weekend free-for-all – May 30-31, 2015

Olive stalkingThis 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 no work and no school. 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: Mistress Masham’s Repose, by T.H. White, in which an orphan living with odious people discovers a whole community of Lilliputians (as in, those very small people from Gulliver’s Travels) living on an island near her house. I first read this when I was 9 or 10 but it’s a fully formed novel, not just a short kids’ story, and I’ve read it repeatedly as an adult because it is quite awesome.

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

{ 908 comments… read them below }

  1. Audiophile*

    First! Ok I won’t be by the time I post this lol.

    Decided not to waste money records.

    Dates are going well. Had dinner with him last night. It was my second dinner of the night, the first was solo trip to Panera. All the craziness at work yesterday kept me from having lunch or any kind of break.

    Should have three interviews scheduled for Tues!

    1. Merry and Bright*

      Sounds like a good week overall, despite the crazy work. Three interviews? Wow.

      1. Audiophile*

        One is a phone interview and the other two aren’t confirmed yet but I’m trying lol.

        Pretty good week, just crazy. I keep ending up with these six day work weeks, so I’m ready for a change.

      1. Audiophile*

        No, different roles. One is for a potential A/R opening with a nonprofit. And the other two are communications related positions.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      Sometimes when I feel icky, the only thing that makes me feel better is a Panera dinner. And yes, I always eat the entire bread bowl.

      1. salad fingers*

        The bread bowl, just like the bottom of the ice cream cone, is basically the best part.

        1. AnnieNonymous*

          I love scraping my spoon on the inside of the bread bowl to get spoonfuls of gloppy bread and tomato soup.

          Panera used to have this amazing salad that was baby spinach, hard boiled eggs, bacon, sauteed onions, crunchy fried onions, and then an oniony balsamic dressing. They took it off their menu. WHY GOD WHY

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I sometimes pick up panera bread bowls and bring them home for my own home made soup. I grate some sharp cheddar in the bottom of each bowl and toast them in the oven and then serve them with creamy cabbage & garbanzo soup (a spicy pureed soup that my family is kind of ‘meh’ about until I magically transform it into pure deliciousness by putting it in a cheesy bread bowl).

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                They will cut the hole in the bread bowl for you and leave the bread plug in it. I always eat the bread plug as I drive home. And I’ve disciplined myself to not read the other bread plugs, but to save them for my family members instead. So we all have a chunk of bread tho eat while the rest of the meal cooks.

      2. Audiophile*

        I skipped the soup yesterday. Had the BBQ chicken salad and that was good. But your mention of the bread bowl is making me crave French onion soup in a bread bowl. Damn you!

      1. Audiophile*

        Lol. I’ve been “first” before and by the time I hit “submit”, I’m not first anymore.

  2. thisit*

    been trying to find an apartment in our new city and having no luck! applied for two, but were not chosen. no one likes us. :(
    fingers crossed on a third application. if we don’t get it, i will cry. start work on monday and want a new home sorted already!

    1. jamlady*

      I just had to re-locate and ended up in a hotel for the first week :/ it’s irritating and no fun with 2 cats, but my company was nice an reimbursed me for it haha good luck! Something will work out!

  3. Ally*

    Does anyone have any cool recommendations for Orlando, Florida and Disney World? Looking in to taking my baby sister! (She’s 10)

    1. Nancie*

      You really can’t miss doing anything at WDW with a 10yo. Stay onsite if you can, even the value resorts have fun theming, and you get free transportation and/or free parking at the parks. Reserve your fastpasses as early as you can.

      Plan for at least one day for each of the parks you plan to go to. if your sister is a fan of Harry Potter, consider spending a day at Universal.

      1. jamlady*

        Yes! The value resorts are actually really nice (I mean, it IS Disney). The shuttles can get really full, but there are so many of them that you don’t run into problems.

    2. Elkay*

      I’m currently planning a trip to Disney World, what sort of information are you after?

      1. Ally*

        I’d love some information about swimming with dolphins. I haven’t found much, unfortunately!

        1. Elkay*

          Sorry, can’t help with that, I’m not much of a swimmer :( At Typhoon Lagoon (Disney) you can swim with fish but you literally snorkel across a small pool.

    3. Florida*

      Orlando native here. There is nothing cool about Orlando – it’s hotter and more humid than you can imagine. :)

      I’m not a fan of the theme parks (I’ve lived here my whole life, so I’m over them.), so my advice will pertain more to non-theme park stuff. I’ve also never pre-planned a trip to Disney or stayed in a hotel there, so I know nothing about booking passes ahead of time, etc.

      Unless you are staying at Disney and plan to spend all of your time at Disney, you have to rent a car. Our public transportation is almost non-existent.

      If you like art, there is a museum called the Morse Museum in Winter Park (about 20-30 minutes from the tourist area) that features the art of Louis Tiffany. This is where I take out-of-town guests. It’s on a street called Park Avenue that has a lot of outdoor, upscale shopping. Depending on your shopping habits, the museum plus shopping could be a half-day to full-day. I don’t know if a 10-year old will like this. It depends on her interests.

      I agree with the person who said you can’t miss with anything at WDW, but I probably wouldn’t go to Animal Kingdom. If you have a decent zoo where you are from, or you’ve seen other good zoos, don’t waste your time. It’s not a bad zoo. I’m just saying that it is basically like other zoos – nothing super special. Focus on the other Disney parks, or Universal. Legoland is about 45-minutes away, if that’s your thing. The beach is about 45-minutes away (opposite direction from Legoland), if you want to do that. If you go to the beach, don’t go to Daytona – way to crowded and touristy. Go to New Smyrna or Cocoa. Another option is one of the water parks. They usually have manmade beaches with surfing waves without the salt water. Typhoon Lagoon is the Disney water park, and it’s probably the best one. Wet N Wild is decent – probably less crowded and less expensive.

      In the summer, it is unbearably hot, and there is a thunderstorm every afternoon. The rain usually lasts less than 30 minutes, so don’t head back to the hotel when it starts raining.

      My advice about the theme parks is to not try to do everything. It is better to go to 2-3 theme parks and really enjoy them, then to try to go to 6-7 just so you can say you went to all of them. Agree with the person who said don’t go to more than one park per day. Expect that you will spend more than half of the day standing in line. Also, plan about 60% of your vacation ahead of time, but leave some time to do things that you discover when you get here.

      If you have any specific questions, I’m happy to answer them. Like if you read something about one of the smaller, lesser know, half-day type of attractions and want to know if they are any good, I can tell you what I think.

      The most important piece of advice I can offer is that the moment you get here, you will start seeing booths for discounts tickets. They call them visitor centers, tourist information centers, and things like that. They are in hotel lobbies, mall kiosks, restaurants, and everywhere in the tourist areas. These are timeshare sales places that try to get you to take a tour. DO NOT GO ON ONE OF THESE TOURS. They tell you it is a 90-minute tour. That’s a lie. By the time you get there, wait your turn, go on the 2-hour (not 90-minutes) tour, at least half of your day will be shot. Whatever discount they are offering, it is not worth it. If you are in a public place, and someone approaches you and says, “Where are you from?”, there’s a good chance it’s a timeshare person, just keep walking.

      1. Paige Turner*

        Another FL native (Ft. Lauderdale)- this is all great advice and very true- you can get discounted tickets through AAA if you happen to be a member. Typhoon Lagoon is the best Disney water park and definitely skip Animal Kingdom.
        Thanks for the Morse Museum tip, Florida! I can’t believe I never took a school field trip there. If I go back to Orlando (my aunt, retired from 20 years at Disney, still lives there- I live in DC) I’ll check it out!

      2. jamlady*

        Dude Animal Kingdom’s rides are my favorite part of DW outside of Epcot. And for a 10 year old?! They have to go!

        1. Bird Trainer*

          Agreed. Animal Kingdom has great rides!! If you’re even remotely interested in animals (which if you want to swim with dolphins I’m assuming you are…) you should go! You don’t need to spend multiple days there or even a full day if you don’t want to but if you’re doing the Disney thing I think it’s worth going.

          1. jamlady*

            Yeah I think we usually end up there at opening until around 2 pm and then jump over to Epcot for the rest of the day (and then head out for the night, but obviously she can’t do that with a 10 year old haha).

    4. Amtelope*

      At Disney, give yourself at least a day at each park you visit. Magic Kingdom and Epcot would be the two I’d absolutely try to hit — if you have more than two days, you might do those two and then see whether you want to move on to Hollywood Studios or go back and visit Magic Kingdom and/or Epcot again. I agree with Florida that Animal Kingdom can be skipped — it’s a zoo, but not fabulous.

      Take advantage of Fastpass to reserve time slots for mega-popular rides. You’ll still wait in line, but not nearly as long. If you’re planning to eat at a sit-down restaurant in the park, you’ll also want to make reservations there. Ohana is fun for kids and also pretty good; Coral Reef is a little quieter/more adult, but has a giant fishtank wall, which is cool (and has decent seafood). If you want to do a character breakfast, you absolutely need reservations. Epcot has the best casual food options — you can wander around through different countries and eat when you reach something that sounds good.

      And if you’re not from the deep South — it is hella hot in the summer in Florida. Make sure both of you drink plenty of water and head for an air conditioned attraction when you start wilting. If you’re staying in a park hotel, you get early admission to the parks, and you should take advantage of it — your sister will probably be up at the crack of dawn bouncing off the walls with excitement anyway, and you can get a head start on the crowds.

    5. Kristen*

      No real advice about the Disney/Orlando thing. I’ve been there with the family but did the typical vacation, 2 days at Disney (Magic Kingdom and Epcot; I’d probably skip Epcot for next time and choose a different park), 1 day at Sea World, 1 day at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, and 2 days at Daytona Beach. Cool about taking your sister though. I have a baby sister too (17 years difference). She’s turning 18 next week. I’m so happy and sad at the same time. I’m taking her to Chicago next month as a graduation present. Enjoy your trip!

      1. Ally*

        AHH! That’s so lovely! have fun on your trip! My sister and I have a 14 year difference. I really enjoy it.

  4. mookitty*

    My cat had a tooth pulled and was so angry at the vet they couldn’t put him in his carrier. They had to give him a bum bath cause he peed in the cage. He’s fine but more than a bit clingy. He was shaved too except for one leg that he wouldn’t let them. As the vet said”he’s awake now and having none of that.”

    1. Elkay*

      Why did they need to shave him to pull a tooth? We had one cat who was a complete teddy bear to us but turned into a raging lion in the presence of a vet.

    2. Audiophile*

      Why didn’t they anesthetize him? Or do they not do that for most cats? I’ve never had a cat, who had to have teeth pulled.

      1. mookitty*

        He was already under for his teeth so we had him shaved at the same time. It was a matter of more bang for the buck. They did use ansathesia, he was going to just get his teeth cleaned but the vet found a broken one and pulled it. Now he’s stuck to me like super on glue, purring in my ear.

    3. TootsNYC*

      I once took my cat to the vet emergency room for an injured paw. They decided it wasn’t nerve damage because she was trying to shred them with that limb. And they had to anesthetize her to examine her. When she came to, you should have heard her snarl!
      I think she didn’t stop snarling for about 3 hours. When I got her home, my husband was watching a scary movie about a werewolf, and he made me put her in the bedroom and close the hallway door, too, because it was too scary to hear her while he was watching that movie.

  5. Carrie in Scotland*

    I submitted my last assignment for my current module!

    I can now have a life and do everything I’m behind on. Hurrah!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I’m doing a part-time degree (as well working f/t) with The Open University (distance learning) for a BA (Hons) in Humanities. This was a tough course about the English language and I’ve struggled with it since the beginning. But it’s now gone! No more studying until October.

        1. Blamange*

          I am doing a degree with the Open Univeristy too! English Literature. I’m on the old system so free education woo!

          I’ve done u214 that was difficult.

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            I was Eng lit & lang but swapped. I did U214 and loved it – this one was E301 which people said if you like the U214 you’d like this one…nope, not the case for me!

  6. Mimmy*

    My class is finally OVER!!! Taking the summer off to focus on my council activities and resume my Sign Language DVDs that hubby got me for Christmas.

    Also looking forward to our annual week-long family get-together at the shore, which will be the second week in July. With 19 of us, nine being under age 18, it can get quite chaotic, but it’s still a lot of fun.

    1. Mean Something*

      Oh! Which DVDs and have you worked with them enough to recommend them? My high-school-aged daughter is hoping to take ASL at our local community college this summer, but full-time students have priority, so she’s still waiting to find out if there will be room. Wondering if the DVDs might be a good alternative (or supplement later). Are you learning for fun, family, work, or other reasons?

      1. Mimmy*

        I’m just learning for fun, but I do know a couple of deaf people so it could be useful. I’ve tried teaching myself before, but couldn’t keep it up. Your daughter will find that ASL is very different from English, particularly with sentence structure.

        The DVD set are called “Learn and Master American Sign Language”. The funny part is, they were created by the same company that produced a DVD set of guitar lessons that my husband has used; that’s how we found out about the ASL discs. I think all other DVD sets by this company are music-related, so the ASL set is pretty random, lol. I’ll post a link to the product’s website in a reply so this post doesn’t get caught in moderation.

        There are roughly 25 DVDs, but I’ve only done 6 I think because of school. Overall, I think they’re good. Very comprehensive! One part I like is at the end of each disc, there’s a “deaf culture highlight”. This is really interesting if your daughter wants to learn more about the Deaf community.

          1. Mimmy*

            Oh good – my post with the link is still in moderation. Alison, you can delete it you want since she/he found the link.

  7. Ali*

    Any advice for how to start following through on things? I’ve had a lot of goals and aspirations for myself over the last couple years, and a lot of them have fallen by the wayside for whatever reason. For example:

    -I want to get more organized. I can clean up my room, it stays neat for a week and next thing I know it’s in shambles again. Though I am good at throwing away unnecessary papers and getting rid of old clothes.

    -I wanted to teach group fitness, specifically Zumba. I got the license, subbed one class and then never made enough time to get better or do career development. I could’ve gotten ACE/AFAA certification and really marketed myself and made practice time, but didn’t. I now want to get back into that and learn another group class, but am afraid I’ll just flake and won’t want to put the time in again.

    -I wanted to lose weight. I lost my first 20 pounds in 2013 and have been hovering within the same three-pound weight range ever since. I don’t log my food regularly or make enough time to look up new recipes to try.

    -I want to make new friends, but keep putting off joining Meetups or going to events for the ones I do join, then I wonder why nothing changes.

    I’m turning 30 soon and I’m really tired of slacking off! I’m not saying I *have* to do all these things I listed, but how can I make a goal and stick to it, whether it’s losing weight, paying down debt or having a better social life? Where do I even start?

    1. thisit*

      baby steps? break each goal into the specific steps you need to accomplish (step = something you can accomplish in a short time frame and minimal action).

    2. fposte*

      Oh, that can be frustrating. I like thisit’s point about baby steps. Also, what about picking one? It doesn’t mean the others will never happen, but it means you’re not bailing on all of them because deciding which is too daunting.

      It might also be worth looking at times you did get stuff done, thinking about what made it possible, and replicating it. What was your approach for getting the Zumba license, for instance? Did you plan early in the week to do it on the weekend, or use it as a break after work? Try for the times and planning level that got you to the license–maybe they’ll work again.

      Good luck!

      1. thisit*

        ooh that’s good. play to your strengths. i follow this guy on Twitter named BJ Fogg – he does research on behavior change and he really emphasizes the need to engineer the environment to make your own change easier and more organic.

        1. fposte*

          Oh, I have to go find him–I love that stuff! I’ve redone a lot of my kitchen according to Brian Wansink’s Slender by Design, which is exactly what you’re talking about (and I think it was Stephanie here who recommended it to me).

          1. Older - Not Yet Wiser*

            Is it “Slim by Design”? Or are there two books – I can’t find Slender by Design. This sounds like exactly what I need.

            1. fposte*

              You’re right–that’s the title, sorry. His Mindless Eating is good too; Slim by Design is basically putting what he talks about there into doable precepts.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          I looked him up and started following him, too. Now I need to get the slender by design book, maybe from the library if they have it.

    3. Sparrow*

      For cleaning, I like the site UnF*ck Your Habitat. I like the no nonsense, realistic view of cleaning and organization.

      Food – maybe check out some cookbooks or blogs to get ideas and start incorporating one or two healthy meals. I like Skinnytaste and America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks. If you’re drinking pop, switch over to water. Reduce portion sizes. Eating healthy is something I struggle with too, so I do my best to make healthy choices, but I’m not perfect.

      I just recently discovered the site Fitness Blender and they have lots of free exercise videos. Again, another are I struggle with, but I’m trying to work out at least a few times a week.

      Agree with others that baby steps are important, otherwise you’ll get overwhelmed. I think it’s important to make small changes until they are part of your daily life / become a habit and then maybe move onto the next thing.

      1. BRR*

        This is the best website ever. Hopefully this will convince my husband why marathoning is bad.

    4. The Other Dawn*

      I could have written this myself. It’s weird though – I totally rock the big goals, like weight loss surgery, moving up in my career and buying a house. Trying a new recipe, meeting new people and painting my kitchen? Taking me forever. I start out good and then just fizzle.

    5. OfficePrincess*

      I’ve found that I can generally only get 2/3 of my life together at a time at best. Definitely don’t tackle everything at once. Pick one area and get it to a point where it’s almost second nature before starting on something else. For example, spend a couple weeks or so focusing cleaning and organizing. Don’t aim for perfect, just for a system that is easy to maintain a level of good enough. Once you get there, pick another goal and do the same thing with it. It may take longer to get going, but the idea is to get to the point where it’s all sustainable.

      1. Happy Lurker*

        This is me too. I always say life is like juggling, the more you do (or the older you get, whatever!) the higher you throw the balls so you have more time to do something else before they come crashing down.

    6. CS*

      I have the same problem and I’m still learning how to get things done and organize my time (I’m in my mid 30s). Although for me, part of me tends to laziness.

      What helps is to prioritize what it is you really want to do. Some things are just waste of time. Also, look into managing your spare time better. I learned that scheduling my day hour-by-hour does not work for me because I’m not that disciplined. Now I just schedule 2-3 things I want to do each day and then find a way to spend time on all items. If you want to teach a class, perhaps look into finding a time slot after work. If you head home you might be too lazy or tired to drive back out. This is what my friend is doing right now. She teaches a yoga class twice a week after work. You could have the class start an hour after work so you have time to unwind before the class starts.

      Another thing I just realize is that for people like us, we have to learn to make it a habit. I remember reading somewhere you have to do it for 20 days or something before something becomes a habit.

    7. Owl*

      I plug this all the time and it has truly changed my life: HabitRPG.com. If you like RPG-style games, then it might help, but what I really love is the community and functions. It has habits (things you want to do more than once a day or don’t want to do at all), dailies (daily items), and to-dos as the basic building blocks. Your “character” loses health if you click negative habits or miss dailies. The community is incredibly supportive. I’ve found guilds that badger me if I don’t get stuff done (but only if I ask them to, your tasks are private) and challenges keep you working towards a goal. I cannot praise it enough. I’m horrible at keeping with things, but Habit is helping. I recommend the website over the app.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        This looks amazing! I think I will have to incorporate this into my own goals.

    8. Briar*

      for the cleaning, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying…. by Marie Kondo. everything else may get easier after that if it turns out to be your jam.

    9. TootsNYC*

      In comments here at AAM recently, someone recommended this book, and I went and ordered it:
      [i]Your Own Worst Enemy: Breaking the Habit of Adult Under-Achievement,[/i] by Kenneth W. Christian, Ph.D.

      Also, consider things like a Franklin Covey workshop, maybe.
      They focus on first deciding what’s important to you. That’s something I’ve realized as well–that I need to decide what *I* really want to do. And that it’s OK to not want to do something.

      I also have tried to ban the word “should.” Instead, I try to say, “What do I want to do with this Saturday?” or “What do I want, in terms of my health, and doctor appointments?” What type of person do I want to be, and what will make me into that person?

      Also, don’t discount the checklist–though it’s easy to fill it too full.

      And don’t discount a “life coach” type therapist!

    10. Jillociraptor*

      Being on the cusp of 30 was also my impetus to get my life together. I tend to be a great starter and not a great finisher, and what’s helped me is to set a very small number of goals at a time, with benchmarks.

      So my big three are being more active, keeping my house tidier, and being smarter about my finances.

      I backwards planned from my 30th birthday and where I wanted to be there (able to run 10 miles, have a consistently “company-ready” house, and out of credit card debt) and mapped a month-by-month plan to get there.

      I think it’s having the intermediate steps that help you stay on track, especially with these big goals. It’s hard to see progress sometimes which makes it hard to stay motivated, so when you have smaller, incremental measures that do let you see that you’re moving in the right direction, it’s really motivating.

      I would say pick maybe two of your big goals (similar to OfficePrincess, I can only seem to keep two of these three in the air at a time!), pick an outcome and a date in the future, and then jot down some of the benchmarks you’ll work toward. I keep all mine in Google spreadsheet (along with my budget) so I’m referencing it all the time. If I get off track, I adjust my goals rather than feeling bad about it.

      Good luck!

      1. Jillociraptor*

        OH wait, I forgot the best “personal strategic planning” tip of all: look for synergies. How can you kill two birds with one stone? Looking at your list, teaching fitness, losing weight, and making more friends all seem like they could be accomplished with one overarching goal. Maybe you could start by co-teaching a class or shadowing a current instructor (gaining a mentor and a potential personal network!), then making friends with other instructors by going to their classes? Something like that?

    11. skyline*

      You might investigate the book Change Anything by Kerry Patterson et al. It’s all about not seeing these changes as matters of willpower, but as things you can take small, concrete actions to be successful at. (Patterson also wrote Crucial Conversations and Crucial Accountability, which are two books I’ve found really valuable in my life and career.)

    12. Cristina in England*

      Definitely check out Gretchen Rubin’s blog The Happiness Project and her latest book Better Than Before about making and keeping habits. She breaks it down into 4 types of people, depending on how good you are at fulfilling obligations to yourself and others. Most people are Obligers, which means they fulfill obligations to others but not themselves. gretchenrubin.com

    13. Momiitz*

      Also check out the book, Getting Things Done by David Allen. I just checked it out from the library and it is really helpful. I’m a procrastinator and overwhelmed and this book has helped.

      1. Alma*

        Would you all just tell me how to do it after you’ve done the research, and found a great but painless method? And one that doesn’t take lots of commitment or focus?

    1. Grey*

      It applies to phrases too.

      The one I hear most often is “to your heart’s content”. It really should be “til your heart’s content”.

      1. fposte*

        I think that’s a myth, though–it’s not “heart” as in “heart is,” it’s the possessive of “heart,” and that use dates back to Shakespeare.

          1. Mean Something*

            It’s also a noun meaning, among other things, contentment (the state of being contented). So “eat chocolate to your heart’s content” means “eat chocolate until your heart achieves contentment.” (Clunky paraphrase!) If you Google each phrase in quotation marks (“to your heart’s content” and “til your heart’s content”), you’ll see that the first one is the idiomatic, commonly used one and the other is a variant.

            1. fposte*

              Right, “content” as a noun has almost died out in favor of “contentment,” so it’s understandable that people try to refit the phrase to work with current usage.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Oh, I love these!

      Decades before this database was founded, my mother started collecting this. She called them, “those ‘what do they think they’ve been hearing all this time?’ examples.”

      Her first was “next store to the post office.”
      My favorite one is “whoa is me!” I have that on a button.

      I often think that the eggcorn is actually *better* than the original idiom. Richer, more visual, with nuances that are very interesting. That’s why I like “whoa” vs. “woe”–it’s so much more empowering so say, “Whoa! Look at that!” than to say “Woe! Everything is awful!”

  8. Marie C.*

    Does anybody have advice?

    My husband just moved out this morning. We’d been talking about getting divorced and I knew that he was looking for somewhere to live, but he told me less than a week ago that he didn’t have anywhere yet. He took the kids away while I was sleeping. He says that he filed for temporary custody and that I will be served at some point.

    I’m also currently unemployed. I just finished grad school and I’m applying for jobs. He’s moving to the city where he works (about an hour away from here), but there is almost no job market for my field there. We were talking about living several hours apart (there’s no job market for me here either) and transporting the kids back and forth, but now I’m worried that he’ll try to argue that I moved far away from the kids if I find a job and/or that I’m unemployed and that he’ll use that against me.

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      I’m so sorry. Please try to take care of yourself.

      Do your best to remember that it’s all about what’s best for the kids. Don’t allow the custody issue to turn into a battle between you and your husband, because that defeats the purpose of any discussion about raising your children properly. You don’t sound surprised by what happened. Had you known he would take the kids? Without knowing more, I think it’s lousy for him to leave you in the lurch like this, knowing that you’re unemployed (and assuming that he had supported you when you first decided to go to grad school). You’re still married, and leaving you to fend for yourself isn’t in the spirit of marriage. Are you sure that he didn’t move out and take the kids to make you look like a bad choice for primary custody?

      For what it’s worth, my dad tried to pull a similar move, and it didn’t work. My mom quickly found work teaching summer courses as an adjunct. She didn’t love it and the pay wasn’t great, but it sustained her until she found something better.

      1. Marie C.*

        I knew that he was going to move out, but not today, and I was completely blindsided by him taking the kids. As of yesterday, we were talking about who was going to watch the kids during the day this upcoming week. I was trying to be matter-of-fact in my original post but I’m definitely freaking out right now. Yeah, I’m worried that he’s trying to make me look like a bad choice for primary custody and I’m not sure what to do.

        I’m glad things worked out okay for your mom. That’s encouraging to hear, thanks!

        1. Bea W*

          Even if you knew he was moving out, taking the kids while you were sleeping was just nasty for you AND for them. Really dude? You’re taking your children to live somewhere else and they don’t get to say good-bye to their mother? He had to have lied to them about what he was doing to even pull that off. He probably fibbed to you as well. It generally takes a few days at least to line up an apartment (waiting on the credit check, getting the lease settled, etc). He had to have come up with a plan to file for temp custody and get the kids out of the house while you slept or weren’t there. Those things don’t just up and happen overnight. I’m willing to bet he knew exactly what he was going to do and when while he was claiming he didn’t have anywhere to go yet.

          I don’t have any advice other than to get yourself a good lawyer ASAP. People have given some good advice about that. I just wanted to toss in my moral support. I am sorry you are going through this, and your soon to be ex-husband is just making it harder for everyone, especially the children caught up in the middle.

      2. anon attorney*

        Nthing that you must must must see an attorney first thing Monday. If you’re not sure who to use, call the bar association for a list. I deal with custody cases (not in the US) and the actions you take at the outset can shape how the entire case goes. If your husband has obtained any kind of court order then he’s already taken advice and you must catch up urgently. Also, listen only to the advice of your attorney and not friends, relatives or Google – it’s so frustrating to have clients worsen their chances of the outcome they want because they don’t believe what we tell them. Especially don’t rely on anything your husband tells you about the legal process. I’m sorry to say you’re no longer on the same side and he may try to mislead you or just get it wrong.

        I know this is very hard and I wish you all the best.

        1. Marie C.*

          I left a message for an attorney who I’ve spoken to in the past. I’ll try to find someone else if I don’t hear back from her on Monday. Thank you so much for your input!

          1. Observer*

            A few more things:

            Make sure your attorney does lots of these kinds of cases.

            ALWAYS do exactly as the court orders, no more and no less, even if you are convinced the judge is wrong. The judge has the final say and if you don’t follow along, you will wind up worse off than before.

            Keep your communications with your ex civil and fact based. It doesn’t make a difference if he has just done something stupid, mean and dangerous. You CAN call him out – but no yelling (in writing on on the phone), name calling etc.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Great points. Also:
              Check to make sure that the attorney doesn’t have any disciplinary actions against them. Make sure they take the time to answer all your questions and explain everything that’s going to happen in a way you understand.

              And as someone upthread suggested, take the long view. Make sure all of your actions are something that you’d be fine with your kids knowing you did, and that won’t make them lose respect for you. Show them how to be an adult in this kind of situation.

              Look in your community for collaborative divorce centers or lawyers. If your husband would agree to going that route, it could make everything less contentious.

              Immediately start putting alerts on all of your accounts so that you know if your husband starts taking money out of them. Get copies of all of his retirement paperwork before he has a chance to take it, or if he has already taken it, see if you can get copies from online or by calling the company. Ditto your bank accounts and anything else that you both have title to or he has title to and any other kinds of accounts. You want to know if he’s taking money or hiding assets, but also the divorce proceedings can go faster if you have all your ducks in a row.

              DON’T PANIC. You can do this, even when it feels like you can’t.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian*

          Not an attorney, but just want to second trusting the advice of your attorney first and foremost. Having just seen my MIL through a guardianship battle for her elderly parents, the legal system can be confusing and one’s friends and family full of well-meaning advice that can turn out to be dead wrong. My MIL felt her attorney wasn’t making her feel assured enough on a frequent-enough basis, so she sought assurance and advice elsewhere. Her attorney finally told her, “You’ve got to let me do my job; I know these kinds of cases and you’re going to have to trust me.” She did, and her attorney was right on all counts. Good luck!

    2. fposte*

      First, get a lawyer. First thing Monday morning.

      Whatever he plans to file for, it hasn’t happened, and you and he have equal rights to the children in the mean time; a judge isn’t going to appreciate his whisking them away while you were sleeping. Do not just accept any of this unless you want him to have primary physical custody–if you don’t object, a judge is going to presume you’re okay with this arrangement.

      Neither of you have moved anywhere yet, so tackle that when you get to it. Since he’s moving too, he’d be a fool to raise that as an issue. I am not a lawyer! But from what I see, generally the default in most states is joint physical custody, often with joint legal custody, and what that means time-wise depends on the distance between you and the kids’ ages.

      But seriously, get a lawyer and fast.

      1. fposte*

        BTW, unemployment has nothing to do with fitness for custody. Has somebody, maybe your husband, been suggesting it does?

      2. Marie C.*

        I spoke with a pro bono lawyer in the past and she said that she’d work with me, but only if we weren’t living together. He’d been putting off moving out for a long time but he was still paying rent and I didn’t want to move out myself because I knew that I would be graduating soon and looking for a job somewhere else. Anyway, I left a message for the lawyer right after this happened.

        I sent him an email saying that I want to spend time with the kids this weekend and asking what time would work. If nothing else, I’ll have a record that I tried to see the kids and he ignored it? He said that they’re staying with a friend of his at the moment so I probably can’t just show up and demand them. They’re out of school for the summer so it’s not like I can pick them up from school.

        Nobody has specifically mentioned unemployment, I’ve just been trying to think of things he might bring up. Thanks for your advice!

        1. What*

          Umm, you’re their mother and no court orders are in effect. Of COURSE you can show up and insist on seeing them. You could take them back with you. Non family friends cannot prevent this – in fact, family that isn’t the biological parent – cannot prevent this unless there is a court order stating otherwise.

        2. Observer*

          Of course, you can just show up. If the family they are staying at tries to prevent you, call the police, unless they have a court order. Keep it calm,and don’s accuse them of anything. But tell the police that your children are there, and the family won’t give you access. The bottom line is that they may believe your ex that it’s all neatly wrapped up and they should prevent you from seeing / taking the kids, but without a court order in hand that police are not going to care.

          1. mt*

            Be careful. If the husband is there and no one has any court order, the police will not intervene. This is a civil matter.

            1. Observer*

              If no one has a court order, and the friends won’t let the kids go with their mother, it’s no longer a simple civil matter. And, the police most definitely CAN intervene.

              1. MT*

                If both parents have custody of the kids, the police will not intervene. The dad has as much right to dictate where the kids live as does the wife,an ugly stalemate. Until someone’s custody is revoked by the courts, police will not do anything.

                1. Observer*

                  That’s not necessarily true. If they are at the father’s house, of course. But if they are at a friend’s house, it’s a whole different kettle of fish. At minimum, they would need to be able to prove that this is the Father’s instructions.

    3. thisit*

      lawyer. but also look into additional resources like CPS, etc. I’m not sure he can just take the kids unless he has some claim about you being unfit (being unemployed is not)?

      call around, you might find someone this weekend.

      1. fposte*

        At least in the US, it’s a draw–broadly speaking, he has the right to go somewhere with the kids same as she does, but neither of them have the right to keep the kids from the other without a legal decision.

        1. nutella*

          I was wondering about that. Even if the other spouse said they filed for custody, I would ask for proof first.

            1. Marie C.*

              Yeah, he said that he “filed paperwork”, that the kids would be living with him for the next 30 days (which is apparently how long it will take for a formal custody arrangement to be figured out) and that someone would be bringing the paperwork to me. I assume this means that he’s claiming to have filed for temporary custody, but nobody has served me or anything yet. Supposedly, this was all on the advice of his lawyer and he actually isn’t doing a lot of other terrible things that the lawyer suggested (yes, he was actually trying to argue that he was being kind to me as he was in the process of screwing me over).

              I’m not sure what my options are if he’s actually filed for temporary custody, but as far as I know this doesn’t mean that I can’t see the kids, at least. I’m definitely talking to a lawyer on Monday morning. Thank you to everyone for all the advice.

