weekend free-for-all – September 5-6, 2015

Olive Lucy cat treeThis 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: Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel. 20 years after a virus wiped out much of civilization, a small troupe of actors and musicians travels around what remains, with the motto “because survival is insufficient.” It’s full of flashbacks and characters who will haunt you, and there’s a comic book and a space station and it’s beautifully written.

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

{ 898 comments… read them below }

  1. AnotherFed*

    After the recommendation last week (or maybe the week before) on Lois McMaster Bujold’s books, I tore through her Chalion series and standalone fantasy. Anyone have recommendations for similar works? How is her sci-fi? I usually stay away from sci-fi books because I can’t stand the bad science in so many of them.

    1. Cat*

      Her sci-fi is very much focused on how people interact with each other and their society’s rather than bad science. I think most people who like the Chalion books like the Vorkosigan ones so i really recommend them. Maybe start with Cordelia’s Honor or Young Miles.

      I personally didn’t really like her Sharing Knife books. I thought the romance was a bit unappealing. But they’re well written and I know a lot of people like them.

    2. Sara*

      I always recommend that people start the Vorkosigan saga with The Warrior’s Apprentice. (I think it’s the first story in the Young Miles omnibus edition, all of my copies from the series are the old stand-alone volumes.) Barrayar is also great, but save Shards of Honor until after either Barrayar or Warrior’s Apprentice. (Shards of Honor and Barrayar are in the Cordelia’s Honor omnibus.)

      1. Artemesia*

        I think the Cordelia books are the best introduction to the series. I read that her next book will focus again on Cordelia. I am hoping for another Miles book although he has been rather prematurely moved to the Countship.

    3. Kay*

      I am very torn on the Vorkosigan saga. I really like some of them and others not as much. Anything with Cordelia in it is a win – so the first two books are terrific.

    4. The IT Manager*

      I love Cordelia and older Miles. Unfortunately in order to understand the older Miles book you’ve got to work your way through Warrior’s Apprentice which in not bad but merely good space opera.

      I would recommend Shards of Honor and Barrayar which deals with Cornelia and Aral. I love Shards of Honor even though it suffers from some symptoms of a first novel. Barrayar is amazing.

      Also a good start is some of her short stories. Mountains of Mourning which in included in various collections was my first intro to Miles and is a very good one.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I’m new to sci-fi, but I really like Robert J. Sawyer. His books are very character-driven. I especially liked his Neanderthal Parallax trilogy, where a man from an alternate universe where Neanderthals dominated comes through a portal into our world. I need to make a list of all the books I don’t have so I can hunt for them in used bookstores. :)

      He’s also nice. I sent him an email once and he answered me quite graciously. :D

    6. the gold digger*

      I have not read the books you mention (but now I want to), but my intro to sci-fi was with Harlan Ellison. His stories are not about science but about people. (And if I remember correctly, he doesn’t use weird names. I can’t keep track of names like Zork and Bylseldis – I need Bob and Sue or else I waste too much time trying to figure out who’s who.)

    7. Vicki*

      If you liked Bujold’s Chalion books, try anything by Martha Wells.

      David Eddings is also good.

      Jack McDevitt’s science fiction puts more emphasis on the people and the situation than the science (and I haven’t found the science to be particularly awkward in any of them, personally).

      L.E. Modesitt has written some interesting stuff. I loved his first Imagers trilogy in particular. (The second trilogy is interesting; I just liked the people better in the first one.)

    8. NacSacJack*

      OMG I love the Vorkosigan Saga series. It is to-die-for. Actually, I hate her Chalion series. I sat through two books of that series because I loved the Vor series so much. When the third book of Chalion came out, I read the dust cover and said, “Nope, not gonna read it.”

      PS I recommend Nathan Lowell’s Traders series. However, if you’re into the science, he’s not Isaac Asimov.

  2. Mimmy*

    I think I’m slowly warming up to my class! We had a lively discussion this past week on the reading, and our professor thanked us for a “strong first week”. I still think his answers to questions about the assignments are fuzzy, but I’ll figure it out. Also, the other two professors I had interacted with us in the discussions – this one isn’t doing that. But based on his collective feedback, it is clear that he is reading everything.

    I also took a closer look at some of the readings coming up, and it is exactly what I’ve been wanting to learn. I was just a little antsy last week because the material dealt with a topic that I’ve read about over and over and over again in other classes and online. But at least the posed question gave me the opportunity to think about it in terms of this particular course, which was beneficial.

    Finally, I’m really stoked about my classmates. To finally be with others with similar interests as me is pretty awesome!

  3. Aussie Teacher*

    Potty-training my last child this weekend (possible TMI ahead!). Exhausted from the sudden change from full-time SAHM to working three days a week, but my youngest was definitely ready to learn to use the potty (telling me when she needed a nappy change etc) so it had to happen.

    Day 1 was exhausting and not much fun, but Day 2 (today) has been great – apart from one accident first thing this morning, she went in the potty for the rest of the day and was actually taking herself there when she needed to go. Hopefully we can consolidate tomorrow before I have to go to work on Monday and leave her with someone else!

    1. Samantha*

      Just went through that with my son. Exhausting indeed! Sounds like your daughter picked it up really quickly – good for you!

    2. the gold digger*

      A friend runs a school for two year olds. She gives them M&Ms for going to the potty. One girl figured out the system pretty quickly and was going potty every ten minutes. My friend had to alter the reward system.

    1. Simplytea*

      I read so many books and this one was just an absolutely beautiful stand alone read! Great suggestion.

    2. Cat*

      I loved it. Hands down my favorite book that I read last year. Haunting is right. I was thinking about it for weeks afterwards.

    3. K.*

      Station Eleven is fantastic. Very haunting, great character development, beautiful writing. I’m not much for science fiction but I loved it.

  4. Cath in Canada*

    Very cute Facebook status from my sister-in-law this morning. They’ve just moved from Kyiv to Jakarta, with a 3 year old and 10 month old in tow. My 3 year old niece was apparently a bit confused by her parents’ explanation of the call to prayer that they keep hearing – she thinks it’s a call to play! I think this is a fantastic idea that should be implemented worldwide, stat.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      A call to play. I can get on board with that idea! Your niece is so young and she has such wisdom.

  5. Anonsie*

    I just landed my first salaried job after years of part-time work. I’m thrilled, but I’ll have to relocate, and I’m realizing that the town I’m relocating to has one of the most inflated rental markets in the country. Commuting in from somewhere cheaper isn’t an option. My job pays well by my standards, but not by this town’s standards.

    I’m realizing that living alone may not be in the cards here, and I may need to get a roommate.

    The thing is, I feel embarrassed to be a grown, professional adult in my 30s who needs a roommate. Obviously, that’s unfair. There’s nothing embarrassing about needing roommates. I’ve been there most of my life. But I can’t help but feel like I’m moving backwards, going from having a wonderful life living alone back to living with strangers like I did all through my twenties. I’m wondering how others in this position have dealt with this: the logistics of finding a decent roommate when you’re not from a place and too old for Craigslist, and also, I guess, the disappointment of not being out on your own anymore.

    1. AnotherFed*

      Can you manage the down payment for a house? If the rental market is good, then you can make mortgage off of the roommates. One of my friends from college did this at her first job after school – I was skeptical, but she loved it. She got to pick her housemates, house chores were split amongst the residents, and mortgage was covered from people renting rooms – she only had to pitch in her own money when a room was vacant. She moved 8 or 10 years later, but by then had years rent-free (I think she kept housemates until she got married because she they became good friends and she liked the company) and enough equity in the house that she had a good chunk of $ for the next house.

      1. AcidMeFlux*

        Buying is an option, but if the rental market is that expensive, buying might also be. Anyway, I wouldn’t consider buying in at least the first year until you decide how much you really like living there. Don’t consider living with a roommate a step backwards. The economy has gone through such changes in the last decade that what was considered normal has gone through huge changes. Lots of adults in their 40s and older are also sharing a home. The trick is to do it with adult behavior and standards.

      2. Jazzy Red*

        This is not a bad idea. I can’t afford to rent a house in my neighborhood because my mortgage payment is $250 less than the going rental rate.

        OP, look into buying after you’ve been there a while. You’ll need to get to know the neighborhoods before you make a long term decision like that.

        If you are a church goer, you might find a suitable roommate there. Make friends at work, at the gym, any place you go, and network for a roommate with them.

    2. Hellanon*

      Chances are there are a lot of people in your position if the rental market is hot in the city you’re moving to. Another thing to think about is that, in high cost of living areas, a lot people who own their own homes/condos may also be renting out spare bedrooms – I do this, as do a lot of my neighbors, because the extra income is either nice or necessary.

      I’ve gotten some of my tenants via referrals and some via craigslist, and what I’d caution you to do is to have an honest conversation about expectations with anyone you’re considering renting from, i.e., don’t just look at the room, the building, the neighborhood – talk about cleaning, talk about guests, talk about drugs/alcohol use, talk about social expectations… it’s the best way to avoid a mismatch. And listen to your spidey-sense: if it’s telling you something won’t work, it probably won’t.

      Finally, get everything in writing – the rent, the deposit, the utilities, any bottom-line rules, the notice period. It’s a business arrangement; treat it like one. There’s no shame in having roommates, and it can be nice to not be completely alone in a new city…

      1. the gold digger*

        Although I would not recommend living with my inlaws, I have suggested to my husband that they let someone live for free in their spare room in exchange for doing light housekeeping. My inlaws can’t even put their own trash and recycling out (although in their defense, those empty bourbon bottles are not light).

        There might be situations where there is a nice widow or widower who wants to stay in a home but can’t manage shoveling the sidewalk, etc. If these are things you would do anyhow, doing them in exchange for no or reduced rent might be a great deal.

    3. Anonymous Educator*

      the town I’m relocating to has one of the most inflated rental markets in the country. Commuting in from somewhere cheaper isn’t an option.

      Maybe I’m guessing wrong but sounds like San Francisco.

      No advice, unfortunately… just commiseration. I’ve had a “roommate” (my spouse) the entire time in the Bay Area, and there would be absolutely no way for me to afford even a studio apartment by myself.

      1. Kethryvis*

        Yup, my thoughts exactly. i don’t live in SF proper, but in the South Bay and the rental market is beyond ridiculous.

        OP, don’t feel bad about needing a roommate. There is a LOT of that here. The only reason i don’t have one is because i’m lucky enough to be in a rent controlled unit, so my rent can’t do the super skyrocketing that a lot of other places do. That’s not to say my unit isn’t overpriced (it is, for what it is) but it’s still in the realm of affordability.

        Ask about rent control if the property looks older, that might be a thing. That’ll at least let you be able to plan for future rent increases.

    4. Stephanie*

      If it’s an inflated rental market, you will be far from the only 30-something in need of a roommate. When I was still in DC, I knew plenty of 30-yos with roommates.

    5. Dan*

      It’s all about choices and tradeoffs. I have my own place in the suburbs. If I moved closer into the city, I’d pretty much have to have room mates.

      In fact, even if I didn’t “have” to have roommates, I couldn’t justify an extra $1000 or so a month as a renter.

      High COLA areas are really rough, and hard to understand until you live in one. I’ve been in my current place for 7 years, and have spent about $100,000 on rent. Ouch.

    6. Fleur*

      I feel your pain. I live in an area with horrifically high rent, where you’re either paying out the nose for a shoebox to live in if you’re lucky enough to beat out all the other people competing for said shoebox (there are bidding wars! wtf!) or you have to go with 3-4 roommates. I just like my privacy and my own space too much for that, so I live further away and suck up the 1.5 hour commute. If you have public transport options, I feel like that’s more viable than driving because you can nap, read books, and relax a bit during that time, but it’s definitely not ideal. It’s about how much you value your own space ultimately.

    7. Sprocket*

      Try roommate dot com, people post profiles etc and it’s a way to introduce and learn more before committing

    8. JC*

      Just like someone else said on here, I live in DC and wouldn’t think it would be all that odd to be 30+ with a roommate. I’m thankful that I have never needed a stranger roommate here because I moved here with my husband, but it was only recently that we in our 30s could afford to rent a *gasp* 2-bedroom apartment rather than a 1-bedroom for the two of us.

      Have you explored the option of living alone somewhere tiny, if that appeals to you more than a roommate? In DC at least, rent for a studio in some still-decent neighborhoods isn’t much more than rent for half a two-bedroom in slightly more desirable neighborhoods.

  6. Anna Moose*

    So, we’re visiting the in-laws this weekend and have arrived to the same home improvements that need to be done. Things like hanging curtains and replacing all the door knobs after they were removed for a painting project. It’s been more than a year since we last visited. They’re both retired, but my mil has been recovering from an illness and my fil is just a procrastinator. How do we approach them and say we would like to help without hurting their feelings? Or should we just leave it alone and enjoy the weekend with them?

      1. Anna Moose*

        I agree. I come from a family where if things needed to be done, you just did them. My in-laws are sensitive people though.

        1. The Cosmic Avenger*

          That’s interesting…when I visit my MIL, she has a to-do list for me! (I <3 her, so I don't mind.)

    1. Hellanon*

      Heh. When we’d go visit my grandparents at their beach, my grandfather would be waiting at the foot of the driveway with a list of things for my dad to do!

      1. the gold digger*

        When my husband visits his parents, they give him a list. They are too busy drinking to do their own home repairs.

        When my mom (and when my dad was alive) visits, she comes with her own toolbox and gardening equipment. She gets bored if she isn’t working. She stayed a week with me in Memphis once. I went to work every day and came home every night to find more projects done – things I hadn’t even thought of doing, like tightening the screws on the doorknobs and replacing the missing screws.

    2. Claire (Scotland)*

      I’d say doing so in a “hey, would you like us to give you a hand with ______ while we’re here?” manner would be best. Then accept their response and go from there. Don’t argue if they say no, just let them know you’d be happy to help (or to take care of it for them) if they’d like, and change the subject.

      1. Anna Moose*

        It’s the accepting the “no” response that would be hard. It would only take us a few hours to do this for them. All the siblings & spouses are here so it wouldn’t take that long if we all pitched in.

        1. TL -*

          Can you frame it as something you’d benefit from? Like, oh, we’re wanting to brush up our home renovation skills – would you mind letting us replace your doorknobs?

          Or, we’re trying to teach our kids some basic life skills – would you let them hang the drapes (supervised?) It’d be such a great opportunity for them!

        2. Realistic*

          “Family bonding! We’ll take care of these pesky projects as a family, but will you please (cook this, bake that, get out the photo albums, write down family recipes, go to beloved bakery and get childhood favorite cookies — something that they can do to feel valued) while we knock out these items?”

    3. BRR*

      I would do the do you need help with anything while we’re here or what can we do while we’re here. To counter the no say you’re doing it because you want to thank them for hosting you or you want to help them for all they did as parents.

  7. Nonny For This*

    Four days ago, termite ate through my apartment wall. Since then, we’ve literally been watching them tunneling up the wall bit by bit. The landlord sent someone out to go “Yup, that’s termites!” three days ago, and we haven’t heard anything since. When I’ve called to ask what the heck is going on, I get told, “Oh, well, we’re working on it.” It’s now Labor Day weekend, so I don’t think anyone is coming until Tuesday at the earliest.

    I’m concerned that since the termites are now building on the surface of the wall, they may eventually get to our furniture. We’ve also started noticing more termite holes on different spots, so apparently they’ve infested the whole length of the wall. Ideally, I would like the landlord to get someone out here today to deal with this, but if that’s not possible I would at least like to know what their solution is going to be and when it will happen.

    Does anyone know if we have any legal rights in this situation? In my mind, this is pretty close to violating implied habitability, but I am not a lawyer. We’ve only been here three weeks, clearly the termites have been here longer. Also, has anyone dealt with termites and has an idea of what we might be looking at here in terms of treatments? Are we going to have to vacate for fumigation?

    We also had a man fall into our walk-out and injure himself (according to the cop who showed up on my doorstep yesterday) so clearly this is just a terrible week to live here.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      IANAL, but I’m pretty sure your landlord has to keep the building up to code & I’m just hazarding a guess that termites eating through the wall violate the local housing code. Try calling 2-1-1 or your city administration number. Someone at one of those numbers could refer you to assistance.

      You should be prepared that the building could be deemed uninhabitable or even condemned and you’ll have to move out fairly quickly, but most cities will try to work with the landlord to make the fixes without dislocating the tenants.

      1. Hellanon*

        The only way to truly deal with termites is to tent the building – it’s a lot of prep & post-fumigation cleaning, and 2-3 days out of the unit, but all insect life will be dead at the end of it. You can’t spot-treat the entire structure, and imo those heat the walls/citrus spray outfits don’t do a thorough job. Tenting won’t fix the structural damage though, and that could be severe if you’re seeing them eating through walls and not just noticing damaged window frames & door sills. Might be worth getting a termite inspector out on your own dime to document the damage, if you’re planning on fighting your landlord and/or taking a case to your city housing inspector…

        1. Nonny For This*

          I would do that (and honestly, probably should), but me and all my roommates are living paycheck-to-paycheck right now and just don’t have the money for an independent termite inspector. I honestly don’t know what we’ll do if we have to leave for a few days, even.

          1. Lionness*

            In most state, if you have to leave for a day or two for repairs, your landlord has to provide lodging.

            1. Alston*

              You may be able to call a city inspector who will come and verrify (for free) and then has the power to make your landlord take action. Might piss off your landlord, but works. What state are you in?

    2. BRR*

      You’re going to have to be mildly aggressive about this because termite can cause a lot of damage quickly. In speaking with your land lord you need to ask for dates and follow up. This is a hazard and it’s not good enough for “we’ll get around to it.” You need to ask for when they’re going to do things and if they say something like “we’ll need to call someone” ask when and ask to be notified when they do it. If they say a week you can say you need someone here sooner as it’s a hazard. Educate yourself about terminate extermination. If your landlord says they will do A and A isn’t going to be enough you can say that A isn’t enough and they need to do B.

      Check state and possibly city and county tenant laws. At a certain point you can likely withhold the money from your rent in certain circumstances to fix things. Because you haven’t been there that long, I would push for them to pay for any lodging you need if you need to vacate for a little while. I would also look for other places in case. You might need to just say, “This is a major issue that you didn’t disclose, would you agree to mutually breaking the lease, return our deposit in full, and we’ll just move out while you fix this?”

      1. Nonny For This*

        Thanks, that’s all great advice. (Un)fortunately, our landlord owns the majority of real estate in this city, so I’m hopeful that if we did have to move, they would give us a vacant apartment elsewhere so we wouldn’t have to search one out.

        This whole thing is just amazingly stressful.

    3. Mimmy*

      Wow, that’s just nuts. Are they using the Labor Day weekend as an excuse for not getting around to fixing the problem?

      I’m not too familiar with termite infestation – I probably would’ve just assumed the slow response was due to the holiday weekend and brushed it off, but from what everyone above me is saying, this sounds like something that can’t wait until Tuesday.

      I would take pictures of the increasing infestation – time stamp them if you can, and show them to your landlord (send them or bring them in person if he’s on the premises) so he can see the extent of the problem and how quickly it’s escalating.

      1. Nonny For This*

        I don’t know what’s going on to cause the delay. The only person I can get ahold of is the front desk person, who obviously doesn’t know anything. The first time I called, she said that their management hadn’t made up their mind about what they wanted to do, and the second time she said pest control hadn’t gotten back to them with a plan yet. IDK what to believe. We’ve got less of a human landlord and more of a bureaucratic morass, so it’s difficult to get to a real person who can help. I was going to try to get the number of the pest control company to harass them instead, but no one’s in this weekend anywhere.

        We do have timelapse photos (mostly because this is truly extraordinary–if it wasn’t my house I’d be in awe at the wonder of nature) and I’m going to email them to the company today so it’s in their inbox when they get in Monday or Tuesday.

        1. BRR*

          Do you have an emergency maintenance number? As I said above, I’d be pressing this. It’s a pretty big deal.

          1. Sparky*

            If you literally can’t wait for the landlord to figure out something and do it, I think you can get it handled and take the cost out of the rent. Are there any tenants groups where you live? The Bay Area had great support available when I lived there. Good luck!

    4. Student*

      Your home is not safe to inhabit. It’s infested! What you’re describing is way past a mild problem, it’ll require major termite removal efforts, major repairs, and it may very well have already infested your personal property. They can easily damage buildings enough to create safety issues.

      You should be yelling about this. Demand a different unit, at minimum, since they’ve obviously let one to you with a substantial infestation. Better choice would be to break lease for their failure to provide a habitable apartment and immediately find a different apartment complex entirely because their response to this is a Very Bad Sign.

      If you have any potential avenue for legal recourse, pursue it. Check to see if you can get a free legal consult through a university, if you’re a a student. If not, borrow money to talk to a lawyer. It’s worth it – you will be paying an astronomical amount of money to these people over the course of a lease, and you don’t want to do that to live in a termite-infested apartment.

      1. angel tears*

        I am going to have to agree with this aggressive approach. There have to be contractors (or whatever termite experts are called) available on an emergency basis in your town. I’d get pushy with your landlord. It’s only Saturday (night) and it’s ridiculous to wait until Tuesday to “see” if they contact you.

        1. Sparky*

          Dealing with the building collapsing on the tenants will cost the landlords more money in the long run; this needs to be handled now.

          We used to have a segment on the news where this guy would expose bad business owners. A landlord and situation like this would have been just the thing to put on the news. Is there any way of forcing them into action with public exposure, or the threat of the same? Are there neighboring buildings not owned by the landlords? Those owners should care a lot about the infestations going on next door.

          Good luck to you!

  8. Anon4This*

    I’ve been thinking about getting rhinoplasty for 5+ years now. Nothing too drastic, just reducing the prominence of my nose so it stops overshadowing my other features. I really dislike the way it looks, especially in pictures, and I’m guilty of using those photo editing tools to make it look smaller on social media. But it’s more of one of those catches my eye in the mirror and I start to nitpick, than the all consuming won’t leave the house because of it type of things.

    I have the funds saved up to do it and I think it will make me happier and more confident. Still, it feels a bit taboo and I know there are risks. Has anyone gone through something like this? I’m in my mid 20s and it would be my first time doing anything like it; I’ve never even gotten a tattoo or dyed my hair before. I almost feel like once I get it done, I will have wished I would have bit the bullet and done it sooner. Also, I think I will want to keep it on the DL for the most part, and I’m hoping I can just take a vacation and have it done without having to tell anyone at work about it. Any advice? I’ll try and stay active commenting back! Thanks!

    1. Fantasma*

      I’ve also considered doing this because my nose is crooked (thanks to a childhood softball injury) and did a consultation with a doctor. It’s totally doable if you want to complete recovery during a vacation, according to my doctor. He recommended scheduling for a Thursday and taking Friday and the following week off.

      The only reason I haven’t done it is I’m saving up and want to do it next year after maximizing my HSA.

      1. Muriel Heslop*

        I had my nose done in my early 20s to repair a high school softball injury. I am so glad I did it!

    2. K.*

      I haven’t had one (or any cosmetic surgery) but one of my high school classmates did right after high school. Her nose was crooked (I think she’d broken it), now it isn’t. She was thrilled. I had a colleague who had a tummy tuck; she said her skin was still stretched out after the birth of her kid 14 years before, so clearly it wasn’t snapping back. She was very open about it; I knew she was having it because she told me. She said the recovery was worse than expected (she was out for a few weeks) but has no regrets.

      I say do copious research, find someone board certified, get some consultations, and go for it when you find a reputable doctor you like.

      1. LSP*

        What K. says. Also, make sure the pictures you see (I believe a doctor takes a pic of your current nose, then an “after” picture of what it should look like) are realistic and would make you happy.

        I almost thought I had written in! Never tattooed, never dyed hair, nose job wishing but never bit the bullet girl here! A smidge older than you, but I would totally do it. Still probably would do it…and totally take a staycation afterwards, watch Netflix, eat pizza, organize my apartment using the KonMari method, and online window shop.

    3. Alston*

      If you want to, do it. I know someone who kept putting it off and when she finally got it done couldn’t believe how long she waited.

      I haven’t had a rhinoplasty, but I had a deviated septum and sinus surgery at the same time, recovery was a little gross (more snot than you think a person can produce) but not too bad.

      1. Nashira*

        Yeah, I had a septoplasty and my turbinates reduced as part of jaw surgery. The stuff that came out of me after was gross, but breathing through my nose was worth it! I never could before the surgery.

      2. the gold digger*

        My mom had that! She had a deviated septum and asked them do do her nose while they were at it. (I liked her old nose better – there was nothing wrong with it.)

        After the surgery, any time she was in public with my dad, he would get the dirtiest looks. So unwarranted – my dad never lifted a hand to my mother or to us. (He spanked me a few times before I was five years old, then decided that hitting his own children was not a good idea. After that, it was kneeling in the corner or some other punishment that fit the crime better, ie, one time after I had slammed the door repeatedly, I had to go though the house ten times, opening and closing gently every single door. No more door slamming after that because the punishment was just too much hassle.)

        1. LCL*

          The boyfriend took great care of me when I had sinus surgery, but wouldn’t go out in public with me until the black eyes were gone.

    4. QualityControlFreak*

      I haven’t had rhinoplasty, exactly, but I did have a surgery where they went in through my nose to pop a piece of my skull back in place after head trauma. It was very, very uncomfortable … or as the plastic surgeon put it, “yeah, we beat up on you pretty good.” I also lost my sense of smell, though that could have been due to the injury. I remember lying in recovery, miserably sick and in pain, and thinking “people actually do this on purpose!” But YMMV.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      I have not done it but I know one person who definitely did and I saw the aftermath and another person who did it on the DL like you’re planning, but IIRC they were out for more than 2 weeks. I think a lot is going to depend on how you naturally recover and how much work you want done. You’re also going to need someone you trust in your life to go out and get your groceries — or sign up for a service. I haven’t been very happy with my nose, it was something my family teased me about (and not in the nice way) but after seeing what someone looks like two weeks after a nose job… nope. My nose is great!

      Here’s the thing: if it bothers you, then it does. It’s something you’ve obviously thought long and hard about and planned for… so own it. People who knew you before are going to notice and they may ask. If you don’t fully recover by the time your vacation is over, there’s no point in being all “Oh, yeah, first day of my vacation, I got into a car accident…” People are going to think whatever they think about it. It’s your nose, on your face and you have to live with it, not them. So if they think you’re shallow or vain or silly or whatever, that’s their problem.

    6. Mimmy*

      I had it done when I was 17 – I’d needed surgery for a deviated septum and sinus issues anyway, so it was decided to also do my nose at the same time because it had grown a bump due to the weight of my then-super-thick glasses. For me, it was a miserable experience. IIRC, the surgery took a little longer than expected. I was sick as a dog in the recovery room and that night when I came home (which in hindsight might’ve been more from the septum surgery and the anesthesia side effects), and I had a splint covering my nose. Also, my eyes got extremely bruised – you’d think I’d gone a few rounds with Mike Tyson! Amazingly, though, I don’t remember having any major pain…I think I took the prescribed pain meds maybe once.

      Was it worth it? Well….yes and no. The rhinoplasty was not my choice (I don’t want to get into that) and I was scared to DEATH as that was my first major surgery since infancy. I don’t think anyone really prepared me for what to expect during recovery – both in terms of the septum/sinuses and the rhinoplasty. My brother had had the septum/sinus surgery a few years before me, and his recovery wasn’t fun either.

      But, I WILL admit that, in hindsight, I’m glad that I didn’t go into adulthood with a nose that I probably would’ve been self-conscious about. Whether I’d voluntarily go in for rhinoplasty is hard to say though.

      YMMV: My rhinoplasty was 25 years ago and was in combination with two other nasal procedures. Recovery won’t be fun, I’m sure, but since you’re in the mindset of wanting it done, you’ll likely handle it much better than I did. Yes, carefully research and speak with doctors you’re considering…ASK QUESTIONS!!! It’s important that you are comfortable with him/her and with the process.

    7. Zookeeper*

      I had plastic surgery done last year and I wish I had done it years sooner. I obsessed over my appearance a lot and felt horribly insecure. I’m a lot happier now and way more confident. My advice is get multiple consultations, go with the doctor that talks to you and not at you, stay local for the procedure (in case of complications), and find out what the policy is in case of any problems.

    8. Rhino Reader*

      I had rhinoplasty when I was 19 and I am so happy I did! I had a huge nose before and it was scaled down to a moderately big nose. The surgeon had originally planned to make it smaller still but my mother said she thought it wouldn’t fit my face with what she called a “ski jump nose”. Seen from my profile, my nose used to be slightly convex, and he proposed to make it slightly concave, but I asked him to simply make it straight, and I’m really glad I did, because I think my mother was right. Since then I have had what my SO refers to as a Greek nose and he considers it to be one of my best facial features which is kind of odd to hear for someone who used to hate their nose!

      Regarding keeping it on the DL, I had to wear a protective thingy on my nose for a week, but most of the swelling and all of the bruising was gone by that time, so after the week was over you couldn’t tell. Apparently age matters here though. The younger you are, the faster you heal.

      To my knowledge, no one has ever guessed that my nose was done, but of course there are people whose nose jobs don’t turn out quite as well. My surgeon was supposedly the best one there was in Northern Europe (this was not his own claim, but the claim of a surgeon in my own country who told me I should have my nose done by him because it was a tricky nose and I would be in the best hands if I went to him), so I guess I can recommend saving up for the best one you can find.

      Oh, and before I had the procedure done, there were people who told me I didn’t need it and that I wouldn’t be able to stop at the one procedure; I would get addicted to chasing a temporary beauty surge and end up looking like Michael Jackson. Yeah… That didn’t happen. I had my nose job, loved the results, went through my 20s feeling much more confident than I ever did in my teens and haven’t had anything else done since then.

      So I say go for it! :)

    9. Sparky*

      Maybe consult several surgeons, to get a better idea of the whole process? I read or saw on t.v. someone who thought they needed their nose reduced to fit their face, and their surgeon convinced them to get a chin implant instead, and fixing the weak or receding chin brought the nose and other features into balance. Something to consider, although I think this is rare. Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

      1. Rhino Reader*

        I’ve heard about these cases too, where someone thinks they want rhinoplasty to reduce the size of their nose but really it’s the chin that needs to be enhanced to balance things out. Definitely something to consider.

    10. Beezus*

      I had a cosmetic dental procedure done this year (in my early 30’s) that I had wanted but demurred about since my teens. I built it up into a way bigger deal than it needed to be and waited way way way too long. The only thing I regret is not doing it years ago. My advice is to do your research, save and plan for it, but don’t feel like you need to justify it to yourself or anyone else.

    11. the gold digger*

      Not a nose job, but I am going to get my eyelids done. I never thought I would have thought about plastic surgery, but a few years ago, my mom had her eyelids done. I am pretty much a physical clone of my mom and know that where she is now, I will be in 20 years. My eyelids have always been a bit droopy and are getting worse. If I am going to have to have the surgery anyhow (she had it so she could see!), then I might as well do it now while it will benefit me professionally. (I don’t think it is an advantage for a woman to look old in the corporate world.)

      My friend L had the same surgery a few years ago and she is six years younger than I am. I thought she was gorgeous already, but maybe when you have been beautiful your whole life, you see flaws that others don’t. She had her surgery the Thursday before Thanksgiving, taking off that Thursday and Friday and then Thanksgiving week. She then spent a week working from home. She was healed by the time she went back to the office.

      You are much younger than either of us, so would heal a lot faster. I say do it.

      1. LCL*

        If your doctor will go on record that your condition is affecting your vision, you might be able to get the procedure covered by your insurance.

      1. Stargazer*

        I can let you know in about a month and a half! Getting a mastectomy with reconstruction and going from a B cup to a C cup. Because why not? :)

      2. Catherine from Canada*

        Not an enhancement but I had a reduction done once I was sure I was done having kids. (From a E to D) Best thing I ever did. I remember the day after the surgery realizing -in spite of the post op pain in front – that my back didn’t hurt for the first time in about 30 years.

  9. ExceptionToTheRule*

    Alison, would you be willing to share a larger photo of your cat tree? I’m looking for a new one (mine was new 6 cats & 25 years ago) and I’m just not finding what I want. Yours looks like it has potential.

    1. Cruciatus*

      I used armarkat dot com to get the one I currently have. I did a quick search and didn’t see anything that looks quite like Alison’s but maybe there’s something else there you’d like. I thought the prices were pretty good too–especially compared to Petco and PetSmart and other similar stores. Sometimes less than half the price for twice the tree.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      It’s this one:

      It’s relatively short, as cat trees go — but they really like it.

      We also have this one in the basement:
      It’s very sturdy, although we’ve realized we need a bigger one down there, because the addition of Eve has meant that when we hang out down there watching movies, there aren’t enough perches for all of them, so we’re about to replace it with this one:

      1. Marcela*

        Alison, can I ask you how much do your cats weigh? We want to buy a new cat tree for our 13 lbs cat, because we didn’t realize he was a “big cat”, so he doesn’t fit in the tree we bought for him.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Lucy and Olive are 12 and 9 pounds, respectively, and they use these with no issues. (Sam is 25 pounds and has never shown any issue in a cat tree. In his defense, he has an enormous frame. And Eve weighs 3 pounds, so that’s not useful.) Anyway, if your cat is only a pound more than Lucy, I’d think he’d be okay. I think I remember from researching cat trees that a lot tell you the weight limitations, so you might look at that too.

          1. Marcela*

            Yeah, the tree we have said something about the weight limitations, and it was right for our cat. But it not sturdy, it wobbles when our cat uses it. He doesn’t even try to climb to the top because of that. And he doesn’t fit in the box/house. So I know now that weight is not the only parameter for him…

    3. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Unless you’re local to southern WI, this isn’t helpful, but this is the place that made mine:

      I was dismayed at first because they’re kind of pricey, and the girls basically seemed to ignore them for some time, so I was worried that I’d just wasted a good chunk of money… but the shy cat LOVES them now. The old girl… would much rather just snooze on my bed.

    4. AcademicAnon*

      This is the short one I have:
      It fits the 15 lb cat just fine and there is plenty of room at the top for a larger cat. It’s only about 3′ high.

      I also have a taller one 7′ that also comfortably fits the larger cat. It was purchased off of woot as one of the side deals. I thinks it’s Amarcat. However it’s not the most stable if the cats decide to jump from the top. Since the floor is only carpet it got screwed to the floor to fix that issue and both cats like laying in it.

    5. NacSacJack*

      We here in MSP actually have an entire store devoted to cat furniture called Purrniture. I drive by it all the time and every time I think, “Do they actually make enough money to survive?” Been driving by them for 10+ years now or longer than I can remember. Must be money in them there cat furniture.

  10. Anx*

    I have a question about social security (in the US).

    I’m worried that I’ll be ineligible for both disability and retirement because of my prolonged period of un and under-employment.

    For SSI: I understand that you get 1 credit for ~$1,200 you earn and there are 4 credits per year. But you don’t have to earn 1200 each quarter do you? Because while I made more than 1200 a year I don’t always make more than than a quarter.

