weekend free-for-all – May 16-17, 2015

Olive watching kittensThis 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 and non-school 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: How to Be a Victorian, by Ruth Goodman. This is fascinating. You will learn all about how to keep clean without water, how Victorian bathrooms worked (and didn’t work), what it’s like to brush your teeth with soot, and so much more. The author didn’t just research this stuff; she actually lived that way herself and then wrote about what it was like. Soooo interesting.

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

{ 802 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager*

    Just a reminder to post anything related to work or school on Friday’s open thread. This one is non-work/non-professional-concerns-only. I am a tyrant about this. Thank you!

    1. Mimmy*

      Oh I didn’t realize school was off-limits too. Whoops! I’ve posted about school a few times in the weekend threads, so my apologies.

      1. Colleen*

        I’m glad I saw this. I didn’t realize this was non-school, either. I was just about to post about school, but I will wait until next Friday.

  2. Katie the Fed*

    Can I tell you how impressed I am that you manage to read an entire book every week? I really want to do more reading. We’re getting a recumbent bike soon and figure we can do some reading while we bike (plus it’s something I can actually do as I recover from my injuries).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Lately I haven’t been! The book recs aren’t so much “here’s what I’m reading this week” but just “here are books I love.” Currently I’m reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      I’ve seen many of the TV series that author has participated in, most of which involve living in a certain era for a year: Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, Wartime Farm, Victorian Pharmacy. In most of them, there are usually 2 male archeologists/social historians who do things like learn to make traditional woven reed eel traps and she handles the household stuff. It is very interesting to see how people used to live, the kinds of things they used to do to survive.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Wait they still make those shows? I used to love the PBS mini series specials where they would send families to live like pioneers and stuff. I saw once called “Manor House” about living as Edwardians (both upstairs and downstairs) for several months on Amazon Instant Video, but I can’t find other shows like that or even what I would search for.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I missed 1900s House and I want to see it. I think I either bought this book Alison recommends or it’s in my wish list–it’s my intention to write a book set in that time period at some point. I got into it when researching for miniatures. The coolest thing was when I realized that the late nineteenth century is a lot like the late twentieth. The Victorians were as gadget-crazy as we are, and they had a lot of the same social problems because of the Industrial Revolution and the proliferation of rapid technological improvements. If you transplanted a progressive Victorian to 2015, he/she would probably adjust quite nicely after a while.

            Oh the ideas flying around in my head…. >:)

            1. brightstar*

              The few things I remember about 1900 House were that women’s clothes were insanely heavy, about 20 pounds. And without vacuums and such, housework was really pretty awful to perform.

              1. Nashira*

                Wow. I like firm pressure from my clothing and find it comforting (autism yo) but that just sounds awful. I’m sure one eventually becomes accustomed to it but dang.

          2. chump with a degree*

            They have (or had) the 1940s house at the Imperial War Museum. Fun to go through.

        1. Natalie*

          The discs are available through Netflix, if you have that. I watched a bunch of them a few years ago.

          1. VintageLydia USA*

            The only one I found streaming LEGALLY is The Manor House which I’ve already seen. YouTube to the rescue :)

      2. Anna the Accounting Student*

        Came here to say this. I’ve seen Tudor Monastery a Farm and Edwardian Farm as well as Tales from the Green Valley on YouTube. Not that I’d have known to look for them, mind you — I think YouTube actually came up with a good recommendation for all the Time Team I’ve been watching.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          There is another show “24 Hours in the Past” on the TV at the moment which features Ruth Goodman as a becrinolined expert. Each episode has the same 6 celebrities who have to do a Victorian job for a day. These have included street sweeping/working on the rubbish dump, a 24 hour coaching inn and a pottery factory.

          Suffice to say, it all looks pretty grim!

      3. Marzipan*

        Oh! Oh! Is she the lady who shaved a roadkill badger to get hair for a mediaeval paintbrush? I love her!

        1. Anna the Accounting Student*

          Yes, I think so. And weren’t they joining an ongoing ye-olden-methods castle-building project?

  3. The Bookworm*

    Hairclips and Barrettes

    *hangs head low*

    Some time ago, several people posted about really nice hair accessories. I can’t find the thread (maybe due to user error :-D). I want to get a gift for a friend & nice hair accessories would be great.

    If someone could repost the information or suggest how I can find the thread again, I’d really appreciate it.

    1. BAS*

      Ficarre make amazingly lovely hair clips. The “plastic” part is high-end acetate like designer sunglasses so it flexes well and responds to the heat of your head.

      1. BAS*

        Oh, and they sell them many places. I became aware of them when I worked at Nordstrom.

    2. barette*

      Believe it or not, whole foods has some very nice and durable hair clips that are made in France. You have to ask for it though, as they’re sometimes tucked away in a drawer in the makeup/beauty section.

      1. The Bookworm*

        I wouldn’t have thought of looking at Whole Foods for hair clips & they recently opened a location not far from me.

        Thanks for the suggestion.

    3. Melissa*

      Andrea’s Beau makes beautiful headbands! They are kind of pricey which has prevented me from getting one so far, but they are gorgeous.

      1. fposte*

        I only recently realized that there’s sound–little kitten squeaks are adorable!

    1. onnellinen*

      I can’t turn away from that livestream… amazing for de-stressing after a long day! Kittens!

  4. AMD*

    We are still house hunting, three months in and two and a half failed offers in, and I am kind of ready to give up and ask our landlord if we can’t just buy our apartment and the one next to it and install an interior door between them.

    That being said, part of the reason I am in a hurry for a house is that I want a kitty cat. Since the house is not forthcoming, any tips for bring a cat into a small apartment? I am hesitant because we have electric cords everywhere, and my husband hates cats and would want some space to be away from the cat, which he would not have in our apartment.

    1. jhhj*

      Cats like vertical space, not square footage. They’re pretty easy as apartment pets go, and rarely chew on cords. If your husband hates cats, that makes it harder; it’s pretty hard to keep them out of any place that doesn’t have a door shut 24/7.

      But you’re not that far into a house hunt, and cats really hate moving (mostly — there are exceptions), so it’s probably better for a cat to come once you’re in a new place.

        1. Sandy*

          Thanks, autocorrect.

          *got lucky.

          We’ve tried water sprays, other sprays, aluminum foil…

        2. skyline*

          Mine mostly chew on thin cords, like earbuds and phone chargers. I keep those on drawers when not in use. I run the cords for things that are plugged in all the time (like lamps) through this split plastic tubing I got at Lowe’s. You can trim it to the length you need. The cats aren’t interested in that and the cords inside are safe.

          There’s also a bitter spray you can spray on things to deter cats. My friends tried using this and their cat got so angry after tasting it that she attached their cords with extra vengeance. Oh, cats…

    2. Katie the Fed*

      I would wait until your living situation is settled – it could be stressful on a young cat to get used to a home and then move again shortly after.

      Also – you realize that cats are often exceptionally affectionate toward people who don’t like them, right? I hope your husband is prepared for that!

      1. the gold digger*

        I read that one of the reasons for that is that cats really don’t like it when people look them in the eye – they consider it a hostile gesture (or something like that). So the person who is deliberately not looking at the cat is the person whom the cat considers a friendly.!

        1. Myrin*

          I don’t know what research shows in that regard but my cat definitely avoids eye contact at all costs (unless he looks up at someone because he wants food) so I can see the logic behind what you’re saying.

        2. Dang*

          Is that why? It makes sense! My cat hates everyone but me… And my best friend, who completely ignores her and doesn’t like animals. Whenever I have company kitty stays away, but she ALWAYS appears when bff is over. And will go as far as to sit in her lap! It’s hilarious and bizarre.

    3. Sparrow*

      We moved twice in 6 months with our three cats and they adjusted fairly quickly. See if you can adopt an adult cat because they will be less crazy than a kitten. Also an older cat would be less likely to stay away from the cords. They do make sprays that you can use on things like that to prevent cats from chewing on things. We also use these cans called Stay Away to keep cats out of certain areas. The can has a sensor and makes a loud beep and sprays air. We keep ours on sound only. They are located in the front of our entertainment center to keep the cats from crawling through and messing with cords.

      I agree with the vertical space. Set up some cat perches or even a chair by an open window.

      What specifically doesn’t your husband like about cats? If it is the litter box, they make litter box enclosures that look like furniture. It it’s cat hair, then we keep blankets on the couches and lint brushes handy. The cats also get a good brushing.

      1. AMD*

        Unfortunately, he just doesn’t enjoy animals. He will opt to not pet or touch friendly cats, and would rather just not have one around. The litter box and pet hair are just added inconveniences.

        I am definitely looking for a young adult or adult cat. As cute as kittens are, I hear nothing but good things about getting older cats.

        1. fposte*

          A friend of mine has a husband who was like that. She carefully selected a cat who was least likely to be a general annoyance, and he generally grew to like the cat, in his own way (probably not a lot of petting, but he’s cool with her sitting near him when he’s working in the office).

        2. Natalie*

          Other than their cuteness, IMO kittens and puppies are THE WORST. They bite, they mew, they pee everywhere. Bleh. Lots of work.

          1. Melissa*

            TRUE. TRUE. I adopted a dog who was just at the end of her puppyhood, entering adolescence, and even the little bit of chewing she did drove me nuts. I couldn’t imagine having a puppy running around like a maniac chewing on anything and losing teeth all over the place, lol!

        3. Marcela*

          Maybe you can try to use the “Feline-alities”, personality tests for cats that many shelters use. That way you can avoid very affectionate cats, and go with a more independent one. We tried to use this system 6 months ago, when we went looking for our furry son. We filled a form with several questions about our dream cat and an assistant took the form and introduced us to several very cute and interesting adult cats. We didn’t adopt any of them because I was looking for a cat who wanted to be with me and none of those cats was interested in getting to know us :-/ (The following day we decided to adopt a cat I chose just looking a his photo in the website of a different shelter. He can’t be more perfect for us, like he was designed from our dreams).

        4. Sparrow*

          Ah, gotcha. I wish you luck with the house search! And I hope it works out for you to get a cat. It’s great to hear about older kitties getting adopted.

    4. Natalie*

      Take some deep breaths on the house hunt. It will come together! Feeling desperate can push you to make a bad decision because you just want to be done.

      Take a break, if you need to. There will be more houses when you come back to it.

    5. Aussie Teacher*

      Any flexibility on the cat requirement? You sound like it’s definitely going to happen, despite the fact that your husband hates cats. I’m obviously biased as I also hate animals, but I would be pretty upset if my spouse decided to go ahead and get an animal (a fairly major decision which would impact our living arrangements) against my wishes. Like having kids, it seems like the sort of thing where unless both parties are willing, it shouldn’t happen. Could you not get some cat-loving in by volunteering at a cat shelter etc, without impacting your marriage?
      Best of luck with the house-hunting – it can be a nightmare, I know!

      1. blackcat*

        As a pet lover, I do also second this.

        Any chance you’d be open to a lower-maintenance, but still affectionate pet, like a rat? Well trained rats can be really great, loving pets, but they live in an enclosure and are more easy for other folks to ignore.

        1. TheSockMonkey*

          Agreed. Cats creep me out, and if my spouse got a cat, I would leave him.

          If your husband is willing to have one, great, but I think you need to wait till you are in a much bigger space. Or, look into pets he actually likes.

          1. Myrin*

            The husband doesn’t seem to like animals in general from what I can tell from AMD’s comments.

            I’m coming at this from the other side of you (I’d not want to be with someone who doesn’t like cats as I’m not willing to not have at least one) but we agree in that it seems a tad problematic to have one spouse as determined to have a cat as AMD seems to be and another who doesn’t care for animals at all.

            My cat spends most of his time either outside out of sight or in one of “his” two places inside sleeping, so he’s around as little or as predictably as cats can be but I can still imagine it would be hard for someone living with me to just, IDK, never meet him or see any trace of him. Which is not to say it’s not possible and AMD knows their life better than random people on the internet so maybe the husband is just not enthused about cats but willing to live with them, but yeah, that doesn’t sound easy.

            1. AMD*

              Oh yeah, we have both had a serious talk about balancing our desires there. I wouldn’t do anything as ridiculous as bring home an animal he would hate coexisting with without talking to m about it first. The mutually agreeable compromise was to get a cat after we had a house so that he could have space apart from the cat, and that I would take care of cat chores like litter box and vet visits. He also agreed to revisit the issue next mon if we still don’t have any good house prospects, which is why I am trying to gather information in preparation for that discussion.

              If at any point he said, “Having a pet would make me very unhappy, and I would really prefer we not,” then I would probably start looking at other options, like volunteering at a shelter or working at a pet store.

              1. TheSockMonkey*

                Ok, good. I feel better now. :-)

                I once had a roommate who brought a cat home after I explicitly said I didn’t want to live with pets, so I think I had a flashback or something when I read your post. I think you have a good approach at this point.

    6. catsAreCool*

      Kittens are more likely to chew on everything than adult cats. You might want to think about adopting an adult cat. I did that recently, and he’s a great kitty, who loves attention. It’s a good idea to spend some time with the cat first, and if possible, try to find an adoption place that takes notes on each cat so that you can find out what they think of the kitty – it’s nice to get a sweet, cuddly purry kitty who always uses the litter box.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you haven’t already, click on it so you can see it larger! I have a whole series of Olive trying to make friends with those kittens.

      1. StillHealing*

        I love that picture. It’s adorable. I think Olive wants to be a Mommy! Or a Big Sister! …..if our votes could count….I vote you add a new kitten to the family!

  5. Gene*

    Back from my conference in Greenville, SC. Had a great trip, learned lots of good stuff, ate some good food, drank some good booze, had some great conversation.

    Today I turn 59, I’m going to have a quiet day.

    1. fposte*

      Happy birthday, Gene! Glad the trip went well and you survived your 2 a.m. rising time.

      1. Gene*

        Yesterday was a forced march. Up at 7 EDT (4 PDT) for conference, I was moderating a breakout, so I had to be there. Finished up about noon, then lunch and Ingress until off to the airport for a 4 PM flight, almost 3 hour connection in ATL then 5 hours to Seattle. Aborted landing because of a flap problem, then shuttle home. It was almost 1 AM when I got home, 21 hours after I got up.

        Then a friend called at 7 to wish me happy birthday…

        I’d do it again.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Happy birthday! I lift a glass of your preferred beverage to you in your honor!

    3. StillHealing*

      Happy 59th! Rest, relax and enjoy yourself. You deserve it!

      P.S. You going to plan something big for 60?

      1. Gene*

        Since we did an Alaska cruise for our 50th (wife is two days younger than I), I’m thinking Caribbean cruise for 60.

  6. Katie the Fed*

    So you guys know I have a little thing for pretty cookware, especially since the wedding when I went to town on gift cards and such.

    I’ve been eyeing little Le Creuset or All Clad cocottes – basically just miniature pots. They’re little more than fancy, adorable ramekins. They’re also pretty expensive, but I’m good bargain hunter so I imagine I could find them at a good price.

    Anyway, what are some ideas for them if I got them? I’d need to use them fairly often to assuage the guilt over buying frivolous, cute things.

    1. Job-Hunt Newbie*

      I have to avoid buying those every time I go in to Marshall’s….

      I love using the smaller stoneware pieces for persona-sized meals, since I cook for one. Mini shepherd pie, mini chicken parmesan, mini chicken pot pie…the list goes on and on.

    2. Anx*

      This is not at all meant to discourage you from those items, but keep in mind that some of the stoneware or novelty products from top brands are not made in the same facilities as the other products. Something to keep in mind if economy and value are critical to your purchasing decisions.

      That said, baked eggs.

    3. Sourire*

      They’re great for individual servings of things like mac and cheese, cobbler, baked beans, gratins, etc. Pretty much anything you bake you can throw in there. I am a huge gratin fan, they’re not just for potatoes. I love veggie gratins (zucchini being my favorite) as well as scallop gratin. They’d also be cute for french onion soup.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        You know, I’ve never made a gratin! I think I’d like them – I love veggies and cream and cheese – what’s not to like? Do you have a favorite general recipe?

        1. Sourire*

          I got the idea for the zucchini and scallop ones both from Ina Garten. I don’t really follow recipes exactly (for instance for the zucchini I use shallots instead of onions due to personal preference), but the starting points for both of those are fantastic. My one caveat for Ina, always use less salt and less butter than she does!

    4. Pretend Scientist*

      I feel like I’ve seen little Staub ones that are for Cornish game hens? Maybe in the Sur La Table catalog?

    5. Elkay*

      I have a special cook book for those tiny Le Creusets. I rarely use it but the molten chocolate pots are nice.

    6. Ann Furthermore*

      I saw Ina Garten (I think) make individual sized lava cakes in mini iron skillets once, and I thought it looked so sinfully delicious! I bet they’d work in these too.

    7. The German chick*

      Le creuset sells a cookbook for the cocottes. We tried a couple of the desserts – big hit!

    8. Alma*

      I highly recommend the Le Creuset enameled cast iron mini pots with lids. Much more versatile since they can take higher heat, even broiling (think French Onion Soup). You can also make individual corn bread or corn pudding, cobblers, shepherds pie, chili with a cornbread topping, pumpkin or gingerbread, and use them for any soup, stew, or casserole. Mac and cheese, perfectly bubbly and golden!

      The stoneware version usually can’t be heated over 350F, and is likely to chip or crack.

    9. Sandy*

      I have a full set! I never thought I would use them. Ha!

      So far:
      Baked/shirred eggs
      Mac and cheese
      Fruit crumbles/cobbler
      Shepherd’s pie

      Best part, in my view, is that they usually fit into the toaster oven. No need to heat up the whole house!

    10. BAS*

      My mom has some that I think are just a nice store brand and she uses them for mini fruit crisps/crumbles and pudding. My sister likes to do what are basically baby fritattas in hers.

    11. McDerp*

      If you have Marshall’s near you, I have seen some of the casserole dishes and ramekins and such for REALLY great prices. It’s not a big selection and usually just two or three colors, but the deep discount might be worth it.

    12. Melissa*

      Creme brulee! Of course, then you’d have to get a mini-blowtorch…

      Mini-quiches, mini-pies, mini-casseroles…mac and cheese sides! Or you can use them for sauces at parties.

  7. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Today is my birthday–I am twenty-seven years old. But it’s pretty well the worst birthday I’ve ever had–we learned yesterday that my dad’s cancer has spread to his lymph nodes, my mom is still on crutches with a torn ligament and has food poisoning, and I also have come down with the same food poisoning. It’s a rough day all around, and it’s been an extremely emotionally taxing week, with no real end in sight.

    So if I can even manage to eat any of my birthday dinner, I’ll have to eat it alone–husband back at home 900km away, dad can’t eat anything comfortably “thanks” to the cancer, mom is sick and miserable. Not our best effort, not my best day.

    I hope everyone else is enjoying a better weekend than we are!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Well that’s all just terrible – I’m really sorry, especially about your dad.

      I hope you can find some way to relax and enjoy your special day just a little bit. Happy Birthday!

    2. Chartreuse*

      Oh, I am so sorry you are going through that. That’s a lot all at once. Hang in there.

    3. danr*

      Oy… don’t try to eat much. Clear liquids, dry crackers, jams or jellies, applesauce and no fats.

    4. StudentA*

      I’m so sorry about your parents’ health. I hope you have a great birthday anyway and think of something nice to do with your friends and family. And skype with hubby if feasible!

    5. fposte*

      Serious suckage there, FDCA, and I’m so sorry. Go to bed early if you can. Hoping that things get better for you.

    6. StillHealing*

      Happy Birthday. And..Oh, So very sorry. The endlessness of it all it one of the most difficult aspects. First of all, take care of YOU! There’s only one you. When you are feeling better and more yourself, carve out some time where you can ” celebrate you ” whether with others, or not. (Sorry..don’t mean to sound like I’m telling you what to do) Sorry to hear about your Dad’s cancer having spread. It sounds like you are close. Here’s to hoping you, your Mom and Pop are all feeling better soon!

    7. brightstar*

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with all of this. Hugs and good vibes and maybe you can celebrate your birthday next week?

    8. Revanche*

      I’m so sorry, FDCA, what a hard time you’re all having right now. Wishing you a Happy Birthday feels wrong and tone deaf so I’m going to wish you all improved health and cross my fingers for your dad.

    9. ZSD*

      I’m so sorry about your father. It sounds like wishing you a happy birthday would be fruitless, so instead I’ll wish you many happy returns of the day.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Happy Birthday- belated. I am sorry about your folks, sending positive vibes your way. I hope you sat and ate your dinner with us here. I do that sometimes, I sit with my meal and read AAM. Type a little, eat a little, type a little more.
      Be sure to take good care of you. Let us know how it goes by you.

  8. Nobody Here By That Name*

    LoveloveloveloveLOVE Ruth Goodman. If you like the book you should try to see the shows she did with the BBC (Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, and so on). Somehow her book escaped my notice, so thank you for the rec!

  9. Job-Hunt Newbie*

    I graduated today! Received my Master’s degree after seven years of hard work for both of my degrees. Here’s to now hoping for a job offer from a recent interview at a place I loved!! If no offer comes from it, still had an amazing day exploring a new area, and enjoying a Dunks before razzle-dazzle time. May go back for another day trip, because the area was so beautiful!

      1. Job-Hunt Newbie*

        I did mine in education. Hoping to get my foot in the door at a college as an administrator, and not a student after all this time!

        1. Audiophile*

          Just general ed? Where’d you go for your Masters? Did you do a BA/MA program or two separate programs?

    1. StillHealing*

      Congratulations!!!! This is wonderful. Best wishes to you as you embark on new adventures!

  10. Audiophile*

    Yay getting in before the rush!
    Been getting a lot of calls, had another interview. And a few more dates with the boy.
    I need to make a to-do list: get new windshield wipers, renew registration, get car repaired. That last one involves a day or two off, which is why I’ve put it off for so long.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Uggg! I feel your avoidance. I took an afternoon off and a Saturday to handle getting new license and registration and at the car inspection found that my car’s tint (legal in my previous state and totally safe) is too dark to be legal in my new state so I’ll have to spend another day getting my tint replaced. And I still live in a southern state so I am also not too excited to have less window to block less sun than before.

      1. Audiophile*

        The wipers definitely need to be done, because I’ll fail my inspection next month if I don’t. The registration is due at the end of this month, I’ve let it lapse before for a bit, because I couldn’t afford a day off but I can do it online this year. Plus, boy I’ve been seeing lives in a town where the cops frequently do stops, so it would be my luck that I’d get caught.
        It sucks that you have to take your tint off.

  11. Shell*

    I generally never weigh myself because I don’t care; I’ve coasted by on my very excellent metabolism and walking everywhere (I used to bus). The only time in recent memory that I’ve weighed myself was when I was heading on a plane. For those times, I weighed myself and then I weighed myself carrying my suitcase to figure out how much my suitcase weighed by difference. My weight had been steady–within half a pound–for eight years at least.

    A friend was mentioning about my rock-steady weight today and I weighed myself on a whim. And…whoa, I gained 4 kilos/9 pounds. I’ve been exercising more but I’ve also lost my walking everywhere habit since I recently switched to driving. Seriously didn’t think 15 minutes each way of not-strenuous walking made much of a difference, especially since I’ve began exercising in earnest when I never used to! And I know muscle is heavier, but somehow I doubt I’ve gained 4 kilos of muscle–I don’t exercise enough for that.

    Guess I’m starting to get to the age where I can’t coast on metabolism anymore… :P

    1. Anx*

      Are you perhaps eating more by working out?

      I avoid exercise because it makes me hungry and I am trying to keep my grocery bill down, but when I did exercise I gained a bit of weight. It wasn’t all muscle, but I definitely feel a little more in shape about 8 lbs heavier than what I currently average.

      1. Shell*

        I’m not really sure. My portions are about the same and I don’t eat more frequently (I’ve always been a semi-grazer but I haven’t increased my grazing frequency). In the last while I have been upping my protein intake with protein shakes because 1) I’ve an expired-but-still-good batch of protein powder I really want to finish, and 2) protein smoothies are much more tolerable when the weather is warm, and they’re really fast meals too. But previously I also used to drink protein smoothies a lot in the warmer months too so I’m not sure if my smoothies are to blame.

        Otherwise, my diet hasn’t changed and is reasonably healthy. I don’t eat out much.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      It’s possible you’ve swapped fat for muscle, which is denser and therefore heavier for the same volume. I gain weight as I get slimmer sometimes! Do your clothes still fit?

      1. Shell*

        Yeah, everything still fits exactly the same, which is why I was so surprised!

        But 4 kilos of muscle sounds like a lot… o_o

        I should go buy myself a tape measure on Tuesday and start measuring circumferences. (My old tape measure smells like naphthalene and I hate using it.)

        1. fposte*

          Might be a good experiment, but if you’re still fitting the same into your clothes, I wouldn’t worry too much.

    3. fposte*

      How are you clothes fitting, especially older stuff? I don’t weigh myself very often either, but I have some reliable clothing tells.

  12. Sourire*

    So my refrigerator died. Well not so much died as is dying a slow and painful death, which I didn’t notice as I was out of town and came home to a somewhat cool fridge and totally defrosted freezer. It was heartbreaking to throw out all of that food. Such a waste of food, money, but also time. I live alone and so I make a lot of recipes where I end up freezing much of it into individual servings for a later date. Throwing out the freezer items was truly painful, it was like watching memories of wasted Sundays past, hours spent cooking in vain.

    On the plus side, my friend’s husband is a fairly recent hire in the kitchen section of a home/appliance store and so I got to give him some business, which was nice.

    1. Anx*

      That must be so frustrating.

      One reason I don’t buy a lot in bulk is because our apartment is humid, we had bugs (they are mostly gone, but I still seal everything, which is pricey and takes up room), and I grew up in an area with frequent power outages, so I never feel comfortable with a lot in cold storage. I know if this happened to me, I’d have a difficult time remaking some of the same dishes, as if I just made them even though I didn’t actually get a chance to eat it.

      1. Natalie*

        I’ve been in apartments for a while, and they always have such terrible, old refrigerators. Things spoil quickly, or partially freeze. Sigh. One of the things I’m most looking forward to when I buy a place is being able to get a quality fridge and actually store things.

        1. fposte*

          I so do not miss trying to defrost those horrible in-fridge box o’ freezer things.

        2. Jazzy Red*

          When I lived in an apartment, I had a refrigerator of my own, and the landlord gave me a break on rent. It was much better than the usual rental fridges, and I took it with me when I bought my first house.

    2. BAS*

      Oh no!!!!!!!!!! Bad enough when they die and you’re home! My parents fridge (I was living at home during college then) decided to die THE DAY BEFORE THANKSGIVING one year.

  13. Carrie in Scotland*

    I’m in a funk, everything seems like it sucks and that I’m not moving closer to anything…and I dunno. I miss having someone and I’m tired of being the 3rd or 5th wheel in things.

    1. StudentA*

      Awww….I think I know just how you feel. I have not had someone in a looongg time! I also understand about not getting closer to your goals. I was just telling someone that today. I have been working sooo hard for sooo many things and nothing has worked out in a long time.

      I wish you luck.

      1. StillHealing*

        Sometimes, right before a breakthrough, I feel like you are feeling. Currently, I’m a bit like that right now…with my pending divorce and all.

        Change it all up a bit. Do something different or try something out of the ordinary. A new restaurant alone or with a friend you’ve never dined with. Attend a one day cooking class, or other class. It’s amazing how it can shift your perspective. For me, I had a really great acupuncture appointment today. It help me ground and balance in a very good way.

        1. StillHealing*

          Oops..double posted..not sure how that happened!!!???

          Anyway…50 is the new 30! You are just getting started, Ms Elizabeth!!!!! It seems like a lot but seriously, you have only reached half your life! (I’m 52, btw) We’re going to live into our hundred+! Celebrate you in a Fabulous way!

      2. Revanche*

        Our society does a strong job of making women feel that way once we cross 30 or something like that. I hope that it’s not the case and you, like some of my women friends in their 50s and 60s, do find a worthy partner.

    2. AnonyMs.*

      Those funks SUCK. And I’m sorry. I’ve been there. The only way to get through the funk is… to get through the funk. But focus on doing stuff you like to do, even if it’s sitting around the house in yoga pants all day. I used to go to the store and get “fancy” foods, like pate and good cheese and good bread, then I would have a little private party while watching favorite movies. The trick, I think, is to turn “I’m by myself” into something awesome.

    3. StillHealing*

      Sometimes, right before a breakthrough, I feel like you are feeling. Currently, I’m a bit like that right now…with my pending divorce and all.

      Change it all up a bit. Do something different or try something out of the ordinary. A new restaurant alone or with a friend you’ve never dined with. Attend a one day cooking class, or other class. It’s amazing how it can shift your perspective. For me, I had a really great acupuncture appointment today. It help me ground and balance in a very good way.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Right on. Change one thing that you are doing and see where that puts you. Then change another thing and see how that goes. It can be anything, don’t fuss or stress over it- just pick something easy to change and go for it. Sometimes I think these ruts/funks come along in life to remind us to get out there and do something, switch things up a bit. It’s hard to get motivated to do that first switch, but the next one will be a tad easier.

    4. Sunshine Brite*

      I’m totally in a funk too. It’s starting to affect too many areas of my life.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Look at the things that you are willing to change/tweak. Don’t force yourself to do something like climbing Mt. Everest. Pick something doable and promise yourself a small reward for doing it. (Tricky part: It’s absolutely essential that you actually follow up with the small reward.)

        1. ECH*

          @NSNR: I do that for completing work late at night. The other day it was an 11 p.m. trip to the store to pick up a certain flavor of ice cream that a friend recommended. (Of course, when I got there, there was none on the shelf :( so I ended up getting two containers of two separate flavors … sigh …)

    5. nona*

      Me too. But it usually feels like this right before we find something to do about it.