              1. fposte*

                And in general, don’t pay too much attention to what a soon-to-be ex says about the matter; maybe he’s trying to get a court order, maybe he’s just telling you and hoping that does the trick.

              2. Observer*

                Again, if he is telling the truth, he FILED. That does not mean he was awarded – you would have gotten notice otherwise.

                1. Coach Devie*

                  and how we he be awarded custody with no formal court proceedings, that she would have been made to come to. He’s counting on naivety it seems, in this situation, and trying to scare OP. It doesn’t work that way OP. He can’t just take your kids away and threaten “paperwork” there isn’t a judge who is going to sign away your rights without even speaking to you dear.

                2. Marie C.*

                  Yeah, that’s what I was wondering. I think temporary custody can be awarded without any kind of formal court proceedings, but someone would have to notify me. It’s been over 24 hours and I haven’t heard anything from anyone. Unless process servers don’t work weekends? Is the fact that I haven’t heard anything yet a good sign? Either way, I guess I’ll find out more when I talk to a lawyer.

              3. Buu*

                It sounds to me like he’s manipulating you, ” it’s not me it’s my mean lawyer”. But he’s made all these decisions and is now trying to shuffle the blame onto you.
                -He took the kids by stealth, which should ring a thousand alarm bells. You hadn’t even drawn up a firm plan on how to care for the kids had you? or if they are old enough talked to them?. This could have been done far more neatly by arranging things and then talking to them, sneaking out implies he’s insecure in his custody prospects.
                -You’re worried that you may have to take a job away from where your husband has moved,but instead of waiting until you had a job or until you could discuss anything he decided where he was going to live. He moved away from *you*.
                – If he’s just yanked the kids like this, has he even got childcare sorted? he may be employed but is he going to be able to get the kids to school, take time off if they are sick etc? A judge will want to see he can actually take care of the kids that involves not just money but time.
                -If he’s moved with the kids what happens to school? Seems pretty thoughtless to just yank them mid term time rather than a carefully planned move over the Summer holidays.

                I’m just rattling some stuff of the top of my head, but I remember the custody battle between my parents for my little brother. My Mother applied for custody then failed to provide any kind of explanation for how she would care for him. You’re feeling justifiably bad right now, but he’s essentially made a tactical error and dented the cred his employment would give him but acting impulsively with his own and not the kid’s needs.

                I agree about finding the legal help, but take care of yourself too. You’re feeling hurt and worried, and he’s exerted power over you. But by acting like this he’s shown that he’s shown he’s not thinking about the kids, I suspect a judge will take that into consideration. Take care of yourself tonight and try to rest.

                1. Marie C.*

                  He actually took them the day after school ended for the summer. I don’t think that was a coincidence.

                  Yeah, I was pretty worried yesterday but I keep trying to remind myself of things along the lines “This is not normal. Normal people don’t do things like this. Of course I didn’t see it coming, because this isn’t a normal life event that people usually experience. If nothing else, this makes me look like a better person.”

                  Thank you for the supportive words!

                2. Ciera*

                  Immediately after you call your lawyer, call or go to the bank. As a matter of fact, check your joint accounts right now. If the money is still there, start withdrawing it right now. A man who will whisk his kids away like this will do the same with the money. You have to protect yourself financially. I am guessing he has filed a divorce proceeding already, but there is no way there could have been even a temporary custody award. This may be a power play. You may also want to consider calling the police, because while there may be little they can do, you will have an official, written record of his actions. I wish you the best of luck and the speedy return of your children.

              4. Bea W*

                (yes, he was actually trying to argue that he was being kind to me as he was in the process of screwing me over).


                This is so typical of people who are trying to screw other people over. I even got this line of BS from my manager and HR at my last job when I raised complaints about how Bully Big Boss in my department was treating me. Oh heck no. Don’t buy into it. Don’t piss on my leg and tell me it’s rain.

    4. OfficePrincess*

      On top of getting a lawyer ASAP, make sure it’s one who really does have your best interest in mind. I have a family member who worked with an ok lawyer for the initial divorce but she really just wanted to get it over with. Turns out she got screwed in the agreement once another lawyer got involved years later for a child support issue. This is one time you don’t want to settle for close enough just to be done.

    5. She used to squeeze the filet mignon from the middle of the tube.*

      As has been mentioned: lawyer up. Sorry, but I gotta say: he just took the kids, with no prior discussion? That’s a real cheesy move.

      Someone mentioned the wisdom of listening to your attorney over anything friends and family might tell you. This is absolutely true.

      Having said that: the law varies from state to state, but if you’re unemployed while your husband has a paying job, you *might* be eligible for alimony. If so: take it. Along with any child support. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m sure your attorney will be happy to walk you through all of this stuff.

      Hang in there!

    6. StillHealing*

      I’m so sorry you are having to deal with this. I’m very glad you have a call out to a lawyer. Taking the kids and moving out while you are sleeping – I just don’t get that. His lawyer told him to do that? Those types of tactics are usually frowned upon by the courts.

      As others have said here, listen to and rely on the knowledge of a good lawyer and not your soon-to-be-ex. My divorce is still not over and one of my hardest lessons to learn through this process so far is to not believe anything my husband says.

      1. the gold digger*

        I am not divorced, but my husband was divorcing when I met him. The advice I would give anybody, based on his experience with a mediated divorce (that only works when both people want the divorce and his ex-wife did not), is to hire the meanest lawyer you can.

        My husband did not get his own lawyer. He just wanted to be divorced. The alimony he paid his ex was three times what was required by California law. His own stupid fault for not doing any research, but he assumed (also not so smart) that the lawyers who were mediating the divorce would give him advice. They didn’t.

        Not excusing him at all – this was all his fault. I have told him that the next time he divorces, he better get a mean lawyer because I would be getting one!

        1. StillHealing*

          Oh, I agree- somewhat. You need a Lawyer who knows what they are doing and someone who will go to bat for you. If you want a mean lawyer, get one by all means. Yet they don’t necessarily need to be a rabid Pit Bull, they just need to not give in when you yourself have buckled to the stress and pressures. Relentless. Tenacious. I have an hourly lawyer, a woman who advocates and empowers her clients. She’s a tough cookie and has told me if I was able to afford to put her on retailer, this process would be a bit different. She would take the reins and get me what I’m due. I set my expectations way too low, she has let me know that. She has helped me hang in there and not throw in the towel completely out of frustration with trying to get stbx to cooperate. Stbx (My soon to be ex) is leaving in a week to go live with his affair partner on the other coast. The divorce will not be final for a while due to his being so uncooperative. We are past our 91 day waiting period so it could’ve been over a while ago. (I looked up his last divorce online and it took over a year and his wife was the one to initiate the process with that divorce also) I’m stuck doing all the final leg work, paperwork and schedule the hearing. Due to my being disabled and just getting back to fulltime work these past two months, my Lawyer thinks the courts may not look favorably on what stbx has done and might order him to pay me more than I have agreed to receive. I suspect the court will need to garnish his wages regardless.

        2. StudentA*

          I disagree with the “mean lawyer” piece. It seems that gold digger’s husband was screwed over by the lawyer due to incompetence. So I do agree, obviously, with getting a quality lawyer. I don’t agree with the popular attitude of getting a shark lawyer to screw over the other person. Keeping things civil and peaceful should be a priority, and everyone has to start with themselves, not wait to see what the stbx does.

          I know many people just want to “win”, but what is more important than winning, is what’s best for the kids.

          1. fposte*

            And, since there are kids, this is a relationship that’s going on until the youngest is eighteen, so while it’s important to defend yourself, you don’t want to poison things unnecessarily. There are a lot of discussions about birthdays, weekends, graduations, afterschool programs, and medical treatments to go through still.

        3. Observer*

          I’m going to disagree. Your husband was messed up because the lawyer was incompetent, not because he was not mean.

    7. LCL*

      Do you have any joint bank accounts, or joint credit card accounts? If so, I think it would be worth putting a freeze on them. I would do a google search for the laws and rules in your state, right now.

      1. Alma*

        Be sure you have certified copies of any important documents: marriage license, birth certificates, vehicle paperwork, anything related to military service for either of you, and put them in a safe place only you can access.

      2. blackcat*

        Big yes to this. Anyone who’d abscond with kids while their partner is sleeping* is probably the same person who’ll max out the credit cards and empty the bank account.

        *Exception to this is if someone is getting kids out of an abusive situation. Which is very far from your situation. Though, even in that case, I’d probably advise the person taking the kids to empty the bank account…

      3. Marie C.*

        He actually took exactly half of the money out of the bank accounts (also while I was sleeping). He made a big deal about how reasonable he was being. I opened up my own individual account and transferred the rest out, and we didn’t have any joint credit cards so I’m at least okay on that front.

        1. fposte*

          That may or may not end up being reasonable, depending on how family finances or operated, but it’s time to stop paying attention to what he says is going on. Think of him now as a silent movie–don’t pay attention to what he says, pay attention to what he does.

          1. Saucy Minx*

            Good advice at any time.

            People can say anything, maybe even believe what they are saying, but it’s what they actually do that tells you who they are.

        2. Bea W*

          WTH?? Good idea getting some money into your own account. He’d have likely taken the rest later. He’s being super underhanded nasty. This is not how divorce works (in most cases). You don’t just take the kids and half the money in the joint account. That is not going to work in his favor unless you are in a state / district where the law and/or judges are still in the dark ages (they exist unfortunately).

        3. HR Generalist*

          Marie , are you in Canada? If so, I’d recommend getting in touch with your nearest women’s shelter that deals with domestic violence. They’re mandated to provide services to women who have suffered abuse and I’d say that stealing your children and manipulating you to make that happen would qualify as an emotionally abusive partner.
          Call a crisis line or find your nearest shelter and explain your situation. They can hook you up with legal aid and the steps you need to take to protect yourself. Good luck on your journey.. you’ll get through it!

  9. Carrie in Scotland*

    Does anyone else do postcrossing?

    It’s a website where you sign up, say a little bit about yourself and then you can send and receive postcards from around the world. I like it, it’s good to get “happy post” when all it usually is are bills and junk.

    1. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      Sounds wonderful. If you have already started post crossing, what has your experience been like?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I’m only a couple of postcards into it but so far I’ve sent postcards to Russia, Germany, Belarus and the US. I’ve been sent postcards from Germany and Hong Kong. Some people say what type of card they like e.g. one of my swaps particularly wanted a lighthouse, others just something local or whatever you want.

        Something similar is a once every so often parcel exchange called perfectstrangers – I’ve not done this before but have signed up for the next swap in June.

    2. nutella*

      I did it but stopped when I got a response from a creep who received my card. Just know that not everyone on there has the same intentions.

      1. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

        This is exactly what I was wondering about. Some online communities are wonderful (well, this one is…) and others, not.

      2. Coach Devie*

        I’d do this, but I’d use a post office box and not a personal address for this reason.

    3. Revanche*

      I actually organized a version of this (I called it a postcard party) for my blog readers this month. It was a fair bit of work but fun! If everyone enjoys it may look into a better way to do it and repeat a few times a year.

  10. Blamange*

    One week and I and I will be panicking for my Shakespeare exam. Good lord, I need to revise at least 3 plays and the Sonnets it will be done! Then one more year of Shakespeare and I graduate!! yay!!! Currently surfing the metal section on itunes. So much good music to be had, need to make a playlist for next week.

    Hoping to see Mad Max tomorrow eve!

    Currently reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, so good except I completely ignore the footnotes.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Are you in the UK, blamange? The BBC are showing a 7 parter of Strange and Norrell at the moment. It’s been years since I’ve read the book, so once the adaptation is done I’ll have to re-read it.

      Good luck with your studying! I’ve got 2 years to go before I graduate so the end is in your sights :)

      1. Emily*

        Ooh, is the BBC adaptation any good? I also haven’t read the book in a long time, but I remember it being very good.

        1. Carrie in Scotland*

          Emily – I think it has been, according to the reviews I’ve read anyway.

        2. Mander*

          I’ve never read the book but I heard a DJ on the radio raving about it (the book and the BBC adaptation) so I started watching it. So far I’ve only seen two episodes but I really like it so far! I definitely plan to read the book afterward.

      2. Blamange*

        Yes which is why I am reading it. :D I want to finish reading it first before spoiling it for myself. It’s very much inspired by Charles Dickens.

      1. Blamange*

        My final two years yes. It’s so difficult though! I am happy I get to study it in depth.

    2. Ailsa AbuDhabi*

      Read the footnotes!! They’re so funny!

      I just reread it in time for the start of the TV adaptation, which has been really good so far (which is a relief).

  11. Natalie*

    I’m getting my house! I beat 7 other people, we came to terms on the inspection, and we’re closing in 3 weeks. AAAAAAAH!

    1. fposte*

      Oh, many congratulations! Can you share any details? I love houses and house shopping.

      1. salad fingers*

        I second this. Love hearing about these things if you want to share. And CONGRATS!!

      2. Natalie*

        It’s old (1905), 2 beds, 1.5 bath, hardwood floors. It’s an “alley house” so it’s set on the back of the lot and has a huge front yard. The current owners bought it from the bank about 8 years ago and put in a ton of work (new roof, new windows, new HVAC, redid the kitchen, bathrooms, and floors, etc). And it has a beautiful garden – one of the current owners is a landscaper.

        1. fposte*

          Wow, that sounds absolutely amazing. I’m not familiar with alley houses–is that a Minnesota thing? Or is this a situation where there used to be a street house in front of it and that’s gone now?

          You are going to have so much fun with this.

  12. Loose Seal*

    Outlander — the TV series. Now that the first season is over, what are your thoughts?

    Spoilers ahead. I know it’s airing at different times in different countries so if you don’t want to be spoiled, collapse replies. (I’ll try to leave a little blank space in this post so you won’t inadvertently see the next reply.)

    Book readers, let’s try not to talk about what happens in the next book/next season so we don’t spoil that to TV viewers.

    Shall we begin?

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      Hmmmm, I loved the first half-season, and I’m generally a fan of the books, but I found that the storytelling wasn’t very tight in this last batch of episodes. Plus, I didn’t like that “punishment” incident in the books, and hated how it was handled on the show – it’s always a problem when a book that was intended for a small audience (romance with certain kinks) ends up being adapted for the mainstream. But at least in the books you have a sense that Claire needed to have the realization that this is real, she’s in Scotland in the 1700s (not a woman with more rights in the 1940s), so she couldn’t go around acting like she knew better than everyone else. When she chose to stay with Jamie, she was knowingly choosing a lower status for herself.

      And of course I love how the show expanded on Frank’s personality (and I will always enjoy watching Tobias Menzies do character work), but getting a clearer picture of him made me wonder why Claire would leave him for Jamie and a more dangerous world without hot showers. It’s strange because I positively ached for Jamie in the books and I’m not sure if there’s something missing in the adaptation.

      1. Loose Seal*

        I agree that the TV version didn’t really show why Claire would have chosen Jamie. All my friends that watched the show and hadn’t read the books just assumed that the stones didn’t work when Claire tried to go back.

        I was ok with the punishment (or, as one blogger put it, “The Spanking Heard ‘Round the World” =P ) both in the book and on the show. Like it or not, a man’s right to punish his wife existed in a lot of cultures for a long time. I would expect that even 1940s women sometimes found themselves in that position. I do see, however, that it might be very difficult for modern viewers to witness.

        1. AnnieNonymous*

          Yeah, I’m not the sort to hold historical characters accountable for ideas that didn’t exist yet (ie feminism). Still, I didn’t love watching it, especially when I think back to how Frank had a fundamental respect for her and treated her like a peer.

      2. The IT Manager*

        book that was intended for a small audience (romance with certain kinks) ends up being adapted for the mainstream

        Interesting point. I haven’t read the books or seen the TV show. I was curious enough to wiki the books to see the plot and I decided that it wasn’t for me. She was married at the start and chose another man over her decent sounding husband. And as a sci fi fan (not a fantasy fan) I have no idea why anyone would willing choose the to live in the past with the lack of conveniences and women being considered property of their husbands. Why would she choose that life for her children?

        The people who like the book series seem to love the series. It makes so much more sense that its a sub genre focused on a certain kink.

        1. Sandy*

          Definite spoiler here: she doesn’t actually choose that life for her children.

          I’ve always thought that she felt she was in a position to make the decision to stay precisely because she always has the option to leave, even if she didn’t take it in Season 1.

          1. Loose Seal*

            At that point when she made the choice to stay, she thought she was infertile, though. So it wasn’t like she was choosing for anyone but herself.

        2. Loose Seal*

          Her 1940s husband is a descendant of the most evil person in 1743 and they resemble each other greatly (played by the same actor in the show). After the 1743 guy has his hooks into Claire — everything from attempted rape to physical blows to emotional abuse — I can see why she’s reluctant to return to her first husband. Every time she looked at her husband, she’d see evil.

          Also, she had only spent 10 days with her husband during WWII. The book doesn’t specify how long they knew each other before the war but I always thought they barely knew each other and got swept up in the getting-married-’cause-we’re-at-war-baby emotion. So, once Jamie and she had spent enough time together to become friends and he had saved her life a couple of times (including being willing to marry her to protect her), well, I’d probably choose husband number two as well.

        3. AnnieNonymous*

          Apparently “time travel romance” is a fairly well-established literary genre, so fans of that type of book tend to know what they’re getting into and which conceits they have to roll with. I’ve read that the author kind of started writing without knowing where her story was headed, and she just threw in everything she liked, which made me suspect that she chose to throw such a relatively modern woman into an archaic world because she (the author) didn’t want to do a lot of work when writing Claire’s inner thoughts. She wanted to write what she already knew, and Claire’s reactions to her situation come much more naturally than crafting a wholly new historical first-person mentality. If that makes sense.

          The other commenters are correct about Frank and Claire not really being that familiar with each other by the time the war is over, and she disappears right when they were starting to get back on track. In the books, you get a better sense of the wild passion between Jamie and Claire, but Claire also stays in 1743 out of kindness for Frank, since she didn’t expect him to have been waiting for her that whole time. Taken all together, it didn’t read as illogical that she would decide to stay where she was under the presumption that she probably didn’t have a home waiting for her in 1945.

    2. She used to squeeze the filet mignon from the middle of the tube.*

      I’ll just come out and say it: episode 10 was pretty hot.

      But also I recently saw episode 15(?), the Whentworth Prison episode – and wow, it seemed like it was written towards a fan-base whose kinks I do not share.

      I’ll give the actors and writers credit, though: As villains go, Captain Jack has quickly worked his way up (or perhaps down) to the level of Baron Vladimir Harkonnen and Norman Stansfield – we’re talking creme de la slime.

      1. Sandy*

        Pretty sure those aren’t kinks. The final episode delves quite seriously (for a AtV show) into the aftermath of that trauma.

    3. Jackie*

      I haven’t seen the last episode yet. I have wondered why Claire would stay in the 1700s if she could go back to 1945. And I have wondered why Claire keeps pushing her 20th century ideas and getting in trouble. But to me I have to wonder how Claire got her clean and stylish clothes LOL.

    4. Sabrina*

      The simple reason to why Claire stays in 1743 is because she fell in love. The heart wants what the heart wants. She feels guilty about it no doubt, but what can you do?

  13. salad fingers*

    Can I ask for a couple of book recommendations? You all have the best taste…

    1. Memoirs or fictional accounts of jail or prison. Not looking for dense non-fiction.
    2. Just finished the Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer. Anything up that alley (environmental catastrophe sci fi? I think?) would be totally great.
    3. Your favorite classic.

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      As for classics, or books that deserve to be classics, try Amy Greene’s Bloodroot. I think it’s criminal that she’s not as renowned as Cormac McCarthy. Bloodroot is exactly what you imagine when you think of quintessential American literature.

    2. Cath in Canada*

      2. Have you read The Windup Girl? I had really mixed feelings about it (review on my blog – I’ll add the link separately) but it fits the genre you mentioned pretty well. Trigger warning for sexual violence.

      3. I was surprised to learn a few years ago how much I love reading Dickens! I think trying to read A Christmas Carol when I was too young for it put me off, but he was a really great writer. I think my favourite so far is A Tale of Two Cities, but Great Expectations and Bleak House were also great. I’m currently enjoying the BBC adaptation of the latter, with Gillian Anderson, on iTunes.

        1. salad fingers*

          I love Dickens! I read Great Expectations for the first time as a young adult after having chucked it in the antiquated/hard to read/not for pleasure section of my mental bookshelf. Had the, wait – this is really good and funny and not a chore at all moment that happens so often when you stop reading for school and start reading for leisure.

          Haven’t read The Windup Girl but will check out your review, thanks!

          1. the gold digger*

            I hated Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities when I was in 9th grade. When I read them in college, I thought, “These are not the books I read five years ago! These stories are FABULOUS!”

            I love Dickens. My favorite guy. He knew how to plot. He wrote for magazines and would publish a chapter an issue, so that’s why each chapter is usually a cliffhanger.

            (Jarndyce vs Jarndyce!)

    3. Florida*

      I read Newjack after Alison recommended it. I enjoyed it. It’s about a reporter who becomes a corrections officer at Sing Sing. Very easy reading – it’s non-fiction, but not dense at all.

      1. salad fingers*

        Ooh, I remember this recommendation now. This sounds very much the like the sort of thing I’m looking for, thank you Florida and Alison.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I recommend Running the Books, a memoir of a nice Jewish boy who, finding himself at lose ends after he abandons his lifelong dream of becoming a rabbi, does a stint as a prison librarian.

    4. The IT Manager*

      The Last Policeman trilogy by Ben H. Winters

      An asteroid is about to destroy the world. There’s less than a year left. Watch the world fall apart from the POV of a young, small town policeman who deals with the end of the world by trying to fulfill his dream if being a policeman. I just started book 3, but the books are a strange mash up detective story and pre-apocalyptic sci fi.

      It’s a fairly easy sci fi read because it’s set “next year.”

      1. salad fingers*

        Yep, devoured the series based on recommendations here. Thank you if you were one of the folks who suggested them – such good reads!

        1. The IT Manager*

          Actually they’ve been recommended to me from a few places, and it was a recent recommendation here that inspired me to start reading them after I finally got back to reading after taking about two months to get through a single book when life was busy.

      2. the gold digger*

        If you like this story, you might like “On The Beach” by Nevile Shute. An atomic bomb has gone off in the northern hemisphere and the Australians are waiting for the fallout to get to them. How do you live your life knowing the world will end in a few months? Do you plant tomatoes?

    5. jhhj*

      1. I haven’t read it yet, but the real person behind Alex in Orange is the New Black wrote a memoir. Her real name is Cleary Wolters, and I’m looking forward to reading it.
      2. Mira Grant’s Feed trilogy is more medical catastrophe. John Joseph Adams and Hugh Howey edited a trilogy of anthologies about this, called The End is Near/The End is Nigh/The End Has Come. Maybe Oryx & Crake and the related books.
      3. Jane Eyre, then Emma.

      1. salad fingers*

        Nice, thank you for the suggestions. Feed trilogy sounds great from a quick google.

        Also, this is the part where I hang my head in shame and admit that I’ve never read any Austen or Brontë. I’ll show myself out.

        1. land of oaks*

          Jane Eyre is the best of all of the Brontes. If you are only going to read one read that. I have fun reading Austen, but hers are nowhere near as good as Jane Eyre.

    6. katamia*

      Oh, I’m most of the way through the third Southern Reach book now, although I kinda wish I’d stopped after the first one. :( Second one was okay, but this one is really a slog. I’m just not feeling it.

      Not sure if this counts because it’s someone who worked in a prison rather than someone who was actually in prison, but Avi Steinberg’s Running the Books is pretty good.

      As far as classics go, I love One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Also Crime and Punishment is pretty good, and I love Gulliver’s Travels (but unless you’re extremely familiar with English history, try to find an edition with footnotes so you can catch all the satire). Also Shakespeare. I don’t like his comedies, but Richard III, Henry V, Othello, and Macbeth are good.

      1. salad fingers*

        So, I’m glad you said this. I pretty much agree with you on the trilogy, although I suspect I may have liked book two just a bit more than you did. The third one was slow going for sure, which is sort of a disappointment as is set entirely in Area X and has an opportunity to conjure as visually compelling a backdrop as book one did. Overall enjoyed the whole thing though.

        Sounds like Running the Books is a popular one — now on the library list, thank you!

        1. katamia*

          I was looking for weird/creepy atmosphere, mainly–I don’t see things in my head, so all that pretty landscape description doesn’t do a whole lot for me. But the reviews I’d read for the trilogy focused on how odd it was, so I gave it a shot. The first book had the atmosphere I was looking for, but the second didn’t except for a few bits. While the third has slightly more oddness, I kind of didn’t want the answers to some of the questions we’re getting to help preserve the mystery. Now that I know that certain things are going on, it’s harder to scratch that “weird/creepy atmosphere” itch I’ve been having recently.

          1. salad fingers*

            I totally agree. I thought, to borrow from filet minon (for brevity, sorry :)) below, that the mundane description of an extremely weird place was what made the first book so awesome, and I was hoping for more of that in the second and third book. Didn’t get it so much, but liked the whole trilogy nonetheless.

    7. Paige Turner*

      1. Criminal That I Am by Jennifer Ridha
      2. Station Eleven has been popular with Southern Reach fans, as has The Martian. (I work in a bookstore.)
      3. My favorite “classic” is poetry- does that count? Keats.

      1. salad fingers*

        I think this is like the 1235923 time Station Eleven has been recommended to me, so it’s going on the library hold list, thank you :-) Also, will add The Martian to that. Is this genre considered to be sci fi lite? Is that even a thing?

        1. The IT Manager*

          The Martian is actually in the vein of classic sci fi. Stranded astronaut survives on his intelligence. But it takes place about 20 years in the future (I don’t recall exactly) so the setting is not that different than today on Mars. (Sometimes I am in the mood for an easy read and galaxy spanning space opera can be very tough to get into.)

          Don’t know about Station Eleven; it might be literary sci fi since from what I can tell it gets mentioned by people who don’t usually read/like sci fi, but I haven’t looked too much into it.

    8. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My favourite classic (and favourite book, period) is A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. A perfect novel, if you ask me, and a wonderful feeling of childhood giving way to adulthood. One of the best things about it is how many layers to the story there are–as a kid reading it for the first time, I naturally empathized with Francie, the protagonist, but the older I get the more fascinated I am by the story of her mother–because it’s really a story about her whole family at its root.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Loved this book and still think about the characters all the time. We listened to it on CD on a family trip from Arkansas to Colorado.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        That’s one of my favorites too. I’ve read it so many times I can quote from it verbatim.

        I love all the background stuff about the families, and the neighbors as well. I think Aunt Sissy is one of my favorite characters.

      3. Arjay*

        I still haven’t read this yet. I believe I’m too traumatized from getting it confused with Last Exit to Brooklyn. They are … not the same.

    9. fposte*

      On 1, do you know about Jack Gantos’ Hole in My Life? Gantos is a Newbery-winning children’s book author who, as a teenager, got caught when he and some confederates sailed a boatload of hash from the Virgin Islands to (New York? I forget the planned destination, but they didn’t make it) and did federal time for it. He wrote the account of the experience as a YA nonfiction book. Gantos is smart and hilarious and not without enjoyable weirdness (if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, go), and it’s a really interesting account.

      Once, when he was speaking at a big event, I saw a nice older librarian or teacher ask him, expecting a nice moral response, “And do you regret what you did?” “Hell, no,” he said. “Look where I am now!”

      1. salad fingers*

        Ooh, he sounds like a trip. Not what I’m looking for right now (someone I love went to scary cook county jail under less unusual and more sad, 10 years of drug addiction/crime/trauma circumstances and I’m trying to read similar accounts to, I don’t know… cope?) but I will bookmark this one. Sort of amazing that this is YA. Thank you, fposte!

        1. fposte*

          There is also his story about the dildo and the National Book Awards. It is the best story about a dildo and the National Book Awards I have ever heard.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      I just finished Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch. I really liked it, even though the protagonist and most of the other characters are pretty horrible people, lol. Right before that I read Revival, by Stephen King, which I also enjoyed. He’s got the ability to completely immerse you in the 60’s.

      As for classics, I’m not sure you could truly call it a “classic” but one of my favorite books, that I just recently read again, is The Last Convertible by Anton Myrer. It’s a coming of age story of 5 friends against the backdrop of WW2.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      1. I don’t know of any jail memoirs, but the OitNB books sound good. I haven’t read either.
      2. Ugh, got no environmental sci-fi; I’m just getting into it. But I like Robert Sawyer a lot. His Hominid trilogy blew me away.
      3. What Former Diet Coke Addict said–A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my faves. I also can’t stop reading du Maurier’s Rebecca. That’s another one I can quote from. And To Kill a Mockingbird. I know there’s been some controversy about Go Set a Watchman, but I can’t wait to read it.

    12. She used to squeeze the filet mignon from the middle of the tube.*

      When I read the first Southern Reach book, I was reminded of some of the things on the SCP Foundation site (such as SCP-093).

      A couple of books that come to mind are The Great White Space by Basil Copper and Spares by Michael Marshall Smith. Ignore the blurb on Spares, which describes about 1/20th of the book.

      A couple of somewhat more mundane descriptions of extremely weird places can be found in Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clarke and Eon by Greg Bear. Neither of these are quite what you asked for, but they’re good books nonetheless.

      For eco-catastrophe, I didn’t care much for The Wind-Up Girl but the author Paolo_Bacigalupi’s short story collection
      Pump Six and Other Stories is extremely good (also disturbing).

      Also disturbing, but in a different way, is Kaleidoscope Century by John Barnes. It’s eco-catastrophe and more, told from the Bad Guy’s perspective.

      Finally, a couple of – I’m not sure if they’re really classics, but they’re very good books that will stick with you for a long time:

      The Choirboys by Joseph Wambaugh will make you laugh and cry at the same time.

      Steps by Jerzy Kosinski. Life in Europe after WW2 – short book, easy to read – except the style is unnerving and unforgettable.

      1. salad fingers*

        You, with the ever changing username. Can I come over sometime to read all of your books?

        Really though, thank you for this. I think “mundane descriptions of extremely weird places” is exactly what I liked about Annihilation (katamia, I’m guessing this is what you liked too?) and what I want more of. Also, Steps has been on my list for awhile now, thank you for reminding me.

    13. the gold digger*

      These two memoirs about the Vietnam war have stayed with me for years.

      1. The Passing of the Night: My Seven Years as a Prisoner of the North Vietnamese, by Robinson Risner (this one was particularly impactful for me because his niece was a friend of mine in grade school). I learned about the tapping code the POWs developed to communicate with each other and how they set up schools so they would have something to do.

      2. In Love and War, by Jim and Sibyl Stockdale. Admiral Stockdale and his wife wrote this book together. It’s about his time as a POW – how he beat himself up in the face rather than let the N. Vietnamese use him as propaganda, the torture they endured, daily life. One thing he noted has always struck me – he said the POWs who didn’t survive were the ones who had too much hope – they would believe the N. Viets that they would be released on Easter, on Christmas, on Easter, on 4th of July. He said they basically died of broken hearts.

      His wife’s side is about what it was like to have your husband be a POW.

      1. salad fingers*

        You know, I’ve read a lot of WW2 stuff — historical fiction, memoir and plain non-fiction, but I haven’t picked up anything Vietnam related. Thank you for these suggestions.

    14. land of oaks*

      For 1.
      -Do They Hear You When You Cry? by Fauziya Kassindja. It’s a little different, but a young woman from Togo who came to the US to seek asylum and then was imprisoned for 16 months. It’s absolutely beautifully written.

      – Prison Writings by Leonard Peltier. He’s a controversial figure, but considered by many to be a political prisoner. This is an old memoir, but I’ve gone back to read it more than once.
      – An American Radical: A Political Prisoner in My Own Country by Susan Rosenberg
      – The Prisoner’s Wife: A Memoir by Asha Bandele
      – A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca
      – Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver’s memoir.

      – Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard by Laura Bates – a book about her time teaching Shakespeare in a supermax prison.
      – True Notebooks: A Writer’s Year at Juvenile Hall by Mark Salzman
      – Hole in My Life – Jack Gantos

      Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
      The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld
      A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines
      The Keep by Jennifer Egan
      White Oleander by Janet Fitch
      In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

      And don’t even get me started on this, but there are a bunch of books about Guantanamo I think everyone should read, but here are just two:
      Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo by Murat Kurnaz
      Guantánamo Diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Larry Siems

  14. The Other Dawn*

    I made my first batch of hummus today! Actually, my second. The first batch was terrible. It was pretty easy. There are just so many recipes out there, it was hard to decide which one to use. So, I went with one of my favorite Food Network stars: Alton Brown. His recipes seem to work well for me. Here are the results: http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/2015/05/homemade-hummus.html#.VWofNNJVhBc

    My kitty hasn’t come home so I guess I have to accept he’s gone for good. :(

    Old Tenant stopped sending me money orders in payment for the Small Claims suit. But I’m hoping it’s because we got official notice that I won and payments don’t officially start until 06/16.

