weekend free-for-all – February 28-March 1, 2015

Olive in blanketsThis 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:  The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough. Yes, this is the book that led to the mini-series of the 80s, and that might turn you off. But come on, it’s a love story between a priest and the woman he’s adored her whole life. It’s tortured and epic and full of people and families being torn apart. It is magnificent.

{ 981 comments… read them below }

  1. Madeye Moody

    Please help! I need some tax software advice.
    Has anybody used the free TaxAct for E-filing? What is your opinion about it? It seems to include all schedules and forms in the free version. (I would have to buy an advanced version of the competitors software just to get a single form that I need which is not included in the basic version of these).

      1. The Cosmic Avenger

        I concur, although full disclosure, I get a discount on TurboTax, so I’ve been using it for years. I do really like putting charitable contributions in ItsDeductible.com throughout the year and having it all pulled into TurboTax for me.

        I’d advise everyone to stay away from H&R Block, since they charged me extra for “expert advice” that turned out to be wrong, and I had to file a complaint to get a refund.

          1. Al Lo

            I use TaxBot for my ongoing tracking of receipts and mileage. It’s great, and it keeps a running tally of your deductions on the app, so you can see how it’s adding up throughout the year.

        1. Anon Accountant

          H&R Block is expensive too. Thu charged by the form used and by the number of W-2s entered. In 2 recent examples H&R Block clients had paid almost double what we charged them when they were referred to us.

          1. Anon Accountant

            These were people who went into an office and had theirs done. No experience with their online software though.

      2. Stephanie

        It’s only free if you’re filing a 1040A or 1040EZ, I think. If you need the regular 1040, it costs. (And state is extra.)

        I used one of the free e-filing programs (I met the income requirements) and it was fine. Interface was clunky, but it got the job done.

    1. Audiophile

      I’ve used Turbotax and H&R Block (paid & free). I’ve liked them, but this year I’m probably going to use a coworker’s tax guy. I’ve made out well, when I used a professional and gotten good refunds.

    2. acmx

      I used to use TaxAct; I liked it. However, I just use the free fillable forms the IRS has on its site now.

      1. Madeye Moody

        I used to use the free fillable forms on the IRS site too. Unfortunately, one of the forms I need to fill has continuation pages that are not supported here. This one form is the only reason I need to use a software to do my taxes.

        1. Bea W

          I had to switch to paid programs after no longer qualifying for free submission, I think because I wanted to itemize deductions.

    3. Kelly L.

      The last few years, I’ve used TaxSlayer. I used to do the free federal online and then send in my state on paper, but one year I had a complicated situation with multiple states and decided to just shell out for the state e-filing to keep myself from messing it up. It was so handy that I found it well worth the money to do it again this year, even though my situation is simpler. YMMV, of course, but it was worth it to me just to not have to deal with it. :D

      1. Connie-Lynne

        I so very much want TaxSlayer to be have a front end that couches everything in D&D terms instead of asking about your income and so forth.

        1. Barefoot Librarian

          My husband works for Taxslayer. I’ll have to tell him about that. The programmers are all nerds and would love it even if the bosses wouldn’t go for it lol.

          1. Barefoot Librarian

            I feel that I should add that their servers are named things like “Mines of Moria” lol.

    4. Is This Legal

      Use TaxAct, much better and cleaner. I used to use Taxslayer but they always find ways to up sale you. I think you still have to pay for state filing if I’m not mistaken.

    5. ptrish

      I am possibly insane, but I actually do taxes by hand since I think it’s easier than the software. I had a really unpleasant experience with TurboTax one year when I had some grant/scholarship money that wasn’t going to tuition–it was impossible to find the right place to put it in TurboTax…but with a pen and paper, it’s easy! The same is true this year, so I’ll probably do the same.

      What is it about software that makes it more helpful? I did grow up around bankers, so I generally understand the forms pretty well.

      1. Anx

        Same.

        I have never had a truly simple nor truly complicated return. And if there was a mistake, I wouldn’t owe much anyway because the most money I’ve ever made in a year was less than 13K.

        I am sure for some people there must be an advantage to using the software, but I have always found it easier to just fill everything out buy hand. Also, I’m not paying money to file my taxes.

        This year, though, I may go seek some assistance. I used the ACA tax subsidies in 2014 and ended up making way less than I anticipated when I applied for the credits. So I technically owe money back and and I’m not sure if they’re really collecting or not. Or if any money that was used to to offset the cost of insurance is going to come out of a refund or have to paid if I don’t have enough withheld to cover the subsidy (which I suppose at this point would be more of a loan).

        I also want to raise my tax burden higher this year so I can qualify again. It stinks paying taxes on money you’re not making but it gets me an advance of my health insurance premiums.

        (I live in a state that did not expand Medicaid and I lost my job over the summer).

    6. De Minimis

      I’ve used TurboTax and H&R Block. I normally will do the free Efiling for the federal, print a copy of that return and then do my state return by hand and just mail that in. But my returns are usually fairly uncomplicated, at least in recent years.

    7. HR Manager

      Might be too late, but I’ve used both TurboTax and TaxAct and I find both are fine for those with uncomplicated taxes. The fee structure is slightly different (more for state here, more for direct deposit there) but the tax filing piece themselves are quite similar in terms of ease of use.

  2. Librarian Barbie

    Any advice on having your mom as a roommate? I recently started a job I truly love but the pay isn’t great (for now, raises are small and slow). My mom is going through money woes of her own and suggested we rent a house together (splitting everything, it’s not as if I’d be living “at home” {how I hate that phrase; where else would you live but at home}, with my mom paying for everything).

    It’d be bungalow style, with my own bathroom and the entire upstairs all for me. We’d only share the kitchen and basement.

    This sounds great, because we really do get along, but I’m concerned about how to create boundaries and any tips on living with your parent(s) as almost 30-year-old.

    1. Not So NewReader

      This sounds good to me. I think that discussing the division of labor in taking care of shared areas would be good. (Kitchen, snow removal if not included in the rent, heat and so on.) One thing I would want to have a plan for is “what do we do when we disagree on something”?

      1. JMW

        Also what will happen when the lease is up: re-evaluation of the arrangement, decision to continue, option to not continue with no hard feelings.

        Also having friends over… when is it okay for Mom to hang out with you and your friends, and vice versa.

    2. TL -

      Talk about paying bills (whose name, is one person paying and getting reimbursed at the end of the month, or are you both paying at the same time, ect..), splitting household expenses and food, and definitely seconding the cleaning and dating.

      Especially dating. You’re probably used to your mom’s cleaning standards, but dating may be a whole new ballpark for both of you.

    3. Artemesia

      Sit down and explicitly review basics:

      1. privacy — including dating and having guests come by.
      2. bill paying — perhaps have an account for household expenses specifically t hat both pay into
      3. household maintance
      4. meals — do you eat together every night? if so how will cooking/shopping/cleanup be rotated (my husband and I have juggled this for over 40 years in a variety of ways, but one base rule is that whoever cooks, the other one cleans up.
      5. establish a time each week at first then each month to discuss household issues — so that there is an occasion and you don’t feel petty bringing up a problem that is driving either of you nuts.

      The biggest issue for me would be privacy especially around dating and hanging with friends. I’d draw a bright line on that. NEVER assume the other is included when social plans are made; always make explicit when you are including each other in a social event.

    4. Turanga Leela

      I echo everyone else who has brought up dating. Specific, potentially awkward things to think about and discuss with your mom:
      1) How will either of you react if the other has an overnight guest? Are there ground rules for the person coming to breakfast etc.? Will either of you be able to have the house to yourself if you request it?
      2) How will both of you handle situations where one of you is out late? Will you tell each other your ETA (as many roommates do)? Does your mother understand that you are a grownup who does not have a curfew?
      3) What are your house policies on drinking and other substance use? Do either of you get drunk? Smoke? What are the rules for guests who drink, smoke, or use drugs?

      For whatever it’s worth, I loved living with my mom. We also both realized that (a) we were both adults with sex lives, and (b) we didn’t want to know any more than we had to about point (a). We were discreet about the more risque aspects of our own lives and we didn’t pry into each other’s.

    5. ExceptionToTheRule

      Artemesia & Turanga Leela have hit the major points and DEFINITELY have a joint “household account” that you pay the bills out of!

      For me, when my mother & I moved into together as roommates after 20 years of living on our own, learning to make decisions as a “couple” was the hardest part. My mom’s been single since she divorced my dad and I’d been living on my own since college. It was hard for both of us to remember that we needed to consult someone else when we bought stuff for the house. I remember having a meltdown over something as insignificant as a hand vacuum. We both had to work hard at breaking the parent/child dynamic and treating each other as grown adult equals.

      Good luck!

    6. nep

      Nothing’s personal.
      When you need space and privacy and alone time, it’s never about the roommate; it’s just what you want and need in that moment. It’s helpful when both people concerned really get this.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I freaking love The Thorn Birds. I think I read it for the first time in middle school, and I stole my mother’s copy. I only recently had to throw it away because it got so dog-eared and coverless. I think I’ve read it about 20 times. Love that book. It may be a cheesy, sunswept romance on the surface, but it taught me a ton about the workings of the Catholic church.

      You know who else loved that book? D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s mother. I was watching a Jets game with my boyfriend, saw the name, and IMMEDIATELY knew, misspelling be damned. It is my current favorite football fact.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I read it for the first time around that age too, and I remember being fascinated/excited toward the end of the book when her actress daughter Justine, a redhead, has some kind of freckle-removal operation. I was like, “Great! This is what I will plan to do as an adult.” And then I got to be an adult and discovered that is not actually a thing you can do. I’m still mystified about why she included that in a book that otherwise didn’t delve into Outright Lies.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          But it is a thing you can do! With lasers. Nowadays, not in the 50s or whenever it was that Justine got it done. I always wondered about that, but figured she had some kind of skin resurfacing done. Suspension of disbelief and all that.

        2. Merry and Bright

          I remember my grandmother telling me that when she was a teenager in the 1920s and 1930s they were still using an old Victorian treatment based on lemon juice to make freckles fade and I have read since that this was a common “remedy”. Not sure what the acid would do to the complexion although the Victorians were big on using arsenic and lead in cosmetics and beauty treatments…

          The Thorn Birds is an old favourite of mine and I have read a number of the author’s other books. I added some to my e-reader a while ago. I don’t have room in my flat for so many books and I am gradually replacing them this way (paperbacks at any rate – some of my books I wouldn’t be parted from).

        3. TOS

          The nun who taught World History assigned it to us in our honors class in the 80’s. Once the word got out about the book, we learned a lot about the history of Australia. And more.

          I’m catching up on Adiche’s fiction now, and it has a similar vibe for Nigeria. Plenty of pages, compelling writing.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        I recently learned that my friend Megan was named after Meggie (Meghann). It took all my know-it-all energy not to say, “So why’d she spell it wrong? HUH?” :)

      2. Valar M.

        I was going to mention this – I know so many mother’s who named their kids for the same reason. I imagine it’ll be the same a decade or so from now when we have dozens of Daeneryses and Arias. I always think the book naming trends are interesting.

        1. Ellie

          I just met someone the other day with a 6-week old baby called Arya! Yes, named after the character :)

    2. The IT Manager

      A book recommendation: The End of Innocence: A Novel by Allegra Jordan. Inspired by the true story behind a mysterious and controversial World War I memorial at Harvard.

      At Harvard in 1914 (before America enters the war), an American Radcliffe freshman befriends a German Harvard senior and his English cousin. It demonstrates that the enemy is human too with hopes and dreams. In part 1 (the longest part) Jordan does a great job bringing 1914 Boston to life. I confess I believe that part 2 set in the trenches is ridiculously inaccurate. But part 3 is also very good although I did cry through it all.

      I used to read the sci fi more than any other genre, but now it seems like I’m reading more historical fiction than anything else.

    3. Muriel Heslop

      I read The Thornbirds in fifth grade and am still suffering residual trauma. Not because the book isn’t awesome – I was just waaaaay too young! Parents: supervise what your kids are reading!

      I was definitely in my twenties before I pieced some of that book together.

    4. skyline

      I read it in middle school and then worked my way through all the McCullough I could get my hands on at the time.

      I tried watching the miniseries later, but was appalled when none of the actors fit how I had envisioned the characters.

    5. Audrey

      Do people here know that Colleen McCullough died recently? On 29 January in fact. And amongst the many tributes, the newspaper “The Australian” published an obituary that began as follows:

      “Colleen McCullough, Australia’s bestselling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth.”

      Gah.

      1. Swedish Tekanna

        Yes, I read that comment from the Australian obituary online and thought the same. I thought we British were nasty enough about famous people online but I’ve never seen anything quite like that in an obituary over here.

    6. C Average

      I tried reading it after I’d read her Roman series (I *loved* the Roman series) and was disappointed, because I’d been hoping for something more like . . . well, the Roman series. I should revisit it now that I’m an alleged adult. I’ll bet squeaky-clean, naive teenage me missed a few nuances.

    7. Windchime

      The Thorn Birds is one of my all-time favorite novels. I even loved the TV mini-series of the same name; it really captured the heartbreak of the story. Love, love, love.

    8. Noelle

      She recently wrote a new book, Bittersweet, that I’m writing now. So far it’s excellent.

  3. Treena Kravm

    I’m on a real estate kick now. What are some features (either practical or aesthetic) that you would really want in your next place? What are the ones that are really popular, but you don’t care about?

    I really love older homes with features like crown molding and hardwood floors. I also would want laundry at least nearby, but I actually don’t care too much for dishwashers. I also don’t understand open floor-plans–am I missing something?

    1. Wolfey

      Net-zero and passive-house are really attractive to me right now. I’d love to pay almost nothing for energy and heating. I’m also a huge fan of traditional architecture styles–none of this really modernist boxy business–as long as they aren’t cookie cutter.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I thought I wouldn’t care about where the laundry room was located as long as it was IN the house, and second-floor laundry was a crock. Now I have it and it’s seriously one of the best things about my house. I love it. I love that the laundry room is steps from my bedroom, I love that the room is big enough that I can hang up stuff to dry in there, I love everything about it, and it’s only going to get more convenient when we have kids. Thoroughly awesome, and I thought I wouldn’t give two craps about it.

      On a very tiny thing: I really wish I had a long, thin cabinet for cutting boards and cookie trays and flat baking dishes and stuff like that. We had that at our old place and it was SO convenient for stowing awkward things like that, and I miss it.

      1. Lore

        That was the thing I most cared about when I redid my cabinets! And then I had to try to explain to the installers guys in Spanish that I wanted the shelf to be higher than they’d placed it, and I couldn’t show them a cookie sheet to explain because all my kitchen stuff was in storage. (Also, the pull-out faucet is possibly my favorite thing in that kitchen.)

        But I do wish there was laundry. Even in my building–we had a 24-hour laundromat next door and I got spoiled and then it closed. And it sucks. Living alone, I don’t miss a dishwasher much, but the laundry… Oh, and a coat closet. Or some sort of front-hall/common-area closet. My current apt only has bedroom closets and it’s annoying.

      2. Julie

        I’m the same way. My last house had basement laundry but now I have a laundry closet on the 2nd floor next to my master and I’m in love.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics

          I have an older arts and crafts house and when we re-did the upstairs bathroom, the entire design revolved around keeping the laundry chute to the basement. I know I’d be thrilled with second floor laundry, but since I have basement laundry, I love my laundry chutes, fire hazard or not. There is something so satisfying about opening the little door and having the laundry disappear.

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict

            Oh my gosh, my parents’ house (1960s) had a laundry chute that ran from the upstairs second bathroom to the laundry room/mud room off the garage. Unfortunately, it was poorly designed and had a random six-inch flat piece at the end, which is the exact space necessary for clothes to lose momentum and pile up. I think my mother used it for one week when they bought the house and never looked back. They blocked it off when they redid the bathroom and my mother was so happy.

            I love the idea of a laundry chute, though. It seems like such a fun and useful detail!

            1. the gold digger

              My cousins and I used to climb through the laundry chute in the bathroom and slip into the basement at my aunt’s house. You had to grab a pipe to lower yourself to the floor.

              We also climbed out of the dormer window to get onto the roof.

              Parents today would freak out. :)

              1. DeadQuoteOlympics

                My husband’s cousin got stuck in a laundry chute once and the fire department had to come and get him out. Ours is too small for a kid to go down but since the cat chases anything that moves, I always fear she’s going to hurl herself after a towel one day.

                My sister and I always laugh about our parents and the neighbor’s parents thinking it was A-OK to give three 12 year old girls a machete to clear some overgrown tunnels that someone else created in the tangle of blackberry bushes behind our house. It would never happen today.

            2. TOS

              As a Rancher occupant, we looked into laundry chutes and were informed they were fire hazards :(

              So the dream house plan – when we win the Lottery – has a bedroom-area laundry room…our steps are at the other end of the house…

      3. Buggy Crispino

        I’m the opposite about laundry room location. I have upstairs laundry near the bedrooms and I hate it. I tend to do laundry in the evenings while I’m watching TV, so I hate that I have to go up and down the stairs every time I need to do the next load, put things into the dryer, take things out, hang them, fold them, blah blah blah. Half the time I can’t even hear the end of cycle alert, so the things that need to be hung up immediately sit in a lump in the dryer wrinkling more and more as each minute ticks by. A laundry chute would be pretty cool if it led to a laundry somewhere downstairs closer to my family room.

    3. Not So NewReader

      I think some places are taxed by the number of walls, so the open floor plan might be a necessity.

      If I had it to do again, I would make sure that the lot that actually drained. Clay soil with a septic tank is not fun. I don’t know how I missed all those water loving trees when I first saw the house. (Willows and such grow next to water.) My “basement” is actually a pool.

      The other thing I would do is make sure the garage was bigger. A one car garage is enough for the yard equipment. The car sits outside. Twenty years later, I am tired of cleaning snow off my car.

      But of everything, I got what was most important- ease of use. It’s easy to live here. Everything is on one level. The layout is logical, it just makes sense. My laundry is next to my kitchen, I can cook and run wash at the same time without running up and down stairs 12 times.

      1. TL -

        Open floor plans also keep the place cooler, so very popular in hot states.

        I like them because I hate feeling boxed in – less walls, more space leads to a much happier me. I know a lot of people on the house hunting shows like them because they can be working in the kitchen while keeping an eye on the kids playing in the living room. So a multitude of reasons why someone would want them.

      2. Jade

        Totally agree on the one car garage front. We had been in an apartment before we bought our house and thought just having a garage was a luxury. Now the garage is full of workshop and yard equipment and none of our vehicles actually fit in it.

        1. Graciosa

          Once upon a time, there was a tax on the number of doors. I found out when I worked as a docent in a historic home; one of the features we discussed were the very large windows that let you walk out of the dining room on to the porch without having to pay the door tax.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger

      I really, really want a porch, preferably a deep wraparound one. I love sitting outside, but now I have to pull a lawn chair out or sit on the steps. I wish we had a place where I could leave an Adirondack chair or, better yet, a lounge chair.

    5. Marzipan

      When I bought my flat, the things I wanted were: two bedrooms, a kitchen that wasn’t part of the living-room, enough room for all my books (2000+ at the last count), space for a dining table, and a bathroom with a bath in it (not just a shower). And it has all of those! The things I didn’t care about were parking (no car) and central heating (I was moving out of a flat with no central heating so I knew I could do without it; I can always fit it later to add value; and the absence of it really puts other people off so it meant I could potentially get a good deal). And lo, it doesn’t have those things.

      If I had all the money in the world, my list would also include a larder (had one once, it was amazing).

      1. Marzipan

        And yeah, I don’t get open plan either. I’d rather have a dozen tiny rooms than one big one. I can’t do without wall space.

        1. Windchime

          Yeah, I do too. I don’t really get the appeal behind “open concept”. All that means to me is that I have to have my kitchen looking clean and perfect all the time, because my kitchen/dining/living room are all really just one big space.

          I live in a modern home now; one where all the outlets work and it’s energy-efficient and painted in modern colors. My previous home was built in 1929 and it was SOLID as a rock. Everything was plaster and lathe. It had a beautiful arch between living room and dining room, and there were built-ins in the dining room. There was an original crystal chandelier and crystal doorknobs. It also had weird, leaky bathrooms, plugins that were either dead or dangerous, and inefficient baseboard heat. I loved that house, but it’s easier to live in a modern house where everything works.

      2. Purple Dragon

        I don’t get the open plan either – I need walls to put my bookshelves against :)

    6. Alder

      Lots of sunlight is my #1 thing. I also love older built-in cabinets and such. My current apartment has a ’50s Wedgewood gas stove and the original 20s cabinets in the kitchen! I’m dreaming of a working fireplace someday…

      1. Alder

        Some more things: nice street trees; near a park and a coffee shop would be wonderful; and it has to be close to where I work, because I’ve never owned a car and hope I will never have to. The smaller, older, and less updated the better, as long as the roof is not caving in. I’m looking to buy a house, and I’m pretty much looking for the smallest, cheapest, oldest house in my city.

    7. Lee

      I don’t understand dishwashers! They just take up space that could be storage. Although, I have used them for storing cookie trays and cutting boards.

      1. BritCred

        For me I do want a dishwasher but just don’t have the space for it in my new flats kitchen. Basically because of my health issues washing up can really be difficult when I’m in pain which is far too often.

        As to the thread starter question – I totally underestimated the effect of the size of my kitchen and the lack of storage. I’m slowly getting there to rearranging it and kinda didn’t realise how spoilt I was before with the rental flats kitchen…

      2. Camster

        I agree about the dishwasher! I’ve never had one and they kind of freak me out – a dank, wet hole in a cabinet.

        1. danr

          Then something is wrong… dishwashers should be dry after the cycle, whether you use the heat dry or not.

          1. Camster

            To be honest, while I’ve used a dishwasher at other people’s houses, I’ve never had one of my own, so that’s how I picture them!

      3. Elkay

        I love my dishwasher, I call it my dirty dish cupboard. I hate washing up and the rest of my kitchen is designed for maximum storage.

      4. Bea W

        They are great for storing dirty dishes and mugs! I live alone and run mine 1x week, more if I am WFH or taking time off. I just give stuff a quick rinse and put it in there. I run it when it’s full. I hate having dishes in the sink but I also hate washing them in the sink.

    8. Lipton Tea For Me

      My tastes tend to run in the exact opposite of 98% of the population. I love older homes with updated plumbing, electric, windows, insulation. I like the little nooks and crannies they used to have for say a telephone or the little ironing boards. I love the stain glass transoms, all the deep stained woodwork (to me it is a travesty when someone on HGTV paints over the woodwork)
      But I am also claustrophobic and totally hate the square footage all chopped up into little rooms, I prefer the open floor plans as it allows me to make my home the way I want it and not all chopped up into designated spaces that I have no use for.
      I would prefer an older quiet established neighborhood with older trees that provide shade in the front yard and space for a Japanese Zen sitting garden. I also will need space for a vegetable garden in the back that I can keep separate from my 3 marauding dogs. And I could care less about entertaining, I want space for me and my dogs and space to regenerate and just be.

      1. reader

        I do like the older homes with the unique spaces. My grandparent’s (father’s side) attic was a nice place to play and I really liked the narrow turning stairway. The frosted oval window in one of the bathrooms was a nice touch. My grandmother’s (mother’s side) last house had a storage area off one bedroom that made a nice doll house and it had a large landing upstairs that was made a nice tv area for the kids. And it had 3 doors in the front. The house had started as a 2 story log cabin that had been added onto over the years. This made for an unique layout.

      2. Another Ellie

        I hate painted over woodwork. It makes me scream “why did you do that?!” inside. Either it was horrible, in which case re-finish it or rip it out, or it was wonderful, in which case why would you want to paint over it?!

    9. reader

      I really like the house I have now. If I were to build a new home it would basically be a slightly larger version of this one. An eat-in kitchen, large family room are a must. I am not a fan of open concept as I don’t want to see my kitchen when I’m not in it and usually translates to less overall space. Do not want stainless appliances, not worth the extra money to me. Laundry on the first floor, while many think it should be on the second because that’s were all the clothes are I don’t live on the second floor. The space should be big enough to hang clothes with an area to fold them. If possible have space for second refrigerator and pantry. Over sized garage. Most double garages are 20×20 which don’t give you quite enough room for the trash cans, tools, snow shovels or the kid’s sport’s equipment if you have 2 cars. A foyer is a must to me, I really don’t want to walk right into the living room and it limits what strangers see of your house when you open the door. Finished basement for the kids and friends and future grand children. And the ability to add on a bed and bath for when stairs are no longer my friend. Like having dining room and living as their own separate spaces. We use the living room as an office and have used the dining room as a bedroom. So having spaces that are flexible is nice.
      I do like the craftsman style and built-ins. Hardwoods are nice. Have a nice front porch but could be about a foot deeper. Like little touches that keep rooms from seeming like a plain white box. I have chair rails in the living room for example. And wall space. When we were looking at houses too many of them didn’t have a large enough wall to put furniture. Putting furniture below a window is one thing but I don’t want to be blocking half of it with a chest of drawers or a headboard.

      1. Lipton Tea For Me

        Oh and I forgot, I love, love, love the wrap around porches. If it was warm here at the moment and not covered with that evil white stuff; I’d be sitting on the porch hanging with a book and the sun! I especially would love a porch that actually allowed walking room around said chair.

    10. Julie

      I just moved this winter after house hunting for far too long. I moved from a midcentury Cape Cod house in the country to an Italiante-Victorian in St. Louis city.

      Things on my wishlist: An actual pantry, covered parking for 2 cars, a giant office/craft space, wood cabinets (not white) and lots of them in my kitchen
      Things on my husband’s wishlist: A dining room, a space for a mudroom, a basement/garage space for a workshop
      Things we both wanted: Location

      When house hunting we realized how much we loved awesome staircases, pocket doors, transom windows, exposed brick walls, double lots, stained glass windows, and 3rd floors. Our actual house ended up with the exposed brick, pocket doors, transom windows, dining room, the covered parking, workshop and studio spaces, wood cabinets, pantry, and the 3rd floor. A bunch of other stuff of course.

      But we ended up getting a bunch of things we didn’t know we’d love like gas ranges, a set of cabinets with a wine/coffee bar in the dining room, and 3 decks of outdoor space instead of more yard. What I miss most from my last house is actually having lazy susans in my cabinets since they hold EVERYTHING. But I got an Elfa system for my pantry and that helps a ton. My biggest regret is still no mudroom/foyer but I have ideas. Our house didn’t come with a single built in either so I have to build some things but it came with a jetted tub which I love. I ended up with an open floor plan on the first floor and while I usually hate them, this one is growing on me. The rest of the house was so perfect that I can overlook one crazy large room and its 12 foot ceilings with no furniture in it yet. To me, location was the biggest priority, with storage options as my second biggest priority, and the house having enough character that I feel like it reflects who I am. Everything else can be worked out.

      (But for the love of God home remodelers, make sure you put drawers in a house! We really only have cabinets with no inserts and I didn’t realize how much every cabinet and vanity can turn into black holes so quickly!)

    11. Lizzie

      We are just starting the search for our next apartment, and even though we won’t move until summer at the earliest, I’m already chomping at the bit. My #1 thing is laundry; we have to have it in the next building, bonus if it’s in the apartment itself. (I am soooo tired of lugging stuff to the laundromat or washing it by hand in the bathtub.) A dedicated parking space is also a must. Things I would like but can live without if it comes down to it: dishwasher, hardwood floors, non-basement level, eat-in kitchen.

      Down the line, I’d like to have a second bedroom or office, a separate dining room, a porch, and a yard, but we’re not making that kind of money yet.

    12. Traveler

      Do not care about fireplaces. At all. I cannot understand paying thousands extra to have one installed like they do on HGTV shows.

      Also don’t care about open floor plans. I’m hoping that backlash starts soon. I’d rather have a room for everything and a place for everything than a giant football field of a kitchen/dining/living room. Dishwashers are pretty useless – they never clean properly it seems, but I also really hate doing the dishes and they let me pretend I don’t have to.

      Likes… outdoor bar/grilling areas. Screened in sleeping porches.

    13. Noah

      Here are my “must-haves”: kitchen open to family/living space, dining room large enough for at least 8 people, laundry in my home, high ceilings, lots of windows, and some outdoor space. My current apartment has all of these things, although the living/dining space requires a bit of rearranging to get the leaf in the table to make it for 8 people.

      My washer/dryer is actually inside the master bedroom closet, which I really like because I can fold clothes and put them right away, no midway stop in a laundry basket.

      I prefer carpet over hardwood, it is so much warmer and cozier. I wouldn’t hate hardwood, but I would put down a lot of rugs.

      I also love the keypad lock on my apartment door. You can use either a key or the code to get in. I love that I can leave my keys behind when I go for a morning run. Also nice to give visiting friends the code.

    14. Jeanne

      I feel more comfy in a house with regular ceilings. Not the two story ceiling in the family room. I insisted on my own laundry machines. I have no basement or attic but has lots of living space. Do you like a flower bed? A formal dining area? I ended up paying for a garage which I love. Use it for your car, not storage. Be comfortable.

      Things like dishwashers may not mean much to you but it may help for resale.

    15. Camster

      I rent an older duplex that has hardwood floors and I love them! I have cats who make it a point to throw up on anything that remotely looks like a rug, so I find it easier to clean up (and eventually replace) area rugs. I don’t think I would care to live in a place with wall to wall carpet ever again! Being out West, open floor plans are really big here – definitely helps circulate the air or heat, plus the rooms feel so “airy”. However, since this is an older place, I have a regular wall between the kitchen and living room.

      Oh, and I had a screen door installed last summer and I love it! Since our weather is usually mild, I have the front door opened most of the time (like right now!). I had to pay for it myself since the landlady refused (she thought the cats would be scaling the screen door like Everest, which they do not do). It was the best investment!

      1. Corry

        Cats prefer to yark on carpet because there’s less splashback, I think. (We, too, have no carpet for a reason.)

        1. Bea W

          My friend moved to a place that only had carpet in the bedrooms. She thought for sure her cats would just puke in the livingroom as usual but with hard floors it would be easy to clean. Her cats never puked on the hard floors. They would run into one of the bedrooms to do it every time. She ended up installing hardwood in the bedrooms several years later. It was a losing battle. As long as there was carpet, the cats would find it and puke on it.

    16. The IT Manager

      Open floor plan! I like it. #1 – I can watch the TV in the living room while doing dishes/cooking etc. The exterior windows bring in light to more rooms with an open floor plan. I live alone, but I imagine it helps with family time/watching kids that the person in the kitchen can see/participate in what’s going on in the living room.

    17. DeadQuoteOlympics

      I prefer older houses, and over time I’ve found these things to be very important to me: hardwood floors, high ceilings (not atrium high, but Victorian house high), lots of windows, a long unbroken expanse of countertop in the kitchen, warmth — very important for me to be able to be cozy in the winter, gas range — can’t cook otherwise.

      Things that I didn’t know I would like so much — 36 inch counter on the bathroom sink (seriously, why are we bending over so much?) and a “comfort height” toilet. The architect of our 1926 bungalow wasn’t great, but the builder was — all the inside window and door trim pieces are screwed on with these largish black arts and crafts screws, so if you need to take the trim off to fix the window sash cords or get a refrigerator through the door, it’s so easy. We also have incredibly beautiful and well-fitting wooden storm windows and screens that install from the inside.

      Features that I would jump for joy if I could get — a mud room, a pantry or one of those unfolding pantry wall cabinets, and a serious outside-venting exhaust hood over the stove.

      Things I hate that seem either de rigueur or popular: Badly positioned islands. We are looking to buy in the next year, and I’ve seen so many older houses with stupidly positioned islands just to have an island. I’ve seen them blocking the work triangle, or positioning the counter seats so everyone’s back is to the view (I just looked at one where they jammed a little table in a corner so the occupants could sip their coffee and look out into the yard instead of sitting at the island). I really hate vessel sinks, too — not sure I could bring myself to buy a house with vessel sinks unless they dropped the price enough to pay for replacing them.

      1. Windchime

        I think the vessel sinks are a fad. I don’t have any, but they sure don’t look very practical to me.

    18. Clever Name

      Open floor plans are for people who love togetherness and who love shouting across the house at each other. For us, the bedrooms had to be on a separate floor from the kitchen and living area, and we wanted a western exposure so the patio is in the shade in the evening. Bonus is the driveway melts so much faster!

    19. StillHealing

      A gas stove and oven. I have these where I am renting now and didn’t know what I was missing! I just don’t burn things like I used to and things bake evenly.

    20. Elizabeth West

      If I buy another older home, I want one that someone else already updated. New HVAC, new electrical, new plumbing. There are two things you don’t ever want to hear “all original” on–houses and cars. I would definitely have a fireplace as well. That would have come in handy during the 2007 ice storm. :P

      A smaller yard. I don’t need one this huge.

      Better neighborhood.

      Wouldn’t do this by myself again. :(

    21. Dew E. Decimal

      When I bought a year and a half ago, the realtor was very much upselling ensuite baths to me, which I had had in my old apartment. I do not like them, and this trend with new builds of having them is not my cup of tea. TMI, perhaps, but there’s something to be said for lying in bed reading and not having to hear the intimate details of your partner’s digest system. I prouldy own a condo now where I can’t hear a thing from the non-attached bathroom down the hall while I’m lying in bed.

      1. C Average

        I wish all bathrooms everywhere were soundproofed as a matter of course. Or that we did as the Japanese do and have toilets that make various white noises.

        Actually, my ideal house would totally have Japanese toilets, with heated seats and white noise and bidets. I love Japanese toilets!

        My ideal house would also have a feature I once saw in a friend’s house: a mud room with tile walls and a drain in the floor. So you (or the kids, or the dog, or the kayaks, or whatever) could simply be hosed off in the mud room. It was really genius.

        That’s pretty much my wish list. I’d like to have it all on one floor, too. The house I live in now is huge and sprawling and frankly overwhelming. I’d love a cozy little house about half the size.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics

          Yes, that’s the exactly the kind of mud room I want! Tiled far up the walls with a high pressure hose and a drain in the floor. We had something a bit similar in an old house apartment and it was fantastic for the dog.

        2. Elizabeth West

          The house I grew up in had a small bath near the garage with a shower stall in it–that’s what we called our mudroom. You could come in through the garage from outside and ditch muddy/wet stuff in there. Later we turned the garage into a family room.

