, but I know a lot of people put them in yogurt– kind of a smoothie without being blended.

    3. danr*

      Knowing nothing about the diet… can you use some of your fat allotment for nuts? A few nuts now and then between meals gives me a feeling of fullness.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        One caveat…if you are eating a lot of nuts, take fish oil. You need to balance the Omega 6 fats (nuts) with Omega 3 fats (fish oil). I only add this comment because I am eating low-catb right now and it is super easy to overeat nuts.

    4. nep*

      I put chia seeds in a fruit / raw-oats thing I throw together in the morning. Also include them when I make my own ‘bars’.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would add in a protein drink. Yes, that will increase your protein portion, but it sounds like you are not getting fill enough. Maybe this is my own lens, but if I eat carbs for breakfast they are gone in about an hour or two. I just burn them. If you don’t want to increase your protein that leaves veggies. I know a lot of chewing gets to me, maybe you could juice some veggies just for a change of pace.

      1. Alma*

        Eating your carbs with protein (even a little bit – a piece of string cheese or hard boiled egg) slows the digestion of the carbs, eliminates the “I need more” feeling, and stretches your energy out. Highly recommend it.

    6. Mephyle*

      I like chia pudding: put 3 tablespoons of chia to one cup of milk (dairy or non-dairy) and stir it gently but without stopping for about ten minutes until it starts to thicken. You can stir while you’re reading a book, watching TV or reading the internet, etc. For the first few minutes it seems as if it will never thicken, but then the texture starts to change.
      If you like, add a few drops of vanilla or other flavouring to the milk. And/or half a teaspoon of cinnamon. If you like it a bit sweet, add a spoonful of sugar or any other sweetener. You can eat it right away when it has started to thicken, or if you put it aside it will reach maximum thickness in about half an hour. You can make it one day and keep it in the fridge overnight to eat the next day. It is nice with fruit and/or chopped nuts.
      Be sure to start stirring as soon as you add the chia seeds. If you wait even half a minute, the chia will start to clump and the texture is not as nice.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Sometimes I take a rice cake, give it a layer of SunButter (tastes like peanut butter but made with sunflower seeds) and put a coating of chia seeds on top. Quick and easy lunch or snack.

    7. Lulubell*

      I eat chia seeds in yogurt everyday; they’re also good in oatmeal. They don’t really have much taste – just plump up and take on the taste of whatever you are eating. I’ve read recipes where you mix them with almond milk and vanilla extract to make a chia pudding. I tried that once, but it didn’t gel for me. Tasted good, but the proportions must have been wrong because it was basically sweet milk with chia seeds stuck to the glass. Do a search for “chia” on Pinterest – you’ll find tons of tips and recipes.

  19. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    AAM community, I am begging you. You are my only hope.

    Apparently mosquitos love me, and I have — this is no exaggeration — SIXTEEN BITES just on my feet/ankles. The itching is driving me insane. What can I do?

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Hot water–as hot as you can stand it. Take a hot shower, as hot as you can make it without burning yourself–this tends to sort of overload your nerves for a little bit. I’ve never had any relief from After-Bite or anything, but plain paste-style toothpaste does tend to help a bit. Slapping the bites can give you a little tactile relief without scratching yourself bloody.

      And good luck. It’s awful!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      An antihistamine helps! I take 180 mg of Allegra almost daily for chronic seasonal allergies, and a few years ago it kept me from believing I had bedbugs, because my bites didn’t itch. Same for mosquitos. I don’t know what they sell it under in your part of the world, but the generic (US) name is fexofenadine. Claritin and Zyrtec might help too– basically, OTC allergy meds.

    3. periwinkle*

      Over-the-counter antihistamine, like Benadryl, is the best antidote for me. I attract every biting insect in range, and nothing else has offered as much itch relief as Benadryl. Ah, blissful relief (eventually, anyway, as it will take at least 1/2 hour to take effect).

    4. Lore*

      Toothpaste helps a little, and so does aloe gel, and so does ice, though that doesn’t last very long. Can you get the topical Benadryl lotion or gel where you are? I find the gel is pretty effective though you have to slather it on. Or taking a dose of oral Benadryl or another antihistamine–not as good as the gel but better than nothing.

    5. Lizh*

      Try a baking soda paste. I have heard that is good for a lot of itch related situations. Good luck, sorry you are dealing with this.

    6. Stephanie*

      Mosquitoes love me too. I used to have all these hyperpigmentation scars on my legs from all the mosquito bites I got as a kid. I second Benadryl (if you’re able to deal with the drowsiness) or toothpaste. There are also OTC anti-itch creams.

      We had some bad flooding in Phoenix when we got record rainfall (the soil is basically sand, so it floods during even moderate rainfall). The retention basin down the street was basically full of stagnant water which meant crazy amounts of mosquitoes. I had a similar number of bites after I went biking one day (yeah…the mosquitoes were small enough to bite through active wear). I took Benadryl and used some citronella-based anti-itch cream to deal with all my bites.

    7. Newsie*

      What really works? Hydrocortisone cream. If you’re as bad as I am, that’s about the only thing that works. :(

      I will say that a couple years ago, I was in the motherland covered with bites like an experiment. An aunty said, “oh I know just what to do for that!” She ground up some stuff and slapped it on my arm, which I’d scratched raw. It was holy basil and… salt. It did not itch for a good hour. It burned. Which was oddly a relief.

      1. fposte*

        Seriously. I love you guys, my fellow AAM posters, but hot water, toothpaste, baking soda? You must be getting bitten by some other, very genteel and mild-mannered kind of mosquitoes. Hydrocortisone cream is the only thing that keeps me from ripping my own skin off with my fingers. I wish I’d had it as a child instead of that pointless calamine.

        1. Stephanie*

          This is because I didn’t know about this until now. Luckily…there are not really mosquitoes here, but I plan to stock up on this next time I am somewhere that has mosquitoes.

          1. fposte*

            I know–this was the classic example of my doing something the way my parents had done it, and finding out there was something new that actually worked was like I’d come out of Plato’s cave.

            I’m continuing the home organization and weeding plan and I found about a half-dozen tubes of hydrocortisone in the bathroom cabinet, because I’m so afraid of being without it.

            1. Lore*

              Weirdly, the topical Benadryl gel works better than hydrocortisone for me–it acts faster and needs less rubbing in.

              1. fposte*

                OMG, there is topical Benadryl? Out of Plato’s cave I come again. I almost headed straight out to get it and remembered that there aren’t any mosquitoes around right now.

                1. Lore*

                  Yes! There’s a gel and a cream. I find the gel more effective–it’s sort of cooling going on so it starts to feel like it’s doing something even before the antihistamine kicks in.

        2. Not telling*

          Hydrocortisol if you are at home or have access to it. Otherwise, a piece of scotch tape over the bite or rubbing deodorant on it. Either method starves the bite of oxygen and thus stops the itching. I use these methods if I have a bite that is bothering me at work.

          And keep your ankles covered!

    8. abby*

      Take you blowdryer and set it to the hottest setting possible. Then aim it at each bite for as long as you can stand. Stop. Do it again. Stops the itching until the bites heal.

    9. afiendishthingy*

      I am so sorry. As another object of mosquito affection, I think extra strength hydrocortisone cream and oral benedryl have helped me more than anything when I’ve been in this situation, but it’s mostly a wait it out thing.

      Are you positive they’re mosquito bites? Are they on your feet and ankles more than anywhere else? Because that could be flea bites, which in my personal experience stay outrageously itchy for longer than mosquito bites.

    10. Mimmy*

      As one who also seems to attract mosquitos and other biting insects, you have my utmost sympathies!!

      By the way, I’m surprised at the suggestions to use hot water / heat. I always thought that would make bites and reactions worse. I know that’s the advice I’ve gotten when I get my mysterious rashes during the summer.

    11. Not So NewReader*

      You could try some tea tree oil on the bites. This stuff is a little spendy but you can use it on burns also. And you do not need a ton.

      I had a friend who said that vitamin b1 or b2 worked to repeal mosquitoes.

      I bought some bug spray by “Kiss my face” that worked surprisingly well. I think they still make it.

      If I was with a group of people that were eating things with onions or garlic, I would be sure to load up myself. This stuff comes out your pores and helps to deter bites also.

      1. Girasol*

        A doctor doing a scout camp physical on me years ago was appalled at the bug bites. He prescribed B1 too, saying it would keep the mosquitoes from biting. I have to admit, I think I disliked the taste more than they did. As far as itching, I’ll second (or fifth) the benadryl.

    12. Moonpie*

      I paint mine with a dot of clear nail polish. Once it sets, it kills the itch until it peels off, and I just keep reapplying until it’s healed.

    13. Mephyle*

      Heat really works. It dissipates the histamines in tissue under the bite. The effect lasts for several hours.
      Here’s another way to apply heat. Put hot water (or tea or coffee) into a mug, preferably a thick one. Immediately hold the mug against the bite. As the mug heats up from the hot liquid, leave it in place as long as you can stand it without burning yourself.

