weekend free-for-all – April 25-26, 2015

Olive on bean bagThis comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly non-work only; if you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book Recommendation of the Week: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon. This is a perfect book. I will tell you nothing else about it. Just read it.

{ 956 comments… read them below }

  1. Camellia

    My daughter called me Tuesday morning to share what she called “a parenting moment”. She said that all the way through it she kept thinking, “Mom always said blah blah blah.” So all week I’ve been remembering…a lot, so I’m going to inflict/share/bless you all with it. Don’t worry, I’ll break it up into chunks. O_0

    Things I taught my daughter:

    If it’s not yours, don’t touch it. (We respected her stuff, too.)

    How to do laundry. By the age of nine she was totally responsible for hers.

    Don’t use curse words all the time, it dilutes their impact. Save them for that rare occasion when you really need to jolt someone and indicate that you are deadly serious. It will shock them into listening to you.

    When you call a customer service line and get someone who is resistant, obstructive, doesn’t listen well, isn’t being helpful, etc., hang up and call back. You will get someone else and maybe they will be more helpful. I was able to show her this when she was a teenager and had trouble with her pre-paid phone minutes. The first CSR was all “nope, can’t help, you’re stuck outta luck, nothin’ I can do”. I directed her to hang up and call back. The next one was “Well, THAT’S not right! There, I gave you back all your minutes.” (I got lucky on this one, thank goodness; what a great experience!)

    Money:

    Make change by starting with the amount owed and counting up to the amount tendered. When she interviewed for her first job as a cashier in a Hallmark store the manager brought in a cash drawer and said, “The amount owed is X and the customer gives you an XX dollar bill. How much change will you give back?” She said that after she counted up the money the way I had taught her he looked at her and said, “Well, I don’t know how you did that, but that’s the right answer.”

    Use cash when you go shopping. Watching that money disappear out of your hand with each successive purchase is one of the best budgeting techniques I know.

    Things my daughter taught me:

    Think outside the box (when she was three):
    If you haven’t finished your slice of baloney and you need to go do something, you can stick it to the wall and the dog can’t bite it off. But it sure is funny to watch him try! And when your mom won’t let you finish that slice of baloney when you peel it back off the wall, you can tear it into small bits and make a mosaic pattern on your leg with them. Then you can let the dog eat them off of your leg.

    1. Camellia

      Things I taught my daughter (continued):

      Fashion:

      Pull down your lower lip and see what color is the skin on the inside. If it is a yellow-ish pink, wear warm colors; if it is a blue-ish pink, wear cool colors. When in doubt compare yourselves to friends and family – once you find someone the opposite of you the difference is easily seen. Which led to my next lesson…

      Contrary to popular belief, not everyone can wear black. If you are blond/blue with a warm skin tone like we are, black looks terrible on us. Go with bright navy instead. (Many years later I was finally vindicated on this when I heard Clinton Kelly say on his show that not everyone can wear black.)

      And most important of all, NEVER wear anything that is wider than it is long!

      Things my daughter taught me:

      Jeans are supposed to be tight and they are only supposed to look good on you when you are standing. Ignore how they look when you sit down; everyone gets a muffin-top then.

      1. Sara

        I just went into the bathroom and checked the inside of my lower lip. Guess I need to get some more warm colors in my wardrobe (which is what my mother has been telling me for years).

        1. Mimmy

          Just did the same thing–warm for me as well. The things I learn from this website….. LOL

    2. Camellia

      Things I taught my daughter (continued):

      Be ambidextrous, it comes in handy:

      When she was eleven she asked me how I was able to put mascara on my left eye with my left hand. I said, “You play viola, right? And each hand is doing something totally different AT THE SAME TIME. So there’s no reason you can’t do that with other things.”

      I put mascara on my right eye with my right hand and on my left eye with my left hand. I can use a computer mouse with either hand so I use the mouse on the left and write on my notepad on the right. I can eat with either hand, put toothpaste on with either hand, turn a screwdriver with either hand, bowl with either hand, you get the idea.

      I do have some preferences; I cut things with my right hand and deal cards with my left.

      And I can also write with my left hand, in beautiful cursive script. Backwards. From the right margin to the left margin. Anything you care to dictate. And you have to hold it up to a mirror in order to read it. Is that cool or just really nerdy?

      1. danr

        I’m a leftie and when I print with my right hand it’s also a mirror image. Of course I start on the right hand side of the paper so I can smudge in either direction. My mother was right handed and a bit ambidextrous and when she wrote left handed, it was my handwriting.

      2. Audiophile

        I can do most things with either hand (brushing my teeth, bowling, eating, etc) but I can only write with my left hand and strangely enough, I can only operate a mouse with my write hand. I’ve tried doing it with my left hand but it’s not as cooperative.

      3. Noelle

        I’m left handed and I can also write backwards, in cursive or in print. I can also write passably with my right hand, but it’s definitely a lot slower.

    3. Stephanie

      My mom showed me how to quick soak beans and use a pressure cooker this week. I made black bean soup in like two hours (including soaker). This was a game changer.

      I showed her how to braise collards. We’re Southern and the Deep South way of cooking collards tends to be to cook them for hours into a pot of sludge.

      1. the gold digger

        in bacon grease. you braise your veg in bacon grease.

        (And re the change countback – that’s how I was taught when I was a cashier in high school and it always impresses me when someone does that now, because almost nobody does it anymore, even though it is the Right Thing To Do.)

        1. TalleySueNYC

          Well, counting back is effective. But with electronic cash registers that do the subtraction and display the amount, I’ve found that counting back actually confuses people. They look at the display and expect you to count up to that number.

          1. the gold digger

            Good point. I am always doing the math in my head, so I want it counted back, but I can see most people wouldn’t do it that way.

            I get annoyed when the cashier cannot figure out what the change should be if the charge is 13.78 and I dig out a quarter and three pennies to go with the twenty I have already handed her. I used to tutor high school math – Algebra II, so I thought it would be polynomials and quadratic formulas – and the kids didn’t even know their times tables and couldn’t convert fractions to decimals. I kept telling them they would need math in their jobs but they didn’t believe me. The girls said they were not going to get jobs, they were going to get married. I wanted to pull my hair out.

        2. Ellie H.

          It’s the “right way to do it”? That is so weird to me. I find counting up to the amount I handed the cashier weird and confusing. I can do math fast in my head so I can think about how much change I’m owed without mechanically counting.

          1. the gold digger

            Most people cannot, however, do math fast in their heads, which is why when I was a cashier in high school, this was the proper way to count change back – it was the only way people could be sure they were getting the proper amount.

      2. Vicki

        Pressure cookers are wonderful. I grew up with them. Mom used one all the time as did my maternal grandmother.

        When I was moving out to go to grad school, I had to buy one for myself. A friend of my mother saw me in the store looking at the various options. She said “Oh! Don’t buy that! I have one I got as a wedding gift 30 years ago and have never used; I’m afraid of it.”

        I said “I’ve been using one for years; I’m fine with them.” She said “In that case, I’ll give you mine. I’ll bring it to your house.”

        It was a great cooker, the same model my mother used and better than I was thinking of buying for myself. I still have it.

      1. Windchime

        Best thing I taught my kids:

        — Be a good person and be kind. That’s the most important thing.
        –Don’t let anyone pigeon-hole you, even your parents who love you. We are not inside your head; only you know the full truth of your situation.
        –I will come unglued on your ass if you chew tobacco and leave your spit cup where I can find it. Seriously, UNGLUED.

        Things they taught me:

        –Just because I am the mom doesn’t give me the rights to know all the information. “Mind your own beeswax” has been said to me more than once.
        –In order to have friends, you need to know how to be a good friend. Very simple, but smart.
        –Don’t sweat everything. Chill out a little, for crying out loud.
        –NPR is awesome.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I love your list! Several years ago, I decided that my goal in life was for people who knew me to describe me as kind (not nice–kind). I fail often, but having that as a goal really has helped me get along better with people.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I have two that my parents told me and not everyone believes me until they try it.

      If you feel a sneeze coming on but it won’t come out, look UP and INTO the nearest light. Sometimes the sneeze just goes away. other times it comes right out.

      If you think you have something in your eye then blow your nose.

    5. StillHealing

      This is a VERY fun thread to read! Cute, funny, sweet, heart warming, inspiring. Thank you for starting this! Sounds like you have wonderful relationship with your daughter.

    6. GOG11

      I am loving this thread! My mom taught me to buy good shoes and that investing in good clothing pays off. She can also just look at something on the hanger and tell me whether it will fit right on me or not (short torso and long limbs make it tricky to find things that fit well). I have no idea how she does this most of the time, though I now know that skimming things work well and flowy/baggy things look terrible. I’m hoping to pick up more as time goes on.

    7. Vicki

      > Customer service… hang up and call back.

      Or, state very clearly that you want to talk to a supervisor. This is especially helpful if the CS line is one that is likely to answer “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line…”

      >`he looked at her and said, “Well, I don’t know how you did that, but that’s the right answer.”’

      It’s really disturbing to me that the manager thought that, let alone said it.

  2. AvonLady Barksdale

    I’m feeling unusually lethargic today. Ordinarily I love a rainy day, as it gives me an excuse to stay in and laze around, but we planned to go kayaking today, and I wanted to take the dog to the park, and and and… Blech. I am doing laundry and catching up on Scandal and napping.

    The napping is because I haven’t slept a full night in a week. This is mostly because of work stress and travel, but it’s also because my poor doggy is suffering terribly from allergies and wakes up multiple times a night to lick his paws. Slurp slurp slurp. His crate is in our bedroom and he loves being near us, so leaving him in the living room doesn’t work (he howls or barks). We started him on Zyrtec the other day, and I read something about keeping his paws super clean and disinfected, so now I’m spraying them with vinegar (Dr. Karen Becker’s suggestion) and lavender oil (the latter of which has been recommended to me to help his anxiety). Please commiserate with me.

    1. Camellia

      I do commiserate with you; we have rain here too, after three gorgeous days.

      Dog slurping is the worst! I hope the vinegar treatment works – for him and you.

    2. Anon 6

      Thunderstorms here the past couple mornings. Dogs ended up in the bedroom, sleeping on the floor at the foot of the bed.

    3. The IT Manager

      Uggg, yes. I need to shop, its been raining all day. At one point I got off the road because the rain was so terrible and waited in my car for about 10 before going into the restaurant. So unmotivated to be in and out of the car today.

    4. Risa

      Oh I commiserate with you about the doggy allergies!

      Mine is allergic to trees, grass and weeds, which means during the spring he’s literally trying to run away from his own skin. I put t-shirts on him – both to keep him from absorbing the allergens into his skin and to keep him from scratching his skin open.

      He gets benedryl every day. But it’s really hard to watch him be sooooo miserable. Sunday night, he was up at 2:30am chewing on himself. I had to lay down with him on the couch and cuddle with him to get him calmed down enough that both of us could sleep that night.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        Poor buddy! It is so miserable, watching them be miserable. I rubbed some lavender oil on his paws and his neck last night, and it did help him sleep and stay calm, but of course he was up at 5:30am with the birdies, licking. I get up with him too– sometimes I lie down on the floor with my head in his crate until he sighs and falls asleep.

        Heh. No one can tell me I don’t love this dog.

        1. Public employee temp anon

          One thing that helps the spring itches is to interrupt them when they start chewing, and dab some bitter apple on the spot, then give them a bone or kong or whatever. Also Advantage for flea control, years ago my vet told me with itchy dogs even one fleabite will start the cycle. And I try to cut out giving them junk food during itchy times. Easier to say than to resist those sad eyes.

    5. Mary in Texas

      Try dinovite. It’s a vitamin supplement that you put in their food. My dogs has allergies and licked their paws raw, but after about 4 months on dinovite, they are much better. Read the reviews. It’s not an overnight cure, but it works!! Good luck.

    6. Anastasia Beaverhausen

      This reply is so late but I wanted to say watch out if he licks the lavender oil off his paws!! Oils can be very dangerous to ingest!

  3. Ask a Manager Post author

    So, I like spa services. I find them totally relaxing and they put me into an ASMR-like state. Which is why I like to be quiet during them; it’s not relaxing if I’m having to carry on a conversation during them. How, then, do I politely tell the person administering said spa services, “Please stop talking to me or I will have to stop coming here and find somewhere else to go where they will let me be quiet?” The latest is a very nice woman who I’m on the verge of never returning to, because I can’t figure out how to say STOP TALKING in a way that doesn’t feel rude.

    I know the standard advice for this is to say something like, “Oh, I’d love to just relax and zone out today,” but I feel like I’d have to say it every single time and I’m not convinced it’s explicit enough to work anyway.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m with you on all of these counts. In your position, honestly? I’d… find someone else. You can’t talk to her manager because that would just be awkward (I mean, you CAN, but spa services are so intimate that your next session would probably be pretty tense), and if you feel like you can’t say it even once, then you either have to deal with it for every session or find someone new.

    2. Coffee, Please

      You can call or email the spa manager and ask them to put a note in your file that you like it quiet.

      We have a man with disabilities who we care for who strongly dislikes talking to strangers. We added that note to his file with the manager at the salon, and now the hairdresser has specific instructions not to make small talk.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        See, that feels too heavy-handed to me! I don’t want to be the client who needs a special note. I just want magic words that will make it stop but with everyone still feeling good.

        (And I just don’t understand why people don’t take their cues from clients in this situation.)

        1. Coffee, Please

          Yes in a perfect world, cues would be enough to get the message across.

          I’ve also had success with the strategy you mentioned earlier saying “This is such a great get-a-away for me from my work stress and busy home life. I like to just enjoy the quiet.” And yes, I do have to say it every time, but it seems to work very well.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            Do you say it right at the start, or once they start talking and you realize you’ll need to? I need the complete script here to envision it :)

            1. Coffee, Please

              I say hello and normal greetings. They usually ask “How is your day going?” That’s when I say a line or two about needing a quiet break from work/kids/whatever. Then I say “I am so looking forward to just zoning out while I am here!”
              After the service, I offer comments and a sincere thanks.

            2. hotel spa manager

              It’s really not at all seen as high maintenance if you tell the front desk before going into your treatment (ideally while booking your treatment for the first time), “Also, I don’t like a lot of small talk, generally prefer someone who isn’t too chatty. Would you recommend this esthetician for a quiet treatment?”

              The desk will never say, “no, this woman is a totally inconsiderate blabbering buffoon, you shouldn’t book with her.” They’ll say, “of course, that won’t be a problem Ms. Green.” And then they’ll note in your appointment that you prefer not to talk during the treatment. This isn’t really something that needs to be escalated to the manager until you’ve asked for a quiet treatment and not received one.

              Also, this is super normal. I hate talking during treatments and tell our therapists when they work on me, after a couple minutes of chatting, “ok, I’m departing to napland now. See you in 80 minutes.” Admittedly, this is usually during a massage, and it’s more standard for estheticians to be chatty than massage therapists, but truly, whoever is working on you should understand.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale

          Because they are clueless. I completely agree with you– one measure of a good aesthetician is the ability to read the client. Even if she’s doing a great job, you’re not getting everything out of it that you want.

          Best non-therapist massage I ever got was in a hotel spa in Bermuda, where the masseuse told me explicitly that she would be very quiet during the massage, I should speak up if I need to, but she hoped that was ok with me. It was. I love my massage therapist (he’s closing his business! I cry), but if he had talked incessantly through the first session, I would never have gone back.

          1. hotel spa manager

            I tentatively agree, but it’s also up to the client to make sure they’re actually being clear about what they want. I know I’ve had to stop myself from chatting out of initial nervousness because I know that I actually want a quiet treatment and will be annoyed if I end up not being clear about what I want. Therapists, while very intuitive, aren’t mind readers*.

            *I’m sure some of them would take issue with that statement. Not all of them are, at least.

        3. TalleySueNYC

          But the thing with “magic words” is that you have to say them. But you don’t want to say them to her, and you don’t want to say them to the person who takes the appointment.
          You can say them to the person who takes the appointment, and people can still feel good.
          You can say them to the salon worker herself, and people can still feel good. C’mon, you can do this! It’s -exactly- like managing!

          You smile, and you say, “I really enjoy relaxing during these appointments, with absolute silence. Can I ask you to speak to me only when you need me to do something, and help me create a really relaxing feeling of solitude?”

          It’s all in the delivery. And if you speak up, and things are awkward, then you move on.

          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            I just don’t want to make her feel like I’m saying “Please provide me with this service but I will not deign to speak to you during it. I have no interest in you, only what you can do for me.”

            I do think, though, that I’m going to say something next time I’m there.

            1. TalleySueNYC

              Can you make it a request? Will that feel better? And, can you do some ‘I’m interested in you’ convos -before- she gets started? So that when you say, perhaps, “I’d like to try something different today; I’ve found that when it’s really quiet, I get so relaxed during these pampering treatments. Could we try silence? If you have to ask me to turn my head or something, just ask quietly, but could we try a session with no chatting?” Then tip nicely, so that the next time you’re there, you can say, “Oh, that was nice last time, can we do it again?” And she’ll have a reason to.

              Also, Ms. Manager, ;), remember that you are -paying- her for a service, it’s not actually a favor; she’s at work, and she’s not your personal friend.

              Good luck!

            2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

              I can’t promise it won’t get weird but generally, your preferences are the kind of thing someone selling services is going to want to hear.

              Hair stylists and the like are taught to sell on their personality. It’s a big factor in getting and keeping loyal clientele. If this is a one person practice, a monthly standing is important to her so who knows, she might enjoy an hour of not being “on” also.

              I wonder if a business could do well actually asking your preference or advertising “quiet” available. I’m serious. I avoid hairdressers like the plague because I can’t stand even the thought of sitting in a chair, surrounded by a bunch of other women, and having to keep up conversation during a two hour cut and color.

              See: real reason I wear my hair grey and not bold “screw you ageism” statement.

            3. LD

              As you always tell us on this blog, say something. And it is possible to say something without coming across as if you are too good to talk to the service provider/massage therapist. I’ve had them ask me to let them know how they are doing so they know if they are too tough or too soft and what I typically say is something along the lines of what others have recommended: “I’ll let you know if something doesn’t feel right, but otherwise assume that I am just relaxing and zoning out; and please don’t think it’s rude if I don’t talk. I really like to just relax and zone out to the music. Thanks!” That typically works. And you do have to remind them every time. You’d think that they would remember, but I have to also remember that I don’t recall everyone’s preferences even when I’ve worked with them before!

    3. AnnieNonymous

      It’s very much a “thing” among beauty fans (ie people who love hairstyling, makeup, etc) to have solid preferences for quiet or chatty estheticians. I’m sure you could speak to the spa manager and say, “I’m just one of those people who prefers a quiet process. Jane is lovely, but her style is too chatty for me.” She’ll know what you mean.

    4. Jill of All Trades

      I’ve got nothing for you, but I will be checking back for any tips I may be able to apply to dental cleanings (having my hands in someone’s mouth would make me think twice about asking them questions, but not everyone).

    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      Now I’m realizing that the perfect time to say it would be the first time you went to the person. You could say, “I should warn you, I tend to use this time to just zone out and will be very quiet, so please don’t be offended that I’m not talking!” Seems harder to say it without weirdness after that first appointment there.

      (And yes, I do see the irony that I’m having so much trouble with this when half the advice I give on this blog is “just speak up!”)

      1. Stephanie

        Ha, yeah there’s some irony to that. But I find small talk with hairdressers and aestheticians to be really forced. I mean, I’ll say something just to acknowledge that there’s a person and not an automaton cutting my hair or doing my nails, but it’s a bit tough talking about the weather for an extended period.

        1. Audiophile

          I thought I was the only one who felt this way. I prefer to zone out, or look at what you’re doing to my head, or relax. And having to respond to weather questions or general what do you do type questions is tiring.

        2. HelenaV

          Yep. That’s why I like my hairdresser- very good, very efficient, doesn’t do forced chitchat any more than I do!

      2. Mimmy

        And yes, I do see the irony that I’m having so much trouble with this when half the advice I give on this blog is “just speak up!”

        I was just gonna say…. :P Just teasing, you’re human just like the rest of us :)

      3. BRR

        I would try saying you are working on a big project and need this time to mentally recharge. This can even be said when she asks how you’re doing. You could also say you prefer not to talk about her work problems while she’s at work.

      4. JB (not in Houston)

        I think it would be fine if you said something now. You just have to make it seem like this is a new idea you’ve had–“I’ve been looking forward to this all week. I have a hard time giving myself permission to set aside quiet time to just relax and zone out, and I realized this would be the perfect time for that.” That wording isn’t perfect, but it’s true for a lot of women. We really don’t give ourselves enough time for that. And the sentiment is true. You have realized this would be the perfect time, you just realized it a long time ago.

      5. TalleySueNYC

        One thing to remember; you said, here, “…that I’m not talking.”

        But you want for -her- to not talk either. So I’d explain that you get value from the silence.

      6. kd

        I use close to this phrase when at the salon. Usually – ” I am tired and would just like to zone out. Please don’t be offended if I don’t want to talk.”
        I have never had anyone get an attitude. Besides for some reason that whole hair washing thing makes me sooo sleepy!
        My hairdresser is very understanding, sometimes we talk and sometimes not. She could be my kid, so not a whole lot in common, but I find it funny when she asks me for dating advice!

    6. Muriel Heslop

      I just say, “Forgive me if I’m quiet today – I’m tired and I plan to zone out.” Or omething like that. I let them know up front that I won’t be attentive and most people are quiet.

      I’m a huge extrovert but I really look forward to quiet during a spa service.

      1. Trixie

        Or maybe suffering from a migraine and just need the downtime, which will continue through out next appointments. Or need a mental/social break.

    7. Elder Dog

      Say it at the beginning of the session. She’s a professional, and assuming you tip well and are a regular customer, she wants to keep you as a custom, and will make sure it won’t be a problem or awkward.
      “Sally, before we start, I just want to tell you how much I enjoy my spa sessions with you, and I really prefer we don’t talk while you work. I really need to relax, and chatting means I can’t.”

      1. Elder Dog

        Whoops. Part of my comment disappeared.

        You may have to say that at the beginning of more than one session, but eventually, it’ll stick and you won’t need to say it every time.

      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        See, that sounds reasonable, but in reality I will never say it because it feels rude to me. It’s a totally reasonable statement, but it still feels rude and I just don’t want to feel rude/awkward while I’m there. This is the problem in a nutshell — I can’t say this very reasonable thing. (Interestingly, I would not find it rude if someone said that to me though.)

        1. hotel spa manager

          I think this would be a little heavy handed, actually. Right or wrong, this will get an ice queen response from most estheticians I’ve met (although not all — Alison, I wish you lived in my city because I would recommend you to my favorite esthetician + massage therapist who responds like an absolute champ to both extremely direct and indirect requests like this from guests, without even a hint of irritation, insult or resentment. She is a rare gem, though.) I stand by a more indirect approach to maintain decent relations with your esthie.

        2. GOG11

          If the statement is reasonable and not rude if it were said to you, is it that you appreciate direct communication/candor more than most or is it this specific person that makes you feel as though you can’t say things to? If you’re the only one who wouldn’t find it rude, I’d try to find another way to approach the conversation and to express yourself. However, if you could imagine saying it to someone who you’ve seen in the past or the person who does your hair but not this person, it’s probably this particular person. Has she done other things in the past that make you feel as though reasonable requests would be poorly received? If you can’t think of past examples, and it’s not quite the dynamics set up by the specific type of service, then maybe it’s really neither of those things and you can actually say something like what Elder Dog suggested.

        3. Not So NewReader

          I think the discomfort is from not having said it up front… that would definitely bother me.
          Why not build up to it? “You know, Sue, I have been coming here for a while and I really love coming here and I love your work. This may sound a little crazy but I decided that I would reeeally love to just relax and zone out while you work your magic. This would me that you don’t have to talk with me and I am as happy as a clam in my own little relaxed world while you do your stuff. It never dawned on me before now, that is why I did not say so upfront.”

        4. anon attorney

          I was discussing this very question with my therapist the other day. The formulation she suggested was something like “This is my only quiet time today, and it’s really important to me to have that space. Thanks.” I am going to try this, as I also don’t like making small talk at the beauty parlour. We discussed the beauty therapist’s reaction, and concluded that a good one won’t mind (and may even be relieved). The ambience is part of the service. It’s OK to express a preference about it.

        5. Artemesia

          If you like the person and want to keep going to her, I would preface it by saying ‘This has been a crazy week and I am really frazzled, I’d love to just zone out and not chat while you do my (whatever it is). This makes a real mini vacation for me.’ Or somesuch. The idea is to frame in terms of your own frazzled week and needing a quiet break. That detaches it from ‘I hate how you always chat’ and attaches it to ‘Me, my terrible chaotic week.’

        6. Elder Dog

          So at the start of your next appointment, tell her you’ve heard from other people they get more out of their massages when they don’t talk during and ask her what she thinks about that, and tell her, either that appointment or the next one, you’d like to try it. You can catch up with her at the beginning or end of the appointment so it doesn’t feel like you’re not interested in her.

          If you don’t say something, she won’t know. If you go somewhere else, she won’t know why. Why not give her a chance to correct the one problem you have with her otherwise excellent service? I can tell you, for sure, if she’s like most people in the beauty industry, she’d rather have you say something than just stop coming. She’ll need to find another client if you leave, and that costs her time and money. She’d rather keep you coming.

        7. Dr. Speakeasy

          It’s direct (g00d) but the facework is missing. Something like “Do you mind if I just zone out today – this is my only moment for peace and quiet?” will feel more comfortable to say. Not that you actually need her permission but phrasing as a question will make it feel more polite than a direct order.

        8. Alma

          I once lived in a community where there were three massage schools. The students had to do a number of massages to be licensed (and these massages were a bargain!), and the best students had their choice of many studios when they looked for jobs.

          In this competitive market, the massage therapists who catered to their clients were always booked. Those who kept a card on each client were prepared with proper room temperature, music style. They knew what kind of pressure to apply in what areas, kept notes about problem areas, so there was a very short check-in conversation at the start. And at the first appointment, those kind of questions were asked, and the client could say “today I feel like this…”

          Years later, I suggested to my hairstylist she keep cards on her clients – not only with their color formulas and contact information, but with other notes that would make their time in the chair just what they need. Are they quiet time people? Worried about a sick parent? Likes a neck massage?

          This has made her business. This kind of friendly suggestion (to help her MANAGE her own business!) would be most welcome, I am sure.

    8. Robyn

      Find a new person if you can’t say ‘I don’t want to talk during my spa time, thanks’ to this one.

      And start out with the new person saying that from the first session.

      Or stop worrying about being rude. She is being rude by not catching your clues. So, personally, I’d actually call and speak to the manager. You are paying for a service. You should get the service you want.

    9. Windchime

      I wish I knew the answer. I had to change hairstylists a few years ago because of a version of this. She would talk on the phone wall she was cutting my hair, and then her kids would come in and she would talk to them (on and on and ON) about their school day. She was barely paying attention to me at all.

      1. the gold digger

        I am so grateful that I have become friends with my hairstylist – every month, I tell her about the latest drama with my inlaws and hear about her daughter and her mother and her mother’s death and how they are handling the estate. I don’t know what I’m going to say tomorrow when my husband and I both go in at the same time (we share her) – I want to tell her all about 260-lb Sly drunkenly falling on 110-lb Doris and hurting her knees and after the ER said nothing was broken, letting Doris lie around the house, completely immobile (peeing in a trash can), in great pain, and not thinking, “Perhaps additional medical attention is called for here,” and Doris not getting any more medical attention until my husband arrived there, took one look at the situation, and called an ambulance. (OK – one look late at night when Doris was drunk, in bed, but then ambulance first thing in the morning when he realized how bad it was.)

        So I want to gossip with Carol about my in-laws but can I do it in front of my husband? The key will be if he tells the story first. Which I bet he will. Because he is pissed.

        1. the gold digger

          PS But I switched dental hygienists because I was so tired of being talked to while I couldn’t answer. Current hygienist and I catch up before she sticks her hands in my mouth. Once that starts, she stops talking and I turn on the mp3 player.

        2. JB (not in Houston)

          Yes! I generally don’t like making small talk with service people because I’m not good at it, so it stresses me out (I’m totally fine making small talk at work and social events, but for some reason I feel extra pressure when talking to people providing personal services). But I love my hairstylist, and I look forward to seeing her. It makes getting a haircut so much less stressful. I also love how she cuts my hair, but she’s also great!

    10. Dan

      I apologize if someone else made this comment already, but I find your predicament pretty funny, given the number of similar questions you field on a regular basis.

      Take the cash out of the equation, and you have your classic “My does X. How do I make them stop?”

      AAM: “Have you told them?”

      Writer: “No!”

      AAM: “Why not? How else do you expect them to actually get the message?”

      I do find it bizarre that a gentle “You know, I prefer not have small talk during my sessions. I find it distracting.” is too strong of a message.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Eh, I know where it is coming from.

          It’s coming from the discomfort from the “her job is to serve you” dynamic. It pushes your “is this classist or elitist????” buttons. I got ’em too. I get it.

          1. the gold digger

            Yeah, I went through the same thing the first couple of times I had a pedicure. I just wanted to read People magazine, but I thought, “This person is handling my bare feet. It is such a demeaning position for her to be in. I should at least be engaged with her.”

            But then I got over it. I am paying for a service that she is voluntarily – I assume – providing and usually, she is chatting with the woman working next to her.

            1. Clever Name

              This is why I like that the ladies at my nail place aren’t awesome at speaking English; they don’t try to make small talk, and I like it that way.

              1. Pennalynn Lott

                I’ve only ever had one pedicure, and I’ve never gone back because I couldn’t understand what the technician was saying to me. Raise my leg? Move my foot? Put it back in the water? Hold it up? Do I want X or Y? (I can tell I’m being offered a choice, but I can’t tell what that choice is).

                It was so stressful that I just bought all the pedicure implements myself, so I can do it at home.

                (Every single mani/pedi place within 15 miles of my house is staffed by women of Asian descent for whom English is very much a second language. I don’t have much choice about where to go. And I really, really don’t want to have to endure that point-and-pantomime thing, with them gradually raising their voice louder and louder, as if shouting incomprehensible things at me will magically make their meaning clear.)

        2. TalleySueNYC

          I think it may also be because you know, in your head, that this has bothered you for a long time. And you don’t want it to come out, that it’s a long-standing problem, and have her feel awkward about having “done it wrong” for so long.

          So cast it as something new. I like the “this is my only quiet time today, will you help me by making this a quiet space while your work?” Make it be something she is doing -for- you; an extra treatment, in a way. And then the next time say, “That was so relaxing; I want to do it again.”

          Fight the “classist/elitist” problem by being friendly afterward.

          And maybe all these massage therapists and spa service providers need their own version of AAM, where the blogger can say: “Here’s a tip: don’t talk!”

    11. Wanda

      I’m the same way and i find I have to change massage therapists regularly because once they get to know me I can’t get them to stop talking. I’ve even tried setting the stage when I try a new one by telling them what type of massage I prefer (deep tissue) and that I prefer to be quiet during it. That works until they get to know me better then it’s all talk, talk, talk.

    12. nep

      Wow — I find it crazy that a person providing such services in that kind of setting would sit there and ramble (esp about his/her ‘stuff’). That is just nuts. Don’t. Talk.
      If I experienced that I wouldn’t go back; not at all worth my money because silence and a chance to zone out is a big part of what I’m paying for.

    13. J.B.

      IMO part of being a really good hairdresser or similar is starting off with mild small talk but gauging the client’s responses or lack thereof and letting silence come in. Maybe you should ask around about others.

    14. Lionness

      I just had to change my masseuse (writing this makes me feel very fancy, but it is my one indulgence I can’t give up) because she talked Non.Stop. during my massage. I tried being non-responsive (short mmhmm, etc) and not really engaging. I tried saying how I like to relax and clear my head, etc. I tried everything short of telling her to shut up, I don’t want to talk (because that is beyond what I am capable of with these situations – it just feels sooo rude).

      So now I have a new masseuse.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        It’s even more bizarre with a massage therapist, isn’t it? Where the whole point is to relax? I had a massage the afternoon before my wedding and made the mistake of mentioning that I was there because I was getting married the next day, and for the first 20 minutes of the massage, she kept asking me questions about the wedding plans — when it was pretty obvious that I was there to chill out and get relaxed before the event. I finally had to say, “This is actually stressing me out and I can’t keep talking about it.”

        1. fposte

          My problem is that I really like a kind of dull rhythmic talk during my massage, because that’s part of the ASMR-like experience of it for me. I don’t want to be asked a ton of questions, but if you were looking for somebody to listen while you hashed out the various colors you might paint your kitchen and the pros and cons of each, I’m your massage client.

    15. Sophia

      This kind of reminds me of how much I hate it when I get a dental hygienist or dentist who A) wants to talk my ear off while my mouth is full of dental stuff and I can’t talk, or B) talks about really annoying things like what was on the Bachelor last night.

      I kind of like to be able to just zone out when my teeth are getting drilled and can’t stand being talked to during dental work. I feel bad about being annoyed with conversations between the people working on my teeth, but at the same time, I expect a small level of professionalism (i.e. no Bachelor Talk)

  4. The Other Dawn

    I’m trying to decide if I want to drop my current blog. I currently write about life post-gastric bypass. I’m really not one to get all creative with my food like other post-ops, so I post about recipes I try, products I like, and post pics of my meals. I get a steady number of hits per post, but never any comments. Not that I make an effort to make it very interactive.

    I’m thinking I want to do a different kind of blog. I’d really like to do something where I review recipes by actually cooking them *according to the stated recipes*. The thought came about when I was looking for a recipe to try and was reading the readers’ reviews. It was really frustrating because there were hardly any people that actually made the recipe as stated. Most people wrote the review based on tweaks they had made: “I don’t like X so I used Y” or “it seemed like it wasn’t enough oil so I doubled the oil, and added peppers and beans because it seemed boring.” How can you even review the recipe when you didn’t actually make the recipe?! How are people to know if it’s worth making or not?

    What do you think? Would you read something like that? And I have no idea what I would call it.

    On the tenant situation, they have to be out Tuesday!! I drove by today to see if they removed the spray paint yet (nope) and if it looked like they were packing up (couldn’t tell). I saw them walking with a bag of clothing so hopefully they were walking to their new place. Fingers crossed that I don’t have to pay a marshal to physically remove them.

    1. Yoshi

      I don’t see why you couldn’t start encorporating your original recipe idea on your current blog as a regular feature. I love blogs that have multiple dimensions to them, and the ideas seem to be related enough ( both under the umbrella of food/ food prep) and not two totally dissimilar things- like Star Wars fandom and makeup/beauty… Although that would be awesome.

      1. Marcela

        That’s what I do: I have a personal blog, mostly for my family in the other hemisphere. Sometimes I write about travel, for weeks and even a month. Now, I’m writing almost exclusively about sewing, which I’m getting back from my childhood and early teenager days, when my grandmother taught me. Some other times, my blog is all about software, and codes I’m trying to fix, create or improve. And when I’m very impressed with books or games (board games and computer games), I can only write about them. My family and friends love that my blog is always different. Sometimes they don’t like a specific theme, but the know it’s just a matter of time I’ll be writing about something else.

    2. Soupspoon McGee

      You could test the recipe idea on your current blog. I don’t know–I’m an experimenter, so I just can’t make a recipe as stated. I might implode or something. And on your current blog, maybe you could incorporate some interactive features like polls, like “What is your favorite seasoning/flavor enhancer? a) garlic; b) basil; c) lemon . . . .” Or start a list of five tips for eating out (or whatever) and ask for more suggestions.

    3. Sail On, Sailor

      Nothing for you about the blog, just cheers about the tenant situation. Can’t wait to hear that they’re gone and out of your life forever!

    4. Carrie in Scotland

      No comments on the blog but hurrah for the tenants – hopefully this time next week it’ll be all like a bad dream.

    5. Snoskred

      The Other Dawn – I read your blog and I enjoy it. With that said, it is *your* personal blog. I’m on board whatever you want to write about. :) I wouldn’t mind seeing things like recipes or even stuff like about your tenants, or photos you took, the more you that you put in there, the better, I think. :)

      Every month on the last day of the month on my blog, I do a post about new blogs I have added to my feedreader, and you’ll see yours listed there this Thursday Australian time. :)

      1. The Other Dawn

        Awww thank you!! I know i have a handful of readers, but it’s so nice to actually hear someone (other than family!) say they read it and like it. I will check yours out as well.

  5. IrishGirl

    Inspired by a comment on a post during the week.. What is it common for the bride and groom to pay for at a wedding where you’re from? I’m from Ireland and the vast majority of our weddings are of the format ceremony (usually in a church) followed by sit down 4 or 5 course meal. Weddings tend to cater from 100-200 guests.

