weekend free-for-all – July 11-12, 2015

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: Emma, by Jane Austen. Because it is the perfect book, and Mr. Knightley is a better love interest than Mr. Darcy.

{ 884 comments… read them below }

  1. Mimmy

    Anyone here ever had, or know anyone who had, MRSA? It looks like one of my nieces may have it (there’s a “community” version; the other type is found mostly in hospitals or nursing homes) and I’m just curious as to what she can expect (I think my sister is taking her to the hospital later today). She’s was up and about this morning, but does have a fever and doesn’t feel well.

    Please keep her in your thoughts.

    1. cuppa

      My mom had it after she had surgery, so the hospital one.

      My understanding is that a lot of the prognosis depends on where the infection is/how much it has taken hold of in the body. The deeper it gets into the body, the harder it is to get without serious actions.
      My mom’s got into her bone in her leg, and there was some talk of amputation, so it can be very serious. Fortunately, they were able to get rid of it without resorting to that. She got a PICC line and had a nurse come to the house and give her iv antibiotics (I think not everyday, but definitely multiple times per week. Probably every other day). She said it burned going into her, and of course you have to keep the port cleaned and covered and all that fun stuff. That process lasted a couple of months.
      I’m happy to report that my mom is fully recovered and has had no ill effects, except that now if she goes into the hospital that automatically require everyone to have a gown and a mask because she’s “high-risk”.

      Good luck, I hope things turn out for your niece. It’s no fun and quite scary.

    2. danr

      My mother had the nursing home variety. The idiot “infectious disease specialist” in the hospital wouldn’t do a culture on a cyst that developed on her skin until her gp went around him and ordered the tests. The standard antibiotics didn’t do a thing. After the culture was done, the correct antibiotics were given and she was better in a day and discharged to rehab in two days. She made a full recovery but it took time and drained her immensely. The particular bacteria was a type of staph that is found on the skin. It entered through a break in the skin after a fall.
      Good thoughts and karma on the way.

    3. Sara

      I had the community variety a little over 2 years ago. I developed a small cyst just below my nose that caused my lower face to puff up quite a bit on the one side, so I went to the doctor and they did a culture and wrote me a prescription. My fever wasn’t bad, but I remember feeling really worn out almost immediately, and that lasted through the course of antibiotics. My face looked pretty awful for quite a few days, and the cyst was almost constantly draining for three or four days, which was gross, but better out than in, right?

      1. Mimmy

        Is it contagious? My niece wouldn’t hug anyone goodbye (today was the last day of our week at the shore) because she didn’t want to risk getting anyone sick.

        1. danr

          Yes, if there are sores on the skin, it is contagious. If the skin is covered, it’s safe to hug. My mother was determined to come to Thanksgiving, but my wife is immnosuppressed and she wouldn’t come unless we could be assured that transmittal would be non-existent. We checked with our own GPs to find out about transmittal. They told us about covering the skin. The rehab place put loose bandages on her arms and everything turned out fine.

        2. Sara

          Nobody who had any casual contact with me developed it afterwords. I was super careful about discarding any tissues/gauze/etc. that I used when draining and cleaning the cyst so that nobody else would have contact with them (like when emptying the trash, for example), and I washed my hands like a madwoman. So I’d advise caution, but as long as friends and family members don’t touch the affected area, they’ll probably be okay.

    4. Sherm

      I’ve had the community, skin version 4 times. They were like painful pimples that burst on their own. In my case, it was never really serious, and I hope the same is true for your niece. It’s been now 3 years since my last flare-up, so I think/hope that’s the last of that!

    5. Mimmy

      Thanks for the responses so far. Lethargy is definitely something my niece is also experience plus a fever. She is the oldest of 3 sisters; one sister also has a rash and is on antibiotics, but her case seems to be minor (probably due to the hot tub at the house). At first, we thought it was bed bugs because the three girls slept in the same room all week (the rashes started Thursday) and I think all started with the rash at the same time.

      I don’t think the diagnosis is official, but that seems to be the consensus. I’m checking my phone and email waiting to hear from my sister–they drove back home (several hours’ drive) late this morning and will probably take my niece right to a hospital. Waiting really isn’t easy :( Oh—on top of the staph infection, she also has an ear infection.

      Something’s in that house or on the beach behind the house – my other sister is also sick, and I have some itchy spots myself. I’m also pretty beat, but I’m owing that to just being tired from packing up a house of 19 people this morning!!

      1. AcademicAnon

        Yeah they need to do cultures to figure out what the infection and what antibotics work. MRSA means it’s already resistant to one antibotic but often the different strains are resistant to multiple. CA-MRSA (community acquired) is a lot more infectious than hospital acquired MRSA but less deadly.

      2. Kat

        Umm, that hot tub needs to be drained and disinfected. It can spread the bacteria from one to another. I bet it’s not even close to being hot enough to kill it.

        1. Nina

          +1. Hot tubs are havens for bacteria; I’ve heard some nasty stories from healthcare professionals. Get it cleaned and disinfected ASAP.

        2. Mimmy

          Actually, my SIL did have someone come in to drain and clean the hot tub at one point because it was looking pretty nasty. What she didn’t realize is that the owner of the house my family rented has it serviced on a weekly (I think?) basis because a couple of days later, the service guys came just as DH and I were getting out, lol. He mentioned the rashes my nieces were getting, and the guy said he was putting in a disinfectant.

          I hope my parents mentioned the problem to the owners for them to be aware of.

    6. anon nurse

      Just a little education (because I believe that understanding something can make it a little less scary):

      MRSA is Staph Aureus that is resistant to the antibiotic methicillin (so Methicillin Resistant Staph Aureus — MRSA). Staph Aureus is a common bacteria found on people’s skin (something like 20-30% of people, IIRC). Usually it doesn’t cause a problem unless it gets into a break in the skin. In the pediatric population, a lot of the butt abscesses are from staph infections (some MRSA, some not), usually resulting from a diaper rash, though any kind of skin break can lead to an infection in any age.

      As someone else said, the location of the infection and it’s severity will impact the prognosis, as well as the patient’s general health status to begin with.

      If there’s anything your sister is unsure of during treatment, tell her to ask questions until she understands. No one will mind answering them, we really, really want you to understand. If it’s outside the realm of what their nurse can explain, ask for the doctor to come explain (or find out when s/he will be around). And write the questions down so you have them when the doctor comes by.

      Good luck, and I hope she feels better!

    7. Weasel007

      Ironically I had this last week. I had a abcess somewhere unmentionable and was in so much pain I went to the doctor and was sent immediately to the ER. Can you just imagine my call to my boss last week? “Ummm, I am in the hospital and don’t want to talk about why”. Thank God for morphine. I am a staph carrier and my doctor said everything is becoming resistant. Add in the fact that I am allergic to most antibiotics it has been a trial this past week. Now that I’m feeling better I’m scrubbing my house down, bleaching everything and making dure my husband doesn’t get exposed. My advice: probiotics. And best of luck in recovery.

    8. Noelle

      That is terrible, I hope your niece is ok. I have a friend who got MRSA earlier this year, and almost had to have his leg amputated. It can be extremely serious, and even though he kept his leg, he has some pretty significant impairment where the infection attacked his muscles and ligaments. It’s already good that 1) your family suspects it’s MRSA so it should make diagnosis easier, and 2) is taking her to the hospital ASAP. The faster they can get her in and start treatment, the better the possible outcomes. Good luck.

      1. Mimmy

        The odd part is that all three of my sisters’ girls got a rash, likely from a virus; yet, the oldest is the only one who got a serious infection. They slept in the same room, so that’s probably why they all got the rash at the same time, and no one else did (I had some small bumps too, but that just might be my usual skin issues).

    9. Mimmy

      Just got an update from my sister (I texted her this morning) – niece has been admitted. Not sure what the exact cause is, but they think it was a virus that caused red bumps (hence the original bed bug theory), then bacteria entered through that. Once the swelling comes down, they may try to drain the abscess later today.

      :(

        1. Mimmy

          Thank you. She’s home already (yay!!) but is being followed closely all week. Suffice it to say that I’m never setting foot in a hot tub again!!!

  2. Treena

    What are your favorite travel blogs? I keep finding great ones only to find out they no longer travel/are on hiatus, and I want new content!

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      thetidethatleft-blogspot(dot)com is a travel blog/serial expat(ter) who is now back in the UK. She has a remarkable way with words and I find her inspiring.

    2. Soupspoon McGee

      journeywoman.com — it’s a monthly newsletter plus a site full of tips and stories from travelers. It’s well-curated and entertaining.

    3. AmyNYC

      Adventurous Kate! She mainly focuses on women traveling alone, and her style is very readable – like a friend filling you in on their awesome life

    4. Sparrow

      I recently found a site called Wandertooth. Haven’t looked at it in detail, but I think it is updated regularly.

    5. Schuyler

      I really love Geraldine at the Everywhereist. She isn’t posting as frequently as she once was, but she is hilarious and really thoughtful in some of her posts.

    6. Boogles

      Rick Steves if you’re looking for European travel. His site, and the Travel Forum, are awesome!

  3. Stephanie

    So since my work schedule changed, I have my (early) evenings free again. So I signed up to audition for a community orchestra. Uh, now I need to remember how to play the cello. (It’s been a couple of years.) Any musicians have tips on how to get back into the swing of things?

    1. Kay

      I don’t know if I have good tips, but that sounds awesome. I am also a former cellist and I still take it out sometimes and tune it up wistfully. If I were going to seriously pick it up again I’d probably dig through my music for the schooling pieces and get my fingers limber again to start with, and then just dive right in with lots and lots of practice of the pieces we were working on.

    2. BRR

      Pablo Cassals always said to start your day with Bach (I’m sure nobody but me thought that was a creative answer).

      I would probably pick a couple scales to practice a week. Use a metronome no matter what you pick. And just browse imslp for fun things to play.

      1. Stephanie

        Oh yes. I have my book of Bach Cello Suites.

        Funny story about my metronome. During one of my cross-country moves, I shipped a box of personal items with a metronome in it. In that same box was also a metal rod sort of thing I made in a machining lab in college. I use it as a pencil holder (except I didn’t quite master the drill press, drilled my holes too shallowly, and my pencils don’t stand up straight).

        So I ship off the box and it takes like three weeks to show up. I get it and there’s a note attached to it. “Dear Postal Customer,

        Your box arrived at the post office ticking. Because of this, we had to isolate it from the building and bring in the police bomb squad. Upon inspection, we found a a ticking device* and a metal rod**, but that the box presented no hazard. For future shipments, please remove all batteries from electronic devices. Thanks for using the Postal Service.

        Sincerely,
        Postal Master”

        *i.e., my metronome
        **i.e., my machining lab project

        1. Stephanie

          To add…this was the obligatory junk box that results from every move.

          “Just…get it in a box an tape it up”

        2. Cath in Canada

          Heh! I’m glad they didn’t blow your stuff up! And I’m glad I use a metronome app on my phone :)

          Some eejit back in Glasgow once ordered an antique thermometer and had it shipped to his lab while he was on vacation. We frequently got bomb threats from animal rights activists (at a cancer research lab – awesome), and so all our mail was x-rayed. When the mail room staff saw the glass tubes full of liquid, and all the crazy wiring, they evacuated us immediately and called the bomb squad out from Edinburgh, about an hour away. It was pouring rain and there was nowhere else to go (rural campus), so we all sat in people’s cars… until campus security guys came out with a mirror on a stick to check for car bombs and we all got spooked. We were drenched and pretty pissed off, but relieved not to be bombed!

        3. louise

          This made my night. A ticking box. Bwahaha! In high school, several years before 9/11 (so flying was still easy) I and some friends developed a hairstyle we thought was just great (looking back on pictures, it was actually super cute; very forward thinking for the 90s, but I digress), but which used a lot of bobby pins. A. Lot. I did my hair up and left for a cross-county flight all by myself. I set the metal detector off and the agent was so perplexed when he wanders me and it was clearly my head causing the problem. It suddenly dawned on me and I said “Oh! Would about 50 bobby pins do it?” “Yes, yes it would, miss.”

          1. Stephanie

            Oh, the underwire in my bra has set off metal detectors at airports on multiple occasions. The first time, the agent was baffled and had no clue. A female agent at the next station was like “Do you have underwire in your bra?” “Yes.” “Ok, we’ll have to do extra screening. That’s probably the cause.”

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      That’s awesome!!!! Fingers crossed for you! I love love love the cello. I had no idea I loved it so much until I noticed I was going to NY Phil concerts simply to hear Carter Brey work his magic (so dreamy… sigh…).

      Anyway. I am a singer, not an instrumentalist, but being out of practice can feel very wonky and frustrating. Try to practice a little every day (the basics, like BRR suggested). We singers have to do extra warm-ups after some time off, and your fingers probably need the same.

      Community groups can be great for practicing, and they’re generally very low-pressure and a good way to maintain your skills. Go into the audition thinking you want to get back in the swing of things and have some fun, nothing more than that. I say this as someone who takes choral music VERY seriously and sang for years in a high-level competitive group and went totally shaky-kneed at the audition for my current chorus because I was all, “It’s the only game in town! What if they don’t realize how awesome I am and how hard I’ve worked???” Don’t do that to yourself.

      Keep us posted!

      1. fposte

        Digressing a little–any suggestions beyond diligence and regular warmups for getting your voice back in trim? I was never brilliant, but I was a solid choral alto (an alto who can sight-read tends to be pretty welcome), but I’m out of of practice and I think there was a little bit of vocal cord damage during surgery, because my chest voice has kind of disappeared.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Head voice is better for your vocal health anyway! (Sez the woman who cultivated a chest voice that sounds like her chest voice so she could hit low E’s, thereby ignoring my college voice teacher’s constant advice.) There might be damage, but you could also be feeling the effects of lack of use and age. It’s amazing to me how much my voice changes on a yearly basis.

          Beyond warm-ups… in your place, I would find a voice teacher or a small chorus, even a church choir. Somewhere to sing regularly without too much work or pressure. You could also find a piece and focus on it, really make it a project.

          And fist-bump to a fellow solid choral alto. I’ve worked hard and have some pretty good chops and am a good solo mezzo, but I am proudest of my reputation as an alto who can read well and blend well. I always say that no matter what, if I’m having the crappiest of days, I can show up to a chorus rehearsal and know exactly what I’m doing and do it well.

          1. fposte

            I’m hoping it’s just disuse and that I just didn’t notice how bad it was until after surgery. The choir’s a thought–I would love to sing some Sacred Harp, but I think the group around here died, and that’s more like throwing a voice to the sharks anyway :-). And yeah, I loved being the utterly reliable alto, who came in without waiting to hear if the other altos started or not, dammit. In one of my favorite choruses we were often broken up into quartets for both rehearsal and performance; that’ll stop you leaning on the rest of the section in a hurry!

            “Singing in choir is better than sex and almost as good as fresh sweet corn.” –Garrison Keillor.

            1. Elizabeth West

              If you don’t use it, you lose it!

              I used to be a lyric soprano in music college (four years of training) but years of not singing (and smoking) have taken its toll. I’m not exactly a mezzo, but I can’t sing Johanna’s part in Sweeney Todd. I can sing Mrs. Lovett, which is more fun anyway. I always wanted to play Mrs. Lovett. :)

              1. Stephanie

                “Now then, this might be a little bit stringy, but then of course it’s fiddle player!”
                “No, this isn’t fiddle player–it’s piccolo player!”
                “How can you tell?”
                “It’s piping hot!”
                “Then blow on it first!”

                (I love Sweeney Todd.)

            2. Connie-Lynne

              My range went all to hell when I quit practicing.

              It comes back pretty quickly but I learned not to push it — if I can’t reach a note I stop trying and then work up to with with scales and exercises. Now that I’m not singing regularly if I push too hard to get higher or lower than is comfortable, I’m far more prone to straining things and losing my voice entirely.

            3. Sunday

              Remember that everything will feel different after your surgery for your voice, too. I’d go gently with everything as you reacquaint yourself in the new context.

              I second MissPiggy’s suggestion of building up abdominal muscles to get your bellows back. And anything you enjoy for general physical stamina.

              Favorite exercise: Try using your tongue on the roof of your mouth just behind the teeth much the same way you’d make “motorboat” sounds with your lips – fast vibration at the tip of the tongue instead of the lips, – and then add voice. You can use that for anything. As long as you’re supporting the sound it works, when you lose the support it doesn’t – so restart rather than trying to force it, that way lies tightness. You can play with resonance by changing the shape of your mouth.

              It’s a great way to work on range, pieces with awkward intervals or words, anything that might catch or tighten til you’re comfortable with it this way. It’s not a great exercise for working on blending with someone else, it really focuses on your own current sound. Build your voice back up before you focus on blending.

      2. Today's anon

        Do you know how to find a low-pressure choir group in NYC? They all seem very intimidating here. I don’t have any singing training (years of piano though).

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          I don’t know of any myself– I gravitate towards the “high-pressure” groups!– but check out VAN.org (Vocal Area Network). They list auditions and information for every group in the Metro area. You can also start with community church choirs– I subbed a few times for church groups that were really low-key. Also, the choirs in the boroughs tend to be much more chill than the big Manhattan symphonic choruses.

        2. AdAgencyChick

          Check out the Vocal Area Network website (van dot org). There are literally hundreds of listings for choirs and you can search by neighborhood and by rehearsal day of the week. There are a lot of serious, semi-professional choirs on there but also many, many more of the low-key variety.

          1. AvonLady Barksdale

            My replies kept getting eaten, but I was going to say exactly this! (Or maybe it was because I used a web address and it got caught in moderation… gah!)

    4. Startlingly Anon

      another vote for the basics :) also pick out something between too easy and the level you were at before that you’ve never played before – something that you can get through without too much work, but that doesn’t have your memory easing you through or messing you up – to just get a sense for yourself of where you are.

      Expect to be surprised at what your muscles remember and don’t, and expect to be stiffer and tireder than you think you should be. (I started piano again after many years and the things that just happen as opposed to the things I have to work are not what I expected (scales – even tempo, even pressure, no thought required -, reading music – not too much of an issue – , but I’ve lost the sense of where the keys are (like ‘stretch this far means 4 keys’) when I’m playing))

      have so much fun!

    5. Noelle

      I was a music major but stopped playing piano for several years after college (it’s hard to afford a piano or store one in a tiny apartment). I started playing about three years ago, and the best advice I can give is start slowly. Pick some pieces you learned last, because those were the ones I remembered the best and was most comfortable with. When I tried to play pieces that I learned early on in my lessons, I got frustrated that I didn’t remember them better. But as I got more familiar with just playing again, it got easier and more and more memories came back.

  4. Natalie

    So, the lovely garden in my new house comes with two HUGE mulberry trees, which will not stop vomiting mulberries everywhere. The bottoms of my feet are stained purple, and half the yard is covered in mulberries.

    I’m going to cut them down at some point and encourage a mulberry bush to grow out the stump, but in the meantime is there anything I can do to catch them or something? The trees are too tall to pick them. Maybe some kind of mulberry loving trained bird?

    1. danr

      Get on a ladder and start eating… Invite your friends too. If you do cut them down, (and you have a fireplace) have the tree firm cut the tree into fireplace logs. Get a rack and stack them in the rack. Cover it loosely and within a year or two you’ll have lovely firewood.

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I have no advice, but mulberry was always my favorite color in the Crayola box. I always associate with crayons, never with an actual, edible berry.

    3. TootsNYC

      I love mulberries! My neighbors had a tree when I was a kid, and I had purple feet, purple fingers, purple tongue, and lots of fiber in my diet (ahem).

      There’s no berry sweeter, in my opinion. I’m really jealous–where do you live, and can I come over?

      I’ve always wanted a bunch in my yard. My plan was to get some bedsheets (thrift shop!) and shake the trees over them. Maybe even put grommets in the corners and hook them onto stakes a couple of days a week so I didn’t lose the ones that fell on their own.

      I have no idea how practical that is at all. But I *do* know that really ripe mulberries will fall off the tree when you shake it. That’s how I “picked” them off my neighbor’s tree.

      Maybe to effectively shake the upper branches, you can get one of those ultra-long pruning tools (Lowe’s has a 14-foot fiberglass “bypass pole pruner”) and wrap something around the blade so it will grip without cutting.

    4. LisaLee

      Mulberries are delicious on ice cream. They can cause stomachaches in some people if you eat too many of them, though.

    5. CoffeeLover

      The classic problem of fruit trees. They’re a lot of work. My family has an orchard of plum trees and it’s always a hassle when they fruit. Anyway, your best bet is to catch them before they fall. Put a plastic sheet under the tree then shake the tree and branches. Alternatively, I suppose you could just leave the sheet under the tree and clean it off from time to time.

      1. Natalie

        I think that might work. I actually like mulberries (hence the mulberry bush plan) but it’s just way to many to realistically harvest by ladder or whatever. The ones that fall are super ripe and not as good, plus their easy to accidentally squish, causing my mulberry feet.

    6. LadyErin

      Lots of garden centers sell a product which you can spray on fruit trees and they won’t fruit. Florel is a commonly available brand name but there are usually generics available as well. This won’t help you this year but maybe something to think about for next year. Of course, if you wanted the berries to eat this wouldn’t be a good solution. Using something like this will allow blooms but no fruit at all.

    7. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

      Usually the mulberry tree next to my bus stop doesn’t get much ripe fruit because the birds eat all the green berries! They leave just enough for a taste of about 5 ripe berries if I’m lucky…

    8. fposte

      Curmudgeon POV here. Mulberries are practically weed trees around here, because they seed like crazy, and then the birds love the fruit and you get purple bird poop on *everything*.

      Your farther-north climate may restrain their exuberance so that you can genuinely appreciate the thing whether you’ve got purple-pooping birds or not. But around here, they’re kill-on-sight.

      1. Natalie

        I’m not sure they’re that restrained! Thankfully there’s not much purple bird poop, but they are attracting insects like you wouldn’t believe.

    9. Not So NewReader

      We put sheets on the ground and shook the branches. One person volunteered to climb up a little bit and shake some higher branches. We had many full bowls of berries.

  5. cuppa

    Thank you to Alison to introducing me to Tiny Kittens a couple of weeks ago. I’m addicted!

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I followed the last litter from birth through adoption and was obsessed, as well as the first feral cat experiment and the combination of the two litters. The woman who runs it is absolutely amazing. I want to interview her for our interesting jobs series here.

        1. cuppa

          You mentioned it right before Taylor Swift gave birth, so that will be my first litter that I will follow all the way through. I love it! She just rescued another tiny kitten last night and a pregnant feral earlier this week – she is amazing!

          1. bkanon

            HAHAHAHA, I was scrolling fast and only caught the “Taylor Swift gave birth” part. I reaaaaaally had to back up there.

  6. SystemsLady

    The owner of the house we’re renting, who has apparently been considering this for three months, just notified us he wants to sell. That’s a little less than three months’ notice, and with our job obligations it boils down to a little less than two for us to move. This area has a really tight rental market, so we may very well have to stuff everything into a storage unit and crash at somebody’s house for a while if they don’t push out the sell date (and they might).

    He sent a real estate agent our way, who gave us a day’s notice she was coming by. So because we’ve been traveling a lot recently and working longer than usual hours, it was a little disorganized (and she also caught us right after cooking a late dinner, so you can guess what assumptions she made there).

    The real estate agent also saw the plants in our yard were dead/dormant – due to the dry heat spell that has the entire neighborhood’s plants in that state – and went on this huge rant on how we should at leasf be watering them weekly (we are, incidentally…) and how “her generation” knows how to keep a house picked up and blah blah blah.

    She legally has no power to tell us to do anything with he house, really, but she was really really rude, made us really upset, and overall ruined our night. It was really hard not to lash back at her, but knew if we did it would just make things harder for us.

    And now we just found out we’d marked the calendar incorrectly for a concert we were really excited to go to – they had a Friday and Saturday event and it turns out we’d purchased Friday tickets.

    Arguably the worst part is we could’ve avoided her annoying “millenials don’t have standards” rants and had a chance to pick things up had we known the concert tickets were for Friday :(.

    Work is going to be absolutely terrible coming up soon, so that just makes it all worse.

    It’s been a bad week :(. Really hoping the craigslist person who had tickets for today emails us back…and the one single rental lead we have (luckily through the same management company) comes back OK for us.

    1. Relosa

      I would have lashed back. You had no warning, the place is still legally leased to you, she was intruding on your space. I would have absolutely laid that woman out for saying such things. That’s just me though.

      1. SystemsLady

        It’s hard to describe, but the comments were extremely passive aggressive in a slimy way that was hard to come back to.

        We did mention the frequent travel and long work hours but then she went on and on about living on a farm, my house looks just fine, I guess I just don’t have these millennial “distractions” (a word she used many times) and blah blah blah.

          1. SystemsLady

            Hah! Yup, my mother lived on an actual farm growing up, and that house is just full of stuff…

            It sounded to me more like they have horses and an acreage, which definitely had me rolling my eyes.

          2. danr

            I grew up on a farm and my mother never had time to keep things in order. There was always extra work and meals to prepare. We all had clean up chores after supper and helped with a weekly cleaning, but a super clean, neat house… no way.

        1. Relosa

          Passive-aggressive people bother the crap out of me!

          “Your comments are rude and disrespectful, and are not productive. Please stop making them, or let’s arrange a time for you to inspect the house when you can be more professional.”

          1. SystemsLady

            Clearly, 8pm is not a professional time for this sort of visit in the first place. Sigh…

          2. Not So NewReader

            OR
            “Gee, your comments are definitely ambiguous. If you wish to say something outright, then do so. Otherwise, please, stop with the ambiguous comments.”

            Really unprofessional, does she belong to a realty group? Do your landlord know he has Ms Sourgrapes working for him?

        2. Mike C.

          Maybe it’s just me and it gets easier with practice, but stand firm and call that garbage out for what it is. They’ll deny it, and call them out for it as well. Put them on the defensive, tell them where they can stick their advice and don’t put up with it.

          I find that bullies don’t enjoy being called out on their crap, and if they know you’ll stand up for yourself they won’t be so quick to attack you the next time.

          1. Charlotte Collins

            Also, real estate agents work on commission, no? Just because you’re in the rental market now doesn’t mean that you or your friends might not be in the market to buy someday soon. I think you could mention that to her and that you would not recommend that behavior to potential clients or the potential contacts for clients.

            And whose house would look great at any time that someone might happen to come by?

            I hope you find a new place. I’ve been in the situation of trying to find a new apartment very quickly, and it’s no fun…

    2. Treena

      I’m really confused as to why she thought she had anything to say, especially what you mean by “you can guess what assumptions she made there.” Do you mean because it was messy? If so, that’s mind-blowingly inappropriate, to the point where you might want to say something to your landlord. Not sure what, but just a heads up that she blew up at you and you were shocked. I just did a similar thing (the property manager yelled at me because he was having a bad day and I told the landlady and she apologized, so it is possible!).

      1. SystemsLady

        There were dishes still out, and she was assuming they’d been out for hours. She outright said “I wouldn’t sell this house while you were still living it it” which is…something to be thankful for? That one actually made us laugh later on, because we WANT them to want us out first. Gives us clout to ask them to cover the early lease cancellation fees and a mover, really.

        The landlord is 1) not the owner 2) has actually been pretty helpful and will fall on our side – what the real estate agent likely assumed was lack of carpet care on our part is something the landlord has photo evidence was caused by a previous tenant’s pet – but also kind of has her hands tied.

        We do plan to talk to her so she has more information when her contract with the owner ends, and also asked for the owner’s contact information (basically, sounds like we’re not getting it).

        1. Artemesia

          Why would there be early lease cancellation fees if they are the ones canceling the lease. If you have a lease then your capacity to make their life difficult with passive aggression is great and I’d be doing that.

          1. SystemsLady

            Well, exactly. I was referring more to getting a mover paid for.

            If she had liked the way the house looked, the owner would be more likely to prefer us to ride the contract out and would be less willing to let us out early or pay for a mover.

            (Again the owner is not the landlord, so it’s a bit confusing)

        2. BRR

          If they’re trying to sell the house they have 0 clout to ask for an early cancelation fee. On the other hand it would be highly unusual for them to pay for a mover.

          You can also look up who owns the home which should include some contact information.

          1. SystemsLady

            Yeah, I’m aware it doesn’t usually happen. But if they really want us out, no reason not to try, I guess.

        3. Natalie

          Your state may require them to give you the owners contact information. Check your state laws.

          1. SystemsLady

            I didn’t know that laws like that were on the books. My husband will check with his legal contact, thanks!

            1. Charlotte Collins

              Also, your municipal laws might be stricter for tenant rights. Make sure to look into that, too.

        4. Raine

          I think she meant, literally, she couldn’t show and certainly couldn’t sell the house with a couple clearly still living in it. Which is true.

          Is it possible you took this more personally than it was intended?

          1. SystemsLady

            No. They actually can show the house (and we are legally obligated not to get in the way/have to be reasonable about restrictions), it’s just a question of whether or not they want to.

            I wish the comments hadn’t been meant personally :(. It was like she was tsk-tsking her son (who she also frequently mentioned) by proxy.

            1. Mike C.

              It’s funny, a lot of people I see/hear complain about how terrible “this new generation” is almost always mention how terrible their kids are. I like to use that opportunity to remind them who raised them, then point out that “they should take the same personal responsibility they see lacking in the new generation in their own affairs”.

              /Yeah, I know there are complicated issues and some kids don’t turn out despite the work the parents have put in, but once you start an ageist rant, you lose that consideration.

              1. Not So NewReader

                OR: “Yep, your parents said the same thing about your generation. It’s getting tedious, don’t you think?”

    3. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

      What kind of repore do you have with the owner of your house? Let them know how rude the real estate agent was and that you require 24 hours minimum notice for her or any viewings of the house. Also, you might consider notifying the agent’s boss/office. Me, personally? I would have kicked her out as soon as the comments started flying, and said come back with the owner in tow next time.

      1. Artemesia

        This. the lease almost always requires notice etc. I’d contact the owner and make it clear that this woman is difficult; of course, she will already have been badmouthing you to the owner.

      2. SystemsLady

        Absolutely none, but we have a good relationship with the property manager/landlord. They’ve implied they can’t help that much, but we’ll be notifying them about her rude comments so they will know what they have to deal with in a month or two.

        It was 24 hour’s notice and just an exploratory visit to see what the house looks like, so for now we don’t have too much to complain about. If she starts harassing us, we’ll definitely start taking those steps.

        We also have access to free legal services through my husband’s job and plan to form any agreement to cancel the lease early through that route. We weren’t originally planning on that, but we now definitely want to make sure they can’t pressure the property manager to take our security deposit.

        1. Mike C.

          If nothing else, don’t be afraid to use those services to protect yourself. A lot of folks have a terrible attitude about the law, lawyers and the legal system, but that quickly changes if you find yourself in need of those services.

    4. BRR

      I would have lashed back. You can make her job really easy or really difficult. If you keep the house messy, cook strong smelling food, arrange the furniture weirdly guess who doesn’t get their commission?

      I also have 0 tolerance for the “back in my day” people. I would have responded with a nice “my generation knows how to not be a bitch to strangers.”

      1. SystemsLady

        No kidding. If she visits again with that kind of aggressive attitude, she’s not getting much kindness from us. We had wanted this whole thing to be cordial, but if she won’t return the favor…

        And I’ve met plenty of people from her generation with…different…organization strategies – it’s a brain thing, not a generational thing for goodness’ sake!

        1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

          I have to wonder how “successful” she is as a real estate agent with that type of attitude… Too bad there isn’t a Yelp website for them! It works with food, why not real estate agents?

          1. Kyrielle

            Yelp has real estate agents on it, and I’ve used it to find one (and avoid others), and left a review for one (positive, because yay she was good), so.

            1. Connie-Lynne

              Oh my god, Epoisse and/or Mont D’or could only taste sweeter by being able to grudge-eat them.

              1. fposte

                I know! Cheese is such a mind-trip, really; I was just trying some lovely aged cheddar and wondering how it simultaneously be so good and taste a little like old gym shoes.

                1. Hlyssande

                  I know! I once bought a wedge of some hard cheese that was apparently aged in a basement somewhere, and it definitely smelled and tasted like musty basement, but it was absolutely freaking delicious at the same time and I could have eaten it forever.

                  And of course the shop never had it again.

      2. snuck

        This.

        Not that you want to be awful about it, because they can be annoyingly awful. I had a real estate agent that gave me 24hrs notice EVERY 24hrs for an opening (I wasn’t being difficult – I was actually VERY helpful, and when I complained that they were restricting my “free and reasonable access to my own property” and that I had recourse through the local tenancy laws they backed off to a mutually agreed three times a week, only one of those on weekends, and only one hour at a time, it was just a crazy gung ho real estate agent who didn’t give a flying banana about the in place tenant)….

        But if she returns with more passive aggressive snot just remind her that you are aware she wants to sell the property for a good price and that working positively together is going to get her that. That your property manager is happy with you as a tenant, and that if she has an issue she needs to discuss it with the owner. If she responds negatively then say that you won’t be present for any future meeting with her, she has a one hour window to visit on 24hrs notice and if that becomes too onerous you’ll negotiate via your lease manager. She’s just being a bully.

    5. DeadQuoteOlympics

      I recently moved from my first “work condo” to another place because my landlord decided to sell. However, he gave me plenty of notice and was very repectful when bringing people around. In return, I did my best to keep it reasonably clean and neat at all times (he was a good and responsive landlord during the time I rented from him, so I felt I owed it to him). The real estate agent is nuts. She has now created even more of a disincentive for you, the tenants, to cooperate in making sure the house shows well and sells quickly — which actually is to your disadvantage in this situation! I would talk to the landlord and point this out to him — that achieving both goals (him selling the property at a good price and you being able to find a place in a timely fashion and with a good reference) is going to require cooperation in terms of timing of showings, and the real estate agent isn’t helping. Showing a house with a sitting tenant is always tricky, according to family members in real estate, and it sounds like she doesn’t know her job.

      1. SystemsLady

        We do hope to talk to the owner, but we don’t think it’ll happen. He seems to be very hands-off and purely financial about the whole thing. We are upset we’ll be starting off on a bad foot with him now, but if a quick move works out (it might!), all the easier to cut off contact with them entirely ASAP.

        By the way, it was funny how she felt the need to tell my husband, who is in the military, “thank you for your service” after all this. It’s a major pet peeve for him when people say that insincerely, so it ended up being more negative points for her.

      2. MsChanandlerBong

        “He was a good and responsive landlord…”

        That makes all the difference. We’re moving in September, so we’ll be giving notice on July 31, and we plan to do no more than the minimum required of us before we move. Every time we have had an issue, our landlord has been slow to respond, and when he “fixes” something, he does it himself, and the cheapest way possible, so nothing ever works (so you can’t dry your hair when the air conditioner is on, because turning both on at the same time blows out the power to all but one room of the house; this is AFTER he put in a new electrical panel. Until he “fixed” the electric, we had no problems with it. ). Not to mention I am still pissed that he waited SIX DAYS to get a plumber in here when our sewer pipe cracked and was leaking sewage into our dirt basement. The sewer smell was so bad, I was throwing up and getting headaches, and he just took his sweet time getting it fixed.

        We’ll remove all of our belongings, and we’ll clean the place, but we’re not disposing of stuff that was left here by the previous tenant, nor are we going out of our way to do anything extra.

    6. Jillociraptor

      This exact thing happened to me when the owner of a condo we were leasing a few years ago decided to sell it…despite our warning him that we did not have time to do more than the bare minimum of cleaning and straightening. The passive aggressive emails and comments make you feel SO crappy. I feel for you and hope this all gets resolved fast and with the absolute minimum of stress.

      1. SystemsLady

        Thank you! (Thanks everybody really) Even without word on the replacement tickets yet, I’m feeling a lot better.

        We may be able to lease a home that’s opening for moving in two weeks, as I’ve hinted at, so I really hope that works out. I’ll post next week if it does – they are closed on the weekends :(.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I’d make a tumblr of the PA emails and call it “Bitches from a Crappy Real Estate Agent” or something. Pin a post or introduction with a quick recap of the situation and then each one that comes in, remove the identifying details and post it. Make a post every time she says something or does something. Then it becomes entertainment!

        But that’s just me. *slightly evil*

        1. Ruffingit

          I’m thinking up names for this blog right now:
          Real Estate Agent Loses Temper on Renters (REALTOR)

    7. AcademicAnon

      Check the rental laws in your area, as some require a lot more notice of the landlord or anyone else the landlord employs (as in the real estate) than 24 hours. Also check how much notice the landlord has to give before they can terminate the rental agreement, as they might be violating that too. If the landlord is going to make your life miserable then why bother helping out the real estate agent?

      1. SystemsLady

        They’re giving us a more notice than both what is legally required (that term is minimal, actually) and what the lease requires (which is more than legal but arguably not enough for this area).

        So it’s all legal, it’s just…not ideal. Especially since the owner has had the idea in his head for so long and could’ve told us through the landlord (who is nice but ultimately just a contract-fulfulling middleman), but decided to wait until now.

        We’re only making it easier on ourselves from here on out (either getting the heck away from these people or packing as willy-nilly as we want).

        1. SystemsLady

          Of the lease termination, I should say. The date we are currently “out” is the end of our current lease in a little less than three months (we don’t have a 100% “we’re going to sell” yet, so technically we haven’t been legally notified, but from the way she was talkig it will almost definitely be here within the week).

          Standard notification is 24 hours, and we would’ve had a right to tell her to come back another day. We just really wanted an idea of how likely the sale is to actually go through.

          1. Jerry Vandesic

            You are in control until the end of your lease. They can’t force you to leave or clean up or do anything really. Most landlords don’t want to have tenants in a building if they are selling. The agent is correct — she will have a hard time selling the house if you are still there. Use your control to adjust the situation to a place where you are comfortable.

            On the other hand, if you can and want to leave before the end of your lease, negotiate with your landlord. Things like moving costs, storage, any rent above your current rate, or just an annoyance fee. Everything is on the table, but they might simply decide to wait until you are gone. In that case use your time effectively and get ready for a move when your lease ends.