    14. V. Meadowsweet*

      My Mum swears by hot water (as hot as you can stand for as long as you can stand it) and/or soaking with Epsom salts in hot water. A hot used tea bag (like just after you’ve finished brewing a cup) on a bite helps too.

      B vitamins seem to make one less attractive to mosquitos (thank heavens!)

    15. Lulubell*

      I don’t know if this will work for mosquito bites, but it’s my go-to for painful pimples, which are similar. Crush up an aspirin (has to be aspirin, can’t be Tylenol or Aleve) and mix with a drop or two of water to make a paste. Apply to the bite. The salicylic acid dries and numbs the pimple, so I imagine it would help with bites. Again, it has to be aspirin which has salicylic acid. Preferably not coated, unless you want dye running down your skin.

    16. Ann Furthermore*

      Spray hairspray on the bites. It keeps the air off them, which is what causes the histamine reaction that makes them itch.

    17. Elizabeth*

      Another vote for heat.

      I take a stainless steel spoon and put the bowl in a dish of the hottest water I can get. Once it is hot to the touch, press it against the bite. It will burn and itch like crazy. Repeat until the itching goes diffuse in a large circle around the bite.

    18. Pennalynn Lott*

      I treat my mosquito bites with ammonia. It neutralizes the itchy toxin that gets deposited when they bite. There’s a product called “After Bite” that is ammonia in a pen-type apparatus, so it’s easy to carry on the go and easy to apply.

    19. Elsajeni*

      I second (or… twelfth?) the recommendation of Benadryl, both oral and topical. And if you have a ton of bites, you might also get some relief from a soak in an oatmeal bath — it’s enough trouble that I don’t think it’s worth it when you only have one or two, but if you’re just losing your mind from itching, it does help. Aveeno makes a good one and it comes pre-divided in single-“serving” paper packets, which is nice.

      1. Kate R. Pillar*

        Late to the party – but I also recommend heat! For our last vacation, we bought a little gadget called “Bite-Away” (yes, the name is not well-chosen if you read it as an exhortation to the mosquitoes)…
        It’s a pen with a small heating pad at the top; runs on batteries. You heat up the tip and put in on the bite for 3-6 seconds. Really helped us.
        It is made by a German company (RIEMSER Pharma GmbH) so I am not sure if it will be available in NZ, but perhaps there’s something similar?

    20. Hlyssande*

      I bought an anti-itching roll on for bug bites from a shop at our local renaissance festival this year and it worked surprisingly well. A few applications through the day and I wasn’t itchy at all, which was great when I got bit on my FACE multiple times.

      The shop is: Opinicus Soaps (www.opinicussoaps.com) and they’re also awesome regarding allergens in all of their stuff.

      In fact, one of their new shop hires is a woman who is literally allergic to just about everything. Including alcohol. And soap. She helps them test new scents and products.

    1. Victoria, Please*

      A schedule that you stick to rigorously which includes plenty of exercise, social interaction, work, and whatever spiritual practice you follow. Especially exercise. Don’t treat it with drink, whatever you do.

      Speaking from experience and all.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      Focus on one thing that it’s affecting. For me, I usually hole up in the house and resent having to go outside. So I force myself to go outside, even around the block or to sit at a cafe. In general, forcing yourself to do something is easier than telling yourself to stop.

      1. Kate the Grate*

        Agree…books, exercise, and avoidance of sugar. Also calling or Skyping with a family member.

    3. C Average*

      Is the problem internal and external?

      If you’re feeling just sort of malcontent and bored despite an abundance of objectively good things in your life, perhaps there’s a diagnosable and treatable problem like depression. If you’re leaning that way, a doctor or psychologist is probably a good place to start.

      If you’re feeling malcontent and bored because your existence is objectively full of things that would inspire boredom and malcontentment in any reasonable person, maybe there are things that need to change (like where you live, what you do for fun, who you hang out with, etc).

      In the past, I’ve had good success dealing with this feeling by taking up something new and somewhat out of character. Sometimes it’s fun to surprise yourself.

    4. ZSD*

      Thanks, all! At your suggestion, I did go to the gym tonight, and even that minimal effort seems to have helped. In the longer run, C Ave, I am trying to change careers and move to a new city, to help with what you’re calling external factors. In the shot run, though, it looks like forcing myself to move my body Is a good approach.

  20. periwinkle*

    Fellow Austenites! For reasons unknown, I started thinking about Jane Bennet. Where did her personality come from? Lizzie has her father’s intelligence and bemused detachment. Kitty and Lydia are clearly like their mother and aunt. Mary is a bit of a puzzle but that humorless and pompous banality must run in the family (Mr. Collins, of course, is her cousin).

    But what of Jane? Where did that naive blandness originate? She doesn’t fit in with her family. Then again, she’s much like Charles Bingley, who is equally naive and bland – and equally distinct from his sisters. Hmm.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      My little sister doesn’t really fit in our family personality-wise. We’re all really loud and argue and scream when we’re mad. She’s really quiet and soft-spoken, and would rather go to the other room and cry than to tell you she’s angry at you.

      Maybe it has to do with being the oldest?

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I wonder if the profile of an oldest sibling would have been different then, though. I’m thinking she’s kind of responsible for getting married first, and doesn’t really care for her siblings the way she would today. Maybe she just became the neutral party that tried to diffuse the tension in the house? Especially since she would benefit the most from reducing the crazy in the house.

    2. OriginalEmma*

      I’ve never thought about that. Hm! But let me venture a guess…I wonder if Jane has always served as either a sounding-board for Lizzie, or a chaperone for the three younger sisters and didn’t have any particular strong personality traits to align her with either her ditzy, embarassing mother or her stolid father. I wonder if she was a gentle soul who just was shuffled along the line as more children joined the household and just never really developed a distinct personality that wasn’t a reflection of someone else.

    3. C Average*

      I have thought about this, too!

      She reminds me a bit of my father, who is neither naive nor bland but sometimes presents that way to people who don’t know him well. I’ve actually asked him about it, and he told me that because he doesn’t like drama, he affects an attitude he calls “willful obliviousness” whenever a hint of drama presents itself. By doing so, he shields himself from the drama. It’s a tactic I find myself using at times, too.

      I could totally see Jane making an intelligent and considered decision to stay out of the fray by playing a little bit dumb. It frankly seems like a good maneuver in the Bennet household!

      1. Observer*

        That could very well be – she’s clearly intelligent. And she definitely does have ideas and opinions. And even though Lizzie laughs at her and sometimes dismisses her, she respects her enough to turn to her.

    4. Swedish Tekanna*

      I think that is probably it – about being like Charles Bingley, I mean. Something of a plot device to show us that she and Mr Bingley are really soul mates. Darcy thinks Jane smiles too much and does not show she likes Bingley in particular. When Bingley is in Hertfordshire he says how pleasant all the girls are, so both of them are apt to see the best in people. Their personalities mean they are manipulated by Mr Darcy and Caroline Bingley which leads to a lot of the further plot. Interestingly, in the first chapter Mr Bennet says all his daughters are silly but Elizabeth is not quite so silly as the others. Admittedly we can’t always take him to literally but it is quite interesting even so.

  21. Regina Phalange*

    Does anyone else out there who is single like me get tired of hearing “oh you’re so lucky you’re single” from married people who two days later are like, “I’m so glad I’m not dating anymore.” My new response to all of this is simply going to be BITE ME.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That’s a damn good response. I used to hate that– it was SO SMUG. I was lucky, though– I got to a point where it finally clicked that most of my married friends who said crap like that were completely miserable and had awful marriages, and I was much happier being single and enjoying my own company. Just out of curiosity, are these particular friends married to guys you can’t stand? Because it was always my girlfriends with jackass husbands who said that kind of crap to me. The ones with healthy marriages and nice husbands were never as fixated on being married vs. being single– so I started hanging out with them more.

      1. Hearts on Fire*

        Excellent observation about the friends w/healthy versus non-healthy marriages, AvonLady. Most of my girlfriends and female co-workers are married and the only people that ever say stuff like that to me are the ones who are married to “man children” (i.e. the ones that don’t help out with the kids/home, who get sloppy drunk every weekend, play video games for several hours a day, and pretty much just take up space). It took me awhile to notice this trend, but once I did, it changed my attitude. Now, when they say stuff like that, I think to myself, “I would rather take care of only myself and NOT some 30-something man child that I have to babysit.”

        1. Treena Kravm*

          Yea, those comments are definitely coming from crappy marriages, so I would keep that in mind whenever you hear it, because… yikes.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        This. It never registered with me if a person was single or married. And it still doesn’t. Where they are at is where they are at. Generally people let you know who the important people are in their lives. I just follow their lead.

      3. Revanche*

        I think you’ve totally hit this one on the head. When I was unmarried/single, the unhappy in their marriages friends were always the ones recruiting to Team Married but then had plenty of complaints about their spouses.
        As a married, life ain’t easy but I love the life we share and don’t need to harp on or advise on someone else’s life as self therapy. Makes no matter to me whether my friends are single/married/with or without kids. I just hope they’re happy.