          I forgot something above–I want more than one bathroom!

    22. Eden

      My house was built in 1940, and I love it, it has such charm. However, the one thing I would say to anyone thinking about an older home is, have a professional perform an energy assessment, and think about what you’re willing to pay for utilities. I live in NC, which is not very far north, with all-electric heat in an energy-inefficient home, and last month’s electric bill is $570. It’s kicking my butt, financially, and wasn’t one of the many things I budgeting to fix.

    23. VintageLydia USA

      The one thing I really wanted but didn’t get for my home was a deep front porch. We have a decent sized side porch that works well enough, though the view is of my driveway and ugly rotting fence. We also have no coat closet (something I didn’t realize until we already moved in. It wasn’t a deal breaker, thankfully, but still.) We got an armoire and stuck it in the sun room (our main family entrance.) It’s not ideal but not bad, either.
      My floor plan is sort of open (big living room, smaller dining area attached with a giant archway that delineates the space without taking up room) but the kitchen and sunroom are separated from those two with pocket doors (house built in 1959. I’ve always loved pocket doors and we have THREE!) It’s great because I can make dinner and then close off the messy kitchen. I wish I had more counter space but if push comes to shove I can set something up in the sunroom.

    24. Girasol

      I’m imagining my retirement dream home. I want 550-850 square feet (never own more than you’re willing to vacuum), room for a vegetable garden on a small lot (same goes for the mowing). Single story, nice neighborhood, as close as I can get to the city greenbelt/bike trail. Screen porch for sleeping would be a big plus. Insulation/energy efficiency must be good or at least doable as an upgrade. Maintainable. I wouldn’t mind redoing the paint, roof, and/or windows at the start, but if it’s a total fixer-upper with electric and plumbing and wood rot problems, not for me! Must be on a maintained road. No flood or mudslide zone. Am now in a large rural place on a dirt road. It’s been wonderful to have the solitude and the spectacular views of farms and mountains but I’m outgrowing the joys of house painting, repair, mowing, yard work, and issues with being snowed in. For a long time I loved owning a wonderful dream house in the country but somehow it’s starting to feel like it owns me, so I’m dreaming of a different house now.

      1. OriginalEmma

        I’ve been visiting open houses this weekend, really just for fun, to get a feel of the housing stock in the areas I’d want to live (if I bought a home).

        I’m finding features I enjoy, such as: starter home-size (2 to 3 small bedrooms), dedicated spaces (not open plan), basement (don’t care if it’s finished), non-galley kitchen with gas range and decent counter space, bathroom with a tub. Everything else is just gravy.

        The starter homes in my area pretty much bungalow style built in the ’30s and ’40s, some of which have been very nicely updated. I’m enjoying the plaster exterior and plaster walls way more than I thought (I come from the land of vinyl siding and sheetrock) and can we talk about built-ins? I think they’re great. Hardwood floors and original wood mouldings are very nice too.

    25. Connie-Lynne

      Connected to city sewage lines is a must for me; I will never deal with septic tanks again!

      Other things are — space for all our books, laundry hookups, and lots of street parking in the neighborhood. I hate getting home from a long day at work and having to park a half-mile or more away from my house!

      Hardwood floors, tons and tons of windows, and definitely open-plan. Other than that, just some kind of character, whether it’s an older home with weird little alcoves, or stained glass in some of the windows, or neato lighting fixtures … just _something_ to keep it from being a horrible grey box.

    26. Kyrielle

      I have some very strong feelings on these things. :)

      1) I really really want a dishwasher, and a good one at that. I have two small children, and being able to put things in and just have them get clean is awesome. Pity we don’t have one for the kids! I mean, uh….

      2) Anyway, yes, washer/dryer, preferably in house.

      3) NO MORE OPEN FLOOR PLAN OH PLEASE. We have this currently and it’s beautiful and airy and spacious and it makes the whole idea of zoning your heat ridiculous, which is a pity because this house really needs it. Yes, it looks pretty and it makes the eyes go “ooo, open space”…but I want

      4) nicely zoned heating system so the different rooms, and especially if it’s multi-story the different floors, have their own controls and temperatures. It would be nice if I didn’t have to _broil_ the kids’ room upstairs to make the master bedroom resemble anything but a chest freezer with linens.

      5) Speaking of laundry, sufficient room in the laundry room for high-efficiency front-loaders. I have them now, and I love them, and it’s sure a good thing we keep the kitty litter at the far end of the laundry/utility room, and thus don’t _want_ the door to close.

      6) FEWER CARPETS. Seriously. Carpet the bedrooms? Yes please! Carpet the family room with a door that opens into the back yard? What were the previous owners THINKING? I’d prefer hardwood, or maybe recycled-glass tiles, but I could live with almost anything I could wash, without involving the words ‘steam clean’.

      7) Never again a walk in shower/tub like at our last house with the sliding doors, unless I check that the track is engineered well. It was at knee height and had distinct edges, and I barked my knee on it routinely. It can be done right – the lower tub in this house is fine because it’s nowhere at knee height – but never again that setup.

      8) Honestly, ideally I’d like a single-story house. I love a lot about this one, but the up and down and the heating are not my favorite things ever.

      9) Sufficient storage. Attic space should not be accessed via a door in one of the bedroom closets, though. (What IS it about this? The house I grew up in did it, too.)

      10) A kitchen like the one I have now, in terms of storage and facilities (gas stove, though electric is fine; double oven, though single is fine; microwave; dishwasher). It largely works, though had I realized the ovens were smaller than normal, I might have passed on this. (That’s not a problem in a future house, though! All my bakeware now fits. lol)

      11) Location. Near work. Either near shopping or out into the country, one of the two. (If I have to live with suburbia, I might as well have a handy supermarket.) Good schools.

      1. Kyrielle

        Oh, and none of these are necessary but all would be positive: synthetic roof, fairly new (I am so tired of cedar shingle replacement); solar panels/solar energy; green engineering for heat efficiency, etc.; water recycling/grey water usage done appropriately; driveway that is flat rather than sloped; on a quiet road or a cul de sac; heat pump for AC/heating; in an area that gets good broadband of some sort, I have my preferences but so do most people I think; no HOA, or if it has an HOA, one with rules that make ‘HOA run amok’ difficult. (I don’t mind, for example, an HOA that collects dues and maintains a public pathway or park. I mind an HOA that regulates house color, landscaping, etc., because personal history tells me they can’t be trusted to follow their own rules.)

    27. abby

      What matters most to me is direction of the street, placement of the house on the street, and location of the bedroom I will sleep in.

      I did not realize how important this is to me until the past decade as the part of the country I live in is heating up and getting more humid in the summer. We get fantastic ocean breezes in the evening, but our bedroom faces away from that direction, so our bedroom is hot and stifling all night long. No A/C, never needed it until recently. So in my next house, I will make sure our bedroom faces the direction the prevailing breezes come from, and will be on the back side of the house to avoid street noise and lights.

      I like an open floor plan (yes, I’m in the west). I tend to keep a pretty tidy kitchen, so am not worried about “seeing” things. When we entertain, everyone is crowded in the kitchen and it would be nice to be able to spread out and still socialize. When not entertaining, I feel isolated and closed off in the kitchen at the far end of the house and I find myself cooking less than perhaps I should, simply because I want to be part of the family in the evenings after work.

      I would love a big porch, preferably on multiple sides of the house.

      I would like a walk-in pantry. My current isolated kitchen has no storage space. If no room for a walk-in pantry, then at least a nice, spacious built-in cabinet with varying shelf heights and either slide-out shelves or lazy susans so I can reach and therefore efficiently use all the space.

      I like wood floors. Not laminate. Area rugs for bedrooms. I would love a radiant-heat floor; some friends have this and they never need to use their heater in the winter. Not a fan of forced-air heating, especially the systems where the vent is high up the wall, just below the ceiling (hello … heat rises).

      I don’t like en suite bathrooms. I prefer a separate bathroom, especially if one partner gets up much earlier or goes to bed much later than the other. Our current house is older and does not have an en suite bathroom, but sadly it seems this is the trend with newer homes.

      I prefer the garage to be behind the house instead of in front. Again, at least in suburbs in the west, the trend seems to be to place the garage up front so that’s all you see.

    28. HR Generalist

      Reading through all of these, some of them made me giggle because you obviously don’t live in a sub-arctic climate (at least that’s how it feels!) like me! We’re house hunting right now, here’s my list:

      1. No flood issues. Preferably no basement. I grew up in wetlands and our current rental has a damaged weeping tile so we’re basically guaranteed a flood every spring come thaw, ughhh. Not being able to properly use our basement (as everything must be encased in plastic and raised off the floor) and worrying about our appliances (new washer/dryer and a chest freezer) is just not for me.

      2. Suitable heating. I’d prefer a woodstove for cost purposes (I trust the local guys who cut down trees to charge me appropriately than the hydro company), anything but electrical because that’s only rising in my area. I’d take natural gas or oil but ideally an outdoor wood furance or wood stove with electric backup (power outages/being snowed in are real possibilities and I loved the freedom of having heat as a kid when my friends had to go to emergency centres). This also means as little “open concept” as possible – I need to block off rooms I don’t use to save me from heating them.

      3. Going along with point #2, I’d prefer carpet over hardwood. Keeps the heat and feels cozy.

      4. Good bones. Decent electrical installed by an actual electrician and not somebody’s brother. Strong foundation and structure, no wood rot or plumbing/water concerns.

      5. Double garage. Preferably insulated and ideally heated. Must have electrical to plug in block heaters. After a month’s worth of -40 C weather I’m tired of our vehicles deciding when they want to start or not. We also both need to be able to fit our vehicles in there because partner’s is less predictable than mine so he would get priority and I’m so tired of brushing snow off my car!

      That’s basically it. I grew up in a converted hunt camp on a wetland/forest (100 acres worth) so my concerns are fairly minimal– I like to think I’m easy to please. If the house stands and isn’t damp, I will be a happy camper.

      I also like space – I don’t want to be able to see my neighbours and I don’t want the city bylaw enforcement to be able to just come in uninvited. I grew up in the middle of nowhere and was surprised to find out about things like building permits, pet registration tags, neighbour noise complaints, bonfire bylaws (seriously…. these should all not exist). I want to OWN my land in every sense of the word. I bought it, it’s mine, mind your business :)

      When I imagine my fantasy property it would be a small hobby farm where I could raise chickens, a few goats, do some beekeeping and have a SERIOUS garden. But that also probably means I wouldn’t be able to work a full-time job, so not very realistic.

    29. NacSacJack

      I would like a mud room and a back door landing with room for two 90lbs labs and me while I am opening the door. A back staircase that doesn’t bisect the basement in half. A kitchen off to one side of the house with a hallway down the middle of the house to the back door and basement staircase rather than people walking diagonally through the kitchen to get to the back door and backstairs. All bedrooms up on a second story. An office or 10×10 room on the main level so I can work from home in sunshine. A pantry in the kitchen rather than downstairs. Basement floor in tile with a drain to make cleaning easier. No carpeting in the basement at all. I’m a big fan of hardwood floors. Radiant heating for the wood floors and basement floors.

    30. LCL

      My must have list was:
      1. Flat lot- a lot of homes here are on lots that are elevated and the edge of the lot is retaining walls.
      2. No fir trees- a lot of homes here are surrounded by fir trees that drop needles constantly and drop limbs in windstorms.
      3. A fenceable yard, because I always have dogs.
      4. At least two bathrooms.
      The house we ended up buying only has 1 bathroom, we chose it because it met the other 3 criteria. Except both neighbors have fir trees and we still have pine needles and broken branches all over the place.

    31. Schuyler

      I’ve been on a tiny house kick lately. I don’t know that I could go as small as some of these people–195 square feet on wheels or whatnot–but I love the idea of a home that’s 500-1000 square feet. Small and easy to maintain; easier mortgage. I love some of the ingenuity that comes in these homes. Staircase cabinets, storage in the floor, use of technology… I find it fascinating and exciting. It makes me think I might actually be able to afford a house someday; right now, I can’t imagine being able to purchase a home of my own.

      One of my favorites, though it’s probably smaller than I could comfortably live in, is this school bus home: http://www.reshareworthy.com/school-bus-tiny-house.

  4. Christy

    Does anyone here live in Kansas City MO? My girlfriend is slowly job hunting there and we’ll move there when she gets a job. (She is a library coordinator now, and I can transfer my government job.) We live near DC now, and we’ve never lived in the Midwest before.

    How is KC? How is it different from the East Coast? How is it for LGBT people?

    1. Mal

      I live near KC and will be moving to KC in May. It’s more liberal than other parts of Kansas and Missouri so it should be okay on the LGBT front.
      It’s a great city, small but not too small, lots of sports, museums, shopping, historical places, the scenery is gorgeous, and the weather isn’t bad. Humid and hot in the summer, winter varies but is similar to DC.
      As far as living there, I recommend north of the city in KCMO North, and south of I-70 on the Kansas side(Overland Park, Olathe, Mission,ect) or south of downtown around Ward Parkway and streets in the 80s. Definitely visit before moving and drive around, the city has some areas that are really rundown but generally it’s a well off city. Very low cost of living too!
      Oh and if you choose to live within KCMO city limits there is a 1% earning tax. Just FYI haha.
      And, early welcome to KC!!

      1. Christy

        Thank you! I didn’t know about the tax, but I’m happy to pay taxes. (That’s part of why we’re almost definitely moving to KCMO and not KCK–prefer the politics of MO.)

    2. SystemsLady

      I lived in an apartment in Liberty for an internship in north KCMO. I didn’t have TOO much experience with KC itself, but I say a couple of things.

      The food is delicious, so don’t worry about that!

      As an East Coaster, you might find public transport options in KC and really the Midwest in general to be somewhat lacking – only Chicago and Minneapolis have much of a public transport system, to my knowledge. I would keep that in mind if you end up looking for a place in the city itself.

      I can’t speak too much on the LGBT side, but I know some LGBT people who live in Liberty/KC and they haven’t mentioned running into significant issues. Not that you won’t run into public, passive-aggressive displays against gay marriage and whatnot – when I lived there during the Chick-fil-a counterprotest thing, for example, the Liberty Chick-fil-a was packed – but overall, it should be OK. Much better than the rest of KS or MO in any case.

      Minnesota and Iowa are actually fairly progressive on LGBT issues, if for some reason her search moves north. It’s probably similar in Illinois, too, but I haven’t spent as much time in that state.

      (I think the 1% tax gets charged regardless of where you live if you work in KCMO, by the way)

      1. Christy

        Thanks for the tips! I’m fairly certain the Chick-fil-a in my Baltimore suburb hometown was packed too. :( oh well.

    3. edj3

      Yes, if you work in KCMO, you pay the tax regardless of where you live.

      I live here now, moved back here from Boston (originally an East Coast woman). Things you will like for sure:
      ~Cost of living is low.
      ~Traffic is easy peasy, especially if you are coming from DC (or Boston as I did).
      ~Parts are very LGBT friendly, other parts not so much. But that’s true almost anywhere.
      ~As others posted, food and entertainment options are plentiful and the city is lovely.
      ~Quality of life is great, slower paced and all that.

      What you’ll struggle with:
      ~Unless you live in KCMO (and not all areas at that) and also WORK in KCMO, public transportation options are an utter joke.
      ~This is not a pedestrian friendly town. I live in Leawood and we have no–NO–sidewalks in my neighborhood. So walking is kind of unnatural here.
      ~If you like to travel (and we travel a lot, both for work and fun), the airport is way up north. It’s a great airport for getting in and out of but it’s not a hub for any of the airlines.

      I’ve lived in Lawrence (home of the University of Kansas), )verland Park, Kansas City, MO (Hyde Park to be exact, also Midtown), Shawnee, Lenexa and now Leawood. I haven’t lived north of I-70 or further east on the Missouri side. If you’re open to commuting, you might consider Lawrence. It’s far more liberal than the rest of Kansas and very LGBT friendly. Housing costs a bit more, thanks to the university. But it’s a great town too.

      I’ll check back on the thread tomorrow and see if you have other questions.

      1. Christy

        I’m pretty sure we’re not open to Kansas at all–my girlfriend really does not want to live in a state that elected Sam Brownback.

        Thanks for the airport advice! Our families are on opposite coasts so I’m sure we’d be traveling fairly regularly.

        Do you mind sharing which neighborhoods are lgbt-friendly? If any come to mind?

        I appreciate all your advice.

        1. edj3

          The Westport area and Brookside immediately come to mind. Brookside is pricier though. Might check out Waldo, too. Personally I’d avoid the suburbs or exurbs, the commute is long (although never truly wretched, just long–we have a lot of land in the Midwest, so we spread out) and that’s where you tend to find more cookie cutter living IMO.

          And yes, Brownback is a definite negative about KS. But it needs to bed said: don’t fool yourself. MO’s politics are pretty similar; you aren’t going to find that it’s wildly different in MO. You just don’t have Brownback.

          1. Christy

            Thanks for the neighborhood info! And I believe you about MO politics, but my girlfriend has a particular issue with Brownback–something about the video game legislation he introduced in the Senate.

            (It’s rather arbitrary, but so is the reason we’re moving to KC–they have a great city Twitter and city open data program. So what’s some more arbitrariness?)

            1. edj3

              Obviously we like it enough that we moved back after five years in Boston :)

              This might give you a giggle: my husband (who is not conservative at all) registered Republican just to work against Brownback.

        2. mdv

          There are a lot of people who like Brownback, and people in Lawrence are (mostly) NOT them — it’s my hometown, and we once elected a frog for mayor (back in the early 80s) to oppose destruction of local wetlands… The local politics are so different from the rest of the state, I really think it is a mistake to write off a whole town just based on this one fact that doesn’t even apply to the town in question! But, yes, I am biased. It’s my hometown.

    4. Elizabeth West

      No advice, as we left when I was seven, but it’s one of the Google Fiber cities. :)

      I live south of it. I hate it here. But that’s just me–I’m sick of the Midwest. Kansas City is famous for its barbecue, and it does have great shopping. The Plaza is awesome and so is Crown Center (if it’s still there). It has a lively arts scene as well. Oh, and fountains–lots of fountains. I remember one with horses on it but I don’t know where it is. I haven’t been there in ages.

      Weather–snow, ice, and thunderstorms. Get used to tornado watches and warnings and pay attention to them. Summers are hot and humid.

      1. Christy

        Why are you sick of the Midwest? Just curious. I’m really sick of the MidAtlantic so I empathize.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I’m having trouble dealing with a place where this many people watch Duck Dynasty and don’t know who Stephen Fry is. -_-

          But seriously, it’s mostly weather (ugh!), attitude, and I’ve been here most of my life and I’m bored with it. It’s so white-bread and close-minded and tends to be a closed culture as well. I’ve never felt like I fit in. I lived in California for four years and didn’t have culture shock until I moved back. Same with going to the UK, both times, even though I was only eighteen the first time. Coming back is always weirder than going elsewhere, which I take as a sign that I don’t belong here. Thank God for my Doctor Who nerd friends, or I would go crazy.

      2. edj3

        PARTS of the city are Google Fiber. Case in point, Leawood was on tap to get it and now we are not. Overland Park (which the OP won’t want for a number of reasons) will be last to get it if it ever happens (long story short, their city council got all pissy and Google said fine, we’ll take our toys and go elsewhere).

    5. DCtoKC

      We moved from the DMV a couple of years ago. I just laugh when my coworkers complain about the traffic. Traffic here does not exist. Cost of living is really low. I was surprised at How much lower our car insurance. You can buy a very nice house for a very decent price. KC is a neat little town with things to do on the week end. Now, it’s not a very diverse area. I work with a lot of people that have spent their entire life here, college included. The airport is not convenient for international travels, but is great to travel within the US. Hope this helped!

      1. Christy

        Yes, it definitely helped! I get insanely excited when I think about the lack of traffic. I metro to work now, but it’s almost hard to imagine an easy driving commute.

    6. Andrea

      I never even check these open threads, but the one time I do, someone’s asking about KC! I live in KCMO, and in one of the most LGBT-friendly neighborhoods around (which also happens to be an absolutely beautiful area). I bet you will love it here. I sure do.

      Staying away from Kansas and the ‘burbs is the best decision we made. I bet you won’t regret that. We are thrilled with our lovely neighborhood full of classic homes and big trees and sidewalks. You’ll probably love Waldo or Brookside. These are both classic, close-knit neighborhoods right in the city, but you’ll have a yard (I have a very large one, which is great because I grow vegetables and herbs). Lots of lovely Tudors and bungalows here, homes with lots of character and lovely hardwoods, crown moulding, fireplaces, all that. Mostly homeowners but there are some rentals around (not sure if you’re looking to buy yet). These were the first neighborhoods to get Google Fiber (I’ve had it since Aug 2013). These are centrally located neighborhoods, very close or 10-15 minutes away from everything you’d want—the only places that are really inconvenient are the some of the farther-flung suburbs, not that I ever go there anyway. It’s also a great foodie city, and not just BBQ; I’m a vegetarian and there are some really awesome veggie and veggie-friendly places to eat, too. KC also has a lot of cultural events and arts and things like that; we love supporting the fine arts here, and we also love museums. And we do have great libraries, which I guess your girlfriend probably already knows! There are popular bars, restaurants, and shops within walking distance of my house. I could walk to my favorite grocery store, Cosentino’s Brookside, if I wanted (though I usually drive); Trader Joe’s is a 5 minute drive from my house. In the spring/summer/fall, there are two Farmers’ Markets within walking distance of my house. I walk my dog throughout the neighborhood, even at night. So does almost everyone else; dog-walking is big in my neighborhood.

      And I have several LGBT neighbors; some of them call this area a gayborhood. Let’s see, within a one-block radius of my house, there are 8 LGBT households (singles or couples) that I know of… there could be others that I just don’t know (I know most of my neighbors, though) or some that I forgot. Also some young families, lots of childless/childfree couples (straight and gay), and several singles and seniors. I feel very much like I belong in this community, and I love living among like-minded folks. (I used to live farther south and … living among people who believe repugnant things was very difficult for me, soul-crushing really, and I stayed out of Kansas to avoid that same stuff now.)

      I live just about on the line between Waldo and Brookside, technically North Waldo aka Tower Homes North. The nicest, most well-kept homes in Waldo are usually south of 75th, but that’s just a general guideline: There are some lovely homes in very safe neighborhoods past that line. There are some lovely (usually larger) homes around Tower Park, too. There are some really adorable bungalows between Gregory and 75th, west of Wornall. And it obviously depends on what you’re looking for. If you don’t care about having a yard and if you’re not all that much into the feel of a close-knit community, you might like living downtown/Crossroads in a loft or in the River Market; there are also Plaza-adjacent apartments/lofts/condos you might like. If you’re much cooler than me or an artistic type, then you might check out the areas around 39th St West (it’s a cool but rougher area in many ways; this neighborhood connects Westport to KCK and has a variety of shops, bars, restaurants not too far from residential areas). You might also like parts of West Plaza, much of which looks lovely (but I’m not as familiar with the feel of that neighborhood).

      Come visit. Look around. When you find an area you like, find a real estate or rental agent who specializes in the area you like and get them to help you find something there.

      What else do you want to know? How can I help?

        1. edj3

          Yes we loved living there, had a house on Campbell just south of Armour. Ours was one of the “smaller” houses: built in 1905, three floors, two staircases and 3000 square feet!

      1. Christy

        This is such a welcoming and thorough response! I’m sure I’ll have lots more questions for you but right now I’m just looking into the areas you mentioned. We would definitely be renting at first–want to settle into the city before we’d buy. I’ll be sure to see if my girlfriend has any questions for you once she’s awake.

        1. Andrea

          Check out Volker, too, and Westport, which I thought I mentioned. (I wanted to buy in Westport but couldn’t find a big enough yard for my gardening addiction.)

        2. Andrea

          I haven’t been commenting like I used to and am just getting back to it, but there used to be a KC librarian who posted here. Maybe she will weigh in; she might have some tips for your girlfriend, too.

      2. Christy's girlfriend

        Someone mentioned diversity. How much actual interaction is there, among different groups? What do the people who live there think of the city government? If KC MO is part of four different counties how do those counties interact with the city? Does good Mexican food exist?

        1. Nashira

          I live in Jeff City, but my father-in-law works as a trucker in KC. All the man eats during the week is Mexican food, unless his Colombian or El Salvadoran coworkers drag him out to one of their “tastes just like home” restaurants.

        2. edj3

          GREAT Mexican food exists here! We have a large Hispanic population in the KC KS side of the city. My favorite Mexican restaurant is La Fonda, not a sign of Tex Mex in there. English is most definitely the second language and the food is amazing.

          There are a number of festivals around the city that celebrate different cultural heritages, although I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say we are a well integrated city. There was a lot of white flight south and west over the years, and the KC MO schools are mostly awful. You have to get out to Lee’s Summit and Independence to get better schools on the Missouri side.

          The city government is local to each city. Remember that we’ve got a bunch of towns stitched into the KC Metro area. On the Missouri side you’ve got Kansas City, Parkville, Raytown, Peculiar, Liberty, Belton, Lee’s Summit and Independence that I can recall off the top of my head. Then on the Kansas side, you’ve got Overland Park, Lenexa, Shawnee, Leawood, Prairie Village, Mission, Olathe, and Kansas City (the Kansas version). So you’ve got a bazillion city governments, I think nine counties and of course two states. That’s partly why we don’t have good metro-wide public transportation.

          Hope that helps!

            1. edj3

              I was wondering where you were, other Elizabeth (I’m an Elizabeth also). No, I wouldn’t want to live in Springfield. Plus you’re close to that creepy Precious Moments place ::shudder::

  5. Come On Eileen

    Did you watch the season finale of How To Get Away With Murder, and if so, thoughts? I’m conflicted in how they semi-wrapped up the story.

    What are you watching now and loving? I’m trying to get into Backstrom.

    1. Jen RO

      Walking Dead, though the last two episodes have been kinda slow for me.

      Amazing Race – still entertaining despite the stupid dating twist. I felt bad for the first eliminated team and I was happy when the second one got eliminated.

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

      I pegged the reveal about 15 minutes before it happened — though in retrospect they dropped a few hints throughout the series, I feel like they did make a point of ramping it up in the finale. And I’m really bummed about that ending, though it does answer my “how the hell are they going to carry on to season 2” question.

      Hubby is currently watching Outlander — it’s making me grumpy because I absolutely adore the books, but he’s really liking it.

      1. Lipton Tea For Me

        The Outlander books were fantastic…she wrote that series from 1991 to the present. The Outlander series is great too and I cannot wait for it to come back on in April here in the USA.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m watching it now. Like, literally now. Multi-tasking!

      I started the new season of House of Cards yesterday. It’s…ok.

      We are big into Broad City and Empire right now. I LOVE EMPIRE. Cookie is the best character on TV right now, and Taraji P. Henson is unbelievably amazing.

      1. Stephanie

        Yeah, I started HoC today. It’s straining credulity a bit more than in past seasons. But it’s rainy here (and this means possible flash flooding) and I strained my shoulder, so bring on Francis.

        1. Audiophile

          I started HoC on Friday and made it about 15 minutes in before, my ISP and Netflix decided it wasn’t worth my time. I’ll get back into it at another point.

          I agree that it’s less credible this season. When it “accidentally” leaked two weeks ago and I came across a spoiler, I questioned it’s credibility at that point.

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      The middle dragged on and on, but I admit the end did have me shrieking “Whaaaaaaaaaaat!” at the TV. I was wrong about whodunit, and kind of “oh, duh” at the reveal. I don’t know that I’m going to pick it up next season, the annoying things outweigh the high points.

    5. Mimmy

      OMG, that season finale was IN. SANE. I thought it tied things up pretty well and had some crazy twists. But……there is definitely something weird between Annalise and Wes!

      Up next….House of Cards!

    6. reader

      Watch How/Murder. I keep wondering what they plan to do next year. Do they do it all again with another class? What will happen to this group? I did get to the point I just wanted to slap all of them and get to over with. I’m sure that I wouldn’t want any of them for my lawyer.

    7. Trixie

      Similar thoughts with The Mentalist. Everything about it I really enjoyed, and then they made Lisbon pregnant. Felt so thrown in there when she’s never talked about kids but usually the job she enjoyed so much. Maybe it wouldn’t have felt so clumsy if instead they had been looking at the house renovation plans, and she asked about an empty room for guests. Or whatever.

    8. Elizabeth West

      Waiting for Broadchurch and trying to avoid trailers. Watching The Walking Dead. I saw a headline in passing online “Will Daryl Die in Season 5?” and I was like, “THEY BETTER NOT!!!”

      I am an entire season behind in Agents of SHIELD. I think I may have to just give up. Stupid Netflix takes forever to get anything. :(

    9. Turanga Leela

      I found the reveal about who killed Lila underwhelming. A friend suggested that because you only see one side of the phone call,* and it’s cryptic, the call might have actually been to someone else or about something else…? I think ultimately, though, it’s just kind of a boring twist.

      Loved the ending, though. That character has been so unsatisfying that I’m happy with this twist.

      *Yes, I’m being coy.

      1. Persephone Mulberry

        * Oh, interesting…I never considered that the call might not have been to the killer directly, which means there’s only one logical way the “twist” could have happened which means…innnnteresting. I admit I like this theory.

    10. Stephanie

      I’ve fallen behind on How To Get Away With Murder due to my work schedule. Would you guys say it’s worth catching up on all the episodes?

      I had to give up on Scandal this season. It just got too ridiculous. I’ve heard this happens with Shonda Rhimes shows, but it still hurt when it took up permanent residence in Crazy Town. I miss Season 2 Scandal.

      1. Audiophile

        I haven’t watched any of Shonda Rhimes’ new shows. Long ago, I gave up on Grey’s Anatomy and in the few instances where I’ve caught a re-run on Lifetime, I stand by my decision.

        I tried to get into HTGAWM because, come on, it’s Viola Davis. But I couldn’t get into it. I may give it another shot.

      2. Persephone Mulberry

        Ooof, this is a toughie. Honestly, the only reason I kept up was because I like watching them before reading the recaps on Go Fug Yourself. Without those as motivation, I probably would have dropped off. (I almost gave up when the took that break, but I figured I’m in it this far, I might as well see how it ends.)

      3. Nina

        I gave up on HtgAwM, too. I tried keeping up because I love Viola Davis, but they’re all such awful people and I really didn’t care what happened to them. And the writing is just too over the top for me.

    11. the gold digger

      I watched season one of “Borgen,” which just reinforced my opinion that I want nothing to do with a life in politics.

      Then I started “The Bridge.” My library does not have the original series, but does have the US remake set in El Paso/Juarez. Excellent so far and making me miss Texas.

  6. Jen RO

    Dryers are not a thing here (yet), but I just got one. Any advice for a newbie? What can I dry, what can’t I dry? I’ve only tried it on some sheets so far and I’m kinda afraid I’ll kill all my tshirts!

    1. The Cosmic Avenger

      I put everything in the dryer. I even have a washable silk shirt that I tumble dry on low. If they’re tee shirts with print on them, get in the habit of turning them inside out when you take them off, or go through your laundry and turn them all inside out before you wash them.

    2. Sunflower

      I must admit I am not a big laundry person but I never dry my bras or bathing suits in the dryer. Anything cotton is fine. There are items that you can dry but people prefer not to. Denim jeans are one of those items- dryers will shrink them a bit so they can be a hassle to get on afterwards but they won’t perm. shrink and you’ll be able to get them on.

      I’m much more cautious about what I dry over what I put in the washer. If I have clothes from Forever21 or H&M, I usually don’t put them in the dryer just because they are made cheaply and they tend to last longer if I don’t.

      Just to be safe, read the tags on everything except 100% cotton. Often times there are small amounts of other material in clothing that make it not dryer safe. If I’m ever not sure, I just opt to not dry it.

      1. Sunflower

        Also you’d be surprised by the things that are dryer safe. Almost everything from The Limited and Loft aka all my work clothes are dryer safe!

      2. Jen RO

        At least half my wardrobe (though it’s probably more around 75%) comes from H&M and the like. I’m gonna try out drying the very basic stuff first, the things I won’t be too sad to see gone… and then move my way up!

        1. Sunflower

          Oddly enough most of H&M’s stuff says not to put it in the dryer, even the 100% cotton items.

    3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

      Don’t do bras or pantyhose/stockings, I find it ruins them really quickly. Almost everything else (unless the tag specifically says don’t tumble dry, like a few of my fancy dresses do) gets tossed in the dryer happily.

        1. TL -

          I put everything in except wool and super expensive nice things that specifically say don’t tumble dry and most of my clothes last probably 7-10 years. (Except jeans but I’m really rough on jeans).

          I’m also super good about separating, using delicate cycles, and reading clothing labels, so I think that helps.

      1. TL -

        I dry my bras and they last years and years! But – dry on low or delicate, in a good quality dryer, and make sure they’re hooked.

        1. Jen RO

          Hooked? As in, at the back?

          (To be honest I don’t take care of my clothes a lot, if the dryer takes a year or two off their lives I don’t care! I just don’t want to take something out and see it’s three times smaller or destroyed.)

          1. TL -

            Yeah, hooked on the back.

            (One should do this for the washer, too, honestly.)

            Oh, in that case, just don’t put wool in the dryer- wool shrinks but most other fabrics are pretty resilient – even silk can survive a few oopsies. If you’re worried, just put on a delicate low/no-heat cycle.

          2. Ann Furthermore

            Yes, I always make sure mine are hooked before I put them in the washer, so they don’t get caught on anything else while they’re being tossed around. I started doing this years ago when I opened the washing machine at the laundromat once, which had this kind of metal mesh stuff on the inside, to find that the hooks on all my bras had attached to it, and they were all hanging down, like it was some kind of bra garden.

            Also, for anything with a drawstring (hoodie, sweat pants, etc) I gather and tie in a sort of half-bow….hard to explain, but like tying a knot, but making a loop with the end of the string instead of pulling it through. Anyway….doing that keeps the strings from getting caught on anything, or wrapped around something else.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          I wash and dry my boss in a lingerie bag, on the delicate cycle. My dryer has a “air dry only — no heat” setting (lower than the delicate setting), and I use that for my bras and very delicate items.

            1. C Average

              I would sometimes like to dry my boss in a lingerie bag on the delicate cycle.

