weekend free-for-all – June 13-14, 2015

LucyThis 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: The Pursuit of Love, by Nancy Mitford. I’m reading this right now and, eeek, it’s so good, how did I not read this earlier? It’s hilarious and beautifully written and perfect for reading under a bunch of blankets with a cup of tea.

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

{ 896 comments… read them below }

  1. Ally*

    Any tips on being more active/getting more fit? I work long hours (12 hr days) so I’m exhausted by the time I get home!

    1. nep*

      Possible to fit in some exercise before work? With such a packed daily schedule, it’s often the best way to go — starting one’s day with a workout. Keep in mind that getting fit does not require a gym, special equipment, or hours of exercise at a time. You can do some effective interval training and bodyweight exercises that can really yield some great results. (Is walking or jogging before work a possibility? Also great forms of exercise.)

      1. Florida*

        +1 for a morning workout. If I do it first thing when I wake up, it happens. If I wait and try to exercise after work or later, it never happens. Later in the day, it’s too easy to say that I’m too tired, or don’t have time, or some other excuse. I exercise for less than an hour in the morning, usually about 30-45 minutes.

    2. Melissa*

      Perhaps working out early in the morning or at lunch? I found that being tired in the evenings usually gave me the perfect excuse not to work out, but if I forced myself to get up really early that usually worked better. I’d set my alarm to wake up at like 6 or 6:30 and lay out my running clothes right next to the bed. That way I could get up, get dressed and be out the door before my rational brain woke up and told me that I didn’t need to do this and to go back to sleep. Some people also like doing it at lunch because it gives them an extra burst of energy during the day, and they eat at their desk later. I don’t like working while I eat, though.

      The other thing is to try things that don’t necessarily involve a gym. You don’t have to go to the gym to get fit. I personally hate being inside a gym, so I took up running because I got to be outdoors, and it helped me focus my mind in the morning. Another thing I love was early morning yoga and body sculpting classes. There was peer motivation there, too – I started taking them with a friend and we’d meet on the way, so there was a peer pressure aspect to going (and she was an early riser, so waking up early was no problem for her and she’d text me to make sure I was up and dressed). So maybe making a deal with a friend who also wants to get fit and keeping each other accountable.

      Another thing I’ve considered but haven’t yet tried are those programs like Daily Burn. You pay a monthly subscription and you get workout videos that you can do in your own home – anywhere from 15-45 minutes at a time. That cuts down on travel time to and from a gym or even to a running spot; you can do them in your living room.

    3. Cruciatus*

      I don’t know how active you’re looking to get, but I know for me, getting a Fitbit (or any pedometer will do) really helped me out–but all I do is walk. I found time in the work day to get extra steps so I’m usually halfway or more toward my goal by the time I leave work. It’s just helped me become more aware of how much wasted time I spent when I could have been doing even a little something (like walking around while making copies instead of just standing at the copier). Granted, you can do all of this without the pedometer, but I like just seeing the number and trying to hit my goal.

      1. Madstuart*

        I second the pedometer advice. I have a Fitbit Flex (because every waist-mounted pedometer I’ve tried to use falls off about half the time when I sit down), and what I did was use it for a week or so to see how many steps I was taking each day, on average, then I set my goal for about 1000 steps more than that average, because it made it easy to push myself to reach the goal each day. Since then, every time I’ve gone two weeks where I’ve exceeded the goal 5 out of 7 days, I’ve put the new goal up by the greater of 1000 steps or the average I exceeded the goal by over the previous two weeks. In a couple of months, I’ve gone from only walking 3000-ish steps a day to averaging closer to 8000, and I’ve managed to build up stamina and strategies for getting more steps in a day along the way.

    4. Kay*

      I’m struggling with this right now. I’ve actually found the new pedometer app on my iPhone (that came with the most recent update whatever) to be surprisingly motivating. I’m trying to out-do it and walk more, park further away, etc. Just thinking “walk more, get up from your desk” has been a small but helpful step.

    5. Jillociraptor*

      Is it possible for you to take 10-15 minute breaks throughout the day to go for a walk? That’s working well for me right now when I just can’t get to the gym and still sleep enough to function.

      There’s also an app called Sworkit, which does a bunch of ~5 minute workouts (obviously you can combine them for longer if you want), both for stretching/strength and cardio. I always at least feel like I’ve moved my body a bit more if I can get in 2-3 of those.

      Is a treadmill or elliptical desk an option for you? Search Amazon for a mini-stepper. You’re probably not going to get much of a workout but you will be physically active for more of the day.

      Good luck! It’s tough!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        That’s what I came here to say. I take a break around 11:30 am and walk around the outside of my building. I use Map My Walk to track the time, distance and calories. It’s .5 mile around the building once, so I usually do two laps. Voila! A mile walked and 150 calories burned. :)

    6. Artemesia*

      With that kind of schedule I’d be looking at my day and trying to figure out how to bootleg some exercise in as you go. e.g. taking the stairs, parking farther away so your walk to work is longer — or if you take public transport building a mile in at each end. Just getting up and moving around helps — can you get or arrange a standing desk for part of the day. Do you get any time at lunch? If so, can you work in a fast 15 minute walk then. Can you keep weights at your desk and use them when you are doing tasks like reading documents?

      Most of what I am reading about exercise and health is that even rather small steps really make a difference. And figuring out how to make it seamlessly fit into what you
      are already doing can routinize it.

    7. Ruth (UK)*

      Gosh, those are long shifts if you do them every day. I used to work 12 hour shifts sometimes, but mostly they were 9 hours…

      Are you standing up or sitting at work? If you stand at work eg. in retail etc (I don’t know what sort of job you do, sorry) then it changes it a little bit as your feet are probably really tired.

      I like to do home-circuit-training as exercise. This is great because you don’t have to go/get/travel anywhere. You can just do it at home and it requires very little space or equipment. I’d make a list of exercises and then stick some music on and do them. I would normally do each exercise for 50 seconds, then rest 10 seconds, then start the next one etc. examples of exercises:
      squats (or squat jumps), burpees, sit ups/crunches, leg raises, plank, press-ups, squat thrusts, star jumps, step ups (if you have a step or something available), skipping (if you have a rope). If you have some hand weights you can also include front/side raises, bicep curls, etc. I try to put not all the same type next to each other. So I won’t do squats and then burpees right after each other.

      If you sit down all day at work eg. in an office it’s a bit different. In that case I see people already suggested this, but is it possible to go for a walk at lunch time, etc? Otherwise, running/jogging either before or after work is a cheap and non-equipment-needing exercise. (I wouldn’t necessarily suggest it if you stand all day as running sucks when your feet are tired).

      I don’t know how you get to work, but is it feasible to cycle or walk? Unless you do so already. Even if you have a longer commute, it can sometimes be possible to combine public transport with walking or cycling (eg. my commute is cycle, train, walk).

      Other small changes you can make: take the stairs instead of the lift if you have lifts/staircases where you work. If it’s not feasible to walk completely, walk partway. eg. if you work on the 15th floor of a building, only take the lift to the 13th and walk up the other 2.

    8. EA*

      Think of things even at work that you might be able to do … if there are 2 restrooms on your floor, go to the one that’s further away, rather than the close one. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. Park in the furthest parking space from the door.

    9. Erin*

      I’ve been doing yoga the past several months to Yoga with Adriene videos on YouTube. The videos range from 20 minutes to 1 hour, although there are some very short ones – 5 to 10 minutes.

    10. Jenrenee*

      +1 on the early morning workout! Does your city have Class Pass? Google it – I have it currently and I schedule my workouts every week. If you don’t cancel I think around 72 hours before the class than you get a cancellation fee of $15, which is a monetary motivation for me showing up to the class. In my city there are tons of class options.

    11. StillHealing*

      Are there times and opportunities during your workday? Or transportation options where you can include walking a bit as part of your daily commute ?

      One of my co-workers and I started walking during one of our breaks. It just happened naturally. I have physical disabilities that keep me from going up and down stairs very fast, but she also takes the stairs whenever possible. She’s lost 20 pounds and feels great.

      I also walk as soon as I get home in the evening. I have an AP on my phone that links with a health website that tracks my healthy habits. It keeps me motivated for sure.

      1. Fish Microwaver*

        I agree with those who suggested getting exercise early in the day. What gets done early stays done but “later” too easily becomes “never”. The suggestions about trying to get more incidental exercise are good too, although if you are training for a specific event you need more sustained sessions over time.

    12. ITPuffNStuff*

      12 hours feels like pushing it. not sure how realistic it is to work out at the end of a 12 hour shift *unless* you have absolutely nothing else to do and can go right to sleep after working out (which would mean someone else is making meals and cleaning up, and taking care of kids if there are any).

      if your 12 hours days are on a shortened work week (like 3 or 4 days), weekend may be the most realistic exercise opportunity. if you’re working 12 hours 5 or more days a week, i think you’re just seeing that working so many hours has placed your life out of balance, and restoring that balance may be necessary to your physical (and mental) health.

      i know none of the above was probably what you wanted to hear, but i hope you’re able to find a better (more balanced) situation. good luck!

    13. Girasol*

      I do a lot of voice conferences when I can grab the medicine ball and get some movement in while I’m on the clock. I’m lucky in these days of “open office” to have a cube to myself so I don’t annoy others (as long as I don’t drop it!)

    14. Mephyle*

      There’s a good article about this at Sparkpeople – search {“10 Ways to Find Time for Exercise” sparkpeople}. Some of the suggestions are versions of what people have already said in this thread, others are ways to help implement things that have been mentioned.
      I think that overall in your situation, there are two aspects to finding ways to get more fit. One is doing more movement at work – the suggestions such as lunch-hour walks, taking stairs, going to the farther washroom, etc. speak to this.
      The other is that when you do work out, you want to get the most benefits for the least time invested. One of the ways to do that is to use weight. It doesn’t mean having to find even more time to go to the gym and pump iron. At home you can do bodyweight exercises and invest in a few pairs of dumbbells. For example, a minimum workout that you can do in one or two minutes between the bed and the shower is a few pushups and a few weighted squats.

    15. NicoleK*

      Maybe look into a standing desk as an option? Otherwise, I try to take walks during the workday.

      1. Melissa*

        Ooh, me too. I try to take 1 or 2 walking breaks per day. I work on a university campus so I take a meandering path across campus for 15-20 minutes, or I will walk to go get food or a snack or something.

    16. Cecile*

      I like doing yoga and pilates videos in my living room from Youtube! There’s all sorts of lengths from 10 minutes to 1 hour + so I can fit in what I have the time and energy for.

    17. handcuffed my heart but it got loose*

      I’ve been having some luck with the 7-minute workouts – even with warmup/cooldown they’re just 15 min or so, which I can handle even on the worst days, or can do a couple of rounds on easier days.

      agree with others too – maximize your walking, if you can. it’s amazing how the few extra steps add up.

    18. part of the machine*

      I’ve seen/felt a major difference in taking the stairs at work (our office is split between three floors), instead of the elevator, getting a walk in at lunch, and going to work out in the mornings.

      The other half is eating healthier. You can often lose weight by making more healthy choices than by just working out. You might want to consider that option When I eat better, I have more energy and feel less sluggish.

  2. Jake*

    14 year old brother is hospitalized after feeling suicidal Friday night.

    I picked him up from his school trip in DC and brought him to my home Friday morning at 1 AM. My wife and I slept in shifts while his mother and our brother drove 12 hours to pick him up. He acted perfectly normal.

    Once they got home (this morning) they took him to the hospital. Waiting to hear what doc has to say. It’s just so weird because the only sign is that he texted his mom saying he felt suicidal. Other than that he’s been how he always is.

    Not real sure what is up but I’m anxious to hear from the doc.

    1. nep*

      Wow — sorry to hear that. Hope whatever has got him in that state will be resolved. All the best to all of you.

    2. cLA*

      He may have acted fine but there’s a lot going on in his mind, if he really is suicidal. Has anyone talked to him?

      1. Jake*

        Yeah but he doesn’t have anything to say. That’s why I’m anxious to hear what a doctor has to say. Clearly something is wrong.

    3. Jean*

      Not a professional and thankfully not directly experienced with this except as an onlooker of other families:
      Stay with him. Spend time with him. Take turns picking the activity. Tell him and show him that you care and you accept/like/enjoy/love him as he is. Tell him he can tell you anything at any time; that he doesn’t have to be perfect; that it’s not him, it’s the depression (or whatever) talking. Tell him that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Teenagers’ brains aren’t developed enough to understand this but maybe don’t tell him this. Tell him you love him and things will get better. Keep him connected to counseling and his friends and family. Let him live with you if that’s what helps him? Reach out to NAMI (www.nami.org) and encourage the rest of your family to do the same. They have a lot of peer-to-peer and family-to-family support programs. Keep looking if the first resource or professional doesn’t feel helpful.

      Oh, my. Sending life-affirming thoughts to all of you.

    4. fposte*

      You guys are doing good work. The fact that he was able to tell his mom that is great. The fact that you proved that you all will act if he lets you know there’s a problem is huge. I hope things improve for him and for the family.

    5. Kyrielle*

      I am glad he sent that text and glad he is being checked out and will be helped – fingers crossed.

    6. Jake*

      Thanks everybody.

      Looking at a 5-7 day admission. He thinks it is annoying and unnecessary, but I wouldn’t expect him to think anything else.

      1. Erin*

        I’m glad to hear he’s in good hands. It sounds like everybody is doing the right thing here – including him, by expressing his feelings and thus asking for help when he needed it.

      2. Mia*

        So glad to hear you’re having him admitted. Better safe than sorry. My brother-in-law overdosed on sleeping pills, but was discovered and able to convince everyone it was an accident. He shot and killed himself a couple months later. I always wondered if the outcome would have been different if he had been admitted somewhere. So glad to see you’re treating this as seriously as it is, and wish all of you the best of luck. Do everything you can do to stay out of this “club.”

      3. BRR*

        everybody has different preferences. I would never talk to my family about my mental health but professionals I’m fine with. The issue is figuring this out if he is like me.

      4. Thoughts on Depression*

        The only thing I can add is to try to be understanding of the fact that he might seem fine at times, but is not entirely himself right now, so try to forgive small grievances as best you can. I was having suicidal thoughts years ago, but didn’t tell anyone. They did know the situational things that were wrong, however. So, one of my friends invited me to stay over, and then freaked out on me when I placed a dirty dish into their sinkful of dirty dishes- even going so far as to mention it repeatedly years later. For a non-depressed person, this is just petty behavior. But for a depressed person, having someone give you grief over something minor shows a clear lack of understanding of exactly where you are at mentally. I think that can be enough to send someone who’s already in a bad place into a spiral. In my case, I completely withdrew from the world, which was a roundabout way of not-living.

      5. Melissa*

        I used to work in residential life where part of my job was talking to college students having psychological crises and who were suicidal. Even the ones who acknowledged that they needed help, and wanted to get that help, *never* wanted to go to the psych ward. So him not going doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be receptive to the care they give, just FYI.

        I hope it goes well for him, and for your family.

    7. The Other Dawn*

      A friend of mine went through this with her soon and there just weren’t any signs. It was incredibly shocking to everyone. He always seemed upbeat without a care in the world. I’m glad your brother is getting help.

    8. the gold digger*

      I hope everything is OK. My (adult) brother went through a bad spell a few years ago and I worried every day that I was going to get a call that he had committed suicide. He is better now, thank God. It is very scary.

    9. Naomi*

      I had a similar situation when I was sixteen. Here are a few things I learned:

      1) Suicidal impulses tend to come and go. Someone who is suffering from depression may be temporarily overwhelmed and suicidal, but the impulse may pass within a few hours or even minutes. This does not mean they are ok, the impulse can return if the underlying problem is not addressed. It’s likely that soon after your brother texted about feeling suicidal, the feeling passed–since he feels better, he probably thinks the hospitalization is unnecessary. But it is best to err on the side of caution.

      2) The purpose of a hospitalization like this is to ensure the patient does not harm themselves, NOT to provide complete psychological care. It is difficult if not impossible for someone who has been involuntarily hospitalized to actually trust the people who are keeping them locked up. The relationship is very confrontational which is not good for therapy. This doesn’t mean the hospitalization is a bad thing–the priority is to ensure his immediate safety and hospitalization will do that. It just means that the real psychological work and healing will have to come after the immediate danger is over and he is released.

      3) Your family should look into a psychologist (for counseling) and probably also a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication. He will likely need several appointments a week when he is first released. Your brother should be involved in the process of choosing his own therapist, it is important that he finds someone he can trust. Letting him choose his own therapist will also make him feel more in control of his own life. Being hospitalized is very traumatic (but again, necessary to ensure his immediate safety) and anything that shows him he is still trusted and has control over his life will be helpful.

      4) I know you are probably extremely upset and worried about him, but try to treat him normally (make sure he knows he can talk to you, but don’t treat him like he’s broken or a time bomb). When he is released, you will have to find a balance between supervising him but not making him feel like he’s under surveillance. If the shrink says he is OK to be released from the hospital, he doesn’t have to be supervised every minute but you don’t want to leave him alone in the house for hours either. He will probably be annoyed by people “making a big deal out of it” and want to get back to normal. He probably won’t understand how serious this is. Let him return to as much of his routine as possible while still getting him the necessary help and making sure he’s not left alone for long periods of time.

      5) Do some research on the facility where he is staying. Some are better and some are worse. If necessary, see if you can transfer him to a different facility. The place I stayed was not very good (almost no counseling, inadequate supervision, staff very unsympathetic) but there are plenty of very good places.

      6) It is possible to get through this and recover. It will not be an easy or quick process but with the right help he can get past this.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great post. I am sure many people are reading and re-reading this. It’s helpful and well said.

      2. TootsNYC*

        I went through a depression a couple of years ago. I didn’t feel truly suicidal, but it showed me how powerful that mental anguish is!

        Give him a place to see that he can have a normal life. Be there, very actively. Daily.

        A lady from my church called me every night to see how I was, and to tell me that she was going to call again the next night. It wasn’t until a week had gone by that I realized she was on suicide watch.

        Her goal was to make sure I felt that someone was expecting me to be around the next day.

        For him, I might not suggest that you say the affirming things she said to me; maybe just be the friendly, interesting voice that has something funny to tell him. If all else fails, tell him stories of when he was a kid, or you were kids together. Pet stories. Baby stories. The time you got in trouble.
        One a night, every night. And say, explicitly, “I’m going to call tomorrow!” Be the thing that makes him feel he can’t act on this horrible feeling now, because you’re going to call tomorrow.

        Also: my depression made it very, very hard to feel connected to me. The past, the good parts of it, just didn’t seem to exist.
        In fact, that’s sort of happening for me now. The depression is either gone or very, very low level. The thing that makes me feel it isn’t completely gone is that I just don’t feel connected to the person I was 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 30 years ago.

        Be that connection for him. Siblings can do that the way NObody else can.

      3. BRR*

        This is an amazing post. Only thing I would add is to let him know that if he doesn’t like his therapist at any point he can switch.

      4. Ruffingit*

        Given that I work in a psychiatric facility, I second all of this, especially number 5. Before he’s admitted anywhere, research the place because once he’s admitted, doing a hospital to hospital transfer can be very difficult as many insurers will not pay for it. Make sure you have him in a good place the first time. Thoughts are with you!

        1. Jake*

          There are only two options in their area, and the one they chose has a reputation about 1000x better than the other, so hopefully it’ll work out.

      5. Connie-Lynne*

        I cannot echo enough the advice to let him be involved in choosing his own therapist.

        I went through a series of HMO-assigned shrinks as a teenager, never realizing that I could say they were not helping me in the least. It wasn’t until I was paying for my own medical bills that I dug my feet in and was like “this person is not helping me in the slightest, find me someone good.”

        I think if someone had pointed out to me that seeing the shrink was something I was allowed to have a say in, rather than Yet Another Thing My Parents Were Forcing Me To Do To Be The Perfect Child (they weren’t; they were trying to help, but I wasn’t healthy enough to see that), I might have gotten healthier sooner.

      6. StillHealing*

        Thumbs up for what Naomi has written!

        I’d like to add to not tip-toe around him but also – don’t do or say things that would give him the impression his depression/ suicidal ideation/medical situation – is a burden of any sort.
        It can take awhile for him to work through this. If he does fine for a while but gets worse, please don’t let anyone in your family lose their patience with him. It’s a medical issue, not a character flaw. It’s good for your brother to understand that too. It personally felt to me, that I was far too broken, had too much to heal and would never ever move beyond suicide as my default when life’s stresses were doing a number on me. (Or my c-ptsd was unmanageable) My doctors kept telling me: ” There is always more we can do!” And they did. I’m still on antidepressants and clonidine to knock out my night terrors, but within a few months they going to allow me to start weaning myself off of them. Depression is managed and the Suicidal Ideation is nonexistent. It’s shows incredible strength and trust for your brother to reach out and ask for help. Build on that and empower him and he’s going to do and be just fine.

    10. Jader*

      It sounds like you guys are doing a great job and others have had some good advice. As some one who used to volunteer for a crisis line I just wanted to add that for some people who are suicidal they will “go back to normal” or seem happy once they make a decision to go through with suicide. They have been living with immense pain and may feel a sense of relief having made the decision. The fact that he reached out is a really good sign. Often people who feel suicidal don’t actually want to die, they just want their pain to end.