      I’ve given myself until the end of the summer to work on some personal and work goals. If it doesn’t happen, Plan B.

    6. Trixie*

      I sympathize with feeling as though you’re not moving closer to anything. I know I have many positive things in my life but so often become focused on what I don’t have or how many better it would be if x, y or z happened. Life just doesn’t change instantly from losing that last 5-10 pounds, for example, so no point in waiting to invest in some new clothes or trying that new class. I don’t normally keep a journal but in my To Do notebook sometimes I’ll make a note of what went well that week or things that happened that I’m happy with. Also, I was out of town for a bit and while it was short, it was so motivating to think about moving to the new area. It’s not always about the big changes but a fresh start.

  14. Katie the Fed*

    My cookware post got me thinking of this –

    Does anyone else have a hangup that you can *never* buy anything marked full price (except things like food where you might need an ingredient that’s just not on sale). I blame being raised by very thrifty parents, but the thought of paying full price for anything…I just can’t. I’m sure there are some things I do buy, but I’m always waiting for markdowns or specials or seeing if there’s an online discount.

    1. Shell*

      I’m right there with you! I can’t buy clothes in-store without steep sales, and even then I prefer to go thrifting. I pretty much only buy stuff on sale in grocery stores unless they’re seasonal or I really that that one thing. Etc. etc.

    2. BRR*

      I don’t want to say I don’t buy full-priced but everything I get is well researched and a good price. We got a new tv as a wedding present from my brother and we bought it ourself. We went back and forth between sams club and best buy 4 times because they were next to each other (as well as internet research) and paid $100 less for the same brand between a 49 inch and 50 inch.

      Clothing tends to always be on sale though. I can easily get to my favorite stores during my lunch break and weekday in-store sales tend to be pretty decent.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      For me it’s paying for taxis.

      I usually take a train and then a bus home from downtown, but for a while the station where I changed onto the bus was under construction and it could take up to half an hour to wait for a train that would actually stop there, then there could be a 20 minute wait for the next bus. So after a Tuesday night event one week, I decided to spend the $20 on a cab instead and felt so horribly guilty about it! I got home and launched into a justification about the transit times and how I’d stayed later than I meant to and I had an early start in the morning and and and. My husband just looked at me and said “you realize that you’re not a grad student any more? You can take a cab every time if you want! I do!”

      I took a cab until the station reopened, and now I’m back spending $3 and about five times as long getting home by transit.

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I kind of do on certain things, like luggage or shoes (I hit the discount retailers first, always). I’m pretty proud when I score something on sale. But I also kind of resent that I can’t afford to pay full price or go to nicer stores, some of which have things I want.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I can, but I can’t buy anything in them!

          That’s one reason I like Fortnum and Mason so much. It has stuff I can actually afford, but it LOOKS like a store where I can’t. It even has a doorman! Who holds the door! In livery!

    5. Rebecca*

      **Raises hand** That’s me! I rarely pay full price for anything, unless it’s fresh food, like fruits, veggies, meat, milk, etc. I work in apparel, so I know how inflated the MSRP’s are vs what the actual cost of the garment is, so I buy as much as I possibly can on clearance or at thrift stores. I don’t skimp on underwear or shoes, as I believe if you have a nice foundation and good shoes/boots, it goes a long way toward making me feel better. And since I wear size 12 shoes, I am lucky to find really great athletic shoes on 6PM and Amazon, as well as plain, decent dress shoes.

      Today, I bought 3 packs boneless skinless chicken breast for $1.79/lb, normal price around here is about $3.49 – $3.99/lb, so all of it will be marinated, portioned out, cooked, and then frozen to put on salads later.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I’m very frugal, too, and I do try to get the best deal on everything, but one way I learned to make peace with paying a bit more sometimes was this: if I could pay $1 or less to have someone gas up my car for me, I would probably do it, because that’s a really good deal and it will save me a lot of time and trouble, right? So there’s no need to go way out of my way to save 5 or 10 cents a gallon on gas, as long as I get the cheapest price that’s convenient, I’m doing fine.

      That said, I do obsess a bit over unit prices and comparing identical products between stores.

    7. Liane*

      There are some things I am very big on getting on sale.

      *Clothing. Often wait until clearances where I work. Also into thrift/consignment.

      *Meat & Bakery. I love the reduced price meats & baked goods. I almost always get what I can afford & will fit in freezer of these that’s been marked down–and it is very tasty. Italian/French bread loaves for less than $1, which my son makes into the world’s best garlic or garlic-cheese bread. Mini-pies for 40 cents. 10lb chub of ground beef for $20 (originally about $30). A couple weeks ago, I got 2 pork roasts for a total of about $13!

      * 3D models. (Of all things) These are the computer mesh models I use for my hobby of 3D art. I don’t make my own so have to buy them. A lot of the modelers offer some free ones but most cost. Since it is rare I am shopping for a model for a specific project with a deadline, I can wait until models that catch my eye go on sale–which happens often. When possible, I use coupon codes offered by the websites in addition.

      1. I used to think I had a porpoise*

        Heh. There used to be a nearby Albertson’s grocery store, and off on one end of the meat cooler they had what I jokingly referred to as the “used meats” section. It was all good – sometimes *really* good cuts of meat that were approaching their sell-by date. They’d sometimes have lamb chops for $1/lb, boneless ribeyes for $1.99/lb … Alas, they went out of business some years ago ….

        Re 3D models and software in general: I can so relate. I hate paying big bucks for software, which tends to have a relatively short lifespan and the business model behind it tends to assume that the user is made out of money, which is used to pay for constant hardware and software upgrades. This is an issue in music, too, and it’s one of the reasons that people still build and buy hardware synthesizers.

        (Not to be overly nosey, but I’d like to see what you’ve done if you have examples somewhere out on the web).

    8. AnnieNonymous*

      Hmmmm….for me it’s not so much about getting a discount on the item as much as it is about not paying for shipping. I do a lot of my shopping online, and 99% of the time I won’t make an order unless I want enough stuff from that brand to qualify for free shipping.

      Cosmetics and skincare are things I absolutely will not scrimp on. When it comes to your skin, it’s worth sticking with what works instead of wasting money trying to find a comparable $6 option.

      1. BAS*

        I despise high-end stores that still charge shipping, sometimes based on a scale of how MUCH you spent, not how much it weighs. And of course they don’t have free returns/return shipping labels either.

    9. Meadowsweet*

      Yes and no – I try to keep a handle on it for brain reasons (it can slide from “yay! discounts!” into “I don’t deserve anything full-priced” and down to “I don’t deserve anything” fairly quickly) – but I do love me a good deal :)
      Food and personal care stuff…a discount is awesome, but I’m willing to spend more on what goes in or on (within reason!) (lots of staples, but good quality and known local producers as much as possible)
      cookware? clothes? cars? computers? caribbean vacations? heck ya! really, anything big-ticket (y’know, more than ~$50 ;) )

    10. StillHealing*

      Ahhh..Yes, to answer your question. My issue is more about “not being deserving”. I’m trying to change that in a healthy way. But there are somethings like cookware that seem incredibly overpriced. The kitchen gear I currently have including our first set of quality Wustoff knives – we waited, and watched for a significant discount before we bought them.

    11. I used to think I had a porpoise*

      I can’t say I *never* do it, but – in general, if I’m not getting a discount, it’s because *I know for a fact that no discount is availble*.

      I’m not ‘cheap’ – I’m an engineer. Life is a series of optimization problems. And part of that is understanding that it’s not always worth my time to try to find a deal.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Optimization, that’s a great way to put it. That’s what I’m thinking when I compare my savings vs. my time, as I mentioned in the example of gasoline upthread. I will also spend a lot of time calculating unit prices in order to get the best deal, but if it only saves me a few cents, I will probably allow myself to choose the more expensive option if I have other reasons to prefer it. And I will order from some preferred vendors if their price is somewhat near the lowest one I can find.

    12. Revanche*

      Yep. I was broke / paying off debt starting at 17 and it’s left a lasting impression. I’ve paid full price for maybe 2-3 things and I felt dirty for weeks after. It’s not the worst instinct, I guess, when it comes down to preserving a budget :)

    13. BAS*

      For me, it depends on where I am shopping. Some stores so regularly do sales/deals/coupons I just cannot justify paying full price.

    14. matcha123*

      Now that you mention it, aside from some foods, I buy almost everything at some kind of discount. I get down when I do bring myself to buy something at full price and find it on sale a month or two later.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Oh, you got me laughing. There is a place near me that buys up returns and overstocks from big companies. I can’t go in there without buying something. I try to stay practical. Two days ago I went in there and I have not gone there in about a month. The stuff changes almost daily and you have to buy it when you see it. Well. They had all these specialty glues and tapes and similar household supplies. I covered the bottom of a shopping cart with all the things I had picked out. I got to the register. FIFTEEN dollars! yippee. It worked into less than a dollar per item for name brand stuff. I had all I could do not to go back for more.

      I guess I am cynical. But it seems like retailers bring things in and mark them with a HUGE price. Within a few weeks the item is 40% off. [Of course, it’s not really a sale until it’s 75-80% off! ;) I feel like I got snookered if I pay full price.]

    16. EduNerd*

      I actually seem to do a little bit of the opposite of many of the replies here. I’m a big couponer for my groceries – not an Extreme Couponer by any means, and I don’t have a big stockpile or anything, but it’s easy enough to save on my groceries that for me personally there’s no reason not to. (I understand that this may vary by person.) I also really enjoy it, actually.

      Clothes/shoes are harder for me. I’ll absolutely look for a coupon code, use ebates (dot) com for cash back, hold out a little for a sale, but I will buy full price if there’s no sale and it fits because I have a terrible time finding flattering clothes ( I just have a weird body type).

  15. Bad at conversation?*

    I’ve always had some trouble navigating group conversations and I’m trying to figure out what I can do differently. I feel like I am interupted a lot and never really sure how to finish what I was saying since everyone seems to have moved on to the new topic. I don’t have this problem so much one on one, but in group I get to speak maybe for a minute or two while others drone on and on. I don’t think I’m boring people as I can pick up on that usually–I just take a lot of pauses when I speak.

    The other problem I have is how to handle when someone else is being a bore and it’s obvious to everyone but the person speaking that we are not interested in being monologued at anymore. I’ve tried excusing myself but when I come back the person monologuing is still talking about the same thing. I’ve tried changing the subject but then they will be more insistents and say something like “we’re not talking about Y right now, we’re talking about X.” I’d trying using that myself when I’m interrupted but it feels almost rude to me.

    How do you handle these situations?

    1. Steve G*

      This is one of the reasons I don’t like parties and have to force myself to go to them. I am always quiet in groups because I don’t like interrupting people, but then someone else comes along and interrupts them anyway. At a party two weeks ago I think I weirded someone out because I was sitting in a group of people I didn’t know and this lady started talking about how she loves all of the books and movies her kid who is 21 grew up on, and I never read any of the books or saw any of the movies but apparently some of the other people did and in the middle of them going back and forth about them, I kind of zoned out and was just kind of staring at them, and I felt too awkward to get up. But at the same time, they could have asked me a freakin’ question about me or something relevant to people over 21!

      1. fposte*

        It’s one of those rhythm and percentage things–people are allowed to have conversations that not everybody can participate in, but they shouldn’t always have conversations that excludes somebody, either. However, in my experience, it’s fairly uncommon for people to deliberately reach out to non-participants–I wish it were more common, but it’s just not the way most people operate off the clock, I think. But getting up is fine. You smile and look interested in the conversation for a moment, and then you say “Excuse me, gotta get some [whatever]” as you get up and walk away.

        Bad at Conversation, different things could be going on here–you could be a non-interrupter in an interrupter culture (I’m a big-time interrupter, as are most of my friends and near colleagues); you could be missing others’ cues or failing to present the cues they recognize; you could be having a common experience but minding it more; you could be expressing yourself unclearly or quietly or at too much length for the group culture, etc. You could experiment with being really concise and punchy; a poster here had the great response to being interrupted of “Wait, wait! I wanna finish my story!” and you could see if that works for you.

        You could also know a high percentage of bores. In general, it takes a fair amount of audacity or intimacy to explicitly tell people they’re not allowed to talk any more, so that may be why nobody’s shutting your bores up. (sometimes people are really interesting at length, but I’m taking you at your word that everybody else is bored too). I’m separately posting a Captain Awkward link about some strategies with family members like this–you could see if any of them are adaptable to your situation.

  16. Pennalynn Lott*

    I swear I’ve posted about school in the Friday thread in the past, and got my hand slapped for that. Since school isn’t work, I thought it belonged here.

    1. Pennalynn Lott*

      “It’s the Friday open thread! The comment section on this post is open for discussion with other readers on anything work-related that you want to talk about.”

      1. Anx*

        I have posted school in both, but I didn’t notice that disclaimer above until you pointed it out. I guess I’ll save my school post for Friday.

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            Maybe because some people work in schools on here rather than going to school?

            1. Pennalynn Lott*

              I can see those questions being banned from the weekend free-for-all, because for them school *is* work, and includes bosses and HR and co-workers and PTO, and everything else that goes with a job. I don’t understand how that, though, translates for people who are *attending* school, or who have questions about attending school (online-only vs brick-and-mortar, for-profit vs non-profit, private-vs-public, value of certain degrees, etc.).

              I’m honestly baffled as to why my question (about which school to attend) was deleted.

          2. Anx*

            I think school can be so closely tied to career advice, which is why I often struggle with it.

            For example, this week I found out a class that was cancelled showed up as an OW on my transcript. It’s a bit of a personal issue, because I worked really hard to turn my school performance around in the past few years (although I have yet to a have perfect semester with a full course load), and it seems petty but it’s a big deal to me.

            It could also be a work issue if I were concerned about how that may look to employers that check transcripts: does it look like I don’t stick things out when they get challenging? Do I mention it at all?

            And of course, most employers don’t care, but graduate and professional schools will. And that’s part of career development and employment; graduate school is basically a job, at least in some disciplines (many people aren’t just going to grad school to avoid the real world, but because a graduate stipend is better than unemployment).

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Nope, school stuff is discussed all the time on the Friday open thread! School usually comes up in a professional context (like figuring out an academic path that makes most sense professionally), which is why I ask to keep it off the weekend one, which is intended as a break from work and career related conversations.

      (And the reason I’m a tyrant about it is because if I allow a little bit, it starts to take over the thread and defeats the point of separating them.)

      1. BRR*

        While we’re on book keeping, would it be possible to do the open thread at a different posting times? 11am on fridays works well for me but I imagine some variety would be helpful for others.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I used to switch it around but then started getting people wanting to know exactly when it would be going up, so it ended up being easier to keep it at one consistent time.

  17. Treena Kravm*

    What’s your favorite ice cream? I usually just buy whatever is on sale, but I’m crushing on Talenti right now mmmm.

    1. Liz in a Library*

      Talenti is so great! I also really like Fiasco Gelato, but it can get pricey.

      1. NBF*

        Do you have a brand recommendation? I’ve never tried coconut milk ice cream. I tried rice milk ice cream once and it was practically inedible. Trader Joe’s carries a good dairy-free ice cream bar. I think they’re probably soy.

        1. Lore*

          Trader Joe’s also has a coconut ice cream in pints. The strawberry is a little odd but the chocolate is amazing!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          The coconut milk ice cream is verrry rich. Rice milk ice cream by comparison is like ice cream made out of skim milk. I have forgotten the brand I have tried, sorry. I do remember saying, “I can’t eat a lot of this” because it was so rich. It was very good, though.

    2. BRR*

      We have a local dairy farm and they sell 3 pints for $6. Ugh I should have bough some today when I was near there.

      1. CAA*

        Cherry Garcia for me. Weirdly that’s the only chocolate & fruit combo I like, but I absolutely love it.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m partial to gelato, when I can get it. But there is a pineapple-flavored soft-serve food truck thing here that I ABSOLUTELY LOVE. It’s about the only thing I would miss if I ever get the hell out of here.

    4. Rebecca*

      Turkey Hill – Love, love, love the Southern Lemon Pie, and I just tried the Key Lime Pie, and it’s awesome as well.

      1. AdjunctGal*

        Talenti is excellent. I also just found a new ice cream stand now that our old favorite place went under.

        1. Lindrine*

          The chocolate mocha Talenti when it is on sale. Then I slowly nom on it over several weeks to savor it.

      2. skyline*

        Turkey Hill was the ice cream of my childhood. It’s not available where I live now, woe. I fantasize about their chocolate peanut butter.

        1. Dang*

          That’s my favorite too!! I can’t buy it though because I will literally eat the whole thing in one sitting. Nooooo self control,

      1. Sarah in DC*

        Yes! Just in case you didn’t know, its now sold in some whole foods around here!

    5. Trixie*

      Frozen banana whipped up in my mini-food processor, sometimes with frozen blueberries or strawberries. Healthy and yummy!

      1. Jean*

        Frozen banana, partially defrosted, with cocoa powder and a small amount of honey. Yum. This permits the delusion of a healthy snack…although it’s honestly fat-free and dairy-free (not an issue for me, but hey).

    6. Alma*

      Hershey’s (not the chocolate people) Cappuccino Crunch. Oooooooh, it has nothing but good stuff in there.

    7. Panda Bandit*

      Cookies n cream, chocolate chip cookie dough, fudge brownie, tin roof sundae – I can’t pick just one.

    8. Nina*

      Ben & Jerry’s Half Baked and Milk & Cookies. The Hazed and Confused Core flavor is great, but it’s hard to find.
      Baskin Robbins or Coldstone’s Mint Chocolate Chip.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        If I am going to have a milk based ice cream this is what I hold out for- Ben & Jerry’s.

    9. matcha123*

      I love Superman, cookie dough and rainbow sherbet…all flavors I can’t get where I am. Superman is so, SO good!

    10. Clever Name*

      I had the holy grail of ice cream flavors while on vacation in Munich. It was Haagen Dazs, and it was truffle passion fruit marscapone flavored. Amazing. Of course I haven’t been able to find it in the states.

  18. thisit*

    we are flying to another city for 2 days to find an apartment. i haven’t had to look for an apartment since i bought my condo 10 years ago. and that time i knew the city. so am super stressed. what do you look for aside from usual stuff to know if a place is a good fit?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      I’ve done that before and it is really stressful. Good luck!

      I’m not sure what the “usual stuff” is to you but things I thought about before and during my rental search were:
      – Am I close enough to neighborhood amenities that matter? E.g. grocery store, cafe, restaurants, ZipCar, dry cleaning?
      – Am I close enough to the transit options I need? Parking, bus/train?
      – What’s the vibe of the neighborhood? I live in a university city so there are lots of places that are very student focused. We’re a bit older (late 20s) so we wanted somewhere a little more mature/quiet.
      – Will the stuff I want to keep fit in the apartment? Are there enough walls for all the art I want to bring?
      – How does the landlord tackle repair needs? Do they seem to be more hands-on and responsive, or more laissez-faire and does that fit with your needs?
      – What’s included in the lease? Parking, laundry, gym? How can you pay your rent? (Check only is a huge pain in the butt.)

      You should go in with a sense of how you’d rank various aspects of an apartment against each other: price, size/layout, location, amenities, appearance. Would you rather park on the street to be able to have an extra 100 sq ft in your unit? Would you be willing to be a little bit farther away for a nicer place? Would you rather have a big place with older carpet/tile/finishes, or a smaller place that’s newer and nicer?

      The nice thing about renting is that if it turns out in a year that you hate your place, you can find a new one. Moving is a pain, but by then you’ll know your area and have a lot more time to search. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to find The Perfect Place: just look for a place that you like and that meets your needs.

      I hope it goes well!

      1. Jillociraptor*

        OH. Also, we’ve worked with a broker twice. It was really helpful when we were moving to a new city — they talk with you to understand what you’re looking for (and help you hone in on that too), they find places and make appointments, and then help you think through your choices in the context of the market you’re working in.

        It was fairly expensive, usually the equivalent of one month’s rent, but on a short timeline, it was worth it to us. Most real estate companies have this service, or you can search Yelp for relocation/brokers.

        1. thisit*

          thanks! your tips are soooo helpful, and totally my style. I’m pulling out a notebook and making columns now with these criteria and others (and by usual, I meant the internal stuff – functional appliances, etc).

          we do have a broker (relocating for work, so they have an agency), so that has helped reduce the stress a lot. they’ve made the appointments for us, based on a conversation we had previously about what we like/dislike. but things can check all the boxes but just not seem… “right” – you know? it’s those intangibles i’m trying to figure out!

          i’m the type of person who takes the first good thing that comes along without really worrying about it too much, and it usually works out fine. but my partner is a little more picky, so i’d like to give him the opportunity to evaluate places.

      2. Alma*

        Check out the number of power outlets in each room, and check the fuse box to see if it is possible to plug in what you need and not continually pop the circuit breaker. (I was in a place built in the 1970’s, and both bathrooms – literally at opposite ends of the place – were on the same breaker. If there was something like dueling hair dryers running, both bathrooms lost power.)

    2. Marcela*

      When we moved to California 6 month ago I didn’t drive, so we used WalkScore.com to get an idea about how well situated were the houses we looked respect of restaurants, supermarkets, etc. Almost everything had horrible scores, hehehe, so I was forced to learn to drive and buy a car 3 months later :D

    3. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m not sure how much of this applies to other cities, but one thing that surprised me about apartment hunting in DC is that things go REALLY fast. Like, you don’t really get to spend a week looking at various places, and then compare them at the end and make a choice. If you manage to get in to see it, you probably have till the end of the day, max. At least, if it’s a decent apartment at a decent price. The only reason I got my (awesome) apartment is because we came in ready to apply, got in the application, and then put in a deposit as soon as the application was approved. Whole thing took like 3 days.

      But, during our last search, we didn’t know this, and we lost a few apartments because we were reluctant to decide, right then, that it was The One.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I liked to pick apartments that were a little below my budget.
      Parking space was a must- I will not park on the street over night. At that time we had two cars. I was surprised by how many places did not have two parking spaces.
      The floor plan has to kind of make sense in terms of being user friendly. A few places we looked at the layout was annoying. Go through the bathroom to get to the bedroom? no, no, no. But you get weird layouts if you are looking at homes that have been divided into apartments. Apartment buildings are usually not a problem. We preferred old houses that had been divided into apartments.

  19. Natalie*

    Podcast recommendation: I’ve been working through the archives of Backstory, which is sort of like a historical This American Life. They do 3-4 pieces on the history of something in particular (depictions of Native Americans, health food, police, extinction, etc). In particular there was one on philosophies of higher education that reminded me of conversations that have happened here. (Link to follow)

      1. TalleySueNYC*

        OK, so how do podcasts work? I don’t have a phone; I have an iPod Touch. Do I just download them, and play them, as if they were music? Can I download from the podcast site, or do I have to use iTunes? Are they all pay/subscription?

        What if you want to follow one–can you set it up to auto-download when you’re connected to the Internet?

        I guess I can go figure it out all on my own, but I’d love it if someone walked me through it as if I didn’t know all that terribly much.

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Yes you can download them as I’d they are music.

          Your best bet is using iTunes but other options to download them are available.

          They are free

          Yes you can follow / subscribe to ones you like amd they will automatically download

        2. CAA*

          For podcasts, I like to keep them separate from music, so I use Downcast from the app store. It should work on an iPod Touch over wifi.

          You can search for podcasts by name and then subscribe to them, then it automatically downloads new episodes when they appear and it auto-deletes them after you listen to them. You can also setup playlists, so I have one for when DH is in the car with me and one that includes some shows he doesn’t enjoy.

          1. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

            The Memory Palace is like a tiny historical This American Life–episodes have been as short as two minutes, but most seem to be about 8 minutes. I like it a lot–Nate DeMaio developed a poetic but not precious style that leaves you feeling inspired and awed by the nuttiness of humanity and our continued existence and brilliance.

    1. Lionness*

      Ok I am really ashamed to admit this but…

      …I am 29 and I don’t understand podcasts. Are they just recordings that you listen to online? Do you need special software or apps? How does one post a podcast?

      1. brightstar*

        Podcasts are recordings that you listen to. You can either download them or steam them and there’s a ton of them out there. Newsy, historical, comedy, movie related, food related, they’re out there.

        If you have an Ipod or Iphone and Itunes, you can download them there. If you have a smartphone you can download an app to listen to them (I use BeyondPod but don’t like it as much with the changes they’ve made).

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Posting a podcast is more complicated (but I’m sure google can tell you). Podcasts are basically just recorded radio broadcasts. Many podcasts were actually broadcast on the radio at some point (a lot of NPR shows are published as podcasts), and the podcast is a way to listen to it on your own time. There are also podcasts that aren’t on the radio, and just posted online. But basically, they’re just radio programs. If you have an iphone you can use the podcasts app (and it will sync, somewhat poorly, with podcasts on itunes on your computer). If you have itunes there should be a podcasts option (where it lists Music, Movies, etc.). I like to listen to podcasts when I’m cooking, on the bus, on a walk. It’s nice to have something to listen to that’s more than music when I’m doing something where I can’t read or watch TV.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Sort of like TV on Demand… but in audio format. They don’t necessarily have to be broadcast on the radio, the couple that I’ve started listening to aren’t (one for sure isn’t, the other I’m not sure of). I know I will get in some trouble for this because they are work related but I’ve downloaded all the podcasts from International Freelancer Academy and last night The Art of Value — since I work freelance and am trying to change my business, it’s interesting to hear some industry thought leaders and try and figure out how to apply the things they talk about. I find I can load my iPod and during the week I’ll listen if I walk around the block (which takes about 20 min, it’s a big block) or when I’m cutting the grass/working outside. I’ve also taken some YouTube interviews and stripped the audio out and listened to it like a podcast because I just don’t find two talking heads very interesting to stare at.

        2. Lionness*

          I’m even more confused now. They are recorded radio shows that you stream online?

          1. The IT Manager*

            They could be, but since the internet has become ubiquitous and podcasting easier and popular more individuals are doing it.

            For example, I discovered both this American Life and RadioLab as broadcast radio shows in NPR, but now I consume both as podcasts on my own time on my own device.

            I also listen to Planet Money which is associated with an NPR blog and therefore done by professional journalist, but is not broadcast on the radio. It is only distributed as a podcast.

            I also discovered non-professional podcast by searching for things on the internet. I found the science fiction book review podcast where Luke Burrage review every single science fiction (and now fantasy) book that he reads when he reads it when I went looking for reviews of a 60s era SF book I just finished. Its just a guy and his laptop and a microphone. He doesn’t even edit out any interruptions. Then there’s a husband and wife team that irreverently and hilariously reviews Downton Abbey episodes with lots of in jokes (which listeners are in on). It’s called Up Yours, Downstairs and the tagline is “luncheon, out.”

            Now I use my the podcast app on my iPhone to listen. In the old days, I had an MP3 player and went to podcast websites to download MP3 files and copied them to my MP3 player.

            I never listen to the radio anymore. I always listen to podcasts or audiobooks if I am doing anything that mindless enough for it – driving, cooking, cleaning, walking etc.

          2. Dynamic Beige*

            They could be. They could also be pre-recorded shows someone did in their basement that they’ve posted online — like YouTube videos but in audio format. Ones that are associated with a radio programme will probably have been previously broadcast, like Wait, wait… don’t tell me! But with the ones I posted about, they are entrepreneurs who have recorded these things and are broadcasting them on demand through their website.

            Probably the best thing you could do is go to some of the pages for these podcasts and listen to a few with your web browser. Sometimes, there may be a “download” button below the audio player, which means you can download it to your computer to copy onto your iPod, or just listen to it on your computer without being on the internet to do so. Often, you can use iTunes to download these, for free or for pay, and to subscribe to (which means iTunes will download a new one for you when it becomes available).

      3. Sunshine Brite*

        I use stitcher to listen to them, not sure how they’re posted. I’m sure there’s a paying membership to add content. They’re like radio programs

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          My husband listens to a ton of comedians when we travel in the car and I like Chalene Johnson’s around health/fitness

    2. AmyNYC*

      I powered through the whole back catalog for TAL over a few slow months at work last year, and I’m always looking for not similar story based Podcasts. Right now I’m liking The Memory Palace, 99% Invisable, The Bowery Boys, and Love and Radio (that last one is hit or miss, but when it’s a hit is SUPER engrossing)

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Can I make a counter-recommendation? Based on your recommendation (which I just subscribed to, thanks!) you might like The History Chicks – they choose a woman from history (sometimes fictional women) and do an episode about her.

      1. Al Lo*

        I like the History Chicks for their content, but their production value drives me a little nuts. The other podcasts I listen to (with a mix of professional vs. amateur producers) overall have much better audio quality and production. History Chicks is super interesting, though!

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Yes, they certainly don’t have professional equipment for the History Chicks, but it’s understandable since it’s just something they do in their spare time.

  20. VintageLydia USA*

    I have a me-date tonight to counteract Mommy Burnout. Mr. Vintage has been doing a ton of work travel and his hobbies require him to spend all day out of the house, often overnight trips (off-roading/dirt biking.) I tend to be a homebody in general, but man, dealing with a 2 year old all day every day with a lot less than help I am used to is freaking tough. Add to that Little Vintage refusing to take a nap any earlier than 5PM, if then, and I’m just so freaking done.

    So tonight, I’m going to get drinks and see Pitch Perfect 2 by myself and otherwise not think one mite about what’s going on at home.

    1. Melpo*

      I am full of pitch perfect envy! I had my two-year-old twins by myself this weekend and empathy over here. Enjoy!