              True story: my mother once turned on the dryer with our cat in it. She’d left the dryer open to passive-aggressively remind teenage me to fold the laundry already. The cat thought it looked cozy and climbed in. My mom shut the dryer and turned it back on to fluff up the laundry. Thumping and yowling ensued. My mother crossed the room in one step to turn off the dryer–I’ve never seen ANYONE move so fast. The cat was fine.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian

                I would sometimes like to dry my boss in a lingerie bag on the delicate cycle.

                Ha. Me, too. I think the slip was Freudian.

          1. Swedish Tekanna

            It is probably my UK English holding me back here, but what is a boss? I tried googling but no luck yet.

            1. Mallory Janis Ian

              boss1
              bôs,bäs/
              informal
              noun
              1.
              a person in charge of a worker or organization.
              “I asked my boss for a promotion”
              synonyms: head, chief, director, president, principal, chief executive, chair, manager; More

              1. And then the Boo Keeper blushed at all the talk of (fill in the blank)

                Thank you. I missed the joke but oh well. Pleased to report we have bosses in all shapes and sizes this side of the Atlantic too.

    4. Wolfey

      My 2 cents: I tend to hang dry all thin or lacey things–chiffon tops, underwear, t-shirts with bling–because I think they last longer. I use the dryer for sheets, blankets, towels, t-shirts, sweatpants, jeans, etc. DON’T put wool in the dryer. And if you have a stain that didn’t come out in the washer, putting it in the dryer will set it and make it harder to get out.

      1. Jen RO

        T-shirts with bling – if the bling doesn’t fall off in the washer, does that mean they’ll be OK in the dryer too?

        1. Wolfey

          I turn them inside out in the washer and generally don’t take chances in the dryer, but more for the elasticity reasons other people have mentioned. Dryer heat kills elasticity and most of my shirts have some stretch in them that I try to preserve with hang drying. But if the bling doesn’t fall off in the washer it could probably survive the dryer.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          I turn blingy t-shirts inside out and put them in a lingerie bag. I hang them to dry, though. Not sure I couldn’t just dry them on low, but . . . habits.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I have a dryer, so I am not saying this to be negative- but dryers set stains. You cannot get the stain out after you dry it in the dryer. So watch your clothes as you toss them in the dryer.
      Dryers can also kill elastic. It could just be me, but I think clothes wear out a bit faster if you dry them constantly.

      So what I do, is I put heavier things in the dryer- jeans, towels, blankets, comforter, etc. If I have the time, I do not dry them all the way. I just get them part way dry. I like my jeans and towels to go through the dryer, I don’t like stiff jeans/towels- ugh. I also use my dryer for emergencies, like when I get up in the morning and realize, “Gee, I don’t have anything to wear to work today.”
      I don’t use it a lot, but I would not want to be without it, either.

      1. TL -

        I’ve gotten a few stains out after wash/dry cycles, actually. Some I can’t, some I can (and some I don’t care about). But it takes some doing with stain removers and hand washing to get them out.

          1. TL -

            Just a stain remover spray – the one in a red bottle?

            But I’m exceptionally stubborn and will scrub at stains for 20+ minutes and go multiple rounds with them over a period of days. I think one time I handwashed a shirt 3-5 times over 3 days, with at least 10 minutes for each washing period. Mostly hardheadedness.

            1. Not So NewReader

              I know what you mean. I do a similar thing with the stubbornness.
              Red bottle. I instantly thought of that carpet cleaner. hahaha.

              1. TL -

                Oh, yeah – I know the carpet cleaner! No, I just have a bad tendency to borrow my roommates’ stuff for stains – I mostly don’t have a problem with them, with the exception of bleach stains, which I can’t get out anyways.

                But they use something in a red spray bottle that works fairly well.

          2. Stephanie

            WD-40 is good for getting food/grease stains out. I would try this on anything super delicate, though.

          3. dangitmegan

            Felt Naptha gets almost everything out even things that have gone through the dryer. It’s the most amazing stuff…just wear gloves because it will dry your hands out. Pretty much every Wardrobe Sup I know swears by it.

    6. NZ

      We found that clothes made in countries where people do not typically use dryers are more likely to shrink in the dryer, because the fabric is less likely to have been pre-shrunk. When we moved to NZ, we could dry our American Tshirts fine, but learned to buy larger NZ and Aussie shirts if we planned to put them in the dryer. We also took to tumbling clothes that were dried on the line for 10 minutes in the dryer to soften and remove a lot of the wrinkles. We also found that our NZ dryer did not get as hot as our American one did.

      1. Jen RO

        Huh, ok, I wouldn’t have guessed. Most of my stuff is made in countries like Bangladesh and sold all over Europe… I hope they don’t shrink because I buy everything in my size, not larger.

        1. Anastasia Beaverhausen

          Stuff from like H&M will usually withstand the dryer (except for wool and other shrinking fabrics, obviously). Drying will make them wear out faster, as mentioned upthread, but they shouldn’t shrink.

    7. DeadQuoteOlympics

      I don’t put my delicates in the dryer, and never anything that is silk, linen, or wool. Be careful with cotton — sometimes it’s not pre-shrunk, sometimes it’s okay, sometimes (with denim with a bit of stretch), drying is necessary to get jeans back to the original fit.

      Be very serious about cleaning the lint screen every time. I know someone with a lot of rental properties and they’ve had more than one tenant start a house fire that originated with the dryer.

    8. A Teacher

      Don’t dry sweaters!!! I also hang dry all of my bras and most of my shirts. I “dry low” for most of my other clothes, but that’s just me!

    9. Elizabeth West

      I dry t-shirts, sweaters, and jeans on medium heat with a dryer sheet and then take them out and hang them up. Makes them last longer.
      Make sure you clean your lint filter often and every month or two, take off the hose thing on the back and vacuum out all the lint in the hose and in the back of the dryer. You don’t want it to build up because fire.

      1. Jen RO

        Um…what’s a dryer sheet? And my boyfriend was also telling me you can put *something* in there with your clothes to make them smell nice – something that’s not liquid like conditioner… any ideas what that might be?

        1. CoffeeLover

          You can buy packets of dryer sheets (they look like napkins) where you get your detergent. Just throw one sheet in with your cloths. It removes static and makes the cloths smell nice (probably what your boyfriend was talking about… unless he was talking about fabric softener but that’s part of washing).

          Something I don’t think anyone has mentioned is black clothing. This is a mistake I make time and time again. Drying black cloths (especially on high heat) will FADE the cloths. As a result I find myself always having to replace my black essentials due to fading. :(

          A good general rule with dryers is be careful with natural fibers and don’t worry too much about synthetics. Natural fibers are the ones that will shrink, pill and pull. Especially wool.

          1. Nashira

            And if one is allergic to fragrances, like I am, you can sometimes find these flexible balls (with soft spikes on them) by the fabric softeners too. They’re reusable, pretty gentle on the clothes, and help soften things quite well. They just sometimes get stuck in long sleeves.

          2. Natalie

            You don’t want to use dryer sheets or fabric softener with towels, though. It makes them less absorbent.

          3. Jen RO

            Ahhh, that makes sense! He was talking about “perfumed tissues” and that sounded wrong to me. I hope there *are* dryer sheets around here – I don’t know anyone else who has a dryer, so the market is probably pretty small.

            1. Not So NewReader

              You can make your own dryer sheets by taking fabric softener and spilling a little on to a clean rag. Toss the rag in with your stuff to be dried. Some people feel it’s cheaper to do this, too. I do it occasionally and because I try to use natural cleaners it was easier/cheaper to use something I have on hand.

            2. Anastasia Beaverhausen

              If not, check out Amazon, do they do free shipping to Romania if you spend over a certain amount? They used to do that for Belgium but sadly not anymore.

    10. super anon

      if you like to buy clothes from fast fashion places (like forever 21, h&m, etc) don’t put them in the dryer – hang them to dry instead. i find cheap clothing lasts way longer when it doesn’t go in the dryer.

    11. Monodon monoceros

      I grew up with a dryer and used to put everything in there, with really little thought to it. Now I live in Europe and don’t have a dryer and have found that my clothes are really holding up much longer. There are really only 2 things I miss the dryer for- towels (I’m getting used to crunchy towels, but I wish I could tumble them for a few minutes) and tumbling clothes to get dog/cat hair off! I bought a used condensing dryer here but it broke quickly and now I’m moving into a tiny place where I won’t have room for it anyway.

      1. Lizh

        I very rarely use my dryer. Growing up, dryer was a clothes line, or in winter a wooden rack inside. My not using a dryer is more because of thrift. My electric bill is very low in non summer months when the ac isn’t running.
        I can count on one hand the number of times per year that I use my dryer.
        From about mid April to mid October, I put them outside to dry. My racks are on my lower level deck, tucked away from neighbor eyes and people who might report me to the HOA.

      2. Andrea

        Have you tried putting vinegar in the rinse cycle, or running an extra wags or rinse with vinegar? I found it really helped my crunchy towels, but I suppose it could be detergent specific.

        1. Andrea

          Heh. I meant extra wash cycle or rinse cycle. I think the vinegar changes the PH which makes the soap come out and the clothes softer.

        2. Connie-Lynne

          When I lived in Southern California, I line-dried pretty much everything, and vinegar in the final rinse definitely made my clothes less crunchy!

        3. Monodon monoceros

          I will try that. I don’t use fabric softener with towels because I don’t think they are as absorbent but the vinegar is a good idea.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Please be careful doing this. There should be two filters on a dryer. One you should clean frequently. The other depending on how much you use the dryer should be cleaned a couple times a year.

          If these filters are not cleaned.. not trying to scare you… you could have a fire. It takes a lot to make it get that hot. But learn where the filters are and check them if you are going to use this to remove pet hair. Once you see where they are you’ll see it’s pretty easy to clean them. You just collect the lint/hair up with your fingertips.

          1. Jen RO

            We did three or four loads yesterday and the lint filter was almost full :o And the clothes really did look a little less “furry”… win! I will make sure to clean it often!

            1. Monodon monoceros

              yeah, I used to clean out the one filter after each load. The dryer is more efficient that way, too.

        2. Monodon monoceros

          Yeah, definitely clean the filters often, but tumbling clothes in the dryer will remove a good amount hair.

    12. abby

      Haven’t read all comments yet. I dry many things, but I avoid drying: 1) bras; 2) any clothing with UPF; 3) lycra-based stuff, like my bicycle gear; 4) anything I might have to iron afterwards- I am lazy; 4) clothes that might tighten up too much (this varies, I am a little pudgy now and some clothing is verging on being too tight- letting it air dry usually means a better fit).

      1. abby

        A dryer is real handy when your washer breaks and won’t spin/drain the water out of the washer.

        1. Monodon monoceros

          Beware, though, I did this once when my washer stopped spinning fully…I quickly burned out the dryer motor because the clothes were too darn wet. I learned the hard way that in that situation its better to hand wring them out and let them hang dry, then maybe finish them in the dryer after they’re as dry as they would be if the washer was working properly.

    13. Kyrielle

      Check tags and see if they tell you – anything that says not to dry it, I wouldn’t put in the dryer. Anything that does, I’ll happily put in the dryer. It may take a bit of time off them, but enh, it’s convenient.

  7. Kay

    Can we talk house-buying? What’s the one thing you wish you’d asked about the house you bought? What’s a deal-killer for you?

    We might be putting in an offer on Monday and even though I feel like I have every possible duck in a row I am terrified! So many zeroes on the dotted line!

    1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

      I wish I’d asked about modifications previous owners had made. Our house came with an in-built stereo/speakers in the wall of the kitchen, they’re great for bluetoothing Spotify through. Pulled out one of the speakers one day after moving in to see how big they are — and someone has hacked away at a load-bearing post with what seems to be a kitchen knife in order to ensure the speaker would fit in the right place O_o

      Deal-killer for me is BOTH an old bathroom and old kitchen. I can cope with one or the other, but at least one has to be modern.

    2. danr

      Make your offer contingent on a good home inspection. You should really have one before putting in an offer. But be aware that they don’t find everything. When we sold our old house (the main part was pre-colonial) we had our own home inspection, a buyer who backed out had his own inspection, and the eventual buyers had their own. They were all different and you would have thought that three different houses were inspected. In the end there were a few items that needed to be fixed before the buyers moved in. We got estimates from local professionals that we dealt with for the repairs and after the sale put that money to the side in our attorney’s escrow account to be paid on presentation of a bill for the work. Everyone was happy. The sale went through, the work was performed at the buyer’s convenience and the buyers had local professionals to call on.

      1. blackcat

        So I bought in a very “hot” market and waived inspection–I felt more comfortable because my agent was AWESOME and did serious snooping before hand.

        We did have a proper inspection after we closed. It was TREMENDOUSLY helpful–it was someone our agent recommended. He took 3 hours and showed us all of the quirks we needed to know or deal with. We got a 30+ page report, complete with pictures, detailing everything we went over. It was more than other options (all told, I think it was $600?), but so, so worth it, particularly as first time home buyers. If you’re in New England, it’s MKC Associates.

        A really good inspector is well worth the extra money.

      2. super anon

        “Make your offer contingent on a good home inspection. You should really have one before putting in an offer.”

        i find it very interesting to hear how real estate works in other places! my boyfriend is a realtor and here you have to have an accepted offer first before you can do an inspection. after the inspection you can either remove subjects, update the subjects/price depending on what is found in the inspection, or withdraw the offer completely.

        1. Windchime

          I think that might be what Danr was saying. I’ve bought three different homes (all in the US), and the way it has always worked for me is that I make the offer, but there is a contingency that I can withdraw my offer if the home inspection turns up a deal-breaker. The seller accepts (or counter-offers until we reach an agreed-upon price). Then comes the home inspection; if the inspector finds something, we either make a price adjustment, the owner agrees to fix it or I can back out of the deal.

    3. YWD

      My first purchase was a garden style condo. I wish I had looked at it when the neighbors upstairs were at home because their floors were super creaky and I heard every step they took!

      My current house I have no regrets but there were a couple others that I put offers on that didn’t work out. I drive by them regularly and have noticed things I didn’t before and would not have liked about living in them:
      – traffic patterns on the street
      – lack of sunlight / too many trees on the lot
      – other houses in the area not well maintained

      Good luck!

    4. reader

      Have you been by the house at varies times of the day, days of the week? Had a friend who only saw a house on the weekends. Didn’t really think about how much more difficult it was go to be to get in and out of the driveway on a work day. The road got a lot of traffic (and they only worked down the road). Also the noise level.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      The state of the roof!

      Having had many repairs, leaks and mould issues due to a roof that has needed work several times and costing alot of money, I wish I’d known about it. All the owners (there’s 6 of us) have spent a heap of money on it in the past few years.

      I also agree with at least one of the bathroom and/or kitchen being modern.

    6. Soupspoon McGee

      I wish I’d asked whether the basement leaked and how or whether it had been addressed. I also wish I’d dug more about how recently some of the updates (wiring, insulation) had been done.

      Also, I bought an older home from a couple who did a lot of work themselves. The upstairs shower had a small leak, and I was too naive to realize I could have contacted them via my realtor to have it fixed before shelling out $900 to fix a series of errors. I think the home came with a one-year warrenty, and I just didn’t understand how critical it was to use it.

    7. Soupspoon McGee

      Go to the house at different times and days. Drive and walk the neighborhood. Explore routes to and from main roads. There’s a church and flea market down the road from us, and on busy days, parking flows into our neighborhood. I did not spot that until after I’d moved in.

      1. Windchime

        Yep. I got burned on my first home purchase. The neighborhood seemed fine during the day, but it was teeming with drug-related traffic at night. I didn’t do my research. When I bought my second house in the same town, you’d better believe that I visited it several times during the night and on weekends to make sure that it was quiet. I literally drove down the street and parked in front of the house in the middle of the night to see what kind of stuff happened there at night.

        One thing I wish I had thought about more before I bought this house–what will be built behind it? My house was surrounded by empty fields and it was so quiet and pretty at first. And then the plat was sold and they built a bunch of gigantic, cheap McMansions behind me. So now my back yard is a fishbowl.

    8. Liz in a Library

      I only did one inspection, and they didn’t do an awesome job. Next time, I’m doing at least two from different companies. I’d highly recommend that.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian

        My parents-in-law hired my mother-in-law’s no- account brother to “inspect” the home that we later bought from them. He gave them two enthusiastic thumbs up and said there were no problems. Au contraire, mon frere! The place is a regular enigma of odd ( and not in a good way) construction. We should have had it reinspected by a real inspector.

    9. periwinkle

      To reiterate what’s already been pointed out – visit the house (or at least drive by) at different times of the day. We just bought a house (moved in a week ago!) at the very end of the cul-de-sac. It didn’t sink in until after we started living there that the driveway access was narrow (our lot is basically a pie wedge) and the cul-de-sac didn’t have a streetlight. I leave for work by 6am and it’s challenging in the dark!

      And yes, hire a home inspector even if your lender doesn’t require it. Ours discovered that the water heater (newly installed after the previous owners moved out) wasn’t installed correctly. I made sure that our inspection contingency mandated that the seller bring in an electrician and do it right, and that they would have to purchase a replacement water heater if necessary. It was and they did.

    10. Barbara in Swampeast

      For a home inspector, find one through these organizations.
      International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI)
      http://www.nachi.org/

      American Society of Home Inspectors, ASHI
      http://www.ashi.org/

      Go to the inspection so the inspector can point out things and explain them.

    11. Elsajeni

      I bought my house in late spring, and I wish I’d given more thought to what it would be like in winter. We have a two-story living room that’s overlooked by the upstairs landing, and we noticed the temperature difference between living room and upstairs when we looked at the house, but we worried about it only in terms of “Is it always going to be hot upstairs?” Which it is, in summer — but the thermostat is upstairs, too, so turning it down when we’re up in the bedroom actually works to keep it cooler. No power on earth can make our living room warm in the winter — the warm air just comes out the vents, rises straight up onto the landing, heats up the thermostat and turns the damn heat back off without ever coming near the sofa.

    12. NacSacJack

      Find out what house insurance will cost and when it is needed. Up front? At closing? Before closing? The stuff I found out after buying the house is stuff that the owner would not necessarily know or reveal, such as mice issue or the basement bathroom shower drain not hooked to the sewer system, but just pointed to the hidden floor drain.

    13. Gene

      Is there a Home Owners Association?

      How active (nosy/intrusive/full of busybodies) is it?

      What are the dues?

  8. Sunflower

    Anyone who cooks/uses coconut oil

    Just started cooking with it and am trying to use it more. What are your favorite dishes?

    Also I can NEVER get the jar lid open! Tried running it under hot water and nada. Banging the lid it with the handle of a butter knife kind of worked but so frustrating. Anyone have any good tips for how to keep this from continuily happening?? I’m using Spectrum unrefined organic.

    1. Madeye Moody

      I use it to toast bread on a skillet, yummy!
      I had the same issue, and started storing mine in the cabinet right above the stove, I guess the heat from the stove keeps the oil on the rim from solidifying?

    2. Marzipan

      If you’re having trouble opening a jar, wear rubber gloves when you open it. Gives you a much better grip.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I can’t help you with the jar thing, but I love coconut oil! We initially bought it because it’s good for doggies (1 tsp/day in his food helps his skin stay shiny and staves off the yeasty beasties), but I started cooking with it too. My current favorite is roasted sweet potatoes: melt 1 tbsp coconut oil in the microwave, toss it in a Ziploc with sweet potato chunks, salt and pepper, spread sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. SO GOOD.

      I also use it as my oil base for curries, both Thai and Indian.

      1. Revanche

        Oh that’s a great idea, I’ve been thinking about how else to help the dog’s very dry and still fragile skin. Will have to pick some up. Where do you get yours?

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          The supermarket! Just get regular coconut oil, but make sure it’s virgin and unrefined. It’s pricey, but a little goes a long way.

          My buddy also gets 2 pumps of salmon oil in his kibble every morning. (He’s 57 lbs.) It cuts down immensely on his shedding. Salmon jerky treats had the same benefit. He has a lovely shiny coat (he’s a mountain cur/hound mix, so short-haired).

    4. Revanche

      I put a rubber band around the lid for grip. Even with my crappy hands that tends to work! The water under tap thing stopped working for me a while ago.

    5. Treena Kravm

      I use it mostly in curries, and any Asian-inspired dish. I also switched to using it to pop my popcorn instead of canola/vegetable, and it’s delicious!

      I’ve also never had a problem opening the jar. It’s usually warm in my kitchen and mostly liquid.

    6. Stephanie

      Popcorn! And I also have used it in a couple of vegan baking recipes.

      I also like it as a skin and hair moisturizer.

    7. blue_eyes

      I like using it for granola, or in rice (it just gives the rice a slight coconut fragrance). My cousin uses it when making eggs and they are pretty good once you get used to the coconut flavor on eggs.

    8. oh anon

      We have a gas stove, so we just turn a burner on & heat the edge of the lid for a few seconds while twirling it. The lid will come off easily then. I like to make pancakes using coconut oil, instead of butter or vegetable oil.

    9. AmyNYC

      I just used some in banana nut muffins (in place of butter/canola) and also wiped some in the muffin tins. They turned out delicious!

    10. HAnon

      I’ve been using it in place of other oil/butter to brown meats and vegetables on the stove. Works fine, doesn’t give off much of a coconut taste (to me). Do be forewarned that it does have a lower smoking point than some other cooking oils.

  9. The Strand

    Ladies of Missalonghi is a great short novel by Colleen McCullough if you’re looking for something shorter than The Thorn Birds.

  10. Sunflower

    Update on the dye stain on my shirt from the hair stylist. They didn’t call me back all of Monday which was annoying so I called Tuesday morning. She said take it to the dry cleaner and they’ll pay for it and we’ll go from there. So good news is it came out! I am obviously going to have them reimburse me for the dry cleaning but should I expect something else? I’d probably be okay if they wanted to give me a gift card or reimburse me for the service(it was only $25). But I’m really not sure if I’d want to go back there honestly…

    1. YWD

      I didn’t read your original post about it so don’t have the whole story. I had that happen once and was reimbursed for the cleaning. Since then I usually wear an older shirt that I won’t miss if something happens to it.

      Many salons are closed Sunday and Monday so that could be a reason for the delay in getting back to you.

    2. Anonsie

      I didn’t see the last post, but my (permanent) hair dye always washes out of fabrics for me just fine. I use white towels and it still comes out right regular detergent.

  11. Weasel007

    I just fractured the top of my foot. Irony was that I was getting up to go get my previously purchased treadmill. This boot hurts.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Ugh, I feel your pain. Almost literally– I broke four bones in my right foot last year and have had multiple stress fractures in both feet over the years. The boot sucks, but I highly recommend you pad very well around those plastic pieces– don’t let them cut into your skin. I developed bad abrasions which I treated with Neosporin and Aquaphor.

      In the realm of unsolicited advice… are you getting physical therapy? The best thing I did for my break was to see a PT– otherwise, it would never have healed properly.

      I wish you a speedy recovery!

    2. Windchime

      Oh, ouch! I was in a boot for about 3 months last year. Things that I found helpful were to make sure that I didn’t have it adjusted too tight OR too loose. I also put a gel insole in the bottom of the boot because it was so hard. Finally, I would wear thick, comfy socks around my foot to add more cushioning.

      Good luck. It’s a pain in the butt to have to wear a boot. Hopefully you won’t have to be in it for too long.

      1. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

        Yep, although hubby had to pull me out! It’s one of those old wicker armchairs, so now kitty has a new playground which she’s delighted by, and I’m sitting on the other armchair hoping it stays together ;)

    1. Elizabeth West

      Oh no!
      That happened to me with my old daybed. It was just old and had had enough. I have a futon for a couch now but I really don’t like it much. It’s too low to the ground.

    1. Josh S

      And if you don’t know what Ingress is, you should start playing. Because it’s fun and awesome, and a great way to explore the world around you. Kind of a cross between capture the flag & geocaching, set in a video game that requires you to get off your couch and actually walk around in the real world (it uses your phone’s GPS to put you in your real location in the real world. Fun!)

      https://www.ingress.com/

    2. Ruth (UK)

      I don’t play though I tried at one point before discovering my windows phone won’t let me. 2 of my friends play a lot and I am now glad I don’t.

      I think it depends on the player but in their case I don’t think it encourages them to walk around in the real world (as you mentioned in one of your follow up comments). We live in a historical city and it seems many portals are reachable from their house and mine. I think it instead encourages them to wander from room to room in my house, glued to their phone when visiting. It encourages them to be continually distracted from conversation when their portals are hacked.

      They don’t go anywhere different or new or change their walking route due to portals or looking for them, they simply keep their eye on their phone all the time because they’re looking out in case they can hack one.

      They got into a weird ingress-dual with their neighbour since a portal was in reach from both their houses so they’d just sit trying to hack the same portal all day.

      One friend’s phone started glitching and reckoned she was ages and ages from where she actually was. She ended up randomly hacking portals in whatever location her phone thought she was in.

      I guess it depends on how you play but in their case it’s just yet another thing sticking them to their phones.

      I can see how it can be enjoyable though, especially if you go about it in a way more similar to how people go about geocaching.

      1. Josh S

        Yeah, I’ve been playing over 2 years, and there’s all kinds of types of players. I make a point of putting my phone down when with friends (unless they are also Ingress friends, around specifically to do Ingress stuff) or at work.

        Tell your friends that they can hack on the way to/from your place, but that when they’re inside they need to be off the app. Or else they have to recycle a Flip Card. (They’ll understand.) Problem Solved.

        1. Ruth (UK)

          I think it’s like anything – it’s how you go about it.

          However, I can see the draw and it’s interesting that it’s a game that interacts with the world around you instead of being totally just… a phone game. You know what I mean.

          When my friends first discovered it, I was of course interested enough to try getting it on my phone too (but my phone wouldn’t support the app).

          It’s possibly better than being glued to solitaire at least! (honestly, I used to play a LOT of phone solitaire… oops)

      1. Jen RO

        Ok, this looks fun, and I find it very amusing that one of the portals is the tiny post office nearby. (Yes I did join the Resistance, Josh.)

        1. Josh S

          When the game first started, they seeded portals for public libraries, post offices, and a handful of well known landmarks from another service called Panoramio. Users can now submit portals as points of interest….there’s some definite creativity involved at times.

          Hope you enjoy the game!

          1. Jen RO

            It looks fun! I’m at someone’s place and there is a thing across the street, but it’s trying to kill me.

    3. MJ

      We have two portals at the library where I work. It is funny to watch people out the window, standing in the middle of this little circle of handprints in the concrete on our plaza. I keep expecting them to be beamed up or something.

      1. Josh S

        I always wonder what Ingress players look like to people who don’t play, and if they know why people are walking around in circles staring at their phones.

        1. Ruth (UK)

          To be honest, most of the population these days walk around in circles staring at their phones so I don’t thin ingress would players stand out…

    4. Noah

      Just downloaded the app and signed up. I joined the Enlightened because it looked like the smaller group in my area.

    5. Gene

      Because of Ingress, in the last 8 months I’ve walked at least 600 km I wouldn’t have otherwise walked.

    1. danr

      Use a frying pan with a little oil, and remove your smoke detector if one is close by. If you can’t remove it, set up a fan to blow the smoke away from it. Or, broil them in your oven. If you don’t have a broiler pan, use a roasting pan with a rack in it.

    2. Josh S

      Preheat your oven to 325*F.

      Heat a cast iron skillet on high heat with a bit of oil/butter in it. Sear your steak in the cast iron til it’s browned on both sides, then put the whole thing into the oven to finish.

      Since you’re going to do a stir fry, I might even skip the oven. Just sear and then cut the steak into thin slices, cutting across the grain of the meat. Then take the (very rare) pieces of steak and stir fry them with your veggies and sauce. By that point you should be fully cooked through and safe to eat.

      Enjoy!

      1. Nashira

        This is the One True Way to cook steaks. They come out really beautifully, with a little practice, and now I’m wishing it wasn’t finals week so I could make steak for dinner. Ah well!

    3. Algae

      Bring to room temperature. Salt and pepper them and put some olive oil on them. Pan sear them on the stove, only about 30 seconds on both sides. Stick in an oven pre-heated to 500 degrees for two to three minutes, flip, give another two to three minutes.

  12. Audiophile

    This is the last week of my comedy workshop class. I’ve really, really enjoyed it. I’m hoping to do another open mic tomorrow. Our class show will be in two weeks, at the Comic Strip. Then I’m really on my own to try to get on stage as much as possible.

    I really need a better job, something straight 9-5. I’m tired of my current gig and my hours have been all over the place since I came back in August. We just had the new person quit, but they scheduled the person for overnight even though they were told this person was leaving. So now I’m stuck here, doing a double (probably a triple). I know that’s slight work related but…oh well.

    I’m excited to see where this takes me. I’ve gotten great feedback from my fellow classmates on my material and when I did my one open mic, I got laughs out of all my jokes. I’m headed in the right direction, I think.

    1. Stephanie

      Oooh, that’s exciting! Friends have urged me to try standup for years. It’s definitely on my list of things to try. I did dip my toes into the comedy waters and did improv classes for about a year.

      1. Audiophile

        You should. I’ve really enjoyed performing in front of my classmates. But I’m definitely itching to go do another open mic.
        Stephanie, you should definitely try it. Once I really started to think about my day-to-day life, I realized I have some decent material. I really wished I had forced myself to go up in the fall.

  13. AvonLady Barksdale

    I have had a cold for 10 days now. A bad one. I am constantly reminding myself that the common cold can last up to 14 days, and thankfully I feel a ton better than I did last weekend, but the stuffiness can go away now. This lingering cough is so awful. Several times this week, I dissolved into coughing fits that made me panic because they were so violent. They’ve mostly subsided, but this sucks.

    Any recommendations for this stage of the game? I’m going out tonight and planning to drink a Penicillin or two (bourbon, lemon, ginger), and really trying to get some rest, but does anyone have a magic home remedy for the tail end of a cold?

    1. Not So NewReader

      I like vitamin D for coughs, from a natural source, not a synthetic D. For me it works better than cough syrup. Like you’re saying I was getting that scary coughing. I started using the D and I haven’t had that since. It’s been years. As you can guess, I have a bottle in the house just in case. May not work for everyone, though.

    2. danr

      Mucinex for congestion and Mucinex DM for coughs. Just the regular strength pills and one pill every 12 hours or so work just fine for me.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Oh definitely– I swear by Mucinex DM and have been taking it. I can’t imagine what the cough would be like without it!

          1. fposte

            When I had the medieval cough last year and researched cough medication, research generally said nothing works much, but honey works a little, and it’s a heck of a lot easier to take than cough syrup.

            1. Nashira

              My favorite is black tea with a bunch of honey and a sliver of fresh ginger or a pinch of dried. I add the ginger since, due to Reasons, coughing a lot tends to make me kinda nauseous and the ginger takes the edge off. Also, it’s delicious.

    3. Lore

      I actually do find the bourbon helps at this stage! (And I too am prone to the scary coughing fits at the end.) Being really well hydrated helps with the coughing. Also hot tea but less hot than you’d normally drink tea–also with honey and lemon. Tiny sips when you feel the coughing fit begin. Stash used to make a particular Darjeeling green tea that was especially magical for this purpose but I haven’t seen it lately.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        The funny thing is, I went with the bourbon at the beginning– I probably should have kept at it! The first two days of this, I drank bourbon, hot water, lemon juice, and grated ginger. It did nothing, but then, the virus won everything at that point.

        I’ll be sure to ask for extra bourbon in that penicillin tonight. :)

    4. Wolfey

      If you have a sore throat I haven’t found anything more effective than boiling some fresh sage into tea. Doesn’t taste great, but it temporarily takes away pain better than other remedies I’ve tried. For coughs I dose up on Robitussin or Nyquil-I’d love to see what other people do.

    5. Weasel007

      I recommend rock n rye whisky for this crud everyone has. You can find a recipe for a hot toddy that includes some honey, the whiskey, a half of a lemon squeezed and hot water. It chases out the cold, and lets you rest. The whisky is very very sweet already. I also found that throat coat tea helps and a humidifier right next to the bed. Best of luck recovering.

    6. Stephanie

      Neti pot, hot tea, humidifier, and/or Mucinex to thin out the mucus. That will help with the cough.

    7. Ask a Manager Post author

      I may have shared this here before but I swear this is magic:
      Boil some water. Slice some ginger and put it in the hot water and let it sit and steep for 10 minutes. Remove the ginger. To the water, add honey, lemon, and as much cayenne pepper as you can stand. Sip.

      I also became a Mucinex fan during a horrific cold last fall.

    8. Dynamic Beige

      A client of mine told me what they do in their family when they feel like they are starting to get sick. You need a good bottle of vodka that is not flavoured, like Stoli. She was very specific about that, the flavoured stuff doesn’t work. Put it in the freezer, it won’t freeze. Before you go to bed, pour a shot and down it in one go (or as close to it as you can, I can’t do it). I quickly brush my teeth before going to bed so I don’t have vodka mouth. I’ve done it a few times and it does seem to work. And yes, they are Russian, why do you ask?

    9. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests

      My daughter and I argue over this whenever it comes up, but I’m a firm believer in Orange juice, and lots of it. Before, during, and after a cold. She’ll say “But yadda yadda yadda” and I’ll say “Show me your Nobel?”

      Also: this will be of limited usefulness, I know, but I’ve noticed that the cavity above one’s mouth (ie, above the soft palette) will tend to be swollen and will accumulate ‘stuff’ during the worst of a cold. Removing the ‘stuff’ seems to help the cold clear more quickly. Come to think of it, this may be what those Neti pot things are for?

    10. Turanga Leela

      For stuffiness, take a long, hot shower. Turn off any vents in your bathroom—you want the steam to build up. When you get out of the shower, sit in the bathroom for as long as you can stand it. I’d have a bathrobe and a book waiting to make it more comfortable. If you hate long showers, you can get a similar effect by buying a face steamer.

      Also, drink lots of fluids, and try to wipe your nose rather than blowing it or sniffing. You’re trying to get mucus out of your face, and at least according to my family, blowing your nose pushes some of the mucus back up into your sinuses.

    11. Erin

      My husband and I were just talking about this. We have an almost 6 year old, a 3 year old, and are about to have a newborn any day now. He loves 2 and a half to 4 the most so far, though he is looking forward to the sweet snuggly baby phase. I love newborns, but I find older babyhood challenging. Like you, I didn’t know what to do with a baby to entertain them. I found a book about activities to do with babies and toddlers that really helped!