      1. Jader*

        To be clear, I meant this as a possible explanation to why he seemed to be acting normal, not to mean you should be afraid for his life every time he acts happy.

    11. TootsNYC*

      Speaking of texting, and suicidal thoughts:

      Be sure he’s got these folks’ number:

      TEXT “START” TO 741-741

      They have a very good crisis hotline that operates by text. If he’s proven that he’ll reach out that way, this might be a good resource for him to have when he’s out of the hospital. A lifeline for that crisis moment.

    12. Liane*

      You’re doing all the right things. Had something like this happen with my daughter at about the same age. It’s much better now, there’s still rough teenage patches. But she was finally ready to try just meds in stead of therapy & meds; made the decision herself & I am very proud of her.
      You’re a great brother (& sister-in-law!) to care so much. And son, because it sounds like you’re helping your parents with all this. Calling & talking like others have mentioned is great. And take care of yourself too. It is rough to play The Strong One, with no way to recharge. For me I had a friend who stayed on IM with me that whole evening after we took her in–because I was missing her, was terrified at the thought we might have lost her–and made himself available by text until she was back home. This might not be what works for you, but find something.
      Thoughts & prayers for the whole family.

    13. Lady Bug*

      Sorry to hear that. I have two kids who both went through rough patches in their teens, but are ok now. If they are willing to try medication, be aware that it might take a few trys to find the right one, but it can help and lots of times is only needed short term. Talk therapy is helpful for lots of people, but he has to like his therapist, so encourage him to try a few before he gives up.

      Be willing to listen to whatever he has to say, even if it scares the hell out of you, without judgment. If he is into music, there is a foundation called The You Rock foundation where several celebs have put up videos discussing their own experiences with suicide, you never know what might help.

      Best of luck, I know it is scary, but the fact that he let someone know is a good sign.

    14. Hlyssande*

      I guess I have a bit of a different opinion based on my own experience.

      I’m not saying it’s bad to hospitalize him if he really does need it, but at the same time, being hospitalized as a teenager can be an absolute nightmare. It was for me.

      I was briefly hospitalized as a teen (and maintain that I should not have been – I was not suicidal but the psychologist had no idea how to react to a girl self-injuring without intent to do serious injury) and it was the worst week of my life. The only reason I got out was because I lied.

      If your brother is not religious, a hospital with religious affiliation may be very distressing. When I was in, we had to sit together every morning to talk about god and the bible and to be told that he would help if we prayed enough. It was practically bullying if you weren’t a Christian (and I wasn’t – there was a lot of judgement there).

      Please make sure you’re getting his input with all of this and that everyone knows what it entails beforehand. Does he need to bring his own clothes (I was told I didn’t have to and ended up wearing the same thing for five days)? Do they do strip searches during admission (that was utterly humiliating)? What sort of daily activities will there be? What are the rules of conduct for patients? Will there be books/media/etc that can help him stay occupied (I was bored out of my mind)? What are the sleeping arrangements (we had cold rooms, no blankets, and no pillows)?

      When looking for a psych team after this, and I cannot stress this enough, make sure he knows that it’s okay to shop around. If he doesn’t feel like a particular therapist is a good fit, they are not a good fit and he should be free to choose another. And if his medications aren’t helping, then it’s perfectly find to ask to change them. Most people tend to go through several different combinations or changes until they find something that works. So if he doesn’t think it’s working, he can switch.

      I’m sure that some places are good and helpful, but mine sure as hell wasn’t. If anything, it made things worse because I started hiding how I felt for fear of getting sent back.

  3. Melissa*

    I come in large part to see what the weekly book recommendations are; I have yet to read most of them but they’re all added to the list! This one I can get a free sample from Kindle before reading it so I sent it to my iPad :) Books are so much love.

    I just finished Reconstructing Amelia, a really good book by Kimberly McCreight that’s sort of like a mystery novel but really more a character study. It was so good; I read it in two days and it’s been a long time since a book has kept me hooked like that.

    What are you all reading?

    1. Jake*

      I want to read Dune by Frank Hebert again. In one book he tells a story that would’ve taken Robert Jordan or George Martin 5 books.

      Every couple years I get the itch to reread it.

      1. Melissa*

        Ooh, I still haven’t read that. I hear it’s really good though! I’m going to put it on the list.

      2. Finny*

        I am rereading Dune right now–I ordered a nice hardcover large print version through my work, so I can actually read it again. The mass market has too small of font, and the ebook is of no use to me until I get my new eReader later in the year.

      3. The RO-Cat*

        I read Dune (all of them) several times. Each time I discovered something new. The only other book that gave so much was The Name of the Rose (for me, the prequels and sequels were a letdown. I always come back to the books). I also liked The White Plague, even if it has almost nothing in common with Dune.

      4. FJ*

        I started Dune many years ago and couldn’t get through the intro. Same with other books with long build-up (looking at you, The Silmarillion). I’d like to try again on Dune now.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      I’ve just finished reading Hausfrau by Jill Alexander Essbaum which is about Anna, who is a good wife, mostly. It’s beautifully written (the author has previously published poetry) and is set in a small town outside Zurich. I now want to immediately go to Switzerland.

      1. Elkay*

        I’ve seen that recommended elsewhere, might give it a go. I already want to go to Switzerland so this could cement next year’s holiday destination.

          1. TheLazyB*

            Do. Do do do. I’ve only had a couple of days in each but it really was like I imagined :)

          2. Elkay*

            I flew into Austria then got on a bus to go to Germany. Such a lovely part of the world.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I just finished World War Z a few days ago. I had seen the movie, so I thought the book would probably be pretty good, but wow. It was so different in scope and format, and so much better than the movie!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I love that book! Its commentary on things like celebrity, politics, international relations, and the modern concept of work (among other topics) are just absolutely spot-on. Great satire. The movie was pretty meh, though.

        1. Tris Prior*

          I had no idea the movie barely resembled the book at all – having read the book first the movie was a real disappointment.

        2. Cath in Canada*

          If I may self-promote: the one disappointing thing about the book version of World War Z was that there wasn’t enough commentary about science and research. I therefore turned some of my own musings on the topic into a short story. It might only be funny to people who’ve dealt with university institutional review boards – the folks who decide whether to not to give you an ethics certificate so that you can carry out your proposed research – but my friends and colleagues told me they liked it, so… http://www.lablit.com/article/800

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            That was awesome, Cath! Thanks for sharing, I’m going to have to show that to coworkers, and family and friends who are familiar with IRBs!

      2. Mints*

        I loved that book too! It was essentially a war book, and so many interesting perspectives.

      3. TootsNYC*

        My teenage son loved Rot & Ruin, so I got him a bunch of zombie books, including World War Z. It was really good!

        I want to know what’s going on in North Korea!!!

        1. MM*

          I’m also fascinated by North Korea. A couple of books I have read lately that were pretty good: Nothing to Envy – Ordinary Lives in North Korea and Dear Leader – My Escape from North Korea.

        2. DeadQuoteOlympics*

          Try the Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson and the Inspector O mysteries by James Church for novels set in North Korea.

        3. TootsNYC*

          I meant less about what’s going on there now, and more about what’s going on there at the end of World War Z.

      4. The IT Manager*

        It’s a great book! It is exactly like reading a WWII historical memoirs except set in the modern day and with Zombies. I’m not normally a zombie/horror fan, but really, really liked it.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          You know, that makes a lot of sense. I love historical fiction, but I hadn’t really noticed that parallel.

          So, if you like that kind of thing, you probably know James Michener, but I think Edward Rutherfurd (London, Sarum) has presented histories of the British Isles at least as well as Michener did for North America. He did also write about New York, Paris, and Russia, but I haven’t read those…yet.

    4. Elkay*

      I just finished Last Man In Tower which was ok but not as good as White Tiger by the same author. I’ve just started The Mangle Street Murders which has great promise, 21 year old orphan moves from the country to London after her father dies to live with her guardian who is a Sherlock Holmes style character.

      1. Sara*

        I thought the same re: Last Man in Tower vs. White Tiger. He has at least one other book that I’m aware of, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet.

    5. littlemoose*

      “Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement” by Kathryn Joyce. Excellent non-fiction.

      1. Sara*

        That book has been in my stack for months, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet!

    6. Erin*

      Just finished Finders Keepers by Stephen King – amazing!! And you don’t really need to read the first one, Mr. Mercedes, either.

    7. Kyrielle*

      Re-re-re-reading Andy Weir’s _The Martian_ which is just amazing (and the movie comes out near the end of this year!).

      It’s been a while since I’ve read it (my copy is missing, sigh), but Amy Thomson’s _The Color of Distance_ is an amazing first-contact story that focuses on the people/characters and you really get inside the aliens’ minds and get to know them. It’s really well done.

      1. Mints*

        This thread is full of good books! The Martian is amazing! I love Mark Watney

        Have you seen the trailer? I think the tone is too serious but I’m still excited about it

      2. Windchime*

        I also liked The Martian. I got a little sidetracked by all the technical details, but it was still one of those books that kept me up way too late at night, reading.

    8. Alistair*

      Just finished Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson, and am now reading The 6th Extinction by James Rollins. Good pulpy fun!

    9. Sara*

      I literally just (~20 minutes ago) finished Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You, after starting it last night. It was phenomenal, easily one of my favorite books I’ve read this year.

    10. Gene*

      Almost finished with Working Stiff by Judy Melinek, M.D. and T.J. Mitchell. It’s about her training as a Medical Examiner in the NYC Medical Examiner office. The last part deals with the experience of 9/11, and I’m struggling a bit too get through it.

      1. Gene*

        Finished it last night.

        Now starting on The Folklore of Discworld by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson. I’ve pre-ordered a couple of British slipcover FEs of his last novel, The Shepherd’s Crown. I’ll also order a reader with the US cover.

    11. Stephanie*

      I just finished Deep Down Dark about the trapped Chilean miners (on audiobook) and Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado.

      Next up, I think will be Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn.

    12. fposte*

      Cheating with a blog mention. I’ve had to do a pile of house stuff, so to space it out and create breaks I’ve been reading the archives of the wonderful Surgeonsblog, by Sid Schwab. He’s an opinionated and articulate soul who loves the craft of working on bodies and talks about it with reverence and genuine excitement. He’s let that blog go (doing more political/policy stuff–unusually, for a surgeon, more left-wing than right-wing) but still answers comments. If you ever wanted to read what it was like on the other side of the knife, this is a great place to start.

    13. katamia*

      Jen Lancaster’s I Regret Nothing and Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy, which is massive. I’ve been reading it on and off for months.

    14. I wanna twist and twist and shout*

      I’m the last person in the world to read it, but I’ve been enjoying Option$: The Secret Life of Steve Jobs by Dan Lyons.

      This week I did some maintenance on my library, reorganizing and cleaning up all my books and videos and stuff. So I didn’t read much that’s new, but re-read a few old favorites. Ted Chiang’s “Hell is the Absence of God” is pretty awesome.

    15. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Working my way through The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee, which is a very readable history of cancer, and surprisingly fascinating for heavy subject matter.

      In the car I’ve been listening to When Books Went To War, a history of the program to outfit American servicemen with American novels in small editions during the Second World War.

      And when I need a break from the heavy stuff, continually rereading stuff for my YA blog to break it up.

      1. TL -*

        The Emperor of All Maladies is one of my favorite books – so good! I read it during my senior seminar class (on cancer, of course) and it was a really well-done layperson treatment to go along with all the papers, ect.. I was reading.

      2. Spring has Sprung!*

        Oh, I love Emperor of All Maladies! I read it shortly after my mother died from cancer, and it was very helpful to understand the disease while I was going through the grief process. There was a story they told of how cancer developed in one man, told in order to illustrate how difficult it is to catch while still at a treatable stage (it was one of the author’s patients) and basically, that was the same thing that happened to my mother. It brought me a lot of peace, and empathy for her doctors.

        It also made me grateful for how much we’ve advanced in treating cancers!

    16. bkanon*

      Ooooh, let me open my review file here. In the past couple of months, my top recs (9 out of 10 by my personal standards):
      Anna Freeman, Fair Fight: Late 1700s, boxing and women and women boxing. Excellent book, great characters and historical details.
      Cherie Priest, Maplecroft: Gripping page-turner. Lizzie Borden took an axe and the reason for it is explained. Something I couldn’t let myself read right before bed.
      Elizabeth Chadwick, Greatest Knight: Great historical. Fictionalized life of William Marshal.
      Emily St. John, Station Eleven – Excellent book. Non-linear narratives that usually bother me didn’t here. Nicely rounded characters.

      Also recommended, anything in the series(serieses? serii? *G*) by Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London), C.S. Harris (Sebastian St. Cyr), Scott Lynch (Republic of Thieves), and Tana French (Dublin Murder Squad).

        1. Windchime*

          Loved, loved, loved Station Eleven. I read it awhile back (last year, maybe?) and could not put it down.

    17. Paloma Joss*

      All the Colors You Cannot See. I’m half way through and so far it’s really good. If you enjoy period dramas.

    18. Persephone Mulberry*

      I blew through the Last Policeman trilogy based on someone’s recommendation last week or the week before. Really good but wow, now I really need to find something light and beachy to cleanse my palate.

    19. TootsNYC*

      I just read The Girl on the Train, a mystery/thriller. It jumps all over the place in terms of time; there are time & date stamps on each little section, and I did have to look at them to see how they fit together.

      It was a little hard at first; I have trouble w/ protagonists who are screwing up their lives. But I held on, and it was very rewarding.

        1. TootsNYC*

          The funny thing is, I got a lot more sympathy for her once she *did* start pulling it together.

          In the process, the author reveals more of how she got that way–which makes a certain amount of sense, because I think when people are on their way down, they’re not reflecting on how they got there, but once they start to heal, they do.

          1. brightstar*

            I also felt more sympathy for her when she was getting her life back together. Not to go into spoiler territory, but I dated someone like the bad guy in the books and saw women react that way after having him in their life.

    20. Ruffingit*

      I wanted to read Reconstructing Amelia, but then I read an article about a young girl who committed suicide and the author of the article referenced the book AND gave away the ending. I was really bitter about that.

    21. tonight I want to forget about me*

      just finished ‘Year of the Demon’ by Steve Bein (book 2 of ‘The Fated Blades’) – urban fantasy following a female officer in the Tokyo police force. also ‘Blood Red’ by Mercedes Lackey – a Red Riding Hood retelling (in the Elemental Masters series)
      am split between ‘Uprooted’ (Naomi Novik) and ‘Mistborn’ (Brandon Sanderson) for my next one – I’ve read the first chapter or so of each and both seem good!
      before that though, planning a re-read of ‘Groo vs Conan’ (Sergio Aragones, graphic novel), because Groo! and it’s so interesting to see the very, very different art styles working strangely well together :)

      1. TootsNYC*

        ooh, I *just* read Uprooted, about 6 times. I was late for church this morning because I picked it up to read a bit of it again.

        It’s really lovely. Some nice character sketching and development.

        1. tonight I want to forget about me*

          that’s a recc & a half! :) thank-you! straight to the top of the list it goes!

      2. Nashira*

        Mistborn is okay, but Sanderson has a nasty habit of writing one or two female characters tops, and they don’t… Read as very realistic to me. As a womanish person who is a fan of science fiction and fantasy, I loathe authors like that.

        1. tonight I want to forget about me*

          that is really good to know, thank-you! That is definitely the sort of issue that will push a book down my list (or off, depending on how egregious it is…lookin’ at you Stackpole)

    22. brightstar*

      I just finished The Girl On the Train which I really liked and didn’t want to put down, even though I guessed the ending about half way through.

    23. FJ*

      The Dog Stars by Peter Heller- very interesting writing style… and engaging story. It was not a typical storytelling of the post-apocalyptic genre. Really liked it. Someone mentioned All The Light You Cannot See, and it is on my radar too.

    24. Liane*

      Not a recommendation for specific books, but a suggestion for those on a budget who read ebooks, since I saw 1 or 2 comments about having to wait to purchase a book–something I am all too familiar with. Our library system allows check out of Kindle & other e-books via Overdrive. It’s a 7 or 14 day loan (to the minute!) and you can renew if there are no holds, just like a “real” library book. I am limited to the ebooks my library system has purchased, but they have lots in all categories & get new titles, of new and old books, just about every day. Once I check a book out via Overdrive, the download link shows up in my account page & (since I use the Kindle app) it takes me right to Amazon to download.
      If I decide I didn’t love the book as much as I thought, or just doubt I will want to reread, I am not out any money, and if I do want my own copy I can buy later. Of course, Amazon, at least, has a handy button to buy the checked out title. :)

    25. Liblady*

      I am listening to “The Residence: Inside the Private World of the White House” by Kate Andersen Brower. It’s fascinating. I also recommend : the Girl with All the Gifts; the First Fifteen Lives of Harry August and The Departure. All great summer reads.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Another vote for The Girl With All the Gifts! A really great zombie book, with a very, very different twist.

    26. Older not yet Wiser*

      Thanks Alison for the rec – loving The Pursuit of Love so far. Just lost in it and can’t stop reading. Reminds me a bit of I Capture The Castle by Dodie Smith. One of my all time faves that I re- read every so often.

  4. The Other Dawn*

    My garden is coming along! Thanks for everyone’s help in identifying a few plants. I have a couple more if anyone can help. http://itjustdawned.blogspot.com/

    Not too much going on this weekend. We’re taking the in-laws to dinner for their 50th anniversary tonight. Hopefully they get here on time. They usually run late. because of my FIL. He will rag on my MIL and SIL that they need to get ready and hurry up. Meanwhile he’s on the couch watching TV. Then when everyone is ready and waiting for him, he’ll decide it’s time to get ready. Usually at the same time they’re due somewhere. Very annoying. We’re throwing a surprise party for them next month and I’m hoping they make it to that on time, too! I’m hoping that my FIL doesn’t get in a “mood” that day and decide he’s staying home. He behaves like a kid sometimes.

    1. fposte*

      Ha! I called it on the bright magenta ones–they’re rose campion. They’re lovely and they politely seed. The bottom white one with the ferny leaves look like achillea, or yarrow. Not sure on the yellow ones in the middle, but they might be a kind of sedum. Are the leaves really fleshy rather than leafy?

      1. The Other Dawn*

        And I think you’re right on the Yarrow. Just Googled and the pics look like my flowers.

        I’m getting there! I think I should catalog this so I remember next year.

        1. the gold digger*

          I think yarrow is like evening primrose – it will take over your garden if you are not vigilant. Even in the winter, the evening primrose would be plotting about how to displace the verbena. I tried ripping it out, but to no avail.

          1. fposte*

            The species can be, but a lot of cultivars aren’t. (Though I’m in a region where I can’t winter over verbena at all, so a lot of stuff doesn’t get up enough energy to really invade.)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I am chuckling, evening primrose struggles to get through the summer here, never mind winter. And like wise, verbena won’t make it either. Yarrow stays in its clump and is a slow to moderate spreader. But that could be a characteristic of the type of yarrow that will grow in this area. I think you said you were zone 5 or 6, which puts your latitude south of where I am.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Make sure your pics are clearly labeled and maybe consider drawing a little map. I have lost so many plants because I did not draw a map… It’s really handy if you add new plants. New plants are even easier to forget.

    2. beachlover*

      There is a great app avail on both android and Apple – Like That Garden, you take a picture of the plant and it will identify it for you.

  5. Chris*

    Question for the academics/librarians about: How do I request copies of materials that were donated to a public university several decades ago by a family member (ship logs from the family lumber business mid 1880’s). I tried looking on the university website, but my guess is these materials were not important enough to digitize- search results don’t find anything.

    Do you just contact the university library, or is there a specific contact person/department that I should be looking for?

    1. Melissa*

      I think if you just contact the library’s main information line they can probably direct you to the correct person or department.

    2. Kay*

      You want to look on the library’s specific website for things like “special collections,” “archives,” or “manuscripts.” There will most likely be a separate department that handles these things, and they can help you out. Probably they weren’t digitized but there’s a chance they were catalogued and you can find them through the university library’s online catalogue.

      Most places will have a general info form or email that you can use to find out more about the collections. That would be my first step – calling would be my second. Manuscript details can be tricky to figure out by voicemail especially with spelling particulars, etc.

      Be ready to pay a fee for duplication as well, which can vary depending on how many pages and whether you simply want photocopies or scans.

    3. ArchivistAnne*

      Try the archives or special collections department of the library. Librarians and archivists within a university typically have a good of idea of which materials are where, so they’ll redirect you as needed. We’re very happy to answer questions and work with people unfamiliar with the process.

      You may be able to find a description of the materials (often called a finding aid or finding guide) online even if the materials themselves haven’t been digitized. Best of luck in tracking these down!

    4. LisaLee*

      Try calling and asking for a research librarian or archivist. They’ll probably be the ones who know about the non-book historical material in the collection.

      Also, go to the university’s website and look for “special collections,” or “archives.” This is where valuable or fragile material is kept, and it isn’t always databased in with the general library collection. If you see that there’s a librarian in charge of those departments, you can email them.

  6. I wanna twist and twist and shout*

    This is kind of embarrassing. I’m going to see a certain performer tonight at a small venue here in town. Let’s just say that I hold him in extremely high regard (and I still can’t quite believe he’s coming to Austin). His will be one of many performances by multiple artists spread out over three days.