    I’m 30 and I think I only really have 4 credits from the year I waitressed (so long as you can earn all of them in a summer) and 2 others from years I worked very part-time. I think by the end of 2015 I’ll have 3 or 4 more.I have no credits from the years I worked in college as that income was through the school. I would have gladly paid the tax to contribute. My part-time college work is by far the most I’ve ever made, too, and the only time I’ve ever cleared the poverty threshold. Oh well. So I’m going to need every credit I can muster and really hope you get some even f it takes all year to earn 1200, 2400, 3600.

    What I’m really worreid about is disability. What happens if you become disabled but you don’t have enough credits? If I were to become disabled tomorrow, I ‘d need 8 credits from 4 years of work. I’ve worked for 4 years, but mostly part-time or in jobs where I didn’t get to pay into/earn SS. And then of course the money I earned before I was 21 doesn’t count (funnily enough , age 22 was when I started to have trouble finding work

    1. Hellanon*

      I can’t speak to disability payments, but at 30, you’re probably 40 years out from retirement, and you should be making significantly more money more regularly by then…as far as I know, they look at the 10 quarters or so before you retire to determine what you’re check will be, so by the time you hit eligibility, they’re looking at what you made in your 50s, not your 20s…

      1. Anx*

        I don’t plan on ever willfully retiring, but I do think it will be hard to secure work in my late 60s and beyond.

        I want to be more optimistic, but I really don’t know if I will be able to clear 4k every year for another 6 years. I mean, if I don’t I’ll have bigger problems, but just like I wish I’d been thinking about this when i was in college and lost out on 3 years of contributions. I never thought I’d be making so little for so long.

        Thanks for the tip about pre-retierement years. I guess this is to keep people from coasting on their wages from their 20s if they made a lot then, but it sounds like it makes it very tought for people who prematurely ‘retire’ due to an inability to find a job in their 50s after a layoff or raising children

    2. attornaut*

      SSI credits are yearly now. You can actually check and estimate your benefits/credits on the SSA website, and that will tell you how many credits you need to qualify for disability depending on your age.

    3. Mimmy*

      I think you’re thinking of SSDI – Social Security Disability Insurance. That’s based on your work history. SSI is Supplemental Security Income, which is NOT tied to work history.

      1. Anx*

        Ahh, it was a combination of a typo and a misunderstanding.

        That makes a lot more sense. So SSDI is more like an insurance for your ability to continue earning your income. If you become disabled before retirement and before your career takes off, you are ineligible for that, but you will be able to get some sort of income? And that is SSI? So SSI is income dependent for retirement, but not for disability?

        1. Phyllis*

          SSI is for very low-income aged, blind, or disabled individuals with limited or no work history. SSDI is the benefit you’re entitled to if you become disabled and unable to work. SSI is not tied to your earnings and doesn’t come from SS taxes. If you do not have enough quarters for SSDI eligibility, SSI could be an option. But it is not a lot, I think about $700.00 or so right now.

        2. Mimmy*

          I don’t understand all the ins and outs of this (given my academic background, you’d think I would!). I know that work credits affect eligibility for SSDI; I do not know if it affects any other retirement benefits, though I would imagine it would. I would go to the Social Security Administration website – their information will be way more helpful than I am, lol.

          FTR: SSI, I think, is only for low-income people with disabilities; work history has no bearing on eligibility.

          It’s good that you’re planning ahead, but you’re only 30, so I wouldn’t fret too much :)

    4. Anonymous Fish*

      You can check your eligibility for social security and disability by creating an account on the Social Security Administration’s website. It will tell you right away if you’re eligible. ssa dot gov slash myaccount

  11. Fantasma*

    I have long, narrow feet (9AA) and super narrow heels — so narrow that all heel guards I’ve tried so far don’t really work. Are there any brands you recommend that are basically double the thickness of standard heel guards?

    I’d like to wear more professional shoes and/or dressy shoes sometimes but am limited to Aravons and sneakers (lucky I work in tech). I’ve been to specialty shoe stores but haven’t found any magic shoes (flats or heels) or inserts that keep my heels from popping out.

    1. GOG11*

      I have narrow heels and larger feet (9.5, idk what my heel size is). I don’t wear ANY flats or heels that don’t have straps across the front or a body of some sort (like an oxford heel, and with those I wear grippy heel guards) or that aren’t slingbacks (the strap sort of moves with my foot when it would normally slip out of the shoe and that works decently well). I end up walking out of most shoes (other than the lace up kind) and I usually just wear socks so my feet don’t get torn up when my shoes slip on and off in the back. I hope others have some good recommendations.

      1. Fantasma*

        Yeah, right now my go-to “nice” shoes are Aravon Mayas, which are a Mary Jane style. They’re comfortable, but I’d like some variety. I may have to face that I can only wear certain styles. :(

    2. Weekend Warrior*

      Glad to meet others in the 9 narrow sisterhood! My beef is that fewer shoes stores are carrying narrow widths, just medium. And online shopping with “difficult ” feet is really a gamble. Since I’ve had to add orthotics to the mix after a bout of plantar fasciitis, boots are now my thing, mostly ankle boots with pants. I’d like to get back into skirts so will be looking for high boots this season. Ankle boots with tights could work…

      1. Fantasma*

        Also glad to meet other 9 narrow people! It’s so true that stores carry fewer narrow-width shoes and for me it doesn’t almost matter since regular narrow is still too wide. My feet are like skiis. :)

    3. Belle diVedremo*

      My experience is that heel guards simply don’t work. Wish they did.

      I’ve had the best luck with shoes that have a “heel cap” – that additional piece sewn on to cup the back of the heel, and helps narrow the space your heel would otherwise walk out of – and that otherwise fit pretty well so that your foot is well supported. Used to have better luck with heels than flats, so don’t write those off entirely.

    4. Sourire*

      I can’t speak from personal experience (I have slightly narrow feet, but regular shoes generally fit okay), but I know Cole Haan shoes tend to run narrow in general and do also come in AA. I’m not sure if they fit your price range, but I have heard women with narrow feet/heels rave about them. I do love my regular width shoe/boots from there, I will say.

      1. Ellen*

        I was just getting ready to comment with the same thing. I have relatively narrow feet and happily wear medium-width Cole Haans; I suspect their narrows are quite narrow. They can be pricey but I find last quite a while and are comfortable, and they’re also often available on sale or via sites like 6pm.

        1. Fantasma*

          I’ve tried narrow Cole Haans — since I really like the styles — and sadly they’re still too wide. Very jealous of people who can wear them and other cute shoes.

    5. Sandy*

      I don’t know what your budget is, but consider checking out Poppy Barley. They are a Canadian company and they do custom/semi-custom shoes and boots.

      With the Canadian dollar as weak as it is right now, you could probably get a pair or two for quite reasonable prices.

      1. Fantasma*

        Never heard of the brand but looked it up online. Definitely a contender! As for budget, I don’t spend much on shoes because I rarely find any so I’m willing to spend a big to get a few pairs.

    6. MLT*

      My mother wears San Antonio Shoes (SAS) which can be purchased online. The business is family-owned and the shoes are handmade. If you go into one of their stores, the clerks are trained to measure and fit you into the right shoe. They have a store locator on their website.

    7. DeadQuoteOlympics*

      You might also try Shoes of Prey — they custom build them for you at a decent luxury price point ($200). They have an online design tool. Quality is high (I was in SF and Nordstrom had a pop-up store, so I was able to actually handle the shoes, see the leather, etc.) They increased the toe box height (not just width) for me, and they can tweak other things like that, so you might give them a try. Google Shoes of Prey (silly name, but beautiful shoes!)

      1. Fantasma*

        These are really cool looking. I’m an hour from SF so will try to go to Nordstrom to check them out in person. OMG, could cute shoes be in my grasp?!

    8. Daphne*

      Have you tried Ferragamo or Munro? They both come in narrows. Ferragamos are expensive, but I have found them cheap. Last month, I just sent a couple pairs to St Vincent de Paul. Unfortunately, I just grew to a 9.5 AA.

    9. Anx*

      Maybe this is why others seem to wear heels with so much more ease than me; my knees get tired of all the extra balancing of tryin to walk while keeping my heel in the heels!

      Have you noticed, too, that it’s harder to find dressy business shoes that aren’t heels? I find that so many flats show off the top of your foot or sock and that full coverage loafers can be tough to find this season. Many other comfort flats have those thicker, more casual looking rubber soles.

      I have no suggestions but I can commisserate! I don’t even have very narrow feet, just narrow heels and skinny ankles.

          1. schnapps*

            LOVE Def Leppard. I have a friend who does hostessing at the local stadium here and she got to see the concert from a box while she was working.

    1. K.*

      Best: Successfully wrapping a consulting project. In addition to my fee, I got a nice note of appreciation and another reference.
      Worst: the weather. It was over 90 degrees all week (HATE) and I feel like it’s cutting into my beloved fall.

    2. QualityControlFreak*

      Worst: Bad storm + ancient shake roof = no fun
      Best: So excited to see my favorite band next weekend!

    3. Trixie*

      Best: House/cat sitting this weekend in a lovely house, so calm and relaxing.

      Worst: Didn’t make first round for internal position. Grrr.

    4. Tau*

      Worst: My possibly-cluster headaches are making motions in the directions of starting up. I was really, really hoping I’d miraculously managed to avoid them this year, but I’ve been getting bouts of precisely those headaches all week (woke me up out of a sound sleep at 7:30 in the morning today, and then I had two at work on Thursday as well). I am not a happy camper, especially because the usual pattern is two or three of them a day for two weeks and I really don’t need that right now. Or ever.

      God bless those adhesive cold packs, mind you. No idea what I’d do without them.

      Best: I managed to set up a new routine for doing tidying and the like, and although it’s early days yet my flat is looking SO MUCH better than it was before. And I cooked tonight for the first time in weeks! Here’s hoping I can keep it going.

    5. Carrie in Scotland*

      Best: lacking in best. Actually, my neighbours are coming with my mail, which is nice of them (they are in my new city anyway).

      Worst: See below re: flat which is also impacting on my sleep and general wellbeing.

    6. nep*

      Best (today) – Great session with a trainer who’s teaching me some of the foundations of clean and jerk and some other lifts. Learned a lot and looking forward to more in the next few sessions.
      Best – All the hugs and smiles and laughs with my great niece. This baby girl’s utterly stolen my heart.
      No worst

    7. Noelle*

      Best: Learned how to make truly awesome Chinese beef and broccoli. It was seriously delicious, and super easy to make.
      Worst: Our AC isn’t working, and it is intolerable being home. I am in misery, and would pay pretty much anything to fix it, but my husband is extremely fastidious and wants to interview about a dozen contractors to get the best price. I am sure we will get a great deal, if I don’t go into a heat induced rage and kill someone before then.

      1. LCL*

        With HVAC repairs you don’t necessarily want the best price, you want the best results. Some heater repairs can result in fire or death if screwed up.
        Look online and ask friends for references.

        1. Noelle*

          True, and all the contractors we’re interviewing come recommended and generally agree on what needs to be done (complete replacement). It’s just taking forever to actually get my husband to pick one.

    8. Mallory Janis Ian*

      Best: three-day weekend!
      Worst: My MIL’s visit with us was extended by a week because her court date to evict squatting relatives from her mother’s home was set for a week later than anticipated. I love her, but she is really chatty and perky, and I miss having some time to be quiet and grumpy.

    9. SL*

      Best: pulling off a severely understaffed, out-of-town event with no hitches! (I’m an event planner by job description, but not necessarily title)

      Worst: Looking at my credit card bill and realizing that I have several major expenses all coming up that need to be on the card. It’s not that I can’t afford to pay the amount in full (I could pay it several times over if I have to) but I had a bit of a shock when I thought about the current amount on it + the upcoming expenses.

    10. Finny*

      Worst: Came home Wednesday night after work to find out that our fridge/freezer was broken–all the food that we’d stocked it with was soft, and the freezer part was the same temp as the fridge.

      Best: Said appliance is being replaced by a bigger, better one in stainless steel colour (the father-in-law has a Sears card with three years interest free so he has purchased it and we will pay him back over time). However, the new fridge/freezer is not arriving until between the tenth and twelveth of September, so we are trying to come up with foodstuffs for the next while that don’t require cooling, without much success.

      1. Colette*

        To ask the obvious – do you own a cooler? You’d still have to buy groceries (and ice) frequently, but you’d be able to keep a few perishables.

        1. Finny*

          I wish we did. Unfortunately, we don’t, and we won’t have money to get one until I get paid on the 15th, by which point the new fridge/freezer will be installed.

      2. schnapps*

        What about canned goods?

        Also, if you can find a reasonably priced beer fridge or borrow one, that might work for a bit.

      3. brightstar*

        Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and canned food. Or, in general, processed things where you add boiling water or things like that.

        Pasta with tomato sauce if you make enough for just that day.
        Tomatoes, bananas, and things like that will keep for a few days.

    11. Elizabeth West*

      Best: Went to a friend’s wedding today and saw another friend I hadn’t seen in three years. Yay. Cake was good and I had pretty hair. Too bad I had to come home alone and waste it on the cat. I wore a dress (ugh). Well, a skirt and blouse.

      Worst: I thought I would feel bad at the wedding because once again it’s not me, but I felt….nothing. I was numb. I literally have nothing to get excited about. I feel like I’m already dead.

          1. Nashira*

            Just so you know – I hear you. I have an escape plan for once I graduate, to get out of Missouri. It’s helping me get through. I hope you can build a plan too – I know it’s so much harder than it sounds though.

      1. QualityControlFreak*

        Hi Elizabeth, I’m really sorry you’re going through this. It sucks so hard to feel empty and hopeless, and you have been such a kind, supportive voice here that I want you to know there are people who truly care about you. You make a difference to people. You. Make a difference to random strangers on the internet, with your compassion and thoughtfulness. You’re not dead. You’re alive; you’re here with us, and I’m grateful that you are. I’m hoping and wishing all the best for you! QCF

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Thanks QCF.

          I really think I’m mostly bored–there is nothing to do and no one to do it with. Also, maybe the numb was a defense mechanism, so I could enjoy the wedding (all the skaters/mums sat together–it was one of the coaches who got married) and not get too angsty. I always hope every time I go out that I’ll meet someone (seriously there are 100,00+ people here), but it never happens. NEVER. It’s like trying to survive at Exjob–I couldn’t stand it until I just stopped giving a shit.

        1. Merry and Bright*


          I always enjoy your descriptions of London (and the UK in general). They are spot on :)

          1. Elizabeth West*


            I fell in love with it at eighteen and had to forget about it because there was no way I could go back. I wish I had done something forceful to get away from my helicopter parents back then and run off over there or something. Talking to my auntie recently about her escaping our hometown (she’s been there for 42 years) made me feel like I’d failed Life 101. Not all of her life has been laughs, but still.

            As much as I love being in the UK, even that can’t fill the empty space beside me.

            1. Merry and Bright*

              I sometimes feel like that about the empty space. Then I read about people with controlling partners and it looks brighter again :)

    12. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Worst: one of my closest friends was supposed to visit this weekend, but she called last Sunday and told me she’d been in the hospital (!) and would probably not be well enough to come. On Wednesday, she made a final decision and she’s not here. This sucks for me, sure, but she’s been having a really rough year and was looking forward to getting physically away from things to a place where she has people who love her and want to take care of her.

      Best: with a long, free weekend staring me in the face, I decided to do some cleaning and organizing, pickling and baking, which I haven’t done in a while. Cooking mojo is back!

      Also best: my bf and I went to a city festival yesterday and I ended up joining a big group of people doing some “soul line dancing”. I rocked the hell out it. Ended up horribly sweaty and unkempt, but it was so worth it.

    13. Ruffingit*

      BEST: The three-day weekend and getting things decluttered at home.

      WORST: Really tired of work stuff. Just so tired of it.

        1. Ruffingit*

          Thanks Elizabeth! You mentioned something somewhere in one of these threads where you said things got better for you at ex-job when you just stopped caring. That’s pretty much where I’m at. Some things irritate me and what not, but basically it’s just a feeling of “God, I am sick of this shit. I just cannot muster up the energy for yet another day with a-hole boss. Sigh.” I’m sure you know what I mean.

    14. Merry and Bright*

      Best: A 3 day weekend in England and Wales. I also have two days off work this week for another long weekend to see family in Yorkshire and catch up with two old friends. Can’t wait.

      Worst: An expensive morning at the dentist yesterday with a follow-up in two weeks.

  12. Carrie in Scotland*

    So it is week 6 of my flat being on the market and it is not going well. There have been viewings but no second viewings or notes of interest or offers. I am starting to worry. The city is been affected by mass lay offs due to the Oil and Gas Industry.

    I am an admin and my wage doesn’t really stretched to two households. My estate agent which is maybe a realtor in America? Has suggested to knock the price down a bit (approx $7000) and I don’t know what to do.

    Several factors a) I turn 30 in November and I’m treating myself 2 days watching the tennis. However at this rate I won’t be able to afford it. b) before I know it it will be Christmas and Christmas is generally a slow time for property. Because really who moves at Christmas!?

    Does anybody have any advice?

    1. Cruciatus*

      I obviously know nothing about how it works in the UK–did you own your apartment? My sister still has a house she hasn’t been able to sell for something like 7 years now! But she rented it out so at least the mortgage and utilities were handled. Sometimes she didn’t have a renter, but she has for most of the time. Is that an option? It may appeal to people that they don’t have to buy–but you could still have people look at the place (depending on the type of contract you have). Obviously hopefully it won’t take as long as my sister’s has! But she really only had to do something if it broke or the township told her to fix it (like the steps in front of the house weren’t up to code).

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        It’s got a small mortgage on it.

        Renting is my least favourite option for many reasons.

    2. Wrench Turner*

      Is there any option to just rent instead of selling? That way you have the value of the property to draw on when you need it, but your tenant can help ease the burden of mortgage. Over here at least there are property management companies that handle all the rent-getting, repairman-calling, tenant-finding stuff for you for a modest retainer. I’m sure there’s something like that on your side of the pond.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Could you look at renting the flat in your old city out or do you need the capital back to buy in your new city?

      Otherwise is there anything you can do to make your old falt more marketable, is the decor neutral are there any odd jobs that need doing, if that’s fine and the markets just slow at the moment hopefully it will pick up in the new year.

    4. Carrie in Scotland*

      To add: Renting it out is my least favourite option due to the fact that some things might need to be replaced e.g. washing machine/fridge/freezer are almost 10 years old and ongoing general building maintenance (I already owe my neighbours £500 due to current repair work). Also, anything that the tenant does e.g. what if they break something or leave a hole in the wall etc would need to be repaired and again, I’m an admin. I’m not sure the rental income (after agency fees, if I use them) is worth it.

      1. Cruciatus*

        I feel like 6 weeks isn’t all that much time–though I get why you are worried. The sooner the better. But assuming the amount you’re asking for is fair and typical for the area and things like Apollo Warbucks mentioned are covered, then maybe people are turned off by the older appliances (or something else). Is the agent able to get feedback from potential buyers? Maybe you do need to go lower or maybe you can offer an appliance allowance. Do you have to go as low as the agent said? Why not start with knocking off $1000 or 2? I’ve been looking at houses in my area and they usually don’t jump down quite that much. One house knocked off a hundred dollars which was amusing and just a little TOO low, but most people knocked off only a thousand or two at a time.

      2. TL -*

        It might be worth it to check into the rental market and rental management properties in the area. Likely, rent will at least break even and if you rent at slightly lower than market value, than the older appliances shouldn’t matter.
        As for repairs after a tenant leaves – we use deposits over here and in some cities, they’re at least a full month’s rent, which can cover quite a lot.

        If you really can’t afford to wait too long, renting is generally much quicker than selling and may be your only option.

    5. anon attorney*

      Is the reduction the agent proposes going to take you below the home report value? Are you fixed price or o/o?

      Have you talked to your lender about taking a mortgage payment holiday?

      Think the market in the NE has been very flat but knocking £10k off after six weeks seems quite drastic. Might be worth a second opinion if you can get that for nothing? What are other flats in the area going for?

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        Yes, the agent is suggesting either a £2000 or £5000 reduction, which takes it either the 2 or 5 under the home report value.

        It’s curently o/o (most are) rather than fixed price and it’s marketed at a similar price to others for sale at the moment.

        1. misspiggy*

          I would reduce. What you lose on sale income you gain on not having to pay the mortgage till Spring. Renting it would mean having to renegotiate your mortgage and paying more.

          1. snuck*

            Yeah… I’d sit down and really crunch the numbers…

            What’s the cost of bumping out or renegotiating your mortgage, and carrying costs of living elsewhere, and paying any ongoing costs for maintenance, rates, taxes etc on the existing property.

            What’s the cost of selling for $2k less (and $5k less, because buyers never want to pay list price they will want to negotiate)… including any taxes and so on….

            and what’s the hassle worth to you, what can you realistically afford (knowing it’s the Christmas spend season coming up) etc…?

            And… are prices likely to drop further in coming months? Get out now while you can time?

            I lean towards dropping the price by 2% and getting out now… but I don’t know the numbers, I’m just not one to sit around hoping for the best, I make the best of what’s in my hand right now.

    6. Cristina in England*

      We are in a similar position with our Govanhill flat! You make pretty much no profit if you do a full service letting agency, and you would have to commit to not selling it for 6-12 months, but if the rental market is strong it is better than being in the red.
      I would consider knocking it down to 2k below the home report (our asking is 2.5k below) and get your fussiest friend to look at your listing photos and see if there is anything that could be improved there. Are you happy with your agent generally? If you aren’t with a main high street agent then you might consider switching. Good luck!!!

      1. Carrie in Scotland*

        My agent is quite well known. And I def don’t want to rent it out now you have given me details.

        I hope yours sells soon too, Cristina. Thanks!

  13. Alston*

    Hey! Person who was looking at buying a houseboat in DC a few weeks ago, did you do it?

    and woooo, going to look at a few in Boston the next couple weeks!

    1. Delyssia*

      I didn’t. The timing wasn’t right for me, and I still think it was too expensive. I’ve been keeping an eye out for others for sale, though everything else I’ve seen at this particular marina has been a more traditional boat with liveaboard status.

      There’s a “boat-home” tour at the marina coming up in October that I definitely want to check out.

      Good luck with your upcoming looking at houseboats!

  14. Valley*

    Last week, I posted about a celebrity crush that was negatively affecting my life, and several very kind people wrote in with suggestions on how I might help myself. To be honest, I had already thought of those things on my own, but somehow seeing them all in black and white pushed me to finally take action. I stopped looking at the crush online (surprisingly easier than I thought it would be) and have been trying to keep busy with projects around the house- I’ve even gone for a few walks outside. I’m not “cured” yet, but I feel better- no depression or crying all week. I agree with those who said that this crush was probably there to fill a need in my life, and that I probably could benefit from therapy. In any case, I want to thank those of you who took the time and trouble to respond to what I still consider a very silly problem. Feels good to know that there are such nice people out there.

    1. I can relate*

      I was happy to help, and glad that you were able to make some positive steps forward!! Thanks for the update.

    2. angel tears*

      I was not one of those who responded to your post, but just wanted to let you know I am glad you are feeling better. It’s really nice of you to pop back in and update us.

    3. Weekend Warrior*

      I was really glad you posted your challenge. There’s a good reason Eros/ Cupid is shown in myth and art hitting us with arrows and making us fall in love with inapprpriate people! None of us are immune. It’s how we handle it that counts. Go you!

  15. Stephanie*

    Ran a 5k this morning! Except I tripped part of the way through and turned my ankle. I was able to finish it, but I’ve got some quality couch and icing time ahead planned for today.

    I took a group photo with my friends afterward and am way too neurotic about how my midsection looks in the photo. *sigh*

    1. KarenT*

      You go girl! Keep icing that ankle :)

      Was it an organized race? I’ve only ever done one but I’ve been thinking of doing another this fall.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah, it was organized. It was the first year, so it was small and a little disorganized. Start time was way too late (8 am) for Phoenix this time of year. Luckily, it wasn’t slightly cooler than normal, so it wasn’t too hot (and there were even a few clouds). All the activity surrounding the race is fun–I definitely want to do more.

  16. Wrench Turner*

    Wish there was a way to post/link to a picture. After 2 years of shaping, the hedge in our front yard is finally in the shape of a giant skull – aprox 8ft tall x 6ft diameter. On Halloween we’re going to spray it down with this clay powder we use on our fruit trees, so it’s a ghostly white, and then put UV lights on it and glowsticks in the eyes.

    1. Alston*

      Imgur link? That sounds so awesome! We are doing a Nightmare Before Christmas party this year and are sitting down to watch the movie and make notes on what decorations we want to do for it.
      last year was Harry Potter themed and we had a working sorting hat ant floating vandals and all that jazz

  17. The Other Dawn*

    I had a very busy week visiting my cousin in Lancaster, PA, and then seeing my favorite band, Def Leppard, in Allentown, PA. As always it was a great concert, but it was over way too soon. Now I’m going through withdrawals. Anyone feel sad after they see their favorite musician in concert? There’s so much excitement leading up to it and then it rushes by in a blur. Then I’m left pining away for them until the next show. I posted a few pics on my blog if you want to look. Just click on my name.

    1. Mimmy*

      Oh GOD yes!!! My post-concert withdrawals have been downright evil, one lasting well over a month because I’d met the artist afterwards – I’d won the M&G through the fan club.

      Was this at the Allentown fair?? I saw Kelly Clarkson there (she’s the above-mentioned favorite artist) in 2009. We had third row seats, but the way the venue was set up, the rows are very long, and we were on the far end near the side, and Kelly hardly went past the middle third of the stage :( Best part of the day: Fried oreos!!!!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Yes it was at the Allentown fair. I had section e but sold the tickets and ended up with the center section. :) so glad I sold the other ones. I really did not like the restrooms though. None of the stall doors closed all the way so it was fun trying to hold the door, pee and then wipe whole hoping no one walks in on me.

        1. Could be anyone*

          I live about an hour from Lancaster. Sometimes I think PA has a law that says bathrooms doors must not work properly.
          But i also claim that there is fine print in the state constitution that says the state must do things in a way to annoy the most number of people possible.

    2. nep*

      I can relate too. A couple of times seeing this one artist I simply adore — I just wanted the night to last and last. Especially the few minutes we got to chat when he signed CDs afterward. Also another time — post-concert the artists invited my brother and me up into their bus. We sat and chatted with them…laughed a lot. One of those nights you just savour forever. It was fantastic.

    3. Lizzie*

      Oh, man. You have no idea.

      I saw a hip-hop group from South Korea (nobody laugh) that I’ve been a fan of for more than a decade this summer and I’m still mourning it being over because (a) it was unfacetiously the best night of my life and (b) it took them ten+ years to do a tour over here even though one of them is actually from the USA … so the next show might be a long, long time from now!

    4. SL*

      I’ve seen my favorite band 15 times, but they’re taking the rest of the year (and possibly early 2016) off from the road, and I already miss seeing them! Glad they’re getting rest and taking care of developments in their personal lives, though.

    5. Lady Bug*

      Yes! I had almost a solid year of seeing/looking forward to seeing one of my favorite bands, and the singer on a quick solo tour, but there’s no more dates out this way. I’m hopeful for another round out here early next year, or maybe the singer taking his other band on the road.

      in the meanwhile we are seeing 6 other shows in September & October, but one is Motorhead and Lemmy seems to be struggling, hopefully he stays healthy even if he misses the show.

  18. Solo*

    I’m travelling alone in Munich this week, any suggestions of what to do / where to go?

    Friends who’ve being here before tell me to just go to a beer garden and sit at any random table and people will talk to you. It sounds tempting (mostly because I love German beer) but I’m quite self conscious and I’m not sure if I’m brave enough to do that, especially since my German is elementary at best.

    1. Dan*

      The Germans speak good English, I’ve never had too much trouble with a basic conversation.

      Go hang out at a beer garden, can’t think of what else I would do in Munich.

    2. Schmitt*

      The “Deutsches Museum” is enormous and amazing — we spent half a day there and we could have spent three days. Or five. Or a lifetime.

      We also enjoyed “Die Residenz” which is a large castle inside the city proper.

    3. Apollo Warbucks*

      Dachau concentration camp is the earliest camp opened by the nazzis and is a very somber experience.

      The hofbrauhaus is a good restaurant and they do traditional food and beer.

      1. TheLazyB (UK)*

        Yay Hofbräuhaus! I want to go visit my sister :)

        The English garden is amazing too. Does anyone know if the surfers still surf in the park?

          1. ananon for the weekend*

            Oh fab! I was looking at my old facebook videos the other day and there are vids of them surfing next to those ‘danger of death!!!!’ signs. Must go next time I’m there :)

    4. Colette*

      I spent 12 hours or so in Munich a few years ago. I took the train from the airport to the historical section, then walked around, did a tour, and had lunch. It was a good way to spend a day.

    5. Myrin*

      If you’re interested in art at all, I’d recommend the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek, or the Pinakothek der Moderne, depending on how old you like your art. They’re just separated by one street each so it’s totally possible to see two or even all three of them in one go.

      Also, as a student at the University of Munich (the LMU, not the TU), I’d totally recommend checking it out. Just because it’s pretty and has lovely Greek-style statues and a little exhibition on the Weiße Rose (the anti-Nazi group that originated and operated here).

    6. dancer*

      I did two days in Munich by myself earlier this summer. Here’s what I did:

      – Free 3 hour walking tour of old Munich. You just meet in Marienplatz and there’s two sessions a day.
      – Climb the tower in Alter Peter church.It was the tallest open point in old Munich (that was open) and it’s a great view.
      – Assam’s Church
      – Frauenkirche
      – Viktualienmarkt (food market). I picked up lunch for a couple days here. There’s all sorts of fruit and veg stalls, bakery stalls, cheese and meat stalls, etc.
      -English garden
      – Dachau concentration camp
      – Deutches museum.

    7. class factotum*

      We really liked the Viktuellenmarket. Something like that – the food market with picnic tables in the middle of the city. It’s fun to hang out there and watch people.

      There is also an old abby outside of town – accessible by train – where they have been making beer for a long time. Pretty place and a nice hike to get there. I will put a link to it in the next post.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Paulaner Beer is always nice and there are various Beer Halls around town.

          If you have time, I can recommend a day trip to Salzburg. There are frequent trains from the main station and the journey takes you through some nice snow topped mountains.

  19. Kethryvis*

    i don’t post here often, but uuuuggghhhh i just feel the need to pour some things out on the internets.

    this last week was super suck on a stick.

    1) My cat is not herself. We’ve been to the vet three times (that third time was me being “that owner” that doesn’t take an answer for an answer, i fully admit that. My vet is awesome tho and didn’t charge me for my du-mas-ery), and done a full on blood panel. She’s dropped like a pound in three months, and she’s not eating a whole lot. She’s still her usual self; using the litter box, sleeping in the Usual Spots (she has a new Usual Spot but that in itself is “usual”), no more/less active than normal, still sits on my lap, still sits on ME in the morning, still sleeps with me at night, is interested in food but just eats like five bites and walks away. The vet thinks this is due to a terrible experience at the groomer; they shaved her stomach without telling me. It’s from like her thighs/”private” area to halfway up her torso. He thinks she’s traumatized from the loss of fur. Which i grant is totally possible; i’ve noticed she doesn’t lay with her belly up anymore, it’s definitely to the ground or she’s very curled up with her belly protected. But it’s just so frustrating to me that i can’t do anything for her or get her to eat :(

    2) The first vet visit was Monday. On Tuesday my company had it’s second round of layoffs in two months. Out of everyone who got laid off, i had the most seniority in time (almost 3 years). My friend-and-coworker is now the only person in my department and she’s freaking out, because she doesn’t know All The Things i did. They purely cut people due to money, and because i made the most in my two-person department i got cut. i feel like that’s a pretty awful way to preserve your business but whatever. Not my problem anymore.

    3) i took a volunteer opportunity that had fortuitous timing; i was asked about it Monday evening and then Tuesday happened. It’s just something to keep my hands busy for about a month (coordinating a section of an event). But… i didn’t google anything about it first; i totes should have, but i was so in a daze and i know better than to try and Adult when in that situation. Basically, the guy running it is… pretty self-important and has a HUGE beef against a former employer of mine. i mentioned said former employer when we met and he didn’t really blink (but wasn’t as interested as most people are when i mention it; it’s a Very Large Website, and that did raise an eyebrow for me). i don’t think he’s going to treat me any differently, he hasn’t so far, but the attitude he’s taken in online postings about said Place is really awful, and it’s the attitude of someone who is used to getting their way and doesn’t want to play by anyone else’s rules. Those were the people who made my life seriously annoying while working there, and i’m a bit worried about what it means for this project. On the plus side, said project is only about a month and a half long, and at least it’ll be something for the resume.

    i should be more upset about #2, but really… if i’d actually liked working there i would be. There are a lot of things i won’t miss… including the Nerf battles. Yup, i’m outing myself as the Nerf Battle poster from about a year ago. The Nerf battles did indeed stop; at least on the floor i was on. But jeeez was it annoying when it was going on. i wasn’t happy there, and hadn’t been for a while. i was job hunting off and on, but couldn’t ever seem to land anything. Now i’ve got more time to devote to finding the right thing, and tbh i’m in a bit of a better financial position than the last time i was out of a job and ended up taking this one. So hopefully… hopefully things will turn out better this time around.

    1. Merry and Bright*

      Outch! What a week. Hope you soon get another job you are happy in. Even if you don’t like your job being laid off can still feel pretty bad.

    2. fposte*

      I’m sorry; that sounds like a tough week.

      How old is the cat, and how big is the cat? If she’s really only eating a few bites a day, I’m surprised your vet wasn’t more concerned about that in its own right.

      1. Kethryvis*

        She’s 14, and she’s weighing in about 10 pounds right now. i brought her in due to the lack-of-the-eating, and that was when we did the blood work. Everything came in normal; kidneys, thyroid, FeLV/FIP/etc., WBC, RBC, the whole nine. No fever, no change of personality/behavior. We checked her teeth as well and aside from some tartar on the back teeth, all is fine.

        i’d mentioned the shave job, and they got a look at it when they took her back to pull her blood. My vet was really surprised by the amount of shaving they did, and said that a cat of her coat type should never be shaved like that. He was really upset they’d done that, and once the tests came back as all clear we postulated that it’s the trauma of losing that amount of fur that may be behind all this. Unfortunately, he said all i can do is wait for the fur to come back.

        i’ve been doing what i can to get her to eat… lots of gooshey food, some tried-and-true liver shake my rescue friends use to bring animals back from the brink, and i’m probably going to go find some canned mackerel in a bit to see if the stinky fish helps. She’s INTERESTED in the food when i put it down, and she asks for it like crazy. Then she just eats a few bites and walks away. She will usually come back for a second helping later, but then she’s pretty much done with that batch.

        1. Monodon monoceros*

          Does she like catnip? When my kitty is not eating great, sometimes a little catnip will get her going again. Good luck!