            1. SystemsLady

              Yup, we plan to take full advantage of this. We feel like she’s accidentally given us a lot of clout.

              If there’s a bright side, it’s that she’s already basically nixed the owner using his legal rights to show the house right up until our lease ends or we strike an agreement to leave early.

              1. Connie-Lynne

                *and also*

                I don’t know what it’s like where you are, but in California, that nasty realtor lady has to give you at least 48 hours by law, I’m pretty sure, every time she wants to come by or show the house.

                So screw her and her passive-aggressive attitude.

    8. Steve G

      When I gave notice to move at my last building, multiple (I think 6 in the end) real estate agents were constantly on the scene. They were texting me at all hours. I had a largish studio with 12 foot ceilings, nice fixtures, a gorgeous closet w/ loft storage, and a full wall of windows with lots of light, as well as hard wood floors..close to Manhattan, and for $1500. It was the cheapest apartment in the area. I was lucky to have paid only as high as $1325 because the rents skyrockets after I moved there.

      Anyways, the would be tenants were much more annoying that the agents or owner. It was like they were all expecting to come and find a Park Ave mansion when they were coming, and they’d all leave disappointed or say they’d think about it. So I ended up working from home for those last weeks because I didn’t like the agents coming when I wasn’t there (which they said “no problem” to, I was like, no it is a problem!).

      I ended up going into sales mode to potential tenants because I was sick of it. I was like, “I wake up at 8 and make it to work in the city by 9:10, the ceilings are freakin’ 12 feet tall, everything is new and nice, you can’t hear through the walls, there is street parking, the main room is 22′ long – you are in inner NYC – what are you freakin’ looking for!”

      Every morning I was up early, cleaning everything and making the bed to make the apartment look unlived in to get a tenant for them!

      1. SystemsLady

        At the very least, I’m glad she’s made it abundantly clear we won’t have to go through that! That would be such a pain.

        I do work from home at the moment (though right now it’s stressful to the point that I’m pretty much unaware of my home surroundings during work hours and even a few hours after), so it would have really bothered me to have potential buyers coming in and out all day.

      2. Ariadne Oliver

        You had me at “you can’t hear through the walls”.

        I like to blame HGTV for all these unreasonable renters/buyers. I don’t recall people being so picky before they came on the scene.

    9. Elder Dog

      I would ask the landlord to let the owner know this real estate person doesn’t like “millenials” and is rude to them because that’s going to affect her ability to sell the house. Give examples of the rude and nasty age-related comments.

      If you happened to know someone who might be interested in the house, you could mention you don’t feel comfortable putting them in the way of talking to this rude snippy person. But only if you really knew a potential buyer, maybe through work, of course.

  7. Carmen Sandiego JD

    My mom and I have a joint account, but she withdraws a lot for my savings. It’s legit, but she takes way too much out. Example: I got paid 1700 widgets, she removed 1000 widgets that day leaving me with 700 widgets for the next 2 weeks.

    I did save a bunch of whatever I had left and got my own savings account, then created/linked it to my own checking account. I deposited 400 widgets there yesterday. My mom’s wondering how on earth I survive on 300 widgets for now till 2 weeks, and doesn’t know I have a checking account of my own.

    Maybe it’s an ethnic mom thing? I know someone else (same ethnicity as I) whose parents bought her a small townhouse so she could live under her grandmother’s watchful eye (her grandmother came to live with her, and her parents lived in a separate nearby townhouse.

    I guess I learned that there’s no way to reason with some people, so I took matters into my own hands. Am currently interviewing for a higher-paying role, and from there I’m doing direct deposit to my own acct asap…so that’s all I guess.

    1. Ruffingit

      Good for you! I remember from your previous posts that your parents are very involved in your financial life. It’s a really good idea to cut them off from that because you’re an adult and need to do your own thing in that area. I get the whole cultural thing, but it doesn’t sound like you like what is going on here so you really do need to get your own accounts. Frankly, I’d change my current direct deposit if I were you to go into the new account. You can tell your mom you’ll be managing your own finances from here on out. Sure, she’ll be angry, but that is OK because she’ll survive her anger and so will you!! Let her be mad and tell you how ungrateful you are and all that. Don’t engage in it, just go on and do your own thing. She’ll get over it and you’ll feel like more of an adult.

    2. The IT Manager

      Your mom is being irrationally super controlling, but I recall from previous posts that you know that. But you don’t have to wait for that higher paying role, you can change your direct deposit now.

      You say maybe it’s a cultural thing, but you are putting up with it and you sound like you know it’s wrong/disrespectful/insulting.

      1. The IT Manager

        I apologize. I think this comment is snippier than I intended. I just encourage you to get out from under your mother’s thumb.

    3. Kay

      If I’m understanding this correctly, your mother doesn’t trust you to save enough, so she withdrew money for you to save? Or was she withdrawing it for her own use?

      If the former, ugh, I’m sorry. Maybe you can set up some automatic transfers and explain them to her so she sees that you’re actually on top of things.

      If the later, wtf. Change your passwords and get her off the joint account yesterday.

    4. Artemesia

      Make sure your new accounts are in a different bank and not linked to your old accounts in any way and then move your savings into your own account. when someone who wants to micromanage your life holds joint control over the money you earn, they can take it all at any time to ‘teach you to behave properly’ — this is bad news.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD

        This is exactly what’s happened in the past, and what I hope to free myself from. 4 years ago, I wanted to visit my then-bf, a (Rhodes Scholar equivalent) with my internship money saved up and she threatened to bankrupt me so I had to stay put in the homeland…

        Yeah, they’re in a different bank. And if there’s anyone who’s gone thru this–ideas/tips? I want to make sure I do this right (financial freedom) etc…

        1. snuck

          Open your bank account at a new place. Have any and all mail directed to a PO Box (so your mother can’t get access to any paper work on it). Only list your mobile number on the account (not the land line). Make it that no contact from the bank comes to your home address. Put a password on the account on top of the normal security questions (because your mother knows your personal ID info!), and ask for notes on the account that any changes to the account must be done only by you, in person, with photo id. This will be annoying (all of it), but it means she can’t ring up and pretend to be you and add herself to the account or change things around.

          Then… when that’s all set up (she doesn’t know about it yet)… go to your pay office and get the paperwork to change where your pay goes to. Hide it from her. Do the same for any other payments you make or receive. Complete them all for the new account. Make sure you give your pay office theirs first and that your pay goes properly through to your new account before you change the debits for phone bills or gym accounts or whatever.

          And at the same time (before your first pay goes awol – time it for the same week) go into your bank that has your bank account in it, including the second savings account she’s transferring your money in to, and transfer ALL the money except one month’s worth of bills into your new account at the unknown new bank. If they argue with you that you don’t have permission show them your DL and that it’s in your name. If you think they are going to fight you on it ask up front from the first moment you walk in to talk to the bank manager for a private meeting (make an appt if you have to) and explain that you are subject to financial abuse, that your mother is removing your pay, and ask them what they need to be able to help you stop. (If they aren’t cozy with your mum you could do this as your first step and it might make the whole thing smoother.)

          If you aren’t on that second savings account in any way then you might have to kiss goodbye to the funds, in which case quietly save some money on the side in your own account she doesn’t know about for a while and then make your moves on the rest.

          If it’s really about savings (and not complete and utter control of you) then you could tell her you are saving for Grand Tour (or whatever malarky you want) and talk that up to her and she might step back a little as she sees you save for an agreed item.

          And… what do you think she’ll do when she finds out? Yell, Shout. Scream at you. Not talk to you for six weeks. Take away your door key and force you to be accountable to her for every minute of your day? (It’s not likely she’ll toss you out given how much control she wants over you). If she does those things it’s ok, you’ll then have enough money to move out and house share somewhere one day… if you want.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Have any and all mail directed to a PO Box (so your mother can’t get access to any paper work on it).
            Or sign up for online billing. Put a password on your computer, change your passwords on anything you think she might have figured out or demanded.

            1. The IT Manager

              If you a use a computer at your home that your mother can access make sure that the passwords are not remembered for you.

        2. Observer

          Firstly, make sure that any new accounts you have are NOT linked in any way, shape or form to the existing account you mother has access to. Right now, it sounds like your new savings account is linked to your existing bank account. Unlink it immediately, if so.

          If you have direct deposit, either change it to your new bank, or stop it. You’ll get paper checks instead, which you can then deposit to your new bank account.

          Withdraw all of the money you have in the savings account your mother moved your money to (preferably business days before your next check would have hit your account). Writing a check to your new account would technically work, and you could do that if you need to, but if your mother realizes what you have done before the check clears. You want to do both things at the same time, because I would guess that there is a very good chance that your mother will move any money she can lay her hands on, as soon as she realizes what you are doing.

          Unfortunately, if you don’t have access to the savings account you are using, you may have to resign yourself to either losing the money and legal action against your mother. That stinks, but in the long term, even if it’s a lot of money, better for your long term health.

    5. TootsNYC

      How old are you? At a certain point, your mother really doesn’t deserve to have any access to your accounts. Especially not if she’s manipulating the balance. You can’t trust her; she hasn’t earned it.

      So smart of you to set up your own account–but I’d suggest you close the other one.

      I have a daughter in college who will be 21 any day now. Right now her bank account is linked to mine, and I can get in there. That’s so I can transfer money from my account to her in a big ol’ hurry if she needs it.
      It’s also nice to be able to get to her money to move it around if she desperately needed me to.
      But I’m very cognizant of needing to earn her trust.

      I don’t know the “ethnic mom” thing–I think that pushy people just fall back on that as an excuse. Because I’m telling you–my husband has “ethnic parents,” and his mother would never just move his money around in his bank account.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD

        Yes, the joint acct served exactly that purpose way back when I was in graduate school. Now, I’m a mid-20something, paying rent, being responsible, and it always cuts to the core when I see my 1700 widget paycheck that she’s removed a full 1000 from.

        Tg for the separate savings acct. I’m doing other international consulting work on the side and trying to move up in the world too. She has no idea about the savings acct. She’d probably order me to pay her a significant cut of it. At this point, I want to be free. (And show my boyfriend that yes, I can defeat this 8000 pound dragon that’s stressed me out to no end, because he hates that I get worried over this)..

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I would also suggest that you collect all your important papers, birth certificate/passport/other government documents you don’t normally carry on you — and put them somewhere safe your mother can’t get at. Because as you save money for your escape, she will try to find other ways to keep you. If you have friends in the area that wouldn’t mind storing some of your things, you might want to start sneaking out things that are especially precious to you. And don’t give her too much advance warning when you finally move out, or she will find some way to sabotage that or guilt you into staying.

          Good luck!

          1. Ariadne Oliver

            Carmen, get a safe deposit box at your new bank for all your important papers. Your mother will not be able to access it, and your items will be safe.

        2. Dan

          WTF? Just no. Really. I moved out of the house when I was 17, and never had a joint checking account. I survived just fine.

          When it comes to cultural stuff? When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and here we don’t share bank accounts with our parents.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            All families are cults, to varying degrees of abuse. Every family has its own rules, what it determines is appropriate behaviour for all the members in order to “belong”. It’s hard for people who have grown up in relatively “normal” families to understand the kind of conditioning that takes place from infancy. We look at families like the Duggars and think “they’re fanatics! Their religious views made all of that OK?!?” But what if the family’s “religion” is Mother Must Never Be Made Upset By Your Personal Choices?

            You were lucky (or not, depending) that your family wasn’t invested on keeping you under their thumb for the sake of their own comfort — or that you were strong enough and had the support to get out and not cave to that pressure. Many people get so worn down by it, they lose the will to fight any more. No one gets to relive their life in another family to see the differences and be re-formed. You may know that something is not “right” with your family but you don’t really understand it as abusive. They feed you! They clothe you! Keep a roof over your head (hopefully)! Of course that must mean they care — wanting to know where you are every second of the day, that’s just another way they show how much they care! Telling you who your friends should be, what to study, what to wear, just more ways of showing how much they care! It’s subtle and insidious and you don’t realise until you try to assert your independence or “adultness” the price you’ve been paying. The problem is also that while you’re capable of seeing what’s “wrong”, the person doling it out isn’t and they will never recognise or accept that. So it’s a source of never-ending conflict, where the only way to win is to not play.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Off topic, but, you sure know how to write and you get your points across very well. I could “see” it as I went along, you lay things out very clearly.

              I hope when you get yourself to where you want to be in life you write a book. I am sure many people would be interested for numerous reasons.

              1. Dynamic Beige

                You know, that may be the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. What’s this thing in my eye? I’m going to screengrab your comment and put it somewhere for when I need a boost. :)

                FWIW, my mother’s religion was the one I described, so unfortunately I have some experience with what it’s like to grow up under someone who is never happy unless they’re in complete control (which means they’re never happy). She never took my money — she didn’t allow me to have the freedom to have a job so the only thing she could take was my sense of agency. I knew it wasn’t “right” or “fair” but what can you do when you have no money, no family and no way out? I often wonder what would have happened if she hadn’t passed away and I do not think it would have been good for me.

            2. Dan

              DB,

              No, I moved out of the house at 17 (skipped my senior year of high school) to escape a controlling parent. That. Did. Not. Go. Over. Well.

              My mother realizes she can’t control me any more, so she takes the opposite approach — say nothing at all. It’s not quite the silent treatment, but pretty close. If my dad weren’t still married and cohabitating with her, I’m not sure if we’d have any sort of relationship at all — because, as you put it, the person in the wrong can’t see it, so the only way to win is to not play.

              1. Dynamic Beige

                I was afraid of that :( It’s the rare person who is driven to leave a nice, “normal” family at a young age like that. I’m sure it wasn’t easy, but at least you had the drive and self confidence to believe you could do it and then did it.

          2. Observer

            That’s not necessarily true. Plenty of children share accounts with their parents – in fact they were set up by the parents in many cases. They key is that at a certain point those accounts get de-linked.

        3. TootsNYC

          Joining in on the recommendation that you round up birth certificate, whatever equivalent of a baptismal certificate you might have, Social Security card, every possible piece of paperwork you can think of, and put them somewhere you can get to them.

          And this:
          She’d probably order me to pay her a significant cut of it. At this point, I want to be free.

          She can order you all she wants. You do not have to do something simply because she says it. This is an absolutely crucial step to get to–if you truly think you’d stress over blowing her off, I strongly recommend some cognitive behavioral therapy to learn some mental and emotional coping strategies.

          1. Today's Satan

            This. My mom just recently had surgery and I’ve been taking care of her. (She lives with me). My boyfriend tried real hard to get worked up on my behalf about how she’s supposedly trying to take advantage of me. (She can be a bit imperious and narcissistic). All I could do was bust out laughing. . . because no one can take advantage of me without my permission. Sure, my mom can “demand” that I get or do something for her, even incredibly ridiculous emotionally-abusive things, but I have final say on what I do or don’t do.

    6. Artemesia

      As long as she has her hand on your money she can take it away at any time to discipline you to do her bidding. I would make sure your bank is different from the one you now are using and make plans to quickly move that savings account out and deposit it in your own account as soon as prudent. Once she sense you might do this, your money is likely to be gone from your control.

    7. Someone's child

      Assuming your mother is not wishing you ill in general or extra controlling in other aspects (would she throw you out of her house if you displease her?), I am a big fan of having a conversation before engaging in what others have said (which I totally support if she doesn’t back off). Also, it might be ethnic but it also might be that you are her “little girl”, and “girls” need a lot of vigilance as we all know (/sarcasm).

      I would say something like, mom, I need you to stop taking money out of the account; it’s my account, you are there only for emergencies; if you continue I will have to have a separate account. Then if she doesn’t back off, you do what you have to do. Or you can just tell her you will be closing the joint account and opening a separate account. She probably will say something like “but faaaaaaaaaaaaaaamily” and you can say you love her but want your own account.

      I grew up with a mother such as yours and and I used to sneak around her a lot but even though there is freedom in it, and a sense of “I got you!”, having to do that proves that I am in fact tied to her. You are an adult, you don’t need to sneak around her, or get her permission or anything. My mother (and yours) doesn’t know boundaries but I do and have them and don’t need her permission to enforce them (and I can, as an adult).

      Again, if you are in an abusive relationship and fear for your safety in any way, you should do it in secret.

      1. Observer

        The key thing I think you are missing – and the main reason we are suggesting she does it in secret, is that there is apparently good reason to believe that her mother won’t just say “But faaammmiiillyy!!!!!!!!” Keep in mind that in the past she has threatened to bankrupt her daughter if daughter doesn’t do as she is told. So, it’s really possible that Mom’s first reaction to “I want to open my own account” is to grab all the money and move it.

  8. LemonDonut

    @Mimmy — speaking as a nurse, I can say that MRSA is fairly common. Some people are “carriers” and carry the bacteria around in their bodies without any symptoms or problems at all. When your immune system is weakened, you can develop an actual infection from MRSA, but this would be less common in a young and healthy person. Is your niece in good health otherwise? I hope she will be ok.

    1. Mimmy

      She does have a severe peanut allergy (not sure about other foods) but as far as I know, her health is otherwise fine. I think she turns 13 in a month. Thank you for your good thoughts.

  9. LongTimeFan

    I’ll be travelling to Indianapolis, IN next weekend. Anyone have any recommendations as to what I should do in the city? I’ll only be there for one night and I’ve never been there before, so any suggestions would be welcome!

    1. FormerlyIndy

      Mass Ave is great for eating, shopping and walking around. My favorite places there – Bru Burger for food, Silver in the City for shopping and Subzero for ice cream dessert. I hope you have fun on your visit!

      1. ZSD

        I found a good Turkish restaurant there. Most of the stuff downtown unfortunately seemed to be steakhouse, burger pub, steakhouse, burger pub.

      2. FormerlyIndy

        ZSD’s comment below reminded me – I can’t believe I almost forgot to recommend my all time favorite Thai place – Bangkok Jazz! It is downtown and definitely a step above most Thai places in Indy or elsewhere. The food is great and the ambiance is also really nice. When I first heard they were opening a combined jazz bar and Thai restaurant I was skeptical but it really is fantastic.

  10. Personal Space and Yoga

    Just venting, really… but we had this substitute yoga instructor who insisted we practice a couple of asanas in groups/touching each other, and then during the final relaxation, she went around touching people with scented stuff without asking first. This was after a fellow yogini touched me on purpose during the opening relaxation while I was trying to get my chill on. The instructor kept going on about how it’s good to touch other people. Um, no. It really isn’t OK to touch people without obtaining consent first. I was already tense, but now my shoulder blades are practically in my ear canal!

    1. Ruffingit

      UGH, no! That is way not OK especially the scented stuff. She has no idea what allergies people have. Not everyone is good with touching. I’m a hugger myself, but I respect the fact that not everyone is.

      1. Personal Space and Yoga

        Thank you, yes. Most of the time, instructors ease into this sort of thing and give you an opt-out. Her opinion, which she imposed on everyone, is that touching is great! You must touch! There was really no opt-out on the group thing. As far as allergies go, I have plenty of them, and was not thrilled about the scent thing. I was just glad I wasn’t allergic to it on top of everything else! So, yes, now that you mention it, that should probably be flagged, too.

    2. Artemesia

      How interesting that this issue crops up in a threat with MRSA on it. Transmission of MRSA is common in gym and yoga settings which is why one should have their own matt or at least use a towel over the part of their made they will lay their head on. Touching is how germs are spread and many people are sensitive to scents. Sounds like time to find a new yoga teacher.

      1. Personal Space and Yoga

        After I posted the above, I second-guessed my reaction, wondering if I’d been too uptight. But, I just read the Consumer Reports mention of the transmission of MRSA, literally saw your comment five minutes later, and now I’m outraged all over again.

        If I knew her better, I would share the article, but since I’m new & don’t know anyone, I’m not really sure how best to handle it. I guess I could copy it & mail it anon, but I don’t want to seem ungrateful b/c the classes are free. It would probably be obvious that it was I who sent it, which is a bit of a problem… but ugh, MRSA! So, in the end, probably worth it?

      2. Personal Space and Yoga

        Oh also, I had an excellent teacher for a long time, and am only taking the free classes because Money. I’m hoping that she’s still teaching once I’m back on my feet. I really need to get going at home, but I do so much better with an instructor…usually.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          If you’ve been doing yoga for awhile and know a lot of poses, I recommend the Daily Yoga app. It’s $5 per month, or I think $40 per year. It’s got a lot of routines on it, from beginning to advanced. I do a session almost every morning.

          I really enjoy going to yoga classes, but the only time that works for me is in the evening. And that means I need to zoom home, throw something together for dinner, and head off to class 2 nights a week. My daughter usually has swimming lessons 2 nights a week, plus a practice for some kind of sport another night per week. So yoga class on top of that, even though I enjoy it, means having something going on every weeknight. It’s exhausting. The Daily Yoga app is a great alternative.

          1. Personal Space and Yoga

            Thanks a bunch! It’s such a Catch-22- when you’re unemployed, it seems like there is nothing but free time, but no money to do anything. When you’re employed, you have the money, but no time. I don’t have kids, but if I did, I’d want to give them the benefit of classes, too! So, I definitely see where you’re coming from.

            Right now, the budget is literally zero, but I’ve bookmarked this for later! :)
            In the interim, I have a book, and the training, and I’ve even borrowed materials from the library. It’s just hard sometimes to get motivated without the excuse of a class.

            1. Blue_eyes

              I really like the Yoga Studio app and it’s a $4 one-time payment, so maybe you can squeeze that into your budget. Yoga Studio has a bunch of pre-made classes and you can also create your own custom classes by choosing from a large list of poses.

            2. Blue_eyes

              And Simply Yoga is a free app. It’s not the best, but if you already know many poses it may be useful and you can’t beat the price.

              1. Personal Space and Yoga

                Thanks for the excellent suggestions! Free is ideal, so I will check that out first! :-)

            3. NoCalHR

              Since you’re already experienced in yoga, you might want to try 101 Yoga Poses. It was also free (or was when I downloaded it) and has poses categorized by Standing, Sitting, etc.

        2. brightstar

          I’ve recently started trying yoga, and tried a hot yoga class. I went yesterday morning to sign up only to find out classes were almost $100 a month. I ended up walking right back out.

          1. Personal Space and Yoga

            Holy Moly Wow! I wonder if that’s standard. I’ve never taken hot yoga, but I tried lukewarm yoga that was the pre-hot intro class, and loved it. That was like 10 or 15 bucks a few years ago at a vacation destination, for what it’s worth. I guess you enjoyed it if you were class shopping?

              1. Charlotte Collins

                Hot yoga always sounds like a very expensive way for me to have a fainting spell. (Heat/humidity and I don’t get along.)

                I wish someone would come up with “cool yoga.” I think I’d really enjoy doing yoga in 60-65 degree temperatures. Maybe a light blanket provided for corpse pose? Any takers?

                1. Laura Beth

                  I will attend this yoga class! I also get faint when I get overheated, and in fact the first two regular yoga classes I went to, I had to take a break, go get a paper towel out of the bathroom, wet it, and put it on the back of my neck to cool off. It was unpleasant. So hot yoga is not something I will ever be able to try. Regular yoga is dangerous enough ;)

    3. Lulubell

      Ugh. I love yoga, and I love touching people, but I HATE touching anyone during yoga. Every once in a while there will be a sub who’ll decide we should pair up for something, and I want to run out of the room. I actually don’t mind the instructor touching me for an alignment or for aromatherapy at the end, but in this case, she definitely should have asked first.

      1. Personal Space and Yoga

        Yes, just… consent and opt-out. Don’t make saying “no” be NOT OK. Whether or not I give consent depends on my comfort level with the person or persons. I’ve given consent in the past, but this woman was forcing compliance, which really didn’t work for me. It was just so peer-pressurey, I didn’t know what to do without looking like a nasty person.

    4. nep

      Oh, man. This is basically Instructions for How to Ruin a Yoga Class. Jeeeeeeez. How can anyone think that’s OK?

    5. catsAreCool

      I do NOT like being touched by strangers. I would have shrunk back from any contact. Might not have helped, though.

      1. Personal Space and Yoga

        I’m absolutely with you on that. I actually did exactly that, thinking the non-verbal would be enough. It wasn’t. Super awkward…

    6. OhNo

      Ugh, how gross. I’m lucky that the instructor for the yoga class I go to always (ALWAYS) asks at the beginning of each class if there is anyone who doesn’t want to be touched for any reason. Even better, he does it at a point after he’s instructed us all to close our eyes, so you don’t have to feel self-conscious about indicating that.

      Is there any way you can indicate to the studio owner, or head instructor, or just somebody in charge that this is something you think they should require of their instructors? If it comes from above, this person might be more likely to listen and respect your space.

      1. Personal Space and Yoga

        Well, there is a person in charge of programming for the library, so that would be the person who would need to hear it, I guess. The head instructor- I’m not sure she actually has any authority, or if she is more like the contractual equivalent of senior staff. Though, I am still having gift horse mixed feelings about reporting it, since it is provided free.

    7. Blue_eyes

      Nope. This is terrible. I do not want to touch anyone in my yoga classes. My favorite instructor will adjust us, but she asks if it’s ok and checks in to make sure she’s not pushing us too far. Another teacher that I see will sometimes bring lavender essential oil and put it on us at the end of class but she ALWAYS announces what it is and gives a way to opt out (usually it’s “put a hand on your belly if you don’t want any”). None of the instructors I’ve ever seen have asked us to touch other participants, that’s really out of line.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        Every yoga class I’ve been to where there’s been touching has included an opt-out. I don’t like strangers touching me, but I’m OK with adjustments from yoga instructors I know and like. But I need a warning I’m going to be touched, or I will jump if not worse!

        I had a yoga instructor who would pull our feet during corpse pose as a mini-adjustment – you just raised your hand if you didn’t want her to do it. It did feel pretty great to have your feet stroked briefly then gently pulled before going into meditation, but she totally got that it wasn’t for everyone.

      2. Personal Space and Yoga

        See, that is alright. I actually had an instructor for a while who did that, too. It’s amazing how much difference consent makes.

    8. Sunday

      Since it was a sub, I’d let the organizing folks know – and maybe mention to the regular instructor that you’re glad s/he’s back in part because xyz. A lot of people who only schedule classes don’t know anything about what might go into being a good teacher, so it’s a help to them to know if there’s an issue.

  11. Always a bridesmaid...

    I’m looking for ideas for bridal shower favors. I’ve been browsing Pinterest for ideas, but haven’t found anything that really stands out. I’d like to keep it under $10 per person if possible, maybe $15 if it’s really special. The shower doesn’t really have a theme; it’s just a small luncheon. A few things I’m considering:

    Candles (with personalized labels)
    Mini potted succulents
    Small box of chocolates
    Decorated sugar cookies
    Mini sugar scrub packs
    Manicure set

    Is it better to give one nice thing, like a Yankee candle jar or a 4-piece box of Godiva chocolates, or make a gift bag with a few small items (e.g., manicure set, sugar scrub, small candle, and mini soap)?

    Also, shower games: yes or no? Any ideas that aren’t boring? Suggestions for prizes? I’m thinking of having a cake decorating contest. Thoughts?

      1. Megan Schafer

        Those are cute. We got those in a heart shape and little vellum envelope, wrote the person’s name on it, and they doubled as seating arrangements.

    1. OfficePrincess

      I was just at a shower a few weeks ago that was pretty chill and basically what I would have liked for myself. The favors were small plants (some succulents, some others), but weren’t pre-potted. They were in the plastic container from the store and set down inside a small pot. It was definitely a significant time-saver for the host and if you didn’t like the pot or whatever you didn’t have to use it once you got home.

      There weren’t a lot of games, and the games they did have were mostly low-key. There was present bingo, the clothespin game with banned words, and then one where we had to guess who in the couple said what. There were the three small games with small prizes, but only one point in the day was a designated “game time” the rest happened throughout the afternoon.

      I tried to keep that short, but I’d be happy to explain any of it more if it sounds like something you’d be interested in.

    2. Persephone Mulberry

      As a guest, I’d prefer the one nicer thing. I love the mini plant idea – if I’d planned ahead better when I did my sister’s shower a couple of weeks ago, I would have done that (ah, hindsight). Another idea: the shower I went to a few months ago combined favors and a game – they had a big basket of miscellaneous houseware items, then handed out small favors (a few chocolates wrapped in tulle). Each small favor had a tag on it with “wishing you” and a unique word: love, joy, laughter, etc. The host made a nice speech to the bride, and finished with a list of all the things she wished for their marriage: love, joy, laughter, etc. When the “wish list” item matched the tag on the guest’s favor, the guest got to choose something from the basket. It was fun and sweet, although the things in the basket could have been a smidge more interesting.

      Games: My family are big talkers, so for my sister’s shower I only planned two games, knowing we’d easily fill the time with food and conversation and presents. I did an outfit scavenger hunt, as a variation on the purse scavenger hunt that they did at my cousin’s shower a couple months before. Both variations were fun, but I think the purse one was better because it was teams. For prizes we had bottles of wine (I had an itunes gift card in reserve if the one under-21 guest had won).

      The other shower I went to also had each guest bring a favorite recipe to give to the bride, and we each shared why we brought the recipe we did. It was cute.

    3. Natalie

      We did a trivia game for my cousins shower, with little mustaches and lips on a stick. Someone reads the trivia bit, and everyone guesses who it’s about by holding up a mustache or lips. You could put anything you wanted on the sticks so it doesn’t have to be gendered.

    4. TootsNYC

      I vote for edible favors–cookies, candy, something.

      Because everyone I know has way too much stuff.

      And if you did want to give stuff, I’d go for one nice thing over a few little things.

    5. Blue_eyes

      I would go for one nicer edible favor. Edible favors are great because you don’t have to travel back with them (if guests are traveling) and if someone doesn’t like them they can just pass it on to a friend or something who will eat it.

      At my bridal shower/bachelorette party (we had tea at the Plaza Hotel) we played a trivia game about our relationship. My maid of honor had emailed my husband a list of questions about us and our relationship beforehand and he sent her his answers. Then each of the guests got a slip of paper with one question and my husband’s answer. They got to ask me the same question and see if my answer matched my husband’s. We also had each guest say how we knew each other (so, not really a game, but still nice).

    6. Hollis

      My favorite party favor to give and receive are the tall soap dispensers they have at bath and body works. They look pretty and come in a lot of different scents and types (foaming and non). Add a ribbon and voila.

  12. Ruffingit

    My brother is an abusive waste of space. He has caused our family nothing but trouble over the years. I cut him off years ago. My mother came to live with us due to massive medical issues several months ago and she still has a relationship with him. So he started getting nasty with her, actually made her cry, etc. Which has happened before. I blocked him from her Facebook. I told my mother that with as many health issues as she’s got, the stress is not good for her. That was about three months ago. Today, my mother asked me to unblock him. So I did. But man…I can just see it coming. The tears, the verbal assaults. I told my mother don’t tell me about it when he is being a nasty jerk to you. I just can’t hear it anymore. I must admit I’ve lost some respect for my mother over this…

    1. Samantha

      I have two very troubled and self destructive siblings that I’ve had to distance myself from for my own sanity and emotional wellbeing. I sometimes get frustrated with my mom for not being able to do the same. She’s always trying to “save” them, which of course doesn’t work and only makes her miserable. It’s easy for me to tell my mom to step back and let go for her own good, but my son is only 2 – I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to watch him make horrible, self destructive choices and not keep trying to intervene. Please don’t lose respect for your mom. Whatever your brother has done, he’s still her son and this must be incredibly difficult for her.

    2. Relosa

      My mom is BPD, alcoholic, abusive, etc. My one sister and stepdad who are most vocal about her problems are the ones who are still in contact with her – everyone else has walked out.

      At the same time, remember that she is still your brother’s mom – the whole ‘mothers love’ thing – it’s hard to work around, no matter how abusive and awful the child is.

      Hang in there!

    3. K-Anon

      I’m sorry, sounds like you’re going through a rough time. But please keep in mind that isolating your senior mother from having contact with a family member (blocking his communication from her Facebook page, and controlling when it gets unblocked) is actually considered to be a punishable form of senior abuse (you’re bother yelling at her could possibly be looked at that way as well). Be the soft place for her when she’s having a rough time with her son and watch him closely to make sure he isn’t taking advantage of her, but controlling a mother-son relationship is not a fight that you’re going to fall on the right side of.

      1. Ruffingit

        I did not block him without her consent. I talked to her about it. And when she asked to have him unblocked, I did so. I’m not controlling anything here, it’s all her decision. The only reason she asked me to unblock him is that she is very new to Facebook and has no idea how to do it. So I showed her when I unblocked him so she would know. I would never control my mother’s choices. I’m not about doing that for anyone.

        1. fposte

          Ugh. Whether it’s a parent or a friend, it’s so frustrating to know that something’s going to end badly for them but be unable to dissuade them. If she’ll go to therapy, I like that idea; certainly, we all know people who keep hoping somebody they love will be the person they dream of and not the person they are, and many of us have had a chance at being that person. She’s just not ready to admit her beloved son isn’t much of a prize. It’s particularly a pain when you’ve done the work to accept reality and move beyond that and now this is threatening your peaceful estrangement. I think you’re probably right that the thing to do if the drama happens again is shrug and say “Yup, that’s how it always goes. Want me to show you how to block him again?” and minimize your emotional involvement.

          But sometimes I just wonder what is wrong with some people.

      2. Megan Schafer

        This is a good thing to consider, but man, it seems so grey. My brother was, for many years, absolutely cut out of our lives, and if my mother had needed to live with us during that time, that wouldn’t have changed – He is flat out not allowed to call or visit, not happening. I wouldn’t block him from her Facebook, but I wonder where the line is (for the record, mom wasn’t able to drive herself during that time so her leaving to see him was out of the question).

    4. anonymous daisy

      Why not go with your mom for family therapy? She might have a Florence Nightingale thing where she thinks she can save him from himself. Going with her might provide her with support and you with some new ways to provide a bit of safety for her emotions when she is attacked.

    5. Family and Issues

      I don’t know what to tell you, other than offer a little commiseration. My girlfriend’s mother is codependent… and has literally said she “will not abandon people”, in the face of abuse, whatever, you name it. She has indoctrinated this into her kids, so basically I have a girlfriend codependent on her family, who will just keep taking whatever crap they hand her because “family”. I’d be lying if I said this hasn’t affected our relationship.

      I, on the other hand, have cut out family members from my life. You can imagine how long it too for her mom to stop telling me to reconcile. You can only do so much. Though, I’m sorry it’s your mom, which makes it a lot harder to distance yourself.

      1. PNW

        Going anon. My mother is like this, too. She takes pride in saying she won’t ever abandon my nephew/her grandson. The heroin addict who has stolen from her, told her that he hopes she eats rotten meat and dies. The one who has lied to her for years and punched a hole in her wall and hid drug paraphernalia in her home. He does it over and over and over again, but she still takes a perverse pride in saying how she will never abandon him. I just don’t get it.

        1. Family and Issues

          Thanks for getting it. I’m really sorry you had to deal with this though. I don’t know if it would help if gf’s mom recognized that choosing the doormat route could be a mental health issue (among other issues that I think would be worth looking into). At the very least, think about how draining living like that can be. But, I felt like, you do what you can, and if they still want to take the martyr route, I’m not not going to be a road bump on their way. I just pulled away as much as I could manage as far as relationship politics go. I can’t disengage completely bc of the big knot that is their codependent lives.

          As far as my own family went, I actually did say the things going on might be mental health related, and it would be worth looking into it. But that was not well-received at all, and the best thing for my own mental health is to not engage. But, a family member is going to be getting married and the undesirables are going to be there. I have no idea how I’m going to navigate this. I’m not even sure I want to go, but I feel like it would be very bad if I didn’t. In all seriousness, I feel like seeing them would be a catalyst for a big emotional mess, which I would prefer not to deal with at someone’s wedding. So, you know, avoidance works well until crap like this happens, which I am in no way prepared to deal with.

          1. Today's anon

            From what you describe there is going to be crap either way so you get to choose the crap that is less damaging to you. And whichever route you go, you get to plan ways to keep yourself as safe as possible (for example, if you go to the wedding, and you feel like an emotional mess is coming on, you get to take a break or leave and go to your hotel room or the Starbucks next door and then you can come back or not, your choice). I often go to the bathroom when I need mini-breaks.

            1. Family and Issues

              Thanks so much for weighing in on this. I really appreciate it. Thankfully, it’s far enough away that I can make an “escape plan” if I do decide to go. It’s one of those things where not attending would create a schism in an already much-strained relationship. Your point that it will be crap either way is completely accurate, and your insight much appreciated. I have friends nearby, so maybe I can do something with that if I do end up going.

    6. Ann Furthermore

      Ugh, I’m sorry. I had a brother like that too. He struggled with addiction all his life, and was a serious, heavy-duty drinker. It was the source of much pain and turmoil for my entire family for many years, especially my parents. He died last year, which was not a surprise, but I had hoped that my mother wouldn’t have to experience the pain of losing a child. That was not to be, unfortunately.

      So I totally feel for what you’re going through. Like others have said, he is still your mother’s child, and she’s always going to want to try to help him in whatever way she can. For years, I didn’t understand why my parents kept giving my brother so many chances. He would move back in with them, ostensibly to get back on his feet to find a job (which never happened of course), things would be OK for awhile, and then they would start fighting (always about his drinking and various other things), the tension would rise, and there would be a nasty, ugly blowup, and they would throw him out. Rinse and repeat.

      Now that I have a child of my own, I understand it a little better. As a parent, you want to do anything you can to help your children succeed and be happy, and I don’t imagine that ever changes no matter how old they are. My brother was 61 when he died, and my mother was still trying to help him.

    7. Not So NewReader

      “I must admit I’ve lost some respect for my mother over this…”

      People and their choices, omg, challenging stuff. Challenging as in, “I am doing everything I can not to choke the crap out of you for your stupid decisions!”

      We truly are responsible for our quality of life right up to the very end. All these “little” decisions we make add up. It might be in good ways or bad ways but these decisions do add up.

      The stories here do serve as a reminder to me. I have a situation that I was on the fence about. And it’s clear to see what to do when it’s someone else’s story. I see that I still have to keep my person at arm’s length. We can love people, but we don’t have to let them into our lives so much that they damage our lives.