  21. Amber Rose*

    For lovers of non-fiction, today I would recommend my favourite author, Will Ferguson. Hitching Rides With Buddha, his tale about hitch hiking from one end of Japan to the other, can be bought in ebook form and is extremely entertaining.

    If you’re a fan of satire, his fiction novel Happiness, about a self-help book that legitimately works and nearly brings about the end of the world, is also a fun read.

    1. fposte*

      I’ve read some of his stuff about Canadianness but I didn’t realize he did more than that (same guy, right?). Good for him–I’ll go look for that.

  22. LOtheAdmin*

    Hi everyone!

    Anybody got any good cookware recommendations?
    All my cheap pots and pans are getting unusable and I’d like to invest in some
    pots/pants and a wok that’ll last awhile, but isn’t expensive enough to make me faint. (Anything above
    200 = too rich for my blood)

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Katie the Fed*

      Oh, do I :)

      First off, I recommend you check out Home Goods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx for seconds. If you live near a Williams Sonoma Outlet they have great deals on high quality cookware – I love All Clad and the Williams Sonoma Thermo Clad line.

      If you’re in western Pennsylvania, there’s an annual All Clad seconds sale going on in a few weeks – things will be 70% or so off regular prices. I’d go if it weren’t 4 hours away.

      So that’s my recommendations for deals for the top-of-the-line stuff. If you want basic but good, the Cuisinart Multi-Clad gets excellent reviews for clad cookware at an excellent price. It’s great stuff. I also like the Sur La Table brand tri-ply cookware, I have a saucier from that line that I absolutely love.

      I also highly recommend you get one really high quality french/dutch oven – Staub or Le Creuset in a 5.5 to 7 quart size. I don’t recommend any other brands on enameled cast iron – they don’t have the warranty or the quality. However, one exception – the Kirkland Signature French Oven at Costco (7 quarts) is made in France most likely by Staub and is really good and has a great warranty. French ovens are fabulous. Trust me, you need one :) If you go with Staub or Le Creuset, check out the outlets and combine with coupons and you can get one under $200. My first Staub was $150 when I was a starving grad student and I love it to this day.

      1. Katie the Fed*

        Oh yeah, you need a cast iron skillet too if you don’t have one. Just a basic one like a Lodge – they’re great. Season that bad boy and enjoy for years.

        I’d avoid nonstick stuff – if you want a skillet or two get a lower-end one. Even the high end ones don’t last very long so they’re not worth the extra money.

        Ah, I love cookware so, so much. Sometimes I try to sneak home a pot and convince my husband it’s something we already had. He hasn’t caught on yet.

      2. BRR*

        I know all of the things you can make in a french/dutch oven but am I missing something? We don’t have one and love to cook but we get along fine without one. I feel like I’m not getting into something I should be into.

        1. Katie the Fed*

          I love braising and stews, and they’re perfect for that. Brown the meat in the pot, add the rest of the ingredients, and simmer on stove or in oven. Plus they’re so pretty – they go from oven to table and look great.

          I find them inspiring – I love to display them and think of delicious, warm winter stews and braises :)

        2. VintageLydia USA*

          Pretty much anything you’d make in a crock pot, you can make in a dutch oven. So if you’ll be home all day, it’s great for that. I’m making a pot roast in mine later today. They’re also just really really versatile. Having just a decent dutch oven and one or two iron skillets will serve nearly all your cooking needs.

          1. Katie the Fed*

            I’ve been pretty unhappy with my crock pot results – I think newer crock pots just cook too hot. The pot roast comes out too stringy. Dutch oven though? Absolute perfection.

            I’ve got a pot of black beans simmering right now in mine for a cuban soup. Yummm.

    2. BRR*

      My school of though is you can get by with a few quality pieces versus a large set.

      First, cast iron is cheap and good. The non-enameled kind like lodge.

      I got a 12-inch stainless steel Cuisinart pan from amazon for around $50. Another option is to wait for the bed bath and beyond 20% coupons. We got a 2 quart stainless steel saucepan for a good deal.

      1. Anx*


        When times were a little better, I bought one All Clad multiuse pot while it was on sale. I love that thing, so, so, so much. It cleans pretty easily, I don’t burn stuff, and I use it pretty much every day. We also have a mini sauce pan (hand me down, American made), a yard sale pan (burns stuff more easily, and a lodge skillet. One day I want a metal, large capacity skillet and then I think I’m done.

    3. K*

      Ditto on Home Goods for reduced-price cookware. I don’t know what you mean by “a while,” but all the pots and pans I’ve bought there are still going strong after 4-5 years. I’m a particular fan of Calphalon. I just threw out my first pan by them, which was $20 when I bought it 7 years ago.

      1. Nina*

        The Home Goods near me is having a sale, so I would definitely check it out. I went there today to buy some pillows and I left with quite a few things.

    4. TalleySueNYC*

      As I get older, I care more about whether the cookware is light enough that I can lift it when it’s full. And I want dishwasher safe.
      I used to be a cookware snob and really loved the stuff like All-Clad; I bought several expensive Calphalon pieces. I loved my Calphalon, but it’s heavy and won’t go in the dishwasher. All Clad is way, way too heavy for me, and the handles are too long for a home stove. I’ve found myself really loving my Tools of the Trade (or was it called Cook’s Choice back then?) from Macy’s that I was given decades ago as a bride and was sort of scornful of because it was more “budget” and not “gourmet.” It’s got a thick bottom, and thin sides, so it’s lighter weight. And the handles are an appropriate length, and it goes in the dishwasher.

      I bought a similarly made pan from the Martha Stewart line–thick bottom, thinner sides, hollow metal handle–and was really upset, because the handle got REALLY hot. Much hotter than the hollow metal handle of my Tools of the Trade cookware. I wouldn’t have expected that; I know the folks who set up the standards for the first Martha cookware/bakeware/etc., and I thought they were pickier than that!

      Some of the sets are OK; the only thing wrong w/ this set is that the saute pan should be 10″ instead of 9.5″; I don’t know why they do that stuff. You’d probably be OK w/ the 9.5″ for almost everything, though.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, interesting–weight is why I skip the cast-iron stuff myself, but All-Clad has been okay for me. However, I’m totally brand ecumenical and generally go with whatever the best thing is in my price range according to America’s Test Kitchen.

    5. CAA*

      Things I look for in cookware:
      – dishwasher safe
      – oven safe
      – skillets/saute pans with lids

      I currently have a Circulon set, which was on a fantastic sale at Costco about 5 years ago. I like most of the pieces, but the downside of buying a set is there’s always some key piece missing and there’s some piece you don’t need.

      1. Sourire*

        Yes to the oven-safe! Make sure you find at least some pieces that can go from stove top to the oven. Non stick coatings can’t get too hot generally and sometimes handles can have materials in them that can’t get too hot without melting and/or releasing nasty (and unhealthy) fumes.

    6. Rebecca*

      Cast iron. I went old school, and am using all my Grandmother’s pans, from the tiny 6″ Erie Griswold, perfect for 2 eggs, all the way up to 10″ pan. I haven’t seasoned the 12 1/2 inch behemoth yet, but I’m going to get around to it. I love that I can make a fritatta and just stick that baby right under the broiler. Plus, clean up is simple, just wipe it out with a paper towel, and I can use whatever utensil I want without worrying I’ll hurt it.

      1. brightstar*

        I love Cast Iron and have a whole bunch in various sizes. Some were given to me my family and other’s I found at garage sales.

        That said, my favorite seasoning tecnique is to cook bacon. cool and cook more bacon. Repeat. Eat delicious bacon.

    7. BAS*

      I’m not sure how much it cost and if it was Costco or Macy’s, but my mom got me a nice stainless copper bottom Emeril brand set of pans!

    8. Blue_eyes*

      We have a Cuisinart set that we got almost four years ago and it’s still going strong. We got it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond. I just did a quick search over there and it looks like the set we have is the Cuisinart 11-piece stainless steel set and it’s going for $160 right now. It’s not a giant set full of things you won’t use, but it has enough that you really don’t need much else (unless you want a cast iron or non-stick pot for a few things).

    9. fluffy*

      I love enameled cast iron, and a lot of the celebrity chefs sponsor a line. I got a Mario Battaglia for a present and it makes the best risotto. The trick is to watch for the celebrities who have lost their luster. My favorite pot is a Guy Fieri, which was on the final clearance shelf a while after that horrible review of his NYC restaurant. Wish I had gone back for the Paula Deene

  23. jhhj*

    Oooh, books.

    Anyone with middle grade aged kids — especially but not exclusively daughters (nieces, granddaughters) — you really need to pick up Ursula Vernon’s _Castle Hangnail_ which I have been recommending everywhere I go, I consider the book essentially perfect. Molly is today’s Turtle Wexler.

    Right now I am reading _A God in Ruins_, a companion novel to Kate Atkinson’s fantastic _Life After Life_. (I loved her earlier books, especially _Human Croquet_, but was unimpressed with her Jackson Brodie mysteries.)

    1. fposte*

      I once thought about using Turtle Wexler as my forum handle on another forum. I may yet use it–I love Turtle.

      1. jhhj*

        I regret that my cat came to me with a name because she would be a perfect Tabitha-Ruth.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      I loved ‘Life after life’ – am excited about ‘A God in Ruins’! One of my favourite books ever is ‘Scenes behind the Museum’ and I also enjoy her Jackson Brodie ones – I wish she’d write another as it’s been a few year since the last one.

    3. Beezus*

      Kid books – I just finished reading 13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau with my 9 year old. It has historical fiction and a mystery and time travel all in one…I can’t recommend it enough.

  24. LCL*

    So stoked! Going to the new Mad Max movie tonight! I am this close to getting a buzz cut, if it wouldn’t result in me being single.
    I read that George Miller was a doctor who did some ER work before he became a director. Is this true?

    1. PersonallyAssisting*

      I believe you’re right about George Miller being a doctor before film making, just like Jonathan LaPaglia, actor-brother of Anthony.

    2. thisit*

      omg, i saw it on friday night and loved it. and i’m not usually a fan of the non-stop action. just some brilliant cinematography, world-building, stunts, etc.

  25. Noah*

    So, apparently the rumor about everything in Alaska being pricey is true. This week, my job asked me to move to Anchorage within the next six months. I started looking at housing costs and movers to get ready. Not only are apartments expensive, but they almost all want first/last months rent and a full month for a security deposit. Around here it is usually a $100-250 security deposit and first month rent.

    On top of all that there is the cost of moving all my junk up there, seriously considering selling almost everything, loading up my Jeep with clothing and sentimental items, and just buying all new furniture and stuff when I arrive. The other option is to put lots of stuff into storage because I’m not sure I will be living there for more than a year or two anyways.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Where do you live where security is $100-250?! I’ve never heard of that, and I’ve lived on both coasts and the midwest. Where is this magical place you speak of??

      Btw, congrats on the transfer (promotion?)! I would purge 70-90% of your stuff and only bring the stuff you truly love.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Your comment cracked me up, because I thought the same thing, but then I remembered my own house-hunt. One apartment complex here offered two security options: one-month’s rent refundable deposit or $99 non-refundable. As in, you just pay $100 and you’re done. I was like, “Where AM I???” Many others tiered the deposit based on your credit score. Those were mostly complexes– houses and private apartments all ask for one month’s rent as security.

        I am pretty surprised about the last month’s rent thing. I’ve only ever paid security and first month’s rent, in NYC and everywhere else I’ve lived.

        1. Natalie*

          In quite a few states, you aren’t allowed to ask for more than first month’s + deposit. That’s probably why you haven’t encountered it.

      2. straw poll*

        I live in a nice apartment now in the South and the deposit was $200, which I believe I get back when I move our if I don’t wreck the place. My last place I lived, I paid $500 and it was refundable. I will say that my current place does verify your income and you have to make three times the monthly rent to be able to live here.

      3. Noah*

        Both Oklahoma and Las Vegas have been very low deposits for apartments. Rental houses are normally higher though.

        My current apartment charged a $50 redecorating fee which is non-refundable but means you get to choose what color of paint you want the accent walls to be, plus a $100 refundable deposit. When I moved in I paid my first full month’s rent and the extra $150 dollars. Then the next month I paid the prorated rent from the previous month, which wasn’t much because I moved in on the 21st.

        I do have reasonably good credit, and I’ve never been late on rent. I know the complexes around here usually verify income and rental history.

      4. jhhj*

        In Quebec you’re not allowed to charge last month’s rent or a security deposit at all, you can only ask for first month’s rent when you sign the lease.

      5. A Little Green*

        I live in city surrounded by several universities in neighboring cities, so there are ALWAYS really good deals on move in costs. Its a north/midwest area, and the most I’ve personal ever paid for rental myself was first month plus security which was half the first month.

        I’ve paid as low as $99 with first month free to move in! (and no catch, a 12 month lease, not a 13)

        I’ve seen first + last + security based on credit (so ranging from as low as $99 to as much as = rent amount)

        But it’s not a fairytale!! lol

      6. Valar M.*

        Also lived all over. Most places I’ve lived don’t require any security. They are the big apartment firms though, so they can shoulder the risk. And its with the understanding that if things aren’t ship-shape when you leave, then you’ll be getting a bill. I’ve never had an issue.

    2. thisit*

      surely if they ask you to move, they have to help you? at least with packing up and/or paying for storage?

      also, fwiw, i’m looking for an apt in a city in which not only do you pay first month’s rent at signing (and possibly last month’s), but also a security deposit equal to 3 months’ rent. how do people have this kind of money sitting around??

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Woah, 3 months security?! That’s insane, which city? What is the monthly rent? Is it a roommate/pet/child situation or another situation where they expect a lot of damage?

        Honestly, at that point, it’s to screen out poor people. You know the recommendation , 3-6 months of expenses in liquid savings. So if you have the savings, they want you to rent there. If not, then you won’t even bother to apply. What we did is we added to the deposit each time we upgraded/moved. My husband paid 1 month/$600 on his first apartment, then we used that toward our next apartment’s 1 month/$1000 deposit, and then we took that and used it towards our 1.5 month/$1600 rent. It’s just money that sits, unused. But you do get interest on it!!

      2. Noah*

        They will offer relocation assistance. Just a matter of figuring out the various costs so we can negotiate on exactly how much vs. how much of a salary increase it will be.

        1. thisit*

          ok, that’s helpful! definitely the shipping of things, but also maybe a relocation grant up front for things you have to buy. and the cost of a realtor?

    3. Audrey*

      I remember when I booked to go to Alaska, somebody told me, “The currency in Alaska is US dollars. Just lots of them.”

  26. Cath in Canada*

    I’ve been lamenting how hard it is to find really nice stationery in Canada, compared to the UK. There are high-street retailers in the UK who sell beautiful and fun arrays of cardboard file folders, pencil cases, etc – but everything in the equivalent shops here in Vancouver (and even at places like Staples) is plain, boring, dull, and utilitarian. I ended up ordering some felt document pouches and a felt pencil case from Etsy a couple of weeks ago, and they arrived today! It’s so nice to have some pretty things, and I’ve been happily filing various projects into different coloured folders.

    Now to hide them from the cats so they don’t get covered in fur. At least not yet. Some fur is inevitable, on every object in my house, even those kept in rooms from which the cats are barred.

    1. Shell*

      Can I put in a vote for fountain pens? It’s not actually stationery, but it’s related?

      I don’t even remember how I discovered these things eight-odd years ago, but I love them now. Kind of pointless for me since I type everything nowadays (my abhorrent handwriting!), but I still love them.

      They’d go well with your stationery…and there’s a billion pretty ink colours… :D

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I have a Parker fountain pen! I got it in the UK a few years ago. I actually used fountain pens all through school, after a rather eccentric teacher I had when I was 8 would only let us use pencils or fountain pens. I missed having one when my old one broke, and they’re (surprise surprise) hard to find here, unless you go to a high-end specialist shop and buy something crazy expensive. In the UK you can pick up a cheap but decent pen and cartridges in those same high-street retail places. I stock up on cartridges on every trip back to the UK, and get my sister to send replacements if I run out.

        I want to get some more, and buy lots of different colours of ink cartridges.

        1. Shell*

          Does your Parker not take a converter? I have converters in my pens and then I just buy bottle(s) of pretty ink. Mind you, since I don’t write too much nowadays I don’t use up the ink all that fast, but it sounds like you write more than I do.

          And yeah, fountain pens are pretty expensive here. I have two Metros which are cheap and pretty and write well, but generally in NA we’re expected to drop at least $30 for an entry level pen, which makes me sad. :(

        2. jhhj*

          There are a bunch of stores here. Lamy is a great lowish-price pen, though I have a hand injury that killed off my ability to use them well.

        3. Cristina in England*

          I remember having the opposite problem when I left Montreal, I couldn’t get any of my French gridded notebooks anymore! That’s also where I bought my first cheap fountain pen.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I think I saw a couple of those stores, but I stayed out of them because OMG I WANT ALL THE THINGS. Even though I tried to limit my shopping this past visit. I still ended up cramming the suitcase with things. One book? Nah, three will fit in there! Especially since Hatchard’s had a Paddington I didn’t have !

    3. Delyssia*

      I’m in the US, and it’s the same here. Probably the biggest thing I miss about Borders bookstores is that they carried UK stationery stuff. Not just paper, but pencil cases and passport cases and even wallets and stuff.

      Oh, oh, oh! I just googled the brand that Borders carried (Paperchase), which last time I checked wasn’t available in the US after Borders went out of business, but they now have an online US store!!! If you’ll excuse me, I’ll be busy for the rest of the evening. :)

      1. BAS*

        If you ever go to London, there is a huge Paperchase store outside the Googe St tube station. It is a thing of stationary dreams.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      That’s so funny–when I was in Vancouver I saw a number of cute stationery shops! (I mean, that was years ago, but still!) Have you been to Buchan’s in Kerrisdale or Zing in W Vancouver? I also loved Signed and Sealed in Kits.

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I live in deepest darkest East Van, so I haven’t spotted those stores in the fancier neighbourhoods! I might have to go on an expedition now though :)

    5. BAS*

      I WISH North America had proper Paperchase stores. They are the retail place of my dreams and I always spend way too much every time I step into one.

    6. BAS*

      Also, I know you probably can’t get to their brick & mortars, but Sugar Paper and Paper Source have some great stuff.

  27. Sci-fi Space Operas*

    Anyone got recs for space operas? I’m a huge fan of the genre, and it feels like I’ve gone through a lot of the more mainstream recs: Star Wars expanded universe stuff (almost all of it), Vorkosigan Saga, Liaden Universe, Culture. I’ve also read just about everything by Isaac Asimov.

    Knowing these, what works would you recommend in a similar vein? I love underdogs overcoming unlikely odds, creative world-building, and anything to do with robots/artificial intelligence.

    1. Kyrielle*

      Elizabeth Moon’s “Serrano’s Legacy” series, starting with Hunting Party.

      Possibly also her “Vatta’s War” series, starting with Trading in Danger. I think these may be in the same setting as the first series, and they were written later, so start with Serrano unless you don’t care for it.

      David Brin’s Uplift Saga, starting with Sundiver, possibly.

      I don’t know if you’d like Amy Thomson’s The Color of Distance or not – it’s a first-contact book and might be too soft for your tastes. (If you do, the sequel is not nearly as good, as a warning. Luckily, it’s also not necessary to get a complete story out of it.)

      Possibly Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game, although I hesitate to suggest it because I hate it with a fiery passion because it was so well done, and so twisted and dark; those two things in combination were not my favorite. It feels wrong to not-list it just because it did its job so well it scarred me, though. :P

      Have you read Niven? If not, Ringworld is a good starting place.

      1. Sci-fi Space Operas*

        Thank you for these recs! I’ve only read Ender’s Game out of all those, so that’ll be a good list for me to check out. :)

        1. Nashira*

          Yeah. Ender’s Game is well written, but the author being so unpleasant has made his work unreadable for me.

          1. The IT Manager*

            Hmmm! I was super-unimpressed with Ender’s Game. I suspect that a large number of the people who it read it as kids or young adults. I read it in my late 20s and watched the movie around 40. It’s like the moral if the story is that adults are lying assholes, and I can see how that might appeal to kids convinced that they know everything.

            I actually found the sequel which is an entirely different first contact story to be good though.

      2. reader*

        Ringworld is really good! If you like that you might also like The Witches of Karres by James H. Schmidt. There are two more books written by others but they’re really faithful to the original in tone. They are all really a lot of fun.

    2. Clever Name*

      You’ve probably read it, but Dune is good. Haven’t read the sequels, though.

      1. Sci-fi Space Operas*

        I’ve always heard mixed reviews for Dune so I’ve held back, but it’s probably famous enough that I should just dive in on it at some point. Thanks!

    3. Liane*

      Not quite space opera, more traditional military SF, but Tanya Huff’s Confederation novels are great! They have a female protagonist, Gunnery Sgt. Torin Kerr and some very well-done alien species.
      Valor’s Choice (Based off the historical Zulu War)
      Better Part of Valor
      Heart of Valor
      Valor’s Trial
      Truth of Valor
      An Ancient Peace (Oct. 2015)

      1. Sci-fi Space Operas*

        Ooh, I’d be into military SF as well, especially with a good female protagonist. Thanks a lot for the rec!

        1. Elsajeni*

          Then the Honor Harrington series by David Weber, which Meadowsweet mentioned below, would also be up your alley! They’re military SF with some space opera-y elements, following the career of one officer (Honor) as she rises in the ranks; the series is kind of modeled on the Horatio Hornblower stories, if you’ve read any of those. The first one is On Basilisk Station.

        2. Elsajeni*

          Oh — and, if you have any interest in the Warhammer 40K universe, my husband strongly recommends the Enforcer trilogy by Matthew Farrer. They’re basically sci-fi police procedurals — he is describing them as “Judge Dredd in space” — about a female officer solving crimes and kicking ass. He says he wouldn’t recommend them unless you know at least a little about the setting, though.

    4. Anx*

      Not a book, and possibly not quite a space opera, but the reboot for Battlestar Galactica is pretty good.

    5. katamia*

      Simon R Green’s Deathstalker books. They’re very over the top (as is pretty much everything he’s ever written), but I like over the top so I’m rather fond of them.

      1. Sci-fi Space Operas*

        Thanks! I’ll give them a try. I like over-the-top if it’s done in a fun, campy way.

    6. Meadowsweet*

      Jack Campbell – The Lost Fleet series
      David Weber – Honor Harrington series
      I’ve heard good things about Ancilliary Justice (Ann Leckie) but haven’t had a chance to read it yet
      seconding Tanya Huff too

      1. Nashira*

        Ann Leckie is amazing, and Ancillary Justice and Ancillary Sword are two of my favorite books of all time. She’s up there with Octavia Butler for me.

    7. LCL*

      Let’s see, I was heavily into that just post high school, some authors
      John Varley
      Vernor Vinge
      Frederick Pohl’s Gateway series
      Roger Zelazny Doorways in the Sand a one off not a series but one of my favorite books and got it autographed!
      Alan Dean Foster, though some stories have rather retro sexist details
      Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover with the caution some very unsavory facts and allegations have recently been revealed about her. So unsavory I wouldn’t search her name on a work computer.
      CJ Cherryh
      And, just go to the used bookstore and look in the anthology section. Start with ‘Carmen Miranda’s Ghost is haunting space station three’

    8. jhhj*

      Ancillary Justice is the (Hugo, Nebula, Clarke, BFSA winner) start of a new trilogy (book 2, Ancillary Sword, is out; book 3, Ancillary Mercy, is due out this fall). It’s fantastic space opera with a great world and definitely involves AI. Strong, strong rec.

    9. I used to think I had a porpoise*

      Real quick:

      Peter F. Hamilton has several different space operas. His _Night’s Dawn_ trilogy is quite good – it kind steps into Stephen King Territory.

      Dan Simmons’ _Hyperion_ books.

      Vernor Vinge’s _Fire in the Deep_ books. Also: check out _Marooned in Real-time_, which isn’t space opera but you’ll get the same kind of good feelings from it.

      Greg Bear’s books _Eon_ and _The Forge of God_ are the starting points of a couple of things that could be considered space opera.

      Charles Stross’ _Iron Sunrise_ books are a lot of fun.

      Stephen Baxter’s _Xeelee_ novels.

      George R. R. Martin wrote some very good space opera stuff back in the 70s. Look for _Tuf Voyaging_, _Sandkings_, and _A Song for Lya_.

      Cordwainer Smith’s _Instrumentality of Mankind_ books might appeal to you. You may wish to start with _Norstrilia_. If a desert planet full of giant diseased sheep that produce an immortality drug reminds you of any other books that were published a year or two later? I’m sure it’s just coincidence.

      Oh – Richard K. Morgan’s _Altered Carbon_ books might make you happy.

      There’s also Alistair-somebody and Neal Asher, but they don’t do much for me.

      Oh, gee – Gregory Benford’s _Galactic Center_ books – I think there’s like 7 or 8 of them – vary in quality but are conceptually rather interesting.

      Harry Harrison’s _Stainless Steel Rat_ books are kind of a ‘lite’ space opera. Good fun.

      I’m sure I’ll think of more after I hit Submit. If I remeber anything totally kick-ass, I’ll follow up.

      1. Hattie McDoogal*

        Seconding Dan Simmons and Vernor Vinge (“A Deepness in the Sky” > “A Fire Upon the Deep” but they’re both excellent).

        If by “Alistair Somebody” you mean Alastair Reynolds, them’s fighting words — he’s one of my absolute faves. :) Even when I don’t like the plots of his novels much (and there have been a few that are fairly half-baked) I always love the world building.

    10. FatBigot*

      Charlie Stross:

      Singularity Sky (2003, ISBN 0-441-01072-5)
      Iron Sunrise (2004, ISBN 1-84149-335-X)

      Saturn’s Children (2008, ISBN 0-441-01594-8)
      “Bit Rot”, short story in Engineering Infinity (2010, ISBN 1-907-51952-1)
      Neptune’s Brood (2013, ISBN 0-425-25677-4)

      Then you may be ready for the spy-techno-horror of the Laundry series, starting with The Atrocity Archives (2004, ISBN 1-930846-25-8; also contains the extra story The Concrete Jungle, Best Novella winner, 2005 Hugo Awards)

      1. Rene UK*

        Yes, I like the Laundry Files…although it’s definitely not relaxing reading!

        I’ve heard that ‘Old Man’s War’ and the other books in the series by John Scalzi is very good.

        The Lensman series is supposedly very good, but it’s pretty old and a bit on the dated side.

        1. Helka*

          Old Man’s War is fantastic, as are the sequels. I highly recommend them. Some of Scalzi’s other writing, I didn’t care for so much — Android’s Dream seemed very twee and shallow — but OMW is a must-read for sci-fi fans, in my opinion.

      1. Delyssia*

        I’ve only done undergrad, and I’ve just paid off my loans at the age of 38. My parents also took out some loans for my education that they paid.

        So I can pretty easily see how student loans can go on forever. :(

    1. straw poll*

      That is an awesome accomplishment! It’s so good to debt-free. There is no feeling like it, I swear. :)

    2. Delyssia*

      Thanks all! I didn’t realize what a relief it would be to no longer have student loan debt, but it’s a great feeling. :)

  28. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    We’re renovating our bathroom this weekend. DIY is fun, but exhausting and stressful.

    Replacing an entire floor, plus wet walls, is a complicated business.

  29. Pennalynn Lott*

    I just did the full Fluff-and-Primp for the first time in over three months. Shower, blow dry, makeup, and running a hot straightening iron through my hair. And it took THREE HOURS. I can’t believe I used to do this every day. Or that there was a time in my life when I wouldn’t leave the house without makeup. Good gravy, I don’t have time for this nonsense anymore! :-)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I haven’t had my hair straightened/blown out in a very long time. When I did– and it looks REALLY different– people would always say, “OMG, you should do that every day!” Psssh. I don’t have time for that. And after 25 years of wearing makeup, that’s down to a 10-minute science. :)

    2. BAS*

      Now that I work for a virtual HR company, I can’t believe how I did my hair/makeup/outfit ON POINT every day when I was a personal shopper. Our office has a “wear clean clothes” dress code and it is so nice on days you feel crummy to just put on leggings, a random top, and a zip-up hoodie before putting your clean hair in a ponytail and ignoring all the makeup. I’ve even worn slippers to work(well, fancy Ugg moccasin slippers [and it was one slipper, when my foot was broken and I didn’t mean to wear it. I just forgot to change shoes before I went to work!]).

  30. Kyrielle*

    Anyone else into (or starting into) sous vide cooking?

    I’m seriously incompetent at steaks in any other method, but they’re edible with this one!

    1. Marcela*

      Yup, my husband started about 6 months ago, when we moved to our new place and could dedicate a table to his cooker. His approach was very simple: he bought a slow cooker, a water pump (those for aquariums) and something whose name I don’t know (but I can ask if you want to know) to keep the temperature stable turning on and off the slow cooker.

      He said the recipes are easily Googleable, so almost every weekend we eat something he cooked the day before. Even the cheapest meat is very delicious, soft. Sometimes he just cooks the meat and other times he uses it in normal recipes, so he can give it a crusty or golden exterior to steak, for example, with a red interior. Or in a Japanese recipe we love with marinated chicken covered in flour and nori, and then deep fried, sometimes he worries that the chicken is not well cooked but the exterior burns a little, so now he replaces the raw chicken with the sous vide cooked one.

      Ah, right. I forgot to add that something very useful to have is a vacuum sealer. It’s not only useful to cook, but to keep things frozen. I don’t think the bags are super expensive and they last a ton.