          Also, go get your money back from the groomer. They should be aware that they are not grooming cats correctly and possibly causing serious issues.

          1. Kethryvis*

            I emailed the groomer, and they offered me a complementary grooming the next time i come in. They also said the groomer who took care of my Boo before is out on maternity, and the owner (who i always had amazing service with) would be happy to groom Boo this time. They also said the prior groomer didn’t leave a lot of notes but said she was “matted.” i didn’t feel she was THIS matted!

            She doesn’t seem interested in much anymore :( She still bugs me in the kitchen for food, but then i put it down and she walks away. i’m really at my wits end. Why does this happen on holiday weekends?!

        2. Soupspoon McGee*

          I’m sorry your kitty is in a funk! One thing that worked for my guys when they were not interested in food was baby food (pureed ham or turkey with no onion or garlic). Also, my picky girl will eat a few bites, then wander off, and by the time she comes back to it, it’s dried. I only give her a spoonful or two at a time to get her interested.

          1. Kethryvis*

            i’ve been trying that; not with baby food specifically but with this liver shake recipe my friend that does kitten rescue swears by. i gave her some and she seemed kind of interested, i tried to go back to regular food and she’s turning her nose up. i may go back to the shake and/or go get some baby food. ANYTHING.

            1. Monodon monoceros*

              If she isn’t eating anything, at some point I’d think about “force feeding” her a bit. Get a syringe from the vet (no needle, just the syringe) and ask them for a/d canned food. Make a slurry with warm water or tuna juice, then feed her the slurry with the syringe. Sometimes just getting some food into them will stimulate them to eat on their own.

              My cat got very sick a while ago and just stopped eating. We got everything under control (uterine infection…I didn’t even know she still had her uterus…apparently she had just had ovaries removed) but she stopped eating. I tempted her with every type of food, but the syringe feeding kept her from going into liver disease (which cats get easily from not eating) and it also got her to start eating. It took weeks for her to eat normally again. Every day I’d start off syringe feeding her, then she’d eat some on her own, but I had to get her started every day. It was a long couple of weeks.

              1. Kethryvis*

                i’ve done that before too when she got really sick; i’ve done it a couple of times this go-around and she gets grumpy, but i’m at the point now i don’t really care about her grumpitude :) The last time i did it i only had to do it for a few days, i have a feeling this time might be a bit longer. Probably a good thing i’m out of work!

        3. catsAreCool*

          If there isn’t something soft for your kitty to sit on while she’s eating, maybe putting something there might help. A soft little blanket might help her feel like she has her fur back while she’s eating.

          When one of my kitties was having tummy problems, the vet suggested giving her 100% canned pumpkin. She actually liked it!

          Warming up cat food a little in the microwave can make a kitty like it more sometimes. As long as it’s not too warm.

          Adding warm water to cat food can also help.

          I hope your kitty starts eating more soon!

          1. Kethryvis*

            i tried warming it up in the microwave… the look she gave me was pretty legendary. CATS.

            Thank you, i hope she does too!

    3. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Did the appetite change happen at the same time as the belly-shave?

      With the blood panel results being normal, it’s probably not something I should even mention, but an ultrasound might be worth some peace of mind? If she’s developing IBD, it might be visible that way even if it’s not notable on the blood panel results. And if it’s something worse than IBD*, that should be caught as well.

      *Long story short: Cat A diagnosed with lymphoma (after a different dx from bloodwork alone), Cat B (A’s daughter) shows eerily similar symptoms. B’s bloodwork says early renal failure, but ultrasound only turns up signs of early IBD. Ultrasounds are kind of expensive, particularly if you’re living paycheck to paycheck, but the peace of mind was very much worth it for me.

      1. Kethryvis*

        it happened pretty fast. The groomer was on Monday, by Weds she wasn’t finishing her breakfast, and by Friday i noticed she wasn’t finishing dinner. i have noticed that she won’t lay with her belly up anymore; she definitely contorts herself so that her stomach is covered/protected.

        She’s not eating at all at this point. The vet said they’d call Tuesday to see how things were going, and i’m going to mention that things are Not Going Well and that i’m not sure they’ve got the right diagnosis. Luckily, i have family and friends who have offered to help me with vet bills, and the peace of mind is definitely worth me living on peanut butter and pasta for a while to pay it off.

        1. Anon369*

          Ugh, sorry to say but cats not eating at all is a medical emergenvy – look up hepatic lipodosis. Id go back to the vet today or find a 24 hour vet.
          Did they check for pancreatitis too? That requires a special panel.

          1. Kethryvis*

            They did, he ran just about everything. Thyroid, pancreas, liver, kidney, blood, FIP, FeLV, a bunch of different things. All came back fully normal.

            i’d be a little more worried if she was off in any other ways; she really is pretty much her normal self aside from the eating. i’ll be talking to my vet tomorrow; they said they’d call me but i may beat them to the punch and call in the AM. i’m kind of over waiting at this point.

  20. Marcela*

    I have a question about credit, stolen identities and the services monitoring credit in the US. My husband works in a National Laboratory, therefore he is affected by the OPM data breach that happened several months ago. We are truly afraid of the whole stolen identity thing, to the point of having a paper shredder and using it for all the letters offering us new credit cards or anything that has our names on it. We dump bags of shredded papers every month.

    The thing is, now I’m wondering if we are truly doing what we can do. I mean, is it worth it to have one of those services to monitor credit? We have one right now, paid for us since we are involved in the OPM data breach, but it will only be paid 2 years. After that, we don’t know what to do or even more, what can we do to protect our credit and money? Our native system is completely different from the one in the US, and there is no risk of stolen identities or anything like it, so we worry about not truly understanding the situation. Is there something you can recommend to us, either to better understand the issue or to protect us?

    1. Dan*

      Credit monitoring services aren’t worth it, IMHO. What you can do is keep an eye on your credit reports, and look for new lines of credit that you didn’t open. You can get a free one from each of the bureaus once per year, so pull one every four months.

      1. Stephanie*

        Yeah…I’ve gotten a few thanks to companies losing my info and I haven’t seen the upside to actually paying for them.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      I’m in th UK so can’t speak to the U.S. set up but there are credit refernce agencies that will sell you a copy of your report that show all open and active credit agreements linked to your identity which will allow you to see if any random credit appears in your name and they are cheaper than full on monitoring and just as effective.

    3. AnotherFed*

      The shredding is a good idea, expecially on the credit card offers. The identity monitoring service is a precaution, but it’s not much more helpful than general good credit monitoring. The best advice out there is to just monitor your credit rating – get the free reports (you’re entitled to one free report per year from each of the credit monitoring agencies) and make sure nothing weird shows up. Some credit cards also give your credit score in the monthly bill, so if you have one of those, keep an eye on it for drops – those can indicate new debt in your name, or a flurry of credit checks.

      Now, for the cold comfort – the OPM data breach is widely attributed to the Chinese. They aren’t selling your information on the darknet to make money, they are using it for espionage. You aren’t an appealing target unless you know interesting things and the people who want that info have leverage. As with any external security threat, the best way to protect yourself is not to make yourself a target – don’t advertize your husband’s job (including listing his employer on facebook), don’t brag about the things he works with (or let him brag about it), don’t do anything you’d be embarrassed to have everyone and their brother know about, and tell your husband if strangers or distant relations with foreign citizenship make contact (and make sure he reports it to his security team). Of course, report identity theft concerns to your husband’s security people, too. If your husband self-reports on these sorts of things, he’s likely to be able to keep his clearance, but if he hides it instead, he’s out the clearance and the job.

      1. Florida*

        One tip about the free reports…there are three credit bureaus, so get one report every four months, rather than getting all three at once. Each time it would be from a different bureau. That way, if something happens, you will know about it sooner. The website is annualcreditreport.com

      2. Marcela*

        Well, we are not American. So he will never work with anything “important” from a government or national security point of view. We are not that worried about the OPM breach, actually, for the reasons you said. But it was possible we were affected by the Target and Home Depot breachs, and once my Discover card was misteriously replaced because “it could have been exposed” (no details were given to me when I called customer service), and we used to get many credit cards offers (although we register to be permanently removed from the lists, but yeah, that’s part wishful thinking), so we worry more about the domestic aspect of our credits.

    4. fposte*

      You can also have your credit pre-emptively frozen. You then need to arrange in advance any time you need your credit checked, but you might find it worth the peace of mind. If you Google “credit freeze faqs” you’ll probably get right to the FTC page about it.

    5. BrownN*

      I worked for the feds years ago and received a letter from CSID offering credit and identity theft monitoring through OPM. If you did not receive a letter, I would try and call OPM. A lot of people threw the letters away because they thought they were scams. (https://www.opm.gov/cybersecurity#FAQs)

      I signed up because it was the most extensive monitoring I have ever seen. Also they offered identity theft insurance and assistance with resolving identity theft issues. I’ve had other credit monitoring done and it was nothing like this one. They monitored more than credit cards. I get regular reports and if suspicious activity occurs, I was notified immediately (credit cards use in another city clear across the country). The website also offers suggestions of what you can do to protect yourself in the meantime.

  21. So Very Anonymous*

    I’m reading Station Eleven right now and last night it affected my dreams! “Haunting” is a good word for it.

  22. Kay*

    I am getting married two weeks from today. I am simultaneously wigging out and not wigging out. Most of it I could not care less about, but my mom is wigging out, so therefore I have to cope with that. Fiance has a really, really low tolerance for drama, so he is at the end of his rope. People are behaving badly, there are lots of little stupid details, and I am really wishing I’d eloped. It doesn’t help that work is stressful, all of the animals are trying to kill themselves, and house renovations are not moving as quickly as we need them to (ie, getting insulation and a revamp of the heating system before winter!). Someone tell me that this, too, shall pass?

    1. Amber Rose*

      It will pass before you know it. There’s a reason people are paid to be event organizers as a career: it takes a certain kind of person to enjoy it and there’s usually a billion details.

      But it’ll be worth it. :D

    2. Mimmy*

      Amber Rose is right – this is the nit-picky details part!! That frazzles even the best of us! But yes, this too shall pass. Remember to just appreciate everything and take in every moment on the wedding day itself.

      Congratulations, and wishing you and yours many years of wonderful memories.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      A friend of mine says that when planning a wedding one should plan that at LEAST four things will go wrong. At least four things.
      None of those things will make you any “less” married.
      It’ll be okay.

      1. dragonzflame*

        You’ll be fine! I hated the wedding planning process, and on top of it our rental house was being sold out from under us so we didn’t even know if we would have a place to live afterwards, or if we’d have to move the weekend before, plus I was making my wedding dress around open homes and viewings. (In the end, it sold a few weeks after the wedding and we got to stay on until we bought our own place 18 months later. We actually used that real estate agent to help us buy our house, and she looked after us amazingly.)

        It is LOVELY when you get to the reception and get a few wines down you, knowing the stressful bit is over and you can relax. Just don’t go too nuts on the bubbles ;-)

    4. asteramella*

      I’m getting married next month and having a similarly hectic time. I hope this shall pass for both of us!

    5. cuppa*

      I feel you! My wedding day was a wonderful day…. but there’s no way in Hell I would go through all that again. I really thought I would be into it, but, nope. Too much drama and stress leading up to it.
      You will get through this, and it will be great, and soon everything will go back to normal!

      Good luck, and congratulations!

  23. Amber Rose*

    I need to shave my cat. His fur is so matted and he smells (he was sick for a bit). But I’m not sure where to get a razor for a pet/what kind of razor I’m looking for. I’m also wondering if there are any like, herbal supplements or whatever I could use to keep him calm. He’s generally pretty good at sitting still when I take the scissors to him but I need to get at his butt, and noise makes him antsy.

    Mom used to dose the dogs with 1/8 of a Gravol but I’m uneasy about drugging him when he’s so much smaller.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There are things like this, although the reviews (at least for this particular one) are all over the place:

      But your best option might be to have the vet do it, if it’s just a one-time thing. Or, I hate to say it, but would bathing him solve it? I gave Sam a bath a few months ago and it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. (If you do that, use really gentle soap or special pet shampoo.)

      1. Amber Rose*

        I haven’t found a vet I trust anywhere near him. The last one acted like he’d never seen a cat before in his life. And the one before that wanted to do a very expensive surgery for what ended up being a minor problem.

        As a side note, did you know that the tip of a cat’s tail can totally just turn black and fall off if it gets damaged? I didn’t. D:

        I can try bathing him, I’ve done it before (he trusts me to do a lot <3), but I don't know if that will help the gross crusty mats.

        1. blackcat*

          A combo of bathing and just cutting off the mats might be less upsetting to him than outright shaving.

          As for keeping him calm, I’d honestly try feliway and having a friend help (maybe you hold him and the friend uses the scissors). Most sedatives make a cat slower to respond so they *seem* calmer, but they can actually make them more scared/increase heart rate. So it’s best to avoid them if you can.

        2. Myrin*

          I had the “falling off” thing with one of our late bunnies’ one ear. Well, not the whole ear, actually just a small part, but it was very weird nonetheless (didn’t faze her in the least, though, so there’s that).

          1. Amber Rose*

            Yeah, my cat seemed more surprised than anything. He didn’t even notice until I cut off the hair around it.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I think having the vet do it is the best bet. I have Persian cats. One hates the shaver so he has to go to the vet for a lions cut. The other one, now deceased, let us do anything to him so we shaved him. And a bath will help with the smell but might actually make the mats worse and be uncomfortable for the cat.

    3. Kethryvis*

      Sooooo in my comment above, i mentioned my groomer shaving my cat without my knowledge or consent, and she hasn’t quite been the same since (mainly her appetite is way way off). Cats are pretty vain, and some of them hate it when they lose fur :(

      That being said, if he’s matted then yes something needs to be done. i’d HIGHLY recommend having a professional do it; either your vet or a groomer (a lot of groomers will take cats, but it takes special training so you may have to wait a bit). They can also help you figure out if it’s as dire as you think it is, and may be able to tease the snarls out with some brushing and good conditioning. It’s worth a call and a consult if nothing else.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        When my mostly white cat got into the fireplace, she needed a bath. A few weeks on her own and she was still pretty grey, so I called PetsMart and they had one person on staff qualified to groom cats. Fortunately for me, my girl is good with travelling in the carrier and generally likes people. They loved her! She was returned to her normal white-ness and all was good. They didn’t quite get her dry enough, it was winter but she came through unscathed.

    4. Trixie*

      A friend has what looks like a mancoon cat, and he’s outdoorsy so his undertide is always a mess. She doesn’t shave him but will carefully cut the hair clumps she can’t comb or brush out. It was particularly dense last time so I helped out by keeping him calm while she went in.

    5. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      If he’s good about brushing, you could try combing the mats out. It’ll take some time, particularly if he’s not all that patient, but you could whittle down the mess that way. If you have a friend the cat and you both trust, you could have Friend hold Kitty while you use a comb to separate mat from butt and then scissors the mat from the top side of the comb. Not recommended to try that by yourself unless Kitty is literally unconscious – both hands necessary to make sure you’re only getting fur.

      You’re really probably better off finding a reputable groomer, though. They can get him trimmed up *and* cleaned up at the same time. Probably better than a vet could – pretty sure the shaving they learn as vet or tech isn’t going to make Kitty any prettier.

      Also strongly advise against dosing the cat – no idea what Gravol is, but safe for dog doesn’t necessarily mean safe for cat, even outside of getting the dose right for weight.

  24. Schmitt*

    I broke my ankle (tibula and fibia, open break, ripped all the soft tissue as well) in March, the bone didn’t heal completely the first go around and I had to start the weight-bearing process all over again, and now I am back at full weight on it and nearly rid of the crutches.

    Please tell me it gets better from here. Lie to me if you have to.

    1. Amber Rose*

      Ouch! Yep, it’ll be better. Do lots of stretches and strengthening exercises, but never to the point of pain.

      I have broken a lot (including my hip), and although it’s slow, eventually it’ll be almost like it never happened.

      1. Schmitt*

        This is where I’m really struggling. I have nearly 100% flexibility everywhere except where it matters – pulling the toe up towards the knee. My physiotherapist really pushes me to stretch that and sent me home Wednesday with instructions to repeat that exercise 20x a day… but I was too sore to even put full weight on it Thursday. :-/

          1. Schmitt*

            Thank you so much for that. I’ve been stuck in the mindset of cooling the swelling for so long that I failed to make the jump to sore muscles/tendons = use heat. I had a blissful half hour with gentle heat on it.

        1. Persehone Mulberry*

          I had a similar injury a few years ago, and that two steps forward, one step back healing process sounds oh so familiar. Soft tissue takes a loooong time to heal. Just follow your PT’s instructions religiously and it will get better!

      1. Schmitt*

        I love the foot blog! It all sounds terribly familiar.

        Bonus anecdote:

        I’m in Germany (and amen for the health care system). So when they wanted to put the first cast on after the surgery, the head doctor wanted to bend the ankle at a 90° angle for that.

        “This will hurt,” he said to me, in German of course. “So you can swear at me in English as much as you like. Except ‘motherf***er’. I know that one.”

        1. AcidMeFlux*

          There are a lot of ups and downs in the healing process; as you heal, and start trying harder and getting back to natural movement, you’ll have days of feeling worse. Don’t let this discourage you; on the contrary. It means you’re getting better.

    2. Windchime*

      My foot wasn’t broken, but I had extensive surgery on my ankle that included detaching/reattaching the achilles tendon (with screws) as well as some bone reshaping. I was non-weight bearing for a full six weeks and wore a walking boot for 6 weeks after that, plus on and off for another 6 months. It was over a year before it was completely healed but I was able to walk without pain for short distances within probably….4 or 5 months. So yes, it does get better for sure! It just takes time and the non-weight bearing part was the hardest part for me, by far.

      1. blackcat*

        See, this is all I had ever heard about foot/ankle surgery before my mom broke her foot a couple years back.

        When she was talking about having surgery to fix the bones just 2 months before my outdoor (and involving a hike to the ceremony site!) wedding, I was concerned. She kept talking like it was going to be no big deal, and I was thinking “Friends of mine had terrible times recovering from foot/ankle surgeries in their teens/early twenties. How is my 65 year old mother going to recover in 8 weeks?!”

        Well, she did. Apparently, her orthopedic surgery could be done laparoscopically, with some crazy robot. Surgery was in the morning, she was sent home in the evening. Two days of bed rest, and she went back and was put in a walking cast. Three weeks later, she was out of that. Two weeks after that (so still 3+ weeks before the outdoor wedding), she was basically back to normal.

        I was totally baffled. Getting over a minor stress fracture in one tiny foot bone took me twice as long.

        I think it was a magical robot.

    3. Malory Archer*

      No advice, but I’m at a similar stage in the weight-bearing process post-knee surgery, so I definitely empathize.

      Also, that injury sounds like some major ouches, I hope you’re not in any pain.

  25. Ask a Manager* Post author

    I unexpectedly have a whole week to myself (my husband ended up having to travel to help with a family thing that came up without warning).

    I have always loved having time to myself (lived alone for years and loved it), and when I first got married two years ago, I used to love it when he traveled. Sometime recently, that apparently changed and now I don’t enjoy it when he goes away for more than a night or two. Anyway, now I unexpectedly have this week to myself and am planning to do a bunch of cleaning and projects around the house, but am otherwise feeling weirdly at a loss for how to entertain myself. I really don’t get it — I have never understood why people might not welcome a week to themselves, but two years of living with someone seems to have reprogrammed me in a way I never would have predicted. It’s very strange.

    1. The Other Dawn*

      19 years of being married hasn’t changed the fact that I love my time alone when the hubby goes camping. He’s not one to entertain himself and gets bored when I’m gone, but I’m perfectly fine just putzing around the house, watching TV, blogging and petting the cats.

    2. Amber Rose*

      That happened to me too, after a year or so (been living together 8 years now). At some point the quiet house became unsettling rather than soothing.

      Personally, I find I leave the TV on more, just for sound. And I bug my friends to go out for coffee.

    3. Wrench Turner*

      As much as I love and am inspired by my wife, I cherish my alone time, and she does, too. It’s a good reminder that, even though we’re building something greater than ourselves, we’re still two whole people with our own wants and needs. Also, when else can I pig out on spicy wings, beer, play video games and be a total bum without worrying about the mess I’m making?

    4. BRR*

      The same thing happened to me. I love a little bit but then I get lonely. I now prefer if I could get one time a week and maybe like once a month have the bed to myself. I tried to give my husband a gif certificate for a night class but he saw through it :(.

    5. Marcela*

      I love to be alone. Which is a good thing, because my husband’s life in academia moves us every 5 years and usually I find myself being alone for year, year and a half, before my own life (mostly due to visa problems, bureaucracy and the tiresome issue of “creating a home”) is stable enough so I can find a job or do stuff outside our home.

      But somehow, when he leaves for conferences, I am out of my mind of boredom. I don’t get it. He is not responsible of entertain me, I spend most of my days alone, and even when we are together at home, often he is in his office working, while I watch tv or sew, but I just get so bored/frustrated when he is not home. I just don’t understand.

    6. AnotherFed*

      I think it’s the routine – you get into habits, including habits of working around the other person or blocking out things they do, even if it isn’t really interaction, and when that’s missing it’s slightly jarring for the same reason that complete stillness is a little creepy. I don’t think there’s anything to do for it except create new routines, and then they eventually erode the old ones, or form an alternate routine that’s equally normal, just different.

    7. Cath in Canada*

      I still enjoy it (married 8 years, living together for 10), but a week is my limit – longer than that is Not Fun. 2-3 days is just perfect, and 4-7 days is perfectly tolerable, but the 1-2 month trips he’s had to do for work a couple of times have totally sucked.

    8. MT*

      Me too! I used to love spending time alone and doing my own thing but now I find when my husband travels, I’m lonely and I don’t sleep soundly.
      I’ve also noticed when I travel alone without my husband and our dog(who travels with us more than most pets I think haha!) I still feel lonely and a bit lost even if I’ve traveled to visit family for four or five days.
      Marriage. Surprises me all the time.

    9. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My husband is military and is regularly away for 1-6 months at a time. It follows a VERY predictable pattern: the first night and day or so is fun (eat what I like for dinner! Toss my clothes around the room! Sleep all over the bed!); the next 2-3 days is lonely and blue (why do I cook just for myself? my house is a mess without him contributing half the chores! Sleeping alone sucks!) and then after a week or so it’s just routine and I gripe about having to do all the chores myself.

      I liked living by myself, but now that I’m used to living with someone, being alone is more of a hassle than a vacation.

    10. Weekend Warrior*

      I know exactly what you mean. My husband and I both enjoy the place to ourselves for a few days but longer than a week feels very strange. Actually, my husband really likes me to go away for at least 3 days because it takes 2 days for our cat to crack and sit on his lap. When I’m home, she snuggles with him in bed in the morning but always chooses my lap later in the day. :)

    11. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I hear you. I cherish and crave alone time, but lately– probably after we moved– I find it weird to go to bed without him. It’s not about sleeping alone, but as someone else mentioned, the routine is “off” and it’s unsettling.

      My bf is going away next weekend for a conference, and I have BIG plans, hoo boy. In addition to preparing for Rosh Hashanah (challah, tzimmes, kugel, maaayyyybbeee soup) and binge-watching Project Runway, I’m going to bring home a rotisserie chicken and FEAST (we don’t cook meat in the house, he’s a vegetarian and he hates the smell of roast chicken).

    12. Noelle*

      I can totally commiserate. I moved in with my (now) husband about two years ago and as an introvert who loves alone time, it was tough at first. He traveled a lot for work though so I had quite a bit of time to myself. I loved it for a weekend, but one trip he went on was about a month long. The day he left I was in such a funk I was actually crying, wondering what was wrong with me, when I realized I was just missing him. I kept myself very busy during the time he was gone, and used it to catch up with a ton of people I don’t always get to see.

    13. F.*

      My husband is retired. I would LOVE to be home alone occasionally and have time to do more than run the vacuum (he hates to listen to it, so I have to do it when he goes to the gym.)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        When my boyfriend worked from home– and we lived in a studio apartment– I used to kick him out one night a week. He decided to take a class, and it was blissful for me. Get that man a hobby! :)

    14. Tris Prior*

      I hate it when Partner is out of town. Normally I can’t get enough alone time but when he leaves town the house seems so weirdly empty and unsettling.

    15. Not So NewReader*

      Our partners not only set our clocks but also fill out our calendars. (Get up at 6 to have breakfast together so one of you can go to work and the other can go back to bed for a second shift job. Days off, doctor’s appointments, birthday planning, all this stuff fills up our months. It’s kind of subtle how time consuming having a partner actually is.)

      But there’s other things. There’s a small reassurance just from their presence alone. Read a couple of horrible news articles and think “oh, what is going on out there?”. Then look over and there is partner, watching tv, reading, doing a hobby and suddenly our own little world is okay.

      Then there is the unusual event in the day. “Can’t wait to tell other half.” Or “I hope other half knows what to do here.”
      There dozens of these things, this is just a couple examples. Our partners fill up our lives.

    16. schnapps*

      My husband-type takes our daughter to his parents’ place two or three times a year for a few days/nights. I normally stay home because this is my “maintain my sanity” time.

      The last time he took her away, I spent the time purging her toys and other crap (and generally scaring the crap out of our two cats who had both been abandoned before – some catnip and treats solved that), and reorganizing the laundry room. The time before that, he took her away for one night and I was kind of upset since I’d only had about a day to myself.

      I think I’d go batty if it was longer than 4 or 5 days or so. I went on a roadtrip with girlfriends a few years back that ended up being about 10 days, and after 2 days of being away from family, I was totally distraught about having another 8 days to go through. There were several times where I was ready to max out a credit card and get a flight back home.

    17. Dan*

      It’s the routines. If your SO is home most of the time, you develop a routine centered around that.

      I’ve been single most of my life. I married my ex right as I moved back to my current area. I had developed a routine centered around her being home. Now that we’ve split, I’ve developed a life vastly different than my married one. I *like* it. To the point where if/when I get attached again, I’m holding on to parts of it.

      I used to hate time alone when my ex would go visit family. She’d call me up for an hour or two and bitch. Every night. And expect me to listen and “be supportive.” Man I got tired of that shit. Hell, I just wanted some alone time.

    18. Strategies for redesigning the entire manifest universe*

      My wife and I are pretty independent, especially now that the kids are in college. But yeah, we miss each other over separations lasting more than just a few days.

      One thing I’ll often do is go grocery shopping and bring home stuff to make meals that I normally don’t get to make (she’s not big into curries or seafood or extremely spicy foods).

      It can also be a nice opportunity for any kind of art / hobby project that requires extensive set-up / take-down time and effort: you can set it up, work on it for several days, and then take it down.

      And, of course, if you’re any kind of musician or audio hobbyist, this is when you can be as loud as you wanna be: “what does that sequence sound like in the shower?” Now’s your chance to find out. This can also lead to more freedom of exploration, since if you have an idea and it sounds like crap – nobody else need every know.

    19. the gold digger*

      I have been with my husband for almost ten years and was alone before that. I love him and I like him, but the silver lining in this medical drama with his mom and dad (that has been going on since April) is that he has been gone almost the entire time.

      I feel so bad for him, but I loooooove being by myself. (Except having to do all the chores. That part stinks.) But I go to bed when I want. I eat what and when I want – no worries that he does not like beans or anything that ends in -erry. I get home from work, change into my PJs, and watch TV (Nashville! A Place to Call Home – thank you to the person who recommended that – LOVE IT), or read.

      I don’t think I would ever remarry.

    20. cuppa*

      I used to feel that way, but the last couple of times my husband has gone out of town, I’ve actually really enjoyed it. The house stays clean. There’s only one dish to clean each night. And since he’s gone, I don’t have anything better to do than to clean it. I go to bed whenever I want (I fall asleep on the couch and cuddle with the cat if I want to!), and his alarm doesn’t wake me up two hours earlier in the morning.
      After about a week, I’m happy to have my husband back again, but I do really enjoy that little bit of time.

  26. UpNorth*

    I have very little experience with landlords. I need to break my month-to-month lease after one month.
    Backstory: I moved to a very small, unfamiliar town for work. The first apartment I rented for 4 months (May-August). The landlady had already found a renter from September onward but said I could rent it for the summer. I assumed that would give me time to find another place in my budget, but sadly there were almost no options. An older couple offered me a room for rent in their basement and while the lease is monthly, I had originally expressed that I was looking to stay somewhere long term. Only days after I moved in, I have found a much better fit for a much better price. I know I need to tell them that I’m moving out at the end of the month (I’m telling them today) but how to I go about telling them? I feel awful because they helped me out greatly when I had nowhere else to go, and they even lowered rent by almost 20% in order to accommodate my budget.
    At times I feel there needs to be a renter’s version of AAM; Ask A Landlady or something. Thanks guys (:

    1. BRR*

      Think of it as more of a business arrangement than a personal one. Thank them and give as much notice as possible so they can post it. Just let them know you found something long term that is going to be the best fit for your needs and you’ll be moving out on X day.

    2. Marcela*

      Think of it this way: now they can rent to somebody who will pay that 20% more. Just give them as much notice as you can, and keep your rooms in “decoration magazine state” at all times, in case they want to show the basement to prospective tenants.

      1. UpNorth*

        Not really a lease, its month to month, but I did sign a document agreeing to no pets, keep clean, etc. and it does say they ask for a month’s notice, which given its only 5 days into the month, I’m hoping they will be lenient. Other than the document stating ‘If you do X, Y, or Z you may be asked to leave’ there are no other consequences other than eviction, they aren’t very clear in their wording.
        As another example of this lack of clarity, they told me rent would be $X, but in the winter you will be charged an additional $Y-$Z in order to plug in your block heater (it gets that cold). But the agreement states ‘Tenant shall pay $X per month. Included in rent are the possible services of: (AC in the summer, car plug in the winter, etc.)’ So while they verbally said it would cost extra, the wording of the document makes it seem like that would be included.
        I’m just not looking forward to the awkward conversation, or their reaction, but such is life.

        1. fposte*

          Check the laws for your municipality just in case–sometimes there’s statutory stuff about notice, etc. But in general month to month means accepting that tenants go, so I wouldn’t feel bad about going.

        2. AvonLady Barksdale*

          That’s a lease! It doesn’t have to say “lease” on the document for it to actually be one. For your sake, I also hope they’re lenient, but they may balk and remind you that you agreed, in writing, to 30 days. To be honest, you really do owe them those 30 days, so they may ask you to pay something in order to keep them whole (forfeiting your security deposit is probably the easiest solution). From their end, they made all these concessions with the understanding that they wouldn’t have to go to the trouble of finding a renter again so soon, and… now that’s all for naught.

          I don’t mean to be harsh here, just realistic and practical– I’ve had really wonderful landlords, but our relationship was based on a mutual understanding of and respect for the agreements we made in the beginning, as well as building up “equity” as a good tenant. You don’t have that equity, so tread lightly and expect to negotiate something.

    3. Dan*

      Block heaters. Brings back memories.

      I’m a big fan of, “you want it, get it in writing.” This is directed at people who want one way commitments, because they don’t want the obligation themselves.

    4. Grey*

      The notice should be in writing. Have them sign it. If they try to keep any of a security deposit or rent, you’ll have proof you gave proper notice. A good landlord won’t be insulted by this request.

      No need to feel awful or guilty about anything. They sound like generous people and will probably be happy to hear you found something better for yourself.

    5. TootsNYC*

      Those are some big concessions they made–why did they do that, do you suppose?

      Oh–because they were helping you out. They were filling in a gap so you could find a different place in a more orderly manner. Weren’t they?

      “they helped me out greatly when I had nowhere else to go”

      Didn’t they help you out greatly because you had nowhere else to go?

      So now you have fulfilled their purpose (and your stated purpose). This is good news! They can either go back to having their place all to themselves (win for them!), or they can find someone else to take the room at a higher amount of money (win for them!).

      I don’t see any way there’s a downside for them.

      You’re giving them a month’s notice, so that’s good!

      “Oh, landlords–I need to tell you. I’ve found an apartment to rent sooner than I thought, and I’ll be moving out in one month. So this is the official one month’s notice, and I’m so grateful that you were able to accommodate me in the meantime.
      “What would you like me to do before I move out? I’ll clean up behind myself, of course, but would you like me to help you find someone else? I could post about it at XYZ places.”

      And if you can, volunteer to do any repair or repainting that won’t be too onerous to you but might be helpful to them.

  27. Academic Librarian*

    I know the feeling. My husband used to travel a lot and it never bothered me. Recently he was gone for two weeks in at the beginning I felt “at loose ends” I do like to go to the movies alone- stuff I know he would have hated like science fiction or fantasy. I did marathon Orange is the New Black and start a new knitting project. Good time also to clean out the closets and get rid of everything that did not “spark joy.” (now that I think about it, I did spend a lot of time on pet finder .com resulting in the adoption of the 8 year old, super anxious, super shy rescue Bichon with multiple health issues…can’t recommend that.)

  28. Rose of Cimarron*

    After a month of being ill and powering through my 55-hour work weeks in spite of it, it turns out that I have mononucleosis. In my 50s. The acute/active part of the infection seems to be over and I’m in the convalescent/tired and feeling unwell phase (which goes on for weeks or months, from what I’m hearing). So my long weekend is being spent doing very little.

    Rant: I have excellent health insurance and STILL can’t ever get an appointment with a real doctor unless I’m willing to wait six weeks – so I always get shunted to PAs. At my doctor’s office (now owned by the greedy monopoly hospital in town) the PAs are so young and inexperienced and data-driven they can barely manage the most basic of functions. I have to explain to them when antibiotics are appropriate and when they’re not, for example, and what things in my chart history mean. Seriously, some of them couldn’t diagnose a hangnail. But is the co-pay any less than if I were seeing a real doctor? Not on your life. On the other hand, the specialist PA at the ENT clinic where I finally got this diagnosis was great.

    1. Beezus*

      I’m sorry you’re dealing with that! I had mono in college and it was not fun, although the exhaustion period was mercifully short for me.

      If you find a general practice PA that you like, can you make appointments with that person instead of trying for one with a doctor and getting diverted to a random PA? I do that all the time, I love my PA and have actually never seen the doctor who is leading the practice nowadays. I think their abilities and experience vary.

    2. Observer*

      I’m sorry you are dealing with this. Can you find another practice?

      But, one thing is for sure- these PAs are NOT “data driven” or they would be aware of things like when antibiotics are appropriate. That’s what all that data is FOR.

      1. Rose of Cimarron*

        thanks for your comments! It’s been a lonely, dull weekend. I worked on taxes today.
        Virtually all the private practices in town are being bought up by the same hospital. And I’ve had my doctor a long time. I understand why the practices feel they have to sell, but it sucks for the patients.
        By data-driven, I mean their skills are limited to inputting symptoms on their technology squares and ranking things on a numerical scale. They never even look at the patient. I can find better information myself on medline or the Mayo website. Something like drug interactions or sensitivities is out of their scope. If one test is negative, they have no depth of experience to consider other causes or grasp the implications of a symptom for someone in their 50s versus someone their own age. The hospital insists they’re “just like a doctor” and it’s not even close. Their suggestion for me, instead of a mono test or exploring causes other than strep? A prescription for “Magic Mouthwash,” consisting of lidocaine, Maalox, and Benadryl. Which would have made me sicker if I’d been foolish enough to fill the prescription.

