weekend free-for-all – August 29-30, 2015

Olive and EveThis 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:  Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, by Natasha Solomons. A German immigrant tries to become a proper English gentleman after World War II (including writing his own list of manners and customs to follow), which eventually turns into a quest to build a golf course (since English gentlemen must play golf). This book will make you feel cozy and in need of tea.

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

{ 951 comments… read them below }

      1. TootsNYC*

        My mother always said, “The problem with kittens and babies is that they don’t keep.”

    1. Random Reader*

      Thanks guys! He weighs in at just a pound and an ounce. He is a purring machine and the sweetest little guy. The other cat isn’t quite sure about him yet, but they just need time and I’m sure they’ll be best of buds soon enough :-)

      1. Random Reader*

        Also, his only issues when he went to the vet were diahrrea and fleas. Any cat owners have experience in those arenas? He’s so tiny and and I hate that he’s having issues :( He visited the vet again today and was treated for worms, but his poop doesn’t seem to be getting better.

        1. Sibley*

          It can take a few days for worms to be resolved. Also, stress or changes in food can cause diarrhea. In an otherwise healthy kitten who’s eating well and is behaving normally, I’d just keep a close eye on him for signs of distress. Not eating, sleeping more, acting ill, sudden change in behavior, etc – call the vet asap. Kittens can get dehydrated very quickly at that age. If it’s just the adjustment to new home, then it should resolve on its own. You’ll probably need to help with bottom-washing though, cats have a hard time cleaning up diarrhea.

        2. The Other CrazyCatLady*

          Did he have a fecal exam done? If not, it would be a good idea – diarrhea could be caused by any number of things, and lots of them would be likely to turn up on a fecal exam.

          Give him a few days for any worms to pass while keeping him on a steady (and high moisture) diet. More canned food than kibble to help replace the liquid he’s losing due to diarrhea. If the diarrhea doesn’t start clearing up in a few days, check with your vet for a blander food that might be higher in fiber. It’s not likely to resolve overnight, but you should see noticeable improvement pretty quick.

          If he doesn’t want to eat or seems lethargic, he may need to go back in. A heavy enough worm load could have trouble passing and/or cause other problems.

          1. Random Reader*

            They did a fecal exam and it was negative for any kind of parasite. He’s really active and is eating and drinking a lot. The only indication that anything might be wrong is the diahrrea. He’s tricky for the vet to treat because he’s so small that the dosages have to be that much smaller. The vet called back today and just said to keep an eye on it. Here’s hoping it clears up soon!

            1. purlgurly*

              We adopted our kitten Zoe from the shelter at about 4 months and were advised that she had never had a solid poop in her life. Treated for worms, etc. We started adding a bit of pumpkin purée (not pie filing) to her breakfast and dinner (about 1/2 tsp at each meal) and it cleared it up. Another friend started adding pumpkin on our suggestion and it also really helped their cat. Seems like Zoe might have the equivalent of IBD and the fibre in the pumpkin really helps her. Maybe give it a try? Our vet has approved this feeding plan (AAHA-accredited practice).

        3. skyline*

          Kitten! So cute!

          If he’s being treated for worms, it may just take a little time to resolve. Stress and change (like moving into a new household) can also cause diarrhea. I sometimes mix a teaspoon of plain pureed pumpkin into my cat’s wet food when they are having diarrhea; the extra fiber seems to help. Just make sure it’s truly plain pumpkin–a lot of the canned stuff has additional ingredients, like pie spices.

          1. Honeybee*

            I third the pumpkin recommendation; it worked on my dog, too. She had loose-ish stools when I first adopted her because she was a bit freaked by the change, but I gave her some tasty pumpkin and it helped bind her up. I also think it helped her like me more early on because mmm, pumpkin. I used the same plain canned pumpkin (no spices included) I use to make pie and other baked goods – in fact, I would usually give her what was leftover from the can.

        4. Honeybee*

          Not a cat owner, but my dog had fleas a couple weeks ago. I was freaked about it, but it’s really not such a big deal. I think cats have monthly preventatives that they can take for fleas and ticks just like dogs; the good ones start killing the fleas that already live on the animal. What I did with my dog was used a flea comb to get out the live adults on her, then gave her a flea bath (she was not amused) and then used the flea + tick preventative. Worked like a charm – she didn’t have flea problems anymore. (My vet did say that that was a pretty strong chemical and that the oral tablets you can give dogs works just as well with less harshness, so next month we’re gonna do that.)

          The next issue with fleas is whether or not you have an infestation in your home. A lot of the websites I consulted said that adult fleas on your animal are only a small percentage of the problem and that you might also have eggs that are waiting to hatch in your carpet, and give you all these intensive instructions of what you need to do to get rid of fleas. Some even claim that the only thing to do is hire an exterminator. I’m skeptical, because most of these websites were trying to sell something – flea products or home exterminators. I’m also lazy. So I vacuumed vigorously and used the in home upholstery spray that proclaims to kill fleas on contact (you can buy it from the pet store). We didn’t have any more flea problems. (To be fair, I think I caught the fleas pretty early on.)

    2. Mimmy*


      It’s so weird – cats annoy the heck out of me, but I LOVE pictures and videos of cats! Yes, I am a weirdo, lol.

    3. SkryimFanatic*

      Cat!! So cute. We can’t have that at my apartment. :( My husband’s supposed to ask the owner if we can get a hamster, but he doesn’t want to ask, and to be fair, I don’t either. So I will spend the rest of my time here deprived of cute fluffy things.

  1. bathroom size*

    I’m thinking of downsizing from my house to a condo or apartment. Every condo or apartment that I look at in newer buildings has enormous bathrooms with huge soaking tubs plus huge glassed-in showers. Who is it that wants bathrooms bigger than their kitchen? It seems like builders/designers could better use the space for office space or a den.

    Does anyone really want such large bathrooms and, if so, why? And if not, how have builders gotten so into building like this?

    1. Amber Rose*

      I don’t get that either. One place I looked at when we were hunting had a huge bathroom, but the “master” bedroom was smaller than our actual bed. :/

    2. Today's anon*

      I wonder if these are built thinking of an older population that need larger bathrooms to negotiate a walker or a chair in the bath?

      1. danr*

        Not really. They’re easy to build and raise the price. The old formula used to be huge jacuzzis and tiny showers. Now they’ve added huge showers.

    3. Kirsten*

      I know it’s not a good use of space but I would love to have a huge bathroom with a giant tub.

    4. Beth Anne*

      I’m the same way. The last few apartments/condos that we lived in had NO PANTRY. It sucks. We’ve had to buy other cabinets and stuff to use for pantry space. My current apt is super old there isn’t even a plug in the bathroom. LOL

      1. HR Generalist*

        I didn’t know this was a thing. I just moved into military barracks and there is one solo outlet in the bathroom, it’s a two-prong and is labelled “razor only”. Probably the strangest thing I’ve ever seen and I have no idea how I’ll straighten or blowdry my hair now!

    5. anonymous daisy*

      I would actually love that. I also like the trend of just having one room to eat in versus a separate dining room and breakfast nook. But I also like a larger kitchen than what I see lately. No pantry, no bueno. I need to earn more money so I can actually have the possibility of owning one.

      1. anonymous daisy*

        I also hate the tub trend where it looks like you have to sit cross legged in it. Why is this supposed to be a good idea? Why???

    6. fposte*

      I’ve noticed this on Houzz. I have vague and relevant theories: the bathroom has been way behind in expensive high-styling and is catching up, it’s a blend of sybaritic and hygienic, so it’s an acceptable indulgence, and there aren’t that many house spaces focused on private enjoyment these days.

    7. Artemesia*

      We live in a small high rise condo with two bathrooms. They are so tiny there is no room for a cat box in either one (we now have no kitty since our cat died as it was such an endless hassle and we had to pretty much give the cat our spare room ) We miss having a kitty.

      I like having a closet in the bathroom so that my basic clothing – underwear and the stuff I wear day in and day out is at hand where I bathe and get dressed in the morning. I have decent medicine cabinet space in my bathroom (which doubles as the guest bath — my husband gets the en suite with the giant shower, but I like having the tub) but not space for clothes and shoes — so I have a bag I hang on the back of the door with spare underwear, pajamas and things I want to throw on in the morning. This of course means the door doesn’t open all the way.

      So I would love to have a much bigger bathroom than we now have.

      1. TootsNYC*

        well, there’s bigger, and then there’s ginormous!

        The huge ones are usually designed so that you couldn’t really decide to partition it off to create a closet / dressing room without major plumbing surgery.

    8. hermit crab*

      Nope, I’m with you on this one. I would much rather have one normal-sized bathroom and one half-bath/powder room instead of one giant bathroom, but I haven’t seen that setup much in the new buildings around here.

    9. Traveler*

      I love it. After living in apartments that had bathrooms barely big enough to turn around in, its a huge relief. Not to mention for those that are tall, its nice to have plenty of room to move around without worrying about hitting a ceiling or a wall every time you lift an arm to wash. Or in some cases, just having a shower head that isn’t at eye level or a bathtub where you can have your knees and boobs under the water at once! I’m not even that tall.

    10. not all about the $$$*

      I live in an apartment now and my bathroom is huge….like, as in I could fit a twin bed in there. I love it and am so spoiled now.

    11. Andraste*

      Ahhh yes, honestly I would love that. If I’m ever a homeowner I hope to have that kind of set up! I LOVE soaking in a good bath and would rather take a bath than a shower daily. My last rental house was quite old and had an old, deep porcelain claw foot tub–it was amazing! My SO on the other hand is a shower person. If we could have this set up, it would be great! We’d both get what we want and I’d get to take baths without his hairs in the tub. :P

    12. Anna the Accounting Student*

      Maybe I’m just in kitty mode form the comments above yours, but for a moment I thought you wanted to downsize to a cat condo.

    13. Lady Bug*

      Every time we watch house hunting shows people freak out if there isn’t a double sink in the master bath. I don’t get it. In 15 years with my spouse there had never been a time where we both needed a sink that badly! I mean I’d much rather have the extra counter space for beauty products.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I’m more likely to need a sink at the same time as a toilet–so having the toilet in its own little room is the one thing I’d spring extra $ for.

      2. NacSacJack*

        +1 i had the opportunity to remodel my bathroom and luckily did not have space for double sinks, but still would not consider it. two sinks to clean, thank you, no. we have two bathrooms in this house. someone can use the other bathroom to shave and brush their teeth if need be. now when i remodel the basement bathroom, two sinks would be a good idea because then my future kids can use it to get ready while dad uses the main floor bathroom.

      3. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Heh– this came up for me this week. A co-worker is house-hunting and was saying how she absolutely MUST have a double sink. Personally, I think a double sink is really nice, but I’ve never had one (well, correction– my brother and I shared a bathroom growing up with a really long double vanity, and that was pretty great) so it’s not my “must” list. However, I “must” have a tub and she doesn’t think they’re necessary.

        My views are so skewed, honestly. I spent a long time living in NYC apartments and I never thought I would want a pantry or a laundry room sink or anything like that. I grew up with these things but spent most of my adult life doing without them. Then I moved to a place with a much lower cost of living– we’re renting, and I love our little house and the renovations are really great, but I find myself saying, “When we buy, we need a pantry. When we buy, I want a soaking tub. When we buy, I want a walk-in closet,” etc.

        1. Honeybee*

          The bathroom I shared with my brother and sister growing up could’ve definitely used a double sink so that more than one of us could brush teeth at the same time. I think I’ll also appreciate the double vanities with my husband, particularly if we end up going to work at the same time (although he’s talked about claiming the guest bathroom as his own, which is fine by me!)

          I spent most of my early adult life in New York apartments (and never had these things growing up, either), so the amenities I can suddenly afford and that are available to me in a new city are stunning. I’m in a temporary apartment in my new city and my husband turned on the dishwasher and I was like “wait, you turned it on?” It was SO QUIET. He looked amused and was like “You really have never seen a newer dishwasher run, have you?” No! I haven’t! I’m also stoked about having a washer and dryer in my apartment so I’m not carefully meting out my clothes until I have a big enough load to justify paying for laundry. And oh, but I have a long list of requirements for when we buy our first house.

          1. Hlyssande*

            Ugh the laundry problem! I love my apartment (it’s huge for the price, walk in closet, separate den, awesome), but I would kill for in-unit washer and dryer. Kill for it in a heartbeat.

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              I refuse to move to a new place unless it has in-unit laundry.

              The two-sink bathroom always makes me think of hotels or the “cram-as-many-tentants-in-as-possible” apartments of my college days, when you couldn’t get 5 girls to share a 4BR apartment unless you had double sinks.

      4. Aam Admi*

        I have a double sink in my master bath (2br, 2 bath condo). The storage space is great but I would have preferred if the second sink space was converted to more linen closet space. I have a decent size linen closet in the bathroom but would love to have more – like Artemesia, I store everyday essentials like undergarments and pajamas in the bathroom closet. The second bathroom is only used when my son visits which is rare. So I can sometimes use it to hang wet clothes and such . I prefer to shower so so the the master bath has a shower (decent size, not huge) and there is a tub in the guest bathroom.
        I love open spaces with kitchen, living and dining in the same room. I grew up in East Asia where the kitchen was a room at the back of the house and it made cooking feel like a big chore. With open spaces, I can cook and clean while watching TV or chatting with guests in the living room.

    14. BritCred*

      We had quite a big wetroom when I lived with the ex. It got used for storage and laundry as we had 2 other toilet rooms and a full bathroom upstairs. However it had originally been put in to accommodate for a disabled person. It was however smaller than the kitchen!

      Most places however have gone the other way in the UK – bathrooms small enough that the bath is the full length and the rest is squeezed into the other side and good luck getting 2 adults standing in it (when you need to which is rare) or much storage bar a mirror cabinet. And absolutely useless for a disabled person who needs room for aids/wheelchair entrance.

    15. Elizabeth West*

      I want one. Damn. My bathroom is the size of a closet and falling apart. I got spoiled entirely a couple of years ago staying in a hotel suite with a giant tub and a separate room just for the shower and toilet. *sigh* Someday….

      Though I think I’ll skip the huge mirrors surrounding the tub. Gah, too much me. >_<

    16. Honeybee*

      *raises hand*

      One of the reasons I picked my new apartment (which I haven’t moved into yet, but have already applied for) is because of the enormous bathroom in the master suite. It has a glassed-in shower and a separate soaking tub (neither of which is huge, but they are reasonably-sized I suppose). I like it. I like the double vanities, so that my husband and I can brush teeth at the same time if necessary; I love that the tub isn’t next to the toilet so that when I’m taking a bath I’m not staring at the toilet bowl; I love that the toilet has it’s own room with a door so I can use the mirror if my husband is using the toilet; I like that showers are easier to clean than tubs and I can just take a shower in the shower stall every day and save the tub for the weekends. I also like to towel off and sometimes get dressed or do makeup in my bathroom and I love having the additional room in there to do so.

      Actually, one of the things I didn’t get when looking for apartments and condos is why so many of them have such small bedrooms, including the master. I looked at several apartments and other than the one we settled on, the bedrooms were typically very small – just big enough for a queen bed with a nightstand or two, and barely any room for dressers. Some of them would have these enormous living rooms and tiny bedrooms. One had a patio that was larger than the bedrooms.

    17. CheeryO*

      Oh, I didn’t know this was a thing! I moved into a new apartment recently, and it has TWO gigantic bathrooms. I’m afraid to actually measure, but they have to take up about 40% of our square footage. They’re definitely bigger than our living/dining area. The apartment is amazing otherwise, but it’s so silly that we have a palatial bathroom that is essentially unused.

    1. anonymous daisy*

      I freaking love that genre! I try to read two or three a week. I love Sofie Ryan. Plus, the cozy authors are pretty active on the internet. You can always see them giving away copies of their books so they can get people talking about their titles. This summer, I have won three already! Just follow your favorite authors on facebook and you will see them announce a contest every so often.

    2. AcidMeFlux*

      “Cozy Mysteries”? Genres for lit and music are getting more and more focused. I kind of hit my limit when I found out there was such a thing as Christian speed-metal.

    3. Emsz*

      I love them. They’re basically all I read these days. Nothing really bad ever happens (mostly the people who die are never main characters) and they always end well :)

    4. Liane*

      What are cozy mysteries?

      I like Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swenson mysteries, whatever subgenre they are – because cookie & other recipes! Maybe hers is food p–n msyteries?

      1. Liz in a Library*

        Mysteries without the graphic violence that can often accompany crime novels (generally without a lot of sex either). I haven’t read the Joanne Fluke books in years, but if I remember correctly, I think they’d fall into that category.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I love sex and violence (fictional violence, of course!) so I write crime. I don’t know if I could write a true mystery—I really like getting into the criminal’s head, and unfortunately, then the reader will have to know who it is.

    5. Barbara in Swampeast*

      I love MC Beaton’s Hamish MacBeth series, but I can’t stand the Agatha Raisin series.

      Monica Ferris is also a favorite. Her sleuth owns a needlework shop. Monica used to be on the needlework newsgroup and was very nice. Seems needlework and mystery reading go together.

      I also just found cozy-mystery.com which looks good for finding new cozies. They list Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, which I never thought of as a cozy, but it fits, and I can get through one of those books in a nice afternoon with a cup or two of tea.

      1. catsAreCool*

        Donna Andrews writes books with a bird in the title that are fun and funny. Emily Brightwell has interesting books set in Victorian times. JoAnna Carl writes mysteries that feature chocolate. Carola Dunn writes fun mysteries.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I love MC Beaton and Donna Andrews! I also have enjoyed Mary Jane Maffini’s Charlotte Adams series. (Charlotte is a professional organizer and amateur sleuth.)

  2. Marie*

    Wardrobe help needed! Anyone have recommendations for the following… Normally I love to shop, but I can’t seem to find what I’m looking for.

    Yoga top: preferably short-sleeved. Needs to not have a low-cut neckline – I’m bigger on top. Also looking for something longer that won’t ride up. I need a bit more coverage with something that I don’t have to keep adjusting. I can’t be the only one with this problem!

    Flats: I can no longer wear heels. Anyone have a brand/style they love? I want something pointy and dressy… Something that will look good with a suit. No ballet flats!

      1. Meg Danger*


        I purchased these ones a couple years ago online for $25 (Ballet flats, I know, but think they have similar styles that are not ballet-style?): http://www.amazon.com/Nine-West-Womens-Speakup-Pointy/dp/B00DG6OYPC/ref=sr_1_6?s=apparel&ie=UTF8&qid=1440889509&sr=1-6&keywords=flats&refinements=p_89%3ANine+West%2Cp_n_size_two_browse-vebin%3A5391077011

        It looks like these shoes are more expensive now, but I still might consider buying them again at the higher price. They are light-weight and small enough to stick in my messenger bag biking to work (more professional than bike shoes, and they dress up or down). They are super durable, I am currently traveling in Peru (month 2 of 4!), and I have worn these bad boys all over, walking miles in the cities, even trailblazing through farms in more rural areas (cows and everything, seriously, this is the only “dress” shoe I have owned that can handle off-road adventures with such grace, the sole is rugged enough for dirt and gravel and they wear comfortably in rougher conditions.), plus easy on and off at the airport. These shoes have still held their structure and aesthetic despite hard use (while traveling I just wipe them down inside and out with a baby wipe on days I am especially hard on them and buff out any mud or scuffs – bonus: the scuffs are super simple to repair, I just fill them in with a black sharpie which does no look as shabby as it sounds.).

        OK, rambling. I promise I don’t work for Nine West, I am just really impressed with the quality of these super-cheap shoes.

    1. not alex*

      Zella brand by Nordstrom hasn’t let me down yet for yoga-style clothes, tops and bottoms. Designer is former Lululemon exec., so it’s basically Lulu for peons.

      1. Natalie*

        Oh, neat. The lululemon guy seems like kind of an ass, so I’ve never wanted to give him any money.

            1. Honeybee*

              Which is hilarious because yoga wear is just about the most basic wear on the planet. The first three garments look exactly like yoga flares/leggings/wide leg pants that are sold at just about any store that sells workout or lounge wear, from Athleta to Walmart.

              She seems so disappointed that people won’t be able to tell at a glance that she paid $100 for her yoga pants rather than $50…which to me is weird because unless I can see the logo on someone’s pants, all yoga pants look the same to me and I just assume that they’re paying $20 at Old Navy like I am, lol.

      2. InterviewFreeZone*

        AND they sell plus size, which I appreciate since I’m straight sized in some clothes, plus sized in a lot of athletic tight fitting things (particularly yoga apparel).

    2. Random CPA*

      I love J. Crew’s viv flats. I have a pair in mirror metallic silver and they go with almost everything, but J. Crew makes the style in tons of colors. They run 1/2 size small. I buy mine on eBay because they’re significantly cheaper on there.

    3. Sparrow*

      For yoga tops -Old Navy, Macy and maybe Lands End.

      Shoes – I like Life Stride and Naturalizer

    4. hermit crab*

      Clarks!!! They have a lot of non-frumpy styles these days. :)

      There’s actually a Clarks outlet in my hometown and I pretty much only buy shoes there anymore. They have great deals and the quality is not bad for an outlet store.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I found a pair of Clarks clogs at the discount remainder store. Man those things are comfy. Macy’s here has the brand, but they seem to only have a tiny bit of ugly stuff. I’ve been in Clarks stores in London and I know they have nice-looking shoes!

    5. Bluebirds Fly*

      I loved Clark’s until I found Allegria. I can wear them all day without heel pain. I tried Danskos, but the model I bought was really heavy. The Allegria s are light.

    6. Stephanie*

      Flats: Frye (spendy, admittedly), Miz Mooz (yeah, the name is goofy sounding), Born, Clarks

    7. Honeybee*

      For the former, I often buy tops at Old Navy. They tend to be roomy on top, but they have lots of styles with drawstrings around the waist to keep them from riding up or flipping over when in a yoga pose.

      For the latter, I have a pair of Calvin Kleins that fit the requirements perfectly. They are pointy-toed and very dressy, and would look good with a suit – I wore them for an interview. They do have a tiny heel (a quarter of an inch) but are essentially flat. The style is called ballet flat – Calvin Klein Gailia ballet flats – but they don’t look anything like the traditional ballet flat with a rounded toe that are more casual. They come in several colors. I bought mine from Amazon.

  3. Audiophile*

    Slightly work related:

    I’m seriously considering relocating. My cousin was quickly offered a job in the Tampa area and will be moving within the month. Meanwhile, I’m nearing 30, still living at home and barely covering my monthly expenses. I’m still working for the same crappy company, have yet to find gainful employment and with my mom gearing up to move to the middle of nowhere PA, I can’t afford to live on my own and I can’t stomach the idea of moving with her.

    I’m trying to decide what areas look good to me, I have a friend in FT Myers but that area doesn’t appeal to me. Tampa seems like a nicer fit or the Miami-Dade area.

    1. not alex*

      i grew up in Tampa and hated it, but it’s changed, so I’ve heard, and probably is nice. If zero seasons and driving/suburban lifestyle appeals to you, it’s probably not a bad place to end up. I liked the aspect of vibrant Latino culture, for sure; i learned Spanish early. Schools and gov’t tend to suck, though. I went to an IB magnet high school; otherwise I’d never be where I am.
      maybe this will help: http://www.movoto.com/tampa-fl/moving-to-tampa/

      1. E*

        I also grew up in Tampa and wasn’t a fan, but the city is changing and becoming more vibrant. Still very suburban and sprawly – I find I can only enjoy being there for a week or so at a time. Also, it is HOT (too hot to be outside for any length of time from April-mid October). The beach scene is nice, though (about 45 mins/an hour from Tampa) and the city is slowly becoming more cultural.

    2. Beth Anne*

      I live in north florida and have thought about moving to south or central florida…they seem to have more jobs but I can’t decide if it’s just because more people live there.

      I totally feel you though. I’ll be 30 next year and still live at home and still can’t really find work in my field at the pay I need to move out. I’ve thought about moving but i have no idea where and I’m not sure I want to. It’s just frustrating. Blah.

        1. Beth Anne*

          yes…well St. Augustine. I want to be a bookkeeper but everything in this area is posted by temp agencies, want you to have 5+ years experience, or only pay $10/hour. :(

          1. ID10T Detector*

            I have two friends who work in the accounting department at Suddath Van Lines’ HQ in south Jax. I can ask if there are any openings or any coming up, if you’re interested. They seem really happy with pay/culture/work-life balance/etc there.

      1. Audiophile*

        I was just thinking, I haven’t seen you in a while. How have you been? Where you thinking of relocating to?

        1. Stephanie*

          Eh, still in the same area for now, but I’d like to relocate. I’m just debating whether to move closer to work.

    3. Anonymous Because Location Discussion*

      I currently work and live in South Florida and I’m telling you now, cost of living is so outrageous that it might be best to find somewhere less expensive to live and save until you can afford to move there. I do okay, but I’m paid better than many other people in my field … and I have two roommates.

    4. AnnieNonymous*

      Hmmm, Florida.

      I don’t want to say anything that could be construed as offensive, but you really don’t want to move to an inexpensive area of Florida unless you absolutely have no other options.

      1. Audiophile*

        Most of FL doesn’t seem that expensive compared to NY. Even the Tampa area seemed relatively affordable.

        1. AnnieNonymous*

          Fine, I’ll come out and say it lol.

          The cheaper areas of Florida tend to be populated by people that you don’t want to be surrounded by. It’s not about money so much as its own bizarre, unsafe, unpalatable culture.

          1. Audiophile*

            I have a car. The only places I’ve visited in FL, to my recolletion are: Orlando (too expensive), Ft. Myers (too far from everything) Miami (Downtown, so not affordable place to live) and I think the Tampa are once. I haven’t made a decision, haven’t even begun to job search, it’s just a thought at the moment.

            Every city/town has less than desirable areas. I lived in a very rich town growing up and around the corner from our apartment was the “bad” part.

    5. Liane*

      We lived there for many years – I am a Florida native, in fact. We left at the beginning of the economy problems in 2007. I liked it pretty well.
      Things to take into account:
      *Due partly to the cost of housing, while Florida might be a relatively inexpensive vacation, it is a pretty expensive place to live, even though there is no state income tax and groceries/prescriptions (probably a few other basics I can’t recall) are totally exempt from the sales tax.
      *Pay isn’t that great, due, I think to the large percentage of jobs that are tourism or other service-related. But even other types of jobs often don’t pay so well as in other areas, either.
      *In many other areas of the country, the “richest,” upper class, middle class. working class, “really dubious” parts of cities are in specific areas. In much of Tampa, however, you will find these vary practically block by block. You’d have older middle-class neighborhoods and a few streets one way would be some of the most expensive parts of town, but a block or two closer, some much worse areas. (This is more common in older parts of Tampa, than the newer subdivisions on the outskirts.)

      1. Clever Name*

        Ha. Fort Worth is like this. We lived in a crappy area a block away from one of the fanciest streets. Really weird.

        1. Stephanie*

          Phoenix is like that, too. The neighborhoods vary block to block or parcel by parcel. You go to one area see beautifully maintained Craftsmans selling for $400k. You cross over the street and there are flophouse apartments offering free rent deals. Even the suburbs have that, save for one really ritzy one where the CEOs live and one really poor and working class suburb. Only places you don’t see that are fairly new subdivisions.

    6. Honeybee*

      When I was in graduate school I worked with quite a few students from Florida and several of them were planning to make the move to Tampa (or stay in Tampa – I had a couple of summer students from USF). Apparently, it has a relatively low cost of living compared to other Florida cities, but has a decent economy right now.

    7. The IT Manager*

      late to this, but if you come back to check.

      I lived in Tampa. I liked it a good bit; although, I didn’t quite fit in. I’m not a beach goer. The kind of outdoorsy stuff I liked to do was not at the beach/on the water so I didn’t find a lot of groups to do it. Although it is also possible I have just been more actively searching in my new town.

      Despite the beach thing, I liked it, though. Tampa Bay (including Tampa, St. Pete, and surrounding area) has wide variety of sports teams to watch. All kinds of museums. Amusement park in town and only a couple hours drive to Disney in Orlando. That said I recall hearing it doesn’t have a ton of young people. I think the population skews older.

      It is sprawling though. Tampa and St. Pete are an entire metro area, but it’s a large metro area so you can drive long distances and still essentially be in Tampa ie you can end up with a long commute.

      Overall the weather isn’t too bad. Generally stays warmer is the winter than the rest of the south making it very pleasant. And the summer heat (like the rest of the south) is offset by a bit more of a breeze.

  4. Today's anon*

    The daily email digest now comes out at noon instead of 1pm and it has messed up my lunch hour! :) it kind of was my cue for lunch!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Well, 12 EST :) I switched it because I realized that it comes out with the latest story at the top, and I wanted that to be the first “main” post of the day, not the 12:30 EST posts, which are usually links to my columns published somewhere else. Sorry I messed up your lunch!

      1. Today's anon*

        :) that makes sense. It just threw me off! I resist going to the site at other times during the week because I will stay reading for more time than I should :)

      2. Audiophile*

        I noticed that there was always an additional post by the time I got the email digest at 1pm. I thought that was intentional.

  5. Amber Rose*

    I picked up the last Discworld book. All I can say is, I cried openly through the beginning and it’s one hell of a send-off.

    The smoke in the air now looks like fog. People have been photoshopping Pyramid Head and other Silent Hill bits into random pictures of our city. I’ve also seen Mount Doom and the Eye of Sauron. Can’t blame them, the blood red sun and moon we’ve had all week are rather unsettling.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      Yeah, I started reading The Shepherd’s Crown and had to stop after the first two chapters for a good cry.

    2. Gene*

      I pre-ordered 2 of the slipcase editions from Watersones, just waiting for them to make it across the Atlantic. One will remain in the shrink-wrap.

      At Worldcon I was annoyed at myself for not completing my hardcover collection earlier. The early books were a bit pricey before, but now they’re outrageous. Book club “Colour of Magic” for $80?

    3. Liz in a Library*

      Ugh…I’m kind of not even looking forward to reading it, because I know it’s going to be such a sad read. I pre-ordered it anyway (comes out here on Tuesday).

    4. TootsNYC*

      I really didn’t like the last Tiffany Aching book; I’m scared of reading this one, a little, because I’m afraid it’ll have the same flaws. (the last one felt extremely preachy, and Tiffany was majorly overbearing; my daughter and I also greatly object to the idea that she didn’t get married to Roland)

    5. Barbara in Swampeast*

      Bummer!!! We in the US don’t get it until Tuesday.

      “I Shall Wear Midnight” was a bit bleak, but I read it before my MIL became terminally ill and remembering bits and pieces helped get me through taking care of her.

  6. Kirsten*

    I’m having an issue with my cat’s food, hoping some of the other cat owners can help me. I got my cat last October (she was 2) and followed the instructions from the shelter on what to feed her (a combo of any wet and dry food.) She is my first pet so I went with what they were giving her there which was sheba and friskies. I’ve since then switched her to Purina Naturals dry food but still give her Sheba wet food. I took her to the vet earlier this month and they told me I was feeding her the cat equivalent of McDonalds, whoops! I’ve completely removed the dry food from her diet on their recommendation and tried to switch her to healthier wet food and she basically went on a hunger strike until I brought back Sheba. I even tried mixing the two and she only at the Sheba and left the rest.

    My question is, is it bad to keep her on this food that she likes even though it’s considered unhealthy? Has anyone else had a similar issue and found a healthy cat food that your picky cat liked? Thanks!!

    1. not alex*

      If it were me, i would switch her 100% to the healthy/high-quality food, immediately. so, she hunger-strikes a bit. she will eat what’s available eventually and get used to it. My pets would gladly eat “kibbles n bits,” but I just don’t make that crap an option at all.

      1. Maeve*

        Hunger strikes for cats are really dangerous. They can get fatty liver disease after not eating enough for 48 hours and it can be fatal.

        1. Liz in a Library*

          Yep. My cat Gink stopped eating while we were away on a trip (the sitter didn’t notice because his brother considerately ate his share)…he got seriously ill in less than a week and nearly died. We had to put in a feeding tube and feed him that way for almost 6 weeks before he could handle eating normally. I think the stress on his body contributed to the stroke that killed him less than a year later.

          Not trying to scare you, but always take a cat that stops eating seriously.

    2. Heather*

      Personally I say feed what the cat likes. I feed my cat wet cat food (she likes Fancy Feast and Friskies) and high quality dry. I give very little of the dry and more of the wet. It’s pretty hard to out stubborn a cat. Both the cats I have owned won’t eat the high quality wet food and my current cat will eat pretty much anything. She even eats cat food COLD that has been in the fridge. COLD!! So I say feed the wet that they will eat and try to feed a higher quality dry. You can get sample bags of dry food at the pet food store. My previous cat was SUPER picky and would only eat Fancy Feast pate cat food with occasionally Friskies and generic brands. I tried and tried and tried but she would not eat anything else. And I couldn’t hunger strike her because she simply refused. And it’s very dangerous for a cat to go too long without food. She lived to be 19 and died of renal kidney failure (which had nothing to do with the food she ate) – she was at a great weight and in great health her entire life so I don’t know how bad that food was for. She was less fussy about dry so I feed her a higher quality. Because she was so fussy I free fed her dry and gave her a can of wet in the morning and a can of wet in the evening. She ate most of each feeding.

      The reason I give a small amount of dry cat food is so that there is something for the cat to nibble on during the day. I feed my cat about 1/4 the cat of wet in the morning and then 1/4 of the can of wet when I come home. She pretty much eats the whole thing of wet food in the morning and then nibbles a bit on the dry stuff during the day. If she eats it all then she doesn’t get any more. Then before bed time I give her another 1/4 of the wet to tide her overnight. I think it’s more important for them to eat more wet cat food to get sufficient water. (and it’s more mouse like lol)

      1. catsAreCool*

        I feed my cats canned Friskies and Fancy Feast and a high quality dry food (no grain). They seem to like both. I agree about the hunger strike – don’t want to let them go too long without food.