    I was hoping to go on the Def Leppard cruise in January (favorite band!) given how shitty this year has been, but I can’t swing the deposit and payment plan. I’d have to come up with 600.00 for the deposit next week and then 600.00 4 week from then, remainder due a few months down the road. I to be honest with myself about my finances and all the other expenses that are coming up, and I decided not to go. :( I’m bummed, but I’ll survive.

    I discovered gladiolas in my yard! Huge purple ones that are blooming right now. I think I have some pink ones, too, but they haven’t bloomed yet. Just hoping for rain soon. Northeast is in a drought right now.

    1. Ailsa AbuDhabi*

      Homemade hummus is the best! So much fun, although it is a classic ‘why buy this when I can make it myself at four times the cost and inconvenience’ DIY. I really like the Hummus Bros cookbook for it, they have loads of great ideas for Things To Do With Hummus.

      I’m so sorry about your kitty!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yeah I will likely just keep buying it. I wanted to try it out and see if it’s better but to be totally honest, I like store bought better. I’ll see what it tastes like tomorrow.

        1. Trixie*

          You might also try making hummus with cannelloni beans, lemon juice, water, evoo, cumin, and pinch of salt. The beans are creamy enough to not need to tahini, and may have just a bit more protein or fiber than garbanzo beans.

      2. Rene UK*

        Oh, so sorry about your kitty!

        Well, I’m pretty sure my recipe is cheaper than bought, though it’s a bit more work. I just put a tin of garbanzos(it’s important that they don’t contain a firming agent or the hummus will be gritty–just beans and salt), salt and pepper, a shake of either cayenne or paprika(depending on the audience), some ‘Lazy Garlic’, finely diced fermented lemons(lemon juice is OK, but the fermented lemons are better), and a spoon or so of tahini in a blender and whiz. Slowly add some olive oil until it’s a good texture. I’ve made it with little white beans, but I like garbanzos better. I also made a version with ground almonds for a friend who’s allergic to legumes, and it was pretty good–just different.
        I generally like Alton Brown’s recipes, but I almost never measure salt or spices–I just add what I think it needs–so I can’t comment on the saltiness.

    2. Anonyby*

      Yay for making food! Question… You mentioned too salty. Did you use kosher or table salt? Table salt weighs about twice as much per a given volume amount compared to kosher, so that can throw people off. Of course, you could just be more sensitive to salt. :)

      I’m sorry about your kitty. :( *hugs!*

      Yeah, I’m starting to stress about my brother’s wedding next year, because of finances (and lack of PTO).

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I used kosher which is what the recipe calls for. I read some of the reviews on Alton Browns website and several people said the same thing, that’s it’s too salty.

        Yeah, we also have a 50th anniversary party we are planning for my in laws, family picnic two weeks later and then a business trip. I don’t have to pay for the business trip, but I’m staying extra nights so have to pay for that.

        1. Loose Seal*

          I find a lot of Alton’s recipes salty. But apparently I under-salt everything compared to the Food Network chefs.

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I think Gordon Ramsey once said that a chef’s biggest secret is how much butter and salt it takes to make food taste really good. I’m with him about the butter, but I do prefer a lighter hand with the salt.

    3. Marcela*

      I’m… well, actually, my husband too, as I told him about your kitty, we are truly sorry. Not knowing what happened to them is so awful. Hugs!

    4. Alma*

      When using canned garbanzo beans, empty the can into a colander and rinse them well to greatly reduce the salt.

      Then you can salt to taste, or add cumin and or more lemon for that salty taste if you are watching salt intake.

    5. StillHealing*

      I’m sorry to hear your kitty has not returned. I have to agree with you that’s it been a shitty year so far.

  15. nep*

    Iffy mole update — when they removed it, it was classed as a ‘neoplasma of uncertain behaviour’. Lab results show ‘benign lesion — non-cancerous’.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Awesome! Good for you for getting it checked.

      My friend has a weird spot on her neck and has yet to get it checked. It was over a year ago that she first noticed it. But she does that with everything, which really irks me. Don’t understand why people do that.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          I can understand that I guess. I’m just not that way. I’d want to know so I can kick It’s ass, whatever it is. I know at least two people that are no longer with us because they chose to ignore glaring signs of cancer. Had they had it checked out they might have beaten it. Sad.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I know–I knew someone who did the same thing. Ignored a lump in her breast and finally went to the doctor (she was afraid of doctors) when she started having really bad back pain. By then, it had spread to her spine and she didn’t live long after that. :(

    2. StillHealing*

      That’s great news! Did your stress levels drop significantly as soon as you heard the lab results?

      1. nep*

        There certainly was relief. But my stress level was not high. Even though there are potentially stressful things going on, I don’t let them stress me out.

        1. StillHealing*

          That’s great to hear. Sounds like you would’ve sailed right through any storm/result and come out healing well and dealing well. Not letting things stress you out is a great strength to have.

  16. KJR*

    My cousin’s son is in the finals of Britain’s Got Talent tomorrow night! They are called Entity Allstars. I am in the US so can’t vote…so excited for them!

  17. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

    My oldest son graduated from high school today! And delivered one of the commencement addresses of the morning! He is a gifted speaker who absolutely loved his school, classmates, teachers and staff and his speech was funny, warm and loving. I am just bursting and blubbering with pride. He was a young man without much positive direction just two short years ago but always such a sweet, loving and joyful child. We sat in an enormous auditorium and I realized in awe and amazement that this babe that completely changed my life has become a remarkable young man with a bright and hopeful future. I remember the conflict I felt when I graduated – how my parents cried and clung to me not wanting me to grow up. So I have been trying hard to just let him launch without him or his subs seeing that it is a hard thing for me. I swear that as soon as he hits the door for the grad party circuit tonight I am going to drag of the baby pics and have a good cry :)

    1. nep*

      How wonderful. The fact that he’s a remarkable young man reflects on you, I’m sure.
      All bittersweet, indeed. But LOTS of sweet.
      Wishing you and him all the best. Thanks for sharing this.

    2. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      I guess since I always took the bad stuff as an indication the I was The Worst Mom Ever, I will go ahead and bask in the good stuff today :) Thanks for letting me be Braggy McBraggerson

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Congratulations! Growing up is never all sunshine and roses and the fact that you LET your kid have the bad stuff is I’m sure no small part of what got him here.

    3. Rene UK*

      Congrats! Mine’s 17 now and it’s wonderful to see him growing up, but hard too.

    4. StillHealing*

      Congratulations. What a lovely son you have. And kudos to you mom- for he had some good nurturing to helped him become the fine young man he’s become .

  18. Cath in Canada*

    I finally finished reading The Bone Clocks, just in time for the wine club discussion on Thursday evening!

    (Book club! I meant book club).

    Overall I really liked large parts of it. The use of different narrators for different sections of the story was really well done, and the first several sections – tales of seemingly ordinary humans, with some (mostly quite subtle) indications that All Is Not What It Seems going on – were great. I also loved the final post-apocyalyptic section (I have a weakness for post-apocalyptic fiction, and this was a great example of the form). However, the penultimate section, in which the author seemed to suddenly realize “oh shit, I forgot to explain everything” and committed a series of egregiously non-subtle information dumps, put me off over all.

    The other members of my book club didn’t agree, though – they all really liked the section that I found wanting. I think part of my dissatisfaction stemmed from having recently read The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which covered some of the same themes much more effectively. None of the others had read it – in fact, they don’t read much sci fi at all – so they couldn’t make the same comparison.

    Oh, and apparently one of the characters in Clocks (Marinus) also appeared in Cloud Atlas, which I’ve read, but I don’t remember them being there. So now I might have to re-read that, too (which is no hardship – it’s a good book). And some of the characters in Clocks whose storylines weren’t explained or clearly wrapped up might be appearing in his future books, too. If nothing else it’s a clever strategy to get people who buy one of your books to buy all the others, too!

    Just starting .How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran, and loving it so far!

    1. Lore*

      There are “guest appearances” from all of Mitchell’s other books apparently. Marinus is a bigger character in “Jacob de Zoet” and isn’t Luisa Del Rey in here or am I making that up? nd Hugo is from “Black Swan Green.” I haven’t read his first two but supposedly there are characters from there too.

    2. Ailsa AbuDhabi*

      Marinus is from The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, not Cloud Atlas. I was *almost* annoyed about that because Thousand Autumns was such a departure from all his other novels that I thought it would be an exception to the intertextuality/one-universe thing he has going.
      I wrote my undergrad thesis on Cloud Atlas so I’m always excited by other Mitchell readers! (About anti-capitalism, utopia fiction, politics of the body, lots of Foucault blah blah.) I guess I enjoyed Bone Clocks overall but it felt like the same themes and structures from Cloud Atlas used in a much less clever and subtle way, ya know. It was pretty heavy handed and literal, whereas I spent 10 000 words teasing out the metaphors in Cloud Atlas.

    3. Paige Turner*

      How to Build A Girl is on my list! I really need to catch up. I just started The Sellout which starts off with a pretty hilariously accurate description of Washington, DC, where I live :)

  19. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I have been waiting all week just because I need to keep reminding myself that I can’t fix my dad’s problems. They’re medical issues, and it’s not like they’re behavioral/prevention issues that are his fault, it’s just that I get depressed/frustrated/furious when I talk to certain caregivers and I want to cry, but even when I was there I couldn’t always affect immediate change. I have to be OK with that sometimes, and the fact that he’s alive and his recovery might take a while, and might not always be an upward trending line.

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Yeah, obviously my thoughts on this are not too coherent. Some days I feel like I’m barely holding it together. I meant I’ve been waiting for the Open Thread all week because I needed to vent.

      1. Rebecca*

        This is a tough thing to go through. It’s really difficult when a parent has serious medical issues, and yes, it’s hard to keep all those emotions in check. When my Dad had stage 3 colon cancer, and the subsequent surgery, chemo, and radiotherapy, I remember feeling so helpless and sad. For months he couldn’t eat much, he looked so sickly, lost weight, etc. And there’s not much we can do, other than offer encouragement and try to help them be as comfortable as possible. It doesn’t help matters when the treatment seems to be worse than the actual disease. I cried in the shower so my family wouldn’t see and put on the bravest face I could the rest of the time.

        Sending hugs your way and best wishes for recovery for your Dad. If you need to vent, we are here to listen.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Thanks Rebecca. I’m watching him stay gaunt and weak when I thought he would be recovering. His cancer is Stage I, but they’re only giving him 1200 calories a day, and it’s taking 20+ hours. I feel like I had to pester them for hours to speed it up and increase the calories, but sometimes I think they’d have made these changes whether I said anything or not, I’m just reacting emotionally. But there’s nothing wrong with that either, I guess. I just wish I could talk to the medical team at rehab as easily as I could talk to them at the hospital, but they seem overworked in comparison.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            1200 calories a day? That is a weight loss plan not a weight gain plan.

            1. De (Germany)*

              That very much depends. For example, for an elderly patient that can’t get up 18 calories per kilogram is enough to sustain weight.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              I don’t know. He was on IV fluids only for a few weeks, so I think they are giving him time to readjust to having food go through his intestines again. But I feel like I had to fight with them to up it to 1500 calories, but who knows, they might have done it on exactly the same schedule if I hadn’t said anything.

              1. matcha123*

                You need a lot fewer calories if you are not moving around. Sitting at a desk doing work for eight hours a day burns close to 500 calories. A 2000 calorie diet is based on the idea that the person is up and moving around throughout the day.

    2. nep*

      Sorry to hear you’re having such a rough time. Hope you’re finding ways to take care of you. Sending you good vibes and best wishes.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks, nep. I’m trying to live my life as normally as I can when I’m not rushing 5 hours each way back and forth to see him. I wish I could just stay there with him, but I’d have been out of leave already, and he’s supposed to have a big surgery (esophageal resection) at the end of June, so I might want to be there for a week or two after that, and then a couple of weeks when he gets sent home from rehab after surgery (I’m being optimistic here, because let’s face it, if he doesn’t make it home from long-term care, he won’t really need my help as much, and if it’s going to take a long time we might try to have him sent to a rehab closer to us.)

        1. StillHealing*

          Can you take some FMLA leave to be there for your dad for a month or so? That is a lot of driving and it sounds like you have a great need to simplify your life albeit temporarily.
          Getting him into a care facility much closer to you, as soon as possible sounds like a good plan. I’m so sorry you are going through this. Like nep wrote, take some time out for yourself. You are carrying a very heavy load it seems. It’s ok to set it down and rest.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      It’s so humbling that there seems to be so little that we can do for them. Watching the parents get sick is some of the hardest stuff I have faced in life. Be sure to cry when you need to, and realize that the tears are not one reason but dozens of reasons. It definitely can change a person’s worldview, it’s powerful stuff that shapes us for the rest of our lives.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        It’s so humbling that there seems to be so little that we can do for them.

        Just seeing these words helps, because I still need to keep reminding myself that I can’t always fix everything.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I am so sorry. I am a long way from my parents while my dad is being treated for a fairly advanced cancer, and it kills me to feel so incapable of doing anything. It is frustrating–it is very hard–and even if it will not magically get better tomorrow or next week or next month, try to take advantage of things that make you feel good as best you can. Try to avoid dwelling on it if it’s making you frustrated and depressed, and remember to talk to people. Get it out of your head as best you can.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Thanks…I wanted to say I was sorry to hear about your dad, but I didn’t want to hijack your recent threads about him. I have been worrying about him, and you, almost every time I visit AAM though.

        I’m trying to go about my life, but then I start to feel like I should DO something, and I have to talk myself down and remember that I can’t really do anything.

        1. Sunday*

          It can be hard to hear, but taking care of yourself will help your dad. It will keep you more resilient, and clearer headed.

          I do better with some kind of planning, so I’d be looking at rehab options near me – what are they like, what reputations do they have, how would the money work, etc etc. – and what would be the best way to manage his home if he’s near you in rehab.

          Physical exercise helps, too. The old rule of going for a walk until you start thinking about something else – that’s the cue that you can turn around/head home – works far better than I wanted to believe.

          Hugs to you, and FDCA, and anyone else negotiating this sort of thing.

    5. Clever Name*

      Wow. That sounds really hard. Do you have anyone (besides us :) ) you can talk to? When I’m going through tough times, it’s so helpful to have a friend or family member to talk to. Even a therapist helps. You don’t have to bear it alone.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’ve been talking to my wife, and my old friends with whom I’ve been crashing when I’ve been to see my dad. They have all been FSM-sent. And even work friends have been asking about him, and me, which is nice, as it hasn’t been too much yet.

  20. Can I brag about this?*

    My daughter and one of her best friends have had nearly identical GPAs for the past 4 years of high school. Sometimes she was in the top spot, sometimes he was. We just found out that it was a dead tie at the very end, so for the first time in the history of the school, they are having co-valedictorians! It really couldn’t have worked out any better. I’m so proud of them!! Just had to share…

    1. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      That is an incredible accomplishment! Intelligence plus perseverance are terrific qualities to share. Congratulations!

    2. Lore*

      That’s great! I shared a department award in college with my roommate and it was so much better than one of us beating the other for it. Our house was us two English majors and five premeds so we felt we’d represented he liberal arts well!

    3. Jean*

      mazel tov! I hope you and the other parents shepp naches (that’s Yiddish for glow with pride / bask in the good wishes of others). The “ch” in naches is pronounced the same way as the “ch” in chutzpah.

      Full disclosure: my Yiddish is based on family/informal learning, nothing scholarly so I could be missing nuances in my translation.

    4. StillHealing*

      Congratulations. Great decision on the schools part. Sharing it will make it more fun and memorable for everyone. They both have worked hard and obviously deserve it!

    5. salad fingers*

      You can brag about that because it’s awesome! Congrats to both, so cool that they get to enjoy the honor together!

    6. Can I brag about this?*

      Thanks all! Tomorrow night is commencement, will be enjoying every minute!
      Now if I could just get her to practice her speech…

  21. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    I went to today’s House of Cards casting call. The high school me would have been too shy to, but my twenty-something self felt a bit daring. Although I noticed the guy snapped 3x as many photos of me b/c the lighting was slightly awkward. Not sure what’ll happen. What should I expect re: such casting calls?

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      That’s so fun! I’ve done a few modeling calls, and while nothing major came of them, acting/modeling are such pervasive career ~dreams that it’s gratifying to know that you haven’t left that stone unturned.

    2. BuildMeUp*

      Fun! Was it an extras casting call? I’ve been an extra a handful of times. If not, disregard the wall of text below!

      You’ll be on their “list” for the rest of the season, so you could get called for the first day of shooting or the last. Or not at all, depending on how many people showed up and what type of people they need.

      If you get chosen, you probably won’t get a lot of notice before the shooting date – most likely less than a week. You might even get called/emailed asking if you can come in the next day. Don’t worry at all if you’re busy/working and have to say no! They’ll understand and will ask you again if they can.

      Once you’re booked/confirmed, you’ll get sent info about what they want you to bring for wardrobe. Sometimes they want really specific things, or varied looks. Get as close as you can to what they’re asking for, but don’t worry about it if you don’t have everything. Avoid really bright colors and patterns, as well as black, white, and red (they don’t show up well on camera). Again, don’t stress about wardrobe – 9 times out of 10, the wardrobe people will pick the first thing you show them, unless it’s totally wrong for the scene.

      You often don’t find out your call time (the time you’re expected to be on set) until the night before, because they often don’t decide the next morning’s call times until they wrap the day before.

      When you’re on set:
      – When you first get there, you’ll check in, be put in extras holding, and someone from wardrobe will come through to look at the clothes you’ve brought and pick what they want you to wear.
      – There will probably be a lot of downtime, so bring a book/phone charger/tablet.
      – The people working on the show know what they’re doing, and they’ll tell you what they need from you. Don’t worry about what you need to do next — someone will tell you if you should be changing your wardrobe or going to set!
      – Be professional and pay attention when you’re on set. Don’t ever have your phone out, take pictures of the set/actors, approach the director/actors/anyone other than your point of contact (whoever brought you to set and/or whoever is telling you where to go when you’re on set). If an actor starts talking to you, then it’s ok to talk to them, of course! But everyone is working and approaching them is a big no-no.
      – Social media – it’s fine to post about being an extra in general (unless you’re told otherwise), but don’t ever post specifics about the episode, plot, etc.!

      Basically just have fun, pay attention, and don’t worry! And let us know if you get picked!

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Thanks for the tips!!

        Yup, it’s a casting call. I’m a bit curious as to how to tell my current employer if I need time off on a moment’s notice if chosen, but I’ll get there if/when I get there <:)

    3. saro*

      Fun!!! You have my blessing to go around talking to imaginary cameras with a southern accent now.

  22. The Other Dawn*

    So is anyone watching Wayward Pines? I read the books and really enjoyed them. I was iffy on the TV series until this last episode. The dialogue seemed kind of corny. But Now I’m totally into it. I think it’s just a 10 episode event though.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      I saw the first two episodes and have the next one ready to watch, like it so far although Pam creeps me out.

    2. Come On Eileen*

      I’ve watched the first two episodes and have the third sitting in my DVR queue. So far I really like it! Another friend recommended I check out the book series so I also downloaded the first one to my Kindle.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes you definitely should read the books. I didn’t think I’d like them but it did. I ended up reading them because they were free through kindle and at the time I was dead broke.

    3. LAMM*

      I just finished the books and didn’t realise they were doing a miniseries on them. This just made my night!

  23. EvilQueenRegina*

    Looking forward to going to Edinburgh for a few days on Monday. At this point though I don’t know what day I’ll get home since there’s a train strike in the UK on the day I was going to be heading back. I have an extra night booked on standby in case it goes ahead (it was the better alternative than getting a bus at 6:30am and then a 10 and a half hour journey). Part of me actually wants the extra night since I feel more run down than I should due to a “Defence Against the Dark Arts job” situation at work and also a bit of space from *someone* and his mixed messages/disappearing acts can only be a good thing. (Yes, I know I should have shut the door on that one long since.) Ugh, think I’m just venting rather than starting anything productive so will shut up.

    1. Tau*

      Flying down to the new place to find a flat tomorrow, wish me luck! The rental market seems to be better than where I live now but properties still vanish pretty quickly.

      Frustratingly, the first property I’m looking at looks pretty much perfect for me *if* I was planning on staying somewhere long-term. But since I don’t know how long I’m going to be staying at this job (aiming for a minimum of one year but don’t know yet if I’ll want to stay on much longer after that), I’d really prefer a smaller place that’s at least part-furnished. *sighs* It’s sad because this place is almost exactly what I’d be looking for in the long run (it even has a balcony! I’ve wanted a balcony since I was ten!), but then I sit down and figure out how much furniture I’d have to buy and what a hassle that would be the next time I had to move and just… ugh. Wish there were more studios available!

    2. nutella*

      You should plan for unexpected weather. Or perhaps just keep in mind. I was there in late winter a few years ago for four days. The weather was different each day: grey, sunny, rain, and snow.

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’m going to Edinburgh the week after next for a concert. We miss just each other :(

      The weather has been ridiculous for almost June. Better have your umbrella handy!

    4. Tau*

      Now, for the actual response (sorry):

      I hope you have fun! I lived in Edinburgh for a few years and it’s a fantastic city, plus you’ll be travelling at a decent time of year but still avoiding the Festival crowds. Not sure if you’ve been up in Scotland before, if not be wary that it is pretty cold in the summer and often windy and rainy (although not nearly as bad as in fall, where you can frequently use an umbrella for flying practice).

      Also, if you complain about the trams or express astonishment that they are actually now up and running, people will think you’re a native in no time at all. :)

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Jelly! I still haven’t been to Edinburgh. Next time I have an extended visit I’m going back to Scotland. And back to Wales.
      I hope you have a nice, relaxing time and the trains are running okay. :)

  24. AvonLady Barksdale*

    My birthday is tomorrow and I’m having a terrible bout of homesickness. For the past 8 years or so, birthdays have been full of friends and togetherness and wonderful things, but we left NYC 9 months ago and I haven’t made a lot of friends here yet. It’s not the birthday itself that’s a big deal– I couldn’t care less, honestly, though I do enjoy the tiny extra bit of attention– it’s that my birthday is reminding me that I’m away from all of my friends and that I miss them all. A LOT.

    But, you know, I’m doing what I can. I had lunch today with an old college friend who lives nearby, and that was lovely. I made gazpacho with the pulp from the tomato water my boyfriend made earlier this week. I took my phone out to the hammock and watched Netflix. Tomorrow we’re going to a new mezcal bar that I’ve been dying to try.

    And just for kicks, if you want to know how old I will be: tomorrow is my Clerks birthday. Think about it. :)

    1. Alma*

      Happy birthday, AL B!! Do your friends/family have Face time or Skype so you could surprise them with a chat? And I’m glad you made plans to try something new. Have a great time, and may your New Year be full of blessing!

      1. LizH*

        Happy Birthday. Wishing you a wonderful year. I hope this time next year your post will be about how all the new friends you made in the next 12 months helped you celebrate.

    2. Anonyby*

      Happy birthday! I really feel you. Mine’s coming up this week, and birthdays the last few years have been a struggle for me.

      What I’ve been missing most from birthdays is someone baking me a cake. Fancy dinner, presents, big celebration, those I could care less about. I’m just being really nostalgic about having a home-baked birthday cake (mostly from my grandma, and those were box cakes with canned frosting and sprinkles, not ones that were a crazy stretch!).

      I’m trying to decide if I want to do a remake of the soap I made on my birthday last year, or maybe drive down to the beach boardwalk for a daycation…

    3. StillHealing*

      Happy Birthday! Hope you have a great day and have a chance to make a wish and blow out some candles (-:

    4. salad fingers*

      Happy Birthday fellow May baby!

      I hope it’s going as well as possible despite homesickness. I had a kind of shitty birthday a week ago today, and I had to keep reminding myself that sometimes birthdays aren’t awesome and we don’t need to compound the sad by being mad at ourselves for feeling sad on a celebratory day.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Thanks, everyone! It’s been an ok day. I do miss my friends, but I’m getting a ton of love via text, email and Facebook, including several “We miss you! Move back!” messages– getting a kick out of those. My bf took me to a new place for brunch then we went to the art museum, and we’re leaving soon for an evening of fried chicken and cocktails.

  25. Tiffany*

    So I graduated a few weeks ago (yay!) and was offered a job the same day (double yay!). This is all great; however, I’m finding this post-grad life a tad bit boring. I have gone from a full-time internship plus weekends being full of homework plus running a student organization plus working part-time to just working full-time Monday-Friday. My evenings are free and my weekends are free and I have no idea what to do with myself. I was out of town the first weekend after graduation and sick last weekend, so today is really the first time this horrible feeling of boredom is hitting me.

    Does anyone have any ideas on hobbies I could take up — preferably free/cheap, not on the computer, and that would get me out of my apartment but not necessarily outside because I live in Texas and our summers are ridiculous. There’s a million things I could do online, but I work at a tech startup and would like to have something to do that doesn’t have anything to do with technology. I joined a book club that a friend runs in Dallas but they only meet monthly and the books are pretty easy reads (I’ll be through it in a few hours probably). I’m close enough to Dallas, but don’t really want to go there every week, so that complicates things.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Could you volunteer? I volunteer one weekend afternoon at a charity book and music shop. There’s usually cake. Cake is good. sometimes I even make it myself. I have a friend who does Brownies (Girl Guides?) and another who befriends a child – takes her somewhere nice in town for a few hours and then takes her home.

      1. Tiffany*

        I volunteer quite a bit already…I’m on several local non-profit committee’s. Most of that happens during business hours. I guess maybe it is time to find some new just regular volunteer activities. I kind of want to do a Habitat build so I can learn how to use power tools (I want to build a bookshelf for my new apartment). I think my biggest problem is going to be that I get bored doing the same thing every week. There’s a great volunteer group on Meetup that does weekly group activities, but most of them are in Dallas and I just don’t want to make that drive all the time (it’s only about 30 miles…just horrible construction traffic..took me 2 hours once to get home!).

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      I remember that feeling: getting your first job with a “normal” schedule and having the rush of feeling like your life was on track…and then realizing that none of your friends are on the same schedule as you so your free time is going to waste.

      Check out local music venues or art openings. Art events have the added perk of allowing you to put on your fancy clothes that you wouldn’t otherwise have many opportunities to wear.

      Also, give yourself a little more time to get used to not being so busy. Trust me, as you get to your late 20s, you’ll find that your base level of internal energy goes down in a major way, and it’ll be enough just to make the drive home from work during the week. I love sitting on my porch at night with a book and a glass of wine, or working on my novel on my laptop. But if you think that you’ll really suffer for not being more active, see if you can find a weekend retail or serving job. Might as well make that extra money while you have the wherewithal.

      1. Tiffany*

        I’m actually in my late 20’s already–27! I’ve been so busy for so long that this is really a major shock to me. I read an entire book today…I haven’t done that in years. I can’t see doing that every weekend though.

      2. She used to squeeze the filet mignon from the middle of the tube.*

        I moved to Austin when I was 30yo. I know it’s not a “hobby” and also it’s not something I’d recommend long term, but I spent many weekends drinking and hanging out at the pool. Or sometimes I’d drive out to Hippy Hollow and hang there. I guess you could say it wasn’t “productive” but it was a good way to recharge and also to meet people. Because when you come down to it, you can tour museums, you can join writing groups, whatever, but it’s the friends you make and the people you hang out with who are going to make any activity fun or worthwhile or not.

    3. jamlady*

      So this was me about 3 months ago (now I’m insanely busy again and I love it). I was also in Texas and I thought about gardening but what’s the point when Mother Nature keeps trying to destroy the entire state? So I did the following things:

      – Read books from totally different genres than my norm
      – Started re-learning French and German
      – Started learning to knit (meh) and crochet (love it)
      – Got really, really into meal planning and food prep and cooking and all that and just trying every new thing under the sun I could think of
      – Fun weekend trips! With a bunch of free stuff! Whoo hoo!
      – Tried new excercise things (no thanks to crossfit – y’all are crazy)
      – Cleaned (deeeeep) cleaned my entire house a few times
      – Started up a book of my favorite quotes (still doing this one for sure – I love it)

      As you can see, all of these allow me to be my introverted self and I don’t have to stare at a computer screen (because boy the migraines are just no good). I tried a lot of random things and didn’t like a lot of them, but I LOVE cooking and now that I’m in California I’m finally getting my garden started. So you may not like everything, but it was fun to try!

      1. jamlady*

        Also, I did a lot of this at the park near my house. Got me out but I was busy so people wouldn’t talk to me lol

    4. Felicia*

      I got to a drop in choir once a week and go to a secular humanist group once a month. I also live in a big city with a lot of cultural festivals, and lots of theatre, so I do a lot of that. I think meetup is great for that…just think of something you might enjoy, and there’s probably a group for it! I also volunteer occasionally with Shakespeare in the Park, mostly taking donations, which is a evening or weekend t hing…i think most volunteering is evening or weekend, especially event based, so i’m sure you could find somethign like that.

      1. Felicia*

        Oh and I took Spanish for a while…most language classes around here are evenings/weekends. Also now all my friends are on 9-5 Monday-Friday schedules so it works.

    5. StillHealing*

      Birdwatching ? Look for guided nature talks,hikes,etc. Gets you out in nature and around people at the same time.

    6. catsAreCool*

      Toastmasters is relatively inexpensive (but not free), and it can be a fun way to express yourself while building skills that can be useful at work.

    7. Mz. Puppie*

      Look for co-ed social sporting and social groups. Groups that do things like play volleyball and soccer and disc golf. Try meetup.com for that.

  26. Biglaw Stormtrooper*

    I’m going to Hong Kong on business next month, and I’m going to tack on a couple of days at the end of my trip to sightsee. What would you recommend doing (keeping in mind that I’ll only have two, at most three days), and where would you recommend staying? Also,I’ll be on my own–I’m reasonably savvy big-city / travel-wise, but is there anything I should avoid?

    1. nutella*

      If you like seafood (particularly crab), I recommend finding Under Bridge Spicy Crab. I have never been to HK myself but I’ve read about this place and the main dish they make. It makes your mouth water just looking at pictures. Google it :)

    2. Gene*

      I can’t really offer many suggestions, I was last there in 78 and I’m sure the only thing still there is the funicular to the peak. But do that.

    3. Dan*

      I’ve been to Hong Kong a couple of times, and am planning on going back over NYE this year.

      During the time of year you are going, it’s going to be hot and humid as balls and in the middle of typhoon season. If you’re from the northern part of the US, I’d describe those conditions as “miserable.”

      That said, what’s your budget for accommodations? Hong Kong is *expensive*. Good places are in Kowloon (particularly the area known as “TST”), or Central Island. You want to stay somewhere on the MTR, which is quite good.

      One cool day trip is to a place called Lantau Island. You take a ferry there, and they allow no motorized vehicles on the island. Great views can be had from Victoria Peak, which is certainly worth a go. You can get great night views of the city.

      You can also take any number of harbor cruises at night, where the sky scrapers have some sort of synchronized light show.

      Hong Kong is home to the world’s cheapest 1-star Michelin restaurant, Tim Ho Wan. My and large though, high end Cantonese food really isn’t worth it, you can get plenty good stuff from a cheap hole-in-the-wall noodle shop.

    4. MsMapmaker*

      Tram to top of Victoria Peak. Eat dim sum and egg tarts. Ride the tram on Hong Kong Island. There are ferries to other islands, like Cheung Chau, or even Macau. The Central – Mid Level escalator and surrounding areas. Star Ferry between Hong Kong and Kowloon. Temples. Stanley (beach and market). Markets on the Kowloon side (night market, ladies market, flower market, goldfish market). Tea at the Peninsula.

      Suggest staying at a place near a metro station so you can get around easily. You can get an octopus card if you’re planning to use the subway or bus.

      I’ve always felt safe during the day by myself, but would avoid the seedy bar areas at night, like near Wan Chai. (This is on Hong Kong Island.) I’m not sure about areas to avoid on the Kowloon side or other islands.

      Don’t forget the sunscreen and an umbrella. It will be very hot and humid, with occasional rain showers.

  27. nutella*

    I had a conversation with someone about the terms for repayment of college loans (UK and US). I thought ours were pretty good until he said that in the UK, if your income is too low you don’t have to pay and for everyone, after 30 years, your loans are forgiven. O_O Not too mention their college tuition is less than ours even at Oxford and Cambridge where tuition is less than going to Yale or our other Ivy League schools.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      In Scotland if your income is under a certain amount and you are a domiciled* student, you can apply for funding. I currently make under the threshold, which is how I can afford to study. I think if I never make over it (it’s entirely possible I won’t, I’m an admin) I don’t have to pay it back.

      *After you’ve lived in Scotland for a certain time, I think 5 years, you are considered domiciled and can apply for the funding. The amount depends on your household earnings.

    2. BRR*

      First, with public loans I believe they do discharge after 25 years but they do count it as taxable income.

      Also with the highest ranked US universities (aka the richest) they have amazing financial aid packages. Harvard, Princeton, Yale basically only charge those who can truly afford it.

      1. CS*

        That’s not completely true. A relative of mine graduated from Harvard. The university only offered to pay half her tuition. Her parents aren’t poor but they don’t make a lot of money either.

