weekend free-for-all – July 25-26, 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: The Fiddler in the Subway: The Story of the World-Class Violinist Who Played for Handouts. . . And Other Virtuoso Performances by America’s Foremost Feature Writer, by Gene Weingarten. This is a collection of essays by one of my favorite Washington Post writers, including one about the time he had virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell play in the D.C. subway for spare change, to see if anyone would notice his music. (Spoiler: Few people did.) Pretty much every essay in here leaves me with a lump in my throat; he has an incredible talent for finding beauty and profundity everywhere.

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

{ 830 comments… read them below }

  1. SystemsLady*

    Housing update: again nothing, but the owner’s wife got in contact with us! She was very friendly, and it does sound like they aren’t entirely sure what they want to do. She was mostly establishing contact and getting clarifications on our current moving situation, as the real estate agent must have passed the fact that we were in a bind on to them.

    I got the feeling that they are wanting to make some sort of deal with us no matter what they end up deciding, because it doesn’t make much sense for them to contact us otherwise.

    I think I’ve mentioned the previous tenant did quite a lot of cosmetic damage – the walls need chips filled and a fresh coat of paint, the carpet is not in ideal condition, etc. – so having people who’d pay at least some rent throughout improvements might be something they’re interested in.

    It definitely seemed to me like they were considering a later date than our lease end for selling (by at least a couple months), which for various reasons might be better for them anyway. So I’m getting optimistic that things won’t turn out to be so bad after all :). She or her husband will be getting back to us after they talk it over some more.

    1. SystemsLady*

      (Self-check: I realize she’s probably an owner, too, but that was how she referred to herself, so I just kind of went with that)

  2. just laura*

    If you could create a capsule wardrobe from scratch, what are the must-have pieces? (Better yet, where would you buy them from?)

    1. adonday veeah*

      Black pants/skirt, and black jackets/sweaters, then go crazy with colorful, fun tops.

      I’d try on every pair of pants I could, then when I found ones that fit me well, I’d buy them in bulk. Macy’s has some very good basics.

      Keep in mind, I hate to shop, so another option is to find a very good independently owned clothing store, where you can stand in the dressing room and they will hand you things to try on. If they’re good at their job, they can help you mix and match things, and will tell you when something doesn’t look good on you. These types of shops are few and far between, so I can’t help you unless you live in Silicon Valley. (Yum Yum Tree.)

      Good luck!

        1. Adonday Veeah*

          Yum Yum Tree in Los Altos on Main Street. Check it out. I LOVE this store. And though I no longer live in Silicon Valley, I try to make a pilgrimage to Yum Yum once or twice a year. I could spend my entire net worth in there. I just LOVE the clothes. I’ve been shopping there for 20 years or so. I hate the thought that some day, Stephanie, the owner, will someday retire.

    2. Cristina in England*

      I think someone in yesterday’s thread mentioned the blog Vivienne’s Files. She has a “start from scratch” section. Will post a link in a reply.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        LOVE that website! It’s a little fancier than I would dress normally – my job is casual and/or requires a uniform at times, but in general it’s a great start.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Yeah I love the basic principles, especially the colour families. Last year I got rid of all brown and navy things from my wardrobe, including dresses I really loved but I really needed to simplify. Now I have black and grey as my neutrals and red and purple as my accent colours. I get rid of anything I don’t wear all the time. So much easier, and everything goes with everything! (my red and purple items are never worn together, just with the neutrals)

          1. Mallory Janis Ian*

            My neutrals are black (mainly) with a little bit of gray. I don’t wear any brown, khaki, white, or ivory. My accent colors are muted, blue-based, medium-dark jewel tones (blue-green, blue-violet, pinks that are more bluish than coralish . . .) I look good in bluish colors and terrible in yellowish colors, therefore all the blue.

          2. Ariadne Oliver*

            I’m an older woman, and I refuse to join the Red Hat Society, because you are required to wear a red hat with a purple dress or blouse.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        What a great resource! Thanks for sharing. I read through all the “Starting from Scratch” posts last night. I’m not necessarily going to get rid of things I already have, but her approach will definitely inform my future purchases. The one thing I don’t love in her approach is that it doesn’t leave much room for people who love crazy multi-colored patterns (aka, me).

    3. Carrie in Scotland*

      Second the pant/trouser tip. The most annoying thing is finding the perfect fitting jeans (or whatever), wearing them out only to find that they’re discontinued. That said, if you can only afford one perfect fitting jean, keep an eye on sales and see if you can snap up another pair discounted.

    4. Clever Name*

      I think the must-have pieces will vary depending on your style and body type (and not to mention where you live). Many style experts tout turtle necks, trench coats, and button down shirts as must-haves, and I think those items are very preppy New Yorker (mind you, I’ve never been to New York).

      My must have are skinny jeans, straight leg jeans, crew neck sweater, my sweatshirt moto jacket, blouses in colorful prints, grey cardigan and black cardigan.

  3. Samantha*

    I need dinner menu suggestions! I invited my new-ish neighbors over for dinner next weekend. I’m thinking of making a lemon pasta with chicken, goat cheese stuffed peppers, and a spinach salad with strawberries, bacon, red onion, feta and candied pecans (I’ll post links to first two items below in case anyone is interested). I feel like I’m missing something. What else? A vegetable? It’s super hot here, so I’m not looking for anything too heavy.

      1. Jazzy Red*

        Spinach certainly is a veggie! One of my favorites, too, especially in a salad with strawberries.

        Sounds like a very good menu to me.

    1. Kay*

      Anything on smittenkitchen.com!

      With that menu: some kind of bread accompaniment, maybe? Crostini?

      You might also add grilled asparaus or yellow squash to the pasta if you’re looking for more healthy.

    2. Samantha*

      Thanks! I think bread would be a good addition. I have a really delicious yeast roll recipe from my great aunt.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I love upside-down cakes! Caramelized fruit on a cake is a perfect combination – and they’re one of the easiest fancy-looking cakes to make! Every time I make one for guests, I get a lot of oohs and aahs for something that pretty much decorates itself. :)

    3. Blue_eyes*

      Sounds great! Grilled asparagus, summer squash, or sweet corn would make a nice addition if you want another vegetable, but I’m not sure you need it. You’re making me hungry!

    4. anonymous daisy*

      Have you made general inquiry to see if they may have special needs – vegetarian, can’t eat pork, or whatever? You don’t have to know all the details, likes hates spaghetti or anything but just a general picture kind of thing.

        1. Mallory Janis Ian*

          My family is smitten with a spinach salad from the Summer 2015 issue of Cooking Light magazine: spinach with toasted pine-nuts and hearts of palm. I substituted Ken’s Steak House Northern Italian dressing for the homemade dressing, and it is a great-tasting shortcut.

  4. Saro*

    Inspired by a thread last week, what’s your favorite quote from the TV show, IT Crowd? Here’s mine:

    Weird’s all I got Roy! That and my sweet style!

    1. Noah*

      (The computer controlling the bomb-disposal robot has crashed)
      Moss: What kind of operating system does it use?
      Police: Errm.. its Vista!
      Moss: We are going to die!

    2. Cristina in England*

      All I care about is that it is pronounced properly as its creators intended: “It-crowd” not “Eye-Tee crowd”. Even the tv announcers get it wrong here so I have kind of lost hope.

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I posted this already but this made me laugh so hard I nearly cried. It’s in the Fredo episode–Roy is trying to explain to Jen who Fredo is and this happens:

      Roy: Right Moss? Fredo, in the film. He was essentially a pimp.

      Moss: No! He took the ring to Mordor!


    4. Soupspoon McGee*

      No particular quotes, but I loved “Moss and the German,” and the twist at the end. Well, this is the quote I remember:

      German: This is my add.
      Moss and German together: “I want to cook with you . .. ”
      Moss: Ooooh. I understand the confusion. “I want to cook WITH you.” I thought this was a cookery class, and you want cook me and eat me!”
      Both laugh.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        From Blackadder II (but a lot of Blackadder is quotable)

        “To you Baldrick, the Rennaissance was just something that happened to other people”

  5. Masters Degree JD lady*

    My friend just got engaged to a guy she’s been with for 2.5 years, 1 year of which she spent broken up with him because he kicked her out of his apt when she couldn’t find a job last year (and she wasn’t a citizen) so she had to fly back to her homeland. (I know this b/c I met with her last year before she left and she spilled the beans).

    Then, last month, she flew back to her bf when he decided he missed her too much, and now they’re engaged. So technically she’s been with him 1.5 years.

    I’ve been with my SO for 1.5 years roughly. And I’m happy for my friend (90% happy and 10% worried as a friend for her).

    I guess my question is–how do you know when you’re ready to get engaged? And married?

    1. MLT*

      Gut instinct? I got engaged after one month, and married at 6 months. Still married 27 years later.

      1. Dan*

        Ha. I got engaged after a year, married just a couple months after that. Divorce was final 6.5 years after we first met.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I would say in part when you’re ready to think of the person not just as the husband/wife you want, but also as the partner you want, forever — this is the person who will be your life-long partner in finances, house management, where and how you live, possibly raising kids, dealing with family, hanging out, and life in general. I feel like sometimes people love someone and get along well in a lot of ways but aren’t always suited to partnership in those areas. And life is long, and it will end up mattering.

      1. Dan*

        Yeah. one thing I realized (too late) into my first marriage is that I didn’t have a *partner*. Popular culture in the US presents marriage as this “fall in love and live happily ever after” kind of thing, but the reality is much different than that.

        At the end of the day, when the lust and all of that wears off, is this a person whose company you even enjoy? Do you still want to do platonic things with them?

        I hear stories of couples where (for example) one is a foodie, and the other isn’t. Or one likes to travel and the other doesn’t. While we all get to make our own decisions about what works for us, those are two areas that I can’t compromise on. How do people manage in a marriage when there are significant parts of it that they will never be able to share with their partner?

        1. Blue_eyes*

          So true. I love cooking and cooking for people that I love. While my husband doesn’t enjoy cooking, he does appreciate and compliment the food I make for us. I don’t think I could be married to someone who was a picky eater because cooking is one of the major ways that I like to express my love for someone. Food is a particularly hard one I think because for me (and I think for a lot of people) sharing meals is a huge part of being a family.

          1. PhyllisB*

            +1000 about food. I actually broke up with a couple of guys who were super-picky eaters. That wasn’t the ONLY reason, but it didn’t hurt. Another thing is, how do they treat their family? (How does a guy treat his mother? What kind of relationship does a woman have with her dad? Do the siblings get along?) This may sound lame, but trust me, if you are contemplating a future with someone with food issues/family issues you are in for a challenge. Food because that shows whether they’re open to new experiences, and because it’s a pain to try to please a super-picky person. Family issues because, well the way someone treats their family is an indication of how they will treat you. I realize not everyone is the Brady Bunch, but if someone doesn’t have respect for their family members they probably won’t have respect for you, either. Getting off soap box now, just sharing experience that my daughters chose to ignore and they wished they had listened to now. I know not everyone thinks this way, just my two cents’ worth.

            1. Natalie*

              Really depends on the family, IMO. If someone has a terrible parent I wouldn’t expect them to respect them beyond the basic human respect everyone is entitled to.

              1. Dan*

                Yeah… I’d hate to be judged on that merit, and I’ve heard that old wive’s tale.

                My mother is a narcissist, I speak to her as little as possible. I don’t have respect for her. I would hate for a future SO to project that on to themselves.

                1. Blue Anne*

                  Agreed, Dan, for very similar reasons. I think that my SO was actually concerned about how little regard I seemed to hold my mother in until he actually met her and understood – yes, she really does have a personality disorder. Now he thinks I give her too *much* credit.

            2. Rose*

              Willingness to learn is important, too. I was a super-picky eater growing up (just by virtue of growing up in a traditional lower-middle-class family with older parents, where packaged food and fast food were the norm and nobody ever piqued my interest in different kinds of food), but when I met my husband he really broadened my horizons and I started to eat everything. Now I cook nice meals even when he’s out, and just yesterday I picked up a bag of strange animal parts from the farmer’s market to cook with. People can change!

              But…they don’t have to! One of my best friends is married to a lovely lady who is an extremely picky eater about stuff that would never have occurred to even my formerly-picky self. He’s still an adventurous cook and eater, she is able to come up with her own workarounds, and they are happy and harmonious. Our two families live across the country from each other, but we save up our time off and our money so we can make regular visits to share food together.

              1. Honeybee*

                Yes, one of the things I have done with my husband (a picky eater) is slowly introduced him to new foods. He tries them in part because he loves me and he knows that my cooking is an expression of love, but also because he knows I would never deliberately make something he’d hate. It’s also led him to trying new things at restaurants, and I’ve been really amazed at how much he’s branched out (for my graduation we ate at a Haitian restaurant with some friends, which is something my husband would’ve never done 2-3 years ago).

            3. I'm an astronaut's wife and this is a matter of national security!*

              > super picky eaters

              There are any number of things that people outside of the relationship might consider “trivial” that can quickly become real problems over time. Case in point: my first wife had serious, serious issues with being on time. It was not just that she was occasionally late to an appointment. She was late for everything: leaving to go to work in the morning. Picking me up at the train station. I missed a friend’s wedding because she was late getting ready.

              Over time, I became aware that this all stemmed from (not sure I’m putting this correctly) “control issues”. It wasn’t just me – anyone in her life had to learn to deal with waiting for her as she’d suffer some random (and often, later, I determined) non-real delay. She was very, very manipulative, and it literally took me years to understand what was going on. I didn’t know that people did stuff like that!

              So: trivial irritations: don’t be quick to write them off.

              1. Not So NewReader*

                Oh my, how true, if you have not seen it before it catches you off guard to find out just how controlling this behavior is. I had a family member that was late for every.single. thing. all the time. If anyone tried to explain that it is important to be on time, family member would react with total shock. Now this is a person with a master’s degree. I always wondered how this person got their degree with their total inability to arrive anywhere on time.

          2. Honeybee*

            I love to cook and food is one of the major ways I express my love for others, too. And my husband is a picky eater. I love to find ways to cook for him that don’t use any ingredients he doesn’t like and still taste good. (It’s not hard, most of the time). And making sure we go to restaurants where I know he can find something he likes on the menu is also an expression of love from me. When I want to eat something off-the-wall he won’t like – I’m one of those “I’ll try anything once” types of people – I either go alone or go with some foodie friends.

        2. A Dispatcher*

          Totally agree. I always read your posts on these topics (food, travel, dating) and feel like I wish I knew someone like that in my own life. I hope that doesn’t come across as creepy. I’m just so passionate about food and travel and it’s hard to meet other people who are and/or who have the resources and vacation time available to do the things I’d want to do.

          1. Dan*

            See above, I’m trying to find that person in my own life too, and I *might* just be in luck. I get a month of paid leave every year, plus I have flex time. I’ve gone out with a few people who work odd hours (generally retail) and I always wonder, do they actually have the time for me and the vacation time to do what I want to do? While one girl had a traditional hours gig, she was always “so busy.” I’d be like, hey wanna catch the ball game next Wednesday? She’d be like, “Call me Tuesday.” That one didn’t last long.

            I’m glad you find my commentary thoughtful… it didn’t exactly come without some tough experiences of my own.

        3. Today's Satan*

          Boyfriend ties flies, goes fly-fishing, and keeps a vegetable garden on some acreage a friend of ours has. I want nothing to do with any of those hobbies. I enjoy seeing him enjoy himself, and I enjoy hearing his stories about things I had no involvement in. I also enjoy my alone time while he’s occupied with his hobbies. I can’t imagine being in a relationship where we never did significant things apart. Seems like we’d run out of things to talk about and share. When we met, we each had separate lives and I enjoyed learning about his. It made him an interesting person to me. By having huge things we do separately, that “hey, you’re an interesting person in your own right” stays there for us.

          Obviously, every relationship is different and my appreciation for doing significant things apart from my S.O. might be a death-knell if I was with a different person. (Which would be a good thing, because we wouldn’t be fundamentally compatible. :-) )

          1. Dan*

            I hope my comments weren’t easily construed as suggesting that SO’s should be tied at the hip 24/7, or otherwise must have any hobby/interest in common. I’ve got hobbies that I don’t care if my SO participates in, and in fact, prefer they don’t, such as my poker games. One girl I’m seeing right now is a big wine snob, and I’m a big beer snob. I’m more than happy to share a bottle of wine for dinner that she picks out, but guess what? I’m gonna run off with my beer drinking buddies every so often and not think twice about it.

            Some activities end up on the “must share with the SO list” and others don’t. Each couple has to decide for themselves what activities fall where. I tend to take a month off and travel overseas every year; it would be awkward as hell if my SO wouldn’t leave the US. Sure, alone time is great, but then I’d have no vacation time left to spend with her. Then I’d have to cut my overseas time back, and I’d be resentful that she wouldn’t leave the US.

            1. Today's Satan*

              Oh, sure, each couple has it’s own boundaries that are deal-breakers to that particular couple.

            2. Lindsay J*

              I think a lot of it is being able to respect the other person’s hobbies, even if they weren’t something they would personally take part in, (and also being able to respect that the other partner doesn’t necessarily share your hobby).

              And yeah, obviously there are some situations where being able to share the hobby is better or necessary for the health of the relationship.

              My current guy travels internationally a lot more than I do because I don’t have the funds for it. However, he goes on the weekends and I see him during the week, and he enjoys solo travel so it works. It’s also not every weekend, and the weekends he’s not away we spend time together.

              On the other hand, if say he loved rockclimbing and spent all his time off of work doing it, and I had no interest in it, his choices would be to spend less time doing something he loved in order to see me, or not seeing me at all. And that doesn’t work.

          2. Rose*

            Random aside: I accidentally misread “hobbies” as “hobbits”, and then I was like “let’s just go with it” and read every iteration as “hobbits”. It turns this into a very different discussion. :-P

          3. Lindsay J*

            I think the desire to do everything together (or not) is an important compatibility factor.

            I’m in the “Not doing everything together” camp. I feel like it’s important to maintain a separate identity and sense of self outside of my SO, and I don’t feel like that’s possible if you’re always doing things together. Plus, both people doing interesting things separately means you have twice as many things to talk about. Current guy I’m seeing spent the last two weekends in Copenhagen and Seattle respectively, while I just spent the day on the in Florida, and I’m eager for the next time I see him to hear about what he did.

            However, I feel like we’re in the minority and a lot of couples can’t fathom the idea of doing things apart (anything, never mind significant things). My ex was like this. Except he didn’t have any hobbies outside of the house so for him that meant things like always coming with him to go to the grocery store or driving with him to job interviews so I could sit in the car and wait around with him. There was never anything to talk about because I was there for every little thing that happened in his life (and he was disinterested in politics or anything else we could have potentially discussed as well.)

            I spend a lot of time on Reddit and I’m amazed at some of the posts that I see sometimes. One guy from Europe had the opportunity to take a summer internship in the States, and before the internship started he and the other interns wanted to take a week to do a road trip to get to know eachother and see some major landmarks and stuff). His girlfriend was flipping out and forbidding him from going. I was all for him going – it sounded like it was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him to get ahead in his career, make some personal connections that would likely help him in his career, and just generally learn and grow and have fun. However, to my surprise, a majority of the commenters took the girlfriend’s side and said that it was absolutely something that they were not comfortable with and that it would be dealbreaker for the if their boyfriend did something similar.

            It would absolutely be a dealbreaker for me if someone tried to take an opportunity like that away from me, or guilt tripped or made me feel shitty about going.

        4. Num Lock*

          I was a picky eater as a child because I was always feeling sick… and grew up to discover I have numerous food intolerances. :( There are a lot of things I’m not willing to try because it’s not worth the day or two of pain later, and a lot of people without food issues just don’t get it. Maybe this dish is very tasty and delicious, but I don’t want to spend the next 48 hours expelling it from every orifice because someone forget they used chicken stock! I think being partnered with a foodie would be a living hell for both of us. I can’t imagine asking a foodie to give up chicken, wheat/gluten, garlic/onions and food dyes for me. Nor could I expect us to be cooking two different meals all the time like roommates. It’s pretty much a non-starter for me.

          So I’m looking for a picky eater who shares at least a few common food issues. IBS sufferers welcome. If you like to spend your weekends in PJs with a purring cat and some video games safe in the a/c, call me baby.

          1. Stephanie*

            Yeah, I realized I was lactose intolerant when I was like 22 and unrealized lactose intolerance was probably why I disliked creamy foods all these years.

      2. StillHealing*

        This..what Alison wrote. Do you see yourself growing old with the person? We get baggy, saggy and our bodies and minds age – do you see yourself living and loving this person through all these changes in life? (However this is still not a predictor of if it will last, I’m sorry to say)

        Personally, I wouldn’t get engaged to or marry someone who kicked me out because I didn’t have a job. Whether I was a freeloader (not saying your friend was) or if I fell on hard times and couldn’t get a job. Either way – you don’t give someone like that a second chance. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. (My therapist always says this)

        1. Dan*

          Your point is well taken, but take it from someone with significant experience in this area: Someone’s mind changing is very different than their body changing. There’s no way to predict that you’ll be wanting to love and live with a person whose mind is quite different from the day you met and fell in love. Taken to an extreme, would you want to live with someone who can’t remember your name because they have alzheimers?

          1. Honeybee*

            …maybe? It depends on the other features of that person with Alzheimer’s. I love my mother and she sacrificed a lot in her life to take care of me; I would try to take care of her as long as possible even if she couldn’t remember my name.

          2. Lindsay J*

            I’m nitpicking here, but part of wanting to be with someone forever is accepting that they might one day develop Alzheimer’s, and that you’ll still do your best to love and support them throughout. I can’t imagine getting to be 70 or 80 and leaving someone or having someone leave me because they developed it (though the nature of your relationship would obviously change as the condition worsened). That’s part of the whole, “In sickness or in health” thing.

            Though I agree with your main point otherwise. I would stay with a partner if they got fat or lost their hair or whatever. I wouldn’t stay with them if they became bigoted or otherwise developed views that I found abhorrent.

            And especially if you get together young, a lot of personality aspects and decisions about life choices change over time. I don’t want children. I’ve known this from my early teens and I’m nearing 30 and it shows no signs of changing. If I got together with someone now who didn’t want kids, but who in a year or so decided that they did want kids it would likely be a dealbreaker for me. (Just like it would likely be a dealbreaker if I got together now withe someone who is childfree and then I changed my mind in a couple years.)

            And even not so extreme. But I was with someone for 8 years through my late teens and early 20s. And though there were major issues throughout the relationship, it occurred to me that by the end of it we had both grown and changed so much that even barring the major issues that we had become two people who just weren’t compatible by the end.

      3. Cath in Canada*

        The moment I knew I had a keeper was on a rainy weekend when we were playing cards in my living room. He said something silly and funny, and I laughed, and I suddenly just *knew* that I would be very happy to find myself playing cards with this guy on a rainy day 40 years from now.

        I can’t remember what it was that he said, and that kills me! But the moment was really more important. That was pretty early on – within the first year – and it took about another 8 months for us to move in together, another year or so to get engaged, and another 18 months after that before we actually got married. But by then it was just a formality :) I decided to renew my initial Canadian work permit on that rainy day!

        1. Dan*

          I’ve been out on a few dates with someone who has long term potential. One thing I’ve noticed is that I can plan just about anything for a date, and she’ll go along and even enjoy it. Take that to a bit of an extreme, and you realize that on a random rainy, you can find just about anything that the two of you will enjoy.

      4. Pinky*

        This! You need to be a team! We were engaged after a year, celebrating 20 years of marriage in August!!

      5. Honeybee*

        Yes, this is when I knew that I wanted to marry my husband. We had such similar and compatible views on establishing a household and raising children, and we had similar preferences in those areas, too – about when and whether to have kids, about how much money we should spend on household purchases, on how to structure our finances, etc. The love needs to be there as a base, of course, but what really makes us work is how we can lean on each other as partners in life.

      6. I'm an astronaut's wife and this is a matter of national security!*

        The entire “marriage as partnership” concept is really, really spot-on, and it was one of the guiding principles in my 2nd marriage (which has its ups and downs but it’s still happening).

        Re the question of “how long to wait?”, I’m pragmatically inclined to say “give the relationship enough time that you can really explore the “partner” aspects together. Because it’s easy enough to *say* “of course I’ll be there for you when the swimming pool is empty!”, but you really want to experience some of this stuff under live fire circumstances. I don’t mean go out and make trouble; life will naturally provide you with all of the trouble you need. But stuff like “Honey, can you come bail me out of jail?” or “I’m checked into the hospital, room 234” or you go on a vacation where *everything* goes wrong. At some point after, it’s worthwhile to think about how you both handled things. After you deal with a number of these kinds of situations, you’ll develop a sense of whether or not you’ll make a good partnership.

    3. Kay*

      I think Alison’s partnership answer is really crucial. There are a lot of practical things that play into it, and the question of forever. Love isn’t enough. Can you have difficult conversations and arrive at compromises? Can you see yourself working together toward something, instead of side by side?

      I got engaged last year after 5 years of dating, and the wedding is in two more months. I’ll be honest – I really struggled with the partnership questions. It’s such a highly individual thing, though, and the answer that you arrive at for yourself and for your partner is not one that would satisfy anyone else. It’s what you ultimately decide and then commit to.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        This. “Love is not an emotion, it’s a commitment.” I have found that statement helpful in the past. Partners have to be able to talk to each other. It’s not a matter of “IF” problems happen, nooo, problems WILL happen. Then what do the two of you do? Are you running toward each other or are you running away from each other?

        There were a few times where I stood beside my husband scared absolutely crapless. And he did the same thing for me. This takes a mix of guts, blind faith, numbness and caring. Heck, it takes commitment just to get through the emotional stuff going on inside our own minds. But this has to be a reciprocal thing- if one partner is fully committed and the other is not then that may not work out.

    4. CoffeeLover*

      Agreeing with what others have said. I’ve been with my SO for roughly 1.5years as well. We are planning to get married next year (we’re not officially engaged, but we’re also not going the traditional wedding route). We discussed and agreed we would get married about a year into the relationship. We’re probably going to get married a lot sooner than expected due to immigration reasons (which might be happening to your friend as well).

      For me, it was about realizing I wanted to get old with this person through the good and the bad. It was realizing that I trusted him to raise my kids, to be financially responsible, to make decisions that are right for both of us, etc. I have a deep love for him of course, but love alone isn’t the reason I want to marry him. He is as much my best friend as he is my lover; he is family in the best sense of the word. I will add that I lived with him for a year. I think living with someone is really key in making an informed decision.

    5. blackcat*

      I knew I wanted to marry my husband within a month of meeting him. I knew that I loved him, I knew I wanted to be with him for the rest of my life.

      It was four years until I knew I should marry him. In the intervening time, we worked through being good partners to each other. We talked through parenting philosophy, and how to balance career and wanting a family (and how we’d respond if those things shift). So it was a while before we were both confident that we could share our lives. There was also some growing up to do–we were 18 & 21 when we met.

      For us, we only got engaged when we decided it was time to plan a wedding and were engaged for 10 months. Some folks get engaged when they know they want to get married at some point. Different things work for different people in that regard.

      1. Blue_eyes*

        You sound kind of like me and my husband. We were 19 and 21 when we met and started dating. We both knew after a few months that we were going to be together for a long time, but we waited another 3ish years before getting engaged and then had a 2+ year engagement.

    6. S*

      Two friends of mine got engaged after 10+ years. I think they were ready long beforehand, but decided that it was finally the right time. It really depends on the couple–sometimes you just know and you’re ready, and sometimes you know but the circumstances and timing aren’t in your favor.

    7. YandO*

      For me it was not about marriage but about changing my thinking from “I make decisions for myself, completely independently from my boyfriend” to “We make decisions together for us as a couple”

      Once I realized I was ready to allow another human being, my boyfriend, into my decision-making processes, I knew I was ready to make a lifelong commitment. That was 3 years ago. In total, we have been together 8+ and we are still not married. However, there is a huge difference in our relationship before and after that realization/decision. We are a partnership through and through. Marriage is just a formality to us, which is legally very important and we will definitely get around to it eventually.

      My additional thought is that this does not work for everyone. I think every person has their own A-ha moment. I’ve always had a very strong independent streak and it was crucial to me to be able to make decisions that are best for me without introducing love/relationship/commitment into it. I found a guy who was willing to give me the space and the freedom to do that. Only after I moved away, learned to live on my own, and felt confident in my ability to make decisions was I able to recognize it was time to unite our lives.

    8. BRR*

      It just sort of happened. I knew I wanted to be with him forever but wasn’t ready at the time to be engaged. The marriage was sort of best time available as my inlaws are farmers haha.

        1. BRR*

          It was basically like hey we got engaged in January, their best time off is December or January and they live 10 hours away so they can’t just sneak away, it snows more in January and everybody is traveling, and we’d benefit tax wise from getting married in 2014, December it is.

          I know I know, we need to tone down the romance.

    9. fposte*

      On a side note, wouldn’t she have had to leave because of her visa anyway? It’s possible this isn’t just about him being mean.

    10. Cristina in England*

      The red flag I have for her is that she flew back when *he* decided he missed her too much. On the other hand, going through a difficult time like that, and more importantly, resolving it constructively together, can be a real indicator that a marriage would work.
      I think the questions I would ask someone who was wondering if they were ready would be: how do you solve problems and resolve conflicts together? Do you want the same things out of life? Do you have the same values where it counts and can respectfully disagree where it doesn’t?

    11. Elizabeth West*

      My parents met at 19 and 27 and married three months later–they celebrated their 50th last July. My sister and her husband were together for a year before they married. My brother met his second wife (the first was a teenage marriage due to a baby and it didn’t last a year) through her father and they married three months later. That baby now has two babies with his wife and they got married just recently (their kids are still under five). All these people are still together. But I myself have no idea.

      I used to want to do it in order: meet someone, date him for whatever, get married, have two children and a dog and a cat, and a nice house with an upstairs. Now I’m trying not to think about it because I have just about given up hope that I will ever even have a date with anyone ever again, let alone a baby.

      1. Dan*


        Take this advice from the single divorced people in the room: You’re far, far better off single than you are in a shitty relationship. Please please please trust me on this one. Getting married and all of that jazz isn’t a box on the checklist of life that you mark off, it’s about finding a partner that’s compatible with you and meets your needs in the long term. It’s a lot more than just finding “somebody.” The distinction may sound subtle, but it’s extremely meaningful. Check a box for the sake of it, don’t kick the tires hard enough, and you’ll find yourself in a world of hurt. People who got married within a year of meeting each other and are happily married 20 years down the road got friggin’ lucky.

        It’s easy as hell to get married — $50 and a trip to the courthouse or whatever your state does. Undoing a marriage is a giant humongous pain in the ass. For as difficult as a divorce is, it should be much harder to get into that mess in the first place.

        This isn’t patronizing advice coming from a coupled-up person telling you that “don’t worry, you’ll find someone when you least expect it.” And I’ve got friends in their 50’s who wanted kids, but got together to late to make that happen.

        Will I get married again? Maybe, maybe not. At the moment, it’s better for me to just live life and enjoy it. If I never get married again, it’s not going to break my heart.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I appreciate your concern, Dan, but yeah, it does sound patronizing. I’m not stupid. I’m not some teenage Juliet. I know this. If I thought this way, I would have just grabbed anybody and done it a long time ago.
          I know it’s not perfect. Nothing is perfect, just like there is no such thing as a dream job. There is nothing wrong with my desire to share my life with another person and have a family. It doesn’t mean I’m about to “settle” for anything, or that I’m looking to check off a box.

          But don’t worry; I’ll just keep my thoughts and feelings on the subject to myself from now on.

          1. scarydogmother*

            “It’s better to be single than to be in a bad relationship.” Yeah, no kidding, right!? We unhappily single people don’t want bad relationships (or else we could easily couple up); we want happy relationships.

        2. Merry and Bright*

          Why does the advice of the single divorced outweigh the experience of people who are married and happy? Some people are happy, some aren’t. Some are married, some aren’t. It’s perfectly possible to want to share your life with someone without seeing marriage as an item on a bucket list. I get that you are still bitter but there’s no need to be so condescending.

          1. Dan*

            It doesn’t. It’s the complement message to a societal message that values coupled up people over singledom. The truth is, getting coupled up isn’t the instant ticket to happiness that popular culture makes it out to be.

            You think I’m still bitter? Oh hell no. I’m having the time of my life right now, and enjoying every minute of it. It may lead somewhere, it may not. If I were bitter, I couldn’t have this much fun, because I’d be no fun to be around.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              The truth is, getting coupled up isn’t the instant ticket to happiness that popular culture makes it out to be.

              Your reply to my comment seems to imply that I think it is. And I know that’s not true, because I’m an adult with more experience than you know about. You also assume that I would settle for a shitty relationship just to be married. Nope, I think I’ve finally reached a point in my life where that wouldn’t happen. As I said, I’m not a teenager–that’s something teenagers do. They focus on the wedding and fail to think about the actual relationship. I was the same way when I was a teenager. But then I grew up.

              Just because my family members have gotten married quickly doesn’t mean that their relationships are shitty either. None of them is perfect, but what they have seems to work for them (so far). If it doesn’t, they appear to have made their peace with it. Maybe it just runs in my family that we have the smarts to recognize a good thing (that’s good for us as well) when we see it. I just haven’t seen it yet.

              I’m glad you’re not bitter. I hope that while you’re having fun you’re considering the needs and desires of whoever you’re having it with and being up front with them about your intentions or lack thereof. It’s kinder to break off with someone if you know what they want isn’t aligned with what you want (or don’t).

    12. Jader*

      I just knew I guess. About three months in I told my friends he was the one (and I was only 19). I’ve never asked him how he knew, but he had dated someone for 2 years prior to me and they had considered getting engaged, but then instead they separated. He had a rule about waiting for two years before considering getting engaged (because of that past relationship). We got engaged after a year and a half, although we had been living together for over a year by that point, and married six months later.

      I agree with what Alison said about having a partner. I knew partially because unlike anyone before him he meets me halfway on everything. We balance out the worst in each other and encourage the best.

    13. Elkay*

      We were together 4 years before we moved in together (a lot of that was due to circumstance/location) and once we started living together it was like a switch flipped and I was like “Want to get married now please”, we’d been living together just over a year when we got married. When we went to see the registrar to do the paperwork she said that she thought the most important thing about marriage was to enjoy each other’s company and that’s definitely true of us but we’re a slight oddity in that we’ve been together since we were relatively young so we’ve definitely turned into adults together.

    14. Rose*

      My husband and I definitely were a little different than most stories I’ve heard. We were so against long-distance relationships (we started out with 1000 miles between us) that we almost didn’t get together, and when we did we agreed that we might as well just get married one day–basically we said that if we were going to commit to this, it might as well be the last stop on the relationship train. :-)

      This sounds like it’s going to lead to “…and then we got married a month later”, but since we pretty much already acted like we were married, we didn’t feel the need to put on ceremonies right away. We ended up coexisting happily together for five years (3 years of it long-distance) before getting engaged/married. We’ve been together for exactly seven years today!

      1. Lindsay J*

        This sounds kind of like my cousin’s marriage in a way. I found a lot of comfort in his wedding recepton because I’ve always been in the camp of, “If you love someone you’ll jump to do anything to be with them, no matter what.”

