weekend free-for-all – August 8-9, 2015

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school. If you have a work question, you can email it to me or post it in the work-related open thread on Fridays.)

Book Recommendation of the Week:  A Man Called Ove: A Novel, by Fredrik Backman. You wouldn’t think a novel about a grumpy curmudgeon’s reign over a neighborhood would be so charming and uplifting, but oh it is.

{ 745 comments… read them below }

    1. louise

      I thought that, too! What a tail. Poor Olive though–I’m sure she had the best of intentions.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I’ve started telling people that Olive got a kitten, rather than that we did. Olive is obsessed with her — follows her everywhere, constantly plays with her, often tries to bathe her before it devolves into what you see above. It’s adorable.

        1. Elizabeth West

          It reminds me of Maru and Hana. Maru sometimes did that when Hana was small. Of course, now the videos are them play-fighting all the time, since Hana is bigger.

        2. KarenT

          Ha! That is exactly how I explain my second cat. I have a cat named Penelope (see right), and she has a cat named Jasper.

    2. NoPantsFridays

      Interesting. I have 2 adult cats and one of them appears to have quite a long tail relative to her body length. It drags on the floor unless she holds it up which she usually does. While the other cat has quite a short tail, even though she is about 2.5 feet nose to tail. Not like manx short but still quite short relative to her length. The one with the long tail also swats me in the face with her tail like a swiffer duster, always nice to wake up to a mouthful of hair.

    1. Dynamic Beige

      Too adorable… she’s just like a teenager. “Mom! Get off me! I can bathe myself!” And that light tip on the end of her tail, so cute.

  1. Dynamic Beige

    Can’t believe I made it so early!

    We were having a discussion this morning about how to check for plagiarism online. I remember you saying Alison that you had found a few places where your posts were being reused without permission… what did you use to find them? This is not work related, but a hobby writing group (which of course all of us want to be able to chuck our day jobs and get paid but… that’s not going to happen for a while)

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      I actually just google a sentence from the post, with quotation marks around it. It’s pretty appalling how much turns up that way. Here’s an example from this heavily plagiarized sample cover letter:

      https://www.askamanager.org/2014/02/heres-a-real-life-example-of-a-great-cover-letter-with-before-and-after-versions.html

      Here are the results for the phrase “”I’ve built my career in a variety of roles and industries, mostly in small companies where I was not just the admin but also gatekeeper”:
      https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=%22I%E2%80%99ve+built+my+career+in+a+variety+of+roles+and+industries,+mostly+in+small+companies+where+I+was+not+just+the+admin+but+also+gatekeeper,%22&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

      1. Kristen

        I used to do the same thing when I was in school and questioned some of the writing by my classmates in our group writing assignments. Plagiarism disgusts me to the core. There’s a part of me that wants to send a message to the LinkedIn profile (fourth search result).

        1. A.D. Kay

          Years ago, I discovered that the MINISTER at our former church plagiarized other writers for some of his sermons. As well as made up his own facts wholesale. Interesting times, those were.

          1. my whole existence is flawed

            Oddly enough, I find this highly believable and even somewhat easy to forgive. The plagiarism, I mean. When it comes to writing gigs, I think that there are few that would rival cranking out sermons, week after week, year after year, in terms of sheer lack of reward and appreciation. “Great sermon today, Minister!” Have more insincere words ever been uttered?

            I’m not saying it’s good that he plagarized. But if you were to compile a comprehensive list of the evils that lurk within the hearts of men – this one’s gotta be real close to the bottom.

      2. Dr. Ruthless

        I find it deeply amusing that AAM is the fifth result. (I realize you probably don’t. Sorry)

      3. Windchime

        Oh! This reminds me of a plagiarism story. It’s work-related, so you can delete if you want. We got a resume last week full of weirdly generic phrases (“Bullshit buzzword bingo”, as my boss calls it). Things like “Drives technology strategy by providing recommendations to augment and enhance existing business processes to increase productivity and efficiency by application of technology”. There was a whole page of that kind of crap, so on a whim I Googled one of the sentences. And there it all was, copied directly out of a job description that had been posted online. Based on the phone screen, we had already decided that the candidate was not going to progress to an interview, but the blatant plagiarism sealed the deal.

        1. Intrepid Intern

          I had an internship one summer where I helped with hiring and screening applications. Several people basically re-use that cover letter. At the request of my managers, I put a little “Plagiarize from [link]” note in their file. So now whenever they apply, it’s quite clear how much they plagiarize.

      4. Audiophile

        One of the results points to someone’s LinkedIn page. He’s copied and pasted almost two entire paragraphs from that sample cover letter. He added 3 sentences and a changed the information in the parenthesis. Everything else is verbatim.

        1. Persehone Mulberry

          So, this is my letter, and for better or worse I’ve pretty much scrapped and reworked it because of how much it’s been “borrowed.” I’d hate to miss out on a job because a hiring manager recognized it and assumed *I* was the plagiarist!

          1. Windchime

            That’s too bad that you had to do that. The “skills” section that I mentioned above was clearly lifted from an official job description (not another cover letter), so in the case of our applicant there was no doubt as to who was the plagiarist. (Your letter is fantastic, by the way).

          2. Random CPA

            It’s frustrating to know you passed it along to help others only to have it bite you in the butt by having people steal it.

      5. Finding Nemo

        Good lord, I was expecting to find a whole bunch of links to resume/cover letter advice websites (using the sample without permission or citation), I didn’t think it would turn up so many /actual/ resumes using that phrase (and several around it) verbatim!

      6. Sara

        This is what I used to do when I had to check student work for plagiarism, too. I don’t know if it catches everything, but it caught enough for my purposes!

    2. Mimmy

      Not sure about your writing group, but at least with school, there’s a program through which you can submit your papers, and it somehow checks against other papers to make sure your work is original. I want to say it’s called Safe Assign?

      1. GOG11

        Safe Assign is Blackboard’s plagiarism software, I believe. There’s another site called Turn it in. I’m not sure if either of them offer free services, though.

          1. Dear Liza dear liza

            Neither is free, and nor are they as good as the Google method Allison described above. Sorry you’re going through this,OP.

              1. Anna the Accounting Student

                I don’t really mind Blackboard — the real problem is dealing with CUNYfirst. (Why they nixed Portal in its favor, I have no idea.)

                1. Mimmy

                  THIS!!!!! I think it’s because they wanted our school (Professional Studies) to be consistent with the rest of the CUNY system. Jury’s still out over here, but I’m not sure I like it.

                2. Anna the Accounting Student

                  In all likelihood the “uniformity” thing is the excuse they were going on. That being said, they forgot about how important functionality is, too.

              2. hermit crab

                Haha, the Blackboard plagiarism checker is fun. It’ll be triggered by common context-free phrases like statute/document titles or the names of government agencies, not to mention the URLs that might appear in your reference list. I complained about it in class once and the professor was like, yeah, I don’t pay attention to that at all.

            1. Dynamic Beige

              Oh, no one’s going through it, it was just a question someone had around copyright and how to prove that your stuff is yours/what to do if you did find someone had reposted your stuff (or outright stole it) without permission and I remembered that thread, but I couldn’t remember how Allison found them out. I described to them what I could remember about randomly checking every now and then, but I couldn’t remember how the random checking was done!

  2. louise

    Going to the wedding of an acquaintance this evening. It’s out of town at a very swanky venue that I really want to see all dressed up for an over the top wedding. Is it wrong to have a selfish motive in attending a wedding?

    Unrelated, I’ve had several friendships grow recently with people who have wanted to get to know me for awhile, but I just didn’t have the bandwidth. We get along wonderfully and my husband loves them, too. It’s such a satisfying feeling to expand my circle organically and have it go well.

    1. Not helpful

      Don’t think it’s wrong. I am not a fan of weddings, receptions. Don’t exactly enjoy a big party with lots of people you don’t know and the hosts are too busy. So if there was extra reasons that would make going better I’m all for it.

      1. Stephanie

        Yes, this. I declined attending a friends’ wedding mainly for cost reasons. But a big factor was that I wasn’t sure I’d know anyone at the wedding aside from her and her husband (she’s a high school friend and we didn’t have a really tight-knit high school group that kept in touch). The cost plus really only knowing the hosts really dissuaded me from going.

    2. The Other Dawn

      Not selfish at all. I went to a wedding last weekend and was thrilled to be able to wear a gorgeous dress and eat awesome food. Since it was a friend of my husbands getting married, I really had no desire for the event itself. But I went so I could buy a new dress and eat filet and other awesome food.

    3. Natalie

      I don’t see any problem with it. If they didn’t want you to come, they wouldn’t have invited you. So go!

    4. Revanche

      Nah, I usually feel like I need more than one good reason because I don’t love attending weddings where I don’t know a lot of the guests all that much. (Nothing against the loved ones, I’m just not into socializing with strangers all that much. Hi, introvert here.)

  3. Summer

    I’m sorry this is really long. I usually just read here, not post, but I just wrote this out because I respect the community here and would really appreciate some advice. Basically, I’ve been kind of struggling for a few years now, and I don’t know how to ask for help. I’m 20, live with my parents and am on their health insurance. I really need to talk to them about this, so I can see a doctor, but I don’t know what to say and I’m scared about how they’re going to react.

    Not sure if this is when it started, but the year after high school, I became really socially withdrawn. I just kind of stopped returning friend’s messages or attending anything social, and was spending all my time on my own. I’ve always been introverted, so didn’t really even realize I was doing it, till one day I realized I hadn’t hung out with a friend in like nine months, and how lonely I was. I didn’t really have the motivation to do anything about it though, so on New Year’s Eve that year, I ended up dressing up and telling my family I was going to a party, so as not to worry them. (Because I knew they were worried that I didn’t seem to have friends anymore.) I spent most of that night on a train platform two hours from home, trying to decide whether or not to jump. I eventually made it home the next day, and put that bad year down to loneliness.

    So going forward, I put a lot of effort into reconnecting with my old friends, as well as making new ones when I started school, and now I see friends regularly. Except it didn’t make things better. I truly love my friends, but it will often take me literally a whole day to drag myself out to see them. I’ll have a wonderful time with them, laugh a lot and feel great, but the very next day, I’m back home feeling horrible and thinking about ending it.

    This last semester at school was also really hard. I was barely making it to classes, failing because I was barely handing anything in, and I don’t even really know why. The work’s not that hard – I just somehow couldn’t. So I put it down to stress – that I’d taken on too much with school and job responsibilities, and I’d be better once my schedule was less full.

    So after school ended, I deliberately took on zero responsibilities during the break – no work, no study, literally nothing stressful at all – thinking this would be the time when I could finally sort myself out. Except it hasn’t gotten better; it’s gotten worse. Some mornings, it’s been taking me 2-4 hours to drag myself out of bed, even when fully rested. It’s taking me multiple weeks to motivate myself to reply to text messages from close friends. I’ve barely gone outside, my stuff is absolutely everywhere, there’s rotting food everywhere I can’t motivate myself to clean up. I don’t understand this at all. I have literally no responsibilities, yet I feel so overwhelmed – like I’m drowning.

    I really need advice on how to tell my parents about this stuff. I know they care about me and I know that they would want me to tell them, but I find them hard to talk to and I also strongly suspect they’re not going to react the way I need them to. They’re just not going to get it. They tell me over and over again how lazy I am for not cleaning up or getting stuff done, and I agree with them, but I’ve tried so hard to change and I can’t. I’m pretty sure their response is going to be like “If you would just get to bed earlier and get up in the morning, you’d be better off.” (Their favorite mantra.) I don’t know what to do.

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      *hugs* Summer, you sound as if you’re depressed (withdrawn, not seeing friends, feeling overwhelmed with life, not handing assignments in). There are things you can do, other than medication (I’d suggest that too) such as practice mindfulness, exercising, therapy of some sort. And after a while, even though it seems impossible now, it does lift. It does.

    2. Ruffingit

      See a doctor. Now. Being on your parents insurance doesn’t mean they have to know. Find a doctor and go see them. Pay the copay. If they prescribe something, there will be a copay for that, but it shouldn’t be much. If your school has a counseling service or health center, then go there. Google DBSA, it’s a free support group for depression and bipolar. It will get better. You will not always feel like this. Also, you can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. They can help with resources. Thinking of you. You’re not alone!

      1. anonanonanon

        They are likely to find out if the insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of a visit and they get a bill. Some insurance companies will even send a statement if the visit is entirely covered. If OP’s parents are the primary on the insurance, there’s a good chance anything from the insurance company will be addressed to them.

        Regardless, I’d still recommend that the OP see a doctor and, if it’s a therapist or counselor, talk with them about how to broach this conversation with their parents.

        1. Kristen

          I agree. By seeing a counselor, they should be able to help you tell your parents about how you’re feeling and they could attend a therapy session as well. I see below someone recommended writing a letter. That could be very helpful as well. You know your parents though and if you think they will just brush off your feelings (as laziness, etc) then going to the doctor/therapist right away will be your best option. I wish you the best.

        2. Ruffingit

          You’re right, they may get the bill. But hopefully by that time the OP will be on medication, therapy, or some combination of both and she may feel stronger and more able to have the conversation with her parents. Either way, she needs to see someone ASAP! I feel for her having been there myself. Anxiety and depression can take so much away.

          1. Windchime

            Normally when a patient turns 18, the patient is moved off the parents’ account and onto their own. Even if the patient is still on a parent’s insurance. I agree that you sound depressed; it’s not something to be ashamed of. It can either be situational or a chemical imbalance, but either way, it’s important for you to seek medical attention. When you go to the doctor, ask to be set up on your own account so that the bill comes in your name. It’s not an unusual request and I’m sure they will accommodate you.

            Good luck. Depression sucks. It’s so hard to recognize when you are in it. I’ve been there, Summer. Reach out for help and you’ll start feeling better soon.

            1. Summer

              I didn’t know I could do that? Have my own name on an account, if I’m not paying for it? If I could ensure that all the mail comes addressed to me, I would go straight away.

              1. doreen

                When my adult children were still on my insurance, any communication from the insurance company about their claims came addressed to them , not me. So did bills from doctors, labs, etc in exactly the same way that communication to my husband is addressed to him even though I am the policyholder. I don’t think my kids needed to do anything to set it up, ( it may have been that way even before they turned 18)

      2. Summer

        Thank you, Ruffingit. I have thought about organizing to see a doctor on my own, but I’m pretty sure they will find out because of the insurance thing. (I don’t have the money to pay out of pocket.) I feel like talking to them after I’ve seen a doctor is going to be harder than before because they’ll be really upset that I didn’t come to them. I want to talk to them now. I just don’t know how to start the conversation.

        1. TootsNYC

          If you see the doctor or counselor first, that person can help you with wording, etc.

          Get help the fastest way possible. Be very, very selfish, and focus on finding someone you think will help you. Your folks will cope.

          not alex is right: “it’s not uncommon and it can get better.”

        2. beth

          My parents have some trouble talking about depression even though they accept and support my talk therapy and medication. My therapist has been an excellent support, but if you don’t have that I recommend working on your reaction to their reaction. For example – even though my parents are supportive of me they still use all sorts of offensive language. I hope that changes over time, but since it’s been 20 years I’ve mostly worked on my reaction to their reaction. Basically: I accept that this is me, whether or not they believe it’s medical or not I need this treatment to keep myself alive and living a life I can tolerate. It’s tough if your main support doesn’t understand and can’t communicate with you so I manage by ignoring them whenever they upset me and then talk to my therapist to get neutral help where I can work through my reaction to them and focus on my next steps. It took me a while to find a therapist and medication (by which I include diet and supplements and anti-depressants) that worked for me, the hardest part is working that out when you feel so rotten. I tried to remember that there was an other side because I was lucky enough to have friends who stuck by me and modelled some of the ways lives can be happy, but you might need to rely on hope or faith or good memories. It’s ok to use whatever you need to survive, and I hope that you find happiness on the other side. Please also remember that in many countries it’s ok to phone 911 for help – you’d do that of you saw someone else who was about to die, probably, so it’s ok if you are in a bad spot and need help. Thinking of you :)

    3. not alex

      I’m sorry you’re struggling; it really sucks but know that it’s not uncommon and it can get better. All the things you describe– sleeping too much, lack of motivation to clean, isolating yourself– they’re all symptoms that can be worked through with a therapist (and don’t diagnose yourself or let anybody online diagnose you; you need to see a professional in person).

      Most schools have counseling services for students that won’t involve your parents at all (or, likely, need insurance info). Check your school’s student affairs site. I did this in undergrad (and grad school) and found it immensely helpful.

      Alternatively, I would suggest writing your parents a simple note. “Dear Mom and Dad: I’ve been struggling with sadness, I feel very isolated, and simple tasks just feel overwhelming to me right now. I feel certain that I need to seek counseling, so I’d like to use health insurance to find a therapist. Please help me do so. –Summer”

      If they balk, then honestly they aren’t doing right by you, and you need to contact the insurance company yourself, or, again, use your student services.

      Sending you positive thoughts; hang in there!!

      1. Summer

        Thank you for the suggestion of writing a note. I really do appreciate it, but honestly I can envision myself doing that even less than I can talking to them. It’s just not the way we do things. I realize this isn’t a normal situation but I just cringe at even the thought of leaving a letter. I think I need to start a conversation.

        1. Trixie

          I can see that. I think just by getting the words out, “I need to talk to you about something” would be an enormous start. Just know you have quite a few (albeit, complete strangers) already in your corner, pulling for you and alongside you.

        2. TootsNYC

          Just get to the doctor. Have the conversation afterward. Don’t let this difficulty derail the act of getting started on getting help.

    4. Sparky

      Definitely see someone about depression, but also please consider a physical in addition to seeking mental help. You might be anemic, low in vitamin D, hypothyroid or a zillion other things that contribute to feeling depressed. You can do this and see a psychiatrist, psychologist or a counselor, but please include this step. Too often the physical part of depression gets overlooked, in my opinion. Your parents might be more open to you seeing someone about your low energy, and a physician might have a good referral for you for someone who works with depression. I have an underactive thyroid and I struggle with anemia as well as dysthymia, and it can be hard to figure out which system needs support. But once I got on meds for my thyroid and got everything else balanced it was easier to work with a therapist, and to make changes I wanted to make.

      Good luck to you, Summer, please take care of yourself.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Yes, the first step should be a full physical workup, just to be sure that you’re OK. If you need to write your parents a letter so that you can get out what you need to say without them steamrollering all over you or getting lost in your thoughts, then do it. You need to take care of you and when you can’t do it all on your own, you need to learn how from people who are trained in those ways. Your family physician should be able to refer you to a counselor or psychiatrist as well, which is one place to start.

      2. TL -

        Oh yes. I was very down and unmotivated with unmedicated hypothyroidism. Going on medication made all the difference in the world!

      3. Not So NewReader

        I think this gives you an idea of how to talk to your folks.
        “Mom and Dad, I don’t feel like I am myself lately. I know you have expressed concern in the past. I would like to start to find out what to do. I would like to go to a GP and see what she recommends.”

        1. Sparky

          I don’t know if you’re familiar with the advice column website Captain Awkward (dot) com, but they are a very supportive community for many issues, but especially for things like depression and anxiety. The site is respectful, well moderated and full of wise posters, The Captain is pretty wise too. There are archives of advice questions and you could search by topic, if only to get a sense of community and to see how many lovely people struggle with these issues. There might be some good advice there, too.

    5. John B Public

      Summer, it is really great that you’ve reached out. So many people suffer in silence, thinking they can “handle it”, whatever their version of ‘it’ is. But going to an expert, or even just people who care, can mean so much.

      First, what you’re feeling is completely normal. There are seven billion people on this planet and I guarantee you that many of them have experienced what you’re feeling. So you’re not alone, and others before you have gone through this and have gotten better. So there is hope for you.

      Second, the fact that you need treatment probably can’t be hidden from your parents, and that’s ok. Like I said before this is a normal health condition, so think of it like that: if you got pneumonia, you’d go to the doctor, right? This is a health problem, and you’re going to need to see a specialist in order to get the best treatment. Maybe a couple, because you’ll “gel” better with some than others.

      Third, your parents love you. They wont necessarily understand what you’re going through, but then again many health conditions (menopause, kidney stones, migraines, etc) don’t show obvious outward signs either. So you don’t have to “look” sick for your parents to understand that you ARE sick.

      Fourth, Make an appointment, today if you can. Leave messages with a psychiatrist. Call back Monday. Get the ball rolling now, because it’s a productive thing to do and you may well feel better for having done something. Most of us like to be productive, to have feelings of accomplishment. This is an empowering thing you can do, by taking charge of your treatment- the First step you’ve already done, and that’s admit you have a problem, and it’s one many people never get past. Take that next step.

      Fifth, check out (website!) suicide dot org, click on your state, and get a phone number to call. Go ahead and call, and however much time you want to take just talk to them.

      And thank you for sticking around for us. You come across as a good person, your thoughts are well organized, I think you have a lot to offer and that’s just what I can get from your post. If we met I guarantee I’d be able to come up with many more. So keep choosing to stick around. Just a little longer, ok? Give your future the best chance you can. You can get better.

      -Ben

    6. NDQ

      Summer,
      Thank you for posting. You are so brave. There’s so much great advice here, I have nothing to add but to say I know you can do this. It’s hard to reach out and ask for help, but you can do this and it will get better.

      Please post an update soon and let us know how you are doing.

      NDQ

    7. Sunday

      Hugs.
      You’ve done a great job of reaching out here.
      There are some places you can call for confidential help, both in helping you directly, helping you figure out how to talk with your parents, and help getting medical attention. Here are two:

      Crisis Hotline: 800 273-8255. They handle a range of issues, 24/7/365.
      Samaritans hotline in NYC: 212 673-3000, in Boston: 877 870-4673. They help with emotional support, 24/7/365, and you can call them from anywhere in the country. Posting two phone numbers in case you don’t get through quickly on the first one.
      If it’s hard to talk to someone on the phone, just read them the post you wrote to us.

      We all want to hear back from you. Please let us know how you are doing.

      1. Summer

        Thank you. I probably will make a call. It’s so much easier to talk candidly about this stuff when it’s anonymous, I just feel so anxious at the thought of doing it as me.

        1. Nashira

          You’re not the only one who feels more comfortable talking it out anonymously first, please believe me. I’ve spent a long time feeling suicidal and depressed due to untreated PTSD – if I hadn’t been able to talk about going to a doctor etc I’m not sure I’d have been able to go.

          Also, treatment can *work.* It’s only been a couple weeks under a psychiatrist’s care and four months of good therapy, but I’m already having more good hours than bad. Some days I’ve felt good the entire day. Meds can work, therapy can work, I promise.

          Maybe you can roleplay talking to your parents, as notSummer, to help you figure out how to do it as Summer?

    8. FutureLibrarian

      I used to be really embarrassed to talk about my issues with depression and anxiety. However as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized a lot of people deal with these things. I know it is really scary to approach your parents about this, I remember how scary it was when I told my mom and dad. I was about 13 when I first started seeing a therapist. Really bad bullying for several years led to a lot of issues. I still see someone on and off as needed almost 15 years later.

      Be honest, and tell them what you need. Also, know that you might need to try a few counselors to find the right fit. And, don’t be afraid to try medication if you and your doctor think it might be helpful. It isn’t right for everyone, but can often be what you need.

      I’m sorry you’re going through this. It’s a difficult battle, and I admire your courage in asking for the help you need.

    9. my whole existence is flawed

      I’m not a doctor, but you sound like you’re suffering from depression and maybe a bit of social anxiety.

      Again, I’m not a doctor, but if I were you I would appreciate hearing about this: if you and your doctor decide to try a course of medication, you might want to read up on SSRIs, which are a very common form of antidepressant. SSRIs are know for having certain side-effects. You may want to read up on a drug called Bupropion, which is an alternative, non-SSRI drug that I know *I* preferred it to any SSRI drug.

    10. Summer

      Thank you to everyone for responding. I am reading and really do appreciate it. As I said, I’m trying to talk to my parents about this. How much detail should I give? And should I talk to just one, or together, or separately? My dad would be easier to talk to, but I feel like my mother would be hurt if she hears it from him afterwards. But together seems intense.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Can you tell them both at dinner where the food serves as a bit of a distraction to break up the intensity?

        As far as detail, you know your folks. If they are supportive than say what you want to say. If they are going to play 10,000 questions then maybe dial it back by saying “let’s wait to see what the doctor says”.
        I personally favor telling them both at the same time, then you do not have to deal with he-said- she-said later on. And they might spend less time discussing it later- which is always a good thing in my mind- because they discussed it together with you from the get-go.

        I am assuming your parents are okay people. If you have a long, negative history with one or the other then just ignore me here.

      2. ActCasual

        Summer, I wonder if you printed out your initial post here and gave it to them to read, editing the final paragraph about your parents in a way that makes you more comfortable, and sit with them while they read it, would that help to start a conversation? They can’t interrupt your written words, and you’ve expressed yourself so well here. I suspect they are very worried about you and *hoping* it’s just laziness. You know them best, of course, so I could be totally off base. Good luck! Hugs and support to you.

    11. TootsNYC

      Well, there’s the old “how to tell someone their cat has died when you were catsitting” strategy.

      First you mention one small part: “I’m feeling really overwhelmed by very simple stuff–I just don’t feel normal.”
      The next day you say, “I have so much trouble getting motivated–it doesn’t feel normal.”
      On day 3: “I wonder if I have depression–one of my friends suggested it.”
      On day 4: “I called the insurance company–it turns out mental health is covered. I’m thinking of talking to the doctor about this.”

  4. Today's anon

    I’m going on an easy hike tomorrow with potential dip in a lake! I’m so excited to get out of town. A bit nervous since I don’t know the group (it’s organized by a local outdoors store). Any ideas what to bring for food? It’s an all-day thing.

    1. nep

      For something like this one thing I’d bring is some homemade protein / energy bars in a ziploc bag — very portable, and satisfying/filling.
      Sounds like fun. Enjoy.

    2. Aurora Leigh

      Sounds fun! My favorite trail mix is dried cranberries, whole almonds, and dark chocolate chips. Sometimes the chips get melty though.

    3. GH in SoCAl

      I put two baked chicken drumsticks in a ziploc bag and a cut-up bell pepper in another, plus some nuts and maybe an apple, anytime I’m going to be out of the house all day. Perfect picnic food! Homemade is best because you don’t want it too salty. Trail mix or Kind bars are great, but I do best if I have an actual meal with some solid protein and a nice water-filled vegetable. The oils in the chicken feel so good on sun-parched lips.

      Don’t forget a napkin, and to pack out the bones with you in the empty ziploc. (Or pull the meat off the bones at home and just bring that.)

    4. The IT Manager

      Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches can last and hit the spot when you’re hungry. I also like boiled eggs. Granola as was mentioned already.

    5. AnotherFed

      Nuts, Cliff bars (or another variety that holds up well to heat), and water! For a real meal, consider pepperoni or salami/summer sausage and fruit – those are pretty shelf stable and non-messy, and you can bring bread or crackers to go with it.

      Personally, I also bring a few single-serve packages of rice krispy treats and cheeze its to handle immediate hangry problems when it isn’t a good time to stop.

    6. acmx

      If you’d like people to be amazed at what you bring, bring what I once did: pizza slices. Haha.
      It was a swamp, I thought sandwich would get soggy, I didn’t want chicken because my hands might not be clean, etc. It was easy to pack, it get be eaten hot or cold, I had leftovers, I could use the foil to hold it while I eat, no bones…
      It was maybe a four hour day. I didn’t need high nutrition, just something to eat!

      1. Persehone Mulberry

        This is OT from “good hiking food” but your story reminds me of the photo my daughter showed me the other day of a college student warming some kind of food by sandwiching it between the power blocks for his and his roommate’s laptops.

    7. Today's anon

      Thank you for your great suggestions! I brought a sandwich, an apple, some trail mix and 2 powerbars. I only ate the sandwich at lunch, and had a powerbar and a bit of the trail mix after. It was good. I was not that hungry overall and it was hot, I drank a ton of water. It was really fun. Someone brought pasta and someone brought a dish of curried garbanzo beans and chicken, which impressed all of us. I will save the idea of the pizza for a special occasion! :)

  5. Aurora Leigh

    I know there is a lot of cat lovers here, and I wondered if any of you have tips on giving kitties medicine?

    A few weeks ago I found an orphaned/abandoned kitten. She was nearly starving and had a respiratory infection. She’s on her second round of antibiotics and doing so much better! But after a week of eye drops and now coming toward the end of her bottle of oral antibiotic, her patience is gone!

      1. Aurora Leigh

        Cool! I’d never heard of those! Too bad hers is a liquid. If she ever needs pills I’ll know what to try. Thanks!

        1. Today's anon

          I answered below but you might want to try different things. My cat does much better with a pill rather than a liquid and sometimes there is that option. I had to wash my walls when I gave her the liquid, she would just flung it all around!

          1. Aurora Leigh

            Thanks! I’m going to try the towels thing tonight. At least there’s only a couple more days to go.

        2. Hlyssande

          For liquid, I was advised to put the syringe in via the side of my cat’s mouth rather than straight in. If you dispense it straight in they can spit it out. If you go at it from the side it’s much more likely to go in correctly. It seemed to work pretty well.

          Good luck!

        3. Anna the Accounting Student

          Can it be administered in food? That’s what we did with my kitty’s giardia medication when we got her.

    1. Today's anon

      This is what works for my cat – but she is elderly so probably more mellow in general than you kitten, but I’ve been given her oral antibiotics for her thyroid twice a day for at least 5 years. I wait until a moment she is relaxed, sleeping, really as relaxed as possible and I also consciously relax myself (even if I’m in a hurry!) and have everything ready by me. I put her on my knees and do it as quickly as possible (gently but with purpose). The trick is that it takes her a while to realize what is going on and by then we are almost done (I’ve also gotten better with practice). Sometimes it doesn’t work and I let her go and then wait again. The trick for me has really been to have her relaxed and me relaxed.

      Another cat I had, I could hide any pill in a greenie and even just in the food, and she would just gobble the whole thing, none the wiser. But my current cat is way too smart for that, she’ll eat around this tiny little pill, it’s kind of amazing. Also sometimes wrapping a cat in towels seems to be useful, never worked for my cats, seemed to aggravate them, but maybe it might work for yours.

      1. AnotherFed

        Towels help some – if you can burrito them in the towel, then the Claws of Doom might not get you while you get the meds in. Vengeance WILL come in some other form, but at least you won’t be bleeding.

    2. Trixie

      Meds have come along and are often available in chews or a topical lotion for the ears. Not always cheapest but sometimes worth it for older kitties.

    3. Meadowsweet

      On the plus side it means she’s feeling a lot better! :)
      I hate to say it, but the only thing that worked once my kitten was feeling even a little better (similar situation) was just doing it very matter-of-factly :/ I let her know it was going to happen, got it ready in front of her, grab/squirt (I’m assuming you have the liquid), then what a brave & clever kitten! :) It probably helped that it was always just before a meal time too, though at that point it was pretty much always meal time :)

    4. Sunday

      One thing I’ve done is ask for a vet tech appt to help us learn to do this better. Describe it to me, and then watch/help as I try to do it their way.

      I try to have everything ready, and the antibiotic close to room temperature, before collecting the cat. I also try to put the meds between her cheek and gums, bit by bit. Too much at once is too hard to swallow and gives mine, at least, an amount worth giving right back to me. For this cat, in the long run it’s easier on both of us if she can get a shot instead of meds at home.

      The good news is, the fact that she’s harder to medicate means your kitty is feeling a lot better.

    5. Windchime

      My kitty has had antibiotics a couple of times in his short life (he is three years old). My vet usually gives him a long-acting antibiotic injection instead of having to have pills or liquid, and it seems to work great. I don’t know how old your kitten is; if she is still a baby then maybe the shot wouldn’t be appropriate for her.

      Other people have recommended the Pill Pockets and that usually works, but my kitty is a super picky eater and he turns his nose up at any treat that isn’t his favorite brand/flavor.

      1. Aurora Leigh

        Yes, she’s been one sick kitty! She’s had two of those shots plus this liquid. It is so good to have her healthy!

    6. Cat piller

      https://youtu.be/aWlpsTh6ddk
      (Video features a very, very patient cat.)

      If the cat wants to run, it helps to make the cat burrito on the floor, kneel with the cat’s head facing away from you and her shoulders between your knees, give the pill or liquid quickly, then let the cat run. Get the whole thing over with as fast as you can.

      Or, can you add the medication to cat food? If your vet’s okay with that, you could try adding the liquid to canned cat food. The cat might notice the taste… Or you might find a drama-free way to give her medication.

    7. Christy

      Do you live with anyone else? The only thing that worked for my cat was to wrap her in a blanket to limit her mobility, then scruff her so she was immobilized (person 1), then pry open her jaw and squirt the liquid into her mouth (person 2). It felt absolutely barbaric, but it was the only thing that we could do to get her to take the medicine. Next time I will just try pill pockets.

      1. fposte

        I know a cat–an ordinarily calm and cuddly cat–who just could not deal with the liquid and flailed so badly each time, even just with her head, that the vet was concerned she’d aspirated some of the liquid. She was better off with the shots.

        1. Today's anon

          Yes, mine would flail and also start drooling so stuff everywhere. And the medication was this bright pink! For months I was finding new places where this pink liquid had found its way. I am so glad there was something in pill form for her.

    8. Rachel

      Unlike some of the other posters, I’ve had better luck with liquid medication than pills–mind you, if your cat is on Clavimox, mine have always hated the taste of that and turn into little spitting machines. IMHO, if you get most of it down the cat, you’re doing well. ;)

      Both of my cats are on longer-term medication, and if you ever need something like that, I’ve had great luck with compounding pharmacies that can mix the medication with fish flavor. Some of them even make the flavorings in-house so it’s fresh and very fishy.

  6. Mimmy

    Just venting, but any insights are appreciated.

    Anyone ever feel like they’re really smart academically, but then feel stupid in other life areas? That’s how I feel sometimes. I’ve always done very well in school, especially since college; I’ve particularly enjoyed my graduate programs, and was even once told a paper I’d written for a class could be publishable. I was tested every few years in public school because of learning disabilities, and my verbal scores were always much better than the non-verbal ones.

    Yet, in other areas of my life, I feel like a bit of a dodo. My social skills aren’t great (I don’t interpret some body language well), and if it weren’t for my husband, I don’t know how well I’d manage on my own. In other words – I’m always very good at being an adult, lol, and I’ll be 42 in October! I think a lot of is because my parents were overprotective because of my disability. I think they absolutely meant well, and they did have access to good resources and a good school system, so I don’t begrudge them too much.