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Good, because I thought you were going to tell me that I should have a baby to help my cold, and I would have wondered how my mother found this site. :)

    12. AvonLady Barksdale

      Thank you, everyone! I will put some of this in practice today. Maybe not the vodka… :) Last night, my favorite bartender at my favorite cocktail bar used me as her guinea pig for a few awesome citrus-and-ginger cocktails she’s working on, and damn if I didn’t feel better for a while. Still cough-y, but as there’s freezing rain outside, I have the available nap-time to drink hot liquids and try to feel better.

      1. Windchime

        I’ve got a terrible cold, too, and it has triggered an asthma attack. I think I’m going to run to the store for some Mucinex, Nyquil and ginger.

    13. Connie-Lynne

      When I had a cough that wouldn’t go away for months, my doctor prescribed tessalon pearls. They’re like a wonder drug — my six-month cough went away after two days!

      Apparently they’re normally used to treat asthma but they can treat any kind of cough that is caused by the muscles spasming because they’ve forgotten how not to keep spasming.

    14. Nina

      Co-sign on Mucinex, it’s pretty effective as long as you take it regularly. Also tea and plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and thins any mucus (ew, I know) in your chest. I had that same cold in January and even though the cold went away in a week, the coughing persisted for days. I was almost delirious from lack of sleep, so the doctor ended up prescribing an antibiotic (apparently the cough had infected my chest) and codeine cough syrup so I could sleep. You have my sympathies. I hope you feel better soon!

  14. Sandy

    Are there certain ages/stages that you enjoy more or less in kids?

    I was a camp counsellor for years and a sailing instructor as well. I love the 8-12 age group. Old enough to be interesting and independent, not (usually) old enough to have crazy teenage hormones.

    We have a newborn at the moment (2.5 months) and I am completely stumped by her. Once she’s woken up and been fed and changed, I swear we just sort of stare at each other. Maybe babies just aren’t my ‘thing’.

    1. TL -

      I completely dislike babies, even the ones I’m related to and love. They…rather bore me, unfortunately.

      But 2-5 yrs old – awesome! I love the toddler/hyperactive age. Not too fond of preteens in large groups, though individually they tend to be fine, and I get along great with high school kids.

    2. danr

      Talk to her about what you’re doing and what you see. She’ll be talking back to you in no time, and then won’t be quiet. [grin].

      1. Artemesia

        My grandchild is incredibly advanced verbally and I think it is because her mother talked to her from birth on and read to her from birth on. Kids really learn language early from the interaction with their primary caretaker.

        I loved babyhood and I loved the years between 7 and 12 when they still think you are the greatest and are also mildly sensible and self sufficient. For me the years from 2-5 were the most difficult.

      2. blue_eyes

        Exactly! Tell her what you’re doing, talk about what you see around you, sing, read books, surround her with (age-appropriate) toys and other things to touch. It will feel silly at first, but have conversations with her. Treat what ever she is looking at, touching, sounds she’s making as her contribution to the conversation. “Yes, that is a yellow ducky. I see, it does make a squeaky noise when you chew on it.”

      3. Ask a Manager Post author

        My mom says that she used to read me and my sister the Wall St. Journal every day when we were babies, because she wanted to read it herself anyway and figured it would be good for us to hear the language. We both ended up as writer-y people, so who knows.

        1. Turanga Leela

          I’ve heard that Chelsea Clinton reads the news to her baby, too. I love this idea.

    3. Lizzie

      I’m not a baby person at all, and not much for kids under 5 in general. (I do partially chalk this up to lack of exposure though – I have very few friends with small kids where I live, and I don’t go back home to see my friends with offspring more than once every six months or so.) I’ve taught every grade from 1st-7th and like very different things about all of them, but I also think that I like that 8-12 year old group (so about 3rd-6th grade) best.

    4. MJ

      I really enjoyed the 4-5 stage as well. They are gaining independence and becoming interesting conversationalists. They are very curious at this age and full of happy energy.

    5. Kimmy Gibbler

      I have enjoyed my kids more and more as they’ve grown older. Babies are adorable but I so much more appreciate kids who can talk and share the amazing crazy thoughts in their heads. My boys now are 11 and 13, and I so deeply appreciate the independence they now have and to me this is such an amazing age as I can relate to them more as real verging on adult people with thoughts and opinions and awesome things to talk about. I had always wished for girls, but now that we’re headed into the teen years, I so, so appreciate the fact that I have boys. So many of my friends with girls at similar ages are filled with stories of mean girl drama.

      1. Windchime

        I also had/have two boys (they are now adults). I loved the teenage years; it was so fun to see them develop into people with their own ideas and characteristics. I also loved having their friends at my house. I cooked lots of big pots of spaghetti and grilled a LOT of hamburgers during those years. I would buy 3-4 gallons of milk a week. Boys and their friends eat a LOT!

    6. Children's entertainer here

      I am a children’s entertainer. My target market is kids age 3-8. My favorite age is kids that are 5-7. They are old enough to understand magic and tell me when I doing it wrong. (A big part of children’s entertainment is messing things up so the kids can correct you.) But they are also young enough that they like all of the silliness. That’s my favorite age.

      Also, they are very creative and uninhibited at that age. When I ask them to tell me a joke, they will make one up on the spot. The older kids never do that. The younger kids don’t care if it’s funny (or they are confident that it is funny), they are just proud of their joke.

    7. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests

      I thoroughly loved my kids (girl and boy) ages 0 through 15 or so. Past that, they were sometimes “challenging”. They’re both in college now. I should be more thankful that they seem to be turning out well.

      (Don’t get me wrong: I still love ’em lots. It’s just that … it’s been a truism in my family for many, many years that I am smart, creative, and a HUGE pain in the ass. And surprise, my daughter and my son are like that, too. Only more so. And there’s two of them).

      One surprise for me was that I didn’t have any problem at all with diapers or vomit or any of the grottiness associated with childhood. With *my* kids. Other people’s kids – I can’t deal. But *my* kids poop sugar :)

    8. Ann Furthermore

      I have enjoyed most of the stages with my daughter, while being amazingly frustrated by her at the same time.

    9. Jessica

      Hoo boy, I hear you. I am a parent to a seven year old, the vast majority of that time as a single parent. I don’t think being single has that much bearing on this situation, except maybe that the extra stress I was going through at the time skewed my experience. I’ll never know.

      I’m not a baby person or even a kid person, really. It took me a long time to realize that was the case and that that’s OK, even as a parent. I adore my child and we have such a wonderful relationship; she is the most fascinating person in the world to me. However, I hate the idea that the mere act of becoming a parent makes everything about parenting “natural” when you’re really just thrown into it. I had a really hard time with the newborn stage, but when she started smiling and laughing, I couldn’t get enough. And then it was great for a while, then she went through a phase where it was rough again. It’s been like that for her whole life and far more of it has been awesome than has been bad.

      Like many people said, reading books aloud is a lifesaver. There will be plenty of time to read kid books when they are older. I used to read my daughter Stephen King. It was great. Darn her impressionable little mind now.

    10. Puffle

      Definitely. I work with kids aged 4 to 15, and I struggle with children under 6 years old. I don’t know why! I just don’t find that I ‘mesh’ with them well, so to speak, and I get worn out after a little while around them. On the other hand, I get on great with the 8 to 11 year olds. They’re smart and funny and haven’t yet reached the awkwardness of teenagers (don’t get me wrong, I like teenagers an awful lot as well, but like the younger kids I find them a bit tiring to be around).

      No real advice on the baby front, sorry, but you’re not alone in preferring some stages!

    11. Anonsie

      I love tweeny-aged kids. Like 8-14 is the best, I love grumpy little middle schoolers. People are always surprised when I say this because for some reason everyone hates grumpy tweens but I think they’re pretty cool, I don’t know why everyone hates it when they get to that age.

      1. Nancypie

        Because when you’re their mother, they can be brutally mean. It’s painful when the little sweet child who thought you were the best starts to think you’re an idiot.

    12. C Average

      Yeah, babies are basically just inert sacs of fluid who periodically erupt. They get more interesting and less volatile, thank heavens.

    13. Lulubell

      As a fellow former camp counselor, I also love the, say, 10-12 age group. Like you said, old enough to be independent, but young enough to still be cutesy and huggy and think everything you do is the bees knees. I am a Big Sister to a girl who is 10, almost 11, and she is just that – old enough to do fun stuff with, but young enough that she hasn’t yet learned sarcasm, eye-rolling, and all the other stuff teenagers are associated with.

    14. Sunflower

      i like the 8-12 group. Same reasons as you. I don’t care for infants much. Really anyone over age 5 I like. 5 seems to be the age where they start making things up and I can’t help but think the stuff is hilarious. My roommates are both elementary school teachers and the stories they come home with are so funny.

    15. Connie-Lynne

      This is going to sound nuts, but I prefer teenagers! They’re old enough to have some really good conversations with and they’re just trying out the notion of having opinions different from Mom and Dad. They can usually entertain themselves for reasonable time periods, too, if you’re having to watch them.

      Plus, they’re so adorable when they think they’re being grownup.

    16. Kyrielle

      I really thought I wouldn’t like the baby stage (no interaction), but it turns out that as soon as my oldest could smile when he saw me, or wave his hands, I was hooked. So far, my oldest is six, and I kinda prefer the 2-year-old phase to be honest (active, giggly, and -expected- to be off the wall … he still is, and it’s not as expected and we’re dealing with, but stress).

      I think I’m probably going to like 8-12 quite a lot when we get there, if I had to guess, but this weird in-between stage (and discovering that kindergarten is the new first grade) is not my ideal. (Don’t get me wrong. I love him, he is awesome, and his smiles and hugs light my world – but there’s more stress.)

    17. Clever Name

      My son is now 8. Honestly, I think babies and little kids are a real snooze fest. Babies are just….there. I’m enjoying my son more and more as he gets older. We do argue every single day, but we can make each other laugh, and I catch glimpses of the young man he is growing into. I’m honestly looking forward to his teenage years.

    18. saro

      The nicest thing my mom has ever told me is that you don’t have to like each stage. I personally loved the blob stage but am having a tougher time now that he is mobile but not verbal. He’s babbling away and trying to communicate, so I think we’ll be cool again soon. I love the 8 year olds!! They are so interesting and curious!

  15. Sunflower

    So I have mentioned in the recent past about my dislike of my job and desire to travel and live a different place every couple months. I’ve been reading Nomadic Matt(thanks for the recommendation!) and just picked up his book ‘How to Travel the World on $50 USD per day’. I’ve come to the conclusion that traveling is really not as hard as people make it seem to be. Maybe it’s an American thing? For one, there’s a a large misconception here about hostels being dangerous which simply isn’t true.

    I’m all over the place though. Somedays I think ‘What the heck am I thinking traveling the world, this is nuts!’ and other days i think ‘what am I still doing here, why haven’t I left yet?!’ I can’t do anything until December when my lease ends. Regardless of what I do(whether travel or stay in the states) I’m not renewing it for another year because I definitely want to get out of the my city and don’t want to be held down by a lease. I’m 26 and the only thing I’m obligated to are my student loans. I’ve been applying for jobs left and right in other cities with nothing and feel like this is the time to do this. I go back and forth a lot but I know if I don’t do this, fir at least a couple months, I’m going to regret it.

    I’ve been looking into some different options.
    1. Find a remote job that will let me work from anywhere (thinking this will be tough)
    2. Cut most expenses, save a ton of money and pick up odd jobs to support me a bit when I’m moving around (leaning towards)
    3. Go through a program(maybe become an au pair) but I’m not sure how I’d feel about that. It would be great to have a ‘family’ while I’m away but living with them? ehh. I’ve heard a bit about a somewhat recent trend of au pairs living outside the household which I’d be okay with. Anyone know about this?

    Just looking for advice or ideas? Or anyone who has done something similar? Or words of encouragement? other travel blogs I can check out would also be great!

    1. TL -

      My neighbor’s sister bartends, makes a ton of money, and then takes off to travel for a few months (lives frugally while she’s at her home base.)

      There’s a fair number of jobs that are flexible and pay well and if you’re more interesting in traveling than maintaining a day-to-day lifestyle of a certain level, might be worth looking into (but they’re not particularly career friendly, so there’s that.)

      Off the top of my head, bartending, bouncing, stripping, waitressing in a really nice place, construction, oil field work – all jobs where you can make a lot of cash really, really fast. (Construction and oil field are a bit more time based, but you can make really good money and chances are you’ll have no time to spend it.) They are generally very taxing jobs but they’re flexible and pay well.

      1. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests

        bartending, bouncing, stripping, waitressing in a really nice place, construction, oil field work

        You forgot “dealing drugs” and “prostitution”. I have a relative who spent about a decade working as a waitress – and selling heroin and her youthful charms – in Lake Tahoe. Not a lifestyle I would recommend to anyone, but she’s in her early 70s now and has a number of interesting stories (she claims she knew William Burroughs, Allen Ginsburg, and Jack Kerouac, and that she snuck into Cuba in the early ’60s and met Che and his wife Aleida – I have no idea if these things are true, but it was always a hoot when Aunt Patty came to Thanksgiving dinner).

        1. TL -

          I tried to keep it on the legal side, though of course prostitution and dealing drugs also pay well. :)

          Like I said, there are some lifestyle/career sacrifices you make with these types of jobs. But the money tends to be good and they’re flexible enough that you can quit, travel, come back, and be almost guaranteed to find a job making similar money somewhere until you’re ready to travel again.

      2. Computer Guy Eli

        You could almost audibly hear the screech when I scrolled back up to see this. I can get paid for bouncing?!

        I’m already a security officer, I’m trained. It’s never occured to me that bouncing pays well. Off to le goog!

        1. TL -

          Oh, yeah, at least in the big cities. One of my close friends used to bounce and whenever he wanted extra money, he’d just work the door and accept bribes from people who didn’t want to wait in line.

          Mind you, he also had to work out a lot to keep a certain physique, had guns and knives pulled on him, was incredibly violent sometimes, and frankly, it took a huge toll on him. (He was hired as part of a group to clean up a really rough club and – well, they did it.) But the money was excellent and it gave him time to maintain a second job – if he wanted too, he could’ve worked over the summers and travelled in the winters.

    2. Wolfey

      DO IT!!!!!

      I did this in 2013! Quit my job, picked up, and bounced around Australia on a backpacking visa for 7 months. A lot of countries have them until you turn 30. I Couchsurfed or did Help Exchange almost exclusively, so I didn’t pay for accommodation beyond a few nights in hostels (def not dangerous, but other people’s snoring drives me nuts!). Lots of people got service industry jobs there, which definitely paid more decently than the US. I also lived in India, where the cost of living is much lower in most places. No matter where I’ve been (Europe, Africa, Australia, Asia, etc), I promise you’ll find a “family.” Travelers definitely look out for each other and locals are also usually really welcoming and I’ve made good friends through Couchsurfing hosts that put me in touch with other people. Through bad luck I’ve been in a few tricky spots, but on the whole traveling has made me so much more savvier, personally confident, knowledgeable, and optimistic about the state of humanity. It can only improve a person.

      The Professional Hobo and Legal Normads are also blogs I enjoy. I would also check out Help Exchange.

      Seriously, go for it! There is nothing more exhilarating than that feeling of freedom. I’d be happy to exchange info through Alison if you’d like to chat more.

      1. Wolfey

        Also, your #2 option sounds like a good way to start. Opportunities like #1 crop up when you are already in a position to take them. I’d focus on paying down as much of your debt as possible before you leave. It will give you that much more leeway to do stuff while you’re off if you don’t have to worry so much about your payments.

      2. Sunflower

        Hi I would definitely like to chat with you and exchange info through Alison!! I’m really interested in Greece which also happens to be pretty cheap. That would be my first stop and I’d want to stay there for a bit. Australia and Central America are also places I’d like to hang out for a while. Picking up service industry jobs is what I’d ideally like to do. Are most under the table type gigs?

        The thing that worries me is I’m a pretty on the fly person and I don’t make plans but I’ve always had a back up plan. The idea of being in a random city with no plan is very nerve wracking to me! Are you still traveling? Another fear I have is what happens when I come back. Will I be able to get back into work and living a regular, 9-5 life?

          1. Sunflower

            how is the best way to do this? just post in discussions that I’m looking for wolfey?

        1. Treena Kravm

          in Australia, those service jobs aren’t under the table, as long as you’re under 30. New Zealand is 35.

          1. Treena Kravm

            Sorry, I should have been more clear. You’re eligible for a work visa in Australia until 30 and in nz until 35 years old. The economy there is so good you may even get a professional job, but can definitely get service jobs at the drop of a hat.

    3. Stephanie

      Hmm, here’s my take on why Americans might travel less (I would definitely like to travel more abroad myself!):

      -Your standard white collar job doesn’t give a lot of paid vacation (at least relative to other Western countries). And plenty of jobs don’t offer any paid vacation.
      -The US is really big, so one can see deserts, mountains, oceans, plains, tropics, and tundra without leaving the country.
      -Tying into the first two, it can be tough to fly to places direct if you don’t live near a few of the really big international airports. I live in a big metro area, but the only direct flight to Europe from my home airport is to LHR, I believe.
      -Learning a second language isn’t really pushed, so I’m guessing that might be daunting to some once you get outside English speaking countries.

      Anyway, that’s my $0.02 as why there might be some view of international travel being difficult (but I think all of that is surmountable).

      1. Artemesia

        Well international travel IS difficult and expensive for Americans. If I live in London, I can buzz over to Paris for the weekend for relatively little expense if I buy my Eurostar ticket early and on sale — from the US, it is a big expensive deal.

        Couple that with our ridiculously limited vacation allowances and it is no surprise Americans tend to be insular and provincial.

          1. fposte

            But it’s also the culture, because it’s a lot farther for Australians and they seem to get everywhere.

      2. Artemesia

        Exactly. And well international travel IS difficult and expensive for Americans. If I live in London, I can buzz over to Paris for the weekend for relatively little expense if I buy my Eurostar ticket early and on sale — from the US, it is a big expensive deal.

        Couple that with our ridiculously limited vacation allowances and it is no surprise Americans tend to be insular and provincial.

      3. Nashira

        International travel is also difficult if you’ve got a couple of chronic illnesses, which many Americans do. If you need insulin, prescription pain medications (or just prescriptions!), or have something like my stupid ulcerative colitis, which can flare and require immediate treatment… traveling is awfully, awfully hard. Not insurmountably hard if you really want to do it, but hard.

    4. Treena Kravm

      I think you could be actively pursuing both #1 and 2, at least until December. In an ideal world, would you rather be (A) traveling around (as in country-hopping) and working the odd jobs in order to supplement that, or do you want to (B) live in a brand-new place, and use that place and job you hold there to fund trips all over the surrounding areas? I can’t give you much advice on scenario A, because I’ve never done it and it’s too much risk for my comfort level. If B sounds good, then I can provide more info on it and tell you more about my current plans for my next stint abroad.

      In addition to other jobs suggested above, have you considered teaching English? If you are willing to live in Asia (think China or Korea), they pay REALLY well, and some places even pay for your airfare and provide a studio apartment on top of a generous salary. There are programs that arrange everything for you as well.

      In terms of au pairing, it’s just one of those things that can be amazing, but it’s really rare that you’re going to love your family. You’ll probably love the kids, but the parents will be a pain. I was a live-in nanny in the US for a while and it was a disaster. Ultimately, you’re with them *all the time* and they’re your boss. And your job is their children. Drama will happen. A lot of families expect you to provide cleaning services every second you’re not actively entertaining their “angels.” You’d have to screen really well and it’s tough to have choices when they’re providing your housing. I would strongly suggest figuring out any arrangements that don’t include housing.

      1. Sunflower

        Ideally I’d like to live in a different place every couple months. I feel like I would enjoy doing A more but B appeals to me since it’s a much more secure option. I’d like to find a remote job and then move around every couple months. However, that seems easier said than done. Working a regular job is taxing enough and I feel like I’d get more out of experience by going with A. I’m not too keen on teaching English. I would do it to make some extra money on the side but don’t think I’d want to lock into a contract. The more I read up on au-pairing it seems like that would really be a last option. I think I’d only want to do it if I could work out not living with the family which kind of changes you from an au-pair to a nanny but I’ve seen it’s more and more common.

    5. soitgoes

      My opinion of the “magical, free-spirited Traveling” that you’re talking about is that you can either travel or set up a home base, but not both. Only commit to traveling if you’re prepared to come home at 30 and be the only one of your friends who doesn’t have a resume-worthy career path and an adult lifestyle/living situation. It isn’t often said plainly, but extended travel is only possible if you aren’t yet responsible for your own living expenses. You’re either going back to mom and dad’s after each trip, or you have money from some other source.

      Judging by your username, I’m assuming you’re a woman. I’d be careful when following traveling guides written by young men. Women simply cannot safely hitchhike, sleep outdoors, or even be outside by themselves at night the way men can.

      1. Traveler

        Only commit to traveling if you’re prepared to come home at 30 and be the only one of your friends who doesn’t have a resume-worthy career path and an adult lifestyle/living situation.

        This isn’t true universally speaking. I worked while I traveled, and my career is just as well off as my friends (in some cases better because I have a variety to speak from versus their one job for the last 7 years). I don’t know how you define adult lifestyle/living situation but I have everything my friends have that didn’t travel except for a house and kids, and that’s because I don’t want those things not because I couldn’t have them. Which is kind of the problem with this statements in general – not everyone wants the long term job/spouse/house/kids thing and that’s okay. That doesn’t mean they are not “an adult” it just means they’re living by a different script.

        “Women simply cannot safely hitchhike, sleep outdoors, or even be outside by themselves at night the way men can.”

        I wouldn’t recommend hitchhiking or sleeping outdoors in general (unless you’re talking camping and I know plenty of women that do this without problems). You can be outside at night as a woman in plenty of places, and be safe. Its about being aware of your surroundings, knowing your limits, understanding the area you are in and the local culture. Some places are safer than others, but there are tons of women who travel solo. I’ve done it – and its actually pretty liberating.

        1. Sunflower

          Part of what interests me so much about extensive travel is that so many of my friends are getting married, buying houses and it just doesn’t interest me. I think one day it will and that’s why I want to do this now but I have no desire to have anything by a certain age.

      2. Wolfey

        I’m 26. I’ve never traveled extensively on anyone’s dime but my own, earned through careful saving and conservative financial choices. I also have had both a resume-worthy career AND am embarking on an even more resume-worthy career path, inspired partially by that travel. Perspective from traveling has helped me know what I want and what I don’t, probably more so than friends who fell into jobs and careers without getting the chance to re-assess. My friends’ careers are further along than mine–yes–but I was never going to stay in the career I fell into anyway and traveling has gifted me memories/experience/insight that my friends don’t have. Don’t let anyone make you feel like traveling is a childish or selfish choice.

        It is true that women have to be more careful when we travel. But it’s also important not to travel in fear! Start with the safest choices you can make until you feel more confident in your ability to scope out situations, then increase your risks if you feel like it. As long as you always have back-up options and have some thought-out ideas for getting yourself out of a situation that ever went south, I think you should explore however you want. Just keep in mind that if you’re uneasy, it’s better to listen to your gut and don’t worry about paying for whatever kind of transportation you need to leave.

      3. Treena Kravm

        While this is very common, it’s definitely not a universal truth. Some people are able to work in professional positions abroad with visas, others work remotely for a company in the US, and others are professional travel bloggers. Either way, someone can easily save for a 3-12 month stint of travel–they do it all the time and it doesn’t require a total derailment of a career path.

        1. Connie-Lynne

          I have a couple friends who are welders/fabricators or heavy equipment operators and they get to travel a bunch by working on various large art installations and at festivals. Some of them don’t even have “permanent” homes, since they get enough work and housing that there’s rarely any need for downtime.

          Two other friends managed to make enough money doing IT consulting to travel during their off time — one even did consulting while he traveled, and eventually got offered a director-level permanent position at one of the places he’d consulted for.

          There’s all kinds of work you can do that will let you travel if you’re smart and talented, and not all of it requires you to put your career on hold!

    6. Clever Name

      I have a friend who works in Antarctica for half the year and travels the other half of the year. Her photos are amazing.

    7. Puffle

      A few years ago I spent 8 weeks travelling solo around Asia. I was 20 years old, I’d never gone on a trip alone, and as the plane descended over Cambodia I was absolutely terrified. It was fantastic, and I don’t regret any of it. When I told them about it afterwards, a lot of people thought that it sounded really dangerous and scary (20 years old, female, solo), but honestly I do think that the danger is overhyped. Sure, there were some sticky situations, and I had to keep my wits about me, but I think that if you do your research in advance (i.e. read up online about local customs, popular tourist scams, etc) beforehand you should be fine.

      I haven’t read Nomadic Matt, but in terms of money SE Asia is super cheap. As an example, in Laos I could get a private hotel room for $3 a night, pay about $2 a day for food, and transport was super cheap (though not particularly quick or straight-forward). If you don’t have a big budget, it might be worth looking up less expensive destinations and doing some research to see how far, say, $30 will get you in different countries.

      I’ve also done the third option that you’re considering. I currently live and work in Japan as an English teacher on the JET Programme, which is run by the Japanese government. My plane ticket was paid for by my employers. I rent my own apartment, I get a reasonably good salary and 25 days paid holiday a year, and so long as I take my trips during the school holidays my boss doesn’t care if I vanish for a week or two to go travelling. I’ve travelled all over Japan, and whilst I’ve been here I’ve also visited Thailand and S Korea. I know that there are also equivalent schemes in S Korea and China for English teachers. The basic requirements are usually a bachelor’s degree and a willingness to up sticks, and that’s about it. It’s not for everyone, but it’s worked out really well for me.

    8. Dynamic Beige

      “For one, there’s a a large misconception here about hostels being dangerous which simply isn’t true. ”

      I think that generally speaking, it is a misconception. I’ve stayed at hostels and never had a problem. But, I make sure to do research and pick one that has good ratings and good security but that doesn’t mean that other people haven’t had their packs stolen or had other issues. I’ve used http://www.hostelworld.com/ for all the ones I booked and I find that if it’s got a user review of over 80%, it should be OK. You want to review what each one offers and decide what features you need. You’ll need to pack a towel, flip flops for the shower and a good combination or padlock. A towel because some places will rent you one for an amount of money, others won’t. Same thing with locks. But the less of that you do, the more money you have to spend on stuff. There are also a lot of things in Europe that are cheap or free (or free on specific days) so you can really stretch a Euro if you’re careful.

      The first time I stayed in a hostel, I had asked for an all-female dorm but when I got there, they were full up, so I was put in a mixed dorm. The first night, I barely slept at all because I was afraid that someone would mess with me or try to steal my stuff (the guy at the desk had taken some degree of pity on me and let me have a bottom bunk which came with a locker underneath it, top ones didn’t have that). By the last night, I was over it. I got up that morning and stood up to find the guy who had introduced himself the previous night as being from Belgium was wearing nothing but shorts and all spread out over the bed and that’s when I went “They just don’t care. It doesn’t matter to them.” I think the social contract is different over there in regards to this kind of thing. It’s perfectly normal for 17 or 18 year olds to just bum around for a few months and no one cares. A couple of the guys on the next bunk over were 19 and from France (this was in Ireland). Over here, parents often go batshite insane at the idea that someone is going to backpack around Europe.

      Someone I knew bought a round-the-world airplane ticket and waitressed under the table in the various countries she went, she had a blast and never regretted it. I think that when you’re young and have no ties (mortgage, spouse, children, aging/sick parents), if you want to do it, then figure it out and go. It gets harder to just chuck it and go when you’re older.

      1. Elizabeth West

        It gets harder to just chuck it and go when you’re older.

        Yeah, that’s what I told someone when they suggested this to me. It would have been nice when I was twenty-something. Now it wouldn’t be possible unless I were moving to get married or something and had a definite place to go. I have stuff now.

        1. Sunflower

          I definitely agree! At this point I’m not making much money, have no relationships, mortgages or anything. I’m already accustomed to living on not much and I know the farther along I get in my job and more money I make, the harder it will be to let that stuff go.

    9. Connie-Lynne

      I have a couple friends who are welders/fabricators or heavy equipment operators and they get to travel a bunch by working on various large art installations and at festivals. Some of them don’t even have “permanent” homes, since they get enough work and housing that there’s rarely any need for downtime.

      Two other friends managed to make enough money doing IT consulting to travel during their off time — one even did consulting while he traveled, and eventually got offered a director-level permanent position at one of the places he’d consulted for.

      There’s all kinds of work you can do that will let you travel if you’re smart and talented, and not all of it requires you to put your career on hold!

    10. Ellie

      I spent over a year backpacking by myself, and it was completely fantastic and highly recommended. I went with your option 2, and as I had a working holiday visa I worked in a call centre for a while, and actually managed a backpacker’s hostel as well so I have a very high opinion of them! I did stay in some places that weren’t that great, but I must have stayed in way over 50 different hostels (in mixed gender dorms in all of them) and never had any issues with theft. Whenever there was creepiness (I think only happened twice) I’d go tell the front desk and they either moved the creep or kicked them out.

      Also, whenever I wanted to stop for a while I’d look for a clean-for-accommodation deal at a hostel. It’d be a couple of hours cleaning / reception / whatever 5 days a week for free accommodation, and you could often get extra paid hours on top. There’d usually be a 2 / 4 week minimum stay, but you’d build a really nice little group of friends from the other hostel workers.

      I met a few guys who funded their travel by working on a building site or a mine for 3 months, then have enough money to travel the rest of the year. I have no idea if they would even give these jobs to women though, I only ever met men who had done this work.

      I found the gapyear.com forums useful, though they do tend to be geared towards a younger crowd. The Lonely Planet forums can be handy as well.

  16. Ruth (UK)

    This could count as mildly work related in an indirect way, but I felt it’s more appropriate for the super open thread than the work open thread. I was talking to some kids (approx age 8) the other day who shared some extremely wise advice on how to handle and respond to criticism.

    (Also I swear sometimes kids of this age group are way smarter than most adults in a way)

    Criticism, according to children:

    Kid 1: If someone doesn’t like your story and you feel angry you should still be friendly to them
    Kid 2: And you should say ‘which bit don’t you like?’ because… because…
    Kid 1: Because then you can write a better story
    Kid 2: Yeah

    I just thought they had a great way of looking at it so simply and easily. :D

    1. nep

      Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.
      I was spending some time with my nephews one day and at one point I asked the then-eight-year-old: ‘Do you know how to get really great at doing something?’
      He said: ‘Keep doing the thing.’

  17. The Other Dawn

    Well, the Summons was served on our tenants. Off to the courthouse Monday to file the papers and pay another 175.00 I don’t have. *sigh* At least I’m moving forward. Return date is March 6. That’s the date by which the tenant has to respond. If she doesn’t, then I have to go back to the courthouse and file a motion for default judgment. At least I don’t have to serve it; I can mail it.

    Gotta say, it’s aggravating as hell when my SIL texts me and says she saw the tenant walking back from the store with a cart full of stuff she bought. (SIL lives down the street and tenant doesn’t drive.) But I guess when you don’t pay your rent, you have money to burn.

        1. Artemesia

          Would drive anyone nuts. For the next renters get a really big deposit — at least a couple of months.

  18. Revanche

    Pardon the novel: it’s Rare Disease Day and there have been some very thoughtful tweets on the subject by @MortuaryReport and @snarkbat.

    I’m learning to talk about my own issues now after decades of hiding it personally and professionally for fear of showing weakness and being judged, so this is for any fellow Spoonies or people who wonder WTF chronic disease sufferers are going on about.

    I’ve lived with daily, unexplained, idiopathic severe pain for about 20 years now. I’ve been to dozens of doctors and homeopathic practitioners during this time, and there are no answers. It used to be like living with the fatigue and aches of the worst flu you’ve ever had, plus arthritis. Now it’s progressed to include weakness of joints and ligaments that don’t do their job anymore, along with random things like long term headaches, nausea, dizziness, chest pains, shortness of breath and so on. What this means is I’ve become a bit of a shut in. It’s not safe to drive if your hands or shoulders randomly lock up, if you can’t turn your head properly to look before you change lanes. Every moment of my life is governed by the disease: if I get dressed then I will be too wiped out to walk the dog, so maybe just pull on a sweatshirt over PJs instead or just risk the cold lest I overtax my hands, shoulders or back putting on the sweatshirt. If I pick up the baby now, I won’t be able to lift my arms in an hour but not picking hir up isn’t an option so plan to be laying down for 3 hours. If I cook a meal, then no laundry, vacuuming, dusting or anything else gets done that day. Every decision and every movement has to be weighed for proper priority down to the smallest thing.

    The kindnesses afforded to me during pregnancy: compassion and just being asked whether I’m able to take stairs or need to sit down nearly made me cry because I’ve never gotten that consistent sort of understanding or support for my essentially invisible diseases and that’s exactly what I needed.

    Instead of that simple much-needed support, many of us get a lot of armchair diagnostics from people who don’t know virus from bacteria, often complete strangers, or the well meaning family and friends who feel like they need to solve your unidentifiable problem with quick fixes. My family’s been both guilty of trying to push the most quack cures imaginable (“special ionized water” it’ll cure cancer! Never mind I don’t have cancer…) And dismissing it: “you’re OK right? Good, you’re fine.” It’s just easier to pretend that my “fine” (able to bite back the screaming from pain) is their “fine” (could run an obstacle course if so desired). I’m sure you can imagine that’s incredibly frustrating and isolating.

    And as bad as my issues are, I’m also aware that some friends have far greater challenges. I’m not playing a comparison game, it’s just such a sobering realization.

    I know most people don’t know what to say to us Spoonies (& I’m working on a blog post for this!), I get that it’s uncomfortable when it’s a bad situation but avoiding comments like “but you must love losing all the weight!” when someone’s been nauseated for months goes a long way.

    I hope that some of these off the top thoughts help should you ever encounter someone dealing with uncommon or “invisible” health problems. It’s still rare for me to offer that information but when I do, being treated not like a puzzle or specimen is hugely appreciated.

    1. nona

      Wishing you the best. I also have a chronic illness (I don’t do the whole spoonie thing). It’s very hard to deal with, and sometimes the strangest things break through to you emotionally.