        Well, pretty much every speech at his wedding mentioned about how, when he was getting ready to move cross-country, he was so conflicted about what to do about his relationship. That he and his bride had talked about how it was the end and that it sucked but there was nothing they could do about it at that point in time. About how he had gone to everyone he knew and asked if ending it was the right thing. And about how they decided to stay together despite the whole distance thing and how things ultimately worked out in the end.

    15. Lisa M*

      We were together 8+ years, bought a house, had pets (no interest in children), had some tough times. I knew he wanted to get married, but I’d been married and divorced before and couldn’t be convinced it would be ‘worth it.’ I didn’t want to be with anyone else, I just didn’t think making a special commitment was necessary.
      Then I got cancer. Lost a breast (def. no kids now), lost my hair, got fat, needed care. And all throughout he was awesome and just what *I* needed (he’s not to everyone’s taste, but that’s just as well. ). And I realized that if he’s already seen me ‘for worse’ things really can only get better.
      So we got married, and its been better even than I thought it might.

  6. Anonymous for this*

    So I’m posting this mostly because I just need to whine/worry to someone other than my husband about this.

    We’ve been trying to get pregnant for seven months now. I know that’s not super long in the scheme of things and that a healthy couple might take up to a year, but I’m starting to get really drained from the constant cycle of getting my hopes up then dashed every month. I’m planning to set up a meeting with a fertility specialist in the next couple of months if needed, but we wouldn’t really be able to afford any of the fertility treatments right now anyway, if it comes to that.

    Any readers out there have similar issues when trying to conceive? I guess I’m hoping someone has a great success story about trying to get pregnant for seven months and it finally happening on the eighth month. Anyone? :)

    1. Jazzy Red*

      There’s no scientific evidence that this method works, but when my Mom’s sister got married, they wanted to start a family, too. Nothing happened for about a year. Then one day Mom gave Auntie a picture of a baby from a magazine, and told her to put it up over their bed. Auntie did, and she got pregnant almost immediately.

      I hope that you will be blessed with a baby soon.

    2. Revanche*

      I have a lot of friends who have tried for months and years unsuccessfully. For the ones who didn’t seek fertility treatment, even after 15 or so months, I noticed that it happened for them after they actively made decisions to let go of major stressors in their lives whether it was removing themselves from toxic relationships or environments, and took steps to make that happen.

      Please treat yourself kindly and I hope for the best for you!

    3. Samantha*

      I don’t have a great success story…yet. I’ve had miscarriages in addition to trouble conceiving. I’ve gotten pregnant once naturally (almost two years ago now) and the other two pregnancies were a result of IUIs. Statistically, I think it’s 85% of women will get pregnant within one year of trying. A lot of specialists won’t even see you until you’ve tried a year. We ended up spending a LOT on various tests to see what’s going on (not covered by our insurance, ugh) but to is was totally worth it to know that neither of us have any genetic issues or chromosomal abnormalities. Re: fertility treatments – there are a lot of things they can try before you get to the point of considering IVF, and those things generally are a lot more affordable. Good luck!

      1. Honeybee*

        Yes, 85% in one year, and I think it goes up to something like 90-95% after 18 months.

    4. A*

      It took us a year and we got pregnant in lucky month #13 with our first child. No medical intervention. Second child we got pregnant the first month trying.

      If you haven’t had an appointment with your OBGYN lately, I’d schedule one so you can talk about pre-conception stuff. My OBGYN suggested I might have better luck if I lost about 10 pounds. I’m not sure if it helped at all, but I did & was successful. She was also willing to order a semen analysis for my husband after 6 months of TTC. She said it was just as likely that if something was wrong, it was with him, and it is much less invasive to test the male factors. Everything came out good on that.

      1. A*

        I should add I was relatively young with our first child–26 when we started trying and 27 when we were successful (28 when I delivered).

    5. Cristina in England*

      I hope you get pregnant soon. I would recommend the What to Expect fertility tracker app, I found it really useful.
      You should also find some support on the TTC forums on community.babycenter.com (there is more than one TTC forum but searching for TTC should bring them up). There is a forum for people who are doing fertility treatments too. Good luck!!

    6. saro*

      There are plenty of people who got pregnant after a year or so – so hopefully you have nothing to worry about. What I found helpful when I was trying to conceive was to read the book, ‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility.’ Some of the stuff is hokum but tracking your fertility signs is not. My RE did not take it seriously but did when I supplemented my fertility tracking (daily temperature taking) with those ovulation test strips. Those ovulation and pregnancy strips are way cheaper online by the way.

      Good luck!

    7. Neruda*

      My husband and I are in our third month of trying to conceive. I just wanted to put it out there that one of the things I have found (not sure what word to use here- frustrating? Interesting?) is how it actually isn’t as easy to get pregnant as you spent so many years being told. All throughout my teenage years the message was always ‘Don’t have unprotected sex or you WILL get pregnant!’ As an adult I know a lot more about the process of getting pregnant but there are probably some hangovers from those years that make it harder to accept that it might actually take up to a year to get pregnant, even if you’re perfectly healthy and everything is working as it should.

      1. Anonymous for this*

        I agree, I have found that super frustrating too. It seems like it should be so much easier than this!

      2. blackcat*

        It’s my understanding that the “up to a year” assumes that you aren’t timing sex to be within 24-48 hrs of ovulation. If you’ve been doing that and not getting pregnant, it’s my understanding that you should investigate things before a year.

        I’ve also been told that, when coming off of the pill, it can take several months (up to 6) for women to start ovulating–but that it can also happen right away. It just depends on how you respond to the pill. But the year + advice is also generally given with this in mind.

        I recently got a primer in fertility stuff since I mentioned to my gyn that my husband and I are thinking about trying 1-2 years from now. She told me that, given that I’m already aware of when I ovulate, once I get my copper IUD out, I should seek help after 3 months of trying. I was surprised at the small window, but she pointed out the “up to a year” advice is generally for women not tracking their cycles and coming off some form of hormonal BC.

        One of my good friends got pregnant naturally after 3+ years of trying, including multiple IUIs and various drugs (which are MUCH less expensive than IVF). So you never really know what will happen.

        (Also, as an aside, some teenagers can in fact get pregnant more easily than adults. They are also much more likely to get pregnant with twins. It’s all because their cycles are less predictable and they may release more eggs. So it’s still a good idea to warn teenagers that they can get pregnant easily!)

        (Also, as an aside, I found out yesterday at that appointment that my IUD may have shifted and I need to have an oh so fun ultrasound next week to check. Ugh.)

        1. Honeybee*

          Eh, I’m not so sure about the first part. Tracking ovulation isn’t a precise science; you can be off by a couple of hours or days or so, especially earlier in your tracking when you’re still working out the signs. Many women’s cycles are irregular. Not every cycle produces ovulation, and not every ovulation produces a viable egg. Plus, there’s evidence showing that as many as 50% of fertilized eggs are flushed out of the body (very early miscarriages, before a woman even knows she’s pregnant). Various evolutionary reasons have been proposed as to why this happens.

        2. Observer*

          It’s my understanding that the “up to a year” assumes that you aren’t timing sex to be within 24-48 hrs of ovulation. If you’ve been doing that and not getting pregnant, it’s my understanding that you should investigate things before a year.

          Nope. Unless something else is going on that creates questions (eg irregular periods), a year assumes that your trying at the typically correct times.

          1. blackcat*

            Huh, well, I stand corrected… as does my gynecologist (who, for the record, is NOT a fertility specialist).

      3. Artemesia*

        I had that experience (my oldest child is just turning 41, but he was awhile getting started.) Like you I had been so careful about bc for so long that it was a sort of slap when I stopped and then couldn’t conceive and needed tests and treatments. I had a cousin at the same time who in spite of using a couple of forms of bc had two kids in 11 mos.

        My first took a couple of years to conceive, my second happened the first time we tried – literally.
        Hope you have happy news soon.

      4. onnellinen*

        THIS! We’ve been trying for about a year (still without success), and sometimes I still can’t believe it’s not as easy as I had been led to believe as a teen!

        1. Observer*

          Well, it’s a LOT easier as a teen. Fertility for women starts to decline in the late 20s.

    8. TCOYF*

      The best resource I have found is the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Educational and practical– I used its methods successfully twice.

    9. Thinking out loud*

      Totally honestly, I tried for seven months and got pregnant with my son in the eighth month. He’s two and a half now, and we’ve been trying for a second one for six months now. I know it’s hard. Are you charting your temperature? If not, go to fertilityfriend.com.

    10. Random CPA*

      Actually that was the case with my sister-in-law and her first child. She never used oral contraceptives, so she didn’t need to wait for her cycle to normalize after going off birth control or anything. But it took her 8 months to get pregnant and she was worried something was wrong too. She was fine and now she has 4 kids.

    11. Jader*

      We’re on month 19 of trying and it can be incredibly hard emotionally. I actually just got back from our first appointment with an RE and start clomid next cycle. I second the recommendation of the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility and using opks/tracking your bbt if you aren’t already. It can be helpful to have others to talk to about it as well, I’m a part of some forums that have been able to offer good advice (I’d just Google it and look until you find one that fits you).

    12. Liane*

      More wishes your wait is almost over and you have that baby.
      My gyn put me on Clomid after we tried for about a year, with a prescription for several months’ of the drug. I was about to go back, very bummed out, and see if we could do a few more cycles with Clomid or should start looking for causes beyond my frequently non-ovulatory cycles – when I found out I was pregnant! (My Ob/gyn said it wasn’t uncommon for ovaries to “take a vacation” on egg production for months at a time, which what he thought had happened in our case.)
      And needing medical assistance once to get pregnant may not mean you will need help the next time. Our daughter was a surprise conceived when our son was about 1 year old. Fortunately, we had already been talking about when we wanted to have another baby when we found out I was pregnant. FYI, it is true that breastfeeding isn’t reliable birthcontrol even when it suppresses your periods.
      Guess my ovaries just do what they want when they want to.

    13. Briar*

      yeah, i’m on month four…. naive, maybe, but, i never thought it would take this long, either. i feel like there must be a secret code that i don’t know. it is really no fun! (in my case, literally, i don’t have a husband, i have a gay friend who donates the goods to me when i need them. he lives 2 hours away. so it’s just a royal hassle!)

    14. Anonymous for this*

      Thanks everyone for your kind words! Best of luck to those of you who are trying too.

      1. Yeah, let's go with anon*

        To all of you still trying….

        We never sought medical intervention. Several years of trying, several of not trying but no preventive measures. After a decade we pretty much gave up. I was 36 when I got the nine-month flu. He’ll be 18 this fall.

        It can happen.

    15. PCOSAnon*

      Age does play a factor in chances at success too. The commonly stated statistics are really from people in their 20s or younger. Once you hit mid 30s then those numbers go down. I went in to have some bloodwork done and we hadn’t been trying for a year since I’m in my 30s and the diagnosis came back with PCOS. So now I’m on something for that, but it hasn’t even been 6 months yet without any success. If we’re still trying at the end of the year I’ll have to do see the reproductive endocrinologist.

  7. danr*

    The violinist in the subway would have made more money if the had been playing in NYC. Sometimes there was a string quartet at the top of the ramp to the A and C trains at Penn Station. The cases were always filled with cash.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I think it was less about money and more that hardly anyone even stopped to listen or notice what was happening around them. Except kids, in many cases, which was pretty interesting.

      1. danr*

        From my own experiences in the subway, putting in money always happens after you listen for a bit. Unless you’re in a hurry and you’ve heard this wonderful music on the ramp. Then you drop in a couple of dollars with a big smile. I’ve heard applause from the listeners too. Good musicians and singers are usually appreciated.

        1. Honeybee*

          Eh, not sure if I agree that good buskers are usually appreciated. It depends on the day and the area. I lived in NYC for a while, and most of the time busking was met with irritation, even if they were good.

          1. Blue Anne*

            Buskers were the bane of my life when I lived in NYC. Especially the musical saw lady and the oriental violin dude. Helllooooo noise-induced panic attacks.

      2. jhhj*

        Kids don’t need to get to work on time or they will be fired. As I recall, it was done for less than an hour during the morning rush hour, and I am not sure that the time and length was accidental.

        1. J*

          Agreed. I was never comfortable with the message people drew from this, the idea that harried work commuters failing to stop in their tracks to appreciate an unsolicited violin performance was somehow a sign of cultural decline. As if commuters failed a test by have other things on their minds. As if everyone ought to be able to instantly recognize virtuoso-quality violin playing in the first place. (I probably can’t! Somehow I still manage to appreciate art and culture in other areas!)

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Yeah, the things/actions out of context really don’t prove or disprove anything. We could reach almost any conclusion about this. For example, we could conclude that employers put so much pressure on their employees that the employee cannot stop for a minute to listen to nice music on the way to work. Nope, that is jsut not true in all cases, of course.

          2. Dan*

            I remember that article from when it first ran. And I agree with you, I didn’t like that conclusion either. Also never mind that while I do not have an ear for virtuoso quality performances, the acoustics in the Washington Metro are all but guaranteed to distort the quality of a virtuoso performance to the point where few people can recognize it. Not unlike how wine tastes different in an airplane than it does on the ground… it’s actually really hard to appreciate most “good” wines in the air. Same has to be true for performances in the Metro.

            Furthermore, I’m not a “harried work commuter.” I know it takes me 20 minutes to get from point A to B, so that’s what I allow for my commute time. Sorry I didn’t budget more for a street performer that I didn’t know was playing that day.

            1. INFJ*

              I agree 100%

              When people buy a ticket to a concert to hear music, they’ve made time for that. The fact that nobody has time to stop to listen to a performance on the way to work says nothing about taste or assumptions of quality based on environment.

          3. Honeybee*

            I was thinking the same thing, honestly – I wasn’t sure what point he was trying to make from it. I’ve lived in NYC and taken public transit to work. Not only do I have other things on my mind and I am unable to detect virtuoso-level violin playing, I also like to be lost in my own thoughts on my way to work. The subway is noisy enough without people playing/singing loudly on it, and when you’re riding to work at 7 am sometimes you just want to hear your own thoughts as much as possible and not someone’s forced musical stylings.

      3. Charlotte Collins*

        I think little kids make the best audiences sometimes. My community has free outdoor concerts in the summer, and so many adults ignore the requests to not talk or disturb the other patrons, but the kids pay attention to the music. And sometimes they dance to it – I loved seeing a little 4/5YO try out her ballet moves to a violin concerto. She clearly was appreciating the music on a level a lot of the adults couldn’t match.

    2. Stephanie*

      There’s actually a whole audition and permitting process to busk legally in the subway. I’ll find the link and post.

      1. danr*

        True, but there are many who set up without official permission. Some are good and some are horrible.

      2. fposte*

        One of my favorite London memories is walking over Waterloo Bridge one December night as a flautist played Christmas songs. The sound was amazing.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Open air acoustics. I have a recording of my father singing “Old Man River” outside. The recording sends chills up my spine every time. I gave a copy to my uncle and I warned him. He later called up and said “you did not give me enough warning about that recording.” It had to have something to do with being outside.

          1. Meadowsweet*

            Outside is…it makes it more real and unreal at the same time, doesn’t it?

            I have twice heard bagpipes the way they’re meant to be heard (outside, at a distance) and both times it was the eeriest, most magical, emboldening, wonderful…. I truly would not have been surprised to turn around and realize I’d been taken by the fairies to fight and laugh and feast forevermore.
            (First time the piper was on a spit in the ocean, in the fog, and the second he was a hill over in the Highlands)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              OMG. I heard bag pipes outside in a field, playing Amazing Grace. I love bag pipes anyway, so this was just tremendous. Yeah, that is they way they are supposed to be listened to.

            2. Blue Anne*

              I have a very vivid memory of being out at the NJ beach with a friend when we were about 7, and hearing some sort of strange music on the wind. My friend and her mom din’t quite believe me but followed me up the beach as I tried to find it. Eventually we came to a kilted bagpiper standing ankle-deep in the water piping out to the sea. It was magic.

              Now I live in Scotland. Dunno what to tell you. Pipe fairies.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            I checked out your link, that is amazing. I looked at the next one that explains how to make the sounds. wow.

        2. Meadowsweet*

          Oh that would be wonderful!

          The closest I have is someone playing a huge traffic cone near Trafalgar Square :) (it sounded like a tuba!)

    3. BRR*

      Can I be snooty and say maybe if it was a better violinist? J/k he’s still really decent. As a classical musical lover I’m still mostly annoyed by subway performers*. I feel like their sound is invading my personal bubble and if I wanted to hear a performance I would go to a performance. That most times I don’t feel like I should give money because I didn’t choose to listen to them.

      *There’s a special place in hell for the steel drum player in Penn Station while I wait for the 2/3.

      1. TL -*

        Ah, I love subway performers, even the truly awful ones. But I’m a big fan of people watching and also, I find random strangers more amusing than most.

        Some guy walked us on the subway station the other day singing opera (with his headphones in). He wasn’t half-bad and it made my day.

        1. BRR*

          Whoops, I wrote his name originally then tweaked the post. It was just a joke because while very good he’s known in the violin world for being a little more famous than his talent.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I love steel drums!
        The only ones I really hate are the ones who use amplifiers and turn them up really loud. I actually gave a guy in London a pound just for NOT using one! He was also a pretty good guitar player, but yeah. It’s rather unpleasant in the tunnels when they’re too loud.

        When I lived in Santa Cruz, CA, they had a guy who would play the bagpipes on the corner sometimes. He wasn’t bad and I always gave him money because I LOVE the pipes.

        1. BRR*

          A subway platform is just a little tight for a steel drum. I’m assuming he won’t compensate me for my hearing damage.

        2. Honeybee*

          If I’m remembering correctly, the ones BRR mentioned are exactly that kind – they use amplifiers to turn them up really, really loud. That added to the fact that subway stations don’t have good acoustics and you’re left with a muddy, distorted mess even if you like steel drums (which I don’t, but still).

      3. Claire (Scotland)*

        Yeah, I don’t enjoy being forced to listen, no matter how good they may be. Mostly they irritate me and give me a headache if I get stuck at a bus stop near one.

        1. AmyNYC*

          Seconded. When I’m on my way to or from work, I just want to zone out not listen to your off-key rendition of Bob Dylan’s greatest hits. Maybe I’m a curmudgeon but I would LOVE a quiet car on the subway.

  8. AVP*

    I am unexpectedly moving tomorrow! My lease goes until September but I volunteered to move out early so they could properly repaint and grout…only to hear last week that they had rented it for August 1. How sweet! Luckily I’m kind of feeling the urge to get out of here ASAP.

    Please send good vibes for packing.

      1. AVP*

        aw. my place was a total POS but it was my POS, ya know? Hoping you get to work yours out too, sooner rather than later!

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I thought about selling it to a house flipper, since I’m going to lose money on it no matter what I do. I’d hate to see it turned into another shit rental–we have enough of those in this neighborhood, and this city has some actual slumlord landlords in it. :P

          Maybe I could do just enough to get it off my hands!

  9. Amber Rose*

    I have to perform in public in 3 weeks. In PUBLIC. So if I stop posting about halfway through August, you should assume I keeled over from terror.

    In unrelated news, getting my passport is extraordinarily painful. I don’t know anyone who qualifies as a guarantor because they need to have known me for 2 years and have a currently valid passport, and nobody I know has that. So I need a form which you can’t get online, they only give them out at Service Canada, which is never open at a time when I can get there.

    This whole process… is bullshit.

    1. A*

      Wow, this is making the USA’s passport process seem downright reasonable! Except the outrageous fees, of course.

      1. Amber Rose*

        The US passport is cheaper. My husband is in the process of renewing his. So much easier.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Here you can ask your doctor to do that, is there anyone like that you could ask?

      1. Amber Rose*

        I don’t have a doctor anymore. The last one I saw I told him in no uncertain terms where to go and what to do when he got there.

        Besides, I haven’t been here long enough for one to know me more than 2 years. That rule can’t be worked around.

        1. Cristina in England*

          It sounds like you have lived there for less than 2 years but you need someone who has know you for more than 2 years to sign. Is that right? Do they have to be local to you? Can you mail someone the application and whatever materials? I’ve done that here for a friend’s passport. If not, there must be an expat forum out there for you with other people in a similar situation.

          1. Amber Rose*

            But I literally don’t know anyone who has a Canadian passport. Which is a requirement.

            I can get around it with that form but I have to go downtown during business hours, which means time off work. So annoying.

    3. jhhj*

      Luckily, once you have a Canadian passport, you no longer need a guarantor to renew (which used to be worse — it had to be a person with one of a small number of jobs who had known you for X years etc). I think you can get them to mail you the form, if you phone them. But getting a first time passport is a pain. (Or getting one to replace a lost/stolen passport.)

    4. Elizabeth West*

      You can do it! Just look right above people’s heads but not at their faces. I learned that trick in music school–it makes them think you’re looking at them but you’re really not so you don’t see them.

      I’m usually okay unless someone I know is in the audience and I know they’re there. Then I’m paranoid about messing up.

      1. catsAreCool*

        3 weeks isn’t much time to prepare, but you might try visiting/joining Toastmasters – that’s a great place to learn to speak in public. I’m not sure how you’re performing, but this might help.

    5. schnapps*

      Is it a new passport or a renewal? The renewal is much simplified and anyone can sign.

      Also your guarantor doesn’t have to live in the same area as you – they can live across the country, but their signature has to be a real signature (they can’t fax or scan the form to you). So you could ask your doctor from your childhood to do it.

      According to the CIC website, you can call them for the PPTC 132 form. Call us from Canada and the USA
      Toll free: 1-800-567-6868 FREE
      TTY services: 1-866-255-7655 FREE
      Hours of operation: Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time

      1. Amber Rose*

        Its equivalent to getting a new one since my name changed. The doctor from my childhood is almost certainly dead. He retired when I was pretty young anyway, so there’s no way to contact him even if I could remember his name. It’s been over 15 years since I saw him.

        I know I can call, and they’ll mail the form to me, but its still an enormous pain in the ass, since I then have to find a commissioner of oaths.

        1. Jenn*

          Any chance this is one of those things you can sometimes get done at registrar offices like Alberta Motor Association?

        2. schnapps*

          Here’s a thing: Most City Clerks (and their Deputies) are Commissioners for taking oaths. So are most lawyers and notaries. Judges, etc. as well.

          Anyone in your hometown who could do it?

        3. jhhj*

          It’s not that hard — you can find them in banks, accounting offices, law firms, schools, etc. There is almost always one next to the passport office. Since you changed your name, I assume you’re not in Quebec (where I know a few).

          It is a huge pain in the ass though. And I think some places they can charge quite a lot.

    6. Mephyle*

      It says you can also request the Statutory Declaration in Lieu of Guarantor form by telephone, it’s a 1-800 number. Hope this helps.

    1. YandO*

      Visit University of Michigan campus. Law School Quad in particular.

      Eat Zingermanns in Kerry Town. Hands-on museum if you have kids. The main street for drinks/dinner in the evening.

    2. Intrepid Intern*

      The University of Michigan law quad is always beautiful, and really just walking around downtown is pretty fun now that the students have cleared out for the summer (I’m practically student age, but my mother calls me a townie when I visit.) Basically, “downtown” stretches from the university campus to Kerrytown and the farmer’s market, plus a little north of that. Ann Arbor also has an annual art show, which will make traffic terrible but is always fun to see, and if you’re around this week, Ypsilanti (neighboring town) is having a beer weekend.

      If you have kids, there’s the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum; if you have a car, there’s the Matthei Botanical Gardens. There’s a (somewhat outdated, from my memory) natural history museum, and usually live music performances at the Ark.

      If you’re willing to go a bit farther afield, Detroit has the DIA, its art museum, and Slow’s Barbecue (Ann Arbor has a good BBQ place I can’t remember, and Ypsilanti has Red Rock.)

      In other food: Zingerman’s and Angelo’s for sandwiches, Espresso Royale or Comet for Coffee, Sava’s for vegan food (there are two though, and they’re not related to each other, so be careful). There’s also a good Cuban place that just opened downtown, Connor O’Neils for Irish food, Ashleys and the Beer Grotto for… well, beer.

    3. dawbs*

      it’s a ways away (say, Farmington Hills), but this is totally worth going to:

      It’s…weird and quirky and the copy of the cardiff giant is there and there are weird old arcade things

      Also, music here: http://www.theark.org/
      (Although I’ll confess it’s been a while for me)

      Also, if you have a car, more theater–very michigan specific:

      There’s amazing food there too; other people will have better recommendations there.

      1. Num Lock*

        Seconding Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. Spent waaay too much time there growing up. Glad to know it’s still around! If the Coney Island in that strip mall is still there, the food is delicious and makes a great lunch stop.

        PEBCAK, if you are mobile enough to get out of Ann Arbor, I must strongly recommend visiting the Detroit Institute of Arts downtown. Greenfield Village is also cool, located in Dearborn. And the Zoo is very nice, in Royal Oak. You can also try to hit up Hell, Michigan, just to say you’ve been and get a piece of hell.

        Other than that, just explore downtown Ann Arbor and see what you see. It’s a cool city!

    4. matcha123*

      Walk around campus. Visit the Arb. Go to Gallup Park and maybe canoe.
      The Art Fair might be over, but Top of the Park might be going on.
      Go eat at the Gandy Dancer…if you have the cash and if it’s still open!
      The Natural History Museum (UM). I never went to the “downtown” places. If you like Asian food,
      head to South University. There’s also a sangria place in that area, Dominick’s.

  10. adonday veeah*

    I am a hermit by nature, and I am happy to spend endless hours by myself doing… whatever. It’s hard for me to reach out to others, because… well, because I’m happy just as I am.

    But because she expressed concern, I asked her to help me step out of my hermitage from time to time. I envisioned invitations to lunch, coming over to dinner, etc. But nooooooo…..

    She has been on Match Dot Com for a while. Recently she met someone in my area, and she’s trying to broker a match between us. Mind you, she’s never met this guy, just met him on Match, but she is pushing me very hard to meet him. At her insistence, I did begin a small correspondence with him, then he went traveling. Now, my friend tells me he has returned from his travels, and she’s pushing me once again to contact him.

    I have no idea what to think about this, much less do. What do y’all think? Should I reach out to this stranger, or tell my best friend to knock it off? FWIW, I am in my early sixties, and have spent most of my adult life in relationship. I’ve been single now for about 10 years, and… well, I kinds like it.

    Advice, please.

    1. Jazzy Red*

      I’m in my 60’s, too, and single. I don’t even want to get into a relationship with anyone. I love living alone and not having to be considerate at home.

      Truthfully, if *you* want to pursue a potential relationship with someone, then *you* are the only one who should be making that decision. I think you should talk to your friend and tell her to back off.

    2. acmx*

      I’d say, do whatever makes you happy. If you’re interested in a new friend or potentially more, then go ahead. If not, then don’t. At the same time, this man can contact you, too, now that he is back from his travels.

      1. adonday veeah*

        That’s what I keep telling my friend. HE’S the one on Match Dot Com. Maybe I should just wait for him to step up?

        1. acmx*

          That’s my feeling, too. I’m of the mind that he left to travel and now that he’s back, he would contact people saying he was back. His travel is a definitely a way to strike up a conversation again.

          Ok, I basically said what Revanche said…

    3. Revanche*

      I’m not a fan of people pushing this sort of thing if I know I’m not into it. Are you at all interested? If not, I’d tell your best friend to back up and stop with the pressure. Even if you’re at least curious, it does seem like perhaps this guy should be contacting you since he’s the one who traveled and returned, and he has your contact information.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I am in my 50s and happy on my own, too. Your friend could be trying to fix his own life by repairing yours.

      If you do not want a relationship then keep saying no. Your friend is waaay too involved in your personal life. He needs to accept you as you are.

      It’s interesting that you should mention this, my neighbor and I were just talking today about all the people we know who are happy on their own. And they remained on their own until their passing. Some people can’t understand this.

      1. Windchime*

        I’m in my 50’s and also very happy on my own. I was married for 16 years when I was younger, so I had a chance to experience that and to have my children, whom I adore. Now I have a good job, my best friend lives 4 miles away, I have a few close friends, and a beautiful cat. Life is actually pretty great. I work with a lot of smart, funny men and so I get my “man fix” at work (nothing inappropriate, just interacting with men on a daily basis).

        Apparently I’ve passed the age of fix-up-ability because people don’t bug me about dating any longer. If the right guy wandered into my life I suppose I might consider a romantic relationship, but I’m actually really happy right now. Popcorn for dinner? OK! Sitting around un-showered and knitting all day on a Saturday? Sure, why not!

        I actually kind of love it.

    5. Soupspoon McGee*

      I think it’s time for a conversation with your friend about what you want and expect from her–which sounds like it was more one-on-one time with her. You can tell her matchmaking was not part of the deal, or that you’re not interested, or that you’d like her to drop it, or that you’ll take it from here. If you don’t want to pursue this fella, or if you do but not with your friend over your shoulder, you can follow a cue from Captain Awkward: when she brings it up, reiterate your boundaries and if she persists, cheerfully tell her you’ll talk to her later, but not about that.

    6. I'm an astronaut's wife and this is a matter of national security!*

      Under the circumstances, it seems odd to me that your friend is pushing you to contact him. I mean, if you were corresponding with him, and he says he’s traveling for two weeks, it seems to me the onus is on him to send you an email to say “hey, I’m back – take a look at this picture I took of the c-beams at the Tannhauser Gate”.

      Maybe you should re-discuss this whole “step out of your hermitage” thing with your friend. I’m sure she means well, but a) she’s not pushing the kinds of things you expected (and, I’m guessing, would prefer), and b) she’s really not doing a very good job as a match-maker in general. No offense intended to her. But if she wants to hook you up with this guy, she needs to be pushing him.

      Re being a hermit in general: if you ever wanted to change that, I’m sure you could get you’re own match.com (or whatever) account.

  11. Cath in Canada*

    I found out this week that I get to go to Japan in November! (It’s for a conference, and I wasn’t sure I was quite important enough to justify spending all that money on my attendance, but apparently I am! Yay!) My husband’s going to come with me and we’ll make a holiday of it after the conference ends.

    Any suggestions of things to see and do? We’ll probably be in Tokyo for a couple of days before the conference starts, then my husband will explore the city on his own for three days while I’m busy. Then we’ll take a couple of weeks or so after the conference ends to explore the rest of the country. I really want to see the monkeys in the hot springs, and I’d like to get to some of the more rural and Northern regions in general, as well as the cities – I’m excited about Tokyo but expect that I’ll be exhausted after a few days!

    I know November’s probably not the best time to go, but there’s not exactly a choice :)

    1. acmx*

      Japan is my favorite country so it’s hard to make recommendations (other than something not helpful like, you can’t go wrong) but this is a great resource: japan-guide dot com

      For reference I visited: Kyoto, Hiroshima, Miyajima, Iwakuni (had a flight out), Nara and Hakone.

      1. Cath in Canada*


        How much Japanese do you need to know to get around? Some friends of mine visited in about 2004 and had a really hard time with things like maps (they got hold of an English language map, but all the street name signs etc. are in Japanese, so it didn’t help) and transport. I’m assuming that it’ll be easier now we have smart phones, but I’d still like to make an effort to learn some basics. The problem is that the definition of the basics is different in different countries! The only Japanese I know is food-related (I am SO excited about trying all the different types of food), and my husband knows a few martial arts-related words and phrases, which (I hope) won’t be all that useful!

        1. Buu*

          All the station names on the trains in Tokyo have English as do the station signage, so I’d advise you plan Tokyo around the train stations. If you haven’t been I recommend the Ghibli museum ( get tickets before you fly as the limit admission). You can get a train then a ghibli bus to the museum so it’s easy.
          As for the basics I got by on please, where is, and thank you and I don’t understand. Learning basic manners goes a long way, never hand cashiers money directly look for the tray in front of them. Also never point with one finger, use the whole hand.
          It depends what you”re interested in, I enjoyed Odaiba because it has two arcades one that’s fairly expensive but has rides and new stuff then a super old one that was cheap. There’s also an amazing shopping centre there called Venus Fort that’s modelled to look like an old European street.

          1. Cath in Canada*

            Cool, thanks! I’m bookmarking this entire thread :)

            I was going to ask on a Friday open thread about business etiquette, for example thanking our hosts, and for the conference dinner, but hadn’t really considered more general differences in good manners. Money, pointing – any more big ones? I know not to put my feet up anywhere, and to be prepared to take my shoes off in various circumstances…

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I can only offer a few things. Don’t put your chopsticks into a bowl of rice (I doubt you’d do this anyway), lay them by the side or across the bowl. Exchanging business cards is a big thing that has a sort of ritual around it, you might want to Google that. Also, it would be a good idea to bring something you can give as a gift. I don’t know if they still have them at the airport but they used to sell 3 bottle sets of ice wine at the duty free for $99 — that may be more than you’d like to spend but that would also be 3 gifts once nicely wrapped up (important!) and it’s something that they can’t really get in Japan.

        2. acmx*

          I agree with Buu that it’s also good to learn polite phrases.
          It’s very easy to get around Japan again as Buu said, there’s a lot of signage in English. The buses in Kyoto has stops said in English, too. For the most part, I had no trouble getting around (I got lost once but I think it’s just something that is going to happen to me no matter what. I got lost in Prague and really shouldn’t have).

          Tips: Get the JR Rail pass for tourists. It must be bought before your trip (info on the site I mentioned). Umm, don’t spend all your yen when you’re in a small town *ahem*. There are many ATM that are for Japanese cards only. 7-11 will have ATM that accepts foreign cards (7-11 is actually Japanese owned now). There are some train stations that do not accept credit cards (all of this is my ‘adventure’ in Nara).

        3. fposte*

          Don’t forget the joy of smart phones! My old iPod helped in Russia, because there were apps that would translate English questions into Russian that I could show to people who didn’t speak English. It didn’t even need wifi as long as my questions were phrase-book common.

        4. matcha123*

          You should know that for the most part, Japan is NOT Wi-Fi friendly. You can’t just pop into a cafe and connect to the internet like in the US. If you want to use Wi-Fi, you’d be better off picking up a router at the airport or something like that.
          Since Tokyo is preparing for the 2020 Olympics, they’d decided to put a bunch of people out in brightly colored jackets as “tourist guides.” Apparently they are supposed to be able to speak English and help tourists find stuff. If you’re getting a JR Pass, you can use it on much of the railways (shinkansen, JR subway). The Tokyo subway system is crazy. It’s actually a number of different lines operated by different companies. You will be doing a LOT of walking, so bring comfortable shoes. In fact, a lot of women wear sneakers with their work clothes and change into heels at work. You might want to bring “nice shoes” in a bag if you would rather change. The subway lines include: JR, Tokyo Metro, and about three others. Whatever map you get will probably only show their line and none of the others.

          Some places will have an English menu, you can ask by saying “Eigo no menyu wa arimasu ka?”

          Japan doesn’t have street names…for the most part. If I were you, I’d look up how to get to the places you want to visit before visiting. I can speak Japanese, but since most Tokyo people only know the routes they use, they probably won’t be able to help you much. Though, you might get people that will try. Which, most people will go out of their way to help if you ask for directions.

          Hmm…what else?

        5. Marcela*

          My husband was invited to Japan, to work for a month with a professor in an university near Tokyo. I call this the greatest gift of academia, for this was the trip of my life.

