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

Olive with ribbonThis 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: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. Basically, picture Jane Austen but in a magical universe. I love this book more than I can convey.

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

{ 1,214 comments… read them below }

  1. Ineloquent*

    Happy weekend everyone! You are an awesome blog community, and it’s great to be a part of it. Way to be classy.

    1. C Average*

      Yes! Such a great community. Cheers to all of you. (I’m literally raising a glass of wine as I write this.)

  2. BW*

    This is an awesome book. I bought a signed copy on eBay and reread it every once in a while. The magical world the author created feels so real because it’s filled with imagery like “a box the color of heartache. Magic actually feels like an ancient study with rich background due to the history the author invents. History of Magic was boring in Harry Potter. Not so in this book.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      There’s a BBC mini-series of the JS&MN coming out later this year. Looking forward to seeing Eddie Marsan as Mr. Norell.

    2. Manderly*

      I loved this book and am looking forward to the BBC series that Jerry mentioned. And I’m envious of your signed copy!

      1. De Minimis*

        That’s one I’ve always been meaning to read and I actually own but I’ve never gotten around to it.

        1. De Minimis*

          Oh, and I’m reading THE EVOLUTION OF BRUNO LITTLEMORE by Benjamin Hale and can’t put it down….it’s one of those books I picked up at random at the library after seeing it on a display shelf.

          Sometimes you find the best books that way.

          1. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

            If you like the Jane Austen but different genre, look up Jo Walton’s Tooth and Claw (maybe a little more Trollope with dragons) and Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey (Austen with magical artwork).

    3. Editrix*

      “Gentlemen are often invited to stay in other people’s houses. Rooms hardly ever are.”
      Best book ever.

    4. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Well, it must be a magical book because I don’t see a title any where and all the replies seem to know exactly what is being discussed. I’m feeling a little left out.

      1. araminty*

        Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke. It’s right there in AAM’s OP. :)

  3. CoffeeLover*

    I have a relationship question for my wise AAMers. Basically, what is your opinion on settling down in your early 20s? I’m not talking about marriage necessarily, but being in a serious, committed relationship. Were any of you in a serious relationship in your 20s that you regretted because you missed out “living life”? Conversely, did any of you end a serious relationship to focus on your career/youth/independence and live to regret that? Looking at it from another perspective, do you think someone in their early 20s equipped to make long-term relationship decisions (like getting married), or do you think it’s better to wait for your 30s+ where you have a better handle on life?

    1. Colleen*

      Got married at 21; still married after almost 25 years. Yes, there are times I wish I would’ve played the field a little more and done things that I cannot do while married (lived alone? Never done it.). But I honestly look at my life, my husband and my son and wouldn’t change a thing. We made the leap (after knowing each other only a few months) and it worked out for us. I know it won’t for everyone, but I have no regrets.

      1. De Minimis*

        My cousin married at 19, they’ve been married almost 25 years now. He’s career military and they’ve been all over the world, he has two twin girls who were born in Italy.

        I didn’t marry till my early 30s.

      2. Revanche*

        I started dating the man I’d marry when I was 21, I think. We got married when I was ~29. We both knew this was it fairly early on, I had just held off because I truly believed I could resolve my family’s financial crisis and wanted to do that before getting married. Many friends have been married since we were 21 and most of them are all quite happy still.

        I think for my cohort a lot depends on mindset and why they’re marrying. Some do it to stop being single and others to have kids and those friends haven’t really enjoyed happy marriages like those who did it to be with that person first, and have kids second.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Made a lifetime commitment in my early 20s. Married 12+ years, together even longer. I do sometimes wonder what my life would have been like if I’d just done random stuff in my 20s, but it isn’t so much regret at having “settled down” too early as much as disappointment that I cannot lead two lives. I’m sure if I’d not “settled down” in my 20s, I’d probably have wondered what would have happened had I done so.

      1. cuppa*

        This is the perfect distinction for me. I got into my relationship at 20, married at 25. I’m now in my early 30s, and sometimes feel like this. However, I’m really happy with my choice, and I know there’s no reason for me to have given up 10 years of happiness for random things with no security. I am now working to find ways to explore those ideals with my husband and get the best of both worlds.

    3. Florida*

      I think it depends. Some people in their 20s are equipped to make long-term relationship decisions. Some people in the 40s and 50s are not. There are pros and cons to both ways.

      I ended a serious relationship in my 20s because I wanted independence. I do regret that. But who knows? If I had stuck it out for several more years, I might have regretted that as well.

      I think it is hard to give a blanket answer on this because so much depends on the two people involved. I’m old enough to remember reading Ann Landers in high school. When people would write in about marital or relationship problems, she would always say, “Are you better off with him or without him?” I think that’s a good question. If you’re life is better because of this person, than who cares about what you are missing. Whatever decision you make, you will always be missing out on something. I would say focus on what you have. If you focus on all of the possibilities you don’t have, you will always be unhappy.

      Also, if this decision affects your partner (which it does), it’s not a bad idea to discuss it with that person. Good luck.

    4. VintageLydia USA*

      Met my husband at 18, we were married at 23, and we’re 29 now. I really don’t feel like I missed out on much, tbh. I do sort of wish I dated around a bit because non-serious dating seems fun, but I really wouldn’t trade my husband and son for the world.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      P.S. I have a number of friends who “settled down” in their early 20s and then divorced by their late 20s or early 30s and then lived the stereotypical single life before “settling down” once again.

    6. Kristen*

      My boyfriend and I started dating when we were 28 (we’re now 35). I sometimes wish we had met earlier, because we’re at a point now when we want to start a family and it seems like we’re running out of time to do the adventurous stuff we like to do (e.g., we still haven’t gone backpacking or on the canoe trip we’ve been talking about). We have been able to go on snowboarding trips, but there are more we’d like to take and we know throwing a baby into the mix will make things more difficult.

      I think whether someone is equipped well enough to make long-term relationship decisions in their early twenties is dependent on the person. I know I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have enough experience to know what I was looking for and ended up wasting time with duds. I could see, however, that some people might be ready.

    7. Oh anon*

      I’ve been with my SO since I was 18, we’re going on 12 years together. I don’t feel like I missed out at all. I still lived on campus during a couple years of college and had my own apartment for a time too. I’ve never been one to party or be wild, so settling down felt right to me.

    8. blackcat*

      My husband and I started dating when I was 19 (he was 22), married at 25 & 28.

      It’s been an issue since we’ve both ended up going down an academic path. We’ve had to live apart a fair amount, and there’s been a lot of career/school compromises made on both sides. For each of us, we decided that building a life together was the most important goal–more important than any career goal. I think knowing that those compromises will have to be made is an important part of starting a relationship so young. (If one of you wants to eventually stay home with kids, I think that’s a different situation.) At the same time, it’s been great to have a partner/cheerleader through everything. Being committed has meant that there’s always been some financial cushion that we wouldn’t have had individually–it’s made traveling easier, which is something we both love. One of the upsides of the dual academic path is that we’ve both lived in and traveled to places we wouldn’t have otherwise visited as a result of our careers. So I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on living life–if anything, it’s been easier to do with a partner. We’ve been able to grow together, but I’ve known other couples on a similar timeline to us who grew apart–and we’re still young! Late 20s/early 30s now.

      I’ve come to view the “settling down” threshold as producing tiny people. That’s the big step that is starting to dramatically change the lives of our friends. We may have kids eventually, but we’re waiting for career stuff to settle down a bit more. It also helps that we’re not dead set on having kids, so if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        “Being committed has meant that there’s always been some financial cushion that we wouldn’t have had individually–it’s made traveling easier, which is something we both love.”

        So true. As long as they align (travel, house, kids, fancy cars) it’ll only be that much faster in getting to your goals.

    9. Treena Kravm*

      Short answer, I definitely think someone in their early 20’s *can* be equipped to make long-term decisions. It just depends on that person’s emotional development and maturity.

      For me, a serious relationship is more than just monogamous + long-term. Serious means “It’s real possibility that I might spend the rest of my life with this person.” And dating after that point is just giving yourself time to make sure that’s true before actually getting married/buying a house/having a kid/etc. It really boils down to how you feel about your partner, how conflicting a relationship with them and the other goals in your life are, and how you want to balance those.

      For me, I met my husband when I was 21 and we were married less than 4 years later. But we knew we were getting married about a year and a half in and the delay stemmed from waiting for me to graduate college, saving for the wedding, and moving twice for my career. But we didn’t get married after I started my career so that I could focus on my career, we just wanted an expensive wedding so we had to wait to pay for it.

      To be fair, before I met my husband, I had lived in 3 countries, travelled to about 10 more, and was officially over my party phase. So I felt like I had “lived” enough to be sure. And also, I’m incredibly lucky that there is literally nothing that I can’t do now that I’m married vs. being single.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        I would love to hear about your travels! I always want to hear from folks who had the opportunity to travel and live in other countries in their 20s. For financial reasons, I never got the chance to do that – specifically living abroad and including study abroad – so I live vicariously through others.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          It was all during school, and I did pay a pretty penny for it. Or I should say, I’m still paying it off via student loans. I basically had my monthly budget of 1,000 euros, and I would cut corners as much as possible and then save up for a weekend trip using RyanAir or Easy Jet. School schedules also put you conveniently in the cheapest times to fly trans-Atlantic (to Europe in fall, back in spring). I was hoping to spend some time in France this summer and I almost threw up at the price of a roundtrip ticket (over $1,200!!) I used to pay $400-500 for my roundtrips, even if that was 7 years ago.

    10. Clever Name*

      I got married at 21. Now nearly 15 years later, I don’t regret it at all. I’m really not a “play the field” type. I don’t make friends easily, so it’s kind of a miracle my husband and I met in college. I’m really enjoying traveling and experiencing life with my partner and our son. We’ve traveled internationally together, and I enjoy doing new things as a family. We look forward to traveling even more in retirement. Getting married shouldn’t be a choice between having the life you want and settling down. There’s a lot to be said for adventuring through life with a partner.

    11. BRR*

      Totally depends on you and your situation. I met my husband at 24 and got married at 28. We met while we were both in grad school. I kind of wish I got to try dating in a larger city and while a young professional but it wasn’t worth it to dump him just so I could try dating a little longer.

      1. blackcat*

        See, everything I hear from my single friends about dating makes me grateful I never did it post college.

        Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

        1. Natalie*

          When I was single with all couples friends, I mostly told the bad or funny stories because they were more interesting and encapsulated. “I had a good date; we’ll see how it goes” doesn’t register quite like “you will not believe this guy” stories. Maybe I just got lucky, but I bet if you asked my friends, their impression of my dating life would skew a little more negative than my own thoughts. YMMV.

          1. blackcat*

            Oh, my friends are mostly struggling to find long-term dating partners. Now my late 20s, some of my friends are getting REALLY stressed about the fact that they haven’t found someone they want to marry yet. And that stress seems to be…. well, stressful. I have acquaintances who are happily single/enjoying dating, but somehow, such people are underrepresented among my close friends (everyone is either hitched or single–no in between).

        2. Sunflower*

          Dating is definitely much much harder after college but it’s really about changing demographics, not changing people. Dating in college is so ridiculously easy. You’ll never be in another environment with so many people at the same age and education level after college. In college, you spend so much time with so many different people, go out a lot more, have a ton of free time.

          Then you start working and the simple act of trying to find a night where you are both available is a headache. Sure it’s partially that I know a little more now about what I’m looking for and my dealbreakers are more firm but my problems lay much more with finding people to date, not with the people I do date.

        3. BRR*

          I wish I could have tried but it probably would have been terrible. Do people enjoy dating around? I find all of my dates were awful (please don’t lie about doing cocaine in the drag queen dressing room, you’re not fooling me).

          1. Sunflower*

            Depends how you look at it and what you’re looking for. I’m trying to be laid back about dating. I try to go into it thinking ‘let’s just see what this person is like’ not ‘do i see myself with this person’. I feel like I get a lot more out of dating this way. I’ve discovered a lot more about the kind of lives people lead that I wouldn’t have necessarily thought existed before.

            I enjoy it in the sense that I’ve met a lot of really different people. Through that, I’ve gotten closer to realizing what I want and what I don’t want in a partner.

          2. Treena Kravm*

            I love dating around! Sure, there are jerks and weirdos, but if you look at it with humor, it becomes a fun story.

    12. Natalie*

      In my experience, the risk of partnering in your early 20s is that most people change a lot between 20 and 25 or so. Inertia can be a really powerful factor – my ex and I probably would have stayed together half as long if we hadn’t been living together and domestically partnered (we got together when I was 21). That’s not to say it doesn’t work for lots of people, just something to consider. If you find you’re resigning yourself to your relationship, that’s not good.

      I’ll also point out that there’s nothing about marriage or partnership that requires “settling down”. It’s easy to forget that the choices people frequently make after marriage (living together, buying a home, having kids) are just that – choices. Very little is required, some tax laws aside.

      1. BRR*

        This is a good point. Part of the change for my relationship has been both of transitioning from students to working adults.

      2. Elkay*

        In my experience, the risk of partnering in your early 20s is that most people change a lot between 20 and 25 or so.

        I was thinking about this today and I think it can go both ways. You can sometimes find that you grow up together so you end up in the same place. Last weekend we were discussing how when we first got together (early 20s) we’d be out until 2am every Saturday now we’re more likely to go out for dinner and be home by 10pm, neither of us pushed for that to stop happening it just did over time as we got older.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          Yea, I was talking to my husband about this last week. When we met, I was 21 and he was 28. I didn’t really think about it at the time, but now I’m realizing he must have seen me grow up a lot. I asked and he said he couldn’t come up with anything specific that he noticed. Although he had been living alone and had a solid career for years, he definitely grew too. I really think we did grow together, despite being at different stages when we met. We’ve pushed each other to be better–not in an “I insist” kind of way, but just by inspiring each other to be better.

        2. Natalie*

          Right, that’s the risk (rather than a surety). You might grow in similar ways – clearly a lot of people here have coupled up young and everything is awesome. And you might not.

          1. OriginalEmma*

            I wonder if growing up/maturing while paired is affected by the observer effect? The act of pairing fundamentally changing the outcome of maturation vs. maturing as a single person. Different circumstance, different forces at play and all that

        3. cuppa*

          Yep. I was engaged before I met my current husband, and the demise of our relationship in part was because I grew up and he didn’t. I met my husband and we seem to have both grown together. It’s pretty neat to watch. (We used to go out at midnight; now we’re usually home by then, etc.)

        4. Caroline*

          Oh definitely. My husband and I really grew up together. We were 16 and 19 when we met. Looking back, I see that were such babies then (compared to the people we are today), it’s sort of mind-boggling.

          I think there can be a lot of benefits to growing up together, but it isn’t always easy, and is not always in your control. We’ve made a lot of choices to direct our growing up together rather than apart, but I do think that sometimes, people grow up and apart in ways that aren’t controllable. That said the beauty of growing up together is who knows you better than the person who knew and loved you before you were fully formed, when you were still basically a kid, and watched you grow up? And you watch them grow up too, and you have this deep shared core of experience. But sometimes people do grow apart instead of growing together. I think the advice below about waiting until at least your mid-twenties for kids even if you meet young is sound (although if you had told 20 year old me that, I would have yelled and screamed at you in my head).

    13. Anonymous for this*

      “Conversely, did any of you end a serious relationship to focus on your career/youth/independence and live to regret that?”

      I ended a relationship as an older teenager to focus on youth/independence/school/career. I don’t regret ending it at all. It was a horrible relationship. I do regret avoiding dating anyone else afterward. It didn’t really do me any good, and dating seems impossibly weird when you’ve been out of it for nearly 10 years.

    14. JMW*

      Relationships are an important way we learn about who we are. Committed relationships are especially valuable mirrors. I was married early 20s, and divorced after 7 years with no regrets because I learned so much in the relationship. Married again at the end of my 20s and still married 27 years later.

      What we advise our children who are in their early 20s is not to have children too early. People change a lot in their 20s, and you want to be over that hump and still committed to one another before you bring kids into the picture.

      1. jamlady*

        This seems to be a trend. We married young but are now in our mid and late 20s with plans for children still a few years out (at least). It’s not so much partnering young as it is becoming a parent young. Not that people regret that, but with regards to the OPs question, it’s not the partner that totally changes everything, but the kids.

    15. Andraste*

      I met my partner when I was 23, while I was in grad school. We dated long distance for awhile (100 miles apart). When I graduated at 25, my main goal was to be in the same place as him, job search came second. I know a lot of people would call that crazy–I put a lot of time and effort into that degree, why him first? But for me, it’s just what made sense. I do want a career, but I also want a family and all that comes with it. I don’t want to prioritize my career over things that I feel matter more, over people. I wanted to be with him and that was the right choice.

      Not going to lie, finding a job that makes me happy in his small town has been a struggle. I realize I could be doing better jobwise somewhere else. But I haven’t felt a moment of regret. He’s very supportive of me figuring out the job stuff, even if it’s off to a bumbling start. We are going to work this out, and I’m so glad we get to do it together. There’s no doubt in my mind that if I had chosen career over him, I’d regret it.

      I’m only 26 now so I don’t have a lot of distance on this yet, but like I said, I’m so happy with my choice. I think in your 20s while everyone’s just starting out it’s easy to look around and envy people who seem more settled in ways that you don’t. I get career envy sometimes because I feel like I don’t have it figured out yet. But I also have friends whose careers I envy tell me they’re jealous of me because of how solid my relationship is, because that’s something they want but don’t have yet. It’s very easy to want the things you don’t have, but instead of making comparisons or trying to figure out what you “should” do, I think the best thing is to shut out the noise and focus in on what you really want. Not what other people think you should have, not what you think you “should” do, but what you WANT.

      Good luck. :)

      1. CoffeeLover*

        We were in very similar places, but made opposite choices. I didn’t mention this in the question because I feel like it’s a different issue, but me and my guy are also long distance. I recently graduated and chose career over relationship. It was a bit more complicated for me because we live in different countries with different languages. So the chances of me being able to move with zero working experience and find a job (any job) was pretty abysmal. Instead, I found an amazing job (fantastic start for my career) where I live. It’s a company that would allow me to relocate internationally quite easily, so my intention would be to move to him after a couple of years. It still means we’ll be apart for 2years with an ocean between us and not a lot of chances to visit each other. I don’t regret choosing the career (at least at this point) because I know myself enough to know I wouldn’t be happy uprooting myself with only him to support me (financially, intellectually, emotionally, etc.).

        I’m definitely trying to figure out what I WANT. I’m planning to talk to him about it, but I’d like to get my own thoughts organized before going there. It’s helping to hear what you all have to say. Not because any of you can tell me what would be the right choice, but because it gets me to think of different aspects. I especially like the points some of you have made that life doesn’t end when you settle down with someone. That there’s a lot of living you can do together.

        1. Andraste*

          Ah yeah, international long distance really complicates things. For us, it was just across state lines. Moving to be with him meant moving to the same town I’d went to undergrad, so it was familiar, and I’d be closer to my family, which is a plus in my case. But international makes it a lot harder, and moving to him in your situation is a lot higher stakes than moving in my situation. International moves are very expensive, and you don’t have much of a safety net if things don’t work out. I think caution and making sure you have everything in order before you decide to make an international move, if you decide to, is a smart thing. Just personally from having done it, I don’t think long distance relationships can survive distance indefinitely. I think it’s important for you as a couple to have an end point in mind. But if you’ve done international this long, a few more years is something you can do as long as you are planning for it and both parties are willing to work through it.

          1. TL -*

            I think some couples can do long-distance indefinitely, but it’s more a case of two people finding that a less traditional relationship (in terms of face time/space) works well for them, rather than two people trying to make a long-distance relationship work indefinitely while preferring a more traditional relationship.

        2. Caroline*

          That’s tough. I do think that 2 years or so long distance is fairly do-able in this day and age, and for me, not a reason to break off a good relationship (mostly because I’m glad we did long distance for our 3 years, and got to where we are now). But to be honest, I think that a long distance has more of those pitfalls of not “living life” than being together does. When you are in a long distance relationship, it can be hard to balance going out into the world and living life, and talking to your sweetie on the phone and skype at home lots. It’s a hard balance, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to do it for a lot more than 2 or 3 years, but for me, for 2-3 years it was worth it. But that’s so individual.

          I definitely think life doesn’t have to end when you settle down though. Think about the things you want to do that you feel like you can’t settled down, and I’d be willing to bet that you can do ANY of them you want with a long term partner, it’s just a matter of how you define your relationship. Certainly, travel, big career moves, and wild adventures are still possible. Even, if it works for both of you and you communicate them, a long term partner doesn’t HAVE to mean the end of living alone, sleeping with other people. Co-habitation and monogamy are conventional, not required, parts of a committed relationship. They’re optional. I can’t think of anything at all that you definitely could not do in a committed relationship than you could without one, but it sometimes might take a LOT more communication.

    16. Sevda*

      When I was 22, a boyfriend and I moved in together after 3 months of dating; we were together for about two years. I’m glad I had that “settling down” experience so young because I learned SO much that I’ve continued to take with me into my subsequent relationships (I’m 28 now). I think I was equipped to make the decision at the time, but I also went into it with the explicit understanding that we wouldn’t be getting married any time soon (but hopefully sometime down the road).

    17. Finny*

      I met the now-husband at an anime con in Toronto when I was 22 and he was 30. Got married at 25. I’m now 33 and he’s 40, and we wouldn’t do anything differently.

    18. Erin*

      I met my husband when he was 18 and I was 20. We got married 3 years later and have been married 12 years. We met in England when I was on a student visa (I’m American) so there was some external pressure to get married when my student visa ran out, so I can’t say if we would have married that young otherwise. But it worked out! We have two kids and another one on the way, hopefully any day now.

    19. Aussie Teacher*

      Met my husband at 23 and married him when I was 24 (he was 27). Been married 10 years now with 3 small kids, and I don’t regret a thing :)

    20. Persephone Mulberry*

      Hubby and I started dating at 17/18 and yesterday was the 17th anniversary of that date (yay, us!). We had a kid at 20 and married at 21 (connect the dots there), and looking back sometimes I’m amazed our relationship survived our 20s. But as Colleen, Anonymous Educator and maybe some others replied, I don’t regret it at all, just sometimes wonder what my life would be like if I had chosen a different path.

      1. blue_eyes*

        My husband’s great aunt and uncle had an accidental pregnancy and shot gun wedding when they were 20/21. We celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last spring.

    21. INTP*

      I know this is an annoying answer, but it really, really depends on the person.

      For me personally, it would have been a terrible idea. I’m 28 and haven’t had a serious relationship since I broke up with my high school on-and-off boyfriend when I was 21. I’m not really one for recreational monogamy – I had flings, some of which lasted for a year or more, but I’m not one to say “Okay, we are boyfriend and girlfriend in an official relationship” until I’m at a point where I’m ready to make you some sort of priority in my life. I’ve only recently come to a point where I could even fathom prioritizing someone over adventure, and I’m not yet at a point where I can fathom prioritizing someone over career. I did a lot of life-living in my early 20s (from 18-23, if you count staying somewhere for a semester as living there, I lived in 2 US states, 3 countries/2 hemispheres, and 6 cities). I have zero regrets about not prioritizing relationships, mild regrets about not prioritizing my finances.

      However, I don’t look at everyone else who settled down at that age and see people who settled and missed out on life. I think what’s important is being really honest with yourself about what you want. Most people probably have some idea even in their early 20s if they really introspect about it instead of just internalizing the assumptions of everyone around them. I think if you really want something in life, the possibility of missing out on it will be like a deep pain in your (metaphorical) gut. The caveat is that if you’re both ambitious about other things too, like career, then you might need to be willing to endure some long-distance periods or other annoying things. If you’re mature enough to settle down in your early 20s, though, you’re probably mature enough to handle being long distance for a year for someone’s job or whatever.

      1. la munieca*

        “I’m not one to say “Okay, we are boyfriend and girlfriend in an official relationship” until I’m at a point where I’m ready to make you some sort of priority in my life. I’ve only recently come to a point where I could even fathom prioritizing someone over adventure, and I’m not yet at a point where I can fathom prioritizing someone over career. ”

        Fellow INTP here. You captured my 20’s as well in the excerpt above. I had some great relationships in my 20’s, but as soon as they required any kind of sacrifice – or, let’s face it – compromise, I was out of there. At 29, I met my husband and was like, “oh, I get why people do this” and got married 1.5 years later. My appetite for adventure and an interesting career still exist and I have little fits from time to time when I can’t follow all of my whims, but he gets it and we find ways to satisfy my wanderlust.

      2. RFWL*

        This was a nice comment to see because I spent most of my 20s like this. Had a serious boyfriend from 18-21 and then figured I was missing out on something in life and broke it off. Good thing I did because he turned out to be a raging asshole. It took me a long time to settle down again (28) with one person in particular, but I got whatever was bothering me out of my system, lived some life, lived my own life, lived alone etc. Now I’ve been shacked up with the same guy for 10 years and while the concept of marriage give me the heebies, I figure if we are happy the way things are, then there is no reason to change it for the sake of a piece of paper (although really, it would make my immigration status clearer since we are in a third country and I am dependent on his status here).

        To be honest, I do sometimes look askance at folks who settled down in their early 20s because I have also known plenty of people who went nuts in their late 20s and decided they were missing out, causing a lot of grief and monetary loss along the way. To me it seems like such a lot of hurry to finish school and do the house thing when there are decades to do that anyway, why not take a few years to really get to know yourself? However, everyone knows themselves best and if you feel like you have done the living you want to do by 21, then that is fine too. Everyone has different comfort thresholds and ambitions – mine just took me far away from what I suppose is “the norm”.

    22. blue_eyes*

      As others have said, it really depends on the people. My husband and I met when I was 21 and he was 19. Married at 27 and 25 (about 1.5 years ago). I can’t tell you how everything will work out in the long term, but for now I’m happy with our choices and wouldn’t have changed them. I’ve especially appreciated having a committed partner during the last year while we’ve both been through periods of un(der)employment.

    23. Not So NewReader*

      I think a person should do what is right for them. People tend to know which road they want to take- they want to be “free” to have a bunch of life experiences or they want to find someone solid and settle down. I don’t think there is a right answer. I do think if your relationship feels like you are jamming a size 8 foot into a size 6 shoe, you might want to take some time out and figure out what you do want.

      I met my hubby just before my 19 birthday. I was not looking for a husband, ironically. But I met this rock solid person who valued some of the same things I valued. I caught myself thinking, “I will go along time before I see this, again.” That thought was odd, because I was not looking for a marriage or even a long term relationship. We were together 25 years when he passed.
      Relationships take a lot of work. But so does living the single life. Just because the effort is in different areas, does not make it less work. Both roads of travel are a lot of work. I think you catch yourself thinking things like “Whatever comes up in the future, we will just figure it out together and get through it” are hints about where you are at in your heart and mind.

      FWIW, I hate, hate, hate when people judge others for marrying to young, or not being married. MYOB, I say. People tend to pick what is right for them. We don’t have to understand the choice, only they have to understand their choices.

      Cute story: One couple in my family, knew each other for six months. They got married. It lasted until one of them died…. 55 years later. There is no set way that works for everyone.

      1. INTP*

        Totally agree with your first paragraph – even in their early 20s, most people have a gut sense of what is most important to them. Just don’t let other people make you question it.

      2. CoffeeLover*

        I really like your point that both being in a relationship and being single takes work. That’s very true and something I’m only recently realizing. Previous to this relationship, I was the strong, independent woman that didn’t need no man ;). There’s a lot of security and support being in a good relationship brings that I couldn’t appreciate before.

    24. vox de causa*

      I was in a serious relationship for several years in my 20s. We got engaged. It ended badly and I spent a while regretting that I wasted some prime years that way. It wasn’t that I missed out on living life, but that I invested time into something that didn’t turn out.

      Later I came to realize that it wasn’t really a “waste” in that it helped shape who I am today, and I like who I am. I found my spouse later and after 10 years of marriage I’ve realized I probably wasn’t really ready for marriage that first time around anyway.

      1. Natalie*

        That’s the hard part, I think – you might regret something but you can never really know if it was actually a mistake. We can’t play out the alternate scenario, so we never know if it would be better, same, or maybe even worse. Given that, what I take from my now ended partnership is the same as yours – it shaped me a lot as a person.

    25. Mal*

      I think it varies from person to person. I met my husband when I was 19, he was 25. We got married when I was 23, he was 29 and we’ve been married for three years. We’re vaguely planning on having a baby in two to five years. My husband had lived alone and had a career before we met and I think he needed that time. Personally I’ve always felt older than I am(only child syndrome? ;) ) and still don’t feel like I “missed out” on anything by marrying young. I’m really happy, we have a great life and enjoy our marriage very much.

    26. Sunflower*

      Like most people have said, everyone is different. I’ve always been pretty unsure about most things in my life- always the type to have to try things to see if I like them. On the flip side, I have friends that have the same wants and dreams they had when they were 12. Relationships in general depend a lot on similar values. In the past, when I found myself not interested in great guys who were very confident in what they wanted, I thought i was just scared. But we just had different values. The way that some people freak out about being x age and not married is the way I freak out about being x age and not doing everything I’ve always wanted to do.

      I never ended a serious relationship to enjoy my freedom but I made sure to not let any relationships get serious so I’d always have it. Both guys I dated in college I did not get serious with because I had no clue where I wanted to go after college and I committed to myself that that decision would be mine and not influenced by anyone else. I don’t regret it but that doesn’t mean that I would regret it if I had let the relationships seriously flourish.

      My roommate was in a serious relationship from age 20-27. When they broke up, she felt like she wasted all of her twenties on him. My best friend in college dated her boyfriend the whole time. When they broke up, she was mad she wasted her entire college time on him. The one thing they had in common is they both knew they wanted to break up with their boyfriends long before they did. Both of them stayed for YEARS longer than they wanted to. They regret was more over spending more time with them after they knew they didn’t want to.

      Maybe it’s just my personality but I’m the kind of person who wants to do and see everything. I want to experience it all. From the outside looking in, I’m 26 years old, dated around a lot and never been in a serious relationship. A lot of people would think that I’ve ‘done it all’ in the dating sense but I don’t feel that way at all. In my mind, there’s still so much more I could do.

    27. C Average*

      Not gonna lie: I met my soul mate at 35, married him at 37, and thank my lucky stars on a regular basis that I didn’t settle down in any of the serially monogamous relationships I had in my late 20s and early 30s. The people I dated then were lovely people, but I was still choosing boyfriends for the wrong reasons: looks, quality as rock-climbing partners and ski buddies, amount they appeared to dote on me. It was all very immature. The person I married is my match in intellect and my better in integrity. He is the best human being I have ever met. I wouldn’t have looked at him twice when I was younger. A bald Jewish engineer with two kids from a previous marriage? No way. And I would have missed out on by far the best relationship I’ve ever had.

      Of course, I knew i didn’t want kids, so there’s that.

      1. anon for this*

        This is how I feel about the man I met at 22 and married at almost 25 – “the best human being I have ever met”. I had to grow up to realize there was so much more to a person. And, honestly, my younger and more stupid self would never have looked at him, as he was beginning to bald at age 29 and just did not look “hot”.

    28. Felicia*

      I am now in my mid 20s (25) and have never had a serious relationship yet i have also never had those “youthful” desires people talk about needing to have. I mean i want to travel and i have somewhat by myself, but I’d love someone to travel with…and i think those things are hard when you have kids, but not really any harder as a couple. I am happy i have experienced living alone, but I’m kind of sick of it already. I don’t like going out to bars or clubs, and I’ve tried dating casually on and off and i hate it. It’s a lot of work! I have felt very ready to “settle down” the past 3 years or so, but i haven’t because it’s also important to find the person you want to spend your life with, which i havent found. So I think the questions you have to ask yourself are, are you ready to spend your life with a single person? (i don’t like the term settle down, because I am soooo settled down, as are a lot of the other early-mid 20s single people i know.), and then Have you found the person you want to spend your life with ? Even if you are ready that doesn’t matter if you’ve found the person.

