weekend free-for-all – June 20-21, 2015

2 of 3 foster kittens

2 of 3 foster kittens

This 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 Children’s Crusade, by Ann Packer. If you’re into perfectly paced, messy family dramas (and you should be), this is for you.

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

{ 703 comments… read them below }

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      We’re fostering three kittens for our local shelter — just for a couple of weeks. They’re 10 weeks old, semi-feral, and so need to be socialized before they can be adopted. They’re pretty scared of humans, but two of them are coming around. (It’s a lot harder to socialize semi-feral kittens after seven weeks, but you can usually do it with a lot of work if you get them before four months.)

      I made the mistake of keeping them in our guest room, so they’ve been spending a LOT of time hiding under the bed, although I can lure the two boys — pictured — out with food or toys, and they’re getting more comfortable with me. All three are now willing to run around and play while I’m in the room, and the two boys have let me pet them a few times when they were sleepy and even purred during it, which seems like progress!

      But I have to figure out a way to block off the under-bed area so they’re forced to spend more time closer to me, which is supposed to speed up the socialization process, but so far I’m stumped. (I originally tried stuffing pillows and blankets under there, but they burrowed right through them.)

      1. Nancie*

        I used plastic “gutter guard” type stuff and heavy-duty zip-ties to build a fence around the legs under my spare bed. The guard width was exactly the height between the floor and the box spring, so it didn’t take much work to do. (I also considered using garden edging, but the gutter guard stuff already had small holes I could run the zip-ties through.)

        It finally gave way when a semi-feral ~9 month old cat of mine bit through the zip ties, but it would probably hold up to a herd of smaller kittens.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Ooooh, any chance you’re able to show me a link to something similar to what you used? I googled it but am not sure I’m looking at the right thing.

          1. Nancie*

            Sure, here’s a link:


            In case the link doesn’t work, it’s on the lowes.com site “Amerimax Snap-in Gutter Filter Pvc Gutter Screen”. There are several others that are either “PVC gutter guard” or “vinyl gutter guard” that look very similar. There are also a couple of “plastic gutter guard” items — they’re sold rolled-up so they might not be sturdy enough, but if they are they could be even easier to work with.

              1. Pill Helmet*

                Temporarily take the bed off the frame and let the box spring rest directly on the floor.

      2. danr*

        Bricks… or wood planks, boxes.. Anything solid that they can’t squash down. As for the last kitten, she’ll see the two boys having fun and come out and demand her share of the fun. Of course, it will take awhile…

      3. Mimmy*

        Similar to danr’s suggestion: Do you have any long storage bins? You might be able to run one or two along the side, and something else at the foot of the bed. I’ve never tried that, but it was the only thing long enough I could think of, lol.

      4. zora*

        I love fostering kittens! It’s so fun. A lot of work sometimes, but the fuzzball cuddles are Sooooo Worth It. Thanks for fostering!

      5. Heather*

        If you do block off under the bed make sure that they still have “hidey” spots available to them. I know it seems counterproductive but shy/terrified still need their cocoons to feel safe. So kitty condos or even a couple of boxes with towels over them. When I got my cat even tho she wasn’t feral she was TERRIFIED. She hid in the closet behind a box for a solid week and when I went into her room to feed her/clean the litterbox I talked to her and shook the treat bag so she would associate me with good things (food). I didn’t try to touch her until she started coming out on her own. I did try to get her to take treats from my hand (as in just holding it out) but she wouldn’t do it at first. I also put treats all around the room in little piles so I could see how far she was exploring and to encourage her to explore (it helps that she really likes treats) . She finally poked her head out after about a week or so. And then she started coming out to see me. Then I slowly worked on socializing her into the rest of the house at her pace. However for the first few weeks she spent all day and night in the guest room behind the box in the closet. I would open the door for her when I was home but it took a couple of weeks before she was more comfortable in the rest of the house. She was so terrified that even a neighbours car door slamming outside sent her back to her comfort zone. But now she’s fine! She’s still a little timid but nothing major. I know feral cats are different and she wasn’t feral but they will still probably need cocoons of some sort so they feel safe.

      6. Anonyby*

        They are adorable little fuzzballs! <3 <3 <3 It sounds like you're making good progress with them!

      7. Rebecca*

        Confession: taming feral kittens for adoption would be my dream job. The first kitten I tamed was a wild kitten captured from a large outbuilding at a local factory when I was a teenager. I tempted her with milk and tuna, was able to grab her and keep her inside, and over the next few months she calmed down and I gave her to my grandparents. They named her Pixie.

      8. Allegra*

        Can I ask for opinions on a feline matter? I have one cat now (male, 7 years old, very snuggly) and I’m in grad school and out of the house a lot. It’s very obvious that he’s lonely and anxious when I leave him alone for long periods of time. Should I get a second cat? If so, how long would the adjustment period be (I have read up on the introduction drill: keep one cat in the guest room, feed them outside the door, pet them with the same sock, let them explore the territory separately, etc.) and would it be worth it – would my cat enjoy having a companion?

        1. Rebecca*

          I can’t speak to your specific cat, of course, but mine enjoy each others company. Even my old girl who is 16+ has accepted the young cats introduced as semi feral kittens. My parent’s cat is a different story. She loathes other animals, and throws a screaming fit if she sees anything on 4 legs outside the door. Plus, there’s the cute factor when they cuddle up with each other, groom each other, and play. I hope it works out for you :)

          1. Allegra*

            Thanks for the anecdotal feedback! I do feel fairly sure my cat would not be a screaming fit-thrower. :)

        2. catsAreCool*

          It depends on the cat, but a lot of cats seem to be more comfortable having another kitty around, as long as they don’t actually hate each other. If you adopt an adult cat, you might want to ask the shelter for a kitty who gets along well with other cats.

          I think the adjustment period varies. When I adopted an adult cat, they suggested keeping him separate from my other 2 kitties for about 10 days, but that was more of a quarantine (in case he had a cold or something and wasn’t showing symptoms yet).

          Some people say that a male cat will more readily accept a female cat and vice versa. Others say it doesn’t matter. I don’t know, but it’s something to think about.

          It took me a while to figure this out, so I’m going to mention it. Unless you want to do a lot of extra work, get a friendly, gentle kitty who likes you. I think I used to assume that if I adopted a kitten, the kitten would turn out based on how I raised the kitty. The first 2 months in a kitten’s life make a big difference in how gentle and social the kitty will be.

          Also, an adult cat with a similar activity level and age as your current cat might get along better, at least in the long run. In my experience, a kitty around 7 years old is not always thrilled with how active kittens are. Also, a well-socialized, sweet, gentle cat is a LOT less work than a kitten.

          1. Allegra*

            Thanks for the feedback! I had been thinking that a kitten might adjust better than an adult, but it’s true I would rather have a gentle, well-socialized adult.

            1. Trixie*

              I had an adult cat who was very alpha, and brought a male orange kitten into the picture. He ignored or quietly growled at first but then came to sleep with him which I NEVER would have guessed would happen. I like the adult/kitten because it keeps the adult cat active, and down the road I still have Orange Boy after losing Alpha Cat. Of course, Orange Boy needs his own kitten eventually.

              1. Allegra*

                I’m glad your cats became friends; I would love it if I could find a buddy for my cat to sleep with. (And it sounds adorable!)

        3. Windchime*

          It’s so hit-and-miss with cats. I used to have two who were raised together. They weren’t siblings, but they were both kittens when we got them. The got along ok (not great) when they were younger, but when they were older it was awful. The male cat would stare threateningly at the female when she wanted to use the litter box (I had several in the house, but he would hunt her down). This made her scared so she would pee other places. I would come home from work to find cat pee in the closet and someone would have tattered, bloody ears. It wasn’t a fun time. And yet, they would both sleep on my bed, one purring on either side of me.

        4. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Not to scare you, but it can be a very long process, and sometimes cats just never adjust and have to be kept apart, but we introduced new cats 4 times so far, one of whom was feral until we took him in at 6 months of age, and our current introduction has been the longest at about six weeks of controlled introductions. The rest just took a few days of sniffing/pawing under the door.

          I’m replying to this comment with links to Jackson Galaxy’s website, where he goes into depth about how to introduce cats to minimize issues.

          1. Allegra*

            Thanks! I’m not underestimating that it ultimately might not work, but the stories here have been quite positive, which gives me hope! Thank you for the links.

        5. Claire (Scotland)*

          I got my cat because a colleague got him as a kitten for a companion for her older female cat, but the older cat never accepted him and was attacking him constantly. It was hugely stressful for both cats, and though they tried all the recommended approaches and got their vet’s advice, after a few months they had to concede that it wasn’t going to work. They started looking for a new home for him, and I had just started looking for a cat to adopt. So he came to live with me, where he’s the only cat, and he seems perfectly happy with that.

          I’m sure many cats would take to a new companion well, but they don’t always.

          1. Allegra*

            Yeah, I’m aware that’s an option. He might prefer to be a single cat in the house, even if I can’t be around a lot. If only he could tell me his preferences before I try. :)

      9. ITPuffNStuff*

        sounds super-adorable.

        if my own fuzzy babies are any indication, the blankets and pillows may have made the underside of the bed even more attractive.

      10. Windchime*

        As the owner of a lovely, gentle cat who was a feral kitten, I thank you for fostering him. Mine was actually fostered (with two of his 5 siblings) by the young woman who would eventually become my daughter-in-law. :) His mother was feral and for some reason wasn’t able to take care of her babies (not sure what happened to her), and the kittens were brought to the shelter before their eyes were opened.

        He was a wild little thing when I adopted him at 12 weeks, but was very well socialized and is a wonderful pet. I’m so grateful to people who are able to foster tiny, baby animals.

      11. INTP*

        Not a helpful idea, but an underbed area stuffed with blankets and pillows to create cozy tunnels to squeeze through sounds like cat heaven! I bet they’re having a great time in there at least.

      12. Vancouver Reader*

        I’m taking an iron supplement right now called FeraMax. Maybe you can name one of your foster cats Max, and tout him as the mascot for this iron supplement, y’know, FeralMax.

        No, I’m not quitting my day job anytime soon.

      13. CrazyCatLady*

        As a fellow feral fosterer, bring a book/your laptop/your ipad, put their food down in the usual spot, and find your own spot a few feet away. Stretch out and read/watch a movie for awhile. Let them get used to you as a non threatening part of the environment. Ignore them if they come over to sniff at you.

        Do it again with their next feeding, or spend the occasional half hour in there. If they like treats, you can try to lure them closer for treats, or get nearer to the food each time you sit down in their room so they eventually get comfortable enough for you to pet them while they enjoy their noms.

        I only ever had a couple of failures in my years of fostering, and one of those sleeps on my pillow when I’m not looking. She enjoys pets and scritches, but I can’t approach her or pick her up; she has to come to me. And when it’s time to go to the vet… she reverts to her feralish ways. It’s taken 12+ years to get this far.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Oh, and the big cats — Sam could care less; I’m not sure he even knows the kittens are in the house. But Lucy and Olive are fascinated and desperately want to come in. I have a baby gate up blocking off the kittens’ room, and Lucy and Olive just lurk there all day and try to see what’s going on (even when the door is closed). They haven’t hissed at all, even when the kittens approached the gate, which is most out of character for Lucy.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Do we ever see pictures of Sam? I feel it’s a Lucy & Olive show!

        And also: ginger kittens! /squee!

          1. Sunday*

            All the kits are gorgeous, and your photographer is pretty terrific! You always have great photos to share – that portrait of Sam is extraordinary.
            Fostering kittens can be dangerous… though Olive will disagree.

          2. QualityControlFreak*

            Beautiful. And now I want Mr. AAM to paint a picture of his Ms. and her cats and fosters marching off for a night of adventure. ;)

      2. Windchime*

        How do you keep Lucy and Olive from jumping over the baby gate? We have a little dog who visits us sometimes, and I put a baby gate across the stairs so the dog can’t go up. But the cat can (and does) leap over it quite effortlessly.

        1. ExceptionToTheRule*

          I want to know this too. I’ve tried using one before and had the same issue: “Oh look – something to jump!”

        2. Ask a Manager* Post author

          They haven’t jumped over it yet, but Lucy pulled it down at one point! We’re actually mainly keeping the door closed, and the gate is to keep them from scratching at the door.

      3. ITPuffNStuff*

        out of curiosity, why keep segregate lucy and olive from the kittens?

        i’ve raised 2 litters of kittens growing up, but the queen was one of our house cats, so they were there with mom (and intermittently mothered by the other cats, and dogs — lol). still, those were not feral kittens. is there something specific about fostering ferals that isn’t well supported by exposure to the other cats? are the kittens afraid of them?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Actually, exposing them to the other cats can help socialize them — they see the older cats interacting with humans and learn from them that it’s safe. (It’s really amazing how much they learn from each other, in fact! The first time one of these three finally let me pet him, his brother heard him purring and came over to watch in great interest, and then quickly decided he’d let me pet him too — it was really clear that it was a process of him observing, seeing it was safe, and trying it out himself. So watching bigger cats can teach them tons.)

          In this case, though, they’ve been so scared that I didn’t want to add to it by the presence of unfamiliar cats. I did let them interact through a baby gate once, but the kittens were quite terrified. (Which is interesting, because when Olive was a kitten, her first glimpse of Lucy filled her with great excitement and she went zooming straight over to her … to Lucy’s great dismay. But Olive was about four weeks, and these guys are 10 weeks, so they’re more fearful.)

          However, I have an update from today, day 6! When I walked into their room this morning, the two boys walked right up to me and wanted to be petted, and have been milling around for petting ever since. This is a break-through! I just hope their very shy sister is watching and paying attention.

          1. ITPuffNStuff*

            super cute, and thanks for responding!

            i hope the shy sister starts coming out of her shell. some just need more encouragement and time. sounds like they’re lucky to have you for a foster mom.

  1. Sunshine Brite*

    Housewarming party today! Can’t wait for my friends to show up. I know at least 2 are stopping in so it’s not just going to be me (and my husband) alone with tons of food and alcohol.

    1. Sunshine Brite*

      Thanks! My fav part of the food doesn’t have any leftovers and I’m sufficiently hungover today. Successful party

  2. Anonymous Coward*

    Ugh. Have you seen that offensive meme going around of the dog labeled “Bruce Jenner’s Cat”? My mom just forwarded it to me and other family members, after receiving it from yet another family member — all but one of whom have been supportive of me as a queer person and a person in a same-sex marriage. She prefaced it with “I like Bruce/Kaitlyn (sic) and wish her all the best, but I found this very funny.” I guess this sort of thing is different than supporting LGBT rights and is actually funny because… Stealth transphobia? I replied and told her I found it hurtful that she went out of her way to send me this, and to leave me off the email chains in the future. But every time I call bullshit on my mother, she wants to have A Conversaaaaation where her main point is “But I didn’t meeeean it that way!”

    1. Christy*

      Ughhhh. I say don’t get drawn into the conversation, and if she insists she didn’t mean it that way, say “it doesn’t matter how you meant it. It still hurt me. If you didn’t mean to step on my foot and you stepped on my foot anyway, I’d still say ‘ow!’ and ask you to move your foot. It’s the same kind of thing.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        And you don’t KEEP STEPPING on the foot of someone you love when they tell you it hurts!! “I didn’t meeeeean it” becomes pretty meaningless after you’ve repeatedly told them that it hurts.

        Maybe explain that laughing at someone because they’re different, even if you think you don’t mind if they’re different, is kind of like laughing at someone’s mole or scar; it doesn’t matter if you don’t really think it’s bad, it makes them feel excluded, picked-on, and very self-conscious.

        1. Thinking out loud*

          +1. Even if they don’t mean to be hurtful, once you tell them it hurts you, they should learn to stop! Gah.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      “Mom, you don’t get to chose how other people feel about stuff. It’s their feelings, not yours. I have asked you to stop sending me this stuff. If you asked me to stop emailing something because it hurt/upset you, I would stop. I am asking for the same respect in return.”

    3. ITPuffNStuff*

      perhaps an unrelated tangent, but one of my 2 fuzzy kitties thinks he’s a dog. he loves tummy rubs, comes when called, greets me at the door when i come home. if he started fetching things i’d have to start calling him my little trans-species kitty. :)

  3. Ali*

    Things ultimately aren’t going to work out with the guy from OKCupid that I saw last week, who we’ll refer to as “Chuck.”

    Chuck tentatively planned a second date with me for a picnic at a nearby park, tentative because I didn’t yet know when I’d be working. He said he was willing to do whatever made me happy in terms of the food he brought with him and wanted to see me again. I thought that was odd, especially since he was already messaging me daily, but he wasn’t displaying any red flag-type behavior, so I let it go.

    But this past week, Chuck messaged me through the dating site to ask if I had time to lend him an ear with some stress he was dealing with as a result of a sick family member. He said things like “I don’t know why, but I find you to be a calming presence” and ‘Thinking of our picnic keeps me going.” I was beyond weirded out that this guy I’d known less than a week and had one meeting with was now depending on me for emotional support and prioritizing me so high, especially since he knew I was starting a new job (so I have enough on my own plate, as detailed in the work open thread yesterday) and I never said I was willing to be there for him to support his needs. In fact, I was still trying to decide how I felt about him! I accepted the second date originally to give him another chance. Unfortunately, I have now decided to cancel and not see him anymore.

    Of course, if were a serious couple or had been dating for a few months, I’d be there for Chuck. But I just don’t have the energy to give support and hand holding to a guy I don’t really know when I support others who are closer to me and have a lot of change going on in my own life.

    Even though I couldn’t decide how I felt about Chuck, I’m still bummed that he didn’t even try to consider boundaries and what I was comfortable with; he just went ahead and barged over the line. He also lied to me, saying he was willing to take things slow with a woman, but I guess this is his definition of “slow.”

    It’s not all unhappy. I’m hoping to set up a date with a single male friend who does *not* exhibit these behaviors, and the friend is also interested in going out. But it does have me considering stepping away from online dating for a time!

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Yikes, chuck sounds more than a little needy, I’m not surprised you cancelled your date.

    2. Bekx*

      HA! I’m going through a similar thing (posted below) with a guy from OKC. So unfortunately I have no advice, but I sympathize.

    3. CC*

      On the plus side, he let you know up front what he was about, before you got invested in the relationship.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      Run. I had a friend like that once. People who dump their emotional baggage on you that soon are usually bad news.

    5. Dan*

      FWIW, everybody has a different definition of “taking things slow.” Some people mean that physically, other people mean it emotionally. Even if we can agree what side of the coin we’re talking about, setting the line is a whole ‘nother matter.

    6. INTP*

      You did the right thing. Based on my experience, there’s a definite reason that Chuck doesn’t have more appropriate people in his life to turn to during rough times. I mean, let’s face it, if you’re calling someone you’ve been on a date with once for emotional support, either you do not have any good friends or family members you’re close to, or you’ve already exhausted their sympathies and can’t get them to listen anymore.

  4. The Other Dawn*

    Anyone have any recommendations for a good weed killer that’s safe for well water? My patio looks like it’s growing a carpet – it’s an old, old patio with all individual bricks and LOTS of crevices.

    1. danr*

      Any weed killer that is persistent and works will be dangerous to use. Even something like Roundup only works when a plant is growing and green. It doesn’t keep seeds from sprouting.
      A string trimmer will keep brick patios and sidewalks clean, but you need to keep at it. Hand pulling also works, and the pulled weeds can be added to the compost pile. And then you get to do it all over again. :)=

    2. Sunday*

      My mom uses a tea kettle of boiling water. You have crevice lines you could follow, and pour one kettle at a time. Cooks the plant, and is otherwise chemically safe. Won’t work for an entire yard, but for small areas and individual plants she’s had pretty good success.

      1. ITSquirrel*

        You can also add salt – pour it along all the crocks and then follow with boiling water to get it down into the roots. Will help deal with anything that survives being cooked or that doesn’t get a direct dose of hot water.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I’ve used it on grass growing in inappropriate places and it’s been very effective.

    3. stellanor*

      I for actuals saw two guys with tiny flame throwers killing the weeds in the sidewalk cracks near my house by shooting them with fire. So, you know, if you want to be both adventurous AND thorough…

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        That reminds me of the lawn edger my neighbor had when I was a kid. It was on a long handle like a weed eater, but it had a flame at the end of it like a blow torch. It left a sharp, inch-wide burnt strip between the lawn and the curb. I don’t know what the tool is called; I’ve never seen anyone else have one.

        1. TootsNYC*

          Here ya go!


          Flame weeding
          Flame weeding is the use of an open flame, usually propane fueled, to kill or damage weeds. The objective of flame weeding is not to burn up the weeds, but rather to vaporize the water in the surface cells. This causes the weeds to dry up within a few hours to a day. Flame treatment does not kill perennial weeds, and usually grasses and larger broadleaf weeds will recover as well. Nevertheless, flame weeding is quick and relatively easy, and it is a highly effective way to remove small broadleaf weeds.

          Most crops are damaged by flaming, but it can be used to remove weeds just prior to emergence of a crop, and to control weeds in the cracks between pavers and along fences. Crops like corn and onions in which the bud is protected inside a whorl of leaves can tolerate a light touch by the flame after they have established. Thus, flame weeding can be used to remove small weeds from within the rows for these crops.

          Flame weeding works best when the weeds are dry. To kill small weeds, the flame should pass over the weeds at about a normal walking speed. Hand held flame weeders are available for about the price of a string trimmer.


          “Garden Club member tested and approved!”
          (Walmart carries one)

          1. danr*

            I wouldn’t use this during a dry spell or if you have mulch nearby. It’s amazing how far fire will travel with stuff to burn.

          2. Mallory Janis Ian*

            I want one! This could become my new obsession for awhile. Plus my driveway has cracks in it with weeds growing out; this could be a very satisfying way to destroy them.

      2. Natalie*

        I saw that in France! I guess it’s actually pretty common among professionals. Some stuff you just have to kill with fire, I guess.

    4. Pennalynn Lott*

      Yep, boiling water; 10% vinegar solution (grocery store vinegar is only 5%, so you’ll need to get 20% from a gardening center or online, and then dilute — spray on the plants you want to kill); small flame torch; or cover the area in black plastic for a week or so and let the heat (and lack of sunlight) kill the weeds.

    5. Brightwanderer*

      Vinegar does work pretty well for killing leaves/grass (though it doesn’t do much to the roots). I bought a big pump-action spray bottle and just filled it with vinegar, and I get it out every time I see something growing back. I initially tried mixing some washing up liquid into it as per internet suggestions, to help it stick to the leaves, but guess what happens when you pump air into a bottle containing dish soap? It slightly exploded… also I assume that would NOT be well-safe or aquatic safe! But any old vinegar seems to work, white or malt is fine.

  5. Bekx*

    So I was late to the party last week but for anyone who saw, I posted about a first date with a guy who’s recently separated and is texting me way too much.

    So the first date went pretty well, actually. I like him a lot more in person than I did over text or his dating profile. He actually has tickets to a concert with a band I like, so we’re going on our second date tonight. The texting has continued, although he has learned not to text me at work. He was texting me good morning and good night, but on Tuesday he asked if him saying good morning bothered me. I said “It doesn’t bother me per se….but it’s just a little much.” He seemed really horrified (overly so, really) and apologized and agreed with me.

    But he’s still texting me daily. Which, really? Why am I complaining about a guy talking to me too much? Isn’t this what I wanted 4 years ago when my ex broke up with me? I digress.

    Tonight my plan is to figure out where his divorce is…like are they in the middle of signing papers or what. I’m also going to try to bring up the fact that I don’t like having long conversations over text (this is weird to me, since I did in my last relationship). I just can’t believe that I’m bothered by a guy who seems very interested in me. It’s just the opposite of how I’ve felt my entire dating life. I’ve tried to slow down on the texting, but he just seems so sad about it. Like all he wants to do is to get to know me, and I’ve been that person in a relationship before. And now I understand why my exes would get annoyed.

    1. fposte*

      Remember, this is a you-get-to-like-what-you-like thing. It’s okay to want to text till 3 am and it’s okay to want to go without being texted, and having wanted more communication once doesn’t mean you have to accept whatever you get on that front now. As with Ali’s thing above, I would find this offputting myself, and I think it’s worth saying so, even if it makes him sad. “Bob, I think we just read texting differently. I’m enjoying getting to know you and texting during the day feels like pushing to a stage where we’re not yet for me, and I’d like to take that part of things slower.”

      And it’s great that he’s interested in you; let’s make sure he’s also interested in what it is you want even if it’s different from what he wants.

    2. Vdubs*

      I had this over-the-top texting thing happen with the last guy I dated. As my friend described it- “he’s acting like your boyfriend with the texting when you’ve only been on one date.” It made me uncomfortable to have that much personal communication with someone I was just getting to know.

    3. Kate*

      I always find lack of attention to reciprocity to be a red flag when communicating with someone new. I imagine you’re not texting back at length/promptly/with much enthusiasm, which indicates that you’re not interested in that type or level of contact. When he persists, I would take that to mean either (1) he can’t pick up on that social signal; or (2) he doesn’t care about the comfort level you’re signalling. Both possibilities are legitimate reasons to be uncomfortable, in my opinion.

    4. Dan*

      My sample size is admittedly a bit small (I’m the guy who actually bothered to wait until his divorce was final to begin dating, and that milestone was a rather recently occurring event, nonwithstanding the fact we separated two years ago this month) but about half of the women I met want to text me on a daily basis, even BEFORE we go out on the first date. I don’t get it. At least it’s only once a day. But it’s random inane stuff, which does absolutely nothing for me.

      The thing with me is that I can honestly really only do one thing (well) at a time, and I’m not really a superficial person. So if I’m into a TV show, and you’re texting me about “how’s my day” (or worse, “I just had X for dinner) responding to your text means I’m not paying attention to the TV. And I’m also trying to figure out something more in depth to say than “fine.” What do I actually want to do? Spend time with you in person. And when I do that, other things get put to the side and you’re my priority *at that moment.*

      I think the thing that’s bothering you is that deep down, you’re not sure if that guy is in to *you* or if he’s in to the idea of having the status of being “in a relationship.” When I was younger, you checked the box when you could say you “have a girlfriend.” Now? It’s not about “having a girlfriend” but about finding the *right* person. And in the mean time, meeting people and having fun. When someone’s bugging you all of the time, it *is* an indication that they don’t have prospects outside of you, and that’s unsettling if you’re not there yet. And you really can’t be there, not after a date or two. It takes time for all of the crap to come out in the wash, and figure out whether or not you can deal with said crap. *Then* you can decide you like the person enough to commit to them.