          For us, Spanish speakers, Japan was incredibly easy to navigate. We did not speak a single word of Japanese beyond thanks. We didn’t have any problems at all with maps. There are many maps on the streets, and while you can’t read the street names (mostly because they use a different kind of grid way to describe addresses instead of our street names plus number), maps are super easy to read: the maps are not oriented with north on top, but with what’s in front of you. So the left and right at the map are your left and right. This means you can go to any place counting blocks. Most hotels have small maps of the attractions nearby and can give you directions.

          Traveling in buses, trains or metros was also very easy for us, because in every stop you’ll hear the name of the destination, plus every single one of the following stops. This is where our language was very handy, because Japanese names sound exactly as you would say them in Spanish. All stations have names in Japanese but also using Latin alphabet, so it’s easy to know where you are. If you buy a Japan Rail Pass, you can use almost every train and you don’t have to interact with anybody. Just show your small notebook to the guy in the entrance and he’ll let you pass.

          And we were just students, so we were poor and didn’t have access to wifi or smartphones. I’d say Japan was friendlier to us than Greece, for example. Or even my own country, where almost nothing have signals or help or translations.

          Good luck, enjoy it! It’s goind to be gorgeous no matter what you do.

    2. Billy*

      I’m jealous….what kind of work are you involved in to warrant a work trip to Japan?

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I’m in academic scientific research, and the primary attraction of the conference is the annual meeting of an international research consortium. As well as managing a member project, I’m part of the Communications working group for the consortium, and I support another working group (taking minutes of teleconferences etc). I gave a talk and presented a poster at the meeting two years ago in Berlin, and helped to organize last year’s conference (which was in Vancouver). I might get asked to present at this one, too – I’ll find out when I arrive!

        I see the conference as a reward for all the 5:30 am and 6 am teleconferences :D

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I am jealous, too. Japan is somewhere I’ve always wanted to go.

        Depending on how athletic you are, climb Mt. Fuji. Oh, nevermind the season apparently ends in September.

        I saw this place http://www.shinjuku-robot.com/pc/?lng=en on a TV documentary. Cabaret show featuring dancing robots? Only in Japan, you say.

    3. landscape architect*

      If you like gardens, November can be spectacular as the maples should be in full blazing color. I’ve only been to Kyoto, but strongly recommend it if you like temples/gardens and fine handicrafts.

    4. Sinjin*

      Some tips: I strongly recommend renting a pocket wifi in Tokyo, and you will find a lot of rental options if you Google. It’s very handy, especially when it comes to navigating. Only major streets in Tokyo have names, and it’s common for buildings to not be numbered sequentially. Getting around can be very confusing, so any map with landmarks will be much more useful. It’s considered vulgar to eat/drink while you’re walking around or on a train, and it’s polite to place your money – when making a purchase – in a tray vs. handing it to the cashier. Also, paying in cash is much more common in Japan vs. paying with credit cards. But research first to see where you can use your ATM if you need to withdraw cash. Your choices will be much more limited. The post office and 7-11s are usually the go-to places. An easy day trip from Tokyo is Kita-Kamakura and Kamakura. Hakone too. So many shrines and temples clustered together!
      Have a great trip. Japan is my favorite place!

      1. Sinjin*

        It’s hard to get a bad meal in Japan because there’s so much emphasis placed on quality and customer service. But a general rule thumb: If there’s a queue, it’s really good! You have plenty of time to do some reading in advance, and there’s a lovely book called “Pretty Good Number One” that offers an insight into the culture and food, with plenty of restaurant suggestions. Personally, I could subsist completely on the different kinds of ramen which, as a bonus, are very inexpensive. It’s very common to have to order your ramen ticket from a vending machine, so take a moment before your visit to Google “ramen vending machine” so you can memorize the characters that spell ramen. Japanese people are phenomenally polite and helpful, but English is not widely spoken at all. You will manage, though, and I’m sure you will have a fantastic time.

        1. Sinjin*

          One more thing! This website is a resource that serves as a good starter kit: http://www.japan-guide.com

          I actually love going to Japan in November. It gets sooooo hot and humid in the summer and, as someone mentioned, the trees are fiery with color. Beautiful red leaves. It can get chilly, so I always bring a trench coat and easy layers that I can add or shed.

        2. Buu*

          I was surprised how good the food in Japan is, even the cakes and sweets. The best meal I had was a bento from a station bento shop. Those are actually notoriously good and cheap because of the heavy competition.

          1. Sinjin*

            Even convenience store food from Lawson’s or 7-11 is known for its quality. Sometimes I will get a convenience store “mystery meal” where I buy things that are unidentifiable (to me) with labels all in Japanese. Anthony Bordaun has also done some good episodes from Tokyo for Parts Unknown and Without Reservations. Both available to stream online.

    5. Sunday*

      Good for you!

      My only tip is third hand; a friends’ spouse was in Japan and he used business cards and brochures. Get on a bus, show the driver the brochure, heading back to the hotel, show driver/passers-by the business card.

  12. Kali*

    Help! What are your tips and tricks to keep your will power strong?

    I have a full time job and also photograph weddings with my husband on the weekends. Our next string of weddings has less than a week between them and some multi-day affairs. Photographing weddings is both physically and mentally taxing. I’ve noticed that as I’m getting older, I bounce back more slowly and my will power is completely depleted for at least three days. I’m more likely to eat a lot of bad-for-me food, especially sugary treats and any kind of fried potato. I’m less likely to convince myself to exercise. I know that eating healthy and exercising will help me bounce back faster, but I just don’t have the will power to do either.

    Any secret tricks?

    1. Chairs*

      I find having prepared healthy snacks on hand helps a lot. It’s a lot easier for me to eat healthy during stressful times if I’ve already cut up carrot sticks or made pepper slice. During really stressful times, I’ll also try to opt for “healthier” rather that “healthy”. If ordering a BLT instead of the veggie sandwich is what keeps me from option for a philly cheese steak instead, that is a sacrifice I am willing to make.

    2. Revanche*

      I think there are studies that show that willpower is a finite resource so if you use it all up doing a great job at your two jobs, you won’t have any for other decisions in your life. So maybe the trick here is to automate good decisions, like arranging for regular produce deliveries so that you always have healthy fruit on hand, and having an exercise buddy who is willing to haul you out of the house to go exercise rain or shine. I love it when someone is willing to be my accountability partner on things that I don’t WANT to do but I know I’ll make myself do (thus expending willpower).

      1. Cristina in England*

        YES to all of this!! Pre-decide all of your clothes, pre-plan or pre-make meals, do everything in advance that you can to leave yourself little option. You want the easiest option to be the smartest/healthiest/best. Also, and this is very important, be kind to yourself if you make the more indulgent choices.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        Yes, I’ve read about that. Every time you make a decision throughout the day, it drains your decision making power and makes will power harder to muster. I agree with everyone else about automating your day as much as possible to make the good choices the easy ones. You could also try stocking your home with foods that feel indulgent but aren’t too bad for you (fancy popcorn? expensive berries? high quality dark chocolate?). But I would also advise listening to your body – sometimes what you need is a nap and some french fries!

    3. fposte*

      Oh, I think this is a really smart way to approach the problem, and I’m agreeing with everybody–as the animal training saying goes, make the right thing easy and the wrong thing hard.

      Preplan good snacks and make them really visible (something like Naturebox or Graze might be helpful here); keep crap harder to reach and out of sight, and put ’em in opaque bags or foil if you can’t. I won’t dig into a produce drawer for carrots when I’m tired, but I will grab a clear little Rubbermaid container of baby carrots that’s right at the front of the shelf.

      Minimize failure points for working out. If you drive to the gym, maybe keep your workout clothes and shoes in the car; if you work out at home, put the clothes right near whatever spot it is that you get stuck in when you get home. Be flexible on goals–if you can only define success as a 5-mile run, you’re going to pry yourself off the couch less often than if success can also include a 15-minute walk. “Just do it for a minute” is a big mantra for me.

  13. AcademicAnon*

    This is a really weird question for me, but I need suggestions about where to buy jewelry. Spouse wants to buy me something “nice” for our 10 year anniversary, but I’m having a hard time finding something I want at a reputable place online. I’d prefer something in platinum (I’m limited by my allergies to metals like titanium, high caret gold, and platinum, even sterling silver or surgical steel is iffy) and either earrings or a necklace. I tend to either like classic pieces in simpler designs, or something more unusual/unique.

    1. Revanche*

      Hm. Some friends have sent me great links to Etsy sites that they have had good luck with but if you’re looking for higher end (platinum) then you might try the wholesale jewelry district wherever you’re located. I know we have one in SF that looks really basic but is filled with great jewelers selling good and/or customizable pieces at much better than retail prices.

    2. bassclefchick*

      Find a good, local place. Not a chain store. Although Kay Jewelers and those stores are nice, I’ve found their service isn’t as good as a “mom and pop” type place. They seem to want to ring up the sale and move on to the next victim (um, customer, yeah, customer).

      What area are you in?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I agree with finding a local place. That way, you can go and have a look, scope out the price and feel of the place – are they snooty to you or nice? and so on.

        The jewellery that I treasure (necklaces are my thing) are all from local places that I got for birthdays (16, 18 & 21) from my parents and each of them are unique and mean something to me.

        1. AcademicAnon*

          I’m in the Midwest, where Chicago is the closest large city. I haven’t found a local high-end store that sells platinum, or at least not much of it. :(

          1. bassclefchick*

            Ah, I’m closer to Milwaukee, so I’d have some recommendations for there. Good luck! I’m sure there are great places in the Chicago metro area!

          2. ace*

            If going to Chicago is an option, New York Jewelers on Jewelry Row is really great. In Indianapolis, G. Thrapp is amazing. Otherwise, honestly I’d go on Yelp and look for a well-reviewed place.

    3. S*

      I really, really love Catbird NYC (they have an online store!) and their designs veer towards simple and classic. They have stuff in all sorts of price ranges, so your spouse can go as “fancy” as they’d like. I don’t know if they offer anything in platinum, but it’s worth taking a look at.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My husband bought my platinum engagement ring from Brilliant Earth online. It’s all conflict-free, ethically-sourced, and much of it is recycled. Their pendants are mostly high-carat gold, and some platinum.

      Otherwise, if you find yourself in Chicago, check out Jeweler’s Row and shop around.

      1. Lo-lee-ta*

        Gemvara.com is really cool. I like the site because I can mix metals and stones. It’s fun to play around with the designs. The price range is all over the place. Of course, I like the expensive stuff.

      2. A Dispatcher*

        I really like the styles on brilliant earth but hadn’t met anyone who had ordered from there. Glad to hear of a good report!

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I bought diamond earrings from them last year, and had a good experience with them. I like that everything there is ethically sourced.

        2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

          My then-fiance now-husband said it was a really good experience ordering from them–very helpful people, very cognizant that you’re going to drop a good chunk of change online, and really eager to help. My ring is gorgeous, fits perfectly, and it came shipped insured + signature, and the jewelry boxes are really cute wooden ones (not the velvet ones you usually see). My ring is this one http://www.brilliantearth.com/Sapphire-Antique-Scroll-Three-Stone-Trellis-Ring-%281/3-ct.-tw.%29-White-Gold-BE5DAS2R30-SB6RD/ and I get compliments on it ALL the time. Seriously great experience.

      3. AcademicAnon*

        Brilliant Earth seems to be exactly what I’m looking for. Thanks all for the suggestions!

    5. fposte*

      I really like artfulhome dot com. They carry a lot of independent artists (many of them also have their own websites or sell through Etsy). Their platinum selection isn’t extensive, but quite a few jewelers on there make stuff to order–you might see if somebody who does stuff you like might customize something in platinum for you.

    6. LisaLee*

      Have you tried looking a nicer antique stores? You can often get beautiful, high quality jewelry there for less than you would pay for modern pieces. Of course, if you hate vintage styles, that’s no-go.

    7. Gene*

      Until I got to the metal restrictions, I was going to suggest alltribes.com Handmade by native craftspeople, mostly one of a kind, even some old pawn items. The owner (whose name is escaping me right now) has worked with some of the artists for 30 years. They will also do custom work.

    8. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

      I’m a big fan of Blue Nile. Big selection and their stuff is high quality.

  14. SandrineSmiles (France)*

    The good of the week:

    No idea. I mean, I have some tests to be done to determine whether I can make my Mom really happy… or whether to be really worried that nothing is happened. So all in all, it’s still good, because something feels eerie, and this might be it. *crossing fingers*

    The bad of the week:

    Some idiot decided to crash my live video game streams. First it was through Agar.io . If you haven’t played, well… It gets kinda addictive. Then I wanted to stream some Minecraft, and a player came to me in a panic because the spawn point had been damaged. Yay -_- .

    So, here’s to hope next week is better!

  15. Revanche*

    Now that we’re home and settled again, it feels like there’s nothing exciting going on. But that’s a good thing!

    We took our infant to SDCC this year and it was a whirlwind of activity. I was pretty nervous about it and it turned out well. Now PiC wants to take the family to visit friends on the East Coast and I’m in but admit to a bit of nervousness.

    Have you got any tips on flying and otherwise traveling lightly (ha..ha..) with babies? (Caveats: I have to have a stroller b/c I have serious pain&fatigue issues, we’re willing to look totally unfashionable wearing the same things over and over.)

    1. blackcat*

      Always bring sufficient clothes in your carry on in case the babies throw up all over themselves and/or you. Make sure these extra clothes are accessible. Also, always have plastic bags handy to put the dirty clothes into.

      1. Revanche*

        Oh separate dirty clothes bags – great idea. I didn’t really consider the vomit thing as it hasn’t happened yet but I hear baby spewing can be awful….

    2. Cristina in England*

      Order diapers and stuff like that online to have sent to your friend’s house, or otherwise buy it when you’re there. They take up a ton of space and are heavy too.

    3. Cristina in England*

      If you have an older baby, bring whatever sweet treats that you normally limit at home for emergency calming on the plane. Cadbury’s milk chocolate buttons or Milky buttons work a treat for mine.
      Do you have to have your normal stroller? If you aren’t too tall you might be able to get away with a really light and cheap umbrella stroller for traveling, although they won’t have the same underseat storage and sunshade action of even a regular umbrella-fold.

      1. Revanche*

        We only have the one stroller but we bought one that was relatively lightweight. Not an umbrella stroller but I’ll look into the super lightweight ones to see if that’d help.

    4. Sandy*

      Our seven month old has now done four 12 hour plus flights plus another six 4-6 hour ones, so I feel like I may have some tips.

      -stroller and car seat combo is awesome. Most (international, at least) airlines will let you check the car seat for free, then the baby stays in the stroller until you actually board the plane.

      -the bassinet row has been a mixed blessing for us. Our baby won’t go anywhere NEAR the bassinet. On the other hand, we get less glares from people if we’re that row- something about expecting a baby to be there.

      -babies under 2 travelling for free on your lap sounds awesome until you try it. They get hot, they get sweaty, you get hot, you get sweaty… Those seats are cramped for one person nowadays, let alone two. I realize that empty seats are rare nowadays, but hope you get a spare beside you or pay the child’s fare for a seat (depending on the airline, it can be half to 3/4 of the adult fare)

      -always bring a change of outfit for the baby. Airline poops can be seriously explosive. Between bottles, wipes, diapers, burp cloths, etc. for the baby, I’ve never had enough room to pack a change of clothes for myself.

      -don’t give your baby Benadryl yo try and sedate them. It only works sometimes, on some babies, and it can make them more irritable. Do pack some baby Atylenol- the change in pressure often exacerbates teething pain.

      -by far the worst part of travelling with a baby isn’t the baby themselves- it’s the parents’ fear of wrath from the other passengers. It’s real! And babies pick up on your nervousness. Stay calm and try to take everything in stride.

      1. Revanche*

        I’m taking notes. Thanks! And this is not the first time I’ve wondered if the in lap thing was a terrible idea but very much appreciate the vote against inlap.

    5. Mephyle*

      Babies get dehydrated on the plane. Bring a bottle for water even if your baby is breast-fed.
      As already mentioned, at least two changes of clothing easily accessible, several cloths, and a couple of plastic bags.
      When you sit down, locate the airsick bag and pull it up so it’s sticking partly out of the seat pocket and easily accessible. Mentally rehearse grabbing it and putting it into position so that if/when the moment comes, you are ready to deploy it in a split second – whether for you or the baby.

  16. Chairs*

    The local fire station is down the street from my apartment, and I pass it multiple times a day. Would it be nice and sweet or weird and creepy if I brought them baked goods one day?

    1. Samantha*

      I think it’s a nice gesture. Around where I live, fire stations are always asking for bottled water and Gatorade in the summer. That could be another option in case there are people who are uncomfortable eating homemade goods from someone they don’t know.

      1. Rebecca*

        I second the bottled water/Gatorade idea. My Dad is a volunteer fireman, and they carry bottled water on their trucks and go through a lot of it at fire scenes, especially in the warmer months.

        1. Jazzy Red*

          I hear you on that!

          Last year during the summer, two of my smoke alarms went off. I didn’t smell smoke or see anything, but I called and they came. It was really hot out, and I felt so bad for these guys, all suited up, and doing their jobs. I gave them all the cold water I had in my fridge. There was no fire anywhere in my house (they checked it thoroughly, waited, checked again, then their “boss” checked everything with a meter, so I believed them when they said I could go back in).

          Anyway, bottled water or Gatorade would be well appreciated, I’m sure. (Just the fact that you want to do something nice for them will be appreciated!)

    2. A Dispatcher*

      All the firefighters I know and work with would love this, but maybe not from someone they’ve not yet met. Ours do a lot of community outreach type things and pancake breakfasts, if yours do the same I might go an introduce yourself there first, then at some later date do the baked goods.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Really? I live four blocks from a fire station and rarely see anybody. Though they did come round a few months ago and put a smoke detector in my hallway (the old one had malfunctioned during the ice storm and I never replaced it). But I’ve lived in this neighborhood sine 2002 and that is the first time it has ever happened.

        1. A Dispatcher*

          It might depend if your department is volunteer or not. The ones that do more in the community in my area are volunteer because it’s a good way yo fundraise.

        2. Lily in NYC*

          It’s all about location! In DC and my first NYC apartment, the FD near me had huge doors that opened onto the sidewalk so the firemen were always around and visible so you got to “know” them after walking by every day. But where I live now is completely different – I don’t even know where the nearest station is.

          1. Jazzy Red*

            Find out where it is. If it’s close by, call you insurance agent and tell her, and maybe you can get a discount.

            1. Lily in NYC*

              I live in a very urban environment and don’t have homeowner’s insurance (it’s a rental). I hear sirens all day long!

    3. Alma*

      It is a great idea. When we were wee little ones (under 5 yrs old) Mom baked a cake and took us to our neighborhood fire house. We thanked them for keeping us safe, and got to look at the trucks and the fire pole.

      For someone new in the neighborhood, it would be a good time to say “we just moved into the blue house on the corner…” and let them know if you have pets in the home. In our part of the world the fire station has free smoke detectors, or can tell you where they need to be installed. AND you can ask when their major events are held. This is especially appreciated by volunteer fire departments.

    4. nep*

      I’ve sent gift baskets (fruit/chocolate/crackers…) anonymously to our local first responders a few times, and last year — after flooding and a major cleanup job — to our public works staff. I think it’s a fantastic idea. It’s good to let them know they’re appreciated, especially first responders.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      That’s a great idea. Introduce yourself first, then explain you pass by daily– all before you give them the treats.
      However, be aware that there are companies like one near me. They discuss how people who avoid sugar, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol deal with the stresses of the job better than those who do not watch their intake of these things. If you do this more than once you might want to find out what is popular with the crew, what most people will enjoy.

    6. Today's Satan*

      I’m going to do this for my local station. They came out to shut off the natural gas to my house last weekend (a newly installed gas line had a lead), and the firemen were *hot*!!! Since it would be bad form to manufacture another leak, or a small fire, or a cat up a tree, I think the best thing to do is to bake them some cookies or brownies. :-)

      1. Revanche*

        *laughs* You remind me of a coworker who once had the good fortune to be on duty when the firemen had to be called in. She was somewhat tempted to allow another urgent call situation develop but couldn’t think of anything that she could do in good conscience. :)

    7. schnapps*

      I suggest you do that on a sunny day when the firemen are washing the firetrucks outside.


    8. Noah*

      It is common, so it wouldn’t be weird or creepy. I was a paramedic in college and we would often get goodies brought in from the neighborhood we were stationed it. I can’t speak for everyone, but I appreciated the thought and the baked goods.

    9. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I used to volunteer, and it’s not weird or creepy, even if you haven’t spoken to them and they’ve never been to your house. Heck, I know at least one chain restaurant offered a 5% or 10% (can’t remember which) discount card to police, fire, and EMS. It’s not necessary or even expected, but it’s nice to feel that, even if we haven’t saved that particular person, they are kind of saying that they know we’re there if there’s ever an incident.

  17. Dynamic Beige*

    It’s been a weird day. When I left this morning to go to my writing group, “someone” had left I’m not sure what that had been killed and chewed and swallowed then thrown up on my back walkway. Yick.

    After the writing group, I was going to check out one of the yoga places in town. But on the way, I decided to pop in to an office share place (it was closed) and wound up in a store next door that does liquidation… where I found someone’s wallet and phone on a piece of furniture. So here’s a puzzler: how do you contact a complete stranger when you’re holding their phone? Fortunately, her office was open, so I spoke with someone there that I would bring it by in a while. Then her phone rang — it was her son and after quickly explaining what the problem was (the battery was low), within 5 minutes I was speaking to the owner. We arranged to meet where she was, which turned out to be in the same strip mall I was going to anyway. She gave me $20, I tried to give it back because it was no big deal but she insisted. Weird how that worked out.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      I once found a mobile and bag in my charity shop. I called “home” and then when nobody answered, called their last dialled number to pass on a message that they’d left their phone and bag.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I found some guys wallet in Lisbon when I was on holiday, there was no obvious way to get hold of him but there was a membership card for the London zoological society, I emailed them and they were able to pass my contact details on to him.

      1. Chocolate Teapot*

        I once found a mobile phone on the ground and, since I was late to work, decided to take it with me and then drop it off at the police station that evening, as they handle lost property.

        Mid-afternoon, the phone rang, so I answered it. The conversation went a bit like this:

        Chocolate Teapot: Hello?
        Man on phone: Hello. Can I speak to Mrs X?
        Chocolate Teapot: Perhaps you can help me. I found this phone and want to give it back to its owner. Do you know who that is?
        Man on phone: Yes, she’s right next to me. How have you got this phone?
        Chocolate Teapot: I found it on the ground, it must have dropped out of a pocket.
        Man on phone: (Sounding agressive) So what are you going to do with the phone.
        Chocolate Teapot: Well obviously, I would like to give it back to its owner.
        Man on phone: Are you going to do that?
        (By this stage, it was feeling very uncomfortable, as if I was being accused of stealing.)
        Chocolate Teaport: Yes, I will hand it in at the police station in town.
        Man on phone: (still sounding very agressive) When?
        Chocolate Teapot: Today, after 5.00pm
        Man on phone: But are you actually going to do that?
        Chocolate Teapot: Yes. I want to make sure it is returned to its owner
        Man on phone: See that you do. (In a tone which made me think he thought I wouldn’t)

        By this stage, I was wondering what on earth was happening, but I thought that the police were the best people to deal with it. So, off I went to the lost property office, and as I was walking through the door, a woman with a pushcahir was waiting for me. “Oh, that’s my phone. Thank you,” she said. Fortunately I made sure the duty officer was watching the exchange, but it was very odd that there was no thanks from the strange man on the phone, and I did not speak to the woman who owned it.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          You know, every time I’ve found something on the street/wherever and returned it, the person who received it has been very happy to get it back, like yesterday. I mean, if you had stolen that phone and were planning on selling it, would you answer it? No. Would you then go on to have a reasonable conversation about who the owner was and how might you get in touch with them so you could return it? No. Would you then say you were going to take it to a police station if you were some kind of criminal mastermind? No. I guess some people just have zero faith in humanity.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Maybe I am too cynical but I would be wondering if that man was projecting something about himself on to me. For example, he might not actually bring it to a police station therefore it was easy for him to assume I wouldn’t bring it to a police station.
            Am shaking my head, Chocolate said s/he ANSWERED the phone when it rang, grrrr. In all likelihood, a person who answers a lost phone does so because they are trying to find the owner. People don’t answer the phone if they want to make it their own. If it were my lost phone and someone answered I would be a bit optimistic that I might actually get the phone back.

        2. Rose*

          That is so weird. It kind of sounds like he was being accusatory about you possibly stealing the items you found. But if you were stealing it, would you really call and just…announce it to the person?

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Well the female owner seemed really happy to have her phone back, and the police officer witness said something about how nice it was for somebody to be reunited with their lost property. I wonder if there was something odd between her and agressive man on the phone.

    1. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: photographer has taken photo’s of my flat and person came round to do the survey. No category 3’s, yey! (immediate work needing done) just 1’s and 2’s which is much in keeping with the date of the building (1900’s). Which means my flat should go on the market this coming week!

      Worst: didn’t get the flat I really wanted and haven’t heard back from my 2nd choice. My dad also told me that “I wasn’t trying hard enough” and I almost, could have swung at him. Gahhhhh.

    2. danr*

      Best: It’s hot and I can grill outside almost every night. It’s also the Balloon Festival weekend and if we’re lucky we’ll see the balloons fly overhead.
      Worst: the deer are dashing around in the mornings and evenings. It makes driving an adventure.

    3. QualityControlFreak*

      Best: kind spouse who doesn’t mind taking care of me
      Worst: sick all week and still struggling

      1. nep*

        Sorry to hear that. Wishing you healing. Lovely that you’ve got a kind spouse there to take care of you.

    4. Cristina in England*

      Best: I had such a fun day out with my toddler. We went out to lunch and spent the afternoon in a bookstore.
      Worst: Stepping in cat poo and then, halfway through cleaning the doormat, remembering that pregnant women aren’t supposed to clean litter boxes or otherwise go near cat poo because of the risk of toxoplasmosis.

    5. Nashira*

      Best: Saw my new psychiatrist finally and it went really well! It’s amaaaaazing what a couple of nights of good sleep do for my crazy brain, daaaang.

      Worst: Got a migraine so I have to miss out on a bbq with my friends, again. Le sigh.

    6. Shell*

      It’s been a messy week, y’all.


      -The ex I mentioned in last weekend’s open thread texted me out of the blue, apologized for being a flake, and we went out for dinner together on Wednesday to catch up and chat. We don’t work as partners in the long haul, but we are still very, very compatible in senses of humour and other stuff, and he was a very bright spot in a very, very bad week.

      -I have a coffee date tomorrow with a guy I’ve been chatting with on OKC. We’ll see how it goes; I feel like this will be awkward because conversation will be in real-time instead of by emails.



      -Monday I had the following: 15 minutes of sleep all night, a dishwasher flood (made me late to work), and a bug infestation that necessitated five hours in the kitchen cleaning up. By myself. Brother was out for the evening and parents are on vacation. The week proceeded to go downhill from there.

      – Thursday I discover ANOTHER spawning location of said bugs in my kitchen. I may never feel clean again.

      -Work was super sucky and will continue to be so, through no fault of anyone in particular but just the way the cookie (well, exchange rate) is crumbling.

      -I still want to murder my family over the bugs because it was entirely preventable (I’ll spare y’all the rant as to why. Trust me, it was completely my parents’ fault).

      Hoping for a better week next week…2.5 weeks until my parents come back and then this will be their problem.

    7. CrazyCatLady*

      Best: It’s the weekend!

      Worst: Out and about for much longer than usual today (I am not a social person, going to the mall for hours is exhausting), have a headache, sore feet, finally get home… and cat has first seizure in months. -_-

      1. KAZ2Y5*

        Best: after being laid off 9 months ago, I started my new (awesome) job this week. With a 20% increase in salary!

        Worst: luckily I have a new job now, because my dog has liver problems and they haven’t been able to figure it out yet. He has been on pills for a month to help and they really didn’t help (according to the latest blood work). So we are trying a different type of pill, and they want to do an ultrasound of his liver. And still no arthritis pills so he can barely stand on our smooth floors :-( He does get a double dose of glucosamine, which helps some. And since I have a new job I really can’t take off now to do this, so it will be at least a couple of weeks before we can get this done. At least I can pay for it!

    8. Ruffingit*

      Best: Got some good sleep on Thursday night, which made Friday much easier at work. Had to go home 30 minutes early on Thursday with a headache and just general exhaustion. Also, discovered a new Italian restaurant nearby that is delicious!

      Worst: Work continues to suck out my will to live. Or at least my will to control my homicidal impulses.

    9. Elizabeth West*

      Best: THAT IT IS OVER. This entire week has been a huge bucket of suck.

      Worst: I found out we are not having practice ice on weekends for the next three weeks. I don’t know when I will get to skate again. I’m sitting here with freshly sharpened skates (after a couple of weeks off until I could send them to my skate guy because they were so dull I couldn’t use them), and a new Zuca bag and I can’t do anything with them.

      I feel as though the Universe is slowly removing things from me and I have no idea why. I’ve been tired of skating lately, but not to the point of quitting–if I quit, I literally have nothing to do at the weekend and there is nothing to replace it. :(

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I like to watch the ebb and flow of life. Mostly because I really notice the ebbs and not so much the flows. When things get really quiet that can be because we are going to get VERY busy in the near future. The quiet time allows us to prepare.
        I kind of blew it this winter. I should have worked on a few more things around here. Now with summer it’s been crazy busy and those things that I did not take care of are in my way BIG TIME. I cannot believe I let these relatively small but nagging things slide. It’s been a big deal.
        Maybe this is the case for you, too? You have a lot of stuff that you put out there and things could change suddenly, stuff could start happening in your life. Maybe this is supposed to be a period of rest or a period of getting ready for the next Big Thing?

    10. Colleen*

      BEST: Just booked a two-week vacation in St. John, USVI for January 2016.
      WORST: Monday, I attended the funeral of a good friend and neighbor who died about a week ago.

    11. Cath in Canada*

      Best: it rained! Like, properly! We really, really needed it (forest fires all over the province, smoke in the air in the city, stage 3 (of a total of 4 stages) water restrictions, low reservoir volumes), but I also just really, really like rain. I call it Glasgow syndrome – the Scottish equivalent of Stockholm syndrome – i.e. if you live there for long enough you manage to convince yourself that you really actually love the rain :) And Vancouver is much less rainy than Glasgow. I had to fight the urge to go outside and dance in the rain – there’s probably all kinds of nasty stuff dissolved in it. If the forecast that it’ll rain tomorrow holds true, I’ll go and dance in it then.

      Worst: insomnia flare on Sunday and Monday resulted in it feeling like the longest work week EVAH.

        1. Windchime*

          I’m just a couple hours south of you and we also got rain yesterday and today. Not much; just a bit of a sprinkle here and there. But it’s enough to make things feel nice and cool again.

          1. StillHealing*

            BEST: I’m in Seattle and so happy it rained. The cooler weather is a welcome break.
            The rained knocked a lot of small plums, semi-ripe and many green out of our plum trees. We need more rain for sure…..the plums need to fill out more and everything else is dried up and losing leaves already. Ahh..it just started raining again as I’m typing this!

            WORST: Trying to divorce my cheating husband. So far, all the work, all the legal and filing costs have come out of my pocket $1500 to date and all been up to me to handle. He won’t reimbursement me for half. He won’t communicate until pushed then totally lies and never follows through on anything he said he’d do. He sounds completely miserable and unhappy with everything in his life – but that’s on him. He made the choices that got him where he is today. He’s been living back east with his affair partner now for several weeks and working at his new job for five. He has not been paying maintenance as he agreed to do. I wish my son and I did not need any money from him to survive. I really want this divorce over and to have nothing to do with my hopefully soon to be exhusband – ever again.

    12. Trixie*

      Best: I was about 30 minutes from home, shopping and lunch for the day out of town. A young woman came up to me and said she’s a regular in my yoga class and really enjoys it. I don’t expect constant reassurance from anyone in my class but I so appreciate any feedback so this was pure bonus. Also, job hunt looks interesting with two potential internal positions at the gym where I teach.

      Worst: Realized I’m not being diligent about sunscreen on my hands. Hello, sunspots. Also, just rediscovered my elbows in the mirror by accident. When did they become so wrinkled?!

    13. anonymous daisy*

      Best – I saw Trainwreck and loved it. When it was over, we debated seeing it a second time right afterwards. We decided to wait a few days and then we will see it again. Who knew Lebron James would be a scene stealer?

      Worst – when we got home, I returned the call that I missed because I was in the movie. News of an old friends child’s suicide.

    14. Jader*

      Best- Finally had my appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist, got some meds and a pretty positive prognosis.

      Worst- Travel super messes with my schedule and I was so grumpy yesterday. I’m still trying to get my sleep schedule back on track.

      1. Elkay*

        Best: Went to a retro gaming night last night which was good fun (if a little poorly organised)
        Worst: The company that I’ve booked a holiday through keeps promising (and failing) to call me back about compensation for the massive disruption to my trip, I’ve currently got a good offer on the table but I countered it for something else and I fear I’ll lose the whole offer (it’s like job hunting!)

    15. Elkay*

      Crap, I didn’t mean to nest that comment.

      Here it is again
      Best: Went to a retro gaming night last night which was good fun (if a little poorly organised)
      Worst: The company that I’ve booked a holiday through keeps promising (and failing) to call me back about compensation for the massive disruption to my trip, I’ve currently got a good offer on the table but I countered it for something else and I fear I’ll lose the whole offer (it’s like job hunting!)

    16. Rose*

      Best: Even though my husband is out of town and that usually makes me really sad, I have friends over all weekend to watch cartoons and play with my new kittens.

      Worst: I’m 90% sure I’m being bullied at work (nebulous, mean girls-type bullying in a way) and the daily jabs are really getting to me. I cried in front of my supervisor on Friday because I feel like I can’t figure out who likes me (if anyone) and who doesn’t. Unfortunately, I can’t prove that I’m being targeted, and my supervisor is inexperienced and doesn’t really know what to do.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Did you hit Friday’s forum with the mean girls situation? (I did not get to read all the way through yet.) If no, why not post about it next Friday?

    17. fposte*

      Best: antibiotics officially help my Crohn’s stuff, big time, and they are now officially a part of my management. After losing 20 pounds since March, I gained back 5 of them in a week, and enjoyed it thoroughly.

      Worst: 1) I asked for antibiotics for this a full *year* ago. The vindication is sweet, but it wasn’t worth a year of illness.
      2) I need to dial back the celebrating so I don’t gain 5 pounds *every* week :-).

    18. Windchime*

      Best: Sister came over and helped me organize my sewing room/office. She is a neat nick and we were able to get a huge bag of garbage, a huge box of recycling, and I will also be spending the next few nights doing shredding.

      Worst: It was a very unproductive week at work. The big boss is kind of disengaged and people are upset about our coworker being fired. We all understand why, but it was very sad to come to work on Tuesday and see his cube empty, as if he never existed.

    19. manomanon*

      Best- my family visited and there was minimal fighting!
      Worst- nothing went right at work- thankfully it’s a brand new week tomorrow!

  18. Billy*

    In late 2013, I noticed some white patches on my beard and I was 27 at the time.

    Well,two years later,at 29, I have more white hairs on my face. This whole phenomena has caught me off by surprise.

