weekend free-for-all – February 7-8, 2015

NightThis 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:
You must read The History of Love by Nicole Krauss immediately. It’s beautiful and engrossing and charming and wonderful.

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

{ 880 comments… read them below }

  1. Stephanie*

    Yay for book recommendations!

    Speaking of books, I’m curious what everyone thinks about the to-be published sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird.

    Personally, I really liked the book and think a sequel with an adult Scout could be interesting. But something seems really questionable about the publishing–Harper Lee sounds in not great health and like she hasn’t had the most control over her estate. Plus, there’s the “But what if it’s bad?!?!” question at hand.

    1. Elkay*

      I’m really excited about it although I’m curious about whether it’s been edited/re-written since the 1950s. To Kill A Mockingbird is my favourite book, I hope the new one doesn’t spoil any of the characters for me.

    2. Liz in a Library*

      Somehow with all the publicity on this I still managed to miss that it’s a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird! I’m also uncomfortable about how she doesn’t seem to have total control over its publication.

    3. Formerly Bee*

      The news about this being published came two or three months after the death of Lee’s sister, who was also her lawyer. And I’ve read quotes from Lee saying that she didn’t want anything published. She could have changed her mind since then, but I’m kind of worried.

      Still really want to read it, though.

      1. Kat*

        This is why I wont buy it or read it. I think she’s being exploited. She has made it clear when she was younger and in unquestionably good health that she did not want other works published.

      2. Jessica (the celt)*

        Thanks for posting this! I’m going to keep an eye out for more of information on this. I didn’t read the biography by Marja Mills for similar reasons, so I’ll need to so more research on this as well.

        1. Cheryl*

          I read the Marja Mills book, it started out ok, but was unlike any biography I ever read. She basically set up shop next door to the sisters and then was herself immersed in their lives as Harper Lee didn’t didn’t give interviews until she felt some sort of trust with her interviewer. But the book itself was a lot of going places with each sister and the opinion of the author on why this and that. I didn’t finish the book as it felt like getting to know the author required that I rummage through her sock drawer and run errands with her or sit on the porch for lemonade and as that wasn’t what I was expecting, I wasn’t interested. I did read afterwards that the book was all lies and that Harper Lee herself stated she didn’t do or say many of those things. So it may very well be exploitation by her “new” attorney as this recanting all happened after her sister passed.

    4. Jessica (the celt)*

      My husband and I have been discussing it since seeing the announcement. We’re both in the “I hope it’s great, but we’ll see where it goes” camp, although we are debating if we’ll just buy it or wait to read it from the library first. (We have a few authors in the “just buy it automatically, because we’ll probably love it” camp, and I hope Lee is there, but how do we know?)

    5. C Average*

      I am actually way more excited about John L. Parker, Jr.’s rumored prequel to “Once A Runner.” Runner’s World wrote about it the other day: http://www.runnersworld.com/general-interest/john-l-parker-jr-pens-once-a-runner-prequel.

      There are very few novels about running, and there’s basically only one GOOD novel about running, and it’s “Once A Runner.” He wrote a sequel that was pretty good, and if the prequel is simply pretty good, I’d still be happy.

      1. C Average*

        . . . oh, and I haven’t read “To Kill A Mockingbird” since junior high and, although I liked it and remember it fondly, I wouldn’t put it on a list of favorites. I’ll read the reviews of the sequel and base my decision on the opinions of a few literary critics I trust.

    6. Trixie*

      I’ve read a couple pieces that make me think she never intended for this to get published, so I almost hate to see this come about. I think she moved back from NYC after a severe stroke a few years ago, and as much as she likes to be left alone, this isn’t going to help.

    7. Audiophile*

      I am beyond excited for this book! I loved “To Kill a Mockingbird”.
      I was surprised since she’s been pretty clear in the past, that while she started a sequel, she had no plans to release it.

    8. The IT Manager*

      I’m excited, but concerned about quality since this was written years ago and has been held back.

      1. Artemesia*

        I feel that she is being exploited. If the book is not good, it will also revive the rumors that Truman Capote was a major contributor to the original book — he certainly was happy to hint that he was a major player there.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I just read an article this morning: uk.news.yahoo.com/friend-harper-lee-lucid-day-sequel-announced-200628397.html#5lWzQed
          I had read before that the success of Mockingbird freaked her out. It’s possible now that she knows what it will be like that she’s okay with it.

          I’m still going to read it because I want to.

    9. kbeers0su*

      OH MY GOD. I thought I was the only person who knew about and loved this book! Allison, I think you might be my book soulmate…

    10. Snowglobe*

      I’ve already pre-ordered it. I ordered it as soon as I heard it was going to be published, then a couple of days later I read about the controversy. I wondered if I should feel guilty about reading it, but I’ve decided I can’t know what’s really going on (sometimes I think the press likes to stir up a controversy even if there really isn’t one), so I’ll read it.

      I am kind of afraid of when they make the inevitable movie. I don’t want to think of anyone but Gregory Peck as Atticus.

      1. Melissa*

        I don’t think you should feel guilty about reading it. This is going to sound morbid, but if they hadn’t published it in the last years of her life they would’ve published it after she died anyway. Authors often have works published posthumously that, perhaps, they never really intended for anyone to see – or perhaps not in the state they were in when they died. I think they’re still important in a literary context, and anyway, not reading it doesn’t mean that it will disappear and become unpublished again.

    11. Melissa*

      I don’t know how to feel.

      I read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and I don’t remember particularly loving or hating it. So I wasn’t overly excited about the announcement from a personal standpoint; it was more from a literary/historical standpoint – “Oh, how awesome/wonderful it is for a literary giant to have an undiscovered manuscript hanging out!”

      But I am so deeply skeptical about this. It’s all too coincidental. By all accounts, Miss Harper Lee is in poor health and hasn’t really been making too many decisions for herself in the last years. Her sister Alice seems to have been very protective of her, but the majority of communications from her in the past years have come from Alice Lee. Harper Lee is also known to be intensely private and very vocal about not ever wanting to publish another book, for a variety of reasons – mostly that she said all that she wanted to say.

      Now, suddenly, not even three months after her older sister and biggest protector passes away, this new lawyer Tonja Carter “finds” Harper Lee’s manuscript while “going over some documents” for Miss Lee. Miraculously, it’s a full, completed manuscript! And not a word has been reported as coming out of Miss Lee’s own mouth – everything has been done through Tonja Carter. HarperCollins communicates directly with Carter and reportedly said that they don’t see a need to communicate with Harper Lee. Then, a few days after people start speculating that it’s suspicious this happened less than 3 months after Alice Lee’s death and that it directly contradicts everything Harper Lee has said about her writing and wishes when she was still lucid, Carter releases a statement about how “offended” Harper Lee is that people are speculating that maybe she’s being manipulated. Through herself, of course; again, not directly from Miss Lee. There’s no independent confirmation here.

      I also find it odd how although all the news stories emphasize that Carter found the manuscript while going through legal documents and her feelings upon finding the manuscript, whenever she’s asked for more factual details about the discovery she always deflects the questions and says it should be about Harper Lee.

      …needless to say, I’m skeptical. It’s probably not a book that I would’ve run out and bought anyway. But the only people we are hearing from are people who presumably have some kind of financial interest in this book getting published. It happened so quickly – the news of Carter finding the manuscript was released at almost the same time we hear that HarperCollins is planning to publish 2 million copies.

      Besides, this isn’t a sequel; it’s an earlier version of her finished product. In a lot of ways, it’s like a draft. I write fiction in my spare time; every writer is different, but for me the revision process is intensely personal and I certainly wouldn’t want anyone releasing the earlier versions/drafts of my finished product – there’s a reason why the version is *earlier*. Since it’s earlier, I don’t think it’s going to be the continuation/sequel that people are expecting, nor do I think it’s going to be the same quality as TKAM. There’s a reason she made the changes and the edits that she did.

  2. AvonLady Barksdale*

    Oh my goodness! I’m one of the first! (This is because I am lazy and procrastinating.)

    Has anyone been to the Bay of Fundy and/or spent time in Halifax, NS? The bf and I are considering it for an August vacation. He wants to see the tides. I wasn’t feeling it until I found out there are wineries in the region. We figured we would fly into Halifax and make that our base for a week or so in the region. Any tips, advice, recommendations? We like to kayak and walk, but we are not (well, I’m not) outdoors-y people. We like wine, beer, history, interesting food– with the caveat that he is a vegetarian. Would love to know if there’s any inside scoop.

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Oh yes! I lived in New Brunswick for years and visited Halifax many times. I love it–it’s a really fun city, and it is really terrific for pubs and live music and that kind of stuff. For beers: Garrison Brewery, Propeller, and Granite are fun craft breweries. And you must visit the Alexander Keith’s brewery, though it’s less of a brewery tour and more like an extremely touristy brewery tour slash history of Keith’s brewery. (And you get two free beers at the end of the tour.) Halifax is a very historical town, too, and there are a bunch of fun walking tours to be done in the area as well. The Pier 21 museum is a museum of Canadian immigration and very worth a visit, and the Maritime museum is fun if you’re into boats. It’s a fun place to just walk around, and they’re always having festivals and stuff. One August my parents were visiting and in Halifax they were having a buskers’ festival, which was awesome. There’s plenty of awesome food, though a lot of it is seafood-based–I’m not a vegetarian, so I don’t know how good the veggie options are there.

      The Bay of Fundy is a different matter! It’s about three hours to drive across Nova Scotia, but to really see the most dramatic tides you want to be in New Brunswick, which is about four hours or so up around the top edge of the bay. I think the traditional tides sight is the Hopewell Rocks in NB, which is a park where you can walk on the ocean floor at low tide and then come back at high tide to see exactly how high the tides go, which can be fun. Pretty much anywhere on the Bay you’ll be able to go whale watching, although the only place I ever saw whales was way further north on the west coast of Cape Breton. But summer is supposed to be high time for whales and the Bay of Fundy is a big whale-watching and bird-watching zone, and there’s a ton of kayaking in the area.

      Summer is definitely the time to do it, and the Maritimes are a fun place. Enjoy!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thanks! This is very good to know. We might have to rethink and fly in or out of St. John, NB instead, spend a couple of days in NB and then make our way to Halifax. I was also looking into day trips/tours, so knowing just how far it is to get to the bay is a big help.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          That’ll probably be more expensive, Halifax is a way bigger airport and there’s a lot more flights in and out of there. Day trips in the region are definitely possible if you’ll be renting a car, but the bay is just a little teeny bit too far for a day trip–you may want to spend an overnight near the Bay if you want to spend a couple days there and then a couple days in Halifax? Traveling into one airport and out of the other is doable, but pricier.

          There’s a ferry you can take across the Bay from Saint John (all written out like that) to Digby NS, but it’s fairly expensive–though a lot of people like it because it’s a little bit faster than driving around the north end and lots of people see whales and seabirds and stuff on the trip. When I lived in Fredericton we could make it to Halifax in about four and a half or five hours, so three-four hours from NB to Halifax sounds about right. To drive from Saint John to Halifax is probably about six hours or so. And when you’re driving watch out for moose–New Brunswick has an enormous moose population and car-moose accidents are very common!

          There’s a ton of really fun little trips in the area–visit Peggy’s Cove, drive down to Lunenburg, visit some of the tons and tons of parks and wildlife regions and wilderness areas around there.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            I just found a bus tour that departs from Halifax, stops in Peggy’s Cove and overnights near Digby, with a cruise of the Bay tucked somewhere in there. Something like that might be our best bet– I’d really prefer not to drive, but I may get overruled on that one. :)

            My bf will be very happy to know there are moose. He wants to take the dog (because he’s insane) so we can introduce the pup to some moose. I said absolutely not, mostly because a) the dog barks at horses, and b) driving up to that part of the world would take us a good 2 days each way, and this is supposed to be my VACATION.

            1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

              Don’t hedge anyone’s bets–I lived there for years, including a fair bit of camping and a ton of highway driving, and never saw a moose. (Which was extremely disappointing to me!) It sounds like a good chunk of driving for you, though, but when you do get there it’s particularly lovely in the summer and August is just about the best time to go. It’s hot, but a nice ocean breeze does a lot to mitigate that, and you’re almost never far from a river or a lake or something with a nice cool breeze.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                I’ll echo what was said about flying into Halifax airport, unless you want to do that fly into Moncton, pick up a car, drive to Halifax and fly out thing (which is usually more expensive).

                I drove around Nova Scotia by myself and it was fine. Never saw a moose. There are lots of lighthouses, though. Lunenberg is pretty. The tidal bore… do research on it. I just decided to see it and there were a lot of people but I must have chosen the wrong place or something because it was kinda meh. I pictured this giant wall of water gushing down and it wasn’t that. The brewery tour at Alex Keith’s, I couldn’t keep a straight face I felt so bad for those kids. I would go back, I found it very peaceful and relaxing. Just one thing, it might have changed but when I was there it was a Sunday and everything was closed except the Casino.

                1. Alicia*

                  It has changed. We changed to the modern world and have things open Sunday. They might be later starts (like 10 am or noon), but we’ve entered the 21st century. :)

            2. danr*

              There are moose, and good luck seeing one. We’ve been to Maine many times and Halifax once. We’ve seen plenty of warning signs on the highways, but haven’t seen one in the wild yet.

        2. Brian_A*

          If you decide to fly into NB, be very careful to book your flights to Saint John (NB) and not St John’s (Newfoundland). I have friends who finished a bike trip in Saint John, only to realize that they were in the wrong province! I think it happens fairly often.

          1. Phyllis*

            Saying that about being in the wrong province reminded me of a story from my past. We live in Mississippi and on the Gulf Coast there was (at one time) a place named Emerald Beach Resort. One week-end my husband and I decided to make a spur-of-the-moment trip to the coast and I suggested this place. He was agreeable, so I called 800 directory to get number, called and was talking to the clerk. Confirmed they had room, ect. He asked me what plane we coming in on, and I told him we were driving. I then handed my husband the phone to give payment info and went into the other room. About 10 minutes later he appeared laughing. He said “Honey, you know that Emerald Beach Resort? It’s in Jamaica!!!” I noticed the clerk had a melodious accent, and seemed confused when I told him we were driving. Needless to say, we didn’t make that trip :-)

          2. Mephyle*

            More than one European traveler who meant to go to Sydney, Australia has ended up in Sidney, Nova Scotia. You can find news accounts if you google a string like {Sydney mistake nova scotia australia}. For example, this, which also mentions some other occurrences in the last paragraph of the article. A common theme to these mistakes is that the errant travelers find themselves recipients of warm Cape Breton hospitality.

    2. Dew E. Decimal*

      I used to live there but as a student and not terribly helpful for touristy things. The Wooden Monkey restaurant though I believe has wonderful vegetarian offerings. The Henry House is my favourite pub there – not sure of the food situation for your husband, but a nice drink can be had for sure. Have fun!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Thank you! It’s true– in the absence of solid veggie options, a good drink will often suffice. :)

    3. former nber*

      i grew up in new brunswick and went to the bay of fundy on the nb side for camping at fundy national park multiple times. fundy national park has lots of great hiking trails for various levels of fitness and is really beautiful in august. new brunswick gets really hot and humid in the summer though, so prepare for that. if you want to see the tides the best place to see them is at the hopewell rocks, the tide is the most dramatic there, and the tall rocks make for spectacular viewing.

      if you like the outdoors, nb has a lot of nature stuff to see, but other than that it’s kind of boring. halifax is a bigger city (i think the population is around 200k?), but i didn’t go there often when i lived in nb so i’m not really sure on all of the tourist things to see there.

      if you want to see moose, there’s lots in new brunswick. they’re a regular occurrence on the highways, and every year you’ll usually hear a news story about tourists getting into a car accident with a moose and dying because they were unprepared for them while driving (they’re very, very large, and very difficult to see at night). i don’t particularly miss the moose aspect of nb.

      if you want to visit fredericton that is where i’m from, so i can give you some pointers on things to check out in that area (my favourite being the giant potato in maugerville, it’s a little bit outside of fredericton proper, but the route to get there is scenic, and the giant potato is rather fun).

    4. Alicia*

      Born and raised in the Halifax, NS area. I really enjoy the South Shore of Nova Scotia (continue driving down past Peggy’s Cove). Someone mentioned Lunenburg below, but I admit I think Chester and Mahone Bay are more charming.

      If you want to try something different (admittedly not as physical as kayaking all day), check out Tidal Bore Rafting in Maitland. Basically the water rushes into the mouth of the river and you’re out in zodiacs… super fun on the water :) but you’ll need to have junk shirts you don’t care that will get stained by the red mud and are okay chucking out.

      For vegetarian food, you’ll be fine in Halifax. I second The Wooden Monkey for good veggie, locally sourced food. Outside of the city, it might get a bit more difficult. I don’t suppose he is pescatarisn by any chance?

      There’s loads of history in the city. If you are into Shakespeare plays, they have performances outside in a local park (Point Pleasant Park) that are by donation only. I’ve always enjoyed it. I even went to one in the Halifax Citadel, but that was about 15 years ago and I don’t know how common that is now.

      If you have any questions, feel free to ask me because I know there are so many things I’ve missed. I might be a local, but I’ve done nearly all the touristy buts in NS and NB over my lifetime. :)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Awesome, thank you! We had a Discussion over dinner about what we might do. I think basing ourselves in Halifax is our best bet, since I love exploring a new city and having one place to hang my hat, so to speak. We will try to find a bus tour that will take us to Bay of Fundy and back for the day, however long, then I think we’ll look into other excursions, like wineries and kayaking. We love a good brewery tour and history museums.

        I totally hear everyone on the bigger airport (Halifax) costing less. Another reason to base ourselves there. It’s so odd; until three days ago that part of the world wasn’t even on my radar, but apparently the bf has wanted to visit the Bay of Fundy for 10 years. Who knew?

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          This will get held up in moderation, but this is the Hopewell Rocks site, The Spot for seeing the tides really dramatically. http://www.thehopewellrocks.ca/

          It’s actually really cool to walk on the ocean floor, then come back later and see where you were walking is thirty feet underwater. But oh my god, wear some shoes you don’t mind wrecking. You will never, ever, ever get all the mud out of them afterwards.

    5. ThursdaysGeek*

      We visited once and saw the St. John river flowing down to the sea, a rough and bumpy stretch. When we went back several hours later, it was still rough and bumpy, but flowing the other direction. That was totally cool!

  3. QualityControlFreak*

    Just wanted to take a moment to say thanks to Alison for creating this great resource; an online community that functions as both a source of information and a sounding board, with participants worldwide and at all levels of experience.

    This applies to work and non-work situations alike. Being able to discuss things with a variety of other people with vastly differing experiences is invaluable on a personal as well as professional level.

    Thanks to our gracious hostess, and to the regular commenters here for sharing your experiences and thoughts.

    1. Another English Major*

      Yes to all of this! This is by far my favorite website and the level of respect and insight from the commenters is like no other I’ve seen.

    2. matcha123*

      Yes! It’s great to hear the opinions of others, even if they disagree with me. People are generally polite and respectful. I never get to talk to anyone around me about work-type things. And since no one in my family really has long-term experience in office-type jobs, reading what others have to write is an immense help.

    3. Steph @ BTB*

      This cannot be said enough! I’ve been lurking this blog since 2011, and it’s been amazing to see it grow. I rarely (if ever) comment, but always read through the comment section. I discovered AAM just as I was beginning my career, and can honestly say it’s been the greatest resource in helping me succeed at work.

      Thank you to this lovely community for sharing their own stories and experiences, and Alison for running it all.

  4. Another English Major*

    Any recommendations for ceramic curling irons? I’ve been flat ironing my hair for over a decade and am ready for a new look. I’m really happy with the flat iron I have (Herstyler) but they don’t make curling irons in the size I want. I’m looking for a 1.5 inch that has the clip part to hold the hair in place.

    I used to have a CHI flat iron and wasn’t too happy with it so want to avoid that brand. I’m mixed race w/curly 3c hair if that makes a difference.

    1. Sunflower*

      Are you set on it having a clip? I have 2 curling wands that are Hot Tools and I love them both- they are both tapered though and don’t have a clip. My hair is long and thick and using one with a clip never got my curls to hold- I’ve only used relatively cheap ConAir ones(under $20) though. i have a Bio Ionic flat iron and I’m obsessed with it. I’ve had it for years and it still works like the first day. My friends are always asking to use it because they love ti so much too. Bio Ionic also makes curling irons so maybe one of them will work for you?

    2. OnlineCB*

      I have been using the GHD straighteners on my thick frizzy hair for years, I tried CHI when my old set died but I took the CHI back and returned to GHD; they are international voltage and have auto shut off. I recently purchased the new GHD curling iron and love love love it. I bough the classic but it comes in a few different sizes.

    3. Melissa*

      I had this Sedu ceramic curling iron: http://www.folica.com/tools/curling-irons/sedu-revolution-clipless-curling-iron. Folica.com has sales all the time – I think they are doing 20% off sitewide right now. I do not think I paid $120 for the curling iron, but I did pay no less than $80. In my opinion, though, heat tools are something worth splurging on, especially for curly hair with the tendency to be dry (I’m black with…I suck at hair typing, but my hair is curly/kinky afro-textured hair, probably mostly 4a with some tufts of 3c and tufts of 4b…?). Better heat tools reduce the potential for damage on your hair and help you control the amount and even distribution of heat.

      Also…it’s clipless, I know! I was originally skeptical of the clipless iron but once I got the hang of it, not only did it give me smoother curls but it’s also faster than the clip. But Folica is really good at having a “top 10” list for everything; that is their top-rated curling iron, but the next one (a Hot Tools titanium) has a clip. There’s also a BaByliss one on the list that has a clip too.

  5. Kathryn T.*

    I now have my “random, unique fact” all set to go the next time some process asks me for one: one of my Google Alerts informed me this morning that an album I sang on is nominated for a Grammy!

    (for “best producer,” mind you, so it has virtually zero to do with me. but I’m still claiming it for trivia purposes.)

      1. Kathryn T.*

        Thank you! I am way more twitterpated about it than it really warrants — I’m not even individually credited, the ensemble I sing with is, and it’s in the classical music category so it’s very much of a “small pond” situation. (The classical music Grammies aren’t even given out the same day as the regular Grammies, they have their own Nerd Grammies. Schmammies, maybe.) BUT WHO CARES I WAS TOTES NOMINATED FOR A GRAMMY RIGHT

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          Dude, I so get it. My chorus has done a few of those, and while no one will ever pick out your voice, you were still there! Just like I tell people I sang to a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden– it’s completely true, it’s just less amazing than they think it is. :)

          1. Kathryn T.*

            Exactly! In precisely the same sense, I have appeared on movie trailer soundtracks and on the soundtracks for a couple of video games, and I think on the credits for an Oprah Winfrey Network production. 100% true — but I am 0% famous. ;-)

            1. Almost famous*

              I sang in front of four presidents. (That time I belted out happy birthday to a friend at Mt. Rushmore.)

              1. Kathryn T.*

                For video games, the Reaper of Souls expansion for Diablo III and some content expansion for World of Warcraft, not sure which one. For movies — mostly only trailers. My friend is on the Mirror, Mirror soundtrack, though.

          1. Kathryn T.*

            Well *I* wasn’t nominated, really — the producer was nominated for the album, on which I am ensemble-credited. Really the only way it could have less to do with my individual performance is if the nomination was for “best album cover.”

    1. Mimmy*

      Wow!!! Don’t knock your involvement…it’s still a really cool thing to be a part of something that’s being recognized for outstanding work.

    2. cuppa*

      That is so cool! Also, it’s fascinating to see the Grammy categories. There are some really interesting ones that you don’t see on the awards shows!

      1. Kathryn T.*

        Faure: Pavane, with Dmitriy Lipay as the producer. He is legit really, really good. It’s on an album with a bunch of other Faure, featuring the Seattle Symphony &c.

            1. Fifi*

              It’s really beautiful, I didn’t know there was a version for orchestra and choir. Congratulations!
              (And thank you for giving me something to listen to while studying this afternoon :))

              1. Kathryn T.*

                Thank you! We (the Chorale) are going to be featured on at least two more releases next year, Ives #4 (which is a PIP let me tell you) and the Berlioz Romeo et Juliette, which we’re doing this upcoming week and recording for release. Maybe one of those will get nominated for a Grammy for something actually performance related!

  6. AnotherAnon*

    Just a friendly reminder to check your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors regularly! My CO detector literally saved my life earlier this week (long story short, it was because my odious downstairs neighbors, who I’ve posted about before, left their car running in their closed garage, which is attached to my unit, for over an hour one evening this week. Not a suicide attempt – just an extremely egregious act of negligence).

    1. Mimmy*

      Yikes!! So glad you’re okay!! I hope your neighbors realized the seriousness of that negligence *shakes finger at odious neighbors*

    2. Revanche*

      Geez, so glad you’re alright! My dad used to insist on running the car to warm the engine for AGES and I always had to make sure he didn’t do it in the garage with the door shut. :/

    3. Nicole*

      Glad you’re ok! My husband saw our neighbors doing the same thing last week. We’re in a side by side townhome with shared walls so I’m not sure if it would affect us but it just floors me that there are still people who don’t realize how dangerous that is.

      1. danr*

        It could affect you. Get a CO detector now. They make units that have their own battery sealed in and when the battery dies, it’s also time to replace the unit anyway.

    4. DaBlonde*

      A good habit is to check your smoke and CO detectors when you reset the clocks for daylight savings time starting and ending. They even have a motto, “Change your clocks, change your batteries.”

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Whoa, don’t do that!

      I knew someone who died doing that–he started the car in the closed garage and went back in the house. When he went back out into the garage to open the door, he was overcome by fumes and died. It was the son of a customer of ours at an old job. He was a very nice person. :(

      If you have someone to lecture about this, tell them this story!

    6. Anon Accountant*

      So glad you are okay. Their negligence could’ve had such devastating consequences for others.

  7. Mimmy*

    The family surgery marathon has finally come to an end! (Began with my brother’s shoulder surgery a month ago). My niece and dad had their surgeries this week, and both are doing well. My dad had his surgery on Thursday–they found a bone spur and a complete rotator cuff tear! The MRI only showed a partial tear. Amazingly, he’s up and about already. He has to be in a sling for 6 weeks though. He seemed to be in good spirits when I spoke to him a little while ago.

    Hopefully that’s it for surgeries in my family! *knock on wood*

  8. Masters Degree Searcher*

    How do you stop a helicopter mom from being such a “helicopter mom?” (As in withdraws money from your bank account to save it for you, tells you you’ve failed in life if you don’t pass the bar). I’ve already failed the bar 3 times, but I have an additional masters and I’m in my mid/late twenties making around 60,000 a year at a contract gig. (I haven’t even told her about my boyfriend I’ve been seeing for the past year). Where do I even start? I feel like the life I lead seems all “wrong” to her. That no matter what I do, it’ll be “wrong.” (She’s also getting eye surgery too. So I want to help but it’s like a ‘biting the hand that feeds you’ meets ‘chopping open the golden goose’ scenarios). She says 60k’s not enough and I feel like she’s badgering me until I make 100k (highly unlikely) then she’ll take out what she feels is rightfully hers.

    Oh, and she has property away from the childhood home. I’m paying rent to live in said apartment that she rents out.

    It’s a complicated web. tl;dr: helicopter mom driving me insane, feel like prey in a spider’s web and don’t know how to escape psychologically

    1. Liz in a Library*

      If possible, I’d definitely take her off your bank account. If you aren’t comfortable telling her directly that your finances are under control and not really her business, that will at least prevent her from interfering in them.

      1. Lore*

        Or at least open another bank account and have all or part of your paycheck direct deposit there. That isn’t as complete a break but might be easier especially if you don’t feel comfortable cutting her off completely from the funds. I think you probably can’t reason her into changing, which is a very hard thing to accept–but if you can start taking the steps necessary to lead the adult life you want for yourself in a way she can criticize but not materially interfere with, you might be able to start separating the psychological effects of her helicoptering from the logistical ones, if that makes sense. Both are unbelievably hard, but it sounds like part of what’s got you feeling trapped is that the two are so tied up.

    2. Graciosa*

      I don’t think there’s much I can add to my response to your post in Friday’s open thread, but you do have my sympathy.

    3. Elkay*

      I skimmed the thread on Friday and you got good advice. Mainly, change where your pay is deposited and if possible move into a place she doesn’t own. Maybe therapy too to try and untangle things in your head. Good luck.

    4. Sunflower*

      I have been in a similar situation. I have felt like since the day I graduated college, my mother has not approved of a single decision I have made. Whenever I make a decision on my own, it always feels wrong. It’s a terrible feeling to have. I started going to therapy over it, because I couldn’t understand what i was doing wrong. It was there I learned that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and these were her issues. Most of my time in therapy has been spent talking about her. Sounds like your mom is dealing with her own issues and taking them out on you. I’m sure her wanting you to make 100k has more to do with her disappointments in life rather than anything you’ve ever done.

