weekend free-for-all – April 4-5, 2015

Lucy on postThis 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: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff. I love books that are told solely through letters, and this one is the author’s 20-year correspondence with a London bookseller. It’s about books, food, the war, and more. You should read it under a quilt with a cup of tea.

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

{ 927 comments… read them below }

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I went to one of those follow the leader painting classes this morning, which was fun; I will definitely do another. Then I spent a hour putting my new immersion blender to the test – ranch dressing, avocado dressing, vinaigrette, and pesto. Afternoon plan is to veg on the couch and finish my book ( Moloka’i by Alan Brennert, highly recommend) in between loads of laundry. Tomorrow is Easter Stuff.

      1. Labyrinthine*

        Oooh I did one of those once! Ours was Starry Night. I had my doubt, but it was so much fun!

    2. nep*

      Enjoying first day off in a long time. Lots of reading. Practicing musical instruments. On Sunday helping a sibling move if she doesn’t get everything done by then.

    3. Jen RO*

      I just got back from a board games session. A lovely American dude on Reddit offered to bring me Cards Against Humanity (they don’t ship to my country) and today I got to try it out!

      I also went for a test drive, because I’m planning to buy my first car this year, eep.

      1. acmx*

        They have the game available as a download for free, is that blocked for your country? (Unless this guy is getting you your own copy, then moot point :) )

        1. Jen RO*

          I tried to get it printed, but I ran into all sorts of problems like how do I cut the cards nicely and whether or not to laminate them. After seeing the real deal, I’m glad I bought the set instead, it looks great!

      2. Connie-Lynne*

        We mixed Bible Apples to Apples and CAH together a while ago. It was far less blasphemous than we thought it would be, but it was hilarious.

        1. Clever Name*

          I went to a awkward party where CAH was brought up, and one person was like “well we love this Proverbs game”. I now use whether or not a person enjoys CAH as a litmus test for whether or not we’ll get along. (I’m in the CAH camp.)

      3. Artemesia*

        We got it for Christmas and it was fun for a group but while I don’t mind the raunchy answers which can be fun, there are some that made me cringe. We were sharing a house with Jewish inlaws and I got a card where the comedic answer was ‘Auschwitz’ — I am thinking there is no possible joke where that is going to be funny.

        1. Emily*

          I will play Cards Against Humanity occasionally, if I’m with other people who want to play it – but a lot of the really insensitive humor (like the Auschwitz card) is not really my thing.

        2. Nashira*

          There’s a way to play CAH where you use incredibly black humor as a way to handle terrible things like the Holocaust, bigotry, etc. But whether or not a specific group can play that way is awfully hard to find out until after you’re partway through a game and someone has just gone “it’s funny because it’s true” and shown off some interior awfulness. It’s one reason why I only play it with people who also use the black humor approach, whom I know will do it “right” for my tastes.

          Otherwise, there’s always knitting in my purse.

        3. HR Generalist*

          We play with the rule that if something is terribly offensive you can discard the card back into the box so it doesn’t get played that game. Usually the Auschwitz card ends up in there and whatever else makes you cringe, depending on who is playing. There are a couple of cards about amputees and we have two amazing friends – one with an amputated leg (and a gold medal hockey player) and one with a birth defect who has less than the usual number of fingers, so the amputee cards usually get thrown out.

      4. Elizabeth West*

        We’re supposed to play it in my Doctor Who group next meetup–we’re mixing the DW cards with the regular ones. I have been dying to play this thing. I can’t wait. >:)

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      At my MILs with my family. Finished with my chore list…for now. (I’m both High Shelf Reacher and Tech Support.)

      :)

      1. the gold digger*

        My husband is the designated Tech Support person in my family. I am so lucky he is able and willing to help my aunts and uncles. We stay with my aunts and uncles every summer on our way up north and it is so hard to find nice hostess gifts for them – they are not big drinkers, you can get Good Cheese where they are, and they are not about fancy soap. So I am very happy that Primo is able to help them with their computer issues, which they always have. He doesn’t mind – spending an hour working on a computer is far better than what he does at his mom and dad’s, which includes cleaning the cat box, the wall next to the cat box, and the floor around the cat box and emptying and rinsing his father’s urine bottles, a task for which he expressed mild distaste and his dad got insulted.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          What the hell do they do when he’s not there, and why don’t they just do that when he IS there? I’ve emptied urine bottles and bags for people, but I’ve either been paid or I’ve offered to help because I wanted to do so. Since I have been a professional caregiver, it’s easy for me to offer, but if you haven’t done that before it is pretty awkward. Considering that Primo has to fly to see them, I hope they’re not going months between cleaning the litter.

          You need to get Primo to read the Raised By Narcissists subreddit.

          1. the gold digger*

            Oh Sly and Doris. Sly apparently thinks his excreta has no odor.

            Primo was there for a week helping Sly and Doris after Sly had a knee replaced. Primo has already decided that he doesn’t care what Sly wants, for the other knee, Sly will be going to a rehab center after the surgery.

            As far as the cats – I think they just leave it. Not the litter, but the mess that happens outside the box with their old, becoming incontinent cats. I know. They are gross.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              I’m glad he’s decided to draw a line. After you start setting boundaries, it gets much easier the more you do it.

              1. the gold digger*

                ExceptionToTheRule, I have! I started my blog because it was not as intimidating as writing an entire book. I decided I would just blog scenes and put them together later. Now I have a five years’ worth of posts and the drafts of two manuscripts, one about Sly and Doris and one about Primo’s run for the state house.

                As far as drawing lines, Cosmic Avenger, I agree. Setting boundaries is a learned skill. I wish Primo would go to Al-Anon and learn even more boundary setting, but I can’t make him do it. In the meantime, every time Sly starts talking, I think, “Just go on with your mean old self, Sly. I am taking notes and someday, you will see yourself in a novel.”

    5. Andraste*

      I work an average M-F 9-5 schedule, and my boyfriend works a F-M retail schedule, so we never have weekends off together. His store is closed Sunday for Easter, and I’m THRILLED. Our first day off together since New Years. We got some veggies to plant and are going to go to the zoo. :)

      1. BRR*

        I’m in a similar situation and i’m so excited. I like my alone time but it’s so difficult never having time off together.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          I’m hoping it is addicting actually! We got it last July for our wedding, haven’t used it since, and it’s going into storage in 3 months. We’re doing fresh strawberry today, and I bought the mint extract for mint chocolate chip. It’s way more involved than I thought it would be..

          1. danr*

            Look for no-egg recipes. Those don’t need heating and cooling. Just combine the ingredients and away you go.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              Or use my modification: substitute cream cheese for the eggs in the recipe. You do have to get it pretty soft so it will mix with the sugar, but after that, it is just combining the ingredients. Use one box if you just want the straight substitution, two boxes if you want a cream cheese flavor in the mix.

      1. Artemesia*

        The ice cream maker that had sat in the closet for a decade was oddly not disposed of when we moved from giant suburban house in the south to tiny urban condo in the north. I thought the grandchild might enjoy it. I have made all this cool stuff this past year. On line there are all sorts of recipes and you can improvise. I made a lemon basil gelato with fresh basil that was just wonderful. I have made mojito sorbet, and orange/rosemary sorbet and we always love maple ice cream which is just a cup of milk, a cup of heavy cream and a cup of maple syrup. What is really fun is to make things that you can’t buy — and it makes a nice dessert for a dinner party especially when it is unique.

        1. the gold digger*

          Have you made brown bread ice cream? We had some in England a few years ago and have not been able to find it since. It sounds odd, but it was so delicious! It reminded me of the Grape Nuts ice cream that we got when I was a kid living in the Panama Canal Zone and that I have never seen in the US. Sounds really bizarre but tastes awesome.

          Is it possible to just add some of those flavors to vanilla ice cream, do you think? I would be afraid to buy an ice cream maker because I would be using it all the time.

        2. Treena Kravm*

          Ooo! You’ve just given me the brilliant idea of trying alcoholic sorbets now. We have so. much. alcohol to drink up before the move, this is great =)

          1. Jaune Desprez*

            Bear in mind that alcohol (especially high proof alcohol) won’t freeze at the temperatures a home freezer can reach. If you use a lot of it, you may end up with something closer to a slushy. I use a couple of tablespoons of alcohol in most of my homemade ice cream recipes to keep them from freezing to the consistency of a brick, but too much will keep them from setting at all.

    6. Abu Dhabi angst*

      My boyfriend and I had a little staycation in a fancy hotel this weekend and both got ourselves thoroughly sunburnt at the pool. Also, I ate a lot of Mexican food (you wouldn’t think there’d be good Mexican food in Abu Dhabi but good news, there is) and froyo, and our cat was extra cute when we came home – she couldn’t decide if she was mad at us for leaving or relieved we were back for cuddling, so she galloped around the apartment, sat in the suitcase, took swipes at our feet from under the sofa, meowed a lot and finally settled down for a nap on top of my neck. It’s been a great weekend!

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I went to my women’s wisdom Cisco’s meeting this morning and brought my mother in law with my daughter and me. She’s visiting from Colorado for the purpose of getting legal guardianship of her elderly parents. One of the women in the circle is a retired social worker for elder protective services, and she has been of immense help to my mother in law over the phone. It was nice to introduce the two of them to each other in person. They have plans for lunch later this week while I’m at work, and I’m glad that my MIL has another source of support and friendship while she’s here.

        1. the gold digger*

          I was so confused trying to figure out what computer hardware had to do with all of this! But then I thought, “Well, you can find advice almost anywhere.”

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Elder care is really complicated! It’s good that you were able to get someone to help your MIL through that. It’s tough enough to see our parents aging.

    8. Shell*

      Went bouldering Thursday night and now my body is loudly pronouncing its displeasure in the form of aches everywhere and an all-day migraine yesterday. xD I will probably hit the pool tomorrow, but otherwise I’m just going to laze about. My responsible thing for the weekend will be to fold my laundry.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        How do you get started with bouldering? It seems so fun but I don’t know if you can just do it in your own, or if you need to take a lesson?

        1. Shell*

          I would recommend lessons to get some basic technique down, but gear-wise, it’s pretty much just climbing shoes (chalk optional). I took a newbie friend to my climbing gym on Thursday (she top-roped a few times, never bouldered) and we had a blast. We fell down a lot, but we had a blast.

          If you don’t have a fear of heights (I do, so this seems like an exercise of masochism) you can try it out on your own and ask for beta and other tips from other climbers. But the thought of blundering through while falling from heights terrified me so I bought some beginner lessons.

        2. Todapod*

          Long time climber here – you can take lessons of you would like to but it is in no way necessary for entry to the sport! Most climbers I know, including myself, began by just going to a crag or climbing gym, trying lots of things, falling often and having fun doing it! Bouldering is one part climbing and three parts falling off why you’re climbing, so please don’t worry – no one is judging you!

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            Thanks for the reassurance! I’ve done climbing at a gym a few times (years ago) – top roping, I think? But bouldering seems so much more fun and less stress (and less gear). Are there websites you use to find good spots to go?

    9. Carrie in Scotland*

      Wishing it was longer! (I don’t get either the Friday or Monday off work)

      For some reason I have that feeling where I Must Do Something so will go on a little day trip tomorrow – a little cafe, a little walk…just to get out of the city.

    10. Al Lo*

      It’s a 4-day long weekend here, which is great. I’m hosting Easter dinner tomorrow, somewhat unexpectedly. My grandmother had a stroke and is on life support, so my parents (who were going to host) are flying out at midnight to see her and say goodbye, and I’m hosting the (other side of the) family tomorrow. Planning to be flying out later in the week for a funeral, but the timing on that is all still up in the air right now.

      In any case, I’m spending today cleaning and cooking and getting ready for 20 people to descend upon my house tomorrow.

    11. OfficePrincess*

      I’m aiming for a whole lot of nothing. My husband is out of town and I can’t go visit family for the holiday, so I have a date with a well-stocked TiVo. If I can find a place that’s open, I may get a pedicure tomorrow. I also set a goal of having our wedding album done before our first anniversary, which is getting close, so I may work on that if the mood strikes.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        I did the albums as Christmas gifts for our parents, so I had Christmas as my deadline. I was procrastinating soo hard, until I found MyPublisher, which is amazingly easy while still completely customizable. Check it out, it really helped me!

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m in Florida at my parents’ place for Passover. I was supposed to be relaxing (as much as one can around my parents), but I’ve had to work, plus I’ve had some pretty bad headaches since arriving on Thursday. But we went to a lovely seder last night and my bf and I found some time to go to the Big Cypress Preserve today, where we saw a giant alligator just lounging in our path.

    13. Merry and Bright*

      Yesterday was a holiday where I am and I have been spring cleaning my flat for two days, looking in on AAM for a break sometimes. The dull chromework in my bathroom is now gleaming. I have also finished sorting out my bookcases. Tomorrow joining my sister’s children for a charity Easter egg hunt. Monday lots of tea and dipping into rediscovered books from reorganised collection.

    14. Anonyby*

      I worked today, and have a monthly board game night hosted by friends a & b. Tomorrow is an all-afternoon/evening party party hosted by friends c & d. I think a & b kept the board game night on its regularly scheduled night because they have family obligations that prevent them from coming to c & d’s party. lol

      I’m also planning on bringing a bunch of homemade soaps (just need labels), a zombie bunny cake (homemade), and savory cheese cutouts to c & d’s party, and I really would feel awful if I didn’t bring food to the board game night tonight…

    15. Elkay*

      I had planned to get through Prisoners of War which has been on the TiVo for months but I don’t think I’ll manage all of it. Today I have made a dessert for lunch at my parents house tomorrow while listening to the Gilmore Guys podcast.

    16. Graciosa*

      Cleaned part of the garage (not the whole thing because I deserve some time off!) and made cookies before settling down to watch Cupcake Wars.

      One of the contestants is making blackberry margarita cupcakes –

    17. danr*

      This is a food weekend. I’m back from our family’s Passover Seder. We do a fast version. Twenty minutes then we eat. Tomorrow my wife and I are making a small Easter dinner. We tell folks that we have a mixed marriage… Yankees / Mets.

    18. CrazyCatLady*

      I’m going on a 13 mile hike with a meetup group! It’s my first time using meetup, so I’m a little nervous, but at least I’ll be doing something I love.

    19. Ann Furthermore*

      I’m staying with my mom this weekend. She had emergency surgery on Monday night. They sent her home Wednesday afternoon, but she was back at the hospital that night because she was having trouble breathing. They got that under control and she came home yesterday. She’s on oxygen, and also has a nebulizer, and they really help. She’ll hopefully be back to breathing on her own in a couple weeks. All in all, a pretty impressive recovery for someone who is 84 years old.

      I’m glad I can stay with her and give my brother a much needed break. But this was unplanned. I’d been out of town for work, doing some software testing. It was going to continue next week. I’d been really looking forward to a spa day today with my best friend from high school, and then going back to my hotel and binge watching season 3 of House of Cards. A complete weekend of solitude and pulling up the drawbridge.

      Then all of a sudden, yesterday the higher ups announced that the project has been pushed out 2 months, so the rest of the testing was canceled. My boss was very cool and said I could still stay through the weekend, but there were no flights available at all other than one yesterday. So my hibernation weekend went up in smoke.

        1. Ann Furthermore*

          Well when there were no flights available, and I realized that I had 10 days of clothes with me and had only used up 3, it seemed like my guardian angel was tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to go spend some time with my mom. So that’s what I did.

    20. Mimmy*

      Just got back from an Easter dinner (yes, a night early) with all my relatives on my mom’s side at a country club. I was getting a little nervous because at the end, the kids were trying to get a bit of a dance party going, but many of us were able to escape without getting sucked in, lol.

      Tomorrow is Mass then brunch at my parents’ house with just my immediate family (siblings and their families). There’s 19 of us, so it’ll still be a bit chaotic but nothing like tonight.

    21. Nina*

      Studying for exams tonight, then brunch tomorrow morning with the family. Then more studying. So much fun! /sarcasm.

    22. peanut butter kisses*

      Reading another Jojo Moyes book so I can see if the wonderful Me Before You was just a one off or not.

    23. Ruffingit*

      I slept for a good portion of the day. Getting over bronchitis, still on meds, but feeling much better. Had dinner out with my husband and my mom, then did some bargain shopping at Goodwill. All in all, a nice way to spend the day. :)

    24. Soupspoon McGee*

      I’m studying chemistry and microbiology, with breaks to bake, walk the dog, hang out with the fella, and do housework. Living large!

    25. It'sOnlyMe*

      I just found Bloodline on Netflix and I am bingeing, it’s fantastic. I should be doing 100 other things but I am glued to the screen.

    26. Rachel*

      I live in Israel, and my company is closed this week for passover. It’s a “forced” vacation, but the company takes half the hours out of our vacation days and gives us the other half. Looking forward to a week alternating between day trips in this gorgeous weather, catching up on laundry, and doing absolutely nothing. :-)

    27. StillHealing*

      Sang the Hallelujah chorus twice today (each Unitarian service) ….. yes, we sorta celebrate Easter. More like a celebration of Spring.

  1. Elkay*

    I saw the play of 84 Charing Cross Road. It’s beautiful and wonderful because it’s true.

    Sidenote: You’ve Got Mail is based on the story.

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      Jeez, it seems I cannot escape this book. I guess I’m going to have to read it. A couple of weeks ago, someone who I used to work with a very long time ago posted one of that company’s sales kits on Facebook, and it included a copy of that book. I was mystified, because the person who designed that sales kit — it was not what I would have expected — and apparently that sales kit worked like gangbusters. Odd coincidence it shows up here now.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You’ve Got Mail is based on The Shop Around the Corner, but I don’t think on Charing Cross Road (different stories; no romance in Charing Cross Road)… am I totally wrong?

      1. Phyllis*

        There is a movie of 84 Charing Cross, with Anthony Hopkins, Anne Bancroft, and Judy Dench. Terrific little film.

        1. Ruffingit*

          I love both the book and the move of 84 Charing Cross. The story is beautiful in so many ways.

      2. Elkay*

        Ooops my bad, I just had it stuck in my head that it was based on 84 Charing Cross Road despite it not being at all similar.

      3. Blinx*

        Haven’t read the book, but the movie is a wonderful, quiet little piece. No romance, but a friendship that spans many years, based on a mutual love of books. The story really opened my eyes to the post-war austerity measures that Britain lived through — food rationing that lasted years after WWII ended, in huge contrast to life in the States.

        1. Just me, Vee*

          Loved that book! That was the first epistolary novel I’d ever read, and I love that type of novel now.

          1. peanut butter kisses*

            The author wrote other books that are similar in nature. They are hard to find though.

    3. Artemesia*

      The movie is pretty good. Ann Bancroft is the American writer and Anthony Hopkins is the English bookstore employee.

      1. the gold digger*

        Is that the one where she sends care packages to his family and then when she finally gets to London and tries to meet him — well, you know? (Don’t want to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t seen it.)(But if it’s the one I saw, it is wonderful.)

  2. Merry and Bright*

    Love this book and its sequels. I like the film too.

    Also love this week’s cat photo.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I just looked it up and I can order both the book and the film from my local library so perhaps later on in the week I will do that :)

      Also, yes, the cat picture is awesome!

  3. Shell*

    Ugh. Okay, so I definitely don’t feel mature writing this, but I need to vent a little.

    End of February I was cleaning out my closet and saw a bunch of stuffed animals from when I was a kid (I was a huge stuffed animals person). Decided to donate them because I hadn’t touched them in around ten years. There was a bear I was kind of on the fence about, but then decided eh, it’s been at least ten years, let some kid actually play with the thing. I did, however, make a mental note to revisit the donation bag before collection day (about a week away).

    Lo and behold, I got utterly slammed at work for about two, three weeks. Even seasoned vets were going nuts; I, the not-quite-one-month-old newbie, was so exhausted that I came home and immediately crashed into a two-hour nap almost every day for those two to three weeks. (I quite like my new job; we were just busy. But that’s neither here nor there.) I forgot completely about the donation. My parents bundled up the bag and donated it on schedule, and I didn’t even notice until last week.

    Predictably, I am now totally gutted by the loss of that bear. (Especially since he was slightly damaged and thus has a higher than normal chance of being sent to the landfill and not just to some kid who’ll actually play with him. Losing him is bad, the idea that he’s rotting in a landfill is a lot worse.) Can’t find a replacement (it’s 22 years old and from another country), and even if I could, that’s not really the point. The chances of me running into the bear is about 0, given that my parents can’t even remember the charity that picked it up, and that there’s about sixty million thrift stores in the city and suburbs that he could’ve gone to.

    So, no bear, no replacement. And I know I just need to get the hell over it, but I’m so damn upset about this. I don’t know why since I haven’t played with the thing in at least a decade, but I am upset and I can’t talk myself out of it.

    Someone shake some sense into me.

    1. Job-Hunt Newbie*

      It’s because the bear was special to you, and you have great memories of it! It’s okay to feel like that; I went through those motions with some of my old toys/items from when I was a young child. It’s a sense of security (I kept my baby blanket for the longest time on my bed as a child), and good feelings.

      Don’t feel like you’re being senseless about the bear. You wanted some time to think, and something happened outside of that plan that resulted in you not being able to make a decision to keep or donate it.

      Totally normal. :)

    2. BRR*

      Is part of it that you technically weren’t the one who made the final decision to get rid of it?

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      Erm… I have a childhood toy in a drawer because I couldn’t bear the thought of throwing it out (not a bear, though). So yeah, you’re not alone in that.

      Unfortunately, the choice was made for you and you don’t have anything you can do except get over it (unless you want to make a last desperate run to the charity to find it). Have a few drinks, have a good cry, have a hot bath and mourn him like you would a beloved pet as it does kind of represent your childhood that is also lost and not coming back. I know I should take my own advice but… I can’t do that right now. Maybe one day, or maybe there will have to be a provision in my will to cover that (which, yes I know, is completely stupid).

    4. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

      How about… consider it an act of generosity and good karma; know that the bear is finding its way to someone who needs it more now. And find yourself a new version of the bear for your life now that brings you adult joy and comfort. I have never had stuffed (or real) animals and they don’t interest me much, but I certainly understand losing things that are loaded with meaning for you and having to find a way to let them go. It’s not easy, but it’s no good to harbor any regrets or should-haves.

      1. C Average*

        This.

        (And for what it’s worth, I would TOTALLY have been the kid to beg my mom to buy me THAT bear at the Goodwill because he was hurt and I knew I could fix him with my needle and thread. I acquired a vast stuffed animal collection, many of them of the Real variety (to borrow the wonderful concept from “The Velveteen Rabbit,” which you should go and read right now), and still have a few of them at my parents’ house.

        My husband and I both still have our very first stuffed animals. His is a very love-worn stuffed panda and mine is an equally love-worn brown bear. We have them sitting side by side on a table in our room. It’s kind of nauseatingly adorable. I smile whenever I see them.

        1. Shell*

          Ha, your matching bears made me smile too. (Mine was also a panda bear, for the record. And when I was googling panda plushies this week I got all growly because argh panda bears nowadays don’t look right and the proportions are all wrong and they’re too skinny/plump/fuzzy/floppy/insert laundry list of things that are wrong unless they were my exact panda old woman grumble.)

          Unfortunately, the damage was a burn caused by a nightlight, so probably beyond most easy fixes. I do hope that he’s spared from the landfill, though.

          1. C Average*

            Here’s a picture of them: http://bit.ly/1P8vkpX.

            I’m so sorry about the loss of your bear. I really hope he’s found a good home with a bleeding-heart kid like me. I was always dragging home dolls with missing legs and matted hair and fixing them up again, and sewing and patching wounded stuffed animals. I’d have absolutely taken home a panda of a certain age with a night-light scar.