    If I were in my 40s or 50s–no problem,but late 20s?

    Who has had an experience where a bf/hubby/friend experienced this before?

    1. Stephanie*

      I started getting gray hairs when I was a teen. I now have a whole chunk in the front of my hair (I’m in my late 20s). I tried dyeing it a couple of times, but it just dried it out too much. I actually get lots of compliments on it, so I just own it at this point. Only frustrating thing is that it’s a completely different texture from the rest of my hair.

      Sometimes gray hair can be the result of a vitamin deficiency, so I’d get a full work up by your doctor to rule that out.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Not in terms of men, but I know a few women who were grey before 30. I don’t think there’s any guarantee for anyone of keeping hair colour (anywhere) until 40. You can get beard colour, or just not have a beard if it bothers you. On the other hand, there are men who have brown hair and red beards.

      I developed a patch of white hairs on my head in my early 20’s and some white eyelashes. But I have vitiligo so I’m losing colour all over the place.

    3. Cath in Canada*

      I got my first white hair when I was 19. I used to just pull the white ones out, but now (I’m 38) I don’t really bother – I’d have bald patches! I sometimes dye my hair red (it’s naturally brown – the red bits that used to be in there are the ones that turned white), but at other times I just let the white streaks show. A colleague once said “I love how you’ve dyed silver highlights into your hair” and I said “yeah, let’s go with that”!

      My husband and both of his brothers have brown hair, and used to have red streaks in their beards, on either side of their chins. The red bits are now white on all of them. The last time they all had beards, I took a great photo of the three of them with their matching badger stripes! They all have salt-and-pepper hair now (my husband is turning into a silver fox!), but their beards started to turn first. I think that’s pretty common.

      1. Myrin*

        Yeah, red hair seems to become white pretty easily/early. I’m a 24 year old redhead who hasn’t experienced any of it yet (I do have a streak of grey-ish blonde at my nape but it’s always been like that) but my mum, whose hair was more of a strawberryblonde than “real” red, now has white hair where the “truly” red streaks were and a muddy grey colour everywhere else. Some for my uncle, who had brown hair but a red beard which also turned white way before his top hair started greying.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Wait, what?! This is different from what I’ve always been told. I’ve always been told by older redheads that my hair would gradually get lighter and sandier but never really go grey or white. (So far, at 42, it hasn’t changed color at all, and I’m wondering when it’s likely to happen.)

          1. Cath in Canada*

            Maybe it depends on if you’re a full redhead, vs. a brunette with some red hairs? Or on the shade of red, or maybe just on luck. My paternal grandmother was fully red until the day she died at 78 (she swore that she never dyed it even once, and she wasn’t a vain woman, so I believe her); my dad was more of a gingery red and did the gradual fade to sandy and is now fully white at 68 (do NOT get me started on the combover).

            1. Seal*

              My late father and 2 of his sisters were brown-eyed redheads. Their hair color faded over the years but none of them went completely gray. In fact, my dad’s hair was still red well into his 50s; his beard went gray before the rest of his hair did.

              On the other hand, my mother was a blue-eyed brunette who went gray by the time she was 30; at 81 her hair is now completely white. My hair was reddish brown until I started coloring it red in my late 20s. Based on my roots, I started going gray in my late 30s-early 40s, although most people think I’m a natural redhead. At some point I suspect I’m going to have to stop coloring my hair and let it go gray, but I’m dreading the inevitable transition period.

              1. Artemesia*

                I transitioned from brunette to grey by letting a streak grow out and then adding to it a bit at a time in front so I was graying gradually. I did this the last year I worked and then when I retired just let the rest grow out. I see from pictures that the process was not quite as seamless as it seemed to me in the mirror but it did make it somewhat easier than having a hard line growing out. I did a little streaking in back during the transition to so that the back also greyed somewhat gradually. Based on my roots I thought I would be white when it grew out but there is actually still enough dark hair that I am grey — actually a cool color. Wish you could dye white hair to get this nice grey.

          2. Myrin*

            At least in my family, the red-hairs-become-white thing is definitely a trend – not only with my mum and uncle, as said above, but my grandfather as well, and I’m told his aunt and grandmother who also had red hair experienced the same. It’s probably not universal, though, as I guess there are other genetic things at play here? (Like Cath says, though, I also have a feeling it depends a bit on “how much” of a redhead you are – as far as I can tell, I’m the first and only full redhead in the family and the people whose hair change we could and can observe all had red hair mixed in with something else, the red hairs later becoming white. I guess I’ll be the ultimate person to find out, then?)

          3. edj3*

            My husband is a 48 y/o redhead and he’s got no white/silver/grey on his head. His beard is a different story but since I dislike facial hair immensely, he’s kind enough to stay clean shaven unless I’m out of town.

          4. RR*

            I’m a redhead in late 40s. My hasn’t gone grey or white yet, but I’ve noticed in the past year it’s gotten darker — closer to brown. As a child, I had a neighborhood who said her hair color was the same as mine (think copper more than carrot top), but that her hair went completely white in her late 50s.

          5. blackcat*

            I think it depends on where you get your redheaded DNA from… My grandmother never went gray, just strawberry blonde (bright read until her 50s, fading in her 60s, strawberry blonde in her 70s when she passed). But my uncle (by marriage) went completely gray by his 40s.

            FWIW, I seem to be going darker red (in my late 20s). None of the redheads in my family have done this, but I’m slowly getting more and more curly auburn hairs (as opposed to my straight copper colored hair). It’s the same texture as my husband’s gray hairs (he has straight brown hair but gets thick, curly grays every now and then). I mentioned this once to someone who said that her dad had done exactly that–started with straight red hair and ended up with an auburn ‘fro in his 40s. I am not looking forward to that possibility.

    4. Liz in a Library*

      I’ve had a pretty substantial amount of grey since my mid-20s. My husband has almost none in his hair, but about half of his eyebrows are grey and have been since late 20s.

      1. Windchime*

        I noticed the other day that my 27 year old son was getting a lot of gray in his hair. Actually, he is lucky that he still *has* hair. His brother is almost 30 and has started shaving his head because he felt it was getting too thin.

    5. Alicia*

      My spouse has brown hair, but his beard is more reddish. When his hair started to go grey, his beard got “tufts” of white. He’s 35, but it’s been like this for a few years. I like it personally, but if you don’t like the look of it, it’s much less noticeable (on him, anyway) when he keeps his beard short, or just “scruff” length.

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      My husband has had a mix of dark brown, red and gray in his beard since high school (the hair on his head is dark brown, nearly black). Some of the gray is sprinkled throughout and some is in patches. It looks AWESOME. Go with it!

    7. QA Lady*

      I started going grey when I turned 15. Used to pluck out the grey hairs but there are too many now–I’m blaming my kids as each pregnancy multiplied them exponentially. I dye it sometimes. Most of the time I don’t bother.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Not in a beard (because I don’t have one) but I found my first grey hair at 28. I freaked. I’ve been dying it ever since. I later found out premature greying can be one of the symptoms of thyroid disease (and this happened about the same time as the onset of symptoms). I second the workup thing.

    9. AcademicAnon*

      I guess for some people white is better than bald? SO has a cousin who started losing his hair in his early 20s. Myself I started going white (hair is light enough I just kinda skipped gray) in my mid 20s. If you have the time and money I highly recommend getting your hair, beard or head, professionally dyed. It does last much longer, and it’s less messy. Just get the allergy test done first.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      Some folks believe that the graying is from nutritional deficiencies or stress. From my own experience I kind of agree, I started turning white in my teens. However, my father went white at a very early age also. I could be predisposed to it.

      One time I was talking with a social worker. I mentioned a child (5-7 years old, roughly) that I knew of that had one spot of pure white hair on his head- it was almost round in shape. The rest of his hair was coffee colored- dark brown. The social worker said that was nutritional deficiencies. I thought that was interesting insight into hair color changes.

      It does not mean much though. The skin and body may or may not show age, even though the hair does.

      1. Meadowsweet*

        B vitamins apparently help you keep colour in your hair :)

        For the child I’d guess it was an albino patch – I had a friend in high-school who had a patch on his forehead (it cut his eyebrow in half)

        1. Windchime*

          There was a girl I knew in high school who had a gray streak at the front of her hair, which was dark brown everywhere else. It was really striking and pretty.

    11. Noah*

      I started getting grey hair in high school. It was the reason I bleached my hair, well that and frosted hair was in style at the time for some unknown reason. All those pictures should be burned, thank god it was pre-Facebook.

      I also shave everyday now because of the grey/white beard hair. I’m 31 and look way older if I don’t shave.

  19. S*

    I’m going to Chicago in September! I got a $53 one-way fare from Spirit last night… now I just gotta figure out when and how I’m gonna get home to LA.

    1. Phyllis*

      If you have about 4 days for return travel, the train from Chicago to LA is a pretty cool trip.

      1. S*

        I don’t, it’s going to be a weekend trip. I’m not too fussed because I’ve been to Chicago before and the only tourist site I’d want to see again is the Bean. Mainly I’m trying to bank up my vacation time for a few trips in 2016.

  20. bassclefchick*

    I would like to thank everyone (and Alison) for all the Game of Thrones references! I know, I know, I am VERY late to this particular party! BUT, I just started binge watching it and I CANNOT get enough!!! I’m halfway through season 3. I know the major plot stuff that’s coming up but it’s still been fun to watch it all unfold.

    I’ve been very curious about this show for a long time and I’m glad I jumped in!

    On a side note I also watch Outlander. Now, I have NOT read any of the Game of Thrones books (yet), but I’m still enjoying the show. I HAVE read everything Outlander. So, I’m coming at both series from different perspectives. New fan of GoT and been reading Outlander almost since the first book came out.

    Does anyone else watch both shows – and have you read the books? Outlander is a bit tough for me to watch because Caitriona Balfe does NOT match my internal vision of Claire. I love how she’s made the role her own, though and think she’s doing great! Sam Heughan, though, I LOVE, LOVE , LOVE as Jamie!!! Though his hair isn’t quite as red as I imagined Jamie’s to be.

    But here’s the thing – even Diana Gabaldon said to Put. The. Book. Down. She loves the show as is and couldn’t be happier, so who am I to complain.

    So, for both shows – if you read both sets of books and watch both shows, are you happy with them?

    1. bassclefchick*

      Oh, I kind of went into GoT thinking…”don’t get too attached to any character because everyone dies”. That’s held up pretty true so far. Though, I’ve heard Joffrey”s death isn’t nearly as heinous and painful as I want it to be! LOL

      1. Stephanie*

        Oh man, me too. I had been hesitant because I’m not the biggest fantasy fan, but I’m hooked. I’m also halfway through Season 3.

        1. bassclefchick*

          I love historical fiction. And I really like court politics. Any books set in Tudor England usually hook me! And I do like fantasy stuff, so I was pretty sure I’d like GoT. It’s JUST this side of being “too violent” for me, so I’ve been watching some of it (Theon’s “current” predicament) through covered eyes, but I REALLY want to see the Red Wedding episode and what happens to Cersei at the end of season 5. LOL

    2. Noni*

      I read the Outlander books years ago, and I’m enjoying the TV series. My biggest issue is that while Sam Heughan is great, they’ve created him as a bit weaker than I imagined him. I always saw him and Clare as strong equals, but in the series it seems she’s always right and he’s always apologising.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Also, too short! There are constant references in the books that he’s over 6′ tall and towers over Claire by a foot.

        When GoT was going to be turned into a TV series, I decided I’d read the books to see what all the fuss was about. I think maybe I’m not someone who should binge read. The first few books were really “I can’t wait to see what happens next!” But at some point during the fourth, I had had enough. I was noticing how repetitive the language was, all the good characters kept getting killed off, leaving the “bad” ones and from my perspective it just devolved into a lot of people being awful/raping, continual power plays and saying catch phrases. About 150 pages into the last one, I suddenly wished for a nuclear weapon to just slam into the middle of it and destroy everyone because it. was. never. going. to. end. If that guy lives long enough to publish another one, I’m only going to read it if there’s an end. But, I have a feeling that like with Dune, someone is going to take over the franchise and continue on with Dragon Children of Westeros or prequels or something.

        And if I’m being honest, I kind of feel the same way about the Outlander series. I got to a certain place in the most recent book and I was just… meh. How many times can two people almost die only to be reunited? I haven’t finished it. I’m not sure if I’ll pick it up again.

        1. bassclefchick*

          All very good points! I’m already sick of “you know nothing, Jon Snow”!

          I’m still very hooked on the Outlander series. I’m looking at the show as a great recap of what I read. It’s hard keeping track of what goes on in 8 books that are all well over 800 pages!

          I actually picked up the first GoT book, decided the print was too small for me and gave up within 3 or 4 pages. Maybe if I tried it on my Kindle where I can control the font size, I’d do better!

    3. Elizabeth West*

      I don’t watch either of those (and can’t because I turned off my satellite tv to save money), but I’ve been watching Poldark. I’d like to read the novels one of these days.

      I want a guy like Ross Poldark. He can look like that, too. >:)

      1. bassclefchick*

        Ha! I can’t afford Starz or HBO either! I belong to a Facebook group that posts both shows. And Poldark. I may have to start that one once I race through GoT!

      2. anonymous daisy*

        Poldark – wasn’t that the worst marriage proposal ever? I don’t want to say who said what to whom due to spoilers but when you outdo the ones in Pride and Prejudice, you are on a new level. I love the show but would it have killed him to say he loved her?

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          You mean who Poldark marries? If that’s the one you’re referring to, I think at that point he really didn’t know he did — social conditioning about what was right and proper and all that. But the thing is, it’s a good choice. I’ve found myself thinking a couple of times as I watched that if he had chosen another, that person wouldn’t have been as “roll up your sleeves and get to it”, which is what he needs at that place. Not someone who’s going to complain that she can’t buy a new hat or that she has to embroider in cotton because they can’t afford silk or some other such crap.

          1. anonymous daisy*

            It’s not who he asked, it is that he never said he loved her or even that he liked her. It was sort of a ‘well I suppose I’ll marry you’ (I am still trying to not put the actual words down because of the spoiler aspect).

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              Well, it was kind of yucky, but it could have been worse. He could have just kicked her out. Everybody was already assuming that he was taking liberties with her.

              But like I said, I don’t think he really knew his own mind at the time he did it. Now he’s “waking up” to the fact that he does like and love her. You have to remember that way back in those days marriage for the upper set wasn’t about love primarily, it was about keeping property all in the gentry. People routinely married others they didn’t love because they were of the right class/had the right dowry/money.

    4. YandO*

      Watch both shows
      Read all GOT books
      Have Outlander books but have not read them

      Outlander is a hit and miss for me. I like when they take on challenging topics like rape, violence, and so on
      I dislike when they go all romantic. I know it’s a romance more than anything, but sometimes it is too much

      I liked GOT’s first season and it just gradually been going downhill from there. I’ve basically hated the last season.

      1. bassclefchick*

        I”m not sure I’d classify Outlander as a romance. Not the books, anyway. I follow the author’s facebook page and she’s said several times even SHE doesn’t know what genre it is! And her publishers had NO idea what to do with the book either. Yes, it’s a love story about Claire and Jamie, but it’s also about the history of the highlands and the adventure of time travel. It most certainly is NOT what one would think of when the term “bodice ripper” is used!

        I have to admit, even though I’ve been reading the books for years, when watching the show I get a bit confused on who some of the characters are. Not the main cast (Claire, Jamie, Black Jack/Frank, Column, Dougal), but some of the others, like Murtaugh.

    5. I'm an astronaut's wife and this is a matter of national security!*

      Not especially related to GoT or Outlander except that it’s about “good television”: has anybody been watching Mr. Robot on USA? The most recent episode S01E05 was easily the best so far.

      (It’s about a young fellow who is a computer hacker in NYC, and I don’t really want to give any more away for fear of ruining someone’s enjoyment of the show. But the main character is quite engaging, in some odd way. And the main ‘bad guy’ (Tyrell) has been pulling off some epic David Lynch-style bad guy moves).

    6. Honeybee*

      I couldn’t get into Game of Thrones the television show, and I’m only halfway through A Song of Ice and Fire the book series. My stance is that GRRM really needs a good editor to help him cut out some of the unnecessary detail and fluff in the books.

      I have not yet watched the Outlander series. I read the first book and am midway through the second – I was late t the train. I LOVE the Outlander books so far. I agree that Jamie looks quite a bit different from the way I imagined him – I like my head canon a lot more, lol. Interestingly enough, Caitriona Balfe looks almost exactly the way I imagined Claire in my head. She’s got this very pretty/delicate yet tough look.

    7. Windchime*

      I am almost done with book 4 of Outlander. I haven’t seen the TV series (yet). I’ve seen pictures of the actress and actor and I have to say that they don’t match my internal visions at *all* of the characters. I always pictured Jamie to be a lot rougher around the edges (rather than “pretty”, as the actor seems to be) and bigger, with wild red hair.

      I read several of the Game of Thrones books and loved them. The first season of the show pretty much matched the books exactly, and then things kind of started veering a little (but other things were the same). I really enjoyed the series and have watched all the episodes at least twice.

  21. Carrie in Scotland*

    I’ve never gone to a gym or fitness class (I’m almost 30) but it’s getting to the point where I should, for fitness/health issues as well as the whole improving your mental health. A benefit of my current and new job is free membership to their gym. The problem is, obviously I’m unfit and I’m scared of the whole thing.

    Help/advice/tips? What kind of classes should I go for? Nobody will actually care what I’m doing, right!?

    1. Cristina in England*

      Don’t try to force yourself to like it. I hate having instructors shout at me to suck it in or lift higher or push harder. I just exercise alone instead.
      Of course, if you have never been you should try a lot of different types of classes to see what you naturally gravitate towards. Do a yoga, a boot camp, Zumba, spinning, do everything! (not in the same week obvs!)
      Also try different times of day. You might be a morning exerciser on the way to work, or a lunch time person, or an on the way home person. Just have fun and get to know your own preferences. Enjoy!!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Currently I’m not a morning anything… ;) Thanks for the tips. I don’t like being singled out so I’d hate being told to be quicker etc.

        1. Cristina in England*

          If it is a uni or college gym you can ask your new colleagues for recommendations too. A uni or college might have more interesting activities than a Glasgow Club or a private gym as well. At my old uni gym they had trampolining one evening a week. It was fun and much more of a workout than you’d think! That sort of thing was only term-time so keep your eyes out in September/October.

        2. Charlotte Collins*

          I love yoga for this. If you have a good instructor, it’s all about doing what’s right for your body and modifying poses as needed. Even if you’re in a full class, you can feel like you’re all by yourself in a way. But there are many, many different kinds of yoga, so you might want to look into what they teach. Most places have a beginner’s class, so that you can learn the poses. Kundalini is nice for beginners, too.

          I’ve taken Iyengar, which is more vigorous – you definitely feel it the next day. But they use lots of props, which is fun. You have to like getting yourself upside down, though.

          Zumba is fun if you like to dance, and usually everyone gets kind of silly, so you don’t feel self conscious.

          I think the trick is to find out what you (and your body) like. I can’t stand any kind of step class, but some people love them. On the other hand, my stocky, curvy body loves weight training and circuit training.

      2. BRR*

        Yeah I don’t like classes. I feel “alone” doing my stuff with my music and that’s how I like it. Of course everybody is different. You have to figure out what you like. I thought I’d be a weekend exerciser but I enjoy going more right after work.

          1. Stephanie*

            Mostly agree with you. I will say stuff with moisture wicking is helpful, just because chafing is real and painful.

            That being said, the makers of activewear pump out enough clothes that that stuff is always on sale.

            1. BRR*

              I’ve been able to successfully raid the clearance section of the nike and under armor outlets during sale time. Not the best colors but who cares.

              1. Stephanie*

                I’m the same. I only have neutral activewear because a friend who worked for Nike gifted me some. Aside from that, I totally rock these turquoise leggings.

        1. Port of Indecision*

          This is completely a MMV thing. If I’m not in a class, I’m just going to get bored and start doing something else instead.

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      No, no one will really care what you are doing, I promise. I used to feel the same way, then my friend got me into going to BodyBalance classes (combination of yoga, Pilates and Tai Ch’i) and I loved it. I’ve done some of the other Body______ classes too but BodyBalance is my favourite. It is REALLY relaxing for me. I also used to do some Zumba classes, those were a LOT of fun and a great workout. If you enjoy dancing, those types of classes can be great as you don’t tend to notice how much you are working.

      As for the gym, my biggest tip is to get an introductory tour/demo from one of the staff, who will explain how things work, how to use the machines etc. If they offer a personalised workout plan or anything similar, it can be really helpful. Good ones will work with you to target the things you want to concentrate on and it can be really motivating. It also takes some of the fear of “doing it wrong” out of it.

      If you are scared, going with a friend can be good (but that may not be helpful for you if it’s through work I realise – maybe you could ask a friend to cheerlead before/after?). Also, you can ask the staff about times the gym is quiet, which might make it less daunting to start going. For classes, look for things that sound fun and are at a reasonable easy level to start with, and give them a try. If you don’t like it, try something else!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I have no friends in Glasgow! (yet) I do have a friend here that goes to the gym regularly so maybe we can do cheerleading via fb or something instead.

        Thanks for the tips.

        1. Trixie*

          I think I met all my friends through the gym which is awesome. I like the group classes because you can be as chatty or non-chatty as you like. You s tart to recognize faces and make a little chit chat, again if you want to. I had similar luck with hiking group in the past, making friends with folks you have common interests with. Pretty much can’t go wrong, plus you’re keeping active. Probably more so!

      2. Mephyle*

        Another fan of Body Systems here. In the U.S. and Canada, Body Balance is called Body Flow. I don’t know why I decided to try the classes in the first place, I thought it was not my thing, but once I actually tried it I was hooked from the first time. I like the other Body Systems classes I’ve tried, too. The one that really surprised me (in terms of how much I liked it) was Body Pump, the weight-lifting one. I never in a million years thought that lifting weights of any sort could be something I’d enjoy.

        My tip is to not judge a class or activity by watching others do it; only if I put my body into it and do it myself can I tell whether I like it.

        Also, if a class involves some sort of coordinated dance-like movement and at first you are lost trying to keep up with the instructor and the rest of the class, don’t give up. I find that it takes about three classes for me to feel like I’m not flailing about randomly and starting to enjoy it, but it’s worth sticking with it.

    3. WorkingFromCafeInCA*

      Go for it! I used to be terrified of going to a class too, but you’re right, no one cares at all. I promise, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a lot of other people hanging out in the back of the class also fumbling through the steps :)

      I like classes so much more than just going to the gym or working out on my own. Something about having other people around, and an instructor to call the shots, makes it so much more enjoyable to workout.

    4. Blue_eyes*

      Try lots of different classes and see what sticks. And don’t be afraid to try different instructors. I go to yoga a lot and I have one favorite instructor, some that I like just fine, and some that I would never go to again. People will not care what you are doing. Most classes (that I’ve been to) have ways to modify intensity so that everyone from beginners to the very fit can get in a good workout. Yoga is often particularly good at offering modifications and focusing on doing what you can with your body.

      1. Alma*

        Try the “yellow legal pad” method of discernment – what is important to you? (A place to shower and dress? Child care? Flexible hours? Plenty of trainers to be sure you’re not at risk of injury?) And what is an absolute NO? (My list included a preponderance of expensive workout wear, large classes, a place that was trying to get you to buy all sorts of add-ons, other patrons who were not considerate about cleansing the equipment.) The overall MUST have was I had to be able to walk out of there on my own volition, be able to get out of bed the next morning, and not have to work through pain for a week until my body decided it was useless to rebel.

        I found a Pilates studio (with the apparatus, not floor exercises), where the max number in the class would be six. I experienced no pain – it actually felt good, and a worthy challenge. As I became more practiced, after cool-down I would feel as if I had a great massage. The method worked for me.

      2. Steve G*

        IME yoga is exactly the type of exercise that does not offer modifications. Maybe the one I go to is a different type (it is a lot of cobra, upward and downward dog, warrior poses, tree pose..) the teacher never gave anyone a modification for them.

        1. Amandine*

          Yoga can absolutely be modified, and there are even tools like blocks and straps to help. Yoga gets modified for ability, injury/medical condition, pregnancy etc. Every yoga class I’ve ever taken has included suggestions to make the poses easier and more challenging, and a good instructor will work with their students and know if they need that sort of thing. Maybe if your classes are all at the same basic level the instructor doesn’t feel it’s necessary?

          1. Steve G*

            Maybe it is because I do the more basic stuff, but know that I know there are modification exercises, I am definitely gonna ask next time I’m having trouble doing something!

            1. Blue_eyes*

              Please do ask! Any yoga teacher worth their salt should be able to help you find ways to work on a pose without pain. If you’re ok with the instructor touching you they may also be willing to adjust you to help you achieve better alignment, which will likely make the pose feel better.

          2. fposte*

            If modifications are a big priority for you, look for Iyengar yoga–that’s where they really are a big thing. Miriam Austin’s Cool Yoga Tricks is basically a modifications bible, if you want suggestions. The little foam blocks are really cheap and easy to get (they’re at Target, even) if you think they’ll be helpful and you want to practice at home.

            There definitely are yoga teachers who push students when they shouldn’t be pushed, so I do think you want to find somebody who’s not interested in that. But there are plenty who aren’t.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              Anusara also offers a lot of modifications and “doing what your body needs right now” is important. Both are also very concerned about alignment, which helps you avoid injury in the more advanced poses.

              I like Kundalini for the focus on meditation. It’s very relaxing. When I took a class, we had 15 minutes of Corpse Pose! It was so refreshing…

        2. Blue_eyes*

          You may need to find a different instructor! Yoga can absolutely be modified in a ton of ways. My favorite instructor always asks at the beginning of class if anyone has particular conditions that they will need to modify for (bad knees, wrists, back pain, pregnancy, etc). Many instructors that I see also offer modifications as you go, such as having everyone get in to a simpler version of a pose and then giving increasingly difficult/deep variations that you can choose to try or not depending on how strenuous the pose is for you.

    5. Ruffingit*

      Start off on the treadmill, 30 minutes at a reasonable pace where you could talk to someone if you have to. Work up from there until you feel you have good endurance. This could take weeks or months, just to be clear. Then start with the classes if you’re so inclined. I say this because I’ve taken some classes when I was out of shape and damn, I wanted to die! It was torture. And I’m not talking the “come on, you can push yourself harder” type of thing, I’m talking my body not being anywhere near able to do it. So, working on endurance alone for awhile is what helped me.

      1. Honeybee*

        An alternative to this is to start out with classes that are built for beginners. Personally, I hate the treadmill and if I had had to start with the treadmill for months before I took classes, I would’ve never gotten active. I saw my endurance build over months of taking classes. The other thing is that any fitness instructor worth their salt will tell you not to do things, or to modify things, that make you uncomfortable or push you too far. When I first started doing classes there were lots of movements I modified or flat out didn’t do (anything with jumping and kneeling that engages my knees in uncomfortable ways I have to change).

        I agree with building endurance, definitely, but I’m just saying it doesn’t have to be on the treadmill.

        1. Ruffingit*

          You’re absolutely right. I enjoy the treadmill so I was kind of on that train of thought, but definitely build endurance in whatever it is you enjoy. Beginners classes are a good idea. I found that even those were too much for me when I was out of shape, but definitely worth a try since everyone is different.

    6. nep*

      You’ve got that last part right — most people are completely wrapped up in their own stuff and not caring what others are doing…And even if someone did take notice of what you’re up to, who cares? Truly you’ve got to honour yourself by doing this for your health and not be put off by what others might or might not be thinking.
      I don’t know the atmosphere at the gym where you’ve got a membership. Where I work, in every class everyone finds his / her level. Everyone’s different and at different stages of fitness. It’s not about competition (except maybe with self). You’re there to move your body, release stress, and take full advantage of something that will boost your health and state of well-being.
      The gym should allow people to observe some classes or try one or two without ‘committing’; get a feel for what works for you. It might not be a class at all but learning how to use some of the equipment or do bodyweight exercises on your own. (Perhaps the gym provides a complimentary session with a trainer who can help you with that.) You will find your groove — you’ll find what makes you tick and what makes you look forward to instead of dread a workout.
      Enjoy. Keep us posted.

    7. anonymous daisy*

      Don’t be that person who wears perfume or cologne to the gym. People are breathing hard and it is irritating to have to smell that. I have had to move to other machines when this one college guy is working out, he wears so much that my eyes start watering.

    8. Steve G*

      I’ve been running since I was 15 and going to gyms since 2000…..my thoughts would be:

      1) Yoga is a lot harder than it looks, sometimes when you peak in it looks like they are just standing there but it can be in a very difficult position and you don’t realize unless you’re doing it….so I wouldn’t necessarily start with yoga just because it looks easier. On the same note, if you do go to a trendy yoga place and it doesn’t feel that hard, then maybe they are simplifying it to attract customers. It should be challenging and make you sweat.
      2) Running to lose weight works until you’re in decent shape IME, if you start with jogging, you’ll eventually need to transition to something incorporating more muscle groups/breaks the routine
      3) My favorite class is TRX (where you do exercises via ropes hanging from the ceiling with handles). You can put your feet in the handles to hold your feet in the air to do ab exercises, or do 1/2 way pushups in the air, etc. I also love insanity fitness and bootcamp classes.

      The important thing is that someone can go to a bootcamp class and be out of shape if they MODIFY (though you might want to let the teacher know you’ll be modifying some steps). For all classes I go to, the instructor will do the exercise the “right” way, then show a modified version. The most known modification is a pushup-on-the-knees. If you can’t hold a plank, you can also do a plank on your knees. If the instructor has you jumping both feet off the ground to your waist, and its too hard, the modification is to do one knee above your waist at a time, without the jump. As long as you keep moving, the teacher is usually happy. There is no shame in modifying exercises to suit your fitness level or any problems you have. I hold my own during most parts of different classes, but jumping kills my knees, so I usually modify just that part….

      1. Steve G*

        I’ve also done P90X. Don’t let the ads you see for it intimidate you. You see these people with completely different bodies after a few months, and it is just so unrealistic, you’d have to be exercising to the point of nausea/dizziness to get those kind of results. A “real” P90X class is actually not that bad. A lot of the ones I’ve been to are different forms of squats – which anyone in reasonable health should be able to do – and a decent amount of pushup-related exercises (which you can do on your knees in the beginning).

        And as per your last question, no one is looking at you or judging you. Sometimes the regulars watch the newbies because they want to make sure you have the form down right. Or maybe you got the gist of a move quicker so we are trying to copy you. But we are usually too sweaty/hot/into it ourselves to be watching you and judging. And where I am the newbie (in yoga) I only look at people to copy the moves.

        1. Steve G*

          ………..and one more thing I just remembered – there are different kinds of yoga. Maybe that is common knowledge, but I never put much thought into it until I went to a class that was a deep-abdomen focus and the teacher had us putting our feet at 60 degrees in the air for long periods of time (straight out!) and other difficult/really uncomfortable things for an hour.

      2. nep*

        For the OP and for others who might be needing to modify pushups — Another (and I think better) way to modify the pushup is to do it on a wall, bench, or step (upper body elevated makes it easier / just as lower body elevated makes it tougher). This way you can get used to lowering your body down and pushing up while maintaining that straight plank position — over time progressing from wall to counter-top to bench eventually to floor.

        1. Blue_eyes*

          This is also a great modification for people with wrist problems (me!) because it puts less weight on your wrists.

          1. nep*

            For that, in a floor push-up, you could also try with your hands on large dumbbells or those push-up bars — this way your wrist can be straight throughout the movement. Works for some — depends on what the wrist issue is.

            1. fposte*

              Oh, I’d never even thought about that! That’s a great tip. I like getting a good wrist stretch, but that can happen when it’s not holding my bodyweight up, too.

            2. Blue_eyes*

              Those are good modifications. I sometimes do that kind of thing on my fists (my issue happens when I weight my wrists while bent). Or for planks I always do forearm planks.

    9. Honeybee*

      I agree with “don’t try to force yourself to like it”. I always had this mindset that I should Go to the Gym, meaning work out on the equipment like “everyone else.” But ugh, I haaaaate the gym. I much prefer to be outside, even when it’s cold! I do like classes, though, so my fitness regimen is a combination of taking some dance/aerobics classes and doing outdoors activities (mostly running/hiking, but as soon as I can afford a bike I’m going back to cycling too).

      I like a variety of classes but there are three main categories: dance/aerobics/cardio, yoga, and body conditioning/sculpting. The dance classes I like are fast-paced classes that use modern music, mostly pop/R&B/hip hop, and dance moves mixed with aerobics to get my heart pumping. My knees are bad so I try to avoid the ones with too much jumping around, which rules out a lot of Zumba classes. Some step aerobics classes can fit into this if the music is funky enough. For yoga, I mostly like hatha (regular) and vinyasa (the “flow”, where you move quickly between poses) yoga, and I despise hot/Bikram yoga. I don’t like being hot. And for the body conditioning, those are mostly classes that use light free weights and resistance bands to build muscle tone. Toning was one of my goals for my fitness regimen so I wanted a class that did that. There are different types of classes that do, and some classes focus on specific areas, although I prefer full body conditioning classes.

      Yoga is the best for my mental health. I love doing early morning yoga before work because I feel like it really centers my mind and increases my productivity, but it’s different for everybody. I also love running early for the same reasons; I love watching the sun come up as I run.

      No, nobody cares which one you pick! You have to pick the ones you like the best because that will help you stick to it. And you have to do whatever you like, too. There are millions of ways to get active and do exercise and you don’t have to do it the same way as everyone else! Also, ignore fads. There will be some workout craze that gets popular for a while and everyone wants to try it – Zumba was it for a while (and still might be?) and hot yoga was a craze too. I think cross-fit and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) are current fads. But if you don’t like it and it doesn’t work for you, listen to your own body.

  22. Stephanie*

    Any regular eBay sellers? I bought some shoes for work (a pair of Doc Martens) and they’re way too big. I mentioned this to the salesperson and she said my toe placement was correct. I wore them a couple of times and they felt like clown shoes. Anyway, I can’t return them since I wore them.

    So any suggestions for selling them on eBay? It’s been a while since I sold anything on there

    1. Florida*

      Include photos of everything. Be honest about the condition. If there is a scuff somewhere, mention it. Don’t do reserve pricing. Start the bidding as low as you are willing to accept. Don’t expect to sell them for the same price you bought them. I would expect about half of that (even if they are almost new).

      1. Myrin*

        Yes to honesty! I sell books an ebay from time to time and only ever got positive reactions to my honest description of dents and abrasions – I really don’t want someone to buy my stuff and then be blindsided by some even non-major shortcomings.

    2. Cristina in England*

      Make sure to take photos of and mention and scuffs, and I would also mention what you said here about the strange fit. Maybe suggest that only people who have already worn DMs bid on them.

    3. Today's Satan*

      Are you sure you can’t return them? I’ve returned shoes that I wore for a whole day. Perhaps it depends on the retailer. If it were me, I’d try returning them first. If they say no, then you can still go the eBay route.

      1. Nicole*

        I agree. I once bought a pair of Docs after wanting them for years. I didn’t realize how heavy they would feel. It was like a workout walking in them! I gave them a little cleaning on the bottom with dish soap and a toothbrush (no scuffs on them since I barely wore them) and returned them.