      I would suggest trying to get yourself into therapy . And if possible, it would be great if she could come along to. And just keep remembering that these are her own issues and do not reflect at all on you. Good luck.

      1. Tris Prior*

        +1. I recently started therapy to deal with mom-related stuff. It’s not quite the same because the issues are entirely emotional and not logistical (she’s not on my bank account or anything, I’m financially independent of her, etc.). But I’d been having a really hard time feeling OK about doing things I want to do in life. Because either she’d throw a fit, or because she herself is not able to do many enjoyable things, for a variety of reasons both legit and made up in her head. I have a LOT of work to do around this but just sitting and talking with a total stranger who says it is OK for me to have needs, and to pursue them, and to be angry at my mom when she blows up and guilts me for living my life, has been surprisingly helpful.

        But, I do disagree with the suggestion that OP’s mom come along to therapy. One thing my therapist and I totally agree on is that my mom’s issues are her issues and she’d have to WANT to change in order for therapy to be helpful. I know my mom doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong and it sounds like OP’s mom feels the same.

        1. Sunflower*

          Hmm that is very interesting about your therapist saying that. My therapist also agreed that these are her own issues but she was always urging me to bring my mom along with me. I wonder if this had more to do with me feeling unable to talk to my mom about the problems though

          1. Bea W*

            You really have to be careful bringing problem parents into your therapy sessions, especially if they are manipulators and double if they are not going to own up to their own issues and sit there and make excuses, whine, and blame everyone else. A good therapist won’t be sucked into the powerful toxic vortex, but the session still ends up being useless and upsetting. I even had one experience where I had to fire a therapist after having my dad in a session. She met with him alone while I was delayed on public transit, and I can’t even imagine what he said without me in the room because what he said when I did get there was over the top painting himself as a victim of his terrible ex-wife and his terrible daughter. I ended up firing her after my next individual session. She had bought into his BS and was no longer a neutral party.

            My mother was the worse of the two, and having to sit there and listen to my father attacking her without interruption (when he wasn’t attacking me) was actually upsetting. What a friggin’ disaster that was! I never did that again (it wasn’t the only bad experience but it certainly was the worst!) I was spending my time and money at a therapist to help myself, not to give my parents validation or a place to play victims. I also think the line can be really blurry to some therapists when you are a young adult. They may look at you parents as still having authority over you, and regress to treating you as a minor rather than a full fledged independent adult.

            1. Sunflower*

              I ended up leaving that therapist because I didnt feel we were connecting on other issues so guess it was a good thing!

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Having read some of your other posts about your mom and recognizing there’s a cultural component here, I think the fact that this seems so hard to you is a flag that your next step might need to be a therapist to help you sort this out. From the outside, some of it seems so easy and obvious (for instance, you take her name off your bank account or open a different one and don’t give her access to it) that I think the fact that it doesn’t seem easy/obvious to you is the piece of this that’s actually the most notable and the part that’s screaming for the help of therapy. Your mom has somehow set you up to not see these answers as easy or obvious and that’s what you’ll need to tackle in order to really move forward.

      Serious question: Knowing that the price of having your independence is that your mom will throw a fit/cry/yell/guilt trip you/insert other options here, are you willing to pay that price? I ask because I’m hearing a lot of “how do I do this?” when I think you really mean “how do I do this without upsetting my mom?” The first question is actually pretty straightforward; the second isn’t possible and the question for you is how to be okay with proceeding anyway.

      1. C Average*


        A further thought (and I know reasonable minds may differ on this topic): consider a competent life-coach sort of person. Having had a little bit of experience being both therapized and life-coached, I preferred the life-coach approach because it seemed a bit more constructive. The therapist took a “how do you feel about this?” while the life coach took more of a “what are you gonna do about this?” approach. She helped me create plans and scripts and action items that led to me effecting some changes I knew I needed to make, and by talking through the potential obstacles with her, I was far better prepared to have challenging conversations and take difficult positions. (In my case, I was figuring out my brand-new role as a wife and stepmother.)

        I know there are some barely-qualified life coaches out there, so obviously do some research if you do go that direction. And finances may be a consideration: insurance often covers at least some therapy, but doesn’t generally cover life coaching.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Good stuff. I went to therapy when my father died and all the doctor wanted to do was talk about the past. Meanwhile, I was drowning in current time issues.

          When my husband passed, I was “older” and “wiser”. I went to a life coach. I was strategic. I wanted someone that was not hard to drive to. And I wanted to talk to another woman, figuring most of my stuff would boil down to seeing things from a woman’s perspective.
          (If one woman says to another woman, “I can’t get the snow thrower started”, there is no need to explain why this is a BFD.) And I wanted this woman to be a tad older than me.

          I found a lady who had a very active website, talking about her current work and seminars etc. She seemed to have things going on.
          It was a good choice for me. Added bonus, she was cheerful every time I saw her. Not so with Dr. Review The Past.
          The life coach was half the price of the shrink.

        2. anon today*

          I really also suggest therapy for the reasons Alison said. People’s suggestions are good but if it was so easy to just take your mom off your account, you would have done it already. There are a lot of what my therapist calls gnarly knots that tie us to our parents. The knots can be undone but it takes looking at them, really examining what kinds of reactions are going on when you think of, for example, taking her off the account, and seeing if this reaction is still helpful to you, and if not, then what would be more helpful? Therapy is great in helping parse these out, and then supporting you as you try perhaps a different behavior. It can be very scary to change a behavior and dynamic you may have had from your childhood, because then you were actually totally dependent on your mother, and to let go of the idea that perhaps the mother you have is just not the mother you wish you had.

        3. Melissa*

          This, I think, has a lot to do with the therapist’s training and individual orientation rather than therapist vs. life coach. There are dozens of different approaches to therapy, and therapists acquire different ones by training and by preference. The good news is that therapists usually list their orientation on their website, if they have one. The “how do you feel?” approach is a relic of the psychodynamic orientation, which surprisingly a lot of therapists still have today (it’s a derivative of the method developed by Sigmund Freud); the idea behind that is that you need to establish a bond/rapport with the therapist and uncover unconscious feelings and thoughts before you can begin progress.

          …for a lot of people the problem-solving, “What are you gonna do?” approach is better. For that, a therapist with a cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) orientation is good. CBT is designed to be short-term and directed/focused at solving specific problems. They do start out with thoughts; the idea is to address dysfunctional thoughts so that you can feel better and effect change quickly. I met with a clinical psychologist who took this approach, and she helped me both address the underlying thoughts and feelings that were causing me stress as well as helping me create action plans and concrete next steps to address the stressors. (In my case I was dealing with depression, anxiety, and insomnia brought on by grad school.)

      2. Florida*

        Second this. There are a lot of bad therapists and life coaches out there. (That’s true of any profession.) Also, some are good, but not good for you. It has to be the right match. So if you see someone and don’t feel like you are making progress, don’t give up on therapy in general, find another therapist. Sometimes you have to try a few before you find one that works for you.

        1. Artemesia*

          Life coaches need no training whatsoever. The two I actually know are the last people on earth I would want coaching me about anything. I am sure there are genius life coaches out there, but the term actually means nothing except ‘I hang out my shingle and tell other people what to do.’

          There are plenty of bad therapists, but at least psychologists and psychiatrists and even some counselors have gone through training and certification which ups the odds they are not complete charlatans.

      3. Masters Degree Searcher*

        Thanks for your remarks/thoughts.

        Regarding my mom, I guess part of me wishes she would ease up a bit so I didn’t have to tiptoe my way around my finances on my own (ie. open a covert savings account, get my credit score etc). I just wish she would gain some perspective and realize I’m actually somewhat successful and not a failure, and that she doesn’t have to take away a huge chunk of my money. She doesn’t trust me with my own money. She actually doesn’t trust me with my money, with guys/dating, with….anything–come to think of it. I’m not sure why. I have a JD/masters/nice credentials, I don’t smoke/drink/anything, (and she doesn’t know about the bf).

        It wouldn’t kill her to be more forgiving, more lenient, a bit optimistic–but maybe I’m expecting too much out of her. When I was in high school and college, I broached the subject gently, only to have her become highly upset/defensive and talk back, saying maybe she should ‘ignore me altogether–would I like that then?’

        So I guess I’m learning how to address the “how do I do this?” part, but the “without upsetting my mom” aspect is a different story. It seems like whatever I do, it’s always wrong. I’m so exhausted by her that there are times I’m willing to let things slide and cave in to her, and there are other moments like now, where I want to change that–and the realization that if I want to avoid a World War III (or IV) it’ll require a high level of secrecy.

        tl;dr: I guess what I’m leaning toward is stashing away money and opening my own savings account on the side so I have an emergency fund/can save for the long or short-term just in case. And celebrate my upcoming 1 year anniversary with my boyfriend near the ocean, and far, far away from my mother…**sigh** I want to tell her how amazing he is and I want him to meet her, but not when she’s acting the way she is..I just don’t feel safe sometimes.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I am so very sorry- this is like having your leg caught in a leg trap and you can’t get unstuck without it hurting more. Your mother has decided to be angry with you, there will always be some reason why. She will find reasons.

          Of course, she became highly upset when you tried to talk to her. That is part of her method of operation. If you do not do what she wants she will yell and threaten. This is who she is. Why? I dunno.

          The last conversation I had with my mother she told me, “I hope you burn in hell.”
          I lived. And I am still living. It can be done. And to be honest with you- it’s probably easier than getting a JD. If you can do that then you can do this. I had reached a point where it was scarier to stay around her than it was to leave her.

          I gotta say this: You seem like a VERY nice person. I can tell you that all the money, education, income in the world is WORTHLESS if you are NOT a nice person. Being nice/thoughtful will carry you further than any of those other things. You have what you need to launch your life. You can be taught everything else, but you cannot be taught to have a kind heart. You’re good here.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I think the piece that might not have fully sunk in for you yet is that it doesn’t matter if she trusts you with your money or not. You’re an adult and you get to manage your money on your own. In fact, not only do you get to, but doing that is part of being a fully-functioning, healthy adult. She’s actively hurting you by encouraging to think otherwise. She can trust you or not trust you — it doesn’t matter. Your money goes in your account, which only you have access to. If she prefers to do it differently, that doesn’t change that fact.

          You’re ceding control to her in areas where it’s pretty outrageous to cede.

        3. mdv*

          Masters Degree Searcher, I have had the experience of having to make changes in secret (from my emotionally abusive alcoholic father), and I want to tell you that while it is UNBELIEVABLY HARD — from making the decision itself, to going through with it, and having to explain to each and every person that it has to be a secret, to finally dealing with the aftermath from the abusive parent — it is also ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT. Once you “get over” the trauma of having to do all that, you will be amazed to discover just how much it is impacting your life in other, unknown ways.

          I haven’t completely cut ties to my dad, but as I am approaching my 40th birthday (in a few weeks), I am considering taking the next steps.

        4. Dmented Kitty*

          Late in the game here.

          I have exactly these type of parents. They kept me mostly indoors when I was younger, after school — go straight home, no extracurricular activities or hanging out a bit with friends before going home to avoid a victim of “kidnapping”. They took care of transport to/from school, and the fact that we live quite far from convenient public transportation, most of my friends couldn’t visit. I couldn’t visit or hang out with them on the weekends, either, since I don’t have the transportation. Needless to say, a lot of my friends eventually skipped inviting me after being unable to join. When I was in college, any hangout event I asked permission to go to was met with questions like, “Are you the only female in the group? Better not go, it’s not safe, and you should focus on your studies anyway, blah blah…” After a while, they switched over to passive-aggressive guilt trip – “Sure, you can go if you want to, but we’re going to be upset…” I learned to either just make up white lies (“oh there’s going to be other girls in the group” even if I’m the only girl in the group watching some superhero movie and I trust the guys I’m with) or just TELL them I’m going to so-and-so with who-and-who instead of ASKING them if I can go.

          With all the “studies first, boys later” mentality I was really terrified of introducing my boyfriends to my parents. They have a specific type of guy they want, it seems — someone with a stable job, and same ethnicity, and a good amount of savings. I get that they are concerned by my financial security in the future, but I really wouldn’t want to marry a guy who has all the money in the world but I don’t feel a connection with. There was one I dated that met their criteria and they were all for him, but years into the relationship I just couldn’t see myself marrying him in the long run and I broke up with him. He’s a great guy, it’s just that he’s not the “one”. Needless to say, there was HUGE drama between me and my parents after that, and the next guy I dated I’m back to square one — too terrified to have him meet my parents because they will disrespect him if they want to. I can’t even sit in a room with any of my parents without bristling.

          Which is why when I got my job and started saving money I did everything I could to be financially independent of them, with all the plans of moving out and getting my own place that I can set my own rules without having them always passive-aggressively hovering. To me, any form of dependence on them gives them control over me, and I do not want that. I met a guy and shortly after we got engaged, and we simply told them we are getting married, despite their pleading that I was “still too young” (I was already 27 then). They weren’t able to make it on my wedding. Years after, I made a life on my own, without any of their support, and they finally have left me alone to my life decisions. I still do talk to them once in a while and visit them occasionally (I moved out of the country after I got married).

          Now, my sister is having the same problem with them — she just got engaged to a guy that my parents “rejected” years ago (read: he visited her at home once and they gave him the coldest shoulder, and my sister was TERRIFIED and even told him to just leave the house before they outright disrespect him) so I’m wishing her luck with announcing her news, and I am definitely all for supporting her with her decision, as I’ve been through the same ordeal. She needs to start living her own life. And my parents need to loosen their grip. They’re not bad parents — they raised us well, it’s just time they trust their parenting and leave us to make responsible decisions with our lives.

          TLDR; Take control of your life — it’s not that you don’t love your mother, it’s just that you need to show her that you are a responsible adult who can take care of their own needs. Good luck.

        5. Melissa*

          …I’m just shooting in the dark here…but maybe (along with a therapist) explore how it would feel if you never got to the “without upsetting my mom” part? Or, to take it even further, how to perhaps be okay with your mom being upset and managing the fallout (mainly just your own feelings about the fallout)? Because from what you’ve described, it seems like your mom is the kind of person who looks for reasons to be upset because throwing a tantrum is the way that she manipulates you to get what she wants. I remember reading on a Captain Awkward post one time that the power behind people like this is that they use other people’s reasonableness and desire for harmony against them. But the only way to extinguish the behavior is to not reward them for it – aka, give them what they want – when they engage in it.

          My mom is not the same but I do identify with the not being trusted piece. For quite some time I would wonder why my parents thought I was a failure or hadn’t reached full potential – I didn’t drink or smoke, I was highly educated, good job, etc…then I realized that it was just because we were measuring success by completely different yardsticks. My parents had a specific set of things they wanted me to do (related to remaining in their religion); I was unwilling to do those things; therefore, they were never going to consider me a full success and I had to reconcile myself with that and get comfortable with it. Similarly, your mom’s metric of failure may a) always just be different enough from yours that you can’t reach it and/or b) be moving goalposts, e.g., the minute you do make $100K she will be wondering why you don’t make $250K.

    6. Natalie*

      This seems way beyond “helicopter mom” and into unhealthily controlling, IMO.

      People often convince themselves that there is some way they can get this kind of person to change, when in fact your attempts to anticipate their craziness plays into their need for control.

      No matter what your mom says, there’s not going to be some magical moment where she can suddenly let go. Not when you pass the bar, not when you make 100k. Meanwhile you run your life towards the impossible goal of getting her off your back. To be blunt, you’re going to have to shove her off (metaphorically).

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Part of how your mom has her hooks in you is through your finances.

      A wise person told me, be careful who you take money/goods/services from. It ALWAYS comes with strings attached. He went on to explain, when people give you money (or thing of value) they start to feel like they OWN a part of you. That quickly morphs into dictating what you should do and how you should do it.

      As long as you mother has involvement with your money she owns you.

      As far as her acting out, you may need a court order to get her to stop harassing you. But try everything else first.

      I know we try not to diagnose here, so I will very carefully say this: There is something very, very wrong with your mother. You cannot fix it. You probably never will be able to fix it. It is going to take several people to help your mother with her problems.

      Just to let you know, most of us here don’t like what your mother is doing to you. But we are rooting for you to be strong and dig yourself out of her control.

      1. kimberly*

        And keep in mind that if she doesn’t want to change, she probably won’t — even with “help.”

        You’re going to need to change how you respond to her …. which is sooooo much easier said than done. BUT, you do have control over your response to her. You do not have control over her behavior.

    8. Dynamic Beige*

      First, go on over to Reddit and look for raisedbynarcissists. Then, start looking for a new place to live. I’m serious about this. IMO, you open a new bank account, start getting your pay sent there and that very day you tell her you’ve found a new apartment closer to work. I would even go so far as to sign your lease for the new apartment, move all your stuff there, then give your mother notice that you’re moving. Because if she’s like this now, the instant you remove her from your bank account, she will ratchet it up. “Call me — I tried to access your bank account but I can’t.” “Call me, the bank is telling me that they can’t put me back on your account without your permission. Why have you done this? Don’t you love me?” She should not be taking money you have earned to “save” it for you — is she really saving it? Has she shown you the retirement plan she’s set up for you or given you access to the account? I doubt it.

      This isn’t a case of a helicopter mom. If she’s doing things like buying the same things you do, having the same laser eye (?) surgery you do at similar points, she’s in competition with you, not supporting you. And, if she’s already stated that once you make the amount of money she thinks you should, she’ll start helping herself to it because it’s her right… nope. If you do hit that 100K mark, suddenly you’re going to be a loser because so-and-so’s kid makes $200K and is married with twin boys! It’s a race you are never going to be able to win.

      1. Artemesia*

        It is pretty clear she is already helping herself to your money.

        Monday morning, get another account and set up your pay to be deposited there. And move most of your money out of the account you have now. Perhaps use that money for the deposit on a studio apt or a room in a share house.

        Good luck. You deserve a life — seize it.

    9. Sandrine (France)*

      Though my friend doesn’t have the same exact issues as you do, her Mom is also driving her insane and is doing everything she can to demonize her (how dare my friend have friends or a social life, etc… Friend lives at home until some issues due to her ex-husband are dealt with) .

      Friend comes from a culture where parents can have lots of control. Her mom seems like she doesn’t understand that her daughter is a grown up (she’s 28 and can’t stay overnight at friends’ places… I feel like a 15 years old when we really want to do something and have to invent a stupid idea so the mom can leave us alone) . Friend keeps asking “what will Mom think” “what will others think” if she moves out on her own, if she dates outside of the culture, so on and so forth.

      I’ve been telling her that she can’t change her mom. She can only deal with herself. Doing things her mom won’t like doesn’t make her a bad daughter, it makes her human. Since she lives in France and not Home Country, she can live just as any other French person, and make her own choices. She is quite unhappy about a lot of things and I told her that it all comes from the relationship with the mom. Either she thinks of doing something about this to be happier, or she surrenders to her mom but then she is not allowed to complain about the situation to me.

      It’s not that I am heartless, mind you. I only told her that because, as much as I love her, I can’t listen to her complaining about it all if she’s just going to blow off steam about something that makes her so utterly miserable.

      Best wishes to you, Master Degree Searcher. You seem like you have a good head on your shoulders. I hope you can find the strength to break away from the situation. I hope we can also help out, if only to listen (my e-mail and FB page are open if you need to talk) . I’m not a pro, but whoever needs a friendly ear will get it from me :) .

    10. Revanche*

      I have an aunt like this and her life mantra is if you’re not doing everything her way, *exactly* her way, then you are blatantly disrespecting her and hate her and want her to die, alone and miserable. No joke, that is her idea of logic and is applied to everything from you using a different check design than she thinks is “best” (WHO CARES?) to choosing to parent your way.
      Even though she tried to force me to take on the mantle of “like a daughter”, that seemed like a pretty bad deal to me. So I had it easy, what with recognizing how unhealthy that was and her not being my mom, I stopped taking her calls and don’t tell her anything about my life.
      My cousins, though, tried being forthright with her and asking for the changes they needed to make it a healthy relationship and she just had a fit. Multiple tantrums, really. So they had to learn to get away from her, physically moving out of the city even, and set up boundaries where if she tried to force her opinions on them, they would drop out of contact for a long while. She doesn’t quite learn the lesson she ought to, but it gives them the space to live their lives in a healthier environment without her hovering.

      We grew up in a culture where you always respect your elders and that often means blindly following their edicts but that doesn’t work here and now, and we have to forge new paths for ourselves that don’t continue to allow that kind of control and helicoptering. I agree with everyone who’s suggested new bank accounts etc – you’ll be better served by removing all the hooks she has into your life so that you can start to reduce the control she can impose. If it helps any, we’ve changed the dialogue from trying to change her actions to changing how she can impact our lives and never mind why she’s doing what she’s doing. It doesn’t matter that she thinks she’s got our best interests in mind, the fact remains that her actions themselves are unhelpful and oftentimes openly obstructive to leading a healthy and independent life.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher*

        This. Your aunt sounds exactly like my mom. And there’s no way to please her. If I tell her I knit, she’ll say I should learn to crochet. Or if I knitted her a scarf, she’d say it was the wrong color.

        I guess so far I’ve told her I work such crazy hours that the only way to get ahold of me is sporadic email and a phone call during the weekend–a healthy sort of distance if you will…

    11. Vancouver Reader*

      I have a friend in a similar situation with her mom and she is also of a different culture. What had helped her somewhat, was to move to the other side of the continent. Since your current position is a one year contract, can you start looking for work in another city, preferably far away from your mother?

      Everyone here has given great advice, you just have to decide if and when you’re ready to make the break.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher*

        I lived abroad for a couple or so years prior to this and now I live 50 min away. I’d be all for moving in a heartbeat, except my boyfriend lives here and I’ve gone through enough long-distance trauma with exes to know I can’t emotionally handle another long-distance thing. Interesting thought though, it is appreciated.

        Bf and I have considered moving to South Carolina though, or a couple states away, but that’ll happen maybe in 3 years after he finishes his masters (he just got in 2 month ago)..

    12. Elizabeth West*

      You can’t stop her from being like this. It’s who she is. For your own health, you need to disengage. I echo other commenters’ advice–find your own place, a place she has no stake in, and for God’s sake, get her off your bank account. And do talk to someone about this.

    13. danr*

      Like the others have mentioned, get a new bank account. Also, don’t borrow money from her or she’ll never let go. See if you can find a different place to live. As long as you’re renting from her, she feels that you have to play by her rules. I lived at home during my first out of college job. I payed some rent for my old room, but my mother still felt that she had total control over what I did. Once I moved out, I never went back to live there. There were overnight stays as a guest, but nothing long term.

      1. Artemesia*

        If you pay your mother rent, I’ll bet for the same money you can get a room in a shared house or a tiny studio.

    14. Jean*

      +1,000 to NotSoNewReader’s two comments:
      “You cannot fix [your mother’s concerns]. You probably never will be able to fix it. It is going to take several people to help your mother with her problems.” and “Just to let you know, most of us here don’t like what your mother is doing to you. But we are rooting for you to be strong and dig yourself out of her control.”

      Several commenters here have suggested therapy–preferably from another, somewhat older woman who shares or really, really understands your ethnic background. I wanted to add another practical suggestion: start with a social worker or a psychologist who helps her clients learn techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy, or other concrete, real-world, here-and-now approaches to relieve anxiety. In other words, you want a therapist who can guide you to make changes in the present, not one who will take a long detour into exploring your past, or your mom’s past, or how you feel about either or or both sets of past (and finished) experiences.

      Only a psychiatrist or another M.D. can prescribe medication (um, in the U.S. anyway) but (again, in the U.S.) but other therapists (PhD psychologists, LCSWs or MAs in counseling) can guide you to a prescribing physician.

      Good luck on your path. As NSNR said, a lot of people here are hoping for good results for you! Perhaps it will help you if I comment that the fact that you’ve been seeing your boyfriend for a year (of whom you’re certain your mom won’t approve) means that you’ve already acquired some skills in setting boundaries and making your own choices.

      1. Melissa*

        Nurse practitioners and physician assistants can prescribe medication in the U.S., too! Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioners are primary care providers who often work in clinics, sometimes in private practices. Physician assistants do sometimes take up psychiatry/mental health, too. If OP wants to explore medication to manage her mental health issues these two kinds of providers are also options.

        ALso, in three states (IL, NM, and LA) clinical psychologists can prescribe psychiatric medications in collaboration with a physician.

    15. Jean*

      Me again–checking back in to suggest that it might be helpful for your mom to attend a few therapy sessions if the therapist is someone whose authority she will respect and if the therapist can be relied upon to tell your mother that her way may have worked in another time or place but that under the current circumstances her helicoptering will make it impossible for you to have any kind of close relationship with her. (By “therapist” I mean either a counseling professional or a religious authority who shares or deeply understands your ethnic background, but who also has accepted that the Traditional Ways won’t work in your current time and place.) Not my own idea; I consulted a friend who has witnessed a similar positive adjustment in her extended family.

    16. TL -*

      I think the only way to stop her is to remove her access, like others have said – but whether that comes at a price you want to pay is a decision only you can make.

      The other thing I want to say is that you’ll manage to muddle through on your own if you do so – believe it or not, all the things that worry you about doing things on your own are things that other people have worried through and figured out on their own – you’re not alone for feeling like it’s difficult, even though it may seem like everyone else had it figured out. They were there, too. It’s how they figured it out.

    17. JLO*

      As a mother of three, 28,24, and 15 (going on 35), I do not get in my adult children’s business, unless they ask for. I can tell you that is not about making your mom change, because you have no control over that. You need to learn to say NO, you need to learn to teach others how you want to be treated, and like others said already your bank account should be on your name only. Somebody told many years ago: “If someone make you lose your peace don’t let them in your life, family or not.” I took this advise and it worked. Your mom is doing all these things becausse she can, so tell her how you feel, if it doesn’t work try something else. Pick your battles on what you will let her get away with, be happy and live your life the best you can.

    18. matcha123*

      I don’t think you can stop her. Honestly, my boyfriend’s mom is doing the same thing with him. I know that when I was living at home I got an earful from my mom about my life choices.
      The hard part is that you are the person they are leaning on and you are the person who has to hear about how much you suck compared to others. I think part of it is that your mom doesn’t totally see you as an adult.

      She’s taking money from your account to save it because she doesn’t trust you to do it yourself. She’s bugging you about the bar because in her mind the bar = secure job for life. And since I assume you don’t have kids, I will take a guess that the taking out money/paying her back for her help is her way of saying, “Since you’re not saving money to take care of kids, you’d better take care of me.”

      It was only after I was completely out of the house and doing things on my own that my mom was able to open up and start to respect me as someone who doesn’t make totally stupid decisions. I’ve mentioned this to someone else, but I really think the best thing to do is to have a big blow out fight and lay everything bare. Explain that if she wants to take the bar, she can, but there are lots of people who’ve passed the bar and don’t have a job. Explain your feelings to her. Ask her what she wants. etc.

      If you can move out of her rental property, I would do that if I were you. And also open a second account to have your paycheck deposited into. I am sure she’ll be pissed. She’ll probably threaten to disown you. Call her on the bluff and say that at your age it’s not fair to be taking care of your mom. Tell her that you’re tired of hearing about the bar. Finally, tell her that if she can’t understand that her kid isn’t a thing that just does what she says, then she shouldn’t have given birth in the first place. If she says you’re a failure of a daughter, tell her she’s a failure of a mother.

      In my view, the main thing you have to do is show that you can succeed without her help (ie- rental property that might be cheaper than market rent?). If you decide it’s worth it to continue living there, that’s fine, but you also have to find the courage inside to let out your feelings to her. I’m sure that when she tries to make you feel bad about your life, it’s her way of encouraging you to be be better, that you can do better. In that case, you also have to push back and say that you are satisfied with your life. It might take a year. It might take 5 years. But after a while, she will start to change her mind.

      1. TL -*

        Oh, I don’t think calling her a failure of a mother or deliberately having a big blow out fight will do anyone any good. You can set boundaries without attacking or being disrespectful (maybe not by her standards, but by most people’s standards) and I would advise the op to be as firm but polite as possible. The more unnecessary fuel she adds to the fire, the more damage she’ll do to the relationship and frankly, I don’t think she’ll gain anything from a nuclear explosion like that. Take the high road as much as possible; if she calls you a failure of a daughter, just calmly say you’re sorry she feels that way. Say you’re sorry to disappoint her but you have to live your own life, rather than she should never have had kids.
        I really don’t think there’s anything to gain from the op saying anger driven things just to hurt her mother; they’ll just eventually make both of them feel bad.