      On to that “separated” thing for a moment. I don’t think you can figure out where someone is at based on what stage of the paperwork they are in. It took about 18 months from the day I separated to the time time I was really ready to want to start dating again. My ex dragged her feet with her part of the paperwork, so it actually took 19 months for our divorce to become final. Never mind that my state allows for just a six month waiting period if you have no kids and can figure out how to separate the property. And as I told my shrink, the day my divorce was final, it didn’t really matter, because absolutely nothing about my life would change. But if someone were to have said to me at the 18 month mark, “your divorce isn’t final, I don’t think you’re ready…” I’d tell them where to stick it, either literally or metaphorically. Likewise, even if we could have hurried up and done *everything* precisely at the 6 month mark, I most certainly would not have been ready, legally divorced or not.

    5. INTP*

      How you feel makes sense to me. I find it awkward as hell to do chatty texts with someone I don’t know well. When it’s someone who really knows me, and I’m sure they know my sense of humor well enough to “get” things even in text form, and we can feel like we’re actually communicating with just a few weird words back and forth, it’s fine. But before that happens, I would rather limit it to making plans and at most an “I had a nice time tonight” “Me too, thank you for dinner” type exchange. And one in-person date in, you’re almost certainly not at the phase where the text conversation just flows naturally.

    6. Bekx*

      Okay, post date update.

      He’s so great in person. We have so much in common, both in music and honestly in how we view the world. We were talking about some current events and we were kind of finishing each other’s sentences on our stances on things (which are like… Not a firm yes or no on said issue, so it was strange that we both felt the same way).

      He opened up a bit about the divorce. They’re just ready to sign the papers. Which is good.

      I like him so much when we’re together in person. It’s the texting, so I’m hoping maybe this week I can talk to him about it or maybe he’ll get the hint. A few of you were saying he’s ignoring hints, but to he honest I’m responding enthusiastically so I can see where that misconception comes from.

      He started smoking after the divorce, but he knows I am firm firm firm about that. He said he finished his last pack two days ago and won’t buy another but he also said he smoked 7 (!!) cigarettes a day, so I’m not holding my breath. Either way, things seem pretty good. Texting and smoking, those right now are my two focuses. It’s amazing how different he is in person, not clingy at all. He talks a lot, but I do too so it’s not an issue.

      It’s definitely nice to spend time with a guy again. It’s been four years for me, so it’s nice to feel attractive and engaging. I’m still going to take it so, and he really hasn’t pushed it (forcing a kiss on me or asking me anything too too personal.) so we’ll see.

      1. Dan*

        Glad you had a nice time, seriously. Done right, dating is actually *fun*. I try and “waste” as little time as possible with online message/texting/whatever. That’s not what I’m looking for, I’m looking for an in-person relationship, and people can be very different as you’ve noted. So I try to cut to the chase as quickly as possible.

        You say:

        “He opened up a bit about the divorce. They’re just ready to sign the papers. Which is good.” Followed by your comment about “he knows how you are about smoking”, two things come to mind:

        1) “Sign the papers” means different things in different states. In my state, the only papers my ex had to sign were ones on the day we separated. That’s a really, really low bar for gauging where someone is emotionally. Everything since then was “optional”. Hell, I was so detached from the whole process that I hired a lawyer to do the paperwork for me, and I would sign stuff on occasion (I was the complainant.) I can’t remember what I signed for what. It was seriously the best money I ever spent. Point being is that “signing the papers” doesn’t say a lot.

        2) The way you phrased the smoking thing is worrisome for a couple of reasons. First, you’re only on date #2. Second, he needs time to figure out who the f he is. As Elizabeth West pointed our elsewhere, you do NOT want to be the rebound. If somebody on the second date told me that guys who do X are dealbreakers, and I do X, then I assume you’re telling me that I shouldn’t ask you out on the third date. You haven’t attained a prominent enough role in my life to get me to change my behavior, certainly not this early.

        As a guy who is just getting out of a relationship, he needs the freedom to do whatever the F he wants, whenever the F he wants, just because he F’ing wants to. Point being, guys who are willing to “cave” this fast, you need to keep a careful eye on. Sure, they’re going to *tell* you what you want to hear, but that’s the whole point of dating — figuring out who sticks their money where their mouth is.

        P.S. I’m not sure that 7 smokes a day is all that alarming. Two packs a day? (There’s 20 in a pack) yeah…

          1. Bekx*

            No I really didn’t realize that 7 wasn’t a lot! I’m not a smoker, mom quit before my parents were seriously dating… None of my friends smoke

        1. Bekx*

          Well, I don’t want to get too in detail here in case someone recognizes me. But it’s a disillusion not a divorce and an agreement on something money related has been made. All he has to do is figure out the number for that money based on the expense she agreed to pay and tell his lawyer so it can be finalized. He said he’s actually relieved it’s going so quickly and he can just put it behind him. (she chested, btw).

          As for the smoking. My first message back to him I said that his profile sounds great, but I do not date smokers. That’s A Thing for me. If he’s trying to quit then I’d be interested. He basically said that smoking is nothing to him if that means he can’t get to know me. So I’m going to see what he does, not be overly critical when he slips, and see what happens.

          I can tell by the way he talks and acts that he’s not the type to go out and f any girl who crosses his path. He’s a relationship guy.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            Hmmm. Okay, this is none of my business and possibly a downer, but … I have trouble believing that getting to know a stranger would be sincere motivation to stop smoking when all the other incredibly good reasons to stop smoking didn’t provide that motivation. That raises the worry for me that he’s blowing smoke (ha!) up your ass because he thinks it’s what you want to hear*, not truly serious about quitting, deluding himself (thinks he’ll stop for you but hasn’t considered how unlikely that is to stick, if other reasons haven’t stuck previously), and/or has really whacked out priorities (quitting for a stranger vs. quitting for obvious health reasons).

            * Combined with the too-intense-for-this-stage texting, I would keep watching for signs that he’s focused on generic romance that’s about his strong desire for romance in his life right now, rather truly being about who you are. Dudes in that place can come on really strong, say things that feel romantic (and mean them, at the time), and kind of delude themselves into thinking that you’re The One when in fact you don’t know each other well at all. I don’t know how that turns out since I’ve always run from it, but my suspicion is that it doesn’t end well.

            If none of this is the case, I’m sorry! I’m just seeing warning signs here and wanted to call them out. He’s coming on very strong when you consider that you barely know each other (and it started before you’d even met).

            1. Dan*


              I’m seeing warning signs too. After two dates, it’s too early to tell if “none of this is the case.” At this stage, you really don’t know. It’s why you date — to separate the wheat from the chaff, and figure out who’s walking the talk.

              Besides, one of the things you learn in your old age, it’s that the dating process isn’t about “finding a boyfriend/girlfriend.” It’s about finding someone who’s right for you. The other thing you learn about dating in your old age, is that when you see warning signs, you note them as “things to watch.” You don’t have to run from them, unless you want to, but you do have to keep an eye on them and make sure you understand them before you commit to the long haul.

              Bekx is lucky — she’s getting the benefit of wisdom from both a woman and a divorced dude.

            2. Bekx*

              I agree. Which is why when he told me he smoked his last one on Thursday and isn’t buying another pack I smiled, said “Good!” and thought in my head “Yeah, oh-kay.”

              Maybe it’s selfish of me, but I haven’t been dating people that much in the last few years. Right now I’m trying to enjoy the experience and not get too caught up in the emotions. And I appreciate everyone’s advice about this, too, especially how detailed you and Dan have been. Everything is all thoughts I’ve had cross my mind, but it’s nice to see others feeling similar.

              It’s unfortunate because if it weren’t for the recent breakup, I think we’d be a good fit. Now it’s just a matter of time and seeing what happens.

              1. Sinjin*

                But I think that’s part of what others are saying. You don’t have enough information yet to even be able to judge if he’s a good fit, or could be one. When we don’t have a lot of information, it can be easy to project qualities onto the other person. Pay attention to your gut. Know what you value/need and honor it. Balance what he says vs. what you observe. Maybe he could be a great fit … but it’s way too soon to know. That’s what dating’s for!

              2. The Cosmic Avenger*

                I don’t mean to be a downer, but people have to really want to quit their addictions to do so successfully. If they do so out of obligation or coercion they will almost certainly relapse eventually. I don’t mean “coercion” like you’re nagging or threatening him, Becx, just that it’s at someone else’s insistence, and it’s not something he might have done otherwise.

                I hope that his comment about smoking being nothing to him means he was planning on quitting but had never pulled the trigger, so to speak, because that might mean he’s quitting more for himself, you just prompted a revision of his timetable. But if he just now decided that you’re more important, that means that smoking is still important too, and he will likely start up again eventually.

                1. Bekx*

                  Yup. Well, that’s fine. I was incredibly upfront with him immediately, so if he’s not interested in quitting then that’s a deal breaker for me. He just started after the break up which I think was in February.

          2. Dan*


            I think you’re missing my point a little bit. I wasn’t asking about what kind of divorce they had or why they separated, in a lot of ways, the details were irrelevant. What I was trying to say to you is that if they haven’t even done “signatures” yet and they’re in the early phases of separation, it’s way too early for him to process what he’s gone through… even though many marriages are over long before they’re “over.” My ex and I had no kids, so they day it was over, it was *over.* I never had to see her again. That’s what makes for an easier time “moving on”. And it still took well over a year for me to want to be in a relationship again. Scratch that — it took well over a year for me to decide that I was willing to put in the time to find the right partner, not just “be in a relationship.”

            I was married to my ex for 3.5 years. For most of my marriage, I worked 50-60 hours a week, came home, made dinner, spent time with her, and wash, rinse, repeat. Going out to social functions the first few months was *hard*. Talking to women other than her was *hard.* (I work in a male dominated industry, my exposure to other women was few and far between.) My goal for the first several “outings” would be just to carry on a normal conversation with a woman.

            My f bombs weren’t a reference to casual sex. They were a reference to anything he may want to do. Happy hour, video gaming, staying up late, traveling wherever he wants, eating whatever he wants, whatever.

            Online, I probably wouldn’t even message a smoker. I certainly wouldn’t say “if you’re trying to quit, that’s different” because a smoker trying to quit is probably going to make it clear, otherwise their messaging is going to be really off. But if I were to say that, and they responded back with “I’d be willing to quit if it means I get to know you better” I’d be like WTF? You don’t know me, and you’re going to compromise on what’s essentially a major issue before we’ve even went out on a date?

            Believe it or not, I’m not trying to discourage you from dating this guy. It’s actually pretty darn easy to rationalize why a relationship *wouldn’t* work out. But you really want to take your time kicking the tires with this one. You need to figure out where he’s at with a few things in his life, and these aren’t questions you can just ask. You’ll get an answer, and he may actually believe it, but these big picture things are something that can be only answered with *time.* Give it time, but don’t date just him. Date other people. Go out with him regularly, but don’t attach the boyfriend/girlfriend label for at least a few months.

            I’m seeing a few girls right now, any number of which I can tell you why it would “never” work out in the long term. But in the short term? It’s fun. Make sure *he* goes out with other people, and if he’s still into you, then great. If he’s not? Then be happy you’re not the rebound. If all he’s doing is going out with you, then I’d say that qualifies as MAJOR RED FLAG.

            1. Bekx*

              Thanks Dan, and it’s kind of what I’ve been feeling. Personally, I don’t think he’s ready. I mean, I’m not in his head so I can’t see what he’s thinking, but I find it hard to believe. I’m definitely not putting all my eggs in his basket.

              And I agree with your points about the red flags. I’m kind of taking everything he says to me with a grain of salt, and I’m being cautious. I don’t want to be hurt. I think he’s jumping in very fast…but who knows. Maybe he’ll be great after a little while. I certainly enjoy spending time with him, and I think for now that’s all I want.

              1. Sunday*

                For many people who are separating or divorcing, “marriage” is their working definition of “relationship.” For many, it takes living awhile without that marriage to redefine what a new relationship could be – new as in brand new, and new as in different-from-the-last-one.

                Dan’s got great advice.

        1. INTP*

          If OP is sensitive to cigarette smoke or has another serious reason for not wanting to date a smoker, though, it could be significant. I tried to date a guy who smoked just a few a week, after drinking he would smoke a cigarette. Even that was problematic because I am very sensitive and feel sick being around someone who has just smoked (plus there’s the whole fact that it will be on your cloth furniture or bedsheets for days if they have smoked since their last change of clothes and shower).

          1. TL -*

            Smoking is a deal breaker for me, whether it’s an occasional smoking while drinking, one a day, or a carton a day. I’m not super sensitive, nor do I know someone who’s had lung cancer, but it’s a non-negotiable deal breaker. It’s a deal breaker with both potential romantic partners and close friends.

        2. Treena*

          Even one cigarette a day is a smoker, just a baby smoker who needs the time to work up to a stronger addiction. Very few people can stick to the smoking at parties/with a drink (1-2x/week). It usually increases from there.

          Bekx, it’s not a “ton” but it’s definitely an addiction and it will be hard for him to quit. That’s what I read your response as–he probably won’t be able to go cold-turkey.

          1. fposte*

            There’s been some interesting research to suggest the occasional smoker (they call them “chippers,” for reasons I’m not clear on) is more common than previously suggested. Most smoking research has focused on heavy smokers, so the chippers have apparently been underestimated and their patterns not really included in overall views; for instance, in some countries most smokers don’t smoke every day.

            However, this sounds like a guy who’s smoked more and is now trying to change that, not an occasional smoker; this is also a guy who is presenting this in the best light possible and may be smoking more than he claims or realizes. (He probably was trying to impress Bekx with how little he smoked with that 7 cigarettes thing–boy, did that backfire on him!)

            1. Bekx*

              (He probably was trying to impress Bekx with how little he smoked with that 7 cigarettes thing–boy, did that backfire on him!)

              Hahaha, yes. I’m a bit naive about smoking habits, thankfully. I think he could tell I was really surprised. I was thinking he smoked like…1 a day or something. I know! I know! I’m so sheltered with it :)

              1. Treena*

                I think it would matter more when/how he smokes, not really so much how many/day. If the first thing he does in the morning is smoke, or if he can’t go more than a couple of hours without smoking, then it’s going to be tough. Some people just smoke situationally–ie, when they’re in the car, on their patio with a beer, waiting for someone, out drinking etc. So maybe 7/day just fits into those types of things, or maybe he gets up at 7am and smokes one cigarette regularly every 2-3 hours until he goes to bed.

                1. Bekx*

                  I think it’s mostly at work when he’s around other smokers. At the concert we were next to smokers and for the first few hours he was like “It’s funny, it’s only been two days and I just feel like that smells awful….” and then a few hours later he was like “Yeah…smelling it all night like this makes me want one.” He has said he’s gone weeks without them before.

              2. TheLazyB*

                Some people smoke like 60 a day. Although fewer (in the uk at least) now it’s so crazy expensive.

            2. Treena*

              That is interesting! I sit on a tobacco prevention council and they’re very conservative and focus only on the scary data to get politicians to understand why public health programs are important. I wonder if there are genetic factors that lead to some people becoming addicts and others just won’t.

              1. fposte*

                I was thinking that too–there seems to be evidence of that with other addictions, so why not here as well?

            3. teclagwig*

              Interesting! My husband began smoking when he left his ex-wife. When I met him 2 years later, he was a sometime smoker who said he would give it up for me. 10 years and several attempts later, he still smokes.

              The thing that threw me off then, and which people usually don’t believe, is that he can go weeks without a cigarette if we are on vacation. He doesn’t smoke all weekend. What he does do is use cigarettes to self-regulate at work and during the long commute home.

              Until he finds some other way to deal with his emotions (and his suspected ADHD — nicotine being a stimulant and all), I can’t see him successfully quitting. So, take this as a cautionary tale from someone who thought “he only smokes 4-5/day” and “he only smokes at work” meant that it would be easy for him to kick the habit once he decided he was “ready.”

            4. moss*

              “Chipping” is the term for injecting heroin but not into a vein. So it implies someone has not yet fully committed/surrendered to an addiction, or delusionally believes that they are doing a less harmful act.

        3. Sunday*

          It does if you don’t smoke.
          After my brother quit, he was surprised to learn that he really could tell when someone had had “just one” cigarette – and how much else he could smell in general. The “tricks to hide it” seem designed to work for other smokers, not for non-smokers. Eg, I dated someone for a few weeks who believed that eating an orange or spicy food after smoking would mean I couldn’t tell.

          1. teclagwig*

            Ew, ew, ew. Smoke residue is so stinky. My husband has to wash his face (beard & mustache hold the smell like whoa), and sometimes rinse out his nose (so do nose hairs). Even then I can smell it, but it drops to a bearable level of odor.

      2. misspiggy*

        Aw, that sounds nice. It sounds like the texting won’t be a big deal if you can communicate that you’d rather reduce it. Don’t underestimate the physical difficulty of giving up smoking though. It might take longer than you think. FWIW, I thought smoking was a deal breaker for me, but it turned out not to be when I met someone who was otherwise great. He wanted to give up, and was only smoking 10 a day, but it took several years for him to really give up, and involved a long time on nicotine patches, and several years of not being able to be around smokers.

    7. Diddly*

      Maybe you don’t like him as much as he likes you? Or you’re not majorly into dating right now and want your own space? Really long text messages can feel invasive when you’re busy or just not interested in having them – also why can’t he just call a that point?
      My general feeling is he’s puppy dog into you and you’re not that interested/feel that you have to do this prescribed dating thing everyone wants you to do. If it’s not fun, making you happy – don’t do it. If you’re not excited to see him then maybe you shouldn’t…

      1. Diddly*

        Sorry I didn’t see your update. Obs got v wrong end of the stick. But can you say maybe that you can schedule a call at the end of the day and you can speak to him then, but you can’t do long text messages as you just prefer calls over texts. Might work better as you seem to prefer him in person and a more genuine conversation can happen.

  6. Ally*

    Any tips for a first time puppy owner?!

    Super excited! I’ve read all of the articles ever ;) but I trust this community to fill me in on the lesser known things!

    1. katamia*

      Congrats! What breed and how old?

      We had a pretty good experience with the Petsmart training classes when we got our dog as a puppy. If you have one nearby, it might be worth looking them up and seeing if the one near you is any good. Our dog isn’t perfectly trained, but that’s our fault, not Petsmart’s, lol.

    2. BRR*

      Lots of walks. A tired dog is a well behaved dog. Just make sure to train it to walk properly, read up on using treats to keep it from being all over the place.

      Do a puppy class, it’s great to not only learn how to teach your dog manners but to do it with distractions. Look for a trainer who uses positive training and is certified by some organization. There are lots of people who call themselves trainers and they might be good but I think it’s always best to have somebody who went through some accreditation.

      Also you can get puppies used to loud sounds so later they won’t be scared of thunder or fireworks.

      1. katamia*

        It’s also good to get puppies used to strangers coming in and out of their space in addition to loud noises. We had some illness and stress in our family just after we got our dog, so we didn’t have people over, and in her mind the only people who come into her space (i.e., the house and yard) are family, basically. We lock her in the kitchen when repair people come over, but she barks like crazy and HATES having other people in the house. Sweetest dog ever and very friendly if you meet her outside the house, but she just doesn’t seem to be able to adjust to having strangers in the house.

    3. Lizh*

      Congratulations. I would definitely recommend training classes. FWIW, I have a neighbor who did not have good luck with Petsmart training. Have you find a vet yet? You may want to interview more than one. Do your research on shots, etc. Shots are big money makers for vets and are often unnecessary. Telling you this because we had a dog who had allergies, got a Lyme shot, and had a horrible reaction. Long story but that reaction led to her last year of life being horrendous, she developed neurological issues, and had to be put down. Vet knew she had allergies, and shot specs state not to be given to dogs with known allergies. We have malpractice complaint filed with state against vet. Still waiting on verdict. Telling you this because you will need to be proactive in that. Also, be consistent and start early. Don’t let them beg when you are eating, and don’t feed from the table.
      Congratulations and enjoy.

      1. stellanor*

        I think how good the Petsmart training is varies by Petsmart. The skill and experience level of the people doing it can vary a LOT, so the best bet is to see if there are reviews for that specific branch, or if you know somebody who’s been there.

        After repeated, expensive bad dog training experiences (none of the places here will refund you after you pay them no matter what!) I have decided I’m sitting in on a class before I give anyone else my money. Most dog trainers will let you observe a class before signing up. I signed up for a very expensive six-week course at a place with an excellent reputation and found it TERRIBLE, but felt like I had to keep going because I’d paid $180 upfront already and they don’t give refunds. :/

    4. catsAreCool*

      Training is very very important, even if the puppy won’t ever get very big. You want your puppy to be well socialized and to get along with humans, dogs, and kitties. If you find a good vet, the vet can also help with advice.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Figure on dealing with puppy behaviors for 18 months or so. After that they settle in and get used to your house and your routine.

      Consistency is super important. With my guy, here, I worked all kinds of weird hours. I was not predictable. It took a lot longer to train him. My hours are better now and he is much better.

      Handle your pup a lot. I play with their paws, teeth and tail. I don’t do anything harsh, I just pet their paws/teeth/tail and talk to them in a silly/happy voice. When they go to the vets, the vet will have an easier time with the dog because you handled the pup so much. It’s easier to trim nails and check the teeth and (heaven forbid they have a problem with their back end) it is easier to check their butts, because they are used to being handled.

      A bored pup gets into stuff. My guy opened the kitchen cupboards and pulled everything out. (He was full of ideas/mischief, actually.) That was my fault not his. I did not walk him enough and I did not play with him enough. My previous pup was the exact opposite and I could leave loose in the house all day at 6 months- he was a calmer breed and I worked with him more.

      Pups are a huge investment of time but you front the investment. In years to come you will have an enjoyable little buddy that reflects your investment of time in the early months. Good luck and have fun!

      1. Nichole*

        My son has been the regular puppysitter for a neighbor’s very pampered doberman since they got her as a puppy, and my neighbor specifically said one of the things that made her ask him is the need for consistency when she can’t be there. He goes over for a few hours whenever they aren’t home for long stretches, and he’s been able to keep to her schedule, reinforce the lessons from her puppy classes, etc. He’s a young teenager, so he’s not very expensive, and having a steady backup person made a big impact on keeping her pup happy.

    6. Lionness*

      Socialize heavily and train. These are critical weeks. Right now, you’ll want to avoid much interaction with other dogs in public but if you have other friends that own fully vaccinated dogs, get them together. Introduce your pup to big dogs, small dogs, loud dogs, quiet dogs, active dogs, lazy dogs, big people, small people, men, women, children. Get him used to cars and loud noises.

      Do this now. If you miss this window, you can never get it back. You can train an older dog, but it is so much easier now. Be firm with your training, but kind. I suggest a puppy class. Find a good groomer in your town and keep up on vaccines.

      House breaking isn’t easy but it isn’t hard either. If you aren’t taking him potty, tether him to you or crate him (and crate train! It is hard for 1-2 days but then it is a life saver!) and take him out every 2 hours. In general a puppy can “hold it” for 1 hour for every month in age (so at 8 weeks, you’ve got 2 hours – MAX) but should be taken out immediately after eating.

      Buy a quality food. It is more expensive up front, but will save you tons in ongoing vet bills and size of feedings.

      Get your dog used to you being gone. Make sure he knows you will always come back. And don’t be gone too long – you’re all he has and you are everything to him.

    7. Lionness*

      Finally, always remember: if your puppy disobeys or has an accident in the house it is your fault, not his. Either you were not clear in your instructions, or you didn’t train enough, or you didn’t take him out when he needed it. Dogs have no sense of “revenge” or doing something out of jealousy. Those are human emotions. Your dog just wants to please you.

      1. NacSacJack*

        Potty Training: If he or she stops moving, grab and run for the door! Why? puppies are always on the move. if they stop moving, they are usually getting ready to pee.

  7. Mimmy*

    Well good news – No skin breakouts after all! It was just the one blister, which grew a little bit, but has since gone down. It’s not gone, but it’s much smaller. Since it didn’t really get much worse, I never went to the doctor, but I did take pictures on my phone so that I could possibly show a dermatologist at a future appointment.

    In other news – I had Jury Duty for the first time ever this week. Most. Boring. Day. Ever. My number did get called at one point, but they kept shuffling us into different courtrooms, including the one where the assigned trial would be. After a long wait, they ended up dismissing the entire group because someone needed a Spanish interpreter, but they didn’t have one (I think they said others were tied up in other trials, not sure). Believe me, we were NOT happy. I was also annoyed that they didn’t have a large print questionnaire for me (for the pre-trial juror questions) even though I set that up well in advance! Sigh.

    But on the bright side, I got to chat with some nice people.

    1. katamia*

      Wow, that seems like really bad planning with the jury duty. I lucked out the one time I had jury duty–got called into one courtroom, but they filled up the jury spots before they got to my number. I wound up getting out around 2:00 (which kinda sucked because my ride wasn’t coming until later, but I walked around a bit and went to Starbucks while I waited, so it wasn’t that bad) because they didn’t have another trial for us. I spent most of the day reading, although if I were going to spend a day doing that, I would have rather been able to do that at home in a more comfortable chair.

      1. Mimmy*

        Ha! I hear ya on the chairs. They weren’t horrible, but the ones in the main juror assembly room were bolted together, so if one person moves, you feel it.

        What’s also crazy is how they make it sound like Jury Duty is a really interesting experience–yeah, if you’re picked for an actual trial!! For the rest of us: Zzzzzzzzzzzzz.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The chairs are bolted together so they cannot be used as weapons. It’s SOP. Yeah, no one is comfortable. But courts have learned that they have to lock down the chairs in some manner.

          I think you have filled your jury duty requirement for a while though. Did they tell you that they would not call you for X years?

    2. Gene*

      I got to spend 4 months on a jury once. The current and former residents of a trailer park didn’t like how it was being run. Yes, that was the crux of the suit. And they after settled after those 4 months.

      I was a one-person division doing a job required by federal law, and one of the lab analysts turned in his notice the day after I was seated. So, covering his weekends and doing the absolute bare minimum possible of my job, I was averaging about 20-25 hours of OT a week. I made the down payment for our house that spring.

      I also made some friends on the jury.

      1. Windchime*

        I have a friend who met her husband, the love of her life, while on jury duty. Their eyes literally met across a crowded room. Then they were called into the same courtroom. Then they were seated on the same jury. It’s a long and winding story, but they got together years later and are married still.

    3. anonymous daisy*

      I wish their was a system where you could volunteer to be on a jury. I would love to do it but I have only been called once and I didn’t make it past the initial questioning. I really wanted to find out what the trial was about too – it was a principal of the local high school versus a high school senior versus the high school seniors parents – yes – it was a three way court case. I kept searching the local paper for a write up but it was never reported on.