      1. Revanche

        Thanks Nona, and all the best to you too! I did use Spoonie a bit liberally to encompass all of us with chronic things for ease of writing but you’re absolutely right not everyone identifies as such so please know I meant to include, not exclude.

    2. Turanga Leela

      I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing—it’s so important to get voices like yours out there, especially since there are still people who think that any chronic, unexplained disease must be psychosomatic. :(

      1. Revanche

        Thank you! It feels weird to share, still, but I hope that it helps shed light on the situation at least. On the subject of people thinking these unexplained problems are psychosomatic, I’m heartened to see that research is finally showing that Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has biological causes, I know that’s definitely been a challenge for CFS sufferers to be treated like they have a legitimate issue.

      2. Nashira

        As well as people who don’t understand that psychosomatic illness is, most importantly, illness. It KILLS me when medical personnel don’t get that, because the person is still suffering and still needs treatment. It’s just a different kind of treatment.

        …though you do sometimes get the converse where a doc is happy to treat you as though it were psychosomatic, when it turns out to have been two separate conditions the entire time: an actual nerve injury and an autoimmune condition. Not that, um, I’m pissy about losing most of my twenties to improper treatment, noooooo.

    3. LAMM

      I had to Google “Spoonies” after reading your post. It was very eye opening. Thank you!

      1. Revanche

        You’re welcome! Important to know, though, as nona noted above, not everyone who has a chronic illness identifies as a spoonie. It’s just one useful tool to describe the experiences of many.

  19. The Other Dawn

    So, what can I do with a 5 lb bag of brown rice?

    I’m still working on my “eat through the kitchen” challenge. I’ve been to the grocery store a few times, but just for stuff like yogurt, milk, a few condiments, etc. I said I wasn’t going to buy any pantry items, like pasta and rice, but I suddenly realized I have lots of meat, but nothing to make side dishes with. So, I broke my challenge and I bought a 5 lb bag of brown rice because it was 2.99. The Rice-a-Roni I usually buy is 1.79 a box and I didn’t want to spend that on a couple boxes.

    I know I can season the rice with stuff from my pantry. Any suggestions? I would say I have most dried herbs and spices. I’d prefer not to have to buy fresh for now.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I make a huge pot of brown rice every Sunday and eat it through the week. I use it in salads for work, mostly. I find olive oil, lemon juice, and salt is enough. I also make fried rice for breakfast– butter, a little soy sauce, sriracha, and an egg. Kimchi if I have it, minus the sriracha and plus chili-garlic sauce.

      You can also do pilafs, just as you would with white rice, it just takes longer. Saute onion and garlic in a little olive oil, add herbs like rosemary and thyme, maybe mushrooms if you have/want them. Add rice, stir to coat with oil, then add broth or water to cook everything.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          It’s so good. I am a bit hypoglycemic so I have to manage my carbs, fats, and proteins really carefully– I need all three to make it more than an hour without getting hungry. Rice is a great base. I do a ton of variations, including brown rice with olive oil, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, and an egg. There is always an egg. :)

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          I made fried rice for supper last night and had the leftovers for breakfast this morning. I mixed four eggs with some soy sauce and cooked them until the were set (no stirring; I like a sheet of egg that I can cut into short strips, not a scrambled egg). I set the egg strips aside while I stir fried some shredded cabbage and sliced snow peas, then added the rice and some soy sauce. I stirred in the eggs and some green onions toward the end of cooking. Usually I drizzle on a little sesame oil at the end, but we were out. :-(

    2. Artemesia

      We do brown rice with steamed vegetables on top and cheese grated over it every so often as a break from meat based dinners. The rice has a nice crunch and taste and with a variety of veggies and good grating cheese it is tasty.

      We like it mixed in egg and fried as a sort of pancake — which can be served with savory toppings or with butter and syrup like regular pancakes.

      It is good in a chicken rice soup.

    3. danr

      Saute some onion with a little olive oil, then add rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Stir a bit then add the rice and cooking liquid. It makes a very nice side dish.

      1. Madeye Moody

        Breakfast rice pudding!
        To cooked rice, add milk, cinnamon, a clove, raisins/dried cherries/apricots, dates , walnuts (or mixture of nuts), bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. It’s delicious.
        You can add some extra honey if needed.

        1. The Other Dawn

          OMG I love rice pudding! Unfortunately I can’t stomach a lot of sugar anymore (gastric bypass) so I’ll have to go easy on the fruit. But thanks for this suggestion! I can’t wait to try it.

    4. Meg Murry

      Toasting rice before you cook it really adds to the flavor. Cooking it with chicken or beef both (or even subbing out just had or a quarter of the water for broth) is great too. My family loves rice cooked in chicken broth with garlic powder and cilantro – tastes like the rice from Chipotle.

      As to toasting it, we love to make toasted raisin rice. I know you said you can’t have a lot of fruit, but even tossing in a few pieces of raisins adds an unexpected but delicious sweetness. Here’s the recipe:

      Raisin Rice: In a large skillet (nonstick recommended but not required), toast 1 cup raw rice over medium heat, stirring frequently, until most of the rice is brown. (Mottled appearance is desirable.)
      Stir in 1/2 cup raisins and 2 1/4 cups chicken stock (or broth, or broth water combo)
      Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and cook for 25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

    5. Sunflower

      hmm not sure if you have coconut oil but frying rice with it is delicious and doesn’t require much more seasoning besides a little soy sauce and salt/pepper.

      Also for some reason fried rice tends to fry better when it’s cold so cook and then put in the fridge to cool before you cook with it

      1. The Other Dawn

        Yes, I love coconut oil! I’ve used to make cauliflower “rice” and it was great. It’s good for subbing some of the butter in chocolate chip cookies too. :)

    6. knitchic79

      Add 1/4 cup of orange juice, if you can handle it post bypass. I’ll do that and some chili flakes to taste. It makes a nice lighty seasoned rice for a stir-fry.

  20. Ali

    I wish I didn’t have to keep posting bad news here, but my mom just called (she’s out of town this weekend) and told me that they brought hospice care in for my 92-year-old grandmother, who’s been going downhill and generally not been well for the last few years. My grandmother has had bronchitis for a couple of days and is now said to be in early stage congestive heart failure.

    I don’t think anyone in the family is particularly shocked, and my mom did her grieving and acceptance already and knows that this is coming. And even though I knew for three years that my grandmother could be gone at any day, I never can quite deal with sick family members or grieving. I always get anxious and freak out over having to visit anybody in the hospital when they’re not doing well/on various machines (I went through this when my grandmother was hospitalized 2-3 years ago, as well as my grandfather back when I was a teenager), and my mom offered to let me go to the nursing home to see my grandmother once she’s back in town so I didn’t have to do it alone.

    I also know that this is so not about me, but I keep thinking ahead to logistics I’m going to have to deal with in my own life when something happens. I’ve read that grief can do some odd things to people, but I feel kind of weird wondering about canceling my trip for next weekend and dealing with the refund if I have to. I’m also feeling a little phobic about going to a viewing and that kind of thing. And I also wonder how my mom can just stay out of town and not rush home. (She says my aunts/her sisters are over at my grandmother’s nursing home.)

    Sorry this is ugly. I honestly have very little experience with death and grief. I know I’m fortunate, but that it’s only going to become pretty much routine as my other set of grandparents gets older, aunts and uncles age and so forth. I really don’t think of myself as self-centered or anything, but I know I’m acting like it.

    1. The Other Dawn

      Nope, you sound completely normal to me. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s scary to have to see people hooked up to all sort so tubes and machines, knowing there’s nothing you can do about it. And thinking about logistics is normal, too. Better to think ahead about this stuff than to not plan ahead and have a total meltdown when it does happen.

    2. danr

      It isn’t ugly… Be sure to go see her as much as you can, and listen to the stories. My mother in law was in hospice care for a day, and an aunt for over a month. There’s no way to tell. As for the viewing, go up to the casket with someone, or don’t go up to it and just talk to the folks who come. A funeral is for the living and to hear all of the family stories. Don’t worry if you find yourself laughing and joking about stories. It’s normal.

    3. JMW

      There’s nothing ugly here. It is all very natural processing of a a part of the life cycle that is new to you. Part of life is learning how to face and even embrace illness and death, to help make a fellow human’s transition from this life a little easier.

      When you visit your grandmother, try to focus on her current experience of life. Tell her the things about her that you are proudest or fondest of – let her know her life had meaning for you. Also focus on her comfort – hold her hand, warm her feet, get her a sip of water.

      I would encourage you not to wait till your mother gets home to visit your grandmother. Once hospice comes in,it could be just a few days. When your grandmother stops eating, she will probably have about three days left.

      Big hug for you!

    4. Amber Rose

      When my mom died, I was unemployed. She was my best friend and the biggest influence in my life… but I had to fly to the other side of Canada to be with my dad and help out and I spent those first days worried about the impact on my job hunt and when or how I would get home. I spent hours mapping routes when we decided to drive back.

      Sounds heartless right? But the severe illness and/or death of a loved one is the ultimate form of helplessness. In the wake of being informed that something awful will happen and we can do nothing about it, we look for what we can control. This is normal. YOU are normal. It’s OK to be flustered. It’s OK to be self centered. It’s OK. You’ll be OK.

      Take care of yourself.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I totally get this. When I did not know, had not read up on grief it was incredibly awkward for me. Even now, after reading and having life experiences it still can be kind of awkward for me.
      I guess what I am saying is that there is always some level of awkwardness no matter what your back ground or stage in life.

      And YES! I felt conspicuous and very self-conscious around grieving people because I did not know what to do and my own emotions were all over the map. There is something so hard about seeing people upset and knowing you cannot do a darn thing to fix it. And in thinking all these thoughts it feels like “I am thinking all about ME.”
      Well, there is a learning curve and yeah, we do have to figure out where we are on that curve and how to maybe to inch ourselves through it a little. This means we have to think about ourselves.

      My theory is that death is supposed to make us stop and think. Think about a lot of things.

      A few general things:
      Crying is okay. Crying causes chemicals to be released in the brain that keeps the brain healthy. Crying is fine.

      Everyone grieves in their own way. Some people stop eating- they literally cannot eat. Other people chow down like crazy. Some people get mad at each other. That’s sad because anger is a grief dressed up in a costume. And if we are angry we don’t have to be grieving- or so some people think. Some people cling to each other and hold on. Sometimes people sleep too much or maybe they go the opposite way and they sleep too little. Some people have irregular heart beats- that is grief. Some people have to take control over the whole funeral and some people need someone to help them every inch of the way.

      Another angle is that there are all kinds of deaths and we can grief differently for each type. I have been to funerals where I did not shed a tear. It does not mean I am cold-hearted. It just means that this particular death hit me in a different manner than, say, a funeral where I cried a lot.

      Okay, I don’t want a wall of writing here. Come back and ask more questions… I will try to help and I am sure others will, too.

    6. Jen RO

      This might be unpopular, but I didn’t see any of my grandparents in the hospital before they died and I have never regretted it. This way I can remember as they were at their best.

      1. Meg Murry

        Yes, it is a little selfish of me, bit I am happy my last (visual) memories of my grandmother are from a month or two before she died, as opposed to my husband’s grandmother where we were by her side for almost 2 weeks in the hospital watching her decline. I spoke to my grandma on the phone several times before she died, but my last memory of seeing her was when she was still well enough to hug me and know I was there and exchange I love you’s.
        Can you ask your aunts to call you when your grandma is awake, if she still has periods of lucidity, so you can talk to her? It might feel better to be able to know she heard you say you loved her.

        1. Ali

          I appreciate all the insights here. My mom is coming home from her trip today, and as of right now, there’s been no further news. I am following the mantra of “no news…” for right now and hoping for whatever’s best. I was able to relax last night and enjoy the rest of the night with lighthearted TV and movies, especially since I noticed both my mom and sister still doing things and enjoying themselves. There’s really no use sitting around and keeping vigil when it’s out of our control, which is what my mom has really emphasized with me. No, she’s not saying don’t visit, but to just keep going on and living life. So I’ll do what I can to keep my normal routine and find distractions until something happens.

    7. Sunflower

      Don’t feel guilty about having other things on your mind. It’s life and it’s normal. Honestly, when someone I know dies or there is a viewing I know I’ll have to attend, one of the first things I think to is the preferred date of it. It’s just natural thing. You said your mom has already grieved and accepted what’s happening and that’s probably why she is a acting a little more casually about this. You’ve known for 3 years your grandmother could be gone any day so your mom is probably just trying to keep her life as normal as possible.

    8. Clever Name

      Everyone deals with grief in their own way. You don’t have to look at the body at all. Many prefer not to. The body is just a shell, and seeing it after death can be unsettling. Others find comfort in seeing a loved one one last time. There are no right answers.

  21. Mimmy

    Continuing with the saga that is my online class!

    Wrapping up the first major paper this weekend. Final project proposal will be next.

    Unfortunately, our professor has been a bit MIA. She hasn’t graded anything in a couple of weeks and didn’t even put up a discussion board this week. The only thing I can think of was to allow us time to do our paper and start on our project proposals. A classmate from last semester had her in the fall, and she was same way then.

    So the question for the hive: Is this what most online courses are like? I might’ve said last week that this class has felt more like moderated discussions of assigned readings, as opposed to really learning anything new. Well, I guess you’re still learning, but it’s more about learning different perspectives on different topics rather than gaining concrete knowledge or skills. My class during the fall was a bit like this as well. That class was more close-knit than this one, though, so that helped.

    I have to say, though, I do miss the face-to-face classes I had in my Masters program. I think I learned more with those, tbh, because of the synchronous nature of F2F classes–the instructor is right there in real time clarifying, teaching, and facilitating great discussions. Online learning is a great tool as it offers access to more programs since you can take them from anywhere, anytime. But nothing beats the real classroom–it is the shared experience I like.

    1. The IT Manager

      moderated discussions of assigned readings, as opposed to really learning anything new

      This is what my online masters was like except I’d call it a barely moderated discussion. I needed a masters as quickly as possible for a promotion at work so I kept at it, but overall my masters experience was very disappointing and it makes me very leery of all online masters programs.

    2. blueiphone

      I’m in an all-online class too this semester (my first online class; 7 of 9 classes needed for my program) and my professor is a bit like this too. We’re up to assignment 5 now and I don’t think we’ve gotten grades back for anything beyond like assignment 2. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt because she probably has several classes, she was having Internet problems for a few weeks, etc. So I’m telling myself to just chill out for a little longer.

      The online class is a bit odd, because it’s a new experience for me. I like not having to drive to campus in rush hour traffic after a long day at work, and then drive home at like, 9:30 PM at night–especially this winter. But I feel like I actually kind of miss the whole “random socializing” you get from sitting in the classroom a few minutes before class with everyone else, or walking with someone else to your car, etc.
      But on the other hand: no driving in snow and ice :-)

      Good luck with your class, Mimmy!

      1. Mimmy

        Ah good point about not having to deal with the winter weather!! Especially this year :/

    3. AnotherFed

      I did a synchronous online masters program, but it had a lot of discussions board assignments based on assigned reading – it was just too hard to try to have 30 people in 20 locations have a conversation at the same time, even if we were all in a synchronous class. It was still better than totally asynchronous, because you could ask the professor questions during the lecture and the good professors would tailor their examples based on knowing what students did for their full time jobs.

      Concrete knowledge and skills can be really rough in a distance learning environment. I had to take a couple of stats classes and modeling and simulation classes – it is so, so hard to learn math when the only time you can have the professor walk you through how to do a problem is the 3 hrs/week of class time. The professors ended up essentially doubling the amount of class time by setting up ‘study hall’ sessions and going through questions and examples. It was really helpful, but it also meant double the class time for both the students and the professors!

  22. Sandrine (Huet)

    I’m posting this here because I got the call this morning.

    I got the call that I reached the 2nd interview stage for a job! 1st was on Thursday, next one is on Monday.

    Another reason why I’m posting this here… easier access to nice sugary goods if I get the job as I’ll be a salesperson for a cookies/candy company.

    *jumps up and down*

      1. Sandrine (Huet)

        I think that if some people had seen my first interview they’d be shaking their heads. It kinda looked like I was trying to audition for Comedy Central.

        Or maybe that’s my delusional self thinking I’m a good comedian :P

    1. Jen RO

      Good luck!

      And I’ll be in Paris in a few weeks, what do I need to see that’s not super-touristy? I’ve done all the touristy stuff already (except the Catacombs where I hear you have too wait in line for 2 hours and I’m not doing that). I’ll be staying close to L’Etoile.

      1. Sherm

        When I went to the Catacombs the line wasn’t nearly that long. It was a Tuesday in the late morning. And it was definitely worth going to!

        1. Jen RO

          I’m traveling for work, so the only time I will have for sightseeing is on the Sunday when I arrive… But I did manage to get an early flight, which means I have more than half a day to explore!

            1. Jen RO

              No to both, but I’m not a big museum fan… I saw the Louvre and I was pretty unimpressed.

      2. Anastasia Beaverhausen

        The catacombs are cool! In the high season the wait is def long but I feel like in March it’ll be managable. Try to get in line before it opens.

  23. Shell

    I’ve been driving for the last 2.5 weeks or so but now I’m loaning my car to the aunt I bought it from as she comes back into town (so she can deal with some errands and things, and then we’ll sign the exchange papers/money and the car will be in my name, under my insurance, et cetera; there will be no more loans in the future when she comes back to town again).

    I gotta say, the idea of not having the car and be back home in fifteen minutes after work is kind of disconcerting. Also disconcerting is how much my back and hips hurt now that I’m not walking around every day.

    I’m trying to work up the effort to go to the mall (need to buy stuff), which is a fifteen minute drive and a forty-five minute walk. I’d planned on walking anyway (I’ve done it before, not bad, and the weather’s nice) to get some much needed exercise in, but that was two hours ago and I’m still in PJs.

    I’m getting spoiled, truly.

    1. Not So NewReader

      If you go when the mall first opens, there will probably be less traffic and you’ll find a spot close to the doors.
      I’ve studied this stuff! ;)

      1. LAMM

        Mondays – Wednesdays around 8pm are also quite quiet in most malls. Plus then you have a time limit and cannot afford to wander around too much. When I need to get in and out without breaking my budget, I’ll often arrive at the mall around 8:30. Can’t do too much damage in the 30 minutes before malls close… right? That’s what I keep telling myself at least.

        Although this would mean walking to/from the mall in the dark.

    2. CoffeeLover

      Living a no-car lifestyle is something I’m trying to make a big priority in my life. I haven’t had regular access to a car yet, which makes it easier since I haven’t had a chance to get used to it yet. I think having exercise throughout your day, as your forced to when you have to walk/bike everywhere, is healthier than spending 30min on a treadmill every so often. Long term I’m planning to move to Europe (from Canada), which will hopefully make my goal quite a bit easier.

  24. AvonLady Barksdale

    There is a Jewish holiday coming up, peoples, therefore there is BAKING to be done! Purim is on Wednesday– for those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s essentially the holiday where we commemorate the heroism of Queen Esther and how she saved all the Jews in Persia from this dude named Haman. We celebrate the holiday by reading from the Book of Esther, making a lot of noise, dressing up, and eating hamantaschen. These are little triangle-shaped cookies filled with fruit or nuts or poppy seeds and are meant to represent Haman’s ears. Or hat. Depends on who you ask.

    Anyway, I just made some poppy seed filling in preparation for baking tomorrow– the weather is supposed to be gross here, so it’s a perfect day to make some treats. I’m also using a fig-and-orange spread someone gave us and some apricot/peach/passionfruit conserves I just bought. When I was a kid, we made them with peanut butter and Hershey’s Kisses. What are your favorite fillings?

    1. Anon Accountant

      Apricot is my favorite filling in anything. Lemon is another favorite of mine in any dessert.

      1. Turanga Leela

        Apricot hamentaschen are the best! After that, raspberry. I’ve never had chocolate or Nutella, though, and I’m intrigued.

    2. blue_eyes

      My husband’s great aunt always sends us the poppy seed kind in the mail and they are …not my favorite. We’re having a Purim party next Saturday and I’ll be making various flavors of fruit hmantaschen. A few years ago I tried making some with goat cheese and fig jam, and they were quite a hit, so those will probably be repeated.

      You forgot the most important part of Purim – getting drunk! (Just kidding).

    3. Kimmy Gibbler

      We’re doing nutella hamantashen this year! (I’ve never been able to stomach the poppyseed ones)

    4. fposte

      I’ve only had poppyseed or apricot–this subthread is an eyeopener!

      (Not a big fan of poppyseed stuff, in general–like eating sand.)

    5. Felicia

      for hamantaschen, my favourite filling is prunes…stuff like chocolate or cherry or whatever i have never liked as much as the classics (i always considered the classics prune and poppy seed). Also i’m making some with my mom tomorrow.

      1. Grand Canyon Jen

        Prune is my favorite, too, but it seems to have fallen out of fashion – hard to find at the kosher bakery.

    6. C Average

      Slate had an amazing hamantaschen recipe a few years back. It’s complicated and takes forever (yeah, I’m selling it really hard here), but it is SO GOOD. I’ll post the link in a separate post.

      I had hamantaschen for the first time many years ago when I’d just finished running a long-distance relay with a bunch of friends. It had been a hard race in brutally hot weather. We got back to the house of one of my teammates (which we were using as sort of a home base) and his wife offered us iced tea and hamantaschen. So delicious. It’s one of those memories I can still taste.

  25. Carrie in Scotland

    Thanks to everyone last week who suggested staging ideas for my clothes rail when selling my flat, they were far better than my original idea so I will be using some of yours when the time comes.

    1. ThursdaysGeek

      I like it. But now I need to read The Magician’s Nephew again, because it has been too many years. It would make more sense if that book were more recent in my memory.

        1. ThursdaysGeek

          The Last Battle is my favorite, although The Magician’s Nephew is number 2 or 3 for me. Time to read the series again!

  26. Anon Accountant

    So I’ve taken the plunge and contacted 2 colleges to see about obtaining a computer science degree. Been tossing the idea around for years and will see how things work out.

    On another note next Friday I have a facial scheduled. We have a neighbor who does this out of her house and it’s $40 for 90 minutes. Completely licensed and legitimate. Last facial I paid $80 for a 45 minute one that wasn’t that great. All over Facebook her clients are posting how great so I can’t wait.

    1. CoffeeLover

      I love finding a good “at-home” service. I have a fantastic waxing lady and she charges about half of what others charge. Plus she has a very professional, private and soothing set up.

      Congratulations on the first steps to a degree!

  27. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

    AAM Community Bloggers!

    In one of the threads this week (I can’t remember which one sorry, maybe Alison’s AMA?) we’d talked about all sharing our blogs here. I’d love to read what the AAM community has to say about all sorts of topics, so should we all advertise ourselves on this thread?

    I write at Project Sprog, talking about the conception and (hopefully!) pregnancy/parenting journey when your fertility is dodgy. http://www.projectsprog.com/

    What do the rest of y’all blog about?

      1. Felicia

        I read other blogs that review and occasional trash YA fiction from the 80s and 90s, but only the contemporary stuff (at least, would have been contemporary in the 80s and 90s. Like Babysitter’s Club), so this is right up my alley and going on my to-read list

      1. Lipton Tea For Me

        Kewl, am adding your blog to the other ones I read. Had gastric bypass in Aug 2012 and would love to swap stories and/or recipes, as the surgery sure changed things!

        1. The Other Dawn

          Sure did! Congrats on your life change. I’m definitely not militant about my new eating habits, but I do tend to avoid pasta (wasn’t really my thing before anyway), I eat a very small amount of rice, and I don’t eat much bread. Maybe a 1/4 piece of toast with breakfast at the diner, or I’ll eat some of the bun if I get a burger. That’s not very often though. Crackers though? I have to be careful; I can go to town on those. I no longer drink soda at all, although once in a great great while I’ll take a tiny sip from my husband’s soda if we go out. Just enough to get the taste.

    1. Elizabeth West

      Mine is called Graphomaniac. It’s linked to my name and is my writing/main blog. I have another called Clerical Chick where I put the spillover work posts that didn’t fit on the main blog. I rarely post on it, but strangely, it got a huge number of views last year. Weird.

      If you want to see my UK trip posts, go on Graphomaniac and find the Britain 2014 category. :) I’ll be doing the Blogging from A-Z Challenge (www.a-to-zchallenge.com/) in April, and part of that will be from London again, so I’ll have to think of a suitable theme. Since it’s a writer blog, and I have research to do in London, I could blog about that.

    2. Nicole

      My husband and I blog about finances, frugality, etc. We love sharing our methods for saving money and still enjoying life. The blog is linked to my name.

    3. TL -

      I blog to do something with the massive amounts of photos I take, so mostly from getting out and about in New England. But I really enjoy it – link’s in my name.

    4. the gold digger

      I blog about my husband’s parents, who give me a lot of material (ie, they told my husband not to marry me and that they were not coming to the wedding and it’s been downhill since then – the main reason my husband’s dad says he doesn’t like me is because I eat bacon wrong, etc.).

      My husband has also run for the state house and for Congress. I have blogged about what it is like to be married to someone who is running for office. (Spoiler – I do not recommend it.)

      http://diaryofagolddigger.blogspot.com/

    5. Class factotum

      I write about my marriage, my cats, and my job. I am very careful with what I write about work because I do not want to be dooced. Plus, I have a good job with a great boss, so it’s not hard to keep it upbeat.

    6. Sabrina

      I have, in the past, blogged about geeky stuff from a female POV. I haven’t had the mental energy to do it in a long time.

    7. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands

      I blogged for a long time about textiles and my original concept of Slow Cloth at Red Thread Studio (http://lainie.typepad.com) and occasionally (okay, rarely – full-time-plus job has eaten my life) blog about communications/writing at elainelipson.com and about art/craft at elainelipsonart.com. (And now I’ll have to change my username here if I want to post about work, now that I’ve outed myself!)

      I’ve been wanting to reboot my blogging but I don’t know how to integrate all my interests and things I want to write about without each thing alienating some part of my audience that isn’t interested. Do I just do one big “my blog” with some effective tagging or page designing to separate the topics?

    8. Cynthia

      Un-anonymizing myself… usually it’s thoughts, food, how tos. My last post was on Minecraft if anyone’s into that kinda thing. :)

  28. Amber Rose

    I throw up about half of my meals and have for months. Certain textures and flavors are killer. My doctor doesn’t know what’s wrong, but she was worried about heart strain and sent me to a cardiologist. So I went for a stress test.

    I was hooked up told to run five minutes. After that I was called to talk to a doctor… who said only five minutes was awful, worse than a small child, and my fitness levels were terrible. I wasn’t told to run longer though, I thought they were just measuring my heart rate… and when I said that he laughed at me. Basically at this point I’m so furious I’d rather die of my unnamed illness than see another doctor. I don’t need this in my life. I have panic attacks just thinking about that whole experience.

    My husband wants me to file a complaint but I feel like it would be a waste of time. Is there any meaning to it?

    1. LisaLee

      Oh, I had something very similar going on for a few months (couldn’t eat in the mornings, threw up almost every day if I did, got randomly sick after meals, some flavors just made me ill immediately). I have Celiac disease, so I initially thought that maybe I was unknowingly eating gluten, but I looked through everything I was eating and found no suspects (it might be a possibility for you, though, especially if other food allergies or autoimmune diseases run in the family). I saw a nutritionist/naturopathic doctor, which normally I’m super skeptical of, and got tested for food intolerances. They found that I around 10 different ones ranging from mild to more severe, and advised me to not eat those foods for 8-12 weeks and then slowly add them back into my diet. I’ve been doing this for about a month now and while I’m not completely sticking to their advised diet–I’m really only avoiding corn and yeast and gluten at this point, and have cut way down on dairy–the nausea has completely disappeared.

      If my symptoms sound similar to yours, you could try:
      1. Buying magnesium, a probiotic and digestive enzymes to take. The nutritionist I saw put me on these before getting the food intolerance results back, and they made a HUGE difference (but did not clear it up completely). They support digestion, especially of fats and protein. Apparently many people just don’t process those things well, and it can cause lots of gastrointestinal issues. I take these digestive enzymes: http://www.amazon.com/Ortho-Molecular-Product-Digestzyme-Capsules/dp/B000UBIEZW# but I’m sure you could find a cheaper brand if needed.
      2. Try reducing the amount of dairy in your diet, especially if you have relatives who have lactose intolerance. I LOVE dairy, but I have to admit I feel much better only eating about 1 serving a day.
      3. Go to a nutritionist or respectable, food-based naturopath and see if your symptoms are due to food intolerances or a gastrointestinal disorder like celiac’s.

      And yeah, I think you should file a complaint against that doctor. There’s no reason for patients to be treated that way.

      1. Amber Rose

        It’s not my stomach though. It’s my throat.

        I saw a nutritionist but it ended up being a waste of time.

        1. fposte

          So have you had an endoscopy yet? A friend of mine had achalasia, which made her food not go down or not stay down. It took a while before they got to that diagnosis, but she eventually had surgery that absolutely fixed it for her.

          I don’t get why you haven’t been sent to a gastroenterologist. Can you ask to see one?

        2. Merry and Bright

          I had a very similar problem (throat, being sick). In turned out that I am allergic to birch pollen. It is only a few things I react to – tomato, lettuce, apple, avocado and melon (although watermelon is OK and I am fine with cooked tomato and apple). The reaction is in my mouth and throat. Just another possibility. But I hope your problem improves.

          1. Aknownymous

            I have this as well! In fact, I have reactions to the same things you do, plus a few other fruits and vegetables. Cutting them out, especially during high-peak allergy season really improved how I felt.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Not a fan of lawsuits. For one thing they make you dwell on things in the past. And I don’t think the money works out that well for people in most cases. It’s not going to find your answer quicker that is for sure.

      It sounds like a digestive track problem. Of course, the heart is taxed if the digestion is not going well. Am shaking my head. The testing is ridiculous.

    3. Colette

      Did he actually give you any information on your heart? Is he going to send a report to your doctor, who you might be able to work with?

      This sounds like a terrible experience, and I don’t want to minimize that, but most doctors I’ve dealt with aren’t like that. (This one sounds quite pathetic, actually.)

      Is there a relationship between the panic attacks and the indigestion? Are you under an unusual amount of stress? I had a coworker who had similar symptoms when she and her husband bought a house – and since the process lasted for months, the symptoms lasted for months.

      1. Amber Rose

        He said, in passing, that my heart is normal. So there’s that. Most doctors I’ve dealt with are like that. I can’t even tell you… some of my stories would turn your hair white.

        The puking has nothing to do with my stomach, oddly enough. It’s entirely my throat. I constantly feel like my throat is closing. Certain foods aggravate this feeling, and then my gag reflex kicks in and I puke.

        It’s been like this since last year. It’s been a little better since my stress went down, but it’s rough. I can’t eat bread at all for example. I’m down to rice and bland chicken and some soups for things that don’t set me off.

        The doctor thinks maybe my thyroid is swelling into my throat… but has no solution for me. Just keeps treating or testing unrelated crap.

        1. fposte

          Okay, seriously, time to move on from your PCP. You really don’t need to muck around with this “maybe it’s Mars in retrograde” stuff after months of this. Find a GI doc. Esophagi (is that the plural?) can get up to all kinds of things, and that’s where the bad stuff is happening to you, so I’m baffled as to why they haven’t had anybody, you know, *look at yours*.

          1. fposte

            P.S. And go out of town if you have to. I’m 2.5-3 hour drive from bigger medical centers, and while it’s a pain to do the schlepp it’s so, so, so much better than making do with what’s in town. And honestly, I’m worried about you and a pretty significant problem that doesn’t seem to be being handled very well by your medical service. Please go to a GI, preferably one with an official focus on esophageal disorders.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, thyroid test, that’s a good idea.
          Am also wondering about allergy. Bad allergies will do nasty stuff.

        3. Anon369

          Have you checked into celiac disease? The symptoms you describe are most of the symptoms my mom had when she was diagnosed (and coincidentally, I keep randomly dry heaving, so I should check on this too). Also LPR, a form of reflux that is mostly throat and no heartburn.

        4. Anonsie

          Oh gosh. I’m sorry, this is awful. Whenever something like this happens you have to do the tour of specialists and most of them are obnoxious and unhelpful. Figuring out a difficult issue can take months to years and a lot of persistence. I hope you don’t have to go through much more to figure it out.

          I would suggest trying an allergist/immunologist and maybe otolaryngologist.

    4. Aussie Teacher

      What a jerk! Sounds like there was an issue with the stress test – they are meant to hook you up and monitor your heart, and then get you to run on a treadmill. The treadmill is meant to increase in steepness every minute, until it becomes impossible to run, and they measure how your heart handles the stress and how long you can keep going for. Sounds like they didn’t administer the test properly in the first place.
      I recommend finding a different doctor! There are plenty of great ones out there.
      On a side note, when I was getting my Drivers Licence at 17 and signing up to be an organ donor, I nervously asked “This is only when you’re dead, right?” The lady looked at me like I was a total idiot as she answered affirmatively. I was so annoyed – I know people can donate a kidney or part of their liver while still alive, and I just wanted to make sure that I wasn’t going to get a phone call saying “You’re on the donor list, and someone needs your kidney. We’ll come by on Tuesday to get it…”

      1. Amber Rose

        I didn’t have a doctor for a long time because there aren’t any. Not one in my city is accepting new patients. Unless I get pregnant.

      2. knitchic79

        Ohhhhh Aussie now I have tea all over my tablet. :) Amber, definitely get a new doc, no one no matter how many degrees they have gets to make you feel this way.

    5. Christy

      I would do it just for emotional closure. It could help, it could not help, but if the process of complaining about it will help you, then it’s worth it.

      Fwiw I was therapist-shopping and my first try was just awful–I sobbed for hours when I got home, and I’m not really a crier. Talking to my next therapist about her was really helpful.

    6. TL -

      Are you in the USA? If so, can you go out of city for treatment – it might be a hassle but throwing up like that is bad. :(

      If you’re in a PPO and don’t need a referral to see a specialist, I would try to find an ear nose and throat specialist. If you need a referral, your pcp should have passed this on long ago and I would start seriously pressuring her for one. Or change doctors if you can find one within any sort of workable distance.