    An open bar would be very rare here, but it would be expected that wine be provided at the meal (1/2 bottle per person) with another drink provided for the reception and/or the toast.

    It’s also almost unheard of for the wedding part to front the cost of their attire. The rule is basically if the bride/groom request it they should pay for it, so they’d be expected to cover the cost of bridesmaid’s dresses/hair/make-up or groomsmen’s suit hires. If the b&g don’t require a certain thing, then it’s left up to the individual to cover eg if the bride doesn’t ask the bridesmaids to have their hair a certain way, the bridesmaid would pay the hairdresser if she chose to get it done.

    1. variety

      USA – In theory the bride and groom could pay nothing. Parents of the bride would pay for all aspects of the wedding reception, bride’s dress, church flowers, etc. Groom’s parents would cover rehearsal dinner, groomsmen gifts. Bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, any person in the wedding party would pay for all expenses for clothes, hair, etc.
      In reality the bride and groom cover the expenses of what is listed above for bride and groom’s families with contributions from the family. But the wedding party is always responsible for their own costs.
      Of course everything is negotiable and depends on what the bridal couple wants, what people can afford, what some expect.

      1. TalleySueNYC

        Actually, in terms of hair and makeup, the etiquette is evolving (Martha Stewart Weddings has said this, I know) to restrict the bride a little bit; if she -expects- her attendants to have their hair, makeup, or nails done by a pro, she has to pay for it. Because normally a person could do their own just fine, so if she wants something that special, the cost is on her.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’ve been to many different types of weddings, but in my family and my social circle, we never see a cash bar. Even if drink selections are limited (a few types of wine, a signature cocktail), guests are never expected to have cash with them, though they often tip the bartenders. Our wedding parties usually pay for their own attire, but the bride and groom often cover hair and makeup. A cousin of mine had a cash bar where you even had to pay for soft drinks, and hoo boy, did that put a damper on the event. Not because anyone wanted to get rip-roaring drunk, but because it seemed rather inhospitable to make people pay several dollars for a Diet Coke at a wedding.

    3. BRR

      USA here. Traditionally it’s what variety said but it’s not uncommon to switch it up based on finances.

    4. Persephone Mulberry

      Midwest USA here…
      Cash bars are very common. I’ve never been to a wedding that did a full open bar or the drink ticket thing.
      Bridal party is expected to front all the expenses for their participation – clothes, hair/makeup, travel/lodging.
      Bride and groom buy gifts for their bridal party – a lot of times for the ‘maids it’s whatever jewelery to go with their dresses.
      Bride and groom or their parents pay for the ceremony and reception, except for liquor. For food I’ve seen a mix of buffet and served dinners (usually just salad followed by entree/sides, followed by cake).

      1. Sabrina

        I think that depends on where in the Midwest as far as cash bars go. We were at my cousin’s wedding a couple of weeks ago near Peoria, IL and they had a cash bar. However closer to Chicago, an open bar would be more expected.

      2. Juli G.

        That’s surprising. I’ve been to lots of small town Midwest weddings and only one cash bar. A few have been beer/wine only but the wedding where I pull out my wallet has been very rare (thankfully!)

    5. Sunflower

      USA – Northeast. It really just depends- mostly on the financial situation of everyone involved. If one family is wealthier, they might chose to pay for more. Some people families don’t help at all and the couple foots the bill. In the olden days, the brides family paid for everything and some people still like to do that. Some people split it evenly between families. There are lots of different arrangements and I wouldn’t say anything is the norm. The bride paying for everything is definitely less common than before.

      Wedding party covers their own expense like dress/makeup but some brides/grooms will cover some of that cost.

      Every wedding I’ve gone to is open bar. It’s usually a ceremony, followed by cocktail hour with hor d’oeuvres then sit down dinner with salad and dinner. Not having an open bar is a no-no around here- I’d say it’s the only thing people would really talk about you for not having at your wedding.

    6. VintageLydia USA

      Southern US. We have three types of drinking situations: Full open bar, wine/beer only with MAYBE a signature cocktail, but still open, or completely dry. Some people have cash bars but it’s generally considered tacky. I grew up Catholic so even church receptions at least had some wine but most of the protestant religions in the Southern US is either completely anti-alcohol or more than one or two glasses of wine is ~~scandalous~~ (at least officially. I’ve known more than one Southern Baptist who drank a lot AWAY from family but tut tutting along with everyone else on Sunday.) If the reception is at a church, assume it’s dry.

      As for who pays? Traditionally the parents of the bride and groom but more likely the bride and groom with help from their parents. Bridesmaids pay for their own dresses and alterations but hair/makeup/etc is usually paid for by the bride/bride’s parents.

      At my wedding we had a mostly open bar. We rented a venue that had no bar, got the required liquor license, and my dad, who is retired military, got all the booze duty-free on base. I still have some gin left over 6 years later, hah! We hired a friend of a friend who is a bartender and paid him about $100 more than what he’d be paid with tips on a typical Saturday (he tended at a very popular brewery so it was a LOT) and asked he not put out a tip jar because we did NOT want our guests to feel like they needed to have cash. A few tipped him anyway (which we were OK with–we just didn’t want to feel like they were OBLIGATED to with the jar.) My husband’s drunk uncle (there always is one…) gave him a couple HUNDRED dollars so he made out like a bandit that night.

      1. VintageLydia USA

        For got to add almost all the weddings I’ve been to where there is a meal are buffet style. Some sit downs, but those are generally more expensive and not as kind to people with certain dietary restrictions. For instance, we have 4 vegetarians in our family so we had one vegetarian entree with every side dish vegetarian so even if they didn’t like risotto, they could still make a full plate of food. What I didn’t realize was one of those vegetarians was actually vegan :/ I felt pretty horrible because I’m not sure I had a single vegan friendly dish.

    7. CoffeeLover

      Eastern Europe – Guests don’t pay for a thing. Open bar, multi course meal, cakes etc. It’s basically unheard of to not have an open bar. Technically, the bride’s family pays for the wedding. There are no bridesmaids or groomsmen. The family and close friends are involved in various respects, but they don’t wear coordinating outfits :P.

    8. Kat M

      Husband and I are from the northeast US, though we currently live in the Mid-Atlantic region. I can’t really say what’s common specifically for my area-simply because all of my married friends and family are from different regions, observe different faiths, have different socio-economic backgrounds, etc.

      We did a mix-we each paid, plus each side of the family contributed. My gown was a birthday gift. I paid for my salon treatments. My sister and a friend each did my hair and makeup-I made sure to have gifts for them. We had a church ceremony-only because we do observe a religion (and one different from what we each grew up with at home-so it wasn’t custom or family expectation). We had just under a hundred people total and had our reception in a restaurant. We simply told our bridal party what colors we wanted them to wear and they provided their own attire. No open bar, but we pre-ordered some wine for everyone and champagne for the toast.

      Personally, I’ve never been a fan of “wedding etiquette” just because I think it gives people an excuse to be passive aggressive and judgmental, rather than being up front and direct. I think that the couple (whether bride and groom/bride and bride/groom and groom, etc.) should certainly be gracious and kind to all of their guests and not have too many outrageous requests. But I’ve seen people use etiquette as an excuse to complain about every. single. thing. a couple chooses to do for their wedding. Then, when a couple speaks out about something they don’t like, no matter how politely, they’re always branded as “rude.” As for cash bars-some venues require them, regardless of whether or not you want alcohol. I don’t think it’s fair to judge a couple as cheap-I think that, if you truly think that way about friends and family, you should probably pass on going to the wedding.

  6. Jill of All Trades

    So Thursday I got Invisalign, and my poor mouth. The attachments and the edges of the trays are shredding me, and brushing my teeth this often may be great in the long run but my poor gums in the meantime! I filed the edges and got some relief, and there’s only another 19 weeks and 5 days to go…IF I can make myself be good and wear them constantly. However, the intense discomfort of the trays on my teeth on the first day has abated tremendously today.

    My teeth better look good after all this.

    1. Mimmy

      I would go back and tell the provider who made them for you. Sure, it takes getting used to having something in your mouth, but I wonder if he didn’t size it properly, since you say the edges of the tray are “shredding” you.

      1. Jill of All Trades

        They’re the right size, they just left the edges super sharp. I have an electric manicure tool that I used to buff the edges so they wouldn’t cut my cheeks and tongue anymore. The attachments may be next, but I don’t know if my little battery powered tool is up to it, so I may have to borrow my neighbor’s Dremel.

        Sigh…going back to the provider is my third choice. I totally should have switched when I had the chance.

        1. LD

          I had a similar situation with the “shredding” of my mouth on my first set, too. I called my provider and they advised me to use a nail file/emery board on the edges until they were comfortable. That worked although it too a few attempts over a day or so. I only had to do that for a couple of the sets. Most of them were just fine. Also, I’m very happy with my results. I am in the retainer phase now and only wearing them at night.

    2. Miki

      I got done with Invisalign last month: it’ll be worth it, I promise you! Feel free to file away the edges that bother you, buttons/attachments can be also filed (but the dentist has to do those), but they are there to help move/rotate teeth in correct direction faster. Oh, and please wear them all the time (I paid close to $4000 for them and made myself be very compliant as I thought if I weren’t that would be money down the drain) make sure the trays only cover your teeth though, not your gums. Good luck!!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      You can use dental wax– it may help, though you’ll probably have to use quite a bit. They sell it in drugstores, near the toothbrushes. It might be a dance of filing and wax for the next 19 weeks. :(

      1. Jill of All Trades

        I can’t find any orthodontal aides in the drugstores here (Atlanta). I’m amazed by it-talk about a growing population of price inelastic buyers who would rather pick something up now than order it from Amazon.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          Wow, really? I have lingual braces, and the wax has been a life saver. Can you order it from Amazon? Braces are torture without wax, at least at first. I will seriously send you some if you can’t get any.

          1. Jill of All Trades

            Thank you! I can order it all online, I’m just stunned that none of it is available in brick and mortar stores here for a quick fix (Retainer Brite, dental wax, Invisalign chewies, etc all have to be ordered).

            On another note, I am becoming a connoisseur of denture cleaners.

            1. Nina

              Co-sign on the wax. It was the only thing that provided a barrier between the hard plastic of my retainer and the inside of my cheeks. It’s available on Amazon.

    4. Kay

      I had braces for 12 years and I remember so well the shredded gums, cheeks, and pain of teeth constantly moving around. You have my sympathy.

      I suspect the answer is somewhere in between – you shouldn’t be this miserable, and should get some relief from rounding the edges, but your mouth will also align around the edges and they won’t rub/shred so badly after a while. Just have to stick through the first little while. :(

        1. Kay

          Technically it was two sets of braces, and my dentist was an a**hole, is another part of the answer. I hated every second of it. I also had to get 7 teeth pulled to make way for those braces. He was such a horrible human being that once I was free of the braces I refused to go back to the dentist for 10 years…and then when I finally went back I had to get 16 fillings and have my gums scaled. Basically, my teeth are a disaster.

          1. Jill of All Trades

            Oh, that’s awful. I’m so sorry. I can commiserate a little. When I was 23 my lovely dentist retired and his idiot son took over. This guy ruin me on dentists for 5 years and what got me to start going again was breaking a front tooth in half. My mother had started seeing a dentist near where I lived at the time and raved about him. My teeth were a huge mess and it took years to finish all the fillings, but 10 years later I still see him now that I moved over an hour away. He just doesn’t do orthodontia :(

            He’s also the only recommendation from my mother that worked out :/

          2. Hlyssande

            I completely understand.

            I had 7 teeth pulled as a kid by one of the only pediatric dentists in town…who is no longer in business at least in part because he didn’t use enough novocaine or ever wait long enough for it to work.

            I felt every single one of those teeth being pulled, and it’s why I haven’t gone to a dentist in 10+ years even though actually have dental insurance.

            Bad dentists can honestly scar a person for life.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I had mine for 2. I will never forget the first week, it was sooooooo painful. I didn’t eat solid food for almost 2 weeks. After they took them off, I couldn’t stand the retainer, it tasted so bad and nothing made it tolerable, so even though my teeth aren’t as bad as they were originally, there was some sliding back and I could use some invisaligns… but then I think about the potential of going back to all that pain and nope.

          1. Alice

            First night I had braces, what did my mom throw together for dinner? Nachos. At least that is what my memory tells me.

        2. Hlyssande

          I had mine for 4, almost all through high school. My mother found out after the fact that both my older brother and I could’ve had them for 2 each instead, but the orthodontist didn’t even bring it up because he thought it would be too expensive for us. She was furious.

          Asshole.

      1. danr

        Finally, someone who had braces as long as I did. Drove my orthodonist nuts, but my teeth just wouldn’t move.

      1. Jill of All Trades

        It is super quick. I have the express version, and some crowding issues with one sideways tooth, with an overbite. I don’t know if I’ll actually make it in that short of a time period, since I could get lazy in my discipline (being able to take them out is a double edged sword) or my teeth could refuse to move (they resisted at first as good teeth should but they seem to be coming along). But now you know what to make sure about at the Orthodontist-I evidently didn’t Google the right words until I was experiencing it.

        Oh, and they might want to reshape a tooth or two without telling you. Just, heads up about that.

    5. Rachel

      I did Invisalign a few years ago. The edges of the trays were shredding me too. I found two things helped:

      1. To have the orthodontist trim the trays /slightly/ so they weren’t right against my gumline.

      2. To carefully file the edges of the trays with one of those nail files with the many different surfaces (making sure /not/ to start with the heavier grits). It smoothed them up nicely. My teeth still hurt after the first day in a new tray, but at least my gums were better. :)

    6. Noah

      I had braces in jr. high and then lost my retainers somewhere in college. My teeth shifted over time and gaps developed so I started Invisalign. I still wear retainers every night. My first set of trays were horrible and shredded my gums but after that I guess I built up gum callouses or something. I didn’t get attachments until the third set, and was not a happy camper because the orthodontist didn’t mention them at all until that appointment. The attachments made everything way more noticeable. I’m jealous you only have 19 weeks though, mine was a full year and 26 sets of trays.

      Retainer brite worked the best to keep the trays clean for me. One brand of denture cleaner (the only thing I remember is that it was a green box) made the trays yellow. Took a long soak in hydrogen peroxide to fix that.

      Now that I only wear the retainers at night it isn’t bad at all. However, when I had to wear the trays full-time it was a pain to go out with friends. I had to either brush my teeth constantly, but not right after eating or drinking because that will brush away enamel, or just not wear them for hours and endure the pain when I put them back in. The end result was amazing, and well worth it though.

      1. skyline

        I had braces in high school, but did not wear my retainers reliably as the years went out. (I would pop them out at night while I slept.) My teeth started becoming crooked again, and oh did I feel guilty for wasting all the money my parents had spent on me! So I had a second round of braces in my early twenties, and this time I had the orthodontist put a permanent wire behind my lower front teeth, as those are the ones that want to move the most. It’s a huge pain to floss there, and I need to have cleanings slightly more often because of it, but this time my teeth have stayed mostly straight.

        For anyone who has been through braces hell, I recommend Raina Telgemeier’s graphic novel memoir, Smile. Great read!

        1. Marcela

          Can you do that?! (The permanent wire thing, I mean). I suffered my braces for 4 years but never finished the treatment because every week, the morning following to the visit to the dentist for a new alignment, I could not eat because of the pain. It was too much. I felt guilty for several years, thinking about the money my parents spent, but ultimately I decided I wasn’t going to spend all my life wearing retainers to keep my teeth straight, when the reason was most cosmetic than anything (granted that I take care of my teeth). I didn’t know there are ways to help you, besides retainers. But I don’t think I would use braces again. No. Too much pain.

          1. skyline

            It’s apparently called a “bonded retainer” if you want to Google for more info. Mine has been on for 9 years. It’s popped off twice during that time, and had to be rebonded. (I rather expect it to need repair again sometime soon; based on my past track record, I’m probably due.)

            1. Hlyssande

              I’ve had mine for…16 years now (holy crap it’s been that long?!!!!) and it’s still there. I think it did pop off once. My main complaint is that it’s a PITA to get stuck food out from under it. Poppyseeds are my bane, but so are things like apples.

      2. Stephanie

        Interesting. I’ve considered Invisalign down the line. I also had braces in junior high and high school, was lazy with the retainers (and lost them) and my teeth have shifted. They’re straight-ish now, but I’ve got a slightly crooked front tooth and a small gap between my front teeth that bother me. (I’ve pointed these out and most people say they don’t see them or that they’re super minor, but they bother me…). I haven’t wanted regular braces again because I will look like I’m about 15 with them (and the brackets caused some decalcification.

        Did any of y’all who had Invisalign have issues with decalcification?

        1. Miki

          No issues with decalcification here. Since Invisalign is not fixed to your teeth there is no chance of getting decalcification (attachments Jill mentioned are pretty much composite filling mass in the shape of a triangle and when the treatment is done it is filed down back to your normal tooth. Extra attention needed to clean teeth immediately after meals, no colored drinks while invisalign trays are in (water is only thing that’s OK)… I used to brush like 5 times a day and still kept it on for more than 21 hours. Yes, it was a miserable year, no spontaneous lunch/snacks and drinks (but that’s me), but good news is one can actually lose weight with Invisalign (I did) :)

    7. JPixel

      Late to the party on this but wanted to share two things that can help make your mouth and gums feel better. I have no experience with Invisalign but I’ve had plenty of uncomfortable dental moments.

      1 – a mouthwash called Peroxyl was a miracle product for me when I had some really bad mouth sores. It helped clean out the areas and bring down inflammation.

      2 – on the more natural end of the spectrum – rinse your mouth out with coconut oil. I don’t know how it works, but whenever I have irritated gums, they feel so much better afterwards and it’s not just temporary relief!

  7. NBF

    I listed my house for sale this week. Man is the processing nerveracking. Thank goodness I have an amazing, patient and effective realtor!

    The house has been on MLS for about 48 hrs now, and has already had 8 showings with one more later today and 2 tomorrow. No offers yet, but at least of the few who have seen it might be interested.

    Getting out of the house for lots of showings is kind of annoying with a dog, especially today because they were quite spread out (but not enough to go home in between). And it is really weird going home after people have been through and the closet is open, or the couch cushions are messed up. But more people seeing it increases the chances of getting an offer I guess.

    Fingers crossed I get a good offer soon!

      1. De Minimis

        We had the same situation, I had two dogs and we kept having to take them all over town while showings were going on…one day I think we had something like six or seven showings.

        The house was under contract in six days! I’m hoping you have the same luck we did.

    1. PlainJane

      Walking our greyhounds during showings became our exercise program when our house was on the market last year. It got tiring, but the dogs loved it.

    2. Jazzy Red

      A friend of mine came home after a showing and found the front and back doors wide open (unlocked and not even shut, and it was winter), all the lights on, and worst of all, a stove burner left on. She called the realtor and he just laughed it off.

      I hope you get a really great offer on your house soon!

  8. AnnieNonymous

    Does anyone know anything about building a Tiny House? I’m in a position to have possibly built up enough savings for one in a few years, and I’m curious as to the logistics of getting one built. What are the hidden costs (I know that buying the land is a major one)? I live in an area where beach cottages are common, so I may have an easy time when it comes to zoning. But please, just tell me anything you might know about this process.

    Also, what can you tell me about subleasing my apartment? If I go through the proper channels and ask my landlord for permission (it is mentioned in my lease as something that is theoretically allowed), would my friend be able to stay here beyond the rest of my lease? As in, could she re-sign the lease in her own name? What are the odds of the landlord not allowing me to sublease? The subletter would be a coworker of mine, so I have a good sense of her finances and job stability.

      1. AnnieNonymous

        It just seems so cool! I’m probably going to be on my own for the foreseeable future (and at this point I really don’t want to be with anyone who isn’t 100% perfect for me – just my stance on these things) and it seems like every house on the market has stuff wrong with it and there’s still a huge amount of competition for the decently priced ones. It makes perfect sense for me to just hire people to build my own cottage for me. I like the Tumbleweed Bodega. What’s you’re pick?

        1. Samantha

          I’m going to be spending a lot of time in Africa over the next 3 years. I want to learn building skills and build and design my own (with help of course).

          1. AnnieNonymous

            Have you checked out the Tumbleweed Tiny House website? You can see samples of the blueprints and at least see the basics of how they’re set up.

      2. Jazzy Red

        There are a bunch of blogs about living in a tiny house. The one I liked best was something like “life in 120 square feet”. They also have links to other blogs and also small house builders.

        I want to downsize when my dogs are gone, but I don’t want to go that small.

    1. Wildkitten

      Landlord tenant law and zoning laws differ in different cities/counties/states – but I see no reason your landlord wouldn’t allow it if its less work for her than finding a whole new tenant.

      There are lots of tiny house websites that can provide blue prints or even sell you an entire tiny house pre-made. I’d be mostly worried about hooking up to the grid – water/sewage and electricity – if you want those things.

      1. AnnieNonymous

        A major perk of getting my coworker in here is that I could probably get some of my deposit back. That was her whole issue – she can make rent, but she can’t get the deposit together. She’s said that she would throw me $100 a month until it added up to what I paid. I wouldn’t have asked her for it, and I doubt I’ll end up collecting every last cent, but it’s a very kind thing of her to offer, especially since getting her to sublease is solving a huge problem for me.

    2. Meg Murry

      Actually, zoning could still be a problem – in our town, there is a minimum square foot requirement in the zoning codes. It is possible to appeal to the zoning board, and people have succeeded, but you may want to look into it in the neighborhoods you are interested in.

      The other thing to consider is you would want to hire an excellent finish carpenter to build custom bookshelves, storage, cabinets etc to make the best use of the square footage – that won’t come cheap, but it will make the place much nicer. Read “The Not-So-Big House” for suggestions on built-ins and other little touches to make the most of a small space.

      1. AnnieNonymous

        That’s good to know! One of the reasons I want to save up all the money and pay up front is that it could help getting approvals.

      2. AnnieNonymous

        I just looked up the building codes for where I live, and the minimum square footage is 150. The house I want is about 400 square feet! I can do it!!!!

        It seems like the extra small ones might be problematic, but the cottages that are basically free-standing studio apartments are fine.

    3. Not So NewReader

      Small house: I think the next big thing after getting the land is getting it past a perk test so you can get a septic system installed. Don’t buy anything that can’t pass a perk test. You may not put the septic in right away but if you build on land that won’t pass a perk, it will not be fun.
      Then you want to figure out how to get electric to the house and how to get running water.

      After that you can start to think about your foundation- basement vs slab vs crawl space.

    4. Natalie

      Regarding your lease – most landlords, IME, go direct with the sub tenant once the master lease expires. The only reason they wouldn’t is if your sub tenant was terrible and they didn’t want to renew her, but that would be between her and the landlord.

    5. E

      Check the flood zones and requirements for your area. My husband and I just bought a manufactured home that is small (not tiny but smaller than most homes) but the biggest holdup is getting past all the flood zone permit process for the county. Today we should be finishing the last step and getting the building permit!

  9. Madeye

    My phone (Google Nexus 4) just died on me. One minute it was working fine (fully charged) and the next blank screen. Anyone else experience this?

    1. Jen RO

      Three suggestions: soft reboot (basically hold the power button for a long time, hoping something will happen), charge it (maybe it was actually dead and the battery was mistakenly displayed as full), or a hard reset (last resort, as I think it deletes all your data).

      1. Madeye

        The soft reset didn’t work the first 5 times I tried it, I charged the battery this morning and then didn’t use the phone at all, that’s how I’m sure it was full. Finally, I pressed the power button once more about 3 mins back and like magic it turned on. Hope this was a one time thing!

        1. cardiganed librarian

          My Nexus 4 has also been a bit buggy in the last little while. I wonder if it’s getting a bit old – I think these things are built to self-destruct in a few years. Nothing as bad as what you described but I’ve also always been able to reset it. I really love this phone and hope it will keep going quite a while longer!

          1. Madeye

            I love this phone too, and would like to use it for a few more years at least!! Just last week I had to do a factory reset because Chrome wouldn’t open any website and restarting the phone/clearing cache wouldn’t fix it.

        2. BobbyTwin

          Glad your phone came back on! I’ve had the same issues, happens about every 3-4 months. It comes back after some combination of: waiting, plugging in the charger, holding the power button for what seems like forever. I remember reading online some internal setting was off, it shuts itself down because it mistakenly thinks it is too hot. Hasn’t happened to me in a while.

      2. Observer

        If you phone is set up right, most of your data is backed up to your Google Account. Most other apps also do something similar, although some do make you back up manually via connection to the computer.

        1. Madeye

          I do back up my contacts, other that that I really don’t have anything else stored on my phone.

    2. BRR

      It sounds like it might be like what happened to my phone. It was power cycling and I needed a new phone.

    3. to

      My Nexus 5 is less than 2 years old and is constantly rebooting itself. Sometimes it turns off and won’t turn on like yours is. I think I do a hard reset (hold power button and volume up or down button for several seconds) and never have any problem with lost data, but I know at least some is backed up to my Google account. Still, I don’t think this is the same as a factory reset.

  10. My Friends Call Me Whiskers

    Cat people of AAM- my male cat has FLUTD and it’s flared up into bladder stones. We started him on Royal Canin SO (wet and dry) and have a week’s supply of Prazosim in addition to glucosamine chondroitin which we will administer long-term. Any other tips for keeping him happy and healthy? I keep palpating his bladder to make sure he’s not blocked but it’s a scary feeling to know he could get blocked and things could turn bad quickly. Also, I have a vacation coming up in a few months and will need to get a pet sitter. Any tips on keeping that from triggering an episode? Thanks!

      1. My Friends Call Me Whiskers

        True. I’m debating whether that would be an even bigger disruption of his routine that could trigger something, but then he would at least be under observation and they could head off a problem before it gets bad. Thanks!

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict

          You can ask if anyone at the vet’s office does pet-sitting. I know a bunch of the vet assistants at my vet’s office moonlight as pet-sitters, especially for clients with high-needs pets (ones who need regular meds or injections, or who don’t take well to being boarded, etc). That might be an idea–a vet’s assistant would also be very aware of what is or isn’t normal and could keep a closer eye than, say, a neighbour or someone.

          1. My Friends Call Me Whiskers

            Ah, awesome idea! He’s a very affectionate and handsome guy and the vet techs love him so it would definitely be nice to have someone who’s already a little familiar with him. Thanks!

    1. AcademicAnon

      Keeping him hydrated is key, and the wet food helps a lot. Also if he likes to drink out of taps or is constantly playing with his water bowl you might try a pet water fountain to see if he will drink more.

      I have a male cat that’s had a UTI and I just keep him on the SO dry food just so I can avoid another problem or progress into kidney disease. I never want to have to steam clean the entire house again.

      1. My Friends Call Me Whiskers

        Thanks! I bought a water fountain when I first adopted my other cat (a no-nonsense former street cat) and she just liked to sleep next to it but wouldn’t drink out of it (cats, man) so I got rid of it. I may have to invest in it again, but my boy is kind of lovably simple and I worry that he might play with it rather than drink from it. I might be able to borrow one to see how we reacts so I don’t have to shell out for it if he doesn’t get it. Glad to hear the SO is working for your cat and hope he stays healthy!

          1. My Friends Call Me Whiskers

            Heh, my other cat loves to stick her whole head into my water glasses. You would think her face would be to smushed to drink but she somehow makes it work!

          2. Windchime

            My cat drinks water out of a coffee cup I placed on the floor next to his dish. He loves to drink out of cups on the table, so I just filled one up and put it by his dish. I think he drinks a lot more water this way, and a little wet food at night also helps. Some cats are just prone to UTI’s and blockages (especially males).

          3. Pennalynn Lott

            When my dearly-departed cat, Fred, was in his later years (he lived to be 20) and had Chronic Kidney Disease, I poured distilled water into martini glasses for him, and left them all over the house (changed out multiple times a day). Of all the glasses, bowls, and cups I had set out for him, he greatly preferred martini glasses. I only had two at the time, so I bought more. I can now comfortably serve ten guests martinis, if, that is, I ever had anyone over. :-)

            I also bought him a fountain. He preferred running water from a tap, though, so I just left the bathroom faucet running in a thin stream 24/7. A high water bill was a small price to pay to help his kidneys function.

        1. Lindsay J

          I don’t know if it’s changed since then, but when I worked there PetSmart would take returns on anything they sold (and sometimes stuff they didn’t sell) so that might be a good place to buy from if you’re afraid it might not work out.

    2. Trixie

      I haven’t asked my vet about this but another reader mentioned giving her cat spring water which I’m now using in the water fountain. I rent and our water is hard, hard, hard so I’m thinking any kind of treated water will be better. Otherwise your’e treatment sounds similar to what my had. Keep us posted!

      1. My Friends Call Me Whiskers

        Oh, that’s interesting. I’ve had him for four years but we moved a year ago and I wonder if that was a contributing factor (not just the psychological stress of the move but also that the water is different). I’ve been drinking tap rather than from our Brita cause I’m lazy but will try using filtered water and see if that helps. Thanks!

    3. GOG11

      I have three male cats and none of them have ever had problems, though I know male cats are sometimes prone to them. Two of them drink pretty well, but my oldest is a bit odd and doesn’t like to drink water from a dish too much. Cats are desert animals and don’t have a high thirst drive because they get most of their hydration from their food, so wet food can definitely help. I feed my oldest wet food twice a day. He absolutely LOVES water from water bottles. He gets really fixated on them whenever someone drinks from a bottle (though not other liquids from bottles). I’ve read that cats don’t like water that has sat for a long time because it’s got less oxygen in it, so if you’ve got an aerator on any of your faucets, maybe try using that one when you fill his water dish.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        I was going to say that about the dry food. I took my cat off of it years ago, and he’s been so much healthier for it.

    4. ExceptionToTheRule

      Ugh. FLUTD. Things can turn very badly, very quickly. Making sure you know what your boy looks like when he starts to have trouble is the best advice I can give you. We had struggles with it this past fall and it was awful. I still am just starting to feel like we might be out of the woods.

      The thing the vet doesn’t necessarily tell you is that three blockages is the magic number. Once he’s been blocked that many times, they will insist on doing surgery. Don’t be afraid if it comes down to that. We had two choices: perineal urethrostomy or euthansia. It took about three weeks for my boy to recover. He still licks his missing bits obsessively, but he hasn’t had a blockage since the surgery.

  11. Sunflower

    Can anyone recommend lightbulbs or other devices that emit natural looking light? I only have a small window in my room. For lighting, right now I have a small chandalier with 4 bulbs that have shades – I use GE soft white soft and my lights have dimmers.

    1. Anonyby

      Look for bulbs that say “daylight”. It’s a cold light, but that’s what I’ve found that mimics daylight the best. Not everyone has them, but most stores will have at least one brand in daylight. I’m in the process of trying to switch everything over to daylight LED bulbs, one bulb at a time.

    2. Dan

      I use Phillips’ Hue product, which is a colored LED light that is controlled from your phone. You can change the color and the brightness. One of the colors is a light blue that really feels natural — I far, far prefer it to a simple white light.

    3. Noah

      I don’t personally like daylight bulbs, they look very blue and cold. However, I have found some LED bulbs at Home Depot that are called natural white. They are halfway between the yellow soft white and the blue daylight bulbs. I really like the way the looks. The other option that I like are the GE Reveal branded light bulbs. They are a much whiter light.

    4. Mallory Janis Ian

      I use the f.lux app on my computer and the Twighlight app on my android phone; they both are designed to change the lighting from cold, blue daylight quality in the daylight hours and to warm, soft twilight quality in the evening hours. I wish there was a similar solution for whole-house lighting. I guess one could since that by having one type of bulbs in the overhead fixtures and another type in all the lamps. I do use overhead lighting in the daytime and switch tho lamplight in the evening, so I think that is the same sort of effect.

  12. Stephanie

    I ran my first race this morning! It was 4.2 mi and was able to jog most of it (there was a hill* that wasn’t happening) and got a decent clip toward the end.

    Race I ran was the Pat Tillman (the NFL player who enlisted and then was killed in Afghanistan) Memorial Run. During it, I was thinking “Not that I knew the guy personally, but I got the sense he didn’t want to be turned into a patriotic symbol. Seems like this is what’s kind of happened.”

    On a related note, Jon Krakauer’s biography of him, Where Men Win Glory is pretty interesting.
    *Or what passes for a hill in a desert valley

    1. Treena Kravm

      That’s the only Krakauer I haven’t read. Would it be interesting for a non-sports fan?
      I’m really excited for his latest book, Missoula. It’s about college rape and it’s coming out right now.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule

        I’ve read it and if you like the way Krakauer writes, you’ll enjoy it. I’m looking forward to reading Missoula.

    2. Anonyby

      Oh, his brother commented angrily in one interview about all the comments the politicians were making. (I didn’t truly know him either, but I know people who knew him and was also at an event with him for said people.)

      1. Stephanie

        I remember that! But yeah, his image was all over the bibs and the event and that’s what got me thinking. I remember his family expressing dismay at his being turned into a one-dimensional hero. This is why I thought the book was so interesting: the author fleshed out a portrait that showed he was more complicated than the media portrayals.

        1. Anonyby

          I haven’t read the book yet, so many books to read! But yeah, media (especially politically-oriented media) is so bad at flattening out people.

    3. ThursdaysGeek

      In a week and a day I’ll be doing my 24th Bloomsday run. But I’m a walker, not a runner, or even a jogger. Congratulations on your successful run, and may you have many more!

      1. fposte

        Okay, I was initially thinking this was Bloomsday as in James Joyce, and I got confused both about the running and the timing. (I looked it up and found out that it’s different, so my brain is at ease again.)

        So good luck on walking your run, even if it’s not in Dublin!

    4. C Average

      Congratulations! That’s awesome.

      I”m a Krakauer fan, too. Haven’t read that book, but I’ve read all his mountaineering stuff as well as his book about fundamentalist Mormons.

      1. CrazyCatLady

        How was the one about the fundamentalist LDS? I want to read that one but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

        1. C Average

          I learned a lot and found it an enjoyable, interesting read. I’ve had a lot of Mormon friends through the years and appreciated the fact that Krakauer did a decent job of emphasizing that the folks he profiled didn’t represent the mainstream of the church and that, like all religions, Mormonism has a bleeding edge of crazy that doesn’t necessarily affect the mainliners in a significant way. I’d recommend checking it out at the library. It’s not the kind of book you’d read more than once, but it’s worth reading once.

    5. azvlr

      I was there! I didn’t see you. (Note to other readers, I don’t know Stephanie, but if you were there you’d understand why this is funny – there were 20,000+ people there.) I had a great time with an acquaintance I am now happy to call friend.

      Rock on trumpet soloist with the Star Spangled Banner!

      This is a such a great cause!

      1. Stephanie

        Yes! He was really good. I was impressed he took that last part up an octave.

        And yes, the crowds were crazy. I’m excited there was another AAMer there. I should have found some Chocolate Teapot swag to wear. :)

  13. Anon for this one today!

    Does anyone have advice for a person who did not grow up in a teasing culture, but is married to someone who did? My husband is from a country where it is the sense of humour to take the mickey out of someone. Sometimes after arguments, my husband would do this to me as a way of making amends, but it would just hurt my feelings and I just think “ouch, too soon after the argument for this, I am still feeling hurt”. I know it is done out of love; that’s not my problem. I could try to get him to stop making all jokes of this kind, forever, (he has reduced these jokes by about 90% since we met) but really, I want to find it funny too! I want to be in on the joke! It took me forever to stop beating myself up about not having a sense of humour about myself. I do have a sense of humour, it is just different from his. How can I expand my sense of humour? I laugh when he makes jokes about my big feet because they are measurably big and I don’t care, but I think the problem is in areas I am sensitive about, areas I perceive as weaknesses even though I know they aren’t, like more character stuff. Sorry I am having trouble thinking of an example.
    tl;dr: how can I laugh at myself when it comes to things I am a bit sensitive about and just not care so much about what I consider my own weaknesses?
    (In case anyone is reacting in this direction, let me just nip it in the bud: my husband’s jokes are not genuinely mean, are genuinely from a place of love, and he is in NO way passive aggressive, what you see is what you get from him)

    1. KathyGeiss

      This sounds like a self confidence challenge. I wonder if you felt more confident about those specific attributes, you’d be more comfortable with the teasing.

      I don’t have great advice on building confidence but the fake it till you make it advice has worked for me. What if you try just faking a laugh at yourself and commit to faking it for a while (week, month, whatever is reasonable). Maybe by the end you’ll be more comfortable. Or, maybe you won’t in which case I’d just ask hubby to avoid that specific topic with the teasing.