    I just get frustrated sometimes knowing that I have the brains; yet, I come off like a dummy in day-to-day life, even with things people my age do without a second thought, like shopping or even putting a nice outfit together for an event. I know I’m not supposed to mention work in this thread, but it particularly affected me in that realm. A big part of my problem is sensory processing, thus I get overwhelmed very easily. So maybe some of it is just self-confidence.

    When I really feel most alive is school and when reading grant proposals. Both will be starting up again in the next month….I can’t wait!

    1. Today's anon

      The good thing is that those are not things that people are born knowing, they learn them. Most people learn these skills as young children so it doesn’t look like they’re learning them but you can learn them as an adult. I grew up in a very dysfunctional household and really had a lack of social and life skills but with work and therapy I am so much better. It takes more conscious work than it would as a child unfortunately. The other thing I wanted to say is that you don’t know what kinds of difficulties other people have; it is unlikely that I would share how scary and overwhelming I find some things with anyone except someone very close to me.

    2. GOG11

      I was very, very good at school/being a student, but I am less good at being an adult. I tend to be very organized, diligent and on top of things at work, but I struggle a lot more in my personal life. It does often feel like everyone else has their stuff together, but as today’s anon said, we often don’t see the ways in which other people struggle. What you may view as a perfect outfit somebody just threw together may have been outfit number 7 that they still don’t feel awesome about. Or maybe they subscribe to one of those clothing services. Or maybe they’re fantastic at picking out clothing, but terrible at doing laundry without shrinking things or remembering to pick up 2 of the 5 ingredients they needed in order to make dinner tonight. We only see what others project out into the world and the people who seem put together may feel a lot more like you than you’d think. And then, those people who are struggling are usually focusing more on their own behavior than on yours.

      I’ve found the adulting blog to be very helpful for learning things that seem obvious to others. I’ve also recently discovered the Vivienne Files for putting together outfits. She focuses a lot on color (as opposed to proportions or cuts), but I’ve found it really helpful. Shout out to the AAM community for those, as both were mentioned/recommended to me on here.

      I guess, in short, it’s okay to not know how to do everything or be good at things that seem easy for everyone else, but if you do want to learn how to do those things, there are resources out there. Like today’s anon said, people aren’t born knowing these things.

      1. Mimmy

        Thank you both so much!! And it’s very true. My counselor has had similar advice. I don’t remember exactly, but I think she’s mentioned how some people who’ve always lived in the city, then move to the suburbs, so certain things are new to them.

        I’ve seen people here mentioning adulting blogs – I’ll check them out!

      2. katamia

        This this this. I’m fantastic in crisis-type situations (even really minor ones) and have gotten a lot of compliments on how calm and quick-thinking I am when something goes wrong, but put me in a situation where absolutely nothing is going wrong and I struggle a lot–I get antsy and frustrated and constantly distracted. But the people who have complimented me on my crisis skills (including my own mother, who really should notice this) never seem to notice that part, lol.

        As far as the clothing goes, I’ve gotten complimented on my clothes exactly once in my adult life. Someone told me on a trip I “always looked so put together,” which was, on the one hand, nice to hear because I’d agonized so hard about what to pack, but on the other hand, this person was so effortlessly stylish to me that I had no idea why she would think my crappy wardrobe was even deserving of a compliment to begin with. But even though I haven’t seen her in awhile, if she remembers who I am (we just met on that one trip), I’m sure she would associate me with good dress sense, which is mind boggling now that I think about it.

    3. Student

      You learn social skills by practicing them. If your social skills bother you, you’ll have to jump out of your comfort zone, go interact with people, and try to learn from how others who are successful at social interactions in order to improve.

    4. Dan

      I didn’t wise up to a lot of the social que/norm thing until I was in my 30’s. It is a learned skill, and I think complicated by academic intelligence a bit. Even now, one of my biggest challenges is how people usually use a softer choice of wordsb than what they truly mean. Reference the number of posts on this forum about how strongly to deliver criticism at work, for example.

      An issue for me is that I tend to communicate straight forward. The problem is they people take that to be a stronger message than I intend. If I soften it up, I’m left wondering if my full message was truly received.

      I’m getting better at it over time, but to your original question, yes, one can feel book smart yet still completely lost.

    5. AnotherFed

      You’re not alone! It’s just likely that many people have their weak points that aren’t obvious. I’ve lived on my own/as a grown up for a decade, but I still can’t cook more than a handful of things and grocery shopping is not my strong suit. It’s not uncommon for me to be eating microwaved hot dogs and crackers at 11PM because I have no food but am not willing to make the 30 minute drive into town for something better. I’m giving the Blue Apron grocery delivery service a go for a while just to see if I can be a reasonable grown up if someone else plans the menu and does the grocery shopping!

      One of my favorites quotes about being an adult goes something like “We’ve just spent the last few hours running around collecting imaginary crumpets and killing imaginary bad guys because it’s fun. I’m pretty sure there’s no such thing as adulthood.”

    6. Elizabeth West

      Yep. I’m “book smart,” and my Farm Boy ex was very practical. I would be struggling to do something and he would say, “Why don’t you do it like this?” and instantly it would work. And I would look at him in astonishment like, “I never thought of that.”

    7. Not So NewReader

      For one thing ease up on yourself. Let’s say you are trying to train someone to do something- how many times can you refer to what they are doing as being “like a dummy” before they take issue with you? Be gentle with you. Watch out for the subtle put downs about your own self.

      I came from a family where “you do it right or you don’t do it at all”. I was in my late 30s or so when I decided to count how many times a day I said things to myself like “damn, screwed up AGAIN.” Once I started counting all these little negative things I saw my problem. Watch your self-talk. If you forget, and say a negative thing, instantly correct yourself with a positive statement of some sort. Now reality check- I probably remembered to correct myself maybe 25% of the time. But it did make me think about how I treated me and my expectations for me.

      Which leads me to the concept expectations of one’s self. And interesting topic. If you read biographies or even advice columns you can get a feel for what other people expect of themselves. You’ll catch yourself saying, “oh this poor person, their expectations are so high it’s not realistic, no human being can do that.” And this can help your frame work for your own self expectations.

      Read up on the areas you feel that you are weak in. I swear the internet is my second mother. I have looked up so much stuff and learned so much. I have no idea how I would have learned it any other way.

      Not sure what your specific concerns are about shopping or putting an outfit together. My parents ran a tight budget. After I moved out I had NO money. Clothes were a worry for me for the better part of my life,because of money and because of lack of experience selecting something that I felt good about. Now, I mostly shop at consignment stores and don’t worry about it as much. If I goof, hey, I did not spend that much anyway, I give it away and get something else. Very liberating.

      As others have said, I think there are many, many people out there having feelings similar to what you talk about here. I hope this makes you smile: I think that being able to clearly define the problem means that 50% of the problem is already SOLVED. It’s when we don’t know what the problem is that things get bad.

      1. TootsNYC

        Which leads me to the concept expectations of one’s self. And interesting topic. If you read biographies or even advice columns you can get a feel for what other people expect of themselves. You’ll catch yourself saying, “oh this poor person, their expectations are so high it’s not realistic, no human being can do that.” And this can help your frame work for your own self expectations.

        John Quincy Adams, maybe?

        You know what? We’re ALL faking it! At least in some area.

        You’re ahead of the game–you know where you’re genuinely good,a nd you kknow where you’re not.
        So just put the emphasis on your strengths, and pick just a very few high-impact areas to improve, and then just automate the rest.

        Clothes? Just pick a “uniform” and always wear it. Guess what? The Fashion Director of Glamour magazine almost always wears the same outfit: a blue button-down shirt and some sort of skirt. And gold jewelry.
        There’s no sense in winning a merit badge for Fashion Innovation; just wear clothes that you feel comfortable in and fit the formality level. (You won’t ever have to think about getting dressed or shopping; your black pants are getting a little worn? Go order another pair from Lands End–in fact, if you pick a stable fashion source like that, you’ll find life ever MORE simplerer.)

        Food? Most people only cook about 8 things. Find a sensible person in your life who knows how to cook ordinary food (not a foodie!), and get them to teach you 5 things. Bingo–you’re set.

    8. NicoleK

      In this day and age, you can find anything on the internet. Google whatever it is you want to learn. If you’re a visual learner, do a search on Youtube. Also don’t forget libraries too. There’s alot of resources out there.

    9. Mimmy

      You guys are all awesome! ((hugs))

      GOG11 – I went to the open thread that you posted….annnnnd discovered I commented there too. How quickly I forget?! *facepalm*.

      My counselor has been trying to help me with the self-talk. One of these days, it’ll all sink in! :P

      1. Not So NewReader

        Self-talk. My aunt routinely referred to herself as “dummy me”. I told her that she was hurting herself doing that. I am not sure she understood. But she did stop saying it around me. I finally came to grips with the idea that was the best that is going to happen for her. Of course, I have no way of knowing how it impacted her thinking over the years. It’s a tough habit to break. I still wrestle with it, especially when a number of things go wrong in a short time- the feelings of being overwhelmed come flooding to the foreground and then the stinkin’ thinkin’ starts.

      2. TootsNYC

        Maybe you should have a short period of deliberate self-talk in the morning, in your showers. Tell yourself how good-hearted you are, remind yourself that people love you and like you, tell yourself something you did the day before that made you feel clever/caring/tenacious/organized/accomplished. Even if it’s little.

        And say out loud: “I promise to speak to myself with all the care and consideration that I would use for a stranger. I promise.”

        Something like that. Then you’ve got a basework, and you’ve put yourself in the mood.

      3. GOG11

        This is super late… but some of that stuff isn’t exactly thrilling or super memorable. It takes time and practice to get it down.

    10. Revanche

      I’m the reverse: generally mediocre at the book stuff and much better at practical life stuff. The latter just sinks into my brain more organically? I’ve mostly accepted that not all people are good at all things and that’s ok, we just have to choose to learn the things that don’t come naturally. But the nice thing about choosing to learn new things or new skills? Even if you feel like a novice for a while, it’s good for your brain and exercising your dendrites is good for developing more!

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      Worst: still no flat (see below), haven’t done much packing, I don’t like saying goodbye to my friends.

      Best: My “dry” spell of a year is over (yey!). I made some great cake. I had good fun with my friends.

    2. Amber Rose

      Best: Awesome party was awesome. And geeky as hell. I love having friends that think my wall of video games and my closet of board games are a good thing.

      Worst: Said goodbye to a friend, possibly forever.

    3. Aurora Leigh

      Best: Kitty is so much healthier and still seems to like me even though I give her medicine.

      Worst: Still haven’t heard back from jobs. Might end up moving out of state with my parents. My mother told me that since my career isn’t working out I should find someone to marry.

    4. Raia

      Best: My friend just delivered her baby two days ago, and he is completely adorable!!!
      Worst: Had another work meeting where I sat completely silent because I didn’t know what to do.

    5. Elkay

      Best: Got a restaurant reservation for our holiday which was a case of right place right time because I’m fairly sure it will book up
      Worst: Ongoing saga of holiday compensation is still ongoing. General sadness over lack of friends.

      1. Artemesia

        I am not that social a person — has lots of work friends but not real friends during my entire career. Retired and moved to a city where I knew almost no one and decided to have a social life. Two years later I have two close girlfriends that I do things with several times a month and we have 2 close couples and half a dozen other couples that we get together with for dinner parties, theater etc. I did this by creating a strategy for meeting people and then when I would have a likely prospect at a book store book club, or a meetup walking tour or group etc, I would get their contact information and follow up for a get together. Some of the couples we met this way were boring and we didn’t follow up more than a couple of times, one or two thought we were boring and didn’t respond more than a couple of times. But several worked out great. And we have sort of stopped doing it because our social card is full.

        It is harder to do stuff like this when you work and have less time, but if you don’t have friends and want some I would really recommend getting involved in a meet up group or two on weekends and then systematically identifying and following up with people you meet who seem likely. People who join these groups are usually looking to make friends and are open to it. I was surprised at how easy it was after a lifetime of not actually being a social butterfly.

        1. Artemesia

          PS The key is the follow up. Most people don’t seem to do this. They are going to events to meet people but don’t close the deal. My best friend here is someone I met at a book store book club, we walked out together and it turned out we had a lot in common including both have husband who participate in singing groups and so I asked for her phone and punched it into my phone right there and then called a day later and we had lunch. Without that getting contact information these moments of opportunity pass. Our husbands get along and he joined the singing group my husband participates in.

          1. Lemon

            Nice! It’s really helpful to hear how you approached this, and really encouraging that you were successful. Thanks for sharing!

          2. TootsNYC

            PS The key is the follow up.

            Yep! I’m int he process of trying to make some new friends; in my mid-50s, it isn’t easy! My life is pretty circumscribed. And I’m pickier. A friend who isn’t that fulfilling isn’t all that, well, fulfilling. It’s worse than not having any friends.

            I realized I *had* to reach out, to “woo” friends. Fortunately I ran into two people who really appealed to me, and who naturally hold their own in a conversation. And I called and said, “let’s go to lunch.”

    6. Mimmy

      Best: My monthly state council meeting was Thursday, and it actually went smoothly for a change, even ending early! Plus, I actually have gotten the courage lately to step up and volunteer to help with some long-overdue projects (overdue in the sense that no one has had the time or inclination to do it).

      Worst: Unfortunately, said council could be looking at a real uphill battle with a few things, which I can’t get into here. Let’s just say that I hope it doesn’t kill the momentum that I’ve been enjoying the past few weeks.

    7. anonanonanon

      Best: My brothers volunteered to help me move into my new apartment so I don’t have to pay $2,000+ for a moving company.

      Worst: The realty company showing my current apartment stopped by unannounced with prospective tenants while I was in the shower. It was a shock to come out of the shower to find a couple of strangers in my apartment.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        Eeek, I feel your pain on your worst. I thought (& maybe they didn’t put it down) I’d told my estate agents that I wanted to be informed of any viewing so I could not be there, only for a student aged son and his parents arriving at my door when I’d just discovered the cat had left me a present of a dead mouse on my doormat.

        1. anonanonanon

          Technically they’re supposed to give me 24 hours notice and I asked multiple times for them to give me notice, but the most notice I’ve gotten is about 30 minutes. It’s really frustrating because it’s still my apartment until the end of the month, so they have no right to barge in unannounced. Also, like you, I’d prefer not to be there when they show it. I find it really awkward to hang about while people are going through my apartment and looking at my things.

          1. Mimmy

            That’s just wrong, especially given your repeated reminders that you want 24 hours’ notice. I’d say complain to a manager, but that may not help. Ugh!

          2. Dan

            If you can find a way to make the place look like a pig sty but easily cleaned with appropriate notice, you might actually get your point across.

          3. Jean

            > It was a shock to come out of the shower to find a couple of strangers in my apartment.

            Tactless, insensitive realty company! On the up side, at least you don’t have to worry about strangers messing up or walking away with your things while you’re not home. And by now you’ve only got three more weeks of this rudeness. (Maybe less, if it’s possible to move into your new place sooner?)

            My only other idea is that you get hang one of those hotel-room doorknob alarms on the inside of your front door (or whichever door[s] through which the realty co. representative barges with prospective tenants). The resulting unstoppable blast of noise would both give you a minute’s warning and remind the barger-inner that he/she should have called ahead yesterday.

            Sigh. It’s probably too much trouble and/or against your lease to install a chain lock or other device that prevents the door from being opened from the outside.

            1. TootsNYC

              They were already IN the apartment? Not just at the front door? That would have me blowing me top. It would be bad enough to have them knocking when you were in the middle of the morning routine, but to just come out and find them already in the place is really wrong.

          4. katamia

            Ouch! I had something similar happen to me a few years ago, although I was sleeping instead of in the shower in an apartment I’d just moved into. The company actually did give us 24 hours’ notice, but they did so by telling my roommate (who wasn’t there), who then texted me (we’d met once a couple months before I moved in, but not since), not realizing I didn’t have texting enabled on my phone. Oops.

            I’m a little paranoid about people trying to steal my stuff (not like my stuff is all that great and no one’s ever tried to steal anything from me, but the paranoia remains), though, so I DEFINITELY like to be there when they show my apartment, though.

          5. FD

            In many states, this is not legal. You could send them a notice to that effect if that’s the case in your state–but that might also be more antagonistic than you want.

          6. Mallory Janis Ian

            I’d be tempted to stand there naked and dripping and say, “How many times do I have to reiterate that I need 24 hours’ notice for showings!?”

            1. Anna the Accounting Student

              Totally.

              Makes me wonder if this anon could threaten to back out of working with that agent if it happens again. Though it would help if the 24-hours’ notice promise is in writing.

          7. Artemesia

            Do you not have a deadbolt or chain so they can’t just barge in while you are naked. That is just unreasonable in the extreme.

      2. A.D. Kay

        I bet the prospective tenants were pretty embarrassed too! If it were me, I’d wonder if the realtor would do similar stunts with me when my lease ended. It might make me think twice about renting there.

    8. AvonLady Barksdale

      Best: We had a lovely vacation! Saw the Bay of Fundy tides, drank some interesting wines, don’t want to kill each other after 6 days of togetherness!

      Worst: We’re at our layover on the way home. Vacation’s over. Boo.

    9. Trixie

      Best: Schedule returning to normal next week, not as many classes to sub. Plus some training on Fri/Sat to complete and knock off my to-do list.

      Worst: Productive year but feeling like I can do MORE.

    10. Shell

      Best: my writing is coming along pretty well this week, and the bug infestation seems to be under control (I had one live bug in my room ewwwwwwwww, but I think he was a stray hitchhiker; I have no food sources in my room).

      Worst: dealing with the bugs, my responsibilities of which will end by Monday. Yay!

    11. Stephanie

      Best: I’m noticing my pants are fitting looser. Progress!

      Worst: I think my car is mutinying from all this commuting (or I like to think that at least). So far this week: blown speaker (which is bad as I can actually hear myself singing now), something weird with the sun roof controls (thanks freak thunderstorm for making it cool enough to drive without AC), flat tire (and Discount Tire unnecessarily trying to sell me a new tire when this one was repairable).

    12. Cruciatus

      Best: I quit my job yesterday (with something lined up)! Found out how liked I was by coworkers and hope that my next job will offer even a fraction of that…

      Worst: Oh my God, I just quit my job… Oh my God, oh my God… (it was my first time I’ve had to quit somewhere and the emotions have been up and down).

      Non-work best: Did the Color Run today with my sister and her boyfriend. I know some people don’t get having color thrown at you but it’s just a fun experience. Weather was perfect.

      Worst: I think my sister’s boyfriend is really annoying. She wants me to like him but he’s just too flighty and thoughtless for me–never prepares for outings/stuff (one example: like not bringing water even though we all are and so needs to use other peoples’ later) and he always takes things and uses them and then is like “can I borrow this?” Well, you’re already using it so I guess so. And he’s dismissive of things I say. “No, no, you don’t really think that.” Um, I do. And he never buckles his seat belt even though my sister and I will not move the car until he’s buckled in. Every. time. we get in the car. Then he realizes and is like “OK, OK….” Literally every! time! How has he not caught on by now? You are a 40-something-year-old man. Buckle your God damn seat belt. As I said… Annoying! (sorry for the mini-rant! I wasn’t expecting to go off like that.)

    13. katamia

      Best: discovered Starbucks orange honeycomb crunch frappuccinos (I just moved, and they didn’t have them where I was before)

      Worst: 14ish-hour plane ride. I’m not sure how I didn’t kill someone or run down the aisle screaming “Lemme off! Lemme off!” Marge Simpson-style. I couldn’t read because it gives me headaches to read in moving vehicles, and I’m still terrible at sitting still. I thought the 5ish hours between LA and BWI were bad, but this was…unreal.

    14. Windchime

      Worst: The Achilles Tendon of doom has flared back up again. There is a slight chance that I may have to have another surgery on it, and the thought of being non-weight-bearing for 6 weeks again makes me want to cry. Seriously.

      Best: I’ve been doing a task that is Sisyphian in nature for about a year (at work). It looks like I might get a chance to hand it off and start on some new and exciting projects, so I’m really happy about that! Also, I’m on steroids for the above-mentioned foot issue, and it fueled a 2-hour cleaning spree earlier today. So at least there’s that!

      1. Emily

        I’m sorry about your tendon and hope that you don’t need another surgery! That sounds rough.

    15. Jen RO

      Best: I just came back from a night out with a former coworker who moved to a different country and is visiting for a few days.

      Worst: One of my sort-of reports is being unprofessional (detailed in Friday’s thread if you’re curious).

    16. Elizabeth West

      Best: I drove to the town where I went to music school and met up with my BFFs from back then. We have literally not seen each other in person in 32 years. 0_0 It was as if no time had passed. We had lunch at the place we used to hang out in (it’s still there). Food tasted exactly the same, but the place looks different–it’s bigger and the lines were out the door. A couple of other people were supposed to come, but one couldn’t make it and the other didn’t show at all. :P One friend had to get back and pick up her dad from hospital, and me and the other friend and her fiance, her daughter, and her granddaughter all went shopping. The tiny mall looks a bit different, but the cinema is still in it (minus the front wall) and it looked the same. The arcade at the end is still there–different games and fewer of them (boo!). But I suspect that is the same carpet from 1986, judging by the state of it!

      The whole downtown looks different. I went to campus and it looked WAY different, but the music building looks exactly the same on the inside. Same floor, same stairs, same cracks in the floor. Smells the same. I couldn’t go into the recital hall because it was locked and no one was around, but I took pics of the lobby (same paintings on the walls!) and went up to the practice rooms. Somebody squeezed a baby grand into one of them. My favorite end one was full of drums so I didn’t go in it. It was still hot up there, just like it used to be. :)

      Worst: Nothing else has changed. :\ Plus I seem to be on a writing hiatus–my brain isn’t cooperating right now. It just doesn’t want to think about anything at all. So I started reading Harry Potter again.

      1. danr

        Harry is one of my go to series. But I still have to re-read the end of Goblet of Fire and Deathly Hallows two or three times.

      2. ActCasual

        Apologies if you’ve posted about this and I’ve missed it – are you a musician? What instrument do you play? And on another topic, what is your book about? (More apologies if I’m being intrusive or nosy – just tell me and I’ll back off :o)

        1. Elizabeth West

          I studied voice, but I don’t sing much anymore. Just in the car, LOL. So if you ride somewhere with me, I’m either belting out Sweeney Todd or cursing at other drivers!

          All I can say is it’s about a relationship. I don’t want to say too much right now because I haven’t finished the first draft yet. But the other two are:

          Rose’s Hostage, the one Brian Keene has been critiquing: a crime novel about a bank robber who takes a hostage and keeps her, and the detective and the serial killer (!) who pursue him.

          Tunerville, the one I’m presently querying: a paranormal novel about a guy who invents a remote control that will tune up ghosts. :D

    17. danr

      Best: the landscape crew came by to weed the flower beds and do the dirt and crushed stone pad for the shed that’s coming. When the shed arrives we’ll be able to put the mowers, chipper and snowblower in the shed , clean out the garage bay and actually put both cars in the garage.
      Worst: coming up… cleaning out the garage bay.

      1. Trixie

        Cleanign out the garage bay is going to fell awesome! You’ll have so much more space to work with once you move things into the shed. Pull everything out left, and decide if its keep, store elsewhere, donate, or toss. Keep the tunes playing, and cold beverages on hand. And before/after pics to share!

        1. ActCasual

          Yes! My mom has been contemplating getting a shed. She doesn’t have a garage, and the old structure that’s being used as a shed is falling down. I think she’s hesitant to take the final leap because she’s not sure if she needs some sort of foundation poured first. How does the crushed stone pad work?

    18. Emily

      Worst: I hurt my knee in an ultimate frisbee match on Tuesday. I landed on it funny (it was fully straightened out) and had to sit out the rest of the game. I was bummed at first to have to stop playing, but now I’m more concerned about longer-term healing – I really, really hope that it’s a mild injury and not something that will require tons of rehab. :/

      Best: My mom is visiting me this weekend! We’ve explored my city a little bit and gone to a couple of museums. Tomorrow, we’re going to visit the local brewery.

      1. Milton

        I hyperextended my knee playing Ultimate Frisbee like 7 years ago! Sooooo embarrassing. Recovery was a few weeks.

        I have never touched a frisbee again.

    19. Ruffingit

      BEST: Husband’s birthday weekend! We had so much fun.

      WORST: Fighting the battle of the bulge. It’s really, really hard.

    20. Best/Worst

      Actual Worst: Was feeling really down all week about the job search. It wasn’t pretty.

      Best: Trying those fancy as seen on tv rollerskates. I thought I lost the ability to skate because I suck on rollerblades. It was really nice to find out that is not the case. …Probably going to ask Santa for quads- though I should probably try those again just to be sure. Fancy skates were fun, but are wayyyy too expensive for a sometimes toy.

      Not a Worst, just a concern: The only bad thing was I get sweaty, heart-racing, and out of breath super-fast after 5-10 minutes. Like, I really suck at cardio. To the point where I wonder if it’s normal. Only slighty overweight, so that’s not it. Girlfriend thinks it’s because I don’t cardio much. But I don’t cardio much bc that’s what happens. I guess it’s something I can ask a doc about, but I’m still very happy the skill is not lost.

      1. Tennessee

        I get the out of breath thing too and finally had it diagnosed as exercise induced asthma. Didn’t know that was a real thing, but apparently it is. Had an inhaler, but the side effects were worse than the problem. I’ve found that ramping up my activity slower and exercising lighter but more often seems to help. But high-pollen or cold air can do me in! Not sure that’s what’s happening to you, but next time you’re at the doctor you could discuss it.

        1. Best/Worst

          Thanks a bunch! I’d like to know either way & will mention it next time I’m there. But, in the meantime, I like your approach!

      2. Today's anon

        When I started exercising this happened to me too, I was just going too fast for the kind of shape I was in; at the same time, it was like I could not go any slower. So I’d run, be totally out of breath after 5 min, walk, do it again, etc. It took me a while to figure out how to be at a pace that I could sustain.

        1. Best/Worst

          Yes, I think at least with the skating, there was probably some of that going on, too. The last time I skated regularly, I was in college… which was *cough* a while ago;) But as a child/teen, I speed-skated, and could do tricks and everything. So, yeah… Definitely a little bit of “Oh, hey, I can do this! Zooooommmmm…. wait… what?” I really hope you’re right, and maybe I’m just pushing a little too hard. It’s frustrating because I can’t match anyone’s pace in my circle of friends… when walking. I can’t run at all without feeling like I’m going to collapse, so I just don’t. It’s really nice to know I’m not the only one who feels this way. Thanks!

    21. Liane

      WORST: New job is not very good, low pay, work waaaayyy out of my field, & (tl;dr) goes downhill from there – but it was to the point where I had to take *anything* as emergency fund had run out.
      Husband also had gotten a position there but couldn’t continue work because of health problems – he was in the hospital overnight after his second or third night.

      BEST: Amazing Friend sent us out a package of gifts & chocolate for the 4 of us, because he knows we’ve had a rough few months – and that’s the kind of person he is. He got me a couple of newly-released items from the Star Wars roleplay game line that he knew I wanted but wouldn’t be picking up for a while due to budget; said they were early Christmas presents. :) And he’s the one with the birthday this week! We’re doing a bunch of baking for him.

    22. Jazzy Red

      Best – our pastor is resigning, so we will be able to work at getting our church back on track. I really love this church and didn’t want to move on, but I couldn’t stay as long as he in charge. (I posted about this last week.)

      Worst – best friend’s cat died this week. She adopted 2 newborns from the shelter more than 13 years ago, and they’re practically the only family she had. Friend is really torn up about it, and the other cat is confused and looking for her sister all the time. I know that time will help take the edge off their pain.

      1. ActCasual

        I think it was harder for me to lose my cat than anything I’ve ever been through. I don’t know her but sending hugs to your friend. I’d venture a guess those kitties are and were lucky to have her, and vice versa.

    23. Nashira

      Best: A truly entry level info sec job opened up with a great employer, and I feel like I have a good chance of an interview! This is best because it means my psych meds are working, and I might escape the PTSD triggering job of doom *and* move into my desired field. :D

      Worst: Had a couple bad flashbacks so now I’m brain-fried but still need to write cover letters. Not a bad worst though.

    24. Lady Bug

      Best: Had some friends down for the weekend, did a winery and vodka tour and hit the beach.

      Worst: fall is creeping up and I’m not ready to surrender summer.

  7. Carrie in Scotland

    Flat hunting in my city to be is not going well. Who knew that getting a job would be so easy in comparison? (yeah, ok I have requirements that don’t make it easy – I want to take my cat and my furniture, but still).

    I’ve seen 10 flats and been rejected for the 2 I put in for, only for 1 of them to offer me the flat but for a 12 month lease not 6 and rolling (as I will buy down there, eventually).

    Among the disasters we have:

    – the flat that had already been held by the 1st person that viewed it
    – the flat where the agent didn’t have the right keys as he was running behind that day due to an medical appointment in the morning.
    – the flat which was marketed as a 1 bed but was actually a studio with a partition wall and a door (it was a single bed-width)
    – another flat where I only saw the door due to the workmen double locking it and the agent only having 1 set of keys (unlike the other one above, she was properly apologetic and mortified and I’m going back to actually view it on Monday)

    I start my new job a week on Monday and have nowhere to live (yet!), consequently, I’m finding it difficult to pack when I don’t know where I’m going to be from Thurs/Friday (hostel/flat/sparkly cardboard box…)

    1. anonanonanon

      I was looking for new apartment this year in a market where you have to put in an application as soon as you see it because most apartments go off the market within a day. I called about one listing that had been up for only three hours and it was already rented!

      But I had the same experience of seeing listings that were for one bedrooms when in reality they were actually studios. Also with viewing apartments that already had other applications pending, which is frustrating when you fall in love with a place only to learn someone else is probably going to get it.

      I hope you find something soon! Can you put your furniture in temporary storage until you find a place?

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I could put it in storage or keep it at my flat til it’s sold. I’ve been putting it off, tbh because I don’t want to pay for storage if I find somewhere to live without furniture and I’m finding it hard to commit to one plan (e.g put stuff in storage) because of the uncertainty of everything.

    2. Kat A.

      Is there an extended stay hotel you could stay at? I lived in one for a month while looking for a place, and I rented a post office box for mail.

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        No, I’ve had a few viewings though! I guess my furniture can stay here a little longer, til it’s sold anyway if needed.

    3. Short and Stout

      I lived in a youth hostel for three weeks when I moved to start my new job earlier this year. I feel your pain. There were a surprising number of folk doing a similar thing staying in the hostel too.

      Would empty uni halls be a short term option?

      1. Carrie in Scotland

        I’ve asked my new workplace (it’s a uni) and they didn’t offer halls as an option so…*shrug* the HR woman was very nice and apologetic but she hadn’t had this situation come up before. Maybe they all hire within the city!?

  8. Amber Rose

    The saga of my ankle ends! I have a 1cm cyst and they’re gonna take it out. Also I have arthritis. Which sucks. But does explain some stuff.

    Wednesday was the last day I got to see a friend as he’s now overseas for school (med school, because I keep befriending people much smarter than me). I didn’t know him long but it’s still really hard to say goodbye. I successfully hosted his farewell party though. We played the most ridiculous game of Munchkin ever and shared weird youtube videos and I laughed until I cried.

    I just wish I could develop a social life with people who don’t immediately leave forever. I never figured out how to do that as an adult.

  9. Sparkly Librarian

    The battle against the ants continues! Their incoming forces have decreased substantially in the face of our mighty defense (vinegar, clove, eucalyptus, tea tree, cinnamon), but they’re sneaky and persistent. Many have been crushed by hand (or by cotton ball daubed with Tiger Balm). The second arm of our pincer attack is powdered sugar mixed with baking soda. Mwahahahahaha!

    1. Raia

      Have you tried diatomaceous earth? That was what finally killed mine off, after I tried Terro.

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        Yes! Outside, and in the bottoms of our indoor kitchen garbage and recycling cans. Powdered death!

    2. Stephanie

      I’ll come fight your ants and you can come fight my spiders. There are black widows in the garage. :(

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        Nope Nope Nope.

        I have been reminding myself, when dealing with them, that — as many as there are — they’re JUST ants. Not any of the many many worse things.

        And then I have to sing “Just ANTS!” and do a little Lady Gaga bop.

        1. Artemesia

          When I took a job in the south 40+ years ago I went in on weekends to work and one Sat morning with the building empty, I walked in and noticed a sort of shimmering ribbon on the floor. It was a column of ants about an inch wide and some were streaming into the building and others streaming out. Millions of ants. They snaked up the stairs in this ribbon and right up into a vending machine where they were systematically dismantling the sweet rolls in the machine and carrying the crumbs off to their lair. Mesmerizing sight.

      2. blackcat

        Once, when I was in middle school, my parents developed a significant black widow problem in the garage. Being an industrious kid, I caught something like 20 small lizards and baby garden snakes over a few week, releasing them in the garage. It worked! My parents were both weirded out and impressed. I also caught a tarantula and offered that as an option, but my parents declined.

        I am generally unbothered by spiders because they do keep other insects away. If they get too big, my cat likes to eat them.

        1. Stephanie

          Lizards. Hmm. We have a lot of those. Tempted.

          Yeah, I’m sort of with you on spiders. Only fear with the black widows is that they’re in the cluttered garage and they would sting me in defense.

    3. Meadowsweet

      woot!

      If you haven’t tried it (I didn’t see your earlier post): Borax & honey! very best is if you have the patience to stand around & dab it on them as they go by, but even putting it on their trails does much
      Borax & dry powdered sugar if you want to be able to remove it from where you put it
      even Borax by itself they will sometimes take
      you probably want to keep pets from spending too much time with it though (walking through drifts, rolling & washing, etc)

      diatomaceous earth is very good stuff too, and I’m going to try that mix you mention!

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        The baking soda is meant to have the same result as the borax, which I’m avoiding because of my furry home critters. We mixed a paste with a little bit of water in a saucer, to keep it from getting blown around the kitchen after the deep clean. It has been swarmed! Probably another 24 hours before massive die-off begins at the nest.

        1. Meadowsweet

          oh awesome, I did not know that! thank-you! adding that to the arsenal!! (ant-control methods deserve multiple exclamation marks :) )

        2. Jazzy Red

          I had ants in my pantry last year, and I still look for them every time I open the door. Fortunately, it wasn’t a horribly bad infestation, and washing down the pantry shelves with vinegar, water, & Dawn worked pretty well. Moving the honey out of the pantry helped, too (duh, jazzy!)