        With cats, water can be very important. It’s good to have water available for them at all times.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          That’s what Psycho Kitty gets—Taste of the Wild kibble in morning and a small amount at night with a small can of Fancy Feast. She sometimes leaves most of the kibble, and she’d practically do a backflip for wet food. I left it this way because it’s easier for the pet sitter to get her to come eat if she knows she’s getting it. She gets fresh water every day, and in winter I go out before bed and give her a drink.

          I tried Blue Buffalo canned food and she likes that, but it’s kind of expensive. I have to feed the grain-free kibble because the cheap crap makes her puke. I’ve been feeding the cheap crap to the damn strays out front so they’ll stop bullying her away from her expensive food. Stupid strays. I don’t want to feed them! >:(

      2. periwinkle*

        Good to know we’re not the only ones doing that. I’ve tried getting the cats to eat high-quality wet food but they practically run away from most of it. They’ll eat most of the Weruva (fish-heavy) flavors and occasionally a chicken version of a couple other brands. Otherwise they want Fancy Feast or Purina Pro Plan. OTOH they love their premium dry (Nature’s Variety Instinct Raw Boost).

        1. Hlyssande*

          I get the Nature’s Variety Instinct for my little goober too! He doesn’t like the raw boost version – he refuses to eat the freeze dried bits – so he’s currently getting the rabbit kibble from them. He goes days where he doesn’t want it, then other times he’ll have hoovered the entire bowl by the time it’s breakfast or dinner.

          He also loves the Weruva BFF packets (so much fish). I tried giving him Purina’s grain free canned for awhile, but he puked just about every day with it so that didn’t go so well. The BFF canned stuff does the same thing to him while the packets don’t – so weird.

      3. Dynamic Beige*

        I do something similar. I feed them Friskies because… budget. And then I buy this non-grain kibble that I give them occasionally, maybe once a week as a treat. They love carbs more than Oprah and if I only fed them kibble, they would be ecstatic. But my last guy ate kibble only and he developed diabetes, so wet food it is.

    3. schnapps*

      My cats only ever got Friskies (which is the equivalent of McDonalds). They refused to touch anything else. They lived to be 22, 16 and 20, respectively.

      The ones now get Friskies canned food, and Hills Science Diet (which is what they got at the SPCA). They seem to be particular only about the canned food.

      Also, they’ll eat when they’re hungry, generally, so unless she’s diabetic or has some issue where she needs to eat at certain times and in certain amounts, I’d just keep giving her food. Your job is to provide it; her job is to eat it.

      1. afiendishthingy*

        My parents have had many cats live very long healthy lives eating Meow Mix and Friskies wet food.

        1. GOG11*

          That’s what my 13 year old has eaten his whole life. The vet always compliments his coat and weight, and he attributed it to his diet. He also tends to hurl a whole lot less when he eats that combo. It works for him, so I go with it.

      2. OriginalEmma*

        My beloved childhood indoor/outdoor tuxedo lived until 18 years old on a diet of Friskies, Meow Mix and one memorable but short time, dog food (parents picked up the wrong stuff and the kibbles were ginormous, oops).

    4. Heather*

      The other thing I think is that cats get bored eating the same thing every day. I know people roll their eyes at me but my previous cat would not eat the same thing every day no way no how. So I had a 2 or 3 bags of the dry and I rotated what she was being fed. Same with the canned. She got a different flavour each meal.

      And same with my current cat.

      The vets “say” that this can cause stomach upset with the cat but I’ve never experienced that. Maybe some do but the two cats I’ve owned it’s never bothered. My mom’s cat however eats the same thing every meal every day and won’t try a different kind at all and won’t touch canned cat food at all.

      1. That a song, was as merry*

        Yep, mine eat around any wet food I try. OOH, they would sneak some of the dog’s wet food whenever possible(he was a nibbler).

      2. Elizabeth West*

        I buy the large packs of Fancy Feast with several flavors. That way, Kitty gets a variety even if her kibble is the same for a whole bag. She doesn’t seem to mind, nor does she mind when I switch back and forth between the two flavors Taste of the Wild kibble comes in (fish or venison).

    5. Amber Rose*

      If you can get some, Orijen or Acana (dry) are very healthy, and cats seem to find them tasty too. I had a sample in a small bag and my cat shredded the bag to eat it.

      Much like people, cats like the taste of unhealthy over healthy. But some healthy cat foods taste good. It’s worth experimenting with.

      I don’t like the all wet food diets. It’s not good for their teeth. But they should get some for the hydration. I haven’t had to worry about that with my cat. He’ll drink anything I’ve touched. He chases me after I shower so he can lick my legs. =P

      1. Sparky*

        A good pet supply place should have a few samples of quality food. If you can get a few of these, put them out and see if your cat likes any of them. It might be good to put the sample bag under the bowl, otherwise it’s easy to get confused about which sample is which. If she likes one or more of these I would try very gradually mixing some into the dry food and slowly increasing the amount of the good stuff.

      2. abby*

        It is a myth that dry food is better for cats’ teeth. One still pushed by dry pet food manufacturers. Will add a link in the next post. The article is written by a feline veterinarian and she provides a list of references.

    6. Today's Satan*

      We feed our cats a mixture of un-rehydrated freeze-dried raw (several different brands) and canned (Wellness and Max Cat). We have five cats, and put out eight bowls that each contain a different kind of food (3 canned and five freeze-dried raw).

    7. Sparrow*

      I actually switched over to Sheba wet food based on this site – it’s grain free, etc. Curious what their reasoning is for it not being healthy.

      Anyway, I would try buying individusl cans/flavors of other brands to see what she likes.

      My cats get a limited amount of dry food, but their primary food is wet. They get it in the morning and evening mixed in with water. One of my cats will only eat wet food if I sprinkle a little dry on top.

      I would suggest continuing to feed her what she likes while experimenting with other brands.

      Also, not sure if this is true but I’ve heard giving cats some dry food can be good for their teeth.

    8. edj3*

      So we feed our three dry kibble on demand (Science Diet) and once a day, we split a can of Fancy Feast Gravy Lovers three ways and stir in about the same amount of canned pumpkin.

      We do this because the pumpkin supplies water they need (cats in the wild get the majority of their water from prey, not from drinking), and because one of our cats was getting clogged anal glands. So the pumpkin also provides fiber to hurry things along and keep those glands clear.

      What’s crazy is they LOVE the pumpkin and will eat every bit of it and the gravy while leaving some of the canned food chunks sitting in the bowl.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        UGH! There is nothing worse than clogged anal glands. My vet recommended the pumpkin trick & offered to teach me how to express them to save myself some money. I told her under no circumstances was I doing that.

        1. edj3*

          I have a friend who breeds champion Alaskan Malamute and another friend who was a vet tech–both suggested the pumpkin and said if the cats liked it, it would be an easy, low tech solution.

          And it’s worked–my big fat Eddie boy hasn’t had any clogged anal glands since then. He is a very large cat, 18 pounds and not exactly fat, just big and strong. So no, I couldn’t have expressed his glands even if I’d wanted too.

          Now we just call him (and the other two) pumpkin butts :)

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            Do you mix it up in their wet food or just dump a lump — how much? A tablespoon? — next to their food? My boy, I don’t know if it’s anal glands or what but sometimes after he’s been in the CrapStar (I have a LitterRobot) SBJ the smell! I’ll yell at him “what crawled up your arse and died?!” it’s so foul. Pumpkin sounds natural and if it’s good for them, why not?

            1. edj3*

              At first, we were both so very very careful to mix the pumpkin in so everything was thoroughly blended. Then my husband got tired of that so one day, he plopped their portions on top of their canned food–and they ate it all anyway. So we just dump it on top of the food.

              As far as portions go, I tend to give them at least as much pumpkin as the canned food, so roughly a 1:1 ratio. I do put more on Eddie’s food (he’s the one with the issue). My husband uses less, probably 3/4 pumpkin to 1 part canned food.

              Oh and the poo still stinks but it moves a lot faster and that’s what helps clear out the glands.

          2. That a song, was as merry*

            One of my cats had problems with the anal glands, too; I found that brushing up the back of his legs caused him to…er…squirt the glands. (UGH, soooo stinky!!) Be sure to have a baby wipe or something to clean up!

            1. edj3*

              We tried to express them ourselves but they were hard as granite acorns because they’d gotten so badly impacted and then infected. The first time it happened, one ruptured and the treatment was pretty traumatizing for our boy. He had to wear the donut ring of shame so he wouldn’t lick the wound while it healed, and boy was he depressed. And his litter mate Wally hissed and hissed at him until we could take the donut ring off him, nearly two weeks later. That was not fun.

            2. Windchime*

              So this is kind of a gross conversation. My cat has been to the vet three times now with impacted/infected anal glands. He’s now getting 1/8 tsp unflavored Metamucil sprinkled on top of his wet food each day. The pumpkin sounds like it would be easier (and probably tastier).

    9. Sibley*

      First, I think your vet was being a bit harsh. Purina is not the worst option out there. Mine eat Purina One and my vet is fine with it, no idea about the Naturals. Just remember, cats are carnivores. Not sure about the Sheba, it’s not really available where I am. Wet food is important, because cats tend to not drink water, which is hard on their bodies. Kidney problems are common in older cats as a result (including mine actually).

      Second, you probably tried to switch too fast. One of my cats, I can switch in a few days. The other takes about a month to completely switch, maybe 2 weeks if she really likes the new food. Mix 90% old with 10% new, try for a few days. If that’s accepted, try upping the new a little, etc. Given that Purina isn’t a terrible option, I’d probably just stick with it.

      Third – some domestic cats will actually not eat long enough to cause other problems. Not all will, but it’s not necessarily true that they’ll eat if they get hungry enough. The transition process is important because of this!

      1. Sparky*

        I ass some water to my cats wet food because they don’t drink much water. They still like their wet food.

    10. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Shelters tend to feed A) what’s cheap and they have on hand or B) what the cat will eat. If those overlap, great! (Shelter cats not eating is all too common, and if it means kitty McD’s until they’re adopted, then so be it.)

      If you can get her switched onto something healthier, great, but it’s not worth a hunger strike. The concern with truly finicky cats being that if eventually they *need* a diet change, being too fixated on one food could be detrimental. But even then, it’s still generally better that they eat something than nothing (there are probably some foods with ingredients that would make a medical condition worse, but that’s something to discuss with your vet, and if they’re a good vet, they’ll help you navigate that).

      1. abby*

        Agree, and I would try to get my cat on a small variety of foods (brands and flavors) for this reason. My male cat, who has the intestinal issues, has surprising variety considering his restrictions.

    11. Marcela*

      Another thing you should consider is that your cat still could be in the middle of adjustment to her new home. We are almost in the same situation: we adopted a cat last November, when he was 2 and a half years old. Trying to get him to trust us, we gave him Whiskas Temptations the first night. Huge mistake. The first two months he refused to eat anything else. And by refusing, I mean he could starve himself all day, and of course we gave up every night, knowing how dangerous it was for him not to eat. Once we counted the bags, and we had 21 different brands, flavors and textures of food that he didn’t even tried. He didn’t like ham, raw meat or chicken, or anything.

      Finally we managed to find he liked Trader Joe’s tuna for cats. And we have realized that at the same time he is getting used to us and our home, and to consider us his family, he is eating more and more different stuff. A couple of nights ago we discovered he now likes oven roasted turkey ham; before he would only eat smoked turkey ham. And now he is complementing the wet food (tuna) with Purina CatShow Indoor; before he would not even look at it.

      Our vet told us to give him time to the huge change that was coming with us. We were to try to give him the good food we wanted, wet tuna, but if he refused to eat it, offer him a small quantity of the other food. Very, very slowly, I’m not going to lie to you, it’s working. And the 3 of us are very happy because now, sometimes, you can have moments of silence, not the full musical meow background of hunger and anger we had before.

    12. Clever Name*

      So was the next sentence out of the vet’s mouth about how he could sell you a healthy cat food? Honestly, the comment about the food being junk food seems unnecessarily judgemental. But then again, my cats get purina one and friskies/fancy feast/ some random brand with luv in the name.

    13. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Huh, my understanding is that Sheba is pretty high quality (grain-free, etc.) and a notch above the typical grocery store brands. I’d be interested in knowing more about that if you have more info!

      1. Kirsten*

        I thought it was okay too but the vet tech told me that Friskies was better than Sheba. The actual vet said nothing about her food and her exam showed that she was really healthy so this could have been an instance where the tech just personally doesn’t like it. I tried googling it and got very mixed responses.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          My thinking is that there are cats who eat nothing but Purina and live to be 20. Four of our five cats were strays, and they were eating all manner of insects, rodents, and trash from people’s garbage cans before we took them in. If Purina is what you can afford, it’s probably fine.

          We do feed our cats an expensive food, but it’s because one of them has allergies.

    14. abby*

      I don’t know that Sheba is necessarily unhealthy as part of a rotated diet. I am posting the ingredients from the turkey pate, which is one way to evaluate a cat food.

      Turkey, Turkey Broth, Meat By-Products, Chicken, Chicken Liver, Poultry By-Products, Natural Flavor, Minerals (Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Iron Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Copper Sulfate), Guar Gum, Added Color, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Fish Oil (Preserved with Mixed Tocopherols), Vitamins (Choline Chloride, Thiamine Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Vitamin E Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride [Vitamin B6], Vitamin D3 Supplement, Folic Acid, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex [Source of Vitamin K Activity]), DL-Methionine, Salt, Taurine.

      Some people might object to the “meat by-products” and “poultry by-products. The fact is, in the wild a cat will eat all of that stuff. But at issue here is the fact that the meat and poultry is unspecified. If your cat has any kind of protein allergy, you cannot feed this because you don’t know what protein is in this food. Other potential ingredient issues could include “natural flavors” (what are they??) and “guar gum”, which is a thickener that causes intestinal issues in some people and animals. The final questionable ingredient is “Menadione Sodium Bisulfite”. This is most concerning, in my opinion. It is controversial because it is a synthetic form of Vitamin K that is linked with severe side effects and has been banned from human supplements by the FDA.

      If my cat could tolerate chicken and guar gum, I might consider Sheba in rotation with other foods. But because of the menadione, I would not feed this as the only food. It is low enough on the list of ingredients that it is likely not highly concentrated, but I would not want my cat consuming this substance every day. I made this mistake with carrageenan, and now I fear my cat has irreversible intestinal damage that we can manage only with a very controlled diet.

      Regarding dry, I think it’s good you ditched the dry food, though, as cats do need to get most of their hydration from food. They have naturally low thirst drives and chronic dehydration can cause all kinds of health problems. I think you can continue to give her a tiny bit of dry food as a snack, but I wouldn’t feed even feed half dry.

      So how to transition your cat. First, do not let her starve. Cat will not eventually eat. Cat may go into liver failure if they don’t eat. So make sure she eats. Second, you see she is somewhat picky, so transition slowly. Add just a bit of some other food to the Sheba and mix it well. Keep upping the other food little by little and mix well. It could take a month. Also try lots of other brands. Buy one can of a variety of brands and flavors and see what she likes.

      Good luck.

  7. The Clear Air Turbulence*

    A slight peeve: flying home last night, it seems that Delta now wants $50 to allow one to switch to an earlier flight to the same destination.

    I’ll often schedule (for instance) a 6:30pm flight home even though there might be a 5pm flight home, because leaving the work site I’m visiting early is not always an option. But sometimes in the past I’ve ended up leaving early, and so I’d go get my ticket changed to the 5pm flight. If the flight wasn’t full up, they’ve been happy to do it for me.

    But last night: they wanted $50. *rolls eyes*

    On the bright side, they upgraded me to TSA Pre so I didn’t have to take my shoes off or unpack any of my computers or opt out of the porno-scan to get through security. I don’t know if this was random or because somebody put a note in my file that I’m obviously not a terrorist, or what.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Hahahah, I call it the Nude-O-Scope. I said that at LAX the first time I ever went through it–“Ooh, my first Nude-O-Scope!” and the TSA people were laughing but trying to hide it. :)

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I HATE low cost airlines that charge customers for every little thing!

      There’s an Irish airline called Ryanair that wanted to charge people £5.00 to use an airport wheelchair if theirs needed to be checked in, the EU courts said Erm no you can’t do that, it’s disability discrimination so the guy who runs the airline said well I’ll charge an extra 50 pence on every ticket as a wheelchair surcharge, if I’m charging everyone it’s not discrimination.

      1. Random CPA*

        Yes! I just booked a flight that charges $12 per ticket to select seats and $30 per carry on (yes! Carry on!). Since I’m traveling with kids I wanted to make sure we could sit together. On a different airline I saw a mom struggle pre-flight in that situation when she was not put next to her kids. The flight attendant had a hard time getting people to change seats to accommodate her (if I were flying alone I would have offered, but I had one of my kids with me).

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          What airline is thet? even the shitty ones I use have pre boarding for families and the disabled, for free and theres speedy boarding you can pay extra for to get on the flight first.

          1. The Cosmic Avenger*

            If it’s not Ryanair it’s probably Spirit. They’re both in a race to the bottom.

            And as for the 50 cent surcharge, THAT’S THE WAY IT’S SUPPOSED TO WORK. You’re supposed to charge enough to each customer to cover all of the operating costs, including the cost of providing actual assistance to customers who really need it.

            1. Apollo Warbucks*

              I just find it obnoxious and penny pinching, not to mention profiteering he’d have made monly from the charge which isn’t right. It’s a big enough operation he can just eat the cost with out going broke.

              They also wanted to charge people £1 to use the toilet on flights!

              1. The Cosmic Avenger*

                That was what I meant…if he can’t afford to provide basic service to all customers, he needs to raise all the prices enough so that all customers can access his services.

            2. Honeybee*

              Ugh, Spirit. Spirit is the absolute worst. There is barely any legroom in those seats, and I am only 5’2″!

        2. Windchime*

          I can understand charging for a carry on. So many people are refusing to pay to check a bag that now it takes 45 minutes to board a flight because everyone is trying to cram their overstuffed “carry on” suitcases in the overhead bins. And lots of people have learned that they will just get to check their bag for free if they bring it to the gate (instead of paying to check it like the rest of us). So it kind of makes sense to me that some airlines might charge for it.

          1. Honeybee*

            People are refusing to check a bag because airlines charge you to check now, particularly taking advantage of the no liquids rule. If airlines went back to not charging for checked bags (and just included the costs in the cost of their tickets) they would get fewer people trying to bring their carry-ons.

            Also I’ve noticed that carry-on compartments in planes have gotten somewhat smaller, so that bags that traditionally would’ve fit don’t anymore. And one plane I flew on recently was one of those regional connection jets – the carry-on compartment was barely big enough for my book bag, which was not overstuffed.

            Personally, I have given up and I just pay to check a bag unless I’m going to be gone for 3 days or less.

      2. Noah*

        So I shouldn’t admit that I work for one of the airlines here in the US that charges for everything? You get a randomly assigned seat and a personal item for your base fare and that’s it. We do automatically seat kids under 15 with an adult on the same itinerary though. The fares are also drastically lower than the legacy carriers (Delta, United, American, and Southwest).

        I will freely admit the experience is not for everyone though. If you are traveling on business or expect any amenities besides a seat from point a to point b we are not the airline for you. If you’re going to Disney World with your kids or weekend in Vegas with friends we are perfect. If you’re looking for a cheap, non-stop flight we are usually the only game in town.

        1. Kaiser Soze*

          If this is Spirit…I love Spirit! No one can recline their seat back into me. No one can drink stupid sodas full of sugar. No one can bring a coffin size roller bag on and try to cram in overhead bin. What is wrong with people??????

        2. Elizabeth West*

          If it’s Allegiant, I liked the flight I took, but when they started charging for all carry-ons, I noped the hell on out. I’m not paying to check a bag AND for my small backpack that fits under the seat of even the tiny AA puddle-jumpers.

          1. Noah*

            On Allegiant, Spirit, or Frontier, a backpack small enough to fit under the seat in front of you is a personal item and would be free. You just can’t have both a purse and backpack because you are only allowed one personal item. Stick your purse inside your backpack and your fine to board.

            I’m not really willing to reveal which one of the three I work for here.

        3. Honeybee*

          To be fair, Spirit at least has started advertising their base airline ticket price as a “bare fare” that is “customizable” with additional options. The base price is for you and one personal item, and then you can “add options” of a carry-on or checked baggage. It’s a budget-priced option and you know that going in if you book with them (at least now. I didn’t the first time I booked a flight with Spirit, because I booked it through Kayak and not the website.)

          That said, I don’t really find the low-cost airlines all that low-cost compared to other airlines with better service. For example, for a 1-stop round-trip flight from New York to Atlanta in early November, Spirit would charge me $343 inclusive of taxes and fees. I could get a non-stop flight on a mainstream airline like Delta or American for way cheaper – a quick search on Kayak turned up some flights from NYC to ATL for the same dates for $167 round-trip.

          A non-stop Spirit flight from Philadelphia was way cheaper – $111. However, American Airlines offers the same route for around $150. If you add the carry-on to the Spirit flight that brings the cost to $137, which makes it only $13 cheaper than the AA flight.

          I guess it depends on where you’re flying from and when.

      3. Bea W*

        It’s not just the low-cost airlines anymore. All of the major carriers nickle and dime for checking your luggage, snacks, headsets, movies, and even where you sit even though all the seats are the same. Don’t want to sit in the way back or in the middle? That will be $9 for the same crappy seat but in a different location.

        1. Honeybee*

          Delta does definitely charge you for checking luggage, but they don’t charge you for selecting your own seats, headsets, movies, or basic snacks (cookies or pretzels and juice/soda/water). I just flew on Delta recently and they had a huge free selection of movies and TV shows with which to entertain yourself, which is great because 5 hours on an airplane is kind of miserable otherwise. I also chose our own seats; you can’t sit in an exit row or economy plus without paying extra, but the coach seats are all fair game. I think they charge to you change your seat once you’ve picked it.

        1. kelseywanderer*

          I don’t think they operate in the US yet, but in the region where I currently live, a fairly new budget called flydubai offers great daily, low-price flights to a lot of lesser-served destinations (including my city). I think you have to pay in order to check a bag that’s beyond a certain weight limit, and you have to buy drinks and snacks on board (if you want them) as well as to use in-flight entertainment. But they’re supposedly able to offer cheaper tickets by making all those services pay-to-play. And since I’m usually going somewhere nearby, I just bring a carry-on and don’t buy anything, which does allow me to save money on my R&Rs. Gotta love the budget airlines if you’re willing to do without (or with less)!

          1. Elizabeth West*

            For short flights, that’s totally worth it, but for flying cross-country in the US, you’re talking several hours in the air. I’d rather be more comfortable.

    2. Stephanie*

      Blah Delta. Their SkyMiles are a headache to redeem as well. As part of my aunt’s estate, we inherited all of her SkyMiles. Thing is, Delta makes it a headache to redeem them (unfavorable demand pricing, etc) and I don’t live near a Delta hub (well, SLC is a quick connection) that it’s almost just worth it to buy a ticket on a competing airline and get a direct flight.

    3. Traveler*

      Most airports I’ve visited recently are randomly letting people skip the nonsense that is the TSA check. I’ve seen where it was randomized (you touch a computer screen and it tells you which fate you get) and where it seemed to be a person picking (though this was earlier on – in what might have been a test phase).

    4. Bea W*

      How sad is it that I thought “Damn! $50 for a change is super cheap!” I can’t remember the last time I was able to change without being charged. I think they will even charge for stand-by now. It used to be you’d get charged to change your ticket for a guaranteed seat, but probably not if you flew stand-by (not guaranteed). When I traveled frequently for work, just about everyone did this if they got done early enough. They wouldn’t actually change the ticket, they would go straight to the airport and get on the stand-by list, because work would totally not pay for a change unless it was absolutely necessary.

    5. Sarah*

      Usually, TSA Pre is just random selection. You can also apply for the Global Entry program- there’s a short interview, they fingerprint you, and (of course) a $100 fee and then you almost always get TSA Pre as well as skipping customs and security screening on reentry to the US from international flights. It’s really useful if you travel a lot for work.

  8. Beth Anne*

    What do you think about his and hers wedding showers? I went to one earlier this year and just got invited to another one that is next month. I feel showers in general aren’t that fun..unless you are the host or SUPER close to the bride. EX. My sister got married 2 years ago and it was a lot of fun to come up with ideas and throw her a bridal shower. Maybe it’s just the introvert in me and also because I knew everyone there vs acquaintances where I don’t know people that well.

    ANYWAY..the one I went to earlier this year just seemed awkward. The guys the came had no idea what they were buying…and it kind of showed that they really didn’t want to be there. I can say this next one was smart and said to buy tools or kitchen stuff. Also my boyfriend doesn’t want to come because he thinks it’s stupid. LOL

    1. over educated and underemployed*

      I am kind of anti wedding showers in general. (As you might guess, I did not have one.) Most people marrying are not just moving out of their parents’ houses and in need of the basics of adult life nowadays, so the purpose is gone, it’s just another party with more gift obligations (often, upgrades).

        1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

          It seems like the people holding on are those who like to give gifts (regardless of what was on wish lists) and the wedding retail industry. I think my sister-in law and mom are still plotting to have one for us despite the husbeast and I being minimalists. It seems like they want it for show. If we have not entertained in seven years, we won’t suddenly start. And we don’t care if our bowls were color coded.

          1. Honeybee*

            Well, I like to give gifts but I’m not a huge fan of showers and all of the other ever-expanded pre-wedding parties that are showing up these days. Then again, I’m the type of person who will just randomly give someone something if I see something I want to buy for them, special occasion not necessary. (An offshoot of growing up a Jehovah’s Witness.)

      1. hermit crab*

        I didn’t have one either. Though my friend had a fantastic shower-slash-bachelorette-party where a whole bunch of us all stayed overnight in a rental house near a national park and ate/drank a lot and also gave her presents, and that was really fun.

        The concept of a his/hers shower mostly just sounds like an awkward gift-grab.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I feel that if you’re going to have a shower, you shouldn’t pretend that women are the only ones who get married. I don’t particularly like showers, but I prefer them to be co-ed. (That being said, I’ve been to traditional Polish-American showers where the bride and groom are both the guests of honor, but other men aren’t invited. Very uncomfortable for the groom, but they tend to have great food! We aren’t a finger sandwich kind of ethnicity…)

      2. BRR*

        Even when somebody else throws you one I feel like like its a present grab. weddings are already expensive.

        1. Natalie*

          They’re supposed to be. In traditional Western etiquette, a shower (wedding or baby) is the only socially acceptable party in which gift giving is the explicit and only purpose.

    2. Sonya Mann*

      In general, I think throwing a party for yourself where other people are required to give you gifts is obnoxious. (Birthday parties are fine because adults aren’t expect to give presents unless they’re close.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          They probably definitely don’t need a shower then–they have everything they need already! The whole tradition was to outfit young couples for their first home. Nowadays, many people get married later, and they already have dishes, towels, etc. It’s just a huge gift grab.

          Which reminds me, I didn’t get a gift for the person whose wedding I have to go to next weekend. Errggh. And I can’t find where they were registered. Oh well.

          I’m going to stop going, I think. This will be the last one. No more.

          1. Honeybee*

            Checks are the all-purpose gift. I don’t even feel bad writing checks for gifts anymore, particularly people I am not really close to. Although I am kind of annoyed at the proliferation of people who actually include on their invitation that they prefer checks, including my brother and his fiancee for their upcoming wedding. Ugh.

      1. Beth Anne*

        My boyfriends family has Sunday dinners for birthdays some people bring gifts but his mom said I don’t have to otherwise I’ll go broke. LOL

      2. Former Diet Coke Addict*

        Traditionally, a bridal shower is thrown by friends, never by the bride or her family–because it’s obnoxious to throw a gift-centric party for yourself. This tradition is going by the wayside a bit, and I dislike showers of every kind myself, but the tradition is that it’s not thrown by the gift recipient.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          It shouldn’t be thrown by a family member (unless it’s a family shower, and then a more distant relative can throw it), because then it’s like you’re begging for your immediate family.

      3. TootsNYC*

        They’re not supposed to be thrown by the bride & groom!!

        They’re supposed to be thrown by an aunt, a close friend, or the MOB’s close friend.

        and ideally they should ONLY have as guests the people who are -so close to you- that they’d never miss giving you a birthday present, or you can be sure they’d really like the chance to give two gifts.
        Most of us don’t have that many friends or relatives who are that close.

        However, my ILs’ family treats them like a fundraiser.

    3. Not So Sunny*

      We were taught as kids that only a friend, sister or cousin should throw the shower — otherwise, the bride/mom of bride is just asking outright for gifts.

    4. Amber Rose*

      I didn’t know there were supposed to be gifts. My shower was just us getting drunk at the pub. =P

    5. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’ve never been to a his-and-hers shower, but one of my coworkers got married this summer and had not only a bridal shower, but a bachelorette party, a “nail party” (which I think she made up as an excuse to wear a “Bride” sash to the salon with her bridesmaids), a jack-and-jill party (Ontario pre-wedding party where the couple charges admission to a pub/hall for the night, sells cheap booze and snacks, sells raffle tickets, and invites a ton of people in an effort to defray the costs of the wedding–usually seen in small communities–yes, tacky as hell) AND an engagement party featuring a “Bling Bling She Got The Ring” cake. She had debated holding a “present-opening party” after the wedding but opted not to. It was….overkill, to say the very least.

      1. BRR*

        Wow. I have no idea who this person is but I’m surprised I didn’t end up being invited to one of the events just because there were so many.

      2. Goliath Gary Willikers*

        >“Bling Bling She Got The Ring” cake


        So that’s what you get when you feel a penis cake would just be too refined and subtle.

    6. E*

      I’m surprised by all of the negative feedback about this – his and hers showers sound fine to me (though I’ve never been to one). Someone else throws the party on their behalf, the couple shows up, invites friends/family of both genders. It’s not a traditional shower, but if that’s what they want, who cares?

      1. Honeybee*

        I think it’s because bridal showers were originally supposed to be intimate affairs for the women in a bride’s close social circle to give her some lingerie and girly gifts and chat/trade stories about married life. Not a huge fan of the gender essentialism, and it’s still a gift grab, but the gifts are supposed to be different in theme/nature from the wedding gifts.

        A joint couple shower tends to be larger, and honestly just seems like the opportunity for double presents. I have some friends who’ve done the wedding shower and they got the same types of gifts, from the same registries, as they got for their wedding. (I resisted and gave them a more traditional shower-type gift, but at least it was one that could be used by both of them – it was a honeymoon kit.)

        1. E*

          Yeah to me it seems like an odd place to draw the line – people are fine getting two gifts if one of them is lingerie/something typically bridal-showery, but aren’t fine if the gift is something else? In the end you’re still buying two gifts.

        2. ThursdaysGeek*

          I got married over 30 years ago, but I told my best friends they couldn’t have a shower for me unless they also invited guys (and my future husband). We didn’t have a registry and got cool presents like a toilet plunger and a shovel. I didn’t want anything intimate, and I wasn’t trying to get extra gifts. The main reason was so they couldn’t do those horrible girly shower games!

    7. Kate M*

      I’m of two minds on this. One the one hand, I don’t really understand the point of showers in the first place. You’re not supposed to invite people to the shower who aren’t invited to the wedding. And most people know that you buy a wedding gift anyway (and either ship it to the couple beforehand or bring it to the wedding). So it just seems like…you’re asking people already planning on getting you gifts to get you an extra one? Or people just buy one for the shower and have that be their gift for the whole shebang. Which, fine, but I just don’t get the point of showers altogether.

      That being said, if you are having a shower, I’m totally fine with the trend of having it be more couple-centric rather than bride-centric. I kind of hate the idea that it’s the bride’s duty to “set up house” and that she’s the only one who would be interested in house things. Plus when you add in same-sex marriages now, it just makes more sense to me.

      1. TootsNYC*

        The point of showers originally was that the women who were closest of all to the bride would gather to have some time to focus on her, and spend with her. And they’d give her an intimate present just for her (not a wedding present).

        They’ve just gotten out of control.

        1. Perpetua*

          This is why I enjoyed the bridal shower I went to recently. 16 of us gathered for a weekend at the seaside, and although there was a big party on Saturday, the main point of the whole weekend seemed to be giving our support to her as friends, marking this transition into something new. Now, 16 women in one place is a lot, and some of us had never met before that weekend, but it turned out pretty great and the atmosphere was just so positive and supportive, I kept thinking “wow, so THIS is what bridal showers are about”. We got her a bunch of little gifts and lingerie as the main present (that seems to be the tradition, I wasn’t a fan of getting her something so intimate, but she seemed to be happy about it).

          1. Chocolate Teapot*

            Wedding (and Baby) showers are not a UK or European thing really, but I suppose with so many American films and TV shows in which they feature, they are becoming more common over here.

        2. Kate M*

          The original point was to increase or help out a bride’s dowry, not necessarily just intimate gifts for her. It may have evolved to be that in later years. But in the time period you’re talking about, weddings were also traditionally open to anyone, held in a church with the reception in the fellowship hall with punch and cake. There weren’t really invites in today’s sense (a lot of times it was just announced in church), so it was more open to who gave gifts and who didn’t. Today, most weddings have a stricter invite list, which means that nobody outside of that list should be invited to a shower. Which negates the point to me.