      I think it is wise to be emotionally detached from this choice your mom has made. If this is what she wants let her sort it out. Sometimes it feels like I am enabling people by letting them complain to me. If they can’t complain to me, then they have to take a hard look at what they are doing. Or go find someone else to complain to.

    8. Sunday

      Is there a referral system for therapy in the medical network she’s using? I like the suggestion of therapy, but it might be more welcome in an initial context of dealing with all the medical stuff both for herself and the ramifications for family and then family issues can come up too. Losing independence, even short term, can be miserable, and make one more vulnerable.

      And is therapy for you an option? It’s pretty hard to take on this sort of care arrangement with problematic relatives in the picture; helping you figure out best practices for your own interactions around her relationship with him might be helpful. It can be helpful to lean on the external reinforcement in the face of the all too familiar.

  13. Carrie in Scotland

    I’m trying to move and find somewhere to stay (STRESS) in my new city. It’s difficult because I’m still in my old job and there are just 16 days in between them to get something organised and move. I had 3 viewing planned for Monday, and it’s already down to two. Sigh.

    Also: does anyone have any advice about how to move with a cat? We’ll hopefully be going down in a van or car but she hates the car and she is an outdoor cat most of the time and I’m really worried she will hate me for moving her to somewhere she can’t go outside :(

    1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

      Hopefully you have a crate for her ride in car or van – uncrated can be a disaster for you both. Also talk to your vet about something to keep her calm as well. I had indoor cats so I don’t have any advice to give you about transitioning the cat from being outdoor to an indoor cat. Good luck!

    2. Artemesia

      We moved with a cat. We got a sedative but we didn’t use it because she was old and had bad kidneys so we only wanted to use it if necessary. I drove a prius with the back down and had her littler box, a tree we were moving (lemon tree) and her bed as well as other bulky items in the back. She rode in the carrier for a while and then we opened it an let her roam in the car and she made a nest for herself under a tree and did fairly well. At one place we got a flat and had to leave the car to have it fixed while we got lunch. We didn’t want to lug the cat carrier into a restaurant and the car was blazing hot, and so we got the tire people to let us stow the cat carrier in their air conditioned office for that hour and she did okay. It was two days and the hardest part was having her in the hotel room that night — we normally don’t let her sleep with us because we have mild allergies.

      She adjusted really well to the next place. Yours will adjust — you are after all the person who feeds her and all cats are little psychopaths.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Ah, luckily my new city is about 3 hrs away max. Thanks for sharing your experience – I’ll ask the vet maybe just in case for something calming for her.

        1. MsChanandlerBong

          That’s very lucky! In September, I’ll be taking five cats on a 1,986-mile journey to our new city. The cats are going to be the worst part of the whole thing!

    3. SystemsLady

      Ugh can definitely relate to the move with a cat coming up. Good luck!

      I would keep the carrier out for the next couple of weeks, if you don’t already, to let kitty naturally get acclimated to it. Mine uses his carrier as a bed since I started leaving it out!

      You can try covering the carrier with a “familiar”, of course breathable, blanket so she is less likely to notice the unfamiliar sights and smells and can calm down. I have also heard great things about Feliway spray.

      I’m not sure about the outdoor to indoor transition :(. You could try purchasing a harness and leash so you can take her out occasionally that way, but she might not like the harness.

    4. Cristina in England

      Have you narrowed it down to one or two areas for flathunting? In addition to all the big letting websites don’t forget Gumtree too, that’s how we advertise our flat and most real people on there (not annoying letting agent ads!) can move quickly because they don’t use an intermediary.

      Oh, and don’t forget that letting agents aren’t allowed to charge certain fees in Scotland but they do anyway so get and keep line-by-line invoices of what you’ve paid so you can claim it back after you’re in your new flat. I only found this out shortly after I trashed my last lease agreement pack (as a tenant), argh!

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I’m going Southside.
        I’m trying on gumtree too, but quite a few of them are non-pets (which is fair enough). I’ve had some better luck on rightmove. Thanks for the tip on letting agents – have never rented so have no idea what to do.

        1. Tau

          Rightmove is pretty useful, along with zoopla which sometimes has stuff rightmove doesn’t. Note that AFAIK you’re only going to get letting agencies on both those sites – I’d actually have expected you to have more luck on gumtree for pets, since those include private landlords. But gumtree is a terrible and disorganised site and I basically always gave up after ten minutes trying to find possible flats so… yeah.

          And +1 on letting agencies no longer being allowed to charge tenancy fees – SO HANDY. I just moved from Scotland to England and things I miss already…

        2. Cristina in England

          I loved living in Shawlands (near to Crossmyloof station), it was so handy for everything. Good luck good luck good luck!

    5. Sabrina

      Here in the US we have something called Comfort Zone. Normally you have this oil diffuser that you plug in to the wall, and it has pheromones to help keep the cat calm. They also have a version that’s in a spray for the moving or going to the vet, etc. Might also be called Feliway. I don’t know if it’s available over there, but worth a look? I moved a few years ago and it was an 8 hour drive with the cat. He cried for the first couple of hours but then I stopped at a rest area and let him roam around the car. Put him back in the carrier and he was fine the rest of the trip. Note, do not open the door or windows when the cat is loose in the car and if you think they’ll hide somewhere it’s probably best to just leave them in the carrier/crate/etc.

    6. ModernHypatia

      Two moves with (two different) cats, one 2.5 days, one about 4 hours. In both cases, I got them a harness, and then seatbelted them with a leash into a seat of the car. One of them desperately wanted to be high enough up to see out over the dashboard (easily fixed with a box), the other spent 95% of the trip on her back looking out the window. I had a litter box where they could reach, but neither of them used it while we were moving.

      The trick with it is to get the leash attached and at a length where they can move around some, but not attempt to climb the driver’s arm, seat, or get underfoot or hung up on things. Keeping the carrier out for a week or two (with treats in it, and a soft blanket or towel that smells like you or an unwashed t-shirt) help a lot too – I used the carrier for the ‘car to building’ pieces because I didn’t want them scrambling and trying to get loose from my arms.

      1. Connie-Lynne

        I also used a leash/harness for moving with the cat. It made it a lot easier to take roadside stops, because I could stop the car, and grab the leash instead of the cat. He also appreciated being able to move around and investigate a little, although he spent most of his time hiding under the seat.

        I also had a small litterbox, and some food and water on the floor for him. He didn’t end up really using either one.

      2. Carrie in Scotland

        A few years ago, my flat had renovations done to it and I had to move out for 3 months. I tried a leash/harness thing but she was like houdini and shrugged it off within 30 seconds.

    7. Cristina in England

      Make sure to check out Shelter Scotland’s website for more on tenants’ rights (as per my previous comment about letting agent fees), they have TONS of info.

  14. Anon for this?

    Anyone with dysthymia here? I was recently diagnosed (after knowing for years I had had it) and I will soon start cognitive behavioral therapy, but I just… don’t really see how this can ever be better, I guess? I’d love to hear from people who have been where I have been and gotten better. At the moment, it’s bad – in a usual 8 hour workday, I can usually only focus for two or three hours for example, I cry a lot, etc.

    1. BRR

      I was originally diagnosed with dysthymia but it’s hard to tell because so many symptoms overlap. While therapy has helped it would have not been as beneficial without medication. Is that something you are also considering? I think the hardest part is that it takes a while. Getting better is a marathon, not a sprint. It’s like weight loss in a sort of way. You can’t expect to lose 50 lbs in a day. Add some weeks you’re going to gain weight.

      I’m not sure how bad it is but at one point it got very difficult for me. If I could have done it again I would have taken a period of medical leave just because it affected my work so much. One thing in particular that my therapist pointed out was that I had become so accustomed to feeling down that it was difficult to stop. She basically sounded like a specialist from hoarders at that point because I had dealt with everything while being depressed that it’s a real shock to the system to deal with things not being depressed.

      1. Anon for this?

        Thanks for answering. I know what you mean about it being difficult to stop being down and sad.

        Medication is not an option for me because I will try to get pregnant in the near future. Two miscarriages were the reason I got a major depressive episode on top of the dysthymia and finally sought help; one of the main goals of therapy is to help me through the next pregnancy attempt. I know medication and therapy together would be most effective, but that’s just not going to happen.

        1. NonProfit Noelle

          I was diagnosed with dysthymia 12 years ago. With therapy, it got better. I didn’t take medication. It took a while, and it took finding a good therapist. Word of advice, the right therapist (one you have a good rapport with) is critical.

          Also, for me, it got worse before it got better. Honestly dealing with my stuff instead of burying it was hard work. But, I’m so glad I did. My life is completely different now and I am, deep down into my bones, happy and content with my life.

          I’m sending good thoughts your way.

    2. StillHealing

      I haven’t received your specific diagnosis but I have some encouragement to offer. My experience – Major Depression was one of my diagnosis but depression has been a chronic life long issue for me. That said, after reading about your significant difficulties focusing and that you’ve been crying a lot – personally I don’t consider that mild depression. Pushing yourself to work fulltime right now may not be what’s best for you. Find good doctors, therapists and form a team to get you through this. Difficult to do, but quality medical providers know this and will help you weave a safety net to get you through from Surviving to Thriving. (All my providers now know each other and communicate with each other – sometimes referring patients back and forth)

      I agree with what BRR said about taking Leave from work. For me, I had no choice, I was unable to function in daily life much less work life. I’ve shared before here on AAM, that I was off three years due to being rendered disabled by the Depression and PTSD. Now – I’m working full-time in a permanent position similar to what I left and making very close to the same salary. (I got a lot of help through Department of Vocational Rehabilitation also) I still have about 3-4 doctor appointments each month because my doctors are concerned about the impact the divorce process may/might have on me also, eventually – the goal is to get off of all medications. They need to monitor that process step by step. My old patterning is to push myself too hard. (I’ve successfully come off a couple of my night time medications so far. Yay!)

      I benefited greatly from a variety of long term intensive cognitive therapies as well as different medications. Thing’s Twas told and that I repeat often are, “This is NOT a Race!” And “There is ALWAYS more we can do!” There were moments I felt like arguing with different doctors because I just couldn’t see myself EVER climbing out of the hole I been in. And it seemed like once I got out of a sticky place, there was another level to dig my way out of. (Flasbacks, fears, Night Terrors, abusive childhood issues constantly resurfaced) How was I ever going to truly heal? But, I started celebrating and acknowledging tiny changes and over time, the one step forward two steps back – reversed to where I wasn’t slipping backwards anymore. I was truly moving forward, I could look back and see the ground I’ve covered – which in turn helped propel me forward.

      There were definitely moments where I just wanted to end it all. Healing was too much work. It didn’t matter how hard I tried – the default of suicidal ideation was going to win – I was sure of it. <—- That's Bull Shit ! Don't believe anyone who says or thinks that including yourself! Even that default which had been etched into my brain at a very young age – is GONE!

      Sometimes, I just had to slow down to one breath at a time.

      1. Anon for this?

        My diagnosis is dysthymia with a moderate depressive episode on top of it (see above re: miscarriages). I have always had trouble focusing on work, but it being so bad is new (well, since dysthymia is very long term, new in this context means months, not weeks).

        I truly think that not working at all would make me feel worse, though. My main problem is feeling really useless, so I’m afraid that would be a big trigger for that and make me slide deeper into the depressive episode.

        Thank you, your comment was really helpful!

        1. bobby

          I’m currently in treatment for extremely long-term depression and possible PTSD. Not taking meds because an SSRI is what would be available and I have concerns that it would make it easier for my family to “handle” me but not easier for me to understand and deal with the habits and situations that keep me depresed and the changes I need to make. I find exercise very helpful for mood stabilization and feeling grounded, in control, focused, and “in my body”: 2-5 hours of cardio per week, and I do weight machines in 3 sessions per week for the other stuff, although yoga is also good for strength, and I’m sure other things would also work. Sticking with this is crucial.

          In addition to individual therapy, I’m in group therapy for dialectical behavioral therapy modified for trauma victims. I was depressed many, many years ago due to difficulty getting pregnant, but I discovered eventually that the causes of my depression went back much farther and were buried much deeper than that. Based on what you mentioned about long-term dysthymia, you may want to watch out for /be open to realizing you have feelings you have not let yourself see for whatever reason. Not saying that’s your situation, but it took me a long time to recognize mine, and I’m nowhere near finished.

    3. Sabrina

      I’ve never been dx with it but I’m pretty sure I have it, but who knows. I’ve never found drugs or therapy to work for me, so I don’t think I can offer much help. :(

    4. A good old canuck

      One of the hardest things with dysthymia, is that you have felt low for so long that it can be difficult to imagine feeling better. Cognitive behavioural therapy is excellent treatment. Be patient with yourself and try to attend to the times when you are feeling better (even if it is just a little bit better). It takes work but it will be better. Be realistic and don’t expect to feel better immediately. I wish you the best.

    5. chump with a degree

      It appears that my depression is finally being treated adequately and as a result, the dysthymia is really coming out. It sucks.

  15. Sparkly Librarian

    Has anyone trained espalier fruit trees? I would love some tips from an experienced gardener, as I’m a novice and don’t want to kill expensive plants. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area (Oakland – East Bay) and have a lot of sunlight and mild winter (no freeze) in our microclimate (zone 10a). Next door there’s a vigorously-growing plum tree, so I don’t think we need more of those, but I’m open to other fruit possibilities. I was hoping to get some 2-year-old dwarf apple and pear trees to border one side of our backyard where the previous owners let the fence fall down. They’d be planted in the ground (I’m thinking I’d need a trellis – rebar and cattle panel? or?) and ideally would grow to 4-6′ tall. I’ve only seen a few around here, but they were in the early stages. What would you recommend as far as online ordering, rootstock, when to plant, pruning, etc.? How many can I realistically expect to fit along a 20-foot border?

    1. fposte

      No, but I’ve contemplated it because it’s just so freaking cool.

      Some of the places that sell fruit trees do helpful instructions–Stark Brothers used to have guidelines for espaliered shapes in their catalog, even, and it looks like they might still have it online. I would probably contact a supplier that looks knowledgeable and get their advice on number and supports.

      Do you know the Dave’s Garden website (at davesgarden dot com)? It has a section called the Garden Watchdog that allows you to search for nurseries specializing in fruit trees and see their ratings. (It looks like there used to be an espalier specialist in Sevastapol, in fact, but the website’s dead now.) Stark Brothers is still a top 5 in the fruit tree section; I’d also look at the other four to start, especially anybody on the west coast so your shipping isn’t so horrible and the climate is more like yours.

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        Thanks! I’ll have a look. My dream is the Belgian Fence form (linked in my username), but I really don’t know whether I’ll have the skills to make that happen. Might be worth a paid consult with a local expert.

        1. fposte

          That would be amazing. And that very image is also an example on the Stark Brothers site, so I’m going to put their link about espalier-ing below. It’s a nice overview with some great detail in the comments, which end up being a Q&A.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Start at your local nursery. They will know what is doable in your area. This will save you some bucks just by getting a good launch.

          I stopped at a nursery today that had a pear tree at half price- it was already on an arbor of some kind. And it had little tiny pears, so cute.

          I am not familiar with what grow in CA. If I had to guess 4-6 feet is very short- I would be surprised if you could keep it at that height. But again, I am not familiar with CA. Dwarf trees around here might go about 10 feet high, I would expect the spread to be about 10 feet. So for the long term maybe two trees on a 20 foot boarder? But you might put in an extra so it looks fuller faster and take the extra out later. But the little tree I saw today you could plant every three feet. It was little.

          Start by asking questions at nurseries near you. Try to find an employee who actually does this at home. Just ask if anyone who works there actually does have these trees at home themselves- this would be ideal. If no, maybe there is a specialist that you can call.

          Normal fruit trees can be a lot of work. They come with spraying, fertilizing and pruning schedules, something to be aware of.

          1. fposte

            When you espalier, the energy goes into side growth. I think you’re right that 4′ might be too short, but I’ve seen 6′ against a wall at a park near here.

          2. Sparkly Librarian

            The limbs of a Belgian Fence overlap, so the trunks of the trees are placed much closed together than usual – 2 or 3 feet looks like a common spacing. The third link of fposte’s describes a 6-foot spacing, but that makes much larger diamonds. I’ve found backyard examples of as many as 8 trees along a 15′ fence (diamonds 2’x2′). I think the closeness will inhibit some of their natural vigor, but yes, I do expect to spend a fair amount of time pruning.

            I’ll ask around for recommendations on a local nursery. We’re in an urban area without a car, so it’s a considerable investment of time and other logistics to visit one of the several far-flung locations. My mom loves that kind of all-day driving and shopping, and has offered lots of times to help with getting the house set up, so maybe I’ll ask her to come up and spend a weekend day doing that. But before that – more research!

      2. NoCalHR

        Try Four Winds Nursery (fourwindsgrowers dot com). They specialize in dwarf fruit trees and also carry full-size trees of all sorts – really great folks, helpful and relatively local. I have dwarf Myer lemon, lime, and calamondin trees from the, and added a fig tree this summer.

        1. NoCalHR

          Sorry, forgot to add that I’m also SF Bay Area – East Bay (Sunset zone 17) and my citrus trees (2 years old this summer) bloom and fruit year round!

  16. Sunshine Brite

    Drinking red wine with strawberries and finally watching Season 10 of Supernatural. Great afternoon.

    1. brightstar

      I’m curious what your reaction to the finale will be. I’m not spoiling so I will say no more.

      1. Sunshine Brite

        Probably freaking out like whoa with my best friend because that seems to be what’s happened so far during finales, haha.

    2. Claire (Scotland)

      Oooh, I’ve got the last 8 eps (or so) of that to watch. I should do that!

  17. M.

    I’ve decided to change around my living situation a bit. I have roommates that for various reasons never pay me their full share of the rent. There are three of us living here and it’s supposed to be each person pays 1/3 of the expenses or $140/week which better for the month but no less than what they are responsible for. My roommates are engaged and the woman hasn’t worked since Feb. At first it was okay, since her mom was pregnant and high risk we all agreed it was for the best that she stayed out of work until the baby was born, just in case. Well, its been almost three months since, the guy can’t give me the full 2/3 they owe me every month. He usually waits until a week before its due to tell me they can’t afford it this month. He’s finally got a job that pays a few dollars more but its also an hour or so away and in a state that has income tax so extra money goes to gas and taxes.

    I want to tell them that they have to move out. I don’t know exactly what to say. I have someone lined up to move in. The problem right this moment is that I’m inbetween jobs. Had to quit the last one when the new frangrance formula made me too sick. Was supposed to start a new one, but this new temp agency seems to be dragging their feet. I’d rather wait for the employment to start but I know I need to give these people a heads up as well. Every time I change who is on my lease as a tenant the management company reassess my household income to see if I qualify or not still (If no tenant changes, they just renew my lease without reassessment). Worse comes to worse, I can always go back to my last job, and just wait for this new one to start.

    Also, I found out that my friends are selling their trailer. I’m interested in buying it, but with this whole temp agency dragging their feet, its starting to become a problem. Last Job and Next Job are both show up, fill out paperwork, and start jobs so this delay shouldn’t be happening! But yeah, um, how to I tell my current roommates that they need to leave?

    1. CoffeeLover

      Aren’t you going from paying 1/3 of the rent (plus a bit of theirs) to paying 1/2 of the rent if you get just one other roommate? Anyway, I’m no expert on this, but I think the first thing you need to do is give them as much notice as possible. It can be hard finding a place especially when they’re struggling financially. You have someone else lined up to live move in, but is this person someone you know? A friend? If yes, then maybe you can approach it as if you want to live with this other person, rather than you don’t want to live with them. Regardless, you should let them know that your finances are strained and you can no longer pay for their share of the rent. I don’t know how reasonable these people are, but it can be hard to get someone to move out when you’re renting together. If you don’t pay for their share, then the landlord can kick you both out. You might end up having to move into a new place at the end of it.

      1. M.

        I’m already paying pretty much all the rent. They know that I can’t be paying all that myself. But they keep saying things like “well we have the phone bill, and medical bills, and the credit card, and our families want to see us so we have to go see them, and the new video game came out…” and I’m going “shouldn’t keeping a roof over your head be priority?”. I haven’t had health insurance in over four years, I go to the emergency room all the time for health issues. I think they also see my SSDI as extra money. I had to quit my job and I discussed them with them extensively, gave my notice and came home that day to “Well I think we may be moving a few months because of the commute to my new job and my friend rents an apartment for $750 so its cheaper…” (they can’t afford to give me $500/mo, which is less than what they are supposed to give me).

        1. CoffeeLover

          I think the fact they’ve mentioned moving makes the conversation a lot easier. Now it’s just about setting some firm deadlines. Say something like: “You mentioned you’re planning to move to be closer to your new job, so I put some feelers out and I found someone to move in. She needs to move in by Nov. 1, so can you find a place by then?” Go from there, but keep Nov. 1 as a firm deadline. Say your new roomies lease is up or something if they try to push it back.

          You were very generous with them and they took advantage of that generosity. I’m sorry you have to deal with them.

          1. M.

            Yeah. That seems the best way. I’d rather them out sooner than later as I really need the help paying rent and utilities. I’m behind over $350 on power alone, I don’t want to even think about the cable/internet (which he said he’d pay for). Even though all she does is watch Netflix all day and make videos on the computer they seem to think that they aren’t using so much power to make the bill be so high each month. Up until a week ago I was either at work or sleeping so, it wasn’t me driving the bill up. They are supposed to be responsible for 2/3 of both bills. We’re gonna get shut off soon and there is nothing I can do about it. But she’s gonna yell and scream about it again. Even though they are the ones that can’t pay its not their fault apparently.

            1. CoffeeLover

              You can bump up the date (Sept 1?). I was just using Nov. 1 as an example. I was giving them more time since it’s going to be pretty difficult to get them to leave if they haven’t found another place yet. It does depend on your rental market and they really should be able to find a place in a month. You might end up having to drive the search a bit since they don’t seem like the motivated type, although I would caution against being too involved in finding them a new place.

        2. Not So NewReader

          Video game? no, no, no. “That is not my problem that a new video game came out. I need your share of the rent money, now.”

          SSDI: That is none of their business where your income comes from. I don’t care if you win a million dollars in a lottery. It has no bearing here. Their agreement with you was to pay X amount. They need to do that.

          Try not to think about their poor planning process and just stick to the point that they need to leave.
          It’s tough, once someone is living with you it is really hard to get them to leave if they do not want to. I hope things get better very soon.

    2. Ruffingit

      Give them two months notice, which I think is long enough and let them know they have to be out because you need to change your own living situation. Frankly, given that one of them works an hour away, it would likely make more sense for them to move closer to that job. In any case, you should not be paying for their share so often. Sure, we all find ourselves in a tight spot now and again and someone else covers us financially, but it sounds like it happens a lot with these two. Time to move on in my view.

      1. M.

        The woman begged the old temp agency that we were using (we worked at the same place, but they were old friends of mine from back in like high school) for her job back earlier last month after being out of work for a few months. She worked one day, wasn’t happy, came to work with me the next day and at lunch she was like “This place make me feel like I want to die,” and walked off the job. Her line was already short, and she just walked off the property and had her boyfriend, my other roommate, come pick her up at the supermarket down the street. So I’m pretty much done with them. Not even trying to just keep an income in.

        1. the gold digger

          walked off the job.

          She had a job and quit? For no other reason than she didn’t like it? Does she not understand that liking your job is a bonus – that most of us work because we need to keep a roof over our heads?

          Ditch her. Ditch her now. Let her suffer the consequences of her irresponsibility. You should not have to pay for her choices.

          1. M.

            And it was a job she had previously. That she begged the temp agency to take her back for. That she had quit without notice previously. And her boyfriend just let her. He wants to like support her and stuff I guess, but really they can’t afford this.

    3. Cristina in England

      Paging The Other Dawn!

      It may be different if you’re an owner and occupier with roommates instead of a straight landlord/tenant situation, but make sure you follow the legal requirements of giving notice, etc, in your state, and then some. A lot of places (esp. blue states and cities) make it hard to actually evict people so if you can hurry the process along by being generous with notice and keep the relationship good, it would be for the best all around.
      As for what to say… maybe just say you’re struggling to meet mortgage payments with your temp agency and the lack of timely rent coming in, so you need to get someone else in. I am sure someone else can come up with a better script than that. Be as honest as possible while protecting yourself by not saying too much and giving too much wiggle room.

      1. Margo

        This is true. But on the other hand, once they’re out, you should consider suing them in small claims court for the money they owe you.

        They’re shamelessly taking advantage of you, and now they’ve figured out they can keep doing it. I hope you’re able to put your foot down!

        1. Cristina in England

          Small claims court is the thing I think she should avoid. If you’ve been following The Other Dawn’s tenant eviction saga, it has taken AGES to get the court ruling, and then even longer to get the money, all of which she doesn’t have yet.

          1. Margo

            I’m not familiar with The Other Dawn’s story, but that sounds miserable. :( Note that there’s a lot of variation in how the court system works depending on the city/state where you live – for instance, a family member of mine was recently able to get a claim resolved quickly in her local court. At any rate, I agree court should be a last resort, but it might be better than nothing if it comes to it.

            1. The Other Dawn

              Small claims can seem like a waste of time since, even though the plaintiff might win, it’s up to the plaintiff to collect the money and then pay to get an order to garnish wages and bank accounts if the defendant doesn’t pay. However, at the very least it puts a big black mark on their credit report and makes it public knowledge that they’re deadbeats. That’s why I filed small claims. Even though I was dead broke after this whole ordeal, I still found the money to pay for the small claims case fee. It was worth it for me just to make sure a big black mark went on their credit reports. Any money I got back was just icing on the cake.

      2. The Other Dawn

        Yes. Give the proper notice *in writing*, don’t do anything to piss them off, be very civil, and just go about your business. And remember, this is business. It’s not personal. People are expected to pay their own way in life. You shouldn’t have to foot the bill for a couple of freeloaders.

        I have no idea if you would have to actually go through the eviction process, but if you do, give written notice now. Don’t wait. It will take months to get them out even if you give notice today, so be prepared for that if you have to actually formally evict. Meaning, be prepared to be emotionally drained, resentful, outraged, and pissed off most of the time, and also be prepared to be paying 100% of the rent and bills for the next, say, 5 to 6 months. And also be prepared to pay court costs, marshal costs, etc. and expect to get zero of that, including the rent and bills, back. Expect that as soon as you give them notice to GTFO, any hope of getting any money from them is slim to none. But at least there will be an end in sight.

        At first I thought maybe they were just down on their luck. But then you mentioned travel and video games so any sympathy for them went right out the window.

        You can try the sympathy card if you want: “I’m X months behind on the bills, power is about to be shut off, etc., etc.” But that stuff is usually wasted on people like this. They don’t see it as taking advantage of you; they see it as “surviving” and “doing what they have to do.” You know what? You’re doing what YOU have to do.

        Sorry to be so pessimistic, but I went through it and it sucked the life out of me for five months. I took the tenants to small claims to get my money back. I won, but I only get 35.00 a week…on a total bill of $5,000.00. And if the husband decides to stop paying, I have to pay to attach his wages and bank accounts.

    4. the gold digger

      Paying the rent is a pretty essential part of a lease contract.

      I am not willing to bankrupt myself so that others might have a place to live. I would be very direct:

      “I am giving you a month’s notice – and here it is in writing – that you need to move out unless you pay me all the past due rent of $X and also pay me a deposit of $Y. I am sure you understand that I cannot afford to cover the rent all by myself and need to find someone who can pay every month.”

      I would be surprised if they were not already expecting this.

  18. Kay

    I need house renovation commiseration.

    We have a lovely 1928 Dutch Colonial. We’ve had it about two months now. It is really in pretty darn good shape, we got a great price on it, and we adore it.

    However. It needs to be rewired (scheduled in 2 weeks), it needs an energy overhaul (audit folks quoted us $32k of work whyyyyyyy), and every inch of it is covered in 1980s wallpaper and wall-to-wall carpeting. The yard is in terrible shape, and an upstairs bathroom has no shower and the configuration of the space is making it really hard to figure out how to put one in.

    We are lucky enough to have handy families and the funding (and/or access to low-interest loans, in the case of the energy work) and the love for the space and the plans to make it all happen.

    But ugh, even with that it is a TON of stress! Someone tell me that this, too shall pass? Or tell me to calm the hell down, it’s a 30 year mortgage, it doesn’t all have to get done the first summer we live there?

    1. Alistair

      It most certainly does not need to be all fixed in one summer! We’ve been in our house for 7 years, and there’s still plenty of things we’ve wanted to work on since Day One.

      The only things you need to take care of ASAP are fixing unsafe things. You’re getting the rewiring done, that’s really good. Make sure you’ve got smoke detectors, CO detectors (if you have natural gas), and fire extinguishers. Change locks/deadbolts, make sure you can secure the windows and doors.

      Once you’re safe, work on the energy audit, because that can save you money in the long run.

      Then just work on the looks as you go, little by little. Like I said, we’re 7 years in, and still doing things little by little!

      Good luck!

    2. DeadQuoteOlympics

      You made me laugh, as the owner of a 1926 bungalow. It’s time to calm the hell down — it doesn’t have to all get done at once, your impatience will fade. In fact, going through a significant project can actually make you want to slow down and live with certain things just to spread out the disruption. It took us 7 years to redo the upstairs bathroom and tear out all the galvanized plumbing, and here at year 15 we are finally going to do the kitchen. I don’t think we’ll ever redo the driveway before we finally sell it.

      I realized that upthread I responded to a rental question. If anyone is keeping track and is wondering whether I have an evil twin who posts under my name, I rent an apartment in the city I work in, but my family still lives in another town two hours away — no one was thrilled about making my son switch to another high school and my husband still works in the area. We swap driving on the weekends and I get the joys of both home ownership and renting.

    3. Steve G

      We bought a (I believe 1929) NYC townhouse in Queens, about 4 miles from Midtown, in November, and there was 6 weeks of major cleanup before I could even move stuff in, and it wasn’t until about mid April that I was able to unpack enough to make it livable.

      The bathroom downstairs still needs to get done, but I can’t deal with another renovation right now. It is stressful having people in and out all of the time, especially because many contractors like to start early.

      The part I hated the most was the garbage and cleaning. Every time they sawed something or drilled a hole, it was like there was a new layer of dust on everything, even rooms I tried to keep closed off. It was a pain! I did live in a hotel for 2 separate weeks, once when the floors were being done, and once when the kitchen was getting redone because I couldn’t stand it!

    4. TootsNYC

      The only things that *need* to be done right away are safety things and “integrity of the structure” things (roof, moisture, leaks, etc.)

      And then maybe fix things that are costing you money, or wasting money.
      That might seem like the energy audit stuff–but I’d get a bunch more estimates, and I’d look into whether any of those fixes can be done in steps.

    5. YWD

      Advice a friend gave me when I was buying my house – “Owning a house is a marathon, not a sprint. You need to pace yourself!”

      It’s so true. I echo what others here have said. Take care of the safety concerns first. Then figure out a plan for the rest of it that works with your budget and lifestyle. Don’t spend so much time changing things that you don’t have time to appreciate what you already have.

    6. The Other Dawn

      We have a 1920 colonial (the old house) and a 1735 colonial (the new house). We lived in the old house for 18 years and still had things we never got to because we were more concerned about cosmetics than a new roof, etc. We were always overwhelmed with what we felt needed to be done, which caused us to spend more money than we should and not spend it wisely. With the new house we concentrated on the big stuff, like making sure we have safe well water, a working furnace, and running water. Those are the things you should concentrate on. All the cosmetic stuff can wait. You have plenty of time. If someone is rude enough to ask why you haven’t done anything with the yard, tell them you felt that not having your house hurt down from old faulty wiring was more of a priority.

    7. Not So NewReader

      I live in a 180 year old school house. They built it with whatever they had on hand at the time. This means nothing is standardized there’s a 4×4 beam next to an 8×8 beam. The floor of one room is out of square by 9 inches on the width, because why would you measure? Just go by eyeballing, it will be fine.

      All this has me thinking about building codes. Nothing here has been measured or done with standardized lumber and yet the place is a standing and viable home almost 200 years later. How did that happen?

      Anyway, houses are a money pit. Even if you revamp the house to your liking, I can almost promise you that your tastes and needs will change and the revamp will need revamping.

      This is your home.
      Take your time, make your choices carefully and thoughtfully. The house isn’t going to runaway if you don’t have it all fixed tomorrow.

      Obviously, target any health/safety issue you feel you have going on, first. Then target issues that make the house more useful to you. In some instances you will be glad you did not do everything all at once because you may like your secondary ideas better than your initial ideas.

      I am doing a lot of tag sales to pick up what I need for my repairs here. I have found plenty of rolls of insulation (to replace the bricks they used). I also found electrical supplies such as wiring, electrical boxes and switch plates. I have picked up small buckets of paint free and bought 5 gallon buckets for $5.
      Learn where the clearance centers are in your area for building supplies. I found a fire door for my furnace room at one of these places. That was very odd, because the door was the right size for the narrow doorway I have. You would never know I found it on a clearance rack. Odd stuff.
      In a few short months I have learned all the clearance stores in my area and I have learned where every Home Depot and Lowe’s in a 25 mile radius keeps their clearance stuff.
      Also keep an eye on your local newspaper for places going out of business. I found one that did remodeling/redecorating. I picked up two $1200 cabinets for $75 each.

      The whole idea that we have to rush to get everything done all at once is an illusion. Hang on to that thought. Think of it as an opportunity to create something. It’s also an opportunity to make parts of the house suit YOU and a shift away from what suited someone else a while ago.

      I am on a limited budget here, so I have made it a game. “Let me see how I can reduce this cost or reduce this expenditure.” Some things I cannot impact such as getting my chimney fixed. So I have to let that one go and look at reducing costs on a different repair. Maybe if you turn it into a game to challenge your creativity that might help.

    1. Relosa

      Best? Walking Dead trailer and my ipsy bag being dispatched.

      Worst? Unemployed and broke. I haven’t left the house in a week. Trying to go visit a friend today but it might not happen.

      1. Happy/Sad

        A little sympathy on the unemployed, broke, and home-bound thing. For what it’s worth, I tried bike-riding and bought $1 flowers, so I have to go out and water them every day. Some people like walking. Anything for a little fresh air.

        1. Relosa

          Yeah I’m going stir- crazy. I feel really bummed about not being able to go hang with my friend – rooftop pool AND a cutie mutual friend along that I have a small crush on. Sigh.

      2. Steve G

        I’m unemployed as well, but seriously, get out of the house! Go on a walk! Where are you? The weather is gorgeous in the NE! Get vitamin D while we have summer, in case we have another horrible winter!

        I am always out even when posting here, you have to make yourself go places when you are unemployed, but the effort is worth it!

        1. Relosa

          I have a dog, so we walk 2 – 3 miles each day – I’m getting sunshine and stuff. But I’m not getting out of the neighborhood – things are so tight that I can only leave for super-important things, like – work lol

          1. Steve G

            Oh OK one of my (passed, God rest her soul) grandmother’s would get “spells” of depression and literally not leave the house for days so I was just hoping it wasn’t literal for you too!

            Fortunately I am in NYC so I can at least walk to many places, but yeah, small expenses do add up.

          2. Steve G

            What kind of dogs, BTW? I’ve had 3 English Springer Spaniels in my life, current one is 7. They all look different, but as puppies? Very, very cute! We adopted a golden lab but it ran away and was never found. It was very hyper. Coincidentally he disappeared for the last time the Friday after 9/11. I was in college at the time and came out from the inner-suburbs where I lived at the time in a really bad mood about what had happened, and my mom was like, yeah, that wasn’t the only bad thing that happened this week, the (new) dog dug a huge hole and escaped our acre. And we/they had been walking him for an hour+ a day at that point so it wasn’t like he was ignored….uh, I miss him…

            1. Relosa

              I have an 11 year old Malamute/White Shepherd mix, Czar. He’s a doll.

              So sad when dogs run away :(

              Ugh! That reminds me of my other Worst Of this week: when I was walking Czar on Monday, a pitbull got loose and was running down the street, her owner tearing after her. He caught up to her and reached out to grab her just in time for the pooch to run into oncoming traffic. I ran across the road and started CPR right away, but she was gone. It was all head trauma. It was awful :(

              1. Steve G

                That sounds like a cool dog, I love big dogs + ones that look wolf life!

                I had a runaway dog story that ended well. I was about 1/2 a mile into the woods with my 2nd English springer spaniel, a few deer run by. Completely normal, I don’t even blink. He decided to run after them! I am screaming, but he is gone. I am totally scared. I yell for him and look for him for about an hour. I was only 21 so still was at home on weekends so went home, scared to what my parents would say, and my dog was there! It was like 2 miles away, but you would have to go on a very very busy road that is only 2 lanes but traffic is going like 50 mph in parts with no shoulder in areas. It turns out, my sister happened to be driving back from here day at some event (I forget exactly) and as soon she drives by, my dog runs out of the woods almost in front of the car in front of my sister!

                It was like the most perfect timing of anything, ever.

                Of course my sister still doesn’t shut up about it, even though I trained the current one to be better when not on a leash….

    2. Hellanon

      Best: going to the Hollywood Bowl twice! Both times to see the Philharmonic & a program of lush romantic music – love it.

      Worst: there are still illegal fireworks going off in my neighborhood…

      1. Relosa

        hello fellow Angeleno.

        Fireworks started a week or two before the holiday, and still haven’t entirely let up yet. My poor dog :( Also, pistols.

        1. Hellanon

          Sounded like they were shelling down here on the actual 4th – M80-s or cherry bombs, I’m not sure, but they kept setting off every car alarm in the neighborhood for extra fun times. My cats hate it too.

      2. Elizabeth West

        I love the Hollywood Bowl!!! I’ve been twice too, both times to see John Williams’ Maestro of the Movies concerts with soundtrack friends (some the same people I saw Titanic Live with in London). When I was a kid, watching the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he tortures an opera singer, and I found out that was a real place, I wanted to go there so badly.

        Los Angeles is fun. It’s one of the few big cities I could live in, if I could afford it.