    2. BRR

      Can you let him know what is permissible to make fun of and what is not? I’m a teaser and self depreciator but my husband knows what is off limits.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        Yes, this is exactly what I was going to say. I don’t know how this would work, but could you maybe start by getting him to not tease you about stuff you’re sensitive about while you work on not minding being teased about other stuff? My sister and best friend and I tease each other a lot. But we never ever tease each other about stuff the other person is actually sensitive about. But that requires the person to pay attention to what the other person is sensitive about (and the teasee to be open and honest about that).

      2. catsAreCool

        “Can you let him know what is permissible to make fun of and what is not?” Yes, this!

    3. Not So NewReader

      Not sure why you have to be able to laugh at yourself, if the jokes are benign. To me a benign joke is something waaay over there and does not involve me in any way, shape or form.

      But yeah, I have a friend that jokes too soon after discussing a serious matter. It’s not even an argument, it is just a convo about a serious topic. It’s unsettling to me because it feels – I dunno- disrespectful to the sensitive topic? Granted it’s a lot different with a friend than a spouse, so there is that, too. I am hoping that I just kind of get used to it. The other time I have seen this is in rough work places. The rule of thumb was you don’t cry, you crack jokes instead. In that case, when I saw a stream of jokes regarding a difficult situation, I told myself “this is what their version of crying or being angry.” Oddly, it did cause some bonding, because everyone knew after the crisis came the jokes. It was our pattern. It could be that the use of jokes is his way of saying “okay, that is behind us and we are back to normal now. We are good here.” He is re-establishing the bond you two have.

    4. Anon for this one today!

      Thanks, everybody. I need to get over my enormous embarrassment at having to say that I don’t want him to make jokes about me being bad at stuff. I know he makes jokes about me being bad at stuff because he thinks I am good at everything. You are all right, of course, that better communication is the key!

      1. pinky

        I don’t think you have to put up with it – my husband will tease me, and I tell him I don’t like it. I has reduced in recent years. I just really don’t like it, and I don’t have a sense of humor like that!!! Just be frank, and tell him it hurts you!

      2. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, I don’t like jokes about being bad at stuff, either. Can you make some jokes about it yourself so that it kind of stings less? I don’t mind if someone sincerely explains what I did wrong and how to do it right the next time. But joking about does catch me sometimes.

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          I’m really bad at mental math. And singing. And I have no problem whatsoever with Boyfriend (or anyone) teasing me about those things. I know I’m bad at them, and I’m OK with it. I don’t need to be good at mental math when my phone has a calculator, and I don’t sing in front of people (other than a few lines if I’m trying to tell someone about a song I heard). And they’re free to laugh at me all they want because I’m just going to agree with them. It’d be like laughing at me because I have brown eyes. Ayup, I sure do. If you can make a joke out of that, knock yourself out.

          I think as long as the jokes don’t come from a mean-spirited place, then it comes down to having enough confidence in yourself to be OK with the fact that you literally cannot be perfect in every single aspect of life. Everyone is bad at something. Multiple somethings. Being OK with that can give people who respect you a safe space to tease you. And gentle, non-mean-spirited teasing can be a form of bonding. I know I feel closer to my friends who are OK with teasing me (and being teased in return) than I do with my friends who are put off by it.

          [My mom is one of those people who hates being teased. She takes any kind of teasing very, very personally. Even little things like the following: She hates ketchup. Will beg me to leave it off at least part of any meatloaf I make so that she can eat some of it. Will return burgers to kitchens if accidentally served with ketchup on them. But one night we’re at a very expensive steak place and one of the appetizers is this monster plate of gourmet onion rings. It is served with a red sauce in a pewter gravy boat. My mom pours some of the sauce onto her onion ring and exclaims how wonderful the “delicate, lightly-spiced red sauce” is. I say, “Mom, it’s ketchup.” She refuses to believe me, because she *hates* ketchup and therefore this lovely red sauce couldn’t possibly be ketchup. So I flag down our waiter who confirms that not only is it ketchup, but it is actually Heinz ketchup poured straight from a commercial-sized bottle into the little pewter gravy boat. – – – and I am Not. Allowed. To. Tease. Her. About. This. – – – It should be an epic family tale, told and re-told every time we all get together. But, no. She will get hurt (and then, therefore, angry) if I bring it up. Even if I’ve made burgers and ask with a twinkle in my eye and a smile on my lips, “Would you like some delicate, lightly-spiced red sauce with that?” she gets hurt and mad. She has this idea that she must look perfect at all times, and pointing out that one instance when she wasn’t perfect is like a death wound to her. Which is a shame, because the Ketchup Incident is epically funny.]

          1. Not So NewReader

            When people are really rigid or stubborn about something, they leave themselves wide open for teasing if they change course on their thinking.

    5. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      We went through this a lot. I don’t remember when it got mostly resolved but it wasn’t in the first year or even first five years of being together.

      If I had a dollar for every time I said:

      “If it’s not funny to me, it’s not funny.”

      We’d be well off.

      Both people have to laugh for it to be a joke!

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        p.s. Now that I think about it, the changes might have been 50/50. I’ve gotten very good at the family black humor.

        What I didn’t do was stuff things that hurt me. But it’s probably true that I genuinely laugh at things that in the early years I might not have.

    6. Alma

      Perhaps have a word or phrase you can say so that he knows he’s cut too close to the quick? Maybe, “ouch!” or “let’s talk about my big feet” or the like.

  14. ThatGirl

    You guys, my grandpa is dying.

    His 90th birthday would have been this coming August. My family is small and fractured, so there won’t be a funeral. My mom and grandma are with him, and I am halfway across the country and I so wish I can be there, but they say he doesn’t know what is going on and wouldn’t know that I was even there.

    When I was little, I used to spend most of my time with my grandparents, living at their house over the summer. He was never warm and affectionate, but he really liked me.

    1. Kay

      I’m so sorry. That’s so hard. I was incredibly close to my grandparents, and I lost them both within a few weeks of each other several years ago.

      I wrote a lot of notes and cards to them while they were sick. That helped me a lot and I know they appreciated it. I called my grandmother once or twice right before the end and while she was kind of out of it she was clearly happy to hear my voice. It was hard for me, but I’m glad I did it.

      You are in my thoughts.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m really sorry. My grandfather is the same age as yours, and we’re very close. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to want to be there when you’re unable to be there.

      If it helps, write a letter. Or write what you would say at his funeral, even if that event never occurs. Don’t send it, but get your thoughts about him on paper. It might give you some release. :(

    3. Dan

      That sucks. My grandparents passed away at various points in my 20’s, and I got to see them go downhill from the sidelines. (I was 600 miles away by that point.)

      I used to think my grandparents were invincible (they traveled to Spain every year well into their 70’s) and it sucked when I found out they weren’t.

    4. blackcat

      My grandfather died in January at 93. One set of my grandparents passed when I was very young, and I didn’t used to be close to my grandmother–she used to be a heavy evangelizer, which strained her relationship with my mom (her DIL), and therefore me and my brother. But my grand father was always above that fray, and he was the one family member who I felt like always loved me as the person I was, rather than the person he wanted me to be (high achieving parents=huge pressure as a kid).

      It’s been really rough, but the upside is that I’ve become much closer to my grandmother. I call her weekly now, as opposed to once a month. Our pain brought us closer together. I’m glad we’ve become closer, since she’s the grandparent I have left. When I visited, I spent a long time going through pictures, which made me cry, but I’m so happy I have them all in one place now (and online, shared with all my family members).

      It will get better, but for now, let yourself morn. Cry if you need to. Exercise extra if it helps. Eat whatever you want. Take care of yourself.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Aww, I am so sorry. Maybe you can make more phone calls and keep in touch that way with your mom and grandma. I know it’s not the best method, but I think it does help in small ways.
      I kept in touch by phone when a dear family member was very ill. Just sheer happenstance, I called at the moment of her passing. My other family members said it was a sign that I was there in spirit/thought. (They were sitting with the ill family member.) I really appreciated that they said that. And it made me realize how important a phone call can be.

    6. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I’m very sorry. That is so hard.

      I know it hurts, but you have wonderful memories to look back on. I’m only 26 and I’ve lost all my grandparents–and the ones I did have I was never close to (Alzheimer’s, early death), and I so desperately wish I had been able to know them in a real way and spend quality time with them. I would give anything to have had at least a little time with them.

      I’m so sorry.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I’m almost 30 and have never had grandparents, my last grandparent died when I was 1 or 2.

    7. Alma

      At the very least, call for him, and ask that they hold the phone to his ear. Hearing is the last sense to go – and I have seen a patient at the point of death mouth the words “I love you” to a grandchild who phoned in to speak to him, and drift on to his next life in four or five minutes following the call. It will help you find closure as well – you will have said what you needed to say to him. May you find comfort and peace – this is a difficult time of change for you.

      1. anon in the uk

        I have spent today at the funeral of my last greataunt, aged 102. It really is the end of an era.

  15. Sunflower

    My sister’s wedding is next week and I’m the MOH. I haven’t posted about it because I have other things going on but I’ve been progressively getting more and more frustrated. This wedding is costing upwards of 80 grand and the high cost is only building up stress. The engagement was long and I have been caught in the middle of fights between my sister and my mother(who I already have problems with). I have tried to stay out of those convos but since talking about work or my lack of relationships only makes me more frustrated, it’s been the popular topic between my family and I.

    In the past couple weeks, I have spent almost all my free time doing stuff for this wedding- things that should have been spread out over the past couple months but she has chosen for who knows what reason to condense into the last couple weeks. I was especially frustrated when I took time out of my work day to show up to her makeup trial, which she begged me to go to, and she had done no research on what she wanted and wouldn’t give her opinion to the artist. I was so livid I almost walked out.

    I just feel like she has no concept of how other people live. Her wedding is not my life. I have to watch every penny I spend. I know I’m at the point where I need to just breathe and get through it but it’s just so difficult to do it without lashing out. I’m at a crossroads in my life, trying to make big decisions and barely scraping by financially so it’s really difficult for me to give a shit whether there are 11 or 12 seats at a table. I am also telling myself that there is only one more week of this but I know once the wedding ends, the talk about it will not. Just looking for advice how to get through this and how to separate from 100% wedding talk once the wedding ends.

    1. Stephanie

      I’m sorry, I had trouble reading past “this wedding is costing upwards of 80 grand.”

      ?!?!?!?!?!

      It will be over soon. Just keep telling yourself that.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Me three (for the money and the repeating it’s going to end soon over & over)

      2. Dan

        Yeah, when I read that, it basically came across as the prelude to a whole host of problems. I’m not sure how that much money can be spent and not have any drama associated with it.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          If you were better at being a Gold Digger, that cost would seem reasonable to you! :-)

    2. Kay

      Weddings are the actual worst. They make people into terrible human beings, they cost 20x more than they should, and society indulges and caters to people who go off the deep end treat everyone terribly.

      I’m getting married in five months and I want it to be over with already. Right now, my mother is in a tizzy because I refuse to care that some of my cousins have not yet reserved their hotel rooms and what if the block sells out and who knows where they will stay oh my GOD you need to call them and remind them! My position of “they are responsible adults who have all the information they need and also Google” is not making a dent.

      I’m sorry your sister is letting this go to her head. If you think she’ll take it ok – slash you think your relationship will take it – saying kindly but matter of factly to her that you need to back off and be involved with events that would be the most meaningful to her might save your sanity.

      1. Not So NewReader

        This. All of this.

        The two go hand-in-hand if you spend 80k on a wedding, you are putting yourself in a pressure cooker that could cause you to burst at some point.

        Shorter version: She caused this to happen.

        There is a difference between being in a wedding and being an indentured servant. Tell her not to go into event planning it’s just not her gig. Okay, seriously, I would tell her at some point that I did the MOH thing for her but the next big event in her life she needs to pick someone else as the key person. It can’t be me.

        It’s one more week, you made it through the longest part of the trek. Maybe you could quietly take a personal day off from work and not let anyone know you are home. Then stay home and take some down time from it all. Yes, hide in your own home. Just to give yourself a break from all the chaos.

        Keep reminding yourself that her own choices are what is causing her own misery. It’s her misery to bear, not yours. You don’t have to carry her emotions for her.

        1. LD

          Taking a day off and a break is a great idea. It might be good to consider doing that the day after to decompress from the drama. Something to look forward to!

        2. Sunflower

          That’s a great idea. I thought I’d have to take the Friday before the wedding off but I think I will try to work from home instead. She was not happy when I said I was going to work a half day in the office.

          If I can get that approved, I think I’ll take the Monday after the weekend off. And still not tell anyone!!

      2. blackcat

        I’ve been to a wedding that was in to the 100-200k range, I think. The dress alone was probably the cost of my car, but one their major line items was renting a bunch of villas for all of the not-rich guests to stay in. They put up ~40ish people for 4 nights, which costs $$.

        But the bride’s family had the money, and apparently it was pretty low stress for all involved, because they hired the type of wedding planner who you probably pay like 20k. She was clearly AMAZING at her job.

        So if someone’s wealthy, spending what seems like a huge amount of money isn’t necessarily a problematic thing or a sign of problems to come.

    3. Christy

      It sounds like you’re located in the same place as your sister, and I’m guessing as the wedding too.

      Do you get to go home every night? I know you said money is tight for you, but can you come up with some day-end ritual that will help you put the wedding crap behind you? Maybe a piece of really nice chocolate to savor or a glass of wine?

      I leave on Tuesday for my bff’s wedding in another state. It’s gonna be hella stressful because of some of the personalities involved. (It’s also way expensive in a way I can’t imagine for myself.) My plan is to get through the days, and come back to the hotel room every night and kiss my girlfriend and plan our imaginary elopement. It’s my way of making clear to myself that this is not my life, it’s someone else’s, and my choices will be different.

      Oh, and I’m planning on working out regularly (for the endorphins and solo time) and totally not tracking what I eat (I just started Weight Watchers), both as ways to be kind to myself.

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          Five years of college, including books and incidentals, at my local [highly regarded] state university.

      1. Christy

        Hey, we can all make different choices on how we spend our money. Maybe the groom’s parents are millionaires and have the money just lying around. Maybe the bride chose a higher paying job over a more fulfilling job and she’s been saving for a decade. Maybe they prioritize getting the entire family together over buying a house.

        I just think these money judgment comments aren’t fair. Just because it’s not ghe choice you’d make doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice for that person.

        1. nep

          Hmmm. Not judging. Just shaking my head — not in dismay, just a reaction according to my reality. Of course, everything’s relative and everyone has his/her choices of how to spend money.

          1. Expendable Redshirt

            I’m not thinking it’s a “wrong choice” to make exactly. I’m just astounded such a price tag can be attached to an event. In my world, that’s a crap-ton of money!

          2. Not So NewReader

            I am reacting to 80k and still not happy. Not seeing the attitude of gratitude going on here. I think she forgot that not everyone gets an 80k wedding. And she forgot that if someone agrees to be in your wedding they are doing you a biggg favor.

        2. Sunflower

          I will say that my sister and her fiance both have really good jobs and have been saving for a long time for this. My parents are not happy about the price and said from the start ‘This is how much we can give you and that’s it’. They’ve pretty much stuck to that but they are having a hard time stomaching the cost also. My sister is 30 and makes almost the same amount of money as my mom who is near retirement so I think it’s just a shock to her.

          Maybe it’s just my area but I have a couple friends who have spent more than 100k…

          1. nep

            100k. That is mind-blowing. Even if one does have the means — I think about investing an amount like that vs putting it into a one-off event. I’ve also known a couple people who have spent quite a bit. For some I suppose it’s a status thing too. To each his own.

  16. Kay

    I am going through a time in my life in which I need to start making really difficult decisions about what I can and cannot do.

    I am a YES person; I live to work hard and be useful and helpful. I’m good at a lot of things that people find helpful. I work in nonprofits, so I already have a public service motivation in my brain.

    But I need to find a way to be okay with saying NO, or not volunteering in the first place, and to focus on a smaller number of things and do them better. I’m dropping a lot of balls and I HATE THAT. But at the same time it’s been hard for me to see things that I could do, and do well, and would be appreciated, and then ignore them. On the other other hand, I have a couple of big life projects that I want to tackle and do well on, and they keep getting shoved to the background or vanishing.

    Can anyone offer scripts for my brain? thought processes to run myself through when I see a tempting opportunity? advice for how to carve out space and time for more deep, thoughtful work rather than just more work?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Ask yourself, “Do I want to spend time on this more than I want to spend time on X?” It’s going to be a trade-off, after all; taking on new project X means that you’re not going to do something else with that time (your own projects, vegging out on the couch, or whatever it might be). The idea is to get really clear on the fact that new commitments always involve trade-offs, rather than seeing your time as an endlessly expandable resource.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Not only the time tradeoff, but ask yourself if you want to say YES because you need that immediate feel-good “I’ve made this person happy!” and then ask yourself if it’s more important to make someone else happy instead of yourself. And if it is, why is that? If you’ve been brought up to be helpful, you may not realise the motivation you have when your reflex is to just say yes.

        You might also want to ask yourself if these people who always come to you for help, do they help you when you need it? It’s like the story of The Little Red Hen, in a way.

        1. catsAreCool

          Also remember that if you say yes but don’t have time to do it, you really won’t make the person happy.

          1. Pennalynn Lott

            Exactly. Saying “yes” might make the person happy right now, but what about in the future when you’re unable to fulfill your promises? How will they feel then? How will you? Then take whatever insight you gain from asking those questions and try to keep it front-and-center the next time someone asks you to take something on.

            I had the same problem, and what finally broke me of the “Yes, I can!” habit was asking myself, “How am I going to feel when I have to apologize to this person for letting them down when they were counting on me for something important?” Instead of imaging all the ways I was going to be a superhero, I had to force myself to imagine all the ways I was going to hurt people (and myself), because that’s what my reality had become. I was able to pare a ton of stuff down to only the things I could comfortably do that I wanted to do.

    2. Buu

      In a personal and not professional context, I’ve found that you don’t always need to give a final response, people will often forget or not follow up. The key is not to say you will but that you’ll get back to them if you can, then just let it go. Learning that I don’t have to deal with every possible problem/request is actually kind of liberating. I’d never leave a friend in danger or ignore something important, but I also don’t have to volunteer to do a load of free work for their blog either.

      Set a small goal for yourself that comes before all others, if you haven’t reached that goal, don’t take on unnecessary side projects.

      1. Kay

        Thank you, that is an excellent idea – not taking on anything else until I’ve accomplished a goal I set for myself. I am going to work hard to wrap up a few things in May and not add anything new, especially since we are a buying a house that will need work.

        I’ve used the “will get back if I can” tactic in the past and sometimes it works for me…I think I need to learn how to say a flat “no thank you” as well.

    3. TalleySueNYC

      Another thing to think of: If you step in and do things only because you can, you will prevent other people from seeing the need and stepping up.

      Sometimes the vacuum needs to be really strong to pull people into that task/project/whatever.

      Also: If nobody else is doing it? Maybe it doesn’t -really- need to be done. Because if it were truly crucial, if the other people really cared, they’d do it.

    4. C Average

      I was in this spot a few years back and made a new year’s resolution one year to say no to all invitations and requests, and to be proactive about making plans or issuing invitations if I felt so inclined. It was an amazing year! It was a revelation to know that I could be in charge of my own time. And, because it was a promise I’d made to myself, I felt no guilt about saying no and not making any excuses about it. (A key learning: when you deliver an assertive “no,” people don’t tend to ask questions or push back. I’d expected to have to defend my “no” way more often than turned out to be the case.)

      Although I now occasionally say maybe, I almost never say yes, and I still find myself declining a lot of invitations and requests. I like owning my own time and allocating it the way I like. I also like staking out and defending free time to just do nothing. There are people who don’t understand why I do that, but for my own mental well-being and happiness, some screwing-around time is crucial.

    5. TalleySueNYC

      Also, schedule that time in advance!
      Get out your calendar, write in some slots for your projects. Then, you have “a previous commitment,” which is unassailable in the eyes of Etiquette. And train yourself to always, always say, “I have to look at my calendar before I can even begin to consider it.” And your calendar will tell you, no, you don’t have time.

      1. LisaS

        *runs off to follow this advice*
        I am finding I need to be a lot stricter with myself – my bad habit is to take on new things when I’m not quite done with the old ones but have gotten bored or frustrated with them. It’s yet another manifestation of the Shiny Object Syndrome I wish I’d learned to manage when I was younger!

        But this calendar thing is genius – just being able to say “I’d love to but I just can’t right now, previous commitment” is a great idea…having said commitment in print, so to speak, makes it real in a way the mental to-do list doesn’t.

    6. Alma

      Your Perfect Right by Alberti and Emmons is a great book – I read it in my early 20’s and I see it has been updated many times over the past “few” years.

  17. Oh Anon

    Okay, I need some advice from the hive. Apologies in advance if I’m a little rambly. I’ve always been extremely close with my grandmother & since moving away, I used to try & call once a week or at least once every couple of weeks. Unfortunately, my parents live with my grandmother. I am not on speaking terms with them and I do not want to speak with them, at all. Previously, my grandmother would ask if I wanted to speak to them and I would respond with some variation of “No, I called to speak with you.” This had been working until recently. Now the last two times I’ve spoke with her, she will set the phone down, mid-conversation, and go get my parents and put them on the phone. I’ve engaged in pleasantries the last two times, I didn’t want to upset her, she’s old & has enough to deal with in that household, but I need to shut this down. I know my grandmother is trying to do what she thinks is the right thing, she’s in her late 90’s and just wants everyone to “not be mad at each other,” but the thing is, she’s not helping. I stopped speaking to them as a last resort – they are just awful people and don’t know how to treat anyone with decency or even common courtesy. Help! What the heck can I say or do to get her to stop this?

    1. Buu

      Next time she’s on the phone I would re-iterate the ” No I phoned to speak to you, I will not speak to them putting them on the phone will start an argument. I will need to leave if you put the phone down” then stick to your guns and put the phone down if she goes to get them.
      I’m really sorry you and she are in this situation, but she can’t magic away problems and you are allowed to feel.

      1. snuck

        I’d agree with this… just remind her it’s her you are ringing to talk to, and then hang up if she keeps wandering off to get the people you don’t want to talk to.

        Is it at all possible to mollify your parents and grandmother… find a middle ground? I’m not saying you should, but sometimes there’s room for small concessions. A 90yr old grandmother has seen a lot of the world and has also lifelong regrets and thoughts – what does she say about all this?

        Alternatively you could resort to less immediate contact – write her a letter or card every week – it’s not the same as a phone call, but it could be a fall back position. For older generations this is far more intimate than those of us who only ever grew up with bills in the post.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Unfortunately, hanging up is your only option. So long as you’ve stated to her that that is going to be the consequence if she decides that everyone should just talk it out on the phone, then she knows what’s going to happen. But, you’ll have to take it one step further, which you are not going to like, if she doesn’t stop it. If you call her and say something along the lines of “Gamma, please do not get Ma and Pa on the phone. I know you want us all to get along, but that is not possible and you cannot make it happen. So I need you to understand that I love you, and I call to talk to you but if you go and get Ma, I will hang up. If you keep doing this when I call, I will stop calling and that would make me sad and I don’t want that but you need to respect my wishes on this, please because you are important to me.” I don’t know what the various work schedules are like but you might want to try calling at a time when your parents would most likely be out, if that’s possible, like they’re at work or you know that they have an activity they do every week. Gamma can’t get someone who isn’t there.

          I also suggest that you might get some benefit from raised by narcissists on Reddit — they may be able to give you some suggestions — and a book which has helped me a lot If You Had Controlling Parents.

          I would also caution you that if you do decide to go the letters route, it goes without saying that they will be read by your parents, and they may find out information about you that you don’t want, such as your current address. Either Gamma is going to show them, Ma n’ Pa will see them in the mailbox/on a table and take them or just read them/put them back if they’re already opened. If your Gamma is sent to an assisted living centre/senior’s residence/nursing home, it will be somewhat easier to communicate with her. But, even if it’s her house, she’s kind of in the “child” role now to your parents and that means she might have no choice about some things. This getting your parents thing, it may not be just her idea, they may have put her up to that.

          1. Oh Anon

            I’m going to respond to everyone in this post (I posted too soon earlier), so I apologize if it gets terribly long. I want you all to know that I really appreciate all of you responding! The whole situation is a pain. My grandma is hard of hearing too, so refuses to answer the phone; so it’s a crapshoot of whether it will be my parents or two other family members that live there that answer. I have no problem being civil to ask to speak with my grandma, but that’s really as far as I’m willing to go. I do not want to engage, so I definitely agree with everyone, I think I’m just going to have to have a difficult conversation with granny and she may get upset & I’m just going to have to deal with that, if she does. Hopefully, she’ll understand. If she continues after that, I will definitely just hang up – I’ve done this previously, but if I call back soon thereafter, I usually have a parent screaming obscenities at me, so I just hung up and called back several days later. When I called back after that, granny, acted as if she was extremely worried about me because “she didn’t know what happened” (She really doesn’t understand how cell phones work – she hasn’t ever been able to see one) and even though I explained, it doesn’t really stick. Dynamic Beige, you are correct, they would definitely see any letters, as they would probably be the people to read them to her. I have no doubt they would have asked her to do this and she just wants to keep the peace – she’s old & doesn’t want anyone mad at her, which is causing problems else where too. I have checked out raised by narcissists before – a lot of the advice is spot on, so thanks for that reminder. jhhj, I’m sure it is setting them off, but talking to them about their actions got no where, so I had no choice if I didn’t want to deal with their toxicity. I tried for years and years to maintain relationships with them & finally gave up. Dan, I’m sorry it’s that way with your mom, at least your mom is quiet and lets you speak with your dad. Every time I would speak to one of them, the other would have diarrhea of the mouth in the background – basically talking trash about the parent I was on the phone with or myself. Thanks again, everyone!

            1. jhhj

              What I was trying to say is, your phoning to speak to your grandmother but refusing to speak to your parents might be setting them off on your grandmother. I’m not judging you for cutting them off — sometimes it’s the right decision, and I’m sure you thought about it — but as she lives with them, she might have little choice but to pass the phone on, so it’s either speak to everyone or not speak to your grandmother at all.

        2. Oh Anon

          There’s no middle ground. My parents are toxic – the kind of people that will take a mile if you give them an inch. I would write, but unfortunately, grandmother cannot see well enough to read or write back; otherwise, I would go with that option.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            grandmother cannot see well enough to read or write back

            Do you have any friends in the area? I was thinking that if you wanted to send her a letter, but didn’t want your parents to know your current address, you could see if a friend would accept it then take the unaddressed letter over. The passive aggressive side of me thinks that sending a long heartfelt letter about why you and your parents will never see eye to eye would be an excellent way to get your point across without them shouting over you, especially if they had to read it to her. But, if they are true blue dyed in the wool narcissists, nothing is ever going to work… because they are NEVER wrong.

            But the problem is that you want to talk with her, not at her, so even sending videos of yourself, or audio recordings, it would be one-sided. It sucks that these kind of sacrifices have to be made when you need to save yourself. Your Gamma doesn’t deserve to lose you simply because her son/daughter is an asshole. I’m sorry that this is happening to you :(

    2. jhhj

      Is it possible that your conversations with your grandmother are setting your parents off because you won’t speak to them?

    3. Dan

      I can empathize. My mom and dad are still married and cohabitate, but actually trying to have a conversation with mom is just maddening. My dad and I, OTOH, communicate very well, we talk for over an hour once a week. She’ll sit in the background and say nothing.

      If I call my mom on her birthday or mother’s day, it’s really cursory and lasts less than 5 minutes. In person is no different. At least dad doesn’t try and force a conversation between me and mom.

    4. TalleySueNYC

      When she puts your parents on the phone, hang up.

      Or, gently explain to her that right now you’re taking a break from your parents (if you say “never again,” it might be harder for her), and that it will help things mend if she doesn’t do this. “Leave well enough alone, Grandma.” And “It won’t get better if you pick at it.”

      Otherwise, don’t explain your boundaries. Just live them. Hang up. Call Grandma later.

      And, I second the idea of sending mail to Grandma. It might not fuel and nourish -you-, since you don’t get to hear Grandma’s voice. But days are probably pretty boring for her, and getting a letter every couple of days might be nice. It doesn’t have to be long–four sentences–especially if they come frequently.
      Of course, the down side of mail is that she absolutely will show it to your parents.

      1. TalleySueNYC

        actually, hang up when she puts the phone down. She’s done, right? So if there’s a very big pause, you just assume she’s done and hang up. Before your mom or dad shows up on the other end of the phone.
        You don’t actually need Grandma’s permission to hang up.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      I think the only thing that will work will be to hang up in those cases. Eventually your parents will probably refuse to come to the phone when your grandmother tells them to pick up. The only thing that will stop her from trying will probably be a consistent refusal to play along.

      1. TalleySueNYC

        Especially will they stop picking up the phone if every time they do, you aren’t even there. So hang up the moment Grandma seems to leave the convo to go get them.

  18. chai tea

    For those of you who are writers in your free time (not as your full-time job), how do you get past feelings of inadequacy, especially once you’re not 22 anymore? I love to write, but I look at people who are much younger than I am that have already written books or started successful blogs or literary magazines and I feel like I’ll never get to that point. Any advice?

    1. Cath in Canada

      I like to imagine that such people were born into wealthy families and don’t need a day job and have a cleaner and a gardener and a personal chef. Of course I haven’t matched their achievements, I have laundry to do!

      (I’m taking a break from drafting something new right now, while my laundry’s in the machine and my Roomba is trekking back and forth across the room. But I do have to clean the bathroom sometime today. I don’t have a robot to help with that yet).

      This is probably not actually true, but it helps.

      We are all our own worst critics. Practice, practice, practice. It won’t make you perfect, but it’ll help :)

    2. Just Do It

      So yeah, that. It doesn’t have to be award winning or successful. You just need to do it. As Anne Lamott said, “bird by bird”.

      1. nep

        Oh how wonderful — another mention of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird — what a lovely, lovely book.
        chai tea: I reckon it’s a pretty common feeling, and good on ya for putting this out there.
        When you really look into this sense of inadequacy, where does it stem from? What does it matter to you and the development of your writing what anyone else is doing or has done? Not at all.
        Slay the ego. Honour the writing. Write.

    3. Felicia

      Easier said than done, but i just stopped thinking so much about it. Participating in NaNoWriMo really helped, since i started to carry around that attitude the rest of the year, where it’s really about the action of writing and getting those words down. And once I get started and really get into it, I remembered how happy writing makes me. So maybe something like that? Not NaNoWriMo level, but give yourself a word goal and decide that is what matters?

    4. Anonymous Educator

      J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book came out when she was 32. Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird was published when she was 34.

      Laura Ingalls Wilder wasn’t published until she was in her sixties. Frank McCourt, same deal.

      It’s never too late.

    5. VintageLydia USA

      I JUST saw a thing about this issue on tumblr. It was about comics but applies to anyone in any creative field. Give me a few and I’ll link it in a reply.

  19. Crappycred

    Anonymous for this discussion!

    Okay, so I’m a relatively recent graduate, and I am finaallly easing my way into fulltime salaried positions. Unfortunately thanks to loans, supporting myself through college, and of course general underemployment, keeping my credit in check has snowballed in the past 2-3 years and I don’t know where to begin fixing it.

    For example, I find conflicting advice to just fix it myself versus hiring a counselor to do so. I’d honestly be okay with paying a service to get it fixed – it doesn’t have to be super-fast, but just to start getting things turned around. With working fulltime and usually more, it’s just too much and overwhelming for me to deal with completely on my own.

    So my question is: what would you recommend? Have you been in a situation like this? What was your story? My situation is serious, at least to me. I’m asking around with other friends who work in finances and am just kind of casually surveying to see what they each recommend, their own stories, and why. It just sucks because for the most part while I was in school I was able to stay on top of everything but during senior year it just all fell apart and I’ve never been able to catch up after graduating.

    FWIW, I am a California resident. I’ve heard a lot about non-profit credit counselors, for-profit services, and other things in between, but I feel really alone in this and really don’t know where to start. I’m not making even my real market rate, but enough to get my affairs in order, so I’ve thought about hiring a financial planner/advisor to get retirement and other savings started and still get my debts under control.

    Thanks! This seems to be a weird place to seek this kind of advice, but at the same time, I like that I’m completely anonymous.

    1. Soupspoon McGee

      There’s a huge difference between credit counselors and financial planners. You should not have to pay a credit counselor–there are too many scammers out there. You can do this on your own by contacting each creditor to arrange a payment plan.

      Before you do that, make a spreadsheet of everyone you owe, how much you owe (total), how long the terms are, and how much they currently require each month. That will help you understand what you can afford.

      Make yourself a budget spreadsheet with a cushion as well, so you know, down to every expense (drycleaning, coffee, bus fare, groceries, cat food, etc.), how much you spend each month. My master budget has columns for each month and rows for each expense category (mortgage, car payment, student loans, credit cards, phone, utilities, car fuel, car maintenance, car insurance, vet bills, health insurance, medical, groceries, clothing/accessories, personal care, dining out, entertainment, charity, retirement, and savings). That total is subtracted from income and savings.

      You can use that budget to think about how much you can afford to pay down debt. There are two schools of thought about whether you should pay the highest-interest debt first or the smallest debt, so you get it out of your mind. I’ve done both (clear the $80 dentist bill so I can focus on the high-interest credit card with the higher balance).

      Anyway, contact your creditors. Tell them you can afford $x per month over y months, and stick to it. Contact them if something comes up and you need to modify the plan. Negotiate with them so it doesn’t ding your credit (but it will if you completely miss a payment by 60 or 90 days).

      Financial planners can be hugely helpful with long term goals, especially the ones you pay. Those who earn commission on selling you products are more likely to steer you toward their products, whether or not that’s in your best interest.

      If I need to procrastinate more today, I will make a google.docs budget template and post a link here.

      1. danr

        The big trap to avoid is to only pay interest. You need to pay enough each month to get the principal down, even if it’s only by five or ten dollars each time.
        You’ll also want to have a second sheet for your spreadsheet. On top, list the credit cards and the full balance that you’re carrying. Underneath, put in your bank account (s) and show their monthly balances. Once you get used to it, you can watch the credit card balances go down, while the bank account balances go up. I did this years ago to get out of debt, and it worked.

    2. Treena Kravm

      I’m sort of confused as to what the problem actually is. Is your credit score lower than you’d like? Or is it just the issue of lowering/eliminating your debt? Is it credit card debt, student loans, etc.?I’m assuming you’re making enough to pay the minimum payments on all of your debt, because you say you have enough to get your affairs in order. Is it about deciding how to prioritize debt vs. savings/retirement? All of these factors will make a big difference in any suggestions. Do you have nothing so far for retirement? Does your employer offer a retirement plan?

    3. BRR

      I’m going to guess you probably don’t need a counselor. I can’t really give advice without knowin your issue. Some extra information and I bet you’ll get some great advice.

    4. Dan

      I’ll try to keep this short.

      BTDT, trashed my credit in my early 20’s, partly through ignorance, partly through a job loss.

      The truth is, the only real way to “fix” your credit is to start making your payments on time, and don’t max out your credit cards. Do that long enough and your credit will recover, bad stuff has to be removed within seven years.

      Are you carrying more debt that you can make payments on? Talk to your creditors, get a second job, or file bankruptcy.

      Defaulted student loans? You have to work through a rehab program with your lender. Old collection items? Don’t pay them.

      As others have said, don’t pay anybody for this stuff, too many scammers. I got taken by one. Charged me $300 up front and then monthly service fees for sending my payments to my creditors as part of some plan. The idea was that they’d negotiate my interest rates down and they’d be the middleman. In the end, my creditors rejected all of the rate decrease proposals, and I was paying those guys for absolutely nothing.

    5. The Cosmic Avenger

      Forgive me if this sounds pedantic, but I can’t tell if this is necessary or not from your comment: basically, the only way to fix your credit is to pay your bills on time for an extended period of time.

      Anyone who offers to fix your credit score without you making payments is trying to scam you. At best they might take a fee in order to schedule debt payments for you, which you can do yourself, as Soupspoon McGee said, or they might try to get the creditor to reduce the minimum payment, which means you’ll pay more in interest in the long run, and you could also do that yourself even if it is ill-advised.

      I strongly advise Googling Michelle Singletary and Dave Ramsey and reading what they have to say about debt and managing your personal finances. They have a lot of information on what works and why if you’re trying to dig yourself out of debt.

      1. Saucy Minx

        Google Gail Vaz-Oxlade. Her web site, books, & television programs are both amusing & helpful.