        1. BRR*

          After some searching, currently the policy is “if your household income is less $65,000 you are not expected to contribute. Families with incomes between $65,000 and $150,000 will contribute from 0-10% of their income, and those with incomes above $150,000 will be asked to pay proportionately more than 10%, based on their individual circumstances.” And that it applies to every student, not based on merit.

          Now this entirely depends on when your relative when to school but that is their current policy.

          1. fposte*

            Stanford’s waived tuition entirely for households earning under $125k. I don’t know if that’ll end up becoming a fixed policy, but it’s sure an interesting move.

            1. BRR*

              It seems to me just another example of disparity in the country where the richest university can now provide very good financial aid packages.

              1. fposte*

                But I think that’s why–state universities don’t have the funds to provide that kind of additional aid.

                There are smaller versions, too–Oberlin offers free tuition to anybody from the local high schools (it’s a really poor county), no limit on recipients. I think that’s pretty cool.

      2. Anonsie*

        Interesting fact about Columbia, if you aren’t going there straight out of high school they put you into a different pool of students and you are no longer eligible for need based financial aid of any kind.

        1. Hazel's Teapots to Go*

          This sounded odd to me, so I checked their website and it says “Columbia meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all students admitted as first-years and transfers pursuing their first degree. And we continue to meet 100% of your demonstrated financial need for all four years of studyColumbia meets 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all students admitted as first-years and transfers pursuing their first degree. And we continue to meet 100% of your demonstrated financial need for all four years of study.” I don’t doubt that there are individual cases where the application of this policy may seem inconsistent or unfair, but I’m pretty sure it’s not the case that they deny need-based aid to students who take time off between HS and college, or who transfer to Columbia from another school unless they’ve already earned another degree. This would be a HUGE departure from the Ivy League’s need-blind admissions/ need-based aid principles, and would likely earn them a lot of flak and bad press. (It is true, though, that almost all US colleges still require your parents’ information even if you’ve taken 2-3 years off and supported yourself after HS … which kinda stinks if your parents aren’t willing to help you pay for college, but is a federal rule and not a college-specific one.)

          1. Anonsie*

            No, it’s absolutely true– I’ve known a lot of people who were GS students at Columbia, they were in what Columbia calls the school of general studies. They are technically students of a different school branch and not regular Columbia students. None of them had prior degrees, they just weren’t coming straight from high school and that puts them in a different admissions category entirely, they separate nontraditional students into GS.

              1. Anonsie*

                Well there you go, my information is dated! But geeze not very dated, those guys would have all just graduated a year or two ago. I wonder when they made the change.

                1. fposte*

                  Looks like it was 2008-9, maybe? It also sounds like it’s not part of an admissions package but a later thing, maybe as more of a retention approach.

                  But I also hadn’t heard about the whole CC/GS track thing, and that’s quite weird and fascinating.

                2. Anonsie*

                  It’s very weird. The students I knew who were GS were all just one year out of high school when they applied, so they were only just technically off the traditional track.

                  I’m guessing it must have started 2009-2010 since I remember them talking about having to cover the full tuition in the 2008-2009 year.

    3. Elkay*

      Yeah but it still sucks compared to less than 20 years ago when it was all free. Very grateful that I got mine paid off a few years ago.

    4. catsAreCool*

      So after 30 years, even if the person who took out the loan could easily repay it, the person doesn’t have to? That seems wrong.

  28. Trixie*

    Any particular sites to use for graphics when creating an avatar? If I’m looking for something other than personal picture.

    1. nutella*

      I don’t know of any. I usually just look for an image online or my own, save it on my computer and then upload. Sometimes though you will need photoshop to resize it, but that’s about it.

  29. WENUS*

    I am so close to asking for a divorce. I’m 99 on the verge of it. It’s been years of misery and I’m not sure how much more I can take it. It’s to the point that I often wish I were dead. I come from a culture where divorce is extremely frowned upon and I guess I just want to hear it from someone outside of my culture the thoughts on divorce.

    I don’t even know where to begin. We’ve come close, so I know how gut wrenching it feels, but right now I look back and think how much better off I was being apart. I flourished and good things happened once I got over that hump of misery. Things got better for a while until now, they’ve severely nosedived.

    I know everyone will ask, why don’t I try harder to make it work–it’s been 6 years, how much harder do I have to try? If I have to try SO HARD, maybe it’s just not worth it? I know everyone will say he treats me like this out of depression, lwo self esteem, being isolated etc. Well, I gave 100% over the years, and nothing helped.

    I feel like my feelings are no turning back and I’m just in a game of waiting for him to make teh first move.

    1. Amber Rose*

      It’s ok to leave.

      Those people who would frown on your divorce are not the ones who have to live your life.

      Assemble Team Me. Find some people who will support you no matter what. And then do what you need to do, so you can be happy.

      It’s 100% ok to value your own happiness.

      1. nutella*

        +1. Totally agree. Society isn’t going to make you happy if you continue to stay in the relationship. Do what makes you happy. You’ve already spent 6 years being miserable.

        I sincerely believe society is wrong a lot of times. All marriages aren’t going to last forever. Your marriage is meant to last as long as it is meant to last which may not be til death. Just like your job or career or even your car. Once you are getting no more out of it, you have to move on. If you are miserable with your job, you have to move on. If your car is old and falling apart, you could only repair it so many times before you just need to look for a new car.

        Imagine if your best friend was in your situation. Would you tell her to stay? Of course, not. Once you get divorced, don’t listen to what other people say about you. Go live your life.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The Team Me concept works for a lot of tight situations, such as death of a spouse or illness. It is really a terrific idea. The one thing to know is that we do not get to chose who stays on Team Me and who leaves. This means that we have to trust that the right people are around us at all times. Yes, I have actually done this blindly trusting thing, basically because it hurts too much without it.

      3. catsAreCool*

        “Those people who would frown on your divorce are not the ones who have to live your life.” This!

      4. catsAreCool*

        “Those people who would frown on your divorce are not the ones who have to live your life.” This!

    2. Jazzy Red*

      It takes two people to make a marriage work, but only one to wreck it completely. If your husband isn’t 100% committed to making your marriage better for both of you, anything you do on your own won’t work. You can’t “love” someone out of depression, low self esteem, etc. These are things he needs to work on with some professional help. If he can’t or won’t do that, things will never get better for either of you.

      You deserve to have a good life.

    3. AnnieNonymous*

      You have to put on your oxygen mask before you can put someone else’s on for them. I have every sympathy in the world for people who suffer from depression and other illnesses, but if it’s hurting you, it’s time for you to move on.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. You are his spouse not a trained professional. It’s not fair or reasonable for anyone to expect you to suddenly morph into a trained professional.

        Annnddd. You cannot help people that are not helping themselves. Matter of fact it is almost dangerous to do so. They can pull you down with them if you persist in offering unwanted help.

    4. DepressedYetHappy*

      I believe that a good marriage shouldn’t require a ton of work because as equal partners the two people should be looking out for one another. If one person isn’t doing that, then there’s no reason you should continue to be miserable. Life is too short to not find someone who brings you up instead of pulls you down, and it’s possible to do so even when suffering from depression. I know because I’ve been depressed/anxious all my life but my husband and I are very happy together. I treat him well and he helps me through the low times. You deserve the same! And like someone already said, society doesn’t have to live with him – you do. And if he make you more unhappy than happy then it’s time to move on. Good luck. I know it won’t be easy but it’s best for your own mental health.

      1. StillHealing*

        Yep..this is spot on. OP, if you are spending so much time working to make the marriage work – it’s not a marriage. It’s an unending Renovation Project. I married a terminal grump and was always working to improve things and make the marriage work only to have soon to be ex start an affair as soon as things started to become more balanced. I feel the last 20 of 23 years with this man have been a waste of my time and energy. It was only a partnership the first three to four years. If I ever have another relationship, it will be with someone who at least meets me half way. I’ve had enough of “bare minimum man” and having to do all the hard work.

        You rely do deserve better and he needs to get professional help to heal. He has to want to heal also. Find a therapist for your self to help you deal with guilt that other non-approving people may heap on you.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      It’s okay to leave.

      I was in your shoes, once. I married young. I was from a religion and family that really discouraged divorce, to the point that it didn’t even occur to me–until one night I was sitting on the floor sobbing, thinking that I did not want to wait 50 years until one of us died. I struck me that I could leave rather than live a miserable life.

      My parents were shocked, and they tried to talk me out of it. My sister and her husband really supported me, though, and so did many friends. It was a rough few months, but my family came around and support me wholeheartedly now. I moved to a tiny apartment and spent my evenings watching all the movies he never wanted to see, eating all the interesting food he never liked, and pretty much finding myself. It was glorious. I do not regret it.

    6. fposte*

      Go. If you’ve only been married 6 years, you have a lot of years of life left, and you don’t want to live them like this.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      If you already tried and it didn’t do any good, and you know you’d be happier if the marriage were over, then it’s probably time to end it. No one here is going to judge you for that.

      *hug* I’m sorry. I know this is rough. :(

    8. anon for this*

      My parents are ultra religious, and nobody in my immediate family has ever been divorced. I can’t say that my parents beat it into me that marriage is for life, but there certainly was never a discussion as to when divorce is, if ever, appropriate.

      I decided to get out of my marriage when I realized that I was going to end up with a self-inflicted early death or incarceration if I stayed in that marriage. Clearly, neither of those outcomes is ideal. Once I came to that realization, I decided that nothing anybody could say would make me try and stick it out. My happiness, and my life, were more important than anything anybody else could say.

      BTW, marriage just isn’t about you and how hard you try and make it work. Fact is, if the other person doesn’t want to play ball, there is nothing that you can legally do to make them.

      As far as the mental health of your spouse is concerned, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. He’s responsible for his own happiness, and if he won’t try, you’re not obligated to go down on that sinking ship.

      There’s no reason to wait for him to make the first move, you could be waiting a long time. Make the first move yourself, it’s not terribly expensive if you guys can agree on how to split the assets.

    9. Aussie Teacher*

      Have you openly told your husband that that’s how you feel? Does he explicitly know that you are on the verge of leaving? That would be where I would start – so many marriages break down through lack of communication.
      Is he open to going to counselling? Are you? I come from a perspective of “marriage is for life, divorce is absolutely the last option,” so I’m going to encourage you to do everything you can to save it – give it one last shot.
      Tell him explicitly that you are on the verge of divorce, and if he is interested in saving your marriage with you, the two of you urgently need professional help. Obviously if he says he doesn’t care or that he wants a divorce, you’ve done everything you can.
      I am hoping your revelation will shock him into realizing how bad things are, he will willingly get help with you and your marriage will turn around. Obviously there’s a chance it won’t, but it’s worth a try before the finality of divorce…

      1. WENUS*

        He’s threatened divorce a half dozen times throughout the years, to scare me into “fixing myself”. I have the same thinking, that do everything you can. I put 100% in my relationships and I hav ea hard time letting go of people. But I’ve done everything I can here.

        1. Aussie Teacher*

          Yeah that is so not cool. I hate divorce but it sounds like you’ve done everything you can and he’s not interested in meeting you halfway. And threatening divorce to get you to ‘shape up’ instead of acting like an adult and suggesting counselling – yeah that’s emotionally abusive and really really crappy. I would agree with others to start planning how to live alone/support yourself/leave him etc.

    10. WENUS*

      The thing thats making me hesitate and worried is work. After years of un/underemployment I landed a full time job (in fact that’s when the problems btwn us resurfaced, when I landed a job) but I’m still on my probation period and I don’t know if I will make it through. Having a job = I get to stay busy, get to stay out of the home, feel accomplished at what I’m doing, not have to deal with the home issues, etc. and hte money, while it’s still not enough for me to move out and live on my own, is still a little bit of indpeendence. I haven’t been able to save as much as I should because I was contributing towars the home, paying bills, and just not being good at saving my money.

      1. Soupspoon McGee*

        Use the energy you’re getting from your new job to prepare. While you wait out probation, sock away every last penny you can in a separate bank under just your own name. Get a credit card or line of credit at your new bank (credit union if you can) under just your own name. Sort through your stuff and decide what’s going with you. Make a plan for pets if you have them. Start scoping out places to live.

        Find out if you’re in a state or country with community property laws, and pay the money to protect your assets. I highly recommend consulting an attorney to understand your rights and obligations. So many people in this situation (including me) are so desperate to get out of a bad marriage that they give away their rights.

        Also, make sure you stay connected to people who care about you. A sympathetic ear and a strong back will help you get through this (from moving furniture to making a huge transition).

    11. Windchime*

      I can so totally relate. I was married for 16 years, most of that unhappily. I only knew one person in my family who had ever been divorced, so it wasn’t even something that occurred to me until one day I was driving to work and trying to determine where would be a good place to drive my car off the road and into the river, so my death would look like an accident.

      Something clicked in my brain and I realize that if I truly thought that being dead was a better alternative to staying married, then maybe it was the marriage that was the problem. Like you, I was done (and had been for a long, long time).

      I’m of the opinion that relationships should not be that much work. I already have a full time job; the last thing I want to do is go home and have to work my ass off at having to co-exist with someone. I just wanted peace and some happiness. So now I’m single and happy.

    12. Artemesia*

      I left my first husband after 3 years (after putting him through law school). It remains one of the ‘accomplishments’ in my life I am most proud of as it is in retrospect one of the smartest things I ever did — and I was raised to believe divorce a great failure and got nothing but grief from my parents whose first responses were: “why are you doing this to us?” and ” Well, he doesn’t beat you, do you think you will do better than this?”

      I have been married to my wonderful second husband for over 40 years and we raised two wonderful kids — and yes I did so much better.

      I believe my first husband who has been married about 40 years to his second wife has had a much happier life than he would have had with me as well. We were not a good match. There was nothing wrong with him just with us. And I am so glad I didn’t waste more time or worse yet, have kids with him which would have trapped me in that relationship for so much longer.

      1. fposte*

        I remember somebody–maybe Garson Kanin?–writing about the way Katharine Hepburn talked about Luddy, the husband with whom she had a short early marriage, as the way you’d talk about somebody you went through a bad car wreck with.

    13. Aussie Teacher*

      Can I just say how much I love our AAM commentariat? The comments on this post and also on yesterday’s post about the emotional affair are considerate, compassionate, reasoned and non-judgmental. I was totally expecting a pile-on yesterday and everyone responded with such empathy (along with hard truths) I was just blown away. Love you guys.

      1. emotional affair OP*

        totally agree – there was some really good input from my question and it was all done so kindly. I think people around here are really thoughtful and critical thinkers and that’s why we can have such great discourse.

    14. NacSacJack*

      I recently broke up with my partner of 10 years ironically just after we got gay marriage here in the state. It was a really hard choice to make, but one I ultimately made for myself. He had lost his job and was going to a high price school. I had wanted to do it for a couple years but didnt want to hurt him, I wanted to make sure he was in a safe place. What made me do it? A couple reasons. The realization that even if he had the time, he didnt want to do the same things I want to do: travel, go biking, go hiking, camping, adopt a kid or kids. We had no hobbies in common. We had no life goals in common. When he had his job all he wanted to do was go to work, do the work, get paid, come home and sit on his computer. The other reason? He was driving me under financially and emotionally. He didn’t even ask for rent money from his student loans. He expected me to cover him for three years and at the end of it, he’d have a new job and I’d be out $30000. And we still wouldn’t have the same plan for the future.

      Does anything ring through with you? Are you feeling the same or similar. Do yourself a favor and get out. We all make mistakes. Hindsight is 20-20. Foresight is not. You need to have similar or same goals in life. It is a very tough call to make. I do like the Team Me concept. You now need to take care of you, since he wont.

  30. Liza*

    I’ve been reading “How to Be a Victorian” (book recommendation here from a few weeks ago) and enjoying it a lot!

    1. Noah*

      Me too! I’m normally more of a fiction reader but this book is interesting because it looks at everyday people’s lives.

      I remember watching a tv show along these same lines. After googling, it appears it might be Victorian Farm or one of the offshoots.

  31. Amber Rose*

    I think I sprained my ankle. It’s not bruised or swollen and I can squeeze it without pain, but I can’t put any weight on it. I’ve been icing it but it’s still seriously painful.

    I guess a doctor’s visit is in order but I am limited to the walk in clinic and the doctor there freaks me out. Last time he was missing his thumbnail. It wasn’t bandaged or covered or anything. And he kept touching me with that hand.

    1. nutella*

      I would let your ankle rest in an epsom salt bath until you go to the doctor. I don’t know what that salt does but it does relieve the swell. Just fill a small tub with warm water and pour 1/2 cup of epsom salt in. let the salt dissolve. If it doesn’t, add warmer water and you can help it by stirring the water. Place your foot in the water for 30 minutes, make sure entire ankle is submerged in water. Do this every day until swelling goes away. You can get epsom salt at walmart or any drugstore.

      1. Amber Rose*

        I don’t see any swelling though. I’m not even sure if the source of the pain is my ankle, or my leg.

        1. TL -*

          If it’s not swelling, ice isn’t going to help and neither are Epson salts. If it hurts that bad without swelling, it’s concerning – I’d see a doctor.

    2. nep*

      Might sound strange but I’ve always gotten great pain relief with castor oil.
      Even if you decide to see a doctor, worth a try in the meantime — can’t hurt (unless you’re allergic to castor oil).

    3. JMW*

      One time I had a spontaneous stress fracture in my foot. There was no accident, it just hurt to put my weight on. The dr. sent me for xrays, and the tech treated me like a hypochondriac because there was no swelling. So I walked on it for two more seeks, in pain, went back to the doctor who sent me to a podiatrist who re-xrayed and found the fracture (which had a calcium deposit by this time). So two thoughts: it could be a fracture, and it could be hard to see in an xray. Also, the podiatrist found it by xraying BOTH feet and comparing them side-by-side.

      Good luck!

    4. Calacademic*

      How much range of motion do you have? Can you walk on it? Have you been taking swelling-reducing medicine (i.e. ibuprofin/Advil/Motrin)?

      Breaks and sprains are typically accompanied by swelling. Other problems (such as rupturing your Achille’s tendon) have little swelling but limit your range of motion.

      If you can’t walk on it 24 hours after the initial injury, it is time to see a professional, possibly the ER. Feel better!

  32. nep*

    Sorry you’re going through this. Any other walk-ins you could try?
    How did the injury happen?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I’m not sure how I hurt myself to be honest. Just started hurting one day.

      As for clinics, my selection is pretty limited on weekends.

      1. fposte*

        The more you talk about it, the less it sounds like a sprained ankle. Another possibility could be posterior shin splints, which hit low on the leg.

        I don’t know how walk-in vs. doctor works there, but at mine they couldn’t do much without a traumatic or sudden onset, so I’d probably just wait until Monday and call my primary care physician’s office.

        1. Alston*

          Or it could be plantar fascitus–I have it in one foot. There are stretches/massage techniques you can try that really help–you might look them up on youtube. If that is the case the results from stretching/massage can be quite quick and dramatic (not always, but for me a few minutes can be the difference between walking normally and not being able to put any weight on that foot in the morning.

        2. Amber Rose*

          I don’t have a primary care physician. I can’t find any who are taking new patients. :/

          Walk in clinics here are great for short term problems. Broken bones, torn muscles, bad flu or infection, etc. The only thing they won’t do is monitor your condition, so chronic problems need a regular physician.

          1. fposte*

            I don’t know the Canadian rules, so I can’t help with that. Can you make an appointment with a trainer? I imagine you’d have to pay, but it might be worth it, and they don’t have to be pricey.

            And poke around on the internet to see if the symptoms you have seem to align with any of the suggestions. Most of those would be treated conservatively anyway.

      2. FloatRPh*

        Is the pain in the ankle? I actually had something similar just a week ago – didn’t fall or trip or anything, but my ankle just starting hurting (felt like a sprained ankle). Like you it didn’t swell up, but I couldn’t put weight on it. I rested it for about 2 days – elevation, compression, ice as well, and it was fine by day 3. Really weird, but maybe see if RICE therapy helps?

  33. louise*


    We ordered our breathalyzer last weekend after a friend got a dwi. It came in this week and we’ve already told various friends about it. Many are really intrigued and want to try it out. Seems like maybe we’ve all wanted to be more informed and quit guessing but it was too taboo to figure it out.

    Haven’t talked to the friend who got the dwi. Hoping he checked into some lawyers this week.

    1. Treena Kravm*

      Is it easy to share between several people? (People who mind swapping spit with each other)

      1. louise*

        It takes disposable mouthpieces and we bought a packet of 50 so no swapping spit, because (aside from the fact that can alter results) EW.

    2. Mz. Puppie*

      I’m not sure how I feel about mine. One night I made my husband do it because I had been sober all evening and he seemed over the limit to me, but he still wanted to drive. According to the glovebox breathalyzer, he was under the legal limit. But I know his drunk-tells, and I didn’t believe the result, so I insisted on driving anyway. So I’m not sure exactly how accurate they are…

  34. Windchime*

    The weather is gorgeous today in the Pacific Northwest. I took my power washer over to my sister’s house and we power washed her patio, which was covered with algae and grime. I love that power-washer; it makes such a huge difference and is so fun to use! It’s my favorite power tool.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        They are great! I’ve had one for years and it’s amazing how dirty things get. Also, using the washer is much quicker than just about anything else I’ve seen, no need for chemicals, either. I have a couple of boot mats that I can put on the driveway and powerwash clean since they won’t go in the washer. Once you get one, it becomes almost a game of “can I power wash this?”

        1. Gene*

          I have a 2000 square foot concrete driveway. This is the only way it will ever get cleaned; it’s broom-finished and there’s no other way. And it’s time to give the house its annual wash.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      What kind did of washer did you get? I tried one and I was not that impressed. I understand that they cannot be too strong or they will take the siding off the house. But it seemed like I had to keep going over and over the spots.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        grrr. Should be: what kind of washer did you get? I can’t wait until my repairs are done around here so I can get some sleep….

        1. Windchime*

          It’s called “Clean Force” and it’s an 1800 PSI. It’s the kind that you plug in; it doesn’t take gas. It’s small enough that I can easily lift it into the back of my SUV. I can’t remember what I paid for it but it seems like it was between $100 and $150. It’s so useful here in this part of Washington because everything that sits still outside for more than 5 minutes gets covered in algae and moss.

      2. Soupspoon McGee*

        I bought an “As Seen on TV” on for $20, and I love it. My 100-year-old garage gleams. It is strong enough to take off chipping paint but leave the good stuff.

          1. Soupspoon McGee*

            Oh — and it’s just an attachment for a regular garden hose. It’s about 2 feet long. Lots of fun.

            1. Jazzy Red*

              I have one of those wands, and I was amazed how well it worked. I also started looking at everything I own to figure out if I could power wash it.

              It really is fun!

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Happy birthday!

      I hope you have a great day! :-) *birthday sprinkles*

    2. salad fingers*

      Happy Birthday, Job-Hunt Newbie! I’m also a May baby — mine was last Sunday. Hope you had a really nice day!

  35. Soupspoon McGee*

    I should be studying for finals, but I’m cleaning my closet. Soooo many clothes. I need a merciless friend who then drive me to a consignment shop and then Goodwill with all my giveaways.

    1. StillHealing*

      Does the cleaning bug hit you every finals week?

      I would get in a cleaning mode during finals week when I was in college too. I had to take myself out of my room and to a church nearby campus that stayed open 24/7 during finals week -just to stay focused.

      Once my finals were over, I’d do a deep clean of my room and prepare for the next semester.

      1. Soupspoon McGee*

        Yes! And whenever I have midterms . . .

        This is my second time through college (career change), and while I’m a much better student, I still get the cleaning/organizing/planting/baking bug whenever there’s something big to be done.

        1. StillHealing*

          Wow, I wonder how many other people get this bug and what it’s all about? I mean, completion is very important to me as well as follow-through. So why put off studying ? I know cleaning can be a distraction. It can also be a stress reliever. I know there is sort of an OCD/perfection issue from my childhood – which can be contributing to when the bug hits. Sure makes me wonder!

          1. DaBlonde*

            For me it is a procrastination technique.
            I am on a deadline, so I cannot do nothing, but cleaning is productive so it is allowed as a distraction from the studying or assignments.
            My house was never cleaner than during finals week.

  36. snuck*

    My son was diagnosed with Autism at the end of January… and I am looking to have to move him, his brother and myself to the city, leaving our farming husband… because we can only access the appropriate therapy for him with state funded places, which are set by postcode, and we have the wrong one.

    I can’t express how frustrating the last four months have been – after two years tromping slowly down the “There’s something different about my toddler”path to finally face road block after road block after road block to just get him basic services.

    What’s even more crazy about this is with the right intervention now there’s a strong likelihood he will cover his gaps (which are relatively minor compared to most, he’s borderline Autistic) and will get off the Disability Services books in about four years (according to the Paed) … but we can’t get into those services because we live in a rural area… even through I already drive him to the city for therapy every week (350km round trip).

    It’s been a really depressing journey, less about my son’s diagnosis and more around the realisation that people don’t care enough about their kids to drive them to the therapies, that every therapist who has seen my kid over the last few years has commented “you do your homework! It’s obvious!” and explain that other parents don’t, they just bring their kids every week expecting one hour a week to resolve the issue, that parents can’t fight their way through the mountains of red tape to access the therapies, and so on. That our society is geared towards helping these kids in lip service only, all while making it virtually impossible to access that help.

    And this is in Australia. The land of free health care. Which is free if you have a simple normal complaint or something that’s run of the mill to resolve. Fantastic free maternity care (including hospital stays, c-sections etc). Great access to GPs (if you live in the city, really sparse in country areas). Subsidised pharmaceuticals. But woe for you if you having something rare, or something complicated… then you pay exorbitant amounts for private access because the wait lists are ridiculously long (I fought to get my son assessed before he turned four, otherwise he would have swapped to a new wait list for school aged kids that was another 2yrs longer).

    1. nep*

      Wow — this all must be immensely frustrating and draining.
      And through it all it sounds like you’re being a true hero for your son.
      Best wishes to you all as you move forward.

      1. Neruda*

        I assume you’re already going down this route, but make sure you get the HCWA funding (although I suspect this is what you are travelling to access).

    2. Clever Name*

      My son has recently been diagnosed with ADHD. It’s tough having a kid who doesn’t react “normally” the way other kids do. I’m sorry that it’s so tough getting services for your son.

    3. StillHealing*

      That’s sad you have to relocate to get your son the help he needs. I hope you get good results and he thrives. He’s lucky to have you for a mother.

  37. Frustrated and Shocked*

    I just had a conversation with a friend of mine, and he started talking about how he was approached by anti-vaccine activists (aka the vaccines cause autism people) on facebook, and was starting to come around to their viewpoint. He talked about how they presented studies and evidence that made him reconsider his stance on the matter. The most shocking part? This guy has an MD! He’s no longer a practicing doctor and has changed careers, but still.

    So, I immediately disagreed and talked about how the main study had been debunked, but he mentioned more papers & studies, which he sent me by e-mail.

    I’ve managed to collect my own group of counterpoints and published papers, but I’m wondering how to approach the rebuttal. I think he may be open to having his mind changed back by me, but I feel like I came across pretty strongly in conversation today, and don’t want to be more abrasive or strain our friendship. Is there a way to present the evidence and at the same time take back the strong-ish and argumentative tone I took earlier? How would you have handled this situation?

    I’m usually very conflict-avoidant, but I feel very strongly when it comes to misinformation that could affect the health and safety of others.

    1. snuck*

      There is some persuasive information around there about vaccines… there’s several different main arguments…

      – Lots of different viruses at once means the child’s body gets overwhelmed and can’t cope (here in Australia kids can get about 8 different ones at a time)… but the reality is that the vast majority of children do cope, easily. The few that don’t are generally kids that have other health issues going on, possibly not identified ones. (This can mean down the track there’s a higher number of kids with complex health issues that have reacted negatively to immunisations, and so people assume the immunisation caused the health issue, but it could well be the other way around – the child was developing a complex health issue and the immunisation overloaded their system.)

      – The way the viruses are prepared means they might have suspect ingredients etc… in the past the viruses were prepared with a variety of substances to damage the virus to the point it wasn’t dangerous, but still recognisable to the human immune system so it could serve it’s purpose. As far as I know things like mercury are no longer used in the vaccine preparation so this argument is now null and void. It’s possible this isn’t the case in some areas of the world but here in Australia vaccines no longer contain mercury etc.

      – There is loads of data out there that shows that the cost of immunisation (deaths, hospitalisations, medical care etc) is FAR lower than the cost of the original disease. There is a social contract as part of living in society that we will look after each other – we obey road rules and we don’t hoarde to the point of rat infestation, and we get immunised… so that we can live communally together without significant health risk. The herd immunity gives those who can’t be immunised the chance to avoid catching some pretty awful diseases. A lot of parents are choosing to not immunise their child so it won’t have even the slight risk of a reaction… they are not following the social contract.

      It is NORMAL to have a mild reaction – it is normal to have high temps, a rash or bump at the injection site etc – this is a healthy normal immune response. This is not what we’re talking about when we are talking reactions… the public ignorance of the immune response and subsequent immunity is a major issue – we need to tell people this is actually what you want… your child to fight this illness off strongly – so that the immune system knows thoroughly what it looks like.

      Many children with developmental challenges come to the attention of child health services at around the age of the 18mth immunisation – it’s not because of the immunisation but because at this age there are milestones that are distinct, measurable and obvious… the lack of speech, connection and imagination becomes apparent then… because it’s the age other kids are doing it, not the kid with Autism. It’s poor timing that this occurs at the same time as that round of immunisations, but correlation cannot be assumed simply because of timing.

      There is a recommendation I read (I think it’s UK sourced) that suggests breaking immunisations down… children with no allergies, no developmental delays… go on the standard immunisation track. Children with some developmental delays or mild allergies go on a slower, single/few virus at a time track. Children with significant delays or allergies are immunised one by one on a slow and very extended track with close management. This makes sense to me. Children already with complex health issues (and Autism usually comes with gastro intestinal issues etc – some research shows the measles virus existing in the intestinal lining of Autistic children – ones with ‘leaky gut’ syndromes etc) are at greater risk, so do them slowly, carefully… but still do them. There is not recommendation to NOT do them.

      1. cLA*

        Don’t forget how much the pharmaceutical companies depend on people to continue taking medications and getting immunizations. They make a lot of money. Their research is skewed. There’s a lot the general public isn’t aware of but we just keep going to the doctor to get ourselves and our family members immunized because that’s what they say we should do. We don’t even know what is in the vaccine. We just believe it is to protect our health when it could be doing the opposite.

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Please note that there is irrefutable proof that vaccines save lives. Millions of people are alive and healthy today because of vaccination campaigns.

          Secondly, you can certainly learn what is in each vaccine by looking to CDC websites that detail exactly what is in each vaccine and why it is in there. There are no mysteries.

          Thirdly, vaccines do not make money for pharmaceutical companies. They make less than 2% of the money pharmaceutical companies make each year, because they are not moneymakers–they are given a few times over a lifetime, compared to pills that are taken daily.

          Please do not continue to shill anti-vaccination rhetoric here.

        2. Artemesia*

          My 6th grade teacher’s son died of polio; my brother’s 8 year old best friend ended up in an iron lung. My uncle died of diptheria at 18 mos; the 5 year old son of a neighbor in the 50s died of measles. My cousin’s first baby contracted meningitis of a form we can now vaccinate against as a baby; she died recently at age 45 never having learned to speak or to use a toilet; her parents essentially devoted their entire lives to her care. The sister of a neighbor of ours contracted rubella while pregnant when her first grader contracted it at school, the baby was born blind and with developmental issues. A neighbor was sterile from having mumps after puberty.

          The ignorance of people who never experienced what it was like when children routinely got measles, rubella, mumps, chickenpox and sometimes got polio, diptheria, and meningitis is profound. I got all the childhood diseases as a kid and grew up fine; lots of my peers were left with disabilities and a few died. Vaccinations have wiped out smallpox that used to routinely kill children and adults in the US and epidemics occurred every few years so that those who escaped the first time, might get it the next time. And until recently measles and polio were virtually wiped out here.

          Vaccines have saved more children’s lives than any other public health measure except for sewers and clean water.

          1. the gold digger*

            Vaccines have saved more children’s lives than any other public health measure except for sewers and clean water.

            Preach, Sister Artemesia. My great grandmother lost her first seven children to diphtheria in six days.

            1. Windchime*

              That is truly horrifying, TGD. What an awful, awful experience.

              I had a cousin who contracted polio. She was fortunate to have survived it and was able to walk (although her disability was obvious). She died in her 40’s from complications.

        3. Anonsie*

          when it could be doing the opposite

          It couldn’t be, because this is one of the most well-covered areas of outcomes research you could possibly imagine and almost none of it is paid for by pharmaceutical companies. They don’t make their money off vaccinations, they make it off big name drugs for which there is no competition– most immunizations are cheap as hell. There’s a reason you can take your kids to a free clinic to get their shots before school but people go bankrupt trying to cover the cost of antiretrovirals.

      2. TL -*

        There’s no benefit to doing a modified vaccine schedule that I’ve ever heard of – the current schedule was developed with the best health of children in mind. (Unless you’re watching for allergic reactions to the vaccine, perhaps. But allergies themselves – no.)