              1. Shell*

                Still no dice. I get this:

                403. That’s an error.

                Your client does not have permission to get URL /XibPuTlPjfmsB47dSjNPlO0TFyfAmP8WPPHpj2DY_LrHc89jYZI-viJ3QnWFcZk7OCYf66fB3Hq5-bDIYyHjwEuSdXmfmiuTX8xDZTV99yfy-orwSZ25a5mSwmojsyTvQYC0AJSkOlt0PSsLivXDfixXKLZJ6m4FmNcYTmrTuOW6EwCn1FFx9IaQUSCdnA0Qk_aZJ5eVdrgodTtr1YCAHZVYRMWfY-hTItxeX-v0bQ4kGxPTa1BGi1dwhGdS0r9MXZwxjHaUFz15RRmDcZkdKPeRgE6Ur5uG9iaHLH3fkvcIs16uVzDt43jlo-KySwqTe61AdBNPLzmX8jXKbkSFiZoZpOuxLxXxc09CYOEGWXT29tHv2RHPKVifAFntaDxlbmJyOKingk1Qr6Gnx8hmPU5dHfiAWbFypJZtJOSg4vXyAgDdz6eAvklFwR36b3f3aF8hoBN5mX8jQIQxyeURAMOKo49n-bkOMy2EpYJNHF2pUmjIMPT-WCgTG9_IaOucJquGz31grJmLFCOMJ4Lvb_TzuiBAlhJ7Vz_kKJZIV1cyzQDHLPhqN69jyRucAUnQbWek=w1566-h643-l75-ft from this server. (Client IP address: )

                Forbidden That’s all we know.

                It’s cool, no worries. And I hope my panda goes on to turn into some other kid’s matching set in another 20 or so years… :)

    5. MsM*

      I’ve been there. Gave the toy to a friend with a small child, then turned around and wondered “Why did I do that?” I remembered later when the friend reported that the toy was now Small Child’s favorite. Since you’re probably not going to get a similar report, maybe try watching Toy Story 3?

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. I was in my early twenties and I had to get rid of my animals. I had gotten rid of some, but my father lost the house to pay medical bills. So the stuff in the house either had to come to my little apartment or be gotten rid of somehow.
      omg. It took everything I had to throw that bag into the Salvation Army box. It was awful. I tried to picture them not winding up at a dump some where.
      So here I am decades later and I still have stuff animals. Yes, somehow I acquired more. But it’s socially acceptable because they say “Gund” or “Steif” on them… right?… lol.

      Cry it out. Then use it as an excuse to go get a “cool” stuffed animal.

    7. Connie-Lynne*

      Aw, it’s OK to feel bad about this stuff. Heck, I had to get rid of a bunch of stuffed animals a while back (no space, and, c’mon, I’m 45) and I felt so bad. I worry about their feelings!

    8. matcha123*

      I think it’s fine to feel the way you feel. I would feel the same way. And that’s why I pitched a fit when my mom suggested getting rid of some of my old toys. Some people don’t care about things and will toss stuff when the mood strikes. I’m not one of those people.

    9. edj3*

      I had a few carefully saved stuffed animals from my childhood that my kids had also used. I was storing them in a small storage cage in the basement of my apartment building, and the caretaker broke in and stole my luggage–which is where the animals were stored. I was simultaneously furious and so very, very sad .

      So no, I’m not going to shake sense into you. It’s a loss even if in the scope of all loss, a smaller one. Loss is loss.

    10. ExceptionToTheRule*

      I refuse to shake sense into you since I still have the tiger cub stuffed toy that I got over 35 years ago. He’s been mended and re-stuffed more times than I can count.

  4. Auntie Em*

    Read “84” many years ago, before my first trip to England. I was actually at the location of the bookshop, which of course is gone now, but there were still many bookshops on Charing Cross Road in 1984!
    Recently saw the movie and read the sequel to the book. Highly recommend it! Hanff had a terrific sense of humor.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      You are right – Helene Hanff is very funny.
      Charing Cross Road was always famous for its second hand bookshops.
      Last time I saw the building it had become a restaurant.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        This was an article recently about independent bookshops in the UK – it mentions quite a few Charing Cross bookshops past & present. Might be interesting.
        I’ll post the link separately in case of moderation.

          1. Merry and Bright*

            Thanks for posting – that is really interesting. I can identify with a lot of that, e.g. the storage space!

            Daunts are doing a great job.

            I don’t live in London now (priced out when I started living on my own) but I am lucky to have an independent bookshoop nearby. Have spent many hours in Charing Cross Road back in the day!

            1. Carrie in Scotland*

              I did like Daunts when I was in London last year. It was the first time I’d managed to visit one.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I haven’t been to Daunts, but I found Hatchards (oldest UK bookshop, now owned by Waterstones) and Word on the Water–the London Book Barge. I especially love the Book Barge and have thrown them my support in their to-do with the Canal and River Trust (grrrr).

  5. nep*

    (Tried to put something up about a piece in the UK Guardian — oops, just realised it’s work-related (and the link might be an issue).)

  6. Dana*

    I just want to say hi! It’s so nice to start commenting and getting to know all the commenters I see every time I read. Random facts: Favorite movie: A Goofy Movie (by Disney) Favorite color: Black Favorite singer: Janet Jackson My dream: To travel the world

  7. Kimmy Gibbler*

    For people like me who love to travel, I want to recommend this website: http://www.theflightdeal.com (or, you can follow them on Facebook or Twitter). Whenever I see fabulous flight deals posted, I always assume that I’ll never be able to get them. BUT, last weekend I booked tickets to take my 12 and 14 year old boys to Beijing for $596 each (I’m going to climb the Great Wall of China with them!), and today I booked tickets to go to Vietnam in November for $552! It’s going to be a fun fall!

    1. C Average*

      Congrats! This sounds exciting.

      I’m off to check out that site right now. I have been dithering about joining my husband on a business trip to Israel. All the tickets I’ve seen are crazy expensive and the trip would be short, but I’d SO love to go.

      1. Sandy*

        For Israel, make sure the trip isn’t around Passover/Easter (safe bet now!) and consider if you would be willing to fly some Eastern European or Russian Airlines. Flights from the U.S. to Israel via the Ukraine have regularly been under 600 bucks return lately (with the caveat that you have to fly through the Ukraine)

        1. C Average*

          Yeah, I’d been thinking of going the first week in May. I don’t think I will. It’s just too expensive and for too short a time. I’m disappointed–I’d gotten really excited when my husband mentioned the possibility, but then I actually priced out the thing and nixed it. He gets sent there for work every couple of years. I’ll go next time.

    2. Lucy Eleanor Moderatz*

      That’s great! It seems like the kind of site that if you check in regularly, you can find something 1-2x/year, but the price makes it worth it.

      I love hipmunk, any other really great sites people like?

      1. Kimmy Gibbler*

        I just can’t even express how excited to take my kids to China! My younger son is super excited, my older son is reluctant. But, I really want to expand their life views, give them a different understanding of how other people live, learn some important history about another part of the world, talk about politics, the one child policy, and have a meaningful talk about censorship (which will SERIOUSLY be driven home once they realize you can’t access Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. from China). I need to find a balance to challenge their comfort levels while we explore a country that has so many amazing things to see and foods to eat (that one is going to be a major challenge) and keep them interested.

        My current plan is to give them some sort of incentive to do various things this summer while learning about China: watching YouTube videos of trips around different cities, taking a virtual tour of the Forbidden City, reading about the one child policy, etc.

        1. Vancouver Reader*

          I hope you’ll follow up after your trip and let us know how it goes. Obviously, I don’t know where you’re living, but going there after living in North America for most of my life was a definite culture shock even after reading up on it.

      2. thisisit*

        i actually use google flight search – great interface. we have a lot of those last minute deal sites here too – but everytime i do a price check on my own, i can find cheaper accommodation….

    3. Dan*

      Your kids are lucky. I’ve been to 22 countries since I left my parents’ nest, (prior to leaving, we had been to Canada once) and all my mother can say is “I don’t understand why you want to do that.”

      I’m going to Vietnam in December, and my tickets only cost me about $100 :)

      1. Sheep*

        How did you manage that? Super cheap! I’m jealous!

        Which 22 countries have you been to? (Curious to see people’s priorities in terms of travelling!) I have a little competition with myself/some friends, trying to make/keep the number of countries I’ve been to higher than my age. I’m doing pretty well (I’ve got 34), which was helped a lot by the fact that I lived in Kosovo 3 years ago (7 new countries in 6 months), and since last year I’ve lived in Liberia, Haiti, and now Jordan. A friend of mine totally wins with around 70 countries!

  8. AMD*

    We are house hunting for our first house, in preparation for starting a family (aiming for about two kids in the next five years.) Any general advice? Also, we have found a nice place in the middle of our budget, but it is just barely big enough – 3 smallish bedrooms, a nice mixed dining room/kitchen, small family room and breakfast nook that we woukd turn into a computer room. All new furnace, heater, cabinets, windows. No room to add any more rooms on, by finishing the basement or attic etc. We would need to keep our extensive book and board game collections, which are important to us, in the occasionally damp basement. No playroom, very little room for the kids to have desks etc.

    Has anyone had to choose a smaller house, or upgraded to a larger house, and had success? For us it feels like a nice but small bird in the hand vs the $30k more expensive one in the bush.

    1. onnellinen*

      Personally, I would try to avoid upgrading to a bigger house, at least for a while – either think through if you could live in this smaller house, or keep looking. To me, househunting was a big pain in the ass, so the fewer times I need to do that (and move!) the happier I will be. In my area, there are also Land Transfer Taxes, which you don’t have to pay on your first home, but it can add considerably to the closing costs if you are moving from your first to second home… if you have anything like that in your area, there will an added financial cost to the future upgrade.

    2. pinky*

      We went for a small house – 3 bed, 3 bath, 1400 sf in 1998, we have two teen boys now, and the house has never ever felt small!! The boys shared a room forever, b/c they wanted to, and now each has their own room. A small home also makes you think hard about keeping ‘stuff.’ We try to not have much ‘stuff!’

      we have no playroom – just the living room and dining room, and we are always together instead of running off to different rooms! I would never have it another way! Also, depending what part of the country you are in, heating a large home can be expensive.

      and takes about 20 minutes to clean!

      1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        “Stuff” can really make the difference between a house feeling small or adequate. After that, it depends on layout and amenities. Pinky, I notice your house has 3 bathrooms, which is awesome — bathrooms matter more than extra rooms, in my experience. The more people, the more bathrooms you need. Then layout, as Pinky describes — is the space adequate for the activities in your life (as opposed to the stuff in your life)?

        I watch HGTV at the gym before my class starts, and Love It or List it is always on. Sometimes I can see how the renovations in a small house are going to work for the owners instead of moving (almost always for more space). But a significant amount of the time I think that their problem is too much stuff, requiring them to change their habits, or the layout is terrible and can’t be fixed. The couple with the small child that was going to have to be toilet trained in a two story house with only a downstairs bathroom? Ugh. The answer is “List it, and divorce your husband who doesn’t think that’s a problem and doesn’t want to move.”

    3. variety*

      We bought the largest house we could afford that would accommodate having those future 2 kids. Our goal was to not have to move when we had kids. You never know what the future will bring and not having to move is a big plus. We actually had 3 kids over the course of 10 years and never felt any real need to move or add on. Now the last is in college and because we don’t have that “big house” every one seems to want these days we have no need to downsize. House is small enough for 2, large enough to handle children’s future families, and we have no mortgage.

    4. Lucy Eleanor Moderatz*

      The thing about a big house now is it will never feel good to downsize. Keeping yourself in a small-as-possible house now is going to keep you sane later on. My husband and I have a giant 3 bedroom house right now (no kids, now or ever) and we’re going to be downsizing to a 1 bedroom apartment in the fall. I’m not looking forward to that.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I am a big fan of living below my means. It has paid off well from me.
      How many bathrooms?
      I like to look at the floor plan, does it make sense? A small house with the rooms laid out logically can work out very well.
      That occasionally damp basement is a bummer. Is the house on the side of a hill? Look at the house again and see if you can dig out the basement, back fill with a soil that drains well and add perforated pipes to pull water away from the house. If you end up staying there longer than you want you could end up with a collection of damaged books. It does not take much to ruin books. I don’t want to be Negative Nancy about the basement, but if you are counting on that basement it might be something to consider.
      Also look around and see if you see water-loving trees that are thriving- willows are a good example. These trees need underground streams of water to thrive. They will also cue you on how much of a water problem the house has.

      1. AMD*

        One full bathroom upstairs, one full in the basement that is structured oddly so it would be hard to finish it into a meaningful space.

        The floor plan flows well.

        We might be able to finish the tiny attic into a dry, safe library space.

    6. Graciosa*

      I chose a smaller house than I was approved for (by more than 25%) and have never regretted it. Close friends of mine did the same and are also happy with that choice.

      There are so many things you need or want that take money (especially as you start a family) – but once you take on a mortgage, you have a significant ongoing expense that you can’t just decide to cut back on one month. It is an incredible blessing not to have to say you can’t afford [new sneakers / school fees / a snack at the mall / a trip to take the kids to see their grandparents / a replacement for the sagging sofa].

      Also, you’re going to want to do some things when you move in (you’ll need new curtains, or more lamps than you used to, etc.) and again, it’s really nice night to have to put these off too long because so much of your money is going to your house payment.

      The only thing that gave me pause in your description was the basement, so use some of the money you save to invest in a sump pump and/or dehumidifier for the basement. After that, you’ll be fine.

      Having kids doing their homework and working on the computer in the family’s common areas sounds like a bonus rather than a disadvantage, but for $30K savings (not to mention the interest) you can probably afford to get each of your future kids a lap desk and laptop or tablet computer.

      1. Graciosa*

        Should be “really nice not to have to put these off” (sorry – that particular typo probably made this less than comprehensible).

        1. AMD*

          I followed what your were saying!

          The extra money would be nice, and would afford us other nicer things. That has been our struggle with the real estate office at times, trying to find the space we want but not budging on our budget of absolutely no more than $180k, while they want to push us into the $200k range and up. This house’s asking price is $155k, in a nice neighborhood and convenient location.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Stick to your guns regarding the budget. You will never regret it. This sounds like it’s a good thing to look at and seriously consider.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        “The only thing that gave me pause in your description was the basement, so use some of the money you save to invest in a sump pump and/or dehumidifier for the basement. After that, you’ll be fine. ”

        I would suggest that if you have the money, go full-on and get it done up like the other commenter suggested where it’s as waterproof as possible. One of my neighbours, their basement has started flooding because of all the crazy weather we’ve had these past few years, and it’s caused a lot of damage — carpet, furniture, deep chest freezer, furnace. There’s so much stuff you keep in a basement that is easy for water/dampness to destroy.

    7. abby*

      We have always tended to stay to the lower middle end of our budget and I am thankful we did. There are many expenses associated with owning a house, many unexpected. And life can throw things your way. Right now, for example, I am very glad our housing expenses are what they are and that we did not go for the more expensive home.

      I agree with the suggestions that you could consider putting some of the savings into upgrades for the basement. To combat the dampness and perhaps make the space more functional. And with the right furniture purchases, I bet you could fit desks in the the kids’ rooms.

      1. the gold digger*

        There are many expenses associated with owning a house, many unexpected

        Yes. When we bought our house, we really weren’t thinking about $12K for a new roof. Or $5K for a new driveway. Or having to have the garage mudjacked. Or having to buy a new furnace ($3K).

        There is nothing wrong with a small house and living beneath your means – it’s nice to know you can handle house expenses.

        Also – there is nothing wrong with kids sharing rooms.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Definitely, leave some wiggle room in the budget. My oil bill has quadrupled in the 20 years I have been here. My health insurance has increased 800% in the last 8 years.
          My pay… not so much. I am most fortunate. There’s a lot of people that can’t “just tighten their budget” and keep going.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Tell me about it. My house is falling apart on the inside and now the outside siding is wind-damaged. I cannot afford to fix it. The whole thing needs to be re-sided. I keep praying for a small, very targeted tornado. :P

    8. Alistair*

      Having just spent a small fortune to replace a 30+ year old furnace, a new furnace is a great thing to have. New windows mean better insulation, and that will help control costs as well. And a smaller home might be easier to sell in the future, since it seems like ‘starter homes’ are a thing of the past (around my area, its either older and affordable, or huge and ridiculously priced).

    9. Ann Furthermore*

      If you find something you like, and it’s near any major roads, spend some time outside to judge if the road noise will bother you. It drives my hubby nuts, so he was very picky.

      Also, drive through the neighborhood on a weekend when people are out and about. My parents found a house they liked in a neighborhood that seemed very nice during the week when everyone was at work and the kids were at school. Then they went back on the weekend and discovered that it was actually hillbilly central.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Two things that I knew would drive me nuts, living on a main road and a steep driveway. I would not even consider those two things. I ended up on a side street and my driveway could not be any flatter. I am still pleased with this choice.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          And don’t forget that corner lots come with their own special challenges, including more side walk to shovel in winter, if you live in a snowy area and have that as a bylaw in the area.

    10. Connie-Lynne*

      We moved from a 3-BR ranch house in LA to a 2-BR place in the Bay Area a while back, definitely downsizing! The Bay Arean place had a slightly damp basement, so we stored many of our books and boardgames in plastic tubs, just keeping out a few favorites for the “circulating collection.” We also kept a bunch of books just in boxes, up in the livingroom, effectively making the room smaller by a four-foot deep wall of books.

      Unfortunately, we discovered the hard way that the little “feet” on the bottoms of the tubs connected through a hole, which was just enough to let the damp in and start mold growing. We only lost one tub out of about 20 though, so it wasn’t too bad. Definitely be careful about that with whatever tubs you choose.

      In happier news, we moved to a larger place about a year ago. We dithered for a while over what bookshelves to buy but we finally found some excellent ones eight weeks ago and they were delivered last week! We unpacked the majority of our book collection as well as many of the boardgames — now the only things left in tubs or boxes are the hub’s wargames and about a thousand of my paperbacks!

    11. thisisit*

      can’t speak to size, but the basement worries me. occasional damp = mold, and that can have serious repercussions for your family’s health.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, that one can be a “sleeper” problem. It takes a few years to realize, “hey this is big deal”. We had been in the house for over a decade when we learned there was a small underground stream going under the garage. (Small underground streams just suddenly happen in clay soil.) The reason we found the water flow is because it washed out a section of floor in the garage, where my husband’s vintage motorcycle was standing. Yep. The bike went over. Yep. It was not cheap to repair.

    12. Clever Name*

      i would definitely buy below your means. As other have mentioned, there always seem to be a ton of expenses when one buys a house, on top of actually buying the house. We recently moved, and I would actually be happier with a smaller house than we ended up getting, but we live in suburbia (both our jobs are nearby) and houses with the features we wanted tend to be bigger. We’ll definitely be downsizing when our son leaves home.

      Pay attention to the layout and orientation of the house. If you love togetherness, open floor plans are nice. If you prefer solitude and privacy, rooms with doors are great (although both go out the window for many years when you have kids). Do you like to entertain or sit outdoors in the evening? A backyard that is shaded in the evening is better. We had 2 houses that faced east, and no trees in the back yard, so it was unbearably hot in the back much of the summer. Our current house faces west, and the back yard is always lovely in the summer.

      Also consider the bathrooms. Our last house had 2, but the second bath was on the lower level and housed the cat pan, so no one liked using it. It’s a bummer to share a bath with a sloppy boy (my son). Having a private master bath, if those are available in your neighborhood/ price range, is awesome.

      Also look at the schools in your area. Even within the same district, some elementary schools are better than others. Online reviews are okay, but try to talk to parents. Same with neighborhood safety. Can you imagine letting your 8 year old ride bikes with their friends alone, or would you need to constantly supervise them?

      I didn’t mean to write such a huge novel. We’ve purchased 3 houses over the years, so we’ve had lots of opportunity to refine our thinking.

    13. Boogles*

      Kids come with soooooooo much stuff! If you think it’s feeling small now, adding two children to the mix will make it feel claustrophobic. Hold out for something slightly larger.

  9. Rphillips*

    i just got my Chocolate Teapots tee shirt and mousepad for my birthday! I love them! Can’t wait for casual Friday. 😃

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Maybe someone else will have chocolate teapot something so you can spot them as a fellow AAMer!

  10. Windchime*

    I have bronchitis. Bleah. I’ve been coughing for weeks (asthma and a bad cold), and now I have bronchitis. The steroids make me feel amazing yesterday–but then I didn’t go to sleep until 5 AM this morning. Yikes.

    I hope I feel better soon. This has been a cruddy spring.

    1. Graciosa*

      I’m so sorry – that sounds like a terrible start to the spring and summer. I really hope things turn around for you soon.

      Best wishes –

    2. Ruffingit*

      I am with you. Diagnosed with bronchitis on Monday. Steroids are amazing. The coughing was the worst part for me because I severely bruised a rib and now it hurts like I’m being stabbed anytime I bend in that direction, sneeze, and so forth.

      Here’s hoping we’re both at 100% soon!

      1. Windchime*

        I’ve done the same thing with my ribs….they are so sore that I can barely draw a deep breath. I hope we are both better soon, too!

      2. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

        Get well soon, both of you.

    3. StillHealing*

      That’s a long time to be coughing. I’m so sorry. You must be exhausted. There seems to be a spring bug making the rounds. People at work have been coughing again and my son is complaining of a sore throat.

  11. Jennie*

    Just de-lurking to say that is the most amazing book. Even better, it gives you a list of other awesome books!

  12. OfficePrincess*

    Anyone have any tips for getting rid of stress and feeling rested?

    I’ve been extremely run down for the last few weeks for mostly work-related reasons (short-handed, being expected to catch balls other people are dropping on no notice, needing to be reachable essentially 24/7) and a slowly-recovering injury. I’ve hit the point where I’m spontaneously crying whenever I think about how run down I feel, and I’ve eaten half a pan of brownies already this weekend. I tried to go to bed early last night, but in doing so I missed catching a major work problem and now I feel worse about the whole thing. My injury is currently keeping me out of the gym. Taking time off isn’t an option right now. I’ve always been pretty high-strung, but any of my usual ways to relax and get some rest just aren’t working. Suggestions?

    1. BRR*

      I’ve always turned to massages or other spa treatments. I also just tried taking some l-theanine (herbal supplement), it’s helped me relax.

    2. Shell*

      Massages–from a RMT–are great for de-stressing, if you can afford it.

      Failing that, I like to go to the swimming pool. Even if your injury precludes lap swimming (which I find really soothing), just soaking in the hot tub with Jacuzzi jets for 20-30 minutes does a lot to loosen me up.

    3. C Average*

      Whenever I feel stressed out, I try to do things that make me feel nostalgic: watch old movies I love, re-read favorite poems or books, walk a favorite section of trail, write a letter to an old friend. There’s something about going down the rabbit hole of memory that I find really soothing.

      I enjoy chilling out to audio books while walking my errands, too.

      It’s all small stuff, but it’s the little scraps of joy and contentment that keep you going.

      1. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

        +100 to all these things!

    4. AMD*

      Taking a ten or fifteen minute break to just let my mind work through whatever it wants to helps me, in a quiet place (like my car on a quiet drive). I used to listen to audiobooks and music as I drove, but when I stopped I was much less stressed.

      I also try to make a conscious choice to not think about work stuff when I don’t have to. Try to choose to give yourself some stress-free thought time, and force yourself to stick to it.

    5. Kyrielle*

      What do you love doing and haven’t been doing? For me, the list of things that help me center is coloring, photography, going to the Japanese Garden, walks, savoring a treat (gobbling the same treat doesn’t help: I have to really focus), a couple hours alone with a fun computer game or really good book and no interruptions, and music.

      But it’s purely a matter of taste. I have friends for whom a massage is the perfect ticket – me, I generally don’t get as much out of it at the best of times, and when I’m stressed it can backfire. I know people who _love_ time at the spa…because they would love it anyway. I think I’d rather have a work emergency than go to a spa. (On the other hand, staying at home and soaking in a good hot bath with appropriate products can work.)

      And so on. What works for us may or may not work for you – but hopefully one or more of the thoughts here will cause you to say “oh, yes, that!”

      1. OfficePrincess*

        See that’s the other side of the problem. I’m so stressed that I can’t focus enough sit down and read a book and the idea of cooking a full on meal for just myself and then having to deal with the mess is overwhelming. I may go get a pedicure tomorrow if anything is open.