        1. Artemesia

          Always worked for us too. And the stuff comes in little containers now that are easy to use rather than dabbing it on bits of cardboard. Our cat was never interested in it, but the containers help keep it less available to curious pets. We used to put ours on the kitchen counter or in the garden window where they would sneak in. Two days and they would be gone for a few weeks and then we would start over.

    4. FD

      We had some excellent success by putting out cotton balls soaked in sugar and Borax. The sugar gets them to come and take it back to their colony, and the Borax kills them.

      However, this results in a truly alarming number of ants coming in before they go away.

    5. Not So NewReader

      You have probably already checked this but just in case: I had problems with ants all over my counter. Drove me nuts. One day I happened to be outside and the peony bush was in bloom. The flowers were COVERED in ants. Apparently they help cross pollinate? Anyway, I tore the peonies out from under my kitchen window and then I started to gain ground with the ant problem. Once cleaned up, they never came back. Peonies, never even thought of it. I am sure there are other plants that draw the ants like that.

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        At our house it’s the zinnias. They ERUPT out of the blossoms if you nudge the plant. Diatomaceous earth!

  10. A

    I think we will be putting our dog down in the next week or so. Any suggestions for how to break it to our 3-year old. She loves him so much!

    1. nep

      Wow. I’ve never had to do such a thing — no concrete suggestions. Perhaps somehow conveying to the child that doing this will stop the dog suffering…Even if it will still be extremely tough, I can imagine that a child’s grief might be eased a bit knowing that what’s being done will prevent suffering for the beloved animal.
      Wishing you all the best.

    2. Elkay

      Are you going to tell her beforehand? I was probably about 7 when our first cat died but it was unexpected, he had a heart attack while sitting on the sofa with my parents after I’d gone to bed. When I got up they told us that there was nothing the vet could do, I think I was too young to really understand (plus the cat wasn’t really *my* cat).

      I’d just make sure that she gets to make a big fuss of saying goodbye to him on the day (not necessarily telling her he won’t come back, just that he has to go to the vet) then maybe say there was nothing the vet could do, he was old and in pain. I don’t have kids so my advice is worth what you paid for it.

      I’m sorry for your loss though, losing a pet isn’t easy at any age.

      1. A

        Yes, we have started trying to explain to her that he is old and sick. She is convinced the doctor will make him better. :(

        So now we are trying to explain that every living thing dies without scaring her. It is very tricky trying not to compare it to falling asleep and never waking up.

        We are not religious so we will not be talking about Heaven, etc.

        1. Elkay

          I’ve just realised that my grandmother died before the cat did so I’d already experienced death in the family (plus two of my grandparents died before I was born so I knew what death was).

        2. Jean

          You can take pictures to help your daughter remember the dog. If you wish, you can also donate money or goods to an animal-related charity in the dog’s memory.
          I totally agree that you can’t talk about Heaven, etc. if you don’t believe in it!

          When our child was old enough to ask about DH’s parents (both deceased years before our child’s birth) I said that these grandparents live in our hearts. I wanted our child to grow up with the idea that family connections still exist even if some particular relatives are not alive. (Have I taken my own advice completely about charitable donations in grandparents’ memory? No… we could have done more to foster family ties but in the early years we were trying to reconcile family expectations and child’s sensory needs.) Anyway, end of self-indulgent rant. I’m sorry for your impending loss. Dogs are as much a part of the family as anybody else. I hope time will ease your grief.

        3. AnotherFed

          I’m not sure if this is a good idea or a terrible idea, but could you bring the toddler to the vet with you when it’s time? That way the dog gets the whole family there, and it’s pretty final for the toddler. The dog doesn’t suffer, but it’s clear what happened as the dog loses consciousness, stops breathing, and then all the muscles relax – that’s just unmistakably different from sleeping.

          Alternatively, you could go with the old standby of had to go away and live on a farm.

          1. Windchime

            I wouldn’t recommend this, actually. I thought I was ready to let my 19 year old cat go when the time came, but I bawled uncontrollably and I think that the death of a pet would be a pretty tough thing for a toddler to witness. Even if the toddler doesn’t understand what’s going on, witnessing the grief and upset of the parents would probably be too much.

            1. Sparky

              And future vaccinations would completely freak them out, I’d guess. Going to sleep isn’t a bad euphemism, but in 2nd grade I heard that and wondered when the dog would be woken up, so I’d try to be clear.

    3. Student

      I’m not 100% positive, but I’m not sure 3 years old is really old enough to understand death as a concept. I don’t think there is any “breaking it” to the three-year-old no matter what you say to her.

      You could certainly try to explain it to her, but if it were me I’d just tell her that the dog is going away and won’t come back. Give her a chance to say goodbye and give hugs and/or treats, but don’t draw it out and don’t expect it to hit her until the dog doesn’t come back. Be prepared to deal with her being upset and confused, or not understanding for several days or weeks that the dog isn’t coming back.

      1. Student

        It’s going to be harder on you and the rest of your family than the three-year-old, ultimately. In some ways, it’s a benefit to your daughter that she isn’t mentally developed enough to grasp the concept of death. She won’t experience the sadness and loss of losing a pet the same way you will.

        I looked up some medical info on kid development, and the guidelines were that kids don’t understand death very well until grade school. They maybe start grasping that it’s a Bad Thing in preschool, but toddlers just won’t be able to conceive of it at all. She will likely take her queues on behavior from you – if you’re upset, she’ll pick up and mirror it, but she won’t understand it.

      2. Sparky

        Three or four is the age that children first learn about death and become really interested in it for a while. Good luck with your child and dog. Can you have someone come to the house to put your dog down? This is the gentlest way I know of for the pet.

        I think it was a card to post secret from someone that worked at the vet asking people to chose the option to stay with their pets when they were put to sleep. They said that when their person leaves the room the pet keeps looking for them. If it comes to this, please stay with your pet.

        1. katamia

          Oh, I remember that one. :( It was heartbreaking for me because I couldn’t be there when we had to put my childhood dog down–I was in college and had left to go back that day. She got sick (she was 14, so it could have happened anytime) and would have needed surgery, but was old and unhealthy enough that she probably wouldn’t have survived the surgery, so my parents made the decision to have her put down. I’m glad I got to see her the day she died, though, at least (it was Thanksgiving break, so it really was lucky). My parents were with her, though, and I guess having 2/3 of your people there with you is pretty good.

          Although I suspect staying with the dog would be too much for a three-year-old. Hugs, A!

          1. Sparky

            Oh I didn’t mean the 3 year old should be present! Just at least one of the people.

            And condolences, A, losing a pet is so hard.

    4. fposte

      You might find a book a useful intermediary–there are some nice books on this. There’s a Mr. Rogers “When a Pet Dies,” and Judith Viorst’s “Tenth Good Thing about Barney” is a classic. There’s got to be something more recent as well but nothing’s coming to mind.

    5. BRR

      My sister-in-law used a book but I can’t remember the name. All I know his my four-year-old nephew knows of doggy heaven. I’m sorry for your loss.

    6. Emily

      I’m so sorry to hear about your dog.

      I don’t have any concrete suggestions, but my family’s first dog died when I was around that age and I don’t remember grieving the death very much.

    7. Ann Furthermore

      I’m so sorry. This is such a hard thing to do. We had to put our bulldog down a couple years ago when my daughter was 4. I Googled some things about how to tell a child about the loss of a pet, and found some pretty good advice. The one thing I really remember is that you shouldn’t tell her that the dog will be “put to sleep.” A kid that age might then start being afraid to go to sleep themselves. Also, try to avoid telling her the dog is going to go to the doctor, because then they might start being afraid of that too. Kids are so suggestible at that age, which I’m sure you know already.

      Our dog had been ill for awhile, and then went downhill very fast. One morning, he was not able to use his back legs to stand up, and we knew it was time. That night, I asked my daughter if she remembered how he was having trouble walking that morning, and she said yes. I told her that he’d had a very nice long life, with people who loved him and took care of him. But now, he couldn’t do the things he liked to do anymore, because he was sick. The kindest thing we could do for him was to help him end his life peacefully. Tomorrow, Daddy would take him to someone who would give him something to make all his owies stop hurting, make him think nice happy thoughts, and then he would close his eyes, and not wake up. She kind of gasped when I said that, and then asked me when he would come home, and I told her that he wouldn’t be coming home after tomorrow. She was sad, ad asked me if I was said, and I said I was, but that it’s OK to be sad. The next morning, we spent some time with him, said goodbye, and said thank you for being such a good dog. Then I took her to daycare. For some reason I really didn’t want her to see the dog leaving with my husband, knowing it would be for the last time.

      She seemed to handle it pretty well. She asked about him for awhile, and still does from time to time, and I always tell her that he’s in a much better place where he can play outside with lots of other dogs any time he wants to, the sun is always shining, and he gets as many treats as he wants.

      Good luck! And I’m sorry again….it’s so hard to say goodbye.

    8. my whole existence is flawed

      At 3 years old? I’d opt for “we found a farm where he could run free and play and help the farmer grow food.” YMMV, but unless you’re living in a war zone and people are constantly dropping out of contact, I don’t see the need to push death onto the child.

      1. academic librarian

        Okay. what Fposte said. A good books for 3 years old and up Good Bye Mousie by Robie Harris . For you http://www.eoneill.com/texts/blemie/contents.htm.
        Important points for conversation with your little one.
        Death is part of living, everything that lives, dies.Death is forever. (Do NOT use the “sleep” analogy)
        Share your own feelings of sadness/ loss/anger
        Give child space and time to talk about their own feelings.
        Provide time, materials and structure to create a memorial – a scrapbook, a memory page etc.

        1. Not So NewReader

          I remember when I was five, my father asked me if I wanted to go to Grandpa’s funeral. Okay, what’s a funeral?…. Okay, what is death? My father was very careful to explain that people look like they are asleep, but the life has gone out of them. It’s not sleep because they won’t wake up, ever. He said we were going to say good-bye one last time.

          What I liked about the explanation is that I understood what I would be seeing AND I had the additional information to realize why this was different from what I was used to seeing. I had seen people take naps. This was not a nap and I understood that part.

          It was my choice to go or not. I chose to go. Here I am, 50 years later, and I am glad I chose to go. He kept it simple and yet he tried to answer any question I had. I learned a lot from what my father had to say.
          I think his candor while under duress himself was an entire lesson on it’s own. See, you aren’t just teaching about death of your beloved pet, you are also teaching about stress and grief, too. You can role model how to handle stress, by being forthright yet gentle. Then you can talk about your sadness and how it is okay to be sad and this happens in life.

      2. A

        I gotta say– we are not pushing death on our kid. That’s a weird thing to say. Death happens and I would prefer her first experience with it to not be her grandparents dying or someone she is really close to.
        Also our house is surrounded by farms so she would just ask when we were going to see the dog since we often go visit our neighbors.

        1. Monika

          Good for you to think about it beforehand. It’s hard to lose a beloved pet. I like Ann Furthermore’s approach, you know best if your daughter is mature enough to handle that explanation.
          Do you plan to bury him in your garden? That might open another venue of discussion about what happens after death.

    9. Artemesia

      I think I might not tell her you were putting the cat down. I think I would tell her the cat was very old and got sick and died. Kids have fertile little imaginations and while confronting death is a bit scary, knowing your parents can have you killed is even scarier. At 3 they are not ready for nuance.

      1. Soupspoon McGee

        I should say that it’s not particularly religious, but god is one of the characters who takes care of the animals.

    10. Revanche

      Oh no, I’m so sorry. I haven’t done this yet but we had to explain to our neighbor’s son who was ever-so-besotted with our dog that died unexpectedly (same age) and I just went with the mom’s explanation that he went to live at a very nice farm because it was better for him.

  11. Stephanie

    What’s everyone reading? I just started Blood Will Out by Walter Kirn. We’ll see how it is–Goodreads reviews seem to be all over the place.

    I was trying to read Missoula by Jon Krakauer. It was well-written, I just kept putting it down. I had trouble getting into it like I did with his other books. And then it was way overdue at the library, so I just took it back before even more fines piled up (there were holds, so I couldn’t renew it).

    1. Elkay

      I’m still reading the Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, I’m a slow reader so it’s taken me well over a month. I’ve booked a day off work next week to get stuck into Go Set a Watchman (I’ve deliberately avoided the press about it so please no spoilers!)

      1. Elizabeth West

        I need to get that one. Alas, I was unable to avoid at least one spoiler, but I’m sure it won’t ruin the book for me. Nor will I be ruined if I don’t like it as well as Mockingbird.

      1. hermit crab

        Me too! The whole time I was thinking, “she better not mess up the end because otherwise this book is exactly what I needed.”

      2. Sandy

        I just finished it on Friday and I’m curious to get someone else’s take on it.

        Loved the characters, loved the set up, thought the writing was amazing, then got to the end and went “huh?”. In retrospect, seems like wasn’t really any story arc going, at least in the traditional sense.

        My feelings are so mixed!

    2. Meadowsweet

      just started ‘Battle Magic’ by Tamora Pierce – YA fantasy continuing in the ‘Circle of Magic’ world. Tamora Pierce = awesome female characters.
      just finished ‘Disciple of the Wind’ by Steve Bein – urban police fantasy in modern Tokyo and historical fantasy in ancient Japan (Book 3 of ‘The Fated Blades’). Good female characters too (hey, it’s important to me :) )

      1. Sparkly Librarian

        Yay, Tamora Pierce is my favorite j fic author! For some reason my branch doesn’t carry any of her books — or so I thought, until I found Will of the Empress buried in ADULT fiction. (Huh? The system had 8 other copies, split between J (children’s) and YA. Someone got confused.) It hadn’t been checked out in years. After discussion with the children’s librarian about where it should live, I’m capturing it for my YA collection and adding more; the titles circulate well in general, so I really think it was that no one knew where to look.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I’m reading Nick Hornby’s Funny Girl. I love him, and I’m enjoying this one. Good vacation read. I just finished Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life, which I found fascinating, and I have her follow-up, God in Ruins, just haven’t cracked it open yet.

      1. Elkay

        I haven’t read a Nick Hornby in years, the last one I read was How to be Good, I might need to try him out again. Also, didn’t know there was a follow up to Life After Life, will add that to my list.

      2. my whole existence is flawed

        Funny how this works. My wife recommended _Life After Life_ just the other day, I may start in on it tonight. I suspect she doesn’t know there’s a sequel, so thanks for that.

        I’ve been mostly re-reading old favorite books recently. Which is fun (and it tends to go really fast, since I’ll tend to skim over vast swaths of text to get to what I remember as The Good Stuff). Harry Harrison’s _Stainless Steel Rat_ books, Gregory McDonald’s _Fletch_ books, _Eon_ and _Blood Music_ by Greg Bear, _Permutation City_ by Greg Egan, plus a few things that are too obscure to mention.

        But I think it’s time to start in on something new.

    4. anonanonanon

      Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance! I went to one of his book tour Q&As and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much I’ve been enjoying the book. Some celebrities have books that are awful, obviously written by a ghostwriter, or clearly thrown together so they can make money off their fame. He put a lot of thought and research into this book. I’m impressed.

      1. Liz in a Library

        I usually prefer print, but I *highly* recommend the audiobook for this one. He is so charming and funny reading it!

    5. Cruciatus

      I just started the latest Linda Castillo book which has finally made it to bestseller status (had to fork over a whopping $.50 at the library for it). It’s part of the Kate Burkholder crime thriller series set in Amish country. She’s a small town police chief in Ohio and used to be Amish until she left after something horrible happened. She can traverse both the Amish and “English” worlds and helps solve old and new crimes that happen in both communities. I like the series and enjoy that I understand many of the Ohio and Pennsylvania geographic references since I live near-ish to them and have traveled through many of them at some point (though you don’t need to know them to enjoy the series).

      1. Jean

        Wow! Thanks for reminding me about this series (and the name of its author)! The one book I read in this series was more violent than my usual comfort zone but I stayed with it because the author did such a good job with the characters and the interplay between Amish and “English.”

        One of my favorite subjects to ponder is the challenge of balancing individual and collective rights and responsibilities when a strongly traditional community interacts with contemporary pluralistic society. (Personal disclosure: I’m an American Jew whose family is at least five generations removed from the small rural shtetls (Yiddish for “small towns”) of Eastern Europe. My religious life is not exactly like, say, Fiddler on the Roof, but I take the traditions seriously with a modern mindset.)

    6. bassclefchick

      I’m currently reading Norman Lear’s autobiography, Even This I Get to Experience. Having watched many of his TV shows (All in the Family, Jeffersons, Maude, One Day at a Time, Facts of Life and on and on!), I am excited to get a behind the scenes look! Celebrity autobiographies are my biggest weakness. Really liked Jon Cryer’s. The rock stars usually have really interesting things to say too.

      I want to get my hands on JR Ward’s new series The Burbon Kings. I LOVE The Black Dagger Brotherhood and can’t wait to dive in to her new stuff. Really enjoyed the Fallen Angel series too.

      1. pony tailed wonder

        I am reading Billy Idol’s autobiography, Dancing With Myself, and you are right – rock star autobiographies are great. His is a bit uneven though. He has some great observations on music and society, but when he talks about his relationships with women, it is like he is 13 years old (so far in the book). Also, I skipped ahead to read about his motorcycle accident and he finally admitted to what his mother told the press about it years ago – he and his mother read the Bible together every night during his recovery. He is better read and more interested in history and politics than his image would suggest. He knocks himself on his intelligence a lot but he really shouldn’t. His observations on the pop culture scene and how it was reflecting different movements are witty and apt.

        1. bassclefchick

          OK, now I have to find Billy Idol’s book! LOL I read both Ozzy AND Sharon Osbourne’s books. VERY interesting to see both their perspectives on the same events!!! Eric Clapton’s was great. Nikki Sixx’s was strange and Steven Tyler’s was really good. Why, yes. Yes I AM addicted to celebrity autobiographies!!

          1. Lady Bug

            Corey Taylor’s books are great, mix of his thoughts on the world and autobiigraphical bits. And they read like he is just having a chat with you.

      2. fposte

        Oh, I didn’t even know about the Norman Lear–that’s definitely something I’d be interested in.

    7. Persehone Mulberry

      Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Nora Roberts’ Chasing Fire -the main characters are Missoula fire jumpers – and will shortly be starting the newest J.D. Robb paperback.

    8. katamia

      Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy (since January, ugh–it’s so massive it’s physically hard for me to read, and I’m not sure if I’m really enjoying it or just so far into it that now I’m committed) and one of Michelle Sagara’s Cast in… books (they all have similar titles and I have no idea which one I’m reading now). But that one is kind of just me passing time until I get the ebook of Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, honestly. I’m not super into it but need something for when I can’t face A Suitable Boy.

      1. Artemesia

        Speaking of massive, I am on page 650 of the 1785 pages of War and Peace which I am reading for a book club. It turns out to be really interesting — truly a great book. I was not looking forward to it but now that I am reading it, enthralled by it. It cannot be skimmed – it is not about plot although there is plenty of that, but about his wonderful observations about social interactions, the nature of war and such. Wish I had read it as a teen; perhaps I would have become socially smarter a lot earlier when it would have done me some good.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale

          Which translation are you reading? I have the worst time with Russian literature– I get so caught up in patronyms, I get distracted. I’ve only been able to slog through one edition of Anna Karenina. I’d love to give W&P a try.

    9. Jen RO

      I’m reading John Joseph Adams’ Apocalypse Triptych and enjoying it – I’m a sucker for post-apocalyptic stuff!

    10. Former Diet Coke Addict

      I’m reading The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, which came with excellent recommendations, but I’m not as crazy about it as I was some of her other stuff–I loved Fingersmith and Tipping The Velvet, but this one is just…not doing it for me so much. I’m listening to Crazy Rich Asians, which I read before, but the audiobook is just unutterably fantastic–the reader does an absolutely outstanding job. It’s one of the very few audiobooks that I think is actually better than the book (the other being Code Name Verity).

      I finished The Miniaturist this week (same thing–great reviews, but didn’t work for me) and then Fall On Your Knees, a Canadian classic that I cannot believe it took me this long to read–amazing, evocative, many other adjectives! Before that it was You Know When The Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon, which…well, it had awesome reviews, but to me read very “This is my MFA Project” more than anything. Good, interesting, just not overwhelmingly amazing.

      Plus, as usual, YA for my blog.

      1. brightstar

        I read that a few months ago and found it underwhelming and to be honest, a little boring. And like you, I’d loved her earlier works.

      1. bkanon

        Ahhhhhh, me too! I’m at the Knight Bus right now. I keep telling people, Rowling is not the best writer from a technical POV, but seriously, she can tell a story. I started a few nights ago with the first book, just meant to do a couple of chapters, and before I knew it, it was two in the morning. I get so absorbed by her characters

        1. Liz in a Library

          Agree completely. Those books are all flawed, but insanely engaging and I always laugh and cry when I re-read one of them.

        2. Elizabeth West

          Yeah, she uses a passive it was, they were, etc. too much; I didn’t really notice it until I read The Casual Vacancy , but now I can’t unsee it. Do not care, though. :D

    11. Ann Furthermore

      I just finished In The Woods by Tana French. It was a great mystery, with an unexpected angle. But I’m trying to decide if I was annoyed by the ending or not. On one hand, it seemed pretty realistic, but on the other, it seemed like the author didn’t quite know how to wrap things up, so the story just stopped.

      Tonight I just started The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty. I’m only a couple chapters in, but it seems good so far.

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        I have just started “The King’s Curse” by Philippa Gregory, which is the last book in the Cousins’ War series. Apparently the term War of the Roses is a Victorian one.

        So far, it’s interesting, but she has started writing in the present tense, which I find extremely annoying, as her earlier books are written in the past tense.

        One of my pet hates is history documentaries on TV when the talking heads start describing historical events in the present tense: For example: “Henry VIII is saying to the pope, if you do not grant me a divorce from Katherine of Aragon then I will break from Rome and create my own church.”

        Argh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          1. Chocolate Teapot

            I liked The Other Boleyn Girl as well. It might even have been the first Philippa Gregory book I read. Fallen Skies, which takes place just after the First World War is quite good too.

        1. Violetta

          I’ve read a few of her books that I enjoyed, but the King’s Curse just drags on for freaking ever.

          1. Ellay

            Same. I love all the Tudor Court and Cousins War ones so I was super excited when King’s Curse came out… but I couldn’t get into it and it took me forever to finish.

      2. Liz in a Library

        I felt the same way about In the Woods, but have enjoyed everything else she’s written, so I assumed it was my fault. (And, to be fair, I did listen to it as an audiobook, where I accidentally put the last disc in my car instead of the second one…so I spoiled the ending for myself very early on. Not conducive to good suspense…so I assumed the abruptness at the end was partially due to that.)

    12. Treena

      I’m reading Wrecked by Charlotte Roche. This is her second novel (she’s more famous for her first, Wetlands–you may have remembered the movie version).

    13. Liz in a Library

      Just finished All the Light We Cannot See, and I totally get the hype. It’s rare that I feel such a connection to characters–that they seem so real. I definitely need something fluffier next, though.

      I’ve got both H is for Hawk and a mildly terrible romance novel on my night stand at the moment. I’m about a chapter into both. I want to say that I’ll finish H is for Hawk first, because it’s genuinely interesting…but that probably is not what will actually happen. :D

      1. Artemesia

        Loved All the Light and sorry we didn’t get to St. Malo when we went to Mont St. Michel a few years ago. Just finished the Imperfectionists by Rachmann which I really loved. It reads kind of like a series of interlocking short stories but all around an English language newspaper in Rome. Good read.

    14. Kirsten

      I just finished “The Good Girl” and really liked it. It had some mixed reviews but I didn’t find it to be predictable. I think my favorite book of this year was “You” by Caroline Kepnes. Totally creepy and I cannot wait until the second one comes out.

    15. Mephyle

      I am doing a beta read of an internet friends’ sequel to his first book. It is such a thrill to be on the inside.
      I wish everyone could read the first book. Can I publicize it here? Or would that be too pushy? Scandinavian post-apocalyptic steampunk, people.

    16. part of the machine

      I just finished God Save the Child by Toni Morrison. I am a huge Morrison fan, and this did not disappoint.

    1. NoPantsFridays

      Looks uncomfortable but good for her for raising awareness.
      Hope the stains washes out if she wants to reuse the pants she’s wearing there.
      I’m still amazed that human people can run 26 miles without stopping, never mind with blood running down their legs.

    2. puddin

      I got a little irritated with the ‘stupid and gross’ replies people made. In some parts of the world due to religious observation or cultural norms, menstruating women are forced to not leave their homes or they are supposed to go to special menstruation areas (like separate houses or huts). They are not allowed to see other people, touch things, or be touched. How can a woman hold down a job when she is supposed to avoid being in public for one week per month? Their is a stigma around menstruation and it is real. It holds women down and emphasizes the ideas that being female means you have ‘disabilities’, original sin, and are in general less valued.

      People were mocking her and comparing it to running with diarrhea. Well that has been done and documented as well. And yeah, its not for the faint hearted (Google marathon poop images – caution you will see poop) but I think there is also a valuable point about the strength and fortitude of marathon runners, which I am perpetually in awe of.

      1. fposte

        And ultrarunners, who run 50-100 miles, aren’t exactly stopping into hotels along the way; mostly they just pee as they go.

        1. GOG11

          I recently crewed two hundred mile races and neither of my runners went to the bathroom at any of the aid stations I was at. One was a man and one was a woman. Pretty sure they just went in the woods when they had to go. Then again, so did I – the park bathroom smelled so horrendous I opted for the forest instead.

      2. Natalie

        Yup. My dad trains marathoners and one of the key parts of their training is accepting that poop (“the trots”) might happen.

    3. GOG11

      I wouldn’t do it myself (running gear is expensive!!!!!), but I don’t see why it’s not okay for her to do it, at least why it’s any less okay than having a guy with blood down his front from nipple chafing. I know I don’t stop my run if I’ve fallen and am bleeding from my knee(s) and/or shoulder and/or palm(s) and/or face (hey…I’m clumsy…). As long as people keep their bodily fluids to themselves, I don’t think there’s anything terribly wrong with it. They’re her pants and it’s her legs that might be chafing from the moisture, not mine. I did learn things from the article that she wrote, but I would have learned those things whether she had run and bled freely or not. Ultimately, to me, it’s her decision.

      I do get really annoyed by everyone saying how disgusting it is. Puddin raises some really good points.

    4. Mephyle

      I think it is brave and fantastic. The awareness it’s raising, it seems to me, is not that women menstruate, but rather that this bodily function is not something to be ashamed of.

  12. Sparky

    I’m re-reading the Spellman mystery series by Lisa Lutz. The books feature a family of private eyes who live in San Francisco, the parents brought their three children into the business as soon as they were old enough to do basic surveillance. The narrator is middle child and screw up Isabel “Izzy” Spellman. The books are funny but they also have a compassionate side.

      1. Sparky

        The first book is The Spellman Files, then after that the titles take after the titles of the Pink Panther films, Curse of the Spellmans, Revenge of the Spellmans, The Spellmans Strike Again, etc. Which has nothing to do with the plots, but that’s fun, and the author has the characters watch a Pink Panther marathon at one point so she clearly really loves the movies. And probably also Get Smart, since Isabel loves that show. Anyway, I hope you like the books, Jean!

        If anyone knows of any other books/series with a similar type of humor, I’d love to read them too!

        1. EvilQueenRegina

          Oh, I only read the first 3, didn’t know there were more! Thanks for that, I will look for those. The odd thing is I was only thinking about them recently as well!

      2. Kerry ( like the county in Ireland)

        The first 4 are fantastic and perfect. Haven’t read the last 2, but I did buy her new mainstream fiction release and her experimental 2 author mystery.

        She did a talk locally, and she confirmed she’d written the first Spellman book as straight fiction, not as a mystery per se, and the publisher packaged it as a mystery so it would sell. People I have recommended it to complain about that aspect.

      3. Mephyle

        Echoing. On my “books to read” list now, too, thanks.

        I see that various Amazon reviewers invoke Stephanie Plum when explaining what type of humour this series has. I have the S.Plum. books up to #8 and I’m debating how many more I should invest in. At a certain point I think the series went off the track I was enjoying – too twee, too paranormal. What’s your opinion, fellow Stephanie Plum fans?

  13. Lizzie

    This could be considered tangentially work related for me I guess, but evidently a social worker for the Department of Children and Families in Vermont was murdered by a mother who had their child taken out of her custody yesterday (see Yahoo or the Burlington Free Press – which is local to the area it happened – for some details). As a result, a lot of my old classmates and friends who are working for DCF in our state are quite frightened to go work, because there are an incredible number of comments to the tune of “good for the mother,” “good riddance to government rubbish,” “that’s a true parent,” and my personal favourite: “the only difference between Children’s Services and John Wayne Gacy is a clown mask.” (That one is a direct quote, by the way. Gag.)

    I had the reputation among my small cohort as being the “pillar of strength” type and I’ve had a lot of people sending me Facebook messages, e-mails or texts looking for something to convince them that could never happen to them, and I have absolutely no idea what to tell them. That *could* happen. Realistically I have no way to know that it won’t or even that it’s unlikely now that this has made national news and so many people are supporting the social worker’s killer, and for the first time I have no idea how to buoy them in a way that isn’t a lie. This is bothering me a lot more than it should, I’m sure, but I’m at a loss and it’s very uncomfortable not to be able to help.

    1. fposte

      I’m so sorry; that’s deeply disturbing. If you’re talking article comments, remember that those are really not the place to take the genuine temperature of the community. And given that it looks like the killer may also have murdered family members, it’s going to be pretty tough to stay on her side.

      1. Lizzie

        Some article comments, but also some offhand comments from people overheard – though not by me, by aforementioned ex-classmates – in realtime (which is terrifying). The husband of one of my closer friends in that group actually made an “I don’t *condone* it, but I don’t blame her” comment. I think I’d be considering divorce if I were her.

        I think for them this is so scary because you assume to a point that there is no danger inherent in going to work when your job is about 30% home visits and 70% in-office (in my area, anyway). Sure, you might have a home visit that’s pretty shady, but we’re taught very early on to GTFO if we feel unsafe and trust our gut. People don’t go to work as a case worker for DCF and worry about dying because of it. (My part of the field is *super hella risky* in that I’m working with human trafficking victims and traffickers get *super hella angry* when we rescue the people they’ve been trafficking, but a DCF case worker doesn’t have that kind of thing to worry about on a regular basis – and when they find it, they give it to us!)

        1. katamia

          Wait. Please tell me I misread your comment and the friend who’s married to that insensitive guy isn’t also in that line of work.

          1. Lizzie

            You did not misread. My friend is also a social worker, and her husband did indeed say that.

            It’s not really my business – not my circus, not my monkeys, all that – but I’m not a fan of him and while I’m sure it must work in other ways (I *hope* it works in other ways) I personally could absolutely never be married to someone who’d say that.

            1. katamia

              Ugh. I would also be considering divorce if I were married to someone who said something like that about my line of work.

              1. Lizzie

                I’ve known her since we were undergrads, and he’s pretty much always been like this about our field and I have never been able to figure out why. He flat-out refused to move so she had to take her masters’ program online in twice the amount of time, and work at a daycare in the meantime (they rent an apartment so they wouldn’t be selling a house, he wasn’t working and they had no children at the time, so it wasn’t really for any super important reason). My frustration knows no ends, but he’s not my husband, so I try not to comment to her on it if I can at all contain myself.

                Clearly strangers on the internet are exempt from that rule. ;)

                1. Observer

                  This is worse- he’s basically saying that he understands why someone would murder his wife. That’s not just being selfish and un-supportive.

            2. Artemesia

              Wow. If she were not in that line of work, it would be one thing, but he is saying to his wife — hey I can empathize with someone killing you for doing your job. Yikes.

              1. Lizzie

                Exactly. If I’m really honest, though, it wouldn’t sit well with me if she didn’t work in our field, either. He’d still essentially be claiming empathy for a murderer and therefore passively endorsing the murder of another person, and that’s *extremely* a no-no in my book. I’m not everyone, though.

    2. BRR

      Oh wow that’s terrible. It seems like some network of people is urging each other to post. I can’t imagine that many people are really against DCF. Know that more people support the work these people do.

      1. fposte

        I suspect that if the child had been hurt, these would be the same people saying DCFS failed.

      2. Lizzie

        In my state, at least, DCF is definitely not well-liked. There’s a reason people call me a baby-snatcher when I tell them I’m a social worker. (I don’t even work for DCF, by the way.) They’re considered state-funded kidnappers by a lot of people despite the position of DCF here being that the ideal end goal should always be an intact, healthy family even if it takes a while, and parental rights are terminated in a very small percentage of cases here. It’s a thankless job, but support means a lot to them, so thank you.

        1. Mimmy

          That’s a very common misconception about social workers, unfortunately. I’ve gotten similar, though not as nasty, comments.

          1. Lizzie

            It’s really frustrating. At any given event:

            Person A: So what do you do for a living, Lizzie?
            Me: Oh, I’m a social worker.
            Person B: What, really? You seem so nice to be taking people’s kids away every day …
            Me: [screams internally]

            I’ve considered just telling people I’m in repossession, but then I realize that (a) I don’t actually work for DCF so my terrible snark doesn’t even apply to me and (b) snark wouldn’t be helping me, here. It’s very tempting though.

            1. Not So NewReader

              If you told them what your actual job is they would be in awe of you, just my opinion.

              1. Lizzie

                Haha, some people are, and I’m still trying to learn how to take that in stride in real life and allow people to pay me compliments (I get a bit awkward and am trying to stop minimizing by saying “well someone has to do it” or “well, it’s just the right thing to do,” etc.). Some people also get this really horrified look on their face, like I’ve just told them that there’s a real-life version of Taken happening the next street over (there isn’t, for the record – it doesn’t really work like that at all). Those are easier!

                1. Not So NewReader

                  Just say, “Thanks, it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.” This keeps it on the humble side, which seems more comfortable somehow. And it helps the conversation to move on.

            2. Sunshine Brite

              Social worker here too. The snark I feel just perpetuates stereotypes. I always just lay out whatever the main bit of my job is.

              1. Lizzie

                I rarely actually snark aloud (except in the comfort of my office, with my supervisor – we have been very good friends since I was in college, and it’s all in good fun), I promise. :) Just very subtly, at certain local politicians.

        2. FD

          I wonder if part of it is that those attitudes have changed and evolved as we learned more about mental illness, for example.

          My uncle is profoundly autistic, for example, and my grandparents had a bunch of issues with a social worker who kept accusing them of causing it through abuse (at the time, many people believed that autism was caused primarily through abuse). He did end up needing to be in a group home as an adult, but they had to work through that mostly on their own.