    I’ve never done this before, but – I REALLY would like to get my picture taken with this person.

    Any advice on how best I can make this happen, in at least a slightly graceful manner? I’ve met a number of well-known people (mostly writers) in the past, but that tended to happen at a bookstore or a conference, and I never asked for a photo. This being a music venue, and asking for a picture – I’m really off in terra incognito. How do I even ask? (ideally, without coming off as an uncultured yahoo?) For that matter, do I need to bribe someone to get an introduction?

    If it matters, I’ll be attending the event alone. And *sigh* no, I’m not a stalker and no, I don’t want to have sex with him.

    1. Thinking out loud*

      Show up very early or stay very late. Try to find a back door or just admit how much you really like him to someone working at the event and ask them what the best way to get a picture with him is. Depending on who he is, it may be pretty easy or impossible – good luck!

      1. I wanna twist and twist and shout*

        Thanks! It worked out better than I could have hoped! There were some activities going on before the show, so I went early, hung out, decided I’d go find something to drink – and guess who was in the parking lot?

        I also got a really good picture of just both of them together; I’ll email them copies.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      I agree with Thinking out Loud.

      I have met my favourite band several times by:

      – scoping out the venue and catching them between going from their tour bus to venue
      – “abandoning” a boyfriend I had at the time to go and chat to a band member who was mingling upstairs in the venue after the gig had finished
      – lastly, a group of us fan waiting for hours in the worst winter snow for years at the venue backdoor for the band to finish up. We got a blueberry muffin, our pictures taken with every band member and some lucky person got a guitar pick (not me) and set list (not me either)

    3. nep*

      You could find someone working the event and ask them about the possibility of meeting the artist — just that you’d like to tell him in person how much you appreciate him. (Might he be hanging round to sign CDs or something post-performance? Some do when they play in smaller venues.) Agree with the suggestion to show up early.

  7. Cruciatus*

    I have done the impossible! I got Verizon to upgrade our 10+ year old modem/router…and for free even (since we are “valued customers”)! Only took about 4 years…

    1. Bea W*


      I just pay outright for my own equipment, mostly because the monthly fee for leasing it for that long is way more money….hundreds of dollars more, but then it’s also mine to upgrade when I want to upgrade.

      I’m surprised Verizon didn’t nag you to replace it sooner. Eventually the equipment ages out and is no longer be supported. I can’t imagine they are still supporting a 10+ year old model, but who knows! I left Verizon several years ago, because they were HORRIBLE, particularly after I moved to a city where the mayor has pissed them off by insisting they start paying taxes on their property in exchange for the rights to wire the city for FiOS.

      1. Cruciatus*

        We don’t pay a monthly equipment fee for having it (which is something of a miracle). If they had charged us it would have been a one-time cost of $40. But because we’re “valued” they gave it to us for free. And they are absolutely not supporting this anymore–but it would cost too much money to replace them all for customers (I assume). They still have info on the website for the old modem, but they told me to just “take it to any recycling place.” That’s how little they wanted it back! Unfortunately our internet options are slim where I live–Verizon or the local cable company–and their internet service was even choppier.

  8. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    This is “I’m too proud of myself even though I should not be” week. Or something.

    So over the past few weeks I’ve been blabbering about my online activities, mostly video game streaming. But a few days ago, I just HAD to do some vlog-type stuff.

    One was about a Youtube “tag” thing, that I thought was rather crass, and it was so well received I’m just… I’m just surprised. It was a response to someone’s reaction to the tag, and not only did it spark a lovely discussion, but as a result one of my favorite Youtubers follows me on Twitter (seems silly, I know, but… I just love that girl and met her once too haha).

    And then… ah. I got some harassment about being a fat girl playing games (and apparently my tiny upper lip hair is a problem too) and decided to turn that into a sort of new anti-harassment campaign. I did the video twice (French then English) and that one was rather well received too, though it was on a smaller scale.

    I think this will be one of my callings. I may not be as gifted at it as others before me, but… Got butterflies and smiles when I read comments and I’m just… I don’t know.

    *That, and Fiancé celebrated his birthday last Thursday. I got together with friends of his to get him a Lego Set (Lego Creator Series, Parisian Restaurant) . Happiest man on Earth hahaha xD

    1. QualityControlFreak*

      Sounds to me like you have reason to feel proud of yourself. And Legos are awesome.

    2. ITPuffNStuff*

      so horrible to hear about the haters. for some reason the internet in general, and gaming in particular, brings them out of the wood work. you dealt with it better than i do; i (almost) entirely avoid games for exactly that reason. kudos to you for handling it so well.

      1. SandrineSmiles (France)*

        You know, it didn’t occur to me that certain areas were so bad online until I stumbled upon Youtube. Mind you, I’ve been called so many names before (in 2003 being French was apparently grounds to be called terrible, terrible names) that now ? Pfft, call me any name you like if you think that’s going to make me flinch.

        I just want to be an example for people who are not there yet. I mean I can be an ally for many causes as much as I want, but I can only be the example of something I understand…

        Thank you! Just gotta find more interesting topics to talk about. I don’t want to do basic vlogs with “today I ate this and the cat broke the cat tree and I cooked pasta for dinner” because boooooooooooooooooring xD

  9. Carrie in Scotland*

    So I’ve mentioned before that this year one of my main aims is to sell my flat and move and buy another in a Better City. I know very little about selling and moving and what questions to ask etc and so I asked my dad and his wife if they would help me with this (his wife used to be an estate agent way back when).

    Last week, it was suggested by her that since I do not have a job there (yet) and I have not put my flat up for sale (I desperately need a handyman to finish up a few remaining things that need attended to before selling) that perhaps it would be best to leave the looking around flats in Better City until closer to the time?

    I was quite hurt, angry and upset about this because it surely shouldn’t matter when, it’s the experience I need so I can do it myself and not have to involve anyone else. I don’t see what harm it would do to go down and look at what’s available. But they didn’t seem so keen. If I rent, nobody seems to want to look after my cat either as I haven’t yet found anywhere to rent (from looking on the internet) that accepts pets.

    Sometimes I wonder, why do I bother?

    1. TheLazyB*

      I say this knowing that it doesn’t really *help* knowing it, but she might well think she’s trying to protect you. She might not be the best person to help you if she thinks you’re taking a big risk. Maybe she doesn’t realise how serious you are, or hasn’t thought about how much there will be to do when you get a job offer and need to move pdq, or just is scared it won’t happen and is trying to protect you from future hurt?

      It’ll be worth it in the end. You know this or you wouldn’t be doing it :) keep on keeping on!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        All of these could be true. I haven’t always gotten on (still don’t) very well with her but thought that by offering she would feel included. Her and my dad helped her youngest son (who is same age as me) and his girlfriend when they were looking for somewhere to rent last year.

        1. TheLazyB*

          Which makes sense… it’s a great idea to reach out with something she could help with – but a plan like this, maybe protect it from people who demonstrate that they will try and pull it out of the ground and examine its roots. Let it grow stronger first.

          Once you’ve got that job offer, get her help then.

          Good luck. I’ve job searched from a different city twice. It’s harder but I did it, so can you.

    2. Elkay*

      Where are you looking to move to? I may know of a flat in Edinburgh that would allow you to take your cat if you’re interested?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Not Edinburgh, sadly but Glasgow. But thanks for the offer…I mean, I’ve only looked a little on the internet so I’ve not done too much researching.

        1. Elkay*

          Shame, it’s a nice little flat :) You might have more luck with private landlords for pets, my friend advertises through City Lets which looks like it has a “pets” setting. Good luck!

        2. Cristina in England*

          We have a flat in Glasgow (Govanhill), currently empty. If you are looking at Shawlands or the West End, I will tell you to skip over Govanhill entirely as it isn’t as nice an area, but if you’re looking for a 1 bed in a refurbished tenement building for under £400 pcm it might work (I would have to talk to my husband about a cat though, don’t know what he thinks).

          1. Carrie in Scotland*

            Thanks so much for the offer, Christina! But you’d have probably found another tenant by the time I am making my way down there.

    3. Persephone Mulberry*

      Did you ask why she suggested that? My first thought is not that she’s trying to discourage you, but rather is giving you a heads up that agents in Better City aren’t going to take you seriously as a potential client based on your current status. “Tire kickers” – prospective clients who want to see everything but aren’t ready to buy – are not popular because they take time away from potential clients who are ready to close.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Echoing here- there is a timing thing in real estate. It sounds to me like she thinks it might be a bit before you move for a number of reasons. It could be that the market is still sluggish and she feels you will have difficulty finding takers.

        Primarily what I see here is that you asked them for help and then became upset. My suggestion to you, is be more specific about the type of help you want. If you want help packing, then point to that specifically. But to be honest, I have asked family members who were real estate agents about moving and this is the type of answer I got- a big picture focus, over all strategy type answer.

        I suggest going back in on that conversation and asking her why she said that, what strategy would she use if she were doing this. Yeah, you could learn this on your own and you could end up with a financial fiasco in the process. I don’t think she was speaking down to you. Experienced adults struggle with this stuff. On major investments such as living quarters it’s a good idea to check in with others and see what they think. Perhaps find others to talk with and see what they think?

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      Maybe there’s a bit of a disconnect between you viewing looking at new flats as a learning expirance and your step mum viewing it more practically, perhaps your step mum might think that looking for new flats to early might distract from finishing what you need to in your old city to make the move a reality and depending on how quick the housing market moves in you new city the chances are that anything you see now won’t be available when you’re ready to put an offer so it’s just an inefficient use of time and possibly frustrating for you, but thats only speculation and your steps mums reasons don’t really matter. It looks to me like she’s just told you how she would handle moving to new city if it was her moving, if you’ll get some value out of going flat hunting in your new city then don’t let your step mum put you off, I doubt she meant to upset you.

  10. OhSister!*

    Any tips on how to help my sister . . . Or at least accept that I can’t?

    She is 21, and really hasn’t done anything with her life since high school. No college, no job, no friends, she doesn’t drive . . . Yes she has psychological issues, and she probably needs therapy, but that’s not something she seems open to at all, and our parents would be weird about it I think.

    I just get so so frustrated because she refuses to do anything I try to encourage her to try. She’s artistic, but I can’t even get her to do an Etsy shop. I’d introduce her to my friends/include her in things I do, but she’s super close-minded, and can be mean and snarky. She seems to have an unhealthy attachment to Mom, trying to be exactly like her in terms of dress/tastes/etc.
    My parents say it’s not my job to raise her, but I just want to see her get to a healthy point.
    Any help or just sympathy would be appreciated. Thanks!

    1. JMW*

      Much sympathy! Sadly, you cannot help someone who is not ready to be helped. When I was teaching school years ago, a psychologist came to speak with us about kids with problems, and the question someone asked was, “What do you do when a kid is having problems and the parents are not responsive?” His answer was to pray for the kid to get worse. Sometimes it takes getting worse to realize you need help.

    2. TheLazyB*

      I think I would be the same in your shoes. And I would be really worried about her too. But from what you see it sounds like your parents are totally right.

      Worried that this will sound snarky and you might have misrepresented yourself, but your post is all about what you think she should do, no? What does she want to do? That’s where I would suggest starting.

      She’s got a sister who cares deeply about her. She’s obviously got something going for her :)

      1. OhSister!*

        Thanks LazyB! You are right that really has been an issue on my end, and I’m really trying not to frame it to her in a way that says my life choices are better than yours. I’m afraid I’ve burned bridges there in the past. She just seems directionless, but maybe she would be open to conversation.

        1. TheLazyB*

          She might be scared to share with you from what you say? Could you work on being really, really non-judgemental with her and rebuild those bridges?

          Sounds like you may be doing that already :)

    3. fposte*

      I think you have to accept your limits there–you can’t make her be different than she is. Could you at least include her with your friends sometimes? I imagine she’s less likely to be mean to them than to you, and they can probably fend for themselves with her if they know the situation. The other thing that might be worth doing is working on that “our parents would be weird” about therapy thing. If she’s trying to copy your mom and your parents are against therapy, then that’s dismissal by association.

      But ultimately you can only open a few doors–it’s up to your sister to go through them.

      1. OhSister!*

        I should try to include her with my friends, you’re right! She might agree to going out to eat or something. One reason I’ve avoided it is that everything would get back to my mother . . . X used cuss words, they watched a movie with a sex scene, they watched a TV show with a gay character . . . And I end up with more judgement from my parents. But it would be worth it if it helped!

        1. fposte*

          Well, you don’t have to go down with the ship! But it sounds like your parents are tough to gain independence from in general, so modeling how you negotiate things when they disapprove might not be bad for her to see either.

    4. AnnieNonymous*

      I think it would be helpful if you could separate the things that are worrisome from the normal bummer stuff that’s becoming common for young adults. It’s okay if she lives at home, especially if she’s single and/or doesn’t have a lot of friends to split the rent with (this doesn’t apply to her, but I have a lot of friends who live at home in their 30s due to immense school debt; it’s the ones who actually finished college who are living these “failure to launch” lifestyles these days). If she’s not working, you can’t lay into her for not having a car (which is the smart financial choice). If your parents can’t pay for it out of pocket, you can’t pressure her into going to school. Lots of good, intelligent people are loners, and if you have a lot of friends, it’s not helpful for you to judge her on that account. Basically, the only issue is that she doesn’t have a job.

      1. OhSister!*

        Yes, some of these things are normal. I’m working towards moving out this summer, and I don’t have very many friends at all. We live in a small town/ rural area so not driving equals not working. I understand life not working out, but she doesn’t seem to be trying, and I just want to help her find a little independence.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I think that you have thought of everything humanly possible here. My suggestion would be to say something like, “Sis, you know I love you. You know that I will always be there for you. But now I am going to go out and launch my life on my own.”

      She may actually need to see that you have moved on, in order to realize that she should move on also. In order for this to happen, you hold the door open for her to be in your life BUT you go and build your life at the same time.

      I agree that you cannot help people who do not want to be helped. I will add that if you try, you could end up hurt. And you are already seeing this as evidenced by her snarkiness/etc. If you keep insisting on helping, that snarkiness could get worse.

    6. TootsNYC*

      Not only can you not help someone who isn’t open to it–trying to help them can backfire.

      That’s what’s happening w/ my college-age daughter–if I suggest it, she will drag her feet and not do it.

      And you know what? None of us really want to do things we don’t want to do. Hopefully your sister will find something that makes *her* feel excited.

    7. Student*

      I have a younger brother who went through something similar. I’m firmly in the “accept that you can’t” category. Stop trying to intervene with your sister and raise her properly. Focus on making your own life great instead.

      Unsolicited advice is always self-serving. Realize that your family dynamic – including your parents AND you – are probably contributing factors. She’s not going to change unless and until she wants to. Pushing her is going to frustrate you and annoy her, to no positive effect.

  11. meep*

    The other day, I went to a meetup at the host’s house. It was a class and there was a break for lunch. I brought my own lunch so the host invited me to the kitchen to eat with her. She started talking and then asked me what I do. I told her I was unemployed. She immediately started going on a tangent. I could tell it made her awkward. For me personally, I feel really uncomfortable and embarrassed when people ask what I do.

    I am going to say it here: Please, stop asking that question. It doesn’t matter if you know them or not. There are other questions to ask when you first meet someone. You can ask them where they are from, if it’s a party you can ask the other person how they know the host, ask about their hobbies, favorite sports team, current events (women’s world cup, anyone?), etc.

    Asking someone what they do and learning that they are unemployed is obviously going to make it an awkward uncomfortable conversation. Unless you have a job lead or job that applies to them at the moment, it’s better to not ask that question.

    1. When summer arrives*

      I agree with this. The question can create so much awkwardness even if you are working. Besides, work is not my favourite topic for social small talk.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yes, I can sometimes see people mentally recategorizing me when I tell them I’m an assistant. It’s irritating, because the bosses I’ve assisted have really respected my intelligence and judgment, but telling people in social situations what I do ends with them viewing me as a lowly member of what they seem tho think of as the “secretarial pool”.

      1. Steve G*

        Well, I don’t think it’s off to ask what someone does, and something like “where did you grow up” can be even more awkward. If someone says they come from the Hamptons, you hear lots of positive “ohs!” If someone says they come from the hood, there is kind of an awkward silence…..

        1. Clever Name*

          Hrm. This is one of my standard go-to getting-to-know-you questions. I guess it doesn’t occur to me to judge someone. I think that where one grows up really shapes a person. For the record, one brother-in-law is from Compton and the other is from a dinky town in Mexico. I’m from a city in the Midwest.

      2. katamia*

        It would feel overly personal to me to be asked those out of the blue by someone I basically didn’t know. They’re not secrets, but to me work (even when I was unemployed) is a very “public” thing to share, while those would make me a little uncomfortable.

      3. LibbyG*

        I like the “for fun” question too. I sometimes ask “What’s keeping you busy these days.” Then they can talk about work or running or geneology or dogs or whatever they like.

    2. JMW*

      When people ask you what you do, it is because they are interested in learning more about you. It would be nice if people thought more widely about questions they could ask instead. I don’t think this question will ever stop being asked, however, so maybe it would be good to devise ways to answer it that match that intent.

      Think of an answer that tells the other person something about yourself – there is no need to mention whether you are currently employed in this endeavor or not: I am in accounting, I am a teacher, I work in hospitality, I am looking for work in the library field, I am interested in event promotion, I manage our family affairs, I have a degree in psychology and hope to move into social work, I love to work with my hands and hope to start training in carpentry soon…

      1. Not So NewReader*

        These are great answers. “My last job I worked in payroll.” Or “I am hoping to switch over to doing X.” Then have your redirect ready- “What do you do?” Or “How long have you been in your field?” Redirects always work if you ask a person about themselves. People are much less apt to notice your answer to their question. Answer them briefly then go directly to a question about them. People will think you are charming.

    3. Artemesia*

      People are not going to stop asking this. So you need to have a better response that doesn’t make you feel like dirt. If you have a profession/career or type of work you like or usually do then it can be “I am a chef and am looking for a position right now.”
      Or if you have an avocation or hobby you can just respond with that “I am really interested in photography and have been doing a series of photos of street life in New York City.” ” I love to knit and am working on projects for Christmas presents.’

      People need ways to scope out a person to make small talk. I often ask about films myself but lots of people never go to the movies and same issue with books. The natural first step for most people is the kind of work we do. We can wish that wasn’t how conversations began, but it is — it is like a sick person hating it when people ask ‘how are you?’ — annoying but it isn’t going away.

      1. katamia*

        +1. I watch a lot of foreign movies and read a lot of odd books, while I haven’t read anything “mainstream” in forever. And I wouldn’t have an answer for my favorite sports team (don’t care), and events like the Olympics, World Cup, etc. drive me nuts because I don’t care and they’re all anyone talks about for ages. And my main hobby is writing, which I don’t like talking about with people I don’t know well. Compared to all those, work is a much better topic and was even when I was unemployed.

      2. june gloom*

        On the other hand, the people who ask this question could also learn to ask something else. It’s not like they can’t.

        Of course they can keep going at it. Maybe they’ll stumble upon an unemployed person the next time and realize it’s not such a good ice breaker.

        1. Student*

          Some of us like talking about our work. I like talking about my work, and I hate talking about family (no kids). I really think it’s just as crazy for someone to tell me that I shouldn’t ask about other’s work in casual conversation as it would be crazy for me to expect other people to never ask me about my family in casual conversation. I reject that it’s somehow such a sensitive personal issue that one should not bring it up in polite company.

          It’s small talk, people. No one is trying to probe the deep recess of your psyche. They’re trying to get to know you better.

          When someone asks me about a subject I find uncomfortable, like family questions, I steer them towards a subject I’d rather talk about, or I ask them about themselves instead. I find that 9 out of 10 times, if someone asks me about my family in small talk, they’d really be perfectly happy to tell me all about their family rather than listen to my awkward answers. If someone asks you about work and you don’t want to discuss it, I suggest you try the same tactic – change to something you do want to discuss, or ask the questioner about her work. This is basic social protocol.

    4. fposte*

      It’s also worth considering that they’re not literally restricting the question to “What do you do that people pay you for?” It’s perfectly fine to answer with what it is that you do, whether it’s “Chase after the kids, mostly,” “I’m stripping all the woodwork in my old house,” or “I’ve been catching up on my reading.” People who are asking for some ulterior how-do-I-peg-you motive will be delightfully baffled, and people who just wanted an opening to talk to you about your life and theirs will generally run with the answers you provide.

      1. meep*

        I understand that but for someone who is unemployed, that is pretty much what is taking up space in my mind. That and looking for a job. I wasn’t expecting that question so I just said what was on my mind.

        1. fposte*

          I think that’s a fine answer, though. And as Steve notes, there’s potential awkwardness in most opening questions.

          Another thing to do, if you’re hoping not to get asked that question, is to get in ahead of it–you ask them the opening question and then do your own intro, framing yourself as you wish.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I so get this. It’s wise to have something that you do that allows you to have a mental break from job hunting. You could point to your love of books, or your afghan that you are knitting. Personally both my husband and I got a lot of mileage out of the funny thing the dog did yesterday or how the tomatoes are doing. If you have a good story, people probably won’t notice that you did not answer their question.