        The average child gets hit with way more challenges every day to their immune system than we could ever give with shots – and more and more studies are showing that this is imperative to the development of a healthy immune system anyway.

        Mercury isn’t used in American vaccines, either, with the exception of some flu vaccine forms, but it was never harmful in the form/amounts it was present in the vaccines. The vaccine formulation was changed to appease the public, not because of any health risk observed.

      3. Tau*

        As far as I remember, the “measles exists in the gut of autistic kids” study was, in fact, the discredited Wakefield study – discredited because Wakefield commited scientific fraud. Do you know of any reputable studies showing this?

      1. snuck*

        Yeah… google his studies for ones that refute his … that’s a good start. Google Scholar might help.

        Wading in with this vs that turns into an intellectual debate though – great if that’s how you’ll win him over… what’s his soft spot? Intellectual correctness, social conscience, financial/business benefit etc?

        1. Frustrated and Shocked*

          I do bioinformatics work in algorithm development, and as I mentioned, he has a medical degree though he is currently doing engineering – we met at a tech meetups in our city. We both value scientific rigor, so I think with enough evidence I can sway him back.

          I just worried that I reacted too strongly, I kinda barreled over him a bit during our discussion and was a little long winded. He was kind of unusually quiet afterwards before just suggesting that I look over his studies before reaching conclusions, which I agreed to do. He definitely has the stronger biology background of the two of us, so I wonder if he was also offended.

          Being specific if I can in refuting the studies is a good idea, I’ll do that. Right now I just have a large list of 100+ nih studies compiled, so narrowing that down will help soften the tone of the argument.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Just a suggestion: Sometimes people don’t react to the information itself, but rather they feel our passion, our intensity and that leaves them baffled and uncertain what to do/say next.
            My suggestion is whatever info you gather- just make it into a packet and hand the packet to him. And this coincides with what science strives for facts over emotions. Let the paperwork do your speaking for you.

    2. Observer*

      BRR asked a good question. I’ve never seen a study that supports the notion of vaccinations being the cause of autism. However, there are people who claim there are, but when you look at it you realize that it’s nonsense.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      The tough thing is, humans just aren’t great at dealing in facts. We’re really, really bad at assimilating information that challenges something we’ve come to believe, or more accurately, something we’ve come to associate ourselves with. I think it’s great that you’re pulling together resources that support your point of view, but I actually think that’s not likely to be useful when you talk with your friend, and might exacerbate the tension you’re describing if you continue to go down that route.

      A course of action you might consider, which is going to sound a little crazy and impossible but bear with me, is to go back to your friend and find out why he changed his mind. You might start with something like, “You know, I really disagree with your point of view on this, and I reacted strongly to that, but now that I’ve had a chance to step away, I’m actually really interested in how you formed your perspective. To be honest, I’m probably not going to change my mind, but since yours is an opinion really different to mine, I’d be curious to learn more about it.” And then listen. Don’t actually refute his sources or stats, but do ask critical questions (“what did you think of that source?” “what made that perspective stick out to you?”). Hopefully you’ll eventually get to the questions of “what made you change your mind,” though it easily puts people on the defensive to start there, so the more you can show up front that you’re actually listening rather than just waiting for the next opportunity to tell him you think he’s wrong, the more interesting information you’re likely to get.

      Where you’ll eventually land, in my experience, is getting to the root of why your friend believes what he does. I can’t even hypothesize what this is, but you want to get him to give an account of why changing his mind (particularly on something that’s quite controversial and probably reviled in his social circle) let him be more like the person he wants to be. All any of us are doing, after all, is creating a self and trying to get others to see us as we want to be.

      This maybe sounds like psychobabble. But in my experience (I work at a somewhat controversial organization where a small but vocal contingent of our constituents really, really don’t like us) this is the only way you get anywhere. You find out what it is the person is trying to say about themselves in their opinion, and start from there. You can get to the next step of convincing them to change their minds if you can connect the opinion you hope they have to something they equally value, by finding common ground, but honestly, probably not by facts (unless they deeply value being right or being in line with expert opinion).

      I’m curious to hear what happens! Good luck.

      1. Neruda*

        I suggest- Peer review or it didn’t happen.

        This generally forfeits anti vaccine studies!

        1. Jillociraptor*

          Ah, but only if your interlocutor cares about that kind of stuff! Where that leads for many other people is distrust of the knowledge gatekeepers and further digging into an anti-science mindset, not “Whoops, guess I was wrong!”

          1. fposte*

            Yes, actually convincing somebody is more complicated than a debate “win.” And even if your interlocutor does care about that stuff, that’s not necessarily going to effect an immediate change of mind. The psychology of belief, for all of us, is kind of weird–once we’re reading a thing as true it’s a cognitive challenge to move it out of that category.

            Which tangentially reminds me of this great piece that I’ll put a link to separately–it’s a historian’s look at food culture and food history called “A Plea for Culinary Modernism,” and it’s basically debunking the implied history behind a lot of contemporary food impulses.

      2. Frustrated and Shocked*

        Well, the good news is that he does care about stats and facts. We both have technical backgrounds, him an MD and me a PhD. I think it also helps that he’s a recent convert, he kind of excitedly brought this up to me when we were chatting about online health resources, so when I disagreed, our plan then involved exchanging studies to see if there is merit to our views.

        My worry is less to do with ‘winning’ this argument, I feel fairly confident he will compare our sources and change his mind to agree with me because he’s a pretty logical guy who values facts. I think he just hasn’t paid close attention to the studies he was sent, and got swayed by activists. But I do feel like I handled reacting to it quite badly. I got loud and barreled over him in disagreement when I’m normally the shy and quiet one. Obviously I regret not keeping my cool, but it’s hard for me to formulate an apology while continuing to argue (more politely, more calmly) my side.

        I have so few non work friends, it’d be a bummer if we drifted apart because of this. I hate the idea that he may think I’m the kind of person who can’t take differing views calmly, when it’s really just a handful of topics that set me off.

        1. TL -*

          It’s fine to apologize for coming off strongly! Just say that you had a stronger reaction than you intended, it’s something you feel passionately about, but you totally understand if he’d rather not discuss it again. You can say you don’t agree with his stance but you also apologize if you were overbearing and you’ll be careful to moderate yourself more closely in the future.

          It makes me furious when people don’t vaccinate (or smoke) and I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut unless asked, because I always come off too strongly. I just can’t moderate myself on about three different subjects and so I don’t join in, even though in most controversial subjects, I’m perfectly capable of holding discussions without offending anyone.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think that you nailed the actual problem. It’s not the topic itself, it’s your passion about the topic.
          I love email for stuff like this- I can read the article (link or pdf) at my leisure, digest it, read a little more and so on.

        3. land of oaks*

          It really just takes practice to be calm and discuss a fraught topic constructively with someone who disagrees.

          I did that for my job for many years, and it was just hard, and I wasn’t very good at it at first. I had to really work hard every time I had a conversation and get lots of practice. I think the most important things were reminding myself to breathe, and really stopping to listen. You can’t knock down every point the other person says in every single conversation, because then you’re not really listening to each other and it gets too stressful. It’s better if you pick one or two things they say and go more in depth into those in one conversation. And just accept that it will take longer than one conversation to really move the agreement/disagreement forward. You have to get used to the idea that if they don’t agree at the end of this one exchange, that’s okay. You are keeping the relationship and communication open so that you can continue to have this conversation and maybe move them a little more next time.

          And I’ll emphasize listening again. I know it’s hard when you feel like they are just wrong, but it’s more about picking up the thought process of what they are saying and trying to take it in a different direction. If you are really listening to them, then you are tailoring your next response to something they just said, not a list of thoughts you already had in your head, which means you have just been waiting for your turn to talk, not really listening.

          But most of all, be easy on yourself. It is just a hard skill to learn, and you can always get better at it. Just keep practicing and try to do better next time. It might also help to actually acknowledge that out loud to him. “I’m sorry I feel like I kind of went off last time we talked. I get really emotional about this. But I really do respect you and I want to continue to work on having a productive conversation about this. Please forgive me if I get too loud, I’m working on being calmer. Can we try this again?” And know when it’s time to stop and take a break from the conversation and come back later, too.

          Okay, that’s kind of rambly sorry.

      3. She used to squeeze the filet mignon from the middle of the tube.*

        This. Ie, go back to friend, ask them to show you the evidence that convinced them. Don’t be a jerk and fight them on every step – just try to figure out what their basis of thinking is. Listen to them. Once you know that, you can decide whether this is indeed an argument you want to pursue, and if so, you’ll have a better idea of the weak points.

    4. Anonsie*

      Kudos to you because I can’t even go over this with people anymore, I get too worked up about it. You know, you work in academic medicine, you deal with a lot of crap. You’re always working off philanthropic money from private foundations or government grants or whatever and money’s tight, you don’t make a lot, you have very few resources at work and you’re always stretched thin. You’re always trying to get new funding and you almost never do, you work crazy hours because you can cover a budget gap with pure human labor in most cases. It’s stressful and you’re not well compensated and you’re constantly worked over.

      And yeah, no one appreciates it, but you don’t expect them to. You put up with all the pitfalls and uncertainty about your job and the barely-getting-by pay because you want your patients to be safe. Because it’s really important to us to be able to prove that the new recommendations for pain management are as safe as the old ones, or to establish a new use for a drug that can help people who didn’t have any good options before. Those things are extremely important to us and that’s why we work in this field. So it’s hard to have a reasonable debate with someone whose argument stands on the cornerstone of you being a big pharma shill who skews their numbers to line their own pockets at the expense of everyone else.

      1. Observer*

        So it’s hard to have a reasonable debate with someone whose argument stands on the cornerstone of you being a big pharma shill who skews their numbers to line their own pockets at the expense of everyone else.

        Thanks for putting it so well. I’ve always especially wondered about the folks who swear by their own doctor who vaccinates his/her own kids but essentially use this argument.

        It’s an especially stupid argument, because the sheer number of people, organizations and governments makes the idea of a coherent conspiracy about as likely as a fairly tale. We’re talking at least a dozen large pharmaceutical companies, as many governments with multiple agencies per government, dozens of research institutions, dozens of medical associations and every insurance company in the countries that use private insurance carriers. (Keep in mind that insurance carriers have every reason to expose fraudulent treatments – these things cost them money.)

        On the other hand, I’ve met doctors whose word on something like this I really would not trust. Some doctors are really not good at following medical studies, some are too “faith based” (eg if it got published here or “the government says” it must be true), and some just don’t care enough to really look. For a lot of people these doctors are the face of medicine and medical science. It’s not surprising that they become skeptical of the integrity of the system.

        1. Anonsie*

          We vaccinate ourselves for crap’s sake, you’d think that would be a hint.

          No one really teaches anyone (doctors included) how to interpret research and it does create problems. That’s part of why they’re putting so much more research focus into medical training now, actually, because it’s pretty problematic.

          1. Observer*

            We vaccinate ourselves for crap’s sake, you’d think that would be a hint.

            Well, most doctors have finished their vaccinations before they have been let into the BIG CONSPIRACY. Don’t you know?

            (That was sarcasm, in case anyone didn’t realize. Unfortunately, some people really think this way, though.)

            That’s part of why they’re putting so much more research focus into medical training now, actually, because it’s pretty problematic.

            I see it happening in other fields, as well. It think it’s a great thing.

            1. Anonsie*

              A lot of hospitals are requiring ongoing vaccinations, that’s what I was thinking of. We get flu shots and pertussis boosters and tetanus boosters and all that. Hell, I get at least one every freakin’ year.

              1. Observer*

                Most of the people who carry on like this have no clue that this happens, or think that the people who make those rules exempt themselves.

                The worst is that people like this are not likely to be convince anyway. As I said, there are plenty of people who do know that the doctor making the recommendation have their children immunized, but still accuse all doctors of being in the pay of “big pharma”. I always wonder how they trust a doctor that would put their kids at risk just for the “payoff”. In some ways it’s even worse – we know that people will take risks to make a buck, but to poison your kids?!

                When it gets to that point, it’s just utterly irrational.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        The conspiracy theories drive me crazy. A close family friend is currently in hospice care for the final stages of a very aggressive cancer, and yet I can’t seem to read any MSM article about cancer research (my field) without hearing how cancer researchers are concealing a secret cure for the sake of our f*&$ing job security. Do people think about what they’re actually accusing us of when they say that kind of thing? Mass murder, for the sake of keeping my job? AARRGGHH.

        I know another family who had to take their daughter out of school because of the falling vaccination rate. Their daughter has had years of treatment for leukaemia, and is now in remission thanks to a bone marrow transplant from her brother. Her system’s so weak from all the treatments that she can’t be vaccinated, and there’s no community immunity any more because other parents won’t have their healthy kids vaccinated.

        The best argument I’ve found to counter the anti-vax arguments is that if there really was a genuine link between vaccines and health problems*, then the link would be the same in every country. And yet every country has its own anti-vaccine conspiracy theory – in some countries it’s the mercury, in others it’s the combinations of vaccines (e.g. MMR in the UK – people thought the individual vaccines were fine but the combo wasn’t), in others it’s the age at vaccination. In some countries the vaccines cause autism, in others it’s MS, in others it’s other disorders. If there really was a genuine link, given that human bodies work in the same way wherever you are, then the evidence would point to the same link in every country.

        *I’m aware that there are a teeny, tiny number of people who do genuinely have bad acute reactions to vaccines, but it’s something like 1 in 10 million

        1. Anonsie*

          I know! I know! We repurposed an old, very safe drug in my group and it’s now standard of care. Reduced the need for surgery by over 75%, minimal side effects, and extremely effective. It was a huge deal! Huge! And you would not even believe how often I talk to families of people in treatment who have no idea we were the ones who got this going or that I was involved, and they hiss at me about how there must be a better way and someone just hasn’t made it available, and how it’s so ridiculous. Either it’s a conspiracy or it’s because we’re incompetent idiots, one or the other. Right to my face, pretty much every week.

          Like oh no, you figured us out! We got a drug that entirely cures most people very quickly with almost no side effects and it’s been around for decades so we know it’s safe long term AND it’s an extremely cheap generic so everyone can afford it, but we actually have a better one in our pocket somewhere that we’re not giving you because somehow this is more profitable for us. You found out evil scheme, congratulations. Or maybe we’re just too gosh darn stupid to figure out a better treatment than fast safe cheap tolerable, ok.

        2. Observer*

          We had this particular discussion (about cancer cures) just recently here. In a discussion about donations to charities, someone stated that she doesn’t give to cancer research organizations because “the problem is obviously not lack of funding.” Her argument was that SOOO much money goes into cancer research that clearly the reason why “the cure” has not been found is because of incompetence or because some people want to keep themselves in a job.

          It makes me nuts.

    1. Steve G*

      Best: I’m down to 194lbs, a 14 pound weight loss since I started insanity fitness in Sept + a low processed-wheat diet in March (and the latter is the one that really bolstered the loss).

      Worst: I think I shall go insane soon living this pseudo/interim life of being unemployed, only doing things that don’t require much money, etc…..it is so draining and boring. If I knew how emotionally draining this was going to be, I’d a’ taken the (lousy) offer to stay at past co and kept job hunting on the side

      1. Steve G*

        I meant since I started severely limiting food containing processed wheat, using rice pasta and switching to corn based cereals. I’d highly recommend because it really started the weight loss

    2. jamlady*

      Best: I got an oil change and my military husband actually got a few days off after working for 2.5 months straight and was given a pass to come stay with me.

      Worst: I need a smog check and new tires! Ah well. Still not that bad haha

      1. De Minimis*

        Best–will be reunited with my wife in just over a week.

        Worst–having car issues, or at least, being told I have car issues, and I feel like I need to do at least some of what they recommend since I’m about to drive cross country in a nearly 20-year old car. That would be one thing, but I’m about to make my third trip to the car place next week because they didnt have a part today. I will be spending my last day here not with family but at a car dealership waiting room [and yeah, I hate dealerships and normally don’t go to them for car repair, but I only have wekeends free and they are the only ones open on weekends here.]

    3. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: I feel a job offer coming from my interview last week. They’ve called all my references and have told each one that I’m their top candidate, and on Friday they called to ask me if offered the position when could I start. It is a university department, so I think they’re just awaiting approval from the equal opportunity office and HR before making the offer.

      Worst: my MIL found out that the grandchildren who were financially abusing her parents have made it very difficult to get her mother on medicaid for her needed Alzheimer’s treatment. The state goes back give years, and if it looks like people tried to give their money away to family before trying to get on medicaid, the claim can be denied.

    4. Persephone Mulberry*

      Best: I finished one major (20+ hours over the past month) and one minor (3 hours over two days) crafting project – I think you can see them here: http://bit.ly/1RAh21x

      Worst: I’ve spent more time at work this week being the emergency IT Gal than doing the work they’re supposed to pay me for. I think/hope my new manager is going to bat for me to keep this stuff off my plate…we shall see.

      1. salad fingers*

        So pretty! Haven’t heard of quilting paper before – the result is so nice.

    5. Trixie*

      Best: Writing project continuing to get great reviews/feedback which means additional income. Also, successful balance transfer which should save me over $1,000 on interest.
      Worst: Too much procrastinating.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        Can you tell how many random strangers on the internet care about you, just from what we’ve seen of you here?

    6. Coach Devie*

      BEST: reached an important milestone with a new business venture and am so excited about it.

      WORST: s/o and I are not seeing eye-to-eye on some important things and it’s making me have to reevaluate our relationship. We haven’t talked in 2 days because of a disagreement but he will be back in town tomorrow and we have to face this head on.

    7. Anonsie*

      Best: It’s finally warm and sunny here and I’m so happy it’s not cold and crappy out anymore!

      Worst: My dad is disabled but there’s some issue and he’s losing nearly all his benefits all of a sudden. I don’t really know why and he doesn’t understand well enough to explain it to me so figuring it out and trying to fix it is going to be a beast. I send him a little bit of money but it’s not enough for him to live on and I can’t afford to do any more than that, so he really needs this.

    8. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: being paid, eating cake and finishing my OU module!

      Worst: work, nippy neighbours.

    9. The IT Manager*

      Best: After 2 months I think I’ve finished all administrative task associated with my move (car inspection passed after my too dark tint was replace), and I think I’ve made the last new house purchase (shelf for a closet that was missing the shelf (how???)).

      Worst: Weather remains terrible, ground is water logged, and even though I don’t leave the house much still no pictures on walls.

      In short in two months since I moved I’ve done a lot in the house and spent a lot of money, but it still isn’t finished. And this is only meant to be a year ling stay!

    10. She used to squeeze the filet mignon from the middle of the tube.*

      Best: #1 Son came home from college with a strong GPA, and immediately scored a job at a local electronics/big box store – it’s his first “real” job and I’m very happy he’s getting some experience with retail – if for no other reason than it might motivate him to do better in calculus[1]. #1 Daughter is off for the summer, too, but she has some deal worked where she’s living on campus and working at a lab. So the weekends are good; even our dog gets noticeably happier when his “pack” is all back together.

      Worst: my new job is suffering from some fairly serious organizational growing pains: it’s not clear who is supposed to be doing what, and I’m getting extremely frustrated in that I have a serious need to hire a number of people, but I find myself getting blocked whenever I attempt to move forward.

    11. Emily*

      Best: Today is my birthday! Yesterday evening I went to a delicious sushi restaurant with my boyfriend, and today I’m hoping to do a few fun things and probably make a no-bake chocolate kahlua pie.

      Worst: My first year of grad school is over, but comprehensive exams are in two weeks. Last week I was at school from 10-5 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday studying, and the people I’m studying with don’t seem to understand the concept of taking breaks.

    12. Windchime*

      Best: The weather has been great. Also, right now my cat is pretending to be afraid of my laptop charger and it’s cracking me up. He’ll run past it and then LEAP into the air and run away, then come back and do it again.

      Worst: The creepy guy at work is still creepy.

    13. Not So NewReader*

      Best and Worst. Still doing repairs to my house. Fortunately, the foundation is fixed now and I no longer am worried about the safety of people in the crawl space under the house. This week: kitchen floor. The prep always takes longer than the actual job. It would help if stupid things stopped happening, like the kitchen door hinges came right off of the wall. Okay, gotta get that fixed, too. Next find a place to put everything. My pile to donate is growing and so is the pile to go to the dump. Putting it back together will be much easier than it was taking it apart. It’s all good, but, man, it is almost a non-stop thing.

    14. danr*

      Best: It’s warm enough to grill regularly. I use charcoal so the temperture makes a difference.
      Worst: Seeing if the thunderstorms will force the cooking inside.

    15. Mimmy*

      Best: Finally got our very-badly-sagging soffeting (sp?) fixed this week. Also finally got a new light in our laundry room – no more annoying pull chain!

      Worst: Not a worst, but could’ve been – there was a BIRDS NEST under that soffeting!!

    16. Rene UK*

      Best(but most nerve-racking)- Starting my (first job in….a long time) new job tomorrow!

      Worst- Got a parking ticket because the bank took so long.

  38. Steve G*

    For the introverts out there, the level of everyday contact with neighbors in my new apartment is starting to drive me nuts. I like to come in and out a lot and go to the store for more frequent small shopping, or just go into the front to water the plants….I’m in NYC so we’re all in top of eachother….in my new building + the neighboring houses, everyone is ALWAYS outside. You can’t go outside without having to say hi and make small talk for 2-3 minutes, which really adds up. I am starting to dread going to the garbage because I sometimes just want to throw the bag in + run back in, and once when I was cooking my older neighbor kept me “hostage” at the can. I hate to be an anti-social a-hole, but I saw the same neighbor like 10 times today, and we have a huge age difference and nothing in common, and I am tired of keep having to say hi! Not to mention that they made me feel like white trash with my bag from the liquor store, I wanted to say “who are you to judge me?!”

    Now they are planning a block party this summer. My social anxiety streak is coming out. Those parties were great in my hometown, but on our street, we got at least 5 native languages that I know of (Polish, Russian, Hungarian, Spanish, and English) and more that I don’t recognize (I think one family is Albanian), and many speak poor English, I just don’t see how we are all going to mix.

    This forced small-community atmosphere is kind of defeating one of the purposes of moving to NYC for me, which was to have freedom to do what I want without feeling like I’m under a microscope.

    1. JMW*

      Well, you are probably not going to change your neighbors, so you might try to develop some coping mechanisms. You might develop some quick phrases for shortening conversations: “Good to see you. Gotta go.” You could wear headphones. You could go out less. You could find a way to make hellos more enjoyable for you. You certainly don’t need to attend a block party if you don’t want to.

      It sounds like they want to know you, and they want to live in a neighborhood where people know each other (it does provide a degree of safety as well as being a comfort for people who are less introverted).

      I am curious why you think they are judging you.

    2. TootsNYC*

      You do not either have to stop and talk for 2 minutes. Say “hi” and [i]keep walking[/i].
      If you need to, then say, “gotta go,” and [i]keep walking[/i].
      They’ll get used to the idea that you’re the neighbor who keeps going. You have to be consistent and give them time to get used to it.

      And if you don’t hang around, you won’t notice them looking funny at your liquor-store bag.

      Keep walking. Smile, lift a hand, keep walking.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        You could make yourself well-known as the neighbor who is always in a hurry.

    3. jamlady*

      I always carry a lot of stuff and look really busy and stressed. People tend to leave me alone and the super talky ones quickly give a “hi!” while I’m running past them. Works for me lol

    4. Alma*

      The good news is that a friendly neighborhood looks out for each other.

      I am off the charts introvert, so the ideas of quick greetings that suit your comfort level sound good to me.

      In your situation, I think I would find an opportunity to say to two or three people you see regularly that (this is true for me – I may be wrong in assuming you live alone, but you can adjust the comment) “I’m/my SO and I are not used to such an active neighborhood” or “I come home and get lost in my projects… I hope you understand that.”

      I’d also bring a few bags of ice, or bottles of soda, or boxes of popsickles to the street party – and greet a few people briefly – and be sure to say something like “I’m really enjoying the neighborhood – I’m not antisocial, just really introverted!” Then leave.

      In the past I have also given a big tub of bubblegum from the membership store to a neighbor for Halloween, and say I’m not going to be in, but want the kids to know that I haven’t forgotten them. Then I go out and have a nice dinner, and maybe see a movie. I’ve done that for 20+ years.

      Best wishes as you settle in!

      1. steve g*

        If they actually made everyone stick to their native cuisine I’d be very happy! Hungarian food is awesome but unfortunately not well known, I guess because they’re so small….

    5. Rebecca*

      I live in a rural area, and I run into this issue with several of the people in my neighborhood. They see me, and I’m clearly on a mission to exercise – reflective vest, bright clothing, ear buds, visor, and I’m walking fast, but they still yell out greetings and want me to stand there and oo and ah over their little yappy dog. I dread walking past their house! So, I’ve started to walk on the opposite side of the road as their house, ear buds in, looking straight ahead and walking as fast as humanly possible. If they’re still out when I come back home, I might stop for a minute or two, but then check the time on my phone and say “OMG look at the time, I still have to do a load of laundry” and make my escape.

      In general though, I think sometimes people are just lonely, and their way of fending off the loneliness is exactly what you’re describing – holding you up at the garbage can, saying Hi, and starting a conversation, that type of thing.

      About the block party, as much as it would make me crazy to go and spend an entire day doing something like that, I’d probably go for an hour or so, in the middle of it, and if anyone says anything, just say, I have a free hour now, but another commitment later, so I can’t stay. They don’t need to know the commitment is your butt on the sofa watching Netflix (or whatever). Take something to share if you could, and just limit the time.

    6. She used to squeeze the filet mignon from the middle of the tube.*

      Intentionally or not, some people do this thing where they make it very, very difficult to disengage from the conversation. It can be difficult at first, but you just gotta blast through your predefined notions of politeness and don’t even wait for a polite conversational opening – just talk over them with something like “hey, it’s good to see you Mr. Wilson but I’ve really got to run now!” And – if someone slows to greet you – you may find yourself subconsciously responding in kind. So – don’t slow down.

  39. MegKnits*

    Booked a last minute vacation!! We’re going to NYC in under 3 weeks!! Staying on the upper West side near the subway.
    We have one or two days planned out (Top of the rock, SOL, Central park, Intrepid museum) but am looking for food or night activities. Any recommendations outside of the obvious Times Square? Or where we should eat? I’m so excited but I have no idea where to start!

    1. TootsNYC*

      If you decide to go to the 911 memorial, first research NYC fire marshal Ronald Bucca, and then look for his name (it’s about 1/3 of the way up the inside of the southern memorial). (wave to me in 1WTC; that’s where I work)

      I go to church with his mom; he was a child of our congregation. A very interesting guy–and a bit of a hero. He made it to the floor of impact in the South Tower and had started fighting fires and lining survivors up to get out of the building.

    2. steve g*

      Are you a family or just a couple?

      If you want hip places for food, I’d putz around st marks place (though this tends to be for 20somethings), soho (prince and spring st.), or the middle of the village (all of the side streets around sixth ave below about 10th st., including bleecker).

      The west village and chelsea (I’d walk down seventh ave south of 23rd) have a lot of nice places to, as does park ave south, between 28th and 17th.

      I’m not into the midtown thing, way way too many tourists and non-authentic ny vibes at most places, and the area around times square is stress inducing because people walk too slow and the restaurants are lower quality, or at least seem like suburban mall joints plopped into the city, awkwardly.

      1. MegKnits*

        Couple. Late 20’s. We’re both not on big crowds so we don’t plan on staying around there much.

        1. Steve G*

          Oh OK I would recommend walking around the streets I mentioned and then just walking into a place you like. I like the Village/SoHo area because it’s happening with a more interesting/eclectic bunch but not too crowded like midtown. The UES is nice but the bar crowd there will be overwhelmingly local (a bit of a yawn fest), and the UES is for very rich folks, and the average age when you go out is like 60, so its not for us young folk. There are some good places in Midtown, but too many mediocre ones mixed in and too many tourists + drunk barely-out-of-teens loud people walking up from Penn Station to make going out there enjoyable.

    3. Dan*

      That’s not last minute…

      I once planned a trip to Buenos Aires and left within four days of first thinking about it.

      1. S*

        I went to Austin this weekend in the same way!–booked flight on Monday, left Friday evening.

    4. danr*

      Try to see a play or musical. This site, for the Theater Development fund, https://www.tdf.org/ , has the info on all of the shows. If you go to an evening performance, Lattanzi’s Restaurant, http://lattanzinyc.com/ , has an excellent pre-theater menu and service to match. When you make the reservation, you tell them that it’s pre-theater. You waiter will ask which show you’re going to and you will have plenty of time to eat an excellent dinner and make the show on time.
      Of course, there are also plenty of museums. Many of them have a suggested fee for admission, but you can usually play less.
      Watch out for scammers. One of the latest that was reported was folks selling expensive “discounted” tickets for the Staten Island Ferry. The ride is free and you don’t need a ticket. http://www.siferry.com/index.html

    5. Today's anon*

      This is the season with the outdoor concerts. A lot of them are free and some are free but you have to get there hours early. Broadway shows are also often popular with people coming to visit (that is usually expensive). Some museums have nights they are open late.

    6. Lore*

      Most of the big museums have a free night once a week–usually 5-8. They’re often crowded but, hey, free. Also the brand-new Whitney Museum is getting a lot of press. I haven’t been yet but it’s definitely worth wandering that neighborhood even if you don’t go. The High Line park is pretty great especially at sunset and there are lots of trendy restaurants and bars growing up around it. That’s also close to the river and you can now walk up most of the west side of ,Manhattan in a park/chain of parks. This time of year I also highly recommend Governors Island–former Coast Guard base that’s slowly being converted to giant park, but still has interesting old houses (and a lot of them get art installations in the summer). TDF has a free app that will show you which shows have half price tickets available each night–you can pick the, up at the booths in either times square or downtown at the seaport. Also, the walk across the Brooklyn Bridge is famous for a reason, but the Manhattan Bridge has a pedestrian path that’s much less trafficked and has possibly an even better view.

    7. Lisa McS*

      For things to do, look at the tours offered by Context Travel. They are a bit spendy, but well worth it. (My favorites are the Cloisters tour, the one of Central Park, and any of the ones at the Met.) Also, the Gourmet Chinatown Walking Tour by Zerve is a lot of fun, full of history, and tasty!

  40. danr*

    Here are some favorites in the city. All within walking distance of a subway line.
    Italian – Jewish: Lattanzi http://lattanzinyc.com/
    Northern Italian: Remi: http://www.remi-nyc.com/
    Greek: Molyvos: http://www.molyvos.com/
    See if you can see a play or musical Ticket info here: https://www.tdf.org/. If you’re seeing a play at night, Lattanzi has a pre theater dinner that is superb. You let them know when you make the reservation. And your waiter will ask which play and you’ll have time to have your dinner and make the curtain with time to spare.
    Have Fun.

  41. Dynamic Beige*

    Does anyone have any leads or suggestions for vacation rentals in the Outer Banks for September? I may be attending a conference in the area 16-18 and I have a feeling that if I don’t use that as an excuse for a weekend vacation, then I won’t get one. It would be nice to walk on a beach for a few days.

    1. Ann Furthermore*

      Oh, we spent one of the loveliest weeks ever on Ocracoke Island a couple years ago. It’s only accessible by ferry, which you can pick up on Hatteras Island (I think) and it runs about every half hour. Except for the small town on one end of the island, the entire thing is federally protected National Seashore land. The town is full of cool little restaurants, galleries, shops, and a really cool book store. No chain restaurants or huge hotels. And the beaches were spectacular. We drove about halfway up the island on the first day, and went to the beach, and it was beautiful, but the water was pretty rough. The next day we drove up to the other end of the island (where the ferry drops you off) and found a little cove area where the water was totally calm.

    2. ID10T Detector*

      My family and two other families go to Sunset Beach every Labor Day weekend (and then some of us stay for the whole week – I love my WFH job!) and it’s my favorite in the Outer Banks. And reasonably priced after the official end of summer. You can probably still get a rental for September.

  42. skyline*

    Does anyone here use the Bullet Journal system? I’ve started using it this month, and I feel like it’s helping me procrastinate less on a lot of my everyday tasks. As an inveterate list maker, I love writing things down and checking them off, and it’s been helpful to create a record of things like – when did I last give the cats their flea treatment? what was that website so-and-so told me about? etc.

    1. No Longer Passing By*

      I do. I love it as it helps me to write notes in an organized manner. I just don’t do the calendar part. I find it insufficient for my needs.

      1. skyline*

        I don’t use the calendar for my full schedule, but I do use it to keep track of recurring events (the aforementioned pet flea treatment, when I changed the Brita filter, etc). I’ve been finding it especially helpful for keeping notes/task lists on projects, like vacation planning, volunteer work, etc.

  43. Ann Furthermore*

    I’m heading to the UK on Tuesday for 10 days, but for work rather than vacation. But I’ll have a weekend there. I’m planning to duck out of any group activities, as I’ll be there with some software users that have been very, very difficult to work with.

    I’m staying at a hotel that is a block away from the British Museum, so I’m definitely going to spend some time there. I also found a really unusual, cool sounding museum called Sir John Soane’s Museum, who was evidently an architect in the 1800’s who collected all kinds of things from around the world, and then after he died, his home was made into a museum. I might go there on Wednesday, as my flight gets in early and I want to have something to do.