          With my sister, who is has Aspberger’s, right on the edge of autism, and is deaf, we did have a bit of a mixed bag. We had to fight to get a case worker assigned (in our state, it’s a prerequisite for a lot of aid available to disabled adults), but once we did, we’ve had generally good experiences.

          1. Lizzie

            That’s not my area of the field so I really couldn’t say, but now I’m curious to ask some of my friends who are in that area of the field what their thoughts are on this … I’ll have to report back on that one!

    3. Not So NewReader

      I don’t think you should lie at all. I think you should simply acknowledge that while rare, it does happen. Then go over your safety procedures. May be too work related for today but at some point it might be interesting to find out what policemen/firefighters and other front line people tell each other about facing the dangers of their jobs.

      1. Lizzie

        I’d be interested in any of them who want to chime in (if we have any), as well. I’ve so far been encouraging them to be forthcoming about their worries with their supervisors and talk about practical safety solutions – not only those that exist, but what perhaps should they do going forward if this starts looking like a real, viable risk in their organization? I don’t think we do that enough in our field.

  14. fposte

    I’m going to make my first visit to an Eataly (Chicago) in a couple of weeks, and I’m particularly interested in packing up stuff to take home (and eating gelato). Anybody got recommendations for can’t-miss cheeses, salumi, anything else that survives a few hours in a cooler?

    1. the gold digger

      I love Eataly! They have a Nutella bar, you know.

      They have the best prices on non-China pine nuts I have seen. I have a pound in my freezer. They also sometimes have pimentos de Padron, which are an excellent appetizer. Look for the squeeze bottles of gourmet Nutella stuff. Enjoy a latte, as I did, maybe with Jamie. (Who is MIA again, I think. :( )

      1. fposte

        Oh, the pine nuts are a brilliant idea–thanks! I confess I’m not among the Nutella faithful, but it looks like they’ve got both a pastry and a sweets counter so I think I’ll find plenty of entertainment.

  15. about my brother

    I have a question for this smart community – I’m a long time lurker. My brother is estranged from the rest of our family, as well as being mentally ill. (He has been involved in incidents where they’ve ordered him locked down in a hospital for treatment in the past.) He lives 3,000 miles from me, and about two hours from the rest of my family. Every couple of years, I go see him – to see if he’s okay; to see if he’s still there. Last time I went he was VERY angry that I came unannounced. (There is no other way – he won’t share his phone # with me). Also, I was afraid to write to warn him – I thought maybe he would be away on purpose and then my trip would be for nothing because I wouldn’t know if he was still alive or not. There are no friends of his to ask. Last trip, I went by the police station (since they must know who he is, having detained him), and asked to be listed as a family contact in case he was to pass away or they needed to contact family for whatever issue. The officer was really nonchalant and a bit dismissive about it – he did take my information but I wonder if he did anything with it.

    Sorry for the length – my question is – am I missing something else I can do? My main obligation feels like I would like to know if he passes away or winds up back in the hospital (although I realize that is his right to be confidential about that.)

    1. Lizzie

      Depending on the state in which he resides and the nature of his mental illness/how that affects his judgement and ability to care for himself, you may be able to get a court order that would open the door for this if he won’t consent to it or the police station won’t accept you as an emergency contact (I’m not sure what you mean by “a bit dismissive,” there). But *also* depending on the state in which he resides, as he is an adult, you may not really have a lot of resources for that unless he consents or you’re his actual caregiver. It varies a lot from place to place.

    2. Jean

      Sympathies. Mental illness is so hard to deal with whether it’s one’s own or that of someone we love.

      Is NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) a possible resource on this?
      www dot nami dot org
      NAMI has chapters (state, regional, county…) all over the U.S. Maybe someone in the chapter closest to your brother could help you find a more sympathetic officer, and/or navigate the local landscape of laws, regulations, and/or ways to meet your desire to stay informed without compromising your brother’s privacy or endangering your relationship with him.

      1. nona

        +1 to NAMI. They have a lot of resources. Many of their chapters also have social/support groups, including groups for people whose loved ones have mental illnesses. You might find people with similar experiences to talk to.

  16. MJ (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

    My uncle passed away on Friday. He was riddled with cancer and developed pneumonia in the last week, so while I’m glad he’s no longer suffering, it was also more of a shock than it really should have been.

    I’m kind of at a loss for what to say/how to help my aunt, though. She’s been amazing over the last six months since he got diagnosed, and I’m worried she’s going to find herself a bit… adrift, now.

    1. Thinking out loud

      I’m so sorry. When I’m close with someone in that situation, I start coming up with excuses to stop by about once a week, and I bring food. Don’t bring too much, residually if she’s living alone now, but I always love a fresh cooked meal with fresh fruit. Don’t stay too long when you stop by unless it seems like she eats you to stay, and I always ask if they want to talk about the deceased family member and then respect their wishes if they say no. You could also invite her out to do things – I find it especially helpful if it can sounds like a favor to me. (“I understand if you don’t want to, but I need a new pair of jeans and would love your opinion – would you like to go shopping with me next Saturday? “)

      Good luck!

    2. GOG11

      A close friend of mine lost her boyfriend in a car accident. They probably weren’t together as long as your aunt and uncle, and, besides, my friend isn’t your aunt, so some of this may not apply, but in the first few days, I focused on just being there. I went to her apartment, helped her pick out something to wear, made her a cup of hot chocolate (really it was a breakfast mix, but it tasted like hot coco), and listened a lot.

      Whether she wanted to be alone or not changed pretty rapidly, and I think it was because nothing was comfortable, but it was comforting for her to try to do something about that discomfort. I let her know that it was okay to have me over, and then need an hour alone, and then want me to come back over. We lived in the same town, though, so I’m not sure this would apply to you.

      Later on, she had run out of paid leave at work, so I set up a gift/memorial account discreetly reached out to some mutual friends and gave them information about how to donate. That helped ease her stress a bit.

      Mostly, though, I was just there/present, and took my cues from her. Also, it can be helpful to offer something specific (can I bring you a meal next Tuesday?) rather than saying let me know if you need anything.

      I’m sorry for your loss, MJ. Be sure to take care of yourself, too.

    3. fposte

      I would also make a point of touching base to support her in a few weeks, when the first flurry of consolers have gone back to their lives.

    4. Sparky

      Condolences on the loss of your uncle, MJ. When my uncle died I went and stayed with my aunt, who didn’t want to be alone. She and my uncle were very devoted to each other, so she just wanted someone around. Plus, their neighborhood wasn’t the greatest and she didn’t feel safe. Later I helped her do some things to get the house ready to sell, and I helped her sort through things and pack.

      I don’t know if any of this would be appropriate for your aunt, but I was really glad that I could be there for her.

    5. Not So NewReader

      When my husband passed people gave me books. I read every single one of those books.

      People also invited me places. That helped, too. She does not need to go out all the time. I felt that if I went to two ongoing activities a week, my week was full. (Because of settling the estate and other tasks mixed in at that point.)

      A random phone call is always a good thing.

      If you see something specific that you can help with AND you know she is concerned about it- then offer to help. She might just like having someone go with her to run errands. The world looks different without your spouse and having someone else along helps to cushion that.

      In some ways the second year is worse than the first. Who’d think that getting through the first year (first birthday alone, first Thanksgiving, etc) could be topped? Well it can, by the second year everyone has gone back to life and the busyness from the estate work is probably over. So the things that filled up her time the first year, tend to drop off on the second year. So be aware of that, too.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      A while back, a commenter used “chocolate teapots” as a fictional example of a company’s products. It’s often better to have a generic stand-in than to have to get specific about what your company does (both for simplicity’s sake and anonymity’s sake). I used it myself a few times, and then it caught on more widely. (However, I try to avoid using it too frequently in actual posts since I know it’ll be confusing to newer readers.)

      1. Chocolate Teapot

        Yes, the intention was never that the company itself was useless (although how many times have there been posts on here which would suggest there are far too many useless companies in existence?) but rather a funny way of describing a generic company.

        I have heard Underwater Basket Weaving used in a similar fashion, but Chocolate Teapots seem to have taken off with possibilities for Spout and Handle attaching teams and the Milk and Plain Chocolate divisions.

      2. Jazzy Red

        Re: being specific about one’s company and products. Sometimes people *should* know about that.

        I once worked for a company that made cranes. They made portable cranes (ones on trucks) and really big stationary cranes like the ones used in loading/unloading ships, or in manufacturing facilities. They were pricey little devils (around a million dollars, if I remember correctly), and we sold very few in a year, probably a couple of dozen.

        When Windows first came in, we had a consultant come in to teach us how to use Word and Excel. The Excel teacher had a bunch of people of the sales & marketing dept, including the executives. She was explaining how to use Excel for tracking and made the statement: “so if you sold 5,000 cranes last month” and never finished because the whole class broke into laughter. That statement went through the company including the entire sales staff and factory and was used in meetings for years to get everyone’s attention (“so if we want to sell 5,000 cranes next month…”). And it always broke everyone up. 20+ years later, it still makes me laugh.

  17. schnapps

    So this is semi-work related. I shared on last Friday’s open thread that my bully manager had, after two months of medical leave, resigned her position. While I am quite pleased she is gone (she is just not a good manager and was ultimately over her head in this position), I don’t wish her any ill will because of what she did. As far as I’m concerned: it’s done, moving on.

    She was always very helpful and accommodating on personal things. For example, the lady knows her scotch, my dad loves scotch and I usually get him a bottle for his birthday. When she found out I was getting him Glenfiddich, she was horrified and came out with a list of scotches that are in the same price range but much better. And any time I asked her for help with scotch, she was very helpful (and dad reports that the scotch was good).

    One of my coworkers is arranging a going-away thing for her. I won’t be going because I want her to be able to relax and I was one of the people who brought the complaint against her, but I thought I’d get her a card and a nice bottle of scotch – to say thanks and no hard feelings.

    Thoughts?

    1. A

      I would not. You were a complainant for a reason, and if she knows that, it’s an especially bad idea.

      A bully is a bully even if they do have good taste in scotch. Bullies don’t get going-away presents.

      1. schnapps

        That’s another perspective.

        Yes, she knows I’m a complainant, but (a) she retired and it’s unlikely we’ll cross paths again (she’s 60) and (b) the complaint went through our union (I’m in Canada and I work for local government). My department head believed us and there was a process implemented to help her improve. I guess she decided that she didn’t want to go through that process.

        1. A

          If it’s unlikely you’re ever going to cross paths again, I extra would not. There’s no reason to maintain a good relationship with this person.

    2. Dynamic Beige

      Does she *hate* you? I mean, it’s a very nice gesture you want to make but do you think that merely receiving something like that with your name attached will cause her more anger than pleasure? It has been a couple of months but there are some people who could medal in grudge-holding. If so, you might just contribute anonymously to a general gift the group is giving if they are. If you don’t think that receiving such a gift from you would drive her rage-blind, then giving her a card that just references the personal help she’s given you might be the way to go. “BullyManager, thank you so much for the training in how to appreciate a good scotch. My father will be forever grateful that you taught me there are better things out there than Glenfiddich. Best in all your future endeavours, Schnapps”

      1. schnapps

        Well, that’s the thing. I’m not entirely sure. After the process started (she left about a month into a 4 month process), she seemed ok – but all of her decisions regarding us were run past our department head. It was a little surprising that she left on medical leave; I really thought that with her personality, she’d be up to the challenge. I’m not entirely sure how she feels about me personally and like I said, I bear her no ill will.

        I want her to be happy in her decision and I would like to do what I can to help her with that. She retired probably about 5-7 years earlier than she expected.

        From my perspective, it’s a gift that says, “Hey, thanks for helping me with my relationship with my dad” (a whole other story).

        1. Dynamic Beige

          If this is something you feel you *must* do, that you will feel badly if you don’t do it then you should do as your conscience or gut moves you. You mean no ill-will, getting her out of her job wasn’t a personal attack (exactly, sort of) and since the scotch training was not directly related to your job (unless you work for the LCBO or SAQ) then she might take the gesture as you intend it. Or not. So long as you’re not there to witness how she receives it, will it matter? If you don’t think you’ll run into her again then unless she’s a truly vindictive harpy who decides to make your life miserable as her retirement project, odds are you won’t even hear a peep about it.

          Also, if your Dad likes scotch, you might want to get him a set of Whiskey Stones. They come in a wide variety of materials — some are decorated. The idea is (and maybe this doesn’t work with scotch, I’m not a big drinker) that you put the stones in the freezer and use them instead of ice to cool the drink down. Because they’re stone (or glass, or steel) they will cool the liquid without diluting it.

        2. Sarahbeth

          For what it’s worth, I’m on medical leave and am working on accepting that I might never go back to work, and I’d be pretty insulted if I found out that my staff thought that I just wasn’t up to the challenge.

    3. Not So NewReader

      How about a handwritten card saying along the lines of what you have written here. She was always very helpful and accommodating on personal things and the scotch story. Wish her the best and sign it.

      I don’t think you should say no hard feelings, just show it by extending an olive branch in the form of a card.

      I’m sitting on the fence regarding the scotch. I think I am leaning toward “no”.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        You know, that’s a good point. Are we talking Mcallam 25 or Johnnie Walker Red label? While on the one hand I do agree with the others that bullies shouldn’t get rewarded, on the other, spending a lot of money on a peace offering for someone who made most of your working life Not Fun also doesn’t make sense. Perhaps just contributing something to whatever the party is your coworker is throwing would be enough?

      2. schnapps

        The first bottle was called Isle of Jura – dad absolutely loved it. I think it was “Superstition” – they have a couple of versions. One is more peaty, the other is less. Aberfeldy is apparently good too. Avoid anything “cask strength” – it can be a bit harsh.

        1. schnapps

          Ok, so I live in British Columbia, which means prices are controlled by the BCLC. Any of the bottles she suggested to me was not more than $70 per, including taxes. I’m not talking a $200 bottle of scotch here. :) I love my dad, but not that much and he’d be mad if I spent more than what a bottle of Glenfiddich is worth.

    4. Ask a Manager Post author

      I don’t want to delete this because there are 11 people who took the time to respond and I feel bad doing that, but please don’t post work-related things in the non-work open thread! I’m a tyrant about it because I saw early on that if I wasn’t, it would get overtaken by work stuff and defeat the purpose of having a separate one. Thank you.

      1. schnapps

        Sorry, Alison. I thought since it was more about the “going-away gift” it’d be ok. Won’t happen again.

    5. Artemesia

      I would not. There are hard feelings.

      And what is your scotch rec? I get glenfiddich because I thought it was good — I don’t drink the stuff. Would be happy to get something else to have on hand for friends who drink it.

      1. Lindsay J

        Not the op or a scotch drinker myself, by a friend of mine is fond of the Laphroaig 10 or the Lagavulin 16.

  18. not all about the $$$

    How do you handle a friend who is privileged and unaware that others are not as lucky?

    I’ve been friends with Jane for several years but I’ve noticed some qualities about her that really annoy me. Her and her husband both come from well off families, who continue to help finance their lifestyle. For example, they are building a new house in an expensive addition. I am thinking (dreaming really) of purchasing a home, so we were discussing potential areas of the city. She told me how much their plot of land cost (I didn’t ask) and acted like it was nothing.
    Obviously, I didn’t want to point out that some people aren’t as fortunate to have parents that help them with down payments and bills, and other have to come up with this money on their own. She knows I struggle to have what I have and to me, it just seems kind of tone deaf to brag about your custom kitchen and six bedrooms. (I should add that I might be losing my job in the next year because of a merger, and obviously worried how I’m just going to pay my bills. Jane knows about the merger.)

    The truth is, if I were “wealthier” than her, I don’t think she would want to be friends with me. For example, a mutual friend of ours (who has a high-paying job and is excellent with finances) bought a new house last year. It’s a very nice home and Jane was very jealous, using every opportunity to make fun of the friend and wonder out loud “how in earth does Friend afford a house like that?” and “why does friend need a large home if she isn’t planning to have kids?” She stopped being friends with this person around the time that friend bought the home.

    I’ve distanced myself from Jane in recent months but I’m worried she will confront me about it.

    1. Kat A.

      Why do you care what Jane thinks? She doesn’t sound like someone who’d be supportive or understanding when you’d need her to be.

    2. Jean

      Ease away and redirect your energies. Instead of worrying about a possible confrontation with Jane, cultivate new friends who don’t belittle other people’s paths in life.

      My guess is that Jane is too busy “worrying up” or “dismissing down” to be genuinely interested in you, especially after you stop accepting her assignment of being the person who makes her look So. Much. “Better.” by comparison.

      If she decides to “confront you” just be non-reactive and noncommital. “Oh, I’ve been busy.” “Yes, that’s correct, we haven’t been in touch recently.” You haven’t misbehaved–she has–but why feed her need for drama? She sounds insecure (which would be sad, except that she’s trying to build herself up by tearing others down) and all-around exhausting.

      I suppose you could calmly challenge her outrageous statements, but honestly, based on what you’ve said I don’t see any reason to stay connected to her unless you are willing to work through a spell of “Jane, you don’t seem yourself lately…can I help you get back to a happier place?”

      If I sound grouchy, it’s because my family has had a lot of brushes with serious illness in the past few months. I’m running out of patience with people who drain my time and energy.

      1. Dynamic Beige

        I agree with Jean. Some people simply cannot be content unless they are ripping down someone else and that’s a sad place to be.

        There is no point trying to challenge her worldview because IMO she doesn’t care and anything you do say will just get written down by her as you’re jealous. The only thing she’s concerned about is that she has better “stuff” than anyone else (even if her parents are helping her pay for it — what the actual hell is up with that?). Yes, you may be a useful crutch that she can point to and say “At least I’m doing better than NotAllAboutThe$$$” but who wants to be that person in someone’s life? Not all friendships are meant to last forever and it looks like this is one of them. She will either find someone else to play the role of “her disadvantaged friend” or she’ll find a group of “the right people” and spend more to keep up with them/avoid being the “disadvantaged” one in that group.

    3. fposte

      While I agree with the above commenters, I also think there’s a mixture here. Jane’s obsessing about her friend’s spending is annoying, and it sounds like she’s keen to sort the world out into financial hierarchies, which I would definitely find offputting.

      But some of it sounds like it’s about negotiating a friendship between people with different financial states. And like any discrepancy, that’s a challenge, and I think it can be hard to figure out a difference between just talking about normal parts of life and being insensitive to a difference. Sometimes it’s not a problem–I quite enjoy hearing about friends’ exotic vacations, even though I can’t afford them, and I didn’t mind hearing people talk about their living dads when my dad died. With some friendships, you can talk about this problem–the friend feeling overwhelmed by three kids and the friend going through fertility treatment can figure out ground rules. And sometimes it’s just too hard to bridge.

      So I don’t think she’s inherently insensitive for being excited about her new kitchen and saying so to you ( I don’t know how she said it, of course), especially during a time when you were playing with the house notion too; you’re not in an immediate distress that makes it inappropriate. But it sounds like 1) it’s a discrepancy you find disheartening, which isn’t hard to understand and 2) that stuff is a big part of Jane’s life right now. So you can dial back on the friendship whether she’s insensitive or not just because it’s not a good fit for you these days, and if she confronts you (which to me is a reason enough to drop somebody, because ew), you can say that you just feel like you’re at different places and into different things right now.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Love this. Not unlike a friend who has a baby and everything is baby-baby-baby. And here the listener is not even in a relationship. Tone deaf. You are actually in different places right now so that would be a good thing to say.
        OTH, don’t be surprised if she does not ask. I am not sure how much of a friend this person actually is.

      2. Observer

        I might have agreed with you, except for the issue with the other friend. That’s a huge red flag.

    4. Gareth Keenan Investigates

      I think something like this was the beginning of the end of a friendship for me. I really struggled to put myself through grad school while a close friend was gifted grad school tuition from a relative. Same relative made a (very) large financial contribution so that friend could purchase a nice house in a great neighborhood and friend complained about how annoying it was to have to thank said relative. I had undergrad loans, she had none (thanks to mom and dad). I tried not to let it get to me but at some part she started making comments about how I should probably be better with my finances and how irresponsible it was for me to meet friends out for dinner or coffee if I was so tight on money. It was like a gap that kept getting wider and wider and we were never able to find our way over it.

    5. A

      You get a new friend.

      She sounds like she’s only keeping you around to gloat and look better, like the fabled homely friend one takes to the bar so one will look hotter by comparison. That’s not a friend, that’s a snotty human being using you as a humble-brag accessory.

    6. Steve G

      My sister was complaining about a friend that is judgy in the same way, and my (non-actionable) advice was – send them to NY. Or at least picture how they’d function here. Here, all of the differences that look big in small towns (2 vs. 4 bedrooms, $50K salary vs. $70K, etc.), all of them blend together. While a 2-bedroom house may be ½ the price of a 4-bedroom house and be visibly smaller in the suburb, the price for both may just mean a modest 1-bed vs. a luxury 1-bedroom apt in the city. Either one doesn’t make you look particularly rich. Not only does it just take so much more money to get to the top 10% or 5% or whatever, but it is just not visible who is rich here. You can’t check out their car, their lawn, their pool, none of that here. The question becomes – how would someone like Jane function in that sort of environment? Either their mentality crashes and burns through a bunch of awkward situations where people realize they are making more of themselves than they actually are, or they end up living beyond their means to compete and fall into debt.

    7. matcha123

      I don’t know if I really have advice, but I do have friends like the one you are talking about. They are so clueless and it is so frustrating. They know my financial situation, but they still make a point of talking about expensive vacations and such. And like you, I kind of feel like they wouldn’t want to try to be friends with me if I were making more than them. One person was visibly upset when I was accepted to the same high-ranking university as her, when I was on the honors roll (or whatever you call it in university) with her in university and later when we applied to a program and I was placed in a more “prestigious” roll.
      She makes way more than me, has no debt, etc. She just doesn’t understand the world and I limit the time I communicate with her.

    8. Observer

      This doesn’t sound like oblivious privilege. It sounds like a need to be able to show off.

    9. Cath in Canada

      I used to have a friend like this. Her parents bought her an apartment outright to live in during grad school, plus a car, while the rest of us were renting crappy shared places and using transit. Which is fine – I don’t think anyone’s family wealth should be held against them – but she was just completely oblivious about it. When a couple of us said that we couldn’t go on a pricy weekend ski trip with her once because we couldn’t afford it, she said “well that’s no excuse”. Just clueless. For that and various other reasons I went the gradual fade-out route. Haven’t seen her for years.

  19. hermit crab

    Is there anything that I should do, buy, take advantage of, get a discount on, etc., before my student ID expires next month? I’m in the DC area. Thanks in advance!

    1. Cruciatus

      Can you get a discount on software from your school? I was able to get a used copy of Microsoft Office for something like $5 (granted this was 10 years ago).

      Are you interested in Amazon Prime? Students get a discount I believe.

      Any restaurants that offer student discounts that may be out of your price range otherwise?

      At the college I worked at students got discounts all around the city–car mechanics, restaurants, inside water park, etc. But they were given a list. Is there anyone you could contact or a website at your school that will show you what’s offered?

      1. hermit crab

        Asking the school is a good idea, thanks! As a grad student, I didn’t really take advantage of any student services, but I bet there is a student activity office or something for undergrads that would have suggestions. I already have a $10 copy of Office (from work) and the only other thing I could think of is buying a discounted Mac, which I definitely don’t want/need!

    2. Stephanie

      Ok, not at all exciting…but if you’re a member of a professional organization it’s usually way cheaper to renew or sign up at the student rate versus the professional rate.

      Aside from that, clothes? There are a couple of stores that have student discounts (J Crew comes to mind).

    3. AnotherFed

      Amazon prime, while your student email still works! Other than that, grab a spare download of any software your school offers – mine did operating systems, microsoft office, adobe pro, matlab, JMP, minitab, Solidworks (reduced price but not free), and a couple of other math/stats tools. I recognize I’m a total geek, but I thought it was awesome to play around with the stats and CAD software, and ended up using them all a lot when my grad school program had a crappy selection of software for students.

    4. BuildMeUp

      There’s an article on Business Insider called “34 Discounts Every Student Should Use” that has a great list! I won’t link it to avoid ending up in the moderation queue, but it should come up easily with a quick google.

      Have you looked at student discounts for museums? I know most of the museums near me have student discounts or free days.

    5. Discounts

      Check out Adobe software. They used to offer a pretty fantastic discount. If you like art/culture, tons of museums offer discounts. I second the Prime thing. If you’re not a Mac, Dell used to offer discounts- though I am not a fan of their products. Also, I think bookstores would be worth checking out.

    6. bentley

      I went through student legal services and got a will and a medical power of attorney done for free.

  20. hermit crab

    Oh and hey, Other Dawn, I made the baked lentils recipe from your blog the other day, and it rocked! I had a bunch of mushrooms that I needed to use up, so I put those in instead of the celery, but that’s the only change I made. Anyway, it’s so delicious. I’ve been in a serious rice-and-beans rut and this is exactly what I needed in my life. Like, my fiance is out of town for a few weeks and I have literally been texting him about my lentils. So, thanks! And everyone else, you should cook this.

  21. NicoleK

    I received two large yellow summer squashes from a coworker several weeks ago. I’m not familiar with this vegetable and have no experience cooking it. I’ve noticed that the rind on both squashes are not as soft as it use to be. Are they still edible?

    1. Steve G

      Almost all squash tastes good fried in butter and bread crumbs. You don’t have to worry about painstakingly coating each slice in milk, then bread crumbs, I just throw the sliced squash and bread crumbs into the pan once the butter melts, and you flip it so much that every side gets coated. And yes, they get hard as they go bad, you should be able to cut through it with minimal effort if it is good.

      1. Nashira

        Almost any veggie is good if you steam or saute it, then top it with breadcrumbs fried in butter. Extra points if you spike the crumbs with fresh garlic and lemon/lime juice and zest.

        But I agree, the OP’s squash is probably icky now.

    2. schnapps

      Yeah, if they’re large yellow squashes, they’re done. You could try putting them in the ground and see what happens next year, but I wouldn’t want to eat them now.
      Young yellow squashes are good – slice & dice, put in a bowl with olive oil, garlic and herbs of your choice, bake at 375 for 20 minutes. The skins soften right up.

  22. TMI

    [Alison, feel free to delete this if you’d rather it not discussed here]

    Has anyone ever been to a sex therapist? How did you find one? Was it helpful? I would not be looking for couples’ sex therapy, just for me (mid 20s, female).

    1. Christy

      I never have, but I just want to make sure you don’t feel unanswered. I’m very pro-therapy and so I’m happy you are considering if this type of therapy will help you. Good luck in your research!

      One tip–I assume that a sex therapist is like a regular therapist in that there are good matches and bad matches, and it’s very important to find a good match, and a bad match can be worse than no therapist at all, and it’s worth shopping around for a good one.

    2. Today's anon

      I have not but I have a friend who is a clinical psychologist and has an additional license or certification in sex therapy. She belongs to the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists so maybe that might be a place to find some names. There is also a Kink Aware Professionals (you can google that) network which includes therapists who are comfortable dealing with well, kinks :)

      Like Christy said, the most important thing is to find a good match and not being afraid to shopping around/interviewing people.

    3. Treena

      I haven’t been to one, but in general, it can be super helpful! Google the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health for general information and definitely use AASECT for finding a qualified professional. Good luck!

  23. Former Diet Coke Addict

    Some sad and frustrating news about my dad. He’s been doing beautifully with the chemo, really–a little tired and draggy, but not at all sick, has his appetite back, etc. He’s due for another full-body PET scan this week or next week, but his oncologist is saying that his cancer is probably too advanced to be cured. Realistically, we are looking at maintenance chemotherapy for some time, which will allow him to at least be somewhat active–maybe travel a bit, etc.–but we don’t have any sort of real answers, and there is basically no hope for a real cure.

    Complicating this is that due to visa and immigration issues I can’t go to the States to see him until my new paperwork comes through, which could be next week or could be next month. My husband is being deployed next month as well, and right now my in-laws are visiting for a week. I had to cancel a work trip thanks to my visa problems, one of my coworkers is interviewing for other jobs, and we’re trying to replace another coworker ASAP too. My brother-in-law is causing a huge firestorm of issues within his family as well, so no solace there!

    I’ve kind of reached the point of fatigue where I am so tired dealing with my own problems that I am simply maxed out on empathy. I’m being a distant/crappy friend because I don’t have the mental energy to expend on other people’s problems when I’m so drowned in my own issues. I keep telling myself that friendships and life are very long, and there will be time for me to give sympathy as well as receive it–that time is just not right now.

    1. fposte

      Oh, man, you are getting it from all sides, aren’t you?

      You’re completely right on the last sentence–it is okay for it to be your turn to take. And I think with good friends you can lay things out if they don’t already know, and they’ll either keep the support tide going one way for a while or back off and get their support elsewhere until you’re a little more sorted.

      Try to get enough sleep, move around, and eat reasonably sanely. There’s not much else you can control right now, and those will at least be ways for you to be kind to yourself.

    2. Not So NewReader

      Yep, the brain drain with this stuff is incredible. Do what you can as you can. Use the NO word when you know you should use it. Make sure you are eating some good foods and hydrating. It is amazing how prolonged sadness can pull nutrients right out of the body. In times like these, I never even cared IF I ate- so I grabbed that opportunity to choke down a salad or something else semi-healthy, since I had no desire for anything in particular.

      One thing I have found is that the people closest to me were not always the people who helped me the best. Look around sometimes you can find more support from people who are outside your circle of immediate family/friends, than you get from those inside the circle. I am not really clear on why that is- I just find that it is.

    3. Jean

      Coming here to reinforce that you’re not alone in being “simply maxed out on empathy” due to life events among the near and dear. At such times, yes, it’s hard to keep going! Strangely, I’ve found it comforting to be clear in my mind about my own wants and needs, even if I can’t always act on them immediately.

      +1 on wisdom from fposte and Not So NewReader re sleep, nutrition, and mild exercise. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re a stress eater or a stress-non-exerciser; just try to be good enough right now.

      Speaking of getting enough sleep…Going to go bed now.

  24. Steve G

    My SO really pissed me off today. We had a block party today in our street that there was no avoiding, as in there was a DJ right across from us. It was more for families and people with kids, but I still felt we should participate. And as the day wore on, I really liked the DJ – he went from the 50s to the 80s to the 90s, it was all really good. My SO lasted 2 minutes sitting in the front and then started a rant about how he felt awkward, we didn’t belong, why are we wasting time staring at people staring at us (I was like, seriously, have you not socialized before, where the heck is this coming from?). So to avoid the party the rest of the day, he started a bunch of in depth home projects related to our renovation. I felt like he just wanted to look busy. I thought we would have tried to at least meet some of our new neighbors that we haven’t met, but nope. He wants to be anti-social. I feel like we are on the border of anti-social and rude at this point, because not getting involved is basically saying to everyone “I live here but I don’t ever plan on getting to know you people.” Thank God it’s NYC and that sort of attitude is normal.

    1. fposte

      Did you stay at the party? I don’t think it’s fair if you had to leave too just because he wasn’t feeling it, but sometimes one member of the household handles the community side and that works okay. (But I do think that “seriously, have you not socialized before” was kind of funny :-).)

      1. Steve G

        I did leave too, because it was awkward sitting there alone in front (remember, all the houses here are only like 22 feet wide), when our neighbors had 30 relatives right there. It was like I was butting into their thing. I also think there is power in #s if you want to say hi to someone, you go in a pair, and bounce off of eachother, then one of you uses the other one as an excuse to move along.

    2. Aurora Leigh

      Just wanted to thank you for your comments on the political thread last week. Life happened and I didn’t get back till late, but I really appreciated you backing me up :)

      1. Steve G

        I am sure we will have more meaty issues next week, I wanted to digest the debate and see what happens with the Iran deal before I waste real estate this week on them. My general view of the debate (which we just finished) was that we are going to have lots of good serious candidates. But I have to say, the 5th Planned Parenthood video disgusted me, and we can’t use the “it was edited” excuse this week, because the PP personnel in those videos spoke at length is chunks.

    3. SociallyAwkward

      Maybe he suffers from social anxiety. We had a block party today too and attended but I felt uncomfortable and out of place. I don’t dislike any of our neighbors but I’m not good at approaching people to start a dialog but am more than happy to speak to anyone who approaches me. One person did approach us and we chatted with her for awhile. She talks to everyone though so she eventually moved on. I’m just not that confident. So after sitting by ourselves for awhile we decided to take off. I would like to have more friends but I find it hard to get close to people because I’ve been burned in the past. Maybe I’m too sensitive or something but the truth is I crave interaction but I don’t feel comfortable initiating it.

    4. AnotherFed

      I don’t think it’s rude to not want to hang out a block party with neighbors – the rant would have been rude if it was public, but otherwise, choosing to spend time elsewhere isn’t rude, it’s just a choice. It doesn’t sound like you had to leave the party because he left, just that he wanted to retreat to the fortress of solitude.

      To me, that party sounds like my idea of hell – I don’t like trying to socialize with loud noise (how can you tell what people are saying over the noise?), and if there weren’t any corners or edges to easily hang out in, I’d be irritated by dodging people and trying to eat at the same time (I’m assuming there’s food at this thing), and to top it all off, the partygoers are all the neighbors, not just a handful to meet and talk to and have a hope of remembering the names of later!

      1. Steve G

        Well I just hope no one noticed we were missing for the majority of the thing. What kind of made it hell was the fact that some people have huge families here, while others just moved to NY to do the moving-to-NYC thing. You’d have a family of 15-20 people sitting next to a house where only a single guy or a couple with no kids lives. That can be awkward! Not to mention that there are a lot of people who from what I gather don’t speak English enough to conversate, but rely on Spanish or Polish (or other languages, but mostly those 2), and the majority of those neighbors only mix with eachother, not with people outside of their ethnic groups. I know NPR would insist we are a melting pot, but that’s not really how it works. So the party looked more like a series of individual parties, not like one big one, which can be awkward if your neighbors avoid their other neighbors because they don’t share a language – and that really happens.

        1. AnotherFed

          Oh that’s even tougher with the language barriers! I don’t know how much English they speak, but my Polish relations in NYC do pretty well in a normal conversation. If they’re tired or there’s lots of noise or they just aren’t feeling it that day, it makes for some bizarre conversations, so I’d bet if they weren’t trying to make nice with family (my Polish vocabulary is mostly swear words and church responses) they’d just refuse to speak English at that point. It takes a long time of smiling and waving hello and small chit chat to overcome that if you aren’t starting as part of the group, but I don’t know of a faster way, or even another way.