        1. matcha123*

          I somewhat disagree. If her situation could be simply solved by firmly and gently stating that she doesn’t want to have a shared account or does want to be accused of being a failure, then her situation would have been solved long ago. I think she mentioned trying to broach the issue gently with her mom a number of times.
          If she knows her mom’s style of thinking and can use that to further her position in an argument, I say go for it. I think she’s holding back because, like me, she’d feel terrible calling out a parent who in various ways sacrificed a lot for her. Her mom probably doesn’t see her actions as hurting her daughter in any way. She probably sees them as a form of encouragement: If I push her to her full potential, she can achieve it.
          I don’t see “I’m sorry you feel that way” having any effect on how her mom treats her.
          Of course I don’t know all the details of her family situation, but I can only speak as someone who’s been in a similar situation and for a long time made small peeps about my feelings. All I got back from my mom was “I’m sorry you feel that way about something that happened in the past, I’ve moved on.” Which was really just a way to discount my feelings. When I moved out, I could raise my voice a bit over the phone, hold my own and get my feelings out. I think it’s important for parents like this to realize that their kids didn’t choose to be born and that we kids have done the best we could do.

          1. TL -*

            I just don’t think it’ll actually change anything about the way her mother behaves. It’s not so much about being gentle as it is not … attacking her mother for the sake of attacking her mother. “I’m sorry you feel that way,” isn’t about getting her mother to change, it’s about disengaging from the interaction completely. She doesn’t have to respond to her mother’s behavior – she should state her feelings, but “when you X, I feel Y,” is much less charged and fight-inducing than “you’re a failure as a mother.”

            I’m going to pull a Dan Savage here and say all the she has to bargain with is her attention. When her mother crosses lines and ignores boundaries, ideally, she would be able to remove attention and interaction from her mom – not attack her back. That way, her mother learns the only way she’ll ever get to interact with her daughter is if she behaves herself. Saying incendiary things often only encourages the behaviors because it “justifies” the mother’s feelings and gives her more fuel for her anger/disappointment/whatever.

            You can’t change people’s behavior, even if you yell and scream and go nuclear. You can only decide what kinds of behavior you want to be around.

    19. Editor*

      I am so sorry that your mother does not understand that you will be a better daughter to her if she allows you to be independent. I realize this is affected by your culture, but I suggest you think about the various families you know or have heard about. Is the mother always so controlling, or is there sometimes one person who’s very controlling for a few generations until someone strong comes along who then takes over or leaves? Do some families balance the amount of control with the amount of freedom given? I hope you can find the degree of independence you want.

      While I’d encourage you to open a separate bank account at a different bank than the one she uses, as almost everyone has suggested, first you need to protect your credit.

      Get the free credit reports and check to see that your mother has not opened any credit cards in your name. Read about credit freezes and identity theft before you open the bank account and set up credit freezes and fraud alerts at the three major credit bureaus. Read about credit freezes and fraud alerts at the Federal Trade Commission site. If you’ve gotten through law school, you can read and understand basic financial information.

      Once your credit is protected — which you should do even if you don’t want a confrontation with your mother — you can have your paycheck sent to your own new account and set up an automatic transfer for the rent to the joint account with mom, as others have suggested. If you can’t face changing the bank account yet, but you cover some expenses with cash, then gradually increase your cash withdrawals and deposit them in a savings account in a separate bank to build up a little nest egg in case you have to move out of the apartment and need cash to do so. If you have clothes you don’t wear that are good enough for consignment, sell them and deposit the cash. If there are other ways to set aside money, do so.

      Also, get a safe deposit box and put any precious things in it, such as family jewelry or photos you don’t want to lose, so if your mother locks you out you don’t lose those items. Put things like spare pads of checks and the bank account documents in the safe deposit box and get paperless statements so your mom can’t access them. And if all this sounds like advice given to people trying to escape partners who are abusive and controlling, well, yes. You and your mom have a complicated relationship, and it sounds difficult.

      Read a general interest magazine about financial planning and money. You don’t have to subscribe if your local library gets those publications or has some basic books.

      Failing the bar exam may mean you have test anxiety or something — you may know whether that was a factor. Please don’t feel that the problems with the bar mean you aren’t capable of managing your own life.

      If you don’t manage to move out of mom’s apartment or break free during this contract job, then see if you can get your next job with a corporate employer that offers various options for saving money before it goes into your paycheck. For instance, investment companies and large corporations may offer savings plans, investment plans, deductions for 401(k) plans and other options that will allow you to sequester money even if you can’t bring yourself to break away from mom’s checking account. Start saving seriously for retirement through payroll deduction so that your mother doesn’t guarantee you an impoverished old age. Having money in a retirement account will not give you immediate independence, but it will make you more secure in the long run and the account isn’t something she can raid for cash whenever she wants. It will give you some peace of mind even if the day-to-day hassles are still ongoing.

      1. Masters Degree Searcher*

        Thanks–I really like this advice. For withdrawing the money and setting up a separate savings account eventually, are there any monthly (hidden) fees? One worry I always have is going through setting up another bank account, only to be billed for using it, to the point I have nothing left. Is this something I need to be concerned with, or are there accounts that don’t bill like that? (I’ve never really done this before).

        1. M.*

          This is something you can ask about. My current bank account does not charge fees if I have direct deposit or if I only use the ATM for deposits and withdrawals. My savings account that was set up at the time does not have any fees associated with it as they had some sort of special going on when I had created my accounts. I don’t make a lot of money so I’ve always opted for low fee/no fee accounts or basic level ones. It helps to make a list of questions and bring them with you when you go to the bank.

          Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for help. I upped and moved away from my parents with only $3000 and two suitcases (healthiest decision I’ve ever made). No job, no car, no place to live. I learned that it’s better to ask as many questions as you need to understand something, and that people are willing to help.

        2. TL -*

          Is this concern coming from what your mother has told you? Because there are lots of no/low fee bank accounts – I have accounts with 4 different banks, make much less than you, and have never had my accounts wiped by charges. Ask questions and be cautious but it’s not a likely thing to happen.

          And for what it’s worth, bank of America has really clear online guides to their accounts and potential charges for a good place to start looking.

        3. Judy*

          You just call up places or check their websites and figure out what the charges are. I’d suggest looking at credit unions along with banks. (You have to be a member of a certain group to join a credit union, but it’s not nearly as strict here as it was before. You could join the PTA for $5 and be a member of the local teachers credit union.)

          When we got married, and whenever we’ve moved, we usually do a survey of the banking options. Make a spreadsheet with costs for x, y & z. (But we’re engineers, too, so it’s what we do. ;)

        4. Gene*

          Credit Union.

          Banks like to make you think they are the only choice, but credit unions do the same thing without the profit motive.

    20. A. D. Kay*

      It might be useful for you to read Captain Awkward. The woman who runs that blog has similar parents and has written a lot about ways to shut down controlling parents and establish your boundaries. It would be a good resource if you are not quite ready for a therapist (or until you find one that is right for you). Good luck!

    21. Long Time Reader, First Time Commenter*

      This question really hits home to me. I have a very similar mother who pretty much makes your life miserable any time you dare not to follow her commands. I was able to tolerate much of her craziness until I had a child of my own. When my daughter was only a few weeks old according to her we were doing many abusive things to her. We burped her so hard that she was going to get shaken baby syndrome, we swaddled her so much that one arm was shorter and less functional than the other, and my husband once gave her an “environmental fever” by feeding her a bottle while propped on a pillow in his lap rather than in his arms. These were all completely her delusions. There were many other things we did wrong as well. I ended up ignoring her calls for a few weeks as I couldn’t deal with being a new mom with post partum and having a crazy mother telling me everything I did was wrong. Well, that led to her calling CPS and having us investigated. CPS came out and found the “abuse” claims completely baseless, and I have not had a relationship with my mother since. To this day she trys to reach out to me and I tell her I will not talk to her until she can apologize for calling CPS and tell me how she would do things differently and she flat refuses to admit any wrong doing. My daughter, her only grandchild is almost 6 now and she hasn’t seen her since she was 8 weeks old.

      It’s so sad and I can’t help but wonder if I hadn’t set up better boundaries with her earlier in my life, maybe things wouldn’t have happened the way they did. At the same time, I’m not sure if it would have made a difference or not.

      What I’m trying to tell you, is that this is a BIG DEAL and you are best to try to get boundaries and expectations set with your mother now, before some huge event happens like happened to me, and you are forced to make a horrible decision. I love my mom, she was a wonderful mother in a million ways. I miss being able to call her and talk about my daughter, work, etc. I hope you do not end up like me. I wish you the best in navigating this minefield!

      1. Masters Degree Searcher*

        Wow. Thanks for sharing; it makes me feel better that maybe I’m not alone–that there are others who’ve gone through so much. Its a miracle I was actually able to move out of the family home–I went apt hunting and looked up my credit score then left but I’m worried about whether there are crazy fees attached to opening bank accts. I do like the idea of withdrawing more money then safeguarding it (I don’t recall if it was you or another poster who mentioned it).

        1. Mephyle*

          Please don’t worry about opening a new account. Banks want your business. They don’t attach crazy fees to opening accounts, or it would scare the customers away. So that is one less thing for you to worry about. Fees are charged for some services, but you can do some comparison shopping to find out which type of account is best for your needs.

        2. Jean*

          Credit unions may give you better terms than a bank in terms of fees, mandatory minimums to keep in the account, etc. When we joined our credit union years ago we had to be referred in by a family member, but things may well have changed. Just another idea to consider.

        3. Melissa*

          If you are worried about recurring monthly fees, I second the recommendation of a credit union – I have a checking account through a credit union with NO fees. But if you can’t find a credit union you’re eligible for, think about an online back – like Capital One 360, Nationwide Banking, Ally Bank or ING Direct. Online banks don’t have physical locations, so you can’t go see a teller or anything. But you would rarely need to – most of them have no checking account fees, will reimburse you for ATM fees at out of network ATMs, and have mobile apps and website that allow full management of your funds – including mobile check deposits. My credit union has no physical locations and it even has an agreement with UPS to allow cash deposits at participating UPS Stores, should I ever need to deposit cash (which I never have).

          I had Ally Bank for a while and they had great customer service.

          You can also use ASmarterChoice.org to find a credit union you’re eligible for (http://www.asmarterchoice.org/find-a-credit-union).

    22. soitgoes*

      You are a daughter to be proud of! Your mother’s opinions of you have nothing to do with you. Do you know how many programs I (and everyone here) tried and then flunked or dropped out of? How many of us didn’t pass the bar exam? It means you tried something, got valuable experience, and realized that it wasn’t the best choice for you.

      When it comes to money, I’m curious as to whether you have a realistic conception of how much $60k a year actually is. There is no reason for you to be renting property from your mother (it would be different if you were staying there for free, but you’re paying rent), and I wonder if she’s deliberately over-charging you to give you the impression that rents are always that high. With $60k a year, you could rent yourself an amazing apartment or even a house.

      I have a feeling that she’s taking money out of your bank account to make you feel like you’re broke and couldn’t afford to live on your own without her. I’m focusing on the money because you have the resources to build a wonderful life for yourself, as well as a boyfriend who can give you the emotional support you need. You have everything going for you. Follow the good advice given in this thread and good luck!

      1. A. D. Kay*

        “I have a feeling that she’s taking money out of your bank account to make you feel like you’re broke and couldn’t afford to live on your own without her.”
        I think you hit the nail on the head right here!

        1. Masters Degree Searcher*

          Sounds pretty close to home. Our last phone conversation involved her telling me she wanted $2000 a month taken out of my account and she just texted me 3 hours ago that she took $500 out and put it away for my ‘savings’ in a way I have zero access to in any recent point in time.

          She asked me if I could live on $500 a month from now on, and I told her $600 to try and pacify her..X/

          1. soitgoes*

            No no no no no! You make $60k a year! That is $5,000 a month, not $500! I dream of what I could do with that much money! It breaks my heart that you don’t get to have fun with your own money.

            Is this how you “pay” your rent? Your mother just takes out as much money as she wants? Call your bank NOW and have her name taken off of your account. I’m sure there’s an easy explanation to give her. How old are you? How long has your mother been on your bank account? You could tell her that when child saver accounts are aged up to a certain point, the parents are automatically removed. Something similar really did happen with my student account (which didn’t require minimum balances). Once I turned 26, my account switched over to a normal adult one.

          2. Liz in a Library*

            So…are you certain that she actually is saving this money for you? In those amounts, I’d be really skeptical and worried she’s simply stealing and possibly even hiding a serious issue with the theft (gambling, obsessive shopping, or something similar). I know this may very well be completely wrong, but have you seen any evidence of the saving (statements or some such)?

          3. Editor*

            As others have noted, opening up a savings account won’t mean the money is consumed by fees. Its my experience that bank staff members will explain the options they offer, although a lot of no-fee accounts ask for direct deposit. But you should be able to open a savings account and add to it regularly without having it eaten up in fees.

            Her latest maneuver to skim off more money and leave you with less of your earnings really concerns me. I would really encourage you to take control of your own finances. The community college near me offers a noncredit course in its evening program about money management, and perhaps you could enroll in that or see if your state’s Cooperative Extension network has publications or classes about personal finance; there may also be classes about Quicken you could take so you could track your money. You can manage your own money.

            One thing I would suggest you do is to put together a spreadsheet showing your gross pay, tracking the deductions from your paycheck that are listed on the check for taxes and so on, and then tracking the other expenses you have, including your mother’s withdrawals. Keep a rolling total of the amount of money she is removing so you can see, paycheck to paycheck, how much of your salary she has removed. There are two reasons to do this. First, it gets you used to keeping records about your money, and people who manage their funds responsibly generally know where their money is going. Second, perhaps a record of how much she is removing will provide an impetus for you to take control of your finances.

            With a salary of $60,000 a year, you should be able to rent a very small place on your own in moderately expensive markets (such as Philadelphia) and maybe even a two-bedroom in less expensive markets; it will be tougher in NYC or San Francisco, but sharing would be an option. I hope you can move to an apartment she doesn’t control and that you take control of your own money, because it sounds like she is pushing you even harder — perhaps she can sense your desire for independence. And I’m sorry, but I don’t think she’s ever going to let go gracefully.

          4. Momiitz*

            What does your bf think about this? Is he encouraging you to take more control from your mother? I hope he is because you need to hear how you are being taken advantage of by your mother.

            Please understand that we want you to feel empowered.

            Two things will happen when you cut your mom off from your bank account. Your mother will guilt you by starting WW3. You are taking away her free ride of about $4500 a month. That is your money. You do not owe it to her no matter what she says. Be prepared to move out of her apartment, and make sure the stuff you want to keep is moved to a separate location.

            The second thing that will happen is you will realize how much she has taken from you, money wise and freedom wise. I hope it makes you angry enough to break free from her control. Your mother has been lying to you about a lot of things to keep you allowing her to take that $4500 a month from you. I hate to say it but I’m sure that money is gone and you will not ever see it again.

            If you take control of your money you don’t need to worry about not having enough. My husband and I make about $4700 a month and have a nice three bedroom house and enough money left over for food and all of our bills.

            You are a smart person and you can do this. First educate yourself with what you take home after taxes. You will find this on your pay stub. Then find out the real cost of renting a place and set up a budget. Lots of websites can help you with that. I like daveramsey.com.

            I did not mean to make this so long but I want you to know you can do this and I want you to feel empowered to take charge of your money and your life. It’s okay if you upset your mother. Good luck and keep your chin up no matter what you decide.

          5. Anonsie*

            Pacify her with $600, call your bank and tell them to remove her access to the account. Or, if you can’t do that, withdraw all of it and open a new one at a different bank. Do it today and don’t even mention it.

            Your mother is trying to create a situation in which you feel like you cannot possibly remove her without damaging yourself. She’s “saving” your money for you, making it so you can’t afford to live outside the family property, making it sound like you can’t even open your own bank account because some mystery fees might ruin you.

          6. Melissa*

            You make $60K a year and your mom wants to leave you with $500 a month – literally 1/10? what on earth?!

  9. Sunflower*

    Has anyone ever quit a stable, ‘normal’ job to do something that allows for more spontaneity? Lately I’ve been noticing a lot of my friends who are bartenders seem to have a lot of flexibility with their lives. A lot of them live multiple places during the year and can just seem to pick up jobs easily in other cities. Or take off for long periods at at time.

    I recently stumbled on a blog about a guy who dislikes traveling and prefers to live mini-lives. Basically, he leaves his home base for a month or two and travels to live somewhere else for that time. However, he doesn’t do normal travel things. He leads a life like someone who lives there. Something in this article really resonated with me. I enjoy traveling but *this* was something I really want to do.

    I’ve always dreamed of having a job where I could move every 6 months and I’m wondering if this is something I could try for a bit. Esp since the job search isn’t going too well and I have no clue what step to take next. I have no ties(relationships, children, mortgages) or commitments. Has anyone done something like this? Known anyone who has done this?

    1. cuppa*

      There is a lot of room for this in the medical field. There are firms that will send you wherever you want to go in the country for a stint and then you pick the next place you want to go. It’s usually called a travelling nurse/therapist/whatever.

      1. Meg Murry*

        Yes, I recently met someone who takes 3 month-1 year contacts as a pediatric ICU nurse and has lived all over the country. I also know a doctor who travels with “snowbird” populations, spending summers in Ohio and winters in Arizona or Florida.
        I’m pretty sure both of them were well established professionals in their fields before they started traveling though.

    2. justine*

      I would love to do that too!

      My husband is in the military and we’ve lived 7 different places in the past 11 years and I’m on the move again Monday – moving to Cali for a great job I got there while he stays home! All the moving has been terrible for my career but so fulfilling in other ways. If I just went on vacation to any of those places I’d never see all that I saw or meet and formed friendships with the people there.

      My friends travels all the time as a software trainer. If the medical field doesn’t interest you there are other avenues. Good luck!

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      I lived and studied abroad and loved it if you get a chance to settle somewhere for even a little while I’d recommend it.

      I’d still be living abroad but they threatened to deport me :( so I had to come home.

      What’s the blog called I’d like to read it.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Thank you, I’m tempted to look at moving somewhere new after reading that, he makes it sound so easy.

    4. Treena Kravm*

      This is almost exactly how I live/travel. I’ve lived in 7 cities in the past 8 years, in 3 states and 2 countries and plan on continuing living in different places for periods of time ranging from 6 months to 3 years via grad school and contract positions. We already know we’ll settle down in my hometown, so we’re not worried about finding a “forever” place.

      Although moving is very expensive, it’s actually gotten cheaper over the years as we constantly are paring down what we move with us. And then regional travel is much less expensive because we don’t waste time/money getting places. This works best for me because this way I have no desire to pick up and leave for a longer trip, because my life is a series of long trips. In fact, when I feel like I need to travel more, that means a move needs to happen soon.

      It’s easy for us because my husband works remotely for his company, so he just follows wherever I go. Honestly, it’s probably the best time for you to do this. I’m usually an opportunity seeker, so I follow job offers. But for the next move, I’ve picked the place first and figuring out what I’ll do there once I’m already there. This is very intimidating for me, even having moved over 15 times in my life! But lots of people think that’s less daunting, so you’ll have to figure out which path you want to take.

      This is really easy to do with non-professional jobs, as you’ve noticed. You could live your whole life around the world, with a seasonal patchwork of bar tending/serving, nannying/au pairing, teaching English, being a ski instructor, etc. But if you want to build a professional career, you have to be a bit more strategic–it’s definitely possible! Good luck =)

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      It’s how I found my passion.

      I walked away from a career in the insurance industry. I’d only been in it five years, straight out of school, but I was being promoted like a rocket and was flagged for “great things”. It was also strangling me and I hated my job and my life. One day, I just quit. (I think not too long after I looked in the mirror and realized I was dressed in red, white & blue with one of those bow tie blouses, hello 1985.)

      I thought I was quitting for flexibility to become a professional writer. I took a flexible day job with little responsibilities and not much pay as an admin assistant.

      What actually happened was I fell into my passion.

      I’ve always dreamed of having a job where I could move every 6 months

      I’m a big fan of non-linear paths for roads to discovery. Once you have financial responsibilities to other people, it’s very hard to take them.

      While this is dangerously close to work advice :), I proclaim that it is life discussion. I think it’s how you can meet the partner you wouldn’t have met otherwise and discover how your piece fits in the Grand Puzzle.

      You can also find out quickly: Nomad not for me, rather than spending a life wishing you’d had a chance to nomad about.

    6. Sweet Potato*

      Yes, I just did this, and I know plenty of other people who have. Here’s my story. I started out in very flexible jobs (service industry, tourist towns) because it was what I could find. Then I got a masters degree and worked in the corporate world for four years. I appreciated the salary and benefits but couldn’t stand the lack of flexibility. So I saved up enough to live off of for a year and now I’m self publishing books and will see where that leads me. I know other people who have done the same thing, using the corporate world as a way to save up to pursue their dreams. Despite all the advice I see to the contrary, real life experience tells me that pursuing your passion pays off as long as you work hard and have a reasonably solid plan.

  10. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    2015 has been TERRIBLE so far and I’d really like it to step up its game already. Between two bereavements and FIL in hospital with all sorts of nasty issues and work being ridiculously boring and depression rearing its ugly head well and truly, I am just DONE. Can I go to bed until next year, please?

    1. cuppa*

      I’m very sorry. In many ways, my 2014 was like that. It sucks. Hope things turn around for you soon. Take care of yourself.

    2. justine*

      Big hug to you MJ! You take as long of a nap as you need, and when you’re up for it let the sun wash over your face, put on your favorite song and hopefully you’ll realize your sadness will ebb. We’re here when you need us!

    3. Revanche*

      You have my empathies. Some years are just too too hard and it’s a relief when they’re over. :( I really hope the rest of the year is kinder to you.

    4. C Average*

      I’m sorry about the early-2015 suckage you’re experiencing. I hope things get better without you having to hibernate for the remainder of the year.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      *hug* Me too. Seriously, maybe things will get better once winter finally gets the hell out of dodge. I think it messes with everything.

      I was whingeing about things myself, and one of my awesome friends made me laugh when she posted, “OMG baby 2015, stop crying and pooping all over everything!”

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      I am really starting to hate January. My dad died in January in 2006. My brother died in January 2014. And in January 2015, one friend lost her mom, and another friend lost her stepmom. And my cousin and her husband were on vacation in the Cayman Islands, and he had a heart attack and died while they were snorkeling.

      January sucks.

    7. StillHealing*

      and it’s only February 7th….I’m so sorry. I hope it starts to improve for you soon.

      It’s totally sucked for me too but I feel in my gut it’s going to get much better…I really do. I hope it becomes the same for you.

    8. Editor*

      When I went through a year of deaths and unhappiness and so on several years ago, two things helped pull me out. One was a grief support group that I still attend regularly, since it meets only once a month. Groups vary — like therapy, you may have to try several before you find one you want to attend more than once or twice. There seem to be a lot available here in the U.S., mostly through hospice groups; don’t know what there is for you in person or online.

      The other assistance came as a result of a workup by my doctor that included testing my Vitamin D levels, which turned out to be low. I get blue on short days during winter — but I think you’re in summer, now, right? — but now I take extra vitamin D every day. I’ve had some evidence that going without the tablets affects my mood after a few days, especially in winter. The doctor monitors this annually, so I get some independent feedback about the levels.

      I didn’t want to take antidepressants, and I credit the vitamin D with helping me avoid them, but don’t avoid asking your doctor about antidepressants if you want them. Two-thirds of my grief group have found them very helpful, either for short periods or for long term (my group is for people who have lost spouses unexpectedly, so for some members, they’re shell-shocked for quite a while).

      Regular exercise has also helped some people in the grief group — walking, swimming, Zumba or just going to the gym. At least three women I know bought dogs and find that the routine imposed by meeting the dog’s needs and walking the dog have helped them immensely. Only one of them is a renter, though, and all of them can afford their pets. None of them have family members with allergies or dogs that bark endlessly or other issues that interfere with pet ownership.

      Monitor generally what you eat and whether you get enough sleep. Grief and anxiety can interfere with normal schedules, so getting the nutrients and sleep you need help improve your health even if you are unhappy.

      I hope some of these tips help. Sometimes it’s hard to see that you yourself are strong enough to cope with all the pain and unhappiness, but it can be done, and relying on pills or therapy or whatever may simply be what it takes to get through the worst of it. Good luck — I will be keeping you in my thoughts.

  11. Camster*

    I have two cats that are getting older (one is 12 and the other is 10 years old). I’m thinking of getting insurance for them as I know vet expenses can increase in the future (they both seem healthy now). There are so many plans out there! Has anyone here had any experience with pet insurance plans? (I’m in California by the way). Last year I spent about a $1000 for both of them to get a complete check up (including blood work) and grooming.

    1. Windchime*

      I haven’t purchased insurance on my cat but I may. He is currently only 2 years old and is very healthy. My previous cat had several thousand dollars of medical care (OK, about $4k if I’m being honest) in the last year of his life. My vet tells me that most of it would have been covered by insurance if I’d had it.

      It seems like it could be a really good thing to have. The cats have to be certified as healthy by the vet before you can enroll, I believe, but at 10 and 12 yours probably are still very healthy.

    2. Calla*

      I never bought it, but I did a lot of comparisons and after everything was considering PetPlan. Make sure you look at age restrictions (many won’t cover cats who are over like 8 when they enroll) and whether they cover breed/hereditary conditions. None will cover pre-existing conditions. Ours are 10/11 and 12 (they’re rescues so we’re not 100% sure) and iirc, when I got a quote it would have been something like $100-120 a month for both.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I got pet insurance immediately when we adopted our pup. I have VPI, and I chose it only because my job at the time offered a good discount. Our dog is very (knock wood and spit) healthy, but we did get reimbursed enough to cover last year’s premiums. Insurance only covers part of our semi-annual exams, and it doesn’t cover vaccines or drugs, but we did get everything covered when he had an infected paw and again when he had some kind of unknown paw injury that cost $350 and ended up being nothing more really dry paw pads.

      We lived in NYC and went to an expensive vet; our vet now is much cheaper, but the insurance is still good to have. I have one friend who swears by HealthyPaws– her dog had to have surgery last year to remove a cancerous tumor, and 90% of her costs were covered. I’m highly risk-averse, so even with my healthy dog, I’m glad we have coverage.

      Your insurance won’t cover grooming, so that expense will still be there.

    4. Revanche*

      VPI occasionally has decent plans but you’re best using them when your pets are younger. I had to skip the insurance because both my dogs were older (similar ages to your cats) and the premiums weren’t worth it for what they’d cover vs what was considered a preexisting condition. Read all the fine print carefully if you can find one with a decent premium to make sure you know what’s being excluded, I was surprised by some of the items I found.

      1. Camster*

        Thanks for all your replies! Good points! I’ve been checking different plans out and there’s a big variety in what they cover, exclusions and deductibles. I.m checking into VPI, Petplan and Embrace (which covers medications and vaccinations). I don’t have kids so these two are my babies!

  12. Ruth (UK)*

    I swear this isn’t work related, but stems from the question posted fairly recently where the OP was wondering how to deal with homeless people near their workplace. Homelessness etc is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over the winter, and there are a number of homeless people in the area around where I live. I mentioned on that post how sometimes people camp outside or near my door, and I have occasionally brought someone a hot drink but that’s as far as my involvement has previously ever gone.

    After reading the comments on that post and thinking/googling about it more, I got up the courage to look up and contact a food kitchen in my area and sign up to volunteer there. (the main thing stopping me previously was fear of it being awkward or me doing something stupid and various anxiety etc).

    Anyway, I did a volunteer shift there for the first time earlier this week and it went really well – everyone was very friendly, etc, and it was very interesting to hear about the set up of the group, etc. I have worked a number of kitchen and food retail jobs in my life which kinda helped me, and this was basically similar to the positive things about working in a kitchen (because no rude customers, no horrid management, etc). They use a church/village hall which has a piano and one of the guys who came to eat played (well) most of the evening. I have put my name down for some coming shifts in the next few weeks (they use a google docs shift sign up thing which is pretty awesome).

    Also, they serve food collected from shops etc that would otherwise be wasted. Ie. food that is still good / fit for human consumption but has no commercial value. For example, bruised/misshapen fruit/veg or items that have passed the sell-by date but not gone off. This turned out to include about a million carrots…

    So if anyone else has considered volunteering at something like this and has been stopped by anxiety about it, I (as a fairly awkward person) give it a green-light for being probably not as scary or hard-to-get-involved as you might expect!

    ps. I never mean to type such lengthy comments, I just look back and realise I’ve almost created a textblockofdoom, sorry!

    1. Muriel Heslop*

      So cool! I love that you were inspired by that post! Thank you for being such an encouragement!

  13. Sandrine (France)*

    Wish me luck!

    Managed to buy a few clothes on sale (including a pair of LOVELY knee high boots for larger-calves) .
    Had my nails done a few days ago, just had a few pictures taken with a friend’s Iphone on Friday and even though the cleavage is strong in this one (I’ll put it up as my FB Page profile pic anyways so you can see in the link) .
    Had brows and upper lip waxed (OH BOY DID THAT ONE HURT OUCH OUCH OUCH) and I’m starting to take steps to cut down drastically on soda.


    I think I’m trying to change myself haha :P

      1. Sandrine (France)*

        Nothing coming up, actually! I am getting married next year, sure, but other than that, nothing really sparked this. It just went “DING” in my head, and quite frankly, given the comments I had so far on the pictures (including a very classy comment from a guy I slept with who told me that he really liked how what I did changed the outside as well as the inside, and how it looks like I’m feeling so much better… it does sound better in French I swear lol) , I’m thinking… darn, and I waited so long for this.