    Any other recommendations for things to do or see in that general area? I was toying with the idea of going to the Royal Observatory too.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      DEFINITELY go to the Royal Observatory. It’s really cool. Eat pie and mash at Goddard’s in Greenwich–it’s right up the street from the park. The Cutty Sark is there too–go see it. It’s a Victorian clipper that hauled tea and wool. Pretty neat. If you can ride in the front of the DLR, do it do it do it. It’s childish and dumb but fun. You can pretend you’re driving. DON’T forget to touch in and out with your Oyster when you go on it–the station is different from the regular tube stations and there is no barrier.

      #jelly jelly jelly jelly

    2. misspiggy*

      Don’t eat in that area if you can avoid it, almost every restaurant is a dreadful tourist trap (except for the shopping centre next to Russell Square tube, which has an excellent supermarket, a cinema, and some nice cafes). Take the tube to Leicester Square and use the Time Out website for eating recommendations in Soho. Get an Oystercard asap to use the very good buses and undergroun, and look at the Tfl site for transport info. Royal Observatory is a long way away, practically a day trip. The Wellcome Trust is nearby and has excellent science exhibitions. But Time Out is a good way to find things close by. Enjoy Sir John Soane’s Museum, that and the BM will keep you very occupied!

    3. Meadowsweet*

      It’s a little ways away, but if you like art the National Gallery has a wonderful collection.
      I really enjoyed the Royal Mews too, but it’s right down past Buckingham Palace.

    4. PK*

      Sir John Soane’s museum is sooooooo special. The first time I went there, it was during one of their candle light tours. I believe it still happens in the evening on the first Tuesday of every month, which might time out perfectly for you. The entire museum is lit only with candles. It’s MAGICAL! Get there early to avoid the long queue. They are also very particular about what you carry into the museum. If you have a purse, you can carry it with you, but they will have you put it into a plastic bag. ENJOY!!!!

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I caught a few episodes of “The Quizeum”, which was a BBC quiz show broadcast from a different museum each week, and questions on the exhibits. The Wallace Collection, Museum of London and The Foundling Hospital Museum all look like they would be worth a visit.

    5. Ann Furthermore*

      Thanks for all the suggestions! One question about public transportation in London and the outlying areas. I’m staying in London but the office I’m working in is in Welwyn Garden City. So I know I need to take the train, and the people I’m traveling with have done this before, and we’re all staying at the same hotel. But my question is about the oystercard. I know it’s good on the tube and buses. Is it also good on the train? If so, probably the easiest thing to do is get an oystercard for the week and add to it if/when I need to. I’ve read some about this and can’t tell for sure, probably because I’m not familiar with all the terminology. If the train out to Welwyn Garden City is on the National Rail, then it seems like I should be covered with an oystercard.

      Probably a silly question, but I always like having a high-level understanding of what I need to do in a new situation.

      1. Apollo Warbucks*

        Just to confuse matters not all national rail stations are on the oyster system, some stations are but welwyn garden city doesn’t appear to be one of them, according to the national rail web site (link below)

    6. Elkay*

      I used to work in a house that had stairs designed by Sir John Soane, they were built into the wall so looked like they were floating which was pretty cool.

      Leicester Square/Covent Garden is touristy but I tend to embrace the fact that I’m a tourist and just go to those places :) I like the National Portrait Gallery which is next door to the National Gallery, both free to get into.

  44. Elizabeth West*

    Psycho Kitty got hurt on Thursday; she showed up at dinnertime covered in burrs and in pain and would not let me near her. There was something wrong with her tail. She looked better yesterday and today, I finally got a look at it. OMG. Huge wound. Instant ER vet visit. Ugh.

    Vet said she either lacerated it or it might have been an abscess that burst. He was leaning toward that, but I’ve handled her tail a lot lately and noticed nothing, no pain or lumps or anything. It was infected so they couldn’t stitch it, but they cleaned it out really well and gave her a two-week delayed antibiotic shot (slow-acting) and some pain meds. They told me the pain meds would not wear out for eight hours and she would not be okay on her own outside, so I had to keep her inside.

    She has been very quiet but I let her out of the crate because she was looking pretty anxious. I made her a bed in the living room and shut off the back bedroom. I put some food and water near it. So far she has been walking around and keeps going to the back door like, “Open? Please?” I hope she stays quiet so I can sleep. I can’t do anything about bathroom (she’s not trained), so if she pees/poops I’ll just deal with it. I don’t have carpet so it shouldn’t be too terrible.

    Here is a picture of her at the vet. I call it the Face of No.

    Today we had the ice show. My dress did not come out okay–it was a fail. So I dug an old one out of the closet and wore that instead. I skated okay. We had pizza and cookies afterward. :)

      1. fposte*

        I think Alison’s taking it easy this weekend–I’ve still got a link in moderation from last night, and the spammer post is still up.

          1. fposte*

            And are replies failing now? I think I remember this happening after a certain number of posts before. So this is a test–and a warning, if it fails, that new replies may not thread.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Replying here to test the reply button. ;) I think the website went down for a short bit- so maybe it’s been twigged?

            2. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Oh, will you look at this…I definitely saw your comment unthreaded about 20 minutes ago, and now it’s threaded! How odd. But that’s good to know, too!

          2. The Cosmic Avenger*

            I posted a reply to it with a link, and the text of my comment was “Just putting a post in moderation to make it easy to find the spammy parent post” or something like that. Since there’s no way to flag or report comments, I figured that was the easiest way for Alison to find it.

            1. The Cosmic Avenger*

              Oops, this was a reply to Elizabeth West. Just as well, I forgot to mention that yes, she absolutely deserves it!

            2. fposte*

              @Cosmic Avenger–oh, that link flag technique is clever! I’ll have to remember that.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you get her a litter box? She’ll know how to use it automatically, and some of her anxiety might be that she doesn’t think there’s anywhere for her to use the bathroom currently; it’s why she wants to go out, probably. (Cats don’t like just going on the floor.)

      1. catsAreCool*

        I was thinking about that, too. A lot of cats seem to just know what to do. I think it might be the sand that helps them understand what to do.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        She’s outside again now–I just couldn’t let her out until the medication wore off. I didn’t have anything to use but I suppose I should get something, in case we have to do this again.

        With her, it’s about being confined. She will come in and walk around, but the second you try to shut the door, she’s like, “OMG OMG OMG OMG.” I could tell the medicine affected her, because she made NO sound the entire time except for one small meep. Usually, if I bring her in during a tornado or anything, she yells the house down. Instead, she went to the back door several times and then sat in the kitchen and just stared silently at me without making a sound. It was really kind of creepy.

    2. Windchime*

      Psycho kitty is lucky to have you for her friend. Thanks for taking such good care of her; if I remember right, she’s a stray?

      I hope she is feeling better today.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Not a stray, but unsocialized as a kitten, so afraid of everyone, even me at times. The former neighbor dumped her on me. I didn’t even want a cat!

    3. Marcela*

      She is gorgeous! I agree with Alison: if you can get her a litter box, she’ll know how to use it. In my experience, all cats know, even old strays.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        She’s also completely insane. o_O
        I get really sick of dealing with her sometimes, but I guess I’d miss her if anything happened. But $200 ER visits—come on, kitty. Whatever you got into, cut it out!

  45. Scare to Talk to Mom*

    I have always have a big fear talking to my mom. This has in part let to my compulsive lying personality. My mom is someone that takes good care of me. But she does have high expectations of success for me because she did put in a lot of work to getting me into college and giving me a home to live. She expects me to be a professional with excellent communication skills and who can keep a job. She also seemed to expect that I should not be making any mistakes because I have the best education and living condition that any of my family members have had. She expects me to make sure that I do everything right to protect my professional reputation and to make good relations with my workplace. When she did talked about a mistake she made at work once, she told me that she hide the mistake from her boss to preserve her reputation. What she said did shocked me a bit even though I understand that she is not valued at her workplace because of her menial position and mean work culture.

    I do make mistakes a lot, especially ones that have to do with communication and socializing. There are many days where I say the wrong thing, talk too much, and talk too little. There are also times when I make mistakes at work. I just have don’t seem to have the right mind to have good social skills. The fact that I keep making inane mistakes on occasions and not really seem to learn from them makes it harder for me to muster up the courage to talk to my mom.

    I understand that everybody makes mistakes in life and learn from them. But I have trouble dealing with my mom who have such high expectations of me and who expects me to be social even though I am far from being it.

    How would you deal with situations where you find yourself to be a highly unskillful person that cannot meet your mom’s/parent’s requirement for you to be bright and helpful to the family?

    1. Mean Something*

      It sounds like you have a perfectionistic and highly anxious mother. She is not perfect herself, but she is convinced that perfection is attainable (it isn’t) and that the only way for you, her child, to be safe is to be perfect. She has tried to create the conditions for perfection in you, but of course you are not perfect. And, ironically, you feel deeply flawed: you think of yourself as “inane,” “highly unskillful,” etc., when I am quite sure you are at least as functional as an average person. You are probably also quite compassionate toward people who are less able than you–but you are very, very hard on yourself because this is how your mother has trained you to be.

      This is a hard mindset to escape, but it can be done. Welcome to the world of imperfect people who will never completely please their anxious parents. We like you the way you are.

      1. Scare to Talk to Mom*

        Thank you, Mean Something.

        There are some flaws that I have that I worried about my mom knowing about: My lack of knowledge on how to deal with people (especially those that are mean).

        My mom can yell and talk back at anyone she please at anytime. I cannot do that. I do not have the speech skills to yell (and I don’t feel comfortable yelling). And I am not skilled at talking back. So far those situations have not happened at school or at work yet, but I worried if they do.

        I do want to improve myself as a person, but I understand that my personality will never please my mom–for it is quite contrasting to hers.

        1. The IT Manager*

          You’re a non-confrontational personality. Although you do need to have the skills to stand up for yourself, there’s nothing wrong with preferring to avoid conflict. Let’s be honest, being able to yell at anyone at any time is not something to aspire to. You’re a different person than your Mom. You sound like a nicer person than your mom. It sounds like your mom is putting a lot of pressure on you.

          I second the recommendation of therapy. It sounds like you have fairly big relationship issues because your mom is demanding and pushy.

        2. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

          Why do you think your mom is so great? Hiding mistakes and yelling at people, expecting perfection and managing your anxiety by taking things out on others aren’t signs of great social skills in my book.

          1. Scare to Talk to Mom*

            My mom is not “great.” But I appreciate that she worked hard to provide me a home. I just can’t break off tides to her just because of her flaws–that is what my culture is. Yet at the same time, our personality differences are causing me to worry talking to her. I think the hardest part of this is that I am not brave enough to “stand up” to her and tell her I am different and that is that.

    2. Coach Devie*

      I want to give you a big hug first and foremost. I hate that you view yourself as highly unskilled and unworthy.

      I do want to say, that although it’s normal to feel a sense of gratitude or even a bit of obligation to a parent who supported you through school and such, I want you to also recognize that you don’t owe your life to your mother for simply keep a roof over your head, because that was her duty as your parent; to love you, support you and provide for you in that capacity.

      You’re an adult, and you don’t have to share your work-life with your mom. That includes if you make mistakes at work (and sweetie, we are all human and we all make mistakes. You are going to worry yourself trying to live up to a perfection standard that none of us are capable of attaining)

      I’m not sure of what advice to give you to make you believe you are worthy and valuable. But you are, I really hope you believe that you are.

      Is there any way you can focus on other aspects of your relationship with your mother? Leaving work and school out of it? It seems this is causing you a lot of stress. Perhaps you share a mutual interest or a hobby that you can carve out time to do together and make small talk about? Building a bond here may be a good way to build up the confidence and comfort to confide in her that you are more of an introvert and need her understanding in what is comfortable and not comfortable for you.

      I hope others here can give you more advice, but I do wish you well! The things you worry about at work, perhaps could even be a result of anxiety you’ve been ingrained with because of your worry about your mothers take on it all, or on disappointing her or letting her down.

      You are enough, I hope you know that.

      1. Scare to Talk to Mom*

        Thank you for your support, Coach Devie.

        It will be hard to leave out work and school conversation with my mom because she helped got me my job and she really hopes that I graduate from my school. She occasionally asked me how was work, etc.

        I and my mom have somewhat contrasting personalities–the only thing similar between us is our anxiety levels. My mom is talkative, loud, and can yell at anyone if she needs to. I am not good at talking and not good at confrontation.

        I am mostly afraid with talking to my mom about how I deal with people. There are currently no severe problems yet, but I worried if it happens in the future.

        What if a mean coworker insulted me? How should I deal with that? Will my mom think I am a “wuss” for not standing up to myself in the “correct way”?

        What if I tell information about myself to my coworkers that my mom thinks I should not disclose? Sometimes I just slip-up.

        When I was a child and was developing my social skills. I always hide from my mom that I have trouble making friends and am bullied by so and so. I did not know what to do with these difficult classmates and I just remained passive and constantly got teased. Overtime as I continued to hide from my mom, I believe I lacked the discipline that kids with more aware parents got. I did not get the lecture or the scolding that I would have had. I never learned from my mom to develop ways to understand “how to deal with people.” I ended up being different from my mom: I can never yell at someone like her. I can never be talkative like her.

        Although sometimes my personality makes me hard for me to make friends, I am comfortable with not being talkative and outgoing. It just stress me sometimes that it would run in conflict with my mom.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          This reminds me a little of me, in that I was always a shy, quiet kid, and my parents were somewhat loud and gregarious, but also fought extremely loudly and could be quick to offend.

          Just remember that social interaction and communication are not math — there isn’t one right answer. There’s only different approaches and even very different goals in any particular situation. To me, the things that really helped me open up were 1) most people weren’t judging me nearly as harshly as I thought, that was me projecting my own self-judgement, 2) most people are as charitable and open to what you have to say as you would be to them, so when you think about your own situations, think about them as if they happened to a dear friend, and you’ll find that you’re much more charitable, and 3) those people who taunt or harp on small mistakes are not people whose judgement I value or trust, they usually have ulterior motives and are often not people who I want to spend time with anyway.

          None of that necessarily makes it easier right away, but once I started talking to people more readily and stopped judging myself so harshly for it, I found that it was very well-received and most people were very glad to have someone to talk to. It may help to start with people who seem to be shy or withdrawn, since we understand perfectly how they’re feeling, and they probably need someone to listen to them uncritically more than most.

          I think you’ll find that the more you do this, the more you’ll realize that your mother’s approach to your life is unusual, unhealthy, and unhelpful.

        2. Dynamic Beige*

          First of all… are you a native English speaker? I ask because your post “feels” to me as if you might be Asian. Some of the things you say about the hiding mistakes to save face also make me think that. If this is the case, then you have a hill to climb because in that culture, respecting your parents is paramount.

          Secondly… are you me? How you describe your life is pretty much (in broad strokes) how mine went, bullied at school, bullied at home. Can’t talk to mother about school or confide in her about anything because she will use it as a tool to beat me up with in some way. I also learned that hiding was a good way to avoid being picked on, something which I’m trying to overcome now and it’s not easy.

          My mom is talkative, loud, and can yell at anyone if she needs to. I am not good at talking and not good at confrontation.
          Of course you aren’t, you were raised by someone who simply would not allow you to confront her or talk back! Parents of the world: if you want your child to grow up to be someone who can stand up for themselves, you have to allow them to practice on you first. How can you expect them to stand up to a teacher or other adult/authority figure who is out of line if you will not allow them to stand up to you — the most authoritative and powerful figure in their lives? No, you will not like it and no I’m not saying that you should allow your children to run roughshod over you and get their own way all the time, but seriously consider teaching them how to advocate for themselves to you.

          So I don’t know what you’re studying or hope to graduate from but I will suggest this: look for a new job that would allow you to leave your home, some place that is far enough away that there will be no choice but for you to move. That idea may scare you, but as long as you live with your mother, she will continue to be all over you, finding fault in every eye-twitch she doesn’t like… and that is only going to make your current problems worse. If you’re making money now and don’t have to turn it all over to your mother, save as much of it as you can in a place she can’t get access to it, a bank account she doesn’t know about for example. Know where all the papers you need to have are, get them if you can — birth certificate/passport things like that — and put them some place safe.

          If you are in China, then getting therapy is probably not something that is going to happen. Even if you can go to therapy, IMO, get away first then go. But, if you have access to the internet, you might be able to get to reddit and search for Raised By Narcissists, where you will find all kinds of people who have or had a similar struggle to the one you’re going through and they should be able to provide you support and tips for how to get out. If that site is blocked to you, then search for “narcissistic personality disorder”. I would suggest you get a copy of the book If You Had Controlling Parents but pull off the cover or paper it over. There’s a lot in there that talks about the kind of fear and anxiety that will cause parents to be like your mom, and that might help.

          Just know this: this is not your fault. You didn’t do anything or ask to be treated this way. This is all about your mother’s fears and issues. She doesn’t see you as a separate person, but an extension of herself. Knowing that isn’t going to make it hurt any less, but it is a relief to know that it’s not your fault and there was nothing you could have done to stop it.

          I wish you the best of luck getting out and getting your life back!

    3. BRR*

      This is sort of similar to my issues with my parents. I would recommend seeing a therapist about this. It’s not fair of her to decide what you need to be. It’s very kind of her to work hard to provide you a good life but that doesn’t give her the right to control you.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, this. It sounds like your mom wants you to be what she is not. More accurately, she wants you to be what she perceives herself as not being. That is why the long list of expectations.

        A problem comes in because you and she are two separate people. You have your own ideas/skills/goals/dreams. Some of these things may match what your mom values, but not all of these things match what she values. And that is actually okay, you are still a good person and a valued adult.

        Sometimes people post on here how to find low cost counseling. Maybe they will post again today. You can be you and still love and respect your mom.

        1. BRR*

          I believe captain awkward has a post on low cost therapy. In general captain awkward might be a good blog for the OP to read.

    4. Observer*

      It sounds like you need to get yourself to a therapist ASAP. Do NOT discuss this with your mother.

      Your description of yourself sounds like it’s out of touch with reality. It also sounds like your ability to deal with real life is being seriously hampered.The right therapist can help you build a more accurate picture of yourself, and also learn the skill you need to cope with life and deal with your mistakes in a healthy manner.

      Also, if you can, perhaps you should consider moving out of your mother’s house.

  46. Coach Devie*

    I think I have to get my 2.5 year old intact dog fixed to curb some behavioral issues and I’m really torn up about it. haha.

    I have no worries about “accidental over-population” as he is a small dog and doesn’t spend alone time outside so no worries about him getting loose and going on a mating spree with neighbor dogs. So I chose to keep him in-tact because I think it’s pretty cruel to neuter an animal for my own convenience.

    But.. he has anxiety issues and he releases them by humping everything to the point he is hurting himself and may be hurt by other animals because he doesn’t recognize/care that other animals are upset with him for this behavior. He doesn’t do it (most of the time) for sexual gratification. He will hump any available part of another animal, or even small child if he has access, or sometimes my s/o’s arm, or any unlucky stuffed animal that is within reach.

    I don’t know if neutering him will solve this problem (or the new peeing in the kitchen thing he’s taken on) or if maybe he needs mood stabilizers or what. I don’t really know what to do!!!

    1. Mean Something*

      I’m not sure why it’s cruel to neuter an animal for your own convenience. Not baiting you here, truly don’t understand the mindset. He can’t run wild and breed as his instincts are telling him to do, which is kind of for your convenience, but also for the health and safety of your dog and other dogs, including his potential unwanted offspring. Under these conditions, it seems as though neutering would make you both happier. I don’t know if it will solve his anxiety completely, but from the description you give, it seems like part of the puzzle. What does the vet say?

      1. Coach Devie*

        It just feels cruel to remove his anatomy to me. I recognize I am applying my human emotion to his anatomy, but the main reason people advocate neutering is to prevent unwanted offspring. This can be accomplished with vasectomy but they don’t do this for dogs. Seems extreme to remove a part of him that regulates hormones in his body. That is why I was against it.

        BUT NOW. If it would be better for his overall health and wellbeing (there is discussion about testicular cancer has he gets older, etc) then I am onboard if it is the right choice. I am still having a hard time reconciling that it is indeed the right choice.

        We have an appointment with the vet this week coming up. She never has pushed neutering too hard on me, when I explained I wasn’t interested,but I hope she is willing to explore all options for his best interest. If fixing him turns out to be in his best interest then I’m sure I can get on board and accept it.

        I definitely do think it may be part of his puzzle, so I just want to be sure I am doing the best thing for him and not what’s best for me (either way it goes!)

          1. Coach Devie*

            Thank you!! I just want to make the right choices.

            I am aggravated by his inability to be social up-front (once he gets over his initial anxiety he calms way down, but its difficult for me to bring him to friends homes with small kids or other animals because it usually takes him a day in a new environment to relax enough to stop his behavior… and small kids and animals don’t have the patience or time for that!! ha ha) but I love my little guy and his anxiety shows in other ways too, so I definitely want to get him comfortable. Being someone who has dealt with anxiety issues myself, I know how stressful and unbalancing it is. So I want to make sure I take the best care for him.

            1. BRR*

              Have you tried spending time with a dog trainer or behaviorist about his anxiety issues?

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Definitely, check out something along this lines- if you feel so inclined maybe an animal intuitive would be good.

                I hate saying this but neutering did not help my little buddy that much. Additionally, his antics caused him to hurt his back. (It was in part because of humping things. He did other klutzy stuff, too.)

                I brought him to a veterinary chiropractor because of his back injuries. She does chiropractic and Eastern medicine. She had me change his diet to calming foods, instead of foods that exasperated his high energy. She gave him some herbs and also did acupuncture and chiropractic for his back.

                He is doing better and it is noticeable.

                The only thing I added to the mix was a spritzer of cold water. I kept it in the fridge. Whenever he started humping something I would squirt water at him and tell him no. The cold water gets their attention. I am very careful to not squirt him in the face or ears.

                Humping is a dominance thing. I knew that, so I would never let him hump my leg or anyone else’s. But that did not stop him, he continued to use pillows. his bed, whatever he could figure out.
                The trick with dogs is they want a leader. If they think they do not have a leader then THEY will lead. And not all dogs want to lead, some want to follow. Yours wants to follow, I think. Mine wants to lead- which is another set of problems. If they lack the leadership they feel they need*, we can see all kinds of behavior. Make sure he has rules and he has to follow his rules. Yes, I understand he is anxious and it makes it harder to enforce the rules, sometimes. Gentle firmness is fair to the little guy. Consistency is very important. Even things like feeding and bed time – if you can keep those things around the same time each day that will help. It does take time, unfortunately. (*wW might be doing a ton of things for them, but we might be overlooking something they really need. My guy is part husky. I had to read up on the breed because I never had a husky mix before. He’s been a trip. We have sat and howled together, literally. He needed me to do that with him. We did it every night for two weeks. Then he did not want to do that anymore. Too funny.)

                Lastly, make sure he has appropriate ways to burn off that youthful energy. My buddy and I play in the living. It’s the only large area in the house that has carpet and he is less apt to skid/slide into things while we play.

                Short version- I tweaked numerous things and the effect was cumulative.

                1. Coach Devie*

                  Thank you for your input! I am definitely looking into a more rigid schedule with him. He does well at home just by himself (and yes, he is definitely not a leader guy, but he also doesn’t know HOW to follow — only child syndrome?? haha)

                  Our routine is a bit non-routine and you’re right, he probably really needs that.

                  and a behaviorist would be ideal, I am sure I can find one where we live. I will look into it after vet appointment next week.

        1. Bea W*

          Behavioral issues are also a major reason for neutering/spaying. I don’t know much about dogs, but male cats and rabbits have some behavioral issues like spraying (plus endless humping if it’s a rabbit) that cause people to want to abandon or re-home them. This is just one of a handful of reasons people get their pets fixed.

          You can also look at it from the perspective of your dog, who get worked up and is driven to hump things. Would your dog be happier if he didn’t have this urge so much, being driven by hormones? You’d be happier as well, and you being happier is also good for your dog. It’s a win-win from that point of view. He’s less frustrated by hormonal behavior. You’re less frustrated by his hormonal behavior.

          It is true without testicles that eliminates his risk of testicular cancer, but the risk may be very low that you might not think surgery is worth it for that alone. I don’t know what the risk is for dogs. You’re vet would have more info on that. I am a rabbit person, so I can speak from that perspective. We do really push spays for rabbits, because the female reproductive cancer rate is so high for rabbits (anywhere from 50-80% within 5 years depending on which article you read – it is extremely common!). Testicular cancer is not a reason we push neutering males though because although it happens, and I have known it to happen, it is still quite rare, but the behavioral issues are compelling in and of themselves to recommend neutering even for rabbits who will never make contact with an intact female.

          The surgery for males is really not that bad. It’s fairly easy, and it’s not as complex and invasive as a spay. Do talk to you vet about the pros and cons and the procedure itself and whether neutering is the best solution for the problem or if there are non-surgical options.

          If you do neuter, it does take a while for the hormones already circulating in the body to dissipate (we say about a month for rabbits, not sure about dogs). So you could see an immediate change or it could be a few weeks. Again, you’re vet would know.

          Whatever you decide, I think it’s great that you are concerned about doing what’s best for your dog and don’t want to make a hasty decision, even with something that is very cut and dry for some people (myself included – but probably because I’m a rabbit person and intact males are just…pretty challenging to live with!). You are a good dog mom.

      2. catsAreCool*

        When a male dog isn’t neutered, doesn’t that mean he has all kinds of hormones telling him to mate, but since he can’t, that might be tough for him. Maybe it’s kinder for him to not have the mating drive.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      You’re doing the right thing. There are many reasons why neutering your dog is beneficial, beyond risk of mating. Neutered dogs are healthier, less aggressive, less prone to certain illnesses, etc. Note that neutered dogs are often threatened by intact dogs (a hormonal issue on which I’m not all too clear) and that impedes socialization. My buddy was fine with intact dogs for about 6 months after his neuter (which happened before we adopted him), but now? We steer very, very clear from intact dogs.

      Once your pup is neutered, he will have a whole new world open to him– you can help him socialize by sending him to daycare. He’ll be able to enjoy everyone at the dog park (if those are your thing).

      Also note that the humping may not entirely stop. My dog is neutered and occasionally, when he’s very excited, he humps. It’s a play behavior, but not all dogs like it, so it’s gotten my buddy in trouble and earned him more than one time-out. It will be up to you to curb that behavior.

      Good luck!

      1. BRR*

        Ugh my dog developed an intolerance to intact dogs when he was about 5 (he’s about 6.5 now). I’m not sure if my local park doesn’t have a fixed dog rule or if it’s just not enforced it but it’s terribly annoying. Yeah it’s my dog’s behavior but they’re the ones who shouldn’t bring an unfixed dog to a dog park. My dog will also just leave the other dogs alone if he doesn’t like them but this just seems to make the other dogs follow him around.

        And yeah the humping thing might not stop. Every once in a while my guy does it even though he’s neutered and only has one back leg.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          We avoid dog parks partly because we’ve never encountered one that excludes intact dogs. I hate it when people blame the neutered dog– it’s a natural, known reaction, for starters. When we lived in NYC, my buddy and I used to go to off-leash hours at Central Park on the weekends, and one day he got into it with an intact dog. Neither was hurt and it ended pretty quickly, then the owner of the intact dog came over to apologize to my boy! I was glad he acknowledged his responsibility, but dude– you know your dog is an issue, so please leave him home.

          A few weeks ago, we were having dinner outside and brought the dog. Another group showed up with their dog, who was basically my dog’s twin (and my dog has unusual markings, so this was quite cool). Those two were happy as can be, chilling together, when our new doggy friend started barking his head off. My bud started barking in solidarity. All the patrons around us got freaked out until I saw an intact boxer walking down the street. We calmed the dogs down and all was fine– they were just telling the boxer to stay away from their mamas with his dangly bits– but it drove home to me that for some dogs, balls and balls-free just do not get along, even at a safe distance.

          1. Coach Devie*

            It’s been my dream to take him to the dog parks (there isn’t a rule that he has to be neutered at the ones around us) but because of his behavior, we do not go. He needs more socialization (his behavior is also why I don’t leave him at a daycare or anything either) but I don’t want him to hurt himself, another animal or be hurt by another animal until I get this situation under better control.

            I understand he may still hump occasionally, which is fine and natural. It’s the obsessive compulsive anxiety humping that we have to curb. He becomes tunnel visioned when he is like this and doesn’t listen or hear commands. He jumps out of my arms and goes crazy to get back to doing it.

            Thanks everyone for the commentary. Talking with vet this week coming up and exploring all options, for his best interest!!

            (Also interesting, I never knew that about the intact dogs/neutered dogs aversions!!! The couple male dogs that my guy has been around (and tried to hump incessantly) were both neutered)

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              I am a HUGE fan of doggy daycare, probably because our first was small and owned by a trainer, and in addition to playtime, there was some training (“sits for treats” and the like). A good daycare facilitates good play behavior– it’s a controlled environment with professionals who know what to look for and when your dog needs a time out. It also helps dogs work off a lot of their anxious energy in a way that walks and human contact just doesn’t. Once your pup is neutered, check out a few in your area. We send our guy once a week or so (mostly once every other week), and it’s wonderful for him. He’s slightly anxious and can be a bit aggressive in a, “Play with me! No! No breaks! You have to PLAY” way, which can piss off other dogs, but he’s so much better than he used to be. He got As on his last two report cards, after getting a C with a warning that he might get banned. I am a proud mama.

      2. Bea W*

        Rabbits are the same. It’s a social/dominance behavior. Both males and females do it. I had a girl spayed at about 9 months old who grabbed her neutered brother first thing every morning for 10 years. She would get all excited that it was time for breakfast, and that was the first thing she’s do – grabby grabby!. :D

  47. Jader*

    We’ve been trying to conceive for 18 months with no luck and this week I found out I’m having a miscarriage (chemical pregnancy, I didn’t even know I was pregnant). I was also diagnosed with PCOS. I have so many spot on symptoms I should have been diagnosed years ago. In the three days since that happened two different friends/acquaintances have made comments about how we should just hurry up and have kids already. One woman said we should just have babies already and when I sort of politely “oh we are trying haha…..” she said, well try harder. I know people are not trying to be jerks, I get they are making inappropriate small talk with a semi recently married woman of child baring age. But if I was less polite I would like to say something like, “We have been trying for a year and a half but I’m actually having a miscarriage as we speak and just learned I may be infertile. Thanks though.”
    I don’t know, this is mostly a rant and a pity party. Also a warning to not talk to people about stuff like that, because you just never know.

    1. Coach Devie*

      Jeeze! You would think people would be socially aware enough to know certain things aren’t okay to say to people for these exact reason. But alas they are not.

      I am sorry you are going through this.

      I hope this isn’t overstepping or rude, and I apologize if it is: but I had a friend who thought she was possibly infertile as well because of PCOS. She ended up having an ovary removed too because of it. Then shortly after that surgery, she conceived a son, and then another a bit after him. I only say this to try to give a silver lining to some tough news. I hope it wasn’t insensitive.

      *fingers crossed for your rainbow baby and sorry people are inconsiderate even when they mean well*

    2. misspiggy*

      Jeepers, that woman was so rude. I kind of wish you had said that to her. To give any advice to friends is overstepping unless they have asked; to push like that is outrageous. If it were me I’m not sure I would be speaking to that person any more.

      Sorry for your troubles, and I hope that with time things work out to give you a happier situation.

      1. Jader*

        Thank you. Yeah, she’s… interesting. She’s actually one of my Husband’s employees who has been trying very hard to be my friend, and I’ve been constantly having to maintain that line.

        1. No Longer Passing By*

          Based on her comments, I say that it shouldn’t be so hard to freeze her out….

          I’ve also had chemical pregnancies and have been diagnosed with PCOS. It really sucks and people should keep their comments to themselves

    3. saro*

      You can rant and have a pity party. I’m really sorry.

      I’ve had several chemical pregnancies and it’s just horrible. I had one person start out an email to me with, “Are you pregnant yet?” I wanted to reply, “I’m actually having a miscarriage right now, Thanks!!” That was one of the few emails I completely ignored!

      There is a nice community on reddit called infertility, if you’re interested.

    4. Anonsie*

      I’m so sorry you’re going through this. PCOS is a lot more common than people know, and most people don’t find out they have it until they’re trying to conceive because the other problems it can cause aren’t usually major enough for people to look into them. There are a lot of great places where people talk about their experiences though (the reddit group saro mentioned is a good one) and I would definitely recommend looking at some boards like that. Just seeing how common it is and how often people do get a happy ending can be a big help, since the way people make comments has the tendency to make you feel like the only person on earth that’s gone through it before.

      I may not be the best role model but when people have made snippy comments to me in the past about this I have thrown the truth on the table, because if they don’t know better then they’ll learn and if they did know better they’ll at least be embarrassed like they damn well should be.

      1. Jader*

        Thanks, I’ll definitely check out Reddit. I wish I was more snippy/assertive sometimes. The woman actually works for my Husband which kind of complicates things, but still. I’m working on practicing a response that is kind of “polite” but also equal parts a warning, like Thinking Out Loud suggested down thread.