    1. Bea W*

      My flight is delayed an hour so I’m chilling in the lounge. Pretty much everytime I was walking while rolling my luggage my event monitor went off.

      The idiot at the parking lot moved his freakin bus two lanes over even as I was pulling up and parking behind me. So I walked over to him, and that’s when it really got dicey. Wasn’t sitting in the bus more than 5 minutes when the monitoring center started calling me. :/ I dunno what’s up with that today. I usually have to work a bit harder than rolling luggage around to feel that awful. Please send good thoughts for it not being an issue when I arrive in Ireland. Seriously do not need any drama! I’ve been fine sitting, but walking around with luggage…not so much. Glad I do not need to be very mobile for this trip.

      My cousin is coincidentally also in NI at the same time but with another group and he won’t have much free time to poke around. He’s totally going to just open the phone book and start cold calling people with our name. :D We’re both looking forward to standing in the place where our ancestors lived.

      1. Just look at them and sigh*

        By ‘event monitor’ do you mean you have a cardiac event monitor? Does it also have a pacemaker or ICD? If so – I have a friend with such a setup. It’s rather study, but – make sure you don’t overdue it, okay?

  8. Rebecca*

    I’m enjoying riding my bike more, but I need a more padded seat. My butt feels like it’s going to fall asleep :) The seat itself is cushy, but as I ride longer, like 4 or 5 miles, it starts to bother me. I think I need more padding – any suggestions on a seat cushion I could add?

    1. Today's anon*

      Or try cushioned shorts/pants. They make some that are not the spandex kind but look like regular clothing. Saved my butt!

    2. fposte*

      I have big problems in this area, and I’ve gone for a sheepskin on the bike seat *and* padded bike shorts.

    3. notfunny.*

      How long have you been riding with this saddle? Is there a specific place that it is hurting? The seat may not be the issue, it could be bike fit or just getting used to riding…. I would stop in at your local bike shop and chat with them about what might be the problem…

      1. salad fingers*

        Yeah, every time I start doing long rides again it takes a second for my butt to adjust. Like, in the last six weeks I’ve started doing a weekly 50+ mile ride, and the first week I was super sore for a couple of days. Since then, I’ve felt no discomfort. I have a super duper basic saddle.

        That said, I’m just one person. Definitely ask your local bike store people about it. I’ve also heard good things about padded shorts, and for chafing, chamois cream.

      2. Treena*

        +1 for getting used to riding. When I first started, my butt hurt after a mile or two, but my tolerance built up. I went on a 15 mile ride recently and was surprised that my butt was sore, but it made sense because it had been a while!

      3. Rebecca*

        The bike seat says BG Comfort and Comfort Core on it, and it’s the seat that came with the bike when I bought it at the shop. Today I rode 12 miles, and had to stop 3 times along the way because my butt was tired. It’s hard to explain exactly where it hurts, picture sitting straight up in a chair, and drawing a line from your shoulder straight down through your body into the chair, where your butt meets the chair would be about it. I’m not a small person (women’s size 18W-20W and trying to reduce) so probably my weight has something to do with it. I don’t have problems with chafing or rubbing, just this one thing.

        1. Coach Devie*

          It’s so funny, thinking back to childhood when we used to bike EVERYWHERE ALL DAY LONG and were never sore or had these issues. Oh, adulthood, why so cruel?!

          1. Rebecca*

            I was just thinking about that. I had a 10 speed Kabuki bike, with the curled under handlebars and a practically non-existent seat, and I had no pain and we road all over the place. It has to be the increased age + increased mass :)

    4. Ali*

      Depending on your body position and riding style, you might be happier with less padding and not more! It depends on how much of your weight you’re putting on your feet vs. the seat, among other things. I have a Brooks b17 on my bike, and it’s leather and not padded, and works much better for me than other setups I’ve tried. I bike pretty casually, but every day (for transport) and sometimes long distances (20-30 miles.)

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Same with me! I tried all kinds of padded, and more padded, bicycle seats, and the one that worked, counterintuitively to my mind, was a hard, leather Brooks saddle.

    5. Gene*

      My solution was to get a recumbent bike. No butt pain, no wrist pain, and a higher average speed. Took about a month to get used to the different muscles used.

    6. Bea W*

      Oh god! When I was in the Netherlands riding hither and yon…oh my butt! OUCH! I assumed if I did it everyday I would get used to it. I think I was just not used to sitting in that position so much.

    7. Not So NewReader*

      Is the bike seat adjusted to the correct height for you?

      I am not going to say this exactly correct but I remember something about when the pedal is in its lowest position your leg should be straight. The reason for this is that you use your energy pedaling with maximum efficiency.

      If your knee is bent when the pedal is at it’s lowest point, this could be throwing everything off in such a manner that your butt hurts. (Not sure how the dots would connect on that one, but it’s worth investigating.)

      Secondly, I think there used to be a gel seat type of thing. I don’t know if there still is.

      You did not ask, but as an aside, please consider air horns for your bike. They are very light, and amazing loud. The air tank is similar to a plastic water bottle. Bike shops will have them or you can find them online. I cannot tell you how many times this saved my husband and I from a careless driver or an angry, runnning dog.

    8. LCL*

      Forget the seat cushion and buy a Terry seat. I am on my second Terry, current model is liberator x gel. The first seat was great at my heaviest weight of 250 lbs. If you don’t want to pay the price, at least check out their website which has good advice. I also like their plus size clothes, they are cut a little longer than pearl Izumi or she beast.
      Some women swear by specialized’s women’s saddles.

    9. Natalie*

      Have you ever been fitted for a seat? It might not be the padding but rather the shape/size that is bothering you. A bike shop should have this interesting squishy thing you sit on, and it leaves marks where your bones landed.

  9. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

    Just did a number on my knee last weekend. Short story: torn meniscus with a piece flopping around and ACL is completely torn. Going the conservative route at the moment and repairing the meniscus on Wednesday, look around while the Doc’s there at the ACL etc., rehab the knee then reassess at that point whether to do the ACL or just wear a brace for sports. I bike, hike, volleyball and ski. I’m definitely taking the coming ski season off. Also trying to figure out why I didn’t blow out the ACL playing serious adult rec volleyball back in the 80-90’s! There were quite a few ladies that blew out their knees back then.

    My questions to people who’ve gone through the surgeries and rehab:
    I’ve been told to stay home a week and a half to recovery from the first round of surgery. Planning to work from home part time at least but I’m wondering if I feel good before than should I try going to work?

    How much is it going to hurt while recovering?

    Repairing the ACL and rehab – pros and cons? Doc said I may do okay with going with the brace and I don’t do bumps, trees or blacks particularly when skiing. My goal this coming season was to learn how to deal with bumps but not now…

    That’s all I can think of for now…thanks!

    1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

      Also I have some lightweight crutches right now (borrowed) that are nice but was wondering if the arm type is less awkward to deal with? Not sure if I’m going to be able to tolerate the pads under the armpit long term.

      1. Rebecca*

        Years ago when I had to use crutches for a while, I put sheepskin over the padding on the crutches, and it made it much more tolerable under my arms.

      2. Coach Devie*

        Also remember the crutch is to be supported by your hands, not your pits. You can do nerve damage if you bear too much weigh under your armpits for too long. Means your hands will get tired, but its better than being damaged at both ends! ;-)

        Get well soon!

      3. Elizabeth*

        Have the crutches actually been sized to you by someone trained? I had planned on just using a pair my husband has when I had foot surgery a few months ago, but just in case I stopped by a medical equipment store. The crutch fitter said that I was risking serious injury, measured me and got a set out that were a full six inches shorter than my husband’s pair. It turns out that I need the teenager size, not the adult medium. It seems to have less to do with height than with the relative length of each section of the body (I have really short legs below the knee in comparison to my femurs & torso).

      4. Schmitt*

        I have arm-type crutches right now, but I’ve never used shoulder ones. They’re fine, and I imagine they are easier to go places with than crutches a foot taller – they fit in the front seat of a car with me.

        As someone else said, though, getting them adjusted right is key.

      5. puddin*

        I couldn’t deal so I went an alternative route. I got this kneeling wheeling thingy. Your bum leg kneels on a padded seat with kneels underneath it and you scoot yourself around. I much preferred that to the crutches.

        1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

          I wish I could use the kneeling one but bending the knee is impossible at this point! I’ve got a bunch of DVDs lined up to watch…plus Felicity and CSI on Hulu.

    2. Revanche*

      I’ve not had experience in this myself but I know several people who have had the repair done and the consensus seemed to be that you should take that week or two of prescribed recovery time seriously and rest even if you feel good. Not sure if this is applicable across the board but just their two cents’! :)

    3. HR Generalist*

      My (recent) ex just went through the surgery – fully torn meniscus and ACL. His doctor told him that surgery was his only option if he wanted to play sports again, and he did, so he had it done. He’s still insisting that he won’t ever be able to play soccer or snowboard again but hockey, volleyball, baseball, skiing hopefully.

      He took two weeks off work but his job involves a lot of walking around/physical movement. He ended up taking an additional week to work from home, but likely he could’ve been working from home for two weeks and just had the one week off.

      Good luck!

  10. Anx*

    I hope this isn’t too work related?

    I have two pairs of shoes that are currently falling apart. If I am careful with my gait I think I can get through the summer, but I’ve starting looking at shoe sales, etc.

    Price is a big factor for me, but I also don’t want to drive around to 20 different stores or be stuck with a pair I hate for the next 5 years or so.

    I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for, but I’ve noticed something I didn’t notice 5 years ago: it’s really hard to find women’s semi-dressy shoes that actually cover their feet!

    I usually get shoes like Aerosoles or Lifestride that’s not very fashionable but makes an effort. Few of their flats cover my feet. I have to wear thick cotton socks for medical reasons; I do not go sockless and I rarely wear dress socks so I want them covered. Am I looking for loafers then?
    Is there a name for a dress/work flat that covers the instep? Also, although I don’t plan on wearing my nicer things in labs, I want a good deal of my shoes to be lab-friendly.

    As an aside, I’m really looking forward to the end of the reign of the skinny jean [they hurt my bony knees], super thin fabrics [they have their place but I legit could see my bra through half of the clothes I tried on recently] and unstructured everything [is it just me, or does this seem really convenient for clothing manufacturers]

    1. LizB*

      Loafers might work, as would oxfords, which are a bit more full-coverage but might not fit the type of dressiness you’re looking for. Could you try boots? There are some really cute ankle boots in style right now, with or without a heel.

      And yeah, it’s not at all a coincidence that super thin fabrics, unstructured cuts, one-size-fits-most pieces like leggings, etc. are all in style. It’s way cheaper for clothing companies!

      1. Anx*

        I forgot about oxfords! More appropriate for fall, but if I can last til then that’s another great way to narrow the search. I’m in a weird situation where I don’t want to keep paying for street clothes, but am working jobs that are not-at-all fancy on college campuses, so I don’t want to be too overdressed.

        I feel so silly, but I’m not just not very fashion savvy and forget the names of these things.

        I already do have boots.

    2. JMW*

      I wear Clark’s – loafers or a slip-on sortof clog style. I always wear socks. Price is reasonable and they last a long time.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        I was going to suggest Clark’s, too. I’ve been wearing them for years; I call them my “ugly black campus shoes”. They’re not really that ugly, but they are modest (not terribly stylish) and so comfortable for walking all over the university campus.

        1. Windchime*

          I had an injury to the back of the heel that meant I couldn’t wear shoes that were closed in the back. After surgery to fix the problem, I still couldn’t wear closed-back shoes for a long time. Finally I bought a pair of Clarks with a closed back, and all was right with the world again. They’re not pretty, but they got me back into the world of shoes (rather than slides and clogs).

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I’m with you on the super-thin fabrics. Ugh. And very very low-cut blouses. Where do clothing manufacturers think I work, a strip club?! I’ll keep the skinny jeans, though; I finally got into them. Except I”m getting fat again. Time to get my butt out on the walks, now that it has stopped raining finally.

      Oh, and crappy colors! Some of the colors this season are gross.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Yeah, I hate the super-thin fabrics because they show the outline of every little fat roll. I like a fabric with a little heft to it, and clothing that skims my body semi-closely (not snug, but not all loose and drapey and flowy).

        1. INTP*

          And they also require layering to avoid showing off your undergarments! Which is annoying as crap when you really like the way an item falls but a tank top under it ruins it, or it’s hot and you just want to wear something breezy.

          Gap Favorite tees are the only shirts I have that are actually quite opaque. But they do stretch out and the fabric has kind of a dull look. Not the best looking shirts but I like that you can wear them without a tank under.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              They do that on purpose to sell more shirts. And notice they’re not cheap, even though there’s not much to them!
              THANK YOU PRIMARK for all those cheap little tanks I bought last UK visit. I wish like hell we had them here. Their clothes are way cuter than Walmart and cheaper than Target (seriously, Target, you are not a mall and your clothes are not that high-quality; lower your prices).

              1. Apollo Warbucks*

                Primark’s business practices are appalling there sweatshops are so unsafe and have killed people in Bangladesh before now and the quality of the clothes is so bad. You’d never find me shopping there.

                1. Reflections*

                  Primark don’t have a monopoly on sweatshops though. Many big high street names have been called out on this including pretty high end brands. It’s all out there on Google.

                2. I called her Estella*

                  That also rules out most clothing chains and supermarkets then. Appalling business practices abound. Anyway most of us have to shop according to budget.

                3. Elizabeth West*

                  Unfortunately, they all do. I can’t afford the clothes from businesses that don’t do that. As to quality, I try to find better stuff at the department store remainder/irregular shop we have here (I got a pair of Clarks clogs recently for $16). Basics like tank tops, etc. are easier to find at discount stores.

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Plus I hate the filmy, strappy, multi-layered blouses that I can’t even figure out how to get into and our of, nor even how to hang it on a hanger. Those things are like a trap for Houdini. I just want simple items that are not like trying to wear a skimpy Möbius strip.

              1. Mallory Janis Ian*

                Before I learned to spot such blouses before taking them to the dressing room, I’d get trapped in them and, by the time I freed myself, I’d want to throw them on the floor and jump up and down on them, screaming, with both feet.

                1. Blue_eyes*

                  Ugh, I tried on a few rompers this season, and they are terrible to get into! It seems like designers completely forgot that you have to actually get them on your body. Most of them were too small to pull up over my hips or I couldn’t get the straps on to my shoulders. I finally bought one, but I actually had to cut a little strap across the back to give it enough ease to actually get it on!

      2. Anx*

        I think I look pretty okay in skinny jeans, I just literally can’t even walk out of the dressing room without pain. I am not a skinny person, but my joints are very bony and jutty.

        And not just low cut, but wide shoulders. I wish it were easier to find a feminine yet modest neckline. Not quite a crew neck but something I don’t have to babysit my bra straps in.

      3. Nichole*

        Ugh, everything this season seems to be coral or mint. I like coral AND mint in theory, but they look gross on my skin tone, so shopping for work dresses for summer was a huge pain. Everything comfortable and work appropriate without being super formal was completely unflattering.

    4. skyline*

      You might look at smoking flats in addition to loafers and oxfords. I also wear ankle boots/booties a lot of the year. They look great with trousers and jeans, and depending on the look, they can look good with dresses and skirts, too.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        I’ll second the Merrell’s. I have a pair of the Jungle Mocs in both black & brown. They are a bit pricey, but I can get a couple years wear out of them by alternating.

        1. Kelly White*

          I’ll third the Merrells. I wear the Jungle Mocs all the time- they are very comfy, and last an amazingly long time.

    5. ptrish*

      Naturalizer is my go-to for comfy but good-looking work shoes, and they have a sale going on right now! Two tips–I think their shoes tend to run a little big, and the dress/casual division on their website is kind of innaccurate, in both directions.

    6. Observer*

      Try on-line shopping. I had a pretty good experience with Zappos, ok with Amazon. I’ve also done ok with Lands End, but unless you get overstocks, they are not cheap. The ones I got were comfortable and with good coverage – and they lasted for a good while. Returns experience with Zapos and LandsEnd was very good.

      1. Grand Canyon Jen*

        You can also return Lands’ End items at Sears stores. That always seems to me to be easier than to try to ship stuff back.

  11. MsChanandlerBong*

    Does Father’s Day cause a lot of stress for anyone else? I feel terrible for my husband. His dad has no clue how to communicate with him, and he’s perpetually disappointed that my husband is not his clone. In the past year, my husband has barely talked to him because he’s tired of being reprimanded like a child every time they talk. For example, my husband’s aunt emailed me on Thanksgiving to ask us about attending dinner on Christmas Eve. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner and had guests at my house until late in the evening, so I didn’t check my email until Black Friday. I responded to the email within about 21 hours–not even a full day. Yet the Saturday after Thanksgiving, my FIL called my husband’s cell phone at 9:00 in the morning to yell at him for not responding to his aunt’s email sooner. There are also issues with my FIL’s wife (I mentioned her abusive behavior in a recent thread; my husband can’t have a private conversation with his dad because she insists on listening to every call and interrupting with her ridiculous opinions).

    TLDR; my FIL treats my husband like a child, and his wife treats both of us like crap, yet FIL can’t understand why we have cut off almost all contact except to mail greeting cards on holidays/birthdays and send an occasional text message to wish him Merry Christmas or Happy Father’s Day. You’d think that if he really wanted a relationship with his son, he’d learn to treat him like an adult.

    1. Amber Rose*

      My husband’s dad has a one child policy. Too bad he has like 4 kids. My husband is not currently the “one”. Personally I think that’s for the best, but I do understand how it must be painful to be ignored by a parent no matter how much of an asshole they are.

      My dad and I have such a complicated relationship now that anything to do with him stresses me out. I do still love him very much but I loathe all of his girlfriends and I’m not really sure where we stand with each other. I feel I am often treated as my mom’s replacement in caregiver terms and I’m not comfortable with that, nor do I want to discuss his adventures in the dating scene. I do accept that I may be slightly unreasonable on that one.

      Anyways! Sum this all up as: Father’s Day, ugh. And empathy hugs for it being stressful.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I think it’s fairly usual for a person to not want to know any details (at least nothing too detailed) about his/her parent’s dating. I know that’s how I feel – TMI.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        I was reading about this in some of the parent-child relationship books that I have dived into. Apparently, it happens that the mom is out of the picture for whatever reason and the daughter ends up feeling like a surrogate wife to her father.
        I don’t see anything wrong with reminding him that his is your father, not your buddy. If you don’t want to hear certain details of his dating life, he can find other people to talk with.

        After my mother died, my father drove me nuts with questions. “How do I get ketchup stains out of a tee shirt?” Or, “How long should I cook this chicken?” He knew this stuff, why is he asking about it? Finally, I figured out that he needed to get out and get some female championship- just someone that was comfy that he could hang out with. I told him so, too. Your dad sounds like he could use some guy friends to talk to about his girlfriends.
        Nothing wrong with pointing that out to him. You are his daughter that is the role you play in his life. Other people can play other roles.

    2. Act Casual*

      That sounds so stressful and forced guilt-inducing, two things that are NOT conducive to convincing anyone to make an effort at having a relationship. I had a similar vibe with my dad, although it was more that he just didn’t know how to communicate and wasn’t emotionally available, and he tried although I think he was helpless to figure out how to do it better. We would have these very short awkward conversations and then kind of look away and pretend we weren’t having a very awkward silence. Plus my mom and dad had a dysfunctional marriage so the tension between them was awful and I always took it personally. Holidays were so hard for me, fraught with all kinds of emotional land mines. I finally got to the point where I realized I wasn’t responsible for their feelings or their happiness and just lived my life & did my best to love them as they were – from a distance much of the time. Hugs to you both.

    3. Just look at them and sigh*

      > … he’d learn to treat him like an adult.

      This is often not the trivial exercise that you appear to think it is. If you look at the Big Picture, parents will spend the first 13 years of a child’s life teaching them and telling them what to do. Then once they hit the teen years, the children begin to rebel and reject the parental advice. Which can put the parents into overdrive, because they hate being ignored. And it doesn’t help that your average teen is under the illusion that they know everything and don’t need help or advice from their parents. And when inevitably the child screws up, the parent will often respond with some kind of “I told you so!”, thinking that the child will have learned to pay attention to their parent. Which is, of course, not at all what happens.

      So you’ve got something like 18 to 25 years of this kind of interaction, the latter years perhaps happening during a time when the parent is beginning to become set in their ways. It can be difficult for a parent to let go and let their child live their own life. I’ve got two kids in college and it is almost a daily struggle. I know I don’t own them or run their lives. But if I observe one of them about to go and do something stupid, it can be very, very difficult to keep my mouth shut. (I usually cope by only speaking up when the matter is serious to where it could involve, life, death, injury, criminal charges, or a major financial hit).

      My point here being to ask you to think a bit more deeply into just *why* your husband and his father have these problems.

      I guess I was lucky, I always got along well with my father, who is gone almost 5 years now, and I literally miss him every day.

      Has your husband ever just attempted to address the problem face-on? “Dad – I know you mean well, but you have to stop treating me like a child”.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        If my FIL was just trying to give his son advice and guidance, I would absolutely agree with you. Heck, we’d be thrilled if his dad wanted to provide some wisdom and advice once in a while. That’s not the reason my husband cut off contact. My point about being treated like an adult was that, if my FIL really wanted to have a relationship with his son, you think he’d just call and try to make conversation. Instead, he calls at times he knows are inconvenient (my husband works evening OT on Saturdays, so he sleeps late in the morning to gear up for work) and gives my husband crap over complete nonsense.

      2. Marcela*

        The problem with that vision is that, yes, my mother (in my case) had 13 years of guide of my life. But that was more than 25 years ago. So are you saying she got used to something in several years, but could not learn in twice that time that the situation changed forever? No. Sorry. No. It is very difficult to accept your children grow. But it’s not impossible and there is plenty of time to learn it: it’s not like they just develop independence one day. We can see the tiniest beginning when they refuse our help to tie their shoelaces.

    4. catsAreCool*

      I think Carolyn Hax might recommend your husband telling his father when he yells that if he keeps yelling, he will hang up the phone and then do it. Sometimes dealing with abusive people entails cutting them out of your life; otherwise, it almost seems like it involves “training” them where if they step over a line, you leave or disconnect.

      Hope that helps. It sounds so awful to deal with. Also, if your husband is used to this treatment, he may sort of feel like it’s normal. Yelling at someone for not getting back on an e-mail is not normal.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        I am actually really proud of my husband because he’s done just that on two separate occasions. He very calmly said, “If you can’t speak to my wife and I respectfully, then I’m not going to be able to continue this conversation.” The whole thing is sad because I actually like my FIL, and my husband doesn’t really have that much of a problem with his dad. It’s just that his dad’s second wife treats both of us terribly, and there’s no way to avoid it. If we call his dad, she’s listening to every word and interrupting. She goes everywhere with him, from the grocery store to the doctor, so you can’t even meet up with him for a casual lunch or an occasional dinner. We both believe her behavior is downright abusive, but there’s really nothing we can do (we’ve checked). He’s not being held against his will, he’s not physically hurt, etc.

    5. Dan*

      Not sure where to stick this amidst all of the responses, but fathers day I’m fine with, dad and I get a long great. Mom and I? Not so much. The thing with her is she doesn’t communicate. At all. Never has, probably never will. To me, it’s the weirdest thing ever. A concise example to illustrate the point: When things were blowing up with my ex, I must have spent about 60 hours on the phone with my dad over the three month period right before and after the “moment.” (Yes, I did estimate at one point.) Mom must have been present for about half of that. Literally the only thing she ever said to me was “I’m sorry I have nothing to add to what your father is telling you.” I’m not exaggerating. And yes, my entire life with her has been like that. Calls on her bday/mother’s day are along the lines of “Hi. Happy . Did you do anything fun? Yes. I did . Would you like to talk to your dad?”

      I guess at least she’s not yelling and screaming, but it’s maddening nonetheless.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Lots of people’s *dads* are like that. Mine is sometimes; my mom was a better conversationalist.

        Also, if Dad’s the one you go to, she may feel pretty superfluous.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        Silence can be louder than a scream.

        The problem with silence is that it’s the ultimate relationship killer. If any two people cannot speak to each other, then the relationship is history.

        The hardest part in this whole thing, is why-oh-why would a mother allow a relationship with her child to whither and die?

        1. Dan*

          She writes it off as if it’s my fault. “At least you talk to one of us” is what she says.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Wow-wow. Just goes to show, if a person has a child that does not make her/him a parent. There’s more to it than giving birth.

            I am sorry.

            1. Dan*

              Thanks. When we were growing up, our family was just on the “lower middle class” side of the poverty line (aka “broke”). My brother and I turned out to have quite successful careers.

              Not too long ago, I was on the phone with my dad and I asked him, “Do you ever consider how lucky you are that your kids ended up doing quite well for themselves?” Dad’s comment was “hell yeah.” Mom’s comment was, “Maybe it was a result of the excellent parenting that you had.” I kept my mouth shut on that one, but I think my computer screen got sprayed with the drink I had.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                I consider my boss a wise woman. I said something similar to her that she had awesome kids. She said, “I am lucky.” Some people get this stuff, others not so much.

                1. TheLazyB*

                  Every time someone says how awesome my son is i say yes he is…. I’m very lucky. Because srsly, i don’t think i am randomly that good at parenting, based on one kid and no training.

    6. INTP*

      It’s stressful for me. My parents divorced when I was really young, and my mom had primary custody, so I grew up closer to her family naturally, but also feeling guilty about it because it was clear that my dad wanted to be informed of things that I would forget to inform him about, and I thought it was my fault that everyone didn’t feel equally appreciated. (In retrospect, that is far too much emotional juggling to expect a child to handle deftly! When most kids were outright telling their parents and siblings “I hate you” I was feeling guilty because I managed to make someone feel I didn’t love them enough in some completely accidental, normal careless kid way.)

      And now that I’m older, he’ll occasionally make remarks about how he wishes we talked more or something, as will my grandparents, but the thing is, HE NEVER CALLS ME. Like ever. And when I lived nearby, he would never invite me over. I had to invite myself over, and then I’d show up and he’d say he wished I would visit more often. So I have to call him, and my paternal grandmother and everyone on that side of the family, if I ever want to talk to them. And with it being a completely one-sided thing, I somehow feel shy about it and like I might be bothering people even if I know that they are in reality probably currently annoyed with me for not calling enough. I literally get shy with my dad and grandma more than I do with almost anyone! I always enjoy talking to him, but the calling is just nerve wracking. I will call tomorrow of course and simultaneously feel like I might be interrupting something more important or bothering him and ashamed because I’ve hurt his feelings by not having called in a long time.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Oh hey I think you might be me, right down to the (probably unintentional but still hurtful) guilt tripping! I know I gotta call my dad this afternoon, but he’s the same way. We live a few hours away from each other–too far for a day trip but a very easy overnight or weekend visit. He rarely calls, and usually it’s only when he absolutely NEEDS to talk to me about something, and he NEVER invites us down. Ever. When other family members or friends invite us to that area I’ll occasionally call if we have time and stop for a visit for a couple hours, but every time we see each other I have to initiate it.