        Now I hope this new momentum also gives me strength to end up getting a driver’s license, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves here. Haha.

    1. Stephanie*

      Upper lip hair removal is always painful. I need to go get mine taken care of before it gets too long and I ended up tearing up.

    2. matcha123*

      You might want to try threading if it’s available in your area. It’s an Indian technique of plucking hair using a thread. I’ve heard that it’s a lot easier on your skin.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          I found that threading was a lot easier on my eyebrows (but my eyebrows have no feeling any more thanks to years of waxing), but hurt like a bitch on my upper lip still. I haven’t found a pain-free method to remove hair there, unfortunately, but I’ve never tried using a depilatory cream (which of course doesn’t hurt, but you have to endure smelling chemicals directly under your nose).

            1. matcha123*

              I used to use a cream on my upper lip. I still have it in my apartment, although I haven’t used it for years. I have shavers that are popular in Japan that I use. They don’t hurt and the hair doesn’t grow back thicker because it’s supposed to be used on your face. I also use them on my arms :3
              Here’s a link if you’re interested:

  14. Sunflower*

    Does anyone have a recipe for relatively easy to make french macarons? I have heard horror stories over people trying to make them.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I’m not sure making macarons can ever be “easy”. Those fancy shops sell them at exorbitant prices for a reason. They’re very finicky and hard to get right. My best friend is an excellent amateur baker and she has made macarons successfully a few times, but some batches still come out poorly for no obvious reason.

        1. Stephanie*

          Yes, this. I’m a pretty good amateur baker, but I found macarons too finicky to make, especially when I lived in a humid area. (And I realized I just didn’t like them enough to deal with the headache.)

          Climate makes a difference, so try not to make them on humid days.

    2. BRR*

      Everybody I know has taken a class specifically on them. I’m personally a fan of buying them from trader joes.

    3. August*

      I followed chef Bruno Albouze’s recipe which is on you tube. It came out fantastic. I do it once or twice a year now.
      He is just amazing.

    4. Sparrow*

      A bit late here, but check out the site BraveTart for lots of tips on making macarons. If you search for “bravetart macaron” that will bring up all the related posts on that site.

  15. That Anonymous Feeling*

    I tried to do something nice the other day. I fear it was not taken well.

    I’m male, in my late 40s, successful, married with two kids. I love my wife and kids. I keep a minimal presence on Facebook, and several of my kids’ friends have friended me. Which is nice, I guess, but I don’t have much of anything to say to any of them.

    One of these friends, A, is a very nice and extremely bright young woman who just recently started college several hundred miles away. A and A’s family do not have a lot of money. I’ve known A for 6 years and have always liked A a lot. She’s a good, talented person who wants to be a doctor; I believe she will go on to do good things for the world.

    So the other day on FB, A posted that her laptop computer is broken. She has practically no money to buy a new machine. She called on her friends (including me) to help her find a computer, and I found one that would be perfect for her needs – but it’s like $500, which is more than she could afford.

    I thought about it and went back and forth. The thing is, I am blessed to be at a place in life where I could simply buy her the computer as a gift. But should I? For the purpose of this discussion, I’d like to ask that we assume that there are NO sexual undertones to this. I know some people are going to think this, but the simple fact is that I have no such interest in A or in being her ‘sugar daddy’. I know I could go give $500 to the United Way or something, and they’d spend it on I-don’t-know-what. But here I see someone I know who has a need, is deserving, and I can help.

    In the end, I decided it was better to do something than nothing. I considered doing it anonymously, but for a number of reasons, that was not realistic. So I contacted A, told her about the machine I had found, she said “this is perfect … but it’s way to expensive” and then I offered to buy it for her. After a few seconds pause, she typed back that she really appreciated the thought, but she just couldn’t accept such an expensive gift – she’d feel like she owed me something. I assured her that I expected nothing in return – perhaps she could think of it as a late HS graduation gift? Also I told her that if she decided she wanted the computer, I would ask her not to tell anyone about my involvement. In the end, she said she’d think about it and get back to me.

    Well, she hasn’t gotten back to me, so I think she probably doesn’t want the computer.

    I’m left feeling kind of bad, for some reason. I was trying to do something nice. But it doesn’t seem to have worked out. Was I wrong to have even attempted this? Was there a better way I could have gone about it? Have I offended A?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Not necessarily offended her, but maybe she felt awkward.
      Yeah, it probably was not the best idea to throw out there. Even though you have the best of intentions, that may not be abundantly clear to her.

      Just let it go. Say no more. You have your answer. Not what you wanted to hear but it is an answer.

      This happens. I have offered to help people and been told flat out no. Once I hear the no word, I know I am done. I have gone as far as I can go.

    2. Sunflower*

      I don’t think you’ve offended her. There are some people who would take an expensive gift, realize it’s nothing more than a gift(no strings attached) and be okay with it. Other people do not feel that way. I am someone who has a difficult time accepting expensive things. Maybe because of how I grew up. I was never given gifts with no strings attached- but they were always presented that way. My parents gave me things and it felt like I was expected to go to college and get a degree/career they approved of.

      She might be more comfortable if you offer it on a loan type basis? Are you by any chance in the market for a new computer? if so, you could buy a new one and give her your old one?

    3. the gold digger*

      The part that would have made me uncomfortable is when you asked her not to tell anyone. That would have made it seem secret and taboo. But also, I would just not want to accept such an expensive gift from someone who was not related to me by blood or marriage. It was nice of you to want to do this, but I can see how she would feel uncomfortable.

      1. catsAreCool*

        What the gold digger said. I’d have felt the same way. It sounds like it was well meant though.

    4. Stephanie*

      I’ve been A before. Not with a computer, but with other things (like covering airfare for a trip or whatever). I can’t say exactly where A’s head is, but I can explain my reticence.

      I personally feel guilty that I can’t pay the friend back (even if the friend says repayment isn’t expected or desired). It feels a little awkward since I’ve always been someone who pays people back even tiny amounts. And there’s some personal shame on my end that I can’t afford the thing in question.

      A is probably appreciative of your offer. I wouldn’t press it.

    5. Claire*

      I wouldn’t say you were wrong, but it is a very big gift to offer someone, and if she was really just looking for help finding a computer she could afford, being offered such a gift may well have made her feel uncomfortable. You wanted to do something kind, and you offered, and she gets to accept or decline based on how she feels about it. And actually, I think that part that would make me most uncomfortable about this offer is that you said you would ask her to keep it a secret that you’d bought it for her. That part feels a bit weird to me.

      At this point, all you can really do is let it go.

    6. Ruth (UK)*

      I have been in a situation where people I know have wanted to help me (financially) and I have declined. I am aware they had the best intentions but I would have felt embarrassed and a few other things to accept the gift. Especially if you don’t know A that well personally, she may question if there are further intentions/motives behind your offer, even if there are not, and even if you assure her there are not (she can’t see into your mind, and unless she knows you closely/personally, she can only guess).

      From the point of view of being someone who is able and willing to help, it’s frustrating when people refuse the help, but it can be embarrassing and pride-hurting to receive help that you don’t feel you really need/deserve/etc.

      £500 (ok sorry I can’t find the dollar sign on my keyboard but assume that says dollars) is a lot, and will feel like a lot more to her than it does to you, and even if you tell her otherwise, she will feel in your debt (which is not a nice feeling). Small gestures/gifts are often nice but large things like this are embarrassing to receive.

      So you probably didn’t offend her, just made her a bit uncomfortable and unsure how to respond (because she may be afraid to offend you by declining). I think the best thing to do is to leave it, of if you speak to her again just say you hope your offer didn’t cause any offence and you wish her the best in her studies etc.

      1. Ruth (UK)*

        PS. in addition, because you mentioned assuming about undertones etc due to you being a man, this type of offer is something that I (if I were in A’s place) would find equally awkward if it were to come from a female. The awkwardness comes from it being an extravagant seeming gift from someone you don’t know that well. I would consider a 500 dollar laptop an overly indulgent gift even if it were to come from a family member, let alone a parent of a friend.

    7. Noah*

      It is just a very expensive gift. I know I would feel uncomfortable accepting it from anyone, even my parents or close friends. I know you had very good intentions, but you offered, she declined and that’s it. I wouldn’t dwell on it too much.

      I’m sure she appreciated the offer, but feels awkward accepting it.

    8. Elkay*

      How well do you really know her? You mention that you don’t use Facebook a lot, I wonder if you have a different definition of friend on Facebook than A does. I can’t pretend to know what A’s thinking but I would definitely be uncomfortable with this but I’m not close to any of my friends’ parents.

    9. Forrest Rhodes*

      Sounds like you were genuinely trying to do a nice thing, Anon. Serious question for the group: Would it have made any difference if Anon contacted the young lady’s parents to offer the replacement computer? So it would have come from the parents AND Anon? Or would all that be just making too big a deal of it?

      1. fposte*

        I thought about that–I think it would be a definite must if she’d been a minor, but going through the parents also complicates things if it’s something the parents want to provide and can’t. So I don’t know that that would have helped–I think Anon would have had to know the parents pretty well.

        There are some college situations where Anon might have been able to earmark a donation, but I don’t think bigger schools are likely to take the trouble for that, so that’s kind of an arm-waving guess.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I was thinking that myself. It probably would have been better to approach them and say, “Hey, I saw that A needs this and I’d like to help. Are you okay with that and do you think she would be too?”

        I’ve had people help me before with no expectations of repayment; they basically told me to pay it forward and that would be enough. I’ve tried to do that when I can.

      3. Kristen*

        I was actually thinking it would have been better if he had gone to his wife and daughter (or son, I don’t know if he specified) first. She still may have had difficulty accepting the computer due to the price, but it would have been better if the daughter talked to the friend about the possible gift.

      4. NewBooks*

        I appreciate that it was a kind intention, but I think it would have been more appropriate to go through the parents, particularly if A is a minor. The whole “don’t tell anyone else about this” stipulation would have made me uncomfortable, so I can understand A’s reticence.

      5. Anonsie*

        If I were A, yes. I’d be ok with it if they went through my parents and didn’t tell me anything, I’d be too uncomfortable to take it directly.

    10. fposte*

      It might not have worked, but one thing that seems to ease a path for generosity to the up and coming for me is to say truthfully that people helped me a lot when I started out, and this is my way of repaying those kindnesses; I hope the people I’m passing it to will be able to do such things themselves for someone else in the future.

      That way I think it’s less like it’s between them and me and more part of something that’s bigger and that has an achievable repayment possibility built into it.

    11. C Average*

      I very often have similar impulses, and believe in indulging them.

      I’d have gone the white-lie route in this case: “Funny you should mention that. I recently picked up a pretty nice new PC. It was a screaming deal, and I figured I’d set it up in the guest room (or use it for travel, or whatever you might plausibly use an extra computer for). But all my stuff is on my old one, and thus far I’ve been too lazy to even take the new one out of the box. Which is ridiculous, because it’s nice and should be getting used. Would you like to give it a good home?”

      I have used this approach so much, and have never been turned down for anything I’ve offered. I’ve given people shoes I allegedly got at sample sales, plane tickets that were allegedly bought with frequent-flyer miles, new things with tags still on them that were allegedly gifts I’d received and never used . . . I never feel guilty telling these sorts of stories.

      1. fposte*

        Ooh, I like this a lot.

        In one of the nice moments of my father’s last couple of years, he gave his car to a young guy just going off to college, who, along with his dad, worked at the retirement community where my father lived. The giving worked beautifully in several directions: it allowed my father to deal with the end of his driving years by doing something positive and empowering, and the guy and his dad were able to understand that it was therefore doing my father–and me–a favor by taking it rather than taking advantage of him. (Very low book value as it was old, but it was a low-mileage Toyota in cream puff condition, so it was definitely a great car for a kid going off to college.)

    12. Bystander*

      I wonder if it would have gone over better if you did ask for something in return? Like, “We’ll call it even if you design a logo for my website” or if she doesn’t have tangible skills you need, even set up some sort of payment scheme that lets her eventually pay you back without interest, like “After next summer if you get a summer job, you can start paying me back” or something like that. That presumes that she doesn’t consider the machine too expensive even if she did have the money, but rather that she doesn’t have the money *presently* to afford it.

      It was nice of you to offer, but some people just aren’t comfortable owing someone else large amounts of money, I think.

    13. That Anonymous Feeling*

      Thank you for all of the comments. OP here again.

      Re the “loan” idea: the first thing I thought of was “do I have an extra laptop I could lend her?” but no, I don’t. Telling her I just happened to have a new machine she could borrow would require a certain amount of ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ that isn’t going to work.

      Going through the parents will not work, either. A (who is not a minor) is estranged from her parents, who are unhappy that she chose to go to college and become a doctor when she should be married and having babies.

      I guess I over-thought things in wanting to keep the deal private. I had visions of people asking A how she got the computer, and she says “Mr. Anon gave it to me”, and they’d say “Are you f&&king him?” The idea was to keep it quiet to avoid gossip.

      To the person who asked how well A and I know each other, the answer is: I think rather well. I’ve known her for more than 6 years, she’s been to parties and events at my house on several occasions, we occasionally lend each other books and talk about them.

      Again, thanks for all of the comments. The good news is that I talked to A today and everything is cool. She’s still without a computer, alas, but things are good with her and me.

      1. matcha123*

        If I were her, I’d feel bad and feel like there were strings attached. Perhaps if you said: “I know you’re a hard-working person and it’s awful that your computer was stolen. I have one that could get you through for the time being. Tell me your address and I’ll send it to you.”

        That might make it easier for her to accept.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Ahh… this rounds out the story.

        Let me tell you what happened to me. Friends of mine figured out my computer died, when I stopped answering email. One friend realized they had an extra computer at home. (Yeah, it really is an extra, older computer, I can vouch for that.) My friends came as a couple and gave it to me. Since he gave it to me in front of his wife and said “WE want you to have this” it was abundantly clear this was a gesture of pure friendship.” I hate to say “have a woman escort you” because that is so sexist, but having a third party present does make things more transparent. It was clear to me my friends just wanted to make sure I continue doing the things I am doing.

    14. Christian Troy*

      This is just my opinion…

      I’m in my late 20s and it’s become really common for people to whine and complain on Facebook about all sorts of things. In one situation, one woman I went to high school was constantly complaining about broken computers, no money for school books, needing plane tickets to attend a job interview or something, etc. She did ask for donations a lot and people started responding with giving her more specific action items, like check out x loan that could cover books.

      I don’t think you had weird intentions or anything, at the same time, I would probably in the future not read so much into when people post stuff like that. I think there are emergency situations when yes, help is needed ASAP, but when someone is dealing with long term financial issues like the person you described, they would probably be better served by being connected with someone in financial aid.

    15. Ann Furthermore*

      It was a very kind gesture, no doubt. Perhaps the issue was that when you made the offer, it came across to A as “charity,” which made her feel strange.

      I do totally get it though. You’re in a position where $500 is a chunk of change, but something you can spend comfortably. My husband and I are your age, and in the same situation. A couple years ago, we rented a beach house in North Carolina on the Outer Banks for a week. We have some friends with 2 younger kids who are good friends with my other daughter, who is (now) almost 6. We talked about all going in on the beach house together. They decided to pass, because they’d racked up some pretty big medical bills over the past year. I wanted to tell them to not worry about paying for the beach house — since we were going to go regardless, it’s not like we’d be spending any extra money — and just pay the airfare and pitch in for food. I ran it past my husband, and he told me to absolutely NOT say anything to them, because it had a good chance of sounding like we were taking pity on them, or coming across as the “rich” friends offering to foot the bill for their “poor” friends, which would probably result in messing up a great friendship with our favorite couple.

      I understood what he was saying, and I agreed with him, but I wish I could have made the offer without having to worry about things getting weird between us. Like you said, we’re fortunate enough to be in a position to pay for something like that, so why shouldn’t we be able to share that with our friends? But it just doesn’t work that way.

      1. Jean*

        I agree that it’s frustrating and baffling when a generous, no-strings-attached offer causes anything other than happiness for the intended recipient, but people can be sensitive in unexpected ways. Personal dignity is a funny thing.

        Sometimes it’s possible to share without making the recipients feel uncomfortable. I think this works best when all parties involved are able to contribute something tangible to the total results and nobody feels as if his or her contribution is inadequate. IMHO this also works best when the final result this isn’t about only money, or any other single unit of measurement (prestige, connections, technical skills, educational achievement…).

        “Textblock of doom” Example (credit Ruth(UK) for inventing this term!): Person A has the interest and networking skills to pull together a dozen neighbors who want a traffic light installed at a dangerous intersection. Because Person A can’t host the necessary planning meetings (home too small, living with a relative in poor health, whatever), Person B offers his/her living room. Person C turns out to be a retired traffic engineer; Person D offers to take notes and email to everybody the group-brainstormed talking points to use when contacting their city council representative; and everybody appreciates the homemade brownies contributed by Person E.

        Does making a pan of brownies equal earning enough to afford a home that can accommodate ten or twelve guests plus the kids at play in the basement? Not in terms of cold hard cash, but maybe for the past two months Person B (the host) hasn’t fed her family anything except frozen pizza and string beans because of a gravely-ill-grandparent-out-of-town crisis. Or whatever. Y’all get the idea.

    16. weird name gal*

      $500 is not much money to you right now, but for A (and I have been there!) it is $10 million, so it is just awkward. Maybe if you gave the gift to her parents, and the whole family knows about it, might be less awkward. Its hard being a young girl, even 19 or 20! You are never really sure what people are thinking!

  16. sprinkles!*

    I have been wanting to adopt a dog for quite a while. I’m running into some problems however with certain rescue organizations I’ve worked with. For starters, I live in an apartment and that seems to be looked down upon because I do not have a fenced in yard. Secondly I work full time and some rescues have said that’s not ideal either. Also I do not currently have any pets so I cannot get a veterinarian recommendation. Does anyone have any advice or feedback on ways to adopt? I’m running into all kinds of hurdles.

    also if anyone has any good breed recommendations I would greatly appreciate it. Ideally I would like to get a dog that is small between 10 to 15 pounds and one that doesn’t shed very much.

    1. Noah*

      No advice. I gave up on adopting from a rescue group. I was in a similar situation as you, no pets of my own, live in an apartment, work full time (although flexible hours), youngish, and single. All those things together meant that no rescue group would even talk to me.

      The local city animal shelter was willing to let me adopt, but despite several visits I never found an animal I felt was the right fit for me. In fact they really didn’t have any questions besides making sure I knew my landlords pet policies and making sure the animal would be or already was spayed/neutered. In the end I ended up obtaining a beagle from a local family breeder. It has worked out really well because he can go and stay with the family when I need to travel. They love seeing him and he loves to see his “friends”. Even better, they don’t charge me anything, I just bring his food along.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        It really sucks that rescue groups are pushing people away from adopting from rescues/shelters and toward adopting from breeders (who, well-intentioned as they may be, are adding to an already serious dog/cat overpopulation problem that has millions of dogs and cats euthanized every year for lack of homes). Obviously having no yard or leaving a dog along for 10 hours at a time can be problematic, but there are also ways around those issues (as I’m sure you’ve been able to find), and it seems like it might be a better move for them to help people figure those things out. I mean, unless they have no shortage of other homes to adopt animals into, but that rarely seems to be the case.

        1. BRR*

          When I was adopting a few places near me wouldn’t adopt to renters. I understand the reason why but I don’t agree with it.

          1. Bea W*

            There are places around here that will not adopt to renters or will adopt to renters BUT they will contact the landlord to confirm that pets are allowed. The reason for that is because so many of the abandoned animals are coming from people who claim the landlord will not allow them to have a pet or from people who are moving and the new landlord does not allow pets. It’s a HUGE problem! Every time I walk into the local shelter I totally understand why some groups have these policies. I’m willing to bet it is close to or the #1 reason animals end up local shelters in this area. (If I were ambitious I could mine our data, but we only have 2 or 3 years of animals in the database out of 15 years total.)

            The org I am with does not do any kind of landlord verification. We are counting on people being honest with us though. Luckily they usually seem to be.

            1. Bea W*

              I also want to add some of our volunteers are people who can’t adopt themselves due to landlords or parents not allowing it or being in school and uncertain of their long term living situation. We will happily allow people who aren’t not in a position to adopt get their pet fix that way. :) It’s a win-win.

        2. Sabrina*

          Right. A friend’s sister was trying to adopt, went to a couple of shelters and was turned away for various reasons. She ended up buying a puppy. Rescues are trying to stop that and I bet they are frequently the cause.

          1. Bea W*

            Educating potential adopters is so important. There are people you will have to turn down, but you want to them to understand the reasoning behind it so that they don’t go out and buy from a pet store and end up returning that pet to a shelter and adding the the problem. You can’t just say “no” and be done with it or else you are contributing to the problems you are trying to prevent in the first place.

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

          The last time we had this conversation, I went on a mini-rant about the unwelcoming policies and procedures of many rescue groups in our area. While it really is a problem, I’ll take a different tact this time.

          Many of the dogs they get have special issues. My then 8 year old Bichon rescue (Casey! Love of my life!) did not come through a rescue group but a private network. If he had gone through a group though, placing him properly would have meant turning away a lot of people.

          1) money. He’s cost us a boat load in vet bills. He needed a family that not only had the money to spare but understood the financial responsibility AND was willing to spend it.

          2) companionship. He is highly people/companionship needy and also was abandoned in a house for 30 days when his elderly owner was taken to a nursing home. He needed a home where someone was home virtually 24/7

          3) patience. He was never house trained properly and at that age, he needed an experienced dog family who was going to have the patience and love to see him through.

          His first 6 months with us tried the patience and the pocket book of an experienced and deeply dog loving family. If he had been with a rescue group, it would have been sane for them to be picky about where he was placed since the alternative could have been someone getting frustrated and either putting him down or returning him.

          So! I have now argued in favor of rescue groups restrictive policies!

          (who i still think are over restrictive and I’ve only known one person ever who has actually adopted from one rather than many others getting frustrated and obtaining a dog another way)

          1. Anonsie*

            I think a dog-by-dog policy makes perfect sense, though. You know a dog’s needs and issues and you make sure the person who adopts them can meet that. What’s crummy are the ones that just blanket “all dogs need a yard, need someone home every 4 hours, must own the house, etc” when plenty of dogs are entirely happy to be in an apartment or alone for longer stretches or whathaveyou.

        4. Amtelope*

          I tried to adopt a cat from a rescue, and it was a terrible experience; incredibly restrictive rules, multiple home visits required, essay-length writing required on things like “what do you picture as a typical day for your pet?” (They are a cat. They will eat, sleep, get petted, and do cat things. Cats do not have exciting lives.) Plus a required agreement that if you ever have to rehome the pet, you’ll return it to them (no, sorry, if I ever can’t keep my pets, they are going to people I know and trust.) I ended up adopting one cat from a local vet’s office and getting one from a friend who’d found a box of kittens abandoned on the side of the road; I am a big supporter of adopting rather than buying pets, but I’m never trying our local rescue again.

          1. littlemoose*

            My parents adopted their two cats from a rescue group around the same time that they bought a new car. My dad said, probably half-serious, that they filled out more paperwork for the cats than the car.

          2. Bea W*

            Plus a required agreement that if you ever have to rehome the pet, you’ll return it to them (no, sorry, if I ever can’t keep my pets, they are going to people I know and trust.)

            Not everyone is like that though, and that is the reason for that policy . My org has this. I absolutely agree with it – we’ve still had a couple people attempt to rehome or even DUMP their adopted animals at a kill shelter or worse (let them go, hand them off to some stranger, etc). Also, your argument begs the question, why would you adopt from an organization you did not know and trust?

            Frankly it pisses us (volunteers/rescuers) off when people do this (adopt then dump without trying to contact us first) when we have offered them an easy solution! We will take your unwanted animal back and find him/her a new home for you! WTF??!!! *facepalm*

            1. Amtelope*

              I understand why groups have that policy. That said, there’s no way I’d ever turn a pet over to strangers — that simply doesn’t feel like a responsible way for me to treat an animal I’d taken permanent responsibility for, so I can’t adopt from a group that requires that. If I were physically unable to care for my pets, I would rehome them with family or close friends who I knew would care for them for life, not give them back to strangers to give to other strangers.

              And, “why would I adopt from an organization I did not know and trust” — why would I expect to know and trust a rescue organization? I would go to whatever rescue existed in my area and had animals listed as adoptable on Petfinder. I’m not trying to exhaustively research rescue organizations and spend time with them so that I can come to know and trust their staff — I’m trying to adopt a cat. And if I can’t do that reasonably promptly, and be done interacting with the rescue when I take the cat home, I’m going to go to a shelter or answer a “free kittens!!” ad on Craigslist instead.

              1. Amtelope*

                Reading over your response again — I’m really struck by the “why would you adopt from a rescue you didn’t know and trust.” I think maybe you are looking at this from the perspective of someone who is really involved in animal rescue and animal welfare, and who would want to personally know the rescue from which they were adopting. But I think it’s important for rescuers to understand that most people trying to adopt pets aren’t personally involved in their cause. I think animal rescue is great, but I don’t want a relationship with a rescue group just because I want a cat.

            2. Anonsie*

              On the flip side, if I had to suddenly rehome one of my pets due to some unforseen shenanigans, you better believe I’d give it to a friend of family member so I could 1) continue to see them and 2) maybe get them back at some point. Giving them back to the rescue years later like, welp, I guess I don’t care if I ever see you again? Seems weird. I get giving the option, but making it mandatory is confusing to me.

          3. catsAreCool*

            The rescue group I got my kitty from did ask some questions and did have me fill out a form, but their main 2 concerns were: the kitty should be an indoor kitty, and the kitty should not be declawed. I was planning on having an indoor only kitty who kept her claws, so it wasn’t a problem.

    2. kimberly*

      That is tough.

      I have a good friend who is a very active volunteer with me in a spay/neuter organization who has been turned down by rescue organizations because she doesn’t have a fenced in yard (plus she also works FT, though she can go home at lunch).

      My best advice is to look for less-picky organizations. I know that sounds kind of flip, but I mean it sincerely. My friend is a wonderful pet owner, and she finally found an organization that let her “foster” a dog (who has been with her for >2 years).

      My second piece of advice is to look at shelters and humane societies — often they don’t have same requirements. I know our shelter certainly doesn’t. It is harder to find small dogs at places like that (which is probably a large part of the reason why all of my dogs are >50#), but they do exist.

      Also, the petfinder website. They tell you their requirements upfront, which can help eliminate wasted time (if you know you don’t qualify).

      As a “petfinder organization volunteer,” I’ve done home-checks on people who didn’t necessarily meet all of the requirements, but if they gave an overall good impression, I would pass them.

      Good luck ! :)

      1. Transformingvegan*

        I agree with going to a “less picky” organization. I adopted my dog from my county’s Humane Society (not affiliated with the national program). Their major concerns were if my boyfriend and I understood the responsibility of owning a dog and would not give him up if things got difficult. They asked if we rented, and we do, but only to make sure our landlord is ok with pets. We gave our cats’ vet’s information and she said they never called to her.

        Please don’t be discouraged from adopting if you are struggling with finding the dog you like. It can take time to find the one you love. Also, if it comes to the point where you need to buy please please go to a reputable breeder. There are incredibly lax requirements for someone to become a breeder in the US. Ask as many questions as you can, the good breeders will be happy to answer any you have and will probably be pleased that you did.

        1. catsAreCool*

          I am not an expert on this, but I’ve heard that reputable breeders want the dog back if you decide you can’t keep it, and they have tests done on the dogs to make sure they have no problems or at least to make sure they don’t have issues that are likely to occur in that breed.

          Some reputable breeders will give away or sell inexpensively “pet quality” dogs, purebreds that shouldn’t be bred.

    3. justine*

      I have a dachshund – I love him!
      He’s a “tweenie” (in between a mini and a standard).
      15 lbs.
      We got him as a puppy and took him to puppy class and he’s a great guy. He’s 7 now and sleeps most of the day but also is ready to go when he gets to the dog park. He needs daily walks – 2 20-minute walks at least – and toys to chew on, and his annual vet visit was $339 today (and his dental cleaning next week will be at least $600) – just giving you an idea of actual dog care costs and that doesn’t include his monthly heartworm treatement (about $90 a year) and monthly flea and tick preventative (about $140 a year) and food, treats, joint supplement, clothes…

      If you still want a dog, ask the rescue if you could volunteer and even foster a pet (even if it’s a cat) to show them how well (hopefully) you’ll take care of your new dog. This will give you an relationship with the rescue group and you’ll get to know some of the dogs, too.

      Also, as the doorbell just rang, I’m reminded dachshunds bark. A lot!