    5. Samantha*

      I’m so sorry. I have been there. Three miscarriages as well as trouble conceiving, the reason for which is unknown after many tests. My husband and I just celebrated our second anniversary, and I have really noticed an increase in the baby comments/questions since then. I really feel for you. It’s a difficult journey.

      1. Jader*

        Oh for sure, I think the people around us gave us the first year to kind of “settle in” as a married couple (married 3.5 years now) and after the second year it’s been baby mania for everyone. Also all of our adult cousins on both sides got married within two years of us and now all have kids, so the pressure from the aunts and uncles has been real. We’ve been really open with our parents and siblings about what’s going on but if we hadn’t my MIL would be all over me to be making her a grandbaby.

    6. Sunshine Brite*

      I’m sorry. That’s difficult.

      I’ve also been recently diagnosed with PCOS but not while trying. I’m worried about the effects on fertility that will happen when we do start trying. Already getting the questions, but it’s not in my nature not to be blunt with people I’m comfortable with and probably would say that line that popped into your head. I try to sidestep politely with most since we both have been moving more towards not really wanting kids but still wanting them at the same side. If I did want them and having difficulty I’d probably just start telling people I’m not discussing that.

    7. Observer*

      People can be seriously weird about this stuff – and shockingly ignorant. Being at the receiving end of this kind of stuff can be incredibly hard. Get some support. INCIID (The International Council on Infertility Information Dissemination, Inc) is a good resource.

      PCOS does not necessarily mean infertility. Please make sure you are seeing a really good reproductive endocrinologist (RE). One thing that helps many women (especially if they have weight issues), is to make sure that they are getting a good amount of exercise and eat a diet that is essentially diabetic friendly – moderate fat (using healthy fats) and low glycemic index.

      Lots of luck with this.

        1. Jader*

          Thanks, I’ll definitely check it out. I’ve been doing a lot of research and my SIL is a neonatal nurse so she’s been a wealth of information. I’m getting ready to go grocery shopping to start eating low GI and dairy free, not looking forward to it. Currently waiting to get in with an RE. We live in Canada and the wait in my province to get in at my age is 12 to 18 months, of which we’ve done 3. I’m hoping the one we get is good because I’m not sure what the options are if I dislike him or her.

    8. Thinking out loud*

      I would be pretty direct with those people. “I’m sure you mean that nicely, but a lot of people have trouble conceiving and that’s a very hurtful thing for them to hear. I hope that you’ll reconsider saying things like that in the future when you don’t know the whole story.”

      1. Jader*

        I like this. I’ll definitely have to put it in my own words and then practice it as a response, thank you.

      2. Mander*

        Love this. I’ve been fortunate not to have had too many of these comments, but I’ve read so many accounts of the utterly rude and asinine things that people say to women who don’t have children and it just makes my blood boil. They are the ones being rude, not you. It’s ok to point out that their comments may be hurtful, IMHO.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I want to call your two friends and have a chat with them. But hopefully, they will get away from their 1900’s thinking and moving into the 2000’s pretty soon. If they don’t and they repeat these comments to you again, I say that they deserve whatever words fly out of your mouth at that point. I am sorry this happened to you.

      1. Jader*

        Thanks. I know, people are so weird. The woman was my Husband’s employee which was even weirder. The other was a male friend of ours who was mostly referring to the worker shortage in our province and how people like us are waiting too long to have kids.

        1. catsAreCool*

          Can you tell him that he’ll just have to procreate more? Honestly, what is wrong with people?

          Some people with 3 kids get hassled because of overpopulation, then people who don’t have kids get hassled.

    10. Artemesia*

      I’d probably say what you are imagining saying. It is so entirely cloddish to hassle people about this and so not their business. If you don’t want to be direct, you might say ‘You know this is just something you should not be hassling people about. You don’t know other people’s paths — some people have lost babies through miscarriage, others are infertile or having infertility problems. It can really be hurtful to nag them about getting pregnant when they are facing this misery already. How about we not discuss this again.’

      Someone who does this deserves to have ‘hurt feelings’ because it is apparently the only way they learn not to be casually cruel to others.

    11. Jean*

      +1 re sympathies for having to hear insensitive comments from thoughtless people!

      If you don’t want to spend any energy to educate these folks, you can just say something to shut them down outside your privacy zone. Example: Say something like “thank you for your concern” and then change the subject. If they stay on the topic like a bloodhound on a scent trail you can try again to redirect them, or you can use another tactical comment to end the conversation with your departure: “I need some more water” or “Mom looks like she needs a hand with that tray” or “well, gotta get back to work.”

      In some situations you can smile sweetly and say that you’re leaving things in the hands of G-d. This worked for me when people asked other kinds of intrusive questions, but only because we each knew that the other was at least mildly religious.( It won’t work if either party has a reputation for being non-religious or devoutly skeptical.) In these cases the people asking nosy questions did not get a specific answer, but
      a) they also did not feel challenged in a way they might have interpreted as hostile. (Although their questions made me feel hostile, I didn’t want to escalate the situation by expressing my anger.)
      b) they were firmly Silenced on the topic, because if something is in G-d’s hands, who wants to argue with G-d?

      Thanks for the reminder to mind my own business and NOT ask nosy questions, whether it’s about having kids, having another kid, finding a job, changing jobs, moving from an apartment into a house or vice versa, etc., etc. What ever happened to just being happy to see somebody and glad to spend time in their presence?!

    12. Moonpie*

      I’m sorry. I have been there – trying to conceive, PCOS, miscarriage. I understand the frustrations of people saying unhelpful things so well. I know all about the flaming Infertility sign at the top of every article about PCOS, and I understand why, but I also ended up getting pregnant at age 40 with no medical intervention (although I had seriously cleaned up my eating plan that year). All that to say – having the diagnosis brings challenges, but it’s not an automatic no, either. Take the time you need to deal with your loss and be kind to yourself.

    13. Steve G*

      I…I just stumbled on this comment very late (just opening AAM to read a response to one of my comments), and I don’t have the energy to read about PCOS (after looking up some articles and being daunted by the content)….I just wanted to send out some positive vibes and prayers, I really am seriously always hoping and rooting for good people who want children to have them in real life, so why not do it over the internet.

      Your comment was written in a very humble and much nicer manner than I would have written in your place, and all I can do is pray that you get some luck/favor/good fortune in the near future with this, I’m actually kind of upset that you, just some user-name on the internet, have to go through a miscarriage. It reminds me of one of my mom’s nicest friends who went through something similar (but ultimately had a kid, though I don’t know what the issue was, I was only a kid myself then), and that makes me sad….

  48. WeddingBells*

    I’m Getting married in a few weeks (yay!) I’m very excited and the finance and I have everything ready. My only problem is deciding what to do with my name. Originally I thought I would take his but now that we’re getting closer I realize that I would like to keep mine. I thought for a while I’d change my name but still go by birth name professionally, but we live in an entirely too small of town for that to work without being confusing. I don’t want to make birth name my middle name and both names are too long to hyphenate so those options are off the table for me. FH is supportive of whatever I choose to do. The problem is with everyone else. For the last year I’ve been bombarded with questions about my name at every family gathering (his family and mine) and my bridal showers. Everyone has an opinion and some individuals are offended by the notion that i don’t want to take his name. It’s just been weird. I don’t understand why other people care so much. I respect my friends and family who did change their names as it was their choice, felt right to them and something they wanted to do. However it’s not something that feels right to me, at least at this time. I can always change it later if I choose to

    I guess I’m not looking for advice. It’s just been an issue that has been stressing me out and I wanted to get it off my chest.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      One thing more and more people are doing is creating a new last name that is an amalgamation of the two existing names? I think that’s kinda cool.

      And I would also note, if you’d love to hyphenate but the names feel to long, don’t let that stop you if that’s what you really want. I’ve seen some LONG hyphenated names and you know what? People deal just fine. :)

      Good luck on the dilemma!

    2. Emily*

      I’m sorry that this is stressing you out and that some people have weirdly personal opinions about it! I think that your name should be your choice, and other people should respect that.

      Maybe if people bother you about it, you can politely deflect? “Thank you, but this just feels right to me,” or “That’s an interesting opinion, but I’m happy with my decision [to keep my name].” And then change the subject, or repeat ad nauseam if they try to continue the discussion.

      If nothing else, people will probably leave you alone after the wedding. Which, congratulations on that, by the way!

    3. Kai*

      I was in a similar situation–thought I would change my name to my husband’s once we got married, but as the wedding date got closer I realized that I wanted to keep my own. It IS frustrating when everyone seems to want to share their opinion of what you should do. But you’ll figure out what is best for you.

      1. the gold digger*

        I changed mine when we got married because I thought, Why not?

        And then I realized

        1. I missed my name
        2. I didn’t want to be associated by name with my husband’s parents

        I changed back to my maiden name last year. I am much happier!

        1. Elkay*

          Similar but we both went double barrelled, how long before you changed back to your maiden name?

          1. the gold digger*

            I continued to use my maiden name socially – I only used my married name on my credit cards and signing taxes.

            I used my maiden name when I wrote to Primo’s mom and it really ticked her off, so there was that small victory. Still, she addressed her letters to me by my married name. I would pointedly address my letters back with my maiden name. I didn’t expect her to comply with my wishes. Why should she? She was not interested in wooing me. She was interested in winning. (And so was I.)

            But what really bothered me was that MY OWN MOTHER kept calling me by my married name, even though I had asked her not to.

            Three years after we got married, I got a job so my husband could run for public office. (Do not do this – do not marry someone who will run for office!)I had to use my legal name at work and it really, really bugged me. As in, I could not stand it. That’s when I started telling Primo I wanted to change my name. He was a little bothered because I had taken his name at first, but a year later, he agreed (I didn’t need his permission, but I wanted to convince him of the rightness of my views!) on my birthday. I think he had been waiting for my birthday.

            It was really easy because I had never changed my passport. I didn’t need a court order. I just took my passport to the SS office (thank you, Stephanie, for that suggestion) and got a new SS card. With that and my passport, I got a new drivers license. That was it.

    4. The Cosmic Avenger*

      As long as you and your fiancé are on the same page, that’s all that matters. And as a corollary of “‘No’ is a complete sentence”, I’d also point out that “because I don’t want to [do the thing]” is a complete sentence. In both cases, justifying yourself to other people who have fixed ideas about what you should think and feel is like banging your head against a wall. The few who truly want to know what you think and why won’t leave you feeling defensive, so you’ll probably know when it’s OK to actually discuss it rather than defend your life choices.

      My wife kept her family name nearly 20 years ago, and it was no big deal, but that’s probably because since I’m the quiet one in my argumentative family, I tend to shut down arguments in the way I suggested above, and they know I’ll stick to it. (Plus they’re not really obnoxious, just assertive and emotive.) We got a few queries that were angled to guilt us into a different decision or at least an argument, but they didn’t go anywhere. :)

      Good luck, and as I said, make sure you and your husband are on the same team on this, because if you have each others’ backs, you can do anything. (He’s also the only other person whose opinion matters, although it’s still your decision.)

    5. Natalie*

      If you want to use your birth name professionally, you could not legally change your name but introduce yourself socially as WeddingBells HusbandsLastName. No one is going to ask for your drivers license at a party or whatever, and you save the giant hassle of legally changing your name. (It’s a serious PITA. You’d think society would be set up to make it easy since it’s so common, but no.)

      1. Natalie*

        If, of course, you actually want to be known by his last name in social situations.

      2. Treena Kravm*

        This is probably your best bet. If you live in such a small town, people will start calling you by his name anyways, without your prompting.

    6. Artemesia*

      When I kept my own name over 40 years ago and lived in the south you would have thought I had burned down a church. It was often the source of negative comment. But you know what? So what. I am very happy having done so. My daughter has a hyphenated name and when she married, she and her husband created a new hyphenated name for both of them. (mother’s name of female hyphenated with father’s name of male — the rule my SIL created for this process) They wanted one name for the family and their child has the new hyphenate as well of course. I know one or two other couples who have done that, several where the wife is hyphenated and not the husband, and several where the woman takes her name as her new middle name. I’d go with what feels right to you and just ignore anyone else; it isn’t their business. It took literally years until my parents could deal — they addressed packages to my husband to avoid using my name and then when we had the little hyphenated grandchildren, they would address things to just the hyphenated name — which was fine with us.

      The most common whine of the busybody was the ‘if you really loved him and were committed to the marriage you would take his name’ or some variation of that. Popular idea in the south. My response was, ‘well I agree a family name would be good but he didn’t want to give up his name and take mine so this is what we decided.’ Jackasses.

      As a side note. In my husband’s very large family of siblings, about half had wives who kept their own name and about half didn’t. My only sibling’s wife took his name. Every single one of the couples where the wife took the husband’s name in a first marriage divorced; that is 5 divorces. (each has remarried and most again took the same name and so far those marriages are intact) every one of the first marriages where wives kept her own name is still intact; that is 4 marriages. So this anecdotal sample does not suggest that taking the name of the spouse is a sign of a more solid marriage.

      1. Revanche*

        +10 to you for doing it in a time when it was even less well received than now. Everyone assumed I took my husband’s name when we married so I’ve made it a point to send a thank you card or note with new address labels that have both our names listed. If they still don’t take the nudge then I tell them point blank that my name hasn’t changed because of my marital status.

        Turns out most of my relatives do not routinely change their names upon marriage either so I wasn’t doing anything new but I’m happy being me by my original name.

    7. Mander*

      This is another one of those things where I just don’t understand why other people care. It’s your name, your marriage, and your choice. What business is it of theirs?

      I didn’t change mine, in part because it would have been a big hassle (as a foreigner I would have had to deal with all kinds of visa and passport fees on top of the usual problems changing names) and I just didn’t want to deal with it. I also had professional reasons to want to keep my own name. But ultimately it just didn’t seem important to change my name. It has no bearing on the strength of our relationship.

    8. Blue_eyes*

      PSA: If you don’t change your name, be prepared to get cards and checks addressed to Mr. And Mrs. HisLast. The checks are especially problematic because you can’t deposit them (you’d need to endorse them as Mrs.
      HisLast, and that’s not your name). Obviously I’m speaking from experience here ;). We had to ask a few people to re-issue their checks.

      I was like you, unsure what I wanted to do with my name. I eventually decided to keep it, because it’s my name, I’m the last person in my family with my last name, and I’m the only person in the world with my first/last name combo, which is pretty cool.

      1. Revanche*

        With mobile banking and mobile deposit though, you can! At least with my banks. I’ve deposited every check addressed to MyFirst HisLast without any problems to our joint account. And I signed MyFirst MyLast.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          You can, but your bank can also decide to not accept them. We considered just depositing them through the ATM, but some of them were quite large and we didn’t want to risk having the deposit held up.

      2. Mander*

        I’m the only one in the world with my name, too! Or at least, the only one google can find. My last name is pretty unique in general, which is another reason I wanted to keep it.

    9. Audiophile*

      I know a woman, she and her husband both changed their names. He was completely on board with changing his name, and hyphenating their last names. So both of their names are FirstName + HerLastName -HisLastName. I thought this was adorable and such a great way to start a marriage.

      1. Artemesia*

        I know several couples who have done this and my daughter who was already hyphenated created a new name with her husband of the first half of her hyphenated name (my name) with her husband’s name.

        We had a dinner party recently where we has 4 couples: one (us) each had their own last name, one had a hyphenated name of their two names, one had a common married name that was his name, and in one, she used a hyphenated name with his and he just used his original name. I felt like our little group pretty much covered the bases.

  49. Aknownymous*

    I’m at my parents’ place today, and my mom just launched into an entirely unprompted monologue about the virtues of natural pubic hair when I had no escape route. Sometimes, the more you know, the less you want to know. This would definitely be in that category.

    1. Thinking out loud*

      I can totally imagine my mother doing this. I feel your pain. (On the bright side, it makes a good story to tell over drinks later!)

    2. Aknownymous*

      I’m gonna need those drinks to erase all that information from my mind, that’s for sure! I actually could see myself doing it to my own kids in the future as well, for the sole purpose of embarrassing them. But my mom’s approach was so…earnest. Which makes it so much more horryfying!

    3. Victoria, Please*

      What on earth was she actually *talking* about? The difference between, I dunno, a brazilian and a bush, or…? Because I can’t imagine what someone would *actually say* about this.

  50. Rebecca*

    I downloaded an app to my phone called Map My Walk, and I’ve been using it since Monday to map out the distance on the various walking routes I take around my neighborhood. I don’t use it every time, and I think it’s pretty accurate as I drove the same routes in my car, and the distance the app is reporting is very close. For instance, I thought it was 3.4 miles to my parent’s house, and the app said 3.51 miles. On Memorial day, I walked 7.4 miles all at once, without stopping, a personal best!

    I am so glad I spent the extra money on moisture wicking Tek Gear and Fila Sport items from Kohl’s when they were on sale. No more feeling like I’m wearing soaking wet clothes when I’m walking. We’ve had temps here in the upper 80’s and low 90’s already (I’m in PA), and I do sweat, but my clothes don’t get soaked.

    Haven’t been able to ride my bike this week, though. I can go a few miles, but I think I’ll either have to walk or ride my bike for exercise for a while, but not do both. My legs just feel so weak, but people have told me I use a whole other muscle set biking vs walking. I am getting better at shifting the gears and I don’t feel as wobbly.

    I’m going to make some new iced tea today, just received my box of Stash fusion red, white, and blueberry tea (thank you Amazon!). I hope I like it since it’s a box of 100 :) Love that gallon sized jar with the spout for in the fridge.

    1. Emily*

      Wow, that’s a lot of walking! It sounds like the new clothes were a good investment.

      I hope you enjoy your bike and your new tea, too. :)

      1. Rebecca*

        I feel like little things bring so much joy, like trying a new tea or seeing a deer before she sees me. And once I was singing along with my .mp3 player, and 3 horses stared at me. LOL!

    2. StillHealing*

      That’s some hot weather! Does it go above 100 in the summer? That would be a bit difficult to exercise in. I love that “Map My Walk” AP! I synch it with another website where I take on weekly health challenges. Wow! You are doing great! 7.4 miles is awesome. Pain currently keeps me from doing more than 2 miles at a time. I’m hoping to resolve that issue fairly soon.

      1. Rebecca*

        Normally here it gets into the middle, maybe upper 90’s on a few days in the actual summer time, but the last few years have been odd. Very cold winter weather, like this past winter I recorded -14 F and for us that’s pretty cold, then virtually no spring. 60 days ago we had 6″ of snowfall. I can remember the temps hitting unofficial 100+ readings, but not often. And multiple +90 degree days in May is out of the ordinary. Today it fell into the low 60’s in short order after a group of T storms came through! I walked this past winter in below zero temps utilizing my down fur ruffed parka and insulated leggings. It was difficult, but I soldiered on. If it gets too hot, I wait until after sundown to walk, so at least the sun isn’t beating down on me. I just put on my reflective vest, grab my flashlight, and go to it.

        I hope you resolve your pain issue. I had plantar fasciaitis once (or however it’s spelled, too lazy to look it up) and man was that awful.

        1. StillHealing*

          Thank you. Good for you walking year round in some extreme conditions! Here in Seattle we usually don’t get extreme conditions like PA. My pain is a weird nerve pain or something on the top of one foot. Really odd. My primary doc took a look..nothing out of the ordinary. I used to have Plantar Fasciitis. It took s long time to heal from that!

          I’m getting a full on pedicure with leg massage and paraffin wax treatment as I type this……I’ve got Happy Feet today!

  51. Anonsie*

    I’ve been basically unable to sleep this week. I’ve been sleeping really lightly and briefly since last Monday, and I have no idea why. I’m not even tired the next day and wanting to nap, I’m just… Awake. I can’t even nap, I tried. I guess it’s stress but my overall stress level is a lot lower now than it was even just a week ago, so I don’t really know why this is only happening now.

    Normally when I have trouble sleeping I take melatonin but even upping the dose significantly has made no impact. I’ve also tried valerian and kava, which also did nothing. I’ve tried working out more during the day to try to get tired, taking hot baths, moving my meal times around, nothing. Benadryl and I don’t get along so I don’t want to try that… I don’t know what else to do. Are there any sleep aids or anything that actually work? And something that will work now because I need to be at work tomorrow, not going to therapy or something for stress overall. I just need to go the eff to sleep tonight.

    1. Today's anon*

      Things that I try when I am in your situation: make sure to turn off tv, devices, computer; make sure the bedroom is really dark; try to not eat right before bed; try to not drink too much before bed either; do some deep breathing; making sure I exercise, but not exercise in the few hours before bed, that tends to keep me awake. It might be worth trying to spend some time figuring out what might be causing this; sometimes it’s a small thing that gets lost in the shuffle but is there working in the brain because it is unrecognized and unacknowledged.

    2. fposte*

      What’s your weather like? I find that a bump in humidity (especially if it comes with heat, but even if the heat drops) really affects my sleep patterns. Could hormones dropping or rising be a factor?

      There’s also doxylamine succinate, but it’s another antihistamine, so if you don’t like Benadryl it’s probably not promising. There are sleep aids that actually work, but they’re prescription. If the pattern doesn’t break that could be an option, but right now it sounds like you feel fine, you’re just not sleeping much, so I’d just mess around with environmental and behavioral stuff.

    3. Girasol*

      I read that some of us – 25% of people, IIRC – need fresh air. Works for me. If it won’t come in of its own accord on a still night, then I put a fan in front of the open window.

    4. BRR*

      They have drinks in the store called Neuro. I have gotten the Neuro bliss for my anxiety and they seem to work (and I have pretty severe anxiety). They have one for sleep and my colleague accidentally drank one at work and said it worked pretty well.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My chiro told me no food two hours before bed. I don’t know why I find that hard. But I think it might be helping.

      Allergies? Sometimes if I am allergic to something it will give me extra energy- but not the good kind of energy.

      1. fposte*

        Unfortunately, that’s the same thing as Benadryl, which Anonsie said is a problem for her. (I’m a big fan, though!)

    6. JMW*

      You might try getting as much sunshine as possible during the day, as it helps to trigger sleep in darkness. Also Andrew Weil has a 4-7-8 breath technique that I have found helpful.

    7. Lulubell*

      I like sleep meditations – Meditation Oasis has one called Relax into Sleep Guided Meditation, and that always puts me out, though sometimes I have to listen to it twice. A hot shower before bed also makes me sleepy. Have you tried lavender essential oil (not fake lavender fragrance, but the pure essential oil)? A few drops on your pillow or an eye mask or a balm with that in it can help relaxation, studies have shown. Also, I forget where I read it, but some good advice that has helped me was that even when we aren’t sleeping, the act of laying down and closing our eyes is still replenishing. So even if you can’t fall asleep, try to enjoy the fact that you are laying down, comfortably in your bed, you don’t have to be anywhere else for those moments or hours, and you can close your eyes and just relax. Taking the pressure off “I must sleep” in this way, knowing that I am still doing something good for my body by laying down and being still, usually helps me fall asleep anyway. And if it doesn’t, at least I am still recharging.

      1. Anonsie*

        Ohh you know I have some really good lavender oil and an oil warmer. I usually put the lavender oil in the laundry for my sheets and pajamas and stuff but I’m also gonna put it in the warmer tonight and see if that helps. Normally I use eucalyptus in the warmer because I find it really soothing but adding lavender might be really nice.

    8. Windchime*

      I occasionally have trouble sleeping, too. Sometimes changing where I am trying to sleep will help. I’ll be wide awake in my bed, but as soon as I move to the sofa, boom–I’m out. I also use melatonin and benadryl at bedtime. Valerian root helps to keep me asleep; I don’t always use that but I start it up when I get into a cycle of not sleeping. Finally, I do suffer from anxiety so when my brain is spinning and I can’t sleep, I’ll take an anti-anxiety pill.

      I hope you are able to break out of the cycle soon. It’s so frustrating.

    9. Artemesia*

      I’ve had this problem all my life. Now that I am retired it is less a problem because I can catch up or sleep in in the morning (I seem to be able to fall asleep late in the morning) etc.

      Melatonin is not dose specific; if it is going to help a smallish does works. I use the kind that is slow dissolve 5 mg nightly and that helps going to sleep but not so much on the waking up at 4 am and not being able to sleep. Benadryl makes me crazy and wakeful — I get the full jittery response, so that is no good.

      One thing I wish I had discovered decades ago is Ambien. A very small dose like half a 5mg pill will help me sleep and usually also keep me asleep all night without hangover. I use it very sparingly — just when I know I really need a full night’s sleep, but just having it assures me that I CAN if necessary do something about sleeplessness and I think that alone helps. It is also invaluable for recovering from jet lag. I used to be exhausted after a flight to Europe and do all those things you are supposed to do like stay awake and spend time in the sun, but I would still not be able to sleep that first night or two. Using the sleep med breaks that and gets me on the new schedule easily.

      You would not want to use this every night, but once a week or so is not habit forming and it is a godsend if it works for you.

    10. Act Casual*

      Hello, fellow non-sleeper! I’ve tried a lot of different remedies as well. For some reason, taking an aspirin right before bed has been the best non-narcotic sleep aid for me. I’ve also used a cup of warm milk with a splash of vanilla. Sometimes a gentle yoga routine right before bed. The liquid form of melatonin really helped my dad when the other stuff didn’t. A fan, or some other white noise, helps me semi-meditate. Maybe it is something you’re consuming during the day that’s unknowingly hyping you up? Good luck to you – sending sleep and calm vibes your way.

      1. Anonsie*

        Maybe it is something you’re consuming during the day that’s unknowingly hyping you up?

        I feel like it must be something I changed this week– a lot of things changed over memorial day weekend that changed my schedule and I changed my diet and I changed some meds, so I turned everything back over to the way it was (well, except the schedule, can’t help that one) at the end of the week and it’s helping but not entirely. So part of it is probably going to be adjusting to some new things.

        I should try stretching, that’s probably a good idea. I finally just got a heavy yoga mat but I have yet to use it. Thank you!

    11. Steve G*

      I feel for you. On top of allergies keeping me up, there were crows or some kind of blackbird the size of my head outside this morning at 5 something that were so loud and wouldn’t leave. I had to shew them. Another 1/2 hour of sleep gone

      1. Artemesia*

        I used to wake up at 4 am — often still do — and that was when the birds started their day. I can remember sitting on the roof of a place I lived in (out the dormer window) at dawn and listening to the cacaphony of bird song at that hour. Makes going back to sleep hard.

        1. Anonsie*

          Oh god, I remember that. It doesn’t happen where I live now but I did when I loved in another part of the country. I am so happy I can have the windows open at night now without birds screaming in my ear in the morning!

          1. Steve G*

            I have a yard with birdbath here in NYC so welcome them, but I did feel like a bit of a caricature of a grumpy NYer or cartoon character, waving my fist and wincing at birds out the window at this hour. My friend was sleeping in the living room and he didn’t hear a thing, made me look crazy, LOL.

    12. Jean*

      I feel your pain. Insomnia stinks! Likewise stressing about getting enough sleep vs. having yet another night of sleep frustration.

      I find it very helpful to work on a sudoku puzzle when I get into bed. It’s completely non-verbal, so it helps the verbal part of my brain (which is almost always going 100 mph when I’m awake) slow down and down and down and finally STOP. At that point I’m able to put aside pen & paper, put my head down, and sleep.

      It also helps me to accept the journey of doing the sudoku instead of stressing out about whether or not I’ll be able to solve the puzzle.

    13. Mz. Puppie*

      Unfortunately this won’t help you right now but it could help tomorrow: call your doctor, ask for an Rx for Sonata. It’s a very short-acting sleep medicine — it makes you fall asleep, but it doesn’t make you stay asleep, so it’s much shorter-acting and has no hangover. None of the weird zombie-action side-effects that people report with Ambien.

      1. Anonsie*

        Hm, I might give it a shot. I already need to call the sleep medicine person I saw a few months ago about the wakefulness med they gave me (appealing to get my insurance to cover it still) so I might ask about that while I’m at it. I’ve been refusing to take Ambien for your noted reasons.

        I actually saw someone in sleep medicine because normally I have trouble staying awake, the EXACT opposite of what’s happening now.

  52. Today's anon*

    The daughter of a friend of mine is getting married. The wedding itself will be smallish and a number of the parents’ friends have not been invited but her parents are throwing a party for the couple a few weeks before the weeding for those of us not invited to the wedding. The couple is asking for gifts to make their honeymoon (in Costa Rica) easier. My first thought was to get a traveling set of fancy shampoo/soap/moisturizer but that would be more for the bride than for the couple so I am not sure if that is ok. I’ve met the groom but don’t know him at all. Does anyone have any ideas of nice gifts?

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Do they have a honeymoon registry? My first thought was if they’re specifically asking for honeymoon gifts, they must either have a honeymoon registry, or are asking more cash.

    2. BRR*

      I can’t speak for them but we also asked for gifts to do a honeymoon in Costa Rica. We asked for cash because we literally could not afford a honeymoon otherwise. By no means did we expect gifts from anybody but if they were generous enough to give we wanted/needed cash. To be frank, I would think of this as “great we have fancy soap but can’t afford to do this tour.” They have asked for what they want, the gift is for them, not for you.

      1. Today's anon*

        That is really helpful. I was thinking cash was too impersonal/crass since her mother did not directly tell me this (and in general my friend is pretty straightforward about these things). I am not sure if they need the cash to travel since it seems it is all planned already but cash is always useful for sure and can make for a more pleasant trip.

        1. BRR*

          We had to pay for things in advance out of savings and it left our emergency fund low. Sort of loaning ourselves the money for plane tickets and other things we needed to pay for in advance and then replenishing with the wedding gifts.

          It sounds like you might be able to directly ask. You can also get creative about it. Costa Rica has an exit tax of $29 USD per person. So if it was about what you would spend, you can write in the card, “Here’s $58 to cover your exit tax.”

        2. Natalie*

          For whatever it’s worth, I’ve never known anyone to balk at receiving a cash gift for their wedding.

          1. fposte*

            In general, though, it’s not like recipients refuse to accept wedding gifts no matter what they are. That’s about gifting, not just about cash.

            1. Natalie*

              Sure, but I’m thinking more about what people say privately, to friends. None of my friends who have gotten married have said anything negative about the impersonalness of cash. Especially compared to the weird off-registry but not-cash gifts a few have gotten.

        3. Alma*

          Remember that the newlyweds will want to pack light so they have room in their suitcases to bring items home. I would give them cash too, so they can enjoy excursions or tours, enjoy wonderful meals, and make memories. Having been to Costa Rica, there are lots of places to pick up sunscreen, soaps, etc.

          (It would be especially thoughtful for them to mention in thank you notes something like, “Percival and I were able to spend an afternoon taking snorkeling lessons/ riding the zip-line/ getting massages because of your kind gift. We have wonderful memories, and it was a real ‘get away’ for us.”)

    3. Thinking out loud*

      I’m not a big fan of honeymoon registries, as they are essentially just a way of asking for money – however, that’s what they’ve asked for, and unless they have a real registry also, you’re stuck. I would bow to their wishes and give them money.

      1. BRR*

        I’m curious why don’t like the concept of asking for money? Now I do think it needs to be done a certain way, we said something about how we were blessed with everything already and their presence was their gift but if people were inclined we’re trying to save for our honeymoon.

        We honestly would not have been upset to not have received a gift. But let’s be honest, gift giving is pretty engrained. We had towels, sheets, appliances, cookware, dishes, glasses, etc. The thing we didn’t have was money for a honeymoon.

        1. BRR*

          And in general I think as the trend seems to be for people to get married later and live together first that the traditional registry will be less common although it wont’ disappear completely. People either need help affording a honeymoon or help with their student loans.

        2. The Cosmic Avenger*

          It think it’s regional. Some areas/subcultures do it, and some don’t. Having grown up in NYC, it was really common to give cash or checks for any big event (wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, even kids’ birthdays). But in some areas it can be considered incredibly crude, and even a toilet seat cozy is considered a more “appropriate” gift (which, of course, is geared towards the conventional assumption that married couples are very young couples starting their own households for the first time).

          [I’M NOT SAYING THIS MAKES SENSE, I’M TRYING TO POINT OUT HOW SOME PEOPLE THINK. Apparently, based on the reactions to some of my comments earlier this week, many commenters think that pointing out someone else’s thought process means you think that way yourself.]

        3. Anonyby*

          Agreed. I have friend that are getting married later this year, and the registry link on their website emphasized that the (listed cash) gifts were optional, and that having us there was gift enough. And while they were all cash options, it did include money for their honeymoon and charity as part of it.

          They’re also 1/3 of three couples renting a house together, and the other two couples have gotten married in the past year. They have no need or even SPACE for traditional wedding gifts.

      2. Kai*

        Money is a wonderful wedding gift. My husband and I didn’t overtly ask for it, but the people who gave us cash helped us have a really wonderful honeymoon–we were able to splurge on nice meals and activities that we wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I believe they want cash to make paying for the honeymoon easier. Perhaps your friend was trying to hide the fact that they’re asking for money by not saying the word cash, but, yeah, that’s what they’re asking for and that’s what they want. IMO it will be more appreciated than what you’re thinking of because they probably can’t afford the honeymoon they want without help and credit cards.