        1. Stephanie*

          The soles have some minor scuffing. I think the return ship may have sailed.

          I remember the Doc Martens sandals were huge (literally and figuratively) at my middle school. Nothing says summer comfort like a 5-lb pair of leather sandals. Overall shorts were also big (the more daring girls wore out of dress code tops like tube tops or spaghetti strap tanks underneath the overalls). Yay 90s teen fashion.

  23. HeatherB*

    Anyone know what’s going on with The Gold Digger? I just tried to read her blog but it’s now marked “invited readers only”… I’ll be so sad if I can’t get an update on the situation with Sly and Doris!

    1. Cristina in England*

      Oh no that’s terrible news! Yes I just checked it and it now wants me to log in. I have noticed one or two prematurely published posts this week so maybe there are some technical problems? I hope it isn’t permanent! Or maybe AAM readers will all get an invite?

      1. gold digger*

        Hi everyone – some temporary difficulties that should be resolved in the next two weeks. Someone figured out who Doris is irl and posted something about it in a place where the rest of the family might see it. I have to figure out how to solve this. Don’t know why someone would do that.

        1. Cristina in England*

          Oh no, that’s terrible! What a rotten thing to do. We will miss your posts in the meantime, I hope you can find a solution!

        2. Carrie in Scotland*

          what an …. insert curse word of choice here. I hope you manage to get it sorted.

        3. Tammy*

          Thank goodness! I commented (and replied to your comment) on the hamburger post. I was afraid I had offended you or done something really bad. I was trying to figure out how to contact you to apologize.

          Why would ANYone do that? It serves no purpose. With friends like that….

          1. the gold digger*

            I was worried about you, Tammy, because I had answered your reply, agreeing that we were probably both at Willow Lake at the same time. I thought, “If I close it down, she won’t see my answer!”

            I am so glad that you are reading this here. I promise I was not offended! This has nothing at all to do with your post. Primo discovered something last night in a place where his family would be sure to go posted under a false name – I googled it and there is nothing online like it – where the poster makes specific reference to learning about Doris on this blog. It was not the best night of our vacation, but Primo is pretty blase’ about it, for reasons that I would rather not reveal because it would ruin the plot of the blog.

            And I do not mind people knowing who I am in real life (I haven’t written anything about my current job – which I LOVE – that would hurt me and that’s my main concern), but I do mind someone trying to cause trouble with Sly and Doris, et al. I do not like Sly and Doris, but there is no need for them to know about the blog. It would hurt their feelings. If I had wanted to hurt them, I would have named them in the first place.

            It never occurred to me that someone would spend that much time on a stranger’s blog to try to uncover an identity (which I realized is actually pretty easy because of the political stuff I wrote about Primo) and then try to make trouble for that person. Don’t people have better things to do?

            1. Tammy*

              This is a SUCH relief – I sometimes stick my foot in my mouth without even knowing it. For an IT person, I am surprisingly unaware of online protocol & manners. Plus – I just do not post a lot ANYWHERE. I just try to behave like I would IRL.

              I actually feel sorry for Doris sometimes. I think she knows she is in a miserable situation and believes (rightly or not) she has no way out. Probably dotes and hangs onto Primo because that is the only good thing in her life. Do you know who posted the “outing” ? Again – who would go OUT OF THE WAY to cause someone pain? Really messed up.

              LOVE my job now as well. I thought you might have been in the towers (thought you were in marketing maybe?) . I thought only IT got stuck at the place where dead bodies were found around the lake before work in the morning! It would not have been so bad if we had not been moved from the building-near-the-ritzy-golf-course (and the wonderful Greek couple that ran the cafeteria there). I still miss their Greek chicken on Mondays.

              Keep us posted on how to find you when the time is right.

              1. the gold digger*

                Tammy, you said absolutely nothing inappropriate. Do not worry at all!

                I feel very sorry for Doris, as well. I do not like her and she is not nice to me, but man, she has had such a horrible life. She had a mentally ill daughter she could not save and she cannot forgive herself for that. Now she has a husband who keeps her isolated and who is emotionally abusive to her. She pushes away the people who could be close to her – her grandchildren love her, but she and Sly are so critical to them that the kids don’t want to be around them. It is no wonder that she drinks. All I want for her is to be happy, really. If she were happy, then she would be nice and she and I could have a friendship.

                As far as Willow Lake – I was in the towers. I had an 8th floor window office. I was in marketing. But then I went onto the SAP project and my boss let someone take our window offices and move us to Willow Lake, where I was in an interior cubicle. I told my boss, “People quit over this kind of thing, you know.” I was so ticked off at him for giving someone else our space. He didn’t even fight for us!

              2. the gold digger*

                PS No, I don’t know who posted the outing post. The name is something like X@rtheyl S$landteron – that is, something completely made up. When I googled it, that post was the only instance of the name that appeared in the search.

        4. Revanche*

          What on earth! That’s a terrible thing to do! UGH. (I had to change my blog’s URL once because of a similarly-ughful attempt at unmasking. Maybe porting it entirely to a new blog/URL and keeping it under wraps for a little while would make sense?)

          1. the gold digger*

            Hmm. Thinking about that. I have posts written through November, so it might be more than I am willing to undertake.

            However, now that some of my freak-out has subsided, I am thinking that I do not need to be as panicked as I was initially. There have been some plot developments (I write the posts three months in advance) that are making secrecy not as big an issue. I don’t want to say any more than that. :)

            I would be happy to add AAM readers to the allowed list, but I think I have to have your email addresses and I am not quite sure how to go about getting them easily, as I think listing them here is not a good idea. If someone wants to set up a gathering place on LinkedIn, I will collect the information. However, it should only be until the second weekend in August that I can open it up again. If I can get past the first weekend without anyone seeing the outing post, they probably will have no reason to return to that page again.

            I will, however, give you guys this teaser: For the love of all that is holy, if you have naked photos of yourself and your partner and some – accessories, hide them where nobody will ever find them or, if you are going to put them in the filing cabinet with the financial papers you asked your son to get, label them, “DO NOT OPEN! PRIVATE!” or something like that. Or maybe, “1st draft of dissertation” or “student papers” – something that will not inspire any interest whatsoever in someone who would encounter the envelope.

            1. Revanche*

              Can I suggest a Google survey for the collection of names and emails? Maybe you can share the link here and let us sign up that way? I find that the easiest thing to do when I need info from various parties.

        5. Honeybee*

          That is SO messed up. Why would anyone do that? Best of luck to you, your blog was entertaining.

      2. the gold digger*

        If there is a way for AAM readers to be invited en masse to a blogger blog, I will be happy to do it! I don’t know why someone would be such a jerk – it’s pretty clear in my blog that I am making a big effort to disguise real-life identities.

        There is a family event next week I have to get past. Either it will all hit the fan around then or the whole thing will go unnoticed. Either way, I will open things back up – if I am going to take heat for it, then I am going to publish!

        1. HeatherB*

          So glad you are ok! Too bad about the you-know-what person trying to ruin the fun… fingers crossed no one who shouldn’t have found the blog!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Let me get this straight. They are doing this off-the-wall stuff and THEY might be upset because you wrote about it? Well, okay then, it must be on some level they DO understand that they are not being fair to others. I mean, people don’t get upset over things they do right. People usually get upset when their foibles/missteps become public. Am shaking my head.

          I wish you good luck. You will have to let us know how it goes.

          1. the gold digger*

            Yeah, it’s bizarre. It’s a strange family and I never knew how lucky I was with mine until I met Primo’s family. There is a lot going on right now – illness and drama – and this would add fuel to the fire.

            BTW, that’s an excellent point I had never considered – people don’t get upset at their righteousness being made public. Only their misdeeds. If they would just be nice people, there would be nothing for me to write about!

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Growing up in the 60s on into the 70s I had a family member who was very concerned about “airing dirty laundry”. I never understood this. If it concerns you that people will find out what you are doing, then why not just stop doing it?
              Nope. I was a know-nothing kid. hmmm.

    2. Mephyle*

      I just want to add that I am a fan too. I hope things work out all right, in every sense.

  24. A Dispatcher*

    Online dating update should anyone be interested…

    So I’ve been getting lots of messages that include little more than the words “Hi, how are you” which is really hard to respond to. I think my favorites are those from men who are 50+ (I’m late 20s). If you’re going to be so wildly out of my stated preferences, I’d think you could at least give me something to go on that would spark my interest like a nicely written email with questions about me and that says something interesting about yourself. I also like the emails that only state “into older?”… multiple people have sent that, I wonder if it works for them?

    I decided not to meet with coffee guy again – interest just wasn’t there, however I did go out to dinner with another person and it went really well! Just my luck though – he lives a decent amount away, and since I have my weird schedule, it would make things hard.

    1. katamia*

      Some men just send messages to EVERYONE on the site because it’s a relatively low time investment compared to, you know, actually reading someone’s profile and personalizing a message to them. The responses they get are probably not good for long-lasting relationships, but, hey, if that’s not what you’re looking for, then I guess it might work for them. The only male friend I have who did online dating (he’s seeing someone now) spent a lot of time on his messages, but he was really looking for a relationship and acted/wrote accordingly.

      I’m in my late 20s t00 and actually relatively comfortable with dating someone significantly older than I am, but not someone I’d meet through a dating site because I’d assume they would be creepy. If I met them through work or friends or a social activity and we clicked, I’d go for it, but my limit for online dating is about 10 years older (and even that is pushing it a bit, tbh–we’d have to have a LOT in common for me to reply, even if he sent me a decent message, while I’d be more willing to give someone who’s within 2-3 years of me more leeway).

    2. Elizabeth West*

      This is why I stopped going online. I just turned 50 (ugh) and I’m hot as hell—to 70-somethings (NO). No one my age wants to date me. They all want 20-somethings.

      Well if they can do it, I can too.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I seem to get along better with younger guys–we share more of the same interests (especially nerd stuff). The trick is finding one who isn’t so young that he can’t imagine sitting down and watching an old movie or show (old to him, or old to both of us). A younger coworker at Exjob said one time, “I don’t like old movies in black and white–movies should all be in color.” He was a nice guy, but I was like, “SERIOUSLY!?”

          I like people who are open to sharing both my stuff and their stuff. I have younger friends, too. We mostly bond over liking the same stuff. :)

          1. Dan*

            Ha. I’m turning into a blu Ray snob, I pretty much won’t watch standard DVDs anymore. Reason being is I put in some new hardware at home, and holy hell do blu rays bring that to life. That get up turns a “movie” into an experience.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              I’ll probably upgrade to Blu-ray at some point. Most likely when my old home theater system bites the dust. I tend not to replace stuff if it’s still working—plus, it gives the new gadgets time to come down in price. I’m glad I can still play my DVDs on a BR player, because I have over 200 movies and I do NOT want to replace them all.

      1. Today's anon*

        I feel like I’ve just magically turned old enough to be considered an “older man who is looking for a much younger wife” because I’ve started getting messages from 18-20 yo who are madly in love (their words) with me after (not) reading my profile. It would be amusing if it weren’t so sad, and not what I am looking for at all.

    3. Dan*

      Sometimes I think it would be a fun experiment to put up a fake profile as someone of the opposite sex and see what it’s like. For me, that means means putting up a profile of a chick and seeing how many creepers and “how’s it going” messages I get.

      When it comes to “cultural norms” of online dating, if I get an unsolicited message from a female, I may as well just delete it without reading it. My favorite was from a single mom with three kids in a far out suburb, messaging me to inquire “what’s up.” Um, my profile has enough to craft a conversation if you’re into the things I’m into. Try it!

      Sometimes you’ve go to figure that the “‘sup” approach works, otherwise they wouldn’t do it, but then again, there are lots of guys who can’t stand online dating, because they send out “hundreds” of messages and get nothing in return. Um, no dudes… take it from me, if you actually pay attention to a profile and have enough stuff in common, you’ll actually get responses. Make no mistake, it’s still a ton of work.

      Your hours make things hard. I worked shift work for seven years. It’s *hard* to have relationships on the “outside” when you work 9p-5a and your days off are Mondays and Tuesdays. My solution then was to not date at all. (I was also in a transition period in my life, and really not stable enough for a relationship anyway. The downside to that approach was that when I was ready, I had no idea wtf I was doing.)

      If you like the dinner date enough, you’ll have to put in a little extra effort, but that kinda goes without saying with your shift work. I’d say give it a shot and see what happens.

      1. A Dispatcher*

        Yeah my hours are why I ended up trying online dating to begin with. I wasn’t meeting men (or at least not men who aren’t police/fire/ems who I avoid for various reasons) because of my weird schedule so I thought this might help.

        The distance makes me weird schedule and hours even harder. It’s bad enough to match up schedules with local people let alone having to work around drive times. It was just a first date so I shouldn’t stress much I know, but he seems pretty great.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        “Sup” doesn’t work for me either. Neither does front-loading your entire message with a garble of nerd stuff that you clearly don’t understand because I wrote in my profile that I like LOTR. (I wish I’d saved that one–it was hilarious.)

  25. determined*

    Does anyone have any experiences with Ting, Republic wireless, or similar mobile companies?

    I’m thinking about switching from a contract based cell phone plan to a month to month plan in a few months when my current contract is up. I currently pay around $65/month but have heard of much cheaper plans through the wireless companies I’ve listed above ($20, $30/month).

    For reference, I have a smartphone and would like to continue to use a smartphone if possible. I don’t have a landline and am not planning to get one. I use WiFi a lot (for both work and fun).

    1. Bacon*

      Ting is amazing! Their list of accepted devices has probably changed since I joined, but I got to keep my number and my iPhone 4S (look under BYOD on their site to see if yours is compatible). I think my last bill was something obscenely low, like $16. Oh, and their customer service line is ah-maz-ing–call and someone picks up right away, no automated menu or anything.

    2. K*

      I would like to hear about this too! I’ve been thinking about switching because I hardly use my phone at all and Verizon doesn’t offer a plan that’s low enough for me.

    3. Tammy*

      We use Consumer Cellular. LOVE them. No contract. You can bring your own phone (I think it would have to have worked on AT&T network). We pay $81 (including taxes) a month for 3 phones with talk, text and data. We can raise and lower our plans (talk minutes are separate from text & data) as our usage changes. The phones they sell are reasonable. And the customer service is wonderful.

    4. Dan*

      I have Ting, it’s good for low-use smart phone users. If you really want to keep your bill down, you have to work at it.

      1) Voice: It’s easy to keep my minutes in the small bucket. The only people I talk gobs to are my family. We skype each other for free. It’s awesome. If I’m home, and want to call out, Hangouts now does VOIP calls, which is WiFi calling for free. I should be able to receive calls, but it’s inconsistent getting hangouts to answer as opposed to the phone.

      2) Text: This is where Ting will get you if you are a heavy texter. You’ll be paying $35 if you’re in the thousands range. I get around this by using Google Voice, which actually sends texts over data, so my Ting text bill is $0.

      3) Data: WiFi is so common that I’m able to keep my data usage under 100MB. I basically only use it for GPS these days. I just don’t do enough data stuff to worry about it most of the time. And the few non GPS things that I “have” to do, the apps are generally optimized to use as little data as possible.

      1. Dan*

        Ooop, misread Ting’s text plan: If you are a heavy user, your Ting bill will be $11 + 1/4 c /msg over $4800 messages.

    5. Noah*

      I have a FreedomPop phone. I pay $20 a month for unlimited voice, text, and 1GB of 4G data, after the 1GB it is unlimited 3G. I also pay another $5.99 for a combo pack of various things including voicemail. All in it is less than $30 a month. They also have a totally free plan with 200 minutes of voice, 500 texts, and 500MB of data, but it has no voicemail or any extra options.

      The downsides: it uses the Sprint network, you have to buy the phone upfront, support is via email and can be slow to respond, and voice calls can be spotty if you are in an area with limited data coverage because FreedomPop uses VoIP for all calls.

      The upsides: it is inexpensive or even free, and the service has been getting better each month

      1. Observer*

        The main problem with this is that you need to be in a place with decent sprint coverage. Obviously it works for people in good coverage areas. But, it pays to check before you make the move.

    6. anonymous daisy*

      I use Cricket. I found out about it from Clark Howards radio show and website. You have to supply or outright buy your phone and then the plans range from $35 per month, $45 per month, or $55 per month. I bought a smart phone from them for $30. They don’t do the thing where you get a free phone with the costs enclosed within a long term contract, it is pay by the month only. I am extremely pleased with them. Check out Clark Howard’s site for other options.

      1. anonymous daisy*

        Also, I am a Verizon refugee. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. Maybe instead of sending people to prison, we can sentence people to dealing with the horse’s asses who work at Verizon. I only found one good employee to help me during the multiple visits I endured at their store for them to solve my phone problem. I was not surprised to hear from him that they had had death threats and people waiting in the parking lot to beat them up after work. Even the one polite and knowledgeable employee had it happen to him (he was the one who told me about the situation).

    7. Girasol*

      Republic wireless. Never had a smart phone before six months ago because wireless service is so poor at home (a mile beyond the edge of the closest coverage area) and work (an RF shielded building) that it was hardly worth having a dumb phone much less an expensive one. Three cheers for Republic! Because the phone leverages wireless as well as cell I get good signal at home and at work and get a smart phone to boot. The old dumb phone cost what our landline did (we gave up landline before we realized how bad our home service would be.) Our plan gets phone and text over cellular or wireless and data only over wireless. It chooses wireless for phone service at home and at work so I get much better phone, and we put some of the savings into boosting our home wireless service, which is a big deal for gamers who live in the middle of nowhere. I thought I might miss having data by cell but so many places have wireless and the phone hooks up so easily to any signal it finds that I just haven’t had reason to upgrade to the $25 each per month for cellular data service. The only thing I wish I had it for is google maps on the road, but if we take a road trip I can raise my service level just for a month to have that. We selected $180 models, nice Motorola ones that run Android and have a ton of room for books and audiobooks. I’m really delighted with Republic.

      1. Girasol*

        I forgot to say, service is unlimited so there’s no counting minutes or megabytes, and the saving allowed us to bump up to an unlimited internet plan too!

    8. JC*

      I use Virgin Mobile, and pay $30/month for unlimited data and phone minutes. I had to buy my own phone at full cost, and they generally only offer older phones to buy (although I think they just added the IPhone 6). It’s been fine. They use Sprint’s network, which isn’t the best but is good enough for the price.

    9. KB*

      I used Ting for about a year and loved it! Their customer service is fantastic, and we saved a bunch of money every month (had previously been on AT&T, and had 2 iPhones on the plan. We were paying about half of what we paid at AT&T). I felt like we found out a lot about how much we actually used data and our minutes. I eventually switched back to AT&T because the coverage wasn’t all that great (my husband didn’t have decent coverage in his office, so that was a deal breaker). However, Ting just recently started using T-mobile’s network in addition to Sprint’s, so it may be much different now. In fact, if we had known they were going to use T-mobile’s network, we would have definitely stayed. Being back at AT&T now feels like being robbed a little each month. T-mobile also helps because of the type of smartphone that that network allows. Definitely work looking into for yourself, I think.

    10. Observer*

      Firstly, check your provider and see if they offer a monthly plan that is cheaper than what you are paying. That will save you the cost of a new phone.

      If you have AT&T, check their month to month pre-paid or their “byod” post paid plans. Also, look into Cricket (which is ATT’s “value” brand) and H2O, which will use ATT phones. You will probably have to get your phone unlocked – do that before you cancel your account.

  26. determined*

    Does anyone else watch the Bravo show “southern charm?” I don’t watch a lot of tv so I just discovered it and I am hooked. I also now have a mad crush on Thomas, even though he’s a good bit older than me and seems like kind of a shady character. Sigh…

  27. Myrin*

    Alison, I remember you talking about your “original” cats’ reaction to having the foster kittens at home. You were saying you weren’t even sure if Sam knew they were there (I laughed so hard about that btw) and I was wondering how he’s doing now that Eve’s a part of the household? Does he know she exists? Does he acknowledge her at all? Does he love her like we all do?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yes, now he knows she’s here (finally). He’s not too pleased; if he encounters her, he makes a noise that’s like a meow that then morphs into a hiss, and then he walks off. But mainly he just tries to ignore the fact that she’s here. And some of that seems like willful ignorance: For example, the other day he was sleeping on our bed when Eve jumped up on it too. He hissed at her, and then he just repositioned himself so he didn’t need to see her.

      Whereas Lucy and Olive are very interested.

      We’re still keeping her confined to the guest room, except for supervised forays out — because I’m not totally sure if I trust Lucy with her yet. (Lucy took 2-3 months to fully get used to Olive; she swatted her a lot in the beginning, and she seems to be repeating that pattern with Eve. And Eve is still small enough that I want to supervise for a while longer.)

      But Olive wants to play with Eve all the time. When we let Eve out, Olive follows her around, play-chases her, and generally is fascinated by her. I think Eve is at times intimidated by her, but she generally seems to get that it’s intended in a good-natured way.

      I am very much looking forward to the point where we can let Eve roam unsupervised. If anyone has advice for hastening that day, please tell me!

      1. jhhj*

        I once was petsitting a pair of cats. One of them was indifferent, but one of them had insta-hate for my cat, and they hissed whenever they came near each other.

        Except at night. Visiting cats slept under the covers at my feet. My cat slept (and still sleeps) over the covers at my feet. So she would be literally sleeping on him with a blanket in between, and they both pretended this was not what was happening overnight.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Funny that you should mention sleeping in bed at night. That worked with my two, also. I had two cats both with timid personalities. But they were not timid with each other. They would hiss at each other, take weak swats at each other and so on. However, when bedtime came all that went away. They each had their own spot on the bed and I was in between the two of them. They would settle down, sleep through the night and I had no problems.

          I don’t remember how long it was -maybe a year? I woke up because of some noises. I realized they were chasing each other through the house at full steam. This went on for months they played every night after we went to bed.

          I think the turning point came when they had one day where it looked really bad. I thought they were going to really hurt each other. I raised my voice, stomped my foot and clapped my hands. This scared the daylights out of both of them. I think their momentary fear of me gave them something to bond over. But they scared me to the point that I grabbed a laundry basket to throw over which ever one I could get in effort to prevent a fight. After I raised my voice and made a racket I never had another problem that bad again. They ended up being able to share a food dish at the same time without issues.

          My punchline is that I think you have to lay out your expectations. Fighting is not acceptable. Threats are not acceptable. I chose to make a loud noise because I really did not want to reach out with my hands into that hissy fit.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        So, as I mentioned above, we’ve been keeping Eve confined to the guest room unless we’re actively supervising. We have a dog gate up so we can leave the door open and she can interact with the other cats through it without being able to get out.

        Tonight, we were two levels below her, in the basement, watching a movie when suddenly Eve appeared. She had apparently jumped the (very tall) gate. We’ve been letting her roam the house ever since, so — assuming that tonight goes smoothly — her days of confinement may be over.

      3. catsAreCool*

        Sounds like they’re doing pretty well, all things considered. I’m glad Eve is so happy with you!

        I figure if none of the kitties are trying to hurt each other, they’re doing pretty good. I think sometimes hissing is a way of establishing boundaries for cats. It took a while before my 10 year old kitty stopped regularly hissing at a 3 year old kitty I adopted. Fortunately the 3 year old is very friendly with other cats and has tried to make friends with the 10 year old and the 2 year old (who hissed once or twice, but was mostly intrigued).

  28. Alicia*

    Question to couples out there. How do you split chores?

    The situation: my spouse works from home, and I work at a university, about 15 minutes away. I know when he is home, he is Working, but I feel there’s a bit more flexibility in his schedule because he is (sporadically) self-employed. Anyway, I’m a way better cook than him and am not really a recipe follower, so I do the bulk of the cooking (like 95%), and I can’t easily tell him how to make our favourite go-to recipes. My problem is that I hate coming home after a draining day at work and having to walk into the kitchen. It would be so nice if at 4:30 or so he took a 5 minute break and prepped a meal by throwing 2 potatoes and a couple chicken breasts in the oven. I’m not asking for risotto (which is easy, but requires constant attention).

    I generally batch cook on Sunday so I have lunches for the week, and then a few leftovers, but come Tuesday, my planning has fallen away. Especially with my projects keeping me later and later. I just wish we’d split this so that I could do my weekends and he could hold down the fort mostly during the week. I’m not asking for gourmet, but I will be taking a course this September that will mean I’ll be later coming home most evenings and I cannot imagine having to cook. I do throw things in the freezer but I’m only working with the freezer above the fridge, so I can’t go too crazy with that.

    I think this is half venting, and half asking for advice.

    1. Persehone Mulberry*

      This might be staying the obvious, but have you tried just asking if he can take over some of the weekday dinner prep? Is there a task he routinely does that you could pick up in exchange? DH and tend to fall into the “you cook, I’ll deal with the cleanup” division of labor.

      I also think it would be good to brainstorm some new “go to” meals if the ones you typically make are more on the fly than recipe-based – spaghetti (you can batch and freeze homemade sauce of that’s more your speed than relying on jarred), taco night, hunt down some new recipes, etc.

      1. Alicia*

        We’ve discussed it many times, and it works for awhile, but then the pattern falls back onto me again fairly quickly. Our meals aren’t super gourmet or all that labour-intensive, but I’m just more comfortable in the kitchen.

        Perhaps finding some meals that are his first (if that makes sense) will help. Thanks for the suggestion :)

        1. YandO*

          We have had this issue and my solution is to tell him ahead of time what days he is cooking dinner.

          I tell him this week Tuesday and Thursday are your nights to make dinner. I try to provide no more direction than that. Not every dinner is a success but things are gradually getting better.

        2. Today's Satan*

          When we first moved in together, I was doing most of the cooking. Like you, I’d ask, he’d try for awhile, then he’d fall back into his old habits. So I quit cooking for him and just made quick things for myself. A sandwich, a salad, a quick microwave baked potato, defrosting only a single serving of something I’d made earlier in bulk, etc. We went through about a year or so of “fending for ourselves”. Then one day he decided that eating together was important to him, so I pointed him to allrecipes.com. He’s done the bulk of the cooking ever since, and I do the bulk of the cleanup. Which, coincidentally, has now morphed into me being responsible for keeping the kitchen clean, regardless of whether he’s making a “family” meal or just something for himself. I’m expected to clean up after him, no matter what. But, hey, he cleans the litter boxes so it’s a fair trade-off.

        3. Natalie*

          Look closely at what happens when it falls apart. If you are jumping in to cook anytime there is a hiccup because it’s easier, stop doing that. Wait for dinner, order take out, go out on your own.

          Have you had a conversation about the pattern you’ve noticed? Have you invited him to come up with his own solution? Maybe cooking everyday will never be his thing, but he would be willing to budget for Blue Apron or batch cook on weekends or something.

          No matter what I want to emphasize that it’s not unreasonable for you to want to change this. Equitable chore distribution is about more than just the aggregate hours you each spend on chores. Often even with a 50/50 split, women end up responsible for the daily after-work chores which is not a fair split.

        4. LibbyG*

          It’s well worth being persistent about sharing the load because it isn’t just the time that you’re standing there cooking. There’s a lot of planning and monitoring: what you have, what people like, thinking about variety. It’s a lot of mental energy. If you get him to really share the whole burden it’ll really pay off.

    2. BRR*

      I’d just ask him. “hey I’m working later due to project X/class, a couple nights could you handle dinner?” I’d stay away from mentioning working from home. It’s a landmine.

    3. danr*

      As the person who ended up doing the bulk of the weekday cooking, I would suggest making up some basic meal recipes. Then let DH cook each one at least once on a weekend before trying it for real during the week. For someone who doesn’t cook much, throwing a couple of chicken breasts and potatoes in the oven is not easy. How long to cook? What temp? Do you turn them? What about veggies? What is the timing? It’s easy for you, but treat this as writing directions for a new hire at work. And the same instructions for you apply… don’t take over just because you can do it.
      I have another suggestion that may seem counter-intuitive…. Go out to eat one day a week. Friday is probably best since it gives a nice break before the weekend. On Friday, neither person has to cook or clean up. You have time to just talk about things.

      1. Today's anon*

        Yes, I’m not in a couple but those were exactly the very beginner questions I had when I started cooking. Also it’s a bit embarrassing to ask sometimes how to cook what seems like very simple, so perhaps showing or telling in a very matter of fact way would help ease things. Maybe you could both also scout some easy to make recipes with few ingredients that sound good to you so he could get started easy.

      2. JC*

        So much yes to this. My husband does all the cooking. I’m so inexperienced with cooking that basic cooking tasks are intimidating to me without guidance. If he wanted me to help with the cooking, he’d have to start out with super specific instructions, even for things that he’d think should be obvious.

    4. AcademicAnon*

      Ask. Also realize he may not be able to do that. My SO sometimes works from home, and when he’s focused on a task he doesn’t think about anything else, even the time. I’ve called him multiple times at work when he’s late, and he routinely said he didn’t realize what time it was.

      1. katamia*

        I’m the same way (about time, not focus–I have no idea how long anything takes no matter how hard I try, and I’m not good at projecting into the future that I need to do X at this time if I want Y to happen at this later time). Maybe the OC’s spouse could try setting an alarm that, when it goes off, he knows to go into the kitchen and start cooking.

        Also, I hate to suggest this, but is there a chore of his you could take over during the week that doesn’t have to be done right when you get home from work that would maybe free up some of his time and energy earlier on and give him more of an opportunity to cook? Maybe something he dislikes and you don’t mind so much that would make things easier? I don’t like this idea because I suspect what will happen is you’ll have this new chore and he’ll be less committed to cooking during the week (although you could always just not do it if he doesn’t cook) so it feels unfair, like it would be adding more to your workload, but if the goal is to not have to cook right when you get home, then that might (heavy emphasis on might–like I said, I don’t really like this idea) make it easier to get him to cook.

    5. YandO*

      I do laundry, most cooking, most grocery shopping, and anything that requires planning (finance, vacation, move, etc)

      He does all cat stuff, vacuuming, dusting, car stuff, cooking on the weekend, dishes, general cleaning

      I think currently he does more than I do, but he is also home more because he does not have a full-time job. Once we both are working, these things will change I expect.

    6. Dan*

      Yeah, you have to stay away from the work from home thing. My ex-spouse would make some patronizing comments about my job. I didn’t work from home, but did have extremely flexible hours and was rather low stress. My ex-spouse, when she felt like working, generally did shift work in more stressful conditions. I made good money, but she would say things that came pretty close to implying that I didn’t have to work all that hard. Sometimes she was right, but it really wasn’t her place to point that out.

      I did do the bulk of the cooking, because I am a good cook and like good food. She did all of the cleaning. We settled into a routine of cooking three times a week (always having leftovers the following day.)

      My compromise for myself is eating out for lunch; current job has a cafeteria. I just can’t handle dinners + lunches.

      Like others, methinks you should have a conversation. If in general you feel that he either 1) Isn’t pulling his weight, or 2) Not willing to talk to you about it, you have, much, much bigger problems on your hands.

      I’m not a fan of simply dictating that nights X and Y are his for meals.

      1. catsAreCool*

        I work from home and have learned that I can’t even do a simple thing like laundry while I’m working. I can throw the laundry in the washer at lunch, but then I get busy with work and forget about it until the end of the day. At which point, the laundry doesn’t always smell so good. I wouldn’t trust myself to try to cook anything while working.

    7. deathstar*

      What helped me was: if i want him to make dinner, then it’s HIS dish and i will just enjoy it, instead of worrying that it may not be RIGHT or how i want it :) turns out now HIS way is kiddo’s favourite way …. -_- oh, win some, lose some …

    8. Revanche*

      I’m the WFH spouse and I do most of the from scratch cooking because I like to and that serves as my break from work. That said, I can never count on having that free time, sometimes I’m at it for 12 hours without even a break to eat my own lunch, so as other posters have said, suggesting that WFH means you have more free time wouldn’t totally go over well as the implication is often that we don’t need to work as hard or that our time “in the office” isn’t as valid as your time in the office.

      I do the fast home bake when I realize that it’s 6pm and PiC is going to leave work any minute but even throwing some chicken and veg in the oven takes about 15-20 minutes all told, especially if it’s not already prepped.

      My suggestions: I totally understand that it seems to make sense for the at-home spouse to do some of the prep or the cooking so that you can both eat at an earlier time. That’s the reason I try to make that my break instead of actually taking a real break and relaxing. But as your spouse is not comfortable in the kitchen, perhaps you can put him in charge of prep work and he can do that whenever he wants, even the night before, so long as it’s done by the time you get home so you can finish up the cooking. PiC is my sous chef on request. On days when my pain is extra high, I can ask for all the veg to be washed, minced, diced, etc, and then I just put the dish together.

      You could only cook 2-3 really big batches on the weekend and have him be in charge of reheating everything during the week (we also do this so I’m not cooking every day).

      Another thing that helps us both is if the away-spouse initiates the conversation about what to have for dinner and then we mutually decide what we’re having and who is prepping or heating it. He will often volunteer when he’s come up with the idea, and just ask me to take some things out of the fridge before he gets home so it’s out already.

      I don’t know what the breakdown is on time in the kitchen for each of us but we’re both happy with how much we do and we both get fed so I don’t think it actually matters.

      1. Kate R. Pillar*

        My husband is the one home during the day in our home, and splitting cooking into prep work and actual cooking is what we do often, too.
        It is SUCH a treat to come home to veggies already chopped! I actually really enjoy the “standing at the stove, getting creative with the spices” part.
        Another thing we do often is to have dinners for which no one actually has to cook. Bread, butter, cheese, sliced ham, some pickled gherkins; or just store-bought Italian antipasti type stuff…

    9. Ismis*

      I am the non-chef in my house and I really dislike cooking. What I can manage is buying a lasagne from the supermarket, putting it in the oven, and serving it with a salad. I feel a lot more comfortable in the kitchen if I have some easy go-to dinners.

    10. Artemesia*

      My husband and I moved in together before marrying 44 years ago and we sat down and worked out how we would do household stuff. It began with alternate weeks and has been tweaked over the years. e.g. when the kids were young, I cooked during the week because my schedule fit better and he did weekends. Now retired, we just take turns sort of randomly as we are so easy with it — and if no one wants to cook we go out — rare but occasionally as we live where we can do this on foot.

      I think since he is at home you might consider having him responsible for a couple of meals a week. (and I mean responsible as in plans, shops or lists, makes, decides) And then maybe a couple of times a week you could throw things in the crock pot or make extras on the weekend to heat up. My husband and I were neither of us great cooks in the beginning but getting a meal on is not rocket science. Get a jar of good spaghetti sauce, brown meat and add sauce, boil spaghetti, make salad, slice baguette — voila. Put chicken thighs on baking sheet, season, bake. Add potatoes while it is baking, Make a salad and steam some vegetables. It may not be gourmet, but putting an edible meal with protein, starch and veggie on a plate is just not that hard.

      To make this work you have to lose the idea that you are the good cook and you somehow have to teach him. Cooking adequately is not hard. The internet is full of ideas. Since he is home, he can also do things that take a long time to cook like stews, pea soup, casseroles etc.

    11. Honeybee*

      I am the primary cook because I love cooking. However, like you, I am often drained after a day at work and I don’t want to do the prep, and I am also forgetful and never remember to take out food. So the way we’ve split it is my husband does a lot of the prep work that he knows how to do. He always remembers to take out the meat to thaw (bless him) and he’ll take down all the ingredients for me before I start, so all I have to do is cook it. He can get some things started, if he knows how.