    3. Lady Bug

      On the same day:

      Best: seeing my favorite singer perform an acoustic show, I was right up front, and got to meet him and speak to him for like a minute.

      worst: had a scope of my bladder with a camera (owwwwwwwwwwwwwwww)

    4. LizB

      Best: Going out to dinner with friends to a delicious burger place, and laughing our heads off at dumb jokes because we were all overtired from moving.

      Worst: Too many trips to IKEA, leading to too much time putting together IKEA furniture. If I never see one of those stupid little wooden dowels again, I will be happy.

    5. danr

      Best… It’s hot and not humid this weekend.
      Worst: I pulled a muscle in my back, but not on the side that had the surgery. It’s getting better, but it’s slow.

      1. fposte

        Did you know it was a muscle right away or did you freak out? I’m still only gardening in teeny little intervals and I panic at every back twinge.

        Sorry about the pull and hope it settles down fast.

        1. danr

          I was pretty sure it was a muscle pull since I didn’t have shooting pains down my leg. And still don’t. :)=

    6. manomanon

      Best… I’m going to brunch at a new place tomorrow with friends.
      Worst…. My roommate is making me crazier than normal and he’s complicating the process of finding a third roommate unnecessarily.

    7. Mimmy

      All shore related:
      Best:
      -Yesterday was the highlight of the week with perfect beach weather and celebrating my dad’s birthday. Also had a wonderful chat with my sister.

      Worst:
      -See first post about my niece.
      2 honorable mentions:
      – Seemed like we had the cast of Jersey Shore at the house next to us over the July 4th weekend. They partied pretty much nonstop.
      – The beach behind the house included a sewage thing – kinda hard to explain, but it’s designed to prevent flooding if there is a breach. The water that came out of it was NASTY. One evening, we had extremely heavy rain. That evening, there was brown water over a good chunk of the sand; the water I think overflowed–and went right about where my nieces (and nephews too I think?) were swimming. Ewwwww.

    8. Amber Rose

      Best: free pancakes and sausages every day. Mmm.

      Worst: everything is on fire (I heard 120 fires last, and only a few controlled) and my weak lungs are crapping out on me. It hurts to breathe, there’s so much smoke in the air. :(

      1. Finny

        Agreed on both counts. Plus, for myself and the husband it’s just been too darn hot to even consider going to the grounds.

      2. Al Lo

        Freeeee pancake week! :)

        We did make it down to the grounds on Wednesday — stole my nephews so we could get in for kids’ day, and then went back in the evening for the Grandstand show. We did a lot less this year, and spent a lot less than we usually do, but it was still good.

    9. Elkay

      Best: It’s been a good week: spoilt rotten on my birthday, bonus at work, catching up with a friend and a long weekend away.

      Worst: In law stresses

    10. Happy/Sad

      Best: Made bbq for the first time myself, holla!
      Worst: Not getting a call for a job I thought I was a shoe-in for

    11. Nashira

      Best: I made an appointment to go see a psychiatrist regarding my probable PTSD. Seeing doctors is a HUGE TRIGGER, so this is a major win. It’s only taken like 12 years for me to go.

      Worst: I am not so quietly losing my mind from fear. Angry to thinking about suicide to nightmares to ugh. I see my therapist Tuesday, and my husband is helping me cope but… Ugh. It cannot be the 22nd soon enough.

      1. Not So NewReader

        May your path get easier and your fears be relieved. Let’s us know how you are doing. Positive vibes being sent your way.

    12. Florida

      Hey ruffingit, how come you always post this, but you never add what your best and worst is? We want to hear from you too. :)

      1. Ruffingit

        I sometimes post this and then dash off to do something else and forget to post my own later :)

        Best: Seeing the Minions movie tonight.

        Worst: See above posting re: abusive brother.

        1. Ann Furthermore

          I’m taking my daughter and one of her friends to see Minions tomorrow. My daughter has informed me that she’ll be wearing her Minion pants and Minion shirt to see the Minions movie.

        2. Connie-Lynne

          My sister’s in England right now for a teacher conference (AT OXFORD. So proud of her). When she gets back I’m driving down to LA and we’re gonna go see the Minion Movie at the drive-in together.

          I’m pretty stoked.

          1. Ruffingit

            Make sure to stay until all the credits roll because there’s a cute little scene at the end of the credits. My husband and I were the only ones who saw it because everyone else left as the credits rolled.

            1. Connie-Lynne

              Oh definitely! I still have friends in the movie biz so I’m a die-hard credit watcher.

    13. Kyrielle

      If I can go back a full seven days, the Fourth of July was the best! I got some VERY good pictures of the fireworks that I’m proud of. And I had a blast with my boys at the festival/parade before that, and fun in the park. https://www.flickr.com/photos/kyrielle/sets/72157655490778181 for the pictures….

      Worst…hmm. Stress over child discipline, or dealing with my IBS, one of the two. Whee. The IBS is nothing new and is actually better than before, and the child discipline is part of having kids, so either way the best of the week far outweighs the worst. :)

    14. Anonymosity

      BEST: Got to spend fifteen minutes or so talking to Work Crush on Wednesday. I was in the stairwell running laps (all sweaty and ponytailed, LOL) and he came out of one of the doors. He looked glad to see me, like “Oh hi! :)” We had a nice conversation. I did some tentative questioning and I don’t think there is anyone. I almost asked him for coffee, but it just didn’t feel quite right in the moment. If it does, I might ask. I know it’s not “modern,” but I kind of wish he would ask me instead.

      WORST: Another weekend alone. *sigh* Crush never makes any effort to run into me; it just happens. We’ll bump into each other and then I don’t see him for a couple of days. Grr. Oh well, he’s way way way (I’m suspecting WAY, as in he could be my kid) younger than I am anyway. I’m wasting my energy even thinking about it, I’m sure. Just like with every other person I’ve ever liked. Inappropriate and wrong. Wrong person, wrong timing, wrong everything. But I never meet anyone who is appropriate. Money is tight and the wolf is always at the door, it seems. I don’t have the money to move out of here, and I’ve tried literally every single thing I can think of (online, church, going out, doing things I like, asking friends if they know anyone which they never do or can be bothered, etc.). I’m pretty much done. I don’t know how things ended up like this and I kind of wish I were not here anymore sometimes. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone and if I have to, I want it to be over.

      1. Laura Beth

        Aw, the end of your worst makes me sad, Anonymosity :( I completely understand wanting to share your life with someone, but you are important and worthy EVEN IF it never works out the way you want. I decided a few years ago to try to look at it this way: that if I meet someone, great, and if not, then I will be happy and fulfilled in my life by myself. I hope you can get to a point where the thought of a life alone is not something that makes you want yours to be over. Maybe try something new and completely unrelated to dating that you think would make you happy – a hobby, a sport, learning a new language, etc. Perhaps also some counseling, or a hotline if you feel you are to that point? I truly hope things get better for you soon, and I will be sending good vibes your way.

        1. Anonymosity

          I have a hobby. I do a sport. Neither of those things is a substitute. I don’t need counseling–I need a goddamn partner.

          Thanks for the vibes though. Appreciated.

          1. Today's anon

            I would second counseling – I wonder if you are not turning people away with this single focus on wanting a partner is not a turn-off and I also would want to explore why you feel you are attracted mostly to people who are inappropriate. Both of these might be getting in your way.

            1. Anonymosity

              I tried a while back through my company’s EAP and ended up with the worst person ever. My old therapist, who I really liked, doesn’t take my insurance now and I can’t afford to pay him out of pocket. Anyway, I am SICK of therapy. I’ve been doing it most of my life and I’m tired of spending money and time on it.

              I keep myself open to appropriate. Everyone decent I’ve met who is even slightly my type is already taken (so far). Everybody here gets married when they’re like, twelve. :P I tried going off type and it ended in disaster, even though I really liked the person.

              One thing I don’t understand about this place is that I have met NO ONE here. I have met people everywhere else I’ve lived, even in a small place where there should have been nothing. It’s completely freaky. It’s like the second I moved to this place, everything just stopped dead. I can’t explain it and I don’t get it. It’s like being in the Twilight Zone, where everything looks normal but it’s not!

              1. one who'll walk across the fire for

                Long story short: I think you should ask Work Crush out for a coffee. I think you’re over-thinking this entire notion of “appropriate”, and that as long as Work Crush is over 18yo, it’s okay. Have you ever considered that he might feel about the same about you, but perhaps he feels like you’re out of his league? You might have to take the lead to get things started.

                It would be inappropriate here, but I could tell you some fascinating stories about men dating older women. As relationships go, they can be very good, and also very ‘balanced’ in the sense that both partners may happily benefit from it.

    15. AvonLady Barksdale

      Best: I bought two pairs of pants today. PANTS. Well, they’re technically jeans and therefore stretchy, but they fit and they look good and they were on sale. I am a big-hipped lady who hates shopping, so this is good stuff.

      Worst: I injured my hip a few weeks ago and it just won’t get better. Granted, I’m doing things I shouldn’t and stretching it in weird ways, but I just wish I would stop walking like an old lady (or my stepfather with his bad back).

      1. Stephanie

        OMG, I’m looking for pants now. (Also a big-hipped lady.) I want alcohol. Or a salty snack. (My love of both are probably contributing to my difficulty finding pants.)

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          TALBOTS. For real. They (and Ann Taylor and Old Navy and a bunch of other places) are having a sale. The store near me had up to a size 18 in most styles (I’m a 14 or a 16, depending on the cut– these are 16s).

          I had plenty of alcohol today, though I have cut back significantly. I went from at least 1 glass of wine a night plus lots of beer and cocktails on the weekends to 1 glass every other day (if that), a 1/2 pint of beer occasionally, and a few cocktails on the weekends. Definitely less bloated and I lost about 10 pounds right away. I say this only to justify the two delicious drinks I had this evening– a spicy pineapple margarita with empanadas for dinner, followed by a very interesting mezcal cocktail with grapefruit, Campari and beer.

          Tl;dr– never fear, Stephanie, as I will have your alcohol AND your salty snacks FOR YOU.

          1. Relosa

            I was bartending for awhile. After I stopped, I missed having lots of liquor, so I went and pretty much stocked myself a nice little home bar. I am now the margarita master – and I looove spicy ones!

        2. AvonLady Barksdale

          TALBOTS. Seriously. They’re having a big sale right now (as are many other places). The store near me had up to size 18 on the racks– I’m a 14 or a 16, depending on the day, and these are 16s.

          I recently cut back on the booze and am feeling a lot less bloated (and I lost about 10 pounds), but that just means I drink 3 cocktails on a weekend instead of 6 (sounds alarming! My boyfriend likes to mix). I had a spicy pineapple margarita while eating empanadas for dinner, so I had your alcohol AND your salty snacks.

    16. Trixie

      Best: Saw a internal job posting i’m really excited to apply for.
      Worst: Was late to a class this week which was just bad. Luckily folks stayed and it’s not part of a continuing pattern.

    17. one who'll walk across the fire for

      I was blessed with a lot of “Best” this week:

      My boss called me last week, we talked through a few plans and issues, and he ends with “Hey – I got you a 5% raise.”

      My son and daughter are home for the weekend.

      Google’s Deep Dream neural network software makes me so happy I could cry. I can’t wait to see what it’s doing a year from now.

      By comparison, I feel like a whiny-baby over my “Worst”:

      For the sake of marital bliss I had to disassemble my workstation; am rebuilding in another room. It is not a trivial project.

      A close friend moved to the other side of the world last year, and of late she seems to be giving me the “slow fade”. Although she was kind enough to send me a recent photo. Which didn’t really help.

    18. Windchime

      Best: Had an unusually busy social week, including going to Magic Mike with a friend (the movie was so bad but we had such a blast).

      Worst: I may have re-injured my heel that had the Achilles’ repair 18 months ago. The familiar burning pain and swelling is back. Boooo.

    19. Bea W

      BEST – spending quality time with the critters
      WORST – things that happened at work – to find something “worst” outside of work it would have to be …. crap I can’t think of anything. Work things are stressing me out, and I can’t sleep and feel like crap. It’s pretty bad.

    20. Connie-Lynne

      BEST: GOING TO THE HELLO KITTY SUPERCUTE FRIENDSHIP FESTIVAL WITH THREE OTHER HUGE HELLO KITTY FANS INCLUDING MY FRIEND WHO IS VISITING FROM LA IT HAS BEEN PRETTY AMAZING.

      Worst: Debilitating cramps this morning

      1. Connie-Lynne

        Seriously, that is what it’s called, “Hello Kitty’s Supercute Friendship Festival.”

        The staff wear T-shirts that say “Supercute Staff” on the back.

    21. Blue_eyes

      Best: Got to see two plays and a concert this week and got to drink outdoors with friends on 3 different days.

      Worst: Still looking for a full-time job for the fall.

  19. Relosa

    This is a bit deeper than I’d expect, but this community is pretty legit I’d say.

    So: my ex-best friend, E, is a narcissist. Not like, oh, hey look at me, I’m so pretty – but a legitimately disordered personality.

    The reason we are ex-friends is because of his abuse of me. It was really, really bad. After several months of us slowly sliding beyond help, I finally just up and cut him off and went No Contact – this was about a year and some ago.

    Since then, I’ve moved cross-country, changed my number, started a new life, and forgiven him – but of course right as I finally get to forgetting about him, he crops back up in my life. He passed along a brief message through a mutual friend, J. I fretted about it for a few days, but then decided to give him the attention he wanted I went Gray Rock on him, and I think it worked – I haven’t heard hide nor hair from him since, except for him creeping on my LinkedIn yesterday morning (I promptly blocked him).

    It all seems so innocent enough but even now, three months after I heard from him, it’s still bothering me and I’m having a hard time navigating it. I’m still friends with J and all of our other mutual contacts (honestly I’d have to lose many, many friends if I were to cut them off as well, and I’m glad that I haven’t had to yet because they have all been kind and respectful, even though none of them know what actually went down about E and I ‘divorcing’ – they just know it happened). It’s not that the topic of E is strictly prohibited – I enjoy our good memories together and things like that, so he naturally comes up in conversation – but we just don’t talk about him as we have our own independent friendship.

    One of my concerns is that if you find narc abuse recovery self-help sites, it’s all fire-and-brimstone and it makes me feel paranoid when I read and try to work through exercises. I know that in his heart of hearts he isn’t a deliberately evil person, he’s just sick and doesn’t know any better, and I can’t be around him, because he will continue to abuse me. But when I could afford therapy, I wasn’t getting much help there either. I know it’s because there is little to no hope for narcissists anyway, but all the same.

    When I get freaked out by it – I hesitate using PTSD but I guess you could say it’s a mild form of that – it helps to talk it out with friends – ones that never knew him – but it doesn’t stop the obsessive constant looking-over-my-shoulder feeling. I just want to forget about him and put him behind me entirely. I had that for awhile, but it feels different now that I have moved, settled in to a new life, and everything – and then he pops up again like that.

    Has anyone else been through this? What helped you?

    1. M.

      First, I’m so sorry you have to deal with this.

      I had a roommate that was my best friend, really like my brother, and he’s a total narcissistic psychopath. It was fine for a few months, but then he started to date a girl that he’d had his eye on his entire life. Everything became about him. He also got a contract that he had been wanting but needed support. Suddenly since I was out of work because of mental illness he was controlling my days. It was always “I need you here,” “You need to do this”, “I can’t let you go _____, because I need your car for _____”. He constantly threatened me. Turns out, he wasn’t treating his best friend any better but that’s a whole different story. Eventually he got married and I had to kick him out because of it.

      So… Yeah. The whole experience did nothing but add on another trauma to my already diagnosed PTSD. And it seems like you might have PTSD from your experience, but you’d be better talking to an actual licensed professional about it, and there is NOTHING wrong if you did develop it. It takes time. Lots of time. And you need to feel safe. It may mean telling him to back off, telling your mutual friends that you don’t want to hear from him so please do not pass on any messages he may send, and as much as I hate to say it, you may need to start making new friends, ones that aren’t associated with him. You can keep your old friends, but new ones may help you feel better. Also, if you ask that he leaves you alone and he continues, do document it. It may seem like paranoia, but you do also need to feel safe.

      Also, counseling. If you can’t afford it (and I understand that, boy do I get it), see if there are any nonprofits in your area that offer it. Or a group. You may benefit from group better, I know when I finally tried to kill myself, the inpatient group ended up benefiting me more than individual because I realized, I wasn’t alone, nothing I felt was stupid or silly.

      Anyway this is getting long, so I’m gonna stop. Not sure if I said anything helpful but I’m hoping you find something that helps.

      1. Relosa

        The things that stick out to the me the most that E would say – “Don’t speak unless spoken to” any time we got in a shouting match. “Remember to behave” before we would go hang out with friends. “You were making things so awkward, nobody wanted to say anything” afterwards – every time. It made me so paranoid and self-aware, I was constantly blaming myself for everything and second-guessing everything I did or said. In some ways I did learn a lot about myself, but there was a lot that was pure bunk.

        Thank you for the suggestion for group – I’d forgotten about that. I did that once for another issue several years ago, and I was surprised how helpful it was. It really is isolating because even though our mutual friends know how he is, I think my codependency, and other things, make his N tendencies worse for me than what he does to them. So even though we’d sometimes call each other for support when E was out of control, I always felt like I was getting an extra dose and that it affected me a little deeper.

        1. snuck

          Domestic abuse doesn’t have to be a partner or immediate family, it can be a housemate, a close family member etc. Maybe look for a domestic abuse group session – something like Codependents Anonymous even, there’s a lot of variations on the theme so find the one that works for you?

          1. Relosa

            I just looked up a local chapter – I had no idea that a CoDA group existed! I knew there was Al-anon and such for families of addicts. I will definitely check it out. Thank you!

      2. Relosa

        ohhh and I forgot to mention – I do have a good network of friends totally unrelated to E – thank goodness. In fact the person that lives closest to me that knows him at all is J, and she is about 400 miles away. I don’t often get the chance to talk to them or anything. Even better, one of my friends here in LA is one of my other great friends growing up in high school and such, so she knew about a lot of what was going on. We’d fallen out a bit the past couple years, but she even noticed once we touched base again that I was different in a good way, that I let fewer things get under my skin and didn’t stress or freak out about much – the only thing I could think of was that I was finally away from E.

        And I have also been able to make new friends here too, it’s wonderful. I love this city and I’m very glad I made the move :)

    2. CoffeeLover

      There’s a whole subreddit devoted to people dealing with narcissistic parents. It’s not exactly your situation, but it might help you to read from people dealing with a similar situation.
      reddit(dot)com/r/raisedbynarcissists

      I haven’t dealt with this personally, but I think you made the right decision cutting him out. While you said the subject of E isn’t completely off limits, I think it might help you if you did make it off limits. At least until you feel completely comfortable talking about him. Kind of like taking a break before being friends with your ex. I would also ask your friends not to pass messages from him on to you.

      1. Relosa

        Thanks for both of you :) Confiding in strangers really does help for some reason. People actually believe me or can attempt to relate.

        Telling him directly to eff off would be a Bad Idea. I am able to talk about him in passing with no issue, but when others pass along messages and such, I feel bad because they don’t know what happened – that E didn’t give them his version of a sob story tells me he knows it’s a lost cause trying to be friends again (he is usually happy to share details of fights and disagreements among the circle of friends). They mean well and think I’m just butthurt or upset or whatever, when it’s really that the “friendship” is 100% over.

    3. StillHealing

      The way you describe it – it really does sound like PTSD was triggered. A good Therapist is my first suggestion but you mentioned not being able to afford it now. Someone mentioned raised by narcissists on /reddit and that certainly helped me in the past. (I’ve deleted my posts, and Twitter, after finding out the Narcissist I’m divorcing was reading my reddit posts, my Chump Lady posts and Twitter – I don’t think he reads AAM, but his old manager might)

      One suggestion is to read The Gift of Fear – even if you’ve read it before. It can help anchor in TRUST of yourself and your intuition – which ultimately helps you ground and feel safer in the world. Processing a PTSD triggering episode – without the handy Tools of therapy and medications – can be tough. So, finding other ways to anchor in Safety is the route I suggest.

      1. Relosa

        I have not yet read the Gift of Fear, but I’ve seen it mentioned here so often that I am definitely going to check it out.

        That being said – though E was never violent and I never feared him to be – I have seen more than once that the sections on domestic violence are not exactly up to par. Do you have any take on that?

        The self-trust I think is one of the hardest things to 1) admit to having lost grip of and 2) learning to find again. I give myself credit for finally getting out and cutting him off, so I know in some way I can listen to my gut again.

        It’s probably the same doubt that got under my skin about the job interview process I was talking about in the work thread yesterday – all signs point to X but I’m convinced of Y, no matter what.

        Sigh.

        1. Elizabeth West

          PSTD can be caused by emotional abuse too. You might try your county mental health department–they can help you find therapists who work on sliding scales or even have some themselves (at least ours did where I was growing up, and that was a VERY small place).

          1. Relosa

            Since I live in LA, there should definitely be resources somewhere. I have a public assistance meeting on Monday (so much fun in that, right?) so I will talk to them then and see if they can get me pointed in the right direction.

            It’s really frustrating that emotional disaster leaves no visible scars – not that it is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than any other trauma, but I realized Something Was Wrong when J relayed the message and I kept thinking to myself that she had no idea what damage she was doing, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her.

            1. Elizabeth West

              A good therapist can help you learn to do that. I think that’s a great idea–they should know of something.

              *hug* Good luck! I’m pulling for you. :D

        2. Natalie

          The issue with the DV section of the book is that de Becker subscribes to the “once is a victim, twice is a volunteer” mentality. It’s surprising give how aware he is elsewhere of how socialization effects our responses, but seems to completely ignore it in that chapter.

        3. Not So NewReader

          Boundaries books would be good, too. If you know your limits it is much easier to see when someone has crossed the line with you. This is not as hard as it sounds. Sometimes just saying “okay, that’s enough, let’s change the subject” is all you need to say. It’s knowing when to say it that can be tricky.

          1. Relosa

            E would challenge – nay, shatter and stomp all over – boundaries early on, from day one. We really started having issues once I put my foot down about them, and in fact it was the catalyst that started our final downward spiral that took months to disentagle from before I finally walked out.

            1. Not So NewReader

              Yep. I have seen some versions of that myself. A wise person gave me some advice- you see a behavior three times you have a pattern. That is all you need to go ahead and put your foot down with confidence.

              There are some behaviors that I only need to see once. The earlier interventions are easier, because there is no established pattern in a relationship. So intervention can look like “Oh, don’t go there!” or “Okay, I am done with this topic.” It does not take a lot early on with most people. The people who argue the hardest are giving themselves away as being difficult people.

    4. Dan

      Hi Relosa,

      I’m not exactly sure what your question is, but… my mother, my ex wife, and my previous girlfriend are all narcissists.

      The best thing you can do is drop them from your life without looking back. While I can’t cut my mother out, I never had kids with my ex wife and girlfriend, so I can cut them out without any qualms. I’m so happy about that.

      The thing with narcissists is that they’re only out for themselves, they don’t care about you or what you want. Once you understand that, it’s easier to walk away from unobligatory relationships (ie friends and even spouses). It’s harder to do with your parents, but still possible.

      If you’ve got questions, feel free to ask.

      1. Relosa

        The thing with narcissists is that they’re only out for themselves, they don’t care about you or what you want. Once you understand that, it’s easier to walk away from unobligatory relationships

        I distinctly remember the moment I realized that he really was truly apathetic and understood he didn’t have any clue what empathy was. It was one of those forced-perspective moments in horror films when the lead realizes the killer all alone was the boyfriend (or, better, that moment in Thriller when Ola Ray turns and MJ is a zombie :) It was hard – the moment was when my other best friend had suddenly died (E was an acquaintance and knew of her, but otherwise had no connection really) – we were on a weird break of sorts, but we were able to talk for a few minutes. When I told him S passed away, he immediately went into “I know how you feel, I just put my dog down last month and my mom’s dad just died” … the circumstances were not even remotely similar, and I could tell he didn’t even mean what he was saying. It dims in the telling but it was a truly clarifying moment.

    5. Seal

      I had a “friend” like that years ago. We met in college and for years were involved in various performing arts activities together. He was initially known as the creative one while I excelled behind the scenes. But when I indicated in interest in and then started making a name for myself teaching, directing and whatnot he became increasingly manipulative and verbally abusive. Since he couldn’t put down the well-received performances and productions I was doing without looking like a jealous ass, he resorted to snide comments and asides designed to keep me off-balance and constantly second-guessing myself. Things like “you were doing something funny with your eyes up there” after I had finished leading a meeting, or “everyone knows you have a crush on so and so and thinks it’s funny” whenever I became friends with someone new in our group. According to him, I was the person who ruined every party and the one everyone avoided in a group setting. As my self-confidence grew and my interests shifted I made a point of distancing myself from this guy; when I gave up our mutual activities I cut him off entirely. I’ve not spoken to him in at least a decade; moving halfway across the country helped with that. He’s tried to contact me via email a couple of times and I’ve ignored him; if he were to ever try to call me at work (I work at a public university and my number is on their website) I would hang up on him. If I had my way, I would never see or hear from him again.

      And yet, when I’ve seen someone out and about who looks like him I have a mild panic attack at the thought of having to speak to him again. Despite having a built up a very successful career I am still insecure about the very things this idiot used to try to tear me down. I very much understand the whole looking over your shoulder thing because I still feel that way when it comes to this guy, even though there’s little to no chance of him popping back into my life unexpectedly. I don’t know if it’s PTSD or what, but the fear of interacting with this guy again are very real and can pop up at the most unexpected times.

      I’ve tried therapy for other things in the past but have never found it to be helpful, so I hesitate to try it again. My coping mechanism is to have a mental plan in place should I ever run into this guy again – I will be cool to the point of being cold and extracate myself from the situation ASAP. There is simply no place in my life for that manipulative POS – I can’t control his actions but I can certainly control mine.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Love your last paragraph. Really, that is the best that can be taken from your situation and probably OP’s also. Know what you are going to say/do if you have a chance meeting, get that nailed down. Then move on to rounding out your life.

        You both had leaches draining the very life force out of you and now you have to reweave/rebuild your lives without these leaches. I think time will be kind to both of you.

        Not a great comparison but might be a point to consider for OP here: After dealing with school bullies and problems at home, one of the things that bothered me was that I did not stand up for myself effectively. I was embarrassed. I felt I should just know how to do that. It took me years to allow myself to consider that drawing boundaries, standing up for myself, etc was something that is learned and not in me automatically. Once I stopped telling myself that I should already know this stuff- I started reading a lot of self help books. I took away a mixed bag of tidbits from many of them. Facing these giants has made them smaller, but it takes time.
        One thing I have notice is that any difficulties I do encounter now, are no where near what happened in the past. For one thing, I know when to walk away much sooner and that helps.

        What we don’t know/understand is not our fault. There is nothing wrong with teaching ourselves the stuff “we should have known”. Reality is that no one knows everything.

        1. Relosa

          one of the things that bothered me was that I did not stand up for myself effectively. I was embarrassed.

          I definitely understand this. The turning point in my friendship with E was during a period where I refused to let him overstep boundaries with me – honestly the incident that triggered it all before I finally walked away was ridiculous and immature – certainly not helped by the fact we were having an old-school video game night. I finally saw I was dealing with a 25-year-old toddler, and that just like a kid, he just didn’t comprehend boundaries or appropriate behavior.

          One thing I have notice is that any difficulties I do encounter now, are no where near what happened in the past.

          Exactly this – many friends around me now comment about how much more calm I am now than I used to be. Honestly, because the worst things that could have possibly happened to me (subjectively) have happened, and I survived them. It wasn’t until I was away from E entirely that I understood he was one of those worst things that happened.

        2. Ruffingit

          For one thing, I know when to walk away much sooner and that helps.

          Bravo! This is probably the single most helpful thing anyone can learn. Know when to walk away. You are not the solution to every problem and it’s really OK to admit that you can no longer continue trying to make something work. Took awhile for me to get this too, but once I did it was so freeing.

      2. Relosa

        (I hope this doesn’t double-post, I think my comp at one attempt to reply here…)

        he resorted to snide comments and asides designed to keep me off-balance and constantly second-guessing myself…according to him, I was the person who ruined every party and the one everyone avoided in a group setting.

        This, so much. I know that I have my awkward moments – we all do – but E would prime me and get me all excited to meet friends of his (“Oh, you’ll love J, she’s vegetarian too and loves to talk about unusual things like you! So-and-so is awesome too, she’s hilarious and you’ll love her humor. My friends will love you!”) and then later he would both get angry that I actually you know, became friends with them, and then would act as if any party or outing we went to was a huge gift on his behalf and it was a special treat just for me – like the Dursleys dragging Harry along to the zoo.

        And yet, when I’ve seen someone out and about who looks like him I have a mild panic attack at the thought of having to speak to him again…I don’t know if it’s PTSD or what, but the fear of interacting with this guy again are very real and can pop up at the most unexpected times.

        This, too. I realized just how much more work I had to do when in January, I was doing a quick side job somewhere and I ran into a guy that looked freakishly like him. I couldn’t stop staring, and I realized I kept feeling fear when I stole a glance. Of course I knew it wasn’t him, and at first I was just shocked, but I finally understood that a reaction like that is not normal or healthy – I see people all the time that look like current and former friends and I never feel like I have to escape them! It’s a happy coincidence. But not E. It doesn’t help that I had only just moved to LA about a month prior and I had the happy ability to completely forget about him while I was exploring and settling in to the city – only to have a reminder like that walk in.

        I too have a plan for when/if I ever run into him again – there’s a part of me that is just resigned to the fact that I will at some point. He isn’t a stalker but he’s definitely manipulative. What caught me off guard in April when I got the message from J was that it just didn’t occur to me he’d do something so simple – play a sob story to a friend and just do a “tell her I said hi” thing. I was immediately suspicious from the moment J told me about their conversation.

        Thank you for your response. I’m really glad I’m not the only one dealing with this! :)

    6. EvilQueenRegina

      This reminds me a lot of my former best friend, who I’ll call Fiona (someone who disliked her said she looked like the Shrek character, don’t ask). It ended up that I cut all ties with the whole friendship group (it’s a long story) and yes I think it would bother me if she or any of her friends tried contacting me again. One of them did try adding me on Facebook once although I don’t know that it was deliberate or if she just sent the request to her whole address book without thinking and that did bother me although it was a long time ago now.

      Recently it was something really silly – something on a TV show about the positive qualities the “queen bee” had chosen her best friends for triggered the memory of how one of the clique had told me that Fiona had chosen me for her friend purely because I was physically there when her real best friend was in France for a year, which I hadn’t realised still bothered me. Where was my good quality, surely there was more to me than being physically there?

      Cutting ties completely did work for me – I get that you still want to keep the contact with those of your friends who knew him and in that case I think making him a banned subject is the way to go. No one I speak to now knows Fiona and so won’t pass on anything, but I doubt she would even try.

  20. periwinkle

    Mr. Knightley might be superior to Mr. Darcy although I find him a touch condescending and yet still far too good for Emma. However, Colonel Brandon owns my heart. Having him played by Alan Rickman just strengthened my adoration. *sigh*

    Am I the only one who actually likes Mansfield Park?

    1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

      No, you’re not the only one…I think it’s one of the better Austen novels – more complexity to the plot.

      Have you seen Alan Rickman in Truly, Madly, Deeply? Awesome….

      And I like some of the casting of the male leads from the most recent Jane Austen’s books done on Masterpiece a few years ago.

      1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

        Then there’s Alan Rickman in Closetland, very intense but worth a watch!

    2. AvonLady Barksdale

      I think Mansfield Park has some of Austen’s most interesting characters in it– Mrs. Norris cracks me up, for instance, and I like Maria’s husband, whatever his name is– but Fanny is so… uninteresting to me. Edmund too. For such a stand-up guy, Edmund does allow himself to be controlled by his hormones a little too much for me. (I almost used a phrase coined by Prince in the ’80s, but this is a polite forum and all.) The Patricia Rozema film that came out in 1999 had an interesting take on it, but it had to veer away from the book to make the plot, well, movie-worthy, I think.

      Northanger Abbey is one of my favorites and it gets very little love. Persuasion, though, is probably my absolute favorite, hands-down, and the movie made from that one is excellent.

      1. Sara

        The level of uninteresting that Fanny brought to the table killed the entire book for me.

      2. periwinkle

        I never quite got the appeal of Edmund – Henry Crawford had his negatives, sure, but he wasn’t a humorless drone desperately rationalizing his infatuation.

        Ah, Persuasion. That’s my favorite Austen novel as well, with its mature and complex heroine. Ciarán Hinds wasn’t quite the Captain Wentworth of my imagination but Amanda Root was perfect. It’s been ages since I read Northanger Abbey, time to revisit that one…

        1. Trixie

          The 2007 movie with Sally Hawkins is one of my all-time favorites, I’ll frequently watch on Youtube. I think that was the year PBS Masterpiece highlighted Jane Austen. I’ll also watch the 1995 version with Ciaran Hinds.

    3. StarHopper

      I do! Granted, MP is not my favorite, but I’ve read it a few times and enjoyed it. Would love a more faithful movie adaptation. I just caught the 1995 version of Persuasion the other day for the first time and it made me hungry for more Jane Austen movies. There’s a 2009 BBC miniseries of Emma that I’m going to treat myself to while my husband has his boys night tonight!

      1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

        The old one of Mansfield Park with Anna Massey and Bernard Hepton is really close to the book. 1986 and I haven’t upgraded to DVD on this one yet….BBC production.

        1. fposte

          Oh, I never saw that, and I love Anna Massey. She’d be an excellent Fanny–she was always so good at bringing subtle color to the seemingly colorless. (OTOH, Bernard Hepton? Cranmer? No.)

          1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

            He works in this production…made me appreciate his range of acting.

    4. Kerry(like the county in Ireland)

      The game makers behind the card game Marrying Mr. Darcy just launched a Kickstarted for the Emma Expansion Pack.

    5. Laura Beth

      Have y’all seen the Emma Approved series on YouTube? It’s a modern adapted version in the form of a webseries. I really enjoyed it. https://youtu.be/aeeXkf8LZ_8?list=PL_ePOdU-b3xcKOsj8aU2Tnztt6N9mEmur

      The same company/writers also did an adaptation of Pride & Prejudice called The Lizzie Bennett Diaries, which I LOVED, and I wouldn’t call myself a super huge P&P fan. They focused a lot on the sisters and their relationships, which I think is what set it apart for me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KisuGP2lcPs&list=PL_ePOdU-b3xcDyyzeR5NjxeLEElsqYzn1

      1. YWD

        Also a fan of Lizzie Bennett Diaries! I didn’t know about Emma Approved. I’ll check it out.

    6. Victoria, Please

      I have a soft spot for the brother’s wife in Sense & Sensibility especially as played by that actress in the 1996 (?) S&S with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. She was *such* a beeyotch! ;-)

      I always wondered what Mr. Knightley was hanging around for. He was 16 when Emma was *born*, and as a rich handsome man, why on earth was he not already married when she grew up?

      1. Miss Bates

        As a 20 year old I couldn’t understand how Emma could possibly be attracted to such an old man. Creepy! Now almost 60, I can’t understand what he sees in a child. Creepy again! Still love the novel though.

        1. Charlotte Collins

          Agreed! The age difference – he’s the older brother of her older sister’s husband! – has always been a little too much for me.

          Emma is used to taking care of elderly invalids, though, so maybe he’s planning for the future.

    7. Mowgli

      I can’t believe this coincidence – I have been reading Emma ALL DAY and I just took a break to check my email and I clicked on this site. Imagine my amazement when I saw that she mentioned Emma, which I had literally been reading 5 minutes before!! I’m really enjoying it – much more than Mansfield Park. I found Fanny to be a little one-dimensional and dull. Plus I was very disappointed in the ending. I read through pages and pages of boring dialogue, then when the good part happens – they tell each other they love each other, there are no details – just a summary saying they lived happily ever after.

  21. CoffeeLover

    I’ve been dealing with minor (but persistent) back pain primarily caused by The Purse. I’ve decided I can’t do the giant, clunky purse thing anymore. I’m thinking of getting a nice, leather backpack to use when needed and a small crossbody type purse for every day. I need the backpack to hold my laptop, lunch, gym stuff, etc. Do you think I can pull off a backpack without looking like a high schooler or a camper? I tend to be on the dressier side of business casual both in my casual and work life (although I’m more worried about pulling it off in the latter). I’m hopeful since backpacks have been trending recently and there are some nice ones out there.

    1. Stephanie

      Yeah, my mom had a similar problem. I think the material and size are key. My mom has a leather backpack that’s on the smaller side and looks relatively dressy. You could also try crossbody bags.

      Of course, when I was in DC, suit with a Jansport-like backpack felt de rigueur there among Metro commuters.

    2. anonymous daisy

      If you do the backpack thing, avoid the tiny backpack styles. It makes people look even larger than they really are. There are some great ones out there. Nordstrom has a good online selection and some of them are quite elegant looking.

      1. CoffeeLover

        I’m pretty skinny so I’m not too worried about looking big (I see your point though). I was looking at Nordstrom and there are some nice ones there! Unfortunately, every single one I’ve been really attracted to ended up being over $1000 :(.

    3. Cristina in England

      Yes! I have a black Overland Equipment tote bag/backpack, and I almost always use it as a backpack. (Google Overland Equipment Cambridge to see pictures but I think it is discontinued). ALso check out Zappos and Ebags and search for: tote bag backpack. You can find black ones that are definitely office-appropriate, and when they’re sitting around they just look like normal totes.

      I will put links to all of this in a reply to this comment.

      1. Cristina in England

        Check out the trends in your office, you may start to notice that a lot of people have dedicated laptop backpacks (well they will if you live in a non-car-heavy place anyway).