      1. Kyrielle*

        Yes, I’m loving the vacuum sealer aspect. I started with freezer Ziplocs to reduce investment if I didn’t care for it, but once I was sure I did – I wanted the vacuum sealer. Especially before my first more-than-an-hour recipe. (24 hour chuck…edible. Actually edible. Win.)

        And thank you for the suggestion for using it in recipes where the interior may not cook completely – I love that!

    2. Al Lo*

      We got sous vide cooker a year ago and love it. It makes great meats, and surprisingly, really, really good eggs. The texture of sous vide eggs is better than any other way I’ve ever had them cooked. We really haven’t used it to its fullest potential yet, but definitely go through spurts where we use it very often.

  31. Empsk*

    I just finished Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel, which is an astonishingly beautiful post-apocalyptic (in this case a flu that wipes out almost everyone in the world) novel about a traveling symphony/ theater troupe that preform Shakespeare up and down the shores of Lake Michigan for the remaining settlements. It might be the best thing I’ve read all year. And I’ve been thinking about what I would miss and be unable to explain to future generations, should some terrible disaster propel us into a world with no electricity, internet, airtravel. I’m not sure, but it might be the little pots of pre-sliced mango that I buy from the supermarket for my lunch. Post-apocalyptic London will have no mangoes, no supermarkets. I very much doubt it will have lunch breaks.

    What about you? Say you survive the Plague/ Bomb/ Rising Seas – what commonplace item will you miss the most?

    1. Rebecca*

      Station Eleven – I think I saw that on Amazon (?), and didn’t read it, so thanks for the tip!

      I’d miss freezers and refrigeration the most. It’s so easy to freeze fruit, vegetables, and meat for use later, or just toss them in the fridge for short term storage, but post electricity? That won’t exist unless I could find a propane powered unit, like the Amish have, and even that would run out of fuel eventually. We’d have to go back to drying meat, or home canning, and again, what happens when you run out of lids, and there are no more glass topped jars with rubber rings?

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I dunno, I think saying “We had so much and were so comfortable that we could pay to have people pre-slice foods for us and buy them like that in small packages” isn’t so weird. I think the hardest thing to explain would be the Internet, that we could contact anyone at any time, and look up anything. That would be hard to really understand how it impacts your everyday life if you’ve never had it. I mean, I can work from anywhere as long as I have an internet connection. That would seem pretty weird in a world where sustenance is the main concern. Incidentally, I think “Revolution” handled this really well for the first season or two, but I have since lost interest in the increasingly convoluted plot.

      And thanks for mentioning the book, I just put a hold on the ebook at my library. :)

      1. Rene UK*

        I liked the first season of Revolution too, although it bugged me that after 15 years some things were too backwards and some things weren’t enough. That there were no steam engines was hard to believe, considering that there are all kinds of clubs for that.

    3. Marcela*

      Internet. I use it to talk to my brother at the end of the world. Actually it has been very, very hard all the times we have moved and we need to get use to the new time zone, which can be as good as having 0 or 2 hours of difference, to having 12 hours of difference.

    4. Lore*

      Glasses. I’m approaching cataract surgery and my prescription is changing fast enough I’m constantly aware of it. Not being able to see or adjust my reading/distance vision would mess me up big time.

  32. NBF*

    I need packing tips and or/packing motivation tips.

    My moving date is just over a month away, but I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff in the time I’ve lived here. I’m doing a long distance move using movers and stuff will be in storage for awhile as well, so it needs to be packed well. I also need to sort through what I don’t want in storage ’cause I’ll have to move that myself.

    I’m thinking about having a garage sale so I have less to move, so I guess I’d welcome any garage sale tips as well.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You have at least a month, right? You can do it in two ways: pack for 30 minutes every day, then reward yourself. You can do anything for 30 minutes! Or even 15. Or pack at the last minute, like I do, because then you won’t live among boxes and you won’t worry so much about where things are going, they’ll just… GO.

      I swear, though– my next move will include professional packers. I don’t care if I move interstate or down the block, I am not packing up my stuff. So I sympathize with you!

    2. Anx*

      Yard sale is a great place to start, but also consider shedding things that you don’t really use or want anymore even if you paid money for it and COULD get money for it some day, but not by the time you move.

      I don’t have a lot of money, so it can be tempting to hold on to things ‘in case i can get some money for it,’ but things cost money to move, store, and maintain.

      I would consider having a garage sale and giving yourself enough time to have a follow up week of trying one more time to unload bigger ticket items one by one if you have time or are up for it.

      Also give yourself enough time after the sale to unload some of the leftovers. Decide where to donate and check to see if they really want what you’d have. Hopefully wait for a sunny day to put other items on the curb for scavengers.

    3. Marcela*

      If you are willing to and are in the US, maybe Craigslist and/or ebay are another options. That way you can start selling stuff right now, without having to dedicate a full day to it.

    4. Treena Kravm*

      Ugh. I feel ya. I’m less than 6 weeks away, and I have a week-long trip coming up, so it’s more like 5 weeks. We’re definitely doing a yard sale because we have to get rid of loads of stuff. But we’re also being super picky about what goes into storage. When in doubt, throw it out. Seriously, it’s a mantra I have to repeat but it’s so important.

      I start by making the process streamlined. I create a packing station, with tape, markers, etc. and clear a space for packed boxes. I’m turning one room into the “yard sale” room and another into the “packed boxes” room. Then I’m going room by room, so there’s not a mess in every room. That’s what I can’t stand during moving. The clutter, ugh. I’m going to start in the bedroom I think because there’s almost nothing in there, then things like china and books. The best thing I do is go through drawers/clutter depositories. Every item is either garbage, goes into a specific place, or gets packed.

      1. Beezus*

        Every item is either garbage, goes into a specific place, or gets packed.

        This! I go through with three containers – one for trash, one for donations, and a box for packing. I make an immediate decision on each item and don’t allow myself to waffle. If I don’t use or really love an item, I shed it.

    5. The IT Manager*

      The garage sale is worth a try, but I wouldn’t expect very much from it. I think you may be late for Craig’s list too based on what some commenters here have mentioned about buyers flaking out and not showing up. You have a month left and very little time. Just start donating or throwing things out that you don’t want to move.

    6. another IT manager*

      Unf*** your habitat has some packing advice, but I think the thing that works best for me is just to pack for 20 minutes, take a ten minute break, and go pack for twenty minutes. I use an online interval timer with different sounds for “break” and “get back to work!” and it works pretty well. I was using two timers for the longest time, but I found that if I missed/ignored the alarm, I couldn’t tell how much longer I’d been loafing.

  33. straw poll*

    For a single person who has never owner a home before does a condo or single-family home make more sense?

    I would prefer a house (for the resale value, having a yard, etc) but most of my single friends started out with condos before they got married and moved into houses. I’ve noticed that condos in my area seem to be harder to sell as well. But really – how much more work is a house than a condo?

    Another issue is that I have been having trouble finding a house that is in a neighborhood that I like and that has all the things I want (3 beds, 2 baths, and am attached garage) that is in my ideal budget range. Any advice???

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      I’ve never had a condo, but if you don’t want a condo, don’t buy one. I had a coworker stuck with hers for like over an extra year and sold it at a loss. I know that happens with houses, but I know in my area condos don’t have the best resale values. It’s not always the case, I do have another coworker who is looking at selling soon and would likely make a profit.

      1. Sunshine Brite*

        But, back in the single life condo was a goal of mine because it was likely to have an on-site handyman. Plus you’d need to balance the intrusion of a HOA

          1. Natalie*

            All condos have some sort of condo board, though, which is basically an HOA. That’s what makes them condos.

      2. AnnieNonymous*

        That’s a good point – I don’t know many people who buy condos as a final stop. They always intend to eventually buy a house. When I was younger, I knew quite a few people who bought condos after getting inheritances; that was the most they could get for that amount of money, but they would have bought houses if they could.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I don’t know many people who buy condos as a final stop.

          Downsizers. It’s kind of common up here for people of retirement age to sell the house and move into a condo or apartment, especially when they feel they just can’t keep up with the yard work any more, or going up and down stairs. A family member was robbed while away for a long time visiting her children. They sold the house, moved into an apartment downtown and love it, everything is within walking distance and when they go visit the kids, they just lock the door and go.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      After a few bad experiences with apartments (namely, the noise from neighbors), I wouldn’t live in any kind of attached housing ever again if I could help it.

    3. Colette*

      I suspect there a relationship between not finding what you want in your price range and buying condos. If you want to go the house route, pick what’s most important – you may need to compromise.

      For both condos and houses, ask yourself who maintains the yard (lawn mowing, snow removal), who replaces the windows and roof, etc. Make sure you understand what the condo company would do for you, and really think about how much time and money you can devote to it.

      Personally, I went the house route, but I can see the appeal of a condo.

    4. BRR*

      It sounds like you’re going to have to make a compromise somewhere. Either a single-family home, neighborhood, or specs. Have you considered a townhouse? What about a different neighborhood? Houses will include more maintenance or more costs if you pay somebody else to do it.

      1. Elsajeni*

        I went the townhouse route and I’m pretty happy with it, even though I never thought I would like a townhouse! The trick for me was finding a neighborhood where the townhouse lots were split up and sold to different builders — my house is the same as one of my neighbors, only flipped left-to-right, but the other ones on our street are all visibly different. I hated the developments full of rows of creepy identical Camazotz houses.

    5. Sandy*

      A condo doesn’t have to mean an apartment. Ours looks like a townhouse, has a yard, a garage, etc. but is governed like a condo, so we pay condo fees and someone takes care of all the nitty-gritty, like snow shovelling, finding someone to repair the roof/fence/windows, etc.

      I should add that we owned a house before we moved into this condo. I would say that if you are budgeting *properly* for repairs, the cost of that versus condo fees is about the same.

      The difference for us is the time. I woke up one morning in the house and had water pouring into the guest room. In the end, I had to take three or four days off work to deal with 1) finding a guy to fix it (plumber? Roof guy? I had no idea what the problem even was…) 2) comparing quotes and diagnoses 3) actually getting the guy in to carve up the curling and figure out the problem 4) fix the problem 5) repair the ceiling and walls from the carving and repaint. All stuff that now gets handled by the condo board’s management company.

    6. NBF*

      I was in a similar boat when I bought my place 5 years ago. I was single, wanted a yard, garage, and wasn’t keen on having neighbours through the walls. I was also concerned about resale value because I knew I would likely be relocating down the road.

      I looked at a couple townhouses, but am still very pleased that I went with a single family home. Not having kids, I ended up buying a home in one of the nicest, newer neighbourhoods in a less desirable school district. That helped me a bit on price. I love having a yard that I can take care of myself, and change however I want (townhouses don’t typically offer that flexibility). I also have wonderful neighbours but there’s enough distance to have privacy. And the resale has just recently turned out great for me. I also had friends who have had difficulty selling condos, but I put my house up for sale and had two offers in four days, and got asking price which was a fair bit higher than I paid five years ago. It is true that houses are more work than condos, but if you keep an emergency budget and enjoy doing some of that work yourself then I think a house is worth it.

      1. straw poll*

        Thanks everyone for your feedback and thoughts. You all have convinced me that a house is the way for me to go. I don’t have any kids yet, so the point about buying in a different neighborhood where the schools aren’t great is well-taken.

          1. in VT*

            It does eliminate some buyers, but I had no trouble selling despite the lower quality school in my area. As long as the neighbourhood is otherwise ideal, their are lots of childless people or people with grown children who won’t care, and will take advantage of the slightly lower prices.

    7. Seal*

      My condo is essentially a duplex in a development that has 10 identical buildings, so I only share a wall with my neighbors I bought it went I moved to another part of the country almost a decade ago after renting for most of my adult life. The pros – no landlord, no yard work, and not having to deal with issues related to the exterior of the building. The cons – occasional issues with parking (people parking in my assigned spaces), occasional issues with the neighbors, and not having a true yard or garden to call my own.

      Also and perhaps unique to me is that after so many years as a renter I find that I still tend to behave like a tenant when it comes to my condo. For example, I’ve been dragging my feet on painting and replacing the carpet for years because in the back of my head I think that the landlord will do it. Despite having a washer and dryer in my unit I still do laundry only once a week, although I no longer hoard quarters. I did replace some light fixtures and a ceiling fan when I moved in, but just realized that I held onto the originals thinking I would put them back when I moved.

      I plan to move closer to home within the year and preferably by the end of the calendar year. Since I live in a college town I plan to hold onto this place as an investment and rent it out, something that is much easier to do with a condo. My preference for the next place I live is a house with a yard, mostly because I want a real garden as opposed to a container garden.

  34. Anx*

    I’ve posted a few questions about taxes and insurance here before, and I have a bit of an update, in case anyone else is having similar issues navigating this new tax/insurance landscape.

    Background info: I have been on the individual market for as long as a can remember. I was on a crappy plan that didn’t cover some the things I would most likely need, but it was affordable with a negligible deductible and a good network. It’s been cancelled by the ACA. The cheapest plan I can get is $250 with a very high deductible; I absolutely cannot swing it without a subsidy. I live in a state without Medicaid expansion. I also live in a state which outlaws cohabitation, which complicates my healthcare and tax situation. So while I’ve been completely financially dependent on my boyfriend (who makes enough to pay income taxes but not a lot), we have not been able to claim me as a dependent. This increases our tax liability and means that we cannot use our joint income to claim as household income, which means I have to try to come up with enough income on my own.

    Last year, I applied for new coverage the week I got hired for a job where theoretically I could make the FPL, but ended up getting laid off. So I have a small repayment fine but was able to afford health insurance.

    This year I made the mistake of updating my information and that triggered an income verification. IF I get hired within 3 months at a full-time job, I can make the minimum amount to qualify. However, they want me to submit current proof of income. I can’t prove income I don’t have yet, but they told me to make my ‘best guess.’ My last paycheck multiplied by 12 puts me well under 12,000 a year. But if I get hired at the average starting salary full-time, I will be fine. If I get close to that, I can always sell some stuff and start up a second business. I don’t mind paying a little more income tax on money I don’t really have if keeps me insured, but I can’t afford to pay taxes on a full 12,000 dollars if I don’t actually have substantial income, which could happen if I get laid off or am not hired for fall or can’t find a better job (I’m graduating this summer).

    Has anyone had any experience with income verification? Especially as a student? How long do you think they’ll take to get back to me? I am afraid I will lose my advanced credit, putting the insurance out of reach. Then, if I actually DO earn enough, I will have more than 3 months uninsured, so I’d be ineligible for it completely. So knowing that I need to keep myself insured in order to qualify for help with insurance, it seems like when you can’t predict the future, the responsible thing to do is to estimate the possibility that gives you the option to stay insured. I worry that they’ll take months to accept my verification, while I’m stuck in limbo wondering whether or not I should stay insured?

    As an aside, I am so over this roller coaster. My entire family was desperate for more affordable insurance, and the ACA has failed to really help any of us (we’re all in some sort of a coverage gap for a different reason). I am thinking that I’m pretty young and in good health, so I should just drop it. I think I have some sort of issue letting go of coverage, because I’ve been paying for it for almost 8 years without really having needed it and great personal expense. So it’s like admitting I’ve wasted my money all these years. But someone in my family was just recently diagnosed with cancer, and their lack of real insurance seems like it may be a death sentence, so I’m a little shy about it. I think it’s just a luxury I need to admit I cannot afford.

    (This is especially trying because we had just worked out a tight, but workable budget that would allow us to live through the summer without borrowing any money and letting me do an internship and some volunteer experience. Now it looks like I’ll be trying to work as many hours as possible which means a lot of job applications for cash now instead of working on launching a career. It’s also a bit frustrating paying into a system that isn’t there when you need it).

    1. Treena Kravm*

      First, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. It sounds absolutely horrible.

      Second, I have to say this as someone who works in public health: The ACA has not failed to help you. Your home state (and maybe a little bit the Supreme Court) has failed you. Please remember that–I know it sucks, but the law really does work–your state said no thanks to the money it was offered to pay for your insurance free and clear.

      Ok, solution time. This may not be available in your state, but call your local Federally Qualified Health Center. It’s usually the community clinic or low-cost clinic. They usually have enrollment specialists that will guide you through the process and are specially trained to help with these situations. You can also find enrollment specialists at other locations, but it’s easiest to find one at a clinic.

      I would be wary of taking specific advice from anyone but an enrollment specialist (including me!), but the only thing I can think of is–is there any way you can get married? I recall you saying your boyfriend being unable to declare you as a dependent has been a problem in other areas, or maybe just this one? If I’m remembering incorrectly or being a boor, feel free to ignore me. I get that your relationship is yours, and only you know best, but I’ve watched so many of my 20-something girlfriends struggle for YEARS about whether or not they should marry him because we all grew up thinking we wouldn’t be getting married at 23-25 years old. They had it so ingrained in their heads that they’d be independent feminists, even if it made their lives miserable and cost them thousands of dollars. Again, if I’m totally off-base, then feel free to ignore me.

      Also, please don’t forgo insurance! It’s just way too risky. My husband’s friend is now in her 30’s and she still works 7 days a week (her 40/hr week job + Sat/Sun retail at the mall) because she’s not quite done paying off her medical debt from when she had an emergency appendectomy when she was 21. If you think your finances are bad now, imagine 10+ years of paying down 5-6 figures worth of debt.

      1. Anx*

        “Second, I have to say this as someone who works in public health: The ACA has not failed to help you. Your home state (and maybe a little bit the Supreme Court) has failed you. ”

        It is hard to keep that in perspective. I think the reason I am so upset with the actual ACA is that because this is such a politically charged act, they are still promoting the ACA rather than addressing and working on the very real issues with implementation. That said, my states failed us. One state expanded but has a horrendous Medicaid reimbursement rate, so the coverage isn’t helping with actual access. Same state hasn’t sorted out what the expansion means for the asset recovery act. The other didn’t expand (although I would much rather pay a subsidized rate for insurance than use Medicaid) and has no resources for navigating the intricacies of the tax consequences and nuances of the law unless you can afford a private lawyer (the enrollment specialists so far have been very unhelpful and uninformative). And it obviously is sending our money out of state twice for political reasons (we pay for other states to have Medicaid expanded and our paying more in income taxes for outdated morality laws without reaping the benefits).

        Marriage isn’t in the cards right now as I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about kids.

        1. matcha123*

          There’s no rule that being married means that you have kids…unless your partner already has them.

          1. Treena Kravm*

            I think what she’s saying is that her boyfriend really wants them and she’s not sure, so they don’t want to get married until they’ve decided.

            1. Anx*

              Yeah, it’s more like that. I don’t know if either us will ever not be torn on the matter, but I need more time to sort out my anxieties about parenthood (mostly financial).

      2. Anx*

        Side note: I studied public health, and I went to a few conferences on implementation. I was shocked at how shocked some professionals were at my questions. It seemed so many of the implementation issues I was witnessing ever occurred to them.

        I do think the ACA failed to consider that the very people who are stuck on the individual market tend also tend not to have neatly predictable and reportable income –as have many public health and social services professionals (at least the ones I spoke with at those conferences).

    2. BAS*

      If you’re a student, can you get any kind of coverage through your school?

      I can understand your inclination to just terminate coverage since you can’t get anything truly affordable, ACA or no ACA. As a cautionary whale, I have decent coverage and have always been healthy, but then unexpectedly broke my foot and MAN the costs pile put quickly even with most of it covered by insurance. If insurance hadn’t paid some, it would be even worse. Just throwing it out there for you to consider. You sound like you’re between a rock and a hard place, though. I really commiserate as pre-ACA I aged out of my parents coverage but couldn’t get an individual plan due to pre-existing conditions.

      Regarding income verification, I do a ton of them for our clients (I work in/on a virtual HR team for many small businesses/start-ups). Assuming we get a signed release, we try to return them ASAP once the asking party sends them to us.

      I’m curious about your statement about paying taxes on $12k. You should be getting most of that back yearly when you do your taxes as you’re below the poverty level. Do you mean regular payroll taxes (aka the ones you should get back yearly)?

      1. Anx*

        I’ve never made more than 12,000 and have paid income tax most years that I’ve worked, but it’s usually a pretty small sum. It’s just when you only make a little money, every 10 dollars makes a huge difference. 12,000 is a little bit above the poverty level (which is good, because I need to try to be above the poverty level if I have any hope of staying insured).

  35. TheLazyB*

    Question – has anyone ever re-incorporated dairy products into their diet after a very long time?

    I really don’t want to discuss the pros and cons of a non-dairy diet, but. I stopped eating dairy in 2000, so, 15 years ago. For the last year or so I’ve been considering going back to eating dairy. Various reasons, including concerns about calcium which worries me much more now than it used to.

    I dunno… a lot of my identity is caught up in my dairy free status. But in the last year or so I’ve got a lot less rigid about it. I just can’t quite pull the trigger on going back.

    I suppose I just want to know if someone’s been there, did it cause any digestive ‘issues’, why did you give them up and go back to them if so.

    I am about to go to bed as it is well past midnight here! Will come back in the morning :)

    1. Thinking out loud*

      I haven’t, but maybe start with yogurt? I think it’s supposed to be friendlier than milk.

    2. Revanche*

      I went off dairy for a period of time because of various stomach issues but weaned back on with a combination of cheese and yogurt. I wasn’t off it a really long time though so take that with a grain of salt.

    3. Student*

      If you are worried about calcium but don’t actually want to eat dairy, just get some calcium supplements.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          I took calcium supplements in my early 20s, went off them, then started again when I was 35. Heart palpitations! So scary. Luckily I realized early on what the culprit was, but… yeah.

          I have never gone off dairy, but I did have a year of strange lactose intolerance (I think I caught a gut virus in Mexico that lingered for a while) and I went heavy on the probiotic foods, like yogurt (bonus of added dairy), kimchi, sauerkraut, etc.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I skimmed the study. Maybe I am reading it wrong, but it looks like they did not give people vitamin D with the calcium. I don’t understand why they would skip the D but okay. I scanned down further and the only people who had problems were those who took above the median level. oh, grrr. I get tired of this one size fits all stuff. One person may need a little calcium, the next person may need a lot of calcium. It varies by individual, did they give the appropriate amount for the each individual or was it “here take this much” type of thing?

          It appears that some of the participants were smokers, etc. So there were other things going on that could have added to heart problems.

          I kind of got lost. I wanted to find out who funded this study, too. But I did not get that far. ah, next week someone will have a study showing how great calcium is.

          Do you have symptoms of low calcium, such as nails breaking? How about your vitamin d levels? Any low level symptoms of vitamin d loss?

          I have been dairy free for 20 years. Every so often I try something and the results are immediately bad. Mostly, it’s ear issues. I have never been able to go back and now I don’t really care if I do. Of course, YMMV, because different people have different reactions.

    4. Irulan*

      I haven’t done so as an adult, but my brother and I both had severe dairy allergies as small kids that we outgrew. Based on the pediatrician’s instructions, my mother introduced dairy into our diets gradually. For example, she’d give us a small piece of chocolate or a few cubes of cheese, then nothing for two weeks to check for both anaphylaxis and for digestive issues. After a few months, she increased the frequency of introductions to once per week, then twice per week. I still don’t eat much dairy as an adult, but I can tolerate it.

    5. BAS*

      Did you have a reason to quit dairy? I’ve HEARD but not stating this as fact that starting w/something lower in milk protien is how to reintroduce it (aged hard cheese, etc).

    6. Cristina in England*

      I would try goat’s milk, yogurt, or cheese first, as it is easier to digest than cow’s milk. I am lactose intolerant and had to give up even my lactose free milk (for a different reason) but have had zero problems with goats milk products. Can’t recommend brands in the US but in the UK we have a lovely one called St Helen’s farm that even does ice cream!

        1. It'sOnlyMe*

          My son was dairy free for a long time, we moved to goat’s milk products first then gradually reintroduced ‘regular’ dairy and he was fine. He’s now a strapping teen and never really gained a taste for dairy products on their own ie he won’t eat a boiled egg or a piece of cheddar, and rarely drinks a glass of milk, but he can use diary with no trouble and is happy to have cheese on a burger and a milk based smoothie.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh, hooray! :-) The other UK brand I know is Delamere, though I prefer the milder taste of St Helen’s Farm. All major supermarket chains will carry yogurt, milk or cheese (even butter) from one brand or the other. Waitrose carries most of the SHF line (including the ice cream, which is very good).

    7. Clever Name*

      If your only reason for wanting to go back on dairy is calcium, there are veggie sources of calcium that have more per serving than dairy. Dark green leafy vegetables come to mind. If you just want to eat some cheese, then eat some cheese. :)

    8. Mephyle*

      You asked, “I suppose I just want to know if someone’s been there, did it cause any digestive ‘issues’, why did you give them up and go back to them if so.

      My experience is somewhat sideways from your question, because I didn’t give up all dairy and I haven’t gone back to the things I gave up, but it might be useful as another data point.

      I stopped drinking dairy milk when I found that I have a sensitivity to it. This isn’t a digestive issue; I never had digestive problems, but milk started giving me phlegm. If you look it up, you will find most sources claiming that this is a myth, but I didn’t read them until after the penny dropped and I realized for a long time, I had been having a coughing spell lasting about an hour every day after my morning cappuccino (my first milk of the day). In the same decade of life, I also developed oral allergy syndrome (allergy-like reactions to some fruits), so I guess it’s a similar thing.

      I switched to plant milks for drinking, and the coughing spells stopped. I haven’t given up cheese, though, nor cream in small amounts.

      Also, I haven’t gone back to drinking milk because I found that I liked the plant milks better. One time after several years of no milk, I was out with a friend at a coffee shop and we tried each others’ drinks. I nearly spit out my sip of her latte, because it tasted to me like cow. That was totally unexpected. Of course it’s not a flavour you notice when you drink milk regularly.

  36. Colette*

    I’m looking for hotel recommendations in and around New York City. I’ll be driving, and am not sure I want to deal with parking in Manhattan, but if I stay off the island, I’d want to be easy transportation in. Anyone have suggestions? (FYI, I’ll be coming from the direction of Syracuse.)

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      What’s your budget and how long will you be staying? I’ll put in a good word for the Aloft in my old neighborhood on 124th and Frederick Douglass. Right around the corner from the Apollo Theater. You can usually get a room there for under $200/night, it’s relatively close to the GW Bridge, driving uptown isn’t that bad, and you can find great garages nearby for about $20/day. Aloft is the “budget” line of the W Hotels, and they’re basic but very nice.

      1. Colette*

        Budget – I don’t plan on spending tons of time in the hotel, so as cheap as possible for something clean and safe. $200 is fine.
        And I’ll only be there for two nights. Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll check it out.

    2. BRR*

      I’d look in Jersey City. Lots of hotels, parking will be cheaper, and the PATH runs 24 hours.

  37. Victoria, Please*

    This is a public service announcement which we all know, but bears repeating: EMAIL IS NOT PRIVATE!!!!

    I just got an email from someone which was clearly NOT meant for my eyes, and the person had not sent it to me! I have no idea how it also ended up in my in-box, it had not been forwarded, copied, BCC’d or whatever. But I got this email that was…a problem for me.

    Prob’ly shouldn’t have answered it, huh?

    Assume that your emails are being seen by ANYONE, because they might be.

    1. StudentA*

      Can you explain what happened? You say you got an email that was not forwarded, but it was not emailed from the person who wrote it. I am confused. But intrigued.

    2. Victoria, Please*

      It was an email complaining about me to someone else. The writer surely did not want me to see it, I promise! I suppose he might have bcc’d me accidentally, but in outlook it shows that bcc’s are to the person bcc’d. This one showed only the person the writer intended to send it to.

      I responded rather jokingly but it was clear I was not pleased. What he was complaining about was not my fault and in fact I have been busting ass trying to fix his problem… but my response probably made it worse. Hence the PSA.

  38. katamia*

    I’ll be moving to a warmer/more humid climate soon (I mean, I’m from the DC area and grew up here so I’m no stranger to humidity, but this place is warmer and more humid than DC) and am trying to find clothes that are more lightweight. Anyone have any suggestions of stores/websites that are good for that, or even certain fabrics to avoid/look for? I basically live in jeans and T-shirts right now and know very little about fashion, and I don’t really know where to start, but at the same time I also don’t want to show up there with nothing but jeans, especially while I’ll be adjusting to the temperature difference.

    1. Samantha*

      I live in the south so I am well acquainted with heat and humidity, unfortunately. Stay away from synthetic fabrics – they don’t breathe as well as cotton. I can’t stand pants in the summer so I mostly wear light weight dresses and skirts. Most of my dresses are work appropriate once I add a light weight cardigan. What kind of dress code does your new job have? I think I’d focus on building my work wardrobe and add more casual pieces along the way.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Modern synthetics / tech fabrics can be really good, I mean workout clothes are synthetic and are designed to wick moisture away and keep you dry and cool. It isn’t just polyester and acrylic vs cotton and linen anymore. Maybe you will need to explore some workout clothes that can pass for other uses. Try Athleta?

      2. katamia*

        Thanks! Not sure about the new dress code (judging from the kind of work, I can’t imagine it would be *too* formal, though), unfortunately, but that’s a good idea. I’ll keep it in mind after they get back to me with more specifics about the dress code. (I interviewed with them via Skype because they’re actually in another country, so I didn’t get to scan all the employees’ wardrobes the way I usually do when I interview, LOL.)

    2. Anx*

      I can’t help with fabrics or retailers, but consider lighter layers that cover a lot of skin. Warmer climates blast the AC all spring, summer, and fall. I rarely wear shorts, dresses, or short sleeves even though summers are hotter and more humid here because everything has such intense AC that I’m cold throughout the summer (and my legs get insta-stubble from the goosebumps). I find just a thin layer keeps the chill from the vents off.