          1. Steve G

            I’m trying I’m trying. I think that because most on my block are really right off the boat they just stick together, my neighbors 2 houses down started talking to me in Polish once and I said I wasn’t polish and now they ignore me! I speak Czech which is similar so I understand bits and pieces, but that makes it even harder for me in ways to learn polish….because it can feel like mispronouncing a Czech word, or using bad Czech grammar, or switching the word order around, and lots of words that sound the same but have different meanings….but that’s another story, but it does bother me a bit because I feel like I am 5 steps closer to talking with them because I kind of understand them when they talk amongst themselves, but I’m really not

        2. doreen

          Don’t worry about people noticing you weren’t there for the whole thing – they won’t really, as every NYC block party I’ve been involved in has people who don’t participate for various reasons. But they really are a number of individual parties sort of squished together in order to get the permit to close the street , hire a DJ , chip in for a bouncy house etc, etc. Generally, each household provides food for their own guests, Which also means it’s just fine to invite friends to what is basically a backyard party that takes place on the street – it’s not like it’s restricted to people who live on the block and their relatives. Sure, you socialize some with the neighbors, and you meet the ones you don’t already know but you mainly socialize with your own guests.

            1. doreen

              I figured it was different than what you were accustomed to – I’m friendly with my neighbors , but they’re not my actual friends. Hanging out for an hour in someone’s front yard is fine- socializing with them all day would be absolute hell.

    5. BuildMeUp

      It’s tough to have different social/crowd comfort levels than your partner! If the size of the crowd was the issue for him, maybe you could try inviting a few neighbors over for dinner, or to a neighborhood bar for drinks?

      Or it might work to have an agreement before the next party starts — you really want to mingle and have him with you, but he gets uncomfortable after a while, so maybe the two of you can agree to mingle for X amount of time, and then if he isn’t up to it after that, he’s off the hook and can go work on a project or get out of the neighborhood for a while.

  25. FD

    I’d love to have any insight on this!

    Starting to approach my 30s, and shifting to a desk job has had the affect it does on most people–i.e. I’ve gained more weight than I feel comfortable with or that feels right for my body. I’d like to loose around 25 – 30 lbs, which would bring me down to the weight I’ve been at for the rest of my adult life (what I think is probably my ‘normal’ weight for my body).

    My biggest problem is time. I struggle to have the time to make healthy meals and that tends to result in a one-two punch of getting fast food crap at work, and wanting to go home and eat after work instead of hitting the gym. My work schedule is not very forgiving–I normally work at least 50 hours a week, so trying to make the time to prepare complicated food isn’t very realistic.

    1. Cruciatus

      I can’t help with the meals part except to suggest those recipes where you prep one day of the week and then have everything you need as the week goes on and just need to toss into a skillet or oven for a bit. But when I started my desk job I made a point to get up every hour to walk down the hallway. We’re talking just 2-3 minute spurts of walking. Instead of standing at the copier–walk in place, etc. I was able to lose the few pounds I gained from when I started that job. You probably won’t lose 25 pounds just doing that, but you may lose whatever weight you have gained since you started (plus, for me anyway, getting away from my desk even for 2 minutes made me ready to tackle the next task–and I honestly think I was a more efficient employee).

      1. FD

        Yeah, I’m already up and down a huge amount for my job–I do leasing, so that means on a good day I’m doing showings, but it’s not enough when compared to my previous jobs which had me on my feet for the full 8-10 hours.

    2. A

      How averse are you to eating the same few things for a week at a time?

      I meal prep on one day of the week and pack it all up so I can grab it on my way out for lunch. Bake some chicken (or whatever protein have you), steam some veggies (ditto whatever veggies), throw some brown rice in the rice cooker (I can’t recommend these enough) or bake some sweet potatoes. Pack them into tupperware portioned out, grab one from the fridge and throw it in your bag.

      I also thrive on overnight oats. There are roughly eleventy-frillion recipes on the internet so there’s variety out there. You toss everything in a jar the night before, shake the everloving bewhosits out of it, leave it in the fridge and in the morning you have breakfast already made (if you don’t like cold oatmeal, zap it for a minute and it’s gold). I keep salad stuff and some pre-chopped protein around for light dinners with minimal effort, or throw together something healthy in the crock pot so it’s ready when I get there.

      I’ve actually dropped about 50lbs in the last year doing this as much as possible to keep my eating on track (with a workout, of course). Workout motivation will really vary by person but I found that finding workouts and tracking my stuff on social media (I used an app called BodySpace) really worked for me because I could connect with people who didn’t know me at all and would be encouraging but also (gently) call me out when I was being lazy because they didn’t feel the need to spare my feelings too much.

      1. FD

        I normally do cook ahead–it’s the packing for the day that seems to kick my butt! Like, I make a big batch of whatever on Sunday or so, and that does for my dinners, but the lunch/breakfast is what I’m having a harder time for.

        I suppose I could actually pack those ahead too–but I tend to be recovering on the weekend, and even making the dinners is genuinely hard for me.

        1. A

          That’s why I love crock pots. You do almost nothing. And rice cookers are mostly automatic too, added to which you can get models with a steamer so you can do your rice and your veggies at the same time. Put your protein in the crock pot and you have automated (if spectacularly unvaried) cooking done. You’ll just have to portion and pack.

          That said, at some point you have to actually make yourself get up and do it. Period. Nothing gets done unless you do it, and there’s no trick for that except just getting off the couch and diving in. The more you make yourself do it, the more routine it will be. When you start eating better you’ll have more sustainable energy, which will help.

        2. AnotherFed

          For breakfast, can you try something like granola bars or protein bars? They aren’t perfect, but they are so easy and they are definitely better than baked goods or fast food. I find the protein bars don’t taste as good but mean I’m not hungry until it’s actually lunch time.

          Another thing that helps me is the water enhancers – lots of times I can stop myself from a trip to the vending machine for soda or candy by walking down to the water fountain, filling a water bottle, and using the water enhancers to make it taste more interesting than just water.

        3. Today's anon

          I don’t know if you can do this where you are but I’ve scoped out a healthy salad bar not far from where I work and while I don’t want to do this everyday it’s nice to know I have a healthy option and sometimes it makes a change from my own food.

        4. TootsNYC

          My husband pre-packages lunches–he’ll cook dinner and deliberately make leftovers. Then he packages everything in one-person servings (he calls them “happy meals,” with all the parts in a single container).

          Then when he needed to “pack my lunch,” it was “open fridge and grab lunch, open freezer to grab ice pack, stick in lunch bag, go!”

          I think you can find ways to have healthy lunches without spending as much time during the busy part of the day. But you need to make it a priority.

          And account for a learning curve.

          A is right” The more you make yourself do it, the more routine is will be.”

        5. E

          I just made a double batch of pancakes and cooked up a package of bacon, so this week I’ll have easy reheatable breakfasts all week long, with a glass of OJ or milk. Same idea for lunch, except I buy easy to prep stuff like chips and salsa, sandwich makings, or nibbles like cheese/meat/rolls. I try to pack these in individual size packages and make them easy to grab in the morning.

      2. FD

        I also like the overnights oats idea–I’ll give that a try.

        Do you have any recommendations on storing salad stuff? I always find that lettuce / spinach seems to get gross and limp before I’m finished with a bag/box of it.

        1. Not So NewReader

          Use glass containers in the fridge then pack them into travel portions as needed. I find my glass containers make stuff last longer.
          Also watch the expiration dates on pre-made salads at the store. You can probably find a different date at the back that buys you more time.
          When picking out veggies that do not have dates on them, take from the back of the display- those were probably put out most recently.

          1. FD

            Oooooh, OK, I’ll try glass containers. It just makes me CRAZY to buy a bag of lettuce and have it go icky on me by the end of the week. I’m only one person, I can’t eat it that fast!

            1. schnapps

              Ok, so they cram so much lettuce, etc into the bag, it gets icky after a couple of days. Separate it out into containers or zipper bags, and its fine for longer.

            2. Ask a Manager Post author

              When you bring the lettuce home from the store, wash it, dry it really well, and store it in a plastic zip-lock lined with paper towels. The paper towels will absorb moisture and keep it fresh MUCH longer.

              Also, if you want to cheat a little, sometimes you can just stick paper towels in the bag it came home from the store in and not bother with the rest of the process. It still works pretty well.

              1. nep

                Yes — putting some paper towel into the zip-lock bag with greens makes all the difference. Great tip.

                1. Trixie

                  I’ll usually add paper towels to bags of prewashed greens, clip, and store upside down so it’s easier for the moisture to drop down to the paper towel.

        2. A

          Yes!! I’ve been waiting to brag about these things for like a month! There are these little racks you can get to go in the bottom of your tupperware containers that will keep the moisture in the bottom of the tupperware and off your lettuce (I don’t use spinach personally so I can’t say if it will work as well, but it’s worth a shot). I found it at Target, but can’t remember what they actually called it. Rinse and briefly soak your lettuce in icy cold water, then put it in a salad spinner to dry it off really well. Pop your rack thing in the bottom of your container, pile the lettuce in, put it in the fridge. I’ve had it last for two weeks without getting too brown. I wash as whole leaves, but cut up before spinning/storing.

            1. A

              I also don’t buy bags of lettuce, though. I buy the whole head and cut it up myself, because it works out costing less in my area and budget is a concern for me. Since I just realized you buy bagged salad mix, adjust accordingly (no cutting required), of course.

              1. fposte

                I haven’t bought her salad mix, but if it’s in your budget and available, Organic Girl brand baby spinach is amazing–it’s prewashed and beautifully dried, so it lasts *really* well for greens–like well over a week. And I actually prefer baby spinach to a lot of salad greens anyway, so that works for me.

        3. TootsNYC

          Tupperware makes a celery keeper and lettuce keeper that work nicely–basically, a grid holds the veggies/lettuce up off the bottom of the container, and a few drops of moisture in the bottom of the container keep it moist.

          I saw something very similar at Bed Bath & Beyond yesterday.

          Of course, the ideal would be to pack your lunch either on Sunday night or at the very least, the night before. And the bigger container will work for the long haul, but you’ll still want to “decant” it at some point into a smaller container.

        4. ActCasual

          I get the romaine hearts, 3 to a bag. Typically I buy two bags and they seem to keep forever without having to do anything to them. I don’t chop them up until I’m ready to put them in my salad, and all that entails is cutting off the bottom, running water through the heart, chop, make salad, turn the whole container upside down to drain, and voila!

    3. NicoleK

      For me, if my intention is to exercise regularly, I tend to stick with it if I exercise in the morning before work. As for food, I’ll grocery shop on the weekends and plan out my meals on Sunday night. I’ll cut up veggies, make salads, and etc the night before. I also try to buy more produce and have it available. Sometimes when there is a sale, I’ll purchase several Lean Cuisine or Weight Watchers entrees. In a pinch, I’ll grab a frozen entree to bring to work.

      1. FD

        The idea of having a few frozen backups is a really good one!

        I’ve found that I just don’t go to the gym in the mornings. I enjoy going in the afternoons–IF I’m not too hungry because I skipped lunch or ate fast crap that doesn’t fill up for a long period of time.

        1. nep

          Just keep in mind getting in a good workout does not require going to a gym. Sure, for some it’s the best option and the one that will get them exercising…But there are countless effective exercises/workouts one can do anywhere.

        2. Kate R. Pillar

          Seconding nep! For me, it clicked when I started to set up enjoyable exercise opportunities at home. Most importantly a small stepper with a laptop in front at the right height. I am only allowed to watch “Call the Midwife” on this machine, while stepping. To my surprise, I usually stick it out for the full episode and work up a nice sweat. I do this about once a week now which is more than I ever could bring myself to do before – and find I’m actually looking forward to it!
          For when I finish the season, there is already a French series in the queue – I will be exercising and practicing my language skills at the same time!
          Also, the ten-minute evening yoga on the Yogaworks “Basics” DVD is really relaxing, I find.

          1. Kate R. Pillar

            Just to clarify: The stepper and laptop are separate.
            And I see that blackcat already had a similar suggestion below.

      2. blackcat

        If you like afternoon exercise but struggle to find the energy to go to the gym, have you considered buying a small exercise bike? It’s not the cheapest solution (mine was like $150 at play it again sports), and it does take up some space. But I wouldn’t exercise in the winter months without it, because it takes so little energy to start it. Plus, it’s in my living room, so on days that I don’t ride it or go for a run, I feel like it’s sitting there judging me. You can even start something cooking that takes a little while (like reheating something in the oven) and ride the bike until food is done.

    4. katamia

      I know a lot of people who batch-cook on the weekends. That might be something to try so you don’t have to do it every day–you can just heat up something instead of having to go through all the steps of cooking every night. Also, if your finances allow it, maybe try buying pre-cut vegetables to cook with rather than ones you have to chop yourself to save a step or several. Chopping veggies is by far the most time-consuming part of cooking for me, although I’m not sure how universal that is.

      You could also try bringing snacks to work (baggies of nuts, apple slices, whatever works for your dietary needs) to take the edge off and limit your fast food intake. Again, there are pre-chopped fruits (which are also nice if, like me, sometimes you really want honeydew but you know there’s no way you can eat a whole one before it goes bad).

      As far as the gym goes, is there a place for you to change into gym clothes at work instead of changing at the gym? Sometimes I find that if I start something (getting dressed for the gym, cleaning one small thing at home, etc.) then I have to do the rest of it or else I get annoyed by “wasting” the time I spent changing into gym clothes/starting to clean a room.

      1. FD

        I like the idea of having extra pre-cut snacks stored at work. Even though the price annoys me–frankly, it’s more practical to have healthy food on hand than to have healthy food in the fridge at home doing me no good at all.

        The gym itself is fine–I store my bag in the car with two sets of clothes (so that I always have one clean set in there). My issue with the gym is only when I’m too hungry from not having had lunch/breakfast, and I know that if I go home first to get something, I just won’t go back out.

        1. GOG11

          I really struggle with not eating if I don’t have healthy foods to eat (like, if I don’t have something healthy available, I just won’t eat). And that definitely impacts my ability to work out, but I’ve started getting some convenience foods like belvita breakfast cookies and boost drinks/drink mixes. It’s not so much that I have eaten too much to be able to work out, but it’s enough to tide me over so I can function. If those are available where you are, and if you like them, maybe those could be options.

    5. schnapps

      how about preparing and packing breakfasts and lunches?
      – cook a batch of oatmeal on the weekends, divide into 1/2C or 1C portions
      – hardboiled eggs (cook 10 or a dozen on the weekend – put cold eggs in cold water, bring to a rolling boil, remove from heat, cover for 10 minutes, shock to cool – perfect hard boiled eggs). Put them in groups of 2 in baggies or containers
      – bagged salads (costco is your friend for this but avoid the dressings – they’re usually high in sugar and/or fat)
      – get a food processor. Use the slicing blade to slice up your veggies for the week.
      – invest in (small) fruit: small apples, oranges. Things like grapes and berries: portion them out into 1C portions on the weekend and store them in your fridge. Add in some greek yogurt and it’s a grab ‘n go breakfast.
      -If you have numerous lunch boxes/bags, put them in there with the other stuff and it’s grab ‘n go.
      – things to google: mason jar salads, overnight oats, crockpot freezer recipes.

      (if you don’t have a crockpot, you need one, possibly two)

      You have a lunch break? Exercise video on your tablet/laptop in a private vacant office – bring an exercise mat and towel. Keep weights in a fabric bag in a desk drawer. Or meditate.

    6. Steve G

      Well I can’t give comprehensive advice, but one thing I discovered lately and like (and are healthy) are the Green Giant frozen vegetable medlies, which are lightly sauced – they have the antioxidant veggie mix, the Asian vegetable mix, the healthly weight mix. They defrost quick. You’ll find them in the frozen aisle in green 4×6″ boxes.

    7. nep

      Do you make smoothies at all? You can pack a lot of nutrient-rich foods into a smoothie — it is a great option for breakfast or lunch, or a snack. (You’ll avoid the problem of wilting spinach — throw it all in the smoothie before it has time to go limp. The more fresh greens the better for you.)
      Someone mentioned granola bars — just be careful and look at labels; some are quite high in sugar. If you’ve got a food processor you could make your own energy/protein bars in minutes.
      Drink lots of water.
      Last thought: Fruit is fast food.

    8. Ms Information

      Great suggestions in this thread and really great that you want to get on this while you’ re young. You have a “lot” of work life ahead and even small amounts of weight gain will add up. Think 3 lbs per year times 20 years !!

      I’d recommend being careful about portion sizes and too much sitting at work and home. Caroline Arnold’s book Small Moves, Big Change is really inspirational and figuring out your microresolutions are fun. The weight sneaks up and we can sneak right back at it!

      1. FD

        This is a good point about sitting at home. I’m relatively mobile for an office dweller at work, but I sit on my butt pretty much all evening once I get home, to be honest.

    9. Artemesia

      I find it works best if I figure out how to put exercise into my schedule naturally e.g. walk up stairs several times a day rather than taking the elevator; run errands on foot if possible instead of using the car; I keep two 5 pound weights on a chair in the dining room next to our kitchen and while I am waiting for the microwave or my coffee to drip or whatever I do my weight routines. In two minutes you can run through a couple of sets. When I watch TV I might use the weights. When I do laundry I spend the half hour that it is running in the washer on the recumbent bike in our gym. Then I put stuff in the dryer and return to the apartment. Look around for cheats like this where you can easily and seamlessly work bits of exercise into your normal day.

      And for food you have to come to grips with what you will actually eat, make sure high calories snack foods are not in your kitchen (no oreo or chocolate bar is safe from me for long) and stock things that are very very easy to do. e.g. last night we had hit the market and were going to a music event and so I just did caprese salad with the tomatoes I had picked up at the market and basil we have growing and mozarella I keep in the refrigerator during tomato season and also did a cataloupe/ham thing — like prosciutto melone.

      Buy those roast chickens at the supermarket and you can get several days of chicken to add to salads, or eat as is for high protein low fat. (you can just pull off the skin) Have cold cuts — we always have sliced ham — on hand and tuna for a quick tuna salad,mixed with tomato it is fairly low cal. And make up dishes on the weekends you can heat up during the week. Spaghetti with meat sauce is fairly low call and reheats fairly well a couple of days later.

      If time is a crunch then easy should inform your shopping so you always have easy things to make that you will eat. An omelet with tomato and cheese, quick pasta, sliced cold meats with salad. etc.

      I have carved off 3 pounds with a goal of 8 by Sept 12 so far in the last two weeks doing this. My husband took off 30 pounds with exercise and reducing calories about 30 years ago and has kept it off. He hits the gym for an hour every morning though, which I am not likely to do.

    10. Lore

      I had a similar situation in my 40s. Here’s what I did to successfully lose about 25 lbs (and keep 20 of them off for about 18 more months)– I need to get more diligent to get the last 5 back off! 1) set exercise goals for the week. I can portion it out however I like but I track it. Usually it involves taking the stairs to the 8th floor at work, a walk of at least 1/2 mile, and half an hour on the exercise bike till it broke then a small stepper. I’m more disciplined if I do it first thing in the morning but only if I have the equipment at home 2) keep healthy snacks for dinner when I just can’t cook–lots of fruit, hummus, veggies and lowfat dips. 3) eat salad or a light lunch. Even if that means buying lunch more. Our cafeteria tends toward heavy food and those lunches were a big contributor to the weight gain. I’m a big fan of chopped salads–they keep better than lettuce!

    11. Teacher Recruiter

      I lost 25-30 pounds several years ago, and up until this year had kept it all off (about 6-8 pounds have crept back that I’ve just gotten serious about getting rid of). I came on here to say that if you don’t cook at all (like me), you should look into some of the “fast food” healthy places in your area. I live in one of the largest cities in the US so I have no idea if things like this exist where you are, but I absolutely love places like My Fit Foods and Snap Kitchen. Both allow me to calorie count and get healthy meals but still not have to cook! Win-win!

    12. Lemon

      In addition to the good suggestions above, there’s a lot you can do just in terms of the choices you make when grocery shopping. (Make sure you’re going grocery shopping at least once a week!) Basically, you make sure you always have something on hand that can be eaten immediately or with only a tiny bit of prep. For instance, giving myself permission to buy pre-cut fruit and vegetables (even though they’re more expensive) means I’ll eat more of those, since they don’t require any work. Nuts are a fantastic snack for weight loss, in my experience. (Can you take a whole bag to work and keep them at your desk, then pour a portion when you need?) Also: rotisserie chicken, healthy frozen foods (love Whole Foods’ selection), peanut butter on a slice of toast, precooked chicken or turkey sausages, canned tuna, and yogurt (I get plain Greek yogurt and then add a tiny bit of honey, or berries, or a bit of granola). Eggs are great too, since they only take a couple minutes to cook.

    13. notfunny.

      I found that tracking calories using my fitness pal really helped, and when I started to do that I also began bringing lunch all the time. For breakfast, I eat yogurt at work. For lunch, I bring a salad with some grains and protein in it, and then dinner is kind of dependent on whatever is around. Healthy snacks are key too – fruit is great.

  26. AvonLady Barksdale

    As I said above, we had a lovely vacation! It was thanks in part to the great advice I got on this board– thank you all! My boyfriend asked me why we didn’t stay in Digby, and I said, “The Managers [which is what I call you guys] said it’s not worth it AT ALL.” You were sooooo right. Nice to visit for about an hour, but we were much better off in Wolfville.

    Highlights:
    – Halifax– great city! We ended up nixing our lazy Friday drive plans to go straight across NS and back to Halifax, where we had great beer and good wine and delicious smoked salmon
    – Annapolis Royal– SO BEAUTIFUL
    – At least one winery, Avondale Sky, where we tasted and ate and bought 4 bottles
    – The exchange rate right now (!!!)
    – The Jewish Museum in Saint John, which is teeny tiny and really amazing

    Lowlights:
    – We’re not partiers, so we don’t need to do a lot of evening stuff, but boy, was it hard to find a good cocktail in the Maritimes
    – The best Indian food in the Maritimes… wasn’t
    – I am spoiled rotten by Southern hospitality and friendliness, so some of the coolness of the Maritimes was a bit of an adjustment

    Now we are home and our wine is chilling and we get our buddy tomorrow! A lovely trip with lovely memories.

    1. hermit crab

      This sounds fantastic! I’ve always wanted to go to the Maritimes and I’ve basically been planning a hypothetical future vacation based on all your posts. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        DO IT. The weather was so beautiful, and there are so many great little places to see. And I apparently didn’t realize just how happy an ecological phenomenon could make a man– I have never seen my boyfriend happier than when we went back to see high tide at the same spot where we saw low a few hours earlier.

    2. Ms Information

      Haha – by the rest of Canada Maritimers – or “down homers” – are seen as very warm and friendly! I can see that compared to Southern US expression though, they would seem cooler.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale

        It was so weird to us– we completely didn’t expect it! Most of the people we encountered were perfectly polite, they just weren’t hospitable, if that makes sense. In some places we had lovely, warm service, in others… not so much. The weirdest thing was that in some towns, I would ask questions and people would look at me like I had two heads. We had a very frustrating encounter in Digby where all I wanted to do was eat scallops, and the people we spoke to (who were set up at an information booth for the scallop festival) couldn’t quite figure out how to tell me where to go. “Oh, just go to Ed’s. Ed’s is good.” “OK, where’s Ed’s?” “Up that hill.” We passed Ed’s on our way out of town– it was about 5km away. :)

        Some parts of Nova Scotia are really not used to tourists, and they were definitely not used to US tourists. Lots of people were downright shocked that we were even there! This didn’t make our experience bad by any means, I just found it surprising.

        1. Elizabeth West

          LOL that happens in London. People say vaguely, “Oh it’s a couple of blocks that way.” Well their directions are correct, but their idea of a couple of blocks and mine differ vastly. It would be more accurate to say, “Walk that way for forty minutes and it’s on your right.” I’m convinced Londoners have legs made of iron and feet of titanium. >_<

  27. Jean

    It can be really frustrating to be the more outgoing person in the couple. The good news is that it’s still possible to get to know people, and they you, under these circumstances. It helps to be able to comfortably attend events solo and calmly state–without sounding negative or oversharing private information–that one came alone to XYZ experience because SO is an introvert / shy / not into large gatherings. And hey, how about those framed pictures, or the finger foods, or the soprano’s solo in the second act?

    1. Nonny Mouse

      It can also be really frustrating to be the less outgoing person in the couple. People are always acting like you’re a killjoy, calling you antisocial, ribbing you in ways that they think are funny but are DEFINITELY not, and constantly being prodded by your SO to “just go, oh my gosh, it’s not going to kill you.”

      1. Jean

        Thanks for the other perspective. It’s so true that sometimes, depending on individual traits, “just going” might indeed feel fatal. (This reminds me of a passage in Jean Plaidy’s children’s book Dear Enemyin which the narrator muses that it may seem reasonable to encourage people to eat bananas, but because she herself hates eating bananas, why should she insist that others eat them?)

        Re accepting oneself–and other people–unfiltered, The New York Times web site currently has a wonderful piece about aging and acceptance. (Browning, Dominique, “I’m Too Old for This,” The New York Times, August 8, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/09/fashion/im-too-old-for-this.html )

        The paragraph I reference begins with “But I am too old to try to change people.” Please note, however, that I’m not trying to fragment anyone’s attention span! The entire essay is well-written and worth reading. Despite the serious topic, it’s a relaxing read.

        Ahem. Time to take this blog’s advice and go. to. bed. already!

        1. Artemesia

          As an old person, I really thought this was a nice piece. Too bad by the time we attain wisdom, it is too late to do us all that much good. How I wish I had known what I know now when I began my career.

  28. not all about the $$$

    Has anyone here tried acupuncture? I’m thinking about it to help with some health-related issues (difficulty losing weight/stress, etc).

    Don’t worry – I’m still seeing doctors/specialists and following the recommended treatment they’ve prescribed – just curious to check out other forms of treatment. Thanks!

    1. FD

      While I personally haven’t tried it, I do know some friends who have had some success with it in regards to stress and pain relief!

      My understanding is that the general scientific idea behind it is that a small bit of localized pain and/or electrical shock tells the brain to send out some endorphins, as they would when you’re injured. But since it’s just a tiny poke, the endorphins can help with stress and/or other areas of pain.

      I think the biggest thing I’ve heard is that it’s very, very important to pick a reputable practitioner. There are many good ones, but also a lot of bad ones.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Definitely ask around for references. And ask why the person likes that practitioner. If you ask why you get some information that might be useful.

        My husband had acupuncture. All though I am fan of alternative modalities, I don’t think that acupuncture helps when a person has severe problems. Your problems do not sound life-threatening, so you might get some benefit.

        My dog gets acupuncture. It does not phase him, matter of fact he seems to want it. The chiropractor uses tiny needles on him, she explained that with that size needle hurts less than a mosquito bite.

        I have used acupuncture for minor pain and I was pleased with the results. That was just random experiences though, I have never gotten into a program and followed it.

        When you do find a practitioner tell her what your goals are. Ask her how she can help. See if she can give you some idea of time frame, how many visits people usually have to make. (yours may be more or less, she won’t be able to give you an exact number) Ask her about any restrictions. For example, after a particular session you might be told to go home and drink plenty of water. You’d want to know this if you were planning on returning to work instead.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          I don’t think that acupuncture helps when a person has severe problems

          I saw an acupuncturist for a year… until it turned out that what was plaguing me was an undiagnosed sinus infection. Acupuncture cannot replace antibiotics, go figure eh? I can’t really say if it helped or not. I hate needles and was able to stand it. Whether or not I’d do it again would depend on what I was looking for. Someone I worked with developed sciatica, took acupuncture to treat it and it worked. I think that if I had some sort of nerve condition like that, I would give it another try. You might want to try someone who has studied Chinese medicine, and acupuncture might be part of the treatment plan, along with special herbs and teas as a way to regain overall health, not just on losing weight.

        2. blackcat

          The only time it can help severe stuff is with nervous system problems (and FIND A REPUTABLE PERSON!!!!!). I had a pretty severely pinched spinal column and acupuncture was a last resort before surgery. The person I saw was trained in China (as a young boy, he did the traditional apprentice thing) and an MD (went to US medical school). He told me he would permanently change the way that the nerves in that area of my back work… and I 100% believe that that’s what he did. It was a long treatment, but it was truly amazing. I also liked that doctor because he took the attitude of “We don’t know why this works, but it does. Here’s what we know about how this acts on the nervous system.” as opposed to a US trained practitioner who was all into new age mumbo jumbo about my body’s energy. The second guy still helped the injury I was going for (if practitioner knows what they’re doing, acupuncture is excellent for treating inflammation), but I wasn’t inclined to go back again.

          YMMV. There’s a huge range of types of practitioners who believe a whole bunch of different things. But there is clearly science behind using it to treat problems arising from the nervous system and inflammation (this is why it’s entered the main stream veterinary medical world–our animals don’t get a placebo effect, so we know it really helps them). For many other types of problems, it may be entirely a placebo effect.

          1. Fantasma

            Like blackcat, I’ve gotten acupuncture before from a reputable practitioner trained in China. I was skeptical at first, but the first time I went, after the treatment was done, it was the first time in years that my knee didn’t hurt and make crackling sounds. My mom went for arthritis and nerve pain, and it helped her quite a bit (no longer cringing whenever something accidentally came in contact with her hand).

            The treatment may be supplemented by herbs (when I’ve gone for allergies and related headaches) and practical advice — recommendations for simple exercises, reminders to take stretch breaks and get more sleep, etc.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.

      I’ve never done it, but I had a professor that went on his mission right after college (I think it was in Korea), and had been plagued by a bad knee for years. One of his partners during the mission convinced him, over the course of a couple weeks, to try acupuncture for it. He went into the appointment certain it wouldn’t work, but wanting to get this colleague off his back. He went once and never experienced pain in that knee again. YMMV, obvs, but this prof never gave me reason to doubt the truth of the story.

    3. Sunshine Brite

      I forget what my sister in law’s certifications are but she told me some dangers of people branching out without the right training. Like chiropractors was one that jumped out. Make sure they have an acupuncture specific training certification.

    4. JPixel

      A little late to the party – but I did acupuncture for migraines and it was a HUGE help. Other friends have gone for digestive issues and pregnancy issues with success. I agree with the other posters that it’s important to find someone reputable. My regular doctor actually referred me to her acupuncturist, which made me feel more comfortable with the idea of going. My acupuncturist is also an MD. For me, it’s a bit pricey ($75 a session but then my insurance will partially reimburse me once I have hit a certain spending limit) but so are other types of medical treatments and prescriptions! It’s not going to heal a broken leg, but it works wonders for a lot of different ailments.

  29. FD

    Sorry to spam–Alison, feel free to delete if it’s overkill–but fiance and I have decided on a road trip across Canada for our honeymoon around September 2016. We plan to take 3 weeks (!!).

    All we know for sure is that we’ll fly out to Boston and drive up the coast to Prince Edward Island.

    After that, it’s an open book–any recommendations for must sees?

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      This is the place to ask that question! I just got back (uh… 3 hours ago) from a week in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and I got lots of great recs from AAM-ers. We REALLY want to go to PEI, just didn’t have time on this trip. Go to Campobello and have “tea with Eleanor Roosevelt”.

      I imagine you wouldn’t want to “double back” and drive across Nova Scotia, though it is freaking gorgeous up there. :)

    2. katamia

      Quebec City is lovely. I’d highly recommend stopping there for a bit. You might run into some slight issues if neither you nor your fiance speaks French (I’m honestly not sure because I do and so does the person I went with, although sometimes when we didn’t know a word we had to resort to English and people seemed to get what we were saying fine), but it’s a really nice city with lots of street performers and cool stuff to see just by walking around.

      Also Montreal is nice, although I haven’t spent as much time there.

      1. FD

        I took about five years of it (two in middle, and three in high school), but it’s rusty to the point of uselessness.

        Sounds good, though, have to check that out!

    3. Colette

      How far across do you plan to go? Keep in mind that just driving will take a lot of days if you want to make it out to Vancouver.

      What kind of things do you like to do /see?

      1. Dynamic Beige

        Oh yeah. I’ve never done it, but it’s a long haul. I’ve heard that it’s a spectacular drive out west through the plains (the highway above the trans-Canada is supposed to have nicer scenery from what I’ve been told) and into the mountains.

        You’re going to have to really decide on what you want to see or do because if it takes 2 weeks to drive to see Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, it’s going to take about the same amount of time to drive back.

        Going around the Great Lakes is apparently A Thing people do, but you could make Niagara Falls your destination and then head back through the States, only going around Lake Ontario. That would take you through a lot of places, including Toronto (or a side trip up to Ottawa if capitals are your thing). There’s a very nice little tourist town called Niagara-on-the-lake which isn’t like Niagara Falls (casinos, Ripley’s Believe it or Not) at all. It’s wine country down there and there are lots of vineyards that offer tours. You can book tickets on buses that will take you around to the wineries so you don’t have to worry about tasting and driving.

        If you’re flying out to Boston, where are you flying from? And why Boston?

        1. FD

          We live in Minnesota.

          We’ve heard that the drive between Boston and up the coast is absolutely beautiful in the fall.

          Although that does mean we’d have to rent a car, now that I’m typing it, which I’m not sure we want to do, so maybe it’d make more sense to break north starting from MN.

      2. FD

        We live in Minnesota, so we’d like to make it at least back there. If we ended up going all the way across the country, we’d just plan to fly back, I think.

        We like the traditional attractions (museums, parks, zoos), but we also like seeing things that are a bit off the beaten trail.

        I’d particularly like to see some beautiful natural sights–part of the reason for going in the fall. She’d particularly be interested in seeing something dinosaur related.

        1. Dynamic Beige

          Hmm… all the dinosaur related stuff is in Alberta. But northern Ontario in the fall is also very pretty with the leaves changing colours. I’ve never been out west in the fall so I can’t speak about what that’s like. I do think, though, that you could fly into Calgary, rent a car and spend 3 weeks just going around and seeing the sites there. Whether it’s the dinosaur related stuff, or up to Banff (they have hot springs!) and Jasper for the spectacular scenery. Because I also think you could fly to Boston, rent a car and spend three weeks just touring the New England states — changing leaves, maple syrup, lots of historical sites (but no dinosaurs), bed and breakfasts. To be honest, I can’t see you doing both easily in a car and having it be a relaxing vacation at the same time, it’s a lot of driving.