    6. Dynamic Beige

      I think that what you are looking for is a way to consolidate your debts into one payment that is not an extremely high interest and a good non-profit credit counselling service should be able to help you with that. If that is not what you want, a non-profit service should be able to help you draw up a plan or give you basic advice along the lines of pay down your smallest debt first so you have the feeling of success — some of the financial books others have recommended have the same advice.

      Financial planners are more about taking the extra money you do have and investing it for your future, IMO.

    7. pinky

      check out personal finance on Reddit, and Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. Both excellent

    8. LD

      I’m responding before reading all the others, but wanted to say, you can get free help from consumer credit counseling services in many areas. I think some of them are now part of a national network called greenpath. Make sure you are using the non-profit version and ask questions about their services. Don’t let them take over for you, just get the advice and support you need to get started with your efforts. You are not alone. Good luck!

    1. anonymous daisy

      I just read a book about a guy who went through it called Embrace the Suck. I got it at my public library. I don’t think it was well written but since you are in the program and I am not, you might get more out of it. What I had problems with was when he was describing what the exercises were – bunch of gobbley gook to me.

    2. jhhj

      Don’t overexercise — the local hospitals here get a few people a week who got rhabdomyolysis and it’s invariably from CrossFit. If your muscles keep hurting for a long time and swell up, drink more water than you think is possible to flush everything out and go to the ER.

      Signed, my family member spent Christmas Eve in the hospital

    3. nep

      Yessss — rhabdo. No joke. Look it up.
      Too much of a good thing can indeed be bad.
      (What’s your current fitness level and what kinds of workouts have you been doing regularly, before launching into CrossFit?)
      Above all, listen to your body. CrossFit can be fantastic, empowering, healthy. But as with any such activity, overdo it and you’re asking for huge problems.

    4. Stephanie

      Form! Watch your form, especially with things like lifting. If you’re going to a box where they don’t emphasize proper form, find a new one. I haven’t done CrossFit specifically, but I’m taking classes in a modified version that’s martial arts based. But I know regular CrossFit really pushes a fast pace and sometimes your form can go to hell in that scenario (resulting in serious injuries).

      I agree with others about listening to your body.

      1. nep

        This. Work with people who will guide you on proper form and who take that seriously. This is paramount.

      2. CoffeeLover

        I have a few friends that are very much into perfecting their bodies and this is something they always complain about. A lot of crossfit places don’t care about form, and it’s really dangerous! (You can find a lot of picture online of crossfit people about to break their backs lifting improperly.)

        1. Nashira

          Or tear tendons in their knees, elbows, or shoulders. Especially the shoulders, my god. Picking heavy things up and then putting them down again is fandamntastic when you do it right, but it’s a dangerous activity to do with bad form, especially if you do it quickly and past the point of a reasonable workout. You don’t have to go to fatigue to get great results.

  20. Shell

    DAREDEVIL

    I finished marathoning the series last weekend and oh, I am in love. I adore it to bits and pieces despite its flaws. (I am rather biased for my superhero series.)

    There is a sad lack of fanfiction. This must be remedied.

    1. Mimmy

      My husband has been watching it, and I think he likes it. He said the original movie was awful.

      1. Kay

        I…kind of love the original movie but I can also freely acknowledge that it is Not Good. sigh.

      2. Noah

        The original movie is terrible, and I’m embarrassed to admit I enjoyed it. Then again, I also enjoyed Green Lantern. Comic book nerd I guess.

        The Netflix Daredevil series was really good though. Seriously loving how Netflix and Amazon are independently releasing so many shows now.

    2. Alistair

      I have read that there’s quite a bit of brutal, visceral violence. Too much of that really turns me off. What did you think of the violence?

      1. Shell

        I am not going to lie, it was…much gorier than I expected. It suited the mood, it suited the gritty feel they were going for this series, but as a person who very much dislikes visual, “realistic” looking gore, it made me cringe. I closed my eyes at the correct moments.

        As an example of the gore level, there was a guy who ran himself through with a spike of some sort. There was a camera shot of said spike through said guy’s head.

        It gets pretty messy, yeah.

      2. Persephone Mulberry

        Yes, it is darker and gorier than the typical Marvel product. I covered my eyes a couple of times (in a, “I know something gross is coming and I just don’t need that image in my head” way – I do the same thing when I watch Tosh.0). IMO it doesn’t add anything to the story, but it’s not so constant that it overshadows the story, either.

      3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        I can answer this because I am very sensitive to violence.

        I marathoned before I knew what I was in for and I don’t regret it. I enjoy the series and watched it nearly straight through.

        The fights scenes are mostly hand to hand/martial arts. The are gorgeously choreographed and filmed. I could take myself out of the “zomg violence too much!” and watch the art ,many times. Toward the last half of the series, I multitasked with my laptop during the fight scenes because, just too much for me.

        There is some gore. Not a ton, but you don’t see it coming and can’t avoid prior.

        It is painful to see Our Hero so badly beaten up the next day.

        I didn’t find the violence inauthentic to plot or gratuitous. And I preferred it all to constant gunfire!

      4. Golden Yeti

        Expect between 1-3 disgustingly gory things per hour long episode (it’s normally just 1, but I’m saying 3 to be safe). If you’ve ever watched Walking Dead, I would say the gore is around that level.

        Very well done, though. Kind of has a feel like Gotham, but more graphic. Also really liking The Flash, too (it’s the most…upbeat of the 3).

        1. Persephone Mulberry

          I keep forgetting about Flash!

          I only made it through the first episode of WD and gave it a big NOPE.

          I recall when people were talking about Daredevil before we started it, and the first couple of episodes I was like “this is fighty, but not particularly gory.” It escalates, which I think is part of the reason I made it this far. If it had been “removing a dude’s head with a car door” in episode one, I probably would have written it off, Charlie Cox or no.

          1. Golden Yeti

            I admit, for Flash, it took awhile to warm up (same with Gotham, for me). Once it got going and hit that turning point, though, it was good.

            I watched the first few episodes of Arrow, but then fell behind, and now I’m so far behind, there’s no catching up. I still enjoy the crossover episodes, though.

    3. vox de causa

      I tore through it. Charlie Cox was a great choice and the writing was pretty good. I’m excited that it’s getting a second season.

    4. Nina

      There is a sad lack of fanfiction. This must be remedied.

      LOL! Have you tried Archive Of Our Own? There’s a lot more genres there than most websites.

      -someone who’s read wayy too much fanfic.

    5. 15.385 steps / octave

      > fanfiction

      The other day someone mentioned AAM fanfiction. I’ve been working on it:

      50 Shades of Green: Plucky management consultant Alison Green was living the dream: a happy newlywed with a successful, money-making advice blog. Until the burst of Internet Bubble II in October 2016. Now it’s back to commuting in to the 8-to-5 grind at multinational conglomerate Gracen & Gracen. They make money the old-fashioned way: no flex-time, no personal internet use, no questioning of management, and *no* fish in the microwave! Sexual harassment doesn’t exist at G&G. Just like WTF Wednesdays.

      Alison goes through the motions of managing G&G’s non-existent Anonymous Employee Suggestion Program, shredding suggestion forms after they’re processed by G&G’s Forensics lab, and daydreams of better days. Until she accidentally walks in on a couple of college-hires having sex in the copier room and uncovers the terrifying-yet-erotic secrets of the Darry Duck Dill Club. Just how far up does this sex-crazed murderous conspiracy reach? How can she go Open Door in a company where opening doors can get you killed, or sear your brain with toxic sexual images you can never un-see?

      1. Not So NewReader

        I hope you write for a living because the world is calling for you to write.

        Will we get an installment next weekend?

  21. ThursdaysGeek

    I had a race question last week. It’s nice to have a pretty global group here, who are also respectful. It makes it a safe place to ask questions.

    When I am talking about family backgrounds with friends, they usually identify not as Caucasian, Hispanic, or Asian, but break that down more to the countries their families were from. So they may say they are German; English, Scottish, and Navajo; Chinese and Norwegian; Puerto Rican and French Canadian. Very few people I know have family from only one country, although they may identify as only one race. In some ways, that seems like everyone is mixed, not just those who are of mixed race.

    I know there are places in the US where there are neighborhoods that have mostly Italian, mostly Irish, or some other group. But in the Pacific NW, the only areas that have groups of people who aren’t mixed are near reservations, where most of the people are Yakama, or some other local tribe.

    Is it normal, ok, to consider myself somewhat mixed, even though I am mostly Caucasian? Or is that also a form of racism, thinking that my English/Irish/German/Scottish/and half a dozen other groups is any where near the mixing of the Chinese Norwegian friend?

    1. Sutemi

      Have you considered the differences between race and ethnicity?

      My race is white/caucasian. My ethnic heritage is German. My region of origin is the rural midwest. All of these have formed part of my heritage. I would consider you to be of a single race, white/caucasian, and mixed ethnic heritage. People with more than one ethnicity have different experiences than people of more than one race.

    2. The IT Manager

      I don’t think you’re mixed-race. You have a mixed cultural ancestry, but that’s not the same in my opinion. The cultures you mentioned are all northern European.

      1. JB (not in Houston)

        They may have mixed ethnicities though. Northern European is not an ethnicity (and of course, race isn’t made up, but that’s a different discussion).

    3. Treena Kravm

      I think your issue is that you’re thinking of race and ethnicity as the same thing. So for race (color), the Chinese Norwegian friend is definitely mixed-race (they probably check off both white + Asian or “other” on demographic boxes). In your case, your race is not mixed. All of those ethnicities are white.

      But if you’re having a conversation about ethnicity (family background, food, culture, etc.), that is usually mixed, and sometimes the ethnicities can get so mixed that a lot of ethnicity-specific things don’t get handed down (very typical if you have 4+ ethnicities).

      It’s hard to tell what kind of conversations your meant, but I’m assuming it’s along the same conversations I have when people ask me the origin of my (very unique, ethnic) name. I’m technically 1/4 this ethnicity, but it comes from my paternal grandfather (so no food or language was passed down). It’s just my name. I identity way more with my mother’s heritage, because I grew up eating that food, I’ve lived in that country, etc. And also more with my maternal grandmother’s heritage, because we eat that food and that’s the culture where our family’s religion comes from.

      So all that to say, I’m still super duper white, so I would never say I’m “mixed” in conversation. I would just say I’m A + B. I realize that it’s difficult to recite a whole list, but I’ve heard people say they’re European mutts with a laugh (not suggesting it, but that’s how I’ve seen it handled).

    4. Not So NewReader

      “Is it normal, ok, to consider myself somewhat mixed, even though I am mostly Caucasian? Or is that also a form of racism, thinking that my English/Irish/German/Scottish/and half a dozen other groups is any where near the mixing of the Chinese Norwegian friend?”

      People with a mixed race and ethnicity genealogy could describe themselves as having a mixed heritage. Likewise people from, let’s say, northern European nations might also consider themselves as having a mixed heritage.

      I am not sure on comparing backgrounds as being racist. I guess what you do with that comparison is what determines the racism. I enjoy genealogy- I enjoy figuring out where people ancestors lived and what their lives were like. I enjoy thinking about what great world events these people may have seen or even participated in. But then after that I am done. I don’t want to know people’s heritage because I want to avoid people from group X or country Y. I definitely don’t discuss heritage with someone who has not opened the topic.

      I have a friend who is half French and half Native American. I marvel at the differences in what our families have taught us about life and about skills for living life. I am so northern European I feel rather bland comparatively. I feel my friend has had a richer life and a richer background. For example he told me about hand fishing. It never occurred to me that you did not need a fishing pole. I learned something.

      Don’t answer here, but ask yourself when you run these comparisons what is your purpose? And your purpose will be your clue as to whether or not racism is involved here.

    5. Anonymous Educator

      Race is a social construct, and the way it’s constructed as of 2015, English/Irish/German/Scottish are all considered subcategories of “white/Caucasian.”

      Irish, 100 years ago… not so much. But times change, and so do the definitions.

      1. fposte

        Right. And different cultures have different interpretations of what race is and whether it’s different from ethnicity; the American take on race is far from universal.

    6. Ugly American

      I understand that race, ethnicity, national origin, etc is a very important part of some people’s identity, and I’m legitimately thrilled when people who have those strong ties invite me to participate in their customs.

      Literally all of my family’s customs, though, can be explained with “my family is weird”. There’s never been any “we do _____ because it’s our [national/ethnic] tradition!” in my life. I honestly don’t know my national/ethnic background, and I don’t care. Every living generation of my immediate family is American and white, with no strong ties to another country or culture, so I don’t identify as anything other than white American.

    7. matcha123

      I think that in the US, after the civil rights movement, it became more acceptable for whites to talk about their ethnic backgrounds. As a multiracial American, I find that there is a difference between being a white person with ancestors from various European countries (England, Ireland, Germany are popular ones) and being a multiracial person with immediate family from different races or multi-ethnic person with family of different ethnicities who are recent immigrants to the US.

      When I come across a white person who talked about “being mixed, too” because they have ancestors from XYZ countries it’s kind of an eyeroll. Because it seems like a way to sound “ethnic” and not WASPy.

      This will differ from person to person, but the people in America I consider mixed are:
      – People with parents or grandparents that are of different races (multiracial)
      – People with parents or grandparents of different ethnicities (but the same race), who also carry on some ethnic traditions and identify with those ethnicities

      People who I personally don’t consider mixed:
      – People who identify as monoracial (one race) and have an ancestor of a different race from generations back
      – General white population who identify as white but talk about Irish or German ancestors to add a bit of “flavor” to their conversation. (ie- Having a German ancestor has no impact on their daily life and they do not identify with German immigrants or German Americans, etc)

      1. SevenSixOne

        I think it’s beyond weird when, say, someone is born in the US to English-speaking American parents, doesn’t speak Italian or have any living relatives who do, and has never even BEEN to Italy… yet still refers to herself as “Italian” just because a great-great-great-great-great grandparent came to the US from Italy 100+ years ago.

    8. Clear Air Turbulence

      Is it normal, ok, to consider myself somewhat mixed, even though I am mostly Caucasian?

      Sure. As you can sorta tell just by the responses to your question, there’s no real consensus on this stuff. Everyone’s got an opinion, and yours is as valid as anyone else’s.

      I’m 100% German, and proud to be part of a cultural tradition that includes fine engineering, geniuses like Béla Barényi, and Tangerine Dream.

    9. skyline

      From a POC perspective, I would share that my reaction would depend a lot on how you incorporated this into a conversation. I like learning about my friends’ backgrounds, and I appreciate when they want to share about it. However, I’d just be aware that the lived experience of being mixed race in the US is very different from the experience of being white but of mixed ethnicity/cultural backgrounds. There are some ways that those experiences are analogous, but there are other ways that they are wildly different thanks to historical power dynamics regarding race. (And yes, race is a social construct, but it’s a social construct that has a huge impact on people’s lives, so let’s not try say we can ignore it.)

      Sometimes I find that people who are white but of mixed ethnicity will bring that up in a conversation that’s about being mixed race or a person of color in a way that either negates the those very significant differences or tries to take over the conversation. I understand why it happens: it’s normal for people to try to find a point of commonality in a conversation so they can participate it in a discussion. But sometimes the most respectful thing in a conversation about race and ethnicity is just to listen to other people’s experiences and not to try to say you’ve experienced the same thing. Example: I may be a POC, but I’m not African-American. So if there’s a conversation about being black in America, I should really listen rather than try to redirect the conversation to my sometimes similar, sometimes very different experiences.

      1. fposte

        This is what I was thinking–that if you say “mixed” in a US discussion about origins, the default is to mixed race, and TG would need to frame her origin comment in a way that didn’t make it sound like a “me too.”

        But it’s all so weird when you try to look at it without the cultural lens. I mean, if you look at genomes, we’re all pretty darn mixed. /waves to Neanderthal relatives

    10. ThursdaysGeek

      It’s nice reading the replies, and people are right about me confusing race and ethnicity. I used the term ‘mostly Caucasian’ since there are some ancestors that were Native American, but none recent enough or known enough to affect my heritage as just white American. And I know white Americans have completely different experiences than other races who are also American, unfortunately.

      My little sister is ethnically Spanish/Portuguese/American Indian but because she had a ‘white’ surname, she did not get the same negative reactions as someone would who had a Hispanic name. I’ve heard horror stories from friends and family who are not white, and I have a hard time understanding why people can be hurtful of others that way, and then I wonder if I’m doing the same thing, just in a way I don’t recognize. I’m sure I am, but I don’t want to!

  22. Anonyby

    So I had some stuff come up last week, which meant I went to the dentist for the first time in several years on Tuesday… Aaaand it turns out the took I broke will need to be taken out completely. :( And another tooth might need a root canal. But the person I went to can’t perform those procedures so I need to find a surgeon, and none of her go-to dental surgeons take my insurance. I got a list from her of people that do, but I’ve procrastinated in calling… Most are a large driving distance away from me, and the closer ones look like large facilities and I just can’t work up what to say to get across what I need… I hate being an adult sometimes. (It doesn’t help that all of these dental problems are hitting my already-low self-confidence.)

    1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo

      Teeth are my Achille’s heel, and I’ve had a lifetime of complicated dental issues. With big stuff going on (I assume you’ll need an extraction and implant) ask for recommendations and find someone you really trust. Ask the dentist and their staff who they go to (or send their family to) for wisdom teeth extractions, for example, to find a good oral surgeon. Have a dentist help you prioritize; root canals are often pretty urgent. But don’t delay more than they tell you you can.

      I’m sorry this is happening, but bad dentistry comes back to haunt you, and if you can find someone you trust to work with and give you good referrals, you’ll be happier when it’s done. I get it totally that it’s affecting your confidence, but don’t let it; some people just have troublesome teeth and jaws. Do learn to care for them properly; I had years of avoidance after bad experiences and paid the price.

      1. Anonyby

        I didn’t have any issues until I hit college and then bad habits took over.

        There’ll be an extraction, but implants are beyond what I can pay. It’ll just be a gaping hole in my teeth. And I did get a list of places to call as my referrals from the dentist. It has to be someplace that takes my insurance (which is EXTREMELY limiting, because apparently most dental surgeons don’t accept it). And she wanted a second opinion on the canal–she couldn’t tell if the tooth needed it or not, so she wanted someone with more experience to take a look.

        I think having good teeth for so long is part of what’s killing me now. I’m beating up on myself for letting it get so bad when it was something I was so proud of.

        1. Sunflower

          If it helps, root canals are not nearly as bad as people say they are. My old old dentist would take FOREVER to do them but my dentist now does them in about 30 mins. If you’re going through the list of dentists, i would maybe ask them how long a root canal takes for them and then cross off anyone who takes too long

          1. TalleySueNYC

            AGREE! The first root canal, I was sort of amazed. It was uncomfortable doing it–sitting there with my mouth open for so long. And my guy was sort of long; interesting that some people do it faster!

            But the numbing was effective, and the tooth really didn’t hurt at all afterward (made sense; the nerve was removed).

            Subsequent ones were less easy, but it truly could have been worse. And the difference in everyday life was amazing.

            Just do it–take a deep breath, jump!

        2. the gold digger

          I have had a dental implant. My insurance at the time would not cover it, so I went to the dental college, where it cost $600. (And I had convinced my company to change its policy and cover implants, so it cost me $300 in the end.)

          My mom also had her implant at a dental school instead of at a private dentist, saving thousands of dollars.

          Anyhow – I would suggest, if it is a possibility, to find a dental school. You will save thousands of dollars and the work will be done by students who have been practicing dentists for a few years and who have returned to school for dental specialization. Also, they are supervised by their professors.

          (I also had a root canal at the dental school. Much, much cheaper. And a root canal is not that painful. Boring, but not painful.)

          1. TalleySueNYC

            I had reasonable insurance but a huge amount of work to be done. I discovered that at the dental school here in NYC, the cost was roughly the same, but at the dental school, everything took forever!!!

            The students have so many checklists, steps, other people to maneuver around in terms of scheduling, taking turns at the xray machine, trouble getting even a chair…

            Since I was working, the tiny savings just wouldn’t have been worth the huge impact on my time.

            Your mileage may vary.

            1. the gold digger

              Yes, there is definitely a time tradeoff in this. At the U of TN dental school, it was slower, I suppose, but worth it to save a few thousand dollars. And that’s when I had a job where if I was sick or had an appointment, I just didn’t go to work. I was not nickled-and-dimed to death on sick days.

              I have had five gum grafts in the past 18 months. I could have those done at the dental school, but I discovered that instead of being a dental specialty, they are a procedure performed by first-year students. I decided I would rather pay $70o per graft out of my own pocket to have my oral surgeon, who has been doing this for 30 years, get it done in 20 expert minutes, than have some first-year student cutting up my mouth.

      2. Windchime

        I had years of avoidance also, and it took my teeth starting to crumble out of my head before I screwed up my courage and went back. The nice part is/was that dental care has changed a lot since I was young, and now the anesthetics and techniques are so much better. I ended up having to get a bunch of crowns (I spread it out over 3 years so it wasn’t too bad) and fillings, and now I have a cleaning every 6 months, religiously. It’s made a huge difference. I didn’t even realize that I was having almost constant tooth pain until I got all my ancient fillings replaced.

    2. nep

      Big dental issues here. I feel for you.
      You can tackle this. Do whatever is in your financial power to do — don’t put it off. You’ll get through it just fine and — speaking from experience — you’re likely to feel huge relief even just getting started with the work you need done.
      All best wishes to you.

  23. ThursdaysGeek

    For those considering Alison’s book recommendations, who prefer dead-tree books, and who are willing to buy used, I recommend BetterWorldBooks.com. I ordered 9-10 books last week and spent a bit over $30. Two of them were recommendations from the last couple of weeks here.

    1. StillHealing

      Thanks for posting this! I compared prices with six book I want to buy – on amazon.com and this site is by FAR cheaper!

    2. Violet Rose

      I love Better World Books! My mom bought me some books from them when I was studying abroad, and we got an extremely cute and funny email where the books she bought thanked her for finally being chosen.

    3. Suz

      For the Australians here, booko.com.au is a great site for price-check comparisons (including the shipping component, new/used, different editions). I always start there when I’m hunting for a particular book.

  24. Cath in Canada

    Any other AAM hockey fans watching the playoffs right now? Who’s your team, and how do feel about their prospects?

    I honestly feel like even if the Canucks get past Calgary, the Ducks (hehehehehe) will be too formidable an opponent to get us to the conference finals. Ah well, I’ll support whichever Canadian team(s) outlast us!

    I said to my friend on Thursday that watching your team in the playoffs is quite exhausting – all that stress and pain and joy and unhealthy food. Not to mention the scheduling challenges! I’ve watched each of the Canucks’ games so far in a different place, with different people*. At least we’re playing a (relatively) nearby team – it royally sucks when we play against a team from a time zone 3 hours ahead of us in the playoffs. 4pm puck drops are not compatible with my work schedule!

    *It’s like a logic problem: On Tuesday, Cath watched the game with someone who wore the new blue and green orca logo jersey. This was not the friend who ate the pizza. The friend who wore the 2002 red and blue orca logo jersey ate a burger, but not during Game 3. The friend whose 6-year-old child turned the TV off during a power play did not serve nachos. This was an earlier game than the one during which Cath’s visiting friend from Toronto ordered the cheese plate and was mocked for being from Toronto. Given the above information, what was the logo of the jersey on which Cath’s husband spilled his beer during Game 2?

    1. salad fingers

      I’m watching the Blackhawks! I’m actually mostly listening to the games on the radio, though, because I don’t have a TV and I can’t drink because recent surgery, so can’t really go out to watch them without being the jerk at the bar who keeps ordering diet Cokes.

      Also, on the topic of exhausting playoffs — they’re especially exhausting when the games don’t end until 1:16am, into the third period of overtime! All of Chicago was sleepy the day after that one.

      1. Cath in Canada

        Heh, we once tried to get brunch on a Sunday the day after the Canucks game went into 4th OT on the Saturday. About two hours after we left the house, we finally managed to get into the fifth place we tried; the whole city was hungover and sleep deprived and wanted eggs. At least it was a weekend!

        1. salad fingers

          Hmm, not sure I understand this comment. Yes, I think it’s rude to sit down by yourself at a sports bar with limited space during playoff hockey for 3.5 hours drinking a $2 soda with free refills. Maybe I’ve known too many servers and bartenders to feel comfortable doing this.

            1. salad fingers

              I have no problem with people who don’t drink. I also have no problem with not drinking, it just means that I choose not to go out to sports bars by myself right now. It’s like I would never go to a busy Italian restaurant on a Saturday night and take up a server’s table for half of her shift eating a single serving of gelato by myself. It’s essentially loitering.

              Can someone please explain what makes this incredibly sad? I don’t understand that.

              1. Liz in a Library

                I agree with you salad fingers. If I know I’m not going to be ordering much and am going to be taking up a table, you can be damned sure that my server is going to get at least the tip they would from an average user of that table and probably a fair deal more. It’s impolite to camp in a business without spending money in that business. Restaurants exist as a business.

              2. Stephanie

                I’m with you. They work for tips. I was with a big group at a popular pub (like one of those places were you have to fight for a table) on a Friday night and most of us had finished our round. One guy was nursing a glass of wine and no one quite got why I was saying so-and-so was being a bit inconsiderate by sipping a glass of wine for 20 minutes. I’m like “Yeah, the waiter wants us to go. He depends on turnover on a busy night like this so he can get more tips.”

                1. salad fingers

                  Yeah, this. I wonder if the negative reaction to this is a regional/national difference thing, because I’m sure servers are not paid pennies hourly everywhere in the world.

                  I should also add to the list of things I don’t have a problem with — people who don’t drink for whatever reason and go out to a bar, order a diet coke just to hang out with their friends. We have a recovering heroin addict in our friend circle who does this. This is much different to me than coming in alone and taking up a whole table or creating a single $2 bill for 3.5 hours.

    2. Shell

      In fairness, the further the Canucks go, the less people around you will care about you watching the game at work? :)

      I remember the Olympic games and how insane it was. No one was pretending to work at all anywhere I was at.

      1. Cath in Canada

        My workplace is weird – there are more NFL fans than hockey fans! Everyone goes crazy for the Olympics, but there aren’t a ton of other die-hard Canucks fans around. The other big hockey fans are mostly Oilers and Habs fans. A lot of people are “oh, the Canucks won last night? Yay!” fans rather than “I must be seated and ready at puck drop of every playoffs game” fans. We just have a really high percentage of immigrants and non-BC-Canadians in the office!

    3. jhhj

      You can’t tell me that anyone at your office isn’t livestreaming the games when you’re in later rounds of the series. (Or during the Olympics.)

      I root for all Canadian teams and have no preference between the Canucks and the Flames, but I’m a Habs fan first.

      1. Cath in Canada

        Olympics yes, NHL not so much (see my response to Shell).

        My Canadian team preferences go Canucks-Jets-Sens-Habs-Leafs-Oilers-Flames, in that order, with a big gap between Canucks-Jets and another big gap between Jets-Sens. After that there are only small differences in my preferences. But I’ll support any Canadian team against any US team! I’m hoping that Seattle gets a team in the next expansion, though – that would be awesome.

        1. jhhj

          I’d say mine are Habs-everyone else-HUGE GAP-ANOTHER HUGE GAP-Leafs.

          I support Canadian teams against US teams too. Not sure what would happen if the Leafs ever got back in the finals but apparently it’s nothing I ever need to worry about.

    4. Jader

      We try to catch the games when we can, we’re um…. Oilers fans…. so we’ve been suckered into cheering for the Flames for many moons now. We’re in a really dark dark place with our team. Sometimes I cheer for the Jets, just because they are new. At the end of the day though we are just happy when the cup comes home to Canada.

    5. littlemoose

      Blues fan here. Watching our team underperform in the playoffs after a great regular season – again.

    6. LAMM

      Wings fan… gotta say I wasn’t a big Mzarak fan until this playoff run. He’s been clutch for us against Tampa.

    7. Al Lo

      Lifelong Flames fan here. That game! My heart was racing just following it on Twitter, let alone watching!

      (I say I’m not a bandwagon fan, since I’ve been a Flames [and Stamps] fan since birth, but I’m a bandwagon pay-attentioner. I’ve never cheered for anyone else, but I really just actively follow it when it gets most interesting.)

      1. Cath in Canada

        My husband checked his heart rate app on his phone when it was at 4-4 and the Canucks had a power play, and he was 33% above his normal resting rate! What a crazy, crazy game.

        The Flames were the better team for this series, so I can’t really complain! Now go get those Ducks!

  25. EvilQueenRegina

    Has anyone here ever tried to trace their family tree? How did you go about it? Are there any websites you would recommend? Any other recommendations? I am in the UK if it helps.

    It’s a long story, but there’s a question mark over whether Grandad really had only the sister, half brother and adopted brother that he admitted to or whether there were two other secret sisters. I only knew that after he died and doubt I would have got a straight answer out of him anyway, but now I feel like I want to know.

    Since my great grandparents were called Edward and Bella, I kind of do need specialist sources to avoid just getting Twilight. Doesn’t help.

    1. anonymous daisy

      Try your local public library. Ours has an entire room set aside for genealogy research and two librarians who are experts in leading classes on howto dig in. They won’t do the research for you but they will point you in the right direction.

      Also, google “Cyndi’s List” – I think that is what it is called. I don’t do genealogy at my library job but I have used that in the past for historical research.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Another forum I frequent had a thread on family histories and from it, people have said they used Ancestry, Find My Past and familysearch.org. They also suggest Scotland’s people if you’ve any Scottish connections.

      My mum’s family helped build part of York railway station and my dad’s side – I forget home many ‘greats’, definitely a few – are actually from the part of Scotland I live in but went over to a Scottish Island, which consequently meant most of my dad’s side live on the West coast.

      1. EvilQueenRegina

        My grandad was from Peterhead, so Scotland’s People might be my best bet, thanks!

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          ha, mine were there too! but a few generations earlier and then they moved to Fraserburgh – or it was the other way around, I forget.

          I think you have to pay for Scotland’s people but it might be worth it.

      2. Alison with one L

        +1 for Family Search dot org

        I’ve found a ton of my family on there. There are digitized records of everything from census lists to ship manifolds. We found my husbands great grandmother’s ship manifest when she came from Germany to the US. When we did a little digging, we found an old family story about how she almost bought a ticket on the Titanic, but decided to buy the cheaper ticket instead and went on a different ship. I LOVE family history! have fun!

    3. Jill of All Trades

      I used Ancestry dot com and plugged in the little I knew and I was able to get quite a bit about the maternal lines. Depending on how secret any additional siblings may be though, you may need to connect with a pro. The HR lady who used to run the hilarious Clue Wagon HR blog became a genealogist- she’s in Milwaukee if memory serves but she may be able to point you to someone in the UK who could help. I think you can still contact her through the clue wagon blog site.

    4. Not So NewReader

      It will take some detective work to sort that one out. My uncle thought we had a forefather who was adopted. This means we had another family name, not the one we currently use. But this is reaching back into the 1800 Germany. They did not make these things a matter of public record. You could end up looking at censuses and tax rolls to piece together what happened there.

      Here in the states we have an ancestor that shares a plot with other people that we have no idea who the heck they are at all. It’s very interesting.

      Genealogy does require some discretion. Sometimes in order to get people to talk you have to promise not to repeat anything. It’s the only way they will talk with you. I am surprised by the amount of confidentiality involved.

    5. Marcela

      Several years ago my mother wanted to know more about our family, in Chile. We knew our grandfather was an illegitimate child, and he had only one last name (the custom was two last names, first lastname is the first one from your father and the second lastname is the first one from your mother), his mother’s lastname, which made very obvious to everybody what he was (he was my beloved Tata, but that’s not relevant to this story).

      As Not So NewReader says, she needed to do detective work. She had to talk to all our old aunts, uncles, searching for places and dates. She needed to go to many churches, as at the beginning of last century, all records were kept by the Catholic churches. She had to be very discreet and promise confidentiality to many people, to get them to show her the records. Even now, people were worried we could use the information to sue for inheritance or something like that.

      She managed to get quite a lot of information about our family. But everything ended in disaster, when looking to my cousins family, she discovered my cousins’s grandparents (not the ones we have in common), were half siblings. My uncle is very old, more than 80 now, and he was orphaned when he was about 8 years old. He didn’t remember almost anything about his real family, so it was a tragedy for him to know that about his parents. My mother stopped the investigation. And honestly, I’m better this way. I know the people in the past, beyond my grandparents, were important, the way they lived and behaved marked and left a deep impression in the people I loved. But knowing their names or finding a picture is not going to change who my grandparents were, for good and bad. They will be strangers always. And as Ben Affleck knows, there is always somebody with whom you don’t agree or you are ashamed of.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Yeah, this is a great example of where the problems come in. I hate to say “spin-doctor” but when you do genealogy you have to chose over and over to focus on the good stories. There are so many sad ones. I worked on my mother’s family. I went to the cemetery. I found babies’ graves. I found couples that died with in days of each other. I learned how much of people’s lives can be figured out just by reading their tombstones and the tombstones of the family members. Of course, long ago they would write anything on a stone and sometimes what I found was interesting and very humorous. Some stones you could still hear the thoughtful tenderness in the word choice.

        Two things I learned: If you dig for dirt you WILL definitely find some. The second thing I learned is that it is reasonable to assume that most of us are probably descended from someone who was adopted. Wars, tyranny, famine, etc caused people to move about and reweave their families as needs arose.

  26. mellow in midtown

    Do y’all think that blogging as we know it is totally on the way out? I don’t read Dooce regularly, but I know she’s been a blogging institution since the early aughts, and yesterday Kottke (another blogging institution) posted a link to her blog announcement about moving on to other projects. He also said that he doesn’t think blogging will be sustainable for him for the long haul :(

    I still love blogs and follow quite a few of them. I haven’t found that social media replaces the need for a good blog. What do you think?

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Oooh, I’ll be following this with interest, for obvious reasons. I will say that the stuff I read about this has never felt familiar to me — AAM’s traffic has steadily gone up, advertisers have not been a pain in the ass, and while I’ve certainly had times where blogging has felt more chore than joy, on the whole I see no signs that blogs are dying out. What I do see is occasional churn, where longtime bloggers move on to something else and that’s interpreted as “blogs are dying!” … but that’s just normal turnover, from what I can tell.

    2. Cath in Canada

      I blog a lot less than I used to. I’ve switched to Twitter as a substitute for the shorter posts I used to write (sharing links to interesting articles, photos, random silly thoughts, and puns), and I find Quora to be easier than blogging if I’m in the mood to write something longer. (Answering specific questions other people have posed is easier than coming up with ideas of my own!) A lot of my online friends have gone the same way – I met them through blogging, and stay in touch via Twitter and Facebook. Even when people do blog now, most of the subsequent comments seem to happen on Facebook and Twitter rather than on the blog itself.

      For me specifically, it’s also a function of my evolving career. I started my blog when I was in a job that didn’t involve much thinking or writing about science, which is my true passion; my first posts were very heavy on scientific content. I then moved to a job where I did a lot of thinking and writing about science, which scratched the original itch that prompted me to start blogging. However, that job was very isolating, so I kept blogging as a social outlet, giving me a connection to friends throughout the day (I’d draft posts on my lunch break and post them that evening, then keep an eye on the comments as they came in during the day; I’d read and comment on my friends’ blogs during my shorter breaks during the work day). I posted much less scientific content, and much more silly and person stuff, during those years. Then, three years ago, I moved to my current job, where I think and write about science all day and have an awesome team to talk to during my breaks. That plus Twitter has reduced my blogging output significantly, although I’ll keep my blog going for the foreseeable future.

    3. Anonymous Educator

      Quite the contrary, I think the glut of terrible anybody who wants a blog (but has nothing to say) has a blog is on the wane. Ten years ago, there were so many bad (or, frankly… empty) blogs out there. Now, I feel there is a smaller set of more dedicated bloggers (e.g., Ask a Manager, of course).

    4. Yoshi

      Yeah, I’ve noticed a number of blogs I read have slowed down substantially or seemed to be on the way out. Little Green Notebook, once a daily read, is down to one post a month; Manhattan Nest has slowed way down; Cap Hill Style has fewer and fewer postings. I’m seeing the trend, too.

    5. Noah

      The death of Google Reader a couple of years ago forced me to go through the number of blogs I regularly read. It went from well over 100 to less than 10 now. I never really replaced it with another RSS reader, so now I just visit the various blogs directly.

      What I think is really dying out is personal blogs and for the most part those people have moved on to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr/etc. What’s left are focused blogs with a purpose. FWIW, the same thing seems to be happening on Youtube. Focused channels with a clear message and purpose seem to be thriving.

    6. 15.385 steps / octave

      Individual bloggers will come and go, but blogging will be around forever. It’s proved itself to be a useful tool.