    2. Stephanie*

      Ha. My joke in response to married girlfriends asking about my dating life is “I’ve decided to become a nun. That resolves both my romantic and professional dilemmas.”

    3. Sunflower*

      yuppp. ‘Oh just wait til you’re married and you’ll be dying to be single’. If it’s any reassurance, I’m convinced that there is a large part of them that actually is jealous of you- they don’t want to get divorced or anything like that but think of all the things you have that they don’t. Your own life and schedule where you only have to do things you want to do, the whole bed to yourself, be by yourself, make major decisions on your own without having to talk to anyone about it, limited compromising. Obviously having someone special would be great but some days I do feel pretty lucky to have my life all to myself.

      1. C Average*

        You’ve summed it up very, very well.

        At the risk of being smug, I’ll say I’m married to the best human being I’ve ever met. (Seriously. I was reluctant to GET married because I was pretty happy alone, but I knew I would never, ever find someone else like him.)

        But boy, oh, boy do I love getting sent on a business trip and getting to starfish all over the king-size bed and watch any channel I want and eat any food I want and make any plans I want. I’m not gonna lie: I miss that stuff a lot.

        I’m very happily married and don’t want to be single, but there are aspects of being single I really, really miss.

        1. Swedish Tekanna*

          Same with me. I genuinely never wanted to get married, even when my friends were pairing off. I don’t going in for all the “Oh, you will meet someone when you least expect it” etc which has appeared elsewhere on this site. But my husband was part of the group friends I went out with after I went to work, left home, etc. I was in London at the time and he moved down from another part of the country after leaving university and I knew him as a friend for ages. We had similar interests and are both introverts. Even when he wanted to get married later on, I didn’t because I enjoyed being single too. But our personality types mean that we understand about needing space, which I think was my main reservation. He is currently on a long weekend staying with his parents and I am also having a blissful weekend on my own. Yesterday I packed a flask of coffee and took a long walk in a local deer park and even caught some winter sunlight. Today I have been sorting out old photos and my books. Actually, at the risk of veering off into work territory, I have made up a bag of old interview and job search advice books which (thanks to Alison) I know are so, so wrong. I am embarking on a new job search and this declutter of old interview books is a great psychological boost. They are off to the paper and book recycling bank tomorrow (I don’t think it is very ethical to pass them on to some poor soul to buy second hand).

          Oh, and in between times, while I am warm and cosy in the flat while the wind and rain are beating down outside, I have been drinking hot chocolate and following AAM.

    4. afiendishthingy*

      Actually my many coupled friends don’t do this, so I’m grateful for that. I do occasionally get “Just wait til you have kids” or “you’re not a parent, you don’t understand” or if I say I don’t want kids, “Oh, but you’ll change your mind.” Could happen – but not everyone does! I love kids, I work with kids, but I’ve spent enough time with them and their parents to be pretty confident I don’t want them.

      so yeah, BITE ME.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        That expression “you’re not a parent- you don’t understand” makes me laugh out loud. Sure there are lots of things about parenting I will never understand. And there are parents out there that don’t understand, either. We see plenty of court cases stemming from their lack of understanding.
        But we all were kids. And we do know something about the kid’s perspective on things. We can chose to remember and use that information … or not.
        When people use that expression to say that childless people do not understand what love is that is when I pretty much give up. No point.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          When I had my daughter I swore I would never tell anyone, “You don’t have kids, you can’t possibly understand.” And I never have. It used to make me roll my eyes hard enough to just about sprain my eye sockets.

          I will admit that I’ve told friends without kids that after you become a parent, you really can tell the difference between the different kinds of cries….the temper-tantrum cry, the being scared cry, the being hurt cry, etc.

          1. Felicia*

            I have heard parents tell me they hate the sort of thing where people say “once you’re a parent you’ll be able to do x” because they heard these thing pre kids and then once they had kids they weren’t able to do x which made them feel like failures. So I would try to avoid such things personally and make it more of an I statement.

            1. Ann Furthermore*

              In the specific case of crying, though, it’s nothing magical that happens when you have a kid that makes you suddenly able to figure out what they mean. It’s just that you naturally start paying attention more than you did before, usually because you’re trying to assess whether the situation needs your immediate attention or not.

              1. Nerd Girl*

                I hated hearing people tell me “when you have kids…” so I, too, have refrained from using it. But the one thing I wish childless people would stop doing immediately is telling me what I’m doing wrong or how when they have kids they’ll never (insert annoying kid behavior here). I don’t need to hear snarky, judgy comments about how their yet to be born kid will never throw a tantrum in a store, make a mess in the car, talk back, etc. If you’ve got all the answers write a damn book and then prepare to have copies of said book thrown at you by parents who know that all of your advice is a bunch of bullshi*t.

                1. Not telling*

                  Why is it that the child free people around you bring up ‘when they have kids’ so often? Is it because the topic of parenting has already been brought up and they are feeling left out?

                  I’m tired of parents treating me like my child free status means that I have nothing going on in my life and thus should just sit there mutely while they wax on about their own lives. It’s soooo rude. And then to get pissed off when I make a comment about the one and only thing they talk about?!? Excuse me but is it not the polite, mature thing that everyone in the group gets to participate in the conversation?

                  Just because a person is child free does not mean they are soulless one-dimensional people who have nothing to talk about and thus should just be listening posts for your parenting dramas. And just because you are a parent doesn’t mean you have nothing else interesting to talk about. So if you don’t like hearing other people’s comments on your parenting skills, then don’t discuss your parenting skills with them. Talk about the weather if you truly can’t think of anything else.

                2. Nerd Girl*

                  Believe it or not, I am capable and willing to talk about things other than my kids. The “advice” I get from the kid-free folk usually comes after they’ve eavesdropped on a personal call taken at lunch or after they’ve asked me about my kids. I have interests that go far beyond my kids and I love discussing those so much more.

                  I do find it interesting though that you are indicating that it’s okay to offer advice or comment when the topic is not about you. Interesting. So when I sit and listen to my single co-worker lament about how there are no good men out there and she’s tired of dating one would assume that I could make a comment about how I am glad to be married and not dealing with that anymore. However, based on the information above this comes off as smug.

                  Guess there’s no winning.

        2. Ruffingit*

          That whole not understanding what love is until you have a kid thing is so insulting. I always think that there are so many ways to experience and understand love in its many forms. Having a kid is one way, but it is not THE way.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, it shows a real lack of comprehension and lack of awareness of others, which is why I usually end the convo.

        3. Revanche*

          Yes! I never understand how people presume to know what other people can or can’t understand. Bit precious and pompous from where I stand and it drives me nuts when my single and/or child free friends catch that nonsense. They’re wonderful people and don’t need to have kids or get married so they don’t live or die alone.

          Are these people not paying attention? You can be the most lonely person in a loveless marriage and have kids who don’t appreciate you and you can also be well loved and appreciated by your circle and chosen family without spouse or kids. It’s similar to the insistence that kids must have siblings. Honestly my life, and my parents’ lives, would have been 100x better if my sibling hadn’t been in the picture. No one could look at him and continue insisting that kids = love!

        4. Elizabeth West*

          It’s also bullshit when you say it to steps. Really? So everything I did for that child didn’t matter? Because it wasn’t my kid, my worrying all day that she would have fun on her first day of kindergarten didn’t count? And I guess it doesn’t matter that even though her father and I haven’t been together for a long time that I still think about her and hope she’s doing well? Screw you with a cactus. That’ll teach you to try and invalidate me.

          Yes, the kindergarten thing really happened. >:P

      2. Hlyssande*

        My gyno gave me the ‘you’ll change your mind’ speech at my last visit. Apparently she was pretty adamant about not having kids before she was married, so of course I’ll do the same thing and change my mind too.

        Problems with this:
        1. It takes two to tango.
        2. I am borderline phobic of the process of being pregnant.
        3. It’s none of her fucking business.

        I haaaate when people give me that line.

  22. Gonna stay anon for this*

    I found out that someone I work with is a registered sex offender. His mugshot and Details are listed on a website. If you google his name the image and website come up. My coworker told me about it. She said she always got a creepy weird vibe from him……but I never did. I don’t dislike him but I respect him as a coworker and someone I (kind of but not really) report to. The weird thing is….I still don’t get any weird vibes from him after knowing about it. The sad thing is, when I found out I felt so sick and hoped that it wasn’t true. I’m not sure who else at work knows buy im pretty sure most people do. I don’t plan on gossiping or going to my mgr about it Bc i feel it’s none of my business

    I’m not sure why I’m even posting it but I just don’t know what to think. I behave normally (as I did before I found out) towards him as I did before. I know it’s the non work open thread but I wasn’t sure if this is considered non work. It can be deleted

    1. Onymouse*

      I think it’s right of you to think of the person as you now know him. Yes, there are some rather vile criminals out there, but there are also people who turned their lives around and don’t deserve to be punished for the rest of their life.