        1. Henrietta Gondorf*

          I know the feeling! On the food front, I find it’s easier to have quality ingredients around that don’t require much prep/cooking, such as good fruit, cheese, excellent crackers, etc. (My go to meal when things are stressful is Caprese salad and toast when tomatoes are in season.)

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I second coloring. Sooo relaxing, especially when I turn on cartoons. For a little while, I get to be little again and not have to worry about anything.

    6. Mean Something*

      I’m sorry you’ve been having such a rough time. For me, to connect with a really understanding friend would help some in this situation, especially if it’s someone who brings a new perspective on things and can point out (kindly) how awesomely you are handling things and maybe ways to make the situation easier on yourself, whether in terms of mental adjustment or actual decisions or actions. Good luck–I hope things get better soon.

    7. Beezus*

      Can you delegate any of your non-work responsibilities to someone else for a while? Take your laundry to a laundry service, have your groceries delivered, hire a dog walker, get your SO to handle bill paying for you?

      Can you set up a bat signal at work with a few trusted people, to escalate true emergencies, so you’re not checking your email/on alert for a call 24/7? When I am on vacation, for example, I turn off my work phone, and let a couple of trusted people at work have my personal number, and tell them to text me if something comes up that they can’t handle without me. I can stop worrying that I might be missing something, because I know I will get a text if they need me. Maybe you can set something like that up between, say, the hours of 9 pm and 6 am, so you can get some sleep?

      Are the balls being dropped due to someone else’s performance/accountability issues? Do you really need to catch them? Take a close look at that. Is there an issue that needs to be addressed there, that you’re band-aiding, that won’t be addressed unless you let the person/process truly fail?

      Eat the best food you can manage – your stress levels are hard on your body; give it the best fuel you can. Making good eating decisions is really hard when you’re exhausted. Take it easy on the sugar and the caffiene! Take a multivitamin, take some extra Vitamin C and D, make sure you are getting your calcium.

      I relax best by doing something that keeps my hands busy, but not my brain. Gardening, cooking, and knitting/crocheting are my big things. I don’t know the nature of your injury, but if working out is your thing, can you try something a little different than what you normally do, to get your fix? If you can’t stand, maybe some arm curls with hand weights? If you can’t have any kind of impact, maybe swimming?

    8. Not So NewReader*

      I would get some water/drink with electrolytes in it. Buy a few and keep sipping on them. The weepies could be vitamin/mineral loss and this would help.

      Because your injury is slow healing maybe the doctor would understand and write you out for a few days?

      When I can get my brain to shut off, I like to play a mindless online game. It might be a little brain vacation for you.
      If possible soak in a hot tub or shower before turning in. That will help also.

    9. fposte*

      I think it’s worth trying to find non-gym physical activity that works for you despite your injury. If it’s upper body, go for a walk; even with some lower-body issues, a short walk isn’t a bad idea.

      But also seconding Shell’s suggestion of swimming. You don’t have to be Michael Phelps–you can let the injured part bow out and leave it to the rest of you to do the work at whatever pace works. It will tire you out, and there’s something about the water that kind of detaches you from the world.

    10. Graciosa*

      I’m a big fan of massages, bubble baths, and books –

      However, if you’re really stressed at work, you might try putting a reminder in your calendar once an hour to get up and walk around for a couple minutes. Outdoors is best if you can manage it (even if you’re only circling the building) but even walking around the office for a few minutes can help short circuit that one-emergency-to-next-emergency-to-next-emergency feeling you can sitting at your desk jumping from one crisis to another.

      And unless you actually work in an emergency room, there is rarely a crisis so urgent it can’t wait just a few minutes.

      Instead of walking, some people use conscious breathing exercises to relax, or listen to one specific song on an mp3 player – don’t hesitate to use whatever works for you.

      Best wishes –

    11. CrazyCatLady*

      I’m super high strung but things that help me a little are: restorative yoga classes, long, hot showers in the dark with candles and relaxing music, getting massages and being in nature.

    12. Connie-Lynne*

      I would set aside some time at work to sit down and really plan out how you’re going to handle all of this extra workload. Break everything down and realistically estimate how much time you’re going to need to spend on each piece (no wishful thinking). Don’t forget to include answering emails and so forth. Then look at all the balls you’ve caught for other people and why you need to be reachable 24/7, and think about whether there are other people in your department who could do that (maybe not as well as you, but could do it), or people who you could offload some of your workload to.

      For the 24-7, are there people who could be in the escalation path before you to handle smaller items? Or people you can quickly hand off big items to? Consider setting up an actual on-call rotation and training people to handle emergencies.

      Be ruthless about all this, at least in your private thinking — imagine you’re quitting the job, how would you do the handoff? And give yourself permission to spend four hours getting your life in order this way.

      Then take the plan to your boss and show him or her how much work you’ve been putting in, how it’s affecting your health — keeping you from recovering physically, which in turn makes the job much harder mentally. Talk about doing some of this offloading, maybe even bringing in a contractor for help, especially if you’re catching dropped balls.

      I feel you on how hard this is — I had a similar situation where I was essentially doing two peoples’ jobs, including always-on-call, and all the bucks stopped with me. It wasn’t until I sat down and looked at things from the other side, preparing to take a leave of absence, that I realized I could do something about most of what I was having to manage. For me, just getting other people into the on call rotation and not covering for the ball-droppers *all* the time made a huge difference.

    13. Trixie*

      I’m a new fan of calm dot com, great site for relaxing background sounds and optional guided meditations of 2-20 minutes.

      1. JB*

        I was just about to suggest this site! Also, if you don’t already, make sure you have at least one spot of your home, even if just a corner, that is uncluttered and tidy, because sometimes if there’s too much to look at, your brain has a little bit of sensory overload. Also, if you can’t concentrate on a book, what about a light movie or even a standup comic? They have plenty on Amazon (I like Gary Gulman’s special a lot). That’s what I watch when I need something to distract me but can’t get into a book or a serious movie or anything that needs concentrating on.

        You also might try taking herbs that are possible effective for helping with mental well-being generally. Rhodiola is supposed to help with that. WebMD says there is insufficient evidence to establish it as accurate but there is some evidence to show it helps with:
        “Depression. Early research shows that taking rhodiola might improve symptoms of depression after 6 weeks of treatment in people with mild-to-moderately severe depression.

        Fatigue. Early evidence suggests that rhodiola might decrease fatigue in stressful situations. A specific rhodiola extract seems to decrease fatigue and increase a sense of well-being in students taking exams, night-shift workers, and sleep-deprived military cadets.

        Anxiety. Early evidence suggests that specific rhodiola extract (Rhodax) might lower anxiety in people with a condition called generalized anxiety disorder.”

        You could also try combining it with Schisandra (also spelled schizandra) or take Schisandra alone. WebMD says it’s possible effective for:
        “Mental performance. Taking schisandra fruit extract by mouth, alone or in combination with rhodiola and Siberian ginseng, seems to improve concentration, attention, and speed of thinking.” There’s a product sold called Adrenal Health or something like that, and it has all three.

        Unrelated, but that combination of the three *might* also help with pneumonia when taken twice daily for 10-15 days. And my pet sitter swears by schisandra to help with environmental allergies (like to pollen). She says you have to take it at least a month, and it doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve never tried it, so I don’t know.

        All those herbs have other names, and you can find them on WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/default.aspx

    14. Going Anon*

      I find repetetive activities really soothing when I’m really anxious. Silly, maybe, but I have some mandala patterns printed out that I’ll colour with pencil crayons and listen to nice music for a half hour or so to clear my head. Bath bombs are a heaven send. If I’m on the verge of crying or having a panic attack, I’ll often bring out my container of kinetic sand and put my hands in it for a while (why are all my coping strategies children’s activities? I have no idea). If you can carve out just 30 minutes or so at a time to 100% disconnect from everything, that might help.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        I build Lego sets. It’s a small, contained task, it involves thinking and moving around, but it isn’t work-thinking or exercise-moving. Plus, I can choose a bigger set or a smaller set, depending on how I feel.

        I actually keep legos on my desk for WFH days and just sort of fiddle with them to help keep me focused on conference calls.

    15. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      I’m going to go against the strain and say don’t go to the gym. As a formerly very fit person who has what now appear to be permanent hip problems when I go to the gym it often makes me more depressed, looking at the people doing what I used to be able to do. Not being able to push yourself really sucks if you’ve got my kind of jealous personality.

      What I’d recommend is a nice long bath. If you have a kindle (greatest invention btw), pop it in a ziploc and read in the tub with a glass of wine. Very relaxing.

    16. Beezus*

      I thought of another one last night when I was getting ready for bed – I organize or fix things at home when I’m stressed or can’t get my mind off work. A week or so ago, I realized my pots and pans cupboard was out of control, so I went through it, pulled about a third of them out for donating (I had five medium size skillets!), nested the remaining ones by size, and corralled my lids in a plastic storage basket so it’s easy to find the right one. It was a finite task that doesn’t require a ton of thought, makes a noticeable difference, won’t have to be repeated soon, and every time I open that cupboard, it’s like “ahhhh” instead of “arghhhhh!” Reminding myself that I can bring order to chaos in small ways helps me feel better about addressing bigger areas of chaos in my work life. :)

  13. Shell*

    What are your favourite country-music artists? Men, women, group, doesn’t matter.

    I find a lot of current music on the radio over-produced (not just corrected for raspiness/pitch, but in the sense that a person’s voice cannot do that without considerable editing later), and fell in love with some of Lee Ann Womack’s songs this week. Would love to hear some suggestions on who to listen to over the next few days!

    1. littlemoose*

      If you might like some country-noir, check out Neko Case’s older stuff, like “The Virginian” and “Furnace Room Lullaby.” Her voice is so rich and beautiful, without any Autotune.

      1. Jerry Vandesic*

        Second recommendation for Neko Case. Great stuff — try out “Fox Confessor Brings the Flood.”

        I’d also add Sturgill Simpson (last year’s “Metamodern Sounds of Country Music” was my favorite album in 2014), Tift Merritt (especially her early stuff), Allison Moorer, Justin Townes Earle (“Harlem River Blues” is a sublime album), Hurray for the Riff Raff, Kelly Willis, Nikki Lane (another best of 2014), Jason Isbell, Devil Makes Three, Teddy Thompson (“Separate Ways” is a favorite of mine, and “Upfront and Down Low” is a great collection of country covers), and Lydia Loveless (“Somewhere Else” is amazing).

        Most of these lean towards alt-country or Americana, so aren’t typically things you hear on mainstream country radio.

        1. littlemoose*

          Fox Confessor is my favorite Neko album and one of my favorites overall. It’s not as countryish as some of her older stuff, but it’s amazing overall.

        2. Manderly*

          +1 for Justin Townes Earle. I saw him as an opening act at Eddie’s Attic in Atlanta many years ago and he was amazing. Bought the CD, which he signed (really nice guy to talk to), and have been a fan ever since.

          1. Jerry Vandesic*

            Cash is certainly at the top of the heap, along with Hank Williams (Sr, not Jr), Patsy Cline (a goddess), Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, Bill Monroe, Merle Haggard, Flatt & Scruggs, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (Circle II is one of the greatest albums ever made), Del McCoury, …

    2. Merry and Bright*

      I’m not that big on country music but I really like The Rainbow Chasers. A friend took me to see them a few years ago and they were a lot of fun. I have added them to my music collection too.

      1. "Find yourself a cup; the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things."*

        Wow, I like Rainbow Chasers too! Ruth Angell particularly is worth checking out.

    3. Beezus*

      I miss 90’s and early 00’s country. I made an effort to limit myself, but there was so much good stuff out there!

      Brooks & Dunn
      Alabama
      Diamond Rio
      Clint Black
      Collin Raye
      Randy Travis
      Vince Gill
      Martina McBride
      Lorrie Morgan
      Allison Krauss
      Wynonna

    4. Grey*

      Check out independent artist, Aaron Vaugn. His “Never Before” EP is the best I’ve heard in a long time. It’s on Spotify and iTunes.

  14. SeekingGoodTherapist*

    Update: I wrote 2 weeks ago here that my therapist mentioned other clients in our session. I told her my concerns and she was very receptive and said she would not do it again or talk about any vague info fromy my session in her other sessions. She said she was sorry and that she realized upon me telling her that it was a mistake and didbn’t realize it made me uncomfortable. I decided to stick with her–felt good to open up and reveal concerns and address them head on rather than run away.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Glad that she was receptive to your concerns – I hope that she keeps this in mind for future sessions :)

    1. Lulubell*

      Thank you! I have been wanting to read that in part because of all the comments I’ve read here, and just downloaded! :)

  15. Dynamic Beige*

    This isn’t exactly work related… but I’ve been thinking about brushing up on my writing skills. It’s been a long time since I needed or had to write anything and I’d like to get better about things so that I’m not making the horrible mistake of two split infinitives or something equally heinous. TBH, I’m not even sure what a split infinitive is. There seem to be a fair number of writers and editors here, does anyone have any recommendations for websites that might have lessons or quizzes or something to practice tenses and grammar?

    1. LibbyG*

      Ooh! Google Diana Hacker online exercises. Its a freely available companion site to a great college writing handbook. Nifty online practice quizzes on things like comma usage. And a short little book I’d recommend: Style by Joseph Williams.

    2. GTA*

      I used Grammar Bytes! with my high school students–there were good explanations with examples, and the interactive quizzes are great because they give explanations for why answers are right or wrong. The quirky example sentences don’t hurt either. Looks like in the few years since I taught high school that the creator has expanded to include a MOOC, if that’s something you’re interested in.
      http://www.chompchomp.com/menu.htm

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        This looks pretty good! I like the fact that it’s short bits, it looks like it would be easy to do a few as time allows, then come back later and generally go at your own pace. Thanks!

    3. Connie-Lynne*

      FWIW, an infinitive is the root form of a verb (“go”) but altered with another word, usually “to,” in order to allow it to be used as a different part of speech. Infinitives usually look like, then, “to go,” “to eat,” etc. There are some special verbs with slightly different rules around infinitives, but that’s the basic gist.

      Splitting an infinitive is when you use an infinitive, but then you stick a modifier in between “to” and the root verb. Ie, “To finally eat dinner was what she really wanted,” (“to … eat”), “Our five year mission was to boldly go where no man has gone before,” (“to … go”), etc.

      1. Connie-Lynne*

        (Oh, and it’s not really a huge mistake to split an infinitive; people do it a lot in writing and speech as a form of emphasis).

          1. Connie-Lynne*

            I sometimes will try to edit it out when I’m revising a piece of writing, because it’s a good exercise in seeing “is there a more concise/better/more accurate/whatever way of communicating this concept?”

            But yeah, in the end, eh.

      2. Mephyle*

        Yes, that “rule” about no split infinitives was invented in the nineteenth century. There is nothing wrong with splitting infinitives except that many people think there is a rule against it so they get judgey when they see it.

        1. C Average*

          Fun fact: The rule was invented because rules of English grammar at the time were based on the rules of Latin grammar. You can’t split a Latin infinitive because it’s one word, not two. So to align with the Latin, it was declared by the grammar authorities that one must never split an infinitive in English, either.

          (I’m not sure what it says about me that I took a year of Latin and remember nothing except this.)

  16. Come On Eileen*

    Update on Whole30! I’m two weeks in and definitely getting a handle on shopping and food prep. One of the tenets of the program is that you’re not supposed to weigh yourself– because it’s not billed as a weight loss program — so I have no idea if I’ve lost any weight, but I can definitely tell that my clothes are fitting better (and in some cases are getting loose). I’m eating way more veggies than I ever have in my life and my sugar dragon is slowly fading into the background. It’s still a huge pain to eat out in restaurants and it puts a damper on socializing with friends over food, but those are temporary sacrifices I reckon. I feel just all-around really GOOD. Forging ahead to week three!

    1. Emily*

      Congratulations on your progress! It sounds like the Whole30 is going pretty well for you. :)

    2. nep*

      ‘…sugar dragon slowly fading into the background’ — love it. That’s great. Well done. Our bodies thank us when we nourish them well.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      Woo hoo! I’m just wrapping up my first week – I cooked up a storm last weekend and gave myself a “soft start” on Mon and Tues where I was 90% on plan, but didn’t sweat the little things like putting Splenda in my coffee, milk in my eggs and using our regular salsa. Official Day 1 was Wednesday. The headaches were brutal, but I think I’m over the hump. We’re going to my MIL’s tomorrow and I have no idea what will be on the menu, but I’m just going to do the best I can.

      1. Come On Eileen*

        Nice! I eased myself in a bit as well — mainly removing sugar from my coffee and using coconut milk instead of cream — a few days before I officially started. There’s SO many dietary changes all at once in this program, I didn’t want to monkey with my coffee at the same time.

        Good luck to you! Keep me updated on your progress.

      2. Come On Eileen*

        PS — there’s a Whole30 First Timers Support Group on Facebook if you are interested. I joined and it’s been fun to share recipes, see what questions others are asking, and get support from people who are taking the leap with you.

    4. nep*

      (I stopped eating honey about a week ago — had been putting it in tea and coffee since going off of artificial sweeteners. Great to be off of it — no one needs all that extra sugar. And, it was the last non-vegan thing I was consuming.)

      1. JB*

        If anyone I know is trying to quit honey, I just remind them that it’s essentially bee vomit. Somehow knowing you’re eating bee barf can help. And when you get a good sniff of it raw, it does kinda smell like it. I’m mostly vegan, but I do still eat honey sometimes for medicinal purposes, but the smell keeps me from eating too much of it.

        1. nep*

          Indeed — bee vomit. I like the taste of honey so much that I was able to think that and say that and still eat a spoonful.
          In any case — just unnecessarily way too much sugar. And, yeah, not vegan.

  17. Carrie in Scotland*

    I’ve just spent all my savings (such as they were) on a painter and decorator to do up my flat in preparation for selling over the summer.
    It’s amazing what fresh paint and a professional painter do to your living space – it looks much better, brighter, spacious and….lighter, if that makes sense?

    1. Elkay*

      We did something similar today, got rid of a chair and a coffee table, the room looks huge now.

    2. Windchime*

      I’m a big believer in paint. Adding color to a room makes a huge, huge difference and can totally transform a room. I found I’ve been happier going a little more “intense” as well. I used to just do soft , whispery shades that were so soft that you really couldn’t even tell it was different. Now I go more bold — not garish, but I match a color in a painting or in the slate by the fireplace, and it makes me a lot happier. I’m glad you had a good paint experience!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I know what you mean! I used to be quite like that too with paint shades – I have a fairly neutral colour on the walls with one “feature” wall – bedroom wall is called ‘raspberry diva’. It’s lovely for a wall but I couldn’t have an entire room with it :)

        1. Windchime*

          “Raspberry Diva” sounds amazing! I can almost picture it, just by that description.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Nice! A fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a room. I’m waiting for the weekends to be warm so I can paint. I’ll have to do it myself, sadly. Moved some of the furniture around, which helped make the room feel a bit newer again.

  18. Sunflower*

    So I just got back from my first all inclusive vacation. I must say I was not a big fan. The first issue was I wasn’t wild about going in the first place since I really didn’t want to spend the money but my sister guilted me into it (a whole nother story). We went to Montego Bay for 4 nights. She insisted on booking 2 excursions and both were 100 miles away from the resort so that was a long ride both days. The excursions were awesome though- we climbed some waterfalls and hung out at local bars. I was so sick of the resort food by the 3rd day. I can’t believe people can eat that stuff for a whole week.

    I didn’t realize how different my sister and I travel. I’m not sure I’d ever go to an all inclusive unless my plan was to literally sit my butt on the beach and not leave the resort(and there is nothing wrong with that). The guide mentioned a lot of people rent villas which seems much more up my ally. We both enjoyed the excursions except i would have liked to spend more time exploring the island. Unfortunately it seems like a lot of my friends who came with were into the all inclusive part.

    How do you guys like to travel? What do you like to do when you go away? How do you deal with traveling with someone who likes to do different stuff than you?

    1. OfficePrincess*

      I can’t remember if it was here or elsewhere that we talked about the idea of travelling vs. vacation. I love going to a new city and exploring, but other times I am very into sitting my butt on the beach and only moving to go eat fabulous food.

      Most of my travel with others was when I was younger (and mostly with my family), so I’d just suck it up and do whatever they wanted to do (or, in a couple disasterous vacations, what they THOUGHT I wanted to do). Everyone likes different kinds of travel though, and most people understand that, so I’d recommend speaking up if the dynamics of the group you’re in wouldn’t make it blow up in your face.

    2. INTP*

      I’ve never been to an all inclusive and like you, I wouldn’t be into the idea unless my plan was literally to just sit on a beach or next to a pool and eat/drink. So far I’ve always traveled on a pretty shoestring budget anyways but I also like to explore. I love reading the guidebook and seeing which restaurants or shops I want to visit and what I want to do. It would take away a significant portion of the fun to have all that choice taken out and just have to do most eating and drinking at the resort.

      I guess I see the point in areas where there are concerns about safety or infrastructure but there are plenty of tropical countries that are safe with workable infrastructure so I’d rather visit those.

    3. Aussie Teacher*

      My husband always insists on a discussion before the holiday with the people we are travelling with. “What do YOU consider a holiday? Sitting by the pool all day doing nothing? 6 hour car ride to see a local attraction?” etc. That way, everyone has an idea of each other’s preferences and nothing stops us spending a day apart each doing what we love.

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      When I travel the one thing I don’t do is rest/relax very much – I end up feeling exhausted after my holiday, so I now try to book an extra day or 2 at the end to just be off work to recover!

      I like to have a loose plan to follow and unfortunately, I do get a bit annoyed at myself if I don’t do it (for whatever reason). I also enjoy being able to choose to go left or right or whatever I feel like at the time. For instance, last year I visited Paris solo. I wanted to go to an exhibition but the queue was horrendous so I left it for the day and instead wandered around the Left Bank and saw some bookshops and the zoo – I got to see flamingos!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        That sounds much better than waiting in a queue. Flamingos are awesome. They’re not as big as I thought they were.
        Ex and I went to the zoo in Tucson and they had roseate spoonbills. I have ALWAYS wanted to see one of them up close. I was not disappointed! :D

    5. Treena Kravm*

      Like you, I’m not big on all-inclusive or relaxing on my vacations. My idea of relaxing is laying around and reading or watching TV, but I can do that at home. When I’m traveling, I push myself to the limit each day. Every time I tell myself this time I’ll take it easy and relax, but then I never do. I inevitably think to myself, “When’s the next time I’ll be here? It can be 10+ years before I have the chance to do this again.” 99% of the time, I’m glad I did it.

    6. Sara*

      I like having the opportunity to take a day or so to really just relax and recharge in the middle of doing things. I have only done a resort style vacation once, and while I have no complaints about the beach, certainly, overall it wasn’t very memorable and I can’t say I’d be eager to do it again. On the flip side, when my boyfriend and I went to Spain and Portugal, we literally did the entire guidebook and it was exhausting. (By the time we left Lisbon, our last stop, I never wanted to see another piece of art or historical monument again as long as I lived.)

    7. danr*

      We have two types… a sightseeing vacation, where we go to see stuff, and a reading vacation where we take many books and find a nice park and read. These days the books are on kindles. On both types of vacations we find good places to eat. We’ve taken one tour and it’s not really our thing. It was interesting, but too rushed.

    8. Alistair*

      Hah! I hear you on the food. Years ago, I worked in Jamaica for about a month, and stayed at an all inclusive. I realized the food choices went through a weekly cycle. I seem to recall that Mexican night was the best. Lunch got did get boring really fast.

      On the other hand, the bartender got to know me, and by about halfway through my time there, I just had to walk through the door and he would start making my screwdriver. I gave him a huge tip at the end of the trip.

    9. soitgoes*

      Ugh, traveling with other people is a great way to lose friends, just like becoming roommates ends friendships :/

      I can see myself doing the all-inclusive thing for a few days and feeling pampered, like it’s a spa weekend. I think it all depends on how much your trip is about needing a legit break from the stresses of your everyday life. As much as it would personally annoy me, I couldn’t reasonably fault anyone for deciding to sleep on the beach all day, especially if I knew that she maybe really needed to unwind. That’s why, as other people have said, it’s a good idea to talk about these things before going on a group trip. I think it’s probably a good thing that you had this experience, since resort and cruise weddings are fairly popular – you’ll know from experience whether you’ll want to attend.