      This kind of thing happens all the time in the technology field (and probably elsewhere): somebody comes up with something new, it’s in the headlines, everyone jumps into the fray, it’s everywhere … sometimes it’s not really a good or worthwhile thing, and it kinda just fades. But quite often, after the hype settles down, the technology (or whatever it is) is still there. It’s part of the Standard Canon of tools and techniques that people know about. It’s just not “hot” anymore. When I was in college, Expert Systems were hot, hot, hot! But eventually something else came along, and nowadays you hardly raise an eyebrow if you talk about how you wrote an Inference Engine and a set of rules to drive some part of your inventory control system.

      Blogs (and bulletin boards, and wikis, and email listservs) are nice and useful devices.

      The tricky thing about blogs (and any other ‘social’ software) is: how do you become popular and successful? You can talk about SEO or whatever, but the fact is that 6 different people around the world might start a blog to discuss, I dunno, electric drag racing news, and they may all fail, or one of them will become *the* place to go for all of your electric drag racing news and information. But – aside from maybe pushing massive amounts of advertising dollars at it, which is I think what they did with that Angie’s List thing that I’ve seen on teevee but never used – nobody has really figured out how to predict the “winner” in grassroots social media.

    7. SevenSixOne

      I’ve seen this exact cycle happen with a lot of now-defunct blogs I’ve followed:

      -Blog about Specific Topic becomes popular
      -Blogger becomes something of an expert/authority on Specific Topic and is invited to panel discussions, interviewed on TV and in print, writes articles for other publications, and maybe even gets a book published
      -Blog is still updated regularly, but now the updates become less frequent
      -Blogger gets offered her dream job as a Specific Topicologist or decides to start her own Specific Topic company
      (by this point, many similar blogs have popped up because of the first one’s success; some of them may go on to follow this cycle)
      -Blog posts continue for a while and eventually taper off until they stop completely OR Blogger still updates regularly but it’s all relentless promotion of Blogger’s new project

      It seems like this is just the normal life cycle for blogs.

    8. Blue_eyes

      I’ve seen that certain kinds of blogs (especially the ones that are done on the side as a hobby, it seems) have a life cycle of a few years. A number of blogs that I read, and one that I wrote for/founded, have died of natural causes after 3-6 years. Many of these blogs had fairly specific topics and after awhile the authors felt they had written all they wanted on the topic and were ready to move on to other things.

  27. Cruciatus

    Finally finished The Bone Clocks. Did not like it. Do not get the hype–and I swear there are books I like, I just haven’t read any of them lately. I’m going to take a break from best sellers for a while because none of them (Goldfinch, Bone Clocks) have worked for me. I just don’t like spending time with asshole characters with nothing to show for it. Just because a book makes no sense doesn’t mean it’s good! I have no idea how to connect Holly Sykes hearing Radio People to saving the world (did they?), to the world being taken over and awful and Holly sending her grandkids off with Marinus on a boat to a better life. WHAT WAS THIS BOOK!?

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      David Mitchell is coming to talk in my city in May, as part of a festival.

      To me, there’s something incredibly off-putting about reading best sellers/popular books. I’ve got The Goldfinch to read but my brain is like “why’d you want to read something everyone else is reading?!” – even though it sounds interesting. I was happy I’d read Gone Girl waaaay before everyone else did.

      1. Maisie

        Unrelated, but I’m jealous. And now I know where you live – muahaha!

        Are you going to see him? He’s one of my favourite comedians and I’m not sure if he’s coming to my city this year for our big festival *coughTheFringecough*.

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          Wrong David Mitchell – the writer and the comedian are 2 different people…

    2. C Average

      I think we’ve discussed “The Goldfinch” (or Donna Tartt, anyway) here before, and I’m so with you on not getting the hype in a lot of cases.

      That said, I’m 150 pages into “All The Light We Cannot See” (it’s the one cheat I’ve allowed myself in my effort to only read books that were written before my book takes place) and it’s freaking amazing. So very, very good. Totally worth they hype.

      1. Liz in a Library

        So, two dear friends whose literary tastes I usually trust have been trying to get me to read The Secret History for a decade. I have tried and given up several times. Is there a point it gets better?

        I’m not feeling the need to try the Goldfinch or another Tartt if I can’t make it through this one…

        1. C Average

          No. “The Secret History” never gets better. I wish I had those hours of my life back to read something that was enjoyable or edifying.

    3. The IT Manager

      Books! Just finished The Man from Primrose Lane which has been on my To Read list since it came out in 2012, but I was inspired to start it because someone mentioned it several months ago on the open thread. It took me a long time to get through because I moved earlier this month. I actually started it as a hard cover checked out from the library in my old home town and then bought the e-book when I realized I wasn’t going to finish before I moved.

      I enjoyed it. I found the parallels of the main character to the author interesting. (both are Ohio-based non fiction writers who wrote the Serial Killers Apprentice/Protege). I am a sci fi fan, but I actually preferred the first two parts before the sci fi was introduced because it was better. I think it showed his experience in writing reality based work and the the author seemed a bit inexperienced in writing sci fi. There was a good bit of info dumping and he got over-excited describing future Cleveland/apocalyptic wasteland.

      I am happy though. All of my recent sci fi reads were disappointments. I got burned by things that sounded interesting but were a bit to literary for my tastes. Even if it was a little rough, it was classic sci fi that I am fond of.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        You should read ‘The first fifteen lives of Harry North’ by Claire North. I’m terrible at explaining things, so just google it! :)

          1. Cruciatus

            Sounds like you are enjoying more than I was by that point, but I’ll be interested to hear how you feel once you finish that last quarter of the book.

    4. 15.385 steps / octave

      On a slightly related note: I finally saw Jupiter Ascending and wow … that was one rotten movie. Some of the visuals were awesome. But overall, it was dumb in so many ways that I don’t even want t waste time thinking about it. *sigh*

    5. Ailsa Abu Dhabi

      I wrote my undergrad thesis on Cloud Atlas, which I thought was a way more clever and subtle way of exploring the same themes as Bone Clocks. It’s like he turned all the metaphors in Cloud Atlas (cannibalism, reincarnation, etc) into weirdly hamfisted literal plot points in Bone Clocks, and it just came out kind of……silly. It had some great writing and some good characters but yeah, overall I didn’t love it either. But have a go at Cloud Atlas!

      1. bkanon

        Whoa, whoa. Literal plot point of cannibalism? Is that right? Is that in the book? Because if so, I HAVE to give it a pass. Zomies/cannibals, anything of that nature squicks me so much. Just can’t do it.

  28. Carrie in Scotland

    So….adulting sucks, sometimes.

    Last week I went to the city I’m hoping to move to to have another exploration – it didn’t go well. It wasn’t the city’s fault – it’s all mine. I started freaking out and wondering how the hell am I going to make friends, maybe a boyfriend, have a life when it’s taken me so long to kind of get one where I am, where I’ve been for the past 10 years (and I only moved 20 minutes away from where I grew up).

    I think some of it is to do with moving on, moving away from the flat my mum & I picked out and all the memories and the fact that my life isn’t like that anymore, that this time it won’t be her with me (even though I have done plenty of other things in life since she died).

    I was kind of hoping that I’d be able to resolve this before moving but my counselling sessions still don’t kick in for a few weeks yet and I have a job interview in potential city later on next week.

    1. Sunflower

      I totally feel you. I am trying to relocate and am terrified. I’ve only been in my city for 2 years but I grew up 30 minutes away. I feel very lucky here. I have an amazing, large group of friends which I’ve found, from talking to other people, is very rare. A lot of people who move away come back and I keep thinking to myself ‘Am I crazy to be leaving this?’ I’m terrified thinking about how I will make friends in a new city.

      I think it’s nerves of leaving behind the safe and familiar. It’s a really strange feeling to really know and feel 100% confident you’re making the right decision but you also feel like you could be making a huge mistake. What helps me(and what helps me make other decisions in life) is thinking ‘Will i regret this forever if I don’t do it’ and the answer is always yes.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Yes, I would also regret not moving…I was going to move a few years ago but stayed because of A Boy. The time to go is definitely now. Thanks for saying this.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      A colleague of mine recently said that she and other friends who have moved a lot (academics and academic spouses) say it takes 3 years to make really good friends in a new city. This sounds like FOREVER, but it’s not– and honestly, I find that to be really freeing. As in, there’s nothing wrong with me that I’ve lived in a new place for 8 months and I don’t have any real friends here. My friends are all back in NYC. And you know what? It was a good three years before I found any of them in the first place!

      Moving to a new city is terrifying. But it is also eye-opening and wonderful. Learning to enjoy your own company is one of life’s greatest lessons, in my opinion, and in my experience, the best way to do that is to get out and explore your city, on your own, like a tourist. I’ve done that twice, first in DC after college and then in NYC when I was 26. Knew maybe one person in both cities. Had a lot of lonely days and evenings, but I filled them by carving out my own enjoyment of each city and my own routines. Was it easy? HELL NO. Did I enjoy myself more once I started making friends? Of course. But those years served me incredibly well.

      Now I am at a stage in my life where moving wasn’t quite so daunting. I admit it’s because I have my boyfriend and my dog, but it’s also because I have friends whom I cherish, distance be damned, so I don’t feel the need to hang out with everyone I meet just because they’re there. I can hold out for people I actually like and want to spend time with. I also truly believe in carving my own space in my new city and discovering it on my own, without anyone else’s judgment in my ears.

      Tl; dr: what you’re doing is scary and you are allowed to freak out, but you will find your groove. It will take time– maybe a lot of time. But you’ll be ok. :)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          You’re very welcome, and I hope it helps. People get so caught up in being encouraging (“Oh, it will be so amazing! You’ll meet such great people!”) that they forget to acknowledge that things are HARD, so you end up feeling like a freak or a failure while you’re adjusting.

    1. Lady Bug

      Best – getting the record I couldn’t find on Record Store Day

      Worst – learning I have chaffed corneas

      1. 15.385 steps / octave

        You have my sympathies! I woke up one morning a few weeks ago with a corneal abrasion, and it was quite painful. But – I’m hear to tell you – they heal up quite well. I trust you’ve seen the doctor and you’re having it treated. When I was dealing with it, the worst part was thinking about how much life would suck if I went blind. Kinda makes you appreciate the good things in life.

        1. Lady Bug

          I was happy to hear I won’t go blind! I have an appt with an opthamologist in 10 days, just using OTC drops for now. Mostly they just itch and feel tired. Thanks for the positive healing info!

          1. 15.385 steps / octave

            10 days?! It might be healed by then (which is not a bad thing).

            For whatever reason, mine began to hurt progressively worse over the course of the day until finally I gave up and went to the ER. They gave me pain meds, confirmed that it was a corneal abrasion, and the next day I went to the doctor and they put a plastic ‘contact lens’ over the damaged area and gave me some antibiotic eye-drops. The contact lens was removed in a couple of days – everything was basically back to normal. I’m glad yours isn’t hurting.

      2. StillHealing

        BEST – Getting an NIH proposal in ahead of time with no errors or corrections needed! (50 hour workweek so I was exhausted by Friday)

        Worst – Cheating soon-to-be-ex-husband is being an *sshole and not wanting to pay any spousal maintenance. My attorney says I have a VERY strong case due to the length of our marriage, my well documented disability and being forced into working fulltime before I was completely ready to do so. She also said, “The court will not look favorably on his behavior. Quitting a high paying job voluntarily, moving across the country to take a job for half the wages “for love” will not win him any favor. The court will not be persuaded”

    2. Trixie

      Best: Moving forward on new blogging project, excited for additional income and experience.
      Worst: Dropped of the healthy eating wagon with too much takeout and soda. And late night eating absolutely has to end. I’m not hungry so its just out of habit.

    3. Apollo Warbucks

      Best – I got a new mattress and have been sleeping so much better since it arrived on Monday.

      Worst – getting really frustrated at work.

    4. Alistair

      Worst: Therapy. I stared into the abyss, and boy howdy did it stare back. Hopefully it’s a start at removing that abyss.

      Best/Worst: learned on Thursday afternoon that I’ll be spending next week two timezones away. While I do like travel, it’s annoying to learn about a big trip three days before I leave. Thank goodness my company is paying, flights were $1400 at minimum.

      1. De Minimis

        Best–giving notice at work, went really well.

        Worst–have less than two weeks before the house closes and I just haven’t made a lot of progress in packing up what’s left.

      2. Nashira

        I feel you on the therapy – I am in that boat right now. I wish you well on tackling your abyss without taking too many blows yourself.

    5. C Average

      Best: Took a fun trip to the east coast (New York, Boston, DC) and saw lots of cool stuff.

      Worst: Came home and was forced to reckon with the messy house I’d left behind and the heap of laundry I generated while traveling.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger

      Best: my daughter’s horse show last week, she did well, but more importantly, the team tried their best and had fun. And it was a beautiful day to spend outside (although it didn’t feel so beautiful at 5:30am!)

      Worst: my father is recovering from surgery and will probably have to have more to remove some cancer of the stomach and esophagus. I came 250 miles to be here with him for this, and now we don’t even know if or when the next one will be, so I don’t even know where I’ll be 48 hours from now. The waiting and not knowing is as bad as the initial news.

    7. GOG11

      Best: My boyfriend is starting a new job Monday (yay!) and I and a small group of friends took him out to dinner and for dessert last night and he had a blast. Today we went shopping and found quite a few much-needed items despite his needing really odd sizes (nobody carries 30/34 pants!).

      Worst: Hmm… my coworker keeps making statements about how women are better at cleaning than men, women are better at taking care of things because they take care of babies, etc. Makes me want to throw a stapler at his obnoxious face.

    8. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

      Best: It’s super gorgeous out today. Even though I didn’t take all that much advantage of it – I had a lazy day with a few errands thrown in there – it lifts my mood so much.

      Worst: Nothing, really!

      1. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)

        Oh yes, I came up with a worst: I bought some cereal and OH MY GOD I have no self-control over eating it. If I have cereal (or ice cream) in the house, I decide that’s what I must have for every meal.

        1. Rebecca

          Confession – I love Lucky Charms. I cannot control myself, so if I buy a box, I just resign myself to the fact it will be gone in a few days, if that :(

          1. Mimmy

            I’d give anything just to have a bowl of Lucky Charms–that was my go-to cereal as a kid. But my husband would probably divorce me on the spot if he caught me eating that, lol.

    9. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Best: Went out to dinner with my husband to celebrate our first wedding anniversary (Monday will be one year)! We had a civil wedding six months previous to that for immigration stuff, but last April was our church-and-family wedding, and it’s hard to believe it was an entire year ago!

      Worst: My parents are both dealing with some health issues–my dad in particular is very ill–and it’s extremely distressing to be so far away and unable to help them with anything or be really of any assistance. It’s remarkably stressful.

    10. Persephone Mulberry

      Best (work): I had a nice little phone conversation with the Big Boss at my company about how awesome I am.
      Best (non-work): 3/4 of the way through my Whole30 with no slips or cheats!

      Worst: The weather has been dullsville this week, which altogether means it’s been a pretty good week.

    11. The IT Manager

      BEST: Dodged a business trip to New Jersey next week.
      I’m currently cooking my second of 3 crockpot meals. By tomorrow, I’ll have a variety of food for lunch this week plus a freezer stocked with several weeks worth of meals.

      WORST: House doesn’t look any more unpacked than last week. Made a bit of progress, but I’ve got to solve the kitchen storage problem (purchase some sort of furniture) before I can finish.

    12. Windchime

      Best: I found a dress for my nephew’s wedding, as mentioned in a different post. Also, the weather is pretty today and I had a couple of people over for BBQ tonight, so that was fun.

      Worst: I’ve been fighting a migraine for a whole week. Booo.

    13. Mimmy

      Worst: My classmate and I met up at my university student center to work on a project, and there were all sorts of hiccups before and afterwards, much of it caused by traffic snarls. Plus, coming home, a part of the downtown area was closed off due to a downed utility pole, apparently causing the buses to get re-routed. Usually, those kinds of issues are posted on the transit website—NOPE! After a bit over an hour of waiting, I gave up and got my husband to pick me up. It didn’t help that yesterday was unusually cold (New Jersey).

      Best: Spending time with said classmate. She is seriously the loveliest woman I’ve ever met. It’s helped me get through our less-than-worth-the-money class we’re taking together.

    14. CrazyCatLady

      Best: I went on a beautiful hike today.
      Worst: I found out some really devastating news from my brother about a traumatic experience he recently had.

    15. 15.385 steps / octave

      Best: my work sent me a new computer, it’s a hotrod MBP w/ 15.4″ retina display. Also I ordered a Moog Sub37 and it should arrive in the next couple of weeks. And I learned how to play some of Jean Pierre Taieb’s score for the movie The Divide. And I made a new friend.

      Worst: the hiring process at work is unbearably slow. Also (as noted above) I finally saw Jupiter Ascending and it was awful. And I made a new friend, but I still miss my old friend who moved away to the other side of the world.

      But to try to end on a high note, this trailer for Tomorrowland looks really good:

      https://youtu.be/lNzukD8pS_s

    16. S

      Best: I and another coworker run a team of volunteers–we had a welcome happy hour for new volunteers this week and it was a smashing success.

      Worst: Tonight, when the bar I was at accidentally threw out the to-go box I had from another restaurant. :(

    17. Ann Furthermore

      Best: Had a fantastic evening with good friends tonight. My husband and his buddy drank a bunch of beers, let loose, and had a great time. You gotta do that every once in awhile.

      Worst: My daughter getting shut out of the science fair and only getting a Participant ribbon. She really worked hard on her project and did almost everything herself, and it was clear that the other kids in her group had lots more help. Plus her teacher said her presentation was really good. She was very engaged and talked a lot about what she’d learned. Normally this type of thing wouldn’t bother me. But the woman who volunteered to do the judging is a physics teacher at one of the high schools in our area. I really dislike her due to some shady stuff she’s done regarding fund raising for the school. So…she volunteered to do the judging with some of her physics students, and then somehow BOTH of her kids won for their grades…one of which was my daughter’s.

      I’m not going to make any waves, because it really wouldn’t accomplish anything other than making me look like THAT mom. And my daughter had fun and learned a bunch of cool things, which really is the most important thing. But it still pisses me off.

      1. 15.385 steps / octave

        Grrr … not that it helps, but I feel the same way about Science Fairs. I used to be asked to serve as a judge on some local Science Fairs – but that kinda trailed off when people noticed that the exhibits that were obviously built with 95% parent labor weren’t scoring well. It was typically pretty obvious which ones were completely the product of a kid. Or of a kid and his mom or dad doing experiments together. I loved those What bugged me were the ones where it was obvious that the parents told the kid “go watch Power Rangers, we’re doing your Science Fair presentation”. Alas, these are also the type of parents who’ll find out who’s lowballing them and make sure they aren’t invited back to judge.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          I know. You just have to laugh at all these elementary school politics. Overall I’m very happy with my daughter’s school and her teachers. But now and then this kind of stuff happens everywhere. I’m surprised that the school’s science teacher didn’t raise an eyebrow and say, “Really?” when she saw that both of this woman’s kids were listed as winners. And of course I’m not unbiased, but my daughter’s really did show that she’d done everything herself (with supervision of course, she’s 6). Her project was to find out why some liquids are heavier than others, so we did a whole bunch of experiments: oil and water, honey and dish soap, etc. The only things I did was pouring the rubbing alcohol and paraffin oil, since those are, you know, potentially toxic.

          And my daughter wasn’t the only one who was robbed. The sons of 2 of my friends (in 5th grade) worked together and built a catapult that was awesome. And another girl in their class did some sort of electronics experiment where she made an indicator light for the mailbox at her house that would light up when mail was put it in it. Those kids were also shut out. Grrr. I need to stop stewing about it since there’s nothing I can do.

          It’s tempting to just blow off the science fair going forward, but I can’t do that. My daughter loves math and science, and I really want to encourage that.

          1. Blue_eyes

            Honestly, even if the judge’s kids did really awesome projects, she has to know that it looks bad for both of her kids to win. Unless her kids’ projects were completely in a different league than the other participants, it looks shady and super biased.

            1. Ann Furthermore

              If we were talking about anyone else, I’d agree with you. But this woman is in a class by herself. My experience with her has been with doing fund raising for the school. She comes up with great ideas, but there’s always some kind of angle for her to make a little extra money for herself.

              4 or 5 years ago, she volunteered to be in charge of the school auction. She had a budget of $5000 and as far as I know never provided the receipts to show how she spent that money. She came up with an idea for giving sponsorship levels to donors. So for example if you donated goods/services worth $500, you could get a quarter of a page for your company’s logo in the auction program, $1000 would get you a half page, and so on. Really good idea, right?

              At the same time, she just happened to be starting an event planning company. So since she did all the planning for the auction event, she called her volunteer time a “donation” and then gave herself a bunch of free advertising in the auction program.

              3 years ago she got a local solar panel company to make a donation, and made a deal with them that she (personally) would get some kind of referral bonus for every new client that mentioned the auction, or something like that. It was a chunk of change — like $500 or something. She said that she’d split the referral fee with the school, but it was still shady and underhanded. First of all, you’re raising money for your kid’s school, not trying to make a profit for yourself. And second of all, even though she said she’d share the referral bonuses with the school, how would anyone know if she did or not?

              That’s just 2 examples of the kind of stuff she pulls, and then she can’t understand why no one wants to work with her on volunteer stuff. Then she starts whispering to other parents at the school about how the PTO is too clique-ish, how funding should come from the district and the PTO shouldn’t be asking families to participate in fund raising, and other crap like that.

              So….I have no problem believing that she’s completely oblivious to how incredibly bad it looks for her to volunteer to have her students judge the science fair, and then “coincidentally” have her kids win.

              I do a lot of volunteer work for the school, and for the most part I really enjoy it. I like knowing what’s going on in my daughter’s classroom and at the school, and I’ve met a lot of other parents and made quite a few new friends. Dealing with this woman is the only drawback.

              1. Blue_eyes

                There’s always one, isn’t there? Sounds like she’s always looking out for herself and everyone else can see right through her.

      2. LD

        Don’t they know about conflict of interest? ??????? That would frustrate me no end to know that someone with a vested interest in the outcome had control. Good for you that you’re looking on the brighter side. Your daughter has a good role model!

        1. Ann Furthermore

          Now that I’ve thought about it a bit more, I might say something to her teacher (not the science teacher). She’s newer to the school, so may not be aware of all the gory details. We’ve established a pretty good rapport. I’ve asked her about things that my daughter has told me about happening at school, but usually because I want to know if there’s some kind of behavioral issue we need to be working on with her at home. I’ve done this maybe 4 or 5 times for the whole school year, so I really try hard not to inundate her. She’s got a whole class of kids to worry about, not just mine.

          Anyway, we get along really well. I may ask her to pass along the conflict of interest observation to the science teacher, if the opportunity presents itself and only if she feels comfortable doing so. I just really don’t feel like it should be allowed to slide, but if I make a stink about it, I’m just going to be the helicopter mom having a hissy fit because my kid didn’t win.

    18. BritCred

      Best: Finally got a referral to a health clinic for my CFS. Somewhere on the path to sorting out getting back to health and back to work.

      Worst: My downstairs neighbors have upped their antics despite the eviction notice on them for fights etc. Including a fire alarm pull at 4.30am as part of a fight just over a week ago and abusing people for telling them NOT to ring other peoples doorbells when they “forget” their key. Oh, and another police call at midnight last night due to one of their fights (this time one of them made the call not me…). Over a month at least to go before the courts “assist” them in moving out….

    19. Elkay

      Worst: Two friends cancelled having lunch with me (separately). I’m giving up on people now.
      Second worst: Crazy sister in law reared her head this week

      Best: Unplanned night out last night, we went to some of the pubs local to us and had a few drinks. We’re lucky to have about six great pubs within a 10 minute walk from home.

    20. Rebecca

      Best – I went to the swap meet at Carlisle, PA this week with my Dad. Got to spend the day with him, found plain black seatbelts for his 1956 Ford truck, found a Pontiac chrome license plate holder for my car, and I got to see the “Bandit” TransAm signed by Burt Reynolds that was up for auction.

      Worst – Thankfully nothing was “worst” this week, other than I feel trapped in my meaningless go nowhere job, and by trapped, that’s how I truly feel. I think I did something very bad in a past life, and this is my punishment.

    21. Mallory Janis Ian

      Best: boss closed the office early and took us all out for drinks on Friday after work. We had a street side view of the time trials for the bicycle race that would take place on Saturday morning, and it was fun to see the group of pro cyclists come whizzing by. One coworker is a former pro cycling team member, so he was explaining all the nuances to us.

      Worst: my MIL has been in a court battle to get guardianship over her nonagenarian parents, who have been financially abused by my husband’s two cousins (both in their mid-twenties) tho the point where they are just about flat broke now. The sale of their cattle operation and their furniture business fifteen years ago left them with enough money to pay cash for a house in town and a new Cadillac plus enough money to live comfortably enough for the rest of their lives. We looked at their recent bank records, and the two grandchildren have burned through $57,000 in the past three months (not to mention several years worth of taking before anyone caught on). Anyway, my MIL won guardianship, but one of the grandchildren managed to take the last $10,000 from the back account before the court order got filed with the back. So tomorrow my MIL has to go to the contempt of court case as the plaintiff against the grandchild (her niece). And grandma and grandpa are left with nothing to live on but their social security checks and a small (<$120/Mo) pension from grandpa's oil field days.

      1. Purr purr purr

        That’s awful! How can anyone do that to their own family. Those cousins sound like disgusting people and I hope karma comes for them…

        1. Mallory Janis Ian

          I think the granddaughter may go to jail tomorrow for the contempt of court case. The grandson is a meth addict, so I imagine it’s just a matter of time before he’s in jail, too. My MIL is working on getting an assisted living arrangement for her parents, where they’ll be safe from the two grandkids.

    22. Purr purr purr

      Best part of my week was getting home from work each day, as sad as it sounds. I’m working on too many projects and doing a lot of overtime at a job I’ve grown to hate so it’s an absolute pleasure to unlock my front door, kick off my shoes and melt into the sofa then spend the evening doing what *I* want.

      Worst part of my week was getting sick. I’m training for a running event and I can’t afford to miss any runs. As it is, I would have liked to have run my half in at least 2h30 but looking at the pace I’ve been doing lately, it’s going to be closer to 3h or even 3h30m and I feel really ashamed of that and I don’t know why. Maybe my inner competitiveness is rearing its ugly head.

    23. Not So NewReader

      Best. Getting some serious structural repairs done on my house. Am so very, very, very happy.

    24. AvonLady Barksdale

      Best: we had beautiful weather, and on Wednesday night we grilled outside for the first time and ate at our new outdoor dining table while the doggy zoomied around the backyard. Mosquito lamps kept the critters at bay. I had wine.

      Worst: I had to work every night this week, traveled to a client for a day, worked for several hours this weekend. Blech.

    25. LCL

      Worst: broke my big toe separating my dog and visiting dog from a food caused squabble.
      Best: vicodin!

  29. Rachel

    Hello all!

    I’m really glad this thread popped up today.

    On a usenet group I used to read, there was a saying: all hardware sucks, all software sucks. I’m reading reviews of moving companies online and coming to the conclusion that all movers may also suck, at least if they can handle cross-country moves. Basically, I’m trying to find a long-distance mover without major issues and coming up empty. Problems I have read about so far include: ‘they packed my furniture without any padding/protection whatsoever and it broke,’ ‘they stole my things,’ ‘they still have my things a month later and I have no idea if they will ever get delivered,’ and ‘surprise! $1000 more in charges!’

    Question 1: Is taking Yelp/etc. reviews seriously a bad idea? Are there other things I should be looking at more?

    Question 2: Did you do a cross-country move and have a good experience? Do you have a moving company to recommend? (I’m moving from Dallas to Seattle, if that helps.)

    I wish I could convince myself to sell all my things and just fly up there, but I inherited some furniture from my grandmother and I know I’d have regrets.

    Thank you for your time!

    Rachel

    1. BRR

      I did a 500 mile move and had a great experience. They moved everything out and in quickly. We’re nice and careful. I would try and find one who does it all and doesn’t drop your stuff off and another truck picks it up. It will cost more but I’d pay for the peace of mind.

    2. Treena Kravm

      Question 2:
      I’ve moved cross country and had a pretty good experience with a cube company (can’t remember the name, but there are lots of cheaper options other than PODS). It gives you a lot of flexibility in that you can keep it for a long time and fill it slowly. We ended up treating it like a regular move and hired movers to pack it. The reason we chose it is because we were flying out ahead of it to search for an apartment, so we didn’t have an address to send our things to. We were hoping/assuming we would by the time the truck made it out west, but in case we hadn’t found a place, it gives you the option of storing it for a daily or weekly fee. I think we chose the second least expensive cube with the cheapest daily fee. (the cheapest cube company had an outrageous storage fee and would have negated the savings if we needed to store).

      If I were you, I would make a list of all the furniture and stuff you absolutely can’t let go of, and move just that and any other really high-quality pieces you have. Anything that you paid less than $200-400, it’s not worth it to move.

      1. Christy

        Can you talk more about the advice to not move inexpensive furniture? I had imagined that my personal cutoff would be around $100, not $200-400. Why so high? I mean, when my girlfriend and I move to KC, we’re obviously not going to move the $30 Target bookcases, as those would add a ton of required space and they’re cheap. But the $150 desk? We’d planned on bringing that. Same with the $100 filing cabinet. (We’d not bring the handmedown sleeper sofa from my old rental, as it’s super heavy and just generally old. It’s great to get for nearly free but far too heavy to move that far.)

        I guess I’m curious as to your reasoning. Is it high-quality vs cheaply made? Is it cost of replacement? Something else?

        1. The IT Manager

          I’m torn. I’m doubtful $100 furniture is very sturdy (although I have some expensive furniture that didn’t hold up too well); it really depends on what it is.

          Moving is expensive enough* without having to replace furniture you left behind. How are you paying for the move? The AF used to measure by weight. My last move I paid for a a 26 foot truck and packing extra furniture in there was no extra cost to once as long as it fit in there.

          This new place is larger, but lacks some of the storage space I am used to so I am buying shelves and looking for some extra storage furniture for the kitchen – For a rental that I only plan to live in for a year.

        2. Treena Kravm

          I guess I should have clarified that below that price range, you should be taking a good, hard look at whether or not it’s worth it. It may well be worth it, but *really* think about it. For me, it’s that most of the bigger stuff I bought in that price range is something I would want to replace in the next 2-4 years, so why not get a jump start now? Especially if it’s something I don’t need ASAP. Bed, dresser, dining table/chairs, newer couch, those are the only things I would take even if they were going to be replaced, unless I was going to replace it upon arrival. Everything else you can basically live without until you find a higher-quality version.

          Things I brought:
          -a $100 something desk and regret it. I only did it because my mom bought it for me, and when I mentioned I was thinking of leaving it behind I got a soft, quiet, “Oh.” It’s definitely going next move.
          -an end table I bought for $40 that’s solid wood and the perfect shade, and another end table for $26. The perfect pair of nightstands $100 each. Because I really, really love them.

          Things I left behind:
          – futon, bought a new couch before our stuff even arrived
          – filing cabinet–all electronic for our records
          -Bookshelves, dining chairs, TV, dresser

      2. Rachel

        Thank you very much, Treena. I appreciate your perspective and advice! I was pretty excited about PODS-type things.. but 1. maneuvering one into a good spot in our rental house may be iffy, and 2. I got scared off by people commenting on water damage, rats living in the pods.. heh. I must be over-researching and focusing too much on the bad, because obviously people use these companies, have good experiences, etc. That’s on me. :)

        We’ve made that list. There’s a surprising amount of things on it, given that we’re in our 30s–that inherited furniture. *wry grin* But yeah, the IKEA-quality bookcases from fifteen years ago aren’t coming with. My desk may not be either, depending on how tomorrow’s shopping trip turns out. (I do love one thing about chains–I can shop down here, figure out what I want, and buy it up there once we’ve landed.)

        Thanks again!

        1. Treena Kravm

          You’re welcome! For 1, when you call, they’ll be able to tell you if they can get the pod in or not. That’s probably the #1 question they get. We put ours in the street in front of the house. We parked our cars in the spots the night before and moved them when the pods arrived to ensure we got our spot!
          2. Insurance is an absolute must. We shipped a bunch of expensive tech/musical equipment, so we purchased additional riders for expensive individual items, but the basic insurance wasn’t too bad at all. Anything that can’t be replaced monetarily, pack it in those big plastic tubs, or bring it with you on the plane.

          1. Marcela

            Depending where you are, you have to pay to put the pod in the street. In Massachusetts we needed to ask for permission and pay a small amount. Luckily we asked too to our building administration, and they let us put the pod in the parking lot for free.

    3. periwinkle

      Yeah, I was in that spot not long ago. We moved from DC to Seattle in stages – first me and everything I could pack into my car, then the occasional box shipped by my husband, then the cats, then more boxes, then my husband, and finally the moving container my husband had packed after I left.

      It helped that we moved very little furniture, of course, but we did have some. After a lot of angst-filled research on Yelp, Angie’s List, and random other places, I decided on Door To Door for the moving container (5’x7’x8′). You pack it, you lock it up, they stick it on a truck and drop it off at your new place (or at one of their storage locations). The price was reasonable (but unfortunately I’ve forgotten what it was) and their service was fine. We hired a Seattle-area moving service called Super Friends Moving to unload the container and haul everything up to our 3rd floor (no elevator) apartment. They were awesome and we hired them again for our conventional move across town to the house we recently bought (they were awesome again).

      This might not work too well if you have tons of stuff, but it worked great for us. And welcome to Seattle! I love love love this place.

      1. De Minimis

        We’ve done two cross country moves in less than a year, leaving one state and then returning to it. Never used movers, but at one point we did do ABF Relocubes and those were pretty good. But the cost really varies depending on the season, we were going to try them this time around and it was just too expensive.

        We used U-Haul trucks both times and I know people complain about them but we’ve never had a problem with them. I’m about to use their U-Box to get some additional items moved and we’ll see how that goes.

        This last time we actually each drove a U-Haul, and my dad followed in the car with our dogs.

      2. Rachel

        Thank you periwinkle! I love Seattle too. The thought of ending up there is what’s making all of this worthwhile right now. *grin*

        I can really relate to that angst-filled research. Thank you very much for letting me know about your experiences. I’ll look into Door To Door–Super Friends Moving looks great for sure (maybe for this move, maybe for the next! We’re renting for the first year, so it won’t be long. *shudder* :) )

    4. snuck

      I’m not sure how it works in the US, but in Australia I’ve done several interstate moves (west coast to east, then up and down the east coast between major cities)…

      I found there was a basic cost to show up and get my stuff and get it over the border (and it didn’t make much difference $ wise if it was east/west two to three days on a truck, or north/south 100km over a border!) … here it was about $800 for an uplift, and then $20 a carton/object… so the major cost of actually getting them to reserve me a truck and driver etc and deal with it all was the kicker, the adding of extra boxes then came down to deciding if it was worth the basic box price to move it. For most things it was – electronics, dinner sets, bedding etc – all far more than $20/box to replace at the other end. Not sure if costs in the US are similarly based.

      You could also look at backloading – find companies that move stuff the other way and have this follow you whenever they have a gap / empty space on the way back.

      Definitely pay for the insurance. Don’t even think about not paying…. And make it for the realistic value of replacement, if that’s what you’d do if it went missing in transit. And if you are really wanting it to be at the other end undamaged make sure you are there on the day they pick up – and have extra packing materials on hand if possible – spare bubble wrap or similar – ask for the entire item to be wrapped and all surfaces to be protected. The one time a move of mine went badly it was when I let a mover hassle me into no emptying my drawers and they fell apart at the other end from simply the weight of the clothes in them over 2,000km of roads.

      1. Rachel

        Very interesting. A lot of the places I’ve seen charge by weight, or by a byzantine combination of weight/movers’ time/shipping distance/time of year/phase of the moon, but I do need to get some good quotes before I can say that for certain. Re. backloading–that is an interesting idea!

        Thank you for the advice on insurance. I need to figure out if my renter’s insurance would cover damages, and if so, whether they or the movers would be more of a hassle to deal with. One of the common themes in complaints I’ve read about movers is how difficult it can be to convince them to honor their insurance promises–but I don’t know that my renter’s insurance would be any better. ;)

        I will definitely ask for all surfaces to be protected (and will try to have extra packing materials on hand). Thank you for sharing your experiences. I’ve had a move in the US where I definitely felt like I needed to stay out of the way and not slow the movers down (to my detriment), so I know the feeling. :)

        1. Treena Kravm

          Our insurance policy was through the moving company we hired to pack our cubes. I honestly don’t think I would ever pack a U-Haul or cube myself. They pack them so tightly and safely. If something breaks, it’s clearly because they didn’t pack it correctly. And that’s how it’s spelled out in the insurance, so claims will be pretty easy.