      The other thing is that I’ve started writing all of my recipes down. I cook from a recipe a lot of the times but mostly I don’t when cooking old standards; I’ve still written it down, and written notes when I make modifications or to address something (like “you don’t have to be so precise; I do this to taste”). My ostensible reason is that I want to have recipes to pass down to my own children should I ever have them; my mom never taught me how to cook and I sort of taught myself. But it’s become really helpful when hubby wants to cook something or help me get started. So maybe if you do some of the footwork of figuring out at least a rough recipe of your favorite standards, that would help him.

      One thing I had to realize is that if you don’t have a knack for cooking, it can be really hard to even know how to begin. Certain things just seem common sense to me, but that’s because I’ve been cooking for a while and know a little about food science. But when I teach my hubby or a friend how to cook/bake something, it becomes obvious how much is NOT common sense, it’s learned. So it may not even occur to your husband to throw some potatoes and chicken breasts in the oven, or he doesn’t know what temperature or how long, or whether and what to season them with…he doesn’t even know where to start. At least, I know that’s where my husband is with anything besides the most basic of things, so I have to show him.

    12. Jenn*

      I wish I could remember where I read this, but I think one way you might be able to meal plan is to work out the list of meals together on the weekend (or eventually have a 4 or 8 week rotation you both know well), and then agree on how to split up the cooking and the prep. The prep on the weekend includes putting stuff in bins matching the days of the week at first while you get used to taking turns cooking/prepping etc. For example: you can put a shoe box in the freezer labelled Monday with a ziplock of chicken breasts in marinade with a print out of the instructions on the front if needed or in a tin foil pan if you prefer one less step, a bag of frozen broccoli, and a microwave friendly container of rice that you made in bulk on the weekend. Even if you don’t do the planning together, I think prepping in a way that makes it easy for your partner to assemble later might make your weekday evenings a bit easier.

  29. fposte*

    Sewing question. I received a nice new sewing machine as a gift–maybe before some of you were born, as it’s probably been at least 20 years. It’s a Singer 6217c, from before sewing machines got “smart.” I have, I say with shame, never touched the thing except to open it now and then to remind myself what brand it is. I keep thinking I should set it up so I can do stuff like hem and do pillow covers and curtains–or have things improved so much since then that I’d be better off with something new, even like an Ikea sewing machine? I’m also seeing some indications that the plastic parts get brittle pretty quickly and don’t necessarily last well. I mean, it’s here now and it’s free, so it’s not like I’m sinking money into it, but if this is the equivalent of trying to ride a pennyfarthing I’d like to know.

    1. BRR*

      From what I know (which isn’t tons), singer is one of the best brands although possibly not as good now as they were before. You’re probably better trying on this one than buying a cheapo. Also if you haven’t touched this one I’d recommend trying it before investing in a new one, although if advances make sewing easier I wouldn’t want you to be deterred by an older machine.

      1. Rose of Cimarron*

        p.s. to my other comment – I’m 57, have been sewing since I was about 6, and have only had three sewing machines in my life; my mom’s 1950-vintage singer that I learned on, a Necchi Lydia that we bought in the early 70s (awesome machine), and a Bernina 1630, now 22 years old. I’m debating whether I’m ready for a new one — but I wouldn’t buy the fanciest machine, I’d probably get a good machine in the $800 – $1200 range that made beautiful buttonholes and a beautiful straight stitch.

    2. Blue_eyes*

      I don’t know a ton about older sewing machines, but I think that at least for basic stitches an old machine should be fine. You’re definitely better off with a higher quality but older machine than a new cheapo machine. For what it’s worth, I got a sewing machine a few years ago and it’s not “smart”. I think all the features it has were probably available 20 years ago. You might as well start out with the machine you have and then upgrade later if you find yourself using it a lot. Napkins and placemats are great starter projects – all straight lines, you don’t have to be incredibly precise with your measuring and cutting, you don’t need much fabric, and you can use them right away!

    3. Rose of Cimarron*

      Lifelong sewer. You should take the Singer to a dealer and have it cleaned and oiled, and have the timing checked. It will probably be fantastic for basic stuff. You don’t need bells and whistles and 1,000 embroidery stitches (which they put in because they’re cheap for the manufacturer and look impressive) to make simple — or even more advanced — garments and home dec projects; you need a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch and a good steam iron and a really good pair of fabric scissors.

      Don’t buy an IKEA machine — sewing is really something where you should use the best tools (and fabric) that you can afford, and within that rule you can get good quality at reasonable prices. The plastic parts are not ideal but even Bernina uses some plastic parts now; unless you do your homework and get a used all-metal machine, you’ll have plastic parts. The days of sewing machines lasting 100 years are probably over.

      Craftsy has some great classes for beginning sewists. And if you have specific questions, let me know!

    4. LisaLee*

      My mother’s Singer is from the nineties and still works just fine. If you’re really worried, you can look in the phone book to see if there’s a repair place or a quilting or sewing store that would check it over for you for cheap. I really don’t think there’s an advantage to getting a computerized machine if you’re just doing simple things like hems.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        My sewing machine — an Elna — was my mother’s and it dates from the 60’s — or maybe earlier I’m not sure. It’s got these plastic discs that you put in a special area to do “fancy” stitches, including zigzag, but nothing for buttonholes. Because Rose of Cimarron is right, if you want to sew clothes, it’s very important to have something that does beautiful button holes. My Grandmother’s last machine (Singer) was from the 70’s and it had the *best* buttonholer, which was this attachment that had keyhole shaped plastic pieces you put in it to control the needle.

        I also agree that if you haven’t used it in a very long time, getting it checked out is a good idea. Except for the timing belt, I can clean and oil my machine myself, it’s very straightforward. Turning it on now, it might smell a little funny.

        I would also suggest that as a project, pillow cases/throw pillows are something that requires straight lines and nothing fancy (except for some hand sewing to close it up, or a zipper closure if you really feel adventurous). There are also kinds of quilts (I think they’re called strip quilts) where you sew the fabric strips in long rectangles, then cut them up and arrange them/sew the pieces together to make squares/sew the squares together to make the blanket.

    5. fposte*

      Cool! Thanks for the feedback, everybody. This is a crafty area so I’m sure there’s somebody who’d oil it up in town.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      Late to the party here- but from what I am reading online you are totally correct, too many plastic parts.

      It looks like you can get the manual for free online, if you do not have it.This should show you were to oil it. You can get sewing machine oil at a fabric store.
      Before you oil it, look inside to see it is dusty/linty. If yes, take the machine outside and blow it out with compressed air. You can use those little cans of air if you do not have a compressor.

      Oil the spots that they tell you to oil. You just need a drop or two in each spot. You probably will have to raise the needle up and down a few times to work the oil in. Then, run a scrap piece of material just to make sure you are not going to accidentally oil your project piece.

      It might be a snap judgement call on my part, but I don’t think the machine is worth putting any big bucks into. Please don’t buy an Ikea. A bad machine can permanently cure a person of sewing.

      My favorite brand is New Home. I have one here that is 25 years old and I cannot kill it. And I have tried. One time, my previous dog went running through the house. The sewing machine cord got rapped around his leg as he dashed by. My poor machine slammed on to the floor so hard it shook the house. I almost cried. I picked it up, turn it on and tried it. The machine was FINE. Then I cried. (The dog was fine, I checked him first.)

      If you can find a used New Home, I recommend it. I don’t know about now, but the older New Homes were used in schools. The reason was because the students could not kill the machines, the darn things just ran and ran and ran. New Home got bought up by Janome (did not google for correct spelling….sigh) so people tend to use the names interchangeably.

      1. Windchime*

        I have a Janome (New Home) machine and it’s been great. I had my mom’s old Singer from the 1960’s and I traded it in on a “White” brand machine in the 80’s (big mistake; I hated that machine). My ex took the machine in the divorce, so I took some of my divorce settlement and bought the Janome. It’s been a great machine, but I still regret trading the Singer away.

        I would get it cleaned, oiled and checked out and then start sewing. It’s probably a great machine.

    7. Liz in a Library*

      I’d try it! My mom still uses her Singer which has got to be at least 35 years old. Parts have been replaced, but the core machine is still great.

    8. Lizabeth (call me hop along)*

      Use it! Use it! Use it! The ahem…older Singer machines are built like tanks and go forever with the occasional tune up. I have one that I got in the late 70’s that is still going strong. I like the fact that it doesn’t have a ton of stitches that I’ll never use. However to lug it to classes got to be a pain and on the recommendation of a favorite teacher got one of the lightweight Brothers, which is used equally with the Singer. Your local independent quilt shop may have suggestions on where to get it tuned up.

    9. Rose*

      My birthday present from my husband this year was an antique sewing table with the Singer machine built in. It is so beautiful, and really fits with the look of our old house! (We just bought a house built in 1890). I’m hoping my mom will teach me how to use it, and most of the clothes I intend to make with it are from the same era as the sewing machine, so it should be essentially perfect. I’ll try to remember to come back to an open thread and let you/everyone know how the first projects go.

      1. Windchime*

        I have an antique Singer sewing table and I love it. Sadly, it doesn’t include the machine. But the table is beautiful and I use it as a display table on my upstairs landing.

    10. misspiggy*

      If you decide you can’t get on with the Singer, there are charities which take them and pass them on to tailors in developing countries, where they are much in demand.

    11. Mephyle*

      Singer used to be The sewing machine brand, but your 6217c is from the 1970s as far as I can tell, when they started using nylon parts and they were not so good. I have a Singer from that era and it never satisfactorily settled down into delivering reliable tension. It was a very frustrating machine to work with because the tension was always too tight or too loose.

      Also, I looked online to see if your 6217c had through-the-needle bobbin winding but I couldn’t tell whether it did. If it does, bad news. My machine had that, and it was touted as an innovative new convenient method because you could rewind your bobbin without taking it out, but it turned out that when running the thread at high speed through the needle eye (as happens while winding the bobbin) any tiny irregularity in the thread would get caught without fail and break the thread.

      What a relief it was to start working with a Bernina. I never looked back. It was a revelation to discover that sewing didn’t have to be a frustrating experience of wrong tension and constantly breaking threads.

      1. fposte*

        Looking at the manual (found that online yesterday!), I don’t think it has thread-the-needle bobbin winding. So there’s that dodged, anyway.

        1. Saucy Minx*

          Definitely have it cleaned & lubed. A machine that has been sitting unused has oil that may have turned to shellac — not good.

          If it were an old metal Singer or a featherweight, it would be a workhorse worth fixing & using. Maybe ask the dealer if this one is worth the cost of any necessary repairs, or if it has trade-in value.

        2. Mephyle*

          I’d recommend looking for a sewing machine guru (a person who has a business of cleaning and servicing sewing machines – not necessarily a dealer, but a dealer might recommend a good independent one). Like Saucy Minx said, that person would probably have a well-informed idea of how good the machine is. You could also check online for sewing machine forums – some people are collectors and know about a lot of different machines, other people have one or a few machines and know everything about their models.

          With my pessimistic review I don’t mean to say that your machine is necessarily bad, but just wanted to warn you that the Singer name may not be a guarantee of a good machine, particularly since yours is from an era when they were not keeping up with their historical quality.

  30. Jessen*

    Anyone have any good grain-free cat food recommendations? Preferably something that’s low-fat.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      My kitties went totally grain-free a couple of years ago, and Sam’s fur totally changed texture (in a good way) — it’s silky soft now. They like Merrick and Sheba. And for a while they were really into this, which is literally just shredded chicken and looks like people-food, but they decided as a group to stop eating it. (They randomly decide en masse to stop eating things; it’s weird.)

    2. Hellanon*

      I’ve got my cats on Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient cat food – it’s grain free (duck & potato) and I think it’s probably high protein enough that they are not overeating. Everybody seems to have slimmed down somewhat from when I had the on Blue Indoor + wet food, in any case. They do like it though- when I had to break into the emergency wet food stash last week, I got a lot of displeased tail flicks and dirty looks.

      1. K*

        For a while my cats were on Blue Wilderness Indoor and they loved it. Recently I switched them to Taste of the Wild because it’s a lot cheaper. They seem to like it so far. I did try Blue Basics but one of my cats flat out refused to eat it.

      2. Seal*

        Mine are on Blue Buffalo Limited Ingredient as well – duck and potato. The kitten I adopted after my idiot neighbors abandoned him has a food allergy so all 3 of my cats were on a very expensive prescription dry food for a time. When I got him, the poor kitten had shredded his neck from scratching and had to go on antibiotics and steriods to clear up the ensuing infection. Once he grew up and his allergies stabilized, the vet recommended switching to the cheaper low ingredient food and he’s been fine ever since. All 3 of them get regular wet food (Purina, which doesn’t bother the one with the allergies at all) twice a day in addition to the dry low ingredient food. They’re all very healthy now and pretty slim, which I didn’t really attribute to the high-protein diet until I saw the post above.

    3. Meadowsweet*

      Mine like Akana and Origen for dry. I think they’re grain-free but am not positive (can’t check right now, sorry)

    4. YandO*

      We feed our Luna:

      Dry food: Orijen
      Wet Food: Hound and Gatos
      Raw Frozen: Primal

      We got her one sick kitty: ringworm, tummy worms, fleas, food allergies, etc. It took months to figure out she really cannot handle any grain. At 2 months, she was under 2 pounds.

      She is now 1.5 years, 10 pounds, and many tons of attitude :)

      I will post a good website for food evaluation

    5. skyline*

      My cat eat Merrick Purrfect Bistro dry food and Wellness canned food. I tend to rotate flavors of the latter so they don’t get too attached to any specific protein source.

    6. periwinkle*

      Ask your local pet food place if they have samples of different dry options. Better to find out your cat doesn’t like a brand before you drop the money on a full bag! My furballs have rejected quite a few brands but are happy with Nature’s Variety Instinct. They’ll eat the Healthy Weight chicken but prefer the Raw Boost version that includes freeze-dried raw food. They love the freeze-dried nuggets included with the kibble but not the treats or actual raw food. Go figure.

      They liked VerUS a lot, too, but distribution is limited mainly to the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. That was fine when we lived in DC but I had to transition them off VerUS when I accepted the job in Seattle!

    7. Sparrow*

      Based on the reccomendation from this site, I switched over to Sheba canned food. Mine only like the seafood pate flavors. They get wet food in the morning and evening mixed in with water. They get a limited amount of “crunchies” ( aka dry food) and I give them Purina Beyond.

      1. Windchime*

        I went out and bought the Sheba based on the recommendations here. Sadly, he didn’t like it at all and wouldn’t eat it. Mine gets Purina Pro Plan dry food, and then a little bit of Fancy Feast wet food at night. He’s super picky and this is the only combination of food I’ve found that he will eat. There is one brand and flavor of treats that he will eat; everything else gets pushed around suspiciously with his paw and then ignored.

        1. RR*

          my guys didn’t go for sheba either. they do like fussie cat, which is also grain-free, but way more $$$

    8. Sunday*

      Mine gets Weruva brand pouches of “Cats in the Kitchen” line of wet food. (Won’t touch canned food. Won’t touch baby food. Will eat canned tuna, please.) We tried all the types, but she’s settled on the purple pouch called “Love me tender.” I add water to the pouch before serving it, so there’s more liquid to help with kidneys. Pouches are BPA free. weruva dot com. She also gets kibble, but not grain free.

      It took us a while to find something she’d like over time, but she was more enthusiastic about this line than she been about anything other than canned tuna. Note that our vet was concerned about the amount of protein she’s getting (at 17, her kidney function is a concern) but the pet food store pointed out that per the packaging, the amounts are equivalent to that in the kibble the vet wanted us to use – and which she wouldn’t touch.

    9. abby*

      Our cats eat:

      raw frozen: Rad Cat, Primal, and smallbatch – the proteins we feed (rabbit, turkey, chicken) are all moderate fat
      raw freeze dried: Primal, Stella and Chewy – Primal is lower fat than S&C
      canned, about 25% of diet: Nature’s Variety Instinct
      dry as snack only: Orijen Regional Red

      All are grain-free and low in carbohydrates. Reducing carbohydrates is important for managing cat weight. My male cat is a special-needs cat who cannot tolerate too much fat, particularly cooked fat, so we have to watch this.

    10. Cathy*

      Earthborn Holistics. Wonderful stuff! My kitties have slimmed down a bit and the increase in energy is unbelievable. I like the part where less fillers means decreased litterbox deposits!

  31. Today's Satan*

    My brother had his other hip replaced a week ago Friday. Saturday afternoon he had a stroke. Saturday night he went into acute kidney failure. His kidneys have bounced back (his creatinine levels are now back in the normal range), but he’s got cognitive problems thanks to the stroke. They also found a problem with his heart. (My mom explained it as “too many wires, so they need to remove a few.” I have no idea what the actual diagnosis is).

    When I relayed this to my boyfriend (first the stroke then, later, the kidney failure) he laughed. Both times. He doesn’t like my brother (and neither do I), but I don’t think that’s an appropriate response to “My family member might die.”

    When I told my friends, they ignored me and instead told health stories of their own.

    I’m disappointed in the people I thought I could lean on for support. :-(

      1. Today's Satan*

        Sadly, my boyfriend looked exceptionally pleased. And when I asked him about it, he said something like, “It’s just ironic that your brother thinks he’s such a tough guy, but one little surgery brings him to his knees.” It wasn’t a nervous laugh.

        1. fposte*

          Huh, I’d be more thrown by that comment than the laugh. But is there any possibility his way of taking your side against your brother has been stuff like this, and he didn’t figure out that this was not the time?

          Anyway, I’m sorry; I know even if you’re not close to your brother this is hard. And I’m sorry those close to you had a glitchy moment, and I hope they return to form soon.

          1. Today's Satan*

            Yes, fposte, I think that’s what happened. Brother is normally the ‘enemy’ and Boyfriend doesn’t have the social maturity to realize that Now Is Not The Time.

            It was frustrating and hurtful that he couldn’t just own up to that, though. (“We normally roll our eyes when we hear about bad stuff happening to Brother, because it’s usually of his own making. I wasn’t thinking when you told me about the stroke and kidneys. I’m sorry I laughed.”) Instead he dug in, tried to defend himself, and just made it much, much worse. Boyfriend has several diagnosed personality disorders, so I just keep reminding myself that he’s not “normal” to begin with.

        2. schnapps*

          How long have you been with this guy?

          he was either a) trying to make you feel better about not feeling so bad that your brother is that ill or b) he’s a jerk.

          If you care about your b/f then I’d suggest addressing his reaction and letting him know how what he said and did made you feel. Your friends’ reactions were kind of shitty. However I don’t think they meant ill by it. People often try to turn the story back to themselves to show that they are trying to understand (but it often has the opposite effect on the person they’re talking to).

          (feel free to get angry at me; I have big shoulders :))

          It’s rough when this happens and you feel so alone. Offering you virtual hugs and all support.

          1. Today's Satan*

            Thanks, schnapps. No anger here. Your suggestion and observations were spot-on.

            FTR, I think (b) is the correct answer for my boyfriend. Not that he was purposefully trying to be a jerk, but that he is very self-centered and therefore doesn’t read situations correctly. I would feel better if it were (a), because at least then he would have been *trying* to be compassionate.

            As for my friends. . . it was like they were grateful I gave them a topic to launch off from. Like we were doing improv or something. And it never circled back around to my brother. Or how my mom is holding up, having to take care of him after just having *her* hip replaced 5 weeks ago. I said, “Family member in hospital,” and they were like, “Ooh! I have a story about that!”

            But thank you all here for listening. Sometimes I live for the weekend free-for all. :-)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              This is probably not much help, but I found that some people are not able to give support in times like this. A lot of the reason for that is their own life experience. It could be that they have never had a person close to them get really, really sick. Or it could be that they did have someone get sick but their family dynamic is so weird that they did not learn how to have a normal interaction about these things.

              I don’t want to say the lack of empathy or support is a function of age. Because it’s not at all. It’s all in what you have experienced in life. I know a seven year old that had lost both parents and is very sympathetic– as best as a child can be. I know a 50 year old that has never lost anyone, tries very hard to be actively sympathetic and supportive but you can see the struggle this person has. And then there are people like you are talking about here.
              My best suggestion comes from having my heart crushed a few times. And my suggestion is this- look at the person you are talking with. If they have not had some similar life experiences then they may or may not be able to give you the support you need. (Yes, it’s a need, not a want.) When I have an aching heart, I sometimes cannot risk a cold reaction. This makes me think about who is going to be helpful to talk to and who is not going to be helpful to talk to. Deliberately seek out people who have something to say that is worth listening to- those are the people to talk to.

              I am sorry your friends and BF came up short here. I hope there are other people around you that will be more supportive. This is one of these double whammies- bad relationship PLUS health crisis. You aren’t sorting one thing, you are sorting two things. Take one day at a time and respond to the needs you see on that particular day. This means your needs, your mom’s needs and your bro’s needs. Go one day at a time. Your answers maybe different on different days and that is okay. There is always a path to get us through this stuff, even if we cannot see the path.

              1. Today's Satan*


                My friends are 11-17 years older than I am. I’m 48. They’ve lost parents, and close cousins, and had family members who have had scary medical problems. They’ve had their own scary medical problems, too. I thought I would at least get a “That can be very frightening. Thankfully he was in the right place to have a stroke or have his kidneys shut down.” *Something*.

                But, yes, I will definitely look at the person I am talking with in the future. I will continue to share with this group of friends, but not expect any kind of support, just more of a letting them know what’s going on in my life. I have learned over the years that I am my best support and that I need to give myself whatever it is that I might seek from other people.

        3. Artemesia*

          I hope you are not counting on this boyfriend to be of support to you if anything bad every happens to you. That sounds a lot like someone with serious failure of empathy. He isn’t acting like a jerk; he is a jerk.

          I disliked my MIL for very good reason including the way she treated my husband, but when she was on her last legs I was able to understand that she was my husband’s mother and that he loved her in spite of herself and singing ding dong the witch is dead was not going to be something he wanted to hear.

        4. Windchime*

          Sounds like it’s time for a new boyfriend.

          I’m sorry to hear about your brother; here’s hoping that he is on the mend soon.

        5. StillHealing*

          Wow, that is cruel of him. Has he always lacked empathy? Is it just something between your brother and your boyfriend that could be behind his laughter and statement?

    1. NicoleK*

      Sometimes real life friends are not able to give/provide the support you need. For me, it’s been helpful to seek support from online community from time to time.

    2. Revanche*

      I’m sorry the people around you reacted that way. No matter how you feel about your brother, 99% of the time, hearing that he might die means you’re going to feel at least a little bad, not … gloaty? Righteous? Not sure how to characterize your BF’s reaction but I recognize it.

      I’ve learned, from my own chronic problems as well as listening to friends with serious, potentially fatal illnesses, that many people are horrible at listening AND providing support. It’s a darn shame. I say re-training is needed for all! In the meantime, some of my best friends and most supportive friends have been those I met online in the process of learning how I couldn’t lean on the family and friends I knew offline. Silver lining and all that, I suppose.

  32. Hummingbird*

    **Some of what I talk about references people I work with but is not about work.

    Have any of you been on a mission trip before? One of my very part-time coworkers is an executive director of a non-profit organization that is associated with his church in town. This non-profit and the church do a lot of charity work, usually focusing on a specific place each year. Sometimes it’s local, while other times it is far away. Anyway, I’m not a member of the congregation, but he says I do not have to be to participate in their mission trips. So next year, they are going to Ethiopia. Over there, a church in a small rural town outside the capital has become essentially its sister church and hosts the organization when trip participants come over. The organization last traveled in 2009 to there.

    According to my coworker, they do a lot: Doctors and nurses go for medical. Some of the participants host recreational and educational activities for the children. High school students go, and some of the boys will help with construction projects. I’d probably be helping in the recreational and educational department.

    I read the State Department’s website. There aren’t any travel warnings or alerts out for Ethiopia, but its descriptions leaves a lot to be desired. Then there’s the issue regarding what vaccinations to get. I understand that. Someone I knew a few years ago got a ton of vaccines just to go on an African safari. I guess I’m just wondering if it’s worth the trip? I have never gone overseas for a mission trip before; it’s always been for leisure and tourism. I think it’ll be rewarding, but is it worth to go with a few things to keep strong vigilance over? You can read the State Department’s website to get the full gist. I’m interested in hearing stories if any of you have some to share.

    If I decide to go, I’ll write in on a future thread about how it conflicts with work. I want to decide first if I’m going or not before I even broach that subject. Again, not turning this into work. I want to talk strictly about the trip for now (see above).

    1. Not So NewReader*

      If you google you will find stories of missions in Ethiopia and Africa. People write their stories and post them online. I believe it was in Asia, one minister wrote that he spent nine hours a day just lugging water. The community had no water. Read as many of these stories as you can find. Make sure you understand what you will be doing. I’d recommend reading between the lines and taking nothing for granted.

      I am not trying to discourage you, but some of this stuff is harder than you’d think possible. A friend of mine went to a country in the Western Hemisphere. She stayed there year. She has been home for several years now and she says she still wakes up in total fear. So you are wise to look at smaller trips.

      1. fposte*

        I don’t know if she reads on the weekend, but I believe commenter nep went to the Gambia with the Peace Corps. I know it’s the other side of the continent, but the culture shock and impact might be similar–maybe she’ll chime in.

        1. Hummingbird*

          That would be interesting to hear! Like I wrote in response to Not So New Reader, this trip will only be 10-12 days so nothing like a Peace Corps assignment. I hope she does. Or if anyone sees her commenting on a thread during the week, if we can think to ask her to stop by here, I’d want to hear what she can say on this topic.

          1. nep*

            I was a Peace Corps volunteer in a West African country for three years then continued to live in the region for another 13 or so.
            Hummingbird, you write: ‘is it worth to go with a few things to keep strong vigilance over?’ I don’t get what you mean there — could you explain?
            You refer a couple of times to whether it will be ‘worth it’. That depends on how much you want to experience this.
            I will say that I wouldn’t let State Department statements or required vaccinations deter you. Granted, safety isn’t guaranteed on such a trip — but is it anywhere, after all?
            Even though I was clear on the other side of the continent and in a different ‘context’, happy to answer any questions.
            By when do you have to decide whether you’ll go?

            1. Hummingbird*

              While I hate vaccines, that’s not why I’d be deterred. It’s the instability of the region. Ethiopia was attacked back in 2013 by Somalians, who are their neighbors. That’s the fear essentially. That’s what I mean by taking a risk in regards to how things could get there.

              I’ve never been to Africa so I don’t know what to expect. I’m excited to have this opportunity to cross my path. I’m curious and would ultimately like to go. I’m interested in meeting the people and help them/work with them. I’ve seen and heard of other mission trips when I was in school so I’d like to do it at least once. It also makes me feel comfortable that I know the executive director who’s done this trip before.

              This trip isn’t until next summer so I have time. If I decide to go, I still need to speak with my summer job supervisor so that can ultimately hinder plans. That’s not for this thread anyway, but I might bring it up in a future work open thread.

              1. nep*

                I see.
                I get what you mean about instability. Indeed there are pockets of instability across the continent. I’ve gotten stuck for hours in desert sands in an area teeming with armed rebels; I’ve been detained by drunken soldiers; I’ve had a tire fly off a hired car during torrential rain in Nigeria. And on and on. But I’ve had more heartening, heart-warming, soul-nourishing moments than I could ever, ever begin to count. Wouldn’t trade a single second of it (‘good’ or ‘bad’) for anything, of course.
                People have varying ways of looking at such things. A colleague who worked in some of the most dangerous hotspots in W Africa for years was killed when hit by a car while on home leave in the US — so go figure. He survived crazy dangerous situations in some of the toughest places on the continent, and look at the way he went out. This is what I meant about there is no ‘100 percent safe’.
                I think there is no doubt when it’s all said and done and you set foot back home, you’ll be really glad you did it. I reckon the experience would be enriching in countless ways.
                Well you’ve got a while anyway before deciding — who knows what can happen between now and then to sway you one way or the other. All the best and do keep us posted.

                1. fposte*

                  I confess my motive was slightly ulterior in summoning you, nep–I’ve always thought this was a really interesting aspect of your life and am glad I got to hear more about it.

                2. nep*

                  Not sure why there was no option to reply to your comment here, fposte. Anyway, groovy. I always look forward to your comments as I browse AAM. Cheers.

              2. Dynamic Beige*

                I saw a statistic the other day that every day in the US there is a mass shooting. Now, I don’t know if that’s true or what qualifies as a mass shooting but recently people were gunned down in a movie theatre (again). Nowhere is really “safe”, we just think what is familiar is. So yes, you could go there and find yourself suddenly in the middle of a conflict that they’ll make a major motion picture about… or you could go there and nothing like that happens at all, which is probably more likely. I’m sure that if another war happens or is likely to break out within a month of your going, the trip will be cancelled. But odds are, nothing huge and eventful will happen.

                Look at it this way, what you’re afraid of is like an airplane crash. When airplanes crash, it’s BIG NEWS and on all the TV news channels with constant commentary about what did/might/may have happened to cause it — never mind that every day there are thousands of flights that were uneventful. If you’re one of the people who was on the airplane that crashed, there’s precious little you can do about it and it was not something you expected or hoped would happen, but it was one of the risks of the thing you signed up to do and your bad luck (or fate) that it happened at that time. Now consider car accidents. There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, of car crashes every day (I don’t know). Can you imagine what your evening newscast would be like if they had to broadcast every car crash that happened in your area? “A 16 year old girl with her learner’s permit rear ended another car in the Safeway parking lot today. More damage was done to the front bumper of vehicle she was driving than to the car she hit and no one was injured. Meanwhile across town, a 35 year old driver didn’t see a stop sign and crashed into a car that was crossing the intersection lawfully…” There would be nothing on the news except car accidents. They only broadcast the really bad ones.

                So having said all that and at the risk of sounding morbid… if this is something you *really* want to do, then be prepared. If you don’t have a will, make one up and let someone know where it is. Get the forms signed so that someone in your family or a friend you trust has power of attorney and can manage your affairs if you’re injured or taken hostage. Write up a list of personal items you would like to leave to certain people if you have such things. Make your wishes known about whether you would prefer cremation or burial in your will if necessary. Really, everyone should have that in place anyway but we just don’t like being confronted with these things.

                1. fposte*

                  You made me curious, and it looks like there are approximately 15,000 car crashes every day in the US. Fatality averages range from 90-120–so again, it kind of depends on which one you’re in when it comes to how it goes.

                2. Dynamic Beige*

                  So if between 90-120 people are killed every day in the US in car crashes… why isn’t there a huge “Cars must be made safer! Everyone should be made to retest for their driver’s licence every X years? Better Driving Now!” campaign going on? If one airplane crashed every day killing between 90-120 people in the US, I can just picture the outrage and non-stop news coverage around better regulation for the airline industry, engineers talking about how to make safer planes, why it’s better/safer to take the train lifestyle pieces. But because all those car accidents happen in isolation from each other and it doesn’t affect a lot of people outside the main actors, it’s no big deal. It’s also like the gun control issue. A friend of mine is very passionate about gun control in the US and she is a walking book of stats on it. I can’t remember them but it’s astonishing how many people are killed or wounded in the US every day by a gun. If all those people were in one place and were killed by one person (or a small team since there are a lot) it would be a huge scandal. Like the plane crash a day, if all the gun violence was contained in one area every day, people would see what a huge problem it is… but when mass shootings do occur, it’s always labelled as someone with mental health issues/an axe to grind did this one horrible thing and we shouldn’t punish everyone else because of what they did by better controlling access to the amount and type of guns anyone should be allowed to have because: Freedom! I am not trying to start some big debate on gun control, I’m just saying that we tend to only get exposed to and remember the big things. It’s easy to think of Sandy Hook as a terrible event, or that one war that broke out, or that one auto accident of 300 cars during heavy fog but that can’t stop people from sending their kids to school, travelling for work or pleasure, or getting behind the wheel of a car because it might happen again and I could be in the middle of it! We can’t all function as a world of hermits. Not yet, anyway.

                3. I'm an astronaut's wife and this is a matter of national security!*

                  For what it’s worth, cars *are* a whole lot safer today, and there are still auto safety campaigns. But the focus has shifted from Ralph Nader yelling about horrible unsafe cars to car companies making a big deal over making cars safer. Nowadays with seat belts, airbags, and crumple zones, getting into an accident is safer (and more expensive) than ever before.

                  (I never thought I’d live to see self-driving cars. But unless I drop dead soon, I think it’s gonna happen).

          2. nep*

            p.s. What would be your reasons for wanting to go? What would be your reasons for not wanting to go?

      2. Hummingbird*

        This trip will only be for 10-12 days. I’ve been talking with my coworker, and he’s given me some insight into what they do. Not so much as a day-by-day itinerary, but more of what they usually do in general as well as logistics (paying for the trip, church partner over there, etc.). That’s a good idea though to look for blogs and online write ups.

        1. misspiggy*

          I’d suggest you only go if you want to learn and be a good advocate for Ethiopia/that particular community when you return. It is fairly unlikely that the work you’ll do there couldn’t be done by a local person, and it’s far better for the local economy for you to donate the cost of paying local people to do that work, rather than spending money on travel and vaccinations. If you have rare and in-demand skills, a longer trip would be better. If you’re going to show solidarity and raise tons of funds for that community after your return, great. But don’t go with the assumption that you are there to help directly, because it undermines the the confidence of such communities in their own skills and perpetuates the narrative of the West saving Africa, which isn’t borne out by history. As to your security, I’d do a lot of research into how welcome and trusted your particular organisation is in that part of the world. Local connections and trust are the key to keeping safe in insecure areas.

          1. nep*

            Spot on. Excellent points. Down with the ‘West saving Africa’ BS. We need less and less of that and more and more support and respect for local people and their competence, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and resilience (and on and on).

          2. Treena*

            +1. Seriously. If you want to see Africa, just go and see it! Nothing wrong with touring a country instead of “helping.”

            1. nep*

              Yes — I must say this was one difficult aspect of the PC thing, and even jobs I had with aid agencies. Ugh.

            2. nep*

              To be fair, it doesn’t seem like Hummingbird was looking for a way to go to Africa and landed on this mission trip — Just that this opportunity has come up and it happens to be to Africa.

              1. Anon for this*

                Oh, for sure. I think the opportunity was offered and now Hummingbird is trying to figure out if they want to/should/can go. I was referring to all of these “mission” trips that are really just an excuse for a congregation to get together on some trip and feel good about themselves.

                And I didn’t explicitly say so (and I don’t think Hummingbird was implying this at all), but it really bothers me that people think the more “ethical” way to go to a country is to be on a service trip. When in reality, like Stephanie says below, the money you spend on flight/vaccines could be donated directly to a real non-profit (ie, not a church) or they could participate in a local service project.

          3. Stephanie*

            Or could you save the cost of airfare and do a similar project domestically? If you’re in the U.S., there’s probably somewhere in your area that needs similar services.

        2. Artemesia*

          A 12 day service trip is just an expensive fancy vacation. There is no way the cost equals the service. Undoubtedly the recipients would be better off with the money to hire locals to do needed work. This is not true if you are a brain surgeon going in to do specialized surgery or something similar. But for the rest of us — yeah — exotic vacation.