    29. Mephyle*

      No need to repeat what everyone else has said; “it depends.” Comments have been made about how much people change in their early twenties, but that, too depends on the people – some seem to be “born mature” and others never achieve some of the characteristics of adulthood even in later decades. Others do that swift, sudden change at a different age.
      Some couples grow up together, and others grow apart as they grow up.
      Here’s my anecdote: we met at 23 (me) and 27 (him), fell into a relationship immediately, married 3 years later. We had planned (for no particular reason that I can recall) to start a family after 4 years of marriage, and we did. Now married 31 years.

    30. Kyrielle*

      I’ve been with my husband – not necessarily married – since we were in college; at 22 we moved in together (renting). I don’t feel I missed out on anything – but I never really did enjoy the party scene, and I love him lots.

      I will say that as far as “living life”, having the kids was WAY more of a sea change than being “together”. We could, and did, have young adventures together before the kid – fairly tame adventures, but that’s because that’s who WE are. I know people who did a whole lot of traveling when young-and-together.

      Kids change the dynamic a lot. (I adore them; I wouldn’t give them up for the world; but I used to be able to get so many more things done for me that I wanted, and now things that they need trump some of that.)

      Honestly, the wisdom to make a given decision is usually earned by having made it, in my experience. I could have married my husband much sooner and had it be the right decision, and I knew it; we just didn’t get around to it. Conversely, I know people who “knew” their relationship was right and had it end. And others who are sure that waiting let “the one” slip away.

      Unless we develop precognition…we really can’t know. We can guess, but we can’t know.

    31. Caroline*

      I admit that I don’t have the perspective great hindsight, being in my mid-twenties, but I still have thoughts on it (as someone who met her partner when she was in high school, moved in together at 19, and married at 24, and did so in a culture where that is abnormally young.)

      I think that if you find someone you want to be in a serious, committed relationship with, at any age, then you should be in that kind of relationship with them. Finding such a person is not easy, and why toss them away just because it wasn’t an “ideal” time?

      If you meet a partner you want to spend the rest of your life with in your 20s, then live with that person. You won’t miss out on much and you’ll gain a lot.

      What have I missed out because I was in a serious committed relationship?
      – a certain amount of sexual freedom/sleeping around (because we choose to be monogamous, which is a choice). That said, in doing so, I’ve gained a partner I love, together with whom I’ve learned to become a better lover as has my partner.
      – a few opportunities: I very likely would have considered immigrating to Israel and serving in the IDF if I hadn’t been with my partner. But I’ve ended up in a different, also good place. If I hadn’t been with my partner, I would probably have traveled a little more (but I have traveled some as am adult). My partner came from a lot less money than me, so I think I would have had more opportunity as a youngling to travel. However, now that we are in our mid-20s, we are coming to a place where we can travel a lot more, and having two incomes will make us much more financially stable younger than my sister who is single (but had more resources in her early 20s.)
      – wild nights partying but I probably wasn’t going to do that anyways. In fact, I think the lack of wild partying in my life comes more from me than my partner. We could have been wild partiers together. Instead, we throw fabulous, elegant dinner parties, because that’s more my style. (My ideal of a wild party is the scene in Chocolat where time slows down because everyone is enjoying the food so much)

      What did I gain?
      – A loving partner to share life with and a lot of great fun
      – Someone to help me be a better person. I would not be as successful as I am today without the support of my partner
      – Someone to support me in my career and encourage me
      – more financial insecurity in our early 20s, greater financial security in our mid and late 20s than I would have had single
      – more time for kids in the future: I have plenty of friends who were single and ran out of time to have kids because they never found the right person, or they found the right person very late (mid to late thirties) and had a very hard time having kids or weren’t able to. That doesn’t mean that it will be a problem for everyone, plenty of women are able to have kids at 35 or 38 or 40, but some aren’t. We are able to take our time, spend 10+ years together kid-free, have a few years of kid-free marriage, and then start to try to have kids in our late 20s, when hopefully our fertility will be increased, and even if not, we have the advantage of lots of time. That’s not a reason to stay in a bad or even mediocre relationship, but it may be a reason to stay in a great relationship.

    32. Mander*

      I was unhappily single for all of my 20s, and I think that if I had met anyone who was actually interested in me I probably would have been more likely to “settle” in the usual sense of the word. But on the other hand I felt free to do whatever I wanted — go back to school, move to another state, move to another country, take crazy jobs where I lived in a tent for months at a time, etc. I didn’t meet my husband until a month before my 30th birthday. Some part of me wishes that we had met earlier, but if we had I don’t think we would have been an item — he is 6 years younger than me.

      I’ve had several friends and relatives who married young, though, and it seems to be working out for them. Partly I think it is cultural. My cousin who lives in a small town in the Midwest and had no desire to go to college got married at 19, as did most of her friends. It’s normal in her circles. My sister and I, who grew up in a city a couple of states away and have graduate degrees, got married much later (25 and 34, respectively).

    33. Kat M*

      I am actually in my mid-twenties and have been married for two years, together since college. I don’t miss my single life at all and I’m happy with my husband. My belief is that, just because you settle down with a mate doesn’t mean you have to give up your career, youth, or independence. In fact, I find that it’s nice to take these steps into life together-and in any event, we can still travel, make huge career moves, and enjoy our youth-we just do it together.

      I don’t think waiting till your 30s is a guarantee of anything. My husband’s parents did and they ended up splitting anyway. Not to say you can’t find love in your thirties or that you have to get married right away-but, if you’re sure that this is your person and you can’t see yourself spending another day without them, don’t be afraid to go for it.

      I also think youth are much more capable of long term thinking and planning than we give them credit for. The thing is, we don’t encourage it or prepare them because we feel that somehow takes away from their “freedom” or what have you….Not saying that everyone should marry young, but I think too many people paint youth as automatically incapable of making smart decisions about their futures (yet we have no problem with them taking on a six figure debt for said futures). But that’s a conversation for another day.

    34. lfi*

      my husband and i have been together since our late teens; we got married when we were 27. we’ve both had our wild streaks, gone through ups and downs, backpacked through Europe, contemplated moving across the country, had jobs, lost them, gotten promoted and once even laid off. but, ultimately he’s my best friend and i wouldn’t change that for anything. ;) perhaps it’s because i have several friends who are also in the same relationship boat as us, but to me i don’t feel like i missed out on anything; rather that we get to experience these really awesome things together. he contemplated moving to LA for a job but he decided it wasn’t the right move. we’ve also decided NYC is out for us as we are just not into that kind of lifestyle.

      up next? buying a house. eep.

    35. anon for this*

      I know I am really, really late to this.

      End a serious relationship: I ended a serious three-year relationship when I was 22 because our lives were going in different directions. I did a lot of growing up between ages 21 and 22. I came to regret some very stupid decisions I made. My partner at the time (and we had lived together for two years at that point) was not supportive of my desire to resume my college education. I do not regret ending this relationship, because there were bigger issues than just my desire to improve my life and shift my focus to having a more meaningful career.

      Begin a serious, committed relationship: Interestingly, the next person I met is the man I eventually married when I was a few months short of turning 25. I was not through college yet and had also decided to pursue a graduate degree. He was so supportive of this and continues to be supportive of me in my career. We have now been married over 25 years and, while our life together is not perfect, I do not regret this decision, either.

  4. The IT Manager*

    So Alison, with these book recommendations, I figure you’re not reading a book or at least not these books. How much fiction do you read?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Lots! I think I read roughly one novel per week, unless I’m particularly busy. The book recs that I’ve started doing in these posts aren’t all stuff I just finished though; I just thought it would be a fun weekly thing to throw in the mix, and I’m working my way through the books I love to recommend to people.

  5. Treena Kravm*

    Calling all oatmeal lovers!
    I forget who mentioned it a week or three ago, but I’m officially obsessed with oatmeal now. On a recent trip, we went to a breakfast place that only served oatmeal bowls and it was so good I decided to try to make my own.

    I’ve always hated oatmeal because my dad made it really gluey and slimy, but I have the perfect recipe to fix it. 1 part rolled oats and 1 part steel-cut oats, with 6 parts liquid. I use almond milk, sometimes cut with water.

    Sweet is always delicious, but the savory is actually the best. Cheddar with cubed chicken breast, fresh cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado has been my go-to. Feta, tomatoes, and sliced olives or capers is also delicious.

    Been trying to eat down my kitchen, so this morning I did cheddar, and some leftover tomato chutney, with a poached egg. I’ve also been cooking it with dried ingredients, so they plump up, like sun-dried tomatoes, or freeze-dried mushrooms. I think next I’m going to try to incorporate some leftover roasted butternut squash.

    1. nep*

      Interesting, the savory route. I was spending the weekend at a friend’s and one evening we had oatmeal for supper; they put a savory sauce in theirs.
      Roasted butternut squash with oatmeal would be great.
      I don’t want to imagine life without oats. I eat raw oats every day — lots.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Finally! I have some evidence for my husband that I’m not crazy for snacking on raw oats. Usually while I’m waiting for the oatmeal to cook, they’re soo good.

        1. nep*

          Yes — I eat only raw oats at the moment. Haven’t had them cooked in nearly a year. Might go back to that but I really enjoy them raw.

          1. Rana*

            Try them with milk and sugar sometime! I used to eat that a lot as a kid, when I was too impatient to cook them.

            1. nep*

              I don’t consume milk or sugar — but almond milk and honey with raw oats sounds great. I’ll have to try it.

    2. Shell*

      Damn, I’m off to make some steel-cut oatmeal after reading this. :D I adore oatmeal.

      1. anon today*

        My new favorite way to eat oatmeal cold is by mixing rolled oats and some milk product (I usually use almond milk but coconut or cow milk work too) and raisins, almonds, cinammon and the thing that I think makes all the difference, shredded coconut. Let stand a few minutes so the milk gets absorbed as much or as little as you ant. It’s from Mark Bittman, I was skeptical but it is yummy!

        1. Treena Kravm*

          The coconut really does make it. I sometimes add it to the savory oatmeal, just because I love the chewiness.

        2. Mephyle*

          I like that too, but letting it stand for several hours. I like it with cinnamon and chopped, lightly toasted nuts (other nuts than almonds are nice, too).

    3. Cristina in England*

      I have raw oats in milk every morning (I usually add nuts and fruit) but I have never ever considered hot savory oatmeal as something that was even possible. Do you stir everything through, or put it on the side?

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I usually stir everything through, and put the cold items on top, like the tomatoes and avocado, so I can eat it piping hot by having both the oatmeal and a colder item on the spoon.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I bought some Scottish oatmeal (the Bob’s Red Mill brand) because I got this old-timey Scottish cookbook at Leakey’s in Inverness and I thought it might work in some of the recipes. It’s GOOD. However, I tend to stick with milk and brown sugar in mine.

    5. Lizzie*

      My favorite cooking blog (www.budgetbytes.com) has fantastic baked oatmeal recipes. I’m a particular fan of the pumpkin baked oatmeal, but the blueberry banana is also really good.

      These savory oatmeal ideas intrigue me, might have to try one!

      1. Future Analyst*

        Second on the baked oatmeal idea! I hate the regular gloppy oatmeal, but baked oatmeal tastes like cake. :)

        1. Treena Kravm*

          I’m wondering if I could use oatmeal as a sort of stand-in crumble top of a pie? Hmm.

          1. EG*

            Yes! Google apple crisp with oatmeal recipes. I’ve made an oatmeal topping for crisps before, so I’m sure it could be used on a pie.

    6. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I posted about it last week, and I want to thank you for the caper suggestion instead of olives with the feta, because I love capers. I have pan fried my oatmeal a bit after cooking to make it a bit drier and not so gluey.

      Part of my savory oatmeal experiment was to try and adjust my cholesterol numbers. Apparently all this savory oatmeal worked, because my good cholesteol skyrocketed after I started eating it regularly. I already tick all the other boxes: exercise yes, weight yes, olive oil yes, no red meat yes, etc. etc. Oatmeal is my last hope.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Oo, I wonder if you could do some sort of fried oatmeal cakes, similar to polenta? And yes, capers are great, because I always buy the giant jar because it’s $2 more than the tiny jar 1/8 of the size, but then I have a whole bunch of capers that don’t get used very much =/

        Oo speaking of capers, I have a jar of whole caperberries (the size of a grape). They’re good in cocktails or plain but can anyone suggest another use?

        1. Rene*

          There is a fabulous Scottish recipe called ‘skirlie’ that’s basically fried onions and oatmeal. Delicious! It can also be used as a stuffing.

    7. skyline*

      I often make a batch of steel-cut oats on Sunday night, divide it up into individual portions in microwave safe containers, and then nuke in the morning for breakfast. I add a splash of milk before reheating, and then add any other flavorings (honey, brown sugar, dried fruit) after mixing it up. The steel-cut oatmeal reheats well, and it’s a way to have my favorite breakfast on weekdays without waking up early to account for the cooking time. My recipe is: 1/4 cup steel-cut oats + 1 cup water + pinch of salt for each serving.

      I haven’t tried savory oats yet, but given how much I love savory rice porridges, I think I’d probably like them.

    8. Connie-Lynne*

      I like to fry up some diced bacon and apples together, then add almond milk, rolled oats, dried cranberries, cardamom, and cinnamon.

      Served in a bowl with more almond milk, or cream on fancy days, it’s delicious.

    9. C Average*

      I dislike the gluey/slimy texture of most oatmeal as well, and I also try to limit my dairy intake. A solution I’ve found is to cook my oatmeal in applesauce and then add some blueberries and nuts. It is so good–like apple cobbler for breakfast. Super easy to make quickly in the microwave, too.

      1. Sif*

        Om nom nom, this sounds so good! What proportions of oatmeal and applesauce do you use, and which stove burner setting?

        1. C Average*

          This is embarrassing to admit, but I’ve only ever made it in the microwave. It’s my go-to office breakfast when I have to be in early.

          I put about about a cup of applesauce in a microwaveable dish. Then I add rolled oats (the regular kind, not the quick kind) until it’s about the right blend. I think it’s usually about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of oats–depends on how hungry I am! Then I add frozen blueberries, stir it thoroughly, and nuke it for three minutes. I add the nuts afterward.

          I’m guessing on the stovetop you’d just use the cooking guidelines for the oats. That’s how I arrived at the three-minute figure.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I used to do something kind of along the same lines… until I developed a sensitivity to oatmeal. whee.

            I would replace the water with apple cider, whatever it said on the Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats (I think I did double recipe, so 3 cups?), let it sit overnight in the fridge and soak. The next morning, I would cut up 2 apples (with the Slap Chop!) into pea sized bits and add 2 tbsp of cinnamon. Cooked in it the rice cooker, I think it took about a half hour before it would automatically switch to the lower setting. Smelled awesome, and tasted like having apple pie for breakfast. It made about 5-6 servings, so breakfast was set all week. I would add a bit of apple cider before putting it covered in the microwave to heat it up and it tasted almost exactly the same as it did when first made. This winter, I’ve missed that as a nice hot breakfast. It’s been so cold :(

    10. OriginalEmma*

      Yum! I’ve only heard of savory oatmeal in the context of Korean porridge (juk) but this sounds very nice.

  6. Graciosa*

    Spring cleaning my desk today –

    This is going to sound embarrassingly simple, but in the process I finally updated my household emergency list (phone and account numbers for the electric company, cable and internet provider, HOA, insurance company, etc.) and printed it out on bright yellow paper so I can find it quickly. I have an unhappy history of trying to find my last statement with a flashlight in the dark that I don’t care to repeat.

    I know this is a tiny thing, but I will really be glad I did it the next time the power company emergency line won’t let me report an outage without my account number (?).

    1. Natalie*

      I think that’s a great idea! I put all that stuff in my phone, and emailed a copy to my parents (I live alone so if I get hit by a bus or something they’ll have to call my landlord). But I think having a few numbers written down would be good, too. Never know when you might not have access to your phone.

    2. danr*

      Our electric c company allows outage reporting through a phone app. They had just rolled it out before Hurricane Sandy hit. Before the app, reporting was tied to your phone number so you didn’t need to know your account number.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      No no, it’s a very important thing!
      My digital stuff is on a password-protected document and I emailed it to my brother before my holiday. I’ll probably do it again this time in case my plane crashes or I get hit by a bus or slip off a cliff or something.

    4. Mander*

      Oh man, I have never done anything like this. Well, I usually email my travel insurance documents to myself, but that’s about it! #adultfail

  7. Gene*

    Cleaning out the coworker’s office is moving along. I’ve been scheduling inspections of his industries that I inherited to familiarize myself with them and reviewing the files to gather info for our annual report. IT changed his passwords for the computer and voice mail, so I’m going through those. Luckily for us, he was very organized, almost compulsive. His wife stopped in to pick up his personal stuff, we filled her SUV with banker boxes.

    I need to get my stuff more organized in case I get hit by the proverbial bus. And start going through my stuff so I can move from my cube to his office of I decide to. I let him have it when it came available, but I think I’ll move this time.

    I’ll likely be commenting less here, just won’t have the time. Userfriendly and Ask A Manager are the first I look at when I can, so I’m not gone.

    1. Clever Name*

      Is this the coworker who passed away? That must be really, really tough. Thanks for letting us know you’re busy; I’m sure you know that people worry when regular commenters go off the radar. Hang in there.

    2. fposte*

      There’s nothing like that experience to get your own house in order, is there?

      Hope to see you back again when you have more time.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Ditto from me, thanks for letting us know and I hope you come back when you can. I have enjoyed your posts.

    4. Kethryvis*

      Oh wow, someone who still reads User Friendly. Glad to see it’s not forgotten. (i used to work for UF back when it was trying to be a real business. One of my favorite places.)

  8. Jubilance*

    Our Pi Day wedding is 1 week away, yay! I’m so excited. I’m also completely out of things to do, which I’m sure is not a bad thing. I’m also flying solo this weekend because my fiance is off at his bachelor weekend. And best of all, the weather is finally starting to turn & hopefully it will be warmish/not cold next weekend. I really hope this next week goes by quickly, I”m ready to become a married lady!

    1. fposte*

      I’ve been thinking of you, Jubilance, as the day grows closer. Have a wonderful day, and make sure you get plenty of pie yourself!

    2. Treena Kravm*

      Congrats! It’s soo good that you’re all done now, and not having to scramble next week. I wish I had done the same thing =)

    3. blue_eyes*

      Congratulations! What a perfect date for a wedding. All the best to you in this next stage of your life together!

    4. OfficePrincess*

      Yay! The week’s going to fly by (except maybe once you go to bed the night before!)

    5. anonima in tejas*

      congrats! were you the person who was asking about signature cocktails? if so, what did you end up deciding?

  9. blackcat*

    Refrigerator recommendations wanted!

    All of our other appliances are stainless steal (as is our current fridge). The current fridge keeps making unhappy sounds, and back in the late summer when the house was in high 70s/low 80s, it did not keep food adequately cold. It is very high end (I looked it up–the new version of the same thing is 4k!), came with the house, and probably 12 years old. It’s been fine through the winter, but spring is coming! And I figure it’s cheaper to buy a new one than fix the old.

    We’d like to keep with the stainless look, and we’d want to spend under 2k. I also prefer one side door, rather than the open down the middle thing. Any thoughts? Any favorite stores (Boston area) for appliance buying?

    1. Clever Name*

      We’ve had good luck with both whirlpool and GE side by side fridges. You can get stainless look ones and they have some stainless models that are somehow magnetized so you can use magnets on the front.

    2. Noah*

      I perfer the fake stainless that you don’t have to constantly wipe fingerprints off of. I have a Frigidaire stainless-look side-by-side in my apartment. Never had an issue, but it is just about a year old.

    3. Rana*

      We recently bought a new fridge, and discovered that a lot of the companies are in fact all merged in with each other (like Whirlpool and Maytag are the same thing, except for a few design elements). You’ll notice that they’ll have the same insides, for example, even if the exteriors look different. So if you’re not wedded to a particular brand, it’s worth looking at the others because you might get essentially the same thing for less money.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        There really are only like four manufacturers of major appliances in the US: Whirlpool, LG, Frigidaire/Electrolux & GE. You can google “who makes” for the off brand and find out who is really making the guts of a machine and find out your really just paying for the name plate.

    4. Observer*

      Check out Consumer Reports. And, by the way, everything I’ve read says that side by side tends to take up more space and energy for the same capacity as a top and bottom freezer and refrigerator. So that’s a good move for you. Also, ice dispensers tend to be trouble prone, even in good brands.

      One thing I really like it split shelves in the refrigerator. it gives you some real flexibility in how you put stuff.

      1. Anx*

        I hate ice makers. Just hate them. There are so many cute ice molds, anyway.

        Skipping the ice maker is an easy way to save a little bit of money on refrigerator.

    5. Artemesia*

      It can’t be cheaper to fix a 4K fridge than buy a new one. I’d have someone look at it; it might well just need coolant or a new compressor for a fraction of a new appliance. I had one once that basically just needed coolant and to clean the very dusty coils in back and it ran for another 5 years.

      1. Mephyle*

        True, yet a new fridge might run cheaper (more energy-saving) than a 12-year-old one. That would be something to check, too.

    6. Kay*

      I live in Texas, so no store recommendations, but I highly encourage shopping for sales, especially those in association with holidays. Easter may not be the best, but Memorial day is coming and they usually mark things down pretty well for that. We got a frigidaire at Sears for ~$1000 2 years ago on Memorial day weekend. It was black, not stainless. I know those cost more, but not by too much. Good luck!

    7. anonima in tejas*

      can you check out Costco? They normally have fridges and the prices are good.

    8. AHN*

      Late response, but the one thing I would suggest is to shop around both in store and online, and check for price matching. We got a great deal on a new washer this summer by price matching the Lowe’s price at Home Depot. Both stores appear to offer a match plus an extra 10 percent off, which on a big ticket item is worth the hassle. (We also bought it on tax-free weekend in Massachusetts, which you might not want to wait for, but if you are north enough of the city, buying in New Hampshire could be an option.)

    9. Hlyssande*

      Check out any local scratch and dent type places. When my friends moved into their house, they got a fairly high end fridge for a hefty discount because it has a scratch on a door that’s easily covered by a magnet. Same thing for their stove.

      If you can find one of those places, you might be able to find something really fantastic for a good price.

  10. BRR*

    So I had talked in Friday open threads about my mental health issues and work. I am moving it to Sunday because of my question. I started on Nuvigil today and was wondering if anybody else has been on it and what you thought?

    It has given me more energy but not tons but the only side effect I seem to have is dry mouth. We shall see how it works. Here’s hoping it improves my concentration because I’m very stressed out about what will happen if I can’t improve my work.

    1. Stephanie*

      OMG, the dry mouth! I was on citalopram for anxiety/depression once and no one told me about the dry mouth. It didn’t help that I was living out here in the desert. I felt I could never get enough water.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        I don’t have a lot of advice, only sympathy. I recently took FMLA so that I could do an intensive outpatient program for depression and anxiety, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. My docs also switched up my meds (from Sertraline to Remeron) and I’m noticing a big difference. Keep up the self-care and don’t be afraid to take whatever time you need to focus on you.

    2. StillHealing*

      One thing that has helped me tremendously is a lipid powder. It’s expensive but worth it for me. My Primary Care doctor is a Naturopathic Doctor and he prescribed NT Factor® EnergyLipids Powder. It has helped me focus and retain information while I’m working. I’m memorizing budget numbers without even trying. I don’t even need to memorize them….my brain/mind is just much more clear and focused.

      I tried Nuvigil back when I was still having Night Terrors. It definitely helped me during the day time but the Night Terrors became more intense so I went off it after five days. I’ll go see if I can find what you wrote on Friday and comment again if there is anything more I can offer. Getting FMLA approved and taking a break is one suggestion. Some of us are simply programmed from an early age to keep pushing ourselves beyond all limits thinking we can force ourselves to “get better”. We are human beings and we all have limitations. We don’t need to be Super Heros but some of us simply got programmed early on to feel we are letting everyone down unless we are doing less than everything and beyond. Sometimes, we truly need a break to regroup, heal, develop new and better coping skills, etc.

      1. BRR*

        Long story short is I have been struggling with depression/anxiety/ADHD and it’s affected my work. I told my boss I was having a medical issue but am struggling with my work performance.

          1. StillHealing*

            BRR, I’m so sorry – that is a very stressful place to be. I know it can take a while to find the right combination that helps you manage. Give the Nuvigil some time. It did help me focus and I felt a bit more organized for the few days I was on it.

            Currently for the anxiety my main “go to” is 900 mg of Gabapentin at night time and 300 mg during the work day to keep the anxiety at bay. I also take Cymbalta 60mg for help managing the depression and anxiety. For dry mouth my doctor prescribed Cevmeline.

    3. Anx*

      I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression last year and self-diagnosed with possible ADHD or DSPD.

      I am not on any sort of medication, so I can’t offer any help there.

      I will say it really stinks when you make a lot of progress and start backsliding. It can feel like everything you’ve worked for is for naught when you really know better. I sometimes wish I had known about these issues as a teen or younger adult (I think I’m still a young adult) and could work out some of the kinks of learning to adjust when there wasn’t so much adulting that had to take place.

  11. brightstar*

    I am so very, very angry. First, context: my student loans had gone into default and I recently completed a program to get them out of default. I completed the program in January. A couple of weeks ago I got another notice they were going to take a payment and called. I was reassured they were not going to take a payment, it was just a statement balance. And, you can guess it, they took a payment out of my checking account and the credit union authorized it and over drafted my account. I called and raised hell and they said they were refunding the payment and the over draft fee.

    It’s almost two weeks later and I still haven’t received the refund. I spent over a week with my checking account in the red (they told me I couldn’t pay by check, they had to do ACH) and now I can’t pay my rent because of them. I check my mail religiously and still no checks. They told me they mailed the check February 26th. I’m just angry, I’ve had to deal with management at my apartment complex and I just want my money they shouldn’t have taken in the first place.

    I think I’ll have to call Monday and raise hell AGAIN and see if they can electronically deposit the funds. But this sucks, for real, and it makes me feel very helpless.

    1. Graciosa*

      Let me see if I understand this –

      They cannot accept a check, but require direct access to remove money from your bank account –

      However, when the transaction goes the other way, they mail you a check but do not put money into your bank account.

      Very fair system (sarcasm).

      1. brightstar*

        I know. And unlike them, I have no recourse to charge late fees or anything like that.

    2. Natalie*

      Ugh, this is exactly the scenario that makes me resist any sort of auto-draft. If I ran the zoo they wouldn’t be allowed to require it.

    3. Anon for this*

      Close that account, open a new one and never never never give anyone electronic access to your bank accounts.

      1. brightstar*

        I don’t have to close the account, I can just revoke their access. And no one else is getting access. They wouldn’t have gotten it if I felt like I had an alternative. I inquired into paying by check, through a prepaid credit card, money order and it was all a no go.

    4. Treena Kravm*

      Before calling the student loan place, call your bank and explain the situation, then ask how you go about starting the process of getting that money refunded. Then call the student loan place and tell them that because it’s been 7 (!!!) business days and you haven’t received a refund, you’ve let your bank know about the fraudulent charge and they’ll be taking care of it from here on out. If anything, that might be the kick in the pants they need to get the money to you, and if not, you’ll get the money through your bank. (eventually, it does still take some time)


        1. Treena Kravm*

          Yea, banks are a nightmare. And student loan companies are the WORST. Brings me back to the time that I called and specifically gave them the name of my new university (located abroad) and asked if that would still qualify me for not having to pay back the loans. I got an “absolutely yes, if you’re enrolled in school, there won’t be any requirement for repayment.” 9 months later and 2 red marks on my (and my dad’s!) credit score, I was nastily informed that only US Department of Education schools qualified for delaying repayment.

          Ooh or that time my husband got 6!! delinquent payments on his student loans because he had two loans through Sallie Mae, Loan A of $400 and Loan B is $200. He saw $600 debited out of his checking every month so never thought a thing of it. Well, they were putting a $600 onto Loan A, and leaving Loan B with no payment. He had set up the auto-payments over the phone, but *somehow* it was his responsibility and they wouldn’t take the delinquencies off his credit report.

    5. Schuyler*

      That is so horrible; I’m sorry. I found out about 4 years ago that I could have a quarter of a percent knocked off my interest rate and it’s cases like these–however infrequent–that have kept me from doing an auto-debit. I work in financial aid and a student I spoke with a couple months ago didn’t believe me that this could happen. I hope you get it sorted quickly.

    6. BRR*

      Ugh this is like all of the worst things put together.

      First, make sure nobody retains payment information if you can help it. If you can try and make sure it’s a credit card.

      Second, call and raise hell. You also need to ask for any additional fees to be paid to you that they have caused by their mistake. This includes if you have late fees for your rent. Basically don’t let it go, most places have strict guidelines when they can hang up. If they tell you no tell them that’s not good enough. You can also tell them you will be filing a complaint with your state attorney general’s office (I believe most are set up for consumer complaints where you can specify the damages).

    7. Audiophile*

      Quick tip – I’ve been arguing with my bank for weeks about a bunch of overdraft fees I was charged. I made a polite but terse comment on their Facebook page and got some recourse. Decided to take it a step further and email some executives listed on their website, got an email back saying someone would be in touch. Within a day, I had a called from a regional manager. Haven’t spoken to the manager yet but I’m sure I’ll get what I want.

      Banks make tons of profits off these overdraft fees, which is why they’re so hesitant to give them back. But sometimes they really are unjust. I hope yours gets resolved quickly. That’s crazy that they’re insisting on mailing you a check.

  12. danr*

    The ground is snow covered, but Spring is here… we are listening to the Spring training baseball game on the radio.

    1. nep*

      We got up to 44 today. Sunshine…snow melting. FINALLY. (But I won’t put the shovel away till May.)

  13. Natalie*

    I need to buy a new suitcase before I go to France. Any brand recommendations? I’m thinking a smaller wheeled bag, probably hard sided. Other than that I have no idea – I’ve never really shopped for a suitcase before. I just inherited them or bought whatever was cheap at Target.

    1. Graciosa*

      How much are you planning to spend? I invested in a Briggs & Riley that I like a lot, and it has lasted very well (but soft front on a hard frame). I know of a few very heavy travelers who stick to much cheaper luggage and have had occasional good luck at places like Target. They tend to swear by spinner wheels that let you wheel your suitcase down the plane aisle sideways and avoid bumping into the other seats.

      1. Natalie*

        I don’t really have a set budget since I have no frame of reference, but I’d be willing to spend a bit if the quality is there. I mean, the plane ticket alone is over a grand! And I am in a finally in a financial position where I can afford the extra upfront cost that comes with lifetime purchases.

        I guess my top limit is $500, if it’s really, really amazing, but I’d prefer to stick in the $200-300 range.

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        I love my Briggs and Riley soft side. The most amazing thing about it is the fabric. I check it sometimes and it never has that “run over repeatedly and dragged through a vat of lumpy oil” patina that airlines specialize in. They also have very good warranties.

        Wildkitten in another thread mentioned The Sweethome for reviews of times like these– I think they or a sister site did luggage reviews. Link to follow if I find it.

    2. JMW*

      Airlines have gotten really strict about weight allowances. Get the lightest weight luggage you can find. My last two pieces came from Marshall’s (deep discount) – Aerolite brand. Love them. The wheels spin 360 so you can push them sideways (like up a narrow aisle).

    3. ZSD*

      I just bought the Beverley Hills Country Club Malibu set on Amazon. I haven’t had it long enough to evaluate it myself, but it has really good reviews.

    4. blue_eyes*

      I have a large roll-y bag and a carry on size roll-y bag both from Eagle Creek that I really like. I think the small one was about $250. You can get them at REI if you have one by you. They’ve been very durable, they have straps to sort of cinch down the bag and they’re also somewhat distinctive looking so they’re a bit harder to confuse with other people’s bags. (Of course I say that, and just last time I flew with one of those bags I accidentally grabbed someone else’s bag off the conveyor belt – I had never seen anyone else with the same bag!). I also have a tri-fold garment bag that you can carry on from Tumi (it was about $400, so not cheap, but it works well).