          I mean I’m sure if I ever get married, someone in my traditional southern extended family or social group will want to throw a shower. It’s just what’s done, and I get that. I would probably push back a little, but if they really wanted to do it, whatever. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find them an etiquette minefield and kind of pointless and awkward.

    8. Honeybee*

      Meh. I was involved with a wedding last year where the bride and groom wanted to do everything together. They had a “wedding shower” instead of a bridal shower, so instead of a girls’ day with lingerie and stuff they got more kitchen appliances and pots and pans and stuff. So…basically guests were expected to buy two gifts (one for the wedding, one for the shower).

      Then they had a joint bachelor/bachelorette party…sort of. They started out separate – the women did something with the bride, the men did something with the groom, and then we met up later in the day at a bar/club. It was weird because it’s supposed to be a celebration of your “last single night”, so to speak, but…they weren’t separated. It was a huge pain in the ass because we had to coordinate the schedules of double the people. It was also awkward because part of the reason the bride wanted it that way was to prevent the men from doing the more “traditional” bachelor party events…which they did anyway, before the meet-up. (As far as I know, the bride is still not aware of that, but my husband was with the men and he told me).

  9. schnapps*

    I was canning a batch of beef stock and my power just went out. No ETA for it going back on. Any canners out there?

    Anyone know how long it’s safe to keep the jarred beef stock in the canner before I pressure can it? I was just bleeding the steam prior to putting on the weight (no pressure in the canner). I can hear them pinging already in the canner too. will I have to reopen them before canning them?

    1. Beezus*

      It’s safe to leave food out on the table for a couple of hours, so I’d say it’s safe in the canner at least that long. If it winds up being a lot longer, I’d go grab some ice and put the jars in a cooler until the power comes back on. (I’d say put them in the fridge for any other problem, but you don’t want to leave that open or put new warm food into it now.)

      You don’t need to reopen them before running them again.

      1. The Cosmic Avenger*

        Yes, but food left out on the table doesn’t have to be sterile. Canned food does, so that it can stay at room temperature for months on end without spoiling.

        Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about canning to know if it’s safe, just that the standard has to be a lot higher than for refrigerated food that will be eaten or re-refrigerated eventually.

    2. schnapps*

      Ok, so the power is back on. Recommencing canning. For the third time (the power came back on shortly after I posted, long enough to start pressurizing, and then went out again).

      Huge windstorm here – some 200K houses without power. I suspect we’re one of the lucky ones – I think we’re in a place where the grids overlap a bit.

        1. schnapps*

          Well, I suppose if I had a gas stove, it would have been ok. :) I toyed with the idea of using the gas burner on the bbq for it, but it was too windy and I don’t think I would have gotten enough heat.

          But it’s done now! Yay! Husband-type is all happy because it means I can put the damn canners and jars away for a bit :)

          1. Meg Murry*

            Probably too late for you to read this, but if anyone else reads this thread – that is how we can. We got a burner for one of the turkey fryers that was all the rage a few years ago at a garage sale, and we hook it up to the propane tank on the grill. We usually do the food prep indoors, just the pressure canning part outside – so it still gets hot in our house, but not quite as miserably steamy hot. And our grill and canning burner are right next to our exterior door to the basement, so we can just carry the cans down that way to store, instead of back through the house.

      1. Windchime*

        I think I live in the same region as you. Fortunately mine was only out for two hours. My sister lost hers for 16 hours and my son for 8. Very inconvenient!

        1. schnapps*

          Still lots of power out – almost 200K people still and some not expected to be back on until 8pm tonight.

          I am in Metro Vancouver as if you haven’t guessed :)

    3. Tiffy the Fed... Contractor*

      Same thing happened to me this weekend. I was in the middle of canning peaches when the power went out. I had blanched about 20 peaches, and just had to freeze them. It was a little annoying…

  10. nep*

    Yesterday I finally signed on the dotted line and shelled out some $ for a series of sessions w a trainer to learn some Olympic lifting techniques. Something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.
    Last night, then after work today, cannot stop watching women’s Olympic weightlifting competition. Fascinating.

      1. nep*

        Love being strong. Love the idea not just of lifting heavy weights, but with speed as with the Olympic lifts. Certainly something one doesn’t want to delve into without learning proper form though.

    1. fposte*

      So cool! I love hearing about your athletic exploits. Please let us know how it goes.

      I was checking out info on deadlifts, because I want to get my back stronger following the surgery; whenever I looked at post-surgery lifting, I found people who were either lifting fine or who were lamenting they could only lift 150 now. Given that I’m thinking about lifting cans of beans, I figure I’m probably good to go :-).

        1. nep*

          Yes. Love deadlifts. I dig how my glutes and hamstrings feel the following day or two. Great stuff.

          1. OriginalEmma*

            Deadlifts make me feel bad*ss in a way no other lift does. I think it’s the hip-driven pull through and the final stance. You look *and feel* powerful in that pose. DLs are my favorite!

        2. fposte*

          I’m also a big fan of pushups, because I can do them at work no matter what I’m wearing. (Might not work in a tight tailored blazer, but I don’t really wear those.)

          1. Elizabeth West*

            I was doing pushups on the windowsill after stair climbs at work, but I had to quit because they were KILLING my shoulder. I’m back on the PT regimen for that. :P

    2. Canadian Natasha*

      If you are interested, there’s a female weightlifter’s blog I’ve casually followed for a while called PrettyStrong. (Google it and it’s the blogspot one.)

    3. OriginalEmma*

      That is awesome. I briefly O-lifted at a gym with the facilities for it and the gym owner did Saturday morning training for free/fun. I enjoyed it so much! I’m much more proficient (if you can say that as a newb) at the clean and jerk than the snatch (can’t get the mechanics down – dropping low while throwing your arms up!).

      Women’s O-lifts at the Olympics are my favorite. Did you see Holly Mangold in the 2012 Olympics? She pulled with a torn wrist tendon! She showed the utmost in sportsmanship and restraint while lifting, then when she ducked behind the curtain, the poor thing curled up in pain around her wrist.

  11. Tigress*

    I’m about to move back to my home country after living several years in the U.S. I am looking forward to it – but I’m also concerned about some of the political and attitudinal changes back home. Just over the past few years, a horrible party that’s basically racists disguised in nice suits (the members have extensive backgrounds as outspoken racists and many have committed violent crimes) have gained at first access and later more and more power in our Parliament. I am seeing people I know and like post opinions and links to articles with a vibe that I am really not comfortable with. The media has increasingly been normalizing the (at first subtle, but now increasingly open) racist attitudes in the country, primarily aimed at immigrants from Muslim countries. I’m heartbroken by this because my country has always been known for freedom and acceptance, and this new direction is really scary. I was wondering if any of you have any advice for how I should best handle this when I come home? I know that sooner or later I will hear a friend or family member say something that I’d like to respond to by shouting and screaming, but that will have the opposite effect. What is a good way to get into the conversations and REACH people? I know that simply calling them idiots (which is my immediate instinct) won’t help change this. Any advice is greatly appreciated! This has been on my mind for a while.

    1. nep*

      I know some people with attitudes like that where I live (toward immigrants and particularly Muslims) and as I see it, they simply will not be reached by any message of tolerance, fraternity, unity. Don’t get frustrated if / when you’re not able to nudge people’s thinking in another direction. Just live your convictions and be an example. And from time to time you might be handed opportunities to help change someone’s perspective. But you’re right — shouting and screaming will just make most bigots dig in their heels.
      All the best to you with this new phase.

      1. nep*

        P.S. You could look into organisations that are working to foster tolerance and understanding — it could give you an outlet for your frustration over this and allow you to work with others toward the society you’d like to see.

        1. AcidMeFlux*

          Yes. Organization like this can help you educate yourself on the facts involved (no, X ethnic group does not consume 49% or social services, is not responsible for 66% of violent crime, etc.) Certainly you won’t be able to use this knowledge to sway the most pig-headed racist true believers, but you may be able to convince some people from really going off the deep end, or not voting for the suckers. It could also be a good way to ease your re-entry into your homeland (which can be rocky no matter where it is) and make some friends. Even if you don’t have a lot of time, do it. NGOs need all the help they can get.

          1. AcidMeFlux*

            I have a friend in the UK whose job gives him access to a lot of government data. He was able to sway some older, less informed neighbors and family members from blindly following UKIP by showing statistics on crime, taxes and social services broken down by small geographical areas (which is pretty much an indicator of ethnic background in many cases). It’s worth a try.

            1. Steve G*

              Right…but there is also the very popular school of thought that a country’s immigration policy should be geared towards admitting only people who are more educated, commit no crime, and use much less social services than the local population, so showing people “look we all commit the same amount of crime” doesn’t really change their views on things. The stats would need to show that the immigrant group meets or exceeds the locals in whatever criteria. You can’t change the people who are already here, but you can control who you let in.

              1. AcidMeFlux*

                Very popular and very poorly thought out school of thought. Let’s admit only people who commit no crime? And who are these special people? And the fact that natives and immigrants have the same levels of delinquency IS a factor in determining immigration quotas.

                1. steve g*

                  It’s a bad immigration policy to only let non criminals in? I don’t get that logic. Citizenship is a privilege not a right

                2. AcidMeFlux*

                  Steve, if citizenship were really a privilege, you’d have to requalify for it after being born here. Say, after high school, or college, or your first 5 years of working.

              2. TheLazyB (UK)*

                I think the more pertinent point in the UK is that if all our immigrants upped and left the country would fall apart within about ten minutes.

        2. Tigress*

          Thank you. I am definitely going to look into that, and parallell with this new unpleasant direction in our society is also a very strong movement against it, so I will certainly seek those people out. I guess my current concern is how to handle this situation when the subtle-but-unacceptable opinions appear among my own friends and family. I don’t want to just ignore it, as if I agree. I feel most people haven’t fully graduated into bigots yet, they’re just slowly sucked into it since it’s becoming increasingly normalized and they hear their other friends and coworkers say similar things. I would like to be one of the people who might break that chain of change in thinking and says “Hey, that’s not okay” in time before it goes too far.

          1. AcidMeFlux*

            I find that once cornered into a discussion on this with an uninformed person, I ask a lot of questions. “Who said that? Can you be more specific as to when? Can you cite a specific example? Did you really see X happening?). This, done in a non-threatening but genuinely inquisitive manner. Again, it only works with the pre-crazy mislead, but it’s worth a try.

            1. Artemesia*

              This is also the only real possibility of influencing the opinion of someone with these views. Low possibility, but the only possibility.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      No real advice just much sympathy, a few people I’m friends with on Facebook keep posting racist shit and I hate it, it’s so dumb and foolish but thats the opinion they have, it wouldn’t be changed by me arguing with them so I roll with it and post my own counter views to add some balance to their news feed and report the most objectionable stuff and mainly Facebook remove it.

      All I can suggest is pick your battles wisely and call out the most offensive views calmly even if you only say “yeah that’s not cool” “that’s not my experience” or “I cann’t possible agree with that” but you’re not likely to change to many minds so don’t waste to much time tilting at windmills.

    3. Steve G*

      It would help to know what country it is since every country handles immigration and assimilation differently. The only other place I know well is the Czech Republic, and their media’s approach to immigration is very different from the USA because the country is different. I saw in the Czech News that the UN gave Czech Rep a bad grade for accepting immigrants, which completely ignores the history of certain countries never having a culture of mass immigration or assimilation of foreigners. Not every country is the USA, and many of the particularly smaller countries in the eastern 1/2 of Europe have difficult and very specific languages that aren’t useful in other places. It’s not a tolerance thing or race thing there, its a logistics thing. There is high unemployment already (and in other places, such as Spain), why have more people come in? Do people really want to send their children to schools there and learn history and language that is pretty useless in the rest of the world, or is their main focus simply to not be somewhere else?

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          What! I always thought Sweeden was so liberal, but then I did see they are getting way more immigrants than any other country in the EU

        2. Rafe*

          I’m sure this comment isn’t going to go over very well, but don’t you think the Muslim immigrants bear some responsibility for the shift in attitude towards them? After all, Scandinavia in general and Sweden in particular have been very, very welcoming to Muslim immigration, but seem to finally had enough of the accompanying crime. Especially crime against women- I understand that in Sweden and Norway, rape crimes have skyrocketed. In fact, I recently saw a news report that said that Muslim men seek out blond, Nordic looking women as their victims, causing many women to dye their hair black. For a long time, the very Scandinavian fear of looking racist prevented people from focusing on the fact that the overwhelming majority of these rapes are committed by Muslim immigrants, but it seems that it’s gotten to the point that it simply can’t be ignored any longer.

          1. Tigress*

            Ugh. So, this is a example of the sort of “truths” that in other cases sensible people are, sadly, throwing about back home, and it’s what I am struggling to deal with (without yelling at anyone) when I’ll be back.

            I didn’t post here to get into a debate; I posted for advice from the amazing AAM community on how to speak to people you otherwise like who are expressing opinions with racist undertones (and sometimes just outright racist).

            1. steve g*

              But in rafe’s defense I saw that 100 percent of the rapes in Oslo Norway during one year since 2010 (forget exactly) were by non-norwegians. That was a truth not a “truth.” surely that is cause for alarm, which is why rafe is questioning the question

              1. fposte*

                Okay, no, it’s not a truth, and it’s not even a “truth.” For one thing, you’re not offering any citations or even sources. For another, it depends ludicrously on the notion that no Norwegian men ever commit rape. For yet another, it’s easy enough to look that claim up and note that it comes from a frothing Islamaphobe and has been dismissed by the Norwegian Ministry of Justice.

                It’s really important to distinguish between things people say that we believe because they feel like truth to us and things that are demonstrably, confirmably true. If we can’t cite the source of our information, it’s a good sign that it’s stuck with us out of belief and not reliability. As a skeptic and a liberal, I see this from people in my own political camp as well as the other, so I’m not singling anybody out.

              2. fposte*

                I have a comment in moderation, but just to be clear in the meantime, this isn’t a truth or even a “truth.”

                1. Steve G*

                  Fposte I have to disagree with you for the first time…….there are 100s of stories over a # of years + news clips on this from different places and years about different cases, now in 2014/2015 a very few sources say “woops that was false” (I just found those, BTW what are they claiming is false?)….what are we to make of it? Are we to wait 5 years before believing anything in the media?

                  Are we not experiencing the same thing now in the USA where they don’t divulge whether an immigrant committed a crime or not because they don’t want us to not be accepting of new waves of people? You have to look at local newspapers to see which crimes were committed by immigrants since the national media doesn’t cover them…

                2. Steve G*

                  There are 100s of hours of Swedish and Norwegian news on riots, anti-Semitic crime, and women being abused while trying to escape Islam once there, etc…..its not like me and Rafe just make this stuff up….I was just watching some and its making me mad so I need to turn it off….but you can search Muslim Sweden and get immersed yourself

                  We are up in arms about anti-Semitic crime here and I am no more tolerant of if it happens across the pond

                3. fposte*

                  Steve, you’ve said specifically that 100% of the rapes in Oslo are committed by non-Norwegians, and this is demonstrably not true, and I’ve cited my source–you still haven’t cited yours. This is why I made the point about citing your source, not just because the sources for that are pretty obviously bogus and easy to debunk, which they are, but because it also ensures we’re not overfavoring fake stuff because it fits a narrative we support.
                  I get that you feel immigration is a threat, but you’re believing stuff that isn’t true whenever it supports that theory, and it’s destroying your argument. If you can bring reasonably supported information, with sources, to the discussion, that’s another matter.

                  There are 100s of stories and “it happened to me” posts about every urban legend on Snopes. Repetition and wide dissemination doesn’t prove that something’s true. People, including journalist people, post and broadcast and repeat stuff because they’re stories that draw people’s attention and feel important; they only occasionally do it because they’re true.

                  It’s our job as readers and audience to be critical whether they are or not. Who says this? Is there anything to prove this is true aside from the fact that it seems likely to me? Who says it’s not true, and how credible are they? Again, I’ll mention /r/thathappened as an interesting place to see how this plays out with narratives on all sides of the political spectrum. There’s BS about confederate flag support alongside BS about anti-fatshaming.

            2. Rafe*

              Just because you don’t like to hear something doesn’t make it untrue. I am very against baseless racism, but think it’s just as bad to ignore certain truths just because they are unpleasant. If people are understandably upset because Muslims in Sweden commit a lot of rapes, does this make them racist? I have a Muslim parent, and these statistics bother me as well. Does that make me a racist?

              1. Corrupted by Coffee*

                Could you give me some legitimate sources for these stats? I can’t seem to find anything about this from a decent source. All I’m getting are articles from places like the Gatestone Institute, which the Institute for Policy Studies, The Nation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Center for American Progress characterized as “anti-muslim,” or “Jihad Watch,” where I think the name speaks for itself.

                1. Corrupted by Coffee*

                  From the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention:
                  “The number of reported sexual offences has increased in Sweden over the last decade. The increase is mainly due to a general rise in people’s tendency to report crime and the changes in legislation that have led to more crimes now being viewed as rape.

                  A new sexual offences legislation came into force in 2005, which meant that some actions that were previously classed as sexual exploitation are now classed as rape. The changes in the legislation resulted in a decrease in reported sexual coercion and exploitation, whereas the number of reported rapes have increased. As of July 1, 2013, further changes were made to the legislation in order to broaden the term rape to also include cases where the victim reacted with passivity.

                  However, there is reason to believe that certain types of sexual offences really have increased over the last thirty years, much due to changes in society, such as contact with strangers via the internet, more bars and pubs and increased alcohol consumption.”

            3. fposte*

              Sorry for contributing to the digression, Tigress. It depends on whether you’re looking to discuss/debate or move past it while getting your point on record, I’d say. For instance, on something like the Norwegian thing, you can say “It was certainly a disturbing idea, so I can understand why people were talking about it, but it’s a relief to know that it’s not true. More coffee?” There’s “I hope you realize you’re speaking about my friends.” There’s “Can you believe some people say things like that seriously?” There’s the great one posted here of “I hope you’re not saying this because you believe I agree with you.”

              You can also say outright “Look, you and I see this very differently. How do you want to negotiate our friendship in light of that fact?”

              1. Steve G*

                Well to get back to the question then, my strategy is to bring it back to the big picture items. So if the issue is immigrants taking advantage of welfare, steer it to general questions about welfare laws – do you think the government spends too much on it, do you think there should be stricter criteria to receive it, do you think there should be a time limit. So the focus is on the social policy/law and not on any particular group…..

          2. fposte*

            What makes you think it’s a shift? Sweden has for a long time had a combination of liberalism and xenophobia–I remember it as an issue in the early 1980s, for instance. I think a lot of times people consider something to be reactive because they weren’t around to see its earlier instances.

            1. Steve G*

              On a side note, I can’t speak for Sweden but it is a definite shift in Czech Republic. I think the West and the EU and even the very few immigrants to the Czech Republic have recently been trying to apply the same standards to the Czech Republic as they do to the USA in terms of tolerance of immigrants. The truth of the matter though is that the Czech Republic will never have a US-style INS to handle mass immigrations, and Czech people will perceive them as economic threats. Growth is not a priority in Czech culture. Czech people are not going to change to adapt waves of new immigrants, the language and culture are set. When you think about it, it is very odd that someone not of Czech descent would ever think of picking up and moving to the Czech Republic. The language is hard, the exchange rate isn’t great, the culture is very….specific….its one thing to be here in NYC and feel for an immigrant that doesn’t fit in (I literally just helped one who barely spoke English who was delivering food on a bike and lost, and I called the delivery site for him, I felt bad…) and being in Czech Republic (or I guess any small European country) and dealing with the same thing, because the whole point of the Czech Rep is that its Czech. There is no other real definition of the country. The whole point of Hungary is that its for Hungarian people live there. So when immigrants protest “you don’t accept us” in Czech Rep, it is definitely weird, it’s like, well, we were wondering why you were here as well?! Did you come for the bad exchange rate? To get hooked on alcohol? To have to deal with 2 months of cloud cover straight in the winter? It’s just…not comparable to the USA or big international cities…

              1. Anon for this*

                When you say this it make me feel like you think immigrants are at home looking over a computer choosing where to go, that is not the reality of most. Most would probably avoid a country where they don’t speak the language but life’s tough and unpredictable and sometimes you are just fleeing somewhere, rather than moving to somewhere. My grandparents, middle-class, college educated, late 30s were forced out of Egypt in the 1950s and ended up in Brazil, a country they probably barely knew existed because no other country allowed them entry. They spoke english, french and italian but none of the countries where those are the languages allowed them entry (they tried to get into the US, and various European states). It’s not like they had their pick.

              2. De (Germany)*

                Wow. That is incredibly offensive, but I guess you won’t even understand why.

                For one thing, being nice to an immigrant doesn’t gain you any points. It’s a completely irrelevant anecdote.

                “The whole point of Hungary is that its for Hungarian people live there.”

                What’s special about Hungary? If there’s nothing, then you can just replace Hungary with every other country in that sentence and it would be just as true, so nobody should ever be allowed to immigrate anywhere.

                I am also beginning to get uncomfortable with how you try to speak for people in the Czech Republic. Believe me, there’s people who think like you think about the Czech Republic about Germany. That doesn’t mean that’s how all Germans think. I would never claim to speak for my whole country, the country I have lived in all my life, yet you try to speak for a country you don’t seem to live in.

              3. Elizabeth West*

                Well, I have very nice friends there and I’m dying to at least visit. All my European friends speak English too, which is nice because I don’t speak Czech or German or French or Spanish. And I know culture can be wildly different, but people are pretty much the same everywhere once you get to know them. Racism and stupidity and crime and economic difficulties exist everywhere. So do politeness and kindness and friendship. The more I travel, the more I find that this is true.

              4. Steve G*

                Re DE Germany : What is offensive? I didn’t mention anything remotely offensive. Certain countries are equipped to handle international immigrants, some are not. Also why do you say I “try to speak for the Czech Republic,” this is the first time I’m every (somewhat) doing it. Why I point out Hungary is because it’s the only other country I know well. Both countries are not great places for immigrants to go to, yet Hungary is building a fence to keep people out. You will have to spend years learning a language that is useless in the rest of the world before you can break into a well-paying job, pay is low, so you’re not going to be able to save much for the future or for an eventual move west, and the educational systems are very specific to those countries.

                1. De (Germany)*

                  It’s offensive how you are trying to basically say “well, other countries are different”, trying to excuse the enormous xenophobia and racism going on in all parts of Europe at the moment. When they are saying “you don’t accept us”, we are talking about actual discrimination, and you are just shrugging it off with a “well, what did they expect?”

                  Well, they probably expected to be treated like human beings not be discriminated against, for one thing.

                  There’s people trying to set buildings with immigrants in it on fire where I am. And I am sure that Germany is country which you would say is “more equipped to handle international immigration”.

                  You also seem to just project from a US perspective of” international immigration” to the situation in Europe at the moment, which has a lot to do with refugees from war zones. What language a country has and whether people can make a lot of money there is not the main focus, and you seem to think it is.

                2. Steve G*

                  @ De Germany…..but its not xenophobia….some countries (such as Czech Rep) haven’t had new populations for centuries (besides not-that-great border shifts that put more Germans or members of the Ottoman Empire in its realm for periods of time). This is be the first ever time that some countries are being publically called out for not accepting people. What would you like those small countries to do for new people though? They can’t afford to give out more welfare, there are no jobs waiting, there is limited extra housing, they can’t speak the language (and how is that NOT a huge issue, that you can’t speak with the people around you?)….what are you expecting. You also should realize that you are painting me as the bad guy and yourself as the humanitarian, but you are deciding what other countries should be doing and what they should be spending their money on. A lot of those countries can barely afford to pay their existing populations’ pensions at this point and now they need to take in more people that aren’t employable there?

          3. Elizabeth West*

            In fact, I recently saw a news report that said that Muslim men seek out blond, Nordic looking women as their victims, causing many women to dye their hair black.

            That sounds like Fox News hooey to me.

            1. Rafe*

              No, it was a European news report, I think from Norway. But congrats on not passing up a chance to bash Fox news. I for one am pretty sick of it. As if everything on Fox news is automatically evil.

              1. Apollo Warbucks*

                When Fox News runs stories that the UKs second city (Birmingham) is 100% Muslim and runs under Islamic law they prove either the are running bullshit stories to further their own agenda or that they are incompetent and can not fact check, neither makes me trust their output.

                1. Rafe*

                  I didn’t see that story on Fox so can’t comment on it. But we weren’t even discussing Fox news, we were discussing something very worrying happening in Scandinavia. The commenter didn’t even entertain the possibility that it might be true- apparently the story so clashed with her view of how the world should be that her only response was to drag out the old “Fox is bad” comment. Well, it wasn’t on Fox, and actually is happening according to a local news story filmed there, so how about admitting that if this is indeed what is going on over there, it’s pretty damn horrible? When people bend over backwards and turn themselves inside out to ignore reality so as not to appear racist, I find that very scary.

                2. Apollo Warbucks*

                  I took Liz’s comment to mean a story full of hyperbole, xenophobia and immigrant bashing that fox new are well known for, so more the style of journalism than anything else.

                  When I saw the news story about Birmingham I knew instantly that was false and when I see other stupid claims about immigrants in the news it’s very easy to lump the stories together and reject them as untrue.

                  Yes if men are roaming the streets looking for prey then yes it would need to be sorted out and it would be terrible. But the important thing is there’s nothing to support such a claim no evidence at all. The story has no credible bases yet you expect it to be taken as fact.

                  I find it scary when people use completely unfounded rubbish to invent their own reality where immigrants are bad and evil and a danger to society when mostly they are not. I’m not trying to avoid appearing racist I’m exercising some critical judgement and independent thought to access what seems true.

                3. Steve G*

                  Are you referring to the story with Judge Pirro? That is the only one I can find online. They didn’t say it is 100% foreign (though it is 40%+ foreign which is a huge shift) but that there are unofficial “no go zones.” Unofficial, as in you will get stared down and they have sharia law groups patrolling at night – nothing official. I can’t find a story corroborating the story you are citing (and which I have seen cited in other places).

                  I don’t have a stake in the game, I don’t want the story to be true though, so if you can find and share in this or future posts, I will appreciate, thank you!

              2. Steve G*

                The ironic things is that (and do a simple youtube search) there are dozens of BBC documentaries on the self-described immigration problem, even though I’ve seen the BBC cited as a neutral news sources here a few times.

                Also wish I had watched Fox News sooner, I never watched it before a few months ago, so I didn’t know what people were talking about online when they tried to shut down an argument with “sounds like Fox.” But now that I’ve seen it, I’m watching coverage of the Republican debate, the Clinton email scandal, Planned Parenthood, the same stories on every other channel…I’m not seeing all of these crazy and radical stories everyone keeps mentioning. At least they have non-Republicans on all of the time to balance arguments, and don’t cherry pick stories in the way other outlets (such as Young Turks) do.

                1. Rafe*

                  Yes, I actually find fox news to be more balanced than most other network news stations that push a very left wing agenda with hardly any representatives from the other side. I don’t think most people who bash Fox have ever watched it.

                  And Apollo warbucks, really? You really see no evidence of Muslim immigrants committing a high number of rates in Scandinavia? You honestly don’t think there is any truth to that? Id say that for whatever reason, you’ve got your head stuck in the sand. So many news reports on YouTube and written up online- they’re ALL lying? None of it is true? Wow.

                2. Apollo Warbucks*

                  Rafe I havnt got my head in the sand, what an interest way for you to attempt to dismiss my point of view.

                  Some Muslims commit crimes I’m not denying that, other ethic and religious groups also commit crimes. Every time I’ve read right wing news articles or look at any media coverage about these issue I find if you scratch the surface there are always undertones of racism and no factual basis for the claims made, litlle more than pure scaremongering and xenophobia.

                  Please show me a credible factual source for your assertion that Muslim men are committing a high number of crimes in Scandinavia, where are you getting that idea from. (More than just unproven “facts” from YouTube)

                  Go and Google the Rochdale grooming scandal it’s horrific what those guys were doing, but to me their faith and religion didn’t make their crimes worse. Interestingly when Catholic priests did the exact same thing no one lost their collective shit and starts denouncing all Christians.

                  Many Muslims live peacefully in Scandinavia (and other countries), don’t committ any crimes and make a genuine contribution to society. There are millions if not billions of Muslims world wide and many different ways people practice their faith focusing attention on the religion of the minority of people who do committ crime does a lot of damage to inocent people.

                  Focus on the small percentage of people who commit these types of crime all you want but you miss the bigger picture where by most reasonable decent people don’t act that way.

                3. Steve G*

                  @ Apollo Warbucks – wait – what is wrong with news and documentaries from respectable sources on youtube? I don’t want to cite #s and then be crucified here for them being wrong, but there are 100s of Belgian, Norwegian, and Swedish news stories on youtube (the same way people put clips from MSNBC or Fox on youtube here) that may give slightly different #s, but they are pointing to a trend. You really have to look at some of them to see that it is not a racism thing, in fact, those countries seem to have been hiding and are still underplaying a lot of the crime going on because they don’t want to be seen as racist.

                  And as per your comparison to Christians, the abuse scandals of the late 90s had a huge impact, it seems that every person I meet in their 20s here in NYC is not Christian though raised Christian because of the perceived hypocrisy of the church (and that is the main example of it). It had a huge shakeup. But it wasn’t crime aimed at the general public or the government so it isn’t really comparable

              3. Elizabeth West*

                Don’t ever accuse me of that kind of blindness again. You don’t know me at all, and if you did, you would realize pretty quickly that is NOT me in any way.

                Apollo explained what I meant, which was that the report blaming Muslims sounded like over-the-top racist scaremongering. I did not mean that it isn’t happening–of course that is a worrisome situation.

                However, if the news report did indeed blame “Muslim men” without giving any specifics (and correct me if I missed them, but I see no supporting links whatsoever), then I would discount it until I had more information. Where is the information? Where is the report? Where are your facts? Is there anything to corroborate the report?

                European news outlets aren’t immune from sloppy reporting, you know.

                1. Rafe*

                  Right, so you discount every single thing you see on the news until you have corroborating information? Sure. OK, I think I’m finally done with this thread, it’s like spitting into the wind. People won’t see what they don’t want to see. Got it. Well, it was fun for a while, but now it’s gotten tedious. Bye.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  @Rafe–No, I do not discount every single thing, and you’re putting words in my mouth again. But a generalized statement such as “Muslim men seek out Nordic victims” warrants a little more checking.

                  Talk about not listening to anybody else’s viewpoint!

                3. Steve G*

                  Well there are 100s of stories to look up…but two of the famous ones were the Charles Hebdo cartoon killings, and the murder of Lee Rigby, as well as the riots in France, Italy, and Sweden…..the Lee Rigby murderer gave a speech on his thoughts after the murder, and the riot footage speaks for itself…..

    4. Today's anon*

      Sometimes I like to remind people that the large majority of immigrants move because of extreme hardship, be it economic or civil or external war. Immigrating to a country where one doesn’t speak the language or know the customs and might not even have a shared common history (a non-western country vs a western one) is extremely hard, and extremely risky too, even if we don’t go into the extremes of human smuggling we are seeing now. Most come with nothing, maybe some little cash. It is not an easy choice to make and if someone has made that choice, it means that things are really bad where they are from. Many are not choosing a country to go to, many are fleeing somewhere and hoping to get somewhere maybe and maybe they end up somewhere else entirely. So, yes, it is hard to make room for all this humanity but the alternative is what? to let them all die (enough are dying as it is)? I hope not.

  12. Valley*

    I’m pretty sure there’s nothing to be done for my problem, so this will probably just end up being a vent, but is there any way to get rid of a celebrity crush? I get them once in a while, but never as intense or long- lasting as this one. The feelings are so strong that they actually make me cry and feel depressed at times. My appetite is shot to the point where I’ve actually lost a few pounds. Literally from the second I wake up until I go to sleep at night, my head is filled with this person. Believe me, I realize how pathetic this problem is. Is there any way to just make all the craziness stop?

    1. Not So Sunny*

      Can you speak with someone professionally?

      I’m sorry for your trouble. I don’t have any advice…

    2. nep*

      I don’t know whether you do this kind of thing already — Anyway what comes to my mind in a case like this is look into spending some of your time volunteering, reaching out to people in need in your community — particularly in something that brings you out of your comfort zone. It can help to shift focus and get shake things up, clear your head.

    3. AcidMeFlux*

      Go to one of those websites that posts unattractive photos of celebs? Seeing Colin Farrell at 6 am in a non-posed pap shot with no professional makeup or hair style can be a good jolt of cold water.

    4. Mimmy*

      I’ve had that happen – I never saw it as a crush because it was usually with a female (I am female), but more like being unable to stop thinking about a particular celebrity just because I love him/her as a person as well as their art (usually pop singers). Definitely try to find something to distract yourself, as nep suggested. However, if it interferes with your day-to-day functioning, such as at work or with relationships, talking with a professional may help.

    5. Colette*

      Are there other things in your life that you’re interested and enthusiastic about? It seems to me that this might be filling a void, if you’re bored or unenthused about other parts of your life.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. It’s filling a space from something that is missing in your life. Or helping you to avoid something that you do not want to deal with in your life. I had a crush on an actor years and years ago. When I thought about him, I was happy. Then, I realized that I did not have much happy stuff going on in real life. I worked on changing that.

    6. I can relate*

      I would recommend cutting off all exposure to the person. Stop reading about them and looking at pics in magazines, the Internet, and TV. It’s an addiction of sorts. Fill your time with other things. The longer you go, the easier it will be. If the problem continues, go see a professional, there may be other issues going on in your life that are being masked by this crush. Good luck!!!