    5. TalleySueNYC

      I’ve never done that sort of move, so take this with a huge grain of salt.

      I think the thing I’d most worry about (esp. w/ those family furniture pieces) is whether the item would get damaged. Late, etc., I can cope with. But if I am paying for a mover because I have Great-grandma Adams’ mahogany “chester drawers,” I would cry so hard if it got damaged.

      But…my mother once *mailed* me an end table w/ spindly legs. It came totally fine; she took it to a Mailboxes Etc. and had them double-box it w/ tons of packing peanuts (table in one box packed *firmly* with peanuts; then that box into a slightly larger box w/ peanuts all around).

      So, you could always pack those incredibly valuable pieces into a larger box yourself. Then it’s less easy for the movers to damage them. That might take some of the anxiety away.

      Also, remember that people who are happy w/ the mover may not bother posting reviews, so…

      1. Rachel

        Yes, I feel the same–I want the pieces to arrive in as good shape as is possible, given the distance they’ll be traveling. Late is okay (I’ll be camping out in New Place for a few weeks regardless; what’s another few? :) )–it was the ‘no delivery date despite tons of calling’ that bothered me. Things do get lost, mis-delivered, and stolen, apparently.

        How cool that the table made it in one piece after being mailed! I have a few items I might try that with, actually–thank you so much for sharing. They’re delicate enough that I suspect a moving truck would kill ’em.

        And aye, you’re right about people who are happy generally not posting reviews unprompted. I’m probably giving too much weight to the bad ones, especially if they’re sparse.

    6. Ruffingit

      Moved from Oregon to Texas 13 years ago. North American Vanlines was horrible. Do not mess with them. They got my things here two weeks AFTER they’d promised to deliver, which meant I was sleeping on an air mattress for awhile and they didn’t bother to comp me anything for the trouble. They were rude on the phone and it was just a nightmare. I definitely recommend hiring a moving service and many are very good, but just stay away from North American.

      1. Rachel

        Thank you for your experience! I don’t think the two weeks would bother me too much compared to things delivered in good condition (though ask me again after I’ve been sharing an air mattress for an extra two weeks ;) ), but rudeness is no fun.

    7. The IT Manager

      Watch the people who pack. Make sure they use furniture blankets or other padding and wrap all the furniture especially the pieces from your grandmother. In my recent move, the boss was very enamored with furniture blankets. I ended up having to rent extra (I was providing truck and equipment myself). You can rent them from uhaul even if you don’t get a truck from them.

      1. Rachel

        Thank you very much!

        Silly question, but I’ve been wondering.. are furniture blankets basically just thin blankets?

        Oh, and by wrap, you mean with plastic, yes?

        1. Violet Rose

          When my mother moved, the blankets the movers used to wrap furniture and such were actually pretty thick! They were some durable, plain fabric with some padding underneath, like a very thin quilt or a sturdy picnic blanket. (Either of those would work as furniture blankets in a pinch, I’d imagne.)

          1. Not So NewReader

            Echoing Violet here- those furniture blankets are something you save and use over and over. Most recently, I used one to cover my tractor because the bitter cold was too much for the machine. (Yes, it worked.) And they do look more like a quilt than a blanket. I heard of one person lifting the hood and putting it under the hood of their car so it would start in the morning. Not so sure I would attempt that one, but the point is they are very useful.

        2. The IT Manager

          As others have said the furniture blankets are not very thin. What my mover did it was wrap the furniture in the blankets and then use plastic wrap around to make the blanket stick. All of my furniture blankets were rented from the U-Haul store and Penske (came in the truck) so we had to return them.

    8. Marcela

      6 month ago we moved from Boston to San Francisco. We also spent months reading reviews, and finally decided to use Door to Door and the small pod. We packed everything ourselves, and we were very worried about a few pieces of furniture, but we protected them with foam, towels, several duvet covers. We spent a lot of time making sure the boxes fitted perfectly, so they could not move or vibrate. The pod was given to us in time, they picked it up on time, and after the trip, they called to let us know the pod was in the city, and again, they left the pod at our new place when they said, the guy who brought it even left it in such a way that the door was right next to our house door, and they took it on time. The best part was that everything arrived intact: not even the glasses broke. We are very satisfied with the experience.

      Now, we took all the very important stuff, not furniture but jewels, clothes and gadgets, with us in our car. We drove from Boston and it was a fantastic trip. Now we want to do it again :D

      1. Rachel

        You’re the second person to have used Door to Door. I’m definitely going to have to check them out.

        That’s wonderful. Congratulations on a successful move–it sounds like you put a lot into it!

        Wish I could drive.. I have two older cats who /hate/ the car, though (five-minute trip to the vet? Non-stop caterwauling!), so to minimize the stress on them I’m going to fly and bring them on with me (the airlines call them ‘cabin pets,’ which makes me smile for some weird reason). I’ll ship some of my jewelry separately and bring some of it on the ‘plane, I suppose.

        That must have been a great road trip. :)

        1. Marcela

          We drove because we were just the two of us then. It was great, except we traveled very fast, almost stopping only for lunch (but we reserved a day for the Great Canyon). A couple of extra days would have been super, but my husband had to start working at a very specific date, so…

          Now it would be impossible to do the same trip, we adopted our fur baby as soon as our new home was ready. And oh, how he hates the car. For his first check, he was crying so loud people in other cars could hear him and looked at us! :D If I want to have nightmares, I think about moving with him… A friend of mine moved his two cats from Chile to Canada, and they arrived safe and sound. I would be terrified.

      1. Rachel

        Thank you; I appreciate it. (Also, I appreciate your username. I now have something new to investigate! :) )

    9. skyline

      I’ve done two interstate moves and had good experiences both times. I’m single, and not able to move heavy items on my own, so it made sense for me to hire people who could do it for me! (So, no PODS, anything like that.) It’s certainly not cheap, though!

      I did a lot of research on the message boards of MovingScam.com. I focused on looking for movers who had made the trip that I was planning on making – so looking at other MI to CA reviews when I did that move. In general, look at reviews for companies based where you are (so, Dallas) rather than where you are going. Their articles on identifying reputable companies were really helpful, too.

      1. Rachel

        Right, I’m resigned to paying a large amount for this–that’s life. I’m just trying to find someone trustable to execute the move. Thanks for the tips! :)

  30. Trixie

    Brainstorming ideas for college graduation gifts. So far includes everything from AAM’s electronic books/resume review to one-year’s membership to Costco/Amazon Prime/local CSA to Roth IRA with initial deposit. What was your favorite gift to receive, or give? New laptop? Camping gear for outdoorsy type? Gym membership?

    1. BRR

      It depends what the person needs. The job guide book is a great idea. The Roth IRA would probably be the best. If they’re not fiscally responsible though don’t. Covering a couple student loan payments would be nice.

    2. Emily

      A lot of people gave me money when I graduated college, but my aunt actually asked me to give her a list of things that I might want, and ended up getting me a few nice knives.

      I can see any of your ideas being good, depending on what the person is like/wants, but if you’re not sure, I would definitely consider asking the graduate (or someone close to them, if you want to keep your gift a surprise).

      1. Trixie

        I’m actually putting together a list for parents in general with general suggestions. And so much depends on the individual and available budget which is probably pretty limited. Household items are great but with roommates often involved things get damaged or broken. I do remember my mom give me a wonderful starter pack of fresh herbs/spices from Penzey’s which is perfect for someone’s new place who likes or is interested in cooking.

    3. C Average

      My go-to gift for anyone remotely outdoorsy (which is practically everyone I know) is a national parks or national forest pass for their region. It enables them to park free at national parks or recreation areas, camp and backpack in those areas, etc. People tell me they enjoy getting this gift and it prompts them to find ways to actually get out and use it.

    4. the gold digger

      Cash. I wanted cash. Although I did not expect anyone but my parents to give me a graduation gift. And that is what they gave me. :)

      (I just sent $100 to my niece as her college graduation gift.)

    5. Stephanie

      My favorite gift was airfare to Paris (from my aunt). Admittedly, I did know where I was moving after school, so that made it easier. She had the stipulation that I had to pay for everything else (lodging, food, etc) and cover the change fees if I needed to change the dates. It was definitely somewhere I wouldn’t have gone on my own.

      For a grad, I’d say cash. That or the stuff you’d find on a wedding registry (appliances, sheets, etc). I think that stuff is needed more right after graduation (or when someone moves into a new place post-school) than at wedding time.

    6. Stephanie

      Oh, another one. Decent luggage! It is totally not an exciting gift, but it’s one of those things I’d never think to spend money on (even though I had dragged the same misshapen bag with a broken wheel and busted zippers all throughout school). If this person camps or is outdoorsy, I’d say a good daypack or camping bag.

      1. Ruffingit

        Totally agree on the decent luggage set. You can get a ton of use out of that for many years. I’d also say a set of really good towels, the ones that are pricey, but last forever. Nothing like having a small bit of luxury like that when you can’t yet afford it for yourself.

      2. Ann Furthermore

        Luggage is a great gift. There is a Samsonite line at Kohl’s that are hard-sided bags with the 360 wheels, so you can just roll it along beside you instead of having to pull it. They’re lightweight too. Ther s are 3 sizes, my medium sized one was about $160. If you buy more than 1, you can get a $50 rebate.

      3. Blue_eyes

        Luggage is a great gift for someone about to move away to college! The first time I had my own luggage was for college, and I’m still using it now (10 years later).

      1. snuck

        I think that maybe a voucher with that as a suggestion? Or if it’s a close family member maybe… It’s best to go in and try suits on, different ones look different on different frames etc and you want soemthing you feel confident in.

        But you could suggest a shopping or make up consultant to help you choose?

    7. TalleySueNYC

      I once wanted to put together a “reference library for adulting.” I’d have to get them all used to be able to afford them, but I’m down with that!
      A book on:
      – job hunting
      – etiquette
      – investing and money management
      – home repair
      – home cleaning (either “Home Comforts” or Martha Stewart’s book; maybe also the new “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” for decluttering.)
      – a basic or introductory cookbook (depending the skill level, if I could find it out)
      – medical things (like, how to tell if you need a doctor, etc.; though the Mayo Clinic’s website is pretty good, and theirs is the book I’d probably recommend; plus, “kids today” usually go online)

    8. fposte

      Just remember that they’re only eligible for an IRA if they’ve had earned income that year.

    9. ThursdaysGeek

      A tool set: regular and phillips screwdrivers, pliers, small crescent wrench, good scissors, a hammer. Those are things everyone needs, and no-one thinks to get.

  31. Calla

    Well, in light of some more negative wedding comments, I’ll share a good one (I hope!).

    We’ve been engaged since December 2013 and finding an affordable venue was super stressful; we got one finally, but then a few months later we found out there was a major dealbreaker that they had not made us aware of (and kind of let us to believe was not the case). So, the wedding is June this year, and this was like January of this year. We were kind of resolved to just living with the venue. Last month, after a bunch of random google searches, we happened upon the perfect venue.

    So basically, three months before the wedding, we transformed everything–and it’s been working wonderfully! The new venue is a park that allows us to reserve it for just $50 and we’ll be having a picnic reception. Everyone we’ve told (prior to sending out invites) remarked that it sounded lovely and we are thrilled. A professional photog friend is coming from NY to do the photography. We booked our JP, who totally gets us. Invites went out a couple weeks ago and we’re already starting to get RSVPs. We have a family member offer to make the cupcakes (and hers are delicious) so that expense has disappeared. I had my dress fitting earlier this week. Then last night, my fiancee’s mom called–she works at an herb/flower garden and when the owners heard she needed time off for her daughter’s wedding, they offered to make our flowers as a gift!

    Obviously, we’ll see how it all ends up, but I feel like letting go and simplifying and letting family and friends help (normally I HATE asking for help) is going to result in a more stress-free, beautiful wedding. And it’s all going to cost a *couple* thousand versus the average of like $30,000. And when I listen to my coworker talk about his giant 300+ guest wedding coming up in May, I get to enjoy that I don’t have to deal with any of the drama they are dealing with :) So any of you who will be planning weddings soon… keep that in mind!

    1. Emily

      Congratulations on your new venue, and good luck with your wedding! It’s wonderful that you know so many people who are willing to help you. :)

    2. GOG11

      Congratulations!! When I got married, people very graciously offered their talents or services in lieu of gifts (i.e., a good family friend offered to make alterations on my dress) and it really made a big difference in the end budget-wise – and it was nice to feel that my dress was altered by someone I really care about.

      Wishing you luck on your big day and happiness for you and your fiancee for the road ahead!

    3. Ruffingit

      Congratulations! You are so right about stress-free being the way to go as well as letting others pitch in and help. Weddings are one of those things where the village likes to be a part of it so allowing them to help is your gift to them in a way. I love it. Enjoy your beautiful day and may you and your fiancee have many happy and wonderful years together!

    4. LisaS

      Plus, asking/letting your friends and family help in concrete ways makes the whole celebration better – they’re happy to give you something meaningful & everything is more personal when it comes with a story. Wins all the way around! And congratulations…

  32. Sunflower

    Do you think it’s harder to find a relationship in a large or small city? I live in a big city but I know a lot of people on here have said they don’t online date because there is no one and their town is so small they’ve run through all their options- that totally sucks and I would probably give up too if I ran into this.

    But I also hear about how hard it is to find someone in a large city and I can’t help but agree. Dating and meeting people is easy but getting it to stick is impossible. I feel like people know there are so many other options out there that they either don’t really put forth effort or they don’t want to settle down- I laugh because while I complain, I have also been 100% guilty of doing this a few times.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Nothing really to do with what you’re asking but: I live in a not that big a city and I find it quite funny when I see people’s profile picture where I can tell exactly where in the city they are when they took the picture,

    2. BRR

      Much more difficult in a small city. My situation was I’m gay and so it was a smaller pool but I felt like I literally ran out of people.

    3. Trixie

      I’d say small city based purely on the limited population. I’ve considered a small city that’s perfect for retirees or marrieds but its extremely limited options if you’re single and don’t have children. A larger population just provides more options of meeting friends, workout buddies, potential dates, either directly or through other friends. Plus a larger pool gives you more options if you need to move to a different social circle.

    4. Dynamic Beige

      I think it’s hard no matter where you are for different reasons. If you live in a small town/low population area/home town, there isn’t much choice/you’ve known everyone since high school. If you live in a large metropolitan area, it can seem like there’s no reason to settle because there’s limitless choice! New people moving here all the time! A new club to go to every night!

      I know four couples who met on trains or planes. If they hadn’t been sitting beside each other, they never would have met. I don’t think there’s a single person alive who if you could tell them when exactly they would meet The Person Right For Them wouldn’t pay good money for that information. But it doesn’t work that way. It’s that whole definition of luck = preparation meeting opportunity.

      1. Stephanie

        I know four couples who met on trains or planes.

        That actually happens in real life?! I had a friend who got a date from a guy she met on the Metro (and let her share his umbrella), but that didn’t go anywhere

        1. Dynamic Beige

          M & D, commuter train. She was reading a German newspaper, being on a work exchange from that country. He asked her about it, wound up playing tour guide, they got married when she went back, last I heard, they’re still there.

          K & E, both going home from different colleges for the holidays.

          Uh-oh, my brain is failing… J met her husband [whose name escapes me] on a plane, coming back from a business trip, they were the oldest couple out of the bunch. And I am drawing a blank on the last one… ’cause I’m all old and stuff.

          I honestly think that unless you marry your childhood sweetheart there is an element of luck/fate that is in there, even then, that requires some degree of amazing luck and coincidence. It’s like that movie Sliding Doors where the character played by Gweneth Paltrow experiences two different lives simply by missing the subway. You can never know that if you’d left the party a half hour later, or signed up for online dating one week earlier, picked the restaurant on the left instead of the right, caught that subway, missed that flight… paths not taken that would have gone somewhere else.

          1. Trixie

            One of my favorite movies of all time, Sliding Doors. Luck/fate is in another favorite, Stranger Than Fiction with Will Farrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal,

        2. Treena Kravm

          My parents met on a nyc bus in the early 80’s! My mom would talk to her sister in their native language and my dad listened every day because he couldn’t figure out the language. One day, my aunt was on the bus but my mom was on vacation, and my dad asked my aunt if she was ok, and the rest is history.

        3. Mallory Janis Ian

          Years ago, my grandparents (who grew up in the same small town) were contacted by a friend they had grown up with. She would be traveling through their area with her husband and wanted to meet for dinner to catch up.

          She and her husband told the story of how they had met: she was eighteen and ran away from her strict parents by taking a greyhound bus out of town in the middle of the night. He was a passenger on the bus, and they got to talking and playing cards. That same night, they decided that they would get off the bus and get married at the next town they came to, which they did. And they were still married, lo those many years later!

    5. snuck

      I’d say that it’s possible to run out of options in small towns for sure, but it’s also very possible to know who is who and what you are getting in to as well… so there’s less chance of dating someone who won’t work out if you keep your head about you because you have a really good idea who the person is already.

      It’s harder to hook up or be casual in small towns, a lot more sticky beaks/less privacy… maybe the anonymity of the larger cities decreases people’s self inhibition with this stuff? They are more likely to hook up because it’s anonymous than if they were going to be faced with it again?

      I don’t know if it’s harder or easier in a large city – I’ve lived in large cities (Sydney and Melbourne) mid sized ones (Brisbane and Perth) and small towns (rural WA) and it’s been hard in them all … different reasons. Small towns everyone knows what’s going on and talks about it – if you aren’t serious you don’t mess with your reputation/encourage the gossip mongers, and the pool to choose from is smaller – you have to make concessions up front about people you mightn’t make in the city (but then often you find there’s some really nice people too who just don’t look city beautiful but the core of them is wonderful). I haven’t really dated much in small towns – I married a farmer … but I’ve got friends who are doing the whole trying to meet people thing out here. Large towns there’s always a new shiny over there… to go with your new iDevice and your upgrade of your mobile phone… many other fish in the sea becomes the distraction? And lots of falseness, people pretending (intentionally or not) to be something, and you have to get to know who they really are.

  33. Windchime

    I am not a person who usually wears dresses, so I was a little stressed out that I needed to shop for a dress to wear to a wedding that’s coming up. I’m overweight as well, so I wasn’t looking forward to the shopping trip at all. I had decided that I would try to find a “little black dress” (in a big size, hahah).

    And guess what. I look pretty darn good in a dress. I found one that is really, really nice and was under $100. Yay! Now all I have to do is find shoes.

  34. C Average

    So, as part of my research for my book, I’m attempting to live like it’s 1969. I’m only using the internet at scheduled times and for particular things, I’m only consuming media (books, movies, music) that existed in 1969, I’m trying to limit myself to technology that existed in 1969, etc. It’s pretty crazy and kind of fun.

    Of course, the ultimate irony is that I’m constantly jumping online for a few minutes to Google things like “did microwaves exist in 1969?” and “was whole-bean coffee available in 1969?” and “when were digital watches invented?”

    1. Calla

      What’s been the most surprising answer so far?

      I had to google last night whether Gatorade existed in the 70s and was surprised to learn that yes, it did, and was in fact introduced in the 60s!

      1. C Average

        I think the most surprising thing actually was digital watches! They weren’t invented until 1972 and didn’t become widely available and affordable for a number of years after that. My main character is a runner, and I wanted to make sure I was accurately describing the way he tracked his pace and distance.

        I feel like I actually should’ve known this. I was born in 1973 and remember getting a digital wristwatch when I was around 9 or 10 and thinking it was a Really Big Deal.

        Also, I was amazed to discover that string cheese was invented in 1976.

        1. CrazyCatLady

          This must be fascinating research! I’m surprised string cheese was invented that long ago!

          I was just looking into when lighters were invented because I saw a movie from 1971 where everyone used matches. They were actually invented way before then! I guess they weren’t in common use yet though.

          1. LD

            Matches were often giveaways at bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. Lighters had to be filled and refilled with lighter fluid. So yes, people used lighters even many years before, but matches were very common.

        2. Steve G

          I thought food choice would be most surprising. I’m younger than you, so wouldn’t really know, but my guess is that dinner would definitely be more along the lines of pot roast with mashed potatoes, white bread, and a plain vegetable, as opposed to a 2015-esque meal, such as salmon with feta and risotto, with guacamole as a starter

          1. C Average

            I have a couple of ’60s-era church cookbooks I’ve picked up at thrift stores and garage sales. When it comes to determining how people actually eat at any given time, I’ve found no better resource than church cookbooks!

            There seem to be a lot of casseroles, with cream-of-mushroom soup featuring prominently in many of them. And yes, lots of meat and potatoes. Fish, too, but what kind of fish depended a bit more on where you lived. At least that’s the vibe I get.

            1. StillHealing

              My son loves it and when we have it in the house.. I have to be careful or I’ll finish the box!

              1. StillHealing

                Oops..the above post was meant for a different section! Sorry!

                But a comment for 60-70’s foods… Casseroles, you nailed it. We also made and ate a lot of Jello and pudding. Schwann’s I think started delivery in the late 60’s maybe?

        3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          Setting analog watches is a pain the ass.

          Receiving a watch was a big gift to a kid and a rite of passage that you were now old enough to be responsible to have one.

          Timex – takes a licking and keeps on ticking! << google that for the the print ads and television ads.

          Setting the analog watches was a pain. If you had one with a month/date on it, even more a pain. You could sit and spin them for quite awhile to get them set just right, if you cared about the minute. You weren't supposed to spin backwards, so if you overshot in setting, you had to go round the dial all over again.

          If you need luggage – Samsonite!

    2. danr

      Did you find bell bottom trousers (worn by both men and women)? How about an 8 track tape player? Many of them came as part of a radio/stereo player. This would be a good time to read Seven Days in May. It’s still relevant (imho). Movies were seen in theaters and the TV should be black and white. Most folks didn’t have color. Most of the music was on 33’s and cassette tape (and those 8 track tapes). Whole bean coffee was around, since you could buy the manual grinders. And get a coffee percolator, filters or a french press were exotic. And remember the byword: Plastic.

      1. Sweetheart of the Rodeo

        And we were still trying to convince our dad to have a car with a radio in it. BUT… the music!!

        1. C Average

          The music was to die for. I actually do know this! My parents have a wonderful collection of ’60s and ’70s era vinyl, mostly folkie stuff–Dylan, Baez, the Byrds, Joni Mitchell. When I was little my dad had one of those huge reel-to-reel decks and a couple big boxes of mix tapes he’d made while on board the U.S.S. Parsons during his stint in the Navy. I loved playing them and seeing what was on them. My dad tended to be a bit unapproachable, but talking music and stereo equipment was a surefire way to get some attention from him.

          (I have devoted an embarrassing amount of time to figuring out what music will be on the soundtrack when I write the screenplay AFTER I’ve written the novel. The big seduction scene will occur to the strains of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown.”)

          1. Carrie in Scotland

            Or you could have the music ‘soundtrack’ the book some way? I like lists, so at the end you could have a list of the music to compliment reading the book/each chapter.

            1. C Average

              Oh, this would be SO FUN to make!

              Here’s what immediately comes to mind:

              Joni Mitchell–You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio
              Bob Dylan–You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
              Neil Young–Four Strong Winds
              Judy Collins–Thirsty Boots
              Grateful Dead–Uncle John’s Band
              Creedence Clearwater Revival–Fortunate Son
              The Band–The Wait
              Dusty Springfield–Son of a Preacher Man
              Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young–Teach Your Children
              Cat Stevens–Wild World
              Doobie Brothers–Jesus is Just Alright
              Neil Diamond–Song Sung Blue
              Gordon Lightfoot–Sundown
              Emmylou Harris–Boulder to Birmingham

              There’ll be lots more! This is just my top-of-mind list.

              1. fposte

                Though there’d also be a ton of Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye; there’s also plenty of silly stuff that people don’t think of as classics–Crimson and Clover, Judy in Disguise, Honey, that kind of thing, so remember there’s some survivorship bias and that plenty of the music *wasn’t* to die for.

                Is the book literally set in 1969? I think some on your list are a little late for 1969–Sundown is 1974, Boulder to Birmingham is 1975, and Wild World is 1970. And of course what actually came out in 1969 is only a sliver of the music of the time–stuff from previous years would still be important. If you haven’t watched China Beach, the music alone would be worth it for you.

                1. C Average

                  It starts in 1969 and continues to (almost) the present time. So the soundtrack is meant to convey that whole period.

                  China Beach . . . might have to check that out!

                2. C Average

                  . . . and also, my list would skew heavily toward the folkie side and probably leave out a lot of canonical stuff from the period. I was raised by hippies and my musical taste very much reflects it! My parents met in the Bay Area in 1969 while my dad was stationed with the Navy at Treasure Island, and they were total hippie cliches.

                  There definitely needs to be some Simon & Garfunkel on that list. I think I wore out their “Concert in Central Park” double album as a kid.

                3. fposte

                  You should watch China Beach just on general principle, because it’s awesome. But I also think you’d find it helpful as context, too.

              2. 15.385 steps / octave

                Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention started in 1964.

                Deep Purple started in 1968. But their big hit single didn’t happen until 1971.

                Jefferson Airplane started in 1965. “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love” are from Surrealistic Pillow released in 1967.

                Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? was released in 1967 and contained “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze” (which was based on Philip Jose Farmer’s 1966 novel Night of Light); Hendrix died in Sept 1970.

                The Doors started in 1965. Jim Morrison died in 1971.

                Also, do a wikipedia search on Sunshine Pop and you’ll find lots, lots more.

                Don Buchla began making synthesizers in Berkeley in 1963.
                Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon was released in 1967.
                Robert Mood began making synthesizers in New York circa 1965.
                Wendy Carlos’ Switched On Bach was released in 1968.

                Most home audio systems were stereo, non-portable, and used 12″ vinyl recordings or the radio as their primary inputs. Some people used reel-to-reel tape recorders to record and play back music. Some radio station DJs would actually queue up a record and say “start your recorder now“.

                (I still remember my wife telling someone that she spent 1969 with her aunt in Arizona because her mom had to go to San Francisco to “work”. Just a casual remark that went in one ear and was almost completely out the other before my brain (warped from countless hours with The Furry Freak Brothers and Zap and S. Clay Wilson and Robert Crumb and other underground comic artists of that era) made the connection).

        2. danr

          We always had a radio. I remember some of the the buttons settings for NYC area: 710 (wor), 770 (wabc), 880 (cbs) and wqxr (don’t remember the frequency).

      2. C Average

        Yeah, the fashions were . . . something else.

        My characters are pretty much all runners or religious people, which makes wardrobe a little easier. The runners all wear split shorts, cotton t-shirts, singlets, tube socks, and imported racing flats from Tiger Onitsuka and adidas. (I have an acquaintance who was an Olympic 1500-meter runner in that era and I asked her about sports bras. She told me none of the women bothered wearing bras at all, because they were so flat-chested they didn’t need them! “We taped our nipples to avoid chafing, just like the men,” she told me.)

        I have never heard of “Seven Days in May.” I’ll check it out! Thanks.

        1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

          I think so.

          Cassette tapes were around in the late 1960’s but I don’t think music was released on them.

          1969 was vinyl LPs with cover art/inside nearly as important as the music that was inside.

          1. LisaS

            78s! With the little plastic doohickey so that you could play them on the same portable record player you used for LPs.

              1. ThursdaysGeek

                Right. The 78s were almost as big as the LPs, but were thicker and heavier. We had a stereo system that had 78, 45, 33, and 16, but no records that used the 16 speed. It was fun putting a record on the wrong speed, or switching speeds while it was playing.

          2. danr

            Music on tape was released on 8 track tapes. It took a professional to record to them, so the music companies felt safe. I learned what an attenuating patch cord was when I started taping to cassettes through the headphone jack.

      3. Mephyle

        There was a time when colour TVs existed as an expensive cutting-edge novelty, and hardly anyone had them at all, because why would you discard your perfectly good black and white TV, and besides, hardly any shows were in colour. Then, as more people gradually got colour TVs, more shows started filming in colour, and for a time, there was a little logo on each colour show in the TV Guide (remember the TV Guide?) to indicate that it was in colour! until at some point, nothing was in black and white any more, so they didn’t have to mark the shows that were in colour.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      1969. I was 8.

      Nothing was more important than the nightly news in 1969. The world was exploding. There were new explosions every day and everything stopped to watch the nightly news.

      Vietnam, culture explosion in the US, the damn hippies (Woodstock was 1969), civil rights, Cold War, drugs, protests, Women’s Liberation, moon landing…. you watched the Nightly News to find out what went to hell or advanced where you never dreamed that particular day.

      We watched Huntley-Brinkely instead of Cronkite, I don’t know why. But you stopped and watched the news.

      Imagine the world I was born into in 1961 and how much it changed by the time I was 8 in 1969.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

        Also, I cannot over emphasize what the length of a man’s hair, and how you felt about the length of a man’s hair, said about you.

        You guys think I’m exaggerating because, hello, how much else was going on then right? How important could that be? Our culture in flames, soldiers dying in Vietnam, and THAT was on the top 10? But it really was.

      2. ThursdaysGeek

        We didn’t get a TV until the 70s, and when we did, there were only 2 channels. A third channel was added shortly before I graduated, in 1980. I don’t think if I was even aware that TV came in color.

        1. Not So NewReader

          We laughed at the idea of paying for tv shows or paying for water. My how times have changed.
          We had two tvs by the 70s. One was a little GE, I think. The picture would roll and roll. You had to slap the tv HARD on the right front corner and the picture would stop rolling. I did a happy dance the day we got rid of the old Magnavox tv. My husband called them “maggot boxes”. As a technical person he had nothing but contempt for the poor picture quality. I never had a color tv until I got married.

          In the early 70s, I remember a friend called and said the phone call was coming over radio signals. I hung up. I was not sure what that meant and I got a little scared. (Am shaking my head.)

    4. LCL

      How much effort was involved in seeing someone on the sly, and the missed connections. Pre-cellphone, you had to drag the long phone cord into a corner at home, or go on an adventure to the corner store to use the payphone. No answering machines or voicemail either.

    5. E

      Post it notes weren’t a thing until the 80s, just in case you’re using them for notes for your book.

  35. De Minimis

    I haven’t read KAVALIER AND CLAY in a long time, like since it first came out. I should check it out again.

    Did you read THE YIDDISH POLICEMENS’ UNION? I enjoyed that one an awful lot.

    1. littlemoose

      I really liked The Yiddish Policeman’s Union. I’ll admit that I gave up on The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay pretty early, but I still have it and might consider taking another crack at it. Although I have so many half-read books right now…

    2. The IT Manager

      I really enjoyed The Yiddish Policeman’s Union, but I haven’t read Kavalier and Clay yet. I did just check and my library offers it in hardcover or eBook. It’s going on the To Read list, but it’s a really long list.

    3. Carrie in Scotland

      I loved both of them when I read them, some years ago now. I think Yiddish Policemens’ won out overall.

      Keep the excellent book recommendations coming!

    4. Sara

      I really liked Telegraph Avenue as well, but I actually haven’t read Kavalier and Clay or Yiddish Policeman’s Union.

      1. Turanga Leela

        All three are just great. I was skeptical about Yiddish Policeman’s Union, but it was the first of Michael Chabon’s books that I read, and it made me a fan. Kavalier and Clay is, if anything, even better. I keep thinking I should read Chabon’s older stuff.

  36. Not wanting to celebrate a birthday

    My 50th birthday is coming up in little more than a week. Family members are attempting to make me feel guilty that I do not want to celebrate it. For too many and complicated reasons to get into, I do not feel like celebrating right now. I can’t really explain it to them, nor do I feel I should have to. I have heard various things like, “You are a party-pooper”, “Everyone turns 50, if they’re lucky”, “I’m having a big blow-out for my 50th”, “But you’re my oldest child”, and so on. Do these matter? Should I celebrate because they want to, even though I don’t want to? Is my birthday really about others and not me, and do my own feelings on it really not matter? I’ve been avoiding everyone because I am tired of the topic. Would love others’ thoughts, as well as any advice for shutting down the talk once and for all.

    1. Soupspoon McGee

      “The best gift you could give me is a low-key day.”

      For your mother: “If you want to have a party, have one, but do it for yourself. Don’t use me as an excuse.” But maybe more diplomatically :-).

      For friends who can’t imagine NOT having a milestone celebration: It’s not about them. Avoid them for a month if you have to.

      Your birthday is not on the list of community events like weddings, bar mitzvahs, graduations, or funerals that are about people coming together to celebrate, connect, and support the person of honor. And one could argue that even those events (depending on culture) really call for compromise in favor of the celebrant.

      1. Not wanting to celebrate a birthday

        ‘For your mother: “If you want to have a party, have one, but do it for yourself. Don’t use me as an excuse.” But maybe more diplomatically :-). ‘

        That is totally what it is, too! She wants the family together more, which I understand, and uses birthdays as the primary reason.

    2. TalleySueNYC

      There’s always, “Please don’t pressure me about this.”
      And, “You know, I’d like to ask you to stop. I realize I’ve been avoiding you all, simply because I’m tired of talking about this, and tired of all the pressure. Could we please just drop it?”

      My husband threw a surprise 40th. That was so much fun. A 50th would simply have been a disappointment.

      Another tactic: Decide how -you- want to celebrate, including as many people -truly- close to you as you can. Then announce that you are taking charge of your own party, and everybody is invited to join you for, oh, let’s say a round of mini golf and for root beer floats after. Or to join you on your city’s carousel. Or for a walk through the botanical garden, and cookies after.
      Pick something that is joyful, even in a small way.

      Of course, my examples may not work, given the season where you are, but something like that. Even maybe you just invite a few people over for sloppy joes and a few board games, and then maybe you go to a coffee shop for pancakes with your parents–more than one celebration.

      But the idea is that you actually -do- something–just not the thing most people would imagine. It’s not an official birthday anything; it’s just a chance to get together than you’re using the birthday as a “tickler” for. It’s all in the label; slap a “birthday celebration!” on anything, and they’ll have to shut up.
      Bcs then you can say, “But this is how *I* want to mark my birthday. Isn’t it my birthday?”
      But yes, is it YOUR birthday, and you can just say, “Please, don’t pressure me about this.”

      1. Not wanting to celebrate a birthday

        I also had a surprise 40th, which was wonderful. I’ve already told certain family members if they try to throw a surprise 50th, I will turn around and walk out the door. I am not kidding.

        So many things have changed for me in the past 10 years. Some good, most not so good. I could never have envisioned that I would be where I am today. The best, most joyful thing for me right now is to continue the tiny steps I am making to change things. Just a normal day with nothing big or eventful that will upset the balance.

        I may feel like doing something in the future. My sister has a friend who did not want to celebrate her 40th last year, but threw a big blow-out “40th” birthday party this year for her 41st.

    3. nep

      I am with you 100 percent. My family knows I don’t observe birthdays and never want any kind of celebration. I’m closing in on a sort of milestone birthday myself and it is a concern that some people lack respect and just the good sense to let things be and take my word for it that I don’t do birthdays.
      Re your question — I say, no, your birthday is not about others. In my view it all comes down to respect — simply respecting your wishes.
      Hear, hear — the best ‘gift’ or celebration anyone could give is a low-key day, a quiet day, time to do as one pleases.

      1. Not wanting to celebrate a birthday

        My family knows this about me, too, yet I get this grief every year. This year it’s even worse, I suppose, because it’s a “milestone” birthday.

        1. nep

          Truly it’s a little mind-boggling to me. I mean, what is the big issue, people? It is what it is — get over it.

    4. Dan

      I went through that same sh!t with my ex for my 30th birthday, which was only a few years ago. That incident is a symptom of a larger personality disorder that is a huge, huge reason why we are no longer together.

      Your life is about you, and if you have one, your spouse. Nobody else (other than your boss) gets to tell you what to do. This is going to sound ironic, but people who don’t respect your wishes, don’t get a say in how you live your life.

      When other people have milestone events to celebrate, my thought is always “if you’re having a ‘public’ gathering, I’d like to be there to help you celebrate. If you’re just doing a private thing, then please accept my warmest wishes on your happy occasion.” It really makes no difference to me if it’s private vs open.

      Depending on the situation, sometimes the only way you can shut it down is to sever ties with that person. If they can’t respect your wishes, then that’s about your only option. Please note that I don’t say that lightly, and I don’t recommend that as a first choice.