    2. Stephanie*

      Oh wow. I can understand the conflicted feelings between finding out his crime and the person you know. Back in high school, one of the middle school band directors would assist our marching band during marching season (this was in Texas, where we take the halftime show as seriously as the football game). One day, our director is like “Mr. Smith will no longer be assisting us” with no explanation. Turns out, he was arrested for soliciting sex from an officer posing as a male minor in a chat room (remember those from the early 00s?) and sexually explicit images were found on his work computer. It was tough reconciling that (especially after we found his listing on the registry) with the guy we all knew from rehearsal. It was even more disturbing when you connected his work (i.e., a middle school band director) with his crime.

    3. the gold digger*

      Just remember there are men on that list who had sex with their girlfriends – when they were both teenagers. Or who solicited sex from a prostitute. Sex offended does not automatically mean rapist or pedophile.

      1. Gonna stay anon for this*

        That was exactly my thought. But the crime was sexual abuse. So I have no idea. The date was sometime in the 1980s.

        I’m also a little more concerned that I just didn’t get any bad vibes or weird feelings. Is that normal??

        1. nona*

          Yep, that’s normal. Some people who act in a predatory way don’t give off any weird vibe (and some people who creep me right out are harmless, etc.). They might do this on purpose, or they just happen to escape notice somehow. Don’t worry – you couldn’t have known.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Having known a few pedophiles, I can say that some of them are quite likable and do not give off a creepy vibe. [Shudders. Yeah, I know.]

            Likewise with some sex offenders. The guy or woman could have been drunk one night. And that night changed his life.

            It sounds like he plead guilty to an abuse charge. That does not mean that was the original charge. It could have been a plea deal charge. I don’t know enough about the law but I do know in this instance my question would be what does the state call “abuse”. Without getting overloaded with detail here, their definitions do not always match how we use the words in ordinary language.

            I will say this, I think that so many of our laws need to be reviewed. Your instincts probably did not fail you- that sounds like your top concern here. It’s fairly normal not to notice/feel anything unusual. Going forward-nothing replaces common sense and ordinary caution. But I do not think you have a major worry on your hands. The boss probably already knows. Your coworker probably has to do periodic check ins and has notified probation/parole of where he is working.

            1. the gold digger*

              Having known a few pedophiles, I can say that some of them are quite likable

              In one of my Shakespeare classes in college, the prof would have us cast the play. This was in the early ’80s when Robert Redford was still handsome and not annoying and political. We were casting Othello and the prof asked whom we would put as Iago, who is the bad guy.

              We all wanted ugly actors who looked mean – I don’t remember who anymore, but my prof said, “I would cast Robert Redford as the evil character. Evil doesn’t warn you that it’s coming. It’s seductive and beautiful. If we knew it was evil just by how it looked, we would know to avoid it.”

              1. Wo Fat*

                I wouldn’t say that evil is seductive and beautiful and I wouldn’t say that evil is ugly and mean. Evil can have as many faces as good. What does an evil person look like?

              2. Elizabeth West*

                Serial killer Ted Bundy remains one of the best examples of how monstrous people can be on the inside and yet appear normal and even attractive on the outside. He looked like the all-American handsome guy, and yet he was a sadistic necrophiliac whose last known victim was a twelve-year-old girl named Kimberly Diane Leach. I will remember her name and her little face until the day I die. Criminology isn’t a nice field of study.

        2. Are you a fire starter?*

          So he got in trouble with the law over this about 30 years ago? That’s a long, long time. If he’s managed to stay out of trouble for that long, I’d be inclined to cut him a break. Imagine if someone at your work called you out for something you did in 1985?

          Did you do the math? How old was he when he was convicted? I’ve seen some sex offender registry entries where the crime is listed as “sex with 16yo girl” but it’s not obvious that the offender was 18yo at the time. As someone else mentioned, there can be quite a gulf between what actually happened and the charges that were filed.

          Re not getting “vibes”:

          1. Real life is not like a movie. Ominous music doesn’t swell in the background when an evil person walks into the room. And you are likely not as telepathic or precogniscent as you may think you are. Remember that car insurance commercial a few years back, where it’s just a normal family driving along and talking, and it’s utterly normal, then out of nowhere and with no foreshadowing they get t-boned by a truck? That’s real life. It’s the same with this guy: he doesn’t want to walk around acting like he’s haunted and scaring people for the rest of his life. Which might well point to

          2. Maybe he did his crime, paid for it, and then got his shit together and has been a law-abiding citizen ever since?

          I mean: what the heck is “sexual abuse”, anyway? It’s not a precisely defined term. Also, I wonder if / how much this description might have mutated over the last thirty years, as it was copied from one form to another – some lazy person in 1993 decides to summarize the long-form description as “sexual abuse”, stuff like that.

          Everyone loves to pile on pedophiles these days. My father used to work for the dept of children and family services, and as a kid I sometimes overheard him dictating case notes. And nobody wants to hear it, but the sad ugly fact is that sexual abuse is not nearly the worst thing that can happen to a child. Sometimes I watch movies like Armageddon and I cheer for the asteroid.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Thirty years? I missed that part. I believe some people can be removed from the registry after a period of time. I know that 30 years is the time frame in some cases. He might be removed from the registry soon. It depends on the nature of the crime and many other factors as to how long they stay on there and IF they get removed.

          2. Gonna stay anon for this*

            Is your username directed at the topic here? Because I don’t intend to ever go to anyone with this or start a fire anywhere. Just needed to let it out anonymously. And to be honest my first thought was that it could have been something like what most of you are saying here..

            And re: not getting vibes. I get what you’re saying.
            The person who told me about it (and then I later looked up) said they always got creepy vibes and this confirmed it. I guess some people are better at picking up these things than others.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              FWIW, I read your question as an inquiry to your personal safety and as an inquiry about your legal/ethical responsibility here. I took it as you would prefer just to ignore the whole thing if possible.

              To the poster(s) who keep changing her (their) name(s)- why not just ask the person directly rather than making up a screen name custom tailored to the issue being discussed? This is a group of people that are surprisingly candid about themselves, there is really no need to do anything but directly ask the person your question.
              We had this a few weeks ago, and someone commented that the names were getting a little snarky. Of course, with constantly changing names, no one can search and find those examples. It has to be done manually, which is extremely time consuming.

              One of the best points of this blog is that we can speak candidly in a thoughtful manner.

      2. Newsie*

        +1 Some people have been treated unfairly by the system. If you absolutely feel you have to, you can always do further research. But unless you’re afraid you’ll constantly assume the worst, I would say don’t do it.

    4. Sweet Potato*

      Something similar happened to me recently. A guy I had recorded with (I’m a musician) was arrested for having child porn on his computer. (He had been arrested for something else, the charges were dropped, but they had found the porn when they searched his computer.)

      I’m really creeped out. I found out about it in the paper. I had just seen him and he acted like everything was great, but according to the news, he was out on bail at the time. Which seems kind of incriminating. Wouldn’t an honest person in that situation at least hint that they were dealing with some bad stuff? We talked about his legal troubles and he said it was all behind him. So weird.

      Anyway, about the creepy co-worker, if I were in that situation, I would feel creeped out too. I don’t know if you’re looking for advice or not, but I would keep my distance for the sake of safety but also keep an open mind since you don’t know the details of the person’s case. “Sex offender” is a pretty broad term that encompasses a lot of different crimes.

      1. Ruffingit*

        Wouldn’t an honest person in that situation at least hint that they were dealing with some bad stuff?

        Not necessarily because it invites too many questions to even mention you’re dealing with legal issues or you’ve been arrested. I can see not wanting to say anything at all until you knew how your case was going to turn out.

      2. Are you a fire starter?*

        Wouldn’t an honest person in that situation at least hint that they were dealing with some bad stuff?

        Please tell me you’ve never served on a jury?

        There are an infinite number of ways that an honest – or a guilty – person might act in this situation, and not talking about it is not only completely normal – it may also have been what his attorney counseled him to do. In general, people who are going through our criminal justice system have an incentive to not talk about it. What if the police had come and questioned you afterwards, and asked if he’d said anything to you about some crime? There are a lot of exceptions to the hearsay rule – it’s not impossible that you might be called to testify against him.

        So: not talking about it doesn’t tell you anything about his guilt or innocence.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          In general, people who are going through our criminal justice system have an incentive to not talk about it.

          Yeah, but a lot of them do, because they’re also idiots who can’t keep their mouths shut.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        One sad thing about child porn is that you could accidentally click on something, say “omg, NO!” and jump off the site with in a minute or two-but you can still end up charged.
        It could be that he did not know the porn was there. It could be that he did not think he would get caught.

        But, no, typically if people are caught doing one bad thing they do not automatically confess to all the other bad things they are doing.

      4. Observer*

        Wouldn’t an honest person in that situation at least hint that they were dealing with some bad stuff?

        Why? To invite a gazillion questions he doesn’t want to answer? What purpose would it have served? People who are facing massive problems generally DO NOT “hint” about it, especially when those problems come with loads of social consequences. Who needs it?

  23. Ask a Manager* Post author

    We’re snowed in, in the West Virginia log cabin where we like to stay (the one that has inspired us to start searching for our own to buy). This time we dragged people with us, which makes it feel different than it normally does — it is nice, but also louder.