    7. Vera

      How horrible, hugs for you. I’ve had the same experience with several doctors in several countries, when trying to find help for what was endometriosis. All my life I was told I was lying, exaggerating (because all women suffer pain, it’s normal), that I was looking for drugs, that I wanted excuses to skip classes (in school and college) or work. I kept looking for a doctor, many times changing after just one visit. A couple of times it was so awful I went home crying. Eventually I found one compassionate doctor who made the right call, I had a laparoscopy, which confirm my endometriosis. Now I have my diagnosis, nobody is going to call me names anymore. More hugs for you: if the uncertainty is terrible, it is worst to find jerks with a medical degree, when we are in our most vulnerable state.

  29. LisaLee

    Does anyone have any advice on how to move towards a more adult, mutually respectful relationship with your parents? I’m in my early twenties, out of school, employed, and while my parents have always been very conservative and authoritarian I was hoping that our relationship would naturally evolve but it just hasn’t. Recently I asked to borrow my grandfather’s old car (I live in a city, so I don’t own my own) for a trip to a different city with some friends–we were going to pay them and fill the gas tank–and their response was “We don’t want you travelling there. There’s crime in that city.”

    It’s their car, so of course they can choose not to lend it to me. I told them that was fine and lined up a different car, but when I mentioned that the trip was still on it led to this conversation:
    “But we forbid you to go there.”
    “I lined up a different car, so it’s okay. We’re not going to borrow yours.”
    “But we FORBID you to GO there.”
    “But…you can’t. I am an adult and this is how I am choosing to spend my time.”
    “How dare you disrespect us.”

    I love my parents and I want to have an honest relationship with them, but this cannot continue. Every time I make a decision they disagree with, even very minor ones, we have a slightly different version of the above argument. And I hate what it does to me. They talk over me and don’t listen at all and treat me like a child, and I stop being the calm, collected person I am in my own life and get flustered, upset, and start acting childish. I hate how I allow them to affect me, but I can’t seem to stay rational during these arguments even when I know they’re coming.

    How do you set these boundaries with your parents when you’re an adult? Clearly I’m not being forceful enough, but I’m not sure how to change our relationship without either having even more arguments or just never telling them anything, neither of which are good options.

    1. Graciosa

      I wouldn’t say you’re not being forceful enough – you may actually be trying to be too forceful in a manner of speaking.

      I think you may be making a mistake by continuing to engage with them after they raise an objection or start trying to dictate your behavior or choices. My recommendation is to walk away – hang up the phone – ignore the email or texts once this starts. Shut off your phone if you have to. You’re letting them get you flustered and upset, and starting to act like the child that they perceive you to be. Don’t give them that power.

      “It seems we don’t agree on this, but it is my choice and not open for discussion. If you need some time to process that, I understand. We can catch up about other topics later. Good-bye.”

      Practice this – and some variations on it – if you need to so that it will flow smoothly when you need to use it.

      You’re not going to convince them that they’re wrong by arguing – you need to be the immovable (and absent) object. You can undoubtedly sense when your self-control is starting to fray while you talk to them – the adult thing to do is to get out of the situation before you unravel.

      I know this isn’t easy – but it is possible with persistence and practice. Good luck.

    2. Mephyle

      The third way is to do what you’re going to do without arguing. Deflect or retreat, and don’t let the conversation get stuck on the fact that you’re going to do it anyway.
      Accept that they’re saying this out of love for you and fear of something bad happening to you. Find other things to talk about, not related to the things that scare them, that show that you love them and that living your own life isn’t a rejection or disrespect of them.
      You say “clearly I’m not being forceful enough,” but I don’t think that more forcefulness is going to change their minds. Time passing, and your taking independent decisions and acting on them without seeking their approval may change their attitudes in the long run.

    3. Amber Rose

      Don’t engage and argue.

      “But we forbid you.”

      “I understand your concerns, but I am doing X thing to be sure I’m safe. I’m very excited about this and I hope you would be excited for me too.”

      And if they don’t let it go:

      “I have made my decision about this and would like to talk about something else now.”

      And if they still won’t let it go:

      “I asked if we could talk about something else. If we can’t do that, I’m going to have to leave.”

      And then you leave. Or hang up. And give them some time, a few days maybe, before trying to talk to them again. Rinse and repeat with everything.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        As an adult, you don’t have to JADE

        JADE: Justify, Argue, Defend or Explain.

        As much as you may want to have an honest relationship with your parents LisaLee, they may not be capable of that. Or rather, they may be capable of that so long as you follow the narrow script they want you to life your life by so that they don’t feel threatened which is neither reasonable nor practicable. IMO, you might be better off limiting the things you talk about with them. If they have always been authoritarian and controlling, they are not going to change. They are who they are and you cannot change them.

        You might want to do some googling on the topic of narcissism. I have a feeling that you might be surprised by what you find.

        1. LisaLee

          Yeah, I definitely need to get better at this. Part of it is that as soon as this starts, I have trouble remembering that I am indeed an independent adult who can hang up and not a child who can’t leave the room until their parents are done yelling at them.

          I think maybe too I need to severely limit how available I am to them and just not pick up the phone or share information, but I have two much-younger siblings who I *do* want a relationship with so that’s difficult at times.

          (one more issue for the therapy I am looking into, I guess.)

          1. Anon369

            I actually think you’re doing a good job. One thing to note, that in setting boundaries, the other side doesn’t just back down immediately. It may happen over time, but they’re going to push back, and it’s not a sign you’re doing it wrong.

            1. nona

              This is true, and be ready for an extinction burst: your parents’ immediate reaction might be to worsen their behavior before improving. Again, not a sign that you’re doing anything wrong!

          2. Turanga Leela

            Things to remember:
            1) You are in total control of the situation. There is no negotiation, because you can do what you want. They can be upset or not, but that’s on them.
            2) Be ready to change the topic. Have something else to talk about. You can segue in any number of ways—thank them for their concern, agree that crime is very concerning, or just say, “I’d rather not talk about this”—and then move on to the new topic.
            3) If they insist on discussing your travel plans, reiterate, “I don’t want to talk about this. I’ll call you tomorrow,” and get off the phone (or leave the house, or whatever). You will feel guilty the first few times you do this. Do not apologize and do not call back until the next day. You need to train your parents about where the boundaries are.

            And yeah, therapy is great for this stuff. Shop around for a good therapist if you need to; they vary a lot in terms of skill, style, and type of therapy.

    4. JMW

      Read Dance of Anger. It is the BEST book for teaching yourself how to change a relationship by changing yourself. It has lots of anecdotes so you can see it in practice before you try it yourself. A classic. Your library will probably have it.

    5. Anonymous Educator

      In your particular situation, probably the best thing to do is not to communicate with them about decisions/plans… pretty much anything they can give you a hard time over. You’re employed, you said. And I’m assuming you’re not living at home?

      If something like this comes up again (you want to visit some place and need a car), don’t ask your parents to borrow your grandfather’s car or tell them what you’re using it for—make alternate arrangements proactively. In other words, the less you have to ask them for stuff or tell them about stuff, the less they can object to or make a big deal over.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I agree with this LisaLee.

        When you pick up the phone because you’re excited and want to share your plans or news with your parents, it’s partly because you crave their approval. You want them to be equally excited and happy for you, supportive of your plans and goals… but they may not be capable of that unless the goal is something they already want for you.

        If you want to keep in touch with your younger siblings, call them, talk to them. If they have access to the internet, give them your e-mail address, or get one that you use just for them. You may have to have a talk with your siblings about the stuff you guys talk about it just for you, that your parents wouldn’t understand. Some parents use triangulation vhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangulation_%28psychology%29 as a way to create discord between their children, or use the children to report back on what the “outsider” is up to. You may innocently tell one of your sibs that you’re going to vacation in X city that you are forbidden to go to by your parents and said sibling will just mention it casually (or perhaps under questioning) and then it will be just as bad and maybe worse if you told them yourself. It sucks and it’s not right but it happens.

        I really encourage you to find a good therapist and hash this all out. You will be so much further ahead in the game of life if you do it now.

    6. Oh anon

      I have parents like this…actually worse. I moved across the country to get myself away from the situation (they accused my boyfriend of kidnapping me) and eventually, because they continued to be disrespectful and, at times, verbally abusive, I just had to stop communicating with them.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I’m sorry that happened to you. You also may find some interestingly similar stories if you google raised by narcissists.

        1. oh anon

          Life is much better now, Not So NewReader! Cutting off communication, though sad, was like having a weight lifted off me! Dynamic Beige, thanks for the recommendation, I’ve actually read raised by narcissists, based on a previous recommendation by a commenter here.

    7. blue_eyes

      Check out the blog Captain Awkward if you haven’t already. She’s an advice columnist who gives great advice and scripts around boundary setting and I’m sure she’s covered a situation similar to yours at some point. Or you can write to her about your situation.

    8. Artemesia

      If I had parents like this my life would be a black hole as far as they were concerned with no information leaving it. And this is the way people have dealt with this from time immemorial. Don’t tell them your plans. When you are asked, be vague. You are not going to change the people they are; your only shot is by living your life in such a way that they have no choice. And don’t JADE — Justify, Argue, Defend, Explain. You are subordinate to the person you have to justify yourself to; so just stop doing it. You are already on your way because you have chosen to do what you want to do; many people with parents like yours allow them to dominate their lives through much of adulthood. You are already ahead of the game.

    9. Shell

      I’m taking a wild guess based on your username, but…are you Asian? Because this sort of disconnect is totally common for gen 1/gen 1.5 immigrants. If you’re not Asian/not immigrants, please disregard everything I’m going to say here.

      For my parents, the underlying current is fear, and because of language impediments, they also fear that If Something Happens, they would be ill-prepared to deal with anything because their English isn’t so great. This is why I sometimes still have to go with them to get their driver’s license renewed, etc. Hell, yesterday my mother was still concerned about my taking a walk alone in a very-frequented park trail because Something Might Happen (and the common refrain since childhood is that “if Something Happens, I probably can’t even explain everything to the police clearly, so don’t get into anything”).

      I’ve found that with my parents, taking a hard line approach–i.e. I am an adult and this is how I choose to spend my time, I do not need to justify–right off the bat backfires significantly. Sometimes it’s justified, e.g. my dating life, but most times it doesn’t need to go there. I start with an explanation to assuage their oft-ridiculous fear (e.g. I might be “alone” in going to the park because I don’t have a friend, but there are so many people at the park that this is irrelevant). They often push back with a “but…!” after which I repeat my argument, a little firmly. By the third round of “but”, then I go “this is not up for discussion” and then go. (I admit I’m not always perfect at executing this.)

      This approach still gets into arguments, but giving them some explanation–instead of shutting down the conversation from the get-go–works better in the long run because to them, I’ve shown that I have considered all the angles and consequences, making them the not-thoughtful one, not me. And over time, they tend to accept my explanations at round 1 and 2 and never get to round 3.

      Of course, if your parents’ dynamics are different, ignore me entirely. But in calmer moments my parents have explained to me that explaining away their–again, oft-irrational–fears does wonders for them trusting my ability to run my own life.

    10. Masters Degree Searcher

      Wow, that sounds like my mother (except a bit more extreme). A lot of the time, it was “we don’t want you going into NEast of X City, it’s dangerous. Thing is, most of my friends are clustered there. So I went there anyway, didn’t tell my parents. And when I got back, I’d show them beautiful photos of that city I’d taken, and a couple clips of how the city was up-and-coming. Then I’d go back there again and if it was super late at night, I’d spend the night at a friend’s place. Of course, my mom reached her limit and actually locked me out of the family house when I returned but by then I was able to move to a nice apartment with money I was making working.

      They still kind of really drive me up the wall–they’re forcing me to take the bar a 4th time or face (financial) disownment. I filled out forms and figured I’d submit them but mention something about duress in the part where you have to discuss a rule of professional conduct, and how duress can damage the legal system/practice of law, so they’ll not allow me to take the bar in the first place. I have backup plans in place. Even if they force you into their scheme, you can do little things here and there to destroy their plans.

      I also have a full time job but apparently it’s not good enough. Also have a bf who gave me chocolates for Vday and my mom asked what brand of chocolates (to see if it was too cheap) and told me his masters in biotech was such a waste and that he should’ve gone to med school instead. Meh, ’tis life.

  30. Tara

    I read Brave New World for the first time last week. Started on Wednesday, finished on Friday. What an interesting read. I didn’t care for the characters overmuch, but the worldbuilding was right up my alley and it was nice to read a dystopia that wasn’t centered around romance (slowly starting to give up on YA for that reason). I’m now reading The Handmaid’s Tale, which I haven’t picked up since the first time I read it in eighth grade. I’m really enjoying being able to get some of the smaller details that I missed or didn’t have the context to understand before.

    This is the first time I’ve actually been excited about books for English class. Next up is 1984, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Fahrenheit 451, none of which I’ve read!

      1. Jen RO

        I didn’t get the hype about Slaughterhouse Five, but both 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are good.

    1. The IT Manager

      1984 is dark – so much darker than Brave New World despite both being classic dystopias. I haven’t read the others in so long, I’m not sure what to say. Slaughterhouse-Five is not straightforward (time travel, dreams, psychosis, I can’t recall exactly) whereas I think both 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 are.

      I would probably read 1984, Fahrenheit 451, and then Slaughterhouse-Five. 1984 might be best appreciated near Brave New World, and I think I’d save Slaughterhouse-Five for last.

      1. the gold digger

        I am wearing a lovely plush robe my sister got me for Christmas. The company that made the robe is called “Soma.” I saw that and wondered, “Do they not have a single person working there who read ‘Brave New World?'”

    2. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests

      Not that I’d want to argue against you reading it, but Slaughterhouse 5 isn’t a “dystopia” book. But Vonnegut is a pretty easy read compared to Orwell and Huxley – you may want to do a Two-For-One and read Cat’s Cradle (also not a dystopia), too.

      If you like Margaret Atwood, you might like Oryx and Crake, which *is* a dystopia (which she stretched out into a trilogy, and HBO is doing them up as a miniseries soon).

      This Perfect Day by Ira Levin is a very good (and unjustly overlooked) dystopian novel. Levin’s other works include Rosemary’s Baby and The Stepford Wives and The Boys From Brazil, ie, it’s not like “Oh, my uncle Ira wrote a great book about that, you’ve gotta read it!” :)

      If you can handle quirky, hardcore-fans-only stuff, see if you can find Half Past Human by T. J. Bass.

        1. The IT Manager

          I really John Wyndham too.

          I mentioned above that I am reading less sci fi than I used to. I think part of it is that I prefer classic sci fi and a lot of the novels published recently aren’t to my taste. Also just too long. What happened to books that were less than 200 pages.?

    3. Kat

      Farenheit 451- I just read it again recently. I’d read that next then 1984.

      One book that I recently read and hated was Catcher In The Rye. I know I read it during my school years but I forgot what it was about. I cannot believe it has ended up on banned book lists, it’s crap and not very scandalous.

      1. Elizabeth West

        It’s banned because it has the word fuck in it. Twice! I like it; it’s one of my favorite books, but I tried to read Franny and Zooey and just could not do it.

        I hope someday I write a book that people ban. Heh, that would be fun. I think I already did; but we’ll see, if I can ever get it out there.

        1. trust in me and fall as well

          It’s banned because it has the word fuck in it. Twice!

          Wow. I’ve written emails at work that are worse than that.

          I think it’s harder to get banned nowadays. A lot harder.

          On the other hand, I wonder if Nabokov could publish Lolita today?

          1. TL -

            I don’t want to live in a world where 50 shades of grey can get published but Lolita can’t.

            But I actually bet it could.

          2. I will find a center in you

            But aren’t they only banned by US schools, school districts, or states? I don’t think it’s banned to sell or read The Catcher in the Rye in the US – I read it in school, but grew up in Canada. It’s only banned by some US schools or sometimes entire states. I was told the banning is because Holden is gay and the government wants to forbid mentions or insinuations of homosexuality. I honestly had no idea that Holden is gay, not that it changes much about the book in my mind. I read it when I was ~15 so maybe I just missed it.

            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Right, the U.S. doesn’t ban books in the sense of not allowing them to be read or sold (anymore). When people talk about banned books in the U.S., they’re referring to libraries or schools banning them.

        2. Merry and Bright

          Love it! At school I “discovered” D H Lawrence because my class teacher told me not to read Lady Chatterley’s Lover. So, naturally I did.

      2. FD

        Holden is so whiny. He reminds me of a LiveJournal blogger who wants everyone to know how real he is and who unironically uses the phrase “Wake up, sheeple!”

        In fairness, that is how a lot of smart teenagers really are (I was the ultra-conservative religious one myself). Still, when I can’t like the character and I don’t think he as the narrator has anything interesting to say, I don’t have much time for the book.

        1. Elizabeth West

          I think of it more as a character study than anything else, but I guess you have to connect with the character. Maybe that’s why I liked it, because I first read it as a teenager and not an adult. I really love his sister Phoebe, however. She’s definitely the best character.

        2. Tara

          I didn’t like Catcher in the Rye and assumed it was a generational thing since none of my other friends who’ve read it did either. I thought Holden was a pretentious a** and reminded me of the boys in my gifted program who liked to knock things over and be rude to the teacher because they were above everyone else. Sigh.

          1. Not So NewReader

            I thought so, too. But when I was going to school teachers thought it was the thing.

            There were other books that were quite popular. Death be not Proud, Deathman Do Not Follow Me. I had to read those every year for five years, starting in eighth grade. So in junior year when we hit The Bell Jar, I just stopped reading. I bluffed my way through the course and came out with a B or B minus. (shrug) I don’t think we were equipped to deal with those types of stories. I know I wasn’t.

          2. Ask a Manager Post author

            Yeah, I think its popularity is very much tied to how it resonated with a particular generation at a particular time. It’s interesting because it’s kept its reputation as a voice of disaffected youth, but I don’t know that it really is that anymore. It’s almost like if I, as a Gen Xer, decided that the Douglas Copeland’s writings from the 1990s should speak for all teens/20somethings now, which I assume most people agree would be weird. But I think (some) baby boomers haven’t totally figured that out about Catcher in the Rye, and hence it continues to be assigned in school, etc.

          3. Felicia

            How old are you if you don’t mind me asking? I’m 25 (well i will be on Tuesday!) and I didn’t like Catcher in the Rye, and felt similarly about Holden. And none of my friends of my age group liked it either (we were required to read it in grade 11, and no one in the grade seemed to like it).

            1. Tara

              Happy birthday! I will be 18 a week Tuesday. I think even the people who connect to Holden today are looking for a bit more action with their introspection… I love character-driven books and even I was begging for a bit of plot by the halfway point.

            2. Stephanie

              Yeah, I found Holden whiny as well. I was just glad it was a quick read. (I’m 28.)

    4. periwinkle

      Brave New World is one of my favorite books, but a couple things puzzle me:
      1. In theory, gender discrimination shouldn’t be a thing, nor should the glass ceiling. Women’s careers aren’t interrupted by reproduction, everyone is a sexual object, and everyone is taught/sleep-taught/conditioned in the same caste-appropriate way. And yet, the only Alpha/Beta female characters in Brave New World are nurses, secretaries, childcare workers, and teachers.
      2. What caste was Lenina, anyway? In context she is likely a Beta, but why is she always wearing Gamma Green instead of Beta Mulberry?

      1. Tara

        I was contemplating 1 as I was reading, in particular the fact that sex is still framed as ‘having’ a girl. I think the conclusion that I came to was just that it was written in the 30s. Even if his best imaginings, he couldn’t contemplate a world where women had equal opportunities and where casual sex wasn’t demeaning for them. I think it’s interesting to read as a 90s baby, since a lot of the things that were supposed to be so shocking were just… not.

    5. FD

      I love Brave New World! It’s my favorite dystopia.

      The characters aren’t very strong–But I think part of it is that they aren’t supposed to be characters as much as archetypes. John Savage, for example, is supposed to represent the idea of the “noble savage”–someone who holds ideas perceived as backwards by society, but has an inherent moral greatness, usually associated with self-abrogation and/or with being more ‘in tune’ with the moral and spiritual world. For example, the reservation he lives on has little medical science and isn’t as clean and sterile as the primary society. But John reads Shakespeare and practices ascetecism (to the point of suicide, ultimately).

      Bernard Marx represents a critique of communism–dissatisfied with the world, and in many cases with real problems in the world. And yet, when he gets a chance to have influence and power, he enjoys the pleasures and satisfactions of fame as much as anyone else. He also represents the idea that a society where everyone their physical needs met could still be an empty one.

      Helmholtz (the reference is to Hermann von Helmholtz, an important scientist who also developed a philosophy regarding what it means to perceive something) represents a genius who wants something more. He also draws on the kind of person who could become a Platonic philosopher-king, but lacks the full understanding. He also feels calm about going into exile because he knows he’ll be able to have experiences that will let him get closer to the understanding he craves.

      In regards to which one you should read next–I’ve never been able to get through 1984. I can forgive a lot of things for being the product of its time, but I can’t really stand the raging misogyny. It goes past the awkward, unconscious sexism that I expect in works of that time. For example, as pointed out down thread, in Brave New World, women are still put in care-giving roles even though there’s no logical reason for it to be that way. But in 1984, the protagonist says he hates young, pretty women and fantasizes about raping them. Charming. In addition, the message isn’t all that interesting. Extreme nationalism and totalitarianism are bad. Thank you, Captain Obvious. That doesn’t mean it can’t give rise to good dialogues–I think that sometimes some of the most problematic books can lead to the best discussions. Since you have to read all three for class, I’d probably do this one next, since you can get it out of the way.

      Fahrenheit 451 shouldn’t be as good as it is. It’s considered to be a book about the dangers of censorship, though Bradbury actually envisioned it as being a book about the dangers of easily consumed media becoming an opiate. Either way, it’s not an inherently strong concept; it’s about a person who’s supposed to burn books, keeps one, and has a crisis of faith in society. Somehow the prose really works, though. I also think the characters are very vivid, even characters who actually play a very minor role. It also does a good job of creating very visceral images–there’s a scene which involves an overdose which I truly think is one of the most haunting in all of literature.

      (I can’t speak to Slaughterhouse 5; I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.)

      1. Tara

        Oh, interesting thoughts about the characters! John was actually the character that bothered me the most, and I think it was because he seemed to be written as the voice of morality. He terrorizes and later beats Lenina, but (as far as I could tell) the narrative seemed to present him as the sort of hero of the book. I also found the ending of his story wasn’t as compelling as it should have been; I just didn’t care that he was dead. Marx was aggravating but I could easily pick up on the purpose of the character, while I actually really liked Helmholtz and Lenina both. I’ll definitely have to read it again and see if my ideas change.

        Thanks for the heads up about 1984. My only problem with my English teacher is she didn’t give any warning at all about the content in some of these books. Watching people discover the plot of The Handmaid’s Tale has been unpleasant, to say the least, and there’s a girl who I know has tried to commit suicide reading Brave New World right now and I don’t know whether I should warn her about the ending as I have no idea if it could trigger her. I suppose it can kind of be assumed that these kinds of books will deal with heavy content, but still.

        I think my plan is 1984, then Fahrenheit 451, then Slaughterhouse Five. I’m not a huge fan of time travel, so I might just skip that if the teacher will let me (we only have to read 2 but we’re expected to keep going if we finish before the end of semester).

        1. FD

          I don’t honestly think there’s supposed to be a hero. All the characters we focus on substantially have both insight and downfalls. For example, John is so unable to accept vice that he cannot come to terms with his own concupiscence, which ultimately leads to his suicide.

          I compare him to Javert from Les Miserables–a character who is morally righteous yet untempered by mercy. I think that it’s meant to parallel the Bible to some extent as well–driving out Lenina brings to mind Jesus overturning the moneylender’s tables, as well as the temptations in the dessert. However, ultimately, John’s actions are cruel and his suicide isn’t redemptive–it doesn’t have any meaning or larger purpose other than to be a spectacle for the masses.

          I tend to see John and Mustapha Mond as cautionary tales about extremes–extreme asceticism and extreme decadence. Neither can produce healthy societies or healthy people. Interestingly, Huxley went on to write a much less well known utopian novel, called Island, which explores a more moderate path between the two.

          I’m sorry, I don’t get to talk literature that much so I tend to go off on tangents. XD

  31. EvilQueenRegina

    So I’ve got this situation going on with my family right now.

    Bit of context first of all. My aunt recently finished a course of radiotherapy for a brain tumour and she and my uncle are going away to Germany next week to celebrate. My uncle is self employed (he owns his own store) and it’s easy enough for him to take time off at a moment’s notice. While my aunt’s partly involved with the store, she also has her own job employed by a supermarket. Mum and I both have an employer.

    So this trip to Germany has been vaguely discussed for a while, put on hold while waiting to see if my aunt could fly, then confirmed just recently, and my uncle asked if Mum and I wanted to go. He’d given about two days notice which doesn’t really allow enough time to get the time off, get accommodation and flights booked etc. He didn’t take it well that we both said no on the grounds of lack of notice, and kept saying things like “Don’t just say no, think about it” , “Just make an excuse and come anyway!” and oddly “It might be the last chance you ever get to go” (we live in England, so it isn’t that hard to get to Germany).

    In June, I’ll be taking part in the Race for Life for Cancer Research, and they’d been invited down to come and support me in the race that weekend. I mentioned it to my uncle whose response was “We’ll have to see if R can get time off work.” While that may be technically true, it jarred a little with me that that line of reasoning was good enough for them with a few months notice but not for me on two days.

    Mum thought they might have been saying that to prove a point. To put it into context, they have done this before and not taken it in that I can’t drop everything and clear off abroad on that little notice. Last year, they tried asking us to Barcelona on very little notice and when the answer was no for that reason as well they responded to it by inviting themselves to stay for Christmas. This was July, so I wondered even then if they had invited themselves so early to make a point.

    Truth is, there’s a lot that I won’t get into but there have been other issues where I’ve felt with these relatives that what I’m saying isn’t being listened to and taken on board. Am I unreasonable to be annoyed by this?

    1. LAMM

      Have you talked to them about how much notice you need to be able join them on a trip?

      I used to get annoyed that my family would email me on Tuesday (for example) asking if I was going to be at the family gathering that Saturday. Then when I responded with no… I didn’t know there was such an event and can’t make it because of work, they would get annoyed. Then I realised that it wasn’t that they were intentionally leaving me out of things… they just forget that I work the weekends, so they cannot assume I can just swing by whenever. So I started replying “No.. I generally need 3 weeks (or whatever) notice to request a day off.” And when they would start planning the next get together I would say “Sounds great! Just let me know as soon as you have a date picked out so I can request it off… I need about 3 weeks notice.” And repeat. Often. As often as you can until it sticks. It took my dad’s family about 6 months to “reset” their expectations of me for these kinds of things. Now they know if they plan a last minute thing, there’s a large chance I cannot attend. And while I started working on this with them during the summer when it was just family bbqs, they know it extends to major holidays as well… like last year when they decided they were doing Thanksgiving at the last minute. They knew there was a chance I’d have to skip it/leave early.

      If they generally don’t listen… not sure how much this will help. But once the expectation is clearly laid out, you are completely justified by being annoyed.

    2. Not So NewReader

      I think you are justified in being annoyed. But if this is their habit, their way of doing things then you could find yourself annoyed more often than you would like.

      Family member used to have a birthday party for their child in the middle of the afternoon. Neither my husband or I could attend. We said we had to work, but if they had the party later we would try to get there.

      They never changed the time. Years rolled by the party was always mid-afternoon.

      I think some people get so used to their own work setting that they fail to understand other people have a different setting. And there really is no explaining it to them, they are so immersed in their own world.

      You can try explaining it, again. Maybe in a moment when they are not traveling, so the excitement is not distracting them from concentrating on your words. You could tell them that you would love to go, but you need to know x weeks in advance.

      We went to a place in our heads where we decided if they are not worried about it then why would we put so much energy into worrying about it. In the end, people do not listen to what we are saying eventually cause the relationship to wilt and perhaps drift apart. Relationships require a back and a forth, have to have it.

    3. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests

      No, you’re not unreasonable. I’ve had this kind of thing happen to me in the past: I’m minding my own business, life is good, and then someone – perhaps with the best of intentions – drops an “opportunity” on me that is going to make me unhappy, regardless of what I choose.

      Based on what you wrote, I think I would try to stick to my guns. For most of us, our jobs are not trivial, optional pursuits that we can drop or pick up on a whim.

    4. Elizabeth West

      No, you’re not, but I wouldn’t hold my breath trying to change it.

      My family always has to have holiday stuff ON the holiday. If I can’t get off work or have to work the next day, I have to drive three hours, shove food in my face, and turn around and drive back three hours right away. That would be a six-hour drive in one day, with barely any time there. Not worth it.

      They won’t move things around even if it works for everyone else. Nope, if Christmas is on Thursday, like it was this year, all the family stuff HAS to be THAT DAY. Grr. So they had to have it without me. >:(

      1. Artemesia

        When my daughter married one of the first things I told her was ‘I realize your life is now complicated with MIL/FIL, your husband’s sisters and then their in laws yadda yadda — so just let us know when you can see us around holidays – or if you can see us. We like to see you and don’t care about when it is. So when you get things sorted out with the rest of the family, let us know.’ One effect was that we had them for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning for years and they would then go to dinner with SIL’s family.

        I can’t fathom putting the ‘exact date’ ahead of people. And I can’t fathom making people miserable by expecting them to drive from place to place with small kids on a holiday. If we have to have ours a week later — well the important thing is seeing the family as often as possible when we don’t live near each other —

        1. Elizabeth West

          That’s awesome. My brother lives near my mum, and his in-laws are considered family as well, so we usually take turns doing stuff with them. My sister and her husband live further north. They don’t always make it and I usually don’t go if they’re not coming. But this year, Christmas on Thursday just wasn’t a thing for me because I was still making up PTO from the UK trip and I could not take Friday off. I wish Christmas would be on a specific day of the month, not a calendar day, the way Thanksgiving is. Then it would be the same time every year and we could all make a three or four-day weekend around it. Soooo much easier to plan!

          I don’t have small kids (a whinge for another day) but a six-hour drive in one twenty-four-hour period is just beyond my capabilities mentally. Nope.

  32. Regina Phalange

    So, I feel like a freak for admitting this, but there is a Friends episode I saw recently that hits really close to home. Ross makes Phoebe realize she is in her 30’s and has never been in a serious relationship. Am I the only one out there? I have a terrible “picker”, etc, but it’s not lack of want, things just never work out. Feel like a freak sometimes.

    1. Anon for this

      I’m in my 20s and haven’t dated at all since I was 15. I don’t think we’re the only ones out there – the rest of us are just quiet. :)

    2. Regular going anon for this one

      Nope. I’m in my late 20s and have never been in a serious relationship. I’ve dated and had sex, just never had a serious relationship where I would bring someone home to meet the family. My mom saw some books from an Intro to LGBT studies class I took back in college and did the awkward “Honey, if there’s something you want to tell me…” (“No, Mom, this actually is for a class…I am not indirectly coming out.”)

      I agree that that there are more of us than people are led to believe. I was a late bloomer. For me, I think it was a lot of things. I haven’t had the greatest self-confidence and it took a while for me to accept that there are plenty of normal guys who aren’t looking for a Kate Upton copy. I am also very bad at noticing when someone is flirting with me. I also liked being uncoupled enough that I usually had to ask myself if being coupled with a potential interest was better than being alone.

      Anyway, this is all to say, you’re not a freak.

    3. Christy

      First of all, Ross is a grade-A Nice Guy who is generally a really crappy human, and I remember being really pissed at that moment of that episode.

      And you’re not a freak. Or rather, we’re all freaks, or we all feel like freaks. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was 21 and I felt like a freak. Was I? No.

    4. Anon for This

      Nope, you’re not the only one! I am like that as well, and also feel weird about it at times. (I periodically wonder if I’m asexual…but then I conclude that I have no way of knowing without more relationship experience.) I especially feel strange about it since I think I might want kids one day, but don’t have much desire for a spouse/SO, outside of purely practical reasons.

    5. Not So NewReader

      FWIW, I know plenty of single people of all ages. And some of them are choosing to be single- they prefer it. If we use this gauge here, then the people who choose to remain on their own are off the chart in weirdness.

      TV sells a lot of misconceptions, it keeps people upset and moving about. It’s a money maker. This is a misconception designed to motivate people by poking their concerns.

      When I watched tv, (I don’t anymore) I used to challenge myself so see how closely the products advertised on the show lined up with the topic of the show that night. I noticed some weird “coincidences”.

    6. Jessica

      I’ve been in a serious relationship, but I’ve been single for years and LOVE it. I’m in my early 30’s and have no plans to change my relationship status, though I’m not opposed either…. just not actively looking to change it. Live your life to the fullest and don’t feel weird. It’s awesome if you allow it to be awesome.

      I’ve also noticed that the only people that have an issue with me being single are the ones that aren’t super happy in their relationships. Actually had a person tell me that I needed to get married so that I could be as happy as she was. Gah! Some people will never get it. Be happy with yourself first, whether you’re single or not.

        1. Jen RO

          It’s sooo gooood when my boyfriend has to travel for work. I sometimes really miss living alone.

        2. CoffeeLover

          I love being single. I’m in serious relationship a lot younger than I originally planned (I love him, but I had at least another 5 years of blissful singlehood on my horizon!). After visiting him in Europe for a few months, we’ll have about 2 years of long distance dating before living together again. I’m starting to think that’s not so bad :P.

        3. AvonLady Barksdale

          Same here. There were times when I hated it, but once I realized that I enjoy being alone, it was great. I lived alone, I made my own schedule, I did things I wanted to do when I wanted to do them… I managed to find a man who fit nicely into my routine and I love being with him, but like JenRO, I LOVE IT when he’s out of the house. And he knows this.

    7. FD

      I don’t think you’re a freak! I didn’t date for the first time until I was 26. I hadn’t even kissed anyone before that, let alone done anything else.

      Sometimes, things just don’t happen to ‘click’. I don’t think it makes you a freak.

      1. Merry and Bright

        Exactly right. My Dad told me that who you marry is much more important than if or when.

        I love living on my own and, close family aside, so many people just don’t get that.

    8. blue_eyes

      You’re not alone! One of my best friends is in her late 20s and has never been in a relationship. In fact, I don’t think she’d even kissed anyone until after college. She’s awesome (attractive, fun, nerdy, smart, well-traveled) and we can’t figure out why relationships just don’t seem to happen for her. On the flip side, she has a job that she loves, is saving money to buy a house soon, and is able to travel abroad almost every year.