    2. Sunday*

      A couple questions for you to consider:

      How comfortable are you in “less comfortable” surroundings? Ok with camping, pit toilets, no electricity, etc?
      How interested are you in learning about the local culture, including food and language?
      Are you comfortable spending time where you don’t speak the language?
      Is the work to be done planned and managed by the locals?
      Are you interested in learning what the locals have to teach you?
      Are you interested in doing this work in the States too, or instead?
      Can you be committed to or comfortable with the cause? It will be the context for the mission work.

      I’m a big fan of international travel. I hope you enjoy the decision making process.

  33. schnapps*

    So I have a question about kitchen green bins.

    We now have organics disposal. The local org that runs the region has decreed that All Organics Shall Be Placed in a Separate Bin and Picked Up Weekly (Whereas Regular Garbage is to be Picked Up Biweekly). It’s not just compost, but anything that comes from a plant or animal (think: bones, meat trimmings, leftover cat food in addition to the compost stuff). We have a small bin in the kitchen where we throw the stuff, then it gets emptied out every day or two into the bigger bin in the garage. We cannot use the biodegradable plastic bags in it because it apparently screws up the separation machinery and they just chuck it into the garbage if they come across it. I don’t pretend to know how it works on that end, but it sounds labour-intensive and disgusting.

    ANYWAYS, my 6yo loves fruit (obvs). So we have fruit flies in the garage and in the kitchen no matter what I do. Also maggots in the garage bin and don’t even start me on that.

    Short of putting the kitchen bin the freezer (which I don’t really want to do because EW), does anyone have any suggestions? Tonight I soaked a paper towel in vinegar and threw it in there so hopefully that will smother them enough so that I can take it out to the big bin later. It’s on the patio now.

    Any suggestions for the garage bin are also appreciated. My dad swears by mothballs, but I don’t really want to have those fumes in the garage.

    1. Meadowsweet*

      it sounds odd, but we’ve had luck using a stainless steel bucket rather than the plastic bin. For some reason it seems to discourage the fruit flies (or maybe we’ve just been lucky since switching). It also cleans like a dream, which the plastic emphatically did not. Baking soda and elderly spices are the other things we use that might be helping (the elderly spices were started to mask the smell so it didn’t attract animals)

      Can you not use either kind of plastic bag? There’s one kind we can use and one we can’t (and I can never remember which is which so I use the paper bags instead)

      Could you freeze the most-likely-to-attract-flies things in a plastic bag (not the bin, because definitely ew!) and then just empty the bag into the big bin on your compost day? It does mean having a section of your freezer taken up, but it might be worth it in the hot weather.

      There’s also the ‘Greenlid’ – it’s kitchen-sized bins of cardboard I think. I don’t know much about them, but they were on Dragon’s Den :)

    2. Cath in Canada*

      We stopped using the small bin; instead, we put all our food scraps into wax-lined paper bags that we keep in the freezer. We toss the frozen paper bags into the big food scraps bin on collection day – they don’t thaw out before pick-up, so there are no flies or maggots. It hasn’t been a problem, and it got rid of the fruit fly infestation (in the kitchen) and maggots (in the big food scraps bin outside) that we acquired when the city first introduced the food scrap pick-up system and changed the collection schedule to food scraps every week, garbage every two weeks. I get what you’re saying about not wanting to put garbage in the freezer, but it really doesn’t feel gross – liquids freeze before they could ever get through the wax. If you’re really worried about it you could put the paper bag inside a sealed plastic bag.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I started freezing my chicken bones and other meat scraps- it has cut down on the maggots by 90% or so.
      I also picked up an organic spray that I wash the cans out with. The spray bottle screws right on to the garden hose. It’s pretty easy to work with.
      Somewhere I saw glass fruit fly traps. You put something in them and just set them on the counter. I can’t remember where I saw that.

    4. LCL*

      Vinegar attracts fruit flies. The disposable fruit fly traps sold by Lee Valley work well.
      The way to keep fruit flies down is, don’t leave any fruit or veggies on the counter. Get rid of the kitchen compost bin and take that kind of trash out after every meal, that’s what I do. If someone as lazy as me about housework can manage it, it is easy.

      Running the kitchen scraps to the garage bin sounds like a good chore for the 6 year old fruit eater. You are very fortunate that your child eats fruit; when I was that age I was so squirmed about the textures that I wouldn’t touch it.

    5. Composting*

      I dispose of the small daily stuff in a large emptied yogurt container that I keep in the fridge and when full put them in a composting bag in the freezer (when I’m cooking it means almost immediately but it’s still easier for me to use the container to dump into the floppy bag without making a mess, and it’s easier for the daily stuff like a banana peel or egg shells). It is really not that gross. I can use the bags in my area but it would be just as easy to dump them out of the bag in their frozen state. I have an on and off issue with roaches so did not want to leave any food out.

    6. Mephyle*

      It’s easy to make your own fruit fly trap out of any empty plastic bottle like a used water bottle or soda bottle. Cut off the top just below the “shoulder” of the bottle. Take the top piece, turn it upside down and set it back on the rest of the bottle. Put a little vinegar (or old red wine if you happen to have some left over) in the bottom of the bottle. The fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar. They are funneled into the bottle but it’s hard for them to find their way out. If they do start coming out, put a little tape over part of the bottle mouth to make it narrower.

  34. Schuyler*

    Well last week in New Orleans was fun. I did have one really fun night on Bourbon that I think I’m still recovering from. At any rate, I’m looking forward to returning sometime and doing more exploring, especially if it’s not attached to a conference.

    Also last week, we found out our cat likely has lymphoma. Sam’s the most gentle creature I’ve ever encountered, and he’s been through a lot this year. It’s been a rough week trying to sort out options and emotions. Positive thoughts are welcome!

  35. NicoleK*

    Been dealing with stress/anxiety for the past two months. The last couple of weeks, it’s the worst it’s ever been. It’s purely situational and 100% work related. Here’s what I’ve done :

    1. I’m plan to take a day off here and there
    2. I have a vacation scheduled for mid August.
    3. begin exercising
    4. utilized EAP through work (no longer an option as I’ve used up all the free sessions)
    5. began taking a low dose anti-anxiety med
    6. socialize with others outside work
    7. journal
    8. use relaxing music

    What else can I do? What kind of therapies (talk therapy) is best to manage anxiety?


    1. schnapps*

      So exercise is good. Really good. I also take a low dose antidepressant which keeps me stable, but if I want to feel really good, I need to exercise 5 of 7 days per week for a half an hour at least.

      I highly recommend hot yoga (Doesn’t have to be Bikram, which is a specific set of moves in a specific order).

      And meditation. Letting go is the major part of it.

    2. Jean*

      Cognitive behavioral therapy helps a person reframe his/her thoughts and responses to distressing situations.
      You can use the “find a therapist” feature of the Psychology Today web site to search for counselors by a gazillion variables including area(s) of specialization, zip code, whether they take insurance & which insurance plans…it’s not just psychologists but also people with Master’s degrees and some psychiatrists. Many of the professionals listed offer a link to their own professional web sites. My hunch is that “anxiety” is one of the areas of specialization. I’m putting it into quotes just to distinguish the term–NO editorializing here! I have anxieties myself and am very sympathetic to fellow/sister travelers who seek mental health care.

      NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a U.S. national organization with many local (state, city, county–it varies) branches. They may have helpful support groups or referrals.

      Good for you for taking care of yourself. I hope your job situation improves (even if it means that you first have to find another job). Good luck.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Is there anything you love to do that lets you completely lose yourself? For me, it’s movies. At the worst of my depression, I took myself to two movies in a day. Maybe it’s a museum or a solo hike or something. I also like to cook and bake complicated things. Work is a big anxiety trigger for me, and the key to letting go– for me, anyway– is getting myself to a place where I’m truly not thinking about work.

      Exercising is a very, very good start– take a long walk. Listen to that relaxing music– or an audiobook or a podcast– on your walk, and enjoy.

      1. NicoleK*

        Yes! As strange as this sounds, I love watching crime documentaries (Dateline, 48 hours, and/or most show on the Investigation Discovery channel)

        1. SherryD*

          I get the crime documentary thing. One evening, I was feeling particularly anxious and upset. By chance, I watched a documentary about a politician’s misdoings and fall from grace. By the time the doc was over I was SO MAD about the politician that I had temporarily forgot about my problems. Clearly not a magic bullet solution, but sometimes it’s just nice to be able to mentally change the channel for a little while.

    4. NDQ*

      I wouldn’t say I have work place anxiety, I just don’t enjoy the 8-5 routine. To deal with this, I have done several of the things you list but I also got a handle on my finances and ramped up my savings so I can buy income producing assets. It has made all the difference in my attitude.

      Now with a plan to retire early in 6 years, work doesn’t seem so unbearable.

      Keep up the exercise, eat well and find outlets you enjoy.


    5. Dynamic Beige*

      Years ago I bought CD that was a meditation for stress relief that I sometimes play when I’m going to sleep. Recently, I’ve switched out into some other ones. I find that sometimes when I go to bed, my brain is just running, jumping from thought to thought so having something to “follow” with simple directions makes me focus on that and I just go to sleep. I have gone all the way to the end a few times, but most times I fall asleep somewhere in the middle.

      If you’re not in the best shape, you might like to try yoga. Because it’s lead by an instructor and it’s very “focus on your body, don’t push yourself. If your body is OK, stay that way, if it’s not, it’s OK to move” or at least the last instructor I had was like that. The idea of going somewhere and having someone yell at me to “feel the burn!” makes me throw up in my mouth a little. Just one thing you should know, which I didn’t until I spoke with someone I know who teaches yoga — she’s training to become something along the lines of a certified trauma yoga instructor (I can’t remember what the actual thing was called). Essentially, she noticed in some classes that doing the poses/developing their skills made people cry/leave the room for a bit and after asking around, she found out that yoga can release past trauma/emotion that your body has been holding on to. So this training is about helping people release these things (not sure how it works) and move through them. Does it happen to everyone? No, not according to her but the way she described it, I found it an interesting side effect.

      Or, you might want to try a kickboxing class. Because sometimes you just want to smack someone upside the head but you cannot because: jail. But you can hit a heavy bag as much as you want and pretend it’s someone you want to smack upside the head ;) I’ve heard a similar thing with golf balls, pretend it’s the person who’s on your last nerve and smack them into the next county.

    6. Today's anon*

      In addition to what others have said, making sure I get enough sleep is also really helpful, if difficult.

      1. StillHealing*

        Sleep, as Today’s anon has written.
        I’m aware that anxiety can disturb sleep significantly so if that is currently an issue, consider seeing a doctor for a sleep aid. Sleeping well night after night goes a very long way in helping to relieve anxiety or any other medical issues.

    7. Delyssia*

      You might look into MoodGYM (link to follow), which is online self-help based on cognitive behavioral therapy. I’ve heard good things, but to be honest, I had trouble sticking with it. The biggest thing that helped me at that time was leaving the awful job I was in.

  36. Meadowsweet*

    So I’m thinking of taking a trip to San Francisco this November. Are there any things I must see or should avoid? And is November a terrible time of year to go? :)

    1. Cath in Canada*

      San Francisco is my favourite US city by far. I’ve visited twice and would go back in a heartbeat.

      If the weather’s good and you’re reasonably fit: my all-time favourite thing to do in San Fransisco is to rent a bike and cycle along the waterfront, across the Golden Gate Bridge, and over to the ferry that brings you back into downtown. It’s not super hilly, and my husband who hadn’t ridden a bike for years did it no problem at all. There’s a really nice bar near the ferry terminal on the far side if you’ve just missed one!

      Alcatraz is also fun, or just a harbour cruise if you like boats but don’t fancy a prison tour. I also love Golden Gate Park and strolling through Haight Ashbury or Chinatown. And I believe taking a cable car, preferably hanging off the side on a steep downhill section, is practically compulsory.

    2. Today's Satan*

      November is a great time to go. It will be chilly. Dress in layers.

      Either tour the Boudin bakery or just buy some Boudin sourdough bread.

      Marina Greens. Pacific Beach. Golden Gate Park. Hiking on Angel Island.

    3. Jillociraptor*

      Basically every time of year in the Bay Area is lovely. Word of caution though: make sure you always have a jacket or sweater with you. Especially in SF, it gets a little chilly in the evenings or if the sun goes behind a cloud.

      If you like walking, skating, or biking, Golden Gate Park is really beautiful and fun to explore. They sometimes block all the roads through it, which might be relevant to you as you try to get there, or might be a bonus if you want to bike or rollerblade or something through the park.

      If you’re here on a weekend the farmer’s market at the Ferry Building is pretty fun. If you’d like the get off the beaten path, one of my favorite quirky Bay Area things to do is the Pacific Pinball Museum in Alameda. I’m not that into pinball, but it’s fun and so interesting to see the evolution of the machines from the turn of the century til today. Lots of cute restaurants and stuff in Alameda too.

      Telegraph Ave in Berkeley is eclectic and fun, plus historic if you’re interested at all in the hippie movement. There was a great article in The Atlantic a few weeks ago about the photography of Andy Samberg’s dad, who has this huge collection of photographs of hippies and his own reflections living during that time. People’s Park was the site of some really interesting and tragic protests as well. If you’re into that stuff, it’s super interesting.

      1. S*

        As someone who lived on Telegraph for 4 years, I wouldn’t call it fun… convenient, sure, because you can find a ton of stuff up and down the street, and I really love Rasputin Music, but it’s not the hippie enclave it was in the 60s.

    4. S*

      November’s usually chilly, so bring layers! San Francisco is a great place to visit. If you’re physically up to it, Land’s End is a hiking trail along the west side of the city: glorious views, walkways down to rocky beaches, lots of cypress trees… it’s my favorite place in the city.

    5. Revanche*

      November’s quite nice out here! (I’ve finally acclimated, I used to think November was miserable.)

      We recently hosted a friend and I blogged about taking her about town. I haven’t done it yet but I’m told that the Alcatraz tour is really worth it (but book it ahead!), and the Mission District is great for food.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I liked the Alcatraz tour when I took it, very interesting and informative but the place itself gave me the creeps.

        Yes, it will be chilly and don’t forget to bring an umbrella!

    6. poetics*

      Heartily second the recommendation for Lands End. Even if you don’t feel up to climbing the seemingly millions of steps, the views from the first section of trail are amazing. If it’s not too foggy, you’ll get a good view of golden gate.

      Going down the embarcadero and stopping at the ferry building is a must. The ferry building can get busy, but it’s well worth a stop, especially the food. It’s a fun place to people watch. Depending on when you go in November, the ice rink might be open at embarcadero center.

      If you’re into museums, the Legion of Honor is well worth it. There are beautiful views of the bay from outside the museum, and the museum itself is just lovely. If you’re visiting on a Thursday night, nightlife at the Academy of Sciences can be a fun way to see the museum as an adult. They always have a fun theme, and there’s food and several mini bars throughout the museum. It’s also in golden gate park, so it’s a good way to see the park as well.

      I personally avoid pier 39 at all costs. It’s super touristy and crowded, although it’d be better in November. If you do go, the musee mechanique is a fun diversion and not too crowded. It has a ton of very old coin operated games. They also do boat tours of the bay from there. We did the sunset tour once that went to sausalito and back, and it was lovely. You can usually get discounted tickets through goldstar.

    7. Meadowsweet*

      Thank-you so very much everyone! Really glad to hear that November is a decent time to go (with layers + umbrella :) ) and thank-you for so many wonderful suggestions of places to go and things to see!! I think it’s time for a hardcore planning session :D

  37. Alistair*

    Some time back, a bunch of ya’ll recommended the Serial podcast to listen to. I finally downloaded it, and listened on my last trip. Over the past two days, I binged myself through it again. And I have to talk to somebody about it!

    I’ll respond to my own comment here, as a spoil block.

    And thanks for the great recommendation! Anything else similar?

    1. Alistair*

      Ok, spoil block in place!

      I’m fairly well convinced Adnan killed Hae. However, if I were on the jury, I think I’d acquit him as well. There’s just not enough solid evidence to make me 100% sure of his guilt.

      But that brings up the question of why can’t he remember that day. Was he high on something stronger than pot? Did he completely dissociate during the killing, permanently enough that he still doesn’t remember it? Or is he indeed smart and cunning and evil enough to be playing some crazy long game? I rather lean to dissociation, myself.

      Just as Sarah says, the biggest mystery really is Jay. A guy you don’t know super well shows you a body, and you just help bury it? You don’t call the cops, or run away, or anything else? I understand his anti-cop feelings… but dude. Dead girl in the trunk of a car!

      There are other things about the case that bug me and make me shake my head, but those are the biggies for me.

      What did everyone else think?

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I basically agree on the “probably (like 65-70%) guilty, but not enough evidence to convict” thing. There are so many unanswered questions though that I wouldn’t be terribly surprised either way.

        I was frustrated with the final episode – it just kind of stopped, with no great insight or closure. I guess that was kind of the point, but I felt like they could have wrapped it up better, even given the limitations of a genuinely confusing and ambiguous reality.

        1. Alistair*

          Frustrating, yes! It really felt like she had no idea how to end it. But, I think that frustration and lack of closure mirrors what she felt at the end as well.

      2. Nicole*

        I don’t know what to think. Part of me thinks Jay did it because he kept changing his story. In any case, there’s a second podcast taboo the case called Undisclosed. It’s really interesting and gets way more detailed than Serial did.

        1. Alistair*

          I’ll take a look (listen?) at Undisclosed. Though, I’m not sure I want more about this case… Thanks for the heads up!

        2. Sara*

          I’ve been enjoying Undisclosed. It’s very pro-Adnan, but they’re upfront about that bias, and I do think their analysis of the case is very interesting. All three of the hosts are lawyers so they bring perspectives that weren’t as present in Serial.

        3. Blue_eyes*

          Thanks for mentioning Undisclosed. I just downloaded it. Curious to see what they have to say.

  38. Cath in Canada*

    I just found an awesome new podcast: The Black Tapes.

    It’s a paranormal investigation mockumentary, in the style of Serial (as in – shameless rip-off of the Serial style. It even has very similar music. All it’s missing is the “mail… kimp?” girl). It’s slightly hokey in places, but I’ll forgive that because it’s just so very entertaining!

    1. katamia*

      Oh, that sounds like exactly my kind of thing.

      Now I just need to find the attention span for podcasts….

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        I find that if I’ve got something to do that’s relatively mindless like cut the grass or housework, it’s easy to listen to a podcast. It’s like talk radio without all the shouting.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Same here. I find podcasts, especially story-telling podcasts, way better than music for getting me through chores, crowded transit, exercise, and other stuff that you sometimes need to be distracted from!

        2. katamia*

          I use music so often as just white noise to keep me from getting distracted that my attention wanders constantly whe I try to listen to it and I wind up missing everything, unfortunately.

      2. Blue_eyes*

        I like to listen to podcasts when I’m cooking or sewing. Something where I need to look at what I’m doing (so I can’t watch TV) but I still have plenty of mental bandwidth left for listening.

  39. katamia*

    Personal finance (sort of, ish) question:

    I’m moving to Taiwan next month (yay!). I have a credit card with no international fees, but I’ll still be paying my credit card bill (I pay it off in full every month, but I certainly plan to use it while in Taiwan) in US dollars even though I’ll be living in Taiwan. This will require a lot of money shuffling because, while I do have some savings I’ll be keeping in US dollars, all my income will be in NTD. Has anyone done anything like this before? Any tips on how to make this as simple as possible? I’ll be in Taiwan for at least a year, but probably longer.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      Are you getting paid to your US bank account or to a local account? If you’re getting paid to your US account then the bank will automatically convert the Taiwanese currency to the currency that the account is set up in. It will be business as usual. If you’re setting up a local account and getting paid to that account then I recommend putting your current credit card on the back-burner and getting a local credit card through your local bank account. Keep in mind that transferring money from one bank account to another will result in fees (I think I paid $13-$20 to transfer money from my account in North America to my account in SE Asia), and there will be a 5day delay each time you do. If you have a US credit card and are getting paid to a local bank, then you’ll end up transferring money every month and paying fees. It would make a lot more sense to transfer money from your US account to your local account ONCE (so you’re not living pay-check to pay-check), get a local credit card, and then use your income to pay for your credit card going forward. I would actually recommend getting a local account in general if you’re not already doing so. It will make your life a lot easier and will save you a significant amount of money in the long run. I lived in SE Asia for 6months and got a local account and it was a great decision.

      1. CoffeeLover*

        When you want to go back to the US, you can drain the account and close it. Most banks don’t charge you anything for setting up or closing your account. The bank I used charged a fee for closing an account that was less than 6months old, but you wouldn’t have to worry about that.

      2. katamia*

        Yeah, I’ll be getting a local bank account. However, my chances of getting a credit card in Taiwan seem to range from “impossible” to “really difficult and depending a great deal on luck,” and most of the latter are people who have Taiwanese spouses or family members (which I don’t). So I’m operating under the assumption that I’ll be using my US credit card (I feel really uncomfortable carrying cash, so I use my credit card for pretty much everything and don’t see that changing much).

        Out of curiosity, where in SE Asia were you living?

        1. CoffeeLover*

          I was in Singapore. It’s totally different from the rest of SE Asia, but I also travelled the majority of SE Asia while I was there. I didn’t get a chance to go to Taiwan, but I found I mostly paid with cash in all countries (including Singapore, the most developed SE Asian country). Unless I was at a large mall with designer brands, most places didn’t accept credit card. I shopped at markets and ate at street food places. I basically only used my visa to book flights online. I know you say you’re uncomfortable carrying cash, but you might find you need to and it would actually make a lot more sense if you can’t get a local credit card. You don’t need to carry a lot on you; $20 can go a long way there. And you can always just go to an ATM and withdraw whenever you need more. So basically, I’m saying if you can’t get a local credit card, use cash instead (you’ll probably end up doing that anyway).

          1. katamia*

            As far as I can tell, many places in Taiwan (at least where I’ll be, Taipei) do accept credit cards, so it looks like I’ll be able to use my US credit card for grocery shopping and most of the basics. I just feel so insecure and worried about getting robbed when I carry cash (even though I’ve never been robbed in my life). If someone gets my credit card, I can call and cancel it, but if someone steals my cash or even if I just lose it, it’s just gone. I find that terrifying even when it’s just a very little bit of money. I’m not saying I’ll never, ever use cash, but I can’t see that anxiety just going away.

            1. Bangs not Fringe*

              2 days later but my two cents…

              I don’t have experience in Taiwan, but as an expat for 2 years I managed financially by using my US credit card only when necessary (also had no foreign transaction fees) and my local bank-issued debit card, which I used to make purchases and to withdraw cash from ATMs. Some smaller shops and restaurants where I was located did not accept cards and therefore cash was handy.

              Card readers where I was located had a hard time reading magnetic strips on cards as they had already transitioned to chips, not sure if this is the case in Taiwan.

              Also, do you feel unsafe carrying cash in the states? From what I understand, Taiwan is a pretty safe place and carrying cash on your person should be fine. Just take normal precautions as you would at any time (be aware of your belongings and your surroundings).

    2. Aknownymous*

      I have lived abroad for a year, and I have used my US savings account to pay my credit card bill every month. I have a local credit card as well, but I want to take advantage of the points I get on my US card. I am planning to do a larger, one-time transfer to top up that account when I need to, but that won’t be necessary for a while. In the meantime I’m putting money into a savings account here so I’m not burning the candle at both ends :)

    3. it happens*

      I haven’t lived in Taiwan, but when I was an expat the company I worked for helped me to set up a local bank account and credit card. It was the bank that the company did business with, which helped since I did not have a local credit score. You might also want to talk to a bank with US and Taiwan presence, like HSBC, and see if you can use your US credit score to leverage a card in Taiwan. Good luck

      1. katamia*

        Oh, good idea. I think I’ll try calling HSBC and another bank I already have an account with that’s also there to see if that would be something they can help with.

    4. matcha123*

      I don’t know how applicable this is to Taiwan, but a lot of people come to Japan with the same question. Since you say you’ll be paid in NTD, I would wire the money home every month if I were you. That’s what I do to pay on my loans and as long as you can get the information from your bank about international wire transfers, you should be set.
      Be warned that most banks charge an incoming international wire transfer fee, which is about $10 – $20 on top of any other fees they may have. Plus your bank in Taiwan will probably charge some fee for the wire transfer…finally the exchange rate is what’s going to make or break you.

      While locals might be fine with the equivalent of, say, $1300USD a month, if your US bill is $500 a month, that’s a lot of money (and stress) to be dealing with. If the amount is low enough for you to just pay off, just do it. I’ve come across too many people who have a lot of savings and could pay off their credit card bills in one shot, but for some reason prefer to pay the minimum per month…

      1. katamia*

        I do pay my credit card bill in full every month. I’ve never paid a cent in interest and never plan to. (Also, I’m very lucky to have no debt, so my bills should be pretty low once the US stuff has been paid.) But it’s an American credit card, so everything’s going to be converted back to USD and that’s what I’ll have to pay it in. Which is annoying but understandable. I think I might have to do up a chart or something to find the least horrible fees, though.

  40. OriginalEmma*

    I’ve recently become interested in Asian skincare. I’ve never taken care of my skin except to punish it with Noxema, Stridex and astringents in my teens and then ignore it for most of my twenties. I am lucky to have resilient skin that doesn’t break out, is neither oily nor very dry and at least to me, didn’t look very sun damaged.

    My friend turned me on to this concept of nurturing skincare the other week, sent me a bunch of samples and I’m hooked. I’ve been reading r/AsianBeauty like a fiend. I look forward to washing my face now. I like the multi-step process and can’t wait to purchase some items of my own. And yes, now I wear sunscreen! Over this past week I’ve noticed that my skin is a bit less dehydrated and feels more bouncy, which tells me it is working.

    1. Noah*

      Japanese sunscreen is awesome. It dries matte unlike the shiny mess most American products leave on my face.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        Right?! The one sample I used (Tonymoly My Sunny 50spf) did not leave the white cast you get from typical sunscreens, either.

      1. OriginalEmma*

        They are so soothing and luxurious. Good thing I live alone because they do make you look like a serial killer. Do you have any sheet mask recommendations for a newbie?

        1. Jader*

          I’m super new as well. My favorite so far aren’t actually Asian, they are from boscia. They aren’t actually a sheet, they’re like…. thick gel? I can’t describe it but I love them. Unfortunately they are 10 dollars a mask.

    2. matcha123*

      It wasn’t until recently that I found out that multi-step face stuffs were a Japanese/Korean thing. I always just washed my face with soap in the shower when I lived in the US.

      But, the face care items are nice. Many of the big brands have creams that they only sell in Japan or Korea. That plus sunblock are my big go-tos.
      Etude House has some nice stuff and it smells good, too.

  41. M.*

    So this past week has sucked. So much. Last Friday at some point I started having a tachycardia episode, later that night I have a brief stressful text with the boy where I’m pretty sure he thinks I did something but won’t tell me what it is then is pissed because I’m digging since I have no idea what I did, he pretty much ends with that he may talk to me later, I end up apologizing for digging at him Saturday morning but he’s not talking to me. The whole exchange obviously raised by blood pressure. I’m out on my back until Monday when I get to work at new job. Work one day, early Tuesday morning my heart most likely stopped for a few seconds (ER doc agrees with assessment) and reset its rhythm but it sends me to ER where I’m later released, told to see a PCP for follow up. Lose new job because wow PCP is hard to get a hold of and temp agency won’t let me work without a note. Went to PCP’s office yesterday, they never got my messages, but get me right in. I wait 2 hrs in the exam room, see not MY doctor but another, who treats me like I don’t know anything about my own medical needs, brushes off my concerns, refuses to discuss heart meds because I’m transferring to a new office (reasonable, i get this), and then refuses to give me a note because “she doesn’t know me.” I lost it. I yelled. And cried. And yelled. A nurse had to check in on the doctor to make sure she was safe with me. She wanted me to come back for a follow ups even though I told her I couldn’t afford to keep driving to the office. I left and told the poor receptionist I wasn’t coming back and could she please just mail the note if the doctor left one (As I was leaving the doctor said she could write me a note first thing Monday but NOT that day).

    I’m so frustrated. I have rent due this coming up week. Things got shut off last week so any rent money I had went to that because of roommates that don’t pay. I wish “boyfriend” would talk to me. (He probably won’t, I was thinking of waiting a few months, if no word may just say “hi” and then let it go — honestly he’s paranoid among other things and he probably set himself up to think I was out to get him). I really don’t know what to do at this point. In a month the new doctors should be able to see me. So I should be able to get the consult on heart meds then, as well as get someone to finally take a look at whats going on in my stomach (bloated, back pain, digestive issues, sore breasts — all urine preg tests come back neg hospital says its good enough to rule out — wonder if tumors or something). I just don’t know how to get through the next few weeks. Or how to come up with rent. OMG. That’s enough to keep me up at night.

    1. M.*

      On the plus side, this stress did wonders for me when it came to the story I’m writing. I think I wrote at least 1,000 words… normally I just write like… 5 and call it a day.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Ha, I had that same thing happen. Something really sucked and I ended up writing a whole chapter!

        *HUG* I hope you feel better soon and everything gets better.

    2. NDQ*

      Wow. This is too much for anyone to deal with all at once. I’m sorry. Do what you can. Eat, sleep and drink water. Call your landlord early to make a plan. Go for walks. And give yourself a break.


    3. misspiggy*

      So sorry you’re having a rough time. Erm, I know Internet diagnosis is Very Bad, but you do sound quite like me health wise. Have you ruled out Ehlers Danlos Syndrome or other connective tissue disorders? If not, it might be worth looking into. Not that there’s an awful lot of fabulous treatment available, other than plenty of rest, electrolytes, and regular life patterns…. but I was delighted to know what was going on, even in the years before I got an official diagnosis. Hope life picks up soon!

    4. Not So NewReader*

      This really sucks. I hate saying this but if your BF forgot to come back, that might not be all bad. I hope you get the heart help you need very soon. And I hope other things start looking a bit better soon, also.

  42. Anon Right Now*

    So, I’ve been seeing a therapist for the past almost year. She’s an intern finishing up her doctorate, but she’s done an amazing job and led me to a really good place. We have three sessions left. One of the things we’re working on right now is having a Good Goodbye. I’m at the point where I feel like I could have left 4 or more weeks ago, and I almost feel like I’m staying more to help give her closure, not me–and she keeps trying to talk about how sad I am about leaving her…but I’m not.

    I mean, I really appreciate what she’s done for me. I’ve gained a hell of a lot of confidence and better ways of dealing with things. But I’ve made a lot of progress, too, and if I didn’t know that a natural end to the sessions were coming (her graduation), I would have ended them myself already. But she keeps designating a substantial portion of the sessions to how much I must be feeling bad about the end of our relationship, and putting more meaning on to other things because of it…and I’m honestly not feeling it. There will be sometimes that I would like to share something with her, sure, but I know and have always known that this is a professional relationship. But it’s so awkward because I don’t know how to tell her that I’m not going to miss her (or giving up my Friday lunches or my money, etc) all that much.

    The other thing is, as callous as all of that just sounded, I’d love to give her a gift–for a thank you and a graduation present. She really brought me a long way this year, and just because I’m ready to leave and end it, doesn’t mean that I’m insensible to what she’s given me/helped me with. Is it ever appropriate to give someone like that a gift? She literally knows everything about me and has guided me through a lot of dark places. I know that it’s her job, but it’s also very personal. Any therapists out there to weigh in on what they’d want to see from their patients, if anything? I’m big about keeping the professional boundary, so it’s cool if the answer is nothing.

    1. CoffeeLover*

      I am not a therapist nor have I ever visited one, but I feel like you’d be ok to giver her something small. I have friends who are nurses and ex-patients always bring them small gifts (mostly chocolate). You could give her something else, but I feel like a nice box of chocolate is a good sample gift.

      As for telling you how sad you must feel, well maybe you should be candid with her. Especially if she is an intern and is learning. Being candid about your feelings with this separation could help her set boundaries in the future and better understand her role in a patient’s life. When she mentions it again, maybe you could say something like, “To be completely honest I’m not feeling sad about it. You have helped me a lot in these last few months, to the point where I don’t feel I need professional help anymore. I think our sessions are coming to a natural end, which is a testament to how much you have helped me.” I say a natural end is one where you feel you should go your separate ways (you used it to mean her graduation above, but if you weren’t ready to end your session this would be a forced end in my view of things). Of course, you don’t have to say anything at all if you don’t want to.

    2. Anon Right Now*

      (For the record, I’ve already told her all of this–including “thank you” and that I’ve been ready to end for a while. But it’s still super-awkward and I don’t want to hurt her feelings.)

      1. CoffeeLover*

        Fair enough. I just thought I’d throw it out in case you hadn’t. I agree with you it’s a weird situation to be put in. Like dating a guy an extra month because you don’t want to break up with him on his birthday (really bad analogy, sorry). Anyway, the relationship has gone on for too long. Unless there’s some agreed upon reason, why not end the sessions early? If you don’t do it in a rude way, there’s no reason she should get her feels hurt. Building a rapport with patients and then ending those sessions comes with the job. She should learn to deal with this part of it, if she hasn’t already.

      2. MLT*

        Perhaps letting her practice her good goodbye is a gracious way to repay her. I once gave a therapist a blank journal I had made.

      3. Mephyle*

        You’ve told her and she still goes on about ‘your’ sadness! I think we don’t have to be therapists to recognize some projection on her part. For all that she has helped you, this is something she might need to have a teacher or mentor draw her attention to – it isn’t harming you but it it could be worse for a future client. Is there someone supervising her that you can mention this to?

    3. NicoleK*

      As someone who use to practice in the social service sector; most social workers, therapists, and etc. would probably prefer their clients didn’t give them a gift. While thoughtful, it’s not necessary nor expected.

      1. Alma*

        Perhaps a donation in her name to the local mental health association or family crisis clinic? I usually send a card saying “I’ve given a gift in your honor to XYZ agency” just in case there is a delay in the agency sending a note to her about the gift in her name, or if they don’t include your name on the notification.

    4. Goodbye gift*

      Maybe just a card with your genuine expression of appreciation written in. Sometimes it’s awkward getting a gift for just doing your job. I’m not a therapist, but have run into this a few times. The true gift, if you want to look at it that way, is in seeing your growth. Anything that reinforces that will create a warm fuzzy in the way that a gift-gift couldn’t.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      To me this is what healing looks like. You are in a balanced place where you deeply appreciate her help but you are willing to continue on under your own steam.

      Instead of spending money, why not spend some time? Maybe find an article or two that would be of interest to her about therapy success stories. If you can find something that describes where you are at that would be even better.

      I have done this before with people in different types of situations where I found an article relevant to their field/interest that was a great read. I gave them the article as a thank you or just a show of appreciation and it was well received.

  43. MsChanandlerBong*

    I’m feeling a little down about the perception that weight loss is absolutely a matter of eating less and getting more exercise. I have a whole host of chronic medical problems, almost all of which have obesity/overweight as a potential complication. I actually used to be quite thin (around 100 lb.), but I took two years of HGH injections due to a pituitary hormone deficiency (the shots were supposed to make me taller). I grew a few inches in height, but a LOT of inches in width. My pituitary gland is flattened, and the endocrinologist said that can be linked to trouble losing weight.