  29. The Other Dawn*

    Just had to share….

    Remember my tenant from hell that I had to evict earlier this year? According to my current tenant she still drops by to feed the neighborhood cats everyday. I think she’s just bored and wants to feel like she still lives there, because those cats belong to people and are already fed regularly. Anyway, current tenant texts me yesterday and told me that ex tenant is saying she’s pregnant by the guy she’s living in the motel with (not her husband). What’s so strange about that? She had a hysterectomy several years ago. Then she had cancer a couple years ago and had the remaining organs removed. How does one get pregnant without reproductive organs? Am I missing something here?

    1. Cath in Canada*

      You can have an ectopic pregnancy in a fallopian tube, but can’t carry the baby to term. But without ovaries? Impossible. Sounds like she’s the one that’s missing something…

      1. The Other Dawn*

        No its not ectopic. She’s acting like she’s truly pregnant and it’s a grand event. She’s 46 (yes I know one can get pregnant at that age) and doesn’t have any organs left. So she’s either lying about the hysterectomy and cancer or she’s lying about the pregnancy. Given how things went down this past year, it could be either one.

        1. Vorthys*

          I don’t know the background to your situation, but I wouldn’t be so quick to jump to the idea that she’s lying. There is a type of delusion known as a phantom or false pregnancy. It is possible that she might not be in the healthiest mental state right now.

            1. Vorthys*

              I was just mentioning as a possibility, and I hope you didn’t think I was judging you for your entirely natural response to her. Whatever her troubles are, they’re no excuse for being so awful to you or socially inappropriate towards your current tenant.

        2. Dan*

          I remember your posts. Do you actually care? Is it your problem? Are you going to do something of she actually is?

          I’d see if you can get her barred from your property and subsequently cited for trespassing if she won’t stay away.

    2. Steve G*

      Wow. My tenants are finally leaving, and on their own, they split up. Not the prettiest scene because it involved a few domestic incidents, one that occurred in the middle of the night and there was glass breaking and doors slamming and it sounded like someone was breaking into the building…..a month of drama ensued, there were protective orders and police visits and drama drama drama coming at weird hours to avoid eachother….her trying to catch him violating the order even though he didn’t, fighting over the furniture, etc. etc. Thank God we had money pending for repairs they did in the beginning (because they didn’t pay rent in August so security was gone), so we could entice them with that money to finally go.

      Also this month, their utilities finally got cut off so we had to run an extension chord upstairs to give them light to move out. It looks like they owe about $3000 for those, and that will follow them. They were telling me that we didn’t have a right to “kick them out” (um you both basically moved out so it wasn’t from us)…..I was getting mad because they were trying to get eachother “in trouble” by telling on eachother to my SO for every little thing all month, I was like, you aren’t helping the situation, it sucks and it will suck whether you get revenge or just move out, which you have to do anyway because you are splitting up and not paying rent.

      So it was a great time to be unemployed to be here to deal with the issues, and because the drama always happened really late……..

      1. Hellanon*

        I had a couple of tenants who flaked on their power bill to the tune of $6000 including penalties and interest, and the power co. finally cut them off. They came to me to try & get me to put the unit back on the building’s main account (what? no!) and I managed to persuade them that it was time to find a cheaper place (we’re under rent control, it’s complicated.). I got them to sign a 30-day notice of intent to leave, which was possibly one of the smartest things I did last year: had I evicted them for failing to maintain the unit in a safe and habitable condition (let’s not talk about the gas company, shall we?), *I* would have had to have paid the $6000 to the power company.

        Good to know, you know?

  30. Persehone Mulberry*

    How can I improve the speed of my home wifi? We have Comcast, the 60mbps plan or something like that. All the devices that are plugged directly into the router are fast, but the wifi is dead slow.

    1. BRR*

      I’d probably do a speed test just to see what you’re getting. If not you can ask them to exchange the router or buy your own that’s approved (although knowing them that will be it’s own ordeal).

      1. BRR*

        It also matters where your router is and if it’s a busy time for internet usage in the neighborhood/house.

    2. danr*

      Your router and the chip in your wifi devices both need to be in sync. I’m on comcast too, and have my own router. Right now it’s an old linksys where the highest speed uses the type n protocol. My laptop connects at 130 mpbs, also using the type n protocol, which is fast enough for what I need. The router is getting a bit unreliable, so I’ll be going to a new router at some point.
      Here is something to try. Cycle the whole system. Turn the computer that is the prmary connection off. Pull the power plug on the cable modem and pull the power plug on the router (if you have a separate router). Wait about 5 minutes. Then turn everything on. Boot the computer and wait until it’s running. Plug the modem back in, then start the router. Then test your speed.

    3. All can be returned. All can be taken away.*

      This is one of those things that can be difficult to diagnose remotely – for instance, what kind of wifi adapters do all of your wireless devices use? If you know how, you can find this info fairly easily by logging into your router. But if you don’t know how to do that, then it’s ‘difficult’.

      But a few things: as others recommended, try simply rebooting your router. You may also want to reboot all of your wireless devices. It can happen that two or more devices may end up assigned the same IP address on your home network, which can cause problems[1].

      Also – do a quick ‘reality check’ on your internet usage. You’ve got 60Mbps? That’s 60 million bits per second. Or 7.5 million bytes per second. What protocol(s) are used by your router? What protocol(s) are used by your wireless devices? Wifi g will do up to 54 million bits per second. But if you have (say) 4 devices using Wifi g, and they’re all viewing videos at the same time, then (theoretically) each device will only get 54 / 4 = 13.5 million bits per second. This is just an off-the-cuff example – the point I’m trying to make is: if you’re attempting to suck 256mbps through a 54mbps pipe – it’s not going to work very well.

      You should load up an internet connection speed test app on all of your wireless devices and check what kind of rate you’re getting. Don’t forget that distance and the ‘stuff’ between your wireless device and the router can make a difference in how fast your data may flow.

      Finally, something that most people don’t consider: how ‘crowded’ is your local RF spectrum? See if you can find / download a free copy of InSSIDer or something similar that will show you what other routers are operating in your vicinity. You may be able to change the band your router is operating in to one that is less crowded. If your equipment will do 5GHz band, try to use that – in many places, it is less crowded. I’ve put up a sample InSSIDer display on my name link that, I think, will give you some idea of what it does.

      I hope this helps a bit.

      [1] If this happens, you may want to consider giving all of your wireless devices static addresses on your wireless network – I had to do this at home, what with people coming and going with wireless devices every day, DHCP wasn’t too smart about assigning IP addresses and so we’d suffer collisions, which slowed things considerably and caused other issues as well.

  31. No Longer a Job-Hunt Newbie*

    So, I’ve been settled in my new state for two months at the end of September. I’ve been missing home a lot lately, and my family, whom I haven’t seen since my move. This is my first time ever away from home, and my first time leaving my home state permanently. I was totally fine when I first got here, but now the reality of all of my friends/family being a 4 hour drive away, and not being able to be right down the road from them is setting in. I’m also missing all of my old haunts, my old job/coworkers (they were pivotal to me during my time as a student, and were my rock during my first post-college job hunt!), and my dog. I can’t take time off for another month or so, and won’t be able to head home again after that until Christmas. For anyone who has up and moved to a new state/far away from family and friends…how do you manage the homesickness?

    On a positive note though…I love this job, and my new coworkers have been phenomenal. It’s my first post-college job, and the one I was really hoping I would get. We all go out and hang out together frequently, so I’m settling in nicely here! Having new friends has made the transition so much easier.

    1. Colette*

      It’s hard. I moved across the country after university, and it took six months before I stopped being homesick all the time. Part of it was that it took me time to make friends here, but part of it was that everything was more of an effort. I had to figure out what stores I liked, where to buy everything, what entertainment options there were, how to get to everywhere, etc.

      It’s really hard, but it does get easier.

    2. Windchime*

      I moved 2 1/2 hours away from my home city about 4 years ago. At first it was really hard; I was from a small place where you would almost always run into people that you knew whenever you went out, whether it be to the grocery store or Target or JCPenney. So when I moved here, I was always automatically looking for people that I recognized. “Oh, there’s Mike!” Except Mike doesn’t live here, and that’s just a guy who kinda reminds me of Mike. It took me a long time to get over that habit of looking for familiar people in a sea of strangers.

      But it eventually got better; I started making friends at work and now I recognize the people who work at Safeway and the pet store and people in the neighborhood. It just takes time.

      1. NacSacJack*

        My first job out of college, I never ran into anyone from work after work or on weekends. I moved back home to a much bigger metro area and every weekend I ran into someone I knew. In fact, this is the first State Fair in 10+ years that I didnt run into anyone I knew. daily attendance at the MN State Fair is over 100,000. Whats the likelihood of 2 people out of 100,000 in a metro area of 2.2 million running into each other. :) Gotta love the state fair.

    3. AnotherFed*

      I moved 600 miles away from my family for my first post-college job. I’d moved enough as a kid to have a pretty standard plan for making friends and getting involved in a new place to turn it into home:

      1) join a sports team (local rec leagues are great). As long as you try, most rec teams are happy to have you even if you’re terrible at the sport, and you’ll end up with a team full of people you have at least one thing in common with. Things like kickball, soccer, and basketball aren’t very expensive if you need to buy gear.

      2) join some sort of volunteer activity that seems interesting. Many places are happy to take anyone willing to work, and even if the work is boring, helping a good cause always distracts me from feeling homesick or sorry for myself. Animal shelters are a good way to get a pet fix if you can’t own a pet right now – it’s not all playing with cute puppies/kittens, but the shelters I helped at would let you spend time with the animals after you’d done your other work.

      3) join the local library and sign up for the email list. Sometimes there are interesting events, sometimes the library turns out to have useful services (notary public, meeting spaces, career help, etc.), and libraries seem to attract flyers for a whole range community events. Plus, books!

      4) Become a regular at someplace non-chain that you like – coffee shop, brewery, indie music store, whatever. You’ll meet other people who have at least one thing in common with you, and weekly trivia contest/live music/poetry night/karaoke contest/your thing can be a nice weekly highlight that doesn’t break the budget.

    4. VintageLydia*

      We moved 4 hours away from our hometown 6 years ago and it took us a few years to really get comfortable. Part of it was the area we first moved to wasn’t a great fit (it’s the DC area and we first moved to Alexandria in a cheap for the region apartment complex right off Rt. 1. Took us 30 minutes to get to the grocery store a couple miles away.) We finally decided to move further out, close to commuting options but in a town with enough personality that we didn’t feel like we were missing out by not going to the city as often. In that time I spent a lot of time online and joined groups on MeetUp and now we have more local friends. Although frankly my closest local friend I met on the comment section of Consumerist so you know, always keep in eye out for those opportunities to meet new people.
      Before I moved I wasn’t social and was relying entirely on work friends and the few high school friends for my needs. I’m still close to a lot of those people, but if I had a chance to move back, I’d probably turn it down. We’re well ensconced in this area with lots of things to do, good friends and neighbors, AND with all the resources of DC about an hour away. It’s going to be lonely for a bit and making friends as an adult is a LOT harder. It’s like dating, actually. But if you like your area you’ll make it work.

    5. Steve G*

      My first job out of college was 14 hours from home, and I didn’t go home for 9 ½ homes (one sister visited for a week, that was it). Any feeling of homesickness faded over time, I “filled the void” with travel/tourist attractions in the area + obviously new friends + job. Also helps to know what is going on back home, and besides two big family parties for birthdays + mothers day BBQ, not much was going on. So it was occasional homesickness being away, or boredom after a while being home.

      Was also cool to get a surprise package of pictures from a family party where they all posed in weird places holding up sign with sarcastic messages or inside jokes to me, with a blown up pic of my head taped up on a train station and a light pole in a busy town, a sister who did a glam shot with feathered tall 80s hair and gaudy clothes, etc.

    6. NacSacJack*

      My first job out of college was 4 hours from home and we only got a half day of vacation for every month we didnt call in sick. Holiday weekends and quick trips home helped. I’m glad your co-workers are working out both as co-workers and after-work friends. That is good.

  32. Cath in Canada*

    I just got back from my weekly writing group meet-up. Another member of the group – a fellow scientist – is outlining an entire novel in Excel. She’s using conditional formatting and count-if functions to make sure the balance of character POVs, pacing, and plot elements is right. I have found My People!

    1. katamia*

      Oh, neat! I use Excel for timelines, conlangs (fantasy writer/linguist here), etc., but have never tried using it for that. I don’t do much plotting in advance, though.

      1. Hellanon*

        Me neither. I outlined a whole novel at one point and in the process figured out that: 1) planning is not writing, in the sense that it’s easy for me to say what’s going to “happen” when I’m in outline mode; being in the world of the story is an entirely different experience, and 2) once I figured out everything that was going to happen, I was bored & had no further interest in the thing. Somebody said you can navigate across the entire country without being able to see anything beyond the beam of your headlights, and that’s how I like to write…

  33. ananon for the weekend*

    So. I have two questions, related but different, hopefully different enough to post separately.

    This is the first. I’d really like some data points from only children. I’ve seen all the stats about only children being happier, but they are just talking about childhood. I want to know about being an adult. I know you can’t compare, but do you feel that something is missing? Is it hard when there are problems with your parents or other family? When you hear about people talking about siblings do you think ‘I kinda wish I knew what what was like?’ or ‘Thank Christ I don’t have to deal with insanity like that!’?

    FTR my DH was out of touch with his family for a long time; he’s now back in touch with them but his sister has now torched all the relationships she had with her family, so I know that even if you have more than one kid there is not any guarantee that they are going to be family forever. I just know that if you only have one child there is zero chance of them having that sibling relationship, and I also know that I’m not having any more kids.

    But it kind of kills me not to give him a chance at it.

    Would really love some data points to try and figure out if I’m worrying about nothing. Or to start saving for therapy if I’m not :-/

    1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      I’m an only child. My parents wanted more children, but my mom’s cancer when I was young effectively nixed that.

      There are upsides and downsides. It’s nice to not have to deal with some of the horror stories I hear from friends and coworkers regarding siblings with criminal histories, drug problems, insane family drama, etc. I like having cousins, and never felt that I missed siblings. But now that my dad is ill and I live in a different country, it’s unnerving–I wish I had a sibling to bounce ideas and thoughts off of and to take some of the pressure off me. It would be nice to not feel like I have to be everything to my parents.

      I would never say that I felt like something was missing. How would I? I’ve never had a sibling, so I have no idea what it’s like, so I can’t be missing it. And honestly, I don’t necessarily wish I did–it’s more of a “Well, maybe it would have been nice” rather than a “I WISH I had a sibling, life would be so much easier!” because there’s no guarantees with sibling relationships in adulthood. I think if there are problems with family relationships, the presence or absence of siblings is a minor matter compared with whatever the major problem is.

      I don’t mind it. Sometimes it would be nice, most of the time it never enters my consciousness.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        That is really reassuring FDCA. Thank you.

        I suppose part of it is the lack of likely cousins as well. He has three but they live in a foreign country and are highly likely to stay there. He loves seeing them and we skype when we can, but it’s not the same as my experience as a kid, where every new year all of my cousins and aunts and uncles got together in the same house and we played Risk. And my other sibling is unlikely to have kids in the next five years and might not have them at all.

        I’m thinking out loud here I guess.

    2. Weekend Warrior*

      I have 2 sibs and am close to one of them but it’s really the cousin group that has been really satisfying. Of course, that means our parents had to have sibs, 5 in the case of my dad, 4 of whom had 1-3 kids each. So not big families but enough to make for nice size family get togethers a few times a year and an ongoing interest in each other’s lives and a shared history. I have talked about this with people who were onlies and so were their parents. The family ties dwindle unless they are really intentional at reaching out. But that’s true of all of us.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        Haha my reply to FDCA was partly to you. Oops.

        I suppose I need to enable his connections to the family he does have.

        Thank you. It does help to hear other stories.

        I guess I just can’t imagine not having my two siblings. We very rarely sit in the same room together but we have that shared history and we can call each other on our shit. We don’t always understand each other but they are the only people I can message when everything goes up shit creek and know they will at least try to understand.

    3. Accountant*

      I have one child who has about a 95% chance of being an only. I read the book “One And Only” by Lauren Sandler. It was very reassuring. Tons of research and data about only children both as kids and adults. It really put my mind to rest about having one kid, and gave me some things to think about when planning for the future– for example, I’m much more aggressive about saving for retirement because I don’t want to be a burden on her. I wouldn’t want to be a burden on any children, but I’m especially aware of it with an only.

      And you’re absolutely right– what it boils down to is the fact that life is complicated and there are no guarantees, no matter what. You just have to do what is best for your family.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        Oh thanks for the book rec – I hadn’t realised it dealt with adulthood too. I’ll try and get hold of it.

        i think part of it is that i’ve been pregnant three times. It just doesn’t seem fair that out of that I only got one child.

        1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

          In the same boat (about to have first baby, third pregnancy, hoping so much that it all goes well.) So sorry for your losses.

    4. Colette*

      I’m not an only child, but I have friends who are, as well as friends who have one sibling, and as far as caring for parents go, having siblings is not guarantee that you’ll have help. The sibling might move away or have health issues and one child still does it all.

      I think a larger support group is the answer – cousins, but also close friends or, for that matter, paid professionals.

      1. Weekend Warrior*

        I like to think karma pays attention too. My sister and I are taking care of financial and other life details for an elderly bachelor cousin of my mom’s. My mom is deceased and his nieces and other relatives live in another city so if not us, who? Neither of us have children and I like to think our cousin’s kids will keep an eye on us in turn. I do joke warn one of these kids that she won’t have to pay for my nursing home or clip my toenails, but she may have to arrange for the clipping!

      2. Dan*

        Yup. My brother and his wife live 10 minutes from my mom and dad. I live 600 miles from them. Mom and dad didn’t save much for retirement, and don’t have spare cash to write checks with. I’m also not moving to where they are.

        So, old age is going to get interesting, and I’m probably going to be the sibling that “isn’t pulling their weight.” And you know what? Sometimes life just ain’t fair.

      3. ananon for the weekend*

        My mum is one of 6; 2 still live close by. Both female, both children in the middle. Those who are furthest away are the oldest and youngest. I don’t find this in the least bit surprising.

    5. Dynamic Beige*

      I’m not an only child, but my mother was. She simply did. not. get. family as an actual thing and had a lot of unrealistic expectations. Now, admittedly, she did not have the kind of happy childhood that one would hope all children get. She desperately missed having siblings. When my sister and I would fight — the usual kid stuff — she just didn’t get it. More than once, it was all “I just don’t understand you girls. When I was your age, I used to dream of having a sister. We would be best friends and do everything together…” That is literally what she would say. I would just glare at her. She had no contact with her grandparents or cousins, they lived on other continents, I don’t believe she ever met them. My grandfather (who was her step father) was also an only child (his mother had died of cancer when he was 13) so there was another one who didn’t get the concept of sharing and stuff. When my grandmother died — which was pretty sudden — my mother essentially lost her family. Unfortunately, due to her “issues” she didn’t work at trying to create the kind of family she wanted for her kids — she just thought it would happen, somehow. And when it didn’t, she didn’t know how to fix it, keeping things the way they were was just easier and “safer” for her — but it did us no favours.

      So my advice would be: if you’re only going to have one child, then make sure that they have friends. That she has as much exposure as possible to other people outside the family. Cousins, the children of your friends, neighbours. Sleep away camp, T-ball, scouts, exchange students, early baby sitting jobs, working in retail. Get her into volunteering or something so that she learns it’s not just all about her. That she learns how to build her own support network, that she sees you having people more than just “the family”. It’s a big order. My mother’s upbringing was very insular and it didn’t help her development. But then again, there wasn’t day care and pre-K when she was little. We didn’t know then as much as we do now about psychology and childhood development, people didn’t pay as much attention to stuff like that.

      1. Marcela*

        What you said it’s very interesting. My brother is my best friend: we are in different hemispheres and we talk all day, every day. But we are an anomaly, nobody else in our family has the same relationship with her/his siblings. We just happened, as I don’t think my mother truly understood what she wanted for us. She kept us very isolated, never letting us to go to our friends’ places or anything like that. Perhaps that created such a strong bond between us, but in truth I was the one to be restrained, not him.

      2. Dan*

        The thing is, other people aren’t going to just do what you want. Life doesn’t work that way. I have a brother, we pretty much only talk when wet get together for the holidays. There’s no bad blood — we were very different people growing up, and don’t have much to bond over now.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Like I said, unrealistic expectations. If she had had a sister or a cousin close in age she could have experienced the whole sibling rivalry thing. And, she openly favoured my sister and played us off each other and would then wonder why we didn’t get along. Uh… because you prefer it if we don’t, it gives you something to do?

      3. matcha123*

        I can identity with this. Most of my mom’s family died when she was younger and she only has contact with one member and has cut off contact with another. It’s that person who apparently knows about all the extended family.

        The family concept is so foreign to me. I’ve never met my grandparents, because they were dead, never met any extended family aside from the one aunt’s kids and even then only a handful of times in elementary school.
        I think my mom wanted to protect us from this dysfunction she experienced, but I just feel weird listening to people talk about their huge families.

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Me too. I have cousins I’ve never met, one of which died in his 20’s. The others I haven’t seen in decades. Big huge family is weird and kind of overwhelming to me, I just have no experience of it. When I hear people talking about it, I’m a small part envious and a larger part just exhausted thinking about it.

      4. ananon for the weekend*

        This is really helpful. Hard work and a bit scary but helpful. Thank you for sharing your experience.

    6. Going Anon for This One*

      I’m an only child. I don’t really like it now that I’m an adult. All of my parents’ expectations fall on me, which means I’m basically frying in the hot seat every conversation — “why aren’t you dating, why aren’t you married, when are you going to think about these things to give us grandchildren, when will you start making enough money to take care of us, why don’t you come to church,” on and on. There’s no buffer or anyone to take the heat off of me.

      Frankly, I didn’t much like it as a kid either. I was not well-liked and consequently interacted with books more than people since I didn’t have siblings to play with, which I think has contributed immensely to my shyness, insecurity and inability to branch out now that I’m grown. I didn’t feel comfortable doing extracurriculars for most of my school career, never got into sports, and never (and still don’t) feel like I can go places by myself like out to eat or to the movies.

      Ultimately I’m not every only child and you have to make the choice that’s right for you, but it’s not always fun for only children which can affect them later, and it can be hard for only children when they grow up to be the only one parents heap expectations upon.

      1. Marcela*

        This is not consolation, but I have a sister and a brother, and my parents all over us for different issues. With me, it’s why I don’t have children / doing very expensive treatments to get pregnant because I can’t conceive / trying to adopt or why I don’t have a good job or stop moving around the workd. With my brother, is why can’t he find a good girl / get married /get a better job so he can support them even more. I don’t talk to my sister, so I don’t know what they say to her, but I’m sure she is not free of their whining.

        And as I said in a comment before, my mother very much kept us at home. I wasn’t allowed to go to my friends’ places, so I’m naturally inclined to be alone and to freak out in social meetings. I hate this.

      2. ananon for the weekend*

        Oh god, your first para – I sincerely hope that I never treat my child like that :( I am already trying to practice letting him have autonomy over his choices even though he’s only young. This is just another reason to keep on with that and try and remember that I don’t necessarily know what’s best for him.

        If it helps though I have two siblings and I was still not well liked and read more than I played with them (or anyone else).

      3. Not me*

        Wow, I really relate to this.

        I have cousins who are siblings, and it seems like two of them see themselves in a competition. Their parents didn’t set them up like that, it just… happened. I’m not jealous of those two at all. But my other cousins who are farther apart in age or have more siblings seem to have really good relationships with each other. I kind of wish I had grown up like that.

        1. Not me*

          I want to add to this that I’m thankful that I learned to be independent early. Yeah, I felt distant from my classmates, but maybe that’s because I wasn’t so socially needy. I could entertain myself and really get lost in books. And while there’s never been a buffer when I have problems with my parents, the same goes when things are going well.

    7. Goliath Gary Willikers*

      It’s funny you frame it as “good for children, bad for adults”, because I hated being an only child when I was a kid, but I’m fine with it as an adult.

      As a child, I was lonely for other kids, I sometimes felt overwhelmed by my parents’ attention, I had a harder time relating to kids than to adults and books, and I lived in a conservative Christian bubble, where people weren’t shy about telling me that being an only child made me and my parents morally suspicious. Being a kid, I was also too young to appreciate the opportunities being an only child probably gave me: all the vacations we were able to go on and expensive extracurriculars that would have been out of reach.

      Now, I can appreciate those things, and I also appreciate how hard having another child would have been for my mother. I’m old enough to understand that my parents made the right choice for themselves. I do worry about caring for my parents, but I remind myself that help wouldn’t be guaranteed even if I had siblings, and my parents have worked hard to ensure that their end-of-life planning doesn’t all fall on me. They also let me live my life without making me the receptacle of all their expectations: no pressuring me to marry or give them grandchildren. I think if you want your only child to feel at peace as an adult, that’s what you can do.

      1. katamia*

        Yeah, I was a bit lonely as a kid, especially once I got to middle school and most of my friends were no longer within walking distance. (My parents were pretty happy to drive me to see friends, but I’m not a planner by nature and wasn’t great about making those plans.) But I’m also a bit of a loner just by nature, so I don’t think it was as uncomfortable for me as it might have been for a kid who always wanted to play with other kids. I’m not sure if I was born that way or if being an only child made me that way. I also spent more time talking to adults and reading books than I think kids with siblings did, so I had some trouble relating to other kids as well, but I was never friendless, either, and I’m not the type of person who needs a lot of friends.

      2. ananon for the weekend*

        Like I say elsewhere in this thread he’s quite a sociable kid but also quite independent and quite often if we’re at the park or something with his friends he’ll wander off on his own. I try not to encourage that instinct too much (he gets plenty of alone time at home) but it does reassure me that he isn’t yearning too much for contact with other kids. I do try and arrange plenty of play dates and one of my&my husband’s friends has a child 2 years older who has lots of half-siblings but doesn’t see much of them so we see them every weekend and they have a very sibling-like relationship….. they love each other but also drive each other mad!

        Thanks for sharing your experience.

    8. Finny*

      I’m an only child. I was a twin, but said twin died the day after we were born. My parents kept trying for years to have more kids, as both came from three-child families. It never worked, and I’m glad of it, both then and now. People have always been more annoyances to me than anything else, and I have no real interest in social interaction in person. I never wanted any siblings, and still don’t.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        Oh that’s interesting because the typical trope is if you’re a surviving twin you must feel that there’s something missing. Good to hear that that hasn’t been your experience. Thank you.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      I’m an only child. Did. not. like. it. at. all. Some of that was due to circumstances at that time.

      So here are some random thoughts:
      As an adult, I am used to it. People will catch me on stuff. A person who hates going places alone- I think that having someone go with me is a luxury, I try not to say that out loud because it just sounds so flippant. I hate going alone sometimes, but I go because what else is there? Once I get there things are fine.

      I think in some ways it toughened me up and prepared me for life. I don’t look to see if anyone is going to help, I am not used to having anyone around like that. I sometimes forget to look when I should look- “Oh, did not see you picking up the other end of this 12 foot board! sorry, I clobbered you.”

      But around the holidays- I hear so much complaining. People are so unhappy with their families, their holidays, the food, etc the list just goes on and on. That makes me sad about the world we have.

      However, on the bright side- I have friends and cousins that are probably a better deal than if I had siblings. They are a very supportive, loving, thoughtful group. I think that in some ways being an only forces a person to extrovert themselves, where they might not have if they had more family.

      Last thought and it’s one that someone gave me, it’s not mine. I could not understand why sibs would give up on each other and abandon each other. Coming from an atheist, I thought the reference was interesting: “We are supposed to go out and populate the earth. Even a daddy robin will push the babies out of the nest”, my friend said. So we scatter- spread out for any number of reasons we move away from some people and toward other people. Maybe it does make sense after all.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        The last bit – one of my sisters lives on a different land mass to me. The other ended up moving to the same city as me, 200 miles from my parents. Funny how it goes! And of my mum’s siblings, only two live close to their parents; most are hundreds of miles away and one is on a different continent.

        He loves his cousins. I think I’d kind of accepted that they wouldn’t be that close living so far away, but I think I’ll do what I can to nurture their relationship as they get older. I remember how much I loved my cousins even though I hardly saw them.

        Thank you NSNR.

    10. schnapps*

      So I’m an only child. My husband-type is basically an only child (his half brother was 18 years old when husband-type was born and was out of the house by that point). We have one child, a girl, who will likely be an only child unless there’s an oops (she’s 6 right now). Because both of us are only children for all intents and purposes, having another is a huge decision for us. We know nothing about sibling dynamics or siblings generally. I have this thing where I don’t think about a person being a sibling to another person, and I’m usually pretty surprised to find out that people I meet for the first have sisters or brothers. It just doesn’t occur to me.

      I am perfectly happy in my own or in a small group. Personally, I think only children are a bit more – um, resilient, or independent, and better able to figure out how to entertain themselves. This is the difference between “alone” vs. “lonely”.

      I’ve often been asked, “What’s it like growing up as an only child?” and my response later in life was, “What’s it like growing up with a brother(s)/sister(s)?” The point is, I have no context for anything other than being an only child. If people press me and ask, “Is it lonely?” I just respond, “No, I had friends and playmates. I wasn’t lonely.”

      So I guess my point is, it’s contextual. What will your kid make of it? What will you help your kid make of it?

      I don’t know if I’m making any sense here, but it makes sense in my world. :)

    11. Sandy*

      Our daughter will be an only child due to complications surrounding her birth.

      I’ve really struggled with the idea. A lot of self-imposed pressure was relieved a few months ago, when I took a step back and reminded myself that I have two siblings and don’t have a good relationship with either one.

      We’ll see how she feels about it in eighteen years or so.

      1. misspiggy*

        Yes. Life has many phases and not all will be happy, even in the luckiest lives. I like having a brother now, but frankly my childhood would have been happier without him, for reasons which were entirely not his fault.

    12. dragonzflame*

      I’m an only child. It was okay when I was young, barring learning the hard way that you never say anything bad about someone’s sibling, even if they said it first. Sometimes it was lonely, but you do get good at entertaining yourself. Also, I learned how to talk to adults and come across well, which helped a lot in my early working years.

      Honestly, as an adult though, I really wish I did have a brother or sister. One of my parents had a serious health scare a few years ago, and I really wanted someone who ‘got’ it to share it with. Neither my husband or my other parent shared the same perspective. And I’m acutely conscious that one day I’ll be responsible for clearing out a house and have nobody to share the feelings and memories with, or to help make decisions.

      For those reasons, I’ve told my husband that I insist on two children.

      On the plus side, I did have opportunities and financial help that I wouldn’t have had if there’s been more kids, so there’s that.

      1. Sorcha*

        I’m sorry to have to say this, but having a sibling is no guarantee of any of that. I have a brother, and he’s the last person I’d say I “shared a perspective” with. He doesn’t get the way I think or feel, and vice versa. He’s also no help when it comes to dealing with practicalities, so all that fell on me anyway.

        1. ananon for the weekend*

          True, but it’s like I say: if you don’t get a sibling there is zero chance. If you do, it’s somewhere larger than zero. Not a guarantee but much better odds.

      2. Not So NewReader*

        When I cleared out my father’s house, I thought even if I had a sibling to be mad at, that would be of some help. The next thought I had was “yikes”. I guess this is why siblings fight sometimes when they lose a parent, the fighting is a distraction for the hugeness of the death and cleaning up the estate.
        Very seldom do we see any two people experience a person’s passing in a similar manner. That loss is different to each individual. Anyone, be it an only or a person with siblings who has to work alone on cleaning up an estate, reeeally works their tails off. It’s a lot of work and it’s very emotional.
        The one thing that ticked me off was the people who would not come help, because they “did not want anything”. Fine, then don’t take anything home with you, but please will you come help? “No, I don’t want anything.” HUH? I don’t get it when sibs do this to each other.

      3. ananon for the weekend*

        The house clearing thing – yeah. I have hoarding tendencies, and this thought is one of the reasons I’m working on it. I don’t want to leave my child a house like my parents’. When it comes to clearing that it’s likely to be just me, my youngest sis and my husband, and that will be a LOT of work. I shudder to think how much worse it’ll get by then, too.

        1. schnapps*

          Bless you.

          Honestly, I cringe every time I look at my inlaws’ place knowing that one day, we’re going to have to be the ones to clear it out, especially their “filing cabinet” with important papers (a cupboard with various papers randomly stuffed into it). If the house itself weren’t solid and recently reno’d, I’d suggest the solution would be a can of gas and a lighter, there’s so much stuff.

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            i am on board with can of gas and lighter, although I’ll have the bonfire the the garden! It’ll be burning for a good few days :-/

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I am here to say that cleaning up your parent’s estate can teach you and can help you to curb your own hoarding tendencies.

          One house had a van and a half of brown paper bags. ( Yes, just paper bags filled the van one and half times. It was a larger home.) It was the bags that gave me the kick in the butt I needed. Some day someone will clean my stuff up. I don’t ever want anyone thinking that I am like this. And having cleaned up four houses, I know what a process it is and I do not to make mine a bigger ordeal than need be.
          For current time, I want to know where my stuff is and what I have. Mountains of stuff is not going to get me to this goal. I can’t let things pile up into mountains.

          Surprisingly, with cleaning up that last house I had the opposite problem. I became disgusted with what people save and how much of it they save. Going back to the paper bag example, at some point they had to have known they were accruing paper bags at a pace that was faster than how they used them up. A secondary clue would have been when they started storing them in the attic because there was no space for them on the three floors below. This is just one example, there are many, many more examples. I took it to heart. I decided that it was not enough to not want to live like this, I also had to be deliberate every day about not letting stuff stagnate and pile up. Happily, this is no longer a struggle to do this.

          1. TheLazyB (UK)*

            Even just the thought of clearing it helps.

            My parents have furniture and sentimental items from at least four dead relatives in their garage. The last died…. God, like a decade ago. I shudder to think what it’ll be like after my last two grandparents die.

          2. TheLazyB (UK)*

            Wow I just reread the paper bags thing. I thought you meant bags full of paper. Just, wow. That is sobering.

            1. Not So NewReader*

              They would use one bag to put other bags into. The bags inside the outer bag were folded neatly and neatly placed into the outer bag. They were organized by size.

              I tried carrying them down to the van, but the two flights of stairs were killing me. I started throwing them down each flight. The van was so full we could not see out any of the windows behind us.

              One of the clutter books I have read said, “when you are organizing your home and getting rid of clutter, do NOT make yourself into an expert on packing things in tighter. That is self-defeating.” Oh my, yes.