    9. AvonLady Barksdale

      I started my first serious relationship the day before my 33rd birthday (we’re still together). I had never dated anyone for longer than 6 months, and I never brought anyone home. I wasn’t the most emotionally healthy person in my 20s (understatement!), but after putting in some time and getting to a point of self-acceptance, I realized that being on my own was so much better than being with someone just to be with him. I learned to enjoy my own company and to make conscious choices about who I spend my time with. It was liberating. The best, BEST part of being single and enjoying it was that when I met my boyfriend, there was no more pressure to make it work– I could just let it be. While I want to be with him and I love our life together, I know that if this ends, I will be just fine. Doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s amazingly empowering to me.

    10. Sunflower

      I’m 26 and have never been in a serious relationship. I don’t think it’s weird or that there’s anything wrong with me but other people think it’s strange. It’s not like I’ve never had strong feelings for someone or had a connection with them but life just got in the way and it didn’t work out. I wasn’t a late bloomer, I’m not shy and I really enjoy ‘hanging out’ with guys. I’ve wanted relationships with guys who didn’t with me. Guys have wanted relationships with me and I haven’t felt the same.

      I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me per se but I do think I have some issues that have caused me to not commit. I just want to experience everything and the idea of being tied down to someone isn’t very appealing to me right now. I don’t sit around and wonder ‘why am i still single, what am I doing wrong’ so I don’t think there’s anything I need to change. If you are having those thoughts and/or are unhappy, then it might be worth looking a little further inward.

  33. Stephanie

    Etiquette question: I went to lunch earlier today and some cash fell out my pocket. I couldn’t find the cash, called the restaurant by chance and it was there. The owner said she found it (I told her where I was sitting and when I was there) and I could come get it tonight.

    Should I do anything as a thank-you? I wasn’t even sure exactly how much it was (my mom just gave me some extra cash she had this morning), so it was good of her to say she had it when I couldn’t even confirm the amount. My family are regulars there (she knows us by name and our regular order).

    1. Kimmy Gibbler

      I would thank the owner sincerely and tell him/her that you’d going to leave a kind review on Yelp, etc. mentioning their honesty and good service.

        1. Stephanie

          I do! That’s actually how I found this place. I take them with a grain of salt and discard the ones where people complain about the fork shapes (or something similarly trivial), but they can be useful.

          1. Kimmy Gibbler

            Me too. I travel a lot, and rely heavily on reviews from TripAdvisor for hotels, which have rarely steered me wrong (assuming you discount the random nutters who will clearly complain about every little thing and will never be happy with anything in life). I turn to Yelp a lot for restaurant reviews and suggestions, even if it’s just “OMG, you have to eat the X dish at this restaurant, it’s so amazing.” If 10 different people have said that in an online review, I will give it some weight!

        2. Ask a Manager Post author

          I find pretty much everything through Yelp — hair place, dry cleaners, restaurants, everything. It’s easier when you’re somewhere densely populated though; there tend to be more reviews in urban areas because there are more people doing the reviewing.

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics

        Yelp often deletes or obscures glowing reviews (it has happened to me). Google “yelp deletes positive reviews” or similar terms to see why — I don’t bother to review anymore because wanting to reward stellar service is more motivating to me than kvetching, and apparently my superlatives make the Yelp software suspicious.

        TripAdvisor, Open Table, or Google Reviews might be a better bet. I do read online reviews, but I’ve really soured on Yelp because of it, although I still use it.

        1. Sunflower

          Really that’s kind of bizarre? I just wrote a rave review of somewhere, specifically citing an instance of great service when they went out of their way to help me out, and I had no issues

        2. Windchime

          Yelp also deletes or hides negative reviews. I left one for a Thai restaurant that used to be nearby; it was a family business and they had the child of one of their staff on site. The child was a toddler who didn’t know any better, but the parent would let this little kid run through the restaurant, screaming and crying. The kid would come up to your table and stare at you while you ate. So I left a review on Yelp, and it was hidden away and discounted. So….what’s the point of leaving a review?

          1. Cath in Canada

            Yeah, I left a negative review of a restaurant that served me raw chicken (not “a bit undercooked” – raw), and it got hidden. Because obviously that’s not important information that other diners might wish to know.

            (I didn’t get sick, luckily. I’ve had two really bad bouts of food poisoning in my life where chicken was the most likely culprit, which have left me with chronic GI problems, so I’m super paranoid about food safety now, and this incident caused me some anxiety symptoms until I knew I was in the clear. I’d stop eating chicken, but it’s just so tasty…)

  34. Computer Guy Eli

    Fantastic news.

    For all you out there who understandably don’t remember me, I’ve recently been having some issues with my sick parents. Due to financial issues my parents were facing, I quit college and moved back in with them to be the sole income-earner. A month ago I was selling my stuff to pay for their oxycodone, and now I make nothing but spending money!

    My dad’s a member of some special group for a native american tribe in arizona, and they just recently passed some type of legislation that basically pays for his utilities in the form of 500 per month. We got all payments of that since they passed it, so a 2000$ check came in the mail, Alongside another 500$ check for this month, Alongside a 500$ check addressed for my mom (For some reason she got a check from the treasury. No clue why.) Alongside me getting “Promoted” to Overhaul Guard. (Essentially I get the privelage to take on another job that will let me work 12 hour shifts at 13$ an hour anytime I’m not working, for the next few months.) All this combined with me getting a 1000$ tax refund in the mail, and mom and dad are about to be getting their disability of 500$+ a month each? The ship is in clear waters my friends!

    1. Graciosa

      I’m really happy for you – I know it’s been tough for a while, and I’m thrilled to know that things are improving.

    2. Anastasia Beaverhausen

      That’s good news. Remembering your comments from a few months ago, I am surprised to see your dad is a member of a group like this, I hope you’ll look up the history behind this legislation!

  35. Computer Guy Eli

    Secondary question. I want to learn more about web development because I feel that would be a career that I could enjoy doing, but I only have fundamental HTML and CSS knowledge. (I’ve finished the codecademy course on HTML 2.5 times) College is out of the question for the moment, so does anyone have any ideas for resources I can use to get me on the path of making a actually good looking website?

      1. The IT Manager

        Oh no! I fear I may not be as helpful as you’d like. This IT manager is a software development project manager and I haven’t coded in years. The language my coders write in is M or MUMPS. You’ve never heard of it? Me either, until I got my present job. I was shocked that there was a language I’d quite literally never heard of before, but there you go – it’s quite specialized.

        I know there’s some folks in this community that can help you, and I do hope they pop in and see this.

        I might recommend you do a bit of research (ie googleing). Maybe look for a web design forum/blog you like. Your next step from what you know already might likely be learning JavaScript and playing around with that. You do have to play around with it and try projects with it. A class or book will have assignments, but then you give your own small projects a try. Also study up on good GUI design. It sound like you’re interested in coding, but you still need to understand that side of it.

        1. Computer Guy Eli

          You’ve failed me!

          Just kidding! I -have- always wanted to get into software development though. Honestly, I just want to do something with computers where I can see my progress and then maintain it upon completion. Websites seem to be exactly what I’m thinking of.

          Thanks still!

        2. CAA

          I’ve heard of MUMPS! Didn’t know anyone still used it. It used to be mainly found in hospital / health apps. Is that your industry?

          1. The IT Manager

            Yes, indeed. I am one of many PMs for the largest healthcare system in the US and we have a ton of legacy MUMPS code. It’s starting to be integrated with java, web, or other GUI front ends, but the much of the data in still accessible only through MUMPS.

    1. CAA

      Hmmmm. If you want to make good looking websites — learn about:

      Technologies:
      – html5
      – responsive design using a framework — Skeleton is one that my teams have used, but there are many more
      – css — Sass is very trendy right now
      – JavaScript frameworks such as jQuery, AngularJS
      – then pick up some CMS systems such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal

      General Skills:
      – visual design concepts
      – user centered design

      I don’t have any specific resources, but try googling for tutorials on these topics. If you had these skills, you could do freelance website development and possibly get a job as a front-end web developer.

      To be a back-end web developer, software developer, or software engineer, you need to understand design patterns like MVC and DAO; and have languages like Java, C# or PHP. If you want to work in large open source enterprise environments, you need server technologies like .Net, JBoss, Glassfish or Tomcat.

    2. C Average

      I’d also spend some time reading the archives of JoelOnSoftware.com (because he is a genius and he will inspire you) and SethGodin.com (ditto). These are guys who have used code (and a knowledge of what it can do) to build cool and original things. I find that when I’m trying to learn new html stuff or something like that, I’m more likely to press on if I’m periodically reminding myself WHY I want these skills.

      1. Connie-Lynne

        If you’re interested at all in back-end development or systems engineering, Usenix posts most if not all of their conference proceedings on youtube. Python and bash scripting are still the stalwarts there.

        I’d suggest you also try out codeschool.com; I really liked their git tutorials and I hear good things from my coworkers about their Node/JS and Ruby tutorials.

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        JoelOnSoftware is great, plus he can write. Then join the StackOverflow community. You can look up and ask questions. But look up first — many, many questions are already asked and answered.

        I don’t do web development; I’m a database programmer. There is a lot of specialization, because there is so much to know. The number of languages and environments and problems to be solved via computers are comparable to the types of cars over the years and all their mechanical and electrical systems, as well as body types, upholstery, and more. If I know manual transmissions for AMC models from the 50s and you know fuel injection systems for modern Toyotas, we are both into cars, but may know nothing of what the other does. I know SQL databases and reporting, and very little web stuff, so you’ll learn things that I can’t help at all on. All that to say, Good Luck!

      3. Glorified Plumber

        Joel has written a couple books where you can get the whole enchilada blog experience in one.

        “Joel on Software” and “Smart and Gets Things Done.”

        Both good reads. The guy has dropped of the radar a bit lately though compared to his earlier writings.

        I don’t work in the software industry, but I was a big fan of his work on JoelOnSoftware, Coding Horror with what’s his face, Stack Overflow, and his books.

  36. The IT Manager

    Two hour season finale (series in the original British English) AKA the Christmas Special of Downton Abbey tomorrow night! I’m taking Monday morning off because I know I’ll be up late watching it and then winding down after. It’s been really messing with my efforts to start my work week off right, and with this being an extra long episode I’m just giving in.

    I have enjoyed this season much more than last season, but in some ways I appreciate that its ending now because Broadchurch returns this coming week and I already have too many hours of TV on the schedule. Downton Abbey and Grey’s Anatomy are the only ones I have been watching mostly real time. I just marathon caught up with Person of Interest, and despite my enjoyment of the first two seasons of The Americans, I have all 5 hours of season 3 recorded but unwatched on my DVR. Honestly I haven’t kept my DVR cleared out since the fall when there was only two hours of scripted TV I was watching per week.

      1. Merry and Bright

        …and we just heard in the UK this week that they are going to do a third season (announcing filming dates later this year).

      2. Connie-Lynne

        Oooh, there’s more Broadchurch? Awesome!

        I binge-watched the first two seasons as well as In the Flesh about nine months ago… so good!

        1. Cruciatus

          Unfortunately In the Flesh was canceled, though there keep being rumors of someone else picking it up. We can hope!

  37. The IT Manager

    Cable tv talk aside, I did spend the last week watching the Bron |Broen (The Bridge) season 1 on DVD. Did anyone out there watch the original Danish/Swedish version of The Bridge?

    It was pretty good. Saga Norén lack of any social skills (probably meant to be Asperger syndrome) make her a very entertaining character to watch, and Martin Rohde is very well developed too as a nice guy cop except for his inability to keep his pants zipped. It was odd, though, when I realized how very little violence was depicted on screen despite it being about the police’s effort to catch a very successful serial killer and some truly shocking deaths.

    I still have no desire to watch the American version. Normally I am simply opposed to remakes. Here from what I have heard, FX did a good job with the remake, but I have no desire to see the American-Mexican intractable border crisis, “rampant corruption and general apathy among the Mexican authorities and the violence of the powerful borderland drug cartels”* dramatized on TV. And I imagine there’s fairly graphic violence as well. But uggg, it just aligns too closely to apparently unsolvable political problems for me to want to watch.

    * borrowed from wikipedia

    1. DeadQuoteOlympics

      I loved both seasons of the original Bron/Broen, and tried watching the remake but it couldn’t hold my interest. It wasn’t because it wasn’t well written or well-acted, because it is. But like you, I really didn’t want to engage with the new context as entertainment.

      I’ve read a few of the Scandinavian mystery writers, and it is striking to me how often the detectives and police express their horror and dismay at violence and murder. The convention isn’t the detective who suppresses his or her emotions and carries on with gritted teeth. The writers are much more prone to show their characters truly shaken by the depravity of killing — even non-graphic, non-lurid killing.

      I love Saga Noren’s character — I have a friend who not only behaves a bit like her, but looks a lot like her, too. It made me laugh — some of the things she said or did, I could totally see my friend doing!

      1. The IT Manager

        Hmmm … I will have to find season 2 at some point; I did really enjoy the characters. It wasn’t a funny show, but Saga actions were funny without anyone making jokes. And sometimes even Martin laughed at her along with the audience. My local library provided season 1 on DVD. They don’t have season 2, and I am about to move so there’s not time for that now anyway.

        Only other Scandinavian books/tv/film, I’ve consumed is Millennium trilogy (read the books and watched all the original Swedish films), and it was only late in the series that I realized that Lisbeth Salander seemed to be somewhere on the asperger’s scale too. I kind of doubt it’s a “thing” in Scandinavian art, but it’s an odd parallel.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics

          In books, I really enjoyed Jo Nesbo’s Headhunters, and Jussi Adler-Olson’s Department Q novels. They have a particular brand of dark and cynical humor that I enjoy.

          I tried the Kurt Wallender series from BBC but it just didn’t hold my interest.

          Season 2 of Bron is on Netflix (or was) — watching Saga try to share a house with someone was very entertaining.

    2. Monodon monoceros

      I love Broen. I live in Scandinavia and the third season has aired here, but no English subtitles and my Danish/Swedish isn’t good enough yet. But Broen is one of my motivations to keep practicing!

      I feel like the characters in Scandinavian crime are more like real people with real flaws than in US crime dramas (I know, generalisation, and I have some US shows I do like so they’re not all bad) . In the US, they’re often either good or evil people, but nothing in between. Whereas Martin is obviously overall a good guy, but has some big flaws too (especially faithfullness). And Saga is obviously weird too but has good intentions.

      I haven’t attempted to watch the US one yet, not sure if I will. Usually the remakes are never as good as the first.

      Speaking of remakes though, I just realised that House of Cards has UK original. I’m looking forward to watching that soon!

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics

        The portrayals just seem more realistic all around. One of the minor things I noticed is that the characters wear the same clothing all the time, like real people, unlike the endless and varied wardrobes that tv cops have in the US. It’s like watching almost any US series set in Manhattan — no one has an apartment that big unless they are a millionaire!

    3. Dynamic Beige

      I saw the FX version without knowing there was an original and I liked it. Yes, it was a little violent in places. Still haven’t seen the Danish original but I’d like to.

      There’s also The Tunnel http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2711738/ which is another “based on…” and I watched that too. It was interesting seeing how the plots and characters varied.

      1. The IT Manager

        I read that series 1 of “The Tunnel” was a direct plot remake of Bron |Broen series 1 unlike the FX’s The Bridge. (In The Tunnel, is the female lead English or French?) I wonder about that. Not knowing much about culture of Denmark or Sweden or speaking the language, it seems to me part of why it works is that the languages are so close that most everyone understands each other even if they speak in the same language. With a France and England, it seems that there would be a much larger translation problem. They’re not as bad as Americans, but having lived in Europe for a while, it seems that the French and English are nearly as multilingual as other smaller/less populous European nations.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          The female character is French, the male detective is English. When it was broadcast here (I think it was on Showcase), French dialogue was subtitled. In The Bridge, the US detective is female, the Mexican counterpart is male. There are a few plot points where the Americans either don’t speak Spanish, or fake not knowing it. Same thing happened in The Tunnel.

          Like I said, I’d like to see the original just to compare. I saw the UK version of House of Cards before the US version (and so far only season 1) it’s interesting to see how things get tweaked for the times and cultures. I wonder if they remade it in the UK how much different it would be now.

      2. De Minimis

        I’ve been finally watching the FX version on HuluPlus. The original is on there as well, but I thought I’d watch the FX version first since I’m already well into it. I do plan to watch both, but I’ve been really impressed with the FX series.

  38. espresso bean

    Has anyone done any cool creative workshops or residencies? I would love to try something different this summer for a week that combines traveling to a new place and learning something new, but I don’t know where to start. I don’t want something meant for undergraduates (I’m in my 30s), and this isn’t exactly related to my career, either, so I can’t really seek out resources at work.

    Sorry, this is kind of vague, but I figured if anyone could help me out, it’d be this crowd!

    1. Andrea

      Where I live art colleges often seem to offer specialized week long summer programs – things like felting, metal smithing, photography, writing, etc. Some museums do too. Maybe some of them might appeal?

      1. CoffeeLover

        OMG this has never occurred to me and it sounds amazing. It would be a cool twist on a staycation. Take a week off to learn how to felt :D.

        1. Andrea

          I know there’s some options for this in Pheonix but I don’t know any specifically to recommend. Word from people I know who’ve done it is that it’s awesome. Some even travel all over the world trying different techniques and instructors and whatever. It’s essentially a very focussed version of Road Scholar or similar.

    2. Jessica

      I’ve always wanted to do a retreat at The Makerie. They have some interesting, in-depth craft stuff in beautiful locations. I also love what our local performing arts center has to offer. Pottery, painting, drawing… it’s like summer camp for adults, but pretty affordable too.

      Also, what about a cooking workshop? There is a local cooking school that does really intensive workshops. Amazing stuff. Or if you want to go all out, the Culinary Institute of America has boot camps.

      Finally… adult space camp! This list has a bunch of ideas:

      http://www.buzzfeed.com/alejandroalba/summer-camps-for-adults#.lawrweOvQ

    3. Elizabeth West

      I’d love to do a writing one in the UK; I found some but sadly, I don’t qualify for reasons of lack of publication, etc. :( Money would be an issue for me, anyway.

    4. blue_eyes

      I took a week-long workshop once on “warm glass fusing” (not glass blowing, but still really cool). We learned how to cut pieces of glass and how they would fuse together in the kiln and we made a bunch of projects. The workshop I took was at Rattarart Studios near Seattle (google to find their website), but I bet many other kinds of art studios also have classes in their craft.

    5. Odd Recommendation Maker

      There’s a workshop in Arizona about “Becoming an Outdoorswoman” and I’ve seen similar ones in other locations. One of my favorite names for a class was “I’m lost – now what?”

      Most of the material involved outdoor activities (rappelling was fun), cooking and camping skills (we all got to eat the results, which included options to taste game meat), and wilderness survival (but we slept in cabins with showers so not too intense).

      I grew up in cities and suburbs, so this was great for me – a bit of a stretch and interesting new things to learn – but probably not the right choice for a lifelong camper.

  39. ptrish

    Boston advice needed!

    I got a job, thanks to all of the great advice on this site! So now I’m moving to Boston in June, and am trying to figure out where to live. My office is in the Seaport area, in a building that provides BostonCoach shuttles to North Station and Government Center in addition to the existing Silver Line bus.

    So, some questions. First, should I try to be on the Red line so I can use the Silver Line buses? Or are the shuttles a better idea? Second, any neighborhood suggestions? I’m a year out of college, 23, female, and would like a safe enough neighborhood (I have plenty of city living experience) with restaurants, shops, transit, etc. And I would prefer to live with roommates, either other young professionals or graduate students, and in a neighborhood that is not overwhelmingly white. I’ve been thinking about Cambridge or Somerville, since as a UChicago grad I’m most comfortable surrounded by nerdy/intellectual-type people, as well as Dorchester and Jamaica Plains. Any other suggestions? Ideally I would like to stay under 1000 for rent+utilities but could pay a bit more if necessary, and would love to pay less (saving for grad school!).

    Also, a few websites suggested that most leases in Boston turn over in August? Should I be planning to find a sublet for the summer and then move into a real lease in August?

    1. Boston anon

      Hi there! I’m a grad student and I currently live in Somerville (used to live in Cambridge). Both areas are quite safe, but Somerville is significantly cheaper. Lots of 20s-early 30s graduate students and young families live here, along with a few retirees, and it’s an ethnically diverse area. There are plenty of pubs, cafes, and reasonably authentic Chinese and Japanese restaurants around. There’s also a few family-owned grocery stores, a Star Market (affordable groceries), a Market Basket (really cheap groceries), a Walgreens, and a Whole Foods within walking distance.

      The Red Line and Silver Line buses were a safe bet for transportation when I’ve used them in good weather on a somewhat flexible schedule, but as we’ve seen this winter, the transit system as a whole is a bit shaky. (FYI, the Government Center station is closed for construction for the next year or so.) I’m not really familiar with BostonCoach.

      RE: sublets, you’re quite right that most leases follow an academic-year schedule. A few turn over during the summer, but it’s more normal to find a summer sublet and then get a 12-month lease that begins sometime in August.

    2. TL -

      Somerville isn’t really on any of the subway lines – you can get to the green in the south east part and up north you can easily get to the red line but on the whole it’s mostly served by buses. A lot of my co-workers live in Lechmere and like it.

      Cambridge is super expensive; finding a place for under a grand total will be quite difficult! Somerville is more doable but that’s a tighter budget. Also remember that Boston has a higher cost of living than most places, so factor that into your budget if you haven’t.

      Dorchester has a bad rep, but I don’t know how much it’s deserved. I live on the red line, south of Boston, and really appreciate it but I work off the red line so no transfers. (two transfers is a lot!) Also, the green line is always effed.

      I lived in Cambridge for a while but it was pricey. Super walkable though. I did enjoy it.

      Jamaica Plains is also not super well served by subway lines if I recall correctly.

      For what it’s worth, I find both Cambridge and Somerville very, very white but then I grew up in an extremely diverse area (less than 50% white) so your mileage may vary. I would agree that Somerville is more diverse than Cambridge.

      To be honest, what I did when I moved was take a much more expensive place very close to work for a short term lease and got used to the city, asked around about places to live, priced out apartments, decided what kind of commute I wanted, and then moved much farther away. I was completely broke the first few months but it works out much better for me in the long term – I’m really happy with my place/budget now and it wasn’t a very stressful process overall.

      1. Anonymous Educator

        Somerville can be on a subway line if you live near Davis Sq. Taking that Red Line to South Station takes a while, though.

        Maybe consider Red Line the other way? Quincy is a fairly low-crime neighborhood right on the Red Line with a lot more affordable rents than Somerville or Cambridge or Boston. The bummer for you, as a 23-year-old, though, is that it’s really more of a family-oriented town. You can always hop on the Red Line to meet young folks in the city, but Quincy’s mainly small children to teenager and then 30-something to elderly.

        1. TL -

          I live in Quincy as a young ‘un, actually, and love it. But I work in Cambridge and get all my socializing there – it’s the best of both worlds for me – I’m super close to everything that I want to do after work and during the weekends I just drive in and snatch up some free parking at work and then use that as a base to get around the city.

          (Quincy is also right on the beach and has yards, which makes me much happier.)

        2. ptrish

          I looked a bit at Dorchester to be on the other side of the red line, but I eliminated Quincy for exactly the reason you described.

          1. Bea W

            I lived in Quincy 18 years before moving to Dorchester in my mid 30s. It is convenient if you’re on the redline and affordable. I did much of my socializing in the city too but it was super easy to get there. I lived near Wollaston T. I did not have car for 5 years. Totally livable without one if you are in the right location.

      2. Bea W

        Dorchester is the largest and most diverse of the Boston neighborhoods. The areas that end up in the news are small pockets. There are also areas that are expensive and more upscale/trendy and then everything in between.

      3. Bea W

        JP is great but the main transit is Green Line/Orange Line and the 39 bus, not the easiest for Seaport commuting and not cheap either. Full of great places to eat though with a variety of ethnic restaurants.

    3. HR Manager

      Once you get to the downtown area, none of the lines are really that far a walk from each other, so unless you are dead set to take the silver line, I would not be married to the idea you have to be on the red line. When the weather is warm, most people will choose to walk over the bridge to the Seaport area rather than wait for a bus to take you 5-10 minutes further down (depends on where your office is).

      As noted, much of Cambridge is unafforable but for the high-income earners. There are few pockets not quite walkable to a red line that are more affordable, but overall Cambridge is not for the new grads unless you come from wealth and have parents who can help you with rent (0r live with 10 room mates).

      Somerville is still reasonable affordable. Brighton/Allston is a hotbed for the college-age with a really great diversity of ethnic restaurants and markets. Any of the towns that are on the fringes of Boston — like Charlestown, South Boston, Malden, Medford, Quincy, Dorchester (there are some perfectly fine parts to Dorchester), Braintree, Jamaica Plain, East Boston – will give you more bang for your buck but still leave you with decent access to public transportation.

      1. Bea W

        Corrections to above list because this is a pet peeve of mine…

        Boston neighborhoods: Allston, Brighton, South Boston, Dorchester, East Boston, Jamaica Plain, Charlestown. These places are all neighborhood divisions of the City of Boston. They are not separate towns.

        Towns/cities just outside of Boston: Malden, Medford, Cambridge, Somerville, Quincy, Braintree – many of which, like Boston, have named neighborhoods.

        1. HR Manager

          That may be a pet peeve but it’s more practical for real estate. Saying you want Boston because it’s the proper city name vs saying you want Dorchester or Charlestown for instance is possibly a difference in $1,000 or more in rent a month. I think being more explicit in this case to delineate the budget would be extremely helpful.

  40. Jessica

    Curious… has anyone here ever tried to eat healthier or lose weight, only to suddenly feel like you’re being sabotaged by some people? That sounds really paranoid, so I’m wondering if this is actually a thing that anyone has experienced. Maybe I never noticed how much junk I ate before because it was so normal. I’ve asked one person in particular to stop, though, and the treats keep on coming. Damn my weak willpower.

    1. Computer Guy Eli

      I’m a big dude (350 currently, was 420 a few months ago) who has been trying to lose weight. I’ve never been personally intentionally sabotaged, but I’ve read stories of people’s bf/gf trying to slow their progress because they were jealous. One guy caught his girlfriend putting butter/fat on his food to try to fatten him up.

      What you’re talking about sounds like my dad though. Bless his heart I know he tries, but he seems to always be ruining whatever diet I try by bringing in brownies or cookies or potatoes or whatever. I can’t blame him, because I’m always the one who eats it, but he straight up puts this stuff in front of me because he finds it rude for him to eat without me.

      1. Jessica

        So it *could* be a thing! All I could find was people sabotaging their own weight loss.

        My mom is bad with it. I’m living with her right now, so it is pretty rough on that end. Must find steady employment to move out and lose weight. The way I pay for groceries is just by shopping on my own, so at least I have some control over what comes in to the house. But wouldn’t you know it…within a few days of me stopping cold turkey on soda, she bought some. She doesn’t even like it herself, so it just sat there torturing me for days. Torture! I’m a big sugar person, so it has to be a cold turkey thing. She also just bought a bag of my favorite candy and put it out….not this time, mom!

        1. Computer Guy Eli

          I know exactly how you feel. I’m helping my parents through some money issues right now, so I’m living with them right now too and I’m seeing the same things happen.

          I don’t know how far you have to go still, but once you get into the groove of things it’ll get easier!

        2. Artemesia

          Pour the soda down the sink if she doesn’t drink it. Toss out the candy if she doesn’t eat it. If she does, put it away.

          This is pretty outrageous stuff.

    2. Turanga Leela

      I see this all the time, although I think a lot of it is subconscious. A lot of people will interpret your healthy choices as commentary or judgment on them, which leads to the undermining comments (“There’s Jessica on her crazy diet!”) and the offers of junk food.

      With the person you’ve asked to stop: have you tried calling attention to the pattern? “Tracy, I’ve asked you before not to offer me donuts. You know that I’m trying to lose weight. Is there a reason you keep offering them after I’ve asked you to stop?”

      1. Jessica

        The one big person is my mom, and while I’ve asked her to stop….it’s my mom. I’ve just realized with her, there will always be attempted food enabling. She’s been like that forever, her mom was like that, etc. Need to just move out and make all the food choices to get rid of that issue.

        But I have noticed it in others! It’s usually a bit uncomfortable, to be honest, because they try to do something nice and I DO love food. I just don’t want treats all the time. And really, I’m quite tall so I can hold a lot of weight before it’s really noticeable, so maybe they don’t realize how much I’m getting sick of it. I can feel it in my joints and I feel like I’m on the cusp of either letting it get out of hand, or doing something about it. What you said, though, is the exact vibe I get… I just wish people would be more supportive, not, “Oh, you look fine! Here, have some cake!”

        1. TL -

          I think it’s because a lot of our culture (and a lot of most cultures) base a lot of showing love/affection/caring around food. I have a ton of food allergies and my friends are generally divided up into two categories when it comes to social gatherings. The “foodies” will make a special dish for me, run through all of the ingredients, make sure I will like it, and prep it separately; they’ll research restaraunts and menus before they suggest a place to go out. This is a ton of work on their end and makes me super uncomfortable – I would not enjoy doing that for someone else! I don’t enjoy doing it for myself! But they really do enjoy making and feeding me something special.

          My friends who are more like me with food – not a foodie by any means; I like food but don’t take any extreme pleasure in it – always just give me a head’s up on the menu and assume I’ll take care of myself and/or will buy me something they already know is a staple of my diet (brand specific here). For restaurants, they’ll give me a name or two and ask if I can eat there; if not, they’ll tell me to pick the place.

          The first group also tends to assume that my diet is a really awful thing and wants to make sure I can still find pleasure in eating; the second tends to be like, “Well, that sucks. Did you see the latest episode of Grey’s?”

          tl;dr: Food and feeding people is really complicated and some people think that restricting your diet is a truly awful thing because they take so much pleasure in food, the thought of not being able to eat something is really horrible, so they try to spare you from this awful fate.

          1. Jessica

            There is so much culturally and socially tied to food. I am definitely party to that as I love going out to eat when I had a job and trying new places. Those are experiences and I make sure to account for those in my overall goal. I’m trying to eat more whole foods, less processed, and cutting out as much sugar as possible which I don’t think is even a diet, just lifestyle changes. I hate to burst someone’s bubble when they seem like they are being nice and wanting to make treats for others. But I don’t want to eat it all the time!

            My grandma was poorer than poor during the depression. Homeless and her mother had died, so pretty much alone too. She was always on the brink of starvation. As a result, she was a food hoarder for her entire life. Could not bear to throw anything out. After she died, I actually found a bottle of corn syrup in her house that was older than me (I’m in my early 30’s). My mom has picked up on this habit, but has always had a comfortable life. I’m not this way at all, but I do see that there is so much tied to an ingrained fear of not having food. I think that’s where my mom is coming from, but I promise her that I will not wither away and die if I don’t eat junk.

        2. Sherm

          I know a guy who loves to give food. None of it good for you. What I gradually discovered was that he doesn’t care too much whether I actually eat it or not; he just wants me to take it. So often I just take the offering, say “Cheers!” and never wind up eating it.

    3. nona

      Yep. I think you just happen to be the right size in the right place at the right time to set off their weird personal issues. So they push food at you or comment on your weight or something like that. I mean, armchair psychology guessing here, people who were happy with their own weight wouldn’t think to do anything about yours.

      And I think one person who did this might have been jealous, based on some things she’s said, but who knows.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I have heard others complain of this. But I have been fortunate not to see blatant sabotage myself. My husband was following the diabetic meal plan. We went to someone’s house for spaghetti and meatballs. There were three meatballs for twelve people. So we ate spaghetti, a nightmare for a diabetic diet. There were several diabetics in the group. I have no idea how they made out with that. My husband came home here and had some protein to round out the meal.

      I don’t think it’s sabotage, but something even sadder: a total disconnect. When I started eating simpler foods, it was explained to me that some people will never “get it”. They will continue to offer foods that I cannot have, even after being told no thanks many times. For example: they seem to be oblivious to the fact that I have said no thanks to soda the last 24 times they asked.

      If you can frame it as “I have changed and it has not registered in her mind yet.” Maybe that will help some how. I worked with this thought because of the positive affirmation, “I have changed”. That was more helpful than “they are trying to sabotage what I am doing”.

      1. TL -

        Eh, I think it’s just that most people don’t think about food that much and thus don’t remember other people’s dietary restrictions. people offer me stuff I can’t eat all the time – especially for my easy allergies, like nuts – and they always feel bad when they realize they just offered me something I can’t eat. It doesn’t bother me because it’s generally a kind gesture on their part and no one’s offended when I say no.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I can understand that. I think OPs situation is different in that this is a person she lives with, not an acquaintance/friend. We tend to carry higher expectations for those closest to us. And it is hard when they seem to be ignoring our endeavors entirely- this applies to other things, too, not just diets.

          In our case, there were several diabetics (I think 6 out of the 12) and there was a long history of sharing meals together. We carried higher expectations and that was a bad idea.

          1. TL -

            Oh, my family and good friends and roommate all occasionally offer me something I can’t eat. My mom can’t even keep it straight. :)
            I’m not saying it’s all unintentional mistakes but just that thinking about food all the time is not something most people do. So it’s less of a disconnect and more of the expression of privilege of never having to think about food beyond what they want to eat.

    5. Rebecca

      I feel that way at work. Someone got the idea we should have “picnic” food and all eat as a group. I had zero interest in eating potato chips, hot dogs, macaroni & cheese, sweet tea, etc. So, I pitched in a few bucks toward the food and ate my own food instead. I got frowny faces for “not participating”. Tough. These same people bring donuts, cookies, candy, etc. and it’s very difficult for me to stay out of those things.

      Please understand: I’m not the food police. I am not adverse to eating a donut. If you want to eat 12 of them at one sitting, OK, not my business. But I am trying to lose weight, and I’d rather eat something more nutritious, like a piece of fruit and some almonds instead of a donut. It’s hard to make people understand that sometimes.