    I also have heart disease and kidney disease, but what’s good for one isn’t necessarily good for the other. Fruits and vegetables are great for the heart, but I’m on a potassium-restricted diet due to my kidney disease. I’m also limited to 1,500 mg of sodium per day, so even low-fat snacks are generally outside my sodium limit (can you believe gelatin has 300+ mg of sodium per serving?!). My primary care doctor was after me to try a low-carb diet for a while (even though I hate pasta and eat bread maybe once per month), so I finally relented. My six-week experiment was a failure. I lost no weight, and my total cholesterol and triglycerides were higher than ever. I was eating lots of healthy stuff at the time, and in calorie-controlled portions (baby spinach, broiled chicken, roasted carrots, garlic-roasted broccoli, apples, almonds, etc.), and I had no potatoes, pasta, bread, cereal, pretzels, etc.

    1. nep*

      Sorry you’re so down and frustrated.
      Nice, sound advice from Aknownymous. I second trying to go off animal proteins for a while — give it a good six to eight weeks as you did with the last experiment.
      (Were you eating cheese or other dairy during that period? Just curious.)
      Wishing you all the best. Keep us posted.

    2. Today's anon*

      Have you considered working with a nutritionist if it’s possible? A friend of mine was having similar issues, she has a lot of different health issues and is not very mobile (she needs a walker) and the nutritionist had some good suggestions in terms of what to eat and how much but also in terms of suggesting alternatives to things that she used to eat. Good luck, it is really hard.

      1. fposte*

        Note, if it matters to you, that dietician is the official registered have-to-meet-standards term and nutritionist isn’t.

        Weight loss is basically anti-evolutionary. Whether you’ve got health problems or not, your body isn’t interested in letting go of what it was an atavistic triumph to get. It is a tough nut to crack, so it’s not you.

    3. Student*

      Do you want to be pretty, or do you want to be healthy?

      Sounds like your body isn’t going to let you pick both. So, which one’s more important to you?

      1. fposte*

        This doesn’t seem to be what Miss Chnandler was worrying about, though (and I think she’s likely to be pretty now anyway–she looks great from here!).

  44. Aknownymous*

    Sorry to hear you’re feeling down. There is definitely a lot of focus on diet and exercise as means of weight control, and medical causes of obesity are often overlooked. I’m sure it can be frustrating to struggle with weight loss while trying to keep your health in check, but I don’t think you should look at dietary experiments as failures, because they teach you valuable lessons about how your body functions. I understand that your lack of progress when you’re doing everything “right” bothers you, but I think if you reframe it as “I’m actively doing everything I can, with what I have, to improve my health”, that may help you feel better about your situation. Or at least accepting. I don’t have any weight issues, but I struggle with other things, and reminding myself that I’m doing my best with the cards I’ve been dealt has been incredibly helpful.

    As a sidenote, a friend of mine is in a very similar situation to yours. It has been really beneficial to her to cut out all animal proteins (and thus also most saturated fats) so I will pass on that on as a potential experiment, though you should of course clear that with your doctor first.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Valuable lessons…. oh my, how true.
      In high school I was overweight, this was when everyone was skinny as a rail. I decided senior year to lose the weight. It took me twenty years. I would lose a size and then nothing for years. It did not matter what I did, the weight was locked on. I learned a lot.
      Fragrances/medications/chemicals were all helping to block my weight loss. When I got the fragrances and the synthetic cleaners out of my house I was able to lose the remaining weight I had. Who’d thunk.
      But like you are saying here it was a journey and it took way longer than I ever dreamed. And I could not agree more, food and exercise is only a part of losing weight. There is sooo much more that goes into it that has nothing to do with food or exercise. You’re entirely correct, some people have no idea what all is involved until they see it in their own lives or the life of someone close to them.

  45. FD*

    So, I have always had a thing where one side of my jaw catches. Mostly it’s just vaguely annoying. But since Friday, it’s been causing me real pain, and I can’t open as much as I normally would.

    Dr. Google suggests that this is known as TMJ Syndrome/TMD, and that it’s not uncommon, but it’s really, really painful.

    Specifically it hurts enough that it keeps waking me up, despite a mouth guard. I suspect part of it is aggravated by the fact I clench my jaw in my sleep.

    Anyone else have any experience with this?

    1. The Other Dawn*

      Yes, I was diagnosed when I was a teenager and had to wear the mouth guard at night. It improved over time, but has made a reappearance now that I’m 40. It doesn’t cause pain, never really did, but I have the clicking in my jaw when I open wide or eat something really chewy.

    2. Not helpful*

      Yes, this is what happened to me, though I had no pain. My jaw was essentially dislocated. You need to see an oral surgeon. You need to get the jaw back into place. Although your pain may be coming from muscle issues. I did develop pain from clenching and grinding a couple of years after my jaw was treated. If your night guard wasn’t made by a dentist it may not be doing enough for you. My night guard is hard smooth material that allows my teeth to slide and is meant to keep me from clenching my jaw.

    3. MLT*

      I had this following my last dental visit. It was dreadful. Could hardly open my mouth in the mornings following sleep. It cleared up after about a month, and it has recurred once for a few days. Didn’t find much to help the pain…Alleve would dull it slightly, as would heat.

    4. fposte*

      Seconding the notion that your mouth guard may not be doing its job and that this is something your dentist should know. Massage therapy may also be helpful–I have two colleagues with TMJ who’ve used it.

      One friend also eventually had surgery, which pretty much cleared it up forever. So if you hit a wall, there’s that option.

    5. Rose of Cimarron*

      See if you can find a copy of The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook at your library and learn to massage your masseter muscles. Do it a few times a day. There are also YouTube videos if you search for “trigger point therapy for TMJ.” Look at how you’re using your neck and your posture. It’s not a quick fix (though the masseter massage will help pretty quickly — it hurts at first but within a few days feels great) but for a lot of people it has remarkable results. Yes, physical therapy helps too, mostly because of the massage and neck elements. I wear a night guard, but I would swear it’s done more harm than good, though my dentist insists that’s not the case.

      1. FD*

        Yeah, I have totally crappy posture, and then on top of it, I have a lot of stress. So not entiely a surprise.

    6. Lady Bug*

      My husband had tmj about 10 years ago, which caused severe pain. He tried a few sessions of electronic therapy which did nothing. Then he did a few acupuncture sessions, which cleared up the pain and its never come back. He still gets a clicking jaw occasionally, but no pain.

    7. Cath in Canada*

      yep, on both sides. My dentist hates me, lol!

      It rarely causes any real pain or problems, but sometimes gets kinda “stuck” mid-click, which is really uncomfortable. It definitely goes through good and bad phases. I’ve heard that massage therapy / physio can help.

    8. Persehone Mulberry*

      I have the same issue – one side of my jaw doesn’t seat quite right and every once in a while (usually on a really good yawn) it will unseat completely. It’s happened frequently enough that I’ve learned how to pop it back into place myself.)

      Seconding all the above suggestions – I had a consultation with an orthodontist for some cosmetic straightening, and they said that they might also be able to help the jaw alignment in the process, so definitely look into the custom night guard idea.

    9. catsAreCool*

      I have a bit of catching with my jaw. When I was in college, it was pretty bad for a while. I ended up massaging my jaw, which helped. I think I was under a lot of stress when this happened. I don’t know if that’s the case for you.

    10. Sunday*

      Find a physical* or massage therapist who uses one of the soft tissue manipulation modalities, eg cranio-sacral, myofascial release. Generally, things that are out of alignment are part of a system of misalignment. What looks minor in the larger picture can be problematic in the narrower view. Tweaking the system gently can put things back in place. You should know pretty quickly if the person is the right fit/if your body is responding positively. As with many things, you want to find the right practitioner. Yoga can help, too.

      Mouth guards are to protect your teeth, as I understand it, rather than to address the alignment and tension issues.

      PT is much more likely to accept insurance, and in some States you need a prescription to see one.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yes, definitely, cranio-sacral therapy and myofascial release. This sounds huge, but it is a therapy that can be done on a 6 month old baby. I took little cat naps while I had my work done. You will also learn how to help yourself with little massages that you can do on your own.

    11. HR Generalist*

      I have TMJ too but not the catching. What helped me was cosmetic straightening (I got Invisalign for 50 weeks), a custom mouthguard at night, and occasional muscle relaxer overnights to give my jaw a rest. I still have pretty regular overnight grinding but it only flares up/causes discomfort during particularly stressful times.

  46. Brazil*

    Has anyone been to Sao Paulo and has fun ideas to recommend? I might be going in October for work but should have some time to explore.

  47. Elkay*

    Media which has disappointed me this week:

    Wayward Pines
    The Affair

    The Girl on the Train (radio adaptation)

    Every single one started really strong, made me want to keep watching/listening then at the end I was left thinking “What the hell happened there?”, I just want a tv show or book that finishes with an actual conclusion and doesn’t feel like the creator didn’t know how to tie up all the threads and/or fill in the plot holes.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      I haven’t watched the Wayward Pines conclusion yet, but I read all the books and nothing can really compare to that. The last book left an opening for a fourth book, but I know from reading the Facebook comments that it ends much differently on TV. I kind of wish I had seen the series first and then read the books afterwards.

      1. Elkay*

        Are the books better than the TV show? I can read the books for free via Amazon Prime so I might give them a go if they are.

        1. The Other Dawn*

          This is incredibly – sorry – but yes, the books were much better. Mainly because it’s drawn out over three books so there’s a lot more story going on.

        1. The IT Manager*

          I hate that – not that I watched Wayward Pines. Apparently “Under the Dome” is still on the air; I stopped watching after their lame cop out non-ending in Season 1. I was under the impression it was a mini-series or single season TV series so I thought they’d wrap it up nicely, but they went for the money grab and didn’t conclude the story.

          As frustrating as it is waiting for the next 8 episode season of a British TV series, when I think about American TV failures such as this I appreciate their willingness to tell a story and finish on a high note.

          That said, British tv is not immune to the problem. I’m looking at “Last Tango in Hallifax” (<– family has had to start acting like ridiculous soap opera characters) and "Broadchurch" (<– well done but unnecessary second season).

          1. Elkay*

            Apparently they’re making a third series of Broadchurch. Another un-necessary third series I think is The Fall.

    2. jhhj*

      The Affair was so promising at first but it just fizzled. I’ll still watch for Ruth Wilson and Maura McTierney, though.

      I am really into Unreal, the antiheroine drama set in the world of dating reality shows (on . . . Lifetime). I’ve gotten a bunch of other people hooked. But it hasn’t ended yet so it might also disappoint.

  48. Today's anon*

    I have started using our bike-sharing bikes to commute partially to work, but I don’t have a good bag to transport clothes for work. My backpack a bit unwieldy on a bike. I can be fairly light-traveling but need a change of clothes. I think most of the time I can get away with biking with my regular shoes (they’re Keens). Does anyone have any good biking bags they would recommend?

    1. Blue_eyes*

      I really like my Timbuk2 messenger bag. I have their classic messenger in custom colors in the small size. Although it’s a messenger bag, it comes with a bike strap which is basically an extra strap that keeps it from sliding around to the front while you’re riding. I’ve had my bag for 8 years now and it’s still in great shape. It’s also water proof so I don’t have to worry about my things getting wet.

      1. Treena*

        That’s so funny because I HATE my Timbuk2 messenger bag. I ordered it online without realizing it has velcro in addition to the buckle straps and it has ruined two items of clothing already by getting caught in the velcro. Also I wore it once biking and I got indigo dye all over it (from a pair of jeans that has been washed 50+ times!). I bought it because the material is waterproof, but I guess it sucks up any color as well?

        1. Blue_eyes*

          I have occasionally pulled my clothing on the velcro, although apparently the newer ones have the the velcro positioned differently to minimize that problem. My bag is a little dingy looking after so many years of wear, but it’s not too bad. What color is your bag? Mine is navy, medium blue, and light-ish green and you can definitely see the dirt and grime more on the lighter colors. If I eventually replace my bag I’ll probably go for darker colors.

    2. Phlox*

      Pocampo has Bikeshare specific bags!(should work for your city, different cities have different bikes so check fit before you buy)

    3. NoPantsFridays*

      Do you commute by car any days of the week? If so, perhaps bring a change of clothes/shoes to work and leave them there on your drive-day. Then on your bike-day, you don’t have to bring a change with you. Once I move, my commute will be about 10 miles one way which is totally doable for me (at least until November-ish) but I don’t want to carry backpack or attach racks to my bike (which you cannot do with a share, anyway) – so this is my solution. Good luck.

  49. Anon for this*

    Student loan drama:
    I recently found out that during some of his college years, my husband’s parents didn’t qualify for his student loans. So he could graduate, his Mom asked one of her clients (she is a cleaning lady) if she would co-sign, and she did. So for the past 5-12 years, this woman has apparently been co-signed on these loans. At some point, his Mom could no longer afford the payments and has them permanently in forbearance (or whatever the proper term is).

    My husband thinks that when his Mom dies, he’ll have to start paying them. Am I right in assuming that there is no legal requirement for him to pay? (Otherwise, they’d have been knocking down his door to pay if he was a true co-signer on the loan). And also that somehow this lady is no longer a co-signer because otherwise they’d be knocking down her door for payments and she presumably would have contacted his Mom? The client is no longer in touch with his Mom, but she has an easy-to-find website for her cleaning business, so I really doubt that the loan company said you need to start paying and she just did without trying to contact his Mom. It’s also possible that this woman is very wealthy (many of her clients are) and just paid it to be nice without saying anything. (No idea how much the loan was for)

    Either way, if there is any chance that this client is paying off his loans, I think we’d want to know because we can definitely afford to pay it ourselves. But I’m not sure how to go about finding her, and she very well may be dead for all I know. Advice?

    1. fposte*

      Wow, that’s quite a mess. I would certainly not assume that your husband won’t be on the hook for these until you find out more. Can you get the paperwork–or any relevant paperwork–from his mom and check things out further?

      1. Anon for this*

        I will definitely ask, but I doubt there’s any paperwork. His family is a complete mess and lost pretty much everything when their house was foreclosed on and his Dad refused to pack up and leave, so he left behind anything of importance. (Mom had already left Dad/the house at that point, but Dad was “in charge” of all the money stuff even if it had her name on it.

        1. fposte*

          I thought that might be the case, from the way you put it. BRR has some good thoughts on hunting the client down. You could also try to contact whoever is running the PLUS program these days to see if they have anything on record.

        2. Honeybee*

          The lender always has a copy of the paperwork, so Mom could request a copy of the promissory note from the lender.

    2. matcha123*

      I hope this doesn’t sound too harsh, but his mom is paying his student loans? Rather than lament that he’ll have to pay when she dies (!!!), is there something that’s preventing him from taking over the loan himself?
      Can you call up the loan company? Usually they send some kind of mail to the loan holder…stuff with tax information, etc. Does him mom have that? Could you contact the cleaning woman and ask her for information…explaining that you just found out she was a co-signer and you’d like to take over the payments?

      1. Anon for this*

        I see how you could interpret it that way, but it’s not the situation at all! He pays off all the loans in his name, but for a long time, the better interest rates were for parent-only loans, not the student + parent co-signed loans. So those loans exist to pay for his education but he did not take out those loans. So he can’t “take over” the loan because they’re not his. He’d have to start making payments on someone else’s loan. The loans his Mom (and her client) took out are not being paid by his Mom. She lives “officially” makes no money so has the payments indefinitely halted.

        We have no idea what the company is (and even if we find out the original company, I doubt the loan hasn’t been sold several times over). His Mom is the cleaning woman, and I’m not sure if she knows anything beyond the woman’s name.

        P.S. He’s also not lamenting having to pay, he just mentioned it in an offhand way when we were discussing out plan to get out of debt (we only have student so that’s what we’re focusing on).

        1. BRR*

          To find the company could you run his mom’s credit report? Use the website annual credit report, it’s the legit free credit report company.

          Also if his private loans have variable interest rates, I’d consider consolidating them while interest rates are historically low. I just did this with mine through citizens bank (SoFi is another option to refinance). I would not consolidate any federal loans with his private loans because they have some benefits you lose if you consolidate through a private company.

      2. BRR*

        I don’t think it’s like “Oh I hope I don’t have to pay” but more trying to figure out the ins and outs of student loans. It also sounds like they didn’t know about this loan, hence not paying it for his mom.

    3. Anon for this*

      More context: He is currently paying off several student loans and has been ever since he graduated, with Sallie Mae and Great Lakes. He has never heard one peep about this loan and nothing appears on his credit report, which leads me to believe it was a Parent PLUS loan, or the equivalent for the early 2000’s.

    4. BRR*

      I find sometimes companies don’t pursue missed payments right away for one reason or another. Also they might just be letting the interest accrue. Did his mom actually call to ask for a forbearance or did she just stop paying?

      I think you should first look at the student loan servicer’s website to see the status of the loans. Then check the payment history to see if somebody has been paying on them. I think the most important thing is to relieve the client of any involvement.

      If the client has been paying on them you should ask for her to be removed as a cosigner and start paying on them yourself, even if that means you need to sign on and are then legally responsible.

      If nobody has been paying on them you will need to see in the agreement if your husband is responsible for repayment. If it’s a federal parent plus loan he’s not. If it’s a private loan, you’ll need to read through the agreement. I would try and find the actual agreement, not call and ask. Just so you can be 100% sure. If he’s responsible for repayment you need to call ASAP to sort it out and have somebody paying on them.

      If his mom stopped paying and didn’t ask for a forbearance they might be in collections and the company could be going after the client. If they’re in collections it will negatively affect both his mom’s and the client’s credit.

      If they’re in collections I would call, offer to start paying, and ask to remove the client as the cosigner. If the client is paying I would contact her and say that you will take over and send her confirmation that she’s been removed as a cosigner. I don’t think it’s good enough to pay and leave on her the loan because then she could still be on the hook and she shouldn’t be involved.

      To contact the client try if you need to:
      -See if his mom still has her info, people’s numbers don’t change that often.
      -Search facebook
      -Search LinkedIn
      -If you know what county she lived in google “X county assessor” You can then see if she still is the owner of the house which means she likely lives there and you can send her a letter.

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I may be mistaken about this, but it’s something to look in to. I believe that for federal student loans, the balance is forgiven if the primary loan holder dies before the term of the loan is up. My dad learned this years ago at a financial aid seminar and told us all about it because one of my aunts will be over 70 when her son graduates from college. If they take out loans in her name with a 15-20 year repayment period there’s a significant chance that she will die before they are repaid.

      1. Artemesia*

        I bet her estate is liable; it would be for any other loan so would assume it is for these loans too. You can’t even discharge a student loan in bankruptcy so the odds that they just forgive it with death without taking it from the estate seems unlikely.

        1. Artemesia*

          I obviously misread this. the MOM is the cleaning lady. I would still think your husband is responsible for the loans morally as he is the beneficiary of the education. It is a bit much to expect your mother who doesn’t have the financial capability to pay off your student loans even if she is legally obligated. And outrageous to expect a third party to do so.

        2. Honeybee*

          No, for federal student loans the loan is discharged when the borrower dies or, in the case of Parent PLUS loans, if the student beneficiary dies. Studentaid.ed.gov has the specifics on this, but that’s the way it works federally. (It’s different if it’s a private loan, and many private loans are NOT discharged when the student or borrower dies. There have been a couple news stories about this.)

        3. Not So NewReader*

          Yeah, this is something to watch out for. I believe in some states children are on the hook for their parents debts, if the parents pass. Not so in NY. Now this could be just medical debt, I am not clear on what happens in other states.

    6. Dan*


      A few things that aren’t making sense to me… a guy with $82k in a variety of federal and private student loans.

      You start with this: “At some point, his Mom could no longer afford the payments and has them permanently in forbearance (or whatever the proper term is).”

      There is no such thing as permanent forbearance or deferrals. Federal loans can have some generous policies on avoiding making payments for several years, you can get a 5-year waiver (in six month increments) “just because” and if you don’t have a job, you can get up to 3 years of deferments. But at some point, you’re going to have to pay.

      Then you say this: “(Otherwise, they’d have been knocking down his door to pay if he was a true co-signer on the loan)”

      Well, you can’t have it both ways. Either the loans are in forbearance/deferral, which means the bank is not coming after anybody for delinquent payments; they’re caught up, in which case the bank is still happy; or they’re delinquent, in which case the bank is really coming after you.

      A couple of things:

      1) The best way to find out about any loan attached to your husband is through the National Student Loan Clearinghouse. Google it, you’ll easily find a link.

      2) One thing you haven’t talked about is a conversation with mom herself. Why not? That seems to be the easiest place to start. If mom can’t remember anything, then I would be looking at her credit report.

      1. Honeybee*

        Yeah, that seemed off to me, too. With federal loans you can’t get a permanent forbearance. The only way I know of that you can legally get federal loans discharged while still being alive is the total and permanent disability discharge. But it’s exactly what it sounds like – you have to provide evidence that you are totally disabled to the point that you can’t get any gainful employment, and there’s an application process.

      2. Anon for this*

        Well, I don’t really know what the full story is, as I’m hearing everything second-hand. I just re-asked my husband for any info he has, and he says that she either arranged to not have to pay or is paying them. But other than that, she’s like so many other parents who don’t want to worry their kids and wouldn’t just give info without having to be practically interrogated (mine are the same way).

        And we’re definitely planning a conversation with Mom this week, I just want to be super prepared with all the info/resources to figure it out because we live in different countries right now and it’s difficult to find a single good time to talk, let alone several different conversations as info dribbles into the picture.

        I honestly think she was in forbearance for the max and is now paying back the most smallest amount possible to keep the loan afloat. If the loan is just in her name, that’s fine with us, and we’ll just give her the money from now on. (It would really bother us both if she were paying for this because we pay some of her bills to help her out!)

        So here’s the weird thing about the National Student Loan Clearinghouse. That’s the first thing I did because I was sure it would pop up on there if his name was attached to anything. But not even all of the loans he’s currently paying on are on there. I thought it was a full list but apparently not?

    7. Artemesia*

      She got a cleaning lady to co-sign on loans for your husband’s education? Wow is that every messed up in the direction of evil. It is quite possible your husband is not legally responsible if his name is not on the loans. If he is not one of the signees. But he is obviously morally responsible for these loans if some third party bystander is stuck with them.

      1. Artemesia*

        I obviously read this wrong. His MOM is the cleaning lady. So she can’t afford the payoff then your husband is certainly morally responsible for it whether legally or not. It is a bit much to expect his mother who can’t afford it to pay this and beyond outrageous to expect a third party to do so which is what happens if she can’t pay.

  50. schnapps*

    Let’s play a fill in the blanks game: Instead of ___________, I am ___________

    Like this:
    Instead of preparing for my job interview tomorrow, doing meal planning for the week and wrapping my BFF’s baby shower present, I am on the couch reading and stuffing my face with leftover bacon cheeseburger pie for breakfast (so good).

    1. nep*

      Instead of drinking water (the more the better), I’m still drinking coffee, well into late morning.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Instead of cleaning the house, I am sitting on the sofa playing on the Internet.

      This happens every Sunday! :D But I’m hungry, so I guess I’ll eat something and see if I can put more stuff out into the garage today. It’s sooooooo hot and I need to have someone pick up the giant donate pile before I can really reorganize out there and start another pile.

      Also, bacon cheeseburger pie sounds AMAZEBALLS.

      1. Honeybee*

        This is pretty much what I was going to write too, and is also the story of my Sundays.

    3. Persehone Mulberry*

      Instead of working on my current craft project which I had hoped to have done by the end of the month, I’m catching up on AAM (obvs). Mostly I’m just giving my fingers a break.

      Please share cheeseburger pie recipe!!

      1. schnapps*

        Cheeseburger pie recipe:

        1. Get in car
        2. Drive to my butcher
        3. Buy frozen handmade pies (they have multiple flavours)
        4. Drive home
        5. Heat oven to 375 F
        6. Cook pies from frozen for 45-60 minutes
        7. Let cool a bit and enjoy


        So that’s my recipe. My butcher charges about $7 for each of them and they are HUGE. They have 9 different flavours: Tex Mex * BBQ Cheeseburger * Steak & Veggie
        Steak & Mushroom * Steak & Kidney * Steak & Ale
        Coconut Curry Chicken * Chicken & Veggies * Turkey & Veggie

        Unfortunately they don’t post their recipes. But you could just make a chicken pot pie crust and do a bbq cheeseburger fill (with bacon FTW) and bake. Although the crust they use on the beef pies seems to be a bit heavier than the chicken pies. If you google “cheeseburger pot pie” there are lots of recipes.

    4. Cruciatus*

      Instead of cleaning up my desk that is piled with papers that have no home or getting through the last few Sunday papers I haven’t read, I am watching Roseanne on WE and reading this and other websites. (I did at least get a load of wash in the laundry since the machine will do most of the work).

    5. Trixie*

      Instead sticking with salmon, greens and green tea for lunch, I went with salmon, diet soda, and a Little Debbie peanut butter bar. And this was after a healthy share of popcorn at last night’s movie, I’ll See You in My Dreams.

    6. Nashira*

      Instead of working on a new resume so I can find a better job, I’m watching my husband play Dragon Age: Inquisition and reading Vice articles.

      I also am wishing I had your butcher! Mmm meat pies…

    7. saro*

      Instead of finishing my 2014 taxes (eek), I am obsessing over jogging strollers and surfing the web.

      1. danr*

        You have until August 15… as long as you filed for an extension and either don’t owe anything or paid what you think you owed. Have a glass of wine now and get busy tomorrow.

    8. QualityControlFreak*

      Instead of picking veggies I am sitting in bed feeling sorry for myself. I really need to go pick veggies.

    9. Carmen Sandiego JD*

      Instead of reviewing* for the bar (in 48 hrs), I am reading a guidebook about Italy (going there in a few weeks!), reading AAM, reading buzzfeed, contemplating tv shows online to get my mind off the bar, and just finished baking strawberry raising nutty granola from scratch.

      *(Although I did devote 4-ish hrs to review earlier this am)

    10. schnapps*

      So I’m back from the baby shower. My BFF (a very strong believer in reduce, reuse, recycle) was tickled that I gave her my daughter’s old mobile for her new baby’s crib.

      I also managed to get to the walk in clinic earlier and beg a happy pill refill because I haven’t been able to get to my family doctor, and picked that up on the way home.

      Now following Alison’s advice and going through the job description for the job I’m interviewing for tomorrow and figuring out which parts I have actually done and which parts I can transfer skills over from my fun job. Also, a glass of wine because I am an introvert and being surrounded in a small space a dozen and a half people is draining.

    11. Today's Satan*

      Instead of studying for a mid-term that I need to take on Tuesday, I went to my favorite pub and gorged on a magnificent brunch and mimosas. Then came home and napped. And now I’m on the internet instead of studying. :-)

    12. Ruffingit*

      Instead of doing the paperwork I need to do, I am watching the Secret Classic (gymnastics) online.

    13. Nina*

      Instead of studying for my final exam, I am watching youtube videos and wasting time on Pinterest. I’ve tried studying this stuff but it’s so boring; I can read a whole page and none of it actually sticks. I’ll spend the next two days camped out in the library.

    14. StillHealing*

      Instead of cleaning old leftovers out of the frig and putting them into the Food/Yard Waste bin, (garbage/waste collection is tomorrow morning) I’m catching up on reading the AAM weekend thread. :o)

  51. NDQ*

    I’m not sure if you want assurance your husband will never have to pay back this loan or if you’re asking what is the right/moral/ethical thing to do.

    Legal issues aside, he needs to pay off the loan and repay any amounts his mother and/or the wealthy client paid. But if he just wants a legal responsibility answer, visit with an attorney.


      1. TL -*

        Agree. If his mom agreed to pay for the loan, no need to pay back any amount she’s paid.

        Regardless of who’s on the loan, if it’s not paid off, your husband should start paying, if at all possible.

      2. Anon for this*

        Exactly. I’m not going to pay back money his Mom paid out already, but if she is currently making payments I would want to be giving her the money for them. But if it’s just her and no one else, I don’t want to aggressively pay it down because she has absolutely no estate and they will go when she does. I’d rather aggressively pay down the ones that are guaranteed to never disappear.

        1. TL -*

          …I would feel morally obligated to move the loan to my name (if at all possible) and pay it back, regardless of whose name it was in. The money was for his education; his mom may have gifted him the loans at the time but now that they can’t I would argue that it’s his responsibility.

    1. Honeybee*

      Why? Parents borrowing money to help pay for their children’s education is a pretty common thing. Most of the time they do it because they want to and they can afford it. I’m not seeing why anyone should need to repay the money to their mom if their mom knew what they were getting into when borrowing the loan, particularly if mom borrowed way more than the student themselves could afford.

      This may even go moreso for the wealthy client, honestly. Most strangers off the street wouldn’t co-sign a loan for no reason, and wealthy people typically know more about money and spending. So I assume that if the wealthy client co-signed the loans it’s because she wanted to and knew exactly what the implications would be.

      1. fposte*

        We don’t know she’s wealthy, though–we just know that it’s a possibility. And she may have been wealthy prior to 2008-9 and not so much now.

        I don’t think Anon’s husband needs to go on an epic journey to find her, but even if she could afford it and paid it off, at least a thank you note would be in order.

        1. BRR*

          You’re right, the OP said she MIGHT be wealthy. My parents had a cleaning person for many years and while they’re comfortable they’re not “let’s pay for another kid’s college” comfortable.

        2. Anon for this*

          Exactly. Like I said, it would have been easy to track down his Mom if Client didn’t want to pay it, so if Client did pay (any portion), I would want to track her down to say thank you and offer a payback, but I’m not going to spend money/excessive time hunting her down, since it would have been so easy for her to find us. In fact, even if I find out that she never paid a cent, I might try to track her down just to thank her for her signature. I don’t even want to think about what would have happened if my husband had to drop out.

          1. fposte*

            Or she died, and her kids would be really touched to hear how much this helped your husband. Wouldn’t hurt to do a little checking. (Plus that sort of thing just makes me curious.)

    2. Anon for this*

      We make plenty of money, so I don’t really care if he has to pay it back, I’m just trying to figure out the situation. I already know what I want to do ethically in all the various possibilities, I just need to figure out what the actuality is first. I’m also definitely not hiring an attorney to figure out something that would take a handful of google searches and phone calls.

  52. Mints*

    Hi everyone! I have a question about buying a car. I understand basic budget stuff pretty well, but loans and financing always overwhelm me.

    Okay here’s the story with all the numbers:
    I bought a car three years ago, in 2012, and it was two years old, for $16,000. It’s a 72 month lease, and 40 months remaining. $10,700 principal balance remaining. The KBB value is $7000. Monthly payments are just over $300. My credit is “fair.”

    I’m thinking about trading it in for a car similar in “niceness” but more what I actually like. This car was bought kind of desperately. I’d like the monthly payments to be a little lower, but could do the same.

    Would I be losing money no matter what because the value is less than the loan balance? If I can trade the car in, what type of sticker price should I be looking at to keep the monthly price the same?

    1. Tammy*

      You did not BUY a car. You leased it. You have no equity in the car. Leases make sense for a few people, but not many.

      Is there a reason you want to get rid of the present car? You will be stuck in perpetual lease he!! if you trade this in now. Too far upside down. Trust me – I was there. Never thought I would EVER get out from under leases.

      1. Ella*

        I’m wondering if OP just used the word “lease” instead of “loan” by mistake? If not, OP, definitely research the difference between buying as leasing as applies to cars, and if you ever want to see a day when you don’t have to worry about a car payment, stop leasing.

    2. Ella*

      Did you lease the car, or purchase the car with a loan?

      I am not good with numbers either, but it looks like, with the payments that you have over the life of the loan, if you stick with the loan through to the end you’ll have actually paid $21,600 (including interest) for the car. So that’s one way to think of it. You’ll almost certainly lose money on the loan, but you might save money in the long run, especially if you can get a lower monthly payment. If you look for a lower sticker price, or if you can handle a higher monthly payment for a shorter period of time (like 60 months instead of 72), you’ll save money. I think we would need to know what sort of interest rate you qualify for to be able to calculate sticker price.

      If you are any good at algebra, the equation (which I just found online) is: C = (R x P) / [1 – (1 + R) ^-N]

      C=Monthly Payment
      R=Monthly Interest Rate
      P=Principal Amount of the Loan
      N=Total number of months in the loan (in this case, 72; also that last part of the equation is “one plus R to the power of negative N”)

      So you could use that to solve for C, or, since you know what monthly payment you’re shooting for, you could define C yourself, and plug in the interest rate you qualify for and the length of the loan that you want, and solve for R (which would give you a sticker price to start looking around at). Also note that the equation calculates MONTHLY interest, not APR (which is Annual).

      My credit union offers loan-counseling sessions for questions just like this. Your credit union or bank may do the same. They could also help you map out what kind of loan you qualify for, how long it would take to pay back, and how much money you’d actually be handing over, whether leasing or buying makes more sense for you, etc.

    3. NDQ*

      Instead of getting yourself back into the same situation, why not consider saving up for your next car, again buy used, but pay cash so that you don’t have a monthly payment? You will be paying an extra $5,000+ for something that can’t retain its value.


    4. Not So NewReader*

      Can you put extra on it each month and tell them to apply it to the principle? Maybe you could get it turned around so you are not upside down on this loan.

      I am concerned that if you get another car you will end up rolling over the debt on this one to the new car. Then you could be really upside down.

      KKB may or may not be the price you get for current car. But let’s say it is. 10, 700- 7000 is 3,700. You could end up paying that out of pocket or rolling it on to the new car loan. I’d be careful here.

  53. Dan*

    Your question is really vague, because your monthly payment is comprised of three things: amount financed, interest rate, and loan term.

    BTW, you used the term “lease”. That means you don’t own the car. I’m assuming that you misspoke. Leasing a car is very different than owning one.

    I don’t know what you mean by “losing money.” First, you’ll have to negotiate the value of the trade in, which is going to be a different amount than what you would get doing a private party sale.

    Assuming the $ you gave us is kbb dealer trade in and you can get it, then with the figures you gave us, they will tack on $3000 to your new loan.

    So really, if you finance under the same rate and the same 72 mo repayment term, you’d be looking at a $13k car to keep your monthly loan amount the same.

  54. WeddingBells*

    Our wedding was several weeks ago and we’re in the process of finishing up our thank you notes. We received a few gifts from individuals that we were unable to invite to the wedding. We are very grateful for the gifts and want to write them a nice note. How does one personalize a thank you for that sort of situation? For friends and family who were invited, unable to attend, but sent a gift I usually write something along the lines of “we missed you at the wedding but hope to visit you soon!” I’m unsure what to write to someone who was not invited but who was very generous and sent us a gift. Any advice?

    1. BRR*

      Thank you for your generous and thoughtful gift. This will be really helpful as we start our lives together. *Personal note about the gift if you can like “I love ice cream and can’t wait to experiment making it at home!”* I hope to see you soon/I can’t wait to see you at cousin Jimmy’s bar mitzvah.

  55. Stephanie*

    Ok, I left an unopened plastic container of milk out by mistake overnight. Refrigerated it this morning. Planning to use it for cooking. Is it ok or should I go replace it while I’m at the store?

    For reference, it’s whole milk, nonorganic, and my house is on the warmer side (around 78 F).

      1. Gene*

        Yeah, let your nose, then your taste buds, be your guide. If it smells OK, give it a little taste. If it tastes OK plan on using it as quickly as you can. Repeat tests before each use.