    Some photos of where we are:




    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      That is soooo preeettttyyyy!!!!! I hope you like the people you’re snowed in with very much, and I also hope there is wine.

    2. Mimmy*

      Oooh that is a nice cabin!! I’d start the fireplace and relax with a glass of wine. That is heaven right there.

      1. Loose Seal*

        Don’t know if you’re particularly attached to W. Va but if you’re looking for cabins in a great mountain area, you could try the north Georgia mountains (from Atlanta, I-75 north, then I-575 north). The area is fantastic and only about a 90 minute drive from Atlanta. Very cheap housing market compared to other places and it’s easy to get a cabin management company to rent out your cabin for you when you’re not staying there so you can make some extra money.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Nostalgia. It reminds me so much of the house my father had. The interior looked a lot like that. But it was a much smaller place.
      Back in those days, they build the homes with NO nails. The first layer of logs was held with spikes to the foundation and the rest of the thing stayed in place by gravity mostly. It was a tongue and groove construction so the logs did lock together. But no nails. It was amazing.

    4. fposte*

      Ohhh. It’s got one of those partial second floors with a balcony effect, doesn’t it? I stayed in one like that as a kid and thought it was absolutely magical.

      1. C Average*

        I grew up in a log house with a loft. It was our favorite part of the house. My parents still live there and that house has been in my life for 30 years now, and the loft is STILL magical.

    5. Sabrina*

      That looks a lot like my friend’s cabin in Northern Wisconsin. Which they are selling, if anyone is looking. :)

    6. Sabrina*

      That looks similar to my friend’s cabin in WI (currently for sale). I wonder if they bought the same kit as her dad.

  24. Stephanie*

    Apologies…this is tangentially work-related. (Feel free to moderate.) I have a lot of dead time at my job, so my supervisor said the office needed reorganizing. So, thing is…I am not particularly organized. I can get organized chaos and things reasonably neat, but I find places like The Container Store overwhelming. I will buy organizers and never take them out the bag.

    So organized people, help. How can I tackle this? I don’t think I can toss anything unless it’s obviously really old or junk. It’s mostly papers that need sorting and some hardware (like keys/locks and old part). Thanks!

    1. Lore*

      I am not super-organized either but I’ve learned a lot from having to work in a teeny tiny cubicle.

      For offices, I think the simplest organizational principle is “like goes with like.” Maybe get a big tool box with lots of compartments and sort all the hardware (locks together, keys together, screws together, etc.) and come up with a filing system for the papers? If you can buy a file cabinet, great; if not, even labeled bankers’ boxes will be an improvement on unsorted papers and will let people find stuff.

      If you have a scanner with a feeder, you can also scan documents that need to be kept but not referenced very often, and then either set up directories on the office computer/network or burn them to labeled CDs/DVDs and get a rack for those.

      The other key thing is not “organizing away” stuff that actually needs to be used regularly. When I first moved into world’s teeniest cubicle, I was trying to have absolutely everything stashed away (of course, world’s teeniest cubicle has no drawers, which made this challenging, but the office finally agreed we could bring the mini-rolling “file buddies” from our previous workspace) to maximize the working space on the desk, except for one cup of pens behind the computer. So I put all my rubber bands and binder clips and paper clips into pretty decorative boxes that could stack on top of the one cabinet. But it got annoying fast to have to stand up and move pretty decorative boxes every time I needed a paper clip. Now I have trays that mount to the wall of the cubes for basic, daily-use office supplies.

    2. nona*

      I do a little bit at a time. I organize papers in a couple of categories, and one of them is just “stuff I use every day” (some phone numbers and lists of instructions). That set of papers stays within arm’s reach. I have 3-4 other categories in folders in my desk, with each folder organized chronologically.

      The goal is to make everything easy to find, not to make it look perfect. IME keeping your ~system simple helps with that.

    3. CAndy*

      If it was me I’d spend a bit of time asking coworkers what they think about how the office could be better organised. If the office is cluttered with a whole load of crap, you could sound them out on a deadline for saving the stuff they really need before it gets binned. Also, your coworkers might be more willing to help if they’re involved and it’s not just you chucking their stuff out and reorganising things.

      But before anything drastic happens I’d go back to the supervisor and present a plan of sorts, just to keep yourself right. Think your supervisor needs to do a bit more for you than say, “Go and reorganise the office.”

      Could backfire unless you approach it methodically and get everyone’s ideas, present a plan, get approval then get it done.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Definitely put like with like.

      And think about the frequency of use. Frequently used files should not be in the lowest drawer or the highest drawer.

      Somethings should be paired up, like the lock and matching key. Only pair up things that would never be used separately. Otherwise this pairing thing will make you nuts.

      If you have to purge files periodically, let that system of purging guide how you set up your files. For example, if you purge files by year, don’t put the files all together in alphabetical order. Put them together by year first, then if you are ambitious alphabetize them within the year.

      Year end records/ anything for taxes or financials can be grouped together in one drawer/cabinet. That way if someone is doing a year end report they can readily find how they did it last year and the year before.

      If you have to keep users manuals for machines and other items, put them in files using their generic name. For example: A Toro snow blower would be under “s” for snow blower, NOT “t” for Toro. This is helpful because the snow blower manual is always in the same place in the file drawer no matter how many times they replace and no matter what the brand name is.

      At work, I ended up with 18 file drawers of stuff. I made a chart that I keep at my desk. The chart tells me what is in what drawer, so I do not go crazy opening all 18 drawers. And it helps me to put things back where they belong.

      If you decide to go for boxes and shelves to store all the paper, you want very heavy duty shelving units. You may want to have them screwed to the wall to make sure they do not fall over. A good rule of thumb for shelves is never pile things more than three layers high. That is what most people can tolerate. If they have to move more than three things their patience gets taxed, severely.

      Did your boss give you a budget? I would start there. If your budget is small, then start organizing just the things that your company needs for daily operations. Get that much under control. This way if the current stuff is under control the disorganization does not keep growing and growing. You can at least stop the problem from continuing on indefinitely.

      Our 18 file drawers probably cost 2k. We had to have locking drawers. And we still need more.

    5. fposte*

      One thing that weirdly helps me, as a disorganized person, is to work through the logic out loud. It has a momentum that just staring blankly at a homeless box doesn’t. “Where should the post-its go? I guess they could go with paper or with the smaller office supplies. Is there room with the smaller office supplies? Yes, there is, so they’ll go there.”

      And it sounds like the kind of situation where a “miscellaneous” box or basket would come in very handy, so don’t forget that those are allowed.

    6. Alma*

      I’d be sure to start out with a document retention schedule. Some lines of work, or companies, have mandatory retention schedules. You can then keep the most recent past year “handy”, and put other past years files in a place that is much less accessible. (Note the location on the document retention schedule.)

      I agree that I’d get the boss to be much more specific about what s/he expects in the way of “organizing” – does this mean throw out all the outdated magazines in the lobby? Trash the dead plants? Spend money on sturdy Container Store-like stuff to make everything look tidy? S/he may be thinking “the refrigerator/break room needs a thorough cleaning” and that is it. In that case, call in sick…

    7. Stephanie*

      Thanks for all the suggestions. So I don’t have a budget to buy extra supplies. The paperwork is actually fairly organized (including a timeframe for when to toss old paperwork).

      There’s just a lot of random stuff in there. For example, there is the Night Shift Gnome. It lives in the corner, behind a box of padlocks. It is a garden gnome signed by (I guess) old supervisors. I assume this had sentimental value to somebody who sat in this office, but not enough such that that somebody moved it.

      Anyway, I’ll get started with these suggestions tomorrow night and try to make some progress.

    8. Not telling*

      You know I worked at The Container Store and I was always amazed at the people who came back week after week after week buying more organizers. I always thought they must spend a whole lot more time at other stores buying tons of crap they didn’t need, or they weren’t facing their real organization problem and buying more containers was just masking the problem.

      So with that understood, what do you mean by the boss says the office needs reorganizing and you say papers need sorting? Do you mean that you just need to go through stacks of papers and put them in the file folders? Or does your whole filing system need to be reorganized (i.e., from alphabetical to chronological or something)? Or are you talking physical organization, such as the file cabinets aren’t close enough to where people need them, or old files need to be thrown out?

      Keys and locks would probably best go in a tool box, with the key in the lock and both labelled in case they get separated. Unless you have a whole lot of keys and locks. Then maybe you need a peg board or perhaps a christmas ornament box or fly fishing box to organize them.

  25. hermit crab*

    Anyone have tips for what to do when you are completely overwhelmed? I work full(ish) time and go to grad school full(ish) time and have assorted other commitments. I’ve been able to manage everything pretty well until the past couple weeks, when I had a massive confluence of simultaneous work and school projects. I’ve been running on so many burners that I think it literally made me sick, or maybe my immune system couldn’t keep up with my disrupted sleep schedule, but either way I’ve spent the entire day in bed feeling horribly achy and nauseated and not being able to work on anything. And now I’m a day even further behind and it’s making me really anxious, because getting everything done was iffy even before this happened. There’s no way any of these deadlines can budge — I just have to get through another couple of weeks, and I definitely can’t risk getting sick again. Help! I feel like everyone else out there deals with this kind of stress all the time, and I’m the only one who can’t hack it.