    7. Goliath Gary Willikers*

      Not celebrities, but I used to get really painful, embarrassing fictional-character crushes that long outstayed their welcome when I was old enough to know better. In my case, I was usually using the crush as a crutch and a distraction from dealing with my anxiety around getting emotionally involved with real people. You might start digging and seeing what deeper purpose this crush is serving in your life.

      Aside from that, I’d second Valley’s recommendation to go cold turkey on the celeb. That maybe be difficult, but finding other things to occupy your mind really does weaken the attachment over time. It might be embarrassing to do, but think of it as a breakup. Like any breakup, you can’t get over them if you’re constantly seeing them and keeping tabs on what they’re doing.

    8. Lady Bug*

      You should look at why you like this celeb. Is it looks, talent, personality traits? I still have celeb crushes and my current one is mainly based on the fact that his personality is very similar to my husband in many ways. Maybe this celeb reminds you of someone else and you are using them as a substitute to deal with feelings related to real life person? I think you could be depressed in general and its manifesting through the celeb crush. Definitely do some self examination or therapy. Sorry you are going through this!

    9. Stargazer*

      This happened to me with Apolo Ohno a few years ago. Not quite to the extent you’re experiencing, but I definitely could NOT stop thinking about him for a while. It faded pretty quickly once I forced myself to stop Googling him. Out of sight, out of mind.

    10. Sociable*

      Follow them on twitter and find out what an idiot they are. This will usually clear up any delusions that they are an almighty infallible deity.

      But if that doesn’t work, I second the idea that perhaps you need to look into therapy. Feeling this way over someone you do not know, to the point that it is interfering with your life is a bit of cause for concern. I know you realize this, and that is a good first step, but not being able to fix it is and could become a really big problem, and it’s okay to get help if you need it.

      1. bkanon*

        *laugh* The Twitter thing is too true. I’ve followed a couple celebrity crushes on there. Usually doesn’t take more than a week before crush drops to cute but noooooo.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Oh believe me, I know this one! :P

      These crushes are rarely about the person but about what they represent. It’s soooo nice to think about it–they seem perfect, life with them would be exciting and cool, etc. But you’re not seeing a whole person–most of the time, you’re seeing a branded image, an advertisement of an appealing product that is designed to get you to spend money on their music, films, books, etc. Remember, the operative word in show business is “business.”

      I know that doesn’t change the way you feel, and you can’t help having those feelings. It will help if you remember that this WILL pass, especially if you try to find other things to occupy your time and your mind. And try to avoid looking at the person, news about them, etc. It’s hard if they are the It person of the moment, I know.

      I second the advice to talk to someone about it, if it’s interfering with your sleeping and eating.

    12. Meadowsweet*

      really late, but :)
      hoo boy do I know this feeling :/
      a question: do you want to be WITH this person or do you want to BE this person? do they represent something – a lifestyle, choices, beliefs, abilities, job type – that you want for yourself and feel is missing from your life right now or feels like it will be impossible to achieve?

  13. Carrie in Scotland*

    Oh! Good book choice, Alison! I read it a few months ago, after reading “The Gallery of Vanishing Husbands”.

  14. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

    My partner and I are about to have our first baby and we’d prefer that my partner stay home to take care of him, at least part time. We have one relative in the city we’re moving to who also has a baby and may be able to do a childcare swap so that partner can work part time. As baby and big move draw nearer I am definitely getting nervous about adding a person and losing an income. Any other nonprofit people making this kind of arrangement work? I know it’ll be tight but I don’t know if we’re foolish to even try. I’d love to hear encouraging stories but also, if you’ve tried this and it was a total nightmare, please let me know. A few details: we’re trying cloth diapering and hoping to nurse so IF those two things work out we may be able to save a few bucks. My salary is by no means high but it is higher than the average household income in the city we’re moving to and from what I’ve read COL in new city is about 80% of what it is nationwide.

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      As for the childcare swap; talk it over a lot with said relative Make sure you really understand each other in terms of time arrangements, flexibility in how kid is cared for, etc. Put it in writing in an informal document just to establish that this was what was agreed on.Maybe start with a 3 month trial and see how it goes.And always have a backup plan/carer just in case. And FWIW I don’t have kids, but that’s how I’d handle any arrangement for shared or bartered services with a relative or friends.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        We’d definitely be very thorough in determining everyone’s needs and abilities. Obviously when babies are involved parents are going to need to be very detailed and clear about their expectations (I actually nannied for several years). This relative and I are both very intentional and communicative, I feel fairly certain that if we decided to go this route we’d be able to work something out that was mutually beneficial.

        1. AcidMeFlux*

          You sound like someone with a lot of common sense and an ability to make good judgements. I’m sure you’ll make it work well!

    2. Sparkly Librarian*

      Public servant, not non-profit, here, but with similar circumstances. While we are in the pre-adoptive stages, my wife is working two jobs (surprise! new contract work!) and we’re banking her paychecks/paying off her student debt and living on my salary in preparation for her being the primary caretaker at home.
      One employment option we explored (which may or may not be feasible at the time we need it) was to have my wife keep the part-time job where she works overnight Fridays and Saturdays, while I work daytimes Monday through Friday. So she’d be primary parent — getting up at night, solo until I get home from work — during the week, and I would take over for the weekend so she could work and sleep. That reduces the amount of third-party childcare we’d need. Perhaps opposite schedules could eventually work for you?
      Your childcare swap sounds like a good deal, but be prepared with a backup plan. Even if it’s a good match, what if that relative became unable to care for your child, or got a fabulous job offer in another city, or for some other reason didn’t work out after a while? You might also consider alternate sources of income. We’ve been renting out a room in our house for a little while now, and alternate between applying the rent to our mortgage payment and saving it toward home repairs. This was a mutually beneficial arrangement with someone we’d lived with before (and who was okay with going through background checks and homestudy, in our circumstances), and now that she’s moving on, we’re planning to be very selective when/if we rent to someone else. It’s not necessary to keep the household budget afloat, but it was welcome.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        This is helpful, thank you! My partner is also working two jobs in anticipation of the baby, we’re putting that money away to cover moving expenses and the few weeks that I’m taking off without pay (I get 4 paid weeks off but would like to take a few more than that.) It’s a bit tricky because we don’t know what sort of employment opportunities he’ll have in the new city but we did talk about alternating schedules. He may also want to go back to school so…lots of decisions to make.
        We’re renting, at least until we get a better feel for the city and my new job, so we don’t have the option of bringing in another person but that’s a good thing to keep in mind. I guess we just have to jump in and see how it goes. I’ve had so many people say things like, “wow, it’s so nice that you can afford for one of you to stay home” and then I get nervous because most of these people make considerably more money than I do.
        I agree that a back-up plan childcare plan is a must-have but I’m pretty sure that’s always the case. I know plenty of parents who find themselves with kids home from daycare or school for one of several reasons, I imagine that for now we’d just deal with it the way most parents do and one of us would have to take the time off of work.

        1. Barbara in Swampeast*

          Don’t worry about the comments from people who make more than you do. I love reading articles about people making twice what we do and complaining about living paycheck to paycheck. While DH and I put away money for retirement, house improvement and travel. It is called a “budget” and living within your means. Really. It is amazing how much people spend on “necessities” that are not really needed.

          1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

            Thanks! I’m hoping this is true and that we can make it work if we stick to a budget.

    3. Student*

      My mother was a stay-at-home parent, while my father had a low-income job. I wish my mother had worked instead. It was a miserable experience for all of us.

      The low income made it impossible for them to save anything for my brother and I to go to college. My brother has over $100k in school debt. I lucked out in getting a full scholarship; my parents had originally planned for me to not attend college at all. Besides college, there was a lot of misery while I was growing up. Not enough food – going hungry is draining agony, if you’ve never experienced it. Not enough money to do some neat school extracurricular activities (and I definitely never fit in with the middle-class kids). Lots of tension between my parents over money. Now that they’re elderly, their retirement saves are abysmal. They’ll die a good 10 or 20 years before they really had to because they’ve skimped on medical care due to costs their whole lives, and it’s come back to haunt them both.

      And my mother was lousy at being a stay-at-home parent, anyhow. The thing about staying at home that no one talks about is that it is extremely hard to get back into the work force later. My mother had no marketable skills nor knowledge of modern job norms by the time my brother and I were old enough that she wanted to go back. My mother didn’t enjoy staying home with us when we were younger, and it showed in how she interacted with us. She hated it later in life, but couldn’t figure out how to change her life on her own. There wasn’t enough money for her to go get training in something with reasonable prospects. She turned to alcohol while we were pretty young, and it’s hard to turn yourself around after that, even under good conditions.

      It also had a pretty negative effect on how my brother and I regarded women. My mother thought women ought to do chores, so that’s how our house worked. My mother thought marrying someone was the best way for a woman to get a secure future, so that’s what we both were taught. I (a woman) rebelled against it and got an education and a career, and unlearned a lot of things I’d been taught about women. My brother bought into it – and that does not get him very far with modern women. He’s in his late twenties and still hasn’t had a long-term girlfriend.

      Staying home to raise kids doesn’t have to be like this. I’m well aware that my family had a particularly lousy experience / execution of it. You asked for total nightmare experiences, though, and this was mine.

      1. Dan*

        I have some similarities and differences from you.

        I grew up with a stay at home mom and a low wage earning father. While I never went to bed hungry, I always had free or reduced lunch at school, and never had any recreational toys whatsoever. The later is kind of a big deal when you live in a rural area in the upper midwest where outdoor sports reign supreme, especially in the winter. I’m talking hunting, skiing, snow mobiling, ATVs, any of that stuff. We did own fishing poles and a boat with a ten horsepower motor, but that was it. I never flew on an airplane before my 18th birthday. With one exception, the only time we ever left the state was to go to the neighboring state to see my grandparents.

        My parents are still rather broke, and I’m not entirely sure how they will handle retirement. My mom has decided that she “deserves” retirement, and took it at the earliest possible moment, collecting $700/mo. My dad? Well, he will work until he drops. Even if he did “retire”, they wouldn’t have enough money to do anything other than watch TV. I worry about them a bit financially, but the reality is I can’t help them. Because they did not pay anything for my college education, I ended up making a few less than smart decisions, and when it was all said and done, I ended up owing $92k in student loans. Plus I live in the DC metro area, which ain’t cheap.

        I also don’t feel that I benefited much from my mother staying home. About the only thing that happened was I didn’t become a pot head or under age alcoholic, which is about the worst that’s going to happen where I grew up. And TBH, that wasn’t very common anyway.

        What I did learn from my parents (and I truly mean this) is that I will not have kids if it will put me in the poor house. No way. I came to this conclusion as a preteen, and 30 years later, I have not changed my mind.

        The really interesting thing is that my mother was a public school teacher before I was born. If my mother would have returned to teaching, and my dad stayed home, we’d have been much better off financially. When I was in high school, I said something about that to my mom. Her response was, “We are a traditional family” with the tone of voice that said, “don’t ever question me about that again young man.”

        So yeah. While my experience wasn’t as bad as yours, I’ll add a plus one to the column under “being a stay at home parent isn’t an automatic win for the kid.”

        1. Sparky*

          Huh, I’ve heard that teaching is almost the only profession where are woman can return fairly easily after a break to raise a family.

          When deciding who stays home with the children not enough attention is paid to how hard it is for women especially to return to the workforce after a break, and how taking a break to raise children often results in her income never recovering. Especially if there is a divorce later, she has sacrificed a chunk of her income to raise the children, missed raises and promotions, but this isn’t recognized by the courts. Men aren’t penalized for having children or for divorcing like women are at all.

          The solution might be to adopt school age children. Kidding, mostly.

          1. Apollo Warbucks*

            The solution could be, decent paid parental leave and more flexible working arrangements along with better provision of affordable childcare.

            For what’s is worth my fiends dad stayed at home with him and his brothers whilst their mom worked and he never made it back into the the tech industry that he used to work in, his skills weren’t currnt and there was to much competition.

            The UK are moving towards shared parental leave where both then mom and dad can take paid time off, which I think will help adress the imbalance and challenge the assumption that moms should stay home with the kids.

          2. Dan*

            I was not commenting on my mother’s ability to reenter the workforce; frankly, I don’t think she ever wanted to return to full time employment.

            You say that in the event of a divorce, courts don’t recognize a woman’s lost wages. What state do you live in / are you familiar with? In my state, alimony is alive and well.

            In my state, you’re right that the courts don’t directly impute income for a woman’s missed income opportunity for staying home with the kids. But if the marriage was long enough (about 20 years) the lower income spouse (generally the woman) is entitled to life time spousal support.

            When you talk about “her income” being “penalized”, in my state, income earned during the marriage is considered marital property, not the property of the one whose W2 it showed up on. It’s not like the man gets to keep all of the money because “he” earned it.

            TL;DR: I think the courts very much do recognize the contributions a woman makes to the household and the lack of income in the event of a divorce.

            1. Honeybee*

              Alimony is made to allow the non-earning spouse to get back on their feet and find employment, though, or in a few cases to enable them to live the life they’re used to for a period of time. It’s not designed to make up for the lost wages of a stay-at-home spouse during the years they weren’t working.

              And by “her income being penalized,” I’m pretty sure Sparky is referring to the work wages of the parent (usually the woman) who stays home and later returns to the work force. Let’s say a heterosexual couple has a baby when they each have 5 years of work experience, and the woman stays home with the child. She returns to work when the baby is 13. At that point, the father has 18 years of work experience and gets paid accordingly. The woman has only 5 years of work experience, so she’s going to get paid more like that. In fact, she may only get paid entry-level wages, since her work gap is so large a lot of employers may only hire her at the entry level. She also maybe hasn’t kept up with changing technology and new techniques and tools being used in her area, so maybe she can’t find a job in her old field at all anymore.

              Only 9 states in the U.S. have community income laws. So in the other 41 states in the U.S., yes, the money earned by one working spouse (typically the man in a heterosexual marriage) is theirs by law, and not both spouses’.

    4. Dan*

      You throw some details in here that I’m curious why you think they are significant:

      You’re asking for advice from “non profit people”. Why are you not interested in what “for profit” people have to say? I work for a non profit, and came from a for profit, and have never really felt that my current org’s tax exempt status has made my life materially different.

      You also make references to cost of living differences between your salary and your future city. The fact that your future city is cheaper than thee national median is irrelevant — how your salary fares locally is highly relevant.

      I live in a county where the median income is almost double that of the median national household income. My salary alone is slightly below that of the median household income in my county, and in the upper 20%-ile nationally.

      I am *not* rich. Far from it. I would only try the single income thing if my major life expenses were squared away — house purchsed, student loans paid off, car taken care of, emergency fund established, and still have the ability to continue to add to it. You don’t want to be in a position where the fund is depleted, and you have no ability to replenish it.

      1. Stephanie*

        Dan makes a good point about the salary. Depending on the area, sometimes low COL=low salaries and not just in the “The Boise office pays $5k less across the board than the San Diego office, but the Boise salary will still go way further” way but in the “Here’s $24k a year and we’re being generous” way.

        Make sure you’re getting the full picture of the COL. It’s easy to look at the biggest expense (I’m guessing housing) and ignore all the other smaller things (like will you need a car now, is housing in the good school district not that cheap, are there temperature extremes and high utilities a chunk of the year?).

        1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

          Thanks, all, for sharing those stories. You raise some incredibly important points for me to further consider.

          Regarding salary, I actually said that COL is lower than the national average and that my own salary was higher than the local average, meaning that I have looked at the numbers and am hoping my salary is enough to cover our living expenses in new city. Based on what I’ve seen, my salary is about typical of my position nationwide, although of course there are extreme examples at either end. We’ve also created a very thorough budget that includes housing, food, transportation costs, etc. I’m not entirely sure in what ways the budget will change after the baby arrives, and we don’t have a ton of flex room, but we’ll do our best.

          I only mention nonprofit because in my field, the wage difference between a for profit employee and a nonprofit employee is often quite vast. I’ve only ever really worked in nonprofit so I don’t know about how for profit salaries compare. I’m sure that those from for profit backgrounds can still offer valuable insight.

          The other factor that I haven’t mentioned is that my partner does not have a college degree and often finds that this limits his earning potential. So we had to look at what he’d be able to bring in (especially in a new job and region where he doesn’t have years of experience to leverage) versus what we’d have to spend on good childcare, and those numbers were often very similar. In that regard, it makes much more sense for us to have the baby home with Dad then to pay to leave him with someone we don’t know anything about (new city, no friends, no references, etc). Again, this may not work out long term and I believe my partner is planning on looking for part-time work or going back to school once we get settled in.

          We do not have all of our expenses paid by any means, that’s sort of the nature of the work we do and the culmination of our own backgrounds (my parents didn’t believe in contributing to their children’s college education until child number 3 went to school, I’m number 1.) We are on time with all of our payments and not behind, we have a small savings account and are pretty close to paying off some of our debt. For student loans, I’m on an income contingent plan and hoping very much that the 10 year forgiveness option is still around in 7 years when I’ll hopefully be eligible to benefit from it.

          We’ve given this a lot of thought and we’re trying to stay flexible, meaning that we’re not so attached to one of us staying home that we’ll risk our stability and well-being rather than seek other forms of income. I honestly don’t know how it’ll work out but I do appreciate all of your input and want to take another look at our budget after hearing your stories.

          1. Dan*

            Frankly, if I have kids in the future, and child care expenses and the income from one of our jobs comes out even or even takes a little bit of a bath, I’d encourage my spouse to stay working. Yeah, that means things will be tight until the kid(s) reach school age, but I fear they will be even tighter if that spouse tries to return to work and finds that five years as a SAHM/D makes reentry with stale skills difficult. Given your description of your partner’s education and job history, I’d be even more worried.

            You spend quite a bit of time talking about your field and median averages. But IMHO, the clincher is that your student loans are on an ICR plan. That tells me your budget is tight, no matter how your income fares against “the median.” I’m not passing judgement here – at its peak, I owed $92k in student loans, but because about half of them are private, I make too much to benefit from an ICR or public service forgiveness program. It kinda sucks.

            You mention that your partner might look for part time work, I’d certainly encourage that.

            1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

              Yeah, my loans are public and the ICR plan is actually much more helpful than what I’d anticipated. I expect an increase in payments each year but I hope to actually have a couple of other options to help with SL payments (an Americorps stipend, a potential LRAP, etc).

              I think this could actually be an opportunity for my partner, he’s been wanting to finish his degree for some time but has put it off to take hourly jobs that often don’t pay enough to justify the time he’s putting into them (hoping this is different in a bigger city than it has been in a small town). He’s working now but all of that money is being set aside to prepare for the transition so we’re essentially living on one salary now and have been for the past couple of years. Money does get tight but we’re fine, bills are paid, food is on the table, we’re making it work. The big change is going to be adding another person. If partner is able to take classes now and finish his degree by the time baby is a bit older, then he’ll be more marketable than he is now. He’s said that he’s a bit exhausted by starting over (salary-wise) each time he takes a new job and that often happens when he’s forced to take whatever’s available. We know better than to think a college degree will magically make that go away but at least once he starts working in a specific field, his experience will count for something in a way that doesn’t seem to happen now.

              I certainly don’t think this is a workable plan for everyone and I appreciate your candor. At this point, moving to a new city and starting over means he likely won’t have work for a few months anyway, so we’re looking at this as a bit of an experiment. Another income would be incredibly helpful but I can’t count on that right now anyway so I’m looking for ways to make this work out.

  15. Carrie in Scotland*

    Ok, so another cat question.

    I moved last week and my lovely cat Paige (she is black & white) is 6 and very outdoorsy. I am now living in a 2nd floor rental and my cat is not very happy about staying indoors. I have let her sniff up and down the hallway a bit but am not sure that is any better.

    Any help/advice? I just don’t want my cat to be on a missing poster :-( but I also want her to be…not miserable.

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        I tried one a few years ago. It didnt go well…but might be better now? Sigh. I just don’t know what is best.

          1. AcidMeFlux*

            I’m trying to get mine to go with the harness so he can go out on my balcony (supervised) and not jump (he has, believe me). Right now we’re at the stage where I put on the harness and he goes limp and mute. My friends tell me he’ll be ok….in a few months….

          2. blackcat*

            This is true of my cat. It took about a year of occasionally putting the harness on him for him to tolerate it. Every time the leash went on, he got to go outside. And I only did this when he seemed to really want to go outside. Now he’s like a dog–he meows and runs to the door when I pick up the harness/leash. He used to army crawl in the harness and now walks upright (mostly). He used to resist getting the harness on, and while he does try to dodge the over the head bit now, he stands still for me to buckle it. He’s 9. I know people report more success with kittens, but I think you just have to be patient with older cats.

            He definitely understands that the leash is his only means of seeing the outdoors. He never rushes the door/tries to escape when the door is open and he isn’t wearing the harness (he used to do this). He will walk right out the door once the harness is on, though.

            Also, he doesn’t go for “walks.” Mostly, I sit outside and read a book with him on a 10-15 ft leash. He putters around, smells the world, eats grass, and eventually lays down. Once he does that, he’s had enough time that I can carry him back in without complaints.

            1. Hellanon*

              My last cat loved her leash & would cry and run over to the cabinet where it was kept everytime I headed in that general direction. She refused to walk, but loved sitting outside under a bush while I gardened – and knew the leash was connected to that activity. Maybe you could try taking her in her carrier to a park, leashing her, and just siting on a bench with her?

        1. fposte*

          It’s also something that you have to train and accustom a cat to, and there looks to be plenty of guidance around the web.

          1. Trixie*

            This. I’ve had to retrain a few cats to give up outdoor time. They might escape now and then but mostly become indoor cats with quality window time and perches.

    1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Do you have a balcony? If it can be catified with nets and so on, it might be a decent compromise. As others have said, she might be more open to harnesses now.

  16. AV*

    I bought very cute 17 month planner last week and immediately after buying it, I remembered that I’ve never successfully used a day planner. I’m good at just remembering my appointments and commitments, so they’ve never been really useful for me. I how can I convert and become a day planner user? Any advice?

    1. danr*

      Be sure to take it out every day and look through it. And start writing stuff in it. There will come a time when you don’t remember everything, and having this habit will save you.

      1. Nina*

        This. I’ve done this many times; bought a day planner and used it for a few weeks. Once the novelty wore off, it would end up on my bookshelf and I’d never use it again.

        So the key is to keep it nearby and use it exactly what it’s meant for: planning. Write down gym training sessions, doctor/dentist appointments, when bills are due, etc. Eventually it will become habit and you’ll use it everyday.

    2. fposte*

      What would be surprise treats for you? Can you randomly paste in jokes, or photos, or song lyrics or something that you might get a lift out of encountering?

    3. acmx*

      I use mine not only for appointments but for lists, ideas, vacation planning and a place to keep random information (types of filters I use, etc) and I use it to note when something happened – like last time lawn service was out, for example (my service isn’t an exact day of the week)

    4. Audiophile*

      I have no advice – sorry, but I ‘ve bought countless planners and almost never used them. Now I use my cell exlusively.

    5. Sourire*

      Do you have something fun coming up like a vacation – I sometimes like to do fun little countdowns in my planner for those.

      I am probably not much help though because I couldn’t function without mine just because of my job. We work crazy shifts, tons of overtime and lots of switched shifts with coworkers, so it’s pretty much become my bible. They did just start using a new electronic scheduling system at work though which will keep track of those things for us, so we’ll see if I become less planner dependent shortly.

    6. Sociable*

      I’ve been trying so hard to get into planners. I design for a living, so I even designed and had my own bound. But I fell off after about 3 weeks of using it. Skipped entire month of August and am going to try again for September.

      I remember everything in my head too. But I can be pretty flighty, way too spontaneous and a touch of ADD/ADHD or something that I thought a planner could be a good habit to form. But what to put in it besides appointments?

      I tried watching planner videos on youtube and those crazies just wig me out! All those stickers and extra stuff… they’re basically doing a monthly/weekly elementary school craft project and I don’t see how the planner actually serves a functional purpose. I could never.

      I know you have to create the habit in yourself by doing it for a few weeks until it becomes habit, and NOT breaking it. But that’s so hard — Idk what else to keep in mine, but I guess…. recording things that happen is a good idea too??

      Good luck!! I’m going to try again coming up.

      1. Bea W*

        I have a day planner I use at work. I use it not just to keep track of appointments and meetings, but for work tasks. I will write in when I work is due. I will write in what I plan to work on on any given day. I have 2 meetings a month I have to plan and run myself, and I have written in when I need to start soliciting agenda items, send the agenda, have the minutes reviewed and back to the minute taker, etc. I use it to plan my work over the week. I cross out things I get done. It functions primarily as a to-do list but with dates. My Outlook calendar is my primary source of meeting reminders and planning.

        When I was looking at day planners I wanted one with a good enough of space to write in for each day. I didn’t necessarily want one with times on each line, because I wanted to be able to write down to-do items and general notes. I found one that allowed me to do just that. The week is split across two pages, with a general section up top for notes, and a good amount of space for each day to write things down. There are also calendars for each month to refer to and space to write in those.

        1. Bea W*

          I added a link to the planner I use, but I think it’s in limbo. I used be able to see a comment I made in limbo, but this one isn’t showing up for me, so I have no idea if it’s in the mod queue or not. If it just got totally eaten, it is At-a-glance item 130-905.

    7. Bea W*

      Why do you think you need to convert to using a day planner at all? If it ends up not being useful for you, that’s totally okay. What you want is a system that works for you, otherwise it’s pretty useless and will just make life harder.

    8. Trixie*

      Depending on your job, you may not need one. I use a month-at-a-glance planner and really like it because it’s fairly thin/easy to carry so I don’t have a smart phone/app at my disposal. I note due dates, meetings, classes, birthdays, appt, upcoming deadlines. On the sidebars, there’s just enough room for overall monthly reminders.

      For those folks so inclined for the full daily calendar, I’ve seen Day Designer day planners and really like those. Very $$$ but breaks it down into daily reminders, tasks to get done, etc.

      1. Trixie*

        And while I continue to get by with monthly day planners, when I’m lucky I find a cute $2 design at Walmart or even Dollar Store.

    9. Honeybee*

      I consistently buy really pretty day planners and never use them. I keep track of all of my appointments electronically. My job uses Outlook and so all of my appointments are automatically added to my calendar that way. I guess I could copy all of my appointments from the calendar to the planner, but that seems like a waste of time – plus my phone will ping me when it’s time for me to go do something, whereas my day planner won’t. So my beautiful day planners remain empty and unused.

  17. ginger ale for everyone*

    I wasn’t sure if this should go in Friday’s thread or the weekend thread but I thought I would chance it here.

    I am thinking about tacking on a vacation day or two to a business trip to Washington, DC in October. I asked at work about it and they said it happens all the time and were willing to work with me to give me advice. The kind of advice I would like from AAM is — what packs well for a trip? I am not a traveller so I need both business and casual and what kind of weather should I expect in DC at this time of the year? What would be good to see on a Saturday or Sunday? I am under orders to get a photo of my parent’s name on a Vietnam Memorial wall since no one in the family has ever seen it.

    And I am the sort of person who gets hungry when I am bored so I thought I would bring a healthy snack for the plane. Would having someone eat an apple on the plane drive other people insane? I will already be bringing a snack sized pretzels since I think those shouldn’t offend anyone. I went on a trip several years ago in October and found that having a large bag of Halloween sized pretzels bag was ideal for snacking while I went from one tourist site to another in a larger city. I had about 20 bags of those (from that one large bag, not 20 large bags filled with smaller bags) for a week long trip and it was ideal.

    1. nep*

      Having someone eat an apple next to me on a plane would really bother me. Pretzels slightly as well — but not nearly as bad. Bananas or tangerines = quieter and you don’t need to wash them.

      1. Andrea B.*

        The smell of bananas immediately incites my gag reflex. If someone next to me pulled one out of their bag I would be in hell. I’d probably have to get up and walk away until they were finished. Tangerines/clementines/oranges are a WONDERFUL in-flight snack IMO! I love the fresh, citrus smell as they are being peeled :)

        1. Traveler*

          See and I find the smell of oranges in the morning sickening.Not orange juice, but oranges. If someone did that on a flight, eek. And I even like them. Everyone has a trigger I think, and you can’t cover all your bases. Opt for food that doesn’t smell and doesn’t make a ton of loud noises, otherwise just apologize if you find it bothers your neighbor.

          1. nep*

            Agreed. I see from reading these other comments — triggers / annoyances different for everyone when it comes to food odors and sounds.
            Perhaps dates and figs — pretty quiet…no big aroma…good sources of energy, if you’re OK with the sugar. (I eat these quite rarely but I find that I’ve got to drink a LOT of extra water when I do, or I’ll get really dehydrated/puffy. But you want to drink a lot of water while traveling anyway.)

        2. Liz in a Library*

          I will warn you that irritation/allergy to the oil in the peel of citrus fruits (particularly orange) is pretty common.

          I love oranges, but they have to be peeled away from me. I’ll start coughing to the point of sometimes vomiting if their peels are broken too near me. I have to make my husband wash his hands and the kitchen immediately after eating one, and even then it doesn’t always help.

      2. Harriet Vane Wimsey*

        Slice the apple up, and put in plastic bag with sprinkles of lemon juice. Won’t turn dark and won’t have crunchy time.

    2. Beezus*

      Bite sized snacks are good. Crunchy things that you have to take bites of could be annoying. I’m not sure I would do an apple on the plane, although in the terminal where you’re not crammed in together, I’d think it would be fine. Presliced apples would be a little better inside the plane if you really want apple.

      Dried fruit might be another good option, as would nuts. I always head to a store as soon as I’m through Security and get a giant bottle of water.

    3. Delyssia*

      In terms of weather, October in DC could be anything. 90+ degrees is not unheard of; snow is not unheard of. So, do your research on average temperatures and all that now, but be sure to check the weather forecast within a day or two of when you actually leave. And if it looks iffy at all, plan on layers.

      On average, October is typically getting into sweatshirt/light jacket weather. So you’ll want to be prepared with long sleeves and light jackets and the like. In terms of packing well, I like to go for relatively wrinkle resistant stuff. Even though most hotels will have an iron and ironing board available, I hate ironing, so I’d prefer to go with the stuff that will shake off the wrinkles with a quick hang in a steamy bathroom (or not even wrinkle in the first place).

      In terms of what to do, it doesn’t sound like you’ve been to DC much, if at all, before, so you can’t go wrong touring up and down the mall. In addition to the monuments and memorials, there’s the Smithsonian museums which are great and are all free. Not too far off the mall are the Penn Quarter and Chinatown neighborhoods, where there are plenty of great places to eat, ranging from inexpensive to really high end.

      I feel like all of that is a little vague, so if you have more specific questions, I’ll be happy to answer. I’ve lived in DC for… 20 years this month! Wow.

    4. Seal*

      I am also going to a conference in DC in October – perhaps we’re going to the same one!

      Temperatures in DC in October are generally in the mid to upper-60s and cooler at night, so you might want to bring a light jacket. Good walking shoes are a must. Since you’re planning to go to the Vietnam Memorial you might consider visiting the other memorials on the National Mall as well. The various museums of the Smithsonian are on the Mall, too – plenty of things to see and do.

      An apple isn’t a great snack to eat on a plane; grapes, dried fruit or nuts pack better and are less noisy/messy. Also, bring your own empty water bottle and fill it after you go through security – much cheaper than buying a bottle of water from an airport vendor.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        +1 on bringing your own water bottle. Has to be empty going through security, but once on the other side, there are sinks and water fountains. Why pay $4 for a bottle of water? This will help you when you’re walking later, fill it up at your hotel before you head out. If you’ve got one of those canteens/commuter cups that can be refilled, you can keep some water on you all day.

        Also, when it comes to dressing, I personally prefer to wear looser clothing on the plane. So, I might wear khakis and then when I get where I’m going, get changed (if necessary) and wear the khakis again later. Some people can’t stand wearing the same clothes twice, though, so YMMV.

    5. Artemesia*

      When we take long flights, I always have carrot sticks, apple slices, granola bars and chocolate and sometimes sandwiches. Given the noise level of planes I doubt crunching on a carrot stick is going to drive anyone insane, but if it does, ahh well.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Years ago, I bought a pair of those Bose noise cancelling headphones to use on planes — I used to travel more than I do now. I’ve noticed that it’s much better for listening to the in-flight entertainment (if there is any), the volume doesn’t have to be as high to hear it. And that I find I have more energy/am not as tired getting off the plane when I use them. I think that maybe there’s so much white noise on the plane that some part of me is struggling against/absorbing all the time and it wears me out. Sounds weird, but I swear I feel better when I use them. Not recommended in general because $$$ and there are probably other brands that do the same for less if you do your research.

          1. Traveler*

            I agree. They are expensive, but if you travel enough or have other uses for them I think its a good investment. At the very least just grabbing a set of the cheap earplugs that are disposable cuts down considerably on the noise around you.

    6. Strategies for redesigning the entire manifest universe*

      I wouldn’t have a problem with you eating an apple if you were sitting next to me. It wouldn’t be my first choice, though – I’d go for cookies/crackers/candy bars or somesuch, myself.

      I moved away from the DC area in 1990, but some things I remember that are almost certainly still true:

      – Don’t underestimate the size of the Mall. It’s 1.9 miles between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. It is worthwhile to check to make sure that the things you want to see are indeed available and open at the time when you plan to stop in.

      – The Vietnam Memorial is an almost unbelievably strong, compelling experience. Be prepared.

      – Traffic tends to be pretty awful.