        This is the most like the one I have: (it has a laptop pocket, don’t think I mentioned that)
        http://www.ebags.com/product/overland-equipment/cambridge/142606

        This is a current one by Stella McCartney:
        http://www.zappos.com/adidas-by-stella-mccartney-iconic-big-black-gunmetal

        Tumi makes laptop bags and sleeves too, and this backpack will fit a 14 inch laptop:
        http://www.zappos.com/tumi-voyageur-halle-backpack-black

        This is a bit dressier but will only fit a small tablet:
        http://www.zappos.com/hobo-blaze-black

        1. CoffeeLover

          I was thinking something along the lines of the last link (although I would prefer something bigger with sturdier straps). I have to go to client sites for work, and I feel like I would be self conscious showing up with the others. I think I would feel differently if it was just a matter of going to and from my own office, to the gym, etc.

    4. danr

      Plenty of backpacks on business folks on the subway in NYC. Many of them carried by people in full business dress.

    5. Observer

      The nice thing with cross-body (which I find works well for me), is that it works with pretty much anything with a long strap. A lot of shoulder bags don’t have long enough straps for this to work, but a lot of larger purses/ handbags do have straps that are long enough, and so do most laptop cases I’ve seen (although the straps often come adjusted on the short side.)

    6. Connie-Lynne

      Are you particularly young or do you look particularly young? Otherwise, I wouldn’t give wearing a backpack a second thought. I see lots of folks of all ages wearing backpacks on public transit (well, carrying backpacks and putting them on when they get off the train).

      Mine is a Hello Kitty backpack; I’m 45. It’s (relatively) subtle – black with a red bow accent and HK’s face in white lines. A good friend of mine carries a full-on pink sparkle Barbie backpack, he’s in his 60s.

      You do you!

    7. moss

      Late to this but I really like “Leather Luxury” on etsy. They make a bag to your specifications or you can choose from their current styles. The leather bags are fairly heavy because the leather is very thick but the leather and canvas ones are plenty sturdy & the price is relatively not very much. They make bags you can convert to backpack style.

  22. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

    Knee update: stitches were taken out and PT starts Monday. I’ve been told that it’s going to hurt before it gets better…and talked to some skiers who have knee issues. Needless to say, it’s going to taken time to build up the muscles to support the lack of ACL for skiing but it can be done. Walking on the leg without crutches except the walk to and from work and the bus station (too many people!) am going to see what exercises I can do in the pool and see when I can start cycling again. Yoga is going to take a little longer to get back to, I think. Anyone out there that has rehabbed a knee? Words of wisdom would be appreciated! :)

    1. Ista

      You can definitely rehab back for skiing if you were skiing before (as the old joke goes), although it does depend a bit on how the other structures of the knee were left. I did my reconstruction about 10 years ago, was back riding outside at six weeks or so and that was a huge help in getting everything firing together again. These days, I rarely even remember I did it. Just keep plugging along with PT so you make sure to get your complete range of motion.

      1. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

        Yes, I was in pretty good ski condition before the injury since we had great ski conditions at Mad River Glen, VT this year, we were going up almost every other weekend til Easter. I’m not “expecting” to ski this coming season but will treat it as a bonus if I get some days in on the easy, groomed slopes. No blacks, bumps or trees for me!

    2. OfficePrincess

      I didn’t have surgery, but I spent about three months earlier this year rehabbing my knee after a fall. It was a dislocation and several sprains. Honestly, the people in after surgery started slower than me, but made progress faster, so I’d say that should work in your favor. Having a good relationship with your therapist helps a lot. Following instructions is good too. The key is finding a balance between pushing yourself and not pushing too far. Good luck!

    3. Connie-Lynne

      Be very vocal in your feedback with the physical therapist: what is and is not working for you, how you feel, any “backsliding” feelings you have about your progress, etc etc. Do your exercises at home as well as during appointments; it will make a huge difference.

      There’s a difference between “has regained ability to walk and go about daily life of a regular person” and “can go about _your_ daily life.” When I was 19, I had surgery for a torn meniscus, and my HMO physical therapist released me at what was probably 85%. I didn’t know any better, and my legs and activity levels did not really go back to my previous fitness level.

      When I was in my late 30s, I was skating rollerderby and sustained a completely unrelated back injury (fell down stairs). When we got to the point where my HMO would normally have released me, I talked to my PT (a sports specialist) about my concerns that while I was at “regular people levels” if I wasn’t ready to go back to skating I wasn’t fully healed. Since we had talked about this the entire time, he agreed with me and wrote my paperwork up in such a way that my insurance accepted another six weeks of therapy. My doctor was also aware of this and approved — rollerderby had a lot of other fitness benefits for me.

      Your PT and doctor are your allies, but you are your greatest advocate. Push for the best treatment you can get and don’t stop until *you* feel well.

      1. Ista

        This is an awesome point—be vocal about what your 100% is and be committed to getting to it. PT will absolutely be on your side, they love people who rise up to meet them.

      2. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

        Thank you for this! I was wondering if I should push things if it wasn’t going the way I wanted. I will mention up front about wanting to ski again. I’ve already got lecture from sis about doing the homework exercises. One of my bus mates mentioned that it took her hubby, an avid skier, two years to get back to 100% from knee injuries.

        1. Connie-Lynne

          Yes! Definitely push and definitely be up front. It’s the best way to get the assistance you need — if your PT doesn’t know what your goals are, they can’t help!

      3. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

        Roller derby? Awesome! Loved watching it in the 70’s on TV. Would love to learn soccer after watching the women’s World Cup final but that’s a bit unrealistic at this point…and I’d rather pick up curling again.

  23. Steve G

    Does anyone else love the idea of supporting local businesses and avoiding chain stores, and restaurants, but have serious trouble actually doing so? I’ve been successful in avoiding Home Depot, but with food establishments, it’s a different story. So many of my local joints have serious issues, and I would love Gordon Ramsey to come in and clean some of them up.

    There is one place near me that is always slow, but they are always fully stocked with 20 different desserts – and they aren’t even a dessert place. I’ve noticed some of the same things there for over a week. Why not carry less and do it better? I am scared that non-locals don’t know how old some of the stuff is there. Then there is the Mid-Eastern place that takes literally 20 minutes to make a gyro. I loooove lamb gyros, and have been there 5 times, and each time, they are apologizing profusely for taking so long. It’s like they’ve never helped a customer, they are either out of lettuce, or looking for the tzaziki sauce as if its some rarely used item, or ran out of napkins, it’s always like they have no clue that someone is gonna come in and get a gyro.

    Then there is the deli where the current weekday night guy doesn’t really speak English, so if you order a sandwich or a lotto ticket, he just ignores your request. He only looks at what you put on the counter. It drives me nuts! And a few weeks ago they annoyed me because apparently a bottle of water from the fridge now costs $0.50 more than a warm one (which they don’t even have btw). I had the exact change for the warm (well, regular) water price, but would have had to break a $20 to pay the extra 50 cents. Well, the cashier wanted the extra $0.50 but was busy with a few customers ordering bundles of cigs and lottery tickets and scratch offs and redeeming winning tickets….I just walked out and haven’t gone back. I had been spending $5, $10 dollars there a day up to that point and was freakin’ annoyed at their making me stand there for three minutes so I could pay them an extra 2 quarters. This is NY and there are delis on every other corner. And don’t even get me started on StopnShop not having cashiers but always having 3-4 people hanging out up front talking and joking but neither helping move lines quicker nor bagging nor enforcing the 10 item or less rule…it is really awkward waiting for someone to bag their groceries before you can use the self-serve register even when there is a StopnShop employee standing right there doing nothing! Maybe we need an AAM for small retail businesses!

    1. TootsNYC

      Well, I would say that if they have THAT bad of management problems, and that bad of customer service, you don’t need to feel guilty about not supporting them. Go searching farther afield.

      And don’t feel that guilty if you try and you can’t find a business -worth- supporting.

    2. Carrie in Scotland

      My annoyance is that many of the small businesses aren’t open on a Sunday/Monday. So when we have a long weekend due to public holidays or take a Monday off, most of them are closed. Also, lack of opportunity to order online – these places usually open 10-5, so isn’t very convenient for a M-F, 9-5er.

    3. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

      The corner deli you really can’t do much about but the StopnShop? Complain to the manager, not whomever is at the customer service desk. NY has enough corner delis that you should be able to find a place that works for you. You might have to go further afield to find better restaurants, and frankly wouldn’t you rather support the restaurants that you like eating at rather than ones that annoy you?

    4. Lulubell

      I’m kind of a grouch but honestly that type of service is why I bring my lunch to work everyday, and have food at home to heat up for dinner. I mean, I do go out with friends to socialize, but I lack a single ounce patience for poor service and management like this. I started preparing my own coffee in the AM when I realized I was mentally raging at everyone in Starbucks.

      1. Steve G

        The people at my local non-chain coffee shop are lovely, but they don’t know how to multitask. All I have ever ordered is a large iced coffee black. But if I get behind someone ordering 3 bubble teas, they make me wait to make the iced coffee (which takes like 5 seconds vs. 5 minutes for the bubble teas). Many a’ times I’ve walked out, as I’ve seen other people.

        I realized my post makes it sound like I’m just looking for what’s best for me, but what I really meant was, I would love for small business to realize all of the stupid LITTLE things they are doing that are losing them business. For example, the days at a time I skip going to that coffee shop because I don’t want to risk not being able to be served in time because I get behind someone ordering a lot, and they won’t let me go ahead!

        1. catsAreCool

          You could write each business a letter to let them know.

          When it comes right down to it, if a business isn’t taking care of its customers, the customers are going to “vote with their feet”. That’s how it works.

          I gotta say though with Home Depot, I wish I could tell when someone who works there knows what he or she is talking about or is just making stuff up. I’ve bought stuff that was recommended that turned out to be totally the wrong thing. I could have figured it out on my own if I hadn’t had “help”.

          1. Random CPA

            I wrote a letter to a spa owner once about customer service. I was planning my wedding and wanted to have the bridal party get massages, manicures and pedicures before the wedding, so I called this spa I had gone to once using a Living Social deal. I told them the number of people in the party and the services and they said they’d get back to me. A week went by and they didn’t call me back, so I called again. Same response, that they’d get back to me, but they never did.

            I wrote an email to the spa owner, basically saying that they had attracted my business with the Living Social deal (and it’s my understanding that they don’t make much, if anything from those promos), but that they lost any future business due to their poor customer service. Not surprisingly, I never heard back and they were out of business in a year.

            I, too, prefer local restaurants vs. chains, but the older I get, the more annoyed I get with poor customer service, and it seems like the chains are better about that.

        2. Mallory Janis Ian

          In places I’ve worked, one person would spot the regular, easy-ordering customer and get their order ready even though another customer was already being served. If they had exact change they could leave it and go about their business and the person who waited on them would their their money in the drawer the next time the cashier opened it and tell her to ring one iced black coffee.

    5. Thinking out loud

      Yes! Sometimes the local places are really frustrating. My husband has been trying to go to a local hardware store but got frustrated the other day and went to Home Depot, and they have him exactly what he needed. It usually seems easier to stick with local places for food, but we still go to chains sometimes.

    6. Noah

      I like the idea in theory but many times I just end up frustrated. Two examples.

      The first one is a coffee place that is actually in the same building as my apartment. I really want them to succeed but they are so slow and get grouchy about credit cards. I stopped going there and instead walk down the block to Starbucks in the morning.

      The other one is a tire and oil change place. I have been taking my car to a regional chain for a long time, it is very convenient because you can make an appointment online. I tried a local place, when I called to make an appointment they said they don’t do that and to just bring the car in whenever. We’ll both times I tried that, they said it was a busy day and they were not sure they could fit it in. I gave up and went back to the chain.

    7. Local v. Not

      Often with small businesses, it comes across like the accountability is not there. So, if I have a problem I will just stop going there; versus a chain, where there is a dedicated department for customer service. Though, for me, local places with great service will always outrank chains.

    8. Not So NewReader

      Good luck with changing small businesses. People have the right to kill their business in the manner that they chose to do so. Not being snarky because I totally agree with you. There is a local business here that I have gone into for 23 years off and on. I try to avoid it. People stare at you as if to say, “How dare you walk in here!!” Small businesses in my area do not want to be told how to run their business. I mean this for real.

      But big businesses are not immune.

      I see the comments about Home Depot. Coincidentally, I was in the the other day. I had a question. I wandered around looking for an employee for over five minutes. Finally, I found two seated employees. I asked my question- “Aisle five”. Gee, thanks. I went back to ask a second question, they answered and remained seated. I went back to ask a third question and they had moved. They were standing and talking to a third employee. Finally, on the third question I started getting more conversation. It boiled down to “look online”. Thank you, so much. Bye.

      It was like pulling teeth.

      I won’t bore you with what happened at Sears.

      1. Charlotte Collins

        So many times growing up, I remember my mother trying Sears for something and then quickly leaving while muttering, “I knew there’s a reason I hate Sears.” under her breath…

        They never quite seemed to understand that women can and do make financial decisions and should be treated to the same level of customer service as men got…

        1. Not So NewReader

          It still goes on today. I won’t put a lot of details but it is interesting the differences when I shop alone and when I shop with my friend for building supplies.

    9. Anonyby

      I’m lucky in that most of the really close places to me (non-chains and small local chains) are alright. Not always the best, but have good enough customer service that I’m going there to try to keep them in business. However there’s an indian place that I want to love… but it’s completely off my to-go list. The customer service isn’t really the problem… It’s that the food isn’t good (a lot of it is obviously pre-made and just reheated, the dosai I had the first time had an off flavor, and the samosas I ordered the second time were still cold in the center), and it’s constantly EMPTY. I don’t know how it stays in business. The second-and last-time I was there, I was alone in the place until another family came in just as I was finishing.

    10. NacSacJack

      Its hard. The neighborhood hardware store just closed down and when I heard, I said, “Good riddance” and did a happy dance (mentally) for the owner getting a lot of money for his building, but now I miss that hardware store. The owner was a great guy , helpful and very knowledgable. His worker on the other hand couldnt be bothered to get up off the stool in front of the cash register. The local coffee shop, the kids are great (some of them), but the owner is full of attitude. Thankfully they started taking credit cards again. I think they got a warning from Visa or Mastercard telling them they can’t refuse to take them if its not above a certain $ amount. The local grocery storeclose to my work requires a certain dollar amount and so half the time I dont bother going there. No atms around anymore without hiking halfway across downtown.

  24. Cruciatus

    Saw Weird Al last night and it was…awesome! He puts on a good show. He did a lot of the big hits and there was a Star Wars encore. I don’t even love Star Wars much, but the encore included Yoda which was probably my first Weird Al song so it’s one of my favorites. I never knew there was a “Yoda chant” but he performed it last night during the song which was pretty cool. If he ever comes to your city, I recommend it!

    1. Alistair

      Saw Weird Al years ago, and it was indeed awesome. He was non stop! Where does he get his energy?

    2. the gold digger

      I saw him last week and he was AMAZING! I had no idea – I recognized only the oldest of his songs, so I didn’t get a lot of the jokes, but even though I am not a Star Wars fan, I LOVED the Yoda song and American Pie. Definitely go!

      (And see Taylor Dayne if you can, too. Saw her and she was great. And demoralizing – she has a fabulous figure and is older than I am.)

  25. Soupspoon McGee

    I’d love to hear from people with chronic illnesses or just plain exhaustion. I’m changing careers and going back to school (physician assistant studies). In the past year, I’ve left my horrible job and have thrown myself into prerequisite classes and hands-on clinical work, where I’m on my feet 8 hours a day, four days a week. I’m also preparing my application to PA schools (very detailed).

    I’ve had crohn’s with rheumatoid arthritis for over 15 years, and the meds keep it mostly in check, but there are days when I’m just worn out and unable to focus. This is one of those days.

    I guess I just want to hear how other people barrel through (sheer stubbornness is my best strategy). I have to do what it takes to get homework done today (hard deadline), but I also need strategies to manage PA school, where the physical work will be less intense, but the mental focus will be more demanding. With less sleep, more deadlines, and higher stakes. And I’m 45, aiming to study with students whose average age is about 27. Family is very supportive. I’m overusing caffeine. I’m making detailed lists and calendars. I’m too tired to check off item one.

    And even my worst days, when my patients are sad, violent or dying and I come home with a sore body and heavy heart–even those days are better than my last job because I can count the ways I made someone’s day better, even if it was their last. So I know I’m going in the right direction.

    1. DeadQuoteOlympics

      First of all, internet hugs and some serious awe at your willingness to sacrifice and work so hard for your goals.

      In similar situations, it has helped me to make sure I have some “blank mind” time on a regular basis — time that I can either use to stop thinking (counting reps in the weight room works for me, if you are counting you aren’t thinking), meditate, or even just stop being serious (frivolous reading, tv watching, etc. — reruns of the original Star Trek worked for me in grad school). Make sure you have some empty time every day — don’t make the mistake of trying to use every 15 minutes to keep up, get one task ahead, etc. And don’t get sleep-deprived, it just makes everything much, much worse — you lose focus, you make mistakes, you feel worse about them, you lose more sleep trying to fix the situation, it’s a really self-defeating cycle.

      If you are used to being a high achiever in school, recognize that there might be semesters where it’s okay to get an A in the class that really means a lot to you and an A- or B+ in the other one (depending on the requirements of your program or degree, or ultimate career goals); or that it’s okay to take a notoriously easy class that you aren’t really interested in during the same time you are taking a really hard one that you are.

      And finally — I’m a fatigue crier. If I get too tired, sometimes simply crying (and getting rid of the stress-related chemicals in my body) makes me feel better. It might work for you to have a therapeutic cry for 5 minutes every night. Weird advice, I know, but sometimes crying “just because I’m tired” seems to work.

      Good luck!

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        Thank you! I took your advice to heart and just took breaks that didn’t involve other work or guilt. I spent the weekend actually staring at leaves and weeding things, on purpose. Empty time . . . I will add that.

    2. fposte

      I have no idea how much of my tiredness is what everybody would have and how much is related to health problems. I will say that getting a really good sleep–not just length, but quality–makes a huge difference to me. Caffeine would kill that for me (and it wouldn’t do my Crohn’s much good), but I know that’s very different for different people.

      I would consider whether the stuff that’s falling by the wayside is stuff that can just get cut or handed over to somebody else for a while. I find that what absolutely has to get done I get done, but the rest of it…not so much. (Autopay on bills is a godsend to me for periods like this.) If checklists, etc., aren’t working for you, then they’re not for you, and maybe something else is. One thing to consider is if there’s a time of day or week that you have the most focus and, well, gumption. Maybe studying is a 5 am thing and you go to bed at 8 pm; maybe studying happens on day 5 in a binge.

      Good luck! It sounds like you’re on an awesome and rewarding track.

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        Thank you! I’ve tried to automate, outsource, or ignore as much as possible. My partner is very supportive and will occasionally bring me a box of Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups to fuel the studying, while he cleans the house. I’m learning that some days, my brain will just fail to engage in studying until the evening, and then I can go until 10 or 11.

    3. Raine

      I suffer from depression, and have a few tips for … managing, I guess (to stay clean enough, to keep a job, to keep healthy enough) … when totally exhausted or on the downward spiral. Which might or might not help:

      o This sounds stupid, I’m sure, but to start I have at least two full weeks’ worth of underwear (half a month in case I don’t have time or energy to clean).

      o Along those lines, especially when I know/feel I’ve got less energy, I try to have my outfits for at least a week cleaned and prepared. I can wear jeans to work, so I have one of those hangers with five wires on it where I’ll hang or clip all pairs of pants, for example. And I’ll have 5 to 10 clean shirts or hoodies or whatever ready to go in a row.

      o Food — I find it’s important for me to have easy options ready. This might mean making chili and freezing it in 2-cup containers (it makes about six, which can be just popped on the stove or in the microwave) or lasagna. It might mean buying hamburger and freezing quarter-pound patties in snack bags. It might just mean buying soup. Sometimes I’ve even done restaurant delivery services or runs for an entire week of food ahead of time.

      This is just the bare minimum that at certain really low points helped me keep going.

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        I love the idea of an underwear (and sock) stockpile. Finding matching socks takes a stupid amount of time and energy sometimes. Same goes for food . . . energetic me needs to take care of blah me.

    4. Today's anon

      Not sure if it’s applicable for your kind of study but get friendly with a librarian. Feel free to tell them you have been out of school and to give you a tour of where everything is on the website, resources, etc. A lot has changed, even if you were out of school just a few years. Also, use them to get started on assignments etc. Something that I see being useful also is some people use the library as their office, when they’re there, they’re studying, when they go home, they can be off for a bit. That might be useful for weekends in particular if you have a family.

      And seconding fposte – sleep is super important and be ok with letting other things fall by the wayside.

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        I love librarians! And yes, a lot has changed. I went to grad school in the early 90’s when we actually had to go to libraries and touch books, and if the book we wanted wasn’t there, we got to discover other resources and topics in the same section. I miss that. Google Scholar would have been wonderful then too. I do better with dedicated study / work space, so it makes sense to scope out a corner of the library.

    5. Not So NewReader

      I had to change everything in my life to manage my fatigue. It hit hard when I tried do 20-22 hour days at age 34. I quickly figured out I was not 17 anymore. Well, I really could not do it at 17, either but I like the illusion that I could.

      I switched to whole foods, got rid of the junk and the artificial this and that. Concentrated on my water intake. I changed my cleaning products, because those synthetic chemicals were impacting me. I started keeping a closer eye on how much negative I took in on any given day- this meant news media, tv shows, conversations, reading material, everything.

      And finally, I had to look at my workplace. I realized that my job caused me to ride an emotional roller coaster and I had to get off. I was pumping myself with coffee because that is the only way I could find a high (energy) to go up against all the lows of my job (loss of energy). I learned watch out for highs, because that means a low is coming. When a low hits, watch how you respond to it. My practitioner explained to me that I was constantly setting myself up for my next high or next low.
      I am more on an even keel now, the pain is less, I do sleep somewhat better and I get asked “how do you keep going?” This makes me laugh- “It’s a lotta fn WORK!” I can honestly say that I feel better now twenty years plus later than I did at 34. Family tells me I look better, too.

      Start by taking control over what you can and see where that puts you. Go one thing at a time, so you can clearly see what is helpful and what is not. For example, when I changed my cleaning products the results were immediate. I could do more work with less fatigue almost right away. I never looked back, I still use the milder cleaners. By going one thing at a time, I could see that this change was going to be helpful for me.

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        Great tips! I found stress is such a factor in fatigue. Since I left my soul-killing job, I’ve felt much better–sleep is better, aches and pains are better, attitude is much better. I had not really thought about chemicals in cleaners affecting fatigue. I have gravitated toward healthier options for environmental and cost reasons, but not in a particularly deliberate way. I just made my own laundry detergent from castille soap and borax for the first time, and I’m so eager to see how this affects us.

    6. StateRegulator

      Eliminate extra stressors. Especially people who bring you down.
      Laugh as much as possible.
      Know your triggers and avoid them.
      Keep up on doctor visits.
      Don’t place unreasonable expectations on yourself.
      A chronic illness isn’t who you are. I never talk about it at work. I do disappear once a year for two days to see a specialist. I use vacation days.
      Be a slave to a planner to schedule projects and study.
      Sleep.

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        You make great points — especially that the illness is not who I am. I should talk about it less because complaining about something magnifies it. Balance is so critical!

    7. Revanche

      Eliminating as many stressors as possible was key for me (chronic fatigue and pain), as well as making it a point to get a walk in most days and a massage every 4-6 weeks which is the only thing that even maybe breaks up a fatigue and pain spiral.

      I get so head down focused on doing the things I “need” to for work that I forget about the things I need to do for health. It’s amazing that I can book massive trips, complete complex projects and take care of our child and blow out all my limited energy on that and fail utterly to feed, hydrate or otherwise take care of myself. My husband is great at constructive support like booking those massage appointments for me & bringing me water.

      Hydration is important and so is taking actual breaks away from the stressors. I can’t bull through anymore like I used to so I cut almost all socializing out when I am particularly swamped. As an introvert, very few social obligations re-energize me. In that, you should of course take the path that best suits your nature. Hot showers also help clear the brain and buy back a little energy, or enough so I can get myself to bed.

      Congrats on finding the work that is meaningful to you, and best of luck!

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        Thank you! I have been trying to drink more water and less caffeine, especially in our unusually hot, beautiful weather, but caffeine is my crutch. And like you, I put too much energy into big things, then realize I do not have anything healthy in the fridge, or I’m cheating myself out of good sleep. I’m an introvert too, and I told a few friends that I much prefer one-on-one visits and outings with them to a big group thing. I need to connect, but in small doses when my mind isn’t pulled to all the deadlines I have.

  26. Labels

    I have a question about labels. Often on this and other sites people will identify as having this or that mental health disorder (anxiety, PTSD, etc.), diagnosed by mental health professionals. I have been going to therapy for a long time (>10 years with my current one) and while I recognize myself on some of those labels, my therapist has never given me such a diagnostic. Sometimes I wish I could say something like I suffer from x but I also see terrific value in not being labeled. If you are taking medication, you will need a diagnostic, so this is if you are not taking medication but I am curious about others might think?

    1. TootsNYC

      I think that it’s really the same thing–the diagnosis is simply the term that helps you reach the resources you need. Does it inform your therapist’s treatment? (i.e., if it’s depression, are there depression-specific approaches that are more valuable? Or that might be overlooked because the label isn’t there to indicate where to look?)

    2. Jillociraptor

      It can be helpful to have a shorthand for your symptoms and a diagnosis can sometimes provide that. As a woman, since some of the stuff I struggle with is pretty highly gendered, it can be helpful (if really messed up) to have the “seal of approval” from a professional that I’m not just overreacting or overly sensitive. Personally, I’ve not really experienced any negative ramifications of having a formal diagnosis.

    3. BRR

      I think so many symptoms overlap or one disorder leads to another that you don’t really need a specific diagnosis and it can be difficult to name a specific condition. I don’t think you need to be diagnosed to be able to name something specific. Also you can say I have symptoms of depression and anxiety.

    4. Christy

      I knew going in that I was dealing with anxiety, and it helped me to find an anxiety specialist. General(ized?) anxiety disorder is on my bills, or at least the DSM code for it is there. It’s been very helpful for me to have the label, as it has helped me explain away my intrusive thoughts as something that just happens to me, not something I have to pay attention to.

    5. Sunshine Brite

      If you’re going to therapy, she needs to have a billable diagnostic code. She’d discuss this with you if it brings you up.

    6. Student

      I think “avoiding labels” is really “avoiding dealing with the underlying issue”.

      If you never look for a root cause for your problems, all you can ever do is treat the symptoms.

      Once you find the root cause, you aren’t obligated to go around “labeling” yourself for other people, you know. It’s a note in exactly one doctor’s medical records unless and until you go share the information elsewhere. It’s a tool you should use to help yourself.

      1. fposte

        I’m not sure I buy that. Are you postulating some psychoanalytic basis for depression that has to get dealt with before it’s resolved? Or are you saying that depression meds don’t work unless you know your diagnosis?

        I think there are a lot of uses for diagnoses and also reasons to resist them, so I’m not really coming down on one side or another here. But I think people have long been benefiting from medical treatment without really knowing what they had–I’m sure many of us have relatives or friends like that (and that “What did he give you that pill for?” conversation is always such fun with an elderly parent)–and a lot of medical conditions are handled by treating the symptoms without identifying the root cause. In fact, sometimes people get really overinterventionist in a hunt for a root cause when they’d have a higher quality of life sticking with treating to symptoms. I don’t see psychological diagnoses as being much different.

    7. Labels

      I am sorry that I did not make myself clear. I have a billable label, long-term depression. What I am asking is more about using labels to deal with life. I am depressed but in therapy my therapist doesn’t say well you are depressed so it’s normal to feel x or y. She usually tries to get me to deal with the issue at hand with compassion and kindness to myself but also with honesty. I’ve seen people in my life use labels as a way that seems to be limiting to them – they have been given x label and so they seem to be stuck being that label, there is nothing they can do. So I was wondering, are labels useful? I hope that makes more sense!

      1. Elizabeth West

        Well, they can be if like others have said they steer you to a solution. But no, not in a self-defeating “I’m X label so I can’t be arsed to try anything because no” way. I think overall they tend to be limiting, though it’s up to the individual person whether they want to think of themselves that way or not.

        For example, I am learning disabled in math and there is nothing I can do about that–it does limit me in that I can’t do certain kinds of work, like accounting or project management where there is a budget, or managing where I would have to figure hours or payroll, because my brain just doesn’t do those things. They are typically more complicated than I can manage. But I can do other things, so that’s what I focus my efforts on. So it’s only limiting in that one area.

      2. Sunshine Brite

        The answer isn’t clear-cut because normalizing the label can be helpful for some but not for others because it can set limits or be used a shield for bad behavior.

      3. Not So NewReader

        For some people labels can be crushing, others feel relief.

        Crushing: A friend told me, “I am learning disabled. They said it was impossible for me to learn to drive.” In her late twenties she finally went for her driver’s license exam and passed with flying colors on the first try. hmmm.

        Relief: Another friend said regarding her diagnosis, “It has a name. I now know what is wrong with me. I have spent my entire life wondering why I am different from everyone. Why am I always on the outside looking in?? Now, I know. Yes, I am happy to know what it is.”

        I think there are so many variables it is hard to tell if labels help or hinder. Our system requires it for insurance purposes. And labels help to nail down which protocol to use. But I question the one size fits all treatments, aka protocols. I understand the need for standards, but it seems to assume we are all the same which is not true.

        Medicine is always evolving. The history of medicine really drives home the point of how much things have changed. So I assume labels and how they are used will also change as time goes on.

    8. Anonymous for this

      It’s a good shorthand for symptoms. It helps you find resources for people who share your symptoms or use the same treatment.

      I was diagnosed very young, because the proverbial shit hit the fan when I was 10. And it just kept “hitting,” despite treatment. Unfortunately mental illness sort of became part of how I identified myself.

      I found a therapist in my early 20s who didn’t use labels except for insurance, and I thought she might be dumb or naive or bad at her job, and… now I’m in recovery?

      Of course that’s because she actually is a very good therapist. But not using labels let me feel like there wasn’t something inherently wrong with me, like I had some agency in all this.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I think people react different ways. The other thing is that a lot of medical diagnoses, including psych stuff, are pretty loose, so you can be all “I’m officially Thing!” and then find that other doctors would consider you Stuff and then they decide later that they now think it’s all Whatsis. Most illnesses aren’t simple, objective binary yes/no.

        Culturally, I think there’s a lot to be said for being open about things like depression and anxiety disorders. But it can end up being a little reductive. I guess I like the opportunity for greater understanding of oneself but I’m wary of relying on such terms for self-definition.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Assembly line medicine vs custom tailored program to suit the individual and his/her setting. Amen to that.

          My aunt got told she had some lumps in her breasts. “It’s not that bad, you really don’t need chemo. BUUUTTT, you probably should. Just to be safe. You want to be safe, don’t you? You don’t really need the chemo but better safe than sorry.”

          Long story, very short, she died from the chemo but she was cancer-free.

    9. Panda Bandit

      My psychologist’s advice was to not get caught up in diagnoses because they’re mostly a set of loose guidelines. I’ve made fantastic progress with him so I trust what he says.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Excellent article. Someone introduced me to these ideas years ago. The problem with AA is the emphasis on the loss of power. “You are an addict, you have no control over this problem.” Dis-empowering people is not a good plan.
        I later read that AA has a 20% success rate, that seemed unbelievable. Either that stat is wrong or they have the best PR ever.

        I do agree that the problem needs to be addressed on the psychical/mental/spiritual planes.By spiritual, I don’t mean that everyone has to get religion. But some things in life cut to our very core, we can call it our hearts, and those things leave a lasting impression in our hearts for a life time. Those “heart issues” need to be addressed on the heart (or spiritual or core) plane.

        1. fposte

          I’ve vaguely heard that their rate is low as well, but that there’s no treatment modality that’s better than that, either. I wonder if Al-Anon ends up being more helpful than AA itself?

    10. temp.anon

      For me, it’s been helpful to have labels for some of my issues (including ADD, which I was just diagnosed with within the last couple months–thanks, school system and parents, for missing that when I was a kid) because once I have those labels, I can research the root causes of the problems and come up with better workarounds than I could without that information. I’m still trying to get my footing with the ADD diagnosis because it’s so new, but when I was diagnosed with depression and SAD, I was able to use those diagnoses to find information that helped me improve my quality of life.

      Specifically with the ADD, it’s also just been really helpful just to know that some of the things I’ve struggled with over the years actually have a cause beyond my being “lazy” or just needing to “rise to the occasion.” (I heard that phrase so much growing up and I hate it.)

      Also, just because you have a label, that doesn’t mean you have to share that label with anyone else. I’ve never disclosed anything at work and have no plans to, and while a few (definitely a minority) of my friends know about my depression, nobody but close family knows about the ADD. If there’s an actual medical cause for what you’re dealing with, well, chemical imbalances and neurotypical differences don’t care what you call them. I’m like you in that I try to avoid labels when I can, but when there could be an actual medical condition at play (not saying there is in your case because I have no idea, but if there is or could be), then I think there’s more value in getting the label/diagnosis than in avoiding it.

  27. cuppa

    Anyone else with eczema?
    I have severe eczema on the back of my neck. It’s unsightly and uncomfortable, but I’m sick of it. My doctor gave me a cream, and I can clear it up with hydrocortisone, but it always comes back and I have concerns about using the steriods all the time. Does anyone have any other remedies? I use the Aveeno eczema cream, which helps but doesn’t really make it go away.

    1. fposte

      Not quite what you asked, but you’re concerned about topical OTC hydrocortisone? Yes, long-term topical steroid use can cause skin damage, but it generally is going to take a lot longer and a lot more powerful steroid than that. (Have you seen a dermatologist or just a GP, BTW? Might be worth talking to a dermatologist if you haven’t.)

      1. cuppa

        I guess that wasn’t clear. I have a prescription cortisone, but I try not to use that too much since it keeps coming back (it’s from a gp) and normally I can clear it up with an otc hydrocortisone, so that’s usually my first step because I’m concerned about prolonged usage of the prescription cream (and I’m not crazy about using the otc one all the time, either). But you’re right, I should probably see a dermatologist.

        1. fposte

          Cortisone really is a very low-potency steroid. There are seven classes for topical steroids, and that’s class 7, “least potent.” I’ve been using a class 1 (“superpotent”) for several years now, and yes, I have sustained skin damage, but it took several months.

          I’m not a doctor, I’m by no means telling you to use stuff more frequently or longer than a doctor says, and it’s not like you’re dealing with something life-threatening that raises your risk tolerance for medication. But I suspect it would take pretty long duration to damage your skin with just cortisone, and as long as I was staying within what a doctor approved I wouldn’t worry about it.

        2. snuck

          There’s some things you can do to help.

          Use the cream appropriately for several days, don’t be too skimpy on the application, let it do it’s job… and when it’s all clear you can step back. It will come back again if the trigger isn’t identified. Well managed eczema is less likely to become an prolonged issue, and it’s better to hit it properly than skimp and battle for a long time.

          If it’s not responding well to the creams and clearing within a few days try a different cream – try an ointment instead, try Fatty Advantan or Elocon or other … find one that works.

          If it’s always in the same patch what’s irritating your skin there? Is it a soap powder, perfume, shampoo residue etc?

          Warm compresses over cream can help it soak in better. Hot showers make it worse.

    2. Stachington

      I used to suffer from eczema terribly on the back of my legs. I will occasionally get a patch on my wrists, neck, or scalp. I have found that sweat is a huge trigger for me – if sweat is trapped against my skin and my skin is unable to breathe, I get beginning of eczema… then when I scratch it just gets worse and worse. For example, I eliminated the eczema on the back of my legs by no longer wearing shorts. When I wore shorts, my bare legs would be against things like plastic chairs (this was in middle school, remember those horrible plastic school chairs?) which caused sweat to get trapped against my legs all day. Wearing pants allowed the sweat to be absorbed into the pants and provided a barrier between my legs and the plastic, allowing my skin to breathe.

      If you wear any sort of jewelry or something around your neck that prevents sweat from drying on your neck, see if you can avoid it. Perhaps wear collared shirts with breathable material to protect your neck and better absorb sweat. Also, swimming in salt water helped it for some reason, while chlorine made it much worse. That’s all I can think of. Best of luck, eczema is itchy and uncomfortable!

    3. StarHopper

      I suffer eczema on and off, especially on my hands. I had a lot of luck with Vanicream. I went through most of a tub of the stuff last year, and haven’t had to buy it again because my eczema hasn’t come back!

        1. StarHopper

          I bought it on Amazon, but I have seen it at Target as well. That along with washing my hands with Cetaphil instead of hand soap really helped clear it up. Good luck!

          1. Elizabeth West

            I hope our one Target carries it (seriously, we are way big enough for two, but NO it’s Walmart all the way. LAME!). I’ll look there and at some of the drugstores. THANKS YOU GUYS!

    4. Adaire

      I’ve had it for 60 years. OTC antihistamines like Zyrtec and Claritin have helped me a lot. I use the cortisone ointment, rather than the cream, as it seems to stay put better. I wash with Averno or St. Ives oatmeal wash. You’re right, it always comes back, you have to stay on top of it. Good luck!

    5. StillHealing

      Have you had it all your life? I had it since infancy but also had digestion issues since I was born. (Possibly related to the Spina Bifida Occulta I was born with) Were you born with My skull or spine abnormalities ?

      Possibly related to the Spina Bifida Occulta – @ 13 years ago my doctors figured out I had little or no digestive enzymes and started me on Thorne brand “Biogest” and Thorne brand Betaine HCl & Pepsin. A miracle happened that I wasn’t expecting – the Eczema cleared up immediately, disappeared completely and has never come back.

    6. AcademicAnon

      Any idea what triggers your eczema? For me it was either having too dry or too damp skin. For example in winter it was too dry, but sometimes with pants or long sleeves it resulted in too wet during the same time frame. Eliminating the trigger may help. (Also see if sun exposure or sllergen exposure also triggers it.)