    4. Aknownymous*

      I don’t know where you are, but there are many legitimate rescues who will let you adopt animals without crazily extensive evaluations. Sure, they will ask you about certain things to try make sure the animal will be properly cared for, but I have always stayed cleared of those who use unrealistic or invasive check lists (one rescue wanted to do home visits for a few months, which is way too big brother for my taste). There are also many that have relationships with local veterinarians, who do the initial health checks, shots, neutering etc. Some big pet supply stores, like Petco for example, have rescues come in on weekends for adoption drives, you could check those out if you haven’t yet. A reasonable rescue knows that not everyone has a house, and that most people work, and will let you adopt anyway. A good home is still a good home.

      Unfortunately I can’t give you any breed recommendations, since I like my dogs in the 70-80 pound range :)

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m really sorry to hear that. Our rescue is based in Brooklyn, so while the vetting process is thorough, they completely understand full-time employment and apartments, even tiny ones! I once did a home visit and my only “warning” was that the couple shouldn’t get a puppy because they live in a 6th-floor walkup. We also recommend walkers and daycare because, duh, most people work full-time and can’t take a doggy with them to their offices. If you’re anywhere near NYC, I can direct you to a great organization. They’ve adopted to homes as far south as Philadelphia and as far north as western Mass.

      Shelters and humane societies are great, but do make sure you spend some time with the dog. One of the reasons we went with our rescue is that they’re an all-foster group, so we had a good idea of our dog’s needs and temperament.

      Just don’t give up! There are so many doggies who need good homes.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Try the classifieds.
      You can call vets offices and see if anyone has abandoned a dog there, lately.
      Make sure your friends/family/coworkers/neighbors all know that you are looking for a small dog.
      Check at Pet supply stores- usually they have a “rescue” day. They may have ads posted on a bulletin board also.

      We have some rescues here that are strict and some that will work with you. This could be true by you, also.

      No, it’s not ideal if you work full time. But if they only let dogs go to homes with someone there most of the time they will not adopt out many dogs. You can get a pet sitter or have a good friend that checks on the dog.

      1. cuppa*

        Our local pet stores have spots that local shelters use to adopt out animals, so you may not even have to wait for an adoption event.

      2. Tris Prior*

        The part that I never understood is, they don’t want you to work full-time, but then you’ve got to prove that you’ve got enough income to cover the cost of owning a pet! I ran into this with a cat rescue organization. I guess they only wanted to adopt out to people who were independently wealthy or only work from home? They also didn’t like our references; if I had known that our references would need to know specific details regarding brand and amount of food fed daily, date of the last vet visit and what the findings were, etc., we would’ve prepped them. Silly us; we thought the references would be of the “they’re responsible people and take their existing cat to the vet at appropriate times” nature.

        I ended up finding another shelter where none of this was an issue.

        1. LisaS*

          I adopted my older two cats from a rescue that had a 5-pg questionnaires. I dutifully answered all the questions until I got to one that asked, “Where will the cat sleep?” At that point I put down the open, called the young lady over and politely said, “Have you ever owned a cat? The cat will sleep where the cat wants to sleep…”

          I guess I seemed like I knew what I was doing, because the cats are 10 now (and yes, sleeping happily wherever they damn well please!)

          1. Anna the Accounting Student*

            > “Have you ever owned a cat? The cat will sleep where the cat wants to sleep…”


          2. Anonsie*

            I wonder if their motivation there was to see if you were going to shut the cat in somewhere at night (like a closet or bathroom) or leave it outside or something like that?

        2. littlemoose*

          That’s extra-ridiculous for cats. Dogs, I understand the concern about potential owners working all the time, but most of the cats I’ve had don’t give a hoot. They’re happy when I’m home, but they’re fine chilling on their own while I’m at work.

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

            I think my cats would actually prefer if I spent less time at home. If I come home in the middle of the day they look at me like I’m invading their personal space, and I should just go away and let them have cat time already.

            1. GA! (Lisa)*

              My cats always seem like I’m interrupting them at something Very Fun. (I imagine them frantically shooing neighbor cats out the backdoor, and tidying up the poker chips when they hear the garage door open.)

    7. cuppa*

      Keep on trying! I’ve seen the gamut of rescue organization requirements, but there should be one out there that will work out. The smaller ones seem to be easier to work with because so much of it is volunteer run. The first place we adopted from had no home visit and we both work full-time. The second place we adopted from did a “home visit”, which was basically that they walked in the front door, let our cat out of the carrier, and sat with us in the living room to sign paperwork. I think they just wanted to make sure that there were no big red flags. Good luck!

    8. Blue_eyes*

      I always find the no apartments thing baffling because I live in NYC so there are thousands and thousands of dogs here that live in apartments who seem to be doing just fine thank you. I wonder if you could find a dog walker or doggie day care to show the rescue a service you will be using to care for the dog while you are at work.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        The irony (well, maybe it’s not so ironic) is that those backyards people think are soooo great often keep people from giving their dogs the best care they can. My dog gets about 3 walks a day (more if he’s whiny)– in NYC he got about 4 (we started taking hour-long morning walks when we moved). Many other dog owners here think it’s strange that I actually take the dog for walks instead of letting him do his business in the backyard. Does he spend time in our backyard? Sure, but he’s not getting any exercise out there, save for the times he decides it would be fun to run around in a giant circle like a crazy pooch until he’s exhausted. A co-worker of mine said it was her New Year’s resolution to walk her dog, and I admit I looked askance at her. Anyway, my point is that apartment-dwelling dog owners are often hyper-conscious of getting their dogs out of the apartment for walks several times a day, and the dogs do really well.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Exactly! As long as you are otherwise taking care of the dog, having to take them out of an apartment for walks is not an issue, and may even make you more conscious of exercising your dog. My husband actually runs dogs as a part time job (like dog walking, but they go running for 30-45mins) – those dogs are getting plenty of exercise.

        2. BRR*

          Such a good point. My husband pointed out at least they go outside and I compared it to being in prison. Although my apt neighbors who only take their dogs 50 ft then back inside aren’t exactly saints.

        3. Melissa*

          YES. I actually read about this a lot before adopting a dog. Dogs aren’t getting the directed exercise they need in the backyard, and they aren’t getting the socialization and leadership from their humans by trotting around sniffing stuff in the yard. Our daily walks teach my dog that she needs to follow me and attend to my directions, in addition to giving her exercise – and I talk to her during our walks too. I’m really hyper conscious about walking her and making sure she’ll burn off that energy – one, because I love her, and two, because she’d probably destroy my apartment if I didn’t.

      2. Melissa*

        The irony I experienced is that when I lived in NYC, finding a rescue group who didn’t disdain apartment-dwellers with no backyards who worked full-time was super difficult, even though finding someone with a yard who didn’t already have a dog/wanted another one was nigh impossible and I noticed they kept dogs for long times. Then I moved out to central PA – where almost everyone has a yard and some people have farm and lots of space – and most of the rescues here don’t care if you live in an apartment!

    9. Revanche*

      When we adopted, we also worked FT and live in an apartment without a yard. We looked for rescues that did fosters so they’d know their dogs more than a shelter would and described what we were looking for (older, indoor dog, mellow, etc) and while the organization initially seemed like they’d have all kinds of checks before they’d allow us to adopt, the foster mom got to make the call after an interview with us. We met her and the potential dog, it was love at first sight, we explained what we were prepared to do to settle the dog in and she was fine with our arrangements. It really had a lot to do with being a good fit for the dog – he was low maintenance, was accustomed to being indoors for long periods of time and liked being alone during that time.
      They skipped the home inspection as they felt they had a clear picture of our plans and it worked out really well overall. I know some organizations really are as stringent as they say, and this one seemed like they would be, but the most strenuous hoop we had to jump through was driving out to the foster mom’s home (2 hours away). If it helps, I corresponded with the org/foster mom by email well before we committed to real efforts, and that might have helped.

    10. reader*

      Wish I had some advice. My daughter got a rescue dog last year. She had absolutely no luck with any local groups. They would never respond to her inquires. She finally got one from Mississippi. She lives in Pennsylvania.

    11. sprinkles!*

      A few details I left out of my original post:

      I do work full time but work from home three days a week. I’ve made this clear to the rescue organizations.

      The last dog I tried to adopt for a a five year old that was housebroken and described as low maintenance and not destructive. Part of me wonders if the foster parents just didn’t want to give it up.

      1. LAI*

        Oh! If you work from home 3 days per week, that makes the situation much better. I posted my story below but I’ll just add here that there really is a lot of competition for some dogs. I fostered a poodle-ish dog last year and there were dozens of applications to adopt him. He had some behavioral quirks and had already been returned by one adoptive family so they were trying to be extra careful to find the right home. We turned down several families. But there are plenty of dogs out there who aren’t so lucky to have lots of people clamoring for them.

      2. Melissa*

        The rescues nearby you are extra super nuts if you work from home 3 days a week and that’s still not enough.

    12. Editor*

      I’ve known a couple of people who’ve had miniature schnauzers that were smart, well-behaved (but owners were good at training), and not particularly prone to shedding. I think schnauzers are less likely to trigger allergies, but they do need to be clipped and groomed. I think they’re fairly energetic, but most dogs seem to need a lot more exercise than cats.

    13. littlemoose*

      Maybe do a little word of mouth with your friends? All of the pets we have right now (two cats and a dog) were found or from a friend. My cat was ditched at our friend’s rental property (in February, as a kitten!), and my friend called me up and asked if I wanted her. Our dog came to us after our friends got him from an acquaintance whose dog had puppies, but our friends’ dog didn’t like the pup and they gave him to us. And my boyfriend found our second cat, a kitten, by the side of the highway. So maybe just keep your ears open or let a couple friends know that you might be interested? I realize that makes pretty much impossible to get a specific breed, but just a though.

    14. LAI*

      I’m so sorry you’ve been having so much trouble with this, and I want to encourage you not to give up! Dogs are the best, and you’re doing the right thing by trying to rescue one who needs a home. There are shelters out there that will work with you. I adopted my dog when living in the same situation as you: small apartment, no yard, full-time job that meant I was out of the house for 9-10 hours per day. This isn’t ideal (and it did lead to some stained carpets for a while before my dog learned the routine). I think the thing to do is to make sure that you convey to the rescue organization that you understand why these things aren’t ideal, and that you’ll do what you can to make the situation better. For example, when my dog needed surgery and was recovering, I came home from work during lunch every day for about a month to check on him – fortunately, my job was accommodating. The next time I moved, I prioritized finding a place with a yard because I thought it would be better for my dog. Now I have dog walker on call who comes and takes him out on days when I need to work late or something. I think the rescuers probably just want to know that you are going to treat the dog as an integral, non-replaceable part of your life and be willing to make sacrifices for him/her when necessary.

      As for the vet recommendation, I’m pretty sure that I just asked the rescue group if they could tell me who they would recommend in my neighborhood. I avoid vets who offer ear cropping or tail docking services, but other than that, it’s not hard to find a good one.

    15. Sweet Potato*

      I ran into the same thing with private rescue groups so I visited the city pound, a high kill shelter, and came home with the most wonderful dog! He’s nine years old now and seriously The. Best. Dog. Ever.

    16. Anonsie*

      I think the rescues that ban apartments and full time workers whole-cloth rather than evaluating it dog by dog are nuts. Is there not a city shelter that’s more lenient in your area? Normally they’re more interested in homing animals than whether or not you can send them to Canine Yale or whatever.

    17. Melissa*

      If you want to go with a rescue, you can – it just might take you a while to find a rescue that doesn’t have ridiculous expectations for dog owners. I head heard all of those things about rescues, too, but I found an excellent one from which I adopted my adorable now-14-month-old Lab/Boxer mix doggie (who is now snoring at my feet) :) I live alone and work full time and live in an apartment and I had never owned any kind of pet before; all of those things were fine with the rescue, especially once I explained my plan for making sure she gets plenty of exercise (we go to the dog park once a week – more in the summer – and she has a doggie play group that gets together every week AND I take her on two 45-minute walks a day, plus 20 minutes of training/play at home together). They contacted some friend references I provided to get their take on how I would be with a dog, but they were pretty awesome about everything (and understood that I had no vet rec because…no dog!)

      So…there are some rescues out there that have more realistic or flexible requirements for pet owners; they just might be difficult to find, depending on where you live. Are you using Petfinder.com? City shelters are usually more amenable to regular people trying to adopt, but the smaller breeds/more popular breeds get adopted out very quickly. I would also see about some rescues that have kennels or physical space as opposed to rescues with foster homes. Not that that’s a foolproof measure (my awesome rescue is all-foster, and the picky rescue nearby us has physical space) but sometimes they need to free spaces quickly for new intake and so they are less picky about their forever homes.

  17. Carrie in Scotland*

    So: I LOVE, love, ‘the history of love’ by Nicole Kruass to the point where I online journal under the name.
    I now strongly urge anyone and everyone to read Incredibly loud and Extrwmely Close by Jonathon Safran Foer as it’s quite similar and just as beautiful (and they were married to each other!)

    1. Sunflower*

      I read The History of Love right when it came out when i was in high school and i dd not understand it at all or like it. I’m now going to re-read it in hopes that 10 years has given me some more wisdom.

      1. justine*

        I hope you like it when you re-read it – I LOVE THIS BOOK! And I’m so excited so many people are reading it!!!

        Carrie, Incredibly Loud and Extremely Close is next on my list. We also have the movie, which I haven’t seen. Should I see it? And if so, read the book first?

    2. Editor*

      How does the book compare to Diane Ackerman’s The Natural History of Love? I really like Ackerman’s writing, but I enjoy reading natural history.

  18. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Eye dilation–tell me about it. I have an eye appointment with a new doctor on Monday, and when I made my appointment they said there was a chance I’d need to have my eyes dilated. I’ve had plenty of eye exams but never had my eyes dilated, and I’m nervous about driving home afterwards. Will I be OK with sunglasses, or should I make arrangements to have a friend drive me home (about 20 minutes)? How long does it take to go back to normal afterwards?

    1. the gold digger*

      My eye doc has cheap throwaway sunglasses, but I need RX, so I just wear my prescription sunglasses to drive. I have never needed a ride home.

      It takes several hours to return to normal, which is maddening to me. I can see things far away, but I cannot read! For hours! No books! No computer! I actually have to talk to people if I want to interact.

    2. Stephanie*

      It was *really* out of it for about 20-30 minutes. I went to the optometrist at Costco, so I just wandered around Costco to adjust that. I was able to drive home without issue, but I remember needing the special protective lenses in addition to my Rx sunglasses. because the sun bothered my eyes a lot (I live in a super sunny climate). I think it did take a couple of hours such that I was ok to use a computer or read a lot.

      Some of it, too, will depend on how big your pupils are. My pupils aren’t huge and my eyes are on the squintier side, so dilating them had a *really* noticeable effect.

      1. Windchime*

        Also, I recently was told that people with light-colored eyes are more sensitive to the dilation medication. That makes sense to me, because my eyes are usually still slightly dilated the following morning (I have fairly light blue eyes). I definitely would take sunglasses to drive home with, but drive home during the daylight. I’ve done it in the dark after a late afternoon appointment and it’s almost impossible to deal with oncoming car headlights when my eyes are dilated.

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      The first time I had it done, I was 10 and it lasted for 2 days. When I had it done this summer (I get my eyes checked every year), it was gone in about 5-6 hours.

      Yes, bring sunglasses. The thing with it is that it makes my vision blurry at the edges which hurts in a way beyond the sunlight. I drive, but I do it slowly and carefully, not on the highway. If the day I have the exam is overcast, I’m so happy about that. If you’re uncertain how you will react or are generally a nervous driver and you can get someone to take you, then there’s no harm, better safe than sorry. I can’t work at my computer so I usually just go home and have a nap.

    4. Nicole*

      Sunglasses are a must because light will definitely hurt your eyes. Driving will be ok, however, as the dialation only affects your close-up vision.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Blue eyes or brown eyes?

      I have brown eyes but they are light sensitive, I have to bring someone.
      They tell me blue eyes are more sensitive than brown.

      Since you have not done this before, it might be a good idea to bring someone with you.

      1. Cheryl*

        I am blue eyed and even with shades, the light was too much. It’s one of those days I should have had a designated driver as I was squinting to see which really wasn’t helpful.

    6. YWD*

      I had my eyes dilated in December. It lasted for about 4 hours and then I was back to normal.

      I wished I had brought someone with me. It was about 8pm when I finished and raining. The headlights of oncoming cars and the streetlights all looked like fireworks to me (lights shooting out from the center). Fortunately I live really close to my eye doctor and made it home ok. Next time though I am planning to have someone drive me home.

    7. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Thanks so much, everyone. I have hazel eyes and I’ll be going home around 4:30 pm and the forecast is overcast, for environmental factors. One of my coworkers lives about two blocks from my eye doctor and has already offered to drive me home if I’m having a hard time seeing, so I’ve got some backup plans. I think my biggest problem will be boredom, so I’ll line up an audiobook to entertain me for the evening and I should be good to go!

      1. Kas*

        Sounds like you have everything well in hand! Another thing you (or others in this situation) might find helpful is a hat that shades your eyes, just for that little bit extra reduction of glare. I hope it goes well!

    8. Otter box*

      I’ve had my eyes dilated once and it was horrible. I literally couldn’t go outside, even with sunglasses, and it was a pretty dark, cloudy, Pacific Northwest November day. I had to call around to find a friend to pick me up, and I ended up waiting in a dark corner of the strip mall for about two hours before someone came. Then when I got home, I had to wear my sunglasses inside for the next day. Never again. Thankfully my current eye doctor doesn’t insist on dilating my eyes because I’d probably walk right out if they tried.

      I have blue eyes.

    9. Jessica (the celt)*

      This can depend on the person, so be aware of that. Light-colored eyes react to the dilation more than dark-colored eyes, although some doctors have different fluid that you can ask for if you have light eyes. My husband and I both have blue eyes, but my eyes take at least 8+ (eight) hours to get back to normal each time, and sometimes longer. He is okay to drive right after a dilation, sometimes with sunglasses and sometimes without. I can barely even even see well with sunglasses on no matter what, even several hours later.

      I’d say that you should take someone to drive you the first time, just to be on the safe side, because I never would have predicted how it affected me. We get our eyes dilated with each eye appointment, so I have it done every year or two, and the reaction hasn’t changed. :(

    10. Graciosa*

      It does take a very long time to wear off, and even after dark it can seem OMG bright outside.

      One weird thing for me – the last time I had this done, I felt compelled to explain to the order taker at a restaurant I visit regularly that I had just had an eye exam and my eyes were dilated. She kept looking at me oddly – well, trying politely not to look at me oddly, which was kind of worse – and I did not want her to think I was high.

      I’m not even sure what drugs a person would take that would make your eyes dilate, but I’m sure there are some and I’d rather run around gratuitously explaining myself to servers than be mistaken for a user. When I explained, it was very clear from her reaction that she had definitely noticed.

    11. skyline*

      My prescription is strong enough that my optometrists make me dilate my eyes at every visit. My reaction has varied a lot. Sometimes it’s taken 5-6 hours to wear off, with blurriness on top of the light sensitivity. More recently, it’s worn off in less than an hour, with no extra blurriness. (Thank goodness.) I have dark eyes. I think the reaction may depend on how many of the drops are used for the dilation.

      Bring a pair of sunglasses, and you might want to make backup plans for getting home if necessary. Or just be okay with waiting around at the office for a while until you feel comfortable driving. (Bringing something to listen to, like an audiobook or music player, can help pass the time.) When I have eye appointments in the morning, I now warn my workplace that my arrival may be extra delayed or impacted by how my eyes react to the dilation.

    12. nep*

      I’m able to drive home after this procedure, but it’s a short, simple drive on 25mph roads; I don’t think I’d do it if it were more complicated or involved getting on an expressway. You probably could drive home, but perhaps for this time it would be good to get a friend or relative to do it just for peace of mind. And you’ll be able to gauge how you feel and whether you’d feel OK driving for future eye-checks.
      My eyes were back to normal after around eight hours.

    13. Seal*

      My prescription is very strong, so I’ve always had my eyes dilated when I go to the eye doctor. In fact, I didn’t realize that wasn’t always done until I read this thread today!

      I always schedule my eye doctor appointments for the afternoon so I can go straight home afterwards. My luck is such that the majority of my visits happen on bright, cloudless days, so I always make sure I have sunglasses. I’ve never not been able to drive myself home, it is generally an uncomfortable, squinty drive. Once I get home I pull the blinds and take a long nap; by the time I wake up the worst of the effects are gone, although they don’t wear off completely until the next morning.

      About 10 years ago I had a case of iritis, which is an inflammation of the iris. It is often mistaken for pink eye, but much, much worse as it can permanently damage your vision. By the time I was diagnosed my eye was bright red and swollen; my vision in that eye was cloudy and I was agony. Iritis is essentially a muscle spasm of the iris, so the treatment is steroids and dilating drops to get the iris to relax. For the first few days I had to put the steroid drops in once an hour while I was awake, then it went to every 2 hours for a few days and continued tapering off. The kicker was that I had to keep my eye dilated for over a month until the inflammation was completely gone. I lived like a vampire for most of the time – sitting in the dark and rarely venturing out during the day, certainly not without sunglasses. I had to go to the eye doctor once a week for 2 months so they could monitor my progress and check the pressure in my eye; apparently one of the side effects of all those steroid drops is glaucoma. Fortunately my eye is completely fine now and I’ve never had a recurrence (most cases are idiopathic, but if you get it more than once it’s indicative of an autoimmune disease). One unexpected bonus – due to all the practice I had during my bout with this thing, I am now a rock star when it comes to eye drops and eye exams.

  19. Ali*

    For anyone here who is not in a relationship for Valentine’s Day…how do you make the day suck a little less?

    I have tried before to not let V-Day get to me, but inevitably every year, I end up feeling a little sad that I’m not getting any flowers or gifts from a partner (or even parents, like some single friends get), or being taken to a special dinner. I have plans this year that don’t involve going to an overcrowded restaurant (and I’m kinda relieved, because I don’t like to wait anymore than 30 minutes for a table whenever I go out to eat), but I just don’t want to be preoccupied with my thoughts of singledom and feel bad for myself too much. I also have this unfortunate luck in that the last two guys I’ve liked…I’ve found out later they were taken. The guys did not mislead me; I just became attracted to them, wanted to see about dating, then their Facebooks were pictures with a girlfriend and/or a proclamation of relationship status. And so it goes.

    So what are some good survival tips? I thought about asking my single best friend to go out, but even though it would be around 9:30-10 by the time we got to eat, I still worry all the restaurants would still be packed. I could also maybe go through with my non-dining out plans and then go home to watch something funny on Netflix.

    I just want to stop dreading this day, because even one of my couple friends tell me V-Day doesn’t mean a lot to them, but it’s hard not to say “Well at least you have a partner…”

    1. cuppa*

      It sounds to me (and I might be way off base), that you’re missing that love and attention that comes on VDay. Is there anyone that can provide that to you? Maybe you and your single best friend could send flowers, or buy each other chocolates. Is there anything that you can plan that day that would make you really feel like you are treating yourself ( a massage, a movie, a nice bottle of wine, whatever). If you had something to look forward to, perhaps it would help you get your mind off of the day and make it sting a little less. Good luck!

      1. Ali*

        Yeah that’s basically it. I know that even though V-Day is still a made-up holiday, I miss the attention and love that comes from it, of getting a gift or a nice card. I can’t plan anything during the day, though, because I work on weekends (and we’ve been slow lately!). So if there’s not a lot of work to do, I may browse some shopping sites or whatever.

        1. TL -*

          I like V-Day in the silly, childlike way of bringing in sweets and bad punny cards and making it a day about being happy for people in your life – maybe try it like that?

          It’s never bothered me to be single on Valentine’s Day, though.

    2. Ruth (UK)*

      Make a plan that is super unrelated to valentine’s day. If you plan to do something like have a nice meal, it’ll still feel like you’re trying to ‘make up’ for not having the day you want. I am actually going to be camping over the valentine’s day weekend (which is going to be very cold because this is England but it’s with a group of people who… we camp a lot).

      I have never been in a relationship so I have never experienced valentine’s day as a couple (so perhaps I don’t know what I’m missing) but as far as I can tell, going and doing romantic things don’t need to specifically be planned on a certain day. And just cause some people decided an arbitrary date is a good time for romantic-ness doesn’t really mean too much. Just treat it like any other day and ignore what the shops are telling you. And think about all the discounted chocolate that you can by in the days that follow!

      Maybe go out with your single friend in the day and do something different in the evening? Like don’t go to a restaurant, but one of you could cook (or you could cook together) or order pizza and watch a movie? Do something interesting like try a type of food you’ve not had before, or bake? Depends on what you enjoy doing.

    3. Aussie Teacher*

      One year, my husband and I had another couple over for dinner on Valentine’s Day. I made simple red paper hearts for each place setting, and wrote something I liked about each friend on the heart. Apart from that we just enjoyed good food and good company. I’d definitely steer clear of trying to eat out on such a busy and relationship-focussed night, and invite some friends around for dinner/board games/movie night etc. Hope that helps!

      1. Dynamic Beige*


        Seriously, if you don’t want to see couples and be reminded of all the schmoop you’re missing… going out to dinner is the last thing you want to do with anyone. Also, just because you have someone, it doesn’t mean that they are great at celebrating Valentine’s Day. As someone once said to me, if you need a day to show your love, you’ve got a problem and it’s all the other days of the year you’re not showing it.

        If staying at home, making dinner watching a movie playing board games isn’t going to do it for you, then Google anti-valentine’s day events for your area. You might be surprised by what you’ll find and it’s pretty guaranteed that it’ll be filled with single people.

      2. Melissa*

        +1000. I’m actually partnered and I hate doing the expected V-Day things on V-Day, if for no other reason than everything is packed and difficult and overpriced around V-Day.

        I think the best option is to transfer that love and affection to some friends. Get together and have a day-in/night-in party, exchange cards and candy, and just do something cute and fun together.

    4. Windchime*

      I used to have trouble with this when I was first divorced. Now it really is just another day to me (I’m still single after all these years). I just try to remind myself that this is a “holiday” that was invented by the greeting card people to make money.

      Maybe your single best friend could come over and you could make a homemade pizza and watch something on Netflix. If you want chocolate, then buy a big old box of chocolates for you and your friend to nibble on while you’re watching your movie.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      Is there anything that you’ve been really wanting to do? Try a new recipe? See a movie? Go to a museum? Pick something fun that you’ve been wanting to do for a while and go do it (with or without a friend, whichever will be more enjoyable for you). Doing something new and exciting will hopefully take your mind off of what you don’t have.

      1. Ali*

        I think this may have gotten lost in my original comment, but I do have plans on Valentine’s Day that don’t involve going out to eat. (I have hockey tickets, and concession stand food is hardly what I’d call romantic…hehe.) I just worry that even with plans, I’ll still feel a little down that I’m single. It can be hard to not focus on that when you have tons of friends in relationships or who are otherwise getting showered in love, or when your married friend complains to you about how her husband has to work and she won’t get a date night.

        I’ll avoid the restaurants altogether, though. That sounds like a good tip. There’s always the night before. It’s hard not really having free time during the day because of work, because there are totally things I’d want to do!

        1. cuppa*

          Actually, I’m a little jealous. I think hockey tickets would be really fun! I think if you focus on it just being a fun day, and just another date on the calendar, you will be fine!

        2. Blue_eyes*

          You totally mentioned your plans in your original comment and I totally ignored that, sorry. Hockey actually sounds like fun – it doesn’t have to do with couples, you can get food while avoiding restaurants, and you have something to do/watch.

          It can be really hard to watch people around you have something that you really want. For me this year that’s been a job. Friends keep getting new jobs, promotions, buying houses, and it’s so frustrating to be job hunting and underemployed watching all that.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          “I just worry that even with plans, I’ll still feel a little down that I’m single.”

          So you are worried about being single and then you are worried that you will worry about being single.

          We humans sure know how to torture ourselves.

          Stop the cycle. Decide that part of your day will be to allow yourself a good cry. Let it out. Smothering it is like giving it a greenhouse to grow in. Let it out.

          Me- I front stuff. So the days before Dreaded Day are awful. For that situation, I need to cry on those days before The Day, because on Dreaded Day, I am FINE. (It’s my pattern, I don’t like it, but it’s my pattern.)

          Decide that you like you enough to put up with your tears for a bit. Give yourself the gift of freedom.

          1. Anon333*

            This is really great advice. Feel these feelings for a bit and I’ll bet they won’t have quite the hold on you.

    6. Stephanie*

      I’d do something enjoyable on that day. Whatever you do, I’d avoid any “Gal-entine’s Day” or “Singles Awareness” things. Much like low-fat ice cream, I feel like those things just make it more apparent what you’re missing out on.

    7. C Average*

      No suggestions, but I have a story that makes me laugh every time I think about it.

      Back in the day, I went to law school for a year (and then dropped out–that’s another story). I was very, very single, and I spent pretty much every waking moment either at my crappy part-time job at the copy center or in my very lived-in study carrel in the law library.