    1. BRR*

      When my work and school would overlap with heavy duties I first would abandon some things. Guess who’s apt wasn’t vacuumed :). I also would ask my bf at the time to help out more then make it up to him later. So if there’s somebody that can help you at all that is useful.

      1. hermit crab*

        Yes, I’ve definitely been learning a lot about what’s essential, haha. Cleaning went out the window a while ago! Unfortunately my fiance lives about 1,000 miles away right now, and I don’t really have anyone else. I think what I need is some sort of magic spell that helps me just suck it up and plow through!

    2. Dr. Doll*

      hermit crab, this happens to EVERYONE now and then, and you are NOT the only one who can’t deal with it. Getting sick is definitely your body and mind’s way of rebelling. This kind of stress is ridiculously common, but that doesn’t make it productive.

      In my experience, professors are more flexible than you think, if you approach them honestly and with a reasonable plan. Bosses probably are too. Other outside commitments may just have to wait.

      Here’s a template:

      Dear Professor Smith, is it possible for me to get an extension on Project X? I have had a tremendous influx of both work and school projects recently and I have not been able to manage it all as well as I would like. I have completed the first draft [or whatever] but I would turn in a much better assignment with another [__ days] to revise. I understand that this is a large favor to ask; it would help me greatly. Thank you so much for considering it, please let me know if you have questions.

      If I got an email like that from a student I would praise God, fasting, that someone had actually understood that I MEANT IT when I said on my syllabus that I understand people have lives and I want to work with them to solve issues!

      For the other commitments, I assume they are personal. You may just have to call up someone and say, “Mary, I’m so sorry. I know I promised to attend ___, arrange ___, do ___, but I am so overwhelmed that I just can’t. I’m really sorry, but I thought it was better to let you know sooner rather than later.”

      Make a list of EVERYTHING you have going on, and then really decide what is absolutely non-negotiable; what will make your life come crashing down if it’s not done? Be reasonable about it, because there will definitely be things on the list that won’t bring your life crashing down, but you’re so stressed that you can’t see it right now.

      And, /hug/.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        Yes, this. And email the professors as far in advance as possible because I’m related to a few professors and they do not take kindly to being asked for an extension an hour before the paper is due. But especially since you’ve been doing well until now and you can show them you didn’t just suddenly realize you can’t research and write a 20 page paper in one night, I think you’ll find a lot of them will show mercy. Not all, but many.

    3. nona*

      I did something like this and I can sum up the whole anecdote as IT SUCKED. I’m sorry you’re dealing with all of this at once.

      Pare down your work to what is unconditionally necessary. Find the bare minimum that you need to do for each deadline, do that, and only do more work than that find that you have time.

      Take a day or a few hours off whenever you get the chance. Try to take care of your physical health: sleep more, exercise when you can, eat as well as you can. Sleep > everything else.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Please try to find some organic chicken soup some where. Buy a few containers of it. Not joking- chicken has some real energy to it. It also helps with mental clarity. (Well, if you feel like you have something in you, the mind starts working better again.)

      The night before big stress days at work, I usually try to have chicken or salmon. It does make a difference. I don’t think salmon would be good with a bad stomach though. Chicken soup might actually stay with you.

    5. Alma*

      You might seriously consider taking all your laundry to the local laundromat that has the service where they wash and dry and fold all of your clothes. And sheets, towels, etc. Clean underwear and towels and sheets are major league important when one is overwhelmed. It is worth it. Then sleep instead of doing laundry on laundry day.

      Remember the BRAT diet, taught to me by a small village doctor: Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. Begin with bananas (and they have lots of potassium), when you are able move on to plain rice, then applesauce, then toast – don’t rush the process or your stomach upset will be right back to where it started.

      Often friends will say, “let me know if I can do anything…” They mean it. Say “yes”. If there is someone you trust implicitly, ask them if they could come over and wash the dishes and take out the trash while you’re at work. To come home to a sense of order and cleanliness often is a great stress reducer. (I’d suggest putting a splash of bleach in your dishwater to be sure any possible germ is eradicated in the process. Throw our your toothbrush and use a new one. Start with a new sponge.)

    6. Ruffingit*

      Nope, you’re definitely not alone in having difficulty hacking this level of stress. I’m in that space myself right now. I have a very busy and stressful job, my sleep has been disrupted for awhile now, my mother who is ill lives with us and there are tons of doctor appointments and I recently had some very unfortunate news from a person in my life who is like a sister and I am hurting for her and helping her through her stress.

      Things I’ve started doing that have helped me:

      1. Realizing this is not a normal level of stress so the fact that I’m having trouble handling it all is normal.

      2. Get off soda, cut down caffeine and alcohol and start drinking water like you’ve been in the desert for 40 years. Just getting properly hydrated has helped me a lot.

      3. Take one day off a week. This is your day where you catch up on sleep, surf the web, watch Netflix, whatever, but it’s all about YOU. Do nothing for others. You need this time to stay focused and clear the rest of the week.

      4. Start doing some basic exercise. Walking around the block is fine. You’re not training for a marathon, you’re just getting some movement in your day.

      Hang in there. It sucks to feel that level of stress and your body will respond physically. My last semester of law school was one huge sick bed experience. I was on a first name basis with the school health center staff and they actually had to bring in a specialist to try and figure out what infection I had and how to get rid of it. Two months after I graduated and I was finally able to sleep and breathe and relax, the infection went away on its own. Stress is nothing to mess with, it can really attack you physically. I learned my lesson from that and now I try to put some me time in my life no matter how busy I am.

    7. Sunflower*

      I would say try to find one enjoyable activity a day. Go outside for a walk- even if it’s only 10 minutes. Buy a new item you’ve been dying to get.

      It helps to keep remembering that the end is near. Any chance you can plan something fun to do once you’re through this rough patch? A vacation? Or even just a fun activity to look forward to?

    8. hermit crab*

      Thanks, everyone! It helps to know that I’m not alone. :) Our work deadlines are absolutely non-negotiable, but I think I’m going to ask for a few days’ extension on an upcoming class project. I have NEVER done this before in my life, but I think now may be the time.

      Not So NewReader – Did you know there have been scientific studies on the health benefits of chicken soup? It’s for real!

    9. Phlox*

      I had one particularly horrible semester, almost failed a class, stressed out for months, totally falling apart, that I felt so overwhelmed that I didn’t feel like I had time to exercise. Looking back, what a bad call on my part. I was unproductive and inefficient because I wasn’t taking care of myself. Going outside for a run or ride, even just once a week, would have made me so much happier. So yes, like many other folks have suggested, go outside, even for ten minutes. The endophins and me-time will help keep up your mental and physical immune system, and reap dividends in time cost-benefit ratio. And you are absolutely not alone!!

    10. Not telling*

      Take a mental health day. Seriously. You will be amazed at how much clearer your thinking is and how energetic you are for your work and school by just taking one day to not think about either.

      I’m not sure if your school would accept an extension–most won’t if it’s simply a work schedule conflict. That is assumed in grad school, especially those that cater to working adults. But you can always ask, and remember, what’s the worst that can happen? If you have to retake the class is that REALLY the end of the world? A serious number of grad students have to retake at least one class during their education. It is not an indicator that you are a failure.

  26. Mints*

    So, I’m curious, do we have any hair stylist readers?
    What makes an awesome client besides being nice and tipping? I think I’m boring and I wonder what kind of clients are the best. Being really chatty? Fashion forward hair cuts? “Cut it however you want”?
    Does this vary hugely?

    1. afiendishthingy*

      I’ve always assumed decent tipping and being nice to anyone in a service industry was pretty much the key to being an awesome client, but I could be wrong. I try to give my hair stylist a really big tip at the end of the year and I try to ask about stuff she’s mentioned before, like her nephews or night classes, since she goes to the trouble to remember things I’ve said. A friend from high school works at a fairly upscale salon for men, and her clients have given her christmas and even birthday gifts — I think mostly booze, but one of them gave her his downtown Chicago parking space. So that probably does it. (She liked the parking space guy, I think I might be a little nervous about a guy I didn’t really know always knowing where my car was? But I don’t know, you gotta trust your instincts.) I feel a little boring because I always get the same haircut, but I don’t worry too much because I tip well and I’m nice.

    2. Clever Name*

      I’m sure it depends. If you want an insider peek at the salon industry, check out behind the chair dot com. Honestly though, it’s not about making your stylist like you, it’s about getting a hairstyle/color that you love. That’s what good stylists want. Just like any job, some tasks are new and exciting and some are routine. Neither is better than the other.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I always make Christmas goodies for my hairdresser, nail lady, and the woman who waxes my eyebrows. Sometimes, I have to reschedule my appointments, or I’m running late, so a gift at the end of the year with a card hopefully tells them that I do appreciate what they do for me, and I don’t take them for granted.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I’m going to do this for my stylist. She does my brows also and I love her. I missed Christmas this year but I will bring her something nice from London, I think.