        I get a lot of my social awkwardness from him. I’m 100% positive he’s not maliciously trying to push me out of his life (I’m not sure I can say the same about his wife…) and he’s probably not calling/inviting me over because of guilt. He sees and talks to my brother more often but they live about an hour from each other rather than the 4 hours between us. It’s definitely something we need to have a conversation about, but one we’d be better having face-to-face (we’re both terrible on the phone. We can relay information fine enough but back and forth conversations are weird as hell. There are all of two people I can converse like that with on the phone and neither are my parents.)

        I don’t want to have a shitty relationship with my dad, but it’s shaking out that way :/

        1. INTP*

          Yeah, I got a lot of social weirdness from my dad too which compounds the issue. In other relationships I really don’t like being an initiator, it’s a defense mechanism of sorts, so I’m never in a relationship or friendship where the other person is less invested than me. And that’s what he does to me, so it’s hard for me to initiate things even in a situation where it’s two-sided, let alone completely one-sided and the other person is my dad. I don’t know if he is afraid of rejection or doesn’t want me to feel smothered or just doesn’t think to or what.

          He’s so extreme about it that when I was going through a rough time and my dad wanted me to go live with him, and I told my mom and she came back with a lie about how she talked to my dad and he decided he didn’t want me to live there after all, she completely got away with it because my dad never even initiated a follow-up conversation on the topic when I stopped bringing it up. I mentioned it at some point when I was an adult and found out that conversation had never taken place. (I know my dad could be lying too, but my mom has a solid history of lying about potentially upsetting situations, even if she knows I’ll find out eventually anyways, I guess because she doesn’t want to deal with my reactions. Obviously there are issues on both sides.)

    7. Natalie*

      I’m not sure you can reasonably expect him to just figure it out. Do you actually want him to know? Then sole version of the words “we aren’t close because I don’t like how you treat me” needs to hit his ears.

      Happy ending, of sorts, for my own mother – after about 6 years of serious boundary enforcing, mostly involving not talking to her at all, she is very well behaved around me. Nothing can make up for the lack of closeness we could have built in my childhood, but we have something nice and I appreciate it.

    8. QualityControlFreak*

      Oh yeah. Parent/child relationships are complicated and hard to get “right.” (By which I mean really working for all parties.) My dad and I butted heads from the time I was old enough to talk until I moved out at 18. Then we did it over the phone. My poor spouse married into a whole sh*tstorm of dysfunction. I actually had to almost die for the madness to end (or rather, die down to a dull roar). It’s manageable now but we’re not exactly looking forward to going over there today. :|

      With my own son, I think for the most part we have a good relationship. He will be 18 this year. He would say I have trouble letting go, and there’s some truth in that. But I think he knows we both want the same thing; for him to be happy and successful on his own terms. And he is making excellent progress in positioning himself well to go in the direction of his choice, so I have little to add there. (I’m his mother, not his father but as I said up front, these things are complicated.)

      Happy Father’s Day, everyone. We might not be dads but most of us have one.

    9. Elkay*

      Dealing with my Dad is ok, it’s dealing with my brother that causes the issues. I wish my brother could be a little kinder to my Dad. DH texted his dad but he’s not sure he still has the right number because his parents change cell phone numbers and don’t bother to tell him.

  12. Amber Rose*

    The expansion for my game came out today, but I promised I would attempt once again to murder the tree in our backyard (which is thriving after my last attempt at murder, out of spite i’m sure) and practice my sword work because it’s finally nice enough weather to do so.

    Life is hard. :P

    But seriously, anyone know how to kill a tree? My backyard is like, four foot square and the stupid tree takes up half that. I cut it down to stubs and it grew like mad.

    1. danr*

      It’s too late for the easiest solution: girdling the tree. You remove all of the bark, down to bare wood, all around the tree, in a swath about 4 inches around.
      Just keep breaking off the stubs as they grow, and eventually the root will die.

    2. TootsNYC*

      You can speed up the death of the stump by doing things like boring long holes in it and pouring in stuff that speeds the decay (there’s a stump remover chemical; other places suggest stuff like a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen, maybe blood meal, and placing a tarp to hold in moisture, and keeping it wet).

      FamilyHandyman’s website has a how-to.

      And the About . com website has one in the landscaping forum.

      And there’s a product called Stump Out that uses fire (eek!)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        We did this here. We had a pine tree that went up at least 60 feet. They flush cut the stump and there were roots every where. We took drills and drilled holes all over the place- in the stump and all exposed roots. Water collected in those holes and encouraged rotting. It took over a decade for it to totally disappear. We did not pour any chemicals into the holes.

    3. we can dance if we want to*

      Other than the shoots is there just one main trunk? If so, and you have a saw, doing a cut straight across and through then leaving the cut piece on the base seems to work really well. If not….cut cut then cut again and eventually it will stop (and in the mean time you can pretend you’re fighting the Hydra!)

    4. reader*

      I didn’t use any chemicals in my garden with the notable exception of Brush-B-Gone. Any time I had a nuisance tree of any size I employed it liberally. What I like about it is that you only apply it where you need it. Cut the tree, bruise the heck out of the surface of the stump and, using a disposable brush or foam pad, paint all surfaces liberally. If it rains in the next day or so, or if the stump shows any signs of life, reapply. The stuff killed things which I had battled for years!

  13. LizB*

    I’m moving in with my boyfriend in a few weeks, and I’m super excited but also starting to freak out. This is the first time I’ve lived with a romantic partner, and while I’m sure I’m going to like living with him a lot better than I’ve liked living with random housemates, I’m worried there may be some unexpected downside I haven’t thought of that’ll come back to bite me. Also, I haaaate the process of moving, so I’m not looking forward to dealing with that whole rigamarole, even though it means I won’t have to move again for (hopefully) quite a while. Any advice, awesome commenters, either on the living-with-a-significant-other side or the getting-your-apartment-packed-without-wanting-to-cry side?

    1. Amber Rose*

      If possible, if you aren’t already, consider having your own room for the first little while. Moving in with my husband back in the day was waaaaaay better than living with roommates, but I feel the adjustment period was easier because I had my own space.

      Also discuss where stuff goes before you get there, like pots/pans and bathroom things. And if you can move stuff over ahead of time, it makes moving day slightly less depressing, since there are less boxes.

      1. LizB*

        That’s an interesting idea! It’s a two-bedroom apartment, so we’ll definitely be able to have some private spaces. And we’re planning to get the keys a few days before we actually move in, so I’ll try to have some stuff ready to move in then. Thanks for the tips!

      2. puddin*

        THIS! After 11 years we still have his and hers spaces. I know I can do anything in my space and he can do anything in his (decor and cleaning wise) without having to check with each other. That is very helpful for us.

        Now, there are times to come together too – that is the whole point of this right?

        For this, I suggest replacing a few things together. For example, both of you go shopping together online or in RL and buy one set of sheets or a blanket together. This way you can introduce joint property and literally move into the ‘this is ours’ way of thinking. You have your plates, he has his chair etc and with all this merging I think having some intimate items where you have both agreed to purchase them is a sound investment.

      3. Gene*

        I’m convinced the ideal living arrangement for a couple is a ranch-style triplex with lockable, connecting doors. Shared unit in the middle, private units on each end.

    2. OfficePrincess*

      Try to set up a space for each of you, even if it’s just a corner of a room. Having your own place to go chill for a few minutes is immensely helpful for adjusting to having a partner around all the time. Keep an open line of communication about how you plan to divide bills, chores, etc. It’s not a romantic conversation to have, but not making assumptions will prevent a ton of arguments.

      1. LizB*

        Having separate spaces is a really good idea, and we should have enough room for that. We’re definitely already having conversations about logistics like bills and chores, and I’m sure we’ll keep talking about it over the next few months. Thanks for the advice!

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I will tell you what I’ve told everyone I know who’s moved in– if you weren’t freaking out, I’d worry about you. :) Freaking out means you get why this is a big deal and you’re checking in with yourself, so just know that’s perfectly ok.

      Important: ask for alone time if you need it. Even if you need the whole house to yourself. Everything else you will figure out. Try to decide what’s really important to you so you can pick your battles accordingly. Remember to ask for what you want/need– don’t assume he’ll know. “Honey, would you please take out the trash?” is a lot easier and smoother than, “Sigh… OMG, the trash can is SO FULL,” or doing it yourself while passive-aggressively harrumphing.

      I was lucky. I had always lived alone and I loved it, so I was very set in my ways. My boyfriend and I moved in together right away (it was supposed to be temporary– long story– but he ended up staying) and the sun shone out of his ass at that stage, so our adjustment was easy. By the time the bloom was off the rose, we moved from a studio apartment to a 1-bedroom. We are still in love.

      As for packing? Set a timer for 20 minutes, pack, then stop. Wait a bit, then do another 20 minutes. You’ll get there!

      1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Oh gosh, yes. Talk about dividing your chores up now, and don’t fall into the (extremely easy and tempting!) trap of “If he REALLY loved me, he’d [take out the trash/scoop the cat box/insert disgusting chore here] without needing me to nag him!” Do an end run around this stuff by talking, early and often, about chore expectations and frequencies. If one of you is a “the house must be spotless” type and the other is “lovable slob,” you’re going to have a period of adjustment. Pick your battles. Don’t be passive-aggressive about it. Don’t huff and puff about chores when you haven’t spoken up and asked the other person to do it.

        We split very evenly in my house–I do all the cooking and my husband washes all the dishes. I clean the kitchen and the upstairs bathroom, he does all the floors in the house (three times a week!) and the downstairs bathroom. We de-clutter together, split laundry about evenly, and trade off on outdoor chores. I’m very lucky, but we talked a lot about what chores we didn’t mind/hated doing, and why, and I still get irritated over stuff all the time. (Why must you leave your boots in a heap in front of the door?) He gets irritated with me. (Must I leave EVERY drawer open after using it? [yes])

        Take it easy and talk about stuff.

        1. LizB*

          Your chore division sounds pretty great to me. I’m still trying to get my boyfriend to really sit down and hash this out — he’s naturally very neat & organized, and I’m more of a lovable slob, so I think he really doesn’t get that if our rule for cleaning is “just do it when you think it needs to be done,” he’s going to be the one cleaning 99% of the things! I need defined tasks, I need schedules, I might need a chart with gold stars for things I especially hate. Right now we’ve agreed that I’ll do cooking (which I love) and he’ll do dishes, but that’s as far as we’ve gotten; I’ve tried to put myself in charge of laundry, but he’s picky about how his clothes get folded, so further discussions are going to be needed on that topic. Other than that, it’s still up in the air. I’ll have to sit him down this week and get some stuff figured out. Thanks for the advice!

          1. reader*

            Be careful about categorically saying, “I’ll do this, you’ll do that.” The first time I moved in with a partner they said they hated doing dishes so I said I’d do the dishes. I figured that meant I would do the dishes the vast majority of the time, not that they would never, in 6 years, wash a dish even if I’d been deathly ill or out of town for a week … So, yeah. Leave some wiggle room.

      2. LizB*

        I’m glad I’m not alone in freaking out! :) I just really want this to work well, because I love him and would hate to ruin the relationship by being a slob (he’s actually far neater than I am) or whatever. I’m very much a “use your words” type of person, and hate passive-aggressive notes or comments with a burning passion (bad past roommate experiences!), so I’ll definitely keep that advice in mind. As for packing, are you by any chance a reader of Un-F*** Your Habitat? That’s basically the system they suggest, and one I’m thinking will work well for me. I get burnt out if I try to do too much at once, but 20 minutes then a break is doable. Thank you for the advice and encouragement!

    4. Anx*

      I know just last week I posted with a pretty big dysfunctional part of my relationship, but overall we’ve lived together for the past 4 years happily.

      One thing that’s tough for us is we have different sleep patterns. We also shared a twin for a long time, which was rough in the summer. Living together was much different than sleeping over. When I slept over, I could easily fall into his sleep pattern (one I envied), but when we moved in together the novelty was gone and I was back to my old habits (I think I have a sleep disorder, though).

      Check out your state’s laws on cohabitation. I found out it was illegal at tax time, which ended up being a pretty expensive lesson. It’s not criminal of course, but it could put you in some weird spots if you’re unaware.

      By far the hardest part of living with someone when you’re not married, is that it’s going to make a break up a much bigger deal. I think I underestimated this when I first moved in. I don’t think it’s actually kept us together in a situation we don’t really want to be in, but there is no taking a break or breaking up without moving.

      If you can afford to go on dates, don’t forget to do it. It seriously helps.

      Some people really don’t pick up on housework things. I don’t think my partner did a lot of housework growing up and thus there are huge gaps in his knowledge. I was pretty surprised because he’s not at all the coddled or spoiled type. My partner never thinks to do stuff like clear the dryer vents, weed, check the hot water tank settings, winterize the house, etc. So I do a lot of the that kind of stuff while he does more of the dishes, laundry, etc. It’s not a perfect system, though.

      I think this is directly related to another important thing to consider: what is home to you? I’m underemployed. He’s a PhD student. I wanted to build a home together and actually like it, because I was stuck here a lot. It was important to me to feel a little bit proud of my home because I didn’t have a lot else going for me when I was in the depths of unemployment. He wanted more of a place to keep his stuff and to sleep. He had to learn to respect our home more and I had to learn to respect how much he had on his plate. He had to learn that for me, an organized home is the foundation to getting my work done, getting dressed, showered, etc. as I have a big mental block to working in a cluttered space. I had to understand that it just wasn’t as important to him and that if he could function fine in disarray, he should take advantage of that ability to focus on things with external consequences, etc.

      I was moving from living in my mom’s house. He was moving from a house he rented with 5 other grad students.

      When you feel like you’re at odds, try focusing or incorporating stuff you share in common or try to bring the other person into it a bit. I hate posters taped up, he resented not showcasing his concert posters. We framed a few and now we’re both happy.

      I don’t think differences in aesthetic style can be as much as a conflict as your overall philosophies on how much stuff you want in your house, whether or not decorations matter, etc.

      1. LizB*

        Thank you for all the advice! Definitely some great things to consider. (I checked, and cohabitation is perfectly legal in my state — I hadn’t realized any states still banned it!)

        1. Natalie*

          Lawrence v Texas probably made those laws unconstitutional, but no one is really enforcing them so it hasn’t come up in court yet.

    5. misspiggy*

      Unfuck Your Habitat’s advice on tidying might be useful for packing – don’t ‘marathon’, and have plenty of short breaks after fixed intervals. Also, leave way more time than you think you need for cleaning after everything is packed.

      Living with a partner can mean that you have to be clear with yourselves and each other on needs, wants, and preferences. Each gets their needs met as far as humanly possible; each gets similar amount of compromise from the other on wants; and each gets their preferences when these don’t conflict with the other’s needs or wants. Usually this means asking the other nicely to explain why they want whatever it is, or why they habitually do something, and never assuming there is One True Law of Housekeeping.

      My husband will leave things on every floor and surface. I started off assuming he expected me to pick it all up, and got frustrated. But it turns out his visual memory is so poor that if he wants to use something again he puts it where he can see it. When he’s stressed he can’t face finding a place for new stuff. I now deal with this by putting away what I can and reminding him where everything is, and every few days getting him to do a whirl round and pick stuff up. I help him choose where stuff goes so he doesn’t find it overwhelming.

      On my side, I can’t bear getting potentially dirty water on my hands and feet in the kitchen. He initially thought I was being lazy when I’d refuse to take dripping things to the bin, or clean out the sink drain. But I’ve got better at explaining how much I hate it, and he does more of it quite happily.

      1. LizB*

        I love UfYH, and I’ll definitely be following their packing advice! Thank you for the advice, and the example of how to negotiate the little differences.

    6. stellanor*

      The hardest adjustment for me was actually going from living alone to living with someone else — it seriously took me nearly a year to stop getting frustrated that everything was not exactly where I left it with the exact same amount left. (How dare my boyfriend drink the milk, use the tape, and move the remote!)

      Re: packing… You need more boxes than you think, and also AUDIOBOOKS. Audiobooks are the only way I survived my move.

      1. Dan*

        For me, it was “how dare that person clean up after me.” So what if I can look at dishes in the sink for extended periods of time.

        1. QualityControlFreak*

          This is really it, isn’t it? You’ve got to calibrate your tolerances. My spouse shares your tolerance for staring at soiled dinnerware. I don’t. But in our case the neat freak is out of the house 12 hrs/day. So barring splitting up I have two choices; do the chore myself, or calibrate my tolerance in this area. There are dirty dishes in my sink as I type.

          1. Dan*

            Yup. I’m also a fan of splitting chores based on how important they are to the respective parties. My ex was a neat freak, and my idea of “clean” wasn’t enough for her. So she got to clean to her standards. I am a foodie, and eating well is important to me. So I did the grocery shopping and cooking. I considered that an appropriate and fair way to split chores.

            1. QualityControlFreak*

              I’ve been married over 30 years so you and I are seeing this from very different perspectives, but our division of chores is similar to what you describe, and similarly falls along the lines of what is important/a priority for each of us and our relative skills in the areas we are responsible for.

              I’ve just found that in living with another human being, calibrating your tolerances is key. For us it didn’t happen quietly or overnight, or without discussion and negotiation. But it had to happen.

            2. stellanor*

              We split chores based on level of hatred. I loathe doing dishes and taking out garbage so my SO does those. He dislikes doing laundry and grocery shopping so I do those.

      2. LizB*

        I’m coming from two years of living with roommates I don’t totally get along with (particularly egregious examples include sending passive-aggressive emails instead of walking ten feet to my room to talk with me and loaning my stuff out to other people for months at a time), so living with another person won’t be too big an adjustment. Good call on the audiobooks while packing! I’ll have to round some up. Thank you for your advice!

    7. Dan*

      Make sure you have an out if you need it (I’m talking moving out). You don’t want to get stuck in a crappy relationship because you can’t afford it on your own.

      Upstream, there’s some commentary about “moving too fast.” As a recently divorced guy, I’ve decided that I’m not moving in with someone (ie truly moving out and giving up my lease, or adding them to mine) until we’ve been together for about 18 months give or take.

      1. LizB*

        Yep, I have a few friends who could serve as housing backup plans just in case. We’ve been dating for almost two and a half years and are both still very happy, so I don’t think a breakup is imminent. Thank you for the advice, though! It’s always good to plan for worst-case scenarios.

        1. Natalie*

          Continue to have an out. I don’t mean to rain on your parade, but like Dan my own experiences with cohabiting have made me wary of it for my next relationship.

          Hurdles, including the process of dissolving a household, can make it easy to stay together too long. So IMO you should both keep your own emergency savings, jobs, etc. When my ex and I finally split up i felt like I was consigning him to homelessness, which made it hard to go through with since we were still pretty good friends but our relationship was dead.

          1. fposte*

            I think that’s where the stats that living together before marriage makes a marriage slightly *more* likely to fail come from. It’s because moving out is this huge hard thing to do and to talk about, so people duck it and end up married even when it isn’t right.

            In a threadmerge, you need to KonMari a relationship! If the person doesn’t spark joy, don’t keep it just because it’s been there for a while.

            1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

              I’ve also heard that part of that “a body at rest tends to stay at rest” when it comes to cohabitating leading to failed marriages actually begins quite early, with people moving in (not marrying) for the wrong reasons–say, one person’s lease is up, or they have a devil roommate, or whatever, and it’s just hey, I like you, let’s move in, what could go wrong, etc., and then you’re started down the path of This Is So Comfortable And Easy, and even when the relationship should have died a natural death, people are stuck in their ways.

    8. Sunday*

      Getting your apt packed:
      Ask friends to come help pack, in exchange for meals/drinks/whatever. Have boxes on hand when they arrive, and labels and a plan. Eg: Monday night we box the “instant kitchen” (sauce pan, skillet, 2 plates, 2 bowls, can opener, flatware and a serving spoon and a knife, and 2 drinking glasses) & “instant bedroom/bathroom” (one set of sheets, pillows, towels, toilet paper (!!), shower curtain, soap/shampoo); Tuesday night we box the books, Wednesday night we box the linens, Thursday night we box the stuff hanging on the walls, Friday night we box the clothes, Saturday day we start moving. It took me more like two weeks last time I boxed up an apt to move, but having friends help made a world of difference. Feeding them also helped clean out the pantry. Took the last day off to make sure we were done, and once done returned to clean the place to get my security deposit back.
      Just remember that you have to be able to lift the boxes, so don’t get giant ones unless you are filling them with pillows.

      Also, take photos of the new place before you move in, and ask for any additional prep work you need before your stuff goes in. Those photos will serve you well when you’re moving out.

      Good luck!

      1. LizB*

        I like your breakdown of what things to pack when; I’ll definitely keep that in mind! And yeah, not packing boxes too heavy is always my downfall. This time I’m packing my books in lots of small boxes instead of a few medium ones, and other heavy objects are going to go either into small boxes with a few light things or into a rolling suitcase.

  14. Blue Anne*

    Social drama advice please?

    My husband and I live in a city and are getting a dog that is going to be very large when fully grown. Yes, I have had large dogs before, we’re both responsible pet owners, we know what we’re getting into with this breed and are ready for it. (It’s actually really well suited to city life despite the size – dogue de bordeaux, surprisingly quiet, lazy, and laid back.) Unfortunately a close friend took it upon herself to grill us in a pretty insulting “you kids don’t know what you’re getting into” way, even mentioning how much she hates it when people get pets they won’t be able to take care of. We’ve known her for years and, in fact, her cat stays with us when she’s travelling, so she should know we’re responsible pet owners! Ugh.

    The thing is, she’s a generally kind of abrasive but well-meaning person, so I wasn’t too surprised. She was out of line but I was mad for about five minutes because, eh, whatever. That’s her. She and my husband really got into it, though, and now she has unfriended us both on facebook, which is… actually pretty major.

    This feels like such petty high school drama but I have no idea how to handle it. How do you clear the air after something like this? I’m pretty bummed.

    Silver lining:
    We visited the breeder today to pick out our puppy. 10 weeks old and it’s already about the size and weight of a fully grown bulldog. Going to be MASSIVE and I am so excited! The breeder is driving her over on Tuesday. Squeeeee! SO WRINKLY

    1. Graciosa*

      Let me see if I’ve got this right.

      Your “friend” challenged your decisions, insulted you, and gave you a condescending lecture. Then she unfriended you.

      Your question is how to clear the air?

      Well, that’s a little tricky. You see, normally the person who behaved badly and caused offense apologizes. In this case, that seems like it should be her – unless you want to apologize for making your own decisions without consulting her or being more responsible than she claims when she’s being rude? Personally, I wouldn’t. I’m not sure why you or your husband would care to live down to her standards, but you can certainly apologize if you wish to.

      Congratulations on the new puppy. I hope that the new addition to your family brings so much joy to your life that you stop noticing the absence of your former “friend.”

      1. Ruffingit*

        Totally agreed! This woman is not a friend. Be glad she did the work for you of ending it. Saved you an African violet. Move on and enjoy your new puppy. And when she goes out of town next time and suddenly wants to be friends again so someone will watch the cat, don’t bother answering the phone.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Yeah… I mean, it’s hard because honestly, she *is* a friend. She’s been there for us through a lot and we’re really close with her. But… yeah, I guess at the very least, I should recognize that the onus is really on her to fix this, not me. Sigh. :(

          Super excited for the puppy though!

            1. Windchime*

              Yeah, I’m wondering if her real objection is that she didn’t want to leave her cat at a house where there is a great big puppy. If so, that’s a pretty selfish motivation for her.

              I’d leave it be. You guys are adults and have obviously given this a lot of thought. Congratulations on the new puppy!

              1. Blue Anne*

                Yeah, I wondered about that two for a couple of minutes, but she has lots of friends who are happy to help with her cat (who is awesome and just wants to be petted).

      2. TootsNYC*

        Enjoy the peace.

        Let her set the pace.

        Also–she’s the one who unfriended; she can refriend.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Your friend sounds like she is easily irritated. My guess is that is the dog argument had not come up, then it would have been something else.

      I had a friend that would take digs every so often. Like you, I figured I would just ignore it. Then one day it blew up. We patched it and a few years later the same deal. We patched it. After the third blow up it became apparent that we had different worldviews and different value systems. The relationship faded.

      The one thing that I appreciated with my husband is that he reduced the numbers of times I had to go see these folks. He and the husband in the couple would do stuff from time to time and that was fine with me.

      1. Nicole*

        You know what I don’t understand about situations like that? Why someone feels the need to force their opinions on someone else. Who cares what someone chooses to do if it’s not hurting anyone? My family and friends do things that I wouldn’t necessarily do myself but I don’t feel the need to “correct” them. I keep my opinion to myself unless asked. Why is that so difficult for so many people to do?

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Savior complex? They can’t save Very Important Person in their lives so they try to save everyone else. The fact that the targeted person does not want to be “rescued” has no meaning to them.

          They grew up with or are currently surrounded by very negative people. The reply to anything is to “quick, I must think of something negative to say! It will make me seem wise/savvy to the ways of the world.”

          It could be exhaustion. Tired people, especially those lacking a healthy diet, can really be downers.

          I am sure there are other reasons. My guess would be that it is not one singular reason but several piled on top of each other.

        2. stellanor*

          I do sometimes feel the need to intercede on people with pet things because they’re on the road to harming an animal. No passive aggressive digs, though, just a lot of “Oh, did you know X thing?” “Have you tried Y?” and “I don’t think that’s a great idea…”

          1. Nicole*

            Yes, in that case since harm might come to a living thing, I can understand that. Plus you sound like you do it in a respectful and non-attacking way which I can support. But when people are just rude and condescending I can’t help but wonder what they hope to get out of such an exchange.

        3. Ruffingit*

          I agree, but it seems so few people share this view. I have a family member (“Jon”) who does this – passes judgment on everyone’s life. I’m estranged from this person for this reason among others. With Jon, I think it was a few things. One was that he seemed to feel as though the people in question, myself included, needed his help. He often treated me as though I was a naive child who just fell off the turnip truck. Meanwhile, truth is that I am quite worldly, having traveled extensively, been formally educated and had a lot of just general life experience. Kind of hard to get near 40 years old and not have that unless you’re one of the Duggar children.