    7. Lynn Rainham

      Hello!
      I’m going to nth everything about triggers said here, but I’ve also found the best way to avoid using the spot treatment cream is staying on top of moisturizing, and using soaps that maintain your skin barrier. (Basically your skin is covered by a thin layer of oil, and some varieties of eczema are your skin’s reaction to the oil layer being incomplete or broken) I have eczema in my elbow and knee joints, and it’s been known to make appearances on my face and hands.
      By the looks of things you’re staying on top of moisturizing – but have you taken a look at what you’re using to wash the area? I think Aveeno has several soaps that will help, most will advertise themselves in as “maintaining the skin’s natural barrier” or something like that.
      I’m currently using the Cera Ve line of skin care products to maintain the barrier. They’re a little pricey, but a little goes a long way.
      Lastly I want to re-emphasize seeing a dermatologist to get whatever the new treatments are.
      Best of luck!

    8. Anonyby

      I don’t have eczema, but here’s some things that I’ve heard on various trustworthy boards.

      Try simplifying what’s going on your clothes/body. The fewer the ingredients, the better. Especially fragrances and dyes in laundry detergents and the soaps/washes you use in the bath/shower. And I’ve heard that a good, mild, simple soap helps a ton (though I’m getting that from people who turned to soapmaking and found an improvment with their eczema–definitely a biased source). You can’t get more simple and mild than a true castile soap–check the label. True castiles will have only olive oil as the fat (or sodium/potassium olivate as a detergent). Dr. Bronner started a mislabeling campaign with his soaps, so now people really need to check.

  28. salad fingers

    First, thank you, Dynamic Beige and Relosa for answering my super late questions last free for all. Going to try answering again in case anyone else has ideas/experience.

    Any recommendations for travel in Montreal? We’ll be there from Friday AM to Sunday PM in mid August. Booked an airbnb in Little Burgundy, so we’re all set there. We’re probably going to have dinner one night at O.Noir (?) where food is served in complete darkness by visually impaired staff. We might go to the sloth exhibit at the Biodome. Cathedrals are a priority for one of us. We’ll have poutine once, and I’m making everyone go to Tim Hortons. We plan to use the bike share system to do most of this stuff.

    Other quintessentially Canadian things to see or bring home? I have maple syrup and Kraft Dinner (apparently not the same as US Kraft mac n cheese) on the list but I’m drawing a blank on other stuff.

      1. salad fingers

        Yes, and after the whole thread about office gifting traditions, I’ve decided that I want to bring an edible souvenir for the office. Obviously maple syrup on its own and Kraft Dinner aren’t going to be great options, so cookies sound perfect. Or bagels, which I hear are excellent in Montreal, but that will require freezing as we’ll be in Maine for another week when we leave.

        1. CoffeeLover

          There are a lot of maple products. Literally an aisle in the grocery store of maple stuff. Maple spread, maple candies (my suggestion), maple cookies, maple syrup (of course), etc. You can usually buy them at the airport too if you don’t get the chance, though they would probably be a lot more expensive there.

          1. Dynamic Beige

            Maple sugar candies… oh so expensive and when I have them, I cannot stop eating them. If you can get them at the farmer’s market, they’ll probably be cheaper than anywhere else, like the airport.

            Montreal bagels are different than the other kind, I think they’re boiled first or something. Anyway, it’s a different form and some people just can’t deal with them.

            You can do the tourist-y sort of thing (sort of) and hit up Dunn’s World Famous deli for some Montreal style deli smoked meats http://www.dunnsfamous.com/en/

            And there is one thing that they have in Quebec that you can’t get anywhere else (that I know of) Ice Cider. Same process as with ice wine, but using apples. The taste is… unusual. Not saying it’s the best thing ever! and shouldn’t be missed, but if you like different types of alcohol, it’s worth a shot and the prices at the SAQ aren’t crazy.

            1. Cristina in England

              All bagels are boiled, but Montreal bagels are smaller, sweeter, and less chewy than NYC-style ones. I do not know how they achieve this but they are amazing (once you get over how shrunken they look!)

              1. Dynamic Beige

                I knew it was something, but I couldn’t remember what! It’s been a long time since I had a Montreal style bagel. :(

                1. salad fingers

                  Yes, bagels are a serious priority for us too (most of us — one of us is gluten free :(). I have to say that hearing that they aren’t chewy makes me skeptical, but I will keep an open mind. I read somewhere that the sweetness comes from their being boiled in honey water. Mmmm.

              1. Dynamic Beige

                Just be warned that like ice wine, it’s kind of a dessert wine (I even saw it in sparkling) so you don’t take a full size regular wine glass of it, more for sipping out of a thimble-ish glass. The bottles are the same kind of size as ice wine, very thin 200ml @ 11% alcohol/volume it says on the Domain de France I still have.

    1. Amber Rose

      Beer. Find some local pubs and try the beer, we take it seriously. And if you don’t like beer, just eat the food. Pubs have the best food. I nearly live at The Toad and Turtle near my house. Best calamari ever.

      1. salad fingers

        Ah, perfect — we’re beer enthusiasts (one of us is a nerdy homebrewer, even). I have to double check, but I think we’ve got Brutopia on the tentative itinerary. We’re very sad that Unibroue doesn’t have a tap room, but there seem to be a lot of really nice small breweries to check out, so that’s good. Thanks!

        1. CoffeeLover

          Yes! Great breweries with great craft beer.

          My suggestions:
          1) Have a bagel. Best. Bagels. Ever. There are a lot of fresh bagel places you can go into and get a warm bagel with cream cheese.
          2) There are a lot of free shows/festivals/parades/etc. during the summer. Check out what’s happening and enjoy.
          3) Amazing graffiti. There’s probably a graffiti tour you could take and it would definitely be worth it. Artists are given spaces to create graffiti art in Montreal. It’s legal and it’s unreal.
          4) Great art scene in general. There are a lot of cool exhibitions to check out. I saw the John Lennon exhibition last time I was there.
          5) Great night life. Great clubs.
          6) Planetarium. They have a ceiling screen (I don’t know what to call it). You sit on beanie bag chairs and watch the coolest, visual show on planets, solarsystems, nebulas, galaxies, etc. It. Is. Amazing.

          1. CoffeeLover

            I’ll add the biodome is next to the planetarium so you could do both in a day. Day of learning to break up the days of partying :P.

            1. salad fingers

              Thank you CoffeeLover! Love planetariums — will pitch that to the group. Generally love art museums/exhibitions, so I think we’re going to look into that more as well.

              We’ll see about these bagels, though. NYC ones are hard to beat :-)

    2. Colette

      Old Montreal is nice to walk around, as is the old port. They both cater to tourists, btw.

      St. Joseph’s Oratory is amazing.

      As far as what to bring home, chips might be interesting – I think we have different flavours. Some chocolate bars are different as well (Smarties, Oh Henry). You can also get maple candies – they’re too sweet for me but some people like them.

      1. salad fingers

        Thanks Colette! St. Joseph’s Oratory looks beautiful. Added to the list/map. So are ketchup chips/maple candies. Mmmm.

    3. Cath in Canada

      Go do a deli and have a Montreal smoked meat sandwich! Schwarz’s is the best-known but gets lined up, and there are plenty of other alternatives.

      Try some beers from the Maudite brewery.

      Walk (or bike) up to the top of Mount Royal for the views over the city and a lovely park.

      Stroll through the old city in the evening.

      There are always tons of festivals – live music and such – so get an events listing.

      Jealous! Have fun!

        1. salad fingers

          Thank you!

          Schwartz’s was for some reason the first thing that made it on to our list and now my friend won’t stop talking about it. I don’t think she’ll let us not go at this point :-D

          Unibroue is a very popular brewery here in Chicago, and the homebrewer in our outfit is a super fan who has recreated several of their beers. We were a bit bummed to see that they don’t appear to do brewery tours or have a tap room, as far as I can tell. Did you go anywhere in particular to try them?

    4. K

      For your poutine, I recommend La Banquise. Cash only.

      Ketchup potato chips might be another food to bring back.

      Frankly my favorite place in Montreal was Chinatown. :P I really wanted to go to O.Noir but unfortunately it was above my grad student budget.

      1. salad fingers

        Excellent — La Banquise is also bookmarked on our map. We haven’t really talked much about Chinatown but it looks really close to the downtown area, so I”ll make sure we’ll stroll through. Thank you!

    5. Relosa

      You’re welcome! And I second the ketchup chips. I have actually had them in the US, but they quickly disappeared off the market, ha. I didn’t mind them – but then again, I’m Minnesotan.

      1. salad fingers

        I’ve had German ketchup chips, but not Canadian ones so I will be seeking them out. I’ve also rarely if ever met a chip I don’t like, so…

    6. Cristina in England

      Definitely bring back maple cookies (they’re sandwich cookies with maple cream filling). President’s Choice and Dare brands are the most common IIRC, but I preferred PC.

      Butter tarts are also a Canadian thing you’ll find in the grocery store or a bakery.

      Go to Fairmount Bagels, they’re one of the two bagel places that everyone argues over. Montreal-style bagels are smaller, sweeter, and slightly less chewy than NYC-style ones, but I’m a convert. They’re so good!

      I used to love Soy restaurant (restaurantsoy.com), which is an East-Asian fusion place. The best thing is the Asian seafood stew, if they still do it.

      I see on my Googling that Little Burgundy is by Marché Atwater. Marché Atwater is a big and well-known food market there, I don’t know if it is weekends-only, but just google “Atwater Market Montreal” and you’ll find it.

      Finally, you’re pretty close to Westmount, which is a gorgeous, mostly English-speaking part of town. Go up Atwater to Sherbrooke, and then keep going north up those winding streets if you want to do some house-ogling. You can also climb right up to the park at the top of Mount Royal via this direction, but bring a map because the roads are winding and you might end up on the other side!

      1. salad fingers

        Thank you for these awesome suggestions, especially the Little Burgundy specific ones. Really liking the idea of a trip to Marché Atwater from the quick search I did. My big concern is visiting as much as possible in the short time we’re there so I appreciate the tip on how to take the scenic route to Mount Royal. Getting more and more excited for this trip :-)

  29. RenterProbs

    Any advice for splitting rent with a roommate? My good friend and I are signing a lease on a condo but we are having trouble figuring out how to split the rent (one is a regular bedroom with a nice walk in closet, and the other is a master bedroom maybe a little bit bigger with an awesome bathroom but little closet space.) I’ve read that you should do it per sq ft, but the bathroom is really nice and I thought it might be worth a little more than that?

    This is all further complicated that she has a lower budget than I do (this place is close to her max) and while the area we are moving to is much closer to her work, we are primarily doing it because I just got a new job that I have to move to this area for. (So it’s really nice that she is willing to move, she would have to break her current lease to move now, no penalties on that though, as long as we can find someone to sublet.)

    She said that she didn’t want to spend any more than x…. but x is almost $90 than what I would be paying and though I’m making more than her it’s really hard to justify paying that much more a month for a bathroom per month when she will have her own just a little further away. I live really frugally to put money into savings and future grad school while she is not quite at that stage yet. I know it won’t be fully rational but I think I will internally resent it later when she’s eating out a lot and spending money on drinks that could have been put towards paying a little more in rent. (She’s pretty thrifty too, but definitely not as much as I am- how she spends her money is totally her choice, non of my business, I’m just trying to be prepared for potential conflict.)

    There really is few housing options in this area and this is one of the cheapest options, especially for next month! I think that we would make great roommates on every other account, I just want to think everything through and get started on the right foot with clear goals from the get go.

    So 1. is $90 more a month appropriate for a great master bathroom (on a about $2000 place in the city) 2. Should I just suck it up and pay more because shes a great friend and would be helping me out by moving now 3. Whats the best way to come to a consensus? I think I might be able to negotiate for a bit little more from her because I’m familiar with her budget (originally split rent was a little less than her max) but I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot either!

    1. Christy

      I had a great reply typed up and then I lost it. To sum up: you’re only paying $45 more than you would otherwise be paying, and that sounds totally worth it for a bathroom that guests don’t use. It also sounds like she’s doing you a favor by moving in with you, and it sounds like you couldn’t really find a better deal than living with a friend near your new job, particularly when she already has a place and your other options are stranger roommates, worse neighborhood, or paying way more to live alone.

    2. Jillociraptor

      How much of a difference does $90/mo make in your budget? If it were me, I’d suck it up and pay a bit more in rent. She’s articulated the max she’s willing to pay, and I think on your side you have to decide if the right answer is accepting the implications of that for you, versus finding another place that results in lower costs for you. If I were your friend, I think I’d feel a little slighted if I told you clearly what the limits of my price point were and you agreed to lease a place under the assumption that I’d max it out!

    3. RenterProbs

      Shoot OP here. So sorry but I confused my calcs…. I’d be paying $175 more a month than her! It’s about 90 more for me than I would be paying if we split. Thanks for all of your input!

    4. AvonLady Barksdale

      $90 sounds more than reasonable to me. If you’re taking the master, you should pay significantly more. Having a private bathroom is a big deal. Her bathroom won’t just be “hers”– it will be the guest bath, too, and presumably you’ll use it occasionally. If the apartment is $2000, I actually think it would be reasonable for her to pay $900 and you to pay $1100– bigger bedroom, private bathroom.

      I will also say this: her spending habits are none of your business. You say this, but it sounds like you don’t truly believe that. You need to believe it! :) I’m actually impressed that she said, “My budget is X” right upfront, because a lot of people wouldn’t do that and would just end up paying more than they’d like and end up resenting their roommate, even though they didn’t say anything upfront.

      Here’s the deal: if you’re not willing to pay a certain amount for rent, SAY THAT and find another place. But the way she spends and saves is not your concern as long as she pays her portion– her agreed-upon at the outset portion– on time. You say you’re trying to prepare yourself for future conflict, but it sounds like the “conflict” would come from you– fight that impulse in yourself.

      Your other option is not to move in with her and find someone else with whom you don’t have an established personal relationship.

      1. BRR

        That’s what I was coming here to say. Her budget is none of your business, she gave you what she was willing to spend. How would you feel if she found saving for grad school the same way you feel about her eating out?

        I’m not quite sure about the dollar amount for a bigger bedroom and private bath. It’s tough without knowing the condo. For $90 more than if you split it seems pretty reasonable, I wouldn’t think of it as you’re paying $175 more. It’s not the same as having a bigger closet though, it’s worth more in rent to me.

    5. fposte

      On the resenting her for her other spending: I understand that’s how brains can work sometime, but she has that money because of that very budget that you already knew about and agreed to keep within; it’s totally up to her if she wanted to spend only 30% of her salary on housing because she wanted an additional 5% for cocktails. It’s not fair to her to resent her for not changing her budget when that was the deal, and it shouldn’t have any potential for conflict if you keep your reasonable hat on.

      Right now you want a nice place that’s within your budget but it’s not within your friend’s. You can arrange the finances so it *is* within your friend’s budget, you can find a different condo that’s within both your budgets, or, I suppose, you can live on your own. But you can’t go beyond your friend’s budget and then require her to climb her budget up to meet yours.

    6. The Cosmic Avenger

      Remember, whether one of you needs a roommate, is closer or farther from work, or makes more or less than the other, none of that makes one whit of difference as to what is a fair rent. Now, if you want to help out a friend or family member, that’s fine, but that has nothing to do with making it a fair split, and it shouldn’t be the basis for your rental agreement.

      One way to figure out what’s fair is to have one of you set the rental share for each bedroom, and the other gets first pick of rooms. It’s much like letting one person cut the cupcake in half, and the other gets to choose their half first. It ensures the party making the division does so fairly, because if there is any inequality, it would be taken advantage of by the other party, so it’s in the interest of the person doing the dividing to do so as fairly as possible. Of course, if you are assigning rents and you really liked the larger master suite, you might assign it a higher value than your friend. If you trust this friend, you could both write down your proposed numbers for the other, see how far off they are, and then discuss what you each are willing to pay for which room.

    7. OP

      I think the problem started when I thought her budget was 1000 because she was sending me links to places 2000 and above. She just told me she didn’t want to pay more than 900 after we had already paid the application fee. And I goofed earlier with my calcs (I’d be paying $175 more than her) It’s been such a whirlwind with our schedules, but we should have been better at communicating.

      I’m getting so much great feedback here, and I’m definitely going to take it to heart all the advice saying I should have no opinion on her finances! I think I knew that on the surface level going in, which is why I said I wasn’t being rational, but it was something that I predicted might loom in the back of my head later so I need to do a better job of internalizing it! We’ve been friends for 15 years so sometimes it’s hard to take a step back – which is why you all have been so wonderful! I’m going to talk to her shortly, I’ll give you an update later this weekend! Thanks, everyone! :)

      1. Christy

        I would figure out what your budget is, independent of her. Can you afford $1075/month? Do you want to afford $1075/month? If not, I think you guys should look at other places. Like, if she’s been a friend for that long, say “I was caught off guard by your budget. I don’t want to pay more than $1000/month. I know you don’t want to pay more than $900/month. Should we look for a new place that’s $1900 or under, or should we each pay a little over our budgets to live here?” That might be a way to approach it.

        1. Margo

          Agreed! I’ve been in this situation a few times with a few different roommates, and I think being absolutely clear on how much you’re each willing to spend upfront is essential (even if it means you need to back out of this particular place). Then, when you look at a place, agree on how you would split the rent before you move forward on applying or signing a lease. Doing it by square footage makes sense, but other amenities like a personal bathroom or extra closet space should also count. Once you’ve agreed on how to split and signed a lease, consider it a done deal (therefore, your friend’s finances shouldn’t matter; you decided to spend more in rent, she decided to use her money for other purposes). Also, if your rent goes up in the future, I would recommend prorating accordingly (so if it’s a 55/45 percent split of the old rent, do that for the new rent).

          Oh and on another note… it sounds like you feel like you owe your friend for being willing to move, but she’s getting something out of it too (a roommate she likes and trusts). And remember, even “giving” her something $100/month in the form a break on rent adds up to $1200 a year. Do you feel like you owe her that much for her willingness to move? Instead, I bet you’ll both be a lot happier in the long run if you can agree to something that seems fair to both of you at the outset.

        2. Connie-Lynne

          Yes, this! It’s important to be able to talk openly about finances and other nuts-and-bolts of day to day life is you’re going to live together.

    8. NicoleK

      She’s your potential roommate, not your significant other. If you’re going to be internally resenting her for how she spends her money, please don’t move in together.

    9. blackcat

      My grad school roommate and I split the rent on a $1800 place as $1000 & $800. I had the bigger bedroom by like a factor of 2 (think 9×10 vs 14×12) and paid the higher amount. We both had flexible-ish budgets, but mine was more flexible than hers. I also had way more crap and filled the bigger room and a pet. She was moving out of her parents place and had very little. $1800/month was the cheapest 2 bed in the neighborhood, and we were both prepared to pay $1000/month if needed. She was on a tighter budget overall (she was paying via loans, I had a scholarship + stipend), so it worked well.

      It seemed like a fair division of the rent to me. What you’re talking about seems like a similar ballpark, and I think it’s pretty common for one person to pay 20-30% more depending on how much nicer the nicer room is.

    10. Not So NewReader

      If you guys do share a place I suggest that you do not disclose your income to each other. I think it will help in the long run.

      I agree with the others who have said if you are willing to pay 1K and she is willing to pay 900, then you look for a place for less. I think I would target 1800. If you are thinking about the disparity right now, it will be way worse once you have lived together a couple years. Both of you should pay 900 each. These things seem to fester and grow over time. Find a place where you both pay equally.

      Bathroom. You are thinking of the other bathroom as hers. She will not be thinking of it as hers. She will see every guest you guys have use that bathroom not yours. And you may even start to use it, too, because hey, it’s a few steps closer than your own. She will not feel that she has her own private bath. Yes, this could be a bfd, she is already sharing a living room/kitchen/whatever else with you.

      OTH, maybe the bathroom is your negotiation point. Everyone uses her bathroom, and her compensation for that inconvenience is to pay less rent.

    11. Stephanie

      I had a similar setup at an apartment. Rent was like $1925 and I paid $1050 for the master with the en suite bathroom and my roommate paid $875 for the small room with the hall bathroom. She had more closet space, but I think the size difference plus the en suite bathroom made a huge difference. It’s a big plus to have a private restroom. I tried to steer my guests toward my bathroom, but her bathroom often turned into guest bathroom unless I was adamant about it.

  30. NicoleK

    Does anyone on here take fish oil supplements? I’m looking into taking fish oil to improve my health but there are so many brands to choose from that it’s overwhelming.

    1. danr

      I take Nature Made Fish oil (on the advice of my cardiologist). The capsules are a bit large, but go down easily. There is *no* fish taste or burps. This is the only brand that I’ve seen that gives actual amounts for the omega 3’s .

    2. Sparrow

      My husband and I take Sundown Naturals Triple Omega 3-6-9, Flax, Fish and Borage Oils. We’ve also tried Health from the Sun Total EFA Omega 3-6-9. I like the Sundown because it doesn’t have a fish flavor. Also, I can get the large bottles for sale at my local grocery store.

    3. Rowan

      I do. I just look at the ones I can afford in the store and buy whatever has the most EPA and DHA.

    4. Girasol

      I go for old fashioned cod liver oil with its extra dose of vitamin D, especially in winter. Walgreens has a good cherry flavored one.

    5. Relosa

      I get the regular Trader Joe’s fish oil for my dog. I’m veggie so I don’t eat it. His fur is in amazing condition though, it’s never this shiny and pretty in summer!

  31. Amber Rose

    So most of western Canada is on fire and here I am in the middle, choking slowly to death on the smoke while the temperatures soar over 30 C and AC doesn’t exist at home or work.

    I’m suffering. Big time. Coughing, chest pain, fatigue. I’ve been sucking down black coffee by the gallon which helps me breathe but is rather hard on my stomach and doesn’t help the fatigue since now I can include insomnia to the list.

    I’ve been coughing up gunk and I’m concerned that I’m picking up a lung infection. I’ve had pneumonia three times in my life and my lungs are pathetic.

    Would it be weird to just start wearing a gas mask everywhere? *sigh*

    1. Cath in Canada

      It’s been hot and smoky here in Vancouver, too, albeit not as bad as in places that are closer to the big fires. But my eyes have been stinging and streaming all week (I had to wear glasses instead of contacts, which I don’t like), and I haven’t been able to bike to work or do any other exercise (I have asthma). I’ve been coughing all night, getting little sleep. Even my cats have been coughing – they looked so confused, poor things, I don’t think they’d ever coughed before!

      Hang in there, it will get better. See a doctor if the gunk persists. Do a rain dance. Good luck!

      1. Amber Rose

        It’s pretty cloudy (I think) so I’m hoping for rain. My weather app has said the weather is SMOKE for the last week, which isn’t that helpful. =P

        My kitty looks pretty miserable too. He just lays on the floor of his room, looks at me sadly whenever I walk by.

        1. StillHealing

          It sounds like you and kitty need to evacuate for legitimate health reasons. Can you pack up and move temporarily out of the thick smoke? Can you telecommute? I’m in Seattle and so far so good – we see the smoke in the distance and it provides for eerie Tatooine – like sunsets, but other than that, we can breathe.

          No air conditioning in most homes. I do, luckily, have it at work. I hope we get some really good rains across Western Washington and Canada. We need it so much and the air is definitely full of pollution….some good rain will knock it right out!

          1. Amber Rose

            Even if I could leave my job, I can’t afford to go anywhere. I’m technically “house poor”. I have a house, but can afford very little aside from it and have zero savings and three maxed out credit cards. Life up until now has been tough. :/

    2. Startingly Anon

      I think it’d be a good idea! or at least a dust mask (or those cold masks you can sometimes find)

    3. Dynamic Beige

      Go to a doctor. You may need an inhaler (if you don’t have one already). When I get sick, I develop cold-related asthma and it can get pretty bad with the coughing until I think I’m going to puke and the chest pain. If you’re coughing up black gunk, maybe there’s something that can help you. And yes, if you’re that bad, I would say stock up on some surgical masks or ask a pharmacist what they recommend. If you really can’t do the surgical mask, go old school and use a bandanna over your nose and mouth (it may need to be a bit moist, though). Better it gets caught on a mask/cloth then winds up in your nose and lungs.

    4. frequent fires

      I live in an area with frequent intense wildfires. As others have suggested, you should consider wearing a particulate mask when at home. You can find them at many home improvement stores or any other place that stocks PPE at reasonably inexpensive prices. The odor of smoke will still come through, but the mask should block much of the tiny particles you can’t see but that can still get into your lungs. Your lungs are telling you they don’t like what’s getting in them.

      Keep your kitty from being too active; don’t want him breathing in too much of the smoky air. I know you can’t evacuate for financial reasons, but can you and kitty drive out for the day when you’re not working? Go somewhere with clean air and hang out? That is one of the ways I deal with smoke from fires – leave for the day when I can.

  32. Fill Out A Form

    Deleted because work-related. This is the non-work thread — Friday’s is the work one.

  33. Shell

    Looks like the handwriting thread from yesterday resonated with a lot of people!

    I did a bunch of Googling about cursive italic, which I had been meaning to learn a few years ago and totally forgot about. The linked book Write Now by Getty and Dubay seems to be pretty good, but alas it’s out of print and I couldn’t find it in Canada (either in bookstores or libraries). So after an intense night of Googling, I found this:

    https://sites.google.com/site/bhagerty/home/handwriting

    It lists the major names of the cursive italic (Getty-Dubay, Briem, Sassoon, Barchowsky) and free resources for each, for those of us not in the US and can’t get our hands on the big-name books (like Sassoon or Getty-Dubay). I’ve downloaded the Briem pdf and am practicing letters as I type this! I needed an excuse to ink my new fountain pen anyway.

    Happy writing, folks! I’ll check back in a month to let y’all know if my handwriting has turned pretty yet :)

  34. Tomato Frog

    It makes so much sense to me that an advice columnist’s favorite Jane Austen book is Emma.

    1. abby

      There is a whole lot more I could write about, but it makes me very sad that these women, with their achievements and skill and strength, are unhappy with the way their bodies look. And that their is an article about it!

        1. Not So NewReader

          I had a job where I did a lot of lifting. My arms really shaped up into looking pretty decent. I was proud of that. I guess I am supposed to be ashamed of that??? Wow.
          I saw a picture a while ago of Michele Obama, her arms looked muscle toned- it was really noticeable. I thought she looked great.
          To each her own I guess. I have heard it said that people need things to be unhappy about. Maybe that is true.

    2. Panda Bandit

      That’s sad. All of these women are doing amazing things and yet they still can’t escape crap about how they look.

    1. Steve G

      I love it! I miss the Onion. I don’t know if was planned or a coincidence, but they never refilled the stands for the paper copies after either Irene or Sandy (I forget which one)….and I kept opening them for weeks saying oh, the hurricane and flooding are definitely over, when the heck are they coming back? They never did (sad face).

      1. one who'll walk across the fire for

        Check out the wikipedia article on The Onion. As I recall, they attempted to expand into a paper edition backed by local advertising in a handful of markets, but it largely failed and so – in many places, one day it just wasn’t there anymore.

        1. salad fingers

          My boyfriend is some kind of Onion headline savant, owns a copy of every print Onion since basically forever and has worn all of his Onion t-shirts to death. He keeps threatening to steal the few remaining empty Onion boxes and I’m actually sort of terrified that he isn’t kidding and would try this and end up in jail.

          1. one who'll walk across the fire for

            Sad thing is that I kinda sorta relate to that. I hope he stays out of jail, though.

            Funny – I’m actually drinking coffee right now at this very moment from my “Fuck off, I’m reading The Onion” coffee cup which has somehow miraculously survived for 20? years now.

      2. Connie-Lynne

        You used to be able to order the paper version mailed to you weekly. We got it at my house for a bit.

        I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the paper version in Chicago recently… they’re based near there, right?

  35. anon17

    I guess this is sorta work related, but it also applies to get-togethers, so hopefully it’s off topic enough.

    Is it weird to offer up bread/rolls as one would cupcakes? I’m practicing my baking, but I’m just one person, I can’t get through a loaf before it goes stale. But I’ve never heard of or seen someone bring loaves of bread in to a party/work/whatever. Would it be weird, or would you eat bread someone brought?

    And since I’m asking, how weird would lasagne be to bring in? I only know my mom’s recipe, which is hard to scale down, but could feed a small army. Is “hey guys, I brought in a layered bashed good… Made of noodles and meat” weird?

    1. danr

      Sure, bring bread. Good, homemade bread is always welcome. As for the lasagne, save it for a potluck lunch. Or a holiday party.

    2. NicoleK

      Bread would be okay. For me, lasagne (or anything entree like) would be a bit strange unless your company was having a potluck.

    3. Sparrow

      I would go for the bread! I think it is an easily shareable food item. I agree with others that lasagne might be better for a potluck. Are you able to make it and freeze it for later?

    4. Cristina in England

      Bread is great anytime, but it might be weird to bring it in alone, I think jam, butter, or even hummus would make it a complete snack.

      I have never worked in an office where food was not welcome, so I can’t imagine lasagne being a no-no. Maybe for that one, consider your office kitchen’s plate situation. Are there enough plates for that sort of thing, or should you bring in some paper ones?

    5. veggiewhatnow

      Well, as it stands, I’d have to ask you a zillion questions about what was in the food due to severe allergies. So, if you care about that sort of thing, maybe make up an index card with an ingredient list. But honestly, if I could eat what you were bringing and I knew you keep a clean kitchen, I’d be thrilled at random lasagna day!

    6. Saucy Minx

      When I bake bread, I keep one loaf for myself & either freeze the rest or give a loaf to our wonderful neighbors. This reminds me, I was going to bake some wholewheat bread today. Best get cracking!

      For a potluck at work, I would bring lasagna, or a basket of rolls or an artisan loaf, ready-sliced, w/ a container of butter on the side.

    7. Anonyby

      My friends love anything I bring, whether it be rolls, biscuits, cupcakes (actually, I do have one friend who does not like frosted/glazed cakes!), whatever.

  36. Skin deep

    Can I just whinge for a bit about something that’s been causing me a lot of angst?

    All the way through my adolescent years I had a perfect complexion. I didn’t have any special routines or anything – I was pretty obsessive about sun protection but that was it. Then late last year (in my late 20s) I started getting really awful acne, like the pores on my face decided to stage a spontaneous rebellion. I hadn’t changed anything in my lifestyle (if anything I was /less/ stressed than when I was at uni!) and my doctor did some tests and ruled out hormonal issues.

    It’s been like this for months and I’m just so frustrated. I’ve cut most of sugar/processed foods/alcohol and adopted a cleansing regime, it seems to help a bit but hasn’t solved the problem, plus post-acne marks stay for aaaages. I /hate/ wearing make up (not to mention it doesn’t help the problem) so that’s not pleasant either.

    Ugh. Anyway, it’s just a part of the ageing process along with slowing metabolism etc so I probably have to put a lot more effort to keeping healthy nowadays. I just never thought skin issues would be something people had to deal with once their teenage years were over.

    1. Relosa

      I feel you. I’m 28 and have cystic acne. It’s awful, painful, and not like regular acne so there’s pretty much nothing I can do about it except ride it out when it flares. I had flawless skin into my 20s as well.

      1. Natalie

        Not sure what your insurance sitch is, but a dermatologist might be able to help with the cystic acne

    2. Cruciatus

      I had the occasional pimple as a kid, but in my early 20s cystic acne took over, mainly in the jaw line. I got to a dermatologist who put me on tetracycline and Differin pads. They worked like a charm for a long time. I remember people not believing me that I had skin issues. Eventually I went on birth control that helps to control it. I would visit a dermatologist or even your primary doctor. They didn’t badger me or anything about what I was doing/not doing. It happens! It was amazing to have good skin again (though I did have to be super careful with sun protection–but sounds like you are already). They could have solutions to help you out or rule out things.

      1. Skin deep

        It wasn’t until I started googling about it that I realised adult acne was a common thing! I guess I just never looked closely at adults (or they wore makeup etc) when I was younger.

    3. nep

      I reckon many of us can relate.
      I’m older than you, but I’m also having some new and strange skin issues over the past several weeks. Most of my adult life, skin fairly clear aside from the occasional [monthly] breakout. But lately, some really odd stuff going on. Trying to determine the cause — I’m thinking it’s hormone-related.
      It’s a drag indeed. Best of luck.

    4. Elizabeth West

      Hmm. My skin has gotten better as I got older (I had cystic acne as a teen), except I still get breakouts some because I’m still menstruating. Not as bad but yeah they happen. It’s odd that you’d go from nothing to this. Hormonal issues, maybe? I’d check into that, if it were me.

      1. Renata

        skin deep’s comment says they already did see a doctor who ruled out hormone issues.

    5. AvonLady Barksdale

      I know a ton of people who developed acne as adults, so if nothing else, you’re not alone! For my part, I’m 37 and haven’t been zit-free for more than three days since I was 9. It goes in stages, but I have chronic cystic acne. I used to see a dermatologist for it, but now I use an acne face cleanser (Burt’s Bees) and toner, and that’s it. I had a lot of luck with Murad, but it’s pricey and my acne is so unpredictable, it just wasn’t worth it.

      A lot of my friends developed acne because they live in big cities. Seriously! With all of those crazy bacteria and all that dirt flying around, it was a wonder anyone’s face stayed smooth.

      Here are some things that have worked for me: I wear makeup almost every day (it helps protect my skin, believe it or not)– I know you hate it, but it’s something to consider. I flip my pillow every day and wash my sheets every week. You’d be surprised how people don’t think about something that simple! I used to wear cotton gloves to bed, too, which kept me from touching my face.

      On the positive side, acne means there’s oil in your face that prevents wrinkles and will, therefore, keep you looking young. This is what I tell myself every time my chin breaks out (like this morning– it’s extra sweaty ’round these parts).

      1. Relosa

        Seeing all these people with their cystic acne tales of woe really gives me hope! When I did have insurance I kept forgetting about it when I went in for exams, and it always happened to be when my skin was clear. But when I do have coverage again it gives me good ideas of what to ask the doctor about :D

    6. NicoleK

      I’ve had acne since I was 12. And it has never really gone away (my skin looks better now due to meds). It’s a terrible thing to deal with.

    7. Sparrow

      You mentioned cutting out sugar and processed food, but have you tried eliminating dairy? It helped a friend of mine, so throwing it out as a suggestion in case you haven’t tried it. Also, I like using the Clarisonic as part of my cleansing regime.

      1. fposte

        I love the Clarisonic! I did actually manage to overdry my skin with it (the joys of growing older), but it cleared up a couple of hyperplasia spots that I assumed I would have for life.

      2. Anomanom

        UGH, yes dairy is major. I am currently dealing with a crazy breakout because I gave in to my ice cream craving over 4th of July. I am 33.

    8. Stephanie

      Same deal. Mostly acne-free adolescence. I get hormonal breakouts around my period and ovulation now that can get pretty bad. I also get hyperpigmentation once the breakouts clear. Doesn’t help one of my best friends is a dermatologist and is like “Why do you have acne? Let me write you a scrip.”

    9. AcademicAnon

      So…if you’re of the XX or female type you might want to look into PCOS. Especially if you have excessive hair loss or a faint beard. The issues aren’t major but problems that result from them can be.

    10. Random CPA

      I’m still trying to figure out a good skin care routine, but I’m in the same boat as you. Good complexion as a teen, bad acne now. I’m hoping it’s just my pregnancy causing it. But I did find that I was getting acne on the sides of my face because I would prop myself up on my elbows and hold my face in my hand and I guess the oil from my hands was causing me to break out. I also found that washing my face twice a day was overkill, so I wash it at night and then use a scrub in the morning.

      So far that’s been helping a little, though I’m still breaking out, just not as badly as I was before, or if I make changes to my routine. But I occasionally make changes with the face wash and moisturizer I use to see if I can get things back to the way they were before. But so far no luck.

    11. nep

      Couple things to add. I’m finding out that less is more. Surely it depends on the skin condition and what’s going on — but I found that when I resisted the urge to try all kinds of products on my face and I gave it a break — putting nothing on it for a few nights — the skin was a bit clearer. Just noting that perhaps it’s good sometimes just to put nothing on it and let it breathe. (Also, stating the obvious here, but whatever issues I’ve got going on with my skin, it’s in FAR better shape overall when I: sweat regularly from exercise, get adequate sleep, drink lots of water.)

    12. Rowan

      No advice, but I can sympathise. My skin went haywire when I was 25. I’ve learned to live with it – there are much worse things that could be happening, after all, and at least acne can be covered with make-up. There are a couple of products I’ve found that help – Origins have a Super Spot Remover Gel that helps the really aggressive spots to not come to fruition and Boots have something similar.

    13. Carrie in Scotland

      I feel your pain, skin deep. I seem to “acquired” some spotty patches on my face (left check and near my hairline on my forehead) and I hate them :( I’m trying to get something from my Dr, the first thing they gave me hasn’t worked.

    14. Margo

      Sorry to hear that! I’ve had acne since I was a teenager and kept waiting for it to go away, but it never has (I’m almost 30 now, sigh). I highly recommend seeing a dermatologist – there are a range of possible options that could help you, including mild topical medications (which is what I currently use). The birth control pill helped me a lot; if you’re a woman (couldn’t tell from your post) you might consider trying that. Also, for anyone with really oily skin, I highly recommend the Origins Zero Oil products to control the oil.

      As a note, I’ve done some looking on the relationship between diet and acne, and it seems like the scientific consensus is that there is no proven connection between the two.

    15. Windchime

      I am in my mid 50’s and I still have acne breakouts. I also thought I would be done with this once my teen years were over. The thing that works best for me is exfoliation. (I realize this might not be true for people with more severe acne). I do have a Clarisonic but rarely use it. I use Aveeno Positively Radiant skin brightening daily scrub and also the Aveeno moisturizer. I also use a more “scrubby” scrub made by Philosophy a couple times a week. When I stop using my exfoliating scrubs, it seems like the breakouts start right back up.

      It’s depressing to be in my 50’s and still having breakouts on my face.

  37. Alistair

    Can you stretch a tshirt?

    I have a pair of souvenir tshirts that were always a little short, but seem to have gotten shorter as the years have gone by (I will not discount the possibility that my belly has expanded, but I mostly know how to handle that).

    I believe the shirts are cotton, but they have no tags. Can I somehow stretch them longer? Will that hurt the shirts? Or are they destined to become my daughter’s shirts one day?