    5. Noah*

      My normal luggage is the largest size the airlines will let you use for a rolling carry-on, although I normally check it. It is hard to explain, but is kind of a hybrid between a garment bag and regular suitcase. If you search Amazon for Traveler’s Choice Hybrid Rolling Carry On you’ll find it. Not crazy expensive, around $75 right now it looks like.

      Anyways, I really like that I can keep my clothes on hangers and pull them out and hang them up quickly when I get to the hotel. It has a hard side and back but the front is soft and expandable. I travel for work at least 4-5 times per month and have had this bag for more than 5 years.

    6. BRR*

      My carry on is swiss army from target. It’s held up very well and is brown which is nice. As mentioned go for light weight and be careful about the size as airlines have gotten strict about luggage size.

    7. skyline*

      I have a Hartmann international carry-on size, hard-sided spinner. I love it. It is so much easier to negotiate in the aisles of the plane, and long schleps from one side of the airport to the other seem a lot smoother. The size forces me to be thoughtful about packing, and it’s impossible for me to overpack to the extent that I can’t lift my own bag up into the overhead compartment. I am short, and my arms aren’t that strong, but I really like being self-sufficient in this small thing. All that said, I would find it a bit small for a longer international trip. I can pack for a 5-6 day domestic work trip in it, but that’s pushing it.

      On a side note, the other thing that’s made traveling more pleasant for me recently has been purchasing a tote bag (my “personal item” for the plane) that has a back pocket that unzips to slide over my suitcase handle. Walking through an airport with my suitcase, my tote bag, and a coffee is no longer a formula for disaster! The one I have is the Baggallini Avenue Tote.

    8. Pixel*

      I love my Rimowa Salsa Air. It’s hard-sided, has nice wheels, and fits in an overhead compartment. It was pricey (almost $500) but it was a gift and I’ve gotten great use out of it. I also like the Patagonia MLC styles.

  14. PastaOfTheDay*

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how one can work to become a kinder and more generous person?

    1. Cristina in England*

      For me, I would work on two tacks:
      -Ask yourself: Why am I not currently a kinder and more generous person right now? Get at the root of the problem through therapy, journaling, or whatever else.
      -Fake being a kinder and more generous person until you are one inside. Learn the specifics of what kind people and generous people do, and do that. Donate to charity. Hold doors for people. Say thank you. Whatever it is you think you should be doing, do that.

      For me, these approaches are two sides of the same coin. You can’t think your way to better actions, you have to do the actions. On the other hand, you don’t want to be faking it forever, you want to work from the outside in and the inside out.

      Also, maybe a daily gratitude practice? A friend and I text each other 3 things we’re grateful for every night. It helps to see that even on a shitty day there are still things to be grateful for.

    2. KJR*

      I try to monitor my thoughts. If I am thinking mean things about people that tends to come out. It takes practice, but I’ve noticed a difference. Plus I am happier as a result!

      1. Natalie*

        I did a volunteer training once that recommended a thought excercise they called the rule of 6. Whenever someone around you is vexing you, think of 6 different reasons they might be behaving that way. It’s not intended to be definitive or anything, just to remind yourself that there can always be something going on you’re not aware of. I find it helps when I am being really mean to people in my own mind.

        1. C Average*

          I love this.

          It reminds me of what my sister and I used to do. We found ourselves wishing we weren’t so judgmental of others and wanted to be less so, so we created this game wherein whenever we were tempted to say something snarky about a stranger’s behavior or appearance, we had to instead create a funny but charitable explanation for what we were seeing. Our go-tos were things like “lost a bet,” “conducting an experiment for sociology class,” “driving erratically due to a cat loose in the car,” etc.

          Having to think about the other person’s life, even in a funny and rather shallow way, helped. For example, yesterday I went out to lunch and was heading in to a restaurant behind a woman carrying two large handbags and a baby in one of those car-seat-with-a-handle contraptions. In the past, I would’ve been annoyed with her for being in my way, but now I hold the door for her, smile, say something like “looks like you’ve got your hands full,” and wait my turn behind her. Cost me nothing but thirty seconds, and made both of our days better. It really is the little things.

    3. Laura*

      I’ve been thinking of this lately too — I went through a brief phase where I went to church a lot, and one of the things I loved about it was that each week, I spent an hour focusing on becoming a better person. It was a great motivator and I’m trying to think of a nonreligious way to achieve the same effect. I get very impatient/irritable at times, and I hate feeling that way.

      So I don’t have an answer, but I appreciate and sympathize with the question! (And I love the advice you’ve gotten already.)

    4. Gem*

      There’s some Mindfulness meditation based around being kinder to everyone – including yourself – and I find it really useful (I find Mindfulness incredibly useful in general though, so YMMV). Practicing being kinder to yourself and others on a regular basis really makes a difference. I’ll put a link to audio of a guided meditation in a comment replying to this comment so this goes through the moderation filter :)

    5. Clever Name*

      I’ll admit that I can be really judgmental and critical of myself and others. Not fun. Reading stuff written by the Dalai Lama helps. He focuses on compassion and lovingkindness. Catching myself when I think unkind thoughts helps some. Looking for the good in others and myself helps. If someone is being a jerk to me, I try to think that maybe they’ve just had a really tough day. Maybe their dog died. Being a jerk back never helps. Also try being nicer to yourself. What does your internal dialogue sound like? If it’s always mean to yourself, how can you be nice to others?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Monitor yourself for negative self talk. I don’t mean when you correct yourself because you made a mistake. I mean self-talk where you put yourself down, cuss at yourself, etc. It becomes easier to be kinder to others, if we are being kind to ourselves. Yeah, this is harder than it sounds.

      Another thing that recently came to my attention is to tell yourself NO sometimes. “No, I am not going to buy that $300 outfit, just because I can.” Or, “No, I am not going to eat cake tonight, I had it last night.” The catch here is that we always want another $300 outfit or another piece of cake. But there is more to life than an outfit or a cake- those are distractions.

      Decide to make regular donations to a charity that you like. Keep it realistic, don’t go into debt or fail to pay the rent. It’s more about remembering to make the donation than it is about how much you give. This one sounds easy. The trick is to still be doing it a year from now, two years from now and so on.

      See, it’s our little habits that shape us. Our little habits cause a mindset that carries over into our big picture thinking, our life planning and how we react to surprise/upset. It takes a while of changing the small things that we do, before we notice a difference. And it takes even longer to see the benefit.

      There are many other little things you can try. Pick something that fits your setting and resonates with you.

    7. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      When I looked at your question, the first thing that struck me was the scale of the task you’ve set yourself. Are there particular behaviors or a set of behaviors that you are thinking about? Can you break down them down and work at them one at a time?

      A while ago I realized that I was getting very nitpicky with my husband and son — raking them over the coals for very minor issues. It was bleeding into work a bit, too, and I was making myself more frustrated than I needed to be, and making it harder to be relaxed about minor issues, thus making me more likely to blow up…you get the picture. I made “let the small things go” part of my daily to-do tasks every morning. It think this is why it worked for me — at the end of the work day, I reviewed that task and evaluated whether I’d been successful. That evaluation served as a reminder to take that attitude home. There were two reminders a day and basically two self-evaluations (morning and end of workday) that helped me adjust my behavior. It’s a great feeling when you can look back on 24 hours and realize that you met a goal that was meant to make others feel better, even in a small way.

      Perhaps something similar that breaks your aspirations into small, daily, achievable goals will work for you. I’m sure you will achieve it, because you are thinking about it.

    8. Sunflower*

      Practice empathy. I’m a firm believer that (almost) everyone is a good person and just trying to do the best they can. Whenever I find myself feeling strongly towards one side of something, I ask myself how the person on the other side could have the thoughts they have. Same if I find myself judging someone’s actions.

    9. Cordelia Longfellow*

      I’ve found keeping a gratitude journal helpful in keeping myself mindful and present…take a few minutes at bedtime to write 2-5 specific things you’re grateful for that day. Anything from “the way my cay purrs when I scritch her ears,” to “Fergus helping me solve a problem at work” to “spending time with friends at a coffee shop.”

      I also try to assume that other people are acting in good faith. Sometimes that’s repeatedly proven false for a person, which is information for me to minimize my interactions with them. But for the most part, it works to help me let go of a negative encounter because I assume that the other person is distracted by their own goings-on in their life and they’re really not projecting that to me, specifically.

    10. C Average*

      Be in charge of helping children become kinder, gentler people? Probably not practical, but that’s all I’ve got.

      In all seriousness, I like to think I’m fairly kind and gentle by nature, but acquiring stepkids has been such an education in these things. First, because it’s my job to be kind and gentle to them, whether they deserve it or not. Second, because I have to model it for them in ways they can understand. And third, because I have to instill it in them through gently correcting them when they’re not being kind and through regularly making kindness part of the family’s day-to-day. I am a much, much kinder person than I was before these two little girls entered my life.

      I have some kindness mentors who do not know they are my kindness mentors. I’ll tell them someday. Do you have someone like that in your life, someone who is thoughtful and unhurried and generous without being smarmy or sanctimonious about it? Watch that person and try to break the kindness down to behaviors that can be imitated. The actions lead; the emotions will follow.

      1. C Average*

        Oh, another thing: make your plans in pencil. For me, impatience and unkindness tend to crop up when I feel like other people are interfering with a set schedule of things that need to happen. Most of the things on my schedule on any given day do not truly need to happen. The kids need to be fed and taken to school. I need to work and pay the bills. I need to tell my husband I love him. I need to touch base with my mom. Sometimes there are deadlines, which I respect and adhere to. But I can make all of this happen without being snippy to the colleague who comes to my desk with a drive-by question or thinking unkind thoughts about the driver in front of me. We’re all on this planet for a limited span, and the silly little to-do lists we write for ourselves are organization tools, not mandates from God.

        1. PastaOfTheDay*

          Thank you so much everyone for all your suggestions; you’ve given me a lot of ideas and things to think about.

  15. Where is Jamie?*

    I’m just wondering what happened to Jamie (Hello Kitty obsessed IT poster). I haven’t read the comments in a while and finally got back to it and noticed that Jamie doesn’t seem to be posting here anymore. I really enjoyed her comments and insight here. Does anyone know what happened?

    1. Myrin*

      If I remember correctly, she had surgery some time ago but I also think people inquired about her and Alison said she was in contact with her and everything was fine. I do miss her posts too, they were always very insightful and entertaining at the same time – I, too, hope she’s okay!

        1. Myrin*

          It’s my avatar everywhere I am on the internet and I’ve only once met someone who also had it – and now I find out that one of my favourite people on this site shares my taste in weird-cute bunny pictures? I’m delighted! :D

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      No, but Alison said she emailed Jamie and hasn’t heard back. I hope she’s ok. I know she was starting to feel like she spent a LOT of time here — maybe she needed to go cold turkey for a while. Either way, I do hope she’s all good and back soon.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I miss her too, but she may just be really busy right now. I know it’s hard to even read all my websites when I have a lot going on, let alone comment.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I hope she is okay. I remember her work was getting crazy/stressful and that concerns me. I hope she reads from time to time and sees us thinking of her.

    5. Dulcibella*

      I miss Jamie’s posts. I also think about her every week that she doesn’t show up here and hope that all is OK with her.

    6. C Average*

      Same! She is so funny and insightful. Her contributions were always must-reads for me.

      Jamie, if you’re out there, we’re thinking of you and hope all is well in your world. Come visit anytime.

    7. bassclefchick*

      I’m so glad you asked! I rarely comment, but I read the posts every day. I’ve missed Jamie too. I think she always has insightful things to say. And whenever an IT issue comes up, I always think “how would Jamie respond?”.

    8. Jamie*

      You guys are so sweet – I miss everyone here so much! I should have emailed Alison or someone – I’m okay.

      Short version is some major changes at work which have kept me not just working long hours, but working with zero downtime. Difference between a 15 hour day with some AAM time and a 15 hour day where so busy I forget to go to the bathroom. Also some things going on making me a little less positive about work related issues (how’s that for diplomatic phrasing? Kind of proud of that; that sentence took a while to write) and I am uncharacteristically unguarded here and I’m seriously nervous that my filters for cynicism and work related TMI aren’t up to the challenge until the dust settles.

      And as fposte mentioned I did go cold turkey, although I didn’t think of it that way. Its hard for me to be a casual commenter when I love this little community and its one of the few places casual and intermittent isn’t my default.

      Ironic that I had to keep my fingers silent at the very time I totally need you guys – some validation about work stuff I can’t talk about and just to hate people with me. :). Best moral support ever over here – really wish I’d developed the ability to be cryptic over here.

      But I am so touched you guys were worried and it shouldn’t have taken someone emailing me today (thanks, you know who you are!) to prompt me check back in. But I am totally okay. Well major head cold and chemical burns from an airbag (only injury and I’m not complaining – just praying my beloved mustang isn’t totalled.). So maybe not totally okay since Im congested and whiney, but overall okay. :)

      I seriously miss you all.

      1. Stephanie*


        I hope things resolve themselves soon. I will go my pet my dad’s Mustang for you.

      2. Elkay*

        Glad to see you back, even if it is just for a brief visit. Also pleased to hear you don’t think we’re a bunch of crazy stalkers wondering where our internet friend has gone. Hope the mustang survives.

        1. Jamie*

          Omg you guys are so not stalkery and this is the best I’ve about life in general in a long time. And WOW my avatar is still Christmassy so Ive been gone longer than I thought! I am too damn old to work these hours – I’ve lost a couple of months without knowing it.

      3. Not So NewReader*

        “I am uncharacteristically unguarded here and I’m seriously nervous that my filters for cynicism and work related TMI aren’t up to the challenge until the dust settles.”

        This is what worried me. I figured the doo-doo must be pretty deep. Don’t walk alone for too long, okay? Definitely watch out for your health and well-being.

      4. fposte*

        Jamie! We’re so glad to hear from you. I hope you safely negotiate the twists and turns to reign in sweet, comfortable terror again.

        And I hate them. I hate all those terrible people you think I should hate! I can tell how bad they are from here.

      5. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*


        Sorry to hear that stuff is so rubbish but glad to hear that you’re all good. Hopefully things will resolve themselves to a point where you’re back among us sooner rather than later <3

      6. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m also totally going to post a link to this in the comment section of one of tomorrow’s posts, since I know there are a lot of people who will be glad to hear from you who don’t read the open threads :)

      7. Soupspoon McGee*

        I’m so glad you’re okay, and I will totally hate people with you, even without the details.

      8. Pontoon Pirate*

        Thanks so much for popping in to let us know you’re ok (for a given value of ok right now). Thinking good thoughts for you, and I’m reminded of a new favorite line from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (which I binged on all Saturday): “You can stand anything for ten seconds.” So just keep counting to ten. :)

      9. hildi*

        Oh, it’s nice to hear from you Jamie!! Sometimes when we shut down and pull away the hardest is when we need others the most. I know that’s the way I am. It’s a painful irony. Hope things slow down for you soon and you’re able to see the light again.

      10. LiteralGirl*

        I, too, have missed your insight and comments! I’m really glad that you’re fine – I’ve been wondering when you would find your way back. Thanks for checking in!

      11. ThursdaysGeek*

        Yay! I was considering staking you, and but figured that figuring out and sending an email would be too creepy. I’m glad you’re still alive, and hope the mustang is too.

      12. Kyrielle*

        Oh YES! So glad you are all right. Sympathy where sympathy is appropriate and I hope the news on your Mustang is good in the end.

      13. Aunt Vixen*

        Oh good! I’m glad you’re as okay as you are and hope everything that isn’t okay works itself out as soon as possible.

        (And thanks for the link, Alison – I don’t normally read the weekend open thread so I really appreciate the pointer from the regular post.)

        1. Jean*

          +1–thank you, Alison, for including the link in the weekday post.
          Also, +N, where N = # of previous commenters and “+” = “I agree totally with missing Jamie, appreciating her update, and wishing her an easy road back to normal life without D & D.

          D & D in this case means Drama & Distress, not Dungeons and Dragons. (Never played Dungeons & Dragons–missed that train entirely. I play with language instead.)

      14. spocklady*

        Oh my gosh I’m glad you’re doing ok-ish. We are all sending Jedi hugs over the internet. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for your Mustang.

        1. spocklady*

          And I am also happy to hate other people on your behalf, even if you can’t tell us details. Seriously. Who messes with Jamie? Jerks, that’s who.

  16. KJR*

    Looking for some economical yet easy foods to serve at an outdoor grad party for about 100 people. A taco bar comes to mind plus maybe a sandwich bar. I’d love to hear more ideas!!!

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Anything that has people assembling their own version of. So hamburgers/hot dogs, tacos, sandwiches would all work. You say economical, but what’s your budget? $3-10 to me is in the economical range. Anything less than 3 would be pretty tough.

      One thing I’ve started doing at home to make taco night more economical is that when I’m making the pulled chicken filling, I mix in a can or two of black beans. It instantly doubles the amount of filling for $1-2.

    2. blue_eyes*

      Some kind of pasta salad would also be nice (with a nice vinaigrette dressing, none of that gloopy mayonnaise covered stuff). The pasta base is cheap and you can add in small amounts of tasty things to keep the cost down. I really like frozen (or fresh) peas, cubes of hard cheese like cheddar, some bits of ham or bacon (or veggie bacon in my house), and some chunks of roasted red peppers.

    3. ptrish*

      Pulled pork sandwiches plus a corn and black bean salad are my family’s go-to for this type of thing! Although it occurs to me that feeding 100 people pulled pork would take a while to put together, although at least it’s not labor-intensive.

    4. Sunflower*

      I’ve found that people love comfort foods at large gatherings and comfort food is also usually cheap food. Macaroni and cheese is always a hit- any pasta really. Pulled pork, chili and chicken fingers are a good idea too.

    5. Kay*

      My dad always likes to do fajitas for family gatherings. You can marinate chicken in the cheapest italian salad dressing you can buy and grill it. Then just slice up and serve with condiments. Not sure how much it would cost for ~100 people, but because it’s marinated, the meat is juicy and flavorful and we never have any complaints. If you keep it simple with the toppings, it should be good but not too much. Where things get pricy is when you start adding a ton of guac, or alcohol and such.

    6. Connie-Lynne*

      Tacos and pasta salad are great ideas! I’ve done a taco bar before for large groups, if you make taco filling and a grilled veggie filling, then do the beans or posole on the side, it lets people with food needs sort their own self out. If you have time, you could make enchiladas, as well.

      Whenever I’ve got a big party coming over, I grab half-size aluminum trays from Smart & Final. Bought in stacks of 10, they’re less than a buck each. You can make enchiladas, mac & cheese, or any kind of casserole in them, stack ’em in the fridge (put cookie sheets in between to keep from squashing the one on the bottom, and then re-heating and cleanup are super easy!

      Red beans & rice, collard greens, mac & cheese, and an awesome salad will also do ya for a large gathering. I like to do the redbeans in a big pot, then keep them warm by parceling them out into a crockpot. Keep a large rice cooker out and refill it periodically, and you’ll be golden.

  17. Shell*

    I need a new fandom! Finally stepped away from my current (I guess most recent) one the other day. I love the source material, but for me fandom is principally about the interaction and I wasn’t finding enough of what I want there. When I’m getting more rawr than joy when I participate, it’s time to go.

    As a serial fandom monogamist, now I need something else to turn my fannish (and writing) attentions onto. I’m still eyeing MCU with interest, but I faded out from that one when I couldn’t keep up with all the source material (I don’t have cable, so I don’t watch Agents of SHIELD/Agent Carter, and a lot of the streaming stuff isn’t available to us Canadians). I’m considering rereading all my FMA manga and jumping back in there, but I’m open to new stuff too.

    What fandoms are you in, AAMers?

    1. Kay*

      Orphan Black! I am ob-sessed. It’s available streaming on Amazon Prime.

      MCU is intense but SHIELD and Agent Carter are totally worth it. SHIELD is a bit of a slog until late in season 1 but it then picks up and makes it all worthwhile. Agent Carter was love right out of the gate.

      I also kind of loved Galavant, which is another type of geeky/weird TV. Just 8 episodes, definitely worth it.

      1. Myrin*

        Oh man, I watched the first four episodes of Galavant and since then have been swamped with uni work. It will be over come the 20th, though, and me and my sister are already anticipating that date to finally watch the rest!

        1. Kay*

          I think the words “cracktastically delightful” are the best ones with which to describe Galavant.

          OP, I also thought of one: Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Yes, they are on paper, for kids. They are also AMAZING. Better characters, world-building, writing, and story arcs than 99% of adult shows out there. Just wonderful. Lots of manga references, too, since you mentioned that you like that.

          1. Shell*

            AtLA! I loved AtLA (Toph is my queen, no lie). I watched the first two seasons of Korra at a friend’s place on the regular as it aired; none of us were very impressed by the plotting of Korra. Our collective opinion was that the plot arcs were rushed because the writers were so invested in having a new plot arc start and end every season when each season contained less episodes than AtLA’s seasons. We did like the characters mostly. Were the third and fourth season better?

            1. Myrin*

              I have only seen AtlA, not Korra, but I’ve heard the third and especially fourth season were vastly better than the first two. And


              Korra actually ends up with another woman. They don’t do more than holding hands, but it’s heavily implied that they’re in a relationship and shortly after the series ended the creator also confirmed that. So, if you’re into queer relationships, I’ve seen that particular one making people very happy from the start.

      2. dead as dead can be*

        Yeah, Galavant was good stuff. I hope it comes back.

        Although – I really don’t know a lot about Musicals. As much as I enjoyed Galavant (and Dr Horrible comes to mind as a similar pleasure), I sometimes wonder how painfully naive my appreciation of these works is. Like, in Dr Horrible, the first song in Act 2 is this kind of interweaved counterpoint duet sung by DH and Penny, from their contrasting negative and positive outlooks – and I love it a lot, it’s magic. But I have this little voice in my head that wonders if I am, to some extent, being suckered in by something that a more knowledgable fan of musical theater might consider a cliche? I mean, to a large extent, it doesn’t matter – if I like it, I like it. But my lack of knowledge makes me wonder just how unsophisticated I am.

        1. Connie-Lynne*

          Here’s the thing: why worry whether you’re unsophisticated or not, as long as you love it?

          I personally didn’t watch Dr. Horrible because, as someone with a theater degree, I found the Buffy Musical so amazingly painfully bad I didn’t want to see another Joss Whedon musical. BUT I have tons of friends who care less about glaring production flaws who loved it, and I don’t consider them unsophisticated, I just figure they’re lucky enough not to have a particularly annoying type of internal critic.

          When I was in theater school, we all would talk about “turning off the work switch” in our minds when we saw shows. It took effort, but sometimes you could make yourself give in to the enjoyment and ignore the other stuff. Like, I love _Flash Gordon_ the movie, and the effects are cheeseball, the script is embarrassingly sexist, and the scenery is chewed so hard that I’m surprised it doesn’t have holes in it.

          The supporting cast is almost entirely super-talented Shakespearian actors! They must have LOVED having permission to be so awful!

          So, you know, enjoy whatever it is you enjoy. There will always be people who don’t like what you like, and that’s OK, it means we get more variety in our lives. Don’t let your worry about other peoples’ judging hamper your fun — they may be trying to turn off their own internal judge to have a good time!

      3. anonima in tejas*

        yes! Orphan Black! We are watching something else, but I am really excited about Season 2 and 3.

    2. Myrin*

      Hmm, since I don’t know your tastes this is kind of shot-in-the-dark, but I’m really into In The Flesh (they cancelled it, though. Let’s not talk about it or I might cry), it’s so great.

      Leverage, if you’re looking for something funny and lighthearted and entertaining and cool, and also something that’s already finished (five seasons, the last one airing in… 2012, I believe?).

      What else? Oh, since you’re asking about fandoms specifically, I’ve found the Gravity Falls one to be awesome. I don’t know if you like cartoon funny scary mystery but if you do, it’s an absolute highlight. There are hidden messages throughout the series and the hardcore fans are always on the lookout for the most obscure hints while I’m just sitting there in awe. Definitely worth it though.

      (I’ve also been in some fandoms where I vastly prefer the fandom acitivity to the actual canon or even only participate in the former anymore. It’s weird but fun.)

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        Leverage! Oh, I miss that show. I just finished watching season 1 of The Librarians which is John Rogers latest show and also features Christian Kane. But Leverage! <333

    3. brightstar*

      Supernatural has a very active fandom, with the drawbacks of misogny against female guests on the show, and the usual shipping wars, but it’s been around for 10 years and could take a long time to get caught up if you’ve never watched it.

      What about Outlander? The first part of Season 1 has just been released on DVD and it seems to have a fairly active fandom. I loved the show because I’m a sucker for time travel, cute men, and action which the show has.

    4. Gem*

      I’m in the same boat!

      I’m still hanging around in the Merlin fandom, despite the show being over for years as its still my favourite. I’m not sure what you’re into, but as a previous commenter said, Orphan Black is on Amazon Prime (still on my to-watch list), as is Constantine.

      I’m really into a podcast called Welcome To Nightvale, which has a decent fandom. Dr Who? I mostly am in Western media fandoms, so not sure how much help I can be to you.

    5. Claire (Scotland)*

      I started my fannish career with Firefly, which will always be the fandom of my heart. Moved on to Supernatural (show is still going and I still enjoy it, but I don’t think of myself as being in the fandom any more) and Stargate Atlantis (the fandom was AMAZING, the show was… less so). Then I somehow fell into a music fandom thanks to Adam Lambert and that’s still going strong (though a totally different experience of fandom that those based on TV shows!). And then I wound up in Teen Wolf fanom thanks to a bunch of enabling fangirlfriends, who dragged me into it. I am, um, not much of a fan of the show itself (I loved the premise and it had SO MUCH potential, but ugh Jeff Davis is not a good showrunner), but the fandom is fun and I enjoy Tyler Hoechlin’s face so it keeps me happy. I am currently contemplating whether to go to a Teen Wolf con in the summer so I can see Hoechlin’s face IRL. I don’t have any other cons planned currently, so it’s tempting.

      And I am sort of MCU fandom-adjacent – I love the movies and the TV shows (AGENT CARTER!!!) and I read some fic every now and again, but mostly I reblog stuff on Tumblr and wish for a Black Widow movie. :D

      1. Claire (Scotland)*

        Oh, Doctor Who! But, hmmmm, am I in the fandom? I don’t think of myself as being a Doctor Who fangirl, but I love the show and have been to a couple of cons. I tend to think of myself as being in a fandom when I seek out fic, which I don’t do for Who.

        1. Myrin*

          I’m sorry Claire, I seem to be answering to every single one of your posts, but I find myself agreeing with you on all the things – I, too, only consider myself part of a fandom if I seek out fics! (Or art. I have some stuff where I read some fics but primarily look at art where I’d consider myself in the fandom.)

          1. Claire (Scotland)*

            I see a lot more fanart than I used to thanks to Tumblr, but it’s never going to be something I seek out. My brain just isn’t wired that way. I need WORDS ;)

      2. DPS*

        Yep, I ended up in that same music fandom too at one point, not sure how but that’s ok :D

        1. Claire (Scotland)*

          :D I dragged every fangirl friend I could into Adam fandom with me. I still have no memory of how I got there myself, but I wasn’t going down alone.

      3. Myrin*

        Ugh, don’t get me started on Jeff Davis – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much obvious incompetence in my entire life. So many decisions that just make me want to tear my hair out! I’m in a niche of the fandom, though (in fact, almost everyone I follow on tumblr I know from TW originally), and it’s super fun! You just have to know with whom to surround yourself. And yes, Hoechlin is such a likeable person. I want to cuddle him.

        1. Claire (Scotland)*

          Yeah, I use the same tactic that got me through in SPN fandom – find the people who have the same interests and ships and attitude to fandom as you do, build yourself a quiet corner of the fandom where the drama doesn’t reach, and enjoy. Most of my TW fandom stuff happens on Tumblr, so it’s easy enough to manage my experience (blessed be the xkit guy, though, seriously!).

          Oh jeez, Jeff Davis is a trainwreck. What the show needs, more than anything else in my opinion, is a showrunner who can plot story arcs coherently. Every season is just this MESS of stuff he’s thrown at the writers. Stuff like consistent character development would flow much more easily if the plot didn’t require twisting them into whatever configuration was required to fit the latest bright idea Jeff had.

    6. Tris Prior*

      Lately Boyfriend and I have been obsessed with Continuum. If you’re into time travel stories you might like it – and it’s got Cigarette Smoking Man from X-files in it!

    7. DPS*

      I spent about 8 years in Harry Potter fandom, and then jumped around a lot- MCU, Supernatural, Glee, Star Trek (mostly reboot), Teen Wolf, NCIS, Merlin, bits of Lost Girl and Dresden Files, Game of Thrones/ASOIAF, and possibly way too many others…:D

    8. Felicia*

      Orphan Black! (which is Canadian). Lost Girl, and Bitten which are also Canadian (our country makes some kick ass female led fantasy/scifi) I personally had no trouble streaming Agent Carter and I am Canadian as well. The internet finds a way!

      Also lately, Shameless (US), Doctor Who and I’m revisiting Harry Potter

    9. VintageLydia USA*

      Dragon Age! I’ve been a fan since the first game came out about 7 years ago. The third game released in November. I’m going to start working through the official novels but in the meantime there is SO MUCH art and fanfiction out there. So much. It’s one of those stories where the player character is an open to role playing so there is a ton of interaction in the media without wading into fandom–but the fandom is mostly pretty great. Just avoid the Bioware forums. /r/dragonage (and all related subs) on reddit really embodies what I think a good gaming fandom can be. Few people are super nitpicky and everyone is just talking about a thing they love instead of just bitching about it. Just watch out for spoilers. I spoiled myself on purpose and I kinda regret it.

      The silliest thing got me into this game, though. It was one of the few games where you could play a female main character, plus there was a dragon on the cover. I am a ridiculous woman. Thankfully the story and lore really lives up to it’s hype (even the second installment. Don’t listen to the haters. DA2 is great!)

    10. Anx*

      I cannot use Tumblr anymore (my computer’s OS is too old to support new browsers), but I found OB to be a pretty decent fandom.

      I’m a Fringe fan so this week hasn’t been a very happy fandom week for me. Despite S4 and S5, I still don’t think of William Bell as the bad guy.

    11. Can't decide on a consistent name*

      Doctor Who is a great community. I jumped in a few years ago. You can start off with the reboot (Season 1/Ninth Doctor/NuWho) and not feel lost at all.

      I also highly recommend Sherlock (BBC version). That is a very active fandom too.

  18. Audiophile*

    I cracked the screen on my LG G3 and definitely killed the digitizer, because it’s not recognizing anything.

    Anyone know if Go phone will work if I switch my number to it temporarily?

    1. Alice*

      Are you AT&T? that’s what comes to mind when you say Go-phone.
      When I bought my phone, I wanted a specific phone and they only had it as Go-phone. I asked, and they had no problem just registering it as a normal phone on the account.
      Not sure if that helps!

      1. Audiophile*

        I am on AT&T. I’m under contract. And someone’s going to fix my screen for me, but I need a phone temporarily until it gets fixed. So I was trying to see if I picked up a Go phone, and put my number on it, would it be an issue?

        1. TL -*

          Nope. They’re not allowed to specifically say this at the AT&T store, but you can totally put your SIM card in any AT&T phone, including the cheap go phones and you’ll be fine. I used to keep one around just in case.

            1. Observer*

              No. You just put the sim into another phone. I’ve done this on more that one occasion.

            2. Observer*

              Oh,yes, Noah is right that you need to have the correct sized SIM, but that’s the only issue.

              1. Audiophile*

                Wow this is so much easier than switching phones when I was on Sprint. It usually involved numerous calls and tech support.

    2. Noah*

      If you have AT&T, you should just be able to swap your SIM card into the Go phone. It is little more complicated now than it used to be because there are three different SIM card sizes: standard, micro, and nano. Looks like the LG G3 uses the micro size, so just pick a Go phone that uses the same size.

      1. Audiophile*

        Awesome! Someone’s going to fix my phone for me, but until then, I’d like to have an operational phone.
        I may just buy something from Swappa or EBay for cheap, because I definitely need a backup now that I’m not on Sprint anymore.