      On Valentine’s Day (which I had quite nearly forgotten WAS Valentine’s Day), I walked to my study carrel after class and found a somewhat used-looking teddy bear with a stuffed ball and chain around his ankle and an appliqued red heart emblazoned with “PRISONER OF LOVE” on his chest. He still had a Goodwill tag hanging from his ear. There was a Post-It note attached that wished me a happy Valentine’s Day and was signed from my sister, who was my roommate at the time.

      I laughed so hard. It was honestly the most memorable Valentine’s Day I’ve ever had, even still.

      We still have Prisoner of Love, and we send him back and forth each Valentine’s Day, regardless of what’s going on in our love lives. Significant others come and go, but a good sister is forever.

    8. Lore*

      It always really helped me to anthropologize it–think of it as a holiday from another culture that I did not celebrate. I was raised Jewish so I had the model of Christmas–an event that was a big deal to lots of people but not to me. Even though I sometimes might have wished to engage in some of the rituals (for both), it was just not my particular celebration.

    9. Sunflower*

      I would look around your area to see what’s going on that night. You’d be surprised at the amount of activities that cater specifically to those that are single on V-day.

      I’m going to a fun bar I like that is having a ‘singles’ party. There’s gotta be something similar going on around you.

    10. Revanche*

      For years, whether single or not, because I didn’t care about Valentine’s Day, I made it about my single friends who’d enjoy a card or getting together. It was more fun focusing on good friends than going out to overpriced restaurants for inadequate service or food, and weird forced romantic vibes. Later, I used it as an excuse to think of people who aren’t often thought of: older and elderly friends. They deserve love too! My suggestion would be maybe have a look around and see who you could share some love with. Sort of the way friends host an “orphan’s Thanksgiving”- take charge of a Singlet’s Valentine’s?

      1. Treena Kravm*

        This is what I do. I’ve hosted “people I love” parties, send cards to the friends I love, etc. I’ve been partnered for the past 4 Valentine’s and this one coming up is the first time I’ve even bothered to go out to dinner, and that’s only because we’ll be traveling on the day.

    11. matcha123*

      It wasn’t until my mid-20s that I got my first “real” boyfriend and he’s from a country where girls give BOYS things on V-day. But, even when I was in the States, I guess I never felt the need to have a partner on Valentine’s Day.

      What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? I think that’s the main thing to look at. There’s nothing wrong with being single on Valentine’s Day. Personally, I love Valentine’s Day because I love the candy. If, however, Valentine’s Day only represents being with a significant other, I can’t give you too much help. There’s no guarantee that the person you’re with will enjoy the holiday as much as you, so even if you did get a partner, I think you’d still be unhappy if they totally forgot about Valentine’s Day.

    12. nep*

      ‘I just want to stop dreading this day…’
      You don’t have to dread it. It seems you dread it because you let your mind make it into something to dread. If you dwell on the lack of a partner/relationship and how much of a drag that is on Valentine’s Day, it will be. I don’t mean to be cold or insensitive. It’s just that we can really drive ourselves into a hole when we dwell on these things that don’t have to be problems. Are you in good health? Have you got a job that’s providing you a living? Have you got friends you dig and who dig you? It is just another day on the calendar, after all. Make it a great one in whatever way works for you.

    13. Felicia*

      No advice but I totally feel you. Usually it doesn’t bother me being single. But because Valentine’s Day is a Saturday , I don’t have work to distract me, and because almost all of my friends are in relationships (there is only one who isn’t, and she’ll be on vacation out of the country, because that’s a week of vacation for the universities), no one i know is available to do anything with. It’s also my first year living alone, which i mostly love, and can sometimes get lonely. So it’s not Valentine’s Day exactly, it’s that everyone i know has plans and i don’t (though if i start thinking too hard about the reason why, that makes me sad), and if I go out you see a lot more people being openly couply that day .
      I think my problem is I only have one single friend, who is unavailable. It’s hard when all of your friends have plans that you can’t be a part of. I have been very good at making new friends in the past 2-3 years, but they all had SOs when I met them, or got in relationships since last Valentine’s day…and my parents have plans too, and my sisters are both working 2pm-10 pm (they work at the same place).

    14. VintageLydia USA*

      Follow Leslie Knope’s example and celebrate Galentine’s Day on the 13th! Celebrate the relationships that you already have may help soften the sting of not having a type of relationship that you want.

    15. The IT Manager*

      Hmmm … I think you either have to not care about V day or not see being single as a flaw problem or both.

      I’m single and don’t care about V day; I mostly barely even notice it/pay it any attention. But also I am fine being single.

      But most importantly learn that being single is not a flaw or sign that something is wrong with you.

    16. JC*

      I used to have an artist friend who sent out cards with black squares on them for Valentine’s Day. I miss them.

      I don’t have any advice, but OP, I feel for you. I’m married now but I remember dreading Valentine’s Day when I was single. And I don’t love Valentine’s Day as part of a couple, either, so it seems like a totally net-negative holiday–depressing if you’re single, overpriced and overcrowded restaurants if you’re not.

    17. Anonsie*

      This might sound flippant but can you just ask someone on a date? There are plenty of single dudes sitting around right now moping that they don’t have anyone to see on Valentine’s either.

    18. GA! (Lisa)*

      I had horrible Vdays for years, in relationships, until I finally put an absolute ban on them. Which turned out to be all sorts of stress because there are lots of expectations around the day when you’re in a relationship.

      This year husband and I are playing Pathfinder (roleplaying board game) with another couple which will include potluck dinner, and maybe going to an art gallery. In other words, its just weekend time spent with friends.

      So perhaps you and your friend could spend time together (but avoid meals out, or bars)?

  20. little Cindy Lou who*

    My 10 year high school reunion is coming up soon and I don’t think I want to go.

    Its not that high school was awful for me or anything. It was actually fun. I had a lot of friends in a variety of circles, but all the people I was closest to at the time drifted to various corners of the country after graduating and none of us have made much effort to keep in touch. And it wasn’t my home town, just a place my family had moved halfway across the country to. So I guess long way of saying I don’t feel excited about it.

    But I guess I’m curious if anyone thinks I should just pull up my big girl panties and go anyway? Is it really a worthwhile way to reconnect or is it a night of forced conversation and plain reminiscing that just ebbs away after to leave you feeling like you’re getting old?

    1. cuppa*

      I did not go to my high school reunion. I was feeling like you, and wasn’t sure if I should go, but then I had a trip planned that prevented me from being there. I’m not really sorry that I didn’t go and it sounds like I had a somewhat similar high school experience as you.
      My brother went to his and he said it was nice to see people again, but after the initial first half hour of catching up it just got kind of weird and he didn’t really care anymore.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        Thanks! Your brother’s experience is exactly what I’m picturing. I love the idea of taking a trip somewhere instead. Maybe I can even talk a couple of the friends from there I do keep in touch with to do something else together that day.

    2. Noah*

      I went to my five year reunion, did not go to the ten year reunion. Maybe five years was too soon, but the night was boring. Everyone I wanted to stay in contact with I already do, others I quickly remembered why we were not friends in the first place or why we drifted apart.

      If you don’t want to go, I wouldn’t go. I have enough forced social events in my life with work and family, I don’t see the need to create another one.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        So true about social obligations lol. I was trying to gauge how much of one this would need to be — so thanks for the reassurance!

    3. Aussie Teacher*

      I didn’t enjoy school that much – changed friendship groups in Year 12 which was a bit weird and there were definitely lots of cliques and girls I didn’t enjoy. So I was incredibly nervous heading to my 10-year reunion – but I actually really enjoyed it! A lot of the ‘nasty’ girls had grown up and were surprisingly nice to talk to, it was interesting to hear what people had been doing for the last 10 years and only one person responded to my enthusiastic greeting with a flat unenthusiastic “Oh, hey, Aussie Teacher” and then pointedly turned to another person in the circle. (At which point I mentally rolled my eyes and moved on!) And a few of my old friends came so I spent most of the night talking to them. TL:DR – I had a surprisingly nice time and I’m glad I went.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        Again no stark, just genuine interest: what made you want to go or feel obligated to? Was it general interest, because it’s your hometown, something else? When I tried to think of things like that for me I draw blanks, and feel a little guilty about it. So I guess I’m wondering if there’s a spark that would make it fun vs all the awkwardness I picture? (Also I almost skipped prom as girly dresses and froufrou were soOo not my thing back then but a good guy friend of mine literally begged me to be his date after I said no way in heck twice before, and we had a total blast that night so I guess I’m wondering if it’d be similar if I gave it half a chance)

      2. Jazzy Red*

        I went to my 20 year reunion, and also found that most of the people had turned out much nicer than they were in high school. Except for one girl…I was in the ladies’ room, there were a lot of women in there, and Miss Witch was standing right next to me. I said “Hi, Miss Witch, I remember you from gym class.” And she said, “I don’t remember you at all.” She left the ladies’ room, and I yelled “And you haven’t changed a bit!” and everyone laughed. I guess I wasn’t the only person who didn’t like her.

        At the dinner, I sat next to one of the “popular” girls who turned out to be one of the funniest people I’ve ever known. Had a great time with her that evening.

        Another reunion will be coming up in ’17, but I don’t plan to attend any more of them.

    4. Stephanie*

      I skipped my 10-year high school reunion. My parents have since moved from my high school hometown, so I would have had to travel and pay for lodging. I also went to a fairly large high school (about 2400) with big graduating classes, so there was a good chance I wouldn’t know a lot of the attendees. I’m still in touch with most of the people I wanted to stay in touch with, so I didn’t see a reason to go.

      I did go to my five-year college reunion and had a blast. I think I felt a bit more connected to college since I chose to go there (versus just attending the high school I was zoned for) and knew way more people.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        you know, good point! I have no connections to that town anymore either. I live and work in a different state and my parents moved away after I graduated college.

      2. cuppa*

        Stephanie makes a really good point! I absolutely plan on going to my 10 year high school reunion!

    5. fposte*

      Why would you go if you don’t want to? This isn’t a growth experience, it’s an occasion for fun. If you don’t think you’ll get enough fun, do something else.

      Granted, I’m no fan of my high school reunions, and they’re currently spamming the whole class about the damn thing to boot, so I’m not exactly unbiased. But I’ve never gone to a single high school reunion and have never regretted it for a moment (I do wish I could have made it to some college reunions).

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        That’s exactly why I asked :) I wondered if there was any benefit besides “fun”. Thanks for weighing in!

        1. Editor*

          I thought some of my classmates had been stuck back in my rural hometown and were not able to pursue their dreams. I went back about 30 years later and found out that they had found ways to live happily and successfully in the area and were not trapped as I had assumed. I thought one guy was stuck at home on daddy’s farm, but that’s not a complete picture — he’s also a successful businessman who owns a lot of rental properties, and it turns out he made some clear-eyed choices about his options. He and several other classmates aren’t “stuck in the country” and are pretty happy with their life choices, friends, and extended families. It was an interesting lesson for me.

    6. Sherm*

      Well, I can tell you it’s possible to skip your reunions without regretting it, because that’s what I did. I’ve skipped my 10th and my 20th, and I’d do it again. In my case high school wasn’t very fun at all, although I was rarely teased. I was shy with deteriorating mental health, so I didn’t want to revisit that time. Despite wishing them well, I don’t care what my classmates are up to, to be honest.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking I don’t really care what most of them are up to. And I definitely don’t mean it in a mean-spirited way; I hope everyone is happy, healthy and enjoying their lives, but I don’t really care who’s had babies, etc. Good for them, blessings and all, but its irrelevant to me and not something I want to chat about just because we’ve been shoved into a room together and I don’t want to seem condescending if my lack of interest were to come through. (I feel guilty for admitting I feel this way! But I swear I have very close friends who are expecting and I’m through the moon excited for them because it is relevant — I see them all the time, I’ll see baby regularly, etc)

        1. Stephanie*

          Eh, I feel like Facebook has kind of rendered that aspect of reunions null and void: I sort of know who’s gotten married, who’s had babies, who’s gotten fat (or in shape), who’s on track to become some CEO, etc. I get where you’re coming from–I wish the girl from 10th grade history well, but I’m not super invested in her toddler.

          Funny thing is, my mom was very into her high school reunion and went to her 40th last summer. I think the difference was that her high school was small and they had the bond of being the last class before desegregation (yeah…this was Arkansas in the early 70s).

          1. little Cindy Lou who*

            First, your mom’s class definitely has an amazing story, whoa! I’ve become somewhat of a history nerd and I’d love to read a memoir or two on those experiences.

            And I agree that Facebook impacts the dynamic. I do kinda know who married who and all, and therefore it seems like that passive connectedness kinda takes away the point of the reunion? What’s to catch up on? or am I missing the point?

          2. Samantha*

            Re: Facebook, I said the exact same thing to my friend when we were discussing not going to our 10-year reunion last year. With the curiosity factor gone, there was no reason for me to attend. i already keep up with the few people I’ve remained close with since graduating. It does seem like it could be awkward after catching up with where everyone is now. It’s not that I didn’t like high school – for the most part I did – I just don’t feel the need to relive it.

    7. Blue_eyes*

      My 10 year is coming up this year too and I probably won’t go. I still see quite a few people that I was close to in high school, and the others I really don’t care much about. I know generally what a lot of them are doing because of Facebook but I don’t feel much of a need to see them in person.

      On the other hand, my 5 year college reunion last year was great. I had seen a lot of my friends since college, but getting to be all together on campus again was a truly irreplaceable experience.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        I missed my 5 year college reunion because of work travel but I would love to spend time on campus with my friends again when the 10 year rolls around. And I keep in touch with way more people I went to college with than high school with :)

    8. C Average*

      I went to mine, and I’m glad I did.

      My experience was a little unusual, though.

      In high school, I had a best friend, a guy, whom I adored but bantered/fought with constantly. Everyone thought we had a thing going (we didn’t), so when we found ourselves both very single with the ten-year reunion approaching, we decided to pretend we’d eloped and go together.

      It was kind of a lark. We didn’t figure anyone would believe our story. Thing was, EVERYBODY believed our story, and thought it was so romantic. It was awkward as hell to eventually confess, late in the evening, that we’d punked our entire class. Many people had left by that time, and for weeks people would approach my mother at the grocery store to congratulate her on my marriage.

      It was one of the most fun evenings of my life, and definitely the best prank I’ve ever been involved in.

    9. Sunflower*

      I wouldn’t call a 10 year high school reunion a situation that involves you pulling your big girl panties up for. Going somewhere that might be awkward but has real growth potential is a situation for that. It’s not nearly as big or important as movies have made them out to be. I feel like with Facebook, reunions don’t serve the purpose they once did. Reunions are meant to be fun and carefree. If you can imagine yourself going and have a good time just chatting with people you haven’t talked to in a while, go.

      I’m not at my 10 yet but I did go to my 5. It was fun, I had a good time and got to talk to people I had classes with that I knew I’d lose touch with after high school. Most conversations lasted a couple minutes and I didn’t feel like it was a series of ‘who’s life is better now’. My high school most certainly had cliques but it seemed like a lot of people had grown up and were happy to see that most of us were doing okay.

      It’s only worth going if you want to go IMO.

    10. Audiophile*

      I didn’t go to mine. Actually, mine got canceled because no one bought tickets. With Facebook and Instagram and other socia media platforms, everyone pretty much knows what’s going on in each others lives. (Whether they want to or not).

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Did we go to high school together? ;)

        The same thing happened with mine, so I’m just kind of assuming none of the ensuing ones will happen either. I bought one of like five tickets sold…

        1. Audiophile*

          Lol, surprisingly mine sold more tickets than yours. But yeah, they had to cancel because the venue required a certain amount of tickets sold to host it and they didn’t come close to that minimum.

        2. Melissa*

          The same thing happened with mine. The ticket purchasing deadline hadn’t even passed yet. But I think as it got to be about 2 months out (the deadline was about 1 month out) so few people had purchased that the organizers started asking who was planning to go, and then I guess not enough people said they were.

    11. Tris Prior*

      I went to my 10-year and wow, it was *incredibly* boring. I mainly went because I’d just gotten married and had this weird desire to rub that fact in the faces of my former classmates who wouldn’t even consider dating me back then. The food was awful, the music was awful, I had to haul ass back to the suburb in which I went to high school (gross!), and most people whom I would’ve liked to see didn’t even show up.

      Highlights of the evening were seeing one of my favorite teachers from senior year, and seeing that one of the boys who made my life miserable in high school had gone bald and aged poorly.

      1. Ali*

        I did not go to mine because I already had plans when it was announced. I did see some pictures on Facebook, but it looked like only about 20-30 people went in a class of close to 150. I didn’t hate high school, but I also really didn’t have interest in seeing anyone from that time period again. What was funny, though, was all these people who barely talked to me in high school trying to add me on Facebook. I guess it’s like, you didn’t talk to me in HS and now you want to catch up with me? I do have people from HS on my page, but I actually associated with them in school. I have no desire to talk to people now that I didn’t then.

    12. The Other Dawn*

      I didn’t go to any of my reunions. elementary school was a nightmare and it would have been a lot of the same people at the high school reunion (I was overweight AND tall, a double whammy in school), I wasn’t popular at all, I was always very quiet and had just a few close friends, And I had gained a ton of weight since high school and was too embarrassed to go. Why would I go see people I never liked and who never gave me the time of day?

      My 25 year reunion is coming up in 2017. I thought I wanted to go because I’ve had weight loss surgery and lost 130 pounds and really wanted to say “look at me now bitches!” But now? Nah. I don’t care about the opinion of those people. I’d say there’s only three or four people I’d like to reconnect with and I talk to them on Facebook. That’s enough for me.

      TLDR: don’t feel obligated to go. It’s totally up to you. If there are people you’d really like to see then go for it. Otherwise it’s likely to be boring after the initial catching up.

    13. Ann Furthermore*

      I go to a reunion weekend every few years, and have an absolute blast. But my situation is unique. I went to a tiny boarding school in a small mountain town in California. It truly was one of the happiest times of my childhood. I can’t explain it, but there is this weird and extremely close bond between all of us. Maybe it’s because we not only all went to school together, but lived together too, during our teenage years which is an intense and dramatic time for just about everyone.

      Anyway, every few years there is a reunion weekend, and I get to go walk down memory lane, hang out with old friends, and generally just soak up nostalgia from every angle. The only difference is that now we can buy our own alcohol, instead of having to ask someone lurking outside the liquor store to do it for us, and we can consume it out in the open instead of having to sneak into the woods. And best of all, anytime we all get together, no matter who is there, no matter if they’ve been to one of these gatherings before or not, it’s like no time at all has passed and we all just pick right up where we left off.

    14. matcha123*

      I didn’t go to mine because it was in my hometown and I had no money to fly back; there were about 500 people in my graduating class; and, I don’t care about most of those people. It sounds like a lot of people didn’t attend. There’s nothing strange about not attending!

    15. EvilQueenRegina*

      Mine was on a day that I couldn’t go as I was on holiday that week, but I don’t think I would have gone anyway. It wasn’t a formal thing, just some get together in a pub and from the photos I saw after it really only seemed to be one friendship group who was there.

      I still keep in touch with those I want to and don’t much care about the others, and as people have said, Facebook means we very often know a lot of what people are doing anyway.

    16. Steve G*

      I put on a positive face and went…it was OK, but I was disgusted that some people were doing drugs, and many went to another bar after we had drank ALOT at the reunion. I also found out that two people I knew since I was a little kid and were married to other people at that point slept together at the reunion. Too much grossness for me. And I just felt trashy with all of these people I knew since I was 6 asking me if I wanted to do pot. NO! Or not with you! We learned how to read and write together, can’t we do something a bit more innocent?!?!

    17. Kat M*

      My husband and I are approaching ten years. We’ve already decided neither of us are going to ours. We didn’t have terrible high school experiences; we were both well liked in high school. However, with Facebook/through our mothers (seriously, they know everyone in our hometowns), we already know who’s gotten married, who has kids, what everyone’s career track looks like. We joke that, of everyone we knew in high school, the ones we want to keep in touch with were the folks we invited to our wedding (we invited more college/current friends than we did high school-and we agonized more over the college friends we couldn’t invite than over high school friends).

      If you’re not feeling it, there’s no point in going. Why not have a night out with people you do keep in touch with from high school?

    18. Melissa*

      My high school reunion was supposed to be this August, and then the organizers postponed it until the holidays for lack of interest/prepayment, and then…it never happened.

      I think it all depends on your feelings. I wanted to go back because I liked high school, had warm feelings about my high school friends, and though it would be fun to reconnect. But if you don’t want to go, then I think you shouldn’t go!

  21. Elkay*

    Apparently I’ve hit 30 and I’m falling apart, over the last 6 months I’ve had a blood test that had low counts for some stuff, when I was tested to see if it was fixed they found I was other low stuff. I’m sitting on the sofa nursing wheat bag because my wrist/arm has started reacting to the damp weather. In addition to that I threw my back out in my sleep a few weeks ago.

    1. Noah*

      I’m 30 and completely agree. I twisted my knee playing hockey this year and ended up needing surgery. I had a cancer scare earlier this year that thankfully turned out to be nothing. I finally started taking ADHD meds, and while they help me concentrate I cannot sleep. I’ve been to the doctor more in the last year than in the past 10 years combined.

    2. Aussie Teacher*

      I’m 34 and feel the same way! I’ve started pilates (on a reformer, with a qualified physio taking the class) for my back which really helps. I also had osteopenia (not quite osteoporosis but heading that way… thin bones) abut 10 years ago when I broke my arm, so it’s about time I headed back to the doc for another bone density scan to see how badly they’ve deteriorated in the last 10 years! Eeep.

    3. Mephyle*

      When we were in our 20’s, a friend a couple years older than us used to say “when you turn 30, the guarantee runs out, and the only spare parts are refurbished ones.” We used to laugh, thinking it was a joke.

    4. Steve G*

      Im 33 and have always been a runner/jogger but had to stop 2 years ago because of the knee/ankle pains getting worse….switched to other forms of exercise. Also, food + alcohol no longer mix, actually alcohol seems much harder to process at this point….I know their is “age inflation” going on in the world today – so many people are living to such advanced ages that everyone keeps calling you “young” until your 50, but yeah, even when you think of yourself as really young, the body doesn’t always, and stuff does start to degenerate….

  22. Aussie Teacher*

    Tips for moving all your stuff from an old MacBook (late 2008 model, 250GB storage, 2GB memory) onto a new MacBook Air (8GB 1600MHz LPDDR3 SDRAM, 128GB PCIe-based Flash Storage)? I tried following all the prompts to move stuff over quickly & easily (restore from a hard drive backup) but it says there isn’t enough memory to move it all, and it won’t let you deselect photos, for instance, or just bits and pieces.

    So I bought the laptop in December but I’m still using my old slow nearly-full-takes-forever-to-do-anything laptop and my husband is annoyed that I’m not enjoying the benefits of my super-fast-and-shiny new laptop yet. My current plan is to go through ALLL my photos (I’m only up to mid-2009) to delete all the extras, and then try to restore from a smaller backup. My husband says it sounds like I’m enduring current pain because I’m scared of the possibility of future pain (e.g. I’m worrying: what if I download all my photos to a separate drive and then try to move things over without the photos, and then they won’t upload easily to the new laptop, or it messes with my Events and I can’t find anything anymore?)

    I know I’m not particularly tech-savvy and need to spend some time Googling this, but if anyone has any useful tips I’d be very grateful!

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      Your old computer has 250GB, your new one half of that. Yes, go through your photos and delete ones you think you’ll never want again, burn DVDs of photos to archive off your computer (do you really need all the photos on your computer all the time?) Go through your e-mail and delete old ones, large ones. Look at your music collection and do the same thing as you’re doing with your photos — do you need all that music on there? What about videos you’ve taken? I personally don’t use iTunes to manage my music, I keep it all in a folder elsewhere and just use iTunes to play it.

      You might also want to consider (if you can afford it) some sort of your own cloud media server to store and backup these things. I bought one of these for my business http://www.amazon.ca/WD-Cloud-Diskless-High-Performance-WDBWWD0000NBK-NESN/dp/B00G4JZ2T0/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1423346819&sr=8-6&keywords=my+cloud+wd because I have a lot of client files to back up. With this system, you choose the hard drives that go in, so you pick the size, it was really easy to set up. But, there are other solutions that are out of the box/all in one unit.

      Because, the easier solution might be to copy it allll onto an external hard drive (you should be able to get a 1TB for around $100) and delete all your photos/music/files from your old computer, then copy back the ones you do want, once you manage to migrate everything to your new computer. Just remember, if you cram that hard drive full, you won’t really experience the speed of your new machine. Computers need free hard drive space to function.

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        Ooo I never thought about emails taking up space. And I didn’t know you could use iTunes to play music stored elsewhere either – we burnt our entire CD collection to iTunes so there’s a lot of music on there (including a lot of classical stuff I don’t play on a regular basis). Thanks for all the interesting tips!

        Interestingly, despite being ruthless when it comes to clutter in my home, I’m the opposite electronically – I file nearly every email in case I need it someday! And who knows when that blurry photo will remind me of a special moment?! I think I need to declutter my computer…

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          You have to go into the preferences (I think, it’s been a while) and there is a setting that’s something like “let me manage my own library”. You can navigate to the folder where all the music is, copy/move it to somewhere else, then link it all back in. I keep my music on an external hard drive, like you I ripped all my CDs (I don’t buy through iTunes)

    2. Windchime*

      I have a Macbook but I’m not any kind of an expert on it. Can you take it to the Apple store and have one of the pros there do the moving for you? (I am assuming that you have one nearby where you live in Australia, which may not be a valid assumption).

      Good luck! I love my Macbook. I have had it for a little over a year and it’s been perfectly trouble-free.

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        I live in a major city, so there’s definitely an Apple store nearby! Do they charge for that sort of service? I think when I was buying it there was an option to have someone do it all for you for a couple of hundred bucks, but we weren’t about to spend that much on it!

          1. Windchime*

            Oh, I guess I didn’t realize that. It seems that when you pay for one of their Very Expensive Computers, they could cut a person a break and offer a little free help!

            1. Melissa*

              It’s part of their One to One service, which is ridiculously overpriced (like a lot of Apple, which I say even though I love Apple products). It’s $99 a year. First they help you transfer over all of your materials to your new Mac, which I suspect is the reason most people sign up for the service. Then they “design a curriculum” to teach you how to use your computer. It seems pretty useless to me. I don’t think they offer file transfer as a standalone option.

    3. Vancouver Reader*

      I am so not technically savvy, but would it be useful to get an external HD and save everything on there? Just dump it all in and then go through your pictures at your leisure and that way you do have everything stored, but it doesn’t need to take up space in your new laptop.

    4. Aknownymous*

      You have about half the storage capacity on your new computer, so if you used nearly all of your storage on the old one, you’d have to delete a whole lot of stuff. In addition, when your storage is close to capacity, it slows down your computer significantly. When I switched my computer, I backed up everything to an external HD, then manually moved over what I really needed to my new computer. For Calendar and Mail and such, you have the option to import files, so you just tell the program where you put it, and it does the rest. You can also upgrade your storage, but I’m not sure how much it costs. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to back stuff up regularly and remove from the computer, to keep it running more smoothly (and also to prevent a loss of all data if your computer meets an unexpected demise).

    5. Systems of Edges*

      Get a Western Digital My Passport 1TB or 2TB Portable disk drive. They’re cheap ($80-$130), they’re USB 3.0 (so the data transfer is fast), and the “Portable” part means there’s a single cable for data and power (most external drives have a separate data and power cable, which is a pain). Also, the My Passport has built-in hardware encryption on it – if you put data on it, and the drive is lost or stolen, you can be secure in knowing that no-one can read your data without knowing the password.

      The one tricky part is that you’ll probably have to reformat the filesystem on the drive so that it will work properly with the Mac. This is very simple and there are many, many web pages out there that will walk you through it.

      1. Melissa*

        I prefer the LaCie external hard drives because I had compatibility issues with the WD drives and Macs, although I think their new drives don’t have the same issues. I have two LaCie external HDD – one 1 TB portable and one 3 TB desktop (which I use as my Time Machine).

        Actually Aussie, if you get an external hard drive and use Time Machine on your old Mac, you can load your files onto your new Mac with Time Machine from the same drive. I’m pretty sure that you can pick what you want to restore.

  23. little Cindy Lou who*

    Totally non-snark: Do you really need to store all your photos on the new laptop? because an external hard drive or the like might make your life easier, in that you can buy a large one to dump everything onto to sorry through on rainy days, plus it’ll keep you from filling up all the space on your new laptop too soon :)

    1. Aussie Teacher*

      That’s what my husband said! I guess I like having them all there at my fingertips so I can watch my old videos of the kids whenever I like or see their baby photos etc. It’s probably a good idea though, thanks for the reinforcement :)

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        that’s reasonable, but if it’s another reassurance at all, most drives use USB, so with the speed of plugging your phone in to charge, you can still see those family videos :)

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        What are you going to do with your old laptop? You could keep it with all the photos on it for when you feel that urge (but please, do back them up somewhere else) and leave your new computer cleaner… because your kids will grow and you will take more photos/videos of them and you’ll be right back in this same place again at some point.