      1. Elsajeni*

        Yep — have a cardigan or light jacket you can carry with you, and never go anywhere you’ll be sitting down for a while without it.

        I live in Houston, and I actually do wear jeans and T-shirts most of the year, at least for my casual wear — I’ll change to shorts or a light skirt (cotton or a linen blend is good) sometimes in the summer, and certainly if I’m planning to spend some time outdoors, but most of the time I’m in air-conditioned houses, stores, movie theaters, etc., so I don’t worry too much about dressing for the heat. For work, I wear lightweight, unlined slacks most of the time, and I find those are fine for summer.

        1. katamia*

          Yeah, I do jeans and T-shirts a lot in DC even when it’s really humid out, but while I’m adjusting I want to make sure I have cooler clothes in case the adjustment is worse than I’m expecting it to be. I suspect I’ll be doing more walking/spending more time outdoors there, too, than I do here.

  39. The Other Dawn*

    I need some gardening help again! Actually, I’m hoping someone can identify this plant/weed. It’s the last pic in today’s blog post. http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/

    I’m starting to get satisfaction out of gardening. It really helps that I now have a lot of property, it came with established landscaping, and the yard is pretty flat. All three of those things were missing at the old house. Let’s hope I can keep it up!

    I do have one issue: I think I bought too many plants. I have three plants that will grow into shrubs and I’m stumped as to where to put them. I want to put them in the front of the house, but I like the balance that’s there now. I don’t want to mess that up. I’m thinking maybe I’ll put them in front of the rock wall, or maybe next to the covered bridge. My husband suggested the mound that separates the driveway. My driveway looks like a needle: it starts out as a single driveway and then splits and forms a loop, just like a sewing needle. There’s a very large, old tree there at the end of the mound. I guess I could put it in the middle. Just not sure how that would look.

    1. fposte*

      It doesn’t look like a weed to me–it looks like poppies! Wait to see what color they are, but they’re probably red or red/orange.

      1. BAS*

        I vote nay on poppies unless East Coast poppies look wildly different from California poppies! They’re never fuzzy.

        1. fposte*

          This is why gardening will make you crazy–California poppies are not just a complete different species but a completely different genus. I’m talking about the Papaver specieseses–somniferum and nudicaule and rhoeas and all that good stuff; California poppies, Wikipedia says, are Eschscholzia californica.

          1. The Other Dawn*

            This got me wondering as to whether they are opium poppies. I Googled and they don’t appear to be.

            Then I was outside this morning, planting a rhododendron, and noticed what looked to me to be pot plants along my rock wall. I highly doubt it, though, since an old woman lived here for 50 years. But, you never know…

      2. Myrin*

        I vote poppies, too, or at least something that’s related to poppies! They’re just as fuzzy as the ones in the picture here, but I’m in Germany, so I can’t really comment on how they look in the US. But from my standpoint – poppies or close-to-poppies.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        I vote poppies. They look just like the orange ones I have that are going to bloom soon.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      Oh, and I confirmed that what I have is wild garlic, not onion as I originally thought. I pulled up the one with the biggest stalk and there were individual cloves at the end.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Oh, cool. It must be that someone deliberately put it there, because I remember you saying you don’t have it anywhere else on your property.

        Have you met your neighbors? Maybe they can tell you about some of the stuff the previous owners were growing?

        1. The Other Dawn*

          Yes, we have. One of them is a tomato gardener, so I plan to ask his advice on vegetable gardening. And he makes his own whiskey. My husband said it’s strong stuff, but good.

  40. The Other Dawn*

    News on the old tenants: I got my first payment!! The husband filed the answer to the lawsuit and said he’d pay the 35.00 a week…and he did!! (The minimum they can pay with a payment arrangement through small claims court is 35.00 a week. I’ll take it!!) Plus, I got all my stuff back that they took (courtesy of the husband).

    The wife stopped at my SIL’s house the other day and was bitching and complaining about the stuff she left behind in my house. Which was HER choice, so not sure why she’s bitching. Says her and hubby are getting divorced, that he abused her, and that the marriage counselor said he should be “put away.” But they moved TOGETHER to the SAME APARTMENT. I still don’t believe a single word of it. I honestly believe that whole story was made up to get sympathy from the housing court.

    I’m starting to think that a lot of what happened is because of the wife. I think that the husband didn’t know the lies she was telling me: why the rent was late, that she paid for the oil when she didn’t, and that they were settling a lawsuit and would have our money, and that the lawyer took off with their money (yup, she said that). I think he didn’t know the whole story until I started copying him on the Facebook messages and then evicted them. The reason I think that is because she’s the one that wears the pants, while he’s the one that kind of sits back and stays quiet. And HE’S the one that answered the small claims suit, asked for a payment arrangement, actually made a payment (!), and brought my stuff back.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know he’s not blameless and I don’t ever want to deal with them again, but something tells me he was somewhat of a victim in this. At least a little bit. If not then at least he knows wrong from right and is willing to do the right thing.

    1. BRR*

      They just sound like very dramatic people. Not sure if it’s just one of them but that everything they do creates a situation.

    2. BAS*

      Oh man, The Other Dawn, I’ve been following this saga for weeks! I’m glad it is getting resolved. Does it make you annoyed or relieved to realize the husband is the reasonable party (and whom you maybe could’ve dealt with sooner in this saga)?

      1. Neruda*

        Me too! Sometimes I check in on the open thread just to find out what’s going on with the tenant situation!

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Relieved that he’s dealing with it now. Annoyed because he could have dealt with it earlier if he chose to. But he didn’t. I started copying him on the Facebook messages between the wife and I way back in December, so that’s when he would have seen that she was lying to me about paying for the oil, getting housing assistance (forgot to include that one), getting money from a lawsuit. I don’t know, maybe the wife made up a big story and somehow made him believe it was under control. Or maybe he just buried his head in the sand. Or maybe he was an active participant. I have no idea. I think most likely once he started seeing the messages the wife made up some story and he believed it.

    3. Anonyby*

      Good news! At least things are moving in a positive direction for you!

      And man, does she sound like a piece of work!

  41. Grey*

    Does/has anyone here worked as waitstaff at a restaurant? Do you expect tips for take out orders? I feel kinda bad for ordering $100 worth of food to go and leaving the tip-line blank on the credit card receipt.

    On the other hand, I could argue that tipping relates to table service, and spending 60 seconds to bring my bag to the register and ring it up doesn’t really earn you $20. What do you think?

    1. BRR*

      For $100 I might leave a little. When I pick up takeout it’s usually just $20-$25 worth.

    2. Anx*

      I usually tip about 10%. I never know if the workers are receiving wait staff wages (2.13) or bartending wage (varies, a little bit higher) or regular minimum wage. Yet there is obviously a lot less time and work being spent on my meal than for eat-in service.

    3. Noah*

      Long ago, when I worked as a waiter at a chain restaurant, we had to collect the food from the kitchen, box it up, and pack it in the bag with utensils and napkins. Not a lot of work, but it did pull you away from tables.

      Tips varied from nothing to the normal 20%. Maybe 1 in 10 people actually did tip on takeout and it was usually just a few dollars. I never felt screwed when someone didn’t tip on takeout, we expected nothing and was happy when it did happen.

      So, I would say you’re pretty normal for not tipping. Personally, I usually tip about 10% on takeout, but that’s a personal choice and I would not judge anyone who chooses not to.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        That’s exactly why I now tip on takeout at places where I’d tip at the table, usually 15-20%, because it still takes the waitstaff time to put in the order then package it up. And I tip better for the places that package things well, like the sushi place that puts each person’s set of rolls in a box together, which makes it so much easier.

    4. danr*

      I always try to tip for takeout. Tipping relates to service, whether it’s table or takeout. If you don’t want to add the tip to the credit card , you can always give cash.

      1. The IT Manager*

        But if its take out, a cashier hands me my meal in a bag like a fast food restaurant drive through. If I dine in, a waiter take orders, bring drinks, food, and refills, and checks back with me. I tip the waiter generously, but never thought to tip for take out – not that get takeout much.

    5. Grey*

      I’m happy to give a couple dollars, but I wonder who’s actually getting the tip. Maybe the person ringing it up isn’t the one who bagged it. Maybe the cashier doesn’t know who bagged it. Maybe the person who bagged it is already paid accordingly.

      When I get takeout from the local bar/restaurant, it’s the bartender who takes my order. She then goes to the kitchen to bag it up. I always tip for that. But a couple days ago, I went to a high-priced sushi place and my small bag of food was already at the register when I got there. I wasn’t sure what to do.

      I also get takeout from a Chinese place that doesn’t even have table service. The cooks bag up the order and place it on the counter for the cashier. I never know if I should tip her. You don’t typically tip cashiers, but there’s a tip line on the receipt.

    6. Thinking out loud*

      I was a hostess at a steak restaurant, and we did the takeout orders (not the wait staff). We didn’t do a ton for the orders – I generally thought that a dollar or two was appropriate for what I did, and that’s what I tip people in that situation now. I often got nothing and wasn’t offended. A small number of people tipped more than that.

    7. Anon for this one*

      I’ve always heard that you don’t have to tip for takeout, but if you do, the rate is 10 percent. If I’m buying takeout at a place like Panera or Chipotle, no tip. If it’s a restaurant, then I tip — there are a couple of local restaurants and a Chili’s where I get things fairly regularly and the bartenders handle take out orders. I tip the bartenders in cash, but charge the order.

      To me, the difference is that Panera or Chipotle have to pay minimum wage because they haven’t historically relied on tips to round out wages, just as fast food places have to pay minimum wage. The bartenders who handle my food orders at restaurants, however, are probably getting the lower minimum for restaurant workers and are relying on tips (or the restaurant itself is relying on tipping to bring wages up to the normal minimum wage).

      1. Nina*

        I do this, pretty much. I also hate tipping on credit cards/debit cards because when I worked as a waitress, those tips rarely found their way into my check. Granted, I worked for a shady restaurant that’s been sued several times, but it taught me to always use cash when I tip. It’s better for the waitstaff/host that way.

      2. AmyNYC*

        And Panera employees can’t accept tips, it’s against policy. We had “dough-nation” boxes by the registers if people offered tips. The unofficially policy was to not fight it if someone disagreed with the policy – physically handed you cash and forcefully said “it’s for you”

    8. BAS*

      I must admit I rarely tip for take-out. I also get a lot of takeout from owner run small biz restaurants (that I also dine-in and tip for) AND I live in a state where severs make regular minimum wage.

    9. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I always tip about 10% on take out from a primarily sit down restaurant. Whether it is wait staff or bartenders, it’s usually people who work for tips who are putting the orders together and I’d rather be safe than sorry that people are compensated for my order.

      I’ve never in my life tipped on chinese takeout, though, and I was surprised to read (in several places) that this is A Thing that many people do. I don’t tip pizza place/sandwich shop/chinese takeout orders. Now I think some people do.

      I’m a good tipper, honestly I’m not cheap, but if a place is primarily takeout, why would I tip?

      1. Beezus*

        I do the same. When I get delivery, the tip is for the driver, when I eat at a sit down place, the tip is for my waiter, when I pick up at a sit down place, I am pulling waitstaff from tipped work, so I tip, but if I am picking up at a takeout place, tipping seems unnecessary.

    10. SevenSixOne*

      I don’t usually tip if I’m getting food for a small group, but I’ll tip ~10% if I’m ordering for 8 or more people.

    11. fposte*

      I almost always tip for takeout, but I never have cash, so God knows what happens to the tips. But it’s a college town, food isn’t expensive, and I’d like to make up for years where I couldn’t afford to tip decently.

    12. Anonannah*

      I used to work in restaurants and we generally had to give between 3 and 5% of our total sales back at the end of the night to be split between the support staff. If anyone didn’t tip we still had to pay that out and it basically would cost us money for them to eat there. These were more high end places that didn’t have regular takeout but would get an order every once in a while. It’s a bit frustrating when a customer leaves you nothing and you still have to tip out on that bill.
      Just something to be aware of….

  42. Ann Furthermore*

    I’m traveling for work, and staying through the weekend. So today I booked a spa day. It’s a small, locally owned place in an older downtown location. I Googled “day spas” for the area, and this place came up first and had quite a few good reviews, so I thought OK, give it a try. The website had a nice sounding package available, so I booked it.

    Last night, I looked up the place again to see how long it would take me to drive there, and their Yelp page came up, so I clicked on it. The reviews there were terrible. Like, really, really bad. I usually take negative online reviews with a grain of salt, because it always seems like they’re written by people with an ax to grind.

    So then, I did what I sometimes do when I’m curious about something: research. I found quite a bit of information saying that the Yelp filter, for the most part, will suppress most positive reviews and put them into an “unhelpful” review section of the business’s page, that’s not very noticeable. But if you sign up for Yelp’s services, and pay the monthly fee, then suddenly, the positive reviews will be prominently displayed. So basically, their business model is extortionism.

    I went back to this spa’s Yelp page, and sure enough, in the “unhelpful” review section were many very complimentary and positive reviews. I also went to their Facebook page and there were lots of good reviews there too. And I had a lovely day — got a facial, body scrub, massage, and a hand/foot massage treatment. It was wonderful. The only negative was that there was no off-street parking, so I had to find somewhere to park in the neighborhood, and it was hard to find a place where I could park for more than 2 hours.

    Is this Yelp thing a well-kept secret, or am I just the last to know? I’ve never posted on Yelp, and now I have no plans to do so because it seems like small businesses really get the shaft from them.

    1. BRR*

      I had no idea. When I do my research I check yelp, trip advisor, and if google has some I just just to see.

    2. Noah*

      Interesting, it’s like the Better Business Bureau thing where they will only award an A+ if the business is a member.

      1. Observer*

        True. But, with the BBB the rest of the information is a click away, and it’s a no brainer to get to.

    3. Marcela*

      Well the question with the reviews is that you can’t know how valid they are now. I’ve seen 5 years old reviews, sometimes with comments about a new ownership. It’s impossible thay the personal or management have not changed in that time. So for me, reading reviews is more about what’s unacceptable to me, like the place is in a bad neighborhood or they are rude to specific groups (although this is very difficult to ascertain for sure).

      I read all reviews, starting from the bad ones, then going to the unhelpful and finally the good ones. I’ve asked myself many times about the unhelpful reviews, since they don’t seem as much different than the non hidden reviews. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a site with many bad reviews and many unhelpful good ones, so my experience is different than yours. But as BRR said, I also look for Google reviews. I’ve never been able to understand Trip Advisor: it looks like a collection of ads to me.

    4. Sourire*

      I still read Yelp reviews and contribute, but I did have an experience that very much soured me on them. We had a place open up in town that I gave a glowing review to, and the next time I was in I mentioned Yelp to the owners who had never heard of it. Fairly shortly after they signed up for an official account. After some subsequent visits where I was left much less satisfied than before and checked back in to the Yelp page to see if it was just me. I noticed their page had only the glowing reviews up and all of the negatives filtered away, so I decided that since mine was still up, I would update it to reflect my new experience, and hopefully allow at least one not super positive review slip through the cracks. Sure enough, my update was shortly moved to the unhelpful section…

      I researched and saw the same thing you found about extortion tactics. Lately they have been getting better about this, or at least stating they do not operate this way anymore, but I always check both regular reviews and filtered anyway.

    5. Steve G*

      I never knew about this, because the first thing I do when I go into Yelp is sort the list anyway. Most of the places that have bad ratings? My experiences coincide with other yelpers’ to a tee, so I give credence to what people also write about places I’ve never been.

      1. BRR*

        I always sort by date. Because I find places can get better or worse. For heavy research I look at the 1 star reviews

    6. Student*

      It’s pretty widely known that this is the basic business model for ALL commercial-scale review sites, not just Yelp. How, exactly, did you think they made money?

      Pro-tip for the internet age: If you use something heavily but don’t pay for it, then you are the product that’s being sold.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I’d never really thought about it before, to be honest, and like I said, I never put much stock in negative reviews. Many of them are just mean and nasty, instead of being constructive.

    7. Observer*

      It’s well known in tech circles, but I don’t know about “regular” people. The Yelp folks, of course, claim that they put the reviews in the “unhelpful” section because their algorithms say that they are likely false.

    8. Pennalynn Lott*

      My boyfriend and I own a small business. Yelp calls us once a quarter trying to get us to pay them for “prominent placement” of our listing, and to pay them for a “guaranteed” number of clicks. Uh, how can you guarantee that 1000 people who are looking for our service will click on our Yelp listing? You can’t. But you can hire people to click on listings. So incredibly shady.

  43. Grey*

    Don’t put too much value in the wonderful reviews either. Sometimes they’re written by employees, or their friends and family.

    My experience on Yelp: If you register and post only a single review, it ends up in the “unhelpful” section. If you post additional reviews for other businesses, all your reviews are moved to the main page.

  44. Katie the Fed*

    More random thoughts – has anyone ever bought a half cow or quarter cow? We’re moving into a house where we’ll have room for a chest freezer, and I’m considering this to get humanely raised, grass-fed beef at a reasonable price. Thoughts? Anyone ever bought any other animals in bulk? Also considering a lamb.

    1. BRR*

      My in laws have done something similar because they’re farmers. They send one of their cows to the butcher and get it all back. The one key issue to me is if it’s a good or bad animal you have a lot. So you can have a ton of great meat or a ton of ehhh meat. You also have to really enjoy it because you have a lot.

    2. Meadowsweet*

      Yep, have had lamb, chickens, and half a pig and seriously considering part of a bison.
      I’d recommend it, especially if you can check out the farm beforehand. It’s really nice to know you’ve always got the makings of something in the freezer :)
      They may do custom cutting for a whole or a half (they do here), so if there’s cuts you don’t typically use you can switch to something else (and stew bits are always useful!)

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      A couple people I worked with split a pig once, and I ended up with some pork chops that were delicious. They both told me that you get a LOT of meat when you do this, and their recommendation for any first-timers was to split it with someone so you aren’t overwhelmed by the amount. Or, if you do go ahead and do it, vacuum seal everything to protect it from freezer burn. If you’re going to get a big freezer, consider an upright. we have one, and I love it, because it’s easy to see and keep track of what’s in there, and nothing migrates to the bottom, to be forgotten until you unearth it when looking for something else.

      Any time anyone talks about this, I’m reminded of something that happened when I was about 11. My parents and I were living in Saudi Arabia, where my dad was working. My mom was searching high and low for a turkey for Thanksgiving. We were at one of the grocery stores in town one night, and she was looking through all the chest freezers in the back. She elbowed me, pointed at one, and told me to check it for turkeys. There was a label on it that said “Venison.” I lifted the lid, and did a double-take after I saw a deer inside it. A whole dear. It was like someone had said, “Here Bambi, c’mon, get in!” and then closed the lid. It was so weird. It’s not like deer are indigenous to that part of the world, so to this day, I have no idea what in the world it was doing there, or how it got there.

      My mom had already looked in that freezer, and so wanted to see my reaction, and we both laughed. Then she told me to go out and get my dad. He grumbled about us taking too long, parked the car, and came in. My mom did the same thing…told him to look in that freezer, which he did, and then did a double-take, and looked again. Then we all laughed.

    4. Colette*

      I bought a 1/4 cow last year. It was a lot – as in my (medium) chest freezer was entirely full, even though there wasn’t much else in it. It makes meal planning easier in a way, and I’ll probably do it again.

    5. Clever Name*

      We’ve gotten a quarter cow and a quarter bison. I highly recommend it. It’s great to have a stash of meat on hand to use when needed. It depends on where you are and who you buy from, but be prepared to pick up your meat from the processor. Also be prepared to specify how much of different type of cuts you want. You can get more roast cuts or more steak cuts, for example.

    6. TalleySueNYC*

      One thing to think about–you’ll have a substantial investment inside that chest freezer. Think about power outages.

    1. I used to think I had a porpoise*

      I had several good Bests along with a somewhat disturbing Worst.

      Best: my kids are home from college.
      Best: my Moog Sub37 arrived (and it is one sweet piece of kit).
      Best: I heard from several old friends from out of the blue.

      Worst: (work-related, sorry) my new job seems to be taking a long time to ‘gel’, plus it looks like several ‘cliques’ may be forming.

    2. Steve G*

      Best: the new garden is 80% done, as is 90% of the cleanup of the basement/construction waste in new house. Yahoo! No more days of housework always looming over me.

      Worst: I’m started getting bored being unemployed. I’m sick of hanging around here cooking, gardening, looking for jobs….haven’t been to a real dinner out at a fancy place in 3 months….this slow pace of life is mind numbing and drove me to drink 2X this week!

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      Best: Lovely spa day today.

      Worst: Software testing with users who have no idea what they want, and we’re a month out from launching the project.

    4. Nina*

      Best: Finals are over and I passed all my classes. This was a very stressful, exhausting semester so I’m glad it’s over.
      Worst: I may have to re-take one of my courses, even though I passed it. The grade may not be high enough for the program I’m in. Fingers crossed that I won’t have to.

      1. BAS*

        Come on Firefox!

        WORST: The dog park was closed so I took my boo on a short walkie and overdid it and couldn’t meet my BFF for a movie at the town mid-point between the two of us (45+ min drive).

    5. StillHealing*

      Best: Meeting my new OBGYN for a second opinion. I have confidence in her experience and abilities. Meeting her put me at ease. Next week I’ll have a high-tech 3D ultrasound to get her official opinion….and plan.

      Worst: The silly stupid mistakes I’m making at work! I’m frustrated with myself. Doctors tell me to put it in perspective. Could it be due to the very high level of stress I’m under ?!?

      1. Ali*

        Best: Expressed my appreciation for a friend and his kindness. I love doing stuff like that for people and he responded well to it in turn.

        Worst: My hockey team got eliminated from the playoffs. It’s just a game, but that always sucks! LOL.

    6. danr*

      Best: we bought a new bed, mattress and box spring. It’s coming this week.
      Worst: We have to take the old bed apart first.

    7. Mimmy*

      Best: Finally submitted the draft for my school project! It still needs a little work, but I’d say the worst is over with that.

      Worst: Not really a “worst”, but my classmate and I decided to break our project into two separate, but complimentary, papers. We left our meet-up feeling sad that we couldn’t make it work as one piece, but we’re just happy to be over the hump.

    8. Come On Eileen*

      Best: saw Pitch Perfect 2 yesterday with a group of girlfriends, and laughed my butt off.

      Runner up Best: As I was eating dinner last night I heard a strange plastic rustling sound behind the couch. I peeked back there and saw my cat Jasmine, who has pulled a Ziplock bag of brownies off the kitchen counter, across the living room, to behind the couch. She got it open with her teeth and was noshing her way through a batch of brownies. I just fed her an hour before so I can only assume it was dessert. I tried to be mad but couldn’t stop laughing at her

      Worst: general overlay of the blahs for a while now. Feel like I’ve forgotten how to be awesome. I need to shake things up a bit, do something about this funk.

    9. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: not many to choose from but having lunch with one friend and coffee (& cake!) with another.

      Worst: many to choose from. Being narked (pissed off) at friends for suggesting my job to an almost stranger…when I’ve just been rejected for two jobs.

    10. Trixie*

      Best: Spending a couple days in area I’d very much like to move to. Also spent a little time with potential friend in area who may be able to able recommend housing, temp agencies, etc. Feels so rare to meet single friend who’s my age.

      Worst: Having a writing project and while it’s a short blurb, I’m procrastinating. Like CL, just need to dive in and get it started, then go back and edit.

    11. Natalie*

      Best: I found a great house, in my price range and a few blocks away from some of my best friends.

      Worst: I’m one of at least 3 other offers. Why won’t these complete strangers just BACK OFF and let me buy this house!?

      The suspense is killing me. I wish it was tomorrow already so I would just know one way or the other.

    12. CoffeeLover*

      Best and worst: I finally met my boyfriends family. We’ve been in a committed relationship for quite some time now but live in different countries so I didn’t get a chance to meet them. It was the “best” because we got along well and they’re nice people. It was the “worst” because I’m sure I’m going to overanalyze what I said and did all weekend.

  45. Getting there*

    Best part of my week – I finally decluttered the storage room.

    Worst part of my week – when decluttering, I packed up and donated my wedding dress and a lot of other clothing that reminded me of my past life.

    Best part of my week – finally starting to see the light at the end of a very, very, long tunnel. The last few years have been challenging to say the least.

    1. nep*

      Glad you’re seeing light. May you continue to move in that direction and out of the tunnel. All the best to you.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      One of my favorite historical novelists had a protagonist who was a confectioner in….1700s(?) France. Eventually she earned a royal patronage, and specialized in elaborate spun sugar centerpieces for royal banquets and dances. The book plots were only middling, but her world building was incredible.

  46. Shell*


    So I was looking for a cloth/vinyl tape measure and opened up the drawers of our ancient sewing machine to look…

    And found a pack of mothballs from 20 years ago. The stench. So much freakin’ naphthalene.

    Of course, since I’m the only one who really gives a crap about environmental responsibility and recycling in my household, making the time to run to the city’s eco-centre/throw out all the permeated fabrics/air out the drawers/etc. will fall to me. Sigh. Because everyone else will just chuck it in the garbage.

    Well, I have a bunch of batteries and stuff to recycle anyway…

    1. Steve G*

      One benefit of NYC is that there is a way to recycle everything. I had metal scraps (mostly metal bands that served as floor borders) to get rid of, and just today found out that I can bag them separately as recycling and put then out on recycling night! We also have a weekly compost pickup, for which they gave us two smaller cans, and you can put anything from lawn wastes to food to some paper products (used napkins, papertowels, tea bags, coffee filters, etc.).

      1. Shell*

        Most things here are recyclable, from pop cans to styrofoam. However, the curbside collection only picks up so much, and other recyclable things have to be dropped off. Three guesses as to how many people bother with the dropoff (and the first two guesses don’t count).

        I couldn’t convince my parents to compost despite it being no extra work whatsoever (the compost actually goes out in the same container as the lawn clippings) until it became a city bylaw to forbid organic waste in garbage. In my nuclear family, I am the only one that cares to rescue batteries/cds/earphones/toilet paper rolls/etc. from the garbage can.

        I have this thing against being wasteful. *wry smile*

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Are you on Staten Island? I know there were piloting composting there first. I can’t wait for city composting to make it to Manhattan! The Seattlite in me dies a little every time I have to throw away food scraps.

        1. Today's anon*

          I think more and more places have it in Manhattan too – I am in Manhattan and my building has been composting for a year or so. It’s been great. Sometimes it takes getting your co-op board on board so to speak, or get the “green” people in the building to create some pressure.

          1. Blue_eyes*

            Good to know! I had no idea they had started it in Manhattan. We rent from a condo owner, so we don’t have a lot of standing with the condo board, but I’ll look into it.

    2. JMW*

      Good use for moth balls: We had armadillos living in a hole they dug under our bushes. At night they would come out foraging for food and pretty much destroying our grass in the process. We rolled a few moth balls down the hole and they moved out! There is a huge preserve behind our house, so hopefully they found a good spot.

  47. Jillyan*

    Mad men ends tomorrow. It really captured all the complexities of working in an office. I’ll miss it.

    1. littlemoose*

      I just finished catching up on the second half of this season. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but wow. Lots of stuff happening. I’m going to miss it too.

    2. Ann Furthermore*

      They’re running a marathon on AMC now, every episode from the beginning. I’ve been watching it on and off all week.

    3. Trixie*

      Can’t wait to watch again front the beginning on Netflix. But first, Miami Vice.

  48. GreatExpectations*

    Does anyone have advice on surviving my first vacation with my in-laws? Overall we get along well, but they can be really judgemental of people (including my parents/siblings) and I know I respond overly defensively. I also am annoyed at my partner’s lack of boundary setting abilities with them. We’ve only been hitched 7 months, but there have been quite a few instances of his parents assuming things (e.g. extended visits in our small house) and him okaying their decisions without any conversation with me.

    1. Student*

      I suggest that you don’t use the vacation as a vehicle to work out the bigger problems that you’ve discussed in your marriage & in-law relationships. Vacations can be very charged and stressful – they aren’t conductive to resolving these kinds of issues.

      Do find a different time to have a serious and blunt discussion with your spouse about boundaries and in-laws. This won’t get better without some difficult discussions. It’ll probably take several discussions to resolve it. Look for ways that you can both be happy, and identify ways to make his relatives a part of your life as a couple with less friction if at all possible. Don’t accept scorn and judgement from the in-laws though – it’s a pretty modest and reasonable goal to expect them to treat you with some simple respect and courtesy, and it’s reasonable to expect your husband to work to get them to treat you that way.

    2. BRR*

      Have you brought this up with your husband yet? Does he know how you feel? I’ve made sure my new husband knows how I feel and if he doesn’t handle it I will.

    3. Treena Kravm*

      Yep, you need to get on the same page with your husband. A united front is all that works. Now that you’re married, he has to learn to respond to suggestions or ideas with, “Oh that sounds nice, I’ll talk to GreatExpectations and let you know if we can make it/do that/whatever.” A lot of people aren’t used to functioning as a unit when they get married and it sounds like your husband needs you to lay it out for him.

  49. StudentA*

    What show can’t you live without right now? I went back and watched Six Feet Under, which I missed out on when it was airing. It is a quirky one, and I am glad I tuned in. I am also looking forward to the Mad Men finale tomorrow.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, I’m jealous of anyone who gets to watch Six Feet Under for the first time. It was my favorite show of all time. I’ve never cried during a TV show the way I cried during those last 5-7 minutes of the finale.

      Bloodline, a new Netflix series, was really good. It’s a family murder mystery, set in Florida, starring Kyle Chandler (the coach from Friday Night Lights). Loved it. I intentionally paced myself, watching one episode each night (there are 12) so I could kind of savor it and think about it before watching the next one.