          The second reason for Jon was that he felt that when people made mistakes financially or otherwise, they would come to him to clean them up since he had money. Well, no. I told him that if that indeed did happen, he could refuse and that was that. He did not have the right to tell people how to live their lives simply because they MIGHT come to him to clean up the mess. Adults are allowed to do what they wish and if he didn’t want to help someone because he didn’t agree with their choices, no problem. Say no. But that is all the power he got to have in someone else’s life and I think he had a hard time understanding that.

  15. Olive K*

    Any parents of kids with social anxiety on here? Or anyone with social anxiety up for giving any advice?

    My 14 year old daughter got severely depressed this winter and lost a lot of weight. I think a lot of this was brought on due to having severe social anxiety. She is now in therapy and on lexapro and has gained most of the weight back and is doing much better. I didn’t realize the extent of her anxiety until this whole terrible winter, but want to continue to help her the best I can.

    She is going to HS in the fall – a 2300 student school, very high pressure, #1 in the state, public high school. A lot of “haves” in our town (we are not, but are comfortable). How can I help her make this transition? I kind of want to put her into some small nurturing private HS that won’t be so overwhelming, but then wonder if staying with the few friends she does have might be better.

    I actually don’t even know what my question is! I just have always been so impressed with all the advice on this board that I was thinking there might be someone who has had a child like this – or was a teen like this – that might have some knowledge to share.

    1. katamia*

      I’m glad she’s doing better. Can you talk to her and see if you can get more specific information about things that trigger her anxiety and things that you could do to make the transition easier either way?

      It’s really hard to say because some kids really do thrive on pressure, even ones with depression. I did (and actually, one of the things that originally triggered my depression was going from a very rigorous high school to a much less rigorous college where there was very little pressure). I don’t know how well your daughter deals with pressure, but talk to her and see how she feels about attending this big school. It might also be helpful to schedule a few joint sessions with your daughter and her therapist to get a better sense of where she is now, if your daughter is willing.

      1. katamia*

        Yeah, so I guess what I’m saying is look at your daughter in particular rather than what is generally true for people/teens with social anxiety and depression because some people match up really well with the typical description/symptoms of the illness, while for other people what normally works for most people with anxiety and depression might not work at all.

        1. Blue Anne*

          Amen to that. I was the opposite – when I was taken out of the high-pressure environment, my comfort level and school performance shot up. It depends so much on the person, regardless of having the same type of issue.

    2. Blue Anne*

      Disclaimer: I have general anxiety disorder (EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME FOREVER as I explain it to my friends!) rather than social anxiety, but around high school age a lot more it was centered on social stuff.

      It’s awesome that you’ve recognized it and are supporting her with therapy and medication. Therapy in particular can be hugely helpful in the long run. I think for me, in terms of support from my parents, what would have been wonderful as a teenager would have been not having to try to explain why certain irrational things made me really nervous. I really, really didn’t want to talk to people on the phone, or go to a salon for a haircut, for instance, and those are really hard and stressful things to have to try to justify when you’re already feeling panicky and upset. My parents wanted to help but didn’t really “get it” so it was very difficult. If you can give your daughter the space to just not deal with certain things unless it’s absolutely necessary, that might make a big difference.

      In terms of schools… maybe talk to her and see if she has a strong preference, and/or try the public school first? It’s okay to switch. Honestly, it sounds so similar to where I grew up that I would almost ask where you are, except that high school is bigger. My parents did end up taking me out of the high-pressure, #1 in the state, 1,100 student public high school and put me into a much smaller, artsy private school where there was still the expectation of high achievement but a lot more room for individual care (teachers knew that if I excused myself it was due to panic attack starting and I would pick up homework later, etc.) That worked out really well for me, but I went because my parents asked me and I expressed a preference after trying the public school. I transferred halfway through sophomore year, it can work out okay.

      1. stellanor*



        I agree that daughter is old enough to choose where she goes to school, and that it is probably okay to switch midstream if she goes one place and decides she doesn’t like it.

      2. Lindsay J*

        This. Talk to her about the schools.

        I didn’t have social anxiety yet (but I think my experiences at that age certainly affected it) but I certainly had a terrible time socially in middle school and was heavily bullied.

        I applied to (and was accepted to) a prestigious private high school in the area.

        My parents sat me down and talked to me and explained the trade-offs between going to the private school and going to the public school (including the fact that if they paid for the tuition for the private school they would not be able to afford to help me with my college tuition.)

        I chose to go to the public school, mostly because I had been accepted into the marching band. And I made some of my best friends I have in my life in marching band over the four years.

        Honestly, high school was a lot easier for me socially than middle school. People had matured some, which I guess was part of it. But my high school was pretty big (my graduating class was 600, my little brother’s who graduated three years later than I did was 900). And between AP classes and other different schooling tracks, and how involved people got into sports and after school programs, etc, everyone developed their own little social group.

        I’m sure I would have been happy in the fancy private school, too. Maybe even happier. But I appreciated being given the “out” to possibly get away from the bad environment if I wanted it. And I appreciated being given the option to make my own decision about it.

    3. Graciosa*

      Regarding the high school situation, have you asked her what she wants? Explain the choices to her (small nurturing versus larger environment with known friends) and let her make the decision.

      Neither is a life-ruining choice, and at fourteen she’s old enough to have an opinion. I would defer to it – she’s the one who will have to live with the results.

      Part of my reasoning is that there are elements of anxiety tied to not feeling in control of the triggering situation. Giving her clear control over her choice of environment may help minimize that feeling.

      Helping her to learn to manage this herself will be more effective in the long run than trying to shield her.

      Good luck.

      1. VintageLydia USA*

        Yes, this. Even teenagers without anxiety issues have a lot of stress because they are starting to gain a ton of responsibilities but still not have a ton of control over them and very few privileges. Throw in mental health issues and it’s even worse. Give her a bit of agency and let her make the choice and make sure that she knows her choice isn’t final. If she chooses one school and she decides she hates it, she can always change her mind.

    4. LisaLee*

      Your daughter sounds very much like me in HS (although I tend more towards everything-anxiety with a strong emphasis on the social).

      This may be an unorthodox opinion, but I don’t really think the size of the high school particularly matters. She might get more one-on-one attention at a small high school, but if she doesn’t like her teachers or feels put under a microscope that could be counterproductive. My high school had 2500 kids and I kind of relished the anonymity, honestly. I would also weigh heavily the benefits of having friends and familiar faces around. This is definitely a personal thing though, so having a frank talk with your daughter about it is probably best.

      Two things that really helped me were being able to take a low-key elective class (I liked art, but you daughter might like gym or music or whatever) and dual-enrollment. I took a lot of AP classes and I did enjoy those a lot, but getting to spend a period a day doing something no-pressure like an art class was great for me. The dual-enrollment thing sounds strange and might not be an option until later (if you haven’t heard of it, it’s where a student takes a class or two at a local college instead of a high school class) but it really gave me a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that I would be able to succeed in HS and it made the transition to college much easier since I had some experience. In retrospect, I was just taking Creative Writing 101 at a not-great college, so it wasn’t challenging at all, but the confidence benefits for me were really worth it.

      I also think it would have helped if my parents had nicely forced me to have some more social interaction. I’m still very bad at proactively making plans with people, and I think if my mom had said once in awhile, “Let’s have Alice and Sarah over on Saturday and go to a movie, I’ll call their parents” it would have helped a lot. God knows I never took the initiative myself, even though I really needed the socializing.

      1. matcha123*

        I am the same.
        One thing I loved about my 2000+ student high school was that there was no one group that dominated things. I just kind of existed in high school, but when the “smart kids,” “rich kids” and “jocks” are all essentially the same, there’s less pressure to have A Group.

      2. TootsNYC*

        Yeah, another thing about a larger school: there are more people to choose from when you’re picking friends.

        Also, having grown up in a small school (though, very small; 350 kids, about), the cliques have far greater weight.

    5. we can dance if we want to*

      I’m going to throw another vote into the ‘ask her’ hat :)
      Mine was a small school, but already knowing people there made all the difference in the world. Also having an elective that I really enjoyed to look forward to – I flippantly say that’s what kept me sane in high school, but it’s true too.

    6. Anonymous for this*

      I’ve been the kid in this situation. Had friends like this, too. The small nurturing private HS would have been a great idea for me, but look for what works for your daughter in particular.

      I think one thing that a lot of kids with anxiety disorders or mental health issues share is a lack of control over our own situations. It could be very helpful to let your daughter make her own decisions about which school she goes to. Having some kind of agency makes a huge difference. Even if it turns out that the school she chose wasn’t the best one for her and she transfers, she’ll have learned that she can use her own judgment and take care of herself.

      1. Felicia*

        I think this is the most important part – she gets to choose. And I think that matters more than which highschool she goes to because I know a lot of my anxiety involves feeling like I have no control, so I think it’s important that she has control over this. Also she knows her own brain more than you do and the big high school may be better for her anxiety – I know it was for mine in a very similar situation. It’s because when environments are small i hate the feeling that everyone knows everyone (because of course my brain would tell me they’re all judging me), and also i had far less options for friends. If i didn’t want to/couldnt be friends friends with the 100 people i had available , then there was no other choice. So for me the option for being anonymous and having 2000 people who I could theoretically interact with took the pressure off. It’s kind of like how even in people without social anxiety, some people find a small town where everyone knows everyone and you get a lot of individual attention to be comforting, but I would find that suffocating. So just ask her and take her lead.

    7. Natalie*

      I agree you should letter her pick, and also emphasize that it’s okay for her to switch if she picks the wrong one. I have terrible “paradox of choice” in my anxiety, and at 14 probably would have assumed I was stuck *forever* with my pick.

    8. TootsNYC*

      Find her social outlets that have NOTHING to do with school.

      I was picked on as a grade schooler and middle schooler. So my mom went to try to find me a place to get together with kids in some sort of different makeup that wasn’t just like school. It worked, mostly.

      I lived in a small town, so any clubs I joined would have the same kids in them. But there were different ages in my 4-H club, and I also ended up in a different sort of relationship.

      I went to Girl Scouts, and that was sort of OK, until in 6th or 7th grade, the bullying kids started being frankly rude to the leaders, plus they definitely made me feel unwelcome (though bcs of the higher concentration of leaders, they couldn’t be as mean as they were at school), and I came home to announce I was quitting. Fortunately, my mom supported me–there’s a lesson for you: Follow her lead.

      So mom found me 4-H. I refused to go, bcs it was at the home of one of the cool kids. She made me go–sheer force of will: “You have to try one bite” kind of thing. We decoupaged a plaque at my first meeting, and I was hooked–something to actually *do*! Not just sitting around talking, the way G.S.’s had been in that troupe.

      And, interestingly–that “cool girl” and I had a different relationship in 4H club. She had to see me (and I had to see her) as a person. She wasn’t buffered or supported by all her peers making fun of me. There were grownups and kids of many other ages who simply expected her to treat me pleasantly. So she did.
      We were much friendlier to one another at school after that. She stopped being one of the people who would make fun of me. We weren’t at all friends, just acquaintances. But pleasant acquaintances.

      So see if you can find something like that. A club that focuses on doing things actively, that has different ages (she might find her anxiety is lessened if she’s interacting w/ younger or older kids), and that has enough grownups that any snarkiness or casual rudeness will not find fertilization or ground for growth.

      Best of luck to her, and to you.

      1. Olive K*

        Thank you all for the comments. I really appreciate it! I will definitely let her start off at the local public HS and see how it goes. Though I ‘ll be checking out some private schools just to have in the waiting if need be.

  16. Pennalynn Lott*

    My mom got her hip replaced Wednesday and I just brought her home yesterday. In just over 24 hours, I have confirmed — conclusively — that I made the right decision to never have children. :-) This permanently-on-call stuff is for the birds! So is me going to bed a couple hours after her, then getting up an hour before her, while she gets to take naps all day, and I’m cooking, cleaning, organizing, care-taking, and running errands while she’s snoozing or surfing the internet. This is going to be a looooong six weeks!

    1. Rebecca*

      My Dad had his hip replaced a few years ago. He did great! But – the patient has to listen to the doctor, do what they say, when they say to do it, etc. As much as he hated using the walker, and then a cane, he did it. And he went to therapy and walked and exercised on his own. Good luck! I worked remotely from my parent’s house for the first week. It was hard, but we got through it. Take care!!

      1. Pennalynn Lott*

        Thanks, Rebecca! My mom is really stubborn and only follows doctor’s orders when she feels like it. She got fussy this morning when I made her take ALL of her meds, not just the ones she wanted to.

        I’ve had both of my hips replaced, so I kinda know what I’m doing when it comes to knowing why ALL the meds need to be taken, ALL the exercises have to be done, and ALL the precautions need to be heeded. But she argues with me over everything.

        She’s driving me nuts, but at least her surgery was done via the anterior approach, so her recovery time will be much shorter than mine were. (So I’ve only got 4-6 weeks of this).

        1. Rebecca*

          Oh, so you know the straight skinny on this! That’s really good. My Mom is an RN, so Dad got excellent wound care, and he was good at listening to the doctor’s instructions, especially since it meant he could get back to driving the fire engine faster. He is now 80 years old, and still drives the engine and brush truck for his local volunteer fire company. He’s on his feet, a lot, working in his shop working on cars.

          Good luck with your Mom. She sounds a bit like my Mom. She doesn’t like to listen or do what she’s supposed to when she has surgery, and I have to nag her. And I remind her of all the times as an RN she made people do things they didn’t want to do, all in the name of recovery, so I tell her, now it’s your turn!

    2. Mimmy*

      Good luck with your mom! One of my social work internships was at a rehab facility, and I worked with a LOT of joint replacement patients–those hip precautions are very important!!

    3. TootsNYC*

      I truly don’t mean to argue w/ the rightness of your decision for you.

      But little babies and little kids are WAY WAY more enjoyable to wait on than mothers.

      (they’re still a royal PITA, though)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I am chuckling. Not sure how old I was, but someone finally pointed out to me that children grow up and live their own lives. Not so with parents once they start going down hill. So obvious but I did not see it.
        A demanding family member can be very taxing.

        OP, you do not HAVE to help your mother, especially if she is refusing your help. Please think about how you could bring in outside help, so that you do not burn out. I know first hand this stuff can burn a person out very fast.

        1. Pennalynn Lott*

          Thanks, NSNR. I had that exact “aha” moment over the weekend while taking care of my mom. I know she’ll recover just fine from the hip replacement, but it gave me a glimpse of what I’m in for when her COPD turns into full-blown emphysema, and her tremors become outright shaking, and her willful stubbornness becomes belligerence. This hip replacement stuff is just a preview of what’s to come. (Eeeeeek!)

          And, yes, I’ll be bringing in outside help next Saturday, so I can go out and get a break.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            They have drugs for that belligerence. (not joking) I tend to think of heavy sedation as a zero quality of life. I have noticed that some people prefer heavy sedation rather than dealing with the world. (not joking, it’s sad but true).

            By the time I got to the fourth sick parent, my gloves were off and long gone. I did not mince words. “Parent, if you continue to refuse to shower, then they will bring in a crew of people who will pick you up and PUT you in the shower.”

            You know what is odd here? Parent continued refusing to shower after being told directly. The crew came and put Parent in the shower as predicted. Nothing changed because of this, parent continued refusing to shower.

            The only take-away I have found so far is that we are responsible for our quality of life right up to the very end. Every choice we make DOES matter, even on the little things. All I could do is vow not to be that person.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        Toots – I find being around little babies and little kids (who need nothing from me, mind you) to be *highly* stressful. I get worn out just listening to them and watching them. I genuinely was not wired for kids. :-)

        But, yeah, you can at least lay down the law with them and end it with, “Because I said so,” whereas that won’t fly with an adult. I have to use logic, persuasion, and negotiation to get my mom to behave.

        1. TootsNYC*

          I agree that some people aren’t wired for kids. Or just don’t want to bother. More power to them!

          But I also found that my own little kids were way more enjoyable than everybody else’s, when they were little. The dynamic was really different. They loved me! They hugged me. (Of course, now that I’ve *been* a parent, I enjoy other people’s kids much more than my own. Especially now that they’re older.)
          My point isn’t that you’re wrong to not want kids–more like, you’re mistaken if you think parents of little kids have it harder than you. They don’t. You have it harder, because you don’t get the reward of “little kid who loves me and is cute.”

          And oh no, you can’t either: “you can at least lay down the law with them and end it with, “Because I said so,” “ And even if you can, it doesn’t last very long. Mine are in H.S. & college–which is like having a grownup. Because, well, they are.

          Of course, they’ll grow away, and go away. A parent that you have to care for will stick around.

          Good luck with your mom!

  17. Ali*

    Second comment: Happy birthday to me! I turned 30 on Tuesday and am hoping for this decade to be better than my 20s!

    Does anyone who has already turned 30 and lived through it have any great advice for the next 10 years of my life?

    1. nep*

      Happy birthday.
      In no particular order:
      Honour truth
      Talk less, listen more
      Eat clean and move your body
      Don’t live as if you’ve got forever
      Be kind — genuinely, unreasonably kind — to yourself and others

    2. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Happy Birthday!!!

      I don’t know why, but no one ever told me that 30 is AMAZING. I remember waking up about 2 months after my 30th birthday and realizing I no longer gave a rat’s booty about what people thought. I also realized that I was, for the first time in my life, rolling with the punches. Many of my friends experienced the same transformation.

      The weird thing about your 30s is that they feel better than your 20s, but you might still FEEL like you’re in your 20s. I know I do. And you’ll start to notice that everyone around you feels the same way, and not a single one of you “looks” like you’re in your 30s.

      It’s a lovely time. Enjoy it!

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. I agree with every sentence. I found I had a handle on who I am and what I stand for. All of the whirlwind of life seemed to make a little more sense. I found a rhythm.

        I looked at my elders and realized that a lot of them were still doing well at 80. That made me smile because I felt that this is how it will go for me. My best years were coming at me.

        It’s been a couple decades since then and I still feel that my life turned when I was in my thirties. It got better.

      2. TootsNYC*

        This–so much! My thirties were amazing. I felt like a wiser, smarter, stronger version of myself in my twenties.

        And then my forties came, and amazingly I was even more powerful. So, the thirties are great! And they’re just the start, not the end.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      30s are definitely a better decade than the 20s. The only thing I will say is that 40 creeps up on you a lot faster from 30 than 30 does from 20! Enjoy every day.

    4. Natalie*

      Not super far into my 30s, but so far so good.

      I read an article long ago that said that people tend to say that whatever decade their currently living in is the best decade of life. That’s always been reassuring to me – either it generally gets better, or my brain is tricking itself which is pretty much the same thing.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Not true for me. I’m in my 50s. It’s in the lower half of the decades (of course, there have been only 5). In fact, it might be rock bottom.

        (Of course, other decades were good, so… But fifties is not easy for me.)

    5. QualityControlFreak*

      Happy birthday Ali. I’m several decades ahead of you and for me each has been better than the last. Although, aging sucks. But quality of life over all has steadily improved for me since my 20s.

      The only advice I can give is to try to do your best at whatever tasks you take on. You just never know when you might be auditioning for the next step on your path! In choosing someone to potentially start a relationship with, it helps to think about your own long term goals as well as personal values, must-haves, deal breakers, etc. and get to know the other person’s views on same upfront to see if you are on the same page.

      You have a lot of wonderful years ahead of you! Happy birthday, and best wishes! Q

    6. laura*

      happy birthday! i turned 30 last year and so far it’s awesome.

      don’t be afraid to change things that make you unhappy.
      spend effort on memories, not items.
      make a better effort with friends and family.
      don’t be afraid to speak up.
      life is too short… so enjoy it while you can (and i don’t mean spending tons of money on random items but maybe more on good food, vacations, and experiences you may not get to have again).
      i’ve also started to dwell less on what other people think about me (don’t like my hair, my music choices, or anything else? that’s too bad…for you).

    1. Mimmy*

      Best: Just got a keratin treatment – my out-of-control hair is now poker straight! I’ve had this done several times before and it makes my hair sooooo much easier to care for.

      Worst: Jury duty!!!! (see my post upthread)

    2. Sabrina*

      Best – I’m finally finding people to join my World of Warcraft guild.
      Worst – rejected for yet another job

    3. Come On Eileen*

      Best: I’m going to see Kevin Smoth and Jason Mewes (aka Jay and Silent Bob) live tonight! So stupid excited.

      Worst: having no luck making an appointment with a new therapist, which is frustrating and making me want to say “well, I tried!” and give up. I know that’s not a good approach, just wish reaching out for help was a bit easier.

    4. nep*

      All good — no ‘worsts’.
      To name a couple high points: Spent many wonderful moments playing in the sandbox with my one-year-old grand niece, found a BOSU at a garage sale — nearly new — for $5.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      Worst–I’m overdrawn until Friday. >_<

      Best–Just got back from a Doctor Who meeting. We had a second anniversary potluck. We ate until we popped, won valuable prizes, played Cards Against Humanity and laughed our butts off, and listened to soundtrack music. We'll have another potluck next month because one member is in LONDON (and Prague–jelly jelly jelly jelly–even though Prague was work-related) and she whined about missing it, LOL. I don't think you need to convince anybody in this group to bring food, and we're all now addicted to CAH. :)

      1. Ruffingit*

        CAH is SO awesome!! I have get-togethers with the same set of friends every couple of months and we always play it. It’s hilarious!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I know! I got one answer when I was reading the black card that was so funny with that card that I literally could not speak, I was laughing so hard. I had to hand it off to someone else, and when she read it she started laughing so hard she couldn’t read it either and shoved it to the next person. I don’t even remember what it was now!

    6. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Best and worst in one: my dad’s esophageal resection surgery is on Tuesday. I’m anxious for obvious reasons, but it also could be the start of his recovery to becoming even more independent and able than he was a year ago. There’s obviously a lot of reason to worry, but at the same time it’s also the beginning of the end of waiting to see if he will make a full recovery. Until now I’ve felt like I’m barely treading water.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          Thanks Mimmy!

          And upon rereading, I realized I should have said that I found out this week that my dad’s surgery is next Tuesday, so I’ve been scrambling all week. That’s the good and bad for this past week.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Medical technology is amazing! And I find myself in awe of what they can do in the ENT area!

        Best of luck to your dad.

    7. Gene*

      Worst – a night in the hospital after some chest discomfort. Not even really pain, just not right.

      Best – all the labs were normal, no change with nitro, maalox, or morphine. Nuclear treadmill test on Thursday to confirm the ticker is good.

      1. nep*

        That can be frightening as hell. I did that once and through the night in hospital I was really taking stock of how I’d been treating my body. Glad lab results were normal. Here’s hoping the test shows your heart’s fine. All the best.

      2. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I’m glad you’re OK so far, Gene, and even more glad you’re getting checked out. Ignorance is NOT bliss when it comes to your health! Sorry, I’m projecting a bit here from family issues, but it’s still true that the only way you can be treated is to first get diagnosed. I hope there’s nothing to find, though.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: started a new job back at the university
      Worst: 45 minute, heart-wrenching exit meeting with my boss who didn’t want me to leave and was disappointed and upset about it

    9. OfficePrincess*

      Best: It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m going to a Grease singalong with a friend tomorrow. We haven’t really hung out one-on-one before, so hopefully this will be a good start.
      Worst: A former camp counselor/mentor/friend passed away at the end of last week. The funeral was this week, which led to a very long and emotional day. It did serve as a reminder that life is short (he was only 60) and that it really is important to stay in touch with people, and led to a group of us reconnecting, but man, is it rough knowing he’s gone.

    10. Jader*

      Best: We finally got an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist, we’ve been waiting 7 months and the call came almost a year early!
      Worst: My Husband just found out the company he works for (non profit) lost a bid to renew their largest government contract which account for 30%+ of their funding.

    11. Elizabeth*

      Worst: I’ve been on an antibiotic since Monday that lists some “rare but not unheard of” side effects. I got all of them.

      Best: I got my first pedicure since foot surgery at the end of March, since everything is finally healed up. I love how my feet feel afterwards, all soft & smooth, and the artwork on my toenails is awesome.

    12. LCL*

      Worst-dog hurt his leg and had to see the e-vet.
      Best-a sprain, no big deal. In less than 24 hours he went from holding the paw in the air to bouncing around as usual. Pointers, gotta love em.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        About 5 weeks after we adopted our buddy, he injured his paw. It was so upsetting– he wouldn’t walk on it and he was so obviously in pain but he didn’t make a sound. We took him to the vet who diagnosed an infection in the paw (he stepped on something), and after less than 24 hours of antibiotics, it was all, “Hi Mom! Good morning! I’m awesome! Let’s go to the park! I have been holding in sooooooo much poop!” The resiliency of puppers, man.

    13. Windchime*

      Best: Edgar Martinez has been hired as the batting coach for the Mariners. Handsome, funny, and a good batter? Yes, please.

      Worst: I got nothing. It’s been a pretty good week. We are in code freeze at work and I’ve got a couple of days off because my Mom is coming for a visit. I’m in a housecleaning frenzy and will probably be exhausted by the time she gets here tomorrow.

    14. Not So NewReader*

      Best. Found five gallon buckets of paint for $5 each. I have been hunting down clearance sales for stuff to fix the house and I am amazed at what I am finding.

    15. Natalie*

      Best: closed on my house! Official home owner with keys and my own water bill and everything.

      Worst: house, plus Father’s Day, dog sitting, and school means this weekend is super busy and not relaxing. I just want to sit in my lawn and drink white wine!

    16. Anx*

      Best: Started a new internship, ate a lot of fresh food, OB season finale*
      Worst: Made some nervous mistakes at my internship, spent the heatwave with no AC (and tomorrow’s gonna be 100) and thus am having a hard time doing anything that requires thinking and concentration, and OB season finale

      *please no spoilers in any replies

    17. Carrie in Scotland*

      I don’t have any standout bests or worsts, it’s just been a fairly average week.

    18. Elkay*

      Best: Set plans in motion for a present for DH I’ve had in mind for a while but didn’t know if it was possible
      Worst: Father’s day plans have gone up in smoke due to another family member’s injury :( Now everyone’s going to be snapping at each other all day on top of my brother’s usual pain in the arse behaviour.

    19. Tau*

      Worst: Collapsed in the street on Wednesday while cycling (thankfully I’d stopped and it was a very non-busy street it happened on) and then had the specialist I was seeing anyway on Thursday basically go “well, since you’re moving in two weeks there’s nothing I can do, why are you even here? Next time go to A&E if you start feeling faint” which was… less than strictly helpful. Don’t get me wrong, free healthcare is amazing but I am growing increasingly less enamoured by the NHS.