    10. thisisit*

      i am the queen of dealing with traveling with others. my family occasionally takes trips together and we all travel differently. my parents like to book tours, older sib likes to rent apt in a city and do day trips, i like to pack light and be on the move, spouse likes lengthy trips, younger sib likes just doing his own thing (can be any of the above but not in any sort of accommodating way).

      honestly, i have the least demands, so i just suck it up and do what everyone else wants. it’s still a cool new place and surely i can get something out of it. and i tack on a few extra days to do my own thing when everyone else is gone.

      worst trip – Caribbean cruise. everything about it i hated.
      best trip – backpacking for 3 months in Asia. a week with a friend, a week on my own, week with another friend, 2 weeks on my own. etc. took my time and really explored one region in 3 countries. it was great.

    11. Dan*

      I’m Down Under at the moment. I’m very very picky about my “package” tours, I tend to DIY most of it. Generally speaking, I can’t stand buffet food, which is what you get at all inclusives.

      The way I handle other people is I plan what I want to do (’cause I’m going anyway) and then see who else wants to come along. That way, if nobody else comes, I’m not stuck with a vacation that I don’t want.

      Generally, I like to eat the local food and then get out of the city and see some of the nature/wildlife. I’ve seen wild orangutans in Borneo (which was super cool) and just a few days ago did some diving in the Great Barrier Reef. I’m far more active on “vacation” then I ever am at home.

    12. kas*

      I like a bit of both, depending on where I’m going. If I’m going to Europe, I’m exploring. I like to get up kinda early and get my day started. If I’m in the Caribbean, I prefer a bit of both worlds – I want to explore but I also want some time to just lay out on the beach and relax.

      My friend and I often travel together and we’re the complete opposite. We got into an argument on our last trip because she didn’t want to do anything but explore the night life and I wanted to sightsee and explore everything in the day. She also sleeps in and takes forever to get ready when I want to be up and ready to go by like 9 or 10 a.m. I think I need a new travelling buddy because it’s not easy to deal with someone who likes to do different things while travelling/on vacation. We make it work somehow but it’s frustrating.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      I’m a museum nerd–I like to go to art museums, odd museums, historical museums–you name it. If there’s an interesting one about, I’ll probably go to it. No wonder I love London so much–it’s STUFFED with museums.

      As for the different stuff, I’ve only traveled with my ex and we both liked doing the same thing, so I can’t say, really. I suppose if I were with someone who liked other things, we’d make a plan–do a few things apart and then find some we could do together.

    14. Kai*

      My husband and I did an inclusive package for our honeymoon, but it was traveling across four countries in Western Europe, and most of the non-travel days we were free to do whatever we liked. I think it was a perfect balance–the transportation and lodging were already planned, so we didn’t have to worry about that (really nice in an unfamiliar place), but then we could explore/shop/eat and drink at our leisure and at our own pace.

      Luckily, our travel styles are pretty well-suited. Neither of us is a huge fan of extremely touristy things. We’d rather just sit at an outdoor cafe or bar and people-watch.

    15. ThursdaysGeek*

      My spouse and I like to have a car and a map, and decide to go as we are going. We’ve done that locally and also in NZ. My sister and BIL prefer to have plans and do touristy things. But they also like coming with us. So we have to compromise. We’ve visited NZ together and in the morning we would decide where we would end up, find a place to spend that night, and then take the day getting there. We’d plan to do touristy things every couple of days, so we had a general idea of the direction we were heading.

  19. INTP*

    I remember a few months ago someone had posted about not knowing how to handle (female) facial hair with sensitive skin. Waxing irritates or even rips off the skin, shaving leaves unsightly stubble, it can seem like leaving it there is the least unsightly way of handling it. For me threading is best but it’s very difficult to DIY and it can be inconvenient if there aren’t a ton of threading places where you live.

    Well, I wanted to recommend this little gadget I got that has completely fixed that problem for me. Go to amazon and search “Bellabe hair removal tool” (it seems like there are thousands of knockoffs which are probably fine too – just read the reviews on the model you buy). It’s a little spring that you bend and roll around on your face. This thingy gives results that are most akin to threading – pulls out hairs by the root without directly pulling on the skin. I have a little redness after but it’s fine as long as I do it at night. It was tricky to learn to use with the instructions so I recommend a youtube video, and be warned that it’s pretty painful at first. I also need to use it every few days because it doesn’t create stubble but it can look scraggly and odd when the peach fuzz starts to grow in all patchily. I know I sound like an infomercial, but I wanted to share because I know a lot of women deal with this problem (which is hard to talk about publicly) and I had no idea that such a product even existed until recently. Hopefully this info helps someone!

    1. Anx*

      This is timely. I’m not actually interested in that product right now, but just today I noticed that my chin hairs are multiplying. They are the plasticy, wiry little devils. I’m blond, but not not blonde-blonde, so whether or not they are noticeable depends on the light. I have a full peach fuzz beard that I don’t normally notice, but sometimes startles me, as I haven’t
      had it very long. I have only noticed these hairs in the past few years (I’m in my late 20s).

    2. thisisit*

      interesting. i used to wax or thread. then i lasered my face (more than once actually) and since then i’ve had less hair but more prone to ingrowns. now threading just breaks the hair, so i pretty much only wax. but you have to wait for some growth so it’s not super convenient. i’ll check this thing out….

  20. Aussie Teacher*

    I started the Couch to 5K app a few days ago – has anyone tried it? I went running twice in 2 days and can barely walk from my painful leg muscles, particularly the one down the front of my shins. I should point out that I never exercise (aerobically) and am terribly unfit too, although if anything I’m underweight.

    1) Day 1 should be “get off the couch,” or maybe “walk to the mail box and back.” Not “5 min brisk warm-up, then 20 mins of alternating 1 min jogging with 1.5 mins walking, followed by 5 min cool down.” I couldn’t believe it when the app said I’d done 3.5km!

    2) My sneakers are 8 years old. Should I wait to see if I have any staying power before I buy some proper running shoes, or should I get some proper shoes immediately before I damage my feet/legs/get shin splints?!

    3) any advice on running technique? I currently jog as slowly as I possibly can without walking, and since I’m pretty unfit, my whole foot tends to hit the floor simultaneously instead of heel-toe – is that bad?

    1. fposte*

      I’ll let the actual runners comment on most of this, but on #3, it’s not bad as long as it works for you–sounds like you’re what’s called a “midfoot striker.” There’s a lot of debate over forefoot strike, heel strike, and midfoot strike advantages and disadvantages, but in general midfoot strike is pretty reliable.

    2. Elkay*

      I did couch to 5K a couple of years back and have kept running fairly consistently (10K this morning). Remember to stretch afterwards (I find I don’t need to stretch before but it’s not a bad idea), in my experience the 5 minute cool down is enough to get my heart rate down but if I don’t stretch I’m in a lot of pain.

      I went and bought some new running shoes as a commitment to get off my butt and go running. My shoes aren’t expensive but I did get them from a proper sports shop where they got me to jog on a treadmill to check what type of shoe I needed.

      As for technique my only tip is remember to use your arms to propel yourself forward rather than just holding them by your side. Sometimes I find it easier to force my arms because my legs will just go along with it.

      Good luck!

    3. INTP*

      I got a stress fracture running Couch 2 5k distances. Which is weird, but apparently can happen, and I did it in old shoes with pretty broken down cushioning – so I vote for getting proper shoes.

      Actually, to be honest, if you are starting from completely sedentary, it’s probably not a bad idea to start with a couple of weeks of taking 30 minute walks to get your muscles and tendons and everything used to 30 minutes of supporting your weight and moving. It’s not that you can’t do the program (clearly you can), it’s just that running is infamous for causing injuries that result in looong setbacks so it’s best to start as slowly as possible imo.

        1. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Thirding the advice here — I did C25K when I was very sedentary, and actually did two rounds. There is nothing to say you can’t do the intervals as “walk” and “walk faster”. I did a round that way, and then started again on the alternate running/walking. I don’t run in a sustained manner anymore, my knees just won’t take it, but I walk like a demon and do 10 minutes of interval running, but it’s C25K that got me there.

          I would get new shoes. 8 years is a long time, and well-fitted shoes will help you stick with it. And running shoes are so ubiquitous, it’s not like you won’t be wearing them even if you don’t stick with running.

          Good luck!

    4. nep*

      Would be good to do yourself the favour of getting some new running shoes. Your body will thank you.
      Stretching after every workout — hear, hear. Do the nice deep, static stretching after running, while your muscles are warm. (Don’t forget to stretch those hip flexors and glute muscles.)
      Taking it slowly is the name of the game if one is just starting out (or just resuming after some time). As you know one of the main reasons people drop out of any kind of fitness/exercise programme is ‘too much too soon’. Go at your own pace.
      Good on ya for taking this on. All the best to you.

    5. Graciosa*

      Another vote for new shoes – these are so much more important than most people realize. Your body deserves that protection now.

    6. Christy*

      I totally agree that it’s a rough start for those without aerobic capacity. I agree with the post who said to start with 30 minute walks–that will help ease you in.

      And definitely get new shoes! I got some for my elliptical workouts and even those workouts are way better with new shoes. Besides, if it’s been 8 years (it’d been 7 for me) you need new shoes anyway for general use.

    7. Sandra Dee*

      One more vote for new shoes. I have done the couch 2 5k a couple of times, usually after I have gotten out of the running habit. I am currently training for a half marathon, and was having foot and hip issues. My shoes weren’t old, but they were not the right ones for the longer distances (needed half size larger, your feet swell during longer runs). I would never believed that shoes would make such a difference.

      Good luck. Start slow. Don’t give up, give yourself some time to build up the endurance.

    8. C Average*

      +1 for new shoes. And don’t forget good running socks, too! I’m always amazed when people splash out for spiffy new running shoes and throw them on with ten-year-old cotton tube socks. Well-made running socks are spendy compared to the aforementioned cotton tube socks, but they will help you avoid blisters and provide a much better experience. If you find a model you like, buy multiple pairs so you never have to hunt too hard for a matched set.

      When you go to the running specialty store to shop for shoes, you can do all the fancy treadmill tests and gait analyses they offer, but be aware that the scientific basis for that stuff is pretty weak. The general consensus in the well-run biomechanics studies is that, statistically, you’re as likely to choose the right shoe based on comfort as you are through gait analysis. So trust your instincts and do not buy a shoe unless it feels great on your foot. Also, if you haven’t bought running shoes in a few years, be aware that modern running shoes are built to be comfortable out of the box, no break-in required. So definitely don’t buy something iffy and think “oh, I’ll break these in.” The shoes you pick should feel great in the store.

      If you’re a woman, one of your first purchases should be a good sports bra. So, so important. It can really make a world of difference in your experience.

      Don’t be a slave to the plan. The plan is a tool, not a court order! You should definitely lean on it for motivation and general scheduling, but don’t ever feel like you’ve failed if you have to adapt the plan to your needs or even do a few weeks of unstructured training before jumping into the plan at all. It’s there for you. You’re not there for it. And you’re not being graded on your performance.

      I wouldn’t worry too much about your footstrike. Even professional runners have a wide range of footstrikes, and almost all runners do better when they use their natural footstrike than when they try to manipulate their footstrike. You may find, as you pick up speed and experience, that your footstrike changes and evolves. That’s perfectly normal and just fine.

      (I could geek out on running all day and all night.)

      Good luck and HAVE FUN.

      1. Elkay*

        Agree with not being a slave to the plan, repeat workouts if you need to, it’s a fine line between over-stretching yourself and challenging yourself.

      2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

        “The general consensus in the well-run biomechanics studies is that, statistically, you’re as likely to choose the right shoe based on comfort as you are through gait analysis.”

        Thank you so much for this information! The last two times, my running store has put me in New Balance instead of Asics. I find the NB’s uncomfortable and literally hard to break in (yes, that fortress wall of sole on the inside of the shoe will surely keep me from pronating, but I’m mostly walking — I feel I don’t need that much protection.) So perhaps I will go back to my “pick my own” habit because I loved my gel Asics.

        1. C Average*

          Gait analysis is just a tool. It can tell you some interesting things about the way you walk or run, but its results should never override your own instincts!

          Years ago I worked in a really great independent running specialty store, and I really loved the approach we took to fitting shoes.

          First we’d bust out the Brannock device and measure the customer’s feet, because most people THINK they know what size they wear, but they’re quite often wrong: they’ve been buying a certain size for years because they were told years ago that was the correct size. Get measured!

          Then we’d do the gait analysis thing on our FitPrint treadmill, which usually let us know whether we were dealing with a pronator or a supinator, forefoot striker versus heel striker, flat foot versus high arch, etc. This was all good background information to have and could usually help us narrow our picks down to three or four models.

          Then we’d put two different models on each of the customer’s foot and have them run a lap around the building outside. We’d run behind them, watching their feet and listening to their footstrike. If your sole slaps loudly, that’s usually a sign that the shoe isn’t flexing where your foot needs it to flex, so we’d usually encourage the customer to try a different model when we heard a slap.

          We’d then ask the customer to pick the shoe she liked best of the two. Then we’d swap out the other shoe. We’d repeat the whole process until we had a winner.

          And we’d always ask, “Do you like the way the shoe feels?” because that’s the really key question. It’s pretty unusual for a customer to pick a shoe that’s wrong. Once in a while we’d have someone fall in love with a shoe because of its color or because she was loyal to a certain brand and didn’t want to switch brands. If we really felt that she’d have a bad experience with that shoe, we’d try to dissuade her, but fortunately such scenarios were very rare.

          We had a 90-day no-questions-asked return policy that almost never got used, because we took the time to help the customer find the best shoe.

          If you ever get the sense that your running store is trying to steer you toward a certain shoe, gently but firmly stand your ground. A lot of times, this happens because the staff was given free pairs of the model they’re trying to push and they’ve come to prefer them. But that shouldn’t affect your options.

          For what it’s worth, although I work for Nike (for just two more weeks), I’ve always liked Saucony shoes best, with Nike a close second. I dislike New Balance and don’t much care for Asics, either. I’ve never tried Brooks or Adidas.

    9. Steve G*

      I run and do insanity fitness, and buy new sneakers every approx. 5 months. After 4 or so months, I start to feel the ankle and knee impact more, even on “good” sneakers!

      As per how long it should take to become a runner from nothing, it took me about 3 months (even when I was active already, always biking and working on my feet) in HS. After about a year I got to my best mile run (6:10, that ain’t happening again!!!) I did a lot f walking/jogging combos until the jogging part got longer. I think it was 8 months before I did a 5K. Honestly, I’d wait longer to do one if I had to.

    10. Trixie*

      In addition to investing in shoes and/or good inserts, I’d also look at a $10 foam roller. Dr Jordan Metzl recently did a piece on running for the TOday show including arm swing, gait, and foam rolling.

    11. Aussie Teacher*

      Thanks everyone, I really appreciate the advice! I’m going to invest in some good sneakers and ease into it a bit more with some regular walking before I try running again. I will definitely stretch too (and I have a foam roller as well!), and I also do Pilates so that should help a bit. Thanks again – I actually learnt quite a bit about running today :)

    12. thisisit*

      definitely get new shoes. i used to get shin splints when i tried to run, so i never did it. then i got news shoes and it made a huge difference.

      i’ve heard you can take couch25K and extend it – 10 weeks,say, and it’s easier on the body….

    13. Henrietta Gondorf*

      Another vote for new shoes and good socks.

      If you’re finding that the start of the program is too intense, start with brisk walking and focus on feeling comfortable with building up in terms of distance. It may also help to think of it in terms of time instead of distance. At a brisk pace, you’ll walk 2 miles in 35 minutes. If thinking about that sounds like it’s too much to start, outline for yourself what wouldn’t be too much (10 minutes? 20?) and start there. Add 10% per week to your mileage until you feel like you’re at a point where you can start the program.

    14. Sara*

      Good luck! I’ve done the timed program before and am now working my way through the distance version, since by the end of the timed program I was only running about 2.5 miles in 30 minutes. Go at a pace that’s comfortable for you! My most comfortable running speed is still only about 4.7-5.0 mph, which isn’t fast, but I can run my full distance without stopping that way, and that’s what I want.

  21. Labyrinthine*

    I just lost it a little bit on a friend’s Facebook post. She is “rehoming” her dog and, to put it lightly, I cannot disagree with this practice more. She is moving to a new apartment (by choice) that doesn’t accept dogs and so she is getting rid of him. Her dog she has had for 8 years.

    I just…UGH.

    1. Elkay*

      I seriously can’t imagine getting rid of my pet unless I was in an absolutely forced, no choice about it situation. I remember staring kind of open mouthed at someone who very casually told me they’d got rid of their cats they’d had for four years because they’d had a baby.

    2. nyxalinth*

      Ugh. she could have tried harder.

      I’d live under a bridge before giving up my cat, even though she’s very annoying some days!

      1. Sabrina*

        Agreed. I’d live in a tent in the woods before giving up my cat. That said, we’re planning on adopting a dog soon. Hopefully hers will land in a better home.

    3. BRR*

      That doesn’t sound like “rehoming,” it sounds like abandoning. I can’t imagine giving up my dog. Why do these people even have pets? I have two neighbors who only take their dog to the bottom of the stairs to use the bathroom then back inside. Occasionally they get to be walked to the mailbox (50 feet). Ugh I could go on but I’ve been so aggravated by people not being at least adequate owners.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Amen to all of that. Even if we hadn’t bonded as much as we did, I made a commitment to my doggy. He comes with us, no matter what. People who get dogs and don’t care for them… ugh.

      2. Labyrinthine*

        Yep. Just over 7 years ago, I made a commitment to my dog that he would be with me until the end. His life is so much shorter than mine, it hardly seems like much of a sacrifice. Plus, I get such happiness from having him in my life. There is nothing, and I mean absolutely not a freaking thing, that could get me to give him up.

        I gave up a dream job because it would have involved moving to a state where he likely wouldn’t have been able to live. I gave up cable for two years to be able to afford his (insanely) expensive food. I gave up data on my cell so I could afford pet insurance to cover his seemingly endless surgeries as a pup. I do so all without regret or second thoughts. Because he is my dog. I owe him these things. And, in return, I get his unconditional love and friendship.

    4. Anx*

      I know this probably isn’t applicable to the situation, but sometimes people rehome their animals after falling on hard times. I know a few people who could no longer afford vet bills, pet food, flea medication, toys, etc and 1 of the eventually rehomed their pet. Another kept their dog but feels torn about it because they applied for SNAP and knew that a pet could be considered a luxury.

      I feel like I have to mention it because people can be pretty judgmental about this without considering what it’s like to have to choose whether or not to feed their animals or pay their bills.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Well, things like that are different. the above story, it just felt like “Oh I just really want to live in this place, sorry Doggy.” And there are people like that. I know I’m being harsh and making an assumption here…I hope I’m wrong of it.

      2. Windchime*

        Yes, this. And let’s be fair; she’s not abandoning her dog. She is trying to find a new home for it. Hopefully she will do her due diligence and find a good, loving home.

        It’s a pet, not a child. I know I will get flak for saying that, but it’s true. I love my cat almost like he was my kid, but if I fell on hard times or was forced to move to a place where he absolutely couldn’t come, I would find him a new, loving home. My responsibility to him is to make sure that he is always loved and cared for, not that he must always stay with me no matter what (although it would take a lot to separate me from him). It would break my heart and I would miss him like crazy, but finding him a new loving home isn’t the same thing as abandoning him.

        1. nyxalinth*

          That’s a lot different. Sometimes I get too caught up in feelings to sort the difference in my head.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Agreed. I’m tired of people being so judge-y all the time about everything. “I would never do that!” I always want to say well, then don’t. Pets can be a burden sometimes. Not that I would ever abandon Psycho Kitty, but lately when I look at her, I see dollar bills flying away. Then she does something cute and I shake my head and shove treats at her.

          I bought her a small cat toy yesterday that looks like a little angry doggie. She was afraid of it. But this morning I found it very far away on the patio, so she must have played with it a little.

          1. Labyrinthine*

            Yep, I am judgy on this issue because I see no reason to ditch your obligations when you have other options. You make a commitment to a dog and dogs bond strongly with their humans. It is easy to pretend dogs don’t have similar emotions to us, but we are finding out more and more that they are actually quite evolved emotionally and socially.

            The only – and I mean o.n.l.y – situation where I would find it at all understandable is if you are physically or completely incapable of providing for your animal, even with sacrificing your own luxuries and the safety or health of the animal is in jeopardy. If you can’t make that kind of commitment, I don’t believe you should take on a pet.

            My dog is often an irritant to me. I plan social events, vacations, weekends away, work shifts, etc around him. I’ve moved across the country and back with him (and boy was THAT a treat….). I’ve given up luxuries like cable, eating out, data on my cell and driving instead of walking when I could in order to ensure he had the food he needed to be healthy. I am thankful I no longer have to do that, but I did it, and I think it is a reasonable thing to do. It is all part of the obligation of responsible pet ownership.

        3. Labyrinthine*

          She is abandoning him though. She has no idea what will happen to him, if he will be cared for, if they will in turn abandon him again.

          And no, it isn’t a child, but pet owners do have a responsibility and obligation. I can’t speak for cats as I haven’t seen any research, but there is a growing body of research that shows it is physically damaging to dogs to be taken from their home and placed in another. They have shorter, less healthy lives and it is believed (although research is ongoing) that this is due to the stress of being separated from their bonded humans.

          There is, of course, an exception when you have no possible way to care for them. But that exception does not extend to simply not wanting to give up luxuries in order to care for them. If someone cannot commit to that, they shouldn’t have pets.

      3. catsAreCool*

        I think it’s understandable when people fall on hard times or when someone, for example, has to go into assisted care where a pet isn’t allowed, but to give up a pet to move to a different apartment doesn’t allow pets – that seems like abandoning to me, too.

    5. thisisit*

      by choice because she can’t afford one that does allow pets? or an excuse to get rid of the dog?

      1. Labyrinthine*

        There is no such thing as not being able to afford one that allows pets here. There is no difference in rent for apartments that allow dogs vs don’t allow dogs. Our rental market is actually very standard. She has just decided she wants this particular place and won’t consider other options.

      2. Lindsay J*

        This was my thought.

        I adore my dog. However, I briefly considered giving her up when I had to move for my new job. She is a 70lb black lab/rottie mix. I don’t make a lot of money.

        I was looking mainly at shared apartments because of my finances. But I did look at solo apartments as well. A lot of places advertise that they are pet friendly, but then have weight restrictions (usually under 30 or 40 lbs) or breed restrictions (no pitbulls, rotties, dobermens, chows, huskies, etc) that ruled her out (and lots of other dogs) out.

        I found one place that was *perfect* except for the fact that they wouldn’t allow me to keep my Daisy.

        My boyfriend had mentioned when I started looking that having his parents take her might be a possibility. I asked him to inquire more with them while I kept looking.

        Luckily I found a situation (not as close to work and not as nice, and $170 a month more) that allowed me to keep my Daisy. But if that hadn’t happened, I would have been okay with her going to live with my boyfriend’s parents. (Honestly she may have been better off there than with me, as they are both retired and have lots of time to play with doggie, while I work long shifts so she gets fed and walked three times a day but spends lots of time alone). I would have felt terrible and I would have been lonely without her, but I don’t think finding a loving home is the same as abandoning a dog or bringing her to the pound.

  22. little Cindy Lou who*

    OMFG this week!

    My grandmother was found in a coma on Monday morning. By Monday evening what the doctors suspected as an infection was actually a major brain bleed. I took off work on Tuesday (quarter close be damned) and gathered with my family at the hospital. It was painful. Particularly in the morning when it seemed like grams was responding to us. The doctors said it was just reflexes. Grandma passed away last night.

    I have shit I need to do for work but ughhhh want to just curl up and pout. I’m down to one living grandparent, my other grandma, who broke her hip last week!