      Justified finished its run about a month ago, and I will really miss it. I recommend it if you haven’t seen it. I know it’s available on Netflix via DVD, don’t know if it’s streaming anywhere else. It stars Timothy Olyphant as a US Marshall who is sent back to his home state of Kentucky. Awesome show. And the finale was totally unexpected, and perfect.

      I binge-watched the second half of the first season of Madam Secretary a couple weeks ago. It seems to have found its groove, even if it’s not perfect. What I really like about it is the marriage between the 2 main characters. The wife has a very high-profile, powerful job (Secretary of State). A lot of shows would have a tedious and overdone story about the husband being threatened or intimidated by his wife’s career, maybe him (as a college professor) having an affair with a student. But that hasn’t happened. They’re both supportive of each other’s careers. It’s a nice change.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        Oh yes, we watched Six Feet Under when it was on. What a great show.

        The finale was so good, it created a high standard for me as to how a loved show should be wrapped up. Almost no great shows after that have come close to that kind of satisfying wrap up. The only other show I can think of that met the standard was The Shield. (I haven’t watched the last season of Breaking Bad yet.)

        West Wing finale was pretty good.

      2. Grey*

        I’ve been binge watching Justified for a few weeks now. Just started Season 5. It’s definitely one of the better shows I’ve watched.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

      I am doing 16 seasons of Law & Order SVU on Hulu Plus right now.

      More Meloni all the time. I may never watch another show. Just loop his seasons all the time.

    3. SevenSixOne*

      I’m hooked on Switched at Birth. The plot starts out ridiculous enough, then keeps getting more and more convoluted. I’m only halfway through season 2, I can’t wait to see how over-the-top it gets by season 4!

      1. Ali*

        The Mindy Project. My sister got me into watching it. I tried it out first through Netflix DVDs and now I’m addicted. So glad Hulu saved it from being canceled!

    4. Sunshine Brite*

      Supernatural on Netflix, I know it’s CW but it’s pretty awesome.
      Justified on Amazon Prime
      Watching Agents of Shield right now – decent.
      Daredevil on Netflix was pretty good. Not on Netflix anymore for some reason but I would immediately watch the entire series all over again – Battlestar Galactica.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        OMG, there’s a season 4?! I binge-watched it on Netflix and was sad but satisfied at how season 3 ended – I had no idea it was going to keep going. Must set DVR.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Yes and it’s fabulous! They changed several actresses among the midwives, but it’s still just as good.

    5. Treena Kravm*

      I’m watching Star Crossed. It’s a sci-fi about very human-like aliens crash landing on earth and becoming refugees. Of course the alien boy falls in love with the human girl. But the reason I’m hooked is because the discrimination story-lines are amazing metaphors for how humans interact with each other. There’s a little bit of Mexicans in the US, apartheid in South Africa, an a LOT of Palestine/Israel in there as well. It also explains terrorism in a way our media can never seem to do (ie showing why they become terrorists).

      It got cancelled after one season =(

    6. Carrie in Scotland*

      I just finished watching True Dectective but I always end up going back to, ER, Gilmore Girls and West Wing. Whenever I re-watch them, it’s like seeing old friends again.

    7. AnnieNonymous*

      Right now I’m loving Penny Dreadful. It’s such an odd contender in this span of “golden age” tv shows, but I think it’s incredibly good at what it’s trying to do. Eva Green is a marvel.

      When Shameless is running new episodes, it’s the show I’m most excited about.

    8. Trixie*

      Big favorite is AMC’s Turn, and am so disappointed I can’t watch current episodes online. (Cable package is too basic, boo.) Will definitely go back and read George Washington’s Spies before next season. Good Wife, West Wing, and PBS’s Endeavour.

    9. Rene UK*

      I love Grimm and Castle(but I *hate* that they delayed the new season here until next week. Ugh!), and Blacklist. I have a guilty fondness for ‘Mysteries of Laura’ and ‘Rizzoli & Isles’. Brain candy, but fun. I also enjoy ‘QI’ , ‘Time Team’ and ‘Botched Bodies’.

  50. Lionness*

    I am about to lose my mind. My lease ends June 5th. I am moving (for oh, so many reasons) and my new apartment is in a new construction complex. So new, in fact, that I will be the first tenant in my unit. Construction was supposed to complete yesterday and I was supposed to move in May 31-Jun 1. I got an email yesterday that construction might complete May 28.

    May. Complete. May. 28. Seven days before my lease is up here.

    I officially have an eye twitch.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Have you already signed a lease and paid a deposit/first month’s rent? If you have, read it carefully just to make sure they don’t protect themselves from late construction or any other impediment to you moving in. Then, call the leasing office and tell them you’re concerned. They may have a solution or an answer or some reassurance. If they don’t have protections in place for themselves, then they have your money and need to provide you with what you paid for, within reason. (Note: IANAL, I just read a lot of contracts.)

      Also, are we talking construction on your unit, or construction on the building/complex? Because I’d gladly move into a finished unit and wait a week or so for the paint to dry in the lobby.

      1. Lionness*

        The entire complex is new build and my building is the last to be completed. Unfortunately for me (and fortunately for them) all of the other buildings are already 100% leased. Decent housing is in high demand and very short supply here. So, there isn’t another unit to move me into.

        And, they are protected because if construction isn’t done, that means the city hasn’t signed off on the building so they legally cannot move people in due to safety concerns. I get that. But it is killing me to not know when I’ll move in.

    2. Alma*

      Landlords have let me pay extra pro-rated weeks in the case of delays like this. Check that out before you get to an emergency situation.

      1. Lionness*

        I asked about this. Unfortunately, housing is in high demand here (and short supply) so my old unit is already rented for when I move.

    3. Delyssia*

      My immediate inclination just reading about this is to start running through contingency plans, so that’s pretty much what follows. I find it calming to work through the scenarios and have a plan, however I completely understand that for some people, this is stressful and not helpful. If this kind of thinking is not helpful for you, then accept my sympathy for a rough situation and skip the rest of this.

      If the construction runs late and you can’t move in on time, there are two major pieces to be dealt with: a place for all your stuff and a place for you. Unfortunately, these may be two different places for a while. I would suggest checking with both new and old places to see if they have anyplace you can use for storage in the interim. If not, look into rental storage units, PODS, and the like, or see if you have any friends who would be willing to store your stuff in their garage or something for a while.

      For you, if you have any friends you can stay with for a while, see about lining that up. Otherwise, I would suggest checking into reasonably priced motels and the like, particularly long-term stay motels (with a kitchen or kitchenette, so you wouldn’t have to eat out all the time). Check availability, pricing, and cancellation policies now. If you can cancel without penalty, it may be worth the peace of mind to have the reservation made, so that you know you have a place to stay if you need it.

      I hope that none of this is necessary, and they finish construction on time for you to move in as scheduled! Best of luck to you!

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Yes! Make all the plans now when you’re harried with worry, and then hopefully you don’t need them, and then if you do need them, it’s all taken care of. Definitely set up a PODS-like situation, just not with PODS because it’s exorbitantly expensive. The company I used when we moved cross-country and didn’t have an apartment lined up charged like $20/day to keep your stuff in your pod for you at their facility. So you can just pack it up and store it away and get it when it’s time to move in.

        I would book a long-term motel now, especially if it has a 24-hour cancellation policy. (Put all the cancellation times in an electronic calendar 24 hours before the real deadline with a TON of beeping and notifications so you don’t charge yourself by forgetting). If you get more information about construction being delayed any longer, then you can maybe think about an AirBnb or similar, but the cancellation isn’t free so I wouldn’t look at that unless you absolutely know you’ll be homeless on June 5.

  51. Tara*

    What do y’all think about chiropractors? I’ve seen one off and on for the last year or so because I have really bad back pain, and I find that it definitely alleviates some of it. But I see a lot of people claim that they’re frauds. I can’t find any real evidence supporting either side– a lot of “Well, it helped ME” or “if you have to keep going back it’s not real medecine!”, neither of which are very compelling reasoning. So, any thoughts?

    1. Lionness*

      There is a lot of evidence that shows that chiropractic care can be beneficial. The thing is, it isn’t a one time fix because it isn’t meant to be. Think of it akin to physical therapy. No one claims physical therapy isn’t real medicine and no one goes to PT once and expects to be better. Chiropractic care is not what it was in the 60s. They are licensed, highly educated and well rounded. The key is to find a good one. Interview them like you would a doctor. Make sure they take x-rays before a first adjustment (I don’t trust chiros that don’t take x-rays)

      I see a chiro regularly. I messed up my back really badly and was in almost constant pain. It took six months, seeing them 3x a week to get to a place where I am no longer in pain. And it still isn’t totally fixed. It will probably take another year, at least. But my chiro is able to show me real, quantifiable differences the adjustments are making in my spine. She is a bit of a quack when it comes to vaccines (but that is fairly par for the course when it comes to alternative medicines) but we just don’t talk about that. I do adjustments, electro therapy and traction.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I think there are great chiropractors out there, but I’m sure there are quacks. But mostly good ones. This is what they do all day, every day and they are good at it. And there are some problems that come back due to the body’s make up or lifestyle choices, or whatever and it’s not anyone’s fault it’s not fixed). I go to a chiropractor when I need to get in quickly to see someone. My sister is a D.O. but even she goes to the chiropractor on occasion. You didn’t ask, but if you were worried about the level of care you’re receiving I also recommend finding a D.O. (though it may cost more depending on your insurance). D.O.s are trained in osteopathic techniques their entire time in med school. The one I see is a family doctor/neuromusculoskeletal medicine practitioner. I can only compare him to my chiropractor, but I find the D.O. much more thorough. When I leave the D.O.’s office it’s like I’ve had a mini workout from all the bending and pushing and pulling I’ve had to do with my legs/arms, but eventually everything pops back into place. With the chiropractor there is some of that but then they use the muscle stimulation machine on my lower back (which I’m not convinced has ever helped me though it feels good at the time). I feel better for longer after the D.O., if that means anything.

    3. Meadowsweet*

      Ultimately isn’t the fact that it helped you the most important bit? I mean, it’s not like taking a painkiller once stops all pain, right? And people end up having multiple surgeries to fix problems, so why would they expect a non-invasive technique to not take multiple visits?
      (full disclosure: I think chiropractors are awesome and mine has made my life significantly better)

    4. AnnieNonymous*

      The only ones that I’ve seen be roundly criticized are the ones who try to make claims about curing unrelated illnesses through back alignment.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, and that’s my issue–the spine alignment thing is essentially what chiropractic is built on. So I think there are good chiropractors, but they’re mostly good in spite of the field of study rather than because of it.

  52. Tanaya*

    Would you ever break up with someone because of stuff you found out from before you met them? My boyfriend and I are both 21 and I recently found out that he was a bully in high school. (All boys, private high school.)

    Additionally, he and his friends were suspended for filming up skirt videos/photos of the 2 young, attractive female teachers and sharing them in a private group on Facebook. He is now remorseful about this stuff and said he was an immature idiot in high school, but I’m having a hard time seeing past it.

    I HATE bullying and am really disgusted by the up skirt stuff. Kind of want to dump him, but at the same time lots of people do stupid stuff in high school. And I wasn’t perfect either, but I never did like power differential bullying. Got into bitch fights with other girls over guys and stuff, but never picked on anyone of like lower social standing. I’ve always thought that stuff takes spite and cruelty. What do you guys think?

    1. Colette*

      I think it’s valid to break up with someone for something that happened before you met them, if you believe it demonstrates their character. However, a lot of people do stupid, thoughtless things in high school. In this situation, I think what you have to decide is whether you can accept that his remorse is sincere and he really has changed.

      1. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

        I was going to post but, exactly this. This is exactly what I would have said. Probably less succinctly.

      2. Tanaya*

        Hmm yeah I guess you’re right. He says he’s remorseful but how do you really tell if someone’s being genuine? I kind of have this paranoid fear that he’s like laughing to everyone about how gullible I am.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          What do you know of his character (now)? Do you generally trust him? Has he given you reason to think he’d laugh at you behind your back or lie to you? If you generally trust him and have seen evidence of good character, go with what you know. (Similarly, if you don’t trust him and have seen evidence of shoddy character, go with what you know there too.) If you don’t feel like you know him well enough to know, proceed slowly and with caution until you do.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            One other thing: When he first told you about it, how did he present it? Like the very first time he alluded to it. Before he knew what your reaction was going to be, was he already remorseful? Or did he initially present it as no big deal or even something funny? The way he talked about it before he knew you were horrified is a big tell.

            1. fposte*

              Or did you find out from somebody else, and what did he do when you mentioned this to him?

        2. Not So NewReader*

          “I kind of have this paranoid fear that he’s like laughing to everyone about how gullible I am.”

          That might be your answer right there. Not so much that he is actually laughing at you BUT that you cannot shake off that feeling.

          In fairness, most of the time that I have sensed that people are talking about me behind my back, I have been correct. It is amazing how strong that negative vibe is, others actually can feel it. I have joined a couple groups where no one backstabbed anyone and I could actually tell. I did not realize this stuff until I got into my 40s. I used to yell at myself and call myself paranoid. Confusingly, I wondered why that “paranoia” only happened with certain people, so I had lots of circular thinking going on.

          Where I landed with all that is this: We are supposed to be intuitive. We have intuition for a reason, to help protect ourselves. If a relationship feels yukky for any reason, pay attention to that yukky feeling. I could have saved myself a lot of hassles if I had paid attention better. Think about times where your intuition was correct. Does this paranoid feeling feel the same/ similar as it did in the times where your intuition was correct?

    2. SevenSixOne*

      Even though I matured a LOT between 16 and 21, I was still doing some of the dumb shit I did as a teenager well into my 20s, because I still had a lot of growing up to do.

      I don’t know if I’d ever explicitly break up with someone because I dredged up something from their past, but I’d definitely watch very carefully for proof that he’s both truly remorseful and completely over those behaviors/tendencies.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        The part of a person’s brain that handles judgment calls isn’t done cooking until well into their twenties. so yeah, stuff that you did as a teen can still be a thing. It’s also why teens, whom we think should know better, often don’t.

    3. fposte*

      What does he say about the stuff he’s done? If he’s embarrassed and feels bad for people, that’s one thing. If he thinks people made too much of a fuss about it, that’s another.

      1. fposte*

        Oh. Duh. You’ve said.

        I think it’s an individual call, same as it is for anything people did before and now don’t do. People date ex-cons, after all. What I would do would really depend on my in-person read on whether the person who did that is still there.

    4. Lionness*

      Bullying I could look past if he showed absolutely no sign of it now (not even in the least. No mocking people, kind to waitstaff, etc) but the upskirt stuff I would not be able to see past. That shows an absolute disregard for women that I have a hard time believing could have completely changed and would always wonder if he just didn’t show me that side of him. It is particularly egregious that they shared the videos. That isn’t immaturity, that is predator crap.

      1. Observer*

        In my experience, the reverse is more true. Upskirt stuff is more likely to be immaturity, whereas bullying tends to be more about character. But, in both cases, people really often do grow up and change. As others have said, a lot depends on what else Tanaya sees and knows.

    5. BRR*

      I think it depends on how remorseful you think he is. It’s difficult to judge somebody for what they did in HS.

    6. blackcat*

      How long ago was this? You’re 21, and my opinion would be different if it was when he was a senior (only 3 years ago, and an 18 year old should not be that stupid) or if he was significantly younger (5-6 years ago, freshman or sophomore, 14-16 year olds are way more likely to be that stupid).

      In my limited experience in staying in touch with the kids I used to teach (I was a high school teacher for a while, some of those kids are your age now), the ones who did grew out of doing stupid shit by their senior year have gotten their acts together. The ones who persisted in doing stupid shit through their senior year still do stupid shit now.

    7. edj3*

      Is he remorseful or repentant? Because to me remorse is being sorry you got caught, and repentance usually involves some sort of making amends. Has he considered reaching out to those he bullied and apologizing?

      At the end of the day, only you can decide your tolerance level; for me, without some demonstrated acts of repentance, I wouldn’t be very comfortable with him. But that’s my take and this is your life, not mine.

      1. TheLazyB*

        I would certainly not want those who bullied me to get in touch to apologise out of the blue. I am shuddering at the thought.

        1. fposte*

          Agreed. If you happen to encounter them, then that’s one thing, but reaching out spontaneously is 1) disruptive and 2) going to look like a bid for forgiveness, which makes it about the person reaching out.

    8. Kai*

      You’ve gotten some good advice here, and I wanted to just add that at the end of the day, if you really want to break up with him, that’s okay. It’s a completely valid thing to do whether or not his past behavior seems to warrant it–your feeling disgusted by it is reason enough.

    9. Charity*

      I could look past a lot of youthful indiscretions or mistakes like bullying, drugs, fights, etc. But the upskirt videos and sharing of it raises huge red flags to me about not only his character but his views of women and whether he respects boundaries. I’d have a lot of trouble trusting him with any sort of intimacy, not knowing if he’d share private information with his friends or worse, has taken pictures or videos without my knowledge. Is he the kind of guy who would post nudes of ex girlfriends if there is a bad breakup?

      In the end, you have to think about his current behavior and whether it shows he’s changed. Actions speak louder than words. Does he mistreat waiters/customer service? Does he mock people or put them down a lot in the name of “just being honest”?

      When it comes to you, is he pushy or hostile when you say no to things, especially sex? Does he make generally disparaging or misogynistic remarks about other women (e.g. what a slut, etc etc)? If he talks about or refers to his ex girlfriends, is any of it unhealthily aggressive? What do you think of his current group of friends? Are they mature? What sort of attitudes do they hold towards women?

      For me personally, sexual transgressions against women isn’t something I could look past, but only you know him well enough to say what kind of person he is now, and whether the remorse is genuine.

      1. vvondervvoman*

        All of this. You have to take this information as a single data point. Do all the other data points skew in the same or opposite direction? That’ll give you your answer.

        For what it’s worth, my partner did all sorts of terrible things in high school. Shoplifted thousands of dollars worth of merchandise, got arrested, etc. He’s now the most honest person I know. My older brother was picked up constantly by cops in high school. Arson, vandalism, parties, all of it. He cheated on his girlfriends all the time and treated them like crap. He straightened up at 19–he’s now 25 and has a college degree, a lovely girlfriend of several years (no cheating!) and a 6-figure job. I of course hate him a little bit because I work at a non-profit making peanuts and was a model student/child, but I’m so proud of how he turned out. He still calls me for advice on how to handle fights he has with his girlfriend and what gift to get her etc. and it’s the sweetest thing in the world. Really, most people’s youth doesn’t define them if they don’t want it to. The decision you make as an adult whether or not to be a different person is what matters the most.

        Also, talk to his sister or other female close to him. They’ll tell you straight up :-)

    10. Beezus*

      I am with someone who did awful things before we met. What made it okay for me was his absolute abject remorse for what he did – no excuses, no justification, no bitterness at the people he hurt or at the repercussions to him. And, he brought it up voluntarily and early – as soon as he knew we were serious – instead of hoping I would not find out.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. My husband did some unacceptable things in his formative years. And I have friends that should have ended up in jail for the stuff they pulled. But a large amount of time had passed between the ugly stuff and the time I met them. They demonstrated in many, many ways that they had outgrown that mindset.

        As an example- let’s say my friend was a former cat-kicker. Now the friend is very kind to all animals and very gentle with cats. This to me looks like cat kicking is a thing in the past that is over and not coming back.

    11. I used to think I had a porpoise*

      I think that a lot of bad behavior (in High School and elsewhere) tends to arise from a group dynamic. So, pragmatically, I’d look to see how he acts when he’s with his friends. Does he refuse to hang out with them anymore? That would be a good sign. Do they still get together sometimes and have a few drinks? You might want to hang out and see how it goes.

    12. Alma*

      Check out the number of power outlets in each room, and check the fuse box to see if it is possible to plug in what you need and not continually pop the circuit breaker. (I was in a place built in the 1970’s, and both bathrooms – literally at opposite ends of the place – were on the same breaker. If there was something like dueling hair dryers running, both bathrooms lost power.)

      1. Alma*

        How’d this get here? Oooops, meant for the trying to pick out an apartment in two days…

    13. Alma*

      One thing I noted is that apparently you found out about what he was in on. Did he not tell you this on his own?? What was his reaction to you finding out?

  53. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    I love garage sales!

    Never really been a huge fan of ’em, but after today’s run, I’m sold.

    Found 12 glass tea cups and their little plate… For 4 euros! I had originally planned on buying maybe just two and thought they’d be like 1 or 2 euros each… So when the guy told me I could have the 12-set for 4 euros, I just got ’em all.

    Then we found a guy that sold Lego and my fiancé dealt with him (guy does most garage sales in the area and they know each other xD) and the guy had… a bike that I can use, for 30 euros xD .

    And then, boom. Guy was selling a computer chair. We ask for the price, he looks at his wife, shrugs, and tells “10 euros” with a smile. BOOM. Sold.

    So I’m all around happy! Fiancé was in it for the Lego but I’m glad I got some good stuff too :P

    1. nep*

      Wonderful. Garage and moving sales are great. I’m excited we’re just getting into ‘garage sale season’ here.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I’m more interested in the fact that the French have garage sales! I’m American but lived in Germany with a family over the summer a few years ago and I commented on the lack of yard/garage sales and my host mother seemed to think a garage sale would be tacky to have. They lived in an upper scale suburban area outside of Munich and I never saw anything like that. I don’t know if it’s just the area they lived in or my host mother’s own opinion but I just thought that maybe Europeans weren’t as into the idea as Americans are (we do love a good garage sale. Whole communities plan them for the same day sometimes)!

      1. Myrin*

        I’m an hour south of Munich and garage sales definitely aren’t common. It has nothing to do with tackiness, though, it just… isn’t a thing I guess. (Sometimes, children will put up a table in front of their house and sell old stuff but as far as I can tell that’s not the same as a garage sale, is it?)

      2. Kate R. Pillar*

        Germany’s more of a flea market country – just about everywhere there are big organised flea markets ranging in frequency from every week to once or twice a year. You can book some space and sell your stuff (sometimes there are flea markets organised just for specific things, like ski gear or kids’ stuff). Usually there’s a mix of private and professional sellers at these affairs.

        That or newspaper/online ads (newspaper ads are often free if you’re giving stuff away or selling below 50 EUR). Increasingly, eBay.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Garage sales are one thing I really miss living in NYC. It’s just not a thing here, and you can’t really trust used furniture because of bed bugs.

      Random vocabulary word: the little plates that go with tea cups are called saucers. :)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      Ha, those are fun to go to. Having them, however, is a whole other thing! Lots of work for little money. That’s why I’m going to donate all the stuff I’m getting rid of instead of having a sale. I won’t do it again unless I move and am selling furniture.

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

        Well here it the city organizes it, most of the time. You pay a small fee for a table and whoosh, there you go. Since I’m in a small village, some people even had their tables directly in front of their house, which was really cute.

        I’m just so happy I got that bike… I haven’t used it yet, I’m a little scared to go at it again, but I sure as heck am going to get as much use out of it as I can :P .

        1. Elizabeth West*

          We have city sales too, but they usually happen at the fairgrounds and people set up tables and booths. Neighborhoods have them too. :)

          Yay for the bike, too! :)

  54. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.*

    Let me throw this out to you.

    Imagine you have a mother-in-law. She’s a nice person, but she has issues and keeping her under control and managing those issues when she visits can be a challenge.

    Now, we all know the rule is, the actual child of the parent is the one who is responsible for managing the parent. I’m supposed to be able to glare at my husband and say, “YOU deal with her.” And then, as the child, they have a certain amount of authority with the parent to tell them to cut it out.

    My mother-in-law is visiting this weekend. The trick in the situation? She is also my husband’s “mother-in-law”!

    She’s the mother of my late husband, and the kids’ grandmother. 20 years now we’ve been dealing with this and she’s not actually related to either one of us!!

    I’m starting to wonder how old the kids (who are 21 and 23) have to get before I’m allowed to glare at them and say “YOU deal with this”. :-)

    Just venting. She’s fine. We’ll get through this. (As long as she is back in her car to Baltimore MD by 4pm today that is).

    Odd set up though, yes?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Definitely an odd set-up, but a very kind one, especially if she’s staying with you. Just breathe, you’ll get through it! She has to leave eventually, right?

      Baltimore, huh? I probably know this lady. I sure know quite a few like her! :)

    2. TheLazyB*

      I would be really, really tempted to start to back off now and let the kids manage their own relationship with her!

      Hope it goes/went well (depending on time zone!).

    3. Not So NewReader*

      This is one of those things you throw out to the universe and the universe repays you ten-fold. But the repayment comes MUCH later.

      It ain’t easy being a good person, is it? You and your hubby are good people.

  55. nep*

    Iffy mole update — Finally got in to see the dermatologist on Friday. She removed it and they’re going to do a biopsy. It was raised and sometimes itchy…overall annoying so I’m quite glad to be rid of it. Now I wait to hear what the biopsy shows.

    1. fposte*

      Good luck, nep. There is a weird decluttering-type satisfaction in being rid of them, I find, even if they weren’t going to cause cancer-type trouble.

    2. Mimmy*

      In all likelihood, the results will be fine, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed anyway.

    3. Dang*

      Been there.. Sucks. I’m sure everything is fine but I know it’s not a good feeling. Glad you got it taken care of.

  56. nep*

    Any fitness / group ex instructors out there?
    Colleagues and I were having a discussion yesterday about the illegality of using original artists’ music for classes — risking a lawsuit. Do you use original artists’ music for your classes, or those cover CDs that are designed for the group ex setting?

    1. thisit*

      i used to teach yoga and spin. i’ve always used the original music – it never even occurred to me to do otherwise! hmmm.

    2. Elkay*

      I think in the UK gyms can have a licence which allows them to play original music/radio. I’m guessing with stuff like Zumba which you have to be licensed to teach (because it’s a brand) your license to teach covers stuff like use of music.

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Hmm. I’d never thought about that. A lot of the instructors I see use remixes (I think mainly so the beat stays constant throughout the workout). Why would they need permission? Because they’re profiting from it?

    4. Trixie*

      I know Les Mills programs have a licensing agreement with each artist they work with but they’re also on a larger scale, similar to Zumba. For yoga and pilates, I’m concerned only about “clean” lyrics for class.

      1. the gold digger*

        And it was always pretty clear to me in Body Pump that Les Mills looks to cut royalty payments any way they can. How else do you explain a routine set to a rap version of “The Lonely Goatherd” song from “The Sound of Music?”

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Eeeh I never thought about this at all. The few times I’ve been to any classes, they just used the original stuff. And I suppose production companies who put out DVDs like the Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies stuff pay license fees. I never do that when I cut music for skating, nor has anyone else I’m aware of–we’re probably going afoul of some public performance laws, but no one has ever said anything about it.

  57. AmyNYC*

    Anyone out there live in Burlington VT, Portland ME or Portsmouth NH? My boyfriend and I are talking about leaving New York for a small city with easy access to outdoorsy stuff (hiking, camping) and I’ve got family in New England. We’re 29 and 30, sort of homebodies – we don’t need clubs and crazy bars, but we like exploring the city with our dog, trying new restaurants, going to breweries, visiting museums, board games, rock climbing…
    What is the best and worst part of living there?
    Ideally, we’ll have one car between the two of us, can we get around mainly using public transit?
    Any neighborhoods you can recommend?

    1. in VT*

      (changed my name so my location doesn’t get tied to my regular name)

      I’m in the Burlington, VT area. I live across the river in Winooski but work in Burlington. Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, Colchester, Essex Junction, Shelburne and Williston are all concentrated together and a really easy commute from each other, and all served by the same public transit. (I don’t use public transit so I can’t give much information on that but it seems okay).

      This area would match up pretty perfectly with your interests–very dog friendly, great hiking, breweries and restaurants. I don’t rock climb but know lots of people who do in this area. Church street has a great atmosphere, theres lots of great parks on the waterfront. Theres a few nice museums, but they wouldn’t compare to what you’d have access to in New York.

      Renting can be expensive, especially when looking for something pet friendly (of course that is relative). Property taxes can be a little high as well but depending on your income, you can get a partial rebate from the state. There are a lot of students competing for housing in some parts of town as well. When you go a little further from the city center housing becomes more reasonable though, including the New North End and Winooski.

      To me the best part of living here is the outdoorsy/nature bit, and no big city problems like gridlock traffic. The worst is that if there’s a store or service that isn’t in the area, it can be an inconvenience. Theres also a very limited list of places with direct flights, so you almost always have to have a connection to fly anywhere, sometimes two. Montreal is pretty close though which is nice.

      I’d be happy to answer any more questions

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am several hours away from Burlington, myself.

        Once in great while, I make a trip up that way. In the past it has been for the tent sales at Gardener’s Supply.

        I love Burlington, I cannot say enough positive. The people are so kind there.

        The winters must be challenging though because of being so close to the water like that and so far north.

        1. in VT*

          The winters actually aren’t too bad. Lake Champlain isn’t big enough to produce lake effect snow, and if you are in the valley the temperatures are more mild compared to the mountains. I think they actually get worse winters in Southern Vermont.
          That said, if you’re comparing to NYC then the winters may be a little colder, and once the snow comes it usually sticks. We’ve got a fair number of hilly and windy roads that can get tough in winter and explains why Subarus are so popular. All wheel drive really does help.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      I’ve only been to NH/ME on one trip, but pretty much all of those cities have adorable downtown areas where everything is, and housing goes out from there. From what you’re saying, it sounds like you want to live within 20-30 minute walk from downtown and have bikes and 1 car. Public transportation isn’t going to be great, and biking in the snow isn’t too bad!