        2. Colette

          PEI is beautiful. I really liked Charlottetown, and Cavendish is the centre for Anne of Green Gables, if either of you are into that. I’ve heard Cape Breton in Nova Scotia is amazing, but I’ve never been to Nova Scotia.

          I suspect Quebec is your best bed for fall foliage. There are also whale watching trips on the St. Lawrence, East of Quebec City. Quebec City is definitely with a visit – the old city is amazing.

          Montreal is nice, but if you have to choose, go with Quebec City.

          Ottawa is 2 hours from Montreal (5 from QC), and it has a lot of museums as well as the Parliament buildings. I like the parliament tour, and the history and nature museums are good. There’s also a war museum, the mint, and the national gallery.

          Kingston is on the way to Toronto – it’s a nice city on the St. Lawrence. Then there’s Toronto (the new aquarium is nice) and Niagara Falls is worth seeing.

          Then you have the rest of Ontario and the prairies. That’s a lot of distance, with not many attractions. You could possibly take the train from Toronto to Calgary -you’d see some of the scenery but it would only take a couple of days instead of four. From Calgary, you could see the Rockies and go to Drumheller, which has dinosaur stuff.

    4. Former Diet Coke Addict

      Hooray! I’ve done this! In parts, but still!

      If you’re driving up the East Coast, you may as well go all the way up Nova Scotia and drive the Cabot Trail, famous as one of the most gorgeous drives in the world. Circle around and then dip down to PEI, but you can realistically cover PEI in a day or two. There are some beautiful sights and beaches, though. Return to New Brunswick and drive through the valley up to Gaspe in Quebec and stop in Quebec City, the road there hugs the St Lawrence and is another exceptionally lovely drive and occasionally you can spot whales playing.

      Stop in Quebec and Montreal or Ottawa to see the capital sights, and then you have two options to cross that part of Ontario. The 401 is the new superhighway that goes fast and isn’t too scenic (though at several points around Kingston and Darlington there’s a beautiful lake view) or you can take the old Highway 7 across to about Sault Ste Marie. Stop in Muskoka or Owen Sound for most really lovely sights. The drive up around north of Lake Superior is outstanding with beautiful mountains and lakes every way you look! It is pretty rural, though.

      After that I wasn’t as keen on the drive across the prairies but it’s pretty majestic if you’re into immense fields of waving wheat and grain elevators and all that, which is pretty imposing. The fields of sunflowers in bloom were unbelievable. Then once you get to Alberta the scenery starts to really write its own story again and then bam, you’re in Vancouver before you know it! I could go on at LENGTH about any part of this drive.

    5. Mephyle

      If you end up getting as far as Southern Ontario, these are my suggestions.
      I am originally from Southern Ontario, and it wasn’t until I returned as an expat that I discovered some delightful small-scale, less-known sites to visit.
      • Pauline Johnson’s home in Chiefswood. We were the only people there, so we ended up getting a private tour.
      • Alexander Graham Bell’s childhood home, the Bell Homestead (Melville House), in Brantford; ditto.
      • HMCS Haida in Hamilton.
      • Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton.
      • 1000 Island boat ride, near Kingston.
      • Niagara Wine Country; there are several dozen wineries available for touring.
      And one that I haven’t gotten to, but is on my to-visit list. In case you are interested in the history of the African diaspora: the Buxton Museum in North Buxton.

      And if you stay in Eastern Canada, my one recommendation for something to include is to go see the tides at St. Andrews.

  30. FutureLibrarian

    If this isn’t too personal, where do people on here live (feel free to give the nearest major city or other non – identifying area)?

    I am job hunting now, and want to move out of my current state (NY), but the jobs are all over the place. So, I’m hoping people won’t mind sharing where they live, and why they love it or hate it (or both)?

    1. NicoleK

      Minnesota (metropolitan area)
      Love: medium cost of living area, progressive state, state typically ranks pretty high in quality of life indicators, plenty of things to do, decent job market for my field
      Hate: harsh winters, road construction (spring through fall), very short spring and summer season, and state is in the middle of the country so traveling overseas is always expensive

      1. FD

        +1

        Also, in the southeastern sector, especially Minnesota–the market is amazing for job hunters right now as the Minnesota section of Mayo Clinic is expanding and bringing in a lot of development.

      2. Kristen

        Yay, Minnesota too (Twin Cities)! I really like the seasons here. Sure, the winters are difficult, but it makes spring and summer even more welcome. There’s actually been some news (is that news?) lately about how uncomfortable our climate is (due to the extremes in summer and winter). If you like the outdoors, there’s a lot to see. There’s also a lot of museums and theaters if that’s more your thing. I’m from here, so I’m pretty biased, but I love it. I have heard criticism that people from here aren’t as friendly as we say we are, and that we’re actually pretty closed-off to newcomers. I’ve known many people from outside of Minnesota, and that’s not a complaint I hear from them as they seem to acclimate themselves pretty well and make plenty of friends.

        1. FD

          I feel like the weather thing is rather like having a news story on water being wet.

          We complain about the weather 99.9% of the time–but if the weather turned nice, what on earth would we do for small talk?

        2. Sunshine Brite

          Also, lot of bike paths and walking trails. It’s a bike friendly in the Twin Cities which annoys me a bit as a majority car driver because many don’t follow traffic rules but it’s really convenient if you like to bike commute.

          1. Sunshine Brite

            I’m also from rural southern MN and there’s a lot of gossip in the small towns, like most small towns I’m sure, but a lot of opportunity to own property and be involved with community.

          2. FD

            As a former bike commuter, it annoys me too! It gives the rest of us a bad name, how many bikers are idiots who don’t obey traffic rules.

        3. Persehone Mulberry

          I think Minnesotans tend to be somewhat insular by nature in that we don’t default to acquaintanceship by proximity. I’ve lived in various parts of the metro my entire life and never had a neighborhood that did block parties or neighborhood barecues or even the “hang out in front of your garage” thing someone talked about further down.

    2. Lizzie

      I live in Florida currently. I can’t say that I *love* it … we moved here when I was in high school and I stayed through college because in-state tuition was a thing. I continue to be here because my work is here and I feel like I’m doing a lot of good and enjoy it, warts and all, but if the work were elsewhere that’s where I’d be.

      That said, the job market is horrific here unless you’re in hospitality/tourism. Bleh.

      1. The IT Manager

        I think you need to decide what you like to and determine if there’s places that you can do it better than others. For example, I lived in Tampa and I enjoyed it, but didn’t love it. I am not a beach person so I went to the beach probably less than once a year. If you are a beach or water liver there’s some places that won’t allow that.

        I’ve now moved to where family is – New Orleans and again its not a perfect fit because I am not a drinker, party-er, music lover, Mardi Gras parade watcher but I managing to find some things I do like to do around here.

        Personally though I think I’d prefer being outlets with mountains, hiking, mountain biking, snowboarding and low humidity.

      2. Florida

        Also live in Florida. Our weather is great in the winter, but it sucks in the summer. But we know how to air condition. It is extremely rare to find any building in Florida without a very good air-conditioner.

        If you like the water, we’ve got plenty of that. Anywhere in the state is no more than an hour from a beach. Many homes have pools. If your house doesn’t have a pool, you are bound to have a friend with a pool. We can swim almost all year (maybe a month or two where it’s a little cold). We can have outdoor barbeques all year.

        As Lizzie mentioned, hospitality/tourism is what we do. If that’s your field (it’s not mine), this is the place to be. For other fields, it really just depends. If you have kids (I don’t), this is the place to be. Most of the theme parks are in Central Florida, but even if you lived somewhere else in the state, you could do it as a weekend trip.

        Certain cities are snow bird towns, meaning they are more crowded in the winter when the northerners come down, but become pretty empty in the summer. If you have a service job, that would be tough.

        In general, you have to own a car here. I don’t know of any city in Florida that has good public transportation.

        Politically, the north half of the state is basically conservative. The south half is more liberal. The middle part is well, in the middle. We are the largest swing state, so all of the action takes place here. (I always joke that Floridians are the only ones whose vote really matters.)

        Most of the mid-size to large cities are very diverse in terms of nationality, religion, and those types of things.

        I’m here because I was born here. But if I were planning to move anywhere in the country, I don’t know that I would choose Florida. (Although there are plenty of people who do choose it. We just surpassed NY in terms of population. That’s all because of people moving here, not being born here.)

        Hope that helps. I agree with IT Manager about deciding what you like, and going from there. If snow-skiing is your favorite pastime, I would come to Florida. If you like the beach, this is the place. All places have good and bad, so decide on your non-negotiables, then go from there.

    3. katamia

      I just moved to Taiwan for a job, but I’m assuming you don’t mean quite that far, lol.

      I was living in the DC area, though. It’s a really transplant-friendly area, which is good. People say a lot of bad things about the area and its supposed unfriendliness, but I grew up there and I think it’s less meanness and hostility and more just willingness to live and let live combined with, yes, a bit of aloofness. It’s not as friendly as some parts of the US (if you think random conversations you can’t escape from in the grocery store are friendly rather than anxiety-inducing, anyway), but it’s very easy to become “one of us,” which I think is one of the best things about the area.

      The cost of living is quite high, but depending on where you’re from in NY, that may be something you’re used to. There are lots of great restaurants and, of course, museums, most of which are free. Depending on where you live in the area, other cities like Baltimore (which also has some neat stuff) can also be easily available to you.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.

        I live in DC, and I love it. I’m from Idaho, and never want to move back (though it’s great if you’re into outdoors-type-stuff. Great skiing, hiking, river activities, etc. But I hate all those things). I don’t think DC is particularly unfriendly, it’s just very east-coast (I’ve visited NYC, and the people there seem roughly the same, though NYC always seems more crowded to me).

        I’m a big fan of the fact that you don’t have to have a car in DC. And there are lots of jobs. It’s pretty competitive, and entry-level wages can be low, but there’s tons of group housing options also. There are also lots of ways to meet new people, if that’s your thing.

        1. katamia

          In the suburbs, though, you might need a car (and there are some very nice suburbs with good job opportunities, so if FutureLibrarian does decide to look in DC, the suburbs definitely shouldn’t be ignored). There are lots of good opportunities in the suburbs, and while the subway isn’t awful (although when it is it’s rather catastrophically awful), I’ve had horrible luck with the buses and would never want to have to depend on them on a regular basis. A lot of places in the suburbs also won’t hire people who don’t have cars.

      2. hermit crab

        I like it here in the DC area too. The cost of living (well, mostly, the cost of housing) is definitely high, but I feel like it’s worth it for me. The job market is good, there are tons of opportunities for volunteering/community involvement, and it’s easy to get other places (both travel-wise and to nearby outdoorsy places like state/national parks or the beach).

    4. schnapps

      Vancouver, Canada, area. Cost of living is high. I live about 50km outside of Vancouver proper because of housing cost, and work in Vancouver, but it’s difficult.

      That said, it is the most beautiful place in North America and you can go from sea to sky in far less than a day, whether by car and gondola, or train. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

      1. QualityControlFreak

        Close, but western Washington State is the most beautiful place in North America. I could possibly be biased.

        Love: The wilderness. Olympic National Park. Mountains, ocean, inland waterways, islands, wild rivers. The Cascade mountain range.

        Don’t Love: Cost of living is very high, particularly in urban areas. I live in the sticks and it’s still not cheap. My commute. An hour each way, but at least most of it’s highway.

    5. Sandy

      Middle East.

      Usually love it for the weather (this latest heat wave has been an exception) and the work. Hate it for a long list of other reasons.

    6. Ann Furthermore

      I live in the Denver metropolitan area. For the most part, I love it. I’ve lived here for about 30 years, since moving here with my parents after graduating from high school (good god…has it really been 30 years??)

      If you’re into sports and outdoorsy stuff, this is the place for you. The mountains are a couple hours away, and of course there is the skiing. The weather is pretty good too. The climate is quite dry, which can be hard on your skin but if you have a good moisturizer, that takes care of it. But there’s no humidity, which I love. And because of the mountains, there are some crazy weather patterns, so there are times of the year when you can literally experience all 4 seasons in just a couple of days. Even in the winter, if a storm dumps a ton of snow, it warms up pretty quickly and it melts within a couple of days.

      On the downside, the real estate market here is completely insane, and people have a hard time buying homes because inventory is low, and there are people offering to pay all cash and other crazy things. They’re either from California, or they own medical marijuana dispensaries and have a bunch of cash laying around that they can’t deposit in the bank. The rental market is incredibly tight too. It seems like a bubble that must burst at some point, but right now, it shows no signs of slowing down.

    7. DebbieDebbieDebbie

      Suburb 20 miles outside of Cleveland.
      The good: Low cost of living, Lake Erie, 4 seasons, arts/culture, pro-sports
      The bad: The never ending joke, lake effect snow, cloudy skies/little sun, sluggish local economy

      1. Bekx

        I’m about the same distance and area! How cool :) The snow is the WORST, imo.

        We don’t have crazy, crazy, traffic like other big cities. I mean, we still have traffic, but nothing like Atlanta or NYC or Chicago.

    8. Chris

      Northern Michigan, closest major metropolitan: Grand Rapids.

      Cons:
      Nobody seems to like moving away, so job variety is scarce. What I could find in a bigger city as an entry level position is filled here by someone with 30+ years. Landing a job is heavily network dependent (from my experience) It is also expensive cost of living are with bad winters, never ending pothole season, and tourist rushes.
      Pros:
      The landscape is beautiful and variety of outdoor opportunities are a big plus. You have year round events, festivals, and are surrounded by water. With all the tourists, progress remains steady in developing the surrounding areas. It is also the place to be for craft beer brewing- we have had a huge surge of new breweries and taproom.

    9. Liane

      Little Rock, Arkansas.
      Fun stuff: It’s lovely – any kind of outdoor activities (hiking, boat/canoe/kayak, fishing/hunting, even SCUBA diving). While the state has a lot of very rural areas, of course, LR is like most most medium-large cities. There’s lots of college sports teams and all kinds of cultural activities. I love the Arkansas Symphony, there’s ballet and theater, and we have touring companies for major Broadway shows. (My church’s organist has been a keyboardist for Wicked 2 or 3 times.)
      Education/Health: Also great library system, medical care (med school, VA, 103 year old Children’s hospital), and universities. I’ve been quite pleased with my teens’ (middle/high) schools; many schools here, including theirs, offer lots of AP courses as well as EAST/Environmental and Spatial Technology (an amazing program which combines tech and service projects). There are small SF/fantasy/anime/comics/gaming cons if you are into those.

      Money/job stuff: It is not an expensive state, which, alas also means wages aren’t great. Like so many areas today it is hard to find a job other than low-end service/production positions. There is a state income tax and sales tax is about 8 or 9% (there are local-options so it varies a bit) with grocery sales tax at around 4%.

    10. Mimmy

      Central New Jersey

      Pros:
      -Just 10 minutes away from large institutions that could provide potential employment, such as a major state university, and several hospitals.

      Cons:
      -High property taxes
      -VERY crowded
      -Public transportation isn’t the greatest. There are a lot of busses in the nearest city, but outside of that, options are limited. I can’t drive, so if I weren’t married and such a wuss about being out and about by myself, I’d love to live in DC or NYC, just for not needing a car alone!

    11. Chorizo

      Houston, TX
      Love: Cost of living, having family close by, winter, no state or local income taxes
      Hate: Everything else
      I may just be biased because it’s been disgustingly hot and humid this summer.

    12. Stephanie

      Phoenix area

      Love: the winters, low cost of living, lots of outdoor activities (when it’s not boiling out), natural scenery, if the weather is crappy there’s usually better weather a couple of hours away (due to all the elevation changes in the state), not much traffic for a city this size, pretty good food with most cuisines available, lots of sun, people are pretty friendly and unpretentious, city/county/state parks are pretty nice

      Hate: the summers (well, I endure them), low wages, meh job market (I’ve interviewed for more things out of area than in area), sort of geographically isolated (nearest big cities are all 6-7 hour drive away), the politics (less left-right preferences and more grandstanding and demagoguery), K-12 schools aren’t great overall (I don’t have kids, but this may be of a concern to you if you do), really bad sprawl that makes it feel more like a very, very big suburb than a city, bad public transit

    13. Felicia

      Toronto, Canada
      Pro:extremely multicultural, LGBT friendly, large population (it’s the 4th largest city in North America) which I like because of teh ability to be anonymous and the more people to choose from in terms of friends and partners, i don’t need a car, there’s always fun things to see/do , I love the noise, fast pace, many employment and hobby opportunities, I love Canada in general.
      Cons: high cost of living. Otherwise I love absolutely everything about it and would never want to live elsewhere. I think I could be happy Vancouver too, but it’s too far from everyone and everything I know and am not looking to start over. I also felt when I vsited that Boston is a place I would like to live, except I would never ever want to live in the US.

    14. Fantasma

      I’m in the Bay Area (South Bay).
      Love: Weather, job opportunities, entertainment options (parks, festivals, etc.)
      Hate: High cost of living that’s rapidly escalating, traffic

      Overall, I enjoy living here a lot and the job market for tech and other areas is strong, but I also have the sense that things are unsustainable. Housing is extremely expensive (even more than NY) and I’m not sure how long it will make financial sense to live here since rents go up about 10% a year and sometimes more. I’m currently checking out new complexes — for a fall move — and one-bedroom places are all above $2,500/month in areas a reasonable commuting distance from work. I was telling my parents about my likeliest contenders: “But they have a downside: they’re downwind of the dump so on really hot days, it smells.”

    15. CAA

      San Diego
      Pros: great climate; proximity to beaches, mountains and deserts; increasingly vibrant downtown area; hot job market in several sectors; major universities and research institutions
      Cons: high cost of living (mainly for housing); tourists in the summer; lousy pro sports teams; corruption in city government

    16. Lindsay J

      I’m currently in Houston, TX, and I love it.

      I’m a NJ girl born and bred, and moved out here when I was 26 for work (though me and my ex kind of targeted our job search to this area and a few others.) In three days it will be 3 years since I moved here.

      Pros:
      Low cost of living compared to the North East and other major cities in the US. I can actually see one day owning a home here, where I couldn’t comprehend doing so in the NY tri-state area, or around DC for example.

      The people around here are pretty darn nice. It took me awhile to adjust to it, honestly.

      Food: I like to eat and there is a growing culinary scene here. I rarely repeat restaurants and haven’t eaten at a chain place in a long time.

      There are a lot of young professionals my age around here, and lots of ways to meet them – there are quite a few Meetup groups, Reddit social groups, and other events that I keep busy with.

      There are a lot of things to do in general around here. I haven’t scratched the surface of all the touristy stuff to do – landmarks etc. There is a zoo. A bunch of different museums. 5 professional sports teams (Astros, Texans, Rockets, Dynamo, and Dash). The rodeo. A huge mall. Tons of restaurants and bars, etc.

      There are two major airports, and IAH is a United hub, so I can fly pretty much anywhere I want and usually nonstop.

      There are a lot of people, and so you can find people to fit in with no matter who you are. I’m a flaming liberal and I was kind of afraid of moving to Texas because I was afraid I wouldn’t fit in at all. However, I’ve been able to find a lot of people who share my point of view on things.

      Good job market (generally, anyway).

      Cons:
      Traffic. It’s terrible. I live 15 minutes from work without traffic. With, it takes me 45-1hour. I spend a lot of time sitting in my car at a dead stop. I don’t use public transportation generally, but from what I hear it’s not all that great and won’t take you a lot of places you need to go.

      Also, the roads are in terrible condition. One of my friends visiting described driving down the road as being like driving on the surface of the moon.

      Weather: It’s currently like 105*F out. And it’s not a dry heat, either. It doesn’t bother me all that much because I pretty much go from my air conditioned apartment to my air conditioned car to my air conditioned job. But if you work in a job where you’re outside a lot, or don’t have a car and generally walk places, or just generally like being outside then summer isn’t going to be great to you.

      It’s more expensive than a lot of other places in Texas. And only getting more expensive.

    17. Kirsten

      Connecticut (upper Fairfield County)
      Love: Proximity to NY (I’m from Long Island and most of my friends still live there or in NYC), beautiful shoreline, nice towns, good schools, small state, lower taxes than NY
      Hate: Winters, typical tri state area traffic, car tax

    18. Elizabeth West

      In Southwest MO (medium-sized city).

      Pros:
      –It’s pretty in the spring, when the trees start to leaf out and the dogwoods bloom.

      –Cost of living is slightly lower than other places (but pay is too). Rents in my city start at around $500-600.

      –The Ozarks are nice if you like outdoorsy stuff–fishing, hiking, deer hunting, camping, zip-lining, boating, floating, etc. Sports too; we have a minor league baseball team (I hate sports, but if you like baseball, it’s cool). Hockey and high school / college football and basketball also. The MSU Lady Bears b-ball team are very popular.

      –I’m slowly starting to see more options in groceries, etc. We have three good Asian markets in town and a couple of Latino ones (one carries a bit of Indian, African, and Arabic stuff), but almost nothing European (except lots of German mustard). We do have Aldi! There is one Mexican market that sells those huge yellow cookies with the sprinkles–I got hooked on those in California. Yay! I bought a bunch of them today. Like I’m not fat enough, LOL. And the British pasty truck! Can’t forget that! :D :D :D

      –Flea markets everywhere, if you like that (I like that).

      Cons: I’m biased because there is very little for me here and I really want to leave.
      –Weather is nasty. Hot / humid in summer, violent in spring, and polar in winter.

      –BUGS.

      –People are quite friendly in rural areas but not very open-minded. This is the Bible Belt, and redneck country to boot. You WILL see camo and Confederate flags (even though technically we’re not actually part of the South). Ugh. Duck Dynasty stuff in Walmart. Ugh ugh. Many people do not go anywhere on their own, so it can be hard to make friends. I don’t know about other places, but my city is horribly clique-y. Not terribly diverse, though that is slowly changing.

      –CULTURAL WASTELAND. The two larger cities in MO get better entertainment because they’re bigger. Any time we get a concert act, it’s always some country thing. Blergh. (We do have a symphony orchestra and community theater, and it’s not bad.) Jerry Seinfeld likes coming here, but he sells out in two minutes so I’ve never seen him. It was only two years ago that I finally found a meetup of people like me (nerds) who like nerdy things and aren’t terrified to come out into the open. Hard to find really good restaurants. It’s mostly fast food, Tex-Mex, and Chinese (though cashew chicken is a regional specialty, yum). We’re close to Branson, which is a massive tourist trap and packed with overpriced hillbilly junk and country music shows. Nice lakes, though.

      –Poor to nonexistent public transport. Where I live, there are buses, but they’re not very good. No trains. I would have to drive three hours to the St. Louis area to even reach a passenger train station. Everything is very spread out here. If you don’t have a car, you’re not going anywhere. If you drive out of town, you can go for miles without seeing anything but corn, cows, and soybeans. Lots of two-lane roads. You get behind a tractor or an Amish buggy (north of here), and you’re screwed. My city has an airport, but you must fly a legacy airline’s tinyjet to a hub. Southwest won’t deign to come here. :(

      If you like country living, Jesus, Walmart, Steak and Shake, and rodeos, you’ll be very happy here, LMAO!

      1. Stephanie

        Re the Confederate Flag, Missouri has always been a little confused whether it’s the South or the Midwest. My dad is from the Bootheel, which is very Southern.

    19. ptrish

      Just moved to Boston two months ago, so take this with a grain of salt:

      Love:
      -my neighborhood
      -LGBT friendly
      -access to water/boating
      -closer to family than where I used to live
      -having a job!
      -lots of smart and well-educated people around, with the related bookstores, nerdy events, etc.

      Meh:
      -sports sports sports! I’m a soccer fan but hate baseball/most other sports/getting drunk
      -I’m from New Jersey (NYC area), so pretty used to abruptness/East Coast rudeness, but I’ve had a few bad experiences here with people being rude or unwelcoming for no reason

      Dislikes:
      -almost everyone I meet here is from either the Boston area or New England, many have never left the area, and some very openly think it’s weird when I express my nomadic tendencies.
      -confusingly changeable weather!

    20. Denton, Texas

      I am in Denton, Texas. It is a small town with two universities so the dynamic skews young on the surface. I like that we are close enough to Dallas and Fort Worth so it doesn’t take long to get to a major city. I grew up in Texas so the weather is a plus to me. The predicted high for tomorrow is 110 degrees Fahrenheit but you just use a sun hat, sun block, and common sense and the heat becomes just a small annoyance. The University of North Texas also has a robust music school so we get a lot of free or close to free concerts.

      One of the cons are all the road construction. This area was the fastest growing county in America for a while according to some realtors and they have finally realized that they need to widen a lot of roads, build new ones, and repair the old. With the two universities, you get a lot of new people at this time of the year who ask for directions a lot and you have to get used to being delayed trying to explain which street is a one way street and which one isn’t and then not screaming when the driver you just told three times that they need to go one street over to the street going the other way to get to where they want just does a u-turn on the one way street and nearly causes several wrecks.

    21. Sunflower

      Philadelphia. I’m 26, single female and I live in center city.

      Pros:
      – Extremely walkable. Has all the big city perks like public transportation, tons of stuff going on every day
      – A lot of people coming down here from NYC( I see this as a pro but not everyone will agree). Our restaurant and arts scene is expanding very quickly. also a lot of restaurants are byob. The city is probably most famous for our food and I can say that other cities do not make cheese steaks, hoagies, soft pretzels or water ice as good as we do.
      – Close to many other cities. Very easy to get to NYC or DC and Boston is not too far either. Only 1.5 hours from the ocean/beach
      – Low cost of living compared to other East coast cities. I have friends in their twenties able to afford 2-3 bedroom houses in the city
      – Tons of history and people are generally friendly(in east coast terms of friendly).

      Cons:
      – Traffic is terrible. Not a lot of jobs are located in the city and KOP, a big spot for jobs, is super spread out. Even if you take public transport, it takes forever.
      – Feel like there are no jobs here and it only seems to be getting worse. Philly is constantly ranked as a bad place to try to get a job.
      – Weather. Winters can be bad and summers brutal. I personally enjoy a little bit of cold weather so I don’t want to count it as a total con. Spring and Fall is really beautiful and you can’t beat how crowded the city gets on the first nice day of the year.
      – Mixed feelings on the transportation system. If you come from a small town/city, yes the transportation system will seem really large and amazing but I think it sucks. Regional rails into the city take double the time it would take to drive and if you are trying to get into a different suburb, forget it. It could take you 2 hours with connections.
      – Crime. Philly does have a high crime rate and it gets a bad rap but it is a safe city for the most part. Your car will probably get broken into at some point and I have friends who have had their apts(in safe neighborhoods) robbed but it usually happens because you do something dumb like leave your bottom floor window open or leave shopping bags in plain view in your backseat.

      Personally Philly to me is a big city that feels small. So you might like or dislike that. I like Philly as a city but the trouble with finding a job has really brought me down on the city. I’m trying to relocate (mostly because I’ve lived here forever and need a change) but Philly is a really enjoyable city for a lot of people esp if you come from a small town and are looking for the ‘big city’ experience

    22. Anonymous Educator

      San Francisco.

      Pros:
      – Beautiful, quiet non-city natural beauty only minutes away from the city (drive 10-15 minutes instead of 2-3 hours).
      – Amazing restaurants. Yes, some are overrated (most with crowds and lines running outside of them), but there are so many good little gems.
      – Liberal politics (could be a con, I suppose, if you’re conservative).
      – Less overt racism. I used to live in the Boston area, and the overt racism was quite jarring. Yes, subtle racism sucks, too, but when you get the overt racism, the subtle comes with it, too. I’m not white, so I’d rather have one than both.

      Cons:
      – High cost of living. Yes, it’s had a high cost of living for decades, but the past couple of years have been particularly bad, and it probably won’t get better for at least another 3-5 years. A one-bedroom rental in the cheapest neighborhood will cost at least $2600/month. The worst part is that the outlying suburbs aren’t that cheap, either. There isn’t an equivalent to central Jersey. If you want really affordable rents, you’ve got to go at least an hour and a half to two hours outside the city.
      – Related to the first con, a lot of cute local businesses that have been around for decades are closing at an alarming rate because of business (not just residential) rents also going up.
      – All the stuff you hear about gentrification, hipsters, and brogrammers is true.
      – Public transit (MUNI) in the city stinks (BART and CalTrain are a little better, though).
      – There’s a drought.

  31. I Want to Tell You

    Writing because I need objective input and because this community seems to have experience with the subject, and honestly, it’s one of the few places on the Internet where I can actually read the comments. This is very long, so if you want to skip to the “TL;DR” version, it’s the last paragraph. (I gave a lot of information so people would have a better understanding of the situation.)

    I have a close friend, whom I’ll call Stuart, that I’m debating whether or not to tell I have Asperger’s. Not many people in my life know. I was diagnosed as a young child, so obviously my family knows, and a few friends from back in my hometown know, but none of my friends in my current city know. (Two friends I met in my current city know, but they’ve since moved away, so none of my friends currently living here know.) I’ve gotten very good at appearing neurotypical over the years, to the point where people are shocked when I do tell them, but it’s sometimes really stressful putting on an act. I go great lengths to hide it from people because of previous bad experiences with being open about it and I will explain away social missteps as “being tired or stressed” or “not getting out in a while”. Sensory issues are explained as “tired”, “picky”, “too bright/loud, etc.”. I was basically taught “hide and suppress it to survive” growing up, and while it has gotten me places no one ever thought possible, it’s also created shame and stress surrounding it. I *know* it’s nothing to be ashamed of, but I am just the same. Bullying, being called a “freak”, people making fun of my quirks and stims and screeching, “What’s wrong with you?!”, and people being dismissive when I do open up to them has only reinforced my instinct to “hide to survive”.

    I’ve known Stuart for 7 years; I met him my second day in my current city and he’s my closest friend here. If one of us needs something we call/text the other, we like a lot of the same things, and we are both introverts who hate crowds and aren’t really fans of going to parties and such where we don’t know anyone else. (When that happens, we both end up in a corner talking to each other.) He also helped me through a rough patch in my personal and work lives a few years back, and I helped him through a breakup around the same time, and it solidified our friendship. Stuart is also one of two close friends in my current city who have met my parents when they’ve come to visit, and the only one to meet up with them on each visit. In short, he’s “my person”, but without the co-dependence or constant connectivity.

    Stuart treats me very well; he’s never been purposely disrespectful toward me or tried to push me too far into doing something I’m not comfortable with, and when he has said or done something that came off badly, he’s quick to apologize. He’s often willing to do the off-the-beaten-path activities I suggest, and when he invites me along to activities that are a bit expensive for me, he offers to treat. (Not all of my friends are this self-aware and have gotten upset when I’ve had to turn stuff down because of finances.) If we’re at a party or out for a night on the town and I’ve partied too hard or stayed out very late, he looks out for me, makes sure I’m feeling okay, and ensures I get home safely. When out with a group of him and his other friends, I’ve noticed Stuart treats his other friends the same way. He also has a gift for knowing when the conversation topic needs to be changed, which has been very helpful for me. I’ve also gotten better at knowing when to leave a party/gathering at someone’s apartment because of him; he’s one of the few people who will be direct and tell me it’s time to leave, and I’ve taken those cues over to other social gatherings. (I got conflicting messages about this growing up. My mom is the type to make an appearance and then leave after a short amount of time whereas my dad thinks it’s rude to show up after the starting time and leave before everyone else has left, especially if it’s his family or a longtime friend. I’ve told Stuart about this and for him to just tell me if/when I need to leave, and he does.)

    However, Stuart isn’t very outwardly emotional and will quickly move the topic along when things seem like they’re going to get too emotional. Sometimes this is a good thing, and other times I just feel like talking things out a bit more. He also doesn’t share much about his “deeper” emotions or about his childhood unless it’s a funny/amusing anecdote or related to pop culture. Because of this, my fear is that Stuart will be dismissive of my Asperger’s and brush it off like it’s no big deal. I’m afraid he’ll say stuff like, “Why are you telling me this?” or “You get along just fine; why do you need to tell people about it?” or “Maybe you should focus on other things and stop spending so much time and energy on this.” (Actual, paraphrased quotes from an ex-friend I told.) On the other hand, because of Stuart’s kind nature, I can see it going the other way and him feeling appreciative that I felt comfortable opening up to him and him asking a lot of questions to try to understand my experience. (He’ll ask a lot of questions either way; that’s just his inquisitive nature.)

    Other factors that make me think this could go either way: I’ve long suspected our mutual friend—and Stuart’s ex—Cody of having ADHD, and I’ve never noticed a difference in the way Stuart treats him or talks about him. (It’s neither confirmed nor denied—at least to me—so I’ve never said anything to anyone.) One time Stuart and I were talking about Cody’s poor social planning skills. (He has a hard time making concrete social plans and sticking to them and has changed plans at the very last minute to avoid disappointing other friends.) I asked if it was because Cody likes to hold out for something better or if it’s because he can’t decide on a plan. Stuart said he thought it was a little of both and started to say what else he thought it was because of, and then he stopped himself because he didn’t want to reveal personal stuff about Cody. I thought that was thoughtful and considerate of him. Second, Stuart casually dated a guy for a while whom I suspected had Asperger’s, but I’m not sure why it fizzled out. Stuart would look out for him at parties, too, and leave with him when he’d had enough. Third, Stuart and I were at a party last night where neither of us knew many of the people and he told me about feeling socially awkward because of it. It surprised me, because while he is an introvert, he comes off as being very good at conversation when he does talk to people and will strike one up if he finds someone interesting.

    If I do decide to tell Stuart, I want to do it in a way that doesn’t make it seem like a big, dramatic sit-down or like I have serious, bad news to tell him. I keep waiting for it to come up organically but it hasn’t happened. I also keep waiting for the right time and place, but both just don’t seem to line up at the same time. I want people’s input on whether I should tell Stuart or just keep it to myself, and if I do tell him, a good way to broach the topic. I also think Stuart may suspect or have already figured it out based on things he’s said and done, but I don’t know for sure. My motive for telling him is for him to understand me better and to know what I go through to appear “normal” in social interactions and my day-to-day life. (There was a discussion about this in a recent short answer post where people compared ADD and Asperger’s to the high jump. Go to the July 28 short answer post and search “high jump” to find the discussion. It’s a good explanation for how I feel a lot of the time.) I may consider telling other close friends at some point, but I want to start slow.

    TL;DR Version: I’m debating whether to tell my close friend Stuart that I have Asperger’s, and I truly see his reaction going either way. I don’t share this part of myself with many people because of past bullying and bad experiences with people being dismissive. Stuart treats me very well and is a kind person who looks out for me when I’ve partied too hard or when we’re out late at night together and also helps me navigate party etiquette, but he also isn’t a very outwardly emotional person and doesn’t share much about his own childhood. Because of that, I’m worried he could be dismissive. I’m looking for input on ways to broach the topic without it seeming like a big, dramatic sit-down or like I have serious, bad news to share with him. I keep waiting for it to come up organically in the right time and place, but that hasn’t happened.