    5. SandrineSmiles (France)*

      I actually don’t mind the question that much, but I usually say something like “I’m unemployed at the moment, however while looking I keep myself busy with X and Y” and it goes rather well.

      It’s true that it would be helpful if we could be sure no awkward questions would be asked, but since those are in fact basic “getting to know you” questions, you can just spin the reply to your advantage.

      After all, just because you’re unemployed doesn’t mean you don’t do anything all day :)

    6. nep*

      Being unemployed is neither a crime nor a fault.
      I agree with one of the commenters — this will pretty much always be an ‘ice-breaker’ question. Sure, it doesn’t have to mean ‘what do you do to earn money’, and one can go in another direction with the answer. But generally people are thinking job. Most people are interested in learning what new acquaintances do; as one other commenter said, it is part of getting to know someone.
      I think an important point is people learning to be OK with being unemployed and answering accordingly. Being OK with saying one is unemployed, and/or talking about non-lucrative activities, interests…
      Easier said than done. I get it. Been there. I had to keep telling myself my unemployment (or employment, for that matter) does not define me.

      1. nep*

        (All that said — from a long time back, I don’t ask new acquaintances what they do for a living. I find it rather trite…and whether true or not, if feels like it feeds the idea that we are in fact defined by our employment.)

    7. Dan*

      “Asking someone what they do and learning that they are unemployed is obviously going to make it an awkward uncomfortable conversation. Unless you have a job lead or job that applies to them at the moment, it’s better to not ask that question.”

      How do I know if I have a job that applies to you if I don’t know what your skillset is? As others noted, “what do you do” isn’t synonymous with “where do you make money.” What I do and who I do it for are two different questions.

      When the unemployment rate is 5%, 19 of 20 people that you meet are going to have jobs. I’d rather cut to the chase with “what do you” because 95% of the time it’s not going to be awkward.

      Where I live, What do you do/Where are you from/How long have you lived here are the standard openers.

      1. june gloom*

        I think what OP was trying to say about having job leads is that since you don’t know if the person is employed or not, it’s best not to ask about work. As someone else mentioned before, in general, the question “what do you do” is assumed to be about paid employment.

    8. TootsNYC*

      I also think, though, that your answer should not be “I’m unemployed.”

      What kind of work WOULD you be doing, if you were employed? Say that.

      “I’ve worked in retail, but I’m looking for a job in administrative support.”
      “I’m a software engineer.”

      Or, focus on what sorts of things occupy your mind the most–pretend they asked the question, “What’s keeping you busy?”: “I spend my free time helping at an animal shelter.”

      “I’m unemployed” is a conversation ender! Don’t say it anymore. Be a more considerate conservationalist.

    9. Stephanie*

      I’m in your boat. I get it. You want a job, you’re working really hard to find a job, it’s the major thing on your mind, you feel inadequate that you don’t have one (and probably broke, too), so it can be a sore spot to asked about this painful thing. There’s a lot of shame and inadequacy around unemployment, but there’s a fair chance (especially after this recession and doubly so if you’re around a lot of new grads) others are or have been in your shoes.

      I think most people just ask it as an innocuous, getting to know you thing. Most non-assholey, non-judgmental people will empathize or possibly even ask if there’s a way they can help. I went to my five-year college reunion (at a college full of overachievers) out of work and was terrified. I got there and pretty much no one cared. I don’t think the question’s going to go away, really, so if you can figure out a better way to answer it (like with what you would like to be doing), that’ll help.

    10. beauty at a distance*

      To be blunt, I think that OP is being unrealistic in hoping that that the world will change to avoid making them uncomfortable. Sorry. If OP Feels better for venting, that’s okay.

      But if OP wants to stop feeling badly when people ask what they do for a living, they’d be best served by developing a coping strategy to handle things when people ask the question. People have made a number of useful suggestions.

    11. Liane*

      Miss Manners has long advocated *not* interpreting “What do you do?” as “What is your paid job?”
      As I just lost my (main) job, I am afraid I will be faced with this same situation a lot.

    12. Revanche*

      One thing that works for me is to say “I’m from X industry but I’m between gigs right now.” Then if I want to expand, I can or not.

    13. gsa*


      I was under employed for nearly three years.

      This is small talk, relax…

      When I was in college, the question was, “What is your Major?”.

      I turned that into, ” ‘What are you studying?’ and, ‘Are you taking any cool classes this semester?'”… Those questions led to better responses and more interesting conversations.

      My answers to, “What do you do?”, when I was actively looking for full time, permanent employment:

      Very little,

      All of it,

      Not too much,

      Anything that comes my way,

      As much as possible,

      Why, you have something in mind,

      Work on your small talk.

      One person’s opining,


    14. Nervous Accountant*

      Oh gosh. When I was out of work/wannabe accountant I would get the weirdest responses.

      “I’m looking for s job in accounting”

      “Maybe you should work in a daycare and it’s so easy!”


  12. Ali*

    So I survived my first outing with someone from an online dating site. We went to a diner for brunch. I would say it went “fine,” as in, the guy was nice, no red flags were raised and we’ll go out again. But…I’m not sure if he’s boyfriend material for me. I am willing to give it another chance because I know how awkward first dates can be. It doesn’t seem we have too much in common hobbies wise, though I know that can be both a good thing and bad thing.

    I’m also going to be seeing another guy in a couple weeks, though this is someone I’ve known for a few months already. I broached the “Let’s hang out” topic back in the winter and he said sure, though I was busy and stressed at the time so it didn’t go anywhere. I asked him again now that things are a little better, and he still has interest. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    1. Gene*

      Back in the early days of online dating (96), I probably went out on about 15 first dates. Probably only about 6 or 7 second ones, and only 3 went beyond that. One left after meeting me saying I reminded her of one of her high school teachers.

      I’ve now been married to one of the 3 for almost 18 years.

      1. TheLazyB*

        “One left after meeting me saying I reminded her of one of her high school teachers.”
        Well, that’s not what you want to hear!

          1. catsAreCool*

            I had a hunky history teacher who was also a sports coach. Sadly, he made history seem really, really boring. He was nice to look at though.

        1. Gene*

          Just had to explain to my wife why I was laughing.

          Just to be clear, it was a high school teacher from a couple of decades prior.

    2. Dan*

      An easier way to deal with this is from the perspective of “Do I want to see this person again?” or, if you want to go a little deeper, don’t look it as a “race to find a boyfriend” but rather, “find somebody who meets your needs.” Third, look at it as getting out, meeting people, and having fun.

      The thing is, you can always rationalize early on why some person is or isn’t the right one for you. The reality is that real life is a bitch, and you cannot know that answer until you really get to know the person. Nothing says that you have to be exclusive after X number of dates.

      With this mentality, first dates go fairly well for me, because I don’t stress myself out over the outcome.

      Oh, and don’t move in too quickly. That makes breaking up really hard.

      1. BRR*

        It’s funny because I always would try and wonder on first dates if somebody was long term potential.u husband was the only person I dated where from the first date I was about just enjoying our time together and not worrying about the future.

  13. Yep*

    Apologies up front for the length of this – I’d like some advice on a friend I’m concerned about.

    She and I have been friends since we were barely out of diapers. We haven’t been super close over the years, but I consider her like a sister – our moms are close, our families do holidays together, etc. Part of the reason why we aren’t super close is because she’s very socially awkward in a way that is hard to articulate – she’s sort of that person in the group that makes everyone else uncomfortable.

    Last summer I got married and she was my maid of honor and did a *phenomenal* job, really going above and beyond. She did have problems hitting it off with my other bridesmaids, for the social weirdness I mentioned, which got awkward a couple times, but we navigated through it okay. I especially want to be there for her now that she’s going through something, so it’s not just like, “Thanks for everything you did, see ya!”

    She hasn’t been doing well for years now, financially, job-wise, weight/health-wise, and most of all relationship-wise. I believe her terrible relationship contributes to stress and depression, dragging her down in all other aspects of her life. Because our moms are close I often hear about issues she’s having that she would never tell me herself, thus making it hard to bring up to her. I hear about stuff because her mom told my mom and my mom told me.

    Recently, her parents had dinner with my parents and they expressed more than ever concern for how she’s doing. These are the issues:

    – The weight issue: She’s overweight, and it fluctuates a lot sometimes going into almost obese. It is a health issue and contributes to her low self esteem.

    -The job issue: She is a substitute teacher and tutors on the side. She is about to lose her teaching certification (I don’t know the details on this) and is never going to be a full time teacher like she should be. Her mother used to work in the school she subs at and has been told through the grapevine that many teachers refuse to have her sub their class because she just puts a video on and reads the newspaper. Her reputation is damaged. My mom sends her job leads when she finds an opening for her skill (music), and literally gets no response.

    -The financial/living situation issue: She lives with her parents with no prospect of saving money to move out. Her parents say she’s borderline hoarding, which is a very recent issue because I’ve always known her to be somewhat of a neat freak. She is also compulsively shopping and spending money she doesn’t have.

    -The boyfriend issue: This is the BIG ONE. She has been dating this guy for FIVE years and he’s not a bad guy or anything, but is clearly not into her and it is going nowhere. He has NEVER told her he loves her and they have not had sex in YEARS. YEARS, people. And she seems to think getting engaged and married and babies are just around the corner.

    The underlying problem behind all this is that she puts on a front that everything is great, 24/7, making it that much harder to approach her. (Example: She talks about how healthy she’s eating and how often she’s going to the gym when I can literally see she’s put on significant weight.)

    One ray of hope is that she was the one to tell me – in a rare moment of honesty and vulnerability – that she hasn’t been intimate with her boyfriend in years and he’s never said “I love you.” I tried to encourage her gently to really think about what she wants out of a relationship and that I don’t think this is it, but alas, last we left it as they’re “talking and trying to work things out.”

    Given the facts that A, She puts on a front everything is hunky dorey, and B, I only know the majority of the stuff I know through our moms and she doesn’t know I know, and C, She’s socially awkward (making it hard to include her in outings or get togethers to make her feel more included), how do I approach this one? I really want to help pull her out of this hole.

    1. Christy*

      You don’t. She needs to be the one who deals with her own crap. You can’t make people want to change.

      And this is a personal prickly point, but gaining weight and near-obesity is not automatically a health issue. You can also exercise and gain weight by overeating. Let people worry about their own weight. She knows she’s gaining, and she’s definitely not fooling herself on it.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        +1000. Just looking at someone’s weight is not an indicator of their health, and it’s none of your business either way. Unless she has been told by her doctor that her weight is unhealthy, and she has ASKED for your help in losing weight, don’t even bring it up.

      2. Yep*

        I assumed someone would bring this up. I think when you overeat because of depression that qualifies as a health issue. But for argument’s sake let’s say it’s not – the more important point is that I *know* she feels bad about herself because of this.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      Well you can’t do anything about the weight. She knows she’s big and she knows it’s an issue for her family (or at least her mother), which is why she lies about having an active lifestyle.

      As far as the relationship goes….In general, I think we really need to get away from the narrative of “You deserve better” and the implications that “If you leave this jerk, someone better will come along and sweep you off your feet.” While your friend certainly does deserve better, we all live in the same society here, and she may not be wrong in her thinking that a heavy, awkward, broke, living-at-home woman doesn’t have many other dating options. In the moment, it really does feel better to be with someone terrible than it feels to be alone. If you talk to her about this, acknowledge that ending the relationship might result in long-term singledom. If she doesn’t have a lot of friends, I’m not sure that it would be beneficial to convince her to cut ties with the one person she talks to the most often.

      1. TL -*

        Yup. In terms of the boyfriend, all you can do is observe/agree that the ways he treats her are hurtful – but if what she wants most is to be in a relationship, any relationship, she’s not going to leave him unless someone else comes along.

    3. fposte*

      What I’d do for a start is tell your parents you don’t want this stuff passed onto you unless there’s something drastic, like hospitalization. You’re getting locked into her parents’ and your parents’ approach to her as a problem that needs solving. That’s so bad for friendship it’s practically antithetical to it.

      And she doesn’t have to be miserable, and she doesn’t have to tell you if she is (and it’s possible the notion she’s a problem is related to her resistance to buying into that by telling you about what’s wrong). Maybe you’re the friend who gives her a chance not to think about other stuff.

      I think you can say, if you haven’t, “Have you told Percival you want to be married and have kids? What does he say?” I also think you can say once (okay, maybe twice), “Are you enjoying your relationship enough that if you didn’t marry him or have kids that it’s still worth it?” But then you have to let it go; as a friend your job is more to listen than to instruct.

      1. Victoria, Please*

        fposte, you have got to be the sanest person I have ever “met.” You are really the Voice of Common Sense in my head a lot of the time!

        Yep, I would never have thought of what fposte said but now that she’s said it, I have to say “YES. DO THIS.”

        You are a good friend.

      2. catsAreCool*

        “What I’d do for a start is tell your parents you don’t want this stuff passed onto you unless there’s something drastic, like hospitalization.” This!!!

    4. Mander*

      Though I’m totally unqualified to make a diagnosis, my first thought is that she is struggling with depression. I don’t think there is anything you can do to “rescue” her, as it were, except to perhaps try to gently ask how she’s feeling. Trying to find a solution to the various problems you perceive is likely to backfire. Certainly when I was at my lowest point, any positive suggestions just got interpreted as reinforcement of my failures.

      1. Yep*

        I agree – depression is the number one thing here, resulting first from the bad relationship, and everything else is second to that. This is why I want to be careful about offering solutions – thank you for your comment.

    5. Amanda*

      I am a big fan of the supportive friendship. If I was in your friend’s shoes I would just want acceptance for who I am at the moment. She knows all the stuff you could tell her about herself/job/ love life but she might not be willing to face it at this moment. You can’t make her or pull her out of her hole. But you can be there for her when the bottom falls out and she has to face what is going on. You can offer advice when she asks for it — before that it’s just a lecture. These are the boundaries of what you can do.

      Also, just food for thought, have you considered she might have a thyroid condition which means she could be putting on the weight while still eating healthy and excersizing? Thyroid problems cause depression and lack of motivation.

    6. Clever Name*

      So why is her weight your number one concern? (Based on the order in which you placed it in the list) Also, yeah, it’s not normal to be in a romantic relationship and never have sex, but how can you possibly approach her about this? I agree that maybe you should tell your mom that you really don’t want to hear third hand information about your friend’s problems. Focus on being a good friend and being there for her. You said she is awkward. Often, awkward people appreciate hearing direct feedback or specific instructions on how to be social. But ask first. I’m the type of person who has few friends, but my friendships are really deep. Throughout the years, the people I consider my best friends have always been there for me, and they accept me for who I am. In Captain Awkward’s words, they are leading members of Team Me. Be the number one champion on your friend’s Team.

      1. TootsNYC*

        There is NOTHING more powerful than having someone who loves you and supports you even when you are screwing up and sabotaging yourself.
        Someone who doesn’t give you advice, or tell you what to do, or SCOLD YOU!

        Nothing more powerful. No one more valuable.

        Be that person for her. The one who doesn’t think she needs fixing. The one who thinks she can cope with all the horrible stuff.

      2. TheLazyB*

        I suspect she’s done the list in reverse order, seeing as the boyfriend is last and she says that is The Big One.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      I had a psychology teacher in high school that was an extraordinary teacher. Among the things he talked about was when he was a practicing psychologist. He said that the scariest people were the ones who came in for an appointment and said, “Nope, I don’t have any problems.” He said he was not going to be able to help them. This guy was a licensed psychologist and very well respected by the students.

      This is what strikes me here. Until she says she has a problem then there is not much you can do.

      It could be just my experience but when I am around people who have been talking about me behind my back I can feel a very strong, negative vibe. That alone would make me feel awkward and I probably act awkwardly and do not realize. I picture this woman as thinking, “My family and friends think I am a train wreck. I am human being first, though. I have no idea where to begin to fix this and I have no idea how to get my family and friends to respect me.”

      Perhaps your role in her life is to be the one person who treats her as a normal human being and let the rest go. We are supposed to love people for who they are, not for who we imagine they will become in the future. The people who are complaining to you about all her problems, why not redirect them back to her? “Gee, I am not in a position to fix that. Have you tried speaking with her directly?”

      1. Yep*

        I normally do have the philosophy of, people have free will and are going to do what they’re going to do – and I can’t help them unless they ask for/are willing to accept help. This whole, I’m trying to take a more active approach thing, is new for me.

        I really like the suggestions of treating her as a normal human being first and foremost. Thank you.

    8. beauty at a distance*

      The majority thought on this thread seems to be that your best route is to be supportive and accepting and stuff.

      I’m going to go against the grain and suggest maybe what is needed is some kind of intervention. I’m not a big fan of AA, and I’m not suggesting that your friend has a drinking problem (although some people hide this very well, and I have to say that your description of your friend’s issues sounds a lot like like descriptions I’ve heard of alcoholics), but I would ask you: if you think your friend is following some kind of downward trajectory, where do you think it might end? And: if / when she gets there, how will you feel about being her “supportive friend”?

      It’s a judgement call on your part, but I think you need to decide if this is just a ‘thing’ that will take care of itself – or is your friend headed off of a cliff? Frankly, it sounds to me like she’s got a bit too much support in her life (her parents, for instance). I can appreciate the difficulty in trying to help a person who won’t admit there is a problem. And it’s so easy for everyone to just shake their head and say “oh well, but what can ya do?” And the answer is: sometimes ya drag the person to rehab or a hospital or something.

    9. ITPuffNStuff*

      doesn’t seem like the boyfriend should even be in the picture, because:

      1. the lack of intimacy, whether emotional or physical, has made him a ‘boyfriend’ in name only.
      2. she has enough problems just trying to get a permanent job and start her own life as an adult (outside of mom and dad’s house). she certainly is not in a position to manage marriage and babies, and arguably not even dating.

      unfortunately, neither #1 nor #2 matter because these are things *she* needs to accept and act on. you can’t do it for her, or even help her (since it sounds like she hasn’t yet acknowledged she has a problem, and is therefore in no position to accept help).

    10. AnonAcademic*

      I have a different perspective: what are YOU getting out of your relationship with her? You describe her as being like family, so I get the sense that you feel an obligation to her (because your families are close, and she was a good MOH) that might not be totally healthy. If you met her as she is right now, would you be friends with her? Is she a good friend to you?

      I am a big fan of accepting people as they are, or accepting that you can’t do that and moving on. If she’s a good friend to you in other ways, and you can look past her being a bit of a sad sack, then stay friends and be a supportive sounding board. But personally I find that sad sack types who have no motivation to improve their situation bring ME down, because I expend too much energy worrying about them and trying to “help.” So that dynamic can actually be quite toxic for me. YMMV.

      1. Saucy Minx*

        Pity is not a good foundation for friendship.

        If you really like her, carry on, but it certainly sounds as if you don’t accept her the way she is & want her to change. I can understand that, since she seems to have many attributes & habits & behaviors that are not working in her best interests, but why should she change for the sake of others? That would be unhealthy. It is for her to say if & when she wants to change.

        The best gift of friendship is acceptance. If she is not truly acceptable to you as is, then it would be kinder not to be yet another negative influence in her life. If she is acceptable as is & you can just enjoy her company, then that would be wonderful.

    11. Student*

      You list out all of these issues that your friend is having: health, job, financial stability/independence, possible mental illness, and an unsatisfying relationship with a boyfriend.

      I cannot fathom how, in looking at all those issues, you would flag the “unsatisfying boyfriend” as your friend’s worst problem. Please stay out of your friend’s problems and just try to enjoy her company.

    12. Yep*

      Thanks everyone. You all clearly put a lot of thought into your comments and I appreciate it.

  14. YandO*

    In continuation of yesterday conversation about San Francisco….

    What do you think is a do-able income for a single person in mid-20s living there?

    My plan is to give up my car (I’m cool with that. I did not have one when I lived in DC) and probably get roommates (less cool, but this is only until my BF can move there 9 months-ish). I will have to fly home to midwest regularly. I have health stuff, but with good insurance it should all be covered 100%. I don’t have any student loans or debt.

    I need to be realistic about what salary I need to live semi-comfortably and what salary I can get. I took a huge pay cut when I left DC (moved to much cheaper area), but now I am struggling to get any offers that match my old salary. However, I am trying to enter into a new field with only 1 year of relevant experience (total 4 years).

    I’ve been actively looking about 6 months and it’s been nothing short of a roller-coaster.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      A lot will depend on where you live (in the city, even which section of the city, vs living outside the city). But I will give you a data point from someone who worked for me when I moved her from Boston to SF. We gave her a slight increase in pay for the move, and ended up paying her around $90K in SF. She wanted to live in the city (North Beach), and even on that salary she needed a roommate. She did travel back and forth to visit her family, about 4 times per year. She didn’t have a car, didn’t have many extravagances other than an occasional good restaurant.

      She stayed on my team about a year, and then moved to another job in SF that paid better. That’s something to consider. Once you have made the move and have a job, you can keep your eyes peeled for a new job at a better salary. Don’t think of the salary you take after your move to be your endpoint. If it’s enough to get you through the move and you are confident in your skills and the market for your skills, you should be in a good place.