  19. Kay*

    Thank you for everyone who offered make or break house advice last week! We wrote an offer on Thursday night on a house that we’re in love with and we’re currently in negotiations. Hopeful all will go well. It’s kind of nerve-wracking, though, so I’d appreciate good vibes and any advice for staying zen!

    Of course, the legislature then chose Friday to start playing budget games with the appropriation for the small nonprofit I work for…so here’s hoping that doesn’t go any further than the brainstorming phase and they keep our (really small in the scheme of things) funding mostly intact.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Purchasing/selling real estate is one of the top five (?) most stressful things in life. But the stress is temporary. Closing day comes and the stress level goes way down. And for all that work/worry you have something that will be yours for a looong time. Stay zen by picturing your goal being completed, you are in the house and unpacking your things and having a great time doing that.

  20. Pix*

    Hi everyone, I’ve been reading here for a while but never commented nefore, but you are a wise group of people and I could use some advice. Last Monday my younger sister (22) had a baby – but only found out she was pregnant an hour and a half before she gave birth!!! She had no bump, no symptoms, nothing.
    Obviously this is a pretty big shock for her and the rest of the family, and while I’m excited to be an aunt, I wondered if you all have any advice or suggestions on the best ways I can support her and be there for her without making her feel even more overwhelmed? She’s always been quite sensitive and prone to anxiety but so far she seems to be dealing pretty well – or is in public at least.

    1. Kay*

      OMG. Wow. That is pretty much my nightmare, right there.

      Obviously this depends on how she’d take it, but I wonder if a belated and small, intimate baby shower with lots of love and support and some of the things she’ll need going forward would be a nice gesture. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of explaining in her future but I’m also sure there are some people who will blink a few times and say, okay, moving on!

      If the father is in the picture I wonder if his family will be interested in being part of that too.

      1. Pix*

        Yep, the father is her longush-term boyfriend, and I know his grandmother is very excited about it! I saw him the other day and he practically had hearts coming out from his eyes!

      2. LAMM*

        Mine as well. There was a show for a while… I didn’t know I was pregnant or something like that. Made me paranoid for weeks.

    2. JMW*

      Oh my gosh! I think the main things a new Mom in her unusual situation will need is a sense of humor and some realistic perspective. When things are a struggle, help her find the humor in it. And try to remind her that whatever she is facing that is scaring her, there are others (sometimes millions of others) who have faced it and survived. Express your confidence in her ability to be a great Mom to help her gain her own confidence.

      Also, offer to watch the baby when you can so she can have a nap. Sleep does wonders for new Mom anxiety.

    3. ZSD*

      If I were in that situation, I think what I would want most immediately would be money. Can you and your family write her a big check to at least float her for a month or so while she wraps her head around motherhood?

      1. Pix*

        She still lives at home with our parents, and has only been working a couple of days a week, plus we’re in Australia so i think there’s pretty good social security for parents which is good, so I’m optimistic that that part should be ok!

        1. Natalie*

          In that scenario you could also provide research help – what programs are out there, what she needs to do to get them, etc. That would at least save her some time.

    4. Lore*

      I would imagine child care arrangements will be pressing–she obviously wouldn’t have laid the groundwork for leave from school or her job, or signed up with a daycare. So anything practical you can do to help with that, whether that’s babysitting, daycare research, or paperwork, will probably be a huge help?

    5. Al Lo*

      I have a friend whose brother and his fiancée found themselves in that situation… on the night of his bachelor party. He went to the hospital; the guys took the money they were going to spend on the bachelor party and bought diapers and baby supplies instead (and the wedding was postponed a few months).

      I agree with those who have said that helping her get set up sounds key — doing some shopping for the basics; reaching out to friends who may have hand-me-downs, or, for that matter, fielding the hand-me-down offers that will come in when people find out, and organizing the receipt of those items. Even just helping to prioritize what’s important now and what can wait until she’s got her feet under a little more could be helpful.

      1. C Average*

        Whoa, that’s a wild story! (So is the one you’re posting under, but having this happen the night of the bachelor party? You could write a screenplay about that. But no one would believe it!

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Once I went to the store and bought a whole bunch of miscellaneous baby things for friends who had a baby. I had teething rings, and small bottles, a couple of soft toys and a lot of other stuff. Nothing was that expensive, but it was a box that they could keep going back to and find random things they might need. Some of the stuff you would not use right away. But it was the type of things – when you need it, you need it and who wants to run to the store at 10 pm or 5 am? Our friends got a big kick out of the gift.

    7. BRR*

      I would just ask her. Different people want different things and this is a more unusual situation.

    8. OriginalEmma*

      Make up ready-to-eat meals for her (and her care givers or family – whether that’s her partner, her mom, etc.)! Not just a big tray of lasagne (but if it is, make sure to cut it up into portions for easy re-heating) but a variety of tasty and healthy foods. Perhaps you can take a leaf out of TheKitchn’s book and do a freezer-meal party where a bunch of you gather to prepare these meals for the next few weeks.

  21. Computer Guy Eli*

    There’s this girl I’ve known since kindergarten that I’ve had a crush on, I’m 19 now and I’m planning on asking her out this week.

    Advice? Tips? “Go get’m tiger”s?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Where do you see her now? I assume you know her through school, but now that you’re presumably not in school anymore, how do you interact? And what are you planning on asking? For a date? to be in a relationship?

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        She works at the local gas station. I’m planning on asking her to the movies this weekend.

          1. Computer Guy Eli*

            I’ve been trying to hype myself up for days! Just gotta get rid of the jitters.

    2. ZSD*

      Does she know you have a crush on her? And have you checked with her friends to see if they think she’d be interested? I think doing a little third-party reconnaissance is a good idea for teens.

      1. Computer Guy Eli*

        I wouldn’t imagine she knows. I am pretty good friends with one of her friends, actually…

        1. ZSD*

          Actually, now that I know your plan is to go to the gas station and ask her, I don’t think you need to do the reconnaissance. You’re doing the brave and respectable thing (asking directly in person), so she’ll probably react well.
          Just be sure that you make it clear that you intend the movie trip to be a date! In college, a guy asked me if I wanted to go see a Coen Brothers movie, and I said I’d love to. It wasn’t until we got to the movies that I realized he had thought it was a date. I thought we were just going to a movie we both were interested in. That was awkward! So be sure to use a word/phrase like “date” or “go out” when you ask her so that she knows what she’s agreeing to.
          Good luck!

          1. Computer Guy Eli*

            Oh man. See this is why I appreciate insight like this, because I never would’ve guessed that I could be misunderstood. Time to rethink my line…

            1. the gold digger*

              Oh sure! I had a huge crush on my physics lab partner when I was in college. One day, in lab, he asked if I wanted to go to some dance.

              I asked, “You mean with you?”

              He was confused. “Of course I mean with me.”

              But I was worried that if I said yes, he would say, “Well I hope someone asks you!”

              Be specific and be brave. Women love it when men have the guts to take the risk of asking them on a date.

              PS I went to the dance with him and met his roommate, whom I decided I was going to marry, which I almost did, but broke off the engagement a few months before the wedding. That may have been a big mistake. The guys to follow were not better – except of course the man I did marry.

              1. Computer Guy Eli*

                I’m just concerned that my ‘bravery’ will be written off as pathetic/delusional. I guess I’m just writing up horror stories in my head. Either way, this’ll be the first time I’ve ever asked someone out before.

                1. ZSD*

                  Not at all! What you’re doing is much better than when guys ask girls out via email or otherwise evasive methods.
                  Now, I have to be honest and say that there’s always the chance that she’s not into you and that she’ll find the fact that you’re envisioning going out with her at all pathetic/delusional, but I can pretty much guarantee that she’ll respect the *manner* in which you’re making the attempt.
                  (And obviously I don’t know you or this woman and thus have no idea how she feels about you!)

                2. Andrea*

                  A sincere, thoughtful, approach is not pathetic. It’s charming and even if it’s not appreciated now for some reason outside your control, it’s lovely and worth doing. Even guys I said no to at that age I remember fondly and I hope they remember me that way too.

                3. ZSD*

                  But don’t write up horror stories in your head. The worst that will happen is that she says no, and really, there’s probably a good chance that she’ll say yes.

                4. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  If she’s a nice person, she’s not going to find you pathetic/delusional even if isn’t into you that way / says no. If she’s not a nice person, then bullet dodged. (Kind of like job hunting!)

                  I think most often when women are annoyed by being asked out, it’s when it’s some dude who doesn’t even know them and has barely established a connection with them before asking. This is someone you’ve known for years, and you presumably think she’s a nice enough person to want to go out with her, so I would trust that no matter what her answer, she won’t think anything rude about you.

                5. fposte*

                  Try writing up some good stories in your head. I’m serious–think about okay ways it could go instead. It’s better for you and for the outcome.

                  Be clear and specific, as people are saying–“Hey, could I take you to a movie this Saturday?” and have a movie or two to suggest. You’re already waaay ahead of many people by avoiding the dread “Do you want to hang out sometime?” You might want to be prepared for your next step beyond her yes, maybe, or no–“Okay, great–how about I pick you up at [time]”; “Yeah, I know schedules are hard. Text me if it looks like it’ll work out”; “Okay, that’s cool; I just would have kicked myself for never asking. Have a good weekend.” You know, that kind of thing.

                  And no, she’s not going to look down on you. You’re asking a perfectly reasonable thing, and presumably you know her well enough to know she’s not a mean person. You’ll be okay whatever happens.

                6. C Average*

                  OK, I have to share a story here, because I think it’s a good story for guys like you to hear.

                  Back when I was in my mid-twenties, I had a very nice boyfriend and definitely wasn’t looking. Every day on my way to work, I stopped at the local food co-op and got a coffee. The guy at the coffee bar was attractive and friendly and made a really good americano. My impressions of him were fleeting but positive; he was definitely a small bright spot in my morning.

                  One day he said to me, “I know this sounds a little bold, but if you aren’t taken, I’d love to take you out for coffee or dinner sometime. I always look forward to seeing you each morning, and I’d like to get to know you better. Would you be interested in something like that?”

                  I had to stammer back that I had a boyfriend but was flattered, thought he was lovely, and would absolutely be interested if, well, I didn’t have the aforementioned boyfriend.

                  I continued to get my coffee there every morning, he continued to look me in the eye and smile, and none of it ever felt weird.

                  I loved his confidence and his straightforward approach and the way he made it clear that he was interested and this was a date he was suggesting. No pussy-footing, no nerves, just “I like you, let’s go on a date.”

                  Even though I said no, nearly two decades later I still remember him and send a little prayer out to the universe for him every time I think of him.

                  We girls know it takes guts for you guys to ask us out. If we’re decent people at all, we’ll never, ever look down on a guy who asks us out politely and straightforwardly . . . even if the answer isn’t yes.

            2. Shell*

              I am a very loud advocate of using the word “date”. No other substitute. You need for there to be absolutely no ambiguity about your intention (though, of course, take a rejection with good grace if it comes to that).

              True story: when my last boyfriend asked me out, he asked me specifically for “dinner” and “a walk on the beach”. I still thought for three weeks afterwards that it was platonic (I am very much a “chill with the guys” kind of person and have no issues with spending time with guy friends one-on-one”; also, not great in the dating realm). We did straighten it out in the end and had a relationship spanning several years, but it was probably beyond bewildering/frustrating for the poor guy at first.

          2. Treena Kravm*

            I think a pretty standard line is something like, “I’d love to take you out and see a movie this Saturday. Are you free?” And then if it’s a yes, yay! Ask her if she wants to see a particular movie, but have a suggestion ready to go as well.

            If she says she isn’t free, it’s on her to suggest another time, ie, “Oh I’d love to, but I’m Xing on Saturday. How about Friday instead?” If she hedges and says she wishes she could but she can’t or she’s busy etc. that’s the “No.” Women are socialized to be as accommodating as possible, so that’s sometimes how the “no” comes out.

            Practice your graceful, “Ok I’ll see you around then.” just as much as the initial ask. Acting dejected/angry/pouty is how you’ll come off as pathetic, not the actual asking part.

          3. dead as dead can be*

            Just me, but I’d like to hear a sample script that uses the word “date” in it appropriately, that doesn’t also sound kinda silly.

            Also: it’s fine to ask her out while she’s at work at the gas station. Just be mindful that she’s not busy and that you’re not asking in front of a bunch of people.

            If it helps: try to keep in mind that you’re a fairly good “catch”: if I recall correctly, you have a job, you’ve got plans to work in the tech industry, etc. I’ll probably catch some flack for saying this, but I’ve noticed that young people will sometimes ignore reality in favor of superficiality – which is why you see letters in advice columns from young women who are unhappy that their unemployed boyfriend hangs out all day smoking pot and playing XBOX and makes her pay when they go out to McDonalds. I obviously don’t know the young woman you’re interested in, but hopefully she’ll have the sense to know a good thing.

            Good luck with this!

            1. Computer Guy Eli*

              I’m thinking “Hey, I was going to see Cinderella at the roxy this Friday, you should come with” And then if she accepts I’d say. “Alright, It’s a date!” And give her my number.

              It sounds ridiculous on paper, but I think I’ll pull it off.

              And I really appreciate that morale booster. I’ll try to keep a confident mindset.

              1. class factotum*

                Hmmm. That is not my favorite approach. I would be confused at this wording – the word “date” does not appear until after she has already accepted. If it were me (and I was never sure if guys even liked me), I would be wondering, “If it’s a date, why didn’t he say that at the beginning? My aunt uses language like this when we go out to lunch.”

              2. Treena Kravm*

                Yea, this isn’t the best approach. It could easily be a group thing that you’re inviting her to. The script from C Average’s story is perfect.

              3. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Yeah, agree with the others. You’re not telling her it’s a date until she’s already accepted. Be direct! You don’t have to use the word date if it feels unnatural, but you have to at least frame it as “I’d like to take you out,” “take you to a movie,” or wording that you’d never use with a platonic guy friend.

              4. Connie-Lynne*

                Try, “I know we’ve known each other since we were young, but I’m discovering that I really like you. Can I take you on a date this Friday? I was thinking Cinderella at the Roxy.”

                First of all, it acknowledges your situation, and it tells her straight up how you feel. That pause and breath is not just for you to gather your confidence, it’s for her to gather her thoughts, too, because she might not know! Then just ask her out, saying the word “date,” and you’re good.

                1. Connie-Lynne*

                  Oh, and PS., two friends of mine who’ve known each other for ten years started dating two years ago and got married last year. It happens! Sometimes it takes a while to fall in love!

    3. Elkay*

      Just to check – you’re not planning on asking her out while she’s at work are you? If so, don’t do that.

        1. ZSD*

          Out of curiosity, Elkay, why would you advise against this? Personally, I’d be fine with it, as long as he asks during a time when she’s not super-busy. I’d think that a gas station worker would have a fair amount of down time.

          1. Elkay*

            To me it just seems really inappropriate to go to someone’s place of work and ask them out. I guess if there’s literally no-one else around (no other customers or co-workers/management) it might be ok but it doesn’t sit right with me.

            1. vox de causa*

              I think it depends on the job. Asking during a slow time at a job like a gas station cashier is fine. Showing up at an office which has a front security desk and trying to get past them to find your crush and ask her out is not.

              And for Eli, go get ’em, Tiger! You can do this. I hope she says yes and that it’s a great date.

              1. Treena Kravm*

                I think that since he’s known her since school, it’s very probable that they chat every time he goes in anyways. Even if it’s just hellos and how’s your mother doing? kind of chat, it’s not the same as a guy asking out his waitress randomly.

          2. JMW*

            I agree it’s okay to ask her at work. It’s kind of casual that way. I can remember a couple of times being asked out by customers when I worked in a grocery store, and it was fine.

          3. INTP*

            Butting in but I feel like it’s generally inappropriate for someone in a customer service position. Their livelihood depends on keeping customers happy and they might feel pressured to agree or return flirtations if they are asked out by a customer, just like someone might feel pressured when asked out by a direct coworker with power over their job. There’s an imbalance of power in the customer service worker – customer relationship and I’m a bit stodgy about flirting in imbalance of power situations. It could also just be very comfortable for them or result in teasing and questions if their coworkers are in earshot.

            However, the fact that this is a gas station cashier rather than someone who works for tips or in a business where customer feedback is very important, and the OP is a 19yo (usually teenagers aren’t the ones successfully getting people fired), makes it a little different. I’m still on the “don’t ask people out at work” side but I think it’s far less inappropriate than, say, asking our waitress out before you’ve given her your tip yet. Just make sure none of her coworkers are around or anything.

            1. nona*

              Yeah, I agree with this. Although I think it’s fine for OP, it’s usually not a good idea.

            2. Merely*

              I’d also usually be opposed to asking someone out while they’re working their customer service-type job, too. However, I am a former gas station cashier who actually HAS been asked out on the job, and I wasn’t bothered by it at the time. I did say no because I had a boyfriend, but I was flattered and thought it was sweet. I do second trying to find a time when it’s not busy and her coworkers aren’t around, though.
              Also, OP, hopefully it won’t come to this, but take a “soft” no for what it is; a no. It is true that women are conditioned to reject men indirectly, by saying they’re busy, that they aren’t ready for a relationship yet, etc. If she responds with anything but enthusiasm, be prepared to drop it.

          4. ptrish*

            Yeah, in this situation it seems okay, but I’m also generally opposed–don’t ask out or flirt with people who can’t remove themselves from the situation. And most people can’t just walk out of work whenever they feel like, unfortunately :)

          5. Anx*

            I’m generally against this, because so often people, especially women, are a captive audience when working in service positions.

            I cannot tell you the amount of times I’d had to run interference to help take over a customer from coworkers who felt trapped. Even as a customer I tend to stick around if I can when I feel like a barista/server feels uneasy.

            In generally, I’m very much against asking people out or flirting with them at work. But I think so long as a person is respectful of the situation then it can be fine.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Maybe bring the dog? My friend and I have a running joke. He had decided no more dogs. Then he ended up taking a friend’s dog. His friend passed away. He now has in more conversations with women because of that dog. (This is very funny stuff.) Dogs can be a conversation starter or a conversation saver if there is a lull. This might help if you know she likes dogs.

      1. BRR*

        That’s one reason I got a dog, to be more social after I moved for grad school and didn’t know anybody. Now I’ve turned into an anti-social hermit and hate when people talk to me on the street haha.

    5. Hlyssande*

      One thing that is SUPER IMPORTANT is to be prepared for her to say no and take it gracefully. You sound like a very nice, thoughtful guy and I wish you the best of luck – but part of being a nice, thoughtful guy includes being able to take rejection and back off.

      You’ve known her for a very long time which is definitely in your favor, but she doesn’t owe you a date, so if she turns you down, you need to accept it. You can absolutely be sad or frustrated or angry or whatever you feel as a result! Your emotions are yours and they are totally valid! But if she does say no, please don’t take it out on her.

      There have been a lot of stories in recent years about men reacting very badly to rejection, so she might be wary. Think Elliot Rodger or girls being stabbed to death for turning down prom dates. So just be aware that she might not feel entirely safe in the situation – it’s got nothing to do with you, but what women deal with and have to be concerned about. As long as you’re kind, thoughtful, and accepting of her response, it should be fine! And if you react well to her saying no, that will stick around and be good for your reputation as an actual nice person and not a Nice Guy (Nice Guys ™ aren’t actually nice, they just pretend to be to hopefully get into someone’s pants – don’t even think about mentioning the Friend Zone).

      That said, good luck! I hope it turns out awesomely for you. I have every confidence that you can do this.

  22. Stephanie*

    I am headed to Anaheim end of this month for a conference. I was possibly going to stay with a friend, but we haven’t confirmed anything yet. Conference hotels are all booked up, so looking into other housing. Where are some areas in or near Anaheim I could stay? Anywhere I should avoid? (I’ll have a car.)

    1. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d recommend the Best Western Park Place Inn. It’s cheap, near Disneyland, and near the Anaheim Convention Center.

    2. Connie-Lynne*

      All the Best Westerns near Disneyland are pretty decent, and cheap (we used to stay at them for conventions at the Anaheim Convention Center).

      The proximity to Disneyland actually means that most hotels, even the independent “motor inn” style places, have to be clean and nice and generally have a better quality than you’d find from places that present themselves similarly in other towns. The Camelot Inn and Suites was another good indy hotel I’ve stayed in down there. Nothing fancy, but slightly-nicer-than-serviceable.

      I recommend looking at this site (hotels with Disney packages, which gives tacit recommendation to the niceness of the hotels), ignoring the package prices, and looking the places up on their own sites (for room-only bookings).


  23. OfficePrincess*

    My husband and I were feeling on top of our game this year and got our taxes filed in early February. We got our refunds and all was good. THEN my student loan company (federal outsourced to a private bank) contacted me and sent a revised 1098-E. So now I have to … Refile? Amend it? Something?? I’m not having much luck with the IRS website and we didn’t pay anyone to file for us so I’m kind of stuck. Anyone ever been in this position before? Any help would be very very appreciated!

    1. Treena Kravm*

      How much of a difference would your refund be? If it’s less than $40, I would just leave it. Or would you be getting more money with the amended return? I think amended returns you have to pay for, even with TurboTax or something unless you do it yourself. I would call an H&R Block type of place and see what they say.

    2. Natalie*

      I believe you have to file an amended tax return. I had to do that last year. It’s sort of a PITA because the amendment has to be done on paper and mailed.

      You can always call or email the IRS and ask. It might take them a while to get back to you, but you have 6 weeks before the regular deadline so it should be ok.

      1. Lipton Tea For Me*

        The number to call is 800-829-3903, just be prepared to wait as the budget issues and attrition have significantly impacted their ability to answer calls in a timely manner.

      2. Christy*

        And the IRS never communicated via email. If you get an email from “the IRS”, delete it and see if you can report it as spam.

        1. Natalie*

          Ah, I stand corrected. I just assumed they’d have a “contact us”
          email form or something.

          So call, then.

    3. TeapotCounsel*

      The form you need is called a 1040X
      Look on the irs website for that form and its instructions.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Right, it’s an amended tax return, and it’s really not so bad if you still have a copy of what you filled out before, as the 1040X form is just a summary, really, just two pages. Just copy your information over into the 1040X and update the one thing that was revised. And since the amended 1098-E was sent to the IRS, I would file it no matter the impact on your taxes. But you have 2-3 years to file, so no rush. :)

    5. Lipton Tea For Me*

      Just file a 1040x to amend the return. A 1040x fixes whatever was wrong with the 1040.

    6. OfficePrincess*

      Thanks everyone! I just pulled my hair out filling out the form. I hope the IRS appreciates the extra $8.

      Also, if I were queen of the world, any company the provides an incorrect form needed to file taxes (W2, 1098, etc) pays for a pro to file the amendment and pays anything owed. Who’s with me?

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Only $8? I wouldn’t bother. The IRS might contact you later if they calculate a that you owe the $8 based on the later form, but going ahead and filing an amended return might only gum things up.

  24. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Last night I had a dream that I was doing a resume review offer again (which I’m actually planning to do next week) and for some reason this time I was sending each person a small packet of kimchi along with resume feedback.

    I do love kimchi. Could this be a hit?

    Also, I hate tonight’s switch to daylight savings time. My favorite day of the year is the switch in the fall.

    1. Computer Guy Eli*

      Wait. We’re switching daylight savings time?

      So that means I’m losing an hour of sleep?


        1. blue_eyes*

          Yep. And I brilliantly decided to host a Purim party (Purim of course being the Jewish holiday where you are commanded to get drunk) tonight and then tutor at 10:30am tomorrow! Ugh…

        2. Natalie*

          We spend 2/3 of the year on so-called alternate time. I don’t understand why we can’t just stick with this time for the whole year!

        3. ThursdaysGeek*

          I’m reading late because in addition to losing an hour on Saturday night, I drove east on Sunday to a different time zone, and then worked today with co-workers who normally go to work an hour earlier than I do. So I got up for work this morning 3 hours earlier than usual! It’s 6 pm local time, and I think it’s time to go to bed.

      1. Rana*

        I’m actually looking forward to the time change for once, because my “alarm clock” is a chipper toddler who wakes at the butt-crack of dawn. Having her wake-up time be 7am instead of 6am will be a blessing. (Tonight, yeah, it will suck because of the lost hour. But it will be so much better after this.)

    2. Lizzie*

      When I was in college (in Michigan), the switch to daylight savings time always happened on the Sunday I had to drive back to school (from home in Illinois), and losing two hours of my day – one to the time change and one to the time zone change – always made me grouchy.

      1. matcha123*

        High-five for the mitten state :D
        I write in the Daylight Savings Time changes on my calendar here so that I can give my mom exact Skype times :)

      2. littlemoose*

        I’m doing that with business travel today, plus I’ll be getting up earlier than I would usually go to the office too. Not fun at all.

    3. GOG11*

      You’re doing resume reviews again? I understand if you don’t want to let any additional info slip before you’re ready to do so, but can you let us know any additional information at this time? I’d really love to take advantage of that opportunity and I’d hate to have a busy day and come to the site to find I’d missed it.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I love making kimchi. Mine is pretty good, and it’s vegan. So let me know if I can help you make this happen. :-)

        2. EA*

          Well, since I’m not a fan of kimchi, the lack of it won’t make me any more or less likely to purchase a resume review.

        3. Connie-Lynne*

          Aw man. I like kimchi, and I’m relatively confident about my resume, but I’d be really interested in what you have to say about it.

          Shipping kimchi is hard, though. I guess you’d need to get pretty serious with a vacuum sealer.

    4. Elkay*

      Europe doesn’t change for a few weeks. Positives of this, I get my AAM fix an hour earlier than usual in the afternoon. Negatives, all my regular meetings with our US office get screwed up.

      1. Monodon monoceros*

        Ugh, I hear you. I predict lots of screwed up videoconferences for the next couple of weeks.

        Also, I just travelled from Europe to Canada yesterday, and was so confused this morning. Between jet lag and the mobile phone not updating the time for many hours, and then the time change, it was all too much for my brain.

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        Oh my god, I was running a 24/7 NOC the first time Europe and the US had different time changes. Absolute chaos.

    5. YWD*

      DST is tough at first but driving home from work while it’s still light out is worth it IMO. I’ve been waiting for this for months!

    6. Tris Prior*

      I hate springing ahead too. Can’t even express how THRILLED I am that it’s going to feel like i’m waking up at 5 a.m. Monday. I have a hard enough time dragging my ass out of bed at 6. (night person required to work an early schedule. Sucks.)

    7. Al Lo*

      Spring daylight saving is my favorite day. I love the fact that suddenly it’s light out until a decent hour (~8 PM tomorrow night, around here), and it feels like summer is on its way, even if the weather doesn’t agree yet. It’s such a hopeful lift out of winter, and that boost of an hour all at once is such an amazing psychological lift.

      1. Al Lo*

        I’d be happy if we just stayed on summer time all the time. I LOVE the summers this far north, where it doesn’t get fully dark until 11 PM, and I’m never up in the mornings anyway, so it makes no difference to me whether it’s fully light by 8:30 or 9:30 AM in December. Either way, it’s way too little light at that time of year, and I’d rather it be light until 5:30, instead of dark at 4:30.

    8. vox de causa*

      Me too! This weekend is a drag every year. Gaining an hour of sleep? Completely awesome. Losing an hour? Bogus.

    9. Lipton Tea For Me*

      LMAO I love how our subconscious incorporates innocuous things into our dreams, sometimes I wake up with a smile on my face due to the twisted images in my head from the dreams.

    10. ptrish*

      I live in Senegal, and I LOVE when the time changes back–it makes the time difference between me and my family an hour shorter! And there’s no daylight savings here, so it’s not a Europe situation where there are only a few weeks of an odd difference–six months of five hours, and six months of four. Easy!

      1. Lizzie*

        When I lived in Namibia (most of which observes daylight savings, including the part where I lived), we changed time a couple weeks ahead of the U.S., so we’d go from being 8 hours apart to 7 to 6 over the course of about 4-5 weeks. It got very confusing!

    11. NewDoc*

      I lucked out — we are springing forward while I have a 28 hour call — so it’s now only 27 hours, I am so excited!!!

    12. Mimmy*

      I do like the Spring change because it stays light later but the changes, both fall and spring, can be tough to adjust to…it sometimes takes me a few days. Another reason to move to Arizona! lol.

    13. SaraV*

      I grew up in Illinois, but my grandma lived in Indiana, back when Indiana didn’t observe DST. I would get so confused as a kid when we would visit or call her on the phone whether or not it was the same time as us or an hour ahead.

    14. Gene*

      I’m going to go all pedantic on you all; it’s Daylight Saving Time, the middle word is singular. Always has been.

      And since it’s a weekend, I don’t lose an hour sleep, I just get up when I get up, I don’t care what the clock says.

      Tomorrow is a different story though.

  25. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Also, I think I’ve finally been able to get the ad problems on the site resolved, or at least 99% resolved, as of a couple of days ago. If I’m wrong and you’re continuing to have problems with ads (sound playing without your permission, or being redirected to the App Store on mobile), please let me know!

    1. jamlady*

      I took a few months off from the site and popped back in mid-week with no notice of any ads/ad issues!

    2. CA Admin*

      I got redirected to the App Store today on my iPhone. It was for “Game of War” or something along those lines.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Damn it! I thought I was home free. Would you try clearing the cache in the browser you were using and then let me know if it happens again after that?

  26. CollegeAdmin*

    Travel tips? I’m going to my first-ever conference in April, and I’m not really a traveler; the last time I was on a plane was for a class trip in high school. So, anything a first-time solo traveler should know?

    Please include the really easy stuff, like how early I need to be at the airport – I’m clueless!

    1. Elkay*

      Check your airline for how early you need to get there.

      If you’re taking carry-on it’s small/portable enough that you can fit it in a bathroom stall with you as you won’t have anyone to watch your stuff.

      Check carry on restrictions (bag size and liquids) if those have changed since you last flew.

      Some airlines let you check in online and pick your seat.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Oh yes, I take the TSA restrictions for granted, I can’t believe I forgot to mention them! Keep the ziplock bag in an easy-to-reach place in your carry-on…I don’t recommend checking them on the way out, for the same reason I recommend putting important items in your carry-on below. But on the way home, sure, if you check a bag, put your toiletries (but not medications) in there. From the TSA web site:

        “3-1-1 for carry-ons. Liquids, gels, aerosols, creams and pastes must be 3.4 ounces (100ml) or less per container; must be in 1 quart-sized, clear, plastic, zip-top bag; 1 bag per passenger placed in screening bin. The bag limits the total liquid volume each traveler can bring.”

        1. TL -*

          I never do this with liquids and gels and I never get stopped or asked about it.
          I am female and white, though, so that may help.

          If you’re flying out of a bigger airport, aim to get there 2 hours really. A smaller one, 1-1.5 hours should do you. Wear shoes that are easy to get on and off.

            1. TL -*

              The size thing they’ve caught my mom on but the bag thing I’ve never been called out on (fly out of multiple airports 3-4x/yr)

          1. Mander*

            I’ve never forgotten but my aunt forgot to take her bottle of water out of her purse once, while the whole family, including my parents, my sister & her family, etc. were on their way to see me graduate in the UK. They just about missed their flight because of the detailed going-over they gave every.single.thing. in her bag.

            She’s not a very organized person, so this made it worse — she didn’t really clean out her bag in preparation for the trip so it was full of random receipts and other junk. The TSA people swabbed every bit of paper, all the money in her wallet, absolutely everything. FWIW, she’s a nice white lady who is clearly retirement age.

            1. Hlyssande*

              I forgot to take a soda out of my backpack once and they just did a visual inspection of the bag and wiped everything down with something that detects explosive residue. Took like two minutes.