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          I hadn’t really decided… I’m a bit paranoid that even if I wipe the hard drive etc., someone who knew what they were doing could still manage to retrieve personal information, photos etc so I’m leery of donating/selling it…

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Well, that’s not going to happen if the hard drive is completely wiped. If you’re really concerned, format it a few times if it makes you feel better but if you have the install DVD and you choose “Format Disc”, it’s all gone, forever. That’s why they’re so “Are you sure? No, really, are you sure?” when you do it. Once you wipe the drive, you can give that computer to whomever you want. If it goes to a place as a donation, odds are the first thing they will do is wipe it and reinstall the OS anyway. If you donate it to the right kind of place, you can even get a tax receipt for the market value. Also, there are a lot of families out there who can’t afford to buy a computer, so those kind of programs are a boon to them.

      3. Blue_eyes*

        If that’s the kind of functionality that you want out of your computer, than it seems like a MacBook Air probably isn’t the right choice. MacBook Air is great for portability but not so great for storing large amounts of data. Maybe a cloud service would be your best bet so you can access all your photos/videos from your laptop without crowding the hard drive.

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          Hmm good point. Is iCloud a cloud service like that? Or does that just allow your devices to talk to one another/share info?

          1. Blue_eyes*

            I don’t actually use iCloud so I’d welcome input from someone who knows more than me, but yes, I think you could store your photos in the cloud and then access them wherever you have internet access (from any of your Apple devices).

          2. TL -*

            If you’re not concerned about picture quality, Google drive has a lot of storage (but they upload lower quality versions of your pics – the original remains the same size). But for just flipping through on your computer/phone/whatever it works just fine.

            Not my favorite form of organization but I also have thousands and thousands of pictures so YMMV. It makes it nice for picking a background for my phone, though. :)

          3. Melissa*

            Yes, iCloud has started iCloud Drive, which is a cloud-storage service that allows you to store your pictures, videos, music, and other files online like a hard drive. iCloud Drive is the priciest major cloud storage service, though. They charge $3.99/month for 200 GB, $9.99 for 500 GB and $19.99 for 1 TB of storage.

            For comparison, Google Drive charges just $1/month for 100 GB of storage and $10/month for a TB. Dropbox is another popular service that charges $10/month for a TB. Microsoft OneDrive is one of the cheapest options; they charge $7/month for one TB of storage, and that also includes access to Microsoft Office 365.

            Embarrassingly I have all four at varying levels (iCloud for my phone – it actually wouldn’t operate anymore without me paying $1/month for the 20 GB; OneDrive for the Microsoft Office; Google Drive because I need it for my Gmail account, which I have had for almost 10 years and is thusly mammoth; and Dropbox because that’s what we use at work). Out of the four, I like Google Drive and Dropbox the best. Both of those also offer you the option to sync some or all of your files to your computer so that you can access them directly through a folder right on your computer, rather than through a browser all the time.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I read where you should put the photos on a removable drive and keep it in your fire safe. If I ever find the time…..

    3. Artemesia*

      I am a serious photographer and I have two external hard drives for backup. The great thing about photo prints is that they last pretty much forever (I have photos taken 100 years ago of my grandmother and father.) Electrons are ephemeral. Remember ‘floppy disks’ most computers don’t read those anymore. DVDs are going the same way. So having a couple of backups and then also printing the things that matter or occasionally making books of family photos will assure that they are around when your kids grow up. My daughter makes a book each year for her daughter and I have done them of important family occasions like weddings, milestone birthdays and so forth.

      Computer drives come and go, even external hard drives become obsolete or fail.

    4. Vera*

      Remember that you need to have TWO copies of your important files (at least). Many users have told that they had all their videos and photos in a backup drive, being that the only “copy” of the file, ask me to perform necromancy because the disk died, and then get in a rage when I told them their files are lost forever. Just one set of files is NOT safe and definitely not a backup, no matter where they are (yes, even the cloud isn’t 100% safe. Several Flickr users learnt this the hard way).

  24. Shell*

    I have so much cleaning I should be doing but oh my god, I just do not want to. Someone motivate me. Please.

    1. Noah*

      I cleaned my kitchen and bathroom this morning and now I don’t want to do anything else. I’ve had a laundry basket of clean clothes sitting in my living room for three days. I really need to put it away and clean up other clutter but somehow ended up on the couch with my laptop instead.

    2. Aussie Teacher*

      Set a timer for 15 minutes. Imagine you are being filmed or someone is racing you and clean as fast as you can (tidying, vacuuming, whatever). When the timer goes off, reward yourself (chocolate, 10 mins web-browsing etc).

      Repeat if needed.

      Long-term – find a home for everything. I’m a neat freak with 3 small children and even when the house is super-messy, I can tidy it all to look immaculate in about 10-15 mins because every thing has a place to go. I don’t actually CLEAN very often because the tidiness fools people into thinking it’s clean (just don’t look at the dust-bunnies in the corners, the crumbs under the table or the mould in the bathroom plughole)!

      1. Windchime*

        I imagine that my mother is coming over and I have 15 minutes to make the place presentable. It’s amazing what you can get done in 15 minutes when you know that someone critical will be walking in the door.

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          I actually used to skype another friend (SAHM too), and we’d each pick a 10 minute task. One of us would set a timer in front of the laptop screen and shout “GO!” and we’d both race and do our task, and report back when the timer went off. Sometimes we’d do it 3 or 4 times and get heaps done, because we had a cleaning buddy to motivate us and keep us company! If you like the Flylady style of cleaning, her community on Facebook is great for this sort of thing – there are always a bunch of people hanging around ready to join you in a spot of cleaning :P

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Music or audiobooks–really! It’s so much easier to sweep or mop or whatever if I have really good music or an engrossing audiobook to keep me occupied. Or if it works for you, can you arrange to get yourself a treat afterwards? I loathe going to the dentist, but if I promise myself lunch out or a new book afterwards, then that usually helps to motivate me.

    4. Ollie*

      I follow an awesome blog on Tumblr called UnFuckYourHabitat (sorry, language). They post cleaning inspiration pics every day, and post reminders of chores to do before you go to sleep. They also have a phone app (I don’t have a smart phone, so I can’t fully recommend it, but I’ve heard good things).

      I really like it because the blog’s really encouraging to everyone, no matter how messy you keep your place. Maybe it’s something you’d like to check out?

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Me too. I’ll do it tomorrow–it’s already dark in here now and I’m still not feeling very well. Tomorrow it will be bright and I can see what I’m doing.

    6. Trixie*

      I often tackle during commercials which helps because it seems like there are so many these days. Few minutes here and there, much less daunting in size/scope.

    7. nep*

      You’ll feel so much better having done it, won’t you? It’s generally so refreshing to have things clean and in order.

  25. Shell*

    Thinking out loud for a bit here…

    There’s been a lot of upheaval in my life in the last few months, particularly in the last month. Among the upheavals include my breaking off a long-term relationship (5.5 years) back in September, which I mentioned on an open thread somewhere.

    When I’m thinking back on the upheavals, I realized…I don’t miss him. The first week post-breakup was very rough (very much “did I make a mistake” and such), but we parted as friends and started talking again about two months after the breakup (and I stopped by his place a few times in November and December). We text once every couple of weeks. But I have no desire to get back together (and I suspect the feeling is mutual), and I realized…I don’t miss him. I barely miss being in a relationship. I could try to start dating again but I…just don’t feel like it. I feel…okay, for the most part.

    I know I did the right thing, but I always imagined doing the right thing would be harder. It certainly felt like it in September. But now…dating doesn’t even seem worth the effort, even though I do want to find a life partner someday.

    Relationships are weird.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Good for you! I think with many people worried about being single on Valentine’s Day, it’s nice that you’re having the opposite feelings about it. If I could go back and do things over, I’d probably spend more time being single and learning more about myself before committing to someone, so I applaud you for knowing yourself.

    2. C Average*

      I think it’s OK and totally normal to be a little ambivalent after ending a long-term thing. You’re still getting used to the practical effects (more time alone, the fact that it’s now OK to boy- or girl-watch, the freedom to do stuff that your relationship might have prevented you from doing) as well as the emotional ones (trying to figure out what you’re like on your own, trying to figure out which box to put your relationship-related memories in before setting them on a shelf somewhere with other things you no longer use but keep for sentimental reasons). It’s complicated stuff. Wallow in it a little, ponder the big questions, take the time you need. There’s no rush to get anywhere.

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Take plenty of time for yourself, and enjoy it. Don’t start dating again until you’re ready. I’ve been married for almost 10 years. I love my husband and kids more than anything, and I wouldn’t change a thing, but sometimes I do wistfully think about the days when it was just me.

    4. Sunflower*

      Relationships are very strange. I don’t think there’s anything else that elicits emotions from such opposite sides of the spectrum.

      Maybe you aren’t ready to date or maybe you just aren’t ready find a partner. Try not to think of dating as a mechanism for finding a partner. It’s okay to date just to see what’s out there. For me, the end of relationships put me into a period of reflection. What did I do to contribute to this? Is this something I need to change or just a difference of personalities? What did I like and not like about him? What am I looking for next?

      Right now in my life I’m looking for a relationship but not necessarily with the person I want to marry. And I’ve found dating a lot of different people for fun and just to see what’s out there is a great way to decide what I want and don’t want in a life partner.

  26. YWD*

    Has anyone consulted a financial adviser and, if so, was it worth it and how did you find them? I feel I’m at the age where I need to have a better long term financial plan than I do.

    The specific situation that is prompting this is I refinanced my mortgage and am trying to figure out if it’s smarter to put the monthly savings into retirement / savings or pay down the new mortgage faster. I don’t have any credit card / student loan debt.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      I got my financial advisor because my last one left and placed me with my current guy. I would look to see if your interest rates are higher for the savings plan or for the mortgage but I think usually the recommendation is to max out your retirement savings if possible, then take whatever tax refund you get and put it towards your mortgage.

    2. fposte*

      I would say that you’ll get better advice for free on the Bogleheads wiki and on the Bogleheads board than you will on average from a financial advisor, because financial advisors are kind of a crap shoot (it’s one of those situations where if you know enough to find a good advisor you probably don’t need one). If you do go, make sure it’s a fee-per-hour financial planner, not somebody who wants long-term involvement with your finances for a percentage.

      But hey, let’s talk about it here, too :-). You’re doing brilliantly if you have no credit card debt or student loan debt. In general, maxing out your tax-advantaged space is going to be a priority over early payment of a mortgage, because you don’t get that space back–once you miss a year, you missed that opportunity. That’s even truer if you get any kind of a match in your 401k/403b/457b, because that’s FREE MONEY. The rule of thumb for priority in contributions is 401k to the match; IRA ($5500 for 2015 unless you’re over 50); then 401k to the limit ($18,000 this year unless you’re over 50).

      Some 401ks etc. aren’t great–the fees are bad and the choices are bad–but even if it’s horrible, you’re usually better off putting the money in tax-efficient investments in taxable than switching over the the mortgage. If you’re managing to max out your tax-efficient space regularly, have an emergency fund, and still have money left over, that’s the time to think about paying the mortgage down earlier.

    3. BRR*

      Just remember if you do see a financial advisor to always ask yourself what they could get out of any recommendations and to sleep on any big decisions.

    4. YWD*

      The Bogleheads wiki is amazing! Thanks for the referral.

      My company matches up to 5% on 401(k) and I am contributing 12%. I could go to 15% but from fposte’s priority order I will check out IRAs. I’ve only glanced at them before.

    5. Editor*

      I would say most financial advisors have products they want to sell because they receive regular compensation. I found it difficult to find a financial advisor to assist me when I was dealing with my late husband’s estate several years ago. The advisors who would do a workup for fees were not in the “4 hours of assistance for $75 an hour” because their fees were $2,000 to $5,000 to examine every nook and cranny of my financial life and report back with recommendations. I found a guy at my bank who was very helpful even though he was basically selling annuities.

      A couple of years later I discovered my tax preparer knew a lot of gossip about financial advisors and their fees.

      Be prepared for bank staff to know all your business at the bank, including how much you’ve got in savings, etc.

      My somewhat-random list of stuff to think about:
      1. Look at the last two to five years of your expenses and draw up a monthly budget for yourself going forward based on your current obligations and financial history, including all expenses including gift-giving and other random, sporadic expenses. Some financial advisors will tell you to do this or ask questions about your expenses, so do this homework first.
      2. Talk to the Social Security Administration about which year you can retire and what they project you will receive. You can get this information at no cost, although ask around to find out which offices in your region have the best customer service and call that one for an appointment. (People who work with the elderly, including some clergy, know which offices are good and which are have issues.)
      3. Ask insurance agents, accountants, tax prep people, lawyers, business owners, and any other sources of information for recommendations. Be prepared for some self-serving stuff, such as insurance agents wanting to pitch annuities rather than provide referrals. Also, ask if the referral is part of an established relationship — some professionals trade referral bonuses, for instance.
      4. Consult a lawyer who specializes in estates to have a will drawn up and to get advice about retirement and financial advisors. Some lawyers who handle estates are pretty good with numbers and are plugged in to accounting gossip; others are just looking for referral fees.
      5. Talk to some of the financial advisors who will sell products instead of charging fees — but only if you won’t succumb to the sales pitch. They will ask about your risk tolerance (or they should) and talk about various investments. You can learn something from what they tell you if you ask questions but don’t necessarily tie up your money (or at least not all your money in one place).
      6. Avoid annuities.
      7. Find out if your 401(k) or other employer-provided investment options have decent returns, and invest money in the retirement plan if the investment options are good, because there are tax advantages to doing so and you will need a lot of retirement money total to produce income during retirement (think million, not thousands). The younger you are, the more the money will grow. The older you are, the more you will need to put into retirement to get the same return.
      8. Read The Intelligent Investor, by Benjamin Graham.
      9. Don’t park your money with someone who you would be socially uncomfortable firing unless they’re so skilled you would never fire them because they’re better than the Warren Buffett. And if they’re that good, check them out to make sure they’re not running a ponzi scheme like Bernie Madoff’s.
      10. Do not sell when the market takes a dive. Grit your teeth and ride it out. This is scary, and you should discuss it with your financial advisor. Not everything regains full value, but selling at the bottom guarantees you lose money unless you reinvest immediately before the upswing. In order to do this, though, your investments should have intrinsic value (see Graham, above) and they should be diversified, so not all your money is affected at the same time.

      And… I am not a legal or financial professional, I don’t have any basis for this advice other than my limited experience, I have friends who are doing well having gotten annuities and otherwise done things very differently, and I have no idea what your resources, future needs, or risk tolerance are. Managing a retirement account or other investments is a complicated business and there are a lot of risks. I hope you find an advisor who will help you take responsibility and also meet your risk tolerance, but if you don’t, keep reading and keep looking for an advisor who’s a good fit.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, yes, a big bump for “6. Avoid annuities.” Seriously–avoid annuities! There are a couple of acceptable ones, but one is when you’re old (SPIA) and the other is if you have TIAA-CREF (which is weird and arcane but also magical), and those aren’t what people are going to try to sell you. And people *will* try to sell you them because they make the salesfolks a nice chunk of change.

        And I’ve mentioned this before, but if people can’t face reading a whole book, have a look at William Bernstein’s really accessible 12-page pamphlet, which is still available free on his website. Google “William Bernstein if you can” and there’s your pdf.

      2. Artemesia*

        If there is a large estate, it is prudent to split the money and have it managed by two different institutions or individuals. And never invest in anything you don’t understand.

  27. fposte*

    Oh, neighbors. No questions, really, just a vent.

    The neighbors behind me and the ones next to them are a bit eccentric. There’s a big privacy fence between us so we don’t really chat, but I’ve had friendly conversations with them at other times, albeit at least once about asking them to keep some dog noise down (it was received reasonably politely). And now one of them–I’m not sure which one, because it’s coming from between their houses–is running a generator 24/7. It is, blessedly, one of the quieter generators, but it’s still a serious noise (and of course my bedroom is the optimal point for hearing it). And we’re in the middle of town, and odds are this is because they haven’t paid for power or can’t get a power company account any more (it almost certainly costs more than getting power from the utility), and odds are it’s not code. So it’s bugging me because of the noise and also because of the WTH factor. I don’t think I want to do anything at this juncture, but I really wish it would go away. The owner of the house that’s for sale next door to them probably wants it a lot more than I do.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, true. And the dog thing was kind of insane–two dachsies going crazy at each other through a fence at 7 am on the weekends. And the humans next to them for a half an hour doing nothing to quiet them even as it set off the other 4 dogs in their yard. So you’re right that I’d rather have this, but I’m kind of wondering what will come up next.

    1. BRR*

      You could always look up if it’s code and report it.

      But as we say there’s a cost of business there’s a cost for living near people.

    2. Anon333*

      Yikes. My sympathies. Do make sure the generator is far enough away from your house (and theirs!)- it discharges high levels of carbon monoxide that can seep in.

      1. fposte*

        Thankfully it’s too far away for that–to be fair, it’s about as unannoying and low impact as a generator can be in lots our size. It’s just that that’s still pretty annoying.

        1. Artemesia*

          We lived a couple of blocks away from a generator at an office building and at night in particular it used to just drive us nuts with the constant hum. We lived in a quiet place and so do have city noise constantly was a bummer. Now I live a block from a highway and just consider the hum of the road white noise.

    3. fposte*

      Aaaand in a new development it looks like it’s on but not actually powering their power–they were just out with flashlights looking at some outside connections and their house is pitch black. So I guess I know which house it is.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh boy. This is not inspiring confidence. I have a portable generator here. It’s a primitive system that involves running wires through the house. But I know to shut off my circuit breakers so as not to back feed into the grid, if the power goes out. I find it kind of concerning that they are looking at the outside connections.

    4. Windchime*

      I have neighbors who, despite their ability to carry on normal spoken conversations, are apparently profoundly deaf when it comes to being able to hear the barking of their own dogs. They put their two dogs out on the deck and then ignore them for hours. Their barking isn’t just of the “Hey, let me back in the house” variety; it’s frantic and excited and anxious and it used to go on for hours (until I started calling the police* every time it happened). It has gotten better, but it’s still annoying. They are HOME (I can see them walking around inside the house); is it possible that they have truly learned to tune this out and don’t hear it?

      *I live in a country-ish town and calling the police is what you do here. They do respond and if there are enough calls, they will write tickets for breaking the noise ordinance.

    5. brightstar*

      I once had a neighbor who did that. They couldn’t get a utility account and we had to hear that generator going for months. It drove everyone in the vicinity up a wall. Fortunately they ended up moving.

    6. Steve G*

      Well if you were in NYC you’d be able to call the Dept of Environmental Protection (DEP) because non-emergency generators are very regulated….a lot of the suburbs have their own rules….The State also has its DEC, Dept of Environmental Conservation, maybe your state has a similar agency and you can ask them if your neighbor is breaking an emissions rule by constantly running a gen. I’m pretty sure they would be…

  28. Rebecca*

    I’m really excited to try to render beef fat to make tallow for soap making. Some guys in my neighborhood butchered a few cows, and gave me a pile of kidney fat. It’s in my deep freeze now, since I didn’t have time to start the project this weekend, but I should be able to get at least 8 quarts of tallow from the fat.

    1. Vancouver Reader*

      Ooh, that’s so cool! I hear animal fat makes for wonderful soaps and I’m surprised at the reactions of some soap makers that they think it’d be icky. I can understand for vegetarians and vegans, but how did they think people in the old days made soap before palm oil and all the other types of oils became readily available?

      1. Rebecca*

        I have pig lard from another farmer my Dad knows. I make a few batches of lard/lye/water soap for him, and in turn I get lard. The lard is nice and clean, so I can cook with it too.

        When I cut up the beef fat into manageable chunks to freeze, I came across 2 kidneys. That was a bit surprising, and quite the anatomy lesson.

    2. Anonyby*

      That is so awesome! I want to try tallow in soapmaking, but I don’t have a handy resource like that. Instead I’m leaning towards lard for my not-veggie soaps. Unfortunately, there’s a significant chunk of my friend network that are vegetarians, so I have to keep options open for them in my effort to make destashing easy…

      Of course there is one vegetarian friend who has medical reasons, and she’s told me that she can use tallow soaps… Hmmm…

  29. Computer Guy Eli*

    So. I’m a nineteen year old bro and I’ve got a question for you more seasoned vets.

    If my objective was to have the most easy, relaxed lifestyle from 50+, how could I achieve that? To make the question MORE concise; How do I play the stock market? I was really good at the virtual stock market in high school, but really I just put all my money into video game companies right before they launched their new consoles.

    1. fposte*

      You’re not going to like this answer :-).

      Don’t play it. You’ll lose. It’s like going to the track, except it’s like there are people who can see the horse race before you can in amazing slow motion and can instruct the jockeys and change their bets during the race. The reason women statistically do better in investing than men is they don’t futz around with their money once they put it in. I’ve sent somebody upthread to the Bogleheads–go have a look.

      So basically I’d say don’t bet on beating the race–follow the Warren Buffet advice, sock your money into inexpensive index funds and keep socking, and stay with the race instead. You’ll beat 90% of investors doing that, especially if you avoid paying fees that’ll eat up your return.

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        Alright. I getcha. Invest in J&J and the safe stuff, then just keep it in forever?

        Isn’t that kind of like just putting money into my 401k? Or whatever the thing is that my company matches me for?

        1. fposte*

          Nope–invest in total stock market index funds, not individual stocks, unless you’re already got plenty put away and you want to gamble. If you own a total stock market fund, you own J&J in there anyway. You’re not trying to cherry pick, you’re just going with the flow, and the flow, historically, always takes you higher in the end.

          And yes, it’s like putting money in your 401k. Which is what you should be doing before investing in taxable space anyway :-). If you want to play, allot 5% tops to it after you max out your tax-advantaged space.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Accessibility and taxes differ between a 401k and a straight investment.

          A plain investment, such as a few stocks, can be cashed in at any point and you have to watch what you are doing for tax purposes because you will probably have to show the transaction on your 1040 for the year. This is an over-simplified explanation- but the idea is that 401ks are a long term thing.

          You can invest in a fund or just buy particular stocks. Many advisers recommend a fund so they can make money- did I say that? No, so that you spread out your risk, which is a legit concern.

          1. fposte*

            You don’t need an advisor to buy funds–there are plenty of solid companies like Vanguard, Fidelity, Schwab, etc., that are perfectly happy to sell you mutual fund or ETF shares.

            It’s not just that you have to show that you cashed in a stock or a fund in a taxable account, it’s that you have to pay taxes on how much it’s grown since you bought it. (You can also “harvest” a loss, but that’s a bit more complicated.) Of the tax-advantaged space, the Roth IRA is particularly brilliant because you pay your taxes when you put your money *in*, and all the growth it makes is completely tax free–the $5500 you put in this year that grows to $100k over your lifetime gives you $94.5k tax free. (There are cases where a Roth IRA isn’t actually desirable, but the tax-free thing is insanely advantageous if you’re young and in a low tax bracket.)

      2. the gold digger*

        The one good thing I learned in my finance class in grad school is that the only way to beat the stock market is to cheat. And most of us don’t have the information to cheat. (And the one time I thought I did, I lost $5,000. That’s what I get for being greedy.)

      3. Anna the Accounting Student*

        This. I took Financial Economics last semester and I just started Investments. Do NOT buy stocks individually (at the very least, keep individual stocks to a tiny, tiny percentage of your portfolio). Best option is to put most of your investing money into index funds — keep in mind that there are index funds from outside the U.S. — and leave it there. And whenever you change jobs, roll over your 401(k) from OldJob into the one from NewJob. Oh, and you’re absolutely nuts if you fail to take advantage of any 401(k) matching you’re eligible for.

        TL;DR: go with index funds. Warren Buffet wouldn’t be so famous if stock picking were easy.

      4. Anonyby*

        Oh yes.

        And it used to be that stocks in ultilities were steady growers, and the conservative advice was to invest in them. Nopenopenopenope. My grandfather started self-investing accounts (or whatever they’re called-I’m blanking) for all of his grandkids, intended as something to build money for college. We started out with the same number of stocks in the local big energy provider… And it was a steady growing thing all through his life. Then the company went bankrupt right as I was getting ready for college. Overnight a large chunk of my college fund went into the toilet.

        Thankfully I had also been regularly socking money away in a standard savings account, birthdays and Christmas gifts usually included money for college savings. That ended up contributing more to paying off college than the stocks did. I did use most of them for college–but only the reinvested ones. I kept the original sum of stocks my grandfather bought and have been letting them do their thing so they can eventually be a nice financial cushion or be used for a big investment purchase.

    2. Revanche*

      Echoing fposte: don’t play it. It’ll wreck you more likely than not (I’ve seen several of those wrecks first hand and it’s painful when the money lost could not be afforded).

      Best bets to get to that early retirement? Be a high performer, know your value, negotiate raises, bank (and invest) more than you spend. Spend less on crap you’ll only end up throwing out and for stuff you do need, spend on quality so you don’t keep rebuying. Know the difference between needs and wants.
      Any of these should help you get further to an early retirement rather than playing the market.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I had a discussion last week with some people about regrets in career choice. Both of them were saying if they could go back and do it again they would have gone for a career that had a really good pension plan. The one person mentioned someone they knew and their pension was almost $100K/year, the wife’s was almost as much. Up here if you become a teacher, our province’s teachers’ union is one of the most wealthy in the world. Teachers can opt to retire at 55 and they are paid really well until death… but you’d have to teach for ~25 years to get that.

        The funny thing is that the best things you can do for long term wealth are: marry once and stay married (so choose well!), don’t live beyond your means, save money in guaranteed investments. If you’ve got “extra” money you can afford to lose, then sure play the stock market if you wish but like going to a Casino, set yourself a limit for what you want to make/lose and stop when you get to that point. There are a lot of stories out there of people who ruined themselves chasing after the “sure thing” throwing good money after bad or who watched the stock go up and up and up but wouldn’t sell it, expecting it to make even more then it crashed.

    3. Graciosa*

      You’ve gotten good advice about not playing the market – the odds are stacked against you in the long run, and retirement is about the long run. Index funds with low costs are a much more profitable choice.

      To retire at fifty, save early and often. You’re basically in the same position as a 35 year old with no savings who wants to retire in thirty years – the sooner you put money away the better off you’ll be. Look for tax-advantaged savings opportunities first, and really watch for fees that will eat into your money.

      As for playing the market by trying to pick winning stocks – well, I’ll borrow a quote from an old movie from the eighties, Wargames.

      “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

    4. Ann Furthermore*

      Don’t play it. Yes, some people do hit it big, but they are very few and very far between. Slow and steady will get you there. You’re only 19 — that’s a lot of time. The answer is to save. Save every freaking penny you can afford. If/when you can start using a 401(k), put every last cent into it that you can. Now, I’m not saying you need to live on ramen noodles and live in a hovel for the next 30 years, but live well within your means. Don’t rack up a bunch of credit card debt, or buy a bunch of expensive stuff that you really don’t need.

      I’ve got a nice chunk in my 401(k). The more money that’s in there, the more quickly it grows. My company has the funds managed by an investment firm that offers a discount to employees for managing the funds. I went ahead and signed up for it. Theoretically, I could do it myself, but I don’t have the expertise, time, or interest to do it myself. I’ve been very happy with how the funds have performed, so I think my nest egg is in good hands.

    5. Artemesia*

      The big winners in the stock market are the cheaters — Wall Street hoses the small investor — insiders and front runners squeeze most of the juice from the orange. Playing the market is a great way to lose .

    6. Girasol*

      When I was starting out Dad said, “Buy a subscription to the Morningstar mutual funds publication. NOW.” It cost so much I thought, “How is this supposed to SAVE money??” But I did it anyway and started building a diverse portfolio of the funds they recommended as fast as I could save up enough to meet the funds’ minimum buy-in amounts. I’ve managed that portfolio myself over the years. Although I’ve been to financial advisers, in general they’ve said I’m on track, so I still do the management. I’m really happy now, 30 years later, with how that worked out. Mutual funds and Morningstar research would be my recommendation, although now the Morningstar materials are often available free online. It isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme but that means it doesn’t lead to a get-poor-quick outcome either.

    7. AnonAcademic*

      I apologize if I missed an update but I was under the impression you are currently struggling to support yourself + your parents on an entry level salary. I would start by changing that arrangement if your goal is to comfortably retire at 50.

    8. Carrie in Scotland*

      Eli – I remember your post about your mum and dad and the money issue an open thread or two ago.

      Is this question in any way related to that?

      (can’t actually advise on stock market stuff)

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        Fancy it blind-eyed optimism I guess! No matter what happens with my parents, it won’t affect me for more than the next two years.

        I’ll outlive them something fierce.

    9. Clever Name*

      This answer is boring as shit, but really all you can do is get a job and spend less than you make. And save as much as you can. My parents retired as millionaires doing this. My dad used to work for the federal government and my mom worked part time for a family business, so neither of them had high paying jobs. They got a brokerage account with Edward Jones.