      Best: One of my best friends is in town for the next few weeks, which is great for just plain meeting up with her, was great when it came to having friends stay with me after collapsing and is also great for getting some help with packing, *especially* since my fitness is still gone and I’m having trouble lifting heavy items. I helped her move a few years back and she’s determined to repay the favour!

      1. misspiggy*

        Boo @ collapsing. You probably already know this, but when I was seeing specialists for fainting they didn’t have much to recommend other than beta blockers and hydration. Started following Internet advice to up my salt and protein intake, along with fluids, and found big improvements. I get the feeling NHS doctors don’t feel they can advise salt increases because heart disease, but frankly being able to stand up is more of a priority for me.

        1. Tau*

          Oh, I know what’s causing the random fainting – anemia, as caused by a health issue I’m currently dealing with. And I’m definitely going to be better about taking my iron tablets regularly from now on. It’s just that I can’t believe I’ve reached the point of collapsing in the street and the NHS still seems completely unwilling to address the underlying cause (where we know exactly what it is and how to fix it). Or at least get me a freaking blood transfusion so I can go places without worrying I’m going to keel over. :(

      2. Treena*

        We’re moving soon too, and both my husband and I have health issues that are getting pushed back due to sucky timing. My sympathies =/

        I hate to downplay how sucky random fainting is (it sounds awful), but in the US, you could pay $300-600 (your side of the fees totaling $2-5,000) to see specialists, labwork, etc. and still get the same answer you got. At least it’s free, and in the UK, you have the option of paying for a private doctor. I think your problem is that MDs in general aren’t attuned to anything easily explainable, so your best bet is to go alternative or experiment as misspiggy suggests.

        1. Tau*

          The issue with the NHS is that I’ve known the underlying problem and how to fix it since October, started having symptoms in January and started having seriously terrible symptoms a la random fainting and being basically out of commission for one week a month in April, and yet the NHS seems allergic to the idea of actually *fixing* the problem. The specialist on Thursday basically threw yet another “well, we could do X and that should alleviate the symptoms” at me, when the last three Xs didn’t do enough and when we could absolutely get rid of the underlying cause. And now they’re telling me that they can’t possibly refer me to a specialist in the new place, I’ll have to go see a new GP and start the whole process all over again there – going to the end of the waiting list in the process.

          Don’t get me wrong, I prefer this to the US system, but I don’t think I prefer it to the German system (which is where I’m originally from). In fact, I already had a private consultation with a doctor in Germany and it looks as though I’ll be travelling back for the treatment proper as well since the NHS isn’t getting its act together. So I’ll be paying for it privately anyway. :/

          1. misspiggy*

            Oh nooo. The NHS is utterly terrible with anaemia, so sorry. Hope you can get better help in Germany!

    20. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: I just found out– about 10 minutes ago– that a very good friend of mine is coming to the area for a conference and I am so excited to see her!!! I had hoped to see her a few weeks ago at a wedding but she couldn’t make it, and now we get real quality time together.

      Also best: aforementioned vacation has actually been booked!

      Worst: I’m being transitioned off a project at work for the sake of my own sanity, and I still have stuff to do for it and I would just rather be done and not dealing with a person who has been making my life insane. Sigh.

    21. QualityControlFreak*

      Worst: damage to some personal property at work that I suspect was intentional. Best: took steps to prevent any reoccurrence and secure my stuff at work, informed manager (of this as well as other ongoing work issues). So, yeah. That kind of week.

    22. Lady Bug*

      Best: finally got a permanent desk at my new job after 10 weeks.

      worst: 5th uti since January. Seeing a urologist Tuesday. All the antibiotics keep leading to associated infections, including what I think is now my 2nd occurence of bv in 2 months. And whoever put the waste removal plant in the middle of the amusement park was an idiot!

  18. Treena*

    What can you do to discourage gifts that end up collecting dust? I’m in the process of moving and there are so many things that I was given that I don’t use, dislike, etc. But they’re from people I love very much and feel guilty throwing them away. I feel like the only long-term solution is to discourage the gifts in the first place. We’re “moving” by putting all of our stuff in storage and are going to live with 300 lbs of stuff in 6 suitcases for the next 3 years, traveling around. I’m hoping that will be discouragement enough, but does anyone have scripts that have worked for them?

    1. Graciosa*

      Personally, once an item is yours, I believe you’re free to do whatever you want with it. A gift does not come with an obligation to care for it in perpetuity. All you have to do is express your appreciation – for the thoughtfulness and caring regardless of the quality of the gift.

      As for telling people who care about you not to give you gifts – no, I really don’t have any magic words for that one. It is beyond my ability to come up with words to tell people close to you that their expressions of love and caring are not up to your standards and you’d rather not receive them at all.

      This kind of a speech will hurt the recipients very much.

      Throwing away the gifts will make *you* feel guilty.

      If I had to choose between sucking it up myself and accepting undeserved guilt for how I handled – or disposed of – my possessions and actually hurting people I cared about to avoid the guilt, I’d choose the former over the latter.

    2. fposte*

      I’d say the other way–the solution is to realize you don’t have to keep them just because you love the gift-giver. * haven’t been trimming down the way you must have, but I’ve been doing some spring cleaning, and lots of stuff from beloved people has gone to Goodwill. I understand and feel the angst, but they really didn’t give it to you for you to keep until you died at 99.

      Maybe also you could try mutual promises to do something instead of giving something to each other, so long as you actually book and carry through.

      1. Treena*

        Yes, the doing something instead of a gift is what I was thinking, not a general statement of “no gifts.” And I usually love the gift in theory (I think it’s beautiful, would love it on my shelf, etc.) but it just doesn’t work with our upcoming lifestyle. For instance, my mother-in-law got me a giant Christmas decoration personalized with our names on it. It’s so incredibly tacky and I love it SO MUCH. But I was sad because I knew it was going to sit in storage for 3+ years and I wouldn’t get to actually enjoy it.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Can you suggest an alternative, like some kind of shared experience gift? My mom and I decided a few years ago that for Hanukkah and our birthdays, instead of doing gifts we’d do fancy restaurant meals. We get to eat delicious food, spend time together, and there are no gifts collecting dust.

      1. Dan*

        My parents aren’t big foodies, but I am. When we get together around my b-day, I ask for a nice meal out. It’s actually a rare event, the last time was in Chicago a few years ago before my ex and I caught a flight out of the country. We went to a nice steakhouse. You know what? I actually remember it.

        Next year, the ‘rents and I are going on a two-week transatlantic cruise right after my b-day. I’m going to make my parents go to one of the upscale surcharge restaurants.

      2. Treena*

        I would love to suggest that, but for the past three years, they’ve been 3,000 miles away, and soon, it’ll be 10,000 miles. I tell everyone to come visit, but without an extra bedroom for them to stay, that’s a really expensive gift. In a couple of years, we’re going to treat my dad to a trip for his 70th birthday, so maybe that will set the precedent of taking a trip as a family?

        1. Colette*

          What about suggesting experience gifts (if they ask) even if you can’t do them together? For example, I got my various young relatives science centre passes for Christmas. Tickets to a play or restaurant gift cards don’t collect dust.

          1. Treena*

            I think I’m going to start giving these (since shipping will be outrageous). I already did it when my mother asked about what my husband wanted for his birthday and I suggested concert tickets.

          2. Monodon monoceros*

            I bought a family aquarium pass for my brother’s family for Christmas after I visited in the fall and realised their house looked like a toy store exploded…

            1. Artemesia*

              I get my daughter’s family museum memberships for their birthdays (the adults). They live nearby so I buy their child clothing often and books and toys for birthdays, but for the adults having family memberships in the excellent museums in our area works well for them. With memberships they skip the long lines (we are a tourist mecca) and it is fun to be able to go for a couple of hours from time to time rather than feeling you have to ‘get your money’s worth’ on infrequent visits.

      3. Liz in a Library*

        Consumables and experiences are definitely the way to go! They take up little or no space, provide built-in “use” (even if that use is just to go have fun), and prompt you to try new things!

      4. Monodon monoceros*

        I wish my Mom would stick to this! I live far away, and she says she wants to come visit. I suggested to her that instead of paying postage to send me things (which I usually don’t want anyway, because I move a lot) she should save her money so that when she’s here we can go out to eat at fancy restaurants, or stay at nicer hotels. She agreed when I said it, but then I still get the boxes of stuff…

    4. INTP*

      The acceptability of this might vary depending on your age and the relationship (I’m in my late 20s but still in the “baby” generation in my family, all my cousins are childless and many are still in high school), but I keep an Amazon wishlist of things I want/need. People that need to buy me gifts usually call my mom to ask them for ideas and she can look at it or point them to it.

      Just make sure the wishlist that defaults when someone searches your name or email is the one with stuff you want on it. I used to use my default list as kind of a catchall for keeping track of things I might want to buy when the price went down, or comparison shopping and then leaving the other items on when I bought something, and then my poor dad used that list instead of my special Christmas list to buy me a bunch of Christmas gifts. Lesson learned. (I didn’t tell him what happened but I felt awful.)

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I would say what you said here about the six suitcases and 300 pounds. That seems pretty clear to me.

      You could also suggest what you would use. Do you have any online subscriptions that people could pick up the tab on? E-books? Travel insurance? Make a list of the types of things you will actually use, so that people see clearly what you are doing.

      If you need to drive the point home with some people, then I suggest saying, “It is too upsetting for me to have to leave your gift behind because I cannot carry it with me for 3 years. Please don’t put me in that spot.”

      1. Treena*

        “It is too upsetting for me to have to leave your gift behind because I cannot carry it with me for 3 years. Please don’t put me in that spot.”

        Thank you!

    6. Natalie*

      With some people, you might be able to agree on different rules for gift giving. I’ve talked to my parents and some of my closer friends about switching to consumables or silly gifts with a price limit, with moderate success.

      But ultimately, you have to be ok getting rid of these things. It’s like the gift version of sunk costs – the money has already been spent and the gift given, don’t hold onto it because of that. Give things to charity, put them on free cycle, pass useful things along to some young kid in their first apartment or whatever. It’s okay to not need or want something. It doesn’t change the nice thought the person has about you.

    7. TootsNYC*

      One other thought about getting rid of gifts.;

      Gifts are never, at their core, about the physical thing you get.

      They’re about building the relationship between you, about an expression of affection.

      If you keep gifts that aren’t successful, you will resent that gift. And then, eventually you will resent the giver.

      That’s a damned dirty trick to play on someone who loves you enough to give you a gift!

      If you get rid of the unwanted or burdensome gift, you will probably find that your affection for the person is actually saved or even amplified.

      One other point about people not liking gifts and feeling they want to control the gift: It can be hurtful to be given a gift that’s really far off the mark. Or the wrong size –after they asked you for a size–. It’s not that illogical to end up thinking, “They don’t really pay any attention to me! They don’t listen to me.” And that doesn’t make you fee closer to the person.

      If a perfectly chosen and highly successful gift can make you feel very loved, and very “seen,” then it’s only logical that a particularly far-off-the-mark gift can make you feel the opposite. But it’s not that cool to dictate gifts, unfortunately.

  19. Very Very Anonymous*

    Last week my wife of ten years told me that I was getting an extraspecial fathers day present this year. I’m nervous about it because in past years she has teased me about setting up a threeway with her and me and her friend Betty. I think she might have really done it this year. I don’t know how I feel about it. And I don’t know how to behave at this kind of party. Betty is not very attractive, but this might be fun. But I’m very very nervous. Any advice on how to make the best of it? I don’t want my wife to think I don’t appreciate her gift.

    1. Treena*

      “how to make the best of it?” Don’t have a threesome so your wife’s feelings don’t get hurt! If she brings it up again, just joke back to her “It better not be that threesome, I’m not up for that!”

    2. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

      Do not, DO NOT have a threesome you have not discussed in significant detail beforehand if you have been strictly monogamous up to this point. Seriously. Bringing someone else into your sex life before discussing rules and boundaries is a terrible idea.

    3. LizB*

      I would check in just to make sure it’s not actually the threeway, because seriously, you do NOT want to do that without a long, open discussion about boundaries BEFORE the actual event. “Hey, honey, I’m super excited for Father’s Day! Just wanted to check, though — the idea popped into my head that my surprise present might be that threesome with Betty you mentioned a while ago. Is that it?” Wait for her response; if she says yes or goes “I’m not telling!” in the way that probably means yes: “I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I’m not sure I’m really into doing that, especially not without talking more about it first. Can we just do a really nice dinner, and schedule a time to talk with Betty about logistics for a future threeway?*”

      In a response to this comment, I’m going to link to a comic by Oh Joy Sex Toy about how to have a fun, respectful threeway. The comic is SUPER NSFW, so don’t click if you don’t want to see drawings of sex/genitalia. It’s got great advice in it, though — communicate, communicate, communicate!

      *ONLY say this part if you’re actually interested in having the threeway someday, after better communication — don’t have a threeway just so your wife won’t be sad! If you’re not into it, you’re not into it.

        1. Today's anon*

          What a great comic! So refreshing to see a variety of types of people doing a variety of types of things! And some great advice too.

        2. Connie-Lynne*

          I just found out TODAY that Oh Joy Sex Toy’s writer is a friend of a friend!

          So weird to stumble across them twice in one day!

  20. Frozen*

    So far this “summer” we’ve had two kinds of days: sunny but FREEZING and warm-ish with Armageddon-level storms. (oh, probably a couple of stormy and freezing days as well.) Yesterday it was so cold that our building’s radiators kicked on. It is late June!

    It’s really getting me down. I haven’t been able to do much in the way of outdoor activities since the weather’s been so crap. We have such a tiny window of time here where it’s not miserably cold out, as it is. I am tired of wearing coats, and feeling really whiny about rain spoiling EVERY single thing I have planned on a weekend for the past month.

    1. Elizabeth West*

      I hear you–it stayed cold well into May here, and then it got rainy, and FINALLY when it started to warm up, we got hit with the remnants of Tropical Storm Bill and got flooded! At least it’s cleared up now and is warm. Finally.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Yeah, it’s been pretty rubbish here too – overcast, chilly, rainy. Lacking in summer-ness all round, really.

    3. Sweatin' like a pig*

      What region do you live in? Seriously, it’s been so hot and muggy here in DC, we’re talking about moving farther north. I hate never wanting to be outside because of the weather – I feel sick, my clothes get all nasty from my sweat, and it’s just gross. :(

      We want to be where it’s rainy and cool most of the time (we’ve lived in Seattle, and loved it – even in February!), but are finding it hard to get jobs there.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        I hate the combo of heat and humidity here in the Mid-Atlantic, so we’re looking to semi-retire (telework or consult part-time) in 5-10 years, maybe Seattle, Portland (ME or OR), northern MN, or something like that.

        1. Seal*

          I spent most of my life in MN before moving to GA for a job just under a decade ago. People think I’m crazy, but the thing I miss most about MN is the weather. I would much rather spend my summers outside and bundle up in the winter than sweat my way from May through October. And don’t get me started on how they deal with the mere mention of snow and cold in the Deep South (newsflash: 30 degrees is not “bitter cold”). I need seasons, people!

      2. Frozen*

        Chicago. I LOVE heat. I am absolutely in the wrong city; unfortunately family obligations are keeping me here.

        1. Nina*

          It really has been crazy here in Chicago. It feels like we’re getting a very delayed spring with all these downpours.

          I also love the heat, but it sucks when it’s combined with the humidity from all this rain. I’ve had friends from the south tell me that our humidity is worse than theirs.

    4. Artemesia*

      Same here but I live in a two pipe building i.e. we either have heat or AC and the AC was turned on in early May after a temporary heat wave and it has been cold every since. Here it is the first day of summer and it is still chilly.

  21. AvonLady Barksdale*

    I JUST BOOKED A VACATION OMG YAY!!! I haven’t taken a real vacation in YEARS. Our last getaway was an impromptu trip to Charleston over Christmas to see his sister (we ate and drank a lot, but visiting family doesn’t count), and I went on a chorus tour to Italy in 2012 with my mother (love my chorus, find my mother… difficult), but my bf and I haven’t been really, truly AWAY in a very long time. I decided to say, screw the money and actually book a vacation, not just a trip.

    For those who followed before, we’re going to Canada in August to see the Bay of Fundy. I am sorry to say I forget the names of the commenters who gave me such great advice, so if you see this… We will arrive in Halifax on Sunday afternoon and enjoy the city for the evening, then in the morning we will head to the Annapolis Valley. I got a reservation in Wolfville at a place that looks really lovely and located close to several wineries. We’ll stay there for two nights (that’s the current plan– we might make it one), then on to Digby and the ferry to St. John. We’ll base ourselves in St. John for two nights and explore from there, then back across the Bay, drive to Halifax, then back home. So far I’ve only booked the car, the flights, the hotel in Halifax for the first night, and the two nights in Wolfville, so there’s a lot to fill in.

    Any recommendations/warnings about St. John? Or about Wolfville? Everyone said Digby was Not Great, so I listened! :)

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’m very excited for your trip! St. John is a fun little town to visit–absolutely don’t miss the City Market, and there’s about a zillion little shops and art galleries around to enjoy. In Wolfville you should definitely visit Grand-Pre and learn about the Expulsion.

      And when you’re driving, be EXTREMELY careful at dawn and dusk for moose! New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have some of the highest moose populations per capita in Canada, and they loooooove to hang out by the roadside and startle motorists.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Ha, good to know! I hate driving at dusk, so maybe I’ll use that as an excuse to be off the road by then.

        My bf will LOVE Grand-Pre, and we will both love its namesake winery. :)

        1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          Actually, I just looked it up, and moose are endangered in Nova Scotia! But just across the border in NB they’ve got more moose than they know what to do with. There are 300 moose/car crashes every year in NB–don’t be one of them. Just be alert and be aware and you’ll be fine.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            A long time ago I had someone in to fix my chimney and fireplace. He was from Newfoundland and somehow we got on the topic of conversation of Moose Bumpers. I thought that they were to protect yourself against the moose, kind of like a cow catcher on a train because hitting a moose with a car, the moose will just walk away and your car will be totalled… but… apparently not. He laughed and said that you put the bumper on so that if you see a moose, you can speed up and hit it without wrecking your truck — feed a family half a winter with one moose. I was somewhat horrified but Newfoundlanders are pretty ingenious about putting food on the table for cheap and different strokes for different folks.

            You’ll have a blast AvonLady!

  22. mother issues*

    How do you tell your mother you really don’t want to see her? I have not seen her in 2 years (she lives in another country) but she is always trying to get me to go there for a visit and I never have a convenient time (work is crazy you know) but she clearly is not getting the hint. Now she wants us to meet in a city equidistant to both of us and I don’t want to go. Also, there is her newish husband – she has a very deferential relationship that I can’t stand but it’s not my relationship but again it’s not someone I enjoy spending time with. The fact that we talk more or less regularly on skype counts as zero but that is really all I want to give right now.

    1. Treena*

      Would you be ok if she came to visit you? If you are, saying firmly that you can’t make any trips to see her but would love to see her if she comes to you would put the ball in her court.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Are you currently seeing a therapist? Is that something you could afford? No matter how you try to do this, it’s not going to go well and you’re going to need support. With all the pressure around having happy families and respecting your parents, it’s not a decision anyone makes lightly to cut out one or both parents. But, many people will not understand it because faaaaamily!

      Getting a therapist might help you negotiate just what specifically to say to your mother (if anything) or what to do moving forward. A book that might help you is Mothers Who Can’t Love: A Healing Guide For Daughters. It’s a short read and at the back there are some suggestions for how to handle a difficult mother. You might also want to check out Raised by Narcissists on Reddit, there are a lot of people there who may have similar problems with their mothers and have successfully gone no contact or limited contact with them.

      1. Florida*

        I second the part about going to therapy. I would say not to drop hints. When we drop hints, they seem painfully obvious to us, but the other people don’t always get the hint. Then we get mad that they didn’t get the hint. Well, it was a hint, which by definition is indirect. If you want people to get the message, you have to be direct (even that doesn’t always work).

        Also, if you are telling her that the problem is work. Then it makes sense for her to recommend solutions like meeting halfway. She is trying to solve the problem you gave her (which isn’t the real problem). If the problem is her husband, tell her that. Would she consider visiting without her husband? My mother’s husband is a problem for me. My mother knows that so she visits without him.

        I would definitely recommend the therapy.

  23. LolaK*

    Today is my birthday and I’m feeling very strange about it. It isn’t a big birthday year (31) but the past year was absolutely not what I thought it would be. My life feels worse off then it was a year ago. This is mostly because I don’t have reliable or close friends left. I went out for dinner last night and I am going on a big solo trip next week (Galapagos) but it feels so distant from the big celebrations in my past. Usually I am very optimistic but I am feeling like there isn’t a reason or a hope that my social/romantic life will dramatically change. I am divided between feeling like I need to just ‘be myself’ but also finding better ways for people to like me (in general and socially at work etc.). Does anyone else feel this way? Any suggestions?

    1. Colette*

      I think a lot of friendships change when you’re around 30. I’d recommend thinking about whether you’re around people you don’t click with (e.g. don’t share a sense of humour) or whether you’re missing social cues (needing too much attention/help with our reciprocating, for example). If it’s the first one, then be yourself and look for people who like you (and who you like). If it’s the second one, that’s something to work on while being yourself.

      And work on liking your own company, if you struggle with that.

      (That sounds like a great trip, BTW.)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      This really does not seem like an answer. I found that whether people liked me or not was irrelevant. All that matters is if I like them. See, when you let it show that you like the person you are talking with, they tend to decide to like you back.

      I think about my relationships from years ago, and I wonder if those friends were just mirroring back my own uncertainty. I chewed up a lot of time wondering if people liked me. I had to have come across as hesitant or even reluctant.

      It’s easier to decide on things this way: I like Jane because she is so organized, she slays me. I like Sue because she has great sense of humor. Bob is really knowledgeable about dogs, I like talking to Bob about dogs. Pick something about the person and decide to like them.

      If you befriend someone and they do not reciprocate, you have done nothing wrong here. Keep that in mind. Not everyone is for everyone and it’s okay. You try to be friendly with others and they turn away, that is not on you.

      1. SherryD*

        I think that’s really cool advice. I’ve struggled with the whole “what do they really think of me?” thing with friends and acquaintances, and I know it’s caused me to come off as reserved or unfriendly, when all I wanted was not to come on too strong.

    3. Just look at them and sigh*

      I went through something maybe a bit like that when I was 30-31 – I’d gotten a divorce, moved to another town. But I look back on it now – and it’s like, the 30s were when my life really began! It’s different for everyone, I know, but – you’re young and free with minimal commitments and you can do whatever you want!

      1. LolaK*

        I go through periods of time where I get a sense that it is the beginning of a completely new, great phase. Then, there are other times when the change is just tough to handle.

  24. Elizabeth*

    I am (or was) a closet Kansas City Royals fan. I haven’t been able to watch baseball for years, as I just cringed over how awful they played. The run up to the World Series last year, and the series itself, was incredible. I’m really enjoying watching them play this year.

    What the heck is going on with the whining about the Royals actually having fans who want to see them play in the All-Star Game?? Yes, we’re voting. The system limits any given logon to the MLB website to 35 entries (I have voted 35 times). Any other team could have similar turnout if they wanted to. The number of votes logged so far for the various Royals players far outstrip the number of people in the Kansas City metro area, so it isn’t just locals voting, obviously.

    No, we probably shouldn’t be able to get a guy hitting .201 onto the All Star roster. But since no other team has fans who apparently care enough to vote, that is going to happen. Quityerbitchin’ and do something to get your guys on the team if it bothers you.

    Yes, this has been annoying me. Every time I turn around, I see or hear a story about how there must be something nefarious happening. There is no way a small market team with a 29-year history of mediocrity & failure could possibly have fans who want to see them be successful.

    1. Ada Lovelace*

      I completely agree with you. This is finally the culmination of the incredible farm system KC had for years. Every team has voting campaigns; the Royals’ has just been more successful in reaching their fans. People talk about it like KC fans are destroying the sanctity of the All Star game. That’s pure bull. It is a popularity contest, that had dwindling rating for years. It only matters now because MLB tied home field advantage at the Wold Series to it. If it really mattered, people wouldn’t be allowed to vote so often, etc.

  25. Barre*

    Has anyone here tried barre class? I’ve heard good things about it in terms of toning and general fitness, but wasn’t sure if it’s worth the cost. So compared to other gym classes like pump or spin how does it measure up?

    1. Treena*

      I’m really interested in hearing about this too. An acquaintance teaches them, but she’s an over-exerciser (as a part of an eating disorder) so she’s really intense about it and I’ve always wondered if it really is that intense.

      1. Barre*

        Yeah, a friend of mine is really into it and can’t recommend it highly enough, but she’s quite health-obsessed (the dairy-free, gluten-free, quinoa-living type) so I’m not sure if it’s really all she makes it out to be or if it’s hype.

    2. LisaLee*

      I tried one trial class and it was not for me. I felt like it was for a very specific kind of person who’s super intense about body size and exercise (you know, the “lithe” sort of blond woman from fitness ads)–and that just isn’t me. That totally could have been the place I was going to, though.

      I also sort of felt like, for the cost (very high in my area), I could be doing something more adventurous. It was a good workout, but nothing that couldn’t be achieved through other, less expensive classes. If I’m doing to pay an arm and a leg for a session, I’d rather do something like aerial or paddleboard yoga, Lyra, or pole dancing that will feel like a fun adventure even if I suck at it. Again, YMMV.

      1. Barre*

        That’s what intimidates me about it too, even though they advertise it as being for all fitness levels, all the people on their promotional materials look ultra-fit! I get it’s meant to be aspirational but still!

        1. salad fingers*

          They really aren’t lying about the classes being accessible to people of all fitness levels. I’m not very fit and although I was incredibly sore the next morning, I did ok. Basically, the whole method is built around tiny isometric movements, which are small changes in muscle position or something like that. The way it’s been explained to me is that you can certainly do the movements as a beginner, and as you get better, the same class will actually get harder because you’re going to start doing the movements more and more accurately, which will give you an even better workout/result. I don’t know — is yoga also this way?

          So, I’ve done about five Pure Barre classes because my company did a partnership with them and they were free to me. I… would never spend the $225 a month for a membership. I don’t belong to a gym though, and I’m decidedly not a fitness person, and I really don’t make a lot of money, so others might feel differently. I just think that at that cost (or less even??) I’d rather join Equinox and have access to a pool and steam room and unlimited, varied group fitness, and again, mostly a steam room. The Pure Barre close to me has a cramped bathroom, couple lockers and that’s it.