    2. Mints*

      I feel like the best thing is to actually look at Craigslist and such and look at real concrete numbers. Especially because almost everybody has roommates, but that still varies hugely on how nice of a space you can rent (a closet turned bedroom? Guest house?). And the BART fares, and grocery numbers are fairly easy to look up too

      I’ll say 30,000 for a nice round number though

      1. S*

        30k a year in SF? I don’t know what that’s going to get you beyond an SRO in the Tenderloin… it’s hard to live even in the East Bay on that salary unless you own your property or are extremely lucky.

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          Well Mints did mention “a closet turned bedroom” as an option, so $30,000 might work in that case.

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          Wow, yeah. When I lived there in the early 90’s, I was making $30K and had to live in Concord with three roommates in a two-bedroom apartment. My dad bought me a crappy-ass used car (with no A/C), and I still had no money left over each month. The reason I declared Ch 13 (debt restructuring) bankruptcy in 2000 was because of the debt I raked up trying to stay alive in the Bay Area on $30K. And prices for *everything* have only gone up, up, up since then. I know I wouldn’t move back now unless I could make at least $80K, and that would still mean a paycheck-to-paycheck existence with hardly any “extras” in life. And it would mean living somewhere in the [far] East Bay, not in the City itself.

    3. Hellanon*

      Rents in SF itself really are running an average of 4k per month – they say a person needs to make about 65K to manage here in L.A., and our average rentals are in the 2k per month range (more in really hot neighborhoods). So I’d guess for SF you’d need to pull down in the 100k range, keeping in mind that *everything* is more expensive high-income cities. Best Friend and I went out for salad, pasta & a bottle of wine the other night and it was close to $200, and it wasn’t expensive wine; movies run $14-$15, drinks the same, cups of coffee in the $4 range… yes, of course you can spend less, but are you going to want to spend all your time at 1pm showings or watching TV at home, if you are living in SF?

    4. Anonymous Educator*

      I’d say to live comfortably alone, you’d want to make about $5000/month after taxes. If you want to live comfortably with a roommate, $4000/month after taxes will probably do.

      I think a lot of it really depends on your lifestyle. Do you eat out a lot (there is a lot of good food in SF)? Do you plan to travel a lot? Any expensive hobbies? Student loans?

      You’ll find in SF that studios are running in the $2000-2400 range, with one-bedrooms in the $2600-3500 range (depending on neighborhood). The East Bay is a little cheaper (emphasis on little) than SF.

      1. Aam Admi*

        My boy works in SF – he is in mid 20s, rents a decent studio apartment 10 minutes bus ride from the downtown office for $2000. He doesn’t own a car but gets rentals as needed. He works for a start-up – they get catered meals Mon-Fri and wear jeans all the time. So spending little on groceries or clothes. He gets paid a little over 100k and seems to be having a great life – eating out every weekend and flying out to meet friends in other states once a month.

    5. S*

      I’m an SF refugee. I could NOT live there on what I was making, and as I packed up my car and drove out of there for the last time, I let out the biggest sigh of relief. Nothing less than 70k will get you comfortable in that city (unless you’d like to live on the outskirts of the city in sketchy neighborhoods with broke college students…). A friend of mine is a software engineer and is getting paid the big bucks. She has 6 other roommates.

      There were certain things that I loved about SF while living there, but I found that the financial stress it placed on me made me hate everything about it and I can’t even talk about the city now without feeling the same anger and stress that I did when I was living there.

    6. AnonAcademic*

      I live outside NYC currently and am moving to SF bay later this month. My rough sense based on COL in both cities is that you could probably survive living a pretty broke-ass lifestyle for 50K in SF, but it wouldn’t be a nice life. You’ have to nix travelling home more than once a year probably. 75k would probably be the minimum to be semi-comfortable.

      My new job on the peninsula pays 50K and plenty of people in the office seem to be doing ok on that salary, but none of them live in SF and many have spouses who work. My husband is job searching out there right now and expects to get a job equivalent or better than his NYC job, which would mean about 130k+, so we’re gambling a bit on that happening soon.

      1. Revanche*

        Good luck with his job search! And I hope you guys love it here. Warning, we’re having weird weather in the Peninsula with some uncharacteristically warm days.

    7. Gene*

      Here’s a good calculator that CNN has put together. I’ll put the link in as reply to this reply.

      And here’s a data point from me; in 1988 I lived with Wife #1 in San Mateo, between my salary, part time work as a sailing instructor/charter skipper and her disability income, we made about $80k that year. We were on the list for a subsidized home loan. The Bay Area is expensive. Guessing, I’d say you would need about a 20% boost over what you would make in DC to live in SF.

    8. Anonyby*

      I live in the South Bay rather than SF proper… And yeah, you need to be making 6 digits to be able to rent on your own. With a roommate and small apartment, 50-60k is doable, but not nice. The only hope was to have purchased a house before the tech industry inflated the COL around here.

    9. YandO*

      I would like to thank everyone for your thoughtful responses. I have a lot to think about and consider.

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Some of it will also depend on what you consider “liv[ing] semi-comfortably.”

        For some people, that means eating out only once a month, never renting a Zipcar, never Ubering/Lyfting, grocery shopping at only Trader Joe’s, and not buying any new clothes and getting only IKEA or other super cheap furniture.

        For other people, that could mean eating out twice a week, Zipcar/Uber/Lyft once a week, grocery shopping at Whole Foods or Andronico’s, getting new clothes once a week and getting some expensive furniture… and taking vacations twice a year.

        Neither is unreasonably frugal or unreasonably extravagant, but the latter will definitely add significantly more to your monthly budget than just the rent.

        1. fposte*

          One of the reasons I’ve been able to save well for retirement is that I’m in a low cost of living area with an inexpensive standard of fun. When I read what new grads in New York spend just to go out I nearly faint.

  15. Mimmy*

    Okay that’s it….I’m ready to move to the desert, or at least anywhere that doesn’t have trees and grass!

    Almost every spring or summer since about 2003, I get some sort of weird rash, the cause(s) of which we can never pinpoint. The presentation is either one or more areas of itchy blisters, usually on my forearms, or a widespread rash. The blisters usually start as a small bump. Most outbreaks tend to last several weeks. The itching can sometimes become unbearable.

    I now have a new blister on my forearm that started 2-3 days ago–I’ve been putting some old corticosteroid cream on it, which I’m hoping will keep it from spreading and getting worse. So far, so good. The last thing I remember doing was earlier in the week picking up small branches that had fallen from our tree (no, I don’t know what kind of tree it is). Other than that, about a week may go by between the yard work and the first sign of a rash.

    Ugh, I cannot afford to have a full outbreak right now–I have a lot of things coming up in the next couple of weeks, then we’re off for our annual family gathering at the shore. Not to mention Jury Duty on Wednesday!

    I’m thinking of getting tested to see if I have any skin allergies; yet if it was allergic, I don’t think these bouts wouldn’t last several weeks, (though I’ve read that poison ivy can take a few weeks to clear). I’m always careful to not touch / go near questionable plants, and I often wash my hands and forearms with cool water and dish soap as soon as possible after most yard work (I read somewhere that the anti-grease element in dish soap can help clear the oils of poisonous plants). Also, the two times I’ve been tested before was with needles. The dermatologist I go to offers “patch” testing, which uses patches that you wear for a couple of days, rather than needles. The last “prick” test showed a ton of outdoor allergies, but that was done through my ENT’s office to pinpoint sinus issues. Is it worth it to get the patch test done in light of the prick test results? My other thought was some sort of autoimmune issue.

    Any suggestions are appreciated!

    1. littlemoose*

      If you can do urgent care or maybe an MD appointment on Monday, a short course of prednisone or Medrol would probably help a lot. I know steroids aren’t ideal and that not everyone can tolerate them (I’ve been on them several times myself), but this seems like a situation where a short taper might keep it from progressing and/or help it heal faster.
      /not a doctor, just a sickie

    2. Yep*

      I don’t know much about allergies, and this may just be a bandaid on the problem, but…I have a similar but different skin issue with intense itching on my legs and I got prescribed Triamcinolone Acetonide cream. I’ve tried tons of different things and this works well. You could try asking your dermatologist about it – it is prescription only. At the very least you can treat your itching while you’re waiting for your next allergy test, or whatever you end doing.

    3. AcademicAnon*

      Go to the doctor first as it might not be allergies. However I’ve a relative who is very allergic to poison ivy to the point that is she comes into contact with the oil on something else – someone’s shirt or the dog she breaks out. And it’s very much like blisters that break open and it does last for weeks even with a prescription to help clear it up.

    4. Stephanie*

      Oh, trust me. You can still have allergies out here. And there’s not really rain to wash away the pollen.

      1. Mimmy*

        Drat! I love Arizona (I think that’s where you are?)–I went to Scotsdale with my mom and sisters last fall. I also love New Mexico, where my husband grew up.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          I’m glad to hear that, because I’m moving to Albuquerque in about 4 months, and I’ve never been there (my MIL lives there).

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I’ve driven through New Mexico, and it’s really pretty. The desert has a peculiar beauty all its own. And visiting Ex in Tucson, I was very surprised by how colorful it is. You tend to think of it as just boring brown rocks and no green, but it’s not like that at all. There are purple prickly pears! PURPLE!

          2. Stephanie*

            It is colder than you think! (It was in the teens at night when I visited last winter.) But New Mexico is really gorgeous and great for outdoor things if that’s your thing.

                1. Elizabeth West*

                  I thought it was really cool. They had a lemon tree in there and it had one lemon on it, and I took a picture. For some reason, I thought the lemon was really funny.

            1. MsChanandlerBong*

              I want to do more outdoor stuff. I don’t do much here because my neighborhood isn’t very safe. I’m looking forward to hiking and walking near the Rio Grande when we move.

      2. Gene*

        I am hugely allergic to olive pollen, ended up in the ER twice when I lived in Phoenix. It blooms at night, so when spring rolled around, I’d start on drugs every night until they were bloomed out.

        1. Stephanie*

          I have no clue what triggers this, but I’ve gotten allergic dermatitis every spring I’ve been here.

          Mimmy, it’s also dusty out here (especially during monsoon season) and the dryness can be pretty aggravating on the sinuses. So not fully in the clear here, unfortunately.

      3. Pennalynn Lott*

        Boyfriend was living in Las Vegas when I met him. Each time I flew out there to visit him, I could count down in minutes how long it would take for me to quit being able to breathe through my nose once I stepped off the plane. And it was so dry that I would get *horrible* nose bleeds. So, yeah, that’s a *fabulous* combination: Completely stuffed nose (swollen nasal cavity, sinuses, and adenoids) PLUS bloody nose! Yay!

        Mimmy – Could you have poison ivy / sumac / oak growing somewhere in your yard? I was highly allergic to it when I was a kid, so much so that barely brushing the edge of a single leaf would cause me to break out in a massive rash.

    5. fposte*

      It doesn’t quite fit, but just in case–have you been in the sun at all, especially since picking up the branches? There’s a weird plant thing that causes blisters if you expose the area to the sun (people can get it sometimes with limes–there’s an instance with a kid eating a lime popsicle, even). I’ve gotten it a couple of times and I still don’t know from what.

      1. Mimmy*

        Oooh good thinking about the lime. My husband and I sometimes drink gin & tonic, into which we’ll squeeze a slice of lime, so perhaps I got a bit of the juice on me when we had some the other night. It’s a real long shot, but I’ll keep that in the back of my mind.

        The other idea is definitely plausible. Do you know the name of the plant?

    6. Clever Name*

      Get thee to an allergist. I assume it’s seasonal? Are you on any prescription meds? Some cause photosensitivity. Or you could be developing an allergy to something you’re taking. Maybe you can call your county extension and ask what is blooming when your symptoms are at their worst. Maybe that could narrow the search down.

    7. Sarah*

      I’d use Benadryl cream until you can get to a doctor. For me, seasonal allergies seem to make me more sensitive to stuff I can tolerate at other times of year – so I rinse my clothes with vinegar, replace my air filters, etc. too to lesson the load on my body which makes it feel easier to handle symptoms.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Hmm, I wonder if that’s why I’ve suddenly begun to get stomachaches when I eat a banana or a whole avocado (even a small one). My allergies have been really annoying since last autumn, which is just about when that started. I’m really bummed about the banana thing.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I don’t know if it’s an allergy or a food intolerance. I have no issues with bananas when they’re IN stuff; and the avocado thing could just be from eating a whole one (that’s a lot of food). I have a hiatal hernia too and when I eat a lot of food at once, I suffer. But I never had this problem before when eating a whole banana by itself. So hmm.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              Also, I read that banana and avocado can be related to a latex allergy (that is if you hvae one you can be sensitive to those foods because they are related), but I don’t have a latex allergy.

    8. Anon369*

      Is celiac disease a possibility? It can present with an itchy rash that can be really hard to get rid of.

      1. littlemoose*

        I don’t think it would be so cyclical if it were dermatitis herpetiformis, but that’s certainly a possibility.

    9. Natalie*

      This might be a silly question, but do you wear long sleeves and gloves when you do outdoor work? It sounds like something is getting on your skin, and that might be a preventative measure, at least until you figure out what you’re reacting to.

      1. Mimmy*

        I have done that in the past, but it’s not easy to do when it’s hot out. Maybe I can try to find myself a lightweight, long-sleeve shirt in a light color that might work. Thanks!

        1. Natalie*

          I know they make sun protective clothes, which I always assumed must be engineered to be cool wearing. Maybe look for those. Or garden early in the morning or late in the evening when it’s still cool.

    10. catsAreCool*

      Do you have any pets? When I was a kid, I tended to get poison oak from our dogs – it usually showed up on my wrists (from petting the dogs – apparently the palms of the hands are more immune) or on my legs when I wore shorts because the dogs rubbed against me. Could something like that be happening to you? I know poison oak and ivy aren’t the same, but it seems like they have some similar qualities.

  16. chai tea*

    Do you like where you live? Why or why not?

    I’ll start.

    Major cosmopolitan city with great cultural life
    Somewhat affordable to live in
    Nice people
    Decent public transportation

    Terrible winters
    Public transportation could be better

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Not especially (see post above – I’m planning on moving).

      Good architecture
      Lovely parks
      Beautiful older parts of the city (Uni campus, harbour village)
      I’ve had lots of happy times here
      Close to countryside/hills/etc

      Small, insular city with terrible traffic
      Very expensive for what it can offer/location (seriously, it’s ridiculous)
      Local accent
      Lack of variety of concerts, places to go, things to see, culture etc
      Local council seem intent in ruining the city centre
      Takes forever to get to anywhere cosmopolitan if you don’t drive or fly (I don’t do either)

      1. EvilQueenRegina*

        If it wasn’t for the fact that I’m in England I would wonder if we lived in the same town! My town is insular, the local accent resembles that of Sam from Lord of the Rings, there’s not a lot to do.

    2. Mimmy*

      Eh…I could take it or leave it.

      – House is close to a bus stop (about a 5-minute walk)
      – Doctor’s office is close too
      – Some nice neighbors

      – High property taxes!!
      – Aforementioned bus only comes by once an hour; overall public transportation is okay, but could be better
      – Motorcyclists ride up and down our street during the spring and summer; sometimes they soup up their engines to make them obnoxiously loud

    3. fposte*

      Yes, overall.

      My commute is under 15 minutes
      Cost of living (house prices especially) is quite low
      People are nice
      I have good friends and a good job
      Interesting if small arts scene
      Some decent local medical care
      No hurricanes and probably no big earthquakes
      Spring and fall

      Summer and winter
      Really limited restaurant scene
      Shopping is pretty limited so mostly it’s done online
      Growth isn’t being handled well
      A hill or two would be nice

      1. fposte*

        Oh, forgot on both pro and con: can’t fly to anywhere, but the airport is adorable.

          1. fposte*

            They might be, now that I think about it. I’ll have to look.

            You can park directly in front of the front doors if you’re picking somebody up. Security opens up about 45 minutes before departure time and is really nice. If you’re the first flight of the day, don’t even try to get there an hour before takeoff because the staff won’t be there yet. For years, they had this amazingly craftastic diorama (maybe kid-made?) featuring a model plane soaring against a blue-painted backdrop with cotton-ball clouds. I just wish you could fly actual places from there.

    4. TheLazyB*

      Fairly decent public transport
      Great culture scene
      Close to sea and countryside
      Great tiny city
      Loads of sport and fitness available
      Train journey here is spectacular (!)
      Lots of shopping, if you like that kind of thing
      Beautiful quayside
      Live music and clubbing scenes are good
      Pretty low cost of living

      Lots of inequality here. It’s like a tiny microcosm of London
      Reduced life expectancy just from living here
      Lots of run down high streets with more takeout places than actual shops
      Lots of alcohol and drugs

      I love it here. I moved away and never settled anywhere else. Been much happier since I came back :)

    5. Sara*

      Not particularly.

      Decent public transportation (when there is not several feet of snow)
      Lots of historical/cultural sights
      Lots of good restaurants (including some I can actually afford to eat at)
      Decent job market in my field/my partner’s field

      Not a lot of green space nearby (partially a function of city/this neighborhood living, but also just not enough)
      Unyielding, miserable winter with 7 feet of snow
      Very expensive
      Very different culture from the part of the country where I lived most of my life
      After 2 years here, I am still struggling immensely to make friends or feel connected to this place

      1. Sara*

        Ironically, I am a Midwesterner. (Is that irony? I feel like I never know for sure.) My time growing up was divided between Michigan and the Chicago suburbs, and I miss it terribly. East Coast living does not suit me at all.

        1. chai tea*

          Interesting! Then I would guess that you are in Boston (not trying to make you say where you are; I’m just curious). I’m in Chicago and everything you said applies. I also thought it might be Toronto!

          1. Sara*

            Boston indeed. (It’s a big enough city and I withhold enough key details in my comments here that I’m not worried about being found out. :))

        2. TL -*

          I feel like it’s Boston, too. Hello, if so, from a fellow city-er.

          I like it, though the lack of green space/yards is hard. Luckily, NH is never very far away.

    6. The Other Dawn*

      I love where I live now. I didn’t when I lived at my old house. But for this house/town:

      I feel like I live in the country (3 horse farms, two of which are on my road), but it’s still the suburbs
      I have lots of property
      City requires newly built houses to have no less than 1/2 an acre, so it’s not tightly packed
      Awesome breezes every afternoon
      Very quiet (except for those tree frogs!)
      Nice parks and nature preserves
      Easy to get to (I’m within a mile of the main highway)
      Stew Leonard’s is within a few miles
      Shopping is close by
      Close to a major airport

      The vet across town is 15 miles away…and I’m still in my town
      No good Chinese restaurants
      Pizza delivery takes forever and a day
      Taxes are a bit high depending on location
      Whole Foods is about 20 miles away (I don’t shop there regularly, but like to go there for certain items)
      Coyotes (we suspect one cat was a victim recently; hasn’t come home)
      If I had to take a bus, it would be a problem
      We’re inland, so not as cool as it was when I was on the coast
      Harder winters

    7. Stephanie*

      People ask me this and I have trouble giving an honest assessment as every time I’ve lived here at length, I’ve been un(der)employed living with family in a not particularly exciting part of town (for a non-retired person).

      -Beautiful winters
      -Beautiful scenery once you get away from the identical stucco houses
      -Lots of outdoorsy activities and a great park system
      -People are fairly unpretentious, save for a few easily avoidable areas
      -Sun, lots of it

      -Sprawl, so much of it (drive till you qualify…)
      -It can kind of feel like a large suburb with not much personality
      -I’m used to the summers now, but they can be rough especially around October when it’s like “It’s still hot?!”
      -Snowbirds driving 35 mph on the freeway
      -Economy isn’t great, especially for a city/metro this size
      -Sheriff Joe and the other motley crew of demagogues

    8. Mander*

      I love where I live now, in northeast England, but I’m sadly in the process of selling up and moving to London (waaahh! Don’t wanna!!).

      Low cost of living/housing
      I love my house in my nice, quiet neighborhood!
      I know lots of people here — it’s the only place I’ve lived since moving to the UK 10 years ago
      Excellent public transportation & links to the rest of the UK/Europe
      Lovely beaches and other interesting places to visit, fairly easy to reach by public transport
      Nice small city with interesting architecture, arts, museums, all the shopping I need, etc.
      Stays light very late in the summer

      Very difficult to find work, esp. in my field (hence the move to London)
      Not very ethnically or culturally diverse
      Fair amount of petty crimes, drugs, “chav” culture
      Very dark all the time in winter
      Usually mild weather but it’s rare that it gets very warm

      I sort of hate London but my other half is already there for work. His job was supposed to be temporary but they made him a permanent offer he couldn’t refuse. And I did manage to get a short-term contract job there about a month ago, with a good probability of going back to work there next month. It was the first job I’ve gotten in over 6 years, so it just cemented the idea that London is the right move. Sigh.

        1. mander*

          Yay, a neighbour! I’m hoping that the move to London isn’t forever because I really like it up north. ☺

    9. Christy*

      Not particularly. I like my apartment and where it is located, but I don’t like the city that I work in that is a mile away.