      1. Treena Kravm*

        Forgot to add: the big box stores/shopping plazas are usually driving distance away. My husband and I share a car, but I’m the only one who really uses it, so it works for us.

    3. Samantha*

      Portsmouth is awesome but expensive. Parking can be a huge issue too, especially in the winter.

    4. abby*

      Hi AmyNYC! I’m from Maine – not Portland, but my sibs have lived there for ages and I’ve spent a lot of time there. The Old Port in Portland is awesome – beautiful waterfront, cobblestones, cute stores, nice restaurants, etc. (Let me repeat – GREAT restaurant culture, especially if you like seafood and local food.) However…. transit in Portland is pretty terrible, sorry to say. Getting better, I think! But my experience has been that you have to drive to get anywhere. However, if you are able to afford to live near the Old Port, that might not be a problem for you! Rent/housing prices there are surprisingly expensive, though of course not at NYC housing levels. Whether one car would be enough would depend on you and your boyfriend’s job situations. If you both work out of the home, sharing a car might be hard (if you are not working near each other). Speaking of, I would definitely make sure to get a job before moving there, just because the Maine job market is not especially robust… which is one of the reasons I am not there anymore. Not sure how much time you’ve spent in Portland, but I would definitely make sure that you visit to make sure you like the culture. It’s very very different from NYC – it’s so small that it can feel like a small town after a while, not a city :(. This sounds like I don’t like Portland, but I really do! I hope you visit and love it too. (Burlington and Portsmouth are fantastic places, too.)

      Wow, to get on topic: best part of Portland – access to quiet, nature, and fantastic restaurants, worst part of Portland – bad transit, terrible winter, hard to convince others to visit!

    5. AmyNYC*

      Wow! Thanks for all the replies! We’re just at the information gathering stage, but hopefully this summer we’ll be able to visit some of these cities, and this information is super helpful!

  58. straw poll*

    I also enjoy learning new things and taking classes. I’m thinking of taking English riding lessons. I used to ride horses (western style) a fair amount as a kid. I live in a horse crazy area so there a lot of places that offer lessons. The lessons are also pricey though IMO.

    Has anyone taking English riding lessons? If so, how was your experience and how did you find the stable/instructor?

    1. Otter box*

      Oh man, I would love to do this again. I took lessons in high school, but shortly after graduating I had a bad fall and broke my arm in two places, and have barely had any opportunities to ride again. I don’t know how we originally found my instructor because my parents did all of that (I was only 14 or so), but I think it was through a newspaper ad – maybe the modern-day equivalent is a Craigslist ad? I haven’t looked into it, but now I’m curious!

      And yes, it is expensive as heck. I keep telling myself that if I get a big enough raise, I’ll look into leasing a horse again, but sadly I am not in a good city for affordable horse stuff, and my raises all go into higher and higher rent :-/

      Good luck though! I miss riding so much!

    2. BAS*

      I’ve been riding since I was like 6 and have my own horse. Usually when I want to try a new trainer, I take an exploratory lesson to get a feel for the instructor and if his/her style will mesh well with how I like to ride/what I want to get out of the lesson.I think when I FIRST started taking lessons as a kid, I started by just taking a tour of the facilities. I know our local tack shop has a trainer list, but I usually found trainers through word-of-mouth, which is how a lot of people find out about stuff in the horse world.

  59. brightstar*

    Since people were so nice as to give me advice on my planned shopping trip last week, I thought I’d mention how it turned out. Wednesday I bought new shoes at Clark’s, a pair of black flats and black high heels. The salesperson said to wear them around the house first but I didn’t do that and have huge popped blisters on the back of my heels as a result. Then, yesterday I got to the mall at 10:30 and ended my shopping at Target, getting home at 6:30. As a consequence my feet ache from all the walking in cheap sandals that I bought at Payless (see above raw heels).

    My most expensive items purchased were shoes and bras. But I’m willing to spend for those items when I can. I learned that overalls, rompers, and jumpsuits are trying to make a come back. SO MANY ROMPERS IN THE STORES! Calvin Klein clothes look horrible on me. I thought I was too fat to the shop at the Limited but ended up buying four really pretty blouses for work there, for $80 total. They were having a BOGO sale and I found two shirts on clearance. The plastic bags the big chain stores are the worst. The Dillard’s clearance center I went to after lunch had amazing deals, but you have to dig and dig and I was too tired and still had more shopping ahead of me. We’re talking designer stuff for $20. And even though I saw a necklace I really liked, I’m not willing to spend $160 on beads (it was three strands of different purple beads and gorgeous but no, I won’t spend that much).

    I pretty much collapsed when I got home, and took a hot bath using a LUSH bath bomb and drank wine and fell asleep on the couch. At some time today I have to put up everything I bought yesterday, probably after I take my Mom to a belated Mother’s Day lunch (her choice was to go the week after).

    1. Blue_eyes*

      Sounds great! Shoes and bras are definitely good investments – you will notice a difference in those more than any other item. Have you tried Anne Taylor LOFT? I went to a LOFT outlet last week and got two pairs of shorts for $40 because they were BOGO.

      1. brightstar*

        I bought two cardigans (one hot pink, one pale blue) at Ann Taylor Loft yesterday. They were on sale and I got both for $35!

        My biggest find was a pair of Eileen Fisher black trousers at the Dillard’s Outlet. They were originally $178 and I paid less than $40 for those.

    2. Trixie*

      Maybe it was just the Steinmart I was at but all I saw were peasant skirts, and lots of tunics meant to be worn with leggings or skinny jeans neither of which I wear. I’m easily reminded why I like dresses so much.

      1. Rene UK*

        I remember jumpsuits/ rompers! They were fine, nice not to have to match anything, until you end up in a tiny bathroom stall with a wet floor. Nothing like having to practically undress to go to the bathroom!

        1. brightstar*

          Trying to go to the bathroom in a romper seems like a nightmare.

          Trixie, I saw quite a few peasant skirts at various stores.

        2. Blue_eyes*

          I just bought my first romper and I tried on quite a few. Many of them (especially the cheaper ones) seem to have been so quickly produced that they forgot that an actual person has to get into them. They seem to be cut like dresses, but the designers forgot that you can’t pull a romper on over your head. So then you have to squeeze your hips through the neck hole, and it’s just not big enough.

  60. regularly anonymous*

    I celebrated my adult bar mitzvah 10 years ago and it is our reunion next week. I don’t want to go. I said I was going to participate in the service but now I just am not feeling like going – I am feeling like there I am again the single person with no family present and I just feel like a loser. Yes, everyone loves me supposedly but I am not close to anyone and in the end I am there alone and what does it matter if I am there? everyone else seems to be there with their significant other and/or children. I know it’s a bad attitude on my part but I am having a real hard time moving out of it.

    1. TheLazyB*

      Aww that sounds tough.

      Do you actually WANT to go? I can’t tell :-/ if you want to go for yourself is there someone you can reach out to who would make sure you’re included in things?

      But if you don’t wanna – that’s ok too.

      Good luck whatever you decide. I would recommend doing something nice yourself either instead, or afterwards, depending on whether you go.

  61. Crazy Cat Lady*

    Hey y’all, need advice from all you cat lovers! My cat had a stressful few weeks (house move, vet once a week for a month for arthritis injections etc) but was settling in A-OK to the new place. I had the litter box in my ensuite and she started to walk the litter everywhere – it got caught in her paws. My first option was to buy a hooded litter box but since it gets stuck that did nothing. Eventually I got sick of it and shipped it to the laundry. Exactly the same thing happened at our old house so I didn’t think it would be a big deal. She appeared to use it in the laundry, all good. Then we go downhill. I discover she’s peeing (and a few times pooping) in this specific corner of my bedroom under a wicker chair. Then it’s behind this bookshelf in the kitchen. Then next to the couch. Needless to say I am frustrated beyond belief. She is now permanently locked in my ensuite (as I can easily clean piss off tiles but not carpet) and only comes out when I am home and can supervise. I thought she was getting better but twice now have caught her under the chair, peeing/about to pee. I’ve been to the vet numerous times and have ruled out several things but now they want to do an ultra sound to see if it’s crystals or a tumor or whatever. The problem is I am a student and can’t afford endless vet visits. I also think it’s cruel to keep her locked in the bathroom every night (when she would normally sleep with me / free run of the house) and every day when I’m at college / working. I’ve tried to make her comfortable but obviously it isn’t the life I want her to have. I can’t afford the ultra sound ($320) and they also want ANOTHER urine test ($60). I’ve got this cat piss carpet cleaner stuff which is meant to neutralize the pheromones but she keeps going to the same spot. I put a tray in that corner of the room but obviously a litter tray one foot from my bed isn’t ideal, and she still peed around it. She is 11, litter trained so it’s probably a health issue not behavioral but the vet is playing expensive guessing games. What do I do? I can’t afford to run every test under the sun but re homing would be nearly impossible in this condition. Any advice would be welcome!

    1. Sarah*

      Is it possible you could set up a payment plan with the vet?

      Or see if there’s a good specialist in your area you could go to- I know it sounds counterintuitive, but specialist visits have been cheaper for me with my 13 year old cat. They charge more for the initial consultation than the regular vet but often play fewer guessing games and know a problem when they see it. We spent so much time & money getting the poor little guy x-rays, EKGs, urine tests, etc etc at the regular vet. We took him to a kitty neurologist and he shined a light in his eyes and went “oh yep that’s probably a stroke, here’s an upped dosage of his meds, no need for an MRI, call me if anything changes.” $75 and a very low stress environment. It had obviously helped that we had gotten all those tests done but honestly, all he needed was his blood pressure results to figure that out.

    2. Today's anon*

      Have you changed the type of litter? My cat had similar issues and it turned out she became sensitive to the litter she had used all her life. I put in a bunch of puppy training pads in the places where she was peeing and that helped at least not get the pee in the carpets/sofa. I tried a bunch of brands but in the end now I use old newspaper (the real thing, not the litter that is old news or something like that). It’s annoying and I have to change it more often but it has solved her peeing out of the litter box. She also has become more sensitive about only peeing once in said litter boxes so I have 3 in the bathroom. It’s a pain but she’s old (18) and it’s definitively better than peeing on the sofa.

    3. jhhj*

      I’ve never used it, but I hear Feliway can work magic.

      Also: make sure the litter tray is really clean, and try a different brand of litter. (I’ve found my cats rather like wood chips, though they are harder to find so I usually use normal clumping.)

    4. Sparrow*

      Is there a low cost vet in your area? Maybe a local shelter or rescue group could recommend something. Or perhaps your vet (or another vet) could offer some kind of payment plan to help ease the cost?You could try changing to Cat Attract litter. That helped my big tabby boy get back to using the box after he had issues.

      If sounds likely that it is a health issue, especially since she is a bit older. Good luck. I’ve dealt with two cats at once having litter box issues and it’s a really tough situation. Hoping you’re able to get this resolved.

    5. Come On Eileen*

      Is she peeing in places that are close to windows, or the edges of a room? If so I’d wonder if she’s marking her territory against outside cats that she can see from the windows.

      Another (cheap) option is to add a second litter box.

      Also, I love love love Jackson Galaxy and all of his great cat behavior advice. If you don’t watch his TV show or follow his Facebook page, check them out. He’s got a ton of insight into cats :-)

    6. Bangs not Fringe*

      One possibility: Our male cat started doing this and it was due to a UTI of some kind. For us it was easy to tell because one of his go-to spots was the bathtub and we would sometimes find tiny bits of pink (blood) with the urine. Cats with urinary tract issues will often gravitate towards soft surfaces (carpet, furniture, piles of clothing). Mine must have liked the cool feeling of the tub. But mostly it is thought that they associate the litter box with their discomfort and pain, so they go elsewhere.

      When the cat goes to the bathroom outside the box, is it large or small amounts of urine? If they’re small, it could be a sign of urinary tract problems and not just a behavioral issue. If so, you can bring this up with the vet and possibly avoid the ultrasound. Be frank with the vet that you want to help you cat but cannot afford the ultrasound. Ask about other options. If they offer none, call around to other veterinarians in the area.

      To address the litter tracking problem, I highly recommend the Blackhole Litter Mat. It might be stupidly expensive but there’s nothing worse then having litter in your bed and this mat actually does the job.

  62. edj3*

    Going to Bangalore (shh for work, not asking about work). I will be there over a weekend, by myself. Any places I should see in the city? Not up for traveling much of anywhere else, it’s going to be a pretty tiring trip already but if you have suggestions for Bangalore itself, I’m all ears.

    1. RR*

      I’m a little late, but if you’re still reading, here are a few suggestions:
      1. Vidana Soudha
      2. Bangalore Palace
      3. Tipu Sultan’s palace
      4. Lalbagh botanical gardens
      5. ISKCON Temple
      6. Saint Mark’s Cathedral

  63. wardrobe malfunction*

    Super late to the party, but: does anyone have a magic trick for making shirt collars lie properly (without getting smushed) under a blazer, without starch involved?

    I’m talking about women’s blouses specifically, which don’t even have buttons all the way up (I imagine to the tie-wearing population this isn’t an issue).

      1. wardrobe malfunction - OP*

        Interesting! On me, I always feel like it makes me look like an extra on That 70s Show, but ‘cool’ is also not a word that could’ve ever been used to describe my wardrobe or fashion sense in general, so please don’t take that as criticism.

        (We should probably stop this line of conversation here, though, before it turns into another Hose Discussion, and leave it at ‘personal taste’ ^^)

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      If it’s a women’s blouse that doesn’t have buttons all the way up, it’s pretty much designed to spread open at the collar and you are fighting a losing battle. If you prefer the tucked-under look, stick with more traditional oxford cuts with buttons all the way up.

  64. straw poll*

    Any cleaning product recommendations for cleaning linoleum? My apartment has cheap linoleum in the bathroom that is impossible to get clean – it constantly looks dirty, even after I just mopped it.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Depending on the size of the area this could become extremely tedious, but what about Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (and a lot of elbow grease)?

    2. fposte*

      I’d work on an inconspicuous corner with whatever big guns you try rather than committing yourself to the whole floor–that way if it’s bad it’s only bad in a corner, and if it’s good you know what to shoot for elsewhere.

      I think there’s a chance it’s either a pattern that looks dirty or the dirty is ground in at this point, but it’s certainly worth a try–those transformations can be amazing.

    3. Sparrow*

      You could try a steam mop I bought one by Shark recently and really like it.

      In our old house we had white linoleum and I would clean it with one of those Swiffer wet cloths. Then I used the Mr. Clean Magic eraser to clean it by hand. I used the Mr. Clean about once a month because it was a bit of work.

    4. A Little Green*

      I got on my hands and knees on the cheap linoleum in my kitchen that had been driving me insane for months, because no matter how much I mopped it, it looked dirty. It took several hours and a ton of elbow grease, but I went section by section and scrubbed deep (clorox clean-up, mop detergent, coarse cloths, coarse sponges, magic eraser) and by the time I finished… it looked like a completely different floor. Not brand new, but SO much better. Just mopping wasn’t doing the trick.

      Now as needed I will get down on hands and knees again to take care of a trouble spot, but it is nothing like it first was.

      I am also about to get a steam mop, as mentioned by a few others!!

      Good luck!

    5. Madeye*

      Have you tried a solution of 1 part white vinegar, 2 drops dish liquid to 5 parts water? I find this cleans almost anything.

  65. Blergh*

    I love dogs. I have several of my own.

    Yesterday, my neighbor’s dog bit me. I was outside gardening, and the neighbors and dog returned from a walk. The dog was barking at me, but I thought it was just his friendly bark (he’s a hound dog so he woo woos a lot). I moved to pet him, and the owner loosened the leash so the dog could come up to me. The next thing I knew, my arm was in his mouth. I have three puncture wounds.

    The owner was very apologetic, said I should go to the hospital, etc. For my part, I was only thinking of the dog and didn’t want the dog to be in trouble. So a few minutes later, the owner comes out to make sure I am ok and says he is “getting rid of him [the dog].”

    There are two main things I can think played a role. 1. I was wearing gardening gloves. Dogs are weird. Maybe the gloves freaked him out. 2. The owner said the dog was getting hip dysplasia and they had just been on a 2 1/2 mile walk. Maybe he was in pain and redirected on me.

    I feel terrible about the whole thing. I should not have approached a dog who was barking at me. I am terrified the owner is going to euthanize him rather than seek out a behaviorist for training.

      1. Blergh*

        Yes, I expressed most of these concerns yesterday. I just spoke to the roommate and apparently the owner was just freaked out yesterday. However, he did tell me that this is the third time the dog has bitten someone, so that changes the situation a bit. I thought that I was the first. So there definitely needs to be a behaviorist involved.

    1. Dang*

      I hope you do get it checked out…animal bites should always be taken seriously.

      It sounds to me like your neighbor is trying to avoid a lawsuit. If you could talk to him and let him know wher you stand, maybe that would help. And don’t blame yourself. The neighbor knows the dog better than you do and let him off leash..if he was worried about it he wouldn’t have done that. It was unexpected for all of you.

      1. Blergh*

        As it turns out, after speaking to the roommate, I am actually the third bite victim. So that changes things a bit. A behaviorist definitely needs to be in the picture.

        1. JMW*

          That changes things a lot. Our neighbor’s dog bit my husband three times (and my husband is great with dogs, so this was really odd). The family just apologized but never did anything about it because their son was sick and they didn’t want him to lose his dog, which we understood. So every time someone new moved in the street, my husband would make a point of telling them not to trust that dog. One day the family came home to find the dog had shredded their cat. I don’t think a dog that bites more than once can be trusted.

    2. Clever Name*

      I agree. Talk to her. I think a lot of the time when dogs bite people, it’s not always the dog’s fault. I’m recalling an incident that happened locally where a dog fell through some ice on a pond and was rescued. Only a day or two later the dog and his owner were on the local news. The dog had just gone through a terribly traumatic experience and was showing signs of stress and nervousness during the interview. Of course, everyone was shocked when the dog bit the news anchor in the face when she put her face in the dog’s face and petted him vigorously. The dog owner never should have put that dog in that situation, and the news anchor shouldn’t have made a move that the dog interpreted as aggressive.

    3. AnnieNonymous*

      Make it clear that you don’t intend to sue, but you should be aware that once you seek on-the-record medical care in a hospital for a dog bite, it starts a process of filing animal control reports that you can’t (and really shouldn’t) try to stop. This dog may have bitten people before, and if the owner feels that he does not have the time or money to properly retrain a dog, he’s in the right by trying to re-home it. There is a lot of pressure to adopt rescues and even more pressure to never admit that you may not be able to handle a troubled animal. It’s the owner’s right to decide that he can no longer be responsible for an animal that bites.

      1. JMW*

        The dog that bit you could bite someone else. This may not be about whether you will sue or not, it may be about not wanting to risk this happening again, because next time it could be worse. Owning a dog that is known to bite confers considerable liability on the owner.

      2. Sunshine Brite*

        Yes, and you should seek medical care. Your health is at risk for a dog. I like dogs, but that’s not a choice in my book. It’s really not your fault either way how your neighbor handles this and you should try not to judge any path they choose. This could really be the tip of the glacier for this dog.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        He’s NOT in the right to re-home without disclosing that this dog has bitten people. I am concerned about this. I hope he’s planning to be honest about the reasons.

        Also, yes, you need to get that looked at ASAP and I would also want to know that the dog has had all its shots. Get vet records from the neighbor if possible. If he’s trying to re-home, he could be doing it to avoid the liability, so I’m even more concerned now about this.

        1. Blergh*

          I spoke to the roommate. He is not rehoming or euthanizing the dog. Hopefully he will be smarter in the future about how this dog interacts with people.

    4. Anx*

      I agree that the gloves may be a factor. I know it shouldn’t matter and that a dog should never act out that way, but I strongly believe that anything that interferes with body language can set a dog off.

      I am always nervous around kids on bicycles or in strollers or people on crutches or in chairs when a strange dog is nearby.

    5. jhhj*

      “Get rid of him” could equal “give him to someone who has time and money for training”. Or it could mean “you’re the fifth person he’s bitten this week alone and nothing we do has worked”.

      1. Blergh*

        As it turns out, after speaking to the roommate, I am actually the third bite victim. I was led to believe that it was the first time it had happened, so this news changes things a bit. A behaviorist definitely needs to be in the picture.

        1. Sunshine Brite*

          And for the human for loosening the leash like that. I’m surprised animal control hasn’t stepped in yet.

        2. fposte*

          Oh, wow. Yeah, that’s a whole nother story, and it’s on the owner for not being much more careful and warning people.

  66. Meadowsweet*

    How do you find things you like to do?
    It’s been a rough few years, and I’ve sort of…fallen away…from everything I used to enjoy doing, and I can’t seem to work up any enthusiasm for trying anything new or getting back into what I used to enjoy. I want to do more than work, but I’m not really sure how to start anymore.

    1. Come On Eileen*

      I don’t have a good answer, but I empathize and would love to hear what other people have to say. I kinda feel in the same boat as you. Like I’ve forgotten how to be awesome.

    2. Treena Kravm*

      Make a bucket list of all the things you want to try. Use Meetups and groupons for inspiration and deals. Put anything/everything on the list, even stuff you’re pretty sure you won’t want to make a hobby. Then make it a goal to do one new thing every month/every other week or whatever works best, with no pressure on yourself but to enjoy the day. Then cycle through them until you want to repeat something vs. a new thing. That’s your clue that this might be your new hobby.

      I really like the 101 things in 1001 days version. I don’t have anywhere near 101 things, but I like that there’s a timeline with no pressure and lots of options.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Sometimes I hitch my wagon to what a friend is doing. “Oh, I have always wanted to try that, can I go with you once to see if it is something I would like to do?” My intent is not to go with my friend every time but to see if I want to do it on my own. It’s a good opportunity to ask questions, also.

    4. Student*

      If you don’t already have an idea of what might be fun, set some other objective that you can relate to as your starting point. For example:
      Volunteer for a cause
      Make a useful item
      Home improvement project

      Pick something that is beneficial to you so you have a good reason to stick with it. If you can’t settle on something that holds meaning to you, then reach out to others and try out something important to them. Maybe something important to your direct family, or a good friend, as a way to try to build some bridges back to humanity. After giving it a good try, if nothing about it was fun, move on to trying something else. If it was a little fun, try again and see if it grows on you. And try to keep in mind that you won’t be great at it at first – it’ll take a bit of time to get a rhythm for your chosen activity.

    5. saro*

      So I had a similar issue and am still working through it but what worked for me was to just look at what other people were doing and trying it. I do a quick gut check and see if I’m drawn to it. I’m now slowly trying to get into sewing, which I enjoy. My next personal goal is to be more of a doer.

  67. AVP*

    Can I just vent for 30 seconds about people, adults, who have good paying jobs and heath insurance, over 30, who still talk their friends into moving apartments for them instead of hiring real movers? And then plan the whole thing out badly, so that it takes three times as long as it would have if it had been done efficiently? grrr.

    1. Jean*

      I hope you have health insurance, especially if you overstrained any part of your body while helping your friend(s) with good paying jobs and health insurance. Maybe next time, offer to bring the beer & pizza instead of carting furniture around. I’m not trying to be harsh to you–I know about wanting to be nice to one’s friends–I’m just on a boundaries binge at present. (Will post about this in a separate comment below.)

      1. AVP*

        Heh, no, I actually didn’t stick around. Luckily it was my boyfriend’s friends so I could pull a “actually I have to do some work this afternoon!” and got out of there before I started giving them the evil eye.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      I agree, I’ve always hated stuff like that. Like Oooh, you’re buying three large pizzas? For your friends who are doing a $300 job for you?

    3. A Little Green*

      Yes!! Just plan ahead and calculate the costs of movers into your moving budget!! It was fine when we were broke and new and young asking friends to help you move, but at a certain point its more hassle than anything!!!! A moving company, especially a local move, isn’t going to break the bank. Especially if you plan it correctly. Pack yourself, if you want to save time/cost move the smaller items in your own vehicle (clothing, household items etc) and save the big items for the movers!

      But yeah, expecting to/relying on/bugging your friends to help you move seems so not worth it the older and more established you get!!

    4. blackcat*

      The last time I moved across town, I mentioned that I was going to hire movers. One guy in my department was absolutely appalled, and promised everything would be fine in his hands with the assistance of a couple other of the guys (for the record, these guys are all early/mid 20s and are gym buddies. I am 28 and have bad back). I was a bit skeptical but didn’t want to ruffle feathers, so I agreed.

      And you know what? This guy is as good as a professional mover (he even had his own screwdriver with him to remove the doors/banisters!), and does an excellent job bossing around the other guys. It was amazing. Super efficient loading and unloading. The entire thing took less than 2 hours. (I had 95% of stuff adequately boxed up). I bought a ton of beer & pizza afterwards (which actually exceeded the cost of the in town uhaul) as payment, and let everyone bask in my new house with central A/C (it was a very hot day, and central air is rare here).

      So while I agree that you shouldn’t talk people into helping you move, maybe, just maybe, letting people talk you into *them helping you move* isn’t such a bad idea. Total cost of the move (uhaul + beer + pizza) was around $100.

    5. The IT Manager*

      Just refuse. I pay mover’s and I figure that totally justifies me telling anyone who asks no. I don’t ask you to help me so don’t ask me to help you move.

      And when you add in apartment so likely stairs – just say no.

  68. AnonTenant*

    Update from my post a few weeks ago when I asked about illegally subletting my Bay Area apartment to live elsewhere with my boyfriend (and give up my good deal on rent):

    Thanks to all of you that replied. I used my words and talked about it with my boyfriend, and we’ve decided to stay at my place instead of moving! He said the most important thing for him is just that we get to live together, and if I’m at all hesitant about leaving this place it’s totally fine and he’s happy to stay here! He really likes this apartment. The biggest concern is getting everything to fit. I realize I need to de-clutter so he has room for his stuff and it doesn’t feel so packed. And I can definitely do that! Anyway, I’m feeling so much better- and so excited to ‘nest’ with him in this apartment. And of course, it was just one more example of how using my words and talking about things makes a huge difference!

  69. poetics*

    Has anyone had any success with strategies or treatments for social anxiety? I get really uncomfortable around large groups of strangers, although I do relatively well one on one. I’m recognizing that I need to work on it, but have no idea where to start. Anyone have any suggestions or experience with this? Thanks in advance!

    1. A Little Green*

      Low dose anti-anxiety meds saved my life when I was going through a really rough patch. I am no longer on them (I was on clonazepam) but for instances where I feel anxiety about large groups, I definitely start small and warm up and then I make small efforts to just be warm and welcoming, smile and introduce myself, especially if the one person I know there, already knows some people, etc. Or I make small talk with someone else who may be solo. This slowly warms me up without making me feel like all eyes are on me. I stay to the sides of a room, typically. Then as I warm up, and see how the atmosphere is, and how personable people are, I’m more likely to engage in more conversation.

      Then I always remember / remind myself how well the last time went, to talk myself down from any panic or to keep myself from turning around and going home. The good thing is, even in large groups you’re not expected or required to be the source of entertainment for everyone there nor the center of attention. As long as you are personable and friendly and slightly engaging, you can keep your commitment to socializing to a minimum without appearing standoffish or feeling like you are being awkward.

      Often times / most times our own fears or anxieties create false realities for us. I try really hard not to over-think and just be in the moment. Enjoy meeting someone new (No expectations here! a quick convo doesn’t mean I have to continue to engage them or become their bff. Just a few laughs about a topic at hand or something funny that just happened, or how good the food/drinks are etc)

      Manage your expectations for yourself ahead of time. Remind yourself you don’t have to entertain everyone. Remind yourself you don’t have to be center of attention. Remind yourself a lot of people there may be just as nervous as you are. Remind yourself to keep it simple. Remind yourself that you can engage one or two people, while still appearing social.

      and treat yourself kind! You are allowed to excuse yourself if you feel overwhelmed. A bathroom break, step outside for air, or even leave if it is too much for you.

    2. nep*

      What kind of settings are you referring to, exactly? Parties and the like? In what kind of settings does this come up?
      You could look at a crowd as just a series of individuals with whom you can have that one-on-one interaction you’re more comfortable with, instead of taking it as this huge wave of humans with whom you can’t possibly engage.
      I hear you — I get a bit anxious in large-group social situations. I don’t know whether self-consciousness is part of the issues; one of the things I always try to keep in mind is that people probably aren’t paying nearly as much attention to your every move as you might think.
      All the best to you.

    3. ઓ ૉ ஒ ೊ*

      It’s been years since I’ve taken it, but I had extremely good luck with Wellbutrin aka Bupropion. Although: I never had problems with (for instance) speaking to a large group of people. My issues were more like: how to effectively meet individuals in a crowd.

  70. A Little Green*

    We are getting ready to incorporate an LLC in order to open an online retail business, with plans to expand into other ventures once we have enough capital (namely income properties and other “passive” income) my partner and I need to agree on one thing!! We are incorporating in Delaware, although our nexus is in another state. Partner wants to name the LLC the name of our online store and says we can register as DBA for the other ventures in their respective locations under the name of that venture (for example the LLC will be called “CUTE STUFF BOUTIQUE, LLC” and then when we move into buying income properties we would register a fictitious name “PRIME PROPERTIES” or something of that nature) I don’t like this idea!!

    I think it would make much more sense to incorporate our business as “SMITH JOHNSON, LLC” and then have all of our ventures under our LLC. DBA: CUTE STUFF BOUTIQUE, PRIME PROPERTIES REAL ESTATE, HAPPY CAMPER HOUSE CLEANING, etc…

    Is there any reason my view of this is wrong compared to partners idea? Partner thinks it will be less hassle to register the LLC under name of online retail venture since its the only thing we have set in stone right now. But we do have long term plans and I think it will be less hassle for us to have one business entity incorporated with a broad scope and then create smaller ventures under the corporation?