    4. Sunflower*

      I’m kind of in the same boat as Clever Name. When you’re in the chair, do what you want. Don’t do something just to be easy. FWIW, I think hairstylists appreciate someone who knows what they’re looking for but is willing to hear suggestions. I’d imagine bringing pictures of what you’re looking for is probably the best thing you can do. Everyone has different ideas of ‘dark’ or ‘light’ so bringing a picture is probably the best thing to do.

    5. Loose Seal*

      I let my hairdresser practice different colors on me. I get that that wouldn’t work for everyone but I like to change up my color every six weeks or so and it works out for us. For instance, my hairdresser wanted to practice with the grey hair color that is popping up all over Pinterest so she asked me if I was game and I did it for her. (I actually didn’t like that one because it faded out super fast and just looked like washed out blonde.) But I’ve had lots of things I’ve loved that she was practicing and lots of colors that get tons of compliments (I always give her feedback if a hair color is getting lots of comments). She also knocks some money off the bill if she’s experimenting so it makes it easier for me to afford the constant coloring.

  27. Vanilla*

    I know some of the regular posters on here have tried the 21 day Primal Eating Challenge. I’m starting it on Monday and would love to hear feedback/tips/advice for sticking to the plan.

    1. Rebecca*

      Hi, I tried it, and have adopted some (not all) of the plan for pretty much 80% of the time. But, I have no dietary allergies, issues, or anything that would necessitate giving up all grains forever.

      So – I printed out a list of foods that were on the plan, looked at recipe ideas online, and got things around ahead of time, so I wasn’t scrambling on the very first day. I also found out there is sugar or HFCS in almost everything! If you have a stick blender, it’s easy to make your own mayo, and eat salmon or tuna salad on lettuce, for example, instead of a sandwich.

      I gave up diet soda on a daily basis, and that was the hardest for me. I bought naturally flavored seltzer water (they sell Polar brand here) and I drink much less.

      I made balsamic vinaigrette and citrus vinaigrette dressings, and found that yes, I can eat a salad without croutons. In fact, my challenge has been over for 3 weeks now, and I haven’t gone back to putting croutons on salads, and I’m still using my own homemade dressings. I think my stash of unopened store bought salad dressings are going to the food bank.

      I follow most of the plan, still, with a few exceptions. The other day I ate an Oreo cookie, today I had Cheerios for breakfast, and I had pizza twice in the last 3 weeks. I can’t envision not eating a cookie ever for the rest of my life, and I really have no interest in trying to put together a fake pizza using riced cauliflower to make a crust.

      Good luck!

    2. EG*

      Not Primal, but my husband and I just started switching over to eating Paleo and a workout program on NerdFitness. It’s a pretty easy exercise program to start for both of us who don’t move around enough each day. I haven’t really missed bread or carbs that much, with all the other foods that we can have. And I’ve enjoyed the variety of fruits and vegetables. My head feels clearer and I have more energy than before.

  28. Hearts on Fire*

    Questions about buying your first home…

    I’ve been living in apartments for the last decade and I really, REALLY want to buy a home. I have a small down payment (5%) but obviously would like to have more to put down. I have no debt and have been with my current company for three years. I have excellent credit. I’m a single woman (but seriously dating someone) and in my mid-thirties.

    My lease is up in about two months and I need to either renew it this week or sign on for another year. I had originally planned to buy something this spring but had to make a major purchase unexpectedly last summer and that ate up a good chunk of my down payment money.

    I want buy something (preferably a house) where the monthly payment is 25% of my take home pay, so fairly conservative. However, as a single woman, I do worry about the maintenance of owning a home. Plenty of people have suggested that I wait until I’m married to buy something, but honestly – I don’t know if I’ll be getting married for quite awhile and I’m very tired of renting and want to set down some roots. (My significant other knows how I feel.) The city I live in has a reasonable cost-of-living but rents are rising like crazy. My complex is in a great part of town and the rent is extremely reasonable, especially compared to the new complexes in my part of town. The management/community is great, too.

    Does anyone have any suggestions or tips for a possible first-time (single) homebuyer?

    1. Colette*

      Calculate your down payment, and monthly payments, but also think about maintenance as well as closing & moving costs (land transfer fees, legal fees, etc.)

      Think about what maintenance you’d be responsible for. How will you handle it (do it yourself? Hire someone?) What will it cost?

      And get an inspection so you know what you’re getting in to.

      1. Newsie*

        I agree about the maintenance thing! I’d also look at a few youtube videos for simple fixes (i.e. easy plumbing, easy installations) and see how easy it would be for you. If you’re not super handy, you absolutely have to add money to your housing purchase costs. And get a REALLY good inspector – don’t rely on the bank’s inspector alone. That way you can see what you’re getting into, and can negotiate on the price further if there’s something seriously wrong.

        I’m single and I bought my place. There’s something so cozy knowing that this place is mine and if I wanted to paint the walls neon green (which I think the previous owner did, by the way), I could!

    2. BRR*

      Since you are seriously dating someone, is there any chance of you two moving in together within the next 5 years (5 years being the usual amount of time you need to make owning a home worth it financially more than renting)? If yes, take that into consideration. You don’t even need to ask the other person, just consider it when deciding. I also think if you can’t afford a house right now that you’ll want to be in for a while you should wait.

      For your mortgage, figure out what you’re comfortable with monthly payment wise and what that will buy you in your city. Shop around and do each lender close to each other since each one will be a hard check on your credit report.

      1. Sunflower*

        All of this. Don’t buy just to buy- plan on being there the next 5 years. Are you set on a house? Would you be willing to look at a condo or apartment which are usually much much easier to maintain?

    3. fposte*

      I own my own home, and I’m not particularly handy (I can screw things in really well, but I don’t do anything with a power source beyond changing light bulbs). It hasn’t been that big a deal. Don’t fall in love with a Victorian or something wood-sided; newer homes aren’t really likely to have that much falling apart. Outdoor maintenance is probably the least optional kind you’ll face on a regular basis; I outsourced the lawn mowing from the get go but I mostly clean my own gutters–mostly because I clean the ones at the first-floor level but not the small strip that’s along the second floor. Landscaping you can ignore, change, or outsource.

      1. the gold digger*

        Agree on the wood – brick or stone require a lot less maintenance. Don’t get a house on a corner lot – more to mow, more to shovel. Don’t get a house where the roof is pitched toward the driveway if you are in snow country: the snow melts and drips onto your driveway and turns it into an Icy Driveway of Death.

        I bought my first house before I was married and lived there for eight years. I did all of my own repairs except electricity. I learned how to replace a window pane, how to replace the thingy in the toilet to keep it from running all the time, how to replace the set screw in my attic fan. I did my own plaster patching (for very small spots) and my own painting. My house was old – built in 1922 – but move-in ready: a contractor had bought it from the owner of 60 years and renovated.

        I would look for an updated older home. New homes have crappy construction! Older ones are solidly built, the corners are square, and the floors can be refinished more than once. Only problem with older homes is heating – my house did not have insulation. Ask to see the electricity and gas bills to give you an idea of what it will cost you to keep warm (or cool).

    4. Not So NewReader*

      With 5% down you will have to have an escrow account for your taxes and insurance. So your monthly mortgage payment will include taxes and insurance as well as mortgage. With this in mind you might want to figure on 30-35% of your income will be what you actually pay each month.

      Use an online mortgage calculator. Put in how much you want to pay per month (use the 25% number here because this is just the mortgage): how many months (30 years x12 mos per year= 360); and estimate your interest rate. You can get interest rates from the paper or by goggling area banks. Estimate high, this will only help you to come to a conservative answer. Solve for loan amount. This will be how much house you can afford. If you can find something less than that amount, buy it. You will never regret living below your means.

      I have an old house that needs a lot of work. I would not recommend this to anyone on their own. I have to hire out so much of the work. I have equipment to do the lawn and to handle the snow- so I do that much myself which helps to keep down some costs. However, I have to pay someone to take care of the machines for me. When most things break I have to call someone. Some months are worse than others. Like the month my mutt hurt his back. oh boy.
      And we bought a house that was 30% less what the lender said we could afford. I cannot imagine what would have happened if we believed the lender. Use your own numbers not theirs.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      When I bought my first home, it was a townhome. The HOA fees covered all the outside maintenance, so all I had to worry about was the inside. And it was great. They took care of replacing everyone’s front porches because the concrete had settled over the years, and it didn’t cost me anything beyond my monthly fees. It was nice to only have to worry about taking care of the inside. And I had an end unit, so I only shared one wall with neighbors.

      1. the gold digger*

        However – there can be drawbacks to being part of an HOA. (And I know this is just anecdata.) My mom was livid that the president of the HOA kept the outdoor pool heated late into the fall (in Colorado). The president was the only person who used the pool but everyone had to pay the heating bill for it. My mom would look at the steam rising from the unused pool while she was walking outside in a coat and gloves and get furious.