      Huge cultural scene and theatre scene, one that I’m involved in
      Very liberal, generally speaking
      My apartment looks out on two different major walking trails and a giant field
      My suburb has great independent grocery stores and my favorite deli
      Fairly robust public transit
      There’s a lot of really smart people in this city
      I have a fair number of college friends here
      Convenient to my hometown and the beach

      Expensive as all hell
      Politics dominate everything
      There’s a divide between black and white people, natives and non-natives, the Washington vs DC divide
      I don’t like the gay scene
      People here can be real snobs
      Rampant gentrification
      Really bad traffic
      Everyone is concerned with how much power you have, relatively speaking. People ask what grade I am all the time. It’s rude.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, there were a lot of things I liked about DC, but I remember feeling kind of inadequate that I didn’t have crazy travel stories about haggling for a taxi in Marrakesh or an advanced degree.

    10. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Ech, no. Although it’s not by choice that we live here (military family) and we’ll only be here another year or two.

      We can afford a lovely 3br 1 1/2bath house, two years old, with a big yard
      We are two blocks from the river and Lake Ontario
      Fairly low cost of living
      Tons of opportunities for nature recreation

      Small town with few amenities
      Racist townsfolk
      An hour away from a decent mall, ethnic grocery, decent restaurants, and cultural opportunities
      Terrible public library
      Unspeakably bad job market
      Far away from family
      Lake effect winters with ungodly amounts of snow
      No public transit at all
      On and on and on….

      Only a couple more years here!

    11. periwinkle*

      Thought we needed another positive set to balance this out…

      Yes, I love this place!

      * Suburb of a major metropolitan area
      * Excellent job market especially for techies and professionals
      * Lovely physical setting (very green and blue and much sunnier than people think)
      * Expensive but cheaper than my previous locales
      * Mild winters, cool summers with no humidity
      * Drive-through espresso stands everywhere you look

      * Ridiculous real estate market
      * On the wrong coast for blue crabs and soft-shelled lobster
      * Seriously, people HERE can’t drive in the rain?
      * Public transit in the suburbs is mediocre
      * Most of the espresso stands in my neighborhood are “bikini barista” places which are what they sound like they are, which doesn’t bother me except that they don’t hire staff based on their latte-making skills

        1. Windchime*

          Pretty sure I’m in the same place, too. Because really, people? It rains 8 months out of the year. Figure it out. If you are in a place where people simply park their cars and abandon them on the road or the freeway when it snows, then I *know* we are in the same place!

          1. periwinkle*

            Yup, that’s the place. And fer cryin’ out loud, people, 3/4 of you drive Subarus – your vehicle is more than capable of coping with the occasional patches of frost that pass as “winter snow” here.

            Oh yes, another pro: Tons of places to get my 2003 Subaru serviced.

            1. Stephanie*

              Friend and her husband just moved to Portland and they already have a Subaru. I’m convinced those are just standard issue up there.

          2. LCL*

            Me too.
            The worst part is the reserved attitude. My favorite example to sum up everything wrong with the city is the lack of signs on the buildings in our downtown core. Big building signs aren’t allowed, except for a few grandfathered exceptions. So from the freeway, or the surface streets, or the water, all of these buildings present blank unwelcoming facades to the public. To find your way downtown pre Internet usually involved calling the business and asking for directions and a description of the building. The way to tell the hick from sticks is, they are the ones stopping random people and asking where the courthouse is. The hell of it is, we have a great address system but you’d never know it.

            Our PR is that we are a cosmopolitan city. I think we are a hick town with delusions of grandeur.

    12. Clever Name*

      Love where I live!

      Love the climate- snow in winter, but melts quick, 300 days of sunshine, no humidity, summer not too hot
      City big enough for cool cultural events, but not too sprawl-y
      Decent traffic
      People are extraordinarily friendly, in a genuine way
      Tons of parks and open space
      Drivers are friendly
      Have I mentioned mountains? ;)
      Cost of living not insane

      Spring is soul-crushingly awful
      Housing and rent starting to get too high
      Um, sometimes there is traffic getting to and from the mountains…

    13. danr*

      I love our town. When we bought our second house, we stayed in the town. Our area: semi-rural. No street lights. Big lawns and lots of wooded areas. Our lawn tends toward meadow. Working farms in a 10 mile radius. Great weather, we have 4 real seasons. Our police drive the speed limit when patrolling. If they’re moving fast, you know there is a real emergency. Very little crime. First aid and Fire are volunteers and we donate generously.
      Downside… too many deer.

    14. BRR*

      -in the suburbs but close to two huge cities. I like the quietness but can access the good stuff and near major airports
      -successful area (I used to live in a poor city and it causes a lot of other problems).
      -not too near my inlaws
      -lots of pretty nature and a cute small downtown

      -no restaurants besides chains or expensive bad independent ones
      -very family oriented and a little older of a population which makes it hard to make fellow young professional friends
      -few employers for what I do, I might be looking at a long commute

    15. Tris Prior*

      – Major city with all that that entails (can get takeout in the middle of the night, stuff doesn’t close early, if there’s a band you want to see live they ALWAYS stop here, etc.)
      – Very good public transport; do not need a car to live here
      – Once summer finally starts, it is beautiful here
      – Ethnically diverse and very liberal (blue state)
      – The lakefront, which is amazing
      – Fantastic arts scene
      – Decent green space considering it’s a major urban area
      – Feels like home

      – Godawful expensive rent, owning property (with actual land) seems out of reach unless you move far enough out that you’re going to spend hours in your car daily.
      – Winter is horrid. Long stretches of below zero with tons of snow. (ever have a window in your apartment shatter due to cold? I have…)
      – Spring is also freezing cold and summer takes its sweet time to get started
      – Some neighborhoods have really high crime and lots of gang activity
      – Our state government is pretty much f*cked; several of our former governors are presently serving time in jail
      – Most interesting people I meet, who could be potential friends, are actively trying to leave the city

      1. chai tea*

        This HAS to be Chicago. Totally agree on all of the above, although I’m saddened to read that most interesting people you meet are actively trying to leave!

        I don’t find the rents too horrible, but maybe I’m just comparing them to what I know friends are paying in LA/NYC/SF, so Chicago feels like a relative bargain.

        I sometimes wonder if the weather were better if our population would explode beyond control. It seems to be the main reason people want to leave. Maybe it keeps the rents manageable.

    16. Natalie*

      Do we live in the same city? The terrible winters part makes me think we might.

      Anyway, my pros and cons are the same. Additional pros: excellent outdoor spaces, good job market, state politics are generally not dictated by crazy people.

      Cons: although people are nice they tend to be distant, significant racial inequality, pretty far away from other cities so travel is a PITA

    17. TL -*


      Public transit (I like it!)
      Lots of interesting stuff to do
      Historical places
      Great food
      Walking friendly! (love it!)
      Within easy distance of many cool places, both city and nature-y
      Very food-allergy friendly
      Beach is right near my front door

      Not a hugely friendly culture (I’m from Texas…)
      Not enough green space in the city proper, though the city I live in is better
      Socioeconomic/class issues

      1. Bea W*

        Actually there is a ton more green space in the city proper. (Common, Public Gardens, Arboretum, parks, greenways…) Your city has had massive residential development over the last 10 years that ate up much of the green space that existed prior. I was going to mention downtown, but there was never any green space downtown (except the little sliver along the tracks just after the T station – I assume it still exists, but would not be surprised if one of the mayors sold it off LOL)

        1. TL -*

          There are big parks and such (that are lovely!) but I’ve been spoiled by growing up in Texas, where there’s lots of green space everywhere, even in the cities. So it feels like not enough for me, especially since you have to go to green space, rather than it being around you everywhere.

    18. Elizabeth West*


      Seasonal pineapple soft serve food stand that is the only thing I will miss.
      Some cool nerdy people.
      It’s kinda pretty in the spring and autumn because of all the flowering trees/leaf colors.

      BORING BORING BORING. For a city this size (160K or so), there is surprisingly little to do.
      Too churchy.
      Too Walmart/camo/Duck Dynasty/twangy/country.
      I have not met anyone dateable here. NO. ONE.
      Horrible weather–polar cold in winter, baking and humid in summer. Autumn rains. Tornadoes in spring (I do like thunderstorms, however) and sometimes in the winter as well. I am not joking.
      You can’t buy anything here. I have to go online more and more.
      Ethnically and culturally isolated.
      No public transport except for really crappy slow buses.
      Few bike lanes, and lots of places have no pavement for walking. It’s very much a car town. If you don’t have a car or have a shitty car, you are SOL.

    19. SandrineSmiles (France)*

      Calm, quiet village
      Affordable for the surface

      Public transportation -_-
      There is nothing in the village (no grocery store, no bakery, nothing xD)
      None of my friends will come over and I’ve been here a year :/
      No employer wants me because I’m “too far from Paris”


      1. Jen RO*

        You’re probably not reading this, but a lot of people here think of Paris as the standard for connecting the banlieus to the city via public transport… (but maybe you’re further away).

    20. Sandy*

      Don’t really. I’m glad it’s only for a few years and then I’m required to move on.

      The weather is gorgeous 90% of the the year.
      The other 10% is still way better than my home city.
      Fresh fruits and veggies all-year around.
      We have a good crew of friends here.
      Short drive to the beach.
      Easy access to hundreds of historical monuments.
      Fantastic health care.
      Regular concerts and cultural events.
      Lots of direct flights out of here for when you can’t take it anymore.
      A strong core of really good restaurants.

      Active war every couple of years.
      Standing evacuation plan for hubby, baby, and pets.
      Rocket attacks and air raid sirens.
      Bombings and other such things at the everyday places we frequent (market, grocery store, train station, etc.)
      High cost of living for goods and services.
      Terrible traffic that gives me a minimum 90 minute commute to work every day.
      Terrible racism.
      Politics dominates everything, including what grocery store you shop at (or don’t), what cab company you use (or don’t), what restaurants you go to (or don’t)

    21. Victoria, Please*

      Yes, but.

      Adorable little downtown
      Live within walking distance of THREE grocery stores, library, movies, post office, etc.
      Sweet house
      Short commute
      Beautiful weather…all the time, which is also the

      Not great food, really, where I am
      Pathetic public transport

      Yes, I live in SoCal. The drought actually frightens me and I would move back east if my husband didn’t love it here so much.

    22. NicoleK*

      Medium sized metropolitan area
      Medium cost of living
      Progressive state
      Ranks high on health, education, and other quality of life indicators

      Terrible winter
      Spring/summer is too short

    23. Seal*

      Not at all happy with where I live; am planning to get out within the year.

      Own my condo rather than renting.
      Short commute, generally with little traffic.
      Grocery store and vet are 5 minutes away.
      The month of April is absolutely spectacular – everything is in bloom and the weather is perfect.

      College town in the Deep South (although the fact that it’s a blue dot in a very red state is a bit of a pro).
      Summers are brutally hot and humid; the winters are dull and dreary.
      The mere mention of snow brings the entire state to a standstill (as a transplanted Midwesterner, this drives me nuts).
      Few bike lanes or bike paths; anyone who bikes is literally taking their lives in their own hands.
      Terrible public transportation system.
      Two hours from the nearest airport.
      An hour or more from any decent place to shop for clothes.
      The weekly farmers market offers very little produce.
      No family or friends at all in this part of the country.

    24. Windchime*

      Yes, I love where I live.

      Close to a big city with theater and professional sports
      Much better shopping
      Beautiful, mild weather year-round (dark and rainy in the winter, but still no snow)
      Way more job opportunities. Salaries are better because there is more competition.
      Fresh seafood

      Traffic, traffic, traffic. Seattle is 25 miles away and sometimes it can take over 2 hours to get there.
      Houses are crammed together, one on top of the other.

    25. Tinker*

      Totally like. Not surprising since living here is a deliberate choice though.

      — Reasonable variety of weather. It’s not a place where there is essentially never snow, for instance.
      — Any given weather condition does not generally stay around for very long.
      — A relative lack of iconic natural disasters (I grew up on the Gulf Coast and in Tornado Alley).
      — I have a 15-minute bike ride to work, mostly along a protected bike trail that is next to a nice creek. The same trail is also excellent for running in the evenings.
      — I can easily walk or ride, from home and/or work, to a nice variety of shops, restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies, “pharmacies”, and the like. There is a pizza place more or less directly out my back door, for instance.
      — The area where I live has a mix of buildings of various ages and construction styles from the late 1800s up to the present, some of which (such as the building in which I work) have been continually used and upgraded/adapted for various purposes (cattle auction building -> office space for high-tech, for instance). As I’ve got a bit of a thing for wabi sabi, this appeals to me.
      — A number of my friends live here, and I have a lot of personal history here — for instance, yesterday was our annual trip to the local ren faire that we’ve done for around 15 years now, having gone from a bunch of college students saving up to buy a nice shirt to a bunch of mostly tech professionals who are getting into the head-turning realm of quality costuming.
      — An environment of fairly mixed social/political opinions with a bias toward tolerance and a minimum of control, particularly in superficial matters. The fleece-and-tech-cargo-pants look, for instance, is acceptable more or less everywhere.
      — I don’t do as much Outdoor Recreation (TM) as some people do, but any time I have the impulse it is readily available for me.

      — Doesn’t have the sort of long and intense thunderstorms I recall from Kansas. It’s either high intensity and over quickly, or low intensity for a longer period of time.
      — A certain amount of sprawl, with outlying suburbs other than to the west taking on a car-centric supergrid with developments named “something-gate” flavor.
      — The aforementioned bike trail that I ride to work is part of a flood-control system and is at times partially or totally under water, which means that on days that the weather is bad I tend to get forced up onto the city streets where there are cars and me getting lost trying to find the designated bike routes.
      — Parking in the downtown/central area is always dicey, and in the immediate vicinity of my house it is positively heinous. Though I also get the impression that my “heinous” would get me laughed at from places with real parking problems.
      — I feel foolish wearing striped pants and a thrum hat and pretending to be a sailor, because this place is pretty much the definition of “not nautical”.
      — I have an awesome suit, and no place to wear it. Barring some tragedy or negative event, I will get to wear the thing once this year. Maybe twice.
      — Purple politics mean that man who stand in middle of road get hit by both sides.
      — I drive a compact car with the smallest available engine option. At this altitude, I have only to go into the foothills area to encounter roads where I start not having enough power to climb well. I am tired of getting stuck behind semi trucks, and will probably be giving in to the call of the Subaru at some point.

      1. Stephanie*

        Hahahahaha, ” call of the Subaru”. I have a Golf and I can empathize as to the uphill mountain climb struggle. I think it might implode on itself if I lived at a higher altitude. I had a Chevy Cavalier that was even more comically underpowered.

      2. chewbecca*

        Kansas native, and I hear you on the thunderstorms. I lived in Colorado for about a year after college and missed the thunderstorms here so much. And the sunsets. The mountains always blocked out the view of the sunsets.

    26. SP*

      I’ve only lived here 2 months, but I like it so far.

      -Decently sized city- not as big as where I lived before, but very far from the middle of nowhere
      -lots of other people looking to meet new people
      -plenty to do and explore (events, festivals, music)
      -Decent radio stations (including alternative stations without terrible reception)
      -Very short work commute (I can walk!) and a short drive to a lot of places
      -the hills are pretty
      -Food’s good so far

      -Politics- we’re a blue city in a red state, more or less, and some of the stuff going on right now is really bothering me
      – traffic- the infrastructure isn’t designed to handle the growth of the city/population
      -Hot summer- which I’m mostly used to, but it still isn’t something I’m a bit fan of (less humidity though!). All the rain lately is making it cooler than usual, or so I hear.
      -Rising prices

    27. Grand Canyon Jen*


      *A quiet neighborhood that is actually still within the boundaries of a large city with a major university, but not too much sprawl – we can be in the country in about 20 minutes
      *Fairly liberal, progressive city
      *Good arts scene
      *Absolutely fabulous public library
      *Great zoo
      *Not too close to my family, but not too far (c. 4-5 hour drive)

      *No sidewalks in our neighborhood
      *Conservative state
      *Vegetarianism is still considered “exotic” around here and animal welfare is a concern for the nuts & fruits
      *Small, insular Jewish community (nary a Reconstructive synagogue in sight)
      *Hard to get a direct airplane flight to many destinations

      But as I said above, I do like it here.

    28. Bea W*

      Diversity of people (ethnically, culturally, socio-economically)
      Lots of cultural and other interesting activities – museums, theater, music, lots of stuff!
      Awesome public and private libraries
      Reasonably priced public transit (that mostly works and is less gross than other cities…mostly)
      On the coast
      close a major airport
      Within a day’s drive to other bigger cities, Canada, and awesome vacation places
      Tons of history, historical sites, old graveyards
      If you are a genealogist with ancestry from this area you hit the motherlode. We have civil records back to 1600s (unlike some states)

      Super expensive to live and own a car
      Crappy roads and neglected public transit infrastructure
      Sometimes winter sucks
      Sometimes summer sucks, but at least you can go to the beach
      Really whacked out pockets of racism still exist (though mostly in populations living outside city limits where things are still pretty homogenous)
      Frickin’ pollen!!!

      1. Bea W*

        Forgot to say I LOVE where i live…except last winter made me question how long I’d be staying once I hit retirement age.

  17. Elkay*

    I found a really cool feature on my Kindle (Keyboard model). You can set the text display to be Publisher’s Font which means that if your book uses different fonts in the book you get them on the Kindle too. I know this is a small thing but it’s made me disproportionally pleased! Anyone else made exciting discoveries this week?

    1. Mean Something*

      I learned that in Facebook messaging (computer-based) you can hit Shift-Enter to get a new paragraph without sending the message. Small, too, but made me very happy! I like your discovery–seems like a good thing to offer on Kindle.

    2. StillHealing*

      I have a strange question about your Kindle. I have a new HD Fire Kindle. It my first Kindle ever. I pulled mine out of my purse the other day and my metal nail clippers were stuck to it. Turns out, it has a strong magnetic pull on two different sides. Does metal stick to your Kindle too?

      I don’t keep it in a case or even have one for it. I just think it’s weird that it has a strong magnetic pull.

  18. Trill*

    I’ve never used a moving company before, and I need tips on the etiquette of tipping my movers.

    Movers are coming tomorrow. I did my own packing so it is mostly loading my furniture and boxes into the truck. Then my stuff is being moved long distance into storage. I don’t know if the crew loading it will be involved in the long distance and storage component apart from the driver. So what advice can people here give me for tipping the crew and tipping the driver?

    1. Jillociraptor*

      We’ve moved a bunch, and I usually tip ~$20/crew member, regardless of their role.

    2. Heather*

      I’ve never tipped. And it’s always been just loading the truck. Everything is super organized.

      I don’t know – I don’t know what amount would be ok to tip. Moving companies are very expensive so it seems cheap to give a $20 tip when they are charging a lot per hour per mover to move. I know the staff don’t get that but they must get somewhat decent money.

      Don’t flame me please! I’m not cheap. I’ve just never moved. Fwiw I never tip my hairdresser either (she owns the salon) but I tip waiter/waitresses very well.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I usually give the foreman a tip to distribute among his crew. On our last move we had four guys load our stuff, and I think I gave the foreman $75/person. It was a long-distance move, so I knew it would be a different crew on the other end and I would have to tip twice. The move-in crew was two guys who carried my stuff on their backs (!) and unwrapped everything, then they put my bed together– which they weren’t even supposed to do because the other crew hadn’t been the ones to take it apart (I bought it in pieces from a neighbor). I tipped those guys $100 each.

      Keep in mind that this is all colored by the fact that I moved from NYC. When we leave this house, I will probably tip well but not THAT well, especially since they won’t have to deal with an elevator (a slow one, mind you) and tiny rooms with tough-t0-navigate doorways and hallways.

      1. Treena Kravm*

        This. I tip based on how shitty it is to move in/out of the house. Moving out of a 3rd floor walk-up with a tiny, tiny staircase in 100+ degree weather? Those guys got $50 each I think. I think I did $30-40 each when they had to go up one flight of outdoor stairs, and $50 when it was an easy move, but I asked them to move a 200-300 pound armoire into another room. $20 is a good base. Then you add for weather, how easy/difficult it is to maneuver, etc.

    4. K*

      I didn’t tip either times I moved, and didn’t know one was even “supposed” to until this second time. I don’t understand why I’m supposed to give them extra money when they are already being paid through the moving company…

      1. Dan*

        Unless they’re in a role where they are paid the federal/state minimum wage for “tipped” employees, I don’t concern myself with one’s financial arrangement with their employer.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Interestingly, there are people who say you should tip BEFORE the service is rendered. High-end wedding planners now do this, and I’ve heard it suggested for movers as well.

      The idea is that you do a nice thing for them FIRST, and then they feel obligated to you. If you wait to tip them after, they may decide that you might not tip, so they’ll just do their ordinary job.

      And I’d do $20 per person, probably, as well. They get paid a reasonable wage, so it’s not quite like a waitress; you truly do expect to get a little extra consideration for it, and you don’t need to tip a percentage. And more than a twenty-dollar bill gets awkward.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Yes, of course. And the tip is encouragement to go above the ordinary, acceptable standards.

          Take the example of putting the bed together. If you tip the movers before they do their job. they might volunteer to do small things like that to make your move more pleasant.

    6. BRR*

      If you google you will get a lot of advice. I did a lot but I didn’t have to feed them, they were quick, they were polite, and they were careful. It also matters how much stuff you have.