    13. katamia*

      In general, I think some people are happy being only children and some people aren’t. I know when I was little I used to beg my parents for a sibling (wound up with a dog they called my sister, lol) and really feel like I was missing out even though most of my friends fought a lot with their siblings. However, it also taught me to be comfortable being alone and create my own entertainment rather than always depending on other people for it, which has been useful as an adult.

      I also suspect my social skills would be better (mine aren’t terrible, but they could certainly be improved) if I’d had to deal with a sibling growing up. My first roommate in college and I were both only children, and I think if we were more used to sharing our space we wouldn’t have wound up screaming at each other every day by the end of the first semester (I switched rooms after winter break, thankfully).

      On the other hand, I got to do a lot of things (attend magnet middle and high schools far from my house, expensive summer camps, college of my choice, trip to Europe as a teenager) that I wouldn’t have been able to do with a sibling because there wouldn’t have been enough money/time. Those were really enriching experiences that helped me make a lot of great friends and learn a lot of interesting things I wouldn’t have been exposed to otherwise.

      On the OTHER other hand, this also means there’s no one to deflect my parents’ attention onto. My parents and I have struggled a lot with appropriate boundaries during my adulthood, and I think it would be easier to draw those boundaries if they had more kids to pay attention to.

      I think all parents do the wrong thing for their kid(s) at various points in their lives. There are bad points and good points to growing up as an only child, just like there are for growing up with a sibling. (For the record, my parents each grew up with a sibling, and one of my parents basically thinks their sibling is Satan now while the other parent’s sibling had a lot of trouble with drugs and unemployment. This isn’t what made them decide to only have one kid, but I definitely saw a lot of the downsides to having a sibling even as a kid.)

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        I do honestly think that parents either have appropriate boundaries, or they don’t. If you’re an only you might get a bit more of a focus on you, but having siblings wouldn’t have prevented that.

        Your last paragraph is really true I think, about everyone doing the wrong thing sometimes and good and bad points for both.

    14. Yoshi*

      I’m my mom’s only child, my dad went on to have other children. I was close to my cousins growing up, so I don’t feel like I missed out in that sense, but I do worry about the future. I moved across the country a year ago for graduate school, and I know my mom is very lonely. I’m also worried about how to support her as she ages, and am terrified to think about what would happen should she have serious medical issues, both from a financial and an emotional standpoint. I also think these concerns are exacerbated by the fact that she’s not in a relationship, so it’s really just the two of us.

    15. Short and Stout*

      I think the vast range of responses here show that the only child experience is as broad as that of the oldest child or youngest sibling. There are so many factors that contribute toward a happy childhood beyond the question of having siblings.

      Unfortuntley, there are too many people who have not realised that others’ life experiences can be very different from their own and see fit to comment on it. I’ve had people tell me that they never would have guessed that I was an only child because they didn’t think I was self centred or intent on getting my own way … This is not ok! People need to deal with their prejudices.

      I’m an only child with no cousins; my father is also an only child. My life circumstances just are what they are, and largely I find that I’m content :)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        More of that stereotyping stuff. Non-only children can be selfish, too. I think society has gotten a little more awareness from when I was growing up. I very seldom hear that remark anymore. I wondered how much of the remark was actually jealousy because of a perception that only children “have it all”.
        Ha! My parents were so determined that I would not be that spoiled brat- I remember senior year of high school I had two tops and two pants. That was my entire school wardrobe. There were lots of lessons in that one that my parents never intended me to learn. As the decades have rolled out, I realize that there is lots of stuff that just does not bother me. Life isn’t always fair, either. Anytime a person can roll with the punches that is only to their benefit.

      2. ananon for the weekend*

        Yeah I think that’s what I was hoping, that there would be a range of responses and I could relax a bit, and I think that’s what I’ve found here.

    16. MT*

      I’m an only child, on purpose. My parents always told me they only wanted one.
      Because of that I’d say my experience as an only child is different from only children whose parents wanted more kds but couldn’t have them.
      My parents made me conscious from a young age that being an only child was different, that people would assume I was spoiled and self centered and they truly made sure I was neither.
      Growing up I don’t remember ever asking for a sibling. I had lots of pets, but I don’t think I ever wanted a sibling. I liked my family being just the three of us. I’m not competitive and being an only child meant if I wanted to stay home with dad or go shopping g with mom or vice versa, I was welcome to choose. I also never had to fight for a “good seat” in the car haha!
      A couple caveats that make my situation unique: my dad has two siblings, one of which had two kids about my age(my only cousins) and my mom has a sister, a half brother and a step brother, none of whom had kids. Most of my parents friends did not have children so I spent an unusual amount of time with adults outside of school. I actually found kids my own age annoying because of their immaturity, it was only when I was an adult and spending time with people 5-10 years older than I that I felt more comfortable(my husband is 6 years older than I am too)
      Also something to consider about only children: because they don’t have a built-in playmate of a sibling, they’ll play pretend and spend lots of time alone playing. This isn’t terrible, kids have great imaginations. I started reading at a young age and that filled a lot of time for me.
      I had a great experience as an only child and plan to have an only child myself. There are soany advantages, a family of three is less expensive so you can travel a lot more(I traveled a lot as a child but never realized how unusual that was until I was close to adulthood) and the relationships between parent and child is different, at least in my experience. My parents raised me and then at a point, we just crossed over to a friendship. I’m grateful to be an only child.
      As far as the future: yes, I worry that I am the only one who can care for my parents when they are elderly. I’m sure they have always worried about me as well, when you have one child you take a leap of faith that that child will live and thrive.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        He does have an AMAZING imagination, but I think that’s probably nothing to do with being an only right now, he’s still quite young for the sibling thing to make a difference. The other day we were jumping in imaginary puddles running down the street :) and he comes up with crazy stories sometimes, I love hearing them!

        And that leap of faith that the one child will live – that is part of what utterly terrifies me about having an only :(

        Thank you.

    17. Sprocket*

      I’m an only child now nearing 30. While I do at times wish I had a sibling or 2, I also appreciate that I had to learn how to keep myself happy and occupied (which fostered great imagination), I make friends very easily and am often told I’m very good with others (no siblings meant I had to form close relationships with friends and that turned into just being generally gregarious), and I keep in touch with my extended family like cousins better than most because they were proxy siblings at holidays and reunions. But I am terrified of what it will be like as my parents age. Seeing how hard it was on them, both having 2 siblings to share the burden with in losing their parents, makes me dread going through that alone, but I’ve learned to reach out to others in tough times and found that most people can be understanding and helpful if you’re honest about your needs. Teach your kid to be self aware and to learn how to build a supportive network.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        I’ve learned to reach out to others in tough times and found that most people can be understanding and helpful if you’re honest about your needs. Teach your kid to be self aware and to learn how to build a supportive network.
        That’s really helpful, thank you. Also helpful what you say about making more effort to stay in touch with extended family, reinforces what others have said about enabling his relationships with his cousins as he gets older.

        1. Sprocket*

          So glad to hear :) I used to go batty about all the stereotypes about only children being maladapted, and felt when I was a preteen that I had to defend myself against the jokes about being spoiled, etc, even from teachers (though hopefully that’s gotten better since when I was in school). Then I realized in high school that it wouldn’t define me if I defined myself as my own cool person first. Now as a working professional, because I don’t volunteer to any mentions of others’ sibling talk with being an only child (not because I’m ashamed or awkward about it — I’m not; I just truly think that the distraction it brings up in conversations isn’t productive in introducing who I am and getting on with the getting to know that person), most people are truly surprised to learn later, if/when they finally think to ask, that I’m an only child. And by then it’s just a brief point of interest versus defining me. So I guess your post on your worry struck at the heart of my empathetic chord. Your child can definitely be a well adjusted and happy and successful person, regardless of having siblings.

    18. MK2000*

      I’m an only child. I know I’m repeating what others have posted but I’ll just give my POV.

      I love being an only child, though of course there’s no way of knowing whether I would have loved having a sibling. I have an awesome relationship with my parents and they put me in school early and brought my cousins around a lot so that I learned to be around other kids.

      Pros to being an only child: getting attention and resources from parents, which has resulted in really close relationships with both; developing independence; becoming creative so I’m pretty much never bored; learning how to interact with adults from a young age. I hope this sounds not like a brag but like an “it can be ok”: I grew up to be popular, confident, friendly, and well adjusted, and with what I think/hope are pretty normal levels of selfishness. :)

      Cons to being an only child: I’m extra afraid of my parents getting sick/dying. (However, there’s no guarantee that having a sibling would make that process, both emotionally and practically speaking, any easier, and my parents, now in their 60s, have done a lot of estate planning to try to make this easier for me. I’m incredibly grateful for this.) To this day, I’m still not very comfortable around kids, and I don’t know if that’s a personality thing or if it’s due to lack of exposure. I also don’t think I’ve learned to argue properly, so I am perhaps more afraid of interpersonal conflict because I haven’t had practice fighting with a sibling and then having them still be around afterward. I tend to assume that all conflicts are a nuclear option as opposed to a way to air, and solve, problems.

      I think that all you can do is provide the best possible upbringing for your child/ren and then accept that things will shake out however they’re going to shake out, because there’s no magic number of kids that will ensure that they are happy and well adjusted and have a great relationship with you and each other. But I think you already know that. Best of luck to you and your family :)

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        I think this is a fab last comment on this thread, it kind of brings it all together!

        He loves babies and younger children :) in fact he’s quite like my youngest sister that way.

        Thank you so much.

    19. ananon for the weekend*

      Thank you so much for sharing so much. I still wish things could be different but I feel better about him being an only now. And at least if I only get to have one child I’ve got one who rocks :)

      I appreciate hearing all of your viewpoints.

  34. Christina*

    Who’s using Monday as an excuse for one last grilling feast? I’m having 5 people (plus me) and am making ribs (rubbed and slow-smoked, recipe on my blog that’s linked in my name. I can’t decide if 2 racks of St. Louis cut is more than enough with at least 2 big guys coming), cauliflower salad, corn, corn bread, pickles, watermelon, maybe homemade popsicles.

    1. SL*

      Sounds amazing! My family (minus me) is gallivanting off on a month-long vacation right after Labor Day, so no huge party for us this year.

  35. Trill*

    Anybody happen to have any travel recommendations for Slovakia? I will be there for about 10 days this fall and have no actual plans yet.

    1. Steve G*

      I love Slovakia, as I am part Slovak! Wish I had an answer but I only went to places I traced my geneology back to (Bratislava and Kosice, a “big” city in the east). I heard the Tatra mountains are nice for hiking or outdoor things (they are the middle, empty area of the country. I took the train through and they look like the Rockies. Unfortunately, I don’t have many travel recommendations because Slovakia is very rural so there aren’t that many cities or attractions to see. I did like that you could take the train from Bratislava to Budapest in less than 3 hours, and from Kosice in the east to Miskolc in 2 1/2, Miskolc being a city of about 200K in eastern Hungary that is very quaint and lost in time, and has a lot of areas to walk around in. So is Kosice, not because that area of the world is backwards, but just because it is so rural and physically removed from the rest of Europe……

    2. nep*

      I don’t, as I’ve never been. But my paternal grandparents were born there and I hope to go one day. Keep us posted — let us know how the trip goes. Enjoy!

    3. Kate R. Pillar*

      Day trip to Vienna!
      That’s about an hour’s drive from Bratislava, and there’s train service, too.

      1. Book Person*

        There’s a cruise down the Danube there, too. Only about an hour and a half. Much more expensive than the train, but a lot prettier a trip, too.

        I had what was possibly the tastiest croissant of my life at Moods in Bratislava, too. I do recommend their butter croissant if you’re a fan of tasty, flaky pastry. :)

  36. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

    I’m not really looking for advice, just venting. I wrote a while back that we’ve been having ongoing difficulty with our cat who despises people and using the litter box. As I mentioned, we’ve tried various vets, medications, diets, routines, etc. She’s 9 yo and we’ve had her since she was a kitten, I know this behavior is unlikely to change and I’ve actually tried to be reasonable about co-existing with her. She’s very healthy (physically, at least) and active and is fine as long as we keep our distance from her (save for playtime, she loves chasing string). Her “accidents” are mostly contained to the bathroom where she spends the night but anytime there’s a change in our routine she lets me know she’s unhappy by peeing on something. (I know, I’ve also read experts saying that this behavior can only be part of an underlying condition and is never vindictive but we’ve taken her to several doctors who’ve found nothing wrong with her, she doesn’t seem to be in any pain, and there’s a clear correlation between her peeing on clothes/furniture and our going on vacation, changing up the schedule, etc.)
    Part of accommodating mean, messy cat (I do love her, I’m just very annoyed right now) is keeping her away from anything she could destroy by scratching and/or peeing. We live in a relatively small apartment and so I’ve tried to keep all clean laundry and other tempting soft items in our bedroom with the door closed. Well, today I went in to our room to get the brand new baby clothes and toys from our baby shower so I could wash them and put them away. Apparently, cat got in there recently and peed all over everything. I’m so upset. I’m washing everything I can with vinegar and enzymatic cleaner but of course she peed on the bassinet (in the frame, where the parts aren’t removable) and on a soft music box that isn’t washable. Baby is due in just over a week. I’m exhausted, still working full time, and barely have the energy to take care of basic tasks, let alone scrubbing everything down multiple times. I guess that’s it. Most days I know that this stuff doesn’t really matter, and we’ll deal with it as it happens. But sometimes I realize that I could be facing another decade of this behavior and I just feel really, really over it.

    1. Cat Person*

      I’m a huge crazy cat lady. I have two cats that I love dearly. There is something I need to warn you about. It might not happen to you, but I would have never in a million years expected it would have happened to me.

      This is going to make me sound like a total a-hole, and that’s fine. When I had my baby, before getting discharged from the hospital they required my husband and me to watch a DVD about baby care and admonitions about not shaking the baby when you get frustrated etc. You know what they should also include on that DVD? A section about not kicking your cat into another dimension when he does something rage-inducing at 3 a.m.. I hated my cats so much for the first 5 or 6 months of my baby’s life. I was totally not expecting that. They were loud, annoying, needy, would race through the house howling and wake up the baby. I wished for their demise. We’re back on good terms again, but if either of them had peed on anything during that time, I probably would have gotten rid of them.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        I actually really appreciate you telling me this. I will keep that in mind and try to look at the next 6 months as a transition period where I maybe shouldn’t be making any major decisions regarding pets. My partner is, as always, super mellow about the cat’s behavior and I do try to keep his feelings in mind. I did kind of wish he understood why I find this so stressful but I guess it’s good that we’re not both freaking out because ultimately, we committed to giving kitty a good home and there’s no responsible way to back out on that now.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          The good home does not have to be yours, it could be someone else’s good home.

          The last cat I had, I said no more. I loved her but, man, she did a lot of damage. I am feeling you as I read this. Maybe if Partner did some more of that cleaning, Partner’s perspective would change.

          The first two cats we had were sweet, cuddly and fun. They did a little damage but nothing that was a big deal. This last one did enough damage for three cats. She could be sweet… when the mood hit her. I fully expected her to attack my 60 pound aging dog- she was that different from the first two.
          I finally decided that I don’t think I can do another cat. I don’t think I should. I will never be able to repair/replace all the furniture she damaged. Your words are resonating with me very well.

          1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

            Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m at exactly the same point. I grew up with a wonderful cat and it never occurred to me that they could be so destructive and hostile. I’m thinking that this will be my last cat for a long, long time.

          2. Bangs not Fringe*

            I adopted my first cat from a couple with a new baby. The cat had become destructive (and they caught the cat sleeping with/on the baby and it freaked the husband out). He proved to an awesome cat with amazing quirks. And his destructive behaviors did not carry over to our home. Just know that re-homing may be a viable option, and someone out there might be ready to love your cat if the issues prove too much to handle.

      2. Clever Name*

        I shouldn’t laugh, but I’m recalling a certain incident where I threw a handful of sauerkraut at our crabby and whiny cat when my son was about 6 months old. You read that right. I threw sauerkraut at the cat.

    2. Today's anon*

      You probably already tried this but people are often surprised when I mention it so just in case – My cat went through a period of peeing everywhere and I got puppy pads and put them everywhere she peed on at least 2 times (couches, corners…). Also got a bunch of litter boxes and put them in various places. It helped at least with the cleanup (you just throw the puppy pads, and they can absorb more than one peeing). It seemed to be related to my other cat dying and her thyroid acting up. Frankly this sounds like a case for Jackson Galaxy of My cat from hell! :)

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        We haven’t tried the puppy pads…I guess I was worried about encouraging her to just pee anywhere she wants. We have tried multiple litter boxes and that doesn’t really seem to make a difference. We also keep her box meticulously clean, she just really likes to pee on clean laundry, blankets, cushions, in corners, etc. I appreciate the suggestion, I’m a total loss with this one.

        1. Today's anon*

          I was worried about encouraging it too but decided it would be better for her to pee in one or more places consistently than having all the surprise pee everywhere, even if it was not my choice of place. In the end, it did not seem to encourage or discourage her from peeing but made my life easier.

      2. Dynamic Beige*

        Yeah, really! There’s probably something else going on there but it sound more like time for a pet psychologist rather than more visits to the vet. Anxiety, insecurity, not feeling like she has her own “place” (on one of those shows, the cat felt best when it was up high)

        1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

          Could be…she has two cat towers and access to high spaces, we try to make sure she has a place of her own. She also has a comfortable space in a (large) bathroom where she sleeps (she can’t be left unsupervised overnight and our vet actually recommended she spend time in a small space near her box so that she had fewer options). I’m hoping the city we’re moving to has some sort of behavioralist or psychologist…maybe there’s something we’re missing.

        2. catsAreCool*

          It sounds like anxiety to me, too. I’ve heard that cats will pee on your stuff to mingle their scent with yours when they feel anxious. Changes in routine can make some kitties anxious.

          Have you tried Feliway? That’s supposed to help anxious cats.

          1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

            We have tried it but it was a long time ago… maybe worth trying again now that she’s older? Our vet actually had her on antidepressants for a bit but they seemed to make her so miserable I took her off.

    3. schnapps*

      So here’s a thing. Have you tried rubbing her nose in it, literally? Just grab her by the scruff when you discover it (supporting back feet if you need to carry her) and rub her face in it, then put her forcibly in the litter box?
      That combined with “Cat Attract” kitty litter helped our inappropriate pooper (google it. It’s guaranteed – if there’s not 100% litter box use, you get your money back).

    4. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Maybe kitty would benefit from a feliway diffuser (worked for my sister’s cat’s territorial peeing) or some kitty prozac if she’s just really neurotic.

      Litterbox behavior can be awful (and awfully complicated) to deal with. I can understand the ‘expert’ perspective on the behavior not being vindictive – that word indicates, to me, a lot more willful intent than cats are really capable of. And if you lump neurology in with ‘underlying condition,’ they’re probably not wrong – cats and dogs have brains, they have neurological disorders and those are less understood (or considered, or treated) than the same conditions are in humans… and sometimes that’s not very well understood at all.

      I admire your dedication to your kitty, and if you try feliway or kitty prozac, I really hope those work out for you.

      1. blackcat*

        I want to second the prozac idea.

        One of my friends had this problem with a cat whenever the cat was left alone for more than 4 hours. Prozac nearly completely solved the problem.

    5. Woompi*

      If it helps, I had the same problem with one of my cats (seemingly vindictive peeing). The only thing that worked was getting abother litterbox! Then when we got a 2nd cat we added a 3rd litterbox and she still doesn’t really do it anymore (except if we neglect to clean them but she’s trained us well lol)

    6. Soupspoon McGee*

      Echoing the recommendation for Feliway. Also, I’ve found that Nature’s Miracle is the most effective cleaner / stink remover. I like their litter too.

      I do have a revenge pee-er, so you are not imagining things! He’s a lot better since I caught him nonchalantly backing up to my brand new shower curtain. If I had sauerkraut, I’d have thrown it at him. He’s sweet at other times, so there’s that.

      1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

        Thanks for all the suggestions! Sounds like it’s time to give Feliway another go. If it works, awesome. If not, maybe we’ll see if there’s another feline antidepressant or some behavioral therapy that we can try. It helps to hear that other cats have pushed their people to the point of sauerkraut-throwing.

  37. ananon for the weekend*

    Second post. There are at least two parts to this but I can’t get them all straightened out in my head.

    My small child starts school on Monday. He’s been in childcare since he was a year. He gets on with the other kids, but there are three of them that’s he’s close to, and we parents have met up at the park so the kids can play together and I’ve asked them all round to our house and we’ve got a whatsapp group and things – but they’re all going to different schools now. But at the same time he’s pretty independent and can go off and play on his own.

    I was thinking this morning about it and realised that actually, it’s just been me. The other parents have never asked DS round. One of them has been to ours quite a bit and we’ve been to hers too, but. One has actually picked DS up from nursery for us a few times when I’ve been away but she’s never asked him round to play/to the cinema/to other play venues. One has never asked him round at all even though I’ve actually picked her child up from childcare so he could come round to our house to play. They all pay lip service to how great friends the kids are, but I realised this morning that although they’re all happy to come round here or to meet up it’s always me who suggests things. Whereas I know that they all arrange other trips. They go to the cinema, they meet up at the local fayre, they have playdates and sleepovers and park dates and picnics. I see the photos and hear the stories, but we don’t get the invites.

    It breaks my heart. It hurts me, and I am so terrified that it is always going to be this way, that he’s always going to be left out and that it’s somehow my fault. Because I’m the common factor here, I was left out at school, I never had any friends, and I am being left out now, along with DS.

    And the silly thing is that I actually think that if DS has the school experience I did it won’t bother them anywhere near as much as it bothered me and devastated me. But I guess that DS starting school has opened up a box of shitty, shitty memories for me. He asked the other night for me to tell him about when I was at school and I had nothing. Not a single good memory from my schooldays to tell him about.

    Also I should say that I have a couple of other ‘mum friends’ who ask me and DS round and who come to ours and who also have other friends, and I don’t get upset about them doing other things. I don’t think I have unreasonable expectations. I would just like us to be included some of the time.

    I don’t even know what I’m asking. I’ve just finished a course of therapy and I’m supposed to give it a while flying solo before considering going back if necessary. Which is a shame because otherwise that would have been my first suggestion for myself…..

    1. Colette*

      1. It’s ok to be hurt at being left out (although it’s possible that it’s nothing personal, and more of a logistical issue).
      2. Your son has friends, and he will make new ones at school. And if he doesn’t (which is unlikely), you will notice and figure out how to help.
      3. How much you like someone doesn’t necessarily depend on how often you see them, especially at your son’s age. Kids that age are largely dependant on what their parents are willing to do. (Maybe the parents don’t like getting together with you because traffic to your place is bad, or you’re often late, or you have nothing in common with them – that doesn’t mean you’re unlikeable, just that you don’t mesh with them for whatever reason. That’s ok. Maybe you don’t like them either, but you’re willing to put up with them because you want your son to have friends over.)
      4. Finally, there are some people who don’t plan things. They either suggest activities spontaneously or they will go when asked but won’t initiate plans. Yes, they’re getting together with other people, but that doesn’t mean they’re all initiating the plans.

      1. ananon for the weekend*

        1. That is possible, but seems unlikely given the circumstances – but I’ll keep it in mind as best I can.
        3. Oh yes for sure. There is one of the mums that I just don’t like – it still annoys me that she hasn’t made an effort to let them spend time together as our kids LOVE each other and she has a car and I don’t so she’d find it easier – but yeah I don’t like her that much so maybe it annoys me more because of that! Hey ho. One of them has given me a lift to work 3x a week for the last couple of months; we’ve finished that now but it was lovely getting to chat to her in the mornings and… it really felt like we bonded even more, we talked about some really personal stuff so it seems a bit – well what does it take to be included by you?
        4. Yeah but this is all the same people, so ONE of them must initiate. Hey ho.

        Food for thought. Thank you Colette.

    2. MJ*

      Your son has been in childcare since he was 1. He has learned how to make friends. He will be fine.

      As your child grows and hits different milestones, it can trigger all sorts of unfinished issues in a parent. Your feelings seem quite strong here, and you might think about talking to someone about this.

      Best wishes.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Agreed. Now is not a good time to be flying solo. You are have one or more triggers that need to be talked out. I think that flying solo assumes things are going along at a normal pace. And you are seeing changes and having stuff go on. So, I agree, check in with the therapist, don’t deprive yourself of that resource.

        1. ananon for the weekend*

          Ah if only it were that simple; she’s now discharged me. If I want to go back I need to be re-referred by my GP and I presume go back onto the waiting list, which has been ten months both times I’ve been on it previously. Gotta love free healthcare on the NHS…….. *sigh*

          I may however have access to computerised CBT which comes with support from a CBT coach by telephone. I’ll investigate that. I should also remember to note down the number for my EAP. I didn’t even think about calling them when I was crying yesterday. Every time I go to the bathroom in work I see the posters in the cubicles and think i should take my phone into the loo so I can write it down, but i’ve not remembered yet!

          1. Observer*

            Try the CBT – it might work for you or not. Also, definitely see what the EAP can do for you. But, also, go back to your GP and ask to be re-referred.

      2. ananon for the weekend*

        Thank you, it seems really obvious from the outside I’m sure but it’s hard when you’re living it.

    3. misspiggy*

      It might be that you’re seen as very competent in that group, so they’re happy to let you do the organising/feel they wouldn’t meet your standards if they were hosting. This has happened with most of my friends, and I realise it’s because I won’t make myself vulnerable to them. If this resonates, maybe with new friends you could work on that. In my case, the only friend I really get support from is someone whose style is very open and vulnerable, which makes it easier for me to show my cracks – and she ends up being more proactive.

    4. Observer*

      Please get back into therapy. It’s clear that flying solo is not the best idea for you right now.

      Keep something in mind – your son is NOT you. If he doesn’t care if he is “left out”, then good for him. That’s not something to be sad about. And, if HE is not sad, then don’t be sad for him. All of this is one reason you shouldn’t be flying solo right now. It sounds like you are doing a fair bit of projecting, which is not great for or your son.

      1. Observer*

        Sorry, I hit post too soon.

        Separating out what is you and what is your son is not an easy task, but it’s a very important one.

        Which leads to the second issue. There seem to be a number of triggers here that you sound like you could use some help in sorting out. I would venture to say that once you have a better handle on these and you have a better ability to separate out your issues and triggers from what is happening with your son everyone will be better off. And, flying solo will make much more sense for you.

        1. ananon for the weekend*

          Thank you. SO many triggers. School was mostly unrelenting misery for me. It literally only occurred to me a couple of months ago that DS might not be miserable in school, that it might be OK or just boring or that he might actually love it. Even though both my sisters enjoyed school and I saw that! Silly I know. At least I got there in the end??

        2. ananon for the weekend*

          And he is very lucky in having my husband for a father. Counteracts a lot of my overthinking and projecting and general craziness :-/

      2. ananon for the weekend*

        Yeah, I totally agree. I’m trying really hard not to put any of this onto him. But it’s hard. I definitely don’t want him to feel the pain of being left out! His way is so much better.

        Luckily he has a lot of my husband in him and even if it bothered him he’d find it MUCH easier to shrug it off than I do.

        I wish I could just go back to my therapist but she’s discharged me and it’s not as simple as just going back on the NHS. But I’ll look into other routes of support.

        1. ananon for the weekend*

          Fourth sentence is ambiguous and I mean both. I don’t want him to be left out and feel pain as a result, and I don’t want it to cause him pain if/when he IS left out. I was going for the second FWIW.

    5. ananon for the weekend*

      Thank you to those who have commented. I will say that it is now obvious that PMT made this worse than it might otherwise have been…. still sad but feeling much better today thank goodness.

    6. Little Silver Bells*

      Feel for you here, Anon. I don’t have children but I had similar experiences at school by the sound of it. Still remember how it felt even 30-odd years ago. I think a lot of it is just that girls/women can be very cliquey, at least the shallow ones are. It sounds like you do have some real friends which is what is important. Being left out hurts like hell sometimes but I’ve learnt to think of it like Facebook. Some people collect “friends” but most are really just acquaintances so that’s one thing. When it comes to the group of other mums who leave you out of the playdates, are there a couple you don’t really know? If so, maybe they do most of the initiating so maybe it’s a bit less personal.

      Your little boy sounds awesome and I’m sure he’ll do well socially. It’s a clean page too so you are bound to meet “new” mums from there.

      Hope things pick up :0

  38. Meh*

    How important is intellectual compatibility in a relationship? My fiancé is nice, caring, funny etc, but we’re not intellectually compatible. I graduated, but he never graduated from high school. We both have good, very different jobs, but I feel like something is missing. I’m very self-sufficient and like to figure things out on my own, but he always asks me for help with stuff an adult should already know or can figure out. I’m constantly trying to learn new things and am taking classes at a community college to broaden my knowledge, while he has talked about going back to school to get his GED, forever but hasn’t. He can’t do math past a 6th grade level, but he just doesn’t care. We met when we were really young (15), started dating a few years later, and now that we’re in our mid 20’s, I just feel like something is missing. He says he will change and doesn’t want to lose me, but I feel horrible because it’s obvious he only wants to change because it’s what I want and not because he wants to. He deserves to find someone that will love him for who he is. I wish I would have recognized this from the beginning so that I wouldn’t have to hurt him. We’ve lived together for the last 5 years and were planning to get married next year. I love him, but I don’t know how much longer I can handle feeling like a mother to him and not a partner.

    TLDR: Is it possible to have a fulfilling life with someone when there is an intellectual divide?

    1. Cruciatus*

      I think it depends on the relationship–and in yours it isn’t working for you. And that’s OK. You shouldn’t marry someone just because you’re afraid of hurting them. He’s unlikely to change if he hasn’t done it yet and it shouldn’t be just to please you (and he hasn’t yet done it for that reason either).

      My sister and her fiance are in a similar situation but she doesn’t seem to see it (yet?). I hate talking with her fiance because he just brings nothing to the table. My sister treats him more like a child–pointing things out in the menu he might like and reminding him to do things or HOW to do things. It doesn’t seem to bother her but, my god, when they are around I’m like “how does this not bother her when it bothers me and it’s only been 15 minutes?!” I asked her once what he brings to the relationship and she answered “love.” Blech, OK. Sounds nice but I was waiting for “he’s funny, charming, makes me feel good.” And she mentioned “he’s been doing a lot of work on the house.” Well, OK, then I guess you better marry him. Her fiance also only does things to please her so if she suggested a change he might do it just because she wanted it, not because he wanted to do it for himself. So, while it bothers me, it doesn’t bother her and hopefully won’t be a problem 5, 10, 15 years from now. (Sorry, didn’t mean to go on a mini-vent).

      But since you are noticing a problem then it exists, if that makes sense. It might not for other couples but it does for you. It also kind of sounds like you’ve made a decision in your head based on a few word choices. You need to do what’s best for you (and as a result, him, though he might not think so at the time).

      1. Rhino Reader*

        Cruciatus, it’s possible that it does bother your sister, but that she represses it and pretends everything is fine. I know I put on a good show when I was together with both my ex and friends who didn’t see what I saw in him. As a matter of fact, my current SO knew us back then, and he scrutinized my affect to try and figure out how I really felt, and after we got together he says he bought into my “everything’s fine” act back then. In reality, I was deeply unsatisfied with the guy and in private would be very contemptuous of him. I just had no idea how to deal with the situation, and so for years I tried to suck it up and would put on my best poker face in public.

    2. Rhino Reader*

      Meh, it sounds like you already know what you have to do. Ask yourself this: Would you enter into a relationship with this man if you met him today? If the answer is a resounding “hell no!”, isn’t it time to cut your losses? It will suck, but in a few years’ time chances are you will both be much happier.

      When I was your age, I went through the same thing, though we had “only” been together for 7 years. I stayed with my ex for much too long because I couldn’t stand hurting him and because it was just easier to stay together than to upset the status quo. But I was massively discontented, and looking back I wish I had broken up with him sooner than I did, for both of our sakes. It wasn’t fair to him to let him feel unwanted and not-good-enough for so long. It took him several years to get into another relationship, but he’s with a woman who appreciates him now and he looks so much happier than he was in the last few years he spent with me. Breaking up with him is the hardest thing I ever did, but we are both better off now than if we had remained together.

      Best of luck to you!

    3. fposte*

      Yes, it’s possible, but it’s not *always* possible. And in your case I think what you’re really talking about isn’t intellectual compatibility anyway–you find him deeply complacent in a way that’s at odds with the way you think of yourself. That can happen with somebody with a PhD; conversely, you can find driven and curious people who dropped out of high school.

      And I think you should let this guy go, because you’re already resenting who he is, and you’ve accurately assessed he’s not going to be somebody different, even if he tries to be just to please you. I know that’s a long time to be with somebody and it feels weird to think about not, but I think that’s not a good reason to stay together with somebody who disappoints you.

        1. Hellanon*

          Echoing the “yes, exactly!” and adding that one of the parts of people that is most resistant to change, in my opinion, is what they want – if curiosity isn’t in your fiance’s DNA, him wanting it to be there isn’t going to magically put it there. Same thing with the kind of ambitious he is – my ex-husband tried hard to want what I did (tried harder to persuade me he did, I suspect; different things) but in the final analysis he just *didn’t* – and those things were a deal-breaker for me. “Wanting to change” is great if it comes from within; otherwise it’s a little like fat-shaming: it doesn’t encourage the person to lose weight, it just pisses them off, for very good reasons.

          Let him go. You’ll find someone whose curiosity engages yours; he’ll find someone who needs and wants someone exactly like him.

    4. SRB*

      You say you feel more like his mother than his partner, and that he leans on you to help with things that he should be able to figure out. I may be reading further into it than there is, but it sounds like the “intellectual divide” you mention is really just masking the underlying problem: a “motivational/maturity divide”.

      I know individuals with MDs who couldn’t do simple household or bedgetary tasks without their motherly wives. I’ve also known some mature people without degrees who still have the motivational drive to run a business and take care of their SOs and kids.

      I think it’s something that can be changed, but he does have to want it too. And finishing his GED or bachelors won’t make him grow up ad learn to do things himself. That’s fixing the symptom but not the problem.

      Not sure how to fix it except to recommend counseling, both together and solo. There may be some underlying things he needs to deal with on his own that affect his general motivation to do things for himself.

      1. INTP*

        I was thinking that it’s an emotional/maturity/motivational divide as well. Or if not a divide, differing expectations on what the relationship will be like. There are highly intelligent people who will act helpless about things like how to make macaroni and cheese from a box or do the laundry because they just like to be babied, that is how they feel loved. But if you aren’t someone who feels fulfilled by taking care of someone in that way, you just aren’t compatible – you will be resentful of the neediness and they’ll be resentful that you don’t want to take care of them. If it’s not a way of getting you to nurture him, it could just be that he is not motivated to learn how to take care of himself – but if you can’t see yourself being happy with that forever, it’s better to break it off now than after the wedding. Basically, I don’t think this is just about IQ points, but I do think it speaks to incompatibility.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Some excellent answers here. I am very impressed with these explanations.