        2. Rana*

          If you can, choose the TSA security line that’s farthest from the check-ins – it’s almost always shorter and faster, and because it’s less crowded, the agents tend to be friendlier and more relaxed if something isn’t quite right.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      General rules:

      – Travel early in the day, if possible. Delays can cause ripple delays in the schedule, so you’re more likely to run into trouble later in the day. It also gives you more time to find another flight if something happens.
      – Get to the airport at least two hours before your flight leaves. You might be able to cut it a little closer if you know the parking and security lines at your local airport, but if you’re not sure, two hours. You need to check in, get through security, and be at the gate at least 30 minutes before your flight leaves. And there is always a chance a road will be closed or something.
      – Keep medications, one change of clothes, and any irreplaceable items in carry-on baggage. Sure, baggage delays are uncommon, but there’s no reason to pretend they don’t exist.
      – Have fun! I scour reviews of restaurants and sights to see and make a Google Map of the area before I travel to a new city, and I reuse and add to my old maps when I revisit, but then I like to plan things out.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        I’m leaving on a Sunday midday and returning on a Wednesday evening, and luckily do not have to drive myself to/from the airport; my father has generously agreed to play chauffeur.

        I am flying American Airlines and “Envoy Air as American Eagle” (whatever that means). I have a layover in Chicago both to and from the conference; each layover is just shy of a hour. Tips for layovers? Do I have to go through everything again/fetch luggage?

        1. blue_eyes*

          If you have checked bags, they will get to your next plane on their own and you shouldn’t have to go through security again. You just need to find the gate for your next flight.

        2. fposte*

          “Envoy Air as American Eagle” means you’re flying a feeder route; you’ll be on a regional jet, most likely. Your checked luggage will go on through, so you don’t need to pick it up between. However, there’s a chance they may do planeside check of your carryon if it’s largeish–some regional jets don’t have that much overhead space. That’s easy, because you just hand it over to the nice person on the jetway and then at the other end collect it from the other nice person.

          A layover just shy of an hour is really just shy of 40 minutes, because flights board 20 minutes before departure time; I’d just go straight to the gate for your next leg and then if you have time wander around from there rather than worrying about killing time.

          At the conference, check with your hotel on when you should leave for the airport, because they know that stuff cold.

        3. Schuyler*

          Your luggage will be transferred for you on a connecting flight, so you won’t need to worry about picking up your luggage. O’Hare is (currently) my home airport, and I’ve flown in and out of it about a dozen times in the last couple years or so, but honestly I’d be a bit worried if I only had an hour. Remember that flights begin boarding 20-30 minutes before takeoff, and that flight time is *not* the time when they close the doors-they’ll close before then. So if the layover is truly under an hour, from the time flight A lands to the time flight B takes off, you’ll really only have 30-40 minutes to get off the plane and to the next gate. Keep your fingers crossed that Flight A is not late, and get off the plane as soon as possible.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            You can tell the flight attendant you have a tight connection–sometimes they ask everyone to stay seated at the gate to let the people with short layovers off the plane first.

        4. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Well, if you’re only staying for 3 nights you might be able to get by with a carryon only. I prefer to do that, since then not only do you not have to worry about your luggage being lost, but it saves me the time and aggravation of waiting around to pick up my luggage from that damned carousel that doesn’t even have calliope music! ;) Packing light is an art form, and googling it will give you much better advice than I could type here.

          I prefer to have much longer for layovers, because a delay can mean you miss your next flight, but you can probably tell from my previous posts that I play it pretty safe. Still, on the return trip, as long as you’re not rushing home for anything specific, there’s little to worry about. I often fly in the night before…yes, sometimes I do take late flights, especially if I don’t need to worry about what time I get in.

        5. ptrish*

          An hour at O’Hare might be tight (but they will know that it’s tight, and probably won’t leave without you unless your first flight is delayed–just be reasonably quick) but at Midway that’s totally fine. Although I guess since it’s American, it’s O’Hare.

    3. ZSD*

      These days, I allow an hour and a half at the airport, and that’s assuming I check in online before I get there. Check in online in advance (24 hrs in advance if you’re flying Southwest). Even if you’re checking bags, there will probably be a “just dropping off bags” line at the airport.
      Wear shoes that you wear SOCKS with, and preferably ones that slip on and off easily. If you don’t wear socks, when you get to the security lane, you’ll be walking around with your bare feet touching all the airport gunk…ewww. (Also, I like to be able to take my shoes off and just wear socks on long flights.)
      When you get off the plane, find the *second*-closest restroom. The line will be shorter.
      Oh, once I stood around forever trying to hail a taxi until some kind person pointed out that there was a button to push to request that a taxi come get you. Not all airports have those buttons, but it’s something to look for or ask about if you’re having trouble figuring out how to get a cab.
      Alternatively, if you’re renting a car, you’ll need to find the shuttle buses to take you to the rental place. Tip the driver a buck or two.
      Is this a business conference or academic one?

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        ZSD, it’s more of a business conference – think Chocolate Teapot Design for Colleges.

        I think I can check-in online (American Airlines), but what do I then do with luggage?

        Thanks for the taxi tip – I am very nervous about potentially having to hail/ride in a taxi. If I’d gotten the okay from work earlier, I could have registered for the conference hotel that has a free shuttle from the airport, but I didn’t and the hotel sold out. We don’t have taxis near me and I don’t go into the city, so I have no idea how to hail one. Do most accept credit cards now? (Who is letting me go out into the real world, this is clearly a terrible idea and I am woefully unprepared.)

        1. fposte*

          There’s likely to be a commercial airport shuttle, too. Google “airport name” and “shuttle”–Super Shuttle serves most big American airports and there are a few others. That way you’d be waiting with people, and it’s cheaper than a cab.

          If it’s a reasonably sized conference, you may well run into other people going to it in the cab line–or other people going to your hotel for their own purposes–that you can share a cab with.

          1. CollegeAdmin*

            Oh, just checked: the back-up hotel that I’m at has a complimentary shuttle to/from the airport – hurrah! The hotel website says to call for more info, so I guess I’ll do that closer to my travel date.

            1. Treena Kravm*

              Usually, if they’re a big hotel, they just do a circle from terminals to the hotel. Smaller places will want you to call after you’ve collected your baggage, because they’re sending out a guy just for you and they don’t want him to wait around. If that’s the case, you need to know which terminal you’re in, so check before you go outside. Either way, you’ll be waiting under a sign that says “Hotel shuttles” or “shuttle transportation.”

              1. fposte*

                The Bloomington-Normal Airport is not the kind that has terminals :-). I’m not sure if it even has a shuttle sign–just look for a van out front or ask somebody.

        2. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

          When you get to the airport, go to the ticketing area for your airline. There will be signs for dropping off baggage when you’ve checked in online. It’s computerized, but I’m guessing you’re what they call a digital native, so no problem. Have your credit card and photo ID ready.

          When you get to your destination, after claiming your baggage (follow the Baggage Claim signs), look for Ground Transportation signs. There will also likely be an information desk with a human. Look for or ask for the taxi stand. Go there with your bags and wait in the line until you’re first in line. There will probably be someone there who will ask you where you’re going and open your taxi door for you. You don’t need to tip the stand person but do tip your taxi driver.

          Don’t be gullible, but also don’t be afraid to ask people where to go. Ask professional-looking middle-aged women – we like to help and are usually safe. (We’re good for something, apparently).

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            To add to that: do NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, accept a ride from anyone in the arrivals area who walks up to you and asks if you need one. Go to the taxi stand/line outside. The guys who ask if you need a ride will overcharge you and be super shady.

        3. Windchime*

          When you check in online, you can usually also pay for your luggage (if you are going to check a bag, most airlines charge $25 per bag). Print out the paperwork, such as your boarding pass and the receipt for the luggage.

          Once you get to the airport, there should be a little self-service kiosk near the counters where the airline representatives are. If you don’t want to do the kiosk, just get into the American Airlines line. Either the kiosk or the ticket agent will help you to print a big sticky tag that goes onto your luggage handle, and then you can just drop it off there. They will get it on the plane for you.

          After that, you go to Security. They’ll X-ray your purse, laptop, and shoes as you go through the metal detector. (If you’re like me, the metal underwire in your bra will make the thing go off and a [female] security agent will do a pat-down. Every. Time.)

          Good luck! It can be a little nerve-wracking to fly alone for the first time, but you’ll get the hang of it and soon be an old pro!

    4. Treena Kravm*

      Airport arrival times will depend on you airline and airport you’re leaving out of (so check the conference city airport too for your return flight). Google something like “Delta arrival times to airport.” It’ll give you a general time (usually 45-90 minutes before take-off. Keep in mind the absolute minimum check-in time if you’re checking bags (or not, they are different though). But then on the same page, make sure your airport isn’t on the list of airports that require additional time.

      Then I would make an itinerary for your travel days, and create it by working backwards. So you have a 1pm flight. The internet tells you you’ll need to check in at least 60 minutes before because you’re checking bags, and it recommends 90 minutes. You’ll be taking a car service/cab to the airport, and with traffic, you should expect that to take 45 minutes.

      So it would look like this.
      10:45a- leave for airport
      11:30a check-in
      1pm- take off

      BUT then you want to give yourself 30 minutes of buffer, so you tell the cab to come at 10:15. And then delays won’t be stressing you out, because now you have 30 minutes of buffer + 30 minutes extra check-in time built into the schedule. Feel free to adjust the amount of buffer time depending on your area. (Small airport with 2 airlines, you can leave a 30 minute buffer, but NYC/LA? leave a good 1.5 hours buffer).

      Whew that’s a lot. Hope it was what you’re looking for! Are you going to a different time zone? How are you getting to the airport, I can give you additional tips on that too =)

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        I’m flying Boston to Chicago to Bloomington, IL (and then reverse). Bloomington is a small airport, according to wikipedia, but Boston obviously is not.

        I just checked and it’s a one-hour time zone difference; not too bad. My father is driving me to the airport in Boston, but I’m not entirely sure how I’m getting to the Bloomington airport to get home – I mentioned in my follow-up comment to ZSD that taxis are basically a foreign concept to me. (I’m under 25, so getting a rental car is tricky. Plus, the conference hotel is pretty close to the airport, so it seems a little silly.)

        1. blue_eyes*

          Check whether your hotel runs shuttles to the airport. If not, try a service like Super Shuttle. Also any hotel should be able to call a cab for you. In a smaller city like Bloomington I’m not sure how you would hail a cab, but the hotel will surely have the phone number of local cab companies and be able to call one – they probably do it all the time.

          1. CollegeAdmin*

            Just checked – hotel has a complimentary shuttle to/from the airport, and if I’m reading correctly, around the local area. Major relief for me!

            1. blue_eyes*

              Perfect. Yes, many hotels have free shuttles “within a 3 mile radius” or stuff like that to get you to the major places nearby. Their business is hospitality and dealing with travelers, so they’ve got it figured out.

        2. fposte*

          Ah, Bloomington. Yeah, not a Super Shuttle town :-). Talk to the hotel when you get there; either they’ll be able to get you on a shuttle for your return or there’ll be people looking to taxi-share that you can join with and the hotel will either hook you up or tell you where to stand.

        3. TL -*

          Flying out of Logan, you’re usually good with an hour and change lead time on the flight – if it leaves at 3, get there at 1:45 ish. The road through the airport is a little complicated but it’s Boston. I fly southwest and the security line is never terribly long – my roommate flies American and security was just a little longer but not bad.

          Getting out of the airport can be a little weird but just follow the flow of people and you’ll be fine!

    5. the gold digger*

      Make sure you take your Swiss army knife out of your purse and leave it at home.

      Take an empty water bottle with you through security, then fill it on the other side. Take some snacks. They don’t feed people on planes any more. Food and drink is ridiculously expensive once you are stuck on the concourse.

      Put your phone charger in your purse, next to your medications. If you get stuck in Atlanta overnight because your plane has a mechanical failure, you will not be able to retrieve your checked bags and will have to rely on the sleep kit Delta gives you, which has only a toothbrush, toothpaste, t-shirt, and comb. You will need your charger and you will want your drugs.

      Do not put all of the 1/2 price post-Valentine’s Day candy in your checked bags, because while you are stuck in the hotel where Delta has sent you, you will probably want a snack.

      1. CollegeAdmin*

        Ooh, thanks for the tip about the water bottle and snacks – for some reason, I thought you couldn’t bring food with you!

        1. blue_eyes*

          You can’t bring “liquids or gels” through security, except the 3-1-1 rule noted above. Food is fine though. You may want to make sure your snacks are not smelly or messy as it can be a bit of a hassle to eat in a tiny seat. My favorite airplane food is bagels. I get fresh bagels (NYC!) the day I’m leaving and pack one with cheese or cream cheese to eat on the plain. They’re filling, not messy, and don’t get squished too easily. Dried fruit and nuts or trail mix is always a good option. And your favorite chocolate or other candy – it’s always nice to treat yourself, especially if you’re nervous about the trip! Also having your own food will mean you won’t have to worry about finding things you like at the airport. Airport food is always super overpriced too, so you’ll save money.

          1. fposte*

            Though I like the Argo Tea in O’Hare, which is right next to the CIBO Express stand, which has stuff other food places don’t. They’re right at the Terminal 1 end of Terminal 2, just across from the Starbuck’s.

          2. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Just don’t do what I recently did and eat your lox-and-cream-cheese bagel on a plane while you’re sitting on the runway. For some reason, I neglected to remember that such a treat is STINKY. I just realllllly wanted lox, and I felt really bad about it. I scarfed that delight right down as quick as I could.

          3. CollegeAdmin*

            I’m a huge fan of That’s It! Fruit Bars, so I might just bring a bunch of those. And chocolate, because…well, chocolate.

            1. catsAreCool*

              I like buying chocolate with almonds in it so that it also has protein. Besides, I like almonds, too.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          You’re partially right, though! What you’re thinking of is that you can’t usually bring things like fruit into other countries. They’ll let you bring them on the plane, just make sure to eat them before going through customs in your destination.

        3. Elizabeth West*

          Yes, you can! Don’t wrap anything in foil, however; they’ll make you unwrap it (because it looks funny on the X-ray machine). Any condiments, such as mayo packets, etc., will have to go in your plastic bag of liquids.

          Good things to take on the plane are sandwiches (not too drippy), nuts, Babybel or hard cheddar cheese, cookies, and crackers. Avoid anything liquid or smelly.

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            Although. One time when I was bringing a block of awesome cheddar cheese (Barely Buzzed from Beehive in Utah) through airport security, they stopped me and totally swabbed it for powder residue. I did realize afterward that it looked exactly like a block of C4.

            Which brings me to my best travel tip: don’t freak out about the security stuff. Read the signs, follow the rules as printed, and you’ll be fine. Most of what they do is for show.

            (But yes, always bring an empty water bottle and some snacks!)

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Ha ha ha, omg how awkward.

              I got pulled out of line and my backpack searched in Tucson because of my ankle weight (that I told them was in there). And my souvenir duffle got searched at Heathrow because I had books in it. At both airports, they were really nice about it and it was no big deal (though the Heathrow guy was very obviously screening, judging by his nice-but-specific conversation).

              Just be nice and polite to them and they are usually not hard to deal with. No jokes about terrorists, bombs, or anything like that, though!

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Swiss Army knife twins! I came here to post this. Yes, if you forget, they will let you fill out a mailer to send it to you, but it takes forever.

        Assume that you will get stranded without your checked luggage (you probably won’t, but prepare for the worst). So the advice about meds, chargers, is all good, and I usually bring a change of underwear on super long flights with lots of changes in iffy weather because I have had the Delta sleep kit or equivalent and it’s not a luxury experience.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Oh God yes, have a change of clothes in the carry-on. When I got stuck in Atlanta, Delta gave us nothing. I had jeans on and no pants to sleep in. Nothing but the world’s most disgusting convenience store near the hotel they sent us to, either. And if you’re a girl and you’ll be going close to that time of the month, be sure you put some feminine supplies in the damn carry-on. Yep, got caught there too–thank GOD the hotel had stuff at the desk!

          I have a very tight connection at O’Hare coming back into the US in May, so I am making sure I’m either wearing leggings or have them in my backpack. Just in case. I’m not planning on checking a bag, but you never know when they might make you gate-check.

          1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

            For years I carried a cotton sarong in my carry on — it is basically a cotton tube and can be a towel, a robe, a nightgown, a pool coverup, etc. etc. Hmmm, maybe I’ll dig mine out again.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              A coworker gave me a really nice pashmina that she didn’t want (it was still in the package). I used it as a supplemental blanket. It could be a towel, etc., too.

          2. cuppa*

            When you bring your feminine products, put them in a little bag or something. You don’t want to open your carry-on in the overhead to get your headphones and have it rain tampons down on the poor unsuspecting man in the aisle seat.
            …not that I know from experience or anything….

      3. Stephanie*

        Also, take your pepper spray out your purse, especially if you’re traveling to a country where it’s illegal.

        (I am probably on some no-fly list at AMS now.)

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Oh, I just double-checked and TSA does not allow it on board no matter what the laws at your points of departure or arrival. If you find it before you check a bag it can go in your checked bag, otherwise if they find it they will make you throw it out to get through the security checkpoint.

          That said, I often forget I have a small one in my coat, and I’ve never had it confiscated. *shrug*

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, I flew out DC and had a layover in Amsterdam (yay for cheap, last-minute airfare). I guess since we were entering the country, they made us go through screening again and they found that in my bag. I was pulled into a side room and questioned. They asked why I had it and if I knew it was illegal in the Netherlands. They let me go after I gave a statement and surrendered the spray.

              1. TL -*

                I flew with a leatherman pocketknife in my backpack for years before it was confiscated by TSA at Atlanta. (I completely forgot I had it in my backpack.)
                My brother flew a pen gun (unloaded, no ammo anywhere) in his shirt pocket one time.

                However, Pensacola did thoroughly inspect my keychain stapler and my dad’s rivets on his jeans generally raise suspicion, so, feel protected as you go through the airport.

                Moral of the story: TSA is a lot of miss and little hits when it comes to violations in my experience.

                1. Connie-Lynne*

                  I went black-powder shooting (Civil War flintlocks) with my father-in-law one Christmas, and put the spent caps into my jacket breast pocket. I then wore that jacket onto an airplane.

                  At our New Year campout, I reached to put a card someone gave me into my breast pocket … and discovered that I had flown with gunpowder caps all in my jacket pocket. I also regularly accidentally leave cough drops shoved in my bra, which go undetected during patdown.

                  Color me unimpressed with the TSA.

      4. catsAreCool*

        I always keep an extra shirt in my carryon so that if I am stuck somewhere overnight, at least my shirt will be fresh (although probably wrinkled).

        1. Windchime*

          Yeah, I take a fresh shirt, change of undies, and make sure that my toothbrush and deodorant are in my carry-on and not my checked bag. Then at least I can spend the night in comfort if somehow my bag doesn’t make it. (I’m fortunate and that has never happened to me).

    6. MP*

      Depends what airports are involved, some are busier than others, but I like to show up ~90 mins to 2 hours before boarding (but I’m also obsessive about being late). Look up the website for your airports and your airline, sometimes they list recommendations on how much time to allow for check in and security. A lot of airports have automatic check-in machines where you input all your info and it prints a boarding pass for you. Have your reservation code handy so you don’t have to dig it out of your bag while in line. Some airlines let you check in online 24 hours before the flight too, that’s worth doing because it saves time and eliminates one less thing to do the airport. After you’re checked in, go through security…..the rules seem to vary by airport and change often, but be prepared to take off your shoes, coat, accessories, remove your laptop from its bag and make sure your cell phone is turned off. You might be pulled aside for a second round of screening (no big deal, just do what the security agent asks you to do). There are all kinds of restrictions on what can go in your carry on bag – for example, you can’t bring liquids and gels through security anymore. This includes water. You can bring travel sized toiletries but there’s a limit. Your airline’s website should have all the details. Overall – it can be a little stressful to get through the airport and onto the plane, but leave lots of time so you don’t have to rush. Have a great trip!

    7. manomanon*

      Pack an extra set of clothing in your carry on that you can wear to the conference if your luggage is lost and if possible don’t check a bag at all. Give yourself 90 minutes to 2 hours before your flight if you’re in a big city and have to navigate long security lines. Small airport you should be ok with an hour before your flight leaves. If you can check in online ahead of time do so!
      And enjoy your conference!

    8. nep*

      I always make sure to have some bills handy that would be appropriate for tipping, in case that should come up at the airport, hotel, etc.
      Sitting on a plane for a while can be so dehydrating. Drink a lot of water throughout, especially the days of your flights. And — it might be just me, but I’ve got to have lotion handy at all times on flights.
      Bring some go-to foods you can put in Ziploc bags to have on you just in case. (Depends what you like, of course, but dates and nuts hold up well and they can really hit the spot if you’re hungry but don’t want to buy outrageously expensive airport food.)
      Breath mints / gum.
      A portable pack of those anti-bacterial wipes — priceless on trips.

      1. ptrish*

        Oh yes, tipping. I’m not sure what the going rate is, but generally $2 or so per bag to the guy who checks it in is appropriate. Although for a short trip, maybe you won’t be checking bags, which is much easier.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          I thought that that’s only for curbside check-in, outside the terminal. I have never seen or heard of anyone tipping a ticket agent, and I always bring mine inside to the counter for that reason.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            That’s true. But if you’ve gotten stuck in traffic, and you have 15 minutes to check your bags, then you’ll want to pay the $2 so you don’t have to worry. It’s better to be prepared and have the cash because this is the one tipping situation that you can’t really fudge. You don’t want to piss off the people who are in charge of getting your bags on the flight!

            1. nep*

              Exactly. I generally take care of everything at the counter — but there have been times when the curbside check-in was going to save me some much-needed time. It’s good to have a bit of cash handy for such occasions.

      2. cuppa*

        +1 to the hydration. I happily spend way too much money on a huge bottle of water after security because I was so dry and miserable on a plane once and felt bad continually asking the flight attendant for more water.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Oh one more thing about electronics–make sure you’ve charged them all up before you go to the airport. TSA has been making people turn on their stuff randomly, and if it won’t come on, they’ll take it away from you. (Worries about explosives in the electronics cases.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Yeah, they’d be pretty useless if you couldn’t charge them. But if you’re staying in a hotel and you forget your phone charger, ask at the desk. People leave them behind all the time and they might have an extra one that will fit your phone.

    9. C Average*

      Try to relax and not let it bother you when people tell you scary stories about lost baggage, delayed flights, annoying seatmates, etc. I am just one tiny little data point, but I freaking love to fly and I adore business travel, and I have never lost anything or had anything catastrophic happen. I’ve had a few minor annoyances that later made good stories, but overall I would put “flying to a conference in another country or city” near the top of the list of things I would enjoy doing for work. I hope you have the kinds of great, drama-free experience I’ve been lucky enough to have.

      You’ve already gotten tons of good advice from others, so I’ll leave it there. Good luck and have fun!

      1. ZSD*

        I agree with this! Thousands (millions?) of people fly every day without problems, so don’t be nervous. Also, if your luggage DOES get lost, you can usually talk the airline into giving you credit vouchers to make your next flight cheaper, so even bad stuff happening has a perk!

        1. CollegeAdmin*

          Thanks, all – I’ve gotten some great advice here and will definitely be bookmarking this thread!

          And C Average and ZSD – thanks for these last two comments; I was starting to get a little worried about losing all my luggage, missing my connection, and being trapped in Chicago forever!

          1. cuppa*

            Even if you do get trapped in Chicago, Bloomington is only about 2.5 hours away by car. Totally doable.

          2. catsAreCool*

            I’ve had a couple of snafu’s, but they turned out OK. A couple of times, I had to stay overnight in a city when my plane was overbooked. Once, my luggage came on a later flight than I have. It basically worked out.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Yep, I’ve only had a couple of snafus; most of the time, it’s not really a big deal. Though it would be more pleasant if I could afford a higher tier of service!

    10. Sunflower*

      A lot has been covered here but I’ll add some things that have happened specifically to me

      – The airport is actually very easy to get around. There are HUGE signs everywhere telling you where things are. You should get dropped off at the terminal your flight is departing from but technically you can go through security at any terminal. Once you’re through security, you can walk around wherever you’d like. Also, liquids security rules are out the window at this point. You can buy and bring as much liquid on the plane as you please once you’re through.
      – I saw you want to check your bag. I never check so I don’t know much about that but the help agents will be right when you walk into the airport. You literally can’t miss them. On that note, I’d recommend you try to not check your bag. It adds a lot of time on and makes me nervous, even though I’ve never lost a bag(sometimes i end up having to gate check bags because overhead compartments fill up)
      – Every airport is different when it comes to security. Smaller airports are more lenient. Some require you to put laptops in a separate bin, some make you take your liquids out of the your bag. There is usually a TSA agent shouting at no one in particular if you need to take anything out. However, you will always need to take your shoes off
      – When I travel, i prefer comfort. I usually wear leggings, a short sleeve shirt or tank top ad a sweater I can take- less amount of metal, the better. Planes can be really hot or really cold so be prepared for both. Wear easy to slip on and off shoes!!! Can’t stress this enough
      – On that note, Don’t freak out if you go through security and they end up patting you down. Some materials and styles of my clothing have random metallics in them and set the sensor off. An agent pats me down and I’m good to go.
      – Make sure to charge all your electronics fully. Every airport is different but many have little to no outlets available to you. Sometimes I have to go to a restaurant and eat in order to charge my stuff. I have an external battery that always helps me out
      – Read the TSA list of what constitutes a liquid and get familiar with the 3-1-1 rule. A lot of things like mascara, salsas, and jams count as liquids. Keep your liquids bag easy to reach in case you need to take it out during security.
      – Once you’re through security, find a monitor and check your flight to see if there was a last minute gate change or delay.
      – There is a little hole on the windows of a plane that control pressure and will sometimes look like they are cracked. It really freaked me out the first time I flew. I thought the window was broken and was freaking out the whole time. I assure you it’s totally normal.
      – Wifi isn’t offered on all planes and it will almost certainly cost money. You can get if your plane has wifi if you go into your trip itinerary.
      – Flight statuses change a lot. While a plane will never leave earlier than scheduled unless everyone is on board, it’s very common for delayed planes to change statuses. Some can end up taking off on time or delays can be shortened or extended. They will sometimes also change the gate on you. If you are at the gate the entire time, you’ll know about changes but I like to monitor it from my phone.
      – On a layover, monitor your second flight. If your first flight is delayed, you could end up in a pinch trying to make the second one. Good news is you usually are not the only one connecting so the staff is aware and is already working to make sure you either get on your flight or have an alternative arrangement. Although wifi isn’t free on the plane, it is free to monitor flight statuses on the airlines website.
      – I’ve never been to an airport without a taxi stand(Smallest airport I’ve been to has 12 gates). Don’t take a gypsy cab aka if someone walks up to you asking if you need a ride. Just stand in the taxi stand line and you will get one.

      Most importantly, don’t freak out! Airports can be intimidating as emotions are always high but the majority of the time, the worst thing you will encounter is a small delay. People are running late, pissed off. Just stay calm and if you need help, there is an agent at every gate who can help you.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Also, be nice to people who work there. They’re usually overworked and overstressed, and niceness tends to go a long way. Don’t yell at anyone when it’s not their fault.

    11. Onymouse*

      One thing I haven’t seen mentioned yet – frequent flyer miles! Yes, I realize you’re not a frequent flyer, but they can often be converted to other points that you do collect (or vice-versa). It’s free to sign up, but you just need to do it before your flight. (You can add the frequent flyer number to your reservation on check-in)

      1. littlemoose*

        Yeah, and even if you don’t anticipate flying a ton, the airline points can still be useful. I’ve converted mine to magazine subscriptions when they were about to expire and I didn’t have enough to redeem for a flight itself.

    12. FD*

      Is your company paying for it? If so, are they having the company bill them or are they reimbursing you?

      If the company is paying for it directly, always ALWAYS call the hotel 24 hours in advance to confirm they’ve gotten what they need. Usually a hotel needs what’s called a credit card authorization form or a direct bill application. If they haven’t gotten it by the time you get there, you’ll probably have to run it on your own card, which can be a pain.

      If you are running the hotel on your own card and getting reimbursed, be aware that when you check in, the hotel will generally put a hold on your card consisting of the full cost of the rooms, tax, and 15% to cover damages / incidental. (So for example, in my town, if you had two room nights at $109, your card would be held for $279.23– $109 x 2 x 1.1138 (tax rate) x 1.15 (buffer for incidentals / damages).) This hold can take up to a week to clear, especially if you use a debit card.

      You want to notify your credit card companies that you’re traveling. Most credit card companies automatically flag unusual out-of-town purchases, and won’t accept them unless you call your company to let them know you’re traveling. It’s a fraud protection thing.
      Finally, whenever possible, use credit cards, NOT debit cards. Credit cards have much better protection if someone gets your number and uses it illicitly.

      Finally, for anything you’re running on your personal card but will be getting reimbursed for, make sure you keep your receipts. If it’s a restaurant receipt, you want to write down on your copy the total amount with tip. If you’re driving, make sure you note your starting an ending mileage too.

      1. Schuyler*

        This was the thing I came back here to mention–credit card authorization form. If you don’t have a procurement card of your own from the college, and someone else in your office put the room charge on their card, make sure to get that person to sign the authorization form ASAP so you have it.

        I always take an envelope with me when I travel for business. If I forget, I ask for one at the front desk when I check in. That way I have a place to keep every receipt I get. I know you mentioned the shuttle is free, but if you have to take a taxi or anything be sure to remember to ask for a receipt (I almost forget this every time).

        I go so far as to write exactly what each receipt is for so that I don’t have any problems later when reconciling my p-card statement or, when necessary, seeking reimbursement. So my receipts will say on the top “taxi to hotel”, “3-8-15 dinner”, etc. That way they’re also easy to keep put away for future reference.

        You said go really simple, so here’s something that sounds dumb but is fundamental for me any time I travel. I make a packing list EVERY time I go somewhere overnight. I have my “perfect packing list” from my trip to Italy a few months ago but I still review it to make sure it’s still accurate. When I make a packing list I start from the morning and go through everything I need during the day; when I get up I need socks, undergarments, face wash, clothes, toothpaste, etc. Then I can check off every item once it’s in the suitcase (I love checking things off).

        Don’t forget to take business cards in case you meet colleagues you’d like to keep in touch with!

        1. Onymouse*

          The college probably has some sort of formal expense reporting system, but it can still be worth it to get a personal Expensify (it’s free for personal use) (or similar) account: simply use the app to take pictures of each receipt when you have a moment – on the plane, at the hotel, etc – and you’ll be glad to not have to dig through your bag for receipts when you get home.

          1. CollegeAdmin*

            Everything has to go on my own credit card and then submit for reimbursement when I return. And I think they require original receipts (not scans/photos), but I like the suggestion someone had of an envelope.

            However, I did submit a travel advance for the flights and hotel, so the largest charges are basically reimbursed before the trip.

    13. V. Meadowsweet*

      nthing most of what’s been said so far!

      I don’t know if any of the airports you’re going through have those enclosed security scanners, but if so you can ask to be patted down instead. It will slow things down because they need to call someone else in to do the patdown, but if you’re claustophobic it makes a huge difference.
      I think you said the hotel’s got a shuttle, which is awesome, but if you need a taxi at some point hotels are great about calling them :) (I always hope front desk gets paid well, because they always seem to have an answer when I have a question :) )

      TSA – be honest, sincere, and friendly. Don’t make jokes :)

    14. Dynamic Beige*

      While you’re not allowed to bring liquids through security such as a bottle of water… you can bring empty travel mugs. They were selling coloured steel ones at Costco a few months ago (I think the brand name is Contigo) and they are brilliant. They have some push button thing that keeps the liquid from spilling out and you can put the hottest water in there and not burn your hands, keeps it warm for about 4 hours (it’s room temp by then). Once you get past security, the price of a bottle of water is unbelievable… but the taps in the bathroom (or water fountain if you can find one) are free.

      When you get to your conference, the cups at all hotels and conferences centers are tiny and IMO unsatisfying. You fill your own travel mug, you get more and it stays warm longer. I do this all the time now, although all I usually do is fill my mug with hot water. Why hot water? Because I don’t drink coffee and have to limit how much caffeine I get. Conference centers/hotel ballrooms are notoriously hard to heat/cool. So having a warm drink is better than nothing.