    5. skyline*

      I come from a culture where gifts of money are just fine, and I totally appreciate that. However, if that doesn’t really work for you, some gifts you might consider are things like travel neck pillows, packing cubes, etc. My sister had a wedding registry with lots of travel gear when she got married, as she and her spouse were in their mid-30s and didn’t need or weren’t interested in most traditional gifts. They used the gifts on their trip later that year to SE Asia.

    6. Today's anon*

      Thank you all, this was really helpful! I will give cash. Is a check in a nice card the way to go?

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’d say yes–especially since they’ll receive it in time to deposit it, so the money is accessible to them. And a check has an extra level of security if it gets lost or the card gets stolen.

        I like the idea of writing something like, “We hope you can use this to enjoy the waters off Costa Rica” or “Have a nice dinner on us!” or “Maybe this will help you go on a tour or excursion.”

  53. fposte*

    I took a couple of days off this week after finishing a big project and found a new iPad game I really like: Wonderputt. It’s miniature golf, basically, but in a sunnily weird and inventive world (aliens hoover up the cows that graze the greens down on a couple of holes) and with a lovely Zen soundtrack going on.

    1. Arjay*

      I’m currently enjoying Bears vs. Art. It’s from the Fruit Ninja people, and it’s this bear in an art museum who goes around slashing all the art. (He’s upset about the loss of his habitat from the people building the museum.) There are variations in the levels where he has to avoid people, avoid security, run into all the people, etc. Some of the rounds are time-based, but a lot of them are move-based, so it’s mostly a puzzle game. I just love how weird it is!

  54. Kimberlee, Esq.*

    Hey guys! I’m wondering if you can help me think through something. My sister is a smart person with a lot of great skills, but as of late has been really struggling to hold down a job, in large part because her son (who I think just turned 3) tends to get sick a lot, poor guy. She has health insurance for him through the state, but that doesn’t really help when it’s something fairly minor but the daycare won’t keep him. So, she has to leave work to pick him up and take care of him, or ends up having to call out from work at the last second because she can’t take him to daycare.

    This has resulted in her losing some jobs, which means she has no money, which means of course she can’t pay for a babysitter. Her kid’s father (and his wife) do help out, and that’s been great, but there was a time recently where it was the evening, and my sister was certain the poor little guy was going to get worse overnight and that they’d be in the hospital by morning (he has a set of medical issues that are sometimes predictable like that). The father and his wife were away on vacation, and my sister was set to start the first day of a new job the next day… a day she’d have to call out.

    Are there any parents out there with poor little sicky kids? How do you deal? Any advice you can give her? I’ve been considering sending money, but this sister asked for my help once before, and thus owes me a fairly substantial amount of money. I leant it happily, under the presumption that it was a gift and I’d never see it again, but I’m fairly certain now that she won’t ask for help again, knowing that she owes me money she hasn’t paid back yet, and I’d feel weird about just offering it? Not to mention that I have no idea whether I could afford an amount that would actually be helpful. Collective wisdom of AAM, what are your thoughts?

    1. Purr purr purr*

      One of the guys at my work, who’s a single Dad, had a kid who was sick a lot. He was frequently absent from work and his job security was shaky as a result. Ultimately, he found someone who was a stay-at-home parent in his general neighbourhood and paid them to look after his kid for the day. They were cheaper than a regular babysitter because they were going to be at home anyway and the mother of the other kid appreciated the extra money that was coming in. Perhaps an arrangement like that could work for your sister?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        My friend ran a day care at her house because she had the grandkids anyway, so why not? She kept the head count low so she did not have to get license. Yeah, I know, you have to really know the person. Years later, I met the mother of one of these kids, the mom said my friend saved her life. She could not have managed any other way. I am sure my friend was not getting a lot of money for this, either. It worked well for my friend because she got to stay home still earn some income.
        Ask around, see if one or two names regularly pop up. Usually you find these people by word of mouth.

    2. Revanche*

      We have been struggling with finding childcare ourselves and one thing that was really helpful was my husband’s work offers a limited back up care service: you apply for a back up care provider for the day you need it as far as a month or as little as a day in advance so this helps in those situations when you’re not allowed to drop the kid at daycare. I wonder if she could find someone who would appreciate a little bit of extra income in her neighborhood that was a good carer to serve in that capacity. And if you wanted to help out, you could occasionally pitch in for a day or even a few hours of care which presumably wouldn’t be exorbitant?

      We’ve known quite a few grandparents types of family who would be happy to lend a hand with something like this because they enjoy kids, if perhaps she lives near an area where the population skews a little older, she might inquire if that’s something people do?

  55. Bea W*

    This is a long shot. I wear an event monitor and the connection on my upper chest tends to itch like a bass turd. I use the electrodes for sensitive skin with the breathable fabric and it’s not really causing much visible irritation but the darn thing itches like f*ck. It wakes me up or I feel it as part of my dream. Any suggestions? The lower one is not so itchy. They’re supposed to be good for up to 3 days but I yank that top one off every morning when I shower because…ugh! The skin looks fine. It’s not breaking out or anything. It just itches.

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Interesting! Assuming you’ve tried topical cortisols, you might ask your doctor about a prescription allergy medicine. I had random, unexplained itching that my doc couldn’t ascribe to any specific allergy, but she put me on a really cheap, general prescription for allergies (Hydroxyzine) and I’ve been fine ever since.

      1. fposte*

        Would a dose of Benadryl or Claritin be worth a try in the meantime?

        (And you may just have explained my random itchiness this spring, which I didn’t connect to its being a really bad allergy year.)

        1. Bea W*

          I’m on allergy meds daily for seasonal allergies. It’s been a horrible year for that. I did pick up some Benedryl cream on my way home after posting this. That seems to have helped. I found another brand of electrodes in my med drawer. They are a bit smaller and a different brand. So far, so good. The ones that were giving me issues are “hypoallergenic” for senstive skin. My mother actually had this issue after surgery when they used a bandage with a “hypoallergenic” adhesive. Turned out she was allergic to it.

          I get random itchy flakey skin during allergy season even when using moisturizer. I never really connected it to allergies either. You might be on to something there. Every spring/summer I wonder why I tend to get irritated skin, especially on my arms and legs – you know, the parts that are exposed in warm weather.

          1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

            Yeah, for me, I’d get random itchy parts of my skin, and I’d scratch just a bit, and they’d start to itch uncontrollably and spread as a rash all over. I did a whole bunch of allergy testing, and the doctors came out with a list of various seasonal allergies, but nothing that would trigger any of the symptoms I actually had. But, this $5/month hydroxyzine has really done the trick, I can see a lessening of seasonal allergies that I used to take Claratin for, and I haven’t had a single rash outbreak since I started taking it. Maybe you just need to mix up your allergy cocktail? Hydroxyzine doesn’t get prescribed much, I get the impression, because you need to get a solid 8 hours of sleep a night for it to not really mess with your sleep (it makes you really drowsy, so I take it at night, but if I take it too late it’s REALLY hard to get up in the morning).

            1. Bea W*

              I learned something new! My background is (was originally – not in that field for a very long time now) psych, and hydroxyzine was (back 20+ years ago) was commonly prescribed for anxiety and to help people sleep. I had no idea it was an antihistamine.

              Claratin stopped doing the trick for me several years ago, and I switched over to Zyrtec. Then I was able to get Allegra 1/2 off and tried that, and that worked really well and I got no tiredish feeling at all, but it didn’t get it on the super awful days when I’d have to go back to Zyrtec…or this spring when I was talking both and had to toss in some Flonase for about a week or two. That was fun. Not.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Adhesive is the first thing I thought of. I had a friend who was allergic to the adhesive on bandaids.

        2. Bea W*

          These are the hypoallergenic ones. :-/ As I just mentioned to fposte, my mother had a similar reaction to “hypoallergenic” adhesive on a bandage. The adhesive on bandaids doesn’t bother me at all. So I’m a little perplexed I’m having issues. My skin clearly does not like something on these. There is no way I am leaving them on 2 or 3 days straight.

          1. TL -*

            You could be allergic to the hypoallergenic ones – it’d be weird, but it’s not like they don’t contain anything you couldn’t be allergic to; they just avoid common allergens. So if you haven’t tried the normal ones, they might be worth a shot.

          2. fposte*

            “Hypoallergenic” has no legal meaning; what it probably means on the label is “has less of the thing that a lot of people are allergic to.” You may be allergic to something else entirely–or it may be a sensitivity reaction that isn’t an allergy.

            I think it’s worth just cycling through brands to see what results you get.

    2. Coach Devie*

      I itch and break out with a rash in the shape of it with certain kinds of band-aids. You may be allergic to the adhesive. There are options for people with this sensitivity.

  56. Purr purr purr*

    Is anyone working / has worked through the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain book? Did it work for you?

    I started a while ago and got busy with work. I didn’t make it that far through but now I’m thinking I might start up again as something to do in the evenings.

    1. Bea W*

      We used this book in an art class I took 20 years ago. I found it really helpful. It was one of the few books I didn’t sell back to the book store.

    2. Drawing*

      I had it, but didn’t really use it much in art school. We used The Natural Way to Draw in class, and I supplemented with Bridgeman’s Constructive Anatomy & tips from my instructors.

    3. catsAreCool*

      I’ve read it. I liked it. I had already been drawing on my own for years though. I liked the advice.

  57. Clever Name*

    I wore mascara to the symphony last night (a night with Star Wars) and remembered why I normally don’t wear mascara. I spent the evening with blurry vision because minuscule flakes kept falling into my eyes, which then got irritated.

    So, does anyone have a recommendation for a mascara that doesn’t flake off? I really don’t care about lengthening or volume or any of that stuff. Just something black I can smear on my eyelashes that won’t flake into my eyes later.

    1. Natalie*

      I just got Mac’s Extended Play and I like it. I’m not a big mascara person (my eyelashes tend to clump together and look tarantula-y) but it looks pretty nice, doesn’t flake, and comes off easily with warm water.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      I really like Maybelline Full ‘n Soft. There are no bells and whistles about it…just nice fluffy lashes.

    3. Marcela*

      You could try any “tubes” mascara. Instead of the usual oil and wax formulas, tubing mascara is made up of a polymer formula that wraps around each lash. They are removed with a small pressure and just warm water, and in my experience they resist almost everything, tears, rubbing, even swimming pools. There are expensive ones, such as the Blinc mascara, which I liked it very much, but it’s $25, if I’m remembering correctly, and cheaper ones, such as the CoverGirl LashBlast Fusion (the one in the purple tube). L’Oreal also have one, but I don’t remember now its name.

      1. Lindsay J*

        I haven’t heard about this before. I’m going to have to give one of these a try and see if they work better for me than regular mascara.

    4. No Longer Passing By*

      my mascara choices are expensive but I love them: Lorac, DiorShow, and Benefit Bad Girl. I tried TooFaced Better Than Sex but it wasn’t….

      1. Coach Devie*

        I love Dior show. It is one of my favs and something I always have on hand.

        But I’ve never had problems with mascara, and I’ve used the more expensive and the less expensive drug store brands. Maybe only choose the “waterproof” ones?

      2. Elizabeth West*

        My sister got me some Mally volumizing mascara and I HATE HER BECAUSE I LOVE IT AND IT IS $20 A TUBE.
        I like to put it on and then put waterproof mascara on top of it–it stays on if I cry or my eyes water, but it’s easy to remove at the end of the day.

    5. salad fingers*

      Also, this happens sometimes when my mascara is old. Something to consider.

      1. Clever Name*

        Yeah, I was wondering if that was a factor. Especially since I so rarely wear it.

        1. Mz. Puppie*

          Yes, this. It was too old and that’s why it flaked into your eyes. Next mascara you buy, put a label on it with the date of expiration (6 months from purchase date). Maybelline Great Lash is classic and will work for you. You are sensitive to mascara with lengthening fibers (which then dry up and fall off into your eyeball), so avoid anything that really advertises “lengthening”. You might also want to avoid tubing mascara, as those tubes can fall off before you remove them, irritating your eyes. I’m a fellow sensitive-eyes person, and when I’m doing inexpensive, Maybelline Great Lash is my go-to.

          1. Marcela*

            Tube mascaras do not actually contain “tubes”, like the fibers some dual primers/mascaras use to make lashes bigger. They are called like that because their polymer formula covers the lashes forming “tubes” around lashes.

            Curiously, my experience with Great Lash was horrible. It was almost unnoticeable and it left me with racoon eyes. I bought it when it was relaunched in Spain, because it was a classic, and it was such a deception… Luckily it was very cheap, so I wasn’t too angry when I tossed it to the trash.

    6. Otter box*

      I love the Clinique Lash Power mascara. Stays on all day and doesn’t flake off at all. Also goes on so much easier than most other mascaras I’ve used.

      1. Marcela*

        I really want to try this tube mascara. I love the Clinique High Impact, but it gives racoon eyes.

  58. AnonTenant*

    Tell my landlord that my boyfriend has moved in, or hope he never finds out? Ask permission to fix up the apartment or ask forgiveness if necessary?

    Continuing my posts from a few weeks ago, my boyfriend has moved in to my lovely apartment in the Bay Area. I am so so happy to be here and make this place ours.

    The catch is: I haven’t told my landlord. My lease is only for me. It says specifically that no one can stay cumulatively 14 days in a year (so I broke that part of the lease after just a few months of dating, by letting him stay over). Again, he’s never around and never checks in (it’s been 2 years in this apartment). I am afraid he will use it as an opportunity to raise my rent because I broke the terms. I’d happily pay more for the water bill though, which is landlord-paid; that’s totally legit. Should I email him an FYI, or a can he move in (but he already has so this seems like a bad answer)? Or just not say anything?

    I can keep quiet, but I’d also like to eventually ask permission to fix the place up a bit, and worry he might find out then. Do I need to ask? For example, to take out a cabinet and turn it into a more functional closet space, or replace the old peeling linoleum floor in the kitchen?

    He’s been renting this place continuously for 13 years and hasn’t done any renovations. I don’t think he’d mind at all. But should I ask permission, or ask forgiveness later?

    1. Soupspoon McGee*

      I don’t have advice on the the extra person.

      As for renovations, definately ask. As long as you’re paying for them yourself, he won’t care –but you may be able to ask for a discount on a month’s rent if you pay for flooring, for example. It’s to his benefit and yours.

    2. BRR*

      Do you think your landlord is itching to raise the rent? If not I would ask if your bf can move in. If yes you could try and keep quite unless the water bill would tip off your landlord or if somebody would inform him (we’re pretty sure our landlord has friends in our building to keep an eye out). Definitely don’t do an FYI. You can’t really do an FYI that is against the terms of a contract.

      Fixing up:
      ASK. Do not do anything altering the apartment without asking. Even if it’s an improvement, your landlord can take it out of the security deposit to “fix” it. If you change anything, even if you are funding it, you need to do it on your landlord’s terms. It is their place after all.

      The fixing up might help the bf thing go over better.

      1. AnonTenant*

        Good, yes, the resounding ASK FIRST from you and Soupspoon is exactly what I needed to hear regarding the fixes. I haven’t ever so much as put a nail in the wall, so I’m definitely down for being respectful of his property.

    3. fposte*

      Are there going to be any parking issues with an extra tenant? In a lot of places that’s the big issue, and it’s one that gets fellow tenants complaining to landlords.

      1. TL -*

        dealing with this now at my apartment and it’s annoying. Not awful, by any means, but it is irritating.

      2. AnonTenant*

        Excellent question. My rent includes the parking space in the driveway, but I don’t have a car, so I let the downstairs neighbors use it. Sometimes I let them know if I need it for a rental or a friend visiting, but usually I don’t. My boyfriend has a car and I’d like to ask the neighbors for the space back, but that also forces me to divulge the move-in situation. I don’t think they’d be spiteful and tell the landlord, but I have to be pretty sure about that (or only ask once I’ve come clean to the landloard).

    4. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I moved my bf into my studio apartment four years ago yesterday. I had lived there alone for almost 8 years. Part-time doormen, live-in super… No one blinked. In fact, they loved him and they were thrilled to see me coupled up. :-). We lived there together for 11 months.

      However…. my apartment was managed by a company, not a private landlord. It was a decently sized building. I was an exceptionally good tenant (for them) and I had been there a while. So while I would say nothing, stay on your toes and lay a bit low.

  59. MsChanandlerBong*

    I may be too late to get a response, but here goes.

    My husband and I are moving cross-country in September. We have five cats. I have no idea how we are going to make it work with them. We looked into flying them to our destination, but the airlines limit the number of pets you can take with you on the plane, and putting them in with the cargo is cost-prohibitive (you have to buy special cages to the tune of $75 a pop, plus it’s like $225 per cat for the transport). I found a company that flies pets specifically, but they don’t go to our destination. The closest drop-off point is still 10 hours from where we’re going to be living. So, we’ll be taking them in the car, but what do we do about hotels? There are pet-friendly hotels, but they seem to have limits on the number of pets you can have. We’d be willing to book two rooms, if necessary, but most places limit you to two pets per a room, so we’d still have one extra cat. Camping isn’t an option because we won’t have room in the car to transport camping equipment. We looked into boarding the cats overnight at each stop (we will be stopping in Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas); however, you need to have your pets to the kennel by 5 or 6 p.m. each day. What if we hit construction/accidents and don’t make it in time?

    Does anyone have any other suggestions? Know of a hotel chain that would allow five cats without charging us a ton of money? Have an idea I didn’t consider?

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Could you call and ask the hotle if they will be let you have more pets than the limit and maybe offer some more money for cleaning the room afterwards? Or if you’re stopping one night in each place could you not just play dumb for the pet limit per room it’s not likely that anyone will notice or care.

    2. BRR*

      I might try and book two rooms and just sneak a third cat into one. There are certain chains that allow pets and I would take not so in case you have a back up you can stop at.

    3. The Other Dawn*

      Honestly, I’d go with sneaking in the extra kitties. It’s just one night. As long as they don’t decide to start howling or get really rambunctious, I highly doubt anyone would know. Good luck!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Yeah, especially since it’s just an overnight visit; it’s not like you’re going to have maid service or other hotel staff coming in the room and noticing.

        1. De Minimis*

          I think with cats it might be easier to sneak one in….

          We used La Quinta a lot when moving with our dogs, and the way some of them were set up you could get to your room without going past the front desk so they wouldn’t know if you had an extra kitty. It would really depend on the particular hotel though–but in our travels we’ve only seen on La Quinta where you had to go past the desk to get to your room.

          1. Mz. Puppie*

            Yup, yup, yup. Lie like a rug about how many cats. It’s not going to make any difference anyway.

          2. Lindsay J*

            Even if you do have to go past the front desk – I worked as a night auditor for awhile and I had so much going on that it took a lot to get me to care about anything I didn’t have to care about. And the evening shift person was even busier than I was.

            If you walked by with a couple cat carriers, then a few minutes later walked past with a couple more, I would be hardpressed to notice, never mind care. Especially as if I did confront you about it I would then have more problems in front of me – the extra animals would have to go somewhere. You would likely be upset about the inconvenience of extra charges if I tried to charge them so then I would have to deal with you being upset and perhaps demanding to speak to someone above me (nobody above me would be around, but people don’t like to hear that and so it makes it more difficult to deal with them) or complaining about it on a survey or Yelp or something in which case I would be hassled about it later. If you or I canceled the reservation my boss would be unhappy if I couldn’t fill that room later in the night (and if you had already entered the room I would be responsible for ensuring it was cleaned up to standards as housekeeping had already gone home). In the meantime my phone would be ringing off the hook, I would have people forming a line to check in or get extra toiletries or wanting me to call them a taxi or ask questions about local attractions, I might have someone angry and complaining about noise or cleanliness or something else while I’m handling your issue.

            Much easier to just pretend I didn’t see it unless it was something that was going to upset other guests or cause more problems than confronting you in the first place would.

      2. Lindsay J*

        Yeah, this is what my ex and I did while moving cross country. We had a dog and two cats and some snakes. We booked pet friendly hotels and nobody was the wiser that we had extra critters past the limit.

    4. danr*

      There are pet hotels and boarding places around. Or, see if you can have your cats stay overnight at a veterinarian’s office. Your vet might be able to help.

    5. Trixie*

      Definitely third cat in one of the rooms, plus I asked my vet for sedatives when I’ve moved. Just the tiniest amount (quarter pill) can really help mellow them out either in the car or hotel room. If you had time between now and moving, you could take the cats out for short drive in their carriers and help them get reacquainted/relaxed in car. Mine usually just sleeps once they relax and get used to the car. I also keep their carriers elevated so they can out the windows and covered so they feel like they’re hiding.

    6. Coach Devie*

      Sneak the fifth wheel into the room/rooms. They won’t notice. Traveling with pets is a workout!! best wishes.

    7. Jean*

      Are there societies of animal lovers, cat lovers, cat rescue groups, etc. located in towns or regions on your route? Maybe you could contact these people and see about informal boarding arrangements, e.g. a household that not only could take in an overnight cat but would be fine with the guest arriving after 5 or 6 p.m. What you need is the feline version of AirBnB!

      Another idea: can you find a reliable, cat-loving college student or other person going your way (more or less) who could transport one or two of your kitties?

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Great idea! I didn’t think of that one. People foster cats for months, so I might be able to find someone willing to do it for one night in each town.

    8. Artemesia*

      We moved a couple of years ago with just one cat. It was a 12 hour drive with two cars and my husband had just been ill and was not sure he could do that drive in one day, so I researched pet friendly motels along our path. There were very VERY few. When we got about 60% there we decided to stop for the night and I called one of the hotels and we were fine for that night with the cat.

      If I were you, I would plan my stop (or have several potential hotels in hand) and book two rooms and put 3 in one room. Get motels where you load into the room from the parking lot and not through the lobby and don’t worry about it.

    9. Bea W*

      My friend moved from Colorado to DC with 3 cats. She drove and stayed overnight at various La Quinta hotels along the way because they are pet friendly. I can’t recall if there was a 2 pet limit (or if that was her apartment complex), but for staying one night and getting on the road the next morning, you might be able to get away with smuggling in an extra cat into one of the rooms. No one will notice.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Thanks for the recommendation. We’re going the opposite way (Pennsylvania to Albuquerque, NM), but the principle is the same. After today, I can’t wait to move (I have lupus, and humidity seems to be what triggers my worst flares; I am only really bad in July and August, when it is like 90+ percent humidity every day). It’s SO muggy and disgusting out, even though it’s only 70 degrees. I am looking forward to dry air!

        1. Jean*

          OMG. As someone who has spent her whole life in the Humidity Belt (midwest & mid-Atlantic) I have total climate envy for your forthcoming move. Am grateful that my humidity aversion is based on aesthetics, not health.
          tl;dr: Enjoy living in a place where you don’t want to wring out the air.

        2. Bea W*

          You’ll probably be taking some of the same route in reverse. I remember her coming through Ohio and then PA on the last leg. It really wasn’t that bad, except for the last part in where they ran into weather (it was January). Every so often she mentions that road trip, but only the part about her terrible experience driving in PA. The rest of it was pretty uneventful and boring.

  60. Buu*

    Anyone else watching Jonathon Strange & Mr Norrel? it’s a really good adaptation of the fantasy book, but it seems like it’s getting less buzz than I’d expect. It has full on BBC period drama costume and acting, plus awesome magic.

    1. Cruciatus*

      It starts in the U.S. on BBC America on June 13th so if you ask around then I imagine you will get more comments! Here on BBCA they’ve been airing the commercials nonstop, but I suppose one has to already be watching that channel. It doesn’t come in all cable packages.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      There’s a (small) thread further up about it (see: blamonge) and a good review/blog of the episodes so far can be found on The Guardian’s website.

  61. Jill 2*

    I need to figure out financial planning for my future, but I suck at budgeting, and I get so overwhelmed when I think of all the expenses to come in my life. Mortgage, kids, college tuition, health care, retirement. How do people do it? I seriously can’t figure it out. I truly don’t mean to sound like a jerk, but I make a decent enough salary (certainly above the average), have mutual fund investments, really started saving for retirement around the age of 26 (so, again, not great, but I know better than others) — and I feel like I won’t make it to 50.

    I try to search online, but I mostly get overwhelmed and want to hide in a hole. I’m not young anymore, so that’s not a constructive solution.

    How did you guys figure out your finances, and what are your recommendations on how to get my head around this stuff? It really seems to me like you have to be a millionaire to even come close to making this work. With people living longer, rising health care costs, and rising tuition, is that the reality no one wants to talk about?

    1. fposte*

      Google for William Bernstein’s free pamphlet “If You Can”–I’ll post the link separately, but I don’t know if Alison’s approving link posts for a while. Have a look at forums like Mr. Money Mustache (which is pretty extreme low-budget living) and my personal favorite, the Bogleheads, which also have an excellent wiki.

      But basically, Live Below Your Means and put money away on a regular basis, preferably automatically through payroll so you don’t have to even think about it. (Not that you can necessarily change this, but I’ve benefited tremendously from living in flyover country, where everything costs less and where the Joneses don’t take a lot of keeping up with.)

    2. fposte*

      Forgot to answer “How did you do it?” That’s “I found the Bogleheads.” Sounds like a religious statement, but it was just reading the forums where people sorted out the problems for posters over and over and over again and asking some of my own.

      Do you have and keep a budget? If not, that’s an important start–you need to know where your money’s already going before you can put it somewhere else.

    3. Sunshine Brite*

      You could browse personal finance blogs and see if any resonate with you. Some of them have some really good tips or just good motivation on how to make your money work for you.

    4. danr*

      forget about the online stuff. You have a good start.
      First, track all your expenses. Almost all discretionary spending is on credit cards and we usually pay them off every month. Utilities, mortgage or rent, insurance, commuting costs and medical payments are all tracked. Next, track all of your investments, savings and bank accounts. Now, factor in an allowance for your spending and food. I found that the little extra bits of cash from the allowances add up very fast and give you a peace of mind cushion. After a few months of tracking you will have a good idea of how well you are really doing.

    5. Natalie*

      I might be off base, but it sounds like you’re getting overwhelmed with the choices and options, and responding to that by doing nothing.

      Unless you really like investing and trading and stuff, let go of the idea that you’re going to optimize this. Especially if that’s keeping you from starting at all. Just worry about the basics:

      Put money away on the regular for 3 things: retirement, emergency fund, other (trips, mortgage, car, skydiving, etc).

      Keep your portfolio diverse. If you don’t enjoy stock trading, chuck your “stock” section in an index fund and ignore it. Managed funds don’t beat the market, so don’t bother paying for them. Those target date funds are nice for retirement, as they automagically shift the balance of stocks and bonds as you get older.

      Automate and life hack where possible. I have money deposited directly from my paycheck to a cash savings account at a different bank because “out of sight” works best for me. Some people put everything on their credit card for the cash back and then pay it off. Do things that work for you.

      Periodically review big picture stuff (your bank, your brokerage, etc).

    6. Treena Kravm*

      I’m still pretty young, and I’m not doing much of what I’m “supposed” to do, but I know that I’m supposed to be doing it! When I was 16, I bought 3 books on finance for young people and studied up for mostly fun. I’ve got credit card debt done, put a ton into retirement, but other than that I haven’t done much. My husband and I still have some 65k in student loans and we don’t even have a real emergency fund.

      My advice is just to read for fun/research without thinking too much about yourself, then you can start making decisions. Find a couple of places online you like to read and keep it in your rotation of stuff you keep up with.

    7. Graciosa*

      Dave Ramsey has an app to budget every dollar and enable you to track your spending on your cell phone. You might want to google it and take a look at his approach – see if it resonates with you.

      Personally, while I like a lot of his financial advice – but not all of it – I don’t do well tracking anything in this much detail. I look at things in percentages, which has worked well as my salary changes. I assign percentages to big items (401k, other savings and investments) which come out of my paycheck automatically. That way I know I’m taking care of it without a lot of additional effort. Everything else goes into my checking account and I’m allowed to spend it however I wish. I know my basic living expenses (housing, utilities, food, etc. – also as a percentage) and when they come out of my account, so I can manage it fairly well without too much effort.

      The important thing is that you need a method or system that works for you. If you try to force yourself to pick a method that doesn’t fit with your habits and way of thinking, it won’t work. Or worse – you could get lost and overwhelmed by the huge amount of advice available and not pick anything.

      Just take one step at a time, focus on the basics, and remember that if it isn’t making sense to you, try something else until you find what does.

      Good luck.

    8. SilverRadicand*

      I have tried a number of different budgeting/tracking programs and methods and have found Mint.com to be the easiest when tracking my expenses. It is totally free, though it does have some ads. But once you’ve added your accounts/credit cards, it tracks purchases automatically and you can set up a budget with it, along with goals you are saving towards (trips, car, etc.), and see where you are at on a real-time basis. Free iOS (and maybe android) app lets you log-in and see as well. I also track my retirement savings on it, though that mainly provides me with balance graphs.
      Since the tracking is usually the hardest part, habit-wise, it has helped me to confront my spending habits and adjust them (or my budget) accordingly so I can see where I really am at.

      Other than that, the two Golden Rules of Savings are:
      Spend less than you make
      Save money where you won’t touch except in actual emergencies.
      As fposte mentions, savings is easiest if it is automatic. Check with your bank or workplace to arrange that.

    9. Lisa McS*

      I read The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs ages ago, and it really helped me figure out what was — and more importantly, what wasn’t– import to me. You might try her approach (she has a nice website) for a way to get a handle on financial planning.

  62. fposte*

    I just finished a lovely phone call with a friend of mine who just turned 100 last month; she remains wonderful, and her life is more interesting than mine–she got to see Michelle Obama and Marian Wright Edelman speak at Oberlin’s commencement last week and said they were amazing, and she’s got a sequence of visitors coming throughout the year to celebrate. If I make it to 100, I’m going to try hard to do it her way.

    1. danr*

      An uncle of mine was that way. We celebrated his 100th in style and he spoke to everyone who came, young and old.

    2. Mimmy*

      Amen fposte! My husband’s aunts and uncles are in the 90s; one just turned 101 a few months ago; they all still live independently (though one is going into Assisted Living in a few months). They are physically frail, as to be expected, but I’m amazed at how intact their mental abilities still are.

      I do think a positive attitude is key. God bless your friend.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      Some of these older folks are awesome. I had a 100 year old neighbor who painted her house. On a ladder. Three stories. She remained in her home until her passing about seven years later.

      I was so humbled, okay, I was ashamed that I would not climb that high at age 30.

      Another 80 something y/o woman I know of one day realized her food cupboard was getting a little bare. Food stamps just would not stretch. She went out and got herself a deer. Dragged it home with her tractor. Canned the meat. She said she had enough meat to last her a few years.

      Again, humbling to listen to these stories.

      It’s mind-set. And it is also the knowledge and skills you have accumulated over your life. If you are used to painting in high places or used to getting your own meats then it’s familiar to you. It was a privilege to watch these people and see how they used what they had learned all their lives to their own advantage later in life. But their physical agility really slays me!

    4. Bea W*

      That’s awesome. If I’m 100 that’s how I want to be. I had a cousin who lived to be 102. By all accounts she was active and sharp as a tack. I kick myself for not getting in touch with her – all that family history and fascinating stories of 100+ years living in the same town in the same house and living through a century of change and progress gone!

  63. Sunflower*

    Oh boy this week was a doozy. Found out my ex ‘boyfriend’, who got engaged about 6 months ago, recently ended his engagement. We dated about 4 years ago- He was engaged to a girl he met while we were dating. We were monogamous but he told me he couldn’t get serious with anyone right now. Then one day I found out he was seriously dating her, planning to move across the country to be with her. He continued to call me, text me while they were together. It was just bad all around and I had a beyond hard time dealing with all of it. However, I worked through it and eventually I was at peace with everything.

    So now he’s been contacting me and wants to ‘see what happens’. Beyond simply everything that happened in the past, i just don’t have feelings for him/not attracted to him anymore. I also don’t really have any interest in being friends with him either. But i can’t bring myself to tell him ‘don’t contact me’ just yet. IDK what’s going on in my head here. So I’m not sure what to say to him. I’ve already told him that I’m not sure i want to be friends with him and he is telling me that it’s a no pressure situation but it kind of is. He admits he was an a-hole for what he did to me in the past and he’s in a different spot now but I kind of don’t really care. Not sure if I’m looking for advice or just ranting. It’s just weird to come to terms with a bad situation that deeply changed you as a person and then the situation changes.

    1. fposte*

      Do you know what you want?

      I don’t like the sound of his calling and texting you while he was with somebody else–that’s not a great character mark, and you’ve already correctly assessed that there is pressure here. What if you said “Give me two months to think about this”? That’s not the same as saying you never want to hear from him again. And the way he responds to this might be illuminating as well–if he bitches and pushes, then he’s about his convenience, not what you want.

    2. Observer*

      So let’s look at what you know:

      You are not terribly attracted to him anymore
      You know he lied to you
      You know he didn’t treat his ext gf well – trying to keep a relationship going with an ex while getting engaged to someone else is seriously ugly.
      You know it took you a lot of time and effort to get over him the last time he messed you over.