          I have a friend who dropped out of high school. He has a trade and he excels at his trade. He eventually went back and got his GED. He learns constantly. He is always teaching himself something that is in or adjacent to his work. He is receptive to new ideas on things that he knows little about. Once presented with an idea he will think about it and come up with more ideas in the same vein on his own. And he is self-sufficient, he has those basic daily living skills- laundry, meals, pet care, car care, etc.

          If you feel like his mother now, marriage will not improve that. It will multiply that.

      1. Dan*

        I guess that’s the TL;DR version. Been there too. Got divorced once I realized that I truly made a mistake.

    5. Dan*

      It’s as important as you want it to be. For you, it’s important, and the divide is wide.

      It doesn’t matter what’s possible, what matters is what *is*. And he isn’t the person you need to be truly happy.

      Don’t get married until you work this out for yourself. Tbh, I think you have worked this out, and want to know if breaking out off is truly the right thing to do. I can’t tell you that per se — all I can tell you is to only get married when you know it’s the right thing to do.

    6. katamia*

      I think it’s possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s possible for you. Some people would be happy with him as he is despite the intellectual divide (I know people who use friends and family members to get the intellectual conversation they can’t get from their partners), while others would see the intellectual divide as something that would keep them from having a good relationship with a partner. And wanting someone who is intelligent/intellectual is not something to be ashamed of.

      I will say that years of unemployment and underemployment have changed my perspective on this a bit, though. I used to feel like my partner needed to be as intelligent as I was, but my intelligence has not typically translated into success in the work world, while I know people who are less intelligent who have great jobs and are making significantly more money than I ever have (and possibly ever will). Sure, I’m intelligent and love learning, but many people would say, because of my work history and low earning potential, that I would be the less desirable mate. So I’m not as strict about a potential partner’s intelligence as I used to be.

      I’m not trying to encourage you to stay with him if you’re unhappy, but just to provide a possibly different perspective on the situation.

    7. Jenniy*

      So when I met my now husband, I was 21 and he was 23. I was two classes from my AS. He graduated with an “alternative diploma” (in our state, kids with learning disorders can be placed in special classes where they get resource classes instead of math, science etc and they get the alternative diploma instead of a regular or advanced studies diploman but then they can still check the “I have a diploma” box on an application)

      He would watch me read 500 page books in a day (I’m a huge nerd) and say that he was jealous of my ability to do that. Turns out, he had never read a book. Yes you read that right; at 23 years old, he had never finished a “chapter” book. With his dyslexia, the school shuffled him into alternative classes and left him there to rot.
      I used to be a substitute teacher, and I have tutored all my life, so I did what I always do: I taught. I found him books at around his reading level that related to his interests, things about wizards and Camelot and mythology (Percy JaCason was a godsend). I got him a Nook, because he loves tech and this way he could flow from one book to the next. And I helped him. I had to explain some middle school level words to him, but he has progressed further than I could have ever dreamed.

      Last fall, he took the placement test at the local community college. He tested straight into “college composition 1” -standard college level 1 English. My dyslexic husband who graduated with a 5th grade reading level. He took that class in spring semester as his forst college class and got his first A.

      You’re thinking why is she telling me this story, even though it’s great for her and her hubby? I’m showing you they can do it if they try. He has to put for the effort, dig deep, and do the work. Hubby hated having to ask me “stupid kid words” and feeling like he was bothering me. But when he walked out of that testing room with that placement into college english,it was all worth it for the look on his face. Pride. He has to have pride in himself, and want to do better.
      Good luck, hun ♡

      1. Hellanon*

        >>I’m showing you they can do it if they try. He has to put for the effort, dig deep, and do the work.

        So true. But they have to *want* to first, and some people want other things.

        1. Dan*

          Not everybody can do it either. It’s best to accept people for who they are and make your choices accordingly.

      2. CollegeAdmin*

        This story made me tear up a little, and that’s highly unusual for me. Jenniy, you sound like a wonderful person to have helped your husband, and huge congratulations to him for his accomplishment!!

        1. Jenniy*

          ♡ I helped, I gave him the tools, but he did all the work.
          And that’s how it has to be for you, OP. you can offer the help, if you want to try to give it one more shot, but ultimately, it has to come from him

      3. Not So NewReader*

        This story is beautiful. I think I got some water in my eye. OP, this is how it can go. If this story does not resonate with you, does not strike a chord somehow, then proceed with extreme caution.

    8. Observer*

      It’s quite possible, and I’ve seen plenty of examples. There IS one condition, though- You need to accept and respect him. It’s clear that you don’t.

  39. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    My parents found out via internet that my boyfriend’s parents suffered a bitter divorce many years later involving costly court costs, and were now against me seeing my boyfriend at all, harassing/ordering me/crying/begging me to break up with him so I would be spared possible likely pain and suffering (in their words).

    Thing is, my boyfriend is getting his masters, got an A+ on his exam, and has an extraordinary capacity for empathy and is a wonderful human being. I also went on a 2 week family reunion at this time….The family reunion turned into quasi-family counseling as my cousins advocated on my behalf re: bf from divorced parents. Which then turned into my dad passive-aggressively emailing me last night telling me he can’t order me to do anything, but that my boyfriend b/c of his divorced parents would “ruin my life”).

    My mom then also called me late last night ordering me to reply to my dad’s email that I’d ruin my life if I stayed with my boyfriend, so I did in a civil manner that I “understood his point of view.” Then my mom said she could buy me groceries, possibly do a spa thing (if I were to break up with him).

    …For the record, I love my boyfriend a lot, we’ve been together 1.5 years, we actually had a deep heart-to-heart last night, and we actually talked about possible wedding venues (in the very very distant future).

    Meanwhile, I am trying to lay a very low profile and not give any sort of personal/relationship detail to my parents (which my boyfriend is ok with and agrees with), to smooth things over. OH also, my parents “ordered”/”pressured” and assumed we broke up yesterday.

    Tl;dr: My boyfriend and I started brainstorming possible wedding venues, our mutual friends are marrying, and my parents hate my boyfriend and think we broke up when we’re actually laying low.

    Also: I have my own place and independent finances (tg). Advice re: this mess? Thanks X/

    1. nep*

      It’s your life, your relationship, your decision.
      You’re an adult, right? What are you going to lose by following your heart and staying with your boyfriend?

    2. Cruciatus*

      I’m wondering how they felt about him before they knew this information? Were they OK with him but then saw he had divorced parents and were like “oh, hell no!”? Even if not, they don’t get to decide and you can tell them that. Don’t let the topic be up for conversation. “Carmen, I just don’t know why you won’t break up with your boyfriend. Divorced parents!!” “Mom/Dad, I’m not going to discuss my relationship with you. But I see the flowers in the garden are lovely.” (Or something). If they start going on about it you leave. Don’t engage. I’m sure there are a lot of Captain Awkward posts about this exact topic for better scripts than mine.

    3. Vorthys*

      Sounds like you need to set up some solid boundaries.

      What has worked for me with my irrational parents is to lay it all out, and explain it isn’t up for debate. I usually will have to shut down visits and conversations early, and structure all my interactions with them so I can do so. Most importantly, though, I learned I have to force myself to never feed into it. I never give ground, never let them think they can bully me into doing whatever crazy thing they want. I don’t listen to the crying and yelling or participate in it, either. I just state that I will have to talk to them later because I’m not going to talk about xyz subject and retreat. (I used to fight about these things when I was younger, but it only made things harder for me.)

      It’s not easy to get into the habit of, but it’s cut down my stress immensely.

      1. Masters Degree JD lady*

        I agree. And thing is, my parents are at their emotional breaking point too. They were crying/begging me to break up with him after learning his parents were divorced. They actually liked him before they found out. I’m keeping quiet in the meantime. They assume we ended things, but we’re together pulling through. I don’t know how to reach them and they don’t listen to anybody. They’re from a different culture in which parents claim to have an ownership stake over their kids too. It’s kind of weird, but at the end of the day, I choose to be with him.

        1. Vorthys*

          There is a chance that it will improve slowly, too, as things progress. My mother is from another culture with a similar type of value system, and there has been some serious friction between us that has lessened over the years. For the most part, she usually accepts that I’m simply too strong willed to be worth the fight now.

          Still, I have to admit that she’s put it in much stronger and more unflattering terms. Good luck!

    4. fposte*

      I’m guessing you know what the advice is but it helps to have additional voices to drown out your mother’s.

      This isn’t about your boyfriend’s parents; this is about your parents wanting to control you, and if it hadn’t been this it would be something else, and it will be something else in the future. There is no magic button that is going to make them say “We know you’re an adult and we respect your decisions.” That’s not going to happen.

      So it’s up to you in the meantime how you get through them telling you unacceptable stuff about how to live your life. I would say the thing you cannot allow, though, is letting your partner suffer so that you can avoid parental friction, and preparing yourself for that priority is also good practice in case you have kids. In the meantime, I think there’s a lot to be said for your information freeze approach, where they don’t get access to your personal life if they can’t be reasonable about it; it’s also prett common for parents not to know who their very adult offspring is dating anyway.

      I’d vote for failing to answer emails more often, and sticking to vague “thanks for the input” kinds of responses when you do. The more you can start training them away from “I call/write, Carmen jumps,” the easier your future life with your partner is going to be.

    5. SRB*

      *”Hmm that’s interesting, I’ll think about it”: repeat ad nauseum. Usually works with annoying suggestions.
      * “Actually I’ve got this under control”: repeat ad nauseum.
      * “This isn’t up for discussion. Did Aunt Margigold ever get that quilt finished?”: repeat ad nauseum.

      Don’t justify. Don’t explain. As with an annoying child, the prevailing advice I’ve seen is not to reward the behavior (arguing is, in a twisted way, rewarding). Don’t try to reason. Reason is for reasonable people.

      Oh and also I hope you have a kick ass wedding! Don’t be afraid to elope or even uninvite your parents if you think they won’t behave.

    6. BRR*

      Following this as you post updates I just am going to address one thing, when they assume you broke up, did you tell them yes? It’s going to get a lot tougher with them feeling like they’ve “won” at the moment. I think you need to at minimum look beyond this forum for specific help dealing with controlling parents and likely see somebody in person if you can. This is not how family relationships should work.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        Absolutely. Are you an only child? The kind of help you need to deal with this can only come from a professional. No amount of cousins or siblings or whoever is going to make any difference to your parents or your life, only what you can do for yourself. IIRC, you’ve posted before about your mother taking your money and generally trying to limit your options to whatever she feels comfortable with (which is also as much under her thumb as she can get you). You need help to pull yourself out of this dynamic and not allow yourself to be trapped in guilt. The best option might also be to find a job as far away from them as you can manage.

        Find a therapist. Start this week, it may take a while. You need someone who is completely uninvolved in this to talk it over with and help you work on becoming your own person independent from your parents.

        You know how Alison says “Your boss sucks and is not going to change?” Well, your parents suck and are not going to change. The only person you have any control over in this situation is yourself. Your parents can’t live your life for you, they can’t be married for you, they can’t have children or a career for you, no matter how much they try to convince or guilt you otherwise. They will never accept this, though, and you will have to learn to get over your need and desire to gain their approval — because they will never give it. Or, if they do, it will be at a price to you higher than you want to pay.

        1. BRR*

          I don’t want to say they won’t change because they might realize they’re driving their daughter away, but right now they have no incentive to change.

          1. Dynamic Beige*

            OK, fair point. Maybe they will change when they see that their daughter would be willing to move far away from them. Or maybe they would just pretend to change long enough to make OP change her plans and stay. Maybe they will come around when they see that OP’s boyfriend isn’t a grown-up version of Chucky just because he had divorced parents… or maybe it will always be a bone of contention that will drive him away one day, so the parents can say “we told you so!” There is absolutely no way of knowing what is going to happen. Just that right now, OP has allowed her parents to think what makes them happy to keep the waters calm. But there’s a storm brewing because it won’t be long before they figure out they didn’t get their way.

            OP needs to be firm and renegotiate her relationship with her parents. They still treat and see her as a child. She may be able to do this, with or without help, she may not. Her parents may not be capable of that kind of adjustment — which is not her fault and, if that does prove to be the case — there is nothing she can do about it except give up the expectation that they will ever be the Great, Big, Happy Family! and live her life as she sees fit. There are many people who have learned that the only way they can deal with their parents is to not tell them anything, keep the conversation on how the parents are/their friends/their hobbies/their health to avoid as much as possible the prying and judgement on their own lives.

            1. BRR*

              Sorry if that was being too butthurt. I definitely agree they might not change. If the OP wants a change it certainly isn’t going to happen without dealing with this head on and being strong.

              1. Dynamic Beige*

                No, you do have a point that I didn’t consider — they may actually be able to change, if they are pushed into a position where they have no other option, truly love their child and want to be a part of her life — and the possible grandchildren. It’s just… parents who bribe their kids with spa days when they’ve been “good” or hold an inheritance over their heads to get them to toe the line, that’s kind of past the point of being concerned and loving and into severely controlling. IIRC, Carmen has posted in the past about her mother taking her money out of her account for various reasons — to “save” it for her, for room/board. Yet another way of keeping a child on a short leash, limit their options and their ability to use their own resources to get help/live their life as they wish.

                Her parents may have a point that Carmen’s fiance isn’t good for her — or they may just be nutbars. There may be something about him that they don’t like that she’s avoiding — or they just may be playing that game of “if you love someone else, that means you don’t love us as much any more and that’s not right because we are your parents and after all we’ve done for you, you must love us before anyone else (including yourself)” I truly hope that Carmen has made an excellent choice for herself in a partner and she’s not just jumping from the fire into a frying pan. Therapy would help her figure stuff like that out and find a way to detach from her parents. It’s a vicious game. You want your parents’ approval, but they keep shifting the goal posts so that you never get it, it’s always just out of reach. But they’re your *parents* and they love you? They’re supposed to want what’s best for you? They wouldn’t consciously do something to ruin your chances in life, would they? That’s not what good parents are supposed to do… and yet. There’s that feeling deep in your gut that that is not the script your parents are following. That there’s something else going on that you just can’t quite put your finger on… that this isn’t really “normal”, what you’re experiencing, even though it’s “normal” for you.

    7. Sparrow*

      My parent’s didn’t like my boyfriend because he didn’t have a college degree. He had a full time job, own apartment, paid his bills, etc. I’m from India so to my parents having an education is a Very Big Deal. Oh and he’s American, which wasn’t really the problem – just the degree. I met him in college and they thought he was a bad influcence on me. I guess their fear was that I would drop out and end up pregnant, or something like that. First, it was very insulting to me that they would think I would just give up on college because of a guy that didn’t have a similiar background. There were many rough conversations and tense meetings where they tried to convince me not to marry him.

      Well we ended up getting married anyway without them there. I told them that if they were not going to be supportive of me and my choices that I didn’t want them at the wedding. It was tough, buy my husband’s side of the family was very supportive and I had my friends there. We got married in June and month or so later I wrote my mom a letter telling her I loved her and wanted to reconcile. We met and talked over things and she said she just wanted me to be happy. We slowly started talking more and by Thanksgiving they had us both over to their place. The following May, my parents had an Indian wedding ceremony for us. That was really nice for my Mom to acknowledge us in that way.

      We’ve been married for 16 years now and my parents love my husband. All of us get along quite well. Looking back, it was a really rough time and I had no idea how things would work out.

      What you wrote about your mom buying you groceries or a spa thing sounds very familiar. I think my Mom agreed to take me shopping so she could have a little chat with me about things. I guess I don’t have any advice to give other than sharing what happened in my situation. I can relate. It’s a tough situation. Good luck.

    8. INTP*

      If they’re like my parents – not maliciously controlling, but very anxious and prone to jumping to worst case scenarios – when they get anxious about something, they initially panic and try to control the situation and speak in dramatics, but when they aren’t able to take control, they eventually calm down and stop worrying. So what I would do is tell them, avoid spending much time with them for a few months while they’re lying awake at night having panic attacks about my future pain and suffering and can’t stop talking about it to me while I’m with them, then in a year or so things would be back to normal.

      However, I think it really depends what is motivating their behavior here. Is it social vanity and not wanting to be associated with a family who got a divorce? Is it some sort of married-parents bigotry, where they aren’t going to think someone with divorced parents is capable of being a good partner no matter how long you give them to get used to it? Is it just excessive concern and anxiety over your wellbeing and a tendency to attempt to control situations when panicked, like with my parents? Their deep-down motive will be the key to figuring out how to handle the situation.

    9. Not So NewReader*

      You may have to cut out communication for a bit.
      But if you keep answering your phone and looking at your emails, not much is going to change.

      This is who they are. They are not a couple that lovingly accepts your choices in life. They cannot do that, they do not know how and they do not want to learn how.

      You can’t make them change into the parents you want them to be. From what you are saying they have a history. This issue with your BF is not a one-off. It’s more of the same story- you have to do what they want, when they want you to do and in the exact way they want you to do it.

      You need to decide if you want to live the rest of your life arguing over every. single. thing, you do. Because they have already decided they are willing to spend the rest of their lives arguing with you. The ball is in your court- it’s up to you to decide how you want your life to play out.

      The only fix for this is for you to demand that they respect you and respect your choices.

      FWIW, I think they are over the top. I have no idea how you have been able to cope this long. I hope you are able to make some changes soon.

    10. asteramella*

      It sounds like you’ve reduced the level of detail you give to your parents about your relationship but that you’re still talking with them fairly often. It might help to consciously talk to them less often (set yourself a quote of 15 minutes once a week, or whatever) and to end the conversation whenever it turns to your parents trying to manipulate you or dictate your actions. Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone, delete emails, or ignore texts. They can’t do anything to you but what they’re already doing, so why continue to put up with behavior that you know is harmful?

    11. Observer*

      I pretty much agree with most of what the rest of the posters have said. Therapy sounds like a great idea. Also, do NOT lie to your parents. Information freeze? By all means! But what you DO say to your parents should be true. That includes not telling them you broke up if you didn’t. Not telling them that you have no intention of paying attention to them is fine, though.

      1. Carmen Sandiego JD*

        Information freeze: yes.
        Am I an only child? Unfortunately, yes.

        My mom actually demanded to hear details over the phone, expecting I would break up. If I don’t do something immediately, she calls 26 times in a row in an hour on a Thursday (yes, it’s happened before). And yes, she actually broke her 1st iPhone because she was screaming at me so loud once.

        I’m emotionally worn out and almost (but not yet) financially ready to fight back, and I believe I’ll have far more ammunition if/when SO and I solidify things (ie. get engaged/married). Before that, I need to lay low as a survival mechanism. If I reveal my cards too early in this game (ie. be open/tell her we’re still together), she will break me down and I can’t handle that right now, emotionally. This happened before–I told her an ex and I were together, but we ended up breaking up, then she blamed me for the breakup and criticized it to no end. (That was 4 years ago and she only just stopped talking about it).

        So I told her that we are on very different life paths (I have 2 masters/he is studying for a masters and working), she asked if I led him on (I told her no), and I told her from now on I’m 100% devoting myself to being a better person, building my finances, and getting my finances/work in order and being successful.

        She asked if there were dramatics/if he made a fuss. There was no fuss, I told her.

        Tl;dr: Implied by omission we broke up but my parents’ disrespect for us actually is drawing us much closer as a couple. Waiting till if/when engagement occurs and I am even more financially secure and emotionally stronger to put up a mightier fight and be ultimately victorious and let love win.

        1. Observer*

          You don’t live near her – don’t pick up the phone. In fact, I’m fairly sure that you can program it to automatically send calls from a specific person (in this case your mother and father) to voicemail. You don’t want to lie to your mother for many reasons, not the least of which that when (not if) she figures out you have lied, the dramatics will be even worse.

          Lots of luck!

        2. Not So NewReader*

          I think I would be looking at a court restraining order as my survival mechanism.

          She called you 26 times? She broke a phone from screaming at you? That’s not normal behavior. At all. NO human being deserves to be treated like this. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. This is not loving at all.

          Why do you keep interacting with her? What do you hope gain and how long do you think it will take to get there?

          Growing up, my mother would scream at me for hours at a clip. When I moved out that was the end of that, I left and never looked back. No one deserves to be treated like crap. And in the end, my mother’s anger destroyed her mind. Since the brain controls how the body functions it was not long that her body fell apart too. It was a process I would not wish on anyone.

          Speaking of which, I think it would be a good idea that you tell your mother to go to a doctor for a full medical check. Head to toe, thorough. You know in hospitals and nursing homes people who scream like that get sedated. Seriously. It’s not acceptable behavior. If she cannot chose to control her behavior then she needs outside help.
          I cannot believe there are cultures out there that think that constantly screaming at and berating your children is normal. Each time she asks you about your life, counter with “how’s that doctor appointment coming along, mom?”

          Your lie of omission is only a temporary relief. In the long run it will make things far worse. It’s an illusion, not a solution.

          You are clearly miserable in this relationship. Only you can change what you are doing, you cannot change what she is doing. I don’t think you are getting this part: you can’t fix this.

  40. Anon for this*

    I wanted to call Allison’s attention to something in case she wanted to do a PSA (feel free to delete after you read this), but there are some new nasty comments on that blog mentioned last week that exists to criticize other websites, and I think they are very rude and the person should be asked to remove them.

    1. AnotherFed*

      Trolls aren’t worth feeding, and that’s all that would do. There’s nothing to gain from engaging with people committed to behaving badly – you’ll not change their minds, and even if they’re driven off from one internet forum, they’ll surface somewhere else and continue.

      1. fposte*

        Plus, the way you deal with comments you don’t like on another blog is not to read them. It’s not only a strategic error to try to get them removed, it’s an ethical slippery slope–should people have been rude about other sites, or companies, or co-workers here have their posts removed on request? If not, what’s the difference?

      2. danr*

        Yes, it’s better that they’re gathered together and can feed off of each other. In the early email days there were flame wars. There was a particularly nasty one on a list that I was on and I realized that the trolls loved to fight and fight dirty. They got very upset when they were ignored. I quickly learned that if I made a mild suggestion in a discussion, and the reply was nasty, to ignore that person from then on.
        The beauty of AAM is that the people who participate are mature and speak their minds without rancor and nastiness. Yes, the conversation is blunt, but it is well reasoned and polite. And Alison does step in to keep the conversation civil when necessary, which is seldom.

  41. Sparkly Librarian*

    Watching our Harry Potter marathon! And not-really-participating in a block-long garage sale. (I put out a table and a jar for cash; occasionally I put my head out the front door and wave.)

  42. Former Diet Coke Addict*

    Moms: How long did it take you to get pregnant? My husband and I have been trying for three months, which I know is completely normal, but I’m surrounded by a number of “I got pregnant two days after we started trying!” and “He just has to look at me!” people who got pregnant literally within their first month of trying that’s skewing my perspective for the actual time involved. I’m 27, so nowhere near time to stress, but curious for other stories not from my own circle!

    1. Gareth Keenan Investigates*

      Can I recommend doing your best to make this your own journey? Try to tune out people who get pregnant right away. Each pregnancy is different for each person and even the subconscious comparisons can lead to a lot of heartache. Fwiw, I got pregnant very quickly three times but it wasn’t until the third time that the pregnancy “took.” In that time I watched a lot of friends and relatives breeze through pregnancies as if it was nothing and that was really difficult. I hope this doesn’t sound at all preachy or negative- I hope it happens for you very soon!

    2. Sophia in the DM*

      It took us nine months, and it happened when we were thinking about not trying anymore. Up to a year is normal. Best advice: don’t pay attention to mommy blogs or compare yourself to them or RL friends

      1. Neruda*

        I got pregnant on the third month of trying, but up to a year is completely normal. When I told my doctor it was 3 cycles she said ‘Oh that was quick!’ It’s hard not to be disalusioned when you’ve been trying so long. It’s incredibly annoying when people tell you how quickly they got pregnant! If it’s any consolation you forget as soon as you’re pregnant how long it took (and I know I was very lucky).

    3. Clever Name*

      I think it took us 5 months. I remember it seemed like it was taking forever, but when I went to my on to confirm the pregnancy (after having seen her for a “we’re about to start trying” checkup) she was all like, “wow, that was fast!” :)

    4. KJR*

      Child #1: first month of trying
      Child #2: 4 months (which felt like a looong time after child#1!)
      Good luck!!

    5. TootsNYC*

      Ten months.

      And seven months (this one “took” on a week that wasn’t supposed to be all that optimal).

      The first time around, at about 6 months I went to the doctor and said, “Now I want to find out how to maximize this, bcs the ‘let’s just stop b.c. and see what happens’ is getting boring.” He acted like I was sort of making a big deal over nothing. And said, “well, here are some tips, but I really don’t expect to be involved until it’s been about a year.”

      I know someone who swears that all three times (one miscarriage, two kids), she got pregnant the first time they had sex without birth control. She was amazed; she expected it to take a few months, and she said, “Thank GOD I never, ever risked not using birth control back when we were dating!”

      I’m w/ Gareth Keenan Investigates: make this your own journey. Don’t compare–if people can’t converse with you without comparing (I’ve had people genuinely “share,” and others “compare”), or without you feeling like it’s a competition, then stop talking about it.

      I !!laugh!! at all those people who say, “we timed our child to be born in the spring.” Ha! You tried–and you got lucky. That’s all. Don’t take credit.

    6. QA Lady*

      I’m one of those ones you don’t want to hear about–my first was conceived accidentally and my second, the first month we tried. However, my friends are all over the place. One friend got pregnant first try with her first, and then the second took about a year. Another friend took ~8 years and needed medical intervention to have her twins. Another friend needed medical assistance for her first child (and several losses at different stages before she got her little girl), and then had a surprise pregnancy for her second. A friend who is 38 weeks pregnant right now is probably more typical. Her first took 6 months and the baby she’s carrying right now took about 6 months too!

    7. Could be anyone*

      #1 – 15 months but weren’t really trying.
      #2 – 15 months last 4 with medical help (wasn’t ovulating)
      #3 – unplanned and surprise but everything was finally working as it should after #2

      Would suggest if you want to take some control (and would be helpful if you decide your need medical assistance) is to look at natural family planning. It gives you all the signs to look for to know when you’re the most fertile.

  43. Been reading while looking for a job*

    Deleted because work-related; please post work stuff on the Friday open thread!

  44. azvlr*

    I finally went and had LASIK done! I posted here several months ago about whether to go with a smaller clinic or a more well-known place. Advantage for a smaller clinic supposedly is that they don’t crank people through like a factory and theoretically cheaper cost. Advantage for the bigger place – more experience and comprehensive care.

    I went with the well-know place, and so far I couldn’t be happier! I didn’t sense any kind of heavy sales pitch, didn’t feel like just a number and have been very pleased with the patient explanations and thorough care I have gotten.

    My vision is vastly improved, and my experience has been exactly as they describe to me. So not all 100% pleasant (kinda freaky actually!), but not painful and nothing unexpected. I still have halos around lights, which they say is normal for the first few months. I anticipate that my vision will improve from here, but even if it doesn’t, I am so glad I did this! Thanks for the advice, everyone!

    1. Dynamic Beige*

      Yes, it is a pretty freaky experience! Glad it’s working out for you so far, pretty much everyone I know who has had it done — including myself — has not regretted it. You won’t need glasses until your mid 40’s for reading/small print like everyone else on the planet who gets to that time of life (also something I know a little about). I had a thought the other day that I need to go on a vacation where I can snorkel because I would be able to see the fish and that would be awesome!

      1. azvlr*

        I’m already well into my 40’s. But it seems I’m still ok in the reading glasses department for now. Even after surgery!

        1. Dynamic Beige*

          Did you get that new kind I’ve heard of that corrects for age-related vision loss?

          After I had mine done, my vision was something like 21:21, better than “normal” because they overcorrect in the surgery and then your eyes slowly adjust back down. I’m not exactly 20:20 now, but I do need reading glasses to read a book or a pill bottle… unless I want to hold it as far away from my body as possible. It wasn’t until last year that I realised I hadn’t read a book in a while, and that I was uncomfortable doing it. Getting the glasses, I can focus on the words and I don’t get as tired or distracted.

          1. azvlr*

            I’m optimistic that reading glasses will not be in my near future. My near vision was great without contacts before, and seems to be fairly good. Things are still a bit blurry.

            I had not heard of the age-related vision correction. I hope I didn’t miss the boat on that.

    2. Trixie*

      Wonderful news, and what a relief after all the research. In my early 40s, still think about getting this done.

      1. Dynamic Beige*

        FWIW, my father got it done in his late 50’s or early 60’s, so I don’t know if there’s an age limit. Just get an assessment at a centre and see if you are a candidate, then decide whether or not you want to do it/how you can do it.

    3. Jan*

      I got LASIK at 45. Wore glasses from the age of 3 and had extremely bad eyesight. -6.25 in one eye (my dominant right eye) and -5.50 in the left. So they did a monovision correction – left for distance and right for reading – with the caution I would still need readers some day. This was the only way they could do it cause the right eye was too near-sighted and not in the normal correctable range. That was in 2007.

      I need to go back to get my left eye checked for a possible repair. But overall, considering that my hand was blurry when I held it away from me, it is a vast improvement. I appreciated not having glasses fog up when I opened the oven door (although DH does most of the cooking/baking) and once I got past the weirdness of it, being able to see first thing in the morning without scrambling to find glasses.

      I went with the big outfit because they had done a lot so I felt they could be counted on to be safe. They did a lot of upfront testing/visits which was also reassuring.

    4. schnapps*

      Yay! Laser surgery! I had mine done about 7 years back and my vision went from 20/600 to 20/20. My mom had hers done 8 or 9 years ago because her glasses were getting really complex and expensive ($1K/pair). She now buys her reading glasses at the dollar store. We both had to have PRK because of thin corneas – longer recovery time, but it worked really well. The worst part about the experience was when they put the freezing eyedrops in – I have never experienced such a bad brain freeze.

      If anyone else is considering it, go with the best. I went to our local guys in Vancouver who pioneered it and are the guys who fix everyone else’s mistakes.

    1. Cruciatus*

      I just saw one today–look up “baby tortoise eats applesauce”. And these are animated, but I enjoy Simon’s Cat videos at youtube. When I first watched them, which was unfortunately at work, I wasted about an hour watching them all (they are about 1-2 minutes long each). Hope you feel better soon.

      1. Sparky*

        That tortoise was so cute. At first either he or she wasn’t sure about the taste, or it wasn’t sure how to eat the apple sauce. But it figured it out.

    2. fposte*

      I am a longterm fan of Linus the boxer and his family. I think there are five or six years now of Linus and the kids.

      1. fposte*

        Oh, and Parole de chat on YouTube has a ton of hilarious videos–they’re repurposed animal videos with great dialogue added. Subtitles included for nonfrancophones.

    3. The Other CrazyCatLady*

      Seconding fposte’s recommendation of Parole de chat (my favorites are La Peur and Miroirs & chats) and Cruciatus’ recommendation of Simon’s Cat.

      Sad Cat Diary and Sad Dog Diary are GREAT. Also the Dear Kitten video from Buzzfeed is super sweet.

      1. fposte*

        I love Miroirs & chats. Another favorite of mine is La boîte à chat. Dopey cat in a box looking for the “mechanism” to open it again gets me every time.

  45. Looking for advice*

    I posted last week about my boyfriend who I think is suffering from depression. Here is an update…

    1. I went to see a psychologist – for myself. It was really great. When I described his symptoms, she agreed with me that it sounds like depression. She understood my predicament of not being able to get him to admit that it is depression, and we agreed that I don’t need to push the ‘D’ word on him, and that we can just talk about it as the sadness or the negative feelings instead.

    2. He has been showing some goods signs – trying to be more cheerful, arranging to see some friends this week. I now believe that he wants to feel better, which is a relief.

    3. The psychologist and I discussed my behaviour – some of it hasn’t been helpful, like doing everything for him. He has learnt to do nothing for himself, and now feels like he can’t do anything himself. He has become very reliant upon me for his general well-being and happiness. It’s been really hard over the past week to try to pull back some of my ‘over-helpful’ behaviour and get him to do more things himself, and I don’t think I’ve been very successful yet.

    In all, I still don’t know how to help him – there is no road-map for this. I am still not sure if I can get him to see a GP or therapist – he has a general distrust of doctors etc., which is a deeply ingrained thought system that I don’t think I have the capacity to change.

    Finally, and kind of relevant to my previous point, I think he may exhibit some signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder (discovered this on Google). While I am not trying to google-diagnose him, I’m wondering if anyone has come across this before or has any advice on dealing with it?

    1. Looking for advice*

      Ignore the last part about avoidant behaviour – I just looked into it a bit more, and I don’t think I’m on the right track. I think I’m best to bring it up with the psychologist at my next appointment.

    2. BRR*

      I’m happy you went to see somebody. Did he have a reaction to you seeing somebody?

      Be careful with google diagnosing specifically because a lot of psychiatric symptoms overlap and one condition can lead to symptoms of another so it overlaps. Overall I think it can be ok to google stuff to talk about with your doctor but psychiatry is different. Also keep in mind he’s the only one who can describe his symptoms in full.

      1. Looking for advice*

        Thanks BRR. I will keep in mind that he’s the only who can describe his feelings. I guess I’m clutching at straws. My tendency is to want to fix things… it’s just how I am. But I have to remember that this takes time, and there is no quick fix. That’s probably the hardest part for me!

        1. misspiggy*

          The thing that probably got my depressed partner motivated was me needing his help, and appreciating it. Very different case in many ways, but if someone is feeling useless it can help to be needed.

    3. katamia*

      I’m not trying to make you feel worse, but what’s jumping out at me is that a lot of this seems to be focused on how you’re feeling and not how he’s feeling, especially 2, which could be genuine or could be a performance to make you feel better. I’ve had depression for years now and have definitely pretended to be feeling better than I was to make the people around me worry less (because their worry made me feel even worse).

      I understand that you’re worried. In your shoes, I’d be worried, too. But the fact that you were convinced over the course of one week that he wants to feel better might not mean very much in the grand scheme of things, especially since while depression certainly has a chemical component, my depression as well as that of friends and family members I know who have it varies a lot based on our circumstances, like how our jobs are going. Weather and the season also have a huge impact for a lot of people–I have friends who get especially down in summer and others who do in winter. If this is true for him, he may get dramatically better or worse as the seasons change.

      In other words, progress and healing for depression aren’t linear. Depression is a disease with a biological component, but it’s not like recovering from the flu or dental surgery or anything like that.

      I also think you may need to examine and revise your expectations about his progress and what it will look like. It sounds like you’re already doing that to some extent with your decision to not focus on getting him to admit he’s depressed, but there is only so much you can do to help him with this. Most of the work has to be done by him. And the best way to find out what you can do for him is to ask him, not in a grand Conversation About Depression, but about the smaller things–“I’ve been noticing you’ve been kinda down recently. Is there something I can do that would make things easier for you?” And unless what he says is dangerous or crosses some sort of moral line, try to do it, at least for a little while. If he says there isn’t anything, continue to see your therapist because it sounds like it may help you, but accept his no.