      Also make sure to have bottled water at least and snacks go over well.

    7. Thinking out loud*

      I had donuts for them in the morning and tipped them $20 each when they were done.

    8. kristinemc*

      We just moved my mom. The three guys were super nice, didn’t damage anything (dropped one shelf), and were willing to move some mattresses & tvs down to the curb for me. They also finished the move within my time estimate.

      I gave the tip to the foreman, & tipped $20 each.

      I also made sure to have cold bottles of water available for them at both houses.

    9. Aunt Vixen*

      Our last move but one, we tipped about $20 per crew member and threw in a little extra for the guy we’d overheard telling his buddy about his plans for his birthday later that evening. We also had a case of bottled water in the fridge and told them to help themselves.

      Our most recent move, ditto tipping but it wasn’t anybody’s birthday; ditto cold water (and it was hotter than the previous move, so these guys drank almost all of it gratefully when they’d finished the drinks they brought with them in the first place); and we ordered them a couple of pizzas at lunch time.

    10. Ariadne Oliver*

      I did not tip the last group of movers, but I also did not call the home office of their franchise and complain that they broke some of my items. They did adjust the bill downward to compensate me, but I’m still mad that they did not treat my possessions more carefully.

      I agree with everyone else, though. Make sure there’s plenty of cold water for them, perhaps a snack, and, if they have been careful with your things, $20 for each of them.

    11. mander*

      Wow, I must be a total clod. It would never occur to me to tip someone after I’d paid thousands for their service already. I got some quotes for my upcoming move and they were so astronomical that I’d feel really put out to learn they expected $100 tips, too.

      Tea, coffee, ice water, etc I’d be fine with.

    12. Malissa*

      I’ve been on the mover’s side of things. The guys carrying your stuff in and out of the house are low paid day laborer’s. Tipping them is very good idea. $20 a person plus extra if they have stairs, crappy weather, and extraordinary service. Have a cooler filled with water, soda and gatoraide for everybody involved. If they are at your house over lunch, be nice and offer to pick some thing up for the whole crew or order a pizza. It is usually very inconvenient, especially for the truck driver, to stop and go get lunch. If you do nothing else do this! The truck driver doesn’t need to be tipped. He’s getting paid rather well for his part in the move. If you give him anything he will just give it to the laborers anyway. Just keep him supplied with drinks and food. He can’t exactly pull the truck out to go get something.

  19. fposte*

    Coincidence on the book recommendation–I just decided to order the DVD of Love in a Cold Climate–the first version, with Judi Dench and Michael Williams, and Anthony Stewart Head as Linda’s blockhead first husband.

    Those are great books to read with Wikipedia at the ready to trace the real-life people the characters map onto.

      1. FiveWheels*


        I felt like I was 12 years old again! Only somehow more frightened of dinosaurs!

      2. Lillie Lane*

        It was AWESOME! (Saying this as someone who liked the original movie but not really super into it.)

        1. Mimmy*

          Do you need to have seen the first movie(s) to understand the new one? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the first JP, but I know the basic gist of the story.

          1. Lillie Lane*

            No, you don’t have to see the first one. But there are a few references to Jurassic Park that are funny/interesting if you remember those bits. The new one is so good, I really recommend it!

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I just got back from the cinema! DINOSAURS WHEEEEEE!!!! was my oh-so-considered review. :D

    2. Heather*

      I can’t wait! I’m going Monday afternoon. 2 viewings back to back. And I rewatched Jurassic Park (for the umpteenth time) yesterday for prep. :)

  20. Gene*

    Thoughts on the Rachel Dolezal situation?

    Broader question, does one need to be black to head a regional NAACP?

    Even broader question, does one need to be a member of X group to have a leadership position in an organization dedicated to X? (A woman for NOW, have had breast cancer for Susan G Komen, etc)

    1. fposte*

      I confess I’m more interested in the group identification to the point that she rewrote her past to make it fit. I haven’t followed subsequent details, but my suspicion from what I’ve read is she wouldn’t be where she is if she had been truthful about her heritage.

      I think in general, when you’re talking groups that are historically spoken for, projected onto, paternalistically excluded from decision-making, etc., then yes, it does matter that the person fronting the group is a member of the group and not continuing that speaking for thing. I think the Gallaudet presidency is a really interesting place to look at that.

      1. Jillociraptor*

        Totally agree. Allies are critical (and as I understand it, the NAACP Spokane does indeed have several White staff members), but people leading the charge should be the people most affected by the issues the group advocates for.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, allies are great, so I’m confused as why she felt the need to pass as black.

        On a less serious note, I was on the Metro in DC once and I overheard a guy talking about his renters: “Oh trust me, those Galludet kids can trash a house just like any other college students.”

        1. Natalie*

          That’s the part I don’t understand – why did she feel like she needed to lie? I’ve known multiple white people who are in the black community as white people. My college librarian is a great example: white guy, grew up in a majority black town, ended up with a black partner, is estranged from his family so is just part of his partner’s family, goes to their AME church, lives in a black neighborhood, etc etc. He’s never felt like he needed to pretend to be black to feel comfortable in his family and community.

          1. TL -*

            Yes! I also grew up in a mostly non-white American subculture and identify way more strongly, culturally, with people from that culture than WASP or other white cultures. But that doesn’t change my ethnicity at all. Still white.

          2. Stephanie*

            Yeah, I think every college black student group had one or two token white people. I know ours did.

            1. Natalie*

              This just made me think about Bamboozled, and the one white guy in the Mau Maus that really, really wants to be black. Kind of a mixed bag, as a movie, but I liked that segment of it.

              1. AvonLady Barksdale*

                I love that movie. When I watched it, I was in college and doing independent study on early 20th century Black theater, and Bamboozled did a great job of shining light on minstrelsy, including how it was done, that Black performers wore blackface, perception among different groups, etc. As a movie, not exactly one I would watch on a rainy day, but if I ever get to teach that course, Bamboozled will be required viewing.

                1. fposte*

                  That sounds like seriously interesting research. I did some work for a while on the Federal Theatre Project, and there was such amazing stuff in there. What I thought was particularly interesting about the FTP is that it provided a way for minority tech professionals to get into the unions, which had been closed to them.

          3. fposte*

            I think your answer is in there–she felt like she needed to pretend to be black to feel comfortable. Which is what interests me, in a weird way. I’ve known a few people that seem like this–they grow up in a majoritarian experience with majority privilege, but there’s something about the perceived significance and importance of oppression, prejudice, or abuse that speaks to them.

            It’s kind of a social Munchausen’s, like that woman who spearheaded a lot of 9/11 survivor stuff who turned out not to be a 9/11 survivor, or that woman who wrote the Holocaust memoir about being sheltered by cats or wolves or something and walked across half of Europe, and…not so much. I’m sure it’s a complicated psychological move, but I think there’s something in such people that says these stories speak to their pain and allow it to be acknowledged, and make them feel special for it in a way the rest of their experience didn’t. (Come to think of it, Native American claimants are pretty thick on the ground in this way–Jamake Highwater and Forrest Carter come to mind.)

            1. Natalie*

              I guess I kind of get that. I think there can be a point, if you grow up a pretty liberal, anti-racist kid, when you become aware of privilege and really want to repudiate whiteness. I remember feeling that way when I was a teenager.

              The part that boggles my mind is that she actually went through with it, and she was probably around 28-29 by that point. It’s not like it was an adolescent identity crisis.

              1. fposte*

                Yeah, I think most of us who go through this (and I think you make a good point about wanting to repudiate a legacy–and by extension any responsibility for that legacy) don’t go so far and pull ourselves out of it in adulthood. And while I can see letting a misunderstanding passively slide without getting your superego on “What the hell are you doing?” alert, this was active deception.

                1. Natalie*

                  Popped into my mind while I was biking earlier – I recall feeling (essentially) “I didn’t ask for this and I don’t want it” when I became aware of the implicit advantages granted to me as a white person. Like, can I return this for store credit or something? But of course, you can’t, and even if you start pretending to be black, all of your life prior to that has been influenced by your being white.

    2. Ariadne Oliver*

      If she’ll lie about her past, what else will she lie about?

      They should take a good hard look at what she’s done, and what she’s doing. Maybe this is the only thing she lied about, but maybe it’s not.

      I don’t think a person needs to be black to work for NAACP, or a cancer survivor to work for Susan G Komen, but I think they should be honest about who they are.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, I so love your username! I watched the run of Poirot this winter, and Zoe Wanamaker is clearly having a boatload fun as Ariadne.

        1. Ariadne Oliver*

          I always wished I was more flamboyant and free-spirited like Mrs. Oliver, but not as drunk. Those days are far behind me.

          I would think that any actress would have a grand time portraying her. Angela Lansbury did a great job, and there was another actress whose name I don’t remember who also was wonderful. Zoe Wanamaker can play *any* character, she’s so good at her craft.

      2. Florida*

        “Maybe it’s the only thing she lied about…” It’s not one lie. She lied about being black, her parents, her brother/son, the hate crimes, etc. She has concocted a huge story.

        Definitely agree with you that the lying is the worst part. She doesn’t need to be black to work for NAACP, but she does need to be honest. But here is another interesting thing about it: She isn’t an employee of NAACP. She is the elected president of a membership organization. Would she have been able to win the election if she were white? Would a straight person win an election for president of the local LGBT group? Or a man win the election of the local NOW? Winning elections are very different than being chosen for a job.

        I think it would have been very unlikely that she would have won an election for NAACP being a white person. As a broad statement, if the group represents a certain type of person (whether that’s based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, or anything else), they usually vote for the president who is one of them, not an ally. However, for the hired CEO, they might select an ally. The difference is the process by which they are selected and who is selecting them. Sadly, qualifications are not as important in an election as they are in a job search. Elections are often won based on factors that have nothing to do with your ability to do the job. They are often won based on charisma, confidence, appearance, public speaking ability, and ability to find dirt on your opponent, even if you are completely unqualified. (I know this happens in job searches too, but it happens far more often in elections.)

        Regarding her paid job as a college professor, yes, she absolutely could have gotten that as a white person teaching African American studies.

      3. Gene*

        On the lie front, the Spokane police have suspended investigation of her latest racial-harassment claim because it just isn’t adding up. She claimed it was received in the chapter’s PO Box, but there’s no evidence it was processed through the mail system (no bar code, no postmark).

        She also chairs Spokane’s police oversight board and they are looking into what she put on her application for that.

    3. Jubilance*

      No, you don’t need to be Black to head a chapter of the NAACP. I mean, look at the founding of the org.

      BUT…this isn’t the source of the outrage for people. My outrage, and the outrage that is shared by many, is that Rachel Dolezal had the privlege to take on this persona as a Black woman, and had a platform to speak for the Black community AS a Black woman. At any time, she had the opportunity to shed this Black identity that she co-opted and enjoy the privilege of being White in America. I’m not able to simply shed my skin color, people’s prejudices/biases and my history whenever I feel like it, but Rachel did. By masquerading the way she did, she took away opportunities for the voices of actual Black women to be heard, and for what, exactly? Because she needed attention? Because she didn’t want to be White anymore? I don’t know.

      Rachel could have been a great ally in the fight for justice, and she didn’t need to lie and assume a Black identity to do that.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Amen to ALL of this. White people have been involved in leadership roles in the NAACP since its inception. It’s the lying and the abuse of privilege. I kind of hate it when people discuss “white privilege” at length, because I’ve seen the term thrown around in occasionally misguided and hateful ways, but you’re absolutely right.

        I find the whole story fascinating and can’t keep reading the tweets. Ohhhhhhh, the TWEETS.

          1. Stephanie*

            I do wonder if the tweets make any sense to non-black people. I find them absolutely hilarious, but I realize they’re probably incomprehensible to anyone outside of black culture.

            1. AvonLady Barksdale*

              Most I get, some I don’t, but even if I don’t get them, I can certainly appreciate the irony that other people point out. I certainly can’t speak for all White people, though. :) It feels so awful/cheesy saying this, but bear with me– I have several close friends who are Black and we discuss race and culture pretty openly, so while I’m still outside looking in, I don’t feel all that lost reading the tweets or the reactions to them.

              This whole situation makes me miss some of my girlfriends, though, because there is no doubt that if I still lived near them, this would be the #1 topic during bottomless brunch, and I can guarantee you we would cover everything from her choice to go to Howard to her hair decisions. This thread is my mimosa.

      2. Nina*

        Yep. She adopted a Black persona like some type of trend and she can change it whenever she sees fit. Black women don’t have that option.

        1. Natalie*

          She also spent the first 30 (roughly) years of her life publicly white, and thus benefiting from that privilege.

    4. The IT Manager*


      But isn’t Susan G. Komen run by family/sister of someone who died from breast cancer? I think a medical issue/fundraising org can be run by someone without the disease; although, its often a family member of someone who has or had the illness. But advocacy/cultural group should be represented by someone of that group.

    5. Cristina in England*

      I agree that lying is the key issue here, in that she lied multiple times specifically about her racial background and that the lies may have gotten her jobs or other things instead of an actual person of color.

      I am so curious about her motivation though, like what on earth is her inner monologue like that she would do this?

      1. Lore*

        I had a really interesting conversation with a transgender friend about this yesterday. My friend, who is ftm, was talking about this in a group of queer and trans people, and one African-American mtf woman posited a transracial identification as something she could totally understand and empathize with. My friend said the entire room kind of went quiet for a minute and then everyone started to process that and it opened up a whole new realm of discussion. (Which does not, I realize, grapple with the lying, but was interesting to me nonetheless.)

        1. TL -*

          My friend and I were talking about this – there’s some strong indications of her being abused as a child (doesn’t excuse it) and my roommate supposed that she was desperate to identify fully with a culture that accepted her, rather than the one her parents represented.

    6. Steve G*

      I am amazed that the situation even occurred. Maybe its cause I’m part Czech….but….her name is typical Czech, she looks Czech. She is not dark at all (though people mentioned she spray tans), but many Czech people are naturally tan (something Americans don’t always realize)….so I look at her, and she looks like a Czech person with a hairstyle that does not suit her. I find it hard to believe that people around her didn’t question her nationality.

      1. Florida*

        I wonder if that’s a hindsight thing. If you saw her and was told she was black, would you have said, “No she’s not, she’s Czech?” or is it only because you know she’s Czech that you can say, “Of course she is. Why doesn’t anyone else see that?” I’m not familiar with Czech heritage, so I can’t really answer the question. I’m just throwing it out there as something to consider.

        1. Steve G*

          Well her name is a dead giveaway, but yeah, you can never really tell just by looking at something:-).

          1. Stephanie*

            Eh, maybe. Admittedly, a lot of black Americans do have English surnames (thanks to usually English-heritage slave owners), but people acquire surnames through all different ways. With the benefit of hindsight, sure, it’s obvious she’s got a wig and a spray tan. But I’ve known light-skinned black people or biracial people with similar skin tones.

            1. Elsajeni*

              Yeah, I feel like most people would not have openly questioned her, because it’s possible that she could be a light-skinned biracial woman — she has (adoptive) darker-skinned, obviously black siblings, her last name could have come from just about anywhere, etc. — and it’s so unbelievable that she would maintain the lie for so long, and, I mean, can you even imagine asking the question “Excuse me, are you actually a white woman with a spray tan?”… I can see how she got away with it for as long as she did.

          2. TL -*

            Plus, she could’ve just as easily been half-Czech, half-African-American (or Nigerian or any number of other ethnicities.) Americans tend to have complex ethnic backgrounds.

      2. KS*

        I actually don’t see why anyone would think twice about her nationality. She definitely passes as someone who could be of caucasian and black heritage. Her last name would make me think that her father is caucasian.

    7. AnnieNonymous*

      I’m not looking forward to the inevitable editorializing that’s bound to occur after more details come out, since this is one of those topics where if you don’t take an extreme, nuance-free view, you’re accused of being racist.

      No, you don’t have to be a person of color to hold a leadership position at the NAACP. Simply being a minority doesn’t make you qualified to speak in any insightful way; I doubt anyone would ask Michelle Duggar to lead a woman’s advocacy group just because she’s a woman. BUT. Dolezal obviously thought she would benefit by claiming to be black, and it seems to have worked, which is something that her chapter of the NAACP needs to answer for, since this arguably looks worse for them than it does for her.

    8. JMW*

      White people may be sympathetic to black experience, and they may advocate diversity, intersectionality, and an end to majority privilege, but they should not be speaking about experience that is not theirs- they should be listening. To think that, as a white person, you can accurately speak about the black experience, is kind of the ultimate in white privilege. It’s also presumptive, insulting, and dishonest.

    9. Florida*

      There was a book called Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin. He was a white journalist who became a black person. He traveled through the deep south in the 1950s, and wrote a book about his experience. It is an excellent excellent excellent book about race relations at that time. Very short and easy to read. I think it’s often assigned to high school students.

      Obviously this guy’s motives where very different. He was a reporter who did this for a few months, then went back to his white life. But the whole situation made me think of that book.

      1. Natalie*

        Although, interesting note: one of his own rules was that he would not lie about what he was doing if asked or if it came up somehow. He revealed to at least 2 black people that he was a white guy in disguise while doing the project. Maybe more, it’s been a while since I’ve read the book.

      2. Thinking out loud*


        Self Made Man, about a woman who poses as a man for a while, was also interesting.

    10. Mimmy*

      Not sure how I feel about this specific situation just yet. I do think it’s wrong to lie on an application where you indicate your race (which she did when she applied for a previous job–drawing a blank on what it was), but then again, I always thought that was mainly for the purposes of collecting demographics. So jury’s still out on that part.

      As for the broader questions: I see this type of question sometimes in the disability community, of which I consider myself to be an ally (I have a disability, but most people in the groups I align with have different disabilities than mine). Many people with disabilities feel that leadership of organizations specific to disability should include those who have disabilities. I wholeheartedly agree with this. HOWEVER, I also think that it’s fine for someone in leadership to not have a disability. If you can identify or empathize in any way to the group an organization works with / for, then by all means, go for it.

      So if Rachel Dolezal feels connected to the black community, even if she herself is white, I see no problem with her being a leader in NAACP. It’s the fact that she misrepresented her race that’s bothering people.

      (FTR: I haven’t read all the comments above me – I will read those later).

      1. Marcela*

        I never, ever, answer questions about my race, and I don’t see why that should be read as I am lying about it. The US is the only country where that intrusive question has ever been asked to me. If I can’t leave the answer blank, I will select all options. The only reason to tell someone my “race” is to take in consideration the different health risks for different groups of people, but that’s a conversation I need to have with my doctor, not when asking for a drivers license or work permit or even filling the paperwork for my job. It’s specially bad here where there is a big mess in the definition of race and ethnicity. I am Latina, therefore in many form I am supposed to say I am white and Hispanic. No way. I do not consider myself white and while my culture share roots with Spanish and other Latin American people, we are not the same thing, and I experienced that when I lived in Spain.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t think you necessarily need to be black, but it bothers me that she lied. That alone would make me question her integrity deeply. The nature of the lie seems as though she made her position more about her own experience than that of the people she’s representing. It’s like she was seeking attention by identifying with them, seeking it FROM them. And that business of the student she allegedly said didn’t look Hispanic enough to do a thing in class? If true, that’s really some serious chutzpah.

      If you’re the president of an organization, your behavior should reflect well on it. Hers does not.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        This has been my very favorite slow news week (slow news three days?) in history, solely due to posts like this.

    12. ITPuffNStuff*

      1. honestly, i can’t determine how they even legally asked her what her race was. i mean, it would be really difficult to fire her now without claiming she was eliminated due to race, which would be an employment law violation.

      2. the mere fact that this is even a controversy at all shows that race is a major consideration of employment in that job, which, again, violates employment law.

      3. if her performance has been good up to this point, why do they even care? i mean, are they seriously considering replacing a qualified person with good performance because “well we just really wanted a person of the ‘right’ race…” that would have to lead inevitably to the question “what is the ‘right’ race for this job?” and again, they’re right back into violating employment law.

      1. ITPuffNStuff*

        nevermind, i presumed chapter president was an employment role; apparently it’s elected, so i presume it doesn’t come with a salary. if it’s a volunteer role, i presume employment law doesn’t apply.

      2. JMW*

        They care because her credibility with the black community is seriously compromised. Imagine if the leader of the National Organization of Women turned out to be a man in disguise – not transgender, but just pretending to be a woman because he thought he could do a better job of being the leader of this group than a woman could. And maybe he does a pretty good job.

        The women who work with him are thinking he really understands what it’s like to be a woman, when in fact he does not, so they’ve been duped. He has taken this job (when there are a gazillion jobs that men can get more easily than a woman) in the place of qualified women who could have also excelled. He could have applied for the job as a man, and maybe been hired, but he chose a dishonest path. Are you liking this guy? Because I am not. If you want to experiment (aka Black Like Me), don’t take leadership roles in our organization, take a citizenship role.

        Think about any advocacy group that you might be a part of, and imagine if the leader of the group had pretended to be part of the group when they were not… a leader who pretended to be a cancer-survivor when they weren’t, pretended to be a veteran when they weren’t, pretended to be gay when they weren’t…

        There is a huge conversation going on in this country surrounding the fact that white people don’t really understand what it is like to be black in this country. And here is a woman who thinks that coloring her skin and changing her hair and having a black step-brother confers on her an understanding of blackness. It may have provided her some insights, but it does not confer the kind of understanding that comes from being raised black in a black community by parents and grandparents who have suffered discrimination.