        Nobody on the board would vote against the president because she was a nasty piece of work who would call the police about people they didn’t like. She called the police three times in one night about one neighbor, claiming that the neighbor, was making too much noise. The police were confused because there was no noise, but still had to issue a summons to the neighbor because of three complaints.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Oh, the HOA is absolutely a double-edged sword, no doubt. For me, it was nice not to have to worry about outside type stuff since I knew zero about that kind of thing and I was single at the time. But the HOA did piss me off. A couple times I got dinged with a $25 fine because I put my trash out too early. I traveled all the time, so I’d leave my one small bag of trash outside my gate for the trash guys when I left town on Sunday, even though technically you weren’t supposed to put it out until Wednesday evening. I had a friend coming by anyway to check on my cat a couple times a week anyway, so I had him change his day to Wednesday and that was that.

          Fast forward a few months, when I was talking to my neighbor and found out that she was the one who ratted me out. She said something one day about how it really annoyed her when people put their trash out too early. What really pissed me off about that was that I let her daughter park in front of my garage when I was out of town. Each unit had a 2 car garage, so you could park 2 cars in there, plus one more parallel to your garage door. When their daughter started driving, they had 3 cars to contend with, which was a pain. They asked if she could park in front of my garage when I was out of town, and I told them that would be no problem, because having to play car bingo every morning would really be a hassle. And how does she repay my generosity and attempts to be a good neighbor? By turning me into the HOA without even talking to me first.

    6. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      Follow the advice of those who are saying “no old houses” because unless you are extremely handy and can do some fairly serious work on your own, you could be hiring a lot of people. Sometimes it can be hard to find competent people to do “in between” jobs like re-hanging a door because the foundation has settled or minor plaster repair.

      The New York Time has a “rent or buy” calculator (google “rent or buy upshot”) that could help you decide — link to follow.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        I should clarify “or are willing to become handy.” A lot of minor repairs or work can be learned; others like door re-hanging are best done by the experienced. If you are willing to learn, consider that there will be an investment in tools — nothing is more miserable than trying to do a job with the wrong equipment.

    7. Observer*

      I haven’t read the responses, so forgive me if I overlap.

      Firstly, your instinct not to wait till you get married is sound. I come from a community where people are expected to get married by their early / mid 20s. But, putting your life on hold toll you get married is nuts. Just do yourself a favor and try to make sure that what you buy is likely to have good resale value. This way if you get married and it makes sense to sell the house, you get most of your money back.

      The smaller your down payment, the higher the interest you are likely to pay. So, factor that in to your thinking. I’d probably sign the lease for the year, keep saving and then start looking in about 6 months. If you actually have something specific in mind, that would be different, but it can take quite a bit of time till you find what you want and can afford, and then to make the whole thing happen.

      Keep up with interest rates and figure out what you can afford based on what the rate would mean in terms of monthly payments. Also, do yourself a favor. Either stick with fixed rate loans, or get a variable rate loan with a payment schedule well below what you can afford. This way you save the difference in case the rate goes up (which happens – and was a significant piece of what went wrong in our last housing bubble.)

      Oh, and if someone does a bait and switch (eg significantly different loan terms) WALK AWAY. No matter how much you love the house, this is the kind of thing that can cause you major problems down the road.

    8. vox de causa*

      Make sure you do your own math and do not trust what the lender or Realtor tells you about how much you can afford – they don’t know your lifestyle and how much “disposable income” is not really disposable to you based on your habits. Also, make sure you calculate in Private Mortgage Insurance since you won’t be paying 20% down, as well as calculating your monthly insurance payment and your property taxes. Watch out for closing costs, and if it’s important to you that your loan not be sold, look for a lender that won’t do that. FYI, some lenders are better about paying insurance premiums on time than others, so it’s not a bad idea to ask about that.

      We had everyone trying to talk us into buying a more expensive house based on our income-to-debt ratio, but we held the line and went with a less expensive house with a payment that we could easily absorb. We have never regretted that decision. We are able to save every month into our house maintenance fund which has made it pretty easy to handle the routine maintenance and emergencies that have come up. Also, we paid the down payment we had planned for rather than increasing it (which was the advice we were given at the time) and that allowed us to absorb all the costs associated with moving into a new place – you will always find things that need fixed or fixed up after you move in. Even things like drapes and door hardware (we replaced all the locks) can add up.

      Definitely get an inspection, and be present during the inspection if possible. Ours netted us a new roof, which I would not have known to look for.

      Good luck!

    9. Clever Name*

      My husband and I have purchased 3 houses. I feel like we’ve finally got many things right in terms of our choice for our current house. This time around, we paid attention to the orientation of the house and which parts get shade/sun and when. Our house faces west, so in the evenings when we want to sit on the patio in the summer, it’s in the shade and is cool. Our last 2 houses were raging infernos out back because the house faced east. A bonus is that our driveway melts quicker. Also pay attention to yard size and landscaping. I’m sure it goes without saying, but huge yards are a PITA to mow and maintain. We thought, “look at the great yard” when we bought our last house but hated it when we moved out. If you don’t want to drag around hoses and sprinklers, get a house with a sprinkler system or know that you may have to spend thousands to get one installed.

    10. Elizabeth West*

      TAKE YOUR TIME. You do want to make sure you pick something that is 1) in a good location with good long-term prospects and 2) is in really good shape. This will not only be good for you, but it will help resale value if you do decide to move one day.

      I was in the same boat as you and I jumped too fast on this horrible little bungalow (it’s falling apart, not unlike my old car, and so is the neighborhood). Now I’m stuck with it. I hate it and I pray every spring for a very small, very localized tornado.

    11. Not telling*

      Just about everyone I know had a 2-phase home-buying process on their first home purchase. Phase 1 was when they looked at a bunch of homes and got depressed that they couldn’t afford their dream home. Then they took a break of a month or so and got back into it after spending more time thinking about what they really wanted and really needed given their budget. Most ended up relieved they didn’t take one of the first places they’d seen. So if you are a month or two into looking and you haven’t found what you like, don’t feel bad. Take a break.

      It sounds like you want your total outlay to be 25% of your income or less, so take the formula offered above and work backwards. If interest, mortgage insurance, fees, etc. are going to be 10% of your income, then you want the mortgage itself to only be 15% of your income.

      Remember, real women own power tools and know how to use them, so if you don’t own at least a power drill get one now. You’ll need one if you own your own home or you’ll spend a fortune hiring others. Get Reader’s Digest Do-It-Yourself manual.

    1. Kate the Grate*

      Looks like he’s going to pick the woman who fits best into his world. I hope he also has the strongest gut feelings for her and really falls in love with her. But, I think it’s important to consider true compatibility and values moreso than just butterflies and excitement. So it seems he’s taking the right path. (I read Reality Steve so I know the result.)

      1. Hearts on Fire*

        I’m an avid Reality Steve reader as well. :) ITA with everything you said.

        I have to say that I was a little (okay, a lot) disappointed in him at the beginning of the season for some of the choices he made. Britt was just a total weirdo in my opinion, and some of those girls were just so….crass (I’m looking at you, Kaitlin).

    2. Sunflower*

      I think he really liked Britt and had she not freaked out, she would have won. But she did not belong in that town and the relationship would have never lasted. She tried to set herself up to be the next bach and I think she failed majorly on that.

      I felt bad for Jade. She didn’t stand a chance, at least not with someone like Chris. The producers knew what they were doing when they put her on the show.

      I was surprised at most of his choices throughout the season. I wouldn’t have pictured these girls. I’m hoping he picks Becca

      *Note: I love reading Possessionista’s recaps and she can usually find out where the girls got their clothing/accessories from.

  29. Schmitt*

    Pet hair. How do you deal with it? We’ve had three cats for years, but now one is longhaired, and I feel like I’m losing the battle. I try to wash my work clothes mostly separately from around the house clothes, keep them in a closed wardrobe, go through so many lint roller sheets, and still find plenty of hairs on my clothes at work. Help!

    1. BRR*

      You can never win against pet hair. Do you use a ferminator? Also I went to a friend’s out with a white dog and white cat and didn’t see one hair, they swear by the dyson animal vacuum.

        1. Schmitt*

          Damn. One of our big bosses is really fussy and I feel like I’m just waiting for her to notice. I was hoping somebody had a magic solution.

      1. BRR*

        I just used the handheld pet vacuum tool on two winter coats and that worked pretty well because my dog has the fur that winds its way into fabric.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Damn, that was all my suggestions.

      We have two very fluffy shorthaired cats, and we’re religious about vacuuming. My husband vacuums like four times a week. We Furminate them twice a week and brush them as well. Work clothes I take off as soon as I get home, keep them and wash them separately from everything else, and keep the cats out of the bedroom and especially out of the closet. Lint sheets take care of most of the rest.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Don’t forget to vacuum your sofa! Our dog’s hair gets everywhere, but it’s really bad on the sofa, even with his “sofa blankies”. But yeah, it’s a losing battle. I get dog hair on the damn stove and I have no idea how it ends up there. I want a Dyson Animal very badly, but my Shark Navigator Lift-Away is quite excellent and much cheaper!

    4. Clever Name*

      I have two cats at home and my office is dog friendly, so I’m constantly covered in pet fur. My company gives away lint brushes as swag.