    1. Elizabeth West

      It sounds like maybe they’ve shrunk. I don’t know how you could make them longer, except maybe with fabric softener. I don’t know if that would work permanently, however.

    2. Sparrow

      You could try stretching them while they’re wet. I had a cotton towel that was a souvenir and it shrunk in the dryer. I wet it again and stretched it out while it was drying and it definitely helped!

      1. Not helpful

        Daughter had t-shirts that would shrink in the dryer but wetting them would stretch them back out. I stopped putting them in the dryer after that.

    3. Alistair

      Thanks for the ideas ya’ll. I’ll try stretching them when wet. Conceptually, I don’t see how ironing helps, but I’ll give it a shot anyway!

  38. nep

    I once thought of sewing a strip of fabric onto a t-shirt that was a bit short — making a trim of sorts. Think that might work?

      1. Alistair

        Thanks nep, good idea, but I’m not sure I’d be able to match the colors enough so that it wouldn’t be noticeable. Since you’re the second to mention ironing, I’ll give it a shot.

  39. Trixie

    I have to say I’m completely burned out on ALL the yoga selfies I see on FB. Isn’t that what Instagram is for?

    1. fposte

      I’m not really on FB but now you’ve got me curious. What are they doing, setting a time delay and rushing into Dhanurasana? Holding a selfie-stick in their teeth in Half Moon? Or is it just a whole lot of tree pose?

      1. Trixie

        I follow a couple yoga FB groups which are so much more selfies than information, tips, suggestions, etc. I think they can set their smart phones to video record and then take a clip from that. Seriously, some do it every day.

  40. huddle up kittens!

    I have Hashimotos (thyroid issue). I’ve been talking a very low dose of medicine for the past three years and it works okay, but I would really like to pursue some natural healing methods versus taking medicine for the rest of my life. I’ve read that chiropractic care could be helpful – has anyone else tried this?

    Also, I have intense sugar cravings and I’ve heard going to a chiropractor can help with this. Has anyone tried this?

    1. fposte

      I’m all for people trying ways to keep themselves well, but please, whatever you explore, don’t go off your thyroid medication or stop getting your levels checked unless your doctor says it’s okay. Long term hypothyroidism is bad for your body and for your mental state in ways that can be a lot worse than taking medicine for the rest of your life.

    2. Sparrow

      Keep on your medicine, but you may want to look into doing a Whole 30 / paleo diet. I’m not 100% sure, but I think I’ve read people have used that to help with thyroid issues. Or you may want to research how diet affects thyroid issues. As for sugar cravings, I don’t think the only way to help that is just to cut down on eating sugar. As you eat less, your body craves it less. I haven’t been able to do it myself, but I’m trying!

    3. Observer

      Diet is a good place to start. About the only thing that seems to help is stuff that helps your immune system, as hashimotos is an immune system issue. But, even that doesn’t work for a lot of people, especially if the problem has been ongoing for a while before you catch it. But, it can help to keep things from getting worse, although even there, there are no guarantees.

      Chiropractic is useless for this.

      1. Observer

        I just want to emphasize something: Please do NOT go off your synthroid, unless you see real improvement. Good doctors monitor your TSH and other levels to see if your dosage needs to be adjusted.

        Adjusting your diet is still a good idea. But, it’s almost certainly not going to reverse the process sufficiently to get you off medication. As others have noted, this stuff affects just about every major system in your body. And, NOT taking the medicine is likely to speed up the destruction.

    4. Observer

      On the sugar cravings: Sparrow is right that for a lot of people, cutting sugar and simple carbs is extremely helpful. If you are willing to be really conscious about your diet, try going on diet of foods with a low glycemic index. If you are not up to that, a good rule of thumb is to avoid foods that have their color stripped out. That won’t eliminate all foods with a high glycemic index, but it will help with a lot.

      In general, unless you are dealing with something like insulin dependent diabetes, diet is your best bet for dealing with stuff like sugar cravings.

    5. Elizabeth West

      I’m going to be very blunt, because I care.

      Please do not listen to people who tell you chiropractic will cure diseases. That is the worst kind of snake oil. It’s BULL. SHIT. Chiropractic is like a glorified backrub. That’s it. It does nothing for your internal organs, immune system, sugar cravings, diet issues, or any kind of disease process. Any doctor who claims it does is a quack and you should run far far away. Any layperson who says it does has no idea what they are talking about.

      The medicine you are taking is a replacement for the substance your malfunctioning thyroid will not produce naturally. You need it to live. If you don’t take it, you are risking long-term health problems, not to mention you will feel like absolute crap. Here are some complications from untreated Hashimoto’s (you can trust this website): http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hashimotos-disease/basics/complications/con-20030293

      As for the sugar, that’s a diet issue. If you gradually start cutting down the amount of sugar you add to foods, and try to avoid processed foods with added sugar as much as you can, then your palate will adjust. Eat whole foods as much as you can, complex carbs, and lots of fruits and veg. In time, you won’t want all that sugar because it will be too sweet. There are also no medical (science) recommendations anywhere that say diet will cure this disorder. Most of that is a bunch of alternative hooey. However, eating better WILL help with weight gain and cravings.

      Please, don’t stop taking the medicine. I’m hypo too and I know what it feels like to have this problem untreated.

      1. Christy

        Right–I’ve seen a chiropractor for back pain since I was 9. It helps with that, and it has helped with other kinds of pain (headaches, jaw pain, knee injuries) but it doesn’t do anything else. I really do think it has helped me with my back, but I would absolutely not use it as treatment for Hashimoto’s or sugar cravings.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Yep, your back is what it’s for. I saw one after I hurt my back. Though it didn’t really help that much, she taught me a couple of stretches that help when the muscles are knotted up. So it has value–but people really need to avoid the ones who make ridiculous claims about curing disease.

    6. edj3

      You take the thyroid because Hashimoto’s is destroying your thyroid gland, which means it’s not making enough thyroid and/or your body cannot properly use what’s made–no chiropractic intervention will cure that situation. I second the rest of the posters here who have said don’t stop taking your synthroid (which is what I’m guessing you’re on) and don’t look to a chiropractor to help you with this disease.

      Full disclosure: my husband has this disease and my dad is an endocrinologist.

    7. MJ6

      I’ve had my thyroid removed because of Hashimoto’s (nodules were growing and FNA tests were showing abnormal cells, which thankfully were not cancerous), so I am on Synthroid for life. Here are a few things I have learned:

      — Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune disease. Your autoimmune system is attacking your thyroid. Hopefully the disease will progress very slowly and you can hang on to your thyroid.

      —Two years on from surgery, I am showing signs of other autoimmune issues, particularly sudden onset of joint pain in most of my joints (negative for RA at this point, but positive for autoimmune antibodies). Three months ago I adopted a pretty strict diet, mostly whole, unprocessed foods. Lots of veggies, a little bit of fruit, no other sugar, reduced dairy, whole grain foods and occasional gluten-free breads and crackers, some meat (not every day), more fish (the good kinds), good oils, Omega 3 eggs. I am definitely feeling improvement in my joints. I chose to go whole grain instead of gluten-free, because gluten free breads are so pasty, that I cannot imagine this was what nature wanted me to eat! I may try it in the future if my health declines.

      —Synthroid is a synthetic hormone which very closely replicates the hormone your thyroid produces. It’s not in the same league as other medicines which treat symptoms by combatting them.

      —Your thyroid hormones, adrenal hormones, and sex hormones balance each other to keep your body functioning. If one of them is not working properly, the others are affected. Synthroid isn’t just about treating symptoms of hypothyroidism; it’s about keeping your whole body in balance.

      —Untreated hypothyroidism can cause other health issues like goiter, heart problems, and depression (see Mayo Clinic website – Hashimoto’s – complications).

  41. Persephone Mulberry

    Tips/scripts for nurturing a new acquaintance into an actual, hanging-out-in-real-life friendship?

    My sister’s bachelorette party was last night, and a friend of hers that I had not really met before and I were both kinda early, so we got to hang out and chat for a bit while waiting on the others. Turns out we’re the same age, we’ve got identical taste in TV, blah blah blah – she is definitely someone I’d like to hang out with more. So, how to make that happen? Sister’s wedding is next weekend, and I’m kind of hoping that my husband and New Friend’s boyfriend hit it off so that I can play the “you guys should come over and grill with us” card or something like that. But the solo meetup “We should get coffee” approach feels…too much like a pick-up line, I guess? I’m stumped. (This is probably why all of my friendships are on Facebook.)

    1. fposte

      Maybe start with a destination/activity thing rather than a straight hanging out? “Hey, I really enjoyed talking to you and I was thinking it would be fun to do something again. I was considering going to that revival showing of The Love Bug on Friday–wanna come with? We could get coffee or something afterwards if we aren’t too emotionally wrung out.”

    2. Sparrow

      Since she’s your sister’s friend, you could you start with the three of you hanging out at first and then maybe transition to solo stuff?

      1. Persehone Mulberry

        My sister and I don’t hang out much – we’ve got pretty different interests ad social scene. (I was actually kind of dreading her bachelorette because of this!) I think Sis and New Friend are actually friends through their significant others, so I might be able to work the casual dinner party angle.

        1. Persehone Mulberry

          Also, I creeped her boyfriend’s Facebook a little bit, and turns out he and my husband have a love of football and Star Wars in common. So I’m pretty sure they’ll hit it off just fine too. ;)

          1. Sparrow

            Ah, gotcha regarding the sister thing. Sounds like a good match all around so I hope it works out! I like fposte’s suggestion. I’d say just text or email to ask about getting together and see what she says. Maybe she is feeling unsure as well.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      It does sound like a pickup line, but I promise, it works! It’s so hard to make new friends– I’m at that stage now. Suggest coffee or brunch. It IS like dating– someone has to make the first move. :) I even joke about it with my girlfriends– “Aw, that’s the restaurant where we went on our first date!”

    4. CoffeeLover

      I’m in a similar situation. I met a friend of a friend about a year+ ago and really liked her. Initially, I asked my friend to set something up between the three of us, but he’s actually not that close to her. She really expressed interest in hanging out though. I’ve had her on facebook since the day I met and get her updates in my newsfeed. She’s still someone I’d like to get to know. I’ve been abroad for the last few months, but I’ve decided when I get back I’m just going to take the plunge and “ask her out” :P. The worst that can happen is we don’t hit it off as well as I hoped, or she doesn’t have time to meet up. I say go for it.

    5. Lulubell

      I would just say, “You’re fun. We should hang out some time!” And then do it. People have done that to me, and I’ve been so thankful. And the few times I’ve done that to others, I haven’t regretted it. Don’t overthink it. Or, if you are really nervous, just plan a small party/grilling session where you invite a handful of people, including her. The “group date” approach, if you will. :)

          1. Persephone Mulberry

            aw, thanks! I have some of the more fun stuff unlisted at the moment because I’m preparing for my first arts & crafts show at the end of the year and I need all the inventory I can get.

        1. scarydogmother

          Off-topic but I’m with Friends. Your papercrafts are delightful and I’d love to learn how to do that (I’ve been itching to reignite my creative flame). How did you get into it?

          1. Persephone Mulberry

            The blog Cake Wrecks featured a Sunday Sweet that had quilling-style decoration on it, and a link to the ah-maz-ing work of Yulia Brodskaya. Google pretty much took it from there.

    6. LizB

      Find a specific thing you’d like to do with this person, and ask them to do it! The method is basically the same as the method for asking someone on a date, which is why it feels like a pick-up line; the only difference is that you’re checking each other out as potential friends, not as romantic partners. Coffee, brunch, some kind of free event in your city, a walk in the park, etc. Make it something low-pressure, and specify an end time to help avoid too much awkwardness if it turns out you don’t actually hit it off that well after all.

    7. Friends

      So glad you asked this. All of my current friends have been around for so long that I’ve forgotten how to make new ones. Not planning on trimming anyone, but distance+ families make it hard sometimes. It was so much easier back in college- “Hey, you were smart in class today. Wanna go with me and my other friends to a club?”. I’m far less open to people as a curmugeoney middle-aged person, and I can’t imagine the same line working after a meeting. (Though, I guess it could with some alterations? :).

  42. Random CPA

    Well, I’m two days past my due date. I’m going to try castor oil tomorrow morning to try and get labor going. I’m just dreading going back to work on Monday where I have trouble sitting because of the pressure in my pelvis and countless people saying “Had that baby yet?” Hopefully the castor oil works…

    1. fposte

      Oh, good luck! The old Our Bodies, Ourselves used to say pizza, orgasms, and beer were the key. You could always try those–it at least seems a pleasanter way than castor oil to pass the time.

    2. Jane

      I am so sorry. I went 10 days over, so I know you are probably not super happy right now. I tried everything to naturally induce. Eventually, my midwife did a sweep and it sent me into labor. Honestly, if I had it to do over, I would skip the castor oil and endless walking and just take extra naps. (If it helps to hear this, labor itself was not bad at all. I didn’t need/want any pain relief. My midwife said my body did a lot of the work in the weeks before active labor.) Best of luck! Baby will be here before too much longer. In the meantime, this site might come in handy: http://www.haveyouhadthatbabyyet.com/

      1. Random CPA

        Loved the website!

        This is my third, and this pregnancy has been much harder than the other two, which were relatively easy, probably because I was in my 20s then. Braxton Hicks have been so strong the past couple of months that the tightening in my abdomen wakes me up at night. I had false labor contractions about a week ago, which I didn’t have with my other two, so I was really disappointed when they didn’t progress to full labor. The not-being-able-to-sit thing is also new to this one so I’ve been spending a lot of time either on my feet or kneeling. Lying down isn’t comfortable so I wake up frequently (in fact, up at 2:00 AM now, it’ll be another couple of hours until I can fall back asleep).

        Anyway, I’m desparate to get this baby out. I’ve never tried castor oil before, but I’m prepared for the bathroom consequences and have stocked up on Pedialyte. I plan on taking it first thing in the morning.

          1. Random CPA

            Too late. Took it at 5:00AM after I couldn’t go back to sleep. I had some mild contractions while it was having the laxative effect but they went away when that subsided. So no baby today. I guess it’s back to work tomorrow for me.

  43. The Other Dawn

    I’m happy to report that I’ve discovered I have lemon thyme growing in my garden. Lots of it. Any ideas as to how I can use it in cooking? Right now they’re flowering – pretty purple flowers – so I assume I can’t use that part in cooking. It smells so nice out there!

    1. hermit crab

      Ooooooh, lemon thyme is so nice and you can use it in so many things! I really like putting it in iced tea. But there are tons of recipes out there. Really anything that tastes good with lemon will taste good with lemon thyme: chicken, fish, roasted vegetables …

    2. Thinking out loud

      You can use the flowers! My mom sells herbs to fancy restaurants and they love thyme flowers. (Also rosemary, nasturtium, and lavender – all edible!) Lots of soups and hearty potato dishes use thyme, but I’d use the flowers as garnish on a salad that uses thyme in the dressing.

    3. Charlotte Collins

      Try it in biscuits or muffins. I also use it in a lot of recipes that just call for fresh thyme (bonus if they also call for lemon). Also, you can just add it to your water or lemonade for a little extra flavor.

      Now that I think about it, it would probably also taste great in shortbread or butter cookies. Or in an herb butter.

  44. Come On Eileen

    Any tips or advice on how to stop comparing myself to other people? I recognize that I do this a LOT and it inevitably makes me feel bad about myself. I look at people’s happy photos on Facebook, or hear people tell stories about getting married and buying a house — all stuff I feel like I should have accomplished in my life by now, but haven’t, so when I hear their stories or see their happiness, I feel sad and bad. I feel like the first step is being consciously aware of it in the moment, which I’m now good at, but the harder step is how to either stop myself from drawing the comparison, or stop myself from feeling lesser than. It really wears a person down after a while.

    1. nep

      A few random thoughts:
      ‘…getting married and buying a house — all stuff I feel like I should have accomplished in my life by now…’ Should have, according to whom or what?

      Aside from the no home, no spouse, are you satisfied with how things are going in your life — personal/health, work, relationships? Are there things you’ve been aspiring to do but that have fallen by the wayside? Sometimes when we know we’re shorting ourselves in some way, these comparisons are extra pronounced and stinging.

      I generally find that reaching out and giving my time to someone less fortunate that I really puts things in perspective and doesn’t leave much time or space for self-pity or the comparisons.

      There really is a way to stop those thoughts in their tracks — a mantra, turning off FB and looking at cat videos, something, anything. Good that you’re aware of it. Keep working at it — you can free yourself of this.

      1. Sophia in the DM

        I agree and would go further, deactivate your FB for a while so there’s no temptation

        1. Random CPA

          I agree with deactivating Facebook. People (for the most part) are showcasing only their accomplishments and not their failures. A lot of my friends or acquaintances that have gotten married within the last 10 years are getting divorced and it’s always a shock to me. Back when I was on Facebook I’d see only their happy times in pictures and posts. People generally don’t post how hard they’re working at their marriages or that they’re about to get divorced. Similarly with the houses, a lot of people I know bought in 2006 when the market was overinflated and some lost their homes because they weren’t able to flip them and couldn’t make the payments.

          Things are not always as they seem, and their measure of success doesn’t have to be yours.

    2. Today's anon

      I try to take my attention back to my life and what I know of it, and all the things I do that bring me pleasure and to see the good of my situation. For example I would like a partner but there is also great enjoyment in being totally free to do something at the last minute because I am single or stay in, or not do the dishes right away because I live alone. Or, I am happy not to be in a house where I’d have to take care of the boiler or the roof or whatever. That usually brings me back to the present and to myself. Also, to consciously remind myself that facebook is like a fairy tale, people usually don’t post about the bad stuff in their life. It takes discipline though to do this.

    3. Expendable Redshirt

      Read the book Meditations by Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Emperor Marcus ruled the ancient Roman Empire with the guiding principles of the stoic philosophy. The man strived, literally, not to give a flipp about anything. 0_O

    4. fposte

      There are actual studies about this problem with Facebook–it’s a known and recognized thing. It’s particularly acute there because people’s lives are so curated on it; it’s so distorted that it’s kind of like comparing yourself to life on a television show.

      So, yeah, shut off the Facebook. And humans have a strong tendency to only compare up (or what they consider up) and ignore the information about the rest of us–maybe start cultivating a habit of noting that you’re encountering a more complex set of circumstances than FB was making you think. Some people you know are divorced, and some are probably considering it; some people bought a house and shouldn’t have; some people have physical or mental health issues that are making survival tough; etc.

      Remember, there are more single than married adults in the US; 35% of people in the US don’t own homes. You don’t sound like an outlier to me.

      1. Today's anon

        This reminded of a saying “you are comparing your insides with other people’s outsides” – as in, we don’t really know what is going on inside people’s heads and lives, but we know far too well what is going on in ours, so we will always fail when comparing one to the other. I think FB makes this even worse.

        1. nep

          Great point — Anne Lamott has that in her book Bird by Bird – Instructions on Writing and Life. It’s so true. Just allow yourself to think past and breathe past those knee-jerk gloom and doom thoughts / comparisons. They’re just fleeting thoughts — stop feeding them. Period.
          (Also — truly First-World problems. Rise above and beyond it. One is not powerless in the face of such thoughts.)

      2. Anonymous Educator

        Definitely curated. I have no shame in saying my Facebook timeline is curated. I will occasionally post some social justice–related stuff, but I generally don’t want to fill my timeline with stuff that’s downer stuff. Do my friends really want to see stuff like “This is my gut. I shouldn’t have had that extra bowl of ice cream”? Or do they want to see “I was an absolutely unproductive human being today”? Or perhaps “We’re drowning in credit card debtf”? I mean, really, I’ve seen people post things like that once every two or three years, and then get a whole bunch of sympathy from friends, but if you do that all the time, you become a downer. Facebook isn’t for your every thought. It’s kind of like those annoying Christmas “newsletters”—highly curated, just for highlights.

        Your friends are posting up “I bought a house” and “I got a new job” or “I just got married” because they don’t want to post up “My spouse is cheating on me” or “So-and-so never washes the dishes, and I’m resentful” or “I’m having suicidal thoughts.”

        More importantly, those outer markers are just fluff. I have friends who’ve bought houses. And while I’m envious of their ability to save money and make a commitment, I’m pretty happy in my rental apartment. I’m married, and I don’t think I’m significantly happier than my single friends (happier perhaps in a different way, but not necessarily in a better situation).

        We’ve all had moments like that where we say “Hey, how come she’s always on vacation in a beautiful spot?” or “Wow… that food does look good… I wish I could afford to eat out more.” Just remind yourself it’s a skewed illusion, and everyone is human and has struggles… those struggles just aren’t on Facebook.

        1. abby

          This: “It’s kind of like those annoying Christmas “newsletters”—highly curated, just for highlights.”

          That’s why I deactivated. I was much more interested in knowing about the full, rich lives of my close friends and family members. Much less interested in the annoying highly curated “newsletters” from acquaintances on a regular basis.

    5. Lulubell

      I’m in a similar place in which I’m single and don’t have a lot of the things people my age have, so I understand where you are coming from. A few things that have helped me:
      – Flipping the script – instead of being jealous of my friends, considering how lucky I am to have all of these friends, and being genuinely happy for them
      – Also remembering that people generally only show their best lives on FB – we don’t see five minutes after the photo when the kids have a meltdown or the parents fight over finances or all of the myriad other problems that come from being an adult
      – Volunteering/helping those less fortunate. This is one of the best things I’ve done to improve my self-worth/self-esteem.
      – Creating the best life possible, with what I do have. I have hobbies I can nourish and quiet alone time that I know tons of friends envy! (Not that I want them to envy me, just that I recognize I have a lot to be thankful for.)
      – And that goes to my number one suggestion – gratitude. Download a gratitude app (or use a journal) and every day write down three things you are thankful for. More if you have them. Even if it’s only: I’m so thankful my hair looked great today! It can change your perspective and make you less ragey towards your friends. :)

    6. +1-ing

      Thanks for writing in about this. All of my friends are more successful than I am. I deleted my FB. I just couldn’t deal. Now, it’s easier to step back and appreciate my own life in between the times I see them. It’s still very hard not to be jealous, but I believe sorting out my own head-space increases my chances for success, and keeps my friendships healthy and strong. They want to see me be just as successful as they are, and it helps to remember that. It also helps to remember the story’s not over yet. There’s still time to have the life I have always wanted. It’s not a race.

      In a way, I’ve been lucky in that I am privy to some of the bad, as well as the good in their lives. So, I know it’s not all caviar dreams. Which doesn’t take away the jealousy, but it helps me ground my desires in the reality that comes with having what I long for.

    7. abby

      I deactivated Facebook some time back, and I have to say I am much happier. I was never truly unhappy with my somewhat unconventional life choices, but Facebook made me question everything, which caused me some anxiety. It took some effort to revive my live relationships, but they are much more satisfying than the snippets on Facebook, anyway.

    8. katamia

      Oh, my sympathies. I’m very much not where I feel I should be in life, and it’s something I get very frustrated about sometimes.

      The best piece of advice I got when I was a teenager was to focus on what I could control. Of course I haven’t been perfect about putting this into practice, but something that’s really helped me is, when thinking about my goals, hopes, dreams, etc., to focus on taking steps that are actually in my control rather than creating goals that hinge on someone else.

      For example, “Get a job” is a goal that hinges on someone else–you can write a killer cover letter and have a great resume and interview, but sometimes someone else will get the job anyway. “Apply to X jobs per week” or “Apply to all the jobs I find that I’m reasonably qualified for that are in a certain location I desperately want to move to” are things you have more control over. I’d say getting married is similar to that–sometimes things don’t work out or you haven’t met anyone you’re compatible with, but just like getting a job, getting married hinges not just on you, but on someone else also saying yes. (Can’t speak about buying a house because that’s not something I’m interested in, so I haven’t looked into it.)

      This certainly won’t fix everything. There are people I know who I’m still incredibly jealous of because they’re living exactly the life I want (including an acquaintance who just got a job in a country I’d kill to live in *sigh*). But I’ve found that when I make a conscious effort to focus on what I can do myself, I have a better attitude about where I am in life and even get better results (probably because of my better attitude).

    9. Not So NewReader

      If it’s rude to say a similar thing to a friend, then it is rude to say it to yourself.
      Tell yourself “I would not speak to friend with thoughts like these, therefore I cannot talk to myself that way, either.” Respect starts with oneself.

    10. Revanche

      I had a really hard time with this when it seemed like I was always going to be poor or broke while my friends had zero idea of what it was like to have to be careful down to the last penny. I wasn’t resentful of them as individuals but it was sure hard not to feel generally like a loser sometimes when I saw the highlights.
      What helped: writing a blog where I was honest about both the good and the bad and that my life and my choices are mine to live and own. Also it was a good reminder that there’s always someone at the beginning, middle, or end of their journey. You don’t know where they are when you compare but it’s unlikely to be from equivalent points.
      Not joining FB.
      Joining Twitter instead (where my follow list is all my interests and people I’d like to be friends with but no one who is promotional or totally curated like on FB).
      Looking at the jealousy and deciding how much was just societal based pressure (“get married by 25”, “buy a house by 30”), and how much was legitimate and mine. And even so, even when it is legitimate, understand that plans have a way of changing.
      Thus far, I accomplished absolutely none of the things by this age that I expected of myself but I am really happy in the life I ended up making and that’s something I failed to plan for. I assumed the things and the accomplishments made happiness but that was not the secret sauce.

  45. Schuyler

    I’ll be in New Orleans next week, the 18th-24th. I’ll be there for a conference taking place the 19-22. Anyone have suggestions for my off time and the extra couple days I’ll be staying? Good places for music, history, food, drink–everything and anything is welcome. I’ve never been to New Orleans before, and got such great help last year from the AAM faithful that I figured I’d try again!

    1. Laura Beth

      Walking tours in the French Quarter are great for history, and there are tons of awesome, affordable ones. There are a couple drink-tasting ones, even. I love Jackson Square (everyone should have beignets at Cafe du Monde!) and walking along the river. I love El Gato Negro near Esplanade, which is just a tiny Mexican place, but they have good food and pineapple cilantro margaritas, mmmmm. Commander’s Palace is a fun, fancier place to eat Uptown – they have a great Jazz brunk on the weekends, complete with 50-cent martinis, but I think your conference is going to interfere with that. There are a million other great restaurants, those are just two of my favorites.

      I usually recommend riding the streetcar the whole way uptown, but I believe they are working on it again/still, so probably something to skip on this trip. If you’re interested in Mardi Gras, they do daily tours at Mardi Gras World, which is near the convention center. You get to see some of the floats and things like that. There’s also a river boat (Steamboat Natchez) which I personally loved, but I was with a big group for law school graduation, so there was lots of alcohol involved. But it’s fun if you like that kind of thing :)

      You will have fun while you are there, just prepare to be HOT (not sure where you are, so it might not be much change for you, but still. HOT.).

    2. Sparrow

      My husband and I craft cocktail fans, so here are some of the bars we visited.

      Latitude 29. This is an awesome place with amazing tiki drinks and food. Try the Missionaries Downfall. We came here twice!

      Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. The bar actually rotates like a carousel. It can get busy, but seats do open up frequently. Had an excellent Pimms Cup here.

      Arnaud’s French 75. Fancy, tasty drinks in an upscale bar. Next time I would like to make reservations at the restaurant.

      Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel. Had an excellent Ramos Gin Fizz here.

      Killer Po Boys in the back of the Erin Rose bar. They only take cash. The shrimp po boy was delicious. They also had a vegetarian option with sweet potatoes.

      Have a great trip!

    3. brightstar

      You could visit the WWII museum (warning: it is huge). Just walking around the French Quarter will give you a sense of history. You can visit Tennessee Williams house in the Quarter. There are several tours available for different areas of NOLA.

      Food wise: my favorite restaurants there are: Domenica in the CBD, and MoPho in Mid City (Creole/Asian Fusion). Visit Pirate’s Alley. You can go to Central Grocery and get a Muffaletta (pronounced Moo-fa-lotta). Lots of people like to go to Pat O’Briend’s for hurricanes, which are serious sugar bombs and not great in the heat.

      It’s very hot and very humid and most places go overboard on air conditioning. If you wear glasses you can expect your glasses to fog up every time you go outside. Make sure to drink lots of water and save most walking around for morning/evenings.

      I recommend going by the Moonwalk at night and looking at the river for a bit, as well.

    4. Schuyler

      Thank you all for the tips! I’m looking forward to it. A couple of these–the carousel bar, WWII museum, etc.–were things I was thinking about but was second-guessing. And I’ll definitely take a look at the other thread, thanks for the link!

  46. Alistair

    Earlier this week, USA Today had an editorial about whether rock and roll was dead (it was written because of the Grateful Dead’s big farewell concert). The answer was a two fold no.

    First, (and I believe this) as long as Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters exist, rock won’t die. Dave especially won’t give up rock without a fight.

    Second, the author mentions a number of young bands who are just starting to rock out. He specifically called out Radkey and Beautiful Bodies.

    Well, I’ve spent the last two or three hours listening to Beautiful Bodies, and I really dig them. Solid rock chops, little bit of punk, little bit of pop-rock, no screaming (pet peeve). The singer is female, with a strong clear voice, and I was really enjoying them. I’m going to give Radkey a long listen tomorrow.

    Any other new bands or artists, rock or otherwise, that have had your ear lately? I’m always up to give new music a listen.

    1. AnonAngeleno

      AWOLNATION (though you might find them screamy, especially if you have heard “Sail”). Imagine Dragons. Florence and the Machine. Fall Out Boy (okay, they’ve been around for a while). Since I’m posting under this alias–check out the lists of artists who have appeared at the KROQ Weenie Roast. Daughter loves All Time Low, and they’re starting to win me over, too.

    2. Stephanie

      Neither artist is that new, but I’ve been enjoying Kendrick Lamar’s and Florence and the Machine’s latest albums.

      1. Audiophile

        I haven’t listened to Florence + the Machine’s new album but I really d dug the last two albums.

        I second AWOLNATION, check out their song “I Am”, solid song.

        1. Alistair

          Already love Florence + The Machine. Glad to hear about the new album! I knew it was coming, didn’t know it was out already. I’ll have to buy it for my birthday.

          I’ll check out the others ya’ll have mentioned, thanks!

    3. Grey

      If Disco can survive (listen to songs like Bruno Mars’ “Treasure” or Maroon 5’s “Sugar” and tell me it hasn’t), Rock and Roll will be around forever.

  47. one who'll walk across the fire for

    Is anyone else watching Mr. Robot on USA? Only three episodes so far, but I’ve fallen in love with it.

    In other media news: I was surprised to find that the Melissa McCarthy movie Spy is really damn funny. I’m far from her biggest fan, but I have to admit that it was good. Featured many way-over-the-top trash-talkin’ threats and insults.

    1. Stephanie

      Thanks for the recommendation. I was hesitant about that movie as well (also meh on her brand of comedy), but glad to hear it’s good. Will check it out.

  48. Laura Beth

    I am traveling to Los Angeles in early August, and I’m a bit stumped on what to do! I’ll be spending a few days at Disneyland, I might try to take in a baseball game, and I will be joining a group later that is going to a couple of the typical Hollywood spots (Walk of Fame, wax museum, etc.). I saw that there is a natural history museum – I love those! Is it worth it? Any other sort of don’t-miss place that you would recommend? I haven’t picked a hotel for the time in between Disney and the group, so ideas of which area of town to stay in would be great as well! I am thinking maybe Santa Monica, because I love the beach. But any tips welcome! Thanks :)

    1. AnonAngeleno

      –The Natural History Museum is pretty nice, maybe not exciting if you’re used to the AMNH in New York or the one in D.C., but good. The museum row in Exposition Park, where NHM is located, also hosts the science center (you can see the space shuttle Endeavour), and the California African American Museum. It’s just a block or two from USC, where there are some good places to eat lunch (Lemonade in the student center; Moreton Fig; the Lab).
      –Google “LA Weekly Calendar” for a great listing of goings-on around town. See what’s at the Hollywood Bowl. Do you like theater? Maybe GIRLFRIEND at the Kirk Douglas or BENT at the Mark Taper Forum? The Deaf West production of SPRING AWAKENING was great but I think it’s closed now in preparation for a Broadway transfer.
      –If you like Greco-Roman antiquities, go to the Getty Villa in Malibu (make a parking reservation). Great views and an eclectic collection? The Getty Center. More contemporary art? MoCA. Art museums in general? LACMA. Weird newer stuff? The Hammer Museum. The very strange? Museum of Jurassic Technology. Cars? The Peterson Automotive Museum. Galleries and artists’ studios? Downtown LA and Venice. If you’re here the 2nd Thursday of the month, Downtown LA Art Walk.
      –Like fashion? Santee Alley and the fashion district. The scholarship store and the museum store at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising.
      –A Dodger game is fun. Consider taking Metro to Union Station and the shuttle instead of parking at the stadium, which is a headache.
      –Consider staying in Malibu and going to the beach at Zuma or Leo Carrillo, or even driving up to Ventura or Oxnard–great little beach towns.
      –A day in Pasadena? A visit to the Huntington Museum, Library and Gardens, with lunch in Old Town Pasadena?
      –Hard to give really solid advice on where to stay because LA is so spread out, but the beach sounds nice if it’s not too pricey!
      Have fun!

      1. Sara

        I just saw a video about Deaf West’s Spring Awakening, and it looked amazing! Wish my geography didn’t prevent me from seeing it.

      2. Connie-Lynne

        I don’t recommend art museums in LA if you’re from NY or Chicago; ours are simply not as good as theirs.

        What we do well are gardens — the Huntington, the Arboretum, Descanso Gardens and the El Dorado Nature Center are all worth visits. If you’re down that way, also check out the Carillo Tide Pools.

        Our specialty museums are fun, too: the Petersen Automotive or the museum of Jurassic Tech.

    2. S

      LA native here! Santa Monica’s kinda far from Hollywood… probably a 30-minute drive in light traffic. Dodger Stadium, if you’re going to a baseball game, is even farther out. Definitely 40 minutes at the least. I’d stay in the mid-city area (Culver City, Westwood, etc) which will shave about 10 minutes off your traveling… But if you’re really into the beach, by all means, go for Santa Monica! It’s really nice there and the beach is crowded but lots of fun. Just be aware of your distance from a lot of things you mentioned.

      I went to the Getty Center earlier this evening and forgot how much I love it, so if you’re into art museums and gorgeous views, try and make a stop there. There’s also LACMA, with the famous lamppost art installation out front. La Brea Tar Pits can be fun if you’re into dinosaurs and fossils. The Natural History Museum is fun too, but if you’ve been to others (the Field in Chicago, the Smithsonian one in DC), then you won’t find much that’s new to you there.

    3. Yoshi

      +1 to all of anon Angelenos recommendations. Hollywood Bowl is really a gem- see what’s playing, pack a picnic and enjoy. I also love LACMA/la brea tar pits and grabbing lunch on 3rd street – Joan’s on third and the groce’s farmers market are long time favorites.

      1. Laura Beth

        Awesome, thank you! I definitely am interested in checking out the Hollywood Bowl – I’ve always heard great things.

        1. Yoshi

          Enjoy! The Bowl is one of the best activities in LA. And that’s the farmers market at The Grove, not the groce. It’s filled with food stalls & always a hit when I had out of town guests. The grove ( an outdoor shopping center) is also fun if you want to see something that is always on TV.

      2. Elizabeth West

        OOH YES the LaBrea Tar Pits! They have an excellent museum there as well. I’m a total museum nerd. My ex and I went and it was really interesting and fun.

        Another thing I wanted to see mentioned in Bugs Bunny cartoons—“There are no LaBrea Tar Pits in Scotland!”

        1. Laura Beth

          Yeah, I can’t believe I didn’t think of the Tar Pits! Dinosaurs are awesome. I will definitely put that one on the list!

          1. Elizabeth West

            Well, it’s Ice Age animals, not dinosaurs. Things like saber-toothed cats, dire wolves, and mammoths/mastodons. But it’s still pretty darn cool.

            You can actually see the actual tar pits too. Birds and stuff still get stuck in it sometimes.

    4. Anonymous Educator

      I know you didn’t ask specifically for Disney tips, but…
      * In the morning, get a FastPass for Radiator Springs (California Adventure). Those go very quickly, and the wait for that ride can be up to 120 minutes without a FastPass.
      * Take a nap in the afternoon and then stay at the park (Disneyland) until midnight. Other folks, especially with young kids, get tired by then, and you can easily get on the longer-wait rides with no FastPasses (Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland).
      * If you get a FastPass for a long-wait ride, there are a bunch of good short-wait ones to do in the meantime (Winnie the Pooh, Buzz Lightyear, Monsters Inc., The Little Mermaid).
      * If you find the wait at Toy Story Mania too long, a great time to go is right when the park opens or right when World of Color is about to start.

      For LA in general, definitely hit the Getty (both of them). Stop by Koreatown. There’s a nice little food court in the Koreatown Galleria on Olympic and Western. The La Brea Tar Pits are a very interesting place to visit, and the museum is very similar to a natural history museum. Santa Monica Pier is a nice place to visit… or at least the beach surrounding the pier. A bit pricey, but you may also want to check out the Huntington Gardens, which is beautiful and huge… and contains some small art museums inside… and you can get afternoon tea there (by appointment and for more money, so maybe not, depending on your budget).

      1. Laura Beth

        This is great advice, thank you! Afternoon tea at the gardens sounds awesome, I will check that out!

  49. S

    Er. I had a whole long comment all typed up and either it got put in moderation or the site ate it. Here’s hoping it comes back out eventually…

    Either way, the gist of it was generally in line with what AnonAngeleno said! Just be aware that Santa Monica is kinda far from a lot of the things that you say you want to do, but if you have your heart set on staying there, then you should definitely do so.

    1. Laura Beth

      Thanks! My heart is not set on Santa Monica – I basically was thinking there because the only other time I’ve been in LA (one night of a bachelorette party), that’s the area I stayed in, so I knew the beach was definitely close, hahaha. LA being so spread out is what has me asking for advice – you can drive across the whole downtown of where I live in about 2 minutes. Thanks for giving me the heads up on that!

  50. Caffeinated

    Hi guys, newbie poster but longtime reader here. I am way too addicted to this blog but have a non-work question for pet owners here.