          1. INTP*

            To answer your question about yoga…it’s not quite the same, but similar. Basically, there are usually either multiple versions of a pose, or the poses are part of a sequence that get progressively more difficult. Beginners and people who just cannot do that particular pose at an advanced level for physics reasons (limbs too short to twist all the way around their body, tight hips, whatever) can do the easier version, or stay at the first pose in a sequence while others progress through several harder ones. (Unfortunately, not all teachers are good about telling everyone what the easier options are unless it’s a beginner specific class – some seem to have the attitude that if you’re in the intermediate class you need to hit the intermediate level of every single pose.)

            For ex, while the class is in side plank, some might have a knee on the floor to make it easier, some might do a standard side plank with both legs straight, with feet stacked on the floor, and some might make it harder by sticking the top leg in the air.

    3. Growing Pains*

      I’ve done Cardio Barre! I believe it’s a franchise, so the classes pretty much the same across all locations. The class was high energy. The class was one hour and we were constantly moving.. no breaks. They play fast/loud music. I don’t believe I got toned — we only used 5lb. weights. Overall, the class is good for getting a sweat going; it is a cardio class after all. I’ve tried other workouts and felt like collapsing afterwards; with cardio barre, I felt energized afterwards. I stopped going because the class is pricey for me ($20/class) and a couple of classes a week adds up.

    4. Lulubell*

      I did Bar Method once. I enjoyed it enough during, but not enough to ever go back. It was a good workout (I sweat a lot and certainly felt it the next day) but I prefer higher intensity workouts usually. Though, I like yoga, too, so who knows. I do like Soul Cycle/spin and body pump classes – they just seem higher energy.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I’ll let you know in a few hours– taking a FlyBarre class later this morning. :)

    6. CollegeAdmin*

      My massage therapist does Barre and raves about it, as do a few Facebook friends of mine. I keep meaning to try it; there’s a place near work that offers newcomers their first class for free.

  26. INTP*

    I’m moving cross country in a few days from my grad school apartment into my parents’ home (where I will probably spend about a year). I’m doing it all in my car, aside from shipping a few boxes of clothing and books. So obviously I’m doing a lot of purging. I downloaded the Konmari book and it has helped a lot with certain things but I’m still a little stuck on others.

    For my clothing, I am semi-inspired to just get rid of almost everything – specifically everything that doesn’t fit wonderfully right now, except maybe 2-3 classic and unique items, and everything that I love but that’s worn out, and everything that fits but I just don’t like much, and start over. I’ve gained weight since I last really invested in clothing I loved so this would leave me with a very tiny and very casual summer wardrobe, plus a few fall dresses and sweaters. Thoughts on this? On one hand, it seems wasteful to get rid of things in good condition when I really do intend to lose weight in the next several months (my weight was consciously not a priority during a few hellish months that are over now), and almost sad and wrong to get rid of certain items I got loads of compliments on. On the other hand, it seems like it would be very empowering to finally not have a closet half-full of things that only serve to remind me that I’m not the weight I want to be right now. I think I’ve been clinging to a set of too small clothing I plan to fit into again soon ever since I grew out of my 00s when forced to gain weight from my eating disorder in high school.

    The other stuff isn’t as emotionally charged, but I’m still a little indecisive. Frugal me wants to keep my shower curtain and bedspread, though I won’t need them for a year, because they’re in good condition and I like them. But it also seems really freeing to just get rid of them, and then when I move out on my own again, I can have the excitement of buying whichever new ones I want.

    Has anyone purged nearly everything in a move? Yay or nay? How did you decide what to keep if you didn’t have room for everything?

    1. Treena*

      I’m doing it right now, but I’m being brutal because it’s going to be in storage for 3-5 years and I know I won’t want most of it by then. 1 year though is a short enough time that it’s a toss-up. I’d say if anything is worn out even a little bit or you didn’t love it even when it fit, then definitely get rid of it.

      For me, the factor that would decide this is whether or not you expect to have the money in a year to replace stuff.

      Don’t forget to send the books media mail with USPS. I sent 50 lbs for like 40 bucks. Heaven.

      1. INTP*

        The clothes I’ll actually have immediately. It’s just a matter of whether I’ll still be interested by the time it fits again and whether it’s worth some of my limited packing space.

        For my kitchen stuff, I’m basically getting rid of everything that I would eventually want to replace because I can use my mom’s kitchen stuff in the meantime. (I have a lot of things I’ll be using at her house because she either doesn’t have the same thing or doesn’t have a good one, like she has really dull crappy knives.)

        Since I can work from home indefinitely (it’s the norm in my industry), I don’t plan to move out until I am truly on my feet financially. So packing my shower curtain and bedspread and stuff will save me $50 later on but I won’t *need* it.

    2. saro*

      I make long distance moves quite often (every few years). The first time I did it, I threw out most of my clothes but I didn’t think ahead because I didn’t have the money to replace them! I do think you should throw out clothes but also make a ‘capsule’ wardrobe that will allow you to have enough clothes for 2 weeks a month so you aren’t running around buying everything at Target just to make sure you have clothes.

      Regarding the other items, if you aren’t emotionally attached to it and you have room, I suggest holding on to the items that are the most expensive to replace.

      1. INTP*

        I move a lot too and my usual MO is to keep anything I could foresee myself having any possible use for. But I’ve spent unnecessary money shipping and hauling things around and I just feel overburdened with stuff right now, if that makes sense.

        I will take your advice though and not get rid of anything that I might not be able to afford to replace. I really want a new pair of winter riding boots but those are pricey so I’ll take my slightly worn out ones in case I can’t get a new pair by the time fall starts. Otherwise I think I’m pretty good. I’ve timed it so most of my basics are at the point where I need to throw them out and get new ones (layering camis and tanks, underwear, socks), but I can get all that stuff cheap at target. And I should be able to spend a few hundred by fall.

    3. Christy*

      I just KonMaried my clothes. I now have workout clothes, a pair of shorts, a pair of jeans, ten work dresses, and a few fancy dresses. That’s it other than undergarments and PJs. So far I haven’t had any issues, and I’m really happy about purging. I do have a bin of skinny clothes that I’m saving, but it’s only clothes I really like–that spark joy. They’re stored away so I don’t have to see them. But when I pull them out again, I’ll be happy to see them all.

      And I’d toss the shower curtain and keep the bedspread, largely based on cost. I might even toss the bedspread too.

      My girlfriend and I are planning a move in the next year, and we’re purging lots of stuff ahead of time. We got rid of like 1/3 of our linens, I got rid of 1/3 of my books (100s), and we’re basically getting rid of everything unnecessary. The purging is awesome. We will also be able to afford new things, which really helps.

      1. fposte*

        I didn’t do the full KonMari, but I did purge as part of house prep for the pest control visit :-(. I have accrued a ton of clothes over the years, so I had plenty left even after serious purging.

        And getting rid of the extra hangers alone was quite satisfying. I had a teeming colony of hangers.

      2. INTP*

        The bedspread is Ikea, so it was only about $40, and I’ve been using it for 4 years. I think I might get rid of it because otherwise, I feel like when I do move out, I will want to buy a new bedspread to match my new décor but will feel obligated to stay with the current one.

        Konmari helped me so much with some other items, especially makeup. I’m just apparently more neurotic than I realized about clothes, because a large number of my skinny clothes give me a spark of joy AND a spark of anxiety simultaneously. I haven’t read the whole book (two chapters a week is about my limit for a book about cleaning) so I don’t know if she deals with that. I know she advises being quite ruthless about keeping items for sentimental value.

    4. Anonsie*

      The biggest problem I had with the KonMari thing was the money aspect, yeah. It’s well and good to say “toss anything you’re not using and buy new ones if it turns out you need it later” but that’s a pretty insane waste of money if you’re not careful with it.

      On the other hand I think her advice is actually really, really good and it’s helped me a lot as someone who tends to be miserly in general. When I was growing up my parents made minimum wage and we struggled a lot, so replacing things that don’t need to be replaced or getting rid of things that can be used freaks me out. That pattern, though, was leaving me keeping and using (and buying) things I didn’t like because they were useful and it was cost-effective. Wearing undershirts that bunched up at the waist and using my boyfriend’s hideous and well worn bachelor sheets were removing opportunities for me to add little things to my days that made me happy. Buying some new things on the basis of 1) actually needing them because I chucked the crappy versions I had and 2) picking based on what I thought was nice at that time was all really enjoyable and I do get little sparks of that when I use those things now, too. And there is something really nice about opening up your dresser or closet and seeing only clothes you actually like wearing in a neat little stack.

      So I support tossing a bunch of stuff you don’t specifically care about and seeing if finding a replacement is something that you like. If it stresses you out and the new things don’t make you happy, then err on the side of keeping things in the future.

      1. INTP*

        For me it’s been pretty impractical so far because I’m living in an apartment with pricey laundry machines, and to maximize my money there it’s a huge time-intensive ordeal to do allll the laundry at once. So it’s been useful to me to have a bunch of clothing I don’t particularly like so that I have stuff to stretch out time between necessary laundry days. A lot of that is old worn out tank tops and pjs and underwear that I am throwing out when I move, because my parents have laundry machines in their house.

        But it has already helped me so much with other stuff. Throwing out over half my makeup was a breeze. And it’s even helping me with throwing out food I don’t want to eat, because I can acknowledge that the purpose of this food in my life was to make me feel inspired to eat healthier when I went to the grocery store and bought more fresh veggies than I needed, or to make sure I wouldn’t run out of food when I was too busy to go to the store, or to give me a chance to test out a new food or recipe that it turns out I don’t like. The “thanking the item for serving its purpose in your life” thing has really helped to fix some of the overwhelming guilt and anxiety about being “wasteful” I’d feel when throwing out anything from a lipstick I used three times and didn’t like anymore to leftovers I really don’t want to eat.

    5. AmyNYC*

      I LOVE the idea of a capsule wardrobe (or even a pseudo “uniform” that you wear everyday) but I haven’t been willing to purge so I think it’s great that you’re open to this! I like areal Simple for just about anything, but they do pieces on this every few years, it might help to take a look before throwing stuff out. And about throwing stuff away – consider donating it (bonus: tax write off!) or taking pieces you love but don’t fit quite right to a tailor. Good luck!

      1. INTP*

        Yeah, the time in my life that I felt the best about my clothes and was nicknamed “office fashionista,” I had a de facto uniform of a sweater dress (or sometimes another kind of dress with a jacket or cardigan), thick tights, and boots. I didn’t have a capsule wardrobe then because I had a lot of other junk I was holding onto, but the wardrobe of things I wore regularly was pretty small and I loved everything. I think I’ve been clinging to some of those items because of how good I felt about my fashion then, but even if I fit into them again this winter they will probably look dated.

    6. Schmitt*

      Someone linked to the Vivienne Files blog a while ago and it’s totally changed my approach to buying clothes. If you can stretch / pep up your current stuff-that-fits with accessories and inexpensive basics, then you can keep the accessories and replace the basics when you go down a size again.

      The clothing you love but which doesn’t fit may make someone else really damn happy when they find them at Goodwill!

      1. INTP*

        The last sentence is what I have been telling myself over and over. I have several things I’m donating which still have the tags on them even. I get kind of overwhelmed with guilt and money anxiety over that, but I just try to remember that there might be some woman at Goodwill who really, really needs nice new work clothes or a dress for a school dance or something and finding my thing new with tags on it will make her life better.

        1. TheLazyB*

          I have got some AMAZING clothes in charity shops so i say a general Thank You in your direction.

    7. TheLazyB*

      Gretchen Rubin (sp?) of the Happiness Project suggests that if you want to keep clothes for sentimental value that’s fine – but then find somewhere other than your wardrobe to keep them. Is that an option?

      1. INTP*

        That makes sense for things with truly deep sentimental value but most of what I’m dealing with right now is just random stuff that I didn’t wear for anything significant and have a hard time letting go of because of what it represents (weight loss, a time in my life when I felt much more confident about my fashion, all the compliments I got then, etc). Not things that are, say, a T-shirt given to me by a late loved one or my graduation stole or whatever.

    8. Just look at them and sigh*

      It’s not quite the same thing, but when my parents died and we had to clean out their house, I ended up keeping about 5 things, nothing expensive or rare, just knick-nacks I remeber from when I was a kid. This was years ago, and I’ve never regretted it.

      These days, for reasons too tedious to go into, I have rather more physical possessions than I usually do. Some items are expensive, but none of it is irreplaceable. If I got out of the house with my family, my dog, and my data, I could watch my house burn to the ground and still sleep soundly that night. Not that I want that to happen, but – it’s all just objects.

    9. Artemesia*

      We moved from a 4 bed/3.5 bath home to a tiny condo in another state,so before we moved we got rid of almost all our furniture, most of our clothes (we were also retired)and all of our kitchen except for carefully selected items.

      I think donating stuff you won’t use any time soon and having a more minimalist wardrobe is a great idea. Saving something you like but won’t use in a while like the bedspread — I might keep this if you really like it.

      There are a few things I have regretted getting rid of in several moves over the years and I have kept some genuinely stupid things, but the ones I regret are the truly irreplaceable things — family things, some really nice toys that are no longer made etc.
      Mostly it is just so freeing not to have so much stuff.

  27. Ruffingit*

    I absolutely LOVED Packer’s Dive from Clausen’s Pier. I will definitely check out The Children’s Crusade.

  28. Growing Pains*

    How on earth do people save for a house down payment?!

    I began casually looking at homes in my area. My ideal would be a townhouse with 1 or 2 bedrooms with 1 or 2 bathrooms — prices are $400-500k. I’m going to have to keep saving for a LOTTT longer.

    1. Natalie*

      Woah, that’s expensive.

      Among my friends, a lot of people get some or all of their downpayment as a gift from parent/grandparents. There’s also FHA loans, which only require 5% down. The payments are a lot higher for the first five years, though, while you build the equity to 20%.

        1. CAA*

          It’s tough when you’re starting out. Some things we did:

          – For our starter condo, FIL loaned us 10% of the purchase price as a second mortgage, we saved 10%, borrowed 80% on the first mortgage. We paid FIL the regular market interest rate, which was about 10% at the time, but were able to pay off that loan within 3 years. Then we refinanced the first mortgage since interest rates were then down to 7%. Refinanced again later on for 15 years at under 5% and will finally pay that one off in about 3 years from now, 28 years from when we first bought it. It’s a rental property now though.

          – Meet with a realtor while you’re still saving up. It can take a couple of years to find the right place at the right price, so having someone who’ll call you when they see something that could work is a good thing. Realtors can also point you at neighborhoods you’d never think of. A friend recently bought a single-family home in a part of our city that was built up in the 60s and early 70s. Right now there are a lot of probate sales or elderly who need to move to assisted living, so there are places at good (for So Cal) prices, and our friend got a lot more for his money than he expected.

          – Be flexible about everything. You might not live as close to the beach as you’d like. You might not have covered parking. You might not have a pool. You might have community laundry facilities instead of your own laundry room.

          – Keep your eyes on your goal and save every penny. Take lunch to work, find free things to do on weekends. Put only as much in your 401K as it takes to get the full company match. The rest goes in the house fund, and make sure the house fund is invested in the stock market so you can get some return on it. Once you think you have enough and start seriously looking for a place, you can move it from stocks to bonds or a money market.

          – If you are married or have a co-purchaser, make sure this is a common goal and you’re both committed to making it happen.

          1. danr*

            If you’re going to invest the house fund money, a better place would be state and local bonds (usually just called municipal bonds) for your state since they’re federal, state (and local) tax free. Keep rolling the interest and sale moneys back into more bonds and your stake will start to add up.

    2. Clever Name*

      We lived in an iffy neighborhood with super cheap rent so we could save for 2 years. We didn’t put 20% down, and did an 80/20 loan. I think we had 10% down. This was in the halcyon days of 2004 before loans were hard to get. It was also in TX, which has low housing costs. We paid $150k for a 4 bedroom house in a suburban town.

    3. BRR*

      I have no idea. There are at least some homes where I am that would be in my price range but still don’t know about the down payment plus I have a ton in student loans which would make me high risk despite paying rent all of these years. My only break is the homes are in a terrible school district so they’re cheaper or they make the school district cheaper and I don’t want children. The other kicker is a lot of them have pools which I live in the North East so I don’t want a pool.

    4. Sualah*

      I used to work as a mortgage loan processor for a big bank that you’ve probably heard of if you live in the U.S. Most big banks are pretty similar, credit unions may have different options.

      So, down payments. FHA loans were mentioned; they’re good because they require 3.5% down. However, you’ll pay a Mortgage Insurance Premium (I think the total amount is 1% of your loan) for the life of the loan. It used to drop off when you hit…I forget specifics now, something like 80% or paying it for 7 years, whichever was longer. Now, it’s for the life of the loan. Google FHA MIP rules and you should find more information on that.

      VA loans, if you/your co-signer qualify for that. No down payment required.

      Conventional mortgage. Usually, you can qualify with 5% down. You’ll be paying Private Mortgage Insurace (like MIP for FHA) but you can request that to be dropped off once you hit 80% equity, either through payments or if your value goes up. (Buying a fixer upper and finishing the fixing up, so it’s worth more.)

      The 80/20 loan. I didn’t work with those, but you get your first mortgage for the 80%, avoiding the PMI, and a second mortgage for the 20%. Everything closes and sign all the paperwork at the same time.

      The county you’re moving to might have Down payment Assistance Plans (DAPs). You can google and see. Some of them require repayment, some are forgiven after a certain amount of time, some are just free money.

      Gift funds, as mentioned. The lender will have a specific gift letter form for you and the giver to fill out. If you know you’ll be getting a gift (a good rule of thumb is it’s considered a gift if the amount is more tha 25% of your gross monthly income), have the money deposited BEFORE you apply, when possible. It makes the paperwork simpler. You’ll need to explain it still, but just simpler.

      Good luck!

      1. Natalie*

        Just a note on the gift funds – my lender actually recommended *not* having the money transferred to me before I applied as apparently the paperwork requirements are more onerous. It was wired directly from the gifter to my title company.

    5. Florida*

      I was able to save for a down payment because I lived with my parents for a few years. They made me pay rent, but it certainly wasn’t market rate rent. I was able to save a lot of money. That’s not an option, or not desirable, for everyone. But that’s how I did it.

      And yes, it sounds like you live in a very expensive area.

    6. Revanche*

      Yeah, where we are, the pricing would range from $400-675k for that :( It does just take a long time, diligent savings, and cutting expenses for a long while to get there. In some ways, it’s just best to get started on saving right now while you’re casually looking. If you don’t feel the need to buy anytime soon, the saving process will feel less painful if you start “early”.

  29. Audiophile*

    I broke it off with the fader. And I already have one or two dates, maybe.

    He took it well, surprisingly texted back and said he was sorry and that I’m a good peron. I didn’t respond to his text, I didn’t want to get into a back and forth.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Good for you, audiophile – and I hope you enjoy your future dates when they come.

    2. EvilQueenRegina*

      While I don’t know the whole story of this (is it possibly something I’ve missed on another open thread?) if this person’s a fader it’s most likely best to break it off with him. Great coming from me I know (see below).

      1. Audiophile*

        I’ve mentioned him in a few open threads now. The short version is after seeing a lot of each other during May, I started to sense I was getting the fade. He answered a few texts but didn’t seem interested in seeing each other, so I called it.
        That is unlike me, usually I’ll fade (which I’d started to do when I sensed him fading) if I’m disinterested or I sense someone fading.

  30. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Vancouver-area readers!

    Can you bear another cat-related post from me? A month or so ago, someone here posted a link to http://livestream.com/tinykittens/eve and I’ve been obsessing over it ever since. The kittens are now old enough to be adopted, and apparently they’re not getting as many applications as they had hoped for. I am obsessed with these kittens and so want to see them go to good homes. I would seriously adopt the mom cat herself if I lived closer to Vancouver (they’re in Langley BC), but I cannot, so one of you must! These are the greatest kittens and mother cat I have ever seen. (I have spent hours watching them.)

    If one or more of you gives these cats homes, I will find some awesome AAM-related way to thank you (turn over the column to you for a day, review your resumes for life, or something).

    1. Today's anon*

      Every time it’s adoption time, I think about moving to Vancouver and now with this offer…I might just have to consider it even more seriously. Be prepared – it is really hard to see them go after getting to know them.

    2. INTP*

      Awwww. I’m not in Vancouver and I’m allergic to cats, but I opened up the webcam link, and the black one was pouncing the stuffed fish and then skittering away like the fish might pounce back. Cutest thing ever.

    3. Hattie McDoogal*

      Curse my husband’s cat allergies. :( I passed the link to my cat-loving BFF, though, who might be full up for cats herself but she knows many other cat lovers.

    4. Shell*

      I am in the Vancouver area but I’m allergic to cats. :(

      Hope someone will give them a home!

    5. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)*

      Eve is a fantastic cat. I think all she wants is a window and some quiet!

  31. Anonsie*

    Does anyone have a good cobbler recipe they could share? It’s berries and peaches and nectarines season and I want to make a cobbler but I’ve actually never tried it before and there seems to be a lot of variation in how they’re done.

    1. Treena*

      Honestly, I just throw something together by feel. Fruit sometimes with sugar, sometimes without but never more than 1/4 cup. You can add a tablespoon or 2 of cornstarch to make it less soupy. Toppings, I let a stick of butter soften and mix in 1/2c-1 cup of sugar, some flour, oats and a dash of salt. You can add chopped nuts and cinnamon, and then I just mash it all with my hands and pat it on top, bake on 350 for 30-45 mins. I’ve made hundreds of cobblers this way, and 99% of them are delicious.

      1. Treena*

        I just realized I’ve been calling a crisp a cobbler. I made real cobbler once and it was delicious, but I prefer the oats and chewiness, the softness of the fruit + dough just isn’t for me.

    2. CAA*

      My favorite is actually a buckle instead of a cobbler. I think it’s originally from America’s Test Kitchen. (Buckle is cake batter with fruit, cobbler is biscuit dough over fruit.)

      Fruit Buckle
      6 T butter
      3/4 c flour
      3/4 c sugar
      1 t baking powder
      1/4 t salt
      3/4 c milk
      2 c sliced stone fruits or berries

      Preheat oven to 350.
      Melt butter in 8″ square pan in hot oven.
      Mix dry ingredients together then stir in milk.
      Pour batter into pan with melted butter, do not stir.
      Spoon fruit over batter, sprinkle top with a spoonful sugar.
      Bake until top is browned and cake is done, approx 45 mins.

      1. CAA*

        Between this post and some good looking nectarines at today’s farmers’ market, I got inspired and made one of these today. I forgot until I was making it that I usually put a teaspoon of vanilla extract in the cake batter.

    3. Venn*

      Here’s our family’s recipe:

      4 cups peaches (we prefer fresh Georgia peaches in late July or August)
      2 cups sugar, divided
      1 stick butter, unsalted
      1 cup flour
      2 tsp baking powder
      1/2 tsp sals
      3/4 cup milk

      Combine peaches and 1 cup sugar and let set for a few minutes.
      Melt butter in 9 x 13 dish.
      Combine rest of ingredients until all lumps are gone. Pour over butter, and spoon fruit on top.
      Bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes.

  32. Rebecca*

    Second post. I read an article last weekend on Forbes “Billionaire Bunkers: Exclusive Look Inside the World’s Largest Planned Doomsday Escape”. I thought it was thought provoking. I thought of a few questions.

    1. Do they really think they’ll just fly in there, tell their staff to stay outside the door, and just walk in?
    2. Who is going to maintain all of the machinery and day to day systems?
    3. Internet access? What internet? If the SHTF, I doubt there will still be a world wide web as we know it.
    4. The shelter will be resupplied, but from where and whom?
    5. And this is my biggest wonder: what do they think will happen when they open the doors one day, and walk out? Do they think that people will fall all over them, and their lives will just continue as before? I highly doubt it. I think they’ll be in for a very harsh awakening.

    1. Steve G*

      These are good questions but too much for my brain to handle when I am sick. But I did ponder some of these items when Hurricane Sandy hit NYC where I live and there was some serious mayhem here, gas shortages, people not being able to get to work, elderly people who relied on outside help being isolated…..it totally cut the allure of living in Manhattan by like 1/2 for me, because lower Manhattan had so many horror stories of flooding and no electricity. Goes to show that money can’t protect you from everything…

        1. catsAreCool*

          It’s odd. I keep feeling like if I had the time or was willing to budget for someone else to do it (and if the HOA approved it), I’d love to replace my lawn with a mixture of easy-care bushes that don’t need a lot of water and ground cover that hopefully doesn’t need much care but is OK to be walked on. The only reasons I don’t do it is because it seems like too much work right now, and I’m a little concerned it might affect the house resale value.

          Maybe rich suburbanites don’t worry about how much they spend on water and lawn care? Lawns are a pain!

        2. Steve G*

          I just read this and the rich people…kind of have a point (though I probably would feel differently if I saw low lakes/rivers). I don’t think water rationing is something that needs a top down policy approach. To use an example from my past job – the NYS and NYC governments keep rolling out more and higher-paying rebates to switch out inefficient energy users (old HVAC, high wattage lighting, etc.) and replace them with newer, more efficiency units.

          The government doesn’t expect people to say “wow, it is hard to get power into NYC, let me take it upon myself to help out those utilities!” No, they need to be incentivized to do so. And they didn’t expect the incentives to work overnight. I think water should be handled the same way. Give rebates/incentives for not growing lawns, pool removals, and adding in irrigation systems that use “gray water” to water plants.

          1. Steve G*

            I meant: I DO think water rationing is something that needs a top down policy approach (besides just telling people to use less)”

      1. Venn*

        Hurricane Sandy was a real eye-opener for me in terms of thinking about NYC, as I always thought of New Yorkers as so street smart. But there were several news reports of all the poor conditions due to so many people shitting in the hallways of their apartment complexes (there was no water to flush the toilets inside their apartments. PEOPLE: THIS IS WHY YOU FILL A TUB WITH WATER WHEN A BIG STORM IS COMING. Not necessarily to drink, though it could be used for that, but primarily for flushing toilets, having water to clean yourself and dishes, to cook with, etc.). I mean if even the basics aren’t of interest or are too below them to know then there’s really little hope for anything lasting longer than 5 days.

        1. Observer*

          A bathtub full of water won’t last very long for flushing. Keep in mind that water wasn’t off for 2-3 hours, but more like 2-3 DAYS (or more) in many buildings.

          1. Judy*

            Low flow toilets are 1.6 gallon flushes. Average 5 foot bathtub is about 50 gallons. That’s more than 31 flushes, and you only need to flush #2. That should handle a family of 4 for more than 2-3 days.