    Also, has it been bad joojoo for the elderly the past few weeks or just those near and dear to me? In addition to the above, a coworker’s grandmother broke her hip on Monday (20 minutes after I told him my grams was in the hospital), and our semi retired security guard fell and hit his head and fractured his wrist on Wednesday (minutes after I spoke to him). Maybe I’m cursed.

    1. nyxalinth*

      OMG I’m so sorry *offers hugs* there’s little I can say that won’t sound trite (to me at least) but you’re in my thoughts.

    2. fposte*

      I’m so sorry about your grandmother, and I hope that the hip-hurt grandmother heals quickly. That’s a rough time indeed.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        Thank you. Hip-hurt grandmother is in PT and though she hates it she is doing well.

        I’m just shocked because it had seemed like my grams was doing better the past month too. And it’s the first time anyone in our family has had to seriously weigh someone’s medical wishes. I always rationally “knew better” but it’s a real rock and a hard place when it’s staring you in the face.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        Thank you. Normally I wouldn’t air this on a forum but one of my dear friends has a bad (but thankfully treatable) ailment and I don’t want to overburden him right now, and another is going through a bout of depression and I want to project light for her, another can’t text on Saturdays for religious reasons, others are swamped at work this season, etc.

        1. nep*

          Wonderful that you’ve got this community — and that you get some relief from sharing here. Thanks.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Oh, this is so sad. I am sorry. I don’t know why these things come in waves, but they do. No, it’s not you. It happens to others also.
      This is not a big deal ( not like what you have going on) but to show a point: two winters ago, six people around me broke an ankle. What’s up with that?
      No, you are not cursed. I want to be sure that you know that.
      Please take care of you, it’s super easy to forget to do that when stuff like is going on.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        Thank you, really. I hate waves of bad things happening around me. I’m ok with it happening to me (I can’t be lucky all the time) but when it’s others and I can’t do anything, that’s when I feel defeated.

        I hopen everyone’s ankles healed up well!

    4. danr*

      Hugs… It just seems like things are piling up. (and we’ll be extra careful on the list this week). I’m sorry for your loss.

    5. C Average*

      I’m so sorry. What a week! Sending internet hugs, condolences, and cocktails your way.

    6. Steve G*

      Sorry for your loss! I am down to one grandma, who is 88, and whose health had gone downhill. She was just in the hospital for 3 weeks with an infection that was all throughout her body, and now she has to wear a catheter and have a FT nurse at home. It is very hard to watch, because my grandma used to be really goodlooking and active, so seeing her in patient mode is not easy. She was never the type to sit around and watch TV, but she physically can’t do anything else now.

      I mean this sympathetically and helpfully, 2 of my grandparents + 2 very close grandaunts died in pieces, and in the long term, it was much easier to cope with the deaths of the ones who passed more easily. Once our personal pain was gone, we weren’t left with a light ptsd from what we’d seen relatives go through. We’ve watched relatives go in pieces, and the images still haunt us sometimes, especially my mom.

      Hope someone helps you at work!

  23. nyxalinth*

    This is really embarrassing, but maybe someone here can give me advice. I have a couple of good friends on the internet: shared interests, etc. we talk fairly often. I know they have their own lives, as do I.

    But I feel like a real schmuck that I get depressed when I don’t hear from them. I don’t know why it makes me feel depressed and rejected. It’s so stupid! My high school days are over 30 years behind me. It’s not like we don’t talk enough. I KNOW intellectually that they think I am awesome and vice versa so it’s not like I’m someone they talk to when no one else is around (that happened a lot growing up) but sometimes it feels that way.

    I don’t want to say anything to them about how I feel, because it isn’t on them: it’s on me, because what I’m feeling is silly. If anyone has advice, I’d sure appreciate it.

    1. fposte*

      I think the answer is “Because humans are social creatures,” not that there’s anything wrong with you. I think distance friendships can be a challenge because you’ve got that single medium–you don’t have the walk around the block together option if you can’t make it to do a dinner together.

      Depending on the rhythm, you could reach out to those friends, in a “Saw this and thought of you” kind of way rather than a “This is a message telling you that you should have connected with me.” Or you can redirect and reach out to a nearby friend or other loved one (who might be hoping to hear from you, even) and do something together, if only a phone call.

      1. little Cindy Lou who*

        Agree with this. Either a friendly thinking of you or redirecting to others. I moved to an area where I don’t yet have many local friends outside of a few people I work in the same building with. When I’m missing the friends who I message more often than I get to see, I make sure to grab lunch with work friends, etc. Or comedy shows. I find laughter useful for curing all sorts of funks.

        1. nyxalinth*

          Thanks, I think that that will work. this is a pretty rcent thing, from out of the blue. I don’t want to ruin good friendships with clinginess!

      2. nyxalinth*

        I think you’re right. I’m not sure why I suddenly need these particular friends so much. It’s weird!

    2. Not So NewReader*

      All your eggs in one basket? Maybe there is a neighbor or a coworker that would like to hang out every so often.
      The problem with online friends is that if they have company, someone right in their house, they cannot just hop online. There’s other things, too.
      But I think if you add even just one or two people, in person people, to your mix it will help.

      See we can’t get validation, acceptance, friendship from a limited number of sources. It puts too much weight on the communication with those sources. Spread it out a little bit. I think you will feel a bit differently.

      1. nyxalinth*

        Yeah, that’s what I touched on when I said “I know they have lives, too.” It’s weird but normally I’m so introverted that it ever used to matter. Now it suddenly does! Thank you for this advice, because I really think it will help.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          You are reminding me of ME. I can run really introverted. Maybe it is age? But I am becoming more and more aware of the importance of adding people to my life. Casual friends count, everyone counts in this instance.
          I got this insight from watching my father. He lost a lot of people out of his life. The last ten years of his life he had more dead friends and family than he had living ones. I saw what happened. First, he worked all the time. Then he ran into family problems and all of the sudden he was retired, 65 y/o and no way to really find new good friends. It was , very sad, he was the kind of guy people warmed up to quickly, if they got to meet him. I saw the importance of adding new peeps through out our lives. It doesn’t have to be any set number or any big amount of people. It just has to be a life habit.
          Go slow and pick with care, this will get better.

      2. We only want a quiet place to finish working while God eats our brains*

        I know this feeling all too well. I hope I don’t seem unsympathetic when I tell you that the only *real* solution is to not waste your time, your emotions, and your energy on “online friends”. It’s just not worth it to invest yourself in someone you will never meet in real life.

        (Not trying to steal your thread: right now I’m trying to deal with someone who has moved far away, and I’ll probably never see them again. No easy answers).

    3. C Average*

      On behalf of crappy correspondent friends everywhere, can I just say that I really do mean to answer all the emails languishing in my inbox? Once I make the move from the corporate environment to home, I plan to set aside an hour a day just for correspondence with people I like. I’m really looking forward to it.

    4. Christy*

      It’s ok to feel hurt! They are real friends. Just because they’re on the internet doesn’t mean they don’t count emotionally.

      I was a member of a blog commentariat that basically disintegrated, and it was really, really upsetting. Like, I cried lots of real tears. So I get it. The emotions are real.

      Do I know how to deal with them? Not particularly. I might send a quick, short message that doesn’t have much emotional weight behind it, in hopes that it inspires an easy response.

      1. nyxalinth*

        I ended up having an emotional breakdown earlier. Once the worst of it was over, I made a post on the role-playing community we’re all on, and I said I was feeling over emotional and stressed out and added also that I felt like people only wanted to roleplay with my characters until ‘something more fun with the cool kids’ was going on, even though I logically know it isn’t true. I felt that way because the thread I’d started, the one friend participated in for about two posts, then spent all day on the other threads. I kind of felt like it was “I’ll play with you until Jane and Wakeen come along, because they’re cooler.” I think it triggered every insecurity I’d toted around since I was nine years old :P

        Maybe my threads required more involvement, or mental effort, or something else, but if people communicated better–including me–I wouldn’t have felt like I did.

        so I’m going to take a break and if they care, the ball’s in their court now, and if not, then it’s time to move on, but either way, I really need a break. this was too much.

        1. Christy*

          Would you enjoy participating on the other people’s threads? Maybe if they are worth it to you, you could spend time on others’ threads, even if that’s not your ideal.

          Obviously, do whatever you need to be happy, but maybe that kind of adjustment could work for you.

          1. nyxalinth*

            I did try, and it just seemed–in my head–to shift to “Well, she’s here, so let’s narrow this down further and just ignore her attempts in this thread.”

            So it didn’t help, but I’m pretty much goin away and staying away for a god long while. I need a break.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Sometimes when this stuff comes over me, it is because I just need to sleep. I mean go to bed and sleep for like 10-12 hours. It is amazing how being tired can set the emotions up to be so vulnerable.
          Yep. A break sounds good for you. Time to turn and look at other things for a bit.

  24. Amber Rose*

    I really want to take a class that involves physical activity since I’m way out of shape. I’m kinda leaning towards a martial art. I always wanted to do martial arts as a kid but my parents were pretty firm about that not being girly enough. (Also not girly enough: toy cars and weapons. Guess what I have a surplus of as an adult? Haha.)

    It looks like there’s a place that teaches sword fighting here in town, which combines my love of weapons with my desire to get some exercise. I’m a little worried about getting ripped off though. I don’t know what makes a good school, and I don’t have so much money I can throw it at wastes of time.

    Anyone have any thoughts on whether this is a bad idea or not? Or what to look for in a good school vs a bad one?

    1. nep*

      Agree — most reputable fitness centres and schools will allow people to observe a class, or participate in one for a small fee or free. (You might check out whether there’s a Krav Maga location in your area — the one near me has a lot of interesting things on offer.)
      I like your approach of getting fitter by doing something you enjoy. Best way to do it.
      All the best. Keep us posted.

    2. Colette*

      See if they’ll let you try a class, or, if not, how many classes you have to sign up for.

      I’ve done boxing for eight years, and I love it. I tried a fencing class and didn’t like it at all. The difference is that in boxing, We rotate through stations (and we get multiple things to do at each station), whereas in fencing, the entire group did the same thing until the instructors had a chance to observe everyone. There were a lot of us trying the class, so that got boring and repetitive.
      If you’re concerned about it, ask questions about how the class is structured. But if you can sign up for less than10 classes, I’d suggest you just give it a try.

    3. Yoshi*

      I’m not sure where you are located, but my local community college offers fitness/exercise classes along these lines. This might be a good and economic alternative where you can learn the basics, and then move towards a more specialized studio for further study. I took an aerobics course a few years back, and it was a good mix of all age ranges and fitness levels, including many middle age folks and a fair amount of seniors (and actually, very few 18-20 year olds).

      But whatever you do- kudos to you! Enjoy!

    4. Clever Name*

      ditto on observing or taking a class for free. Try to avoid a situation where you give them your credit card number and they auto deduct each month. See if you can attend classes a la carte or pay yourself each month.

  25. little Cindy Lou who*

    I think a lot of places will let you try (or at least observe) a class for free if you express interest in doing so

  26. Katie the Fed*

    House shopping is so depressing.

    We had just started looking when I had my accident, and we haven’t been able to get back out there. Meanwhile, we’re pretty much missing out on the spring market – so many beautiful places have come and gone – I couldn’t go look. Now I’m ready and the ones I loved are gone.

    Not to mention the perpetual struggle between “small and short commute” vs “big but stupid long commute.” We’re willing to live in a small place for the sake of a better commute, but only within reason. And god are they expensive. So, so, expensive.

    1. danr*

      You’ll find new houses to love. There will be another set on the market as the school year winds down. Just don’t fall in love with a house that is either totally outside your commute range or price range… or both.

    2. periwinkle*

      Our timing was excellent, or perhaps simply lucky. Our buyer’s agent warned us that the inventory would be light over the winter and suddenly increase exponentially in early spring. My strategy was to take advantage of the slow period, look at properties that had been sitting on the market for at least a month, and convince a seller to kick in the closing costs so we could preserve our cash reserves. It worked out perfectly and we closed on our new house in mid February when inventory and sales activity were still minimal. I’ve kept my saved search active out of curiosity; around the first week of March, the new listings started to flood in. A lot of them went into “under contract” status within a week of listing. No flippin’ way my strategy would work right now.

      Rather glad my employer has its facilities in the satellite cities rather than the Big City (Seattle). That lessens the need to sacrifice space for commuting sanity. After fighting DC traffic for years, I was delighted to find a suitable apartment with a 15-minute commute and even more delighted to buy a house with the same commute time.

      Hope something good pops up soon in Fed Land!

    3. Artemesia*

      I feel your pain. We just bought an urban condo last year (got hosed on the price as we are really bad at this) and of course you have to select from what is there not what your dream is. I find the process excruciating. We are very happy where we ended up (except for getting a very bad deal) but there were a lot of trade offs and I find the whole process anxiety producing to the max.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      Hang tough! Buying/selling a house is among the top five most stressful things in life. This will get better.

    5. Clever Name*

      I think a bigger house is almost never worth the commute. I had an hour and a half commute (one way) and I could only do it for a couple of years. It really brings you down after a while.

    6. We only want a quiet place to finish working while God eats our brains*

      My heart goes out to both or you. I used to own a “townhouse” in Manassas. It was expensive as hell and very poorly constructed.

      I don’t know that I consider this advice, but if I had it all to do again, I would have gone for someplace more expensive that was better built and with as short a commute as possible. It’s often impossible to buy time. This is one of those relatively rare exceptions where paying more will give you extra time in your lives.

  27. nep*

    Came across a great line the other day:
    ‘Home is not where you were born — home is where all your attempts to escape cease.’

    So indeed it’s not a place at all but a state of being.
    Are you home?

    1. nep*

      (P.S. I’ve seen it attributed to Naguib Mahfouz — hope that’s correct. If anyone knows different, do share.)

    2. Steve G*

      NOT NOW. It is bothering me. I am in NYC and every time I go to upstate NY, or New England or rural Pennsylvania, and see all of the forests and mountains and lovely houses on huge properties with nice landscaping for reasonable prices, I feel like I should be there. I would LOVE to live near a small city like Albany (yes I said Albany!) where I can drive downtown for work and to get my cosmopolitan fix, but have a nice house with a huge lawn and garden, orchard, with some wooded acreage.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Yes. Home is where I am with my husband and the critters. We move a lot, and we’ve lived in a lot of different places, and “I want to go home” means to me that I want to be where I am perfectly comfortable and at ease with everything.

    4. Sweetheart of the Rodeo*

      I think I only felt this way for about ten minutes in my entire life (a lot of moving, and now got myself stuck somewhere where I’m a permanent square peg). Of course, during those ten minutes when I did feel truly at home and wasn’t thinking about where else to be, someone showed up to turn my life upside down – and he lived 2,000 miles away.

    5. nep*

      Interesting how people are referring to their physical environment / the physical place.
      If one is ‘home’, living in a less-than-ideal place doesn’t weigh so heavily.

        1. nep*

          I get that environment matters in some aspects. Point is, though, when one’s contentment and peace are based primarily on something external (another person, circumstances, physical place), they’re always fleeting.

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      Great quote!
      Since I try on a regular basis to escape (whether for a few hours, a day, a weekend…) home, the answer is currently no.
      Later on in the year, I hope it will be a yes (I’m moving cities)

    7. Sara*

      NOPE. I moved us here for graduate school almost 2 years ago and I have regretted that decision pretty much every day since. The only thing I like about this place is (a) that my boyfriend and I get to live together, as opposed to several hundred miles apart, and (b) my job. But the weather here is terrible (record-setting terrible), it’s so crowded and so expensive, and making new friends has been incredibly difficult.

  28. CrazyCatLady*

    Two things:

    1) anyone watch Bates Motel? I’M SO FASCINATED by this show! It took me a few episodes to warm up to it but now I’m just disgusted and intrigued all the time.

    2) how do you make new friends when you’re kind of anxious socially, and have a hard time “being yourself” around new people?

    1. C Average*

      I don’t watch Bates Motel, so I’ll take “Making Friends” for $500, Alex.

      I’ve found through long experience that I do best with activity friends. I think my social anxieties tend to be at their worst when I’m focusing on “being social,” but give me a job to do or a role to play or an activity to partake of, and I have no problem being outgoing and friendly. So I’ve joined running clubs, attended writing groups, shown up at the climbing wall willing to belay, painted sets for community theater, volunteered at church and at the Humane Society, and just sort of tried to put myself in settings where my body was busy enough that my brain could chill out a little.

      I just cannot do the standing-awkwardly-making-small-talk kind of socializing. It’s agony. I will never learn to not hate it, and I’ve ceased trying.

      Does any of this resonate with you at all?

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        Yes, that makes sense. I’m trying some meetup groups(first one tomorrow) so we’ll see how that goes. I’m hoping the fact that we’ll all be doing something, will take pressure off the awkwardness for me. Thanks!

      2. BRR*

        That sounds like my husband. He could be social with something going on like board games but would bomb at a cocktail party. Good advice!

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Oh, this so makes sense to me.
        I am finding that a lot of people around me are the same way. I kind of find comfort in that- they understand enough of the importance of getting together to decide to set up activities to do together.

        Another thing that provides a pressure relief valve is telling myself I do not have to stay the entire time if I do not want to.

    2. Alistair*

      I got about halfway through season one, and I’m tempted to get back in, but I got really irritated when it seemed like every new character has another deep dark secret revealed, or when every new episode is another plot twist.

      Does anything ever get explained??? Cause that might be the only way to get me back.

      1. CrazyCatLady*

        It does get better, but there are still plot twists and deep dark secrets. I think it’s more reasonable than it was at the beginning, though.

    3. Tara*

      When I’m going into a new social setting and hoping to get to know people, I try to have some conversation prepared in my head. Something like: two fun things I’ve done recently, two cute/funny stories (pre-tested on my own friends), two questions about my conversational partner, etc. It helps me feel a lot less anxious! Usually I’m Ms. Extravert, but when the demographic skews much older than me I can get pretty nervous.

    4. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      I didn’t do this, but this strategy would have worked for me — I was talking to a colleague that, like me, has a job where networking and making small talk at mandatory events is part of the job. She sets small goals for herself –“I can leave when I’ve introduced myself to three new people” or “I can leave after 20 minutes as long as I have engaged three people or groups of people.”

      My own strategy is to pretend I have an acting role that requires being social, so I basically fake it until I make it. With both strategies, it lessens the fear of failure that so often freezes people with social anxiety. It wasn’t me that bombed, it was DQO Social Queen. My colleague may find this gathering excruciating, but as long as she fulfills her mission, she has determined the parameters under which she can escape if things aren’t going well.

      Let it be said that if I have a great time and make new friends, real DQO gets all the credit, not DQO Social Queen.

    1. CAA*

      I am! TiVo is actually recording it right now! DH is cooking dinner and he watches with me, so I am virtuously waiting for him.

  29. The Other Dawn*

    So, the tenant PAID the April rent. That means she stays until April 28. Then she must leave and can’t reopen the case or try to stay. Woo hoo! I’d rather have her out now, but I desperately needed the rent money; needed 500.00 in car parts for my car, dishwasher died the other day, and have many one-off bills that are WAY overdue. Plus, since she paid, I don’t have to drive an hour down to the court, sign more paperwork, pay the Marshal to serve them, etc. A lot less hassle. Almost over. :)

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Actually that wasn’t money she owes. It’s rent for April in order to be allowed to stay until the end of the month. Have to take them to small claims court for the $5k they owe.

    1. Confession time*

      Glad you will be free of your nightmare tenant soon. I remember your earlier comment, what a difficult situation.

    2. Steve G*

      Does her paying hurt your case when it eventually does happen, in your jurisdiction? Or are you fine with her as long as she pays?

      I just came here remembering someone was complaining about a tenant. I just ended up having a fight my landlord about the tenants. Not good. They’ve been really bad the last 2 weeks with early morning (as in 6:30) bangs/shoes and late night noise. I stayed in a hotel the other night to escape it and actually sleep but that is obviously expensive ($140 was the cheapest I could find). He apparently still hasn’t decided whether to evict them. I told him I am not paying rent until this is solved, which he doesn’t seem to care about. I thought that would get him moving.

      As I write this, babies are crying, people are walking back and forth in high heels on wood floors, someone is playing a video game full blast, and every ten or fifteen minutes, it sounds like a body is falling on the floor. I just cancelled my attendance at a Polish friend’s early morning traditional polish Easter breakfast because I can’t see being up at 6 tomorrow with this noise going on now.

      I know I’ve maybe dramatized things a bit in the past, but this one is as bad/annoying as I say it is! Ahh!!!!!! Can’t wait to buy an unconnected house with a big yard.

      1. BRR*

        Ugh. Why can’t people be mildly considerate of each other. Are you the Oakland person? If yes I would be careful about with holding rent and check your lease/local laws because if you’re not able to without for noisy neighbors I’d hate for you to lose your rent controlled place (although for no rent I’d be willing to put up with semi noisy neighbors).

        1. Steve G*

          I know the consideration level kills me. I do the garbage, recycling, wash the floor in the halls, sweep the sidewalk, shovel the snow, etc., and never play music outloud anymore (only into earphones). These people don’t get consideration.

          And I am in NYC, so eviction here is a loooonnnnnnggggggggg thing.

          I think I remember someone with rent-controlled place, that was someone else.

            1. Steve G*

              LOL either! I am too perfect of a tenant, paying bills in advance and taking off my shoes when I come home, I’m a bit of a nerd when it comes to my apartments:-)

      2. The Other Dawn*

        No, I have a stipulated judgement which means she had to pay April rent in order to have a final stay until April 28. That’s the end of it. She’s out after that and can’t reopen the case or try to stay longer.

        1. Steve G*

          oh, that sounds good! I had a friend in NYC who had a tenant who wasn’t paying rent, and once she started too, the judge was sympathetic to her and let her stay a year! Was hoping the same didn’t happen to you!!!!

    3. BRR*

      That’s a pleasant surprise. I’m happy the end is in sight.

      Do you know if the house is in good shape?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes it is, although the spray paint is still outside. I’ve told them they need to clean it up before they leave but I’m sure it won’t happen.

        1. Windchime*

          Spray paint outside!?? How did I miss that. I am so sorry. I hope they leave the place in relatively good shape.

          Four years ago, I sold my house in one town to move to another. I needed the equity to put a down payment on the new house, but some people suggested that I rent out my old home and just rent over here. No way. Hearing your story just confirms that I was right to follow my gut; I can’t imagine dealing with this crap for as long as you have.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            I definitely wouldn’t rent it out if I didn’t have to. We wouldn’t be able to sell it for enough to pay off the mortgage and with the tenant situation we definitely wouldn’t be able to make up the difference right now.

    4. Apollo Warbuks*

      Some over due good news :) I hope you get them out without anymore trouble and get the judgement for the rest of the money you’re owed.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      You have a security deposit on the place, yes? I am hoping you do so you can use that to pay for the graffiti removal and whatever else is going on.

  30. The Other Dawn*

    I’m looking for recommendations for protein drinks. I’m a bariatric patient and need protein drinks that contain either soy or whey isolate, not concentrate. I’m currently using either Bariatric Advantage meal replacements, Premier Protein ready-to-drink, or EAS 100% Whey. I like the price of EAS, but it’s mostly concentrate, with a small amount of isolate; I’ve had to go cheaper due to the tenant issues. I also like Nectar, but haven’t had anything other than Fuzzy Navel, which gets old really fast.

    Any suggestions?

    1. Shell*

      Do you have a Costco nearby? Mine stocks 2 kg of protein powder (whey isolate) for pretty cheap; I think I got mine for $35-40. The brand is local Canadian I think, so it won’t be of any help to you, but maybe your Costco will have something similar.

        1. Shell*

          Local Canadian brand (repeating again since my comment is on moderation).

          While I’m waiting for the link to show up, I notice the Costco jars are the whey blend kind. Leanfit (the brand) does have an isolate-only one as well, though.

          Anyway, I doubt it’ll be helpful to you since it’s a Canadian brand and manufacturer, but maybe your local Costco will have something. I recall my Costcos always had at least two brands of protein powder, possibly three or four.