      Also, you should dress in layers/bring a sweater because it may get too cool… and then too warm… and then too cool

    15. Soupspoon McGee*

      Get the the airport early (some say two hours before). If the security line is short, you can browse the bookstores or whatever you like.

      Take at least two pairs of comfortable shoes — one pair of slip-ons for the airport, and one pair for walking the city. Make sure your carry-on has warm socks, snacks, water, headphones, an extra phone battery, your meds and bathroom necessities, a sweater/sweatshirt, and the address of your conference. TSA is really awful about the four-ounce (or is it three-ounce?) rule, so little travel size containers are a must.

      At the conference, pick the most important things to visit, and at least one oddball session. I always learn such valuable things from sessions that are far afield from my work. Be open to talking to people, take a tour if it’s arranged, and take in at least one local restaurant. If you have time, walk around the city and visit one or two sites. I always stay an extra day on my own dime so I can explore.

  27. salad fingers*

    Just finished the Last Policeman trilogy. Great story, directly up my street, sad it was over, want a Bichon Frise sidekick. Pretty much a shoo in for a movie or TV adaptation. Thank you to everyone who recommended it — coolest way to find new books!

    1. Computer Guy Eli*

      I’m a security guard with a Bichon Frise sidekick named Panda.

      I really have nothing to add, but that series sounds awesome.

        1. Computer Guy Eli*

          Thanks! I’m not sure how those books describe bichons, but there is seriously no more cuddly dog than they are. If you want a pup that you can hug to sleep, they’re your pup.

          1. salad fingers*

            Houdini, the one in the trilogy, is unexpectedly ferocious, intelligent and loyal. Small but mighty and the perfect side kick. When he gets the chance to rest, he also appears to be snuggly.

            Who knows if this is accurate. I don’t tend to go for small dogs, but I do love love love cuddly ones. Noted!

    2. dead as dead can be*

      Yeah, it seems like a natural for a television miniseries.

      I don’t want to say too much about the books, but I thought the author did a good job of keeping the reader guessing through all three of them. I mean: it’s a great premise, but it’s also a bit self-limiting.

  28. Anon for this*

    There’s an activity I do that I don’t really enjoy. It’s very public-facing, but I can’t be more specific without giving away too much information, but think of it as a volunteer activity. I really like the other people there, I think of some of them as good friends, and I think we’d remain friends if I stopped, but I worry, because the people I’m closest to there take this activity really seriously.

    I thought I’d be OK doing this activity because I’m getting used to it, but it’s not something I look forward to. Sometimes I do enjoy it, too, but mostly I just see it as an inconvenience. I just feel like since I can do it and I’m not bad at it I should keep helping, and I hoped that I would really get into it once I got used to doing it, but I’m still not that crazy about it. Sometimes, when I feel like I’ve done well I really do kind of feel glad I’m doing it, but most of the time I feel like it’s a pain.

    Sorry to be vague, I’m feeling like I need to give up this activity, but I would love some feedback. Part of me just needed to type this out, too, because the more I think about it the more I think I should quit, but it’s really not that big of an obligation. Maybe I’m just burnt out and need a break for a while.

    1. Computer Guy Eli*

      I can’t help, because I have no clue the nature of this elusive activity. Are you embarassed of it? LARPing? FlashMobbing?

      1. Anon for this*

        No, it’s not embarrassing, it’s actually kind of cool, but I don’t like being in the spotlight either. At first I thought this might be good for me, like Toastmasters, but I feel like I’m treading water at it, although the people I hear from seem to like what I’m doing.

        Sorry to be so vague, but I think some of the other volunteers read this blog.

    2. Persephone Mulberry*

      I pick stuff up and let it go all the time. I blame the fact that I’m borderline introvert/extrovert…I’ll get the urge to participate in something, and then weeks or months later the novelty wears off and staying home in my pajamas sounds more appealing than whatever. So, I wouldn’t feel at all guilty that this activity isn’t resonating with you the way that you hoped. Are you concerned that the other people who enjoy this activity will judge/look down on/cold shoulder you if you stop participating? Could you save face by claiming a change in schedule/other obligations as your reason for cutting back/stopping?

      1. Anon for this*

        Not so much about them shunning me as just feeling like I’m letting them down, they put a lot of effort into this.

    3. MJ*

      There’s this new Japanese de-cluttering book out (The life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) – I am still on the waiting list at the library to read it, and the reason I want to read it is that the one piece of advice I have heard from it is this 5 word question: Does it bring you joy? I looked in my kitchen cupboard and all the old bowls that no longer bring me joy are now in the Salvation Army pile. What a helpful framework for decision-making!

      So does this activity bring you joy? If not, replace it with something that does. Or replace it with nothing, if having space in your schedule brings you joy.

      1. Anon for this*

        I get anxious about it, but while I’m doing it, it’s kind of a rush, and when people say they liked what I did, it’s pretty cool. So I don’t think it does, but it’s probably not as bad as I said in the original post. Like I said, it feels a little like Toastmasters for me, it’s getting me out of my shell, out of my comfort zone. And it’s not that difficult, but often I feel like I wish I had those few hours free some weeks.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          Is it something you have to do every week if you’re doing it? Or is it something that you can do on week 1+3 in March, and week 2+3 in April, with no negative consequences if you skip the weeks in between? Or is reliability important here?

          1. Anon for this*

            It’s supposed to be at the same time every week. That’s kind of the problem. It’s definitely a scheduled thing, and while I can skip it when I have something else going on, I can’t just say that I only want to do it 2-3 times a month.

        2. Natalie*

          It sounds like the only thing you’re getting from it is some cred, so to speak. You can get that elsewhere, through an activity you actually like rather than find a burden.

    4. INTP*

      Give it up. Life is full of annoying things you HAVE to do, it’s not worth it to also endure optional things you dislike.

      If you do feel an obligation in a contributing-to-society sense, I’m sure there are other volunteering activities that you wouldn’t dread so much.

      1. Florida*

        Absolutely. If you do not enjoy volunteering with that particular activity, then don’t do it. Or instead of dropping out completely, tell the people that you are taking a break to evaluate some things in your life, then do just that. Take a break for a few months. If you decide to go back, that’s great. If you decide your life is more pleasant without the activity, then tell them you are volunteering with another group (or whatever you decide to do with that time).

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Do you have someone in the group that you can really talk with? That might help you to finalize your decision either way.

      1. Anon for this*

        Yeah, I might bring it up with the ones I’m closest to, even though I know they’ll be the most disappointed if I quit.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Well, maybe, but it’s your time and you have to decide what you want to do with it. You should do what makes you happy–I’m sure they’d rather have someone doing it who really wants to be there, instead of someone who is just going through the motions.

          I’m starting to feel that way about skating. :\ *sigh*

        2. jamlady*

          They’re your friends, so I hope the disappointment only stems from missing you, not from you letting them down. If that’s the case, it feels like it’s more their problem than yours.

    6. A.K.*

      I had a similar situation about a year ago. I was naturally good at it, and other people struggled with it. I felt like I would be letting the group down if I left, but I really didn’t enjoy it. So I started by taking a break. At the time when I had planned on returning, I saw that other people who enjoyed it far more than I did had continued doing it and improved quite a bit, and I realized I really didn’t want to return. Maybe you can think of it as giving an opportunity for someone else who is more motivated to step up and have some opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have?

    7. C Average*

      Does this activity have any kind of seasonal cycles, offering a natural time to stop? Or is it ongoing? If there’s, say, a big annual event to which you build up, maybe you could quit after that event, saying you need a break.

      I’ve definitely had stuff like this. I was a volunteer coach for Girls on the Run, which is a marvelous organization with a mission I am totally behind, but holy hell was it a major time and energy commitment! I was so happy when the season was over.

    1. Elkay*

      Yes but I’m only up to season four because I can’t record it and forgot season five was on (I have a complex TV service set up). Waiting for Netflix to get season five.

    2. Mimmy*

      My husband and I used to watch, but we gave up after the third season I think? We’d felt it had lost the wit the first two seasons had.

  29. Elkay*

    Some days I really hate Facebook (and my nosey streak which means I have a near obsession with it). Got a horrible reminder today of a friendship group that dropped me a few years ago. I have no idea what I did but it rubs salt in the wound to see the reminder that they’re all friends and still doing stuff together. I just wish I could keep friends. I quite honestly think if I were single I would have zero conversations outside of work.

    1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

      Sympathy, Elkay. Facebook ambushed me today and after a hard week/month/winter/year I was too weary to fight it off. It pushed all my unfixable/unwanted/unloved buttons and I’ve been teary all day!

    2. Cruciatus*

      I don’t have any reassuring words, but I know exactly how you feel. Except my after work conversations are with my parents. I still don’t make enough money to comfortably move out, but it worries me that once I do, I won’t talk to anyone all day except my coworkers or maybe the cashier at Walmart or something. And while seeing things on FB can sting, if I didn’t have that, I’d “interact” with virtually no one most of the time outside of work.

      For me it was my high school group that dropped me–though never officially. They just started distancing themselves from me, though I didn’t realize until I accidentally found out about some party they went to and didn’t invite me to. “We, uh, didn’t think you’d want to come…” Sadly, high school was nearly 16 years ago but it still stings when I see they’re all still hanging out together once in a while (thanks, FB!). I was the one that originally brought everyone together in the first place in middle school!

      And ever since then I’ve never really made friends easily–although I don’t feel like it was anything obvious done on my part. Just more that opportunities don’t seem to present themselves for me like they do for other people. I feel like it must be me at this point but I don’t know what it is (and maybe I’m a little scared to know what it is). People at work do come up and talk to me (about non-work stuff, I mean), but then I’ll find out about these happy hours (and other events) they go to (thanks, FB!) that I wasn’t invited to. I’ve actually thought about buying that book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” on the off chance it might help (although looking at outlines of the book, it’s stuff I already know or seems obvious to me.) But maybe I need a refresher.

      1. Elkay*

        This basically describes what happened to me, including the one who was friends with them all individually before they were friends with each other. There was only four of us in the group, the other three planned/went on a weekend away when I asked why they hadn’t included me the response was “I guess you weren’t there when we decided to do it”, at no point did they think to ask me if I’d like to go along.

        I’ve done all the crap people recommend, going to classes/groups, volunteering. All I’m left with is a boat load of commitments and no enjoyment.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Try to figure out what you would enjoy. This sounds like round peg/square hole. You are pushing yourself into things that are not you and your reward for doing this is to come up empty. That sucks. I’d be upset, too.
          What would you like to do?

          1. Elkay*

            That’s not really true, I realised after I posted I should have said boatload of responsibility and no friends. On paper I like the activities but I’ve never made friends doing them.

    3. blue_eyes*

      Can you unfollow (or unfriend) some of these people? I had a terrible job a year ago and after it ended I had to unfollow some of my coworkers because seeing their posts in my feed was bringing back anxiety from the job. I liked these coworkers, so I didn’t want to unfriend them, and I may want to see their posts in the future, but for now I can’t handle it.

      1. Elkay*

        I know this sounds stupid but I don’t want to be even more out of the loop than I already am. Even though I know they’re not really friends at this point. Facebook is my only window into people’s lives and I don’t want to be more isolated than I already am.

        1. Kat*

          You know, it’s okay to be a loner. There is nothing wrong with anyone that doesn’t have a ton of friends or even a group.

          Facebook brings out insecurities and magnifies them because people think it’s an accurate representation of their lives. It’s not. People post what they think will reflect them in a “cool” light. The ones that post TMI? Not someone you want to be friends with.

          I am sending an internet hug your way.

          1. Elkay*

            In the cold light of day, you’re right. I can be a loner. Just sometimes I get lonely.

        2. Sunflower*

          Unfollowing them(aka their stuff does’t come up on your newsfeed) would let you control when you want to know about them though. When things come up on your newsfeed, you have no control over whether or not you see them. At least by unfollowing, you can decide if and when you want to see the updates.

        3. The IT Manager*

          Elkay, at this point they’re Facebook friends and not real life friends. I think that if you were unable to watch them from the outside you would not be less isolated. This watching and not interacting actually makes you feel more isolated.

          A good compromise is to unfollow. You can catch up with them occasionally, but its not in your face.

    4. Clever Name*

      Yeah, I feel you. I overheard a coworker talking about a get-together that involved “the ladies”. Except me. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt, but as I’ve gotten older, I’m realizing that I’m a bit of an acquired taste, asi it were. I do have a small group of friends, and they’re all like me, and they get me. Having friends who get you is huge. It’s taken a really long time to find them, to be honest. They happen to be fellow moms at my son’s gifted and talented magnet school, and I don’t think its a coincidence that we click.

      Maybe hide/unfollow those friends on facebook. At least for a bit. And remember that you are a unique human being, and that there’s no one like you, but there are other unique human beings out there who do/will like you. I promise.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      There could be two parts to this story.

      Part 1. The time you spend on FB could be time spent with real people and doing things together. (I’m not a real FB fan here and what happened to you with your friends is one of my many reasons why.)

      Part 2. Friends come and go anyway. That is normal in life. Google “Friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime.” It nicely offers an explanation as to why people come into our lives, leave our lives or stay in our lives. If you did not see it on FB you would still have some awareness that they are out there doing their thing. But you would not have it rubbed in your face.

      I know there were long dry spells in my life where the only people I spoke to were my coworkers or my husband. It’s an easy rut to fall into. Try to figure out what you would like to do differently.

      1. Elkay*

        Viscous circle really, I don’t have any “real” people to spend time with. This just hurts because they’re all friends from school and they make the effort to keep in touch with each other but my efforts have been rebuffed. There’s only so many times you can take a kicking without concluding you’re the problem. I like to solve problems but I can’t solve this one.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I understand a bit too well, I am afraid. In my 20s-30s, especially, people were so busy with each other and I thought where do I fit in? Sometimes I think that now. but it’s not as bad.

          I had to take a serious look at my definition of friendship. Friends should lift us up and we should lift them up. It’s reciprocal. Friends should enrich our lives, grow us in some way, add stuff to our lives that we would have not had otherwise.

          The only thing that I have found that dulls the sting is to move on to new people and new activities. What is hard here is that it seemed like I had to do that for a very long time- 15 years?–before I realized I had finally gotten something different. So I like you are saying I tried 16 plus times and came up with nothing and I just had to keep trying again. I put some energy into taking some classes and learning new things. That at least gave me something to fill my head for the moment.

    6. Schuyler*

      I am with you on this. This morning I learned something through Facebook that brought my most painful personal issues right front and center again and sunk me into a deep funk. So I can understand this hateful feeling toward Facebook… there was a reason why I didn’t use it all that often and I’m going to try and stop checking much again. I don’t contribute much, and up until a year or so ago I only checked it every few weeks or so, and I think I need to go back to that.

      I also think that if I didn’t live with someone the only talking I’d do when I wasn’t at work/school would be exchanging pleasantries with a store clerk or something. It’s weird to me when I think that I haven’t actually *spoken*–vocally–to one of my best friends in several years, probably (I live in another part of the country). The other I spoke with on New Year’s but hadn’t talked vocally to her in at least a year. Thank goodness for text messages (and until now, Facebook!) for keeping us close.

    7. CrazyCatLady*

      I am super nosy too and ugh, Facebook ended up making me angry or depressed more often than not. I used to be on there constantly but finally deleted my account and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. My life feels so much cleaner and lighter. I know that doesn’t help with what you’re feeling now, but just wanted to mention it!

  30. lalla*

    Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell is incredible! I found it to be quite slow-paced, but beautifully imagined and written – one of those rare books that’s just a nice place to be, a world you can immerse yourself in, and the dramatic pay-offs are all the more exciting because of the leisurely build-up.

    And there’s a BBC mini-series coming up this year!

  31. Persephone Mulberry*

    Crafters…particularly those in small residences… do you have a dedicated work area? My husband reclaimed his computer desk and now all my supplies are homeless, and I quickly realized that my hobby needs a home because I tend to work in small pockets of time, which is hard to do if you have to spend 10 minutes unpacking before you can start. We don’t really have room for another desk in our living room without giving up a bookcase or two, so I’m thinking of trying to sell my husband on turning our front hall closet into something like this: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/130041507966709332/

    1. Al Lo*

      I’m not a huge crafter, and this doesn’t really answer your question about a work area, but I recently turned an Ikea BISSA shoe cabinet and PLUGGIS desk organizer, and some mason jars into a craft cabinet. It’s pretty low-profile, but holds quite a lot.

      https://flic.kr/p/qnxC38 (without the PLUGGIS containers on the rail inside the shelf — there’s storage on the bottom that those cover up)

    2. C Average*

      I have a craft room. It’s also become the de facto storage room for outdoor gear and other stuff that doesn’t have a clear home, so it kind of looks like both an REI and Joann Fabric exploded in one room. I love not having to put away projects in between periods where I’m actively working on them.

      When I lived in an apartment and didn’t have a dedicated craft area, I had a bunch of flat sheets and each time I started a new project (mostly sewing and quilting), I’d throw a sheet out on the floor and set up all my supplies on top of it. I’d use it as my work area. Then when it was time to put the project away, I’d fold up the sheet and pin a Post-It on top of it with a description of the project. Then when I returned to it I could just unfold the sheet and pick up where I’d left off and know all the components and supplies were there.

      I’m not gonna lie: I love having a craft room!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I have a second bedroom but it’s a sewing/craft room now. I rarely do any of either, and I’m contemplating getting rid of it. It’s mostly miniatures stuff and I have a LOT of it–if I moved, I’d definitely have to pare down. I wish I were moving–that would be a better motivator.

    4. KAZ2Y5*

      I am selling my house (where my crafts are mainly concentrated in the guest bedroom) and when I buy my new house I plan on having a room just for crafts ;-)

    5. dead as dead can be*

      After the kids went away to college, I took over part of the family room. Can’t say my wife is excited about it. But she took over the “home office” room several years ago, and the kids come back home occasionally, so I can’t just reclaim one of their rooms – I really didn’t have anywhere else to go.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Let the kids sleep on the couch or bunk together and TAKE A ROOM FOR YOURSELF! It doesn’t make sense to keep a couple of perfectly good room unused most of the time.

    6. KMC*

      I have a craft/bunny room – it’s a struggle keeping it organized enough that I can go in there and pick up crafts without cleaning off the table, but it’s a goal to rework and organize it this year.

      If we had a closet large enough to turn into a craft space, I would totally do it!

  32. Jubilance*

    I just finished Season 3 of House of Cards and I’m “meh” about it. I was kinda underwhelmed. After the first 2 seasons, this season was just…not what I expected. Anybody else finish it? What did you think?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m about halfway through, but I haven’t picked it up since last weekend. I’m also underwhelmed. It just feels… forced. The jobs thing was so over-the-top (I think Stephanie and I had a brief discussion about this last weekend!) that it completely took me out of things.

      1. C Average*

        I have a theory about the jobs thing. (Caveat: I’m just two episodes in.)

        The jobs thing is not a typically Democratic move. But then, when Frank promised his leadership team that he wouldn’t seek re-election, he very clearly said, “I will not seek the Democratic nomination for President.”

        I’ll bet he’s going to switch parties. The whole gutting-entitlements bit, in combination with that announcement, sets up at least this possibility.

    2. Stephanie*

      I’m on episode 9. I’ll finish it, but something definitely seems less sharp about it this season. I don’t feel compelled to binge-watch it (…which might be a good thing). Doug is at peak creepy. Also, I miss Frank’s asides!

    3. DaBlonde*

      I agree, the Underwoods didn’t have the focus that they did in the first two seasons. I think that they needed a stronger adversary, but I’m all about the villains in shows and movies anyway.

    4. Windchime*

      Yeah, Claire and Frank have gone from ruthless, horrible people who will do anything (and I mean *anything*) to get what they want, to people who will……force through legislation? Cancel a book deal? Negotiate a peace deal?

      I was super “meh” about it. It was definitely more interesting watching him trying to get the Presidency than it was to watch him try to keep it.

      1. Stephanie*

        I don’t get the book deal. Maybe it’ll make sense in the last few episodes, but I don’t get it. It’s supposed to be propaganda for the jobs program, but don’t books (even from some established author like this) take a while to write? Like by the time this thing gets published, won’t the jobs program be defunct or a success (and thus not need the persuasive material)? I don’t get why it’s fiction, either.

  33. INTP*

    How jerkish is it to bring luggage on a public bus? Would you do it if it saved you $25 on a shuttle van and money was a serious concern?

    The bus line goes directly to the airport and I have frequently taken it with a backpack and small carry on suitcase. The seats are so close together that I have had to put my carry on in a seat beside me (the only other option would have been in the aisle blocking people) but I’ve never had anyone confront me or anything. However, I might take a pretty large suitcase on my next trip so it would take up quite a bit of space (I would try to get in the back of the bus or near the stroller area or something to minimize disruption). Is this okay on an airport line or a huge no-no? I grew up in a city where no one takes public transport so the line between “a little annoying but justified on rare occasions” and “absolutely never do this” isn’t intuitive to me.

    1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

      Take a taxi. You need to learn how to do it. $25 for a shuttle is not a lot – are your expenses paid? That usually includes ground transportation. Here there are regional airport buses and even the local buses have a lower baggage area, but if you’re avoiding the “I don’t know how to get a taxi” part, stop avoiding.

      I say this gently, but seriously: You need to learn how to do this. You’ll be fine.

      1. INTP*

        Learn how to do what? Take a taxi? I’ve done that a million times. I’m asking about the bus because of financial concerns, not because I don’t know how to call a taxi. It’s a personal trip, not a business trip, and $25 isn’t insignificant for me.

        1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

          I’m so sorry – my mistake. I thought I was replying to the person who said they were going to a conference but they’d never hailed a taxi or checked baggage or taken a shuttle or navigated an airport. I’m very sorry, please accept my apology.

    2. blue_eyes*

      It’s an airport line, you couldn’t possibly be the only person doing this. People might be slightly annoyed, but they’ll understand why you’re doing it. As someone who lives in NYC, people haul suitcases (and all kinds of other large, strange things) on the subway and buses everyday.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        There are even luggage racks on the M60… which used to bug me when I wanted a seat between Harlem and Astoria, but I always managed. :)

      2. Felicia*

        People do it all the time here too! (in Toronto) and not just on the airport bus. The Via Rail train station, the small island airport and the bus station that goes to other cities are all places where the easiest ways to get there are on very busy subways. I think it would be weird not to do it if you didn’t have a car (which most people around me don’t). .

        1. Observer*

          That’s the thing. A backpack and a small suitcase is pretty normal. But a LARGE bag in addition? Not so much…

          If there are luggage racks that’s different.

      3. Observer*

        Not so. The airport lines (at least in NYC) are generally used by people who have a small amount of luggage – mostly not even a checked bag. And while people haul all sorts of things on the buses and subways “all the time” most people find it really annoying, at the very least.

        Let’s face it – lots of people do a lot of very annoying stuff. It doesn’t make it right. In fact, some of these issues have gotten to the point that the MTA has “retired” its “courtesy is contagious” slogan in favor of more direct ad campaigns against specific behaviors – currently “manspreading” and keeping backpacks on your back or the seat next to you.

      4. Tris Prior*

        It’s pretty common here in Chicago as well to have to take a bus to the el (each of our airports is at the end of an el line). Sure, it’s a PITA when lots of people have large things that they are hauling, but it’s just part of taking public transport.

    3. it happens*

      I’ve done it in NY – just do not do it near rush hours. And be willing to stand up next to your luggage if there aren’t enough seats.

    4. Jubilance*

      I see this all the time in my city, I think it’s totally fine. As long as you try to be as out of the way as possible, you’re good.

    5. Shell*

      I see this happening all the time (I’m in a transit-heavy city). Seriously, it’s no big deal.

      I wouldn’t advise taking your suitcase to the back–it’s bulky and the aisle in the back is usually more narrow, so it’s actually harder for passengers sitting in the back to maneuver past you even if you affect less passengers overall.

      Does your bus have chairs that pull up for wheelchair passengers or strollers? Buses here can accommodate up to two wheelchair/strollers because seats in the front on either side of the aisle can pull up. I usually see people with suitcases just pull up the seat and stick their suitcases where the strollers/wheelchairs would park. This way, everyone can still pass through easily. Yeah, you’d have to move if there were actually wheelchairs or strollers needing the space, but since both sides’ seating pull up it’s usually not an issue–you’d have to be really unlucky for both spots to be unavailable at the same time.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        This. Usually there’s some open space and if it’s free, use it. Even if it means you have to stand with your luggage. That’ll be much easier than hauling it in and out of a seat (I’m assuming you mean it’s a 26-30″ suitcase). But if there’s no space, you still are allowed on the bus. Believe me, people see much stranger/more annoying things than this on a public bus!

    6. manomanon*

      It happens all the time where I live. Some people are grumpy but they have to deal with it- you’re paying to use the bus too and you have to get to the destination.
      Take the bus and make sure you’re respectful of other people but other than that don’t worry about it.

    7. Clever Name*

      If it’s a bus that is going to the airport, there are bound to be others on the bus who are also going to the airport. With luggage. Maybe try to avoid rush hour where people will be crammed in like sardines. Otherwise, I think it will be fine.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I had to take luggage on the tube, and I saw lots of other people in the same boat. Just avoid rush hour and keep your backpack on your lap if you’re seated so people can sit down. Suitcase near where the strollers go. Some of the buses in London and Cardiff had a thingy you could put luggage on so it was up out of the way.

    8. Anonymous Educator*

      I’ve done it many times before, and no one’s ever shot me dirty looks. It’s fine.

    9. Brian_A*

      I see it as a necessary evil, but justified and/or necessary on occasion! The airport line in my city also has luggage racks, but even before, I have done it many times, and just tried to be as unobtrusive as possible (not always easy, especially the times I was taking a bike to the airport!).

    10. matcha123*

      When I ride public transportation with luggage, I try to make it as unintrusive as possible. I put the carryon on my lap if it fits and the luggage directly in front of me (if space allows).

      If your luggage isn’t strewn about and it’s not that crowded, I don’t think people will mind that much. Please don’t give each piece of luggage plus your personal item its own seat because you don’t want anything on your lap.

    11. Lizzie*

      I’d try to avoid it during rush hour, but I think it’s definitely okay to bring your suitcase on public transit. I live in Boston and it’s pretty accepted there. As the OP suggested, trying to be near the stroller/wheelchair area or at the back of the bus/train is usually a good bet.

    12. The IT Manager*

      Culture varies, but I’ve done this in Belgium and Atlanta on airport train/metro lines so I think it’s fine.

    13. SherryD*

      Go for it! Why pay $25 (or more) for a shuttle or taxi when public transit is around $2.50?

      Believe me, transit riders have seem way weirder and way more intrusive things. You’ll be fine.

    14. Mephyle*

      If the bus line goes to the airport, I’m sure you are not the only one taking that bus route with luggage. If the transit corporation runs a line to the airport, how can they not expect people with luggage to travel on it?

      1. Mephyle*

        Posting without reading the rest of the thread – result, echoing what everyone else said.
        My city, as chaotic, crazy and disorganized as it is, did this right: they put buses with luggage racks on the airport route.

    15. NacSacJack*

      I do it all the time too. Both business and personal travel. If you travel off rush-hour, I expect you won’t have any trouble. Here, most of the time, I have the bus to myself to and from LRT which then takes me to the airport. Wish NYC would run subways to their airports.

  34. AcademicAnon*

    Going into the doctor next week as I’ve finally come to the point where I’ve realized I’m depressed and need some chemical help for it. Does anyone have any tips on getting things done when you have not motivation to do so? SO helps out at home but I have work stuff I need to get done before I’m laid off.

    1. ptrish*

      I’m sorry you’re going through this! Depression plus an impending layoff sounds rough. I’ve dealt with the same thing, although I was in school at the time so my ‘work’ was a lot more flexible.

      My advice:
      1. Do work in little chunks! The “Pomodoro” method, or just “work sprints” is how I think of it. If you’re feeling really low motivation, make the chunks short, even just five or ten minutes, then take a (short) break. Or, instead, of time, break work into small tasks. (“create two PPT slides” rather than “draft and rehearse presentation”)
      2. Make multiple to-do lists: one for what absolutely must get done (that day, or week, or whatever), one with what should get done, and one with what would ideally get done.
      3. Try to get things done-enough rather than perfect.
      4. Little lifestyle changes to make things feel different–a new kind of afternoon snack (I like raw almonds with some dark chocolate chips thrown in), bring in some tea that’s nicer than the office provides, buy a nice roll for your sandwich at lunch instead of using plain bread.
      5. Normally, when not depressed, I prefer long interrupted stretches to work, but I like the opposite when I’m feeling down–it’s easier to power through an hour until the next meeting than the whole day.

      1. anon today*

        What really helps me when I can’t get going is setting the timer to 5, 10 or 15 min (depending on what I can stomach) and just having to work for that amount of time, then taking a break (I also time those), and repeat. It also helps if I start with something concrete to do like “wash the dishes” rather than something intellectual like “review on the work report”.

    2. BRR*

      Oh god I’m going through the same situation and it’s so hard (worry about employment doesn’t make it any easier). First it’s great you’re seeking treatment, unfortunately it can be trial and error as well as medications and cognitive behavior therapy take time. Here are some tips:
      – Get rid of anything you use to procrastinate. For me I have no will power so I need to eliminate things instead of avoiding them.
      -I disclosed to my boss I was going through a medical issue (I also like the phrase neurological issue as it sounds very serious) that was affecting my quality of work but I was seeking treatment. This obviously depends on your manager. I wasn’t seeking ADA or anything but just to let her know.
      -If you can take some time off do it.
      -I took work home. It helped me have a quiet environment, I needed more time, and whenever I got some motivation I had what I needed to get stuff done.

  35. INTP*

    My gluten free 30 days for ADHD are up and I said I’d give an update, so here’s a brief one…

    -Not feeling any effects on mood or attention, unfortunately. However, I also have been a mess with anxiety since before I started this for unrelated reasons, and I have not been as healthy in my habits as I normally am. I’ve been skipping workouts, getting irregular sleep, drinking more, etc.
    -I have found that my allergies are less severe and I recover from allergic reactions more quickly. As a result I’ve actually managed to pinpoint other things I’m allergic to so that I can avoid them in the future.
    -No weight loss. That wasn’t a primary motivator or anything but I figured someone might be curious
    -I’ve seen some digestive differences, don’t want to get too into it but I apparently wasn’t digesting gluten like just any other protein. I may inquire about a celiac blood test at my next doctor’s appointment (I know I’d need to consume gluten before the test for it to work).
    -Brown rice pizza crust is odd and gummy but I kind of like the gumminess. Is that weird?
    -It’s extremely difficult to find gluten free vegetarian food in Wisconsin unless it’s a restaurant that specifically caters to health foodies. But it’s insanely easy to do at home except for a few minor inconveniences. (I.E. giving up homemade sunday morning pancakes because I can’t stomach more buckwheat and gluten free pancake mix is approximately $800 per box.)
    -Celiac disease has 8000 non-specific symptoms and I have a ton of them, but I have no idea if that means anything because they are so non-specific (now I understand why House thought every single patient had an autoimmune disease). Studies also show that there are huge numbers of people out there with undiagnosed celiac because they aren’t showing the classical symptoms that would prompt a doctor to consider it as a Dx.

    Based on not having really been in my normal routine and based on the allergy improvements I’m seeing, I’m going to continue for awhile longer. I plan to talk to a doctor about celiac testing and if that’s negative or unnecessary, might try slowly reintroducing to see if I can tolerate small amounts in a month or so.

    1. HepHep*

      Hi INTP,

      (An INFJ here). I have Celiac, and I can tell you that sometimes even a diagnosis can be wrong…in either direction. My first diagnosis (after a hospital visit) was Crohn’s. It took A LONG time and A LOT of dr visits before the culprit was finally clear, because I had modified my diet and I still wasn’t getting better. I think so many people suffer silently without knowledge, and like you mentioned, there are a lot of undiagnosed people! Scary!

