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?

      TL:DR
      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)

      http://www.consumerfinance.gov/askcfpb/1069/someone-took-money-my-account-without-my-permission-what-can-i-do.html

        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*

        JAMIE!

        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)*

        JAMIE!!

        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

              SPOILERS

              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).

      https://disneyland.disney.go.com/hotels/good-neighbor/

  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.
      Enjoy!

      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.
      https://www.askamanager.org/2015/03/weekend-free-for-all-march-7-8-2015.html/feed
      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.