    1. GOG11*

      I don’t but quite a few running buddies do and they really enjoyed it and thought it was helpful.

      1. cuppa*

        Thanks! I’ve heard a lot about it being good for toning, but I wasn’t sure if it’s fun, or boring, or super advanced, or whatever.

        1. GOG11*

          The one friend that comes to mind in particular is super fit and does multiple work out programs simultaneously, but others have mentioned it/recommended it, as well. I don’t know if PiYo is the same as regular yoga in this regard or not, but a lot of times yoga allows you to modify poses to fit your skill level. So maybe the level of skill required depends on the poses you try to do/how you do them.

    2. nep*

      I took a class once. For me it was just OK. A nice change of pace for once in a while, but nothing to write home about.

      1. nep*

        Let me add — any way to get the body moving and stretching is great. Especially in challenging but doable stretches and ‘poses’. Great to try it to see if it’s something you like enough to go back to — whatever it takes to exercise consistently.

  30. Ollie*

    Long-time lurker here! I recently applied to an awesome MFA program in creative writing and I’m completely freaking out and I won’t hear back until almost July! On top of it all, a coworker who is an alum of the program ran into the DIRECTOR at a poetry reading and bragged about me! Ahh!

    The program I applied to offers full tuition + stipend for every student accepted. I know it’s not going to get me far career-wise, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do since elementary school, and if I get the chance to do it completely free, why not?

    Does anyone else here have an MFA or consider getting one? What were your experiences with the program?

    1. Suz*

      No experience with MFA, but as long as you’re doing it for the love of it and not expecting it to necessarily improve your career (although with creative writing, maybe it would), you’ll be fine.
      Pretty good that you may get to do it for free!

      Note that you may not always want to mention the MFA when applying for unrelated jobs.

      All the best!

      1. Amtelope*

        I’m not saying the MFA is definitely a bad idea, but I wouldn’t say “if you can do it for free, why not?” These are years in which you could be starting your career. Even if your heart’s desire is to be a poet, you will have to support yourself somehow (writing poetry is not a job you can live on), and when you finish the MFA, unless you plan to pursue teaching/academia as a career, you will be several years behind other people your age in getting job experience. If you decide to go for the MFA, I’d try hard to make sure you get work and internship experience while you’re in the program that will help you get a job when you leave.

    2. MFA here*

      I’ve got one (fully paid by a teaching assistantship, made $12K/year stipend). Led to a low-paying full-time adjunct job and I managed to parlay that into some marketing contract work. What are your goals? You are probably not one of the .05% (made up) who will land a tenure-track job out of the MFA. You will need one or more books to snag those, which is incredibly difficult. If you’re doing it for fun, awesome. If you’re doing it for a teaching career, probably not awesome.

  31. Cruciatus*

    So, some of my gum pockets keep getting bigger. My dentist assures me it’s not my hygiene (I really do floss and brush 2 times a day). Small chance it’s hormonal (I seem to keep going there right before my period starts). I really hate their voice activated computer system. They say aloud every gum pocket measurement so you hear how much your gums are sucking and have to just sit there quietly when I really want to scream “GOD EFFING DAMMIT!” “1, 1, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5” (5s are pretty bad) GAAAAAH! Please just write it down quietly! Ignorance is bliss!

    She wants me to go on a low dose antibiotic for 3 months though I’d prefer not to. I guess it’ll lower my gum inflammation, if indeed I have any. I also had tooth bone loss since last year. I’m 33 so I was not ready for this news. Why the hell do I have bone loss? I have something with calcium at nearly every meal! Has anyone had unexplained mouth issues and came out on the other side with it figured out or at least better? I’m so anxious over this. I also have high blood pressure that no one can really explain. I’m starting to wonder if there’s something off with my body chemistry (or whatever). CBC didn’t show anything but maybe I need further testing? I feel like I make pretty good choices most of the time so it’s frustrating to see nothing seems to actually be helping (exercising for overall health/blood pressure, brushing/flossing, going to bed at a good hour, etc.).

    1. Stephanie*

      Yup, been there. Yeah…the voice activated system sounds rough (I thought the hygenist saying “2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 5, 2” was bad!). Do you have an electric toothbrush? I got a Sonicare and was sure to brush right at my gum line and that helped a ton. I tried a prescription mouthwash and toothpaste for a bit and those helped (the latter was more for problems with recurrent cavities).

      My mom has way more severe gum issues (I’ve managed to dodge the periodontist, but she hasn’t, unfortunately) and also swears by a Waterpik.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I do use a Sonicare. My hygienist also gave me a gum stimulator and these little brush things to slide between teeth/gum. So hopefully ONE of these things work. Oh, and we scheduled my appointment for mid cycle! How many people have to schedule a dentist appointment based on their menstrual cycle!? Hmm, Waterpik. That might be something to at least ask them about. They used this water blaster thing on me that is probably something similar.

        1. abby*

          I have. For the same reason as you. Minor improvement, just enough the stop the hygienist talking about a periodontist. I recently purchased a Sonicare (even though I hate the low-level vibration) and a WaterPik. Next appointment is May, so we shall see.

          1. Cruciatus*

            Mine too! They said if it’s not improved in May I’ll have to do a “deep cleaning” and apparently there are different hour levels for this. She said I wouldn’t need the 4 hour cleaning but that really didn’t make me feel any better at all. I’m thinking a Waterpik is definitely next on my to-buy list…

      2. Cruciatus*

        Oh, and it’s the hygienist saying it to the computer. I think you’ve got it right. I might have said it weirdly. You just lay there while the hygienist says the measurements for the computer system (and sometimes she has to repeat it. “5…5….FIVE, undo, FIVE!”). You think you’re doing OK, then there’s a series of 3s, 4s, 5s and you can’t react, though I was letting it all out through spastic hand movements.

      3. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My dentist had said I have to come for cleanings four times a year now, or else start seeing a specialist, because of this same problem. I’ve been thinking about getting a water pik because good flossing is so important for me now to prevent bone loss.

    2. fposte*

      Ugh, I’m sorry. It’s so annoying to have something like this worrying at you. I think this is part of the turning 30 thread upstream–you start learning that your behavior isn’t enough to control your body. I don’t know about the specific issues, but I know there can be genetic causes for hypertension, for instance. Did you by any chance have any testing for anti-inflammatories, like a C-reactive protein test, when you had the CBC? (Ask your doc about Vitamin D along with the calcium, too–vitamin D is a big player in bone health.)

      I might go to a specialized periodontist on the gum stuff just to get another take, but gum inflammation stuff can be a bugger for overall health, so I would definitely consider the antibiotic trial.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I don’t think I had that sort of testing–just a basic CBC with a diabetes and I think thyroid component. My doc told me nothing seemed out of the ordinary–but maybe with new information something will look off. I do take a vitamin D pill every day, at least since the nights became longer, and a multivitamin daily. I see my doc again for another issue later this month but it appears I will be adding many things to my agenda!

    3. Soupspoon McGee*

      Bone loss could be caused by other factors, one of which is overactive parathyroid glands or underactive thyroid. Essentially, your body is stealing calcium from your bones or failing to store it there. You could be lacking vitamin D, which is essential to storing calcium. There could be a hundred other reasons.

      Low-level antibiotics aren’t a bad idea; I’ve done that and discovered root infections, which led to root canals (ug).

      1. Anon333*

        Agreed on the Vitamin D, and I believe you may want to look into Vitamin K2 too – I believe that when you increase D, you need more K2.

    4. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands*

      I have a long history of periodontal problems. I was able to stop the infections and bone loss but was plagued by deep pockets and recession, in part (they think) from tooth grinding. I think several years on antidepressants, which dry out the mouth, also didn’t help. What finally reduced the pockets was faithful use of a waterpik every night (in addition to manual flossing). It’s a pain, especially when tired, but it works for me. Big caveat: do not ever go past the first, lowest setting!! Seriously. Easy, gentle water flossing on lowest setting. Ask your dentist or periodontist to show you the right way to do it so you don’t do what I did, which was to make the recession worse by overdoing it at first, and make sure it’s okay with him/her before you start.

      This might be too much information, but it might help; my evening ritual is: clean night guard, brush teeth (with manual toothbrush), use tongue scraper, massage masseter muscles to keep jaw muscles relaxed and thereby reduce tooth grinding (see Trigger Point Therapy workbook or look for youtube videos on trigger points for TMJ), do some neck stretches, floss manually, rinse and gargle with salt water, and then water-floss.

      I get my teeth cleaned every three months and my pocket numbers have significantly improved since I added the waterpik a couple of years ago, despite mucho stress in my life. Oh, and my hygienist told me not to use baking soda toothpaste.

      1. fposte*

        Fluoride rinse any use? I have medication that dries my mouth and my dentist put me on Phos-Flur twice a day; it seems to have helped.

        I don’t grind, but last year with the back stuff I started clenching my teeth like crazy; I’ve been working on some self-massage for it, and I didn’t think about looking on YouTube–thanks for the thought.

        1. Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands*

          Thanks fposte! I haven’t taken any meds in years, as they were totally misprescribed for me, so it’s no longer an issue (but gum recession can’t be reversed). I’m pretty sensitive to all those chemical/medicated rinses and avoid them. Which reminds me of something I should have mentioned: Use the softest toothbrush you can find! I order special perio toothbrushes online. Years of using firm toothbrushes when younger, thinking they’d clean better, did some damage, as did years of braces as a teenager. Teeth and gums are my Achilles heel, for sure, so I’m very sympathetic to this problem. There’s a reason good periodontists are so busy!

    5. Sara smile*

      Get thee to a periodontist.

      I have recession and bone loss caused by teeth grinding, over brushing, over-eager orthodontics and most importantly a lower lip frenulum attached too high. My gum pockets are pretty much a 3 all over except in one bad area that had grown to 6s and 7s (thus the too high frenulum). I move frequently and always point out the bad area to my new dentists, who then repeatedly dismissed my concerns (I have excellent tooth health otherwise and am only in my 30s).

      Long story short, I visited a periodontist for an unrelated issue and she went nuts when she saw my bad recession area. Within a week, I was having bone and tissue grafts and having my freneculum cut. The periodontist suggested that I could have lost those teeth within 5 years if I had not had the procedure. In my case, the bone loss is what made the issue so critical. I mentioned to her that my normal dentists never flagged the issue and she said that they just aren’t trained to spot the collection of issues as well as some who is a specialist.

      So yeah, I would suggest seeing a periodontist. If they have no further concerns than your dentist already called out, then there is some piece of mind and if they have greater concerns then even better for having visited. And if you aren’t flossing everyday already, do so. And consider a waterpik but only if you get instruction on how to use it or you can make the problem much worse!

    6. the gold digger*

      I have had five gum grafts in the past year. For years, dentists accused me of brushing too hard. But the oral surgeon laughed and said, Nope, it’s genetic.

      Which makes so much more sense to me. My husband went 20 years without going to the dentist and they couldn’t even tell when he finally did go! Whereas I, even when I was in grad school and didn’t have dental insurance, still paid for my cleanings. I was flossing on the Bolivian altiplano and brushing my teeth with bottled water when my overnight bus from Cochabamba to La Paz was stopped at a truck stop that had no running water. I have taken really good care of my teeth and all they have done is betray me.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, that’s like my sister and me. She’s autistic and not great with dental hygiene. She lucked into essentially perfect teeth (cavity wise) and goes to cleanings and just needs to get the plaque removed. I, on the other hand, have lost count as to the number of fillings I have. And it’s not obvious looking at our teeth–I have straight-ish, white teeth and she has a prominent crossbite. I thought maybe I just had bad habits (I also floss all the time). The last dentist said I just have small, crowded molars. He even asked “Uh, can you get floss back here? Your contacts are so tight!” I said it was a struggle and getting floss trapped there was semi-common occurrence.

    7. Andrea*

      My doctor always asks me about things like magnesium and vitamin C when we talk about calcium. If your doctor and dentist haven’t talked to you about it you are probably balancing your vitamins and minerals just fine for absorption, but I thought it might be worth flagging since apparently it’s a risk in some cases (allergies/vegetarian etc.)

    8. PX*

      Have also had some pocket issues; what worked for me was
      1) being taught how to properly brush your teeth – if your dentist/hygienist hasnt done this shame on them. Basically make sure you hold your brush at about a 45deg angle aiming towards your gums, use many short strokes, and spend enough time on each tooth.
      1a) even though I brushed manually for a long time and got better, a good electric toothbrush is still recommended. I was told anything by Oral B, Braun or Phillips will usually be good enough.
      2) not only floss, but the gum stimulator/between the teeth brushes. Those make a huge difference in cleaning between your teeth which is where a lot of plaque can build up.

      From what I was told once, the antibiotics are usually a last resort, not really to lower the gum inflammation, but hopefully to give you a new set of mouth bacteria. As mentioned by other commenters, the reason why sometimes it doesnt matter how much you brush and still have issues is because everyone has different bacteria and some people are just unlucky in that they have more aggressive bacteria which leads to more teeth issues. So one thing that dentists will sometimes try is to have you go on antiobiotics to kill what you currently have, and hope that whatever come in their place will be more benign (this is an actual science thing; people who have good mouth bacteria can get more attacking/bad bacteria from kissing!)

  32. Jeanne*

    Every time I come to the Ask a Manager website I get a popup asking if the site can use my location. I’m on an ipad. Is anyone else having this problem? Can I turn it off? Why would she need my location after years without it?

    1. Noah*

      Yes, every time I access the site on my iPhone. I assume it is advertisement based. I alway click Do Not Allow. I’m not obsessed with privacy or anything, and I allow several apps to access location services. However, unless there is a benefit to me I generally do not allow it.

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      Yes, it’s happening to lots of us. Alison is aware, it’s apparently to do with a new ad network she’s using. She has said she will try to get them to stop it.

  33. C Average*

    Does anyone here have experience with kids and eating disorders?

    My 13-year-old stepdaughter has recently stopped eating at home. She has never been a breakfast eater, and lately she’s begun muttering “I’m not hungry” at dinner time, and she’s been bringing her sack lunch home untouched. She’s gotten a lot less animated and communicative in general–lots of staring at the floor and hiding behind her hair and sulking and generally sticking her earbuds in and disengaging.

    Her father doesn’t know what to do and neither do I. She very clearly is not interested in talking to us about it, and she’s not open to persuasion. She doesn’t even seem interested in eating things she’s really liked in the past.

    Complicating the matter: she’s had a lifelong phobia/resistance toward doctors and would pretty much have to be dragged bodily to either a physician or a therapist.

    Aside from these recent developments, she’s always been and continues to be a great kid. She’s smart, popular among her peers, kind, funny, and conscientious.

    Her bat mitzvah is coming up next month and, given the pressure she’s already under related to that event, her father and I have agreed we won’t press the issue so long as she is taking in some calories (she’s powerless to resist junk food, and we’re exploiting that weakness by keeping some around) and functioning normally in a physical sense. But once that’s out of the way, I sense there may be some rough roads ahead.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Sugar addiction gone wild?

      When you first started describing it, I wondered if she was experimenting with drugs. But I think you would catch on to that one pretty quick.

    2. fposte*

      I think it’s unfortunately not uncommon. A friend’s niece went through an eating disorder (she would only eat cheese for a long time). Can you guys go to a therapist without her and talk about this?

      1. TL -*

        Seconding this – or call a hotline if you need to for short-term support/planning until the bat mitzah has passed, if necessary. A lot are primed to help close relations as well as those suffering.

    3. cuppa*

      Disclaimer I don’t have experience with teens or eating disorders much, but can someone talk to her? Maybe just, “I’ve noticed you don’t seem to be hungry much anymore, is everything ok?” Maybe she’s nervous about something, or something happened at school, or she’s trying to drop weight before her Bat Mitzvah and going about it in not such a great way, or she’s constipated, or whatever. Opening up a dialogue may help you get on the right path. I hope everything is ok!

      1. Sunflower*

        I would suggest starting here. Eating disorders are often not about being skinny- it’s about feeling helpless and out of control. Not eating or controlling how much and what you eat can often be the only thing a person feels like that have control over.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      This is tough. The only advice I can offer is to find a copy of the book “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. They also have a teen version “How to Talk So Teens Will Listen & Listen So Teens Will Talk” which may be more appropriate to your situation. They are parenting books but I’ve used their advice as a teacher/tutor/babysitter and it has been incredibly helpful. Even the best parents I know could learn something from these authors. Perhaps with some help from their advice you will be better able to listen to her in ways that make her more likely to open up about what is going on for her.

      You could also try talking to her school. Maybe there is a trusted teacher, coach, school counselor, dean, etc. who can talk with her, or at least keep an eye on her.

      1. C Average*

        Thanks for the recommendation. She’s at a slumber party tonight and I am in the process of downloading the audiobook. I’m going to listen to it while I’m working on her tallit. She tends to be more open to talking to me than to anyone else, and I’d love some tips for making sure those communication channels stay wide open.

        (Side note: I’m so excited about her tallit. I’m making a piecework replica of a really beautiful Star of David stained glass window, and the fabric I’m using is from a silk wedding dress made by her great-grandmother, who was the only person in her family to survive the Holocaust. Lots of stories in these scraps of cloth.)

        1. Blue_eyes*

          I hope it helps.

          The tallit sounds beautiful! What an incredible story – and how lovely to feel connected to her ancestors every time she wears it.

    5. Curlicue*

      I’m really sorry to hear about your step-daughter. My daughter was diagnosed with an eating disorder at age 15. We started with her pediatrician who referred us to an eating disorders clinic. She went through an intense out-patient program and had a full recovery. (She is now 21.) She hated me for making her enter treatment but the doctor said it literally saved her life. The treatment consisted of individual therapy, family therapy and group therapy along with nutrition education, cooking classes and even yoga. I hope that it’s not an eating disorder but if it is early intervention is key. From a Mom who has been there and made it to the other side, my thoughts are with you.

      1. C Average*

        Thanks for the firsthand account. I’m so glad you were able to intervene and see your daughter through to recovery. I know it would be a major battle to get her to a doctor. I like the suggestion upthread to talk to a therapist without actually bringing her along–I think that would help us get a sense of whether we should be worried, and how much.

    6. Mephyle*

      I am saying this from the point of view of the classical person who thinks “therapy, not me. I agree it helps other people, but not us.” The psychiatrist saved our daughter’s life, she would have starved otherwise. It was not the usual eating disorder trigger of wanting to be thinner, but rather anxiety: she wanted to eat but she couldn’t make herself take in enough daily calories. I am ashamed to say that it was she who pressed me to take her to be treated. Given that your situation is the opposite, I suggest fposte’s idea of seeking a therapist who will help you, even if it’s without her.

      1. Elizabeth West*


        I have a younger friend who had to be hospitalized for an eating disorder. She’s doing much better now. It’s hard, but this is the kind of thing that really does need professional intervention.

    7. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      This sounds like me when I was about 15. For a whole year I didn’t eat breakfast (easy, since I got myself up and ready for school without any parents around) nor lunch (pocketed my lunch money for makeup and whatever) and just picked around my dinners.

      Is there anything else stressful going on in her life? The bat mitzvah thing might have her quite anxious (speaking in public, maybe a party?), school stuff might be stressing her out, family life might be bothering her, friend stresses and dramas in that area? I was reacting to a particularly painful family situation with a lot of upheaval, and it came coupled with a lot of anxiety and terror about stuff in general. Since she is phobic about doctors/therapists, you may be able to approach this in a sort of roundabout way–does she have any slightly-older female relatives or friends that she’s close to? Cousins, aunts, family friends, etc., who may be closer to her in age? I never wanted to talk to my parents about anything, especially since they were the source of a lot of my stress–and I’m not saying anything against you, just that many times teenage girls can have somewhat troubled relationships with their parents and speaking with someone else can be a thousand times easier. There can be a lot of stuff going on at that age besides the obvious outside stressors. The pressure that teenagers put on themselves can be intense.

      If it continues in the next few months and you don’t see any improvement, a therapist might be in order–but if you do go down that road, you can stress to her that it’s not like going to the doctor (and please try to find a therapist who’s not doctor-like and more “I’m just a person to talk to”-like). But if it goes on a lot longer, don’t just let it go. I was sick and desperately unhappy and what made it infinitely worse was that nobody in my house seemed to notice or care. Keep trying to talk to her.

      1. C Average*

        Thank you for this. There’s absolutely no way we’re going to let things go if this continues.

        I love this kid like she’s my own. When her dad and I first got back together, she was five and I thought she was the greatest kid I’d ever met. (She’d been doing some acting out related to the divorce, and I recall my mother-in-law taking me aside to warn me about her. “No,” I said, “I think she’s terrific, and maybe what she really needs in her life right now is one grown-up who thinks she is not a problem child.” Looking back, I’m so glad I said this and stuck to my guns about forming my own opinions about her. ) She has always been more willing to talk to me than to her mother, and sometimes to her father as well.

        She has reason to be anxious: her mom’s house burned down right before Thanksgiving, and she was the one who discovered the fire and got everyone out safely. I know she has not been sleeping well, and at first she was reluctant to be anywhere but at our house.

        I find she opens up when I’m just around, with the door open, sewing or baking or doing art or cleaning or whatever. She’ll come in, sit down, ask what I’m doing, and we’ll wind up talking about her school or her friends or the book she read or the new band she likes. I need to create some more of those opportunities for us to chat.

        I think you’re spot on that anxiety is at the root of this. I don’t get the impression she’s trying to lose weight. She’s always had a very healthy body image and is not particularly looks-conscious, and her group of friends is similarly well-adjusted in that regard.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Yup, that would do it. A fire like that is a big, major traumatic incident and I’d be willing to bet money that it’s been a huge dark spot in her thinking.

          Does she talk in the car? It can be incredibly easy to open up on long car rides, because you don’t have to look at the other person. Things like that, and what you’ve mentioned–just hanging out, cleaning house or doing chores or whatever–makes it much easier than “Come over here and Let’s Have A Big Talk.”

          It sounds like you’re definitely on the right track with her, but don’t be afraid to reach out to other family or friends if she has a hard time talking to you. Does she have a trusted teacher at school that you could inquire with discreetly to see if she’s been acting any differently at school, too? That might lend some insight.

        2. Saucy Minx*

          Her discovering the fire & saving the family sounds pretty dramatic & stressful to me; also it can trigger thoughts of how much is NOT under a person’s control & due to sheer chance. Add in the terrible losses to the family due to the Holocaust & the upcoming important ceremony, & she certainly might have plenty of weighty things on her mind.

          I see she hangs out/assists at the baking, & I wondered if she pitches in on meal prep. So many kids aren’t in that loop, which again feeds into the control issues. I was the person who made weekday dinners for our family of seven from age 14 through 19, so it meant I could tweak things to suit my preferences on some meals. Just a thought.

          1. Anon for this*

            My house burned down when I was a teenager and the lack of control over that process (where I was living, what I could eat when I was shuffled between hotels and friends’ houses – I was vegetarian and there weren’t many options), among other events, made me turn to food to find control. I couldn’t control where I was living, for example, but I could control what I didn’t eat. I felt like it was one of the only things I could be in charge of and have control over and it became so much more than just food.

            1. C Average*

              looking back, is there anything you can think of that someone could have said or done that would have provided you with some comfort and reassurance? I sometimes worry that my efforts to respect the boundaries of a kid who isn’t my kid prevent me from letting her know just how loved she is.

        3. Editor*

          Does your area have a teen hotline? A couple of hospitals here sponsor one, and I think they give referrals for all kinds of things, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, PTSD, birth control/sexual issues, bullying and so on. It doesn’t have to be the teen who calls. Ask a pediatrician’s office if there’s a hotline or other service for teens in your area. And good luck.

    8. matcha123*

      I don’t know what her schedule is like, but it took me until university to discover that eating early in the morning before school would upset my stomach. My classes started at 8:10ish am for middle school and 7:40am for high school. And it wasn’t until 10:30am or so that eating wouldn’t upset my stomach (but, I only ate that late on the weekends, so I never figured it out).
      Then between classes, trying to find somewhere to sit at lunch, finishing homework, etc. I never really ate lunch and when I came home, I didn’t eat much aside from candy. To make things stranger, I’m the type of person who forgets that I need to eat and drink water.

      So, it may not be an eating disorder, it may be that she’s busy with school things, thinking about something or any other number of things that are distracting her. But, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with speaking with her before the bat mitzvah. Even something like, “I notice you’re not eating your lunch, do you want to switch to something else? I don’t want you to pass out during class.”

    9. CollegeAdmin*

      I had anorexia from ages 13 to 18. I never actually got treatment or what I would call an intervention; when I graduated high school, I realized it would be so much easier to hide at college and I needed to get better before that “opportunity” presented itself.

      I had always been skinny, and it reached a point that I felt it was a huge part of my identity – whenever someone described me, that was the first thing they said. I started to worry that I would somehow gain weight and no longer be “me.” That twisted kind of logic led me to try to limit what I was eating to make sure I stayed small.

      I remember my family and friends kind of dancing around the issue: “Why aren’t you eating anything?” “You should eat more.” No one ever came flat out and said, “I think you have an eating disorder and you need help.” While I think I would have tried to deflect at first, it would have made a difference. That can be tricky; you know your stepdaughter well, so trust your instincts when figuring out if a direct approach would be best.

      I wish you and your stepdaughter all the best going forward, and she is so lucky to have someone who cares as much as you do to help her.

      1. C Average*

        Thanks for this insight. It helps to have a peek inside the head of someone who’s been there.

    10. nep*

      I had anorexia when I was around 15. My parents finally took me to a nearby university medical center for an out-patient programme that involved a social worker and a medical doctor. I got out of the danger zone but it took a long time before I had a healthy relationship with food.
      The reasons behind eating disorders are as widely diverse as the people who get them, of course. And it’s tough to know what to say to the affected person, so as not to trigger more damaging behaviours. (Eg — the more people expressed concern about how thin I was getting, the more I was motivated to stay hungry and get thinner. It truly was like an addiction — one gets a high from not eating and from losing weight. And that’s dangerous territory.) Not saying that’s your daughter’s situation. Just putting that out there.
      Indeed, as bad as it is, junk food better than no food — at least it’s some calories. Be watchful about whether she’s keeping the junk food down and not purging.
      Have you reached out to any local experts just for some guidance, even if just for you and your husband for now? Wishing you all the best.

    11. Anonsie*

      I didn’t really think about it until now, but I definitely had some disordered eating at that age. The thing is that it wasn’t intentional, I was just doing what felt right. I felt nauseated if I ate in the morning, I never wanted to eat my lunch, and I rarely wanted dinner. Periodically I’d get hungry and eat some really heavy snack and then that would be it for the day, but I often went full 24 hour periods without being hungry at all and I would just pick at some snacks here or there since I knew I had to eat something. For what it’s worth, I was often eating at school– just not my packed lunch. A number of people poked into me having a classic eating disorder but since that wasn’t it, it didn’t go anywhere.

      That said I have some big health problems that began as a teen but weren’t diagnosed until I was an adult (pro tip: if you’re not deathly ill odds are good things are gonna get missed, so if you take her to her GP and they just shrug don’t be my mom and assume nothing is wrong) and it was probably related to that. I still do it sometimes but I’ve noticed I am hungrier the more effectively I’m treating my chronic illness and the better I feel over all.

  34. BRR*

    I’m going to the Arenal region of Costa Rica in two weeks for my honeymoon. Any tips? I’ve never travelled internationally but I’m only moderately anxious. My biggest questions are how much to get in their currency and clothing. I’m specifically still looking for light weight hiking pants and read somewhere most locals mostly wear pants but I can’t see myself doing that when its so hot.

    1. the gold digger*

      Don’t buy currency here. Wait until you get there and just use your ATM card to withdraw. You will (probably – most likely) get a better exchange rate. Also, that way you just get cash when you need it instead of carrying around a huge wad.

      Also, tell your CC people you will be out of the country so they don’t turn off the card when they see charges from a strange place.

      Costa Rica is a tropical country, but when you get up into the mountains, it can be chilly. Take black clothes. They don’t show dirt as much.

    2. Lore*

      Also, a lot of tourist centered businesses in Costa Rica accept American dollars or at least did the last time I was there (which was about five years ago). In ye Arenal area, I recommend the La Fortunate waterfall hike as well as the various volcano hikes/tours. If you have time, a detour to Monteverde might worth it–there’s a company that takes you by “taxi-boat-taxi”–really a little bus from Arenal to the lake, then a ferry across the lake, then a bus up to Monteverde. But it’s about a 3-hour trip so you’d probably want to stay a night or two in Monteverde and see the cloud forest.

      1. Anonsie*

        Oh man and if you DO stay in Monteverde for a few nights, go to Bar Amigos and go dancing. It’s so much fun!

        Also, eat at the Soda la Amistad. The food is super good and the family who runs it is so lovely, they took me in like I was their own flesh and blood when I was studying there and couldn’t speak a lot of Spanish.

    3. Anonsie*