      On the other side, there are a lot of people who have an upset tummy every now and then and maybe it’s just me, but it feels like these days the first thing you hear is the finger pointed at Celiac. Before I make anyone upset, let me say that I of all people am not here to tell others they don’t have it. I’m just saying it’s not exactly a welcome diagnosis. At least, it wasn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, it was a huge relief to finally know what was causing so many problems, but on the other hand, I had to think suddenly about shampoo ingredients and lipstick/makeup ingredients, and all kinds of stuff I wasn’t aware of. Yikes! It was overload, personally. I was at a dinner party once and one guest I chatted with seemed almost wishful about having it? I was completely baffled.

      That said, every one is so different! And everybody’s symptoms are different! I’ve heard a million different diagnosis stories, and they all vary so dramatically. I did just want to mention though, in case it helps anyone who is curious, my symptoms were pretty serious…enough that I had multiple dr (gastroenterology) visits and at least 2 hospital ER visits, not to mention blood tests, and several types of tests that end in “…scopy.” Even those can sometimes be off, but it wasn’t by any means an easy diagnosis, despite a long history (lifetime) of symptoms that you’d think were obvious. It sounds discouraging…I’m sorry about that part… but honestly, if you think you have it, you might be in for a long road. Hang in there! A correct diagnosis is definitely a relief and helps you manage your life so much better. I wish you the best on your journey of discovery. At the very least, eating that way still reaps you benefits, regardless of diagnosis.

      Even with all the GF options available today, which are great, I do admit I cringe whenever I venture out to eat. Sometimes I feel like people roll their eyes when I say I need to eat GF. I had one employee at a pizza restaurant (that takes a million precautions) ask me a gazillion questions about my diagnosis in front of a line of people who were being me waiting to order. I actually had to tell him (to my great embarrassment) that I wasn’t comfortable talking any further about my medical history. I tried to gently demure but he didn’t take the hint.

      That said, eating out today is infinitely more accommodating that in times past. So many places are becoming more aware and accommodating as a result, which is great. There is a huge Paleo crowd in my town (I’m not part of it, but I admire them) and they have had great influence on local restaurants offering some options for diners with more specific needs.

      Good luck!

    2. Wannabe EdTech*

      I know there’s some recipes out there for pancakes that are gluten free made from bananas and oatmeal on the Internet. I haven’t tried them yet, but if you do test for being celiac, there’s still hope for homemade pancakes on Sunday!

      1. INTP*

        I saw some of those but the ratios of ingredients seemed like they’d taste like banana omelets! I did buy some Bob’s Red Mill AP flour mix tonight so tomorrow I’ll return to pancake sundays. I’ve been eating Trader Joe’s GF eggos instead and they’re fine but, well, they’re eggos. They don’t exactly match up to a fresh batch of homemade belgian waffles.

    3. LisaLee*

      You should try Pamela’s Pancake Mix for GF pancakes! I’ve been gluten-free (celiac’s) for about a decade now and it’s my favorite fairly-inexpensive mix ($13 for 4 lbs on Amazon last time i bought it). They’ve got a slightly more nutty flavor that regular pancakes and aren’t quite as fluffy but I tend to enjoy that. Plus, you can make delicious cookies out of it too.

      Against the Grain is another brand that makes great products (especially their bagels, mmm), but they tend to be more pricey and somewhat difficult to find. King Arthur Flour makes very good and inexpensive cake and bread mixes, but I’ve never tried their pancake one.

      One thing I’d say is try not to rely too heavily on all corn- or white rice-based substitutes, because those can be pretty unhealthy if you eat them all the time. GF processed foods can really be lacking in fiber and vitamins compared to not-gf things, unfortunately.

  36. Stephanie*

    How can you tell if your car’s A/C coolant is getting low? My A/C took longer than normal to get cool earlier, but I do have a black car that is usually parked in the sun.

    Branching off that, is it possible to recharge your coolant yourself, or should I go to a shop?

    1. Clever Name*

      When my coolant was low, it would at first take forever to cool down. Then it would only cool down to lukewarm. I lived in Texas at the time, so lukewarm a/c was unacceptable. I think you can do it yourself; they sell cans of coolant at auto parts stores. However, unless you’re mechanically inclined and doing oil changes yourself, it may be better to take it to a shop. Or you could go to the auto parts store during non-peak hours and flirt like crazy with the guys behind the counter and see if they’ll do it for you for free…..;)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Hey, they will change your wipers for free here. I am sure someone will help you with the coolant. But I think you have to let the engine cool down before putting some in?
        I may be off base here- there is a reason I do not work on or around cars.

    2. Oh anon*

      You can do it yourself if your vehicle takes the R-134a refrigerant. Your manual should say or you could ask an autoparts store or he dealer. Stores sell a gauge that will tell you if it’s low/charged/over charged (these also usually come on the cans of refrigerant). Just follow the instructions on the can.

    3. little Cindy Lou who*

      I can’t even change my own tire/ oil but I find going to a Valvoline or similar when they’re not swamped, they’re very willing to help or advise. (Eg I had a check engine light on and asked a guy at a local Valvoline if he could tell me the code/issue before I took it to a repair shop and he was so very helpful. One of my friends married a former mechanic from a shop chain like that and he saved my butt looking into a funny sound I heard when braking by taking my car for a loop around the block and realizing that a recent tire rotation hadn’t been done right and my tires were about to fall off. The scary thing is I had just driven a 450+ trip on them post-rotation! ).

    4. C Average*

      Depending on where you get your oil and other fluids changed, they may have be willing to check and top off your coolant for free between visits. I always get my oil changed at the same place in part for this reason: I know I can swing by anytime to get a quick check and a top-off if it’s needed.

    5. C Average*

      Depending on where you get your oil and other fluids changed, they may have be willing to check and top off your coolant for free between visits. I always get my oil changed at the same place in part for this reason: I know I can swing by anytime to get a quick check and a top-off if it’s needed.

  37. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Tips for storage in a small (as in, 725 square feet) home?

    Currently, our spare room has become kind of the dumping ground/storage area, but… it’s not tenable long-term. Partially because it causes massive stress whenever anyone comes to stay, but also just because it’s a pain in the ass to try and find anything. We’ve had a MASSIVE dung out and thrown away boxes and boxes of stuff last month, so what’s left is the definite keep stuff… and there’s still so damn much of it.

    I’m looking for creative/clever storage suggestions! It has to be earthquake-safe because we live smack bang on a fault line, so no storing all our alcohol in shelving with no frontage or anything like that. How do you keep your stuff organised, but still readily accessible when it’s needed?

    1. little Cindy Lou who*

      plastic storage bins under the bed and stacked in closets are my go to.

      1. Natalie*

        Yes, under the bed rules! Get dark, solid color ones if you’re worried about them being seen.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Can you raise the bed(s) up? I see they sell bed risers. I have a custom built bed that is unusually high, I can really pack stuff under there. One place we had, I stored the Christmas tree under the bed.

      I like dual purpose furniture. I have antique trunk that I use as a coffee table. I had a hamper that was also a bench to sit on.And I use antique crocks in the kitchen to hold my kitchen tools. This gives me at least one more drawer to toss other stuff into.

      I ended up buying a lot of plastic organizers. For example, I have a box that is just for batteries. What was happening was that I could never remember how many batteries we had and I kept buying them. That,of course, only added to the crap in the house. With consumables such as batteries, I gathered things up in groups and put them in plastic organizers. Labeling is key, having the label on there is insurance that I will keep using the system.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed on all counts. I managed to keep a ton of stuff in my 500 square foot studio in NY. Just don’t be afraid to stack things, as I am. Seriously, I hate stacking. I had to get over myself.

    3. salad fingers*

      If you’re ready for a massive k-hole, look up the tiny house movement for inspiration. There are a lot of blogs and YouTube channels dedicated to tiny living spaces that I find really inspiring- I bet you could find a fair number of tips there.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I love those, especially the Tumbleweed houses–just beautiful little jewels. There’s also a tiny apartment movement–they seem to be called micro-apartments or apodments–which seems to be particularly big (pardon the phrase) in Seattle.

    4. BRR*

      Do you have a container store near you (I went today and it just has so many options)? You also have to be super good about what you’re keeping. My husband was raised in a large house with frugal parents. My mother in law has a dresser in a spare room with nothing but gift bags and wrapping paper (it’s not Candi Spelling). We have a two bedroom apartment. Just because we might use it eventually or because it still works isn’t good enough reason to keep things.

    5. Steve G*

      I bought these black tall shelves at ikea that are about 7 feet high and 18″ wide, with 4 cubbies, and they have cheap but nice, durable, and foldable orange boxes you buy folded down and prop up and hold together with screws/metal ends, to put stuff in, and they can hold a lot…..and those shelve/box combos look really nice and take advantage of vertical space.

  38. little Cindy Lou who*

    More a decorating/personal question than a truework question, but I do apologize:

    I’ve been thinking about decorating my office a little more. I have a 4-month dry erase calendar and a dry-erase 3M-like “board” that I use both for keeping track of my longer-term projects or highlighting days I need to keep front of mind, and a few personal affects (a few small postcards/stickers tacked up on the bulletin board, 2 framed photos (pet and family) , a smallish stuffed animal (hip and cute and old school), a corporate mascot-esque statue, and the usual filing/desk supplies. There’s a few of the leftover Halloween placard costumes that I proposed to and led the design on for my team.

    Basically the issue is that it seriously pisses me off when one of the security guards pokes his head in and rants like I work in hell itself by commenting on how depressing my office is or that’s it “not much”/ he wouldn’t want to be stuck there. I know he’s jaded and bitter in general about literally everything (including women being able to be in active combat or leadership positions because that’s not “the Navy [he] was in!”), and yeah I do keep the stuffed animal and postcards out of view of passerby in the hall (you have to walk around to where I sit to see them because they’re for my cheer) but after he comments on the bare walls and crappy layout it’s forefront on my mind vs something I just tune out.

    I’ve spent a bit of today wondering what to add that wouldn’t look too crazy in an otherwise traditional office envitonment. I love plants but I have only enough of a green thumb to not kill cacti (and that seems potentially dangerous/I don’t have window), and I’ve always loved Salvador Dali but his works seem a somewhat unusual pick for a traditional office to me when I really think about hanging one up. I recall a couple of jobs ago a coworker I shared an office with (she was there first) had created a collage of tranquil beach scenes ripped out of magazines that we both enjoyed but it seems childish for this corporation. Help??

    1. Kyrielle*

      A fake plant? A tranquil painting? I’m not sure Salvador Dali wouldn’t work…or that it would. A low key throw rug?

      Do you _want_ more decoration, or do you just want the security guard to leave you alone about it? Because in the latter case, I think you have a person-problem, not a decor-problem, and he may well keep ranting until it’s decorated “how he would” (which may be a losing proposition).

      A 5-foot inflatable Easter bunny with “is this decorated enough?” written on it in Sharpie? (Okay, this would be a bad idea, but….)

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Agree–tell him to knock it off. What a twerp. (That’s my new word right now–I’m trying not to curse so much LOL.)

        Hahaha I love the bunny thing.

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        Landscapes almost always are read as uncontroversial; reproductions of maps are interesting and decorative; a cheap and cheerful hanging textile might work; ikea makes pretty good (and cheap) fake plants.

        But I agree with others that the guard sounds likely to have definite opinions and decorating might not solve your problem. I would be tempted to hang something from Bruegel the elder and just let his eye skip over it as an “old master something something towers landscape something something people doing stuff old master.”

    2. Phyllis*

      I think that deserves the deadeye stare and ‘How can I help you?’ reply. Followed by silence. I find the Spock eyebrow lift at the end tends to send them scuttling off.

    3. Observer*

      I agree with the others that you should find some way to shut the security guy up, because otherwise you’ll be hearing from him unless you decorate the way HE would. And why would you want that?!

      In terms of decorating, I don’t think you need to worry about childish unless you are talking about”officially” childish (stuff marketed specifically at kids, even if some adults like it.) Tranquil beach scenes actually sound nice as long as they don’t look like an excuse for bikini / beefcake pictures. A fake plant sounds like another good idea – no green thumb needed, but if it looks pretty real, nice and refreshing. And, if you can stand to look at a Salvador Dali all day, that would be unusual but I can’t see it being inappropriate. Even conservative folks should know who he is.

    4. Aknownymous*

      I also agree, only add stuff if you want to, not because someone else has opinions on your space. People will always have opinions no matter what you do. I worked in a place where everyone, myself included favor a very minimal approach to decorating, and numerous people who visited the office would comment on how sparse it was. I would just say it was my preference, and that was that. I think some people’s spaces are super cluttered, but I don’t go around offering up my opinion unsolicited, because it’s rude. And he’s rude. Just ignore his comments.

  39. C Average*

    This is somewhat work-related, but it’s pretty life-related, too, so I hope it’s OK to put it here.

    I’ve been unhappy with my job for a while. I’ve also had a lot going on at home for a while–some areas of concern with my stepkids that make me wish I could be around for them more. Ours is a very typical two-parents-working-intense-jobs household: lots of dinner by Costco, lots of aftercare for the kids, lots of finding out about science projects the night before they’re due because we’re too busy to be consistently tuned in, lots of scheduling craziness to make all the extracurriculars fit.

    I also have creative stuff that I want to do that’s going undone. The unwritten novel in my head. The freelance projects I get asked about but don’t have the bandwidth to take on. I have so many deliverables in my average workday that I feel like my creativity is spent by the time I finally make it home.

    I had a rather intense chat with my husband and we’ve agreed that if I don’t get the other job I’m currently pursuing, I will quit my job to work from home, doing freelance writing and possibly some other home business. My mother is a successful freelance writer and I have published a few pieces myself in various places, so I’m not a stranger to the business. I know I’ll have to hustle.

    I am so excited about the idea of being here and available to the kids, and making them a home that actually feels like home, and having the time to actually cook meals and keep a nice house and write my book and finish my sewing projects and hear about my stepkids’ day when they come home from school. I’ll have time to walk them to school on nice days! Summers won’t be a scheduling nightmare! I’ll be able to say yes to interesting one-off opportunities that sometimes come my way, like sewing projects and calligraphy commissions.

    Of course, if I get the other job, I will take it. This is all what-if. But it’s a pretty freaking exciting what-if.

    1. Clever Name*

      Good luck! I work part time hourly in a professional position, and it’s pretty great. My son has some stuff going on, and it’s nice to be able to pick him up or attend appointments during the day.

    2. jamlady*

      Well it sounds like you know what you want! And either way, you end up getting out of a job you don’t like. It’s all very exciting! Good luck!

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Phew! I am so happy for you. This is great news. You were ready for this change.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      Exciting! I had a 10-day staycation over Christmas (I think I’ve mentioned this a thousand times on this site by now) – it was the longest stretch of non-work, at home time I’ve had in almost 15 years, and I was totally like “I could get used to this!” If I’d had a few more days, I might have even started working house chores and cooking into my “me me me” time, LOL. My biggest hurdle to working for myself is that I KNOW I don’t have the hustle. I’m just going to have to be satisfied with maybe someday accidentally developing my side businesses into a livable income and Working For The Man until then. :)

  40. Labyrinthine*

    I’ve been waiting for this one all week:

    AAM makeup wearers…I have a problem. No matter what primer I’ve tried, whenever I wear eyeshadow I end up with smears under my eyes within a few hours. I don’t rub my eyes so I’m not sure how it happens. But this means i end up having to check my make up every so often to ensure I don’t have massive raccoon eyes.

    Now, I do wear glasses so maybe this is somehow causing it? Every advice I’ve seen just recommends primers but I use them and they don’t seem to help.

    Any advice?

    1. Clever Name*

      Hmm. I wear glasses and don’t have this problem. What kind of eye makeup are you wearing? Maybe it’s not the primer. Do you wear mascara? Maybe your eyelashes hit your lenses and it flakes off?

      1. Labyrinthine*

        I do wear mascara but it isn’t the mascara coming off. It is eyeshadow. I can tell because of the color. I’ve tried every brand from E.L.F to Mac to Clinique to Revlon.

        I mean, as far as problems go it is small potatoes but I hate looking like Vanity Smurf(ette), always looking in the mirror.

    2. Anonsie*

      I wear glasses and this only happens to me after many many hours, and a primer takes care of that. I use Urban Decay’s regular one.

      What eyeshadows are you using and how are you applying them?

      1. Labyrinthine*

        I tend to use pressed powder eye shadows applied with a brush and smudged with a sponge. I am very careful not to have excess as that can easily flake off.

        I’ve seen a lot of recommends here for Urban Decay. I don’t believe I’ve tried that primer yet so I’ll give it a go!

    3. LAMM*

      I had this problem with eyeliner. I had to keep trying different brands til I found one that finally didn’t smudge on me (Sephora nano liner). For those super long days, I’ll put my eyeliner on and then put the primer on underneath the eyeliner… the primer also helps getting rid of minor oopsies as well.

    4. Sunflower*

      Hmm I use ELf primer and seem to have no problems with my eye shadow. I’ve found whenever i use pencil eyeliner, it smears down my face. Gel eyeliner, however, is much better. It might just be your glands. I sweat a lot so everything runs on me relatively easy. Have you tried a makeup setting spray? I believe ELF makes some. Maybe try using a different type of eyeshadow? I use powder eyeshadow but if you are using something more gel or liquid like, I could see why that would end up running.

      1. Labyrinthine*

        Sweat is what most people assume but my face is actually very dry. For awhile I thought it was my moisturizer but I stopped applying that anywhere near my eyes and it still happens.

        I haven’t tried makeup setting spray. That is a good idea, thanks! And also, I avoid gel anything for this specific reason (and also because it just never looks right on me)

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray. Try a spritz before make up and then after.

    5. Oh anon*

      I wear glasses too, but don’t have this problem. If you haven’t tried urban decay or nars eye primer, try that. They both work very well, but I’ve noticed after 8 hours, the shadows wear anyway. If you’ve been using a specific type of shadow, try another. Another commenter suggested the make-up setting spray, that may be worth checking into too.

    6. LisaLee*

      Have you tried using a toner before you apply makeup? Maybe that region of your face is oily for some reason.

      The other thing I can think of is maybe you’re applying the primer too thickly–it should be a very thin layer and tacky, not wet, when you put the shadow over it.

      1. Labyrinthine*

        I have tried toner but I have to be careful as my skin is dry and toner tends to make that worse. Thanks for the ideas!

    7. WannaBe EdTech*

      It might be that your eye lids are oily and/or hooded like mine. If you tried the Urban Decay primer, I suggest what is the eye shadow glue of the make up world: Fyrinnae’s Pixie Epoxy. It’s difficult to use at first since it’s tacky, but it lasts longer than anything else on my hooded eyes.

      1. Labyrinthine*

        I’ve never heard of this stuff but the reviews are Rave! I’ll give it a try. Thanks!

    8. matcha123*

      I have very long eyelashes, and when I wear eyeliner I always get a black, smudgy area lining the bottom of my eye.
      The only thing I can suggest is checking the mirror every few hours and rubbing out/reapplying the eye stuff.

      I also mainly wear glasses and the same thing happens on the few times I wear contacts.

    9. Curlicue*

      I also love Urban Decay’s Eyeshadow Primer Potion. Any brand of eye shadow I have used with it stays on all day!

    10. Puddin*

      If it happens with multiple brands of eye shadow, perhaps the common denominator is your moisturizer. Also, you can try wetting the eye shadow before applying it. It can change the consistency and the depth of the pigment, but it traditionally stays on longer then (at least it does for me).

    11. Lady Bug*

      I have super oily eyelids and the only thing that works for me is the Tarte primer. It’s a little bit sticky, but not too much. It will keep me going 12 hours, instead of the 30 mins I get without primer.

    12. ThatGirl*

      Not all primers are created equal.

      The only part of my face that is oily are my eyelids. Urban Decay Primer Potion is the only thing that keeps my shadow on all day.

  41. Short and Stout*

    Please tell me it gets better than being 28, going to a party, drinking too much, and finding out the guy you really liked is going out with someone else. A really lovely someone else who’s a friend too. Ugh.

    1. jamlady*

      Sorry :(

      I’ve always been a take-the-reigns kind of girl myself. It’s not for everyone, but maybe it could be something to try out the next time. There’s no shame in asking someone out for a drink! Or, in my case, pie.

    2. Winter*

      It does get better! That kind of thing happens to people of all ages, but it gets easier to handle.

      Find a new guy to like. Try to accept that either it wasn’t meant to be or the timing was wrong. You’ll be ok. And you’re not alone. Everyone goes through things like that.

    3. Puddin*

      It does get better! There are multiple paths to happiness and you can switch paths as often as you like or need to.

  42. Christy*

    (Let’s try that again.) I am interested in developing a personal style, which I have not done before. I don’t even know where to begin. Seriously. I am interested in figuring out what clothes and what look I like, how to make certain clothes fit into a certain look, and how to make all that happen on my body. Should I be looking for style blogs? Should I just browse the mall? I really have no idea.

    1. jamlady*

      Pictures give you ideas, but knowing your body and LOTS of trial and error are what gets you to where you want to be. I would start researching fashion blogs and stuff regarding your body type and skin tone and go from there!

    2. Noah*

      I don’t know what your budget is like but both Macy’s and Nordstrom have stylists that will help you shop. They don’t charge anything, you just need to make an appointment. You don’t even have to buy anything, although I always plan to buy at least one item because I’m fairly certain they work on commission.

      I also get a box every few months from Trunk Club. It is guys only, but maybe there is another company for women too. Anyways, my assigned stylist there emails me and asks if I’m ready for another trunk and if I need anything in particular. Then they ship a box full of clothes to my house. I try them on, provide feedback, keep what I want and send everything else back.

      Both of these things have pushed me to try clothes I would have never picked out on my own.

    3. skyline*

      I think there are probably a lot of ways to go about this, and which one is best for you will depend on how you like to learn things/establish habits. Style blogs and Pinterest are fairly accessible ways to start, though I think it can be easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of info and other people’s budgets!

      I’ve bought a lot of clothes in the last year, because I lost some weight and also wanted to make my work wardrobe better reflect my job. I don’t know that I’ve developed a personal style, per se, but I do think I have a sense of (1) what I’m willing to spend money on (2) what I’ll wear and use, and what I would only be purchasing for some fantasy “what if?” life (3) how to choose clothes that actually fit properly and (4) how to remix what I have so I’m not wearing the same outfits all the time.

      Two blogs I like are YouLookFab and Alterations Needed. The former has lots of articles on things like “perfect pant length.” The latter is a blogger whose style I just particularly like, even though it’s not one that would work for me.

    4. Sunflower*

      I am forever in a battle between clothes I love and clothes that look good on me. Models are tall and thin with minimal curves for a reason. I’m short, hourglass shaped and chesty so flowy things are not my friend. However, I love flowy, bohemian type outfits.

      Do you use Pintrest? To me, that’s the best place to develop an ‘ideal’ closet.If you are looking for style blogs to follow, I’d recommend a little of both. Look for some who’s ensembles you love but also some who have similar body types to you. If you can afford a personal stylist, I would suggest looking into that too. Often times style bloggers are also personal stylists.

      Realize that you might not have ‘a style’. My closet is super varied and I have a lot of classic, stiff pieces as well as bohemian things.

    5. TL -*

      You can browse blogs or malls or watch tv or movies or people on the street – all you really have to do is look and when you see something you like, figure out why – color? The cut? The combination of top and bottom?
      Once you get a sense of what makes you happy to look at clothes wise, try similar styles on and look for people who look like you that are wearing things you think look flattering on them. Then, combine everything and look for stores that sell things that match your criteria.

    6. LAMM*

      Is there a particular store that has a lot of clothes that fit the look you are trying to achieve? If so, I’d recommend going into that store sometime during the week (Monday-Wednesday). Tell them that you are looking to update your wardrobe and need some help. If they ask a lot of questions and seem to get the look you are going for, awesome. They should be able to give helpful advice,suggest shapes/styles, particular items, etc. (and a lot of stores do not work on commision, so while they might be disappointed you didn’t buy anything, they won’t be upset). If the salesperson does not ask questions, talk to another salesperson or go somewhere else.

    7. the gold digger*

      Once you have figured it out, don’t be afraid not to buy clothes. That is, there is nothing wrong with having only a few high-quality pieces. I work with almost all men who couldn’t care less what I wear and I have taken that as a sign to just wear the same outfits over and over. I have a few nice skirts and a few nice sweaters and that’s what I wear. (Once it gets warmer, I will wear dresses again, but it’s harder to layer in a dress.)

      I have several nice scarves that I wear mostly to keep warm but also to make my outfit a little more interesting and that’s the only part anyone notices. (At least, that’s the only part anyone ever comments on – maybe they are thinking, “Really, honey? Black skirt AGAIN? At least you have more than one scarf.”)

      I have figured out that pencil skirts and sheath are the most flattering to me – that’s what’s in my wardrobe. I don’t look so good in pants (although as my Russian co-worker assures me, when we were lamenting the problems of finding pants that fit our abundant booties, “Is OK. Men like big butts.”), so I don’t wear pants unless they are jeans because I would have to be an idiot not to take advantage of jeans day.

      When I started the new job and realized nobody noticed me – depressing at first and then liberating, I vowed to go a year without buying new clothes. It’s made my life easier and helped me save money.

    8. Laura*

      I second Noah’s comment — I use a service called Stitch Fix to send me a box of clothes every other month. When you start, they ask you a bunch of questions (which of these outfits do you like the most, what types of clothes do you want or not want, etc.), and you can also include a link to your Pinterest and other social media. I am sure that I’m paying a premium for the clothes, but I’ve found it’s a good way to get stylish clothes in cuts that I normally wouldn’t consider. (Also, I tend to haaate clothes shopping, so it’s good on that note as well.)

      On that note, I don’t use Pinterest but I suspect it would be very helpful for developing your style — you can figure out what styles you like and see examples of how other people make them work.

      1. Anne Bonny*

        I love stitch fix! It not only helped me figure out my style by answering all the questions, but I’ve gotten some great pieces sent to me! It is sort of ridiculously fun – like getting a present in the mail every other month (you can decide how often). Of course, I do have to pay for what I keep, but it is still great to open my new box when it arrives.

        If you want to try it, you can use this link: https://www.stitchfix.com/referral/3976170

        Simply fill out your style profile, and a personal stylist will handpick five items just for you. (I do get a credit if anyone uses this referral, fyi.)

  43. Sunflower*

    For any of those in a relationship- doesn’t matter how serious or long – what are the biggest things you’ve found changed about yourself after you started dating someone? Have you ever found yourself making decisions or acting in ways you never thought you would?

    1. Treena Kravm*

      For me, it’s a lot like how I imagine most people are when they become parents. All of a sudden, there’s this person that’s really important. When they’re sick, had a bad day, etc. you want to make them feel better. But it’s even better (at least to me) because they do the same for you, and you’re partners. They’re now always a factor in most decisions, even if it’s a minor factor.

      I’m not sure if/how the small decisions changed. I guess checking in more? Or updating him throughout the day when it was relevant? I know he definitely had to adjust in terms of checking in. When we first moved in with each other, I would freak out if he were more than 15 minutes late, because I was convinced he was dead. So now if he’s late coming home, he has to text his new eta. I don’t care what he’s doing or where he is. I just want to know when to start worrying! hah Recently, I was 15 minutes late and I had left my phone at home, and I came home to him shaking with worry. (We were going to the airport so he was convinced the only reason I wasn’t there was death). So he officially gets it =)

      The big decisions come after a lot of talking/processing together. I actually find it better/easier because there’s someone to bounce ideas off of, and to bring up potential negatives (if you talk these life changes through with a more casual friend, they tend to be really excited for you, but not that invested in the details/pitfalls).

      In terms of behavior changes, I definitely find myself doing little things around the house that I normally hate/would avoid because I know my husband will appreciate it. I’m definitely way more caring and mushy than I ever thought I would be.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Well you have to spend a lot of time with someone you want to make happy, so most likely your lifestyle is going to change. You may have some hobbies in common, but at some point, whether it’s restaurant choice or vacation destination or even whether to sleep in or not on a weekend, you will have to make some compromises. For example, if you like horror movies, but your husband likes romantic comedies, you may have to see a romantic comedy from time to time, and your husband may have to see a horror movie occasionally.

    3. Natalie*

      Not much, but that’s very much a deliberate decision after a lifetime of changing myself to much for other people. Someone other than my parents has my spare keys and will water my plants?

      There are a lot of things specific to him, but they would be true if we were just friends.

    4. LAMM*

      For me the biggest thing was that I always dreamed of living in a big city (NYC, Chicago, etc) during/after school and do the whole “big city” thing. Then I met my boyfriend… and suddenly that didn’t seem important (though there were also other factors at play). Now, almost 8 years later, I don’t regret not going. Which is weird to me because in high school I always thought I would regret not going away for school. Now, I’ve made so many great friends and had so many different experiences that I’m glad I didn’t go.

    5. matcha123*

      I don’t really think I’ve changed. Even with the guys who I really liked (but never dated), I never really tried to change anything about myself. I don’t see it as a “This is how I am, take it or leave it!”-thing. I see dating as “OK, you like to listen to techno, I don’t like it, but I’ll go with you to a club that has an artist you like DJing because I know it’s important to you.”

      I don’t need to become a fan of techno music because my boyfriend likes it and I don’t need to love skirts because he likes them. But, I will indulge him because it’s the nice thing to do and I expect the same from him.
      I also do the same for friends and family. No, I don’t enjoy helping a friend move, but I know it’s important to her and I want to support her. Plus it’s just the right thing to do.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m much, much calmer and rational than I was before. It feels great, but paradoxically, it bothers me on some levels because I never wanted to be the woman who “needs” a man to be calm and rational. It probably has more to do with who he is than what he is.

      The biggest compromise I made was around food. My bf is a vegetarian and has been for years. I stopped cooking meat in the home altogether, which isn’t a problem except when I get the urge to roast a chicken (one of my favorite rainy-day activities as a single woman). We also have to be more careful when choosing restaurants, and we can’t just pop into any cafe and find something to eat. He’s also really sensitive about it, especially when he gets hangry (we both have some blood sugar issues), and I admit I’ve had moments of, “Can’t you just sit there while I eat this giant meat sandwich ONE TIME?????” but those are extremely few and far between.

      I also watch far fewer movies and less TV since we’ve been together. I love movies, but we only have one TV. Now that we have a house with more room, it’s easier for me to commandeer the living room and watch on my own while he does stuff elsewhere, but it’s an adjustment.

      These are all small things, really. I also find that as we grow closer together, it’s easier to do things apart. Counterintuitive, but there’s a confidence in our relationship that makes it just fine if I want to escape to the bedroom for a few hours with some Netflix.

    7. class factotum*

      There is food in my house that I never used to have in my house: cookies, chips, ice cream, cheese, which creates a dilemma in me. I never kept the food in my house because I wanted to keep my weight down and I have willpower at the store but not at home. The reason I wanted to keep my weight down was to be attractive to men. I am married now. I have gained ten pounds. My husband doesn’t care. So do I need to lose ten pounds? That’s when I realized that I don’t keep my weight down for men, I keep it down for other women because I am competitive like that.

      I have had to compromise and I don’t like it. I used to run my own affairs without talking to anyone. I bought and sold my own house. I paid my bills. I did my own taxes and I always had them done by mid February. Now I am married to someone who is as much of a control freak as I am but who is a procrastinator. It bothers me a little not to be doing the taxes, although not a lot because I hate doing taxes, but it drives me crazy that he waits until April 13 to do them.

      I have had to negotiate bedtime. I used to be in bed by 9 so I could be up for a 5:30 a.m. exercise class. I married a night owl. (I thought politics and religion, on which we do not agree at all, would be our biggest problems, but it’s actually his procrastinating and our different bedtimes that are our biggest areas of conflict.) It’s not so bad that he’s a night owl, it’s that he’s a night owl who thinks it’s important to go to bed together. I don’t. I don’t care. I just want to go to bed and I don’t want to discuss it.

      It’s having to discuss decisions that I used to make by myself that has been so hard. I like to make my own decisions and I usually don’t want input from other people. But I’ve had to discuss. I hate discussing.