      1. Not wanting to celebrate a birthday

        Yes, it really is about a certain personality that sees things in one way and cannot imagine there is another way to see the same thing. Thus, I am a “party pooper”. In reality, I enjoy a good party as much as anyone, but I really have no interest in being the center of attention for an event that I had nothing to do with, other than being born.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      My dad just turned 60 the week before last and he didn’t want a big thing.
      We just had a meal with family & friends – there was about 12 or so of us – at a restaurant he likes. He really appreciated it (he just thought it was a family meal so well pleased when several friends turned up).

      1. Not wanting to celebrate a birthday

        I don’t even want to do a family meal, which is what is being pushed now that I’ve squashed the idea of anything bigger. I love my family and enjoy spending time with them, but I am just now up for a birthday celebration for me right now.

        Another family member has a birthday coming up, and I am honored to be invited to his party and will celebrate. To me, it’s all about the wishes of the person with the birthday. I don’t want a celebration for me right now.

    6. Not wanting to celebrate a birthday

      Thank you all for understanding where I am coming from and for the advice. I am going to call the most insistent person today and use some of these strategies. I will explain that when someone chooses to celebrate their birthday, if I am invited I am honored to celebrate with them. But at the same time, one who chooses not to celebrate should not be forced or made to feel bad.

      I do not even want to acknowledge my birthday. I may or may not have dinner out with my spouse. I am struggling with depression right now. I do not know if it is clinical or circumstantial (the many and complicated reasons referenced above) and I think forced frivolity to celebrate me will cause me to backslide on the minor progress I have made so far. Getting out of bed and going to work with enthusiasm takes everything I have. However. I finally stopped my destructive eating habits and am beginning to care about my health and well-being. I feel like I am on the edge and could go either way right now, and I do not want to tip back.

    7. Sunflower

      you should totally do whatever you want- isn’t that the point of your birthday??!! I think you should say something that asserts you don’t want anything but also thank them for thinking of you. Something that starts with ‘Thanks so much, I appreciate you guys wanting to do something’ and ends with either ‘but I’d really prefer to just not do anything’ or ‘I already have plans to spend the day alone just relaxing.’

    8. Elder Dog

      Tell everyone you’re going somewhere you’ve always wanted to for your birthday, and get coy about where. Then stay home with your favorite foods and beverages. Or not. Try a “suites” type motel nearby. Take pictures of the motel room, and dinner with a candle in a cupcake and text them to family and friends.

  37. GOG11

    I posted last week asking for recommendations on where to shop for tall, learn guys for slacks/trousers and button-down shirts. So the boyfriend and I went shopping today for new work clothes. He wears a 30 inch waist and 34 inch inseam. We went to Express, J Crew, H&M, and Nordstrom Rack (about all that was in the area that we knew of). We discovered that nearly no one carries 30/34 in stores, but we did find one pair at Nordstrom Rack (he didn’t like them, though).

    We got 5 shirts from Express (extra slim fit) and ordered two pairs of pants from there. I grabbed pants with 30 waist and pants with a 34 inseam and we’re hoping that the two combined into the one pair will fit. I know some suggested tailoring last week and he didn’t really have anything nice enough worth tailoring in the first place and not enough time to buy new clothes and get them tailored before starting his new job. Maybe that’s something to pursue in the future if I can convince him (he’s pretty change averse and hates dealing with clothes).

    We also got a few ties, some new socks (patterned ones!), and a new pair of shoes as the old ones were about a decade old. Unlike the shirts and pants, those things were delightfully easy to find.

    1. danr

      Take a look at LL Bean and Land’s End. Both offer casual and dress pants in 30 waist and 34 inseam. At Land’s End, the inseams come in fractions of an inch, which I have found helpful. LL Bean has a guaranteed return within a year.

      1. GOG11

        Those stores weren’t around, but I’m hoping to check this out and a few of the suggestions from last week online soon. Maybe he’d like that better because he’d only have a pair or two to try on at a time (rather than the 15 or so he tried on today). I looked in last week’s thread and didn’t see this suggestion, but I think I read that somewhere while I was researching where to shop but I’d forgotten. Thank you for the tip!

    2. littlemoose

      If you’re ok with shopping online, I believe Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic carry 30×34 online. I know Gap does.

    3. Clever Name

      Yes, you may have better luck online. Many of the bigger stores have “extended sizing” online but not in stores.

    4. CoffeeLover

      I feel your pain on this one. My boyfriend is 198cm and about 110kg of muscle. I like to joke with him that his life is sooo hard because his body is too perfect to fit into the cloths of mere mortals. But it’s true! He’s too tall, his shoulders are too wide and his waist is too narrow! Shopping with him was the most frustrating shopping experience of my life. Things usually just fit me, and I’ve never experienced not being able to find anything that FITS let alone looks good.

      1. GOG11

        LOL!!! Yes, that sounds like my boyfriend. He has very broad shoulders and a tiny waist and he’s very tall. I have difficulty finding clothes, too, and I was able to use a few tricks I’ve used for myself because shopping can be a bear when nothing fits right.

    5. BAS

      If it’s in your budget, you can order unhemmed Hugo Boss wool dress trousers off Nordstrom and then get them hemmed to fit at The Rack.

  38. Parenting Is Hard

    Going anon…even though the AAM community is awesome and respectful, I am not ready to have this connected to my usual ID, much less potentially my IRL identity.

    So. My 14-year-old daughter has told us that she thinks she might be transgender. This has, as you might guess, kind of completely thrown us for a loop. We are in uncharted waters.

    I want to say up front that I unconditionally love my child with my whole heart, however she decides to identify. Yet…this is SO out of left field that the emotional, MOM core of me is sincerely hoping this is…I don’t know, some sort of temporary teenage insanity? (She freely admits that she’s been thinking/feeling this way for less than a year.)

    We have had a couple preliminary meetings with a therapist that specializes in sexual and gender identity and our assessment/feedback meeting is next week – I am, honestly, hoping that the therapist’s position is “slow your roll.”

    Anyway. Had to get that off my chest.

    1. Calla

      Well, at 14, dysphoria/these feelings could have been triggered by puberty? I think the assessment idea was a good one. It IS possible to have feelings of confusion or dysphoria without actually being transgender. But then, it’s also best not to approach it as “temporary insanity.” You don’t mention, but I’m assuming by your daughter you mean she was female assigned at birth. I know a number of women, myself included, who had extreme discomfort surrounding our own female bodies because of how society treats them/the expectations around them–I bound my chest and wore men’s shirts for a while as a teenager! But I’m definitely not trans.

      So even if she is not, there are probably still issues that made her THINK she was, and she’ll need support with that. And, of course, she will definitely need your love and support if it turns out that she is indeed trans. :)

      1. Parenting is Hard

        Yes – “insanity” was not the best choice of words and I would never say something like that to her! I just wasn’t sure how to frame my train of thought. That is one of my biggest struggles – I don’t have the right vocabulary (yet).

        Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    2. Today's anon

      As a trans person – First, I think it’s an incredible testament of the trust between you and your child that they decided to tell you that at 14, after thinking about it for a year. I think the best thing is to let them take the lead in how they want to proceed – seeing a therapist is good, exploring gender options in clothing, pronouns, names is good. Give them space. There is no right way to be a boy or a girl or a trans person and they have to find what works for them. However, if your child has not reached puberty yet, there might be an opportunity for puberty delaying hormones that would give your child more time before going through puberty which does make transitioning harder if they decide to to that later. But it is not uncommon that being around puberty age brings up a lot of gender issues.

      Also, I think while you want to be supportive of your child, you want to take care of yourself too – there are support groups like PFLAG that can be helpful. Even if your child has only been thinking of it for a year, it’s brand new for you, and while you don’t know what the final outcome might be, you might want to look at your own feelings. I know my mother mourned the daughter she thought she had and I wish she had been able to find others to talk about this instead of taking it out on me. Even though I was in my 30s it really strained our relationship.

      I don’t know where you are but there is a wonderful, free, conference in Philadelphia that does a really excellent job at getting parents together and there is a track for younger kids. If you google “Philadelphia trans conference”, it should be the first result. I’ve heard from parents who were so glad at finally being able to talk to others in person and from children who felt the same way.

      1. Parenting is Hard

        Thank you very much for your insight. Yes, I am grateful that we have a relationship where she feels comfortable talking to us about this, and that we live in a particularly LGBT-friendly community. I’m sure our therapist will have some resources for us.

      2. Cath in Canada

        I was going to suggest a support group too. A colleague of mine has a kid of about the same age who’s transitioning female->male, and he says that the group he’s in has really helped everyone in the family.

        This colleague is so very, very chill about the whole thing. I found out when I asked him how his daughter was, and he said “well, my daughter is now my son”, just as a very matter-of-fact thing, as if we were talking about a new school or something. This colleague recently got a new and much trendier haircut, and trendier clothes, and says “it’s so nice to have a young man around to help me figure these things out! I might even start dating again!” Of course I have no idea how much time and effort it took him to reach this chilled out state, but it’s been less than a year. Good luck to you and your family, OP!

    3. C Average

      Two things come to mind.

      First thing: Give your daughter room to try on new identities and be explicit with her that these things can be fluid. When a parent races to condemn or embrace a child’s newly revealed gender identity or orientation, it can make the child hesitant to later confess that it WAS a temporary phase. Let her know that if she would like to experiment with certain elements of the opposite gender identity through dress or appearance, it’s fine. And if she ultimately decides to back away from that experimentation, that’s also fine. Create a safe space for her to try non-permanent aspects of the other gender on before committing in more permanent ways. Let her know you’ll support her no matter what she decides, and create a climate where there’s no fear on anyone’s part that you’ll say “I told you so” if she decides to remain the gender she was assigned at birth.

      Second thing: Know that if she does determine that she’s transgender and decides to transition, you’ll get through it and so will she. And society is becoming ever more accepting of transgender people, meaning she’s transitioning in a climate that’s safer and more welcoming than any previous one. It’s not all sunshine and roses, sure, but there’s a much broader awareness and acceptance of transgender people than there has been in the past.

      (One of my long-run partners is a woman who was born a man. We’ve run many miles together and she’s talked to me very, very candidly about her experiences. She transitioned in her 50s after spending her whole life feeling she’d been born in the wrong body. She is a talented scientist, a disciplined athlete, and a loyal friend. In her case, the decision to transition was exactly the opposite of temporary teenage insanity!)

    4. BritCred

      One big thing from 2 trans friends? Family members wouldn’t call her by her new name/nickname and used to call her by her male name long after she’d transitioned at least part of the way. So if your daughter chooses a nickname (at this point) please respect that as much as you can.

      Another thing to know if she *does* continue this as she gets older – and thank you for doing the therapy now because that is a big step in helping towards it – the psychological assessment phase before surgeries are considered are very very stressful and has been for all my trans friends who have gone through it. Its at this hurdle that most of them spend a lot of time at. So being there to support for that will be a great support that will be needed and much appreciated.

      1. Emily

        Strongly seconding this. I am not trans, but I have seen friends in this situation get really hurt/frustrated when their names and pronouns are not respected.

      2. Blue_eyes

        Agree about names/pronouns. One of my friends is trans and while her family has gotten more accepting over the years, her parents still mis-gender and use her old name regularly. If you fully accept/respect someone, you will do your best to call them by their preferred name and pronouns.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m usually averse to recommending books in these situations, but Andrew Solomon’s Far from the Tree has a chapter on this very issue. I found the whole book (about children who are very different from their parents in various ways) very sensitive and eye-opening. It’s a few years old, but he lists some resources that might help too.

      I agree with Today’s anon that your child coming to you and discussing this speaks to a wonderful level of trust, so hold on to that and nurture it. My stepsister is transgender, and while I won’t go into the details, the lack of family trust and communication meant that her transition was, and remains today, much more difficult and fraught than it could or should have been.

    6. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      This made me tear up. How terrific that your child trusts you this much.

      I can only imagine how hard and scary this for you because of how vulnerable she is right now. I hope you can take a sec to appreciate how beautiful it is, and how much safer it makes her, that she was able to turn to you and trust you.

    7. fposte

      Congratulations on building a family where your kid can talk to you about this. If you’ve done that, I think you’ve built a family that will negotiate this pretty well, and it sounds like you’re already on it.

    8. blackcat

      The plan to see a therapist with experience in this issue is a good one. In part, because that therapist will have good resources, and additional language that may help your child process what they want to do.

      One of my good friends from high school had similar feelings at about the same age. After a few years, she settled into identifying as genderqueer (still using female pronouns, though now goes by a gender neutral nick name), and presents as androgynous. So there’s a big middle ground where teens may end up identifying, once they have the opportunity to explore. It’s best if you can avoid running through too many scenarios in your head right away, because this isn’t a binary thing for many people (though for plenty it is! It’s a spectrum).

      I also second the recommendations for PFLAG. I know they helped several of my friends parents, and I can only imagine that the network has grown in the last 10-15 years.

    9. 15.385 steps / octave

      My daughter came out to us as bisexual when she was 13yo. Her mom and I were both fully supportive. But the years passed and she never dated anyone, and then she went to college and for the past year she’s been happily seeing a guy named Michael.

      I realize my tale is anecdotal, but I’ve done some reading and talked to a number of people (parents and professionals of various stripes) and – surprise – it’s not unknown for teenaged girls to ‘come out’ as lesbian or bi or tg and to some extent it’s exploration but it’s often primarily a way of postponing having to deal with sex and sexuality at all. This isn’t a 100% sure thing, of course. But it’s not infrequent.

      As a parent, about all you can do is be supportive and wait to see how it works out. I’d imagine that arguing and fighting over it is about equivalent to arguing and fighting with a teenaged girl over some boy you don’t want her to date.

      1. Maisie

        I’m sure my parents felt that way. I was always openly bisexual, but the way the numbers go, it’s a lot easier to wind up with an opposite-sex partner. I always found it absolutely infuriating that my sexuality was dismissed as “just a phase” and any relationship I had with a man was confirming that I was just saying it for attention. Made me wish I was actually gay for a while – at least then I wouldn’t be told I was lying.

        Now, though, I have a lovely lady who I’m seeing, and my mother has gone out with me to so many gay bars. We’re cool.

      2. Nashira

        Please understand that the choice of a bisexual or queer person to date an “opposite sex” partner does not, magically, make them straight. It is, in fact, quite offensive to hear one’s sexuality dismissed simply because now you neatly fit into a neat little box just like our heterocentric, homophobic society wants you to.

        Sincerely,
        A queer person who’s tired of being erased just because they have a vulva and their partner a penis.

        1. Felicia

          This plus a million (though I am not bi, my most recent ex girlfriend is and i’d hate when people did this.). Just because someone is dating an opposite sex partner, or have never dated a same sex partner, does not mean they are straight. And it is moderately offensive at best to assume that that’s what that means . There are experiences that will be different for a queer person dating an opposite sex partner and a queer person dating a same sex partner, but they are both still queer people, and those different experiences are part of the heterocentric society thing.

          My mom thought it was a phase too, and I’m not even remotely attracted to people of the opposite sex. She probably would have been worse if i were bi. Also had I been your daughter and realized that you thought dating a boy made me straight, I never would have told you had I dated a girl. Even entertaining the possibility that it could be a “phase” made me very reluctant to tell my parents anything ever again, so please don’t do that to your kids, anyone here who has kids who may tell you these things.

      3. 15.385 steps / octave

        I guess I should have made it clear: my daughter now considers herself straight. And neither her mom nor I ever “dismissed” her sexual identity. Honestly, as her father, her sex life is mostly something that I don’t wanna think about. But she never caught any grief from me or her mom over her belief that she was bisexual. All I told her was “Sweetheart, I love you the same if you’re gay or bi or straight or whatever.” Which is also more or less what I told her when she told us she was straight.

        And – I’m sorry – but the reality is that sometimes it is “just a phase”.

      4. Kat M

        I am a woman who identifies as bi as well, but is happily married to a man. I will tell you right now….it’s not about who you end up with, it’s about how you feel inside. I think painting it as just a phase of exploration often denies very real feelings that someone might have. I read this great post on a blog called Offbeat Families called “Passing for Straight” or something like that-I would recommend reading that.

    10. Ann Furthermore

      It’s really wonderful that your daughter feels safe enough to talk to you about this kind of thing. So many kids don’t. So kudos to you for that.

      Like others have said, I think right now the most important thing is to continue to be open and loving with her while she’s still figuring out her feelings. It could be that upon further reflection, or after talking with a therapist or a support group, she may not feel the same way. Just be there for her and let her know that whatever she decides or wants to do, you’ll be supportive of her choices.

      My stepdaughter (17) came to my husband and I last week and said that she’d been feeling depressed for the last couple of months. After some talking and questions, he and I feel that it’s most likely her being worn down from working so hard all year (full load of classes, including one AP and a couple honors level, plus working 25-30 hours a week) and just being exhausted, and also all the changes that are happening in her life. She’s a junior, but all her friends are seniors and getting ready to graduate. She’ll have to start making big decisions next year too, and she’ll be a legal adult in September. It’s an overwhelming and turbulent time for her. We’ve got her set up to talk to a psychologist (6 free sessions through my work EAP) to work through all this stuff, plus, if it is something more serious like clinical depression that is nothing to mess with and we want to know that as soon as possible so we can start treating it.

      While we were talking I asked her if there was anything going on with a guy, and she kind of laughed and said no. Then the next day we were talking a little bit more, and I told her that even though there was nothing guy-related going on, I wondered if she was having any other feelings in that area that she didn’t know how to handle or know what to do with? She said no. I told her that her dad and I wouldn’t care about anything like that, and that even though her mother certainly has her faults, this is not something that would upset her either. I had wondered about it though, just because she’s 17, and never had a boyfriend or been on a date. It doesn’t seem to bother her, so I think she’s just a late bloomer. Anyway — I’d wanted to gently prod that with her so just in case she was having confusing or scary feelings, she’d know she had a safe place with me to talk about it. She didn’t seem as shocked as a kid from an earlier generation might have….although maybe she’s told all her friends “OMG you won’t believe what my stepmom did!!!!”

    11. Blue_eyes

      This is a big deal, and it’s totally understandable that you’re freaked out and uncertain. Keep telling and showing your child that you love them unconditionally. Ask what THEY would like to do to show their gender identity – hair cut? new name/pronouns? new clothes? You may also want to consider seeing a therapist for yourself to help you deal with whatever feelings come up as your family goes through this change.

      Two autobiographies that you and/or your child may want to read are “Rethinking Normal” by Katie Rain Hill and “Some Assembly Required” by Arin Andrews. Arin and Katie are both trans young adults who transitioned as teens (they’re friends and dated each other as well) and wrote about their experiences.

    12. Tara

      So. I am 18, and two of my friends are trans guys. This is largely based on what they’ve said. I’m going to use ‘they’ for your child, because I don’t feel comfortable assigning them female or male pronouns right now; I hope that doesn’t throw you off.

      1. Ask what they want in terms of pronouns/names/telling people. My guess is if they’ve been thinking about it less than a year, in my experience they probably aren’t wanting to come out or change much right now. They’re probably just letting you know because they love you and trust you and want support. But if they do want you to do something differently, try your best. It will do wonders for your relationship. Don’t fall all over yourself apologizing if you say something “wrong”– just treat it like if you got their age wrong. “She’s– sorry, he’s…”

      2. Don’t make it about you. Try not to cry or carry on. It’s hard, because it’s your child, but it’s really not a tragedy or something they’re doing “to you”; it’s not about you at all.

      3. Be cognizant of their mental health. Google Leelah Alcorn and Blake Brockington; know that trans teens face elevated levels of depression and suicide, often because of their parents refusing to accept their genders. If they’re anything like my friends, they’ll be uncomfortable talking about this directly, but it’s something to watch out for.

      4. Get to know more. Do research, go to PFLAG, talk to this therapist… Keep an open mind, and know that this is not a big deal. Our society tends to treat gender as some huge defining characteristic; it’s really not. If ‘girl’ or ‘boy’ was as easily defined as we thought it was, there wouldn’t be as many intersex people around as there are. It’s normal to experiment with it or realize something doesn’t quite fit, and while they may change their mind, they also might not.

      1. Tara

        Oh yeah!! Please don’t say things like “But you’re such a pretty girl!”, “Oh, you can’t cut your beautiful hair”, etc. Don’t force them to wear dresses at formal occasions. I’m sure you wouldn’t anyway, but this happened with a friend and seriously damaged his relationship with his mother. The forced femininity has a gross factor beyond disrespect of gender identity that’s hard to verbalize, but I figure it’s worth pointing out.

    13. neversawthatb4

      Another book recommendation is Raising My Rainbow, by Lori Duron. It is about her experience raising a young gender noncomforming child. She also has a blog with the same title. Although she is writing about a much younger child, you may find her writing about her emotional responses and experiences interesting/useful. I am awed by the amazing parenting she and her husband have been doing.

      I also will say that it is great that your daughter feels safe coming to you, and it sounds like you are doing all the right things for her.

    14. Parenting Is Hard

      You guys are seriously the best. Thank you, each of you, for your support and advice.

  39. The IT Manager

    TV Show (minor spoiler for finale of Broadchurch)

    The Americans finale was not as shocking as I expected after how amazing and shocking this season has been as a whole. The preview made it look like Phillip was going to off the reservation, and that didn’t happen (yet). On the other hand instead of wrapping up the arcs like they did for season 1 and 2, this finale didn’t really wrap things up but rather has set up next season’s plot lines. BTW: The Americans is the best TV show I watched this year. If you can handle the violence, sexual situations, and nudity, you should be watching for the drama.

    Broadchurch series 2: very good but unnecessary. It really felt like series 1 was leading up a point, and series 2 was a combo police, courtroom, family drama. It was better than 90% of stuff on TV, but it’s not as good as series 1. I’m pissed that Joe got off; it feels like it invalidates series 1 a bit . They caught their man, but he got off. As much as I loved Hardy and Miller (Olivia Coleman is amazing), it seemed out that they did the whole investigation off the books on their own. Neither of them was a rule breaker in series 1.

    Grey’s Anatomy: Wow! Shonda managed to surprise me. It’s a surprisingly strong show in it’s 11th season. It had some full season missteps in my opinion, but it has always bounced back.

    1. Cruciatus

      Have you watch Justified? I have this feeling you’d like it. It just ended last week. I’m not normally a “westerns” person (it’s not quite the right word for it and yet it fits) but I loved this show. I’m catching up on The Americans now and accidentally read that Paige eventually finds out and, really, it didn’t feel like a spoiler as much as now I’m excited to see the moment where it all starts coming together. Sounds like it will be a very eventful season. Maybe there are more cliffhangers because they are more sure the show won’t be canceled after the season.

      Broadchurch was renewed for a third season so I’m interested in what they will do with that. Can they have MORE murder in this small town? Or will Joe end up dead and Miller’s “It’s taken care of” will come back to haunt her?

      I was also surprised by Grey’s. By the previews I shouldn’t have been or the fact that Shonda Rhimes wrote the episode (which she hadn’t done since, I think, Lexie and Mark’s deaths. So by this point, if she writes and episode, expect death). But then I thought, “No, they can’t.” But the minute he got into his car after saving all the other people I thought “Nope, he’s dead” and he stopped in the middle of the effing road! You stupid idiot! Heartbreaking to know you’re a goner though, based on the incompetence of other people.

      1. TL -

        Arg! I’ve been watching Grey’s since it started (with a break for the 4/5th seasons which just were really bad) and I was so shocked by this! And sad… What will Grey’s be without MerDer?

      2. Ann Furthermore

        Loved, loved, loved Justified and was sad to see it end, but it was the right time to do it. And I thought the finale was perfect, and totally unexpected (but in a good way).

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      Re: Broadchurch – the overwhelming reaction to the last episode was negative, I think. The Guardian UK website does a great blog of each episode. But Hardy turned up in Broadchurch with a cloud over his head and we found out he covered up for his wife and the missing necklace – so I’d actually say he was a rule…bender.
      Several things were introduced and then disappeared again which was annoying (e.g the lawyer going after Ellie re: sleeping with Hardy, the woman who owned the dog and caravan, the dodgy looking vicar etc).

      I can’t help but wonder if series 3, when it happens is maybe going to be about the lawyers’ backstories? And maybe the Sandbrook trial?

      1. Cruciatus

        The courtroom scenes were frustrating because the witnesses seemed ill prepared to actually take the stand and shocking information came out RIGHT THEN. Granted I know everything about the law from American courtroom dramas, but are witnesses not allowed to be prepped in the UK? Like the thing about Beth’s husband who was going to leave her and she was shocked to be hearing that for the first time. There were a couple of other moments like that. And I felt some objections were missing to things that never should have been asked. But the lawyers just sat there like “la dee da, totally normal to ask that question of my witness.” Whaa? And the lawyers (sorry, barristers?) last names were…Bishop and Knight. Oh my.

        Sorry I have completely forgotten the character’s names, but I enjoyed when Knight’s 2nd told Bishop’s 2nd that she was “a horrible person.” I mean, that lady fist-pumped her client’s not guilty verdict, and this was weeks after she told Bishop she thought he was guilty. It’s all about winning for her.

        Eve Myles, however, plays unhinged pretty well. I wanted to slap her a few times and say “Snap out of it!” before I realized she was actually the dominant person in her relationship.

        1. Carrie in Scotland

          Yeah, Eve Myles was good in it, for the most part. And yes, the “you’re a horrible person” comment – excellent!
          I don’t know much about UK law system either, but a) I would imagine that they’re supposed to be prepped and b) the writer came under some intense criticism for the court scenes, he actually wrote an article defending it. I will link it, so this doesn’t get moderated.

  40. invisible illness

    I have had a few chronic illnesses my entire life. While some were noticeable/visible when I was younger, they’re more or less invisible to everyone now. So I look normal, carry on most functions normally and basically live a normal life. The problem I have is that I just feel so different from my peers and find it hard to make friends. I don’t want to give too many details, but it would be tough not to reveal these conditions to people if I socialize with someone more than just very casually and while it shouldn’t impact anyone else, I just feel damaged and like I’m a burden on people. I’ve been in therapy for a long time but just haven’t been able to get past this particular issue. It makes me feel sad.

    1. Steve G

      I feel for you. I don’t have a chronic illness per se, but my immune system has definitely been weaker since a health issue in 2002. So, I don’t get the illness part per se, but I definitely get the part with how it impacts your social life (one of the reasons I am home tonight, urgh, besides the fact that my fish seem to have gotten a bug and a few died every though water conditions are perfect, so I’m monitoring them too……)…..since 2002, if I eat certain foods, I feel not well and get bad acid reflux for hours. If I drink more than just a few drinks, same thing, I feel unwell, very sour stomach, problems sleeping, definite hangover for a day or even two……I just have lower tolerance for stuff. I used to drink and eat whatever the hell I wanted. This has really led to me avoiding certain social situations (though it led me to other ones, like insanity fitness:-)). Tomorrow I am beginning to dread a social function because I know its going to be all about the unhealthy food and the alcohol, and this is a problem, because instead of letting loose and having fun, I’m going to be sitting there thinking “wish I could eat that, wish I could drink that,” and in the process, probably come across as a party pooper! And the truth is, it does hurt to have to avoid stuff and it takes a lot of will power, which takes away from the effort I should be putting into getting to know new people.

      1. invisible illness

        I’m sorry you’re going through similar problems. I also have the inability to eat many foods and generally avoid drinking because of how it makes me feel. It’s crazy just how much food and drink are the basis of many social interactions… And if not the main focus, it’s still usually part of it. It gets frustrating having to explain to people so I agree that it’s usually just easier to avoid.

        1. Steve G

          And the weird and frustrating part is going to the doctor, and besides a few random food allergies (like rye) that I can totally live with, I am basically healthy. How did I go from being able to drink a bottle of wine + a big meal in a siting and feel fine until right up when I got sick to this afterwards? It is hard to explain to people, but I had a ecoli infection from food that wouldn’t go away, and I was antibiotics multiple times then hospitalized then even after that it came back for one last round. After it finally went away I had all sorts of flus, viruses, skin issues, colds for almost a year before it seemed my immune system was working great again, but I never felt everything came back 100%. It also took months for normal digestion to come back, and I had anxiety attacks from the general, numb pain for months. And it is annoying because no one really understands/understood. It’s not a specific thing like “I had tonsillitis” or “I have cancer.” When people hear “ecoli” most thing “food poisoning,” which tends to = stomach bug for one day.

          1. invisible illness

            Ugh that sounds especially frustrating since you were so healthy beforehand. It must be a hard adjustment. I know I’m just a random person on the internet, but I can definitely understand how hard it is. I hope it somehow resolves itself over time!

          2. +1

            I’m finding out that recurring stuff is a pain in the butt. When I’m not acutely symptomatic, I look perfectly fine and am functional, if not amazing. So, it ends up looking like I’m just lazy when I can’t keep up. I’m not yet in a place where I want to walk around with a sign telling the world. Also, thankfully, it something that can be cured. But, until that happens, I’ve been dealing with these weird cycles of being well, making plans, then suddenly being unwell. It feels like I’m walking on eggshells sometimes just trying to go about my life.

    2. TL -

      I don’t know about your age group or where you live, but I can tell you that my friends are generally very kind and accepting people – we don’t have anyone with invisible disabilities, but we definitely have people with food limitations (like myself) and a couple of people with mental disorders that crop up sometimes and some super introverts who only have social energy for X number of outings per month or whatever, and we all just try our best to be accommodating and accepting.

      Also, it’s not okay to be someone’s “movie friend” or “cooking friend” or whatever activities you are okay with – build your social life around what you can do. People can have different friends for different things, so you’re not limiting anyone if you can’t go on multiday hikes and they can. Just be upfront about what you’re up for and what you’re not up for (and don’t show resentment when they do things you can’t do without you, even if it feels frustrating and unfair. Unless they’re jerks about it. Then dump them.)

      1. invisible illness

        Thanks for the response. Your group if friends sounds very accepting! I do have very close friends that I’ve known for years but don’t live close to them. I think the people i tend to relate to most are other people who have felt like outsiders.

        I never openly show resentment and generally have a positive attitude about all of it. I think part of it is that most of the things I like to do are very active, but in spite of that, I can’t always do things as hard or as fast as other people my age (mid 30s). I try to do things in spite of my limitations which probably just aggravates the feeling of not being normal, haha.

        1. TL -

          Thanks! My friends are awesome and I’m lucky to have them. :)
          Maybe exude the attitude of doing it for the pleasure of the experience, not the burn or to push yourself? I definitely have friends that are slower and go easier than I do, so when I’m out with them, I know it’s on me to slow down so we all have a good time – but I truly enjoy sharing the experience with them so I never mind. If you’re upfront about wanting a slower pace/shorter duration than most, you’ll select out those who are looking for something different.
          And there’s nothing wrong with not going as hard or as fast. Unless you’re a competitive athlete, it’s not about being the best or even being average – it’s about getting what you want out of the experience, whether that’s being your best or feeling the joy of being active. Anyone who makes you feel otherwise is not worth sharing the experience with.

    3. fposte

      Yeah, it’s frustrating to deal with physical limitations, and it’s annoying to have to figure out how to talk about them with people. However, I think you may be in bigger company than you realize–the older you get, the commoner it is for you to know people with chronic health problems, so in your thirties “I have Crohn’s” is likelier to be met with “Oh, I have ulcerative!” or “My brother has that” than “Huh?” I have several chronic things now in my 50s and I think my friends, from 40 to 60, all have some kind of chronic long-term issues at this point; we just work with or around them. That’s one of the most damaging things about isolation, I think; it makes you feel like nobody else can understand you, but in real life a lot of people can.

      1. TheLazyB

        You are in your 50s?! Wow. I guess this explains how wise you are :) I thought you were my sort of age (late 30s).

        [/totally irrelevant aside]

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          One day we need to all relay our mental pictures of others here. I just realized that when I read Wakeen’s Teapots Inc.’s comments, for instance, I picture her looking exactly like a super competent and funny event planner I used to work with. They are one in my mind.

          1. CrazyCatLady

            I always pictured Wakeen’s Teapots Inc AND fposte as men! I think those are the only two commenters I’ve ever pictured.

            1. fposte

              Well, she does have a guy’s name in her handle. Maybe I should put a double X after my handle–though people would probably get the wrong idea.

                1. Stephanie

                  Haha. It’s not that far off, actually. That’s totally how I wear my hair. Add some glasses and that’d be an exact Muppet version of me.

            2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd

              I know! And it never crossed my mind when making the handle, which, makes little sense but there you go. (I was making a faux company name and it was a cool company name….)

      2. invisible illness

        I know I’m not completely alone in reality…. I think part of it was growing up with so many different conditions that I really didn’t experience life or childhood the way most people did because I was sick all the time. And when I wasn’t, I couldn’t do things other kids were doing because it would make me sick. I am definitely able to work around them, and still do socialize it’s just been kind of a barrier to getting close to people. I guess it’s just the combination of all the conditions that makes me feel isolated, not so much any single thing. I spend more on prescriptions than most elderly people I know! :-/

        1. fposte

          Yeah, if something like that starts young it affects your adult life even if other people start catching up to you. But hang in there! Friends are often more generous than we allow them to be.

  41. Come On Eileen

    I’m getting LASIK surgery this week! Eek, starting to get really excited, and a little nervous. Any tips or advice before I go under? I’m a bit worried that I’ll inadvertently rub my eyes sometime after the surgery, since it’s allergy season and my eyes are itchy a lot. But I’m mostly stoked to get rid of my glasses and contact lenses.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I did it last fall and LOVE it. However, I had a really uncomfortable few weeks afterwards. Apparently a small number of people get terrible dry eyes for a while afterwards (feels like something’s in your eye), and I had that for the first week. Also pretty strong light sensitivity. But that all went away and now I have perfectly comfortable 20/20 vision! So don’t freak out if your first week is a little strange (although apparently most people don’t even have that).

      Also, the procedure is really quick. It’s over before you know it.

    2. TW

      I had the surgery about 11.5 years ago and went from not being able to see anything past about one foot in front me to 20/20 vision and is still strong today . It was one of the best decisions I ever made. The procedure is so quick and hopefully painless that is simply amazing. The best advice I have is to invest in some good sun glasses as my light sensitivity never went away. The only weird side effect I remember was for about 2 weeks or so I would randomly have trouble focusing on large groups of items (e.g., the thread section of a craft store). Best luck to you for a speedy recovery.

    3. Editrix

      I had it 18 months ago and I love it. I have recommended it to a tonne of people and the ones who have also done it had great experiences. However, the clinic was quite blasé about pain and how quickly I could get back to work. For me, I had an hour or two of pain when the anasthetic drops wore off, and I couldn’t have put eye drops in myself for the first 2 or 3 hours — you have to put them in every hour and they help a lot, so if you live alone you might neeed a hand. It wasn’t that the pain was so bad, more that it was unexpected because the clinic emphasised how completely pain-free it was (I might also just be a complete wuss, or perhaps it’s related to how short-sighted you are, which in my case was ‘very’). I found working hard for the first week after, but this might be because of my job – I was working on some proofreading that week and it’s hard to be perfect when your vision is changing from one minute to the next. If I did it again, I would plan to be at the office for a long day, 10–12 hours, so that I could clock out for a half-hour every time my eyes went fuzzy.
      Also, I was totally scared that I would move during the procedure but you really can’t (in case you are having the same thought).
      It is great and you will love it.

    4. Tmarie

      I had LASIK eighteen years ago and had no issues at the time. Now that I’m over 50, I find that I need different strength reading glasses for different uses; I have one set for the computer, and another for paperwork, and a third for tiny print. If I weren’t so cheap, a nice bi-focal would probably fix me right up!

    5. Dynamic Beige

      My doctor insisted I get these eye drops that are individual portions in a strip of 5, instead of one big bottle. They weren’t cheap but I found they were great. I could keep some in my back pocket and let them warm up before I used one.

      If you haven’t already, start being more mindful of when you rub your eyes and why. After I booked my appointment, I had a month to think about it and get an idea of when I was more prone to doing it. Funnily enough, one of the people who did the intake said the only person they had ever had come back with a problem due to eye rubbing was the wife of the surgeon.

      Also, do you currently take a sleeping pill? If not, you might want to get some. There are two things I regret about the day I had it done. 1. it was August and super hot, dry and sunny and 2. I was too freaked out to just go right to sleep afterwards. Seriously, if I could have just slept for 12 hours or so immediately following, that would have been better even with the stupid taped on bug goggles they gave me. What TW said about sunglasses, but the day of, if it’s really bright out, as weird as this is going to sound — if you’ve got a friend or relative driving you, bring along a dark/thick blanket so you can lie down in the back seat and put it over your head. If I could have just put a hood on and had someone steer me around until I got somewhere dark I could lie down, I would have done it — even if it looked like I was being kidnapped and shoved in the back of a car. I was completely unprepared for how uncomfortable I was going to be after the procedure, it’s the kind of discomfort I don’t think you can fix with a painkiller, and I went by myself so I had to keep my eyes open until I got to the hotel room.