    1. katamia

      You say that you want to tell Stuart so he’ll understand you and what you go through to appear “normal” better. Do you feel like there’s something he doesn’t understand about you now (from your description of him, it sounds like he does understand you very well even without you explicitly telling him), or is it that you want to be able to talk about your Asperger’s with people you’re close with?

      Something that might help when/if you do decide to tell him is to decide in advance what sort of reaction you want. You say what you don’t want, but, not having Asperger’s myself and generally falling on the “Do not tell people personal stuff about me unless I absolutely have to” side of the spectrum, I’m not sure what would be a good reaction in your mind. Then preface “I have Asperger’s” with “Please don’t say X, Y, or Z, or do A, B, or C.” Doesn’t mean he won’t, but it might limit the chances of him accidentally saying something hurtful or dismissive.

      1. fposte

        I had similar thoughts as katamia–is there something you’re hoping he would do differently based on this understanding?

        Not that I’m opposed to telling him; just that your goal here isn’t entirely clear to me. It also seems like this might feel like your coming out of the closet moment, since you’re framing it with your childhood and you’ve known this guy for years and haven’t said anything. And if that’s the case, the goal is more about you than about him–which is absolutely fine and may give you a way to bring it up. “Hey, there’s something I don’t usually tell people–would you help me with that by listening to me?” I’d try not to turn it into a speech, just something like “I was diagnosed with Asperger’s at seven, and it made things really hard for me then and sometimes still does.”

        1. I Want to Tell You

          Forgot to mention in my other reply that I like the “Hey, there’s something I don’t usually tell people–would you help me with that by listening to me?” approach. It comes off as more casual than a speech or a sit-down, but signifies that it is important and that I want him to listen without distraction.

      2. I Want to Tell You

        I think it’s a little of both. Although Stuart does seem to have an overall good understanding of me, there are a few things I don’t think he fully understands, such as why I’m a little more change-adverse than the average person or why I sometimes come off as immature/child-like for my age. I also don’t think he fully understands why I find dating really difficult and why my approach to it is to let people come to me or wait for opportunities to present themselves. (I’m a lesbian, which makes it even more complicated. I have yet to find dating advice geared toward people who are both autistic and LGBT. I’m not desperate for a girlfriend, but some people do wonder why I don’t date much.) If anything, I think he knows there’s something different about me but may not be able to pinpoint what it is. It would also be nice to be able to talk about Asperger’s with those I’m close to and have people in my life I don’t have to hide it from. Part of it is also fear of having a public meltdown in front of Stuart or any of my other friends; I think it would be better him/them to know before it happens rather than wondering what the hell is going on in the moment and me having to try to explain in the moment. (Public meltdowns are less frequent now that I’m older, and when they do happen I’m usually by myself, but I’ve had them in front of other friends a couple of times before in times of mounting stress. Unless people know I have Asperger’s, their reaction is usually, “What the hell?” or “Why are you overreacting to this?”)

        A good reaction would be one of empathy, making an effort to understand, and concluding that I’m still the same person and friend, but that they just know more about me now. Asking a lot of questions is okay as long as it’s not done in an accusatory or doubting tone. Going the prefacing route by saying, “Please don’t say X, Y, or Z, or do A, B, or C.” could work, but I can also hear Stuart saying, “Just tell me already!” in reaction to that, which may just get me to blurt it out…

        1. Not So NewReader

          I think you have a friend that is priceless, an absolute gem of a person.

          I think you should continue to wait for that organic moment. Here’s why: Stuart is helping you reweave/ reknit parts of you in ways that we cannot imagine. Part of the reason he MIGHT be able to do this is because he does not know your diagnosis. He sees you as a person first and from what you say here, you reeeally want that.

          Yes, I agree Stuart already knows something about your setting. He may not know what your diagnosis is but he does recognize your patterns. For example: He clearly understands that when you want to leave a party, it’s time to go. That is a recurring pattern for you. I am sure there are other examples. If nothing else, he knows your patterns and is very willing to go with what you need.

          My third reason for not saying anything is because Stuart has his own stuff that concerns him. I could be wrong here, but I think this is a strong possibility. I think as friends you both dovetail well, you are actually helping Stuart with some of his stuff and you do not realize how much you do help. This is a friendship that works as is.

          Dating: After being friends for seven years you do not have to explain your dating life to Stuart. He sees how you handle your life and he does not have any questions. If you are concerned what others think about your dating life, those people need to get a hobby. They have too much time on their hands.

          Understanding: Try to figure out what you want Stuart to understand that he is not seeing. You did talk about the effort you put into everything to cover yourself. If you want to say something about that, then just point out, “I put a lot of effort into X” as those things come up. You could also point out “I am not good at Y, so I have to allow extra time/energy to get it set up”. In short- go one situation at a time when sharing with him when you hit an obstacle in the road, as opposed to trying to give him a big picture overview all at once.

          Have you listened to “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel lately? I think you and Stuart are both a bridge for each other. Enjoy the bridging and stay the course.

          1. Jean

            NSNR, thank you for reminding me how wonderful that song is! (Daily life: an experience in which the important gets crowded out of one’s head by the trivial.)

          2. I Want to Tell You

            I gave your reply some thought while I was out doing errands, and you bring up some very good points. You are very intuitive, Not So NewReader. Stuart has influenced me in a lot of ways that I haven’t always realized right away. In addition to party etiquette, he has taught me about navigating the working world and offered up career advice to me. We’re both in the same industry, entirely by coincidence. Like AAM, he has a gift for how to phrase things without coming off as snotty and has coached me on re-wording potential conversations when he thinks I sound snotty. He has done this for my personal life, too. I think in part because of him and seeing what a real, true, healthy adult friendship looks like, I’m a lot less willing to put up with bad relationships in my personal life. You are correct that Stuart is attuned to my needs. Even if he wants to go do his own thing after we’ve been hanging out, he won’t leave me in the lurch, especially late at night. It’s the same thing when he wants me to leave his apartment; if it’s night time he’ll let me wait for the bus inside rather than out on the street. Or when we’re out to eat, he’ll ask me if I like the cuisine and if I can find something suitable to eat at a particular restaurant and if I can’t, we’ll go elsewhere. (I’m a vegetarian, and I also have sensory issues with some food textures and smells.) There are other examples, but you get the idea.

            It’s funny you mention Stuart having his own stuff happening; I have long suspected there’s something he’s holding back, too, and while I have my suspicions, I can’t put my finger on what it is. I figure if or when he’s ready to talk about it he’ll bring it up. He’ll talk out his worries about work and relationships with me, and I’ll provide a voice of reason for him. If we’re out and he’s at the point where he needs to be done, I’ll end it and we’ll leave and do our own things. It’s reassuring to hear that I’m helping Stuart with his stuff, too, because it sometimes feels like he’s doing all the giving and me all the taking. (I wonder if he feels the opposite in regards to me now.) We dovetail in other ways as well. We both approach music in the same way in that while neither of us plays an instrument, we both have a deep, emotional, personal connection to music that each of us enjoys and find it therapeutic. A lot of my friends either don’t experience music in the same way or our tastes don’t overlap enough for us to have a connection based on it. (Both Stuart’s and my iTunes library has nearly doubled in size because of the influence we’ve had on each other.) We also both understand the woes of clothing shopping, but for different reasons. I’m on the cusp between misses and plus sizes and find a lot of stuff too small, and Stuart is very thin and finds a lot of menswear too big. Again, there are many other examples.

            I have had other friends be very pushy about me “putting myself out there” to the point of one, Frank, trying to goad me into changing my birthday party to a bar gathering so I could “meet women”. I held firm on my party plans, but went out on a different night just to shut Frank up. Frank pushed too hard while we were out, and another mutual friend had to tell him to back off. (Frank also can’t stay single for more than six months at a time, but that’s another story. You are right that he needs another hobby.) Other friends have set me up with people, but didn’t badger me into either going on the dates or about the dates not working out. Stuart will encourage me to pursue women when I’m interested and will be my wingman when I feel like going out, but won’t goad me into anything. It helps that he is also single and very picky about potential partners. (Another way we dovetail.) I suss out the men he meets when we’re out together and give my unfiltered opinions, which he seems to appreciate.

            I actually already do the “I’m not good at X” and “I struggle with Y” sometimes, and it seems to work well. He accepts those statements at face value and will encourage me to keep trying or say that it’s okay if I struggle with X or Y. I’ve been a fan of Simon and Garfunkel since high school, but hadn’t listened to “Bridge Over Troubled Water” for a while. I love it, but I cry every time I hear it, so I don’t listen to it often. I put it on after reading your comment, and sure enough, I started weeping because I thought about how much Stuart means to me. I’m really lucky to have him in my life, and he truly is a diamond in the rough.

      1. Blue_eyes

        Did you read the post? OP has Asperger’s, not ADHD. OP has had people react poorly in the past when revealing their Asperger’s diagnosis, so they are reasonably wary of telling other people for fear of more negative reactions.

    2. Clever Name

      I guess I don’t get what the big deal is in mentioning it. I mean, my closest friend is autistic (well, she’s never been officially diagnosed, but her son has it, and she couldn’t talk until she was about 6, so yeah). She didn’t tell me in a big unveiling moment, it just came up naturally in conversation. It doesn’t really change our relationship. If Stuart is as cool and in tune with you as you describe, it will be just another part of your background.

  32. Ann Furthermore

    It was high drama on the cul-de-sac last night!

    Friday night is usually social hour(s) on our street. About half of the families that live on the cul-de-sac and about halfway down the street are pretty good friends (including us). It’s about 7 or 8 families in all. We all hang out in someone’s driveway and have a few beers while the kids all run around playing together, riding bikes, and so on. It’s pretty awesome, and one of the reasons we love this neighborhood.

    There’s one family who no one really likes. The husband is an OK guy, but the wife is kind of crazy. We haven’t had any problems with her, but she’s had run-ins with some of the other neighbors (let’s call her Betty). One of them (let’s call her Sue) has gotten on Betty about driving too fast on our street, because there are always kids out playing. Betty came driving up the street last night, and then deliberately sped up as she passed Sue’s house. Someone else yelled, “Slow down!” and so Betty floored it, careened up to the end of the cul-de-sac, sped around, and pulled into her driveway. Sue (who admittedly had had a few beers at this point) started up to Betty’s house, and Betty rolled down her window and yelled, “F*ck you, b*tch!!” Classy. So the 2 of them got into it (nothing physical), and Betty said she was going to call the police. Sue told her to go ahead. She told us Betty had gotten out of her car, come over to her, and stroking her hair and telling her, “Oh, it’s so sad how pathetic you are, and it’s just so sad how your family has turned out.” Sue and her husband Tom have 2 really sweet kids — their older daughter is 15 and plays with my 6 year old all the time and is really nice to her. Sue told Betty get her f*cking hands off her.

    Anyway, about 10 minutes later, the police show up, and go into Betty’s house. Then they come strolling down to Sue’s house, and talk to her for awhile. They told her that because she went up to Betty’s house to talk to her, that she was the “aggressor,” even though Betty drives like a maniac up our street all the time. Sue said that this has been going on for awhile, and the cops said that since she had never called them, there was no record of it. Sue responded by saying that calling them was a waste of their time and taxpayer money, and she had been trying to deal with it herself. They advised her to get a camera with a speed gun on it and start making a record of all this.

    Here’s what really pissed me off though — by this time it was about 9:30 or 10:00, and we were all still out there, and our kids were still running around and playing. One cop told Sue, “your children really shouldn’t be out at this time of night.” WTF? They’re supervised — all the parents were out too, keeping an eye on them and looking out for cars. And what business of it is the cop’s? And so totally not the point! One of the reasons we love this neighborhood is because all the kids are friends, run around together, are in and out of each other’s houses — like it was when we were kids.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale

      Ugh. Now, I like a little neighborhood drama (from afar, that is, like complaining about my jackass new neighbor mixing paint in the park or blocking the road with her car), but speeding up like that? Especially when there are people out? STROKING SUE’S HAIR??? This woman is a nutcase. I see the cops’ point, and I think it’s time for everyone to start calling non-emergency every time Betty pulls this crap. What a nutball.

      And, yes, it’s summer, for one thing– your kids can stay out as long as you let them and it’s safe. If I had kids, I’d be thrilled to be in a neighborhood where they could run from house to house at all times of the day and night (within reason, of course!).

    2. Not helpful

      I can never understand why people who apparently don’t like children move into neighborhoods with lots of children. We have one and they would speed up going to their driveway which was where the school bus stop was.
      And the cop is a bit of an idiot.

    3. matcha123

      As someone that grew up in a neighborhood with a kind of cul-de-sac and often played in the shared parking lot with the neighborhood kids, I know how fun it is. But at the same time, the street is the street and kids really shouldn’t be playing in the street. I don’t know if they were, though.
      Personally, I don’t think 9 or 10 at night is too late to be out playing, but that’s just me.

    4. Not So NewReader

      I would go to your town board and request that speed limit signs be posted on your street. If you already have signs you can skip to the next step.

      The next step is go to your police department and request increased patrols of your street. If the police refuse, then go to the town board and ask that they request the police patrol your street more often. Maybe the police could install a camera on your street- it’s a long shot but you could ask.

      Next I would go to the chief of police. I don’t see anything wrong with kids being out that late on a summer night AND the parents are right there. [hello… grr.] Ask the chief about the officer’s comment. Explain to the chief that this has been an on-going issue. Frankly, handling it yourselves is not working. It’s passed time to bring in outside parties. I would quit trying to handle it myself and let the authorities handle it. Let the chief know that you will not be trying to handle it yourself anymore, that you realize your mistake. (Even if you don’t think it was a mistake to try on your own, tell him that you realize it was a mistake. It’s the word choice. It indicates that you are definitely going to back off.)

      And remember, you can’t fix crazy. All you can do is not let her have power over you.

  33. Shell

    I guess I’m going to vent my feelings a little here.

    So I’ve been a fanfiction writer since my teens, on and off through the years. I’m very aware that there’s quite a bit of drivel in fanfiction, but there are also a lot gems. I will unashamedly say that I’ve read stuff that far exceeds its canonical source in writing quality, worldbuilding, et cetera. And while the quality of my writing isn’t the point of this rant, I do think it’s decent. Not earth-shattering, but decent.

    Writing is a craft that doesn’t get as much respect as it should in any of its iterations, but most people at least do polite nodding when you say you’re a writer of original fiction or tech writing or something. But fanfiction? If they even know what it is, it’s usually met with a grimace and “oh, geez, fanfiction? You’re one of those people super-obsessed with Tony Stark/Edward Cullen/Jon Snow/etc.?”

    It’s not all drivel and porn, people! (Though admittedly there’s a lot of both.) I mean, personally, I research what I write, and so do the writers I know. Sure, we get some stuff wrong (for example, my historical accuracy isn’t so great, but my medical accuracy is very high). Sure, there are a lot of crap–but the same can be said for published stuff. And if you know what you’re looking for and how to look, there are a lot of really amazing stuff out there in a variety of lengths, tropes, and genres.

    The reason this came up: I’m trying out online dating, and my profile mentioned that I write (because I do, and because it’s a hobby that brings me a lot of joy along with frustration). One of the messages I got did mention fanfiction in a very derisive way, in the “I write too, it’s great to meet a fellow writer! I write fantasy and [other genre]; nothing like FANFICTION, but you know blah blah…” and it just made me growl. Especially when–at least judging by their profile–those people are the ones I can write circles around, (fan)fiction or not.

    Sigh. Someone explain to me why we automatically get so little respect. And whether or not they actually write themselves, I’ve yet to meet a single fan–online or not–who didn’t appreciate a good, well-thought-out, well-researched meta that dissects the canon, conjectures from hints/implications, and otherwise expand upon the world, no matter what their writing ability. You’d think our passion and dedication to our hobby, regardless of innate writing ability, is worthy of respect.

    But nope. We’re all just obsessed with sparkly vampires.

    1. MLT

      Instead of growling, you might post back that you write fanfiction. The person may come back apologetic, asking to learn more, or he or she might come back with an answer to your question about “what’s not to respect.”

      I do think you have a partial answer already, in that your work is surrounded by a fair bit of drivel and porn, and it is being pre-evaluated by association. Another thought I had is that people may view it more as hobby than other types of writing, since it is largely written for the love of characters and settings (rather than money) and written for a limited audience of other fans of the same fiction. There maybe another piece in there about the “fan” part – maybe it is hard for people to understand a fanfiction writer’s deep connection to a set of characters not their own. Or maybe they don’t think fanfiction can stand on its own, since it is rooted in someone else’ work.

      Author Lev Grossman shared nice thoughts about fanfiction writers: “Fanfiction is what literature might look like if it were reinvented from scratch after a nuclear apocalypse by a band of brilliant pop-culture junkies trapped in a sealed bunker. They don’t do it for money. That’s not what it’s about. The writers write it and put it up online just for the satisfaction. They’re fans, but they’re not silent, couchbound consumers of media. The culture talks to them, and they talk back to the culture in its own language.” Where most writing is a sort of monologue, it seems that fanfiction is kind of like half of a dialogue. So maybe it works a bit differently than other types of writing? Maybe what feels like derision from others is just a failure for folks to realize what fanfiction is and can be….

      1. Shell

        I considered writing back and making him explain himself, but I decided he wasn’t worth the effort. Online dating is supposed to start positively, and a confrontation over fanfiction will only turn the conversation defensive: either on his behalf as he backtracks and explain his derision, or on my behalf as I justify my hobby to someone I don’t know and thus have no inclination to give the benefit of the doubt to. It was just an instant NOPE.

        It’s very late here so I won’t threadsit, and I’ll think about the rest of this in the morning.

        1. MLT

          I wasn’t actually thinking you would make him explain himself, so much as you might open a dialogue where you both might learn something. We all have blind spots and prejudices, places where we opine from ignorance. I can think of things I roll my eyes or frown at, that if I understood better, I might have greater respect for… reality television programs, certain newscasts, a particular artist… If I were to meet a practitioner in one of those areas, I would be most interested to learn more and expand my thinking. Perhaps you too can think of things you frown at, where you might roll your eyes or say something derisive without fully understanding.

          Of course, at the end of the day, we all have opinions, and any time we express them, it is possible we will offend someone in the room who thinks otherwise. Isn’t it great you leaned that this guy doesn’t care for your genre before you invested more time?

    2. A

      Honestly, I can’t take it seriously because it’s not original. You have all this creativity, why don’t you channel it into something that isn’t directly stealing someone else’s characters/plot/what have you? I don’t respect it because you’re using something that doesn’t belong to you to become popular in a community and I’m not down with it.

      1. Shell

        You know, I can respect that. Obviously as a fanfiction writer I don’t agree with it, but I can respect that someone feels strongly enough about creating an original piece that they don’t care for the idea of fanfiction. Fine.

        But derision? I’m assuming from your comment that you don’t read fanfiction, so I guess you’ll have to take my word for it, but there are many stories out there that match or exceeds the original canon in terms of writing quality, worldbuilding, character development, et cetera. You don’t respect that at all? A writer who has honed their craft to that extent isn’t worthy of respect despite their topic? That’s not even touching the fact that many famous “original” works are rewrites/adaptations of a previously-made work.

        I mean, if you don’t believe me that such quality fanfiction exist then I guess that’s that. But I cannot understand why, assuming you do believe those people exist, that you can’t appreciate them for their skill even if you don’t agree with their subject. It’s still writing after all.

        1. A

          I have read it for the same of understanding the phenomenon, and no, I still don’t respect people who take something that’s not theirs and run with it. In any other context it would be wrong to take something that does not belong to you and do as you please, writing is no different.

          The quality of the work doesn’t matter to me in this instance. If you can “match or exceed” the source material, claiming to be capable of that level of character development, narrative and world-building, just write your own.

          1. A

            That should say “sake,” not “same.” Autocorrect is a joy to work with at 6:00AM, obviously.

          2. Liz in a Library

            I have no strong opinions here either way, but I’m curious what you think of the borrowing of others’ characters/worlds/plots from the handful of fandoms that seem to be viewed as literarily acceptable.

            Off the top of my head, there are a number of continuations/retellings/pastiches of Austen, Sherlock Holmes, and Shakespeare that are reasonably well regarded and accepted (along with being formally published). Would you consider those to be taking something that didn’t belong to you? Technically, Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead or Michael Chabon’s The Final Solution would meet the criteria for fanfiction, but I’ve never heard anyone suggest those authors should stick to their own original ideas.

            1. A

              I have no say in how estates of dead authors handle their copyrights and leave that to them entirely, given that it does not belong to me and I am not their lawyer, although I do know that the attorneys for the Doyle estate don’t think it should be used without permission and I tend to agree with something one of them said (I may be slightly paraphrasing): to reduce literary characters to cardboard cutouts, parts of which can be removed, does literature a great disservice. I do not go out of my way to read these things and generally look on something unfavorably if I appear to have unwittingly stumbled upon one. If you have any creativity at all, channel it into something new and stop stealing from someone else at worst, or riding someone else’s coattails at best.

              And as Twilight has taught us all, something selling, becoming popular and being “formally published” does not necessarily mean that thing is actually any good.

              1. Jean

                Interesting question! I first thought I would agree with the Doyle estate attorney who said (to paraphrase your paraphrase) that people should keep their hands off other peoples’ ideas rather than reducing someone else’s literary character to a cardboard cutout suitable for collage or decoupage projects. But I’ve read one or two historical novels (I forget the author’s name or names; the work was based on the father of the family featured in “Little Women”). that made exceptionally penetrating observations of the human condition. And our modern culture is stuffed with other copy-cut-and-paste art forms:
                – Cindy Sherman’s photographic recreations of famous paintings, with an image of herself inserted
                – ironic reproductions of famous paintings with the original images replaced by reproductions referencing popular cultural or political trends (e.g., Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” over slogans such as “President Quayle???!”)
                – the current musical techniques of sampling and scratching
                – the musical group “The Capitol Steps” which has recreated popular songs with new lyrics customized to skewer contemporary political misbehavior
                – the decades-old custom of community theaters and private individuals revising key lyrics of Gilbert and Sullivan songs to include humorous references to local/contemporary/personal matters
                – stamping museum-exhibit images all over mugs, tote bags, mouse mats, and whatever else the museum-running professionals think the museum-going public might purchase.

                Which cultural critic said that a society gets the art that it deserves?

                1. Hellanon

                  My theory is that the bulk of the pre-1700s Western canon in art is either Bible or Classical-mythology fanfiction. So there’s that.

                  I’ve been writing fanfic since long before there was an internet – it’s just how I interact with things I like. “Stealing other peoples’ characters/plots” isn’t remotely close to the point; for me, it’s about spending more time in a world I love. So there’s that, too.

              2. Liz in a Library

                Interesting response, A, and fair enough. :)

                I agree with Hellanon below, though, that there is very little that is truly original in creative work. For myself, I don’t see a huge difference between fanfiction and other literary or artistic borrowing, and I think that kind of borrowing is unavoidable and nothing new.

                There’s just so much literature that borrows plot or characters significantly from other works, or from real people and real events (which just as much aren’t the property of that creator)…including Doyle’s work. I would very much have regretted not reading A Thousand Acres because it borrowed from Lear. I would have regretted not reading Shakespeare because he stole (plots and characters) unabashedly from everyone. But I totally see how others might view it differently.

              3. fposte

                What do you mean by “good,” though? Twilight is excellent at what it’s trying to do. People often want it to be doing something else, but that’s a different criticism.

                The ability to reach a large number of people is not a fault in a book, and there is no one single kind of merit.

          3. alter_ego

            I hope you’ve never watched House, Monk, 10 Things I Hate About You, Clueless, Psych, or West Side Story or read one of the literally innumerable Shakespeare retellings. What’s the different between the BBC version of Sherlock, and a Sherlock fanfiction? Hell, comic book writers are telling the stories of characters they didn’t come up with over and over and over again, rebooting and retconning when the original cannon doesn’t suit their purposes, but when someone does the same because none of that cannon represents them, or the types of relationships, friendships and characterizations that they want to see, that’s less worthy of respect?

          4. Elizabeth West

            WELL THEN LET ME BE GUILTY.

            Confession time!
            Rose’s Hostage was originally a fanfiction sequel to The Dark Knight. I literally walked out of the theater with it in my head, mostly intact. After three months of trying to ignore it, I caved and wrote it. I used it as a way to get back into the novel form.

            My family enjoyed it, LOL. It was the first time I let them read any of my fiction, and even my dad liked it and he doesn’t read ANY fiction (I made him watch the movie too). I did too, and there is some really good stuff in it, even if the overall writing isn’t all that great (too much head-hopping and now that bugs me). It was terrific practice. Okay, so it got a little naughty, but it was fun. :D I even drew fan art for the cover (badly–I can’t draw very well).

            I knew, of course, that I couldn’t publish anything about Joker and Batman and Gordon and Alfred. So I rewrote it. The entire thing. I redid the story, keeping the major elements, and revamped the setting, though Gotham’s Narrows heavily influenced my fictional city’s inner district, where the gangbangers and streetwalkers and dope dealers hang out.

            I will probably never do it again, because writing Rose’s Hostage gave me series characters of my own and an entire city’s worth of criminals to work with. Plus, I’m committed to publishing my own stuff and I really don’t have the energy to devote to both, nor am I well enough acquainted with any canon to mess with it much. But I don’t see it as a waste of time, because it was good practice. Working with a world with which I was already familiar let me practice keeping a character true to himself while stretching him a bit, and after a very long period of mostly academic writing, I needed to do that before I tackled a completely original work again.

            If someone wrote fanfiction of MY stuff, I don’t know if I’d mind or not. JK Rowling says she’s mostly okay with non-commercial HP stuff, as long as people keep the naughty out of it (because kids, ick). I would definitely care if they tried to sell it without my okay–that’s a paddlin’. Other than that, it’s not really an issue, and nothing is published anyway. I may feel differently later, but that’s later. I can’t know that right now.

      2. Not helpful

        There have been a couple of science fiction series I have read that are books written by different writers about the same subject, location and characters. It can be quite enjoyable to see how different people see the same characters.

        1. QualityControlFreak

          I agree. I’m a writer. My professional background is mostly technical, proposal, policy and process writing. At home it’s poetry/songs, short stories or just personal observations or musings at this point. I started a novel decades ago. Apparently I don’t have the attention span to be a novelist. ;)

          Something I have really enjoyed writing (and participating in) that might be considered unusual: live action role playing games. It’s like, you create your own world and recruit the people to play the characters. Then you turn another group of people loose in that world, with a certain job to do, puzzle to solve, etc. and watch the story unfold. (I have a very creative group of friends, some of whom are writers too. After a game we’ve often sat around discussing the experience and the players get the back story. It’s awesome to hear the different perspectives from the various players and characters.)

          1. Anonyby

            A LARPer? Ack! Back fowl beast! ;) *

            Besides fanfics (which I mentioned below), my friends and I get together every week for tabletop RPG games. Collaborative storytelling is an awesome experience. Sometimes we delve into our backstories, and other times we don’t. (We currently have a rotation of five games, plus various one-shots get thrown in the mix when a scheduled game can’t be played due to too many missing people or if we have enough for a different game, but that GM doesn’t have time/energy to prepare.) Our Deadlands game has definitely had plenty of character backstory influence (for instance, my character is existing in her personal fate-worse-than-death).

            1. Anonyby

              *And I’m just kidding! I have no grudge against LARPing, even though I tabletop. Heck, in my group there’s someone who LARPed before he split with that group.

            2. QualityControlFreak

              No worries. I tried tabletop and was kind of … meh. I think I’m just fairly physical, so I like physically doing stuff. I enjoy creating worlds with their own intrinsic history, stories and folklore and I’m lucky enough to have friends who want to play in those worlds.

              The best thing ever that I remember was a scene where the players had to find a certain document, and they had determined it was buried with a previous noble lord. So it’s night, and the leader of the party is in this crumbling graveyard with his arm up to the elbow rooting around in the old Baron’s grave. And the forest to one side of the clearing comes to life and asks him what he’s doing. He pulls his arm out and stumbles back, and the forest on that side steps into the clearing and asks why he’s doing that. In this case, I was the GM and had also created the costumes for the forest folk. As a non-player character who was acting as their guide, I got to see the world I had created come alive on a stage lit by lanterns hanging from the trees.

              1. Anonyby

                I GMed for the first (and second) time just this year, despite my group having started in 2010. For me, it’s definitely been an exercise in thinking on my feet. My group is very good at picking the Watermelon option when I give them A or B. lol (Nearly all of us have GMed at one point, though some have more experience at it than others.)

                I’m also not very good at staying in character, at least for the games. lol In our evil game, I’m playing a character that doesn’t give a **** about anyone and is rather stoic… But I crack up laughing all the time at others’ antics. Though I’ve been keeping myself mute in that game since we were in a magic storm that caused various effects, with my character getting bonuses but being left mute. Now I sign or text everything I need to say.

            1. Anonyby

              Then you might not want to GM a game (either LARP or tabletop) either. lol Anytime you give players options A, B, or C, they’ll inevitably choose Watermelon.

              And my group is made up of champion Watermelon-choosers.

              1. Elizabeth West

                Yeah, my gaming consists of mostly PC (though my ex-bf gave me a PS2 of his) games and following a walkthrough the first time I play it. Seriously, I cannot get through the Myst games without them.

      3. We've got dogs and valvoline

        I think there’s a lot of unoriginality around, then. I suspect that a fair number of writers – established, literary writers – will start with character A and change their name, maybe even their gender, add or subtract a character trait, and viola! No, not all of them, all the time. But they need a medical examiner for 4 pages – “hey, I’ll make him like Wilson from House, but he’s alcoholic.”

        I think fan fiction got a bad name when it was all gay stuff with Spock and Kirk.

        1. Anonyby

          That’s what 50 Shades of Grey is. It started out as Twilight fanfic, and then when it got really popular, the author was encouraged to publish it, so she changed the characters’ names for copyright reasons.

    3. Nina

      IA. I’ve been reading ff for a long time, and at this point, I don’t worry what others think about it. Different strokes for different folks. One reason Twilight gets so much press is due to 50 Shades of Grey being loosely based off of it.

      I have read some truly abysmal ff and on the flip side, I’ve read amazing stories that have brought me to tears. Like you said, in that way, ff is no different any any other fictitious story, because there’s plenty of regular fictional garbage out there. But what I really enjoy about ff is that it allows you to see new perspectives from stories you really love. Characters who would normally never interact get a chance to meet, or characters who die get a chance to live again and seek new adventures, and so on. And it is genuinely awesome of how much ff has grown as a genre over the past decade.

    4. alter_ego

      Hey, I don’t know if it helps, but I have a TON of respect for you. I read a ton of fan fiction, though, as an absolutely abysmal writer, I give nothing back to the community at all. Sure, there’s a lot of dreck fan fiction, but hey, there’s a lot of dreck in published novels as well, as well as on TV, and in movies, so I’m not sure why people are singling out just that one area of things. So thanks! Because some of my favorite “books” are fan fiction, and I’m so happy that there are people out there passionate enough to make it work, even without any promise of a financial reward.

      1. MLT

        I don’t know that fanfiction is singled out for derision. There is plenty of derision aimed at romance novels, anything James Patterson-ish, anything with vampires, graphic novels, anything with an Amish woman on the cover, science fiction, dystopian fiction, … People have their tastes when it comes to literature, and sometimes they are outspoken about what they don’t like. If you are going to be a writer, you will be subjected to the opinions of people who don’t like your genre. I think it goes with the territory.

        This happens in art and it happens in music, too.

        1. fposte

          Right. Twilight is right up there with Nickelback and Comic Sans for a derision touchstone, but it does the job it sets out to do superbly, as evidenced by all the readers who adore it.

        2. alter_ego

          I think, at least to me, the difference is that while people will crap all over stephanie meyer, they’re not crapping all over authors as a population. Whereas for people who dislike fan fiction, it doesn’t matter how original, well written, and transformative the work is, it’s still fan fiction, and therefore worthy of derision. As for people who are dismissive on entire genres, like Romance, or Fantasy, well, I take issue with them as much as I take issue with people who are dismissive of fan fiction. I think the derisiveness is rooted in the same, wrongheaded place.

    5. Anonyby

      Another fanfic writer here, and I feel for you. I’m lucky enough that I’m surrounded by friends who are accepting (and a couple of them read/write fanfics themselves, albeit for different fandoms than me). Heck, at one point my mom showed me a fanfic SHE wrote with a friend when they were younger, before the concept of “fanfiction” was known.

  34. Nina

    Does anyone have experience growing chocolate mint plants? I wanted to try them as a windowsill plant, but I’m not sure if they’re hardy enough for it or if it’s too late in the season to grow them.

    1. AnotherFed

      Where do you live? In the southeast US, mint varieties are pretty much weeds – they grow very well and will expand across your yard if you let them get a foothold. You’ll have no trouble with mint there, and will probably get 2.5-3 months of growing in before frost is a potential threat. That’s enough time to turn one of the small plants from the market/nursery into a small bush, but maybe not enough if you’re growing from seed.

    2. hermit crab

      Mints (and many of their Lamiaceae family members) are basically the perfect windowsill plants. I’ve had mint both indoors and outdoors in containers (to avoid the giant shrub takeover that AnotherFed mentioned), including peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, and probably some others that I’m forgetting. Most mints are really hard to kill — I’ve had spearmint come back from being almost totally dried out and shriveled. You can even train it grow it around a wire shape for a fragrant little indoor topiary, and it propagates from cuttings almost instantly so it’s fun to share with your friends. Enjoy!

      1. QualityControlFreak

        Lemon balm. Will take over your yard. I started mine in planters and it still escaped. It smells great though, and the bees love it.

    3. Nina

      Thanks for the replies. I’m in the midwest, where we have had a very mild summer. I’m going to see if I can find a mint plant that’s already been potted and see how it goes.

  35. Grey

    Has anyone switched from tobacco to an e-cigarette? I’m giving it some serious thought. How easy is the transition? What type of e-cigarette do you use? There seems to be too many options.

    I’m thinking of trying the lozenges for the actual nicotine and using a nicotine-free e-cigarette to help with the urge to puff.