      Oh – and in-laws. I never knew I could dislike someone so much until I met my husband’s drunk, mean parents. I have been so lucky in my life to be around mostly nice people. I had no idea people could be so nasty to people they allegedly love.

    8. dead as dead can be*

      For me, the “big change” didn’t happen until my first child was born – *that* was when I got Real Serious about a lot of things (like insurance, financial matters, and so forth).

    9. Steve G*

      I calmed down some of my impulsive behavior, including drinking too much or obsessive running, because there was someone around to say “you were too busy to do something the past 2 nights because you were jogging, and you’re going running again today?????”

  44. Noelle*

    Wedding advice! I recently got engaged but we will be paying for the wedding all by ourselves and we both have insanely busy jobs. Does anyone have advice for hosting a nice, affordable wedding without massive amounts of planning? Any wedding things that are a rip-off? Any way to get good deals? Thank you!

    1. Treena Kravm*

      You’ll probably want to look into either a wedding planner or a venue that does packages (usually includes ceremony, reception, rentals, food, drinks, decor, cake, etc.) to avoid planning a ton. A good wedding planner will actually find you lots of good deals, and may save you more money than you pay them. But unfortunately, pretty much everything in wedding land is a rip-off. Get used to raised eyebrows at the inexplicable mark-up.

      1. Noelle*

        Rip off, yeah, no kidding! I spent an afternoon dress shopping and the shopkeepers acted like I was an evil person for not immediately agreeing to buy a $3000 wedding dress. It won’t be here next week!!!! Because clearly if I don’t pay three thousand dollars for a white dress, I won’t be able to find one in seven days.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d highly recommend a winter wedding. The prices for just about everything (venue, catering, flowers, etc.) is much lower than the summer months.

      1. Noelle*

        I’d love a winter wedding. We don’t really care much about decor, I think our priorities are food, booze, music in that order. I’d like to think we can make it affordable, but wedding planning is crazy.

    3. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      All-inclusive packages are good — a ceremony/reception venue with catering will often be easier and less hassle, as well as cheaper, than ceremony venue charge + reception venue charge + caterer fees.

      If you can BYO beer/wine, even with a corkage fee, it usually works out way way cheaper than open bar.

      Be open to non-traditional venues — we got married in a nature reserve and it was absolutely stunning.

      If you can do anything other than a Saturday afternoon/evening you’ll often get a better deal — Friday night? Sunday late morning ceremony followed by lunch?

      I recommend thinking of two or three things that are really really important to you — for us, it was feeding our guests well and good photography. So we spent a big chunk of our budget on photography and a good meal package. Then we scrimped on other things, like an iPod instead of a DJ/band, DIY’ed our orders of service, I had a ball dress instead of a “wedding” dress, etc. Knowing your priorities in advance really helps your sense of perspective about the whole thing.

      1. Noelle*

        I’m already thinking I will just go to a department store and buy a light colored dress rather than go to a wedding dress store, and I think we’d be fine with an iPod. And I’ve heard about the Friday or Sunday weddings several times, I think that is something we will definitely consider!

        1. class factotum*

          My wedding dress was a red and white sleeveless dress that I got on sale for $40 at Macy’s. I still wear it – it looks great on me. I mean, I wear it on the two days a year when it is warm enough to wear a sleeveless dress here.

          We had a very small wedding, mostly because we decided we would rather put the money toward our house. It would have been fun to have all our friends, but I have a really big family – 26 first cousins, eight sets of aunts and uncles – and the numbers got large (and expensive) really fast. We had just immediate family and it was fine – we are still married.

          1. Noelle*

            I love the idea of just wearing a dress you like instead of these $5000 monstrosities. And we are both one of six kids, so even just immediate family will be large! But I don’t think we’ll be inviting anyone outside immediate family members.

          2. ThursdaysGeek*

            My dress was the something borrowed: a simple, more or less white prom dress that belonged to one of my bridesmaids. I’m not a big dress person anyway, and I let them wear dresses of their choosing too.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          I bought a bridesmaid’s dress from JCrew for $200 something and it was the best decision ever.

      2. Elsajeni*

        Yes, non-traditional venues! I got married at the zoo in my hometown and it was great — they offer event packages, including weddings, but don’t seem to get much demand on the wedding end, so I felt like we got a really good balance between “venue has done this enough to know what they’re doing” and “venue is low-demand enough to be cheap(er) and easy to schedule.” Also, one of the event add-ons you could get was that zookeepers would come out and bring four animals to your party. An armadillo came to my wedding and it was awesome.

        1. Lizzie*

          I have zero desire to have a wedding, but this zoo idea is intriguing…

          Other possible non-traditional venues for the OP: local museums or art galleries. I know people who have saved a lot of money at such venues over more traditional (and therefore more high-demand) locations. Obviously YMMV depending on where you’re getting married.

        2. class factotum*

          An armadillo came to my wedding and it was awesome.

          That is truly awesome! What were the other animals?

          I think I would want a penguin, a tiger cub, and a peacock. And an armadillo because who wouldn’t want an armadillo at her wedding?

          1. Elsajeni*

            Unfortunately, you don’t get any say in what the animals are — I mean, possibly if we had an allergy or phobia issue we could have asked them to exclude a category of animal, but you don’t get input along the lines of “Pleeeeease can I have a mongoose?” They pick four small, safe animals based mainly on whether the animals are in a good mood that day. We ended up having the three-banded armadillo, a chinchilla, a lizard of some kind, and a macaw. Obviously the armadillo was my favorite. (They have VERY DAINTY FEET!)

        3. Laura*

          That is amazing. I never knew til this moment that my life’s goal is to get married at a zoo.

        4. Noelle*

          That does sound awesome! Unfortunately I am in the DC area and none of the national institutions (including the zoo) allow weddings.

    4. BRR*

      We had our wedding at a restaurant. It’s usually closed for lunch on weekends so we rented out the main dining room for a Saturday lunch. Pretty affordable and no decorating. I’m super pleased with how everything turned out.

      You will save on costs by inviting less people. We had to draw a very tough line which was disappointing but more people equals more money. Don’t count on people saying no. The venue should be able to hold if everybody says yes and your budget should include if everybody says yes.

      E-save the dates and evites are acceptable. We did e-rspvs which were a disaster though but this was due to who was invited. No kids and some people no plus 1’s. Setting it up to do that was hard and didn’t work.

      We didn’t do a cake, I don’t miss it. It was something to look pretty that cost several hundred dollars.

      Don’t skimp on a photographer.

      1. Noelle*

        Neither of us like cake so that is on the very bottom of our priorities! And we’ve been thinking about renting out a restaurant, it seems much more reasonable (plus you can predict what all the food will be like in advance).

        1. BRR*

          I loved renting a restaurant. It was cheaper, decorated, food was amazing (it was family style which everybody loved), and felt different than other event spaces which I liked.

          1. cuppa*

            Another good thing about restaurants is that they already have silverware, tablecloths, napkins, etc., and they don’t nickel-and-dime you to use them.

            1. Noelle*

              That’s a good point. When I’m looking at venues, a lot of them require you to provide EVERYTHING yourself, and it is such a pain.

        2. blackcat*

          We did this and it was really excellent. SUPER low stress. Now “wedding” mark ups–we got prices for a menu with 3 choices the same as a corporate dinner would have gotten. We got a cake as the “desert” from the fixed price menu. It wasn’t a big fancy wedding cake, but it was tasty. Booze through the restaurant was more pricey than it had to be, though.

          1. Noelle*

            The booze definitely seemed pricey at a few restaurants, but if you compare the food+alcohol costs at most places it’s pretty reasonable overall.

      2. Noelle*

        Also, how did you convey the no kids thing? That’s one of the few things my fiance feels very strongly about (mostly because my nephews are seriously terribly behaved) and I’m trying to come up with the best way to break it to my siblings.

        1. Sunflower*

          Unfortunately this topic is very controversial for some and people will get mad. Regardless of how you break the news, it’s going to affect them all the same. So don’t be surprised if you say ‘sorry we can’t do it due to space constraints’ and they are still really upset. How do you think your siblings would handle it?

          *I don’t really understand why people have issues with child free receptions. I get that some wouldn’t dream of having one but not being able to understand and respect why someone would is crazy to me.

          1. Noelle*

            I think my sister would be fine with it, especially since I’m already looking into child care around here so she can just enjoy the day. My brother and his wife are the type of people to just ignore me and bring their kids anyway.

            1. Sunflower*

              So some people might have an issue with the child care costs while others just ‘can’t understand why you wouldn’t want their wonderful children involved in the celebration of your special day’. As long as your sister is cool with them not coming and you helping with the childcare costs, that’s great and shouldn’t be an issue beyond that.

              Your brother on the other hand…well there are ALWAYS people who will bring their kids even though they know they aren’t allowed to. You could maybe tell them that the venue doesn’t allow people under 18 or 21 due to liability issues?

          2. Not So NewReader*

            I always thought it was financial pressure because of child care costs. The financial pressure is so huge that it trumped any other issue. More currently, I think that there are a number of factors. Usually when you see people being vehement about something there is more than one angle to their story.

        2. BRR*

          It wasn’t too hard as our guest list was parents, aunt and uncles, and some friends. Only one of our friends has children and she couldn’t make it. My sister in law has kids but her’s were invited. We addressed invitations to only the people invited. FYI that doesn’t work. We tasked our parents with informing our aunts and uncles it was only them.

          I would come up with something about keeping it intimate. Space limitations at the venue (this only works in certain venues). Maybe you could do something low key with them later?

          1. Noelle*

            I’m already discovering it will be cheaper to do a separate party in my home town afterwards than try to invite everyone to the actual wedding. I have a huge extended family and I’m only close to a few of them, but the relationships are such that I can’t invite say, one cousin but not the other three. Weddings are surprisingly political!

            1. class factotum*

              Yeah, that was my thing, too, although it’s harder with only four cousins. I have 26 – I could easily have invited only a few of them and no feelings would have been hurt. (I think – I have not been invited to all of their weddings – I don’t think I have been invited to a single one of my cousin P’s four weddings, although who wouldn’t want to attend a Roaring 20s-themed wedding where the groomsmen carried tommy guns and the bridesmaids dressed like 20s hookers?)

              But it would have been all the aunts and uncles (16 people) or none. And they would have come, which would have been great, because I like them, but that’s 16 people and at $50 a person minimum, you are already at a house payment.

              1. Noelle*

                I have 10 aunts and uncles on my dad’s side, and I like about half of them. But I would have to invite all of them and the ones I don’t like are the most likely to come. Also, roaring 20s wedding sounds awesome!

            2. Treena Kravm*

              I did this. It was wonderful bc I felt like my wedding was actually mine, but for me, I was so “over it” by the time the second reception came around, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I could have. There was a 3 week gap.

              Also, check out Offbeat bride for tips on child-free weddings. It’s gold.

        3. GOG11*

          I had a no kid wedding and I just put the names of the people on the invite (Joe and Jane Jones) and then included a reply card that was slightly customized (2 seats have been reserved in your honor). My paternal grandmother thought I should make an exception for a cousin I’d never met who was a small child and when she said it wasn’t fair I said that allowing exceptions wasn’t fair to those who had a partner stay home, who’d sprung for a sitter to come or who had to stay home with little ones and miss out.

          For siblings, you’re probably close enough to say you have a limited space/budget/or that you feel this is a celebration for adults (since it includes booze). If you google this there are suggestions for tactful phrasing and strategies out there.

          Best of luck!

          1. blackcat*

            The only exceptions that I think are important to “no kids” rules are young infants. My best friend brought her 6 week old to my “no kids” wedding. A 6 week old doesn’t need to move around, and so long as there is a place for a parent to take the kid away if it gets fussy, it’s really not an issue.

    5. Natalie*

      I haven’t been married, but I was my cousin’s MOH and she really liked the advice that each partner pick 3-4 things that are really important to them, and then be willing to skip/cheap out on the other stuff. They did a heavy hors d’ouvres buffet instead of dinner, cupcakes instead of cake, and free beer and wine but cash for liquor. My cousin bought a non traditional dress (white but not poufy) online for $150, bridesmaids picked their own dresses, and the groom and his party all wore suits they already owned.

      One other thing, but YMMV, wedding favors are sort of silly. People will have pictures, they don’t need a wine glass with your names on it or some other silly trinket.

      1. Noelle*

        Thanks! Our priorities are basically the same – food, drink, music – but everything is SO expensive. I’ve already decided I will be buying my wedding dress at the mall (dress boutique people are the worst, they are super aggressive. I’ve been to 2 salons and even if I did find the perfect dress it’s so much pressure I’d feel forced into buying stuff).

      2. Natalie*

        Another cheap but amazing wedding I went to:

        State park with a beautiful lodge, wedding party and family made the decorations. No flowers except the bride’s bouquet. They had a buffet meal and for drinks it was just tubs of beer (on ice) and wine on a table. For entertainment they had a bunch of games – apples to apples, frisbee, beanbag toss, etc. It was a blast.

        1. class factotum*

          We did something similar for a friend: she had her wedding and reception at an old mansion that she and a few of her friends, including me, decorated. I cut a bunch of roses and other flowers from my garden and those were the flower decorations. The house was already gorgeous and didn’t need much else. She had a caterer and that was it. It was the people who made it special.

        1. Noelle*

          That’s a good idea, I might even do that for my wedding dress too. I’ve found a lot of dresses on there that aren’t available to buy any more in stores, but look much nicer than this season’s styles.

      3. GOG11*

        I made bird treats for out door birds in the shape of hearts and used colored ribbon through a hole so people could hang them from trees in their yards/in a park/what have you. I hung a paper tag from the ribbon that said “Thank you,” as well. It was a late fall wedding so it was nice for the birds in the winter. I put a sign out that said “take one for the birds.” It was super cheap and it was something I enjoyed doing.

        For me, after it was all over and done with, I realized that there were certain things I did that were par for the course but that I didn’t actually care about. I wish I would have thought of it as just a party/celebration and not as a wedding.

        I’m now divorced and if I get married again I’ll definitely go about it in a more low-key non-wedding way.

    6. Sunflower*

      I’m MOH in a wedding right now and everyday I want to elope more and more! I’ll agree most wedding things are a rip-off. For something as small as you’re looking, a wedding planner will not be worth it. I don’t think you have as much volume to get the deals they can probably work out.

      First rule- when you get pricing for anything, ALWAYS ask about tax/gratuity as it often adds up to close to 30% and find out about hidden fees. Before you sign anything, fully read through the contract and feel free to cross out things and talk about anything you aren’t comfortable with. There are a lot of small fees around setup/tear down, overtime, transportation of equipment- literally anything you can think of, no matter how ridiculous, some places will tack a fee on for.

      – Go vintage/used on everything. Majority of things people buy for weddings are nice and have no use afterwards so people sell them online. Check vintage stores or online for dresses. A lot of people end up selling their wedding dress and you can find some beautiful unique dresses for cheap online.
      – Some venues will require you to do everything catering wise through them where others are simply venues and it’s up to you to provide the food and booze. BYO will probably be an overall cheaper choice but you will also probably end up with extra food and booze. Also, since booze is important, that will be A LOT of booze you’ll have to buy. With fees, sometimes it’s just cheaper to do a venue with that has everything.
      – Winter weddings are definitely cheaper. Friday weddings as well but I’ve seen the gap between Friday and Saturday weddings getting smaller and smaller. I’d shy away from a Sunday wedding. People all around just have less fun if they know they have to go to work the next day. You can get good deals on holidays too.
      – How quickly do you want to get married? Sometimes venues are looking to fill space and if you are willing to be flexible about dates, you can secure good deals
      – Favors and cheesy lighting aren’t worth it. Some people were able to save big on flowers by finding alternative centerpieces or items to draw attention to

      1. Noelle*

        Thanks! This is all good advice. And we’re more flexible on the date than we are on cost, which I thought would be helpful. Unfortunately, a lot of venues are being a pain about giving me information when I haven’t set a date. And we’ve looked into the Friday wedding idea but it’s not much cheaper these days.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          I found it helpful to tell them that we’ve picked a season, and once we find the venue we like, we’ll pick a date from the dates that are still available. All of a sudden they wanted to talk to me.

          1. Noelle*

            I’ll try that! I’ve also heard it’s possible to get discounted rates if you’re looking closer to the event time because they want to fill any open slots. Fingers crossed!

            1. Treena Kravm*

              Be careful with this. It heavily depends on where you live. Listen to them if they say they book up 2 years in advance. I booked in April 2013 for July 2014, and it was literally the last slot they had for that year.

      2. Natalie*

        Craigslist is also a great place to find people selling their once-used wedding stuff.

    7. Stephanie*

      A couple of friends did a cheap-ish wedding last fall (they still said it was expensive, but relatively affordable for a wedding), but here are some things the bride said saved them money:
      -They did a cookie table in lieu of a cake and had people contribute cookies
      -Groom wore a suit (instead of a tux) and bride wore a regular dress
      -One attendant a piece (their siblings) who also wore a suit or regular dress
      -Beer and wine were covered at the reception, but liquor was a cash bar
      -Buffet instead of waiter service for the meal
      -Postcards for save the dates/evites for the invitation

      If you’re not wedded (pun intended) to the idea of a big, fancy dress, you could get a bridesmaids dress or just a white dress (or any dress really) to save money.

      I agree with everyone else that the favors are nice, but unnecessary. I think people will remember the spirit of the event more than whether you had a fancy cake or free vodka.

      1. Noelle*

        Thanks, that’s good to know! I’m definitely not into the whole wedding dress thing, even less so now that I’ve tried a few on. They always ask me what I want, which is something simple and comfortable that I won’t have to wear tons of undergarments with. Then invariably they take me back to the dresses and whine about how the dresses I’m picking out aren’t at all what I described. Yes, because you don’t have any dresses like that in the entire store!

        1. Mephyle*

          It sounds like you’d be much better off – as in more likely to find what you want – looking in places where regular party or event dresses are sold than in wedding clothing stores.

          1. Noelle*

            Yes, definitely! I’m thinking I may just wait until after prom season and go to a department store.

      2. The IT Manager*

        I went to a lot of my cousins’ weddings growing up. I did not know waiters serving sit down meals at wedding was a thing. I thought receptions were all buffet.

        I was quite baffled by a friend’s wedding in my early twenties which had a reception with a full sit down meal several hours after the start of the reception. I had planned to duck out quickly because the wedding was on a weekday (commemorating the day a year earlier when the bride and groom had a shotgun JP wedding with no family) and I was about to move overseas.

    8. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      If you’re not crazy about massive amounts of planning, seriously stay away from DIY stuff. DIY can be great if you’re already crafty or you have a ton of family and friends who are very crafty and organized, but if you’re not–down that path lies madness. Planning can be pretty simple or if you’ve taken it upon yourself to arrange your own flowers and create a bunch of custom centerpieces and wall decor and do your own music and all that….it adds up to a high stress level pretty quickly.

      Best thing I did for my relatively-inexpensive wedding was pick an off-peak time. (End of April.) Everything was half the price of the summer season, plus they threw in some free stuff for us. We picked a venue that included catering and a certain amount of alcohol all in a package deal, and the food was terrific. Consider not doing an all-night affair. Mine was a morning ceremony followed by brunch and socializing, we were done by 3. It was fantastic. The food was amazing (we had breakfast and lunch food both), the venue was lovely without tons of added decor, and everyone was done by 3 so they could travel home or socialize elsewhere or whatever. We had 50ish people and didn’t want to get an expensive wedding cake, so we went to a regular bakery and ordered a couple regular cakes and popped some toppers on them. They were delicious (red velvet cake, lemon cheesecake, chocolate cream cake) and nobody cared that they weren’t “real” wedding cake. My husband loaded up his brother’s ipod shuffle with music for the reception and plugged it into the sound system and let it play. We didn’t have any dancing, so no need for DJ and/or band.

      My stress level was sky-high because I was also dealing with immigration stuff and didn’t have a lot of time to spare, so honestly, a lot of what made it possible for me was trusting people. I picked a florist whose pictures I liked, told her what I hated (“don’t use any roses, lilies, carnations, or pink/purple stuff”) and then just trusted her. I hired two women to come and do my hair and makeup because I knew I would just stress and screw it up myself, and that eased my worry. For photography, I hired a guy whose photos I liked, told him in a general sense what photos I wanted (family-wise, not specific-shot-wise) and then just trusted him to do a good job.

      Stay the hell away from Pinterest. It will just suck your focus away and make you think if you don’t have the perfectly-detailed adorable wedding on there, you’ll regret it forever. Talk seriously with your fiance about what you really want (maybe you want awesome food, maybe he wants a beautiful venue) and what you don’t give a crap about, and make THAT happen. Forget Pinterest, bridal magazines, and so on.

      1. cuppa*

        YES. So glad I got married before Pinterest. The thing with Pinterest, magazines, websites, is that everything looks awesome. Rustic weddings look awesome, fancy weddings look awesome, backyard weddings look awesome, etc. Every decision you make suddenly mean you have to say goodbye to all the other dreams of what your wedding could have been. It’s stressful and exhausting, so just stay away.

      2. Noelle*

        ROFL about the pinterest advice. I’ve definitely been sucked down that rabbit hole before.

    9. C Average*

      The trouble with asking for wedding advice is that almost all married people loved their wedding, have no regrets, and wouldn’t do anything differently. So wedding advice pretty much boils down to wedding stories most of the time.

      My wedding was small, inexpensive, and didn’t take much planning, and I have no regrets.

      It was held at my in-laws’ house, so we didn’t have to book or pay for a venue.

      It was immediate family only–17 people in total–so we didn’t have to worry about a guest list or invitations. It was just us, our parents, our siblings, and our siblings’ spouses and children.

      My husband’s father officiated, so we didn’t have to worry about a minister or a church.

      My new brother-in-law, who’s a talented photographer, took snapshots throughout, so we didn’t have to hire a photographer.

      I sewed my own dress.

      We played music from my iPod.

      We had a caterer come to the house and serve dinner there, and afterward we ate cake from a local bakery.

      The biggest expense in our wedding budget was flying in the people we wanted to have there. We knew the expense would be prohibitive for some of them but that they very much wanted to be there, and we wanted to have them there without causing them financial stress.

      It was wonderful and I loved it and I would do nothing differently at all.

    10. Christy*

      i would say look into package deals–it’ll be way easier than doing things bit by bit. If that means it’s super-traditional and a little more expensive, just remember that your time is worth the wages you’re missing out on.

    11. Katie the Fed*

      Sunday brunch wedding!

      You’ll save costs by doing it on a sunday, vendors are more available, the food is better (I think), less alcohol consumed, and people love that they can come and then get on with their day. We did a brunch wedding and people said it was such a delightful day – something different and a little more casual.

    12. Katie the Fed*

      I would also share some advice I got: focus on 2-3 things that really matter to you and spend your money/attention on those. For me it was the dress, the photographer, and the food. I didn’t care that much about centerpieces or personalized napkins or things like that.

      My flowers were from Sams Club (check out them and Costco – they have great packages and my flowers were stunning!) and centerpieces from 50flowers website. The centerpieces were pre-arranged and we popped them in vases I ordered at dollar general. They were gorgeous!

      Hair and makeup I hired someone for because it was less t stress about, but I didn’t worry about details – just told them to make me look pretty and not too made-up.

      Things you can skip without anyone caring:
      Photo Booth
      Second Photographer
      Videographer (that’s my opinion but I know people differ)
      Personalized anything (napkins, runner, etc)

      Also, keep your guest list small. Decide on a rough number and make a list. My general rule was close family and friends I’d seen or talked to in the last year, with a couple exceptions. But it was nice and intimate, about 75 people – all of whom we knew pretty well. This part can be uncomfortable, but stick to your guns. When mom want to know why you’re not inviting a cousin you haven’t seen since the last funeral, just say you’re keeping it small and intimate.

      1. Noelle*

        Thanks! My fiance and I are not big photo people so I’m already trying to find a photographer in the DC area who will be a little more down to earth. I can’t imagine having a videographer. And we’re definitely going to have a small wedding, we’re both from huge families and we just don’t have the bandwidth to invite everyone.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Noelle, as a fellow not-a-big-photo person in the DC area, I’d be glad to recommend the photographer we used for our wedding. I really loved her — she was super un-obstrusive, had more of a photojournalism style than your standard posed wedding photos, and the photos came out beautifully. Feel free to email me if you’d like her contact info!

    13. Samantha*

      This is the situation myself and my husband were in when we were planning our wedding 2 1/2 years ago. Some of the best advice I got for wedding planning on a budget was to pick two things you really care about, and put most of your money there. So if you’re a foodie, you’ll want to make sure you have really delicious food, if you and your fiance love to dance, you’ll want to invest in a good band or deejay. Let some of the other things go. Don’t let Pinterest or wedding magazines convince you that every aspect of your wedding has to be absolutely the best ever, no matter the cost.

      We saved money on our venue (a small chapel) by getting married before noon. We then had a lunch reception at a nice hotel downtown, and we were able to feed our guests a nice meal including appetizers, entrees, dessert and an open bar for WAY less than we would have spent if we’d paid a caterer to cater a reception venue.

      But my best advice is to remember that the wedding is just one day. We cut costs in part so that we would have extra money to put toward our honeymoon! We had the best trip and made memories we’ll never forget, and I wouldn’t trade that for a bigger or fancier wedding.

      1. Noelle*

        The honeymoon is the only part of the wedding I’m very excited about planning! On the one hand, planning seems overwhelming, but I think we’d rather get married sooner and skip a lot of details because as you said, it is just one day.

    14. blue_eyes*

      You need to go the blog A Practical Wedding right now. They have everything you need. And buy the book of the same title. Done.

    15. Gene*

      Two words; Las Vegas.

      More words, Tell everyone where and when and let them entertain themselves before. I recommend A Little White Wedding Chapel – make a reservation. Airfare is inexpensive to there from almost anywhere. Reasonably priced reception venues are common, or just make arrangements at the Peppermill and make it a true Rat Pack thing. I’ve seen several wedding receptions there; they don’t offer reservations online, so you’ll have to call and see what they can do.

      You don’t have to entertain anyone, there are accomodations for any budget (friend’s daughter recently got married at a rural venue, the only place to stay within an hour was >$250/night), more dining options than anywhere outside New York City.

      We did our entire thing for ~$2000, see the description here, https://www.askamanager.org/2013/12/how-can-i-get-employees-to-stop-saving-all-their-vacation-time-for-december-i-dont-want-my-photos-on-my-companys-facebook-page-and-more.html#comment-323451

  45. Ali*

    I appreciate everyone’s help with the situation with my grandmother last week. However, my mom just called me on my trip to let me know that she passed away. I knew what was up as soon as I saw my mom’s number was on my phone, so I haven’t really cried yet. I am not sure when I will or how bad it will be, but for now, I am hanging in.

    Luckily, I am on this trip with some good friends and am in touch via text with a friend who also lost a grandparent.

    I also want to add that I never did visit my gram. I regret it a little, but I ultimately felt it was best for me to remember her when she was full of life and independent. I’m not sure what the days ahead will hold for me, as my mom didn’t have the exact funeral arrangements yet, but I think I made the best choice for me and I am fortunate that my mom respected it and isn’t holding it against me.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am sorry, Ali. It sounds good with your mom and your friend. Take it one day at a time. Some moments/days will be okay and some won’t. But it doesn’t stand still, and that is the key point to hang on to. It changes as you go. Just keep talking it out as you go along.

    2. Noelle*

      I’m so sorry about your grandmother. I was in a similar situation when mine died and I didn’t visit her. Like you, I regret it, but we always had such a great relationship and I was able to talk to her on the phone when she was in the hospital. And it’s good you’re with friends who care about you right now. Hang in there!

  46. jamlady*

    Reposting since I accidentally commented on someone else’s post above haha:

    So I have a 3 month contract in the same area where my husband will have a 3 month TDY (that’s a first) and we have 2 cats. He has to be flown with the military and since it’s temporary, I’m just loading up my car and driving out. It’s 21 hours straight and I usually do it on my own in 2 days. What do people recommend for cat car travel? We’ve done the same trip in reverse in 3 days but A) they never once left their crates for the entire trip even though we had them opened in the hotels and B) it was a lot easier carrying them in and out when my husband could help. I feel like I could do it in 2 since they never left the crates anyway and it would get them to our new temp home faster, but I also worry about stopping for bathroom breaks more often and leaving them in the car (not that it’s 100 degrees out right now, but still). Any thoughts on this?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Can you lock the car and leave the AC/heat on? I have forgotten where you are. With the heat leave it on low, not high. yikes.
      My cat carrier has wheels and you can attach a leash to the carrier so it rolls along behind you. Is something like this doable?

      1. jamlady*

        My carriers don’t have wheels and they’re both the hard-shelled ones. Also, I have an abyssian/tabby that’s a MONSTER cat (sweetest thing though) and only fits in small dog carriers haha. Maybe I can take out a luggage rack for them and be that person? It would still be nice to do it in 2 days though, but this whole thing is going to be stressful enough for them that I don’t want to overdo it.

        I never really said, but I’m all over the place between Texas, the southwest, and southern California. It’s freezing in Texas right now and normal enough in California (as usual), so I guess it will depend on how it’s looking when I end up leaving in a few weeks regarding the bathroom breaks and stuff. My car is old so any weather extremes will be kind of rough on them, even if I leave them in there for only 3 minutes.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Okay, you got me thinking.
        Here is a (relatively cheap) folding roll cart. I have used something similar- it’s not great but it is doable. You can probably use bungee cords to hold the carriers in place.

        The other thing I thought of is purchasing a mini fan for your car. Something that would plug in. I would not do well with 10.5 hours of driving each day, to be worried about pets on top of that would be a BFD to me.
        I think you are better off stretching it out to three days. The stress alone here would do me in.

        1. jamlady*

          I totally missed this response. I love this little cart! I’m actually okay with up to 13 hour days (then I’m done). But I think I may end up stressing so much about whether the ginger meows are okay that shorter days might bring necessary peace of mind. It’s already going to be stressful enough – I’m working near my husband on his TDY for once, but I may never actually get to see him, and that’s way more annoying to me than him just being somewhere far away and KNOWING I can’t.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Done this! We took our cat from Alberta to Ontario, three solid days of driving, about 40 hours. What we did is that we kept our cat in the carrier all the time in the car, but when we stopped to gas up and take a break we’d offer him some water in a dish. He didn’t really ever drink more than a lick or two, and he didn’t eat any kibble while driving, but when we stopped for the night we’d put him in the motel bathroom and he’d devour some food, drink water, and use the box. It’s a giant pain in the ass, but very doable. I wouldn’t worry about stopping for breaks as long as you won’t be more than a few minutes or so. Mine would sleep for hours, then wake up and chirp to let us know he was still there, and we’d give him scritches or a treat and then he’d conk back out for another few hours.

      1. jamlady*

        Good to know they lasted in the car just fine for what sounds like 11 or 12 hours of driving. I would much rather do 2 days of that length than 3 days of seven hours. I remember them being pretty quiet for most of it, but every so often the one that NEVER meows would suddenly start squeaking over and over. I’ll have to remember to pick up some treats for those stressy moments. Poor dudes haha

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Yup, it was no big deal. One day we were in the car about 18 hours, and it was probably harder on us that it was on kitty. He really didn’t seem to mind the process, but all cats are different and Tofu was cool with it. We did let him into the box a few times but he never used it until we were stopped at night.

    3. C Average*

      There’s an anti-anxiety product called Rescue Remedy that’s herbal-based, scentless and tasteless, and formulated for both humans and animals. It’s in the hippie-granola section of most well-stocked grocery stores. Get some and put it in your cat’s water before you depart. I swear it is magical stuff. My family has used it on our cats and on ourselves with very good results. We got the initial recommendation from the vet to whom my sister takes her cats. It makes the cat far less anxious in the car and far quicker to recover from the trip.

      1. jamlady*

        Ooh I wonder if my quiet cat will fall for it. He’s the pickiest thing EVER. Big monster cat totally would and he’s very loquacious by nature (oh abyssinians) so he just sits back there like “meow meow meow. Mow? Meh ow.” All. Day. Long. But if he’s relaxed enough to sleep… Worth a shot!