        Does she need this understanding for her work at the NAACP? Perhaps not. But she has become a symbol of the conversation about race in this country, which is that white people don’t get it.

        1. ITPuffNStuff*

          hi jmw,

          thank you for responding. my comments above were based on my presumption this was an employment role, wherein it would be illegal to allow race to even enter the picture.

          after posting it, i discovered this is actually not an employment role, but (i think) more like a volunteer position, so yes, i agree with everything you’ve said above.

          to your point that white people don’t know what it’s like to be black, that’s true, we don’t. but then, how could we, and why would that be a reason for the judgment and condemnation that so often go with it? i’ve never lived in poverty, and never been denied a job for any reason other than my own lack of qualifications. what i don’t understand is why those are things i should apologize for or be expected to feel guilty about. it’s one thing to ask someone to support equality; it’s another thing entirely to attack them simply because they have not shared your experiences.

          1. JMW*

            I am sorry that you felt attacked. That was not my intent. I don’t think the black community is looking for an apology – as you suggest, what is important is change. There are wounds here that need to be healed, though, and I think acknowledgement, lots and lots of listening, and a willingness to shift thinking are essential to the current racial dialogue.

            This acknowledgement is not a personal one – I have not hurt someone (that I know of) by my own action. But I have benefited from privilege that others have not been allowed to share due to the history of my ancestry.

            If my grandfather killed your grandfather, I should acknowledge the affect that had on your life. If my great-great grandfather enslaved your great-great grandfather, I should acknowledge the affect that had on your life, because the result of that history is that I have grown up with more opportunity than you have. Life in this country has treated me more fairly than you – I acknowledge that and commit to listen and do what I can to make things better.

            I live in a city where there are no factories, because factories attract lower-income people and lower-income housing, and the forefathers of this city had a plan that didn’t include that. I did not make those decisions, and I am not in a position or field where I can attract businesses to this city. But I can do what I can do within my little realm. And when disenfranchised people speak about their experience, I listen because try as I might, I will never fully understand their experience and I think I owe them this much.

            I have a black co-worker, and every time her husband goes out in the car at night, she worries he will end up in jail by virtue of his color. I do not have that worry. As her child nears school age, she worries about what sort of discrimination she will face from her classmates and teachers. I do not share this worry. Every time her child throws a tantrum, she worries that her neighbors will report her to CPS. I do not have that worry. I know these things because I asked and she told me, but I will never understand her experience, I cannot speak to her experience, and as much of a “good white person” as I try to be, my ancestor’s decisions have affected her adversely and me positively. For that I am truly sorry.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        As Jubilance pointed out above, even being white she could have been an ally. It’s not that she was the “wrong” race; it’s that for whatever reason, she told a big fat screaming lie. It would be like if I, as a straight ally, started claiming that I was gay and felt the things that persecuted gay people feel and told a bunch of people not to tell anyone I was straight, etc. etc. Or if I achieved a perfect regional English accent, moved to England, told everyone I was British but raised in America, and got involved with the local council by claiming “I understand the regional problems of the area.”

        If I were going to lie about WHO I WAS, what the hell else would I lie about? And I’m under no illusions that being a supporter of same-sex marriage and civil protections for gay people gives me any real insight in what it’s like to be actively hated by self-righteous twits because of who I am. Even as a woman I don’t get that kind of crap.

        I could never do either of these, because there are too many people who know I’m not the least bit gay, and there are people in England who could (and would) out me in two seconds if they found out. I really don’t understand why she thought anyone would actually not say anything about this.

        1. fposte*

          I would even go farther than the lie itself and find what it means to be really disturbing. As Stephanie says, it’s major appropriation; it’s treating being black as a theatrical role in a way that suggests a profound *failure* to understand what it is she’s been elected to represent.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I think yes, that this is one reason the lie is bugging me so much. And another thing that bugs me is that some people don’t think it’s all that bad. IT IS BAD.

        2. ITPuffNStuff*

          thank you for replying. my comments above were based on my (incorrect) presumption that this was an employment role, in which it would be illegal (and unethical) to even ask about a person’s race. if this is in fact a volunteer role, that changes the picture for the reasons you mentioned.

      4. Natalie*

        I think it’s important to note that she doesn’t appear to have done this to get her NAACP position. She started doing it around 7 years ago, before she was even living in Spokane, and as has been noted you don’t need to be black to be in the NAACP, or even its leadership. This is some kind of issue with her.

    13. Clever Name*

      I have a similar reaction as the others above. The lying is the most problematic. I have no idea what her motivation is, obviously, but as a white woman from a rural state in the Midwest, I can kind of understand the desire to be from a more interesting background. But that in no way excuses what she did.

      Also, and I know that this is totally tangential to why she was in the wrong, and I know that this is probably because I’m white, but I’m dying to know about her hair. Seeing someone mention a wig above makes so much more sense than what I was imagining. Which is her walking into a salon and saying, “Give me the kinkiest perm you can”. I can’t imagine how she would have done that without getting some serious side-eye.

      1. Natalie*

        I think it has to be wigs – I have much curlier, coarser hair than she appears to have, and I wouldn’t be able to hold a coiled perm for very long.

        1. Seal*

          That she’s wearing a wig occured to me today as well. It would be a LOT of work to keep that much hair that curly – within a month or 2 the straight roots would start showing and it certainly wouldn’t look natural.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale*

        I think many, many women– White and Black– are fascinated by her hair. I also have coarse, curly hair, but those coils are impossible for me. Now, I have a couple of friends with tight curls/ringlets (including one girlfriend whose background is Sicilian and she has the MOST AMAZING tight curls ever), but none of them could achieve that level. It’s gotta be a wig or a weave.

        1. fposte*

          Yes, I had been admiring her hair, and I guess the good news is I could buy it same as she did.

      3. Windchime*

        I was wondering about her hair, too. I actually think the big, wild curls are awesome but I was wondering how she got her straight, blonde hair to do that. A wig makes much more sense.

      4. ITPuffNStuff*

        thank you for replying. my comments above were based on my (incorrect) presumption that this was an employment role, in which it would be illegal (and unethical) to even ask about a person’s race. if this is in fact a volunteer role, that changes the picture for the reasons you mentioned.

  21. Michael*

    Any chance of getting a Like button for comments, to streamline the “+1” and “This.” posts?

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      I don’t mind the “#1” posts. If we’re talking about approaches to workplace stuff that invites subjectivity, it’s valuable to see which of the suggested approaches is more popular or is more endorsed as being likely to be successful.

      1. Florida*

        I agree. For me, I have to have more conviction about something to add a +1 comment than I do to like something. It’s just too easy to like something. So I give more credence to the number of +1 posts than I would the number of likes.

      2. Nina*

        Yeah, I’m not a fan of likes because they devolve too easily into popularity contests and other comments tend to be ignored because of it. Like on Disqus. God, I hate Disqus.

        1. Mimmy*

          I feel that way about “friends” or “connections” on Facebook and LinkedIn, respectively. Although I’ll sheepishly admit to getting a bit of kick out of getting more-than-expected likes on a FB post.

          1. Nina*

            Oh, getting a like is instant validation. I’ve definitely been there, lol. I just don’t think it’s a good idea in the long term. I’ll take the “+1’s” any day.

        2. Clever Name*

          Or favorites on Twitter. I actually turned off those emails telling me “how my week went” in terms of views and retweets because I was getting too invested in it.

    2. danr*

      I like the +1 posts. Especially when someone gets carried away and posts +[very long number].

    3. Ariadne Oliver*

      The “like” button should feature Sally Field squealing her infamous “you like me! You really like me!” speech when she won an oscar.

      Otherwise, we should just stick with +1 posts.

    4. catsAreCool*

      I would like a “Like” button when those times I feel too lazy to write anything about something and just want to click a button.

  22. Steve G*

    Just wanted to vent that I was in a hit and run accident in a somewhat quiet, residential area of Queens, NYC on Monday morning. I was on a busy 2 lane, 2way street that is 4 lanes in a small section because there are turning lanes. The traffic was going 30MPH for some time, its not like the light just turned green, and out of nowhere some junk-mobile little car drives across all four lanes as if there aren’t 4 lanes of other traffic. I swerve, but do hit the back of the car. There is nowhere to stop, so I drive a thousand feed and turn back. There was plenty of parking on the road the reckless driver was on, but he was nowhere to be found. My left bumper is all dented in. If I was 10 feet ahead, this drugged out or drunk or whatever a-hole could have totaled my car.

    I was soooo pissed. Then the NYPD reminded me yet again that you’re on your own in this city. Before I even opened my mouth, they said “we’re never gonna find the guy, do you want us to do a report?” I was like, aren’t you going to ask what kind of car it was? If I got the license plate? Go look if there are cameras there (there is a bank on the corner after all)? I really love that in NYC you can put other peoples’ lives in danger and as long as you drive away, you’re free of responsibility!

    1. fposte*

      I’m sorry, Steve; that’s a horrifying moment when you realize things could go very, very badly. I’m glad you’re okay (I’m guessing if being pissed off is what you’re focusing on, the rest of you is okay).

      I don’t think that’s just NYC; if there aren’t any injuries, it just isn’t a very significant crime. But I totally get how frustrating it is that nothing’s going to happen to the idiot.

      1. Steve G*

        The accident was frustrating but the NYPD also bugs me. Between my mugging, car break in, car broken window, and this, it’s like they always have a “why the f*** are you bothering us?” mentality. At the very least, since they are always driving around anyway, you’d think they’d be OK taking 5 minutes to gather some info at least for crime stats or so they know where the crime is happening and where to focus, etc.

        1. BRR*

          Can you follow up with them for how you were treated? I have zero patience for attitudes like theirs.

        2. Pennalynn Lott*

          Not that this helps, maybe just a sharing of misery, but back in the late 80’s my ’71 Camaro was side-swiped by somebody in Dallas. I followed him, got his license number and a damned good description of what he looked like. I called the police. The detective who showed up at my house later that day walked around my car, noted the damage, then put his big booted foot on my front bumper so he could balance his notepad on his elevated knee to write his report. As he was lifting his foot he noted the longhorn sticker [for the University of Texas Longhorns] on my license plate. So while he was telling me there was nothing he could do because they’d found the driver of the truck who’d hit me and (A) he was in the country illegally, (B) he didn’t have a driver’s license, and therefore (C) he had no insurance, he was also writing me a ticket for having an illegal sticker on my license plate.

          Yup, I had to pay $75 for reporting an accident caused by an illegal alien who was further breaking the law by driving without a license or insurance, and the police were like, “Meh, I think we’ll just give you a ticket for a tiny sticker instead.”

      2. Windchime*

        Maybe it’s different in NYC, but out here in the wild west, you have to have a police report in order to file an insurance claim (this is assuming you have collision coverage). I have Uninsured Motorist coverage, so I could use my insurance in a case like this and then it would be up to them to track down the other guy. But nothing happens without a police report.

        1. Treena Kravm*

          In CA, I didn’t need a report to file for uninsured motorist’s. Might be company policy vs. state law?

    2. Not helpful*

      Unfortunately when a car accident does not involve injuries to persons the cops would rather not be called.

      1. Steve G*

        I guess so, but then every Judge Judy episode, the first thing she asks is “did you file a police report?”

        1. Treena Kravm*

          I used to live in a tri-state area city (not NY) and I called the police once and they told me I could file the report online. Like fill out a webform, and pay $10-15 for it to be officially printed, and there was my report. Not sure if that’s available in NYC though.

    3. Liane*

      Sorry this happened. I know NYC has long–since post-WWII at least, from my Dad’s stories–had a rep for this kind of garbage but it is many other places now. I live in Arkansas & you also get those responses for traffic accidents although with more politeness.

  23. Florida*

    I have a computer issue that I’m hoping someone can help with. I use Windows platform and Chrome browser. When I go to YouTube, the sound will not work. If I clear my history, the sound works again. I’m wondering if anyone knows of a more permanent solution so I don’t have to clear my history so often.

      1. Florida*

        No extensions that I know of. I know other people have this issue because a google search is how I figured out about clearing the history. But I can’t find a more permanent solution.

    1. Nina*

      Sorry that I don’t have any real advice, but I’m not surprised that this is happening with Chrome. I’ve had a lot of issues with it lately. Have you run a virus scan, or use AdBlock? If you have to delete the history every time then maybe it’s a website you’re visiting.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      Can you create a new test user and see if that user experiences the same problem?

      If it’s user-specific, I’d back up bookmarks, quit out of Chrome, and delete (actually, rename) your Chrome preferences from




      Then re-launch and see if the problem persists.

  24. Mander*

    I was just thinking about the skip tracing discussion the other week and remembered an odd little incident.

    Back in high school, one of my good friends dated a guy whose little brother brutally murdered their mother and stepfather. I had never met the little brother and only met the older one a few times in passing (we were all in speech & debate, so we saw each other at meets, but we went to different schools). I was acquainted with the mom because she was also a team coach, but I didn’t actually know her.

    Anyway, several years later I got a random phone call from someone who was writing a book attempting to exonerate the little brother because Reasons I Didn’t Understand. She wanted me to make a statement in his favor because apparently someone told her that I knew the family well and could give details about how the crime was planned (!!).

    I just said that I didn’t actually know them and hung up, but it always creeped me out that they called in the first place, let alone that they thought I might have inside information. My friend insisted that she didn’t give out any information about me.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Ugh. Ugh.

      I think that there would be lists of people surrounding the victims and the perpetrator, so that is probably a public record? It could have been anyone on that list.
      Or it could have been a fishing expedition- the caller was taking a wild-ass guess and hoping to come up with juicy details, which you did not provide.

      Yeah, that would creep me out, too. It sounds like they did not call again, so that is a good thing. You must have effectively shut that one down.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      It’s disturbingly easy to find info on people online. The person might have been talking to someone else who mentioned you, or worked her way through the high school yearbook, or both.

        1. Liane*

          Much info about pre-internet events–even family/local/regional level–is now available online, for good or ill. I have easily located events from my own life. From snow in Florida in Jan. 1977 to my former professor’s late-80s claim that he couldn’t prove his degrees because he was an ex-CIA agent.
          I suspect Elizabeth West is correct.
          I wouldn’t worry about that author contacting you, unless they keep it up after you’ve told them not to.

  25. academic librarian*

    Richmond Virginia.
    Presenting a paper at a conference in Richmond Virginia. (my first juried paper…little bit nervous) Arriving late Wed. Staying at the Omni. Any suggestions for a late supper near by? Can anybody give me an idea how far downtown is from the airport. I will be taking a cab.

    1. fposte*

      Are you going to ChLA? (I’m not, so I can’t help you on the Richmond thing, but I’m curious.)

        1. fposte*

          I think you’ll have fun. It’s gotten pretty big, but it’s stayed welcoming to newbies, as far as I can tell. Good luck with your paper!

    2. emily*

      About a 15-20 minute drive depending on traffic. East of the Omni on Cary are quite a few decent-to-good restaurants and pretty much anything in that stretch will at least be acceptable. Kitchen on Cary at Cary and 14th would be good for a nicer meal; there’s also Tobacco Company (pretty old school meat-focused place with a lot of people in suits) and Bistro Bobette. For cheaper/lower key, there’s Urban Farmhouse (a coffeehouse/cafe type place with good but slightly overpriced food), City Dogs for delicious hot dogs, Sine Irish Pub (a great bar that also has pretty okay food), Jimmy John’s… Just walk down Cary from the Omni to 14th and pick somewhere that looks good to you!

  26. Gene*

    I just got a first generation Lytro light field camera. I’ve wanted one since they came out, but wasn’t going to pay $500 for one. Woot.com had them for $70-80, depending on memory. Now it’s time to play with it.

    1. it happens*

      Same woot! I’m very glad I waited until it was on woot, because it is most definitely a toy for me. I’ve been playing with different stories – ingredients in a drink posed leading up to the finished item, flowers in different stages of bloom, construction showing the changing of the neighborhood. But there’s a part of me that wants to just outfit a whole barbie townhouse and make up stories. Not gonna happen, but I think it would be a great project. Have fun playing with it.

  27. AuntieJ*

    I really enjoyed The Pursuit of Love as well! Just today, I bought a book about the Mitford sisters. They seem like such an interesting bunch. I was honestly hoping to come here to find a recommendation from you that I haven’t read though.

    My recommendations would be:
    Miss Buncle’s Book, by D.E. Stevenson (which also requires tea drinking and laughing while reading) and
    West with the Night, by Beryl Markham (an adventurous book about a female bush pilot in Africa in the 20’s)

    1. the gold digger*

      I am too lazy to scroll back up, so I will just add to this thread.

      I have been reading CJ Box’s books. He writes the “Longmire” series (which I think I learned about here). His books are the same thing: sheriff/game warden reasonable person in Wyoming dealing with crazy outstate people.

      1. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

        The long ire books are written by Craig Johnson–is it a pseudonym?

        1. the gold digger*

          Wait! I think I was wrong. My aunt told me that she liked Longmire and the CJ Box books, as well. I just assumed that the “CJ” was “Craig Johnson.” But it looks like I was wrong, which usually would bother me but in this case, it just means there is another writer I am sure to like!

    2. Elli in Germany*

      Hi AuntieJ
      If you’ve read Miss Buncles Book, I’d also recommend Miss Hargreaves (I forget the author’s name) and Mrs Tim of the Regiment, which is also by D.E. Stevenson and very funny, though in a different way from Miss Buncle’s Book, or of course Diary of a Provincial Lady if you haven’t read it yet. (in the early twentieth century British vein)
      Deon Meyer’s books. They are set in modern South Africa and are so, so interesting about all sorts of aspects of South African life, with great characters and good plots.

  28. I wanna twist and twist and shout*

    I watched the pilot episode of a new show on USA network called Mr. Robot and I think they may have a winner. I’ll put a URL in the Reply. I don’t want to say much about it, for fear of ruining someone’s enjoyment. But – I recommend it highly.

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      I saw a preview/commercial for that when we were at the movies a few weeks ago, and thought it looked interesting. Thanks for the reminder – I’ll have to set my DVR.

  29. MsChanandlerBong*

    I want to hear about your weird dating stories!

    Mine is from when I met my now-husband’s father and stepmom. For weeks, my husband told me that once he met them, he’d understand if I wanted to leave him. I was like “WTH? They can”t be that bad.” Well, his father is fine. Doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t do anything unusually odd. The first time his stepmother saw me, she noticed that my eyes are two different colors. She said “You two should get married and have bi-colored eye babies!” Keep in mind we’d been dating for like a month. Also, bi-colored eye babies is not even a phrase.

    During dinner, I stupidly mentioned that my sinuses had been feeling a little stuffy. When we got back to their house, she opened a cabinet stuffed to the gills with essential oils, sat me down in their club chair, and starting rubbing oil behind my ears. I, formerly of the “go along to get along” school of thought, didn’t want to be rude by refusing her ministrations. The next morning, I woke up with a huge lump behind my ear, where she had rubbed the oil.

    Now that my husband and I are married, we no longer have contact with these two, but at least we have this funny memory.

    So…did you have a weird date? Were you accosted by a date’s family member? Do tell!

    1. Hattie McDoogal*

      When I was about 22 I managed to somehow end up on a date with a guy I considered to be very out of my league. I’d just gotten out of my first relationship, which was cruddy and had me believing no one else would ever find me worth dating ever again, so during the date I had in the back of my mind that that this guy had to be screwing with me, that this was all a big joke, his friends were secretly filming it, something.

      At one point during dinner he stood up without ceremony, grabbed his coat, and walked out. “This is it,” I thought. “He took me to a fancy restaurant and now he’s bailing and is sticking me with the bill. Well! I’m going to get my money’s worth, at least!” So I reached across the table and starting shoveling his dinner into my mouth.

      It was a bit awkward explaining my reasoning when he came back from his cigarette break about two minutes later.

      In my defense, it was odd that he couldn’t wait until after dinner for his cigarette, and why he didn’t say anything. But why I let him walk out without comment and just assumed he was bailing was pretty dumb, too.

      1. TheLazyB*

        I would have made the same assumption, and think your reaction was genius! Seriously, it was dead rude to leave without a word so he kind of asked for it.

        I bet he never got up and left for a cig without a word again :)

    2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      Oh, so many.

      I was arranging a first date with a guy, and he suggested “Let’s get coffee and go for a walk,” which sounded quite lovely. So we got coffee, and I discovered that what he meant by “a walk” was not a pleasant ramble along the riverwalk, but a 8.5km hike up and down both sides of the river and crossing two bridges. It was the last date.

      I went on a date with a different guy who proposed we visit a museum together. Great idea–museums are fun date spots! Only he couldn’t seem to find anything interesting in the museum to converse about, so while we wandered around and I kept saying things like “Wow, look at that–I’m so fascinated by textile work!” he kept telling me about his family’s medical history. “Well, that’s okay. My parents both have high cholesterol so I’m at high risk for high cholesterol, so I try to keep my diet pretty good and don’t eat a lot of cheese, which is too bad because I love grilled cheese sandwiches…”

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        LOL! Did he even try to connect their medical history to the museum exhibits?