    7. katamia*

      For plane snacks, I’d stay away from things with strong smells in general because so many people have different reactions to different smells, and a lot of people are already not feeling great when they’re flying. Although apples don’t smell all that strong normally, if you do decide to bring one (and with the background noise from the plane, I don’t think it would be all that loud), I’d make sure to bring a sealable sandwich bag for the core because that one can get a little smelly. Nuts and pretzels and chips aren’t all that loud, really, so you could try those.

      As far as what to see, the Freer and Sackler galleries are my favorites, and they’re both pretty small (they’re in the same building) so they’re not a huge commitment either.

    8. Dan*

      Frankly, eat what you want on the plane. Everything you do will probably piss somebody off, and since you can’t make them all happy, the least you can do is make yourself happy.

      As far as October goes, it’s one of my favorite months in the city. June/July/August tend to be hot as balls (90 plus temps with 90 plus humidity) and this midwesterner thinks that’s unbearable, and I’m going on 17 years of living here. January, Februrary, and parts of March are the worst, low temps can be in the single digits, and sometimes with some good wind blasts coming through.

      October will generally be warm enough to enjoy being out doors without being uncomfortably hot. In fact, when my parents come, I alwasy encourage them to visit in Sept or Oct. It’s past thunderstorm season, so you shouldn’t have to worry about too much rain, and it will also generally be too early for any snow.

      Bring a jacket if you’re from Florida or San Diego. Bring your shorts and a tank top if you’re from Boston.

      1. Bea W*

        Bring your shorts and a tank top if you’re from Boston.

        This advice also applies to visiting Louisiana at any time of year.

      2. Honeybee*

        I came to say this. There’s someone on the planet who will be annoyed by virtually every possible snack out there. Avoid the really smelly ones, but otherwise, do you. If someone’s apple-biting is really bugging me (which I can’t imagine on an airplane, which is already very loud) I’ll just put on my headphones.

      3. Sunflower*

        Agree with all of this but esp. your first line. Flights have hundreds of people on them and if I’m stuck on a long one, you better believe I’m eating what I want.

        Also it’s my firm belief if a person is bothered by sounds of people eating on a plane, they should bring headphones/earbuds with them. I have heard much much worse noises on a plane than carrots crunching.

    9. Bea W*

      I do this all the time. In fact, I am doing it in Sep in DC .

      Weather in October – could be really hot or really cool or both. For October I would expect to have to pack for both hot or cool days and cool nights, a light jacket, and maybe an umbrella depending on what I see on the forecast. Clothing you can layer is good for that time of year. Check the extended forecast before you leave. It will give you a good idea of what to expect on average.

      I like to bring things that won’t wrinkle easily when packed. Most hotels have an iron and ironing board in the room, but who wants to spend time ironing in their hotel room? Not me! Pack comfortable shoes for your touristy days. You will probably do a lot of walking.

      If you are staying near the Zoo, super awesome place for a peaceful evening walk. During the day it can be crowded, but after the indoor exhibits close (around 4 PM usually) the crowds thin out. It’s totally free, and it’s not unusual to see joggers and walkers going through in the evening. I totally miss this. :( I live down the street from a large zoo, but I can’t just walk through casually whenever I want without laying out about $18 a pop. I was totally spoiled in DC. I also just highly recommend the Zoo in general, but I love seeing animals.

      Since you are planning a trip to the Vietnam memorial, may as well hit up other things in the area, Lincoln Memorial, reflecting pool (caution, gross – full of poop!), the other war memorials, the Washington momument, those things are all walkable from each other. Check for events on the weekend you will be there. There are often fun events taking place outdoors or connected with a particular site or group of sites. I remember being in town for something that took me through Embassy Row, and the embassies were having some kind of open house thing going on that day, which would have been really cool if I didn’t have to be somewhere else.

      There is a ton of stuff to see in DC. Do some research online in advance and figure out what you want to see most. There are umpteen hundred museums and things, and they are all free. I highly recommend the Holocaust Museum as something everyone should see at least once.

      I get hungry frequently. Apples should be fine on a plane. If you are worried about the noise biting into a whole apply makes, bring slices in a bag or small container. I find nutrition/energy bars handy, since when I am hungry snacking on a bag of pretzels or chips really isn’t really going to do it for me. Small oranges or clementines are really handy. I’d avoid bananas just because they don’t pack well. Grapes in a baggie are awesome. Dried fruits are awesome. You can even toss pretzels and dried fruit into the same bag.

      I was on one flight where someone opened a bag of stinky cured meat. I don’t remember what it was exactly, but it was definitely packaged meat and definitely not plane friendly.

      It will be pretty easy to find a grocery or convenience store where you can stock up on snack foods and drinks or bottled water to have with you when you go out. You don’t have to carry huge bags of anything onto the plane with you unless you really really want to.

    10. JC*

      I live in DC, and I think October (early Oct especially) has the best weather of the year! High temps are usually in the 60’s/70’s, occasionally in the 80’s, but there is usually one dreary low-50s-and-raining weekend every year. Yes it can be 90 degrees and it can snow, but both of those are pretty rare.

      I’d definitely bring your own water, and the snacks you are planning sound like a great idea. Bring walking shoes. The touristy area around the mall is big, although now there is a $1 Circulator bus you can take to travel around the mall.

      Some of my fave on-the-mall things:
      American History Museum
      Hirschhorn Museum/Sculpture Garden if you like contemporary art
      FDR Memorial (near Jefferson Memorial)

      Some nice off-the-mall things:
      Phillips Collection (near Dupont Circle, not free)
      Hillwood Estates (upper NW) and Dumbarton Oaks (Georgetown)-two nice gardens, not free
      American Art Museum (Gallery Place, can walk from the mall)
      Post Office Museum (Union Station)

      If you’re the type who likes to walk around new cities and see the architecture, I’d recommend doing that too in residential neighborhoods. I live here and still like doing that. Some neighborhoods have Neighborhood History Trails that you can follow to read about the history and that will take you through residential architecture (http://www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/neighborhood-heritage-trails). There also might be street festivals in October. Have fun!

  18. trill*

    I’m at the airport on my way home from vacation in Venezuela. It is a country with many problems and struggling infrastructure but I enjoyed my two week there so much! The people are wonderful and love their country while recognizing its problems, and the places I went are so beautiful. If anyone has seen the movie “up” it is just like that at mount roraima and angel falls. I really hope I can go back again soon!

    1. Amy UK*

      Did you go to Caracas at all, or just head straight to the falls and other smaller places? When we did Central America, I remember pretty much every capital was sketchy and full of people who’d been mugged (in the main centres anyway, the wealthier suburbs were nice) but we didn’t linger and headed straight out for the countryside and smaller cities and had an amazing time.

      I absolutely adored Colombia, and I’ve been told Venezuela is similar but even more gorgeous. I’d love to visit, and you’re the first person I’ve come across with first hand experience!

  19. ginger ale for everyone*

    Also, since it primarily a business trip, I will be wearing skirts and dresses a lot. Are panty hose expected in DC? They aren’t in my town and I haven’t worn any in about 10 years or so.

    1. nep*

      Used to live in DC — not been there for years…but I can’t imagine hose are expected anywhere these days. Anyone?

        1. nep*

          Perhaps it’s my computer — going to restart. For some reason nothing happens when I click on ‘reply’ to reply to a comment.

        2. nep*

          Weird — I had put that comment about the ‘reply’ thing at end.
          Anyway — hose. Same here — I’ve not touched a pair for years and years. Can’t imagine pulling on a pair of hose ever again.

    2. hermit crab*

      Nah, not if it’s warm enough out (which it certainly can be here in October). Everyone I know who wears dresses goes bare-legged in the summer and wears opaque tights in the winter.

  20. ginger ale for everyone*

    Best movie of the summer discussion anyone?

    I loved Spy, Trainwreck, Ant-Man, Avengers- Age of Ultron, and the Man From UNCLE. Man from UNCLE was the best for me. I have seen it more than once and it is the one I cannot stop recommending.

    Okay movies – Mr. Holmes – nice but forgettable. Rogue Nation was all right but nothing new. Minions was darling but I wouldn’t see it again at the dollar theater but perhaps if it was on regular tv.

    Worst movies – Hot Pursuit, Hitman Agent 47. Both should get Razzies.

    1. ginger ale for everyone*

      Forgot to rate Shaun the Sheep – okay but listening to the comments from the little children in the audience was hilarious. One little boy didn’t understand what the previews were and kept telling his mom that they were in the wrong theater. Another kept asking his dad if so and so was a good guy or a bad guy. Another asked his mom whether or not he liked the movie and was happy to find out that yes, he did like the movie.

    2. ginger ale for everyone*

      Also Tommorrowland was a bit forgettable. Okay but I think it was aimed at a kids audience so it missed the mark with me, despite having George Clooney.

    3. Colette*

      Loved Spy and Age of Ultron. Antman was too far fetched for me – not the shrinking or ant communication, they lost me when he fell into a heat vent and landed on a carpet. Inside Out was good (especially if you know 11 year old girls). Minions had its moments. Magic Mike was pretty much what you’d expect. Cinderella was also what you’d expect.

    4. Anon123*

      I agree with with your rankings! The Man from UNCLE seems to be very underrated but I enjoyed it a lot.

      1. ginger ale for everyone*

        I am hoping it does well enough for a sequel. I liked it so much that I am already planning to give the dvd out to certain family members when it comes out.

    5. Cath in Canada*

      I haven’t seen any of those yet (I don’t go to the movies much), but I absolutely LOVED Jurassic World. I’m a big fan of the B-movie style creature feature genre, and loved the original Jurassic Park. I could barely keep from squealing with delight all the way through Jurassic World! There was nothing quite as scary as the raptors in the kitchen from the original, but it was AWESOME.

      1. Windchime*

        The raptors in the kitchen gave me nightmares. Literally. The first Jurassic Park was the best (and scariest) movie I had seen in a long, long time when it first came out. I still haven’t seen Jurassic World but I want to.

      2. Mimmy*

        I loved Jurassic World. Very intense at times. Saw the original JP years ago, but don’t remember enough to compare.

    6. Nicole*

      I agree that Hot Pursuit was terrible. It’s the first movie in a long time I’ve actually shut off without caring how it ended.

      I enjoyed Minions, Inside Out, Age of Ultron, Trainwreck, and Rogue Nation. I’m looking forward to seeing Spy when it comes out on DVD. Glad to hear people liked Man from UNCLE since my hubby wants to see it and I’ll be watching with him.

      Which upcoming movies are you looking forward to seeing? Right now I don’t have many in the next few months except Hotel Transylvania 2.

      1. ginger ale for everyone*

        I have a friend who is a movie critic and she saw Everest and said it was great and will do very well at Oscar time but that she would never ever want to see it again so I am divided on that.

        Transporter Refueled might be fun since I enjoyed the original but I haven’t seen a preview for it yet.

        The Martian has a good preview so I want to see that one. Matt Damon is a favorite so I might be biased.

        Peanuts is yes for me. I just hope Lucy gets a lot of screen time. She’s my favorite.

        SPECTRE – a Bond movie – must see for me.

        Sisters – good preview, likeable stars. Will see.

        The one about the guy who is a high wire walker. Will skip. I hate heights and the previews made it seem as if you are on the wire with him. I found myself getting nervous just watching it. So major points for realism there.

        What about everyone else?

        1. Windchime*

          I’ve only been to two movies this summer and I thought they were both almost laughably bad. Magic Mike II and whatever the newest Terminator movie was called.

    7. Traveler*

      Mad Max by a long shot. I am an action movie addict and that movie was a breath of fresh air, for a dozen reasons.

      1. Goliath Gary Willikers*

        Seconded! I don’t even typically think of myself as an action movie fan, but Mad Max reminded me how awe-inspiring and beautiful a perfectly done action movie can be. Completely engrossing and some of the best world-building of the year.

        (Also, I don’t have a ton of friends who saw it, but literally everyone who did saw it more than once. Pretty cool.)

          1. Goliath Gary Willikers*

            Nice. :) Catch it in theatres if you can. It’s one of those films where it’s really worth it to get the full experience.

    8. Noah*

      I thought Hot Pursuit was funny, but definitely not the best movie ever or one I’ll be buying on DVD. Jurassic World was by far my favorite summer movie.

      I was really disappointed with Fantastic Four, it just seemed so dreary.

    9. Strategies for redesigning the entire manifest universe*

      Some of my favorites: It Follows, Ex Machina, Mad Max, Age of Adaline, and John Wick. And 22 Jump Street.

      Spy was surprisingly good. And – perhaps this is a case of “low expectations” – Paul Blart, Mall Cop 2 had its moments (for instance, there’s a security guard who works at the Wal-Mart in King’s Landing).

      Meh: The DUFF, Avengers – Age of Ultron, Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (which I wanted to like a lot), Tomorrowland, Chappie.

      Losers: Jupiter Ascending, Mortdecai, Maggie (just: ugh),

      I realize I’m playing a bit fast and loose with the dating – some of these are more correctly 2014 than 2015.

    10. Ann Furthermore*

      I’ve only seen kids’ movies lately, but my favorite by far was Inside Out. So imaginative and cute, and such a great way to help kids understand emotions. There was also a short Pixar film right before it called Lava, about a lonely volcano that wants someone to love. My friend and I, who met up with our kids to see a movie, were both tearing up by the end.

    11. littlemoose*

      Spy was really funny. Trainwreck was too. We just saw Jurassic World recently and thought it was ok – the plot got (even more than expected) ludicrous in the second half.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I only go to the cinema for huge blockbusters or anything effects-heavy I want to see on the big screen. I did see Mad Max: Fury Road and LOVED IT. After I got out, I wanted to drive really fast and blow up everything. :D

  21. Stephanie*

    Sort of similar to Audiophile’s question, I’m toying with moving out (living with family now). I don’t make me enough to live alone in a safe area, but could swing a roommate. Roommate situation would possibly come with its own set of issues. What’s leading me to consider this is that my commute’s driving me batty. I’m doing ~80 mi round trip every night and at odd times (I work swing or graveyard shift). There’s only really traffic on the way in when I work swing shift and this is all high-speed highway driving. My car is relatively fuel efficient, but I’m still filling up about once every three days driving that much.

    Commuting issues aside though, I’m aware that there are probably little expenses that are covered (like grocery staples and utilities) that I’d have to cover.


    (And yes, looking for a better paying job. Trying to figure out something in the interim.)

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’ve had roommate for the last 10 years and it’s pretty good most of the time. I was so keen to move out of home and could rent a whole place by myself.

      Moving closer to work sounds like a winner to me, a shorty commute and less money on gas can’t be bad.

    2. ginger ale for everyone*

      When I had a roommate, it was good for me. I forced me to be more clean and to eat healthier (I can eat a sleeve of crackers by myself but if I know someone might judge me for it, I won’t). The money savings were awesome as well. I thought I would love living alone but so far, it is just okay – neither good or bad.

    3. hermit crab*

      I think it depends on what you want to prioritize — you’re trading in your long commute, but you’re getting a living situation that comes with some uncertainties in return. If you are OK with that, then go for it! Not having to deal with the commute will probably free up some mental energy that you can apply to having a roommate. Just make sure to do all the common sense stuff like agree in advance how you’re going to cover chores, shared expenses, noise, guests, etc. The last time I had a roommate we were like “Nah, we’re both adults, we’ll just deal with stuff as it comes up” and that was a BAD idea.

    4. Anon123*

      I’m an introvert and prefer staying home on Saturday nights and watching netflix with friends or reading. When I have had roommates, they always criticized me for not going out enough (or I would hear them talking about me to their friends). You might want to take that into consideration if you are a home-body.

      1. Honeybee*

        I’ve had one roommate who was like that (and I’m not exactly an introvert – I just went out less than she did), but the others I’ve had have pretty much left me alone.

    5. Artemesia*

      I think with a roommate, the key is to really hammer out all the details. You can read the things that drive people crazy: food poaching, leaving messes in common spaces, overnight or frequent visitors that monopolize the common space, inviting strangers in after a night at a bar, different notions of cleanliness and housekeeping. If you find a reasonably sane person and then hammer these out and then importantly agree you will sit down once a week the first month and then once a month after that to discuss how it is going and how to fine tune things so you don’t drive each other nuts, then you have laid the groundwork to deal with the aggravations.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yes to food poaching! In the days when I had roommates, we always agreed that we wouldn’t get bent out of shape if one of us, say, took a couple slices of bread or a glass of milk from the other, but if we ate the rest of something, we would replace it. On the occasions that I ate the rest of something, I would always make a point to stop on my way home the next day and pick up whatever I’d used the last of.

    6. Traveler*

      Its a toss-up I think, but presumably with family you don’t have to be polite when somethings bothering you either. With a roommate, unless you’re happy to be a very blunt person (and good for you if you are! I wish I was more often), you have to play the game of negotiating all the intricacies of an intimate relationship (being in each others space and being codependent on one another monetarily) while actually not knowing each other very well. For me it was tedious. In the end I’d say it was a toss up and if you come up better monetarily on living with a roommate that’s probably the way to go.

    7. Audiophile*

      Lol, we’re living the same life. I’m driving 80mi round trip, but I’m not working graveyard, I work 12-8. This comes with its own headaches since, that leaves me almost no time for a social life, but I’d be able to interview. My communte used to be a little shorter.

      I’d likely have to get a rommate if I stayed here in NY, not sure how it would work itself out if I moved.

    8. Stephanie*

      Thanks everyone! To clarify, I’ve had several roommates. I think it’s a wash financially given my current commute.

      Main hesitations:
      1. My weird hours. Just need to be clear I’ll be sleeping when this person works and vice versa.
      2. With past roommates, I get along with them amazingly well or it’s horrible. I think it’s because I’m ok being blunt. Downside is…I don’t pick up hints. If I’m living with someone who’s not great at being straightforward about roommate issues, I miss things (because I often would see the person only intermittently).

        1. Stephanie*

          Ha, if you want to! Although I think have some of the same issues as Florida, economically, though…

  22. Steve G*

    Urgh I feel a bit scammed by all of these online hotel sites and how had to postpone a trip by a week….I was on Traveladvisor looking at one lovely place with high reviews, thought I booked it, and suddenly the reservation was for a hotel with horrible ratings, including notes about bed bugs, ants, and everyone complaining about really bad smelling rooms. I was very confused how that happened, I guess its just because they have too much going on on their searches, so cancelled. I go to another site and pick another hotel in the same area that had much fewer, but better ratings. Well, only yesterday did I realize that both hotels were the same place with slightly different pics and a different name. I spent like 3 hours on hold with various people and calling back multiple times to get them to give me a refund. No apologies and of course I am crazy for believing the 100 or so negative reviews on the other site. Well if the old name was so successful, why did you have to change it and start fresh on other sites? So pissed……

    1. Traveler*

      I recommend using Oyster.com. I hate recommending it because I think TripAdvisor is an obnoxious juggernaut in the travel industry, and I believe they own Oyster – but they post HD pictures of all corners of the hotel. For someone like me who is OCD about the places they shell out money to stay in while traveling, I love it. They definitely don’t have every hotel, but quite a few.

      1. steve g*

        Wait, oyster..the same thing that does ebooks does travel too?

        I was seriously thrown off by traveladvisor because there was tooo much stuff going on and the icons for hotels move or are so close you risk clicking the wrong one…and I’m not a person with a reading or a learning disability or who is technically inept….

        1. fposte*

          If this is Tripadvisor, I mostly only use map mode to zoom in really closely, and then switch to list mode. I’m with you on the clicking on maps.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Best: I saw some awsome shows at the fringe in Edinburgh and decided on a last minute trip to Glasgow whilst I was in a Scotland, it’s a pretty cool city with a lot going on.

      Worst: well the weeks over and I’ve got to go back to work :(

        1. Apollo Warbucks*

          Thanks the fringe always good.

          In all the years Ive visited the fringe I’ve never been to Glasgow, I’ve got to say I really like it, there such a good vibe to the City.

    2. Carrie in Scotland*

      Worst: only worked 2 weeks so only got paid for 2 weeks. Shame my bills won’t halve themselves, hey? & also since I’ve moved my expenses have increased (due to rent and mortgage on old place).

      Best: seeing a friend for coffee, going out with co-workers after work.

    3. Mimmy*

      BEST: Started my third class in my grad certificate program, one that I’ve been eagerly waiting to take. Overall, it looks interesting, particularly once we get past the dull intro material.

      WORST: So far, our professor seems to be very hands-off and not very responsive. He’s already managed to confuse us with the weekly timelines and has yet to clarify it (yet, he responded to a question about our text). Sigh. After this, I think I’ll go back to in-person courses if I ever decide to do any more school…this online stuff, while very convenient, is hard when you rely on all the nuances face-to-face communication offers.

    4. Jazzy Red*

      Worst & Best – my 13 year old dog has been eating less and losing weight, and while he was at the vet for dental cleaning, he began walking in circles with his head tilted, and couldn’t balance to lift his leg. He was diagnosed with Vesticular Syndrome which sometimes clears up on its own, sometimes get worse to where the dog can’t even walk, and sometimes stays the same. Vet gave him a steroid shot and he’s doing much better! He still tilts his head and doesn’t jump up on the bed or couch any more. I have to sit on the floor for our cuddling sessions, but that’s OK with me. I’m just cherishing every minute we have together.

      Another best for the week – our pastor resigned from our church and we are now in a state of transition. MANY members who left are back (including me), and
      we’re starting work to bring the congregation together, restore some the things that former pastor did away with, and make our church what it’s supposed to be.

      1. nep*

        Oh I’m glad your dog’s doing better after the shot. Wonderful that you’re cherishing every moment. All the best.

    5. anonymous daisy*

      Best – found out that every department hates the IT department with a passion. I found this out by speaking to an IT person. I am glad it is not our perception. That IT person is looking to get out.

      Worst – the IT department isn’t going to change. The IT person I was speaking to says that the department is poisoned from the head down. The top person won’t do anything about the bad employees and the bad employees make it difficult for the good employees to work there. Turn over is atrocious.

    6. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Best: I got a last-minute invitation to attend a special dinner with some new friends, and I had SUCH a great time! Finally branching out in my new city (after a whole year) and doing stuff without my man. Feels good.

      Kinda bad: Dinner meant that I had to skip yoga, which I’d been thinking of attending with another new friend.

      Better: Both of these things mean I’m making friends. So even the “kinda bad” isn’t awful.

      Worst: I’m dealing with a team issue at work that’s threatening to turn me into a venty hosebeast.

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        Would it make you feel better to know that the phrase “venty hosebeast” is the ray of sunshine in my not too good day? Thank you!

    7. nep*

      Bests: Finally setting up some training in Olympic lifts and some other crossfit work.
      A client gave me a kick-ass gift today. Just because. Utterly cool.
      No worst.

    8. Jennifer in TX*

      Best–school started for my son, bringing much needed structure to his days.

      Worst–I teach so I had to go back to work, too.

    9. Ruffingit*

      BEST: I’ve done nothing today, but lay in bed. It was glorious. Now I am laying in a bubble bath.

      WORST: Not looking forward to going to work on Monday. Need the weekend to last longer.

    10. Liane*

      BEST: Went to a 1 day comics con with daughter today. Met several of her friends, talked with a lot of people, just had fun. Might even get a bit of copy editing/proofreading work out of it.

      WORST: College Son has had the *Worst* cough for a week. He won’t go to doctor and is adult so we can’t make him. And begging hasn’t worked. It has been getting a bit better, but still.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        There’s some nasty cold going round here that leaves you with a very ugly cough. My coworker coughed incessantly last week until I thought I’d go batty. I know he couldn’t help it and it was worse for him than for me, but still. It will clear up eventually, if that’s what it is.

    11. Ann Furthermore*

      Worst: Had to travel for work, when I really didn’t want to.

      Best: Was able to keep up with my step count almost every day while I was gone, by taking a few short breaks during the day to go for a walk, and then using the treadmill at the hotel to get to my total.

    12. Elkay*

      Best: Undertook a DIY project and did it all on my own (with minor swearing)
      Worst: Every service I’ve interacted this week has been awful. I feel crappy for getting angry with people on the phone because I know they’re just doing their job.

    13. Elizabeth West*

      Worst: I had a couple of days where I just wanted to check out completely. Come home, pack a bag, leave the kitty’s food with the neighbor, and get on a plane for New Zealand or something (as far away as possible!) and never return. Everything hurt in body, mind, and spirit, and I saw no end to this dull existence. It didn’t help that Hard-to-get-into Literary Mag hung onto my story for AGES and still rejected it. Way to get my hopes up. :(

      Best: Went out last night with nerd buds to the arcade and an Irish-themed pub. The arcade was kinda boring (what happened to me being able to play games for hours at a time?!?) but the pub was fun and I had a very large Guinness stout and an excellent burger. :)

  23. TheLazyB (UK)*

    I am totally wiped out today, so tired I feel ill. I was supposed to be going to a friend’s party tonight and staying over at hers, she lives about an hour away on the train. But I quickly realised this morning that I wanted to cry at the idea of travelling – I would love to be at the party but it just costs too much energy.

    So I told her and promised to visit soon. And I think knowing I wasn’t going to go and exhaust myself made me feel better and then I started thinking maybe I should go? And then I started thinking about how I’d made a decision to look after myself and that was a good thing, and thinking about how my mum if I message and tell her how I’m feeling about something will quite often try and rationalise it or tell me how it’s not that bad really…..

    .. wow. I suddenly realise why i am like I am. My mum spends most of her energy overriding her instincts. Fposte said in reply to another commenter a while back ‘can’t be a rescuer if you go down with the ship’; my mum seems utterly incapable of recognising this, to the extent I am scared she’ll kill herself looking after her elderly parents.

    So. Yeah. It was like a dual recognition. I need to actually learn to listen yo myself: go to bed when I’m tired and not put obstacles in my own way, accept my own feelings, that kinda thing. But also, it must be so exhausting for my mum to survive, overriding every tiny bit of self-preservation instinct she has with ‘care-for-others’ instinct. I mean last time I was at theirs I got up with my DS. When she got up she was like ‘you should have woke me up!’ and I was like… why, I’m tired but you are clearly exhausted too or you would have woke up (he’s loud!). Why is my comfort more important than yours?

    So. Yeah. Just wondered if this resonated with anyone else.

    I am going to bed now (9.07 in England, I actually planned to go earlier!) and plan to spend a good chunk of time resting tomorrow, DH is taking DS to the park. I need to look after myself before I make myself ill.

    1. TootsNYC*

      Aren’t those insights amazing? And i wonder sometimes why it took me so long to get there.

      Good on you for spotting these, and for consciously decided to NOT follow your mom’s footsteps.

      (also–exhausted people who think they should ALSO be awakened to “help” you with what is essentially a not-so-difficult one-person job? They probably get a huge ego boost from thinking of themselves as “so helpful!! to everyone!!” I get hugely skeptical and scornful about that attitude. Not to them, of course, but I completely dismiss their comments.)

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        I’ve been going through stages of realising this for years. I think 20-25 years ago I read an article about how Princess Di (as she then was) had a martyr complex and recognising my mum in the description; I was 13-14, maybe.

        Mum was saying she should have woken her up so I could go back to bed rather than to help me. If she’d said ‘so I can play with my awesome grandchild who I don’t see very often’ that would have been different!

        I have to say, 6 mo of therapy has really helped with all this! Finished now. I kind of wish I could tell my therapist ;)

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I think we have to learn about timing and pacing. I have a friend whose “on” switch is always “on”. Sleep? What’s that? Then I see crankiness, mood swings and so on- the dots never connect for my friend. Lack of sleep equals cranky/moody equals effects your relationships with others and so on.

      OTH, we can exhaust ourselves by overthinking things and attaching additional weight where there does not need to be extra complexity. That is another source of fatigue.

      When my husband was first diagnosed diabetic, the doctor talked about maintaining the same activity levels at the same times each day. For example, if he started his weekday at 6 am then worked from 8-5, came home and did low key activities until bed time- then that is what his weekend should look like also. Concentrate the bulk of the activities between 8-5 then wind down the day and do low key things in the evening.
      I love this idea. And when I do it, I feel great. It’s not always possible though, especially if I am taking care of a sick family member. I hate the idea of being rigid about my schedule, though. I wrestled with this debate for quite a while. I got into my 40s and decided that I cannot offer anyone 24/7 availability. I will help as much as I can, but I cannot turn myself into a person who needs the hospital bed beside you.
      So I started looking at balance. If I am going to do an all day activity today, tomorrow is going to be an easier, quieter day. It has to go that way. Sometimes I know that I have to go to X event which will involve 100 miles of driving- plus time consuming event. The day before and the day after, I make myself plan slightly slower days.
      All this was radical for me. I used to do 20-22 hour days and then wonder why I could not keep up. It felt like I should be able to keep up. Taking care of sick people was the biggest chunk of time. Then one day I realized that we are all each responsible for our quality of life right up to the very end. No one can inhale/exhale for us. We have to do that on our own. Likewise, there are many other things we have to do for ourselves to maintain our health, our lifestyle and our quality of life. People cannot do it for us and I cannot do it for other people.

      When it comes to parents, it’s tough. It’s a relationship like no other in life and it is very easy to feel like we owe them endlessly. A debt we can never pay in full. One doctor told me that “in our parents’ final illnesses, the seed is set for our own final illness.” The attachment/debt can feel that great that it causes our own health to go down hill. Doctors know this, they see it over and over. I think, in general, people are becoming more and more aware of this trap. And you are a good example. You are watching your mom wear down taking care of her parents and thinking “this just is not doable”. Right. It’s not doable. Do what you can as you can. That’s it. And that applies to life in general, too. Yes, your energy level will come back up surprisingly fast when you back out of a Big Commitment. It’s because you needed to back out and you needed the down time. The tricky part is not to overdue because of that sudden energy, remain low key and do stuff to take care of yourself so that next time you will be able to go.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I will help as much as I can, but I cannot turn myself into a person who needs the hospital bed beside you.

        So much truth here. One of the things I realized in my 30s was that I was OK with saying no, I can’t help with {insert whatever issue/problem/want/need} here. That act of saying no was so freeing that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t done it before. Felt so great. It helped me to build a lot more me time into my schedule, which has made my life so much better.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          That hospital bed bit, I skipped over it somehow in NSNR’s post (too busy being impressed by the rest of it!), so I’m really glad you reposted it. It’s so true it stopped me in my tracks.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I was in my early 20s. Should have the energy to do stuff, right? yeah,okay. Both my parents were in the hospital. (I’m an only child.) Two different hospitals, that were 45 minutes apart. I ran and ran and ran. I stopped being able to feel parts of my body. I could not remember the last time I ate or went to the bathroom. I put myself on a four hour schedule, every four hours I went to the bathroom and had a bite to eat. I cannot believe I was so foolish- I KEPT going. Finally, I just dropped. I blacked out because of exhaustion. I was laying in the ER STILL telling myself, “I should be able to this.” (Yes, I was a very dense person in those days.)

          Then IT happened. If you turn yourself into a person that needs a brick wall dropped on your head, then that brick wall will accommodate you. I went back home, said nothing about the ER visit and my family said to me “you are a rotten daughter, you do not do enough for your parents”. That was it. I was done. A wise person explained to me that my parents had fallen into a hole that required dozens and dozens of people to pull them out of it. There were medical people, there were legal people, there were lawn care people, dog care people, bank people, real estate people, etc. It was an army of people. And I was trying to do this myself.

          My take away: We are each individually responsible for our quality of life right up to our dying day. There is that point of no return, where our health/finances/etc tank and we cannot bounce back anymore.
          Applied this to my own life: My turn will come, sometime waaaay in the future.;) No one is going to inhale/exhale for me. No one is going to prevent me from losing my house, my health, heck, even the dog is up for grabs. It is up to me to do all this, to take care of myself so I do not end up needing that army of people, or maybe only need that army for the last few months or so. The key is to start now and do things daily to fortify/invest in me, before reaching the point of no return.

          It was a really hard lesson for me and it has profoundly changed my life.

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            Thank you NSNR. Thank you for all the wise comments you leave here. I can’t be the only one who is incredibly grateful :)

          2. Tris Prior*

            Thank you. This resonates a lot for me. My mother has literally no one except me and thinks I should be able to do everything for her because I am 40 and she is 70 so therefore I must have unlimited energy. And she’s perfectly healthy! She just doesn’t want to deal with things. God help me if she ever gets sick.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              I don’t want to elaborate too much on what I saw/did. I am going to say it this way:

              Thank you for thinking about this and thank you for discussing it. It is something our society needs to talk about. And finally, thank you, for letting me see something good come out of an incredible (to me) situation.

      2. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Honestly every time you post I am so impressed by your insights (on my posts and others’). Thank you.

        Part of the problem is that when you’re that exhausted, you can’t see what’s obvious. I know I have that problem!

        That thing about activity levels, I think there’s a lesson in there for me somewhere. Or more than one. 1) actually I shouldn’t be totally exhausted by the time the weekend arrives, I know I’ll be woken by my 4yo at 6am so can’t exactly catch up on sleep! 2) I shouldn’t start big tasks at 9.30pm when bedtime is 10. And yeah, my mum offers 24/7 availability. She’s one of 6, too, which kind of makes it worse – although only two still live close by. My mum would totally inhale and exhale for us all if she could/we let her. It’s actually exhausting on the receiving end, too. I do sometimes wonder what my dad would be like if my mum was able to just chill.

        I feel like I want to verbal-diarrhoea agree with everything you say but one last thing – about your last thing – YES!! I’ve had a low-level headache this last week after 9 hours sleep, and feel much better. But I am still finding myself snapping at my small child, so obviously I still need a bit more rest :-/ very important point. I’ve never really believed it before :-/

        1. Not So NewReader*

          One of the best pieces of advice I received was “do not feed into the energy bursts”. If you can go high, that means you can go low, picture a roller coaster. Yes, your 9:30 at night example is a great example. I can remember cleaning mouse poop out of my kitchen cupboards at 2 am AND talking on the phone while I did it. Dang. How many things are wrong with this picture?