    1. Dynamic Beige

      I have never smoked, but a friend of mine always has. She found when she switched to Vaping (as she calls it) that she liked it better than cigarettes because you get the nicotine without the bad smell of cigarettes. And she enjoyed the various flavours. She found that her lungs began to clear up, too. However, the “they don’t smell!” thing I do not agree with. After spending time in their house, I come away with this weird smell and feel kind of sticky (it’s hard to describe) which I think is because of the glycerine in the e-cigs. Better than cigarette smell but still ew. Even with switching, though, it hasn’t been a perfect “she’s never touched another cigarette” full conversion, she still goes back every so often but when she does, she is turned off by them so maybe eventually she’ll stop smoking. But give up the Vaping? Never. You’ll only be able to pry that nicotine out of her cold, dead hands.

  36. Come On Eileen

    I’m attending an email marketing conference in San Francisco this week, and every evening after the main event there will be several drinking/networking events you can attend. I always have high anxiety about events billed as “networking!” and I stopped drinking last year, so there’s no social lubricant to take the edge off. Plus I’m extremely introverted so the thought of having to talk with strangers after a full days conference just sounds draining. That said, the obliger side of me says my company is paying to send me to this thing and it’s always good to make contacts in my field (plus it’s usually good for me when I push myself a bit outside my comfort zone.).

    I’m thinking about giving myself a time limit in my head — i.e. Stay for 30 minutes and then, if it still feels awful, I can go back to my hotel room and chill.

    Can I assume we all kinda hate forced networking?

    1. hermit crab

      Yes, I think that is a pretty safe assumption. But because of that, it helps to remember that most of the other attendees feel the same way you do!

  37. Be the Change

    This is somewhat work related but more personal so I hope it’s okay for the weekend post. My SO and I work at the same organization. I get a lot of appreciation and support for my work. He gets close to zero appreciation or even notice for his (not exaggerating). Over time, this has led to him being completely disengaged, just going through the motions and accomplishing the bare minimum to keep the program running. I, naturally, have responded to appreciation and support by putting out more and more. Which means that our work hours and work commitments are quite out of balance. Many of our home conversations circle back to work, with him complaining about what a waste of oxygen the organization is and me trying to look on the brighter side. It’s…taking a toll.

    We’re both in rather specialized fields (although different) and finding new jobs is not easy; this is a truly excellent work situation for a couple like us and we both know how lucky we are. Also our ages work against us finding new situations, especially my SO.

    He used to be the most sparkly, interesting, sunshiny, outgoing person I knew, the life of any party and an absolute joy. A lot of that shine has been rubbed off and it breaks my heart to see him so crushed. He doesn’t even want to go out and find new friends any more, but depends on me for 95% of social interactions, which is certainly tiring for me.

    Sigh. Any ideas? I’d like to be the change — of course — but have no idea what change to make.

    1. Christy

      It sounds like he has depression. And you can’t change someone else, and you can’t fix someone else’s depression, as much as you might want to. I’m sorry you’re dealing with this. Could you suggest therapy for him?

    2. Not So NewReader

      While I agree he sounds depressed, it seems that the source of the depression is identified. He is losing parts of himself because of that drain from his job.

      You can ask him what he is willing to do to fix his situation. Tell him that it breaks your heart- let him know this is serious stuff. And it will impact his health at some point. (not “might”, but “will”)

      For yourself what are you willing to do to help him? Are you willing to move? Are you willing to take a cut in household income if he wants to do something else? You don’t have to answer here, these are just things to mull over before you have the conversation(s).
      This sounds like a quality of life issue and it may take changes for the both of you, in order to get to a different place. Maybe a start would be to get him reading AAM. This might get him thinking about many different aspects of his setting.

    3. TootsNYC

      I agree w/ the idea of investigatin counseling help.

      But this:
      “We’re both in rather specialized fields (although different) and finding new jobs is not easy; this is a truly excellent work situation for a couple like us and we both know how lucky we are. Also our ages work against us finding new situations, especially my SO.”

      Has he tried? Have you tried? Sure, it might be hard. But that’s not a reason to completely not do it.

      (Of course, I say this, but I also worry that if my DH, who’s been basically unemployed since 2001, went looking for work, the struggle would be so hard and so un-fruitful that it would actually make him depressed.)

    4. Be the Change

      Thanks, everyone. He has gone to the doc and there is nothing obvious like a vitamin deficiency. Saw a counselor for a while. Is applying for a new job (across the country, whew). Applied for an exciting opportunity that will at least give him a break from this grind.

      And yes, I’ve been very, very clear that the situation deeply troubles and hurts me.

      I am willing to do just about anything include move. I do need to be realistic about what HE is willing to do. He insists that he loves our life here — great house, great neighborhood, great weather — and that he’s PERFECTLY content because frankly he’s paid plenty to do not much and people don’t bother him.

      1. Not So NewReader

        Sometimes not doing much, not feeling like “I am making a difference” can be devastating to some people. It’s a basic human need to create, to improve, to make a mark. It right up there with food and water- it’s that basic. Sometimes people who feel they are not making a contribution can feel like a shell of a human being with no substance inside. May or may not apply to your hubby, so it’s just a thought.

  38. amanda2

    When you’re about to make a big change, how do you manage the anxiety/uncertainty you’re feeling about the change?

    I was recently offered a great job for a $20k salary increase, much more responsibility, greater advancement options, significant retirement benefits, and more. The problem is that it’s across the country from my family. I also just had a baby 5 months ago. My current job is a dead end and we’ve been struggling financially.

    When I told my mother, she freaked out. She’s been crying constantly for the past few days (so she says) and has sent me 2 long “how could you do this to us???” emails and otherwise I’ve heard nothing from her since. My sister also started crying when I told her and strongly suggested I was valuing my career over my family. I have yet to tell the rest of my family. The only person who has been supportive and excited is my partner.

    I now feel paralyzed with fear. Fear of making the wrong choice. Fear of hurting my family. Fear of taking a job and moving so far away and what if it doesn’t work out. I’m scared to tell anyone else in my family because I don’t want to hurt them. I’ve started to doubt that I can do the new job and make such a big move on a short timeline. All this doubt and fear has stopped me in my tracks. Now I’m worried that all the doubt and fear is because this is truly the wrong choice and not because of the reactions I’ve received.

    Any advice on how to sort this out and get a clear head so that I can feel good enough to start working on the many things I need to work on to get this move accomplished? I’ve literally been in bed all weekend, feeling like the weight of all is just crushing.

    1. Christy

      Your family sounds incredibly unsupportive, I’m sorry. I would stop thinking/hoping that your family might be supportive, and instead find other people who will be excited for you. Maybe a mentor or a non-local friend?

      And in terms of feeling good enough to get up and do work, just get up and start doing right now, and you’ll be accomplishing things, and accomplishing things will help you feel better.

    2. nep

      Wow. Congratulations on the job offer. And so sorry your family is putting all that on you.
      Truly, though — you’ve got yourself and your *own* family to honour and work for now.
      I hope you won’t be blocked by fear. I don’t know anyone who’s undertaken something new who didn’t have some fear or trepidation.
      You. Can. Do. This.
      It is not inevitable that your family’s reaction and remarks weigh you down — it’s how you receive them that counts. They can say what they will, be as they will — that does not change that you received a great offer and you’re seeking to improve things for you and your child.
      It might be difficult but not impossible. And as Christy says, as you move forward and accomplish things, the stronger and more empowered you’ll feel in your decision. Your. Decision.
      Wishing you all the best. Please keep us posted.

    3. MLT

      Ohhh, breathe! Here are few thoughts to give you some perspective:

      — You are making a decision for this moment in your life. Moving away now doesn’t mean you are away forever. Sometimes when we make a big decision, it feels like a forever decision, when we really don’t know what the future has in store. There is no tragedy here, so don’t buy into that message from your family.
      — You are exploring a new path. Life will present many of these, and you owe it to yourself and your nuclear family to see what life has to offer.
      — Families should support each others’ personal growth. When given the guilt trip that you are valuing career over family, remind yourself that what you are valuing is your personal growth and the sustenance of your nuclear family over staying intimately connected with your family of origin. And that is how it should be. If you stay, you may grow resentful over time, thinking of the opportunities you passed by.
      — Moving away (we are talking a plane ride here, not life on another planet) can be a real growth experience for your whole family of origin. You will write to each other more, which is a new kind of communication, and when you visit each other, it will be for a few days to a few weeks instead of a few hours. I have found this makes for deeper connecting.
      — This is a big change for your family. They expected to be daily or weekly participants in yours and your baby’s life, and that is changing. Their upset is understandable, but it is not your responsibility to arrange your life to meet their expectations. Acknowledge to them that you know this is hard, that it is hard for you too, and that together you will need to find ways to be close over the miles. My son lives 6000 miles and 6 time zones away, and sometimes we Skype during our dinner and his lunch! For a period I was the same 6000 miles away from my parents, and they ventured on to an airplane to visit New Zealand twice, which was a huge experience for them!
      — Moving away from your family of origin, even for just a few years, can be a huge growth opportunity for you. You may come back to them with new confidence, wisdom, and a better-developed sense of who you are as an individual as well as a mother.
      — Congratulations on your new job!!! There’s an organization out there that believes in you enough to wait for you to move there from across the country, and they picked you over all the other candidates and offered you a good salary because they think you can do this job! You will do great!

      Big hugs! Keep breathing!

    4. Sunshine Brite

      Your family doesn’t have to live your life. They aren’t the ones with your financial struggle. They aren’t in your dead end job. Yes, they want to be involved with your baby’s life more often then they’ll be able from across the country, but there are other ways to maintain relationships now. Your mother and sister reacted in an extremely self-serving way.

    5. Not So NewReader

      Fear of making the wrong choice: Research. Knowledge is power. Learn about the area you will be moving to, learn about the company more.

      Fear of hurting family: I hate saying this but, they are going to act hurt. That seems to be what they are going to do. I am not sure you can lessen that. As a self-check, are you scared of hurting them or are you scared of what nasty/heartbreaking thing they will think of to say? Yes, there is a difference.

      Fear of the job not working out: Okay, go to worse case scenario. Pretend the job does not work out. What is your plan, what are your options? The way to deal with a fear of a plan not working out is to have a secondary plan. You can even build plan C if you like. Part of your Plan A should include putting aside enough money to get back home if things do not work. Don’t touch that money for anything at all. Until you know you have a working, viable plan keep your expenses down so that you can bank money.

      Let us know how you are doing.

      1. TootsNYC

        Not So NewReader is right–the key to confidence is knowledge.
        If you’re paralyzed over something, then go into it more deeply. OK, so you do hurt family–what will it look like in 3 weeks? In 3 months? In 3 years? They’ll get over it. Now, you will lose the ability to see them all so easily and frequently. Lots of people in our world do that. Paint that picture in your head, envision yourself living with it. See how it feels–how the REALISTIC picture of 3 years from now feels.

        Ditto the “what if you can’t do this job” question. Can you learn? How unforgiving is your company? How much help would you get, even if it was only “time in which to mature”?
        And, what if you *did* get fired? It’s not a disaster–not an I’m-immobilized disaster.

        But get familiar with all these futures, including the in in which you stay put, and come up with some other income, and have family close by (but no adventure), and see how they feel.

    6. TootsNYC

      I’m sorry, I know you love her, but your mom is acting like a jerk right now. How hugely unfair and unloving and utterly selfish of her!

      Have you done the “voice a decision, and live with it for a day, and see how YOU feel” tactic?

      And, before you told your mom, how did you feel about the promotion? The move? The money?

      1. amanda2

        Thanks all who responded for your very helpful and thoughtful comments.

        @toots honestly, I haven’t even had time to be excited or proud about this new position, I’ve been too consumed with all the family response which has, in turn, made me doubt myself.

    7. Vancouver Reader

      I think you have to do what’s right for you and your family. Yes, it’s hard for your mom and sister, but they’re not having to live your life. Like Sunshine Brite said, they are being self serving and if you stay around because of them, you’ll end up (possibly) resenting them for not letting you do what you wanted and needed.

      My dad moved half way around the world and had the same sort of guilt trip laid on him. But you know what? By moving here, he was able to help out his family more financially, provided them an opportunity to immigrate here as well if they wanted to, and most importantly, provided us more of a chance to thrive.

    8. Elizabeth West

      Wow.
      This is YOUR life. You are an adult with a child (and I’m assuming, a partner or spouse). It’s not on you to make your family happy; they are adults and have to do that for themselves. You’re responsible for your own family.

      I don’t think you’re making the wrong choice; you’ve already articulated excellent reasons to take the job, especially if it’s something you think you’ll enjoy doing:

      –a great job for a $20k salary increase, much more responsibility, greater advancement options, significant retirement benefits, and more.
      –My current job is a dead end and we’ve been struggling financially.

      Try to think about these things instead:

      –What if it DOES work out?
      –What if you love it there?
      –If no partner or spouse, hey, new people. New friends, in any case.
      –Planes go both ways. You can visit. And, if they want to see you, let them get off their whiny arses and fly out there.
      –Your family sounds controlling; no more of them breathing down your neck.

      I’m sorry, but your family is being very selfish. I think it sounds like a wonderful opportunity.

  39. Allison

    I’m so angry and disgusted . . . I’m mostly just venting but I guess I will post a question at the end in case anyone wants to give advice. Or just commiserate if they’ve been in the same situation. Or send hugs because I need them.

    On Monday I was at a swing dance at a bar and this guy came in, said he stumbled across it and it looked like a lot of fun, and started flirting with me. Seemed like a decent guy, and since he was in town for a summer internship (graduate degree), and only in town for a couple more weeks before finishing up and going home, I figured it might be fun to exchange contact information and see what happened. So we swapped phone numbers.

    I decided not to look him up online, as it seemed like fun to get to know him the old fashioned way. So when he asked me out on a date Wednesday I went into it knowing only his first name what he’d told me about himself on Monday. And it was a very nice date, we went to a nice restaurant and, as planned, got to know each other better. Then we went to the Italian part of the city for dessert, had our first kiss by a fountain, made out, and he hinted at wanting to have a more intimate rendezvous over the weekend. It was all very exciting and I went home all happy and thinking it could be the start of something awesome.

    But then at work I had this nagging feeling that I needed to look him up, so I finally started a search. Started on LinkedIn, found his profile, and Googled his last name . . . and found a wedding registry with that name. Little more digging confirmed that he was, in fact married. Like, the wedding happened and they’re definitely still together MARRIED. So when I got home I texted him, saying I knew he was married, thought he was disgusting, and never wanted to see him again.

    Ugh . . . I’m mostly mad, also a little upset and disappointed that the guy who seemed totally amazing turned out to be a stinking pile of human garbage. He’s probably been hitting on women left and right during his internship and screwing around on his wife, and it sickens me.

    Should I tell his wife? And if so, should I do it ASAP or wait until he leaves to go home? Or at least a couple days before, so this isn’t weighing on her all week. If I was her, I’d want to know. Poor woman.

    1. Christy

      Definitely don’t tell her. No good will come of it. Maybe they have an arrangement, either don’t ask don’t tell on his internship or maybe they have an open marriage. I would totally disengage from him.

    2. QualityControlFreak

      I wouldn’t. I’d disengage completely. She may already know. They may have an open marriage. You just don’t know from outside. I would feel no obligation to insert myself into a stranger’s personal life, because although yes, if I were the wife I would want to know, I can’t assume that about another person. I don’t know their life or their feelings. To find out would be a buttload of research. I have neither the time or the inclination for that, plus I just really don’t want to know. Disengage. My two cents.

      1. Allison

        If they have an open marriage I doubt she’d get mad at either of us in light of me telling her, she’d probably laugh it off like “haha yeah, he’s allowed to do that, no big deal.” But usually in open marriages, 1) you’re still supposed to tell the person you’re married and that it’s open, and 2) generally the spouse has to give possible partners the green light. Open marriage doesn’t necessarily mean “do whatever you want,” they’re just more flexible.

        1. QualityControlFreak

          Oh I agree. I think that things should always be openly negotiated between partners. Whether that’s true in this case or not I’d have no way of knowing. And I agree that he should have been upfront with you. That kind of deception is just not okay. For me, it’s more about if I don’t want to see him ever again, I’m not going to involve myself in his life at all. No contact, not with him or his wife. Done.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      Agreed agreed agreed. I’m sorry it turned out to be such a disappointment, but you’re better off disengaging and leaving it be.

    4. nep

      Not your place at all to tell her, in my view. If he’s this brazen in his cheating, it’s likely she’ll know soon if she doesn’t already. You know nothing about their situation. I get your feeling of ‘I would want to know’ — but I don’t think you’ve got any responsibility to go there.
      Sorry this happened to you. Great that you found out early before things evolved.

    5. Stephanie

      Sorry, you went through this. This sucks. And I agree if he was in an open relationship (or otherwise had some sort of arrangement) the right thing to do would have been to disclose this upfront.

      That being said, I’m with everyone else. Leave it. The upside (vindication and exposing him to his wife) isn’t worth the downside (never ending drama at the very least). If he’s this brazen, his wife will eventually catch him.

    6. BRR

      Ugh I’m sorry that happened. I would leave it. For whatever reason, people in a monogamous relationship get mad at the “other person” even though in so many situations like your’s, it’s not your fault.

    7. Anonymous for This

      So, I was on the other end of this a few years ago. I was the wife. I didn’t know until about a month ago that it had happened.

      I don’t know her, so I can’t really speak to her preference, but if it were me? I would rather have known about it when it happened than have spent years trying to figure out what I had done wrong to make my (soon to be ex) husband not want to be at home or engaging with me at all, and what I could do to make him love me again.

      I would tell her.

      1. GOG11

        I was cheated on numerous times by my ex-husband and I wish someone had told me sooner. I was so trusting and naive that I never saw it, even though I probably should have, and I hated being the last to know. I don’t think it’s your responsibility, OP, but I wanted to know, and I’m glad one of the women came forward and told me (and then a series of them did).

    8. Anonymous Educator

      I don’t have a ton of experience in this area, but based on what I’ve read it would seem to make sense to send her some kind of message to let her at least know that he isn’t putting out the message that he’s in some kind of open relationship. I’ve heard about some “don’t ask, don’t tell” open relationships, but that doesn’t mean “don’t tell the person you’re flirting with that you’re married.” It means “Don’t tell your spouse all the details of what went down.” So, I’d say as long as you yourself don’t go into blow-by-blow details, feel free to let the wife know. If they have a deal, she’ll laugh about it with him and remind him to let people know he’s in an open relationship.

    9. And as I rise above the tree lines and the clouds

      Do you want to tell her because you’re truly concerned about her welfare? Or do you just want to punish the guy?

      If you don’t want to be involved with this guy (and, by extension, his wife), why would you want to tell on him and become even more entangled with this guy (and his wife)?

      These kinds of situations tend to work themselves out, over time. There’s really not much of an upside in your attempting to ‘help’.

    10. Elizabeth West

      Nope, stay out of it. She either knows and has made her peace with it (having married him anyway–and I doubt he was faithful before the wedding), or she will find out eventually. If the second thing, you’re likely to get the brunt of her reaction, and YOU didn’t do anything wrong here.

  40. The Other Dawn

    I’m a hero: I saved a little bird that was stuck in my bird feeder. I got him free and he’s fine. Click my name if you want to see the pic and blog post.

    I’ve been glued to TinyKittens.com the last few days. Both Tip and Sisko had their kittens. It’s so cute. Addictive too!

    Yesterday I helped out the cat rescue. We cleaned the whole foster room from top to bottom. Tough work but it was great to get my kitten fix; I no longer live close enough to volunteer regularly, but help out with the bigger things. I miss seeing the kitties every week. But there were 8 kittens for me to snuggle and play with before we got started cleaning.

    Anyone have any suggestions for snacks? Lower in carbs and sugar, preferably not nuts or cheese, since I’ve eaten so much of that lately. And I finally burned out on the celery and hummus. I need something new.

    1. danr

      fresh fruit and melons. fresh stringbeans, they should be good up your way for a couple more weeks. fresh pepper, fresh tomatoes… I think you see the trend.

    2. QualityControlFreak

      I really like fresh, raw, ice-cold veggies with ranch dip. Carrots, celery, broccoli florets, snap peas. Good with hummus too.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale

      I like plain Greek yogurt with cucumbers, avocado, lemon juice, olive oil and salt. That’s what I eat for breakfast. Take out the olive oil and/or the avocado and it’s still good.

    4. Kate R. Pillar

      Some of my office-drawer staples:
      Roasted chickpeas (googling should net lots of recipes).
      Fresh fruit, or applesauce or the like (you might be able to find portion-size containers with no added sugar – they are just becoming “a thing” here in Germany, so I suppose they must already exist everywhere else)
      Dried fruit
      Less for the office, more at home: Olives and pickled vegetables (gherkins especially).

      And very glad you got that bird free!

    5. AnotherFed

      I like fruit or firmer veg (squash, cukes, or zucchini) with prosciutto or another thinly-sliced, cured ham. The meat isn’t so healthy, but small pieces go a long way to making the veg more interesting, and when they’re thin slices it takes a lot to add up to even an ounce.

    6. The Other Dawn

      Thanks for the suggestions! My “thing” lately has been tomato and mozzarella salad. But I can’t eat that all day long. Well, I could, but I shouldn’t. Lots of calories in the cheese.

      1. fposte

        Have you ever oven-dried grape tomatoes? Just oil ’em up and stick them in the oven for a couple of hours at 200 degrees or so, until they start browning and raisining up. They are insanely good that way. No idea how long they keep as they never last me more than a couple of days.

  41. onnellinen

    Vancouver-based AAM readers – I know there are a few of you! Any insight into what the rental market like in Vancouver these days? I am looking for an opportunity to move back to be closer to family. Currently in Toronto, and still very much at the “poking around” stage. That said, since my family is near Vancouver, I would like to move back sooner or later.

    1. Cath in Canada

      I’ve heard it’s really tight – very low vacancy rate – so I’d start early if I were you. No idea about prices, sorry, but probably in the same ballpark as Toronto I’d guess? It depends on how close to the centre you want to be. Your best option might be to live near a SkyTrain station and commute in – the system’s pretty fast. I have a lot of friends who’ve moved to New Westminster, where it’s cheaper and you can be in downtown Vancouver in 20-25 minutes if you’re near a SkyTrain station. Or in Vancouver proper, close to a Canada Line station – the Oakridge or Marine Drive areas seem to be booming.

    2. Vancouver Reader

      My cousin is moving into a rental unit by Commerical and Broadway and she said her rent is going to be $1500/month. Like Cath said, if you can live further out, it might be worth it, but still, don’t expect really cheap rent anywhere in Greater Vancouver. Also, if you’re having to rely on Canada Line to get you downtown, it’s packed most of the time.

    3. schnapps

      Very low vacancy rate in Vancouver proper – lower than 1%.

      City of Vancouver operates a Rental Standards Database (google Vancouver rental database), to show which ones are problem properties, etc.

      If you could go to Richmond or Burnaby/New West, there may be more offerings (and in October, all buses will be one zone fares – skytrain and others retain their zones)

  42. M.

    Well… I have this friend that is the same age as me (28) and doesn’t have a drivers license. In my state, you can teach someone over 18 to drive when you are over 25 and have a license. Anyway, my old roommate had promised to teach this guy how to drive, and promptly forgot this. So it fell to me to teach him how to drive. We did the basics for a while and he felt good enough to go on the road. Got to a stop sign and he overshot. Well, there was traffic coming from our left and the cars weren’t making an effort to go around, so it would have hit our front end, I mentioned that he could back up a bit if he felt he needed to as I didn’t see anyone behind us (I know bad idea, I know). Well…. turns out there was a motorcycle that was very low to the ground behind us. He backed up into the motorcycle. No one was hurt, but there was over $1,000 of damage to the motorcycle as it needs new supports and brackets in the front. My bumper is all smashed in but its drivable (which I don’t care about). The guy’s wife showed up which was good, because the guy was angry (as he should be). She was like “hey you have insurance, we have insurance, we understand accidents happen”. The police filed a report.

    Honestly, I didn’t end up with a court summons so I consider it a win. And really I’m not teaching this guy to drive again. I’m done with having to help people.

    (Can my life just start getting better? Can I have a day without something happening? So far this week I’ve fixed a bad dye job crisis, fixed an internet billing issue, stayed up with someone suicidal who then tried to have sex with me, and put out various other fires all while trying to find work… I can’t deal with any of this anymore)

    1. Not So NewReader

      Ugh. I think anyone in your shoes would be feeling pretty taxed. I hope you are able to take some quality time for yourself very soon.

    2. Vancouver Reader

      Hope things get better for you soon! And your friend should really get lessons from a proper driving instructor, someone who has insurance for that type of thing.

  43. A.D. Kay

    So, yesterday I got to participate first-hand in a discussion that devolved into a live demonstration of what NOT to do on social media. It went down in a thread on my local Nextdoor(dot)com neighborhood group. Someone posted a notice about an assault on a woman in a nearby neighborhood, with the comment, “Come on guys! Stop beating your spouses, girls, friends, hookers. Enough! Go wail on a fence post or something!”

    Well, some joker named Andy thought the sarcastic “hooker” reference was for his own personal lulz, so he started posting comments like “Beating hookers is bad? I gotta say I was unaware…” and “So, beating hookers: good or bad?” Because violence against sex workers is so funny, amirite?? And completely missing the point of the post. The original poster and several other Nextdoor members, including myself, challenged this brilliant satirist about his attitude toward violence against women. Andy doubled down, telling us to get over ourselves and adding, “I guess we’re just going to beat this conversation like a hooker” (!) He never could explain the punchline to his supposed jokes, even though I asked him several times. “I won’t ever apologize if I’ve done nothing wrong. Thus, still not apologizing. You will all get over it.”

    The kicker: I found the guy on LinkedIn in less than a minute. He’s a tech support guy for a local software company–the same industry as me. How’d you like to have this guy as a coworker? If he saw me being assaulted, I wonder if he would first ask my profession before coming to my aid. Good thing I took screenshots. I wonder if the company HR department would be interested in seeing them?

    1. fposte

      I don’t think this rises to the level of job-related stuff, from what you’re saying, and I don’t think his HR would find them actionable. I’d dump the screenshots; they’re more likely to be feeding your anger than providing anything useful.

      (Not disagreeing he’s a jackass, though.)

    2. BRR

      The guy is clearly an ass but I don’t agree with you trying to ruin his life. I think it’s even a bit far to question if you he would come to your aid if you being assaulted. He thinks it’s funny and it likely won’t change. I don’t know how nextdoor works but I would suggest blocking him. In general I would try not to get vengeance on everybody who has a stupid opinion online.

      1. fposte

        Yeah, I think stuff has to meet a pretty high bar before it’s worth telling somebody’s work about it. I was thinking about what makes something meet that bar, and the questions I’d ask myself are 1) is the workplace explicitly associated with the post?; 2) is the problem with the post related to the ability of somebody to do their job?; and 3) is there a concrete, not abstract or hyperbolic, crime or egregious act committed or referred to in the post? I don’t know if I’d need all three, but I’d need at least one, and I’m not seeing it here.

        1. BRR

          Beautifully spelled out. The goal in mentioning his company’s HR is obviously to get this guy fired and it just doesn’t sit right witt me.

    3. Anonymouse

      I’d turn him in. People like that deserve a wake-up call. Perhaps if his job is in jeopardy he will finally stop to reconsider the garbage that comes out of his mouth (or in this case, the garbage that he types).

      1. Revanche

        I wish that were the case, truly honestly really do because these people are awful but I remember seeing what happened with one of the worst trolls of reddit being unmasked and fired. People actually rallied around him with support. Ugh.

        1. fposte

          And it’s like people getting doxxed and threatened during Gamergate–it didn’t make them think what they did was wrong, it strengthened their convictions. That’s not because their convictions were so pure; it’s because that’s how human psychology works. Punishing somebody to teach them a lesson just plain doesn’t.

          And on the other hand, I don’t think his company is going to pay much attention anyway; the comments have nothing to do with his job, and they’re hyperbolically offensive, rather than incendiary, in a way that’s far too common for a workplace to police private communication for. I think there’s a heat-of-battle thing happening here.

    4. Not So NewReader

      Some people don’t believe what they are saying, they just like watching people get upset. (I guess we don’t have enough upset in this world?) Not saying this to lessen the impact of what he said, but to point out that if people are responding to him then he is having a good day. He also gets to say more things to make himself look even worse.

      If he wants to unravel his own credibility, maybe just let him do that? At most, just remind him that he can easily be found on LI and that people around him are aware of his views. Let nature run it’s course.

      1. A.D. Kay

        At this point, I’m inclined to do just that. It was clear upon reading the entire thread that the dude was completely lacking in self-awareness and blind to his own entitlement. That’s bound to seep over to his professional life. Our industry is surprisingly insular, so he will probably end up shooting himself in the foot eventually.

    5. well . . . hmm

      We had a situation at work where someone turned in an employee who wrote several posts on an online site about how he could use company resources to ruin someone’s life completely if he wanted to. It was a front page story, above the fold and the guy still works at the company. Everyone was told to pretend it never happened and soon people won’t remember it (the company hopes). So even if you do turn him in, be prepared to deal with it if nothing happens.

      And after seeing nothing be done about the one in my company, I wouldn’t turn anything in to his employer. If it ever crosses over to something threatening or illegal, just go to the police. And take multiple screen shots.

  44. Persehone Mulberry

    I just got a call from my dad that my grandma passed away last night. She had been in hospice care for some time so it wasn’t sudden or unexpected. I’m glad all of my memories are good ones.

  45. Revanche

    I’ve been watching Supernatural backwards, sort of, started with Season 8, backed up to Season 3, and just finally went to Season 1 which I’ve been putting off because I was pretty sure it was too creepy for me. It’s hit me that it’s actually just as sad (the family stuff) as it is creepy with the Supernatural stuff and I really really appreciate some of the more lighthearted thematic episodes. Any other fans out there?

    1. Sophia in the DM

      I used to love Supernatural but stopped watching it season…6? The one that ended with the Angels falling from the sky. I’m a Dean girl, myself and find that it is sad, and I appreciate the mix of season and broader story arcs with Monsters of the Week, and in some of the MOW that are comedic (and loved the fa fiction shout out with the Chuck storyline)

    2. Sunshine Brite

      Me! Me! My friend and I love it. We’re mid-way through Season 10 because our schedules haven’t been lining up much lately. I wish I could go to the Supernatural Con that was coming my way but I have plans that weekend. I keep going back and forth on which character is my favorite. With all their great characters, I wish there were more strong females, Charlie’s probably the best.

    3. Persehone Mulberry

      We just started a few months ago. We draaaaaagged ourselves thru season one and almost gave up. I could not figure out why so many of our friends were crazy superfans. But then someone told us it gets better midway through season 2 so we stuck it out and yup, something clicked. We’re midway through season 3 right now.

      1. Revanche

        I heard the same! So I’m very glad I sporadically watched it starting from the later stuff. It’s not all solid but definitely better than the first season.

    4. KAZ2Y5

      Just check my name ;-) I was really fanatical about it for a long time. Jeremy Carver’s vision is not my cup of tea, but I will probably still watch it as long as it is on. It can really be a sad show at times – even the best lighthearted episodes usually have a bit of sadness.

        1. Sunshine Brite

          Netflix is only missing one season so far (which I may or may not have purchased on Amazon…) and they’re in production of the 11th now.

  46. Lindsay J

    I got a new car yesterday!

    I damaged my old car last week, and it turned out to be $2500 worth of damage just to fix the door so it would close again. It also needed a lot of other work, so I decided to take the $2500 and the money I got from trading in the car and put a down-payment on a new one instead.

    This was the first car I brought by myself (my dad helped me negotiate with the sales-person, etc for my last one) and the first car I’ve ever financed. I’m a little scared about now having a car payment, but I’m really happy to have a nice shiny new (to me) car.

    I got a 2014 Hyundai Elantra GT. It’s bright red.

  47. Ashley

    NOOOOOOOO! My daughter’s name is Olive. I am very protective of her name. I don’t want it to catch on!

  48. L

    Long-time reader, first-time commenter.

    I just graduated from college, and am hoping for some general life/outlook advice. After a number of personal and relationship set-backs in my home/university area (have lived and then gone to school here for 21 years), I’m feeling really ready for a change–slightly strangled and depressed in the post-grad doldrums. However, I’m not sure if that means picking up and traveling, leaving to volunteer on a farm for several months, sticking it out around here and looking for a new social circle/job, or just winging it and moving elsewhere (Chicago/DC/LA most likely) and hoping things fall into place…any advice? What did you all do in this position? The job piece of it is less significant than the general mental/emotional well-being piece of it–the work I do (tutoring) is something I could do anywhere, and I’m planning to apply to grad school in a year or two anyway. Pros, cons, etc.?

    1. misspiggy

      Giving yourself time to relax and really think through what you want out of life – both in the future and now – might be a good idea. How about the old chestnut of taking a week to go somewhere beautiful on your own and just walk, eat, sleep, and see what floats to the surface of your mind?

      1. Elizabeth West

        That’s a great idea. It will give you a change of scene without an immediate permanent commitment, and that can really help smooth out a knotty thought process.

    2. LCL

      My one big regret in life was that when I was at the place you are, I didn’t travel at all. Other than weekend road trips. I had good reasons, but boy do I regret it now.

  49. I Want to Tell You

    Alison, is there an issue with people’s ability to post right now, or are my comments just going to moderation without getting a moderation alert? I’ve tried to reply to my above thread four times in about 90 minutes but it’s not showing up, even after repeated refreshing of the page. I tried three times on my laptop and once on my phone. When I submit the comment the page refreshes, but my comment doesn’t show up.

    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      They went to moderation for some reason, but I’ve released them.

      Also, for some reason the page will only display the “you went to moderation” explanation if you enter an email address in the email field. If you don’t, it doesn’t. I have no idea why! I’ve reported it as a bug to WordPress.

    1. Cruciatus

      I’m not from there, but I went to grad school at Ohio University. You may want to try asking this again in next Saturday’s thread. While I was at school there I remember feeling like it took forever to get anywhere. But I was in grad school and less interested in some undergrad activities. Are you going to school there or working in the area?

  50. A Reader

    I normally don’t comment but I had to come and say I love your book recommendations, Alison and look forward to them! I am in the middle of reading The Night Circus and so far I absolutely love it! I also just purchased A Man Called Ove and can’t wait to start that one!

    So thank you for the wonderful recommendations!

  51. A Jane

    I read A Man Called Ove to review it for a magazine in the UK. I struggled at first because Ove is so grumpy, but as I got into it I really loved it. to me it shows you should be compassionate to everyone, because you never know what’s going on in their lives. And that there is goodness (sometimed buried deep down!) in everyone :)

Comments are closed.