    2. periwinkle*

      Syntrax Nectar is my favorite. If you’re an iced tea drinker, get their lemon ice tea flavor and spark it up with various fruit-flavored sugar-free syrups (or a spoonful of the Fuzzy Navel). Syntrax’s “traditional” flavors (their Matrix line) are pretty good, too. I buy my powders and syrups through Netrition dot com; they have a vast selection, good discounts, and cheap shipping in the continental U.S. They also sell a protein sampler pack!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Thanks! I’ll check out that site. I’d love a sampler pack. I’ve wasted lots of money on proteins that turn out to be gross or don’t mix well. I’ve returned some, but it’s a pain when I order online.

        Have you tried any of the Nectar fruit flavors? I’ve heard they’re pretty strong.

        1. periwinkle*

          I liked Crystal Sky (mixed fruits flavor) and the lemonade one. Netrition also sells a sampler pack of just the Nectar flavors!

          1. The Other Dawn*

            Yes, I saw that and I intend to get it. They have a HUGE selection on that site! I just wish the chocolate peanut butter was Syntrax and not the other one. I need the isolate.

    3. Sunflower*

      I just ordered the Syntrax Nectar protein sampler from SI03(they were really difficult to get in touch with). I’ve never had protein drinks before so I still have no idea what I’m doing. So far I’ve tried the Lemonade and mixed it with some crystal light. It was definitely sweet so I think maybe if I diluted it with more water it would have been better. Tried the Chocolate truffle last night. I’m not big on dairy(thus why i was drawn to this brand) and it was very tasty. I wasn’t big on the texture so I ended up adding more powder to make it thicker and froze it. It definitely didn’t’ freeze like ice cream but I really enjoyed it.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ve heard their fruit flavors are pretty strong. The only one I’ve had is the Fuzzy Navel, and I will never order it again. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I had to drink so much of it during my first two months post-op. Just. Can’t. Do. It. I’ve had the Vanilla Bean and that was very good.

        I’m wanting to switch, because the meal replacement shakes average about 220 calories once I add skim milk. And if I have one, I SHOULD be using it as a meal, but I tend to call it a snack.

  31. C Average*

    Now that I’m a short-timer at my corporate job, I’m kicking it into high gear on my novel. Because it opens on Thanksgiving 1969, I’m doing a lot of research on the draft lottery that occurred in December 1969–reading oral histories from vets and conscientious objectors, watching footage of the televised broadcast of the lottery, etc.

    I’m absolutely fascinated by what I’m learning. I’m trying to think of anything comparable in our current time, any cultural event that actually touched almost every life, and I can’t come up with anything. It boggles my mind to imagine every draft-aged man in America turning on his TV or radio and waiting for his birthday to come up.

    If any of you are old enough to remember this period in history, I’d love to read about any memories you have of the draft lottery, as well as its leadup and aftermath.

    1. Girasol*

      I remember working at Northrup King’s test field one summer afternoon hearing in the corn around me pocket radios in all directions as everyone listened for the draft numbers for himself or a brother or a sweetheart. Lunch break was silent and gloomy in spite of the good fortune that no one had a low number. We all knew that somewhere someone’s heart sank with the news. In my tiny Midwest high school we’d already lost a classmate to Viet Nam so the reality of it no longer seemed far away.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This isn’t much but I remember seeing signs in the post office “you must register”. I was underage then and felt grateful for that. I was also grateful to be female. This meant it would never be something I would worry about. I worried about the guys around me, though, and wondered what it was like to be them.

    3. C Average*

      Thanks for the stories.

      It’s crazy to me that we didn’t learn about this in school, and I find myself wondering a lot about that. I had an absolutely wonderful high school history teacher–wise, funny, strict but fair. We idolized him.

      And he glossed over Vietnam in, like, one day. Which was so unlike him.

      He kept his private life very private, and we always got excited when some detail about Mr. B became available. Mr. B had a sports car! Mr. B had worked for the railroad before he became a teacher! Mr. B had sons who were Mormons–did that mean he was a Mormon too? One of the things we learned about him, and which he reluctantly confirmed when asked, was that he’d played semi-professional hockey in Canada in his early twenties.

      I find myself wondering now: why was he even IN Canada in his early twenties? Was he born Canadian? Or had he possibly gone to Canada to dodge the draft? He would’ve been draft age at the time he was there.

      It’s interesting to think back on how Vietnam was presented in our history class and to wonder if the reasons might have been personal for the teacher.

      1. Clever Name*

        I wouldn’t be surprised. On Veterans Day last year, my dads as sitting next to a man his age in a waiting room, and the other man had a Vietnam vet cap on my dad sincerely thanked him for his service, and the man started crying and said nobody had ever done that. I think Vietnam tore open an enormous wound in our country, and because Americans aren’t very good about talking about negative feelings, the wound is just now starting to heal.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Returning Nam vets were treated like crap. They were spit on, called names, etc.Citizens of country treated these folks horribly. This sits in direct opposition to WW2 vets that had ticker tape parades. Part of the problem was that with tvs in everyone’s home people could see the war. There were other problems too big to go into right here.

          The one thing I see now is that whether people disagree or agree with our military involvments there is a LOT more effort made to show respect for those that serve. Each Vietnam vet was treated as if he was the person who ordered the bombings, etc.himself. (Remember we are talking about guys who were 19 y/o or so.) And fortunately we now realize that is simply not true.

          War sucks.

        2. C Average*

          This is so heartbreaking. These were kids we were sending over there, and they weren’t given a choice! It’s horrible that they were treated so poorly upon their return. If there’s one thing I’m taking away from this research, it’s that whenever I see anyone wearing any Vietnam vet regalia, I’m going to look him in the eye and thank him for his service. From what I’ve read, the entire disastrous thing was seriously misguided, but that was the fault of the politicians, not the draftees. (I’m also listening to the audiobook of “The Best and Brightest,” and it’s making my blood boil.)

          1. Saucy Minx*

            I’m 67. When I was in college, several male friends were Vietnam vets. Hardly any of them ever talked about their time in Vietnam. Maybe they did among themselves, but not generally.

            My older brother was drafted. Luckily, he didn’t pass the physical at boot camp & got sent home due to heel spurs, which had not stopped him being a hiker, camper, & mountaineer. My little brother was not called up.

            I heard tell of many men who joined the ROTC in order to defer or try to avoid service, but didn’t know anyone myself.

          2. Not So NewReader*

            Some groups that were in Nam together have gotten together again. They have websites with pics from their time together in the war. I am not sure how you would start to find these groups. The one that I was aware of I cannot link you to, because I have totally lost the references on how to find them. It was not easy to find the site, I remember that once I found it, the site was biiiig.
            But you may be able to find a local group that would be willing to chat with you.

            1. C Average*

              Thanks, NSNR!

              What I’m looking for is a bit obscure, and unfortunately isn’t something an actual veteran would be able to help me with. I’d hoped that if I poked around in enough places, I’d find someone who had a relevant experience.

              My main character is a man who entered divinity school at the height of the draft era. Even though his call is sincere, he’s conflicted about the rightness of actually following it, and even questions his own sincerity. I’d like to find someone who entered divinity school or seminary in those years, either due to a genuine vocation or to dodge the draft. I want to nail down the details of how one gained that kind of exemption, how difficult it was, whether one had to somehow prove one’s vocation, that kind of thing.

              What’s interesting, though, is that in the course of my research I’ve reached out to the veterans I know, and they are SO interested in telling their stories. I’m realizing that an awful lot of people my age (I’m Gen X) never really learned about Vietnam except via Hollywood, and an awful lot of Vietnam veterans have never had anyone express an interest in their experiences. I’ve been having some wonderful email exchanges with my dad, who did three Navy tours as an enlisted man. I think, once I’ve wound down my 9-to-5 gig in another week, I may look for some opportunities to volunteer for veteran-related causes. This whole thing has taken on a bit of a life of its own.

              1. Emily*

                That sounds like a neat premise! I’m a sucker for stories about religious people who are thoughtful about their religion.

                I’m glad that the Vietnam veterans you’re in contact with are getting to tell you about their experiences. Even if you don’t use the material in your book, it sounds like the act of sharing their stories with you might be really valuable to them.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        When I was in high school teachers would say the only reason they were teachers was because they could avoid the draft that way. Otherwise they said they would never have become teachers. I don’t remember too much talk about Nam in school but I think this was just after Nixon brought everyone home, supposedly everyone. I remember seeing the freed prisoners on national tv. I cried.

      3. Emily*

        That was my experience, too – but I suspect it was because we started to run out of time by the time we got to late 1900s, not because the teacher had a personal stake in it.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I am, but I was 1) only four and 2) a girl. ;) The only event I remember from 1969 is the moon landing. I do remember seeing the war on TV (and Watergate), but both were later.

      I’m researching the same period, but in England and America at the same time. Certain details have proved rather difficult to pin down, especially in Britain.

      1. C Average*

        Like what? I’m always interested in other people’s research topics. Good grief do I love research.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Slang, mostly. Also, I’m going to have to learn about theater and the film industry and I’ve barely even begun. This book is never going to happen at this rate.

          One reason I’m super jealous of you. And I’m not kidding.

          1. C Average*

            Oh, I believe you! This is seriously the most amazing opportunity I’ve ever been given, and I’m going to strive mightily to not squander it.

            You and other authors are such an inspiration to me. I’m looking forward to joining your ranks.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      My father was drafted… but due to whatever reasons was never sent over. However, he did tell me one story that they weren’t allowed to have magazines or newspapers on base (I think this happened during Basic, maybe the higher ranks had access). At some point, someone smuggled in a Time magazine and he read it in the bathroom stall, because they weren’t telling anyone anything about what was really going on over there. It’s hard to imagine how different things were back then, when we have access to information via the internet whenever we want. People only got information from TV news or newspapers/magazines, or from what people told them. It must have been so easy to limit access to information or shape the narrative how you wanted it to be.

      1. C Average*

        Wow. This is so amazing to think about! The flow of information has definitely changed.

        My husband and I read aloud to each other at night and we’ve been working our way through “Unbroken,” and some of the most exciting passages involve the POWs sneaking into the Japanese military offices to filch newspapers, read them, and return them without getting caught. The whole book is a really incredible read.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          That does sound like an interesting book. I watched Tenko when it was on and that was also something to really think about reframing ideas of war and occupation and what that might have been like. It was a BBC series where the women left behind after the Japanese invaded Singapore were sent to an internment camp (or at least the ones that weren’t sent to be prostitutes for the Japanese army). My grandparents went through WWII — they never spoke of it. I’ve read some things and seen some documentaries so I have a very tiny idea of it — but I will never fully understand what they went through, ever (or at least I hope not). Travelling to Germany, seeing photos of what it looked like after the war and what it looks like now, it’s hard to comprehend how much devastation there was and how much work has been done to repair all that. That is one of the things I have to remind myself from time to time, as bad as my life may seem or feel, there are others out there that have it much worse and I’m very fortunate to have the life I’ve got. It doesn’t mean my pain doesn’t matter, but I do try and keep it in perspective as much as I can, with varying degrees of success.

          You can imagine how my father must have felt reading about VietNam, it was completely different than what they were being told in their training. It’s not like they could flick on CNN and see for themselves any time of day or night.

          1. Saucy Minx*

            Britain had rationing from 1940 through the mid-1950s.

            Unlike Germany & Japan, the enemies, Britain, the lone hold-out of fortitude, got no rebuilding help. There were still plenty of bomb sites to be seen in 1975, 30 years after the end of the war.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          My father ended up state side in WWII. He repaired airplanes. Many, many people were set to ship out when the bombs were dropped. They ended up not going when Japan surrendered. My father was one of those people.

          My husband was 4F for Vietnam. He was hypoglycemic (pre-diabetic).

          Both men ended up feeling they did not do “enough”. They compared themselves to what other men went through and decided they that they each had failed. It was sad to watch. I don’t think they ever really moved through their feelings of failure.

  32. Confession time*

    I have an “ethnic” name. I was born and raised in the US, where I still live, but my parents immigrated from [a country in which English is not widely spoken] about 10 years before I was born. I have their last name. I also have first and given names from that country that I’ve never connected to or identified with, I just feel that they aren’t “my” names. They are also very feminine names, and I’ve always had a hard time seeing myself as “a woman”, so there’s that. Bottom line, I want to change my first and middle names (I’ve had a first/middle combo in mind for years), and shorten my last name (it has a convenient, simple, classic shortened version). I feel increasingly crappy when I have to sign my birth name for any reason, or when I see it on my work/company email address/signature, on my accounts and credit cards, etc. I see it everywhere, and it’s very disorienting to see my given name on paper and not recognize it as my name.

    My questions are: has anyone here changed their name? How did you handle telling people at work, family, etc.? (My friends and social groups/acquaintences/church are no trouble — they already call me by my chosen first name.) And ultimately, was it worth the trouble of changing your name legally with the government (SSN, passport, license, etc) and also banks, creditors, credit bureaus, and so on? I’m compiling a list of everywhere I’d have to change it and it’s a little overwhelming. Any tips to make the process go more smoothly, and any advice in general? Much appreciated — thanks!

    1. Graciosa*

      I haven’t done this, but you might try doing a search on this web site (possibly search on “name change marriage passport” or something similar). There was an extensive discussion not that long ago about name changes after marriage, and a number of people added information about their experiences changing their names at a different time, or when both spouses changed to a new joint name. If you don’t get good feedback today, try the archives.

      Good luck.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      You might want to look at how trans people change their names. Your situation is similar in that you are changing your name to one that you prefer (many states have different laws for people changing names due to marriage, which wouldn’t apply to you).

    3. periwinkle*

      I changed my first name because I wanted to finally legalize the name I’ve been using since high school. It was a pain, yes, but such a relief to be officially ME. Totally worth it. :)

      Once you have the signed court order, go straight to the Social Security office and get your name updated there. You might not be able to change the other IDs without your new SSN card. Yeah, you’re going to be notifying a lot of organizations. Do the government and financial ones first. Quick tip: don’t forget the travel sites (including frequent flyer programs) because your ticketed name has to match your IDs.

    4. Today's anon*

      Yes to what Blue_eyes said – trans people have been changing names for a long time, and you should also be able to find lists of all the places you need to change your name so that is handy. Some places you just need to tell them (netflix for example), others will require a copy of the court document (social security, banks) so you need to get some certified copies after the court document is ready.

      When I changed my name, like you, most of my friends/people in my personal life already knew my chosen name. At work, I told my supervisor and then his supervisor (CEO type position) and we decided on date when the change would happen officially. I met with my staff before that day, and after that sent a general email to everyone at work (we are kind of medium – too big for me to tell everyone face to face but not so big that I don’t interact with everyone).

      It was totally worth it to me because like you I really did not identity with that name anymore. The thing that was a surprise was that my former name was pretty unique, and my current name is not and that is at times very strange.

    5. Pennalynn Lott*

      I’ve changed my last name by going to court. It was no big deal. I just told everyone at work my new name, and they were like, “Eh. Whatever floats your boat.” It took a few people a while to remember my new name, but that’s to be expected. The wife of a friend of my dad’s changed her first name a million years ago (30 years?) from Patricia to Mia. She took a little ribbing from friends, but everyone adjusted.

      Yes, there was some paperwork involved, what with contacting my mortgage lender, credit cards, utilities, Social Security Office, drivers license office, the county department that records real estate ownership, bank, etc.; but I just made lots of copies of the court name-change document and mailed it out to every entity who needed proof. And now that I’ve gone back to college, I’ve had to do the same thing with the Registrar’s Offices of my local colleges, because they’ve still got me listed under my old last name. The junior college just wanted to see a copy of my drivers license, but the university wanted that plus my social security card plus the court document. At least now I can scan and email them, rather than have to take them in person or snail mail them. :-)

      I never contacted the credit bureaus, but they got the message from my creditors.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      My father’s people had their name changed for them. Immigration could not spell very well in those days.
      I think it’s pretty normal to shorten/change your last name into something that is manageable for you. Having done some genealogy work, I know that many families have done this.

      FWIW, I think you should go for it. I had a friend who had a lovely American name and changed it to – let’s say- a less popular American name. She legally changed it. She had difficulty getting people to call her by her new name and in the end she did not like the new name any better than the old name. I am saying all this because your situation sounds hugely different and I think it will work out well for you. I think when all is done, you will be glad you put the work into it.

    7. Confession time*

      Thank you everyone, I really appreciate your advice and encouragement. After writing out all the places I’ll have to change it, it really is not THAT much. It is definitely better to do it now rather than wait until I have even more accounts I’ll have to change. A lot of the help/tips websites I’ve found are written by trans folks, and they’ve been tremendously helpful.

  33. It's that time of the year...*

    Okay, so it being tax season in the US, I have a question: If you failed to file state taxes, but did not owe for that year, is it going to be a big problem? This only got brought up because I’m going through a background check that asked about my filing taxes, and for some reason, I do not have any saved forms for 2008. I *probably* filed my taxes, but now I’m suddenly unsure, and I’m worried about getting in trouble if they discover this. It’s been too long! The only thing I’m sure of is that I don’t owe taxes, since every other year I’ve gotten a refund.

    1. BRR*

      I’d call your state department of taxation to be sure.

      Also just because you got a refund doesn’t mean you don’t owe taxes. It could mean you didn’t owe anything such as if you earned a very small amount. If you were working during the year and then they took taxes out of your paychecks and when you file a lot of people get a refund from paying more than what you owe when you count in what is deducted.

      1. It's that time of the year...*

        This was during my days on a grad student stipend, so generally I got state and federal refunds because my university withheld more money than what I owed. So I’m pretty sure I won’t have to deal with the hefty interest rates *if* I forgot to file my state taxes (federal is filed, if my e-mail from H&R block is correct). But I’m wondering what legal consequences there are for me forgetting to file until now. :-\

        Do state departments tell you if you have filed your taxes for a specific year? I looked and the main IRS website and state website both required me to mail in physical forms + payment in order to get past tax forms. But I don’t want the full forms, I just want to know if I filed them!

        1. BRR*

          Oh sorry I read it as I didn’t owe taxes that year and you meant it as you don’t owe any taxes now.

          I really don’t have an answer for you now though. If it’s not expensive and for peace of mind I might ask to get my 2008 return.

    2. C Average*

      Yeah, I’d double-check too. I had a question come up about whether or not I’d filed in state back in 2008 and 2009. I did, but proving it has been a bureaucratic horror show. Seriously, even thinking about it gets me mad. Make sure all your i’s are dotted and all your t’s are crossed. You don’t want your state DOR on your tail. They’re absolutely bloodthirsty.

      1. It's that time of the year...*

        Oh no! How did you end up proving it? I mean, I have my W-2’s still, and an e-mail from H &R Block that said I filed my federal return, but stupid me, I have not done a good job of keeping a paper trail for my state taxes at all.

        1. Graciosa*

          Most of the time, there is a form you can fill out to request copies of past tax returns. Try your state treasury department (or equivalent) web site and see if it’s available on line.

        2. C Average*

          All right, pour yourself a drink because this is going to be long.

          The short answer is, I didn’t. I eventually paid the amount they claimed I owed.

          Here’s the long answer.

          First off, I always file my taxes and always have. Before I got married I did my own taxes, usually e-filing. Generally I either paid a small amount or received a small refund.

          Last fall the state of Oregon sent me a very scary letter claiming I had not filed in 2008, 2009, or 2010. I knew I had, but hadn’t kept records going back that far. Oregon was demanding way more money than I could possibly have owed given my income, as well as hefty penalties and interest.

          I responded telling them yes, actually I had filed, probably with Turbotax. They demanded proof. So I spent half a day–no exaggeration–on the phone with Turbotax trying to regain access to my account. It’d been set up under the email address associated with my maiden name and I’d long since forgotten the password. So I had to talk to lots of different people and assuage their concerns about me being who I said I was.

          I finally got in and found that I’d e-filed in 2009 and 2010, but not 2008, at least not as far as I could ascertain. (Given how poor I was that year, I don’t doubt that I filed on paper to save the e-filing fee. Heck, I’m not sure I even owned a non-work computer that year! I was making $28k gross and barely paying the rent.)

          The state confirmed that I had sent them a check for $131 during the 2008 filing period, and they’d cashed that check, but they claimed they had no record of me actually filing, and they claimed I owed more than the amount I’d paid. They asked me to re-file and to send that form in along with the ream of 2009 and 2010 stuff I was already sending them. So I did. My employer couldn’t even provide a 2008 W-2–they only keep those forms for 5 years–so I had to estimate based on the final pay stub of the year. I actually came up with a different figure: according to my calculation, the state of Oregon owed me $28. I sent in all this stuff and crossed my fingers and waited.

          Then I started getting increasingly scary phone calls from DOR collections. I tried to explain the situation, and was eventually told that it takes up to 9 months to process submissions like the ones I’d been asked to send, and that I should pay the $3000+ they had assessed in the meantime to ensure I was in good standing. They assured me if they found that they were wrong and I was right, I’d get a refund.

          I am an uncommonly patient person, but I hit the roof. I told them to stick their 9-month processing time somewhere NSFW and asked them to please go to their other warehouse or whatever and get the envelope I’d sent and open it and process my documents and stop harassing me.

          Strangely, this actually had the desired effect.

          They immediately dropped all complaints related to 2009 and 2008, but insisted that I was wrong and they were right about 2008. I tried to reason with them: “If I hadn’t filed, WHY WOULD I HAVE SENT YOU A CHECK? And if you didn’t have my paperwork, WHY DID YOU CASH MY CHECK? Do you frequently receive unsolicited charitable donations? When you get a check, don’t you at least, you know, reconcile it with the documents of the person who sent it?” But no go.

          They asked for a second copy of everything I’d sent, which I mailed off. At the advice of my accountant, I paid the amount they continued to claim I owed for 2008, as well as the penalties and interest. It was over $1000. I have heard nothing from them since then and do not expect to.

          In the past, I was always skeptical of people’s complaints about tax collection agencies. They were just doing their jobs. They weren’t being intentionally infuriating or obtuse. I will never make such claims again. The treatment I got from them was beyond infuriating and obtuse. They never apologized for their error concerning 2009 and 2010, and they never responded substantively to any of my questions or pushback about 2008. They just continued to robotically demand stupid amounts of money from me.

          And given all the letters they sent and the calls they made, I’ll bet they spent more money harassing me than they even got!

          Uggggggh. It was SUCH an ordeal.

          1. anonymouse*

            if you ever have an issue like this with IRS, contact your local taxpayer advocate (Google ‘my local taxpayer advocate’) and they will be able to help you deal with the IRS.

            1. danr*

              The problem was with the state taxing agency, not the IRS. States that collect income taxes grab every penny they can and make you fight to get it back.

          2. BRR*

            Ugh. I had a similar experience with the postal service in previously been skeptical of critics but they are now on my sh!t list. I can’t imagine having to do this with taxes though.

            I’m trying to remain calm but my state refund isn’t here yet and I’m worried it will be a fight (I keep telling myself I beat comcast I can beat anybody).

          3. Apollo Warbuks*

            Luckily most people in the UK don’t have to file each year the withholding is worked out pretty accurately and any minor amounts are adjusted from the following years tax. But I’ve seen some proper horror stories from the self employed that do have to file.

            HMRC (The UK equivalent of the IRS) is just as bad its disgusting how they get away with behaving the way they do. I’m pretty laid back but when they started demanding huge amounts of money from my Granny I wasn’t happy she’s a widow who’s been living on the same pension for years they had all the records to calculate the tax she owed correctly but really messed it up and even the amount demanded wast correct. They refused point blank to provide any details of the calculations they had used and kept saying to get an accountant to explain it, the number of letters that needed to be written to get thing sorted out was ridiculous, including one to the local member of Parliament (Senator or Congressman)

            Eventually they dropped the claim, but the amount of stress and worry the situation caused was unacceptable and not once did they apologise or admit the error.

    3. Apollo Warbuks*

      I’m from the UK, so it might not apply to US but normally the penalties for an inadvertent error resulting in a small amount of tax not being paid are at the lower end of the scale, if you’ve got a proven record of filing and adequate records to file the missing return now I’m doubt you’ll be in much trouble.