            1. Observer*

              Assuming that everyone HAS a low flush toilet and an “average” bathtub that they can fill up to the top, that they are able to flush properly with the minimum amount of water, that no family is over 4 people and that no family members are children, people with upset stomachs, etc. that makes some sense. In the real world, it’s nowhere that simple. And, that also assumes that people had good reason to expect how long power would be out – this was something that totally took most people by surprise.

              1. ThursdaysGeek*

                When I was a kid, something happened, and there was no water in town for about a week. My mum did have a few hours warning, and we did have a normal sized bathtub. But we also had 1 water sucking toilet, 2 adults, probably 4-5 kids, plus 3 more foster kids (because their mother couldn’t handle them with no water in the house). With all that, the bathtub full of water was enough to last for the week. The pitchers and other containers of water she filled provided enough drinking and cooking water.

                1. Observer*

                  Yes, sometimes it works out. But, there are lots of times when it doesn’t. Also, were you guys house bound? Lots of people in these building were.

    2. danr*

      They ought to read Lucifer’s Hammer, by Niven and Pournelle, on life after a comet slams into the Earth.

    3. just look at them and sigh*

      This concept has been around for a number of years. Whenever I think about it, I imagine that as soon as the world goes pear-shaped, the staff at this place is going to shut the doors and lock it up tight. If some billionaire shows up and bangs on the door demanding to be let in because he paid for it – i apologize for my lack of faith in the innate goodness of human nature, but – they just aren’t gonna open that door.

      There are a couple of movies that are sorta on-target here: When Worlds Collide and (more recent and a whole lot more disturbing) The Divide.

  33. TheLazyB*

    I am sick :( my DS woke me at about 6.30am (it’s nearly 2pm here) and i was dozing off again when i though hmmm… bathroom. Still can’t go far away now :(

    This would just be annoying but we are at my parents’ house. DH has had to go home leaving DS and i to get the train tomorrow afternoon. It’s fathers’ day so DH hasn’t had his lie in or a big fuss made and now he’s had to go back to an empty house, and it’s DS’s birthday tomorrow :( we had loads of plans!

    Feeling very sorry for myself. Just wanted to moan really but if anyone can send get-well vibes in the general direction of north west england that would be much appreciated!

    Hope y’all are having a much better weekend than me!!!

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Aw, I’m sorry to hear you’re not feeling very well :( I hope you start to feel better soon and just curl up with a nice big duvet and be kind to yourself.

    2. The Cosmic Avenger*

      Hope you feel better soon! Sending vibes…now that you’ve said NW England, all I can picture is Chester, which was one of our stops on our honeymoon 20 years ago!

      1. TheLazyB*

        Ooooh we’re not right near Chester but it’s not too far away! Lovely place. Haven’t been in years. Maybe we’ll visit next time :)

    3. Elizabeth West*

      Awww, no! I’m sorry. Here are some vibes ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ and a bowl of chicken soup. ~D| (That’s steam, a bowl, and a plate, if you turn your head sideways LOL)

      1. TheLazyB*

        Oh awesome thank you! :) i am veggie so by the power of the internet i will transform it into veggie soup ;)

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Elizabeth, you are so creative with the things you can send people over the internet: vibes, bowls of soup, hugs, ass-kickings (with or without skates) . . .

    4. Steve G*

      Urgh, I am sick too. I went to my dad’s for father’s day yesterday and was in major NYC traffic both ways. I felt seriously gross on the way back and as soon as I got home I vomited. I feel like I’m dying.

        1. Steve G*

          Thanks! But I guess I don’t deserve any sympathy. I wore myself down going out drinking and taking a trillion hours to get home (and no taxis wanted to take me out of Manhattan) and I haven’t felt great since then, then I got officially sick. I’m so stupid, can’t be doing this anymore!!

  34. Carrie in Scotland*

    I’ve been on/off going to ask this for a while but either forgot or just never gotten around to it.

    What song(s) remind you of a time in your life?

    I’ll start: Run – Snow Patrol reminds me of my mum as she called it the “light up, light up song” as does almost all early Coldplay songs – she played the first album on repeat every day for a year.

    Romeo and Juliet – Dire Straits reminds me of the first time I had a “song” with a boyfriend and I’m transported to the first time I heard it when we first started going out.

    1. TheLazyB*

      Romeo and Juliet! Aww. My first boyf played it on the piano for me. (Which sounds nice, but looking back? He was a bit of a mansplainer. So, yeah.)

      It’s funny you’re posting this now – last weekend i watched that programme about the 90s being the decade which changed the world* and all the music transported me back – early 90s end of secondary/sixth form; mid 90s uni; late 90s… well the less said about the late 90s the better. But still, the music transported me back… compilations and clubbing and people i liked and people i hated, good times and bad times… sigh.

      1. TheLazyB*

        * “the decade that changed the world”?! Err which decade doesn’t?! Silly tv programme names.

      2. Carrie in Scotland*

        Mixtapes!! I missed that 90s thing…the whole talking head thing starts to annoy me when I just want to watch the clips/listen to the music.


        1. TheLazyB*

          Posted a mansplaining link but not sure it worked :-/ basically he used to assume i needed everything explained whether i knew more about it than him or not.

    2. Elkay*

      Hey Ya is definitely my song from uni. We used to flick through the music channels when we got home to find it. I went to an exhibition all about music videos at the EMP museum in Seattle last summer and it made me nostalgic for a time when I used to watch music videos whenever there was nothing on TV, now I browse the web or watch Netflix.

    3. Not helpful*

      Will date myself
      Starland Vocal band – “Afternoon Delight” – college
      Beatles – “Hey, Jude’ – summer camp
      Buoys – “Timothy” – friend from high school, I have no idea why my friends and his twin thought this was a good idea to play. Tim had been in a car accident while on his bicycle and had gotten quite banged up.

      1. fposte*

        Summer camp music is *indelible*. And I wasn’t the one with the tape player, so I had no choice in the matter, but Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Peter Allen’s “I Go to Rio” will instantly transport me.

        1. Mimmy*

          For some odd reason, I didn’t bring my tapes with me when I went to summer camp–I must not have thought I could play them. Anyway, good thing I liked what everyone else played. When I arrived at the cabin, the first thing I heard was Whitney Houston–I knew I was in the right place ;)

    4. nep*

      Any Beatles — Christmastime with family and friends years back
      Any Sinatra, Bobby Darin, or Antonio Carlos Jobim — When we were kids, dad in the basement cleaning or working on some project
      ‘My Sharona’ — one summer at the cottage we used to rent each year

    5. Steve G*

      Cool, I thought I was the only one who loved Dire Straits/Romeo and Juliet. Of course it came out when I was born so the only Dire Straits song I remember being new was Walk of life, but because of that I dug backwards and found this song and was replayed it a 1000X a few summers ago.

      1. Steve G*

        But to answer your question, anything late 80s always reminds of things from my childhood and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. My favorite late-80s mix (and pardon the cheesiness) is Pet Shop Boys Always on my Mind and What have I done to deserve this, Heart – Alone, Jody Whatley – Don’t you want me, Martika – Toy Soldier, Suzanne Vega – Luka, When in Rome – Promise, Expose – Point of on Return, Def Leppard – Bringing on the Heartache and Love Bites.

        1. Mimmy*

          *high-fives fellow late-80s music fan* Some of the songs you listed definitely take me back.

          1. Steve G*

            I went to a wedding last year as a date so didn’t know the people, but it was all late 80s/very early 90s music. There was a big group of us dancing/singing these songs out loud the whole time, it was awesome!

        2. TheLazyB*

          Def lepard – pour some sugar on me!
          Ah…. memories of daft nights out :)

          Ah crap whats that dire straits ‘we gotta move those colour tvs’ song called? That reminds me of my uncle mansplaining it to my (admittedly male, but young) cousins. Anyway, still love it.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      May find myself rambling on a bit about this.

      Can’t Fight The Moonlight by Leann Rimes – I was in my first year at university and there was this guy who had a crush on me – at the time, I wasn’t interested. I knew about it because his friends had all told me but he finally asked me out himself not long before Christmas and I felt really horrible about saying no but I just didn’t feel that way at the time and didn’t feel it was fair to go into a relationship knowing that. Anyway, this song was playing during that conversation. Next day, my roommate, who had just been dumped by one of this guy’s friends (don’t ask) bought the Coyote Ugly soundtrack, which that song is on, played it all the time for the next week so this reminder was constantly in my face but given that she’d just been dumped I felt I had to grit my teeth and listen to it.

      I did actually end up getting together with that guy later on, only to find out that actually he had another girlfriend in the background the whole time, but that’s another story. But it kind of leads me on to my next song: When I was with this ex, he and his friends tended to spend all their time in the same pub, as did this blonde guy who used to play Summer of 69 an excessive amount on the jukebox and it got to the point where it became a petty feud with that clique who used to retaliate with Mustang Sally. They used to have this long running argument as well over whether Lola in the Kinks song was a man or a woman. So all those songs pretty much remind me of my second year at university.

      Who The F*** Is Alice reminds me of 1995 as my stepbrother was obsessed with the song at the time and wouldn’t stop playing it. 20 years on I still have the damn song memorised.

      There may be more but I already shared quite a lot there so will shut up.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        The Alice song! I remember dancing around to that in my living room when I was little
        & also, I now have My Sharona in my head.

        1. EvilQueenRegina*

          My family first heard Alice while stuck in a traffic jam on the M6. That day it was funny. After the amount of times my stepbrother played it it lost its appeal.

    7. just look at them and sigh*

      I was exposed to a lot of different kinds of music when I was a kid (I was born in 1960). Some of the things that stuck with me most are:

      In The Court of the Crimson King by King Crimson (1969) (my parents did not like “21st Century Schizoid Man”)
      Jesus Christ Superstar (1970) (esp the minor key, fucked-up parts like Judas’ death)
      Wendy Carlos’ “Timesteps” (the complete version) (1972) (also extremely unpopular with my parents)
      “American Pie” by Don McLean (1971)
      “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple (1972)
      “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent (1972)
      “Trilogy” by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (1972)
      “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder (1972)
      Brain Salad Surgery by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer (1973) (that early exposure to H. R. Giger could not have been good)
      Close to the Edge (1973) by Yes
      Space Ritual (1973) by Hawkwind
      Billion Dollar Babies (1973) by Alice Cooper

      My parents were searching my room for drugs when I was like 11yo. Which is funny now, looking back, because most of this stuff is unbelievably tame by today’s standards.

        1. just look at them and sigh*

          Thanks :) I still listen to all of this stuff, and it still mostly plays well today. Although I have to confess that the list doesn’t mention some of the umm “lesser” musical acts that did not withstand the test of time so well … like, there was this glam-rock band called Angel … Judas Priest’s Sad Wings of Destiny … Styx’s 4th album Man of Miracles … Ted Nugent’s Cat Scratch Fever … O the shame … help me … I’m melting … I’m … m-melt … ing ….

    8. Trixie*

      U2’s Mysterious Ways will always take me back to my first adult best friend. Twenty years later, I know she always thinks of me as well when she hears it.

  35. Steve G*

    Does anyone do or want to try dream interpretations?

    For the past few years I’ve had dreams about big fish tanks and having to rush to take care of all of them. Usually there are about 5 tanks 30-40 gallons, and I spend the dream running around feeding them, checking the filters, wondering why the tanks can’t be consolidated, and/or freaking out about the water being bad or a tank having broken parts. I do have an aquarium, but still don’t get why I have such stressful dreams about them so often.

    Also, a few weeks ago I dreamed I was in a big fancy log house in the woods, it was a clear day, and then there was a wind storm, and I watched a bunch of tall, thin trees snap and fall down. I left the cabin and walked down the road, which was lightly wooded with openings of tall grass….and heard/saw a few more trees snapping/falling down.

    Any ideas?

    1. nep*

      No ideas about those — I’m not into interpreting dreams. But it’s funny — if I ever mention a dream to my mom she says something like, ‘There’s probably something to that — you should look up what that means.’

      1. Steve G*

        I’m not having luck with the online dream dictionaries. Most of them are pretty limited…

        1. nep*

          My mom used to have a really old book on dream interpretation that covered so many (and weird, random) dream ‘subjects’; she received it from a neighbour who was something of a clairvoyant and swore by interpreting one’s dreams.

    2. JMW*

      Because you have an aquarium in your life, it will have a specific symbolism for you that is different from others, so a dream dictionary is unlikely to be of much help. I use a constellation method for dream interpretation. Take all of the elements of your dream and write them on a piece of paper with space around them. In your first dream, you might write fish tanks, feeding, fish, filters, bad water, broken parts, and consolidation. Then around each word write all of your associations with those words. Finally, compare your constellations and look for relationships that might give you insight.

      Another helpful way to look at dreams is to consider each part of the dream an aspect of yourself. What aspect of you is represented by fish, particularly fish in tanks (so not free, kept as pets)? Does this aspect of yourself need feeding? consolidating? emotional repair (bad water)? or filtering?

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t know- do you feel like your life is not pulling together? Do you feel like your major goals in life are in danger of falling apart? (It does not matter if your life is or is not pulling together- what matters is how you FEEL about it. It could be that you are doing quite well in life but your mind/heart have not caught up to that reality yet.)

      Sometimes dreams allow us to explore ideas that we would not think about in our waking hours. What if my goal falls apart? What if my life doesn’t come together as it should? These are good questions actually. Do you have Plan B’s for the important things in life such as transportation and shelter?

      Other times dreams can simply be a warning to get to a doctor and have a check up. Do you have something that is on-going such as annoying wrist pain? (I read that in Ann Landers decades ago, and I have held on to it. It’s very helpful info.)

      I used to put a lot into thinking through my dreams but sometimes it just boils down to we cannot believe that we are okay/safe in life and our sleep time is filled with doubt and worry that we do not address during our waking hours.

    4. danr*

      My dreams can usually be traced back to books that I’ve read, tv and movies and childhood explorations that really stuck in my mind. Sometimes it takes awhile to trace them back. Sometimes the dreams get all jumbled up and intermix. I don’t worry about them.

    5. Lulubell*

      The first one sounds like a classic anxiety dream. The fish tanks are just a visual manifestation your mind uses since you are familiar with them. Mine usually revolve around getting to the airport (I can’t find clothes to pack, I can’t dial the phone for the cab, the cab isn’t coming, I can’t find my gate, etc.) or I’m back in college and can’t get to class or something. Something familiar to my life, but just a means of expressing feelings, not the subject of the feelings themselves.

      For the second one, I would examine how it made you feel. Were you scared/did you sense danger? Sadness? Were you worried about the trees hitting you, or were you removed from the situation and just observing? Since the snapping/falling followed you, is there something in your life you feel like you are trying to escape from? Could it be that you are worried about opportunities falling away? (I ask because we are on a job board). Or something opening up? Again, I don’t think it’s the visuals themselves (trees, woods) as much as how the dream made you feel.

      1. Steve G*

        In the dream I didn’t feel anything (actually if anything I was thinking that I wish I could afford a house in a place like that because they’d be $500k+ where I’m from:-)) but I did see official dream interpretations that said falling trees = going down a wrong path in life, which isn’t an interpretation I’m crazy about, so I want other possible interpretations

        1. Lulubell*

          Could it be about fragility, or how quickly things can change? You wrote: “it was a clear day, and then there was a wind storm, and I watched a bunch of tall, thin trees snap and fall down.” The words “storm” and “snap” stuck out to me. Or maybe it’s a fear of getting too comfortable. You have the perfect house (or ___) and things start to fall apart around it.

    6. EvilQueenRegina*

      I have this recurring dream about a spiral staircase in what appears to be a castle, and I keep trying to climb it but never seem to get anywhere and have no idea what’s at the top. Those who know your Harry Potter, it reminded me recently of when Harry had that dream about the room in the Ministry of Magic and couldn’t get in there.

      The weird thing is that I have always been scared of this type of staircase. I think I may have fallen down one and broken my neck in a former life.

    7. Just look at them and sigh*

      This may just be me, although I’ve noticed that it will often work well for other people: the “trick” is that all of the details and minutiae don’t matter. The dream about servicing the fish tanks … I know it’s simplistic, but it’s probably indicative of some work or chores you’ve got coming up, important stuff that might be tricky.

      I know there are people and books that try to go into more detail, but – just me – I’m not convinced the detail is valid. It’s great stuff for prose and poetry and the arts, though: for instance, the song Silent Shout by The Knife contains a line where the singer has a dream about her teeth falling out (which tends to be interpreted as “insecurity”) which makes sense in the context of the song – but in real life? I’m not convinced.

      Having said that, I know for a fact that my brain crunches away and thinks about stuff when I’m asleep. But it’s not like it sends me email about it.

      1. Steve G*

        I had a teeth falling out dream once and read that it had to do with serious health issues, and it finally made me go to the doctor about some issues I’d been having, and lo and behold, some issues…so I kind of see the function of that “standard” dream as a way for your body to warn you that something is up, and teeth falling out is a major visible way to show a problem, and to show that you can no longer hide it.

        This is one of the reasons I like to not read dream interpretations – I don’t want to read “a dream about teeth = whatever” and then 10 years later have the dream, and think it’s so profound, and not realize I’m just dreaming about something I read about.

        I also see a difference between “regular” dreams which for me are just short/flashes and images, and the one about the falling trees, which was one of maybe 1 dream per year that feels real. When a dream feels real and you feel like you have more than one sense during it (sight), I attach more meaning to it…..

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          I used to have a lot of dreams about my teeth falling out and/or swallowing them… I never heard the serious health issue interpretation but I hate to admit that, looking back, when I was having those dreams I did have an undiagnosed condition that was making me miserable. I had read somewhere else that teeth falling out or swallowing them meant you were eating your words/not expressing something that you wanted to.

          I have had dreams of fish tanks, too. I used to keep fish as a kid but not for a few decades *cough* Anyway, every so often, I have a dream where it’s my fish tank and it seems devoid of life but when I get close up, there are all kinds of little baby fish in there. I then go through a series of “that’s amazing!” feelings, followed by “how did this happen?” and then feeling like I have to do a good job taking care of them/feeling protective of them. I sometimes felt a little sad when I woke up that it wasn’t real because they were so pretty — but no, I genuinely do not want another fish tank (although my cats would be fascinated by it).

          If my subconscious is trying to tell me something, I wish it would just do it flat out in plain English!

    8. catsAreCool*

      The aquarium dream makes me think that maybe you have more things going on and more responsibilities than you really have time for. But I don’t know much about dream interpretation.

  36. The IT Manager*

    Haven’t been in a book/reading mood the last couple of weeks, but I finished all my podcasts so I am now listening to The Wedding Gift by Marlin Suyapa Bodden the story of a slave the child of the cook and the plantation owner who will be given to her half sister the plantation owner’s legitimate child as a wedding gifts. It’s good but realistic so obviously dark and not happy. I’m 20% done so far and at the rate I’m going, I’ll finish in the next few days.

  37. Not Sure What to Do*

    I need some advice for a serious situation. Going anon for this one…

    A friend of mine, “Mary”, called me this morning in tears. She told me that she found out that her husband, “Stan”, inappropriately touched his niece, “Leslie” (his blood relative, her niece by marriage). Apparently he grabbed her breast and her rear. Mary said that she asked Leslie’s parents about it and they confirmed. She then asked Leslie to forward the text messages, which she did. (Apparently Stan also made some inappropriate comments to her via text. She told me what they said and while it’s not graphic, it’s definitely suggestive.) The niece is 18 right now, but this happened back in the Fall, so I’m not sure if she was 17 at the time; Mary isn’t sure either.

    Some background on Mary and Stan. Maybe it’s relevant, maybe it’s not. They’ve been married many years and most of it has been rocky: lots of trust issues, cheating, etc. Mary recently moved out on her own and Stan is still at their house with their son and daughter (20 and 21 yrs. old, respectively) and the daughter’s friend (21 yrs old). The plan is to divorce eventually. Over the last couple years he’s come to know that Stan is…I don’t know what the right word is…a pervert? Sex crazed? I don’t know. Awhile back she found lots of messages he exchanged with women who do sex chats and videos, that sort of thing. It was apparent that he engages a lot with these people. Also, he likes to flirt and make sexually suggestive comments to Mary’s friends and his Facebook friends (who are ALL women); I know, I’ve witnessed it.

    Understandably, Mary worries that this could have happened to her daughter at some point over the years. She hasn’t said anything to Stan yet that she knows what he did to Leslie. A family friend told Mary she should stage an intervention with Stan. My reaction was that it was a bad idea. He doesn’t think he has a problem so all he’s going to do s deny it. And all that does is say, “Hey, you’re a perv and you need help.” It doesn’t force him into getting help and it doesn’t address what I see as the criminal nature of the situation with is niece. She wasn’t sure if she should confront Stan herself. My advice to her was to first, make an appointment with her therapist (she’s been going to one off and on for years and also takes anti-depressants) because she was a mess this morning and said repeatedly that she couldn’t deal with it, plus she’s facing divorce on top of that. I told her to then consult with a lawyer. If the niece was 17 at the time, I’d tell her to report, but I’m not so sure what she should do if it turns out she was 18. Finally, don’t say anything to him until she does those two things first.

    Anyone have any advice? I just don’t know if the niece would have to report it herself if she was an adult at the time, or if someone else can report it. How should she talk to her daughter about this and try to find out if something happened to her? How could this affect the divorce? I’m sure there’s lots more to think about.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Ugh, how awful.

      I second the idea that she should talk to a therapist before she does anything. In particular, she should discuss if it makes sense to try to open a conversation with her daughter about what’s going on (I think she probably should, in case anything did happen with the daughter, but she should get professional advice on that).

      I do not think she should report it on the niece’s behalf. The niece is 18 now, an adult, and should get to decide for herself whether she wants to go that route or not. It’s not Mary’s place to take that choice away from her. However, Mary should make it very clear to the niece that she supports her in whatever she decides.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreeing with this. Yes, please tell Mary to talk with her daughter.

        And please tell her to get to a therapist* to sort all that is coming at her. Make sure she understands that you think this is a lot for anyone to go through and no one should attempt to do this without additional support.

        It could be he has a sex addiction or maybe he is just a plain jackass. Of course, we have no idea what the root cause of his problem is and there is no way to find out.

        *Therapist. I am not sure how this works, but if the therapist is under mandate to report the abuse, I say let the chips fall where they may. Let the therapist report it and let nature run its course.

        1. Florida*

          I believe, but I’m not 100% sure, that the therapist is required to report abuse to a minor. It’s unclear whether the victim here is a minor or not. This also depends on what country and/or state the person lives in.

          I don’t think Mary should talk to her daughter right away. Mary should talk to the therapist. Let the therapist guide Mary on how to proceed with that. (I think that’s what you are saying, but not sure.)

          Lastly, there are therapist who specialize in sex abuse. If Mary does not have a therapist yet, I would find one of these people who specialize.

      2. Observer*

        As you can see by my reply later, I doubt anything happened to the daughter, but a therapist with experience in this type of issue would have better guidance.

        However, even without that, there is another issue which means that a conversation needs to happen. This guy clearly goes after young women and doesn’t have appropriate boundaries. And he has a 21 year old young woman living in his house. This young woman is the daughter’s friend. In other words, daughter is actually putting her friend at risk by having her live in the house! Yes, she’s legally an adult, and at 21 probably a bit more mature than the niece, but when you are living in someone else’s house, you are always more vulnerable, and someone who goes after vulnerable young women is not likely to overlook that.

    2. Also going anon*

      Anyone who has knowledge of it can report it. If the niece was a minor, depending on what state you are in, any adult who knows and does not report it is breaking the law (This varies by state. In some states, only teachers, day care workers, and similar-type adults are required to report.) Once the police begin their investigation, they will need the niece’s cooperation. If the niece does not want them to cooperate, the police will decide if there is enough evidence without her testimony. But as far as the initial reporting, anyone can do it. Most police departments have way to report things anonymously, so that might be an option as well.

      I would recommend that your friend go to a therapist. The therapist can help her work through how to best talk to her own daughter. I would also recommend that the niece see a therapist. Lastly, I recommend that your friend report what she knows to the police and turn the texts and any other evidence that she has over to the police. There is a family member of mine who abused another relative. The victim was either 17 or 18 at the time, not sure. As far as we know, there is only one victim. The wife of the abuser chose to ignore it (she and the abuser claim he was sleepwalking). When I first learned about it, I was more pissed off at the wife for protecting everyone but the victim than I was at the abuser. I talked to the victim about it and he feels the same way. He feels more betrayed by the wife of the abuser because she knew and pretended it didn’t happen.

      I can’t stress enough that I would report this to the police and let the police and state prosecutor decide how to handle it. It is not your friend’s job to investigate and decide if there is enough evidence, any other victims, etc.

      1. Not Sure What to Do*

        Yes, she finally found a good therapist. She’s no-nonsense and is really good at probing. Her other therapist basically sees her for 5 minutes every time she needs a refill on her prescription. I told her to go to the new one she’s being seeing off and on for the last year.

    3. fposte*

      Other people have said the important things, but what stands out here to me is that this was pretty clearly assault, and that’s very different to me than garden-variety sex chats and Omegle stuff. Sure, the two can meet up, but lots of people who love porny chat don’t assault people, and they certainly don’t assault their relatives. I don’t think there’s anything an intervention could achieve here–there isn’t a Rapey Asshole Rehab to send him to even if he wanted to, and I think it would just tie Mary more tightly to a man she’s apparently–and wisely–trying to disentangle from.

      I doubt that this action could come up in the divorce unless it was reported; however, it’s also not likely, I think, to have much effect on the outcome at this point, at least not in most states. The kids are adults, so there’s no custody issue, and I think just about all states have (but not all require) no-fault divorce now; anything other than no-fault is longer and more expensive and uglier. I suppose it could be relevant in one of those old-school courtrooms with a judge who treats spousal support as a penalty for a misbehaving ex, but it would still likely require dragging it all out in open court and proving it.

      I think she should 1) go to a therapist; 2) find out Leslie’s wishes 3) call a lawyer, preferably all next week. I’d ask the therapist both about the daughter and the daughter’s friend, who are both apparently living under Stan’s roof. I’d certainly consider reiterating to the daughter that there’s always a place for her with Mary, even if it means sleeping on the couch.

      1. Florida*

        Agree with your comment about assault. Sex chat, porn, etc. are about sex, but sex abuse is not about sex. It’s about power.

    4. Observer*

      I haven’t read the replies yet…

      This is a really rough situation. Talking to her therapist as step one is an excellent piece of advice.

      I would think it’s unlikely that Stan has molested his daughter – a niece and child are very different in this context. Also, there is a difference between being inappropriate (even as wildly as Stan appears to have been) with a young adult (which a 17 year old is) and a child. I would find it hard to believe that an adult daughter would be willing to stay with her father (and if she’s there, it