    Am I completely naive about how this works? We are both very new to this and aren’t exactly 100% sure what to do here.

    1. A Little Green*

      I hope this doesn’t constitute as a work question????? I just realized it might. I dont look at it as that though, but my apologies if so.

      1. A Little Green*

        I’m not worried about any legal implications. Don’t need a lawyer to answer this question.

        I’m just asking about what would make more sense… for example, if you were a consumer, would you think it weird if you found out the house you were leasing was from a company called PRIME PROPERTIES owned by CUTE BOUTIQUE, LLC…. This is more of an opinion question. Not an “is this legal” question. I already know it is.

        Honestly, I already know it makes more sense the way I am proposing it. I guess I’m just looking for more people to agree with me! LOL.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I think that what you’re talking about is an umbrella corporation? This is what lawyers are for!

          But yes, I agree that it makes more sense to run several businesses under the umbrella of Smith Johnson Partners Inc./LLC and have Cute Boutiques (a division of Smith Johnson Partners) than the other way around. If you look at some websites of fairly large corporations, that’s what they do. I had a boyfriend a long time ago who had a generic business name. When I asked him about it, he said that using a generic name, the company could be about anything so he could change what he did and still keep the name if he wanted to. If I ever get it registered and off the ground, that is what I’m going to do with my next business, use a word that has absolutely nothing to do with a specific service or line of business, so I can change the service offerings or add new ones and not have any disconnect. I mean, Nike is the Greek goddess of victory, but now it’s pretty synonymous with sporting attire, but they started out with shoes (I think) and added the other stuff. If they suddenly decided to open a chain of Greek restaurants with that name, everyone would go “Whaaaat?” but sports bars might fly. If they were taken over by some other corporation, they would remain Nike, but a division of SuperHugeMega Corporation Inc.

    2. BRR*

      I’ve seen people name their LLC anything. I saw one named Red Herring LLC (red herring means deliberately misleading, I had to google it). The LLC name doesn’t matter.

    3. Twitcher*

      I don’t think it makes any difference. I’ve never paid the least attention to what the LLC behind a company was named.

      Given the current situation, your partner’s plan is probably what I’d do. I don’t think either of you are wrong. But that seems the most straightforward way to me.

  71. KarenT*

    Anyone have any tips for successfully lowering blood pressure? My doctor has diagnosed me as pre-hypertensive so I’m working on trying to lower it. I already exercise 3-4 times a week and dropped 30 lbs (though I still need to lose about 20 more).
    I don’t eat a lot of processed food though I do eat at restaurants a fair bit. I eat canned beans and tomatoes so I’m switching to no-salt varieties.
    Both of my parents have high blood pressure so I didn’t win the genetics lottery, but neither of then had it until they were older–I’m only 31.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Do you exercise regularly? My BP was pretty high before I started doing that. I lowered it quite a bit, and exercise is also a good stress reliever, which also helped. Getting an adequate amount of sleep will help too.

      1. KarenT*

        I do. I exercise 3-4 times a week, although this is a habit developed in the last year. Maybe it just needs more time!

    2. fposte*

      Did your doctor give you any suggestions, or are you going this on your own?

      It sounds like you’re doing pretty well to me, so the question may be how much farther you’re willing to go. Restaurant food can be pretty intense, so if you can cut back on that that might be helpful. You might also try mindfulness training, which seems to have some effect on blood pressure, and can also be a nice break from stress.

      1. KarenT*

        My doctor was more focusing on me losing the last 20 lbs and cutting back on salt. You’re right, though, it seems like dining out less is the next step :)

    3. JMW*

      A soldier from Desert Storm told me that high blood pressure was common there because of dehydration. Blood would become thick from lack of fluids, and the heart had to work harder. So you might try increasing water. This will also help you shed salt.

      1. KarenT*

        That’s very interesting! I do dehydrate easily. I’ve been hospitalized for it twice.

    4. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      Do you regularly use NSAID-type pain relievers for headaches, etc? They are a quite common and often overlooked cause of elevated BP.

      1. KarenT*

        I had no idea there was a link! I wouldn’t say regularly but I do use them as needed.

    5. Noah*

      Fish oil. I take it daily and it brought my pre-hypertensive BP down to normal. I have a family history of hypertension and hate the idea of taking prescription drugs everyday.

      1. KarenT*

        I will give that a try. I’d been taking fish oil for eczema but abandoned the habit when my skin cleared up.

    6. danr*

      Look at your salt habits at home. If you use a salt shaker, get a salt grinder and you’ll use a lot less salt. It’s easy just to shake more on, but you pay more attention when you grind it on. Remember to taste your food before adding salt and try to eat foods without salt. However, certain foods need some salt, just not as much as you’d think. Soups, eggs, hot cereals are a few that I’ve found.
      Once you get used to much less salt, a lot of prepared foods will be too salty. :)=

      1. KarenT*

        Thanks for the tip–I do have a salt grinder but haven’t gotten around to using it yet.

  72. Anonyby*

    I’ve been debating all day whether or not to post this… But I really need to vent and maybe get a little bit of reasonable perspective.

    Last night Dad, his gf, and I had a “talk”. I was already in a bad mood and trying to hurry and get things done so I could get to bed and get some sleep, so this didn’t set things up for it to go well on my end.

    The overall topic was supposed to be about keeping the house clean. However, it felt like they were ganging up on me, attacking me and being judgmental. I know I’ve been struggling (especially lately while I’m stretched thin between work and other necessary appointments), but I’ve been honestly trying to keep the common areas as tidied as I can. Gf out and out said that all the effort I’ve been putting in “isn’t enough”.

    As some background… She’s a minimalist neat-freak, and even under ideal conditions (which I am very far from right now) I’m not.

    She brought up that before I was moved in, Dad’s habits had been “improving”. Me? I don’t think she can even TELL. If I hadn’t been putting an honest effort in, things would be much, MUCH worse. The floor of my bedroom would be knee-deep with stuff when right now it only has things that are supposed to be there. I have been regularly clearing my stuff off of the kitchen counters and table, when before I would have let them sit for months on end.

    I also feel a little set up for failure, because for some of my stuff… There IS NO spot to put it away. Things that were supposed to happen haven’t, and it’s left me in limbo and unable to unpack half of my stuff since the move six months ago. And the hobby stuff I have been able to do since then, well, they’re things that I can’t do anyplace else but the kitchen, and I can’t move them far for safety reasons. And yet when I can and immediately clean up the jamming pot instead of leaving it for the next day? Completely not proof that I’m honestly trying.

    And she also got very attacking and judgemental about the state of my bathroom and laundry. I’m TRYING. I’m cleaning it a heck of a lot more often than I did at my previous place. With the exception of a couple times where I was super-busy, I’ve managed to keep the dirty laundry confined to one small hamper in my bathroom. (That IS me being on top of laundry.) And yet it’s not enough. Apparently my bathroom is “disgusting”. And why does it even frickin’ MATTER to them when it’s not a shared space? They have their own bathroom. I’ve been trying to stay out of their private spaces and not mention when/how to clean them because that’s not what adults do to one another.

    Apparently any and all effort on my part is worth shit. As hurtful as their comments were… the timing makes them even more so. I’ve been stretched thin by work and appointments, I’m under CONSTANT stress from underemployment and job hunting when I have a very weak CL/resume, I know I’m depressed… I’m also an introvert and I have what feels like NO PRIVACY in which to relax and recharge. I can’t close my door without risking my cat destroying the house to get me to open it, and Dad is always just in the next room over. ALWAYS. I had more privacy and down-time living in a dorm room with another girl, and having to share a bathroom with all of the girls on the floor! And at least then I wasn’t being built up and torn back down. I’m nearly at my breaking point. I haven’t baked since Easter, after being so excited at finally having a working oven… I just don’t have the energy to cook after work (and I’ve been working a lot of six-day weeks lately)… Partly because I don’t have the energy for the actual cooking phase, but as much (if not more) because I don’t have the energy to deal with the cleanup on a timetable that is not my own. Which leads me to eating out most nights, and I don’t really have the money for that. I’ve had several other days this week where I just came home, slept, fed my cat, ate a bag of junk food, and then slept some more because I didn’t have the mental energy to do more.

    TL;DR–I’m a drama llama with no perspective, and am completely unfit to live with other human beings.

    1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

      I don’t think you’re what you said in your TL;DR.

      With that said, the GF would probably hate me. I’m really, really, reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally messy. And then some. I never got used to things being “clear” or “in order” because 1) Mom never forced me into it (sadly T_T) and 2) for some bizarre reason, when a house is too clean I just don’t feel like I belong in there. Too-clean houses freak me out. (I know, I know)

      With what you say, though ? It’s a good thing I’m not in your situation, because knowing me, I’d have blown up already. In a mean way. Because, you do mention it, what they do to you is not what adults do to one another!

      If you were treating them like a hotel, maybe. But you seem to have impeccable standards from what I’ve read in your post, so really, if they left you alone a little more it would be better.

      I hope you can move back out as soon as possible, though I understand it might not be feasible due to current circumstances. Best of luck to you!

      1. Anonyby*

        Thank you! And yeah, there have been MANY times where I just want to blow up, or have a sobbing fit just to get the energy OUT of my system, but I can’t because there’s no space to. Then that leads to it bleeding over to work and me having the sobbing fit in my car in the parking lot after work, because that’s the only private space I have.

        And yeah, I daydream about winning the lottery so that I could move out. I know that comes with other problems, but at least it wouldn’t be THESE problems all over again. I’m way underemployed in a high COL area, with no end in sight.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          or have a sobbing fit just to get the energy OUT of my system
          Frankly, that is exactly what you should have done when they ganged up on you. The problem with putting on a front of keeping it all together is that then no one really gets how you’re struggling. It may not be comfortable for you to do that but when two adults are treating you like a 5 year old, I can’t imagine what other reaction they should expect.

    2. BRR*

      It sucks when you’re having a “talk” with two people on one side and only one on the other. In my history, it’s always the two people reaffirming each other. My only bit of advice is turn it around and ask. Something like “Where do you think would be a good spot to put my chocolate teapot?”A pleasant tone where your’e asking for help. When you turn it around and they realize there are no solutions versus you saying there are no solutions usually helps your cause.

      I’m also sorry you have no opportunity to be alone and recharge. That time is so important. I hate that my spouse is underemployed working retail but I get some night and weekend time to myself which I’m going to hate giving up. Have you told them how you like your alone time and also how you’ve been struggling?

      **This is where you want to stop if you’re cranky**

      It sounds like you have to live on their terms because it’s their home. You have your way of living which is drastically different from their’s. Try flipping the situation around and imagine being in their shoes (keeping in mind not only having someone living in your home but keeping things minimalist and having somebody the opposite there). You’re not two adult roommates with equal say. Even if you’re paying rent, unless it’s a large share you don’t get to take over the common areas. It doesn’t sound like they’re asking for anything unreasonable.

      1. Anonyby*

        Thank you. It really did feel like them affirming one another, with me not able to make any counters without sounding bad. After I had calmed down some I did explain why I had been doing what I had been doing (for instance, leaving my molds full of soap batter on the table–I couldn’t move them far because hello really full containers full of dangerous caustic liquid), and asked what they would rather I do… And it went into ideas that even if they could be implemented… they wouldn’t get implemented for years, if at all. Dad is THAT SLOW at getting things done. (Yeah, he promised that we’d switch out his computer and my craft areas when I moved in six months ago. He hasn’t lifted a finger to do that since, and has even put more of his crap in the closets in there.)

        I’ve mentioned to them that I’ve been struggling, but it was brushed off. I haven’t mentioned anything about privacy, because I have no way to say it without sounding petty and raising things that can’t be changed.

        I have been trying to keep their point of view in mind. I did admit that I’m not even up to the standard of cleaning I want to be, and I’ve been falling behind even more these last few weeks. Part of the issue is that the GF doesn’t officially live here. She WANTS to live here, but she has an apartment of her own, where her son also lives.

        She has told me that when I moved in, she felt like she was being pushed out. And that was never my intention. In fact, I have been trying very hard to MINIMIZE the space I take up in the common areas. I don’t always succeed, but that was my intention. I’ve segregated my stuff, tried to keep everything I could out of the common area storage, and six months in I still feel like there’s no real space for me. Spaces that were promised to me have been reneged on and filled with Dad’s crap or things from my mom and grandma that he just can’t let go of. It’s a mess.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          Wait, GF doesn’t even LIVE there?! That changes things a lot in my opinion. It’s your dad’s house and he gets the final say, after taking into account your perspective and GF’s perspective. Does your dad agree with GF that you’re not keeping things tidy enough? Or would he be fine with the situation if GF was not in the picture?

    3. Today's anon*

      I am sorry you are in this situation, the lack of privacy in particular would be really hard for me. Also on top of it being their house, I wonder if there are issues with your dad being with someone other than your mom – my dad was dead many years when my mother remarried and I was glad for her but I still had to go through some internal process of my own (and I had not lived with my parents in many years before my dad died). I wonder if seeing a therapist to sort things out and maybe find better ways of communication might be helpful.

      On a practical level, I’ve used disposable plates and silver wear when I’ve just felt too overwhelmed by life, and gotten semi-ready or microwaveable food. It’s not something to do forever but sometimes not having to worry about that helps me get over the bump to a place where I can take better care of things.

      1. BRR*

        The paper plates and microwave meals are a great idea. Trader Joe’s all the way for microwave meals!

      2. Anonyby*

        It’s not really THEIR house. The actual legal ownership is complicated, but the GF doesn’t officially live here, and much of the time we talk about the house as if it were mine. And it may be issues with Dad being with someone other than my mom… Not necessarily that he has a girlfriend, but that she spends half of the nights here and wants to live here permanently. This house was my mom’s only, inherited from her parents. It’s still technically in her name. Not long after she died, my brother asked me if I was comfortable with Dad having a girlfriend staying over here and I told him that I wasn’t sure I would be… And then she was spending the night before Dad even admitted to me that he had a girlfriend. When I moved in she came clean and told me she had been spending the night and asked me if I was okay with it… but there was no way for me to say that I wasn’t really okay with it without coming across as a jerk. And now she’s been upping the nights she’s here and wants to stay on a permanent basis… And then there’s the part that I said to BRR above about her feeling like I’m pushing her out when I’m trying to minimize my impact and feeling like there’s no room for me…

        1. Student*

          Look, under nearly every law there is, “it’s complicated” really means that it is your father’s house. They were married. He inherits everything unless there are very clear instructions otherwise. This is a foolish thing to try to fight, too. Totally reasonable that you have mixed feeling about your father moving on, and about the girlfriend who is likely trying to push you out – but a really bad place to pick a fight. Sucks that your dad is more interested in sex than his daughter. But, that’s what you’ve got to work with, so try to accept it and deal with that reality, and move forward with your life – instead of struggling to make him into a better parent, pushing back at the girlfriend, or making up some mental fantasy wherein you get legal ownership of the house.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t know that it’s fair to say he’s more interested in sex than his daughter. It could be that he’s in love with this woman and is prioritizing having companionship, which is a reasonable decision to make when minor children aren’t involved. He gets to move on, and he gets to have his partner stay over in his own house. That’s not really outrageous.

            I do think it’s outrageous that the girlfriend was in any way a part of this conversation, which should have been between Anonyby and her dad. The girlfriend, who doesn’t live there, doesn’t have standing to tell Anonyby to change her living habits.

          2. Just Passing By*

            As an actual lawyer, I take issue with the broad statement that “by every law.” This completely is not true and widely dependent on jurisdiction. If Anonby’s mom inherited the property, it quite may be separate property that did not pass to the dad. Or it can be held in trust, or Anonby may have partial ownership rights. But girlfriend definitely is overstepping many boundaries apparently with dad’s consent. Anonby, you probably should just move out because I cannot see this getting better and this is the easiest solution.

            But, at the risk of increasing the overall family drama, you may want to consult with an attorney to just find out about the ownership issue as girlfriend clearly is overstepping bounds. Someone discreet, rather than someone overly litigious. No legal letters or calls to dad. This probably can be handled with reviews of land and estate records.

            Once you know the answer, you can spend the next few months trying to figure out the kind of conversation that you want to have with your dad and siblings.

            1. Anonyby*

              Thank you. It is being held in trust. My grandmother’s attorney was gracious enough see me last-minute when we were worried about time running out to transfer the property to my name, since Dad had been procrastinating on it (because he couldn’t emotionally handle it). It turns out that the way my mom had intended it to be put into the will wasn’t exactly how it was actually written in on the final copy, and she had ran out of time to work with the attorney to get it in exactly as she wanted. (As it was, the version that we’re left with was signed on her last coherent day–we never expected her illness to speed up like it did.)

              Moving out would be ideal, but it is one that’s currently out of my reach. I will be very happy when I no longer have to worry about dealing with others in the same living space as me.

              1. No Longer Passing Through*

                Tough call and the legal solution definitely will conflict with the socially advised solution:

                If the property is held in trust for you (by him or someone else) and you aren’t financially able to maintain it on your own, you need to have a serious discussion with your father about what steps you guys should take now that you’re of a particular age and that girlfriend absolutely has no say in anything pertaining to the house. In these circumstances, I normally advise clients to either charge the relative rent sufficient to pay the carrying charges or to sell the house as you probably can use the money. Selling usually is the best of the 2 as you get rid of the problem of owning yet not owning and also can lend/give money to dad. If you want to avoid that and, instead, explore your mutual expectations while co-habitating, a frank, most likely painful, discussion needs to be had between you 2; girlfriend should not be a participant or observer.

                I’m sorry that this is happening and I’m certain that you already knew this and have been avoiding it. This probably is why you are so hurt by girlfriend’s unfettered intrusion. This is much bigger than you feeling that she’s replacing your mom. There’s some Cinderella aspect once you start talking about inheritance plus wannabe step-parents. I really don’t know how to navigate that delicately and I truly do feel for you. ((((Hugs))))

                1. Anonyby*

                  *hugs back* Thanks. And yeah, selling is not an option in this case for multiple reasons. Dad and I have never been able to communicate effectively. A few months ago he found a mother’s day card I had made my mom in 2nd grade or so, and it had him sobbing because even then I had known that the two of us alone tend to self-destruct.

    4. Student*

      Well, it’s a pretty clear signal that you need to move out and can’t co-exist peacefully with your father and his girlfriend.

      You might also want to pick your battles here, since there are so many available. My advice: dig in on areas that are “your” space – your room and your bathroom, and tell them that if they agree to have you living there, they have to respect your boundaries and your private space as long as you aren’t causing serious household issues (unsafe areas, bug infestations, damage, etc.). Let go of the common areas fights as much as possible, because you have no leverage to work with. You will lose that battle anyway.

      So, frame the common area/private area as a compromise – you withdraw from common areas, they leave off complaints about your private areas. That means, give up your messy kitchen hobbies. Either find a friend who likes your kitchen hobbies and will let you come over to do them, or put the stuff aside until you have your own kitchen. Find a different hobby you can do outside of your father’s house, pronto, as a coping strategy. Your stuff in boxes? Rent a storage area. They can be extremely cheap. Maybe you can even guilt-trip your father into paying for it or helping you move stuff there.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I was going to say the same thing as Student about the hobbies. Pick one — if it’s baking, then just let it be baking/cooking that you can do and clean up immediately and temporarily give up the other ones, or find other places to do them. The only way you’re going to win here Anonyby is by getting out as soon as you can. Student’s idea about getting your father to pay for a storage area if he can’t find accommodation for your stuff is one idea you can at least try, worst thing he can say is no. You might also want to go through your stuff and decide what you really need to keep, especially if you’re going to be stuck there a while. Selling some things on eBay/craigslist, donating what no longer fits/recycling or giving away other stuff will help you reduce the amount of stuff around you, which is also contributing to the stress. If you can corral your siblings to come over and help sort through your mother’s things, that might also help and you’ll have support — it won’t be just you against The Girlfriend for a while. I would also suggest that you get a pair of headphones, the kind that go over your whole ear if you can afford them and start listening to music/audiobooks/guided meditations/whatever while lying on your bed. Close your eyes and pretend for a while that you’re anywhere but there.

        Because here’s the thing: the comment about your father choosing sex/companionship over his child? There is some truth to that. Whether he’s so completely lonely since your mother died that he’s lost all perspective or he is one of those men who cannot be alone, I don’t know. I have a feeling that like my father, he just doesn’t want to deal with anything unpleasant and will just tag along with whoever has the stronger personality. FWIW, after my father left my mother, he was married twice more, first time common-law and the second time actual for realz with the certificate and everything. Both of those women resented the ever-lovin’ shite out of anyone who took time/energy/attention/money away from her. His third wife would strongly disagree with that statement, but she would also get really upset when I mentioned any of his previous girlfriends (and some of those girlfriends were the same way). There are some women who are open and accepting of the fact that the man in their life has a past — which includes his children — and they don’t want to get in the middle of that, understand that the children come first. Your father has not found himself one of those.

        But, his hands are also not exactly clean on this either. My father was one for the “Oh, didn’t I tell you that I was seeing this woman/got married?” surprise — just one of the many, many reasons why I hate surprises. Just like you, there was no discussion about him meeting someone special, no slow introduction to allow you to get used to it. Just one day she’s there and you have to deal with it — which I’m sorry is not cool, no matter how old you are. Part of this is simply the fact that your father doesn’t know how to deal with this situation, never having been through it before and not taking into account other people’s feelings. If anyone in this situation needs counseling, it’s your father because it sounds like he’s having trouble dealing with your mother’s death/coping with his own mortality/whatever. Family counseling could help if he’s willing (without her) because it must be tough to deal with an adult child moving back in, on top of all the other things. Having a neutral third party to keep a discussion on track would be much more useful than a girlfriend’s self-interest.

        I’m also going to suggest that you get a lock for your room. Yes, the kind with a key. If your father’s girlfriend treats his house like her own and doesn’t understand that your room is yours, then you need to have a talk with her about that, as was discussed above. You might want to ask her how she would feel if you were going into her son’s room and making comments about how he keeps it. Because you’re an adult and that’s what adults do, state what they need, why they need it, ask for understanding and cooperation and make an agreement. Remember, this is your mother’s house, which means it’s also your house and the girlfriend is out of line and you should say so — because she is not living there, she is not married to your father and she has no real say in what happens under that roof. But I’m sure that all that will result from that is push back from her. In which case, you then have to enforce that boundary by saying that if she does not respect your private space, you will be forced to take matters into your own hands. Do not tell her what you’re going to do, as she will run tattling to your father. A doorknob with a key is pretty easy to install and shouldn’t be more than $50. You might even find one with the same design as the others in your house. Keep all the parts of the original doorknob so you can put it back when you leave. You want one with a key, because you need to secure it when you leave for work, the push button type only works when you’re in your room and anyone can pop that with a coat hanger. It’s none of the girlfriend’s business what you do in your room and it sounds like she’s snooping when you’re not there. If you’re working 6 days a week, that’s a lot of time away. If your father won’t stand up for you, then stand up for yourself.

        Also, if you have the time, you might want to find out what the rules are for your jurisdiction around common-law marriage. Where I live, it’s three continuous years of cohabiting but common law partners keep what is in their own name, only jointly held property would be shared equally in the event of a split or death. That may not be the case where you are, so find out. It might set your mind at ease that unless they marry or have a child together (if that is still a possibility) she would be legally owed nothing or perhaps some support payments if they break up or your father predeceases her. I say this because someone I knew a long time ago had a problem with her father’s girlfriend after he died. She took a lot of expensive items from the house, including jewelery that had been my friend’s mothers (why that wasn’t distributed to the kids after her death, I don’t recall). Of course, there was no proof that this had happened, except that the things were gone. So yeah, some people are just predatory like that but you won’t find out until it’s too late.

  73. Puffle*

    Late as always, just wanted to say I am so happy that AAM has recommended one of my all-time favourite books!

  74. Trixie*

    Anyone have successful experience with either personal shopping guide at department (say, Nordstrom’s) vs personal style consultant? My sister is considering one but at $350 its an investment. Between energy and time, I think she’s looking for someone to help pull together pieces for her to select from based on her size, shape, budget, job, etc. I don’t think she’s tried a dept store personal shopper yet, and wondering if that’s a less expensive avenue to try first.

    1. Noah*

      I’ve used the Nordstrom and Macy’s services before. The first appointment at each was trying on a lot of clothing and talking with the personal shopper so they could get a sense of what you like and don’t like. I appreciate though that they push the boundaries a bit, making you try new things you would never pick up yourself. You don’t pay anything, but the personal shopper/stylist makes commission on what you purchase. I always try to buy at least something, and I would assume they will eventually not make future appointments with you if you never buy anything.

      I’ve also used Trunk Club, which is men only, but Stitch Fix is a similar service for women. It is online/by phone. My stylist emails me about once a month asking what I might need and ships out a box of clothing. You try everything on and send back what you don’t want. With Trunk Club you can send everything back and pay nothing, but I think Stitch Fix has a stylist fee if you don’t keep anything. I’ve been using Trunk Club more and more and my stylist there is awesome. Although, we do interact quite a bit and I send pictures to her when I try things on.

  75. Is this Legal*

    How can I learn to be a fast reader? Any tips, resources are greatly appreciated!

    1. danr*

      Yes… just keep reading. The more you read, the faster you will get.
      One thing that slows folks down is trying to say each word subvocally. Let your eyes see the words, but don’t say them.
      It’s okay to read the same book more than once. Each time through, you will find that you’re reading faster, since you already know what is happening.
      As you can guess, I’m a speed reader, and I’ve always been one. On the second or third time through a book, I start to see the book as movie. The words flow into pictures. The only problem that I have is losing track of time.

      1. Puffle*

        I’ve also always been a speed reader. Generally I find that rather than going over each word one by one I tend to subconsciously skim the “less important words” and pick out the keywords in a sentence so I catch the overall meaning.

        I’m also very picky about the books I buy in the sense that if I pick up a book in a store/ library and it’s all tiny dense hard-to-read text I’ll often look for a different edition or pick up the Kindle version. You may not always notice it, but things like format and text layout will affect your reading speed. I love being able to adjust things like font and text size on my Kindle.

        Other than that, I guess practice makes perfect? Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always just read everything around me automatically: magazines, newspapers, cereal boxes, billboards, flyers, posters, etc. Also, choose things you enjoy. I’ve given into the pressure of bestseller lists/ people (my dad!) telling me I should read “better” books (i.e. classics or prize winners)/ etc, and it means that I’ve ended up slogging through a lot of books that I’ve hated. I’m a fast reader, but if I don’t like a book it’ll take me forever to finish it. Read trashy magazines, read comic books, read blogs, whatever you like, it all counts as reading, and the words will go by so much more quickly.

        1. Is This Legal*

          Thank you guys, I’ve always read every word and after you pointed out skim through I tried it and it works perfectly. Again thank you.

  76. Nervous Accountant*

    It was my birthday yesterday. Started out rough, spent most of my morning crying my eyes out bc of stuff going on. Was able to salvage it in the evening. I feel guilty about this, like I’m way past the age of caring about my birthday, but you know…..and it’s almost shameful to admit but I love the attention. I love getting flowers, gifts (not a price/brand snob AT ALL), I like when I go out but most of all I love cards with meaningful messages in them. I’m not materialistic or shallow, bc in the end, all I really ever want to do is spend my time with friends and family whose company I enjoy. And I hate that there’s a person in my life that I can’t let go of who manages to ruin it most years. It’s just ONE day a year htat I want to be showered with love and attention and expect it, but it doesn’t happen. I wish I could grow out of it and stop feeling so hurt every year.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      Happy belated birthday. I feel the same way–I like to get attention on mine, although maybe not this one. :P

      Spend your birthdays doing something away from this person.

  77. Lulubell*

    Anyone interested in being my Mad Men support group after the finale ends in a couple of hours?

  78. HR Generalist*

    I’ve just gone through a breakup with my boyfriend of 3.5 years (living together for 2) and I’m having a terrible time coping. Despite it being an amicable breakup, my feelings keep getting hurt and I keep wavering between “I don’t need anybody and leave me alone” and “I am so sad why does everyone keep forgetting that I exist”. I know it’s a process that just takes time to work through but I’m having (a lot of) difficulty sleeping and I think that’s exacerbating the problem. I want to leave on good terms but everything my ex does hurts whether it’s intentional or not. Any good advice on getting through this..?

    1. Graciosa*

      You get through this one day after another. I’m sorry – I wish I had a panacea for this one, but I don’t think it’s been discovered yet. Everything you described is unfortunately perfectly normal.

      The only thing I can think to recommend is forming some new habits to give yourself a bit of a break and a distraction. Many of your existing ones included your ex, and some of those will be recurring reminders. For example, if you regularly returned with coffee for two on Sunday mornings and split the newspaper, start reading the paper at the coffee shop so you don’t have to deal with the moment when you turn to offer him his favorite section without thinking.

      This also helps avoid the “What’s wrong with me that I don’t have someone to share this with?” pity party or the “Why can’t I do this myself? I don’t need anyone!” anger. These are totally normal, but that doesn’t mean you want to experience them in a nearly constant state. Think about a few of the worst of your triggers, and think about how you can replace them with something new.

      This does not mean you give up your entire life (new apartment, new job, new clothes, etc.) because for a while it seems like everything reminds you of him. Just pick a few things to change so you start learning how to have a bit more of a life without him. If you can find one thing that you always wanted for yourself – like a class or a hobby that intrigued you – that’s even better. Bonus points for exercise – it really does help you sleep better, which is something you need right now.

      I am very sorry you’re going through this. Give it time.

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