    4. Dan*

      There’s two things at play, not filing and not paying taxes due. If you didn’t file but would have gotten a refund, then I think you only have to pay the non-filing penalty. Google it and see what it is, I don’t think it’s terrible. It’s not paying your taxes if you would have owed that get you, because there’s both penalty and interest charges.

      1. It's that time of the year...*

        I just googled it:

        “The late filing penalty is 5% of the tax due for each month or portion of a month the return is late. The maximum penalty for late filing is 25%. The Division may also charge a penalty of $100 for each month the return is late. ”

        The interest is awful, but that’s only based on taxes due, and I wouldn’t have any since I’m 100% certain of being owed a refund that year. That $100/month penalty sounds terrifying though, especially for something 7 years ago for what was essentially my second year of working and earning income…

        I’m going to pray to all the deities I know that I filed the report but forgot to save the paperwork.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      It used to be that you had to save 7 years of financial records for taxes. I thought I read recently that it is now five years. I could be wrong. Not sure if this helps- 7 years of records would be 2009 through 2015. Ordinarily mine would be tossed by now.

      If you had them done at Block would they still have those taxes on file?

      If you did your Fed you probably did your state, also. Don’t panic.

      1. It's that time of the year...*

        I only have the confirmation e-mail from H&R Block in my gmail archives. I think what happened for 2008 was that I filed my taxes through H&R but did not create an account. Everything from 2009 onwards is available (for a fee, of course). Just that one pesky year!

        My background check is past 7 years, so this being April 2015, it is right on the cusp of the 7 year mark. They asked specifically for 2008-2013 though. We’ll see how things go. I am a newbie to the workforce, and if I knew so many jobs would have background checks, I’d have done a better job of keeping records, for peace of mind if nothing else! I was freaking out during employment verification too since I had done internships overseas and did not keep my paystubs.

        The next job I take will NOT involve background checks. I have a squeaky clean record and they still manage to make me paranoid!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          I know what you mean. It seems to me that the IRS had seven year to come after you and they have not. That should speak volumes right there. Good luck!

  34. Good_Intentions*

    SO with different schedule

    My new job is forcing me to become an early bird by going to bed at 10:30 p.m. and waking up at 6 a.m. While this is an adjustment for me from going to bed at 12:30 a.m. and waking up at 8 a.m., it’s a huge change for my significant other who easily stays up until nearly 1 a.m. and refuses to awaken any earlier than 9:30 a.m.

    So, in addition to being mindful of quickly turning off the alarm clock and quietly going through my morning rituals (brush teeth, wash face, apply make-up, make breakfast, etc.), I am now concerned about how little time we will be able to spend together.

    Does anyone have any advice, suggestions, or shared experiences about respectfully sharing a living space with someone on an opposite schedule?

    Thanks!

    1. Treena Kravm*

      My husband and I have been on a similar schedule (I’m the early bird and he’s the night owl). We actually love, love it. It gives us the perfect amount of alone time. Our bedroom is pretty removed from the rest of the house so we don’t really have any issues about being quiet. Unfortunately, I don’t use an alarm, so I can’t give you any advice on keeping that quiet. But if he’s so anti-morning he should hopefully be able to go right back to sleep. If you get home at 6, then you have plenty of time to cook dinner, catch up, eat, maybe watch a movie?

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I could have written this, except I’m not married to my night owl. It’s a great arrangement– I get mornings to myself and he gets nights. He does come and tuck me in, though, which we both like. He’ll wake up briefly with my alarm, but the man can go back to sleep anywhere, any time. We spend plenty of time together, though that could also be that I am very much a loner sometimes and really treasure my alone time.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          Yes! Getting tucked in is the best. We usually are watching a movie on the couch when I fall asleep and afterwards, he tucks me in, goes on and does his thing. Then in the morning I finish the movie. We’re also both introverts so yea, that could play a huge role in our loving the set-up.

      2. Anx*

        I’m a night owl. I cannot stand being woken up when I’m trying to fall asleep, but it’s so hard for me to wake up in the morning that I can go right back to sleep after an alarm wakes me up. I probably sleep 4-7am and go back to bed til 10 every day (I have class/work in the afternoons/evenings)

    2. Rin*

      I don’t see my spouse about 3 days a week, so I actually use that time to get my own stuff done: errands, alone time, special time with just child and me. Then, by the time that fourth day rolls around, we can spend time together.

      1. Good_Intentions*

        Everyone, thank you for your positive and helpful responses!

        In reading your insights, I can easily put a positive spin on the new arrangement with the idea that I’ll be more productive in my new schedule and that the SO and I will still treasure our time together, even though there is less of it.

        Again, thanks for sharing your experiences. It really lifted my spirits and makes me believe that the arrangement might be feasible

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Friends of mine put up light blocking curtains. It was such a good investment. They also papered the room with dark wall paper. The husband did shift work sometimes he went in for 7 am, 3pm or 11pm. Darkening the room made it manageable.

  35. Jessica*

    How do you deal with braggy people? Both kids and adults. It’s kind of a situation/people I can’t avoid or ignore, so that’s not really an option (though I wish it were). I really struggle with it because one person in particular brags about things that I couldn’t care less about, but she is still so smug and irritating that she’s just obnoxious. And in regard to kids, I lead a GS troop and would really like to alter their behavior away from this excessive me-me-me “look at how great I am” attitude that most have. I was at my wit’s end last meeting and would like to not be again.

    1. Graciosa*

      For the kids, have them spend time identifying good things / accomplishments / reasons to be grateful about other people instead of themselves. Reward this behavior if you have to, but find a way to turn it into a habit.

      1. Jessica*

        Ah, that’s a great idea! That’s such a simple fix to just change their frame of reference and look outside themselves.

      2. nep*

        This is a great idea. I know people who — while they’re fabulous human beings and certainly have bragging rights — talk about nothing but themselves and really never listen, as if no one else’s situation merits any attention. It’s an odd trait and I don’t get why people don’t see (or care) how that comes across. Then again, I used to be more like that. One of the best things I ever did was start to listen more and talk less.

        1. fposte*

          I think it’s circular–if you’re like that, you’re not likely to think much about how other people receive it. If you’re the kind of person who thinks about how other people receive it, you’re not like that.

    2. Elkay*

      Is there a Girl Scouts badge you could do to tackle that behaviour? I deal with 14+ Senior Section so we don’t follow a programme but I’m sure that Guides have some programmes on social/personal development stuff.

    3. Clever Name*

      From my experience, adults who brag all the time tend to feel insecure about themselves. I have no tips on how to deal. I tend to deal with people I don’t particularly like by avoiding them…

    4. Sunflower*

      Adults- My roommate does this. It’s so annoying. It makes me cringe because things that come out of her mouth I could never imagine myself saying, I usually just respond with ‘Oh’, ‘Ok’, or ‘That’s nice’. Once she can see that I’m not at all interested, she usually stops talking about it. I also just remind myself that it’s purely her own insecurity that is doing this and how lucky I am to not feel this way about myself.

      Kids- I liked what Graciosa said.

  36. Tara*

    I got into the University of British Columbia!! Chancellor’s scholar designation! Thank god, because I didn’t apply anywhere else! I’m excited, but I’m also freaking out a bit. It’s so weird to think about living away from home!

    1. C Average*

      Congratulations! My sister went to grad school there and I visited her a few times. Great school, beautiful city.

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Congratulations! It’s a great school, and I thought really seriously about going there when I got accepted to undergrad there. Ultimately I didn’t want to be THAT far from home either, so I totally understand! You’ll love it–gorgeous city, beautiful campus, etc.

      Good luck for the fall!

      1. Tara*

        Thanks! It’s really not so far from home– an hour and a half ferry ride plus some bussing. And I have family all around Vancouver.

    3. danr*

      Congratulations. Living away from home is great as long as you leave time for studying and making new friends.

    4. Otter box*

      Congratulations! I went to grad school there and loved it. I really miss Vancouver. You will have a great time!

    5. Vancouver Reader*

      That’s wonderful! Enjoy your time away from home, and make some wonderful memories there. It’s a beautiful campus (despite all the changes that have taken place from when I went there).

  37. Awful Waffle*

    At the advice of my nutritionist, I decided to adopt a gluten-free, dairy – free diet for health reasons (under active thyroid). Any advice for sticking with it?

    1. nep*

      For some people, any struggle to stick with such changes lasts for only a short time; the sense of well-being and other benefits triggered by the changes can be enough to deter you from returning to old habits.
      Initially — first off, know that you can do it.
      Identify a good number of ‘permissible’ foods that you really enjoy — these can be your go-tos.
      Are there any foods you’re thinking will really pose a problem — foods you crave but that won’t fit into this new lifestyle? Thinking ahead about that and pre-empting a setback can help.
      All the best to you. Great that you’re taking these steps to get healthier.

    2. Amethyst*

      For me, it helped to make my own cookbook, and make lists to keep to when I went to the store (I was worried about being ‘tempted’). Switching to a restrictive diet can be a big pain if the things you’re cutting out were staples of your diet because it means you have to look at a huge chunk of your life in a different way. Having quick references made forming new habits easier for me.

      I would also recommend making a list of things you can eat at restaurants around your area. Even when you get things under control in your own kitchen, it can be depressing/overwhelming to go out to a restaurant with friends, look at a menu, and have no idea what you can eat.

    3. littlemoose*

      I’m not dairy-free, but I am gluten-free (celiac). Chex cereals (other than wheat, of course) are tasty and inexpensive. Kind bars (fruit and nuts) are good tasty snacks. I like bionaturae GF pasta, Udi’s GF sandwich bread (frozen), and Udi’s GF bagels (toasted with jelly, delicious). WOW cookies are amazing. You’ll have to double-check me on whether the latter items are dairy-free, but those are the ones I like for eating “normally.” Rice, beans, corn, and potatoes are GF. Also, I have found that the best GF stuff tends to be made out of a mix of flours (rice, tapioca, potato, etc). And of course remember that soups, dressings, marinades, sauces, etc. can contain gluten.

      As for sticking with it – plan ahead. It’s lame and it sucks, but it’s necessary. If you have a smartphone, there are a couple apps I recommend – Is That Gluten-Free? for grocery shopping (lists brands, ingredients, etc.) and Find Me Gluten-Free for restaurants (thanks to a recommendation from an AAM commenter here). Urbanspoon also lets you search for GF friendly restaurants under “Features.” The Internet and smartphones make it so much easier to deal with food restrictions. Also if you’re not sure about an item, sometimes just Googling it and “gluten free” will yield useful results.

      And if you’re really serious about being GF, you’ll have to check your medications and beauty products (at least lip products) as well. A few medications use gluten-containing fillers in pills, although most do not (the info is available online). Lip products may contain unsafe ingredients as well (e.g., I had to pitch my favorite lip balm because it contained wheat germ). But that’s only if you’re really gluten-intolerant or have celiac, and it doesn’t sound like that’s the case.

      Good luck! Whatever is going on, I hope you feel better soon!

    4. CLT*

      I am in the process of trying to reduce inflammation through diet, and here are a couple of things I have learned so far:

      — Don’t try to eliminate too much at all once. I am starting with sugar. When I have managed that for a few months, I will move on to the next thing. So you might try to eliminate gluten for a couple of months and then add dairy, rather than restricting so much all at once.

      — Find your new treats. Instead of thinking about the things you can’t have, find things you like that you can eat as much as you like so that you can look forward to them. I am keeping a variety of nuts on hand, for example, and I have discovered coconut chips (shavings of coconut).

      — Be aware that people will try to sabotage you. Sometimes when you are eating well, it makes others feel bad about their own diets.

      — Don’t talk about your diet too much. People will roll their eyes behind your back. I have seen this at work with people who are too diet-focused.

    5. Seitan (still needs to think of a better name)*

      I have plentiful allergies & intolerances and have been eating vegetarian for a long time. Blogging and reading other blogs worked for me. I was able to find inspiration when I felt tapped out, and it really brought out my creative side. I think using the internet to connect with people who have been through what you are going through is incredibly helpful. You are not the only one, and it helps to be reminded of that sometimes.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      I didn’t go gluten free – but I made other major dietary changes.
      It’s a learning curve and that curve is a total pain in the butt. Once you get through the heavy, things get easier. You will find that you will always be learning new things to do/try.
      Annnnd, once you start seeing results it gets even easier. Your motivation will pick up speed.
      You will find that most of the foods you eat are on the perimeter walls of the grocery store. You will eat a lot less foods from the aisles.

    7. StillHealing*

      Some of it will depend on how you feel. If you are getting relief from symptoms you are experiencing, it will make it much, much easier to stick to it. Give it a honest 90 days and see how you feel. Use a Symptoms Tracker on your phone or log it. See what changes you experience, if any. If you don’t really feel any different, introduce one of the foods at a time after 90 days. You will know within minutes or up to 24 hours, if the food is causing you issues.

      My primary doctor took me off gluten four years ago when I was so ill, I was bedridden and they discovered I had Hashimotos Thyroiditis. My gallbladder was spastic and my digestive system was shutting down. They almost removed my gallbladder. Within two weeks, I didn’t need to spend all day in bed. It’s still took three years to reverse the autoimmune antibodies. (They were very high) I remain largely gluten free because I feel horrible if I even accidentally get gluten contamination. Sometimes, I’m ok with removing croutons if the waitress forgets I said ” no croutons ” and I’ll eat the salad even though croutons or garlic bread sat on top of it. Usually, I’m fine and don’t have any reaction. If I get a lot of gluten, I may not know until four to twelve hours later and pain, bloating and gallbladder (right flank) pain sets in. It can be mild or excruciating to where I think I’m going to need to head to the ER. So for me anyway, it’s very easy to eat gluten free. It’s like once you get in the habit of brushing, flossing and rinsing, you feel how much healthier your gums and teeth feel vs if all you did was brush. Once you get used to that healthy feeling you feel gross if you run out of floss or mouthwash and run to the store to pick some up!
      .

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Nutritionist–hmm. You’re not trying to treat hypothyroidism “naturally” or “nutritionally,” are you? You’re getting medical treatment for it, I hope.

      Sorry, but my Quack-O-Meter went off when I read that. I’ve seen too many people claim you can change your diet and cure health problems that require medical intervention.

      1. Awful Waffle*

        I have to admit that I was a little skeptical about going to a nutritionist as well. I’ve been treated by an endocrinologist since being diagnosed but have struggled to lose any weight. Since changing my diet, I’ve realized how poorly I was eating. The entire experience has been very eye-opening for me. I’m scheduled to see my endocrinologist in a few months and plan to discuss with him as well.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Ah, that makes sense. But this is not a condition that can be treated through diet alone. That’s what made me feel hinky about it. If the gland isn’t functioning, the hormone has to be replaced. Eating better is a good thing, though!

      2. fposte*

        And, as a general PSA, in the US there’s no legal control for the term “nutritionist”–they don’t have to have any schooling or meet any standards, so we could all star to practice as nutritionists tomorrow if we wanted to. Dietitian, on the other hand, is a legally recognized term and being one requires study and registration.

        That doesn’t mean the former are devils and the latter angels–I’m sure many AAM readers remember the crazy dietitian who had to be hauled out of the workplace–but people should make sure they’re going to the one they mean to go to.

    9. Sunflower*

      I have been seeing a TON of recipes that sub cauliflower in for carbs. Like cauliflower pizza crust. I’d also agree with maybe easing into it and not eliminating everything all at once.

  38. Trixie*

    In addition to investing in shoes and/or good inserts, I’d also look at a $10 foam roller. Dr Jordan Metzl recently did a piece on running for the TOday show including arm swing, gait, and foam rolling.

  39. azvlr*

    For those of you who gave me advice a few weeks ago about whether I should allow my son to go on the cruise, here’s an update: I did allow him to go, and we had a great time. My mom’s brother has passed away the week before, and my step-dad was not well enough to go, but my mom came anyway and seemed to have a really good time in spite of it.
    My son had the time of his life eating dim sum in San Francisco Chinatown and seems to have a renewed outlook on life. I am still nervous that he won’t graduate, but he seems to have a bit more direction and initiative. We have some great family memories, too! I’m so glad I took your advice to let him go. Thanks!

    1. Clever Name*

      I’m glad you let him go. I think that kids generally actually want to do well and to please their parents (given an otherwise typical family life with no abuse etc), so when a kid has severe problems, it’s generally not just a lack of caring or willpower. I’m coming from the perspective of a parent of a child who has had problems behaving in school and has just been diagnosed with ADHD and there is probably other stuff going on that we are slowly unwrapping through therapy.

      1. azvlr*

        I agree that he wants to do well and also not disappoint me. He’s generally a good kid. He went every night to the 18 – 20 meet and greet (surprised me there!). He told me that on formal night, he went to change, but couldn’t find his shoes (he had dressed for dinner in Grandma’s cabin) so he was trying to dance (?!) in flip flops. He had friends come visit in our cabin. He was really a different kid on board and that seems to have carried over to home!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s great. I think at that age, you’re still so figuring out who you are that a simple change of surroundings or people can make you discover a whole new side of yourself / new possible self-image / new ways to look at the world.

    2. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      That is awesome! please do keep your eyes peeled for signs of depression Or anxiety…being a teenager is tough. That said, most kids have a rough patch or two, and most come through it just fine.

  40. chose to go anon*

    I thought the post from “jag” in the Most Surprising Things thread from yesterday and subsequent responses was quite interesting. I too am surprised by how many people who are successful deal with mental health issues. Actually I am not. I am surprised by how many people admit them and then I realized that here at AAM we are still somewhat anonymous and it is easy to discuss a mental health problem holding you back here than doing so with friends, family, or your manager during a performance evaluation. I have a very close friend who has had severe mental health issues (treated and made significant progress) and a boyfriend who is quite successful in his career and is on an anxiety and a depression med. I realized it took quite a bit of maturity on my end to not even bat an eye or turn my face when he told me – years back it would have been a red flag! So anyway, I say all this to say, if anyone is dealing with mental health issues of any kind – who in your life knows and has it changed your relationship?

    1. BRR*

      When I told a colleague/friend about it it was nice because she became my support system at work and is watching over me.

      For what it’s worth I specifically haven’t told my parents about this round of treatment (I saw a psychiatrist & therapist from 2006-2008) because last time they weren’t very helpful. They were actually very not helpful (which is ironic because they could probably both use some therapy). I made the call it’s easier for me if they don’t know.

    2. anonymouse*

      I told my dad because I was on his insurance when I started going to therapy (for anxiety). I basically told him he’d be seeing it in the records but it wasn’t a topic of discussion. I haven’t told my mom or any extended family. My sister might know. All my friends know. It hasn’t changed any relationships other than in how I interact with people (because of what I’ve learned in therapy).

      Interestingly, both my parents have had clinical depression (medicated) but I still haven’t talked about it (my treatment) with them.

    3. Anonymous for PTSD*

      I’m fairly open about it with friends outside of work. I almost always find that people have had some sort of experience with mental illness themselves. I’ve been told that it’s good to have someone to talk about it with.

    4. Dan*

      I can only speak for my ex-wife on this one, not myself.

      Please keep in mind that I’m not talking about mere disclosure, I’m talking about the impacts of untreated/improperly treated/improperly diagnosed mental illness.

      In short:

      1) It cost her her job, and:
      2) It cost her her marriage.

      Outcomes could have been different, but she refused to allow me to be a part of her treatment plan (wouldn’t sign consent forms allowing me to talk to her therapists) and well, let’s just say that I wasn’t going to sit around and be the doormat.

    5. INTP*

      My parents know, but I couldn’t really hide it from them – they were there when I was a teenager and very deep in depression, and significant others know once it gets serious. Some of my classmates and professors know about my ADHD, but I only ever even mentioned that after I’d had some time in my program to prove myself.

      In some ways it might be helpful to talk about it openly – I think I get judged for the lifestyle measures I take to manage my conditions anyways. (I go to bed early because I have to get 9 hours of sleep or I’ll be an unfocused mess and be super anal about my bedtime or else my insomnia will come back. This means if I’m invited out for something at 8pm I decline. I don’t get drunk in social settings. Things that shouldn’t be a big deal but they do get me labeled as uptight because I’m in my 20s.) And with work, I just can’t work jobs with crazy hours because I have these things I need to do for my mental health that take time, like sleeping 9 hours and getting exercise and decompression time. (Not to mention that housework type stuff seems to take me more time and effort than most so I really need a full weekend day to catch up on it.) But so many employers tend to bait and switch about the hours and assume that if you have a good work ethic you should be able to just roll with it. Part of the reason I’m pursuing self-employment.

      But people have preconceived notions about things that I don’t think would be helpful for me in a professional setting. I have inattentive type ADHD and I actually do better if I am alone and focused on one single task all day. I am totally capable of detail oriented work if I have the right conditions to do it in (no distractions). It’s totally possible that a boss that thinks she’s being supportive could consciously or subconsciously try to guide me towards work that’s more suited to stereotypical presentations of ADHD (variety of tasks, lots of moving around) but I am horrible at that kind of work. When I was a TA, I didn’t really care about getting promoted because I couldn’t, but if I had announced that I was struggling because of ADHD I would have just invited additional scrutiny into my teaching. That kind of stuff is why I don’t disclose unless it’s necessary.

      And with depression, as the plane crash event has really highlighted, many people don’t have a clear concept of the difference between a major depressive episode and being a person who is prone to depression and therefore being treated for it (with antidepressants and psych visits) but more or less functional. And that is a big difference. I take medication and do certain lifestyle practices to avoid one of those episodes but I generally am as functional as the next person day-to-day. I just have to work harder to stay that way. So I disclose this much less frequently than the ADHD, generally only to people I already know are knowledgeable about it.

      1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

        I have a chronic (physical) illness, and I have similarly rigid things I do to keep myself feeling good. It’s amazing how one lost night’s sleep makes a difference for days or weeks. I also take a full hour, or more, and go home for lunch everyday. I get so much more done, and it means I’m not in pain all afternoon having trouble focusing.

        Being in your 20s is a very social time where there are tons of people involved in your personal life in one way or another…many of them for brief periods. I doubt many people (except my husband) are even aware of my patterns and strategies. for whatever reason, it has been really hard for me to admit to myself that I HAVE to do these things….sometimes I feel very controlled. At the same time, I’d rather be controlled by patterns and schedules than by constant pain and fatigue.

    6. C Average*

      I married a man whose first marriage was destroyed by mental illness. His first wife has battled anxiety and depression all her life, and it intensified after their two daughters were born. My husband, who is more of a stick-it-out-to-the-bitter-end person than anyone I’ve ever met, tried to save the marriage, but she insisted that she couldn’t get healthy while trying to be a mother and wife. They split, he took the kids pretty much full-time, and she spent some time hospitalized and then remained in fairly intensive treatment for quite a while. She will probably be on medication for the rest of her life.

      My husband is hyper-vigilant about the kids’ mental health to a degree that sometimes actually worries me. He’s really concerned that they’ll inherit their mother’s anxiety and depression. I hope they won’t, but I too sometimes am concerned about them.

      I had never thought about anxiety before I got into this relationship. I’m not an anxious person by nature, but there are a handful of situations that turn me into one! I hadn’t ever had a name for how I felt in those situations. For me, anxiety crops up when I’m driving somewhere unfamiliar; when I’m around someone sick (I am SO VERY emetophobic); and when I’m trapped in a scenario where I have to sit still and take in information (classes and meetings give me an almost irresistible urge to get up and flee). I practice strategic avoidance of these situations whenever possible, and when I do have to deal with them, I pop some Rescue Remedy and do a lot of self-talk and basically try to feel as in control of the situation as I can.

      Knowing that the girls’ mom feels like this much of the time–it’s her normal–has helped me have compassion for her and to really work to co-parent effectively despite some limitations on her part. On the whole, I think she does a remarkable job of managing her mental health and being a good parent.

        1. C Average*

          Which amazes me. I cannot fathom NOT being traumatized by that. I haven’t had it happen to me since I was a teenager–not sure if it’s force of will, fastidious food safety practices, strategic avoidance of people who seem like they might be vectors of disease, or just plain old luck. Whenever someone casually mentions that they’ve been sick recently, I always try to suss out what kind of sick so I know how far away to stand and for how long. While it’s not disabling, it absolutely shapes a lot of my behaviors.