      1. Looking for advice*

        Thanks katamia. When I posted on here last week, there were tons of helpful comments. The main thing I got from it was that I needed to sort myself out and be mentally strong enough to help him – I guess that’s why my update focuses mainly on myself and how I feel.

        The reason for mentioning the second point (above) is that it shows that he does want to get better. He has been saying over the last week that he is trying to be more cheerful because he thinks it will help him feel better. I don’t know whether it will work or not, but it gave me some hope that at least he wants to try. And that hope made me feel like I wasn’t alone in trying to get him well again.

        I really appreciate your insight, thank you

      2. BRR*

        In last week’s post it was all about how to get her husband to seek help. The advice from everybody was for her to remember to take care of herself because having a spouse with depression can be hard on a person.

  46. Marcela*

    I need to vent. My in-laws where here last month (I wrote about it several weeks ago, under the name El Gato Café con Leche – I wanted a cooler username, but that wasn’t it-). My FIL behaved this time: it was his new girlfriend who made _us_ crazy. But that’s not important, as I survived.

    Today my brother went to my in-laws’ place to get some gifts we sent for my family. While there, our in-laws told him we had plane tickets to travel to our country in Christmas. WTH?! We didn’t even talk to them about plane tickets! When they were leaving, we told them we would love to be able to travel in December, but we need some luck as our green card is still in process. We also told them earlier that all our money went to the green card attorney, and that my husband was using all his PTO and holidays for the week they traveled together (he started this job less than one year ago), so probably he wasn’t going to have enough time to travel to the other side of the world in December.

    Has this thing happened to you before? I mean, when you say “A” to your family and somehow that ends being “123”? Now I’m dreading the conversation with my mother or my MIL, who will complain about how we don’t tell them anything. There IS a reason for that!!

    1. MsChanandlerBong*

      It used to happen all the time with my FIL’s wife. I don’t have any advice, as I finally got fed up with her nonsense and haven’t spoken to or seen her since April 2014, but I can certainly empathize. After a while, you start to feel like *you’re* the crazy one.

      The worst was when I told her my husband I had a $25 gift certificate to a restaurant we were eating at the next week. I said we’d apply the gift card to the overall bill, and then we’d pay for our own meals, drinks, and portion of the tip and taxes. When we finished eating dinner, she handed me the check and said, “Here. You said you’d pay!” I most certainly did not, as we can’t afford a $200 dinner bill.

      1. Marcela*

        Yeah… sometimes I wonder if we are the crazy ones, because this happens with my mother, my closest aunt, my MIL, my FIL, now his girlfriend… Only my father and brother escape this alternative reality. I wonder if there is something in the way we say things, I don’t know, I feel in the twillight zone!

    2. INTP*

      It happens to me, but under different circumstances – my grandmother has dementia, so she forgets the facts and kind of makes up things to fill the gaps. She’s still the one I’m closest to of all my family in my home-region, so she tells people all kinds of things. Most of them know to take what she says with a grain of salt, and aren’t surprised when they’re corrected, but still believe whatever she says until they’re told otherwise. She doesn’t quite understand my job, so she just tells people I’m looking for teaching work (I was a TA for a year and hated it). The awkward thing currently is that my parents are moving back to my home state, I am tagging along for awhile, and my grandmother is saying they are looking for houses in my mom’s hometown (where my grandma lives, hence the wishful thinking filling in of memories), to my relatives who mostly live in that city. We are absolutely NOT willing to live in that town whatsoever, we do not like it at all. So now we have to break it to everyone that we aren’t looking there (I think we’ll use the excuse of the commute being too far).

  47. Ms Bad Soap Opera Plot*

    So what is the acceptable amount of time would you say that you should wait before dating a guy who is breaking up with a live in girlfriend of a few years? I’ve known him on a casual/acquaintance level for years (and have had a steadily growing bit of attraction for him in that time) but it has just recently come to light that the attraction was mutual, though neither of us assumed the other felt that way. He’s been unhappy with, and in the process of getting out of his relationship for a while, but I don’t want to be the rebound gal, so to speak. I’d really like to see where things go with him, but he needs to break up with her for his own reasons and not jump right into something new…

    I think he’s worth waiting for, to an extent, but I want some outside opinions. I certainly don’t want to be strung along. I can understand the difficulties associated with terminating a relationship where you live together/share pets*, etc but I guess I’m wondering what’s a normal time frame? And then how long after that before we could consider starting something up? As my name chosen for this question implies, I get this is kind of the stuff bad soaps are made of (hoping some guy will dump his girlfriend for me) and I do know I have to go into it with my eyes open, and also not let anything at all happen before he’s truly single. He just, for many reasons, is the kind of guy I could truly see myself ending up with, and that is not a thing that happens to me, ever.

    *I also want outside perspective because I know I am looking at this from my side only. What is fair to this girl? Of course you shouldn’t continue to be with someone who wants out/is attracted to someone else, etc etc, but is it fair/normal for the process to be longer when you live with someone? I never have, so my breakups have all been pretty swift. I lack a frame of reference here.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      It took my bf almost a year to break up with his ex. Things had been bad between them for a while, then they moved in together and things got worse. Then he met me. I always add, “NOTHING HAPPENED” here, because it’s true and important– we definitely connected, there was definitely an attraction, and we talked frankly about it after a while, but I didn’t kiss my boyfriend until about 11 months later, well after he had broken up with her. The decision was his and it had to be that way. In fact, we didn’t speak for several months while he was working himself through it. My boyfriend is a very thorough guy who doesn’t like to make quick decisions (about anything– try getting him to select furniture), and he owed it to the relationship and to her to make sure he was doing something he truly wanted to do, that he wasn’t acting rashly based on the attraction he had for me.

      It was HARD. I look back on that period as the toughest of my life. I didn’t want to be attracted to a man who was with someone else. So many times I wanted to slap him, or myself, or both of us, and just snap out of it. It was worth it in the end, but it was painful. I went out with a few guys during that period and tried to get past it as best I could.

      There is no “normal” here. He might decide to leave her next week and immediately get together with you. I’d be wary of that, though– like you said, you don’t want to be the rebound. My advice from someone who’s been there is to step back from him for a while. If you’re serious about him, cut off contact until he breaks up with her. You can only control your own actions here, so take a step back– you’re not going to put your life on hold and pine after some dude, right? So live your life without him. If and when he’s ready to be with you, he’ll find you, but it has to be up to him.

      As far as what is fair to her… that’s his call (as the boyfriend), not yours. I get that you want to be kind, but no one truly knows what goes on in a relationship except the two people involved. You’re not responsible for her feelings (or for his, for that matter). Let them work it out between themselves.

      1. Ms Bad Soap Opera Plot*

        Thank you so much for your advice and insights! I had told him last night that he basically needs to get back to me when he’s figured things out. Just knowing myself it will be very hard to cut off contact and/or not kind of pine away and wait. I’ve never really had that “he’s the one” feeling about anyone before, and while I understand that of course that feeling doesn’t indicate that if/when we do get together everything will be perfect, but it’s hard to ignore.

        It’s so funny how I was fine knowing him on a friendly level only for YEARS, but now that I know there could be something, even the smallest amounts of time seem too long. Hopefully since fall (my favorite season) is coming up I will be able to do lots of things that will distract me and won’t (like I worry) be thinking in the back of my head, hey so these haunted houses with friends were fun, but would be so much better if I could be clinging to Mr X. Sigh…

    2. Dan*

      No set time. But enough time to make sure he’s over it. It took me a year and a half after splitting with my ex (we were married) before I felt like I could truly date again.

      That’s just one data point.

    3. NicoleK*

      Here’s my two cents. Don’t put your life on hold for a man or anyone. Continue to date other people casually (obviously be upfront about your expectations).

      1. Just because he’s been unhappy for years and is in the process of leaving the relationship, it may take months or maybe a year to finally leave. Also, it’s not unheard of for unhappy couples to break up and get back together once or twice, before breaking up for good.

      2. And just because there’s mutual attraction, it may not lead to a relationship for you and him due to fear, bad timing, wanting different things, feeling not ready to get into another relationship, and etc.

    4. let's go anon for this*

      So, I’m not saying that this was the best idea ever, but I got together with my now husband about a day after I broke off a serious relationship of four years.
      The long story is that the old relationship was long-distance, and deteriorated somewhat quickly, and I had known my now husband about a year. We were friends for about nine months and discovered our mutual attraction, and declared it to each other about a month before my other relationship ended. We tried to just kiss and hang out and not call ourselves a relationship for a little bit, but ultimately we just couldn’t stop ourselves being in a relationship no matter what we wanted to call it. We had a lot of talks about not wanting to be a rebound, but at the end of the day, it just didn’t matter, we couldn’t stay apart.
      That was ten years ago and we’ve really suffered no ill effects from the situation. That doesn’t mean that it wouldn’t be an issue in probably most situations, but when it’s right, it’s right and sometimes things don’t go as planned. :)

    5. gonna go anon for this*

      I met my husband when he was in the process of splitting from his wife. I had nothing to do with it, it was in process when we met. But we started dating right away and his divorce was not final until several months later.

      Things worked out okay for us. We’ve been married over 25 years. But it was hard on me for the first year. Even though he initiated the split from his wife, it was because of something she did that hurt him badly. I liked him, I knew he liked me, but I was so afraid of being the “rebound”. I was very insecure for a while.

      While it worked out for me, I think I was lucky. I have a good friend who has had the bad misfortune of becoming involved with men who are supposedly in the process of breaking up with their wives. They never do and she gets dragged into all kinds of drama.

      You say he is “worth waiting for”. Is he also worth getting dragged into all kinds of drama? Honestly, I think I’d wait until he and the girlfriend are physically apart at least and all domestic details are worked out. Maybe longer.

  48. MsChanandlerBong*

    This is depressing, so feel free to skip if you don’t want to ruin your weekend. Does anyone have suggestions for a group gift to give someone who just experienced a tragic, unexpected loss? A friend of mine just lost her 11-month-old son. We can’t do a deli tray because she’s pregnant with her second child right now, and I guess you’re not supposed to eat luncheon meat when you’re pregnant. We don’t want to do anything that’s going to go bad after four or five days, either. We were thinking bagels and muffins. Obviously, it’s not going to help ease her pain, but we’d like to make sure she has food or something she can use to get through the next few weeks.

    1. A*

      I wouldn’t want anything if it were me, but maybe some tea and a nice mug? I don’t know, gifts for tragedies always seemed wildly inappropriate to me.

      1. fposte*

        I’m from the Midwest, so to me tragedies are all about food gifts. Casseroles are the go-to, but they don’t feel really enticing in the late summer heat. I like the bagels idea–maybe some hard cheese, which would last pretty well and could be snacked on? Fruit baskets turn up in this situation as well; you could certainly get some apples this time of year, and they’d last reasonably well.

        1. Colette*

          Seconding food. It’s a blessing to not have to worry about what you’re going to eat. A gift card to a place that does delivery as well as eat in would also be good – if they need to get out, it’s somewhere to go. If they can’t handle it, they can eat in.

    2. DebbieDebbieDebbie*

      Breakfast pastries, breads and maybe some cut fresh fruit sounds lovely. Really any gesture made in love and perhaps followed up with in the days, weeks and months ahead is the kindest thing you can do for someone who has suffered a loss. At a time of tragedy in my life, a neighbor whom I did not know well left a mason jar with fresh cut peony flowers on my doorstep. Even 15 years later, peonies blooming in the spring remind me of the teeny tiny spark of hope I felt that day.
      I am so deeply sorry for your friend.

    3. AvonLady Barksdale*

      How horrible… I’m so sorry. Food is a good way to go (and what I’m used to– traditional Jewish funerals are always followed by deli trays). Send over a breakfast tray, but if you can, send something frozen as well. There will likely be days in the future, after everyone goes home, where knowing there’s something available in the freezer that doesn’t require much effort will be very appreciated.

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        Thanks for all the suggestions. The obituary just went up on the funeral home’s website (it wasn’t out yet when I posted earlier), and it says in lieu of flowers, people can give the family donations at the viewing to help with the baby’s medical bill. So maybe we should skip the food and just give an envelope of money.

        1. Observer*

          I’d say both – food, especially something that is both easy to eat and practical (eg something can be be frozen in individual portions and doesn’t have any dishes that need to be returned) is something that is immediately useful in a way that donations aren’t. Keep in mind, flowers are also not terribly useful, so it doesn’t translate to food. Just make sure that you keep in mind any dietary restrictions your friend and the family may have.

          Last thought – if you have something sent from a store, such as a fruit platter, please double check the packaging and attached card. Even if you can’t physically look at it, make sure to tell them explicitly to avoid anything explicitly festive. eg they should make sure they don’t use their standard “congratulations” card on the platter.

    4. Meadowsweet*

      I’m so sorry for your friend.

      A family friend brought a big bag of frozen dinners when I was widowed – Lean Cuisine or something like, just single-serving portions that could be heated when I could eat. It was nice not to have to make decisions or be focused enough to cook.

      If they’re asking for donations in lieu of flowers I’d say that either a donation or a donation and food would both be appropriate and welcome.

      1. MK2000*

        I agree: I don’t think it’s wrong to give food just because they don’t want flowers. Food is useful; flowers can be viewed as a waste of money.

        I’ve found that lasagna is a good food gift. You can make it in a foil pan so they can just throw the pan out afterward, and it holds up to freezing pretty well so they don’t have to eat it all at once. You can just include a note with heating instructions and it’s good to go.

        Sorry to hear about your friend’s loss.

    5. TootsNYC*

      A gift card to a place that delivers food would be a smart move.

      Or instead of a group gift, do the Midwest thing and each of you drop off a frozen version of one meal for her family. Or, split up the evenings, and bring the meal in the late afternoon, if at all possible, so they can eat it right away.

      Depending on how close I am, I’d do food *and* a monetary gift.

  49. Alistair*

    So after a series of things at both work and home, I went off to my doctor, and will shortly start taking Adderall (well, the generic version).

    If any one here takes Adderall, can you tell me your experiences? Did you have any side effects? How do you feel with the medication versus when you don’t take it?

    I sincerely hope this will help me, though I admit I’m apprehensive about taking such a strong medication.

    Thanks for any insight y’all might have.

    1. Not A Real Adult*

      I take immediate release Adderall (20mg a day total). I generally have lack of appetite, dry mouth, and some irritability when it wears off, plus a bit of trouble sleeping if I take it too late. They’re all annoying, but I am very willing to cope with them for the overall benefits to my mental health and ability to function normally.

      I don’t feel much different on it than off it, but my behavior is just much more normal and moderate (‘normal’ relative to the people around me). Hyperfocusing is a big problem for me when I’m unmedicated, and it just doesn’t happen on the meds. I feel overwhelmed and overstimulated much less, and experience less anxiety in social situations.

      It took me some experimentation to figure out what times and in what doses to take it for minimum side effects + maximum benefits, so don’t be afraid to try tweaking things (w/ medical approval). You might not get it quite right for your system the first time. I also wouldn’t worry about it being a ‘strong’ medication – you can take it in a low dose at first, and it doesn’t stay in your system for a long time like an SSRI does, so if doesn’t work for you, you can call the experiment over in 24 hours.

      1. BRR*

        Ooh I second caffeine. You might not have any at least the first time you take it. I also always start my meds on a weekend so I can see how I will react.

    2. BRR*

      Even a tiny bit of adderall makes me feel very icky. I felt very panicky on it (separate from my anxiety). I have personally responded better to a combination of vyvanse and intuniv. This isn’t a recommendation or a warning, everybody responds differently to different meds and if something doesn’t work there are a lot to try.

      I like how on my current meds my head feels a lot clearer and the energy is not a bad side effect. It does make me my want to grind my teeth so I have to watch that, something I’m on gives me dry mouth (biotene helps with that), and I have to be careful to not end up focusing on the wrong thing. I also have to not take it too late in the morning as vyvanse has a long half life and it used to affect my sleep a little.

    3. INTP*

      It makes me feel a little uncomfortable in a way that is difficult to describe. It’s kind of like the physiological sensations that go along with being excited about something, but none of the emotions and nothing to be excited about. I also have had issues with inflamed taste buds that can be due to changes in your saliva or something.

      For me, it’s definitely not miraculous and doesn’t make me feel normal or anything. Vyvanse did that – it was like I could think in straight lines for the first time in my life, and write papers in an orderly fashion when previously it was all over the place (twenty different ideas for paragraphs or sections and then I saw what I could fit together logically and made a thesis out of it). Unfortunately, it became addictive and eventually made me manic. Adderall is not pleasant enough to be addictive. I don’t like the way I feel on it really but I do get a bit more done. I’m on a very small dose because I’m sensitive to medications, so that could be the reason.

      The surprising thing for me was that it does nothing to make concentrating on boring stuff less unpleasant or improve my discipline at staying on task. It helps my impulse control so that I don’t open up a tab and go to a website I shouldn’t be on, but I do have to create an environment conducive to keeping me on task. If I take my adderall and open AAM, I will just spend 2 hours writing AAM comments much more efficiently than usual. In fact, sometimes it makes it harder for me to stay on task, because my ideas are more coherent and easier to verbalize, which gives me a burning need to write them out. Since my ideas are rarely related to my immediate work tasks, this isn’t so good.

  50. pandq*

    Any AAM’ers in Portland, Oregon? I’m considering going to Portland in October for some CPE I need for my licensing and thought maybe I’d go for an extra day or two since I’ve never been. I’ll be staying near the airport where the seminar is, but would like to go downtown or take a tour. Any advice or something I shouldn’t miss?

    1. nep*

      I don’t live in Portland, OR; I was there just once for work ages ago. But I’ll say it was well worth it to take some extra time to drive to Cannon Beach. My knowledge is super limited and I’m sure people from the state could shed some light and suggest a lot of other things. But that was a spectacular drive and destination.

      1. pnw*

        I’m from Portland. There are a lot of things in the city you might want to see – all those attractions will probably be in the brochures you pick up at your hotel. If you don’t mind a little driving, Cannon Beach ( as mentioned above) is a 90-120 minute drive. The beach is usually somewhat windy and rainy but we’ve had such an unusually warm and dry summer you might get lucky, although we are finally getting some rain again. If you like hiking you could hit up Forest Park or with a 45 minute drive you can drive down the Columbia River gorge and check out Multnomah Falls. There are also a lot of hiking trails in the gorge. If you like books, you’ll want to check out Powell Books in the downtown area. If you like food cars, you’re in luck. Portland has a lot of them.

    2. Meadowsweet*

      not from Portland, but I used to visit. I’m mostly familiar with the Pearl District though.
      – if you like books Powell’s is AWESOME.
      – if you’re into board games or RPGs Guardian Games is pretty fantastic
      – Portland’s a foodie town – I’ve never had a bad meal there
      – I’m not sure if you’ll be driving or not? The light rail is quite good – the Red Line is about 30-45 minutes from the airport to downtown and is pretty reliable.

      have fun!

      1. Alston*

        I second Powell’s, I usually camp out there for at least half a day.

        Voodoo Donuts is a great place to go as a tourist (or anyone), giant donuts, cult following, weird flavors.

        Ruby Jewel Scoops is a fantastic icecream shop.

        Have fun!

    3. catsAreCool*

      Powell’s Books is amazing – you can literally get lost in this bookstore, but don’t worry, there’s usually someone around who can give you directions.

      Oregon Zoo is impressive. I’ve been able to go on some of the behind the scenes there, and they take great care of their animals, working on enrichment, proper food, medical care, etc.

      The Japanese Garden and the Rose Garden are next to each other and both amazing.

  51. Stella Maris*

    Thanks again for the Arizona tourist suggestions from last weekend’s post! (We’ll be there soon so I’ll let you know when we return how it went.)

    Best thing this week: started an iron supplement that (maybe?) doesn’t make me feel super gross!! I have super-low levels and was starting to get pretty sick but couldn’t handle the supplements. So if these new pills work I will be so pleased!

  52. nep*

    Parents out there — how did it go when you had to leave your little one at daycare the first few times? How old was the child? I’ve been bringing my niece (who’s in my care Mon through Fri) to a child watch where I work occasionally, for a while at a time, to get her used to playing and interacting with other children and with adults she doesn’t know. I slip out occasionally to see how she’ll do, thinking that in time she’ll get the pattern — auntie’s coming back and she’s not being abandoned. (Is that how it works?) Man oh man I just can’t take the screaming/crying that inevitably comes within a few minutes. (I can hear the parents out there chuckling at me). I’m a wimp. This is why I’m not a mom — can’t do the hard stuff.
    It’s for the child’s own good to get her acclimated to this, I know. I’ve just got to suck it up and do it. But I just hate that this process means her crying hysterically every time. I’d be interested to hear about others’ experiences with this. Is this drama avoided altogether when a child gets used to being in daycare from infancy?

    1. matcha123*

      I used to work as a teacher at a kindergarten/pre-school that took in kids from ages 1 or 2 up to age 6 or 7.
      Kids will cry. Even the older kids who knew how things went would cry when they came back from a long break or the weekend. Just let her cry. She might cry the first two weeks like some of the kids I had or not cry at all.
      When she sees the other kids playing and having fun, she’ll stop after a while and then you’ll just have to worry about biting, hitting and fighting over toys.

      You can prep her by saying that you’ll be dropping her off and she’ll have a good time with the other kids, she can ask a teacher for help and she should listen to what her teacher says.
      I myself was going to daycare from a young age, and I’m sure I probably cried a number of times, but I don’t remember it. I just remember playing with the other kids :)

    2. Samantha*

      I think it may just depend on the child. I got custody of my nephew when he was 17 months old, and put him in a home daycare while I was at work. Prior to that he had never been in any type of child care situation – he was always at home or watched by a family member. The first week was a little rough, although there was never any outright screaming or crying. After that, drop off was a breeze. Maybe your niece just needs a little longer to adjust. Are you planning on eventually putting her in this child watch every day M-F? It might actually be easier on her that way, since she’ll get used to that routine of, ok, every day my aunt goes to work, this is where I go. In any case, she will eventually adjust, make friends, and understand that you’ll always come back to pick her up.

    3. nep*

      Thanks for the feedback and insights. I want it to work — I know it’s for her own good. I know — I’ve just got to suck it up. Helps to exchange about it.

      1. fposte*

        Not a parent, but I wonder if the “slip out occasionally but don’t go far” approach is the hardest possible one for you, since you’re hearing the distress. Maybe “slip out occasionally and immediately go get coffee/run around the building perimeter chanting ‘she’s fine'” would be better for you than this? I get the point of monitoring the response the first few times when it’s easy to do, but it might be worth starting to think about how best to get Auntie nep through this, too.

        1. nep*

          Spot on. I’ve not left the building for a stroll. I linger. I hear. I give in. Can’t stand the screaming. Of course it’s about my getting over it. Can’t help thinking she’s suffering and why put a child through that…But as everyone tells me, kids cry. It’s part of this process. Suck it up, nep.
          Thanks for the insights and feedback, all.

        2. TootsNYC*

          Yeah, I wouldn’t suggest “slipping out.”

          Say “Goodbye! Have fun! Se eyou later.” And leave blatantly.
          Do not in any circumstance act sympathetic when she cries–because that simply tells her that she’s right, this -should- be scary.

          Be blithe and cheery, and GO. Openly.

          The giving in is actually reinforcing her belief that this is bad. You’re sending the exactly wrong message.

          I used to hang around when I dropped my kid off (he was a regular at a center that mostly handled emergency short-notice care; he’d be off playing and ignoring me until I said goodbye). I saw how the kids actually got amped up by Mom saying, “oh, I’ll stay until you’re happy.” It scared them! If Mom thought it was so scary that she had to stay, then it really must BE scary!

          If the mom left promptly and cheerfully, the kid would cry for a little, but then coudl get distracted for something else.
          There was a kid of two that would still be really unhappy; one of them was a girl who was so bored she couldn’t stand it; she needed to be in nursery school so badly. The other child, I think wasn’t neurotypical. He cried for the whole day. That’s 2 out of something like 250 that I saw over the years.

      2. Moonpie*

        I understand this well. My peapod was with private babysitters (mostly family) from 3 months, but at 9 months it was time for daycare. It was hard, but the very best thing is to take them in, brief but big hugs and kisses and “I’ll be back this afternoon” and then exit. No lingering, in or out of sight. She will be fine very shortly and daycare workers will be better able to care for her without the sight/sound of you stirring her up again. Hugs – this stuff is not easy, but it will all come out ok!

    4. MMM*

      My son’s kindergarten teacher had to peel him off of me every morning for the first week or two. It was only the goodbye that was a problem, though, because he was fine after I left, and he talked happily about school when I picked him up. Now he’s going to school in another country, so I guess he mastered that goodbye!

    5. Blue_eyes*

      I’ve taught kids from 3 years old on up. If it helps, 99% of kids are totally fine within about 5 minutes of their adult leaving. It may be best if you can be very firm about leaving as soon as you bring her. Give her a hug and kiss and tell her something like “I love you and I will pick you up at (time).” Then leave (I know this is much harder than it sounds). Children cry all the time for all kinds of things and daycare workers/teachers will be used to dealing with crying children. In my experience, it’s often worse when the adult lingers because then the child can still see them and think that they might get to leave with the adult. Once you’re out of their sight, they’ll move on to all the fun new toys and people in their environment.

    6. Observer*

      A few thoughts:

      Do NOT “slip out”. Instead tell her you are leaving, then GO – to where you cannot hear. Then come back in a reasonable time frame.

      Some crying is normal in the first week or two. In your case, it might be longer, because you have been teaching her that you’ll come back if she hollers, so you need to “unteach” that.

      However, if you get real screaming, crying that doesn’t stop till you come back, and / or unhappiness when you come to get her and this lasts for more that 2-3 weeks, look for another child care arrangement.

      1. nep*

        Thanks a lot for the thoughts. Right — I’ve been concerned that I’ve already done things I’ve got to ‘unteach’.
        The thing is, we (relatives and I) are the child care arrangement — we are daycare. I simply want to help get the little one acclimated to hanging with other children and with non-family adults, so she won’t face that abruptly when it comes time for pre-school or kindergarten — Is that nuts or reasonable?

        1. Observer*

          Not nuts, but not necessarily useful. How old is she now, and in how long do you expect her to need a different type of arrangement? Unless you expect things to change in the next 6 months or so, I’d say leave it be.

          If you do expect her to have to change this in the near future, then you do have a possible issue on your hands, But the way you are dealing with it right now is actually the worst of both worlds. “Slipping out” makes things much more scary for her. And coming back when she cries teaches her that that brings you back.

    7. Catherine from Canada*

      My youngest (3 years old at the time) was in a half-day daycare so that I could work at a part-time job.The rest of the time he was with me. He would say, “Oh, mom, not again.” when I’d put him in the car but hop out quite happily when we arrived, and I was told, reassured, that he was fine while there.
      But when I’d go to pick him up? The other moms would hang around to watch this.

      He’d be sitting on the bench with the teacher in the coat room. I’d come in the door and he’d say, “Mom! you came back! Look, Lori, my mom came back!” Every. single. time. for. two. years.

      Jeeez, kid, what did you think? That I wasn’t going to come back for my “buddy”?

  53. a*

    I may be a bit late to the party, but I have a question: how do you all deal with having friends who just don’t have the same standards of manners as you?

    I have a friend who’s very close to me, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like she’s being rude even though I know she only has the best intentions. For instance, she very rarely says “Thank you” when I do her a favor. I got a new desk chair recently and she asked for my old one, but when I texted her to make sure she got it after I dropped it off she replied, “yeah” with no follow-up. I know it sounds a little petty to get upset over something small like this, but I genuinely can’t recall her ever thanking me for anything.

    When I talk to her I ask her about her life and we talk about things she’s interested in, but she never asks me about what’s going on with me. If I want to tell her something that’s happened in my life, I have to be the one to make the conversation about myself, and it’s often not worth it because her reactions make me feel like she’s not interested in hearing about it at all. When I told her I got a new job, she said, “Oh,” unenthusiastically and moved on.

    I guess the problem really is that she’s very literal and straightforward in her manner of speaking, and social conventions that feel like standard politeness to me don’t occur to her at all. I understand that I probably can’t expect her to change, but it still hurts my feelings a little bit when she won’t pretend to be excited about something for my sake or say little niceties like “thank you” (or if she bumps into me or inconveniences me slightly, she won’t say “sorry”).

    So my question is basically this: how can I deal with feeling like she’s being rude to me? She’s a great friend otherwise, and she acts this way towards everyone so I know intellectually it isn’t personal. But somehow it still stings when something like that occurs.

    1. Colette*

      This doesn’t sound like lack of interest in the niceties – it sounds like she’s quite self-cantered. Are you sure she’s a good friend? Are you happy with what you get out of the friendship?

      I can’t imagine having a good friend who didn’t want to know that I had a new job, for example.

      I see two options:
      – think of her as an acquaintance. Don’t expect any support or interest from her, and don’t go out of your way to do things for her. Don’t give her stuff, either – IMO, no thank you means she doesn’t appreciate it, so give stuff to someone who does. If you enjoy activities together, keep doing them.
      – tell her what you want. “When I give you stuff and you don’t acknowledge that you got them or thank me, it makes me feel like you don’t appreciate them. When I share big news, I’m disappointed when you don’t seem interested. This isn’t about pointless social niceties, and it’s important to me.”

    2. fposte*

      I have a friend a little like this–she’s kind but not thoughtful, I’d say. (She’s exactly the same on the “won’t ask you, won’t ask deeper about you” stuff.) She is, however, very pleasant company for the occasional lunch, and that’s pretty much where our friendship has landed.

      If she were otherwise a really good friend, I might tell her that it bugs me when she doesn’t say thanks, and could she please try in the future? But the rest of it to me moves her into the “not worth the hassle” territory.

    3. MMM*

      That doesn’t sound like a close friend to me. Maybe this is someone you enjoy doing things with, and you need to re-set your expectations to just that. Or move on if you want something more.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yep. I agree. This is what I consider to be too much work in a friendship. Friendship has a back and a forth; a give and a take. Your’s sounds like it’s all take. It’s okay to expect more out of friendships. I wish I did not wait until I was in my 30s to figure that out.

    4. Marcela*

      I guess I am guilty of that. Well, not the part of not using “thank you” or “please”, which I do use, all the time, as I try to be as grateful as I can. But I am a very, very, very private person, and I usually resent being asked about my life. It’s mostly a reaction to my grandmother’s and mom’s pretension that they had a right to know absolutely everything about me, my dreams and plans. Even today, my mom can’t have a conversation with me: they are interrogations. So I’m very wary of asking my friends about their lives. I figure they will tell me about it if they want, and of course, in that case I am enthusiastic about their news. It’s not that I don’t care: I’m paranoid of being intruding. Nobody had ever said to me they feel neglected, so now I’m worrying a little. I’ll talk to them about this.

      1. Colette*

        The difference with you is that you show interest when they mention things – I’d be a lot more inclined to give the friend the benefit of the doubt in that case.

  54. nep*

    Would you really like for her to pretend to be interested or use niceties just for convention’s sake? (She might be interested or excited about things you share but just not express it in a way most people are used to.)
    I can see how her behaviour must be jarring — like ‘Yeah’ about the chair, or ‘Oh’ about your new job. But as you said this is how she is with everyone. She’s not singling you out.
    The thing of talking only about herself and her own ‘stuff’, and not asking you about your life — that is an annoying characteristic. And I don’t think there’s a thing to be done about it.
    I don’t really have any advice, except that if you decide you want to continue the friendship and spend time with her, chalk this up as odd behaviour and don’t take it personally. (Just curious — you say ‘she’s a great friend otherwise’ — what makes her a great friend? Perhaps just focus on those aspects.)

  55. Traveling anon*

    How do you decide you have enough money to take a travel vacation? I usually feel I don’t have enough money or I am afraid I will not have enough money later so I rarely travel. But I was talking with a part-time co-worker and she has 2 trips booked for the fall (one overseas, where the ticket alone seems to be $900). Some of my expenses are probably higher than hers (housing) but I make more than she does and my job is much more secure…so it seems it is more fear of financial insecurity than actual.

    1. Colette*

      You have enough money to travel when you can pay for the trip and incidentals in full, without credit, and without sacrificing things you need (such as emergency savings). Your coworker may be getting money you don’t or putting the trips on credit, so comparing your situations will just be confusing.

      1. Sinjin*

        Traveling is my passion, and I make it a priority (financially, etc…) over other interests. When I travel, I want to minimize my stress and not have to worry about money. So, my trick is to save and pay for as much as possible (flight, hotel, transport, etc…) in advance. That way, I can just have fun on my trip. If I don’t have the cash to cover it when it’s time to book, I don’t go. I get to travel pretty often, and I’ve found that family/friends/co-workers are very supportive. I’m a solo, female traveler, and I get a lot of … “I could never do that!” … so, I figure the more, and further, I travel the more I’m proving to others (especially women) that it’s okay to go solo, it’s fun, it’s incredibly liberating, and it’s doable if you make a plan.

    2. matcha123*

      When I’ve saved up enough money.
      Unlike the person above me, I don’t have an emergency fund or anything like that.

      I “travel” when I can because I need to get out of the country I’m in so that I don’t have some kind of mental breakdown. But, I feel the same why as you do. Right now, I’ve booked two “trips,” one home and one to a close overseas location. All the the money I have in savings will be used for these two trips.

      I think you should think about where you’d like to go and how long you’d like to stay. When you look into the flight (if it’s needed), lodging, etc. you can start to make a mental budget. For example, the bulk of my costs for my first trip will be transportation related (train and airfare). I don’t mind sleeping in a dorm with others (cheap), eating regular food and visiting free places. If you want to stay in a 4-star hotel, eat out at fancy restaurants or spend a lot on shopping then you’ll certainly have to adjust your budget that way.

    3. BRR*

      Seconding Colette with that she might not be able to actually afford to travel and is putting it on credit cards or has somebody funding the travel.

      If you want to travel, my method is you need to know where you’re traveling and then figure out costs on a list. Then figure out how much money you need to put away each month. If travel is really a priority, then it turns into a saving every penny thing. For me, I’m a spender. The way I’ve helped myself save is I have a checking and a savings account and I can at least not touch my savings. If I want to buy something that’s a luxury and talk myself out of it because I don’t need it, I transfer that amount to my savings anyways and that has added up. Keep in mind you pay things at different times. Plane tickets you pay for when you buy them, hotels vary with what they want up front, food isn’t until you’re there.

      I’d also look around for how to minimize costs. Reward credit cards with sign up bonuses that you can cancel before they start charging a fee. Hostels are nicer over sees and cheaper than hotels. Search airfares with flexible dates and check alternate airports both by you and the destination. If you’re open to where you go look for airfares by destination.

      The last part of my response is I have no clue how people afford it. My brother and sister-in-law are spending like $25K on travel this year because they have a dozen weddings to attend. I had to work to attend a friend’s wedding out of state and it was $1,500 all in.