          I had to do it again a while later. I got my husband to help me, I did it on a Saturday afternoon AND we blocked off the mouse holes so we would not be doing it again very soon. It took longer than if I did it myself, but the results were longer lasting. Sometimes we rush from thing to thing and never think about how we could save ourselves so much effort.

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            Haha who on earth were you talking to?! I hope someone in a different time zone :)

            And yeah what Ruffingit said too! :)

            1. Not So NewReader*

              Same time zone. At one point I had people, various professionals, calling me up to 11 pm. So the only time I had to talk to family was after that. I would get on the phone with an aunt or uncle and we would talk and talk. That was my therapy when my dad had his final illness*. I worked 40 hours per week plus filled other family commitments. My time was very compressed.

              * Differences in families. My father’s family had a very different perspective from my mother’s family. Their reaction when he got really sick, was a healing thing for me to see.

    3. Tris Prior*

      My mother is the same way and I see myself going down that path. Actually started therapy to try and solve it. The worst part is that now that she’s older, she expects me to put my needs aside for her. Because that’s what she did for me as a child, for my grandma, and for my father. It literally landed her in the hospital a couple years ago but she seems to think that I can be more resilient than her.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        I’ve just had 6 months of therapy. It has really, really helped. Hope it helps you too.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        The baseline to target is to not allow your health or your finances to go under because of her needs. You feel your health slipping away from you- you are tired all the time, you are cranky/weepy/whatever, you have difficulty making decisions, you catch yourself worrying about things that you never worried about before – all these things are clues telling you that it is time to take a step back.
        And financially, that one is much easier to see. I skipped paying my rent so I had gas money to see my parents. I had no plan for food while I went home- I just prayed someone might pass food my way. Yeah, I was pretty dense, I kept driving the 200 miles each way to see my folks and help them. I think the attitude of my elders made me push myself. “You are twenty, you should handle all this and shame on you for feeling tired.” This led me to really looking at how we, as a society, treat our 20 somethings. Another convo for another day.

    4. GOG11*

      This reminds me of a quote I saw recently on Facebook (maybe via tumblr?), though I don’t know where it originated from.

      “You all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.”- Unknown

  24. Natalie*

    Mostly venting.

    My fiancés mother apparently expects that we will always go to them for visits, they won’t come here. Somehow it’s easier for us to travel? Uh, no. We’re all mid-adulthood (30s/50s), same level of mobility, everyone works full time, and we have the same number and type of pets that they have. Easier my butt.

    1. Colette*

      Well, it’s easier for her.

      I suggest you travel when you want to be there, and be happy with that. I.e. No resenting they don’t travel, just live life in your own terms.

      If they want to see you more often, you can invite them to visit you.

      (Its possible it is easier for you to visit – physical health isn’t the only limiter. Anxiety issues and finances are also factors.)

      1. Natalie*

        I would have the opposite of resentment if I didn’t see them much. :)

        Anxiety or other mental health issues are definitely in play, but she handles them by being controlling and borderline abusive, IMO, which makes me substantially less sympathetic or inclined to humor her. More concerned for fiancé, since he is her favorite target.

    2. ginger ale for everyone*

      JMO, if your fiance is her favorite target, why not ask him how often he wants to put up with it? Just have him deal with his mom and back him up with whatever decision he wants. He may not want her poison on his home turf. And try to visit less. No sense having more angst in your life.

    3. BRR*

      we used to be like this when we were two hours away from my in laws. We moved 9.5 hours away by car and I laid down the law then for my then bf visits were going to be split and he was in charge of making sure his parents knew that. Also that I wanted to see them but they needed to come to us.

      1. Neruda*

        We also live away from our in laws. It’s about an 8 hour drive. We mix it up between driving and flying depending on how much time we have. My MIL has never come to us in 3 years. I know its financial to a degree but I also think that it’s because when we go there we can also catch up with other friends/family (she still lives in his home town). Killing two birds with one stone and all that. My parents are great but when I lived interstate I always went to them too for the same reason. As much as it can be draining when you’re doing all the travel, this sort of made sense to me. And to be honest, I wouldn’t necessarily want my MIL to come and visit and have the pressure of entertaining her the whole time. At least when we go there we can break it up by visiting others.

    4. TootsNYC*

      It had never occurred to me to be grateful that my parents go to visit their kids–I thought that was always how it was, because while we did a lot more traveling to my grandparents’, they also came to visit us occasionally. At least until they got too elderly.

      Maybe that’s the thing to start saying: “Oh, are you guys too old to drive now? I hadn’t realized you were so elderly already. I didn’t think we’d’ need to start traveling to visit you until you were 75 or so, and driving was physically difficult, and you mind wasn’t as sharp. I didn’t realize that was happening to you now. Have you seen your doctor?”

    5. Not So NewReader*

      In the setting you describe, I could make that work in my favor. ;) Lots of things go into maintaining a relationship. It sounds to me like the travel issue is a symptom and not the actual problem.
      In a healthy, positive relationship the conversation would be quite different. I am thinking of my father. He became unable to do the looong drives any more. Friends were heading south. I asked them if my father could hitch a ride to his sister’s who was on their way south. “Heck, YEAH!” was the answer. And so he went- a few healthy, positive relationships going on there. I think it was the last time they saw each other.

      Yep, talking it over with your other half is the route to go. It could be that he sees less of his mother, or he goes by himself or he doesn’t go at all. And sometimes people need help in seeing when they are dealing with an abuser- which is a whole conversation by itself. The last option is that he goes by himself a few times and then realizes, “No, this does not work for me”. He may need to go through the learning curve on this. Hopefully, not and you can talk with him about it.

    6. Dan*

      My advice is to the question that wasn’t posed, but is most important: Are you and the fiance on the same page? That’s an absolute must. There’s many reasons why my last marriage didn’t work out, but one thing on my check list for the future is making sure that both parties are on the same page regarding family and that you have each other’s backs. You guys need to make sure you are there for each other (not saying you aren’t, but you don’t mention it at all either so I have no idea how he feels) and the rest of them can just deal.

      My parents moved away from my high school town after I left for college. For awhile, it was just them in that town. Visitng the town itself did nothing for me, no side trips, no secondary motives. I made it clear to my parents that I had an interest in seeing them once a year, and we weren’t always going to go to their town.

      My brother and his wife ended up moving about 15 minutes from my parents, and I’m a free bird now, so it really does make sense for me to go see them. I head over for one major holiday and that seems to work fine.

      1. Natalie*

        This is very important, yes. Part of the reason I came here to bitch, actually – I’m trying to be neutral about his mom to him. He knows I don’t like her but doesn’t need to hear it from me a lot, you know? Then he can have his negative feelings about her without being in a defensive position to me.

        We’re pretty much on the same page about the practicalities of when we will and won’t go. He takes her disappointment/shitiness more personally (no surprise there) which is just hard to watch.

  25. hermit crab*

    Travel tips time! I’m going to Vancouver Island in about a week (on my honeymoon!!!) — we are spending a few days each in Victoria and Ucluelet, for a total of about 10 days. Does anyone have any recommendations for things to do, places to eat, or particularly beautiful scenery to look at?

    1. Cath in Canada*


      Rent a kayak! It’s a very easy way to see some places that aren’t very accessible otherwise, and it’s pretty low-key – I’m very uncoordinated, and I can do it. Maybe a guided tour if you haven’t tried it before.

      Long Beach at Tofino is stunning. The nearby national park (I forget the name. Pacific something?) has a lovely boardwalk through the forest, with lots of interpretive signs etc.. As my (usually extremely prosaic) ex-boss said, “it’s magical! You expect to see Ewoks!”

      A lot of people go whale watching. I haven’t been – there’s some evidence that it changes the whales’ behaviour – but it’s very popular and by all accounts a fantastic experience. I think there’s a sailing ship tour from Victoria harbour that’s better (it’s the motors they don’t like). I’ve also been very lucky seeing whales from the ferry that goes to Vancouver – I think I’ve seen orcas 7 of the 8 times I’ve been on it.

      A floatplane tour would also be great fun.

      1. hermit crab*

        Ewoks! I love it.

        And I hadn’t thought about floatplane tours — thanks! I don’t really do boats because I’m pretty much the most seasick person ever, unfortunately (so definitely no whale watching, and we are flying into Victoria to avoid the ferry). But an aerial tour could be a great substitute!

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Try Harbour Air. They fly from Vancouver to Victoria (30 minutes downtown-to-downtown), and they do tours in Vancouver, so I assume they’d do something from Victoria too. I won’t ever quite forgive the pilot who almost gave me a heart attack though. I was flying from Victoria to Vancouver, and had earplugs in because those planes are noisy. About 10 minutes into the flight, we went into a steep descent, and the pilot turned around and started yelling something right into my face. I couldn’t hear him, and it seemed to take forever to fumble the ear plugs out of my ears. When I eventually got them out, I yelled “WHAT?!”, and he said “LOOK! ORCAS!”. There was a pod (surrounded by whale watching tour boats) surfacing right below us. He circled a few times so we could all get a good look, then continued on to Vancouver. I’d just about stopped freaking out by the time we landed, or watered, or whatever you call it in a float plane.

    2. E*

      Vancouver Island is one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been – have fun! Victoria is very cute, but I’ve only been there for a couple of hours so we only got the chance to wait around. Ucluelet is beautiful too, take every advantage to be outside!

    3. onnellinen*

      Congrats! I hope you have a great trip!

      I have not lived in Victoria in years, but still visit from time to time….
      – Hey Happy or Discovery for coffee
      – Zambri’s is great for italian food
      – Pizzeria Prima Strada is amazing
      – Beacon Hill drive in for an old-fashioned ice cream
      – I kind of love high tea at the Empress hotel – pricey, but a nice experience
      – if you want a great splurge meal, my money is on Brasserie L’Ecole
      – the sushi at Shizen Sushi is good
      – Chinatown is great for cheap meals (and cool area just to look around); the best BBQ pork is at Wah Lai Yuen
      – if you like vegetarian, Re-Bar is a great choice. Or you can get delicious baked goods at their sister bakery, Cascadia.
      – if you have time to explore beyond downtown, there are some great interesting neighbourhoods, like Cook St, and Oak Bay (which has a nice marina, and really nice views along the water). also nice views/walks along Dallas Road and Beacon Hill Park
      – Butchart Gardens is very pretty for a visit
      – if you enjoy museums, the Royal BC Museum is very good

      – the surfing in Tofino is world-class, so you may want to give that a try while you are in Ucluelet!

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I haven’t been for high tea at The Empress, but I’ve been in just to have a look around and it’s great!

        The Sticky Wicket is a good English-style pub in Victoria. They have volleyball courts on the roof! (not very authentically English, but whatever). Spinnakers is a nice brew pub, and I really like Ferris’s for seafood.

        If you like craft beer, Driftwood & Phillips are my favourite Vancouver Island breweries. Amazing IPAs and pale ales, among others.

    4. Hattie McDoogal*

      Munro’s Books in Victoria is wonderful. The Royal BC Museum is good though it depends a lot on what exhibits they have on (I went in the fall for the Viking exhibit, which was good, but I just checked and right now it looks like it’s a gold rush exhibit which sounds a lot less interesting). The Bug Zoo is surprisingly fun (and sounds like you’ll be there after the schools go back so it won’t be so busy). If either of you are scuba divers it seems that a lot of the shops that do trips out to the Gulf Islands are based in Victoria. And speaking of the Gulf Islands… those could be a good day trip — Saltspring Island is a pretty short ferry ride from Victoria and has a famous market on Saturdays.

      As for food, I know surprisingly little about Victoria restaurants. John’s Place is good for breakfast/brunch, though busy. I like The Reef, but if you’ve been to either of the locations in Vancouver it’s nothing different.

      And this probably goes without saying, but be prepared for rain! I usually have miserable weather when I go to Victoria.

      1. Goliath Gary Willikers*

        I saw the Gold Rush exhibit, and I enjoyed it, although there’s a lot more emphasis on the display of gold craftwork and artifacts than I expected. If you have any interest in that or in how speculation and get-rich-quick crazes have influenced the course of history (definitely my bag), it’ll probably be of interest.

        Even if it’s not, though, there’s still something like two other enormous floors of museum to explore. Definitely more than I had time to complete.

      2. onnellinen*

        John’s Place – great call! That place has been around forever. Lady Marmalade is also good for brunch.

    5. StillHealing*

      My favorite thing to do is High Tea at the Empress. Pricey but so yummy and fun! It’s been nine years since I last did it though. The double deck bus tour , the Christmas store, Irish store were favorites of mine. Sorry, don’t remember the names. There is an IMAX there in the Royal BC Museum so see if any of the current shows are something you’d like.

      Since you’ll be there a while consider going to Butchart Gardens a couple different days. There is a lot to see there and it is absolutely gorgeous.

      1. Tara*

        The Sooke Harbour House is a great restaurant, about a 45 minute drive out of Victoria. Bit pricey, but worth it!

        1. Gene*

          Absolutely! It’s also a great place to stay and the included breakfast and lunch are wonderful. If you’re going to be out for the day (say, at Buchart Gardens) they’ll pack you a sack lunch.

  26. Mimmy*

    Related to my response in the Best/Worst thread – and I hope this is okay for the weekend thread because it relates to school (but NOT to career prep or anything like that).

    More of a rant than anything else….

    I’m beginning to think that the quality of instruction varies by institution type. That probably goes without saying, but I’ve been a bit disappointed with the instructors in my online program. The content is usually really interesting; I just think a lot of these instructors are not natural instructors. I’m pretty sure they’re adjuncts. Maybe I’m just spoiled in that my Masters program was at a state university with a very heavy emphasis on research. Thus, the material was more scholarly and the professors were a lot more responsive to questions. Plus, it was all in-person. The program I’m in now offers in-person classes too, but I’d be paying out-of-state tuition since I’m in New Jersey and the school is in NYC (c’mon…dontcha know that NYC is just an extension of New Jersey?? j/k)

    Maybe online instruction is very different and that I need to lower my expectations, but….gahhhh!!! At the very least, instructors should explain when they are typically available to respond to questions, and keep to that as much as possible. We’re only a couple of days in, and he’s already managed to confuse us with the weekly readings and timeline of posts! I think the first one is due Monday at midnight, so some clarification would be nice!!

    Sorry that was so rambling.

    1. Eva*

      I am in my last semester of school and I have taken all my classes by distance (even though I live close to the university, I work full-time so it’s been my only option). I feel your pain, Mimmy, with hands-off, non-responsive lecturers. Some have been great and communicate really well with students, which makes for a fantastic learning experience. But the ones who can’t be bothered putting in any effort really ruin the experience, and I always find I learn a lot less in their classes. I wish that universities would get it together and either offer quality classes by distance, or not offer them at all.

    2. dear liza dear liza*

      I teach at the university-level online and your expectations are NOT too high. Teaching online is very different from teaching a f2f class and unfortunately, not all professors make the necessary adjustments. You have to be very organized and methodical (characteristics that academics generally are not known for.) Each week, I give my students checklists of what is exactly due when, and provide an orientation to the week video which explains how each assignment fits into the course objectives. I’m pleased when my students tell me how helpful this is, and really saddened to hear how many have had online classes without this type of structure.

      For future classes, see if your university uses Quality Matters (QM). Online courses which are QM-certified have been reviewed by 3 faculty members from outside the university and meet very rigorous standards in terms of design and organization. Not all a university’s courses will be QM-certified, but you should be able to find out which ones are. Good luck!

      1. Eva*

        dear liza dear liza, thank you for being one of the teachers who makes this kind of effort! I have had two lecturers who have made that kind of effort in the 9 classes I have taken by distance, and it makes the course SO much better! I also believe it should be the norm. I have written to the university to explain this, but I’m pretty sure it falls on deaf ears.

      2. Mimmy*

        Wow, I like your format! I think if more instructors did something like this, online learning would go a lot more smoothly. Another woman I met through the program said her summer class instructor did half-hour lectures each week. He sounds like a dream!

        P.S. Love your username – Is it by chance inspired by “Hole in the Bucket” by Harry Belafonte?

    3. Anx*

      Just an aside, I totally commiserate with paying out-of-state tuition in NJ for a NYC school. I mean, I totally think it’s reasonable, but NYC is far more accessible than many parts of NJ to NJ residents since the public transportation system is designed to transport you into/out of NY and PA instead of within the state.

      1. Mimmy*

        Hear, hear! And, given that I can’t drive, one would think I’d just go live in NYC. But I don’t think my husband would like that very much ;)

      2. Honeybee*

        It’d be great if NY and NJ had a reciprocity agreement like some Midwestern states do. I think Minnesota residents pay a lower tuition rate at Wisconsin state universities and vice versa – it’s higher than the resident rate, but lower than the full out-of-state rate. I also know that my Southern state had an agreement with a few neighboring states – if you wanted a major that wasn’t available at any school within 50 miles of you in-state, but was available at a university within 50 miles of you out of state, you could pay in-state tuition at that out-of-state school. Really benefited people who lived near state lines.

    4. blackcat*

      So I have lots of friends on the other side of this–adjunct instructors either in traditional classrooms or online.

      They’re generally paid between 2-5k per class, as contractors with no benefits. Many teach 4 classes f2f a semester or 5-6 online. It’s a huge workload, and it’s easy to mess up. That doesn’t excuse an instructor from being organized… but it does explain the disorganization. They might actually be good instructors in person or they might have been good instructors before getting sucked down the miserable black hole of adjuncting. It is a sad fate.

      I’m not sure if this is the case for the institution/program you’re at, but a lot of online programs that are just focused on professional type certifications are focused on revenue, even if they’re at public/nonprofit institutions. This is reflected in the way they treat students & instructors. It can be pretty broken and miserable for everyone involved.

      On the flip side of this, I have taught a class at an adjunct rate at a highly regarded institution with an emphasis on teaching. And I was paid nearly 9k for 1 class. I was expected to devote a HUGE amount of time to that class. I taught it damn well (the students raved in course evals). I probably wouldn’t have put my heart and soul into it if I was paid at 1/4 that amount–I’d be taking on more outside work to pay the bills. Or, frankly, I wouldn’t ever take the job, because I have high school teaching experience and that pays more than adjuncting.

      Your expectations are not too high. They’re where things would be in an ideal world, and certainly how things work at mid to top tier institutions. That said, I understand why an adjunct would fall short of that, and I have enough sympathy to spread around between overwhelmed adjuncts and poorly taught students.

      1. Dan*

        The market forces in higher ed are kinda fascinating. There’s not much students can do per se, if a student is dissatisfied with the service provided, you can’t really switch classes mid semester or drop the course for a full refund after the second week or so.

        IMHO, the biggest issues are the macro economic forces that create the situation where adjuntcs have to cobble together severeal $3k teaching gigs and deal with it. The system won’t change until the adjunts stand up and say “enough.”

        One of those macro economic forces is that universities pump out too many PhDs who then graduate and have few job prospects. This oversupply really drives wages down. And yes, I’m insinuating that if adjuncting conditions are tough, and the prviate sector has no demand (or doesn’t pay any better) then the person might have to drop out of the field all together.

        Not to mention that adjuncts typically “serve at the pleasure of the president” which means that if they voice displeasure, they find themselves with no contract the next semester.

        1. blackcat*

          There are some fields where there is a legitimate oversupply. But in certain fields, the current expansion of higher ed really does require a large labor force. The issue is that, for a host of reasons, the market rate for that type of work is very low. Many of the talented folks do leave the field all together (which is heartbreaking for many people after spend 10 years and all of their adult lives working towards a career in academia. It’s hard to walk away from that high of a sunk cost.). That leaves a lot of instructors who don’t have other options, and they’re often less skilled, less confident, or just demoralized. That’s certainly not always the case, but many universities get what they pay for.

          And not only do adjuncts get fired for rocking the boat, they very often get fired for offering rigorous courses. Their ability to get re-hired depends so heavily on student evaluations, and MANY students will give an instructor a low rating for having high standards/assigning a lot of work/not giving out all As. I’ve been insulated from that by having all of my higher ed experience be at elite institutions.

        2. Anx*

          To be honest, I do’t think there’s much wrong with creating an oversupply of PhDs in and of itself. Afterall, it’st he standard path to extend your education in most fields. To me, it’s the inflated job placement rates, lack of strong career services for graduate students, exploitation within universities of free labor of students doing as much as possible to pad their resumes/cvs, and the stigma of graduates working outside of academia (making it difficult to get back into academia and count on your network for recommendations outside of it).

          I think some students are starting to factor the working conditions of their instructors into their decisions on which school to attend, but it’s still a minority. I think the point you make about students’ options is really important. I can understand to some degree why instructors don’t want students to have a lot of control over their education and loathe references to them as consumers, but students really do need to be more empowered. At my school, you must drop before the first day of school to get a refund. You don’t get to meet your instructor or even have access to the syllabus before it’s too late to get a full refund. That’s pretty unconscionable to me.

          1. Mimmy*

            Our school is similar – the latest you can drop a class with a full refund is a day before the course becomes available. I forget how long you had in other schools, but that doesn’t seem right at all. I’d want about a week or two to determine if the course is the right fit. At least at the university where I got my Masters, you now can view course syllabi online, though for courses with several sections, I assume there’d be some variation.

        3. Honeybee*

          I agree with you, but I also add the caveat that it’s not that the demand isn’t there. It’s that administrators are overwhelmingly cutting full-time, tenure-stream lines and replacing them with adjunct and contingent positions (or requiring graduate students to teach ever more classes) because they’re cheaper. The market would be bad, but not abysmal, if all of these adjunct teaching jobs were replaced with full-time professors – TT or NTT. The other side effect is that it makes achieving a tenure-track job, and then tenure, a crazy pursuit that requires gargantuan amounts of work.

          I walked away – took my PhD into a non-academic job.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I took a few online courses. Two were… strange. In one case a person spoke up about the reading load. We could not cover that many pages each night, especially given the material. I don’t know why but once this person said something the prof made some big changes in the course work. The course went very well after that.

      The other prof was just plain weird. It was a matter of putting my teeth together and getting through it. I made a friend in the class and she would email me. She added to what I knew and this whole story got worse not better.

      I do know that with the online courses I took, some of the profs were quiet the first week or so. I don’t know if they were preparing materials to stuff the pipeline for the semester or if they were just waiting for us to start talking to each other.
      It’s pretty early in the semester, right? Maybe you can bump over to a different prof or you can withdrawal if it seems like it is going to be bad.

      1. Ruffingit*

        I had an online course in my master’s program where the professor disappeared for five weeks. Given that this was grad school, we were all very much interested in learning the material, but we basically had to self-teach because this person just wasn’t there, would not respond to questions in the online forum or in her email. Finally, we wondered if she had died. No joke. We discussed it as a class and decided one of us needed to inform the higher ups at the school. We did so and she magically reappeared the next week.

        Having been an adjunct myself, I completely understand the pressures, low pay, etc. But just not showing up for an online class? All the nopes.

        1. Mimmy*

          Five weeks??!! Wow, and I thought my professor in the spring was bad! She’d disappear for long stretches too, but definitely not five weeks!! Unfortunately, though, our class did fall apart due to the lack of communication or new readings among other issues. What started out as roughly 15-16 students ended with a core group of maybe 5 or 6. It was really disheartening.

      2. Mimmy*

        Thanks for the insights so far everyone!!

        NSNR – The class was officially available Aug. 27-three days ago. So sure, I’m probably just being impatient. All the classes have an “Ask the Professor” section on the Discussion Board, so I would’ve thought that this guy would be prompt and clear in his replies. I’m just feeling antsy the format of the weekly assignments is a little weird: You do the readings Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Then, “primary” posts (initial response to the discussion questions) are due at midnight Monday – so we weren’t clear if that means TONIGHT or TOMORROW night. That’s important because you get points deducted if posts are late. The course is an elective in our program, and it seems pretty popular, so I just need to give him a chance.

        I’ve seen it discussed here before how adjuncts are often treated poorly. I think my current professor has a day job, so he’s probably not in as bad a situation, but I remember my professor during the spring was stretched to the max–taught two online classes and does a lot of research. She was very funny and friendly, but also horribly disorganized.

        1. Mimmy*

          NSNR – I forgot to answer part of your question. Our program is relatively small–usually just one or two sections per course–so changing instructors isn’t really an option. Those who reside in-state have it better because if a particular class has one in-person and one online section, they could probably easily switch. I’d probably have to pay out-of-state tuition if I wanted to switch to an in-person class. And, as it happens, my current class only has the one (online) section.

          1. Not So NewReader*

            Ahh, okay. Well, I hope your prof chimes in soon. I know it’s a lot of fun, if the prof has a high level of participation. I wish every prof could do that. But they definitely do have to participate on a weekly basis (hopefully a few days per week) or else there is no point.

        2. blackcat*

          Arg, the “midnight” deadline is terrible. Online assignments 101 says have deadlines at 11:59pm to avoid the ambiguity. I say this as someone who has never taught online classes–just someone who taught classes where assignments are submitted online.

          1. Stephanie*

            Ugh, I had a class in college with “midnight” deadlines (we submitted hard copies of the homework to the department drop box). When the professor told us this, she was like “Now technically the homework is due at midnight, but I’m not in building at midnight. Interpret that however you want” followed by a wink. So pretty much, we had until 9 am for a deadline. Effectively, this meant you could walk over to the building at 4 am to drop off the homework and see at least one other person in the lobby like “Hey, were you able to figure out #2?”

            1. blackcat*

              I have set deadlines at “Officially midnight, but effectively when I start working in the morning. I am a morning person, so that could be as early as 5:30am. I recommend that you don’t gamble and you get it done at a reasonable hour and get some sleep.” This seemed to work well.

              I was also one a TA in a class where, following the same logic, we set the deadline for a take home exam at 8am (because that’s when the teaching team would pick up the box and start grading). It was a disaster! So many of the students (mostly in the 18-20 age group) hadn’t started the exam until after midnight. Never again! High stakes assignments will always, always be due in the afternoon/evening.

  27. LSP*

    Anyone have dog toy recommendations?

    My two 15 lbs dogs DESTROY all toys, minus the Kong tire they have. I know they like the felt-like/burlap sack material toys, but they only last 15 minutes.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      In many ways, you have to embrace the destruction. My buddy (a 65-lb hound mix) destroys almost every toy, but he keeps them once they’re shredded and he still loves them! He has a Westpaw Hurley that has lasted (and I have no idea where it is right now, probably under a bed), but he gets bored very easily. We’ve had a lot of success with the Multipet Loofa toys– he has three, two regular squeakies and one crinkly (sounds like there’s a water bottle inside), all in various states of disrepair. He also has a Kyjen Plush Puppies multi-squeaker frog, and it’s mostly intact after about 4 months.

      Oddly, a friend once brought over a toy that we were sure the pup would annihilate, but he treasured it for over a year. That toy was a Chanukah gelt “bag” from Petco. He carried it around like a puppy, whined when we hid it, insisted on taking it outside with him. That was his baby. Why did he choose that particular toy? We have no idea, and that’s the trouble. Sometimes you have to try a few things and see what sticks.

      You can also invest in a few durable chews that will keep them occupied, like antlers or Himalayan chews or hooves.

      1. Honeybee*

        Oh man, Kyjen toys. My Lab mix loves them, but she’s a squeaker surgeon – she has this uncanny ability to find the squeaker, slit the toy open exactly where it is, and extract the squeaker so she can chew it (without pulling out any of the stuffing. She saves that for later). She does this even when a toy has multiple squeakers – she just takes them out one by one, methodically. It’s super weird because she loves squeaky toys and the noise they make, so it’s like…why would you take out the squeaker?

    2. FiveWheels*

      Have you tried chunks of reindeer antler? My local pet store sells them, they’re fairly expensive but pretty much the only thing my brother’s doberman doesn’t destroy in seconds.

    3. BRR*

      I have a chewer and have had pretty good luck with the outward bound squirrel squeaker mat (the pig one was too messy). Kong has a giraffe with a braided body that’s held up ok.

      Nyla bone bones are great and going to a pet store the day after holidays is great to get themed toys for cheap that can just be destroyed.

    4. Oh Anon*

      We use nylabones for my two pit bulls. They’re very heavy chewers and these last about 4-6 months and the bones flake off in small enough pieces to pass easily. Granted, my dogs are much larger than yours, but nylabone does make varying sizes of toys.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My guy destroyed everything I gave him. So I bought him things to chew on. (I bought him this one raw hide that was about 30 inches long. Watching him trying to get it through a doorway was hysterical. He could not get the rawhide centered, so he could pass through. Finally, he set it on the floor. Walking backwards, he dragged it through the doorway. Too funny.)
      His problems were kind of broad, he was hyper and I did not walk him enough to burn energy up. I started feeding him downers like turkey, I quit giving him chicken all together. I gave him plenty of chewy things. The rest has been time. He started doing better around age 2. He now has a half dozen cloth toys that he does not tear apart.

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      This morning, it took my border collie mix about 5 minutes to annihilate a dental chew that was supposed to last for hours, but so far her squeaky ball made by JW has lasted for months. It’s called the JW Evertuff Wobbling Ball.

      1. NacSacJack*

        +1 for border collie mixes. i am so lucky to have gotten the lab attitude (laid-back, lets sleep/cuddle) but OMG, he got the brains of the b/c. man. when i come home, i get chewed out and told, in no uncertain terms, where have you been, we’re going on a walk right now, let us out of here attitude. and when he wants a milkbone, aint no quiet in the house til he gets it. he actually eggs on my girl dog and gets her (red lab) barking and howling so he doesnt have to. i’m surprised my neighbors havent made any comments(both north and south neighbors are doggy owners. love you, SaC, stop egging on NaC! B/C mixes +100

    7. littlemoose*

      My 45-pound beagle mix is a heavy chewer, and his Kong toys have held up the best. The Wubba and Jumbler toys (available on Amazon in different sizes) have been durable for us.

      1. E*

        I’ll second the Kong toys. Mine survives a lab puppy for 2 years, until she had 10 puppies and they managed to hide it outside somewhere while playing around our house. I’m sure it’s still in one piece, it never even slightly wore out.

    8. ThursdaysGeek*

      My sister buys yard sale and thrift shop stuffed animals for her dogs to destroy. She makes sure they don’t have button eyes or other choking hazards. And she’s careful to not tell the little girl or boy where their beloved pooh cat is going.

    9. Monodon monoceros*

      If they like felt/burlap, I used to buy toys made out of firehose material when my dog was a puppy and destroyed things. He did end up destroying a couple, but in months instead of minutes. I can’t remember the brand but maybe you could look for that.

    10. Caro*

      What about rope toys? My dog is pretty destructive, but has a few rope toys that have held up, including a Kong Tugga. I had to take some of the tassels off as he got threads loose, but the rope part is still fine.

      1. Honeybee*

        Oh yeah, the Kong Tugga Wubba or whatever it’s called is really good. My dog is destructive and that one has held up well – not only is it not destroyed, it actually looks pretty good. It helps that she doesn’t really chew it so much as we just use it to play tug.

    11. Honeybee*

      I embrace the destruction, and there are essentially two types of toys I get my 57-lb Lab mix now: 1) relatively expensive chew toys from good brands (Kong, Nylabone, Benebone, etc.) that it takes her weeks or months to chew through, and 2) super cheap stuffed toys and throw toys that I know she will destroy in 15 minutes but will enjoy doing so. I do feel like I have to replace her non-chew toys quite often.

      To her credit, she’s starting to learn a bit. I bought her a cheap $2 stuffed frog after we moved cross-country, and she meted out her abuse – she just finished destroying the toy today, and I bought it for her like 4-5 days ago.

    12. part of the machine*

      I have a scottish terrier (19lbs) who is a strong chewer. I give her nylabones that are made for 65# dogs. It helps her take longer to go through them. She also loves antlers, and black kongs.

  28. saro*

    I just signed up for a sewing class! Not sure if I mentioned it but I’m in the middle of a huge transition: closing up my business within the next few months; moved back to the U.S. (living in my parents’ basement, LOL); in a LDR with my husband for maybe up to 2 years; and looking for a new job in another city. I was pretty stressed about it but am feeling much better about it all. As part of my (new) motto to think positive and bloom where I’m planted, I’ve decided to do some things I’ve always wanted to do – one being, take formal sewing lessons. I’ve been looking for classes, on and off, for a while and just yesterday found the perfect class 5 minutes away. Yay!

      1. saro*

        Thanks! I’m excited. I’ve been trying to teach myself for a while so it will be nice to have instruction from someone so I can get the basics down.

        1. Trixie*

          And so many great starter projects on Pinterest. I save old shirts for potential infinity scarves.

    1. BRR*

      Ooh I want to start. I want to be able to tailor my clothes but I think it’s a lofty goal. I feel like I could eventually get there though.

      1. hermit crab*

        It’s definitely a lofty goal, but a great place to start is learning how to hem pants. It’s easy, useful, and so, so satisfying!

      2. Saro*

        You definitely can get there! If you don’t want to practice on your clothes, go to the thrift store and buy something cheap and have at it! I’ve made a number of items and had fun doing it, but now I just want to level up quickly so I can make more complicated clothes like jackets and evening wear. I want an experienced person to teach me the foundation but there are lots of things you can do on your own amd with the help of youtube, craftsy and pinterest.

    2. TootsNYC*

      Sewing is totally fun.

      Do you have a machine yet? I’m guessing yes.
      If not, I suggest you “round up” when you buy one–get one with a few more fancy stitches than you think you’ll use.
      Why? Because it’s motivating. I once made an entire shirt because I wanted to play with the double needle.