    6. Treena Kravm

      Whenever my mom is trying to lose weight, my dad will bring home chocolate or her favorite pie. She gets absolutely furious and calls him out on it. I lived with them for 9 months about 5 years ago, and this happened at least monthly. Don’t know if he ever picked up on the (yelling) hints or if he still does this. But my mom told me he likes her bigger (attraction-wise) so it’s mostly an unconscious thing for him.

  41. Elizabeth West

    It snowed 4.2 inches here today. Ugh. Cut it out, Elsa. I’m sick of winter. I keep thinking of all the flowers I’ll see in London in April. So far, that will make it three seasons I’ve been there–summer the first time, autumn this last time, and spring upcoming. Next I’ll have to do Christmas, but I REALLY hope I won’t be alone for that. :\

    I bought my ticket! *moths fly out of wallet* Chose British Airways this time, because I wanted to try them, and also to go premium economy and they have allegedly upgraded theirs quite a bit (World Traveller Plus, woo woo). I tweeted some with them re a really tight layover coming back, but they seem to think I can make it (!!let’s hope so!!). I will be blogging my experience with them — perhaps that will make it nicer than usual, heh heh.

    1. Merry and Bright

      Hope you have a great trip. With you on the spring flowers in London – the central London parks are great for those.

      1. Elizabeth West

        I’ve been to Regent’s Park in the summer when the roses were in bloom. Spectacular!

        Speaking of parks, I’d like to take one whole day and wander around Hampstead Heath and get completely lost in there. I skirted just the outer edges and it made me happy. In fact, I walked around Hampstead a bit and thought, “Yeah, I could live here.” If I had a big fat wallet, that is.

        If you go to my Twitter feed (@DameWritesalot), the current header is a picture I took sitting on a bench in the Heath. :)

      1. Merry and Bright

        I admit you have a point there.
        On a practical note, it is as if there has been a jinx on the public transport the last few Christmases with strikes, breakdowns, bad weather etc making it difficult to get in and out sometimes. But there are things I enjoy in London at Christmas.

    2. Clever Name

      Way to go on choosing British Airways! You get to get into the mood before you get there! You’ll have to tell us about the food they serve on the airplane. I’m fascinated with the cultural differences reflected by airplane food. I think we flew British airways to London, and a snack they served was a bag of chips (crisps) and a Twix. On Lufthansa, their snack was some kind of pimento spread sandwich and some other stuff.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Ha, it’s all still airplane food. I’m sure even first class isn’t the same as a five-star restaurant (what I wouldn’t give to find out!). According to BA’s website, World Traveller Plus allegedly has slightly better food and real dishes. I’m praying I get one of the refurbished planes and not one on which they’re still upgrading that class. The listing for that flight said it would be a 777, but it didn’t say WHICH 777. And it doesn’t appear to be a codeshare with American–if it is, and I end up on a crappy US plane with tiny-ass seats, I’m going to throw a huge fit because that ticket was expensive.

    3. HR Manager

      Waaaahmbulance time? (Sorry — Boston-er here looking at 8 friggin ft of snow outside… :p)

  42. M.

    UGH. So just got home from the ER, as my roommate has a massive skin/some kind of infection on most of his leg. The skin started peeling off. He was sick earlier this week and went to the doctor after having a 102 fever. His doctor just told him to drink fluids and go home but it seemed like it was an infection to me. He came up to me and was like “Do you think I need to go to the ER?” and I took one look at it and was like “ER. Now. Before it goes above the knee, if you need to lose that, I’d rather it be below” and he was like “I was thinking the same thing.” They admitted him for observation and are giving him a really strong antibiotic. We’ll find out more tomorrow.

    It’s just… we’re almost thirty so we’re still relatively young. He’s diabetic. He has open sores on his leg. Had a fever. Had the first doctor just done his job and looked him over instead of just calling it viral, blaming it on the diabetes and telling him to push fluids, this could have been avoided maybe. It did like spread overnight so I don’t know. I’m just a little jaded and angry at doctors since I just went through a whole thing with a miscarriage and insensitive/uncaring doctors.

    1. M.

      We operate as a unit, the three of us. If he ends up out of work because of this, his fiancee is still recovering from an illness that forced her to quit our factory jobs, and it’s up to me to support the three of us. I struggle with Bipolar and PTSD and he usually takes care of me. This just really kind of sucks. Thank goodness he just got insurance.

    2. Stephanie

      WHAT? I had a grandmother who was diabetic; I remember she always walked around with shoes on inside because even a little cut or scrape on her foot could turn catastrophic due to the diabetes. I mean, doctors are human and make mistakes, that just seems like an obvious thing that would require follow up for a diabetic.

      I hope your roommate is ok.

    3. trust in me and fall as well

      Good luck with this, all of you. I understand what you mean about doctors – I was once hospitalized, back when I was single, and it was a real eye-opener: it’s good that y’all are working as a team. I’ve read that single people in hospitals tend to have more ‘issues’ than people who have a wife or family or SO with them – and I believe it.

      (If you’re single and you have to go to the ER or to the hospital: drag a friend with you).

      1. Elizabeth West

        This doctor who looked at M.’s roommate is a twit. And that’s the polite version!

        I hear you with the single thing. I went to the ER one night after horrible pains struck. I called the nurse line and they sent an ambulance. By the time it got there, I felt better, but they took me in anyway. The doctor took an X-ray of my abdomen and then came back in and in a very patronizing tone, told me that I had gas. He said little girls get gas in their colons sometimes and that can cause pain. Like because I’m female, I was a little girl who just needed to fart. I had no defense–what do you say to something like that when you’re exhausted and worried and alone? I had to call a cab to get home and I had no shoes. (Now you understand why I hate being single!)

        This happened on a Friday night. My GP called me on Monday and said he had looked at the X-ray and that the ER doctor was crazy, because he could see a great big kidney stone, right there on the film!

    4. CoffeeLover

      That’s crazy and sadly not surprising. I don’t know if it’s because doctors are overworked or what, but I’ve heard so many stories like this. A friend of mine thought she had breast cancer (changes to her breast), the first doctor said she was fine. She got a second opinion, and yep, she had breast cancer. A ton of chemo later she’s fine, but I shudder to think what could have happened had she just listened to the first doctor.

      1. M.

        The office where I go for my primary care is horrible. I’ve been told by so many people who go there that their cancers have been missed time and time again. One woman had a lump the size of a GOLF BALL, that they told her was nothing. Turned out it was cancer. And then they told her she was fine when she got sick again. Finally she went to another doctor and it was stage four cervical.

      2. So Very Anonymous

        I lost a friend to breast cancer because her gynecologist told her, when she went in with a lump, that “she was too young to have breast cancer.” Since my friend had had a false alarm before, she didn’t get a second opinion. Then she developed back pain. Her orthopedist caught the cancer, because it had gone into her bones. She didn’t sue, because at that point, literally, life was too short. Still angers me, though.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I am so sorry to hear this.

      But it’s true about our medical system. Last I read the US is ranked number 32 world-wide for its ability to keep babies a live. Yeah, we pretty much don’t know how. I am sorry about your miscarriage and related experience with doctors, too.
      Other countries look at our medical system in horror. Yet the myth remains, we have the best medical care in the world.

      As it stands now, we have people in our country dying because it takes so long to get a diagnosis. These are people that get dozens and dozens of tests and never receive any treatment. Testing is not treatment.

      I have no idea what it is going to take to bring about change. I think it has to come from us, the people.

      1. Mimmy

        Other countries look at our medical system in horror. Yet the myth remains, we have the best medical care in the world.

        This makes me shudder :(

        M – Hope your roommate gets well soon. That sounds horrible.

        1. M.

          They are keeping him at least another night. We’re waiting to hear back about cultures. And they will be doing an ultra sound for blood clots. I’m the only other driver between the three of us, and I’m also one of those “what needs to be done? let’s make a list” people when it comes to stress so I’m trying to access a situation that keeps changing to see if I need to take leave from work, make sure work knows that he’s not faking this (I took pictures to prove it).

          And yes our health care system sucks so much. Being told that there was no way I was miscarrying while I was miscarrying was awesome. And horribly traumatic. I’m so done with these doctors.

      2. the gold digger

        US is ranked number 32 world-wide for its ability to keep babies a live

        This statistic is very misleading. Different countries record births different ways. Every live birth in the US is recorded, but some places don’t record a birth until the baby has been alive for six months, etc.

        My sister is a neo-natal nurse practitioner. She sees patients from all over the world – the mothers come here when they know they will have a sick baby just so the baby can be treated here.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Yeah, I think I read something about that. And most certainly numbers can be manipulated to show whatever it is we want to show.

          One thing holds though- we are surrounded by people crying for meaningful help, real conversations, and actual results. Every time I turn around I see a person talking about a doctor that will not listen, a drug with side effects worse than the original problem, the huge amount of time it takes to get to an action plan and the lack of results. I have these conversations several times a day, minimally, sometimes more and it does not seem to be getting better.

          I could live with the problems, if I could see where plans are in place to remedy them.

  43. Stephanie

    House of Cards–who’s watching? I’m on episode five, so don’t spoil things! (I’ll be vague myself.)

    I’m sort of waiting for it to pick up. Maybe my standards have gotten higher or something, but it doesn’t seem as sharp as it once did? I think I’m just having trouble buying that anyone would still trust the Underwoods. And the jobs program is ludicrous. I do like that they’re having some challenges–I was curious as to the conflict this season.

    1. Monodon monoceros

      I haven’t started the new season yet…I’m currently binge watching Person of Interest, which I’m liking a lot, and has already eaten up the last 2 weekends! And I’m travelling the next 2 weekends, so I won’t be able to binge watch House of Cards for a while. I hope I don’t get any spoilers!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      The jobs program is making me scratch my head. I realized yesterday (sometimes I’m late to the party) that the show is intended to be over-stylized, totally over-the-top, etc., but episode 3 really did it for me with the ominous music and the Russians. But I, like you, refuse to give up! I might watch some more today.

        1. Windchime

          Yeah, that was a really weird shot! I finished episode three (or was it four?) last night. I’ll watch, but I’m with others who question why *anyone* would trust either of the Underwoods by this point?

  44. trust in me and fall as well

    I just saw Inherent Vice … and it’s pretty much exactly what I expected a movie based on a Thomas Pynchon novel would be. It’s probably not for everyone. I could get used to seeing Joanna Newsom on the silver screen, though. Actually – I know I’m a sexist pig – Inherent Vice has one of the best-looking female cast line-ups I’ve seen in a movie, ever. Maybe male cast line-up, too; I’m not good with what guys look like. But Josh Brolin bears an uncanny resemblance to Sterling Hayden in Dr Strangelove, and that can’t be bad.

    Looking forward to Chappie. I just saw a really awful trailer for it, so I’m hoping that in the same way that many truly bad movies have awesome trailers, this will be a great movie with a cruddy trailer. Ninja and Yolandi Visser from Die Antwoord have acting roles, and they might just be really good at it.

    1. Christy

      I HATED Inherent Vice. I fell asleep in the beginning and wished I were asleep in the later parts. If I had the choice between a necessary root canal and watching that movie, I would choose the root canal. I didn’t care about the plot and I didn’t know why I would possibly care. My girlfriend, otoh, loved it.

    2. salad fingers

      Not sure I agree about the attractiveness bit, but may be slightly tainted by disappointment in some of the casting/acting. Actually, maybe just Shasta — didn’t love Katherine Waterston in that role. I think I might be the only one. To me, there was a way overplayed vulnerability/sex pot thing that was super grating in a way that it wasn’t in the book. The last scene with them together was probably the only big eye roll at Hollywood moment I had throughout the movie.

      I will agree about Joanna Newsom, though. Babe, and she was perfectly cast as Sortilege. Read in an interview that she is both a Pynchon fan and friends with Paul Thomas Anderson so he had her proofread the scripts a couple of times, and eventually was like, “hey… do you think you could maybe like, be Sortilege?” Very good call pta. That said, sad the whole interwoven resurgence of the lost land of Lemuria didn’t play a larger role in structuring the story, esp. because that was Sortilege’s thing in the book and she was narrating the movie. No possible way to have it all though. Book is just better.

      1. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests

        Gee, I’m happy to know I’m not the only person who saw this movie!

        I probably shouldn’t have said that about the attractive female cast, but – I was looking up the misc actors and actresses in the IMDB and I had the Full Cast page expanded and looking at all of the thumbnails and I was like “this can’t be an accident”.

        I dunno, I can certainly understand why people would not like the movie. But I think Anderson did a good job of capturing some of the idiosyncratic, quirky kind of moments that are in a lot of Pynchon’s work.

        It’s funny you mention Waterston – I wasn’t real crazy about her, either, but I thought it was because she was going for a certain stylized “60s California Girl” look that has never really done much for me. My psychiatrist really enjoyed her ‘love scene’.

        I agree that JN is a babe, and her voice was perfect. Although I’m pretty sure not everyone would agree. I really enjoy her music, but – wow, my wife and kids do not. I can put something really challenging on the music system – something with microtones, say – and my daughter will give me a dirty look and turn down the volume. But if I put on (say) “The Book Of Right-On” – they’ll leave the house.

    3. Elizabeth West

      Can’t argue with the eye candy thing because that was one of my favorite things about The Lord of the Rings. Beautiful men everywhere, oh myyyyyy (to steal from Uncle George Takei).

  45. Sandrine (Huet)

    Heeeeeh, I’m going back down from the high from yesterday’s interview call :( .

    I just made calculations with dear fiancé for next month, and… OUCH.

    I need to borrow money from someone but I am terribly embarrassed T_T . Plus the unemployment money is for a lesser amount in Feb since obviously there are less days :( .

    Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Some things would eventually help, but… I don’t know, everything is weird when you sit down and do the math.

    *T_T*

    1. Not So NewReader

      Aww. I’m sorry. Yeah, it takes a while to write a viable budget. There are always surprises sneaking in. I read and tend to agree it takes a year of tracking spending to get a real idea where it all goes.
      I forget things that do not occur every year, such as car registration or driver’s license renewal.

      1. Elizabeth West

        Oh me too; it’s awful. I should budget for those things but when you don’t math, it’s difficult. Whoever I end up with needs to be better with it than I am.

  46. Nervous Accountant

    Any tips on pain management? I have a nasty boil/pimple/something on my side. Have no idea how it got there but it went from a tiny pimple to this gigantic swollen red monster in days. Makes doing anything difficult. Probably half the reason I’ve had such a rough week, having to deal with work issues while in so much pain.
    I’ve been getting these every couple of months for years now, not sure if it’s the clothes I wear or my weight etc
    Went to my dr he prescribed antibiotics so those should work hopefully. And he gave me the same old lecture on losing weight etc.

    1. TL -

      Oh, I got those for a while senior year of college. ( I popped and drained them, couldn’t deal. It helped with the pain. Maybe not the best course of action though.).

      My doctor recommended an antibacterial body wash – can’t remember the name, but it was in an ugly blue bottle sold at drugstores – once a week. It helped, or at least I stopped getting then after using it, and then after a while I stopped using it and they never came back.

    2. Rebecca

      Oh, I’m sorry! I had one of those on my back. It was an infected sebaceous cyst and one of the more painful and horrible things I’ve had happen to me. It was gross. And I never in my life thought that such a small thing could produce so much gore and pain. My PA cut it out and packed it with antibiotic tape, and I had to take antibiotics for 10 days (which caused a stomach ache). But, it never came back after that. I found that taking ibuprofen helped somewhat.

      I hope you’re on the mend soon :)

      And as an aside, I hate it when you go to the doctor for an infection or some other malady, and they just have to get the whole weight loss thing tossed in there somehow. Ugh.

      1. Nervous Accountant

        Yeah advice was literally to not eat for 27 days and we don’t need food. I’m diabetic and hes said that this is the reason I’m getting them. Could be true but I still need the pain gone :-(

        1. Rebecca

          That’s terrible advice! We need food! Please take this the right way. You need to find a new primary care physician if possible. I’m not diabetic and I got one and it was huge! (hugs)

        2. TL -

          Find a different doctor. If he’s truly that concerned about your weight/diet, he should be gently referring you to a dietician or nutritionist as well as treating the symptoms at hand; telling someone not to eat for 27 days is awful advice. I’m sorry :(

        3. Nashira

          Whaaaaaat. Oh no, oh heck no. You do not tell people to not eat, you especially don’t say that to diabetics. I second looking for a new primary care doc, even though I know it can be hard to find a good one. I had good luck with an internist, finally, but I also have multiple chronic conditions and need closer management than some folks do.

    3. nep

      I gather that a turmeric paste could be good for this. I can’t vouch for it as I’ve not experienced this — but it might be worth looking up and giving it a try. All the best.

    4. Mephyle

      Are you taking analgesics? It was a revelation to me when a doctor recommended an OTC analgesic for the pain of an infection (sore throat, in my case). I had been stuck in a rut of thinking that ‘headache medicines’ are only for headaches.

    5. Not So NewReader

      My father had a cyst in the middle of his back. Once the doctor cleaned it up, he told my father to get a back brush and use it.
      A bit later I developed a skin tag on my neck. Remember the advice about a brush, I started reading. The idea is to remove loose, dead skin and chemicals that are sitting on the top of the skin. And the brush stimulates microscopic blood vessels just below the surface. If these little blood vessels are working correctly, things do not usually blow up on the surface of the skin.

      That is when I found out about loofa (spelling seems to vary) sponges. Loofa sponges are dried squash. They are very fibrous but pretty rugged, you can use them for bathing.
      I tried the thing. By day 3 I absolutely hated it and I put it to one side. After returning to my wash cloth for a few days, I realized my skin felt filmy. It just did not feel right. I went back to the loofa I have not changed again.

      So my father never had another cyst with his back brush and I never got any more skin tags with my loofa.

      I also sometimes use an organic bath wash with tea tree oil in it. Tea tree can help with nasty germs that might be laying around in wait.

      Shame on that doctor for telling you to lose weight, that is not an answer to the boil question. Basically, he is saying he has no idea what to do with the boil.

      1. periwinkle

        I had a cyst a couple months ago. Owwwww. Driving was a challenge because I couldn’t lean back against the seat, and naturally that week I had to work out of a different office that’s an hour away. I wasn’t able to drain it myself and wasn’t about to make my seriously squeamish husband try, but (luckily?) it burst on its own while I was driving home. Ew.

        What I used to do and clearly should not have stopped doing… the Korean home goods store nearby has these wonderful long mesh cloths (they look like extra-long scarves) that do a great job at exfoliating your skin. The scarf-like design makes it easy to scrub your back, and the thin mesh rinses well. It was a pain to store in the tub because of its length, but yeah, I’d better replace it and go back to scrubbing.

        1. Not So NewReader

          That will work just fine and you shouldn’t have another problem. I remember my dad’s- I had to bandage it. Yeah- it’s everything you are saying here.

    1. Rebecca

      I’m on my desktop, using Firefox, and see no ads. Is this a phone or other mobile device issue?

    2. Corporate Attorney

      I’ve been getting tons of self-playing video ads all week, and I’m getting that one right now.

    3. Ask a Manager Post author

      I’ve turned off ads on mobile, so if you’re on your phone you shouldn’t see them at all. On desktop, the ads remain. I’m told it will take at least a week for a solution that will block all auto-audio ads, but they’re working on it. (No need to keep reporting them meanwhile — I know it’s happening and am doing everything I can.)

      1. Swedish Tekanna

        I get a few ads but my Chrome has been in overdrive lately – nothing to do with AAM. In fact, most of them are on my mobile. Writing this from my laptop and the only ads today are for your books so no worries there!

      2. Not So NewReader

        Maybe if you add your statement about no need to report issues underneath your posts, the statement won’t get lost so readily. I think people are not seeing it because of all the comments, it’s buried.

  47. nep

    What musical instruments do you play? If it’s a hobby/passion and not part of your professional life, how often do you practice?

    1. Emily

      My main instrument is the viola, which I played all throughout middle and high school, part of college, and part of last year (in a community orchestra). When I’m not part of a musical group, though, I seldom pick it up. Maybe in the fall I’ll look around for a group to join, since I’ll be done with most of my required courses for my Ph.D.

      In the past, I’ve also played the violin, the piano, and handbells. And I own a banjo, but I wouldn’t really say I play it – I took lessons from a friend for a single summer and didn’t practice much after that.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      I never learned to play an instrument, but I sing! The last time I sang in public was our church’s Easter Sunday performance of the Hallelujah Chorus, otherwise it’s pretty much just me and the radio. Hoping in a few years I’ll have time to look for a community choir or something like that. I also would love to learn how to play the piano.

    3. Stephanie

      Cello! But like Emily, my playing has gone downhill since I’m not a part of an ensemble. It also needs some (ok, a lot) of TLC in the form of new strings, bow rehair, and such.

      1. De Minimis

        My wife plays cello too, though she has gotten out of practice. She took it up in adulthood.

        I used to play trombone in band, and also can play piano, but no longer do either.

    4. Elizabeth West

      I used to sing–studied opera for four years–but the only singing I do these days is in the car. Too much smoking and it’s true that if you don’t use it, you lose it. :(

    5. Schuyler

      My instrument was voice, but I haven’t been part of a choir since I completed my undergraduate degree about 8 years ago. I took the requisite piano for all music majors, but I sucked at that. I started to learn fiddle a couple years ago but I’ve never been good at practicing.

      My dream job is to be a singer/songwriter. Hell, I wouldn’t mind being a songwriter, if I could actually sell them.

  48. AvonLady Barksdale

    Just want to share that there’s freezing rain here, so bad that I tried three times to take my poor doggy out and go no further than the end of the driveway without realizing it was completely hazardous. He won’t pee on ice– poor guy was slipping everywhere– he wouldn’t pee on the driveway, and he won’t pee in the house. He is the master of Holding It, but man, I feel so bad for my pooch. Please send a few more degrees this way so we can at least make it to some nearby trees!

    1. nep

      Oh, poor thing. Sending you a few degrees…for the first time in what seems like forever, today we can spare a few. Good luck and stay warm and safe.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Thanks! We made it out briefly at about noon and he did all his business, then he started bugging me again a few minutes ago. We walked out on the porch but he planted himself (as he does in the rain) and refused. I feel better now that he’s at least had some relief, but my poor buddy… I always feel so bad for pets in inclement weather.

  49. steve g

    My 88yo grandma is in hospital with many little things wrong….im sure she’s going to live through this one, but my family is way past due with the “what are we going to do when she can no longer live alone talk.”

    Why I am posting is because I am really annoyed/disappointed in my family. Everyone lives 30-60min in various directions. The hospital is right off of a main road and convenient for visitors. Yet, myself and a friend of mine, of all people, are the only people who visited. My dad hasn’t been there yet. My sister who lives half an hour a way called but didn’t visit. My sister with niece who lives an hour away annoyed the he’ll out of me by not going, yet they apparently had a nice afternoon out doing other things yesterday.

    My grandma acts independent but for god’s sake she is 88 and needs help with basic things, like yesterday wanting us to get some snacks and orange juice from the gift shop. It’s not hard help to give.

    Everyone has their excuse why they can’t go- work, now there is a snowstorm coming….but I know most people were doing not much this weekend. my friend that came with me to the hospital said my family is weird, that when someone is sick in his family at that age, EVERYONE calls and visits, no excuses.

    1. Not So NewReader

      Your friend is a very lucky person.
      I think your family is more the norm than the exception. I think your friend is unusual. I hear it all the time and I have experienced it myself- people just don’t show up as expected.

      I could tell stories. But my punchline is be grateful for the ones who do show up and consider them as treasures. Those who don’t show up, that is their choice and they must process it themselves. We don’t have to process it for them, our lives will go on.

      I’m sorry to say but your friend’s comment does not seem that helpful to you or the situation.

      1. Steve G

        I really don’t understand people………especially that some people (not me, of course!) will be getting quite substantial inheritances. Even if I hated a person I think I’d owe it to a person to help them in the hospital if I was going to get a couple of hundred thousand from them in the next few years.

        Alternatively, I’d feel disgusted with myself if I did ever get an inheritance from someone I didn’t help or only helped very minimally with while they were alive.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I agree.
          Unfortunately, people are complex. If I was going to inherit money from a person who cussed at me and was generally nasty to me, I am not sure the inheritance would motivate me to go see them.
          I also don’t go for head games. If a person was known to threaten to cut people out of their will for failure to visit/interact/whatever, that would cure me on the relationship.

          Those are extreme examples. But I do know of people that hang in and do not care about their inheritance at all. They never give the money a single thought. We don’t hear too much about those people, because they forget to mention the money. So it goes all different ways.

      2. Shell

        When my grandfather was in a care home after a stroke (because no one in the extended family had the training or ability to care for him), all my grandfather’s kids (i.e. my father and all his siblings) scheduled themselves so that at least one person would visit my grandfather every day to talk to him, help feed him, and keep him company. In fact, because my father made a point to visit every day if he could, sometimes my grandfather got multiple visits from his children every day.

        I can’t remember who told me this–maybe it was just an impression I had. But I thought my grandfather was the envy of the care home up until the day he died there.

        1. steve g

          It’s sad. But when you mention all of these people, I remembered that my grandma is the youngest and last of her generation, so there are less people around to chip in. Makes me hope I expire quickly.

          thanks for support, going there noow…

    2. waiting like a stalking butler who upon the finger rests

      *sigh* I don’t mean to sound judgemental, but – going into the hospital is when you find out who your real friends are. It’s absolutely not a fun way to spend the afternoon, but if it’s someone you love, you just gotta do it.

      Kudos to you and your friend for taking the time, though. [personal anecdote deleted] and yeah, if I was old and rich and people were expecting sizeable inheritances from me – as soon as I was discharged, I’d make a bee-line from the hospital to my lawyer’s office. Not that rich old people should go around saying “get me a diet sprite or you’re out of the will!” But leaving them alone in the hospital? Not cool. Not at all.

      1. Steve G

        yeah…….tired of my sister using “that’s too far of a drive” to get out of family things like this, but then she’s always driving the same distance to go to concerts or other cultural things, usually much later as well……

  50. C Average

    Some blended family drama going on that I just need to muse out loud about. If this winds up being an epic, I won’t be offended if no one reads it.

    I’m married to a guy with two kids from his previous marriage. (The kids, both girls, are 9 and 13. The marriage ended 8 years ago. He and I have been together for 6 years, married for 4.)

    There’s been some drama with the older daughter (disordered eating, extreme moodiness, and some other stuff that seemed a bit beyond normal teen drama), leading the husband and I to see a therapist for some advice on how to parent through this.

    One thing the therapist told us, after hearing our story, is that we’re too nice with regard to his ex.

    She is a nice, well-intentioned person and I have no doubt she loves her kids very much. We have a harmonious relationship with her. But, given her past challenges (postpartum depression, anxiety, etc.), we walk on eggshells where she’s concerned.

    When she’s going through a rough patch (as has happened many times in our marriage), we offer to take the kids more than our agreed-upon time. When we know she’s not parenting effectively (based on snippets of information we get from the kids and from their overall affect when they come back to us after a weekend with her), we arrange to have them with us. When we make these arrangements, we usually cite activity schedules or a vague “the kids seem to be doing better here right now” explanation as the reason for the change. The ex never pushes back on these requests. I know she loves the kids, but I think parenting stresses her out. (She transitioned from being a stay-at-home parent to working full-time as a social worker less than two years ago, so some of it may just plain come down to managing a more challenging schedule.)

    We’ve always been very, very careful to never say anything negative about the girls’ mom where the girls will hear. We’ve thought this was best for everyone. But the therapists’ concern is that by doing so, we’ve communicated to the girls that it’s not OK for them to tell us when things aren’t going well at their mom’s house.

    There is no way I am going to start bad-mouthing their mother. I’m not mad at her for her parenting lapses; if anything, I feel sorry for her because she’s mentally fragile, she does not have the back-up of a spouse or additional adult in the house, and she has a lot on her plate.

    How do I stay neutral, but make a safe space for the girls to share with us if they’re troubled by how things are going at their mom’s house? If you’ve ever had a stepkid or been a stepkid, I’d love any thoughts you have on how to do this dance gracefully.

    1. TL -

      I don’t know about the stepkid aspect, but I think it’s important to acknowledge that their mom fails at parenting.

      Not, “Oh, your mother is the worst ever,” but, “I realize your mother has difficulties coping with her depression and that must be rough for you,” or “It seems like you didn’t get to do everything you wanted this weekend. I’m sorry about that.” and just staying neutral if they complain, like, “yes, that seems rough,” or, “I know your mom loves you very much but it seems like she had trouble expressing that this weekend,” And things like, “When she behaves that way, it’s not okay. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you, or you don’t love her, but sometimes she needs help in X, and we need to know about Y things when they happen.” are important – they need to know how to be treated and part of that comes from others acknowledging when someone else treats them badly.

      I think this especially needs to come from their dad, but you can definitely say some of these things too.

      1. C Average

        This is very much what the therapist suggested. I like the scripts you suggest–they pass the I-could-deliver-that-with-a-straight-face test. Thank you!

        1. TL -

          No problem! My cousins got a dud of a mom, unfortunately, so I’ve thought about approaching this kind of thing before.

    2. reader

      “We’ve always been very, very careful to never say anything negative about the girls’ mom where the girls will hear.” “There is no way I am going to start bad-mouthing their mother” It’s not about bad-mouthing or negativity , it’s about being honest and truthful. The girls need to know you can be trusted and “see” what is happening. Ask the therapist ways to be more open and honest about the mother’s challenges without calling her a bad mother.
      Also maybe it’s time for her and your husband to revisit custody. And some family therapy for mother and father together on how to help the kids. Children need consistency between households. Also it sounds like the mother could use some therapy and maybe starting with focusing on the children will lead her to helping herself. Part of the problem could be compounded by what has become an inconsistency in the custody schedule. It sounds like you and their father should have primary custody with the mother having regularly scheduled visitation.

      1. C Average

        The consistency piece is a really good callout. My husband and his ex actually do have an appointment with a therapist scheduled. I’m hopeful they’ll talk about some of this stuff. I’ll mention that to him as a way to broach the subject of some of the troubling things we’ve heard about life in the other household–that way it feels less like judging her approach and more like aligning the two approaches so the kids have consistency in their lives.

        So far, we are OK with the status quo with the custody schedule–we have them more than we’re supposed to per the agreement, but there’s never been any acrimony about it. We just take them when we’re scheduled to have them and additional time on an as-needed basis. So far, that hasn’t been problematic for anyone. I think we all want to avoid involving mediators and paperwork unless and until there’s actually an issue.

        1. reader

          My point about new custody arrangement is the girls will have less last minute changes. While it doesn’t appear problematic having to change locations isn’t easy and having to do it less because they aren’t leaving the mother’s place at off times will help. Lack of stability can bring on or make eating disorders worse. Since the children have no control over the family dynamics they try to control what they can and one area is eating.

          1. C Average

            Sigh. Yeah, that makes sense. It just feels so much more . . . official. Thus far it’s been “we know things have been a little busy–why don’t we take the kids for a bit more of the time for a while?” It’s been temporary. Going back to court feels so permanent. But yeah, predictability and consistency would be good for everyone. I’ll talk to my husband about this before our next therapist appointment so it can be on our list of things to discuss then. Thank you for emphasizing why this is important. Totally makes sense.

    3. Vera

      What!? The therapist is crazy. There is nothing to gain bad-mouthing their mother. What they would learn is that you could do the same with them, their father or yourself, so they can’t tell you anything because you’ll use against them (something similar happened with my mother, who never approved my choices; when once I told her something about my boyfriend, her reaction was so judgmental that I could not trust her again. She complains now that I don’t tell her anything). Also, bad-mouthing her would make them feel torn between the love for her mother and the acceptance of what they hear you say. No, nothing good will come from bad-mouthing your husband’s ex.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It sounds to me like it’s not about badmouthing, but about making it safe for the girls to vocalize their own concerns, which they might not do if they’re getting signals that “we only say pleasant things about these visits.” That can lead to kids feeling like they’re bad or wrong if they have more complicated feelings about their mom, and feeling like it wouldn’t be okay to talk about those things.

        (I had the opposite growing up — a mom who made it way too okay to say bad things about my dad, and that was horrible too. But there were some real issues going on with both of them, and I can’t imagine how awful it would have been if it felt like I was the only one who was seeing it. That can really mess with your mind and make you not trust your own instincts.)

        1. C Average

          Yeah, this is exactly the balance we’re striving for: a place where the girls can honestly express their feelings about anything, including their challenges with their mom, but at the same time a place that’s judgment-neutral about their mom. And yeah, I think the therapist’s concern came from exactly what you’re talking about: the idea that if we don’t somehow validate their (accurate) judgment that their mom has some parenting shortcomings, they won’t trust their (accurate) instincts.

    4. When I am old and start to wear purple

      Change of name here because I know a family member reads this sometimes.

      I had a very similar situation as my parents divorced when I was seven and my Dad remarried when I was ten. My Dad and my stepmum are still together and happy and I loved my weekends and holidays with them. But my mother suffered from depression and was also very strict, to the extent that I felt I couldn’t do anything right. I was a shy child anyway and my self-confidence just plummeted. I withdrew into myself which got mistaken for moodiness etc, especially when I got near my teens. My Dad and stepmum never criticized my mother in front of me but I felt I couldn’t really confide in them because I thought they wouldn’t really want to know about my mother. Maybe they didn’t, but they did want to know about me. In the end, I told my Dad how I felt, bit by bit, just by spending time with him at the weekend doing normal stuff, like him helping me with my homework, taking day trips to the coast. I thought he would tell me what my mother and teacher had told me – to snap out of it, to stop feeling sorry for myself – but he didn’t. He was great and although I think it took about a year (nothing simple for adolescents!) things really got much better.

      I have a younger sister and I get on great with her, but she has a very different temperament from me and just dealt with stuff differently. She spent more weekends with our mother than I did. The weekends where it was just me staying with our Dad helped me towards that breakthrough, looking back. My mother’s health improved and she mellowed generally. I am in my 40s now and feel lucky to have two mothers in my life, as well as a great Dad.

      I don’t know if any of this stuff helps as families do differ but my situation did get better. Even as I got older, whenever I had a problem I was always rubbish at making an announcement about and found it much easier to work it into an activity or a general conversation.

      I think your stepdaughters are lucky to have such a great stepmum like I did (and still do).

      1. C Average

        This is really, really helpful. Thank you so much for sharing your perspective–it’s given me a lot to think about. I especially like what you have to say about just being an available and willing sounding board. I think that feels like a healthy place to start.