          1. CrazyCatLady*

            Same here on all counts! (Knock on wood). My husband just had some stomach bug and I was bleaching the whole house, wearing latex gloves and making him sleep in the guest room. Was the most horrifying few days of my life. It used to interfere with my daily life more than it does now, but it’s still something I’m always consciously aware of avoiding. I’d rather be nauseous for weeks than throw up!

    7. Mints*

      I’ve told maybe three friends, and my boyfriend. For the three friends, it came up in conversation, and we haven’t talked about it much (at all?) afterwards. It helps with the boyfriend relationship I think for obvious reasons, since our relationship is more emotional. Oh, I’m talking about Aspergers, which I found out about pretty recently. I think friends honestly didn’t care that much because it either explained things they already noticed, or they just thought I was a nerd already and didn’t see it as a symptom (which I say cheekily out of affection)

      1. Mints*

        I guess the other part is, why haven’t I told that many people? For one, it’s not as recognizable the way anxiety and depression are. I think those are easier to understand, and for better or for worse, most people have felt anxiety and depression in a general way, even if not in the clinical sense.
        Also, I benefit from the fake it til you make it method in most situations. I’d rather pretend I’m not feeling awkward, and I’d rather not have anyone notice if I’m doing a terrible job in social situations.

      2. C Average*

        Had you always kind of wondered if you were on the spectrum, or did something happen to make you decide to investigate?

        1. Mints*

          I started going to therapy for other reasons, and the doctor brought it up. I was pretty surprised. I thought the “can’t read emotions” part was a deal breaker (I’m not bad at that). But a lot of the behaviors I did as a kid were really atypical, and imagining 8 year old Mints, without my adult self, made me realize it was likely.

    8. StillHealing*

      All my friends know I ended up voluntarily in a Psychiatric Hospital for Severe (and Complex) PTSD and Major Depression. Most were shocked even those who knew I have PTSD. I’ve been No Contact with my Family Of Origin (FOO) because that is where all the early trauma came from that caused the c-PTSD. I have no idea if they know anything. They are very much into blaming the victim and kicking me when I am down so they are no longer any part of my life.

      My current newish Supervisor knows I was off work for three years due to the PTSD and assorted other medical issues. My newish closest co-workers know and I suspect they may have shared the information with others in the office. But not in a gossip sort of way. All of my current co-workers are professionals and being in a medical department, there is just no gossiping happening. No creeps, stalkers or bullies either! I got really lucky this time around and in a secure building to boot!
      very lucky this time around!

    9. Anon87*

      I was diagnosed with depression at 16 years of age.

      My mother didn’t really understand and continually told me that I was choosing to be lazy and choosing to fail or drop out of my classes. It pretty much destroyed our relationship.

      I am very closemouthed about it since so many people out there simply don’t get it. I do have a very close friend and mentor that was previously one of my managers at work- he has talked me through a lot of things and is there when I need him. He first found out at work when I had to explain why, after a year of always being on time, I suddenly started being 2 to 3 hours late because I had slept through my alarm. It really strengthened and deepened our relationship.

      I dropped a friend who told me that my issues are ‘just hormones, we all get those around period time!’

      And yes, many people are successful despite mental health issues. For some people, depression goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism and competitive drive. I was promoted to management during my most severe depressive episode.

    10. Sunflower*

      I was in therapy twice- I did a round in college and another I started about a year ago(but I ended once I got kicked off my parents insurance). In college, I think four of my close friends knew. The second time around I think I told the same friends plus one. I decided to go because i had a bad moment due to my anxiety and I realized it was impacting my life too much. A friend had confided in me that she was going to start seeing a therapist and I decided to tell her about my experience. I never told my parents. I have no clue if it came up on my insurance. I had a feeling if I told my mom, she would kind of blame herself and she wouldn’t be able to process it on her own (aka she’d end up having to talk to her friends about it and that was not at all what I wanted).

      It never changed our relationship. If anything, it made us closer I guess. I have never been good at expressing my feelings and while I love most of my friends, I never really had friends I could confide in about stuff like this. When I went through the break-up, I was such a wreck with anxiety/depression it was impossible to hide what I was going through. The friends I confided in I had never confided in before and they were so amazingly supportive. I also found out that the things I was dealing with were way more common than I thought. there are still people I consider great friends who I wouldn’t confide in. Unfortunately some people don’t understand that many people who suffer from depression are very functional and depressed does not equal suicidal. For the most part though, people are much more receptive and supportive than you’d think.

  41. cupcakesabound*

    Any brand/style recommendations for women’s shorts, denim or otherwise?

    I’m short (5’3″) and have very muscular legs. I’m in my early 30s, so I’m looking for something age-appropriate but not “mom” jeanish.

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I like Old Navy for shorts. Many of their styles come in a variety of lengths so you can pick one that fits your height and coverage needs.

    2. soitgoes*

      ASOS is a really good brand for women who are looking for a slightly aged-up version of F21/H&M stuff. I just looked through their Shorts section and there’s a lot of good stuff on there, especially since it’s festival season – lots of longer styles.

    3. C Average*

      This may sound a little weird, but check out Prana. I know they’re mostly known for yoga gear, but they make sporty lifestyle clothes as well. They tend to fit athletic builds really well.

      Arc’Teryx is a similar brand. Crazy expensive, but incredibly well-made.

      Both brands occasionally offer jeans, and they may offer shorts, too.

      (I am also 5’3 with soccer-player legs, so I can relate to the difficulty of finding the right kind of shorts.)

    4. Trixie*

      When you do find the fit you like, find a good tailer to hem the length and waist if needed.

    5. Clever Name*

      I would go with Bermuda-style knee-length shorts. I’ve actually had decent luck with Target. Ann Taylor loft has some too. To avoid looking too mom-ish (and I am a mom) I try to wear shoes and accessories that aren’t too dated. Think strappy thongs versus, I don’t know….penny loafers.

    6. manomanon*

      They’re on the pricy side but Vineyard Vines and Lilly Pulitzer both make shorts that work for that build. Both brands carry a variety of cuts and styles as well. I stopped wearing pants/shorts a few years ago because I just don’t like them but my sister says their quality hasn’t changed. If you like the look of Lilly ones keep an eye out for the Lilly for Target collaboration on 4/19.

  42. can't use my real name*

    Probably a little too much for this forum, but I can’t really talk to people I know in real life. I’m currently in the middle of a miscarriage, and I’m so bereft. I’ve been out of work the past few days, and I don’t know how to go back to a meaningless job next week. My boss knows and has been telling people that I’ve had a bug, but I just don’t have the energy to smile and lie. May I just say this is the cruelest way to lose someone, drawn out over a week?

    1. Steve G*

      Not too much for this forum. A lot of good people come here to discuss and give comfort to those with problems that people can’t discuss with those around them, either because they are things you traditionally keep secret, or because your close circles don’t want to hear about them, or can’t help.

      Either way, if you want to “vent” and/or ask how to deal with work, go ahead……..

    2. fposte*

      I am so sorry–that really is horrible.

      You’ve mentioned that your boss has been informed–would you be willing to appoint her or somebody else you trust to communicate for you? It’s often easier for somebody else to say things on your behalf, and it would help direct people in ways that they as well as you might find useful.

    3. Sophia in the DMV*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I had a missed miscarriage and it was so emotionally painful. Don’t have much advice but want to empathize. It took a while for me and my husband to emotionally recover – at least as long as how far along I was…*hugs*

    4. StillHealing*

      Oh, I’m so sorry. Yes, that sounds like an incredibly painful process. Sending you gentle internet hugs.

    5. I've Been There*

      I am so, so sorry. I’ve been through it, and I completely understand the horrible drag of those days crawling by. Give yourself the time you need. I found that by the end, I was ready to go back to work just for the pure distraction of it, but I struggled to feel normal for a long time after that. I finally found that I needed to talk about it, not necessarily at work, but that so many women don’t discuss it, ever, because they feel it will be viewed as something they should just get over. You’re grieving, and that process takes time. My family was a great support, but for me, I finally opened up to a group of women I trusted and I found both empathy and ny surprise at how many of them had been through the same thing. It helped tremendously. Hugs and prayers for you.

    6. Samantha*

      I’m so, so sorry. I’ve been there – multiple times, unfortunately. I know how it feels to feel like you can’t talk to anyone in your life about it. Thankfully, I’ve been able to connect with other women who’ve experienced pregnancy loss and it’s really helped me a lot. I’ll never be the same as I was before my losses, but the pain does become less intense and all-consuming over time. Prayers for you as you go through this.

    7. Today's anon*

      I am so sorry you are going through this. Be extra kind to yourself. Sending you hugs.

    8. Clever Name*

      I’m so sorry. *hugs* I haven’t personally gone through it, but family members and close friends have. Whatever you are feeling is okay, and everyone processes grief differently. Pregnancy and infant loss is almost taboo to talk about, which is a real shame because it is sadly quite common. It’s okay to not want to talk about, but it’s okay if you need to talk about it there are a ton of online support groups. Hang in there and try to take care of yourself. If you do decide to tellfriendsand family, they’ll react in their own ways too, and try not to take it personally. I can totally understand not telling anyone or telling very few for this reason.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I am very sorry for your loss.
      Do you have people helping you? If no, please connect with two well chosen people. Don’t make yourself be alone all the time. Look for people that know how to speak gently.

    10. can't use my real name*

      Thanks, everyone. People have been taking care of me, and it’s been getting better. netflix is still my best friend, and I’ve been getting a lot of rest. We’ll just have to see how it goes.

  43. littlemoose*

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. I think it’s totally fine to tell coworkers who ask “I’m slowly recovering, thanks for your concern” and then change the subject. Maybe using non-verbal cues like wearing headphones or closing your door if you have one will help give you some space at work.

    Wishing you all the best.

  44. PD*

    This is kind of random but I’ll throw it out there just in case- Any recommendations for place to go/things to do/places to eat in Austin, Texas?

      1. PD*

        I’m pretty open to lots of things, but I enjoy a wide variety of music, reading, walking around outside, Mexican food, Italian food….

        1. TL -*

          Go walking around lady bird lake – time it around dusk to see the bats- go to BookPeople (check their website; they’re always having authors coming through), go to Zilker park and take a dip in Barton springs, catch a band at Stubbs, eat at Amy’s ice cream and Vert’s kabobs. Chuy’s is okay for Mexican food but good Italian is hard to find in Texas. Walk down south Congress and on Guadalupe street by UT to find food trucks and yummy local places as well as local shops. Franklin’s is good for bbq as well.

          Austin is a ton of fun and you can’t go wrong with whatever you pick!

        2. Lindsay J*

          For Mexican food I had breakfast at a place called Juan-in-a-Million. It’s a hole in the wall type place, but I prefer those over chains. It was very good, authentic Mexican.

          I hear great things about Franklins, but I also hear that it’s always very busy.

          I did brunch one day at Opal Divine’s Marina. They had a decent drink menu and the food was pretty good as well. They have a website you can check the menu on I believe.

          I stopped in a coffee shop by the courthouse called Lavazza Espression. I had a Affagado al cafe over hazelnut gelato. Boyfriend had something that involved Nutella. Both were very good.

    1. Clever Name*

      There is a bridge south of downtown where there is an enormous bat colony, and millions of bats fly from their roosts during spring and summer. It’s one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. It’s one of the most walkable and transit friendly cities in Texas. The 6th street area is fun, and has an amazing live music scene. If you want to take day excursions, there are wineries and breweries and antique shops in the hill country nearby. The ladybird Johnson wildflower center isn’t too far either. I lived in tx for 7years, and Austin is my favorite city there.

    2. We only want a quiet place to finish working while God eats our brains*

      I live in Austin. Rudy’s is my choice for BBQ (but everyone has their favorite). County Line used to be pretty good, but I haven’t been there in years. Many people love The Salt Lick, but it leaves me cold.

      Chuy’s for texmex is still pretty good, although it’s lost a lot of its idiosyncratic nature. If you’re looking for good, authentic texmex, you’ll want to check out some of the many fine, family-owned restaurants on East 5th, 6th, and 7th streets. Google is you pal here. Switched On Austin is down that way, too, lots of “vintage”, plus I think they still have a genuine ’60s Moog modular System 55 on display.

      If you like hot wings, Pluckers is worth checking out. Their “fire in the hole” tends to be variable in heat, but when it’s good, it’s very, very hot. The “spicy BBQ” isn’t overly hot, but it tastes really good. Also: get the fried pickles.

      There’s getting to be significant food truck action along South Congress Ave – you’ll need to do a little research to find out what’s where.

      For finer dining, The Roaring Fork is supposed to be very good.

      In May, there’s supposed to be a weekend music festival called something like the Austin Psychic Picnic – many alt/psychedelic music acts like The Soft Moon and Jesus and Mary Chain and lots of others. (Soft Moon’s “Black” was what they played during the murder scene in the season finale of _How to Get Away With Murder_).

      There’s a new F1 track somewhere out by the airport, but for a better time that costs less, take your (hopefully fast) car out to SH-130 and drive legally at speeds of up to 85mph on a brand-new, butter-smooth and almost totally deserted highway.

  45. Anx*

    Tax question:

    For 2013, my live in boyfriend and I filed our taxes separately. I was completely dependent on him. In 2014, I actually got a job (3, the third one stuck) but I still make less then $3K and he made $25K.

    I planned on filing separately again, and signed up for ACA health insurance credits with just my own income. In March (when I signed up) I got a job and thought I could make 12K. But I obviously ended up making way less and so am too poor to qualify. I’d be rich enough for the credits if I went based on household income. And we are a household according to healthcare.gov.

    Anyway, I’m starting to consider filing together this year. The reason we didn’t before is that it’s illegal to live together in our state. Of course that’s not enforceable. The IRS says to the qualify as a qualifying relative for dependents, your relationship cannot violate local law. This law was ruled unconstitutional in 2006.

    If we file together, do you think we’ll be drawing attention to ourselves and risk getting in trouble with the state? Do you think this is tax fraud?

    How could I handle the fact that I ended up getting tax credits I ended up not qualifying for because my income was way too low and if this goes through I ended up getting too much because my income was now 29K? I might have to pay back this years but I feel like I could have the option to get credits in the coming years.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Do you live in a state with common law marriage and present yourselves as married? If so, the IRS considers you married for tax purposes. However, if you don’t live in a state with common law marriage and/or you live together without intent to be married, filing as married would be fraudulent. More here:

      http://finance.zacks.com/can-unmarried-couple-file-jointly-income-tax-3654.html

      http://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch02.html#en_US_2014_publink1000170745

      1. Anx*

        Quite the opposite. I live in NC. We are unmarried. We live together. It’s illegal but also constitutionally protected that we can live together. It’s typically only enforced for probation purposes.

        Many of our unmarried friends also live together. But it just whacks us with social services and taxes because we both have modest incomes, but he makes so much more than I do. It’s tough because at one point we considered snap, but I felt dishonest saying I had one income when it wasn’t true. But we can’t legally have two incomes because technically we can’t be doing what we are doing.

        The most frustrating part is our state also didn’t expand Medicaid for ACA. So we are paying taxes (he does) but only get benefits by sort-lying-by-force. And by having less deductions we have less money to keep in state (more goes to the feds). I don’t know what their rationale for these outdated laws is.

        1. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

          I don’t know the details, but I am pretty sure that you will not have to pay back the full amount of the tax credits you got. There is some provision for that right now. Call 211…they will know.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’m very confused by something– where do you live that it’s illegal to live together? I know of no state where it’s actually illegal to share a home. I know of plenty (mine included) where sharing a home means absolutely nothing beyond sharing an address and maybe a lease, and we don’t have a legal RELATIONSHIP (I have no implicit rights to anything of his and vice versa), but our living situation isn’t breaking any laws.

      As I understand it, you cannot file together if you’re not married, and he cannot list you as a dependent unless you have a legal relationship (parent-child, guardian, etc.). I am the primary earner in our household, but I can’t put my boyfriend on my taxes.

      Wouldn’t it be a lot less complicated to just file separately? We do– we have to, after all– and he gets a massive refund (he’s a student) while I owe the state a shit-ton of money (my old job didn’t know how to deduct NY City Tax. If we filed together, I don’t think my bf would get the money he’s entitled to.

      1. BRR*

        I believe Virginia still has a law that unmarried couples cannot live together (a quick google search makes this appear correct).

        You should consider more than ACA when you make your decision. Also if you file this way as federal you might not be able to file this way in your state returns if it’s illegal but you’ll have to check. I think the best advice is don’t try and go with “it should work.” You can’t mess around with taxes.

        1. fposte*

          Also, Mississippi, Michigan, and Florida, apparently.

          Unsurprisingly, none of those states recognize common-law marriage. (I mean, it would be weird on one hand to say it’s illegal to live together but on the other to say if you do it long enough and shift a few details around we’ll call it marriage.)

          1. AvonLady Barksdale*

            Well, I definitely believe one learns something new every day, and today is no exception. :) I maintain it’s easier to file separately, though– fewer loopholes to figure out for what will probably end up being negligible benefit.

            1. fposte*

              I learned it too! And Michigan used the law as recently as 2005 to affect a divorced dad’s visitation, so they’re not necessarily stupid stuff on the books that everybody ignores.

              1. BRR*

                I learned Virginia from the Daily Show. When I was job hunting I did pretty well with an interview in Virginia. I was worried about living with my then boyfriend but figured if the state didn’t recognize gay marriage at that time they couldn’t recognize a gay relationship either.

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Yes, Virginia! It’s not enforced, of course, except in a handful of weird situations where the law is already involved for other reasons. My friend was on probation (for civil disobedience in a protest, not for like bank robbery or anything), and her probation officer noticed she lived with her boyfriend and told her she couldn’t! It’s fairly outrageous that it’s still on the books. But then sodomy was also illegal in Virginia until a few years ago too.

      2. Anx*

        We both come from northern states, so we never considered the complications of living together in a southern state. Or relationship is apparently ‘lascivious.’

        [At the risk of overexposure: I’ve had some health issues that affected our sex life pretty drastically; we didn’t have sex much more often than couples in relationships that may be legally ‘sexless.’ I figure that the courts or state or feds don’t really want to know about that, but I have been tempted to go ahead and if an issue comes up describe our sex life in incredibly uncomfortable detail. Because I kind of think it’s ridiculous to penalize two young unmarried people doing their best to support each other before turning to the government for help while trying to start their careers.]

        I pretty much don’t have an income, so my personal deduction is wasted on me.

        We’ll probably end up filing separately, but it sucks knowing how much extra in taxes we are paying because of our limbo status.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Well, the government set up the married tax status for people who are indeed married, because they want to promote marriage for various reasons. It’s not actually intended for people living together but not married … so crappy as it is, this is pretty much how it was set up to work. I don’t believe the government should ever be meddling in people’s personal lives, but it sounds like you’re feeling frustrated that you can’t file a certain way and maybe it’s useful to realize that it isn’t really supposed to be a “pick and choose from an array of possible tax statuses” situation to begin with.

          More here if you find the set-up frustrating/annoying:

          http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/27/the-case-for-cutting-the-link-between-taxes-and-marriage/

          1. Anx*

            I should clarify:

            We don’t want to file together because we are in a domestic partnership or because of our romantic relationship.

            We are frustrated because if we never had sex, he would be allowed to claim me as a dependent, just like any other friend or family member than you support.

            1. Anx*

              And we aren’t trying to pick and choose which tax system to file with. We are getting frustrated because different government branches are on different pages over what a household is, what a family is, what a partnership is, etc, what incomes are eligible and need to be considered?

              It’s frustrating because the only way to be truly law abiding, is to move out. Can you imagine how irritating it is to be paying into a system that grants tax breaks or social services for people who are married or unmarried, many of whom are much richer than you? To need a lawyer that you can’t afford to navigate SNAP or ACA tax credits or taxes because the free services that are geared to low-income, lower-information citizens (that you pay for) don’t know what to tell you?

            2. Ask a Manager* Post author

              Oh! Claiming someone as a dependent is a whole different thing than filing jointly. If you qualify as a dependent, the fact that you’re in a relationship wouldn’t preclude him from claiming you. You wouldn’t be filing as married (just like you wouldn’t file as married in order to claim, say, a parent or child as a dependent).

            3. Anx*

              (I realize now that at one point I used the phrase ‘file together’ for taxes. I meant that he would file and claim me and I wouldn’t claim my own dependency; not that we would file as a family). Healthcare.gov (at least one some point) defined domestic partnerships more loosely than the IRS.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                Ahhhh! This whole time, I thought you were proposing filing as “married filing jointly.” I’ve never heard what you’re describing referred to as “filling together” so I was completely misinterpreting. Ignore all I’ve said.

    3. Auntie J*

      I don’t see an issue with you filing together. People can claim someone as a dependent if they lived together and provided more than half of the other person’s support. So as long as no local laws are violated, he should be able to claim you.

      But, he has to file as single – not married and not head of household (HOH is only if you have a dependent who is a qualifying child or relative).

      Because this is the IRS and rules aren’t always clear, I would suggest going on the IRS site and finding a dependency test that it can walk you through.

      And I agree with AvonLady that it could still be more beneficial to file separately. You might need to try both ways. Good luck!

    4. TCO*

      I’m surprised healthcare.gov said you were considered one household. My understanding is that they define “household” based on how you file your taxes. So unmarried partners living together who file separately would be considered two separate households under the ACA tax credit system. It can get a little more complicated when there are children in common and other things like that, but those considerations don’t sound applicable to your situation.

  46. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    I finished Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix this past week. Hysterical! Tina Fey is a genius. (We already knew that but, more proof.)

    I think, well am pretty sure, it’s about taking TV tropes and stereotypes and humanizing them. And earwig music.

    Peeno Noirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr << in head, will not leave.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I want to finish it so badly! I Netflix-cheated on my bf last week and ended up paying the price (i.e., he wanted to watch it and I confessed and re-watched three episodes). We spent 10 minutes yesterday coming up with Peeno Noir rhymes.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I keep making them during the day in the back of my brain and find myself muttering “Peeno Noirrrr, brand new car” , “Peeno Noirrrr, bridge too far”…………..

          1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

            The husband has not watched and indeed brought home a brand new car last week.

            I got to shout it! He did not understand.

            1. BRR*

              I believe it’s “mid-size car.” *Pushes up glasses with finger*

              I’ve also listened to the song many many times.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                We are making NEW ones! The creative reach of Titus Andromedon is BOUNDLESS.

    2. manomanon*

      I binged on the whole thing yesterday while I was doing laundry. It’s much funnier than I anticipated. Also- I’ve been to the real life version of the restaurant where Titus works and it’s a hoot. You get in by using a phone booth to call and ask for a dead heart.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I think the show will bump up that, and the NYC Olive Garden in tourist traffic.

    3. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      and now

      UnBREAKable is stuck in my head. Curse them!

      Tina Fey’s husband is responsible for the ear wigs. I’ll post a link under this.
      They are an evil couple.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        We just watched three more episodes. Only one to go. I sing along to the theme song… “Dammit!”

  47. Drama Llama from the same Mama*

    OK, going more anonymous for this one, but wanted to vent/seek the wisdom of the AAM peeps.

    My sister got married a few months ago. I took a week off work (half my year’s leave) to fly out early and help. However, an hour after I arrived, she left…for 2 days…on a bridesmaid trip I wasn’t invited to– or told about! Ouch.

    I didn’t say anything because I’m a grown adult and don’t want drama, but the problem is that it just won’t die. My mom keeps pushing for a family vacation, which is not possible, since I used up all my leave! And I’ve found myself really pulling away from sis too, and extra-noticing all the ways she can be inconsiderate– the wedding incident is certainly part of a larger pattern.

    I want to move past this, but I’m not sure I can on my own (an apology would be nice…) So how can I bring this up without tarnishing her wedding week memories and stirring up too much drama? (Bonus: my family tends to overreact to anything negative, so drama is almost inevitable.) UGH.