    Does anyone have any good tips about dealing with annoying strange dogs they encounter on walks? One of my neighbors has a toy poodle that constantly barks at and, on at least one occasion, has tried to bite my dog – as in ran up from several meters away and just pounced. The poodle also exhibits varying degrees of the same behavior towards many other dogs for what it’s worth, but the owner dismisses the issue as their dog just “being scared” and meaning no harm.

    Obviously I try to avoid the owner and the dog as much as possible but there aren’t a lot of nice places to walk other than this area (I’m currently working in a developing country).

    I tried to get my dog to sniff butts with the pint-sized perp (saw it on Cesar’s dog show once…) but neither seemed interested. It’s driving me nuts as I’m extremely protective of my dog. //mini rant// I also hate the legions of irresponsible dog owners here who have zero clue on how to socialize their animals, never pick up their dog poop etc//

    Is there anything I can do? bribe the other dog with treats?

    1. Relosa

      I live in LA and like 90% of the dogs I encounter are similar. There really isn’t much you can do, because the behavioral change has to come from within the dog’s pack – the owner really has to be the one to set the standard. If you lived with the dog or puppy-sat him or something you would have the opportunity to introduce correct socialization and such, but otherwise there isn’t much you can do beyond talking to the owner, which it seems as thought hasn’t helped.

      However, so many people in my neighborhood are so impressed with Czar’s behavior – he is polite, walks slack-leash, is submissive and doesn’t instigate anything – some regulars on my walks have asked me about how I trained him. He’s so good at being neutral that the little bully dogs that get loose and chase after him get really confused – he just stands there in his alert stance, neither aggressive nor passive, and watches them for their move. They almost always turn and walk away, totally calm. It’s weird. And it’s also because he’s 80lbs and most of these dogs are like, 10, but still.

      I feel you! So awful to see so many pets not properly cared for like that. It really does a lot of damage to them in the long run.

    2. Girasol

      When cycling I worry about chasing dogs since they could get under my front wheel and kill us both. I go for a growl of my own first – an “I’m going to eat you for lunch” sound – and if that fails aim my water bottle at the animal’s nose. Sugar free lemonade tends to back them off, and I sip it after so the owner can’t object.

    3. This won't be popular, I'm sure

      I’m not sure if this approach jives with your beliefs about how to treat animals, but when I lived and worked in a developing country (where local attitudes towards dogs sound like they’re similar to where you are), most people I knew (expats and local alike) would carry small rocks to throw at/in the general direction of aggressive dogs. I actually found that simply acting like I was going to throw something at a dog was sometimes enough to get it to back off.

      To be clear: I believe animals should be treated kindly and humanely, but given the choice between throwing real/fake projectiles towards an aggressive dog or potentially getting bitten (and then having to be treated for exposure to rabies and other diseases), I picked throwing every time.

    4. Caffeinated

      Thanks for all the replies guys, I really appreciate it. I ended up going out and spending an inordinate amount of money on dog food/treats due to the guilt from our latest poodle episode.

      Relosa – My dog is also known as the well behaved dog around here! He stays pretty calm during all the, I’m just going to call it: evil poodle, encounters. If he was 80lbs I wouldn’t be so worried frankly, but he’s the size of a spaniel. He just kind of chills out while I’m the one getting stressed.

      I think I’d be too embarrassed to attempt a growl Girasol, but the water thing could work…and I do need a new water bottle…

      And thanks last poster. I understand where you’re coming from. Fortunately the situation is not dire enough that there are roaming packs of aggressive dogs, at least in my area but I definitely have been to places in this country when I wouldn’t hesitate to defend myself.

      cheers guys

      1. Relosa

        You’d be surprised how effective the growling is! Once, a dog got loose from his fence and jumped at Czar’s throat – I went mamabear on him! Just look big and intimidating and growl. It’s weird, but it works. The thing is though you have to mean it and be prepared for that dog to turn on you and take you seriously.

        Czar is great because he’s huge and terrifying-looking (he has the ‘liver color’ gene, so his base coat is white with the red/tan colorings, and some parts are speckled black, with yellow eyes) but he is the sweetest, most submissve thing. It’s great beacuse he scares away the bad guys but is a sweetheart to all the regulars. So if we’re walking and he starts growling or barking at someone – I know to trust his judgment, because it’s pretty rare.

        1. Caffeinated

          Oh my god haha…ok I will keep that in mind! Last time we had a poodle run up I ended up waving my arms around and yelling at it in English. Pretty sure a lot of locals were staring at me but what the heck – I’m perfectly willing to look like a crazy woman if it means keeping my dog safe.

          Czar is lucky to have you as the mamma bear! Sounds like a crazy day – I hope it ended peacefully? At least I don’t have to deal with big dogs on a regular basis here. We had a husky lunge at our dog once but thankfully it was leashed. and the owner kept control.

          pets – they really become our fur babies

          1. Relosa

            Pets really do become like babies! If something happens, my first thought is usually for Czar.

            Fortunately the dog didn’t break skin (And Czar defended himself too) and there was no broken skin or anything, but it pissed me off! The dog was fenced in and the owners knew there was a weak spot. They’ve since reinforced the fence but have done nothing about the dog’s behavior. It’s sad because when I see him with the kids and the family, he’s a sweetheart.

            Waving your arms helps – not the same as pretending to throw rocks but it is somethign that will be at least startling enough to them that they’ll run off. Look up videos of alpha wolves growling – that’s the sound you want to mimic. Remember dogs can only speak Dog – so when stuff is lost in translation, speak Dog, not Human :)

  51. Josine

    Hi. I’m looking for books and/or resources about evolution for a friend. She grew up in a very conservative evangelical community which she broke out of a few years ago. Though she no longer belives in the literal interpretation of the Bible (she’s a humanist now), she’s having trouble understanding/beliving in evolution, though she is very interested in learning more.

    Do any of you have suggestions for books and/or resources I can pass on to her? Nothing too heavy, maybe more of an introduction?

    Thanks for all help.

    1. Buu

      Pick up something by David Attinborough? I think he did a series on Darwin himself, so perhaps watching a documentary about his own religious struggles and how he came to the same conclusions might help?

    2. nep

      Perhaps have her read or listen to Richard Dawkins.
      (On another note, might be interesting to watch the film ‘Inherit the Wind’ — just for a look at that debate from a different era.)

      1. Connie-Lynne

        If she comes from an evangelical home and still cares about and loves those people, I wouldn’t recommend Dawkins. He’s actively hostile to religion and a lot of people who would otherwise agree with him find that a turnoff.

        1. Revanche

          TBH all the science folk I know cannot abide Dawkins and consider him a terrible human so on that count alone I’d personally suggest finding a better source. I’m half brain dead from SDCC or I’d come up with a few myself.

          1. nep

            (‘Cannot abide’ — I dig that expression. I love when it suits and I can use it in daily life.)
            Points well taken here. I do find Dawkins interesting and thought-provoking on some of the science stuff, but points well taken, especially for this case.

    3. Cruciatus

      What about a kid’s book? Not because she’s dumb, but it’s how it all started for me (and most of us). I don’t have a specific one in mind though–but you could browse your local library and/or bookstore. But it might help to start building the foundation toward understanding evolution since it’s likely to be more concise. Then as she learns more she could build from there. You would know better how she might take that. But sometimes I like the kid books! I got one about money and savings because I knew it would be shorter and give me just the basic info in simple terms so I could build up understanding from there. Just a thought!

      1. fposte

        I like that idea. I’d suggest Jason Chin’s Island: A Story of the Galapagos–it’s about the Galapagos wildlife and their role in allowing Darwin to create the theory of evolution. It’s beautiful, the art is explanatory (panels and such) as well as attractive, and it’s all of 40 pages long.

        (Much of the random stuff I know comes from reading so much kids’ nonfiction. The books are amazing.)

        1. fposte

          A few others:
          Steve Jenkins’ Life on Earth: The Story of Evolution
          Daniel Loxton’s Evolution

          1. Charlotte Collins

            Or the Cartoon History of the Universe by Larry Gronick (sp?). It does a pretty good job of explaining things with a lot of visuals, references, and humor. (Some of the ideas about Neanderthals are outdated, but my edition is really old, so there might be a newer version with more recent research.)

            Also, if she had The Picture Bible as a kid, it might be a format that she can relate to. (Weirdly, I still have mine and have lent it to people who were raised in non-Judeo-Christian households but have questions about common biblical references.)

    4. Victoria, Please

      This is NOT a serious suggestion for your friend, but if YOU want a great read, heh — The Evolution of Desire, by David Buss.

      And, forgive me, I must disagree with a previous commenter, not Richard Dawkins. He is way too angry these days, not that I blame him.

      1. Monodon monoceros

        I agree on the Richard Dawkins note. Even for me, a biologist who is fairly educated regarding evolution, Dawkins is too militant. For a newbie, i think he would be pretty confusing, and off-putting.

      2. Cath in Canada

        Yeah, Richard Dawkins is not for people at a relatively introductory level.

        I’d recommend the Talk Origins site, which is specifically about countering common creationist distortions of the science of evolution. Much of the site is apparently also available in book form, although I haven’t read that so I can’t vouch for its quality.

    5. Natalie

      There are lots of Christians working in evolutionary biology and related disciplines. You might direct her to David Lack’s book on evolution written for a Christian audience. (Published in the 70s, so some details might be out of date, but the general conception of evolution hasn’t changed.) “Darein’s finches” are actually Lack’s finches, so he knows what he’s talking about, science wise. Others include Francis Collins, Stephen Barr, Charles A Foster, and Carl Sagan.

      1. ThursdaysGeek

        Yeah, I was going to suggest ‘The Language of God’ by Francis Collins. It’s easy for a non-scientist to read, by an author who saw evidence of God while studying DNA. He also found parallels between DNA and evolution — so a scientist who has no problems with evolution, and who is also a Christian.

  52. Renn

    I took an online screenwriting course and, per assignment, pitched three spec ideas for one show. The instructor came back, said he was a casual viewer of the first two seasons, and then suggested instead a standalone episode shaped like one that might have appeared in the first two seasons — basically an episode with a case of the week to be solved. Except my show is now in its fifth season and reviewers all over the Internet have said that for the past three seasons the show has basically abandoned that case-of-the-week episodic approach to become a serial. I want to just give up. I know I need to change my attitude.

    1. fposte

      But it’s just for the course, right, not really something being pitched to producers? So can’t you treat it as a spec script for the first or second season for purposes of the assignment?

      I also think you can push back against the suggestion, even if it’s just for the class, if you think it’s better experience for you to write something other than his idea. “I like the idea, but the show seems to have gone in a different direction, as they talk about here [link] and here [link]; I’d really like to stay current, so instead I’m going to work on a project that picks up the serial plot for an episode.”

    2. AnonAngeleno

      Spec scripts are not for selling. They are for showing that you can write an episode of something that is already established. I think the instructor’s suggestion is good because a standalone will show your command of form. It’s technically more difficult.

    3. katamia

      Oh, I know that feeling. I took a screenwriting course with an instructor who made me ill–literally, I’d start getting sick a few hours before the class each week. He was rude and dismissive and just, to use Carolyn Hax’s terminology, a glassbowl. I honestly don’t know how I got through that course without screaming at him (though I guess it bodes well for future bad bosses that I did, lol).

      You can certainly mention that the show’s direction has changed (I’m super curious about what show it is), but something else to keep in mind is that most of the advice I’ve given for spec scripts is to work with what you have and not change anything significant (no new main characters, no major bombshells, no breaking up of established couples, etc.). That’s significantly easier to do in a case of the week-type show than it is with a serial.

      If you’re really having trouble with this, is it too late to pick a different show? It sounds like you haven’t seen all of the show, and while AnonAngeleno is right that spec scripts are writing samples rather than things to try to sell, a lot can happen in three seasons, and if this is something you do want to try to show people at the end of the day, it could wind up feeling a little outdated. Starting fresh (again, if there’s time) could also help get rid of some of the negative emotions you’re feeling.

      1. Renn

        It’s Suits.

        Amazingly, the Entertainment Weekly recap for the second episode (the new season just started) reads: “Since the second or third season, Suits stopped being about the cases and started concerning itself with office politics. Which was a good thing because he case-of-the-week schtick on lawyer shows can quickly grow old.”

        It’s not worth investing the time to spec this, and certainly not trying to do it in the way the show was in season 1 or 2.

        1. fposte

          It sounds like you and the instructor may have different ideas about what the course is for–is that worth a discussion? This seems a perfectly reasonable learning assignment to me regardless of where the show actually is, but if you’re thinking of the class as a prompt for saleable material, that’s obviously a different matter.

  53. Not My Regular Name

    I want to thank everyone for their comments and support when I posted on the weekend of June 28 about my appointment with the divorce attorney. I think I picked a good attorney. He took time to explain things to me, answered my questions, and was very honest.

    Long story short, it doesn’t look good for the home team. Even though I worked full time, was responsible, paid all the bills, did the housework, yard work, etc. while Mr. Grasshopper dilly dallied around doing what he felt like, gambled, ran up credit card debt, and was basically filling the boat at one end with a 5 gallon bucket while I was bailing in the front with a tea cup, I’m looking at paying him spousal support and alimony. So much so that when I move out, I won’t be able to afford rent and support myself. I did learn he cannot take any of my social security (if I ever get it from the government, that is), but he can take half of my small pension from my first job. You know, the $240/month pension I earned while he was either not working or working part time minimum wage jobs because he refused to improve himself. Oh, and my paltry 401K plan too. Yep. He can claim part of that as well. Again, all from my work while he either did nothing or ran up debt.

    Now I have to make a decision. I either stay and be miserable, or move out and be miserable. I’m leaning toward the latter. I hate being in the same house as him. It’s a tiny house, with only a few rooms, so it’s not like I can go to another end of the house and not interact with him. We don’t even have a marriage, past me paying all the bills and covering his health insurance through my job.

    I’m going to follow my attorney’s advice and see if he will agree to a divorce without going to court and having a bunch of proceedings, as it will just cost us both more money. I at least have the advantage there. He blew through over $60K in the last 2 years, with nothing to show for it, so he would be hard pressed to pay a retainer fee and attorney costs. Plus, if we go to court, I have example after example where he drained the bank account in the middle of the night while he was gambling. And he’ll have to explain where all the money went from the sale of the property he hid from me. Those things could go in my favor with regard to spousal support and alimony.

    Now I have to figure out where I can live, and include my pets, and how to afford it in the long run. Those little off the grid cabins are starting to look pretty good.

    1. fposte

      I’m sorry, Not. That’s depressing news. Did the attorney think the spousal support would be permanent? (I can’t remember how long the marriage was.) Will the ex at least be imputed a wage?

      I’m with leaning toward move out and be miserable too–I think moving out is going to feel like doing something and will lessen the repeated smacks on the bruised place. Maybe roommating would help with the costs; around here you could find a pet-loving grad student (my favorite roommate class) without much trouble, but I don’t know if that’s the case where you are.

      1. Not My Regular Name

        No, my attorney doesn’t think it would be permanent, but could last up to 5 years or so, but – and here’s the thing – there’s no telling what the judge will rule, even with the gambling addiction problem, etc. And I would get “credit” for the money I pay out while he is still on my health insurance at work, but when he’s off it, my payments will go up.

        Rents are ridiculous here due mostly to the natural gas industry. It’s nearly impossible to find a place that’s decent and affordable. I looked at an apartment online, very small, a few rooms $760/month plus utilities, but no pets. Not many places allow even 1 pet, let alone a group. A roommate would help, that’s for sure.

        Unfortunately, I might have to ask my parents if I can move back in. I am over 50! I feel like such a failure.

        1. fposte

          It’s tough to feel knocked back so far at that age (which is also my age). But it’s a lot better than doing it at over 60, and it’s tons better than living in misery until you die. You’ll be all right.

          1. fposte

            Sorry, cut myself off. You’ll be all right. It’ll be difficult, at least for a while, but you can do difficult–you’re doing it now and it’s not in service of anything, and at least this will be in the service of your freedom.

        2. MJ6

          I moved back in with parents for a short bit when I went through a divorce until I found someone to share a house with. Leaving is not a failure. It’s you taking back your power!

    2. Random CPA

      I don’t think you will regret moving out, but I think you will regret more lost time staying in your current situation. I’m sorry you are in such a tough spot.

      As far as living arrangements, you could try to rent a room in someone else’s house. I rented rooms out of my house in college and allowed pets since I had a dog and wanted her to interact with other animals. So you could either look to rent out a room in your house or rent from someone else.

      1. The IT Manager

        I agree. You say your options are: I either stay and be miserable, or move out and be miserable, but I think staying involves unending misery while leaving will leave you miserable now but in a better place later. And TBH I think being poor and struggling still sounds less miserable than staying with your husband.

    3. Dynamic Beige

      It’s better to be alone than wish you were! But I’m sorry the news wasn’t what you wanted to hear. You should see if there’s a divorce support group in your area. Aside from having people who are going through similar challenges, they might be able to offer you some tips — you may even find someone who would be an OK roommate.

    4. Observer

      This is depressing. But, in the long run, you’ll probably be better of, even financially, the sooner you move. The longer you stay together, the more of your assets (things like 401k, etc) he can grab. And, the more in debt he can get you. If you separate, you no longer are responsible of his debts. And, both spousal support and alimony are not forever.

    5. Carrie in Scotland

      I’m really sorry that it wasn’t the best news. I do agree with the posters above though – even though it costs you, you should be able to live your life. I can’t remember how long your marriage is(was?) but surely you’ve done your time. And you never know what might turn up in the future. Be brave, be bold. Take the next step. (I also feel you on the moving with the pets – although I only have one, it’s causing some difficulties trying to find a rental).

    6. Margo

      Echoing the above. So sorry you’re going through this, and I hope things start to look up soon. :(

      Out of curiosity, can I ask what prompted you to decide to leave now? Was the property sale the straw that broke the camel’s back? Of course, if you’d rather not discuss, I totally understand. (Asking as a young-ish unmarried person worried about trusting a future spouse, but also as a future lawyer who would potentially like to work on behalf of people in situations similar to yours someday.)

    7. Lizabeth (call me hop along)

      Has your attorney suggested mediation yet? It was the way I went with the ex-assh@&e and saved us both money. I can honestly say that you will feel much better once you move out and get away from your ex. The difference I felt was amazing and it kept improving from there, as he was a soul sucker.

      The ex can use my earnings as a basis for his social security and there’s nothing I can do about that other than hope nobody tells him about it. He now lives with his mother and has managed to piss off the rest of his family.

      My cousin is dealing with his divorce proceedings and has lucked out that the judge told his wife to find a job ASAP, because she has been refusing to work all these years in hope of getting more alimony. It may hurt your pocketbook but weight it against the peace of mind that you will have sooner rather than later.

    8. Dan

      Sorry I’m late to the party…

      If your marriage is truly over, you need to get out ASAP. Dragging things out just makes it worse. That 5 year alimony will turn into life time support, you’re still going to be miserable…

      Nobody realizes this when they get into a marriage, but getting out is expensive. There’s no shame in moving back in with the ‘rents while you get back on your feet. I paid my ex to go away (saved the hassle of court). On the one one hand, it sucked to pay, but it would have sucked more to pay rent into spots for six months to a year.

  54. Anon for this

    Advice on how to handle difficult conversations with family?

    I am having a planned elopement in the next few weeks. I *should* be excited, but my family is making that pretty hard. Long story short(ish), my mom is very emotionally abusive and manipulative, and a lot of my family members go along with whatever she says. She doesn’t like my fiance, mostly because he doesn’t put up with her crap, and now that I have a witness I am less susceptible to her gaslighting. When I think about her at my wedding I get a feeling of absolute dread. I told her we were eloping and she didn’t care, which was a relief, although also a little disappointing she didn’t want to come in the first place.

    The problem is my sister. I initially asked her to be my maid of honor, and she is very adamant that she be my witness. There is just no possible way to do that. If she comes, fiance’s family will want to come, and if it’s all fiance’s family and just my sister my dad and brothers will be upset, and then suddenly we have 30 people there just with immediate family, and we’re stuck worrying about a bunch of other people on our wedding day which is 100% what we wanted to avoid. I love my sister, but I am struggling with how to tell her that it really isn’t possible for her to come, and dealing with her disappointment. Any advice on how to handle this would be very appreciated. Thank you!

    1. fposte

      That’s a big reason why elopements traditionally aren’t something you tell people about until afterwards; what you really have is a small and very exclusive destination wedding and now you’re telling people they’re not invited. Ouch. There’s no way to do that without hurting people, I fear. Since you’ve told your mother, it’s too late to wait until afterwards on your sister, because it would be even worse to know in advance but not from you. I think you just have to be clear and accept her hurt and disappointment.

      I don’t see why including her would mean your fiancé’s whole family would have to come, though–can’t you and your fiancé each have one person there? Or is that a cover for not really wanting your sister there at all? I therefore wouldn’t go with the “and then all the families would have to be involved” logic because it’s pretty easy to punch a hole in it; I’d stick with the “We decided we needed to do this on our own–no family is going to be involved from either side.”

      Sorry about the complication, but have a joyous wedding day.

      1. Anon for this

        I am definitely regretting telling them, but our priest wanted us to. It wouldn’t have been any better to tell them after the fact, but at least then the damage would be done. I am ambivalent about having my sister there (not a great feeling to have, I know), but it complicates things because if I get to have a family member there and fiance doesn’t, that’s not fair. If he gets to have one family member, the rest of his family will be sad they can’t come. So I already told my sister basically exactly what you suggested, and she is upset about not being able to come and isn’t understanding why. I think I will just have to keep repeating it, and find a neutral witness – maybe a photographer would agree to do it, then it really would be just us, priest, and photographer.

        1. fposte

          I think probably she’s correctly reading it as you not being very excited about having her there, and that’s what’s really upset her. I mean, if you can tell your sister not to come, your fiancé can tell the rest of his family not to come, but you’re choosing not to go that route; that’s probably pretty clear to her. So she is understanding, really; it’s just you’d hoped she’d accept the polite version and not see through to the more complicated family stuff underneath.

          1. Anon for this

            No, we aren’t having ANY family there. My sister wants to be the only family member from either my side or his.

            1. fposte

              I understand that’s the decision you’ve made. What I’m saying is that your reasoning is that your fiancé doesn’t want to tell some family members they can’t come, but you’re already telling family members they can’t come, and the “having one person” thing is a pretty common approach. (Presumably your sister isn’t objecting to your fiancé having somebody; she just wants to come.)

              I mean, I totally agree that it’s your wedding and you should have whoever you please, and I lean toward the no-family approach myself. But it’s not unreasonable for your sister to be hurt, and I think it’s not true that if she understood she wouldn’t be hurt. Can you talk to her about the underlying fears and hurt here? Is she afraid that this means something about a loss of closeness after you get married (or a last chance to have closeness when you’re already drifting away) or about losing you from the family–which, again, might be accurate fears? Your reasons for not wanting family aren’t just about the wedding, of course, and neither are her reasons for her wanting to be there; maybe talking about those other reasons would be useful.

              1. Anon for this

                You’re right, I misread what you were saying. The issue is that my fiance and I don’t think it’s fair to pick family members over each other, and we’d rather have a neutral person to be a witness instead. I know that will hurt her feelings, and I just have to be more comfortable saying no to my family.

                Which really is the underlying issue. My mom is a classic narcissist and I’ve always been the scapegoat, so I have a terrible family dynamic. Upsetting them in any way makes me feel like I am the worst criminal imaginable, and my emotions aren’t valid to them. I love my sister, but she contributes to this dynamic and that’s why I don’t want them there. I may have to just have that conversation, as hard as it’ll be, or else it’ll probably just be punted until the next big life event.

                1. fposte

                  It sounds like, as usual, there are a lot of things going on here–your fiancé isn’t down with the compromise of just having a single person there and maybe you’re relieved a little because you’re not sure you want your sister even on her own, you’re sure you don’t want to have your mother there, you definitely don’t want to be reminded of that family dynamic there, you’re afraid of people being upset with you for trying to avoid that.

                  As I said below, I don’t know if now is the time to start that conversation or not, but I would totally agree that it’s an opportunity for you to accept that you upset these people, that it was okay for you to do so and also okay for them to be upset, and that either they’ll get over it or they’re so into grudges that it justifies your letting them go.

                2. Dynamic Beige

                  I’ve always been the scapegoat, so I have a terrible family dynamic. Upsetting them in any way makes me feel like I am the worst criminal imaginable, and my emotions aren’t valid to them.

                  OK, I missed this bit before and you may not come back to this and reread everything but I hope you do.

                  You are not the worst criminal imaginable. There is nothing wrong with wanting to live your life on your terms — it’s your life! No one can live it for you. I hate to say this, but your emotions *aren’t* valid to them, they’ve been telling you this for years. It’s like Lucy with the football, you want them to love you and approve of you and you think “this time, if I do X, Y and Z, just like this, it’ll happen” then you run at that football and they always. pull. it. away. Then blame you for the fact that you’re lying on the ground hurting because you’re in their way. And either laugh at your pain or are amazed that you are making such a fuss.

                  I want you to really think on something: could you be all right knowing with absolute certainty that you will never win any of their approval? Because if you can, then stop trying to earn it/convert them. It’s easy to make you the scapegoat because then you’re the lightning rod for all problems and that means they don’t have to face their own part. It also means that you can’t share anything big in your life with any of them, just the small stuff then work the conversation back around to them.

                  I’m also going to suggest that you talk to your fiancé and change the date for your wedding/courthouse appointment. I don’t know what kind of plans you’ve made but if inviting only one of your family means they all get their noses out of joint then you can’t invite any of them. What is more important? Their collective displeasure (which is going to happen anyway), or your hurt and pain at not having them be happy for you/ruining this day? No matter how you do it, you know they won’t be happy for you the way you long for them to be. I mean seriously, the best thing would be to get on a flight to Vegas and just do it. “Oh, we decided to get away for the weekend and next thing you know, we got hitched! Aren’t you happy for us? I wish you could have been there, but it just happened so quickly, we got swept up!”

                  Yes, it will require you to be dishonest but in this case, honesty is not going to make things better — it should but it won’t, it will just be more drama. Your sister should understand why you have to withdraw your invitation, but she won’t and it will become just another way that you are the black sheep/screw up of the family who doesn’t care about anyone but herself or whatever it is they tell you to make you feel wrong. It sucks. It is the worst feeling to know that your family will never be supportive of you. But if you can get over that hurdle of needing them to be, you will be free from all that disappointment.

      2. AvonLady Barksdale

        I’m with fposte here. There’s no easy way to uninvite someone. I am all for very small destination weddings with only immediate family, I am all for elopements with only two other people there, but with the benefit of a small, private ceremony comes the need to be clear about what you want and to accept that some people won’t be pleased with that. Most people get it, especially if you or they throw a reception/party at a later date, and if they don’t, well, too bad. The key is to hold firm and not apologize. When someone says, “Oh, where are you getting married??? Can I come?” You say, “We’re doing a really small ceremony– just us, my sister, his best friend.” Done.

        1. Anon for this

          You’re right, and I agree with this except that it would be alright to have my sister there and no other family. His family will be ok if no family is there, but definitely NOT ok if I have a family member there and fiance gets only 1 or none. So I do need to hold firm and keep repeating what we want, which is no family, neutral witness (and probably apologize to my sister too, since I understand our plans are not ideal for her and she is upset not to be there).

    2. Formerly The Office Admin, Now Full Time Job Huntress

      My husband and I technically eloped. We had a big family wedding planned in our home state of CA but wanted to get married in Kansas with the hope that we could use our marriage as leverage to getting him declared an in-state student at his college(spoiler: didn’t work, neither did me working for the county) anyway, my mom and dad were like adament we not get married before our wedding. It was really strange considering we were only planning on getting married 4 to 6 weeks before the wedding.
      So we filed for our marriage license in Kansas and went to the courthouse on a Friday afternoon, paid two court witnesses to witness and it was awesome. It was 4 weeks before our wedding and we didn’t tell anyone we did it for about six months and only then did we tell my parents and a couple friends.
      Moral of the story: this is YOUR marriage. Remember that at the end of the day. Remember too that getting married, is one day out of a lifetime of days together. Do what feels right for you and your soon-to-be spouse.

    3. NicoleK

      Your sister went from being your maid of honor to being disinvited. Yes, it’s reasonable that she’ll be hurt and disappointed. Take her to dinner or somewhere private and explain your reasoning to her. But be prepared that your relationship with your sister may be damaged beyond repair.

      1. Anon for this

        Our relationship is unfortunately already not great. For the last few months my family has been making my life miserable about my wedding, and that is a huge part of why we’re eloping. The mistake I think I made is I have been trying to tiptoe around what is happening – we are eloping, yes, they’re part of that decision, no it’s not negotiable – in the hopes of making it easier for them. In reality it’s just making things worse.

        1. fposte

          Honestly, I think it’s your priest who blew it here. This goes against the basic rule that you don’t bring up an event to people who aren’t invited. That’s why actual eloping, the kind where you go away, get married, and don’t tell people in advance you’re doing it, is reasonably polite and easier to deal with.

          I agree that tiptoeing around it doesn’t help–this is a pretty serious cut, and waving it off makes it seem like it’s not a big deal to the people to whom it’s a big deal. I wouldn’t automatically assume the “they’re part of the decision” thing has to be gotten into right now, though; that’s a big conversation and it’s going to keep happening, and maybe you don’t need that right now. “We’re not having family, we’re not doing it to hurt you, and it’s not changing so I’m not talking about it anymore” and some minimizing of family contact might be enough to see you through the wedding and then give you some space to talk if necessary on the other side.

          1. Anon for this

            This whole thing has been a disaster. I kind of let people pressure me into doing what was expected and was planning a big wedding later this year to make my family happy. One of the first things my mom said when we got engaged was that my family wouldn’t pay for anything, but they have a very long litany of demands they expect me to accommodate. It came to a head a few months ago where several family members said they didn’t want to come to my wedding, and the fiance and I were basically like, let’s stop trying to make these crazy people happy and just elope. Since I’m Catholic, that’s not really an option so we’re doing a planned elopement, and the priest told us we should tell our families because he was worried it was something we were doing to get back at them. If I had to do it over again, I would have never tried to have a traditional wedding and would’ve just done a more typical, less messy elopement.

            1. the gold digger

              I hope this information is not too late, but yes, you can elope at a JP even if you are Catholic. You just need to have the marriage blessed by a priest.

              How do I know this? Because I wanted to elope instead of having a wedding because of my in-laws (and I should have). My (Catholic) mom was OK with an elopement as long as we had the blessing in her presence. The in-laws would not have cared about the blessing as they are atheists and think anyone who believes in God is stupid. (Not all atheists are like that, I know – my friend Jessica is an atheist UU minister.)

          2. Anon for this

            And, I like your script. I am going to write it down and just repeat it verbatim. Thanks for all of your advice!

            1. fposte

              Sure, no problem. And good luck to you! It sounds tough, but I think a lot of what you’re working through is really important for your future, and you’ll be a lot better off for that as well as for marrying somebody who sounds like he’s helping you stand up for yourself.

  55. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec

    PSA: when someone posts on Facebook that their child was killed by a drunk driver, do not reply with “OMG” and the hands-on-sides-of-face-open-mouth emoji.

    It’s hard to know what to say, but not that hard.

  56. CoffeeLover

    I might be a bit late to the game here with this one, but I need some advice for learning a language. I’ve been learning french for a while now and I’m at that weird stage of intermediate. I’m not good enough to comfortably understand movies, but I can definitely communicate and understand French when speaking to someone in person. I feel like the tools out there are either too advanced for me (like watching movies) or too beginner (like Rosetta Stone). Basically, how do you go from intermediate (or advanced-intermediate) to advanced or fluent?

    1. Today's anon

      What always helped me is to read books in the language you are learning. Find something you can read without having to understand each and every word. If that’s too hard, sometimes reading something you have read in English so you already know the storyline. Newspapers are also good for this, usually the language is not too advanced and you can find some overlap with local news so you know the gist of what is being said.

      1. CoffeeLover

        How do you read? I purchased a French book recently and I find there are a handful of words on each page I don’t understand. While I can still get the gist of what’s being said, I’m not sure if I should mark the words I don’t understand and translate them. Should I read the chapter, mark words I don’t understand, go back and translate the words, then read it again? I feel like that might kill the fun of reading. Maybe just translate words I see used frequently or words that are integral in understanding whats being said?

        Newspapers are a great idea, but I’m not sure where to get a physical copy. I live in western Canada, so it shouldn’t be impossible I suppose.

        1. fposte

          Are you sticking to French French or is Quebecois French okay or even desirable? There’s Quebecois news stuff online (I just Googled “Quebec nouvelles” and found both text and video).

          1. CoffeeLover

            I prefer French French because I find it easier to understand (and I think it sounds nicer). I have spent months living and learning French in Quebec though so I’m not too picky. Quebecois news is a good idea for getting national news while also practicing French.

            1. Staringly Anon

              if you’re in Western Canada and have cable there’s a good chance you’ve a handful of French channels too (even if you don’t have cable you may be able to access them online). Half-hour-format shows might be ideal – not as involved as a movie, but still with a significant amount of speaking – or longer shows covering something you’re already familiar with (I find my French gets a lot better during the summery Olympics because the French channels have better equestrian coverage :) )

        2. Today's anon

          If I get the gist of things I usually don’t go back and check on specific words – like you said it kills the joy of reading. I guess I learn the meaning by context (not foolproof I suppose but good enough I think). Eventually there are words that repeat all the time or I get curious enough and so I might look them up. Also, it gets me thinking in that language’s structure.

          I think you can find online versions of newspapers too – the print is getting harder to find.

        3. AdAgencyChick

          The Kindle has really helped me with reading (although for me it’s German, not French). I downloaded two German dictionaries in addition to the English ones it comes with standard, so that I can touch words I don’t understand and have the definition come up. It doesn’t always work perfectly — sometimes I have to exit the book, go into the dictionary, and look up the word, which is a bit of a pain but far better than pre-Kindle days in which I would have had to carry around a book AND a dictionary.

          There are also some print books that are side-by-side foreign-language short stories or novellas and their English translations. The reading level tends to be more intermediate than advanced, as you might guess.

      2. Blue_eyes

        Totally agree with this. You may want to start with children’s books because the language will be a bit simpler and the pictures will help you with comprehension. When I read in a second language I usually circle words that I don’t understand and then stop to look them up every few pages. If a word seems particularly important, and not knowing it is preventing me from understanding, I’ll stop and look it up right away. If it’s a book I own I’ll write the translation of the circled words in the margin.

        1. Blue_eyes

          And I totally agree about reading things you’ve already read in English. After I had taken 2 or 3 terms of Spanish in college I was able to read the first Harry Potter book in Spanish. Since I already knew the plot I was able to focus on understanding the language and I was able to make better guesses about word meanings based on my previous knowledge of the story.

    2. Dynamic Beige

      Is there a Meetup group in your area for French speakers? The best way to do it would be to move to a predominantly French speaking area and just be forced to learn in order to get by. If you can’t afford to take lessons at Berlitz or similar language focused training, then you need to find a group of people who are also interested in learning/practicing. I would also suggest that maybe instead of a movie, why not try a French sitcom or an English one that’s been dubbed into French? Shorter running times!

    3. nep

      In learning or maintaining a language, the most useful thing for me has always been communicating with people in that language. Reach out to find some French speakers (ideally native speakers) and arrange some time with them (a French club or the like). Consistency is key. Bonne chance, bon courage.

    4. fposte

      What about French-language video that isn’t movies–news, how-to videos, etc., where there’s less nuance and opacity and more helpful illustration? I Googled “news in French online” and found a bunch of stuff, including a great BBC roundup of sources (not on the BBC, so they’re not blocked for US users).

      1. CoffeeLover

        That’s a really good suggestion. I’ve tried watching popular French youtubers, but they talk super fast and I can only really get 25% of what they’re saying. I think I could understand more structured speech (like news) a lot better.

        1. Monodon monoceros

          I agree with this. I’m learning Norwegian (very slowly…) and I like to listen to the news. Often I already know some of the big news stories from listening/reading news in English, so it helps me understand the Norwegian news.

        2. Soupspoon McGee

          Youtube does allow you to adjust the video speed, so you can slow it down to an understandable speed :-). Just click on the gear on the bottom right of the video.

    5. Setsuko

      How about watching a film/Tv that you know well and which has been dubbed into French? Works just as well with reading. I used to read kids books, then Harry Potter. Otherwise, maybe meet up with some French speakers. Or go on a trip to France.

    6. Marcela

      Hm. In my experience learning English, the only way to advance is to talk. Of course, reading books, watching movies or tv series and specially “serious tv”, documentaries and news, is going to help a lot in the earlier stages, when trying to build a foundation of vocabulary, idioms and common usage. But for me the definitive test of knowledge is to be able to express myself in the other language. This is where my brain had to use all I learned to construct intelligible sentences and sounds. And once I started doing that, I was improving faster than before.

    7. Cruciatus

      There are online sites where you can get a language partner. I think there are different kinds like writing partner, video partner, etc. but you find someone that wants to learn English and you request they speak French. Google just showed mylanguageexchange dot com. No clue if it’s good or not, but that type of thing is out there.

    8. Steve G

      Well, I went from good to excellent in Czech mostly by watching TV. Fortunately, now about 1/2 of the Czech TV shows you can stream online had the option for closed captioning, so if you couldn’t catch every word, you could read as well as listen, and pause to look up words. I am sure French tv stations have the same thing.

      I don’t think movies and books are the way to go until you’re already very advanced, I found the language to be very high level in many movies, and the sound is usually muffled or too bad or the speech is going on over traffic and music and is hard to hear. Heck, I miss a lot in American movies as well.

      I found TV news the best way to go (and radio news of course as well). On TV news, they use “cleaner” language and annunciate, and there will be video to go along with the words, and they are going to cover more common situations – crime, car accidents, weather, sports, unemployment, elections, etc. At the very least, you’ll understand the weather.

      You could also look up interviews with French celebrities on youtube. Interviews tend to use more common language that movies, and you can pick up language on how to talk about