    4. Hellanon*

      I do a fair bit of traveling even though I don’t make a ton of money, and what I do so that the expense doesn’t generate a lot of 3am worrying is this: I plan far enough in advance that I can write checks for the big parts – flight, lodging – before I go. With the lodging part, I book apartments in the cities/places I want to go: much cheaper than hotels, and I can eat a lot of meals in instead of relying on restaurants 3x per day.

      I’m careful about my spending in the 6 months before the trip – it’s sort of a “lunch out here? Or in Paris? Buy this book now? Or at the Uffizi museum shop?” equation that means I’m consciously putting off my discretionary spending at home in favor of being able to pay for museums/meals out whilst traveling.

      Doing it this way means that regardless of whether I can actually afford to travel, I feel like I’m emotionally able to travel because I’m pulling the funds out of discretionary income, not dipping into savings or putting it on credit cards. Life is short. Travel is good. Figure out how to make it work, then go!

    5. INTP*

      Saving for traveling is not just about what you make. Most people that travel a lot, ime, make it a priority in their spending. They will minimize entertainment expenses at home – cable TV and eating out could easily add up to an overseas trip or two within a year. A starbucks habit could add up to a domestic vacation. People with the same income and housing expenses can have vastly different total spending based on their daily habits. And of course, there are other differences in everyone’s situations – some people get trips or luxury items as gifts from well-off parents or family members, many people have no student loans or other debt, etc.

      Also, I agree with a commenter above about how you know you can afford it. If you’re able to save up enough for the vacation while meeting your daily expenses and necessary savings (like contributing to your retirement fund) and without dipping into your emergency savings, you can afford it. Of course you may not want to spend all or any of that discretionary income on travel, if you prefer other types of luxuries, but you could afford it.

      1. edj3*

        +1 regarding making it a priority. My husband and I travel and get a lot of comments from friends about how much we must spend on travel. But you see, traveling is our hobby and really our only one. To INTP’s point, we don’t have cable (although we do eat out for date night on Friday nights), we don’t have a Starbuck’s habit, we fully own our cars and don’t have a huge mortgage.

        So that’s how we do it and we do it as often as we can with our Crazy Trips.

        1. cuppa*

          Same here. We tend to get comments, too. But the thing is, we don’t have cable, we eat at home a lot, we have older cars, we have a small house where the mortgage is comparable to rent. We deliberately put aside money for savings for trips.
          Also, we are Rick Steves-type travelers. We stop at a grocery store and get a cooler and lunchmeat and have sandwich picnics. We stay in average hotels or B&Bs. We minimize our expenses. A lot of it is just where you spend your money.

    6. danr*

      When you feel comfortable taking the trip. Some people are comfortable traveling on credit with little money in reserve, others are not.

    7. Dan*

      I make a decent chunk of change, but owe a lot of student loan and credit card debt from a divorce and lay off two years ago.

      IMHO, *everything* is about opportunity cost and value. Will I spend $3k for a weekend or even a week away? No. But I will spend it on a month long trip over seas.

      Since people place debt repayment as a high priority, it comes before everything else. I don’t. My student loans are at 4%, and my credit cards are all 0% balance transfer offers. I’m fine with that and will repay them over what I consider to be a reasonable period.

      If that left me with no surplus budget, then I wouldn’t travel.

    8. The IT Manager*

      I found out recently that my bro is still paying off the credit card for a vacation to the Bahamas he took years ago – like maybe 10. So your co-worker may be paying on credit and may be paying for years.

      I agree that you have enough when you can pay upfront for everything. My bother has learned his lesson, though, and now he mostly just camps – a car and a tent (no cabins or RVs) and enjoys that too.

  56. Future EdTech*

    I don’t know if others remember me from a few months ago asking things. But I wanted to toot my own horn and say that I’m in grad school (for EdTech) and completed my first week.

    My only issues been trying to get into the sync of doing homework again. However, I realize why I’m dragging my feet on assignments: I’m not feeling like I’m being challenged. While this may change, I’ve been looking at the syllabus for all my classes. All of them are covering content I have learned.

    So question for the masses: what do I do to A) keep me working on a timeline and B) keep me interested in the content?

    1. SRB*

      I did my masters after a 3 year break and yeah, getting back into homework is tough.

      If it’s easy stuff, try to get into the mindset of doing it the day it’s assigned. When you have a small, easy task at work that will take 20, 30 minutes to do, do you just do it now to get it out of the way? Think of this the same way. I found that treating school like work made me much better at it than I had been in undergrad.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Just a general answer not very specific, sorry. When I feel unchallenged by a job/course/whatever, I tell myself that in itself becomes the challenge. Your challenge here is to stay on track even though it’s boring or mundane. Tell yourself that you have to do this as part of your overall goal and you do want your overall goal.
      Sometimes we don’t get to decide where our challenges are, the challenge pops up in a place we never expected. I have had a lot of jobs like this.

    3. azvlr*

      If your program is anything like mine, they hit you with the theory stuff right away. Boring, but you will use it! One class I dreaded had a professor who was absolutely passionate about the topic, so she made it very interesting.

      Carve out some time that is inflexible and don’t let others (or yourself) schedule other things during that time. And set expectations with your family ahead of time that you will be extra super busy at the end of semesters. No, I don’t hate you sweetie, you just to cook your own dinner tonight. Supportive loved ones will understand and give you some space to stress without wigging out themselves.

      May I ask what you plan to do with your degree? Welcome to the family!

    4. catsAreCool*

      Maybe make yourself a schedule and do a certain amount each day.

      Does it help if you think of this as “paying your dues” or “going through an initiation”? Sometimes this kind of thing is just the mud you have to walk through to get to what you want. In college, I had to take a number of classes I had no interest in, but I tried to think of them as more annoying obstacles to where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.

  57. Struggling with Church*

    Regular participant, hiding under another name today.

    I hope I can get some input on a church issue. I feel like I can ask these questions here, in this community, and get honest feedback and not ridicule for my belief in “an imaginary sky friend” as one person in my social circle calls God.

    I just don’t want to participate in church things any longer. I’ve been a member of the United Methodist Church for 36 years now, and a member of my current church for over 20 years. I am one of the youngest people at church; many of the members are 20-30 years older than me (70’s and 80’s and some pushing 90). The church is literally dying off. I have zero things in common with many of the members. I’m in the choir, and this has become a chore as well. The members are dwindling, and the ones who are left come and go whenever they feel like it, so on Sunday morning it’s always a surprise to see how many will be there. The results are not optimum, either, when you have people who don’t practice trying out songs for the first time in front of the congregation.

    Our pastor is a very nice man, but his sermons tend to drag on with endless historical references, and after about 30 minutes, my mind is thinking about other things because quite frankly, I get so lost I can’t even remember what the original point was. I spoke to a few of the other members, privately, and they are experiencing the same issue.

    I support our church’s mission, helping people in our community, working with the Salvation Army to provide lunch to hungry people, donating coats, blankets, helping with fuel oil purchases, putting together gift bags at Christmas for the inmates in our county lockup, making flood buckets (5 gallon buckets with cleaning supplies, clothes pins, clothes lines, etc to help clean up after a flood) and hygiene kits (towels, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, same situation),and I want to continue that because I feel strongly about serving and helping others, but as far as the rest of it, like sermons I feel I need to endure instead of learn from, I just don’t want to do it any longer. I no longer enjoy choir, but I do it because the director is my friend and I don’t want to let her down. I am on the audit committee, and it’s like herding cats to get the other two auditors in one place at one time to do the audit, and our suggestions go unheeded. The bookkeeping work is quite frankly a horror show. I just find myself dreading Sunday mornings now.

    Did any of you just quit or walk away from your church? How did you do it? What happened afterward?

    Thanks for listening and for any advice you have.

    1. SRB*

      When I was a kid, my family did the slow fade out of our Catholic Church, not because of anything religion, but just general goals, like you are mentioning.

      Try looking at other congregations in the area. If you are willing to look at other denominations, you may find that, while the specific beliefs are different, the mix of people there might really be the community minded folks you’re looking for. If you don’t suddenly want to disappear from your current place, maybe go to a new service once or twice a month in place of this one.

      I hate telling people to feel or not to feel a certain way, but you don’t need to feel guilty about leaving for a different church. You may inevitably feel that way (says the post-Catholic, from experience), but remember that you’re not leaving God or your faith or your desire to help others. Just this particular group of humans.

    2. Sparrow*

      If you’re dreading Sunday morning, I think it’s okay to leave and take a break. And maybe try out some new churches.

      When my husband and I were in our early 20s, we went to his family church. His uncle was the pastor, cousins were board members, and his sister in law also attended. The church was very traditional and as a young couple we wanted to change some things to bring in more people from the community. We tried to initiate life groups that met during the week instead of having Wednesday night be the only weekday option. We wanted to purchase some mailers from a marketing company to send out to the community. Everything was met with resistance.

      The pastor’s sermons were sometime downright confusing and many times, I left feeling uninspired and bored.

      We were met with so much resistance to any ideas of change that we decided to leave. The fact that it was family made it more complicated , mainly because of the guilt trip they laid on us. But leaving was the best thing. We found another church that we love and are much happier.

      The old church has a great children’s program and VBS, but honestly I’m not sure how great they’re doing with reaching out to adults.

    3. Sparrow*

      Also, there are still ways to serve your community without being tied to this church or any church. I know it’s tough to leave something after so many years, but from what I read it sounds like it’s time for a change. This shouldn’t be something you have to endure every Sunday. Hoping you are able find something that is better for you.

    4. Christy*

      I was a newer member of a congregation–for about a year–when I just stopped going to my church. I was able to just stop going, and nothing really happened. (I stopped because there was a string of substitute pastors who were not as gifted and it was inconvenient after I moved, but I’d managed the inconvenience before.

      How many friends from church do you see outside of church? If you don’t see them outside of church, I’d just ghost them and stop going one Sunday. Maybe talk to your choir director friend and say that you’re taking a break, and just never return. Same for the audit committee. It sounds like you could use the break.

    5. BRR*

      If you’re dreading Sunday mornings I think that’s a sign you need to look around. I’m not familiar with things but is it possible to be open with your pastor and say you’ve been feeling a little disconnected with the church and want to consider another congregation and ask if he has any suggestions? I would think the age thing at least would makes sense to others but also mentioning you would like a larger congregation if your’s is smaller or can you say you’d like a church closer to home?

      I would just start taking a look around and possible asking people you know where they attend. For the volunteering part, it might be possible to still volunteer with them but an annoyance of trying to explain politely why you left. If not would you be open to finding another way to volunteer regularly?

    6. Colette*

      I think it’s time to quit choir and the audit committee, at a minimum (and possibly look for another church that suits you better). People may get upset, but … that’s on them, and they probably won’t be as upset as you’re anticipating. It’s better to quit now than to struggle through for another year until you are more burnt out and bitter. You won’t be the first or last person to make a change.

    7. FatBigot*

      I empathize. Here in the UK we spend way too much time worrying about church buildings and not people. An old-fashioned building may look gorgeous, but is a pain to heat and maintain.

      Is there anyone in your church in whom you can confide? Have you asked your pastor whether there is anyone who wants to get more involved, who could take over your audit work?

      Is the pastor the only person who preaches? Can you get guest preachers in? Can you ask your pastor to put bullet points up on the projector as he preaches (“It’s not you, it’s me, I’m having a terrible time concentrating, but some simple visuals would really help me…”)?

      You phrase the question as if you are single, but if not then obviously your partner and any children need to be consulted. Do they go to church? Do they feel the same way? Even if they do not go to church, are they worried about how much you are being drained?

      At the end of the day, if you are not being nourished but are only attending due to what is effectively loyalty to the club, then you have to do what is best for you.

      I must add that I find myself humbled by the imagination and effort that goes into the humanitarian work your church does.

    8. fposte*

      Definitely agree with looking elsewhere. It’s *a*church. It doesn’t have to be *the* church. Have you seen shipoffools dot com? It’s focused on the UK, but it has reviews of churches worldwide. I realize you may already know what your alternatives are, but I 1) like the site and 2) think maybe the reviews would put you in the frame of mind to contemplate investigating.

    9. Observer*

      Audit committee – If you are in an area with resources for board development, especially training boards on governance and appropriate fiscal oversight and or resources for development of fiscal management overall, reach out to them. If not, or if that doesn’t work, get off the board. The IRS tends to leave churches alone, but if you really can’t get any sort of appropriate fiscal management in place, you could be facing a liability as a board member. So, not only frustrating, but a small but real risk to you.

      As for the rest, can you launch some sort of outreach program to get some new blood into the congregation? Create some new activities that would help draw new people in, or even encourage existing members to show up? And, has anyone spoken to the pastor about his sermons?

      If none of that works, why not join a different congregation?

    10. Elizabeth West*

      I gradually stopped going to church (Roman Catholic) over time, mostly because I don’t agree with many of the edicts of my childhood faith. I still consider myself Catholic, since I went through milestone sacramental rituals–First Communion, Confirmation, Penance, etc.–but my relationship with God is waaaay more loosey-goosey than that. For example, I see Jesus more like Buddy Christ than a “godlike” figure. I’m 99% sure he laughs at all his memes and facepalms a lot over stuff. (This portrayal of God made it into Tunerville, and I’m dying to get that published. I’m sure it will ruffle a few feathers, but I don’t really care.) I’m pretty sure God doesn’t mind me as I am, as long as I’m not an asshole.

      I think maybe you need a new church. Look around your community and visit a few others, see what their congregations are like. If you can’t find anything in your area, it’s okay not to go; I doubt God cares as much as other people do about strict attendance. You can still continue to volunteer either directly with the organisation or with others and find fellowship that way. :)

    11. Not So NewReader*

      In my church, the pastor pointed out that between the ages of 20 and 40 something a lot of people leave their churches. To me this kind of makes sense, they are building careers, families and homes. However, middle age sets in and family members pass away, friends pass away. Other things happen and people start searching for answers for what they see around them. This is when they circle back to church. So this kind of explains why you see the ages you do at your church.

      From what you are saying here, I think you would be interested in a church that has more relevant topics, things that people are wondering about or facing in their daily lives. (Not necessarily controversial stuff but stuff that is real and actually part of their lives.) It’s perfectly fine to look around and visit other churches. And it’s pretty normal to be scared/nervous about doing this, too. You are looking for a new home church, it’s a big deal.

      OTH, maybe you want to take a break from going to church. I have. Well, I have been having back problems, I just cannot sit. Even reading here, I will get up every 20 minutes or so. This will pass and I will get back on track in a bit. Likewise you could decide just to take some down time and look for a new home church later.

      If it’s any help, my aunt did the books for a church. It was a nightmare as the pastor was a hands-off kind of guy. She never knew if there was enough money to pay the bills. It really fried her. She had to leave. Like you indicate here, her’s was a big story, also.
      At her next church, she chose to do other activities such as working with kids. She stayed away from the money. She also chose a church that had several services. Each one was a different style. One service was loud/lively music. Another service was calm and peaceful. There were other styles. So she tried each type and picked one. Yeah, she picked the loud lively music with people dancing in the aisle. ;)
      In her former church, she did a lot of caretaking. in her second church, she allowed herself to be taken care of and she took care of others. That was a difference too.

      My aunt just quit the church. She went a few times to a new church first and decided to start going there. She told her friends at the old church, but just the ones that she knew would handle the conversation and have some thing of value to say. The church itself never called her or set her a letter- nothing happened there. She never found out what happened to the books that were in bad shape and she never heard what happened to that hands-off pastor.

      I quit my childhood church decades ago. Nothing happened. No one even noticed I left. That confirmed my choice to leave.

    12. cuppa*

      I am just starting to go back to Mass after falling off the wagon for a while. I’ve struggled a lot with this the past couple of years. I was at a church that I enjoyed, but over time I began not to enjoy it as much. The pastor that I liked left, the choir that I liked left, and church started to feel lonely. I’m now going back to the Church that I started at when I first moved here – I left it because it was too full and there were too many kids and it felt like a hassle — now a few years later, that’s exactly why I’m back… it feels more like a community to me (also, Mass is an hour later and I can sleep in a little).
      My point is, I think you need different things in different times in your life, and that is ok (at least to me). I definitely think that you are not alone. Good luck!

    13. Belle diVedremo*

      Your experience is not uncommon, know that you aren’t alone in it.
      I have a bunch of questions to offer, perhaps some of them will be useful.

      Short version:
      What do you most miss?
      What do you long for?
      What are you called to, and how might you do it?

      Long version:
      What do you seek from a religious community?
      What aspects of your spiritual life are easily maintained alone, which need community?
      What kind of community support do you seek for your spiritual life/growth?
      Are there groups, within this church or elsewhere, where individuals gather to discuss, pray, serve in ways that appeal to you and that might join?
      If you were to ask some of the others in your church to join you once a week what might you want from those gatherings? Read the lectionary, or other spiritual writings and discuss them together? Devel0p a plan for a prayer cycle, with a weekly discussion of how that’s going for each of you? Hymn singing? Etc.
      What are you doing to take care of yourself and your own spiritual life?
      Have you considered looking for a spiritual director, to find support in discerning what you seek, what you are called to, and what next steps might be?

      Does the service work you participate in have a spiritual component for you?
      Do other local faith based organizations do similar work in ways that would be easy for you participate in?
      Eg, Salvation Army would be glad to have your continued help with lunches, etcs.
      Would you be comfortable doing such work outside a faith based organization?
      Would you be comfortable doing such work and adding a private spiritual dimension? Eg, a friend works for Habitat for Humanity, and prays silently over the tools and buckets of paint asking that they serve the work and help bring light & joy into the world and the lives of those being helped (volunteers and new home owners alike).

      Where else might you sing?
      How else might lifting up your voice feel like service and joy?
      Is singing, just to sing in a committed choir, enough?

      Blessings on your journey.

    14. TootsNYC*

      Church is one thing.
      Faith is another.

      Church is supposed to serve and strengthen faith. It creates a community of people who make us feel stronger, and help us understand how God’s will and His love fits in our lives.

      This group isn’t doing that anymore. And actually it’s not your responsibility (nor is it your ability) to create that. You are not the Holy Spirit.

      I think you should try to find another place to worship. Maybe just decide it’s OK of you’re one of the choir people who doesn’t show up one Sunday, and try out a new place.

      Or, maybe stop going for a month, and start talking to people about their faith and their church. See if there’s some energy you like, and seek it out.

      I’m a Lutheran–and not just a Lutheran, but a Missouri Synod Lutheran, which means I was carefully taught what the difference in theology is between my denomination and other churches. Because of that, I don’t know that I could join a different denomination, because I still hold to those differences in belief.
      I don’t know if you have any strongly held distinctions that matter to you–it’s something to explore.

  58. Apollo Warbucks*

    I’ve never been a member of a church but my granny and granddad are active members of their local church and they left the church they had attended for a long time because they didn’t like the new vicar and a number of changes he was making and they’ve been happy with the move. Could you look at joining another congregation?

    I would certainly consider standing down from the audit committee if it’s not proving constructive or worth while being part of it and scaling back your involvement in the church might help you feel less frustrated with other aspects of the community.

  59. Carmen Sandiego JD*

    So this is different from my last post. Medical Mystery of sorts. (SLIGHT TMI**)

    Location: middle of the palm of one hand
    What: 5-6 tiny bumps, clear, no itchiness, nothing, no redness
    Situation: I got a tiny cut in the middle of the palm of the hand as I was lifting 50 pound luggage (with said hand). Days later, I noticed the 5-6 bumps around that tiny cut.
    Why I’m concerned: there seems to be another tiny bump forming (is it slowly spreading)? I had a friend look at it and he said it just looked like calluses but is this normal? I’m kind of trying not to panic/stress…(but I kinda am, plus life’s been kinda stressful recently). I just really hope its just calluses and not, like, staph, or fungal something.

    Do I just leave it alone and hope it fades?

    1. Colette*

      I see two options:
      – go to the doctor, or
      – wait and see

      If it’s causing you a lot of worry, go to the doctor, if that’s a possibility. If not, you can probably wait a few days to see if it gets better or worse (assuming there’s no redness or swelling).

    2. mondegreen*

      (Not a doctor, just an accident-prone person)

      I’ve gotten what one might call tiny “pressure blisters” from lifting and carrying heavy stuff in the past, and they looked like what you’re describing. I’d put some Neosporin on the cut and take a photo of your hand now for later comparison, but absent some sort of significant change, redness, or stiffness, it doesn’t sound alarming.

      1. fposte*

        Right, redness, heat, and pain are the likeliest signs of infection. Absent those, they’re likely to be one of a million kinds of bumps humans are prone to.

        And a skin infection isn’t that big a deal–nothing to panic about even if you had gotten one.

    3. Samantha*

      My husband recently had a staph infection in his arm and it doesn’t sound like that’s what you’re dealing with. He had one little bump that looked like a pimple at first, but over the course of just a couple days became extremely inflamed, red, and painful. Unless you experience any of those symptoms I wouldn’t worry about it.

  60. Allison*

    I hurt my ankle fairly bad on Thursday (Thank God I don’t have to have surgery). However, I am going to have my have my leg casted once the swelling goes down (sometime this week).

    The current plan of action is 6weeks in a full leg cast (which is a slight misnomer as it will only cover 3/4s of my thigh) and 4 more in a short cast (stops just below my knee) and then a boot until I regain strength in my leg. I’ll be on crutches for 10 weeks or so.

    I live alone, but my best friend and former roommate lives in the same building (we graduated in May). Does anyone have any tips on surviving this?

    1. Schmitt*

      Oh, sure! (See above for my tale of ankle woe).

      If your cast is thin enough for it to be worth it, order those flexible gel ice packs. I got some which can also be used as heat packs, which is handy.

      You’ll be able to carry small items in a bag hanging from the crutches or a backpack. But food is hard. If you don’t have a place to sit and eat in your kitchen, you may need to carry your food in tupperware and sippy cups.

      I had achy joint pain in my hip and knee on the uninjured side from taking the full weight. Also wrist strain. It /did/ all go away again once I could put weight on both legs.

      Clear off your floors! Don’t do like I did and put your crutch on the edge of a blanket in the pre-dawn dimness and land smack on the damaged foot! After that, I started wearing my contacts 24/7, which I should have been doing all along. (My brand of contacts is OK for this.)

      Oh, and if you get your blood drawn from your arm while you are one-legged on crutches, insist on sitting and waiting and pressing on the cotton ball until it is not bleeding anymore. I didn’t think about this and had a mini-massacre running down my arm just from the short path from the dr’s office to the car.

      1. Allison*

        Thanks…from your comments, it sounds like crutches were worse than the actual cast…is that correct? I’ll definitely look into the gel packs once I get the cast and find out how thick it will be.

        How big was your cast?

        1. Schmitt*

          I had a half-cast because it was an open break, so I didn’t get any of the famed cast itchiness or anything – mine got unwrapped weekly for check-ups and I sat at the doctor’s office unashamedly itching off the dead skin ;)

          The crutches are awkward and limiting, so planning how to arrange your life around them was more difficult, for me, than dealing with the pain (pills, ice packs, and sleeping a lot!).

          Oh, don’t forget to order a shower stool!

    2. Mimmy*

      An (almost) full leg cast for a broken ankle? Yikes!! No advice, but sending both you and Schmitt lots of healing vibes!!

      1. Allison*

        Thanks…I didn’t actually break it. I tore a tendon which my doctor said is a worse injury.

        They gave me the option of surgery, and avoid the larger cast but I decided against it.

    3. Former Diet Coke Addict*

      My mom has been in and out of casts and on crutches all damn year. Her tips:

      Yes, clear a path! Don’t leave stuff lying around that will catch on your crutches and end in disaster.

      Streamline things in your house. Put chairs places you might not normally have them–chair in the kitchen to wash dishes and cook from (sort of), chair in the bedroom to get dressed from (if your bed is at an awkward height it isn’t always great to sit on it to get dressed).

      Think two or three steps ahead when doing stuff. If you’re bathing, be sure you have not only your towel there but your lotion or dressings or fresh clothes or whatever it is right there so you don’t have to hobble around to get it. Same with cooking–get your things all together to save you hopping around for something you forgot halfway through.

      Look into getting a handicapped placard for your car if you drive, a temporary one. It’s hellish to try to cross a long parking lot on crutches.

      Once you’re more mobile and in a boot, look into a knee scooter. They’re fantastic for saving energy and trying to cross distances like, say, the grocery store, or the mall.

      1. Schmitt*

        My sympathies to your mother.

        A chair to get out of our raised shower was also helpful. Actually while I was still in the cast I sat on the shower stool, propped my cast up on the chair outside with pillows to get it high enough that water wouldn’t run in, and closed the curtains around my leg.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      When I broke my foot a few years ago, I was living alone. When I was told I’d need to be non-weight-bearing for three months, I asked the doctor what people do if they live alone in that situation. He said, “Move in with family.” (I may or may not have burst into tears in that moment, by the way.)

      I did not move in with family.

      Here’s what I did:

      – Hired a service to come three times a week for a couple of hours to do all the things I couldn’t do without difficulty: get my mail, do the laundry, vacuum, change the cat litter, empty the dishwasher, etc. The service I used was mainly for older people who have trouble getting around, but they were perfect for me.

      – Made heavy use of Peapod and other delivery services for groceries, etc.

      – Bought one of these (originally recommended by a commenter here) — SO MUCH EASIER THAN CRUTCHES:
      (And you can get a basket for it to carry things!)

      – Got used to asking for help. I felt really weird and uncomfortable about it at first, but people really are happy to help and it’s good to just let them.

      – Cast covers for showering:

      – Shower chair if you can’t stand in the shower:

      – Leg elevator:

      A thing I wish I had known:

      – The sooner you start physical therapy, the better. They probably won’t send you until your cast is off, but my physical therapist told me later that it would have been much better to see her earlier on, because a lot of the problems I had re-learning to walk came from having been so immobile for three months. She could have given me exercises to do while I was still in the cast that would have made things easier later on. Talk to a physical therapist sooner rather than later, even if your doctor isn’t formally sending you to one yet.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Just have to say, Peapod is awesome!!! I tend to use it most around the holidays or when I have family coming and I’m busy de-catting the house. Big stress-reliever! And I find that they’re produce tends to be better than what’s in the store.

      2. Allison*

        Thanks for the tips…I’ve already figured out it is going to be hard living alone. Luckily, my best friend lives in the same building and has agreed to help me with grocery shopping, taking the trash out, etc.

        I’ve already started looking at scooters and am definitely going to get one once I get the smaller cast. I don’t think I will be able to use one with the first cast since it cover most of my leg, including my knee. :(

        I hadn’t thought about seeing a physical therapist before getting out of my cast but I will see what he thinks at my appointment this week.

      3. Allison*

        Although, maybe I could ask my doctor if he could cast my knee at 90 degrees so I could use a scooter instead of crutches.

        I guess it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

        1. schnapps*

          Up here in the great white north, the Red Cross has a medical equipment loan service – they will loan out things like toilet seats, shower chairs, wheelchairs, etc so you don’t have to buy them. You might want to contact them – they’ll come and set up the equipment for you. The equipment loan is usually free, but for set up it’s a small fee/donation.

          1. Former Diet Coke Addict*

            In a lot of places in the States, local groups will have these–Nurses’ Closet or Lending Closet or Loan Closets. Usually local eldercare groups or hospitals will have information on these, and they can be a great lifesaver.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      I said this to a friend recently, I thought it was widely known but I guess not, she said it was helpful.

      When going up or down stairs the rule is: Up with the Good and Down with the Bad. (I think of heaven and hell- good is up, bad is down.) What this means is if you are going UP a flight of stairs the first foot you put on that first stair is your good foot. Then you bring your bad foot up to that step beside the good foot. Repeat. Put your good foot on the next stair and bring your bad foot up beside it. Repeat. Yes, this takes a minute to do but you can navigate stairs this way successfully.

      For going down the stairs it’s the opposite ( remember bad is down). Put your bad foot on the next stair down. Bring your good foot down and put it on the step beside your bad foot. Repeat. Put you bad foot on the next step and bring your good foot down beside it.

      Of course, hang on to the hand rail when you move on stairs, no matter which direction you are going.

  61. Rachel*

    Never commented before but I need to talk about how im feeling and I feel like my family and friends deserve a break from it! Im 20 and have just moved abroad for a year abroad as part of my degree. I’ve been here two weeks and am really struggling, but I don’t know whether to keep trying and persevering or whether to go home and chalk it up to experience.

    1. fposte*

      I think it’s pretty normal for you to be struggling at this stage. Is there a language barrier, and are there any countrymates at the school or in town that you could lean on for a bit?

      1. Rachel*

        I am studying the language and can get by but it isn’t my native language. Yeah there are people here who I know slightly, I think i’m just finding it hard being away from my support network of family and my really close friends.

          1. fposte*

            I really like this. Rachel, I’m not saying that it would be terrible to decide not to do this, but right now your reasons are strongly related to the newness of the situation. Basically, this is hard right now–no argument. But you’ve done hard things before, and I think you’ll find a lot of value from persevering through this. Also, reach out to the people you don’t know very well yet–you may well find that some of them are still finding their feet too. One of the “network of you” skills is, paradoxically, the ability to make new friends and friendly contacts–knowing you can build when you need to is a great reassurance.

            1. nep*

              fposte, we seem to see a lot of things the same way. As I was sending off my initial comment, I was thinking — perhaps one finds out living abroad is not the right thing. That would be a completely legitimate decision, indeed. But best to make such a decision only after one has given it more time. And there is much value in persevering and discovering what there is to discover, for however long one stays on. Good luck to you, Rachel.

        1. ananon for the weekend*

          My sister felt like this after moving to a foreign country 12 years ago. She struggled for the first 3-4months.

          She’s still there now and very happy.

          Give it a bit of time, but also, if it gets totally unbearable, it’s OK to leave.

          good luck!

      1. Rachel*

        I think it probably is mostly homesickness so i’m trying to just keep going and do as long as I can.

    2. nep*

      Only two weeks — That’s minuscule in the scheme of things (even though it might seem like an eternity given what you’re facing). You’ve got to give it time. This can be a hugely gratifying experience in countless ways. I’d encourage you not to let the learning curve and the struggles of early days defeat you. You’re in it, you’re doing it — persevere. Consistency and persistence trump everything. Wishing you all the best. Please keep us posted.

    3. INTP*

      This is totally normal. It’s not something people like to talk about – all the dialogue about study abroad is It was the best time of my life! I never wanted to go home! Only uncultured xenophobes want to speak English while they’re abroad! But it’s very, very common to have a very rough time, especially at the start.

      Unpopular suggestion, but if you don’t already, I’d suggest meeting up with friends from your native language and culture every so often. It’s just nice to communicate without having to think about translating everything, and feel validated by the fact that they’re having a rough time with the same strange (to you) customs that you are.

      Otherwise, I would give it at least a month before making any rash decisions. Give yourself time to fall into a daily routine and find the things in the new culture that you like better than home.

    4. Apollo Warbucks*

      Two weeks is no time at all, see how you feel in three months. If you hate it then there’s no point forcing yourself to stay but maybe with more time you’ll be able to settle in better and start to enjoy it.

    5. Rachel*

      Thank you all for your comments, you’ve raised some interesting points and I do like the idea of developing the network of me. I’m not going to rush into any decisions about staying or going because I know it is early to choose, I’m going to give it more time and see if things improve.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Rachel, does your school offer any help with this? If it takes international students, it should have some kind of office or group for them. If there is not a formal one, then maybe check around for an informal meetup. I’m quite sure you’re not alone.

        I wish I’d done this when I was in school. Good luck, and I’m sure you’ll adjust. :)

    6. Art Education*

      I spent the first few days jetlagged and sleeping all day, and that was followed by culture shock and feeling constantly overwhelmed before I adjusted. At the end of two weeks I was *starting* to feel like a person.

      Give it time, stay in touch with Team You, and try to get to know other study abroad students. One of my favorite things that I did with other study abroad students was get together and make comfort food from home. We would bring laptops to play English-language music and TV shows, too. Really little things like that made a difference.

      1. Art Education*

        I actually wrote this while taking a break from cleaning my closet, and when I went back to cleaning, the first thing I found was my study abroad handbook.

        Here is what it says about adjusting and dealing with culture shock and loneliness:
        -Keeping busy and setting goals is important.
        -Use a journal or blog to talk about what’s happening.
        -Plan things with other international students.
        -Your host school might have a group for international students.
        -Your “home” school might be able to get you in touch with students who studied at the same place.
        -Bring along familiar things or have friends/family mail things like magazines, DVDs, or news.

      2. nep*

        Good points.
        I used to watch Seinfeld on my laptop when I’d start feeling overwhelmed. Helped a lot. Laughs, and my mother tongue.

    7. Cruciatus*

      You will learn so much about yourself during this trip! You mention your friends and family deserve a break from it and I never want to tell you not to keep in touch–but you may need to try contacting them less. When I was abroad I actually only wrote emails once in a while (roughly once a week) and just posted to everyone on Facebook. Someone once offered me a chance to talk with my family back home on the phone for very cheap but I knew if I actually heard their voices I might become a mess. By keep talking to them about how you’re struggling, you may be keeping up the vicious circle of missing them. Maybe they talk about the cool thing they are doing that you wanted to do and then you end up thinking how you wish you were at home instead of focusing on the cool stuff YOU could be doing. I’m not saying drop them! But try focusing on what you are doing and the cool thing you can tell them about next time you talk/write. Maybe you visited a grocery store and, isn’t this hilarious–they have canned octopus! (True story from my time in Germany). Maybe while you were visiting a museum you discovered X and Y about the area you’re living in. Or maybe you went on an outing with a bunch of international students and the only language you all shared was whichever one you’re learning and it was so funny when everyone started playing charades to get their points across!

      Over time I’ll bet you’ll feel more comfortable about the weirdness of studying abroad and I’ll bet you’ll be sad to go home once it’s over (I know I was)! I hope I made sense–keep in touch with people of course, but maybe take a step back from it and try to only focus on things you’ve done/are going to do instead of being upset being away from home. (Easier said than done, I’m sure).

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Great advice here.
        One clue I see is that you are asking. If this was totally the wrong decision for you, it would never occur to you to ask. You’d just pack your bags and get out of there. This means you are still at the stage where you are asking yourself, “did I try hard enough?”. That can mean different levels to different people, but it seems like you may not have hit your own standard of “trying hard” yet.
        Set a time frame. Two months? I don’t know what makes sense for your setting. But set a time frame and decide, “I am going to run at this with everything I have got. At the end of x period, if I still feel this way, I am going home. NO ifs, ands or buts, I am out of here.”

        Added bonus: Sometimes just knowing there is an escape hatch changes the whole picture.

  62. Dynamic Beige*

    What’s your favourite trick for getting yourself motivated? Aside from the last minute, since that’s how I usually operate!

    1. nep*

      Motivated to do something in particular?
      Keep in mind, motivation is effective but it’s fleeting. Commitment means you’ll be consistent and do something even in the moments you don’t really feel like it or have that immediate-term motivation.
      But I’d like to hear more about when/where you need motivation.