      I’m glad you’re getting formal lessons–that early success will be really energizing.

      Here’s my sewing tip for you if you’re doing pillows or drawstring bags, etc.: When you are sewing around a corner at a right angle (90 degrees), stop one stitch before the turn (stop with the needle sticking into the fabric, to anchor it); then lift the foot and pivot the fabric at a 45-degree angle, and take ONE STITCH across the corner at 45 degrees (again, stop w/ the needle sticking into the fabric); now pivot the fabric the remaining 45 degree, and stitch on.
      You will have stitched once across the corner–this means that when you turn the item inside out and push the corner out, you’ll get a sharper point, actually.

      1. Saro*

        Ooooh, thank you for the tip! I have a basic machine now but want to upgrade once I have the foundation down. I’ve made shirts, pants and dresses but spend so much time trying to fix my mistakes that classes are definitely needed. And this place is 10 minutes away!

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          I have been watching The Great British Sewing Bee (made by the same production company as The Great British Bake Off, but with bobbins instead of bun tins), and there are some accompanying books with instructions on how to sew your own clothes.

          My limit is drawstring laundry bags, but I might make a tablecloth.

          1. saro*

            I’ve read about that on sewing blogs but never had a chance to check it out. I wonder if it’s on youtube?

  29. FiveWheels*

    So I’m in my mid thirties and am finally learning to drive… I failed my test today, grrr. My mistakes were all minor faults however two were repeated a few times so got upgraded to majors. Very frustrating because I know exactly what I was doing wrong, I’ve been working on it, but for some reason during the test I kept doing it!

    However on the plus side I only started lessons on Monday so being so close to passing after six days is encouraging. Weird mix of emotions!

    1. nep*

      Sounds like you’re way ahead of the game. You’ve got this. (When can you take the test again?)

    2. Rye-Ann*

      I don’t know if it’s different in other areas or not, but most of the people I know had to take the test twice (or more), including myself. It is frustrating to fail, but not unusual either!

      1. Honeybee*

        I lived in New York for a few years, where it was common for people in their 20s to take the test for the first time. A lot of people I know failed the first 1-2 times they took it. Apparently, the NYC driving test is really hard.

    3. Steve G*

      ugh I failed once when I was 26 (lived in cities from 17-26 so never drove) because I had a bad cold the day of and couldn’t concentrate and didn’t parallel park that great or do the big dramatic looking-twelve-times-in-each direction thing on every stop…I did that on the 2nd test 2 months later and passed

    4. TootsNYC*

      only six days? That’s really quick! You need a little more practice time, and you’ll be good.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Driving is something you incubate. You learn the concepts and then let it rest or perk in your brain for a bit. You’ll get this, just give yourself a little more time and it will go fine for you.

    6. LAMM*

      I failed my first driving test too.

      One of the drivers ed places near me has private lessons available (one hour sessions). So I booked a session and had the guy run me through the different parts of the driving test. Just doing that made me more confident for when I took the test the second time (that and the first guy was a jerk. Which didn’t help).

      They also offered a discount on the second test if you failed the first time. Which took some of the sting out of it. Not much, but some.

    7. Academic Librarian*

      I learned to drive in my mid-fifties after a lifetime in NYC, now in the the Upper Midwest. I did fail my first driving test. Got advice from the student workers.
      Talk the process out-loud…” I am coming to a stop sign, full stop.”
      “this is an uncontrolled intersection, I am slowing down, looking left, looking right, looking left, speed up to go through the intersection.”
      Exaggerate looking left and right ( turn your head fully) so that the tester can see that you are looking.

      Center the car in the parallel park.

      practice where the test is taking place.

      1. FiveWheels*

        Thanks for the advice absolutely encouragement guys! I basically got failed for going down to first unnecessarily coming to a stop at junctions, and not keeping up to the speed limit. Had I committed either fault fewer times I would have passed.

        I like going fast on dual carriageways and country roads but put me on a city road with lots going on and I want to slooooow down lol

        1. Natalie*

          I nearly failed my test (1 point on the pass side) because I learned to drive in a busy urban area but took my test in a quiet suburb. My instructor thought I was too cautious. And then he told my dad, who gave him some real talk on city driving.

    8. Elizabeth West*

      Aww. I took my driver’s test at 32 and failed the first one (parallel parking is what got me, ugh–I bumped the pole slightly). After some practice, I nailed it. You’ll get it.

  30. Looking for advice*

    Regular reader, not a regular poster here… Looking for advice.

    My partner is depressed. He shows all the signs of depression – feeling very low about himself, not feeling like he knows how to be happy anymore, not enjoying anything, no appetite/weight-loss, and generally feeling very sad. I would say he has been having these feelings on and off for at least a year, but over the last month they have really set in, and they have not lifted at all. Obviously I’m worried, and I’m also the only one he has talked to about the way he feels. He doesn’t feel any of his friends are close enough to open up to.

    However, he won’t admit that it’s depression. He hates doctors, and thinks counsellors are a waste of time – he’s never been one to talk about his feelings much anyway. I feel that the sooner he understands that these feelings he’s been having are all related to depression, the sooner he can get the right kind of help and start to feel better. But every time I bring it up, he shuts off and pushes away, which only makes things worse.

    I don’t know what to do to get him to realise that all the negative feelings he’s been having are related to one cause, and that there is plenty of help available, and that he doesn’t need to feel this way forever. I am trying hard to support him and be there for him, but I don’t feel like it’s enough to get him well again. How can I get him to see that it’s depression and get the help he needs??

    Thanks in advance.

    1. BRR*

      Ooh it’s going to be a delicate dance and entirely up to his personality and your relationship. Maybe asking him to do it because you want to see him feel better. I imagine if you search there would be a lot of advice. I was able to get my husband to go to a therapist after months of gentle urging that he would enjoy having someone to discuss things with and helping find a therapist that had later appointments. After going the first time he was much more open about going back.

      You might need to see a profession yourself because being with a depressed partner can be draining.

      1. Looking for advice*

        Thanks BRR. “it’s going to be a delicate dance and entirely up to his personality and your relationship” I already feel like I’m delicately stepping around the issue, trying to approach it, not trying to push it… It’s really tough. “You might need to see a profession yourself because being with a depressed partner can be draining.” I feel like I’m not even helping at the moment because of the emotional strain on myself. I end up crying all the time and I am falling behind with school because it’s all too much for me to take on. That’s why I need to get him some other help. I might need to be patient and keep gently urging him to see someone, like you said, and try to get myself in a better state to be able to support him.

        I appreciate you taking the time to comment, thank you

        1. BRR*

          I feel like I should add I’m the depressed one. Hearing a little more, I think you should find some one for yourself. They can help you and maybe your husband will see how beneficial it can be.

          1. Looking for advice*

            Thanks BRR, I agree that might be the first step. Perhaps they can help me figure out how to get him some help too.

    2. Anx*

      Do you think there’s a possibility that there are external issues causing him to feel this way?

      I’ve had some low-grade depression issues throughout college that ramped up after graduation. The inability to find a job really made things worse. I did see a student therapist for an unrelated issue (I was hoping to get rid of a phobia) and we talked a little bit about it.

      For me, I didn’t think I had depression at first because 1) I was not sad and 2) I felt like negative feelings were totally normal. Who in America wouldn’t feel low about themselves if they couldn’t support themselves? You know? But those feelings still aren’t helpful or healthy.

      If you think there are external factors to this, perhaps acknowledging him that some of this negativity is normal but that it’s leading to unreasonable or unhealthy thought patterns?

      Do you think he may be worried about receiving an official diagnosis? Perhaps he’s worried that he’ll be pressured into taking anti-depressants.

      I honestly don’t think professional medical help is necessary for recovery for everyone, but it’s nothing you can snap out of or just run/meditate/whatever your way through. And it’s not really fair for you to be the only person he’s talking to about it. If he’s not acknowledging the possibility of depression with you, it doesn’t seem like talking to you about it is going to be enough.

      1. Looking for advice*

        Hi Anx. I definitely think that there are external issues causing him to feel this way. He has openly talked to me about these problems, but can’t seem to link them to the cause for the depression. There are actually some really complex issues there, and I’m not sure he has the capacity to deal with them without some counselling.
        I agree that he probably doesn’t think it’s depression because it probably is quite normal to feel as bad as he does with all the problems he’s had lately. However, there’s a difference between feeling bad and being able to feel better after a while, and feeling bad and being unable to lift out of the negative cloud that he’s in.
        “If you think there are external factors to this, perhaps acknowledging him that some of this negativity is normal but that it’s leading to unreasonable or unhealthy thought patterns?” I think that is a good idea for a strategy – to acknowledge that it’s normal to feel upset about everything that’s happened, but he might just need some help to start to feel better about it, or to talk about it with someone neutral like a counsellor.
        “Do you think he may be worried about receiving an official diagnosis? Perhaps he’s worried that he’ll be pressured into taking anti-depressants.” – Yes, a few of his friends have had an awful time finding the right anti-depressant and have had very bad experiences when using ones that were not right for them (including ending up in hospital after attempting suicide). I can understand his reluctance to even try.
        Thank you for taking the time to answer Anx, I really appreciate your insight. It’s a relief for me to talk about it… as I said in the post above, I’m not coping very well, so it might be a good start for me to seek counselling in the first place so I can feel strong enough to help him get to a better place.

        1. BRR*

          You might try “that’s a really complex issue and I’m not sure I can help with it. I think it might be helpful to talk with a professional about it.”

      2. BRR*

        Some great advice. An issue that I’m not sure how to help with is he might be scarred of the d word. I know my husband was hesitant because he had witnessed a bad reaction I had with an antidepressant and didn’t want to be on meds.

        1. Looking for advice*

          Yes, definitely scared of the D word and anti-depressants. I think the approach of accepting his feelings are a result of the negative things that have happened but pointing out that it’s leading to unhealthy thought patterns is probably a good way to tackle it. Maybe I shouldn’t be so desperate to get him to admit the D word.

          1. TootsNYC*

            If, “times are tough for you, and you could have better mental skills if you did the right kind of exercises. Sort of like, starting to lift weights in order to add muscle, so you can burn more calories and lose weight. The basic problem isn’t so much depression as it is that things are tough right now.

            But when things are tough, some extra skillz might be really useful, and a therapist can teach him cool mental tricks to make himself even stronger. They’ll make him more confident going into an interview, for example.

            Kind of like taking your resume to a career coach; or getting a smart friend to role-play with you. Same principle, just with a “cognitive coach.”

    3. F.*

      Don’t be so quick to diagnose him. The first thing he needs to do is get a thorough physical exam. Many conditions can mimic depression. If physical problems are ruled out, the physician can then open the discussion about depression and refer him to appropriate professionals. I suffer from depression and anxiety which went undiagnosed for over 25 years until I had a complete breakdown requiring hospitalization. After years of therapy and taking my meds religiously, I am free of symptoms most of the time. Please gently encourage him to get help.

      1. Looking for advice*

        Thanks F, will note that a medical exam to rule out any physical causes will be a good start too.

        I am glad to hear that you are in a better place now.

        1. blackcat*

          Yeah, for me the actual “D” word wasn’t Depression but instead severe vitamin D deficiency, which showed up on a blood test ordered by my doctor. Also, the weight loss/ depression combo is often associated with thyroid problems (that are often easily treatable).

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            I think that was (maybe still is) part of my problem. Since vitamin D isn’t something you can overdose on (or at least not that I’ve heard) I started taking it last fall on my own as an experiment, because I usually feel worse in the winter when there’s less light. And it did help, didn’t feel nearly as bad as I have some years, so I still do it. I’m not saying consume the whole bottle in one go, but for weeks on end, I was taking 10K ui of it every night and wasn’t noticing any ill effects.

            1. blackcat*

              There are medical case studies that show people can suffer ill effects from super high doses, but it’s unclear if that’s from the vitamin D or from other things in the pills. But these effects are seen at like 50-100k iu, which is a HUGE amount, and the only documentation I found of this was case studies. Officially, the NIH declares 6k/day as the upper limit of safety, but that’s based on theoretical models of how much should end up in the blood stream that don’t seem well proven–the main model assumes a linear relationship between the amount of vitamin D you eat and the amount that ends up in your blood stream. And I never found a good justification of that assumption. They also pegged the toxic concentration of it in the blood stream to the toxic concentration in mice, which is probably, but not necessarily, close to the toxic concentration in people. And really, their model showed that toxic concentrations are possible around what you’re taking (10k) and then lowered the amount from there.

              (I’m a scientist–not medical–at a school with a med school, so I get access to ALL the medical journals. I found this an interesting thing to research. I’m totally one of those patients that certain doctors hate because I will go down a rabbit hole of medical literature.)

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                That’s interesting! I was in a US drug store and saw they had 10K ui of Vitamin D and I thought that that was probably the max limit for safety so that’s what I based it on. I found in the beginning that 1K just did nothing. Maybe I wasn’t patient enough to let it accumulate. I read something around that time of the effects of D on healing infection and immune system function. I have an auto-immune disorder and keep getting these sinus infections, so I thought it was worth a shot. I haven’t been taking it recently because it’s summer, but as the days get shorter, I will keep in mind what you’re saying and dial it back, maybe do the 6K for a couple months and see how that gets on.

                1. Hellanon*

                  I am a Southern Californian with a garden, a walking commute & an inability to remember to use sunscreen, and *I* was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency a few years back. Spent about 6mos on prescription (high dose) supplements then switched to about 4000 units a day. It’s not just a question of getting enough sunshine, I suspect: my energy level/mood are a lot better when I’m scrupulous about taking the pills even if I’m getting upwards of an hour a day outdoors.

                2. blackcat*

                  It was a fascinating journey through recent medical journals!

                  Because supplements are so unregulated, they can easily sell supplements above toxic levels (the major one is vitamin C. Things like Emergen-C, Airborne, etc have recommended doses near or above the level where you can get side effects. Notably for women, these high doses mess with estrogen and progesterone levels, meaning they can nix the effectiveness of birth control pills. Also maintaining high vitamin C doses will do damage to your kidneys and liver. Super high concentrations of vitamin C are actually fantastically toxic–as in pastes of it can be used to kill all sorts of bacteria instantly. It’s powerful stuff–far more toxic per mass than bleach).

                  Based on my research, I do think that 10k is almost certainly safe. Otherwise, there’d be case studies in the literature showing ill effects at those levels. All of the case studies that showed ill effects at the 50k-100k level had individuals with other risk factors (eg, children, people with liver disease, people over supplementing with calcium as well). I’m sure it also depends on your body mass–something these studies don’t mention except in cases of children.

                  But yeah, it is also a cumulative thing. We evolved to build up reserves over the summer and draw on them through the winter. So if you’re deficient, going for a pretty high dose for a while and then stepping down to a maintenance level seems logical. That said, there didn’t seem to be evidence for that being therapeutic.

                  I also started on 1k and found it did absolutely nothing. Then I stepped it up to 2k and still nothing. The doc told me to do 8k for 2 weeks and then step down to 4k. That seems to work well for me. I will probably go up to 6k for the winter.

                  YMMV with it. One of the more alarming articles I came across was about Dr’s beliefs about how much vitamin D one should take. It’s all over the map! Lots of people prescribe 50k-100k mega doses. Other people say 500 units is enough.

                  The development of medical knowledge is fascinating.

                3. fposte*

                  @blackcat–I looked at it briefly myself–much less thoroughly than you–and noted similar things. I will also say my vitamin D levels haven’t correlated at all with my sense of well-being; I know for some people they really feel the improvement, but I sure didn’t.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          A slow heart rate or a thyroid issue could be at the root here. If he does not want to be on anti-depressants tell him that he can at least have his heart and thyroid check to see if they are doing okay. What I like about this idea, is that it keeps him moving forward in some manner. He might agree to doing this much.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        I would just like to ask: is there anyone who enjoys going to the doctor? I mean seriously… a relative stranger pokes and prods you in various places of varying intrusion, you have to pee in a cup, it’s just not fun. But that’s no excuse not to go. As much as we like to think we can tough it out (or my big thing “it’s not that bad, it’ll get better with time”) or that going to the doctor makes you “weak” it’s a really wrong-headed way to approach it. Just earlier today I finally accepted that I’m going to have to go back to the doctor — mind you I live in Canada and it’s not an insurance/co-pay hell of trying to stay in the lines of my plan. There’s some problem with my hip, it’s been happening for at least a month now but it’s not getting better with rest as I assumed it might. Whee. It’s not hugely painful, but I’d rather find out now in an early stage than when it’s too late.

        Here’s the thing with depression (or any mental illness, really) — if you broke your leg, would you stubbornly continue to try walking on it? Would you say you don’t need crutches, you can get around just fine? Would you turn down that hip-to-ankle cast because it’ll just sort itself out? You’re tough, you can take it. No. If you had diabetes, would you stop taking your medication because it made you look “weak”, that you can’t kick that disease through pure pulling-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps tough love? No, you’d take your medicine. Would you be embarrassed to be diabetic? No one would think the less of you because you had to monitor your blood sugar, watch what you eat and pay attention so your disease doesn’t flare out of control. But for some reason, as soon as it’s Depression or PTSD or anything like that, everyone is all “Oh, I can handle this myself!” Can you set the bone in your own leg and wrap it with a cast? No. The vast majority of people out there in the world simply cannot do that. So why is it different with Depression? What is more of a failure? To keep trying to get the help you need or to not get it and remain stuck in sadness for more time?

        FWIW, the past two years have been kind of Not Fun for me… I’m kind of having that mid-life crisis but without the divorce, motorcycle, running away to live on an ashram or boy toy. I am at the mid-point of my working life and have been seriously in a place of “do a really want to do this for another 20 years? What can I do instead? Nothing. Aaaugh!” I started taking Prozac earlier this year. Is it helping? I think so. I think in a way it’s — I don’t want to say deadening but that’s the only word I can think of — blunting? my anger and sadness. But just like joining a gym, you don’t get any benefits if you don’t work at it. I’ve had to make an effort to get out more, to reconnect to things I enjoy, to be kind to myself, to change the way I talk to myself and think about myself (which isn’t always successful). Prozac hasn’t “cured” me, but it has given me the kick in the pants that I needed that I recognise and acknowledge that I’m unhappy, that it’s OK to be unhappy but it’s not OK to *stay* unhappy all the time, forever. Do I tell people that I’m taking it? No, it’s none of their business but if I got onto the topic of depression/feeling bad, yes I would probably share what I just said here.

        The only thing I can suggest Looking for advice is that you buy him a journal. Tell him he can write whatever he wants in it about anything, he can share it with you if he wants or keep it to himself and you will not go looking to peek in it. He may not do it but some people find it easier to “talk” to a book than a person. I couldn’t afford therapy, so I started writing it all down and there’s something very therapeutic about getting all that stuff out, seeing it physically on a page in the real world, not just as swirling words in your head that torment you. Better out than in, as they say!

        1. Looking for advice*

          Dynamic Beige, thank you for your response. I completely agree with you – there is absolutely no harm in going to the doctor. Sure it’s not fun, but it’s necessary and the results are usually very helpful. I also completely agree that there’s no way that one should limp around on a broken ankle, suffer through diabetes, etc. But the problem here is that until he recognises there is a problem, it is very difficult to get him to a doctor at all. It’s not that he is ashamed or thinks it will make him weak, it’s that he doesn’t realise that his feelings are genuinely not healthy and that he can’t necessarily make them disappear by himself.

          As I mentioned earlier, I think the best approach for me in this situation is to acknowledge that it’s normal and OK for him to feel upset about everything that’s happened, but that he might just need some help to start feeling better about it, or need to talk about it with someone else (e.g. a counselor). And as you said, anti-depressants helped you “recognise and acknowledge that I’m unhappy, that it’s OK to be unhappy but it’s not OK to *stay* unhappy all the time, forever”. I agree that it’s the right approach to get him to see a doctor, but knowing it and getting it to happen are two different things.

          I will see how I go with the advice everyone has given me and I’ll try to update y’all next week.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            That was part of the reason I suggested a journal. If he could write down what he feels, online/using Word if he prefers, he might begin to see patterns. Or that he’s constantly saying the same thing. That is what started it for me, I began writing down bad things that had happened to me, how I felt about them then, stuff that bothered me now. I read books about the psychology behind some of the things I had gone through and did the exercises. Eventually I started making connections between things, seeing how I would repeat things or couldn’t let go of some thoughts and that’s what made me go “I’m unhappy. I need help. I can’t afford counseling, I am OK with writing this down and exploring/dissecting my feelings on my own for the time being but I need something that will put some gas in my tank and make me want to get up and get going.” I didn’t like the idea of anti-depressants, I don’t like taking medication in general. But I also live alone, I don’t have someone who can tell me that I’m a grumpy sourpuss and I should do something about it, I have to do it by myself, for myself. So I’m not 100% thrilled by taking Prozac, but I feel better than I did 6 months ago, and that’s what’s important. I hope that there will come a time when I can cut it back and eventually not need it any more, but that might take a few years.

            As others have said, right now he’s leaning on you and you’re playing his therapist. That’s great for him — easy, convenient, you’re supposed to be supportive, you’re his spouse! But it also puts you in the bad position of being drained by him, of having to be the “adult” or “parent” in the relationship, of perhaps not being the one who can give him homework or a kick in the pants because you don’t want to be mean or kick him when he’s down. It’s completely different confiding these things to a spouse than a complete stranger — the complete stranger won’t do it for free and won’t take his crap! Maybe that’s what he needs to hear, that you love him and you’re concerned for him and you want him to be happy — but you’re afraid you can’t be that for him, that wherever he’s gone with whatever has happened, it’s like he’s fallen down a well and you don’t know how to reach him to pull him out. Maybe if he hears how this is affecting you, he might be more motivated to get some help.

        2. Hellanon*

          Agree wholeheartedly. I asked my GP to talk to me about anti-depressants when I was going through menopause & unemployment (two great tastes that taste great together!), as I couldn’t walk myself, write myself or bully myself through what was starting to feel like a terminal inability to get off the couch. I am pretty good at forward motion, but I just couldn’t, at that point, and *couldn’t* wasn’t sustainable – nor did I want it to be. The Prozac made a huge difference, primarily in cognitive function & my overall ability to put myself back on the road – I felt like the depression was taking *me* away, and the Prozac doesn’t make me happy but it lets me do that for myself.

          (Not sure if that makes sense but the upshot is they’re not happy pills, they’re balance pills…)

      3. StillHealing*

        I have to agree that the first step is getting a regular check up. Perfect time for him to discuss how he’s feeling and for the doctor to order some lab tests. There are many factors that can contribute to depression and many different ways to treat it. And it IS treatable.

        Hope he gets the help he needs, OP. I know how frustrating and scary it can be. So sorry you both are going through this. I’m glad he has you to encourage him.

      1. Stella Maris*

        You may find some useful info or suggestions over at Captain Awkward dot com, also.

        Good luck to you both.

    4. Olive K*

      I am dealing with something similar. I have started seeing a therapist myself to figure out how to navigate all this and keep myself healthy. My partner has no friends and I end up bring his therapist, listening to all his problems, being the only one who understands him, etc. And I do believe he is depressed also. It is very difficult! But try to get yourself in a good place , perhaps with the help of a therapist and perhaps you can then incorporate him into the sessions. Good luck.

      1. Looking for advice*

        Thanks Olive. That’s exactly I how I feel. Sorry to hear you are in a similar situation. I hope it works out. From this discussion, I definitely think the first step is for me to see a therapist.

        1. Olive K*

          yes, I have found it invaluable in giving me clarity. It has also been immensely freeing to re-learn that I am not responsible for anyone’s happiness but my own.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Can you get him to start seeing someone not to “fix” someting that’s “wrong” with him, but sort of as if the person is a trainer? He’s fine, he’s “in shape,” but a few sessions w/ a cognitive behavioral therapist will teach him techniques that will make him ever better!!

    6. Curlicue*

      There is a depression screening questionnaire on mentalhealthamerica dot net. It’s similar (if not exactly the same) as one I was given by a psychiatrist. Maybe he would take it if you suggested? I hope things improve for both of you. My depression has been worse lately and I know it’s difficult for my husband.

    7. NacSacJack*

      he may never recognize it. please note i do not recommend the following: i had to basically tell my ex the relationship was over before he admitted he was depressed. he would lay awake and cry at night and never told me he felt bad for screwing up his life. i had no idea. it helps to publically acknowledge the depression. people can be depressed and not need to go on meds or may only need them for a bit.

    8. asteramella*

      Rather than frame it as “you need to go talk to a counselor because you are depressed,” perhaps change to “please go see a counselor to talk about your thoughts/feelings/situation because it would make me happy.”

      Ultimately you can’t force him to accept help. It sounds like this has been very difficult for you. I hope you are taking care of yourself and valuing your own emotional well-being too.

    9. Honeybee*

      Argh, I have dealt with this as well. My husband would say he doesn’t really believe in depression or seeing a therapist, because he feels like people should “man up” and deal with their feelings. It’s super frustrating, though, because I recognized the signs of periodic depression in him.

      I eventually got him to see a therapist by convincing him to come to couples counseling with me. We were lucky and got an amazing counselor. After the session, he was like “So a therapist is really just a person who you can go to and tell all your problems and they’ll listen and help you out?! So cool!” I think he had misconceptions about what mental health counseling was – laying on a couch, talking about your childhood, etc.

      He still has negative ideas about depression and mental health counseling, but he’s more willing to see someone when he gets into the dark periods.

  31. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)*

    Hubby and I are going to the USA in October, and we’re going to be there for Hallowe’en. The family that we’re staying with throw a big Hallowe’en party. Hallowe’en isn’t really a thing here, and because I’m secretly 12 years old, I am SUPER EXCITED to dress up… but I need ideas!

    I thought about going as Ursula, but I kinda want to do something with hubby. He used to be a makeup artist, so something with lots of makeup won’t be an issue. Also needs to be something I could easily get a plus-sized costume for.

    Any ideas would be SO appreciated! :D

    1. Traveler*

      I love the idea of Ursula. I’ve seen some really fantastic interpretations of it. And you don’t have to be secretly 12 in the States. Lots of adults here obsessed with it. Its a fun holiday.

    2. Cruciatus*

      I have people counting down the days to Halloween on my FB Newsfeed–grown adults. No one will think it’s strange you are excited to dress up (if you were worried about that)! You could always be Flotsam and Jetsam! Or you could be Ursula and maybe he could somehow be both Flotsam and Jetsam? Lots of people create their own costumes so you could create anything you want in any size you want (depending on how crafty you are). I hope the party you’re going to will have a Halloween costume contest!

      I’m cool with other people dressing up but I think my office is really big on dressing up in a theme. Last year they were all superheroes. I’m new to the office and am not looking forward to be a Debbie Downer (I just don’t want to be dressed in a costume all day!). But that shows you how big it is here–even many offices get into the spirit of things!

    3. Colette*

      I was Ursula last year – I spent a ridiculous amount of time making tentacles and a floatsam/jetsam wrap with flashing eyes but it turned out well.

      But since you’re travelling, I suggest Miss Piggy. Blonde wig, pig snout & ears, glamorous clothes, gloves, boa, jewellery, etc. It’s easy and small to pack.

    4. Steve G*

      I love Halloween! Me and a group went as the group from Wizard of Oz. I was the Tin Man and put silver on my face. The + side of that costume was that everyone recognized who it was.

      I went the previous year as a rat caught in a rat trap, and most of the night was spend explaining what it was, having people walk backwards, and saying, oh now I see it.

    5. azvlr*

      Whatever costume you chose, it has to be slutty! US readers, that’s a Halloween rule, right? Just kidding. I guess my perceptions are shifted being surrounded by college students. lol

  32. What would Emily Gilmore do?*

    Baby gifts for friends who have drifted?

    Back story: I was friends with a girl a few years ago (Pattie). Pattie and I were not close friends by any means and in fact, Pattie wasn’t close with anyone in our circle of friends. She got married about two years ago. Pattie asked me last minute (as in four days before the wedding) to be in the bridal party because someone backed out. I attended the wedding, paid for all of the travel expenses myself, which I was fine with…until I found out that Pattie and her husband paid for everyone else to stay the entire wedding weekend. She and her family were also rude at the wedding, and I have no idea why. Needless to say, after the wedding, Pattie moved a few hours away and I only see her a couple times of year.

    Pattie is now pregnant. I have a feeling that she expects her “friends” in our town to throw her a baby shower. I’ve talked to our circle of friends and no one wants to host a shower or attend one, but they feel like they are obligated.

    I should mention that Pattie has alienated several of the friends by openly talking about how she only married her husband because he has an excellent paying job. The only thing she wants to talk about now is the mansion her husband bought her and how glad she is that she hasn’t had to work since she got engaged. (She quit her job to plan her wedding and just never went back.) Since I don’t talk to her much, I haven’t heard her talk about her husband or new home.

    1. Apollo Warbucks*

      Forget about her, I can’t see any good reason to carry on being involved with someone who is so self centred.

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        The most depressing thing about that whole story is that Pattie is having a kid. With a guy she only sees as a meal ticket. Poor, poor baby.

    2. fposte*

      So you don’t like her and you haven’t enjoyed her company. Can’t see any reason why you should even attend a baby shower for somebody like that, let alone host one.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        And if she’s got a really big mansion, she’ll either have a shower registry that’s completely insane or be openly disdainful of the things people can afford to buy. I say put this in the former friends column and sleep like a baby.

        1. fposte*

          Sometimes in organizing/house purging, you hear the question, “Would you want to buy it if you didn’t already have it?” Sometimes it’s worth asking that about people, too.

            1. Dynamic Beige*

              I’ve just gotta say: we all know what Emily Gilmore would do. She would go to some chi-chi boutique and buy something expensive, wrap it really well, give it to the person she does not like with her best “I love being here!” smile, bitching incessantly about the whole thing to Lorelei (who she would force to come to the party to keep her company) throughout the episode. And then at the end of it, she would see the expensive thing in a thrift shop or being used in some way she didn’t approve of and be all offended.

    3. Sibley*

      Send her a nice card, “congrats on the baby”. No gift necessary. She’s not your friend really.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. I will never understand people going to great efforts to provide things like showers for people who are not nice and whom them don’t like. I wouldn’t even attend a shower for this woman if someone else threw it unless the chance to see other old friends outweighed the unpleasantness of her company. And the gift would be a nice alphabet book not some high ticket item off the registry. A card and good wishes is perfect if you don’t attend a shower.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Aren’t you really busy lately? I thought you had a lot of projects, and maybe even some trips out of town….

    5. Not So NewReader*

      And she has organized how many showers/parties for this circle of friends? And she always remembers all your birthdays, right? What, NO?

      Seriously, this is a money grab by a couple who has money. Buy a card, wish her well.

    6. TheLazyB (UK)*

      What everyone else says.

      Also, while I love your username, I feel that Emily should not be your guide here :) maybe ‘what would Rory Gilmore do?’! :)

    7. asteramella*

      She doesn’t sound like a friend who has drifted, she sounds like a non-friend. You don’t give non-friends gifts, so don’t worry about it.

  33. Anx*

    My boyfriend and I are about to go on a pretty major shopping spree. We can’t really afford it, but our shoes are all pretty much falling apart.

    His Rainbows split apart
    My black interview/work loafers are cracked, peeling, and the heel pulls apart when I step
    I have some holes in my canvas shoes
    I have no heels
    His dressy shoes are cracked near the laces

    It’s hard to figure out which are most important or urgent and are trying not to waste the purchase. We’re also on a budget (students).

    Does anyone have advice on how to keep synthetic and genuine leather shoes in good shape? I’d hate to buy businessy dress shoes only to have them cracking again too soon.

    1. AcidMeFlux*

      There’s a ton of stuff on the web for taking care of different types of shoes. Most important is to keep shoes dry, use foam liners but take them out at the end of the day and let your shoes air out(and if you live in a humid climate, leave them near a fan or other ventilation.). Use waterproofing appropriate to the material of the shoe (that is, what works on leather doesn’t work on other materials). Take a damp cloth (even a paper towel) and quickly wipe off your shoes at the end of the day. Try to budger to have at least one change of each type of shoe (work, running, going-out) and alernate; wearing the same shoes every day will kill them in 6 months-a year. This site looks interesting: https://www.facebook.com/notes/crizzie-watson-fashionworld/how-to-take-care-of-your-shoes/310398699053344

    2. Cruciatus*

      I have no idea what a cobbler might cost–but could you look into that, at least for some of the shoes? Maybe the shoes could be fixed for a fraction of the price and you could get more wear out of them. And in the meantime you could save up for your next pair? I know cobblers are still out there somewhere! Might not hurt to just ask what some prices are.

      If you are determined to buy new, why not just hit Payless/Target/Walmart? There are lots of back-to-school/end-of-summer sales going on now everywhere if you’re looking for a specific brand. I usually buy from Zappos because I’m a size they refuse to carry in stores (10.5). It’s more expensive, but I tend to get a LOT of wear out of these shoes. I wear one pair almost exclusively to work that I bought a year ago that are still in good shape. The tread is worn, but the shoe itself is still good (I generally buy Keens and Merrells–expensive, but good).

      1. Liane*

        Wal;mart’s LEI and Faded Glory women’s boots are very comfortable and last a long time, if those fit your wardrobe. Can also do a lot of walking in them. (I use them for some of my Star Wars costumes and I can march in parades comfortably.)

    3. hermit crab*

      I don’t know anything about shoe maintenance/repair, but I have kept super-cheap flats from Target in good shape for years by pretty much only wearing them indoors. I keep my work shoes in my desk drawer and change into them when I get to the office. This specific suggestion may not apply to your situation, but in general I think it’s good to think about how and when you’re wearing things, so that you can prioritize certain situations to make stuff last longer.