      And if they don’t offer the Valium, ask for it. I think you’d have to be a Zen master to go through that without drugs.

      1. Come On Eileen

        Thank you — this is all good feedback! You kinda reminded me of another smallish worry, though — I’m in recovery so the anti-anxiety pills and even the sleeping pills that the doc recommends for every patient are a no-fly zone for me. I *think*I’ll be okay without them, but I’m not quite sure how to calm myself the day of the procedure if I do get nervous. I’m thankful that it’s a really quick surgery and I plan to go home like they suggest and just close my eyes and nap or listen to podcasts (my favorite activity when I need something to engage with but also want the freedom to zone out a bit).

        1. fposte

          Do they let you have headphones on or earbuds in during the procedure? And is OTC Benadryl (aka Tylenol Plus) allowed? That’s a pretty decent sleeping pill–though it is a little drying, so you may want to check to make sure it’s not a problem.

        2. Dynamic Beige

          I had never taken Valium before that day, which is why I was scared afterwards, I didn’t know if I would have some sort of reaction or something and I was alone. I kept my eyes closed and listened to the TV for several hours but I think it would have been better to just sleep.

          If you have time, discuss with your people about whether or not the Valium would impede your recovery. I don’t believe it’s a large dose (the clinic could tell you), but I’m no expert in these things. The entire thing takes less than 20min but there are some things that aren’t fun, like when they put the “holder” on your eyeballs (which gave me some bruises in the whites of my eyes). Before they started, I was lying there on the platform of the machine (which was larger than I thought it would be) and I remember these really flat sounding thoughts running through my head “This is the stupidest thing you’ve ever done… You should get up now and run… Go on… run… get up…” but I just couldn’t. Did give me an understanding of the 70’s though. It’s one thing to get a tooth filled or pulled, but they’re dealing with your eyes, I don’t think I could have done it without that assistance. A lot depends on how good you are with dealing with those sorts of things. I mean, one of places I went to for an assessment, they used this wand thing that they had to touch to my eye to measure the cornea. I had already been to the place I wound up going to where they had more advanced equipment that measured without touching. The tech was able to touch that wand to my left eye but I just couldn’t stop blinking/flinching for her to do the other one — she was getting quite annoyed. Never did get that one, after about a dozen tries. But that’s me and maybe you’ll be fine — everyone’s different and my experience/how I felt about it/what I did isn’t going to be the same for everyone. But these are the things I tell anyone who asks me what it was like, because although I had thought that I had done lots of research, there was a lot I didn’t know, that no one really mentioned.

          Wishing you a cloudy day for it!

        3. LD

          I have a friend with a similar concern. He uses hypnosis to help himself deal with any anticipated painful procedure and he’s been very successful with it. It’s something to consider and look into.

        4. Sparkly Librarian

          I was given an anti-anxiety med shortly before my PRK surgery (last year), but I just don’t think it was early enough to have taken effect by the time I was on the table. (If it was active, and I still felt as terrified as I did, I can’t imagine going without it. So I persist in thinking that it just didn’t work. And I survived. So you can, too.)

          I slept as much as I could and listened to one of my favorite book series on CD, with a narrator who had a pleasant accent. I took my pain meds (but at half- or quarter-dose; it really wasn’t necessary and the doc said I could have just taken Advil, if that’s an option for you) and So. Many. Eyedrops. and had a really smooth recovery. I hope it goes well for you!

  42. S

    Favorite beer? I just had one that I can safely say was the best one I’ve ever had in my life tonight, so now I’m curious what your tastes are! I really like American pale ales (not as big a fan of IPAs).

    1. Stephanie

      I like wheat beers, saisons, pilsners, and kolsches (I tend to like things on the lighter end). I’ve had some good sours, too. I also like oatmeal stouts.

      I can’t do IPAs. I’ve just had one too many craft IPAs that taste like death by hops. I bought a variety pack and the remaining beer is an IPA. :(

      1. Dan

        I can do IPA’s when I’m in the mood… but it’s also usually after I’ve had a few other things. I tend to share your taste on the lighter end, but I’ve learned that high ABV dark beers have a ton of flavor. (I can’t stand Guinness, which comes in at 4.5%.)

        1. Stephanie

          I agree on high ABV dark beers. When I went to NM last fall, I tried this really good dark beer (I forget what kind) that was brewed with chipotles. I brought home a growler.

      2. S

        I love saisons! I’m so happy it’s spring and all the local breweries are pushing out their seasonal saisons.

      3. Yoshi

        If you’re anywhere near southern California, Hangar 24 Brewery makes an orange wheat beer that is fantastic (well, at least in my opinion). Its like blue moon, but with more of an orange flavor- a great summery beer. I’ve seen it showing up more and more in grocery stores, so keep an eye out for it. Highly recommend!

      4. Nashira

        I normally loathe IPAs with the fiery fire of a thousand burning suns. I tried one yesterday that was actually drinkable, and couldn’t figure out why… until someone told me its best-by date was in 2012 and all the hops had aged out. (We were helping drink down someone’s cache before she moved. It was a big cache.)

    2. Ann Furthermore

      We discovered a fantastic light beer at a party last weekend from a local brewery. If you’re in Colorado, it’s Mountain Mamas Helles Light.

      I also like Newcastle and Blue Moon, and my husband likes Fat Tire.

      1. S

        I’ve never been to Colorado (I’m in San Francisco right now), but I’ll have to look that up!

        I loved Blue Moon back when I first started drinking beer, and now I’m much more ‘meh’ on it? Anchor Steam’s California Lager has been my first-choice bottled beer.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          It’s kind of my “generic” beer. I can’t stand Bud Light or Coors Light, but Blue Moon has a better flavor.

      2. Windchime

        I like beer in the Blue Moon range also. I’ve been known to drink a Fat Tire and Alaskan Amber as well. I don’t like the bitter, hoppy beers that seem to be all the rage right now. When I’m at a Mexican restaurant, I usually go with a Dos Equis or Corona.

    3. The RO-Cat

      In the last few years I developed a taste for stouts (mainly Oyster Stout or London Porter). It was surprising for me, since I always thought about me as a lager drinker. I don’t especially like Guinness, but it will do as faute de mieux.

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      I love Belgian blondes. I am not much of a beer drinker– sad, because I live in craft beer country– but put something Belgian and golden in front of me and I am a happy woman. The downside? High ABV. Hoo boy. Two of those in a row and I am knocked on my ass. It took me a long time to realize that these are my beers of choice, though the first beer I ever liked was Leffe.

      I had a really good chocolate stout at the local craft beer festival today. It was truly chocolate-y but very complex and so delicious.

    5. De Minimis

      I am a IPA diehard, that’s my go-to beer. I sometimes like Imperial Russian Stout.

      Drank way too much Friday night….

    6. Sara

      I usually go for something darker – give me a porter or a stout and I’m happy! My current favorite is Framinghammer from Jack’s Abby (Baltic porter). Tastes great and at 10% ABV, gets the job done. :) One of my boyfriend’s coworkers recently got us a bottle of Brother Theolonious (Belgian abbey ale) and it was one of the best beers I’ve ever had!

    7. Cath in Canada

      I like beers that are kind of on the pale ale / IPA boundary. I’m not a big fan of the IPAs that are just about the hops, but the ones that have that kind of tropical fruit note to them, behind the hops, are delicious. My favourites are Gigantic’s IPA, Elysian’s Spacedust, and Phillips’ Kaleidoscope. Elysian is my favourite brewery – I like pretty much everything they’ve ever made, including their pumpkin ale, and I don’t usually like pumpkin ales. Their Superfuzz (blood orange pale ale) is my all-time favourite beer, but it’s very seasonal – it’s only available for a few weeks in the summer.

      My favourite winter beer is the chestnut ale from Whistler Brewing – similar to a standard winter ale but much more complex. I’m also learning more about stouts and porters. I tend to favour the chocolate / vanilla / almond / coffee ones, rather than the straight-up plain ones. I had a coconut porter from Maui Brewing on Friday that was to die for!

      Not a fan of saisons, lagers, wheats, and pilsners. I like smoked beers in small amounts – like the quarter pint samplers you can buy in some bars – but can’t drink too much of them.

      Basically I am a beer snob combined with a novelty addict. My MO is to buy a sampler pack of four completely new-to-me beers as my first drink in a craft beer bar, then a full serving of an old favourite as my second. I log and rate all new-to-me beers on an app called Untappd, which is really useful when I’m trying to remember if I’ve tried something before and if I liked it enough to drink it again. Username enniscath if you’re on there and want to connect!

      1. S

        Ahhh, I love Untappd! I’m going to look you up there. :) My username there is my full name so I’m iffy on posting it, but the initial I use to post here matches up with it.

        1. De Minimis

          This is awful, but the reason I overdid it Friday was because I was going for the “Drinking Your Paycheck” badge on Untappd!

            1. De Minimis

              I want to do Top of the Mornin’, I think that one can be stretched out over time but it’s going to be a while before I have a mornin’ where I don’t have to go anywhere.

              1. Cath in Canada

                If I drink anything before about 4pm I get very sleepy and headachy – even if I only have a small beer. I think I’m willing to forgo that badge!

                What was weird was when the app gave me a “Happy 4th of July!” badge… for checking into a Canadian bar with a Canadian beer. I guess they’re not using the geolocation data to its full potential yet!

      2. De Minimis

        I did a friend request on there…

        I tend to do the same beers over and over….my state is undergoing a sort-of craft beer revolution right now, so I really have no excuse but once I find something I like I tend to stick with it.

        1. Cath in Canada

          The West Coast craft beer revolution is one of my all-time favourite things that’s ever happened. About 98% of the beer I drink is from BC, Washington State, or Oregon – there’s no need to go further afield when the local stuff’s so great!

          Just cracked a New Growth by Driftwood, from Vancouver Island. Cheers!

  43. saro

    What are you looking forward to this week? I’m getting a haircut that I desperately need. I look like a cross between the girl from the Ring and Crystal Gayle. It ain’t pretty y’all.

    1. fposte

      Me too! Except my hair self-develops a 1970s hair helmet. I look like an oversized Fisher-Price figure.

    2. Mints

      I just got my hair cut yesterday! Mine grows into a triangle — flat on top and frizzy on the bottom.

      Sometimes I get irrationally annoyed that my hair stylist is SO DAMN FAST. She does most of the cut in like 10 minutes and I’m like, I drove an hour to get here! But then I get happily distracted when I see the cut

      1. Hair

        I desperately need a haircut. I let it grow out because it was so cold this winter. Keeping it long actually kept my head warm! I’ve just been trying to be thrifty… I hate spending a lot of money just for it to be two or three inches shorter.

    3. Ann Furthermore

      LOL! I have a busy week, but it’s all me-time stuff, so I’m looking forward to it. On Tuesday I’m going to a cooking workshop type thing at a friend’s house, where we’ll spend an hour preparing food and end up with 10 freezer meals.

      On Wednesday I have a desperately-needed mani-pedi. I had to cancel my last appointment at the last minute because it started snowing really hard that day. My cubicle at work is not close to a window, and I was really busy all day and did not notice the weather. When I left to go to my appointment, I realized there was no way I would be able to make it over to the salon in time for my appointment, so I had to cancel. I really hate doing that…my nail lady is self employed so if someone doesn’t show up, she doesn’t get paid. So it feels like I’m taking money out of her pocket. Anyway, that was in February and then the time got away from me, plus I had some work travel in there too. So she’s really going to earn her money!

      And on Thursday I have a hair appointment and brow/lip wax. I need a trim, and my eyebrows are pretty out of control and I’m starting to look like Ernest Borgnine.

  44. Mints

    Hello gardeners!
    Does anyone have suggestions for drought resistant ground coverage? The space is tiny, it’s a patio in an apartment and we built planters. There’s one large one where the cats hang out on. I’d like a plant that grows very easily (like could be considered a weed). I’ve tried googling but they mostly recommend large plants that border on bush. I’d like something very leafy, as a grass replacement.
    Thanks!

    1. fposte

      So something for the planters? It’s going to depend somewhat on where you are in the country (and if you’re leaving the planters out all winter, remember that it’s colder in containers than in the ground, so they need to be hardier than just your zone). I’ll also note that the plant I initially wrote a paragraph suggesting (Vinca minor) turns out to be toxic to cats, so you’re probably going to want to check cat toxicity independently on your possibilities before buying.

      So I’m going to suggest you have a look at the groundcovers section at High Country Gardens (I’ll follow with a URL); they specialize in low-water plantings.

        1. Mints

          Oh that website’s great! I’ll have to check cat safety but I’m thinking I could buy a couple and let them fight it out so I end up with the hardiest plant!

          1. fposte

            That happened in my side yard! Surprisingly, the vinca beat out the gardener’s garters and the ajuga, and it may even by winning out over the lily of the valley.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      Have you thought about periwinkle? I put it in two years ago and it’s spread really well in that time and is pretty leafy. You’d need to check, but I’m pretty sure it’s drought resistant, and you really only need to water it the first summer it’s in. And it gives you lots of tiny blue flowers!

      1. fposte

        That’s Vinca minor–it was my first thought too, but it’s toxic to cats if they eat it.

          1. fposte

            I would worry about it somewhat less in a yard, where there’s lots else to draw cats. (It’s in every other yard around here and it doesn’t seem to be a problem.) But for a patio planter that’s already ID’d as Kitty’s favorite spot? I’d be wary.

    3. abby

      What part of the country are you in? A plant that is drought resistant for the east coast, for example, would likely die without supplemental watering in southern California. What is the exposure – shade or sun? How tall, max, are you looking this plant to grow? Are you willing to cut it, or do you want to plant it and leave it alone?

      We are replacing our landscaping with all native, drought tolerant plants. We’re in southern California, so we are using plants that will survive on rain only in the winter (with some year-round water only during the first year until they are established). I am not aware of any small leafy plants that would work as ground cover, but we’ve not yet worked out what to put in place of our lawn yet, so I have more research to do. If you are in the dry southwest, check the website for Las Pilitas nursery.

    4. Sunday

      Don’t know where you are, but the linked website has lots of great stuff, including grasses, that make me wish for some garden space. Some of the grasses get really tall, making great hiding and napping places for cats. Might give you some ideas about the kinds of things you’d like. http://www.mowildflowers.net/

    5. Clever Name

      Where do you live? A drought tolerant plant for Seattle is different than a drought tolerant plant for West Texas. That said, creeping thyme is very drought tolerant and it’s fine with some for traffic. Plus it smells nice and has pretty tiny flowers.

      1. Catherine in Canada

        oregano is nice too. it escaped from my herb garden and onto the lawn where it was one of the few things that grew under a huge, water sucking white pine. bonus is that it smells wonderful when you step on it, run over it with the lawn mower.

  45. TheLazyB

    I Need Sleep.

    I have issues with going to bed on time. Largely to do with being a night owl and finally getting into my stride in the very late evening. (Or is it just my second wind? Hard to know for sure.)

    This was manageable before my son was born, but he is now nearly 4 and very rambunctious and HE WAKES UP AT 5am EVERY DAY IT’S NOT FAIR. (seriously, it’s not fair, i never woke up early growing up – I feel like I’m being punished for this somehow!)

    It doesn’t matter how much I commit to going to bed early, I find myself still up at midnight or 1am and having that sinking feeling in my stomach of ‘not again….’

    I have soooooo much resistance about this. It’s as simple as ‘go the hell to bed at 10pm’ – or even 11pm consistently would be better! – but also it’s so, so not simple. Right now I am so tired and trying to do my university course while my DH and DS are out but I just can’t switch on so I’m taking things in. I will remain in this state until about 10pm.

    Would be helpful to know
    -If there are any other chronically sleep-deprived people out there
    -If you are also someone who has resistance to going to bed on time, any tried and tested tips would be fantastic
    -Any other workarounds would also be fantastic

    Reassurance that this doesn’t make me an idiot/a bad mum/a bad student would also be fab.

    FWIW, I am also in therapy. Most of my issues are shifting and I am really doing so much better in general, but this is really not changing in the slightest. I really want to change. But I honestly don’t know how.

    1. fposte

      I’m not a late-night person and I nonetheless have this problem too. I think there’s a window wherein I’m tired enough to go to bed but energetic enough to face brushing teeth, etc., and if I miss it it’s like I’m too tired to go to bed so I might as well sit.

      A couple possibilities for nudging–I have automatic timers on my lights in my living room, and they go off at about ten. That’s quite a potent hint. If you’re on the computer, try something like LeechBlock or StayFocusd to cut yourself off. You can work around all of that if you need to, but it tips the scales more in the right direction.

      You’re a night owl and you have a long-ingrained pattern here. It’s not surprising that you’re finding that difficult to change. Sure, maybe it’s related to issues you’re dealing with in therapy, but I think just the physical rescheduling is challenging enough to daunt anybody in its own right.

      1. TheLazyB

        Thank you – particularly for your last paragraph. I feel like it should be easy and beat myself up when it’s not. There are also Issues caught up with it, so it really helps to hear someone say that it doesn’t sound like an easy fix to them.

      2. The IT Manager

        Ha! I too know the feeling of sitting there and simply being too tired to get up and go to bed.

    2. Ask a Manager Post author

      I have this problem! Total night owl, often not tired enough to sleep until 2 or 3 a.m. (I have a work schedule now that allows this kind of tomfoolery; when I had to get up earlier, I was still a night owl but not quite this bad.)

      And even on the occasional night when I’m tired enough to fall asleep early (11 or 12), I will wake up within a few hours! And then be up until, like, 4 or 5 because I dared to try to sleep earlier.

      I’ve always been a night person, but it’s definitely gotten far worse since my schedule allowed me to basically stay up as late as I want. I suspect that to fix it, I’d have to commit to regularly going to sleep at an earlier hour and never deviating — because as soon as I deviate, my body loves it and wants to shift permanently. If I were setting out to do that, I’d probably try melatonin, maybe even Tylenol PM for the first few nights – something to get my schedule reprogrammed with the hope of it sticking once there was a new pattern. Maybe an approach like that could work?

      1. TheLazyB

        Ooooh. I feel so much better for reading this :)

        I think I’ll look into this. Thank you – this idea literally never occurred to me!

          1. BritCred

            I definately do that. depends on times but usually around an hour or two after I get up I do almost *need* to go back to bed for a few more hours. Days I do that I’m better than when I have any other sleep pattern.

          2. Pennalynn Lott

            I definitely have the First Sleep / Second Sleep pattern. I will fall asleep, hard, anywhere between 10:00 and midnight. But then, every single night, I will wake up 3-4 hours later and be Wide Awake for at least two hours, many times three. Most of the time I just ride it out in bed, with the occasional peek at my phone for some web surfing. When I finally fall back asleep, I’m good for another 3-5 hours. So even though I’ve been in bed for 10-12 hours, I’ve really only gotten 6-8 hours of sleep.

            Thankfully, for now, I have a schedule that accommodates this.

    3. Kyrielle

      It may be easier to step it back 10-15 minutes a night until you’re on the schedule you want, rather than doing it whole hog and giving yourself a *really* short day, too.

      1. TheLazyB

        Surprisingly good point. I may have thought of it myself if I wasn’t so utterly exhausted ;-/

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I did this a couple of times when I knew I was going to Europe, I started getting up (forcing myself to get up) a bit earlier every day, then reminding myself that I was going to bed earlier that night throughout the day. By the time I was ready to go, I was getting up at midnight and desperately needing to sleep by 6pm. But of course once I got back, I quickly fell into my standard hours. I just don’t feel truly alert and energetic until around 4pm and that’s a problem.

          When I have an early morning coming up like I do this week, I’ll do something similar but for not as long, start getting up earlier a few days before to “train” myself to get used to it. I really wish I was one of those people who spring out of bed singing at 5am, but ugh. Nope.

    4. nep

      Oh, man. Adequate sleep makes such a difference — in everything…physical, mental…everything. Stating the obvious, I know. It’s just huge. I feel for you.
      Different things work for different people but a few things that help me sleep soundly: eye mask for total darkness, not eating anything heavy within about three hours of going to bed, stretching upon getting into bed. The hum of a fan often helps too.
      You might be surprised to find that even if you don’t feel inclined to get in bed — if you feel like you could keep going into the wee hours — just getting into a comfortable bed in total darkness, sleep might find you sooner than you think.

      1. TheLazyB

        Haha. I have used an eye mask before. I ended up elbowing my husband in the face as I had no idea where he was. Ooops.

        Having said that, our bedroom is pretty light as we’re at the front of the house and there are lots of street lights. Last night I put blankets over where the light comes in at the top and it did help. Darkness yay!

        It’s making myself get into bed that’s the issue. Once I’m there I usually have no trouble falling asleep. I feel like the problem is that I can EITHER be well rested and feel well, OR I can work when I am most productive. There is no middle ground. Or at least that’s how it feels.

        If I could persuade myself that if I was generally well rested I would be more productive I think that would really help. But atm I feel like I’m caught between the two – I don’t have my most productive time (or not much of it) and I don’t have enough sleep.

        Man I am so boring.

        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          Oh! Well, if your body will let you sleep earlier, this is probably fixable. Why not do an experiment where you just commit to getting into bed early for the next, say, three nights? And then see how you feel? If you are not in fact more productive, you don’t have to keep it up. I feel like short-term experiments are easier to do than deciding you’re going to switch forever.

        2. nep

          There is no question that we perform better having gotten adequate sleep. I’ve heard this said about yoga — it’s true in that case and with sleep: It doesn’t take time, it gives time.
          I get that it is a huge challenge to shift out of that rhythm in which you feel most productive at the hours you should headed to bed. As earlier commenters said, it’s possible to make that shift with time and consistency.
          All the best to you.

          1. TheLazyB

            Funnily enough I am also trying to develop a yoga habit!
            I need this to change. I am so sick of being short tempered and exhausted and miserable and unable to work hard at my university course.

            Thank you everyone. I really appreciate the support as much as the advice and tips :)

            1. nep

              And I reckon that once you make the shift, it won’t be only a matter of getting rid of the short-tempered-ness and exhaustion and inability to work to your potential; you’ll discover that you can feel better than you ever thought possible. Sleep is like a magic potion, there for the taking each and every night.
              Good luck and do keep us posted.

        3. TalleySueNYC

          (weekend’s over, so not sure if you’ll see this, but…)

          We have a streetlight right outside our bedroom window. For a decade, we had only normal curtains and venetian blinds over the window, and it was never really dark.

          Then I bought room-darkening curtain liners (in that decade they had finally started making them ready-made; I’d looked for them at the start but found that sewing my own was my only affordable option, and that wasn’t happening).
          The room is now really dark when we go to bed, and it’s amazing what a difference it makes!

          The other thing that happened was that when the -sun- comes up, it doesn’t actually get completely blocked. And so the rise in light levels wakes me up less jarringly.

    5. variety

      Want to second the small steps, bedroom as dark as possible and the timer ideas.
      Remember this does not need to be nor can be fixed over night. And the more stimulation there is from all sources (lights, TV, computer) the more awake/alert you will tend to be. Try to save the quieter activities for night time and find ways to do the more mentally/physically stimulating things during the day.

    6. Massachuset

      I’m also a nightowl, and someone who gets anxious when I feel like I should be sleeping or tired but not. So here’s some things that make me feel better: (1) Finding music or a podcast that makes me tired. There’s a certain podcast that I realized I always fell asleep to, and once I realized that I started playing it when I couldn’t sleep. (2) Stop watching all TV/iPad at least an hour before bed – I was kind of a skeptic here, but I tried it for a little while and while it’s not a sleeping pill, I do feel more sleep ready. (3) Taking warm baths (4) Exercise! I find on days I don’t exercise I have a much harder time sleeping.

    7. Ann Furthermore

      Have you tried yoga? When I’m really in my groove and doing it every day, I sleep soooo much better. I get up early and do 25-30 minutes each day. By the time 9 or 10 that evening rolls around, I’m tired and ready to sleep, but it’s a “good” tired….I don’t know how else to explain it. Like I’m not so exhausted that the thought of dragging myself to bed is almost too daunting, but more like I’ve had a productive day (because I do focus better and all the rest of it when I do yoga) and I’m ready to let my body get some rest. And when I do drift off, I sleep very soundly, almost always until the alarm goes off.

      1. TheLazyB

        I am hoping that I can get yoga into my routine. I start a full time job on 1 June after working part time since maternity leave and hope that I can get it as a proper habit before then. One class tomorrow morning, one Tues evening until then. Fingers crossed. I think if I can make it a regular practice yoga will do me SO much good.

    8. Colette

      I’m not a night owl, and yet I still have days where I get to bed late simply because I’ve turned into a rebellious three year old and don’t want to go to bed. You’re not alone I struggling with this.

      1. TheLazyB

        “I get to bed late simply because I’ve turned into a rebellious three year old and don’t want to go to bed.”
        This….. is depressingly close to what’s going on.
        Maybe I should put myself to bed no questions no ifs no buts no maybes like I do to my 3 y o :(

        1. Not So NewReader

          Begin your wind-down of your day earlier. Get done what you need to do, then start to wind down. Keep track of stimulants- tv, computer, heavy meals, snacking, coffee, heck, even phone calls can suddenly give you that energy burst that causes you to stay up late.

          I did my best when I had no tv and no food for an hour before bed. I would sit and read something calming/relaxing. It seems to take that long to flush the day’s events out of my head.

          I ended up looking at my life. The only part of the day I enjoyed was late at night and doing the various things I was working on. I had to ask “why is that?”
          Finally, I ended up getting pretty sick because I had other things running in the background. In order to get better, I had to make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Once I took tighter control over my life and quit putting everyone else’s needs ahead of mine, it became easier to turn in a the same time each night.
          If you are looking for motivation to stick to your sleep schedule tell yourself that if you do not learn to follow one on your own you could end up in a situation where you are forced to follow it. (yeah, if you can’t nicely talk yourself in to going to bed on time, then try scaring the crap out of yourself- see if that works.) I am saying this because you sound like me before I crashed. I was running on a few hours of sleep each night and limping along. Then my father took sick and my circuits went to overload. I could no longer limp along- I ended up pretty sick myself before I got back control over my life. It took me over a decade to dig myself out of that one. And that whole mess started innocently enough, I liked staying up late and I knew I could limp through the next day. Then suddenly one day I could no longer do that.

          1. TheLazyB

            This is really helpful. Scary but helpful. And I could all too easily find myself in a similar situation. Thank you.

              1. TheLazyB

                Thank you. I am far more likely to look after myself for his sake than my own. Whatever gets it done, I suppose :-/

    9. Kate R. Pillar

      Late to the party, but wanted to chime in:

      For myself, I have found that actually getting ready for bed way before I plan to go to bed tends to work rather well:
      If I am already in my pajamas and have my face washed and teeth brushed, I am much more likely to avoid that “too tired to face going to bed”-phase in front of the TV or computer, because it is much less effort.
      Being in my pajamas also tends to send “it would be good to do winding-down things now”-signals, so sometimes I actually succeed in choosing a book or magazine or some putting-laundry-away over TV

      Kinda embarrassed that I need to resort to tricks like these, but also relieved that I seem to not be alone…

  46. Sabrina

    My husband and I are adopting a dog! This weekend has been a trial visit for him, and assuming the rescue is OK with us, we want to keep him. He’s a 13 year old German Shepherd and Collie mix. He gets along just fine with our cat and he’s the sweetest thing ever. We know with him being 13, we won’t have a ton of time with him, but we plan to spoil him for as long as we are able.

    1. Cass

      Adopting an older dog is awesome! I adopted a 4 year old Morkie who came with his share of problems, but he is the most loving dog I’ve ever met/heard of in my life. We like to think he knows how fortunate he is to find his “forever home!”

      1. Marcela

        I’m 100% sure they know. My mothet and I took many cats and dogs from the streets. I estimate more than 150 by now, as we have been doing it for more than 10 years. The old ones, those who are not so cute, they always end in her house. They are the best pets you can get: loving, loyal, happy. One of them defend my brother when my father was scolding him. He pressed my father’s foot with his teeth, just enough to say “hey, I’m watching you”. My dad was laughing so hard he let my brother go :D

    2. TalleySueNYC

      Oh, I hope you have a good time with him.
      Next time I adopt a cat, I’m getting an older one. One whose personality is known. And one who wouldn’t be as easy to place. I know it means a quicker grief, but I can go with that.

      On the sociopathic side, it also means that I get a new and different personality into the household more rapidly, what with the “high rate of employee turnover.” :(

    3. Not So NewReader

      Oh, you bought tears to my eyes. My bestest dog was a shepherd/collie. He was gorgeous. And he was the sweetest dog I have ever had, so considerate of others. He also lived the longest of any of my dogs. I hope you guys get to keep him.

  47. T

    Does anybody have any words of advice for an adult who is about to learn how to drive? I’m in my mid-20s and, oh my god, I’m starting to think that the fear (and sort of shame) I have about not knowing how to drive is going to prevent me from learning. I’m afraid to sign up for classes/lessons because I can’t help but think the instructors are going to make me feel embarrassed for waiting so long to learn something that most 17 year olds can do. Any advice? Lol, I feel absolutely pathetic about this!

    1. fposte

      It looks like you’re on trend–people are getting licenses later these days. Looks like about half of those seventeen-year-olds you’re worrying about don’t have their licenses either. Is it possible that fear’s standing in for another one?

    2. danr

      Don’t be embarrassed. A friend at my former company took driving lessons at 50. She did pretty well, and the driving instructors loved having someone who paid attention to everything.

    3. CrazyCatLady

      Definitely don’t be embarrassed! It’s better now than never and I’m sure the instructors have taught people of all ages. And then once you learn and get your license, it’s over! You will no longer be an adult who doesn’t know how to drive :)

    4. Soupspoon McGee

      My mom learned to drive in her 40’s, a few years before I did. It’s not shameful at all! Instructors are there to help you, so they aren’t going to make fun of you or think less of you–and you have the maturity and problem-solving skills that most 17-year-olds are still developing. Instructors are going to be relieved to work with you :-).

    5. Marcela

      I learned to drive 3 months ago, and I’m 38. My instructor was fantastic. He never mentioned at all I was too old :D Seriously, he did say it was easier to teach older people, because they didn’t have to spend so much time focusing in security, telling us not to text while driving or about the dangers of speeding, or drink and drive. He could focus in teaching us about the car and the etiquette of driving. He also said he thought you have to learn when you need to drive, not before, because if you don’t need it, you won’t practice and you’ll forget.

      I know in the US it’s common to get a license as soon as you can, but even here there are many cities where public transportation is good enough so you don’t need to drive. What I mean by this is there are good reasons for never learning to drive. It’s not laziness, it’s not that you are pathetic. You had your reasons, now they don’t work for you anymore and that’s it. A good instructor will recognize that. If you happen to find a bad one… complain and ask for a refund (and write a review in Yelp).

    6. TalleySueNYC

      My teenager was scared of hitting other people. I told her, “Remember that everybody else on the road actually knows how to drive. And they have a huge motivation to prevent an accident. So you can count on them to look after themselves.”
      So, don’t be paralyzed.

      The other important thing is to never do anything sudden. Be predictable. Even if it means going around the block, or finding a parking lot to pull into. There’s always time to recover if you are methodical. It’s only when you are panicked that you won’t have time. If you -take- time to act, you’ll have time to recover.

      As for starting late: I don’t think the instructors will be as condescending as you think; remember, this is their job, and you will not be the first person to learn how to drive late in life.
      Also, depending on where you are, you will be less rare than you think. Here in NYC, most people don’t really need to drive a car. In my small hometown, walking was totally easy. Some cities (Mpls) are a nice mix of those two–neighborhoods for walking, public transit for bigger trips. So there are lots of people in your cohort.

    7. Rebecca

      Don’t feel embarrassed! You can do this :)

      Are you able to practice in a large parking lot, like after hours at a business, to get the feel of the car? It’s been 36 years since I took my test at 16, but what really helped me was driving my Dad’s standard truck in the field next to our house. I could learn how to shift, 3 speed on the column, without worrying about stalling with someone behind me. I practiced parallel parking in a parking lot, pretending the painted lines were cars and parking “behind” them. I think the other thing that helped was I was running the lawn tractor for 3 or 4 years prior to that, and I rode a snowmobile, so moving on to the car was just the next logical step.

      Good luck, and keep us updated.

      1. Graciosa

        Strong recommendation for spending time in a car on private property just getting used to being behind the wheel without the pressure of an instructor. It’s a lot of metal around you, and it takes some time to get a sense of where the vehicle is, and learn to use basic controls. Removing the pressure from this part of your learning is incredibly helpful.

        One other comment – try to make it a habit to tell yourself you can do the things that are important to you without worrying about what anyone else thinks. You will have a much happier life once you let this go of this particular inhibition.

        1. Pennalynn Lott

          Yep, get to know the dimensions of the vehicle you’ll be driving. When I was learning to drive, my favorite city bus driver said the best thing to do (if you can) is to buy those skinny, tall parking poles (made of plastic or rubber, and several feet taller than parking cones) and practice pulling forward and backing into them until it’s clear you’ve touched them, so you get to understand on an intuitive basis where your car starts and ends. So my dad bought a couple and we went to an abandoned shopping center and set them up so I could learn to parallel park between them, which meant bonking them with the front and back of my car until I got it right. No harm, no foul. (I think I also bonked them with the side of the car a few times, too. :-) )

          You can do this!

    8. 15.385 steps / octave

      If you’re in your 20s, your instructor is probably going to love you because you’re a) not young and distracted by your cellphone, and b) you’re not old with bad eyesight and notso hotso reflexes.

    9. Sunflower

      Don’t feel embarrassed about signing up for lessons. I actually think the majority of people who take driving lessons are older. Most 17 year olds get their parents to teach them so almost all the people I see taking lessons are older. I believe there are companies who only work with adult-learners so that might help you feel more confident?

    10. Not So NewReader

      My aunt was 68 when she went for her driver’s license. She had to. Her husband lost both his legs. This is life- people all have stories. And driving instructors are so very used to it.

      I helped my friend get her driver’s license and I will tell you, it was a privilege for me. She was in her mid to late twenties when she decided to go for it. Yes, she was hugely nervous but she and I went out practicing together anyway. She was super safety conscious which is why I volunteered to help her in the first place. I so admired her determination to overcome her hurdles, she just kept working at everything. When she went for her test, she pulled away from the curb with the test examiner as if she had been driving for the last ten years. I almost cried-she did so well. And this will probably be you. I think a huge contributing factor was her age. And your age will work for you, not against you.

      Knowledge is power. The more you learn about driving the better you will feel about driving. I encouraged my friend to get involved in conversations where people were talking about their driving experiences. Listen when people talk about cars, don’t ignore or tune out the conversation. Read random articles that you see in the news about driving. Make it a life-long habit to learn everything you can about driving. This is the worst part right here because this is the time period where you know the least about driving. It will not get worse than it is now.
      Ask the instructor questions. Ask questions of trusted friends/family.

      My friend said it was important to her that she talk to another woman about driving and get a woman’s viewpoint. She liked talking to our boss also, because he got his license around the same age, too. Find people similar to yourself and listen to their stories.

    11. skyline

      I learned to drive when I was in my mid-20s, because I was moving from Boston to a city inadequate public transit for graduate school. I took lessons, but a dear friend also let me drive around the suburbs in her ancient tank of Volvo. I did, um, manage to get a flat tire in her car the second time out. I bought her new tires, and we are still friends! And I passed my road test on the first try. :)

      I really benefited from taking driving lessons because I felt really safe in the instructional car. (The instructor had their own set of brakes for emergencies.) I’d recommend it. It can be stressful to learn from people you know, so working with a professional can take out that out of the equation. On a side note, my driving teacher was recommended to me by a work colleague–someone who was smart, savvy, cosmopolitan, and quite a bit older. She was just learning to drive at her age because she’d lived in New York for most of her adult life. There’s no shame in waiting to get your license.

  48. Soupspoon McGee

    A friend is getting married to a woman with two kids, ages 4 and 7. I’m trying to think of good wedding gifts for the family (and I’m on a serious budget). Can y’all recommend board games that kids and adults enjoy? What other ideas do you have?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      I just played Sorry! with three adults, a 5-year-old and a 9-year-old. There’s always Apples to Apples or Monopoly. 4 is a tough age, because they’re juuuuust too young for the older games and almost too old for the baby-ish games, like Candy Land, but the kids will get older. :)

      1. Emily

        Haaa, I’m pretty sure I liked Candy Land way past the age of 4, but I might be the exception rather than the rule. My parents must have been very patient to play it with me. :P