    4. danr*

      For leather shoes, the wax based polishes are best, Kiwi is one brand. Polish the shoes right after you buy them, then before wearing in the rain or snow and after. Clean them with a damp cloth. Don’t use the spray on waterproofing on anything. That has solvents that will dissolve any glues. Mink oil does nicely to give leather shoes some waterproofing and it conditions the leather too.
      See if you can find a good shoe store with employees who know how to fit shoes. A good way to tell is if they use this, a Combination Brannock Device, since it sizes the feet very well and then you just have to find some shoes that fit well. Find sales of good shoe brands, and you’ll have the shoes for years.

      1. Charlotte Collins*

        Yes! My BF is really hard on his shoes, and regular polishing has made a huge difference. It can also help make shoes that are a little shabby look better.

    5. BRR*

      If you’re on a budget (or if you’re not too) I recommend dsw.

      Do you need heels? Does he need rainbows (I totally get investing in higher quality flip flops but if it’s a financial burden)?

      Genuine leather should be conditioned ever so often (I forget how often). Instead of polish I use shoe cream. It comes in a bazillion colors and really refreshes shoes. If you’re on a budget check to see if the shoes are actually leather.

      Are they actually cracked or more just wrinkled? If the prior it’s likely that you need to condition them and if you’re in a harsh winter climate keep the salt off. If it’s the later cedar shoes trees will help.

    6. asteramella*

      Depending on the quality of the thrift stores around you, you may be able to find good-quality gently used shoes to tide you over until you can buy new.

      I have a pair of Ariats I bought for $20 at a thrift store. Some polish and new insoles later, they have been my go-to work shoe for over a year.

  34. Sourire*

    I just need to vent/whine for a moment. So, I’ve been single for a very long time. I was pretty secure with that for a while but lately I’ve been finding myself really missing having a partner to do things with, the intimacy of being with someone, etc. I haven’t had much luck meeting people traditionally for various reasons so I tried online dating (which has been pretty sad and unsuccessful so far I must say). But… there was this one guy who stood out, and turns out we actually have a few mutual friends who all spoke very highly of him. He seems great; he’s nice, intelligent, totally understands my crazy stressful job and the insane hours that go with it, and already did a really thoughtful thing for me on the second date (I’d casually mentioned liking this obscure food that he sought out and brought for me). Thing is, there is just NO SPARK. Nothing there, no chemistry or physical attraction on my end. I felt like the worst person in the world gushing over the supremely thoughtful gesture of bringing me that little gift at the end our date while simultaneously thinking, please don’t go in for the kiss, please don’t!

    What’s wrong with me?! My friends are going to kill me for turning down this great guy (lord knows they’ve heard me whine enough about being single), but there’s just nothing there. I know a lot of times attraction grows over time, but that’s usually more with friends, and I can’t string this guy along forever hoping feelings/attraction eventually shows up. I am truly so sick of being single but I know I can’t settle like this, I would be unhappy and it most certainly wouldn’t be fair to him. So now back to drunken pity parties with my friends about how I can’t find anyone, even though I apparently can, I just am so messed up I don’t like them when they come around. Ugh…

    Also, what do I say to this guy? I feel like it’s even more awkward since we do in fact know some of the same people :/

    1. AnnieNonymous*

      I recently went through something a bit similar. I met a guy through friends and we dated for a little over two months. I ended up finding out about a whole lot of red flags (he’s a gun owner, he has a violent felony on his record, and some other things that I’m not interested in airing “publicly”) that are simply non-negotioable for me. While my friends didn’t disagree with my decision to end things, but I’m growing so tired of hearing, “Well, we still think he’s a good person,” even after hearing about some of the things he was doing and saying.

      And here’s the thing: I never believe it when people say that someone else is a good person. They usually mean, “He’s got a sort-of nice personality, and we overlook it when his actions are unsavory or unkind.” It is very rare for people to make a judgment of someone based on anything other than the surface personality. Don’t let people push the “great person” angle on you when you just don’t see that going on.

      I wanted to put this out there, since I’m sure you’ll get other responses telling you that you shouldn’t force yourself to be with someone you don’t like.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        It’s easy to think someone is a good person if you don’t live in the same house with them.
        And there is more to marriage/relationships than being a good person.

        1. AnnieNonymous*

          People are so quick to say, “He’s such a good person” but no one ever calls someone out for being lousy to the core.

    2. Nicole*

      You can’t force yourself to feel something for someone that isn’t there and that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you or that you have no right to whine about being single. I suggest being honest with your friends and tell them that there wasn’t a spark. If they aren’t understanding then that’s their issue, not yours. You’re smart not to settle.

    3. nep*

      There’s nothing wrong with you. If there’s no spark, there’s no spark.
      I think being honest with him early in the game is best. Sure it’s likely to be an awkward moment, but the sooner the better.
      I’ve got no great ideas on how to put it…’I’d like for us to be friends’…

      1. fposte*

        Captain Awkward has some good scripts for that. A version of hers would be “I’m not really feeling another date, but it was nice to meet somebody neat and to talk to somebody my friends think so highly of.”

    4. Student*

      This is the worst possible moment to put more stock in what your friends will think of your decision than what you think of your decision. If you think that it’s important that your friends approve of your choice to break up with a guy that you don’t like, then you are not mature enough to date! This is exactly how people get stuck in miserable relationships for years. They don’t want their friends to know their relationship isn’t perfect, so they present this rosy exterior while everything falls apart inside.

      Good relationships are BUILT on that inside stuff you’re waffling over, not the exterior stuff your friends are talking about. Does the guy make you feel good? Does he bring out the best in you? Can you two build a better future together than you could apart? Does he treat you with respect? Do you treat him with respect? Do you have a similar vision of what life should look like – on things like children, home, careers, responsibilities, family interactions, retirement, relaxation?

      1. Sourire*

        I think I must’ve worded my original post badly. I’m not going to stay with this guy, or any guy because of my friends. I just know they’re going to roll their eyes at me for complaining about being single after turning down a guy who seems to be on the surface a great catch. I would probably do the same. They’ll still be there for me and support me though!

        Regarding your second paragraph, that is what is giving me pause about the whole thing. It’s early, of course, but he does treat me respectfully. He does have a similar view on career and children, he seems thoughtful and lovely and would probably be a great partner. In my brain he’s a match. Just not in my heart/according to my body, and that’s what is bothering me. That someone who is such a match “on paper” just can’t get me going phyiscally, if that makes any sense.

        1. TheLazyB (UK)*

          But if you aren’t feeling a spark, why on earth would any of your friends think you should ignore that?! That would be crazy. I think you might be overthinking their reaction.

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            And there’s nothing wrong with you at all. If more people accepted the truth of ‘he’s a great guy but there’s no spark’ there would be MUCH less angst in the world.

    5. Dan*

      I’m in the same boat. I’ve been seeing a girl for a couple of months whose company I enjoy, who is fun to hang out with, and is really, really great on paper.

      But, I’m not sure the spark is there either. The funny thing is, I’m not usually a friends with exes type (er, haven’t had exes I wanted to stay friends with) but this one I would.

      We see each other about once a week, and do very little texting or phone conversations in between. IOW, we haven’t developed a relationship that would be too difficult to walk away from; I figure the best thing for me to do is to keep it at this level until I’m certain one way or the other.

        1. Sourire*

          Have to agree. Well perhaps friends with benefits so to speak. Everyone wants different things out of relationships I suppose so it could be that this works for you two, but to me, if it’s only been a few months and I’m not dying to see the person, and want to talk to them when I can’t. it’s not for me. Not to say I blow up people’s phones or demand to spend every minute with them, but if I’m only seeing a guy once a week, there would definitely be chatting in between.

          It does sound like what my relationship with this guy would’ve turned out to be. Just kind of seeing each other so we have someone to do something with, but not really truly dating. But only Dan (and this girl) really know if this is working for them or not.

    6. Sourire*

      I want to thank everyone for their replies. I sent a (somewhat longer than necessary I’m sure) text message today. Only because it does seem like there’s friend potential there, a bit like Dan’s situation, so I wanted to include a bit more than, “it’s not working out”. I left it up to him (I’d love to be friends, but understand if you don’t…)

      I just really hope I won’t be looking back on this with regret the same way I do with the guy (who was a HOT personal trainer by the way, lol) I turned down for being “too nice” when I was a silly 18 year old. Who knows, that guy might have turned out to be awful, but I think when looking back on things you put on rose colored glasses and imagine the things that could’ve been. Hopefully I will find someone who will make it all moot and I’ll never want to wonder about another guy again!

      1. Sourire*

        …And turns out he apparently felt the exact same way. So an ego blow, but a relief as well.

      2. Dan*

        And sometimes back then, your rationalize to yourself that pretty much no person or relationship is perfect, and end up getting married when you should have exercised more caution and better judgement.

        As they say, good judgement come from experience, and experience comes from bad judgement.

        Basically, you never know for sure until you screw up a few times.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      I understand this. If I don’t feel attracted to a person right off, it’s not likely to happen. For me, sex and physical affection are a big thing in a relationship, and it’s essential that I have the hots for whoever I’m with (and they feel the same). I want to find someone with whom that will last through the inevitable changes that happen in a long-term partnership. People have said the same “oh you can grow into it” crap, but I’m not a teenager; I know myself and how it works for me and doesn’t work. You’re right; it wouldn’t be fair to him, especially if he’s more into you than you are into him.

      This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or he’s a dud. You guys are right–just not right for each other.

    1. Sourire*

      If that was for me – a couple of weeks and we just had our second date. So I know not a long time, but like I said, I was actively hoping he wouldn’t try to kiss me, so that can’t be good :/

      1. Dan*

        It takes me a little bit of time to figure out if I’m attracted to someone or not. Sure, there’s a spectrum where some are drop dead gorgeous, and others just aren’t ever going to cut it no matter how much time I give them, but there’s a wide middle ground where the personality really makes a difference.

        These days, if you won’t kiss me on the lips on the second date, there will be no third date.

        After two dates, you can probably get away with just ditching his texts. If you feel you have to say something, something generic like “I enjoyed getting to know you, but this isn’t going to work for me” is good enough.

        The further you get into something with him, the better the excuse you need to have when it’s time to break up.

  35. Camster*

    What’s a nice, not expensive housewarming gift for a boss? She just recently moved into a new townhouse and is throwing a small housewarming party soon. She downsized from a large house so she really doesn’t need more stuff. Plus, she is very picky about items for her home (this one was built from the ground up so she was able to select appliances, flooring, countertops, etc. — it was a six month long process so I heard about the many weekends shopping to get that perfect sofa, lamps, chairs). I was thinking of just getting her a gift card so that she can get what she wants. Is that tacky? She doesn’t drink so a bottle of wine is out. This is SoCal, by the way, so it’s going to be a very casual afternoon party.

    1. Colette*

      Soup in a jar, if you know her well enough to know about any food issues. It’s easy to make and consumable. Otherwise, I’d go with a plant.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Agreed. Also, homemade cookies in a nice container– she can keep the container.

    2. AnnieNonymous*

      Do you know her favorite tea or coffee? That sort of thing is always wanted, and it always gets used eventually.

      1. TootsNYC*

        I love this sort of thing.

        You could even make them yourself.

        Or, buy some blank correspondence cards, and print her name on the cards, and her return address on the back of the envelopes. With her new address!!
        (If you know her at all well, you could find a quote that applies to her, and print it small on the bottom of the cards; the ones I made for my daughter said, “I cannot live without books. —Thomas Jefferson”

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.”
          ― Desiderius Erasmus

    3. Dynamic Beige*

      If you’ve ever seen It’s a Wonderful Life, there’s a scene when they present the new homeowners with bread, salt and wine. If you Google “traditional housewarming gifts” you should get some returns that will tell you the 12 traditional gifts, the blessing that goes along with them (it comes from Norse traditions). One of them I read even says you can substitute juice for wine (and I would assume non-alcoholic wine) but I bet you could also substitute red wine vinegar. A nice loaf of bread (gluten free if necessary), some fancy fleur de sel or pink Himalayan salt that’s “different” than standard salt. I’ve done it a couple of times with people and it’s been well received, but I didn’t know about the other 9 things!

      It sounds like she’s really picky and has expensive taste, I would steer away from something for her home or a gift card. I don’t like to give gift cards because then the recipient knows how much I spent ;)

    4. TootsNYC*

      Or food stuff–a small jar of duck fat? or ghee? That she can use to make meals.

      or bacon-flavored salt!

      1. Sourire*

        I second a gourmet type food gift (or coffee/tea like suggested above) as long as you know that’s something she’s into. Since she’s downsizing it will be nice to give her something she can use up and not have to find a home for in her new, smaller space.

        1. Camster*

          Thanks everyone -great suggestions! She doesn’t drink coffe or tea (lots of water, though) but I can work with a lot of suggestions- maybe make a small gift bag with several items that she can use. I have a couple of weeks to observe what she might like.

          1. Stephanie*

            What about a nice water canteen? Contigo makes some really good stainless steel canteens that keep water super cold for several hours. If you know her taste relatively well, maybe a nice pitcher?

      2. Liz in a Library*

        I really like the idea of gourmet foods, to her preferences as best as you know. Consumable gifts don’t add unnecessary clutter, and people often won’t shell out for, like, really fancy oils or nice chocolate every day.

    5. Artemesia*

      Always consumables in this situation. We live near a shop that sells fancy olive oils for dipping or dressing salads and such. When we need a hostess gift other than a bottle of wine (we have a friend who doesn’t drink and although her husband does, I hate to bring a bottle of wine when she is cooking dinner) we get a nice bottle of olive oil. They have it in a fancy bottle and wrap it nicely and put it in a gift bag.

      1. Camster*

        I like the idea of fancy olive oil (she does cook!) or a small basket of consumables, too. I really appreciate all the ideas – gives me some choices to think about!

        1. Artemesia*

          Maybe I am a squirrel here but I feel a single item has more class or is more the right touch than a gift basket in these cases. A basket feels like something commercial to me — but maybe it is just me.

  36. Camster*

    And I hope this isn’t work-related! I only mention “boss” in terms of someone I know but not actually friends with!

  37. ScarletInTheLibrary*

    So I feel like someone has asked or commented on this in the past, but I don’t see it. It is partly work related, but not. If I’m at work, I’m at work. My industry and workplace culture leans toward no personal phone calls, almost no personal emails, and limited visits during on-the-clock time. Personally I like not being easily available. I may follow up during breaks, but that’s my choice. Friends are generally okay with this. Husband whines about this, but I think he has finally realized we work in different work cultures. Unless it’s an emergency that requires immediate action, then it can wait and I won’t drop everything to answer. The problem is that others who call me don’t seem to get this. My doctors’ offices and the dealership where I bought my car don’t leave messages and think calling three times in a row will make me answer. If I’m away from my desk, then it won’t make a difference. And if I am at my desk, my phone will get switched to silence the first time. I have told them several times to leave a message and I’ll get back to them. Or in the cause of the dealership, that I am not interested in a sales call. Is it futile to keep asking them to do this? Why do they think people will be immediate willing to answer? /End of rant

    1. Nicole*

      Your mention of the dealership reminds me of the time I was looking for a new car and despite me warning them not to call me they continued to harass me by repeatedly calling. I let them know under no circumstances would I ever buy from them due to that alone.

      I’d hate to be so out of touch while at work, but to each their own. My suggestion, assuming you have a smart phone, is put it on Do Not Disturb. The way it works on iOS is that you can set VIPs whose calls/texts will override that feature (such as your husband in case of emergency) but all other texts/calls won’t even wake the phone. I love this feature and use it every evening so there’s no chance of being woken up by incosiderate people. Hope you can find some thing similar if you don’t have an iPhone!

      1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        My phone is mostly dumb. It’s an older clone of a Blackberry. I know how I would be with smart phones and I don’t want that. I can switch it to silence, but I can’t control how long it’s on do not disturb.

    2. Sourire*

      I think sometimes doctor’s offices are hesitant to leave messages, especially if your voicemail is unidentified with a name, because of privacy issues. I’m not sure if that’s the issue here or not. Mine will leave messages, but unless it’s very general info, all the message usually says is that they’re sorry they missed me and I should call back at my convenience.

      As for the dealership, that just sounds obnoxious.

      1. fposte*

        Our health system just straight up won’t leave any message other than a “Please call back.” Life has gotten so much easier now that I can use their online site to see results and such.

      2. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        My voicemail has my name. But for some reason people lately have been thinking that my first name is really a different name. Think Anna versus Ana. That extra letter does make it a different name. And my last name isn’t horrible but it’s not common. One doctor’s office is really bad about thinking my first name is something else. I have given the okay (and this is a small office) to leave messages. I’m not asking for full-on descriptions of test results, but instead messages along the lines of the insurance company is asking for some bit of information that the typical person wouldn’t know off hand or that my test results are in. They don’t have a patient portal for this office. I have stopped returned phone calls without messages in hopes that they will start to do so. Otherwise I call back to see what the phone call was about and the receptionist basically states she forgot why they called and will call me back. And the cycle begins anew.

    3. AnnieNonymous*

      Are you in a situation where you see one doctor very frequently? I’m sorry for the private health question, but most people don’t see doctors enough for their phone calls to be an ongoing issue. But is there also a reason why you can’t pick up when it’s your doctor? IMO if you have a chronic health thing going on, you shouldn’t be turning your phone off after missing their call

      1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        No, it’s not an ongoing thing. I decided to force myself to do my yearly checkups after my birthday (and I have insurance now so no excuses) so I had several normal appointments close together. For some doctors, I’m a new patient so I think the lack of a baseline is making them cautious. I think two issues are at play. My insurance tries to get out covering basic things because they want to, so they try to ask weird questions (like did your great great aunt have signs of breast cancer before the age of 45). Some of the phone calls have involved passing these questions to me. And I think this doctor’s office handles a lot of high strung people, so they feel they have to call every two days to say that test results have not come in yet. But they have started to make calls after I got test results for my yearly checkup to thank me for picking them.

    4. TootsNYC*

      Why do these places have your work number? Have them call your cell, or set up a Google Voice number that sends you an email when someone leaves a message.

      And then tell everyone, when you give them the number: You need to leave a message there–I can’t answer this phone, but I absolutely get an email with the message in it.

      1. ScarletInTheLibrary*

        They don’t have my work phone number. I refuse to give that out. The only person that has it except work contacts is husband. And I generally push people to email instead of call unless the situation warrants it. The problem is people calling my cell phone thinking I will drop everything at work to pick it up or would have it off silent anyway. I have tried to explain to the worst offenders that I am at work and am unavailable. Hasn’t worked. Might have to just deal with it, but I guess with the advent of cell phones the expectation is to be available at all times.

    5. Artemesia*

      I am always surprised at our now instant contact culture. I probably averaged one or two calls to my husband at work per month during 35 years working in our last town. I realize with kid pick ups and such sometimes a little coordination is necessary but this socializing while working is a fairly new development with the age of instant access devices. I would feel that I was on a leash if my husband were contacting me constantly.

      For the car dealer an doctor’s office, reiterate no calls from the former and leaving a message for the latter. One issue is Hipaa as they don’t like to leave information even as to the sort of doctor it is on an answering machine that others might have access to.

    6. asteramella*

      Perhaps you could change your voicemail to something like, “You have reached ScarletInTheLibrary. I generally do not return calls until after X pm on weekdays. Please leave a message regarding the nature of your call and I will get back to you as soon as possible.”

  38. SL*

    What do you do when you’re starting to reach Bitch Eating Crackers mode with your friends? I find myself rolling my eyes every time I see a Facebook post or a tweet from one of them, regardless of how inoffensive the content is, and I feel horrible about it, but it also doesn’t mean I’m not annoyed… short of just not being friends with this person anymore, what options do I have?

    1. fposte*

      Is it one friend or all of them? If it’s one friend, take a break and see how you feel. If it’s all your friends, it’s probably you and not them.

      1. SL*

        1 friend, mainly. I’ve already been distancing myself for a bit because I knew I was getting to BEC mode. I know that the Real Solution would probably be to step away from her social media stuff, because I feel fine when we’re hanging out in person. I just haven’t… done it yet, because it’s also a long-distance friendship.

        1. TL -*

          Hide her from your feed but keep her as a friend. When you feel like it, you can see what’s up but otherwise you can ignore her easily.

      2. NicoleK*

        +1. I have a long term friend whom I can only handle in small doses now. I need breaks from her every once in a while.

          1. SL*

            Yeah, might have to do that… she’s not on FB much, but I’ll just mute her Twitter–I won’t see her tweets but she won’t see that I’ve done that.

    2. Mephyle*

      If it’s just social media, mute/hide them for a while so you don’t see their contributions. You could take a break from social media altogether, but if you don’t want to be so extreme, just mute the ones that are annoying you.

    3. Artemesia*

      I have a friendly acquaintance who constantly posts sappy inspiration crap and homeopathic remedy type stuff with a sprinkling of zenophobic political stuff (she is not actually intolerant and I think is seeing the ‘patriotic’ part of the message and not the racism that underlies many of these messages) on facebook. I don’t want to screen her out because she has had a very rough couple of years as the result of an accident and I do want to be supportive — so I just skip over her posts when they are goopy.

      But if you can’t do that, put that friend on some sort of screen on facebook so you don’t see her stuff — and if she asks you about something she posted, you can just say ‘oh I rarely read facebook and there is so much every day, I missed that.’

  39. JAL*

    How do I get my boyfriend (who is the epitome of chivalry) to get me to pay for his birthday dinner tomorrow? I keep insisiting that it’s my gift to him but he’s not buying it. I’m not overly feminist nor overly old fashioned and I don’t mind him paying for my stuff sometimes, but for God’s sake, it’s his birthday.

    1. Cruciatus*

      Maybe you go around him? Perhaps you could excuse yourself to use the restroom and catch the server and pay ahead so at the end of the meal you can just say “already taken care of.” Although it’s a bit ridiculous he’s that strict about it. As you said–it’s his birthday! Assuming you can afford this, he needs to sit back, relax, and enjoy!

      1. JAL*

        That’s a good idea! And yes, it is quite ridiculous.

        These are our first birthdays together and mine is next month. Knowing him, he’s already planning it, which is a big step up from my last long term relationship who got me an eggplant (yes, the actual vegetable) for one birthday and the next year he made me a candle. I’m not sure how to feel about it.

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Hahaha, I did that with my ex, when I took him to a nice place to eat. He went to the loo and I told the server I was paying the bill. So we took care of it. :)

      3. Strategies for redesigning the entire manifest universe*

        I’d try a sincere “I know you always pay, and I like that, but … this is your birthday; please let me do this for you?”

        I found out a long time ago that you have to be a bit careful about sneaking and paying for a meal – sometimes the ‘surprise’ is not appreciated. It’s counter-intuitive as hell, but some people just have weird ego issues with it.

        (If you’re old like me, you may remember there was an episode of The Sopranos that touched on this).

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      You might want to see if you can pre-pay somehow. I mean, if you’ve got reservations, you could call and speak to someone there about it. I’m sure this isn’t the first time they’ve run up against something like this, they may be able to offer a suggestion.

      Maybe he would rather have a present than a dinner?

      1. JAL*

        I already asked him and he told me my company is enough. I made him cookies though and went full wife status. (I do not cook extravagantly or bake normally).

    3. Sibley*

      I’d say you need to have a chat with your boyfriend about this in a broad sense. Ie, there are times when it’s possible to take chivalry too far and it actually becomes rude, hurtful, etc. Since the dinner is tomorrow, write a note and hand it to him when the check arrives. Note should say (nicely) that it’s his birthday and it will make you very unhappy and feel very hurt if he makes a fuss about you paying the check. Hopefully, that will forestall any objections.

      1. Dan*

        Sibley makes a good point. If he poo poos your note or otherwise is very dismissive, that’s no longer about good old fashioned chivalry, and much about respecting your partner. And that’s where you will have a decision to make about your long term future.

        1. JAL*

          He let me under the condition he gets to spoil me for my birthday next month, to which I agreed to. I’m all for equality

    4. TootsNYC*

      I’d say make the arrangement to pay when you make the reservation.
      (Or, make dinner at home…)

      And yes to the idea of hashing out the chivalry / independence thing; it’s an important dynamic to have right.

      I took my now-husband out for a date on our fourth date. I told him it was very important to me that I be the one to pick the activity, plan, and pay. It was a way I could send him the message that I was spending time with him because I very much WANTED to, and not because, well, he was asking, and hey it was a free movie…
      It was important to me, to send that message.

    5. Student*

      Definition – feminism
      – the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
      – the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities

      So, are you saying that you believe you are inherently inferior to your boyfriend? Maybe you should just let him buy his own birthday meal, then. I’m profoundly hoping you just don’t know what the word means. It makes me sad to see anyone in this day and age say they aren’t feminist, because they’re saying they think I’m inherently inferior to men. I’m not. It’s doubly sad when it comes from a woman.

      1. Artemesia*

        This. Feminism is the belief that women are human beings. My husband and son are both feminists and so are my daughter and son in law and I.

      2. ArabellaStrange*

        I cannot speak for JAL, but I’m female and decidedly not feminist. Yes, I know what the word means (and by that I mean that I know how it’s defined in practice, not just “Oh, but feminism just means social and political equality!”) No, I don’t think I or any other female is inherently inferior to men.

      3. JAL*

        I am somewhere in the middle. There are so many women today who freak out if their boyfriend pays for something and tries to make their boyfriend inferior. His ex was one of those women and I can see how much it hurt them. She would make him feel inferior for his career choice and thought she was better because she was a woman. For those reasons, I refuse to identify myself as a feminist in this world because there is truly a negative connotation with it.

    6. Artemesia*

      Arrange with the restaurant to make payment ahead of time; give them your credit card information so that no bill is presented. I have done this on occasion.

      But then sort out with your boyfriend just why he feels he gets to control such things; this is not a good sign. Chivalry is the charming flip side of ownership.

      1. JAL*

        please stop judging my boyfriend. You don’t know him. You know a sentence about him. He’s an amazing man.

    7. asteramella*

      I’d just let him pay.

      Then again, I come from a family where people will fight over who pays for the dinner bill to the point of shouting and physical grabbing/snatching of the check. It’s uncomfortable and weird. If someone really wants to pay, let them pay and show your appreciation in a different way.

  40. Alistair*

    So I’ve been needing to lose weight for a long time, mostly I don’t move enough, I believe my eating intake isn’t crazy.

    I know a number of you have talked about Couch to 5K programs here, and that sounds very neat. A PLAN might just be the thing to help me move and lose weight; I simply don’t know how to go about things myself, and especially don’t know how be safe.

    I found several different plans online, and so I wanted to ask you good people of AAM which plan you might use, how it’s been working, and any other thoughts you have about the programs.

    Maybe just maybe I can actually get off my butt and lose some weight!

    1. Cruciatus*

      I feel like I talk about my love of my Fitbit every week but, dammit, I love it. A pedometer won’t work for everyone, but it worked for me. I’m motivated by seeing the numbers. And it helps that I’m competing against a friend through the Fitbit software so I’m trying to reach MY goals and then beat them as well. But even without that, the Fitbit just made it clear how little I was moving and over time I realized how much easier it was to get a higher and higher step goal (at first it felt like I was walking FOREVER to get 10,000. Now it feels so much easier to get 15,000 throughout (most) days).

      But if that doesn’t interest you (or even if it does)–is there someone you can work out with or report to for accountability? They say that helps a lot. But I do know people that did the Couch to 5K programs and are doing all sorts of 5Ks these days and lost weight while doing it. What if you signed up for one a few months from now–you’ve paid the money so maybe you’ll get into the habit before then? The hardest part of exercising is putting on your sneakers! Well, for me. Once they’re on I’m like “OK, might as well just go 15 minutes.” Then I usually go much longer. Starting is the hardest part.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        I love my Fitbit too!! I’ve been using it now for about 3 months, and it’s the first thing that has made me feel like I’ve really done a “lifestyle” change. I get to between 12 and 13 thousand steps most days. I like seeing the number add up throughout the day, and it’s so much easier (for me anyway) to break it down into smaller pieces instead of having to set aside an hour each day to go to the gym or whatever.

        I would also recommend yoga. I do about 30 minutes most evenings (or mornings, if I’ve really got it together) and I love it. It helps me manage my stress, it helps me sleep better, and it’s great strength training.

    2. acmx*

      I liked the Fitbit, too, when I had it.

      I’ve never done C25k but I’m currently doing intervals – running then walking (whether 1/1, 3/1 or 5/1 depends on your fitness level).

    3. E*

      I’m doing couch to 5k and I love it! I wouldn’t do it primarily for the weight loss though – you don’t run very far and thus aren’t burning very many calories (for me about 150-200 per run, which I do 3x/week).

    4. ScarletInTheLibrary*

      Though I didn’t do it to lose weight, but instead to tone and gain muscle mass, I use Xbox Fitness. Basically the Kinect looks for muscles under tension while you do workout routines and it awards points. Each workout has challenges that one works to achieve as well as drill challenges where you to to bet the community average, your average, or your personal best. And the workouts range from 10 minute Pilates to half hour Jillian Michaels to hour P90x, Insanity, and Zumba routines. Since I hate running to run, this has been a great way for me to get in better shape. It knows when you are slacking and pushes you to give it your all. And the variety means I have more stamina for weight lifting work.

    5. Anna Moose*

      I know you said that your eating intake isn’t crazy, but I would suggest tracking your calories anyway in a food diary. I’ve been using My Fitness Pal for over a year and a half now, and have lost over 90 pounds. When I started, I was surprised at how many calories I really ate.

    6. Sourire*

      I remember really liking sparkpeople when I was working on losing weight. I used it for food tracking a lot, but they also had good workout videos and plans/exercises that you could customize to what equipment (or lack thereof) that you have available. They also had dieticians and fitness coaches on the message boards to answer questions along with the normal community of regular users.

    7. nep*

      It would be good to incorporate some interval training into any workout. Go as hard as you can for, say, 30 seconds (be it walking, running, skipping) then go at a more relaxed pace for a minute or so. Doing high intensity interval training (just on my own, in my apartment) combined with walking and jogging helped me lose weight. Along with cutting out processed food.
      Don’t forget strength training — It helps reshape the body and it can help you lose weight.
      You say you believe your food intake ‘isn’t crazy’. What do you mean? What are you eating? Such a huge part of losing weight, of course. Perhaps there are some tweaks you can make there.
      Remember that a lot of seemingly small changes can make a difference. And they’ve got to be sustainable changes — no short-term ‘fixes’.

    8. Setsuko*

      You obviously know best about your own situation. But as someone who has never eaten crazily and still struggled with my weight, I have found diet changes more effective than exercise changes. Couch to 5K programmes burn 50-100 calories per session in the first few weeks. Maybe 200 by the time you are running 5k at a time. And the program only calls for 3 sessions a week. By all means give it a go. But if you don’t see results I would recommend a calorie tracker. You might be surprised to find out how many calories you are getting. Exercise is important. It helps you get fit and healthy. But diet controls weight for the majority of people.

    9. Today's anon*

      I like the one at coolrunning dot com. Something I have observed though is that often people who start exercising feel they are “allowed” to eat more but you won’t be burning an immense amount of calories so it’s very easy to eat over the amount the calories you have burned. But you might get hungrier so it’s smart to think about low calorie nutritious things you can eat to not get so hungry (egg whites and apples are my go-to)

      1. Sourire*

        Such fantastic advice about the eating more when you start working out. I noticed the same thing – that I was much hungrier at first. Part of what helped was eating lower calorie/higher protein things in general, but also making sure to have protein/a bit of carbs RIGHT after working out. Like absolutely within an hour if at all possible, even if it’s just something like chocolate milk.That really helped me with curbing cravings later on in the day.

    10. YWD*

      There are a lot of Couch to 5K programs out there but my feeling is they are all similar – start with short bursts of jogging combined with walking and gradually build up the jogging and decrease the walking.

      I’ve tried a couple and can’t get past the fact that I don’t like jogging so I usually give up after a few sessions and go back to walking at a fast pace. The one I enjoyed the most was Zombies Run. In it you’re training so you can outrun the zombies at a remote outpost.

      If you haven’t been active start slowly and don’t overtrain. Good luck!

    11. Stella Maris*

      I’ve found that weight loss is really more about diet than exercise, but overall fitness and health is more about exercise than diet! (Which is frustrating!!)

      I’ve done a C25K with my spouse three summers in a row now. (We use the one from ZenLabs, it’s free.) We really felt the incremental aspect worked for us.

      And MyFitnessPal really opened my eyes to my calorie intake and distribution of proteins, fats, carbs, etc.

      Good luck!! (You might also find some insights in Gretchen Rubin’s newest book “Better Than Before” about habit-forming strategies.)

    12. GOG11*

      If there’s a running club near you, I’d look into that as a supplement to whatever plan you choose. If it turns out that you’re not super fast, don’t let the fast runners intimidate you – many of the fastest runners in my local club will run any pace and there are quite a few runners who run my pace that are happy to have someone to run with. The extra accountability and company helps keep me on track. Plus, some of the more seasoned runners have some great tips and can be really helpful.

    13. asteramella*

      If you like running, Couch to 5k can work.

      I personally hate running so I try to do anything else. YouTube has a lot of workouts online. I like some of Jillian Michaels’ stuff for strength and cardio. I also like yoga a lot and the channel YogaWithAdriene has a lot of different yoga flows of various difficulty levels.

  41. Emily*

    Neat things to do in Toronto? I might be going there next weekend.

    (The alternative plan is Ann Arbor, so if people have thoughts about Ann Arbor, feel free to mention those, too!)